Do You Know Where Your Towel Is?

Today my friend Rosy turns 42, it’s a special Towel Day (25 +5+12 = 42) and Men In Black 3 comes out – I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there were Vogon ships headed our way right now preparing to read poetry to us before we’re demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, it could happen… I’m sure of it.

DON’T PANIC!

… a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.  Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite books, I re-read it probably once a year and laugh out loud several times.

Share and Enjoy

Mostly Harmless

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

This was basically just a meaningless post meant to fill the void of internetness and remind you about Towel Day. I hope you’re a hoopy frood and know where your towel is today!

#towelday #DONTPANIC #42

Journey to the Midwest 2012

When I make trips to visit folk in the Midwest for whatever reason, this reason was my niece Tabatha graduated from high school and asked me to come to her party, I try to see as many people as I can see while I’m in the area. It really seems like the longer I’m alive the more people that want to see me when I’m in the area – I think there might be something wrong with the water up there. This visit I saw folks that I haven’t seen in 20 years – which was nice. I may not have gotten a chance to see you, I may not get a chance to see you next time – but hey, if you want to see me you could visit here. You know I live in the Nation’s Capital right? Tourist Trap of the East Coast – and if you came out here you’d get to see more of me than just a 20 minute visit in the Midwest, and trust me it’d be more exciting. I can’t promise anything, but one group of friends that came out to visit were just inches away from Sean Penn when we went out to eat… didn’t do anything for me, but they were excited. So if you want to see me hey come visit – I’ll pretend to have as much interest in meeting you here as I pretend to there. 🙂

My flight to Minneapolis on Wednesday was fine, the old couple next to me kept interrupting my reading by asking me questions about the iPad and other technology – it’s like I have a sign around my neck “Ask Me About Your Computer Problems”. I do my best to look mean when I travel to avoid just this kind of thing – motorcycle boots, sleeveless shirt showing tattoos, leather wrist band, penis earring… but they still ask me. Maybe I need a big nose ring.

My good friend Tina picked me up at the airport and we headed off to my hotel in downtown Minneapolis, The Marriott City Center, the boss had hooked me up with a good room – top floor of the hotel, it was a two story room wow, had a nice view too. Tina and I had a nice chat before she had to head off to an appointment.

I then headed off to Boneshaker Books, where my friend Tim volunteers, little store but lots of interesting books. Check out their site and make a donation – it’s a non-profit. Tim and I took the light rail, Minneapolis’s commuter train, into the city for dinner – after all the years that Tim’s lived there this was his first time on the train, he would usually ride his bike everywhere. We ate dinner at a place called Hell’s Kitchen which had good food, not too loud and close to my hotel downtown. Tim and I had good conversations about politics, old friends, old times and just nonsense. It was great to see him.

Thursday morning I had breakfast with my friend Randy and then wandered around the skyways exploring here and there, I had some things explode in my suitcase that I needed to replace and it was nice to see how it all worked too. Then I had a lunch date with a guy I’d met in December while I was speaking, it was ok. Thursday night I went to the Central Pacific Group meeting where I frowned when I was called up to share, but would have obsessed for the next hour had they not – yep, I’m sick. Afterwards there was fellowship and then Tina dropped me at my hotel. A nice night.

Friday morning I took the light rail to the airport to rent a car for my foray into Wisconsin, its scary to think I finally don’t get lost getting out of the airport area and into WI. The drive was uneventful, got to Pat and Brenda’s and then went to get a quick bite at Taco John’s before checking into my hotel. That night we had steaks and corn at the Isenbergers and chatted here and there. Nice to see everyone.

Saturday morning Pat and I had breakfast at Perkins, then coffee at Starbucks, before I headed off to do other things before going to …

Tabatha’s Graduation party was held in a park in Fall Creek, by the lake. Lots of folks were there including Tabatha’s dad Jeff, who I haven’t seen in ages. Lots of folks I didn’t know too, but it was nice to be there for Tabatha and have one central place to see the siblings, even though most of the time they aren’t talking to one another they managed to behave. Good food, great weather and memories – it was nice.

Saturday night for dinner the Isenberger’s and I went to Dragganettis for dinner, where my friend Nicholas works, had a nice time and it was my only opportunity to see Nicholas too. Dropped them off and went back to the hotel for TV and bed.

Sunday morning I was up early and drove to Galesville to see Ma and Rhonda. I think I was here before 10 and then we headed over to Cory and Danielle’s to to spend time with them and the boys (Charlie and Patrick). It was really nice when we first got there, and we were all enjoying the day but all the sudden it got pretty cold out and before you know it we were all shivering. Ma, Rhonda and I left and headed to the Whitehall cemetery to lay flowers on Pa’s grave.  I still get a little emotional thinking about him there, and seeing Ma’s name on the stone when she’s standing right next to us. We then went to dinner at what used to be Geno’s Supper Club in Whitehall, can’t recall what it’s called now then I said farewell to them and headed up to Pigeon Falls to see Tony and Laurie, friends I haven’t seen in about 20 years. It’s been a long time.

Monday I drove up to the Twin Cities in the afternoon and got on my plane. Landed in BWI around 9:40 and it took them almost an hour to get us luggage, pretty sad.

I had a great trip, it was nice to see everyone and I look forward to the next time I see folks – probably wont be anywhere cool though, just the Midwest.

Equally Separate

I was getting my haircut today at my regular barber – all the barbers are black (or African-American if you have to) and the conversation moved to President Obama’s stance on gay marriage. Another one of the customers (also black) said it shouldn’t matter what people do in their bedrooms, if they love one another that should be all that matters. One of the barbers said that there was a black preacher from SC on TV and he said it should be up to the states to decide. There was a lot of head nodding at that…

But it can’t be up to the states to decide – that’s simply ridiculous. Loving gay couples will be discriminated against in different states, the Federal government wouldn’t bestow partner benefits to survivors, taxes couldn’t be filed together… these are some, non-religious based, rights that gay couples don’t have. Letting each state decide would be a disaster – its one thing to say in this state you can drive 85 MPH and quite another to say in this state if your partner dies you’ll be left penniless and without a say in what happens to his (or her) legacy.

Our President has stood up and declared he believes gay people should be allowed to get married. That’s pretty amazing for a guy to say in an election year. I’m very proud of him for saying so.

A lot of folks get all up in arms about the word “marriage” and state that marriage has always been about one man and one woman. I say it used to always be that people of different races couldn’t marry and sometimes still frowned upon when couples of two separate religions get married.

This isn’t about religion, this is about equal rights.

Our country supposedly has this thing called “separation of church and state” we aren’t a country that’s run by the church, but it seems like our politicians spend a lot of time worrying about what the church may think and what’s right “according to God”.

Can you imagine our country if we let churches of all religions dictate what our laws should be?

  • No work on Sunday? Some religions no work on Saturday
  • A Tithe: 10% of your income goes to the church
  • Women are less than, like the Catholic Church where they cannot become priests
  • No naming your teddy-bear Mohammed or drawing your god as a cartoon
  • We’d all have to wear silly hats or headpieces
  • Child molesters would no longer go to prison, just be set up in a new town with access to fresh meat
  • Mormons would allow us to have multiple spouses, as long as they weren’t of the same gender as we
  • Some religions ban dancing
  • Some ban drinking
  • Some religions would teach us that Superman is teaching the use of witchcraft

This list could go on for quite a few pages I’m sure, but the point I want to make here is your religion – my religion anyone’s religion should have no say on laws and basic civil rights of others in our country.

I want you to consider what it would be like for you if someone wanted to limit your rights based on their religion or beliefs. I want you to consider what Jesus said about gay marriage:

 

” _____________________________________” Jesus Christ

Keep your religion out of my laws and hope we keep our laws out of your religion.

Traditions 4 & 5 and the Responsibility Statement

The other day before a meeting I was looking up at the Traditions on the wall and anticipating what tradition we’d be on this week (the Wednesday night meeting has a revolving schedule for what we read: 1st Week the Step corresponding to the month out of the 12×12, 2nd week the Tradition corresponding to the month out of the 12×12, third week the Chapter from Alcoholics Anonymous corresponding with the month, and the fourth week the leader gets to choose a story from the back of the book). I was looking at Tradition Four, forgetting momentarily that we had switched over to May just the day before.

 Tradition 4. Each Group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

By itself that means that a group can do whatever it wants as long as it doesn’t affect other groups or the whole of A.A. A Group can have part of its opening statement reflect on a Dead Gay Alcoholic (I’ve been to a meeting like this), or pass a second basket which gets raffled off after the meeting (I’ve been to these meetings too). Neither of those things would affect A.A. as a whole nor other groups – they may lead to morbid curiosity of other dead alcoholics or lead you to Gamblers Anonymous, but otherwise they are relatively harmless. Technically, if a meeting wanted to I suppose they could choose to study the Bible, be clothing optional, have topics that are primarily related to the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer… but I don’t know what good that would do.  As the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions states on page 149 “Thus it was that under Tradition Four an A.A. group had exercised its right to be wrong.”

As I was reflecting on the 4th Tradition I finally remembered that it was May and looked down to see Tradition Five.

Tradition 5. Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

I read that and it struck me as odd that the Tradition doesn’t state “carry the A.A. message” but “its message”, the groups message.

So your A.A. group could have a “message” of recovery based on the experience, strength and hope of our first 100 members as laid out in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, but it doesn’t have to. Your A.A. groups “message” could be that group therapy, whining about what ails you (bad day meetings), or even what you’ve learned in a marathon – it’s up to the group.

Your group can choose to have nothing to do with the Traditions, Service Structure or contributing to the G.S.O. – even though the right to not have anything to do with those things is what Tradition Four is. We have no rules in A.A., just suggestions – like “don’t put your hand on the hot stove” kind of suggestions.

Traditions 4 and 5 also mean I should quit shaking my head at meetings I disagree with, means I should forget about hoping to educate any wayward meetings on the benefits of doing the Steps as written in the first 164 pages of our text book and I should definitely give up promoting the Traditions, obviously!  It’s each meetings right to do as they see fit, according to their collective group conscience – even when they don’t have one. 🙂

However, then I think about the Responsibility Statement. (click this to learn about the Responsibility Statement history)

I am Responsible. 

When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help,

I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. 

And for that:  I am responsible.

“…We must remember that AA will continue strong only so long as each of us freely and happily gives it away to another person, only as each of us takes our fair share of responsibility for sponsorship of those who still suffer, for the growth and integrity of our Group, for our Intergroup activities, and for AA as a whole. It is in taking responsibility that real freedom and the enduring satisfactions of life are found. AA has given us the power to choose – to drink or not to drink – and in doing so has given us the freedom to be responsible for ourselves. As we become responsible for ourselves, we are free to be responsible for our share in AA, and unless we happily accept this responsibility we lose AA. Strange, isn’t it?” from the souvenir book for the 1965 Convention, Dr. Jack Norris

I have to do what I have to do to preserve Alcoholics Anonymous for future generations. I want other people to be given a solution to our common problem, as I was. A solution that’s proven time and time again to work. That means I have options.

I can choose to stay in a group and try to change them, sharing my experience strength and hope of the 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, 12 Concepts, the Service Structure and more. This might be a long journey with no end in sight, but if you choose to embark on it it might lead to others picking up the simple kit of spiritual tools you lay at their feet – it may not. I’m not this patient and my experience tells me that when there are groups that have a message pretty far away from the A.A. message with many long time members, it’s a little late to change them on your own.

Or I can find a group that is more similar in nature to my own “message”, perhaps you’ve seen it?

Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

I always try to stress “this message” when I read How It Works or the Steps at a meeting… It’s an important point. These principles, the 12 Steps, can be done working with someone who’s done them themselves out of our text books Alcoholics Anonymous

“Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.” page 29

or if you have to you can do them yourself, try to find a sponsor who knows something of the book besides the beginning of Chapter 5 and Page 417/449.

I should at this point try to remember Middleton Group #1. Rule #62.

“Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.”

So I wont, but I will certainly cut some other groups some slack and let them do things their way, but I don’t have to participate in that as long as I find a group who’s message is more similar to my own.

Take a moment at your next meeting, reflect on what you think your Groups message is and if that message is what you think is going to help the next drunk. Are you spreading the message, are you involved in your group, do you know that your voice in your A.A. meeting is the most important voice in the structure of A.A.? Ask about our history, ask about the Service Structure, put an extra dollar in the basket – it’s your group and you should be responsible for it.

Well Sh*t

Is a strategically placed asterisk all we need to mask a curse word anymore? Just throw a star into the middle of a word, usually replacing the vowel and then no one, except the really clever, will know what word it is that your using.

Seriously? Like “sh*t” and “f*ck* aren’t really obvious to anyone what they say and mean, do we really have do this? I’m not trying to be a c*nt about it, I just think this is ridiculous.

Can’t we all grow up and quit getting b*tt hurt whenever something is out there that might offend us?

“There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is! 399,993 to 7. They must really be baaaad. They must be OUTRAGEOUS to be separated from a group that large. “All of you words over here, you seven….baaaad words.” That’s what they told us, right? …You know the seven, don’t ya? That you can’t say on TV? Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.” – George Carlin more than a while ago, some of these words I think we can say on TV now.

Are we really so hung up on some words that we ban then from regular use? Yep. When that happens I think they get even more powerful, more desirable and all the cool kids want them even more – like marijuana or maybe m*r*j**n* is better.

I just think we need to get over our m*th*r f*ck*ng selves before we’re all labeled a bunch of dumb d*mn c*nts that can’t keep our heads out of our own *ss.