Sunday, December 20, 2015

Alba Road

We, my companion and I, are going up to climb Alba Road on bikes. I don't know him very well, but I know ALBA Road.
It's a vigorous, demanding ride. I did it plenty when I was young and hearty. Only, now I'm neither.

Some strain, now. Some real pull. I go past a bit, then he catches up, passes. I can barely turn the cranks.

And we have not yet arrived at Alba Road.

It's no good. The approach was never like this. The earth has stood up. I stop. I signal, and my companion returns the gesture. We are leaving off.

The dejected fate and forlorn expression of the defeated. There's nothing for it but to turn back, approach some more pleasant enterprise. We'll do our next projects separately, however. He was my Alba Road partner, but it was a failed partnership.

A subduction layer which heaved subterranean waves of mountain in my face to render me feeble and ancient.

Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Check out my Ookla Speedtest result. What's your speed?

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Not Fourth St: Leaving Home

My mapping program tells me that road I took quite suddenly one morning just about 43 years ago is now 1,695 miles long. From Meadow Lane in Bottom, TX to Bancroft Drive in Monte Sereno, CA, took me 47 hours in my little veedub, whereas the map says it should be done in 26. I also remember it as 1,775 miles. 

The distance discrepancy is probably due to larger diameter tires today, so that a mile is not what it was once upon a time. It's longer, therefore there are fewer of them, due to tire inflation. (Mileage may vary. In fact, it's guaranteed.)

When I drove the road west, I approached Tucson. The sign read
"Tucson - 25
Phoenix - 141."

Okay. A few miles further, having nothing better to do for 47 hours sitting there, I noted another sign. It told me

"Tucson - 10
Phoenix - 116"

which meant not only was I closing in on Tucson but so was Phoenix.

You know what carpenters say about lumber yards. You pay for the sawdust. They cut on the line, or just your side of it, and so your board foot amounts to inches.

Probably some corrupt official in the Federal Highway Department is shaving off miles and selling them on the black market, as black miles matter. Sort of like the Richard Pryor character in Superman III, the accountant who truncated slices of pennies instead of rounding them from a gazillion transactions and bought himself a little red Ferrari with the spare change.  Some brother-in-law is operating a gold mine where a Comanche bead shop once did business in Yuma. 

I regard the pivot into that trip as a conversation within an auto one summer evening headed south on 121.

James Arie is driving the Bad Plymouth while I sip and grin. There are others present. I ask about Existentialism, as James has been away to school, maybe studying philosophy ... or auto repair, for all I knew.

"Does it mean that I cannot improve my lot by skipping out to the coast?"

"It is the shaking off on the empirical level the overlay of doctrine, duty, dogma, and desolation in the adventure of a self worthy as only it can be of both striving and reward, person and chance, regard and reckoning."

"Yes," said Margaret Singer from in back, "but have you considered the power packs of all our cells, the mitochondria? In there, besides protein energy bars, are free radicals whose job it is to wreak aging, to diminish, eventually to destroy all our faculties to get rid of us, to move us individually offstage to ready the next act, to further the experiment. It's the best evidence we have of a power interested in the species or family instead of the individual. It's exactly like Geek mythology."

"I was hoping it meant I could start over on the coast ..."

I did anyway. Worked for me.

Sent from my Fire

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Interior - Neon

A cathedral of glass and tile. The subject is transit.

You will have to check your suitcase. Also your carry-on.
All right. I'm new to this. What duo I sho?
I'll do everything. Just raffle this ticket. Tomorrow there'll be another palace like this. You'll see signs. Follow the one that says'BAGGAGE CLAIM.'
Got it.
Not yet. You do not go there. You place your claim rocket in the recycle bin. You walk away from the palace and you don't look back. You have that?
What happens to my baggage?
It will eventually emerge from the underground conveyer onto the carousel. It will begin to circle then. Round and round it will go, both your suitcase and your handbag. It will go on forever.
But ... Everything I am is in those bags!
Common misconception.
There must be some continuity! I can't just reticent myself every day!
No, of course not. You are six years old, slightly plump, and you study bugs and draw comics.
No, no - well,I have moved on from that phase.
Good point.
But I have places to be, people to meet, I have responsibilities now!
Yes, there will be a princess and a rodeo queen, then a teacher and a ventriloquist.
Hey, wait I know them. I've met them!
Say hello. Have a nice trip.
But ...

... From my KINDLE HDX

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Education of T C Bowden

A Boy Chasing a Bird

A sportswriter once described a line drive, as, hit solidly, it was only about head high when it left the infield ... the right fielder came in for it ... turned when he saw it rise ... but he was a boy chasing a bird ... the ball was still climbing when it left the stadium. 

The baseball is the reality, the object, but it isn't the story; only its route matters. It becomes actual, reified, by the umpire, then the scorekeeper, who mark down the official transit. The rest is for the legend to determine. 

 I learned from My Weekly Reader that the communists, by disallowing freedom, were "surely signing their own death warrant."

 I learned that Madame Chiang Kai-Shek spoke English "without an accent." The first study question for that issue was, "Does Madame Chiang Kai-Shek speak English with an accent?"

 "Uh-oh, Punky fell on his South Eastern Asian Treaty Organization." 

That was when he tried the standing broad jump over a mud puddle and almost made it. We were even in elementary grades taught about our Asian alliances. 

I learned all this in Bailey Inglish. It was a good decade for learning, the fifties. 

The redheaded kid is running in the hall. We aren't supposed to do that, but he's a rowdy. From over in the rowdy section of town, you know. Just like 'em. 

In first grade, Jack had a hit in recess against the upper class, and Dickie fanned. Punky could outrun me, and I could beat James. In high school, the positions held. Nobody advanced above anyone else. We were all just little bowling balls rumbling down the alley. 

Better report the redheaded kid to Mrs Miller. Mary Ann stands up for that duty.
Punky comes up to me at recess, asks me to go with him on a mission. A teacher wanted him to bring something from downtown. It was the first time he had spoken to me personally, and I was honored. He was very popular and most voluble in class, which may have been the same feature. We became friends. 

 Mary Ann told Mrs Miller when she came back to the room, who quite properly reprimanded the redheaded kid. None of your rowdiness, redheaded kid! But Mrs Miller left the room again, and the redheaded kid became even more rowdy. Actually began throttling Mary Ann for ratting him out! What fun!  Bill put him in a Full-Nelson like we learned from Sportatorium wrestling.  Held him until Mrs Miller returned. That's when she paddled him. Serves him right. Take that, redheaded kid!

Punky had an idea. Said, let's fire a rocket way up above Bonham, have it shoot a photo, then parachute down to us. Simple. I mean, it's not rocket science. 

Oh, wait ...

Okay, I said. So we compiled our coin and bought fireworks. 

We attached something to test its load-carrying capacity. It failed the test. Never left the launching pad. Said his papa Willis, "This rocket is designed to carry only the stick upon which it's launched." Oh, we said. Rather than build a more powerful engine, we gave up the whole project and our town remained uncharted from ten thousand feet forever, for all I know.

A tacit understanding in our school was that we were all of the same fair-to-middling class, and nobody was better than anyone else and nobody better be acting like they were. Yet a hidden plebiscite was in how we considered such activities as running in the hall. If Jack or Punky do it, it's funny, a lark; if the redheaded kid from the poor side did it, he's reported and Mrs Miller swats him. It's fair if everybody knows the rules, but the redheaded kid, he's only middling, and he wouldn't play by the rules. Just like him. 


Mrs Miller came out to Liberty Street to sell us a set of Compton's Encyclopedia. My fifth grade teacher wanted to insure a proper education for their son, so pony up the funds, parents! She can't do this alone. The tab, as I recall, was considerable for a fair-to-middling household. But who would deny the effort needed to provide for the children? Not my parents. Mrs Miller did us all a favor, for education and our future plus a healthy commission. Thanks, Mrs Miller! 

In Compton's was an article about the Communist Menace. There were supplements of Compton's every year to keep us abreast of developments. A panel of dour dudes in suits posed behind a giant board with photos of unhappy men on it, some with exes drawn over their faces. Those were the ones who had been sent to prison, thank God. They were all members of the Communist Party, which was illegal. Belonging to a club was illegal? Never in all my school days was there an explanation of just what was the crime here. It must have been severe, because there was a war against communism being fought at that moment. The headline for the article in Compton's always read the same: Freedom in our country expanded again this year but steps must be continued for our own safety. Well, when you put it like that ... 

Here's the redheaded kid, heading back to his desk, fuming. It's at the back of the room, of course. Finally he blurts, "This school ain't nuthin but a bunch of (obscenity ) little snitches and (obscenity ) teachers!" 

Mrs Miller started for him then. She was determined, but she really didn't want to reach him, you could tell."Come here, boy," she muttered. She was glad when he bolted out the back door for the bike rack. Pushed other bikes over. Rode off into the sunset. 

We were not taught problems, only solutions, rendered in broad general abstractions like Freedom and Democracy. 

 There were no arguments, no questions, just foreigners making trouble we had to prepare for. In junior high, our reading list included a thrilling page-turner by J  Edgar Hoover called  Masters of Deceit. (He did much better work on his vacuum cleaner.) And a report was entitled Federal Aid to Education, and the answer to that was, no, because federal aid meant federal control of our schools. Unmentioned was integration, which did not exist in our town all the years I was in school. Nor did communism, near as I could tell, probably due to the diligence of our junior high civics teacher, who would stand in a near panic in the classroom, flapping her hands, wailing, "They're winning! THEY'RE WINNING!"


Some who never even visited the Texas plains marveled that the state was once Democratic. Whatever happened to change it? 

Think of cattle grazing in a pasture as you drive by quite early one morning. The sign on the barbed wire keeping the cows off the road reads King Ranch. Now you are heading back home in late afternoon. The cattle are the same and the pasture is, too, but the sign on the fence now says British Bovine Ltd.

The southern fair-to-middling working class suffered from two strokes while grazing: the civil rights plank in the 1948 Democratic platform and their party's flirtation with the counter-culture twenty years later. The brahmas never changed in any way; the only difference was in the brand. They were now under new ownership. 

It was decency, humanity, or it was votes; so the Democrats chose one and the Republicans were glad for all the low-lying fruit. (They are reaping the whirlwind today.)

Our education was similar to the design of the old Offenhauser Indy racers of the day: heavily loaded to turn right only, and trouble lay in store when any obstruction was on the track. And so some of the more aware graduates of Bonhi came back home with some puzzling questions, which naturally occur when you encounter other voices, other rooms. 

"What's a conservative? A liberal?"

And so they began to work it out. 

"The game is musical chairs, with all the players circling the seats while the music plays. There is one less chair than there are players, and the one not finding a seat when the music stops is out. That's the liberal game. Now imagine one chair only and a player sitting and all others standing. And no music. That's the conservative game."

I've been in touch with my old classmates in more recent times. The red headed kid says he does not remember the incident of the throttling of Mary Ann, nor does she. Others in the room at the time do not recall the event at all, or incorrectly, which means not as I do. That entire epoch varied by every witness, and you wonder why all the trouble was taken to structure our days. All we needed was an umpire and scorekeeper. 

Punky had an abiding curiosity about death. "I want to know what it's like a minute before, and a minute after." 

He was a very popular guy, Punky, and a fine athlete. When he walked by the girls would turn and smile, "Hi, Punky!" He had a very serious, even sombre wave, not smiling, just acknowledging, his right hand low and forward. 

Had a bad complexion, which speaks volumes for his personality. I played football with him for four years, junior high and junior varsity. We had an offensive scheme which was seriously flawed, and we won when we did because Punky was the best runner on the field. The coaches seemed to resent that. Always critiquing. Coach Anderson told him to wait until he was in the secondary to begin his "fancy-dan stuff." Coach Nelson didn't like his running motion, said too much of it was kicking up his heels. Even I knew you cannot adjust a kid's running style. Besides, Punky was the fastest guy on the team. Just too fancy for the grim grinder guys. 

During their first year at UT, his roommate James came home to discover Punky hanging in their trailer. 

He left a lot of notes, apparently, including instructions for his wake and funeral and the assigned roles of his friends within the ceremonies. "You have to be pretty wrapped up in yourself to do something like that," wrote Hemingway, who should be credited on the subject. 


Croesus  was angry that his great wealth did not win for him the title of Happiest Man on Earth, but Solon of Athens was of the opinion that no story can be judged until after the last chapter. If you're still playing, it's game-on. I myself think of the Google executive who had it all - wealth, toys, wife, children - until his corpse was found aboard his yacht in the harbor last year and the security video revealed a hooker administering a lethal dose of heroin. 

All of the premises and promises of the wars and the rages during the Not 4th Streetera availed us nothing but great loss of life and treasure and every common experience of our school days is lost in time and Punky was accorded the second grandest funeral after Mr Sam, and it's all just blowing in the wind. 

And that long drive, head-high when it left the infield, climbing still as it left the stadium? Jesus, that was some shot. Just foul. 

 NOTICE: That section of Highway 82 which passes through town east and west is no longer 4th Street. It's now Sam Rayburn Drive, repeat, NOT 4TH STREET.   

For some time after this notice appeared in the Daily Favorite, locals referred to the particular roadway as Not 4th Street.

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Upgrading An Ancient Contact List

There's one on every tour. Seymour had been everywhere and knew everything. Harriet and George hoped to avoid him during the visit to the Vatican. The Pope was scheduled to appear on a balcony to bless the vehicles. "I'll go with you. I know everybody in Vatican City. Just knock on my door after breakfast. "

So they sneaked out of the hotel before breakfast. And here he was in the courtyard right behind them!

"Hey, missed you this morning. They need me inside for a minute but I'll be right back to show you around . " And he was off.

The Pope walked out onto the balcony, right on schedule. And right beside him, also waving at the crowd, was Seymour!

"This is hoax," said George. "That can't be the Pope. I'm gonna ask somebody. " And he moved off in the crowd, looking for anyone who seemed native Italian. Here's one.

"Excuse me, but can you tell me, is that really the Pope up there?"

"You mean the guy up there with Seymour?"


This has been a test of Tim's address book. Had it been a real email, there would be something in it. If I see no return, I'll delete your account from my contact app. Thank you.

Timothy Bowden

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Notepad - The Version of Menace

Antonio was sad, without knowing why. It was registered to him as depth. But it was his lady who saved him from the wiles of the Merchant of Venice, who was never sad, only mad. And so the lady Portia, played by a boy - as were all women on the English stage until the Restoration - dressed and passed as a young man. Gender was very confusing to the Elizabethan, as witness the Bard's mash notes to his young Lord, who evidently fancied him, to the extent the Sonneteer sought to excuse himself in deference to his lack of use for any extra appendage.

And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

I don't think English Lit profs spend much time with Sonnet 20.

I have never been clinically depressed, which suggests my simplicity, nor at all concerned by that lascivious, which argues my simple-mindedness. I don't even worry that the keyboard selector plucks more interesting terms out of the dictionary than I can. Lascivious? What was it thinking?

It was Thanksgiving and me and my brother Reloj were living as poors in El Paso. We had only stray items in the apartment of the ski bum who was having the usual feast with his lady and her family. I placed my hand on a cabinet and rested my forehead there. Just for a moment, just resting.

And Reloj asked what the master was. He was concerned. We were in hard times, but our very culture and literature was based on the Bohemian, the Beats. Yet even Jesus worried be had no place to lay his head, though even foxes have their dens. And here Reloj had lived out Down and Out in Paris and London by accepting a job as a dishwasher in a dive in Denison one literary evening.

I was in front of the small TV in the bedroom later, and Reloj enters grinning, holding two festive plates of whatsoever he could find in the kitchen; peas, squash, lettuce, but decorated so joyously it made me very glad. At least we would be fed. It would ask be better tomorrow. I was sure of it.

It was. Never since then have I placed a palm on a cabinet and settled my fevered brow upon it. I just have no knack for sad. It's just the superficial in my soul.
... From my KINDLE HDX

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What did he want?

There was a message for you. I think I won't tell you any more. 

I could not convince her to share my own message with me. This was my wife, but one out of central casting in a troupe with a very limited roster. She isn't working out. Does the producer know this?

Joey is here. My brother will tell me. Joey, who wrote to me?

He doesn't want to say. 

This is very strange. Even for a dream, it's strange. 

Okay, okay. It was about Bob Biggers. 

What , Cramer's little brother?

Yeah, him. 

I don't think I've ever had a conversation with him. I haven't seen him in thirty years. 

Well, apparently thirty years ago I gave him some beer and he went out and scratched the fender on his family Buick. 

What does this have to do with me?

Well, it's your dream. 

This is nuts. 

Hey, I don't write this stuff. 

We are back in the garage. I forgot to mention we started the scene in the garage. My vehicle, not a Buick, sits under what appears to be a giant  IV stand. It's gushing at the top. Clear oil. I guess it's using oil but in a most peculiar manner. 

Is this all? I mean, can we go home now?

Sent from iPhone &  Mailbox 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Italians in Sausalito

I am an accountant, he said. Surveying policies for Whitney-Sykes, your homeowners insurance carrier. She smiled and nodded, waiting for him to mean something. 

"I do hope you have time to answer a few questions? I hope I'm not imposing?'

"Oh, no, no, not at all ; do come in."

Home was a stately Victorian, three floors, anchored in the Bay. It looked perfectly normal from its widow's walk until it went down into the water. 

After smiling and looking and noting, he asked, "May I ask your age?"


"And did you see a reduction in your premiums at age 65?"

No. Nor for her limited income, nor her other policies such as auto and boat. Nor for her excellent claim record, nor to account for guaranteed value of premiums. 

By his reckoning, Whitney owed the lady a considerable sum for premium overages and interest. Other homeowners in other floating homesteads were in similar circumstances. He could see no other remedy than for Whitney to cut a number of checks for a considerable total. 

A prospect at which his department head scoffed. 

"They're just dumb Bay bums; they don't know what they're owed nor how to claim it. 'There must be a lot of Italians in Sausalito.' That's a Kerouac quote."

Oh, but he did know how to make claims, and very effectively, too. He spent some time in the coming weeks with a law firm, at the end of which period he left his employment at  Whitney-Sykes. 

They had not seen the last of him, however. Not by a long suit.