Sunday, February 11, 2018

2007 still seems like a "future year"

Report: 4600019

Status: Pending Final Rejection/Appeal
Re-Animation Probability: 07%
Date: 10.20.2107

Center for Ancestral Population Proliferation

Dear Mr. Pamer Sr. III,

Regarding your recent application (CAPP form #4090) for ancestral re-animation we have determined that your target for re-animation is not eligible for resurrection. As you may know, the gains made in genetic manipulation and re-animation have put considerable stress on the resources allocated for humanoid consumption/utilization.

Legislation passed in 2107 now requires CAPP to perform in-depth background checks on all targets submitted for potential re-animation. Included below is a copy of the report and addendum showing criteria which has rendered your target for re-animation ineligible. If you wish to appeal said decision or if you feel that this decision was made in error you may do so by submitting CAPP form #4099 and remit payment of $15,000.

*note – as of 7.4-2107 United States Currency is no longer acceptable, all payments must be made in the form of Digital Earth BankNote Tender (DEBT) per Legislation 2107.420.386

Re-Animation Target: Jeremiah Lawrence Pamer
Life-Span: 1978 – 2069
Genetic Virilation: 98%
Genetic Defect Propensity: 1.2%
Genetic material worthy of propagation: 0.8%
Cause of death: Type IX Gastroenteritis. Second pandemic, GM broccoli outbreak in 2069
Body of origination elimination method: Cremation
Genetic info maintenance: MicroGene Systems: Portland, OR PO Box 754390
Deleteriousness Aspect Ration: 463

Main issues of deleteriousness:
Jeremiah Lawrence Pamer (JLP) demonstrated an ability during his living years to process ideas and elements of the abstract and the concrete quite well. However, during his education at Metropolitan State College of Denver he demonstrated a high rate of interest in ideas and ideologies which have since been laid to rest. Many of these were manifest in a writing class that was completed in May of 2007. This writing class, according to additional resources utilized for this report was a source of satisfaction and pleasure relative to his other areas of pursuit. Perhaps if his ideas, unorthodox as they would seem today, were communicated in his writings with some amount of skill his rejection for Re-Animation would not have been as swiftly decided. Near the end of the class JLP assembled a portfolio that provided critical insight which aided in the rejection of the Re-Animation application.

In a portfolio assembled during the latter part of the class, six pieces of writing were assembled. In combing through these pieces, a stark contrast was observed that may have been a precursor to the issues and subsequent self-described disillusionment with his eventual medical practice. The piece that was placed at the beginning of the portfolio sets the tone, he entitled it “Death Doth Bring” which is a pitiful attempt to use ancient poetical meter to convey some type of ephemeral hope. As is a thread through many of his writings, JLP links the hopeless face of 20th century industrial malaise with the eventual redemption of flesh, apparently through death. In the closing line of the sonnet JLP writes “All grey matter transformed in portal.” This grey matter that is mentioned does give a nod to the continuing hang-over that was the western industrial revolution that eventually spread throughout the world causing pollution of all sorts to coat the green world a gun metal grey. Obviously, the specific reference is to the human brain. Even if the literary attempt at meaningful, optimistic reinforcement would have proven successful the manner in which the prose is executed is horrible. 

The second piece of writing leaves the existential pandering to the last Bush Monarchy and appropriately explores the dearth of drug abuse, which JLP knew of from others in his life struggling with the same issues.

The third piece, which he entitled “The Smoke Made Them Fall” JLP gets back to the ideological backwaters that clogged his mind. In a secondary thematic tool that also spreads its wings over JLP's works, dreams often play a role in his character's unfolding. Not only is this a cheap and easy device, but his shameless attempts at fresh utilization of the revelation via nocturnal dream runs aground. This particular story is steeped in historical sentimentality, which was widespread during the time of the writing. The empathy displayed for indigenous peoples and “natural” states of nature provide ample reason to keep JLP in his current Non-Animated state.

In perhaps the most disturbing of all pieces included in his portfolio tells of a young man who builds a business in his junior high school by selling condoms to the other children. The name of it is “Seeds of an empire.” Condoms were popular during his lifetime as a prophylactic, the majority of them composed of latex that fit around the male organ of copulation to “catch and contain” the baby batter emitted from the end of the organ. Attempting to show the earnest manner in which young males of the time strove to show their “manliness” and strength, he became a popular figure among the other students. At the time during the piece was written it had been a controversial issue a to whether sex was to be discussed in public schools, at the fringe of the discussion was to allow the distribution of condoms among students. For JLP to make light of such obviously huge controversies in casual writing demonstrates a lack of respect for society as a whole. JLP has been denied Re-Animation privilege even though this agency knows full well how his living family would like to see him Re-Animated. JLP's acknowledgment of his love for writing contrasted with the horrible body of work (exemplified and embodied by his portfolio from said English class) he left behind leaves us on solid ground for our rejection: A strong disparity concerning goals and passion will make not a suitable modern citizen.

Sincerely,

Rousha Obama IV
Head of the Center for Ancestral Population Proliferation

Please Keep Your Seatbelts Fastened While The Fasten Seatbelt Light Is On 
by Jeremiah Pamer 

I gave the character in ghetto caricature on the corner slight but direct eye contact and a head nod. I then took the next right and rolled almost to the end of the block and pulled over. Even though this side street saw a moderate amount of traffic I parked on the wrong side of the street so Logan wouldn’t be between me and the dealer. Only a few moments passed before I could see, in my rear-view mirror, the young man with his blue uniform and grey do-rag hastily shuffling down the block. He had his left hand holding up his jeans and his other hand stuffed deep inside his parka. “Better not be another bag of crumbled soap, or bits of almond this time” said the cantankerously talkative Crack Pipe that was hiding in the dark under my seat, but knew full well what was transpiring in the daylight.

“Yeah, yeah” I grumbled back, hoping Logan wouldn’t hear. These situations never failed to increase the heart rate and spur the adrenal gland into spurting and burning like a sabotaged Iraqi oil well: half from fear and half from anticipation.

“Whatcha need, Cuz?” asked the gang member who was now within arm’s reach of my Nissan pickup truck’s window.

“Two forty rocks, and I need to see them first.” I answered him as I sweatily fingered the wad of four twenty dollar bills which had turned my fingertips a smudgy brown by this time. He didn’t bother to ask me if I was a cop. I had learned that bringing my wife’s three year old boy Logan on these trips always put the drug dealers in an odd state of relaxation. Most of them figured that a sting operation wouldn’t dare put a little boy in the potential and probable crossfire of a bust. I considered Logan to be my little insurance policy. The hoods on this particular corner all recognized my truck anyway. 

With a sly and only slightly accommodating smile on his face he cracked opened his parka so only I could see the little plastic baggies in his hand that had been twisted and knotted at the top. Both of us knew that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the real rock and the fakes until I got a few miles away and bit off the plastic knot of the baggie. I handed him the cash. With a glance he checked to make sure they were all twenties and, with one swift pivot on his laceless Timberlands dropped the two baggies in my truck and headed back to his sales floor that was Killingsworth Avenue. “C’mon, let’s get the hell out of here. Whatcha wait’n for? Hurry up!” insisted the Crack Pipe. Silently, I complied with the command and sped off towards the interstate. When I had merged into the fast lane I looked over at Logan, who had been immersed in his Thomas the Train book.

 “Daddy, are we ever going to get Burger King like you promised, I’m HUNGRY... and I want to get my toy!” said Logan as he slammed his picture book closed. Shit, I thought to myself. I had meant to stop at the burger joint before jumping on I-5. Maybe I could placate his hunger and my need for his distraction with a stop at the 7-11 on the way to the viewing lot at the airport. The gravel clearing had become my favorite place to get high. The Portland Airport was cuddled up next to the mammoth sized Columbia River and between the two was a busy road which had the viewing area off of it. Usually the only other people there were high school couples making out in their parents mini van. And, having the runway about one hundred yards in the distance it was great to watch the airplanes land and take-off while spinning on my crack-top. Most importantly, the police took no notice of cars parked here.

“Logan, how about we getcha a slurpee and whatever kinda toy you want from 7-11, huh? How does that sound.” It didn’t really matter what the boy said: I was going to get high, and soon.

“Don’t forget the new brillo pad. You've left me quite gunky, as of late.” Crack Pipe reminded me.

“Daaaaddddyyyy! You promised Burger King!!” Logan was getting upset. He had been through this before and he knew, even at the tender age of three what going to the airport meant. His survival instincts had always impressed me. It was true, and he knew it, that if he didn’t get any food before our “trip to see the airplanes” he would be famished by the time my crack was smoked up.

“Look, we’ll get ya a corndog and whatever else you want. Just quit your whining, OK.” We arrived at 7-11. I grabbed a small black coffee for myself and a package of Mambas and some Now & Laters for Logan. These candies were good for him and me, they took a long time to chew and there were many wrappers to get through. In the toy isle of the convenience store Logan had found a package with an un-assembled wooden airplane inside, the kind that cost ninety nine cents. Once I had had the same kind of airplane when I was a child; I was surprised they still made them. We left with a 72-ounce purple flavored slurpee, 2 packages of candy and 2 corndogs for Logan. The Crack Pipe was complaining and I could hear it coming from the truck, even as I was in the store. I too was anxious to get high and probably couldn’t drink my coffee, but I bought it anyway along with a package of brillo pads.

“OK, Logan let's put that airplane together for ya.” I could feel my impatience creeping up my neck and it was in concert with the revving of the jet engines in the distance, racing to fever pitch. Logan knew that when we were here he was to play with his toys and such in the bed of the pickup, and I was not to be disturbed in the cab of the truck. I got his plane put together, and not without a pang on nostalgia for my own childhood. In my mind, I ventured into my oft closed off memory lane and looked up 1986. It was the year the Space Shuttle blew to pieces with the teacher Christa McAuliffe aboard. Mrs. Storm had entered the competition to be the teacher to go into space. When the day came for the launching of the Challenger she had brought a television set into the classroom so we could all see it live. Once the spaceship had made it into orbit there was to be a live television conference with Christa discussing some of the science experiments that were to be conducted. Thirty seven seconds into the flight the extraterrestrial craft exploded, killing everyone aboard. Trails of smoke and vapor followed the different pieces of the booster rocket and shuttle as they began their descent back to Earth. In my mind’s eye I can still see and hear Mrs. Storm let out a cry like she had been slugged in her gut, and then she ran out of the room. I felt so sorry for her. A few of the other boys had begun to laugh…I fought with them without knowing why. I became one of her favorite students after that, hence the ninety nine cent wooden airplane at the end of the school year. She was the only one who ever told me I could be a pilot, if I wanted to.

“Logan, go get it!” I yelled as I let the airplane loose towards the other end of the parking lot. He jumped out from the bed of the truck and went running after the plane. It was doing loops in the air and flying erratically. It was impressive. With Logan preoccupied for now I jumped back into the truck and locked both doors. The Crack Pipe had been silent since we arrived at the airport viewing parking lot. Such quiet times spent with the Crack Pipe were confined to these anticipatory moments…the moment inspired a type of demeanor of purpose that necessitated silence. I grabbed my brillo pad and tore off a piece and stuffed it into the end of the glass tube. I groped for the baggies and couldn’t find them. With panic and I had my head between my legs trying to see where the dope went. There! They had both rolled under the accelerator. Here was the moment of truth; did that bastard rip me off?

“You lucky piece of shit!” I shouted at the Crack Pipe as I found the rocks to be genuine Cocaine and baking soda in a one to one ratio, one taste of the talcum like treat told me. Using my long thumb nail I broke off a piece and carefully placed it into the end of the oxidized tube with the brillo pad. With one flick of my bic I was choking down the thick sweet smoke.

Whoomp. Whoomp. Whoomp. Whoomp. Best. Part.

After the first inhale what I referred to as the “helicopters” came thundering through my brain. I thought of it like this because not only was there the sound of a convoy of transport helicopters but also that the blades of the ‘copters were causing whirlwinds and such incredible turbulence in my brain that I couldn’t find any anxiety or worry or…anything. That blessed feeling of nothing. I hit the pipe ‘til this miniature rock was gone.

While I was reaching for the baggie, I inadvertently looked in the side view mirror. I could see Logan running away from the truck and after his looping toy airplane; he was leaping in the air, trying to grab the plane every time it swooped close to the ground. He was running towards the road with his eyes fixed on his brand new toy. I watched, as numbly as I watched horror movie atrocities, as Logan was smashed and knocked out of my line of sight by a speeding semi-truck.

Quickly, I grabbed my baggie and loaded the rest of the rock. The end of the glass pipe was glowing red and had already raised blisters on my thumb and index fingers. The brillo pad looked like how I imagined the very heart of hell to be: fiery orange and covered with the gooey, tarry residue of ecstasy gone by.

The urgency of the truck driver’s pounding on my driver side window increased with each fist’s collision with the safety glass. He and his perseverance was no hindrance while I loaded the pipe with the rest of the chalky white precious poison. I put the drug to the flame and deeply inhaled…again…and again ‘til it was all gone. My coffee was chilly at this point, nevertheless I gave a silent toast to the Crack Pipe and swigged the whole twelve ounces.

I turned the key and popped the clutch; lurching forward ramming the cyclone fence with the cryptic “post 9-11” no trespassing warnings on my way out of the parking lot. “Finally, ya’ got us out of there. How much cash ya’ got left, huh? At least twenty…right?”

“Yeah, I got forty dollars left.” I told the Crack Pipe as we headed towards Killingsworth Avenue. After I exited the interstate I spied the incandescent yellow and red of the Burger King sign. I pulled into the drive through.

 “Order when ready.” A female with a think Spanish accent prompted me. I saw the featured toy was a plastic airplane piloted by some kind of monkey. “Whenever your ready I can take your order.” The words 'happy meal' were stuck in my throat.

 The smoke made them fall 
by Jeremiah Pamer 

“Okay class. Class! Quiet!”

Mrs. McDaniel's fifth grade class was a loud happy bunch and this morning, the morning of the year's first field trip of the year a bit more effort was needed to quiet the 10 year olds. With a pointed look, Mrs. McDaniels appealed for help from the few parents who had volunteered to help chaperon the children. Eventually, the din was subdued to a dull salvo.

“Alright, kids. Let's get in a single file line, and - hey, kids! C'mon, Listen up. I need ya' to have your permission slips ready to hand to me as you head out the door and to the bus." With minimal fanfare, and to Mrs. McDaniel's astonishment the motley crew lurched out of the East Portland elementary school parking lot on schedule and headed towards the Columbia River Gorge, just less than an hour away – in yellow school bus time.

Nahman wished he had the courage to sit in the back of the bus...to be one of the cool boys and to flirt with the cute girls. Because of his stutter and slight lisp, most of his life was played out in his head. He had unwittingly chosen the path of least resistance, much like an autumn leaf caught in the torrent of early winter downpours. And, just like the leaf's destiny that is decomposition, Nahman felt resigned to a similar fate. Although, all exterior signs pointed towards a pathetic passiveness, his inner drama was filled with unparalleled heroism and gallantry. His tormentors would be without speech and caught defenseless to his scathing, poignant, golden words. His fledgling good looks and olive skin would finally have the reinforcements that fearless speech could afford.

He settled in on the bench behind Mrs. McDaniel’s, who had easily become, so far his favorite teacher. He had lucked out and gotten all female teachers since kindergarten, solidifying their role at the top in his ever shifting makeshift matriarchal hierarchy in young Nahman's life. Making sure he hadn't forgot his bag lunch that he packed himself the night prior, Nahman felt around in his small Jansport backpack; finding it he grabbed his Capri Sun drink and punched a hole in the top with the angled straw. As he jammed the straw into the glistening, silver foil of the eight ounce pouch of tropical punch he caught himself imagining he was holding a squirmy, wriggly incandescent salmon. Fish. Don't even like fish...never had fish, wait – fish sticks? Fish – Sticks. A dim, dingy light went on, and struggled to keep it's position above Nahman's head. Every Friday at Lynch Park Elementary, soggy deep fried fish sticks were served, with chunky, tasty tartar sauce. Never before had he imagined the grease laden three dimensional rectangles had once been alive, swimming and covered with the scintillating scales of a fish fish.

The image aroused and stirred something deep within Nahman. His forehead rested on the rain splattered window and he thought back to the dream he had woken up from that morning. He had been suffering from nightmares, but this one, although traumatic did not cause him to wake up screaming. When his step mom had come in to wake him up for school he had laid, not moving, reflecting on his dream that had left him drifting down the river he was now staring at...

“Naukana, you know you're still too little to go fishing with your older brothers...” “But Mama-I can hold the net all by myself, Chetke showed me how yesterday!” 

“Sweet little Naukana, you're time will come. Right now you can help mama mend your papa's moccasins.”

“OoooKaaaay.” followed by a prepubescent heavy sigh. Naukana did love to help his mama and he did love to spend time with her. Naukana was the favorite, and the youngest of the small family five: mama, papa and three boys. But, he was reaching the age where he was nearly as tall as his short mama, and his young spirit was telling him that he would, and should be preparing to enter manhood soon. The emerging man-spirit had been growing inside the boy and had reached maturity while the flesh had stayed with his undeveloped mind; hooked on his mother's nursing breast. Naukana did not understand all this, all he knew was that he wished to be on the fishing planks that were built jutting straight out from the cliff, where it felt as if you were riding the thunderous whitewater as an osprey rides the swirling wind – and armed with a net which was as powerful in pulling in the salmon as the long, bloodthirsty talons the osprey brought to the river. He knew it was dangerous. Nevertheless. 

“Hey, hey Naukana, start building the fire up, because we got some huge ones today!”

 Naukana's older brothers were yelling, as they broke through the protective line of timber, soaking wet skin glistening brown and green. Flashing from light of the gorge's washed out walls in the distance and fighting for space on the boys developed and sinewy shoulders and chest with the intimate dark green mosses and ever-present evergreens. The littlest of the brother's did know that, before the fire was to be built up to cooking strength, the fish were to be cleaned, which, meant a trip down to the small stream that flanked the longhouse on it's way to join the mighty Celilo Falls, a part of the river that the white man called “The Columbia.” 

He grabbed the knives and cheesecloth bags, and shoulder to shoulder with his brothers headed to the stream. 

“Chetke, how old were you when mama let you fish down on the ramparts?” 

“Huh, I was younger than you, but daddy needed the help, and believe me, if mama ever caught me down by the falls by myself, she would have killed me. Naukana, you should enjoy your time with mama, you're learning how to be such a good wife!” 

Hot. Red coals, behind eyes - red, coals. FURY. 

“Aaaahhhh...Owww!” “Naukana, are you alright...? Here, give me that hand...” 

Naukana had gotten so angry that it had squeezed the seeing part of his brain off and in his mind filled with adolescent, embarrassed rage he ran the knife through the salmon skin and nicking his wrist. It was hard to tell whose blood was whose - the salmon's or Naukana, but Naukana didn't wait around to find out. He slumped over into the creek. His brothers pulled him out, surprised that the cold, glacial runoff in the creek had failed to immediately revive their little brother. The next morning, Naukana was still in a sour mood. To prove to his brothers that he was not a man was more than he could take, but his spirit was calling to him stronger than ever. The desire to never bring up fishing to his mother, or anyone else was substantial. He felt like he could stay by the longhouse, safe by the fire and the relatively small stream fetching water to boil and helping his mom... But his spirit was beckoning, calling out to the flesh, to step into the next phase of life. His welcome in childhood had been overstayed. 

Papa had come back the night before from a tribal hunt in the valley and had brought back a canoe full of meat for the families to split. Moose was a rare treat, and to have it fresh broiled over a fire was a special occasion...during which Naukana had played sick and laid in bed in the long house while the rest of the families sang, danced and ate better than they had in a year outside, under the bright moonlight. 

Lying alone and well steeped in self pity he had made up his mind to go fishing the next morning. By himself. Mama and Papa were sleeping later, because of the lively libations the night prior. Naukana, now in the bright morning was having second thoughts about making his way down the steep path to the falls. The feeling of need for eternal, maternal protection was high. And, besides he knew what kind of trouble he was asking for. Naukana, feeling led by his spirit grabbed the net and was headed through the trees when he heard strange men speaking a strange tongue. He had heard people speak like this before, once: it was the language of white men! 

This group was large and coming fast, Naukana turned and jumped to the side of the trail, just as the men were coming up around the bend in the path. 

“... the mermaid says, "If you have sex with me 15 times, I'll make everything alright!" To which the boy replies, "Fifteen times?! You'll end up like the cow did after I finish with you!" 

“Ha ha, Frank.” Said the second man to come by, rolling his eyes. ”That must've been the worst joke you've told me this whole trip...” 

The 2 men in front, carrying large rifles, and apparently the leaders of the group had passed and the remaining men, a dozen or so were carrying 2 massive and unfamiliar canoes and were breathing so hard there was no mysterious talking coming from their mouths. Men, family, ma-pa sleeping...brothers, where are they!? Naukana stood frozen in the brush for a moment, the coals back, burning bright in his mind, but this time not from anger but from fear. 

Up the dirt path he went. Before he broke out of the thick trees he stopped, he could hear his papa's voice, as strained as he had ever heard it. He could still see nothing from his vantage point, so he climbed the tree that grew large behind the longhouse. When he was high enough so that he could see over the longhouse he could see his father in an argument with one of the white men who spoke so loudly and strangely. His mother was not to be seen, nor was his brothers. The other men were sitting atop the overturned canoes and broiling and eating the remainder of the moose meat that had been celebrated the night before. The man who was yelling in his fearful tongue, which neither his father, nor anyone in the family understood, struck his papa in the mouth with the butt of his rifle, knocking the most powerful man in Naukana's life to the ground. Naukana had seen a rifle a few times before in his life, and had heard that it was to be respected. He thought that it made a poor weapon if it was made to strike your enemy on the chin. His fishing spear would have made a better weapon... 

MOM! I Hear you. Where...? Naukana crawled further out onto the branch of ancient gargantuan that what would eventually be named the David Douglas Fir Tree, to where he could see into the hole in the longhouse roof. He saw his mother underneath the other white man, she had no clothes on and he was squirming and moving all around, grunting like a wild boar. He could see tears running down his mother's face that was frozen in a mask of terror. 

Now, Naukana was truly rooted to where he lay on the limb of the tree. He could feel the coals getting hotter...and hotter. Down, get down. Move-Chetke, where are you? He scuttled down the trunk of the tree, still undetected. The white men are nearly 30 strong...my brothers are no where. Naukana ran back down the path towards the reverberant river. Breaking through the woods into the rock cliff area approaching the fishing platform he spotted his brothers, down stream with the tribal men who spent the prior evening with Naukana's family after their triumphant return from the hunting trip. And...they had rifles! The dug-out canoe was full of men and even as they paddled furiously they were engaging the strong current and it took three of Naukana's short life spans to reach the landing point. 

“CHETKE, CHETKE! Hurry, hurry mama and papa are in trouble!” 

It was only a few hundred yards away, but the path from the canoe landing was steep and only one person at a time could make their way up the trail. 

“Little brother, are you OK? We saw the men coming as we were fishing this morning and we went for help. Where's mama, where's papa?” 

The brother's asked, but not in unison. Even though the rescue party had just ran up a steep rocky hill, Naukana was more out of breath...he couldn't breath enough to cool the embers in his brain. 

“The men are eating our meat and hurting mama and papa! And, they have rifles, we need to save them!” Naukana kept saying over and over as they headed towards the canopied footpath towards their home. Stealthily they made their way. The older men, the ones with the rifles and lifelong friends of papa were in the front, and when they had gotten near the clearing, just to the point where they could see the men around the fire they stopped. 

“Naukana, how many men did you see with rifles? “ “I only saw two of them, and one of them was in the longhouse laying on top of mama-” Before Naukana could finish what he was saying the men sprang into action and ran, screaming towards the entrance to the longhouse. Naukana stayed back, even as his brother's shirts made of deer hide brushed him. Loud cracks rang out; people began to scream. He didn't recognize any voice as his parent's. Naukana climbed the tree in time to see his blood family and tribal family fall to the ground, one by one to join the others, already fallen. The smoke coming from rifles apparently was pushing them backwards and then forcing them still. 

RUN. RUN. RUN. Naukana's tenderfoot spirit of manhood was screaming. Naukana climbed down the tree, and ran silently and swiftly towards the canoe landing below the falls. He jumped in, paddled out and into the current and floated down the river... 

 “Class, gather around. We are standing on the Bonneville Damn, which was built in 1937. Look to my left. Hey – Johnny, listen up back there.”

Most of the children were restless after the bus ride. “Okay, kids, if you look at this large lake to our left, and then look over to our right and see the difference in the height of the water. I want us all to put on our thinking caps and imagine what would happen if this dam were no longer here. Alright, does anyone have any ideas what the gorge would look like without this dam?”

Enamored with the massive spillway structure that was bellowing millions of gallons per minute with thunderous effect, the majority of the kids could care less what this panorama was like before the need for electricity dammed the river. One child who had been wide eyed and, who before the bus had even unloaded had been wondering what this dam was doing here, in the river of his dream. The canyon walls, at the top, near the rim looked the same as they had in his dream...even some of the same trees.

“Mrs. McDaniels, Mrs. McDaniels!”

“Yes, Nahman, what do you think it would look like?” She was surprised that one of the few students, who were not in love with sound of his own voice, had raised his hand with something to say.

“I know what is under the water. My family is down there...”

 LIVING AND DYING THROUGH SCIENCE 
by Jeremiah Pamer 

Today 
Max-Planck University, Potsdam Germany 

As Marvin slammed the cantankerous old book closed the flyboy dust bunnies took aim and locked on to his nostrils. The shallow, scratchy wheezing reminded him his asthma was much better suited to the computer lab than this gloomy archive in the basement of the University's library. The puffs he drew from his inhaler were subtle reminders that the sum of human knowledge was not yet preserved in digital immortality via the internet. Marvin would have traded a lifetime of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in exchange for what he was seeking. But there were so many more faded math equations to search out on so many more yellowed fragile scratch books.

Despite feeling discouraged, Marvin was still ironclad in his determination. He was willing to search the ends of the earth to once again be in the presence of it's creator. The Max-Planck Institute houses the largest and most dynamic corpus of notes pr oduced by the 20th century’s brightest physicists. Following decades of obscurity the so called “Lost Einstein notebooks” were found in this very archive – and there were also works of Werner Heisenberg, the father of quantum theory and mechanics left to be mined.

Indeed, as the advances in space travel, lasers, and computers could attest, the theories and conjectures worked out by Einstein and Heisenberg so long ago were so much more than mathematical exploration. So much of this work was dismissed either as abstract academics or scientific folly. Now, just over a century after the introduction of the General Theory of Relativity Marvin knew he could complete the bridge that was Unified Field Theory (UFT) and traverse the deep and mysterious chasm that separated him from the divine. He had already done it once before...and now his life was dedicated to the reverse engineering of that discovery.

Three Years Ago 
MIT, Boston USA 

 Dr. Wolfgang’s contorted mouth is the particle accelerator and the speeding saliva are the electrons, thought Marvin as the ‘particles’ smashed into the lens of his glasses and backsplash of a face. Marvin often found himself in such a world: the world in which he was the sole inhabitant. This was fine with him. The fact was that for Marvin, Wolf’s anger was worlds away. The part of his mind which remained in the present took into account that here at MIT any emotion expressed towards a graduate student such as himself was a sign of affection as there was no time for the unworthy student. This latest tirade was directed at Marvin’s insolent insistence on pursuing a career in the field of cosmology. According to Dr. Wolfgang, cosmology is “nothing but a bunch of impostors propagating guesswork for science.”

But Marvin, having spent a life steeped in specific disciplines of many varieties thought there was a better way. He contemplated the vast pool of knowledge accumulated over the centuries and marveled at the compartmentalization of it all. Marvin wanted to swim in all pools and make connections where only dead ends exist now. Cosmology, as Marvin viewed it was the immediate answer. And Marvin understood why his mentor had such strong reactions to such aspirations, but such opposition could hardly be likened to the threat of papal execution.

Marvin was a product of the age of technology and believed in salvation via synthesis. He imbued to search for answers in the megacosm that would solve the issues in the microcosm. Marvin was absolutely but lovingly obsessed. What had brought Dr. Wolfgang to his exacerbated state was the discussion of Marvin’s work on the unified field theory. This was a big item that the greatest minds in the world had been ruminating over for decades, with very limited success. The only progress was in the manner that one dead end was one less possibility for the realization of a working UFT. So, to have a mere graduate student with the superciliousness to even approach the issue of UFT upright and forward facing was an insult to Wolf and his life’s work, especially coming from an aspiring cosmologist!

However, unlike the many of Marvin’s fellow students he was not merely satisfied with acceptance and a subsequent degree from MIT. He was using MIT for a means to an end; the end of mysteries of existence. In his cold and dimly lit flat Marvin continued working out the equations which, to him promised the indemnification of a Universe…a galaxy…a world…a race…a person. The damper was placed on the daylight and the starlight from celestial formations long since lost turned his pencil shavings nocturnal, night-light blue. His mind began to chew furiously through all the numbers and equations that normally were painfully tedious. As this sped up, everything else began to slow down.

The discrepancy between the speed of his pencil and the velocity of his neural firings were enormous. Symmetries and incongruities leaped out of the second dimension and into the third. Using the faded blue lines on the college ruled paper as springboards the algorithmic and trigonometric figures were streaming past his skull: a number of them smashing into it. Some ran in fear of their own inadequacy while others simply strolled around the apartment barking orders at him. Thoughtful manifestations took the pencil from Marvin and added and erased and changed where they wished. Differential equations boxed his ears on both sides of his head. When Marvin turned to defend himself the calculatic formula danced into dissolution that was the darkness in the far reaches of his flat. The paper, littered with pencil marks, shavings and eraser debris had become, and was increasingly so, a relief map of the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Transfixed by this, he was no longer bothered by the mathematical beating still being endured. The map's frame of reference was zooming out with such acceleration that within a minute he was watching the spindly arm of the Milky Way that the earth inhabited fade into the background of the Universe. This was no picture, or flat image...this was a window.

Marvin was enthralled, captivated, immersed... he was lost in what he was seeing. Millions of light years away from terra-firma the guiding hand of the aperture moved in on another small blue planet. Closer. Larger. Through the atmosphere. This continued until Marvin felt he was on the world below. It still smelled like #2 graphite and paper-mate eraser boogers. Marvin marveled to himself that it was if he was boarding a modern day Dawn Treader as he plunged through the tear in the textile goods of the continuum of time and space. Landing on both feet he found himself in a mountainous region of this strange world. Run. Faster. Climbing on and over each peak and into the next valley he began to accelerate, each ascent was effortless and painless. He was being pulled, pushed and strung along all at the same time. The pinnacle of each and every successive mountain was colder and the atmosphere thinner. But he was moving faster than ever. Orgasmic ecstasy shook him to the core and continued to come in exponential growth wave functions; all the while the highest peak loomed in the distance.

The mountain in the distance began to take form of a humongous mesa as he came nearer. It was a plateau that flattened beyond the clouds hundreds of times higher than the apex of the most preposterously frightening altitude of the highest mountain thus far. Marvin raced toward the base of the cliff which formed the face of the mesa. He was not running or flying. But he was moving fast…and as he began to climb the vertical wall he realized just how dauntingly self-aware he had become.

The titillation of euphoria was curiously and ominously transforming into a vague and faceless fear. The rate of ascent was rapid enough that if in oceanic environs his body would have exploded from the powerful nitrogen buildup: his soul was undergoing a parallel experience with amorphous fear. For the first time in his life his existence as a living sentient being coupled with the subtle yet undefined haunting of inadequacy was palpable. The innards of his enduring nightmares were clawing for light. Marvin ruptured the Euclidean plain of the plateau with the weight of the entire past, present and future human race propelling him forward and ever inward. He had unknowingly procured himself as an ambassador from his embodiment of his and everyone’s personage to God.

He had found the narrow path and had raced along it, having no idea if it had taken his whole life or if in one mesmerizing moment had journeyed to the very foot of the Creator of all that is known and unknown. “Hello, Marvin” said God. “Wow” thought Marvin. Marvin was now standing on the very edge of the cliff he had just traversed looking out on the world and cosmos beyond. From this vantage point he could see the beginning of the world; he could make out the beginning of civilization as if it were happening right then. When his gaze of wonderment paused he could begin to see each individual. He knew the name of each person he saw and when he beheld one single person he began to discern the pain that abided in each person he examined. He felt as if he was reading the story of everyone that had ever lived: he could relive the bitterness of the first breath drawn of each individual…and every single moment until the wretchedness of creeping death finally persevered.

Over and over and again he re-lived each person’s life. Multitudinous lives, lived and died. A voice brought him back. “Marvin”, “Marvin.” Marvin started to turn around. The trunk of his body swiveled on its hips and the right foot left it’s mooring on the edge of the cliff so he could face the voice. Then: a heat coupled with a blinding light struck him feeling like liquid iron coming out the back-end of a jet engine. He was shot off the cliff. His velocity was of such proportions that all the mountain peaks he had so recently conquered were now falling into the sea as he rushed towards that static, binary and linear function that was his previous existence. Marvin awoke in tremendous physical pain lying on his back on the floor of his flat. The sun was high in the sky. He attempted to raise himself but found that he was somehow adhered to the floor. By moving laterally, wiggling against the bonds that restrained him he was able to create leeway. As he increased his undulations he felt what seemed to be a spider webbing of fractures across his face. It felt as if he was one big dried scab; and indeed, he was. His face had melted and become stuck to the floor. Eventually he attempted to open his eyes but rather than being merely closed they were actually covered by shallow cicatrices.

He could distinguish light and dark as if he was looking through a painted window. When Marvin eventually was able to shimmy free of his skin prison he called his mother to come over. When arrived she nearly faltered in her circulatory and respiratory functions. He was unrecognizable from the neck up. She started to cry but was unable to bring herself to embrace her only son, hideous as he was. Considering the intensity of the burns that were sustained, death should have been inevitable. But the manner and speed in which the cauterization had occurred warded off the possibility of infection or loss of blood. Even the obligatory throbbing heat that accompanies even the most minor of singes was absent. His face simply had been melted and then frozen in liquid malleability.

“Mom, do you see my notes anywhere? There should be a bunch of notebook papers on my desk with math stuff all over them.”

“Ughh…Marv, your desk is nothing but ashes. The floor is burned so badly, I’m surprised there isn’t a hole to the floor below” whispered his mom between choking on sobs.

Three months later 
Good Samaritan Rehabilitation Center 

Marvin was in the middle of his facial exercises that were intended; according to the doctors, to give him his normal facial muscle capability, when the tears began to flow from his unseeing eyes. This was not the first time that he broke down during a painful rehab exercise, but it was the first time that he felt bereft of all hope. That very morning he had his first visit from the administration at MIT and learned that he was being dismissed from his program.

The Fire Marshal’s investigation of the incident concluded that the cause was a cigarette left unattended. Of all the vices Marvin partook of, smoking was not involved (Internet porn and coffee however…) Considering when Marvin’s face was melted off and a good portion of his living room turned to ash he was training to run a marathon only a few people thought it odd that he would be smoking cigarettes, but this was easily explained away by noting the stress from his repeated conflicts with his academic mentor, Dr. Wolfgang.

When Marvin was in good enough shape to coherently communicate Wolf visited to ask “what really happened.” Wolf knew enough to dismiss the claim that Marvin was smoking; in fact, he was convinced that something extremely peculiar and poignant had occurred. Marvin told him everything. When Wolf had heard the explanation he calmly rose to his feet and said he understood and then left. Wolf then spearheaded the effort to have Marvin kicked out of school.

After that semester concluded Wolf went on sabbatical and subsequent isolation…with a pad of yellow paper and a pencil.

Seeds of an Empire 
by Jeremiah Pamer 

“Ok, the Trojans are two dollars apiece or two for three dollars.”

I told the group of boys that surrounded me as we left the cafeteria. We were headed out to the playground, where I felt comfortable conducting business.

“Do you have any LifeStyles left, those were cheaper!” An acquaintance asked, which these days I had many of: acquaintances and condoms.

“No, listen up everybody! No LifeStyles left, only the Trojans!” and on to the distant field we went. 

My parents loved me. They also loved each other. Both sets of my grandparents were still alive and very much a part of my life. Loving me and each other; hopefully not in that order. No abuse was to be found in my family, no divorce or alcoholism: nothing but good old fashioned positive reinforcement and the reassurance of the unconditional love that abounded in my nuclear and orbital family. Months ago I had stolen money from my parents to go to the corner store to buy candy. While there I saw some condoms and, despite the heteromorphic look from the elderly shopkeep I bought a package of three.

The next day I took them to school, not to sell but to hang them on my tail feathers and strut like the pompous plastic peacock I was. However, when Carlos asked to buy them from me…bang, a business was born.

Sixth grade going on seventh is a difficult time for kids. The sudden infusion of hormones that force strange shapes to form and weird follicles to sprout greasy stalks of hair are the same that can cloud any kids mind. My mind was that of a good kid drunk on the new and exciting shapes taking form in front of my eyes along with the intoxicating smell of mine and those around me’s greasy, odoriferous and incubating newfound hair and bump bonanza.

 Carlos told me he had no daddy, but “his mom’s boyfriend” bought for him a gold San Francisco 49er’s starter jacket. I envied him so, as my dad refused to spend the $90 on such “frivolous” items. He also was my first and best customer. He had now been buying a condom a day for weeks. He would also pay two dollars for each one. That was a good profit margin, my little undeveloped brain told me. Looking back, Carlos embodied a caricature of a type I did not yet know. Carlos was imposing in both stature and form. Towering over the rest of us kids at over six feet and creating shadows with his beard he was the one sixth grader able to exploit the contraceptive in the manner it was created for.

Along with the other kids who would occasionally buy the rubbers I think the little instructional diagrams on the inside of the box were exciting enough. It was to be a few years before actual consummation (for the rest of us) was to take place. This had been going on for a number of months. More kids were buying from me; the empire was forming. Really, what better way for an aspiring young man to express his ‘manliness’ than to buy condoms in an environment that showcased his appetite for such things. Each day became a contest for who would buy the most condoms from me, the undisputed condom kingpin. I was truly raking in the dough. So much so that there were days that I would buy a six pack of Dr. Pepper or a bag of candy and take it to school. These days were “customer appreciation events.” I was beginning to see myself as the good-natured mafia boss building an infrastructure feed by the appetite of competitive, image conscious boys. Any good organization has a working hierarchy, and this one was no different. I had enlisted Joey Grandier as a trained and licensed distributor. Trained not in the actual uses of a condom but in the benefits of pushing such subtly suggestive wares.

As spring slowly migrated towards summer, the vacation was palpable. Whether it was the restlessness or the break fever that precipitated a plan such as the one Joey and I did, I don’t recall. Filling condoms with soap and sneak attacking those that we felt deserved it did seem like a truly good idea. So, we set to work. The bathrooms were stocked with gritty icky pinkish soap. Harold Omentariam Intermediate had once been a high school in the district’s younger days. That meant that there were plenty of semi-isolated little boy’s rooms ripe for the uninterrupted soap pilfering in the sprawling school.

We cleaned out the first restroom’s supply of soap, and then the second and the third. With only five or six little soap bombs filled up and tied we were forced to head towards bathrooms that experienced a higher flow of traffic: uh-oh. Before the first prophylactic in our newest restroom was filled we had our inaugural visitor. His name, friend or foe, and what grade he was in I remember not. The perplexed look upon his mug I do vividly recall. The succinct change from boyish curiosity to pre-teen puzzlement to adult abhorrence was an evolution of comprehension manifest on his twisted face. All this happened before anyone said anything.

“Uhhh….what are you guys doing in here? I-I-I-can’t believe you two are doing that.”

The boy said to us, which, to me didn’t really make sense. Wasn’t it obvious what we were doing? Whatever that boy had come into the bathroom to take care of went unattended because he turned heel and promptly left. Joey and I filled up the last of our condoms and stashed them in the school yard for after school and returned to class. It wasn’t long before both Joey and I were summoned to the Principal’s office. As we waited outside Mr. Hopper’s den we both had a sense of security. After all we had only stashed the soap filled condoms; we really had done nothing wrong….yet. Joey was called in first, leaving me waiting all by myself. Not even ten minutes later the door opened up and a teary-eyed and torn-up Joey was escorted out of the office and I was ushered in.

I still was feeling good about the situation, thinking that maybe Joey had cracked under minor pressure. I was the big cheese, the boss, the brains behind the whole body fluid barrier empire. As I sat down in front of Mr. Hopper’s desk he had a grave look upon his face. Awkwardness has a pungent smell and his office reeked of it. I was not prepared for what was to follow. Surprised as Capone must have been when charged with tax evasion was I when accused of masturbation. A two man (boy) circle jerk was the charge. My understanding of what male masturbation consisted of was foggy at best. I understood “jerking off” in the same sense that someone who has never been to the ocean understands what it is like to spend a day on the beach.

Sadly and unfortunately my principal began to talk about the inappropriateness of in-institutional masturbation as if I knew all about it. I may have been an immature little boy but my pride was all grown up and unwilling to interrupt Mr. Hoppes and tell him that I really didn’t know if I was guilty of such incriminating behavior. So went the discourse for the next ten minutes; crippled by my pride I refused to defend myself. Mr. Hopper dismissed me with the promise of a phone call to my parents, and from that would be the decision of the extent of my suspension. Ugh… My mother had plans that evening, it may have been one of her writing workshop nights; it didn’t matter where she was only that it left my dad as the recipient of the petrifying phone call.

In the pre-caller ID era of modern communication that shrill ring of the home phone could be a real bitch when having to bear the brunt of false alarms. The call came as the creeping dusk declared mutiny on the light of day, Mr. Hopper obviously wasn’t looking forward to this either. Not knowing what to expect from a father who had, at times, been at odds with his temper, I waited. As the phone call dragged on I didn’t know whether it would be better to have a father come after me with an incensed hi-powered beam of “kill-kill-kill” shooting out of his eyeballs and aimed right at me or a transparent disappointment from the sinking feeling of a son’s innocence made filthy and then trapped in a soap filled condom. The duration of the conversation between my father and Mr. Hoppes allowed me for the first time to actually reflect and comprehend the guilt that I had buried so deeply, the guilt came not from selling condoms but from the thievery from my parents. As a family we all were provided for, but the luxuries that I so often was envious of were out of our financial reach. Surely the cash my father had stashed away on top of the dresser was of a noble and generous design…unlike mine. My father had been downstairs when the phone call had come. I knew this because I had been eavesdropping by the top of the staircase every time the phone rang. So, I waited upstairs using the boob tube to turn my brain off (unsuccessfully) via a basketball game. My father came up the stairs and he sat down on the couch that was angled perpendicular to my perch and just stared at the TV. I tried to focus on my peripheral vision, to detect any tell-tale facial expression. I didn’t want to move my head because we were watching a basketball game and I didn’t want to interrupt the intense hardwood action.

“So…can you believe how the Blazers are playing tonight…dad?”

~~~

Hard to believe 2007 is as long ago as it is. When reading stuff I wrote in 2007, such as the end of semester portfolio I put together for a writing class, I can believe it. Maybe not as cringe worthy as some of the stuff I've written before but still, parts are very hard to read.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

John Denver Omelette

There are a multitude of manners in which our dynamic and multifaceted lives can be categorized and dissected, with different influences, influences along with people and places demarcating eras and the characteristics that mean different things in our memory. One way I can divide my own life is "pre-Denver" and "post-Denver."

January 26th, 2003 was a Sunday. It was the day after it became clear that my first real, and long term relationship was finally over. After a long period of bullshit and lies, my girlfriend at the time finally put the finishing touches on a long drawn out 'dumping.' Don't get me wrong, I was no perfect partner during this time and looking back, learned a lot of sorely needed lessons. We had purchased a house together that we were living in while I tried to grow my young contracting business, and as such, was working long hours while she went to graduate school. It soon became clear that I needed to find a new place to live. Foolishly, I sought a short term place of residence instead of just finding my own apartment or room to rent. Through a friend of the family I met an eccentric gentleman who lived in Vancouver, Washington, which is, in essence, a suburb of Portland Oregon; the respective cities and states are separated by the mighty Columbia River as it pushes towards its mouth at Astoria where it meets the great Pacific Ocean. He worked half of the year and travelled the other half, and had been doing this for a long time. His house was filled with items from his travels and was fascinating. He also had many animals in his large backyard. A few dozen chickens and a rooster or two, five or six sheep, three or four peacocks that came and went as they pleased and a few cats depended on me for food and as for the sheep, they needed me to clean their hooves so that the soggy ground didn't cause hoof rot, which was common. I had been used to living in the throbbing heart of the city of Portland, which even at that time, was a veritable quandary of nightlife and social shenanigan milieu. And while I made many stupid decisions back then, even early twenties me knew that driving all the way to Vancouver after a few drinks was a very bad idea. I could have taken better care of those animals that winter.

I woke up that Sunday morning and I saw that the Columbia Space Shuttle had blown up, which now we know marked the end of government run space travel as we knew it and eventually sparked the private outer space industry.  Another thing from that morning, when poor little me, a grown man who felt like my world had just imploded, that I remember is finding that the Portland Trail Blazers had a morning game broadcast over the air, on free broadcast television; this house did not have cable and this was before finding games on the internet was a thing I knew how to do. There was something comforting in watching that Blazer game in a strangers house, with the life I thought was still unfolding having been shut closed the day prior.

Fast forward a few months and I had my own apartment. I was on the basement level of an old apartment building between Morrison and Belmont and 14th street in southeast Portland. It was nothing if not in the heart of things back then. And I had a great skateboard ride down towards the river -- slight downhill with new pavement laid on Belmont. I would often shoot north on MLK and take the Burnside bridge into downtown as the sidewalks on that bridge were better than the Morrison Bridge. I miss pushing around Portland.

Winter turned to Spring and then came Summer. A friend with whom I had grown up with in Portland, but who's immediate family moved to Denver in the later years of highschool and gone back and forth between the two cities and I think it was around the 4th of July when he came back to visit and brought his girlfriend, who I had not previously met. We had a good time together and there was some talk of me moving to Denver, although casual in nature. At that time I hadn't really considered moving away from Portland. I liked Portland. But even at that time, despite dating a number of women, I was still not over my ex and even went through periods of avoiding the house we lived in together (it was on a busy street that I often needed to use) and driving by purposefully to catch a glimpse of her. A few times I saw her with her new boyfriend and I would lose it.

I'm sure my friends and family were tired of hearing about all of this. And, I think I was getting tired of it too. Portland, while a burgeoning metropolis is still now a very small city when travelling in certain circles and even more so back then. There was no avoiding each other even when trying. At some point I thought about shutting down the business and moving to Colorado. The office manager at the warehouse where I did most of my contracting was a good dude and I think he saw a little of himself in me, and when I mentioned what I was thinking of doing and was considering moving to Colorado he gave me his brother's contact information. His brother had been working at Copper Mountain Resort in Summit County, in Colorado, and as such was way up in the managerial level. I spoke to him a few times on the phone and I forwarded a resume to him. He promised me a good job, one that would be able to support the "ski bum" lifestyle -- and suddenly I was making solid plans to move to Denver. I was going to find temporary housing in Denver until October when my job would start in Summit County.

I showed up to Denver and my friend lived here, with a roommate. He graciously offered to stay with his girlfriend for a bit while I found a place to live. Soon I was meeting friends of friends, many of whom were going to University of Denver, as it was close by. Another friend of a friend worked at Kaladi Bros Coffee and little did I know, at that time, that it would be a major shaping influence in my life. The two owners (not brothers) taught me so much in terms of business and how to grow a small, quirky but successful endeavor without losing the elements that sparked the success in the first place. It was here that I met some of the best friends of my life, and it was here that I learned the art of coffee production -- from buying from private farmers across the world to latte art and perfecting the cappuccino foam -- yes, even with rice milk. I started working there in early August and it was soon obvious that I should just use my three days off per week to go snowboarding with friends vs actually moving to the mountains. And that is what I did. I got over 40 days that season while working nearly full time as a coffee roaster. What a great year. I called the guy at Copper Mountain and thanked him for the offer but that I would be respectfully declining.

In the coming years the shape of things to come came into view and I'm still on the trajectory I set before myself in the mid-2000's. I thought that going to undergrad and pursuing pre-med as a major would be impressive to the girls I talked to. That was the initial impetus to be a doctor. I'm written on this many times so I won't expand but, once in awhile it is important for me, in efforts to stay grounded while in the post-graduate medical education process to remember what initially set me on this path. It was no overt divine appointment or desire to benevolently bring relief to the painstricken. Doesn't mean that I don't do thing for the right reasons now, but it is a much more nuanced and complicated process than I could have imagined. Guess I'll go back to the hospital tomorrow and see about continuing to fix the screwed up health care system one patient at a time.

I miss the days of "pre-Denver" life, but am very thankful that I took that leap of faith so many years ago, as it allowed growth that would not have been as ambitious otherwise, I think. And while I can point to many forks in the road in my life, I'm pondering the Sunday morning almost exactly 15 years ago, where a new chapter had opened while I fought to keep the previous chapter from slamming shut. On the wall in the room where I watched the broadcast Blazer game from Dallas was a map that marked all the places the owner of the house had been. He had been all over the world. He had spent at least, in total, 15 years of his life travelling and exploring. I was, even at that time, gearing up for my own grand adventure. May the adventure not end until the end.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

From Bagby to Bixby


Late 90's in Portland, where the dream of the 90's persisted in spite of the last and fast sinking sun of that millenium swiftly approaching, was a place where the encroaching and soon to be overwhelming influx of people was still a dull roar. A time where I was a high school graduate and working odd jobs, still skateboarding and engaged in the urban adventures that go along with being a skate rat. One day three friends and I packed into a car just like this Honda Hatchback and headed to Bagby Hotsprings, an hour or two outside of Portland and that is snowed in a good part of the winter.


Bagby Hot Springs is a place deep in the woods, located in the Mt Hood Forest about 70 or so miles southeast of Portland and sits at nearly 3000ft of elevation in the Cascade Mountain Range. Undoubtedly a place of renown to the Native Americans for who knows how long before the immigrants came from the West and by ship to Portland. It is named for Bob Bagby, a prospector and hunter who "settled" the site in 1880.


In 1913 the United States Forest Service built a small guard station used to house fire patrol crews. In the 1920s a bath house was built but burnt to the ground in 1979, from unattended candles. A volunteer group Friends Of Bagby formed and swooped in to rebuild the bath houses. In the early 1980's there were three bath houses built. There are three major springs at the site, the largest flowing at 24 gallons/minute at 138 degrees Fahrenheit, the two others at 15 gallons/minute with a temperature of 136 degrees, the other much slower and cooler with three gallons/minute at 120 degrees.

The weekends are always busy, and in the early nineties there were stories of shenanigans going down, assaults, drunken debauchery and intimidation, and cars being broken into at the lot. There is a 1.5 mile hike into the area from the parking lot, leaving cars vulnerable to the whims of the unscrupulous and dishonest characters.


Anyway, if my memory serves correctly it was a late autumn Friday evening but the snow had yet to come. The little Honda that could took the 4 of us and a dog up into the hills for a little rest and relaxation in the tubs. I'm fairly sure these pictures are from that very night. Realize this was before everyone had cell phones, and I don't think one of us had a cell phone. Not sure who's camera these pictures come from.


Sausage party, sure, but good times nevertheless. 


It may have early morning by the time we hiked out back to the car and made our way down out of the windy, precarious backroads and down to the highway, coming back into Estacada with the Clackamas River on the left. I think I may have been in the front seat, and as we came around a broad, sweeping curve in the 4 lane highway there was a embankment on the right that had maybe 50 feet of a shallow decline before the land met the mountain base; tall grass covered the road grading embankment. There was a car at the bottom of the large ditch, in essence, and with its lights on. We approached it and the driver slowed down. We ran down the hill and the car was full of people, 4 young people, who looked to be just about our age. They were nearly unarousable. We checked to make sure that all of them were alive and then we decided to continue into Estacada and keep an eye out for a pay phone.


We eventually found one, called 911. We drove back towards the car, maybe a few miles back, and I believe the police and or paramedics flew by us, and we decided not to stop and bother them once we saw the other kids being attended to. I've not thought of this story in awhile, and I'm not sure why it came to my mind today, but I was reflecting on whether or not I had any more insight as a doctor vs back then, when I had no intentions of even earning a bachelor's degree.


The car was resting at the bottom of a long shallow hill, with no evidence of damage to the front, or any part of the care indicating a traumatic precipitating event, or even a velocity of any significant amount as they went off the road and down the hill. In no way would this have been an ideal place to pull off the highway, to chill, drink a beer or whatever kids might be up to on a desolate forest road. I think the car was still running, and the headlight were on.


So, I conclude that whatever insult happened to the mental faculties of all members of the car occurred while the car was on the highway, and it was something that took all of them out at, or nearly at, the same time. Interesting. What could do this? Common intoxicants being common, let us talk through them. Okay, first remember that all four of the kids were sitting in their seats, unconscious and not easily arousable. I wish I would have been paying attention to respiratory rate, but I don't remember any of them having vomitus obvious  around their mouth or on their shirts, I doubt any of them soiled themselves, or at least I didn't smell anything like that. After vigorously shaking one of them he mumbled something incoherent and I don't think he opened his eyes. I remember we checked the pulses of the others and ran back to the car as it was obvious these people were in trouble, it was clearly apparent to even us, some skater dudes who were walking around in the dark, deep forests of the ancient old growth timber, enjoying the fruits of the volcanically heated spring waters.


Alcohol? Doubtful. While passing out from EtOH intoxication is obviously possible, it seems unlikely that all four of them would have been in a place where they were able to get in the car, and then at the same time all pass out and then to gently drive off the road, causing no apparent injury to car or body. I don't remember smelling booze, either.



Uppers, like methamphetamine, or cocaine? Again, unlikely -- of course people who go on speed benders and are up for days, or a week or two at a time eventually crash and sleep. But there is no way that all these kids became unconscious from something like this. However, if they thought they were snorting, smoking or shooting cocaine, or meth and it was dirty, at a unexpected concentration or something else altogether, this could be one possible explanation. And that leads us into my primary suspect...



Downers; specifically kinds that are injected into veins, as acute, coordinated overdoses are seen more frequently from direct intravenous introduction versus smoking or snorting, but nevertheless, I suspect heroin overdose. These kids, if I had to bet, shot heroin into their veins, and they probably all did it together. Most likely it was too concentrated and they, whether experienced users or neophytes, received too much and their respiratory drive in their brainstem was suppressed insomuch that they faded out and slowly drove off the road and came to rest at the bottom of the ditch, waiting for us to come and rescue them. These days, people are falling all around us because of fentanyl that is added to what is sold as street heroin. Fentanyl is waaaay strong and people stop breathing and die. What abou benzos, or other things like GHB, or ketamine? Definitely possible, but again, the scenario which has all 4 people incapacitated at the same time indicates, in my mind, a very acute onset intoxicant which was administered in a manner in which metabolism variances in passengers of care have minimal impact. That is, things that are not eaten or ingested in any way. That means smoking, snorting and shooting are most probable. Benzodiazepines are generally eaten in pill form. I'm not sure about ketamine, I think it is in pill form. Still, heroin injection is suspecto primarius.



If I were on the paramedics rig that responded to that call, I would have hit them with narcan and, probably, would have watched them come to with a rage and anger rarely seen outside of a person reversed out of a blissful celestial passage on the USS Opioid Princess bound for the deep water dock in the sky.

Hope they're okay. I'm sure they're upstanding citizens of rural Oregon, dedicated to the progression of society yet mindful of the unfortunate among us.





Sunday, January 21, 2018

Andrew Reynold's first gen shoe followed closely by Eric Koston's first generation shoe, both with ES were my favorites, though

Still making my way backwards on the CBI blog that is basically all things 1990's skateboarding. Salman Agah was one of my favorites growing up. I, and many of my friends rocked his shoe in all the colors, and I had more than one of his boards when he was on Real, and then The Firm. Interestingly enough, he owns Pizzanista, which is one of my favorite joints in Long Beach, unfortunately they don't deliver to us as we're a bit down the road.



Came across a Salman post and it got me thinking about a day from when I was in High School that had a friend of sorts tell me that Salman Agah was in Portland and that he was going to be at his house that night. Well, turns out that night was a meeting for some weird Christian cult like meeting and I went there, and it was weird and my friend wasn't there, but a couple of the other skater kids that I went to school with were there. I knew all of these guys, and we skated together once in a while but they were not in my normal group of every day friends by any means. So to be there, in a packed living room, with these dudes and no sign of the actual kid who invited me to his house was strange. After an hour or two of attempted indoctrination the meeting was over and we were in the street. The kid finally showed up, but no Salman Agah. I think at that point I wasn't surprised and I skated home, which was a few miles, at least.

Now, as I thought back on this incident, which I haven't thought of in who knows how long, decades maybe I see it through a much different lens. I imagine that the kid who promised Salman but didn't deliver was being pressured to get kids to his house that night. Why else would he have done this? Not that I was particularly angry at the time, or anything. I think, as a 14 or 15 year old, I just really didn't think it through. I mean, I was part of a church that, while not a cult by any means, still met in private homes and what not and at that point I was relatively impervious to the tentacles of other extremist Christian-Jihadi-like encroachments.

There were some points of my childhood where I wondered if I was a psychopath because I just would feel nothing when good, or bad things happened, in retrospect I think that outside of my teenager-ized mind, existed the fact that I really did feel things, of course. In some ways I am very much a stoic. But looking back it may have been a mechanism to decrease the pain, and if this life can teach us anything, people are driven, perhaps at the very root of everything, by the various manifestations of the transdimensional Universal Truth of the need to decrease the pain. Some of us take the direct route, and become dependent on alcohol and opiates, some others turn to food and others vanity; some use religion. Some have found that charitable acts and kindness act as an instrument decreases their pain; I find that some use the temporary but long term deleteriously natured cruelty and take a perverted joy in the proliferation of misery. This truth is played out in the hospital on a daily basis in an acute form. Of course I'm not stretching this truth to then conclude that all of the pursuits are hollow or in some way evenly equitable with each other, just as an aside.



For those of you, like me who rarely click on links, it is a white kid with a Southern accent taking a video of him cocking a shotgun, yelling that he will kill n****s and screaming for them to stay away from him. It is simultaneously enraging and heart breaking. It is easy to wonder how a kid could have so much anger inside of him. It is more difficult to remember being at that age, where adulthood, for the first time is on the very distant cusp of the horizon, and one thing that most 13 year old boys do not feel is any kind of empowerment. This leads to acting out, of sorts, to try and test their ability to take power, even if just a trivial piece. And this kid sounds scared, more than anything. He sounds terrified, in fact. A cornered animal, a desperate creature -- a creature that doesn't know love or mercy or the joys of friendship, the pleasure of a human connection that cuts through the cultural frictions. I pity him. I want to put my arm around him and encourage him; warn him that he will be eaten alive by this anger. Show him his anger is misguided and inflamed by lies and ulterior motives.

Working with people, all kinds of people, only serves to reinforce another truth: the manner in which an individual treats those around them is a clear reflection of how they feel about themselves; or at least allows a window into the egotistic machinations whirring away in all of our minds.


Hurt people hurt people, not that the hurters are necessarily hurt, if you follow. I try and keep this in mind.




Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Meandering of the Delirium

Hari Seldon is a character in a world which encompasses the known galaxy and beyond and is a mathematician with, in essence, an algorithm that can give insight and predict the future at a grand, macro scale. He sees the fall of the ruling empire at that time followed by a 30,000 year "dark age" where isolation, poverty, death and minority ruling classes subjugate the public at large.



He gathers the thinkers of the age: scientists, authors, artists, philosophers, and mathematicians amongst others to a far flung part of the Universe to create an institution which will preserve the comprehensive wealth of knowledge made vulnerable by dissolution of the failing Government. Shenanigans ensue.



I remember starting this trilogy; I may have never read the third installation. Isaac Asimov's mind a fascinating place.

I minored in creative writing and such an endeavor requires many literature classes, and justifiably so. One of the senior level courses was American literature and was meant to encompass, along with the standard coursework a semester long research project and 20 page paper outlining and arguing the significance of whatever icon of American literature; supposedly at our discretion.


I chose Ray Bradbury. He had undoubtedly influenced me in my writing, especially in the way I approached the crafting of short stories. I saw, and still see him as an understated font of influence in society as a whole, and through his writing he saw and told us stories that gave hope for the future, sometimes with great tragedy. Lessons that remind us of the reality of a Universe and reality much greater than ourselves, a healthy idea for young minds so easily prone to a narcissistic like neurosis.


The case was made to allow me to pursue the works and influence of Ray Bradbury as my research object. Within the past year I spent some time trying to find that project and could not. I fear that it may be gone. My undergraduate institution, bless their hearts, cancelled my email account six months after graduation. At least my school of medical education continues to maintain our email accounts. Oh well.



I understand the pushback against Ray Bradbury from that instructor. I know she was beholden to a certain view of what is literature, and I understand it. A stage with which to use for the world that a piece of writing inhabits that is extraterrestrial is viewed as cheating, in a way, by those who limit themselves to the "known world." That coupled with younger audience demographic has led to a divide in academia. It seems like it is changing, things always do.


Last night I was at a shindig related to work and found myself in a conversation with a gentleman who's career had him dealing with the billing and coding IT aspects of a certain EMR system and we were commiserating about the cruel inefficiencies of the machine and how it torments the physicians who fear computers. It led me down the path to defend those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge and the altruistic nature that medicine in its ethereal and idealistic form should exist. This, in essence, encompasses the kind of friendly banter I can engage in these days. I go back and forth between thinking that I've become something that 13 year old me would think is cool and bewilderment why I even would think that is an important marker for success as an adult.


See, the problem is that those who employ an "art" in the practice of coding are usually prosecuted for fraud. Medicine is the application of scientific endeavors that have established principles and understandings that allow us to apply the laws of the universe in the betterment of humanity; we refer to this practice as an art. Perhaps we should sell that idea to the brilliant young minds of the forthcoming generations and restore this profession as the destination of the best and brightest. Let doctors do doctor stuff before a whole generation becomes steeped into the broth that breeds the belief that doctor stuff should encompass 10K clicks of a mouse per day.


And to all those who are pursuing family medicine in this upcoming match, I just wanted to encourage you that these days even we can refuse to see patients just like all the other specialties. Good luck everybody. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Creston Park, Holladay Center, The Underground, The Waterfront, Lincoln High and Blue Garage

For the past three or four weeks I've been reading  a treasure trove of 90's skateboarding lore and 'where are they now?' type of things called the 'chrome ball incident.' Over the years I've perused this blog once in awhile over the years but I got caught up in it and have been working my way backwards. I'm reading interviews from 2011 right now. I've become fascinated by these interviews of people who were heavily involved in skateboarding during the same time periods I was. 

Bryce Kanights at the China Banks in 1986. Photo: Grant Brittain


In 1986 I had a passing fancy in skateboarding. Some kids at school were skateboarding, and they wore Vision Street Wear shoes, which I must admit I coveted with the desperation of a fourth grader who wanted to be cool, and liked. 

I wanted these shoes for so long, well, 2 years seems like a really long time in grade school. 

The kid also wore this Def Leppard shirt that I thought was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. 

Def Leppard had graphics and logos that simply enthralled me. The album cover for Hysteria seemed so cool; I remember the smell of the cassette tape inner leaflet, whatever that thing is called. Remember, the drummer from Def Leppard only has one arm and Hysteria was the first album for which this was true

Interestingly enough, this same kid would be one of the most talented dudes on a skateboard I would know. He never seemed to really like skateboarding. He was throwing 360 flips when I was a Freshman and struggling to learn to control my ollies. But I'm getting way ahead of myself here. 

Kobe Bryant had his jerseys retired last week and he, like many others before him, wrote a love letter to basketball. That, plus my recent obsession with Chrome Ball Incident have led me to think about labels, self-identity and appreciating the forces that have shaped me over the years. 

My ideal dream of skateboarding in the 80's


No surprise that I point to skateboarding to providing me with many of the ethos and general philosophies of life and problem solving that I still use today. I've spoken to this point in various manners with different perspectives. Here is yet another way that the love of skateboarding still bubbles up within me. 

I wanted to be a doctor because I thought it would impress the ladies. 

Vision skateboards. Yup. 

That was the first spark that allowed illumination of the path I'm still on. Of course that reason has been retired for many years and I've been able to find many better reasons to keep going. 

Powell Peralta trying to be cool like World Industries here. This is not the Powell Peralta that I grew up with; no skulls or even skateboards or skaters in this ad. 

Similarly I started skateboarding because the cool kids were doing it -- first, in the 80's when Vision and Powell Peralta and the Bones Brigade ruled the day and then later, with a very different style, the early 90 street skaters, with a bizarre look of huge pants and tiny wheels struck a chord with me.

Uniform circa 1991

 My first and main exposure to such styles actually came from friends and family from Edmonton, Alberta. The irony was lost on me at the time, that a kid in Portland Oregon, a place that had and has continued to have an exceptionally strong skateboarding culture and community was turned on to such a fascinating world by kids from the suburbs of Edmonton. Not actually a cousin of mine, but cousins with dozens of other cousins of mine was a kid who was a year or two older who was riding an Andrew Morrison New Deal board. 

Prolly the best skate video of all time, prolly


It was an everslick and the first board that I road that had the double kick -- a staple even now. I had no idea who Andrew Morrison was, nor the history of New Deal, or even what had happened in the industry which had left Powell powerless and Vision Street Wear nowhere to be found. 



I didn't even put together the fact that Blind Skateboards was started by skaters from Vision and that it meant something, but I did know what Video Days the video meant as far as where and how skateboarding would progress; and that is what I cared about. Not many images available of that vaunted New Deal board exist, the best one I can find is from a collectible website. 

My first real skateboard

I had spent the summer in Edmonton and when I came back home to Portland I was determined to become a skaterdude. Initially I bought an old Alva board from a friend and I learned to ollie in my garage and driveway. My birthday is in October and I made my desire to get a New Deal Andrew Morrison Everslick board with Venture 5.0 trucks for my birthday. Cal Skate, perhaps Portland's oldest skateshop was housed on the Eastside at that time in a small warehouse that had a wooden skatepark inside. For about month before my birthday, I would come home from school and call Cal Skate and ask them if they had this board in stock. I mean, they were making fun of me on the phone by the second week and thoroughly disgusted by the 3rd week. By the time my dad took my friends and I down there on a Friday afternoon, it was all they could do not to wring my neck. I was oblivious and was focused, with a singular mind that had this goal that must be achieved. 

Me. Baby blue airwalks. Tiny wheels. New Deal shirt. Alien Workshop hat. And, I'm pretty sure these are thrift store cut-off jeans. 

I remember trying to hatch money making schemes and brainstorm for odd-jobs in case I didn't get this skateboard for my birthday in 1992. They did have the board, I got my Venture trucks with the green bushings and was talked into a set of grey Channel One Sidewalk Surfers for my wheels. 

1992 saw TWS advertising articles that discuss how much skateboarders hate snowboarders (I remember when that was a thing) and of course, street style vs freestyle. Oh to be caught up in those things and care so much what I should think is cool, and what is not


Clearly I picked up a skateboard because I thought it looked fun and the people doing it were intriguing. That remains true, but turned into a real joy of riding the board and evolved into a alternative way of viewing the world. 

The holy mecca of skateboarding. RIP concrete formations. Right now there is the annual ice skating rink, not that it matters to skateboarding anymore

The cold and brutalist architecture that comprises many of our urban centers are turned into playlands with ledges to slide across, stairs to jump down and handrails to grind down. Objects serving a purpose completely unbeknownst and inconceivable to the architects and corporate needs that shaped the plazas and courtyards around the world. 



There is something about that, this concept of repurposing objects and procedures for alternative means -- Hip Hop took cuts from the jazz, funk and R&B from the generation prior and gave it now life in a way the composers, musicians and singers did not imagine, parallels exist in street skating. 

Two of my friends and me. I can tell you that I'm riding a New Deal Ron Knigge Everslick board. My friend to the right of me has a well worn Rob Dyrdek Alien Workshop board with Independent trucks and a New Deal shirt. The friend in the back had a Firm board at the time. This stuff meant so much at the time. 

Whether we are rich or poor in America we are surrounded by excess -- the difference being our direct access to those bounties. In this environment it seems like a healthy thing to take an artificial world built of concrete, bricks, marble and glass and use it as a canvas for the art and science of skateboarding.

The magazine scene had Transworld's monthly offerings reduced to thin stapled affairs. Thrasher wasn't much better. I still poured over every page, picking through the ads, feasting on the art and iconic logos that have and continue to function as a rootbed for popular culture at large, to varying cyclical degrees. 

Lean and mean alright. I used to be, too. 

Now I live in a world with much less "EMB" and more "EBM" -- Evidence Based Medicine, that is. we do things for reasons, reasons that are based in research. But this drive to see things in a way that is often perpendicular to the way it was "meant" to be viewed still exists. And yes, I do look at the parking lot's curbs, curb cuts, ledges, ground and gaps -- but that isn't what I'm getting at here. I fully embrace the EBM way of conducting the science of medicine, but the art of medicine is much less science, or evidence based, for that matter. I know I keep writing about this, and well, I think I'm still trying to wrap my own head around how to get best outcomes for patients. And for me. For the most part, my best outcome, so to speak is tied directly to the patient's outcome, allowing that there is just some processes doctors and modern medicine cannot affect, or change -- I get that, it doesn't take long for a physician to see this. But a doctor's best outcome is more than just tied to the patient's clinical course, of course. That is what I'm still fleshing out and perhaps writing about it helps. Maybe I'll figure this out and have something more exciting to write about. Maybe these next three months, which truly will be the doldrums of intern year will allow for a clarity hitherto unknown. 

Here is what I do know: self identity is important and I'm actively fighting against what seems like is the common idea of what doctors like to identify as. In general, I'm thinking of older doctors but not always. I've spent my life being labelled a great many different things by outside entities. I've spent a good portion of my life identifying as a "wannabe doctor" and now that I've been here for awhile I see clearly that in order to be satisfied with the "doctor" label I will have to forge my own idea of what this means. Also a work in progress but through these posts, this is something that I am working on. 

On another note, I'm really enamored with trying to find a destination for a week vacation in early April. Just enough time to go someplace exciting and exotic, but short enough that New Zealand seems too far -- even Europe seems like a stretch. Anyone have any ideas for a week long getaway for early April? Taking a chance on having a ski resort to still have snow seems reckless, albeit something I may be willing to chance. Living in Southern California makes tropical destinations a little less intriguing. My life is not short on palm trees and beaches, it is short on snow and real forests. 

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