Friday, July 06, 2007

Finding Tranquility

Today I stumbled upon a very nice blog talking about time spent on vacation here in Moses Lake, WA. This is where I have lived and raised my family for 14 years. This is the place I have come to love as my home...

A little background...

I was in the US Coast Guard when I moved here, and my selection of Moses Lake as my final billet during my time of service had nothing to do with the charms of Central Washington and everything to do with it's proximity to the Portland area, my original stomping grounds and the home of my immediate family.

I had just completed an entire year of isolated duty above the arctic circle, serving as a Loran Tech in a remote transmitting station on the Bering Sea. Despite the unexpected pleasures and unique experiences I had encountered in the great white north (a story all by itself), I was certainly eager to get back down to the real world and restart a normal life. To get back among the trees.

One wonderful benefit of serving in an isolated post was the privilege of selecting my own new billet rather than leaving it up to some military bureaucrat in an office somewhere. Like I said, I chose Moses Lake (yes, there are Coasties here) because it was relatively close to Portland. I had never been to Central Washington, but I trusted that since it was in the Pacific Northwest, I would soon be living among the trees and mountains once again.

Little did I know. As I left Ellensberg on my exodus to my new home, I was first struck by how dry and barren everything was becoming as i headed east, and as I rose out of the Columbia River gorge at George, I suddenly understood the truth of my situation. Rather than forests and mountains, I would spend at least the next two years in a barren wasteland of sand and scrub brush. Lovely. I could have stayed on the tundra for a view like this. I would be living on the surface of the moon.

Now hold on. That was just my first impression. Like I said before, I have grown to love this place and the longer I stay, the more I appreciate its charms. Rather than living on the surface of the moon, I now feel as though I have discovered my very own Sea of Tranquility here. So I guess I am writing this blog in honor of my adopted hometown.

Why? For several reasons, not least of which is this blog that I have just finished reading. Here is a short quote in case you are in a hurry.

"Last night I sat with family and talked about blogging and kids and family matters, as the fireworks exploded overhead and the children ran around the yard. And somehow, it felt like I had come back to the center of my life, where I am related by blood to those around me, with common experiences and memories and hopes. There's nothing quite like that anywhere else in my life. I have to go to Moses Lake to find it as richly as this."

I read that and thought, "How true. That says it all."

I am fortunate that Moses Lake has become my home. This place has become a haven for so many people in my life, and evidently for many people that I will never even meet. My brother, a Portland high speed professional. My mom, a quality inspector at a high tech firm in southern Oregon. So many come here and tell me how they are rejuvenated, how their batteries are recharged, etc. It's as if the high desert air and the sun itself broil the tension out of life and blow it west to Seattle.

Moses Lake. It's easy luxury. You can come here and just STOP. Breath. Let the sun heat your tired bones. It's old fashioned and modern all at the same time and in all the right ways. When you open your eyes, the stark beauty of this area can overwhelm you. Jump in the lake for a swim. Climb some rocks. Go hunting or fishing. Catch some live music in the cooling twilight or try some local cuisine on the lake. Make new friends. Yep, even the people here are friendly.

My God. Who needs the city?

My God! It's A Blog!. Hurry While it Still Has A Pulse!

I'm back. So sorry for the delay/abandonment of my blog. But really, was I missed?

Lets be honest. I write my thoughts down, mostly for myself, which is fortunate, since I am the only one who frequents this place... ;)

But hey, enough about me. So much has happened since I last took pen to paper, digitally speaking. The world is moving fast and even I've evolved. All that stuff before, consider it the old testaments of Jason.

This new testament stuff may be relevant to my older ideas and blogs to a greater or lesser degree, and many of my ideas are unchanged, but just you wait. I've got a whole new flavor for you, hopefully with less rant. We'll see. You never know what might come out of my mind....

One thing is for sure, however. I'm not sure about anything anymore. My convictions are a little more fluid these days. But I find uncertainty a little more fun anyway.

Keep up. It's dangerous out there.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

An Interesting Tidbit From The Pop Culture Archives

I recently saw this on Boing Boing and felt like it was just interesting and odd enough to pass on to the masses. What your looking at is candy. For kids. The candy itself consists of multi-colored pellets, reminiscent of "uppers" and "downers", and the delivery method is a plastic syringe. Hey kids, make sure you pick up a few packs of candy cigarettes while your at it. You know, just to keep your shit together and your mind right.

The enlightened generation that thought that this product might be a good idea for kids, and the happy hippy psychedelic sub-culture pioneers that spawned such a clever drug themed delicacy, as well as free love, "natural' odors, and granola, are now running our schools, our industry & our country.

Peace, Love & Joy comrades. Now go take a shower.

Hippy Sippy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Grab Your Ankles; Click it or Ticket, Part 2

(fade in) ".... anyway, since that day, I've been wearing my seat belt religiously. No one seems to care, but at least I'm saving lives. Right? I'll be taking this one to court. Perhaps the judge will be even more understanding than Dick, if that's even possible. I'd be more than happy to provide stool samples if necessary. You know. Whatever it takes to keep the streets safe. I mean, this couldn't be just about money. Could it?"

I've been to court on this now. I plead my case. It was a bittersweet experience. It was a learning experience. It was a watershed moment in my continuing education on the nuances of state sanctioned hustling. It began like any other day in court....

My docket was called and I quietly moved to the front of the courtroom. I had decided to approach this with high expectations and a positive outlook. I was sure that, after hearing my version of events, any right minded judge would happily dismiss my ticket. I mean, after all, we've all had a Maalox moment from time to time.

And guess what. I'm happy to report that I was right. The Honorable Whateverhisnamewas agreed that my situation was indeed an exception to the rule, and furthermore, he would happily defer my fine for 12 months time. If, within 12 months time, I did not return to his court for a similar traffic infraction, my citation would be expunged. Yay for me.

But wait. There's more.

Just as the final syllable dropped from the Honorable Whateverhisnamewas's lips, two things happened simultaneously. One; I shifted my weight imperceptibly towards the exit of the courtroom, and Two; I detected a subtle hint of regret in the judges tone as he voiced my reprieve. Translation; I'm outa' here but the Judge is clearly disappointed. The quarry has escaped. What to do?

"Mr. Backus," I heard through the angelic song of victory playing in my head, "before you leave, let's just have a quick look at your traffic record." Clicky sounds as Whateverhisnamewas brings up my record on his computer screen. "It seems you were here 2 years ago for following too close. Whatever happened there?" he asks. I'm stuck now. The weight is no longer shifting.

"I can't remember at the moment," I responded. Alarm. Danger. Trap. Here comes the shell game...

"Well," he continues, "It seems that we deferred that citation for 12 months as well." "Ok?" I respond. A couple of questions that dare not speak their name begin to bubble to the surface of my mind. For instance, A: Who gives a shit, and B: If that was deferred 24 months ago, it should have been expunged 12 months ago, and that being the case, it shouldn't even exist as a record and anyway, C: What does that have to do with this?

Well let me tell you what. But first a little background information ...

It turns out that when you receive a summons to traffic court, at least in Grant County, you are given the option of Contesting the Citation, Admitting Guilt and sending in the MONEY without further ado, or requesting a Mitigation Hearing.

My experiences and observations have led me to the following conclusions:

If you Contest, your screwed. You will stand before a rabid bulldog Judge and you are automatically guilty unless you can prove without a shadow of a doubt that you are innocent. Your fine will NOT be reduced, and you will leave the courtroom feeling like a post-spanking 6 year old. But with half his ass chewed off for good measure. Don't fuck with the system. Pay up. I have a story about this, but it will wait for another time...

If you admit guilt, and send in your money, no problems. The system has separated you from some of your MONEY and all is well in the universe. No embarrassment, no bulldogs. Nope, you have played by their rules and have not questioned anyone's authority or agenda. Excellent work Comrade! Work Shall Set You Free.

Finally, If you request a mitigation hearing, it turns out that you ARE GUILTY. No if's and's or but's. But you do get to beg for leniency before the court. You may even convince the Judge that your circumstances were exceptional and you may be awarded a deferment, but guess what. Your still GUILTY. That's right.

So with that being said, here is the rest of the story...

..."Well," he continues, "It seems that we deferred that citation for 12 months as well." "Ok?" I respond.

The Judge, peering down on me from his judgment seat above, delivers the coup de grace, "That being the case, I'm still going to defer the current citation, but I'm going to charge you..."(ALERT! MONEY MUST EXCHANGE HANDS!)"...a $75 administrative fee."

Now, I'm aware that it could have been worse, but follow me on this. I could have had to pay $101 for not wearing my seatbelt. I could have had this citation end up affecting my insurance. Could have, could have. But let's be clear. Whatever could have happened to me, it was the County that found a way to collect some of my money. No matter what they call it; a fine, an administrative fee, a down payment on a new judicial penis pump, whatever, the fact remains that when Whateverhisnamewas determined that I was right and Officer Dick should have let me be on my way, old Whateverhisnamewas still found a way to get some of my cash.

Now that's dedication, and that's what I love about our legal system. It looks out for the little guy. You know, by allowing a visibly ill individual to continue home so that he may void his bowels in the most horrific fashion, by following him home and waiting in his driveway with lights flashing, by letting the "criminals" children and neighbors watch the entire spectacle, by issuing a citation AFTER the degenerate seatbelt non-wearer limps back out of his house, by essentially admitting that the citizen was incorrectly cited, and finally, by taking some of his FUCKING CASH ANYWAY!

You assholes. Best hope you never need a favor from me.