Brokeback Dinosaur

Yeah, you read that right. It's been a strange week in the blogosphere...getting tagged, recalling and writing about MacArthur Park, and now the Gay Dinosaur Poetry Contest. Stephanie over at the Mystickal Incense Blog, was going through her old journals and came up with a poem she once wrote about Stan, the Gay T-Rex. So now she's running a contest with a cool prize package for the best poem that contains the words: "gay" and "dinosaur". I've never been one to shy away from a challenge and I really want to win the prize in the spirit of Brokeback Mountain, here is my entry:

Brokeback Dinosaur: A Haiku

In secluded pools
amorous gay dinosaurs
strut with heads held high.

Thanks for reading.

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Facts About MacArthur Park....from Wikipedia

Dedication: To Scottage--Now I can't get this damn song out of my head! So if I have to suffer, the rest of you might as well suffer as well. Here are some facts and the story behind the Richard Harris (Professor Dumbledore) and Donna Summer versions of "MacArthur Park".

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"MacArthur Park" is an epic song, written by Jimmy Webb and first performed by Richard Harris in 1968. Harris' seminal recording topped the music charts in Europe, while peaking at number two on the U.S. charts.

It was an unusual single, running for more than seven minutes, with a long, climactic orchestral break. The lyrics were more symbolic and sentimental than descriptive (featuring the notable line, "Someone left the cake out in the rain"), and were apparently about a lost love and a rendezvous in the park. It has been covered more than fifty times, including versions by Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Maynard Ferguson, Liza Minnelli, and most notably, by Donna Summer in a 1978 disco version that topped the U.S. charts, and ran to six minutes and forty seconds in its full-length version, and seventeen minutes, forty seconds as part of a medley released by Summer.

The sentimentality of the song made it an easy target for parody. "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a version of the song for his album Alapalooza with new lyrics recapping the plot of the movie Jurassic Park. The comedy series Second City Television aired a sketch with an actor playing Richard Harris singing "MacArthur Park" and waiting in agony during the orchestral break to finish the song while the show moved on to other skits. In an episode of The Simpsons, "Lisa the Beauty Queen", a contestant related to Apu announces that she is going to sing the song in its entirety, while playing the tabla, and the audience laughs at her. Also, in a Seinfeld episode, the song is alluded to when George Costanza recalls a scene from his childhood in which he was singing the song. In another episode (The Statue episode #11) George tries to acquire a statue that could replace one George's parents had years ago, but he broke while singing MacArthur Park. The song is also briefly featured, albeit in a Muzak version, in the 1982 film Airplane II: The Sequel, blaring loudly from an airport elevator. A poll by American columnist Dave Barry selected "MacArthur Park" as the worst song ever recorded. The song is also featured in the Movie "Vertical Limit" (2000) directed by Martin Campbell: A climber (Stuart Wilson) sings this song before he falls off the mountain.

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!
Oh, no
No, no
Despite the rather poetic homage paid to it, the real MacArthur Park became known for being a violent place after 1985 when drug deals, shoot-outs and occasional drownings became somewhat common there. Before the decline of the neighborhood, the park featured the traditional paddle-boats and a large fountain in the center of the lake; since the park was a popular middle-class destination for over fifty years, it is likely it can be reclaimed in the future.

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TAGGED: Ten Questions I Must Answer

Scott over at Perspectives of a Nomad just tagged me and I guess I made his list of the five people who must answer these ten questions. So here goes:

1. What were you doing 10 Years Ago?
Ten years ago I was working at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library in the Technical Services Department, waiting tables at BD's Mongolian Barbeque in Ann Arbor, and coaching High School Debate and Forensics.

2. 5 Years Ago?
I had just started a career in restaurant management, working for Ryan's Steakhouses in Anderson, Indiana.

3. 1 Year Ago?
I was working for Roadhouse Grill in Columbus, Ohio.

4. Name 5 Snacks You Enjoy:
Just five? OK, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts, Starbursts: Original flavors, Haagen Daaz Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream, LaChoy Shrimp Mini Egg Rolls.

5. 5 Songs I know by heart but wish I didn't.
Just five? OK, Numero Uno is "McCarthur Park," by Donna Summer. God damn it--can't someone bring that cake inside already? Why would anyone leave a cake out in the rain? Especially because it took so long to bake would think that the person who baked the cake, who put so much time into it, would want to eat the cake, not leave it outside for God sakes, even if it was meant for a picnic dessert. Any why wouldn't they bring it inside if it were raining? Or at least cover it up? It just doesn't make any sense. And WHY OH WHY would the person who just BAKED the cake in the first place NEVER HAVE THE RECIPE AGAIN? Is it a Mission Impossible Cake? Does the recipe self-destruct upon use? Inquiring minds want to know! Or just don't care. The lyric is just that stupid.
2. "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone. If you were alive in the 70s, you know that this song was so overplayed..."so many nights..." ARRRGGGHHHH!
3. "Sing" by The Carpenters. Just way too much sugar and sweetness, but that's what they taught us in 4th Grade Music Class.
4. "Top of the World" by The Carpenters. Same reason as #3. The Carpenters wrote much better music than #3 and #4.
5. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred. Nuff Said.

6. 5 Things I would do with a lot of money.
1. Create a scholarship fund to allow participation in debate and other competitive communication activities for Middle Schools and High Schools.
2. Create a foundation that would fund whitewater rafting trips for underprivileged children in remote wilderness areas--such as the Tuolumne River in California or the Copper River in Alaska or the Chatooga River in Georgia/South Carolina or the Penobscot River in Maine.
3. Take care of my parents.
4. Build a Mountain Home and move to Wenatchee, Washington.
5. Go whitewater rafting 120 Days a year.

7. 5 Things I would never wear:
1. Pink, other than a pink support breast cancer tie.
2. A Beret.
3. Boots, other than hiking boots.
4. A sweater draped over my back.
5. A Bow tie, other than with a tuxedo.

8. 5 Things I should never have worn:
1. A skin tight Speedo low-rise swimsuit.
2. Bell bottoms.
3. Orange sweatsuit. (hey, it was the 70s.)
4. Cloth belts.
5. Cargo Pants.

9. 5 Things I enjoy doing:
1. Sex
2. Whitewater Rafting and Traveling
3. Going to the Theatre: Movies, Musicals, Plays
4. Dining Out
5. Spoiling friends and family.

10. 5 Bad Habits.
1. Fast food
2. Soft Drinks
3. Candy / eating too much sugar
4. Spending too much money
5. Staying up too late watching mindless drivel on television.

Thanks for reading.

The Naming of "Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta." Part IV: Delta


The first week of high school physics, I learned that a delta had another meaning besides the place where a river fanned out, formed an alluvial plain, and entered the ocean. In fact, river deltas were named after the Greek letter delta (), which shape they resemble. It’s kind of funny really, the arbitrary way we invent words. If a corn broom had existed when the ancient Greeks first discovered river deltas, they might have thought to name a delta after a broom. Instead of cruising up and down the Mississippi in high style aboard the Delta Queen, we might have found ourselves steaming up and down America’s greatest river aboard the Broom Queen, or, God forbid, the Witch Hunt. But I suppose not. As a nation our poetic sensibilities are a little more refined. Heading into the Mississippi’s Broom, I’m sure our noble paddle-wheel steamer would have been named the Mississippi Sweeper.

In physics, the delta () also denotes an increment, or change in a variable. The passage of time for instance, is expressed as a simple mathematical equation. If t1 equals the initial time, and t2 equals the final time, then the amount of time that has gone by, or change in time, is expressed as t = t2-t1. In other words, if t1 equals two o’clock, and t2 equals three o’clock, t--the change in time--equals one hour. The delta is used in physics anywhere it’s necessary to express a change. A change in distance, a change in place, a change in time. You would think the delta could also be used to express changes in ourselves. Our age could be expressed as: y = current year - our birth year. Our change in financial status could be expressed as $. Our change in mood could be expressed as $ divided by y. Or not. Maybe physics and the economy and human emotions and moods just don’t mix. It was a thought.

Really though, it’s hard to imagine a river delta being called a broom, or anything else but a delta. It is so aptly named as it is. As time went on and the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet acquired the meaning of change, one looks more closely at the river delta and appreciates how well the Greeks and physicists chose. A river delta is a place of great change. It’s where fresh rainwater mingles with the ocean and becomes saline. It’s where sediment is deposited and new land is built up. It’s where wildlife teems and political boundaries end. And it’s where water completes a cycle of evaporating over the ocean, raining or snowing down on distant mountains, torrential runoffs across continents and slow meanderings through river beds until it reaches the delta, enters the ocean, and begins the cycle all over again as water molecules in an ocean just waiting to evaporate.

A couple weeks ago, I knew how those water molecules felt. I just wanted to evaporate. But as I’ve undergone my own distance, and place, and moods, and I’ve seen the changes in Kip; I’m learning that life is a constant series of deltas. We are always changing. And while at some times life doesn’t seem bearable, that feeling will change. I miss Linda so much and when I think of her I still can’t stop the tears. But when I’m with Kip and Jonathan and having a great time or when I think about being at work and doing what I love there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The riverboat that is my heart will go on, with or without me. So I’d better get back on board.

Thanks for reading.

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The Naming of "Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta." Part III: Meanderings.


A great river has only one mission, and that is to find the shortest and quickest route to the sea. It sounds simple enough, and many rivers accomplish this mission efficiently. In Hawaii, for example, water races down steep volcanic slopes, courses through lush tropical rainforest valleys, and plummets over steep cliffs into the ocean. Mission accomplished. End of story. However, Hawaiian islands are small and the distance a river has to cross is unbelievably short. Some rivers are not as geographically advantaged as Hawaiian streams. Some rivers have formidable obstacles in their paths.

For instance, the mighty Colorado once was faced with a high continental plateau that it couldn’t find a way down from. So the Colorado chose to carve through bedrock rather than take a long circuitous way around. That’s how tourist attractions and sacred places such as the Grand Canyon are born--a river’s urgency to reach the sea.

Other rivers are more patient. After beginning as meltwater atop some high mountain peak, and rapidly descending in torrents down steep slopes, some rivers are just faced with thousands of miles of topography that they have no choice but to contend with. As the land levels out, it becomes harder to find a clear downward path. Some rivers give up, spread out over huge areas or sinks, and percolate into the soil, becoming groundwater--which contrary to popular belief, doesn’t just sit still in aquifers waiting to be tapped for midwestern agriculture. Groundwater seeps and flows too, albeit excruciatingly slowly, but it eventually finds its way through underground cracks or fissures or faults to the sea. But the more clever rivers do find steady downward courses over land. In some more level areas, the river actively searches--meanders--for the most direct route. Many people speak of lazy rivers, slowly meandering along, in no hurry, with no aim. These people are just ignorant. Nothing about a river’s journey to the sea is lazy. And nothing about meandering is an afternoon stroll in the park without direction or any goal but simply to pass away the time. And if proof is what you desire, just look at the existence of oxbow lakes--former sections of a river’s course left isolated when the river’s constant searching finds a quicker downward route and it abandons part of its former course for the quicker, shorter path it has just discovered. Oxbow lakes, when cut off by the river that fed them, quickly turn to marshland and eventually dry up.

Nevertheless, meandering is a peaceful time for a river. While the river is actively searching, often it doesn’t know what for. While it’s goal is a short, quick route to the sea, finding that route remains elusive. A river can meander in any direction, even the wrong direction, in its search. It’s a process of trial and error. Errors are eventually corrected. Oxbow lakes dry up. The river is patient now. It’s no longer a question of finding a route to the sea, but refining it.

Thanks for reading.

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Women Who Read

A Woman Who Reads

One morning a husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, his wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, drops anchor and begins to read her book. Along comes a game warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, "Good morning, ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies.

"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her.

"I'm sorry, Officer, but I'm not fishing, I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.

"But I have not even touched you," says the game warden.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day, ma'am," he said, and left.

Moral of this story: Never argue with a woman who reads. It is likely she can also think!

Thanks for reading.

The Naming of "Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta." Part II: Torrents


Within a month of my parents divorce, my brothers brought home an adorable white and black furball and begged my mother to let us keep her. I suppose that the best time to get what you want from a parent is immediately after a divorce. Both parents usually are emotionally vulnerable and feeling a little guilty about the trauma they have just put their children through. So it really didn’t take much pleading on our part. A simple “Mom, can we keep her, please? She’s free! She won’t cost you a cent. We’ll take care of her.” Seemed to be the magic words. If you ever hear these words, don’t fall for them. They’re shameless lies. Good intentioned, but lies all the same.

Anyway, that’s how Buffy joined our family. And just so you know, Mom was the one who named her. We wanted a cool name like Duchess, or Beauty, or maybe even Rosalyn--after our then First Lady. Okay, Rosalyn was my idea, but I was only ten. I didn’t understand the implications of naming a dog after a First Lady. But Mom thought Buffy fit best for our puppy. “Duchess is a name for German Shepherds,” Mom said, “and the puppy is a mutt--we don’t want to name her Beauty in case she doesn’t grow into her name.” Mom needn’t have worried. Although our vet later guessed that Buffy was a Fox Terrier, sheep dog, and hound mix, she never lost her puppy cuteness.

Except on our first summer vacation together after the divorce. Mom took all of us up to Charlevoix, and the first warm day my brothers and I went swimming in Lake Michigan. Buffy had never been in the water before. She was only three months old, but in those three months at least one of us was always with her. We brought her to the lake with us, but decided that it probably would be best to leave her on the shore while we went swimming. Buffy, however, had other plans. She refused to be separated from us. She bravely negotiated the natural dock of giant boulders leading to our favorite swimming spot about fifty feet into the lake and boldly followed us into the cold water without hesitating. She started dog-paddling immediately, and we had to be careful not to swamp her with our splashing. When we had had enough of the Lake, Buffy followed us out of the water. She looked like a wet sewer rat. That is, until she rolled around in the sand. Then she looked like a dirty wet sewer rat. But even then, Buffy’s personality was irrepressible. She seemed to know she was a pathetic sight, so she just looked up at us with her soulful brown eyes and softly made crying sounds that no one with a heart could ignore. The four of us gave her a bath, shampooed her hair with Mom’s Body on Tap, and dried her with Mom’s hair-dryer. Most dogs hate baths--at least if television and movies are accurate, but Buffy reveled in every moment. She delighted in the suds and pawed at the bubbles. And the warm air from the hair-dryer seemed to propel her into sublime ecstasy. Or maybe the fun the four of us were having was simply contagious. Or maybe it was the growing bond we shared.

We didn’t realize how strong the bond between us was until later that summer when Dad took me and my brothers to Oshkosh to spend two weeks with our grandmother. From her very first day with us, Buffy was always at our side. The day after my brothers brought her home, the four of us went to a baseball game in the Carey’s backyard, eight houses down. We walked through our neighbors’ backyards, as we always did. Seven-week old Buffy struggled to follow us through the thick blades of grass that were at least as tall as she was. To you or I, it would have been like walking through a forest of cattails, or cornstalks growing in the wild--not planted evenly in rows. The going was a little slow, but Buffy wasn’t about to be left behind. Suddenly, in Oshkosh, our sidekick was missing.

We really missed Buffy. When we called home to talk to Mom, we learned that Buffy missed us too. Mom told us that Buffy wouldn’t eat. She hardly slept. She cried all the time. At other times, she would sit or lie by the front door, as if we might walk through it at any minute and when we did, Buffy would be ready for us. My brothers and I didn’t want to stay in Oshkosh any longer. We wanted to go home. To Buffy. Granny Bea couldn’t understand why.

That first homecoming after our two-week separation is indelibly etched in my mind. My brothers and I opened the door and we were assaulted by a furry missile with a whiplash tail. She raced around the house, either unable to contain her joy or to build up speed for a leap into our arms I wasn’t sure, but the five month-old puppy did not stay in one place long enough for us to even scratch her floppy ears. She would just run from one of us to the other, leap up, and use our chests as springboards to execute mid-air course corrections for a flying leap to the next closest brother. Brad, my youngest brother who was only five at the time, said: “Hi Buffy, did you miss us?” Did she miss us. Talk about an understatement.

After a few brief months together, Buffy was no longer a dog. She was our sister. Her favorite food was pizza. Her favorite game was tug-o-war but hide-and-seek was a close second. She loved riding in the front seat of the car, her head sticking out the window, the wind in her face. And she hated disco. Whenever Chic or K.C. and the Sunshine Band or some other disco singer or group was playing on the radio, Buffy would howl until we had to change the radio station or Mom made us turn the radio off altogether. Buffy had taste. Buffy also liked order in her home. She hated it when my brothers and I fought. Whenever a conflict arose, she would unerringly attack the pant-leg of the instigator with her formidable jaw. Buffy was medium-sized, only about forty pounds. But she was tenacious. She tore many holes in our Levis--irrefutable evidence any just court of law would uphold as grounds for groundings. As it turned out, we were in court a lot the first few years following the divorce. Buffy witnessed everything. She loved being with us. But every now and then, even she would need some time to herself. She spent that time lying in the sun.

I don’t know where she got it from. Maybe she was a movie star in a former life. But if the sun was shining, Buffy was lying in it. Especially later in her life when my brothers and I were older and we spent more time at school and Little League and the library and with friends.

One day when I was in tenth grade, I stayed home sick. Buffy was always at my side, either on the couch with me watching TV, or sleeping under an end table next to the couch. Well, that was until about one in the afternoon when the sun passed its zenith in the sky and began to shine in through our western windows. As if an alarm clock had gone off, Buffy abruptly got up and walked across the family room, picked up the blanket that Mom had crocheted for her--which was neatly folded by her toys--and dragged it to the growing patch of sun on the carpet by the window. She made a half-hearted attempt at spreading the blanket out, and then plopped down onto it and rolled over onto her back. I knew she wasn’t working on her suntan, but her behavior was too deliberate to chalk it up to instinct. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it. There is no doubt: Buffy was a sun-worshiper.

Every time I lie in the sun I remember watching Buffy soak up its warmth. Lying by our window in complete contentment. No cares. No worries. No concerns. As short as her eleven years were, sometimes I envy a dog’s life. Especially now as I’m reminded of it again, lying here next to Kip, in the bright sun of Waikiki, working on our tans. There’s nothing like the bond of unconditional love between a boy and his first dog. Except perhaps the bond between best friends. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trivializing human friendships. But they’re rarely based on unconditional love, admiration, and respect. When you find a friendship like that, you find proof of God’s existence. And when you’re in a friendship like that, and one of you is hurting, it’s possible to imagine the depths of God’s sorrow as man breaks His heart over and over again.

Thanks for reading.

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The Naming of "Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta." Part I: Meltwater.

I have been asked repeatedly how I came up with the name for this blog. Well, there's a short answer, and there's a long answer.

The short answer is that I wrote a novel called "The Siren's Call" (which will be published later this summer and which Shelly from The Dramedy of Life is reading this week while on vacation. Hopefully, at least. Four consecutive chapters in the novel are entitled: Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta.

The kind of long answer is that a river is a metaphor for life. We are all born, grow, develop, and follow the seasons and changes of our lives like a river that is born in the ice meltwater of a tall mountain, races down in torrents the steep mountain sides with the energy and vigor of youth, and then as we grow up we meander, like a river, more slowly, carefully, thoughtfully--as if we have it all planned out in slower gentler rhythms, and then finally we die in the Delta as we empty into the ocean, where the Circle of Life begins anew.

In addition, the various changes or stages of our lives can be looked at with this metaphor on a smaller scale. Let's say a loved one dies. We grieve and cry (meltwater.) We rage and question and wonder why (torrents.) We come to accept what has happened and rationalize or internalize it (meanderings.) We reach a state of peace (delta.)

The River, and its various stages of Meltwater, Torrents, Meanderings, and Delta are used as a metaphor as the main character of the Siren's Call goes through profound grief and the stages of healing.

Beginning today, and for the next four days, my posts are going to be: 1. Meltwater. 2. Torrents. 3. Meanderings. 4. Delta. If you're interested in understanding this blog, or me, or how my mind works: this is probably the textbook.



My sophomore year of college, I took a very unusual English class: Environmental Poetry. We all had to take our fill of English classes, but I had had just about enough of them in high school: Advanced English 9, Advanced Composition, American Literature, English Literature, Advanced Creative Writing, World Literature, and Advanced Placement English. By any measure, that’s a lot of English to cram into four years of high school. Especially if you add competitive Debate and Forensics to the curriculum. At least with AP English I was able to place out of English 101 and English 102 at Michigan, but there were still a number of English credits required for graduation, and if I had to take more English, I wanted to choose classes that were different.

Environmental Poetry piqued my interest. I thought it would be a nice, relaxing class that I could coast through while I focused my attention on such heavyweights as Organic Chemistry, U.S. Governmental Structures, and Civil War History. In theory, I figured I could skip an EP class every now and then and study for an exam in one of the three heavyweights or spend extra time in the chem lab or the library working on a term paper. In practice, Environmental Poetry turned out to be the most challenging and intellectually stimulating class of my undergraduate career.

Environmental Poetry, on the very first day of class, revealed itself to be an in-depth study of the major literary works of Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Robert Frost, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, among others; combined with an advanced creative writing course emphasizing imagery and precision of language to create poetry evoking the natural world while stimulating the senses. It was an amazing class. We studied great writers. We discussed ideas as big and enveloping as the Montana sky. And we learned to write with our senses. We learned to make words flow smoothly, like pure water coursing through an unnamed stream over an isolated plateau meadow. I just wrote those words, but the class was so effective that, in my mind’s eye, I see a black bear drinking at that stream. I feel the cool wind on my cheek. I smell the sweet perfume of wildflowers mixed with the scent of pine. And I hear the electric buzz of insects and the wild cry of an eagle as it soars above the meadow.

Words are magical colors when they flow from an artist’s inkwell.

Part of the fun in Environmental Poetry was reading and discussing what the other students wrote. Some efforts were more successful than others, but with every poem we read and discussed--and all twenty-six of us had to write three a week--we learned more about our writing, our philosophies, the ways in which each of us viewed the world, and about our humanity.

One of the most discussed poems all term in EP was a poem by Derek Patzer. Derek was a character. He was tall, gangly, always cheerful, had shoulder-length blonde hair, and loved to drink beer and party. But he had a serious side too. Derek seemed to understand human nature and relationships. We often had interesting discussions about what motivated people. Anyway, in one exercise the second week of class, each of us had to come up with a poetic name for everyone else in the class. The name I wrote for Derek was: Wise Blonde Tree. And it was one of the few that stuck. Good-bye Derek Patzer, hello Wise Blonde Tree. The poem that Derek wrote is called: Water Power.

Water Power

Regal ice-covered granite
landing pads for clouds
like diamonds
in winter’s clear skies
and shatter
into sleek sharp shards
in spring.

Water Power is a highly compressed poem. Just twenty-three words, but it evokes so much. Of the more obvious images, there’s the one of a tall mountain reaching above the clouds. There’s the image of clouds racing by the mountain, like jets, some stopping to rest on the peak, some taking off again--like at a busy airport. There’s the image of blinding brilliance from diamonds sparkling--or sunlight reflecting off the glacial ice of the peak. And there’s the image of pieces of those glaciers calving, or breaking off, even...dropping into the sea when the weather warms.

Then there’s the title of the poem itself. Water Power. Erosion. Over time, by trickles or torrents, water has the power to turn a mighty granite peak to rubble, cutting it with icy diamond saws. David and Goliath. Slow and steady wins the race. This tiny poem says it all. When the ice begins to melt, meltwater begins its slow, imperceptible and inexorable destruction. The class loved Derek’s poem then; I recall it and find new meaning in it now. When the ice inside a grief-stricken man’s heart begins to melt, meltwater begins its slow, imperceptible, and inexorable destruction.

Destruction is rarely a smooth, or pain-free, process. The same holds true for healing.

Thanks for reading.

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MTMD Welcomes "Rob in China"

This week we have a new Blog Explosion Tenant that I hope all of you will check out by clicking on the thumbnail over on the left sidebar: Rob in China.

Rob is, in his own words, and American Entrepreneur in China, making contacts, making mistakes, and hopefully soon making some money. I hope so too because on his left sidebar he has a paypal link asking for donations of a dollar or two so that he can purchase sesame beef.

Rob's blog runs the gamut of weird news from China to serious news and then back to some of the most hilarious pictures even OneManBandwidth won't publish. Down his sidebar are links to major news sources in China and on the right are some of the funniest stories and posts in the blogosphere. The tone of Rob's blog is completely upbeat, so if you need a pick-me-up, this is definitely the place to go. The story about the new sauna in China was hilarious. You have to scroll down for that one.

Welcome to "Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta." Rob! I'm proud to have you here. I only hope that we'll soon be reading about you making your fortune and not reading about you resorting to stealing family pets for food. Help a brother out--send Rob money for sesame beef and save Fluffy in the process.

Thanks for reading.

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B-PAC: Who's In?

Scott over at Perspectives of a Nomad and I have been discussing the ability to make a difference in the world through our words and actions. As bloggers, we hope our blogs our read and our points of view are heard, and hopefully a little bit of a discussion will ensue.

But in terms of having our voices heard where it really matters--in the offices of the politicians that are increasingly distant and yet control the world we live in, and in Washington, my belief is that our blogs do not matter. In fact, I believe Washington is happy each one of us has our own little blog where we can write about things that interest and bother us and vent our frustrations. Doing so keeps us busy while Washington goes on with the business of securing their own personal power and fortunes.

It is also my belief, that grassroots efforts are enormously powerful. One small group of individuals at a church that raises noise with a manufacturer about their advertising on a certain television station can get a brilliant comedy pulled off the air before it ever finds it's audience. (The Book of Daniel starring Aiden Quinn).

I belief those of us in the blogosphere that want to make a difference, can. And the way I propose that we do it is by forming a Bloggers Political Action Committee. (BPAC). We can raise funds and solicit donations and contribute to politicians in both parties who value our fundamental liberties that are being trounced on by the Bush Administration AND those who are willing to listen and to act on our behalf.

Those of you that are interested, please leave a reply to this post. It's okay to start small. The important thing is, if we want to make a difference, is that we start.

Thanks for reading.

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Of Fortune Cookies and Politics

I just got back from a great lunch at an Asian Fusion restaurant, and the fortune from the cookie really shook me up because its theme has been on my mind a lot the last two days:

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.

It’s strange, but that is exactly the debate Scott from Perspectives of a Nomad and I have been having over the last couple of days. As bloggers, our thoughts and ideas and writings help to raise consciousness, but unless those thoughts translate into some form of action, it really doesn’t matter what we discuss on our blogs. Nothing changes. Unless enough of us get outraged and express our thoughts and join together and demand change.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch that all of us would like a different world, but to change it, we can not afford indifference.

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Twenty—five years ago ABBA wrote a song called Soldiers. You can hear it if you go to the ABBA website and register. If not, you can just click on the link and read the lyrics. The song was written at the end of 1981 in the midst of the Cold War. But I was reminded of the song yesterday morning during President Bush’s latest press conference:

”Do I hear what I think I’m hearing
do I see the signs I think I see
or is this just a fantasy

I am an American and I support our troops 100%. I also have great admiration and respect for the President of the United States, no matter what party affiliation. For better or worse, once the election is over, the man in the oval office is our President and deserves support.

However, I am greatly disturbed at what I think I’ve been hearing and the signs I think I see. They are not just a fantasy. They are Orwellian in every sense of 1984.

I believe the Bush Administration has cast a spin on so many issues, and on so many responses to issues, and so many news accounts of issues, that all there is is spin. The truth has long since disappeared. And this was never more evident than when Helen Thomas, long time AP Whitehouse Correspondent and Dean of the Press Corps started asking questions of the President that he simply refused to answer. Instead, he engaged in a dance spin that left my head spinning and my heart aching and my blood pressure rising.

In my mind, President Bush has nothing left to lose. His polls are the worst they’ve ever been. There were no weapons of mass destruction. The “Mission” has never been accomplished despite banners hanging from flight decks of aircraft carriers. Osama Bin Laden remains at large, and now Iraqis are on the eve of a deadly civil war. President Bush needs to admit we have failed. What more can we do when a nation’s people can not decide for themselves what they want their country to be? Iraq never asked us for help, but we charged on in anyway. And Bush can not admit any responsibility and he remains committed to this war so much so he said that it will be up to future Presidents to figure out how to get us out of it.

I ask all of you, is that leadership?

As Americans, I believe we need to speak up and demand accountability. We can not be indifferent. The Iraqi war has been so costly for us that it diverted precious resources that could have been used to shore up levees in New Orleans many years prior to Hurricane Katrina, possibly averting the brunt of our nation’s worst natural disaster. Hurricane season is just around the corner. How can we continue supporting a war and burning our political capital and increasing our national debt when we can’t even take care of the basic needs for own citizenship or come to their aid when natural disasters strike?

I believe it’s time to speak out, America. We must rise up. We can not have a different world, or a different country, if we as a people continue to remain indifferent and focus on who Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt are sleeping with, or which team will win the Final Four, or what team will be the next Superbowl Champions. A democracy only works when its people are engaged in discussion and debate. 1984 is here folks. We might not recognize it for what it is, but our President’s doublespeak and triplespeak is exactly the communication that was used by the government in Orwell’s classic that we all read in high school. And even though we were warned by George Orwell many decades ago, we have most decidedly allowed it to come to pass by our indifference.

Stand up America. Speak out. Do not stand for lies and for spin any longer. I know I won’t, and I appreciate Scott, and an old ABBA song and a fortune cookie for shaking me out of my indifference.

Thanks for reading.

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Firefox Display Issues

I just wanted to make a quick post thanking those who have brought this issue to my attention. Currently, there is something wrong with my template causing display issues in Firefox. IE is displaying everything correctly and I use IE, so I was mostly unaware of the issues. I am working on the problem and I appreciate your patience while I work on fixing the template.

Thanks for reading.

Mamma Mia...Here We Go Again!

In an unprecedented announcement that is sending shockwaves around the world and generating enormous buzz and anticipation, the four members of the 70s supergroup ABBA have announced that they will reunite to perform a one-time only benefit concert to raise funds in support of the candidacy of Christopher Walken for President.

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Speaking for the group, spokesman Bjorn Ulvaeus had this to say in a brief statement:

“Agnetha, Frida, Benny, and I are pleased to announce that we will reunite in a one-time only event in a concert to raise funds in support of Actor Christopher Walken’s bid for President of the United States in 2008.

We have long supported peace and freedom around the world. Songs such as “I Have A Dream,” “Soldiers,” and “The Visitors,” have expressed our wishes for peace while the latter two were our songs of warning during the Cold War period when nuclear annihilation seemed just around the corner and dissidents in the Former Soviet Union were pursued. Our musical “Chess” was a very thinly veiled metaphor for the Cold War and our dream of a peaceful resolution—which thankfully has come to pass. But new threats have emerged that continue to threaten peace around the world.

In 1979, in honor of the International Year of the Child, we donated all royalties from our song “Chiquitita” in perpetuity to the children of the world through UNICEF. However, these tokens of action are not enough. While we have always remained neutral politically, and have never really been activists outside the environmental realm—where Frida is doing a tremendous job—we are at a point in our lives where we feel it is incumbent on us to act for our children’s futures, as well as the children of all the peoples of the world who have given so much to all of us throughout our lifetimes.

"Mamma Mia" is now the 15th longest running musical on Broadway. "Mamma Mia" has celebrated its third record breaking year at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. We believe that we have now achieved a success in the United States that goes way beyond what we ever achieved with “Dancing Queen” or “Take A Chance On Me.” So we have decided the time is right to make a difference in the only way we can.

This performance to raise funds for Christopher Walken will consist of our songs for peace and include a brand new record. It will be televised to as many as two billion people around the world. We anticipate that it will raise enough funds in this single event alone to allow Christopher Walken the ability to take on America’s political system and emerge victorious; but more than that, we anticipate it will raise the awareness of issues around the world. It is our dream that this gesture and act will set the planet on a path of peace.”

In related news, Bruce Willis has joined Demi Moore in coming out in support of Christopher Walken. You can read the latest on Scottage’s blog Perspectives of a Nomad and you can view Christopher Walken’s political platform here.

This story is a farce, and is paid for by Christopher Walken for President.

Thanks for reading.

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MTMD's New Graphical Design!

A huge shout out to Stephanie Davies for taking my ideas and photos and turning them into this beautiful blog template!

I first entered the blogosphere two and a half months ago to make it easy for friends and family to follow my vacation adventures in Alaska last January. Blogger allowed me to upload great pictures of that huge and open land known as our forty-ninth state and share those adventures as they were happening without the delay and inconvenience of having to send post cards.

Since I started blogging, I have some across literally hundreds of blogs with some amazing graphics. I said to myself: "Now that is really cool!" and I wanted to expand the look of my blog beyond what Blogger offers and make it truly beautiful and unique. I think I've achieved that with the awesome help of Stephanie Davies and her awesome design talents. (If you're interested in contracting for her services, you can find contact info in the post immediately below this one.) Tonight my dream of creating a beautiful online presence was realized, and over two hours Stephanie and I fine-tuned and debugged the template to optimize it as much as possible for IE and Firefox.

Graphical design has taken up much of my time the last two months as I searched for that elusive look. I truly believe we have achieved a unique and beautiful style, and now with this out of the way, I can go back to concentrate on my blogging.

I hope you will take a few minutes to look around, post a comment or two, and enjoy Stephanie's creative work. And I hope you'll return frequently for the content as I continually update my blog, add functionality, new features, and hopefully, some interesting posts.

Thanks for reading.

Coming Soon: MTMD gets an Extreme Makeover

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A peek at things to come! Stephanie Davies is working hard on completing my new template, but I thought I'd give you all a peek at the new header graphic.

Stephanie is one of the most patient, masterful, and talented web designers out there. Many of us know her from her awesome work on the Mystickal Incense and More Blog. I can attest to the fact that she creates art of the highest level and presents in a clean and structured way that would make the most demanding professioanl proud.

If you need a new template, I highly recommend Stephanie and her most affordable services.

Stephanie, you rock!

Thanks for reading.

MTMD Welcomes "Full Metal Photographer" and Kelly Hoffart!

This week we have a new Blog Explosion Tenant that I hope all of you will check out by clicking on the thumbnail over on the right sidebar, and MTMD is proud to welcome Kelly Hoffart and his blog, Full Metal Photographer.

Kelly is a very gifted young law student, heavy metal fan, author, photographer, and out-of-the-closet Kurt Russell fan. (OK, I admit it, I really love the movie "Soldiers" too and I have it in my DVD collection. I also agree with Kelly, as he posts on his other blog Full Metal Attorney that Kurt Russell is underated as an actor because he chose to balance his career with family, but that's neither here nor there.

Kelly is well on the way to becoming a photographer of the highest order. When you have a passion for art or a hobby or a sport, you give it your all and keep improving in your skill. Kelly's skill is obvious from the photographs he posts on Full Metal Photographer in addition to the ones on display at his Photography Website. These photographs are available for sale for very nominal fees, and I encourage you to check them out. Kelly has quite a portfolio.

Welcome to "Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta." Kelly! I'm proud to have you here.

Thanks for reading.

Celebrating 10 Years of Rafting!

What an amazing ten years! The 2006 Whitewater Rafting Season opens today at outfitters all over the United States, and this spring marks the tenth anniversary of my discovery of this amazing pursuit. Whitewater Rafting has changed my life in so many ways and has allowed me to make so many new friends from all over the United States--the most special of which are the Company Owners and Guides and Whitewater Professionals that I have come to count as true friends. I continue to be blessed and touched by their generosity of spirit, warmth of soul, kindness, humor and grace.

It all began back in May of 1996 when I took my first rafting trip on the South Fork American River in the middle of California Goldrush Country. Yep, that's me in the green hat back when I still had hair.

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I was visiting family out in California and was looking for something to do during the week while my family was at work. I opened my AAA Tourbook and found an ad for Whitewater Rafting by All Outdoors Whitewater Rafting. I had always wanted to go rafting, but never had the opportunity. This was it. I called them up and booked a trip on the South Fork American. Little did I know at the time, but I had just booked a trip with one of the Top Five outfitters in the United States. This trip set the standard for all my future whitewater rafting experiences, and I was fortunate that the trip whetted my appetite for more.

Lori Schlaven was the guide, and she was training a new guide. Lori was fun, patient, energetic, funny, intelligent, and completely in command on the river. She taught me how to paddle a raft and she gave me my right back stroke, which every guide on the Gauley River will tell you is a right back stroke they are glad to have in the raft with them.

That first trip was 20 river miles of amazing scenery and great fun. And it gave me sunburn on my shoulders so severe that even ten years later the freckles have not gone away. You know what? I wouldn't trade those freckles for anything.

It wasn't until 1998 that I was able to get back on the river again, this time on the New River in West Virginia. You see, I had heard about the Gauley River, but it was a major Class V and I figured I needed to work up to it with more practice. Everyone advised me the New River was just the ticket. Unfortunately, what I didn't know was, that in the summer of 1998 when I rafted the New, it was at extremely low water levels and missing most of its power. Still it was a fun trip, and after rafting 16 Miles of the New I knew I was ready for the Upper Gauley. Yeah, right.

So I booked a trip on the Upper Gauley the following year in 1999. Unfortunately, the weekend I was to go, there was a major hurricane coming up from the Gulf Coast. So I cancelled the trip and deferred it to October of 2000.

My trip on the Upper Gauley On October 7, 2000 was the one that changed my life. All the details of that trip can be found HERE. But to make a long story short, what happened was that I fell out of the raft at the top of the First Major Class V Rapid: ironically named "Insignificant."

If you've never swam a Class V Rapid, it's so hard to explain the icy cold of 48 degree water penetrating your wetsuit on a 42 degree day. It's so hard to explain the power of the rapids as they toss you about and dunk you under and spin you around as if you were a sock in a washing machine spin cycle. It's so hard to explain that even though you're barely moving a muscle and just being swept downstream while holding on to your paddle that the river is sucking every ounce of energy from your body and tiring you out so completely--really more so than if you had just ran a 10K--in a mere twenty seconds....

It was a rush. but more than that, it was one of those moments of clarity and revelation in life. And the confidence it gave me from experiencing, enduring, and surviving the thrashing of my life really changed me in ways that I'm still pondering and coming to terms with now.

I hope you'll click on the link above to read the full account--it's drama of the highest order and it was a permanent bonding experience for me--Man to the River, and Matt Urdan to Raft Guide Joey Anderson.

So after returning from that Upper Gauley trip, I started throwing myself into learning as much as there was to learn about rafting and whitewater. I joined American Whitewater and got involved and became a Stream Keeper and started working on some projects. Through which I examined the websites of every rafting company that operates in the US, I corresponded with them all, read their brochures, talked to many of the company owners and river guides and formed opinions and gained a knowledge base that has earned me the reputation of the most experienced commercial rafter alive today in the United States. It's not a distinction I attributed to myself, but one attributed to me by Gregg Armstrong of All Outdoors, Dave Arnold of Class VI River Runners, and Sutton Bacon, President of American Whitewater.

After learning about all these great rivers out there, I set goals of rivers I wanted to run, and I methodically started planning vacations around rafting. 2001 saw me going to the legendary Chattooga on the South Carolina and Georgia Border, out to California to raft with All Outdoors and American River Recreation on the Merced, The Tuolumne, and the Kaweah, and so much more. In California I rafted four days and covered 2300 miles by car in a 7-day stint on the West Coast, somehow finding the time to make it out to Crater Lake National Park as well.

This picture is of the Merced River Team Extreme. The Merced was low, only about 1100 cfs, but this trip and rafting with these guys turned out to be one of my all time greatest rafting trips for the fun we had fooling around on the river.

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And then there was my first trip down the Tuolumne with All Outdoors and Amy Blaskovitch. Here, standing in front of Clavey Hole right below Class V Clavey Falls, I was literally making a dream come true.

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Clavey Falls on the Tuolumne is one of the all time Classic Class V Big Drops. The experience lived up to its reputation and running it has been one of the highlights of my rafting career.

After returning home, I made two trips out to Maryland on consecutive Mondays to raft the Upper Youghiogheny with Precision Rafting out of Friendsville, owned and operated by the legendary kayaker Roger Zbel. I haven't been out to the Yough in a couple years, but I've promised Roger, Nancy, Margaret, Olliver, Mark, Walter, Steve, Tom and the crew that I have NOT forsaken them or the Yough and that I will be back this year.

Every raft trip in 2001 in the spring and summer was a warm up for my triumphant return to West Virginia and the Upper Gauley in the Fall. I rafted the Gauley on five consecutive days in September during Gauley Fest week. Friday and Saturday on a reverse overnight with friends I had met on the internet from the American Whitewater website and with "MY" guide, Joey Anderson. Sunday on a Double Upper Run, again with Joey, in which legendary Pillow Rock met the Titanic:

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I really loved showing the video of this to my father. He watched the video frame by frame, rewound the video, and watched me disappear frame by frame again. I can only imagine his thought processes as he spent twenty minutes watching ten seconds of footage. Hehehe.

Monday was spent on a Gauley Marathon, and Tuesday was spent on a special 4000 cfs highwater release on the Upper Gauley with North American River Runnersfor the World Rafting Championships. It was an exciting trip, and it was awesome practice for the true highwater trip I was to take two years later. But anyway, in five days I gained some notoriety and met more people: Tom Wagner, Aletha Stolar, Mark Lewis, Brian Jennings, Bobby Bower and a whole slew of Gauley River mainstays. Trip after trip, I just met more people and made more friends and became known without ever tyring to do so on the waters in West Virginia.

Here I am with Joey, and fellow Guide Barb at Sweets Falls on the Upper Gauley at the end of the Double Upper Run.

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2002 saw more milestones on the river. More trips on the Upper Yough, being beaten down by Cherry Creek--the ultimate in Whitewater Rafting in the US, and some fun on the Upper Gauley in the fall as you can see by me and Bobby Bower doing a promotional trip in full Cow Gear.

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2003 started out with a return trip to the Chattooga, and my first trip on the Ocoee where I met up with Sutton Bacon of American Whitewater:

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Sutton, you'll have to pay me an awful lot of money if you want me to take this pic off the web! ;-)

And then, something glorious happened. I was relocated to Parkersburg, West Virginia for work--only 2 hours from the New and Gauley, and rain system after rain system created high water conditions on the New and Gauley all spring and summer. So, I made it down every single day off from work and split my time rafting with NARR and Class VI. We ran the New at 6', R-3ed it at 7', 10', 12', the Upper New at extreme highwater of 55,000 cfs, the Lower Gauley at 5500, at 7500, at 10,000 cfs, and we also ran the Upper Gauley on those rare days when there were summer releases.

I rafted with more boats, met more guides, renewed more friendships and made more friends those highwater days than probably any other period of my life. Brian Jennings, Mike Kookura, Mike Baker, Danny Ochimoto, Melanie from Songer, Dan from Songer, Mary Lou at VI, Harriet at VI, Mark Schoonemaker, Marty, hell, everyone at NARR and VI; a group of awesome trainee guides at VI and most significantly, Kim Constans from VI. Kim became my most requested guide, and we bonded all summer long exchanging winks and knowing smiles as we rafted the Upper Gauley, the Lower Gauley, and the New with first time rafters.

Later, during Gauley Season, Hurricane Isobel dropped a ton of water the night before a Double Upper Gauley overnight. We put on before the river got out of hand, but by the time we reached the confluence of the Meadow and the longest and most notorious Class V Rapid, Lost Paddle, the river was raging well above commercial cutoff. 5600 cfs or 6500 cfs depending who you talk to, the river was big. There are features on a river at highwater that you never see at normal flows. Kim had never seen the Upper Gauley above 3500 cfs, and here it was at more than double normal flows.

At the third drop of Lost Paddle, there was this massive wave that was easily 20 feet high. Nothing on the river has scared me as much as that wave at this rapid at that flow. People get stuffed under undercut rocks in extreme conditions, and this is where I thought the raft was going over and I was going to end up in Davy Jones' locker. But damn if Kim didn't dig in, and damn if I didn't dig in, and damn if I didn't scream at the top of my lungs for the others to dig in and DRIVE! DRIVE! DRIVE!

And...we made it through our biggest challenge to the relief and cheers and applause of others downstream. You see, there were many guides bigger, stronger than Kim. There were many guides more experienced than Kim. There were many guides who talked a bigger talk than Kim. But no other guide took their boat over that 20' Wave at the Third Drop of Lost Paddle. Kim earned her standing on that day, and damn, did we enjoy a five minute hug completely glued to each other at the bottom of Sweets Falls after surviving that highwater run, and Damn if we didn't get quite drunk at the overnight camping spot that night.

2004 was a bit of a let down, rafting-wise. I only had two trips, but one was the Main Salmon in absolutely amazing run, and more of a relaxing, decompress kind of trip in the wilderness than an adrenaline pumping trip down a Class V River.

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In September, I got on the New once, but other than that, I had no other raft trips. I was in between jobs at the time of Gauley Season, but again this year, hurricane after hurricane came up from the Gulf Coast, and I had no intentions of getting out there on a highwater trip. Kim also seemed to have had her fill, and she disappeared from the rafting scene. After experiencing what we did in 2003, there's two lines of thought: one is that it can't get any better than this, pushing oneself to the limits and achieving. The other is, that trip was so terrifying I just don't plain want to do that again. In 2004, I was feeling a little of both.

But in 2005 my hunger was back. Highwater was flooding the Merced and the Tuolumne and South Fork American and closing Yosemite National Park so I had to go out to California and raft with All Outdoors again. I saw the SFA with AO River Manager Greg Dunkel in a private boat with just me and him and no one else on the river at 7000 cfs. It was amazingly special.

And then it was back to the New and down to the Ocoee, with Sutton Bacon, who had started his own rafting company The Cross, and we R-2ed the Upper and Middle Ocoee.

Every time I showed up at VI or NARR the running joke was: "Hey Matt, when are you going to come to work for us and train to guide?"

By this time, I wasn't a customer or a guest or an outsider any more. In 2005 I was invited to guide parties, hung out in guide lounges, went out to eat with the guides, joked with them, helped them set up for lunch on the river, and even went on Upper Gauley training runs wearing my own Type III PFD instead of the Type V customers are required to wear on the river.

And taking the highwater Upper Gauley trip and pushing it further, I had the real privileges of R-2ing the New with Brian Jennings, R-2ing the Upper Gauley with Brian Jennings (that's me on the left at the second drop of Class V Lost Paddle, just going over the Hawaii Five-O Wave):

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And then Shredding the Upper Gauley with Class VI Co-owner Doug Proctor:

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Amazing rivers, high water, low water, being part of the river running community and the AO, NARR, and Class VI families, being able to return favors to Class VI and Jeff and Doug Proctor and Dave Arnold, and NARR and Brian Jennings and Mark Lewis and Frank Lukacs....

What a ride I've been on for the last TEN YEARS! And it all started out of an AAA Tourbook, on an easy Class III River in California with one of the friendliest guides and persons you can ever hope to meet.

THANK YOU ALL--TO THOSE NAMED AND TO THOSE UNNAMED, BUT YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Here's looking forward to another great Ten Years and amazing runs and Unforgettable Memories.

Thanks for reading.

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"Beware the ides of March."

This line from "Julius Caesar" remains one of the best-known and oft-repeated quotes from all of Shakespeare's plays. It warns Caesar of impending doom. The quote has recently been popping up on more than a few Web sites and in a number of articles discussing current political concerns.

The sites that follow deal with both the old and the new.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival. Visit this site to meet the players and learn of their upcoming productions. Next up is "A Streetcar Named Desire," March 30-April 23, followed by a return to the Bard with "Richard III" beginning in May. My only question is why they decided to close the previous run of "Julius Caesar" last Sunday - just three days before the "Ides." I'm guessing a show tonight, correctly advertised, could have been a sellout. If you're interested in reading the play and seeing how it all turns out (or at least how Shakespeare reported it), this site will let you call up the passage and even jump to the entire text if you're interested.

Wikipedia. Not only will you find a good description of the common use of the phrase "Ides of March" from Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia, you'll also find an excellent recounting of the assassination of Caesar with plenty of links to define and explain any terminology that might be confusing. Then, after the official listing, is what I consider to be one of the best features of the Wikipedia pages. Scroll down to see other references to the phrase, including Thornton Wilder's novel, the song by Iron Butterfly, etc.

Astrology. This one from the About collection goes a bit into the history and mystery of the soothsayer's warning. There are also several related articles referenced and linked at the bottom of the page.

Beware President Bush!. This article warns another leader, specifically ours, to beware the Ides of March. Read what Mathew Maavak, (currently a visiting fellow at Jakarta's Centre for Strategic and International Studies) has to say to President Bush about the ancient prophecy and today's political climate. There's no question which side of the political fence Justin Raimondo sits on, in this article from If you're still firmly behind President Bush, these comments are inflammatory. But like the soothsayer, there's proven accuracy in this 2003 piece.

CounterPunch. Another current warning comes from William S. Lind, from the "CounterPunch" political newsletter.

Vanity Fair. In this one, James Wolcott, contributing editor for "Vanity Fair," quotes from the article above and adds his own warning about new concerns about our continuing fight in the Mideast.

Monetary Future of America. "Is the Federal Reserve Preparing for Iran? Beware the Ides of March." Written by Robert McHugh, this piece paints a frightening picture of the monetary future of America. His research is solid and even if you don't agree with his politics, it will be tough to refute his facts.

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH EVERYONE! It could get rough out there today.

Thanks for reading.


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Hey Mom! Happy Birthday!

I know we talked about this on the phone the other day, but I'm heading to the doctor this morning for the cough that just won't die. It's probably bronchitis. I'm pretty sure of the diagnosis because the other 950,000 people that live in Columbus have bronchitis or pneumonia or the flu or the cough that just won't die as well.

Unfortunately, though, this means I have to quarantine myself from you and stay away from Detroit. But I promise I'll come home at the first opportunity after I get better.

Sickness does have its funny moments though. Yesterday morning at the restaurant my Training GM and I were receiving the truck. She's sick too. So she starts hacking away. I start hacking away. She hacks away. I hack away. Kind of like a really warped version of "Dueling Banjos" I guess.

You know I really miss the old days when we could call up Papa David and have him just bring home antibiotics from the drug store. Oh well, guess I'll have to do it the hard way today.

Talk to you soon, Mom. Love ya!

Yosemite Featured In New Postage Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service released a new Yosemite National Park international rate stamp at the end of February, and it's a beauty!

Featuring a stunning view of "Gates of the Valley" by famed outdoor photographer Galen Rowell, the stamp is part of the new "Scenic American Landscape" series. For collectors and Yosemite lovers, the Yosemite Association has developed a special First Day of Sale Cachet that carries the special cancellation developed for the stamp along with the normal Yosemite National Park postal cancellation. The ivory envelope is printed with a beautiful line drawing of El Capitan by Jane Gyer, along with a description of the image and its significance.

The cachet is now available for only $5, and Y.A. members receive a 15% discount and can purchase this collectible for only $4.25.

Thanks for reading.

"River" by Colin Fletcher is the March Selection of the Meltwater Book Club

One Man's Journey Down the Colorado, Source to Sea. Colin Fletcher illustrates more than any other that Life is a Journey. Rivers have been used as a metaphor for the journey of life since writers started writing. In truth, this blog uses that theme as well. Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta. Those four words describe a river's evolution just as they describe a man's journey through life.

Colin Fletcher is the guru of backpacking America, and his treks through the California desert and the Grand Canyon have delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. But when, at age 67, Colin Fletcher decided to make a six-month single-handed foot and raft expedition down the full length of the Colorado River, it was not only for adventure (and the likelihood that no one had accomplished it before), but because he needed "something to pare the fat off my make me grateful again for being alive."

From its Green River source in Wyoming to its black conclusion in Mexico's Gulf of California, the 1,700 mile Colorado is America's second longest river and the one with the most beautiful vistas. For Fletcher this was an opportunity to perform aesthetic and emotional geology on the landscape (and on himself), and to treat the reader to a host of dramatic, moving, and hilarious experiences. We see sandhill cranes and great blue herons; we experience many miles of whitewater challenges that stretch Fletcher's rafting capabilities to the limit; we float through stupendous canyons and open desert, pass mountains and abandoned villages; we flyfish for rainbow trout. We meet the people who live along the river, other adventurers, tourists. We wake up every morning to fresh views and the rewards of wilderness solitude. And finally we come to know this feisty curmudgeon who in his late sixties achieved the journey of a lifetime.

The author of the Grand Canyon classic The Man Who Walked Through Time, adds to his life list of desert voyages. He ponders his own life's passage, musing on lost loves, the experience of war, the onset of old age, and impending mortality. Following in the footsteps of John Wesley Powell, "River" is a welcome addition to the growing body of Colorado River Exploration Lore, and remains a pioneering adventure worthy of ranking among the world's best.

Thanks for reading.

Welcome Stephanie Davies and The Mystickal Incense & More Blog!

MTMD has a new tenant this week! Now located at the top of the right sidebar is the thumbnail link for Stephanie Davies and her blog: Mystickal Incense & More.

This blog is the weblog of the website Mystickal Incense & More. As Stephanie writes on her front page, this isn't just a business blog. Her blog has daily rants, contests, reviews, and much more! One of her current topics is that always controversial one of tipping restaurant servers and pizza drivers. It's a very good discussion with 19 comments already, and if you've ever wondered about why you should tip servers and pizza delivery drivers, you should definitely read this post. The other daily features are equally entertaining and informative.

Stephanie is a very talented young lady. It turns out she has designed many blogs that have been featured on Blog Explosion, and after speaking with her, I have asked her to help redesign my blog. I can't wait to see what she has been working on. And, as you can tell from her website, Stephanie hand-makes all of the incense, candles, bath & body products, and other items sold at Mystickal Incense.

Stephanie's thumbnail will be hanging out here on Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta. until next Monday, so please, click on the pic and check out her blog. I guarantee it will be worth your time.

Welcome Stephanie!

Thanks for reading.


It's been about a week since I've posted, and this little bugger pictured here is what has been responsible for my lapse. It's called the FLU, and while it looks rather harmless, it has the power to knock even the strongest among us out cold. Last Tuesday I slept for 19 hours straight without waking up. I had a fever over 101 degrees. I had a headache that kept me confined to a prone position. I had sweats. I had chills. I had absolutely no appetite and even Chicken Soup was unappealing. Naturally, I started a new job last week. Perfect time for the flu, right? Fortunately my new employer was most understanding and sent me home for needed bed rest.

After four days of that nonsense, I visited the doctor, got a Zithromax pack (great stuff!), nasal spray and cough medicine and now I can say I'm above 90% once again--which is critical because Whitewater Rafting Season begins in West Virginia within days, and I've got at least 30 days of rafting I have to get in before the season ends at the end of October. Hey! It's all about priorities.
New Site Design
I spent the better part of today redesigning my blog. Still playing with and learning about CSS. This is another interim step. I had to leave the old template behind because for many it was hard to read with the background image and tiny font. Plus, I wasn't really happy that the white layer the content was placed on didn't really automatically adjust to fit the content. But onwards and upwards. I still have some tweaking to do with the graphics on this template, but so far so good. I hope it's more readable.
Please welcome OneManBandwidth!
Okay, sorry Lonnie. I know I said I would get this welcome to you out last Tuesday, but I've been sick and could barely function, let alone write anything. Better late than never though, and while this rental campaign is coming to an end, at least I got this little plug for you in time to say goodbye. I appreciate you renting my space.

If you have not seen Lonnie's blog, please click on the thumbnail on the upper right hand corner of my blog. Lonnie B. Hodge is a Writer, Professor, Editor, Entrepreneur, China SEO, Business and Trade Specialist and a Sourcing Consultant for emerging and established businesses seeking to improve their visibility in overseas markets. His blog is beautifully designed and his posts reflect the culture of the Middle Kingdom as well as presenting the Asian perspective of our illustrious politicians and our nation's standing in the world.

Thanks again, Lonnie, for renting space on Meltwater. Torrents. Meanderings. Delta. I'll be sorry to see you go.

Thanks for reading.