Monday, December 19, 2016

Troubles with Trivials (The Trouble with Tribbles?)

Any enterprise in life comes with challenges, but ordinarily, they aren't more than you can handle. And when they are, there's generally something to be gained by letting go of the goals that are so supremely challenging to achieve...

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway :D

Most of my life's challenges are simple, pretty straightforward. I planned it that way. If I had plenty of money, I could easily fix them...and then I'd have to face even bigger challenges!

If you read my last post, you know I'm dealing with mechanical challenges. Those are the small ones, right now. For example, I've been working on the water pump in my Chevy Tahoe. I had my mechanic replace the booster in my brake system when I realized my tools were not up to bleeding the brakes; I needed a torch, perhaps, and a lift would have been helpful. Best case, I needed to replace those frozen nuts, because they were breaking when I tried to remove them. But the water pump should have been easier. I started repairing cars right out of high school; many of my tools are older than the kids I work with on my day job.

I got the old one out easily enough. A new pump was only $30, so that wasn't even a strain to my budget. But the new one wanted parts from the old pump, and the new pump had a plug which needed a tool I didn't have. Okay, I hopped in my Honda and took the pump back to the store, where they kindly removed the offending plug. While there, I got new spark plugs for the Honda, and back home, decided it would be a quick job to pop out the old spark plugs and put the new ones in.

Ugh, perhaps the plugs were the originals...one of them snapped off, deep inside the engine. (A later chat with the Honda's previous owner revealed that they were indeed ancient, as the owners were getting on in years, and unable to attend to minor maintenance. Perhaps the main reason they had sold the car so cheaply.) Anyway, not having an extractor handy, I called my mechanic, and he assured me he could get it out for me. I hopped in the Honda and putt-putted like an old jalopy to the mechanic, with an old plug in the wire laying in the intake manifold, to keep from stressing the electronic spark system too much.

He didn't use an extractor. His...technique damaged the head. It took three hours, between visits from other customers, so it was dark by the time we discovered he didn't have what he needed to repair the damage he'd done. I'm wondering what the bill is going to be...

So I went home to put the water pump in the Tahoe, while I hoped my Honda would be ready in the morning. (It wasn't.) All bolted in, serpentine belt routed, adding water...wait, there's a leak! Sigh, it's dark, cold, I'll finish this later.

Later, I discovered that one of the gaskets had torn like the soggy piece of cardboard that it was. I applied red gasket-maker compound, and shoved it back in, letting it sit overnight for the compound to cure properly. Tightening all the bolts the next day, putting all the parts back in, starting the engine...looks good, sounds good, let's go to my day job! Grab my stuff, hop in the driver's seat...whoa, the water temperature is over 300°? CUT!

Good thing I have a bicycle, even though the cold front has temps down to 22°F, and with a brisk breeze to keep me cool. :D

Today's job is to see if the intake water hose has collapsed internally. It's pretty old, and I was planning to replace it anyway, along with its hose clamp and the serpentine belt. That will probably have to wait, depending on what the Honda's adventure is going to cost me.

My more serious challenges are about love and the lives of others. When I moved out of my apartment in October to save money so I could build an RV, I had a place lined up that was to have cost me about half of what I'd been spending on my two-bedroom apartment. It would be easy to move into one room: I lived in one room, using only a portion of that space, with visits to the kitchen and bathroom. I never really grew into that two-bedroom space. But the place I was supposed to move to, backed out at the last minute. Failure to communicate, is my best guess. So I wrangled another place, which, frankly, is a disaster. Instead of saving money on rent and utilities, my savings are gone. My roommate, it turns out, has no income other than me, and what he can beg from his other (remaining) friends. He's not bright, may be entering dementia--but I believe it's more a case of spoiled rich kid that never learned to make a living. We don't communicate well, either, but I hate to leave him high and dry, even if that is what he richly deserves. (If I got all that I deserved, I'd probably be in an asylum lol)

Another challenge is that I have animals. When I moved here, I had two cats and a dog. The cats had NEVER been outside since I got them as kittens. I rescued one from under a trash compactor where she had been abandoned before she was weaned; the other was given to me as soon as he was weaned. He has been missing for several weeks now, and the other kind of said he wouldn't be coming back. My roommate--no surprise, really--decided to let them outside, and they loved the adventure. Maybe the coyotes loved them, too? Well, I still have Cleo, and I'm hoping she won't follow Tobi.

Thing is, my next planned step is to move into my car. I can't afford my roommate lol! The dog, Biscuit, won't be much trouble in the car, at least during Winter. (I'll NEED an RV before Summer, though.) But Cleo, now craving the outdoors, and knowing nothing of wild animals or snakes or traffic or other such hazards, is sure to be more challenging.



My favorite space so far, has been the 31' Airstream that I first moved into in 1998. It was a great choice, and I had the money at the time. It should have been, could have been, marvelous. It had a nice living room and kitchen on one end, with those awesome windows with panoramic views, a bigger-than-I-needed bedroom at the other end with matching windows, and a huge closet and full bath--yes, with a tub!--walling the corridor between. I promptly converted most of the closet to a computer room/office, where I could log in to my work office and remotely control the four PCs there, monitoring the activities at the Dell Factory Outlet's repair and distribution center.

But shortly after moving in to the Airstream, a series of events led to marriage, and as part of the inevitable compromises that one thinks one should make for a marriage, I traded my lovely Airstream for an S.O.B.: Some Other Brand. I promptly ripped out most of the furniture, built custom cabinetry, and added substantial insulation. I needed to accommodate eight cats and a couple of large dogs, one of them over 100 pounds.

Maybe I should continue this story in another post...but before I go, if you have an Airstream, KEEP IT! :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Back to the life I love!

I hope to be back in an RV soon. A few years ago, circumstances led to me moving out of my wonderful shady spot in the woods, and into a cabin on a river. That was okay, I thought, especially as I was helping to support the friend who owned the campground there. But as time went by, various factors twisted around the situation until I felt it was no longer tenable, so I moved to the nearby town of Fredericksburg, Texas.

I had lived NEAR Fredericskburg--near enough that it was my mailing address--for years, since 1999, mostly. When I moved to the area initially, I was living in a 31' Airstream travel trailer. Combined with a Chevy Suburban tow vehicle, and with my trusty Honda CRX for a commuter car, it was a nice situation. At the time, my total monthly expenses were well under $500; after deducting approximately 60% of my pay, my take-home was almost $800 every two weeks. The way that situation ended deserves a few chapters to explain, but I won't do it here; other people are involved, and I'd rather respect their privacy.

Life is about change, and things changed. I got married, got a different trailer, a different car, a different career...and after going through about a quarter-million in two years, well...I found myself on my own again. I have changed substantially since that time, and so has the career that paid so well. My plans for moving into a "real house" have met with the fact that I'm not happy in a "real house." I like RVs. I like tiny. I like being able to move without packing. I like being out in the natural world, yet carrying enough technology that I don't have to face bears and bugs tooth and claw. Intelligence is what sets humans apart from those toothsome bloodsuckers, right? :)

I took the first step in October: I moved out of my apartment. The place I'd planned to move to, backed out as I was packing, so I wrangled another. But rather than saving me money, the place I landed turned out to be a disaster; the homeowner has no income other than me, and is addicted to television and materialism. Quite the opposite of what I am. I won't go into further detail on that, either, except to admit there are many other things that make me uncomfortable about this situation. For example, he smokes, and I'm allergic to tobacco.

My hope was that I would be able to save a few hundred a month, buy a flatbed trailer, and start building an RV of my design on that platform. I've been kicking thoughts around for years, and I'm pretty sure of what I want the base design to be. Having lived in RVs, and seen much of what typical RVs are like, and what RVers have to put up with, it seems obvious that I'm not going to be able to BUY what I want, no matter where I look, nor how much money I spend. Since I don't HAVE any money lol I don't think that's going to be an issue for me.

But to save money, I need either a responsible homeowner to rent from--so that I don't have to support his crises--or I need to get out of houses completely. I'm on the edge of jumping off the cliff, and moving into a vehicle.

I have two to choose from: A 1995 Chevy Tahoe, and a 1989 Honda station wagon, or Wagovan. I'm fairly small, and can easily live in either, but I really like the Honda. Both vehicles are old, with over 200K miles, and many small problems. Currently, I'm in the midst of replacing the water pump on the Tahoe; I just had the brake booster replaced last month, and should replace the power steering pump and hoses sometime in the next year. I'd like to replace the parking lights with brighter LED lamps on both vehicles, and I should clean and lubricate the door locks and window tracks on both vehicles. They'll both need new tires this year.

Both vehicles have fully-reclining front seats, so I could sleep in those seats if I wanted (and I have, many many times!), but they also have fold-down rear seats, and there is room in the back to put my pallet--which is what I sleep on in a house, so it would be just like home. :) I can sit up in the cargo compartments, so on rainy days, I could fix meals, read, play on my computer, whatever, in the back. I have a Bluetooth keyboard that has a switch to select different devices, and it works with my iPhone, so I could use my iPhone as easily as a computer, at a fraction of the energy cost.

My dream has been to make a living as a writer, since I was a teenager. This is a path I could follow to do it...working full-time to pay for a place to live has been severely crippling, since it takes me a while to unwind from society and get into writer's mode. (That's one reason my blog is so sparse!) As chatty as I am, I won't go into detail about why society is so challenging for me; let it be enough that I think society is insane to a huge degree, and obsessions with television, hypocritical religion, and corrupt politics is part of it. Parents who lie to their children, rather than educate and control them, help promulgate that insanity.

In January, there is a gathering of people who live in vans, RVs, and yes, cars. http://www.cheaprvliving.com/gatherings/ It's about a thousand miles away; in my Honda, that's about $250 in fuel, round trip, worst case. (At current local prices and the mileage I expect to get, it'd be less than $100 lol) If the little car survives the trip, it'll cost me less to make the trip, than to pay rent. My current job is unskilled retail, with no advancement path that interests me; I can easily find matching work anywhere, so even if the car breaks down, I won't be any worse off than I am here. The only challenge is my littles: I have a dog--no problem on the road--and a cat...well, the cat is a bit wild, and I don't think I could contain her. The coyotes would be sure to get her, if not traffic or snakes or well-meaning rescuers.

If I can find a solution for the cat, I believe I will make the attempt. A first step to committing to my dream! :) After that, I will know for sure if I would be willing to stay living in the car long enough to save the money I need to begin my RV project. I estimate I could have a livable RV for less than $3,000, but I plan to do things like:

  • build in enough insulation to be warmer than a house in cold climates, with a fraction of the energy
  • put in a rainwater-collection system with a solar-powered distiller (I might even collect my own interior condensation and distill my gray water)
  • put in a composting toilet 
  • have PVC pipes for wiring and plumbing--that is, run my plumbing PVC through 4" PVC--for ease of maintenance and upgrades 
  • I'm considering cooling systems that won't use compressors, such as evaporative cooling; designing one for an RV will be challenging, with all the other stuff I plan to have on the roof!
  • make the entire cabin removable in minutes, so the flatbed trailer can be driven away and used for cargo
  • make it light enough that my Tahoe can pull it, at least if I stay out of the Rockies!
  • and of course, add solar power, with lithium iron phosphate batteries.
Of course, I'll do all the work; I'm skilled enough in construction and engineering that I have full confidence in my ability. I expect the total cost to be around $10,000, not counting my labor. I plan to take about two years to complete it, since I'll still have to work for a living; my nest egg evaporated with my marriage, and I'm not old enough to start Social Security. I'm not sure that's going to be around by the time I am old enough. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

By now, most of you have heard of the cowardly attack on the offices of the free-speaking Charlie Hebdo, a weekly French satirical newsletter. More than a dozen people were killed by cowards with guns.

It says a lot when people are more afraid of cartoons than anything else. Or maybe it was simply an easy target that would garner a lot of publicity.

This wasn't the first attack on Charlie, nor the first attack on liberty. Charlie Hebdo has a lively past, having been persecuted by government officials, as well as terrorists. People in office hate the truth, too. That's something we should all be aware of: When our leaders fear the truth, they are aware they are doing something wrong!

We should not allow terrorists, nor peer pressure, nor SWAT teams, no, not even government regulations or professed religious beliefs, to interfere with the truth. Anyone who attacks the truth fears that they will be found to be weak. Anyone who attacks with violence, lacks the intelligence to argue their position with logic. (The same may be said for lawyers.) If people representing a religion attack truth with violence, you KNOW their religion is false, or at least is not understood by the attackers.

I say LOUDLY: The attackers of Charlie Hebdo are insecure wrong-doers, with no faith in themselves or their professed beliefs!

---As this event occurred in France, I repeat myself in French below.---

Aujourd'hui, la plupart d'entre vous ont entendu parler de l'attaque lâche sur les bureaux de la parole libre Charlie Hebdo, un bulletin hebdomadaire satirique français. Plus d'une douzaine de personnes ont été tuées par des lâches avec des fusils.

Cela en dit beaucoup quand les gens ont plus peur de la bande dessinée que toute autre chose. Ou peut-être ce était simplement une cible facile qui recueillir beaucoup de publicité.

Il n'était pas la première attaque sur Charlie, ni la première attaque sur la liberté. Charlie Hebdo a un passé mouvementé, après avoir été persécuté par des responsables gouvernementaux, ainsi que des terroristes. Les gens au pouvoir détestent la vérité, aussi. Cela est quelque chose que nous devrions tous être conscients de: Quand nos dirigeants craignent la vérité, ils sont conscients qu'ils font quelque chose de mal!

Nous ne devrions pas permettre aux terroristes, ni la pression des pairs, ni les équipes SWAT, non, même pas la réglementation gouvernementale ou des croyances religieuses professes, d'interférer avec la vérité. Quiconque attaque la vérité craint qu'ils seront jugés faibles. Toute personne qui s'attaque à la violence, manque l'intelligence de faire valoir leur position avec la logique. (La même chose peut être dite pour les avocats.) Si les gens représentant une vérité religion d'attaque avec violence, vous savez leur religion est fausse, ou tout au moins n'est pas comprise par les assaillants.

Je dis HAUT et FORT: Les assaillants de Charlie Hebdo sont injustes précaires, sans foi en eux-mêmes ou leurs croyances professées!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Love and Lies


Why would anyone lie? The truth eventually shows itself, to anyone who matters. :) You may feel it's okay to have people in your life who are living under a delusion, but someday you will want to reveal your truths to someone, to let that someone get close to you...and if your history is full of lies and deceit, you may drive that person away. So then you start lying to yourself, keeping your lies to others intact, and pretending to be that false person so you can keep that false relationship. That lie. The delusional relationship. Yes, you can keep your lover, keep getting what you "think" you want, through deceit. But someday you may realize that you have never found out what you truly want: You have been lying to yourself about what you want. And that relationship? It's a lie, too. A lie to you, by you.

This goes beyond people. It applies to politics, to religion, to music, to groups that you choose to belong to. Society teaches us to lie, so deeply within its foundations that few people can see it. Santa Claus is an obvious example. You may say, "What's wrong with Santa?" It should be common knowledge that suicide rates are higher during the holidays. Why is that? Because the truth is, love should be real. It should happen every day. It should not be conditional. If you give me something for Christmas, do you have the expectation that I owe you something for Christmas? You may deny it immediately, but inside, I believe that is something most people feel.

Organized religion is a more devious, and demonstrably evil, example. You cannot have rational discussions with people who choose to be stupid, so if you choose to be stupid, I do NOT want to hear from you. :( If you have an opinion, and can provide evidence to support it, and are willing to listen to my opinions about your evidence, and willing to look at the evidence against your evidence, :) then I will be happy to discuss it with you. Politics and religion are two arenas that have very little evidence to support common opinions, however, so tread these carefully.

So, what's wrong with religion? It was taken over centuries ago, by people who did not understand its basic precepts, and did not exemplify them, and were not capable of passing them on. ANY (visible) organization is eventually taken over by people who are not competent to run it. That's partly because there is an inverse correlation between intelligence, and the desire to be in charge. Therefore, MOST people who are in any position of authority, are not likely to be of average intelligence. That means they do not have the ability to understand the thoughts of others, or the interest in thinking long enough to understand them, anyway. It has been said that stupidity is the LEARNED inability to learn; I saw it in these words in Popular Psychology a few decades ago. I suspect that is the function of the Boob Tube, aka television in its current implementation.

I have a firm, unshakable belief in God. But God is not what they teach in any religion I have found. Anyone who does a serious study of any mainstream religion can see that they are not taught by spiritual people. Period, full stop. I'm most familiar with Christianity, so I will tear it down first. :) It should be obvious that the ones who call themselves pagans are more likely to be in touch with the actual teachings of spiritual masters, including Christ, than the people who believe church propaganda. For example, churches want you to join, then they want to spend your money. No denying that. They all want your money. Sure, they all have a story, a rationale: "We're feeding the poor, or we need to pay our minister, or our secretary, or we need to pay the electric bill for the building, or we need a building..."

Bull. Look deeper. Why do they need any of that? Ask, and ask, and dig. Don't settle for the obvious answer, because that is not the true answer.

What does a Christian church teach, as they pass the plate and claim that you should tithe? Generally, they quote Jesus, when he said, "Whose face is on this coin?" The Government's. "Give to the government what is theirs, and give to God what is his." Oooh, great wisdom, please all, even the synagogues. But....what does God ask for? When did God ever ask for money? When did God ever spend it?

God asks for love. Love God, love those around you. When a church asks for money, when it has put itself in a position to need money, it has obviously lost sight of the spirituality it purports to represent. I don't believe God ever asked us to assuage our feelings of guilt and shame by giving to multi-national organizations, when we have a neighbor in need. Symbolic charity is blood money. Don't pray for man (that is, for appearances); pray for yourself and God.

Prayer is another issue. "Our Father..." Um. Is your heart in those words? Is your mind even ON those words? I doubt it. Are words prayer? I doubt that, too. I won't teach you how to pray. I'm not teaching you anything, really; but I hope you are learning how to think for yourself. Please, try to be honest, at least with yourself.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Second Life

I've been exploring a new world as a way to potentially improve my income. I first got involved with this place several years ago--almost exactly five--but didn't look much into it at the time. Life has its distractions and its requirements. Well, one of the problems with life is that it doesn't pay well, but it requires money to continue in. I suppose I could live in a cardboard box or in the woods somewhere, but I've grown accustomed to having a clean bed and showers. I like computers, too. :)

Anyway, this new world is called Second Life (secondlife.com). It's a virtual world--sort of a matrix within a matrix, containing matrices--and last night I met a couple of dragons. You can choose almost anything as an avatar. Among other things, there are worlds with pirates, elves, dwarves, spaceships, submarines...dance halls and shopping malls abound. So do mature themes, but they're zoned so that you can set your preferences to not show them to you. Minors are not permitted to enter these zones. Virtual property owners can also set access lists to prohibit entry to their properties.

Boring details? Well, I'm a photographer; how about some pictures? Warning: My computer is not powerful enough to show these scenes or characters as they really are, so these are caricatures of what's really there. I'll work on some nice scenic shots later, when I'm not trying to explore and can change the settings to make it look nice, but for now I wanted to show one of my new friends what "she" looks like to me. (I'm just assuming she's female; she could be the queen of England for all I know. LOL!)
My avatar, and goodlessmadam Bingyi

My avatar is on the left, in black; Bingyi is the pretty one. She said my hair looked like someone had dropped an egg on my head. :D We were sitting in swings and chatting--you can use text or voice--in Siden, a realm by Sooden Ren (http://www.sooden.co.uk/siden/). A marvelous place; I highly recommend you visit. The elven caves are beautiful!

Again, my computer does not render the scenes with their full beauty; when I set it to try that, I can't move. Here's a sample of the characters that Bingyi showed me; each has natural movements--incredibly natural, from eye movements to walking, and even posture changes when standing or sitting that are very well done. Nobody stands around like a statue!
The hammers walked around like a pair of stilts! The raven hopped just like a real bird. The alien was very disturbing...

Dragon, from the Isle of Wyrm in Second Life
That's about all the shots I have now. There's a lot to learn here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

July 4, family visit

I promised I'd blog this, so in my newly-established tradition of not doing anything on time...wait, that's nothing new: I'm always late! :D A lot has happened in the past few years, and not all of it was the way I'd have wanted it to happen. I have learned a lot.

Anyway, last summer I let my sister, whom I hadn't seen for years, cajole me into visiting her in San Antonio. It's hard to fit appointments into the slave-dominated adventure that I've been living, but I finally capitulated, albeit with some trepidation. Kat had told me she lived "in the hood" with a Hispanic; to me, that meant broken-down cars parked next to shiny low-riders, wanna-be "men" strutting around looking for trouble, and maybe career criminals that would love to score on this old gringo.

Kat said she had my back, so I put on my big-boy spurs and went for a ride.

Google Maps knew where she lived, so I got there okay (although I later found that my truck had a serious engine problem which resulted in a thrown rod in September), and easily confirmed it by her Cobra Mustang (or is that Mustang Cobra?) in the drive. She still has that car. I've often said that if I were to buy an American-made car, it would be a Mustang; most American cars are too soggy and "luxurious" for my taste. I drive a Chevy...TRUCK! :) Both my cars are Chevy trucks. But I prefer Hondas and Toyotas, simply because American corporations seem more interested in YOUR business than in doing good business: They want your bucks, but aren't proud enough of themselves to do business for it. I mean, to do GOOD business for it.

But I cliché. Digress.

So I get there on time...no, I got there an hour late, and nobody was there but Kat. I thought I'd missed the party! She said that was typical, and right: Nobody's on time for her parties. Actually, her roommate--not a Hispanic--was in the shower. So we got to spend some quality time together, I got to see the house, the fish, and the cat. We discussed nothing of consequence, so I still don't know why she stabbed me and threw knives at me when we were teenagers. (And she wonders why I don't call...LOL!)

Her son Joey showed up after a while. He's BIG! BIGGER! Last I'd seen him he was scarcely waist-high; now it's the other way around. Like many big people, he was gentle and quiet, until he turned on his DJ system. Now it was starting to sound like a party! There were drinks, barbecue, music, flashing lights, a swimming pool, screened-in porch, yard games, dogs, and people. Children, too. (Are children people? I wasn't people when I was a kid. Not sure I am, yet.)

Turned out I needn't have worried. I had a good time, there were no gunshots, rowdy drunks, or illegal drugs, and I actually was sorry I had to leave! I met some wonderful folks, and I wish I'd blogged this last July, because I don't remember their names--except for Kevin, who was pretty good with a drum, and Mario, who was the alleged Hispanic I'd been told about. Kat must have been telling him stories about me, because he kept his eye on me the whole time he was there, like he expected my to sprout a halo or turn green. After a couple of beers, he admitted he'd heard I was smart. Well, Mario, if you're reading this, let me tell you: "Smart" ain't worth much in this world. What you need is love, soul, respect...and above all, the desire to get things done, preferably done right (and legally). If you do it right, others respect you, and you respect yourself. (If you do it legally, you avoid unwanted attention and vulnerability.) If you don't do it, it doesn't do you any good. So whatever your dreams may be, don't think you need to be smart to do it: Remember, our last couple of presidents have been mphmphgurk!

Friday, August 22, 2008

My boss has cancer...

...and may be dying. Probably will, it seems; they gave her two months. There's some hope; she's taking chemo and radiation therapy, and even though it's early, they say there's no further progression in the disease.

I've been working for her for more than four years, now, and I never realized how much I cared about her. She's difficult to please, and micro-manages; I dare not make any decisions, and dare not fail to make decisions! I've had to beg off responsibility, citing my own cluelessness about human nature, and that bothers her, understandably. Still, she hasn't fired me lately (I've been fired twice, but stayed anyway...and she kept writing my paychecks!). Once I met her sister and saw that she treated her sister the same way she treats me, I realized she really did like me. That made it much easier to work for her.

I met her through my ex-wife; she was my ex's divorce attorney. Seems her secretary quit a couple of days before her vacation, and she needed someone to care for her cat while she was gone. I happened to be handy when she called my ex for help, and lived a lot closer to the cat! I was also only working odd jobs at the time--there's a long story there--so I was available. When she got back from vacation, she said her cat had never been so happy... and by the way, did I know anything about computers? Only a little: I've worked with computers since the 1970s, have repaired, used, and even programmed them for a living most of my adult life. They're intuitive to me. So I thought, I can take a little secretarial work for a while; who knows: I might learn something!

I did.

I've always automatically despised lawyers. (You might refer to my "heterosexual questionnaire" answers.) A liar is bad enough, but anyone who lies for money is automatically less than a whore to me, and lawyers survive by pursuing their clients' viewpoints, whether just or unjust. So I wasn't expecting to stay long at this job.

I learned something right away: Not all lawyers are scumbags. I think that's important to know, as an adult in a country with more lawyers per capita than anywhere else in the world.

My boss is revered by many hundreds of people, many of whom have been through our office doors during my time here. She's active in her church, and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, among others. She was the only bilingual attorney in town--that I know of--until this year, when a new attorney moved into our office building. This new attorney has been getting a lot of referrals suddenly; she hasn't even had time to settle in!

My own life has been making its own drastic changes. Last year I decided to become more active, more social; so I joined a nationwide club--whose general membership meetings I video-record and post--and a local political action group. Then I joined a writers' group, and a photography club, and the local Republican Party; I'm now a precinct chair, and was a delegate at the state convention. I began attending social events and songwriters' circles. I found a girlfriend.

Let's stop there: I found a girlfriend. Not just any girl, mind you. When I got married in 1999, I was 40, and had decided that I wasn't going to find a girl that might be my match. I'd given up. Now, the woman I married--and divorced--is a wonderful person, don't get me wrong, but she was not a match for me. I don't mean that she wasn't good enough; more that she and I don't share the same beliefs. We should have been friends, instead of getting married. We're still friends, though she lives in a different town now. Our time together was educational for me, and I am very glad for the things I learned and the closeness we shared. Her family is awesome, and one that I was happy to be a member of.

My current girlfriend, on the other hand, is educating me in a different way. I can talk to her about my deepest fears and regrets, and she has bared her self to me in a way I've never had before. We communicate on a higher level. She's teaching me, not just about herself and myself, but about spirituality. In essence, she's bringing me back to faith in Jesus. Shes become more dear to me than I had thought possible.

This is not without a cost, but I don't think it could have come at a more opportune time. I had grown cynical and bitter--watching people vote for psychopathic idiots can do that to you (okay, no more jabs, I promise!)--and there was a lot of garbage in my "baggage." My girlfriend stood by me while I worked through this--no, she LED me through it!... and it couldn't have been pleasant for her! She's shown me new understanding of scripture, and new references.

This is coming in the midst of world changes, and I've skipped many meetings to allow myself adjustment time, and to deal with more important issues.

After one particularly rough weekend, I cut off about sixteen inches of my hair as a reminder to myself of my repentance. My boss--and her sister--shaved their heads that same week. Chemo was my boss's reason; her sister cut hers to show support.

It's hard not to cry.