Old friends.

April 28th, 2010

~ Old friends are like bookends.

As the word implies “old” is looking back.  For “Boomers” old is more than that, it’s “getting old”.  Getting old means that the memories and the pictures no longer match.  The process is easy; you get on the web with an “old name” of someone you once knew, high school or college perhaps, summer camp, a special day in Ghazni (Afghanistan) or some Maryland or Virginia Beach (not meaning THE Virginia Beach, Virginia).

For each person the process is the same – only the names and places differ.  You goggle the name (not Bing it), use closed quotes around the name and then add the place (of memory) – everybody does go home, go back, go back and post things about the then and there and leaves their name on it like a modern graffiti on the wall (but cleaner).  If one does not go back the ever-never ending of new information on the web resurrects records, newspaper articles, the reminiscences of others to document each person’s presence at certain point in space and time.  Then come the pictures.

Pictures are often hard to post on the web.  Digital pictures are easier, digital cameras and all that.  Boomers did not grow up and old in the digital age of photography.  So each old picture must be scanned, identified, cropped perhaps (delete old boyfriends, lovers and all the rest).  One may end up with just a face, like a yearbook photo, all the intrigue and entanglements of the past are gone and the photo is “wife safe” or “husband safe” or “child safe” for those who now have children and have a natural loyalty to only mommy.  “You had another girlfriend Dad?”  “Do I have other unknown brothers and sisters somewhere?”  You get the drill.

But we’re not really there yet – the Boomers.  Most of the pictures are the newer photographs up and on the web.  They are promotional photographs mostly, a dust jacket on a book, an “I was there” shot at a reunion – mostly work and little play.  But boomers really did play once.  They romped, counted flowers in the park, ate in or out for dinner.  They rode motorcycles or motor bikes or Honda 90’s, acted in plays, outworked the drama, documented light and shadow with the medium of film, or ink, pastels, or pen, or just the law.  If you’re reading this you know who you are; if not, it doesn’t matter, life is all about the same for everyone, everywhere and that is what makes life so much worth the living.

I cruised the web a bit last night looking for the answers; looking for old friends that I haven’t seen for so many years.  “Mabeline is that you?”  (hidden behind all those wrinkles, “Dave”, you’ve added so much fat.)  We (as Boomers) were never supposed to get old, to age with dignity and leisure.  We lived life in the fast lane; drank kegs full of beer or wine, took drugs, defied the cops or became one; fought in Asian wars and fought against them or just fought to stay safely on the side.  As a generation we pursued every fad “with vigor”, walked fifty or 500 miles, wore Davy Crockett hats, bought Hula hoops, did the Twist and never looked back to see where (or marvel at where) we had been.  “It’s the next new thing” that dominated our agenda; school, marriage, children – or not school, not marriage, not children.

So where is Ed Wunsch with his saxophone?  That’s all he really wanted.  There is an Ed Wunsch, a geologist in Colorado, with web image postings of all his maps, meteors splatting on the earth – good maps, OK pictures, but not one that looks like “Ed” (my Ed), the guy I used to know in Korea, lived next door, listened to the Radio Megaton broadcasts in the morning that I used to get him up.  Yes, google it and you’ll learn that someone in (or near) the Czech Republic stole my name (“Radio Megaton”), named for or after the broadcast power of the bomb.  I was first, but you (meaning others) would never know.

Fat or wrinkled, hunkered down or hunched over, it’s good to see the old faces on the web.  They are like bookends that mark where one part of life began and where it is now, no end yet in sight (maybe).  There will be an end sometime as memories totally slip away along with caring.  “I knew him (or her) so well, can’t even remember their name now; I’ll look it up on the web.”  But how do you google a name you cannot even spell?

So where is this post really going?  Where are the ageing boomers going?  Where are they all now?  We’re living in the past (Jethro Tull), mostly.  Living out childhood fantasies of what we would do or become; living our lives in a world with motivations and motives far past, seeking permanence in change, thinking or hoping we are who we once thought we were or would become.  “You (and the world) can’t change me; I’ll never change.”  “But, you’ve changed Donald, look in the mirror – you’ve changed.  I wouldn’t recognize you on the street in a crowded subway in New York – that’s how much you’ve changed.”

As illustrated, change is a contradiction.  We all look back (I look further back than most).  What is the point (in surveying) “of true beginning”?  At what point did we pick up or borrow our “life-time goals”?  Was it a favorite Aunt, a favorite teacher, a lover now forever lost or a mate so early gained?  Was it the weight of the public, peer-pressure, family or a loan (like a student loan) that made us what today we are?
What I think I’ve found is that the media really doesn’t count.  It makes us do things, buy things; but in the end it does NOT dictate who we are.  And in that there’s hope, real real hope.

So to all my friends out there, new and old; first-time or all-time; I say Hello, Have a Nice Day, It’s a Beautiful Day, Cool, Boss, “I do believe” and “Hi”.  It’s been a long time (coming) and it’ll be a long time (gone) before we see each other anyplace but on the web; but that’s OK; don’t need to say a real “Hi” unless you want to; I know you’re there – still young and hopeful and happy (perhaps) just in my mind.

[First posted: 2010.04.28 / Wednesday – Old friends.]

Going Martin

April 24th, 2010

~ History is as history does.

This is not a post about my brother.  It is more a post about my grand-father or better yet my great grandfather.  I never knew the man; never knew him in real life that is.  He died in 1933 and I was not alive in 1933; during the depression, a terrible time to die (maybe).

The point of this post and Qala Bist.com is how to bring history alive, bring back the dead, make what was, IS and then turn what was to something new that creates a WAS in the present sense (of time).  The concept is “All Time” as in the “all time” biggest event, all time record, all-time most important thing there that there ever was.  “All Time” as a concept clashed with the every day sense of time.  All time was different, it meant that time could be compressed into an “all” that was maybe here and maybe “now”.

All time meant that there wasn’t “old and new”, there wasn’t a passing fashion, a new idea, something really “new” under the sun.  It meant that in terms of time everything was more or less “just NOW”, just the way it is or the way it WAS and the way it is is the way it was and one just has to get used to it that way, it is just as it is – time will not heal anything, because “all time” is now.

Living in all time  is like living in “your time”, but different.  Your time is linear, your time progresses every day as in “every day you learn something”.  In All Time you know pretty much what is known, you see the world as it is and was and could be – not just the way it seems today.  There’s a lot more “hope” in all time, and that’s why I like it and like it there and don’t like being stuck in the “present” when there’s a past and future too to recon with.

For William John Martin this world too was his.  He lived here too, just like me and you.  He had his hopes and dreams and (like everyone) his fair share of disappointments.  He had his struggles, too many to count, to recon with, to illuminate by recording them with words all compiled as to date.  His life was spent (mostly) in a simpler time, a time without so many words recorded in letters, in transcripts and transcriptions and in E-Mails and chat room conversations all ready for the web.

In his time it was photography that was new, a picture was worth a thousand thousand words and one photo if it did not capture the soul could capture the spirit or the moment or something fleeting that once captured perhaps could last – could last forever!

It was “all time” in the making.  On a personal basis history could come alive.  One brief second, one moment, one “instant” of time could last forever as one person a hundred (a thousand?) years later could re-live what one felt and knew and saw in the instant that the shutter clicked and the plate was sealed and the flash of light in a darkened box sealed things forever.

Is nothing lost in time?  Is nothing gained with time?  What indeed is time?  Is it just the passage of light (and shadow) as scientists might say?  No, time is something more; something more mysterious, more incredible, more incredulous to the senses and the experience and to what we experience when we “look forward” or “look back” when there is no space that can confine us and no space left in-between.

So I have been spending my time (as if time were indeed a currency) in the “past”, circa 1825 or “7” or perhaps more precisely in “1856”.  The month is June.  The month is the month in which he was born, a time to begin the season – the season that we might call “life”.

Things work slowly forward, a birth, other births, an education, marriage perhaps; perhaps death – you know the drill.  Life stops and then begins anew and other vistas open and then time passes slowly, a son grows, dies, grows old as one grows old and one’s wife and then there is a family visit, and everything seems so far into the past and then it is OVER, but not over yet – time moves on and memories and even yesterday can live as clearly, as purely as today.  It is the miracle of photography and the miracle of “time”.

Look up the addresses on the modern web, look back in history as if time were just a machine; as if time were only an illusion, as if time itself had stopped.  W.J. Martin isn’t really “old”; he hasn’t died.  He lives here still in the houses that he kept, the rooms that he filled, the pictures that were made.  If you look at the “Teppline” that I’ve made you can see him still alive, see all the transitions, read the words, “There is no Death”.  Does this man and his life still come alive?  Is he still alive?  Does he live in you?

And so too there is his wife, his first wife (or his second).  Does she live, or did she die?  Is death to you a scientific certainty or is it just an elementary science looking onward, upward to a much higher degree?  Are all things scientifically settled, for “all time” – you get my point.  If time moves on then everything in time can change.  If time is NOW, then the change too is NOW and what I know is what you and everyone else knows too – time is eternal until time itself comes to an end; and that end is “all time”.

So visit with “William John” Martin if you may (or if you wish).  Visit his life for a while, see the pictures and photographs, get personal with the documents, learn a bit of history.  He’s not an exceptional man (perhaps), but if you read these few pages you will know more about him than you do about George Washington, or Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton for that matter; or maybe more than (you know) about Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson or some other “super-star” or maybe than yourself.

And that IS the point.  Who was the father of Presley or George?  You do not know.  The father of “our country” and you don’t know the name of his father?  That is not history – it’s media.  History is the history of the “little guy” (it helps when your grand-fathers real name is “Guy”), the “little women” the “little people” that Leona Helmsley spoke so contemptuously of.  Leona of course was wrong.  It’s the little cats that rule, not the lions in winter, or summer, or those left shivering in-between.  If you don’t believe me; what is the color of your cat?  I want to know.

“Nine lives”, maybe a whole lot more.  Meow! (or maybe it’s just “Martin”).

[First posted: 2010.04.24 / Saturday – Going Martin]

Planet Catastrophe

April 20th, 2010

~ This Teppline Post entitled “Planet Catastrophe” is about the “Gulf Oil Spill”; the “Macondo Prospect”; the “BP Oil Disaster”;

The idea is to present the various relevant events and factors associated with the “topic event” in a time sequential presentation that will facilitate the correlation and integration of the component parts so that a greater understanding of the true nature of the event as a whole is possible.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1998
____________________________________________________________________________ December:

1998.12.00 / day
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [1] 35:129 – Asia – Republic of Korea – Ulsan District (self-governing) –
UlsanHyundai Heavy Industries

Deepwater Horizon construction begins in Ulsan, Korea.  Construction is ordered by R&B Falcon (later acquired by Transocean Sedco Forex, Incorporated).  The “vessel” (drilling rig) is to be 32,588 Gross Tons; 320 feet in height; capable of accommodating a crew of 146.  The “value” of the vessel was declared to be $340 Million dollars (U.S.).  The builder of the vessel is Hyundai Heavy Industries, Company; Limited.

Below is the “green triangle” logo for Hyundai Heavy Industries; a picture of the supertanker Front Century under construction at the Hyundai ship works in Ulsan; the “swish and splash” logo in English for Ulsan; a location map for Ulsan (corporate city) Korea; a photograph of the Ulsan, Korea skyline at near night with the industrial district in the background.  The average per capita income in Ulsan is (U.S.) $70,000 per year (GDP based).


____________________________________________________________________________ 2010
____________________________________________________________________________ April:

2010.04.20 / Tuesday
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 28:088 – North America – Gulf of Mexico – Mississippi Canyon
Block 252“Macondo Prospect”


At 8:45 P.M. (Mountain War Time) (9:45 P.M. Gulf local time) a geyser of “seawater, mud, and methane gas” erupted during the final stages of the exploratory drilling at the Macondo Prospect site.  The methane gas soon ignited creating a “firestorm”.  Eleven (11) deaths were reported in the media as the number killed.  126 people were aboard the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the explosion.  Evidently 115 people were safely evacuated, although there were injured.

Although it was not reported on the day of the disaster oil and methane gas started gushing out of the well casing (approximately) 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of New Mexico immediately after the explosion.

Mother Jones magazine reported:

‘Tony Buzbee, a lawyer representing 15 rig workers and dozens of shrimpers, seafood restaurants, and dock workers, says he has obtained a three-page signed statement from a crew member on the boat that rescued the burning rig’s workers.

The sailor, who Buzbee refuses to name for fear of costing him his job, was on the ship’s bridge when Deepwater Horizon installation manager Jimmy Harrell, a top employee of rig owner Transocean, was speaking with someone in Houston via satellite phone.

Buzbee told Mother Jones that, according to this witness’s account, Harrell was screaming, “Are you fucking happy? Are you fucking happy? The rig’s on fire! I told you this was gonna happen.’

Below are two of the first images of the burning Deepwater Horizon drilling vessel as taken from ten or more miles away within two (plus) hours of the initial blast.


The date of the disaster reminded people of the April 20, (1889) Birthday of Adolf Hitler; the April 19, (1993) (observed birthday of Adolf Hitler) storming of the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas; and the (observed birthday of Adolf Hitler) the April 19, (1995) bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Note:  Hitler was born in Europe on April 20 – it was still April 19 in the U.S.A. – thus the “observed” date.)  Timothy McVeigh (the accused bomber of the building) was executed on June 11, (2001); exactly 3 months prior to the September 11, (2001) event in the eastern United States of America.

Below is the flag of the Branch Davidians led by David Koresh; the remains of the Mount Carmel Center complex on April 20, (1993) after the attack ordered by Janet Reno; and finally a very interesting photograph of the (second) bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on May 23, (1995) with a Ryder truck strategically evident “moving toward” the exploding building during a “planned demolition”.


[First posted  2010.07.02 / Friday ]  11:20 P.M. Mountain War Time

A few new things in Afghanistan

April 15th, 2010

~ This is not a new Post about “Going to Afghanistan”, but I did capture your attention.

The point is that there can be things going on in Afghanistan, or my blog about it, without looking for headlines; without “Afghanistan” making the news.  Things can go on behind the scenes when you’re not really looking.  That is what is happening now; both in real life and on this blog post life of the web.

While you think that I have been taking a break I’ve really been working.  Each day and night I add new pictures and graphics about Afghanistan and getting there.  They have been (and will be) added to each post – the photographs by Fred, the lists of time, place, events by me as the 1958 Teppline grows.

So keep checking back, revisit your favorite post (or others) – something might be new; or you might get a new sense of things after some thought and with review.

Meanwhile this post is about “the bots”.  They are the “robots”, the “spiders”, the things that make the web work.  The “bots” are how things show up on the web in search engines like Google.  But, that is not all of the web.  Sometimes the bots are slow; a web site or web post is posted and the bots don’t know where to look – bots need a link, like a road map; they hate mystery.

My regular posts, like this one, goes up in usually less than 1 minute.  The bots know where to look for “recent posts”, like buzzards they follow the lions, wait for the kill – that first strike of the button that says “post to the web”.

But I am a bit like Merlin; but better.  On this site I go backward in time, not just forward.  I post things in 1958 or 1884.  The bots don’t really get this; they are one dimensional – they are programmed to look forward and have a hard time looking back.  The result is that they miss my posts (some of them).

I’ve been hanging out lately in 1884.  I’ve been doing a lot of family work and posting about my more distant family; the family history thing – life before Fred and Lloydine as if Fred & Lloydine are not enough.  1884 is the birth year of my grandmother’s sister-in-law.  If that is not abstract enough, boring enough as a suggested topic to bring tears to your eyes I do not know what is.

Of course you’re wrong.  Anyone is interesting if you get to know them.  That’s my point about the Afghans and Afghanistan now isn’t it.  It’s hard to “hate” when you see people face-to-face and learn a little about their lives.  The abstractions go, the stereotypes leave us, we’re left with a little more of the truth.  (Altogether now… “The Truth Will Make You Free”).

So 48 hours after a second long night of posting (the night away) the bots still had not found the 1884 pictures.  The bots still did not know about Qala Bist Blue and all the good stuff available when families share.  Even “Mary” had not found the posts and I suspect she’s often on the web.

There is a lesson in all of this – maybe several.  First, maybe I’ve discovered something.  One really can hide in plain sight (filmed in Albuquerque).  It is like that scene in Star Wars (first or second movie) the scene where they approach the bar and the Storm Troopers don’t even see them.  It’s not that the bots are storm troopers, but if national security depends on Googling and search engines then there’s a lot that can be posted, accessed, loaded down, before the search engines pick it up.  Thought you should know.

Second, don’t get complacent about the web.  Search engines can be filtered.  Topics like targets can be taken out.  A web site may not go down, but the information may not go up (even though it’s really up).  So always check your sources, check back with the people or the sites that you know.  Ask questions.  Look around.  You get my drift.  It’s a lot like Afghanistan and Qala Bist – things are changing every day.

Note:  You may have been to a lot of “Family Tree” websites, but you haven’t been to this one.  Click on the January 1884 topic on the Sidebar to see.  The idea here is not just to “post my own” but to offer a possible model for you or others to create or follow (that is assuming that you like it).  As you see the virtual population of Qala Bist is growing – new names daily on the web – I hope the bots can find you, but if not, you now know how to hide.

[First posted: 2010.04.15 / ThursdayA few new things in Afghanistan]

Why the web works and how it doesn’t.

April 14th, 2010

~ This could be part 8,322 of the series; or just Part#1.

We might call this post “Housekeeping”.  In a sense we just did.  Now a dozen or more scam companies with household products or in real estate will capture (with computers) the word “housekeeping” and set up a fake post with the catchy title of “Housekeeping in Qala Bist”; or “Buy a house in Qala Bist” and then provide a link or pseudo-link to “Qala Bist.com (my site)”.

The problem with all of this is two-fold.  First – my site DOES NOT have advertising and THEIR SITES always do.  These guys and dolls (Buy the Soundtrack Album “Guys and Dolls at Tower Records now) are like the tourist type people that visit Qala Bist and drop gum wrappers under the arch, scribble “Kilroy was here” type graffiti on the walls, and generally do much to trash and desecrate the place because their own lives are an ongoing careless desecration.

I remember when there were people still alive (and fairly young) that still thought that Television was a great hope.  They thought that television (TV) would educate, uplift, and transform the struggling starving masses still learning to be free.  It didn’t happen that way.  The Ad Men (Mad Men) took over, gutted the media, took commercial free movies that were works of art and put advertisements for soap and cars between each line or scene of Bogart, or Paulette Goddard.  It was wrong then; its still wrong now.

“Hotels in Qala Bist” is perhaps may favorite line.  There are no hotels, much less “discount hotels and airfare packages” to Qala Bist; and well or (Well) there shouldn’t be.  Somethings and some sites should be just left alone.  Sometimes one should have to travel a hundred miles in a dangerous beat-up bus, dust for three hours in the nostrils and the lungs, no water available for the whole ordeal.  That’s what Qala Bist and so many special places were like then (to reach); that’s what made them special – it took effort to get there from here; it was not just another off-ramp on someone’s ill-conceived eight lane Freeway through life.

Qala Bist (.com) is not a “freeway to nowhere” with huge ugly billboards plastered each ¼ mile along the way.  These scam sites with their faux links are like road signs that say “Pyramids next exit” when you’re on the Jersey Turnpike and then ¼ mile later it says “Turn right to the Taj Mahal”.  People in New Jersey know better.  So should you.

So WATCH YOUR URL’s folks.  It is the website address.  The REAL address is “Qala Bist.com”, very simple – look for the “Q” without the “U” as the URL.  We do things a bit differently here – hopefully better.

I learned in Afghanistan that there can always be a thief.  There are bad guys and dolls (Buy the Album… NO DON’T) hiding around all sorts of corners, “Confidence Men (and Women)” that offer a Rolex watch (“Buy your next Rolex Watch in Qala Bist”) for pennies on the dollar; or pretend to be “your friend” but really are not.  All these people just want your money; but much worse, they are STEALING your TIME.

My second point about why these (faux) sites are so wrong:  The web is supposed to be a place for information, to be informed, to be “In Formed”.  It is like housekeeping after all, a dirty house is bad.  One should take the garbage out, not bring more garbage in.  If the body is (or should be) a temple (or a Mosque) then the Mind is even more holy; a place best served by cleanliness and order; not deceit and greed.  I have posted before about the web being the planet’s “Mind at Large”.  This mind gets polluted when simple people, good ideas, cannot be found or reached (by Googling) because the routes are clogged with the presence of countless cars just cruising for the children, “have a sucker honey, more candy if you just get in”.

The devil did not make these people do it.  They are wrong all on their own.  They have a choice on how to make the money.  They have a choice about the money that they think they really need.  It’s not that they will make any real money – they do it for the GREED, not the Money.  You would think that everyone would have learned that lesson by now – the financial collapse – greed should be over; let’s move this planet along, it’s too behind already, don’t live in the Dark Ages II.

“Don’t let the bastards get you down”.  Fred (my father) said it; said it again and again.  It’s good advice (“Buy a bastard in Qala Bist, discount pricing”).  So, I won’t let them get me down; I’ll laugh a little, write this post – make fun of them to make my point – then just “keep on posting”; it’s QALA BIST.COM (qalabist.com is the URL).

[First posted: 2010.04.14 / Wednesday – Why the web works and how it doesn’t]

It’s great to be retired.

April 12th, 2010

~ A short and true tale about death and taxes.

It is so good to be retired.  My wife and I have done it.  We stay home more; have time to read and write and post things on the web.  We have a garden.  We have things that grow in pots.  We have trees that blossom in the spring and bring fruit in early fall.  Life is good.

This is the 12th of April.  Three days more and it is the Ides (of April); tax time – the end of the tax season that means that taxes are finally due or due with a finality that can be deadly if you don’t pay your share (as calculated by the government).  You must pay right now or pay penalties and interest; be branded “a cheat”, be threatened with or actually be sent to jail.  You’ve heard all this before.  Who hasn’t?  We are Americans in the land of the free and paying taxes are said to keep you free (but at what cost?).

But there is another end to money.  If you don’t work you don’t have to pay.  Some people call it being retired; others just call it being “broke”.  I’m not broke.  And I might remind you that there are different kinds of work.  Some people work for pay, others work for pleasure.  A few have jobs and income that might do both – the “I love my job” propaganda of a decade or two ago.  I remember the campaign.  The government ran constant ads that implied that EVERYONE loved to work (for workman’s wages); to commute in cars; to pay the bills and to pay the taxes and to end up with little or nothing else – maybe a divorce and ruined credit as one found that the ends did not meet.

I was planning on filing my taxes, my tax return, my tax returns – one Federal, the other for the state.  Then I read an article about a week ago.  It said that I and 47% of my other Americans don’t have to file.  We owe no taxes (covered by a tax return – there are MANY other kinds of taxes that EVERYONE must pay).  There is no interest or penalty for not filing if you don’t owe the money,  it’s just a wash.  You save and keep your time taken by filing forms – the government saves the money wasted by processing forms that amount to nothing (as in nothing gained or lost).

I maybe should file.  I could report that I make nearly nothing; that I don’t get paid well for my work; that the system is badly broken and that the 3% at the top have all the action (when it comes to money) and that I’m not even a player; am not dealt in; don’t get “money motivated” because almost all the money is controlled and owned by just a few big banks.

It should be a crime to lend money.  It IS a crime to lend money.  It is a crime to loan people money and cause them to be in debt and to make them work a lifetime just to pay it off (and then one dies).  The two things that are inevitable are inevitably related – Death and Taxes.  The key to eternal life is not to have the taxes – there are no taxes in Heaven, but everybody works, wends their way through service, you know what I say is true.

The first year that I ever filed (my income tax return) I was audited.  It was not a “friendly” audit.  It was not an audit by phone or through the mail.  The IRS did not ask a few gentle questions; they DEMANDED that I show up in their office, all my records close at hand.  I was sixteen at the time.  I had worked maybe 500 hours and made maybe $500 as a busboy in a restaurant cleaning tables most every night.  I had my pay stubs.  I had no deductions, no tax write-offs, no investments in stocks or bonds.  I had no real savings; maybe a dollar in my pocket and then it was back to school and back to work.

I took my pay stubs to their office in the new and fancy Federal Building on Booth Street across from Reno High in Reno, in Nevada.  My classroom was waiting, but not the IRS.  An FBI agent from a nearby office sat in.  There were two other guys, both from the IRS.  They looked a bit surprised (maybe by my age – maybe by my income), but the notices were in order so they DID proceed.

They asked to see all my records.  I gave them maybe 12 pay stubs that said “The Mapes Hotel”.  They said, “Is this all?”  I said, “What do you mean?”  They asked all the usual questions like if I was a Wall Street banker, a mafia chieftain, like if I were Al Capone himself.  “Do you have your records for an expense account?”; “ ”Do you have accounts in Bern?”  I think they meant off-shore or in Switzerland; I did not even have a bank.  I cashed my checks at the Mapes, bought gas, drove off to school and slept for eight hours at the end of the school day.

So work (for pay) was not so rewarding.  The IRS said, “We’ll let you know.”  I went home and then back to school.  I’ve worked a little more over the many years.  I’ve paid my taxes; I’ve looked at death.

Now (finally) I may be free; free at last, free at last!  I don’t think that I will file.  It’s never worth the chance.  What goes around comes around; and the IRS may come around again if I file a worthless form; demand to see my records; demand that I testify to how “without money” everybody is – even me.  But I have no complaints.  I’m happier now than I ever was before.  If I don’t have the money I’ll get by with a little less.

They say you can’t “Cheat Death” and you can’t cheat on taxes.  What “they” say is half-right.  Many cheat on taxes, just not me.  And I don’t plan to cheat on death; it’s not my game – maybe I’ll just walk away, not file, I owe death nothing (it’s like my relationship with taxes).

[First posted: 2010.04.12 / Monday – It’s great to be retired]

A post about posts.

April 10th, 2010

~ Just to keep you informed.

If you’ve been cruising around the Qala Bist website you may have noticed a few changes.  If you haven’t (been cruising) then the purpose of this post is not lost.  The point is that there are A LOT of changes, things have been updated, pictures are now posted – with many more to come!

First:  (to characterize or imitate Fred, my father) there is a “new” Series of “Going to Afghanistan”; the “read down” series that will make the reading of the story “Oh, so much easier”.  With the “new” series are new links, pictures, letterhead and graphics.  The idea is to recreate the spirit and the time and the experience of “going to Afghanistan” in 1958 or 1959 just about as realistically as possible.

Second:  There is a new 1958 Teppline that may help you (and me) clarify all the times and dates and transitions and other events that are a part of the whole very complex (and very simple) “Going to Afghanistan” experience.  The Teppline offers a glimpse of the scene behind the scene, the family life, the government operations, the list of slides (photographs) that you may in the future see.

As always this site is in constant transition.  The September 21st of today will not be the 21st of tomorrow (See: September 21, 1958).  Posts may occasionally disappear, and your links, but do not despair.  I may move things, but I generally don’t take them down.  Constant vigilance is the price of freedom (or liberty – I try not to take “liberties”).

The pictures “up” today take you into the Kabul Gorge, building a road into (or out of) Afghanistan.  You decide.  Follow the road with each new post and perhaps you’ll begin to appreciate not only what has been lost in Afghanistan, but what America has lost too.  It’s not just about Kabul, it’s also about Carson City, Kandahar, San Francisco – you get my point.

Third:  Fred always has his third point.  I don’t know what MY third point is.  Maybe it’s about the relatives, the family, the pictures now posted from the past to make people now passed begin to come alive.  Families are a living thing.  They are what make us human, empathy and sympathy and heartfelt appreciation for all that came before – imperfect of course, but they always kept trying.  The Afghans too, are trying.  The Iranians are trying.  Americans need to re-learn to try.

I will not stop until the war is over.  I may not stop even then.  You may have noticed the post that had the link that had the story about the civilians and the journalists that were killed by “friendly fire”.  The profanity might offend you, “good” Americans killing just for sport, lying about the weapons, confusing “rooftops” for “street-scapes”, children for Al-Quida.  Karsai might not be right; but he certainly is not wrong.  The “foreigners” must go, take all their weapons and weaponry with them – leave Afghanistan alone, leave Iran alone, leave Pakistan alone, leave India alone and South Korea, Taiwan, Japan…. You get my point.  I’ve lived there; you’ve lived there too.

The series will continue on Sunday.  A day of rest, but not for me.  I used to live with “blue laws”, misnomers, things that some folks said to keep all the others down, or “churched” (meaning “churched” in only their religion; no sanity or humanity in what the pulpit said.  It was just about the tithing, good money to support the pedophile priests.  “Blue” is good regardless of what they say or do to confuse you.  The world is so much larger than any person’s narrow religion.  So don’t be narrow.

I’ll leave you with this thought.  The world really can be beautiful.  It’s up to you.  The world is what YOU make it, not only in your mind, but in and with your life.  You decide.  Choose war if you must, pay taxes to support the profanity (the lies) the killing.  “Support” your troops; or not.  Or, you can support the good guys, the good women and children of this earth – Support the Afghans.  Support their continual right to be free; to be FREE FROM FOREIGN DOMINATION, from the US Congress, from the US media as it mindlessly supports the war.

Amy Goodman will tell you the story.  A woman yes, and that may be the point.  Intelligent, not “dit-zoid”.  Experienced, hard-working.  Looking for the truth.  Let’s just post the truth.

Goodnight.  To dream, perchance to sleep.  Tomorrow we will awake to new vistas that may enchant us – that more importantly will challenge us.

[First posted 2010.04.10 / SaturdayA post about posts.]

Space Saver

April 5th, 2010

~ It’s April the first all over again.

The gears are getting a little better synchronized.  Or is it the years that are getting a little better synchronized?  It’s one or the other.  Or both.

Fifty years ago on April the first I celebrated my first anniversary of leaving for Afghanistan.  It was the proverbial first step on a trip of a thousand miles.  Actually the trip was closer to 7,000 miles, the one way distance to Afghanistan from Carson City in Nevada.

I started writing about it (this trip) back in 1988 or 1989 – I don’t remember exactly when.  That’s the way dates work, when ones young things are nailed to the day, as one gets older one year this way or that doesn’t really seem to make too much of a difference.

April 1st was a day easy to remember, it’s the “Fool” thing; April Fool’s.  It’s a day for kids to crack up and try their handle on the art of lying, try to imitate the older guys, try to be all adult when you’re really just a kid inside – mostly truthful and innocent.  Writing about Afghanistan in those days (the eighties) was mostly about innocence.  It was my personal adventure, not the focal point of nations.  Well, ONE modern nation had gone there, Russia or the Soviet Union had gone in, tanks and helicopters, killed a lot of Afghans, gotten the Olympics in Moscow cancelled; not really cancelled, but the USA did not go.  It broke the hearts of a lot of athletes that didn’t care so much about Afghans but hoped for the gold.

My “Book” to be was entitled “April the First”.  I wrote a lot of pages, started with the trip, ran out of words before I even got there.  I got as far as India or something, Burma maybe, at least as far as Hong Kong and the chapter “The Cadence of the Oars”.  Afghanistan was not a household word then.  I had to explain where it was and what it was and how you spell the name – the sort of thing one writes when one starts from scratch, no common point of beginning, like Qala Bist is, a mostly blank slate in people’s minds.

A trip was still a trip 20 years ago.  One stopped places.  One changed planes.  One spent the night in hostels or hotels or places one could afford; maybe made friends.  One saw the sights, visited sites, connected with the people if one was lucky.  You were lucky if you got to travel.  Each person was like an ambassador of America.  Each American wanted to show their best face, wanted to be nice not rude, wanted to learn and not just teach and preach.  Most Americans still thought “the WORLD had so much to offer”, it wasn’t just America that offered so much.

I’ve found my old manuscript.  It was just typed, computers were still pretty new then; new and expensive and I had a typewriter left over from the old days on which I could hunt and peck and try my best at “one finger Donnie” type typing.  It was an Hawaiian thing, like Poi, one is wise if one works cautiously into words like they would with food – small mouthfuls of kindness, then chew.

So it is all converging.  The staging area seems set.  I have manuscripts and letters; pictures are at the ready.  Even Qwest (my Internet provider) seems set to go; ramped up my speed while I was sleeping; new modem or even a better twisted pair.

I think you may like the show; words, visuals – everything but the music.  Maybe in time we can do music too, or “The Sounds of Afghanistan” like the “Sounds of Korea” records they used to make, prayer calls from the minarets, donkeys braying, bicycle horns on Durlamon, “Budda behigh burro” called out as the bus leaves with outstretched hands to help those left behind be pulled on board.  You can’t imagine what I’m saying, trying to say, and that’s the point now isn’t it?

Afghanistan is not, should not be, the sound of bombs bursting in air, the sound of weapons fire, the sound of squad leaders moving forward “killing or be killed” mentality; fear just for fears sake.  Afghanistan should not be the sounds of crying, of dieing, of funeral dirges in the dark or in the light of day.  Women are not made free by killing off their husbands, their sons, their fathers.  I thought everyone knew this.  Death was not the manuscript focus of my book, my first book – but now the words are different.

The pictures will prove there was and is a choice.  The words will continue to make the point that there is a difference, and so it should be.  The sounds will stay in your own mind.  The water of the Kabul River flowing, the dogs barking, or helicopters and jets always overhead.  It’s your choice.  Life can be compelling, each story of each person is compelling; don’t help to cut life short.  We can and must STOP THIS WAR.  I owe the country that much.  Bring the troops home NOW!

Fred is still in Kabul (in our story).  Soon he will be going south to Kandahar.  It is a fool’s errand, build agriculture and an airport with nothing left to say.  Those in Kandahar did not really want it.  They had their life, so should you.  It’s all about convergence, the overlap of time, armies are at the ready but so too are the people in the streets.  Why do we kill the people in the streets?

A “space – saver” is someone or some thing that sits in while others stay out and play.  A spacesaver does all the work while someone else gets ready.  A space-saver holds the ground until someone else decides what to do.  A spacesaver preserves the space that otherwise would disappear.  Don’t let Afghanistan disappear, it’s not a US state or a US puppet and the Afghans don’t want it to be.  Help Afghanistan to be free, send the foreign troops home now.  Do I repeat myself?  Send the troops home now.

So if you are against me in this thought, keep reading.  Keep looking back to the real roots of this dreadful war.  I’ll show you all the pictures; each new one will build a stronger case.  Each new word will uplift your feelings; wait till my mother gets there and gets involved and then you’ll really see what is what.  I have the time, all the time and words and pictures and word pictures that it will take to set this nation free.  You don’t believe me?  Just watch, mark my words – Just watch.

[Originally written:  2010.04.04 / Sunday – Space Saver]

The root of War

April 1st, 2010

~ This is Part #3 of the Qwest Wars.

I promised this post yesterday; not really “yesterday”, but the day before (yesterday) I promised this post for “tomorrow” which WAS yesterday, not today when I’m really writing this post.  There’s a point in all of this.  Maybe there are several points.  The first point is about communication and reliability; sometimes known as “credibility”.  The second point is about New Mexico, “Land of Manana” – not the “Land of Enchantment” mantra so much.

“Manana” is a Spanish word, in the Spanish language; the word is “Mexican” to some.  It means “morning” literally, but in Mexico the morning comes tomorrow so the word is often used as being more about tomorrow than today so the word has shifted in its meaning to mean “tomorrow”.

New Mexico I was told when I first moved here was The Land of Manana.  Anglos said it, the Spanish said it, Hispanics said it too so I don’t think it was a racist thing; people south of the border work hard each day, get things done, finish tasks on time – New Mexico is different – New Mexico is “new”.

Here, meaning north of the border, the whites are lazy (“laid back” might be a better word); its not just those with brown skin that need more discipline, more verve, more direction and less dalliance.  The Manhattan Project is a case in point; building the bomb (the atomic bomb) in New Mexico instead of some other state.

The project was conceived of (so they say) to save lives.  The point of course would be to build the bomb quickly, as quickly as possible, get scientists huddled together where there are brisk invigorating winds; a “do it now culture”, in a “Land of Urgency” where the “war emergency” might be overcome or at least met as in “met head-on” or met as in meted out with timeliness and efficiency.

But no, New Mexico was chosen as the place to build the bomb because of its remoteness, its isolation; because no one really knew (in 1942) that the place existed unless they lived there or knew someone else that did.  New Mexico was a typo on the map; it says “new”, but it must be Mexico, land of beauty, you know the song.  And New Mexico too was somewhat expendable, not like Chicago where the atomic tests first started; people might miss Chicago if something went wrong.  Who would miss New Mexico, the people, the culture, the history, those on the reservations?  Who in New York, in New Orleans or Atlanta, even in Seattle drinking coffee?  In 1942 no one cared, New Mexico was just a place to harvest code-talkers (strange languages in New Mexico); place of open deserts, low populations, poor communications – just the place to make a bomb that could annihilate the world if something did go wrong, but New Mexico would go first and that’s the only thing that mattered (to those planning and playing Manhattan).

If the bomb had been built elsewhere (not in the Land of Manana) it probably would have been ready much sooner.  Missouri, the “Show Me” state, birthplace of Truman would have been good – put Kansas City and St. Louis on the line (not Albuquerque).  Dust the farms (of Kansas and Missouri) with fallout, not the Cholla and the Pinon and the Pueblo people.  Vermont might have worked, hard workers from the “Green Mountain” state, build the bomb on Green Mountain and maybe make it green, more efficient, no carbon footprint, wash your hands on weekends by the sea instead of rolling down the Rio Grande on rafts just to visit Bandelier (National Monument) or getting drunk Saturdays in Santa Fe.

The world’s first detonation of an atomic bomb occurred on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico.  The blast was “manana”, in the morning, 5:30 A.M. (MWT) – Mountain War Time to be exact.  If the bomb had have been ready just one year sooner think of all the lives that might have been saved.  All the deaths of just after D-Day, the deaths on the battlefields of Germany and France, the deaths in the camps of concentration, the deaths of Russian troops in their relentless march westward – all for not if not for “manana” and the idea of laid back and take your time and don’t rush or hurry because it does take time to build a bomb, to do the math, to process plutonium or uranium or figure out and build a core.  “It’s like anything, we have all the time we need and it takes the time it takes”.  “See you in the morning, maybe”.

Of course if the bomb had been ready any sooner it might have been used on Cologne (Koln) in Germany, maybe dropped near Dresden or Buckhenwald or Berlin.  Buckhenwald was first opened on July 16 too (1937), eight years earlier – what lives might have been saved if it were seven?  But all the lives were not saved, the Russians did come rushing in to Poland and Germany and Berlin; we had the cold war as a result, the Korean hot war, maybe even Mao in China to say nothing of the battle deaths on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and in Japan.

I’m not for war.  I’m not for nukes or dropping the bomb (nuclear or otherwise) on any one.  But the root of wars is procrastination, the misuse of time, the waste of effort and initiative in waiting for tomorrow to get things done; to fix things, to make things right, to talk while there is still time for talking before people start throwing bombs around and down subways, on cities, on peoples villages and homes.

I don’t know if President Obama will ever come to New Mexico and say, “Ich bin ein New Mexican”; “I am a New Mexican” in Spanish or in English.  But even if he doesn’t, we ALL are.  We’re all New Mexicans now, putting off until tomorrow what we should do today; taking time to fix things, more time to make things right, more time to say “I’m sorry” or to apologize in a thousand other ways.  We take too much time to change, to do things, to get the job or any job done.  Americans love to “kill time”, to wait for time to heal instead of doing the healing by ourselves.

This post is supposed to be about Qwest, Qwest Communications, Inc – International.  I think you get my point.  Qwest wastes peoples time, will not get their act together, will not put in the fiber optic cable that could solve a thousand problems and end all the Qwest Wars so much sooner; no nukes here, just a little fiber in everybody’s diet – fibers good, not just the “I Wonder” – bread (white and airy with whole bleached flour).

I need the speed that’s better than .97 M down(load) and 350 kb up(load).  Those speeds may not be dial-up, but they are not much better.  Nothing streams at these nothing speeds, no U-tube, no news, no big pictures or big sites or true communication with the outside world.  Qwest still has everything copper here; copper cables down Copper street, Silver Street, Gold Street, Lead Street, Coal Street even.  Streets in Albuquerque if you need to know.  There is no “Fiber Optic” Street in Albuquerque; just so you know.

They (Qwest people) promised me a 5M service out of copper, not down Copper; the real copper cable composed of twisted pairs runs underground, under Fifth and under Sixth and under Tijeras, and Seventh and you get my drift and my direction; Qwest can count and so can I.  At 15th Street there is a wash, underground sewer that “drains to river”, collects waste and water from near and far and washes it all down stream toward the river and to the sea (eventually) – to the coast of Texas, where Mexico and the US meet.

I wrote last year about the cave and cave-in.  The hole 35 feet deep, three blocks long, and growing as it moved down 15th Street toward the Zoo and the River and the Sea.  The street collapsed because of “manana”.  “Manana” we will fix it, tomorrow we will get it done, some day we will have the money, one day we will do what’s right.  “We know the sewer is broken, damaged, not rebuilt in 50 years; but why should we worry, it’s not like it will actually collapse now is it”?

It did collapse.  The holes could swallow trucks or fire trucks; we’re talking big.  The stench floated blocks away, fouled the air, made swine flu seem mild.  It took months but finally the Mayor fixed the holes, but not the sewer.  He fixed what could be seen as broken, not the broken part still underground – the part hidden beneath the cracking street under which the Qwest cable lies or lay.  The Qwest cable is a lie.  In the best of worlds it might carry 5M service.  It can’t.  It’s cracked and sewer water and rain water seeps in and slows things down and I know this because I have X-Ray vision (like Superman) or maybe because Qwest spent four hours yesterday fixing everything else and still my Qwest speeds really suck (a New Mexican, maybe Spanish too, word that means “not good”, “needs to be better”, “could be better if some one did something today and not tomorrow (manana).

Sunday evening was “bath night” in Albuquerque.  I took my Sunday bath on Sundays in Carson City and in Kabul when I lived there too.  It’s an all-American thing; get ready for school on Mondays, clean and fresh, the morning of the week; it’s good to be clean and bright and be ready for an education.  Baths probably start at eight, use lots of water (down the drain).  Your drain (if you live in Albuquerque or nearly any other place) combines with others, enters drains and sewers, flows downhill in what eventually combines into one large “down load” (water and soap and flushings, not bits and bytes of speed).

Chances are (depending on where one lives) that all this wet will end up going down, rushing down, 15th Street; underground like where the Qwest cable is.  It takes a little time.  Water does not move at the speed of light like cable does, DSL does, ones modem does.  Water obeys the laws of physics, resistance against the walls and pipes and broken cracked mains.  It takes time for water to “wick up”, to seep through cracks and saturate the earth and ground and points of separation between broken mains and broken wire sheathings.  Engineers understand this, how it works; why this situation might not work.
Once one thinks about it they don’t have to be an Engineer; it’s easy to GET once you “get it”; a real world education.

So about 9:00 PM or 9:30 my Qwest High-Speed Internet speed went from maybe 1.24 to nothing.  The static on my filtered phone line was so bad I could barely make a call.  Qwest repair was of course not busy because Qwest repair was closed; not taking calls for the Philippines or for Mumbai.

The download kept on downloading for an hour, no relief, just water and waste and waiting for tomorrow to reach Qwest and hear Qwest say we’ll come out “tomorrow”.

By Wednesday (because “tomorrow” is never really tomorrow) Qwest came out.  Changed every wire not new already; new wire to my house was new two years ago, new line box new then too, new customer box new two years ago, new modem new on Saturday, new Internet (5M in theory) new on Sunday (the activation date, not the Qwest install date).  On Wednesday I got new twisted pairs (same old cable), new routing on the wires behind my house, a new new Qwest modem that was older (but maybe better).

It took 4 hours (I said that).  Four hours with Qwest is a long, long time; worth maybe $400 counting wages, pension, truck, insurance, benefits, medical.  In the many years of static service (meaning line static on the phone when it rains and drains to river or when too many people shower or flush) Qwest must have spent at least $2,000 at or near my house.  One overhead bit of fiber cable would have solved it all.  They said “no” then.  They say “no” now.  “You’ll live and die with copper”.  “You live in Albuquerque, in downtown, in old town, in an old neighborhood”.  “You knew it was old, it’s going to stay old so we won’t help it (or you)”.

My dialogue is all made up.  Qwest Communications insists that their communications are confidential.  They’ve posted warnings on their emails, “Confidential” – “These words are owned by Qwest”.  My words are owned by me (so be it).  It is taking ownership of actions, not words, that matters.  Qwest still won’t fix the line.  Last night I had a 1.26 M speed, some people bathe daily I guess; I guess they get clean for Thursdays, but it is Sundays when the big wash will come; but now it’s raining, so maybe more will be lost.

One mile of plastic wire.  One mile would make me and others free.  One Miracle Mile to separate downloads (wet) from downloads (bytes) and make Qwest’s lies the truth, 5M service could be almost 5 M service like I will pay for.  The chances of this happening ever?  Qwest will tell me “tomorrow”.

Don’t hold your breath.  I won’t hold mine.

[Originally written:  2010.04.01 / Thursday – The root of War]