Finding A Corner To Hide In

A friend of mine has a saying he uses, “At the end of the day.”  Guess that is where I am tonight, at the end of my day and I am wondering what it is that I am doing wrong, which base I did not cover and pondering what all the other poor folks are doing tonight.

I did not read the paper today, nor did I find myself turning on the news.  Nothing in my email box, all my messages were shunted off and ignored.  So I guess it is time to face the music.  I am not making any more efforts to email people who seem to never find time to reply.   Not gonna pick up the telephone and reach out, to check and insure that the person on the other end of the line, is still in fact, alive.

Mostly, I am just gonna sit here and think about days like this.

Why is it that there are times in life, when a man’s soul cries out for some kind of recognition, that he indeed has worth.  What is it in our makeup from birth until the day we die, that we need approval of others, and we seek it with complete abandon.  What is it about the human spirit that requires attention in the form of companionship in order to survive?

And in the end … We are simply ignored.

Today I sit and I ponder this question, and as usual, I have no easy quick answer.  I don’t understand why it is that despite every good deed, every honest effort, each conscious move to improve my lot in life, I always seem to fall just a tad bit short of the mark.  Most generally, despite my honest and generous efforts, I do not succeed.  Much to my chagrin, at the end of the day, I find myself, as on most days, alone.

Not fully understanding why people are the way they are, I stumble upon them each day and try to make my mark, to fit in, to be a good member of the tribe.  I reach out to them in kindness, in conversation, to try and do my best to find some common ground, a link for which we might meet and agree.  But it never seems to happen.

Week after week, I just cannot seem to find the elbow room at the table.

Another thing that confuses me to no end, is why after each and every missed adventure, do I continue to try and do my best.  When I know most certainly that any and all efforts will be in vain.  Almost like the small lad on the end of the diving board, yelling out to his inattentive father, “Watch me.  Watch me!” searching in vain for a small ray of approval.  Ironically we start early in life seeking out some kind of validation, however small it might be.

No matter how I try, I can never seem to measure up.  What is it deep in the wellspring of my being, that keeps bringing me back to the source of my apparent discontent.  Over and over, I make the long trip down the path, only to find nothing to quench my thirst.  If baffles me, why I even bother?

You can walk on the water, you can walk on the moon, you can walk thru Memphis wearing blue suede shoes, when the walking is over and you find yourself at the end of the road.  It isn’t gonna matter what it is that you done, or who it is that you know.  The mailbox is empty, the telephone does not ring, and the doorbell is silent.  In a day of mass communication of every form imaginable, I find myself alone and wondering.

And I suppose I die just a little bit deep inside.


Kampin World

The monkey loves brown rice, he knows that if he reaches into the tube and puts his hand in the plate for the brown rice, he is going to get shocked, but he does this, time after time. Why?

Because like I said, the monkey never learns and of course … he loves brown rice.

It is hot, very hot and traffic is bad.  I hate coming to the city, I hate it even more when I get stuck there for “rush hour.”  Which is a misnomer if I ever heard of one, why it is called “rush hour” when everyone moves at a very slow pace, is simply beyond me.

Walking into the dead as a graveyard Camping World store, I search in vain for two things I am looking for.  One is some kind of help, there seems to be none available, and the other is the item I came to purchase to begin with.  A little 12 volt rocker switch on a chrome plate.

After a little searching I locate high up on a rack four little 12 volt rocker arm switches on chrome plates, $5.00 and some change (each).  I grab two and head for the checkout.  At the checkout, I find no one there to take my money, so I patiently stand there, fish out some singles from my pocket and then I hear a voice say “I can help you over here.”

Turning and looking in the direction of the voice, I spy a rather portly heavy set woman at a service counter, motioning me to come her way.  She wants me to come over to her, I guess so she won’t have to waddle over to my location to do the sale.

She takes the two items from me and says, “Are you a member of the President’s club?” and I reply, “No.”  She then says, “Would you like to join?” and I reply, “No.”  She then says, “it could save you a LOT of money, if you were to join.”  I then for the third time say to her, “I am not interested.”

She then rings up the two items and barks at me, “telephone number and zip code.”  So I say to her, “What for?”  She says it is “required, and we need it.”  So I say, “No.”  (Which incidentally, I am getting really good at here lately.)  She then says, rather sternly this time, “telephone number and zip code.”

I then ask her a question, I say to her, “Is the word PLEASE in your vocabulary?”

This doesn’t make rather large woman very happy and she tells me flat out … “You will not get these items unless you supply me with a telephone number and a zip code!”  To which I replied, “People in hell want ice water, and YOU know what you can do with those two switches dontcha?”

I then turned, exited the store and left with her standing there holding the two items I went in there to fetch.  So, who is the clear cut winner here?  Not Kampin World, no sale for them, clearly not myself (I did not get the item I wanted).  This has happened before, but for some strange reason, I always go back for but one more dose of it.  Somehow believing things might have improved during my self-imposed exile.  But they never do.

As Clinton Eastwood is quoted as saying “Go Ahead Make My Day.”

Another Brain-Dead member of the species with opposing thumbs has been located.  This is a prime example of why Kamping World is in the dumper and going down the tubes, crap like this.  Lousy service and prices to match.  As I know it is frowned upon in some circles “to tell the truth about some of these vendors” so I will stop right here.

Moral of the story …….

All I had to do was tell her 525-00** (which is Dial A Prayer in Oklahoma City) and I doubt if she would have known the difference, just given her 94580 (my sister’s house in San Lorenzo, California) and I would have had the two switches.

But no …. You see the monkey never learns.

Kinda like what Dr. Phil sez …. “Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy?”  I guess I am just too old or too cranky to play the game anymore.  Now if you excuse me, I am going out to the shop, find me some trash aluminum and build my own switch and switch plates and the rest of it is history.

Every day in life is a learning process.  Some days are diamonds and some days are stone (from the song with the same lyric’s … child of the sixties, what can I say?)  Today I learned my lesson about Kamping World, and this during the television mandatory cooling off period:

According to PBS … When you drink Vodka over ice, it can give you kidney failure,  when you drink Rum over ice, it can give you liver failure, when you drink whiskey over ice, it can give you heart problems, and finally, when you drink Gin over ice, it can give you brain problems.

Apparently, ice is really bad for you.  Warn all your friends to stay outta Kampin World and lay off the ice.  Having documented my distaste and dissatisfaction with the entire mess, I will now cease to vent.

Have A Good Week.


Tone Editor

I stumbled across this quite by accident, and thought I would share it with you.

Apparently there’s a new feature available for certain email software programs called ToneCheck. This works much like spell-check, except rather than correcting your misspelling of “recommend” and overlooking the fact that you wrote “you’re” when you meant to write “your,” ToneCheck highlights content which exceeds some kind of preset filter for negative (or exceedingly positive) emotions such as anger, sadness, resentment, elation, etc.

ToneCheck was released as a plug-in with Microsoft Outlook in July, and will “allow for personal variations in tone, gauge a sentence’s level of emotional ambiguity and offer suggestions for revision.” A few have suggested on other internet sites, that “the tone of my posts” should be a little less intense and so forth, so in my case, it might be a good idea.

Now please note, I just saw this, I have not personally tried it.  I don’t know if this link feature will work here or not, but it might be worth giving it a shot.  Click on TONE CHECK  if you want to see it in action.  Like most Americans “I have the right to remain silent” but seldom exercise that right.  Which of course often brings me grief from the word police or some administrators/moderators.  It might be a good idea for me to purchase this thing and try it out … Who knows, might cut some of you some slack in the process.

As they say …. “You deserve a break today.”

It could be a good deal and then it might be a total waste of money.  I can’t decide if this is really terrific, or laughingly absurd. We’ve all sent an email we’ve almost immediately wished we could unsend (the only thing I miss about AOL), we’ve all cringed at our own words when they come back to us at the bottom of a reply, many of us have probably adopted the if-I-write-it-when-I’m-upset-angry-bitterly-disappointed-resentful-stark-raving-mad-I’ll-wait-for-24-hours-before-sending-it policy.

But can we really expect a software program to be able to recognize the subtleties and intricacies of adult communication?

I guess the assistance of an objective “third party” giving us a virtual nudge and asking “are you sure you want to say it that way?” wouldn’t be a bad thing. I could always choose to ignore it. Maybe someone should develop a real-life version, something along the size of a digital recorder, which we can speak into for feedback before saying what we REALLY think at the next posting or meeting.  Now I am not sure it would work on a bus board or Internet site, but it might be worth investingating.  Any of you techno Geeks want to volunteer?



This is going to be a little bit hard to write, without sounding like “so much sour grapes” but I am going to give it a shot anyway.

We ate Chinese today, there is a little place on the south side of town, been eating there for 15-20 years.  We have watched the owners’ children grow up, go thru school and on to college, seen the place change decor a couple of times over the years.  We have been good, steady customers of this nice small restaurant for quite a long time.

Because we had moved to the country, we had not eaten there in a couple of years, and as luck would have it, today we found ourselves there in the midst of the lunch crowd at a little booth in the back of the room.  The food as always was super and we were hungry so it made for a good mix.  In some ways, it was almost like before, old home week, call it what you want.

Except for one thing, and that is this.

“No one in the room was speaking English, the entire restaurant had been taken over by people of Mexican and/or Hispanic origin.  And no one was speaking the King’s English.  Which is, if you are like me, a person who doesn’t speak the language or understand Spanish, well, it was just a lot of noise.  Unfortunately, it kind of took away from the meal and it was upsetting.”

It appears that I am now officially in the minority in this country, a white, tax paying member of society.  I am also slowly but surely being run out or pushed aside by more than one race of people who were not born here.  Mexican’s and Asian’s are now the two fastest growing segments of our society in America.  They are also a lot different from what I am used to.

The Mexicans are proud of their country, culture and lifestyle and try to preserve it as much as possible even when they are living anywhere other than Mexico. The Mexican Americans however don’t have to make much effort as the neighboring countries have quite a lot in common.

So, the Mexican American culture is a blend of the culture of both countries, while distinctly being Mexican. This cultural blend stands out amongst many other ethnic groups living in the USA.  Now on the other hand, the American Culture, such as it is, fragmented, diverse, and very much mixed, doesn’t stand much of a chance of survival in this day and age.

Mexicans while very big on family life (the center of their culture really) are doing well and thriving.  While on the American side of the scale, they are divorcing in record numbers and the family unit is quickly disappearing in this country.

A lot of these people are being provided benefits for free, all they had to do is show up.  I had to serve six years in the military in order to qualify for some of mine (the very few I have left).  Most of us had to go to school, graduate and learn a skill before going to work.  All they had to do is cross what was or is basically an open border.  The truly sad thing is the way they are exploited by those who hold the purse strings, and often, entered into almost involuntary servitude (wage slavery) by American businessmen.

Only a few pay taxes, in my home state only one in five bother to purchase car insurance, they quickly sign up for social programs and assistance, not only for themselves, but their entire family.  In other words, they don’t play by the rules, take more than they give back.  Now I know that sounds harsh, but it is a proven reality in this country and has been this way for a long time.

You know, if you take a frog and dump him in a pot of hot water, he will jump right out.  But take the same frog, place him in a pan of cold water, then apply the heat slowly just a little at a time, and he will stay in the pot until he dies.


“Because you changed his environment, a little bit at a time, not all at once.”

Same thing here.  Inch by inch, slowly but surely, the fabric of this country is being re-arranged.  The signage is slowly shifting to Spanish first and English second, one milepost at a time, this country is going down the tubes (the America that I grew up in and loved).

Today, while sitting in this noisy crowded little restaurant it came home to haunt me.  I am slowly becoming a stranger in my own land, and of course, I resent it.  This is no longer an immigration issue, this is colonization of a country, plain and simple.

And I honestly feel I have to wonder about this one simple fact of life.

In the end, will there be any room left for me?



Pour Me Another

Last night, the wife is following me around, ragging me about an open window on the bus.  The turnpike window is open, it is open for a reason, “it is 108* outside and I don’t want to blow the windshields out of the thing, while sitting in the sun.  So I opened a window and a vent.”  This has disturbed her balance in the Universe and she feels compelled to tell me about it.

She is disturbed about this window, so she follows me around “commenting” on it.  She is worried it is going to rain, when was the last time that happened, April?  She says a fly is going to get inside.  She has (in her head) a million valid reasons why THAT window ought to be closed and she is determined that I be the one to close it.

And I think two things.

(1)  Why doesn’t she close the window?
(2)  I need a drink.

It has been a confusing and somewhat trying week here at the Goat Farm.  Unfortunately, help is not on the way.  I think that guy at the beanery the other day that told me that Jack Daniels Black Label was good for depression might have been pulling my leg or something?

Drinking isn’t all that good for you come to think of it.  Still, why don’t addicts stop using when it begins to destroy their lives?  To understand that, we need to look briefly at how the brain’s pleasure center functions.  We like to feel good.  We enjoy music, the company of people with whom we feel a connection, good food, a drink now and then, maybe a hit or a line or two.  We enjoy sex, which feels good and satisfies our instinctive desire to bond intimately with another human.  We like to win at sports and other games.

We get a thrill when we hunt.  Our survival instincts are deeply involved with the pleasure center, which gives us positive reinforcement for survival-oriented behavior such as making friendships (allies), winning at games (and war), and successful competition in the arena of business.  It pleases us immensely when we enter into the uncommon realm of being lucky.  Kind of like finding a used drop box or a over-sized copper-cored-radiator at a bargain price.

We enjoy these good feelings and emotions for themselves, but they also provide a welcome change from the unpleasant aspects of daily living.  Insurance, taxes, alimony, cable TV, teenagers, the electric company in late August.  Running wire runs under the bus, polishing wheels, stopped up fuel filters, slow-poke Okies on the Interstate,giving an eight mile turn signal, motoring along at a brisk 49 MPH in the fast lane.

Many other activities, such as shopping and gambling, provide pleasure, thrills, and distractions from our humdrum lives.  All of these activities are rewarded by the pleasure center, and eventually we may find that we seek them out too often, or for too long.

So we drink.

We also imbibe to let go of the fear and anger which imprisons our heart, to relinquish all childish expectations and live joyfully in the world as it is — not as we wish or imagine it to be, to be free of the always craven and ever-craving ego, to be released from the endless hungers of the body, demands of the job or career.

To see God in others, to see God in everything, to die without really experiencing death and merge our consciousness into the cosmic sea of bliss from which we came.  I drink because in my case, I don’t like to wash my bus, I can no longer fill my tank with cheap diesel fuel, find a road that beckons to me that I have never driven or traveled, and last, at days end, my seemingly endless futile search to locate an empty spot at the back of the lot when I tire.

And of course, I have a turnpike window open on the drivers side in August.

Yeah that’s it, that is why I hoist one every now and then, I’ll drink to that.


Possibly Related:  Lost And Adrift



Hobby Time

T.G.I.F. as they say in some circles, I am ready.  I am sitting here drinking a cup of fresh coffee, sitting in front of my brand new, bought at Walmart, Made in China, wired backwards (off is on and on is off) six dollar fan.  I have this new wrinkle in my life, a huge red mark on my forehead, sort of reminiscent of Mikael Gorbachev as a result of a close encounter with an open bay door on my coach.

(Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991.  He also has a huge red mark on his forehead)

This morning as I read the board I see another welcome to a new guy.  As I sip the brew and wait for the caffeine to kick in, I mull around the word “Hobby” in my mind.  Each week on my webpage, I receive a lot of emails from folks, some are bus folks and the majority of them are not.  I got one this week from a bus nut I feel like sharing.  He is not a newbie by any stretch of the imagination, but he did have some good points.  So here you are, I found it interesting and to the point.

We were talking about bus building, hobbies and vacations.

I’ve been doing this sort of thing for years Don. I find my vacations in moments and generally they are at work or chasing my dog around the back yard. Folks talk about 3 week vacations and such. I haven’t taken 3 weeks total in the last 5 years including sick days and funerals. I’m not complaining at all. I find my moments to enjoy and sometimes they are by working. I guess one reason I enjoy my bus so much is because while I’m working on it I am on vacation. To be honest with you I have spent more time working on it than using it. Not a complaint at all other than the fact I wish I had more time to do more on it. I too have found that vacations and some tourist traps generally leave me as tired or more so than when I left. But pull the bus in the shop and give me a weekend with her and I sure enjoy thinking about the sites I could view through her front window!! I may not get too but I keep the windshield clean just in case!!!

Which brings us here.  From time to time I venture online and I see a hearty welcome to a newcomer or newbie.  It usually consists of several catch phrases, some are “welcome to the hobby, welcome to the madness,” or some other type of expression endeared to the bus community.

I was taught that the meaning the word hobby when used as a noun, was an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.  But building a bus, as such is the case, can often surpass hobby and walk over the line to obsession, which is also a noun, and it means the state of being obsessed with someone or something.

There are people who haunt this medium who have been working on, building on, tearing apart and rearranging these monsters of the American Road for over nine years.  Now which one of the two above listed descriptive would you say applies?  Nine years is a long time in anyone’s book, it is a virtual lifetime for a dog (63 years).

My hobby has forced me to cuss, cry and often, injure myself.

On more than one occasion, I have stabbed myself with razor knifes, cut fingers with 4” grinders, set myself on fire a couple of years ago in my shop (now that was interesting to say the least).  From time to time, I have dropped things (heavy things) on my feet which forced myself to walk with a hitch in my giddy-up for weeks at a time.  I am sure at one time, I have been the talk of the beanery after leaving that morning after breakfast. 

“Jeeze Marge, did you see that poor guy, wonder what happened to him?”

Who hasn’t sit patiently on the top of a an old empty bucket and stared for a considerable amount of time at an object, trying to figure out what it is that needs to be done, in order to make it work?  Who hasn’t had the wife walk, silently into the shop with a cup of coffee and surprised you while talking to yourself, trying to figure out what it is that needs to be figured out?  Who hasn’t missed a birthday party or social event, because you stayed home and worked on the bus?

Obsession?  Recently I posted asking if painting screws came under this heading, I received a myriad of answers, none of them Dr. Phil conclusive.

There are times I feel truly inadequate, a little bit out of sync with the rest of the world.  For instance, I really do not know how to greet someone who is indeed new to this bus-building-rearranging process.  One side of me wants to say, “Hey glad you are on-board” and the the other part of me wants to yell …… “Run Skipper!  Run!  Run as fast as your feet will carry you.”

Taking all of this one step further (as I am often prone to do) we find the word “insane” which is an adjective and it means a person who is in a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction.  Which on most days, would just about fit the bill for a great many of us, myself included.

Perhaps this is why a select few, I have noted, always respond with “Welcome to the insanity” when welcoming another poor Mr. Goodwrench Bus Wanna Be bus-nut into the fray.

Now here is the good news … Today is Friday, and it is a good thing, you made it thru your work week of never ending days and America’s Got Talent and now comes the weekend.

Just in time for your hobby.


If you were given a chance to know what happens in your future, would you take it?

Days are growing shorter now, the heat has dissipated some and that is always good.  We are busy here, trying to shape everything up and get out of town for a few weeks, to see some new sights, new friends, and spend some time with the grand-babies.  Believe it or not, we even found some extra scratch for some high priced diesel, so we are checking out.

My friend, Delbert and I, are over at the coffee shop, eating breakfast and he asks me, “Did you get up grumpy today?” and I said, “Naw, left her in the bed and came on down here!”  Take My Wife … Please!  It is good day to be above ground, on the right side of the dirt, we all seem to be living on borrowed time … which brought us to this.

We started “conversating for real” as we is prone to do (which is Okie Talk). Television came up. A very popular show on television is this show “Extreme Makeovers.” Which made me think of “What would it be like, if you got a second chance in life?” I don’t really want a make over, what I want is a DO OVER. That sort of appeals to me, one more go at it, I guess everyone is like that in some way.

It is after all, something to think about.
If we had it all over to again, would we make the same mistakes?
Would we make more of them?

Would we learn how to relax, or would stress eat our lunch and control our days.
Would we limber up and find some laughter and joy in life, if we had this second chance.
Would we take it all more seriously or blow the second shot right out the window?

From my standpoint, I know I would take more trips, meet more interesting people, go to unique places … But that is the nature of my carbon based life form. Perhaps it could turn out that when a few of us do the “do over” a small majority could end up even crazier than we are now, why not, this was sort of fun at times. Might climb a mountain, swim in a river, and sit still along enough to enjoy the setting sun. In my next life I would walk more, and drive less. I would do less talking and more looking.

More Ice Cream and a lot less green beans.

Pay more attention to the real problems in my life, and ignore the imaginary ones.  Live life, prophylactically and sensibly hour after hour … Day after day. When I hit high gear on the second time around, I will refrain from using words like Prophylactically (“acting to defend against or protect from something”) mainly because most people do not use words like that, don’t know the meaning of them, and everyone is going to be able to see how smart you are anyway … Usually in about five minutes in most cases.

What else might we do?
We won’t dress for success.
We won’t eat chocolate, drink Coke
We won’t shove a lot of groceries down our necks.

Man, I seem to be on a roll here. I won’t try to program my senses and my life for monetary gain, prestige or power. I will stop and buy whatever little kids are selling from a stand beside the road. Will cease getting all bent out of shape over people who do not use spelling checkers. The ones who write all the hate emails and imply my parents were not married.

Definitely would have more “lite Bulb” moments, if I was allowed to do it over again.  Less country music and more spiritual uplifting gospel music would be the order of the day.  Moment after moment, I would not only seek them out (lite bulb moments), I would have MORE of them in my life

The second time around we could do some housecleaning in our lives. Toss out thermometers, hot water bottles, gargles, raincoats, cable TV bills, telephones (especially cell phones), voice mail, user names and passwords.  We could all travel lighter, visiting places we have not yet been. If the wife wanted to sit in the bus, I would allow her this luxury of life, it is after all, her second time around too.

Me? I am gonna walk over to the guardrail and see how far I can spit! (Boys will be boys y’know.)

Nothing would hold me back … I am going Barefooted if I have to … I am stepping out. I will head out in the spring and miss the tornados and twisters on the plains. Spend most of the summer and some of the fall, in the cool air of the mountains somewhere, perhaps outside of Fresno, just a tad bit north of  the High Sierra’s or Cody, Wyoming sitting out at the dam.

I would stop every now and then just to smell the flowers. Set aside self ambition and personal preference for God’s will and his way in my life. Choose the right priorities and force myself to realize the importance of a spirit filled life, a life which has all the earmarks of Christian Service.

Just depends on how you look at it I guess. Life is a lot like a deck chair. Some place it so they can see where they are going, and some place it to see where they have been. Some just stick them up against the wall to lean back and watch the present unfold before their eyes.

And then there is mine … On some days, no matter how hard I try … I often I can’t even get mine unfolded. One of these days, when I get it all together, I am going to do it. Unfolding my deck chair, I am going to sit in the sunshine, and listen to God and what life is telling me.


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