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Annual Christmas Cards

 

This is a compilation of the Christmas cards I created  starting in 1992.

1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 1012 2013 2014 2015
2016 2017

1992

After I had been back in the real world for abut 6 years I realized that there was a disconnect between Buckwheat Bob of the bush and Bob Harrison, Programmer/Analyst. I knew that my bush friends were wondering what I was up to in the city, and wondering if they had captured me and taken away all my toys. My new acquaintances knew very little about Buckwheat Bob and my old way of life. I decided to put out a Christmas news letter, but a bit different from the normal missive. The first came out in 1992 and they are still coming except for a couple of years that got lost. They seem to be quite popular and I hear words said about me lick curmudgeon, but I don't know what that means so I ignore it. Hope you enjoy.

          Well, here it is, 1992 and I guess it's time to bite the bullet. I really dislike the idea of newsletters, but I also hate to write letters, so there it is. This will ramble a bit in all probability, and hopefully there will be something for everyone. Good Lord. It's almost eight years since Justine and I left Lasqueti Island in Canada and returned to civilization. Hell, until I counted it up I thought it only felt like eight years.
   
         kinda funny how things happen. I ended up back in California, which is probably my most unfavorite place. I'm sure I could find places I liked less, but I'm not particularly ambitious, so I'll just content myself with being here. You notice I'm already creating verbs on the fly. That's something we do a lot in the real world.
   
         When I got to the world of reality I found that I didn't have many marketable skills, and ended up going back into the computer game. I'm working for the California Legislative Data Center, a division of the Legislative Counsel, and I manage the unit responsible for Desktop Publishing, Graphics and Multimedia presenta≠tions. Believe it or not, it's even harder to do than to say. Probably the most difficult thing about the business is being in constant contact with people who think all this shit represents reality. I sometimes wonder how many times in a lifetime I will have to hear or read someone say that this new widgit or whatever is going to make life happier and better for everyone. The computer nerd lives!
   
         I live in downtown Sacramento near the Capitol and walk to work every day. Well not every day, I usually get Saturday and Sunday off, but that's another story. Living downtown is pretty cool. I am faraway from suburban traffic and malls and MacDonald's and all that stuff, lots of trees and not too many people most of the time. The capital and the park around it are really beautiful. But. There's always a but.
   
         It seems to me that the major product of cities is noise. I wonder why that is. People here seem to be in love with leaf blowers. People who own leaf blowers. Everyone else hates them with a passion. There are a lot of other noise makers also, like jackhammers and hydraulic dumpster shakers, but leaf blowers seem to have special mystical powers for some people, so I'm walking to work on a beautiful spring day and I walk the gauntlet of leaf blowers for over half a mile, them blowing dirt in my face and blowing the leaves...somewhere. Out into the street. From whence I suppose they are recycled back into the system. I don't know. But they are off the lawns and sidewalks and that is all that's really important. This aggravation is probably good for me. When I get to work I am ready to take someone's head off. Perfect attitude for work.
   
         The thing gets most exciting after a big storm. You go out walking and here are a squad of people pointing the blowers at leaves which wouldn't come up unless you got them with a scoop shovel. They're under about an inch of water. Lately the situation seems to be getting worse. The other day we had a huge storm and they brought out the really big guns. There were about four leaf blowers and a self-propelled blower with a guy riding it. They weren't making much headway. As an afterthought they had sent out a couple of guys with rakes, the first manual tools I have seen since I've been here. The guys didn't seem to know what to do with them. None of this technology seemed to be doing much good. Later on that evening I heard a loud whining from somewhere, it seemed to be coming from everywhere. It finally dawned on me that they had brought out the ultimate weapon, the street sweeper. At bedtime. Sounded like a jet plane. Wow, come to think of it, that would be just right. Take the wings off a 707 and drive it down the street and we'd show you some leaf blowing. I think I'm onto something. Actually, if it weren't for all the people, the cars, the noise, the air, the water and the architecture I could probable get to like the city after awhile.
   
         OK. Get serious. Most of my family live in the area. My parents are both in their 80's and I am the only family living near, so it is now family time. My daughter and grandsons also live near. Becky is a single parent, running a day care center and going to school in her spare time. She is doing very well, getting straight A's and working out like a fiend. Makes me tired just watching her, but we are all proud of her accomplishments. Jake, the older boy is into computers and intellectual stuff and Isaiah, his brother, is into bruises and abrasions. It will be interesting to watch them grow up. For myself, I have a reasonably secure job that pays pretty well and has good fringe benefits, and I spend a reasonable amount of time displaying signs of classical urban stress. Can this really be Buckwheat Bob? I get about fifteen days of vacation each year (actually it's more now, since I am volunteering one day a month which can be redeemed for one day off at some time in the future). Since I've been here I have been spending my vacations going North and visiting Oregon and Canada. I still feel that British Columbia is home. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't visit and re-connect with my wonderful friends. There doesn't seem to be any place to manifest Buckwheat down here. One friend up North asked me if I was still Buckwheat. I replied that that is my tribal name.
   
         Over the years I have done a few musical gigs, but they are getting fewer and fewer. I have bought a Roland drum machine and a four-track tape recorder thinking that I might do some recording, but it hasn't happened yet. I have been doing some writing about some of my experiences, but work takes so much out of me that it's hard to sit down and get creative. OK. Enough bitching. I'm doing very well, still unreconstructed, politically uncorrect by any definition of the term, and mostly still living on Tulsa Time. At this time of the year, thinking of all the good things, I want to say that knowing you has enriched my life immeasurably. I feel very blessed and I wish the best for you in the coming year.  

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1994

            

                                    To live life boldly like it's never been lived before

As some of you know my mother died this last spring at age 87. I took care of her when I could, and the family were all there at home when she died. I have been spending most of my spare time with my father since then. He is going on 92 and doing well all things considered. What with all that was going on this last summer I didn't know if I would be able to go North for vacation, but I managed a week in Oregon, then two weeks in B.C. After a lot of years I finally man≠aged to stop for a day in the Vancouver and visit some friends I hadn't seen for a number of years. Really wonderful, then on up the coast to visit home.
   
         My daughter, Becky graduated from Sacramento State University last spring, Summa Cum Laude and the top Finance student in the school of business. She graduated in four years while being single parent of two small boys and running a daycare business. She is now a stock broker for Paine Webber. I guess it doesn't hurt to have a kid who's a stockbroker. We are all very proud, of course.  
   
         Well, lets see what I can find to bitch about this year. Work is getting crazier. We are now doing some video production, adding computer generated graphics and animation to the video. This on top of the graphics, desktop publishing and multimedia. Hell of a thing for a semi-retired bush whacker. I have four people filling three positions, one a student assistant, working for me (theoretically). Like herding cats. The good part is that I'm counting the time till retirement. Three and a half more years and holding. Then I can get back to life. Ah, life. I don't have a TV, but I watch some, of course. This season if I don't get cuted to death by the commercials, I don't know. Politics is getting more bizarre all the time. The only thing I can figure about Newt Gingrich is someone is messing with his Prozac. It seems from the commercials I've absorbed lately that the feminine role model for the rest of the century is somewhere between Hotlips Hoolihan and Murphy Brown. I can't wait.
   
         The weather all this fall has been very nice. Nice walk to work in the morning. Cool, not cold. Leaves...Leaf blowers.. .God I love the city! Contrary to popular opinion leaves are not the cause of leaf blowers. There is no symbiotic relationship. Leaf blowers are very happy to blow water or dirt if there are no leaves around. Well, enough of that.
   
     Sign of the times. I heard a radio interview with a guy who has written a book called (I think) 'To live life boldly like it's never been lived before'. Evidently he examines the personalities of the Star Trek cast to show us how to live our lives better by emulating them. Although I'm not sure, I think he was serious. I heard that life imitates art, but I think in the '90's its been downgraded to imitating schlock.

Well, I guess that's about all from here. They still haven't cornered me after ten years so there is hope I will make it back to civilization nearly whole. Once again I want to thank you for being who you are, and making an ever meaner world just a little warmer.

 

There is a people called Mericans? he asked.

There is.

They say they have visited the moon.

They Have.

They are blasphemers.

-Marabout

Djinguereber Mosque Timbuktu

From 'Songlines' by Bruce Chatwin (highly recommended)

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1995

 

The Frontier Trio, circa 1980, Sweethome OR. Members were Buckwheat Bob Harrison, Tim Myers, who drew the picture , and Frog Austin on bass. The Trio held forth every Wednesday night at the Frontier Restaurant under the patronage of Aunt Bon(nie). The Pay was by collection and the local kids were Pretty good at filling the kitty. The Frontier Trio were known primarily for the fact that they had never had a practice or rehearsal, but all had a good time.

 

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I seem to have lost the rap for 1995 so you will be mercifully spared the ordeal of having to read it. On to next year.

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1996

 

 

The picture on the left is of my dad and I, taken at the Oroville golf course in 1995. The picture was taken by a coach at Butte Community College. Pappy has lived his whole life in the central California Central Valley and mountains.

Life In Cyberspace

Well, lets see what there is to discuss this year. It's still the city, outside I can hear the languorous melody of a leaf blower going at it. Did I ever tell you about leaf blowers? I guess so. Anyway, as far as family stuff, things are going:
            My dad will turn 93 on December 25, he is probably tired of saying "whose birthday did you think you were celebrating all these years?"  I spend most of my weekends with him. We watch a lot of football during the fall. He was an extremely successful coach and athletic director during his working years. Becky, my daughter, has been a stock broker for PaineWebber  brokerage house, or whatever they are, and doing very well. We are all very proud of her, and I'm sure there are worse things than having a kid who's a stockbroker.
   
         As far as the job goes, well, I guess they will heap all the indignity on you that you can bear. Somehow I managed to take and pass the Staff Analyst exam and now I am Project Manager over eight people. Except that project manager has no authority at all, so I'm not yet sure what it is all about, but then I've only been on the job for six months, and some things move slowly. But not all things. Most of the people in the group are either attitude cases or political convenience cases, and what with seven of them being women of various races, it is a barrel of laughs. I finally got fed up with one situation and wrote as letter of resignation of my Staff position to my bosses, but they seem to have ignored the whole situation. I may have to revive it one of these days.
   
         Of course, now along with Desktop Publishing, Graphics, Image Processing, Multimedia and video production, we, like everyone else, are heavily involved with the Internet. We have been involved with the California Senate, Assembly, Legislative Counsel, Little Hoover Commission, Bureau of State Audits and now we are setting up an Intranet for our own organizational use, and I am involved in trying to get Computer Based Training streaming video and multimedia over the Net. I really need this. I'm going to be sixty years old in May, and I'm looking to get out of this before I go completely insane.
   
         This cyberspace stuff has gotten a bit out of hand. I mean, there are a lot of people out there who think that sending an electronic stream down a wire and routing it to different places constitutes a different spatial dimension, ergo Cyberspace. There are somehow different laws governing this space, that it actually occupies a space somewhere, and that we are all going to completed and repleted when it is finally a done deal.
   
         Of course we're not there yet. But you can now chat with other people and have your words voiced by a simple animated creature instead of just reading or listening to words. This is progress. But by and large it is not children who are doing this, but adults. I hope that these people are of  the dreaded X generation and not ... gasp ... baby boomers. I hope we haven't traded God's creations and inner spiritual space, care for all things tangible and intangible for electrons flowing down a wire. To me it is an electronic Tower of Babel. The only difference that I see is that we have added some dimensionality to the process. Seems a small enough improvement considering the other one happened, according to some sources, several thousand years ago.
   
         So I repeat my mantra, I love the city, I love California , I love the USA, I am grateful that I have a wonderful family, and a job with security. At least if you can smell and taste the air, you know it's still there. I took a couple of short trips north this summer, as most of you know. I had a good time, as usual, and want you all to know  once again, that your love and friendship help to keep me going. I love you all and have a good year.  

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 1997

 

*    If the phone don't ring you'll know it's me.

*    If you live outside the law you must be honest.

*    Don't hate nothin' at all exceptin' hatred.

*    Anyone who disagrees with me is either an ite, an er, an ist, or an ic.

*    Even moderation should be practiced to moderation.

*    Where there's a will there's a won't.

*    If all else fails, whine.

*    I believe in Democracy as long as I get my way.

*    Emily: If there were a lion in the house, would you protect me?

*    Charlie: Yes, I'd protect you, but I would alway wonder what a lion was doing in the house.

*    To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one's voice.

*    Education is that which discloses to the wise and hides from the foolish their lack of understanding.

*    If I knew the way, then I would take you home.

 

Remembrance of the Future

 

Well, I guess all things considered this year has probably been a keeper. When you reach sixty and can still count all of your fingers and toes, you should feel lucky. Iím still learning about aging. The psychological changes that I have noticed as I have aged are:

1.     You know you are getting older when the sportscasters of today donít even know how to pronounce the names of the sports heroes of your youth.

2.     The society of today comes to more and more resemble the negative utopias of the Science Fiction of your youth.

3.     The movers and shakers of society donít deny that society has ever had different ideas about social and economic matters. They canít deny it because they are not even aware of it. I think they were all out behind the gym smoking dope when these things were pointed out in class. Iím so old that I remember when the Government thought the airwaves were public trusts and, broadcasters should be regulated. One case in point is that I remember when it was illegal to air more than two consecutive commercials. Howís that for old?

WWII proscribed my formative years. There was terrible shock following the war. The carnage and destruction were almost unbelievable. Twenty million Russians dead. Twenty million Germans dead and I have not idea of the total. It was not only the death, but the manner of those deaths which increased the consternation. Movietone news marching across the screen. Villages reduced to complete rubble. No structure standing higher than six feet. The opening of concentration camps. Especially in Europe, but also in North America , many were questioning the basic concepts of Western Civilization. That was one of the reasons for the rise in Socialism and Communism at the time.
   
         Golly things are getting uptight and mean in this country. It seems that everyone who can find any validity to minorityhood is whining up a storm. The blacks, gays, Latinos, Orientals, Indians, even women, who happen to be in the majority for Godsís sake. I donít know how theyíre pulling it off, but if there was ever any question about whether men are smarter than women, this should put the question to rest. Iíve been thinking that maybe I should get in on the game. I thought about maybe starting up the dumb minority, but Iím afraid they might make me run for office. I also thought about the severely psychologically challenged (crazy) but, what with the Unibomber and other wackos in the news these days I think itís best to keep a low profile. Actually, there is a minority I belong to, the fourth generation Californian whose family never tried to rip off the land or the society. I decided not to try this because they would probably put all four of us on a reservation somewhere around LA. Oh well, it was worth a thought.
            My daughter Becky seems to running a slam-dunk on Wall Street as far as I can tell. I donít pry into her personal finances.  I guess sheíd doing OK, which is also OK by me. Maybe later on sheíll be able to help me live in they style I might like to become accustomed to. At work things havenít changed too much. I guess weíre doing OK as far as quality of work is concerned, but weíre the most underachieving group this side of the Oakland Raiders (for the football buffs). We have a new manager, and with any luck she will actually be interested in what my unit is doing. Well, hope springs eternal they say.
   
         My father is doing fine, except he is getting wobblier in the pins as time goes on. We just had a birthday party for him on December 7. It is his 94th birthday, and since he was born on his motherís birthday and Christmas, he hasnít had a party before. Some of his ex-athletes and coaches arranged the party, which was held in the recreation room at the mobile home facility. I took my amp and played music. My brother and his family came out from Colorado and it was a very beautiful occasion.
   
         As some of you know I took my vacation in Canada again, with some stops in Oregon . I took a three-week vacation, which was a mistake. I was bummed for about three weeks after I got back to the city. The results are in now after 11 years. The city does not agree with me. I find myself getting surly and rude. It actually bothers me some. I find that after being in the country for awhile I start smiling at people and being polite. So I know itís not just me.
   
         At this time of year I think about all of you and the bond we share, and as always thank you for being who you are, and being an inspiration to others. May you have a very happy Christmas season and 1998.

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1998

Oh me, Oh my

Well, after a day at work it can be a little difficult to be whimsical. I will, however, try. I have been reading some of Robertson Daviesí speeches, and that might help. Letís see. What year is it? Oh, yes. 1998. Almost 1999. I canít believe it. Speaking of Davies, he told about some of the real weird stuff that happened approaching the last millenium too. Maybe there is hope for this one.   
   
         I hear that if the Government doesnít lighten up on Bill Gates heís going to mount a hostile takeover. I donít think he really wants to do that though, it would put a pretty big dent in his cash flow situation. From the way the geeks worship him and this technology stuff I think of ďBrave New World.Ē Too bad Huxley isnít here to do an update. I think he would expunge Henry Ford and insert Bill Gates. Trouble is, Bill is still alive, but who am I to ruin a good story. Itís only futuristic fiction anyway, isnít it? Isnít it?
   
         I was somewhat amused to see Kurt Vonnegut selling the ďcredit card that pays you backĒ on TV. I guess the book business hasnít been doing so well. They tell us to buy a lot so we will get a lot back. Sort of economic perpetual motion. Actually, people have been pushing this kind of stuff for a long time, but it used to be they would end up in jail. I guess this is progress.
   
         Havenít been following Monicagate much, but I did see that she is making almost $3 million from two TV shows. Man did she score. Better than Publisherís Clearinghouse and you get laid too. I was born at the wrong time. I donít know, though, I donít see Bill getting a whole lot of good out of the situation. Everything is show biz these days.
   
         OK enough of the warm-up. The family seems to be doing ok, my Dad will be 95 in three weeks. He is hobbling more all the time but still getting around with his cane. I notice he has his walker out. I donít think he uses it, but he probably wants to get used to the idea that he may need it one of these days. My daughter Becky is doing well in the stock market dodge and seems to be weathering the financial turmoil pretty well. It can be pretty hard the first time a lot of clients start losing some serious money. My life is not too exciting. I hit 5 green lights in a row last week and felt like I hit the lottery. On Friday nights I drink beer and watch sports on TV with some buddies. Oh, the good life. But. If the good fortune that I have had so much of all my life stays with me I will soon have a life change. If it all works out I will be able to retire in May or June. I know itís wrong to live for the future, but this techie trip is just about played out. People ask me what my retirement plans are, and I say that my plans end at the Sacramento City limits.
            I have learned quite a bit during the last 13 years. I know technology like few people do. So what? I still have my Graphics, Desktop Publishing, Video unit working with a staff that is largely dysfunctional and maybe psychopathic. My management has pretty much washed their collective hands of the situation, so I have also.
   
         I guess everyone knows about the Internet by now. Itís a totally different animal than computing and communication that has come before. The thing that has made it so popular is that it is generally based on open standards, which means, among other things, that it is free. It is also very basic. So everyone is adding all this sophistication on top of a very questionable structure. Concepts and products appear at an alarming rate even for the technology dodge. I took a look under the hood so to speak and said to myself ďself, we are getting close to the end of this gig and we are just not going to get involved in this shit, no way.Ē I am being acronymned to death. I have nothing against them. They each describe huge concepts, and without them technology as we know it could not exist. Humm, thereís a concept. The problem is that there are so many of them that they are starting to double up.  Does ATM mean Automated Teller Machine, or does it mean Asynchronous Transfer Mode? Nobody knows. The hell with it. Ha. I mean, they have the Intranet, which includes the World Wide Web plus some other stuff like FTP, GOPHER, etc., then you have Intranets, enterprise/company wide Internets with barbed wire and guard dogs to keep unwashed intruders out. Then we have extranets, which I think are Intranets but they have some holes in the fence for businesses in the Fortune 500 who might be induced to dump some of their ill-gotten cash on the host organization.
            Anyway, my boss calls me in and says, ďyou know we have an Intranet?Ē I said ďyes.Ē She said something like ďnothing much is happening with it, so weíre going to take it over. We means you (me). So do it and donít bug me.Ē  I may not have quoted her exactly, but I was aware that I had become enmeshed in Brendaís web. They want to turn the Intranet into a viable management and business tool for the Data Center without any involvement by management, or any commitment of technical resources. They may be getting the last laugh on me. You may retire, but weíre going to suck you dry before you do, heh, heh. Actually, things are going pretty well, especially considering the fact that I donít understand what Iím doing, and it might even be fun, if I didnít have a crushing work load even without the Intranet. I am getting a lot of help from some pretty good technical people. I will make it to next May. I will make it to next May. I willÖ.
   
         I am aware that I have lived a blessed life, and you have been a large part of it. I am very thankful and I wish you all happiness in the coming year and beyond, and I hope to see you soon.

Love

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1999

That Old Millennium Feeling  

I am not going to begin this by making comments about the new millennium. I have been told by people thatís been to college that a millennium cannot start on the year zero and I will never argue with someone thatís been to College. I actually have been to College, but that was in engineering and Iíve been told that doesnít count. Whatís worse is that a century canít even start on the year zero. So not only can we not discuss the new millennium, we canít even talk about a new century. Bummer. Just wait until next year. However, I must say that if I had to bet between a bunch of people thatís been to college and a bunch of people who control the world media, you know who my money will be on. The way I got it figured, the third millennium will not start until the year 2100. I know NBC will not stand for that.
   
         So lessee what I can think up to bitch about this year. Itís going to be to be hard to figure out where to start. Maybe I should start today. I went to Toysrus to get stuff for the grandkids and guess what. On December 6 they are out of Color Gameboys. What is up with that? So much for the benefits of IT controlled commerce. Anyone who doesnít know what Iím talking about with E-Commerce or Color Gameboys is lucky indeed. So I said to myself, ah ha. Iím tech and I have access to the Internet. I pull up ToysRus page, follow the links to Gameboy Consol and click on the link. The link is invalid. I search for Color Gameboy and it canít find it. So much for tech. So I went out and bought one at Wallmart.
   
         However, I did learn something awesome on the home page of the ToysRus site. The first and most prominent ad on the page was for a device that looks a little like a flashlight, with a lollipop stuck in it, named Soundbites Pop Radio, and what it does is ďÖ Put a lollipop in the top and hear real FM radio inside your headĒ. Oh boy. Your little darlings suck on a lollypop and have grunge rattling around in their heads. What is with that? If I ever needed proof of the awful waste that the residual effects of the devilís second most deadly drug (second to marijuana), namely LSD, has inflicted on Corporate America this has got to be it. Anyway. As some of you may know I have always been a bit leery of technology and what it is doing to us. I had a sign up at work defining Artificial Intelligence as the process of teaching people to think like machines. (That is copyrighted, by the way, if you intend to cite it for some stupid reason). Since I worked in a technology shop it didnít go over too well. My distrust and dislike of technology has ramped up another notch with the Internet. I keep my language pure because this is a family newsletter. In retaliation for something at work (I suppose), they made me webmaster of our corporate intranet. So that bummer got added to trying to work with my malcontents and Dilbert bosses for about nine months.
   
         As of September first I have been officially retired. I am now living in Oroville near my dad, who is doing well. I am actually living about 100í from my dad in a seniorsí mobile home park. Can you believe this? We have some great times in the park.  So I am retired. My ambitions cover computer digital recording, mastering midi to use with recording, developing great chops on the guitar and writing my life story along with philosophical treatises along with tie-ins with Astrophysics and quantum mechanics. Obviously I am exhausted just thinking about it. I discovered the basis of the saying that you ďcanít teach an old dog new tricksĒ. An old dog is actually marginally capable of learning new tricks, but he remembers how hard it was to learn the old tricks and says screw it.
   
         I enjoyed much of the work I was doing, but I am certainly happy not to have to deal with my malcontents anymore, and quite honestly I was having trouble assimilating new technical information, so I was ready to leave. Very, very, very ready. I did find out one disturbing thing, however. I found out that after retirement I am still the same person. Rats.
            Iíve joined the Butte Folk Music Society, showed up to the first meeting, said that I would assist with their website, which is not current, and try to help keep the info current. I walked away having been appointed webmaster. Oh, me. There is no end to the indignity. I suspected something like this might happen.
   
         The family is doing pretty well except that my daughter, Becky, was diagnosed with Hep C about a year ago, and has been undergoing therapy for about nine months. Itís really rough, but she is tough, and seems to be coping. She hasnít been working for quite some time, but she is going to try to get back to part time soon. We all pray that she will beat this thing, which is definitely possible.
   
         Of course I went North of the border again this year and had a wonderful time as usual. Had another grand occasion. My musician friends in Portland, Gaddis, John and Marty, decided that they wanted to record Mara and I using their very sophisticated recording equipment. We got about 5 hours of Ė something --, but they havenít finished editing and dubbing, so I donít know what it will sound like, but it was a tremendous amount of fun. I hope it wonít be the last time we do this. I would like to get back to performing music, though I donít know where just yet. I like to do long sets so I get to tell my stories, but Iím not sure I can do that around here. Also, I donít know what to call myself. Buckwheat Bob has always sounded Hokey. I have thought about billing myself as The Performer Formerly Known as Buckwheat Bob, but I donít know whether this will work too well. Iíve also thought about calling myself Bobby Lee, which is my real first and middle name.
   
         Once again, I am pretty well isolated from those of you with whom I have the closest bonds. I certainly donít have any in Oroville, so I am very grateful for all the good times and close bonds we have shared over the years and wish you the very best in the new millennium. Heh heh, you didnít think I would say it did you? Love you all.

 

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2000

Grey Owl (Picture on the front of the card)

Born Archibald Belaney 1888, in Hastings , England . He was raised by two aunts, Ada and Carry Belaney.  Emotionally damaged by his father's rejection and stifled by the rigid upbringing by his aunts, Archie collected unusual animals and played "Red Indian" with his few friends. He was mischievous and bucked authority at school, leaving him at odds with his schoolmasters. He Immigrated to Canada March 29, 1906. He wanted to live in the wilderness, near the Indians. He learned to trap, canoe and survive in the wilderness. Also worked as a forest ranger and guide. He was adopted into the Ojibway Indian tribe and

given the name Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin or Grey Owl. He was wounded in WWI. 
         
Although destitute, in 1928 he and his wife Anahareo quit trapping and he began to give lectures on the Canadian Wild, the Indian lifestyle and wilderness preservation. He wrote several books about the North and conservation and was almost single-handed in saving the beaver from extinction. He made two tours of England, including a private visit with the Royal family, to great acclaim. Died in 1938 at which time it was discovered by the white population that he was not an Indian, to the dismay of many. He was a wonderful person in many ways and a great inspiration in my later life. Richard Attenborough  (Dances with Wolves) recently made an Excellent movie of his life starring Pierce Brosnan.

 

 

Annual Rap

Well, it's another year. How about that? We are heading into the second (or maybe the first) year of the Millennium. Thank God for spell checkers. I never spell that word right. Maybe itís because you only use it every 1000 years. I donít know. It has been a weird year, as I guess you know. The Rams won the Super Bowl, now thatís a millennial affair. The race for the presidency may or may not be decided in the U.S. Congress. It looks like the next president will have a record of drug addiction, alcohol addiction, major league womanizing, and a Republican. And the Republicans donít seem to have a problem with that. I know I have lived too long. I donít even recognize Republicans anymore oh, theyíre still sanctimonious as hell. That hasnít changed. Maybe the way it works is that 2001 is the first year, and 2000 is sort of a lame duck year. Kind of a wrinkle in time just stuck in there to get from the 19ís to the 20ís and that after Jan. 1 everything will straighten out and everything will be normal. And maybe pigs are going to start flying. At least the politics of the next several years will be entertaining. Figured it out. The Green party wanted to make a statement. They only state that their vote affected was Florida . Their 94,000 votes will probably give Bush the election. I wonder if theyíll call the oil pipeline in Alaska the Long Green Line? Aargh. Why am I writing this crap? Thatís what living in America íll do ta ya kid.
            Retirement is not exactly as I had envisioned. This last year I made a one-week and a 10-day trip away from Oroville and the rest of the time Iíve been pretty much here.There is stuff that has to be done every day and I know how to do it best. I am going to try to get away more often in the future. I manage to keep my craziness pretty well hidden here. I have had lots of practice with that over the last few years, but I thought after I retired it would work out differently. Anyway, my dad is doing very well considering. He still gets out occasionally using a walker. We have had a couple of health crises over the last year, compression fractures in the back and a relapse of pain after that, then he had a cataract operation that got infected and we had some anxious moments there, with lightning trips to a specialists in Sacramento, etc. No fun. But now things seem to be pretty stable. Becky is in remission with the Hep-C thing. I donít know if it is ever cured, but she back to being Ms Type-A and enjoying life and family, although her immune system is still lacking a bit. We are all very thankful.
            The Folk Society web page is doing fairly well. It is not very creative, but the good part is that I havenít had to learn a bunch of new web development stuff. I get together with the society folks occasionally for a jam, but I havenít done any performing since Iíve been here. I sing occasionally with a couple of ladies for the old folks at the Chico Rehabilitation facility.
   
     To let you know, I miss the North and being with my tribe, but things are OK. I think of you often and hope things are and will continue to be well. I appreciate you all.

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2001

Two Buddies

Bobbie Harrison and Dynie (short for Dynamite) Martinelli age about 5. Picture taken about 1942 at the old football/track stadium in Oroville, Ca. We were tight buddies except when we were punching 0ne another out, which was about half the time. Ah, youth.

 

Confessions of a Contrarian

I will start this with a disclaimer. I donít like disclaimers, but I donít know how this is going to work out. I usually try to be humorous with my annual rap, but I am not sure that it will work this time. We shall see. Non-Americans will not understand much of this.
   
         As I age I see trends in my life that were not apparent at earlier, much like the view of the earth as seen from above rather than on the ground. Growing up in Oroville California I would not be expected to be a critic of society at large. I had my first run-in with the establishment in 1949 in the sixth grade. The American Legion sponsored annual ĎAmericanismí essays to be written by school children. In mine I criticized the Mexican War and Racism in the U.S. My teacher and my parents were mortified and scared by what I had written. ďWhere did you come up with this? You didnít learn this from me.Ē I explained that I had learned Ďthisí by listening to the radio. Unfortunately I had not at that time developed selective perception. I was not aware that I had done anything wrong. On another subject I did understand what was going on. After the Russians detonated an atomic bomb and paranoia abounded. We were going to be bombed the Ruskies. Remember this was during the McCarthy era. I was not impressed, because they obviously didnít have hardly any weapons and no planes with the capability to fly to the U.S. My killjoy comments were not appreciated by the adult world.
   
         In High School I wrote an essay attacking McCarthy, and by that time I understood that this could be embarrassing, but Joe was under attack by that time from Edward R. Murrow and others, so it wasnít as serious as it might have been a couple of years before. I got a C- because Mrs. McBride didnít feel that passionate rhetoric should overshadow improper grammar. My College roommate once told me that I was an ĎOpinionated Bastardí. He was wrong. I have seen my birth certificate and I am not a bastard. In the early Ď60ís I continued ticking my nose into things I shouldnít have I and took up stands against racial discrimination, the CIA generally and our involvements in Central America and Southeast Asia before these views became fashionable. I was an early adopter and not involved with any groups at that time. A very frustrating period. OK, we went through the later 60ís, 70ís etc. Well, you get the picture. I was always a contrarian, even though I wasnít aware of it. The 10 years in Canada were good, because I could shed the heavy karmic cloak of America and curse the Yankee Pigs with no bad conscience at all. Now this. I am old and feeble and tired, so I just donít care. I donít care. I donít care. I donít care!!!  Yes, I do. Shit. I understand people pretty well. Why canít I accept the way they are? Oh, I guess they are OK although I think I prefer rattlesnakes, skunks and cockroaches as neighbors, Ö.except for you my friends. This tilting at windmills is getting very tiring. If you manage to hit them they donít even know it, and you will probably end up on the ground beaten to a pulp.
   
         The events since you know what have seem to have had the same effect on American Democracy as the Reichstag fire had on the Weimar Republic in Germany. It has also answered a couple of questions that have been puzzling me for some time. I now understand what Compassionate Conservatism is. I also now understand the New World Order. You are either for us or we will bomb you into oblivion, provided you are not white and have no technology more complicated than a camel. Itís nice to learn stuff. Itís really wonderful, combining the personality and wit of Dick Cheney with the sparkling intellect of George W. Bush. Iíll never be able to thank the Greenies for this gift.
   
         Barry Goldwater once said that a society needs a single visible enemy to unify the people. Our new Compassionate Conservatives have found or created one here and immediately used it to crush opposition. As usual the dumb shit liberals donít know what to do. Of course the CC have captured all the media, so there is no forum for competing ideas. CNN seems to be the official organ of the American Bund, issuing not five minutes of hate but 24 hours of hate minus time for commercials for Laxatives, hair restorer and sexual performance enhancers.  PBS and NPR are not too far behind. The far left are in a difficult position. They are all for the destruction of the Taliban because among other things they treat women bad. Since they have taken this position already they canít complain too much.
   
         It would be interesting to determine what different racial and ethnic lives are worth. One Israeli is worth 5 Palestinians on the open market, although they donít always get that. This number does not include those Palestinians who die because they canít get past the checkpoints for care, whose doctors arenít allowed to travel to their facilites or who die because of sanitation and drinking water problems. And of course it would be wrong to ascribe this balance sheet to all Israelis, but it works for the ones in power, in the government, military and secret police. I wonder how many Moslems are going to have to pay for the deaths in America. Donít get me started. Anyway, on to other stuff.
   
         The past year has been a little heavy on this end, as many of you know. My father fell in a parking lot and broke his hip in March. The bone has mended, but his lower body is pretty much immobile and he is in a convalescent home. This is not his style of living and it is very difficult for him, especially since he is quite coherent most of the time and most of the other inmates are not. He has a number of little things going wrong and is in pain much of the time but his vitals are good and except for being bored out of his skull he is doing pretty well. I go in twice a day to see him and spend a total of about 2.5 hrs per day there. I play music every couple of weeks there as well as my regular Ďgigí at the convalescent hospital in Chico.
   
         I managed to make it to Canada for a couple of weeks. I hired a lady to go in daily and visit him. I didnít think I could get away since he is in great need of my support. I am still the Webmaster for the Butte Folk Music Society and am a member at large. I am now also the newsletter editor. Yikes, itís time for another newsletter.
   
         My daughter Becky is still in remission on the hep-c thing and we are grateful for that. Her immune system is still not up to snuff, probably because of the Chemo, so she has to try to stay away from infection, which is hard to do when you have school kids. Iím starting to get something that is probably arthritis in my left hand. I am doing stuff for it and hope that the next stop is not the dobro or lap steel. I guess we all got to keep on keeping on. Love you all and remember Iím pulling for ya. (anyone watch Red Green on PBS?)

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2002

 

The China Cloud and Allen and Sharie Farrell

Allen and Sharie Farrell lived on the ocean and on the beaches of British Columbia ís Gulf of Georgia for the last 50 years of their lives. Allen built with hand tools and sold or gave away 5 sea-going wood boats during that period. They repeated a pattern of building a boat, taking a cruise trying to find a warmer climate (Hawaii, Tahiti, Mexico, San Diego), returning to their home eventually to repeat the whole process. They were an inspiration to a generation of adventurers in the North, teaching dignity and devoting their energy to living a lifestyle as close to the non-destructiveness of the environment as is possible in these times. Allan died this last winter at age 88, Sharie 2 years before. They will be missed not only because of who they were as people, but also as the ringing down of an era of hardy self-reliant people of the west. The China Cloud was Allenís last boat and is considered his crowning achievement. It is a monument to sail and still sails the waters of the Gulf of Georgia. I feel blessed to have known them.

I Got Nothiní to Say

 
Well, here it is, another year gone by and I canít think of a thing to write about. Sorry about that. Iím really proud of America for finally getting past all the bullshit and electing a guy who has a vocabulary of around 100 words, about half of which he mispronounces. Well done. So many rural southern republicans in congress I heard they will have to take English as a second language before they can be seated. I donít know, thatís just what I heard. Maybe this election will be the final folly of the baby boomer generation. Probably not. Iím beginning to think there may actually have been some negative residual effects from all those recreational drugs they took during the 60ís and 70ís. Perceptions change. I think the boomers see the world is a TV sitcom, maybe a CNN newscast. If they want political humor these days they dredge up Bill Clinton. They wonít mess with this new bunch. No Way. Too dangerous. The world probably looks like a computer game to the Gen Xíers and I canít imagine how the next group will see the world. I told you I didnít have anything to say.
   
         Speaking of God, a Christian friend of mine indicated that the Bush talks to God every day. Humm. I think that, since Iím an American and he is working? For us, he should let us in on what their conversations are about. I mean, I donít think they should be classified, do you? I can just hear the conversation: Bush-What are we going to do about them damn A-rabs. GOD-I donít know, B, maybe we ought to kill them. Bush-You wanna do it? GOD-No, I think Iíll let you do it. It will be fun to watchÖI donít know. A lot of people who talk to God end up in the rubber room. I donít know if heís talking Jesus or going over his head directly to God. I have noticed that there is a difference. Seems like the folks who talk to Jesus stand on street corners and yell their message so loud that they drown out all other noise, which is an accomplishment these days, telling you that you are rotten and going to hell unless you hear their message and become as miserable as they are. Or they knock on your door early in the morning when you are hung over and havenít had your first cup of coffee, telling you that you are rotten and handing out pamphlets. These folks can be a little more convincing at this time of morning. However, the Christians do seem to have our spiritual welfare somewhere in their agenda. The ones who speak directly to God are usually into killing someone or groups of someones. God told me to do it.  Sounds like George is talking to God, not Jesus.  I have not personally talked to God, as far as I know, not even when I was Ö  er heh heh, better not get into that. It seems to me that if you talk to God you are on sort of a one to one basis. I have definitely felt the awesome incomprehensible power, but Iíve never been on speaking terms. I donít know if any of this is true.
   
         Actually, I donít think we actually have to invade Iraq. George may end up nagging Saddam to death. He must think he has another mother-in-law. Nag, nag, nag, threaten, threaten, threaten. Maybe thatís his hidden agenda. Saddam - for Godís sake George, why donít you just invade us and shut up! I canít stand it anymore. Humm, maybe this guy is smarter than I thought. In typical fashion, by the time you get this we will have invaded Iraq and my joke (?) will be ruined. Oh well. I read the other day that the experts have decided that eating fish was not good for us. Seems that the fish have absorbed our mercury pollution and are giving it back to us. If I ever heard of an example of going around and coming around this is it. Of course in white man fashion we are blaming the fish. Sort of sounds like our foreign policy.
   
         I took a long trip this fall. Started at Marty the drummerís 50th birthday party in Portland, then a quick trip to Lasqueti Island, off to Quesnel in the Interior to visit my friends Fienny Massop and J.R. Goodwin. Had a wonderful time jamming with JR. Drove through the Canadian Rockies and down to visit my brother Dale and his family in Colorado Springs. Off North West to spray Oregon to visit Bob Jones, long time friend and wonderful musician, then back home after 5,000 miles in time to see Willie Nelson in Sacramento. Humm, I guess things havenít been too bad.
   
         I now own a mobile home in a senior mobile home park. Donít ever let anyone tell you God doesnít have a sense of humor. My daughter Becky and family are doing OK, but somewhat caught in the stock market downdraft. Becky is a partner in a Taekwondo school in Sacramento (Phillips Taekwondo) and grandson Isaiah (13) is a teaching assistant and competing on the NASKA circuit. He will finish the year with 3 first places nationally. He will probably enter the real competition (black belt) next year. Then things will get tougher. We are very proud of him. He works very hard.
   
         Iíve been working pretty hard on my music. Iím mostly playing at the Chico Convalescent hospital. Iím finally getting my music program down. Come to find out my core audience is either dead or too old and sick to get out. Some days it just donít pay to get up in the morning.
   
         I canít deny that I have been pretty disgusted and disturbed witnessing the implosion of our society. I have one great advantage however, that keeps me on something of an even keel. I was born during the depression and raised in a time when there were heroes. Some were manufactured but many were real. I have known many men of integrity who would sacrifice much to live up to their principles. My father was one such individual. These people make life difficult for those who are intimately involved with them. They force those around them to be a little bit better than they thought they could be. I learned later in life that these heroes are not supermen. They worry and fear and hate and feel aching loneliness the same as you and me. They just refuse to give in to their negative energy. That is their power. When I am depressed I gather thoughts of them around me and thank them for sharing their courage with me. I also thank you, my friends, for always caring and loving. It can get very lonely at times. This time of year gives me the chance to reach out to you and tell you how much you mean to me and hope that all good things happen for you in the coming year.

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2003

I hope no one is offended by this graphic. Indeed when I first put it together I didnít feel too comfortable, but after reflection I decided to complete it. It is not intended as a political statement, more of a reality check. There is no reason to believe that the middle east is either more or less violent now than it was 2000 years ago. To me this is cause for reflection.

The picture on the front is me in the guise of Buckwheat Bob entertaining on the main stage at the Lasqueti Island Arts Festival this past summer, a truly great time.

 

Satire is Out

Well, I just donít know what to say. I canít even do satire anymore. No bush blasting in this letter. Much. I have to use a quote from the London Independent which is a pretty good newspaper ĎÖNo man is ever quite as extreme as his caricature. But Bush comes closer than mostÖí Let that suffice. Our life is such a parody of itself. Hummm, life do get complicated. Example. I was watching what I took to be a commercial on TV. It was typical gratuitous violence and sex, exploding cars, sexy chicks on motorcycles, car chases, people being thrown through plate glass windows. What were they selling? I didnít know. Drum roll ÖandÖtheÖwinnerÖisÖAOL. 9.0 optimized. See what I mean? All this stuff to sell an Internet service. How do you do a parody on that? Itís getting harder to be funny. I guess itís the Age of Aquarius now, the age of communication.  Sheesh, weíve got communication. E-mail, I love it. Without E-mail I would be entirely unaware of the fact that there are thousands of people out there who are seriously concerned about my sex life. No kidding. I can add 3 inches to my dick, an inch to the circumference and keep it up for a week and a half. I really appreciate all the concern, but I have to feel that the standard issue package I received at birth has managed to get me in sufficient trouble during my lifetime; I donít think I need any help. They want to sell me drugs too. Whatever happened to street corners? (note: the above will probably make no sense to those poor folks who have no knowledge of the Internet or E-mail)
   
         I remember once while hitchhiking somewhere in Southern Oregon I was picked up by a neat clean-cut gentleman. As I climbed into the back seat of his car I noticed a bible lying next to him on the front seat. I thought, ďOh boy, here it comes.Ē Actually I didnít mind associating with most Christians as long as they didnít accost me on the street, etc. Most who were willing to give ride to a scruffy hippie would probably be interesting. Once when I was in my early 20ís I had a discussion with a Christian pharmacist who wanted to know why I was purchasing an over-the-counted tranquilizer instead of going to Jesus. Not a good marketing person. We had a fairly long discussion about stuff at the end of which he said that he thought I might be saved, although he inferred that it might have to be through the back door.
   
         On the other hand I used to work with a devout catholic who told me that I was the sort of heathen that in more enlightened times he could earn many indulgences for killing. Hell, I donít know. Anyway this guy who picked me up looks in the rear view mirror and says, ďWhat are you doing?Ē Well, that was a fair question and it made me think for a minute trying to find the words that might make sense to him. I said, ďIím seeking knowledge.Ē He thought about it for a few seconds, and then he replied, ďWell, I guess thatís a worthwhile endeavor.Ē I think I dodged a bullet there. Later I thought I should have told him that my life was a search for meaning. If I had said that at the time he probably would have grabbed up the bible and I would have been in for it.
   
         Over the years it seems to me that my spirit has been taken over by an old Indian. This is not a consciousness that struck me blind on my way to Damascus or anything like that; it (or my awareness of it) emerged slowly. The older I get the values of Western Civilization mean less and less to me. Maybe itís all the mind-altering experiences on mountaintops or whatever. Maybe these spiritual feelings are in all of us, we just canít uncover enough layers to get to it. I havenít a clue. This is a mixed blessing. While the rest of the world is becoming westernized I am moving farther away. Rats. If I had to distill my philosophy at this point it would have to be there is no free lunch. One of the justifications for the preference of the internal combustion engine and automobiles was the crisis in New York City at the turn of the century. What was the problem? Too much horseshit on the streets. They didnít know how to cope. Well, we sure took care of the horseshit problem. I thought about this when I read the Amish are having the same problems with their neighboring towns today.
   
         It seems that the story Western Civilization has been a history of trading meaning for stuff.  Everyone but a lunatic wants stuff. We used this awareness to good effect in subjugating primitive cultures everywhere. The real question is not whether people want stuff but rather what they are willing to pay. This is the point at which stuff proponents become vague. Stuff consciousness has taken over so greatly here in the States that weíve even elected a dumb-shitÖ.arrrgh, weíre not going there. I promised. Possibly the last great battle between stuff and meaning is being fought in the Middle East and the Moslem world right now. How it will end, if it ever does, I donít know. Anyway.
   
         My past year has not been too exciting. Continue being senior trailer trash. I am still involved with the Butte Folk Music Society. I am retiring from the board this year but I will continue to maintain the web site and put out the newsletter. I play some music, mostly at the convalescent center as I have for the last several years. Iím starting to do some recording. This requires learning more aspects of both music and music technology than I really desire, but Iíll always have something to bitch about. Done some traveling, mostly on the west coast. Made 2 trips to Canada and had a great time as usual on Lasqueti Island but didnít get to stay long because my friend Mara has had some health problems and been in the hospital a couple of times. She had some complications on complications to surgery. I have spent a fair amount of time in Southern Oregon. There seems to be a lot of music happening there these days and I have had a great time playing with friends.
   
         My little Type A daughter, Becky, is spending most of her time on the Taekwando School and doing very well, seems to have fully recovered from her health problems of several years ago. Her two boys are doing well. Jake is entering his senior year in high school and is thinking of joining the wrestling team again. Two years ago he was severely injured and lost his spleen. Said he was through with wrestling for good but seems to want to try again. Iím really proud of his resolve. I think that painful an injury would have finished it for me. Isaiah is still committing heavily to Taekwondo. He is still small for a fourteen year old but opted to become a black belt anyway. He only competed about three times this year but he placed sixth in weapons (bow staff) at one major tournament against the top competitors in the U.S. Very excellent performance. He is a really hard worker. We are, of course, very proud of him.
   
         Itís hard to envision Ďgoodí stuff happening in the near future (although I hope I am wrong) and that is why my thoughts of you, our love and friendship make life more bearable. Help us all be strong in this time of our history.

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2004

 

 

The (Train) Light at the end of the tunnel


Well, Iím sorry to say that Iím not enjoying the millennium too much so far. Itíll be a bit difficult filling a page with funny stuff this year. I guess Iíll have to be seriously downer. Sorry. Iíve been practicing the Nazi salute lately. Just in case. The trouble is ĎHeil Bushí just doesnít make it. Bush? Heil

HIT-ler now, just the name will scare you. I think thatís the main problem. To get elected you have to have a masculine name with some hard consonants in it. Either that or a lot of money and a group of friends manifesting a huge fear factor that transcends having a wimpy name. Hitler was just right, 2 syllables, hard T. Kerry should have changed is name maybe. He has the hard K to begin the name but Kerry is just too wimpy. He should have changed his name to Hitler maybe. John Hitler. Just watch them Republicans run for their bunkers. Ha. Ordinarily the name Hitler wouldnít be too popular among the electorate but things seem to be changing dramatically in the attitudes of this country. Who knows? Kerry could maybe change his name to Schwartzenagger. I mean that guyís got enough hard consonants in his name for 3 - 4 heads of state. I remember Hitler. I didnít know him personally, although my best buddy, now deceased, actually met him once. When I was a kid we used to stick a finger across the upper lip to simulate a mustache and give the Nazi salute and say ďHeil Hitler.Ē I dunno, must have been funny at the time. When I was in elementary school the pledge to the flag included stretching the right arm toward the flag with the palm up, as opposed to the Nazi palm down position. They did away with this gesture. Must have thought it was too close to the Nazi salute. See how powerful symbols are? I warned you I wasnít going to be funny this year. Bush seems to prove the truth of Hitlerís (or Goebbelsí) statement ď Tell a big enough lie often enough and the people will believe it.Ē Whatís the big lie he keeps telling?

ďI know what Iím doing.Ē

This guyís record is unbelievable. Probability will tell you that itís almost impossible to be wrong 100% of the time, but over the last 4 years he has been wrong about everything but how to get reelected. Hell, the U.S.A. Olympic basketball team had a better record than that. And, heís getting all this information from God? I think we have a theological conundrum here. Is God feeding him bad information? Why. Maybe someone in the CIA convinced Bush he was God. Nah, not even the CIA is that bad. Maybe God just doesnít like Bush. I can understand that, but why is he dragging me down with that SOB? I didnít have anything to do with him. Itís almost as if Bin Laden had programmed his brain? Iíve got an Art Bell moment here. What if an Al Qaida mole was substituting some of that mind control stuff in GWBís whiff? It would open up an astral channel that Bin Ladin could use to talk to him. Hell, the mole could have been a time traveler for all we know. So Bin Ladin gets this interpreter with a perfect Texas accent and he opens up the Astral Channel. ďHello George, this is God.Ē Of course Bush believes him. What other possible explanation could there be for wild visions passing through his brain? So weíll look in on a recent session. God - ďWell George, you have been doing very well. Your environmental record is really impressive. You also did very well with the prisoner torture, sniping women and children in the head in the streets of Fallouja. Youíve gotta show those Sand Niggers whoís boss. Now your next assignment, if you chose to accept it and I suggest that you do, is to dismantle Social Security then borrow a trillion dollars from the public to make it up and invest it in Wall Street.ĒÖ.. ďGeorge, trust me. Iím God, did you forget that? Ö. No, I am aware that a lot of this stuff looks crazy but there is a greater truth, which you mortals could never understand, so you will do as you are told and remember, George, I have not always treated my prophets well.Ē
            Now Iím not saying that I necessarily believe this theory, but I have tried many permutations of possible theories to explain what is going on and this is hands down the best fit Iíve come up with so far. I told you this wasnít going to be funny.
   
         My life is not too exciting here in the retirement park. Actually, weíre starting to get some younger people living here. Iím basically living alone. I have a long distance relationship with Mara, of course we have been best friends (mostly) for almost 35 years now. Iím living within 100 miles of my daughter Becky and her boys, but she moves so fast in such tight circles that itís hard to adjust. Her boys 15 and 18 are both doing very well. It is a very admirable family. Isaiah is competing in the black belt 15 to 17 year old categories on the NASKA tour and placing well. He also does some teaching at the Tae Kwando School of which Becky is half owner. She is also opening a spiffy Womenís Accessories shop in one of Sacramentoís biggest malls. Theyíre opening the first week in December. My grandson Jake is a senior in high school and just got a new girlfriend and got a job at a Computer game store. Life doesnít get any better than that. I have to find a way to let him know that things donít always go this smoothly. Oh, well. Iím off the board of directors for the Folk Music Society, but I still have the website and newsletter. I think I screwed the pooch when I took on the website. In my defense I didnít want to, it just had to be done. But Iím really stuck in the tar baby now. Most of the folkies are total technological duds and canít or wonít help me out so here I am.
   
         Otherwise I have been doing a lot of music over the past year. Iíve been performing at least twice a week for 9 months or so. I am involved with a sort of band called ďThe Wild Mountaineers String Band.Ē We had a good run last summer. We played 2 weekends at the Paradise Museum as part of a Smithsonian exhibit. From that we got four gigs for trail riding events, made some pretty good money but all three of use live on a equilateral triangle 20 miles on a side so practicing is difficult. I am also doing some gigs with a friend named Laurel who plays and sings well. I was sponsoring an open mike at a cowboy tavern out of town for about 6 months. It was fun but just wasnít working out so I quit. Played at a restaurant in Chico 3-4 times and we have a new coffee house and Internet cafť right here in Oroville. A lot of fun. Iím also getting more involved with recording, and I put together a very voluminous CD presentation of our family and associations. As you know both of my parents were admirable people but my father was one of the great heroes. There is a lot of stuff on him. This has taken an incredible amount of time. So Iím free of that at least. Through with version 1.0 that is. I had another great trip to Canada and seeing all my friends. Itís sort of a battery recharge.
   
         Iím still tilting at windmills after 50 or so years. My head hurts from all the times my lance got stuck and knocked to the ground. I guess youíve got to keep doing it if you have any sense of personal dignity. Maybe I should ease off and try bull riding. 
   
         Once again know that you are in my thoughts every time I can get my head out of that  #$%&Bush. I have been really blessed. I have been allowed to do all the things I felt I really needed to do in my life and that isnít given to many people. Hope to see you soon.

 

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2005

Home Sweet Home

Left is a picture of the 10í x 10í sleeping house at Sandy Point on Lasqueti Island in the mid 70ís. We built this and the 8í x 12í kitchen for $40, $37 for plastic and $3 for staples. All other materials were scrounged or beach combed. When we finished the kitchen there were no materials left except some rotten shakes. The windward wall was shaked with home made shakes and insulated with cardboard. The dirt floor was covered with a carpet turned up at the edges to counter draft. The stove was half a 15 gallon barrel imbedded in a wash tub full of sand and a hub cap to cover the stoke hole. The door was hung with a spike fit into an imbedded .303 shell. I lived in the cabins for about 5 years. Just before the I left the kitchen burned down, saving me the anguish of what to do with all my junk. The sleeping house is still standing (sort of) and being used as a storage shed.

The past year has been fairly uneventful. My primary occupations are involvement with the Butte Folk Music Society as performer, web master and newsletter editor. Www.bfms.freeservers.com. I have also been involved with the local LP radio station 107.1 FM within the confines of Oroville www.radiobirdstreet.org. Iím playing a lot of music and getting a bit better all the time. My grandkids are growing all the time. Jake, the oldest is a freshman in college with desire to be a math teacher. Isaiah is a Junior in H.S. and engaged in swinning, wrtestling and water polo. Becky has opened a second women's apparel store in Sacramento so her business empire now includes a Taekwondo school and two elegant shops. Love to all.

                                                                           Below Absolute Zero


God seems to still be messing with Bushís head. Iím beginning to wish heíd lay off that poor dumb shit. Itís embarrassing. To Bush and to me.  The difference is George doesnít seem to realize it. I think Iíll start a new trend. A number of years ago when the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League were really bad (the first time they were bad) they were nicknamed the ĎAintsí and the fans went to the games with paper bags over their heads. Thatís the way I feel now about being an American. As far as Bushís relationship to God it seems like there are two possibilities; (1) God just hates George, which I could understand. Maybe itís sort of like the story about this guy who loses his job, his wife runs off with a plumber, his house burns d own and someone shoots his dog. So he goes outside, looks up at the sky and pleads, ďWhy me, lord.Ē And a huge voice blasts from the sky saying, ďI really donít know George. For some reason you just piss me off.Ē (2) God has decided itís time for the final days and has chosen George to be the instrument that destroys all life on earth. Thatís the only way I can figure it. There is a possible third choice, that George is not really talking to God, but I donít believe that.
   
         Something else that is kind of funny, I guess, is Bush is a fairly good looking guy. But those people around him are plug ugly. Cheney? That loveable man with the built-in sneer? Rove, the pig? Rummy? He looks like a monkey with glasses and a hair part. Wolfowitz. Hell, he looks like the wolfman. Scare the heck out of you if you saw him peeking in the window. So I figure that with looks like that they were bound to end up being severely twisted. Stands to reason. So what we seem to have here is the village idiot directing (supposedly) a whole bunch of ugly psychopaths.
   
         Now as far as I can see none of the uglies profess to be Christians, at least not the upper C type and yet they seem to be embraced by the Christian right. I think Iíve figured it out. These fundamentalist Christians have raised Ďmoral relativismí to a high art. I think Bushís boys have been made honorary Christians by their propensity for their involvement in murder, lying, bearing false witness and theft. How in the hell did we come to this?
   
         Iíve decided that we need to change the partyís symbols. Should be legal, they change their names. The Federalists became the Whigs. By the way, what the hell is a Whig? Iím even afraid to look it up in the dictionary. Then they became the Republicans. The original Republican Party became the Democratic Republicans and finally the Democrats. So for the new millennium I think the Republicans should shed the elephant and replace it with a sheep, and the Democrats drop the donkey and represent themselves as cats. I think that sums it up. Sorry if none of this is funny. I tried.
   
         As far as my personal life is concerned, Iím mostly playing a lot of music. Still have the convalescent hospital gig and a regular Sunday morning brunch in Chico, Mud Creek Kenny and the Stump Jumpers, 4 hours, drinks, breakfast and a little money. Iíve also been fairly involved with the local LP radio station. Very grass roots, hanging on by toenails, etc. Iíve played on the radio several times and produced and interview with a 96 year old man who lives in the park who recorded with Liberace in the 1950ís. He was also a childhood friend of Ronald Reagan. He had some very interesting stories. The station can be heard on line at www.radiobirdstreet.org.
            Iím still the webmaster and newsletter editor for the Butte Folk Music Society www.bfms.freeservers.com. Becky is doing fine, she has opened her second shop in Sacramento, so she and her partner now have two shops and a Taekwondo gym to their credit. My oldest grandson is now in College at the local community and the other is playing water polo and wrestling In high school.
   
         I cherish your friendship in these troubled times. All the best. Love. 

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2006

Another Day, Another Dollar

Here I am hard at work. Maybe you donít think holding the Universe together is a big job, well think again. For the third year in a row I have shamelessly put my own picture on the Christmas card. All seems to be doing well here. Over the last year I have mostly been doing music. Getting into recording recently, very slow tedious work. I hope the results are worth it. During the last year I have taken 2 musical train trips. The first, last March, from Nogales, Mexico up the Copper Canyon to Divisidero.The train was headlined by Tom Russell my inspiration and music guru. Tom rules. Although he doesnít know it. All we could do was party, eat, play music and meet and listen to your favorite musicians and meet wonderful people who are totally into Western Roots music. Not too shabby. So I did it again. I just got back from a train from Vancouver to Toronto with Tom again and Rosalie Sorrells among others. All we could do was party...you get it, a little short on sleep however I got some beautiful video of both trips. My daughter Becky has 2 high class Womenís Apparel shops (named Beyond Gotham) in Sacramento and is doing well in a constant panic-filled life and generally loving it. Oldest grandson is Sophomore in college and working, not much time for fun. Youngest grandson is in High School. Brother Dale and Wonnie are doing fine in Colorado Springs (or so they tell me). Iím Probably going to make it to the big 70 next may. Wow. Iím really looking forward to it. Not looking forward to much after that however. Iím grateful for this occasion to communicate my warm feelings with you. I wish you a good year .

 

Merry Christmas

 

Well, since nothing funny happened this year, except maybe the election, about which more later if I decide to continue writing with nothing much to say. My Canadian friends may not understand too much of this letter since itís mostly American. Those of you who received the letter last year will remember (maybe) my thesis that the reason the neo-cons in power were so mean and self-destructive was because they were so ugly and wanted to get even with the world. For an update, the monkey with the specs and hair part (Rummy) is not outÖof what I donít know. The wolf man has been banished to head the World Bank, which seems to me to be like sentencing a junkie to work in a heroin factory. I donít know. The sneer that walks like a man is still running the White House, State Department and Defense (if there were ever an oxymoron it would be calling the U.S. military Ďdefenseí.) I remember when it was the War Department and we admitted it. New speak does make it seem kinder and gentler.  Turd Blossom is still in there somewhere cooking up his witchesí brew. Bush even joked about Roveís efforts in the election. Rove may have him killed.
            Speaking of Science. Confession time. I probably spend a bit more time on the web than I should. Geezí, I better get my life in order. Think Iíll check out the web first. But you do find some amazing things. I just read a prestigious study that determined that men think about sex all the time. See what I mean? I never would have known that without science. Iíve got a tip for you. From personal experience (therefore not science) I can say that that study is true for old men too. Yuck!!! I also discovered a scientific test that discovered, by use of MRI scan, that eating ice cream excites the pleasure centers of the brain. Imagine that.  Where were we? Oh yeah.
            As some of you may know I possess a bit of an acerbic wit. I hope that word means what I think it means. I try to keep it under control but it comes out sometimes. My daughter gave me the book a ĎCynicís guide to Happinessí and my grandson is scandalized by some of my comments. It can be embarrassing. So, just to prove how fickle fate can be I stored up some cheap shot comments to make about the Nazis running the country and then the Democrats stabbed me in the back by winning the mid-term elections. You canít trust anyone. Now God knows I could take some cheap shots at the Dems. They have certainly frustrated me over the years. But I canít be a spoil-sport. Must make nice.  The problem is that other people are already using some of the points I was going to make. For instance I was going to say that Nancy Pelosi was going to find out the organizing the Dems in the House was going to be like herding cats. Of course I canít say that now. But I read that someone wrote about a catfight in the Caucus, I think it was over Majority leader. I may have to sue. Cats belong to me. A lot of the chicken hawk neo-cons are like dogs. But not attack dogs, more like ankle biters. You see where Perle says he had nothing to do with Iraq policy? Said it was all Bushís fault. Hmmm.
            Another joke I canít use: When the Israelis moved the settlers out of Gaza I said that the only reason they cleared them out was so that when they bombed Gaza they wouldnít hit any Israelis. Now I find out that it was basically true so it isnít a joke anymore. Mara told me to put this in my letter so if anyone is offended itís her fault. Hey, Iím good enough at evading responsibility I might get a job on the Bush team.
            Sitting here writing this and watching football on TV. Iím reminded of Hunter Thompsonís remarks before taking his life. ďFootballís over, time to go.Ē Or something like that. My father was a great H.S. coach and Iíve been into athletics all my life. However, right now Iím sort of glad football is almost over. I wonít have to watch TV anymore. Itís probably ok if you watch it all the time, but it can rip your brain out if you only watch it occasionally and experience how we see ourselves. Sheesh. Okay, Iíve done enough damage. I really treasure your friendship and caring. Although Iím not in charge I hope that you will have a physically and spiritually satisfying year. Till we meet again. 

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2007

Big whoop

Howdy folks, just want to let you all know that I just reached the big 70, big whoop. I took my summer trip that lasted a bit over a month and went from Southern Oregon to Vancouver and Lasqueti Islands , on up to visit some friends in Quesnel, Northern B.C, then to Summerland B.C. to visit some train friends. The picture on the front was taken at Stillwater Landing Montana last summer, where I opened the 3 night show of singer/songwriters, of which I donít qualify. I spent a week camping here and listened to some great music with wonderful friends from the music trains. Very great honor and to have been asked. Long trip and semi exhausting. Well, got that out of the way. My time mostly spent on music in one way or another. Iím currently working (sometimes sporadically) with 3 different groups plus doing some solo work and trying to do some recording. I played several festivals this summer and had much fun. The old giddyup ainít quite what it used to be but I still get around. Arranged the music for a local benefit for kids with cancer, it came off well. Finally figured if I want to get in as much stage time as I want and occasionally more than I want, I should manage the show myself. It was very rewarding. I have another benefit, music and craft fair for the local radio station and the local parks district coming in December 1, then I can retire. So much for me. My daughter Becky is still in the fast lane managing her several businesses in Sacramento . Her oldest, Jake is working, going to school, managing the family rental house. Isaiah is now out of school and working and sharing an apartment. My brother and family in Colorado Springs seem to be doing well and I am getting old. Very happy holiday season to you my friends, love.

Remembrance of Things Past

            Once again this missive will be very U.S. centric, although I guess with the Internet and satellite TV we all, even in evil foreign countries, know whatís going on, more or less. Even Canada, which seems to have a Bush administration wannabeís in Ottowa. Sorry Steven.
            Hot off the press..President/Vice President Dick Chaney treated for irregular heart beat. Iím really confused. I didnít know he had a heart©. Rim shot. Over the years the Republicans have stated their belief that Government agencies could not be run efficiently. The current administration had conclusively proved this to be true.
            I donít watch TV. Much. I must admit that I do watch the NFL on television. I have no cable and only get FOX and CBS anyway. I occasionally watch Cold Case and have been known to watch part of 60 minutes a couple of times. Since Iím being virtuous I wonít mention the time spent surfing the internet here. So I see thereís a writersí strike and right on cue I find thereís this new made-for-tv reality series called Presidential Debates. Itís gonna be like that other made-for-tv reality show called NFL football. I expect the candidates will soon have to wear identical jackets with a swoosh on them like the NFL coaches. Maybe do a shoe commercial once in a while. I must admit that I have not been able to steal myself to actually watch any of the debates but everyone else has and tells me about it so my participation probably wonít be missed.Ö Seems like that Dems are bitch slapping each other, but mostly bitch slapping Hillary about issues, records, etc. boooring. Not so the repugs. Oh, theyíre doing their bitch slapping, but itís Hillary they are slapping and I donít think she is even eligible to run in the Republican primaries. Anyway. Now these Reps really have some stories. Guiliani. You know I feel about him is the way I feel about those really ugly little yap dogs, you know, ankle biters that you just really want to kick but youíre afraid some Peta or animal rights group might be waiting in the bushes. Says he probably would have died from prostate cancer if he had been treated in any socialist country read England . I know none of my confreres would ever wish he had gone to England to be treated. Nobodyís that mean. The idea of having his less than handsome visage plastered everywhere for the next four years or so. Christ. OK. I admit that waterboarding is probably worse torture but this canít be too far behind. Olí 911. There ought to be a song there.
            Then thereís this other guy McCain who said in a speech that he is going to -get this- follow Bin Laden to the gates of Hell and shoot him with a gun furnished by the arms company that sponsored the speech. I did not make this up. Maybe someone else did but not me. The thing I donít get is why is he still here? Shouldnít he be on a boat or plane on his way to Afghanistan? And Iím his age and I know I would have trouble even breathing at 11-12,000 feet. Will they allow him to carry a gun on the Plane? It would be hard to do this after he became president because he would be too busy being president and all. Have to take a bunch of Secret Service agents. The Dems have no answer for that at all. Can you imagine someone, say Dennis Kucinich, strapping on a 6 gun and sayiní Önah, forget it. Nothing against Dennis, but itís just not hisÖ style. Olí Fred Thompson. First press conference answered every question with an ĎI donít knowí. Probably got up to speed after a couple of hours cramming. Mitt. Oh boy. Life long NRA member and big game hunter. Turns out he recently became a member and has a .22 or something to shoot rodents with. Guess the NRA has become more inclusive in its recruitment. Since he was a draft dodger during Vietnam he canít even claim he learned shooting in the army. His kids also found the idea of military to be distasteful. Thatís ok though, since he feels their working for their fatherís presidential campaign is equivalent to them getting their ass blown up in Vietrak. Maybe. He might be a shoe-in. We need more chicken hawks in the Capitol.
            And Huckabee. This man is interesting. Says he plans to go quail hunting with God when he gets to heaven. I wonder if Bush is jealous. I know George talks to God a lot but I havenít heard that God has invited him to go Quail hunting. Lot
of leadership material here and itís entertaining. I mean, whoíd want to watch the Democrats when youíve got this stuff to watch. The Elephant of reality has not been noticed by either party.
            I have to say that Iím not particularly enjoying this bad 1950ís sci fi movie weíre living in now. I expect to see some  radioactive claymation monsters lurching from caves or something any day now.  Iím excited. Anyway.
   
         Here I sit, 70 years old, remembering WWII, the heroism, the sacrifice, noble men and women and the exciting post war period of hope for the future, all in ashes now. But itís still imprinted on my soul. I feel like a 70 year old haggard, bent, grey-haired, grey bearded boy scout. Smoky Bear hat, khaki shirt with merit badges, neckerchief, 3-finger salute, boy scout oath and it makes me want to puke. Not pretty (just kiddingÖsort of). I should be standing on a street corner stopping one of three and saying ďthere was a shipÖ.Ē But I canít find an alternative attitude that would give me any sense of dignity, which is what itís all about as far as I know. But beyond all that I feel blessed for a number of reasons. (1) Iím not living in Iraq; (2) I have my music which is really being fun these days; (3) My list of sins and indiscretions (according to my accounting system) is small enough that I think I can take responsibility for them and not have to find someone else to blame. Most of these peccadilloes are of the sins of omission rather than the sins of commission, many of which I am too old to commit anyway; and (4) you my dear friends who have made my life so much more bearable. Thank you and may the coming year be blessed.
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2008

Merry Christmas

My daughter Becky (pictured with me on the left) is feeling the retail sales blues like everyone else in business. The picture was taken last year. I have been playing at her two stores in Sacramento each Xmas season and I was on a break when this was shot. Well, it's been another year for all of us. Nothing has changed too much in this neck of the woods. I have been playing music like mad. The rest of the family is doing well. My brother Dale and his family are well in Colorado Springs. Becky's two boys are both working full time and going to school. I guess I used to do that but even thinking about it .now exhausts me. So much for being over seventy. Most of my time is spent with music. I am playing with 3 different musical groups and sometimes performing solo. It's very exciting. I took a 5,000 mile musical trip .through the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. I know, that's a lot of carbon emissions but I feel like I still I have some credits because I spent 15 years without a vehicle, using maybe 10 pounds of fossil fuel per year. I had a wonderful time and realized how many really nice people I know. I wish you all a very merry xmas and strength in the hard times ahead. I am blessed for out friendship.  

Howdy y'all

I was told the other day that I should not make this rap a downer. Me? A downer? Me? Whose goodness makes Mary Poppins look like Idi Amin? What a low blow. Watch. I won't even mention Bush. Who? Not too much has been happening lately. Oh, I forgot we had an election. Speaking of Bush, I read where he asked God to bless the next president. If we are talking about the same God, the God who blessed the bush administration, I think I would say, 'Thanks, but no thanks.' I really hate to say this, it's just between you and me so don't tell anyone, but I sort of feel sorry for the guy. I know, I know, I guess this is just confirmation of what people have been telling me most of my life: that I am sorely in need of professional help. I guess I am just not a good hater. If you can't hate a spoiled piss-ant who single handedly bankrupted the world, completely destroyed a sovereign nation and the cradle of civilization and was most instrumental in destroying the planet's life sustaining biosphere, what the hell good are you anyway? I felt a bit sorry for Nixon too, about his first and only President forced to leave office. Boy was that misplaced sorrow. Nothing seemed to have ever penetrated that guy. I mean Bush, how does one atone for all that destruction. Maybe he'll join Carter and pound nails to house poor people. Ya think? Or join the old man and Clinton saving the world in one way or another. He's got the rest of his life, which could be fairly long if he stays off the sauce and drugs, in which to contemplate his incredible failure. And wouldn't you like to be a fly on the pearly gates when he meets God and tries to explain why he blamed him for all the crap he laid down? Whooee. In reading this stuff I see I may be old but I haven't lost all my chops. Man, wasn't that election some heavy theater? I got to watch Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice digest the fact that little pipsqueak had actually won the election and finally realizing that they were black and maybe they didn't have to sell their derriere to the masters in order to succeed in life. Actually I found watching the pride in their faces and voices and their respect for Obama's accomplishment a very moving experience. They certainly understand the victory on a level that I can't reach. About the same time of Obama's speech I saw a dark cloud come over my screen and was barely able to discern ... yes, Ralph Nader. Boy that was spooky. What a saint, The Man of Perpetual Disappointment. It is kind of fun watching those big bad reps whining (to be fair some of the dems are also). They remind me of those big tough yap dogs. Once they get slapped down don't turn your back on them or they'll nip your heels.
   
         I'm playing lots of music these days. I'm playing with 3 different groups. The oldest is the Harmonaires. We do 30's - 50's pop music and some contemporary songs, mostly at old folks' homes. I'm the only instrumentalist and lead singer with 2 older ladies who are knockout singers. I'm also with the Wild Mountaineers String Band; we do mostly contemporary (and sometimes old timey) folk. I'm lead guitar with lead and backup vocals. Laurel plays backup guitar and sings lead and backup vocals and Rick plays fiddle and mando. Laurel also plays a weird Swedish instrument called the Nickelharpa. The Stumpjumperz full complement, which doesn't happen too often, is Kenny and I trading lead and backup vocals and guitar, Rebeccah on fiddle and mando and backup vocals, Bob 2 on Mando, Kevin on drums and Howard on bass. Kenny and I are both country boys and we do eclectic mix from Jimmy Rodgers to the Grateful Dead. Kind of alternative folk rock. I do some solo gigs also and have a vocal harmonizer, which makes a big difference. I do a lot of contemporary western roots music along with lots of other stuff. I took six week trip last summer. Went North to Lasqueti Island, where I played a short set at the annual Arts Festival and visited David and Elaine in Coombs. Went back to Washington to Camano Island for several days to play at the 'Log Jam' and visit with friends Pepe and sue, Charlie and Linda and of course Bill and Connie who live nearby in the winter and Stillwater Landing in the summer. Went north to Quesnel in the Caribou in B.C. for a while to visit J.R. and Fienny and help J.R. with his computer and recording stuff. We played together at a garden show during the annual Billy Barker days. Went back and spent a few days in Sweet Home Ore. With Tim and his family and Chuck and his extended clan, played LOTS of music. Visited Talikma/Obrien for a couple of days visiting my special gal Mara, then up to Toledo Oregon where Laurel (WMSB) and I played at their annual street faire and folk festival. Laurel had lost her home and most of here possessions a few days before in the Concow fire, but the trooper played on. We got to spend some time with our friends Frank and Nancy (who put the show on) and John and Diane who put us up. Spent a few more days in Sweet Home, played LOTS of music then drove on up to Stillwater landing next to Whitefish Montana, Bill and Connie's place, and participated in these wonderful folks' annual free music festival. Played LOTS. Drove back home and played with Laurel at a wild horse sanctuary benefit then died. Not really, actually I felt pretty good after the 6 week odyssey. I also played several local festivals in the summer and fall.
   
         The really nice thing about the trip was re-realizing how many kind and wonderful people I have been privileged to meet and be associated with. From my perspective we have some tough times ahead. We will need our mutual friendship and support to survive. I hope that the nominal democrats can realize that we have elected a very intelligent and capable leader and not indulge in our own personal agendas. The democrats do often remind me of cats, and corralling them is difficult at best but we don't have the time for that anymore. As the Great Zimmerman said, "Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late." Love you all and best of times in the next year.

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2009

 

Lasqueti Christmas

Our first winter on Lasqueti Island, 1977, was traumatic to say the least. There were four of us, Mara and I and the two kids, we were illegally in the country, squatting on land that we did not own and without the ownerís approval, although he was aware that there were squatters on the land and didnít seem to be concerned about it. We had no money, no prospects and were running low on food and kerosene for light. Our neighbor, the Pirate, looked at me one day and said, ĎWell, I guess we are permanent residents of the island, permanent being defined as too poor to leave for the winter.Ē
   
         Christmas was aproaching, and Mara decided to make a ĎJolly Rogerí flag for the Pirate, who lived across the bay.  Yes, in those semi-civilized days there was still opportunity to freeboot if one were somewhat circumspect.  Anyway, on Xmas day we all dressed up in our Ďgoin-to-meetiní clothes.  It was a cold blustery day, but it wasn't raining.  Our clothes were thin, but we were only going a few hundred yards, across the bay to the Pirate's cabin, so it didn't seem to matter if we were somewhat ill clothed.  We walked the trail to his cabin and tiptoed around to his window and started singing Xmas carols.  Now he had been indulging in home-brew and for all I know he may have thought he was going into the D.T.'s when heard us singing.  (He did drink a bit).  Anyway, we went inside, drank a little beer, maybe smoked a little and feeling very cozy.
   
         One of the good things about the islands from a food standpoint was that there were feral sheep running loose, so if you could find a flock it was pretty easy to acquire fresh meat.  For the past week or so the Pirate had been trying to get a sheep but hadn't had any luck because they wander a lot and just didn't seem to be in the neighborhood.
   
         I had come into a quarter of venison, so I had a chunk I was going to take down to ĎBad Old Earlí, a semi-hermit who lived over at Ďthe Lagooní, about a half mile (as the crow flies and the trail does not) from Ďthe Coveí, where we lived. I started down the trail toward his place, got about 100 yards, and what should I see but a whole flock of sheep, grazing by the garden. I tiptoed back to the cabin and told the Pirate about the sheep.
            Get the picture. It was a cold blustery day outside; it was very nice and warm in the cabin, very Christmassy, convivial, beer glow, etc.  I could see that he was not in the mood to go outside just now, especially not to try to kill something and skin it. I worked on him for a little while.  We really needed the food.  Finally, reluctantly, he took down his .303 and grabbed some shells and started down the trail. I walked a short way with him, then stopped and waited for something to happen.
            I waited about 15 minutes, and wondered if the sheep had left the area, when suddenly I heard a loud explosion very near. I waited about 10 minutes and decided that he must have missed the shot, an impression which was somewhat reinforced when I saw him come strolling around a bend in the path with the gun over his shoulder and a very bemused expression on his face.
            He walked up to me and said, "I didn't realize how many rams there were in the flock until after I fired.  I found out that I got two of them."  I said "two of what?"  He said, "I killed two rams."
            This was something we had not counted on, of course.  We were wearing our best clothes, they were thin, it was very cold and what with high tide it was a reasonably long walk round trip to our cabin to change clothes, and it was getting on to late afternoon. Now we had two sheep to skin and gut.  We'd worry about butchering later. They would keep in the cold.
            Out came the wheelbarrow, gutbucket, ropes and pulleys. For about an hour and a half four of us were cutting and slashing like fiends. To this day I don't understand why someone didn't get stabbed. Anyway, we finally got the job done, covered and hung the two carcasses and had fresh liver for Christmas dinner, one of the best we ever had. Next couple of days we got the ĎCove Canneryí going and ended up with a winter's supply of meat. The best Christmas present we could have had.
            I was trying to get to sleep the other night agonizing and trying to deal with reality of the tenuous hold higher life forms have because of the degradation of our environment and the biosphere. I was suddenly struck with the realization that so much has been given to me that has been denied to most of the Earthís population.  I could only pray that I am in some small way worthy of my blessings. Merry Christmas to you all.

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2010

Harrison Stadium

Harrison stadium was named for my father, Hugh Harrison in 1980 in recognition of his establishing the northern California athletic dynasty at Oroville High School for 20 year following  his first year as coach and athletic director in 1940. I can remember as a young child following him around the old football field pushing the machine that lined the field. Coaches had to do a lot in those days. For the last two years it has undergone a major upgrade to a state of the art facility featuring field turf and that composite rubber stuff for the track surface. Last year he was posthumously inducted into the inaugural Oroville High School Hall of Fame for his outstanding career as coach, athletic director and counselor. I was honored to give his acceptance speech. He was a good dude.

The last year has been good to me, as every year has been good. Iím still here, doing well physically as far as I know. My brother Dale and his family in Colorado Springs is doing well.  My daughter Becky surprised us all by announcing shortly before the ceremony that she was getting married, which she did. She is full of surprises, wonder where that comes from. Ha. She has closed her fashion shops down and has more time for herself and her husband, although it is a long distance relationship because he lives and works in Utah and she lives in Sacramento . Both her boys are doing well. I took the Canadian trip again although it is getting harder on the body these days. Iím still playing with 4 musical groups and doing some solo gigs. The news is that I have just finished my first CD and it is for sale. Iím toying with the idea of publishing some stories and vignettes from my mis-spent middle age, so Iím not bored with life. Thank you all for being in my life and I hope you have the best new year possible.

Dementia

 Well, Iím 73 going on 74. The only good thing about this is that I am no longer responsible. Whew, what a relief. Diminished capacity. We even have some anti-ageist laws there somewhere to protect us from persecution. Want a Walnetto? I read a feature the other day reporting that a granny at the Ďgrand old age of 69í was still working as a DJ. Amazing. 69 and she can still punch a button. Expectations for us donít seem to be too high, so I guess thatís a plus also. That pretty much takes care of the good stuff about getting old.
            For some reason I donít understand Iíve gotten this reputation as a curmudgeon. I think itís uncalled for but I will try to keep up my reputation. My daughter, my own daughter mind you, gave me a book for Christmas named ĎHow to be Happy, Dammití, A Cynic's Guide to Spiritual Happiness. Such ingratitude. Anyway, moving on.
            We who were born in the late 1930ís were born into the great depression. I donít remember the depression of course. I grew to consciousness during and shortly after the war. Those of us who were rural middle class grew up surrounded by depression middle-class mores. Frugality, never owe money when you can help it. Never waste. If you were housed, fed and had a secure job thatís about as much as you could ask for. You worked hard. You did not trust banks, which had not only destroyed the economy and the social fabric of America but stole your savings to boot. Maybe the thing that turned frugality around was people figured theyíd better spend it before the banks stole it. We were taught that people were intelligent and had some vestige of integrity. If, of course you were white and middle class. That belief seems to have somewhat diminished in my mind. I donít really mind the fact that Sarah Palin is probably the most shallow and stupid politico I have ever encountered. Itís not her fault. The thing that bothers me is the number of people who think she is outstanding. Thatís weird. I can sort of understand Rush. He probably had a deprived childhood, maybe fetal alcohol syndrome. However, without working he seems to have made enough money to buy the St. Louis Rams a couple of years ago. I know they were not very good, but still. But Glen Beck. I have to have separate verification of what he says even if I actually hear him say it. We had our Ďconservativeí quacks in the day. Dan Smoot and the John Birch Society were pretty radical but they never controlled news media the way it is currently controlled by you know who.
            On the science front science is spending billions trying to create artificial life. Lawyers have spent a fraction of that on political Ďcontributionsí. The result, artificial life. Corporations. I also read that they have isolated the Ďfatí gene. We donít get fat by eating too much, itís hereditary. Great news for the worldís starving people. Just transplant fat genes into them and problem solved. Whew, thatís a relief.
            I would like to give a big thank you to a great American who set the foundation of the Great American Economy. Phinteas T. Barnum and his two edicts (1) Never give a sucker an even break, (2) Thereís a new sucker born every minute. Suckerdom seems to be gaining momentum and size. On some level Iím still living in the depression. I think my generation is the residue of the depression as homo sapiens are the residue of the Big Bang. Sort of. As we know, time means different things at different ages. At this age time and life are precious. I have always searched for meaning and have always asked the terrifying question, why? Maybe itís by inclination and maybe itís a residue of my profession as a systems analyst. We need to see the connections therefore we must start with the big picture.
            As you get older you get confused about who you are supposed to hate. I started out with the Japs and Germans. That was pretty easy. I suppose it could have also been Italians but they werenít worth the effort. Next it became the Russians and Chinese (com-chinks). Here it starts getting messy. Letís face it. They are all chinks, so itís our Chinks ( Formosa ) and their Chinks (mainland/commies). By this time of course we hated all Communists or those supported by communists. Then Korea. Again we had the chink or gook problem. Our gooks (South Koreans) vs. their gooks (North Korean). The Divine Sarah seems to be having a problem understanding which is which. She must have asked Glen Beck which of the Koreas was on our side. And still the Chinese. Vietnamese. Here again, itís our slopes (South Vietnamese) vs. their slopes (North Vietnamese). And still the Chinese. Then we ran out of gooks and it switched to the Middle East.
            We hate the Iranians (their rag-heads) because they took their country back from us. We like the Iraqis (our rag-heads) because they hate the Iranians and fought a huge war with them, at least partly financed by the U. S. But we sort of lost our way here because we didnít understand that the war was really about the Shiites (i.e. Iranians - bad rag-heads) against the Sunni (good rag-heads). OK until we overthrew the Sunni in Iraq and more or less installed the (Shiites) (bad rag-heads) in control, and they end up with close ties to the (bad rag-heads in Iran) and we end up fighting the Sunni (good ragheads) in Iraq because we kicked them out of power. Only in AmerÖ. no, Iím not going to say it. I have mellowed with age. I wonít even get into Afghanistan. A lot of hatred in one lifetime. See how confusing itís been? It would be a lot easier understanding why we hate white guys, but we donít massacre white guys anymore. Might like to kick a little French ass but Iím not sure that they are white anyway. Thatís a lot of hatred in one lifetime. Getting old is no joke. I told you that I am suffering from diminished mental capacity so nothing I say here should be taken seriously. Do not try this at home.
        OK. Got that out of the way. Itís been a pretty good year for me, if not for most of the rest of the people in the world. I am thankful for the music in which I am engaged, as much as my aged body will allow. Iím still performing with four musical groups (2 being occasional). Iím starting to do regular solo gigs so I can perform my style of music. Iíve finally finished a pretty decent CD, have been recording live from at least 2 groups (Stumpjumperz and Harmonaires) and hope to get enough good tracks for CDís. Doing dribs and drabs of recordings for another CD. Fighting to the death with all this technology I have acquired. Keeps me from being too depressed, and a real blessing for which I am constantly grateful.
        I can still be overly critical of my creations, which means I still care. Iím constantly inspired by you, my dear friends. You help to keep me going. Love you all.

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2011

Fame

Another (very quick) year has passed. The picture on the on the left announcing the ĎStumpjumperzí was on a billboard on Highway 70 at the outskirts of Oroville. The event was the summer concert series put on by the parks board, with weekly outdoor performances by the Feather River, entertainment by the best of our local bands. We had a lot of fun, the audience was great. Over the summer Iíve been playing about 14 gigs a month, mostly at local old folks facilities. Still performing with the Harmonaires and Stumpjumperz and this summer played solo at the flea market. As you can see I am really moving up in the world. Did my annual Canadian trip and had a good time as usual visiting old friends. The family are doing fine, Becky moving back and forth to her Husbandís home in Salt Lake City and whenever possible in Sacramento. The boys are both doing well, in college and working. Makes me tired just watching. My brother Dale and his family are doing well in Colorado Springs. My life continues to be blessed. I really canít figure it out. Thank you all for your spiritual support and hopes for the best in the coming year. Love you all.

2011, Sigh

Latest News Ė This just in:

Itís now official. Steve Jobs has just won the Me generation championship trophy. He died with the most toys. He is now in transition to instant deification. Anyone remember ďBrave New WorldĒ? Worshiping Henry Ford? Whoa, a little too close for comfort. Aldus just a bit off on some major points. Maybe. Technology is definitely the religion of our time, so I guess Steve can be anointed God of our time. His name is unfortunate. How will we use his name in vain? ĎSteve damnit?í ĎJobs damnit?í it just doesnít work. ĎOh my Steveí or ĎOh my Jobsí. I just donít know. Could be very difficult. It seems we are having a Brave New World/1984 convergence. Iím thinking of writing a new book. Think Iíll call it ĎBrave new 2012.í Weíre not making babies in tanks yet but the designer baby thing is beginning to take off, so weíre on the right track. Itíll be a little easier now because we wonít have to make workers anymore. Hell, we donít even need Mexicans any more. At least we donít think we do. Soon robots will do everything worthwhile or fulfilling. Of course the surveillance state is already here so that part has been accomplished. Iíll have to work on the plot.
            Newtís back. Just canít keep Newtie down. Heís like the Terminator. Just canít kill that guy, the Ďmoral relativismí poster boy for the religious right. Among several other things heís responsible for getting Rupert Murdoch American citizenship and control of American (world) media. This deed alone should qualify Newt for the presidency. No question. Speaking of Murdoch, some think he is a right wing nut. Heís not. He absorbed the British Liberal party (Tony Blair) after the fall of Thatcher, engineered Britain ís involvement in Iraq and when he had sucked all the juice out of Blair and company he switched back to the Tories and Cameron. His real goal is to rule the world. Unfortunately (for him) he doesnít have enough years or brain cells left to accomplish this. I kinda feel sorry for him. Such a nice guy. However, he seems to have managed to hack all the phones on the planet that the CIA, DHS and FBI missed. God bless him.

Unconfirmed rumor department:

I have heard a rumor that scientists are beginning to use republicans for experiments. The reason seems to be that there are some things rats just wonít do. I personally donít believe the rumor; HOWEVER, has anyone been following Republican race?

Our Neighbors to the North Department:

I want to thank the Canadians for contemplating the scuttling the Kyoto accords. I think I detect a case of penis envy re: the USA . Theyíre in pretty good position to do some serious ass kicking. They have a manageable economy with reasonable debt and about three fourths of the natural resources still left on the planet. I wonder, though, if they really, really want to become the second coming of the USA. Iím pretty sure Steven Harper does but what about the rest?

Tech Department:

The Facebook police are after me. Iím on the run. I keep getting these messages that Iím not paying proper attention to my obligations. Hell, I donít even know how I ended up on Facebook in the first place. Actually, I understand that there are no Facebook police. (They call themselves the Facebook Team). Talk about levels of abstraction, these messages from are really coming from bots, program code scanning my (our) page making sure what we are up to, then letting us know that they know. I donít know. I donít think I spent 15 years without electricity, a vehicle, power tools, running potable water or legal residence just to be chased around by some program code. Donít tell me God doesnít have a sense of humor. If I drop out or donít answer your notifications please donít take it personally.

Wrapup:

Things going very well all things considered. Been averaging about 13 gigs per month, mostly at care facilities. Good audiences but the downside is many people in these places are younger than me. Uh-oh. My dream gig is playing in huge auditorium with thousands of frenzied women throwing their undergarments onto the state and me looking to heaven saying ĎShit, what do I do now?í Love you all.

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2012

This is the first time that anyone beside my father and I have appeared in the card more than once. My August self is generally on the card but hey, itís my card and I can do anything I want to OK? Louis (Dynie) Martinelli was my first buddy, lived across the street from him. This picture was taken in front of the old football field where my dad used to coach. Itís now the location of the basketball gym. The picture of the two old guys was taken outside the new facility, Harrison Stadium, named after my father. So these pictures were taken 70 years apart. Might also add here that Dynie is a pretty special guy.

  My year has been about the same, playing lots of music and a bit of writing. Iím still doing about seven or eight gigs a month with the Harmonaires and a couple with the Stumpjumperz. When the weather was dry I played as the house band for the local flea market. See/ Iím moving up in the world. Also gigging some with Laurel as the Wild Mountaineers String Band. Will be providing the music for the local Christmas Craft Faire.

 

2012..Iím abolishing it

 

Well, I made it to 75. Actually 75 years 6 months and 15 days, but whoís counting? Follow the election? Good stuff. Rupert Murdock is going to fire Chris Christie because he said something nice about Obama, Donald Trump is starting a revolution to take back the government, Bill O'Riley feeling unloved because his race is now in the minority even though whites made up 68% of registered voters. Is this really happening, or am I having a stroke or something. As the Republicans predicted there was massive voter fraud in Ohio and Florida, but the Obama won anyway. I was kinda looking for that other guy to win, because I thought maybe the country deserved him. Twice in a row the rich white guys lost the big election to an African ..er ah, the hell with it. They lost to the same nigger twice in a row. They must have an attention span of about 15 minutes. ďWell shit. They done this to us last time.Ē They now face the specter of losing to a woman in 2016. Oh, the horror.
            But after Obama was elected in 2008 The Republicans got even with the Democrats by appointing a black, Michael Steele, as head of the RNC. Thatíll show em about whoís racist. Now how do we get rid of him? Seems he took umbrage at something racist uttered by Rush Limbaugh and said, ďRush Limbaugh does not speak for the Republican party.Ē But it turns out that he did speak for the Republican party and Michael was forced to retract his statement. He mis-spoke. Then they managed to rid themselves of  Michael as well as any chance of getting any black votes in the next election. People this dumb cannot be allowed to run this countryÖ My feelings are that I want the guy in charge to be smarter than me. This is a tough goddam job. You want people who pay attention. I donít care too much about the politics as long as they have the capacity to understand the totality of the job theyíre taking on. Bill Clinton was definitely smarter than me. Just. Bush was not. I think Obama is. Thatís good enough for me. Barack, this is in your hands. Use it wisely.
            I remembering reading a Sartre short play called ďNo ExitĒ. I was about this person dying and going to hell. He ends up in a room with 2 women, 1 straight and the other was a Lesbian. The guy was gay. So theyíre all trying to hit on each other. Forever. I was thinking about the political hell, like maybe spending eternity with Rush Limbaugh and Bill ORiley. Whew. Maybe with Michelle Bachman, if you could maybe tape her mouth shut, but .. for eternity? I think I might prefer hellfire and brimstoneÖ. Breaking news from Canada (for our overlooked Canadian friends). It has been reported that prime minister Stephen Harper is still an Ass-hole. Itís amazing what I can get away with now that Iím old and not responsible for my actionsÖ.I had been hating on Monsanto for a while but I suddenly got this revelation. The world is too crowded. What to do? Oh, I know. Weíll poison the food and most people will die. They canít plant other crops because Monsanto owns all the seeds. Ha,ha, ha. Problem solved. With selfless dedication like that they should get maybe a Nobel Prize? Nah, I donít think the Noble committee recognizes Corporations as people. Ignorant Savages.
         Reflexions on turning 75 years 6 months and fifteen days, but whoís counting?  Well for one thing I lose patience with dumbshits, which is a bit scary because there are a lot of them out there. I begin to understand why old farts tend to be a bit touchyÖ I have somehow gotten outside my own head and realized that I was far from the most important thing happening it the Universe. That took a huge load off my shoulders. Otherwise Iím feeling mightily blessed to have been allowed all the treasures I have received. Around 30 years ago I decided to allow the world to come to me. You need to Ďfollow the path with heartí-Don Juan Ė because reality contains a lot of weird excrement. Itís fun to be watching my movie and wondering how itís all gonna come outÖThe music is always amazing. I play about 14 gigs a month during the summer and really get high. Every time. Sometimes it helps me through the real blues. Existence can entail much sadness and loneliness. To me there is no free lunch. Everything we do in life has repercussions. If thatís true then I  guess Iím playing for a tie. The Gambler is a great song. I pretty well manage to not get myself bogged down in the cyber world. The world of metrics feeds the intellect and diminishes the soul. We must feed the soul with stillness so it will grow. See? Ramblings of a poor demented old man. Iíll leave with just one thought. Fuck um if they canít take a joke. I just read this whole thing and I really am crazy. Thanks for your friendship and happy holidays. Love you all. Bob.  

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2013

No, No, No

Well, here we are. Almost 2014.1 don't accept that 'fact', but there's not too much I can do about it. The picture on the front is the Stumpjumperz CD cover. We are playing about once a month these days at a convalescent home in Chico, We put a lot of energy into what we do and the folks really like us. The Harmonaires are play≠ing 6 or 7 times a month in several care facilities. I am still playing Saturdays at the local flea market. The weather is fantastic. Least rain in history. Not such good news. Took my Canadian trip, short≠ened a bit. Managed to take in the Log Jam at Camano Island Wash≠ington State.

Nothing earth shattering happened this year. At least not for me, although I know it's been a very traumatic year in most of the world. My brother in Colorado Springs has managed to weather colossal fires and floods although they were not in the path of either. Dale still riding in the Gay Smith Team Baja bug doing the 1000. They crashed and he had some serious back stuff but I guess he played golf the other day so it definitely was not life threatening, I've been working on a book relating the experiences I had living in the woods in Oregon and British Columbia for 15 years without a vehicle, electricity or potable running water. It makes me tired to even think about it at this time in my life. I am now 76 years of age, an unthinkable age, actually, I guess they become more unthinkable the older we get. I'm trying to keep in shape and seem to be in good health. My daughter Becky is living in Utah with her husband most of the time, so I don't get to see her too much. Isaiah is attending UC Santa Barbara and Jake is dealing cards at a Casino.

As I get older I realized what a precious gift life is, and I try to make the most of each day (with limited success). You folks make my life complete. Love you, have a wonderful year.

 

Well I Swan

Hello there. Another year, another rant. This year I will not be talking about the global suicide watch. That is so yesterday. The earth is just purging out vermin. We do it all the time, antibiotics e.g. Of course the purging takes out good as well as bad. Oh well. So the earth is defending itself against vermin (us) who have so corrupted the planet. Of course it will also take all other creatures, such as whales, elephants, birds, fuzzy warm pups and cute little kittens, as well as indigenous folks like New Guinea natives who, as far as I can determine, have had minimal negative effect on the environment. I guess that can be chalked up to collateral damage, which we have found acceptable. Enough.
   
         I've been spending most of my time recently trying to make a list of all the persecuted minorities in the U.S. No wonder I haven't had time to do anything else, like eating. It's a hard job. Lets see, there's gay/lesbian, transgender, all females, handicapped, racial, little people, fat people, thin people, ethnic, religious and cultural groups. The Jews have the topper though. They are a religion, a race and a culture. They can come at you from all different directions. Women are actually a majority. They are very clever. All these groups are whining. The Jews have also perfected the art of whining and snarling at the same time. Try that sometime. Some radical feminists are pretty good at that too.. I'm not getting into sub groups within these major groups, except to say there is a school in California whose team name is The Arabs and of course that will have to go. The Indians are whining about the Washington Redskins name.
            Man, it's complicated. There is one true minority whose existence is fair game. It is the white heterosexual male. He is a sitting duck because a white heterosexual male does not whine. Kind of like the Dodo bird. There's one now. Thock, hit him over the head and throw him in the bag. I'm not whining, I'm just 'splainin. Of course if he becomes too uptight about his 'not whining' he occasionally shoot up a mall or government building, but we can write that off as collateral damage from the culture wars.
            An illustration of how far it has gone is that when I grew up in the dark ages, the third-person singular neutral pronoun was he. A lot of bitching and screaming later it became he/she/it or to simplify, they, which is grammatically incorrect but, hey, that's small potatoes in the PC business. Well, guess what that pronoun is now. She. and I don't hear anyone complaining.  I'm not complaining , just 'Splainin. I have been told that I have not mentioned Miley Cyrus. You're right. Now we have. I can tell you I'm feeling my age more psychologically than physically. There are the dirty little secrets about life that they don't tell you. I never would have dreamed that one day 'wardrobe malfunction' would be a word in the dictionary. What I mean is that this age you are no longer relevant. Trying to keep up with the changes the young people take for granted is really difficult. Be prepared. Not complainin' just 'splainin'.
            I continue to be blessed in my life. I'm fighting the wars, but I'm a warrior so that's part of the deal. I'm blessed by my family and many friends. Life has treated me relatively gently and can't expect that to go on forever, so I'm trying to cram in as much as I can. I'm performing music about twelve times a month with either the Harmonaires, the Stumpjumperz and my solo gigs. Until the middle of November I played outside at the local flea market. Mostly solo or sometimes friends would come by and we'd jam. I became the music coordinator for the Oroville flea market. I hit the Big Time, baby. I'm working on a Harmonaires CD right now and I'm at the edit state of my book provisionally named 'Hippie Tales from the Northwest Woods', hopefully to be published in the spring. Love you and hope life treats you well.  

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2014

Jim Inhofe, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman.....

Well folks, it seems to be leaf blower season once again. I bring this up because it was the main theme of my first letter 22 years ago. I'm happy to report that I hate them as much now as I did back then. On a happier note congress and a lot of others have been dissin'  AT&T these days, accusing them of lying to customers about bandwidth and stuff like that. Well DUH. That's what business is all about. I think all the critics are missing the point. With appropriate modesty AT&T has failed to take credit for having developed the most amazing invention of the last century. Yes. They have invented a time machine. It is known as ATT Broadband and they have taken internet speeds back to the 1980's. I'm hoping their next improvement will eliminate the internet totally... I read a headline recently that said Nerd is the new normal. I totally get it. They've reduced the universe to binary. Ones and zeroes. They think. Their heads are full of ones and zeroes while the real (analog) world just ignores them, going its own way except in the areas in which nerdy activity actually affects the universe in some way; it makes adjustments and keeps on flowing. One of these days it's going to roll over on us and it won't even notice. Too busy looking at their hand-helds. Dreamers are so last century.
   
         The 'Hippie Tales of the Northwest Woods' book publishing process was eye-opening of course. I was afraid of having to deal with the real world, after being quite comfortable in my self-enclosed fantasy world, but I have done fairly well. I am quite happy with the result. There are many self-publishing companies, and of course I don't know how typical mine, Hillcrest Publishing, is. There are many rip-offs in the business. It all ties into the cyber-world of course. They all have packages you can purchase, and many options. When I start a project I need to understand and control the process, being an analog person and systems analyst, and my approach was not really available. They will tell you what to do at any given point in time. There is an overall facilitator who may be available by phone if necessary. The author is led through 11 different units: proofs, marketing, distribution, printing, cover design and more. When each task is completed the author is directed to the next step and loses contact with the person he was dealing with in the previous step. I had a bit of contention on the covers. The designer sent me 3 designs which were awful. I had my own ideas of course, being a professional designer of sorts, but we worked it out. If I had been a neophyte the cover might have been horrible. The thing is, if I had commissioned the editing on my own, rather than contracting through them, the whole publishing process would have been done without anyone at the publishing house having read the book. Just a commodity. I understand that it is efficient use of resources. I could have designed the system they used myself, but by definition it became a commodity. This is not their fault, it's the way all profitable businesses run. All ones and zeroes, no context. Anyway, it got done. Now we get to the marketing. I'm afraid that I can't think of anything funny so I will pass on some of my favorite quotes. Yes, I shamelessly quote myself on some. Get over it.

Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deduction that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally; he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses in order to justify his logic.
Dostoevsky, Notes from the underground

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. 

George Bernard Shaw

Artificial Intelligence Ė The result of teaching homo-sapiens to think like machines.

Buckwheat Bob

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs, there is also 

a down side.Ē

Hunter Thompson 

Life is too short to ride ugly horses.
Jerry Jeff Walker

War has become to American civilians "an exciting adventure, a competitive game, and an escape from the dull routine of peacetime."
General David M. Shoup Marine corp commandant and Medal of Honor  recipient

 ďI can forgive you for killing my sons, but I cannot forgive you for forcing me to kill your sons.Ē

Golda Meir

Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
Ambrose Bierce, ĎDevilís Dictionaryí written between 1881 and 1911.

Friends are people who really know you and still like you.
Buckwheat Bob

Donít go lookiní if youíre afraid of what you might find.

Buckwheat Bob

Aging - conscious aging - carries the person from the ego to the soul. 


Ram Dass

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.Ē 
Aristotle

I'm really looking forward to the upcoming presidential race. Gag. I can't wait to watch the Republican circus, especially their star, dick nose Ted Cruz.
   
         All things considered it's been a good year for me. I think about you all the time and hope the new year will be fruitful and happy. Whatever goes on around us our satisfaction with our life is our own responsibility.

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2015

Hello dear friends. Well, I checked last year's calendar and found out that I live a pretty boring life. Mostly it revolves around my music. I play 11 or 12 gigs per month with bands and solo, and mostly care facilities. These venues are still very rewarding. Captiv audience, heh, heh, heh. I took my usual trip north in September, visited Vancouver island, spent a few rainy days on Lasqueti Island, then visited J.R. and Val in Quesnel in the Caribou. I attended the sixth annual Oroville Union High School District Hall of Fame ceremony, representing my father, Hugh Harrison who is a charter member. This year I arranged to video record the event, which should stimulate interest. The family is all doing well. My brother Dale is still in Colorado Springs , semi-retired. I haven't been able to figure out exactly what that means. My daughter Becky is traveling between staying with her husband in Salt Lake City and keeping her home in Sacramento . Her two boys are doing well, Jake, the oldest is a certified electrician, finishing his schooling and working full time and Isaiah, who graduated with honors from UC Santa Barbara, is working as a real estate representative for Berkshire Hathaway and having a slow start in the game. He is also holding down several part time jobs to make ends meet, but he is very resilient and I'm sure will do well. How's that for a boring letter? Love you all. Bob.

No humor this year

 

Sorry to have to tell you, no funny stuff this year. Lord knows I've tried, but it just won't come. I still keep looking under metaphoric rocks and don't find much humor there. Interesting stuff but not much fun.
            Well, friends and neighbors, it's again time for us to experience the latest Reality TV series, the presidential campaigns. It's a fun show. The genius of the show is that it's rigged so that if anyone ever gave a decent and thoughtful answer to any question they would be crucified. Only figuratively so far, but who knows about the future? I have to admit the Republicans are helping me out here. THANK GOD. What gets me is that they don't seem to understand first, that there many, maybe most, people in the whole world are listening to their pronouncements and trying to understand them. I've lived too long. I've lived through Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama and I have never seen the level of cluelessness at any time in our recent history. You know what I'm saying? It's embarrassing. Does it never enter their minds that they are letting everyone in the world hear the things they are saying? And that they are affecting the views of America by almost everyone in the world? I just don't know. There are several scenarios possible here. (1) They are totally tone deaf and stupid enough not to gauge how their utterances will be perceived by other people, namely voters and foreign friends/enemies. In this view they must believe that a large portion of the world's population, if only they heard their 'words', would all say, "Well shit yeah, sure, why didn't I think of that?". (2) They are totally slime who know their shtick is all crap and that they have made clowns of themselves for the sole purpose of getting the nomination from the low performing electorate (hopefully a small percentage of the total population) who buy into this stuff. Unfortunately, if they get the nomination they will have to wear all this shit. "I didn't really believe all that shit I just needed it to impress the lower level of my constituency." It's gotten so bad that the Reps are breaking the Ronald Reagan 11th. commandment, Don't speak ill of fellow Republicans. Trump has even managed to gross out Bill O'Reilly, which is not a trivial accomplishment. I told you this wouldn't be funny.
            And, speaking of Republicans, I've been confused for years about their fear of Hillary Clinton. To me she is a small, bright, resilient woman who is not overly strident in demeanor, yet the entire Republican party has been terrified of her for 25 years. How can you stay this focused on anything for 25 years. I know that women can be a pain in the ass at times, but c'mon. With that ability to focus they might try to use it to save our world. Oh, well. They were after her when Bill was running for president and every election since, whether she was running or not. Whitewater, million dollar reward for any evidence of misbehavior by either of them. I mean, didn't anyone tell them that you are not elected to first lady? That it comes with the package? They like to see themselves as tough, principled protectors of everything American, especially money. This is a lie of course. They are by breed contemptible cowards. Even about money. Almost very Republican president has brought the country perilously close to bankruptcy. At times I wish I were a cartoonist. I would like to draw a panel with Hillary as a mouse, standing on the ground with a whip while a bunch of terrified elephants try to climb telephone poles and trees, and her yelling "Come down and fight like a man." Charlie Hunter, are you listening? I know you're a Bernie guy, but humor me.
   
         I have to admit it's been a tough couple of months. Canada has betrayed me. It's been such fun over the last nine years being able to throw Stephen Harper in their face whenever they started attacking America .. What did they (finally) do but throw the rascal out. Not only that, but the Prime Minister is a (gasp) liberal and worse, he's half frog, worse still the son of Pierre Trudeau who spent a lot of years as Prime Minister thumbing his nose at the U.S. His mother hung out with Mick Jagger in the '70's. So now I have no ammunition to throw at them when they attack. Thanks a lot Canada .
   
         Well, I seem to be getting older. I wonder how that happens. The modern cyber world is pushing me into a corner. I don't understand most of the acronyms used now. I have a faint idea of what an EMOGI is. I don't think it rates as high in Japanese imports as Zen and sushi but I guess you have to take what you can get. Tough shit. I managed to buy a car (a RAV 4) with a manual key. I feel uncomfortable in a situation where the car's electronics (and battery) decide whether or not It's going to open the door for me. I use the key instead of the beeper to open it. The car doesn't like that but lets me in. Mostly. Sometimes it will lock it again before I get a chance to open the door, then beeps at me. I don't understand the algorithm. Maybe it does this after 10 tries just to fuck with my brain. I don't know.
            I also like to pay in cash. There is a concerted effort to stop this type of fiscal irresponsibility. You baby boomers who want to live forever should take what the future holds for technology into consideration. Technology makes you (me) to begin feeling like a rat trapped in a rain barrel.
   
         Still tilting at windmills but with decreasing expectations of  actually hitting one. The book, "Hippie Tales of the Northwest Woods" isn't selling particularly well but I'm fine with that. At least it's out there. It might make a nice Xmas gift for friends and family who might enjoy superb literature. My website is expanding slowly at http://Buclwheatbob.com. I'm well, playing a lot of music, although as of yesterday I have given up my flea market Saturdays for the season since it' getting too cold for the fingers. Sorry this is not funny. I tried. Love you all and all the best.

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2016

Well, life is going pretty well for all my family, which is a blessing. As for me, nothing much interesting happened in the last year. Snort. I seem to have developed a sort of life pattern. Mostly I play music of course. Still doing 11 gigs a month, although there is the occasional rain out or cold out at the flea market. I took my annual trek north with Carolyn and stayed with Bruce on Lasqueti. I average walking two miles per day and do upper body exercises and eat fairly healthily. I feel pretty good, but I don't know what you're supposed to feel going on eighty. Trying to maintain my website but I have something of a failure to communicate with much the tech world so...it's difficult to do things your way anymore. Technology says "You will do it my way." Enough said. I'm wishing you, dear friends, the best of times over the next year.

The cover picture is the Christmas in 1983? The winter of the big freeze. We are gathered at Justine's place (the Edith Livingston house). Left to right are Jodi, Bruce Bird, Bobby and Becky (my daughter), me, I think Arnie hiding his face and Lhasa.

Buckwheat and Justine posing by a primitive altar at Sandy Point Lasqueti Island oh...1982?

 

Octogenarian Tech Talk

  Ah, dealing with my accelerating conflicts with technology. Tech is gonna be mighty relieved when I'm finally dead and gone. My car disrespects me and it's a low tech car. Maybe it resents that. I use the key to open the doors. I know, I'm just trying to keep this shit under control. Sometimes it locks the door before I have a chance to open it. I don't see needing two hands to unlock a car as progress, but I guess we must all make sacrifices for the greater good. I have figured out how to use those soft drink machines in fast food restaurants, you know the ones with all the buttons and menus. At least I think I have figured them out. It's interesting that home appliances can bring down the Internet. I'm very thankful that my trash compactor was not the guilty party, partly because I don't have a trash compactor, and I can see no particular reason that it should be attached to the net if I did.

            There is a tech breakthrough that I'm really excited about though. The Back to the Future lighted self-lacing shoe. This invention proves our superiority over the other primates for all time. I looked this up and of course it's bait and switch like everything else. I clicked on the ad for this device and had to watch an Exxon-Mobile ad before I watched my ad. It doesn't really lace up the shoe, it just tightens it. Still, for obese people who can't bend over it would be a godsend. Except you still have to bend over and press buttons in order to adjust them. Still, it's probably a bargain for only $750.00. So these shoes are rechargeable, and have lights to show the charge level. Who looks at charge levels anyway? So you're getting hot and heavy with someone you love and the batteries give out, and you can't get the shoes off you fool, and you have to say, "Could you hang for half hour so I can recharge the shoes and get them off?" The mood is gone? Doesn't make much difference these days since you have to have a signed and notarized consent form in order to have sex anyway. I guess the next upgrade will have and I-phone app that will monitor the shoes and give some kind of message like, "If you wanta get laid you'd better get out of those shoes right now!!" The App will also allow you to adjust the shoes from a remote device. Probably up the price to $1,000.00. Well worth it I'd say.

            I'm having tech problems with my website. Thankfully I don't have to learn Swahili in order to converse with the rep, I enjoy using on-line chat instead. I rewrote my website with Microsoft Frontpage, an obsolete program (kinda like me) and Earthlink  (without getting my permission) uploaded it to the server. It works, Only problem is I can't find the files on line, so updating is difficult. I got onto the chat and told them I couldn't find my files. They couldn't find find the files either and suggested I wipe the site out and reload the files. Back when I was doing support we used to try to fix problems, but I'm leery of re-engaging the chat. I do have a possible out however; they have been trying to get hold of me so they can sell me something, some kind of new authoring tool or something that will make the site more effective for selling whatever I am selling. If they actually looked at my site they would know that I'm not trying to sell anything, but I guess in this age you have to be selling something otherwise why would you want a website. I think I'm going to call them, listen to their pitch and try to find out if Earthlink has actual tech support. Most sites have support, they just make it impossible to find it. Everything is now bots, computer robots, and if you have anything but a standard question it goes tilt. It's usually manifested in a pull-down menu of questions and if yours isn't on the list it drops you out. My questions are never on the pull-down. I suppose I should tell them that the reason I got unorthodox and actually use HTML is because I'm 80 years old and that's how I want to do things. I can almost hear, " Oh shit why did I have to take this call? Why is this guy still alive, much less writing his own applications? Grandpa, we don't do things this way anymore." Want to feel obsolete? Try talking to 25 year olds about tech stuff.

            It looks like Goodyear has ended its association with the Peanuts gang, too corny I guess, and "The Most Interesting Man" commercial has dropped the upper middle aged thoughtful man with a younger action hero. There doesn't seem to be too much joy around these days. Technology has knocked the soul out of us. No, we've got a soul but it's locked up where it can't cause any trouble. It's been a long time since I thought life owed me anything.

            Somebody told me there has been an election. I may have actually voted. I can't remember who they told me had won and I don't mind that. Dementia actually has some good points. I love you all and pay no attention to the orange man with the weird hair.

 

 

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2017

Ruminations of an old, old man

Since nothing significant happened politically this last year I won't talk about it. My on-going war with technology goes apace. Despite my best efforts I find myself up to my as.. sorry, my derriere in Usb cables and battery chargers. They seem to proliferate like  rabbits. As you may know I don't have access to TV. I could probably stream stuff on the internet but my carrier, ATT is so slow it precludes me from that. I don't pay for content for several reasons that I will not get into. Mostly I can find other means of entertainment, even providing my own on occasion. I must admit that I love college football. ESPN provides a channel that contains a number of mostly minor league sports, including many college football games. A lot of these games as well as some boxing matches are announced in Spanish, seemingly on the assumption that if I don't have some washed-up jock commenting I won't be able to figure out what's going on. Generally they feel that they must fill up all non play time (and there is a lot in football) with replays. You liked that? Lets watch it ten more times. Sheesh. I love bean-counter logic. I keep the sound turned off anyway and it makes me concentrate on what's going on in the game. They also have the Skycam, a shot from above and behind the quarterback so you can see the play. There is no commentary but the best thing is that there are no replays. Sometimes the camera guy will get distracted by cheer leaders or something instead of the game, but mostly a good view of the play. Since I'm not used to TV advertising it's a shock to watch it during these contests. Gives me a real insight into the marketing strategy. You see the same insulting commercial at least 10 times during the game. They want to make sure you get the message. The message is a bit more obscure with the sound off. It gives me a real insight on how the advertisers view me. It's clear that they think I'm a f@#$% idiot. My current vision of Hell is having to watch car commercials for eternity. One of my favorites is the rock slide gremlins trying to eat this car (can't remember which make) but of course they fail. My absolute favorite is these two cars going in opposite directions on a street at night, both cars at about maybe 2 miles per hour. No problem because there are no other cars on the street. One driver is a good looking girl and the other a hunk of some sort. They look at each other (hard to see in the dark) but no matter. They both leave their cars and meet on the median and start making out. Just what the hell are they trying to sell here? For one thing they seem to be telling you if you buy this car you will make out in the median. But best of all there will be no other cars on the road. By the way, have I mentioned leaf blowers lately?

Being a depression baby and growing up during the war and its aftermath, a solidly analog world at that time, I have no patience with the new cyberworld. By the power of our logical brain we have managed to turn a 4 D reality into a two (perhaps more correctly zero D world) in which we can move any 0d object (point) anywhere on a 2 dimensional plane we wish, in order to create a new world which has no relationship to the analog (real) world.  Makes no sense to me, however as a disclaimer, I am using the cyberworld to create this card. I also use it extensively in my music creation and performance. The difference is that I see this discipline as a convenient toy. I use it does not use me. So on a psychological and spiritual level. It makes no connection. I can see no place for me in this brave new world except to keep on keeping on. Fortunately I won't be around too much longer. Anyway, I will keep running until apprehended and it will be fun in between the heartaches. I shall leave you with this poem. It could be construed as reminiscences of an old man, however I remember reading it in literature class and being powerfully struck (in my 20's) by its power. I also remember listening to Theodore Bikel at home on Pacifica radio in the early 60's. He read the poem and I still remember it today. I should have realized this consciousness would bring me much joy and grief. 

                                                                                    On a Fly drinking out of his Cup

                                                                          William Oldys. 1687Ė1761

                BUSY, curious, thirsty fly! Drink with me and drink as I:       
    
            Freely welcome to my cup, Couldst thou sip and sip it up:     
                Make the most of life you may, Life is short and wears away.       
                Both alike are mine and thine Hastening quick to their decline:          
                Thine 's a summer, mine 's no more, Though repeated to threescore,
                Threescore summers, when they're gone, Will appear as short as one!

 

In case you don't know all 25 (gasp) Christmas cards can be viewed at http://www.buckwheatbob.com/Xmas-cards.htm Hope you have a wonderful year. Love you all.

"Hippie Tales of the Northwest Woods" published by Mill City Press

buckwheatbob.com - website

bobharrison@mindspring.com

(530)532-4365

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