Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Monday, August 31, 2015

She Hailed From Lancashire

Her name was Paran. 

She told me it was a Biblical name that meant beautiful. Not being much of a Biblical scholar I had no idea if what she said was true or not. However, she was indeed a beautiful woman and probably one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the good fortune to meet while waiting in line to purchase tickets for a movie.

After about four months though the game of oneupmanship that we somehow had fallen into had worn thin, especially when it came to our twice weekly Scrabble game, and we parted company.

I still maintain that "Cowan" is a name, not a word.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


He was always a bit secretive and surreptitious in his manner, but most people attributed that to shyness.

Everyone who met him initially regarded him as an affable, likable sort, but after awhile, when the realization was made that he was far from shy, began to regard him with suspicion.

He seldom talked about his past and not even those closest to him knew if he had any living relatives. When he spoke of family he always referred to them, whether it was his mother or father, sisters or brothers, in a past tense, as if they had all met an untimely end and it was a topic he was not comfortable discussing,

Not one person who had made his acquaintance had ever imagined the truth of his nature and no one had even come close to guessing who and what he really was.

And until the day when the hordes of men and women from twelve different government agencies showed up looking for him, not one of the people who had came to know him since he had moved into the neighborhood almost six years ago would have thought for a second that he was capable of violence.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Challenge Of Keeping On Keeping On

I'm going to venture a guess that not one person in the history of mankind has ever sat down and mapped out a plan for failure.

Most, if not all people who have ever made plans of any type have done so with the intention of succeeding. However, to grossly paraphrase Robert Burns, mice and men have frequently made plans that they never asked for input on or prepared for unexpected setbacks or detours with, resulting in failure.

Failure, of course, does not mean the end of one's ambitions. It can be used as a very effective learning tool, but it requires a bit of perseverance, and a mindset that allows one to learn from failure. Most successful people seem to have that. They experience a failure or two while implementing their plans, but instead of letting failure knock them off the bicycle forever, they regroup and re-plan, then continue to work towards their goals.

Yes, I know that it is easy to write the aforementioned, but quite another to put it in practice. Failure can be devastating - I know, as I have failed on numerous occasions and have had to rethink my plans again and again as a result.

There have been times when the thought of giving up completely has entered my mind, when I have felt the weight of failure so heavy it seemed it would break me. Somehow, someway, I eventually got back on track and either continued pursuing my plan after working out where I erred, or rethought my course of action and made whatever changes were necessary to allow me to continue pursuing my ambitions.

Over the years I have learned the truth behind the old adage, "Try, try again." It doesn't simply mean get back on your feet when you get knocked down, it means regroup, rethink, re-strategize, and if all of that means you have to retreat for awhile, then so be it - but never stop thinking about what you need to do to achieve your goals, never stop dreaming of the day when you will finally accomplish whatever it is you're trying to do, and eventually you will try again.

Perseverance. That's the key. Sit down and figure out what you want to do with your life, or with the next ten years, or even with the next week, then draw up a map that has a clearly marked out path that will get you where you want to be. And then persevere in following that plan, regardless of how often you are stalled by failure. 

Perseverance is the key, that and learning from your failures and applying the lessons. A little luck never hurt either, but mostly what you need is perseverance.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fire Beneath A Full Moon

Sitting around a firepit on a nearly full-moon night is one of life's simple joys that never seems to get tiresome. Fire, while fearsome in its destructive abilities, has been one of mankind's greatest allies, serving to ward off predators, provide warmth and light, as well as a means of preparing food. Sitting around a firepit with others creates a strong sense of security, which in turn makes it easy to relax. For millennia humans have gathered around fires and socialized, sharing food & drink along with witty anecdotes and scary stories, On thousands upon thousands of cool late summer nights similar to tonight, people have bonded with one another through the shared catharsis of feeling safe and at ease that comes with sitting around a fire, roaring or not.

And if you have the makings for S'mores, all the better.

Takin' 'Bout That Degeneration

He told me he was born almost nine months to the day when his father returned from Europe following the end of WWII. I looked at him intently, amazed at how youthful he appeared and acted for a man who had to be seventy, or close to it. 

Without invitation or encouragement he told me and the bartender, his sole audience in the bar, about his life as a young man on a small farm in Solomon, Kansas, a barely-there town a few miles west of Abilene. 

To listen to him talk, life in rural Kansas in the fifties and sixties was idyllic. Solomon was a town full of hardworking, God-fearing, humble yet proud, strongly independent-yet-always-willing-to-lend-a-neighbor-a-hand types with a decidedly progressive bent.

The progressive bent part he explained, was part of the cultural heritage - the town's early settlers were Protestant immigrants from Northeastern Europe, and they had brought with them a belief that not only were all men equal in God's eyes, but that all God's were equal in all men's eyes - except, he said, the God of the Catholics - apparently, the Catholic God did not pass muster.

He told us that it wasn't until he was 17 that he had ventured further from his hometown than the slightly larger town of Abilene. He and a friend had driven out to Junction City after school was out for the summer to see about getting jobs at the sight of a new reservoir being built, Milford Lake.

The two of them found jobs with a contractor who was demolishing a town that was going to be flooded once the reservoir was filled. He said the work was hard, but paid well, and he hoped to earn enough money that summer to buy himself a truck, as the only vehicle available to him was the farm truck his Dad drove.

With a somewhat melodramatic air he recounted how the demolition crew spent their days tearing down dilapidated homes and buildings and stripping them of old pipes - they didn't know if any of the buildings had lead pipes in them, but the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers who were in charge of the project, were not going to fill a reservoir that had a bunch of 100 year-old houses sitting in the deepest area of the basin with potentially lead pipes in them, so every building had to be torn down and every pipe had to be removed and hauled off to a scrap yard.

Then he told us of an incident that he said changed the course of his life. Fridays were payday, and it had become a usual routine for him and his friend to drive to a bar in Junction City that catered to the young enlisted men stationed at nearby Fort Riley. The jukebox played a lot of Rock'n' Roll, which most of the older men on the crew hated, and there were always a lot of girls there. As he and his friend kept their hair cut high and tight and most of the enlisted men wore civvies off base, they blended right in.

One Friday in early August they were sitting in the bar nursing beers when a group of young soldiers walked in and sat at a table that was close enough to theirs to allow them to easily overhear the conversation between the men.

The Army soldiers were solemn and spoke in quiet, serious tones. The group of men, said the old man, had all just returned from Vietnam, and had gathered at the bar to remember fallen comrades and drink to their memory. 

Sitting there in that bar and counting the number of fallen comrades that the group toasted had the effect of convincing the old man that he needed to enlist - in the U.S. Navy. He did not want to risk getting drafted and having to serve two years as a combat infantryman in the jungles of Southeast Asia. 

He said it was four days after he graduated from high school that he drove with his father all the way to Omaha to join the Navy. He had hopes of seeing the world, and that is exactly what he did - with the exception of Vietnam. The closest he ever got to Vietnam was the Philippines. 

He had tested high for mechanical aptitude, so Uncle Sam had sent him to school to learn how to maintain the engines that powered ships. His first enlistment was originally four years, but the Navy kept him on for another year and offered various incentives to re-up for even longer. Five years was all he could handle though, and he figured he had seen enough of the world.

So in late 1969, after being discharged and returning to civilian life following his five-year hitch, he had gone back to the small town of Solomon, Kansas with the intention of marrying his high school sweetheart and taking over the family farm.

Only problem was, he told us, his high school sweetheart, who he had visited at length three times on leave and had been writing regularly for the entire five years he was gone, and who had replied to every letter he had sent with letters of her own, had failed to mention that she had gotten pregnant by a friend of his not long after his last visit with her on leave just a year ago and had married said friend and gave birth to a baby girl.

There was a distinct sadness to his countenance and in his voice as he told us about that part of his life, but then he brightened up and told us that it had all worked out for the best however, as that motivated him to leave the small town life behind and make his way to Denver, where he eventually opened up a truck stop, met the beautiful woman who eventually became his wife, had three wonderful kids with her and saw all of them graduate from college.

He said that with conviction and enthusiasm, but there was something about his demeanor that hinted at a little bit of remorse for a love lost. Whether it was for the high school sweetheart or the small town life, it was apparent that he still thought longingly of a past he left behind when he came to Denver.

It's my belief that anyone who uproots themselves to make a life somewhere other than where they were raised experiences that sentiment eventually. I know I have, and I went to great lengths to put that sentiment to bed. As I sat at the bar looking over at the old man I wondered if he would ever truly make peace with his past, or if he would continue to long for the romanticized version of his youth. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Twenty First Century Radical

The sheep all stood in line to be sheared
In hopes of becoming wolves
One by one they asked for elaborate designs
To be carved into their remaining wool
Mohaks, fades, short, asymmetric, geometric
Something well defined that spoke of confidence
Something that said "I'm a unique individual"
Just like the one on that celebrity in the glossy magazine

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sirens In The Afternoon

Came home from work Saturday night to the smell of something burning in the air. I thought it could be attributed to the haze from the west coast wildfires that has been hanging over Denver the past few days (yep, that smoke has made it 1,300 miles east and still moving), but then realized that couldn't be, as I would have noticed the smell if it was from the wildfire related haze a least two days ago.

Seeing nothing that could explain the smell of a fire when I drove through the neighborhood to my house, I mentally chalked it up to someone having a backyard get together that included a firepit, though it was a bit warm out for that - must have been in the mid-'80's still when I pulled into my driveway.

This morning I drove up to the King Soopers on Florida and Kipling to get some coffee, and when I got out of the car I noticed the faint smell of an extinguished fire in the air - that smell of a campfire that has had a pot of water thrown on it but is still somewhat smoldering. 

As I was in line checking out I commented to the clerk behind the register on the fire/burn smell and she told me that was probably from the house up the street that was set on fire during a domestic dispute yesterday. I asked if anyone had been hurt because of it and she said that she hadn't heard about anyone being hurt, but that a man had been arrested at the scene.

I couldn't go check it out then as I was a bit pressed for time, but I figured I could stop by the scene of the fire after work.

These two pics are of the house, and as you can see it was a fairly big fire that caused quite a bit of damage. All because of a domestic dispute - wonder if the guy got caught on that Ashley Madison website.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cool As A Classic Thunderbird Convertible

Someone is setting off fireworks
On the twenty-second of August
And not those little annoying cap-gun pissers
But M-80's and Flaming Fountains and Chinese Whizzers

Getting every dog in the neighborhood all riled up
A cacophonous symphony of barks and howls
Boom! Boom! Boom! The dogs are starting to riot
Is it too much to ask for a little peace and quiet?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

His Life Had Ended On That Day As Well

He had everything he owned in a small green gunny sack
Upon his release from prison he'd been given it back
 As he walked along the street he contemplated suicide
Maybe he would end it by all laying down on a railroad track
Then they would have to find a new failure to crucify

He felt like an actor in a play that nobody would pay to see
It had been a long time since he had felt anything but misery
A long time ago in a place he could vaguely recall
Life was grand
Life was a dream
Nothing could ever go wrong
Nothing would ever change
Now all he had left of that life were bitter memories
Of how a fairy tale life became just another tragedy

Despite his best efforts the events of that fateful night
Played themselves out in his ever-grieving mind
The screeching brakes, the crunching metal, the bright light
When they cut him out of the car he thought he was blind
But it was just dried blood from his wounds blocking his sight

Strapped down to a gurney and hustled into an ambulance
He heard voices speaking of the couple in the other car
They had been coming home from a high school dance
He had just left his favorite bar
The crash happened seconds later, he hadn't driven far

The officers who showed up at the hospital stood grimly stoic
This was not a part of the job they considered heroic
The younger one handed him back his wallet
The older one said
They had some difficult news
 The couple in the car he'd hit
Wasn't going to pull through
His mind refused to hear the words, he couldn't get a grip
The room spun violently, he felt dizzy, he felt sick

The trial was unbearable, a courtroom full of despair
The young girls parents both looked dead inside
His own parents could not find the strength to be there
It had only been a few months since their youngest had died
They couldn't bear the trial of the son who had taken his life

Learn How To Duck

Random things come at you from all directions, best to develop quick reflexes, learn how to dodge and duck

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Far More Than Just Another Brick In The Wall

Colorado is home to some extremely skilled masons. There are several buildings in the area in which I live that feature some fairly unusual brickwork - I should probably take some pictures of a few of the more unusual examples and post them here, but for now what I have to share is some of the most extraordinary brickwork I have ever seen.

The building these walls belong to is in Littleton, on West Dry Creek Circle. It is the home of LoneTree Energy, and it is a piece of art.

There is no accreditation for the craftsmen who built these walls, but there should be. The abstract bas-relief sculptures that pop out of the wall nearest the entrance to the building were created with the same simple bricks that ordinarily are used to build boring brick walls.

This wall has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The bricks are shaped in such a way that they appear to have grown out of the wall into fully formed sculpture. 

What is truly amazing is the fact that this building cannot be seen from the major road that runs past it, Broadway. A person has to drive about 500 feet west of Broadway along West Dry Creek Circle to see it, which tells me that this brickwork wasn't done as a means of drawing attention to the building, it was created as a means of infusing what would have otherwise been another dull office building with a little elan, a little life.

And I for one love that.

Monday, August 17, 2015

No Thanks, I'd Rather Not

Laboring From Dawn 'Til Dusk

Work Ethic. Some people have it, some people don't. But why? What imbues in some people the desire to work, work hard, work efficiently, work consistently, work until what needs to get done gets done?

On the other end of the spectrum, what is it that causes some people to have no or very little desire to work? Why do some people consistently seek shortcuts or the easiest way to do something, even if those shortcuts or easier ways mean an inferior or unacceptable final result of their endeavors?

This is a subject that intrigues me simply due to the wide variety of interpretations and opinions of the value of having a good work ethic I have encountered over the course of my adult life.

There have been many people who have shared with me their negative views of a work ethic being considered something of value, invariably with the opinion that the whole concept of having a good work ethic was the creation of the owners of property and/or capital in order to get the most from the laborers they employed.

Which is a odd idea to me, as it completely and illogically ignores those individuals who work consistently hard at developing talents or abilities that are singularly self-serving, such as artists, writers, musicians, athletes, scientists, etc. - none of those people get paid much, if at all, for the thousands of hours they work to hone their craft, learn to play a musical instrument, develop their physical abilities to their fullest, etc. Their work ethic, their devotion to being the best they can possibly be despite the risk of never making a dime from their efforts, contradicts directly the belief that the concept of a work ethic was a synthetic creation by a ruling class of any sort.

Then there are the people who have shared with me their positive views of a work ethic's value. They invariably use themselves as examples of what can be made of one's life if one has a good work ethic. I must admit, I've never met anyone who made a statement like that and who actually exemplified a good work ethic that wasn't fairly successful at just about everything they set out to do.

But those views of the value of a work ethic have never really answered the question of how one goes about developing or not developing a work ethic. Is it part of a person's genetic make up, an inheritable trait? Is it a result of the environment one was reared in? Does it have anything to do with self-esteem or self-worth? Or is it just the luck of the draw?

Can a person actually develop a work ethic? Is it possible to teach a work ethic? Would it be possible to take someone with a poor work ethic, say any of the hundreds of perfectly healthy (mentally and physically) homeless people manning just about every intersection, off ramp, and public gathering spot in the Denver metro area and teach them to work hard at something other than holding a sign in one hand and holding the other out for whatever they can get?

This is probably one of those questions I'm going to have to spend a lot more time and effort on in order to find an answer - it might even be one of those mysteries of the human condition that is unanswerable.

I'll just have to work on it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Goin' Down To The Rock/Blues Show

Even if it means going to supreme


Sometimes you just have to follow your dreams

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Old "My Car Broke Down And I Need To Get My Sick Child Home" Scam

A Scamalamadingdong walked into the store today. He walked in innocently enough, approaching a member of our staff with two request. One, he asked if he could refill three small empty water bottles he had, as he had kids outside in his car that needed water, and two, he asked if he could use a phone as his cell phone did not have any bars and he needed to call a taxi, as the car the kids were sitting in was broken down.

So the kind woman who he approached showed him where our bottled water dispenser was, and he dutifully filled up the three water bottles. When he was done, he brought the bottles up to the reception desk and set them down, and asked our receptionist about using a phone (our receptionist being a completely different woman than the one he initially approached).

He was taken to a phone over by the design center, where the first woman he approached walked up to him with a printout of 10 different Denver area taxi companies and their phone numbers that she had retrieved from the Internet.

He took the list from her, and just as she was explaining the dial 9 to get an outside line procedure, he suddenly looked at his phone and exclaimed that he had bars now, and he could just use his cell phone. He proceeded to sit on a stool at one of the design center work stations and go through the motions of placing a call.

Where he was sitting was in the proximity of four other women - two of our designers and the two clients they were working with. When he apparently got an answer from the first number he called, he spoke loudly into his phone with the following dialogue (It's not verbatim, as I don't have that sharp a memory, and I only heard him say it on his fourth call, but it's close):

"Hi, My car broke down near the Park Meadows mall and I had just picked up my young son from SkyRidge Hospital and I need a cab to come pick us up and take us to Brighton. Can you tell me how much that would cost?" Short pause as he appears to be waiting for an answer, then he replies (again, loudly), "$74.00? I had to pay for my sons medication at the Pharmacy with cash, and I am about $40.00 short of that. Can you call my Mother and accept a credit card payment from her for the rest of it?" Another short pause while he appears once again to be waiting for an answer, then "No? Okay, thank you I am going to try another cab company." 

Which he proceeded to do, or at least he appeared to proceed to do just that. He went through the motions of reading down the list of cab companies that he was provided with, and calling them - well, the first four - and repeating loudly the exact same dialogue to all four of them, each time emphasizing that he was about $40.00 short of the fare and needed his Mother to be called to make up the shortfall with a credit card.

To be clear, most of what you've just read was told to me secondhand, as again, I only witnessed the fourth of the four calls he appeared to be making. It was only after one of the staff came over to me and explained what was going on and asked if I would walk over to the design center and just make my presence known that I got a look at the guy and heard his spiel.

I waited not to far from him as he went through his whole routine with the phone call, then walked up to him and said, "You need a ride to Brighton with your son? I'll take you."

I was told later that his facial expression had changed dramatically when he first caught sight of me walking into the design center (Up until then he had not seen any men in the store, only the women and their clients, who were all women as well) - apparently he went from a doe-eyed wounded and forlorn look to an agitated/irritated look the second he saw me. 

His reaction when I offered to give him and his son a ride was classic. He stammered a bit at first, saying it was a long way, all the way up to Brighton (which I heard him say into his phone, and was what first turned my suspicions he was trying to scam some cash from a few of what I'm sure he considered soft marks into a conviction that he was indeed a scammer - Brighton is at least a $100.00 cab fare from Park Meadows, if not considerably more).

After I assured him it was no big deal as we had a store near there that I could spend the rest of the day at, he then asked me if I would have room for him, his son in a car seat, two other small children who were also in car seats, and two other adults - along with a large medical device that would have to be next to his son for the drive.

I told him I had a large SUV, and that everyone would be able to fit comfortably, as would the unspecified medical device. I even drew him a picture of how we would all fit comfortably in the  SUV.

He was obviously confounded by the offer, and didn't know quite what to say. I again assured him it wasn't an inconvenience for me at all, and that it would be my good deed for the week, joking that it might be the one good deed that allows me to weasel my way into heaven.

He stared at me and said that he really appreciated the offer, but it would take him at least an hour to get everybody together. He would be back if I was really serious about giving them all a ride. I told him I was, and he then walked out of the store. 

When he was gone I walked over to the reception area where everyone proceeded to tell me about what they had observed, and also that he apparently had walked into the store fifteen minutes earlier and had quickly walked through and then out.

So, apparently he had scouted out the mark beforehand - this guy was no amateur.

He had also left the three bottles of water on the reception counter, and one of the staff commented that had to mean he was going to be back. To which I said that if he did come back, I would gladly fulfill my promise to drive him up to Brighton, but that I was nearly 100% sure we would never see him again as I was also nearly 100% sure he knew I was on to him.

He left the store at 1:00 in the afternoon saying he would be back in an hour. I closed the store at 8:00 in the evening. His three bottles of water were still on the reception counter waiting for his return. 

Looks Are Everything

She looked at him as if he was the last of the last resorts
He looked at her like a lost dog looking for his home

Their paths crossed in the middle of the afternoon

Now she looks at him as if he was always the first choice
And he looks at her like a poor man looks at a Rolls Royce

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Pink Eye

                                                        Allergic Conjunctivitis

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

There Is A Lot To Fret Over, Sometimes

Too many parents trying to ensure their children lead lives free from harm, free from what they determine to be bad influences, free from hostility or aggression...condemn themselves and their children to lives of misery.

Children need to be aware of the real world, need to experience every facet of life - be exposed to the good and the bad. Need to learn to accept and respect the yin and yang of...everything.

I have witnessed the results of a sheltered childhood. Not very pretty.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Hard Case

He was sitting on a ratty barstool, his shoulders hunched over as if they were weighed down by the heaviest cloak of misery history has ever known. From time to time he would nod his head, keeping the rhythm of a song only he was privy to. 

After a short while he looked up from the bar and over at the bartender, who walked towards him and asked if he wanted another. He thought about it for a few seconds and said, "Not one of these, I want a beer. What do you have on tap?"

The bartender, an older woman with a stern posture but an angels face turned towards the row of taps sticking out from the wall and called out the names of all ten brews - 2 stouts, 5 lagers, 2 IPAs and a hard cider.

He gazed past the bartender at the taps intently, and with his right hand pointed to one of the stouts. "I'll try the oatmeal stout." He said it slowly, as if he wasn't all that sure of his decision

"Coming right up" the bartender quipped while grabbing a frosted mug from the cooler. The bartender's pour was practiced to perfection and the beer was in front of the man with the world weary appearance in less than a minute.

The beer sat untouched in front of him for a good five minutes. His face was hanging down all the while, and for a moment I thought he must have passed out in that position. But then he reached out and grabbed the beer, brought it up to his mouth and in one long, loud chug, downed the entire pint. He set the empty glass on the bar and got up off the barstool and with a nod to the bartender said, "Be right back, gotta pee. I'll have another of those."

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Holy Freakin' Ferruginous Hawk!

I saw something this morning on my drive into work that I had only previously seen on one of those nature channel shows.

While I was stopped at an intersection I caught sight of a small bunny on a grassy median to my right hopping around some low shrubs, and just as I was thinking to myself "Awww...look at the cute baby bunny," a large hawk swooped down and grabbed the bunny in its talons and flew away with it.

The sequence of events happened so fast I could hardly believe what I had seen. I looked to my left and the driver of the car next to me was sporting the same dumbfounded and astonished look on his face as I was. We glanced at each other with raised eyebrows and looks that seemed to convey "Wow, nature is a bitch."

By then the cars behind us were both honking their horns to get us moving, so it was a pretty short shared cosmic moment.

Wild though.

Friday, August 7, 2015

If The World Were Handing Out Refunds

      There was a woman
      A long, long time ago
      Who I thought moved my world
                But it wasn't her moving my world
                It was just living in California
                Where the world moves of it's own accord
Couldn't see that clearly then
Couldn't see the forest for the reality
That was growing up all around me
                     Time and mistakes make for experience
                     And experience is the greatest teacher
                     The trick is surviving the mistakes


What Would Freud Have Made Of Monster Trucks?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Like Jimmy Page Backstage Listening To Randy California

Every so often I see or read something that makes me think, "Huh, I could probably do that in my sleep, wouldn't even have to work at it." 

However, a few minutes later I usually find myself thinking, "Naw, would be just copying someone else's creativity - not much originality in that."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Meanwhile, On The Exterior Of A Thrift Shop In Lakewood Colorado...

Recently, the Mountain View Thrift Store on Pierce (just north of Alameda) in Lakewood allowed a number of local graffiti artists to go to town on the exterior walls of their building (which has been sorely in need of a few coats of paint for over a decade now).

Here are the results of the graffiti artists' efforts.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ice Cream Sunday

I like ice cream, especially fresh, handmade ice cream.

Sunday, after a delicious Dim Sum brunch at Super Star Asian that Marv had organized as a send-off to visitors Amy & Nada (as well as Elle, who technically was visiting, but she is not a visitor - I mean, she still owns her house here) I decided an ice cream treat was called for. 

Super Star Asian is in Denver's China Town along Federal and Alameda, not too far from the Little Man Ice Cream stand on 16th street just before it turns into Tejon (between Boulder and West 30th ave - it's a bit of a confusing area of Denver). I drove about three miles down Federal, turned east on 29th and was there in less than 15 minutes, and that includes the four block walk from where I had to park my car (not a lot of parking in that area of the Lower Highlands neighborhood).

Little Man Ice Cream stand is built in the shape of a giant milk can, which in itself attracts attention. Couple the uniqueness of the building with the tasty ice cream they sell, and it is extremely busy all day (and night - they're open until 1:00 in the morning Fridays and Saturdays, and until midnight the rest of the week). The line for the place is hardly ever less than 150 people deep on the weekends

It is almost impossible for me to stand in line anymore, as it is rare that I believe anything is actually worth waiting in line for. However, that is not the case with Little Man Ice Cream. It is well worth the on-average thirty minutes in line to get some.

The stand sells the same ice cream treats that other ice cream stands do - waffle cones (plain or chocolate dipped), cups and pints, as well as sundaes, malts, floats, etc. 

What no other stand does though is create the wide variety of rotating delicious flavors of ice cream and sorbet that Little Man does. The ice cream is thick, but not like bend-your-spoon frozen thick, and it's creamy, but not like the inconsistent powder-mix-from-a-bag lumpy creamy found in a lot of soft-serve ice cream shops.

The staff is excellent, always happy and smiling despite being constantly busy. They will patiently let you sample as many flavors as you want (though the people waiting in line behind you might not be so patient...) and are generous with the servings. 

I had a scoop of Coconut Almond Fudge with a scoop of Espresso in a rolled (but not dipped) waffle cone. As you can see the cones are fairly big - my hands are not small. 

That was one seriously delicious ice cream treat.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Keep An Eye To The Sky

Had yet another conversation with a UFO enthusiast today. 

Oy Vey but they are a tiresome lot. Well, not all of them - some of them are educated, articulate, reasonable people who know of the Green Bank Theory, have read the works of Tsiolkovsky, Sagan, Shklovskii, and Guth, examined the Drake equation or the Fermi/Hart paradox, and even studied the Condon Report.

Those people usually cite probability factors and argue that there absolutely just has to be intelligent alien beings visiting the earth in spaceships, or at least sending unmanned probes (such as the human race itself has done to the other planets in our solar system) simply based on the size of the known universe, the estimated age of the universe, and the millions (more likely billions) of solar systems that formed around the billions (more likely trillions) of stars that are clustered in the estimated 170 million (or more?) galaxies in the observable universe.

However, the conversations I have had with people who use math as the basis of their argument for UFO's being alien spaceships or probes usually are just good-natured conjecture and lack the almost invective hyperbole or claims of government cover-ups that the person I was speaking with today used to stress his claims of ET's having visited the earth.

That type of UFO enthusiast, that type of person, is the tiresome lot.

It is not my lack of tolerance for conspiracy theorists who use unproven (or even completely unprovable) claims that makes that type of UFO enthusiast tiresome to me, btw. It is something much different.

It is due to the fact that I used to be one of those types of UFO enthusiasts myself.

See, as a young man (pre-teen, from about the age of eight) I became a compulsive reader, and due to the fact that my mother absolutely loved to read the tabloid newspaper known as the National Enquirer, I too read the National Enquirer - this was the National Enquirer of the '70's, before it became a full-on celebrity scandal sheet. Back then it was primarily filled with stories about the occult, unexplained mysteries such as the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, the Abominable Snowman, ESP or other paranormal abilities, and UFO sightings, extraterrestrial contact and alien abductions.

Of course, my mind was still years away from developing any critical thinking capability, so I did not regard those articles as the nonsensical rubbish they were - I took them as literal truth, and became obsessed with learning everything about all of those subjects.

By the time I was 10 I had a library card and I would spend hours in the Skyline Hills Public Library (and later, when my Mom decided I was old enough to ride the bus alone, about the age of 12, at the vast San Diego Public Library on 8th and E streets in downtown San Diego) looking for material that was not just relevant to those subjects, but also supportive. 

At one point I was checking out as many books as was allowed per visit (I think the limit was 6) to read and reread as many times as I could before they were due back. I read everything Erich von Daniken, Charles Berlitz (hell, I still have a book by Charles Berlitz, though it is a Spanish language manual), Frank Edwards, Berthold Schwarz, J. Allen Hynek and even Edgar Cayce ever wrote. 

That interest and belief in the extraterritorial origins of UFO's, and all those other paranormal topics continued throughout my teens, though my obsession with it waned as I became more interested in art, music, and girls.

The change in my thinking occurred when I was 18, about 6 months after I enlisted in the US Air Force. My first duty assignment after basic was to Holloman AFB just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico - not too far from the infamous Roswell, New Mexico.

Not knowing a soul when I first arrived at the base (and being assigned a roommate that was an over-the-top, gung-ho military culture nutter - he subscribed to Soldier of Fortune magazine and incessantly talked about becoming a mercenary and joining up with a group of them in Rhodesia, something I could not identify with in the slightest), I soon found myself at the base library on a daiy basis. It was there that I first encountered a publication that changed my life. 

The base subscribed to local newspapers from a large number of cities and towns from all over the U.S. so that the airmen could stay informed about the areas they were from. The library also carried, as most libraries do, a large collection of magazines that covered a variety of topics.

One fateful afternoon in my second week on the base I was in the library looking over the magazine selection when I caught site of a small periodical - it was the size of an 8 X 10 sheet of paper folded in half, and ran about 25 pages from cover to cover.

It was the Skeptical Inquirer.