Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Frost on the breath

Glow on wires in the frosty fog

Transparent gloves finger the wooden sleepers

Reflecting better than any holiday lights

You know it is cold when your lips grow ice.

Enjoy winter

Monday, January 19, 2009

Being Real

The words of "be true to yourself" ring a chord that should live in all of us, but we bend to the pressure of peers and expectations,

Be REAL. You and only YOU can be REAL to yourself.

No matter what others say, or what their perceptions are of you, You are YOU.

And only You know that.

So as you choose your reading, your watching, your time, your clothes, your home, your friends, your family, your real.

You can become anything or anyone to please or conform with the requirements of society.

Look in the mirror.

Bend but do not break.

Be who you are.

Be REAL to yourself, even if you can not be to others.

Life is too short to not be.

Goodbye Big John

John Terrence Ailor. Artist, fisherman, watercolor painter, football lineman, devoted father and all around good guy.

I did not know John very well. We ate lunch together for a year or two talking about football and work. He would give me rides home dragging me away from the constant stress.

Met John years before when the Times-Dispatch and News Leader were separate newspapers. John and his crew of artist were on the south side of the building in a little glass cage while Tom Bond and his crew of artist were on the north side of the great divide hallway.

Pre-digital, I would wonder upstairs from the advertising art department to assist or ask questions of the "news" artist. Sitting behind drawing boards we would compare notes and techniques, but that is where it ended. News and advertising were separate to keep conflicts of interest down.

When the digital revolution hit, advertising got the first computers. With constant trial and error, I figured out the new Macs and lost my fear of the new world order.

So as the network grew to add the newsroom on both sides of the great divide hallway, we all became interdependent. Advertisers would ask the creative service department to prepare maps like the news department. The news department would be asked to take Microsoft Excel information and create charts and graphs.

The communication began. We were all crash dummies, but were learning together.

John was always willing to learn and appreciated the tips and techniques shared.

When the two papers merged, John and Tom and a few others were secluded in another building to redesign the NEW Times-Dispatch. I remember going to their assistance in the lonely room across the street. Blank walls and a few tables with piles of papers and notes and long hours of artist hammering out a deadline. But John pushed through it.

After the redesign and the consolidation of the papers, John was moved to second fiddle. Let's see they called him "Deputy Graphics Editor" when he retired. But that was second best and he knew it.

John was assigned the weather page and worked hard at communicating with an outside design firm. They would build the graphic and download it (as in the day) to the Times-Dispatch with native files that could be changed by the artist if necessary. A long and tedious process. Plus the computer platform was changing from Mac to PC. Compatibility problems arose and John was stress with the lack of support, but like his high school football teachings, he pressed forward.

So I think it helped both of us with those 30 minute trips home in his big white truck, discussing the problems of the day and possible solutions.

I knew John has some health problems by his exhaustion walking across the street and the boot he wore over and over again on his increasingly smaller foot. But he didn't talk of it and I didn't press the matter. Our conversations were for relaxation so it stayed light.

John had an eye for the ladies. I didn't know his family relations but we talked lightly of the eye candy when it appeared. He indicated at one point about his single life in a high rise apartment and the consumption of "Jack" as he called it.

Now remember we are talking about a huge guy.

One night on the way home, he was quiet. He was shaking, like it was cold, but it was summer. His voice quaked. I offered to drive, or get out or go with him to wherever he had to go, but he just shivered and shakes and sweat ed and said, "No I'll get you home." I climbed out of the truck and he quickly sped off. The next day he was in the hospital.

On his return to work, we continued the routine of lunch and rides home. Similar conversations topics of past accomplishments, lack of goals, communication, and an increasingly desire to seek happiness.

Between his health and frustration, John decided to retire early. He was quiet about it and did not want any parties or cards. He just wanted to come in one day and slip out at the end of his shift.

So we said goodbye.

No, that's not the end. John kept in touch and would occasionally come down to have lunch at one of the few remaining eatery's. Even got him to join Facebook.

He seemed interested in my life's adventures and revealed in the acquaintances of old friends and lovers. I never embellished the facts, but he filled in his own gaps with a child like wonder. John could dream.

Then his cousin e-mailed me that John was in the hospital, and like I often do, I barged in to see him. He was wired up to tubes and bandaged, but his face lit up when I saw him. I just stood and talked to him, hat in hand, while he asked questions about the art shack and the guys he used to work with.

The next and last time I saw him, John had been moved to another room with more monitors and machines and tubes. Through the smile, he knew the future. It had been over 10 weeks in the hospital.

And so we say goodbye to a good friend. A good meaning guy. A guy who followed his father's footsteps into an industry which used him for 41 years, then spit him out.

The best compliment came that Saturday, the day after John was gone. The editorial page wrote a blip about John in the Weekend wrap up column. "He will be mourned." John would have been surprised. He would smile.

So smile for big John and know he can finally get to those watercolors and fishing he would retire to

Goodbye Old Friend.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Widing Wacky Wednesday Woads

Riding the wacky roads of Richmond on Wednesday was an interesting day.

Trash day in the fan. But more than that was the mobile machines. Lights on and moving in the early morning. Moving when they don't normally roam.

The temperature is 21 degrees, but the movement and the sunshine keeps the body warm.

Not too bad going east and a hot shower, but in the afternoon...

Lots of traffic. As the sunsets and the sky grows gray, the red tail lights whiz pass in abandon. The thoughts of the drivers examine to track the process of leaving work and racing home down a two lane narrow road. Past the Police headquarters which was a social office for a friend of mine in times past.

Finally up to VCU and the road is blocked. Yet again, the city is digging up the road about the street and I must decide where to go. Which direction?

Up Franklin Street the wrong way, against headlights. Weaving around open doors and zombies walking cross the street.

Then pause, but the zombies gather and offer no passage.

So the break in action, and onward, up Franklin against the traffic.

Finally a cross to West Avenue, even followed by another mobile machine,

Avoid the exhaust, then turn left and past more machines who can not find there direction. Perhaps they are turning?

Up familiar road, but still not comfortable. More open doors, stopped doors, swerving cars, and cross traffic.

Recycle trucks growl around my path and I can not avoid them. Pizza delivery cars squeal then stop and doors open.

After several detours and paths less traveled, home looks warm and welcoming.

But now it is time to go to the store before the cold.

And that's the way of just another life.

and an email that pops the balloon, just another life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Who Is She?

This girl who I only met for a brief time.

This girl with blond hair and warm smile.

This girl with soft lips.

This girl who I slightly know, but feel warm and connected to.

This girl who flirts and I accept.

This girl who is far away and may never be close again.

This girl so far away.

Where are you Southern Bell?

Sweet dreams and remember me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Goodbye Old Friend

They have been with me for years. Always there. Always faithful. In the corner ready for any action.

Some old friends must go when they are old, and torn, and have been through their life cycle.
And so it is for this friend.

He's been with me through snow and rain and sun and seasons past.

He's been with me through experiences and travels and adventures too many to name.

He's been with me every morning when the sun has not risen, but awaits for me to travel.

He's been with me every evening when the frost blows from my lips as I try to survive.

But now old friend it is time to part.

Thank you for years of wear and tear.

Sorry I ripped your leg on the bike spoke.

Stuffed with a wallet, ID, credit cards, knife, ring of keys and handkerchief. The same for years.

And the morning rubs to warm my hands while waiting for the light.

You are a well worn and good friend and I will miss you.

Remember you were there for the new years walk. That will make you smile.

or maybe I should sell you on ebay to some Russian who loves distressed jeans.

How about a bailout?


Notice the metal mobile machine in front of you on the pavement.

The blinker flashes. The monster is determined to turn.

But which way?

The light indicates left....but that is across a traffic lane. Will it really make that move?

Watch the front of the machine. Does it turn left? Or does it pause??

Turning seems to be an uncertainty.

Watch next time you see a mobile machine turn. It will slow half way into the turn.

Are the occupants of the metal machine unsure of the direction they attend to go?

What is a turn?

A change of direction.

Traveling forward, then a decision to change direction.

But why do we change directions?

Are we traveling the wrong way? Do we need to adjust to a new path?

And why are we unsure of the direction change? Do we realize we may have made a mistake?

Life throws us lots of turns and we must be able to adjust to all of them.

As far as I can tell, centrifugal force carries me through ever turn.

Monday, January 5, 2009

You Missed The Kiss?

So after 3 days into the new year, let’s reflect into the last year. What happened of any importance?

Let’s stop before we get too far and take a look at 2007. Did anything happen that was worthy of note..... No, not much.

Move on to the end of the year and Christmas and New Years and all that. But this one was different. This one started with a surprise. A Christmas present no one could have imagined.

Few times do you get a chance to find a lost element of your life. To touch a dream that had disappeared. But this year was different.

And the new year was to be like no other. A simple walk, a simple talk, and yet a remarkable feeling. It was like being a teenager again.

But reality happens. Life is what it is and without open opportunities, dreams can only be dreams.

So she flew back to the south and I was left alone in the cold. Alone, but awake.

And my mind wandered into deep dark places. Places not ventured to regularly. Places not ventured frequently. Places that should be avoided after all these years.

But these thoughts filled my mind.

And a change was happening in my soul. There was more to life that must be experienced.

So I took this spirit that filled me and explored it. What was causing me to be crazier?

My mother had died the year before and the night it happened I walked out into the garden and stared at the stars. The clouds rushed past. Dark shapes drifting quickly by the dark blue sky. I watched for hours and wondered, “Why don’t I feel anything?” She was my mother. I don’t feel anything?

There were years of protection, cuddling, and overbearing, but it did not overcome the last years of drunken fits, screaming, wildness, and crazy behavior. How can a child take care of a crazy mother?

So the thought was “What was I feeling?”

Was there feeling for the family? Was there a family?
And what was I doing here now?

2008 began, What are the goals for the new year?

New glasses? Safe deposit box? 7- flat tires? A new computer? Link to the internet? Join Facebook? Start a blog? Find a girl friend??

Or get so frustrated at Valentine to run away from home. Cut out and check in to a hotel for a weekend of reflection. Maintain sanity and keep aloof.

Dig through the cold of winter and wait till Spring. Send notes, cards, emails, but come to the realization of life, even though friends and family note the change in discussing the beginning of the year.

Travel to town where both parents grew up and summers presented teaching school never taught. Seeing family who have not been seen in 40 years, all for a funeral. And the weird part was hitting on the daughter of the man who was being buried. My cousin who was smart enough to get away from the family early, but the clan kept him close. And seeing Whitey’s sons. Flashback to a chiseled face lad who tempted sun, waves, and life taught me a lot, introduced me to my first love, but did not win over troubles within.

Heat up the summer and continue on the Sunday 10 mile ride, with an occasional break for coffee with the wife of an old friend, or a cool drink at the local pub, or a quick lunch with an old girl friend of a friend of mine. And when that is not enough, sit at an ale house with an old friend and his niece and talk about going to jail and drinking at your parents house. Don’t do shots if you have a pacemaker.

Enjoy some time for creative thoughts. Sit with a writer, a real novel writer and discuss ideas for books on bands, concerts, parties, and Florida. Experiment with new software to record and burn CDs of old and new music. Some interesting results. Had to post them so why not make a YouTube movie.

And if that’s not enough, take a train ride up north to visit an old friend and his wife and dogs and house for a weekend. Sleep on his step daughter’s bed (there’s probably another book in there), cook out, buy alcohol, watch BIG screen TV, pizza, and burn a CD compilation with an amazing music collection surrounded by the Beatles.

All the while, the economy is dropping like a popped balloon, people are disappearing from the workplace. Stock drops, and 401K is cut in half. But the house is paid for.

And luckily the emails keep us all together. Many connections with old and new friends.

Even the t-shirt pool party and playing guitar with an old co-writer, it allowed him to sing and entertain the crowd, to the point of singing along with the Byrds’ front-man.

And the end of the year, I still have a job. I have a key to her heart. I have silver marching parade. I have health, but happiness may be fleeting.

To bring life into perspective, another friend who recently retired is in the hospital with tubes, air, and pumps working on his body, monitoring his life week after week.

So wait for the kiss and hopes that it comes. Close your eyes and dance with me.

What We Are Supposed To Be

“ I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be. ”
Albert Hofmann,

Albert Hofmann (January 11, 1906 – April 29, 2008) was a Swiss scientist best known for having been the first to synthesize, ingest and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann authored more than 100 scientific articles and wrote a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child. On January 11, 2006, Hofmann became a centenarian, and the occasion of his 100th birthday was the focus of an international symposium on LSD.

Hofmann was born in Baden, Switzerland, the first of four children born to factory toolmaker Adolf Hofmann and his wife Elisabeth (née Schenk). Due to his father's low income, Albert's godfather paid for his education. When his father fell ill, Hofmann took up a position as a commercial apprentice in concurrence with his studies. At the age of twenty, Hofmann began his chemistry degree at the University of Zürich, finishing three years later, in 1929. His main interest was the chemistry of plants and animals, and he later conducted important research regarding the chemical structure of the common animal substance chitin, for which he received his doctorate, with distinction, in 1930.

Hofmann joined the pharmaceutical-chemical department of Sandoz Laboratories (now Novartis), located in Basel as a co-worker with professor Arthur Stoll, founder and director of the pharmaceutical department. He began studying the medicinal plant squill and the fungus ergot as part of a program to purify and synthesize active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals. His main contribution was to elucidate the chemical structure of the common nucleus of Scilla glycosides (an active principal of Mediterranean Squill). While researching lysergic acid derivatives, Hofmann first synthesized LSD-25 in 1938. The main intention of the synthesis was to obtain a respiratory and circulatory stimulant (an analeptic). It was set aside for five years, until April 16, 1943, when Hofmann decided to take another look at it. While re-synthesizing LSD, he accidentally absorbed a small quantity through his fingertips and serendipitously discovered its powerful effects before his bicycle ride home. Three days later, on April 19, Hofmann deliberately consumed 250 micrograms of LSD. This was followed by a series of self-experiments conducted by Hofmann and his colleagues. He first wrote about these experiments on April 19 of that year stating he experienced effects that included; "remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness" and "an extremely stimulated imagination".

Hofmann became director of the natural products department at Sandoz and went on studying hallucinogenic substances found in Mexican mushrooms and other plants used by the aboriginal people. This led to the synthesis of psilocybin, the active agent of many "magic mushrooms." Hofmann also became interested in the seeds of the Mexican morning glory species Rivea corymbosa, the seeds of which are called Ololiuhqui by the natives. He was surprised to find the active compound of Ololiuhqui, ergine (lysergic acid amide), to be closely related to LSD.

In 1962, he and his wife Anita traveled to southern Mexico to search for the plant "Ska Maria Pastora" (Leaves of Mary the Shepherdess), later known as Salvia divinorum. He was able to obtain samples of this plant but never succeeded in identifying its active compound which has since been identified as the diterpenoid Salvinorin A.
Albert Hofmann in 2006

In 1963, Hofmann attended the annual convention of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS) in Stockholm.

Hofmann called LSD "medicine for the soul" and was frustrated by the worldwide prohibition that has pushed it underground. "It was used very successfully for 10 years in psychoanalysis," he said, adding that the drug was hijacked by the youth movement of the 1960s and then unfairly demonized by the establishment that the movement opposed. He conceded that LSD can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

In December 2007, Swiss medical authorities permitted a psychotherapist to perform psychotherapeutic experiments with patients who suffer from terminal stage cancer and other deadly diseases. Although not yet started, these experiments will represent the first study of the therapeutic effects of LSD on humans in 35 years, as other studies have focused on the drug's effects on consciousness and body. Hofmann supported the study, and continued to believe in the therapeutic benefits of LSD.

Hofmann was due to speak at the World Psychedelic Forum from March 21 to March 24, 2008 but was forced to pull out due to poor health.

Albert Hofmann died as a result of a natural causes on April 29, 2008 in the village of Burg im Leimental, near Basel, Switzerland. He was 102 years old

Albert Hofmann's autobiographical account of his experience with the hallucinogen is LSD: My Problem Child. Hofmann also co-authored The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries (Hermes Press, 1998, North Atlantic Books, 2008), a collaborative effort with mycologist R. Gordon Wasson, and classical scholars Carl Ruck and Blaise Staples, which reveals the secret mystic elixir that is at the heart of the Eleusinian Mysteries and, therefore, fundamental to the development of Western civilization. Hofmann further describes the relevance of the Eleusinian Mysteries for today's world, and the application of psychedelic experience to the study of metaphysics, in essays published in Entheogens and the Future of Religion, (Council on Spiritual Practices, San Francisco, 1999); and discusses his relationship with LSD provocateur Timothy Leary in Outside Looking In (Park Street Press, Rochester, VT, 1999)

*Note: Mr. Hofmann was the age of my father. I can not imagine tripping with my dad, but it could have happened. So from a kid of the 60's who enjoyed your discovery, thanks.
And it shows how dangerous these drugs are. You could live to be 102!