Monthly Archives: April 2022

Day of the Lost Souls


Copyright©2003 Jack Purcell

Sky mariners in some other reality probably navigate as old mariners here sounded the nighttime and foggy channel bottoms sampling with buckets to fix their positions by mud color, or sand, or shells. They’d examine the debris in buckets and ponder; arid southwest: almost turquoise. Inland California: grey-blue. Coastal: yellow hazy blue. But that was forty years ago. Maybe the atmosphere has grayed during these decades, the way my own mustache, eyebrows and hair has shifted to bare metal silver.

1964, blue on blue, I tunneled through tints and shades of airy void from the New Mexico desert to arrive in San Francisco several hours ahead of my outbound rendezvous. The old DC3 clubbed the air dizzy and crawled over the unconscious body getting me to the coast. Those blunt wings hammered the molecules of blue air into solid ice to hold man and machine aloft and skim across the bumpy surface.

But we were young in that country. The November 9, 1964, San Francisco Airport Terminal teemed with Peace Corps Volunteers. We milled around the gate awaiting our flight to Hawaii.

Ten more days and I’d be a full 21, a legal man. Full of mature, critical appraisal I skulked the waiting area; studied the rosy cheeks and sunny attitudes; the strapping young adults I knew I’d spend the next piece of my life among. Though some were older than me they were mostly kids.

I watched those youngsters straight-on for a while until they noticed. Then I shifted and gazed covertly at the reflections from the plate glass window/wall of our capsule. Those windows were all that separated us from the din of steel-gray planes and scorching ash-gray runways. Silent planes vanished into the heat waves and hazy yellow blue skies.

I pretended to read my book and scrutinized my soon-to-be-companions out of the corners of my eyes; strained to hear the dribble of their conversations which each seemed to say, “I’m a neat person. I’m worthy of this.” Some, I could surmise, tacitly agreed to allow certain others to be as neat as them.

We were elite, the acceptance letter assured us. Only one of every forty applicants, the letter whispered, were accepted for the intensive preparation to save the poor in hungry backward lands. We were all riding on the bobsled thrill of those flattering words. The resulting fast pulse beat of waiting in the terminal became a political caucus. Probably most of us figured those others were likely to be special, but secretly believed the Peace Corps made a mistake in letting our particular selves in.

The candidates talked films; of Viradiana, of Antonioni, of Fellini and of a Swede who made foreign films in those days. Of Existentialism. Talked about the beatnik poets. All so serious. What’s your major? Where did you get your degree? I pondered the words, scowling to myself.

I could see these mostly weren’t my kind of folks. I’d scraped and cheated to get a high school diploma several years earlier, did three years in the US Army. Hitch-hiked across the country several times, been in jail more than once. Sweated under a blazing sky in dozens of hellish jobs that didn’t carry any prestige in these circles of toy-people. Now we were going off to India to teach the natives how to raise chickens. Bouncing off through rainbow skies bearing the weight of the white man’s burden to teach a culture older than our God how to raise poultry. But we were young in that country,

I felt uncomfortable in my snazzy dark suit with narrow lapels. My only suit. It was the leading edge of fashion when I bought it for $20 a couple of years earlier in Boston. The pencil thin blue tie with gold flecks felt awful on my neck, and worse as I became conscious of the width of ties the others were wearing.

As the morning wore into early afternoon more of the India X Peace Corps trainees filtered into the waiting area from incoming flights, draining the rest of the country of heroes. I hung around alone and tried to guess which of the waiting passengers were trainees, and which were just transients.

I gazed at the women who were obvious volunteers, wondering whether any Peace Corps taboos would stand between me and female companionship during the next few months. I idly checked out the prospects. Most didn’t bear up under a lot of scrutiny. Rules of training could make for a long dry spell, and the fraternity boys were already busy staking out their campsites among the curly haired Goldiloxes of the crew.

Eventually, I noticed a lean, freckle-faced red-headed Irish looking chap hanging around watching, same as I was. He wasn’t mingling with the other selectees much, and he appeared gangling and awkward. I smiled to myself, musing, probably feeling superior. Just as I felt somehow superior to all these fresh-scrubbed college folks off to slum among the huddled masses. Labor, I learned, was his name. Rex Labor. At that moment I watched, listened to, and studied a future friend for life for the first time.

A lady schoolmarm, strangely vacant blue-eyed, lanky, ruddy faced and scarlet haired, from Virginia caught my focus. I heard her tell someone she was an English teacher. Lillie Rogers. Lillie Belle Rogers, I learned later. No raving beauty, but a touch of class, presence, bearing. Straight and tall. I sensed an underlying tinge of bitterness in her manner.

Sometime later it came to mind, a female counterpart to Labor. I didn’t sense that Lillie Belle would be the lady of this group I’d come to know best. I’d have rejected that notion, then. Lillie Belle Rogers. A long, sensuous neck ahead of Nancy Philson and Priscilla Thomas in a dead heat. Women I wouldn’t have picked for myself that day in the San Francisco airport. But in a few weeks, the training gave everyone a chance to show their mettle. Or their fluff. For those three and a few others, it was bare stainless-steel.

The flight to Oahu was long…..I was seated next to a tough blonde named Georgia Grover…..nice humor, vaguely pretty, and I began laying what I hoped was groundwork for later. Foundations for things to come but never came.

When we arrived on the islands I was already feeling a rising alienation from the group. I didn’t like a lot of folks in those days, and I could tell I wasn’t going to like most of these. The chaos leaving the main terminal created visible stress among the Chosen. We had half a mile or so to walk to the Hawaiian Airlines Terminal and the next jump to the big island. No transportation from one terminal to the other for the bags. An early test.

Husky young college gents struggled with their own bags and staggered in macho competition to help the attractive ladies. Mr. and Mrs. Eebie, the elderly retired couple of the group shuffled along behind with the jaded males and less attractive females. The girly girls and ex-twirlers chattered across the tarmac admiring the white man and his burden. Georgia Grover shrugged away the offers of help and shouldered her own bags. Most likely, Lillie Rogers, Priscilla Thomas, and Nancy Philson never had the offer.

Time passed quickly during the next weeks. Four hours a day devoted to language lessons. We built chicken house made from lava rock passed down hand to hand; chopped sugarcane in the fields for the thatched roof. Downed palm trees and built a walking bridge. The remainder of our days were spent in formal exercise, poultry disease classes, and getting inoculations against the diseases of the distant east. I came to know the other trainees, and them, me. I found a few worthy of respect.

Somehow we found time to frolic in blue green waters under the blue white waterfall of Rainbow Falls. We climbed the nearby cliffs and gazed into the discharge spray below the falls. And late one afternoon I found myself with Lillie whispering from a cradle of limbs in a huge banyan tree near the falls; lips brushing ear and neck to be heard above the cascading clamor of falling water. Forms and futures swirled in clouds studied through a break in the green umbrella.

Competition was a strong component of the training. A thin-line between competition and popularity. We were advised on arrival that most of us wouldn’t make the final grade. We’d be expected to excel but we’d be subject to constant scrutiny and weeding by the staff and in the end we’d also be rated by our peers. They wanted ‘team-players’. Roughly half of us wouldn’t make it.

One afternoon in a distance run I found myself beside the redhead, Rex. We outdistanced the whole crowd on a ten mile run, came in long before the others. Found we weren’t appreciated for our efforts. Evidently the run was intended to be something of a fellowship, team thing. Labor and I didn’t hear the message. The whole affair on the big island was a distance run, and Rex and I were neck and neck for last place.

That night, Rex and I went into Hilo and had a few beers, exchanged a few dreams, disappointments, and observations about the place and the people. We were young in that country.

Mid-selection was coming in that beautiful land, and before it arrived, I was fairly certain I would be one of the deselectees. I was also fairly certain Labor would be. Neither of us fit in. We were different, even from the others I thought would be deselected. By that time we’d been through the Minnesota Multi-phased Personality Test. The rumor was you couldn’t even lie consistently on that one, except they could sniff you out, flush you like quail in the cool dawn. I knew I was doomed.

The morning before selection time the staff added the final horror. Humiliation and forced betrayal. The peer ratings. We’d been warned and knew they were coming but they still came hard.

Question: Here is a list of your fellow trainees. Top to bottom, list the people you consider most equipped for the task of Peace Corpsman, down to least favorable. Top to bottom, which do you like the most. Down to whom you like the least. And so on. Sell your young souls, trainees; young Americans. We won’t accept the papers back until you’ve listed them all, every white space above a black line filled with a name of someone you’ve spent the last two months learning to admire or scorn.

I was angry as I watched 80 eyes probe the room checking names against faces. I worked out my own strategy, locked eyes, whenever I could. I reversed the list they wanted. Picked the weakest and least liked for my Ajax and Penelope. Threw the leaders to the dogs. With my own name at the pinnacle, of course. But I knew the exercise was futile.

Even so, I was crushed when my name came out on the list of get-outs. I didn’t notice how the others reacted, and I don’t remember much about the time between the boot and the airplane. I do know that somewhere in there, I decided I wasn’t going back to the mainland. Somewhere during that time Rex made a similar decision.

The rain was falling sideways when we got off the plane in Honolulu. Big Joe Weiss, Korean War marine was with us on the plane to Oahu. He listened to our dreams and talked quietly of staying in the islands with us. He was as crushed as I was about being given the shove. But in the terminal building, he couldn’t look at either of us as he told us he was going on to the mainland. I could see that big Joe was limping inside, hurting. Maybe worse than I was, with all my bravado.

Rex and I had a notion about catching a sailing boat, heading for Australia or New Zealand. We had a couple of hundred bucks each, guts, energy, and no promises to keep. We’d signed on for a two year stint in Injia, and Injia belched us back. We were a bolus flying out the mouth of someone who’s just had the Heimlich performed unexpectedly during an aborted dying incident.

We spent a few precious bucks on a taxicab…..told the driver we wanted the cheapest hotel he knew of. It was the Huna Hotel, he took us to. Twelve bucks a night. But we were young in that country.

The rain continued through the night, and we emerged from the room still full of energy and bravado….we were taking big steps, making deep tracks in our future lives…..we thought we were about to make big tracks on the land, as well.

We picked up a newspaper looking for boarding houses……Rex found one belonging to a Japanese lady named Matsushige….he wrote down the address as I looked over his shoulder….wrote on the classified page of the newspaper…..2323 East Manoa Road.

We took a city bus, carrying our bags, our belongings from the dead Peace Corps experience, and got off at the confluence of East Manoa and Manoa Road. The driver pointed a direction for us. But at 2323, our knock was answered by a man who appeared to be dressed in a pair of WWII Japanese uniform trousers. He curtly explained that he didn’t know what the hell we wanted, didn’t want to know. Didn’t appreciate our disturbing his home, his morning.

We walked to Manoa and looked….nothing made any sense.

So, we found a pay phone and Rex called the number from earlier…..wrote 2319 on the newspaper. Hung up the phone, turned puzzled from the booth. “Twenty-twee twenty twee?” I still burst out in laughter every time I think of that incident four decades later. I can still see him turning puzzled from the booth muttering, “Twenty-twee twenty-twee?”

We settled in at Matsushige’s that day, a second floor room with two bunks, 4 feet or so apart, parallel, a desk between the two at the head. Shared the john with some other roomers….settled in young, full of bravado, full of dreams.

Next day we went looking for work. Rex took a newspaper and headed down to check out the openings on Waikiki…..I headed for the bars on Hotel Street looking for a job or a hooker to prime me for my job search. Tomorrow I’d go down to Waikiki to find my busboy job at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Today I had more pressing matters.

In a while, I came to a booth with a pretty gypsy lady; flirted a bit, talked around the issue. Was certain she was a hooker. Finally, she demanded, “You want a gypsy good-time?”

“Yeah! A gypsy good-time!”

She took me into an attached room with nothing but a cot, sat me down. “$10″….she took my money and assured she’d be back in a moment. I sat there and knew when she brought in a snaggle-toothed crone that I’d just lost a sawbuck for another of my lessons in life.

“Here it is! A gypsy goodtime!” She and the crone danced back and forth in front of me, all of us laughing. My life has been rich in gypsy good-times. I’ve been a man wealthy in gypsy good-times, but that one was best. A gypsy-good time when the coconuts fell beside us and mangos piled high under the trees blocking the sidewalks where Rex and I grumbled in our cots picking off sunburned skin to throw to the giant roaches. We were young in that country.

We stayed in touch with a few of the trainees still on the big island. Lillie and I wrote and sometimes talked by phone. We made plans to meet in Oahu after final selection whether she went on to India or not. Nancy Philson and Priscilla Thomas came through a few days ahead, voluntarily dropped from the group. An evening of drunken revelry on hotel street and they were off to the future.

I met Lillie at the airport with the other triumphant survivors. Chianti, baby gouda cheese, and a rented jeep, and we made long and easy love on the beaches in sight of Chinamans Hat, Hanuama Bay, the Blowhole, toward the end, pounding surf spraying the moonlight. Her red hair tickled my face as we idled the jeep down the inland spine of Oahu, back to Honolulu.

Next night, the gin mills of Honolulu and Hotel Street. Lillie’d never seen a stripper….I took her to a place I’d been a few nights previously with Nancy and Priscilla. The best I’d ever seen, her veils of blue velvet, blue chiffon.

They boarded the plane, and India X was off to save the world from hunger, from savage restraints, from a historic dearth of fowl in their diets. Off to Gujarat.

In a while, I flew back to the big island and went into the jungle off the Kohala range, thinking to become a hermit, thinking to die there. While I was gone Rex met a Japanese Hawaiian girl named Janice and flew back to the mainland with her.

In six weeks I came out of the jungle, in a maelstrom of roiling grey blue clouds. I’d met myself for the first time. I finally had seen myself; also seen God in that quiet forest. I knew I had more to do.

Years later while he was in the Marine Corps Rex’s kids came to be among my favorite children….Janice, an object of my deep respect. From a distance I watched those kids and admired Rex and Janice as parents and friends. Their marriage gasped to an end before the 20th century finished wiggling.

Today Rex’s in Seattle, trying to find what he should do with his life. Searching for the greatest gypsy good-time of them all. And I wait for the moment I’ll return to the woods as I did so many years ago beneath a savage sky in some country of youth and springtime. Give me, Powers of the Universe, the springtime but spare me the youth.

Copyright©2003 Jack Purcell

It’s here! Volume One, that is…

First volume of several

I finally got volume one, posts from 2005, ready for purchase (print-on-demand) on, so wanted to show you a few pictures and say a few things about the book.
First of all, if you’ve been reading along here, you’ve noticed that I add “Jack wrote this in 2005” (or whenever) at the top of each post. I decided to publish these volumes in a sort of chronological order (by month) so the posts in this particular volume will be familiar to you since they were posted here most recently. Same with the next volume, which is 2006… those posts came from previous blogs, but you’ve seen them over the last two years. You’ll even see some that aren’t yet posted, as I scheduled those in advance through the end of this year.

Title Page
Table of Contents
Table of Contents Page 2
Table of Contents Page 3
Back Cover

The completed book is 216 pages. There are a few photos, but I tried to keep the costs down by removing those that weren’t relevant to the text. I also tried to keep costs down by choosing the paperback format.

2006 is almost ready as well! I’ll give you an official announcement when I’ve made a few corrections.

I’ve gone over all the material I have from the blogs, and I estimate four more volumes if I keep them around the same length. Keeping track of formatting gets very complicated with a longer book so this is for my own convenience. But I might also do a book of “Ask Old Jules” posts, which are not included here. Jack answered thousands of questions when he was on that Q&A site, so there’s a lot to sort on those.

Marketing is not my forte, so except for posting updates here and on Jack’s Facebook page as the books become available, I won’t be trying to make my fortune over these. Feel free to share the link if you’d like. I appreciate all of you.

Civility and civilization

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Hi blogsters:

Taking a breather here and got to thinking about something that happened a few years ago that’s worth relating.

During the post-Y2K financial challenges I substitute taught in the public schools for a while.

Those situations often leave the sub in front of a bunch of kids without any obvious means of spending the time.  The regular teach didn’t know he was going to get into a car wreck or have a terrible hangover, so there’s no agenda.

One week I found myself in front of several days of classes of high school seniors.  Rather than let them use it for a study hall, I decided to get them talking about what they believe in.  Try to get them into a mode of defining it and possibly thinking in ways they hadn’t done so before.

One of the days was spent talking about civilization.  What it is.  What are the characteristics of a civilization, as opposed to merely a complex society.

From the beginning, every classroom full of kids believed a society couldn’t call itself a civilization if it condoned slavery within it.  They continued believing that (after some discussion) even after I pointed out the fact the US allowed slavery until a century and a half ago.

It was a strange sensation, watching those kids absorb, then adopt the realization that by their own definitions the US couldn’t possibly have been a civilization until the end of the Civil War.  But they were universally adamant in that regard after thinking about it.  Even after I pointed out further that slavery existed almost all over the world in one form or another until fairly recently in history….REALLY recently.

But once they’d decided there couldn’t be civilization without civility defined as a respect for the freedom of the individual, they hung tight on it.  Those kids decided human beings weren’t civilized anywhere until ‘way after a lot of civilizations (by other definitions) had risen and fallen.

Smarter kids, those, than I figured on them being.  And perfectly willing to stick by their guns on something they believed in.

Another thing they were adamant about as a prerequisite for civilization was a respect by the government and the citizenry, for human life.  A wisdom and determination that whims wouldn’t rule when it came to robbing individuals of their freedom.  That criminal statutes wouldn’t be jailing people, or killing people this week for behavior that would be legal a year from now.  (We talked about prohibition and the aftermath.  There were booze runners who were jailed during prohibition who weren’t released from prison until 20 years after the repeal of the Amendment).

That town we were in had three prisons.  Two for men and one for women.  Prisons were the main source of employment.  Those kids knew a lot about prisons.  They probably knew more than most adults in the US about what happens in penal institutions because they heard about it from family members who were employed in them.

Because of that, probably, they believed unanimously that prison is a serious matter that we aren’t handling in a way that reflects a respect for human life, for law, for individual freedom, for humanity.  They believed without much argument that we shouldn’t be imprisoning people for victimless crimes.

The bulk of the prisoners in the women prison are there for drug possession and prostitution.  Those youngsters believed in their hearts there ought to be a better means of dealing with such matters in a civilized society.

It took them longer, but these kids absolutely believed, following a lot of debate, that due process is the foundation of civilization.  They believed wars without due process were criminal, that they were the antithesis of civilization because they failed to respect human life enough to follow their own prescriptions and procedures.  They believed killing, mayhem are serious matters worthy of reflection, debate, and a profound respect for doing things thoughtfully and exactly according to law.  They believed failure to do so is a symptom of a society withdrawing from the condition we call ‘civilization’.

Thanks to that experience, I believe there’s a lot of hope for this country, once those kids get control of the political processes.  They had a lot more potential wisdom than most adults I’ve encountered in past years.


Ask Old Jules: Failures of society, Does luck exist, Places to talk about important things, Cloning of extinct animals, Getting rid of emotions

3.22.03 and back ups 1098

Old Jules, in which ways do many in society “grow up the wrong way” or are badly influenced? And why is this?

Rites of Passage got lost in the dust of history. In the past when a young man or woman reached the local age of adulthood a group of older folk took them apart and filled them in of a series of community standards summed up: 1] Here’s what is expected of you, 2] Here are some things you’ll encounter and you won’t necessarily understand, but here’s a set of guidelines we’ve found to work well enough to establish as rules. Behave within these guidelines and you’ll be okay. 3] Time you got out of your parents keeping and started carrying your own weight.

Old Jules, is there such thing as luck?

There’s something that walks, talks and acts a lot like the lady who mustn’t be named. It’s the reason gamblers of the gambling persuasion are among the most superstitious [which is to say, they acknowledge a piece of the human experience, the universe, and unseen strings being pulled as a matter of faith] people on the planet. The range of taboos in the air over a racetrack or a casino block of table games isn’t the product of casual gamblers. It’s the result of the observations of people who’ve spent enough of their lives watching cards fall and horses stumble to swallow their pride and treat the subject with conspicuous respect.

Old Jules, are there any places in real life where people talk about things that have substance to them?

Interesting question. Back in the day there were places where young people gathered and talked about things we believed had substance. Coffee klatches at university union buildings, Greenwich Village Coffee Houses [mid-1960s]. I’m guessing today if I had to be a fly on the wall I’d consider it fairly lightweight stuff, but back then it seemed weighty. We all took ourselves fairly seriously. A singing duet of the time actually did a song about the phenomenon I found a bit amusing years later. Loved it when it came out and thought it was hefty stuff. Perspectives change. (Simon & Garfunkel – The Dangling Conversation)

Old Jules, scientists are using cloning to bring back extinct animals. What’s your opinion?

When scientists apply science to create technologies they aren’t functioning as scientists. They’re functioning as engineers. Engineers will attempt to apply any capability science uncovers, whatever it might be. Engineering is single-minded, focused on intent. Weighing anything other than cost/benefit doesn’t come into consideration. If it can be done and if there’s money to be made from it, it will be done. I’m personally a lot more concerned about genetic engineering of feed and food grain crops than I am about animal cloning. Monsanto’s already got pollen from GE grain products drifting all over the planet on the winds. The engineered pollens don’t recognize boundaries, fences, human intentions or the desirability of maintaining the original species unchanged.

Old Jules, is it possible to rid myself of emotions?

The loyal opposition rears its ugly head. I disagree with the previous answerers insofar as the individual desirability of allowing emotion to play a large part in our lives unless we individually assess the issue and make conscious choices concerning it for our own lives. We can’t completely divest ourselves from emotion, but we can recognize it and insist on it staying in whatever corral we build for it. We can decide for ourselves the degree to which we allow ourselves to be herded around by anger, sadness, and boredom. We can relegate them to the passenger seat and not allow them access to the gas pedal, wheel, clutch or brakes.

A Strange Experience

Jack wrote this in March, 2005:

I consider everything that happens to be metaphysical, but if I didn’t I’m not certain I’d think this was.

I don’t often get into Albuquerque, but one weekday a friend had to pick up a rental car.  She asked me to take her into town to pick it up.  I dropped her off at the rental car place, hung around to make certain the car was ready, and crossed under the freeway, intending to get on the northbound ramp.  But I missed the turn.

It was summertime, hot in the truck, and I was feeling a bit weird.  I’m 62 years old and have had the occasional dizzy spell, so I drove along thinking I’d find a place to go inside for a cold drink and a breather.  I was feeling really strange and disoriented.  Even though I knew the area, I was uncertain exactly where I was.

I came to a major intersection with a fast food joint on it…. Der Weinerschnitzel… hadn’t noticed it before in the area, but any port in a storm, thinks I.  I parked and joined the line inside waiting to order.

The guy behind me, a gunzel looking fellow maybe 50, unexceptional in his looks, started talking to me while we waited.  He said some things, I don’t recall what about, that piqued my interest.  He was just passing through town, I know he said, had to pass some time.

I ordered a drink and sat down.  When he got his order he came and sat down near me and we continued talking across a couple of tables until he got up and brought his food over to my table.  Started talking about the lottery.  I didn’t have much interest in the lottery.  Bought a QP now and then, but otherwise it seemed a stupid waste of money.

The guy said he was a numerologist.  I pretended dumb on the subject, though I’d read a good bit about it.  Asked him a lot of questions, and his answers convinced me he was not only NOT a numerologist, but he didn’t know what a numerologist was.  I had him pegged for a BS artist.  But the conversation wasn’t costing anything and it was cool inside.  I sipped and listened.

He said he travels all the time, playing lotteries state to state, makes a circuit.  Said he makes his living that way.  “Yeah, right!” I thinks silently.  Said he studied the numbers constantly.

I plied him with a few questions for the sake of courtesy.  It didn’t take a lot to keep him talking.  The man was enthusiastic on the subject.  Got out a pen and started writing things down on a napkin, making charts, showing me a few of the ways the numbers behave.  Told me he’d been doing this for 12 years, never won a jackpot, but made a living off it anyway.  Said he’d figured it out all by himself, when I asked if there were any books on the subject.  I didn’t believe much about what he was saying, but I do believe in what Vonnegutt called, ‘dancing lessons from God’, …. letting unexpected experiences happen and riding along with them a while.

Anyway, the guy finished eating, left me with a handfull of napkins with drawings on them and a fairly vivid recollection of the conversation.  I left, too, and when I drove away I discovered I didn’t know precisely where I was, still.  I drove around a while until I saw a familiar cross street and headed home.

It was several months, those napkins sitting there wadded in view, before I got around to pulling up the lotteries and looking a bit to see whether there was anything to what I’d been told.  There was.  Just enough to get me looking at what the splinters he gave me implied.

Since then I’ve been spending 20 bucks a draw on the lotteries, usually PB.  10 tickets per draw, plus the multiplier.  I’m still exploring the possibilities implied by what he told me, working every draw to learn more.  But after about a year I’m not more than $50 down, probably closer to $30.  And learning more every draw, thinking of more new ways to look at those numbers and understand the patterns, what it all means.

Someone here says on every post that if you don’t win a jackpot you’re just paying to play.  For me, that’s been true so far, though at times I’ve been $100 or so up, other times almost that much down.  But it seems to me he’s coming awfully close to being wrong.

I’d surely like to know who that guy was I met at Der Weinerschnitzel.


The more they stay the same

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Morning blogsters:

One of the things I was doing elsewhere for a few days involved going through newspaper microfilm looking for some info for a friend.  I spent several days poring over small-town newspaper screens from 1900 to 1931.

Strange times.  I kept getting side-tracked into story sequences that had nothing at all to do with what I was searching for.

I’d never thought about the Mexico borderland being a magnet for rum runners during prohibition, but friends and neighbors, there was a war going on down there during the 1920s and 30s.  Guys with cars and trucks full of the devil rum coming across the border down at Hachita and Antelope Wells, getting in running gunfights with the law, getting themselves killed and killing the chasers.

These were sometimes bigtime crooks, other times just local guys who were doing some bootlegging on the side.  Meanwhile, the newspaper was full of opinion by the citizenry, some thinking the guys all needed killing, others really wishing this prohibition thing would spang go away.  Arguing about the same kinds of ideas about freedom and government intrusion into private decisions you and I might make about the War on Drugs.

Weird feeling reading those kinds of words and thoughts from seventy-five years ago with only a few nouns altered, but people dying and going to prison in a country at war with itself about freedom of choosing which mistakes a man wants to make, which ones he’s willing to have the government make for him.

What hill he’s willing to die for.

Then there was all the stuff about the 1918 flu epidemic, who all died this week how many died where….

We have better cars and roads these days, better medicos, a lot more cops and prisons full of prisoners, but not much else has changed.  We Americans know a lot about freedom for a people willing to make criminals of people doing just about anything we think a person would be better off not doing.

Such as sipping a beer or martini.  And killing the delivery man and bartender.



More phone stuff

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Hi blogsters:

This thing is amazing.  Comes with two books of instructions about 50 pages each, probably half of those pages written upside down in Spanish.  I’m not great with Spanish when it’s right side up, but upside down is way beyond me.

But that ain’t enough.  There are lots of pages of warranty type stuff with parts of it emphasized in boldface, which is troublesome.  No way I’m going to read those parts.

Additionally, some of the extra loose stuff mentioned that if you have reception troubles to move to a window or extend the antenna.  I wasn’t having trouble with reception, but figured I might.  I looked all over that phone and couldn’t see any sign of an antenna to extend, but there were little bumps and cracks here and there.  Picked and pried at them with the point of a pocket knife enough to make lights come on and get static sounds (reception went all to hell), but still no antenna.

Finally, upside down in Spanish I found on upside down page 15 the remark that my particular model has an internal antenna.  Much relieved to hear it.  I don’t think this thing is up to too many sessions with the point of a Swiss Army Knife.

My tour d’force is high-tech fixing things with a Swiss Army Knife.


Magic communications

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Evening blogsters:

About a year ago my cell phone fell out of my overalls pocket into the irrigation ditch when I reached down to worry a valve.  Sank spang to the bottom, but came out seemingly okay after I dried it out.

But it’s never been the same… grew progressively worse until it was useless for the past couple of months.  I waited, figuring it might come back, or that I might decide I just didn’t need a cell phone.  But I’m a pansy-arsed modern man these days and I finally just decided to give in to progress.  Got myself a new one.

Gives me something of a start, the stuff on that new phone.  Rattles me to the core that we’ve become so futuristic Dick Tracyesque.

This thing will take pictures!  It will surreptitiously take videos or regardings of the cop who’s leaning over your car window acting the way cops shouldn’t.  It will do all manner of things I don’t know how to do with it yet and maybe won’t be able to justify learning.

Gives me the fantods thinking about trying to figure that thing out.

Reminds me of when I was a kid and we got our first phone.  They were teaching me about it, how you put this end to your ear and that end to your mouth and listen for an operator to say, “Number please.”  Then how you say, “3621” if you need to call Jeanne Ann and Hollis because someone had an accident and you need to get help.  Or when you call KENM radio station to give the answer to the College Dairy Quiz and win movie tickets for the family.

And how you stay the hell off of it in all other circumstances.

I was a precocious kid and had a tendency to get us all to the movies pretty often, but my problem was that when that operator came on I usually blew up.  My mind went blank, I’m ashamed to say, when I heard that beeeeeeutiful female operator voice.

Fortunately, the operators got on my side after a while, with the College Dairy Quiz.  At 6pm when I lifted that phone they’d just say, “I’m ringing them dear.” without me having to say anything.

This one won’t do that, but it’s still okay without any operators.


Deja vu all over again

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Morning blogsters:

Like most of the people I’ve gotten to know over the past quarter-century, I spent those years generally knowing the location of the Lost Adams Diggings.

I spent my winter nights researching, picking apart the accounts, studying topo maps and air photos through magnifiers, pondering and speculating.  I’d spend a lot of time in archives and libraries reading microfilm of correspondence between Army officers of the 1850s and 60s and newspaper accounts from the late 1800s searching for hints.  Then I’d be planning access and egress to whatever place I knew it was, come snow melt.

Chomping at the bit to get out there and check it out.  Sometimes not willing to wait, burning up with cabin fever I’d snowshoe in, knowing I couldn’t tell anything about it under all that snow, but just unable to contain myself and wait.

For me it was a lot of different places over the years.  Good canyons, mountains, mesas I was glad I went into (with a couple of exceptions), but never the Adams.  Which was okay, because I’d no sooner checked one out and found it lacking before another jumped off the map at me and pronounced itself the Adams with the same certainty as the last one.

Those were good years.

But the 1998 search sort of ended all that.  I’d made promises to a lot of people who searched with me, who’d grown tired of Fox Mountain, that if we didn’t turn it during that long series of climbs and unclimbs giving it everything we had, I’d concede Fox wasn’t it and try some other places.

We tried a few, though Fox still lingered for me and I couldn’t get excited about them.

Meanwhile my friends were growing old and the fire was going out of their bellies to some extent.  The appeal of long climbs and treks with heavy packs, poking and digging around, sleeping on the ground in places where the best rocks under the bag still weren’t soft enough to allow any sleep just dwindled for them.

Then along came Y2K.  My attention was diverted and my finances vanished.  From that point forward what searching I did came out of the certainties of strangers who knew where it was and wanted me along because of what I’d already done.  Wanted me there because I’d searched so long, written so much about it, and partly, I always suspected, to have me there to rub it in that they’d found it when I’d failed to do so.

I’ve always been picky about the people I go to the woods with.  If a man drops his trash, kills snakes, makes a lot of noise, doesn’t take care of hygiene matters in a way I approve of, I don’t go with him again.  If he does things to cause unnecessary risk to himself or others, or if he’s afraid to take the necessary risks, if he shirks camp duties, I don’t go with him again.

I ran into a lot of those kinds of people after Y2K, and I could never lock onto a location where I KNEW it was, as I always had before.

One night at my Y2K cabin, Mel came out and showed me a relatively flat nugget that must have weighed close to ten ounces he’d picked up in a canyon.  He was sure it was the Adams canyon, but someone else had told him about it in confidence, so he couldn’t share the info.

I didn’t get to examine the nugget closely, didn’t get to look at it through a magnifier.  It was near dark and I just got to hold it for a couple of minutes in the dusk trying to figure out what it was about it that didn’t feel right.

That canyon and that nugget became a source of contention between Mel and me for the next several years.  The nugget went into the hands of the guy who told him about the canyon, who claimed he sold it in Albuquerque for $500, which angered Mel and frustrated me.  Mel never went back to the canyon and the guy who took him there wasn’t all that interested.  But Mel claimed until the day he died that he was convinced the canyon was the Adams.

So it’s been several years since I’ve burned with an idea about the Adams.

But there’s a canyon creeping back in to my mind.  I find myself sneaking around on myself studying maps and thinking about it.  It’s not a new place for me.  I’ve done some searching within a couple of miles of there, but for some reason my mind was locked on target a bit off center from this one.  I just never went over the right ridges, never poked into it during the pair of decades I’ve been around the place.

But it has all the right stuff, or appears to.  At least until I can get in there and turn a few rocks over, pan a bit, it’s where the Adams is.

Too bad Mel couldn’t have lived to see it.


Ask Old Jules: Jews, Souls, Self-discipline, Animal rights, How to make a girl like me more?

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Old Jules, what do you think of Jews?

A people who’ve had a tough gig. 2000 years of being persecuted by Christians, before that by Egyptians, Persians and Romans when they weren’t slaughtering their neighbors to comply with the instructions of their diety.

Old Jules, what are the contents of our souls ?

If you want the nearest approach to a scientific answer you might do some reading about the researches regarding reincarnation by scientists. Here’s one that might serve as a starting place for you: Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation is a book written by psychiatrist Ian Stevenson on the phenomena of what he calls spontaneous recall of information about previous lives by young children. The book focuses on twenty cases investigated by the author.

Old Jules, how can you achieve self discipline?

You might begin with something moderately unpleasant and demand of yourself spending a specified increment of time every day doing it. Maybe spending ten minutes daily memorizing the common logarithms one through 10 until you’ve done it. If you miss a day demand of yourself going back the next day. But that’s just an example. Anything you’d rather not do, demanding of yourself you do it daily and ignore whether it’s unpleasant or boring. Repetition might provide a starting place.

Old Jules, do you think animals have rights?

The ones living here have rights, but it’s because I have a contract with them and I honor my contracts. Animals who don’t have a contract with me don’t have rights in this immediate vicinity. The animals here with rights also have duties, but they’re limited, whereas the rights and duties I have where they’re concerned are more complex.

Old Jules, what’s the best way to help a girl like me more?

Treat her with respect but don’t want her badly, Don’t allow her to become dependent on you, Don’t become dependent on her, Recognize her boundaries and insist she recognize yours, Don’t attempt to own her and don’t allow her to attempt to own you Sacrifice your feeling that romance is silly in favor of the built-in need she has for romance. Do it in subtle ways by habit. Demonstrate you respect her. Listen to what she has to say. Send her roses now and then. Take her for moonlit walks. Candlelight dinners and wine with lousy romantic music in the background. Touch a lot without having to think about it. Look her in the eye when you’re talking to her and look her in the eye when she’s talking to you. Don’t look at other women when you’re with her. Don’t flirt with the waitresses while you’re with her. Communicate mutually your expectations of one another. If the expectations change update the communications so they’re always current. Don’t pick your nose, even when you’re comfortable with her, and don’t clip your toenails into the carpet.