Friday, March 2, 2012

Give me my freedom for as long as I be...

"... all I ask of living is to have no chains on me" -- Blood, Sweat and Tears (does anybody remember them?)

In 1980 when I decided to dump what there was of a career and go adventuring, I knew there would be a price to pay. I decided the price would be worth it. I traded adventure while my contemporaries were slaving away in offices and factories for a time when they would be out on golf courses while I went to work on a newspaper copy desk somewhere. Copy editing is very mobile and a job not many people like doing and there was almost always employment available so I figured to end my days on a copy desk editing stories and writing headlines until I couldn't any more, happy with the memories of adventures I had experienced while I still could. In 1980 I could maybe have predicted the technological revolution that was growing at greater and greater speed if I had thought about it a little, but I could not have predicted the demise of newspapers.

When I went back to the newspaper a few years ago, the whole industry was starting to falter. It looked like it was going to be a race to see who died first, me or the newspaper.

Given the state of the American newspaper these days and given my age at the time, it looked to be a fairly even race. But after a couple of pay cuts, some furloughs and a cutback in hours it was beginning to look like I would win but it would have been a hollow victory. Maybe I should have paid more attention on those nights when there were only two of us in the newsroom of the largest newspaper in Alaska. It was looking to me like the whole industry was burning the house logs in order to stay warm. Still, I figured I'd ride it down and maybe let it outlast me but that is not going to happen now. I will be on the outside looking in as the industry continues its slide.

But, what does a guy do when he's laid off in this economy at the age of 69?

Peggy Lee used to sing the answer to that one: "if that's all there is, then keep on dancing, break out the booze, and have a ball."

It's not as bad as it seems. Despite this blow to my version of retirement, this is a good turn personally. There is time for more adventure while I am still healthy enough to get it on; all I have to do is go find some.

During the first meeting of a college psychology class way back in the 1960s the teacher asked us to go around the room with each person in turn telling something about where they hoped to go in life. Everyone took the teacher seriously and told what we hoped to be doing, where we expected our careers to take us. That was until the turn reached the hippie looking fellow over by the window. This was the 60s after all and there were such people. With a big smile on his face he said, "I am going to the Beatles concert in August." That was it, his life's ambition. Most of the people laughed and then looked expectantly but that was his life plan at the moment. For some reason that spoke to me in words that said seize the present, set achievable goals, live for now, and obviously I have never forgotten that incident. Who can really recognize what is going to turn out to be a defining moment in life?

With that said, there is a plan for this new turm. Lady Gaga is about to go on tour. As soon as the venues and dates are announced I plan to buy two tickets for a show in a city where I have never been before. And, when the time comes, I intend to go. I have learned that when you make an indefinite plan going out that far into the future, you ought to do something to make it tangible. When I eventually built my cabin at the East Pole, I was actually taking tools out of the original packaging I had bought from a list I made 10 years earlier. Along that same line, I discovered recently as far as concerts go there is an app for that. The picture you see is that app, my lighter for the show. On my iPhone.

In the meantime, I have a book demanding to be written, and, oh yeah, three short pieces on Iditarod mushers. There are at least four ocean voyages out there that are possibilities, one of them for three years. And then there is the spring offensive with the Occupy Movement.

And, I need to get going. As, the Rolling Stones sang so many years ago: "I have my freedom, but I don't have much time."


  1. I have a slightly different take on this because I have young children. Until my youngest heads off to college I'm tied to the proverbial 9 to 5 world, after that I have told my wife I have absolutely no intention of living out the rest of my days living in a town full of hybrid crosses of ignorant rednecks and arrogant snobs.
    While it is a long range plan subject to whatever life might throw my way my intention is to move out of the country to someplace like Belize.

    Oh yeah, I'm working on a book as well but I figure it will never see the light of day. At best it is something my kids or potential grandkids might get a kick out of after I'm long gone.

  2. Children do affect the dream and the wait is understandable. MIne are grown so it is not an issue, but earlier adventures often included them.

    As for the book, a friend once told me his book might not be published but compared with most people who say they want to write a book, he will at least have to pile of paper to prove he did. In the long run the pleasure is in the writing; publishing and any money are gravy. And most of all as a parrothead, you must remember the great line: we do it for the stories we can tell.

  3. Always a bummer, but I don't think I've ever left a job (quit or otherwise) that didn't turn out to be better in the long run.

    Now that you're not working nights, maybe we can even grab dinner from time to time.

    For once, all three of us are within 100 mi of each other! :)

  4. She'll be in Australia from June 13 to July 8. What's stopping you?


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve