The Doctor Is Not In

According to a few outspoken voices, it’s been a slow month in Curacao. Can’t say I’m disappointed. The fewer the merry-er, worst-writer always says. And as others say: good things come to an end. After ten days of too much sun and lots of scuba and no crowds, the hammer hits. We had two dives yesterday and then went out to fill up the car, get more soda-water and have lunch. Upon returning to our rental bungalow, for the first time, we hear music bellowing from the pool. And not just any music. OYG! Country music. Do you know what country music reminds me of, dear worst-reader? It doesn’t remind me of rednecks, their trucks, runaway girlfriends and the love of dogs. No. It reminds me of politics run amok and a country on the verge of pure and utter social anarchy. Country music, as much as I love to listen to it while chewing tobacco (which I dearly miss giving up so many years ago), reminds me of everything that is wrong in #americant today. Police killing people becasue they can’t run after them and they represent an authoritarian state that people can’t run away from (fast enough). Banks ripping the country off while no one watches. Seriously. Complain about things as you will. That’s easy. Don’t try to read as much as I have about how you screwed yourself consuming to survive off of credit and the banks are still laughing. Then there’s the empire’s military that fights wars costing millions of lives so that a few corporations can make more money than God. Etc., etc. But I digress.

There’s a saying I learned from my paw when I was young who always listened to country music while sitting in front of his open garage door that never housed a car but where he could dream of having a decent paying job and a half decent life while working to his death and disappointing his wife, his kids and the other man that occupied his dreams. Yeah. Country music was playing in the southern caribbean sea. It was playing as though, through the miracle of self aggrandizing entitlement, it was the new voice of an already downtrodden region of the world, middle and south America, where tyranny in the name of THIS IS OUR HEMISPHERE politics wielded a heavy hammer upon the minds and bodies of those whose skin isn’t quite white enough. And worstwriter, who so inelegantly ran away from the tyranny-aftermath of hemisphere politics, takes a wild guess on a vacation destination only to find some dumb-ass pseudo southern draw spewing forth coded hate and bigotry from a battery operated radio a’la nineteen seventy-something. Oh. Wait. The saying. The saying my paw taught me. I forgot the saying. Slipped right off my tongue. Yeah, that happens when I start worst-writing. Indeed. And so.

Meeting a lot of Americans in Curacao. Conversation usually starts thus: “So where you from?” My response is always: “Originally?” But eventually it comes out. They hear me speak, fluently (I guess) another language. “But you’re not German,” they say. Then some stupid ass conversation which I always hope is only about the weather–but never is–ensues. “No, that’s right,” I say. And then I just throw it out there. “I’m an expat, Mam or Sir. Been living happily-ever-after in another country for quite some time. Going on quarter century, in fact.” There’s usually a few duhs and ohs that follow. Again. Redneck code for “you mean, you’ve found happiness and tranquility outside the bosom of the greatest and most exceptional country in the world?” Seriously, dear worst-reader. This is how it goes. And only because I don’t really know how to hold a nothingness conversation with people. My bad, eh! Nomatter.

The problem is, the fuck-offs! can’t exit my brain fast enough in this situation. Yet this is what lingers with me after being reared in America, by Americans–the nicest fucking people in the world. Or? But I don’t want to get too deep into my obsessions about expatriating or my frustrations with having learned so much about who I am and where I come from by being so far outside its bubble. This whole worst-blog is full of enough of that (good luck finding it). It’s just that the conversations with my (former) countrymen (that’s right, I’ve long gone “native”) only leads me to anger and frustration. For one thing, at least three of the Americans I’ve met here have talked to me about health insurance after I mention I live in Germany. This can only mean two things. 1) They are somewhat informed, albeit via what sources?, and 2) they question the issue of health insurance because they fail to understand the reality to which they are glued. On the other hand, I try steer the conversation elsewhere. E.g. Can’t we talk about scuba, how beautiful the coral reefs are, the friendly people that live and struggle on this island without the “benefits” of being the greatest nation on earth (sarcasm off)? Nope. Americans are starving for answers or justifications for all the problems that no one seems to understand, let alone to have actually thought about them. And so. It usually starts thus: “Now how does that work over there (in Germany) with health insurance?” Or it goes thus: “Is it true that you have health insurance no matter what?” And this one’s the best: “That damn Obama Care is ruining my health insurance.” And remember, dear worst-reader, the last one, the one about Obama care, can be sung just like a country song. Yeehaw Heehaw!

The biggest problem with talking about rational things with irrational people (and pretty much all Americans–including moi–are irrational these days) is that the conversation must be a two lane road. But like many of the roads on Curacao, America is wide enough for two cars to drive it, but the lines separating direction does not exist. Eventually on such a road everybody goes one way. It’s called The Lemming Highway. And you know the old saying that is the life blood of subjecting oneself to authoritarian, centralized, Lemming rule: it’s my way or the highway, baby. But I’ve rambled, aka worst-written enough about irrational people. So let me get to the gist of this worst-post.

When talking about health insurance in the United Mistakes of Americant you must first talk about society. To talk about society you must face certain realities. For one thing, America will probably (and I’m being very liberal here) never have a socialized health care system like other western countries. The reason for that depends on how you view things. Do you view things in terms of “every man for himself” or do you view things “we’re in this together”? Gettin’ rich can be an individual thing. But gettin’ sick obviously ain’t. Yet we (dare I include worst-moi) live THE DREAM according to the former and not the latter. Which brings me to the subject matter that everyone hates, fears and just can’t get a grip on: Politics. When the country-music couple almost ruined our pool-side afternoon vacation nap yesterday I realized that the best way to get THEM to turn off the scary music is to get them to complain about… That’s right. You guessed it. Their hate of government, Obama and how expensive health insurance is. And once their bitchin’ and moaning is over, I  throw in this one:

“Well, you know. I’ve never even seen a doctor bill.” There’s a long pause as I continue to swim around the pool, listening to the birds sing in the human silence of astonishment. “No, seriously,” I continue. “I don’t know how it happens, man. You know, in most western, civilized, rational countries you’re just health insured. And you know how they do that? They simply say that when you’re sick–and everyone gets sick–we’re in this together. How difficult is that? Sure, lots of people get rich off of getting sick but that’s besides the fucking point. That’s another issue. Seriously. I’ve had one minor surgical procedure, I get regular checkups, dental work, etc., and I’ve never even seen a doctor bill. In fact the only doctor bill I’ve ever seen is from when I got gold caps on my teeth. All I had to pay for was the gold. And all you (#americants) can do is bitch about how expensive your deductible is? US corpo-politicians have been pounding your ass while you’ve been riding the laurels of the past and you confused it with tickling. So stop giggling your way through life high on country music. You’ve bitten the hook, line and sinker of the way things are so there’s no room for complaining anymore–unless you turn it into a media industry like faux newz. Is there a way to fix things, i.e. get affordable insurance? No. For you it’s game over. You’re fucked! At least you can look back and see how easy and enjoyable it was getting to where you are. You’re reaping what you’ve sown. But if you put some effort into it you might be able to scrounge up some civiility and decency for your kids and grand kids. Good luck suckers.”

Full stop. Breath.

I took a deep breath and went under the water of the pool. Two minutes later I emerged and the privileged rednecks and the country music were gone. Did I dream the whole thing? Probably. But at least it gave me something to worst-write about this morning.

Rant on. -Tommi

Three Highlights And A Note

kindle notes may 2015

There was a time when I was angry with Amazon/Kindle for disallowing the random copying/pasting of highlights from its ebooks. I also don’t use the connection to Twitter or FB which is/was the alternative Amazon offered its customers when/as they/we expressed what they/we were willing to pay for. At the time, I think I had a second or third generation Kindle device and it felt like it could be a great tool to add to the toolbox of my information , i.e. get-informed domain. But I think differently now–thanks to the greed mongering of Bezos & Co. The really knarly (sp?) thing about this/our digital world is watching them try to stop us from coming up with new ways to get around their unwarranted authority. Below a screen shot from the notes and highlights I was reading this morning as my dream was interupted by storm and power outage at ca. 4:30am. From the book Capitalist Realism, by Mark Fisher. Here my worst-write-up on it. Rant on, baby.

Update: Oh no! It looks like they win again. Using iPad 4 and WordPress App, I’m unable to upload the original-size image for worst-reader viewing displeasure. Will update later.

Update 2: fixed it.

Hi Jack

Dreamt on May 26, 2015. After spending most of that morning jotting down the tidbits, below is what I could put together in the last few days on this glorious vacation. The thing to keep in mind, dear worst-reader, is that I’m over my jet-lag at the time of this writing between May 28-30. Jet-lag works best for me while I’m writing. It’s not so much the lack of sleep but instead the time of day in whatever timezone I’m awake that seems to enhance it. Traveling east > west is always good for writing, too. I’m a morning person anyway and sleeping early and getting up early is best. So with out further ado, here’s…

The Hi Jack 

Back in the old office in the city. Like old times. I still can just walk in and no one notices. Wear the right clothes and face and never expect them to actually change the code-keys on the doors and you’re good. Things haven’t changed. Ten years later, not a soul working there that I know. I just walk in, navigate the labyrinth of stairs, avoiding the elevator, find an office and start “my research”. Research is part of getting informed. The news, bulletins, empirical papers from universities and institutes, Library of Congress, past client documents, blogs. This is a place I used to work and those things I just listed are a few of my sources–for getting informed. I go to my old office two or three times a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. I started doing it right after I left the firm. Even though I left with improved financials to another company, the work being very different, the calling of being an Information Specialist has stuck with me ever since. Today I’m not sure if I gave up my calling, if it gave up on me, or if there is something to the idear of freedom from compulsion. Nomatter

A few times a month I still go to my old office. Yes. I sneak in. I do it for myself and for sanity–not just the sanity of me but of the general public. Which means my work turned into me–or did I turn into it? Again. Nomatter. What’s important is that I’m in once again and it’s easy to sneak in on account of the turnover the firm produces. You know, the up or out corpo-work environment. If you move up within two years then you also move beyond the minions, i.e. the folk like me. The great thing about those who move, though, is that their achievements are not based on their being in anyway better than someone else. They call this crony capitalism, btw. Folk like me, though, are never interested in moving up because, I guess, in a way, we believe in what we do. Unfortunately THEY’LL never be able to get rid of all the people like me because it would then mean THEY’D have to wipe their own ass. And so. That worst-said, it’s more than just work, i.e. compulsion that I do. Information and being informed is a way of life. And I’m still not sure if that’s good. Not sure if all good things, too, must come to an end. For this “work”, this compulsion that I’ve become accustomed to, is different. Very different. But I’m drifting off subject. Again. 

Today, for the first time, I get to meet some really honest-to-God Hi Jackers. What? Dear worst-reader, you’ve never heard of the Hi Jackers? No kiddin’? Well, then lets get on with it. 

After a day of “work”, scanning networks and databases, old archives of physical material, I get ready to leave when the most crazy thing happens. I’ve just finished climbing down four flights of stairs. I enter the lobby of the office building and suddenly find myself surrounded by a gang of infamous Hi Jackers. At first I thought they might have been that new group that has been tormenting Corporates and Automatons called The Bombers. But I was wrong. These guys were definitely The Hi Jackers. Right in front of me. There they were in the office lobby with guns and bullet proof vests and hand-grenades and buttons on their jackets that read “DIGITAL FREEDOM NOW”, “Stop Government Overreach”, “Aaron Lives In RSS”, etc. Wow. I never thought I’d get to see these guys in action. You know. Interrupting the corpo-world, throwing smoke-grenades into offices, making secretaries cry and whine. That was only a small part of what The Hi Jackers are all about. Obviously their politics was something I didn’t quite agree with but then again, after making my share of credits/cash that would help support a lonely future in comfort, I didn’t care anymore about anything anyway. I found my way out. Right?

The Hi Jackers caused a bit of a ruckus in the lobby with their threatening antics so I just mixed among the rest of the Automatons trying to get away–except I’m not screaming and whining like a bitch. In a way I can empathize with the Automaton plight, especially now that they are under such threat in their daily routine. Obviously the fighters for digital freedom have had a heavy impact on the corpo-world. But as usual, as with labor and with work-benefits, when it interferes with the one-percent making enough to buy the next biggest yacht (of which there is always a newer one) then they resort to all they know. They simply leave the corpo-automatons to themselves. They go elsewhere on the planet with the work and in the mean-time have to pay less in labor costs. Now that’s the ticket, ain’t it? They’ve really figured it all out. And in #americant they’ve turned the whole political system into nothing more than a shill ride for the one-percent to get away with whatever it wants in the name of profits. But profits aren’t everything to the one-percent. Indeed. There is one more thing that is almost as important to the one-percent. And that is: power. Especially power over automatons. The most important creed for the one-percent is to make sure that automatons get no power whatsoever that they can wield over their rulers. And it has worked perfectly. 

Enter the gangs, the anarchists, The Hi Jackers. There they are doing their thing. Scaring the beejeesus out of every poor automaton schmuck that has learned to never have an original thought. Just get up and go to work and if you’re lucky, if the one-percent allow you to do it, you get to have a kid or three. AS LONG AS YOU DO WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO. And so. During the ruckus the automatons in my old firm were worried about one thing and one thing only. Getting home without being blown-up by anarchists. I’ve even heard that not getting blown up is actually part of a standard resume these days. Luckily most of the automatons would make it home today. Good for them. Not good for me. 

One of The Hi Jackers noticed me behind a counter and he yells my code name: WORSTWRITER! I stand at a attention and they take me prisoner, letting everybody else go home. One of the other gang members takes my arm and talks into a microphone somewhere on his person and radios in that they got me. “They got me?” I thought. The police try to raid the office building but the hijackers just change their clothes to look like office schmucks and we get away into the streets. Now I am one of them. Or are they one of me? There’s a small confrontation with police and a few trucks that the gang uses as decoy and camouflage. But. Again. We get away. 

The Hi Jackers take me to their layer which is the home of one of their mothers–who I recognize because she worked at the office when I did! In celebration of another successful demonstration–that’s what they call it, not hijacking–I get to eat very dry cake served from an old colleague. Fancy way to take someone prisoner, eh. The cake is made of rainbow colored layers, covered with white icing and red syrup. When I’m served a piece of the cake it looks like a broken painting of a rainbow that is bleeding. 

“Tommi,” my former colleague says to me. “Do you remember me?” 

“Vaguely,” I respond.

“We’ve been watching you. Why do you insist on returning to the office? You go there at least three or four times a week. Why?”

“It’s habit, I guess,” I say. “I can’t help it. I’m an information junky.”

“Oh I know exactly what you’re talking about. But it’s over now. And as I’m sure you can guess, I’ve turned to the darker side of doing things–as some of us have had to in these patriot-act dark times. But. As you can see, I no longer gather the information for those willing to pay the highest price but instead I hijack it and give it to those who don’t know they need it yet. By the way, have you heard of Aaron Schwartz?”

“Aaron who?”

“Well, then, it looks like you’ve not been utilizing your information gathering skills to their fullest potential. What in the world are you always looking for up in that old office?”

Her name was Astrid. She had been working in the office for a few years when I joined the firm back in the late 80s. Although I was assigned at the time to someone else for initialization, there was no avoiding her expertise in the field of information gathering services–or her legs. Her speciality at the time? Telephone interviews. While most other information gatherers, yours truly, searched literature, journalism, coupon sections and the comics of all major US newspapers, others were better at acquiring information more directly. Did a partner need specific pricing information of a product in order to do a cost analysis for a competitor, Astrid would either call the manufacturer of that product or, if applicable, the retailer selling it. She would craft a storyline to coincide with her call. Some, of course, would call such a storyline a lie but when you were being billed-out to a partner in the firm for two hundred dollars an hour industry ethics are at best… permeable. 

There was a short pause between her questions and the preparation of her laptop. Astrid called up a website on her Dell XPS. One of her henchmen, her son I assumed, was apprehensive about showing me information that would connect me to them but he obviously trusted his mother’s judgement. 

“And besides,” she said to her son as the other two henchmen finished their bleeding rainbow cake, “Tommi here is an idealist.” 

She looks at me and continues. “Were you always an idealist, Tommi, or was there something catastrophic that lead to it?”

“Why would it have to be catastrophic,” I asked. 

Astrid turned to her boys. “You see, it’s a subtle form of naiveté. An effective trick indeed. I told you. He’s good. Really good. But is he good enough? Works on most but not on others. Come on now, Tom, why are you in the office?”

Other than the eating of cake the room fell silent as Astrid’s URL began to display the hypertext on her screen and I wasn’t sure if her question held any priority or if it was just some form of rhetoric. 

Her website came up. I was surprised how slow it loaded. Then I noticed the proxy systems on her desktop. She was encrypting each hypertext request and re-routing them through numerous anonymous servers. I was familiar with such search tactics because I too used to employ them. But I gave up on it all when I realized that I had nothing to hide.

Astrid’s website was a bland and plain. Grey background with a simple header centered at the top. It read Hi Jack in H1 letters. There were two columns left and right. Left was for site navigation and right was for links to other sources. I immediately took notice of the right column. There were links to websites that I regularly visited, e.g. news sites, rebel sites, sites of anarchy. 

“Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re connected to those sites? They’re all indexed, you know that, right? They could locate you right now if they wanted to.”

“Of course they’re indexed. And that’s one of the best forms of advertising there is,” she said while navigating to a page of The Hi Jack website. “They’ll never find us. Never.”

“I’ve never seen your site before,” I said.

“And you never will. Unless we allow it.”

Suddenly a list appeared on The Hi Jack website. Astrid tilted and turned her Dell XPS so that I could see its screen clearly. Slowly I read through a list and quickly I realized what she was showing me. It was a precise copy of all the URLs, time-stamped, including duration and both HTTP down and upload speeds, of all the research I had been doing at the office for the past few visits I had made there. 

“What the hell?” I said. 

“Your encryption is good. The automatons running the system for our old firm won’t notice anything of what you’ve been looking at. But we notice everything. So let me ask you one more time, Tommi. And please, for old times sake, give an answer I can verify. What are you looking for when you sneak into our old company and use their systems to research this stuff?”

At any moment I knew I could break from this digital dream. But my curiosity was awakened. And I suppose I was also somewhat amused. It was great seeing Astrid again. I remember having lunch with her so many years ago, flirting with her–which never went anywhere. I wondered if her son was the product of the man that had stolen her heart. The man so many of us were obviously competing against. She was like Ms. Stainless Steel in that office. No fraternizing whatsoever. And now she’s working with some digital freedom gang? And her son is a henchman? Yeah, right. Weird. Way weird. …. Uh oh ….

–Full Stop–

Possible continue. Woke up jet-lagged at 4:30am. Went outside to breath Curacao air. I could taste the salt from the south caribbean sea only a few meters away. I sat down to think of the dream that woke me. But I was more curious about the scuba dive that morning and the cute little fishies I would see. 

Rant on. -Tommi 

PS this post/text initially worst-written on an iPad 4 using both touch screen and a Bluetooth keyboard and some seriously shitty wifi. (Good luck with that, right?)

Klein Curacao And The Sirens

Klein Curacao. A small uninhabitable island south of Curacao. I’ve heard several stories about this island. At one point the Germans tried to occupy it but found it too uninhabitable and abandoned it. It was also supposed to be a quarantine island for the slaves that got sick during transport to the new world. And then there’s the story that the eastern side of the island is actually haunted by Sirens that died trying to free themselves from the curse that made them Sirens. Let’s go with that story, shall we, dear worst-reader? €As we all know, Sirens, sometimes called Mermaids, are human females that have shape shifted in order to save themselves from 1) having been born female, and 2) having to face the dread of being subjects of men. Not only did they change their form, which allows them to live in the ocean, but for a short period of time in human history they flourished together with some accepting, tolerant humans. But the bond was broken between Sirens and humans as so many other bonds are broken. Distrust lead to segregation. Segregation lead to banishment. Through years of being banished from human contact, Sirens also had to face the unmentioned reality behind shape shifting: Shape shifters pay a heavy price for the shift. The image of who and what you are born as always has to remain a constant in the new shape shift. This is done either physically or subconsciously. You can leave a part of your body, like a thumb, or you can maintain a memory–like the image of your mother in your mind. The key is to be able to maintain it–whether it’s a thought or a thumb. The new shape must know what the original shape was and therein lies the art of the game. This has to be done in order to maintain the process that is the shape shift. If, for whatever reason, you severe all connection with your original image, then the shape shifting process never stops. It literally becomes mono-directional and you eventually lose control of it. Once the bitterness that lead to their severing ties with humanity had overcome them like a plague, they continued to shape shift. Each Siren/Mermaid became an animal in the oceans of this earth that reflected their best and worst dreams, whichever of the two was most prominent when the moment of no return set in. This, btw, is the difference between Mermaid and Siren. The Mermaids are the ones whose last thoughts were good as the point of no return reached its pinnacle. Hence Mermaids are often credited with saving humans from danger in the oceans. The Sirens, on the other hand, had last thoughts of bitterness, anger and even hatred. Hence, Odyssey’s meeting with Sirens that took so many of his men to their watery death. But let me get back to Klein Curacao. §Like its bigger brother, only one side of Klein Curacao is occupiable. The other side is being constantly thrashed by the rough, southern caribbean sea. As of my visit to Klein Curacao there are at least two visible shipwrecks on its eastern side. There is also a plethoria of ocean trash and filth, mostly plastics and wood, some tangled sails and rope, but also a few engine blocks, tires, coolers, a refrigerator, two washing machines, several office desks, office chairs, broken fishing poles, and numerous souls of shoes. Let me accentuate two parts of the list of trash just mentioned. Broken fishing poles and the souls of shoes. Wait. Did I worst-write “souls” or soles? Indeed, dear worst-reader. I should have written soles, eh? Nomatter. The idear is, there is something about walking around with your sole the only thing seperating your feet from the earth. Which I find to be quite titallating as I walk around the eastern beach of Klein Curacao dreaming of the beauty of my first love: the ocean blue and wondering how angry a former human must be to be able to break fishing poles as if they were toothpicks. Anywho. I saw hundreds of shoe soles and not one shoe upper. I saw at least two broken fishing poles. Coincidence? Conspiracy? But I digress. §Klein Curacao’s estern shore is the last place Sirens tried to fight back against the fate that had been sealed for them once they lost touch with their original form. Legend has it that the ocean animals they eventually shape shifted in to were a hybrid form of mammal and fish of über human proportions and strength. That is, the animal could both breath air and water and it had a horizontal fin along with pectoral fins that could actually be used to propel it on land. A few thousand of these Sirens, from all across the earth’s waters had gathered on the eastern shore of this remote island. As a last ditch effort to regain the constant, they started bombarding Klein Curacao with a wrath only ever seen when nature calls in the form of earth quakes, typhoons and hurricanes. Even though their effort was mute and the last Siren has long since vanished, the rough seas of the eastern shore of Klein Curacao still remain. And if you stand there, facing south-east, and open your mind while the luscious ocean sprays you with her mist, you can still see those tails and fins and the last effort of a waning humanity in desperation.

Rant on. -Tommi

A Winnebago In Curacao

Maybe it’s the ocean. Maybe it’s the ocean air. Or maybe it’s the ether worst-writer has found himself in. Indeed, dear worst-reader. There is something about Curacao. I almost feel as though I’m home. Not “home” in the sense that I would want to make this my home. Nor does the thought even cross my mind to move to Curacao. No. That phase of life is over for me. I’ve done all my moving. And. I’m a city-worst-writer thru and thru. In fact, I’m so city-oriented that I’m hoping for the day when NRW, Germany, will simply get rid of all the Düsseldorfs, Bonns, Wuppertals and Essens–all the villages, don’t you know–and just make it all one big Cologne, Germania. Wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe not. §But here’s the thing (in this worst-post): I’ve been dreaming wildly since arriving in this caribbean place. And I suppose that’s a good thing. I usually associate dreaming with things going well in my body and mind. Or at least things aren’t as disturbed as when I don’t dream. But the problem last night is the content of my dream having nothing to do with this vacation. Or does it? For example. Last night’s dream went something like this. §We stopped at a “Su Wung” grocery store in Barber, Curacao. This is a huge, warehouse-like building painted in light green and all windows  have heavy iron bars guarding them. The front entrance also has bars guarding entry but a doorway of the bars is open while a guard checks those coming and going. The place is perfectly clean on the outside, as least as it’s to be seen from the road leading to it, but the parking lot is full of locals partying, texting and teaching children how to read. Needless to say my entrance to the store was a bit of a show. There is certainly no need for a Winnebago on this island. Many of the locals were shaking their heads as I pulled in. I was driving a twenty-foot Winnebago that was painted black with ugly gold trim. The vehicle was loaded with all the coolest travel gadgets one could want. The cockpit had buttons everywhere around the driver so s/he could control it. There was a button for extending the cab. When activated the cab would slide out and turn an already large living/dinning room into a mansion-like facility on wheels. Keep in mind, this cabin couldn’t be extended if the camper was parked next to another car. In fact, there is a warning sign next to the cockpit button that read: if car is parked next to the right side of this vehicle do not extend mansion-like accessory cabin otherwise you will own someone’s vehicle; you have been warned; travel safely. Another button raised flat screen TVs from their hiding places under window panes or above beds. The button I liked the most while driving around Curacao was the one that controlled the sun visor that could be lowered and raised, shielding one from the tremendous glows of paradise sunshine that pierced the huge glass front windshield of the vehicle. Obviously on this day I had used it quite a bit. According to complaints from unknown passengers, we had driven around the island at lest four times. I also recall in the dream, though, as we pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store, it was already dark, which explains my initial disappointment that I couldn’t play with the sun visor anymore. Nomatter. §The Winnebago was full of people that I didn’t know, although some I think I recognized. There were people from work, from consultancy jobs and from a recent seminar where I gave a speech on defusing Interwebnet directed homemade bombs using only dinner cutlery. There were two people at the back of the vehicle though that I recognized as my wife and my son but they never really came forward or interacted in the dream; I think they were playing cards or something. As I pulled into the parking lot of grocery store, flicking a switch in the cockpit of the vehicle that controlled multi-colored ground lights on the camper, I was directed by a old Creole man with a pearl white beard to drive through a large garage door which lead to a parking lot on the other side of the building. I was told by one of my passengers in the Winnebago that the old man was saying something about only local cars could park in the front parking lot. I asked the person translating how he got in my camper and his answer was: I never left. But then I noticed a major problem. The garage door I was being directed to drive through was actually the front door of the grocery store–the one with the jail-like bars guarding the entrance. I kept trying to ask the man directing me if he really wanted me to drive through the store. And I tried as best I could, even stopping the man in my camper from translating, to understand Papiamentu, the official language of Curacao. I understood nothing except that I had to drive through the front door of the store. I pointed to the closed/locked bars where the guard was standing. The guard was checking all the locals coming out at that moment but none of those going in. I didn’t understand what he was checking, though, because everyone coming out of the store was empty handed, except for their smart phones and a few had empty but colorful pieces of paper in their hands. A large Creole woman in a bright pink dress with a huge dark red heart the size of two fists that hung from a black necklace around her neck was arguing with the Chinese owner of the store at the cash register. In fact, while the Chinese woman was arguing vehemently that the Creole woman leave her store, noting that her tricks were no good here, she stared expectantly at me through the huge front windshield of my Winnebago. With my right hand I waved at the Chinese woman. There was no response, just a flat stare. She continued to argue with the creole woman when the old Creole man, the one with the white beard, slapped the glass of my windshield, telling me, in Papiamentu, to get on with it. I adjusted my seat of the Winnebago and before putting the vehicle in gear I went through a checklist that was standard issue when commencing forward motion. I pointed to the bars of the front entrance of the store but the only thing that moved was the guard. A few locals rushed in through the small doorway of the bars until the size of the Winnebago was up against the entire entrance. I tried to tell someone that the vehicle was too big, it won’t fit. Someone in the crowd that I was driving around Curacao at the back of the Winnebago said: Yeah, sucker, that’s what she said. I inched the vehicle forward, slowly. I could hear the old Creole man yelling in Papiamentu to get on with it. My translator added that he also said there were people waiting to go shopping. Something else was telling me that I had come this far and there was no reason to have any remorse, sentimentality or regret for the things I’ve done. So I hit another button on the cockpit control panel which did something with the acceleration system of the vehicle. I could feel the motor at the back of the vehicle revving up as the front windshield was only centimeters from the bars guarding the entrance of the store. Before touching the bars, within a split second, the Winnebago was inside the store and we were driving down an aisle. I hit the autopilot button and focused on the distance ahead. But my view kept getting interrupted by the variety of shopping available to us if we were to stop. We drove passed the cereal section and I yearned for Trix and Fruitloops. We drove passed the cat food section and I thought of whether or not my sister-in-law was taking care of my pug. We drove passed shelving that went to the top of the warehouse ceiling that was filled with brand new car batteries all of which were made in Tsching Doa, China, and, oddly, were only nine-point-five volts. A woman in the crowd at the back of the Winnebago came toward the cockpit. The onboard computer spoke to her and asked that she return to her seat. She said that she had a request of the driver. The computer let her pass. I told the young woman that I was focused on driving but that she could go ahead and ask her question. Sir, she said. Can I get some frozen yoghurt? Sure, I said, and added
: as soon as we park. I watched her turn around in the rearview mirror and return to her seat. Then I noticed who she was. She was Pauline the dive instructor that I met the day before on our first scuba dive. Pauline was French and she missed the last resort she worked at. She didn’t want to come to Curacao because they didn’t have enough work for her boyfriend to join her. The thing I remember most about Pauline though was that she admitted to liking rapture-of-the-deep and she could find no one that would dive to sixty meters with her. Then we passed a section where live animals were being sold. An ostrich was available as were her eggs. One ostrich egg cost four hundred US dollars, the ostrich only costs two-fifty. If you wanted you could eat the egg right there and the mother ostrich would even crack open for you. Stupid animals, I thought. Then came toothpaste, toothbrushes and WD-40. I tried to stop the Winnebago because you can never have enough WD-40 but the autopilot wouldn’t let me. We were approaching a light at the end of the tunnel. The closer we got, the brighter the light. Great! I thought. I can finally get back to using my favorite button. I knew we were not only getting ready to exit the store but also leave night for day. How long it’s been since I’ve completed such a journey. The end is nigh, dear worst-reader. I flicked the rocket-ship-like button and activated the lowering of the sun visor. It slowly dropped down and while doing so the inside of the vehicle yellowed from its tint. The people in the Winnebago sighed with relief. But then I noticed a problem. I couldn’t see beyond the white light we were approaching. I should at least see the back of the grocery store, the parking lot where we would park. There was only light. §And then I woke to pee and get a drink of water. It was three-thirty in the morning. Rant on. -Tommi

Deco Beer, The Love Of Abyss And The Baby Octopus

Yesterday a few people were fiddling around on the ladder at the edge of pier as we were returning from our second dive. They’re not gonna let us out, I thought. I might have to fight my way through. And I will. Will do it for king and country, for divers the world over, for the pretty girls on the beach who are just waiting to watch an old, out-of-shape fifty-plus year-old get out of the water with full scuba gear. Indeed. I will not be defeated by the forces of pier occupation. At least until I know what the heck they are doing. Or I’ll just ask nicely and presuppose my neighborly questioning with the unfact that a barracuda the size of a go-kart just tried to attack me at forty feet below the surface–but I was saved in the last second before her charge by a grouper the size of a VW Bug that had two sharp buck teeth protruding from huge, fishy lips. 

It was a good dive except for the cramps I started to get in my legs at about thirty-five minutes in. Yesterday’s dive #2 was full of same old same old–except for the cramps. Stuff you have to love if you love diving. Whenever I’m in the water there’s really only three things I think about. And please do not heed this as advice. In fact, steer clear from anything I say regarding pseudo-techniques in scuba diving. 

The first thing I think of is what’s on the opposite side of the coral reef I am swimming. Yesterday I was swimming north against a slight current, the reef on my right. It was just a casual reef dive. We were not gonna exceed twenty meters or fifty minutes. Good enough. The only problem is, to the left is the one thing I adore most about life on this planet And the reason I love scuba. The abyss of the ocean. Look right and you’re in your own personal life-size aquarium where you never have to worry if you gave the goldfish too much food. But on my left was the everything I’m still living for. I adore floating in my special space suit with aqua-lung in the ocean knowing that if I were to let out all the air from my BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and float down I would eventually find the meaning of life. Because down there, way down there, dear worst-reader, is the EVERYTHING this planet has to offer. I just know it. And even if some scientist comes around to prove me wrong. I don’t care. The abyss of this earth’s oceans is the most beautiful stuff I can think of. And I love her. 

The second thing I think about while diving is the play-along–that distracts me from the first thing I think about– which is probably a good thing. Obviously I play-along while diving. As you know, there is no such thing as diving alone. I’m with a group of people or at the minimum my diving partner. The task at hand, though, is going about the business of getting ones money’s worth before all the air runs out–or your cash runs out. And so. Everybody is looking for this special fish or that unique polyp cluster or whatever in the waters feeding the reefs. One of my favorite fish is the scorpion fish. It is a butt-ugly animal with a nero-toxin in its dorsal fin that could kill a man if she gets it in you and it’s not treated. These fish blend-in perfectly with the coral rocks that is their home and unless they’re moving around it’s hard to see them. Hence most humans killed by this fish accidentally step on it while it’s in shallow water. Like a hyper-dermic needle the fish injects poison into whatever threatens it. Yesterday one swam right underneath me between coral polyps. Although I’ve seen them move before, this was the first time I got a good look at it while it was swimming. The only thing not corroded by the animals camouflage were the inner parts of its pectoral fins. The one I saw had the most beautiful black and gold/yellow coloring on its fins and I wonder, like a clown, or a costume, if the outer covering that so brilliantly hides this animal from predators and at the same time makes it so aesthetically unappealing were removed, would I fall over it with love because of its beauty? Of the seventy-five or so dives I’ve done, at least sixty of which were on reefs in Bali, Thailand, The Red Sea and Curacao, I’ve never seen such colored fins on a scorpion fish.

The third thing I think about while diving is my partner. With that in mind, never dive alone. Make sure you’re skills are up-to-date. Check your equipment and double check it with your buddy. Once the dive is over and you’ve done all the equipment washing and other care, get a deco-beer. That’s short for Decompression Beer. I usually enjoy that beer while staring out at the waters that I just swam in wondering how all that wondrous depth is doing with out me. (Btw, that’s also a pretty philosophy for life. Or maybe not. Nomatter.)

Enough good samaritan bullshit. Which brings me to #3. The third thing I think about while scuba-diving is if I’m still able to do it. Am I physically fit to actually do this krapp anymore? It’s not that don’t want to, it’s just that I want less to start working out again or taking better care of my body. Fuck all that bullshit. I worked out enough when I was young. In fact, I’m sure the only thing that’s keeping me from meeting the fate of many fifty-plus-year-olds is the fact that I trained the shit out of my heart before I was thirty. After that, fuck it. It was about good sex, the battle with females and trying not to drink myself into a stupor. So I guess I’m not in the worst shape but I was feeling yesterday that I could improve on some things. Hence the cramps. At about thirty-five minutes into the dive when we were on our return route and heading for a five meter deco-swimm both my legs started to cramp up. What you’re supposed to do when that happens is try to stretch out your legs but I was even having a hard time doing that. The whole ill-motion, physical effort, was horrendously painful. Holy-krapp, I thought. How am I gonna get out of this? And then I turned to my partner, who happens to be my better half, and I realized there really are some benefits to being in a long-term, committed relationship. She immediately understood my anguish and assumed the role of underwater doctor/hot-nurse. She unzipped the top of her wet suit revealing that other abyss I love so much, aka cleavage, and proceeded to give me one of the best massages of my life. After a few hard hand stokes my legs were whole again. In fact, just worst-writing about it makes me want to melt in her arms. Yes! Even melt into her more than that beautiful (other) abyss. 

Last but not least. When we reached the pier and the ladder at the end of it which would be the finale of dive #2, a small group of people, one with a huge underwater camera, were fiddling about. The woman with the camera was occupying the ladder. She knew we were finished and needed to get out of the water. But she hung around, pointing the camera at the ladder. I asked if there was anything I could do. You know, to help. But there was no answers. Then I asked what the woman was taking a picture of. The woman and her partner didn’t answer. They probably don’t understand English, I thought. Then one of the guys working at the dive shop appeared and told the woman to get the fuck off the ladder so other divers could get out. And I still don’t know what language he spoke. (So I threw the fuck in there for worst-posterity’s sake.) The woman and her camera finally moved to the side. Which I thought was odd. I guess the ladder was big enough for her to just stand there and wait that fully loaded divers get out of her way as they ascend the ladder. Then the dive shop guy said there was a baby octopus she was trying to photograph. Hey! That’s pretty cool. That’s one of the animals every reef diver loves to see. And then I thought. Yeah, there’s only one other animal that is as hard as a scorpion fish to see in the wild: octopus. The woman couldn’t see the octopus but she was hell-bent on trying. So I moved up to the ladder, focused as best I could. Bam! There’s the little guy. I could see him clearly. No more than six inches long from its bubble to the tip of its tentacles, it was trying to hide in the crevices of the horizontal steps of the ocean-growth corroded ladder. I could tell the little eight legged girl didn’t want to be photographed. But she was beautiful.

Dive on. Rant on. -Tommi

How To Believe

Answering the question of faith, I usually answer thus: I have not been blessed with a gift of it. Sometimes I also say it thus: I have not been blessed with the gift of faith. With that in mind, let’s move beyond the spinning that takes place in my head while its trying to figure out the magic between definate and indefinate articles. Have I mentioned how much I love the Interwebnets? I love the Interwebnets so much that I would kill for it… Continue reading How To Believe