No one can break the cycle but me

So, I have been able to hide from myself under the guise of my subculture for most of my life, the true self revealed in quiet, out-of-the-way moments, in foreign lands, under the influence of being under the influence.

It’s easy to sit in a cabin in the woods, free to let my true thoughts wander, find their way here, rather than have to face truth-or-consequences in society at large with my actions.

When I jumped back on Facebook for a day, reading the posts of people from my past — childhood friends, classmates, neighbours, workmates, etc. — I can only guess they are who they say they are.

I was never quite myself with them.  I was the people pleaser, seeking to perpetuate the image I was raised to project — a white, middle-class, monogamous Protestant American man/boy.

In my thoughts, though, that’s not who I am.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

True, I derive some comfort from seeing the subculture in which I was raised is still loved and cared for.

I admit affirmation of my external self is a form of comfort food.

But it only lasts so long until the internal selves are torn by the conflict.

There are only a few reactions between sets of states of energy that I expect to be shared on this planet and then only in the context of my safe, sheltered subculture — equal treatment of members of our species whilst recognising that competition for resources is inherently unequal (for many reasons, geography chief amongst them); that is, life is unfair.

Otherwise, I don’t personally practice any particular religious rituals except when needed to motivate people to accomplish tasks for the sake of populating the inner solar system; I don’t personally work for a military organisation that needs to demonise people in order to build market share but I benefit from those who do; I don’t personally have a stake in political officeholders but I once financially contributed to the campaign of one political party while at the same time was paid to deliver pamphlets for the opponent’s political party.

I am a people pleaser and I am an opportunist.  I am neither psychopath nor sociopath but can study their behaviours and act like one if it means we get a permanent Martian colony in return.

There are days when pretending to care about my subculture is a real drag, but I realise the alternatives can be much worse.

I often wonder why I stay married except I fear that if I, an Eagle Boy Scout who once received a U.S. Navy ROTC four-year scholarship to Georgia Tech, don’t believe in marriage, who will and if nobody does, what’s going to happen to the moral/ethical/religious fiber that we have said historically binds our subcultures together?

But then I look at our American society, which is supposedly composed of 46% of the population that is not married, and it’s doing all right.

Of course, it’s not the same as it once was.

Historically, the American Century was a geographical miracle of wars devastating foreign governments, creating global business competition which gave the impression that the American people (“give us your tired, your hungry, your poor”) were extra-special.

Having a monoculture that dominates the mass media (creating/perpetuating mass hypnosis) will give the impression that the monoculture’s unique traits are the ingredients that make people who they are; thus, premises can lead one to conclude that the American people were extra-special because the dominant monoculture was extra-special and the impression many had was the dominant monoculture was related to Judeo-Christian principles (and some would say it was 98% Christian and 2% Jewish (in fact, a few down here in the Deep South would shout it was 100% Christian but let’s not shout too loud just yet without the facts)).

I can only speak from experience and, in my five+ decades of living, I have observed that many who enjoy a relatively troublefree life of conformity to the Judeo-Christian subculture(s) are happy when they fully believe in and want to stay within the boundaries of those belief sets, regardless of small differences that have arisen over the years due to interpretation of the major religious texts and its various translations.

By extension, in larger subcultural subtextual context, we have belief sets associated with musical tastes; e.g., are you are Garth Brooks or Beyonce fan?  Is there any reason you can’t be both?

Can you be both a Christian and an atheist?

Does the way Miley Cyrus or Beyonce shakes her booty on stage teach feminist values better than a lifelong politician like Margaret Thatcher or Hillary Clinton?

In other words, our associative comparisons make us who we are.

By hiding here in the cabin in the woods, I can compare myself to the rest of the world and see I’m happy by comparison because I don’t have to do much to prove myself day after day.

In the 27+ years I have been married, there have only been two women who virtually held a mirror up to my face, asking me if being married to my childhood friend who has stood by me in my best and worst moments is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with: Brenda and Abi.  In both of them, there was never a request to divorce my wife and marry one of them, instead, so I have been able to safely and happily use their unspoken question about my relationship to my wife as not personally motivated by them.

Their lifestyles not associated with a church, free from many expectations of social conformity, were the mirrors.

Both have been married and are divorced.  One told me she loves women.  The other told me she recently discovered she’s polyamorous.

I, too, love women.  I, too, recently [re]discovered I am polyamorous.

Therefore, it behooves me to ask myself the question, if my marriage bed has grown cold, if monogamy has lost its meaning to me, why, except for perpetuating my subculture and its current/historical ties to society at large, except for the comfortable financial conveniences that marriage still affords, except for the fact that my wife and I have known each other since we’re 12 and are generally compatible, am I still married?

My wife wants me doing something that brings more income into our household.  The last time I was in that situation, I saw how much I could afford to separate myself from her and put my childhood community behind me…permanently.

I admit it scared me at the time, traveling and working internationally, how much I desired to cut [some but not all] ties with a subculture I no longer believed in but was willing to keep up appearances for friends and family of old because it really isn’t all that bad but I might disappoint a few people if I acted upon my beliefs and not theirs.

When I jumped back on Facebook, I realised that with the hundreds of people there, I was accepting of whatever changes they had made from when I lived in the same community with them — married, divorced, childless, grandparents, nonheterosexual, godless, etc.

In other words, what am I worried about?  Why this unfounded fear of one particular change in my life?

I can talk until I’m blue in the face or, as encouraged by a woman who whispered in my ear this week, I can act on the belief it’s time for me to step up and be a man.

Ultimately, all I want is for our species to expand into the universe.  The rest of this is forgotten jibberjabber.

If I spend time worrying about hurt feelings, I’ll never get anywhere fast.

Cats and rats

Living amongst nature has its…well, its costly moments.

When our cats were younger and more agile, they would leap from the carpeted floor to the carpeted cat tree to a tower speaker to the stereo equipment cabinet and on top of our 55-inch Toshiba projection TV monstrosity of a box.

As cats are wont to do, especially in the most inconvenient places, they would vomit while on top of the TV.

Cleaning the front of the TV is easy.

However, when the cats hurled their abuse behind the TV, it was a…less than…than getting an act of Congress passed to clean up the resulting mayhem.

I would wipe up the drying detritus but had at one lazy moment or two, not wiped the dangling wires clean.

Enter the dragon.

Or, rather, Rattus roofus, with teeth like dragons, and an appetite to match.

I did mention that rats had chewed their way into our cabin in the woods, right?  Our respite of domestic bliss?

Well, if not, your reading previous posts will not matter because the matter at hand is what’s the matter.

One spark away from a burned-down domicile’s what I’m talking about.

We have had no cable service in our living room for several days (about four or five).  I had worked with our cable service provider to no avail and will seek reimbursement for the inconvenience once we tally the days without cable service should service ever get restored.

In the meantime, I traced the physical cables behind the stereo equipment cabinet and found a chewed coax cable that was connected to the TV’s TV Out port but nothing else (the cable from wall to converter box and from converter box to TV was fine).

Not only that but the power cable to the TV was nearly chewed in two.  Amazingly enough, a single strand of copper was all that kept power going to the TV and the darn thing still worked!

Of the dozen or so cables, only three were chewed (the third: a wire to the left rear speaker of our 5.1 surround sound system was chewed in half).

Examining the chewed places, they seemed to correspond to where the cats’ spewed displeasure had dropped and dried.

Cats and rats and emesis…mmm!  Sure as you’re born.  Oh yeah, don’t you forget the unicorn.

Cables repaired.  Waiting on our cable TV provider to activate our new box.

Meanwhile, Roku entertains via Pandora.

Can you divorce your clone?


The rat trap clamped its plastic claws shut in the crawlspace of Lee’s home.

Back on Earth, Lee returned to his favourite hideout, away from curious onlookers, far from paparazzi and their pesky drones — his home, his cabin in the woods.

Half-asleep, he looked up at the stars, but it was not the white, sparkling dots that woke him from a late evening nap.

A tiny black shape, outlined by stars, galaxies and planets, grew bigger, as if…

As if a spider was dropping from the ceiling.

It was.

Lee ran through the mental map of his head, the unexplained red bumps and festering sores of the past two days quickly coming into focus.

* * * * *

Guin straightened her posture, reaching for the perfect core dance position.

Her dance instructor, a teacher of teachers, Plantainyifan, made Guin adjust her position by sucking in her stomach a quarter-inch more, turning and tilting her head an eighth of an inch back and to the right.

“There!  Now hold your position for five minutes! When I return, I want to see you have not moved.  If so, then we will start this all over again until you get it right!”

Guin sighed by letting a single cubic centimeter of air puff out of her nose.

* * * * *

Rolenmec completed repairs on the replicator.

Meant to simulate the physical quirks and habits of Earth-based humans, the electromechanical products of the replicator, known in the trade as “Daft Drafts,” acted on behalf of their original counterparts, carrying out tasks and taking adventures that the Earth-based humans desired but did not want to increase biochemical damage from space travel and extended living periods on Mars’ surface.

* * * * *

Lee watched as the spider dropped to a futon armrest.

The spider’s eyes reflected the flame of a coffee-scented candle Lee had lit for smells he could not get on Mars.

An object like a ninth leg stuck out from the spider’s body.

Lee realised the spider was not natural-born.  The ninth “leg” was an antenna.  This was a land-based drone, designed to use web-like strands to move between distant objects, avoiding even the tiniest whirring sound of a flying drone.

Lee ran a systems check of his body, a habit he had dropped two days ago for no explainable reason after returning to his home planet.  Sure enough, he detected foreign objects in his skin and blood, objects which had attached themselves to many internal body parts.

He kept a few strips of artificial skin in case of emergency cuts.  Reaching into his pants pocket, he applied a strip of skin to his forehead and pulled the bedcover over his head, exposing only a small area in the center of the artificial skin.

Thirty seconds later, Lee felt the spider insert its “jaws” into his artificial skin.  Lee closed the bedcover around the spider and flicked it into a beer bottle on the end table beside him, pressing a coaster over the beer bottle opening as he carried it to his closet laboratory.

* * * * *

Guin felt sore but relieved after the six-hour dance training session.

Having cracked her ribs too many times to remember, often in line with the 11 times she’d had a head concussion, dancing either made her rib cage hurt or feel better.

Today, she felt better, thanks in large part to her friend, fellow dance instructor, and personal masseuse, Bai.

Bai had been working with Guin for a few years, showing her the way African dance movement flowed right into the Western dance techniques Guin had learned as a child.

Guin grew up on a farm, playing with cows and breaking in horses, in addition to her boxing matches, offroad races and skydiving shows that kept her upper body in shape and her reflexes heightened for quick, athletic weekend ballet performances.

She married her sweetheart soon after high school, presumably “until death do us part,” but, six years later, Guin found herself in a lawyer’s office, revising a divorce agreement over custody of a dog.

Not just any dog.

Not natural-born, anyway.

Her dog and the dog’s sister were identical clones.

Although she had cloned the dog herself while at a veterinarian’s office — the vet a friend of Guin’s father, both of whom had taken Klingon language classes together and spoke the language fluently, a passion not passed on to Guin — Guin’s soon-to-be ex-husband had grown fond of the dog and wanted to take custody even though the dog had been cloned a year before he and Guin were married.

* * * * *

Lee placed the artificial skin patch under a microscope and zoomed in on the area where the spider had inserted a few foreign objects.

Lee spoke out loud.  “Self replicators?”

He watched as the objects reproduced themselves, splitting apart like single-cell organisms, but instead of identical copies, the next “generation” seemed to be specialized for attachment to specific chemical signatures.

That at least explained why the objects in his body seemed to congregate at certain points and in only a few organs.

* * * * *

Rolenmec scanned the latest batch of Earthian profiles, amazed at how commonplace most of the tasks and adventures that were requested by timid Earth-based humans afraid to take the long trip here.

Why did no one want to conquer the planet or make Mars a jumping off place for points unknown, one’s replicated body nearly indestructible, able to travel light-years with little maintenance required?

One profile caught Rolenmec’s eyes.

To protect Rolenmec from knowing whether a replicated body he met on Mars was one he had replicated himself, the names of the Earth-based humans was not part of their profiles.

Surely, though, Rolenmec would know this “person” when he met it.

It was no person at all.  The profile requested that the body shape be that of a spider, a spider that was to return to Earth with a batch of life science experiments.

The spider’s sole function was to “bite” people, insert a few microorganisms that contained code which caused their reproductive offspring to spread through their host and turn into a large broadcast antenna, sending signals from a source not mentioned in the Earth-based human’s profile.

“Now that’s what I call a real dream!”

Rolenmec activated the profile and started the replicator.

* * * * *

Guin noticed her dog had been acting strange lately.  She compared her dog to the dog’s sister and noted an infection had caused the dog’s joints to swell.

She took the dog to the vet because Guin did not recognize the genetic code of the infection.

The vet, too, was perplexed.

* * * * *

Lee felt a strange sensation.

It was as if he had suddenly received all the memories Guin had lost after a bad wreck in a Mars dune buggy race a few years ago.

Arguments, pain, years of childhood dance lessons, horseback rides on Earth, schoolwork, love, migraine headaches…

His thoughts were overwhelmed by new thoughts not his own.

He walked into his office and sat down as the central nervous system mapping station.

* * * * *

Rolenmec felt dizzy.

He put his left hand to the wall and slid to the floor, stopping himself with his right hand, which looked red and puffy.

He ought to remember what he was just doing but he couldn’t.

The…the replicator?  Was it still on?

A spider flung itself out of the replicator and landed on the wall above Rolenmec, followed by another.

Rolenmec’s head swam.  Were the spiders heading for the lab hallway?  How many were there?

* * * * *

Guin’s dog playfully bit the vet on the wrist, jumped up and down, its tail wagging, and bit Guin’s little finger.

The vet shrugged her shoulders as if to say the dog was just overexcited.  “I’ve taken a blood sample and will let the ISSA Net analyse it overnight.  You should have the results before you wake up tomorrow.”

Guin and the vet absentmindedly wiped drops of blood from their new wounds.

Guin took the dog for a walk and then returned to her flat in the main Mars compound.

* * * * *

Lee sent a mental image directly to Guin’s thoughts across the ISSA Net emergency message channel, reserved for important interplanetary communications.

“What was the last memory you remember before the wreck?  What is the first memory you remember making after the wreck?  Must know immediately but I think I can give you the answer already.  Don’t open your regular message inbox until after you’ve responded to this one.  See if I’m right.”

Lee returned to the futon and fell into a deep dream state.  He wouldn’t wake up for the next four days.

* * * * *

As soon as Guin saw Lee’s message in her thoughts, she recorded a response and sent it back.  She waited a few hours for Lee to answer but received nothing, not even the normal acknowledgement.

Feeling tired, Guin lay down with her two dogs and took a nap.  She wouldn’t wake up for the next 3.893 Martian sols.

* * * * *

Acting like an automaton, Rolenmec stood up, walked down the hallway and opened a door into the life science lab.  Several spiders followed him.

A few did not.

Instead, they headed toward the sleeping habitation rooms that specifically contained personal pets.

* * * * *

Lee woke up, having forgotten all the items on his daily to-do list.

Guin’s memories flowed through him as if they were his now.  He could not tell the difference nor was self-aware enough to know that he couldn’t tell the difference.

* * * * *

Guin woke up, her first thought that she needed to take her dog with her to work.

* * * * *

The veterinarian tried to reach Guin for four sols.  Meanwhile, she noted that the microorganisms the ISSA Net had isolated from the dog’s blood were remarkably able to modify their genetic code much faster than could be explained by natural evolution.

The vet sent a request on the vet hotline for crowdthink.

While waiting for a reply, the vet went from cage to cage biting the pets in her animal hospital, unaware she was doing so.

Swapping Shop Talk at the Slop Shop

I sit alone upon a hill, green grass overhanging rock outcrops, a row of fence posts marching down the slope, their steps frozen in single file, held together by wire.

A few spring flowers push up out of the dead brown patches where cows once grazed and left their marks.

Hieroglyphic lichen patterns hold the landscape fast.

Cloud shadows flow across the hills and valleys below.

I am home.

Home am I.

Happiness and freedom far from the cabin in the woods.

Wandering the countryside.


This is my universe, my place of rest, the activity of ions and atoms busy out of sight right here in front of me.


A sunny breeze tickles the tops of grass stalks.

My steps disappear behind me and reappear in front of me.


Farmhouses in the distance.


13,779 days to go…

Sigh…do you ever get bored with your species?

The same habits, day after day?

Eat, sleep, etc.?

As a comedic storyteller, I choose to entertain myself here in a common language of our species.

I suppose my thoughts aren’t much different.

For instance, what is hair?  I wandered between two discount hair cutting joints today — Cuts By Us and Great Clips — picking one that had fewer customers in the moment.

I suppose, for all that it matters, I could cut my own hair, not tied to fashion but dressing in common fashions of this time habitually anyway.

Maybe a mullet haircut, clipping the hair I can reach and letting the part I can’t reach grow long and unkempt.

Or a buzzcut, using an electric razor to keep my hair cut flush with my scalp.

Instead, I wander over to one of the three nearest hair/beauty shoppes (the other being Walmart) to reduce my travel time (yes, I drive a mile to get my hair cut, as concerned about caring for the environment as the next average person with a motorised transportation device on four tyres and extra cash to convert to motor fuel, rather than walk).

I am spoiled but not over-spoiled.

The 15-day land/cruise tour with Holland America taught me that much.

I’m not used to people waiting on me 24 hours a day, sleeping nearby and ready to jump up in the middle of the night to care for me.

I’m used to people working in 24-hour convenience stores, half-awake nearby and ready to ring up my middle-of-the-night food purchases without a care for me.

I live in a cabin in the woods, tending my thoughts like tending a garden, watching a whole galaxy swirl around me/you/us on a planet in a spiral arm, enjoying this brief moment of planetary/solar system calm, completely spoiled by the luxury of our surroundings, no matter how bleak they may appear in comparison to other parts of this planet.

We just don’t know how lucky we are, spoiling our environment to increase our relative luxuries.

Should I care?

Should you?

Would it matter if our actions today created detrimental effects 100 years from now when most of us are gone (argon, the gas, still around either way)?

There’s no guarantee I’ll be alive tomorrow, the next day or the next decade.

Should I care about preserving the environment, or should I say, “Hey, eat, drink and be merry!”?

I think I’ll continue to conserve my resources in case I live a few decades longer than this moment.

I have no legacy to protect.

Just a storyline to maintain.

I need space for this virtual pen and paper to write these blog entries.

Sharing time with my wife, family, friends, pets and wild animals/plants around us.

Tomorrow: 13,778 days to go, or so it seems…

Walking on sunshine

I wonder how much I can trust the person we gave my old job if he didn’t even bother to change the password.

Anyway, this is Rick.

Many years ago, a path was cut through the woods owned by the local land baroness, Margaret Ann Goldsmith.

After the path was cut, TVA power poles were raised and strands of wiring strung high in the air like trapeze artists use, arching from one pole to another over hilltops and roadways.

At first, I was sad to see the forest cut down.

Then, the scientist in me stepped forward, taking notes on the change in flora and fauna.

Today, as I walked underneath the lines that are there only in case of emergency and note used regularly, I found a ripe passionfruit.

But this was a rare subspecies, the “Nectar of the Gods,” the local natives called it.

I hold it in my hands.

The aroma alone is making my writing difficult.

I would venture to guess that driving is inadvisable at this time.

I stood and watched bumblebees fumble into the passionfruit flowers on the vine and fly away drunk.

Would I have found this natural gateway drug if Margaret Ann hadn’t sold the rights to TVA to remove swathes of mature trees and underbrush from her land, just barely a stone’s throw from where her father sold property to the builder of my cabin in the woods?

I feel giddy, mischievous, desiring to pull a joke on someone.

Should I change the password of this account and see how the person who took over my network responds?

You don’t always have to be taller and stronger to win…hehe…we rarely forget the lessons we learned the hard way, rather than reading about them in books!