Dub Love for life!

drive till I die.

On Portlandia, my Paradise & Free at last
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My Dad shared an article from the Washington Post that discussed Portland's history as a mecca for white supremacists. These are facts I have been aware of for some time, but as a person who lived there for many years, I can tell you some of my experience with Portland and Oregon as a whole.

First, Portland is the only city in America where I have never once been called any racist epithet. Period. By anyone.

Portland is also a city in which I see gays, and trans people in every neighborhood of the city walking about and living life without fear. Unlike SF where "The Castro" is a safe haven for the LGBT community, but the rest of the city can get downright scary, these communities feels safe and free all over portland.

As for the rest of Oregon, over 96,000 square miles of state, in 2007, I installed over 1500 computers in every US Forest service installation in every shithole backwater village in the Oregon. During these several months, I spent many nights sleeping in my car on the sides of forest roads where hotels did not exist. I was shocked by the friendliness and welcome that I received in these tiny "hick communities", and again never had a single racial epithet or unkind word thrown my way.

I have been made aware through my years here that "Springfield" (across I5 from Eugene) is a potentially unsafe community, as well as "Myrtle Creek" in Southern Oregon, and have watched my back when working in these places, but have never experienced any of the same feelings of "non-safety" that flow all over Illinois or other places I have lived.

As a person who has traveled all over America, and lived or worked in most of America's cities traveling as an interracial partner, tattooed, pierced, and having other strikes against me as a several-part minorty even old stories about Oregon's racial history, or the yearly white supremacist gathering in John Day won't scare me away from this great state.

I feel that racism is everywhere in some capacity, but the fear I constantly felt in Illinois has never been matched or even tickled anywhere in the PNW. Even last summer when I spent 12 days crossing the USA, Jordan and I experienced heavy discrimination almost every where we went and were relieved to arrive safely back in PNW where it's normal to be an interracial couple covered in tattoos and piercings.

Not happy with all the negative publicity our great conmunities have been getting the last few years between the New Yorker's scare tactics about earthquakes and some idea that our modern day Portland could ever match the hatred living in 30 other states in America..

Just my 2 cents and my inside view

Wednesdays Suck: Life in the Valley
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For some reason, I've come to associate the last 24-36 hours before my shot with the movie "Fifty First Dates". I keep trying to put my finger on the parallel, but it eludes me. I think my idea pertains to Lucys confusion in the mornings that things dont go according to plan & her frustration & fear that everything maybe isnt perfect in her world!

My world is like this:

Wednesday, I get my shot at night. Its a pleasant buzz, as my body & mind balances its chemistry, and my mind settles from the confusion and upset of the last day or so. I "get my emotions back", and I suddenly care about everyone and everything. Of course, there are a few really emotional moments when I reflect on interactions from "the valley" (the last 24-36 hours prior to getting my shot), and see clearly that I should not have had those conversations or confrontations while in "the valley". Then the guilt settles, and I again wonder how I can work around/cope with the day-&-a-half every week (about 20% of the rest of my life) that I'll live in this valley.

The rest of the week following my shot is pleasant. I'm happy, clear-minded and focused, able to make and complete goals, get where I want to be on time, and accept criticism with clarity, and respond responsibly. This last has not always been the case for me. As a teen, and throughout my adult life, I struggled not to have an emotional breakdown when criticism was handed in my direction, especially from my Father! Sometimes, everything he said to me put me on the brink of self destruction, and he'd ask why I was reacting that way, but I never knew the answer!

Yes, the shot has brought me 80% emotional stability which is nice, and the schedule of the rollercoaster is easily defined and predictable, so I know to avoid everyone except Rissa & Jordan during this time period (somehow they deal with it), but what about the rest of my world?

How do I adequately convey to anyone that when I'm in my valley I lose everything special about my personality? How can I tell you that at the least, I'll become a flat, blank sheet of paper: emotionless, uncaring, uncompassionate, unable. In the middle, and throughout the period, I lose my charisma and self-confidence. I am often depressed or suicidal, paranoid and edgy. It's common for me to express self-deprecating speech, or speak of my death as though it's impending. And at the worst, I'll be mean or crass, or caustic, depending how bad the balance is off! Many weeks, I feel I'd rather be dead then face my Rollercoaster another week, and a few of those times ago, I had to ask a friend to hold my pistol indefinitely.

I think back to the many years prior to 2016, before I found balance in a 25g needle. When I had no idea anything was wrong, I just thought of myself as "highly emotional". Was it really worse then, that I cried at the drop of a feather, or raged at a broken pencil? Only the faces around me can know that answer.

For myself, the struggle of the valley is real. Rissa used the analogy that "its like he gets his period every week instead of every month". Not being female, I cant say I know what its like to have my period but I know a bitchy woman on her's, and I know many emotional types as well. I've been frustrated by them my whole adult life. Now I am them. Every week!

So what to do? My best thought is simply full isolation from loved ones for that time period. But there's other important considerations. I need a job badly, but I'm afraid of what will happen if an interview falls in the pit of the valley. And how could I tell an employer in a professional environment that "I need Wednesday off because I go crazy on that day" LOL!

HOW WOULD THAT WORK? Looking back, Ive been lucky. Most of my jobs have been back-room techie jobs where I havent had to interact with anyone. Just sit at my desk and type or tinker. And I had coping mechanisms back then, or at least, i was in a constant state of depression for many years so it was easier to accept. Im at a loss on how to continue.

This feels majorly dysfunctional. I try not to cast about looking for someone from my past to blame for not noticing this when I was young because they say if I'd gone on hormones as a teen, Id be a "normal, functioning" adult right now. I'd be strong, and undamaged, and my body's infrastructure would be in much better shape. For the moment, I'll just continue to blame God, since everything starts there.

Cincy 2016.
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Left PNW last weds for Cincy, Wilmington, OH in white 84 Rocco. NOW WERE in Soho. Dead Battery, bad CV joint D-side. Good times.

Could never have considered/seen it coming
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Ok.. Im back.  I lost the password for this thing for like 3 years.  Things have changed but I still have my White Rocco, and now have an 84 Gti.. I just drive Subarus now for dailys.   LOL

The trip.. All hail the Rocco!
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well so we left Portland 5am Friday heading east.. i was tired from only like 4 hours of sleep the night before on Chris's floor and 5 hours each of the two nights prior- horrible way to prep for a trip.  in short, i was exhausted.  i drove about 8-10 hours.. into Idaho before I couldnt do it anymore.. i asked rissa to drive  for a while so I could sleep and I did a little.

I took over again about half way through wyoming afater soem crappy sleep and drove all the way to ft collins, CO where we got a hotel and got to bed at 2'oclock mtn sat morning.  again i didnt sleep well and I was up at 8:30 am feeling not rested enough but unable to go back to sleep.  Rissa wanted more sleep though and we left there at 11:30 and drove to Denver to pick up Cousin Mike whom i havent seen in 3-4 years.

That made the trip less comfy- our already too small rocco became smaller as we added my Cousin, his suitcase and laptop to the already tiny Scirocco.  But we were determined and the hours passed with good conversation and reminiscing.  I like Mike- i think hes my only family member who actually gets me.

So far the trip had been snow free, but when we hit western IA, we hit a fairly intense snowstorm.  It was blowing and quickly accumulating and that meant no one but me was going to drive.  I was glad we got a complete set of new, steel, studded tires at Double J when we got to Portland Thursday night although we did have to have the studs removed since they are illegal east of the Rockies; they were immensely helpful anyways.

Blowing snow over ice and heavy accumulation meant the trip was slow through Iowa- we did several hundred miles at speeds under 40mph, and the going was barely tolerable.  we counted dozens of cars and trucks in the ditch and I was certainly thankful for having grown up in the midwest and having made mid-winter-country-crossings before.

We arrived in Rockford around 10 am saturday after 53 total hours of travel, 40 of which was actual drive time.  We didnt do bad considering i drove most of my drive-time at 5 or more under the speed limit and we did not exceed the speed limit at all.  Also the FF plant with Peloquin that I replaced the 4k with a few days ago was hella awesome- we averaged 37mpg (packed to the gills) before we picked up Mike and 30mpg after which isnt bad considering the load.

The trip was stilll a bit of a drag considering the last time I drove home from IL, I made it in 28 hours but I have no desire to hurt my beautiful, White, Rocco.

Fuck people.
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Im so disappointed about Charles it isnt funny.. Today I caught him chopping wood inside the mobile. Im sure we've had more than one conversation about how the reason we had to replace the floor in there was because people had chopped wood inside.
I keep going back to Landmarkian theory over and over.  If I called my coach right now and asked why he thinks it is that the same story keeps occurring over and over and over with every single fucking person whom we have offered a worktrade-for-rent to, he would ask me to look at whom I'm being in relation to the helpers, and what it is that I am doing that has this situation keep repeating itself.
He would offer that since its occurring with a variety of different people from different walks of life all of whom dont know one another, that the problem must be within me and whom I am being for them.
Is this really the way things are?  I mean if I say, "there is no woodchopping in the house" and everyone seems to do it, does that mean there was something wrong with the way I phrased it?
I dunno.. I just dunno.. I feel like I just give and I give to so many.
Look at the history:
Our first summer together, Riss and I came upon BJ, Crystal and their dogs living in a BLM campsite in Kamas Utah.  They were homeless camping out, living in their van with their cats.  They wanted to see Portland and followed us to Portland.  No luck there so they followed us here.  Rented a house- lost their house right about now in 2005.  Suddenly homeless right before Thanksgiving and we didnt want them to be living in the rainy woods during the holidays, we brought them into the mobile with us.  Simple rules, no smoking in the house, no pets in the house, etc.  But they snuck in the cats anyways which pissed everywhere and for some reason that back room always smelled smoked in since-- until Cesily painted it.
Then, there was Jason.  Jason mostly worked out but his heavy christian, creationist beliefs caused a rift and you couldnt shut him up or make him be respectful.  He'd crank the TV in the family room so we'd be forced to listed to this nonsense.  And crank up christian rap and metal- trying to get the word through our deaf ears.
Then came the woofers.  Levi warned us most woofers were just homeless kids looking for a place to hang out but we screened them heavily, at least I did for the ones who came to help me and Rissa..
But they all turned out Bad..
Justine came here all by herself.  hitched here from PA.  Told me: "ive had a rough time.  I have skills and I want to believe in myself again."  She found that here, I think..- at least in the beginning she was an irreplaceable asset-  but on the way she also found coke, heroine, pub crawls and ruthie.  Ruthie rediscovered coke and h and together they painted alot of nonsense in the mobile, put in a bullshit tile floor, wasted lots of resources, and chopped a hole in the floor not to mention insisting on building bottle walls all over my yard after I asked them not to, and left over 1000 broken bottles on the ground near my bath house that im still not done cleaning up.d
The list goes on and ends most recently with Philip who came here and busted ass for like 3 weeks.  Every morning he came over and cleaned our kitchen till it sparkled and made up breakfast and other meals but as time wore on, he drank more and more.. smoked more and more, and eventually ended up destroying a ton of shit in the mobile including cesily's futon mattress, some family blankets and a feather bed along with stealing several items...
Charles talked about Phillys actions like he was appalled but now he's phil too..
I'm ranting and raging and insisting to myself that Charles will be the last stray I bring home but will he?  i have an art, it seems for finding the most eager homeless people who end up being the biggest losers with the most excuses.  i have no idea what i could have done different with Charles..  What could I have said that would have inspired him to complete one item on the Stewarts list?  just one?  Im going to put a second coat of stain their deck Sunday.  its not what I want to do Sunday but its got to be done and Charles clearly isnt going to do it.  It's been sunny and 50 every day this week and he hasnt lifted a finger to do anything other than chop wood in the living room..
I will say this.  I know what its like to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Ive been the guy saying: "this will end no matter what I do", but in this case it will end because of what he wont do.  He says he only manifests in forward- that everything will work out positive.  He says also though that "this wasnt going to work out anyways because my whole life no matter what I do, or how hard I try, I always get the short end of the stick- I have worked my ass off here and in the end im going to get kicked out anyways"

Oh, ho!  How bout you get up, do the 7 things on your list that I havent done for you, and then see how things turn out!!
But I cant be a crutch for every person who cant figure their shit out.  I want to help people.  I feel like I was born to be in service to others in some fashion but do I need a 56 year old man sitting on the couch in my guest house spending every penny he gets on Hurricane Ice, smoking bowl after bowl of weed, while he complains he has no money for his Kids' Xmas, no way to do the chores he agreed to do in exchange for rent, and that nothing will work for him without a car?  Has he forgotten that I got him a car just 5 months ago and he destroyed it acting like an irresponsible teenager??

I had the highest hopes for Charles and this is just a reminder of why I wish to end up in the middle of the woods, 100 miles from another living being.  Because 90% of the world is more full of shit than I am.

The slippery slope
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In a country where we we are threatened by potential governmental control of food supplies, and even our right to forage under the continually proposed S510 bill, citizens finally find themselves challenged to take a stand for freedom to use plants how we wish.  Should we be forced to eat the food the Government tells us is "safe" because Monsanto pays them to say it is?  And what about plant medicine? Should the government have total control of which medicine each patient requires for their ailments, or should individuals get to choose which medicine works best for them based on personal experience?

The fact is that America and specifically Washington faces an imminent threat to our personal rights to use plants in relation to the Washington Liquor Control Board's recently proposed radical changes to the state's Medical Cannabis laws.  These changes would take away  medical patients of cannabis right to choose their medicine provider, as well as the right to choose the type of medicine they are able to use to treat their personal conditions.  Also it would make it illegal for medical patients to grow their own medicine, and potentially possess the type of medicine specifically needed for their ailment; in effect, they will be required to go to government facilities and to accept whatever medicine the government allows them for their medical condition.

This type of control of naturally occurring plants is unacceptable.

Personally, I have been historically against the use of Marijuana for any reason at all either medically or recreationally.  I am still against its use for recreational reasons.  However, a year or so ago, I was approached by a friend who suffers from high anxiety, and chronic pain and asked to grow this medicine for her.  I was reluctant to help her due to my personal issues with recreational marijuana users but she had a point:  I have a very green thumb.  I am meticulous in nearly everything I do and as a lifestyle overachiever, I could easily learn to provide her the best quality medicine she could find.

So with reticent caution I took on her cause.  Since then I have learned a lot about the power of medical marijuana.  I have also invested thousands of dollars of my own money into providing specific powerful medicine to my friend and to others in need throughout our statewide community.  I have discovered joy in honing the processes of essential oil production and in being able to help people either by sharing in my growing knowledge or by sharing strains specific to their needs.

As a non-user of any cannabis either medically or recreationally, I have no personal stake in seeing the current laws of Washington upheld other than in sharing the benefits of medical cannabis with the communities around me.  I will, however be attending tomorrow's lobby to protect the rights of patients to grow their own medicine, and the right to collective gardens and to choose who provides their medicine to them.  I am a boutique grower of medicine specific to the needs of my client and tomorrow i will stand to protect her right to use naturally occurring plants to treat her illnesses.

We should all stand against this obvious governmental attempt to gain commerce in favor of the individual right to medical treatment specific to our needs and in favor of being able to freely utilize plants from the land provided us naturally by God.

I am an existential nihilist
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I am.  when asked what I believe, I often say nothing.  What I mean is that I have no religious beliefs.  I dont believe in heaven or hell.  I'm pretty ambivalent on the subject.  If it works for you fine, but its far too sketch of a theory for my logical mind-type.  I also believe everything about our lives is pointless.  We are all the same: intelligent organisms trapped on this planet with no where to go, no one to go see.  Our lives start and end the same way: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  We began as nothing and we end as nothing.
On the other hand, I do believe in some things.

I believe in the power of action.  Talk all you want but it will get you nowhere till you something about what you're talking about doing.  Hippies seem to have a knack for talking about everything and doing nothing.  I hate that.

I believe in giving any and everything I do 100%.  Whats the point of doing anything if you wont put 100% effort into it.  i.e. finish what you start even if it takes you years to do so.  Mom always said: "You get out what you put in.  If you put in 10% effort, you'll get 10% reward."  I only partially agree with this.  I mean I agree 100% but what you get out might be what you were looking to.  EX: I put all my money and time into my IT business for 4 years, and what I got out of it was alot of knowledge about what to do (and what not to do) when running a successful business (mine failed).  What I didnt get was any of my or my investors money back out of it.

So saying...

Im asking myself right now why the fuck I dont just give up, throw in the towel, and let this project piss off into the stream.  I can do that right now.  I can put down my spray bottles and my scissors and let the whole thing disappear into the ether.  But I wont.  I cant.  I cant because that's not how I roll.  Yeah, I may lay down projects that CAN be laid down, for a time, but I always go back.  And projects that cant (like this one which is of a timed reality) I just power through even when there is nearly a one hundred percent chance of failure.  I know from experience that at least in that failure, there will be something worth learning.  Some tool, I can put away for future reference.

And also, for the people whom Ive promised something out of this, I wish to fulfill that promise like so many I havent before for them.  I feel that if I put forth 100% effort and still fail, how can they fault me?

Thats how I believe

Where community is replaced by commerce
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Remember the days when Dublove was just that?  Community was the number one concern for us hardcore drivers: that and performance and mods.  We'd get together in groups, make friends, share info, share parts and contacts all for the love of the Dubs.  Well, maybe that's not how it is anymore, at least not for our local community leaders.
It's something I have been seeing in the Portland VDub community for about 10 years.  All the guys who were once in it for the fun all began to chase the buck, and slowly, but surely, business overtook the value of pleasure, sales became the number one goal, and stuffing already-fat pockets superceeded interest in good will.

Today, I am pained to say that in my opinion, the last "good" watercooled shop in Portland has fallen prey to the same greed that buried all but a handful the other lasting shops a decade ago.

I moved to Portland in 1999, and for many years, kept to myself, maintaining my rabbits as best I knew how with parts from the junkyard.  Then, in 2003, a friend told me about this "awesome Vdub shop" near the airport where the owners were "hella cool" and would "help you with problems just out of sheer Dublove."  I went down there and was instantly connected with Joe, the co-owner of Double J.  He had an infectious sense of humor and never minded taking a few minutes to bullshit with me, help me think through a problem, or on occasion to loan me a tool to get my job done.

Through the years, Double-J has been a wonderful resource for me, and for the Portland community.  I may be my own mechanic, but I am also committed to community growth, so I got in where I fit in. For years I have worked hard to attend as many community events as possible, even after I moved 100 miles from Portland to the SW Washington Coast.  I have also busted my ass to repay Double-J for their kindness both to me and to the community at large by sending every single person who has needed VW repair there. Word of mouth rules and I have also kicked ass sharing about Double J's events, and every good experience I have had with Joe as their leader and with many of their other techs as well.

As of yesterday, my good relationship with Double-J has most likely come to pass. In truth, it's been a cumulative experience starting just about the time that Joe's wife became the business manager or something.  I bet it's been a year since I have been able to successfully get a hold of anyone in the shop during business hours to ask simple questions or to quiz them about whether or not I should bring my car in for service.  Carrie's answer is always "bring it in". Like who cares if I have to tow it 100 miles for a simple relay- it's money in their pockets. At first this was just an assumption for me but the few times I have been in there over the past months, I've gotten to witness her Gestapo tactics first hand. Shes not even trying not to be rude when she interrupts our conversation to say: "Joe, I know you want to hang out but these parts wont order themselves".

That was the last time I was there, when Joe was showing me & Chris this sick Rocco.  I doubt Ill go back.
Where did the days go when I'd go into the shop and Joe would offer to show me some pics of sick rides, or a good resource for parts or other nifty stuff?  To me, Double J has always been the possibility of fun, and community but these days the walls reek of unfulfilled commercial greed.  Look, I'm a realist.  Everything always comes down to money.  No one starts a business and thinks: "I hope my business does not do very well", but there's got to be a balance.  People equal income.  Keep me happy and nothing but accolades will fall from my lips.  Consider me worthless and... Well, do unto others as you would have done until yourself.

 Without the people, the business will surrender.  Without guys like me standing for great companies like Double J, they eventually go under because I'm more than just an invoice.  I am a voice.  I am a guy who has 3 Double- J shirts and wears them all the time, and when people ask what DJM is, I tell them, "They are the best VW shop in the Northwest".

But now I don't know if I've been backing the right team. And I know I'm not the only guy whose been around for years who feels this way.  Today I got together with a few guys of the old school- People who have also been acquainted with Joe for the decade I have been, and more.  Wow. Its really been that long. Lately, Pac Waterland has been making impressions on people and this year the response is muted outrage.  Some of the most surprising people made disparaging comments in the aftermath.  One person, who is much closer to anyone at Double J than I am said: "I feel sorry for Joe.  The show used to be all about fun, but these days, it's Carrie's show and she's all about the money.  Notice how the whole staff is volunteer?"  And he made the sign of money with his fingers.

Sure, lots of things in life are about money, but I remember the early days of Pac Waterland with just as much nostalgia as when Double J was back on Marx.  Blue Lake park.  A field.  It was all about the cars, and the fun. Sick rides and swap meets. Even Carried had fun back when it was not much more than a big GTG in a field.  Sure, it's still all that and then some: Drag racing too, but there's the issue with the money overriding it.  The last time I showed a car in Pac Waterland, the show entry was $25 and that included my admission. Drag Racing was also $25 the year before that, but this year was different.  Admission was separate: $15 plus $25 to show my car- a whopping $40 and if I'd wanted to race, I'd have paid $45 plus $15!  The most expensive show entry fee in the Northwest. In the end, I drove 300 miles round trip for nothing. My beautiful, all original 150k 84 Scirocco wasn't shown to anyone, and it didn't go down the track either.  Instead it just sat in the parking lot along with a lot of other show-worthy cars, driven by equally disappointed Dublovers.

Not that anyone would have really considered showing their car worth it considering the judges have chosen the same winners just about every year, which isn't exactly inspiring.  This year was a different system but no one knew it ahead of time because the Pac Waterland website was designed and published by a complete amateur who failed to provide more than the most basic information about the show- lets not talk about how its incompatible with phones, tablets, and small screens). With all the money they are charging, you'd think they could afford a decent, informative,navigable site!
Of course there's more.  After talking with six or seven different staff volunteers, I found out that even after parking ran out, Carrie ordered the staff to keep bringing in cars- "put em somewhere, just get their money" is what she was said to have stated! There were other comments and complaints too- so many I was overwhelmed to hear them.  I mentioned I would write about it in my blog and more comments came my way but I got lost in the overarching negativity of the whole.

So, I'm more than a little pained to say that yesterday was my last Pacific Waterland if things stay the way they are.. Without the feeling of a hangout GTG, it was nothing more than a corporate-sales event.  When I saw Joe, and said hi, I got a stoney-faced apology about how he was working and he's happy I came with not a trace of joy in his voice.  I pity Joe because I think he knows that wasn't why he got into it.  Joe, I think, misses the days at the smaller, old shop when fun superceeded money and smiles were what the days were about.  Yeah, maybe he didn't have as much bank stacked, but he was enjoying himself.

And for me?

The future for me lies in cruises. There are always cool cars, and community and the money usually goes to some cause other than greed.  I guess it's really no skin off anyone's back that me and others feel this way.  And I doubt anyone who has these topics on their mind will say poo to Joe or anyone else about it- (politics rules- even my best VW friend who speaks the loudest asked to have his name kept out of it) but someone has to point out the obvious.  Double J has a niche cut into the market now that's irreversible and they will continue to make money with or without my support .

And to clarify, it's not because I don't believe in Joe.  I do.  I just don't like who he's become since he let his wife start running his business.  They write books on why no one should do that.

In the back of my mind I will hope for healing for Carrie and Joe.  Fun is what attracted me to Double J in the first place and kept me as a close supporter for over a decade and without it, they are just another commercialized car repair shop out to rape the customer and that's damn sad. It still pains me some that this is how it ends.

My old dog
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Rocky has turned 12 this June 26th.  Four years ago, Dr. Goza said he wouldnt be likely to last 2 more years.  Rocky weighs close to 100lbs now, but its difficult to keep his weight up.  He's a big, beautiful, wonderful chow/lab dog who's always been nothing but a giant, squishy, squashy lover.  When Im working on stuff, he's right there with me, although in his old age, loud noises and equipment scare him, (he was never fond of chainsaws) and so sometimes he will just lay down 20-30 yards from me.  Still, he's never once betrayed me and always been my very best friend.

The thing is, Rocky's going out now.  Its slow, and he holds on to my love for him like a sailor found at sea clings to a lift-rope, but watching his progress downward is often painful.  This is a dog whose puppyhood was full of pounding paws, and high-jumps that could never be rivaled by any other dog I've met.  Even Pebble, whose pit/lab energy is overwhelming at times, could never accomplish the kind of air my Rocky could!  Nor can many dogs catch food thrown from yards away without even looking at it.  That boy's nose was never weak when it came to food!

Now Rocky's tired.  Hes had strokes and sometimes doesnt have a clue whose voice is talking to him.  Even in the last couple months, ive noticed his hearing misleading him- he often cant pinpoint the direction of my voice, and most assuredly every piece of food I throw at him hits him in the face.

Watching my boy go downhill is surely the worst thing I've had to see.  I guess we have to see every great dog go out like this, but it does not make my pain for his suffering any less.  Although Ive got an idea that hes not really suffering.  Yeah, he stumbles here and there but his smile is genuine, and his excitement at spending time with me is still met by (little) bounces and happydances.

Love my RockyDog.

Fuck this job.
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its been a fucked up two weeks..   Im exhausted from the most disasterous job ever.  Not my disaster.  My work was near perfect from the start other than I accidentally switched two amphenol cables from the RJ21x.  Five minute fix.  All the rest is software and programming issues on the hosted pbx.  The worst part is I got punished heavily for mess-ups that were not my own.
it didnt help that some techs from REMCO went out there, didnt understand they were looking at a hosted pbx system, and rewired a bunch of jacks for analogue pbx.  Then, when they went to the frame, they reported that the cross connects were a mess: "looped all over the place."
Naturally.  Because each room has two jacks, from a prior 2-line system, and two phones, every extension has to loop to both pairs on the block.  >duh<  This is the experience of my technical career.  I'm a giant among hobbits.  I cant explain anything basic enough for the novice on the other end of the room, in some software room to understand well enough to report that yes, the job was completed correctly.
So here I am angry at a company I have done contract work with for more than half a decade, and thinking of quitting permanently over this.  I came down for a three day job and have been stuck here dealing with call-backs for an additional 8 days.  I almost exploded when I woke up this morning to an email saying that everything I went in and fixed (that remco had fucked up) yesterday was still broken!

If I dont quit, I may get fired.  I ripped the project manager a new one pointing out that all the issues the site is still having are still software issues that have existed since I first completed the job, and that they are NOT things I have any ability to correct.  Dropped calls from a pbx are certainly nothing to do with hardware connections.  Nor is random noise on the line.  :(  Uggh.  Soo.. I pretty much told them to fuck off today.  Im not going back.  Ive left my phone off all day and if they dont pay me, oh well.  The fact is, I've already been paid less than the job promised.

And Dad makes me wrong for hating IT work.  Sure, it pays well but who gives a fuck when it makes me so miserable.  I havent seen my sweetie in 11 days and Im not likely to see her tonight.  It will be a full two weeks by the tiem I get home and the pay is certainly NOT worth that.

On another shitty note, my exhaust got a horrible exhaust leak during all the hundreds of miles too and from the job which should never have happened- I should have had a comped room waiting for me, but they wouldnt give me one so I had to stay at Chris's 40 miles away in a tent.  Now I have to fix my car before I can go home and to date, Chris's broken truck has been occupying the driveway so I havent been able to do it.  Now, we are almost done fixing that, so I will hopefully be able to fix my ride tonight.

Some good news is that I managed to get Monique safely (I hope it's safe there) delivered to her gf's parents house in Spokane.  I have a bad feeling I will be going back there to pick her up before long.  Im sad that she has no one but me to help her out becuase something tells me that is a horrible situation for her there.

In other good news, I did manage to go to OCF with a friend whom I love and adore and dont often see.  It was a rare occasion to bond with a woman with whom I could have easily fell in love in another lifetime.  Im glad to have had the time with her.  And I also saw Chenoa Durheim-- One of my soul mates.

The coundown is here: less than 30 days.
MKI GTI Cartoon
26 days to Leavenworth Drive.  Today I began my journey to the Leavenworth drive.  Pulled the 78 out of the Shopagon and got it up on jack stands.  Tomorrow I do the fuel pump, rear beam, rear discs.  Wire harness.  Tuesday Portland, Wednesday: engine and trans.  Thursday Axles and wheel bearings... Hopefully it will be complete by end of week.

the big question is how will I get it out of the yard on a 3inch drop?

What Gun Control?
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My brother and my best friend from childhood both think I should get rid of my assault rifle and my automatic handgun.  I ask why: they are not hurting anyone under lock and key, in their heavy safe.  My argument is that while I may have no use for either now, that could easily change at any time.

When thinking about this debate, i think it is important to recognize that the majority of gun related crimes are carried out using stolen guns.  These guns are typically stolen from one of two places: individual owners or manufacturers.

True Story

When I was 19, I got my hands on a NATO Chinese assault rifle- basically an AK47 replica which I purchased from an acquaintance for two hundred dollars.  This AR was stolen along with the 9mm handgun and a few other guns I got from the same guy.  For under $1000 i purchased five weapons, three of which were semi-automatic, one of which was an assault rifle.

The person responsible for stealing these guns, ironically now a gun control activist- (funny how becoming the father of two beautiful little girls can change a person) stole these and others from the home of a known gun collector.

My friend's description of the place these guns were acquired was of a house where every corner in the home had a pile of rifles (hunting and assault) leaned in the corners, and handguns in glass cases or tossed on shelves all over the place.  This home was only alarmed with a basic ADT system which was easily bypassed by the seventeen year old boy and a friend.

Here are my points:

People are pointing fingers in the wrong directions.  The plethora of inner city street crimes involving automatics that do not get mass media attention like the CT elementary school shooting or the f'd up Clackamas TC shooting are many times more prolific of a problem for America than the possibility of a mall or school being shot up, but people are apathetic about these crimes preferring, historically, to turn a blind eye to this violence and the type of weapons involved.

Then a school full of kids get shot up by a nut-wad and suddenly AR's are a spotlighted issue for concerned, emotional Americans who are too hurt and mollified to take a moment to make a clear assessment of the actual issues.

The fact is, assault rifles and semi-automatics, and guns in general have always been an issue in our crime-riddled country but not because we are allowed to own weapons.  Before gun reform can be considered, it is important to clearly define the concise problems before pointing fingers in random directions.  The reality of the situation is that forcing heavier background checks on gun buyers is not going to solve the issue, only deflect it away from the real, so far unstated problem.  

One place to start would be the current sanctions on general gun owner responsibility.

First, let's examine the gentleman gun owner of the weapons I procured at age nineteen.  While they were inside his own home, this man's guns were haphazardly tossed into corners of his house, lying around outside of lock and key without even having trigger locks installed on any of them.  

Further, and most importantly, the man never bothered to report them stolen.  How do I know?  A year after I got these weapons another friend who had purchased some of them from me was arrested with three in the trunk of his car.  He stayed tight-lipped about where he got them, and when their serial numbers were run, they came up clear.

Go figure.  Either the asshole who owned them had so many weapons he did not know they were stolen or he simply did not want to take the time to report them missing.  Whatever the case this type pf thing happens all the time.  

This summer an acquaintance went to Cali to work on a farm.  While he was there he broke a piece of equipment and the farm owner took his thirty-ott-six pump rifle as collateral for the equipment.  My friend never got it back and he did not report to the Oregon government that his rifle was no longer in his possession, or where it had gone.

Whose job is it to regulate weapons' ownership transfers?  I have no idea.  I've never really wondered because i have no intention of owning less or different guns than I already do.

The fact is, from my point of view, there is not enough restriction placed on gun owner responsibility.  If my friend's rifle is used in a robbery or a killing, will he be held responsible?  Maybe.  More likely, if it even comes back to him, he will get a good lawyer to prove he moved back to Michigan and has a solid alibi for the time to crime occurred and the responsibility will be shifted elsewhere.

This is the problem.  The people purchasing the guns are not being held to enough responsibility when their guns are being used for crimes.  In my opinion, if my own lack of responsibility results in my .40 caliber handgun being stolen, and used for a crime, I should have to withstand the full measure of the law as a criminal or a felon or what have you for my irresponsibility in assuring the security of my weapon.

Put another way if I stand before a court of law and am unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I took proper precautions to secure my weapon, I should have to face severe penalties.  Further, if I do in fact prove that such precautions were taken and my weapon was still stolen but I did not report it to the proper authority, filing whatever paperwork is necessary to remove it from my name, and let the authorities know this weapon has gone into criminal circulation, I should have to face heavy criminal punishment for failure to report the theft or loss of said weapon.  

Regarding weapon ownership transfers, the same type of restrictions should be applicable: There needs to be a more rigid, universal, national policy regarding weapon ownership transfers, like vehicle title transfers.  When I sell you a vehicle, if I do not report the sale of said vehicle to the government within "x" number of days, I pay a penalty. Furthermore if that vehicle is involved in an accident, and i have not reported its sale, and the new owner has not put it into his name, I am responsible for that accident as legal owner of the vehicle.  The same should apply for weapons.

In closing, certainly controlling who gets guns based on their background can be valuable, but it is no end-all solution.  I have a friend who spent his life as a responsible gun owner.  When he was in his 60's, he shot and killed a cat which was attacking his own feline pet with a small caliber rifle.  As a result he received a felony conviction for "accidental animal cruelty" and because of that, he will not be allowed to own any sort of gun ever again.  

This is poppycock!

About Me: For Melissa Amster
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A friend sent me this email request: 

I'm reading a book called One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern. In the story, a woman has to track down all these people on a list and find out their story. I've decided to do this on a smaller scale and have chosen people at random. If you're receiving this message, you have an opportunity to appear on my blog (http://merrylandgirl.com) and share some fun things about yourself. I'm calling it "52 Stories" (hopefully getting a balance of male and female) and posting one a week for all of 2013. If you're interested in participating, please answer the following questions (a couple of sentences for each, at least) OR pick one of the questions and write a few paragraphs.

If you want to keep it anonymous, just share your initials or make up a fun nickname. You're welcome to share your real name though (first and last or just first). Whichever makes you most comfortable. I just think that everyone has a story to tell and this is a good way to bring up such stories. I've used all these questions for various blog project posts in the past, so you can go back through the blog read my thoughts on them, if you wish.

I'd like to get the first post up next week, since it is technically the first week of the year. So if you're brave and want to volunteer, please answer these as soon as possible.

Name you'd like to go by:
Age (or age range):
Location (can just list state/country/province if you don't want to be specific):

*What is an experience that is legendary for you?
*What is your guilty pleasure?
*What is something you've never done but you would like to do?
*If you could give someone one of your favorite things as a gift, what would it be and why?
*What is something you did that changed someone's life?
*What part of your personality is now extinct?
*What is one thing that you find really funny?
*Tell me one thing you love about yourself (or a gift you'd like to get yourself, where money is not an issue):
*What TV show, book or movie is most like your life?
*What is something that not many people know about you?

My Response:

On days when there is actually sun in the normally rainy sky, it sets too soon, low over the western bend of the Naselle river, right on the county line between Wahkiakum & Pacific Counties.  The river borders the North side of my wife's family's land, to which we live adjacent.  Our home is new to our town of 419 and according the most recent concensus, it's the only shipping container home in either county our town occupies.  Also, according to the most recent citizen census, I am the only African American male actually residing in our small, close-knit town.

Regrettably, my wife and I don't really fit into the close-knit portion of this community, but that's okay;  I am a stand that in time, things will change for us.  Our home is off grid and functions on less than one half of a kilowatt of power, ninety percent of the time.  This means that unlike most Americans, we do not have a TV we watch regularly or do many other things most Americans would consider “normal”, either.  

In my town, I am not only very new, and therefore an outsider, I am known to many as the town crazy.  In that, I am somewhat of a legend.  For instance, not only did I build the first Shipping Container home in the region, but I did it wholly between myself, my wife, and a single friend through the middle of a horribly stormy winter.  In fact, three years ago, right at this time, I was busy with one friend and a rented 30 ton crane stacking up shipping boxes and welding them together at all hours of the day regardless of time or weather.  This is why everyone around here thinks I'm crazy.

Maybe I am a little bit whacky.  My number one favorite thing to do is to contribute to others' lives. Through building my home, I have started a small project called “The Generosity Project.”  In this, I have made deep impacts on the lives of many young people but one person in particular comes to mind.  The young Andrew came to the GP January of 2011 to “learn how to be a man” in his words.  Andrew wanted to learn how to survive in the country, to build things, weld, learn some mechanical skills, hunt, fish and generally gain some real-life experience that he felt would be beneficial contributions to his adult life.

Over the course of one year, Andrew was instrumental in building much of the infrastructure around my home including landscaping, a cinder block room, our 16 x 30 workshop, and most notably, a 30 foot timber “roundhouse” which he built entirely on his own out of reclaimed “slash” timber gleaned from nearby clear-cuts.  

On leaving the GP for the last time last month, Andrew told me that his time working with me “changed his life and made him who he is by teaching him numerous skills that will 'contribute greatly' to his future, while helping him find himself”.  It has been a joy to work with him for the last two years and am as grateful for his help as he is for my contributions to him.

The experience of getting to know Andrew has been great fun. When we met, through a help exchange web site, we knew nothing of one another but have created an amazing friendship together.  We've gotten deeply close to one another even admitting to each other our guilty pleasures.  For me, its modern pop and most specifically crappy greats like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake both of whom I love to sing along loudly to while beebopping my head in my car.

Yesterday, as I was changing the ball joints on one of my cars I pondered that the thing I love best about myself is my ability to fix just  about anything.  It brought to mind a recent experience where a close friend in Tacoma 150 miles away had both her and her boyfriend's cars break in one weekend.  The repairs would have been devastatingly expensive if I had not taken a weekend to go to a junkyard, find and pull the proper parts, and install them on both their cars.   My selflessness is a gift I cherish because contributing to the lives of others is certainly my greatest pleasure.

I have never gone very far outside of the continental United States, however,  my lovely wife and I intend to do some mission work where we  will travel through third world communities where I will teach English while she provides nursing and care services to people in need.  This is our greatest goal and I think the most valuable gift I could give another: love and support to those in need.

What I find really funny about the mission-work thing is that I was raised in a family where materialism is the number one goal, and until I met my wife, I was just that way.  I felt strongly that the place for me was in some fortune 100 company manning a cubicle, working on complex computer data solutions and earning as much money as humanly possible to enjoy a relaxing, expensive retirement.  These days, however, I find myself to be much more of a humanitarian believing that my greatest gift to the world and its communities is my knowledge and experience, rather than anything materialistic.

I wish I could say that my life is a parallel of someone else's experience as in a movie or book, but nothing compares.  I am a pioneer creating my own future one step at a time.  Our home is unlike any other in the country, our landscaping a permaculture expression of self-preservation mixed with organic solitude, and our outbuildings are each completely unique.  If I had to draw a parallel, I may call myself a modern-day Robinson Crusoe, but he had nothing of the technology or general community I have utilized to fulfill my dreams.  

I guess the most important thing about me is the thing least known by my friends and family.  That is my compulsions to create, and to homestead and all of that is simply the product of nothing other than depression.  Four years ago, I learned that I have a not-so-rare syndrome called Klinefelter's.  Its a DNA variation that has left me sterile, unable to produce off-spring.  The aftermath of this news has been devastating for my wife and I.  The worst part is this problem is normally discovered at a boy's early age, but somehow it was missed by my parents, and everyone until we began trying to have children.

This cruel joke played by God has been the most prominent power in my life of late.  The shock of it caused me to abandon a very successful IT company I had spent 5 years building, and to move here, to a small, close-knit town where becoming a “local” is unlikely at best during the course of your life.  

The important thing is it is a place where I can privately hone my artistic skills by building my home and distracting myself from the pain and mourning that has accompanied the loss of my natural Fatherhood.  While I journey through my odyssey, I keep my eyes open, waiting for the moment when the possibility of other avenues for personal fulfilment become available to me as my comfort level with this drastic life change levels out.  

Moron the Problem.
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I think one of the biggest problems with our whole world is that everyone spends so very much time pointing fingers at one another. My friends who are crazy into politics are always pointing at me wondering why I don't get involved in their political bickering, and why I pretty much refuse to vote beyond locally which to me is the only vote that really matters.

I think most of the problems we all face can be solved by destroying the global economy. Or at least by diminishing its value around the world. In my view, the most important, valuable thing we can all do is come together at the community level. Communities exist within communities. 

If we start small, at the base level of community: family, and learn how to grow strong, loving, committed families, and then neighborhoods, and after that, towns: rebuild from the ground up... 

Then, and only then, will we succeed as a world.

This, of course, is only my opinion. I have no real experience with politics, or economics or any of that, I just know what's in my heart and in my own community. I know my dreams and aspirations are small, but powerful. 

I may not dream about big cars, big houses, or making shitloads of money. None of those things matter to me anymore. I've worked at fortune 100 companies, and have earned more than the average American at a few jobs I have held including my own IT company, and it did not make me any better of a person. 

Money is inanimate. It is an aid in our lives. It gives us comfort only under the constructs of the society in which we live which could change at any time. 

True comfort comes from our place within community and it is unfortunate how many people, including myself do not have that. 

The important thing to remember is to start small. Start with the community called your family and make it strong with love and commitment. Then grow that family into a greater thing always adding people with powerful love, and an equally strong commitment to that of your family.

It feels so good.


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