Friday, May 22, 2009

Iguanas the size of Kangaroos Battle Golf Course Goofball

It is true. The iguanas across the lake from the massive paver deck, which is near completion, are bigger than a refrigerator. Or a bread box.

The grounds keeper finally got up the nerve to leave his golf cart. He wildly waved his arms at the fearsome creature, my pal, Godzilla, the giant iguana, who dove into the lake. G'zilla remained submerged for some time before surfacing over near the green, below that nasty sand trap.

The grounds guy acted like he was driving off but he backed up behind the tree, peering down at the bank in case the crafty reptile decided to sneak back up. He didn't see him surface a hundred yards to the north east.

I'm enjoying the escalation of this contest between groundsman and Godzilla. I've noticed G'zilla has a host of homies almost as big as a refrigerator. They were on maneuvers yesterday. Something is brewing.

Projects have continued in spite of the downpours. Supposedly Broward County was of the opinion that it was in a drought. Odd thing about South Florida, there is water everywhere, yet you always hear that it is drying up and there is no water. I understand the science behind the argument, but from appearances the place is soggy with water. Humidity is king down here.

Oh well. Here in this little sanctuary all the best of Florida seems to have landed in the back yard. Cool birds, turtles, coconut palms, other tropical shennanigannery, allegedly alligators but none have been seen since our arrival, great sky with S.Florida cloud mixes, etc.

I live an unusual life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monument to Humanity, and News from the Front

It has been some days since I've been on line. Other than a few minutes of 60 minutes, I've caught no news. To be blunt, 60 minutes is not news. It is a continuing series on how to edit to say what you want, regardless of real truth. You never know when they are playing straight. Rarely, is my guess. What I saw was a class envy piece. The neo inquisition routine where they harass someone about how much they get paid or pay others in a company whose business should be none of my damned business. More fallout from the bailout--the Socialist Inquisition. I'd say they asked for it by taking the money but I understand some were basically forced to take the dough and the directives.

It is amply clear why I need to remain news free. Five minutes of 60 minutes sends me on a two hour rant. "Well, you know, John, we must have laws and it is all not so simple and you just don't understand.." Oh screw you.

Sorry, inner voices, like the sea, do strange things to a man.

The whole deck demo and rehab is on video!! Mrs K, K., I call her. "Hey, Mrs K, or K, as I call you..." That's how I talk to her. Anyway, she has video of (title withheld to protect the innocent)K. Or, as I call him, Leaf Erikson, for his fondness for raking and bagging leaves. Except, I only do that behind his back. I call him his name, which starts with M and is not Mister.

So, Title-withheld-to-protect-the-innocent K. and I destroyed a wall which makes the Great Wall of China look like styrofoam. The we fill in the gigantic crater with non-believers and other rubble, then we rented a tamper which is a miniature earthquake machine, but I had been watering the site to make it grow, and the tamper was pretty much a noisy bit of superfluous time consumption.

That means our efforts to create a quick home-made landfill were successful.

If some of what I say does not paint a clear picture or ring a bell, just chalk it up to art, like you do Bob Dylan's singing. In truth, I am an artiste. Why just today I was telling, title-withheld-to protect-the- innocent K that, though I try with all I've got, my work ends up being art as if to taunt me. Yes, it is true; even when I try very hard to produce mediocrity, or worse, the result is still an exquisite creation one can only class as art.

I know I should not confess such a thing, or the fact that this may involve me putting in a bit more time than the inferior tradesmen in your rolodex. But, among my faults is the tendency to confess such things as this. And to do great work far too often. Unions would hate me. I don't like hourly restrictions. The job may only be worth what 100 hours would cost, but I might be motivated to put in 120 or so just to be sure it is up to reasonable standards. No reason a guy who can do as well in 100 hours should be paid any less or any more. (Unlikely as it is that such a person would appear, or even exist)

OK. I exaggerate.

It is just that I am so amazed at how much we've accomplished here. It pays to be working with someone raised in Colorado ranch and farm environs back in the day. Such people developed a kind of work habit that doesn't quit. This is like rehab for me. Good food, great view, every day is a work out, I have to behave halfway civilly, and any minute I expect the paparazzi to descend on us for producing a deck which is the new 8th or 7th wonder of the world. Do they still have wonders of the world?

They'll be here; the press, Katie, maybe Baba or Whoopi, al of them.

Film soon. Mrs K, or K as I call her, has some good footage. She has a talent for making the coolest videos. It's always an ego booster to be featured in one of these cinematic masterpieces--another artiste---even though I think celuloid has my name written on it. It's where I belong.

Let me tell you one thing about M, aka title-withheld-to-protect-the-innocent K. He is as fond of sledge hammers as he is of garden rakes--actually a shag carpet rake, but best to leave that one be.

I'm all caught up in the drama on the golf course. It seems one of the gardeners, or grounds keepers may be at war with the iguanas. He is also afraid of them, I think. He won't leave his cart. He'll pull up ten or fifteen feet away and have a stare down. Today he got mad (because he lost the stare down I think) and ran his cart at the iguana, who ran away down the bank disappearing in the pond. Iguanas can swim, and they can stay underwater for some time.

Iguana came up down the pond a ways. The gardener didn't see him but he drove by a few times later in the day. He's this course's Bill Murray character. Instead of ground hogs or gophers, this gardener is after iguanas. I'll send updates from the front when I can.

Other films will appear soon.

Ryobi reciprocating saw. Variable speed, cheapest model at Home Depot, if I'm not mistaken. Good buy. I give it the go. Great for cutting big holes in walls.
Hint: the blade can get smoking hot cutting a stud and you will see smoke. It is smartest to just leave it that instead of pinching the blade between your fingers to see just how hot.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Never The Good Stuff

Much that I could write I don't, because I have to protect the innocent. The innocent would be me in this case. If I were to write about things in such a way that others were heavily highlighted, they'd be mad and I'd be sad, and that is not protection in my book.

So they have a regular auction off of 595 somewhere in Broward County That is an interesting event. Some people are obviously regulars who resell stuff somewhere. Some things go for a fraction of their worth and some goes a little bit high. Most of the things that seemed to go for too much weren't things I'd want anyway. I didn't want anything because I have not so much money, and where would I put it? I'm not shipping some giant china cabinet back to Ballistic Mountain where I have no room.

I don't care if Paul Bunyan felled the trees that Babe the blue ox took to the mill so that Michelangelo could sculpt it into a perfect piece. No room at the inn, senor.

No room at the inn is a recurring theme in my life. Probably not always obvious to others what is meant by that, which is just as well, however I'm damned sick of the feeling. Even so, it is a cumulative thing, the no room at the inn syndrome. One has to work at cultivating this defect. It is easy work, tough consequences and part of the law of the universe in action. Therein lies the dilemma. I'm good at it but it yields no benefit. Quite the opposite. Do I shred myself because I can, or just be a lousy saved soul? Great loser or less than mediocre founder?

Life can sure be confusing sometimes. Is a coin toss the right approach or do we break out the Ben Franklin balance sheet?

There may have been some things to say, but as I mentioned at the start, I must protect innocence. It's Mothers' day. I was in one place with a gazillion mothers today. They were all in some way related, either by blood--shared or let--- or by law in some sense. Someone must have done something right because the younger ones were all impressive and gracious. No one shot anyone or carried on in ways that would result in injury or worse. Must be a boring family, you are probably thinking.

Or maybe you are thinking, "I guess they aren't from Memphis". You'd be correct. It could be they save the more festive gunplay for Thanksgiving or Christmas like they do back in my previous home town. Surprising, considering this is South Florida, where not reacting to a traffic light changing color quickly enough used to be cause for other drivers shooting you and stealing your rims. One thing is just the same as ten or fifteen years ago--the heat.

It is not a dry heat, however it is a mildly breezy heat. Not necessarily easy kite flying breezy but enough to move smoke, were there any to move. Which there isn't. Big drag.

I'm impressed with the work we've done to this point. Right now it is not so easy to see where it is going, but soon enough there may be tangible result, other than the immediate mess of DEMO.

Godzilla, thew gigantic lizard, allegedly an iguana, has shown himself again, off in the distance. There are water birds and more turtles per acre than I've ever seen in any body of water. My view is of a large pondish thing with tropical whatnots and golf lands beyond. I could sit for hours and watch the wildlife, and the golfers over there. But no, the work must be done and others will do it if I don't and they'll do it without asking my advice. I can't stand to be slacking out of the loop. I don't mind if the others relax while I work. I want them to. But they never take the way of the slacker. So, to keep them from pitying me for being a slacker I have to fake it the best I can.

Thespianism at its finest.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2nd Winds and We are DEMO

You have to remember DEVO for that to even slightly ring.

So, this wall was concrete block with red brick on top with slate or flagstone stuck to the sides. And it was as filled with concrete, solid and stuck on itself as---take your pick of people that fits. This thing rivaled the great pyramid for potential durability.

I am sure the jack hammer weighed 379 pounds, if not more. For some reason I soon became winded and could not seem to catch up with myself. I am used to that, and used to breaking through the barrier then all is OK. It was 450 F in the shade.

Anyway this phase of the job is pretty much done. It was the hardest part, I hope. I can hardly hold my arms up, or I couldn't at the end of the demo fest. Now all is well. We're ahead of schedule, whatever schedule was.

I need extreme physical stress to keep my mind off of everything. Sometimes the solo life seems like it has a bright light shined on it that you can't escape. A big Laverne L which covers 90% of my head and body. LOSER.

That is no good way to think, but I fight that big time. I need a road trip or some good drugs. Either will do fine.

People are the best, and the place has a great view, and pretty surroundings. I should not feel so --so. This is a real challenge. Getting past myself in order to let life be OK. I'd rather be solo than settle but I am finding it increasingly lousy to be that way around others.

Hermit is one thing. Socializing in a clearly deficient condition is another.

It is unbecoming and not manly to whine or indulge in self pity. OK. I'm over it. Hell with everyone and the thoughts they rode in on.

I'm mean that in the most benevolent, loving sense, of course.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

S. FL.

Perhaps it is just me but I find the Fort Lauderdale area to be a lot more tense and petty than SoCal. Maybe they act like that in L.A.

Others don't seem to feel like I do about the place. I've long considered FLL the jerkiest part of Florida outside Miami Beach. I like Miami proper and Dade county a little better than the Lauderdale scene. Hard to say why. This visit has not been too bad for rudeness. Except when driving; if you put your signal on to change lanes, the car a block back will gun it to try to prevent you from moving over. They hate for others to get their way in traffic even if it doesn't affect them at all. That won't stop me in the Olds low rider wagon.

Obviously the theory in the late 80's was; if we build it real close to the road, it will get good gas milage and people won't mind that they have to lay down and squirm through the door to get in. No matter to me, I can handle it. I know these vehicles. It didn't even fool me that they keep the latch for the rear hatch in the glove box. A little yellow button resides there. It opens the back if you push it just right.

I am pretty sure a new Godzilla is growing here. It was the wildest, largest lizard I ever saw. They claim it must be an iguana. It casts a shadow which darkens a city block at high noon. It eats flowers by the bushel. Golfers at the course by the pond and canal it inhabits have gone missing. No trace.

It's Godzilla all over again, I tell you.

Most things cost less here, but produce generally costs more. Probably due to shortages resulting from Godzilla's inconsiderate raids on the produce of the area. So, I don't hear those pretenders in DC acknowledging anything about This crisis. Cowards.

There are more creatures here than in the average zoo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Myth Busting: GM edition part 001

Who says American car companies never built fuel efficient practical cars? Oh, maybe it was Him.

Now, I will concede that GM built a ton of cars which later developed headliner issues. How many Camaros and other fine cars had that funky ceiling sheet flopping on your head? Plenty. It was a travesty. Other than that there were some fine rides.

For example, through a series of circumstances which can only be explained astrologically and possibly through careful scrutiny and research into my DNA, I am in the Ft Lauderdale area with an 89 Cutlass cruiser wagon as our means of transport. I was the designated driver as we cruised our way to Publix tonight. We knew the general direction, so we made it. If you are on a popuated road around here, keep going and sooner or later Publix will appear. The theory worked.

Better than finding food was the thrill of cruising in this very cool low rider. Station wagons were not as tall as SUVs. I forgot about that. This has a little 6 cyl engine mounted sideways, with front wheel drive. It accelerates well and handles just fine. I'm liking this stroke of luck. But as I ponder, I can't help but picture Al and all those guys in their giant Suburbans and mega vehicles, which is what GM assumed everyone wanted, now decrying the choices made by an auto maker who made what they wanted.

Arnold was Mr Warcar. Hummer would not have become nearly as popular without our doltish governor cruising around Caleeforneeyah in his war machine. He's a fickle representative. Let that be a lesson to other companies who want his favor.

Anyway, this Olds is the cat's pajamas. Other than a little dry rot here and there, and the ever present GM headliner issue, it is cherry. A dream machine. Chrysler can build the straight six Cherokees and GM can bring back the '89 Olds Cutlass Cruiser wagon. Detroit will prosper. Not too sure how taxes and unions skew the market in this case. Maybe Fiat can make those cars and by pass the troublesome issues.

Since we have czars for every facet of life, and I think he already has appointed some charlatan car czar, suppose someone needs to be fired so I can be the new car czar, or automobile product consultant czar. Possibly we could include all forms of motorized transport so I can insist we bring back the Vincent Black Shadow, and revive the Tucker.

Actually I think it is a travesty that anyone on pubic money has a title that includes czar or a job that involves czariness. Just shows how even I can be bought. Give me the czar of car and else job and there I go. I even want a single or two seat fighter for my company car. I'll learn to fly it myself, save money on pilots.

And, of course, I want the Olds Cutlass cruiser and the Cherokee for cruising in the highways and trails. .

Monday, May 4, 2009


At least one friend is missing and I don't get what is going on.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ballistically Mobile/ Chrysler's Answer/ Blame

Although I am a bit prolific at times, to put it kindly, there are brief reprieves. Regardless of that, place is of no concern or hindrance. Where I go, this computer goes and I connect the same way as at home, mobile broadband. It was the thing I started when the big Tour began, and living in the outland cottage, it seemed of no benefit to lock into some kind of cable expense or other land line setup. The only thing I wonder is if it is worth switching to Cricket. Either way I have no contract. Millicom seems to connect even when I can't get Verizon cell signal.

That is just to explain why I may be as prolific during the FL adventure as now. I doubt it, but it could happen.


Since Chrysler is under the gun to make cars the Obama administration thinks people want, or cars they want people to want, I have a suggestion. Actually I don't think the administration or anyone in Washington has a clue what people want. They always preface statements with, "What the American people want...". Maybe they get their info from polls, but few if any ever articulate what I want from them---almost nothing. Leave me alone and back off on the laws.

So, to cut all the speculation short and put Chrysler back in the money, all they need to do is revive the Jeep Cherokee---the one that had the straight 6 engine, the manual lever for 4 wheel drive, and that's it. I think they made them up until 2000 or so. This time, don't even bother with a 2WD version.

They got decent enough milage and I'm sure some of that can be improved without killing the engine, but keep the basic design. Parts are still around and those cars would go forever. Best thing Chrysler or jeep ever made for reliability and function. Simple, useful, and they drive well enough. I think people would go for it.

They could be made more cheaply than these hybrids Obama talks about. The public does not want something that costs an arm and a leg to fix, and a bundle to purchase.

I don't mean to only pick on the rock star president. Groundwork for this insanity has been in play for awhile, and plenty of supposed opponents are right in there with the phony excuses to control mobility.

I mean really, criticisms because that lunatic Chavez accosted Barry at a meeting while he was sitting down and gave him a stupid book are absurd. It only made sense to humor the Venezuelan nutcase. Maybe there are other interactions which deserve attention, but as if on cue, so-called conservatives invariably come up with such nitwit things that it detracts from real points and makes all those who oppose totalitarianism look like lunatics. What a bunch of twits. It makes it very tough to stop the tide of misguided officialdom.

The things done in the name of Green aren't necessarily less toxic. I'm motivated by cost. If it goes a long way on a drop of gas, then it gets my attention. If it is too expensive to buy, doesn't meet my needs otherwise, then I'm not a buyer. Very simple. If I were really down with the worship of earth and hatred of humans, I'd be up in arms about the manufacturing processes and recycling complications for hybrid batteries and swirly light bulbs.

OK. I got carried away, but the deception is not that hard to see. GE is the main manufacturer of wind turbine blades. Do you think they want wind promoted, and do they want some nobody to come up with a better way? Oh, GE is probably the number one manufacturer of mercury filled squigly bulbs too. Good thing the self righteous charlatans spend public money switching out bulbs.

People stand to make money from this stuff, and there really is a class of people who think they know best and that humanity is better off with them controlling the lives of the masses. It is the antithesis of freedom, and the concept of all men being created equal in the sense of having the right to make of his life what he can without interference from the state or official caste system.


The blame subject is short. It really bothered me that news people, therefore government slobs, were focussing on Craigslist as if that was the criminal. Blaming craigslist for someone getting murdered who listed there is like blaming the blunt instrument for the crime. Since we live in a world in which a bar tender can be liable for the actions of a drinker, I guess it is no surprise. It is twisted logic. Most of the rationale for excessive mass control and abridgment of freedom is twisted logic.

I think they need to just back off and quit focussing on craigslist, which is a good resource for millions of people. I found my dwelling there, and many people I know have sold things that way.

Friends get mad because I am always writing this sort of thing. What they don't get is that the rug is rapidly being pulled out from under the free world and it can't hurt for those who don't go along to say so now and then. Otherwise everyone just assumes that everyone else thinks this march into tyranny is fine and dandy.

I wish the people who seemed concerned about abuse of law under Bush would use that same discernment under the big O. I guarantee he expects to be there indefinitely. That rumble over doing away with term limits sounds right in line with the rest of the game. Those who rise to dictatorial power do not do so because they aren't likable and charismatic. Quite the opposite. I think we may be witnessing just such a rise.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Another Adventure

Embarking on this Ballistic Tour has been an enlightening experience in some ways. It has highlighted how fortunate I am and the fact that people tend to be rather nice to me. That sounds odd but I don't know how better to put it.

I was talking to the wife half of my landlord complex and one of her sons this evening. What cool people they are. Hitting on this place and those people was quite a stroke. For those of you who always own your dwelling that probably sounds a little peculiar or lacking the security one would expect from a lad old enough to be your Uncle, or your father's uncle or your father, or your cousin twice removed, or your first grade teacher, or your spiritual advisor, or friends with Ben Franklin. We called him Benny.

As it turns out, it seems increasingly more secure not to own an estate or basic dwelling. Ridiculous, I know. Here in CA, the landlords are the ones who push for month to month rental agreements rather than 1 year lease. That's due to rules and regs which put the person who owns behind the 8 ball. I see it as a blessing to me, but I am not one who thinks renters should be able to make life hell for the responsible owner. Upside down.

Even so I expect to own plenty before it is over, provided I don't have to join a revolution somewhere. As I watch free speech being eroded in ways that aren't even decent, I wonder. Whatever craziness comes down the pike, I still think in terms of projects which could yield some good return, pipe dreams or not. Having dreams is the cool part. I feel better when I do, as long as I can be at peace in the moment from time to time.

So, I'm off in a few days to south FL and I'm excited. The work involved is rather vague because we have no idea exactly what we're in for. I know it will be fun and I'll be with great friends. No way anything too gloomy is permitted with that gang. I was telling the land lady about it and she pointed out how lucky I am. Somehow she always makes me see the up side of my circumstances. For me to focus on the down side would be a bit like looking a gift horse in the mouth. Or something. It would be stupid and inappropriate.

I think the posts below this are more meaningful. This next few weeks is a mystery. I'm going and that's all I know. Flying, but I doubt Joe Biden will be on the plane. I hope lots of people stay home so it won't be crowded. Journey into the unknown. Not real well known at any rate. Just the way I like it; everything will be unexpected because I have no idea what to expect.

Remembering an Odd Encounter Part 1

(I may have written some version of this on the old journal--harpO--but it wasn't as vivid in my mind and I felt like I needed to write it again)

Today was another teak day. I finished a piece over at project O, as intended. I was going to scan the scene with my Flip, due to Bobby's request, but I discovered the batteries were dead as doornails. I must have left that sucker on, or something.

Anyway, the lounge chair is now a work of art. I have done five of those now. Just one more to go, but that will be later. I'm heading south to do who knows what near the thriving zany city where I was supposed to grow up but never quite did.

Tracing the thought pattern which brought up the memory of Mike Kevorkian, a pioneer in the South FL diving world would take more space than this lengthy story. My acquaintance with Mike was brief, yet memorable. I did not know him as the shaker and mover I later discovered he was.

Growing up in Miami included working in and later doing all the work in a side business my father started. Not sure how it came about, the business, not the work. It was a little operation that originally made spearguns, then the replacement bands for the top brand and spears for Hawaiian slings. Those are like an underwater slingshot that shoots spears. I've never been spearfishing. Maybe my father did, I don't know. Our lives were not exactly intertwined in a transparent fashion. Since he didn't live there from the time I was 9 or 10, the work load fell on my brother and I. In high school, I was the whole ball of wax.

The speargun factory was in the garage in the back yard. Few jobs I've had since involved work that was that hard, hot or unsafe. UPS truck loading in Greensboro matched or exceeded the degree of risk to life and limb. Safety is for sissies. That was our motto. In addition to producing a higher quality product, I managed to shed less blood than those who went before me. Am I tooting my own horn a bit much here? Sorry. I'm practicing for some pitches I have planned for projects that require schemes so crazy that unmitigated gall and confidence are the only way to go.

My experience in the fish gun labor camp is probably the source of my secret satisfaction in doing higher quality work than is required, or even obvious, and my disconnect between work and reward. Work should equal reward and satisfaction. I have yet to tie it together as I should. For some reason I do like seeing a good result that I can't fault when I'm done, but considering best return for effort put in eludes me.

Back to Kevorkian. He was always asking me about things I couldn't answer when I'd make deliveries to his shop. He especially wanted to make the replacement bands and was always prying about our method of doing this. That was not information I could divulge. It bothered me that he asked, and I was just a kid, stuck in a morass of other confusion.

A few years out of high school, with some college behind me, now a part time Air Guard crew chief, and still confused, I'd returned to Miami thinking, since the business was shot and stagnant that I'd revive it, then branch out into making other cool things not related to spears or fish. I figured if I offered my dad 50% provided he just take the money and didn't interfere it was win-win.

I immediately drummed up new orders and sold out the stock on hand with new orders coming in. Absent as he always was, I'll be damned if dear old dad didn't find time to start questioning my pricing and every other move I was making. Instead of months going by with no contact, he was critically crossing my path way too often.

I shut it down. Hell with that. I took a job as a draftsman/designer at a place that made water cooled exhaust systems for yachts. That was not a bad gig. Soon I was the go to guy for the custom work because I could look at blue prints and design the system to fit. Had to say that. I often forget that stuff. Anyway, I had a little apartment and a hellacious rush hour commute to Hialeah every day. Soon I decided to go back to school in the middle of nowhere--little town in NC--small college, and I was going to straighten out; no drinking or drugs, just become academic. Fat chance on that. D and D all the way.

Kevorkian called me and since he'd heard I shut down, wanted to buy the machines and such for making those bands. He named a figure and I assured him it had to be higher for me to even approach my father. I was good at that game. He complied, and my father agreed. After all kinds of hassle, I got a meeting arranged between the two at my mother's house, home of the speargun factory.

End part 1.

I'll write part 2 in a minute. I'll mess around with it so that part 1 is above part 2 on the page. Right now I have a cafe con leche break. Bustelo cooked on the stove. I'm saving my remaining parrot coffee, but Bustelo is a reliable Cuban coffee por la gente.

Remembering an Odd Encounter part 2

The meeting was set, when we left off in part 1. My father was all cynical and surly about the thing and I had concerns that he'd be totally abrasive and rude, which was about par for the course. He couldn't help it and may he RIP and all that. Just stating facts and setting the stage.

Just before Mike arrived dear old dad was quibbling over the agreed upon sale price for what was left of the defunct business. He even tried to say he hadn't agreed. Perhaps he was high or a little drunk when I closed the deal with him over the phone. In any case, I was sweating it. What if Kevorkian was acting up, too? Believe me, I had faith in neither guy, but I figured it would best dispose of the dreaded speargun factory once and for all and I was hitting the road in a couple of days. It seemed I'd wrangled an agreed upon commission when I sewed up the deal, so that was looming---gas money to a place I'd only seen one weekend.

Oh, and I had to make a guard drill along the way. The first of my ballistic tours I guess.

Finally I see this metallic green, Ford Falcon covertible I believe, with flames painted along the front fenders, come wheeling into the driveway. Out pops this guy, maybe late 50's or 60ish. He was one of those VanDyke beard people. Back then that was spooky. It wasn't yet trendy.

I expected the worst. But Mike had this open warmth that was not as I remembered from my high school and junior high encounters with him. A friendly aura of peace.

Somehow even my father seemed to be at ease and taken in by the charismatic madman with the crazy car. We were sitting in the living room, check was exchanged and the topic of the car came up. Kevorkian chuckled and said he imagined he looked like a kook in that ride but he wouldn't trade it for the world.

It turns out that about 5 years prior Mike was diagnosed with cancer. Lung maybe. He was a goner and had been advised to get his affairs in order because he was going to be checking out in six months most likely. So, he began to get rid of stuff which was of no use to his wife, and generally started making sure the loose ends were tied.

One of the items on his list was a sailboat he kept at Coconut Grove marina. It was a forty footer and his pride and joy. He was down there sprucing it up and hanging the For Sale sign. This young couple showed up and the guy was just staring at the boat like a puppy in love. Mike asked if he wanted to come aboard and take a look. The kid assured him he better not because he could never afford anything like that. He said he better just dream from a distance.

Then Mike decided to do something unexpected. He saw the kid's car and asked if he had clear title. He told the kid he'd trade him even. That's how he got the car. At the time it was only worth possibly two grand, if that. The paint was worth more than the car, and a paint job like that sort of limits the market so it was really worth not much. The boat was worth somewhere near 50 K, give or take 10K. Memory serves well enough to know it was in thaqt range but not sure of exact number. A totally lopsided trade.

Mike went on to tell of his experience on the cancer ward. He had undergone chemo or radiation, whatever they did. He said what struck him was how gloomy and empty the other patients seemed. They'd all given up and it bugged him. Being the gregarious wildman he was, he started raising hell with them and the doctors.

Finally he talked the medical people into letting him get the other cancer patients interested in learning to use scuba gear in a swimming pool. He got some sort of program going trying to add a little fun and life to his fellow patients. He said his own outlook changed dramatically when he was diagnosed, and as he decided to take an interest in the others. That was not really his way before.

It sounds odd to be taking sick people diving but they weren't out in the open sea. I did the scuba thing in a pool once and it was a cool experience. The point was, he cared, and he found changes he needed to make in himself through the process.

Mike's cancer went into remission and he lived another 15 years after our encounter. They dedicated an artificial reef to him south of Key Biscayne. They called the ship they sank the Tarpoon, named after his dive shop.

If you go to you can find a little more about him, or about Miami diving. Why you would, I don't know, but it adds credibility to my tale. Truthfully, I'd always thought the guy was kind of sleazy until that day in our living room. He changed dramatically.

It was one of those times when you leave a person and feel like you just had a spiritual experience or awakening of some kind. The feeling he left us with was just incredible.

I'm glad I remembered that event. Mike's story, his expression of his change in philosophy, and how grateful he was to have had the opportunity to see life a new way, was a gift. It was an event that makes me wonder that maybe sometimes things do happen for a reason.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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