“Being” (on a team) in the Rain

I learned to “be” in the rain on a small, beautiful, green island in the Carolines we called “Yap.”

Oh, sure, I had been “CAUGHT” in the rain, but generally, rain was something to get OUT of.

We were stationed on Guam aboard the Mallow, a 180’ multipurpose, seagoing buoy tender, ice breaker and cargo ship, and part of our mission was to handle logistics for a huge piece of the western Pacific Ocean. For reasons I never knew, there was a need on that beautiful green island for as much 145 octane aviation fuel … “Avgas” … as you could pile onto a 180’ buoy tender.

                                  The United States Coast Guard Cutter Mallow WLB 396

So we went to work.

Steel 55 gallon drums, each weighing somewhere near 500 pounds … in this case full of one of the most explosively flammable fuels in the world … are handled in sets by a steel chain device we called a “barrel chine.” The chine is devised so that it can pick up as many as four 55 gallon drums at a time, on their sides. Each drum we loaded had to be tipped from standing to lying on its side and rolled into place among three others. Then the chines were hooked over the rims of the barrels and 220 gallons (about a ton) of 145 octane Avgas was lifted, suspended, swung through the air and placed on the steel deck of the ship. Each barrel was then rolled across that steel deck and tipped back upright into its position among the growing load.

We started as far aft on the buoy deck as we could, right up against the turtleback, and we stocked 55 gallon drums of Avgas snugly against each other in a growing uniform blanket forward across the deck. We tucked as many of them on that buoy deck as we could, right up under the fo’c’sle.

Then we stacked another layer on top of that one. One hundred twenty six lifts.

Five hundred and four steel 55 gallon drums of Avgas sat strapped down on a steel deck in the tropical sun. Twenty seven thousand gallons of Avgas, in steel drums, sat either on a steel deck, or stacked on another layer of steel drums, in the sun, in Guam.

We dragged out every single fire hose and fog nozzle aboard. A fog nozzle is a fire suppression tool that turns water from a fire hose into a fog that is actually dense enough to cause difficulty breathing. It smothers flame. We lashed them to the stanchions along the aft edge of the 01 deck on the foc’sle. We lashed them to the boom, facing both directions. We lashed them to everything we could possibly lash them to and we hooked them up to the VERY high pressure VERY high capacity salt water fire fighting pumps.

… and we “set sail.”

There was “No Smoking on the weather decks.”

Clearing the sea buoy out of Apra Harbor we turned for Yap. Crossing over the Challenger Deep in the Marianna Trench, we bore south through the afternoon and the drums heated on the buoy deck as we shouldered our way across a beautiful calm Pacific Ocean under a full tropical sun. As the Avgas evaporated in the heat, pressure built in the drums and their steel ends would “reset” under that pressure, producing a loud, deep, resonant, metallic “PLANNK!”

Those drums that reset were now pressurized containers full of Avgas, each holding a head of heated vaporized aviation fuel under pressure.

After the sun set, throughout the relative cool of the deepening night, the pressure dropped in those drums and the steel ends would “reset” again, with the same resounding, loud, metallic “PLANNK.” It was audible in every corner of the ship except the engine room, where the two eight-foot-high gray Buddha engines cranked away.

We reached Yap in the afternoon of the next day.

… and as we arrived it started to rain.

Now, people who’ve lived in Florida for a while have seen this kind of rain. Water cascades from the clouds in volumes that seem to fill the air to near capacity. There is no wind … there is no lightning … just a constant, unchanging, rushing straight down pour. Distant sounds simply don’t reach through the cascade, and the location becomes very close as the rain also restricts visibility to a few dozen yards. Everything past the near distance is simply a uniform silver gray. It seems impossible that that much water could fall from the clouds that constantly for that long.

… and it does.

As a Florida native I had seen such rain … but it was something you “came in out of” unless you “didn’t have enough sense.” If it was raining like that, things didn’t happen. People didn’t go to church. Eighteen wheelers pulled off roads seeking safe shelter. You only went out there if … say … your house caught fire.

“Rain” like that was for “getting out of.”

… and we reached Yap in the afternoon, and it rained … it just … poured … and it was time to offload five hundred and four 55 gallon drums of 145 octane aviation fuel, tipping them onto their sides, rolling them into place, and hooking them up four at a time to be lifted off the steel below them, either the first layer of barrels or the steel deck itself, and swung off across the rail and onto the dock, where each load of four was set down on the concrete, and each barrel rolled into place and set back upright.

There was no “rain gear.” It would have been useless, almost like wearing a poncho in a swimming pool but not quite. We just walked outside into the rain dressed in dungarees and hardhats and shirtless except for “working” life vests … and were just about instantly soaked to the skin, almost as fast as if we’d just jumped overboard. Even our steel toed boots were full.

… and we tipped, and rolled, and hooked up, and lifted, swung, set down and rolled into storage 504 500 pound, steel 55 gallon drums of Avgas in a rain that would have drowned a catfish …

grinning like mules eating cactus.

It … was … WONDERFUL! A nice warm tropical downpour, and … you couldn’t have struck a spark out there with an arc welder.

It was almost a dance and we grinned and dripped and wrestled and tipped and clinked and swung and easily, efficiently, swiftly and expertly got that 27,000 gallon bomb OFF OUR SHIP.

Five hundred four ON … 126 lifts … five hundred four OFF … another 126 lifts… flawlessly. Two hundred and fifty two lifts. Not one … single … slip … drop … bump … not … one.

… and that was the day I learned to “be” ( on a team ) in the rain.

10 3 12

A Night on Duty at Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet

Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet sat on what was largely a spoil island that resulted from the dredging of the shipping channel, turning basin and Port of Palm Beach, just inside a gap in the Atlantic coastal barrier islands, which were decorated north and south with the manors and estates of Palm Beach. The inlet had been dredged into a ship channel and there was a jetty at either side, huge rocks stacked from the ocean floor to form ship-shredders that reached offshore into the Atlantic Ocean. The inlet drained a section of the “inland waterway” that was probably fifteen or twenty miles up and down the east coast of Florida and at times a LOT of water coursed into and out of that narrow channel.

It was an idyllic setting, really it was … and the current through that inlet combined with the winds periodically turned it into a thrashing, crashing, pounding chaos … and the Coast Guard had deemed it sufficiently dangerous that it bestowed upon the station a brand new 44 foot, self-righting motor surfboat:

Ours was 44371

Tough as nails, two Jimmy diesels powering twin bronze screws, built for the rough seas, tested across the Columbia River Bar. If it capsized … turned upside down … it was designed so that in seventeen seconds it re-righted itself. All the seats had seat-belts. The diesel engines produced a roaring throaty note under power, being exhausted into an 8” pipe that crossed the boat and opened to both sides so the engines could not be drowned. They were designed to be able to run inverted.

Late one chilly winter evening a tug pulled out of the Port of Palm Beach towing an oil barge. It was headed for Miami overnight south along the coast. As the passage progressed the weather deteriorated and a powerful onshore wind carrying a chilly drizzling rain rose off the Atlantic driving a rising sea and surf.

I was “Deathly Ill.” It was a flu-ey thing I think and I had a parching fever, a sore throat and I had chills and aches and pains … and

I had duty.

I was on “The Duty Boat Crew.”

At about eleven P.M. (2300) we received a distress call. A tug with a barge in tow had lost power at sea and they were being blown onshore.

We didn’t have one of those signs over the door like they do at some stations … you know:

“You have to go out.

You don’t have to come back.”

… and we understood it anyway. A tug and barge were adrift in a strong onshore wind and rising sea down the coast from us.

We were underway, roaring. I don’t even remember going out the inlet or turning south. I recall taking the message that the barge was aground on the beach and the tug had set an anchor near, but outside, the surf line. We were to reach the scene and “stand by” to render any further needed assistance.

I was in foul weather gear and so sick that once we were on scene I simply curled up on deck right there … and drifted in and out of sleep listening to the diesels below …

At three in the morning, after a night idling in the bitter wet Atlantic wind, just outside the surf line near an anchored tug, the radio cracked open.

“The tug has lost anchor and is being set onto the beach … toward the barge.”

The two Jimmys howled in the exhaust port and we turned for the beach at flank.

I ran to the stern to ready the tow line for passage as we rode before an increasingly steep swell toward the tug, now partially turned abeam to the seas. The coxs’n turned alongside and I passed the line to the tug crew, who fastened it to the towing bit on their stern. They tossed it over the first solid thing they reached. If the old man’d had a hard-on, they’d’a lassoed that at that particular moment …

… and we powered up, turned offshore into the sea and took a strain on the tow line.

… and the tug turned sideways in the swell and we realized that we were attached to their stern bit and they still had the beached oil barge in tow. We were laboring in a head sea, against a high wind, tied to a tugboat turned in the troughs, nearly in the surf, laboring to pull a grounded oil barge off the beach.

It was hopeless. We could keep a strain on the tow line and maintain a stationary position, or sweep side to side, head or bow quarter on to a steep pounding swell, holding the breached tug off the beach .… until further help arrived … or the fuel ran out.

We labored there for a while … I don’t know for how long … and the problem resolved:

I guess the tug surged in one direction and we in another in the seas … and the tow line parted with an explosive crack.

… and there we were, maneuvering in a steep sea, trailing an unknown length of nylon tow line, approaching another unknown length of nylon tow line to reach a broached tug, now just peaking on the surf break, and try to keep it and its crew from being rolled through swells and against the barge in the roaring surf.

I ran to the stern and found the tow line and began to haul in the cold soaking double-braided nylon in six foot bights. We were maneuvering toward the tug, which we had to reach with our stern, where I was standing, and pass that length of soaked nylon line to them. The stern was bucking and tossing underfoot as we backed down onto the tug. Someone had woven their arms around my ankles.

I wound up from the very soles of my feet and threw the coiled line as hard and as far as I could.

… and missed.

… and there we were again, maneuvering alongside a tossing tug in the rising surf with a coiled towline in the black water off the stern near the props.

I pulled it in as hard and as fast as I could and ended up with it coiled in both hands as the coxs’n rode the rising seas backward toward the tug … the stern rose … and then plunged … my ankles were tightly held, I remember the warmth …

… and the 44 hit bottom and shot back upward, and as we rose above them I threw the line as hard as I could and as far as I could and it landed on deck inside the rail alongside their wheelhouse. If we had struck bottom the tug almost HAD to be pretty much aground in the surf.

They secured the tow line around their forward bit, threw off the barge, and we took a strain as smartly as possible and we … began … to PULL …

… into the surf … into the wind … on a grounded tug beam-on inside the line of breaking surf.

… and she turned … her bow swung into the swell … and I saw her stern rise as the sea passed under it.

She was afloat.

She was under way … they were in tow.

We moved out of the surf, offshore and turned for home.

We towed them through the rest of the dark morning, north toward Lake Worth Inlet and the Port of Palm Beach. We swung far out to sea to shoot the inlet as swiftly and in as straight a line as possible … I don’t remember taking the tug alongside for the passage, so they must have had steerage.

The night seems to have settled somehow by then. I don’t recall any anxiety at towing the tug through the inlet so things must have settled some, perhaps the tide was running out.

… and then we were inside the harbor, in the calm. The sun was just below the horizon in that part of the day when the bronze just shows some rose in the sky but there’s no heat in it yet, and the rest of the sky is still a crisp cold black, and we brought them into the safety of the turning basin and gently put them alongside a pier and they tied up.

There were handshakes … and we went home

… and so did they.

Another Day in the Boats

He came to Lake Worth Inlet from somewhere up in “The Great Northwest,” another life boat station but along the Pacific Coast. He was an “Engineman.” (aka: a “snipe.”)

He looked around at “Peanut Island” and our cozy, very affluent surroundings … at the nice, gentle, blue-green Atlantic Ocean out beyond the inlet … and scoffed.

HE … was a “salt” … HE came from where the “Real Weather” was. We were just shallow water sailors in pretty boats on a calm tropical island chaperoning the upturned noses of the pre-teeners roaring up and down the Intracoastal Waterway in daddy’s V-8 Donzi.

Why, we even had a ski boat. Pfffff … reeeally??!

Seventeen feet long, the glass runabout was powered by a Chevy six cylinder mill that turned a MerCruiser stern drive. It was the “update” for what was basically a powered rowboat we had been using as a “liberty launch” to and from the island.

… and it did have a “ski bar” fixed across the stern. We all took one look at it, looked around at each other and said, “Pursuit boat …” The throttle was “governed” to limit … velocity … and the engineers quickly learned to “UN” govern that bitch … and let’er rip … a few hundred pounds of fiberglass floating a six cylinder engine. Someone who understood these things had installed a thick stainless steel grab bar on the dash forward of the passenger seat … heh heh …

She was a rocket, a skipping stone. Being among the “Duty Seamen” and a striking coxs’n I frequently enjoyed handling her. Oohhhh, yes … I did enjoy that!

So, “Salty” the Engineman had been there a little while, a little, uneventful “while.” Just a liiiiittle longer a “while” than it took to get totally over listening to his “salty dog” crap and his scoffing derision.

He and I had the pursuit boat. We were between the Port and the Station in a cold, nasty, choppy Intracoastal Waterway. It was an “inland” waterway … and when the wind and tides ran in just the right directions, it’d “stand up” pretty good. It was walkin’ around on that afternoon. It was windy and it was cold and it was cloudy and we were bouncin’ around out there … doin’ … somethin’ … who knows …

… and the radio lit up: There was a man in the water, clinging to a sinking overturned boat east of the channel down by the Flagler Bridge.

“10-4 We are en route.”

I turned south … it was three miles down there … and I had a boat that could cover it in somewhere near three minutes … in the flat.

It was not … flat … and I took off.

I knew the boat. I knew the water … and I let rip everything I could, and we screamed down the Intracoastal, pounding and bounding and leaping.

It’s hard to describe exactly what that’s like. You have to watch the “incoming” seas and make adjustments in throttle and steering to pilot safely and the boat leaves the water a lot … and comes thumping down in huge spreading sprays … you try to keep the prop in the water … that’s important … and there are brief but repeated instances of … reduced gravity? …

And we did literally bound down the channel. She was a tough, powerful boat and we had a man in the water.

I was pretty much … taken up … with the job at hand and committed to the fastest possible approach to the scene, so I didn’t have time to look around at much … and I did get a “grin” in the midst of all that, when I glanced over to see two white-knuckled fists welded around that grab bar in front of the passenger seat … heh heh … eeyeah …

We reached the scene. There was a man up to his ears in the water reaching and clinging to the keel of a capsized boat awash in the chilly chop, and we slid alongside and pulled him out of the water, cold and pale … and alive.

… and the crew of Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet were only rarely thereafter regaled with tales of rough seas in distant places.

“Yeah, yeah … Wanna go f’r a ride?”  ;<)

“Aids” to “Air dales”

Sometime during my tour at Lake Worth Inlet, maybe after I made Bosun’s Mate Third Class, I was assigned the maintenance of the aids to navigation inside the Intracoastal Waterway between St. Lucie Inlet and Boca Raton.

Seems to me that’s about thirty miles. It’s a section of what’s known as the “I.C.W.” which runs along the entire East Coast of Florida. A charted channel, inside barrier islands and hence sheltered (for the most part), it is maintained at certain depths and is marked with day boards and with lighted markers on pilings along its length. Red triangular markers and square green markers define the channel in the daytime and red and either white or green flashing lights guide at night.

This day marker has an … accessory…

Here’s one with a light … no platform. Has to be reached from the boat.

You could navigate the channel through the dark by shining a light forward and searching for the Scotch-lite reflective borders and numerals that beam back at you, marking your course. A chart aboard will show each aid and mark the depths and the courses that keep you in the channel.

There are a LOT of those markers. Many are only wood or concrete pilings with plywood shapes mounted on them painted red or green and bordered and numbered with reflective tape. In critical places … turns … narrows … intersections, a light is mounted on the marker and it flashes in a certain color and pattern to identify that location at night.

They are called “Aids to Navigation.” or “Aids.”

Pretty original. huh?

Anyway, all along the coast someone is responsible for maintaining them … y’know, making sure they’re secure and facing the right way and that everything that’s supposed to be readable is … and … making sure the lights work:

The lights are triggered by sensors, come on at night, and have bulb changers in them which are motorized devices that sense whether the light is burning when it’s supposed to be. There are four bulbs in the changer so if a bulb fails, the changer rolls the next one around and the light continues to serve, unless all four bulbs burn out. They used to be run on batteries … lead acid batteries … that were sealed in a box on a platform. The batteries would go dead unless they were monitored and changed as needed.

… and I was given the job of seeing to it that every single one of those aids to navigation along a thirty mile stretch of the ICW was working properly.

Each and every one had a “sheet.” It was an official form, government, y’know, the ones with the numbers on’em? When I took over the job the paperwork on the station’s assigned thirty miles of aids to navigation looked as though it had been salvaged from a flood.

Every single visit to, and all the work done on, each and every aid was to be noted on a page for that aid. The dates on the forms I could find were almost as random as if they had been chosen by throwing darts at several years of calendars spread across a wall … utterly incomprehensible. There was no way to know what had or hadn’t been done, or when, or since when, or what might be due.

So I started fresh.

I had a boat: The “T.I.C.W.A.N.” … “Trailerable Intracoastal Waterway Aid to Navigation” … I think it was 19 feet long. Cathedral hull, big black square-lookin’ thing about 7 feet wide with a platform mounted over the coxs’n like a roof, just about at the bow for either reaching the day boards or climbing up to get onto the platforms to reach the lights and batteries. It was kind of a “Bow Rider” on steroids. Same six cylinder Chevy engine as the pursuit boat. Same MerCruiser out drive.

The TICWAN from astern in the boat.  This is not me.

This is SN Dan Yurcik and “Buster in the ”TICWAN.”

Same power … just not as fast … built for muscle, carrying and stability.

… and an engineer and I would careen up and down the ICW wide open and visit marker after marker … assessing the conditions … making notes … doing repairs … and that was pretty cool.

One evening, though, well after dark in the Florida mid-summer we got a call. There was a light out up in Hobe Sound … all the way at the north end of the territory. It twas the muggy, buggy, sweltering Florida summer … in the middle of what was at that time a vast salt water “coastal wetland” … a marsh …

The engineer rigged the “Thousand Yard Sealed Beam Lights” and we took off north. It was flat, glassy calm and I just let it eat, the engineer picking out green and red reflective markers with the lights and me flying among them … noting the conditions of the lighted aids as we passed them …

“working” … and we reached the bottom of Hobe Sound, slowed and began to search for the reflective borders and numbers on the board with the failed light.

“There it is.”

I throttled back and slipped into “neutral” and let the boat fetch upwind toward the foot-square concrete piling with the dead light on it … backed eeeeeassy to a stop as we reached it, and the engineer threw a line around the pile. I stood up, picked up the tool belt and the heavy flood/flashlight to work by up on the platform and climbed up onto the “roof” of the boat, then up onto the light. I switched on the flashlight and began to loosen the fasteners on the lens to check the changer and bulbs. There was an audible buzz … it grew louder. It was a high-pitched buzzing whine every Floridian knows.


A cloud … of mosquitoes … salt water, marsh mosquitoes, whining noisily … and swarming … thick … everywhere. They covered my face … they covered my hands … the back of my neck under my collar. It was nearly impossible to breathe without inhaling them … mouth … nose … it didn’t matter … wave them away and many would fly … most didn’t … like a coating.

I had to open the dome of the light, a plastic lens about the size of an old galvanized bucket, check the bulbs, and check the voltage from the batteries at the changer to make sure the thing was getting the right power. The mosquitoes covered every exposed trace of skin and I spit and sneezed them out and the engineer was flapping frantically and cursing with a fluency that only non-lethal torture can induce.

It seemed forever and I got the light returned to service, scampered down off the marker and plunked my ass into the seat with the wheel in one hand and the shifter and throttle under the other. He cast us off and I backed hard about three seconds with the wheel all the way against the stops on one side. When I knew the stern would clear, I spun the wheel over to the other stop, shoved the transmission “forward” and opened the throttle. The stern dug deep and swung, the boat leaned into the turn and we pivoted until we were pointed at water deep enough to run. I brought the wheel amidships and shoved the throttle open wide and we … took … OFF.

The warm, moist night whistled around our ears, accompanying the roar of the Chevy and the urgent “shushing” of the water under the divided hull … we fled.

… and we went home. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about our condition as we left.  Once that boat reached speed and the air rushing past swept away all the mosquitoes and we were running in the flat at flank speed I would have been a lot more attentive to coxs’ning a hurtling 19 foot hulking cathedral hull through the dark at top speed than I would to any mosquito bites at that time … and I don’t remember anything about the ensuing days that seems related to being swarmed by blood thirsty, stinging insects … I’m a Florida native … mosquito’s nothing new.

A new Engineman came aboard the station, second class I think he was, from up the coast somewhere. Tennessee boy, very businesslike, very “Coast Guard.” Good at it. He and I got on pretty quickly and I used to like him engineering my boat. He told me a story about his wife teaching him not to hit. He said he slapped her once one night pretty early in their marriage. He was satisfied he’d made his point and went to bed.

Said when he woke up the next morning there was a lock of his hair … and a straight razor … on his chest.

Point taken.

He hadn’t been there long and we took a call that a lighted marker was out down the waterway from us. I took the chart and I took a temporary marker buoy in case the thing was down. We rambled down there and looked around. I couldn’t find the marker and so I dropped the buoy where I thought it should be, made sure it was working and then we took off for home, radioing in the fact that “Marker (such-and-such) was down.”

The call went out to “District” that a lighted marker was down and a temporary buoy was on station in its place. District called in the crew of an inland construction tender stationed in Miami. It was a pusher and barge thing and they got underway and came up the ICW, ducking under bridges and waiting for the tenders to swing up center spans all the way from Miami to, I think it was, somewhere around north Lake Worth itself …


Something like this one.

… and they arrived on scene to find the marker in question standing right on station, just where it was supposed to be, with all the bulbs burned out.

They had come from Miami. They had brought the pile to drive and all the new markers and lights and batteries to replace what they thought was a downed aid to navigation in the Intracoastal Waterway, and arrived to find the marker intact. The bulbs were burned out.

I had misread the chart and called a whole ship fifty miles north up the Intracoastal Waterway to do something I could have done in an hour.

… and I think it was Christmas. Really …

Now … the Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet was a Warrant Officer … a man who had worked his way up through the enlisted ranks past Chief Petty Officer and become an officer. He didn’t much care for me anyway, probably owing, at first, to the general suspicion that I was an undercover Coast Guard Intelligence officer sent to his unit to investigate a cook who pretty clearly was … misusing funds. Add to that the fact that I was an arrogant asshole and you have the basis for our working relationship. There had been a few other … episodes:

I had come to the Port to pick him up one morning in the station’s forty foot steel utility boat:

A “Forty Boat”

The “Forty Boat” was an iconic and cherished working boat throughout the Coast Guard. Ours was 40485: twin engine, twin screw, steel hull, pull Hell right off its hinges if you could get a hitch over it.


A twin screw boat with rudders, like a forty boat, will waltz, ballet, polka or foxtrot under the loving and nimble hands of an experienced coxs’n. If you’re alongside a dock and you turn the rudder toward the dock and ease the engine on that side ahead while easing the other engine astern, that boat will “walk” absolutely sideways away from the dock.


I did that on the morning I picked up the “Ol’ Man …”


He looked at me as though I had just cracked a bean fart during the prayer at his daughter’s wedding.


I thought it was “Cooool!!!” … him? … not so much.


Sometimes as you navigate a shipping channel there will be a “range” to guide you. This is two huge rectangular billboards set on end, each with a stripe down the middle. To stay in the channel, you line the “Rear” and taller range up directly over the “Front” and lower range, lining up those two separate vertical stripes to form a continuous vertical line. Doing this keeps you in the channel. At night, there are two lights blinking in idiosyncratic patterns and you keep THEM lined up one above the other and accomplish the same thing.



See how they’re placed in the lower corner?


If the lights go out at night, the range is useless. If you’re in charge of maintaining the station’s aids to navigation and a light goes out … YOU get to fix it. Since the lack of either of the range lights renders the channel “invisible” … YOU … get to fix it … quickly.

… and sure enough, daarrrrk and eeeaaarly one morning I was awakened from my sleep and told the rear range light in the Port of Palm Beach was … “extinguished” … and it was my job to “UN-extinguish” it.


The rear range light in the Port of Palm Beach was on top of a building … on top of a steel tower on top of a building … on top of a steel tower “in excess of” 100 feet tall … on top of a building … on top of a steel tower in excess of one hundred feet tall, on top of a building up a steel rung ladder with no “back” … just two steel rails with rungs between them welded to the side of the tower in excess of 100 feet tall … on top of a building …


… and it was pitch-assed black, and “dewy” … and I notified one and all that the likelihood of my scaling that bare assed, wet steel ladder over one hundred feet up that tower in the black-assed dark was VERY … slim … in … DEED.


They promised me a court martial.


Sooo … I asked for one critical piece of information: Was there ANY ship traffic inbound that channel before dawn? There was a lot of sputtering and fuming and I was emphatically assured that such information was totally irrelevant to the fact that I had been ordered to climb that tower.


Well, I didn’t think so.


In fact, I insisted. Was there ship traffic?


Wellll … No … there wasn’t …


Then you don’t need my ass to scale that slick-assed wet ladder in the pitch-assed black dark to fix something no one’s gonna use … now do ya …?


I thought my logic was flawless in the matter.


The officer of the deck was much less impressed and utterly unconvinced and assured me that, “There are legalities involved.” and that I would be in the very middle of said “legalities” if I failed to carry out that order. I decided further inquiry was in order … just after I noticed that the sky was lightening out over the Atlantic …


… and we discussed the matter very, VERY thoroughly … until I was comfortable with not only the details of the situation, but, it turned out, the ambient light level … at which point I acquiesced humbly … and went over to the Port and climbed that tower in the very cool early morning light.


I must say that there was a point, probably seventy five feet or so up the ladder, when “climbing” gradually became a very … very … very … thoughtful … and … quite … deliberate … sequence … of … movements. First one hand released, reached up and firmly tested the next purchase, then, utterly welded to three points, weight was taken from one foot and it was raised to the very next rung and planted … firmly … traction tested … and with three new points of contact welded onto the ladder, the other hand released (This, it turns out, requires VERY firm instruction and VERY deliberate muscle command … and the mental urging against the action is VERY loud between the ears, something like a scream, actually.) and reached upward … et … cetera.


There was a rail around the platform where the light was, in excess of 100 feet up a steel tower, on a building. I don’t know who decided how high that rail should be, and I’m pretty sure whoever it was was WELL below six feet tall. The “rail” reached the part of my legs quite far beneath my center of gravity, such that leaning on it at all INStantly imparted the sensation of cartwheeling over it into freefall.

… and I “relamped” the rear range in the Port of Palm Beach, returned it to service, and spent a lovely hour at the top of the steel tower surveying my domain in the clear bright early morning. Most invigorating. Reverse above procedure for descent.


Another part of our normal duty was to sit watch in the radio room of the station, monitoring four radio frequencies, a telephone or two and a teletype machine (yeah … really … TTY) and regularly overnight we were to walk the couple of hundred yards down to the boat docks and open the hatches on the boats to prevent flooding and the loss of the boat. It was a pain in the ass and most of us more often sat in the watch room and drank coffee and bullshitted with the other guys on watch up and down the East Coast by TTY or gossiped with the local “Palm Beach Marine” operator by phone.


One night they “taped” the hatches … stuck tape across’em to show if they’d been opened. If ONE of us had gone to the boats overnight and opened the hatches the seal would have been broken.

No one did.

One at a time we were all called before the Ol’ Man. I absoLUTEly inSISted that I HAD checked the boats …


I lied …


… he didn’t buy it and he told me as much, but all he did officially was delay my weekend liberty by giving me two hours “Extra Duty” one Friday afternoon.


I was however, by that time, more or less enGRAVED very near the tippy-top of his “Shit List” and remained so from that time on, and despite my EXcellent official “on air” radio presentation, my flashing 100 WPM TTY speed, my genuine skill with the boats and my general affability, the cumulative effect was to motivate him to get me off his crew as soon as he possibly could.

… and so I ended up at Coast Guard Air Station Miami … at Opa Locka airport west of the city and just east of the Everglades. I became “General Service” on a unit of “Air dales.” “General Service” are the people who “support the mission” … onna counta we can’t DO “The Mission” … and barracks need cleaning, and buildings need painting, and parking lots need stripes, and switchboards need operators, and Detex clocks need to be punched through the night watches and … well, you get the picture.


I went from “Joe Coast Guard,” braving the seas and gales in dashing rescues, to “coxs’ning” a swab down a corridor in a barracks full of men who flew around in and worked on airplanes and helicopters and didn’t … give … a … SHIT … about “boats.”


It was quiiiiite an “adjustment.”


A Dios

         Early in the gray dawn, wet and dripping rigging frames the tattered, sullen, iron-gray sky.  Gray decks and rust-flecked white bulkheads pitch and roll deeply.  This has been a long, dark, restless night.  In the black morning hours the rain drove down hard, rushing and roaring on the steel decks.  Just walking has been a breathless adventure as I’ve gone along the ship tugging, checking, making sure nothing is working its way loose under the strain of the constant pounding.  Seas came smashing, soaring upward in black mountains draped and capped in luminous snowy foam, and water, tons of water, rising bridge-high and crashing down, often on deck, adding spice to my travels.


        Now the sky and sea are misty in the gentle, soft-gray light.  On the bridge, high above the deck, a ragged, circular expanse of ocean is emerging into sight, edges chopped with splashes of white.  The chilling rain has gentled now.


         In the water, away toward the edge … a contact.  Something is floating.  Something small and dark riding the surface.  The Captain is called and everyone who can lifts glasses from the rack and steps out onto the bridge wings. The helmsman, left at his wheel, attends to course changes and rudder commands as maneuvering begins.  Sharp eyes gather intently behind binoculars.

     An inner tube, a very large truck tube, can be seen now floating high on the surface, rocking and pitching crazily on the gray-green sea.  The engines slow, the all-pervading rumble falls in pitch and intensity.  Activity deep in the ship quickens.  Sailors stir in their bunks, fuzzy-eyed crewmen, called from their sleep by the changing engine sounds, begin to dress and make their ways topside. They are not particularly hurried.


         The tube, now easily in sight, is rigged.  Lines and coverings can be seen, nothing else.  Engines at stop, the ship slides slowly ahead, and the tube is laid along our port side.


         From the deck I can see the tube is sewn inside a burlap cover and a thin, frayed hemp line is sewn around it. Inside, slogging drunkenly in the shallow pool. are three green glass bottles tightly corked with palm heart.  They are unbroken, and full.  A bicycle pump is submerged and lying in the burlap bottom of the pool.  One well-worn glove, the kind used in punching a heavy bag, floats soggily within the tube.  A long white line trails down into the sea.   I cannot see its end beneath the ship.

        A long boat hook reaches the line and it is lifted into my hands.  Inside my head I beg softly and intensely that the line stays light,  achingly, urgently petitioning that somehow the someone who rode this insanely bouncing craft is still near….still well.  The line is wet, and cold, and long.  The end appears…it is empty.


        The waterlogged burlap is heavy and several of us struggle to lift the tube aboard.  Reveille has sounded and now the whole ship’s company is awake except those who stood watch from midnight till four A.M.  They are drifting sleepily, motionlessly conscious waiting for the uproar to subside and the lights to go out again.


         Business . . .stow inner tube and attendant gear after close inspection . . .

breakfast, . . . tend the caffeine habit on the bridge (including mine) . . . relieve the watch . . . announcements . . . check the ship once again . . . back to the bridge.  We have immediately begun to search from “here” in ever-expanding “squares”.  There are two or three extra lookouts above deck constantly and everyone, from stewards to enginemen to the executive officer, will at some time appear on deck to peer off into the distance . . . looking.


        How long and black was that night!  A rough, taxing, tedious night even aboard our 210 foot cutter. Where did he . . she . . they slip away?  When?  Was he there when I first saw the tube?  Did he see us?


         2:30 P.M. (1430 if you like)  We are charging now, headlong, covering the ever-increasing length of each side of each square quickly.  The day has broken to light winds, low choppy clouds and intermittent bright sunlight.  A high cloud cover adds brass and the ocean shines with it.  The air is translucent and I sit high up and forward in the bows.  The engines, laboring at full strength vibrate my perch and I rock side to side, forward and back, riding the familiar motion as the ship gallops through the moderate sea.


         And I look . . . quietly . . . off to starboard, scanning the choppy surface.  The sun is warm and the air rushes past in a roar.   Inside me is a low heavy ache, also a tiny, gemhard spark, that which “springs eternal” in humans . . . hope.  Slowly and deliberately scouring with sea-sharpened sailor’s eyes, reaching out over the hundreds of square miles of ocean . . . sitting.


So now . . .


         I hoisted your broken dream from the sea.  I am sad and felt alone, as though I knew you.  In the crude stitches and waterlogged burlap were written your determination, hope and courage.  I call upon you from time to time to remind me what freedom means to those without it, what courage is, how safe the world is for me, and that some dreams are worth the life that dreams them.  A Dios.


You are free.

Lost in the Web

Out with the big dog. Early morning mid-August Summer Sun clear and warm, and deep cool, damp shade under the oaks. Warm in the sun …

Across the yard, for some reason now long forgotten, I walk toward the azalea beside the garage. Irrespective of my initial destination, as I near the azalea I see a flash, apparently suspended in mid-air near the very leaf-end of a branch, razor-thin, iridescent and multicolor and shining brightly,

… and I stop.

… and loooooook … wow … a web … no, a single strand of silk … shining in the nine o’clock sun, a single strand of silk stretching away and up from the fringe of the azalea leaves.

First I just followed it a little way away from its end. The sun hits the silk in such a way that it reaches my eyes at slightly different angles and the result is … I see two razor-thin iridescently multicolor bolts of light before my eyes, and I follow those … at first just amazed at the perfection of the silk and the fact that there was no noticeable “sag” in this line traversing this opening.

I walked away briefly, yakkin’ at the dog and lookin’ around.

… and that sight called me back over there and I looked … to find at least four solid anchor lines on the azalea, arranged three at about the same level and one from underneath from a different leaf. Four strands joined seamlessly to form one, single, gleaming strand of silk stretching tautly across open space to reach,

… the lower leaves of a great Duncan grapefruit tree that volunteered just the right distance from the back fence about ten years ago,

… those leaves nearly twelve feet distant and a full foot and a half above the four point anchor on the azalea. One single silk thread blended from four anchors spanned nearly twelve feet while climbing over a foot and a half. The anchor on the Duncan is only a couple of strands and what looks like a fuzzy lump of glue.

I’m sure the neighbors were amused. The best angle for continuing to follow the glimmer of the sun along that silken strand called for distance not much exceeding a foot from it and, owing to its rise across the space, constant … postural adjustment? … is required.

… and we are treated to the sight of a(n “Older”) guy, barefoot, in brown plaid flannel PJ bottoms and a Will McLean T-shirt, hands on his knees, craning his neck downward while stalking back and forth sideways, bobbing up and down and adjusting his head position like a heron zeroing in on a shiner.

Then coming back and doing it again … for longer …

Why would anyone live anywhere else?

Y’all have a good day, ‘K?

How Exquisite is Flying?

Buzzard Spirit was a tidy, prim and certain little spirit, compact and capable, who tidied up and cleaned up around and around, sharp eyes focused on the ground around.

 Always cleaning, straightening up, tidying … “neatening” up … peering to the ground to see that not so much as a leaf be out of place …

 … and yearning.

 Buzzard Spirit felt Earth solid underfoot and tramped in resolute measure across the Land, warm and soft … and hungered sadly … for all was tidy everywhere around and Yes, the land was warm and soft and there was … something … something … in an expanse ungraspable … unseen and yet it was there … known even if never present.

 … and everything else, including what was happy and grand, was …

 Not It.

 ”How can everything be “Not It,” and “It” be yet unknown?” puzzled Buzzard Spirit … and happily tidied and cleaned up, knowing this to be Great Spirit’s wish for such a one, and all along and mixed among the gladness of known-calling-done-well was the soft ache for an unseen expanse, an unrealized “above” that stretched away in weightless freedom …

 “How … What … could that be?” … eyes to the Earth, puzzle upon question, “… so there and clear but only by absence!?”

and Buzzard Spirit caught sight of an angel in flight one luminous evening ere the quiet of Night

AAHH!! With heart having leapt and yet pounding Buzzard Spirit sought Great Spirit …

Great Spirit … would that I could fly as an angel! … What price?”

Great Spirit opened the Sky to Buzzard at that very moment and Buzzard Spirit soared on great broad wings so made from Sky that the tips of their feathers could tease and ride the breath of Butterfly …

and Buzzard Spirit soared effortlessly and ecstatically across the Sky, along the windy rivers and rising when they turned up toward the sun, spiraling higher and higher, afloat on the Sky.

Like that?” called Great Spirit?

Yes!! YES, Great Spirit …!! Just so!!! … What price, Great Spirit??”

Thinking on the vast gift, Great Spirit thought to test Buzzard’s resolve.

Buzzard … your broad wings of Sky shall be black, and you as well … but your neck and face, Buzzard … shall be nearly crimson, wrinkled and sagging and what “hideous” shall come to mean, Buzzard, and you shall yet make Our Earth clean and neat but now you shall clean her by what you eat.

You shall eat what has fallen, Buzzard Spirit.  What Death has claimed and set all Spirit free … what Lion Spirit has taken and left … what Hyena Spirit has found among the flies and maggots and has left … that, Buzzard Spirit … shall you eat all your days.

except when you sail from your rest, stretching your black wings of Sky to float around and aloft on the rising shimmer of the heated Earth, wheeling on the buoyancy of my Spirit with yours into the Sky I have given you, to turn on the Autumn winds and Spring, to soar along Southward and North across the mountains above all the Autumns and Springs in the Great Migrations …

is the price, Buzzard Spirit …

That is the price for the Sky, Buzzard … and you shall be called “Vulture.”

Looking over, Great Spirit was prepared to await the answer, certain the price would focus profound consideration as to the terms.

I’ll take it.” … before Great Spirit’s words were faded from the ear.

and Buzzard stood eagerly and came to inhabit “Vulture,” and to this day does rip and tear the tainted and fetid carrion from among the flies and maggots … wrinkled crimson, hideous face glistening with the putrescence … to look to the Sky’s embrace on broad wings and rise there within Great Spirit’s love and power and grace and soar … and soar … and soar …

and that … is “How Exquisite is Flying …”




Joyful Noise


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step…”


and continues with uncounted numbers of additional steps, each taken separately and sequentially.


In the Himalayas, if I recall correctly, among the Sherpa people, “hero” is defined as “One who takes one more step.”


So it is, I suppose, conceivable, that journeys can be started by anyone who can take a single step and often must be finished


by heroes.





From the 100th Psalm of the King James Bible….


A foundation which is an association of individuals committed to discovering, beginning, nurturing and carrying to completion the necessary communication for the purpose healing the injuries of Slavery.


We assert, based on our experience, that there is no issue that arises among people that cannot be resolved by complete communication.



We declare that all such communication is indeed a



…Joyful Noise…!


Form is not limited.  There is a single principle: Violence is not a form of communication.  Heated exchange, emotional experience, disagreement and upsetting utterance may be features of any powerful interaction.

  We listen fully, granting to all communication the assumption of truthfulness we would want others to grant to ours.  Our reactions are our own and, as an integral part of our humanity, they may be included as a part of our communication.  We are not required to agree with that which is communicated nor will we require agreement from others.  We listen on purpose to hear the totality of what is communicated and we hold it as honest human experience.

 Inquiry is a communication for requesting elaboration or information or for directing attention.  It is one operation in the development of compassion.  We inquire.

 Ignorance is the simple lack of knowledge.  Stupidity is insistent ignorance.  Arrogance is the stance that my stupidity is superior to your knowledge.  We fully realize that we are all ignorant, we will seek to reveal our stupidity, and realize we are likely to find ourselves arrogant, all within our commitment to further communication for the purpose of healing the injuries of Slavery.



 Section 2         

              I propose we finish a journey, you and I, that we do whatever it takes to complete a trek begun by our ancestors over four hundred years ago.  Since it is a journey we ourselves did not originate, if we are to complete it we will have to discover precisely where along the way we are and in which direction we wish to go.  We will disagree about these things, and much, much more.  We will suspect each other and distrust each other and we will become infuriated with each other.  In fact we already do, and we already have.   Any number of highly educated, well-known, respected people will tell us, and I will not disagree, that what I am proposing is ridiculous.  It is impossible, probably, uncomfortable, definitely.  Dangerous, too, people may die along the way.  Many already have.

             No one in history has ever completed this journey.  As far as I know no one has ever even considered it as a journey.  I say it is, and I say we can complete it.

             Why should you care what I say?

             That’s easy:  You shouldn’t.  I have no standing in the world to propose this.  No training, no degrees, no experience, so what I say is not what’s important.  Please read and think critically for yourself about anything I say.  What you think, what you find, what we learn, and what we DO is what will become important.



Section 3

             Communication:  Everyone communicates.  Anyone who hears the word “knows what it means”.  Just for the sake of clarity, though, let’s look at communication and come to an agreement about how we’ll use it here.

             Communication can be pretty basic.  It can consist of any noticeable change, some detectable flicker of light, muscle movement, presence of a previously absent sound, absence of one previously present, something noticeably changes, and it means something.  “One if by land…”   “When the chanting stops…” There is one condition, then a change, and it means something.  Clear enough:  Assuming we all agree on the meaning.

             Communication can be pretty complex, too:  Philosophy, calculus, organic chemistry…. love.  Decades can be spent discovering meanings, and discovering we don’t share meanings.  Two lovers gaze into each other’s eyes, “I love you.” he says, meaning “I have a profoundly pleasant feeling when I’m near you and I want to keep having that feeling,” She replies, “I love you, too.” meaning “I see in you all that completes me as a person, and you’re the opposite of my father.”  You and I now know something our two lovers do not:  They don’t share a meaning of a term critical to their success as a couple.  They may proceed to build an entire life on that foundation.  How do you see their chances of success?  

             That is, perhaps, first among the fundamentals we must face:  We must not assume we share common meanings for words we all know.  There will be discomfort and tedium and annoyance as we confront the differences in how we mean what we say.  Then there will open, sometimes for the very first time, a clearing, a space we have made for ourselves in which we KNOW we are all talking about the same thing and we KNOW what everyone means when they use the words because we will have agreed upon what the words mean.

             When you bring to me your authentic human experience, relate it to me in an honest and forthright fashion and I listen to you intentionally and actively for the purpose of as completely as possible understanding what you are relating, and when you leave certain that I have completely heard what you said, that you are satisfied that you have left me with an experience of what you have related, we will have communicated.



Section 4

Trust: In approaching this conversation, among the most fundamental requirements is the honoring of each utterance as authentic, the granting to it the power and the assumption of truth we would wish were it ours.

How can we be sure? How can we know?

Simple: We can’t. It is universal in human experience to have been told something, passionately and earnestly, even by someone close to us, something important, which later we found to be utterly false, and to find we have been utterly unable to tell. There is no indicator sensitive and reliable enough to alert us to a well-delivered lie. There is no way to guarantee we are not being deceived. How can we proceed in a matter of this magnitude, this serious, where there is such an ingrained, intentional history of deliberate deceit, deception, malevolence, hatred?

We must trust.

Trust, I assert, is a gift, an act of generosity. It is given by one person to another. It is given either on purpose and in a manner for which the giver is fully responsible, or it is given by obligation, by habit, without responsibility, based upon appearances, desires, hopes. It is the investing in another the certainty of honesty. Beyond all suspicions, history, appearances, it is purposely choosing to insist upon holding another as truthful. We will say to each other, “What you say, I say is truth.” and we will honor those words in the face of all other concerns and considerations. (See “Commitment”)

Why would anyone do that?

First, remember: It’s a gift. Second: You and I know that it is a gift and we are giving it with complete willingness and by our own choice. We would give each other this gift because we know trust is essential to our commitment to resolve the issues we have come together to address. It is, in fact, the only possible means of proceeding toward that end, and we know that. We must also be completely aware that when we give to another this gift, we expose ourselves to inevitability: betrayal.

We must be clear: When we give to others this gift of trust, when we choose on purpose to invest in another the certainty of truthfulness, that trust will be violated. In matters so profoundly powerful and complicated, that will take such a length of time to address, it is inevitable that the trust will be broken, in either fact or appearance, deliberately or by accident. It is certain, and we should acknowledge, for purposes of our own clarity, that there is no such thing as trustworthiness. The gift of trust is an act of grace, it cannot be earned and must not rest on the illusion that it can be earned, and the trust will be violated.

It is the act of a fool: The taking of absolute personal responsibility for investing in another the certainty of truthfulness in the face of all other concerns and considerations; the making senior to all other matters the commitment to proceed along the path that heads toward eliminating the remaining effects of Slavery.

When someone is trusted, have they no responsibility?

Only if they agree. You may give it or not and may take into consideration whether the recipient will be responsible for the gift, acknowledging the certainty of failure. You may consider the receipt of this gift from another and how you will be responsible for it. You may give it whether or not I agree. I may give it whether or not you agree. Each of us is wholly responsible and capable. Both parties will agree to respond when the trust is broken, no matter what happens, and address the issues till both are satisfied. (See “Communication, Commitment”) There will be a point of choice once again.



Section 5

            Compassion:  We each have a lifetime of experience.  This experience, in combination with other factors, shapes who we are.  If we are to understand another, some comprehension of his or her life experience must be reached.  Essential to our communication for healing the injuries of Slavery is the understanding, the deep and abiding comprehension, of other people’s life experiences, yet we are essentially alone, isolated in our individuality.

             We have the capacity to imagine.  Some of us are experts, all of us can do it, anyone can deepen it.  We can imagine nearly anything.  The more we learn about something, the more fully we can envision it and the more powerful and complete is our experience.  Use of this imagination is one of the keys to compassion.  It is the opening for the possibility of deeply understanding another’s life.

             We can listen to another speak of life and imagine ourselves in that life.  We can feel the reactions, notice the assumptions, distinguish the attitudes and prejudices, outlooks and ideas that become parts of our experience as we embrace the experience of another to get a growing sense of that person’s life.  As we do this we can develop for ourselves a growing understanding of how another might have made choices, a deeper sense of a person’s or group’s actions or reactions, see from the inside the world in which they live.  This is the beginning of compassion.

             We must always be aware that our compassion, no matter how powerful or fully developed, is always short of the totality of the other’s experience.  We must never assume that we have completely grasped that experience.  We must also understand that the earnest compassionate understanding of another is always incomplete and not be impatient or condemning when we encounter the incompletion.  Compassion continually seeks further enrichment and additional information as it is available, and will continually provide such information as it is requested.


Section 6

             Commitment: One of those simple ideas that is profound in its operation, commitment is the choice to make one idea, interpretation, promise, senior to any other circumstance at every moment, and to have one’s actions given by that.  I have committed to be related to you.  Thus, when I don’t like the way you are talking to me, being related to you is senior to that circumstance, and I stay in relationship with you when my reaction to your manner of speaking might be to leave.

             Commitment is not “obligation.“

              It is choice. 


            It is born of the responsibility for that choice and lives as the constant creation of it.  It lives and expresses itself in the face of contrary evidence if it needs to, at times to the point of abstraction or even madness. 

             It can arise from culture, personality, circumstance.  Its highest expression, perhaps, arises from inquiry, consideration, and vision.  Out of these we choose, out of that choice comes action: We are literally given our lives by that commitment.  We will create and innovate and draw from ourselves unthought-of and unimagined resources out of it.



             Because there is no back door.  We are committed.  We have chosen and we create that choice anew and in the present at every opportunity.  When we doubt, we create that choice. When the outcome is demonstrably unfavorable or arguably impossible, we create that choice.

At any and every moment in any and every circumstance we create, on our own responsibility and authority, that choice, not as victims of our past, but as creators in our present of our future.

             Obviously one might exercise considerable discretion in making such choices, and one would be well advised to do just that.  Commitment is an existential state altering all other existential states: One is simply not the same once committed, the world is not the same, there is a new center. 

             Commitment is the matrix for miracles.

The Line “I” Describe … A Speculation on the Path of a Single Point of Awareness Through Whole Space

“I” describe, or draw, or create, a line as I move through the Universe. In fact, I describe, draw and/or create probably an infinite number of lines, depending on what point within my person you might choose as “the” point you’ll track.

You could pick one atom in a lower bicuspid as a point, and that point describes a line as it moves through the Universe.

I will choose my “Heart” … just because it is a familiar notion and seems more or less at the center of the “me” about which I’m talking, and will further specify, in this initial description, that I’m referencing whatever point is the perceived “Center of My Heart” at any given moment.

So … my “Heart,” referencing whatever point is the perceived “Center of My Heart” at any given moment, describes a line as I move through the Universe. This is pretty easy to imagine as I walk down the hall toward the front door. Not too hard to consider that my Heart is describing a line as I move from one place to another or that the line will have a certain “texture” to it as my gait moves my “Heart” in idiosyncratic fashion, rising and falling with my steps and perhaps swerving slightly from side to side because of the same influence.

But my movement down the hall is not the only thing that determines the line my Heart describes as I move through the Universe. You see, I am also walking along the surface of the Earth, which surface is moving about a thousand miles an hour as Earth rotates around its axis. So, in addition to the idiosyncratically “textured” but more or less simple-to-imagine line my Heart describes as I walk down the hall toward the front door, the line my Heart describes as I move through the Universe is also determined by the fact that I am borne along upon the surface of the Earth at a thousand miles per hour. In fact, though I may appear to be describing one particular line as I’m walking West, the line I’m actually describing is an arc to the East, as I ride our Earth in its rotation, the speed is just slower by however fast I’m walking toward the West.


So my heart describes a line as I move through the Universe and part of what determines the line is my movement across the surface of the Earth and another part of what determines that line through the Universe is the fact that I’m on a surface that’s rotating around an axis.


But that rotating surface, as it spins, is also revolving around the Sun at just over 67,000 miles per hour.  So my Heart describes a line as it travels through the Universe that is determined by my movements across a surface that rotates around an axis that is revolving around a star.  Though the surface upon which I walk spins around, the line cannot be a circle, because the forward movement of the revolution continually removes it to ever different locations along the orbit, which seems cyclic itself except … well, there’s another factor at work further determining the line my Heart describes as it travels through the Universe.


The Sun is in orbit around the center of our Galaxy, and it is traveling along that orbit at nearly 500,000 miles per hour.  So my heart describes a line, as it moves through the Universe, which is given by my movements across the surface of the Earth as the rotation of the Earth around its axis is revolving around the Sun which is revolving around the center of the Galaxy … Those are some of the vectors and forces and velocities that determine the line my Heart describes as it moves across the Universe.


There is at least one more:  The Galaxy itself is traveling at 1.3 million miles an hour.  It is in orbit? I don’t know.  It may simply be following whatever trajectory was imparted to it by the forces at work during its creation.


So … my Heart describes a line as it travels through the Universe that is determined by my movements across a surface that is rotating at a thousand miles an hour around an axis  which is revolving at 67,000 miles per hour around the Sun which is revolving at nearly half a million miles per hour around the center of the Galaxy which may or may not be in orbit, but is moving through space at 1.3 million miles per hour.


It could not be clearer that there can be no circles in this line or that any but partial spirals are impossible.  There are arcs, but they are very complex as they are always created by the combination of multiple velocities and directions acting in constant interaction with each other.


I describe a line, travel a trajectory, as I travel through the Universe.


A Speculation on the Path of a Single Point of Awareness Through Whole Space


This week in Florida something that had festered for three weeks erupted, first locally, then across the state, and ultimately nationwide.

On a rainy night in February a young man was visiting his father and his father’s fiance’ in a gated community near Sanford. Apparently during halftime of a basketball game he went to a local convenience store and bought candy and iced tea. On the way back to his father’s house he was confronted by a man, tried to leave, was engaged in a physical struggle with that man, and was shot and killed.

Trayvon Martin was seventeen, a young black man walking on the street in a gated community.

George Zimmerman is a twenty eight year old man with an extensive history of calling 911 and reporting “suspicious black males” in his neighborhood. He has repeatedly been called the “captain of a neighborhood watch.” There is a great deal of different reporting on the matter with some saying he is not even a member of a watch and others reporting that he is, indeed a leader of his neighborhood watch.  On this night he seemed to be, in old fashioned parlance …

a vigilante.

He prowled the streets of his neighborhood, armed. Neighborhood watch members do NOT carry weapons.

He called police emergency to report a suspicious person walking in his neighborhood.

That was Trayvon, walking to his father’s house from the store with his candy and iced tea, bareheaded, in the rain.

Zimmerman considered that he was on drugs, or “looking about,” and followed Trayvon, who was on the phone to a 16 year old girl described as his girlfriend. He told her he was being followed by a man in a vehicle.

She told him to run.

From many places there have been reports that the police instructed Zimmerman not to follow the subject. Here’s what’s on the tape: The police dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he was following the man and when Zimmerman said he was, the dispatcher said, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.”

Zimmerman acknowledged that … and followed Trayvon.

…who pulled up his hoodie and started walking away … faster. He’s still on the phone and the girl can hear what’s happening.

Zimmerman claims he stepped out of his vehicle to read what street he was on, and Trayvon attacked him from behind.

Do YOU need to step out of your vehicle in YOUR neighborhood to see what street you’re on?

Trayvon’s girlfriend heard someone ask him, “What are you doing around here?” and Trayvon asks, “Why are you following me?”

Does that sound like an ambush attack from behind?

At that point the young lady reports that she hears what sounds like someone pushing Trayvon and she loses contact with him.

Within moments 911 calls begin to light up the board and people begin to report someone scuffling and cries for help. In some of the audio you can hear the voice. I have listened to it several times. It sounds like a young man in a panic.

Zimmerman claims it was him calling for help after being ambushed from behind by Trayvon.

In the middle of one of the calls there is an audible gunshot … and the cries for help stop.


By the time police arrive, Trayvon is dead.


The police, with an unidentified dead child and a man with gun, interview Zimmerman and when he claims to have fired in self-defense and they release him … with the gun.


… and despite the fact that they have Trayvon’s cell phone, he is tagged “John Doe” and is held in the morgue for three days.


Right now, this very minute, George Zimmerman is free among the citizens of this society, with a loaded gun.