Category Archives: Dispatches

personal updates, thoughts, anecdotes, letters, and other missives – written for myself and sometimes for others

Lt. Magnum boarding the USS Peleliu (named for my fave island) bound for Philippines

For 12 weeks this summer, an Amphib Ship, the USS Peleliu (http://www.peleliu.navy.mil/), loaded with Seabees (http://www.seabee.navy.mil/) will make 5 port calls in SE Asia of ~2 weeks each and perform humanitarian construction projects.

They had a call out for Civil Engineer Lieutenants to be liaisons at each of the locations. I volunteered and got selected to spend 16 May – 19 Jul in Manila, Philippines. I will work out of the US Embassy and make trips out to the two project locations in southern islands of the Philippines, closer to Malaysia than Manila. The locations are Tawi Tawi and Cotabato. I already found an aerial picture of Tawi Tawi and it looks like a fabulous tropical island.

 

Beer + Glorious Scenery + Weed = Vancouver (A note to a Belgian)

I wrote to a Belgian pal planning to move to Vancouver, thusly:

Don’t listen to the right-coast curmudgeons, Vancouver is the best city going.

While Belgium undoubtedly has the best beer (please bring me some Grimberger Dubbel), Canada does alright … though the industry is kind of caught between micros which have been purchased by macros, and micros which are still figuring out the zen of brewing and, as such, the CDN beer industry has lost of wee bit of the cachet it enjoyed for years.

The whining about raining is the local pasttime but honestly the rain is not intolerable (don’t hardly need an umbrella or rain jacket most days) and the constant drizzle just makes the shiny, glowing summers even more enjoyable. Plus amazing scenery all year round and fantastic food and eclectic neighborhoods make the area very livable despite the burgeoning pre-Olympic and condo-mania construction craziness fueled by speculators and hype.

As for weed, well, the short version is “yes” – though not Amsterdam, liberal smokeeasys do exist which is as much a comment on Vancouver’s strategic political climate of harm reduction as it is for preferred recreational habits … and yup, you’ll get to see a higher does of urban plight (homelessness, meth-addicts, flop houses etc) than you are accustomed to in Europa.

Questions from the class?

Musing and Mediations re: Creativity (and Rebellion)

Musings and Meditations for Creativity (and Rebellion)
Musings and Meditations re: Creativity (and Rebellion)

Onward, upward (poem from Deb.)

My dear counsellor – who helped me so very much when “the wheels fell off” with sickness, death, career disruption, and finding new self with advice about letting go and floating – is travelling, writing, meditating, learning, giving… all over.

She wrote this gift and sent to me.

Martha's Vineyard (by Deb)
Martha’s Vineyard (by Deb)

Onward, upward 

Let the fresh air
float away distractions, unnecessary cares.
That tendency to carry sorrows
of others, in your heart, in your bones,
need burden your spirit no more.
No sense heaving that lore.
Your best
was,
and is,
all you need deploy.
And gift
that inner critic
a swift kick,
off the gentle path,
irregardless of where it lands.
Nature’s recycling
will reliably,
re-craft it into her hummocky soup.
She handles erosion, far better than you.
Let your sweat
effuse
forgiveness, toward you, from you.
This life, these acts
weren’t meant to be perfect, wise, exact.
You’ve learnt vast
lessons
from
endless folks of your past.
Expend unwisely no more!
Instead, embody your
fortitude,
as we redwoods majestically do,
Your bod grants you a naturalness,
this
style of presence
– to exude.
Venture now,
liberated of unwarranted strife,
boldly stride,
up nature’s steps of life,
allowing
supportive connection,
when you need or like,
or when it’s most wise.
You sweet soul,
Onward, upward, lithely glide
up, up to luxuriate in the sun’s inviting light.
Retreat mediation room poetry
Multiversity 1440
Scripted by DebJoan Hall-B
March 15, 2018

Today’s checklist

Today:

  • 13 blood test
  • 2 immunization boosters
  • 3 dental fillings
  • 3 prescriptions
  • 1 vitamin injection
  • 2 molded ear plugs
  • 1 red curry
  • 2 Thai tea
  • 1 cappuccino
  • 2 cigarillos

Grand Canyon Ramble Flashback (circa 1988)

Grand Canyon – 3 guys and their packs
Grand Canyon – 3 guys and their packs on the trail

Received some photos as a complete surprise… The fella above in the middle J/C.T (who I’m not sure I’ve seen since this journey in 1988) tracked me down to send this delightful documentation from a walk across the Grand Canyon. The emotionless faces were intentional and we were having a much better time then we let on (probably) :-) That’s filmmaker BGK on the left.

Note: J/C and me each had loaded up 24 cans of warm beer (purchased with my fake ID) to keep the trip a bit weirder.

On the North Rim after completing the crossing

In brief:

Getting packs together before starting down

Day one, knee busting endless steps all the way down to South rim (including a tunnel which revealed the canyon bottom

Tunnel to bridge

Day two across the hot bottom, refreshed by a swim in a perfect pool and time for contemplation of the indigenous folks who’d roamed these canyons before we did so for “recreation”.

Cooling off in waterfall with a hole
Life on bottom, contemplating and breathing

Day three, brings nothing but up up up the North rim which included pockets of snow and, upon getting closer to the top, piles of donkey/mule shit, while we avoided the (lazy!) tourists riding on their burdened backs.

Me and BGK at top of the North Rim
Me and BGK at top of the North Rim

We celebrated and gave thanks with a sacrifice on a stone altar.

Sacrifice to the Canyon in gratitude
Sacrifice to the Canyon in gratitude

Love tracking down analog gems like this!

Victorious ramblers!

Aside:  Also, he reminded me of our 30th high school reunion is this summer. Technically, I dropped out and attended/graduated “adult high school” at the local community college which was one of my smartest ideas ever as i took photography, mountaineering, ceramics as well as creative writing, humanities and geology (just to get onboard with this field trip). Renaissance guy in training indeed.

Protected: Field Notes from Elsewhere – Choogle On #xx

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Front Row, Surrounded by Pals, Lost in Music

++ Front Row, Surrounded by Pals, Lost in Music ++

Whalley-ite and publisher of the fanzine Terminally Stupid and Vancouver hardcore music historian of sorts Dan Walters shared this snap. Can ya spot me? I’m always front row and smiling – i like it loud and music was escape. Note middle part hair.

Anyhow, Dan writes, “York Theatre Feb 17 1985 TSOL headlined. In the photo with you, Brad, Kamel, Kai, Kelly, Tim is Judas Goat onstage- Dave and Brian from DOA with Andy Graffiti on drums.”

Kameljit Gill was a force of nature (it was early days for the Indian influx to Surrey), tall, fearless and creative and always stirring up trouble – also an asshole but it was Whalley, you sorta had to be – i havent seen him since these olden days. Kai (another big guy) and him would make me be the first stage diver at shows to get things going. They’d toss me up there and sometimes even catch me when i leapt – pain tolerance was higher than. Brad Rees and I were pretty inseparable and i snuck out and stayed at his house often cause his Mom was cool (still is) and we could play music in the basement (until a grumpy step-dad would get liquored and angry).

Lots of the punk bands (which to me were already legendary superheroes) had “Fuck Bands” where they’d switch up instruments and wear ridiculous costumes and adopt other personas (I recall Chainsaw Running with Dave Gregg on drums being another).

Our little squad of Whalley misfits were all very different but hung out cause we were punks in a land of metal hessians. We made fanzine and bands. Notably AOT (Abortions on Toast) which the aforementioned Mr. Walters digitized the cassette “Music to Eat Lightbulbs by” (which i’ll make a soundcloud for one of these days and share some snaps). Dan Barney has a tshirt. I don’t.

The York was such a great place as shows were all ages and, importantly for us suburban skid kids, *NOT* downtown. Busses were tough (this is pre-Skytrain when we rolled the 312 or 316 in) and sometimes we were stuck walking all the way to Hastings/Refrew PNE to catch a bus back to Surrey. This night, we got as far as Whalley Exchange which was a shit place to be at 1AM or so. Dayton boot clad Whalley Burnouts ruled Surrey then and you’d get stomped if not careful. I hated living there and music was my escape.

These few years (83-85) were halcyon times for me seeing dozens of bands. Saving my money from delivering Real Estate Weekly newspaper to see shows from Bowie at BC Place to Clash at Coliseum to Dead Kennedys at York and Ramones at Commodore (at 14) and dozens more including loads of California-based punk bands and DOA a few dozens times. Bill of Rights, Death Sentence, House of Commons, Shanghai Dog seemed to open up so many shows (hence the fuck bands to bring variety). Plus Bag O Dirt, Slits, I Braineater, Spores….

On a personal note: This night, my Mom picked me/us up at Whalley Exchange (called from a payphone at Mac’s), the 17th was her birthday and Dad was not thrilled i went to the show and out late and all that. A couple months later my parents were split and i moved to Utah. Life changed a lot. These were golden times for me and the only shows i regret are the ones i didn’t go to.

The York turned into the Raja cinema and then was evidently saved from demolition by East Van Cultch.

Did you see shows at the York? Were you a suburban kid escaping for music? Did music save you? Define you? Tell me about it.

74th Birthday Letter to Mom

Well Mom, it’s your birthday.

Of course, you’re on my mind today, but also every other day. Of course I miss many things about you but mostly just the ability to call and catch you up on my life and have you cheer me along on my challenges and adventures. Your sing- songy voice going “oh son, that sounds fantastic, such fun!” So here’s your update…

Still, I’m trucking away at challenges and having adventures. I get Blue sometimes/often for sure… Missing the “old me” – even though I know its useless thinking and there’s many things about that part of my life that were not sustainable and decisions I could’ve made that would’ve been slightly more sensible – but I miss having energy to get up and  face each day with optimism and enthusiasm. Instead I wake up confused, exhausted, anxious and in pain. However, whenever this happens, I remind myself that I’m off all medications, I’m still out here in the world, making friends and trying to make the lives of strangers a tiny bit better. Just like you taught me.

Continue reading 74th Birthday Letter to Mom

Healing(ish)… &/or surviving

So many years now
Trying, climbing, sliding
Up the slides of a slippery well
Fighting, accepting, relenting
Leaves with only
Exhaustion from the inevitable slide

##

  • leftantlerkbo.
  • ddonatIs there more than just exhaustion? Does the struggle provide meaning?
  • uncleweed@ddonat Nope, all that “whatever doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” I’m calling bullshit on. It’s just the #fibromyalgia crash carousel of frustration
  • ddonatI’ve been going through deep depression. Eventually, I decided to get help. I’m now medicated, getting counselling and doing my best to get out of it. I hope there is light at the end. I don’t have fibromyalgia, but I hope there is something better through my struggle. I’m a bit proud that I’m still hear fighting.
  • ddonat@ddonat I have hope in that you’re still fighting
  • stew255KBO – sometimes it’s lower case, some times it’s upper case !
  • nabspatCounting on signals
    Walking, crawling, remembered,
    Forget the weaponsHearts and minds, outstretched
    Strip dust and distance, unbound-
    You. Posture beloved.
  • auxinafenicaMakes me mad to know awesome people have to go through this. Sending you and whomever struggles with huge fights a huge huge huge hug.