Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas came a little early this year—thanks to Keurig and some holiday sweets

 

Here’s my new Keurig coffee machine!  I was going to wait & set this up on Christmas Day (before making the trip home to spend the holiday with family), but seeing how I was just sitting here enjoying my friend Kathy’s Christmas cookies, and wishing I had a cup of flavored coffee to go with ‘em… out of the box it came.  I just brewed my very first K-cup (the Italian Roast blend) and it is strong & good.

Whew, I am having some hot flashes—okay, it must be the caffeiine.  I normally don’t drink coffee at 9pm, but this cup of italian joe probably has more get up n’ go than that whole can of Maxwell House ‘Morning Blend’ in my fridge!   

It seems like half the people in my office own a Keurig, and half of them have been after me to get one too.  “Doug you don’t know what you’re missing!”  “Doug join us in the 21st century!”  I’d always say I was thinking about it, but in truth I knew those machines were too large for my postage-stamp sized kitchen counter.   Then I saw this one, the ‘K10 Mini-Plus’ (it has no gallon-sized water reservoir like the bigger models) so I went for it.  It still has all the features, it’s a perfect fit, and now I can join all my friends in the future... er, present.    (I just wish being here didn’t make me so jittery, I brewed that cup on the largest setting too.)

 

I’m not ready to let go of the past just yet, look at this cool retro magic set I got my niece for Christmas!  (I just hope she likes it as much as I do)

And on that note, I’d better get off here and get some stuff done.  I really just wanted to touch base & say thanks to the people who drop by, I hope you & yours have a wonderful holiday.  

(And Kathy, thanks again for that awesome tub of Christmas cookies—the white chocolate & jam ones were my favorite!)  Smile

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Here We Come A-Wassailing (and boy, was there was a lot of wassail)

mejuliemia 

It’s Friday night, I’ve been home for an hour or so, and I’ll just be honest here and admit I’m a little um… fuzzy.  Earlier today was my work-group’s Christmas party (oops, “End of Year Party”—that’s what our director renamed it) and in my quest to be a little more festive this year I made sure to go along.  And I’m glad I did, it was a nice time—I work with a good group of people (who also have a tendency to be goofy as hell people when the time is right).

Me with two lovely friends & coworkers, Julie & MIa

Our boss paid for the whole shebang, so after work we all rode the subway to the North Shore and met up in some tavern with a beer menu as long as my arm.  (Pineapple beer?  Really?)  I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in over a year, so I thought ‘what the hey’ and got one.  Then Gwen (another friend & coworker) got some vodka-strawberry concoction, gave me a sip (I think it was called a ‘Christmas Joe’) and I downed six of ‘em.  Dammit!  But I’m hoping the food saved me from a hangover tomorrow—there was a hot table laden with shrimp, fried zucchini, stuffed banana peppers, meatballs and three types of chicken.  I gobbled it down like there was no tomorrow.

But I have to say, as much as I enjoyed that food & open bar (and the good company of course), my favorite part of the gathering was when I was leaving:  my boss approached me and shook my hand and said “Doug, hope you had a nice time, thanks for all the hard work this year.  You’re doing a great job.”  Wow!  Coming from Len that was a big deal--he’s a good manager, but not exactly known for handing out the praise.  (I think the last compliment I received from him was in an email from 2008 when he wrote “Keep up the good work.”  I used to pull it out and look at it when I needed a quick pick-me-up, but that only works for so long, y’know!)  Tonight’s compliment should last me to retirement.  Anyway, it was a swell way to end a long work-week.

And on that happy ending, I’d better get to bed—I feel a headache coming on and that reindeer on my bed is giving me a guilt complex.  G’night!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree… please don’t ever lee-ave me

   

I’ve always tried to take nothing for granted; I’m not kidding, at the end of the workday I usually say a quick prayer of thanks that I arrived home safely without being robbed or run over by a bus.  And dammit, who are all these Asian girls and why are they hanging out on the street corner across from my apartment building?  They’re all wearing steel toed boots and smoking!  Asian girl-gang, I can assure you I carry less than $20 and I don’t own a smart phone.  It’s not worth it.

I say all this because right now I’m wondering if I’ll be losing something I HAVE taken for granted since I first moved in this apartment fifteen years ago; the giant pine tree that protects me from the outside world.

Earlier today, I was working from home when I heard a chain-saw growling outside; what’s going on?  No matter, I don’t care if it’s the Texas Chainsaw Man--I’m safe in here!  It wasn’t until an hour or so later I heard “WHAT?  OH NO!” from the apartment next to mine that I ventured outside to take a look.   I was shocked, the two pine trees (one large, one small) that stood in front of the balcony next to mine, and shielded the world from my rude neighbors were GONE.

theirtrees

 

 

 

 

 

 

From last year, the trees in front of their patio—and now, all that remains is a muddy patch of dirt, a couple stumps and some cigarette butts

As much as I dislike that pair, I feel their pain.  The pine tree that stands in front of my own patio doors is huge, over 5 stories tall.  I take a lot of comfort from it being there, it makes me feel a little closer to nature.  Robins build their nests there in the spring, and after a snowfall the view from my balcony is as pretty as a Christmas card.  (The residents across the hall are looking directly into another apartment buildings windows, so I feel especially fortunate.)  And most importantly, that tree allows me to walk around in my shorts without having to worry who can see what! 

patios

As this illustration shows, the poor homeowners across the way will now be subjected to my gay neighbors going-ons; and they’re a nice older couple too

Will my tree be the next to get the axe?  Who chopped down those other ones anyway?  My building’s management says it wasn’t them, but Theresa (our oldest resident who’s lived here since 1975) insists those trees didn’t belong to our neighbors, but were planted by our apartment building’s original owners and she knows because she was witness to said event. 

(By the way, Theresa also suggested it could’ve been someone who wanted a live Christmas tree.  When I pointed out those trees were 4-5 stories tall, she said “Well you never know with the size of these houses today”)

If there was ever a time for a Christmas miracle… mysterious lumberjacks, please spare my tree!holiday-cheer-christmas-tree

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I miss the days when saying you were a movie buff meant something

   

For as long as I’ve been on my own, one of my favorite weekend rituals has been to make a bed on the couch, set the timer on my tv (to shut off after a couple hours) then curl up under the covers to watch a movie before going to sleep.  I’m more partial to the older stuff (like on Turner Classic Movies) in the wintertime, and the independent and foreign films (on IFC) in the summer.  Action or horror movies at bedtime?  Never! 

And then last year, I got that nifty Nook HD Tablet (which doesn’t cease to amaze me) and downloaded the Netflix app, and for the paltry price of $7.99 a month, I am now under those covers with my earphones and a million hi-def movies to pick from.  Ya gotta love technology.

But as much as I enjoy the low cost & convenience of it all, I think I miss the days when watching a favorite movie from your couch really meant something.  I’m not just talking before streaming or Netflix, but before Blockbuster, when there was no such thing as renting videos.  You waited until they came to tv—or you bought them.

I came across this old advertisement recently and it immediately took me back to 1982, when I first saw it in the back of OMNI Magazine.  It was love at first sight.  (And yes, I’m sure that image of the USS Enterprise played a part too!)

At the start of the 1980s, videocassette recorders cost a thousand dollars, and were uncommon.  Even if you did have one, you had to buy the movies you watched and they were costly.  (Something like “Superman” would set you back 89.99!)  RCA Videodisc Players sold for less than half the price of a vcr, and boasted you could choose from “over 1500 titles, most under twenty dollars.”

Still, 500 bucks for the player was a lot of money—especially when you had a take-home pay of 87.13 a week like I did.  I actually went to the bank and took out a personal loan just to buy this contraption.  It came with 3 free movies:  Rocky and 2 of my own choosing.  (I selected Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan and Superman II, much to my sisters horror.)  I was in love, and over the next four years—from 1982 to 1986—I somehow amassed a collection of around a hundred titles, including some movies for my sister Shawn.

This played at the beginning of every movie, letting you know you were part of an elite crowd; you owned an RCA Selectavision VideoDisc Player!

The discs looked similar to a vinyl record, hidden in heavy plastic sleeves; you’d slide one into the player, pull the sleeve back out—then repeat the process to watch the second half of the movie on the other side.

The machine had no remote and if a movie was longer than 2 hours, it came on 2 discs.  (These things were heavy too—I think my collection of 100 movies probably weighed close to 75 lbs!)

That videodisc player became my pride and joy, and for those few years I can remember going without new clothes (or other such luxuries like food) just to get something like The Petrified Forest with Bette Davis or The Empire Strikes Back.  Sometimes a couple friends from work would stop over to see my latest titles.  (I can still remember Brenda shuddering under a throw during Christine, or Pete and Kevin staring at Clockwork Orange with their mouths hanging open).

I think these two were my favorites, simply because of their covers: 

                petrified-forest-rca-1psycho-1

I bought this for Shawn one Christmas, a collection of Judy’s live performances and enjoyed it just as much as she did

best-of-judy-garland

I loved the MGM discs best—I owned a couple of their old musicals, but on Selectavision they had the best sci-fi!

      time-machine-1westworld-1soylent-green-1

All this & Kramer vs. Kramer too; Dustin Hoffman was all over these discs (at least the ones in my collection)

midnight-cowboy-1

straw-dogs-1

graduate-1

tootsie-1

 

 

 

  

 

I’d only seen Mel Brooks “Young Frankenstein” until RCA Videodiscs came along; I’m embarrassed to say how many times I probably watched these

      history-of-world-1blazing-saddles-1

And finally, my Star Trek collection:  the first 3 movies, and 12 tv episodes (two episodes per disc)

trekdiscsIt was a fun ride while it lasted, but within a few years, prices on vcrs dropped pretty drastically and the video rental business took off.  I knew it was just a matter of time before RCA pulled the plug on their discs, but for me it was just as well.  By 1986, I was done collecting movies and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my adult life.

FYI, being the anal Doug I am, I kept an updated inventory of my videodiscs and still have the list to this day.  Below is my complete collection—there’s a few klunkers there, but I bought several of these ‘sight unseen’.   

                                  Nothing like the cinephile I am today, of course…  Nerd smile

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tales from the bedroom: the older I get, the less I’m getting it

mybedroom

This is my bedroom.  I use it pretty much for the same things as other people, but it’s also where I go when I need to get away from the gay couple’s shenanigans next door (which come in loud & clear thru my livingroom wall).  In fact, just recently I spent the entire evening in my bedroom after one of the boys found 100+ photos of Liam Neeson on the other’s cellphone; the shrieking went on for 4 hours.  But that’s another crazy-ass story.

So the other night, I was stretched out on my bed doing some reading when I heard a woman’s voice from behind my headboard.  She’s going “yeah… yeah… uh huh… UH HUH!!”  and if you’ve ever seen Meg Ryan fake a you-know-what in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ then you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Her boyfriend (I’ve met them both, a good looking pair in their twenties) said “Michelle… cool it!”  but she went right on with her exclamations.  The very next day when I was getting my mail, she bounced down the stairs, saw me & sang “Hello!”  I said hi back, but my face felt pretty warm.  I know that she knows we can hear each other thru that bedroom wall we share, but I think she gets a big kick out of it!

Darn it, back in my younger days I would’ve gotten a big kick out of that too.  Maybe I’m becoming more prudish or something, the older I get.  Why is that?

Here’s me and my girlfriend’s elbow, 1980; we were spending the weekend with a couple friends, and got caught with our pants down, so to speak.  By the look on my face I didn’t seem to mind

I’m not longing for the days when women hid behind layers of petticoats (I’m not THAT old) but it seems more and more, women keep surprising me.  This happened a couple weeks ago in the office:

Lunchtime, myself and a a group of women are waiting for someone to come back from the ladies room before we head out.  We see her coming our way.

  • Julie:    So what’d you do in there, number 1 or number 2?
  • Kathy:  Number 2.
  • Julie:    Was it good for you?
  • Kathy:  Yeah, a big piece of poop fell outta my butt.
  • Jamie:   I’m so jealous, I’m really constipated.
  • Doug:   Hey ladies, what happened to the feminine mystique?
  • Julie:     Shut up Doug, you’re one of us now!

Okay, okay—we’re all friends there, I suppose when you spend 8 hours a day with the same group of women, the gender lines tend to get a little blurred.  But recently when I was in the basement of my apartment building doing laundry, my Russian neighbor Uriel walked in with her basket of clothes.  I said “Hi Uriel, how are you?”  She said “Hello, not so good right now.”  I said “Oh what’s wrong?”  She said “I started… period.  Yah.”  Dear you didn’t need to tell me that!  By the way, I recently signed for a package for Uriel that came all the way from Russia; it was from someone named Vulva.  When I handed it to her, she said “Oh good, from my sister.”  

And lastly, just when I thought nothing could surprise me anymore, a woman from West Virginia  recently moved into the apartment directly across from mine.  So last night while watching ‘60 Minutes’, I hear hammering in the hallway outside.  I opened my door and it’s my new neighbor, hanging a decoration on her front door.  It appears to be a witch’s bottom half.  She said “I’m sorry, am I disturbing you?”   I said “Not at all, go right ahead.  Um… isn’t it a little late for Halloween though?”  She said “this isn’t for Halloween… I’m a witch.” 

Oh okay--silly me!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I’m 52 years old now, but it’s my freshman year all over again

 

I have some very fond memories of this photo; it was taken in November 1975, a couple months after the start of my freshman year in high school.  I had just turned 14 years old and my mom had gotten me this cool leather jacket.  (Well, it was cool at the time.)  I can still remember exactly what I was doing too, I was on my way into town to see my girlfriend Penny.  (I also like how I can see my Mom’s shadow at the bottom of the photo; she was so camera-shy I’ll take any reminders of her I can get.)

Anyway, I’ve been 52 years old for a couple weeks now, and with my thinning & graying hair I certainly look the part.  But I still feel very much like the Doug in this picture, a little nervous and excited about what’s down the road.  As for the freshman thing—on the day I turned 52, I had this conversation with my coworker Danielle (who enjoys pushing my buttons):

HER: It would’ve been cool if your mom named you Damien.

ME:  You mean like in “The Omen”?

HER: Yeah, because of your birthday!  You know, born on Halloween.

ME:  Don’t you think it would’ve been creepy?  I was born 15 years before that movie even came out!

HER:  Oh I thought it came out in the sixties!

ME:  No, The Omen came out in the mid-70s.  I was born in 1961.

HER:  So you’re like 79 now.

ME:  Right.

It got me to thinking about that time and place again, my freshman year in high school.  Still just a kid, but my future was only a few years away.  Even my mom was asking me if I had any idea what I wanted to do after high school.  (I suggested becoming a cartoonist, she thought a retail store manager would be more practical.)  All I knew for sure was, in four years I’d be making some big changes in my life.

And that’s where I’m at now, in regards to wanting to retire at 56.  That’s only 4 years away.  Six months ago I put the bulk of my savings into market index funds, and as of yesterday they’ve returned a healthy 10.65% earnings.  Oh I know that could drop at any time, and probably will soon—but if I wind up with the market “average” of 8% earnings after a years time, I’ll be in good shape.

I’ve been trying out a lot of online retirement calculators (all you have to do is google retirement calculator) and more & more I’m appreciating the one by MSN Money.  It has a couple preset percents (3% inflation per year, 8% earnings on investments) but you can change those if you like.  And it will also factor in your social security (and assumes you’ll begin collecting at age 62 if you retire before that age). 

I ran it with these hopeful variables:  1) retirement at 56  2) 500K in combined 401K and personal investments.  I left the defaults for inflation & investment earnings alone, and for ‘Desired Retirement Income’ (the sixth column) I entered a low percentage of my current income (adjusted for inflation each year).  Here’s how it turned out:

You can’t see the entire chart, but I said I planned to live to age 90 (who knows, I may just get lucky and do that) and according to the calc, I’ll still be leaving behind a nice chunk of change (around 600K, more money than I started out with.)

Now do I really expect to be earning 8% on my portfolio every year?  I wish!  I know some years it’s going to be lower or minus, but it works both ways y’know—there may be a year or two when it’s 10-20%.  It all evens out though, and in the leaner years, I’ll just do a little less dipping.  (Hell, I’m paying myself 41K the first year and my expenses are currently half that!)  

So my “freshman year” is off to a promising start—and this reminds me, last week I made an appointment for the eye doc in January, to get some new glasses.  It was in January of that first freshman year when I got new glasses too.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stephen King’s ‘Doctor Sleep’: We’re playing those mind games, together

 

So who doesn’t remember “The Shining”?  Even if you didn’t read the book, or see Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 movie based on King’s novel, surely you recall that scene of a crazed Jack Nicholson chopping down a door with an axe and yelling “Here’s Johnny!!”  Well, what I’m holding here is the sequel to King’s original story—I just finished the book an hour or so ago, and I sorta feel like I just finished eating a big plate of spaghetti… it wasn’t a pot roast like the original, but filled me up with some good stuff just the same.

First things first; if you read (or saw) “The Shining” all those years ago, you’re good to go—King does a nice job of refreshing your memory of those events that unfolded in ‘The Overlook Hotel’ back in 1977.  I enjoyed the flashbacks here, but my favorites were with the hotel’s chef (who picked up on little Danny Torrance’s special abilities then, and told him what he had, and what to be careful of). 

But that was 35 years ago; the hotel has long since burned to the ground and Danny is now a middle-aged man, always a job or handout away from living on the streets.  He’s not quite the wunderkind he was then, but that’s a good thing; he’s managed to hide those inner demons from his past (and the ones that still appear in his bed or bathtub) with lots of cheap booze.  He’s as alcoholic as they come.

Meanwhile, halfway across the country exists a tight-knit group of middle aged folks who travel the highways and byways of America in a fleet of Winnebagos.  Not quite gypsies (as they seem to have all the money they need) they call themselves the “True Knot”.  Their leader is a sexy, vivacious woman named Rose who wears a top hat cocked jauntily on her head.  She too has “the shining” (well, they all do to different degrees but hers is strongest).  And you begin to understand that this caravan has been around for a very, very long time.

”Gather the troops, Crow; we need steam”  (this is just how I pictured Rose, the True Knot’s leader)

Steam?  Why yes, they keep metal canisters of it under the floorboards in Rose’s deluxe motorhome.  What is it?  Let’s just say that certain people possess it, some more than others.  Where does the Knot get theirs?  You don’t want to know.  (Well, you do but I don’t want to give away too much here.)

And finally, somewhere in New Hampshire, a little girl named Abra is both impressing (and frightening) her parents with her assortment of psychic abilities.  As a baby, she replayed old Beatles songs her dad tinkled on the ivories by “saving the musical notes from the air”.  She can read others thoughts, and even look through another persons eyes.  But lately, Abra knows someone has been looking thru hers as well.  Go look in a mirror dear, so I can see who you are...  Danny Torrance may be a flashlight (when it comes to the shining), and Rose a pair of headlights on high beams, but little Abra is a lighthouse.    

So you can probably guess what’s coming, how these characters connect:  it’s one of King’s favorite storylines, good versus evil, David vs. Goliath style.  We’ve seen this in ‘It’, ‘The Stand’, a dozen other of his titles.  (But at least here, he manages to make it subjective; its “our” good versus “their” evil.  Does a man-eating shark or black widow spider see themselves as bad guys?  No, but we do—does that make us right?   Depends on who you ask.)

What made this book special to me though (besides the reunion of sorts with the Overlook Hotel, the trippy ESP stuff, the surprising twists and turns) was the glimpses into Danny Torrance’s troubled mind, both his alcoholic thoughts and the cleaner ones of someone in recovery.  We’ve all known such people in our lives, and King reminds us that ultimately, the biggest battles we must face are not with characters in top hats, but with ourselves.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nothing says Halloween like a birthday cake, good food and a wookie



Earlier, I celebrated my 52nd birthday (in the office) courtesy of some awesome coworkers and a friendly wookie. That’s me in the corner, admiring the cake as the others sang Happy Birthday—and Chewbacca, aka Kathy, doing a pretty good photobombing of said event!

Originally we were just going to have a cake, but someone said “Seeing how it’s Halloween, and there’s going to be a cake, why don’t we have appetizers and a main course or two as well?” These people mean business. There was enough food to feed an army & then some, along with a pretty spectacular ‘chicken taco bar’ (which one person, Linda decided to do on her own and amazed everyone). Being the birthday boy (heh) I was only required to show up and eat. And now, I have about 4 lbs of Gwen’s cheesy potatoes and birthday cake parked in my teepee’s icebox!

Anyway, not a lot to say here—just thought I’d share a few pictures:



A chocolate torte birthday cake (it kinda speaks for itself)



My coworker Mia & myself, comparing our ages—darn it, I’m old!




Ed’s cucumber sandwiches lend an air of elegance to Kim’s hobo beans and Jamie’s kielbasa




Kathy’s world famous wookie-cookies




Rita promised to give me the finger; she wound up giving me several of ‘em


A big thanks to everyone for the great grub & making this birthday a real special one!

Happy Halloween!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Sunday sermon from ApacheDug’s Mountain

   

Perhaps one day I will simply vanish.  It may be more difficult to do in this day and age (especially when your identity is plastered all over the internet) but I hear people still manage to do it.  My coworkers will scratch their heads and say “how can someone like Doug just disappear?  Did you try texting him?  See if his location has changed on his Facebook map.”  

And then the Steelers will win their first game of the season, and our department will get a couple new hires and I’ll be all but forgotten. 

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, perhaps in a small rural community that Google Maps hasn’t gotten around to yet, a man will show up with two battered suitcases in tow.  One filled with clothes, the other with books and a couple framed family photos and a radio.  He’ll take a room at the local boarding house, and someone will ask who he is, and Mrs. Jenko (the widow who runs the place) will say “Well, his name is Edwin Morris (he is going by his middle name now) and he’s from Pittsburgh and I don’t know much else.”

“He pays his bill on time and cleans up after himself in the kitchen, and doesn’t make a lot of noise.  Most mornings he takes off with one of his books and a bag lunch, but I don’t ask questions.  A man has a right to his privacy.” Then someone will suggest Mrs. Jenko invite him to church Sunday morning, and she does.  Edwin has seen the church on his walks, and it reminds him of the one from his childhood, the same country church his parents were married in.  He says thanks, he’d like that.

That’s how it would happen on ‘The Waltons’ you know… if a stranger from the big city came, and decided he wanted to stick around.

A couple Mondays ago, I was on the bus coming home from work with an idea for my next blog, something extolling the awesomeness of my latest favorite tv show, ‘Breaking Bad’.  (The night before had been the series finale and I watched it breathless with excitement.  I just had to write something about it.)

What happened instead was that when I arrived home, I turned on the tv (as I normally do, just to have some noise) and was flipping through the channels and an episode of ‘The Waltons’ caught my eye.  It was just starting, and it hit me that it’s been many years since I watched this show.  I left it on while I looked through my mail and waited for 6:30, when Diane Sawyer would tell me the latest going-ons in Washington and the rest of the world.

The episode was titled “The Sermon” and begins with the local preacher making plans to leave for a week, and wants to know if John-Boy will stand in for him and deliver a sermon the following Sunday.  John-Boy is honored and says yes, but worries to his family that he’s not up to the task. 

 Grandpa Walton (Will Geer) shares his own thoughts about his maker with John-Boy

As the week unfolds, we watch as John watches others go about their lives—his dad (who isn’t a churchgoer) at his saw mill, and how he watches proudly over his other children; Grandpa’s tender ways with his animals, and the way Grandma (Ellen Corby) clasps her worn Bible to her chest for comfort as she rocks in her chair—and yes I know it all sounds terribly hokey, but when John-Boy climbs onto a large outcropping atop Walton’s Mountain and ponders the world below and around him, I sat here transfixed.  (Needless to say his heartfelt sermon of how God reaches people in different ways left me with a big lump in my throat.)

I never started that blog about Breaking Bad.  It was an awesome show (if you can ignore that gnawing in your chest that maybe you shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much, a schoolteacher who decides to manufacture and sell crystal meth).  What I did instead was set my dvr to record The Waltons—which airs daily on The ‘Up’ Channel—and I’ve been coming home from work each night for the last couple weeks and rediscovering this wonderful family all over again.

The cast (and shows creator Earl Hamner) was recently reunited for a reunion spread in Entertainment Magazine—pictured in front of the Waltons home, September 2013.  (Will Geer who played Grandpa Walton died in 1978; Ellen Corby passed in 1999.)

I’ll be honest here and admit that I didn’t really enjoy The Waltons in it’s heyday; we watched it off & on in the ‘70s (it was never ‘Must See TV’ like Happy Days or The Carol Burnett Show) and I can remember being bored with this assortment of actors and stories that just felt too ordinary.  Even their house seemed too simple, and plain.  And now those same things bring me real comfort, and joy inside.   

Smokin_Tipi

Thursday, October 10, 2013

To sleep perchance to dream… you might even call it a vision quest

visionquest

 

Okay, this is going to get weird—but I have something I’ve often thought about sharing here, and now I feel I can.  I recently watched this special on the Science Channel titled “Sixth Sense: Does it Exist?”  You know… ESP, extrasensory perception.  (If you were around in the 1960s-70s, this was a trendy topic.)  Anyway, they presented this study where scientists at Princeton University believe we’re all connected in some way, a “global consciousness”.  They demonstrated how this “cosmic brain” we share can be monitored via computer, and how historic events will cause it’s levels to spike.  (Similar to what an earthquake does to a seismograph.)

What made it particularly fascinating though was their readings on Sept 11, 2001, the day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.  On that date, the spikes went off the chart.  Understandable.  But what made this so intriguing was that the spiking occurred at 4:30am EST, 4-5 hours before the attacks.  These researchers felt this proved their theory that time as we measure it—the past, present & future—exists simultaneously, and given the right circumstances, our subconscious is capable of glimpsing into (what we perceive as) the past or the future.  I know, trippy stuff.  But I believe I once experienced such an event, and here’s what happened.

Way back in in the winter of 1983, when my sister Shawn & I were living in our grandmothers former house and sharing expenses, we were on a pretty tight budget.  Both of us were working minimum wage jobs, and most things (like heat) were considered luxuries.  I daydreamed regularly about winning the Lotto, and to a young man’s brain, a million dollar windfall seemed perfectly doable.

So one day at the library, I see this book titled “Self Hypnosis: Visit Past Lives & See the Future”.  I thought why not, got the book and read it earnestly.  And every night after going to bed, I’d use the techniques described in the book to try and induce a vision.  I would lie there and visualize the words “see the future, see the future” as I drifted off to sleep.  I never did see tomorrow’s lottery numbers, but for a chronic insomniac like myself I sure learned how to fall asleep fast enough.

Anyway, this went on for a week or so.  And then one night (after my ‘future’ chant) I fell asleep and experienced a VERY vivid dream.  I was standing on the walkway outside of Murphy’s Mart (the department store where my sister & I worked) and there was a noise in the air, like an oncoming train.  I looked up just in time to see a small plane dive nose-first into the parking lot directly in front of our store.  The plane smashed into a couple of cars and erupted into flames, and I could feel the heat from the burning fuselage on my face and the backs of my hands.  The air was heavy with the smell of fuel.  And then suddenly someone appeared beside me and handed me a newspaper, and said “Mr. Rumskey thought you’d want to see this”.  (Mr. Rumskey was our store’s manager.)  I looked down at the paper and saw an article about that same plane crash right in front of me.

When I awoke that morning, I wasted no time telling my sister about it.  She said “wow, some dream” and I said no, no—it was more than that.  I was there.  It’s hard to explain, but I felt some weird compulsion to share it with anyone who would listen.  And later that day at work, I did just that—I told everyone at the store.  

It was only a week or so later when it happened:  I was leaving the store at the end of the workday, and had just gotten out the front doors when Sandy W. (a friend & coworker) followed me outside and said “Doug, I’m glad I caught you.  Mr. Rumskey thought you’d want to see this.”  She handed me the local paper and sure enough there was an article about a small plane crashing into a department store’s parking lot.  

Feb19-1983

 

The front page of the Observer Reporter, from February 19, 1983.  Click on the paper to read about the tragic accident

No it wasn’t our store, of course; the crash occurred across the country in another department store’s parking lot.  But there it was on the front page of our local paper—and there I was, in the same spot in front of our store where I was handed a newspaper in my dream a week or so earlier.

In the days that followed, I tried in vain to have another one of these ‘visions’, but no such luck.  (And I never won those millions in the Lotto either.)

 

I know what you’re probably thinking, I’ve often told myself the same thing; it was just some crazy dream, God knows we’ve all had them.  But there’s still a part of me that knows it was more than that—and now, after watching that special on the Science Channel, who knows… maybe it’s time I tried this again!  

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