Archive for February, 2017

Ghosts in the machine 

There are spirits in the material world.  So says The Police.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Baker Mayfield.  “Sting” takes on a whole new meaning in this context.  

There are spirits in the late night scene in Fayetteville, to be sure, but that’s not what I really want to talk about here.

There are ghosts in the machine, indeed, but what are they?

I’m currently reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, and after just a few chapters, the author is battling ghosts, or so it seems.

Ghosts are simply human inventions, in his words.   This was true for the Native American spirit world, as it is for those campfire ghost stories kids love to tell.  But what about in other things?  I don’t yet know where all this book is going from a 1974 view of the world, but what about in our own backyard.

What do your ghosts look like?  How about mine?

I see them in Facebook.  I see them in this blog site.   I hear them in a Sunday sermon.  I read them between the lines of the book of another.   I see them in the faces of friends, present, past, and passed.

Human inventions, indeed.   Some are real.   Some are likely contrived.   But all hold a place of significance in our hearts and minds.

Which brings me back to “The Police”:

Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail you

They subjugate the meek

But it’s the rhetoric of failure

We are spirits in the material world

Are spirits in the material world…

I don’t know where Baker is this evening, how he’s feeling, or what even happened the other night.

The ghosts created by his story will live on, as they do in our own.  What matters is not their virtual existence, but how we treat them.

And that we do the maintenance needed to keep hiking, riding, and otherwise moving forward.


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Burned and bitter?

It was a deja vu moment, to be sure.

And, it wasn’t.   Allow me to explain.

Yesterday included a quick sojourn up one of our fair state’s many, soon to be even more expensive, turnpikes.

There’s a mouthful for you.

What wasn’t a mouthful were the cups of coffee my wife and I intended to enjoy for a few spare moments before an upcoming iteration of some high school playoff roundball.

You see, our young McServer gleefully served two vessels that I can only refer to as “burned and bitter “.

Thankfully, neither of those vessels was one of us.

Yes, the coffee was just that bad, and then some.   If it weren’t for my hot apple pie chaser, I might not have survived the moment.   

My wife wasn’t so lucky, and now she gets to read this, but I digress.

For something that came out of a cardboard sleeve retrieved from a stainless steel cabinet, the pie tasted pretty good.

It was even hot, which left me anything but burned and bitter.

The same could not be said as much about another friend I travelled with years ago.   At the end of a quick meal, the backlit menu item “hot apple pie” called out to this friend like a siren song. 

The only problem was, the pie was anything but hot.   That bothered my friend.   It really bothered my friend.   You might say he burned, for a moment.

The staff and management at that restaurant?   Not so bothered, to understate the moment.  They begrudgingly placed my friend’s collection of artificial ingredients posing as a slice of apple pie under the nearest heat lamp, until his point and his palette were both satisfied.

As we prepared to escape said establishment that long ago day, I saw an employee climb up on the serving counter and place a large piece of white tape across the word “Hot” in front of “Apple Pie” on that menu board.   

I wonder how long it stayed that way?

You might say the incident left the staff at that restaurant bitter.

I wonder how long they stayed that way?

I resolved then, and recalled again just yesterday, for the demeanor to not relive such a moment.

So, what did we do to resolve our recent and bitter “decaffeinating dilemma”, you might ask? 

We quietly threw the cups away and drove next door to OnCue, where a person in a not so late model oversized sedan promptly almost ended our quest for coffee in a whole different way.

Glad the day’s incidents didn’t leave us burned.

Or , bitter.

Lesson learned. 😏

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How did I miss this to begin with?  

I opened “Pandora’s Box” this past Sunday morning to hear a new old song from the group Sidewalk Prophets.

It was too good to not share, or to not download, even.

Cue the wind chimes.

In the morning as I wake

I pray my eyes do see

On this narrow road I walk

You have made a path for me


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Kodachrome Cairn

Life is a great adventure.    But what happens when your ascent feels so frenzied you have trouble remembering the path you’ve treked?

A cairn is a human made pile of stones often erected as landmarks to mark the trail, a pathway forward for some, a journey back for others.

I treked back in time this weekend to the year 1996.   The year that followed began a trek all its own, that being our family going from 3 members to 5.   In the frenzy, our trail service’s practice of creating photo albums fell by the wayside, understandably so.

It didn’t stop us from taking photographs, mind you, but we’d get them developed, look them over, and file them into a box.   Several boxes, truth be told.

Yes, it was the end of the era before digital photography and electronic storage, so my weekend pilgrimage into history resulted in a Kodachrome cairn of sorts, a pile of almost 800 photos commemorating the path from 1997 to 2006.

As I ventured deeper into each box, the memories of the journey came flooding back.   About 8 hours and 4 photo albums later, this 10 year era has been chronicled perhaps just in time.   

Some will follow us on this trail, and they need to see the markers, and hear the stories of those who have gone before.

Life is a great adventure, indeed.

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I have a confession to make:  I tend to get a little contemplative 🤔 on my birthday.

OK, you can stop laughing now.

I can hear the likely response even in the pre dawn silence this morning.   I’m not sure which is funnier: I tend to get a little contemplative…“, or “on my birthday….”.


As I awoke way too early on this day after, the latest and greatest first day of the rest of my life, my brain raced with probably the same thoughts as many of you:

How did we reach the point we’re at today, for good and for not (always) so good?

How are we ever going to reach the point we want/need to get to?

Why is there so much stuff in this blasted cart I’m pulling?

If your awakening brain is anything like mine, all I can say is “pull”.

And, “Pray”!

It’s gotten us this far, and so long as we have the resolve to keep throwing unnecessary baggage off every now and then, I think we will  one day get there.

Just be careful not to hit that pesky fiddler following behind.   The music of life is often what keeps us going.

On that day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah: Ours is a strong city! God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. Open the gates and let a righteous nation enter, a nation that keeps faith. Those with sound thoughts you will keep in peace, in peace because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD is a rock for all ages.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:1-4‬ 

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51, 50: Involuntary?

Sometime after my 20th birthday, a group of guys I will recuse myself from ever following put out a record album simply entitled “5150”.

Attraction to the music aside, it wasn’t long before people, myself included, began asking what that title even meant.

5150 was referring to a California police code authorizing “involuntary psychiatric hold”.


I’m no longer 20, or even twenty something, and some may think I’m crazy.   So be it.  Those people have a certain hold on me, but it’s hardly involuntary.

In the wee small hours (pun intended) of the morning, I went to 51, from 50.   And yes, the transition was involuntary, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Not for today.

The aforementioned album contains tunes entitled “When Love Comes Walking In”, “Standing on Top of the World”, and “I Can’t Stop Loving You”.

How fitting.

Truer words could not be spoken of a finer group of people anywhere.

I should know, I not a crazy man.

Even if I occasionally act, and write, like one…😉

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Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.

There’s a shadow hanging over me.

Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Or, so said the Beatles, a long time ago, and a few yesterdays far, far away.

For the record, today did arrive rather quickly, as did yesterday, and the day before.   And, I’ve admittedly cast a shadow or two along the way.

But I won’t lay claim to shadows hanging over me.  I don’t wish to remain still long enough to allow it to be so.

A rolling stone may gather no moss, but I’ve been blessed to gather a memory or two along this path down the hillside of life, and I hope for many more to come.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go reassemble the toy truck given to me earlier…


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