Friday, October 30, 2009

Burning The Temple - Part 3

A Fictional Recollection In Four Parts

Before Bliss and Bright ever reached Costco Soulmate Camp, Scout was filling out the questionnaire. In a place like Burning man anything could happen, so he thought I would give fate a little push. "How old do you feel?", the questionnaire asked. "Old enough to know better", he responded. "How many secrets do you have?" was the next question. "I don't really know who I am.", was his response.

Sometime on the afternoon of the 3rd day, the questionnaires were fed into a reader and the results were processed. A few minute later, an old dot matrix printer started churning out a long list of names. Next to Miss Bliss was the name Boy Scout.

Bright returned to Steel Forge camp that afternoon and searched for Miss Bliss. "Bliss, Bliss, I got our matches, they were posted at Costco Soulmate. Mine is named Gorgeous George at 4:30 and Extinction, yours is some guy named Boy Scout at 8:00 and DNA. Lets go find them!"

Gorgeous George wasn't hard too find. He was at Muscle Camp and first and foremost was in love with himself. It appeared that he had enough love to share and since Bright wasn't the deepest of souls, they hit it off pretty well. After about 45 minutes and a few mixed drinks, it was evident to Bliss that Bright was in no hurry to move on from her new boy-toy. Bliss excused herself and continued around the radial avenues of Black Rock City in the descending twilight. 8:00 and DNA was only about a half mile away. She could swing by on the way back to camp and still arrive in time for the rave party that evening. She was curious to see what sort of Boy Scout the universe had conjured up for her.

Bliss found the neat and precise dome structure at 8:00 and DNA but there appeared to be no one home when she rapped on what she thought was the door. Looking around the camp she found a box lid and a magic marker and left a message. "Boy Scout - Are you my soulmate? Meet me at the Temple entrance, 7pm Sunday - Miss Bliss"

Boy Scout saw ghostly figures as they materialized out of the storm, walked past him and were once again consumed by the earth. The dust storm had overtaken him from behind and engulfed him without warning as he walked the Playa. As the first timers guide had instructed him, he knelt down, put a handkerchief over his nose and mouth (ala Jesse James robbing a train), put his goggles over his eyes and waited for it to pass. The visibility was down to less than 15 feet as he knelt in the desert. As he waited, his compatriots moved about him in a strange silence, seemingly unaffected by the blowing dust, as though they had lived within it all their lives.

By the time the dust storm had subsided, the sun had started to set and Scout began to make his way back to his dome. It was time to crack open a new box of wine and some tuna fish. His pace had slowed and he was in no hurry. Time sort of stood still here and was dictated more by nature and those around him than by any clock. Arriving back at his dome, he found Bliss' note. "Miss Bliss?", he thought...."How appropriate", he said to himself with a smile.

The next several days were filled with wandering and discovery. The loud thumping techno music that permeated every aspect of Burning Man eventually became a background noise that no longer interrupted Scout's sleep. He found that he could easily exist on a diet of boxed wine, potato chips and macaroni and cheese without any problem. Scout often found himself wandering the far reaches of the playa were various bars and lounges were set up in the middle of nowhere. The drinks were free and the attitudes were beyond care-free. Here in this surreal place, where no one and no drink should be, were lounge chairs and like minded souls and nothing else. Slowly, he thought to himself, he was starting to figure out who he was.

Saturday evening arrived and as the sun set on the second to last day of Burning Man, all the camps slowly emptied as the residents of Black Rock City gathered at the center of the Playa. As they formed a huge circle around the statute of the Man, the last rays of daylight dwindled and a thousand stars slowly appeared over their heads. Soon the fire dancers appeared and encircled the man with burning hoops and batons. The spectacle of 10 acres of moving and undulating fire was impressive and continued for over a half an hour. Then, just as quickly as they had appeared, they dispersed into the crowd and everyone fell silent as their gaze turned to the giant figure that had been the center of their lives for the past week.

Within minutes, hundreds of fireworks shot into the night sky, signaling the impending death of the Man. As the red, green and blue glare of the rockets bathed the Man in mulit-colored light, he slowly raised his mechanical arms over his head. As his arms reached their full height, the crowd let out a thunderous cheer as the final rockets launced with a thunderous salvo. When it did, the base of the Man erupted in a ball of flame which consumed the structure and the Man that stood atop it. As the wood slowly caught fire and the Man began to burn, the heat given off from the inferno was intense, even for those standing 100 yards away. be continued

Burning The Temple - Part 1
Burning The Temple - Part 2
Burning The Temple - Part 3
Burning The Temple - Part 4


Writers Note: The imagery and some of the events represented in this work of fiction were taken from my recent trip to the Burning Man Festival in 2009. To see more of my photographs from the event check out my Flickr Collection. To view my video documenting our trip to Burning Man, check out my You Tube channel. You can also check out the Burning Man Video Guide on my You Tube Channel as well. If you want to learn more, visit the Burning Man Website.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Burning The Temple - Part 2

A Fictional Recollection In Four Parts

The next morning Miss Bliss sipped on her coffee from the communal kitchen as she chatted with her camp-mates before dawning her goggles and handkerchief and wandering out onto the Playa. She wore her furry knee high platform boots, some bikini bottoms and a chain mail vest that was mostly see-thru. This was all standard Burning Man attire and she hardly stood out in the early morning crowd. She walked down the 6 o'clock Avenue and came to the Man. The huge stick figure towered over the center of the playa and was surrounded by an elaborate structure that symbolized the theme of this year’s event; Evolution. She continued outward toward the far reaches of the playa taking in all of the art that had been installed on the vast dust covered plain. A half mile from the Man she came to the Temple, recently finished and opened to the masses. This year’s Temple design was a giant lotus flower. She mounted the spiral staircase and went inside.

Even though it was early in the day, the Temple walls were already being covered in writing. All burners eventually visited the Temple to pay homage and remember the special moments that had affected them over the past 12 months. Eulogies for those departed, lost friends remembered, devotionals for those still living. They were written on walls, ceilings and stair wells. There were mementos shoved into the cracks and seams. Photographs, lockets, concert ticket stubs, guitars; would eventually adorn every inch of the structure. Bliss took her time and read them for hours. Sharing in their grief and wondering how they all coped. Eventually, she took a stray felt tipped pen and scribbled on the upper railing, “Nob, Now that you are gone, I don’t really know who you were – Bliss”.

Scout looked down a long corridor of arched wire rods. They were 12 foot high at their apex and snaked for a hundred yards across the desert, making a sort of open air hallway. This was all like some sort of dream. He had been wandering the playa for hours, taking in all the installations and people. The scope and size of the event were not something that his mind was prepared for. He realized he was getting pretty tired and thirsty. He looked for a place to rest and made his way to the Temple to sit in the shade of the giant flower-like structure. Like Bliss, his eyes also started to wander over the thousands of scribbles that were being written even as he sipped on his canteen.

While wandering the upper level of the temple, Scout came across Bliss' note and paused. He wondered who he really was sometimes. All the things that he had pursued throughout his life seemed hollow. The house in the 'burbs' and the shinny new car along with the 2.5 kids and the dog seemed like cruel jokes to him. They were all false images set up by capitalists and corporate leaders to push Proctor and Gamble, GMC and Maytag. He was questioning everything and those questions had lead him here instead of the beaches of Acapulco. Who was he and what did he really want? He wasn't sure anymore. He wanted something like this. Something like Burning Man, but he knew that this couldn't last. This was just a waking dream that would end eventually.

Bright pleaded with Bliss. "Come on Bliss, this will be fun, life is all about taking chances." Bright was short for Star Bright. She was Bliss' partner in crime in most things Burning Man. Bliss could not recall how many times they had passed out on the playa together or gotten each other out of tight spots on the past. Bright was trying to convince Bliss to accompany her to the Costco Soulmate Camp. It involved filling out a questionnaire and submitting it for data analysis to see which other Burner would be your soulmate. Bliss reluctantly agreed. Life moves on and so must she. She needed to focus on the future and not dwell on her past. be continued

Burning The Temple - Part 1
Burning The Temple - Part 2
Burning The Temple - Part 3
Burning The Temple - Part 4


Writers Note: The imagery and some of the events represented in this work of fiction were taken from my recent trip to the Burning Man Festival in 2009. To see more of my photographs from the event check out my Flickr Collection. To view my video documenting our trip to Burning Man, check out my You Tube channel. You can also check out the Burning Man Video Guide on my You Tube Channel as well. If you want to learn more, visit the Burning Man Website.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Burning The Temple - Part 1

A Fictional Recollection In Four Parts

The dry lake bed glowed and swirled under the dust from hundreds of vehicles, countless feet and bicycle tires. Boy Scout had been waiting for about an hour as the long line of cars slowly crept toward the main gate to Burning Man. It was hot and the sun was starting to set. As the light faded, the glow from propane powered Playa art installations started to illuminate the fog bank of dust. Scout starred off into the distance at the surreal nature of it all. He had never been to Burning Man before, and despite his research into the festival, nothing could really prepare him for the size and the magnitude of the legion that he now found himself a part of.

The tap from the horn of the converted school bus behind him, prompted Scout to move forward in line. He still didn’t know what to expect once he got in, but in a way, that is what he wanted. He sensed a need to find the unknown and the unexpected. His life up to this point had been a series of disappointments. Bad jobs, failed relationships and a growing frustration about where his life was headed had led him here. He needed a vacation far away, not only in distance, but in mindset. He needed a new perspective.

Miss Bliss slumped on the dust covered sofa that had been set up around the propane fire pit at her camp. She had been working since the first day of the burn to erect some of her camp's art on the Playa. She had done all this before and she always came back. Neither the heat, or the dust, or hard labor could keep her away from the community that she loved so dearly. She popped the top on a beer and leaned back to look at the 40 foot high steel sculpture of the nude woman that adorned the front of ‘The Steel Forge’ camp.

She hadn't helped in the forging of the statue, but she was one of many that had a hand in its creation. Her day job was in the warehouse, moving large strips of steel and iron with an overhead crane and doing inventory. She was not an artisan like some of the welders, but she was learning. The metal figure loomed over their camp and was stunning in its beauty.

As she sipped the beer and allowed herself to relax, her mind wandered back to ‘Nob’. Nob couldn’t make it to Burning Man this year. Nob was dead, killed in a car accident 3 months earlier. He had been her lover at three previous burns, or so she had thought. He had been witty, good looking, hard working and full of energy. She also learned after his death, that he had a 5 year old son and a girlfriend in Sausalito. She wondered how many other secrets the world had hidden from her. As the wind started to rise and the dust started to swirl, she took one more gulp of beer and then covered her nose and mouth with her bandanna. Hard work kept her mind focused, so she returned to the semi-trailer to continue unloading the camp stores and setting up the kitchen.

It all seemed like total chaos, but there was electricity in the air. Scout continued to unload his SUV in a camp site on one of the outer rings of Black Rock City. Activity swirled all around him as old friends in neighboring camps greeted one another. New vehicles inched down the avenues that encircled the Playa to set up their camps. He struggled to erect the small geodesic dome that he had created in his garage back home. The on-line guides had warned him about flimsy tents and sand storms, so he hoped this solution would work. A dome had long been his dream of alternate housing to break the norm of the ticki-tack dwellings he had come to despise. As he worked in the growing darkness, the sounds from the center of the Playa grew louder and he could sense the fever pitch of the party atmosphere out on the expansive dry lake bed. He yearned to finish his structure and go exploring. be continued

Burning The Temple - Part 1
Burning The Temple - Part 2
Burning The Temple - Part 3
Burning The Temple - Part 4


Writers Note: The imagery and some of the events represented in this work of fiction were taken from my recent trip to the Burning Man Festival in 2009. To see more of my photographs from the event check out my Flickr Collection. To view my video documenting our trip to Burning Man, check out my You Tube channel. You can also check out the Burning Man Video Guide on my You Tube Channel as well. If you want to learn more, visit the Burning Man Website.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I've Changed

Plumage Display In The Burbs

We went to a going away party last weekend. Some friends of my wife have a son that is going into the Navy, so we all gathered to wish him good luck at the start of his journey into manhood. It was a nice little get together but it showed me something that I had totally forgotten about.

This barbecue was on the west side of town. We refer this these sections of the Phoenix metro area as the 'Sea of Sameness', because it is all track housing put up in large sub-divisions. The houses all look the same and are a bit run down. Most of them were built in the 1970s and they are showing their age. The neighborhood was pretty solid middle class, but like the rest of the nation, it has seen better days.

I used to live in this area. Before I met my wife and moved downtown into an historic neighborhood I was just another Sponge Bob in the Sea of Sameness. Living here entails long commutes to work, and shopping at a strip mall that either had a Safeway or an Albertsons. There isn't a lot of variation in the sea of sameness. Most residents buy what they are told they want, and own more vehicles than they need. They all have pools that they don't keep up, and the father's tend to have more toys then there children.

Going to the barbecue was a trip back down memory lane, and made me realize just how much I wasn't like these people anymore. First of all, they all smoked. I mean they smoked a lot. Where I live and work these days, smoking is a big no-no. You are pretty shunned if you do it. That was not the case at this little gathering. I counted no less than 10 packs of cigarette laying around and I saw at least $45 of the little cough'in nails go up in smoke. I can point my finger at these folks, because I used to smoke, and I quite. I pretty much lived on Marlboro Lights and Pitchers of Miller Beer while I was in college, but I have moved past that now. Most of these folks obviously hadn't.

The other thing I noticed were the wives. They were fat. I mean muffin top, hanging over their too-tight jeans fat. With hair died different colors and nose piercings, they weren't the sort of woman that I would find the least bit attractive. Fashion was not on their minds nor was spending any time in a hair salon trying to tame the muskrats on their heads. The lovely little model displaying her white thong on the blog graphic was the high point of fashion at this little gathering.

The final thing I noticed was the absolute addiction to technology that these people had. Every single one of them texted at least once while we were there during a 4 hour period of time. Many texted CONTINUOUSLY. Often times texting someone that was only 10 feet away, as though they were whispering in someones ear while they were conversing with someone else. Now, I have a Twitter account and a Facebook page along with a pretty sizable presence on the web, but this was a bit over the top. I might send 20 texts a month. These people were sending 20 a day, minimum. Technology has its benefits and its detractions. Put down the phone people and take a walk. Geezzz.

So in the end, I have changed. I was on track to become a member of this pack of lemmings, but something altered my course about 8 years ago and now I am in a totally different place. I am not sure what it was. Probably a growing frustration with the lifestyle that I found in the Sea of Sameness. Possibly a desire to find something more than the closed minds that my neighbors perpetuated. Definitely the fact that I found a good woman that knows how to dress without showing her underwear to the neighbors. I think I have changed for the better.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Essential Cinema - 48

On The Beach

Gregory Peck
Ava Gardner
Fred Astaire
Anthony Perkins

Stanley Kramer

Nevil Shute (novel)
John Paxton

The survivors of a nuclear holocaust gather in Australia to contemplate the end of their world.

Facing the inevitable and coming to terms with all the things we have done and have left to do.

I saw this film years ago and was impressed with it. I wanted to watch it again, since I am in the process of screening another film based on Shute's work called "A Town Like Alice". The second time around, I found the impact of this film far more intense than I initially remembered.

Released in 1959, the film starts with the premise that the Soviet Union and United States have obliterated each other with nuclear weapons, but that the Earth's southern hemisphere has been left physically unscathed. However, the radiation released from the war is slowing drifting down under and it is only a matter of time before the inhabitants of Australia are also extinct, along with the rest of the human race.

Into this mix comes the American Nuclear Submarine 'Sawfish'. The story follows the interactions between her captain, and the local officials as they try and determine what to do with the limited time they have left. This film touches on some profound issues regarding human perceptions of regret, duty and the lack of hope due to our past failures. In essence, all these characters are walking zombies, waiting for death to arrive. How each of them deals with that reality and the regrets of their past is what makes the film so engrossing.

Gregory Peck as the submarine captain and Fred Astaire as the nuclear scientist are racked with guilt over what their science and military have done to the human race. Ava Gardner's Moira must deal with her thoughts of abandonment, love unfulfilled and the impending loss of her last chance at happiness. Throw into this mix, the mystery of learning exactly what happened to their families back in the United State and strange radio signals coming from the radioactive wasteland of southern California and you have a two hour film that is hard to stop watching.

I am a big fan of this type of drama so I can't find a lot of cons with this film. There really isn't an ending to the film. After all, you already know the ending in the beginning....everyone is going to die. The film is all about what they learn and realize before the end comes. This film is somewhat simplistic in its view of the nuclear holocaust aftermath. Even when they make it back to America, there is little damage or sign of 'nuclear winter' as predicted in the 1970s. After watching this film, you will pause, take a walk in the woods and realize that there are things in all our lives that we need to address before it is too late.

This film is a part of my LaserDisc Collection which is located on the LaserDisc Database.

Clicking on the "Essential Cinema" title will take you to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry for this film. The listing of all the LaserDiscs that I have reviewed on IMDB can be found here.

Clicking here will take you to a listing of all the "Essential Cinema" reviews in my Blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Over Thinking and Profiteering

Life Writes This Blog For Me

There was once a tribe of small African Bushmen. We used to call them Pygmies, but that has fallen out of fashion as being politically incorrect. So now they are vertically challenged indigenous peoples (VCIPs). The VCIP had a problem. They needed to cross a flowing river and since they are not tall enough to wade across it, and to unskilled in the art of swimming to swim across it, they sought assistance from outside sources.

So they sent out scouts to try and find others that could solve their problem for them. After several days, the scouts brought back an Over-Educated Profit Seeking Capitalist (OEPSC) from the land of concrete and steel, far, far away. The OEPSC looked over the VCIP's problem and came up with the perfect solution.

"What you boys need is the Saturn V Rocket Ship. It will lift you and your entire tribe high above the raging dangerous waters and parachute you safely to the other side. It will only take about 3 years to build and the cost to you can be spread out in installments over the next several generations.

This sounded wondrous and awe-inspiring to the under-educated VCIPs so they gladly signed over the mineral rights to their land and mortgaged the future of their children to construct the 50 story gleaming white tower that would lift then into the heavens and deposit them safely in the land across the river. After all, the land across the river looked much better than the land they had lived on for centuries.

Weeks, turned into months, and months into years. The rocket ship was delayed and restarted and changed over and over again. The dream of crossing the river became lost and the tribe foundered in debt and gave way to the commercialism, traffic, taxes and dissatisfaction that came with the industrialization around the launch site. The OEPSCs became rich from the VCIP labor and resources and had no motivation to finish the project anytime soon. The longer it took the more secure were their profits and success.

Several decades later, a young VCIP was chopping a tree next to the river bank with a sharp tool that has been discarded from the Saturn V project. He misjudged the cutting of the tall tree and much to his horror, it fell into the river. Well, actually, it fell across the river with the top on the other side. Stunned at what he had done, the young VCIP climbed on the tree, walked across the river and hoped down onto the other side. He ran down the bank to where they were building the Saturn V and yelled to his tribe across the river.

The rest of the VCIPs were stunned. They had never seen one of their kind on the opposite side of the river, and the Saturn V had not taken off yet. How could this be?

The young boy yelled...push it over, push it over....and pointed to the rocket ship. In a frenzy the tribe surged toward the Saturn V, much to the horror of the OEPSCs that were overseeing the project. As the rocket toppled over and spanned the river, the tribe went wild and ran over the stream into the fabled land of milk and honey.


This may all seem a bit of a farce, but this story came to me today while I was sitting in an hour long meeting at my office. The debate back and forth concerned what would be the best way to pigeon hole the collection of new data into our antiquated database system that was supposed to be scrapped five years ago. The easiest way would be to do the simplest thing to collect the data. But instead, they chose to build the rocket-ship.

It would appear that our ability as a society to see past all the technology that swirls around us has been lost and we now only search for more and more complex ways to do the simplest tasks. Once again, our technology has leaped-froged over the heads of most peoples' ability to comprehend it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I am working in it.....just hold your horses...

Render Test

It has been almost three weeks since I posted much of anything. The reason? Well, I have been getting other stuff out of the way that has been lingering for quite a while.

I have recently finished developing most of the film images that I took at Burning Man 2009. The better ones are on my Flickr Account, if you want to check them out.

Besides the film, I have been trying to get my garage back in order after being turned into a Dome Manufacturing center for the Burning Man Dome Project.

Then where was the over seeding of the Rye grass in the front yard. Here in Arizona, if you want grass all year round you have to plant two different types of grass, one type in the spring and one in the fall. This year, my wife deceided that she wanted to really 'prepare' the lawn for the event, so we got a power rake and a power 'airator' for the yard from Home Depot. Seeing my wife work a power airator is something that I really should have caught on was hillarious.

Then on Saturday we took the grandson to the Arizona State Fair while his parents were helping someone move. This excursion re-enforced the fact that my wife and I are really old since the rides pretty much-darn near killed us. And that a young six year old full of cotton candy has the energy to power a small city until the sugar buzz wears off.

So hopefully, now that I am somewhat caught up, I can get back to writing some stuff. I have been working on several blog projects but they are somewhat lengthy, so their gestation time will be considerable.

So I will leave you with the sample rendering displayed above. Since there is no such thing a useless computer, just a slower computer, this is a test rendering done by my old iMac G3 that I have in the garage. This is a small animation that was created by an application called Bryce 4 which I set to render on Sunday afternoon. It took the machine about 2 hours to create it. A newer modern machine could have probably created it in 10 minutes. But since I just have to set it and walk away, I don't really care how long the iMac takes to generate it. This is something I might be doing more of in the future. This was just a test run and is nothing fancy. I just wanted to see how long the computer would take to genterate a complex image. More of my past computer animations can be seen on my YouTube Channel account.

Friday, October 2, 2009

First Friday Flashbacks

The Prelude To Karma

It is a very warm feeling when you can see an idiot's future and know that they are doomed.

First Published December 4, 2007

I Don't Think So

High School. While the trappings may change, the experience tends to stay the same. It has to because its roots lay in hormones and adolescence. No matter how much the clothes, or the hairstyles or the slang differs over the ages, the underpinnings are the same. The changes, the awkwardness, the discovery of new feelings and new desires. It was a time when friendships took on extra meaning, where trust was earned and broken, when a glance and a smile could increase your heart rate for no apparent reason. We learned more during that time of our lives than any other. It wasn't the learning from text books. It was the growing awareness of who we were and what we were becoming. It was when we really started to figure things out, and a time when we first realized how hard life was going to be.

I attended several high schools when I was growing up. We moved around a lot as did most of my school mates. We were grounded in who we were and not so much where we lived. We made strong friendships fast, and just as quickly we were gone. Looking back it almost seems like a blur.

During my final year of High School, we finally got some of the 'good' professors. The ones reserved for the more mature students. The teachers that were hip, and cool and hadn't been ground up by the system. Those were heady times, we were scared, but we were excited. We knew we were approaching the end of youth and our futures were uncertain. Things were moving.

One of the senior classes I had was a literature class. Can't remember the specifics of it, but I recall that we had to do a recitation in front of a school assembly, on stage, during some sort of talent show. It was a rendition of "Spoon River Anthology" by Edgar Lee Masters. It was a play in which tombstones speak in verse and in doing so reveal the entire soul of the town and its people. Our hip professor chose several in the class to read portions of the play. I was picked, as was my girlfriend, and one of my best buddies along with a few other students in the class. For some reason, the teacher also chose one of the class slackers to perform one of the roles.

Every high school has their 'click' of bad boys. They never studied, smoked cigarettes, had bad reputations and generally were just assholes. This guy was no different. So the teacher's choice in picking him seemed somewhat odd. No one expected him to show up for class or take the assignment seriously. He indicated that "He wasn't going to do it", and voiced his concern that the whole project was "stupid".

Never the less, the next week we started rehearsing in class and memorizing our lines. Much to our surprise the slacker showed up and actually participated. He was awful. He could barely read, and became frustrated with the assignment. He was obviously uncomfortable in trying to express emotion through his character and felt that this wasn't something macho tough guys did. Still, the teacher must have seen promise in him and we continued the recitations over the next several weeks until we had our lines memorized. By the time the assembly came around, we were all pretty good. We had the inflections down, we had the timing and we had stage freight. Even the slacker was pulling his weight and wasn't half bad.

On the evening of the assembly we gathered at the school. We were full of opening night jitters, even though the whole thing was only going to take 15 minutes to perform. Other school talent went ahead of us, music recitals, short plays, and other entertainment. By the time we were set to go on everything was ready...except for the slacker. He was a no-show. We waited until the last minute and he never came, so our professor filled in for him and read his parts. By the time it was all over, we were proud and relieved and somewhat giddy. Another one of youth's hurdles had been overcome. We all felt just a bit older.

The next day, I was sitting in the classroom waiting for class to begin. I was leaning my chair up against the window. Outside, winter was moving in. There was an overcast sky and the temperature was dropping as the wind started to pick up over the Dakota plains. As I sat chatting with my friends about our opening night triumph, I heard someone rapping on the window behind me. I turned around and there stood the slacker with some of his buddies smoking cigarettes. As I looked at him, he flipped me his middle finger and I could see him mouth the words "Fuck You" and then he laughed at me.

I don't think he was able to appreciate that Kodak moment. His posturing and bravado through the window was obviously to impress his friends. But to those of us that had faced our fears the previous evening he seemed pathetic and sad. All his hard work and effort had been wasted. He had let his fear win.

We all knew we could go on to bigger and better things. We could make something of our lives. The slacker was a coward. When ever the going got tough or things got hard, he would cut and run. He had no future. I turned away from the window and looked at my classmates. I am sure there was a hint of a smile on my face. Many folks learn much to late, that Karma is a bitch.