Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Time To Catch Up, A Time To Fall Back

I need to take a breather. It's 2:30 in the morning and time to regroup. Before I start, I must thank all the people who have been logging on to this thing. The number of hits has been surprisingly large and incomprehensible to a feeble little mind such as the one I own. I wasn't expecting any kind of a response like this. Thanks!

As with most things I do, this blog has taken over my life and my short attention span. Last night at dinner, 3 times during the course of the meal I hungrily asked "Could you please pass the blog?" During my prayers, twice I had to get up and run in to see if I had any more hits online.

As soon as my wife finished doing the dishes, she came in and wanted to use the computer. Said something about surfing the web to look for a 12-step program for out-of-control blog authors.

I said "Sorry, you'll have to wait until there's at least a 10-minute delay between hits on my blog.

Oh! There's another one! Come back later, honey."

She then uncharacteristically put her face right between me and my computer screen and emphatically stated that it was too bad 32 years of marriage was going to have to end because of a stupid blog. I politely asked her to move a little to the right so I could check my ad clicks.

She didn't give me any trouble after that.

It was a little later last night that I realized I might need to reevaluate the post editing features...o0ps,... I mean my life and marriage. It was about the same time that I realized our bedroom door was locked. I slept on the couch until 10 minutes ago.

I believe it's time to reign in the newly spawned obsessive-compulsive disorder that has pulled into town. And you, as my reader, can be of some help. I am going to list some points and questions about this blog. I would greatly appreciate any comments from you concerning my concerns. Your responses will help me formulate just how much time I should spend on this site. They will also give me a compass heading as to which direction I should herd this wagon train.

  • I've got hundreds of posts already written concerning stories of my past life. I don't want to share them all in the first week as the readers would be overwhelmed and I would be out of ammunition. How many times a week should I post a historical essay like the first couple of experiences (the Gorge trip and the plane trip) on this site? It needs to be said that they're not all as good as those two incidents but do involve cops, crashed airplanes, broken romances, near-death experiences, half-million dollar business deals gone awry...mostly trivial stuff. It is essential note that I will preface absolutely true stories with the statement that they are absolutely true. I don't want the reader thinking that actual historical events didn't really happen. On the other hand, my daily ramblings might contain some fabrications for filler and entertainment value.
  • My last couple of posts have been little editorial tidbits that may or may not have redeeming value. Should I break up my historical exposes' with random personal meanderings that have or may not have happened? I don't know if they have any value to you the reader. I need to hear from y'all just how often I should hop on and off this buckin' bronco called Risky Business. Do you need a post a day? Every other day? Or would once a week suffice?
  • I'm thinking some of my stories are too long for one sitting. Case in point, the Gorge story. After this, if there's any particularly long posts, I'll break up that experience into several different days.
  • Should I intersperse my actual history with fictional happenings. I personally find it a kick in the pants to use illogical and semi-illiterate exaggerations once in a while.
  • Do you want more or fewer pictures?

So what do you think? Should I keep going? Should I talk about whatever comes to mind? I need to hear from you. Thanks for all the nice comments that you've posted here and on Facebook.

I quit my day job yesterday so these ad clicks mean alot to me. Yesterday alone brought me $2.32! If I am able to keep up at this pace, by this time next year, I'll have pulled in over $846! We're talking some serious money here and it doesn't cost me a thing! Of course, I've averaged 16 hours a day in writing time so that's only fourteen and a half cents per hour, but hey, it could be worse. I've had a lot of businesses that did nothing but generate red ink. So far, I'm in the black!

Sorry about this entertainmentless post. However, it needed to be said and I figured it would be best to have some direction before too many wordy and unwanted submissions were inserted herein.

So to recap, your comments will give me direction.

Last point. Refer a friend or two to this blog. I was figuring it up and if every current reader referred two friends here and the next day, those two friends told two of their friends, in about a week I would have an organization like Amway. However, on the down side, the SEC would be investigating me as a pyramid scheme and I would probably end up as a cellmate with Bernie Madoff.

Maybe we should just keep this thing quiet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hi, my name is Ben and I'm a recovering...idiot. (Part 2)

(Note: The post following this one didn't get lost after all. I didn't realize it until I finished redoing with this one. Sorry about the extra ink!)

Strike that title! I just composed a monstrous post and Firefox decided to step in at a most inconvenient time and dump it. Anyone who doesn't save their work on a computer every 30 seconds is an idiot. I am one and not recovering in the least.

Computers cannot be relied upon. An fellow inventor friend of mine has experienced numerous pc failures over the years. Whenever someone brings up the subject of computers, he flies into a rage and starts yelling that every computer is a "Prototype". (Ok, I just saved this)

In spite of having massive computer failures myself over the years, I have to chuckle since a prototype is a beginning or first edition of a new model or invention. He thinks each computer has been independently invented on its own, custom manufactured and developed, individually and separately and one-by-one, and then sold to the masses.

He sounds pretty kooky until I experience a droppage of work off my screen like just happened. (I just hit Save) Just to be sure, I just Saved again.

Back to what I had been writing before my prototype disintegrated...

The last 4 or 5 decades have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that I am an idiot. Over the last several years, the dysfunctional occurrences have faded and I thought I was on the road to normality. I began writing my book with the title of this post but then the almost missing the plane thing last fall hit. I have hit rock bottom again.

For whatever reason, I scoot as close to the edge of the precipice as I possibly can. I consider it a welcome challenge to see if an impossible action can be accomplished without much forethought and dive in without giving it another forethought. I am an adrenalin junkie. Therefore, when you get on my blog, you can have something to read. This is all for your benefit.

So this blog thing is brand new to me. I have been writing a book for the last 12 or 15 years and have been providing material for the book for the last 55 years. However, my book needs a lot of editing to get in any kind of flowing and understandable form. My very limited knowledge thus far indicates to me that a blog can just be thrown in the hopper. Who cares what kind of chronological order it's in? It just has to be worth reading. So I'm throwing the book idea out of the dance hall and cavorting with my blog.

Yesterday was my first day of posting. However, I spent most of the day (and night) with it so by now I consider myself a professional novice blog expert. From the comments I received, I've even picked up a few fans on the first run out of the chute.

My wife, however, is not one of them. She harped on me all day long to get something productive done. When I began speaking of stats and design and hits and comments and followings and monetizing and links, she rolled her eyes and muttered something like "I'd like to give him a hit, alright" as she walked away to do something productive.

So I'm about half manic depressive. I'm also around half bipolar. This may explain the reason I've been up till all hours the last two nights. I've got blog on the brain.

I usually don't sleep much because I'm inventing something (that's what I do for a living) or trying to figure out how to pay the bills (that's also what I do for a living). So now I have to add blogging to my list of sleep inhibitors.

Traditionally, when I go to bed, about half the time after the lights have gone out, I start brain storming and pumping the old adrenalin. It's no use trying to sleep at that point. I've learned to hop out of bed and go watch tv. Often I can go right to sleep if there's a distraction to take my mind off the vexing focus of the day.

Well, last night, this blog and all its implications came home to roost in my noggin' as soon as the incandescents powered down. I found it fun and necessary through the day to watch the hits climb and the ad clicks mount every few minutes. Last night was no different and my wife knew that's where I was headed as I got out of bed.

"DO NOT GET ON THE COMPUTER!" she commanded. "Promise me you will not get on the computer!" came several times more from the commandant. After analyzing both of our situations and what I had to do to maintain the peace, I agreed.

"Promise me!" she said.

"OK, I promise."

I promptly went in and hit the mouse button. The computer instantly emitted its deafening doorbell tones which I had forgotten would happen. The blog rush had made me lose all caution. All I could do at that point was pray she had fallen into a deep sleep in the past 20 seconds and did not hear the annunciation of the mouse movement and the spooling up of the hard drive.

The door flew open and there she was, in all her nighttime fury. "You promised me!" she claimed.

I knew this was going to take some fast thinking to diffuse. "Hun" (spelling in this instance is correct. Definition: Hun--A barbarous or destructive person), I said calmly and meekly. "Stop for a minute. ON is the key word in this discussion. I promised you that I wouldn't come in here and get ON the computer. Does it look like I'm ON the computer?"

I knew I was in the clear. At that moment, I was sitting in a chair. The computer was tucked away under the desk. There is no way a skinny 5 year-old could have gotten ON the computer, let alone a large individual such as myself.

It didn't work. But in the end it did. She didn't understand my logic but she didn't argue. She once again muttered something about she'd like to monetize by giving me a hit in the link and then slammed the door.

Now I could monitor my new blog in peace.

Post note: I didn't get to sleep till just before the break of dawn. Thanks for the comments, ad clicks and hits. I'll probably be sleeping the rest of the day.

Tell your friends and get them following this blog!

Hi, my name is Ben and I'm a recovering...idiot. (Part 1)

So I was going to write a book and this was going to be the title. I've got about 250 pages written, much of it with the same slippery hold on reality that is listed in the stories previous. And so, there are a few points that have come to mind as I begin this new blog...

I am not a recovering idiot. The word recovering needs to be excised. The only reason I initially decided to use that particular phrase was to attract a larger segment of the population to buy my book, namely recovering alcoholics. Since the standard introductory phrase at AA meetings is similar to my title, I figured I could sell more books, mostly to alcoholics.

As I said, I'm not recovering because I just keep doing the same dumb things. I like to cheat death, play the long shot, see how far I can peer over the edge, pump the adrenalin, stuff like that. Why, after all these years of hanging out there, I would do a little trick like try to make it to the airport with an impossible time line is beyond me.

So the night before last, I posted my first post on here. I was immediately pleasantly surprised by the response and so I went crazy with more posts yesterday. Not good. I know a good performer needs to leave his audience wanting more. Instead, I threw everything but the kitchen sink at you. I made the posts too long, I think.

Not only did I shoot too many shells, but I put my wife in her eye rolling mode. I mean, I spent the day talking about hits and stats and monetizing and ad clicks and comments and followers and links, terms that only really savvy computer guys like myself can wrap their mouse around. She got sick of it. By the eve, she was demanding that I quit it. I tried but every time I got out of her field of vision, I couldn't help myself. I jumped on the comp to see the burgeoning readership.

The only problem was we have this computer that makes a big electronic symphonic-type musical noise every time you bring it out of the safe mode. Then, when you click to bring the browser up, it does it again! Therefore, she was instantly alerted every time I checked the stats. Michele is normally a music lover but she couldn't get into the tones last evening. Conjugally speaking, it wasn't the best of nights.

Things got even worse as we crawled into bed. I often have trouble sleeping when I'm working on a new invention or trying to figure out how I'm going to-- CRASH!!.........

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How This All Got Started

A current view from the home dad built in 1968.  Looking south toward the Columbia River and Tri-Cities.

For a little background, here's my story...

Dad and mom moved to the deserted and desolate Columbia Basin in Washington State in 1957 with a thousand dollars, a car and big ideas to farm. They had bushel loads of desire to be make their own way and raise a family in the process. However, the odds were stacked against them.

In the cold winter of 1957 with few tools, no utilities available or neighbors to help, dad started building a home to house his future posterity. We (mom, dad and I) usually did this at night since dad had a day job. My sister Teresa was a baby and a little too young to help with the actual construction.

I was two years old at the time and toddled around the place in freezing weather while the folks built house. I probably wasn’t much help. Dad mixed concrete for the foundation by hand and shovel. They illuminated the worksite with the car headlights. Because the temperatures were freezing, the concrete froze and the foundation flaked off for years after. I guess they felt they had to get the job done and didn’t worry about the finer details.

My future with a capital T for Trouble was mapped out one cold night when I stuck my tongue on the business end of a frozen hammer. The folks got a little concerned when they saw me walking around with a claw hammer hanging out of my mouth.

How to thaw and separate? There was no electricity, heat, or running water. I was screaming and time was of the essence. The only warm substance available was mom’s spit so she started hucking loogies toward my connection point with this foreign object until we finally separated. I would never let her do that today although since I never learn, I would probably still be agreeable to sticking my tongue on a frosty hammer if things got boring.

My earliest memories of life are of living with my poor, dirt-farming parents in a desolate, hot, sandy, sagebrush sprinkled, cheat grass, coyote and snake-infested spot a mile or two north of the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State above the shoreline called Ringold. This place was and still is home. My life has always been centered in this cradle of agriculture and home of “salt of the earth” farmers.

Starting out, it wasn’t a farm. It was blow sand and sagebrush, a pretty much constant dust storm with nary a neighboring farm in sight. The Grand Coulee dam had recently been constructed some eighty miles northwest of us on the Columbia River and a huge canal system had just been constructed. This brought life-giving water to the Basin and allowed energetic people like mom and dad to get a start.

Most were destitute young couples similar to the hard scrabble folk living during the depression and dust bowl eras. The majority of them lived in tents, shacks and other substandard accommodations with high hopes for better times to come. Many stayed for a few months or a year and then gave up, returning to their former and more pleasant locations and livelihoods that they had previously abandoned. Most came with more resources that my parents and yet gave up within the first year or two.
I'm assisting dad laying straw over newly planted grass. The house is unfinished but already lived in.
My folks started out buying 40 acres of barren soil with my dad holding down a job as a county agent, assisting other farmers as they tried to tame the wild ground. He would rise early in the morning to work on his own field, go to work for 8 or 9 hours and then return in the evening to again work on the farm until late each night. He stayed with his job for a year or so and then went full-time as a farmer. I remember watching him through the front window leave for work in a county pickup each morning and crying because I wanted to go with him. I was 2 or 3 at the time.

His job included surveying undeveloped land. He was staking and flagging it so the new farmers could level the uneven ground to grade. This was absolutely necessary before it could be farmed since it allowed the new farmer the ability to get the life-giving water to run down the crop rows to the end of the field.

I remember him taking me with him a time or two, a two-year old trudging through the hot sand, trying to keep up with his surveying and fast-striding father.

Back then, the area had minimal green vegetation. The hot ground was a final destination for the scorching sun as there was nothing but dry cheat grass and an occasional sagebrush providing little cover. In the decades since, this desert has blossomed into wonderfully productive farmland. It's no wonder that the weather for our area has seemed cooler in recent years after all the green farms have been established.

In the early years, dust devils or whirlwinds were a constant sight. Spinning sand, tumbleweeds and other available debris were sucked into the vortex, often rising a half mile into the air. It was always entertaining to watch. Trying to guess which direction the twister would follow and watching its minor destruction was fun for farm boys.

Nowadays, dust devils are a rarity in the irrigated areas of this tamed desert. I assume this is because there is no longer just hot sand to reflect the heat and stir up the twisters. Green crops and mature orchards abound now and keep the temperatures more subdued.

Dad would arise at 4:30 or so each morning and work at a dead run until 9:00 or later in the evening. He continued on this pace from 1957 until around 1985 when he came down with Multiple Sclerosis. He had to spend the next 19 years hobbling around and finally becoming relegated to a wheelchair. The MS years were very hard on him. I wouldn’t have had as hard of a time as he did with this debilitating disease since I don’t mind sitting around and dreaming up new ideas.

Mom was just as much of a worker. I am awed by their accomplishments, love and example. It has been a great blessing to have been raised in their home.

My folks, Bill and Joan Casper

We had very few neighbors. Most lived miles away. I remember as a three-year-old sitting on my tricycle outside our house and watching a truck coming down the gravel road with a big army barracks loaded on the back. A man stood on the roof with a board and lifted each power line up and over the house on wheels as the truck pulled it past.

(Here I am in the drivers seat hauling around dead weight in the form of my sister Teresa who is 11 months younger than I. Many people have commented that there's enough difference in our personalities that they can't believe we came out of the same womb. I am also of that opinion. By some weird twist and without any familial connection, we married people who were classmates from Springville, UT., some 600+ miles away. How weird is that? We also live next door to each other. Almost daily I just shake my head. (Usually with a NO! motion) 

We finally had some neighbors and they were only a quarter of a mile away! The Cooks happened to be members of the LDS Church (Mormon) as were we. They had a boy my age which created an inseparable duo for double trouble for the next decade or so. Brian and I grew up together and were best pals for many years. We also managed to squeeze in an amazing amount of extracurricular activities for two farm boys whose fathers kept the work piled on. Household luxuries were scarce. We didn’t have running water for 2 or 3 years.

Mom would hook up a trailer to the back of our tractor every week and drive to the nearest neighboring farmhouse that had running water. The water was used for washing, drinking, cooking and other essentials. My sisters and I rode on the flatbed trailer carrying the water tank.

Saturday nights were bath night. Several pots of water were heated on the stove and then dumped into a tin tub in the front room. My sisters were bathed and then I. Next, mom crawled in and dad finally finished the cleaning process in the dirty bathwater. We were ready to go to church the next day.

We had to walk several hundred feet to a homemade outhouse every time we needed “do our business.” I remember the sometimes freezing seat and always smelly atmosphere this job entailed.

The Cooks also had an outhouse. Since we were their closest neighbors and were a good quarter of a mile away from their outhouse, Brian’s mom Donna had no problem leaving their privy door open that by chance faced our home. She found this greatly diminished the distinctive outhouse smell factor. Her open-door policy remained in effect until the day she found out that my dad had purchased a new pair of binoculars.

Growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s was an adventure, at least in the neck of woods that I was raised in. Actually, the only woods that were around my growing up years consisted of sagebrush sprinkled in with a few willow branches and lathes from the woodshed, often used on my backside. I was raised in a home full of love, hard work and good examples although there was a touch too much touch when it came to corporeal attitude adjustments.

When my folks started their parenting years, one of my grandfathers advised them not to spare the rod or the child would be spoiled. This was a mistake with my free spirit. The physical efforts at corrective maneuvers just made me want to be a little freer. I was the first of nine kids and therefore was the prototypical experimental model. I started out at a very early age developing an attitude that if my dad wanted me to do one thing, I would do just the opposite. I struggle with this Johnny Reb thinking process to this very day.

Maybe that's why I ended up inventing. I want to find a better and different way. However, I have realized that even though my way is different, it's not always better.

This narrative is my life. Of those who read, most will express righteous, and at times, self-righteous indignation. A few saintly souls honestly will be offended and ashamed that they know me, the rest of the readership have probably had a few of the same struggles, albeit not near the volume, frequency, quality or quantity. A few will laugh. Some will even relate. If this narrative provides help or other positive perspectives for readers, I will be happy--my work and life are not a total waste.

Most will read and think “You wouldn’t catch me doing that!”, “What an idiot!” or “His poor wife!” A few will muse “When is he going to die?” One or two will say “Been there, done that.”

Liability concerns require me at this point to warn the reader that they are not to attempt the stunts listed hereafter at home.They were performed by a quasi-semi professional (albeit recovering) knot-head.
The only reason I write this stuff is to make this one hot, interesting, and cool Mormon blog and to document stuff that really happened yet is impossible to duplicate.
Or, I could make it a Catholic blog if the right investor came along.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Close Calls (Near Death Experiences)

This blog is a newborn babe. Close brushes with death will be shared as the posts tally up. The following true experiences will be shared as the entries climb...

  • 25 broken bones sprinkled through time
  • 1 head injury/coma, a compound fracture and several other broken bones from riding a bicycle- all precipitated by having a head-on collision with some missionaries in a car coming the other way. This was my first really direct contact with the Mormon Elders
  • 3 knee operations
  •  shattered elbow 
  •  near drowning as a 5 year-old
  •  airplane wreck plus 6 or 8 other very close calls while flying
  •  incident with a rear tractor tire running over my feet, legs, body and head on a ditch road
  •  car wreck involving an exciting police chase with the car eventually flying off the top of an overpass
  • "Look ma, no hands!" bicycle wreck tearing down a graveled hill--hamburgered knees and hands plus  large blood clot
  • Ordered a new Corvette from the factory and bought 2 airplanes without telling my wife. The incidents in this particular category were probably the closest NDE's I've had.
Because of the head injury, I'm having trouble remembering other incidents but I'm sure there are some.  Stay tuned for the excitement! Hook up as a Follower so you don't miss the fun posts!