Monday, October 29, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRAMMA!


Happy Birthday Gramma!

October 29th. That date always makes me smile. It is my Gramma’s Birthday… well, it Was. She has long-ago left the living side of this place we call Earth. But every time I see that date it makes me smile. I still wish her a Happy Birthday every time.

This Gramma I refer to is My Mom’s Mom. Ironically, this is the one I call ‘Gramma’, not the proper “Grandma”.  Why is this ironic? Because My Dad’s Mom was actually more casual in most ways, yet I called her by the proper of “Grandma”.  The one on Mom’s side was often the one who was VERY Formal…Well, some times. It really does make me smile to consider her more ‘formal’, because in the ways she connected with me in life, and why she was so important usually were all the times she was less-than formal. (Far Far less than formal!)

You know, it really is ironic. Gramma was often the most formal person I ever knew. She was a high-society, Country-Club (Golf, not boots, hat, juke-box style), world-traveling, Pearl and Diamond wearing High-class lady. She was the one who felt children should be seen, and not heard. She was the one who was all about the image, the way others perceived you, the standing in society, the finer-things in life. She was the one who had formal dinner parties where the men wore their finest suits, and the ladies wore their heels and pearls, with obligatory shrimp-cocktails, and proper silver at each place-setting in her formal sparkling dining room, under the crystal chandelier.

Why is it Ironic? Simple: While she was all that, she also knew how to be The Most Casual person you’d ever meet. She was The one that when the pearls came off, she would be the first to be a nudist. She would be the first to help any person in need. She would be the first to make sure her Grandkids had a Coke, some Triscuits with cheese, and a Banana. She would be the first to volunteer to take a carload of kids to the local amusement park. She would be the first to welcome any of our friends over at any time. She would be the first to allow us to make a sheet-fort in her formal dining room for a sleep-over. She would happily take her grandkids, and any of our friends out to some of the best restaurants… and allow us to be kids. She would proudly introduce us to all the people she knew in her high-society world, yet not be embarrassed one bit to relax, and even be a kid herself.

While she was a stickler for proper grammar, and proper English, she would be the first to speak fluent Pig-Latin at any given moment. While she was the first to promote proper English, she was the fastest with the zingers of any word-play puns. While she was almost hell-bent on anyone speaking any language in America other than English, she was the first to want to understand every culture she ever came across, including learning their native tongue. When at her house, it was not uncommon to hear her interacting with someone of a different culture, and attempting to have a conversation using the language of that individual. She knew how and when to let the rule of Proper English be thrown out. Likewise, anyone who ever had a conversation with her also valued being let-in, and cherished that she would actually want to learn and converse in their own. Yet, they also knew there was a time and place for Proper English in her presence, and a time to allow the native-tongue to come out.

While she sometimes could not let some article of clothing go past her without pointing out a flaw in the stitching, or a flaw in the fabric, or note that it was not properly pressed, properly starched, or any other imperfection, she would also be the first to let us take a pair of scissors to our good pants to make raggy cut-offs at a moment’s notice… then the next day, or later that same day, take us to a store to buy new pants. She would be the one who always made sure we had clean clothes if we stayed at her house, yet the first to encourage us to get dirty in her garden. She would be the one who had an immaculate garden, yet if you watched her after dark, you got the pleasure of watching her go snail-hunting. Yep, even after a formal dinner… if you knew when to watch, you would see her in her dress and pearls, with a flashlight, and an old shoe… she would hunt for those pesky-snails every night, using her flashlight, pluck them with her bare hands, place them on the brick, and smash them with the old shoe!

She was the one who always presented a clean house, an immaculate yard, and the last to ever have a visible clothes-line for drying her laundry. Yet, she hated to waste money running the clothes dryer. On any given day, you would see all the laundry, including the torn-tattered underwear carefully placed on every chair, bench, patio table, the diving board for the pool, the fence-boards, or any other surface she could utilize… but she would not have a visible clothes-line! She did have some discreetly hung lines under the boat-port that she often used, but would never be caught with a visible clothes line in the yard. Her yard was always clean, so often she would even just lay the towels, clothes, etc directly on the patio to dry. As funny as he was about not running the clothes-dryer, she would run it when you least expected, too. She loved to surprise any guest at her house with clean clothes when they least expected it. Often when we had been helping in the garden we got unexpectedly dirty. Naturally we would just strip and go skinny dipping afterwards, not worrying about the laundry, or whether our clothes we had removed were clean, or not. But, by the time we had finished skinny dipping, laying in the sun, and decided it was time to put clothes on again, we always were pleasantly surprised to find that Gramma had gathered, washed, dried, and folded what we had previously been wearing! Any time us kids, or our friends ended-up spending the night, but had not planned on it, she would gather any clothes we had been wearing, and when we woke the next morning, our dirty clothes from the day before were cleaned, dried, and neatly folded at the foot of the bed. Often, we were baffled and amazed by the magic of clean clothes. We often wondered how and when she had pulled off such magic!

In My Blog, I have written more individual blogs which contain references to how much of an impact My Gramma made in my life than I have about any other individual. It is ironic too, that She was so important in so much of what makes Me who I am today. Because, as a kid, I really did not understand, nor realize how much of an impact She made. Only once I started discovering who I am really am, after years of struggles as an adult, did I understand the impact she made in my life. I ALWAYS Knew she was a Huge Part of my life as a kid. I Always Loved when I got to spend time with her. I always cherished the freedom she taught me. I always cherished the acceptance she gave me.

These things, too, are very ironic. The valuable things she taught me are often puzzling, too. She showed me how much importance she placed on how a person’s body looked, yet she was The One Person who Never, Ever made me feel uncomfortable about my body. She was the one person I never had to hide Anything from, yet she was the first to condemn a person for so many things they would do.  She was The Only Person I never felt ashamed in front of, no matter what. She was not at all worried, or condemning toward me on things I would be mortified to ever allow another to see. She showed and taught me Acceptance of another. This acceptance she taught was so valuable, because she showed acceptance toward me in things she openly admitted she was not comfortable with, did not like. She taught me how to learn to love another, even if I did not like what that person did, or how they looked.

But she was not this way toward just me. While she was openly against so many things that did not suit her lifestyle, she also welcomed ANY lifestyle of those who were our friends. She did not always think they were appropriate, and she likely would make those feeling known, But she still welcomed Any we brought into her home. Even those who she made very clear she was not happy about their choices, they were still welcome. They knew how she felt, but she was careful to not push them away. There was an odd respect that was truly admirable.

While I am sure I missed some, Here are some of the Blogs I mention Gramma in… even tho’ some deal with some of the hardest times in my life, there is also fun, love, and some darned funny life-lessons, too. You might find some fun in any one of these!
~The one when I learned My Family moved out of state while I was at camp: http://enterwithanopenmindorclosedeyes.blogspot.com/2011/09/surprise-your-family-moved-out-of-state.html
~And of course, the Hilarious Summer When My Grampa and I became naked Smurfs… (Yes, Gramma is highly featured here, too!): http://enterwithanopenmindorclosedeyes.blogspot.com/2012/05/summer-grampa-and-i-became-naked-smurfs.html

There are more references to Gramma in some of the other Blogs, too, but these show much of her character, and some of my connection to her.

Another interestly ironic thing about My Gramma: I do not have a single picture of her. Not One. Many times in the past year, as I am sorting old photos, attempting to get all my past into some sort of organised mess, I ponder why this might be. It is not that there weren't ever any cameras around. heck, I was even a fanatic about capturing everything on film even as a kid! Amazingly, I have very few photos of any of my life at Gramma n Grampa's... yet I spent so much of my first twelve years at their home. 
But, Fitting enough, I happen to have one photo of a Birthday at Gramma's... This one is Me n My Mom, celebrating our birthdays in 1980. I was 12. Mom was... well, a little older. This shows us blowing out our candles in Gramma's home made pies! 
Me n Mom, Grammas homemade Bday pie. Campbell, Ca. March, 1980

On This 29th of October, I say:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRAMMA!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How I got The Name "Fred"


How I Got The Name “FRED”


I Have had many nicknames over the years, but One is by far my favorite, and holds the fondest memories. That name is Fred. Having a name of "Jon", it would seem that being called "Fred" was not something most would come-up with. But it happened, and it stuck. It has been over 28 years since I was given that name, and occasionally, I still tell people my name is Fred. Then I smile. It happened again yesterday. When I said my name was Fred, then smiled, the girl at Subway who I told this to did not get why it made me so happy. I then told her my real name was Jon, not Fred. She was confused as to why I would say a different name. I told her I would explain more when I did not have to go catch a bus.



Many many years ago (1984 to be exact!), I moved to a new home and new school. This was Medford, Oregon. When I moved, there, it was the beginning of My tenth-grade year of school. It was Medford Mid-High. I was new at this school, and classes had started before I moved, so I was starting new and late in a foreign place to me! I didn’t even know anybody, or my way around the school yet. 

In my leather crafts class, I met a guy, named Mike, that also had the same next class as me. He offered to show me the way there. I think it was a science class, but that part is not important. I sat at the same table as he did. Behind us were two girls. One of them wanted to get my attention, and not knowing my name yet, said “hay Bud”. I had no idea she was referring to me. Then she said it again, and I realized she was trying to get my attention. Being the smart-ass that I am, I turned and said “It is ‘Miller’, Not Bud!” (meaning different beer name)

Well, that opened the door. The Girl next to her said, “Then We will call You ‘Fred’.” I laughed, and told them “My name was Jon, Not Fred.” They decided then, that my new name would be “Fred Bud Jon Miller”.

I was happy with that. The two girls turned out to be quite funny, and I enjoyed getting to know them. They were Kendra and Michelle. As the school year moved-on, we became good friends. The Next Year, we all went to The Medford Senior High. (it later changed to North Medford Senior High). There, Michelle introduced me to her sister, Sonja. Well, it was obvious that those two were really close, and best of friends, too! Sonja happily welcomed Me in as “Fred”. The name stuck. Michelle, Kendra, Sonja, and I were close enough. We were School-buds. They made me laugh, feel comfortable, and always were happy to see me, as I was them.

Then after time passed, and we had graduated, in 1987, life happened, and I never saw any of them again.

Fast-Forward to 2008…. I found Sonja and Michelle on Myspace. I wrote each of them and said I was “Fred”…. To which they both remembered exactly who I was! Kendra had passed-away, before I could locate her again. We continued to keep in touch, and have gone over to Facebook as well.
Many times, when asked my name, I happily tell people “My Name is Fred.”

It always gets a side-ways look, and makes people wonder. 

Michelle, Sonja, and Kendra, too…… You made a lasting impression in my life! And over twenty eight years later, That very first day still makes me smile, and get a little teary-eyed! Thank you for the name of Fred!
                                HUgS!, Always, Fred ~=:-)
                               (Fred Bud Jon Miller)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Great Pumpkin

The Great Pumpkin
It is That time of year... The time when the quest for the absolute best pumpkin becomes The Most Important thing on your list of things to do.

It is funny how most of the year, we hardly even think about pumpkins, but once Fall rolls around, they begin to have at least a trickling effect of appearing in our lives. Once October is in full-swing, they are slightly more noticeable everywhere we go. Once the third week of October comes around, we suddenly realize how dire the need is to suddenly go and find that all-mighty, all-perfect pumpkin for Halloween. Only one week remaining until Halloween, and we have not yet gotten that perfect pumpkin!

We see beautiful pumpkins all around us. Every neighbor, every business, and every other thing we look at has a great pumpkin on display. Some are carved, some are painted, some are just plain. But they all have their great pumpkin on display for the world to see, yet we notice we still do not even have one. Oh, the horror! You notice you are The Only One without a pumpkin, and it is less than a week before Halloween! How could this have happened?  You suddenly feel the need to go and remedy this problem. But in the dire need to not make it look as if you just rushed out at the last second to get yours, Now the Quest for The Ultimate Great Pumpkin is more important than ever!

Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin
You've got to suddenly come up with one that when the rest of the world sees it, they will Know you did not forget, but rather waited until the right moment to allow it to be seen. They will know without a doubt that you chose to wait, so it would not make theirs look so puny for the weeks prior. They will know you had compassion, and wanted them to at least be able to think theirs was The Greatest for a brief period of time. Because the moment yours appears, Theirs will forever be no longer noticed. es, That is how you need to play it. Play it as though you really wanted them to have the spotlight for at least a week or two prior to revealing your Greatest-of-all-pumpkins ever displayed.

But... That still leaves you needing to suddenly figure out how to actually suddenly come up with such a magnificent Pumpkin. Because, if after all that waiting, they see you only put a less-than wonderful pumpkin on display, they will know you actually forgot, and had to rush to buy whatever was left at the pumpkin patch... or worse, At the corner market! ~Gasp! The Horror! Could you imagine even showing your face after such a pathetic attempt?

So, you have a few options:
You can go to the local Pumpkin Patch and hunt all over the fields to find the perfect one that all the other thousands of people tromping those same fields have somehow missed.(If you live in a region that happens to actually grow pumpkins!)

Here is a good reason why waiting so long to go to a Pumpkin patch is not a good idea. See those crowds? Yipes! Sadly with so many people crowding the local pumpkin patch, The Best Pumpkin you might find is the one you can poke your face through to have your picture taken with "The Perfect Pumpkin"... Sigh~ So Much for The local, and crowded Pumpkin Patch, huh? (yes, that is Me in such a pumpkin...)


You can choose to go to a less-populated, less-crowded Pumpkin Patch (which happens to be an hour's drive away...)
Then once you get there, Run freely all over miles and miles of open fields of Pumpkins. Wow, you think, This Is The Greatest! I Could easily go hunting forever here, and find The Greatest Pumpkin! Oh, The Excitement!
(This is a picture of Aly... One of "My Kids" I had the pleasure of having in my life for many wonderful years.)


While searching and hunting, you might stumble upon a seemingly great pumpkin... Only to discover it has already been carved! Oh, The nerve, huh? The crew at this pumpkin farm actually carved the greatest pumpkin... and left it here as a teaser! It really was funny, since we found it from the back-side, then came around to the front to see the face carved in it. So, I placed my hat on it, and lay on the ground behind it for a funny picture!



Sigh~ It seems we waited too long to find ourselves The Greatest Pumpkin at a pumpkin patch....
So, that leaves us with a few other choices...in our desperate search to find the Ultimate Great Pumpkin this close to Halloween:

You can go to where someone has trucked-in a bunch of Pumpkins, a few hay-bales, and made a make-believe pumpkin patch. (Odds are the best ones have already been grabbed-up by the employees for their own homes.)
Or you can choose to go to the corner market, and hope to find something slightly worth the effort of even leaving home in the first place. (Odds are If you buy a pumpkin from a store, it will look just about the same as every other pumpkin sold in that entire community, since they are all trucked-in from the same source.)

Having not planned ahead enough to plant a garden and actually grow your very own Great Pumpkin, and not finding anything satisfactory in any of the other available places, this leaves you with only one option:

What IS That Option, You Ask? Simple!
You MUST BUILD Your Very Own Great Pumpkin! (What?? What Do you Mean Build A Great Pumpkin??)

That Is Exactly What I Did! I Built One! Yup! Over 300-pounds, almost three-feet high, Orange!
My creative mind came up with The perfect way to build The Great Pumpkin! Build it with wood, and instead of nails, use glue, so you can still carve it.

I made a few trips to local housing construction sites, and gathered all the scarp wood they pile for people to take away for free. In no time, I had the materials I needed. (I just needed to go to the hardware store and buy the glue, some paint, and I was all set!)

I started with a solid wooden block. Then I layered pieces of 2x6 in a semi-circular pattern to create a semi-round shape, hollow in the center. Then I would glue the next layer in a pattern making sure none of the seams overlapped to give it strength. I continued this process until I had a complete (but very rough) pumpkin-shape.

In the photo to the left, you can see the rough-shape of The great Pumpkin in the process of being built. (on the floor... lower right of picture.) Hehe, Again a picture of Aly is used to show what I need. She happened to be a very important part of my life at the time. The thing she is sitting on happens to be a cat-condo/ scratching-post she and I built together at the same time I was building The Great Pumpkin. She was wearing her Great Pumpkin/ Snoopy Pants, too... Perfectly appropriate! (She chose to sit on the cat post, to illustrate how strong it was, and that even her tough-cat would not be able to destroy it!)



After building the complete, and very roughly-shaped wooden pumpkin, that is when The Real fun began! The fun of carving it! Now, normally, when someone carves a pumpkin, it is Already shaped as a pumpkin. Plus it happens to usually be soft enough to carve with a simple knife. Carving a wooden pumpkin is just a bit more involved...

To begin, I had to first shape the outside of the wooden pumpkin to look like it was in fact pumpkin-shaped. This was fun! I used my skill-saw, sawzall, and assorted other saws to roughly get it the shape I wanted. Then I used assorted sanders, grinders, etc to make it just the right texture.

After it was shaped mostly how I wanted it, I began the process of actually carving it like you would a regular pumpkin. But since I would be literally carving in 6-inch-thick wooden walls, I needed to get more than just a simple knife to carve with. Bring out The really Big Sawzall Blades! Oh yeah!

Then, some orange paint, and Viola! The Great Pumpkin!



































We all have different ideas and can find joy in so many varieties of pumpkins. Some like really BIG Pumpkins. Some like really small Pumpkins. Some like carved, some like to paint, draw or use other decorations. Whatever your idea of The Greatest Pumpkin is, I Hope You find it, create it, and enjoy it this Halloween! I leave you with one more pumpkin...

Meet Jack!

This Little fella Is My Absolute Favorite This Year! Meet Jack... :)

To me, This little Ducky-Pumpkin IS THE GREATEST PUMPKIN. Why?:
Because a wonderful friend just gave this one to me... Just in time to celebrate this season of pumpkins. And It happens to go very nicely with all the rubber ducks I collect. (or, rather it would be more appropriate to state that the Ducks Collect Me, Not I collect them!)
(Thank you, Frankie for Giving Me this One!... The Great Pumpkin!)


Happy Fall, Happy Harvest, Happy Halloween! What ever is your reason to have a Great Pumpkin... Enjoy it! ~=:-)


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"It's Because I'm Black"


“It’s Because I’m Black”
Yes, I hear that phrase (and excuse) way too often in Vegas, 
and hear it daily on the bus.
Here is a news flash, people: YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES WHAT COLOR YOUR SKIN IS. Knock it off!
Nobody cares if you have red, blue, black, purple, yellow, green, white, or pink skin. Stop using your skin color against yourself.

Skin color does not determine one iota of how anyone behaves, how classy or trashy anyone is, or how much education one does or does not have. Skin color does not determine if you pay your fare-share in life, or try to ride for free. Skin color does not matter if a machine is out of order, or if it works. Skin color does not determine if you should follow the rules, or get special treatment.

Now, before anyone goes and gets their panties in a bunch about this post, I hope you will read it entirely rather than just read one or two sentences and take it completely out of context.  This Is Not a post against people with any certain color of skin, any nationality, or heritage. It is not even about everyone who might have the same shade of skin color. It IS About those few who think they deserve special treatment BECAUSE of the color of their skin. EVERY HUMAN is different than any other human. Every human’s skin is different than any other. There IS NO such thing as two people, or a group of people having “the same color skin”. What we all have in common is simply: We Are All Human. Shouldn’t We all Act like it?
Not a single human has any choice in what color pigment is in their skin. Whether you believe in God, or not, you were created, and you were created beautifully. I personally believe in God, and Know God does not create anything worthless. There is no such thing as an ugly human. We are all incredible works of art. Sure, everyone has the ability to choose what they do, or do not like about what they see in other humans. But Not a single living creature has any say-so in how they were created. We cannot choose, or even change our creation. But we fully have the capability to control how we behave, how we act towards others, and how we get along (or don’t) in this world. THAT IS What This Post is about.

Every day on the bus, I see the same thing. Most people who ride the bus do so in an orderly fashion, pay their fare, and know they need to follow certain rules for the privilege to ride the bus. (Yes, I said it is a privilege. It is not a right, or even supposed to be available for everyone.) When someone chooses to ride a “public transportation” vehicle (a bus), they agree to the terms of a civil-society to be allowed to ride. Nowhere is there a law that states anyone can ride anytime they want. Nowhere is there a law that states “if you don’t want to pay for bus ride, you can choose to ride for free”.  It is a service provided for those who wish to pay for that privilege. When one chooses to ride a bus, they agree to the terms which make it available. One of those terms is to pay for their ride. Most of the riders buy their pass, never make stink about it, come and go in daily life without a problem. Everyone riding knows that it is not free, and knows there are fines if you do not purchase a pass. It does not matter what shade someone’s skin happens to be. We all are the same. We all take up space on the bus. We all must pay our own way. Riding the bus is a very economical way to get around the places we need to go. It is much less expensive to ride the bus than any other form of motorized transportation. A monthly pass costs much less than a citation for riding without a pass. It is a minimal cost. If someone does not have the money, or feels they should not have to pay, The only option is that they do not ride. They can choose to walk, or ride a bike, or get a ride with another person who happens to have a vehicle.

But because not all people feel they need to pay for such a privilege, the bus company needs to hire fare-inspectors to patrol the buses. These fare inspectors do not have an easy job. Some people feel they are an exception and think they should ride for free, or even if they do have a pass, they feel they should never have to show it to any fare-inspector.

Fare inspectors are not on every bus. They board buses at random, so nobody knows which times they will be asked for proof of payment, and which times they will not. But every rider knows they will be given a $75 citation if they choose to ride (and get caught) without a pass.

Once a fare-inspector boards a bus, most people cooperate and know how to behave. The inspector does not check only one or two passengers. They start at one end of the bus, and check every passenger all the way to the other end. They do not skip anyone, nor do they only pick certain people to check. Most people will simply hold their pass up for the inspector to see as they walk past. It is a simple process, and to inspect the whole bus usually takes less than a minute. But there is always one who does not have a pass, or has it and thinks they should not be checked for it.

When a fare-inspector comes across a person without a pass, they simply ask that person to show their pass. The reply from that passenger is always one of the following: “Why, because I’m Black!?” Or “Because I’m Black, you think I don’t have a pass?!” Or “You’re only checking me because I’m Black!” The inspectors never fall for that garbage, nor do they sucked into the trap of entering the race-topic. They simply state: “I check every passenger for their pass. May I see your pass, please?”

But for some reason, the ones making such a scene seem to think they are being singled-out. They will assert again that they believe they are being asked simply because they are black. The inspector will again ask for their pass. But they will not show it, and accuse the inspector of being racist. Then the inspector will point out that everyone else on the bus, many who also have similar-shades of skin have already shown their passes. Then they will ask how they feel they are being singled-out, if every person on the bus is asked to show their pass, and all the others show it without a scene. Then the inspector will ask for an ID to write a citation. Often, at this point the person will produce a pass, and again grumble that they were singled out “for being black”. The inspector will thank them for showing their pass, and inquire why they felt they needed to make it so difficult.  At this point the grumbling passenger will reply: “You only checked me because I am black, and you thought I would not have a pass because I am Black.” The inspectors are baffled by this, and often will again point out all the other passengers many who happen have “black skin” cooperated, showed their passes, and did not cause a disturbance. Often the inspectors will say something like: “If you have a problem with the color of your skin, that is your problem, because nobody else does.” Or “Why do you behave that way? I checked every person on this bus. You could have simply shown your pass, and made it easy?” For some reason the offended still believes they were the only one checked, will start getting belligerent, cussing, and causing a major disturbance. Then the fare inspector will have the driver stop the bus, and the offender is evicted for causing a disturbance. As they are leaving the bus, they will be swearing, grumbling, and hollering about “being kicked off the bus because they were black”. Everyone on board just shakes their head in amazement, and disbelief at how ignorant one person among fifty can be. How is it one person can believe such nonsense, yet all the others saw it for exactly what it was.  (One person causing a scene because they thought their skin color was somehow an issue.)

Often, the ones causing a scene do not have a pass. They seem to think it is ridiculous that they should have to pay to ride, and even more ridiculous that anyone would ask them for proof of payment. You often hear them say such bizarre things as: “I didn’t buy a pass, because I’m Black.” Or “I’m Black, you know I can’t afford a pass.” Or “I’m Black. I should not have to pay to ride.” The fare inspector will ask for ID to write the citation. They Never give an ID. They will find something to argue about until they see an opportunity to flee at the next stop and run away from the fare inspector. Even as they are running away, they are yelling about “being singled out because they are black”. The inspector will just shake his head, then radio to the other inspectors the description of the offender.

Sadly, not a day goes by that I do not see this same thing occur. Most of the people on the buses pay their fare. They show their pass, and never have a problem. But there is always one who makes a scene “because they are black.”

As often as I see it, I am sure the inspectors see it a hundred-times more often than I do. You would think that seeing it so often, I would be used to it, accept it, and not even pay attention when it happens. But it still amazes me every single day that any person could be so ignorant to think they are treated any different  because of the color of their skin, or to think the rules don’t apply, or they are singled-out solely because of their skin color.

The other day, I needed to validate my new 30-day pass. This can easily be done at any machine at any bus-stop. The machine at my stop was out of order, so I could not validate it. No problem, I would just use the machine located on the bus when I got on.  I sat down a few feet from the out of order machine, and waited. The next person to come up also approached the machine. I told him it was not working. He just glared at me, so I let him figure it out for himself. After many attempts to get the machine to dispense a ticket, he started hitting the machine, cursing at it and yelling about “The machine won’t give me a ticket because I’m Black!” I got up and waited far away from him. He then started hollering at me “You can’t stand to be seen near a Black Person! You went away because I’m Black!”  I just shook my head in disbelief. I tried to tell him it would not work for me, but he thought that I should not have spoken to him. He would not shut up long enough for me to tell him I went away from him because of his behavior, not his skin color. He could not even notice that I stayed sitting right next to him until he got violent, and start playing the race card. He clearly was the one who had the problem with the color of his skin, not me. Yet, he thought he could attempt to somehow make me into some horrible monster because of his bad behavior. It amazes me at the level some will go to just to isolate themselves from humanity.

When the bus came, he was still ranting, cursing, and complaining about the machine that would not give him his ticket because he was black. I went to the machine on-board the bus and validated my ticket. He chose to go find a seat, and not get a ticket, still trying to get others to feel sorry for him because of his skin color. Most people looked at him and shook their heads. The rest just ignored him.

At the next stop a fare inspector boarded. (He happened to be black.) Before the inspector even had a chance to begin asking for passes, the man started hollering at the inspector about the machine that would not give him a ticket because he was black. The inspector looked at him, laughed, shook his head and went about his normal business of checking for passes. When he got to me, I showed him mine, and told him what that guy had done at the previous stop. He laughed, and said “Yeah, it’s always the same excuse with some people. They cannot understand that machines do not see anything or know what the human looks like.” He laughed as he went on down the length of the bus. Most of the riders give no hassle, show their passes, and there is no scene.

When he got to a lady who did not show her pass, he simply asked to see it. Without even looking up, she started yelling “You’re just singling me out because I’m Black!” He just stood and smiled, waiting for her to look up. When she did not get a reaction, she looked up to find out why. (usually if they start hollering, they are seeking some sort of attention, and are surprised when they do not get it.) She was surprised alright! When she looked up and saw a guy smiling at her with a look of “I’m not buying your game” She did a fast look around, hoping to find others who would join her fight. Nobody said a word. We all just looked at her and gave her the same look of disbelief, and wondered what it takes for someone to think this kind of bad behavior is at all acceptable. Then she attempted to turn on the charm. She said “Oh, good, you’re Black, too. That means you’re on my side.”  The inspector looked at her and told her to “Knock off that crap. I Do not tolerate any form of racism. Either you have a pass, or you get a citation.”

She said, “But I’m Black!” He asked again for her pass. She looked in disbelief. Then said, “But Blacks are supposed to support each other, let me slide, sweetie!”  He told her “I am not your sweetie. If you think you deserve special treatment because of the color of your skin, you’ve got a lot to learn.” He was very stern, and not at all pleased with how she was being so racist. He told her “Until you stop making your skin color an issue, you will never get anywhere in life. There are no sides. We all are equal. Now, do you have your pass, or not?” She grabbed her bag and ran from the bus as soon as it stopped. As she left, she was screeching about “You’re Black! You’re supposed to be on my side!” Although she could no longer hear him, he said “There are no sides. We are all human, and we all have to pay our fair share.”

Then the inspector turned toward the belligerent man who was still complaining about the machine that would not give him a ticket because he was black.   He walked up to him, looked right at him, and said, “Now, Sir, What is this nonsense about a machine that is racist? No machine can see anything about your skin color. It was out of order for the guy who tried to use it just before you did. He tried to tell you, but you insisted on being ignorant and causing a scene. Now, you have two choices: you can give me your ID so I can write you a citation for not having a pass, or you can shut your mouth and go to the machine on this bus and buy your ticket.” The man started to argue again about “because I’m Black…”, but the Inspector cut him off quickly. He said, “You, Sir are the Only one who cares what color your skin is! Knock that crap off! There is no excuse for behaving that way. If you have a problem with the color of your skin, then I suggest you stay home, because you will never make it outside your home with that attitude!” The man shut-up, and just glared at the inspector. He refused to go get his ticket from the machine, so the inspector insisted on his ID. He ran from the bus as soon as the doors opened.  The inspector looked like he could not believe how hard some people like to make their own lives.

For those of you who happen to have a problem with the color of your own skin: KNOCK IT OFF! YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES. Nothing happens only to you because you have a certain skin color. What does happen is because of your attitude. There is a difference. IF YOU TRULY BELIEVE SOMETHING HAPPENS ONLY BECAUSE OF YOUR SKIN COLOR, You might try looking around. You are not the only one who has skin similarly shaded. If 99% of the people around you do not have issues, then you might look into your own behavior. Behavior is deeper than skin color. It might amaze some to discover they are the only ones misbehaving, or causing a scene. It might amaze some people to discover everyone else on the bus paid for a pass, showed it without a scene, and went on with their lives without feeling the need to pick a fight, or cause a disturbance. If you despise the fare-inspectors, you might notice YOU are the only reason those fare-inspectors exist. If YOU would just purchase a pass, and do what you are supposed to do, there would be no need for an inspector, and nobody would ever approach you and ask to see your pass. If YOU would learn to behave in society, and not think you deserve special treatment, you would be amazed at how smooth your life could be. The way YOU are treated has nothing to do with the color of your skin.

Here is a challenge for anyone who feels they are treated different because of the color of their skin: Rather than just assume someone has a problem with the color of your skin, why not ask them? … That is IF YOU Really Want the truth! But since you would rather isolate yourself with such ridiculous beliefs that it is “Because I’m Black”, then you likely do not want to know the real reason… that reason being because your attitude sucks. In case you did not yet notice, Attitude is not connected to any color of skin. But I challenge you: Ask, and seek the real reason you are treated differently. But you won’t, because that would mean you had the ability to make changes, but since you know you cannot change the color of your skin, it is easier for you to blame everything on your skin color.  Are you willing to change your attitude? Or would you rather go through life making everything difficult “Because I’m Black”? The choice is yours… so is the result you get. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Risking Seizure to Watch Trains in Vegas


Walking The Worst mile in Vegas…
…Risking seizure, risking dangerous drivers…
…With the hope of seeing a train, or two:
Enjoying Trains in Vegas is not always easy:

One of my life-long joys is to watch trains. Sure, there are plenty of train-tracks running through Vegas. It would seem all one needs to do is go to the tracks, and watch the trains. Well, in Vegas, it is a bit more complex than that. In Vegas, if you step onto the gravel surrounding the tracks, you Will be arrested and cited for criminal trespass. This is different than in most cities. Sure, it is considered trespassing all over The United States, but very few places actually enforce it, unless you are causing problems. The railroad police in Vegas have a zero-tolerance approach, and vigorously go after anyone they see even set foot on the railroad right of way.

In most places, you can walk the rails, enjoying the miles and miles of pure-escape from the surrounding world. While walking the rails, you will often see a different side of the city, find pure peace, find joy, and have a great way to see every train that comes along. The engineers and crew always wave, smile, and happily allow you to take photos as they go about doing their job. Everywhere, except in Vegas.

Since you cannot go even near the rails in Vegas, you must find the few places where an overpass allows an occasional glimpse of a train that might happen to come along while you are waiting.

I have found a few places where there are grade-level-crossings that I also can linger without actually stepping onto the Rail right-of-way. Sadly, those few crossings seem to not have many trains on a regular basis. I also have found a few places where I can dare to cross the tracks without being harassed (yet!) by the railroad police. But these are limited, and without any place to walk along the tracks, or linger, I seldom get any train-activity.

There is one spot I have found that is an overpass over the rails, and I often do see trains along those tracks. The problem is this overpass is The Noisiest, most-treacherous, non-pedestrian-friendly mile of road in All of Vegas!  But I occasionally choose to go there, despite its down-sides.

Yesterday, I was craving a Five-Guys Burger, so I decided to make it an adventure, and walk across the Worst Mile in Vegas… Hoping I might see a train, or two.

Sure, I can take a bus that stops a block from the Five Guys Burgers. But to get that bus, I need to take another bus just to get to it, then wait almost an hour for it to arrive. If I am going to wait for an hour, I might as well be walking, finding something to enjoy along the way.

So, I take a bus that requires only one bus, comes every 20-minutes, and is only a block from my home to start the journey. This bus drops me off about two-miles from Five Guys. From here, I need to cross the horrible overpass. It is 8 to 10 lanes wide, has multiple freeway ramps, side-street ramps, many “No Pedestrian areas”, and where there is a supposed crosswalk, there is no light to stop the traffic heading for the freeway. Sure, there is a crosswalk, and every responsible driver knows they need to stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk, right? Ha! Not here. Often I need to wait 5-10 minutes just to cross.
The sidewalks are barely 3-feet wide, not even allowing room for two people to safely pass on the sidewalk. Often the bicyclists will use the sidewalk here, adding to the extreme unsafe nature of it. (Every cyclist knows they must ride in the road, not on the sidewalk, but in Vegas, they seem to think they have right-of-way, and will run-down pedestrians. On many occasions, I will literally ‘knock a Cyclist out’ for not yielding to a pedestrian.) Also for some odd reason, every vehicle which uses this overpass seems to have very loud exhaust. Every vehicle here seems to have enhanced their exhaust sounds, or no muffler at all. It is an extreme test of my ability to not be sent into a seizure form the horrific sounds all around! There is no place else in Vegas where so many rude drivers all gather in one place. For some reason the people driving here also think they must drive radically, recklessly, and forget all the rules of the road. Add to this, that the overpass is crossing a major interstate, and many frontage roads. Often, the only thing preventing a seizure is the distraction in my headphones. I really need to work hard at blocking-out all the seizure-inducing sounds in this one-mile-stretch.

So, with all the horrific hazards, even life-threatening conditions, would I ever dare to cross this overpass? Simple: Trains… or the possibility of feeling, seeing and enjoying such a wonderful creation. If you have never allowed yourself the pure joy of feeling a train go by, then you would never understand. To me, the feel, the sound, the sight of a train is unmatched by any other of man’s creations. The Only thing that is better is Nature… God’s creations. So, That is why I risk my life on occasion.

When I left home yesterday, I knew without a doubt, that I would see trains this day. I knew I was in a great place mentally, so I could handle the idiots of the overpass. I knew I was in the right place to not have a seizure from the sounds. Let the adventure begin!

The views are always fun, despite the traffic.
A rare moment when there
is an opening in the traffic.


The Overpass...
Nothing but concrete and noise


Sometimes, Vegas Seems so small from here...

Even Sunrise Mountain looks small from here.
The massiveness of this concrete area is so overwhelming.

Even though it is fenced, The lure of The Tracks is wonderful!

Miles and Miles of tracks... Untouchable by humans on foot in Vegas.

It really is cool how Tiny Vegas appears from here.


A Lonely signal light

See how easy it is to get lost in the lure of the tracks?

I cannot see it, But there is a train below
this bridge, waiting for another train
to pass before it joins the main line.
I can feel and hear the rumble of
the train waiting below this
overpass.


Loco Duck is Happy to find some trains

Here Comes the train on The main line!!

Ooh! Smile!! :)
Loco Duck catches the Locomotive as it goes!


So Much Joy!

Can ya count 'em as they go by?
See? You forget about the traffic!



One White tanker.

The End...

A rare moment... I stepped into the road to take a picture
of where I walked-up from.

Enjoy the calm, while it lasts!

here comes the second train!

Enjoy the escape from what's going on in life




The fence actually helped frame this one! :)


There it goes...

Already miles down the track... But so much joy!

Now to continue down the other side of this overpass.
Time for Five Guys Burgers!