she sat on a bus


The thing about great moments in history is that by the time they become “great moments in history”, the people involved have become almost super human….able to leap tall buildings, etc.

I’m listening to a book called Quiet by Susan Cain.  It’s a book about the real power that quiet, introverted people have in the world.

One of the people she talks about early in the book is the Civil Rights hero, Rosa Parks.

I knew who Rosa Parks was…I understood the history of it all…but…I didn’t know anything about her as a person.

Imagine a quiet person who gets on the wrong bus one day, a bus driven by a racist driver who she’d had a confrontation with years before.  She’d promised herself that after that earlier altercation that she would never ride his bus again.

But this day she’s tired and gets on his bus again…years after she’d made that promise to herself.

Of course, he yells at her and tells her to get off the bus….in his mind it’s a bus for “good white people”, and the law backs that up…it’s not a place where a colored woman can sit at the end of a tiring day.

And this time she just quietly says, “no”.

Rosa Parks, knowing the repercussions…knowing that refusing to give in to something so basically wrong as another racist’s demands is not going to end well for her…says “no”.

She wasn’t some militant, extroverted crusader…she was just a woman of courage who was willing in her own peaceful way to stand up against something that wasn’t fair…that hadn’t been fair for a long time.

She wasn’t too tired to move…she just didn’t move this day…and gave the Civil Rights movement a rallying point that allowed it to move against the unfairness found in much of the South…and the nation…at that time.

I will never understand what that feels like.  I’ve stood up against random bullying on occasion…but I will never understand what that felt like for Rosa Parks to stand up to that bus driver and the unfairness of the situation that day….to stand up to the unfairness she’d known all her life.

Rosa Parks is the woman who really got the Civil Rights movement started.

Rosa Parks,especially now that I understand more about what kind of person she was , is my new hero.

The thing about all this that I’m starting to understand as I get older is that maybe it makes it less somehow if anyone considers her actions as only a “great moment in Black History “…this was a great moment in history that was colorless.  Rosa Parks was a courageous human being.  Period.

Getting on that bus that day was a mistake.  It was just a random mistake that a tired woman of courage and conviction made…and then her response to the situation set things into motion that changed our world for the better.

This book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking  has opened my eyes to a lot of interesting people who changed things in an unassuming way.

I loved getting to know Rosa Parks a little better because of it.



taco bell gonna save the world

doritos taco

When I was going to school in Atlanta, we used to take our sketch pads to one of the parks downtown to draw.

We were stationary entities, sitting ducks for every curious homeless person who wanted to panhandle us or just find a captive audience for whatever rap they wanted to engage in.

I remember one guy came up to me and started to visit.

He put his arm around me and said, “You know what’s gonna save the world?”

I didn’t…”no, I don’t.”


I’ll never forget that….or wonder if he knew something I didn’t about how the world rolls.

Yesterday, I heard the news that because Taco Bell has a beloved product in the Doritos Taco, they were able to create over 15,000 new jobs.  Read the story here.


Forget cash for clunkers, forget incentive, buybacks, rebates, earned income credits, social security, or any other plan to save the country and our economy.

Forget all that stuff.

What the President and Congress and all the rest of them need to do is just take off those kid gloves, get themselves to a kitchen somewhere and start cooking up some delicious and addictive FAST FOOD!

(soylent green is PEOPLE, right?)

You hear news like Taco Bell’s and it all becomes clear what we as a country need to do.

And it also points out that job creation isn’t really about creating good jobs…it’s just about getting someone moving around behind a formica counter.  (There may be some Taco Bell folks who love their jobs…but from what I’ve seen it doesn’t always seem that way if you’re standing on the other side of the counter waiting for someone to lovingly construct another bean burrito ).

Any news is good news when it comes to taco sales going up, I guess…it’s just a weird commentary on our economy and on our eating habits, too.


white smoke


I grew up in a Lutheran household…so most news of the Catholic church didn’t go much farther than remembering that Martin Luther put some nail holes in their door.

Yesterday, they chose a new Pope.

Usually, I’d greet the news with curiosity.  The Catholic church is a foreign entity to me…not something I have any experience with…not something I have any really strong interest in.  It would be just another news story.  I don’t have any personal stake in how that particular type of Christianity practices their faith.

All this in spite of the awareness that the Catholic service is pretty close to the Lutheran one.

But….I really like this new Pope.

From the little I’ve heard about him, he sounds like someone who maybe can do the Catholic church and possibly the world a lot of good.

He sounds like a very socially aware and down to earth fellow.  It sounds like, from the little I’ve heard of him, that he loves God and loves the people.

A new Pope would normally fly so far under my radar that the only thing I’d notice is the white smoke and the pomp.

I am anxious to see what a good man can do when he’s given one of the highest positions in the Catholic world.

ted kills hogs

ted nugent salutingSomewhere, someone in this country will be eating a nicely grilled chicken breast or a well prepared veal cutlet and will say to their dinner companions, “Did you read that horrible article about Ted Nugent slaughtering all those nice wild hogs with a machine gun? from a helicopter?”

Here’s a link to the article…both the article and the photo above are from MSN…


Ted Nugent has never been shy about being outrageous.

It could be that that’s the problem with something like this for a lot of people.

When we slaughter millions of chickens so that we can enjoy a genetically enhanced super-breast, we don’t give it a second thought…as long as the blood’s on someone else’s hands or, like the case may be with the chickens, on someone else’s machine.

But when someone who’s totally pro-hunting touts the benefits of killing wild hogs from a helicopter, it sounds cruel and inhumane.

If we can continue to see animals as a product…raised in poor conditions for our later consumption…slaughtered in a factory setting for the sake of efficiency and will always seem strange that we find it easy to put down Ted Nugent for killing a bunch of wild pigs from the air.

I don’t want to slaughter anything…and I’ll probably mull that conviction over while I’m eating and enjoying my next big piece of chicken.

Ted’s take on the hog situation is that they screw a lot of stuff up…and the meat will feed a lot of hungry people.

Makes sense to get rid of them in that light.

It still feels kind of weird to think of someone shooting them from a helicopter.

But…how weird is it to think about killing a bunch of chickens in a factory?  Who wants to think about that?  Not me, for one…that’s why I buy my meat at WalMart.  It keeps the blood off my hands.

I guess that if we continue to eat meat, and we have any problem with hunting or with Ted Nugent, we’re a hypocrite.  It’s a lot more humane, and probably healthier,  to “harvest” wild game than it is to support the commercial meat industry.

I wonder if the most humane choice wouldn’t be to stop eating other animals, though?  That thought is one I’ll also ponder when I’m enjoying my next drumstick….or last drumstick?

Here’s a link to the original article that MSN got the story from…read the comments section with mention of the damage wild pigs do to the environment.

I’m my own trend

There’s something to be said for unity.

There’s something to be said for the madness of crowds.

I’m sure there’s something to be said about a lot of things….but what is up with this Harlem Shake stuff?

The guys at work were asking about it the other morning, “What is up with this Harlem Shake stuff?” they said.

I can’t figure it out…it looks like it keeps a lot of people occupied, though.

I have my own trends…trends that nobody else knows about.

Call it a stealth movement or whatever else you want to …but I’m a walking catalog of wiggles and tics just dying to bust out into the mainstream…let’s call it the “Zirconia Twitch” or the “Mountain Mambo”. If I wasn’t a semi-private kind of person, the whole thing could blow up at any moment.

There are lots of things to do with your life…stop the war? cure cancer?  get 26 million people watching your video of you twitching with your friends in a public place?  Who knows what the future holds for any of us?

The uncontrollable and hysterical “Zirconia Twitch” could be coming to your town any moment…get ready to ROCK….or at least ripple.

desperate for authentic


image from

I think that we’re desperate for authenticity in our lives.

There is so much that we are surrounded by that doesn’t have any lasting importance.

Why should it?  It doesn’t drive the wheels of commerce to have things in the world that satisfy and last forever.  How does it sell product if we are happy and contented?  The only thing that really greases the wheels of the world are dissatisfaction and longing.

Nature is authentic by default…wood and stone, earth and sky…it doesn’t get much more “real”.

But how do you market that?  Location, location, location?  We can “own” land…but we can’t ever possess nature.  How do you market something that can’t really be bought?  We live in it…but we don’t possess it. Do we give a thing that can’t be sold any real value?

We can strip the land of what we perceive to have value…log it, mine it… but we can’t ever possess the spirit of the place…we can’t own Nature.

An advertisement is designed to remind us that we lack the thing that would make us whole.

Because of this, we spend our time surrounded by media that makes us constantly aware of the lack.  It invents holes in our lives that we wouldn’t be aware of if we weren’t told that they exist.

How can we feel good about our lives if we haven’t reached the level of consumption that allows us to feel complete?  Can we ever have enough if enough is what it takes for us to feel good about our world?

I wonder if the constancy of the whole thing isn’t what saves us…like some deformity that’s always been with us that we just learn to live with, this feeling of never being whole is always around and, even if we were aware of any of the causes, usually ignored.  We ignore it because that’s our option for survival…being aware would drive us crazy.

As our income increases it just increases the cost of the “hole fillers”.  Instead of worrying about being able to afford the really nice Little Debbie snack cakes,  we worry about the home with more status.  It doesn’t fix the problem,it just gives us more expensive ways to sooth the symptoms for a while.

So…whether we choose to attempt to be aware or not, the problem exists. We can’t be happy if our needs are always defined by outside sources.  We can’t be happy if we aren’t able to say, “Oh…really?” when advertisers tell us that the latest thing will make us whole.

water pump

idaho 044This is a picture of my Grandfather’s garage in Montana…way back when.

My father used to like to tell the same simple stories…over and over.

It wasn’t like he was on an endless loop…constantly repeating himself daily.

It’s just that he had a repertoire that he could pull out if the situation called for it.

One of the episodes he mentioned was appreciating a mechanic at the local Chevron station that he knew when we lived in New Jersey for a couple of years.

The mechanic’s motto was, “let’s start with the simple stuff…it’s usually something simple.”

If you get to hear a story a couple of times for a lesson to sink in…it was time listening well spent.

Yesterday it was time to change the oil in the old Toyota truck my daughter is driving now.

I drove it for a while to warm it up, got it up on the ramps, crawled underneath to remove the drain plug…and all this antifreeze was dripping on my head….and the level in the just filled overflow tank was “unfilled” .


This simple oil change was about to get a lot more complicated.

So…I got my light and started checking around the water pump.  It had to be the water pump.  Where else do you lose coolant unless it’s a head gasket or something?  Maybe a freeze plug is rusted out?  Did she do something to it and crack the block?  Maybe it’s the head gasket?  That would be bad…that would be really bad.

So I was ready to drain it all…pull and inspect the radiator…pull and replace the water pump…I’ve got to get this thing ready for school on Monday…but if I work tonight I should get it done…I can get it done.  OK…it’s going to be alright…I can do it.

And then…I heard my father’s voice saying, “I knew a mechanic in New Jersey at the Chevron station…you know what he used to say?  He used to tell me that ‘he’d start with the simple stuff…it’s usually something simple’.  That’s what he used to say, at least.”

Well, I took a breath and started looking around again.  It really wasn’t all that wet around the water pump…nothing leaking around the bottom of the radiator…what’s this coolant around the top of the shroud?  Where is that coolant coming from?  It looks like it’s leaking down from the ….upper radiator hose!

I had a bad seal at the upper hose and it was seeping out every time the car was driven.

That was simple.  That was easy.

It got me thinking about all the people who look for the easy solution first.

They’re the ones who are really good at their trade or life who approach problems with simplicity and clarity.

Because they look for the simple solution first they sometimes make the things they do look easy.  Life is not a hardship for these people.

I wonder how many of them some people discount as just being lucky…”they never came up against anything difficult, never had to deal with anything hard in their work or in their life….let’s see how they handle things when it all really hits the fan”.

I think that what’s going on is they know that it makes things roll better if they just use the restroom…and avoid the fans.

Their lives aren’t complicated (by choice)…but they sure are elegant.

Some people make their lives more exciting by always backing up to every fan they see…maybe just so they can say, “See!!  See!!  I get dealt the nasty hand every single time…I just can’t win!  Born to lose, that’s me for sure.”

I don’t always make good choices.  I tend to get excited and run around willy nilly…sure that the sky must be falling soon…but I sure do appreciate seeing the calm elegance of a well lived life.

It’s something good to shoot for.


“excuse me, ma’am…”

homelessring_hand off.grid-6x2There’s a story on the MSN homepage this morning about a homeless guy who returned a diamond engagement ring to the lady who dropped it into his cup by accident.

He returned the ring to her, she set up a donation page for him, he’s received $175,000 dollars in donations towards a new place to live…and he was able to reunite with his family because of the publicity the story generated for him.

Here’s the story .

Hooray for good deeds and the higher side of human nature!

Why is it that the stories that we’re most aware of are the bad ones?  I know there is still enough good in the world to balance it all out…but what gets reported is the bad stuff.  Why do we chase the ambulance?  Why can’t we turn away from the train wreck?


homeless man closeup ringI love stories like this.  There is a lot of goodness in the world still and when it hits the media….it matters.  People respond to the thought that there are positive things happening in the world…it’s good for us to see and remember.

Well done, Billy Ray…well done.

I wiped out on the learning curve…


….and went sliding into “I don’t care”.

Learning, learning, learning….all the time learning.  I can’t help it….I’m always learning something.  Most of the time, I’m learning the same thing over and over…something about retention.

What was I saying?  Just kidding…I have more focus than that.

I meet people who seem to have it all together sometimes.  They know what they know…and that’s all they am.  That’s an efficient way to handle life, I guess…build up a storehouse of needed information, establish a strong and consistent comfort zone, and then don’t get out of it for the rest of your life…get mired into some strong opinions that you aren’t afraid to share…and just go for it.

Just go for it.

That confident front is something that I can’t rise to meet.

The “zen folk” talk about beginner’s mind…staying open to new things as if it was the first time the subject was presented…eager and willing to learn.

What do they call beginner’s mind if it’s by default?

We are resilient…malleable…able to leap tall buildings….no, that’s someone else…

We can rise to the occasion when presented with “emergencies”.  Any situation outside of our comfort zone has the opportunity to change us.  If we seek discomfort, seek adventure, seek the new …wouldn’t we spend our lives…no, live our lives… deep in the constant of changing …and maybe improving?

The thing about seeking the new all the time is that, at some point at least, the terror of constant change and uncertainty becomes the norm…and I suppose that you’d get used to it.  Being in a state of flux becomes old hat…growing and changing isn’t a scary thing.

Of course, it never stops being confusing for the people around us…”you used to be so nice…what happened to you?”.  I don’t know what to think about that.  It’s great to be a “people pleaser”…but I think it gets hard to please anyone if you dislike yourself.

I used to think that “lay down your life for a friend” meant taking the bullet, absorbing the blow.  Now I think maybe it means giving up your desires to make everyone else’s life better.

The trouble with that is, from my experience, that at some point you’re going to feel like calling in your markers….and when your sacrifice isn’t appreciated like you think it should be, it hurts like crazy.

People with needs can’t slow down long enough to notice who might be trying to fill those needs.  They take care of the people around them, to be sure…but taking care of themselves doesn’t go much farther than voicing a need…and having needs makes it hard to really take care of the people around them, too.  It’s not hard to get used to the “nobility” of always putting yourself before others, either.  We try and fill the roles we choose.

What I mentioned earlier about being set in your ways…I guess that what makes it really hard is to present that “I’ve got it all together” front…but feel the need to change churning under the surface all the time.  That’s a tension filled conundrum …what do you do if the way you think the world sees you doesn’t jibe with how you really see yourself?

Some of us just keep pulling the chrysalis tighter around us, I guess.


I gots to monetize



It sounds like something a superhero would say, like “flame on” or….or….what’s another superhero–ee thing to say?


When I started writing this blog, I read some things about “monetizing your blog”… “make money with your blog”…..”get the money”….”money, money, money”.

So…where’s this money going to come from?  I don’t have any ads for people to click on.  I don’t have anything to sell.  I don’t have any raffles or lotteries or voodoo candles or…anything, really.

All I have to sell is my enthusiasm for life and the creative process.

So…here I am….


At some point in the future, I’m going to get this whole making money thing down…you won’t even see it coming.

People will click on this blog (kaaaaaaching)….”what the heck was that?” (kaaaaaaachinggggg)….”no…really…what was that sound? (kaaaachiiiiiinnnnngggggggg)….”do you hear it? It sounds like money?!” (kaaachinnnnnggggggg)…

And…before they even know what hit them….I’ll be Scrooge McDucking it all….sitting on top of the world.

When I was in Art School (capitalized for maximum effect), we used to make fun of the graphic design majors with their nice clothes and briefcases.  Illustration majors straddled the line between Fine Arts and commercialization…we could still be in the “arteeest” club.

“What’s with all this money stuff?  We’re FINE ARTISTS !!  WE BE ‘PO !! ”

Monetizing wasn’t even in the vocabulary…all we talked about in the financial realm was where to get a good deal on art supplies and where the cheap buffets were.

Now it’s all about the Benjamins.  (What’s that? Like a hundred or something?)

So…I need to sign up for some adsense…enough of this other nonsense…maybe fly some banner ads…get some subscribers, maybe even charge people to read this blog?

Have a raffle? bake sale? car wash?