the Beginning: born in Jersey. Grew up on the beaches and boardwalk of Ocean City. I remember very well “goin’” for the brass ring on the merry-go-round”. All the time.
I WANTED IT!
the Early Years: raised in Denver, and schooled at North Lakewood Elementary by
Miss Beauduin in 3rd and 4th grade. Miss Kaiser taught us in 5th and 6th. Both were extremely excellent English teachers. I’m sure I owe them a great deal.
They were followed by Mr. Skaggs in Junior High. He taught me to “diagram a sentence” – a skill I can still do today.
I took 4 years of Latin in High School (who does that???). I followed that up with another year in college along with a year of Greek – at The Colorado College.
My major was Philosophy – reading everything from St. Augustine to the Existentialists- like Sartre and Dostoevsky, the BIBLE and Mein Kampf. I imagine I wrote a few papers.
(just a little footnote that probably only matters to me, but, – 3 of us from North Lakewood Elementary went all the way through college together at CC. I just find that a little unusual and kinda cool. Like I said, only me …)
We switch now to: Western Geophysical - I’m in my early 30’s, a “group leader”
of 6 analysts processing seismic data for the major oil and gas exploration companies,
like EXXON, Arco, & Diamond Shamrock.
On a Monday afternoon, my Group gets some data in, around 4 pm. It’s from Diamond Shamrock. We had been processing some of their data for a while. My Center Manager says, “it’s urgent. I’ve promised the client a 48-hr. 'turnaround'. You need to have me, and John G. (the client) a preliminary ‘final’ by Wednesday afternoon.”
Processing a “line” can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks for short “lines, which this was. Up to 6 months for the long ocean lines. I have two days!!!
*** I always liked the Marine motto – “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome”.
15 hours later, I’m sitting in John G.’s outer office, waiting for him to show up for work.
I have “the final”.
- 15 hours!!! He never had anyone else in the Center work on his data again, just me.
A side tangent – while I worked at Western Geophysical there were several of us who did some winter mountaineering. Two of my buddies and I decided to venture up the back side of 14,256 foot Mt. Evans. In the middle of the night. And be at the top at sunrise.
To do this, we dug a snow cave in a huge, 100-yard-long snowdrift that was at least 8 foot high and just as deep. It was at 12,016 feet above sea-level. It took a couple of Saturdays, but … , we got it done.
At the base of the drift, we tunneled “in” three feet. Then we tunneled “up and toward the back” another three feet. It was here that we dug a four-foot diameter dome “central room”. Finally, two “sleeping tubes” were dug along the spine of the snowdrift,
outward from this central dome.
The next morning, after hiking from midnight, I photographed the rising sun in the East, and a full moon setting in the West, between two perfectly pointed champagne-glass shaped peaks, covered in snow.
I wrote an article about the adventure and published it in the TRUE ADVENTURE section of “The Denver Post”.
Fast-forward – sticking with the “Western” theme (why not?) – over to western Colorado, Grand Junction. By the Utah border. Moab.
I always thought of Grand Junction as a huge salad bowl – the Bookcliffs to the North,
the Grand Mesa to the East, and the Colorado Monument to the West, and a bit to the South. In the summer the sun “drills down” like a drill press – it's hot. And miserable.
One summer month it made a new record for “# of days over 100 degrees”, “# of days over 90”, and “# of days, no, sorry, that’s nights, over 90 degrees.”
(I jokingly classify people as either Iguanas or Penguins – I moved to Alaska a few years later.)
So … one hot, sunny summer day, I decided to write a screenplay. I Googled up how to format it, but, ... I needed an idea.
I had none. Okay, so I’ll adapt one from a story already written. This was just gonna be a few pages practice piece.
A whole summer at poolside, and 106 pages later, I had a full-length movie script – adapted from a couple of chapters (24 pages) from Dostoevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov” - Rebellion, and The Grand Inquisitor.
“Just a little light entertainment, ya know”.
(For those not familiar with Dostoevsky,
he’s considered one of the great existential writers in history.
Must’ve been all that Philosophy in college got to me, huh?)
(Note: it hasn’t been made into a movie,... YET!)
THE END (OK, not quite, but almost)
Remember I said I moved to Alaska?
Well, there’s a place called Cooper Landing – on the Kenai Peninsula. It has “world-class” fishing. Salmon. On the Russian River. On the Kenai River. And in Kenai Lake.
A friend of mine bought a tourist complex – motel, bar, café, gas pumps. And a gift store.
She asked me to manage it for her. I said, “Okay. Sure”.
As I said, this part of Alaska is “world-renowned”. So, I had people from, …
"all over the world" - Estonia, Korea, China, Israel, Sweden, Germany, Kazakhstan, Australia, and more.
As each customer left I would say, “thanks for coming”. Some knew very little English. Some knew none at all, but had a friend or relative alongside that did speak English. Sometimes we would use Google Translate to try and carry on a small conversation.
I'm still friends on Facebook with a Belgium fellow that came in one day.
At some point, the idea dawned on me - it would be nice if I could say something to them in their native language – make them feel more comfortable, more at home. Even if it was just for a moment. Like I cared about them as more than just a “passing body”.
So … as each “world-traveler” came in and shopped and spoke, I asked them,
“how do you say, ‘thanks for coming’ in Swedish / Estonian / Hebrew”, and more –
21 different languages altogether. I had them write it down, and somewhere I still have those notes.
What was really a lot of fun, was to ask (If I couldn’t detect) where they were from. Then I would get out my notes (if I couldn’t remember how to say it), and say,
“thanks for coming” in their language. You shoulda seen them light up when they realized I was speaking their language, or at least attempting to. Sometimes I butchered it badly.
“Danke fur das kommen.” German. I remember that one well.
It was a fun summer.
OK, NOW IT”S