Tag Archives: y2k

Mel King

The hoopla about the dead cop in Tijeras got me thinking about my old friend, Mel King, and another dead cop just down the road from this one in Mountainair, New Mexico, in 1987. 

That one changed Mel’s life in a multitude of ways, for all the remainder of it.  I posted this on another blog December 21, 2005, the anniversary of his death:

If I ever write another book, Mel King will have to occupy a few chapters of it.  I’ve mentioned him a few times on this blog, but mostly, I’ve not been able to write much about him at all.  I’m still digesting what happened to him.

On one of the threads recently the discussion drifted to the War on Drugs.  I suppose if I’d never met Mel I probably wouldn’t have thought much about that issue, would never have bothered to form an opinion about it.

But in many ways, Mel was a product of that war, from the time it began during the Reagan Administration, he was one of the adversaries.  It changed him from a small-time marijuana growing woods-vet to a wealthy man.  When the ‘war’ drove the price of jade sky-high he was approached by a number of ranchers in the area, asked to teach them how to grow weed in quantity.  He became their broker, as well as a grower.

The War on Drugs involved Mel in a major felony arrest, confiscation of much of his property, caused the mysterious death of a police officer, got Mel targeted repeatedly on America’s Most Wanted television series, and constant harassment by the FBI, State Police and local police for the remainder of his life.

They wanted to believe he killed a Mountainair, NM, police officer because it was the only construction of the facts that didn’t expose the rotten core of the War on Drugs.  If Mel didn’t kill that cop, another cop, or cops, almost certainly did.

Unacceptable.

Shortly before he was murdered in December, 2004, he showed me an anonymous, hand-written letter accusing him of killing the policeman and threatening to come balance it all.  The undertone and nuances of the letter suggested it was written by another member of the ‘policeman brotherhood’ who wanted to even things out, not because he knew the dead cop, but because a person doesn’t get suspected of killing a cop and get by with it.

It’s time I began writing down a few things about Mel King anyway.

Mel King was a major, financially successful marijuana grower and large-scale broker in New Mexico for many years.  During that time he was also a long-term heroin addict.  (He first became addicted to morphine while in the hospital recovering from wounds he got in the Marine Corps in Vietnam).

The only way Mel got away with what he was doing for so many years was by being considered a complete maniac, and by making certain the authorities got their fair share of the proceeds.  He drove around in a VW van with bullet-holes in the windshield from the inside.

When he got busted in 1987, with 150 pounds in his house it was because he made himself too big a nuisance to be allowed to go on.  He was attracting too much attention.

But even so, he never came to trial.  That 150 pounds of high-grade vanished from the evidence lockers.  The empty bags with his evidence numbers on them were found in the home of the policeman who made the initial stop during his arrest.  But someone murdered that policeman, probably for the marijuana, which is how they happened to find the empty evidence bags.

While he was in jail awaiting bail, Mel resolved to turn his life around.  He freed himself from heroin and when he was released he started a successful furniture business, did his best to stay clean for the remainder of his life.  Succeeded in being a trustworthy, successful man and one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

During the years I knew him, Mel was a deeply spiritual man.  He was honest, guileless, hard-working, sincere, courageous, and in many ways, wise.  We prospected a lot of canyons together, talked of many things over campfires listening to the wind in the pines.  He was also my partner during Y2K.

Mel and I disagreed on many things, but he believed, as I do, that he knew what happens to a man when he dies.  He never feared death and he never believed he’d done anything in this life to give him any reason to fear it.

I believe he was right.

Old Jules

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About Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms

From a previous post April 3, 2005

Okay.  What’s been on your mind this morning, the readership asks, me adroitly putting the words into the communal mouth.

In between working on other internet projects, I’ve been thinking about Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms.  What is it about those things?  What’s the appeal to us?  Why do they so frequently erode into acid exchanges between the users?  How do complete strangers come to have such a rancor for one another?  And how to otherwise, probably nice enough people (they have to be… someone would have taught them manners if they behaved that way offline) come to have such nasty streaks when they wear a mask of anonymity?

I’ve seen discussion boards and participated in a few previously.  In those days, a few people were still doing non-spectator things outdoors.  Enough were, at least, to keep sites of that sort in business selling metal detectors, gold pans, books, sluiceboxes, dry-washers and whatnot.  That’s when I first noticed this discussion board spinoff phenomenon I eventually came to think of as the snake pit.

People would come to the boards to learn about prospecting, about a particular lost mine, about some piece of equipment or other. But on any site there’d come a time when a specific group of individuals would just sort of hang out there.  They weren’t there to learn, and they obviously weren’t there to share information.  Mostly, they were just wasting time, disparaging people who asked questions, disparaging the attempts others made to answer.  The snake pit.

These weren’t just trolls.  They were men who knew the subjects the board was created to discuss.  But treasure hunters and prospectors have never been long on the information-sharing business.  So instead, these guys hung around blustering at one another, arguing which had the most skill with a metal detector, which detector brand was best.  Online acquaintances who frequently hated one another and everyone else, but still hung around.

Mid-1998, I became convinced Y2K was an actual threat.  That belief led me to another type of chat room.  A place where people who believed similarly hung around to talk about  TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and exchange information about Y2K preparedness.  At least, that’s how it began.

Before too long we all discovered that, while we each believed Y2K was going to happen, to one degree or another, we had some serious rifts in the other aspects of our lives.  Some were born again Christians who wanted to ask one another and answer one another whether this was going to be the Rapture, and if so, when it would begin, and what it would be like, both for themselves, and for the non-believers who’d be left behind to suffer it out on the ground.

That sort of thing.  That, and just how bad would things get, post-Y2K.  And how much a person should bet that it would happen at all. Attempts at risk analysis, though most of us didn’t know a lot about computers.

From mid-’98 until I departed for my woods-retreat mid-’99, I watched the Y2K chat room with a measure of awe, disgust, concern and wonderment.  I watched those people who came to the chat room to learn become experts after a few visits (the fundamentals of preparedness were, after all, relatively simple).  I watched the competition among the new survival experts when `newbies’ came to the chat room. People who’d just heard about Y2K and wanted to know more.  The poor old newbies found themselves swarmed by all the old-timers who were, themselves, newbies a couple of weeks earlier.  Everyone wanted to demonstrate his knowledge by telling some newbie about it all.

Meanwhile, the rancor, the snapping and snarling, the pro-gun/anti-gun, born-again/non-religious wars raged among those folks who came there first to just learn, who all had the same reason for their original visits.  And, of course, the romances.

The snake pit.

So.  How do strangers who have no reason to give a hoot in hell what one another think come to such a pass?  What is it about discussion boards and chat rooms that draws people so closely into one another that they wish to apply pain, sarcasm, poison?  That they actually allow the poison being spewed by the malignant random stranger to pierce their feelings?

It’s a study.  I’ll swear it is.

Old Jules

A Sobering View of Y2K

That tribal talk a week or so ago got me thinking about an old Mescalero bud I’ve known on and off through the parts of this lifetime that matter. We go long times without seeing one another, but we top off the long spells by bumping into one another in unlikely places.

Kurtiss and I first met working on Skeeter Jenkins’ ranch near Kenna, New Mexico. Must have been 1958, ’59. Skeeter wasn’t a joyful man on his ranch-hands. He’d berate Kurtiss by comparing him to us white lads, then he’d turn around five minutes later and tell us we weren’t half as good cowboying as that damned Apache over there.

I guess the only good that came out of that job was the bond that formed between Kurtiss and me, and the lifelong lesson I learned about not trusting ranchers. Old Skeeter cheated all of us spang out of a hard week pay and spread around the word none of us were worth the board he’d furnished working for him.  Fortunately, he’d done that sort of thing before, so nobody paid him any mind when it came to hiring us for other jobs, which we frequently got screwed out of our pay on, same as with Skeeter.

The last time I ran into Kurtiss must have been 1998, ’99. He and a couple of Arizona broncos were sitting on the tailgate of a truck parked for a powwow in Albuquerque when I came across them and a case of beer that was too close to gone to be any good.  When we’d killed what was left of that case we kicked out of there and spent the night singing ’50s rock and roll songs, getting roaring drunk and filling in on the minutia of our lives since we’d last met.

Spent a good bit of time talking about Y2K also, which was much on my mind at the time, and they’d never heard of it.   I expected that and explained to them. Those Apaches thought that just might be something really fine.

Kurtiss immediately thought of a state cop over toward Ruidoso who’s bad about kicking around folks who’ve had a bit much to drink, “I hope nobody gets to that prick before I do.”

Those Apaches demonstrated some rich imagination concerning the nuances of Y2K aftermath.  “We’ll be able to run raids on the Rio Grande tribes like the old days!”   This didn’t interest the Arizonians.  They were fairly sure Mexico would be open for a bit of raiding, though, and better pickings.

Then Kurtiss went thoughtful.  “I’d sure as hell like to kill me some Navajo.”  He told the old story of Bosque Redondo and all the slaughter the Din’e did to the less numerous Mescalero during the decade years they shared the reservation.   Apache numbers there were decimated until only 1800 were left alive when they escaped the rez and went back to Mescalero.

Bosque Redondo was fresh on his mind because of Navajo whines he heard at the Gathering of the Tribes Powwow. “Mescalero’s too large for such few people.” (The enormous Din’e Rez is getting jam-packed these days, by comparison.) “They ought to take some of that land away and give it to us,” was the general theme.

We fought our way down,” Kurtiss quoted himself. “And you guys multiply like rabbits.”

This led to some laughs and sneers about the theme of the Gathering of Nations Powwow, “Celebrating 400 years of unity (among the tribes)“.

I wonder where that was,” one of the Coyoteros grunted. “The Apache never saw it and neither did our enemies. Those Mexicans and Pima and all those town Indians were lucky the whites came along to save them.”

Mostly those guys were in agreement in their scorn for other southwestern tribes. “They don’t know how to use the land,” gesturing with a nod and a slight pucker of the lips.

A whole different view of the end of life as we know it.

Old Jules

 

More Future Me: Bass-ackwards Letter to the Past

I was discussing  the Future Me post with Hydrox and his littermate, Naiad, a few days ago and they suggested some other letters to the guy I was would probably be in order.  Those two were there through those years wondering with me where the next bag of Purina cat food would be coming from after I gave us a Y2K [ https://sofarfromheaven.com/category/y2k/].

To be delivered January 1, 2002.

“Hi Guy,

“This is me, Hydrox and Niaid, talking to you from 2011.
You are in for a lot of strange experiences over the next few years, and some profoundly difficult times.  You’re going to do a lot of things you’ve never dreamed of doing, just to get by month-to-month.  You deliberately chose to give yourself a Y2K, whether anyone else had one or not.  Trust me, it’s the best decision you ever made.
 I can tell you now:
“Don’t waste your time trying to get teaching jobs, any job where you can take advantage of your education and job history.  Save yourself a lot of energy and discouragement.  [Hydrox suggests I mention it also won’t buy any cat food.]
“That part of you is gone.  They don’t want any white male in his late 50s, no matter what he might have done in the past.  You are going to have to become really good at some unconventional approaches to survival to just squeeze by without going to live under a bridge somewhere. [Naiad says to tell Niaid to stay the hell away from that pool of water running out of the pipe behind the motel next door and quit worrying about Mehitabel bullying.  She’s about to get hers.]

“All that Y2K credit history and the mistooken belief the IRS would collapse is catching up with you.

“You’ve always succeeded in everything you did.  Now you’re basing your decisions on that history, but you’re failing to comprehend that everything’s changed.  Don’t waste your life in all those months of self-doubt and guilt, judging yourself against a set of standards and assumptions you learned from Grand-dad and you’ve always tried to live by.   Those are dead.

“You are still you.  You’re still strong, and you still have a million things to be grateful for.  What those human resources departments believe is meaningless, doesn’t say a thing about whom and what you are because they reject you.

[Hydrox says to tell Hydrox he can save himself a lot of grief by staying out of that bucket of waste grease behind the Chinese restaurant in front of the apartment.  And if he gets it on him, tell him to just belly up to the bar and get it shampooed off in the bathtub.  Licking it will provide a lingering case of the Egyptian Ducksquirts.]

“You’ve always relied on yourself and you now have to start doing it again in ways you never thought possible.  You are about to have to become a person living in the shadows, off the government paperwork, inside the underground economy.  The sooner you understand there’s no place for you in the ordinary job market the better off you’ll be.

“Old Deano,  [A Strange Way of Thinking] over in Belen’s going to try to talk you into learning blackjack.  You’ll want to shrug and resist.  My advice to you, is ponder it.  Don’t resist so hard, but don’t believe anything he, nor anyone else tells you about the nuts and bolts of playing it until you study it all and think it through.  What’s said by the experts is largely BS.

[Hydrox and Naiad both want you to urgently inform their counterparts NOT to stay indoors when you go off working 11pm to 7am at that damned motel every night and to keep a sharp eye out for those damned cat-killing dogs.]

“Don’t let anything surprise you except by hindsight, as it surprises me, all these years later in 2011.

“These are just short-term morsels.  Deano’s been dead so long I barely remember him.

“You, my friend, are entering a brave new world.  Savor every minute of it.  Maybe I’ll send you an email occasionally to hint you along.

“Hang in there amigo.  You can do it.”

[Hydrox and Niaid in two-part harmony to Mehitabel:  “YOU ain’t here, BITCH!]

Yourself, 10,000 blackjack hands in the future, and after it’s a dim memory.

Future Me


Morning Blogsters:

Someone showed me a website where a person can send emails to be delivered to themselves at some specified future time.  http://www.futureme.org/

Interesting thought.

What’s more interesting, however, is that a person’s allowed to have those emails to his future self posted for the public to read, though those are anonymous.

It’s a study in the way a lot of people view themselves.

One intriguing shot some 16 year old fired at his 22 year old self,

“I hope you’re out of the Marine Corps by now.  If you aren’t, you are an idiot.”

A 16-er who ain’t yet in the Gyrenes telling his future self he hopes he’s out by now and implying going in was a mistake???

But what’s most puzzling is the way so many are lecturing their future selves.

“I hope you own fifteen rent houses by now and are driving a Corvette.  If not, you’ve been procrastinating.  Get busy.”

Evidently a lot of people are going along on the assumption they’re as wise now as they’ll be five or ten years from now, and that the person they’ll be won’t shudder, nor blush that HERE’s what they used to be.  Here’s how they used to think.  Whew.

“No wonder my life is such a mess if THAT’s where I came from”, they’ll be saying.

One cute one  from some young adult of indeterminate age was addressed to him/herself to be delivered, January 1, 2013.  It congratulates the future self for being there to read the email, reminding about how he/she had been into Mayan prophesy predicting the end of the world in 2012.

OOOOOOOkay.

Got me thinking, what’s really needed is a site where we can send emails to be delivered to ourselves at specified times in the past.

For instance, I could send one to me for delivery January 1, 1999.

“Hi guy.

“You just took your retirement funds out of their safe haven, retired, and you’re getting ready to go off and prepare for the collapse of civilization. 

  • “You think the banks, the IRS, everything’s going deep South a year from now. 
  • “You think buying that land on installments is a smart move, that the money’s better spent buying food, shelter, barter items, medications, for hoards of refugees that will be coming out of the cities.  Because,
  • “You think when civilization collapses the taxes, the installments, even paper cash will be gone, kaput.

“I don’t want to influence you about most of what you’re going to do during the next year, but I do have a couple of suggestions.

  • “First, notice I’m sending you this email by computer from 2011.
  • “Second, you’ve asked yourself what you’re going to do if the lights don’t go out and think you know the answer.  Prepare yourself for a surprise or two.  No need to change anything much, but keep in mind life is full of the unexpected.  Savor the adventure. 
  • “Third, store your retirement cash you’re depending on in case Y2K doesn’t happen in a metal container where the rats can’t get to it. (Trust me on this one.  Just do it and don’t ask any questions.)

“Other than that, you’re doing fine, sport.  Just go on with what you were doing when you opened this email.

“From the man you’re going to be twelve HARD years from now,”

“Jules”

“PS – There’s a website out there where you can answer this email and have it delivered to me now.  Don’t bother.  I  was you once.  I remember all about it.  You don’t have anything to say I don’t know already.

“PPS – Start learning as much as you can learn about playing blackjack.  You’re going to need it for a while. 

“I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t mention that you are one incredibly stupid SOB, though you don’t know it yet.  You won’t know it in 2002, 2006, 2008, even 2010, either, though it won’t have changed.  In fact, you’ll always be convinced you are right on top of things during all those times.  No problem, chum.  It will add a lot of adventure and spice to our life.

“You don’t get to be smart until September, 2011.  Tough gig but it’s something to look forward to.”

Old Jules

George Harrison– Any Road

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NOTE:  I can’t visit Face Book because of the load time and my slow connection.  However, Jeanne’s posted a video on my FB what? Account?  Site? Whatever they do over there.  It’s a short thing of a fawn born under my porch she caught on camera while she was here.  Those of you who are able to open Face Book might enjoy it.  Jules

Slouching into the Millennium – August 1998

The Beginning

We staff members of the New Mexico State Emergency Management Planning and Coordination Bureau [EMPAC] didn’t laugh much.  We were a collection of old guys mostly retired from something else, except for a few youngsters, mostly support and training staff.

Radiation Response and Recovery [the RAD catchers] was a retiree Bird Colonel from the US Army named Sam.  Hazardous Materials Response and Recovery was headed by Joe, a retired US Air Force Lt. Colonel who’d piloted B47s for the Strategic Air Command in his youth.  Joe sat at the end of a runway in a B47 loaded with hydrogen bombs for two weeks during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Natural Disasters – Earthquake Preparedness was a shot-up in-Vietnam old Lt. Colonel, infantry.  And so on.  My program was Flood Plain Management and local coordination and training for one of the regions.  Too long out of the military to remember whether I was enlisted or an officer.

Our Bureau Chief, Larry, was a retired Master Sergeant, US Army Search and Rescue, another Vietnam vet. An enlisted man coordinating the activities of field grade officers, giving instructions, approving their work and their per diem expenditures would have been a potential source of laughter if we’d all held our mouths right, but “That’s what happens when you put an enlisted man doing the job of an officer,” was a frequent grumble every time something went awry.

The staff meeting was in the bomb shelter of the old National Guard Headquarters building in Santa Fe where our offices were located.

“I had a weird call from one of the aids to the Governor this morning.”Larry’s eyes searched our dozen blank faces. “Any of you know anything about Y2K?”   Calls from the Governor’s office to anyone at EMPAC was bad news.  We liked to think we were invisible, nobody knew we existed.  This particular governor, however, we considered a space cadet.  A flake.

We all exchanged scowls while my mind toyed with the phrase. “Y2K. Y2K? Where the hell have I heard about Y2K lately?” The thing rang a bell in my head, but I couldn’t think why.

“The Gov just got back from a meeting of the Association of State Governors. They did a big program on Y2K. He’s all excited about it. Evidently there’s some damned thing going on with computers to make them all fail January first, 2000.” Sneers and a chuckle or two.  We all agreed on something.

“Do any of you know what other states are doing? Any ideas what we should be doing? We have to send an answer over to the Gov’s office. We have to put together a plan of some kind.”

Background rumble around the table.  “Y2K?  Why the hell would all the computers crash when the 20th century turns over?”  “Damned idiot governor.”

“Hmmm computers. That’s it.” Now I remembered.

“It’s all a farce, Larry.” I was remembering a conversation and exchange of emails I’d had with my ex-wife. “Carolyn heads the department in Texas that’s supposed to be preparing for it. She told me a while back they were spending a lot of money on it, hiring a lot of people. Pissed her off when I said it was just another bureaucratic scare plot to build more empires.”

Larry stared at me, mind busy with what I’d said. “Could you find out what they are doing over there?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“Also, get on the internet. Find out what people are saying is going to happen. Find out everything you can about what all the other states are doing.”

The others in the room relaxed a little. No one wanted this project and now it was clearly mine. “How much time do you want me to spend on this?”

“A week. Two maybe. We just need to put together a plan that makes sense.”

As I left the staff meeting I was feeling pleased with the diversion this offered me. Something away from flood plain management and routine emergency management coordination. I didn’t expect it to be any problem at all.

I began by sending an email to Carolyn. This was the response I got:

“The Year 2000 deal is a real threat. Lots of people have been doing lots of
work to mitigate the consequences, and we’re still ‘influencing the future’.

The real problem is that we can generally fix what we know about, but there is
so much we don’t know.

For example, the power grid – there are many many power generators and power distributors in this country, and many “embedded systems” in each company. Some companies are taking the problem seriously by contacting their suppliers (of power grid equipment, as an example) to see if components will work.

Afraid of litigation, the manufacturers hem and haw around and provide no definitive data. Yes, I think there will be power outages, thus water problems, heating problems, etc, but I don’t think the whole US will go dark, and we still have some time to work on it.

One scenario I’ve heard is that elect. companies will work to distribute what power they have so that rolling black or brown outs will limit the negative affects of the power failures.

Some good news, the banking industry in the US is in very good shape. Our only
fear there is fear itself. I think a lot of IT systems are being corrected at a
more rapid pace than originally anticipated, and governors like yours and mine
are at least anticipating problems so they can prepare for them. I think if the
people anticipate the problems, and know that someone has already developed a
work around, we’ll be fine.

Any disruptions will probably be short lived.
I could go on, but duty calls.
C.

I trusted Carolyn about as much as any man can trust an ex-wife after 25 years of marriage.

I didn’t know it yet, but for me this began the end of one lifetime and heralded the start of another.

Old Jules

Creedence Clearwater Revival– Bad Moon Rising
http://youtu.be/5BmEGm-mraE



Reflections of a Y2K Survivor

I was one of those weirdos who believed so thoroughly in Y2K that I quit the last years of a career, cashed in my retirement, walked away from the IRS, all the bills, a house mortgage,  totally believing it was all moot because in just a few months it would all collapse.  I figured there was  a chance high enough to bet on that everyone left after the chaos would be wandering around hungry, diseased, and dying, if the computer gurus were telling the truth.  January 1, 1999, I performed the irreversible deed.  The retirement money made a down payment on 140 acres of land in remote high desert, I drilled a well, built a cabin, stocked up on countless items the throngs of hopeless survivors would need to survive a bit longer.

I knew there was a medium possibility the IRS, the land payments, all the rest would eventually come due if Y2K didn’t happen, but I thought the consequences of it happening and me not doing it were worse than the alternative of taking the plunge and it not happening. Once a person considers seriously  the possibility that society might collapse, it’s surprising how reasonable it seems to think so.

Did my best to be a refugee camp waiting to happen. I bought a lot of chicks to be eggs and food for the future hungry.  I knew I couldn’t survive long because of the shelf-life of a medication I require to stay alive, but I had hopes a few folks could survive thanks to a lot of training and experience I’d had in woods lore, emergency management, and survival. I moved in to a tent on the 140 acres in mid-1999, until the cabin was built and the well drilled.

I spent the next 16-18 months pretty much alone, sometimes going weeks without seeing another person. It was the best time of my entire life. I loved it.  I wouldn’t change a minute of 1999 until now, but they were the hardest years I’ve ever lived.  I’m a risk taker, more than most, but I’m also a damned fool.  Fool enough to believe Y2K not happening January 1, 2000, doesn’t mean Y2K won’t ever happen.  But also fool enough to know I’m not wise enough to know when it will, nor whether it will.

This blog will include some of the material written during that time. The rest is a compilation of reflections, before and since, of my varied runs at the brick wall of something rhyming with wisdom.

Old Jules
Steve Goodman–The 20th Century is Almost Over

http://tiny.cc/trxiy