Saturday, July 25, 2020

Some Haiku Friday

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Making a face mask comfortable and more usable...

Before I retired from the fire department, I came up with a hack which I think made wearing a face mask a little bit less of a hassle.

Most face masks have ear loops. I wearing hearing aids. Whenever I had to switch from a surgical mask to a respirator because of patient contact, the procedure would pop my hearing aids out. And these suckers had cost me some serious Costco cash. The N95 respirator had the more traditional elastic straps in the back. They never interfered with my hearing aids, so I transformed my surgical mask into the same setup. I used some office supplies at the station. Namely, a paperclip and two rubber bands. Now that I am retired, I don't have access to paperclips. Well, I do, but I didn't want to walk all the way downstairs to get one. So, here is my hack using a safety pin instead of a paperclip. 

The finished product:

 How you get there:

How it looks:

I don't believe there is much more explaining to do. But, here is the cool thing about having a mask transformed. When you go to the park, or are otherwise outside, you can quickly just pull the mask up from around your neck and up over your nose and mouth when you encounter others. It is also more comfortable and it won't pop out your hearing aids.

I have to admit that most of the time, instead of a mask, I use a buff, or a buff knockoff. You can wear it fashionably around your neck and when you need a mask, just pull it over your nose and mouth, like so:

You can find the knockoffs really cheap here. I really like the face masks that friends have made for me. They look very cool. But I do like the buffs better. I wonder how hard they would be to sew. They are basically a tube made from stretchy material. Hmmmmmmmmmm.......

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hey, she was right. This idea is a bit of a letdown...

Some years ago, I had an idea, which had lied dormant until recently sparking another idea in my mouldering brain wires.

Those Little Free Libraries were popping up in the neighborhood back then. There was something so moving about them and novel.  I had never seen such a beautiful public invitation: “ Please open this door and enjoy something to hold in your hands, something which may change your perspective on life, or, at the very least, entertain you. FOR FREE!”

Whether anyone ever really took them up on the offer didn’t matter to me. What did matter was that someone had built this little library, stocked it with books and waited to see what would happen. That they looked like little shrines didn’t hurt either. 

Right after these Little Free Libraries popped up, I had an idea to do something similar. What I wanted to do was to build an information board, one with a little roof like you see at state parks. On it would be works of art or poetry or whatever that people wanted to create and share with others. I would take a picture of everything that went up, catalog it and put it on the blog. Not long after, I started my weekly broadcasts of Haiku Friday. So, this idea was mothballed. 

OK here is my mundane proposal…

What if I put together a zine that came out once a month? It would feature all that month’s poems that were submitted to me for Haiku Friday. Also people could send in their artwork, musings, whatever and I would print those in this zine. I would put copies by our block wall. Maybe I could have a dropbox for those who wanted to leave their creations right there too. I could share the zine in a digital form on the blog. The physical dispenser of the zine may be a Little Free Zine single-wide? 

I wouldn’t  want it to make any money. None of my ideas do. The zine would be free. Maybe if people wanted a hard copy mailed to them they could pay for postage. So many pedestrians pass by our house, I think they would get distributed quickly. 

When I started this blog so long ago, my main focus was on visiting people in Spokane who I liked, and have them tell their stories either via audio, video or written copy. I got lazy and dropped the ball. Shifting the focus to creative works and giving neighbors a way to have something tangible to show them the wonderful spirits who live around them would be a worthwhile thing to do. 

I will probably be retiring sometime this year, or early next year. I would have the time to do this right. 

This book is what made me think about doing this:

Would this be a worthwhile thing? Are zines dead? Should I censor language or anything else that may be too PG-13? Let me know what you think, please! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A proposal postponed...

So, it’s been really long time. Is anyone still reading this? Is anyone still reading blogs?

Life has gotten kind of weird for me. I am home from work. I am not sure for how long.

What have I been up to? You might be (but probably aren’t) asking yourself this question. 

I’ve been whipping out about a painting a month. I have a shared photo album here if you are interested in seeing any of them. I still do Haiku Friday every Friday (well almost every Friday) live on Facebook. The videos wind up on my YouTube channel. 

I have such a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I really don’t feel like I have much to say that adds to the conversation, anymore. I alternate between being angry at what is going on in our country, proud of what is going on in our state and sad to see many of my old friends succumb to a worldview so different than the one we once shared. I would ditch Facebook in a minute if it wasn’t for my needing it to do Haiku Friday live. HF has been a discipline of sorts and an actual lifeline for me. Through hard times at work and at home, a transition which was scary, sad and happy, and through sickness, I have plugged away at Haiku Friday. At first, I did it on Twitter with a live video function. When I started broadcasting it on Facebook, I saved the videos to YouTube and then put them up on my HaikuFriday site.

Like a lot of you these days, my day subsists of doing some art, going on long walks to nowhere, working in the garden, reading, playing some games, Zoom visiting with family and friends, installing bidets, weighing in on social media (sigh), watching TV, listening to podcasts, eating and drinking. Lately, we’ve been playing the game Morels and actually growing shiitakes and blue oyster mushrooms.

We’ve been watching What we do in the Shadows and Killing Eve. We’ve eaten takeout pizza from Benniditos and burgers with a cocktail kit from Nyne. I have to say, if anyone was cut out for quarantine, it’s me. I might come off as an extrovert, but that was something I learned how to do as a bullied kid. My natural inclination is toward solitary pursuits. 

I made this shirt. I have only wore it once in public and the results were satisfactory, in that people avoided me:


I really think the only way left to save our world is through art. When I say “art,” I mean music, storytelling, painting, singing, poetry, dancing, theater, cooking, baking, photography, humor, etc. Art is anything that we do as a gift for others (and ourselves) to bolster our humanity and the overall cause of not-feeling-dead-inside. We have seen where, on social media, arguing, presenting facts, pointing out hypocrisy, sounding the alarm bell at  for our friends’ sinking ship of credibility has resulted in nothing but hurt feelings. Throwing fact-rocks at someone who pictures himself as “one man against a world of socialism,” and rallying against those who fantasize about being armed combatants at war with the conspiracy of The Invisible Illuminati does nothing to change the way they see the world.

Would art?

I know I have been transformed by beautiful words on paper, actors on the stage who risk all to give all and with paint smeared in the most correct way. The right song at the right time can pull my heart into my stomach. A warm piece of crusty sourdough might reverse the process. Pondering the stars, a sunset, my first cup of coffee in the morning, my grandkids, my kids can make me, well, swoon. 

I fully realize, that in order to fully experience life, love and the beauty of all these things, I need to be open too. I need to realize that maybe I am wrong in the way I see the world. However, I am pretty sure that experiencing the intentional gift of someone else’s creativity will probably not push me into violence, into fascism, into totalitarianism, into xenophobia, suspicion or hatred. In fact, I would think that  encounters with art will push me further into the opposite direction -  but I am open to being wrong on this. 

I  was writing all of this in order to propose something to you, something rather mundane. I wanted to hear your opinion on my proposal, but I think I will let it sit for a while longer. Because, well, I need to shut up  now. Thanks for reading this….

Monday, November 18, 2019

A long post for a long walk...

I have really been enjoying walking to work. I used to alternate mostly between riding my bike or running, but lately walking has been so much fun. For my last shift, I stayed on Monroe Street for most of the commute. I usually try to avoid Monroe because it is so busy and so loud, but on the weekends, it slows down and the walk is pretty nice. 

It’s three miles from my house to my fire station on the corner of Ash and Indiana. It takes me a little less than an hour. I dress warm. In the winter, when the snow is deep, I always walk. I never worry about getting stuck in the snow, like I might if I were driving. When I used to ride my bike to work in the snow, I rode about as fast as I would have if I walked. Likewise, with the snow, my running is not much faster than walking. 

I listen to music, sometimes. When I do, I sing along. This helps me fit in with many of the people I encounter downtown (think Bill Murray in Zombieland). Although, the other morning, one guy was pretty mad at me for singing a song from Jesus Christ Superstar. He stopped pushing his hoarder cart to scream at me. Everyone is a critic. 

Quite a bit of the time I listen to podcasts. I have hearing aids and I can bluetooth the podcasts right into my ears. Often though, the road noise is too much, especially with hearing aids on. I have to shut things down until I get off the busy streets. I feel pretty luxurious when I walk. I have a great headlamp that I wear. I dress warmly, and if it’s icy, I wear cleats on my shoes. It is all pretty awesome. I am going to get a noise-canceling headset so I can cut out the road noise and have an even more peaceful, quiet walk. 

I always see cool things on the way to work, so I thought I might share some of those with you. 

Starting the trip, I found this. 

Now, if this were in the neighborhood I work in, it would not be much of a surprise. But, this was really close to home. I have to say, though, the presentation is pretty up-scale - nestled in some leaves and looking rather festive.  

I lived between Maple and Monroe while I was in college, with my friends Lance and Rich. I worked on Monroe Street part time when I was a kid too. My friend Lance’s dad owned S&S Engine Rebuilding and he, quite nicely, gave me some part-time work in high school. So, we were always up and down Monroe. For a while, Lance, Rich and I were into micro-armor war games. There was a place called “The Bunker” over by the courthouse, off of Monroe. It was a geekfest hangout and we would watch the pros wage battle playing ANGRIFF! It was one of those games where you would measure the distance between your opponents' and your little tiny tanks that were displayed in a nicely constructed diorama. You would then roll dice repeatedly to determine whether you were hit and then roll some more to ascertain the damage. If the actual war moved as fast as this game, we would just now, forty years later, be concluding the attack on Pearl Harbor. We played the same game at home but using Legos as set pieces. The real fun was painting our little leaden tanks to prepare for slow battle. We would buy the tiny tanks in the basement of the Bon Marche where there was a toy store. 

I digress. 

On this morning’s walk, I walked and listened to the Desert Oracle podcast. A favorite. There was a writer on this episode who was hawking his book “HIGH WEIRDNESS.” It was about all the wacky things going on during the 1970s. It really resounded with me. I had recently read an article about hope vs. certainty and it seemed to really connect with what some of what the author was talking about. One of his quotes was that the world is a weird place and you can be horrified and live in fear of this weirdness or you can hold it at arm’s length and just observe it and be fascinated by it. When this book makes it to Aunties, I will buy it. I was listening to all of this and thinking how it connected to the article about hope when I saw this sign on Golden Rule Brake Service. 

I love this mural that Hoffman Music has been creating. I was talking the other day with my friends at Spokane Art Supply, right next to old Station 3 about this mural and it just keeps getting better and better. 

Sarah used to live by old Station 3 on Sharp and Monroe. When I was dating her, we would often walk by  the station. This was when I first had the idea of becoming a Spokane City Firefighter. Never in my wildest dreams, did I think that I would ever work at Station 3, the new Station 3, let alone be the captain of the ship. Crazy! Old Station 3 is now the KPBX Public Radio station. Last summer I walked by there and read the plaque on the outside of the building. It sounded familiar. I looked it up and saw that I had written this for them about five years ago. When I wrote it, I wasn’t sure what it was for, but there it  is, my mumbo jumbo on a plaque on the station which eventually led me to this wonderful job and this beautiful commute.

As I continued up Monroe, I had to make a left to head to my workplace and home away from home, the new (over 25-year-old) Station 3. I make my turn west at the new Kalico Kitchen Restaurant. This was the site of the former Monroe Street Grill and before that it was Shari’s. And way before that, it was the Monroe Block which burned down. Kalico Kitchen was packed. YAY! 

I used to worry about this corner. Now, I am just fascinated. 

Weird things happen here a lot, it seems. Twelve or so years ago, we went on a call for an injury from a fight there when it was Shari’s. Some preacher tried to kidnap a cook. He punched a customer in the face who stopped him from the abduction. Then the preacher drove his Corvette across the street to McDonald’s and tried the same thing there. The police boxed him in his car in the McDonald’s parking lot. They put a gun in his face and told him to get out of the car. He then repeatedly rammed the cop car with his Corvette until he made enough room to get away. He destroyed the cop car and wrecked his car pretty good too. The funny thing was that it really wasn’t his car, but one he was test driving! We watched the whole thing unfold. The police put out spike strips, stopped and then tasered him. When we arrived to pull out the taser darts, he had one cowboy boot on and one off sitting on the traffic median, right about Indiana and Washington. In the most booming preacher voice I ever heard, he ordered me to give him water and that if I didn’t I would be cursed to hell. Well, I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t have any water. So, we will see how that goes. 

I have had weird arguments with family members in the Monroe Street Grill when it was later there. When I first came out, I had an old lady give me the evil eye in the lobby. I really hope Kalico Kitchen succeeds there. But, if they don’t, it’s not their fault. If I were the owner, I would hire an exorcist or a shaman right now. Then there was the guy who was shooting his shotgun off just to the west of Shari’s a while back, but that’s another story…

So, I cut from Monroe to Ash, south of Indiana, and then I finally have to cross Ash to get to the station, I cross where the Super C is. The Super C is a wondrous place next to the station. Yes, that is our friend Mary standing there in the picture. She will make it over to the station about an hour later to tell us about  her recent Sasquatch encounters, family disputes and her worries about nuclear warfare and President Trump. I invited her to join us on Thanksgiving at the station for dinner.

Lastly, unbeknownst to us, the owner of the Super C, hired someone to “trim” the station’s shrubs and the trees a couple of weeks ago. When we caught the “pruners” doing so (strangely enough not licensed or bonded), they said they hacked up our shrubs, cut down our tree and were in the process of cutting more trees down because they were “told to do so.” 

But, that’s another story. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Stine Machine!

My buddy Stine has a video blog, a "vlog," or "vibeogl" that is mostly directed toward FTM transgender folks. Manly yes. But, I like it too. I especially like it this week BECAUSE HE INTERVIEWED ME!!! An honor. Thank you Stine!

Stine is also an artist and writer. When we get together, we don't talk very much trans stuff anymore. We mostly talk about projects we are working on. But, for this video, we do talk trans.