Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tasty Piano

This tune is in a Django songbook I have so I tracked down some other recordings of it. Sam Cooke sang a ridiculous version. Nat King Cole recorded it too. Especially with super nasty guitar licks. But Errol Garner blew this away. The octave melody. I think I could listen to 100 different arrangements of this song and not get tired. Mean to Me by Dean Martin is another tune to get you started on infinite recordings. Jazz is common literature performed by the many.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


The urge to read my own writing ebbs and flows. Lately, I'm a working man so I only have an urge to read a John D. Macdonald story and go to sleep. It's 6 or sometimes 7 day weeks, 10 hours a day, baked beans or chicken pot pies for dinner, wine to wash it down then crash until 5am. No more Costa Rican beaches. No more morning visits to the Nicaraguan beach. I'm desperately trying to save money after my MRI knee debacle. I don't know much about bathroom renovations and I know even less about renovating 100 year old bathrooms, but what I know I learned in the last two weeks because circumstances left me in charge of the entire project. I don't mind being the contractor but I do have a problem balancing my OCD with a time schedule that requires everything be in the ground before the concrete truck arrives.
Tamping dirt for dollars
ADA means Americans with Disabilities Act and that's something many fortunate folks don't have to concern themselves with but a public renovation is very much defined by this act. I'm in favor of this but I also think back to 1933 and the Civilian Conservation Corp who did most of the work in parks, including dry stacking the boulder footing for this bathroom I am working in. The CCC was a work relief program started by FDR in 1933. FDR was disabled by polio and spent his whole presidency in a wheelchair. I reflect on these two details every time I'm at a National Park with CCC provenance. Putting a ramp instead of steps, when dealing with a blank slate, isn't much different. But removing historic steps and replacing them with a wheelchair ramp is a tall order. I often wonder why the original CCC folks were not instructed to design and build lodges and headquarters that would be accessible by the President who created the work relief program that was responsible for their jobs designing and building lodges. This small decision back in 1933 to start with a blank slate and build with the bipedal in mind instead of the wheelchair operating President has led to almost 30 years of renovations with him in mind. These renovations include this specific bathroom that was not remotely accessible to wheelchairs for 90 years and will soon be. Before you applaud my efforts I should point out that the landing that the bathroom is on is barely accessible to wheelchairs. The monument itself is accessible to vehicles but the trails are all too steep, even the paved trails. So, we have a kind of odd paradox that creates an ADA compliant bathroom in a place where no wheelchairs can access. This meant removing one toilet because we needed the room for the larger space of the wheelchair. So instead of 3 urinals and 2 toilets and 2 sinks the bathroom will have 1 toilet and 2 urinals and 1 sink. Everything will be accessible to wheelchairs, if the wheelchair can find a way to the bathroom through the visitor center.

I've been distracted lately, plodding through work like a zombie. I came dangerously close to 100 amps of 220v, actually spent one of my nine lives cutting through live wire that did not beep on my current finder. The Sawzall blade melted but I was unfazed. There were other details but my mind was on the Decay of Man, the multitude of moral failings in my life, the petty trespasses I've committed, the paltry paychecks that I receive. There's never a time when the future should be ignored, everything adds up, especially stone walls. They don't go away until someone demolishes or renovates them and that's a man's work, build, renovate, rebuild, demolish, take the shit to the dump, flush it away where no one can see it. We get a much-needed job from a man in a wheelchair. "Build the country a Park!" and instantly we neglect to make that park accessible to the man who gave us the job. Was it the stress of the depression that dissolved our forsight? Ok. I'll buy that. But what is our excuse today? We have food. The whole country of China is enslaved to feed our technology addiction. Shouldn't that calm us and let us sleep easy, free us to make sound choices with clear minds? no. We're more distracted than starving CCC workers in 1934 digging trenches for foundations upon which a building will be built that only someone who never was afflicted by polio can enter.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


A year ago around this time I was wandering southern Utah, wishing I could get a job in a national park and be a ranger, romanticizing the life I would live getting paid to commune with nature. Well, the reality is ten hours plowing snow through a deserted Douglas Fir forest. It's hard work and doesn't pay much and it's cold and the same Bob Dylan songs play on the radio.
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.