Monthly Archives: April 2021

The Canyon from Horseback


The Canyon from Horseback

The young don’t know enough
About being young
They squander youth
And never know ’til later.

Any lad of twelve will testify
An eight-year-old can’t even qualify
To be a child
At eighteen our own ignorance
At fifteen is finally written
In language we comprehend:
We know the score
Reality’s the icing on the cake
Of youthful fantasies;
When the young grow old
They know a lot
About being young
But almost nothing
About being old.

From Poems of the New Old West
Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Ask Old Jules: Pornography, Living in the present, Best philosophy of life, Common sense or genius, Greatest lie ever told

Jack at 24 Camino los Altos

Old Jules, do you believe adult movies are damaging to the mind and souls of humans? I believe adult movies are damaging to social skills and relationships. Do you believe this about pornography?

I believe you believe it. I believe the people participating in such movies voluntarily are in a better position to choose for themselves than you are to choose for them.

How’d you come by your belief? Been there and found yourself damaged in your social skills? Were you a paragon of social skill, then lost it concurrently with having group sex with one or another animal or human, then on the internet for others to admire?

Or are you referring to people watching it? If so, what evidence have you experienced suggesting you’d be more socially acceptable if you didn’t watch so much porn?

Try laying off it a while and see whether it helps.

Old Jules,  if we all lived in the PRESENT NOW and got rid of the concept of time, would life be better? Of course time will still exist because the planets are moving but if we stopped living our life according to time and instead only ever considered the present moment, the now, with no thought or concern for the future at all, just living for the very same moment that we’re all aware of. Would life be better?

The now is a massive object of endeavor even to find. Try chasing your thoughts forward to it. You can’t complete a microscopic piece of a thought in the now. Everything you believe you’re thinking is what you believe you thought in something you define as now, but it happened so quickly you’ve no justification for even believing ‘now’ exists except as an artifact of something in the future.

If you can’t find the now there’s not a chance worth considering you can ‘live’ in it.

Old Jules, what would be the best philosophy of life?

Be exceedingly careful what you know because inevitably the bulk of it won’t be true. Examine where you came by everything you believe you know, every opinion. If it’s hand-me-down, picked up from something someone told you, slip it down a few notches in your ratings and withhold judgement pending further observation. Beliefs and what you believe you know are fences you build around your mind, doors you deliberately close to examination. You can condemn yourself to being surprisingly dense by knowing too much, and it happening to be false.

Delight in your life, make an adventure of it and be grateful for everything.
The good, bad and ugly. It all helps season the soup that will eventually be you.


Old Jules, how is common sense mistaken as being a genius characteristic?

Human individuals almost universally believe they, personally, have common sense along with the ability to recognize a dearth of it in other individuals [who happen to disagree with them on some issue].

The general run of human beings are so far removed from genius they’ve no means of recognizing it, but they hold out the possibility that anyone who shouts their own perception of common sense from the rooftops is probably a genius.

Old Jules, what is the greatest lie ever told?

1] Human beings want peace
2] The Judeo-Christian-Muslim diety is a god of love
3] Christianity is a religion espousing love
4] Human beings ‘have to fight for peace’
5] Governments care about their citizens
6] Politicians are honest
7] The policeman is “your friend”

Take your pick.


Let’s go to war about war

Jack wrote this in August, 2005. I am scheduling this post during the summer of 2020.  I wonder what Jack would have said now about America being a place where people can still express their ideas. 

We’re in a time when a lot of Americans are going to have differing opinions about whether we should be fighting in the war we’re fighting now.  We all came to whatever position we occupy on the issue from different directions.  We’ve arrived in different places.

Beginning any discussion about this war we’re fighting with the inference that people who differ in their opinions are dupes, tools, being used by ‘liberals’, or ‘war mongering conservatives’ isn’t condusive to any discussion at all.

About the only thing America has left of some idealized America of the past is that people can still express their ideas, mostly without fear of being arrested or mobbed.

I’m planning to continue expressing mine without calling any names, without implying anyone’s a fool for holding a differing opinion.

There’s no moral high-ground to be attained by any of us for waving our past military experience around, the friends and relatives we lost in some forgotten war.

That one’s already behind us.

We can learn from the divisiveness it caused in this country, if we’re lucky, and leave the airwaves open for differing opinions without rancor.


Ruidoso Steak-House

Ruidoso Steak-House

Glanced at her reflection
In the plate-glass window
New squash-blossom turquoise
Sassy Stetson
Patted 50ish blonde curls
And wished
They’d eaten at the casino

Valley of the Mountain Gods

Where this didn’t happen
Wrinkled pretty nose

“Don’t give him anything
He’ll just get drunk!”

Stage whispered
To her Houston lady friend
As though he wasn’t there

She was right of course
Except the old man Mescalero
Was already drunk

He turned away
Then turned back and mumbled

“Sing the Song of Life each day
Or when the time arrives you won’t know how
To sing the Song of Death.”

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Communication With the Deaf

Jack wrote this in August, 2005. I have searched all through these photo files and can’t locate the picture of the bumper sticker (photos didn’t save from the original blog site), but if my memory is correct, it said “Dump Johnson.”

I came across this bumper-sticker among my papers a while back.  It brought back a lot of memories a lot of you probably aren’t old enough to share.

In 1967, the Vietnam War was still cranking up, more body counts every day.  In the streets, the universities, the restaurants, over the evening meals people were arguing over whether we had any business getting our young men killed in Vietnam.  Discussing how to end it.  Trying to understand why we were there at all.

There was no consensus yet, but there was also no forum for communicating to the Johnson Administration the growing dissatisfaction within the population concerning a foreign war with no clear objectives, no consistent strategy, no obvious way of winning, or even ending it.  In those days the citizenry was torn between the desire to support our troops who were fighting, but without the concomitant nuance of supporting a war many believed shouldn’t be.

One of the ways the movement to get the hell out of Vietnam congealed was through empty rhetoric, such as this bumper sticker.

To a limited degree, it worked.  Johnson had enough difficulties as a result of Vietnam to convince him not to run for re-election in 1968.  The Vietnam War became a major issue in the election.

If Lyndon Johnson had listened to the first murmurings of the people, this country would have been saved a lot of heartache, lives, and a piece of history that every president since would prefer to forget, as Lyndon Johnson’s now mostly forgotten in favor of the next guy who actually was impeached (but almost certainly wouldn’t have been if this population hadn’t been so stirred up over Vietnam).

In the absence of any other means of communicating with the deaf, the rhetorical, empty threat of job loss isn’t an altogether useless approach.

The alternative is for the citizenry to wait as quietly as grazing sheep for another endless war to run the full course, until people are throwing bricks and burning cars in the streets in the next step toward communicating with a deaf government.


The legal-money raffle consortia

Jack wrote this in August, 2005:

I used to know a guy named, Mike, down in Socorro.  A man with a lot of ideas.

During the mid-‘90s, about the time the Internet was cranking up big-time, Mike had the idea it would be cool to start an on-line raffle.

Mike had some money lying around.  Just about enough to buy a full-sized Harley, and a large RV.  But he thought he could increase the amount of money he had by taking a risk.  He’d sell raffle tickets online for a Harley and a large RV without buying them until someone won the raffle.  If he didn’t sell enough tickets, he’d make up the difference with his savings.  But if he did sell enough tickets, he’d give away the Harley and RV, and pocket whatever extra came in.

It turns out raffles are illegal at almost any level, though the cops and prosecutors look the other way if they feel the cause is a good one, or if it’s just small potatoes.  But item one for Mike turned out to be that if he went online he’d be almost certain to be prosecuted.

Item 2, was the fact he was, in effect, proposing to raffle a motorcycle and an RV that didn’t exist.  The fact he didn’t own them yet compounded the felony he would be committing.

Now what Mike was proposing to do was precisely what lotteries do, as Todd’s pointed out repeatedly, routinely.  Raffling off something that doesn’t exist…. Money that they plan on earning as interest.

But, of course, when a government sanctioned, or government owned administrative entity commits an act that rhymes with something that would be a felony if an individual behaved identically, all’s well with the world.

Unless they happen to have a lot of attention focused on their behavior, as happened in Texas recently.

Similarly, I used to know a guy named Dan, who had a lot of cash lying around doing nothing.  He dreamed up an online something he called a ‘money club’, or ‘money pool’.  Members, Dan dreamed, would pay $5 per month into the pool.  Every month the total proceeds, minus 10 percent (to Dan as operational and administrative fees) would be handed out to some lucky member by a process known as Random Number Generator…. Something nearly identical to what’s being done by lotteries.  Except it would be private enterprise….. private sector.

Dan figured the payout percentages would be so much better, the odds so much better than any lottery that it would cause players to flock to him.  He might have been right.

But there was naturally a catch.  What he was proposing was and is a herd of felonies at almost every level of jurisdiction.  Even though what he proposed was a lot better for the players involved, than the competition (the government and the various legally recognized mob) could (read ‘would’) offer.

So neither of these ideas ever came to fruition, though each represented the cleaned up versions of corrupted first-cousins we all accept as normal in the lottery systems.

It’s surprising sometimes to see people who claim to believe in free enterprise so blindly support any government monopoly.


Ask Old Jules: A full life, second-hand knowledge, meaning of life, destiny/serendipity, feelings/knowledge, MacArthur quote

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules, do you feel you just exist or live a full life?
What is the difference? Can we kick the ‘just existing’ into a full life? What can be the barriers? Is our ‘lot in life’ just that, what we have and no more?

The problem is the process of trying to swim your thinking upstream far enough to discover the ‘present’ or ‘now’ doesn’t exist. That’s the main barrier, hidden in the boundary between the past and the future [think of it as non-linear, but a landscape bounded by something akin to a rift between two tectonic plates]

Once you come to understand that everything you are is squirting through that barrier and drifting over into the past you can begin to examine the tunnels and possibly the facets you can manipulate and those you can’t within the context of the traps, snags, mazes and pitfalls the Coincidence Coordinators will throw into your path.

Tough gig, but it’s definitely the only way.

Old Jules, what are the problems of second hand knowledge?

Experiencing something yourself is entirely different than hearing or reading about it, I’d say.
There’s no such thing as second-hand knowledge. There’s so much opinion, theory, wisdom, rock-hard certainty floating around, much of it mutually exclusive, anything can sail under the flag of knowledge and get by with it.
The only hope a person might have for knowing anything involves treating second-hand knowledge as places to examine without any biases in favor of, or against, and tippy-toeing through like a field of cactus, being careful not to let anything stick to you without you knowing it.

Old Jules, how can really understand the true meaning of LIFE?

Abandon everything you believe you know, open your eyes and allow yourself to observe what’s going on around you. Disbelieve what anyone tells you and observe, try to make some sense of what you observe.

In a few years you’ll have a lot clearer notion about it all without all the heterodyne of human chatter cluttering up your thinking.

Old Jules, in your opinion/experience: Is finding ‘the one’ destiny or serendipity?

Serendipity. Human destinies tend to be individually of such microscopic significance viewed from a distance in time or geography as to render ‘destiny’ an absurdity of overstatement.

Old Jules, do feelings give us knowledge if not why? u know wen we see something bad we have a bad feeling etc, do feeling like anger or sadness give us the same knowledge as the feelings wen we see something bad? if not why?

Feelings experienced give us knowledge about how feelings feel and not much else. They certainly teach us nothing about spelling, grammar, or refining our notions about ‘bad’ and ‘good’.

Old Jules could you tell me why this quote is meaningful? I would like to know what this quote means to you. If it is motivational at all.
“We are not retreating- we are advancing in a different direction.”
-Gen. Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

It means ‘Dugout Doug’, as he was known to the troops he abandoned when the Japanese took Manila, didn’t care to admit defeat. His inspiring declaration, “I shall return!” when he escaped by submarine probably looked good in print and didn’t harm those he left behind for the Bataan death march.


The Last Gold Rush

Backup cd

Jack wrote this in August, 2005:

Probably some of you younger blog readers aren’t aware that pre-lottery Americans had their own dreams of finding a way out of the monetary strait-jackets.  Around the turn of the last century thousands of men with guts and a shared dream rushed to Alaska following the discovery of gold in the Yukon.  During the 1920s and ’30s they rushed to Oklahoma and Texas in a rags to riches (for a few) wildcatting-for-oil frenzy.

Mostly the minerals became a lot more difficult to locate, prices of gold and silver declined, and major consortiums  bought up the most promising oil leases.  The dreams didn’t die, but the tools for making those dreams come true became a lot more cunning and elusive.

During the early 1950s, however, the US decided there were a lot of places that still needed bombing.  They’d whetted their appetites on New Mexico, Japan and some islands in the Pacific, but there were places in Nevada that were crying to have a hydrogen bomb or two set off on them, and the potential for bombing the bejesus out of a lot of Russians seemed to be a good bet.

The US needed uranium for a generation of nuclear weapons, and nobody’d yet paid much mind to where it might be located.

Uranium was the new gold.  Find it, file a claim, you’re a wealthy man, came the news.

The two men in this picture, along with thousands of other Americans, responded to the call, were preparing to do so while they posed for this photo.  They’d bought a WWII jeep, loaded it with WWII surplus gear, Geiger-counters, picks, shovels, and soon afterward headed off into the wilds of northern NM and Utah for several months.

By the time they returned to their hard-scrabbled farms in Eastern New Mexico, the world knew there’s plenty of uranium, no problem, no major value.

But, they had an adventure, my granddad and Charlie Nelson.  They were part of the last gold rush.  They had the courage to follow a dream while Americans still allowed themselves to dream.




JackCDbackupJune03 629

Jack wrote this in August, 2005:

Ceiling and visibility unlimited. The Federal Aviation Administration weather guessers invented this one, methinks.  You call in for in-route weather reports, they tell you CAVU all the way to your destination…. You listen to the winds aloft, find you have a 20 knot tail-wind at 8000 MSL.

You smile to yourself, wrap it all up into the same package with the CAVU, taxi down to the end of the strip.  Run up.  Left mag, right mag, carb heat, everything A-OK.  Lock the left toe-brake and examine those beautiful empty skies for aircraft.  Nuthun but pure clear altitude up there.

Straight down the tube, lock the toe brakes, full throttle, full RPMs, release the toe brakes… roll, bring up the tail… roll, feel her  trying to fly… lift the nose you’re free.

That’s how it all begins.  You allow yourself to believe it’s true.

Yeah, I’m a top-hand.  I have a handle on things.  I’m what they call a real neat guy.

That’s your most vulnerable moment.  That’s the time in this life, you, me, savoring the sweetness of knowing we are just the smartest, coolest, most absolutely scintillating critters that ever came down the pike, that’s when we close our eyes.

Maybe it will get us into trouble, but often enough it doesn’t so’s to let us get into a habit.  The universe has lots of time, and an unplanned, hard landing isn’t the only penalty for self-imposed blindness.  Probably that isn’t even the worst penalty over the long haul.



Morning gratitude affirmations

Jack wrote this in April, 2005:

Hokay.  I try to think of five particularly communistic things going on in my life every morning, every evening, during the day, to find reasons for being grateful for.  It’s a ritual I try to practice constantly, but if I begin the day with it, it’s a lot easier to remember for the rest of the day.


I’m going to let the lottery numbers on the PB draw last night be my first, even though it’s really easy.  Those numbers did good and I have a lot of good feeling about what hit last night.  It’s cheating, but I’m going to be grateful for that anyway.

Hokay.  Number two.  It snowed last night.  Everything was budded out, and it damned well snowed.  Maybe you think I’m not grateful, but I am.  If the frost gets those buds for a third time there ain’t going to be any apples, apricots, grapes, pecans, but there’s always another year, and we need the moisture, probably more than we need the fruit this year.  It’s been a long drought and the moisture deficit isn’t entirely made up, even with all the rain and snow this winter.  Yeah.  I’m grateful.  Yes, I am.  I can feel it, reluctant, squirming, fighting every inch of the way, but grateful is emerging.

Number 3.  Tres.  I’m grateful for these affirmations.  That’s an easy one too, cheating, but they’ve had an enormous influence on my life for the past decade, and sometimes I forget to be grateful for knowing how good they are for me.  And besides, it fills a slot, allowing me not to have to confide to you what some of the ‘really communist’ troubles I’m going to have to be grateful for before I get past these affirmations in my private mind, this morning.  But those are none of your business, so I’m going to try to keep this clean and well lighted.

Number 4.  Quatro.  Lessee.  A cat just took a dump on the rug over there across the room.  Knows better than that, but did it anyway.  It means, hopefully, that the cat was communicating to me the litter box is getting too full.  I’m grateful that cat reminded me of my neglect.  I haven’t cleaned it up, but when I do I will examine the stool and make certain the cat wasn’t telling me something else, something more important.  I’m grateful a cat will tell a person willing to listen what’s going on with it, what sort of health problems might be hidden there in that pea brain, wanting to come out but not knowing how.

Number 5:  Half an hour after daybreak and the wind’s coming back up outside.  I’m grateful for that wind, that howling and clattering of things loose on the porch, the rabid windchimes, the cold air whistling in around the old wooden frames of the windows.

Maybe you think I’m not grateful for that wind, but I am.  Here’s why.

Hmmmmm.  Hmmmmmm.  I am.  Just give me a minute here.

Ahhhh..  I’m grateful for that wind because it’s going to melt the snow quickly.  Maybe even soon enough to save the blossoms and buds.  Maybe that old wind will just evaporate enough of the snow, good old wind, temperature 37 degrees F, maybe it will have all that snow gone in no time at all and the new grapevines won’t lose their buds, the apples will be okay.

A lot of people mightn’t be grateful for that wind howling to blue blazes out there, me sipping my coffee here, typing, feeling the cold air on my bare ankles, but I am.  Yes, I am.