Dec 17 2009

She lived on the third floor of a small complex. Acoustically it was at the right height so that everything that happened on the sidewalk sounded like it happened right outside her window.

The northwest part of Portland is dense and people live on top of each other. There is no parking so if you own a car you circle and circle to find a place close to your house but usually end up blocks away. One car had a bumper sticker. It said, “Visualize Parking”. She didn’t have a car so it didn’t matter. The neighborhood had all she needed, a car wasn’t necessary.

She wasn’t sure if it was people who didn’t have cars or people who just bought too many groceries. But you would see shopping carts randomly parked around the neighborhood. Sometimes they would be there for days. There were two groceries with in five blocks she just made several trips a week and rarely shopped using a cart. She never bought more than she could carry, what could fit in a basket. A redish orange truck would drive the neighborhood each day, collect the shopping carts and take them back to the store where they belonged.

Then one day she started really thinking about those carts. She thought if she had a camera she would make a video about these abandon carts. Think about it. You are a brand new cart, you just came off of the assembly line were loaded on a truck to be taken to your grocery store.

Your wheels are straight, your cage is shiny there isn’t a nick or scratch anywhere. You are nestled inside another and one is nestled resting gently inside you. You get to the store you are unloaded from the truck and carefully lined up just inside the door. The lights go out and it’s dark. All of the carts are there, waiting in anticipation of the next morning when the doors are unlocked and customers start coming in.

But the unthinkable happens. The new cart gets his chance. He feels the warm hands on the handle. His wheels are smooth and silent. And as she pushes him he understands what his purpose is as the light shines on his shiny new frame. Isle after isle more and more gets put into the cart. He can feel the cold go to warm as they leave the produce section. Then colder as they enter the frozen isle, that actually feels good. He breezes through the isles and proudly carries fresh vegetables, fresh loaves of bread, toothpaste, soaps, it all fits perfectly.

At check out he wonders if the shopper even noticed that he was new or if the checker knows? They have to, he is so shiny. The shopper unloads the cart, pushes it forward and the cart waits to be reloaded. The checker is very neat, so the bags are fit in perfectly and sit snuggly next to each other. Now his first trip outside to the parking lot! Will they leave him in the cart bin outside or bring him back inside? Oh it’s a nice day he hopes that they leave him outside, the sun feels good. What kind of car does she have? What color? Where is it?

Then it happens. She doesn’t go to the parking lot. Ok, she is parked on the street. Is it this car? This car? This one? She keeps walking. Where is she going? She is getting further and further away from the store. Then she turned the corner! He couldn’t see the store any more. Where is she taking him? He started to panic. How would he do his job and be there for the next person if he is so far away?

He heard some rumbling the night before among some of the other carts but he didn’t pay any attention. He figured it was an old cart. How crazy to think that someone would take a cart to there house so far away from the store. Then he remembered someone saying something about a redish orange truck. He had to keep an eye open for that truck. Where was it? Oh no! Another corner and further away from the store, he had to be brave. Things looked nice so it must be a nice place. Where was he going?

Several blocks have gone by. It’s getting dark. There are a few people on the street, but it’s pretty quiet actually. Then she slows down. There is a street lamp and the light is shining down on him. He feels it bouncing off his shiny new frame. One by one she takes the bags out of the cart and into the building. There is one last bag in the cart. This should be it. She will take the bag come back and push him back home so that he can continue to serve the customers. She takes the last bag and walks inside. He waits. And waits.

He doesn’t really have a concept of time. He is a shopping cart after all. But he is thinking that she is taking longer than needed. Even allowing for time to put frozen things in a freezer and other goods in the fridge, she should be out again. And it’s getting darker and darker. How could this have happened to him? His first run and now he is stranded and has no idea how to get back?

Wait! The redish orange truck he heard them talking about last night! It had to come soon. Was he going to be visible to the driver? How did he make sure that he was picked up in that truck and taken back to the store? He looked all around as best he could. But there was no traffic. Now it was really late and very dark. She had forgotten him.

It would be a very long night. There was some foot traffic, but no trucks. Two boys walked by and threw their empty coffee cups in the cart. He wasn’t a trash can, but now he had trash. He hoped that was all that he had to take on until that redish orange truck found him. He didn’t mind just staying in one place. That was part of his job. He was too far away and felt useless.

Now if she just had a camera she could take it to Freddies and attach it to a cart, fill it up, push it home and leave it out front of her apartment. She wondered if her neighbor downstairs would let her put a camera in their window to shoot over the night for time lapse? But like many other things it was just a thought. She would tell the story a few times to friends but never produced the video. It seems a bit traumatic maybe. But really it is comical. It’s A shopping cart after all!

The redish orange truck did make its way to that street and picked up the cart and took him back to the store. The cart was a little wiser and a bit more prepared for the next time someone took him home instead of leaving him. But he hoped not!

Dec 16 2009

12.18 & 19 don’t miss it!

Watch Portland local’s, Cami Kaos and Rick Turoczy enter the charity marathon world with Thirty Hour Day, raising money for local fav’s;

Free Geek
Oregon Food Bank
Toys For Tots
Hands On Disaster Response
Mercy Corps
Portland Red Cross
Special Olymics Oregon

30 Hour Day

Dec 15 2009


Should I have put a question mark after “question” in the title? Or would that have been redundant?


One would think that this would be something I could do. But I find it harder than anything. What is it? Answering that question at the end of an interview, “do you have any questions for us?” That’s me being interviewed for a job. Do “I” have questions?

I had an interview yesterday. It was for a job that could be interesting. It would be a place to pull all of my experience together. I think it would be stable. It is a job that I actually would like to do. And one I can certainly do. There is a bit of a but, it’s with the state and three hours south.

I applied back in October thinking that they would never call me. They called last week for an interview. So off I went yesterday in a rental car. No reason to drag everyone in at this point.

It was a panel interview. Five people, two with the state and three from the community that are involved with the office.

When I interview people I do have a set of questions in mind before we start. But I also want to try to find out how they think and how they have a conversation. So I very often stray from the written questions. And work to have them do all the talking.

Yesterday, like many others they were right on track and did not stray from the questions. They were good questions and they took turns asking them.

The one that always trips me up, “give us an example of a difficult change that you had to implement…?” Life is loaded with drama and difficulty. The last thing I want or need is anything being perceived as difficult. So I don’t create it.

I think I achieve that by not working behind a curtain or veiled in secrecy. Nothing I have done to date has or needs any level of secrecy. It’s what thousands of people do everyday and have done for years. And no one has a unique way or market on the business of recruiting. Guess what everyone, you are all doing exactly the same thing! So there is no reason to not let the people around me know exactly what is going on.

That said, I’d like to think that because of that the space around me is fair and non-threatening. It’s a place that can and would grow leaders. A place that works together not against each other. A place void of difficult scenarios.

So I haven’t had “difficult” changes or situations. I have had challenging situations and changes, but not difficult. Difficult is finding out one of your dear friends has breast cancer. Difficult is finding out one of your dear friends loses her beloved four legged companion of 16 years. Difficult is having dear friends that long for and deserve to be married and recognized for the commitment of 18 years together, but can’t. And fear what that might mean as they grow old together. They have a long way to go, growing old, that’s difficult!

Difficulty in the work place is temporary and unless you have your hand inside someones chest waiting for a heart or another body part, it just doesn’t matter.

Now maybe I’m oblivious, like Portland driver’s, and have no awareness of the wake that I leave behind. But I think I’m pretty in touch and am the first one to know even before the wake begins and stop it.

I don’t know if they will call me back for the second round? I don’t know if I asked them enough questions? But I know what I will do next time. I will ask them the same questions that they asked me. If these will be the people that I will be interacting with on a regular basis, I’ll want to know how they handle difficult change. I’d want to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. To what extent, they think, non-management employee’s should be involved in decisions. What is it they hope the new manager accomplishes in the first six months. And certainly, how do they develop long and short range goals with partners over which they did not have authority.

That’s what I will do next time.

Dec 9 2009

Changing my image


Dec 8 2009


Day seven came and went and … no post. Yesterday was a long day! And Portland had a rare record. Coldest day in ten years. It was between 24 and 28 degree’s all day.

Now I do not like the cold. Many of you reading most likely know that. If you are new here, I DON’T LIKE COLD! Portland was a great relief from Kansas City. But 28? Oh, San Diego!

So yesterday was a long day. It started when I left the house at about 6:50am to meet Dr. Tom for coffee to talk at 7:45. Oh, here’s another one. I DON’T LIKE MORNING! But coffee with Dr. Tom even at 7:45am, not such a bad thing. Then I was off to PSU for the Internet Marketing Conference.

My first cold day out in it waiting for a bus. Y-ouch! The wind was biting and fierce. Now that I don’t have a car again I’m back to using public transportation. It’s pretty good here. Except when it’s cold. I’m still glad I sold my car. Yesterday didn’t make me want to have it back. It did make me want to be elsewhere … San Diego!

I don’t know if that’s why I didn’t post yesterday. Lazy mostly. Got home about 8pm, ate and warmed up. Love that radiant water heat that I don’t pay for!

The sun is out today, but it’s not really working? It’s 32 today and I have NO where to go!

If I post twice today does that count?

Dec 6 2009

Okay, so she thought about the care and thought that must have gone behind the reasoning of laminating maps. Sure it keeps them clean and they don’t rip at the folds. But that’s what makes a map cool. The wear and tear of the paper the diminishing lines that mark the streets and towns. The disappearance of places just like in real life. She worked with a woman once whose brother-in-law was a mapmaker. She never asked but wondered if he worked from an airplane? After all how could you really do a good job with out seeing the entire thing? There had to be pictures at least.

Mowana-Winky popped in and out of her life from the day she met her. Mowana was quiet like she was and didn’t need a lot of taking care of. She for a young one was pretty self-sufficient she thought, even for an 8 year old. But a close eye was always on her. There was a lot of land and trees to wonder and get lost in. Even thought she never went far, usually to the lake, someone was always near.

When she was ten she was allowed to use the small boat that was on the lake. But she had to take lessons on how to be safe. She thought that kind of odd since it was just a lake and not the ocean. It didn’t have the big waves like the ocean and you could see the other side of the lake unlike the ocean. At least the pictures she had seen of the ocean, she was never able to see the other side. So she knew that it was big. She thought it would be great to just row out and lay in the bottom of the boat and watch the clouds roll by. And listen to the water slap the bottom and side of the boat.

Lessons were fun and easy. Fun because her father actually was the one who taught her to use the boat and took her out three days in a row. Now as she thinks back it his lessons where easy and not complicated at all. And he spent more time just rowing around the lake than talking about how to be safe. It was then that she knew her father liked the water as much as she did. He started to tell her stories of ocean liner’s and big boats on the ocean. He told her about the ocean liner he went on when he was a little boy. When he was eight his mother’s father passed away and they left New York for England on the Queen Mary.


Their room was one of the bigger ones and had a door that went outside. He told her that he stretched out as far as he could so that he could watch New York get smaller and smaller. He hoped that he was able to see London as they came into port. He told her stories about the people on the boat. The fancy dinner’s the games played during the day and how people walked around and around on the deck.

But mostly while in the little boat they just floated and rowed around the lake. She never asked why her father was home for three days in a row. She just liked being in the boat with him and it didn’t matter. It was cool, peaceful and relaxing.

One day after her lessons when she as allowed to go out on the boat by herself, she was laying in the bottom of the boat looking up at the blue sky. It was the perfect summer day. It was warm but the breeze was just right. What she really wanted to do was be out on the lake at night to watch the stars. She knew she would have to be older to get to do that.

She closed her eyes and thought about the water. Wondered what it would be like to live under water. Not inside of something under water but under water like a fish. She thought that it had to be the most peaceful place on earth. And because the water surrounded you like a blanket it had be feel safe and comforting. But then she thought about the temperature of the water. Did fish get cold? She knew the water had to be cold in the winter because last winter it actually froze over a bit it got so cold.

What would Thursday bring? She still had the image of those laminated maps in her head and wondered if she retraced her steps if maybe she would see him again. Maybe she would ask him where he got the maps. She didn’t want to embarrass him by asking about the lamination; she thought just asking where he got them might reveal how they got that way. But it would be totally out of character to ask or even approach him about it. She would talk to others when they initiated the conversation, but she was never the one to start the conversation, especially with a stranger.

She didn’t think that she was interesting enough to engage other in conversation or banter. So felt that if they were compelled to talk to her or ask her a question she was more than happy to oblige. It made her a bit uncomfortable to put herself out there like that.

She was actually fine with just wondering and making up her own story of why or how the maps came to be. Maybe he was allergic to paper and had to have it covered so that he could hold it. Maybe he was one of those people who ate paper? So lamination kept him from eating it. Maybe he had a crazy aunt who gave him a laminating machine for his birthday and he hated not to use it so he did. Maybe she would get a laminator.

Dec 5 2009

Serious was in her DNA. But she could cover it up with an acceptable amount of humor. She was able to make people laugh. In fact, that was what she missed about her isolation, that guttural laugh that she on numerous occasions produced with friends.

About her isolation, one has to wonder why. To that moment when everything shifted. Well maybe it didn’t “just” happen? Sometimes things just evolve and are what they are. They don’t have to have any great break trough or break down. They just happen.

She knew that she like being alone. She was never lonely. And she could go days and only interact with that grocery store clerk or the gas station attendant. It was calming to not have to participate sometimes. To not have to be present. Because to not be present in a conversation or in a relationship, what is the point of either. So she had always given 110% when it came to both. Never regretting either or any. But liking the ability to keep some for herself. To store up if you will.

Maybe that’s where the story is or was. Hidden or bubbling just below the surface. Which makes her sound shallow. Which she was never really accused of. But it was a way to avoid it.

She kept herself so busy with others that she didn’t have to pay attention to herself. She could give everything to those around her and then not have time or the energy to bother with anything else. She didn’t mind that. Kind of liked it. But she knew she needed to do what she was meant to do. She hoped that it was writing?

What if after all the thinking, contemplating and preparing to get herself perfectly aligned to write she had no real talent or ability to carry a story or an idea and she would forever just pound out words on the page. Words that never went anywhere or meant anything that no one wanted and most certainly didn’t want to pay for! What then? Where was the idea that would stick?

That day on the bus was just another day. The weather was good and without incident she bought her four apples, three bananas and a yogurt. It was Wednesday after all.

Later that day while on the streetcar she noticed a nicely dressed young man. Maybe thirty, not much more than that. She noticed that he had a map of the streetcar out and unfolded. He was looking at the map and then up at the map in the streetcar. As she looked closer she realized that the map had been laminated. She had never seen that map laminated before? Had he gotten it that way? Or did he do it himself. She then noticed his brief case. She thought that he must be either very successful or very important. The briefcase was one of those very sturdy one, aluminum maybe? But it was a light color of brown. Very nice, she thought. She watched as he folded the map and opened his briefcase to put the map back. As he opened the case she noticed that for the most part it was empty. Except for 3 other laminated maps.

Her father had a briefcase when she was a child. He was very important and she only saw him on Sundays, sometimes during the week, but rarely. He was a gentle and quiet man, but very busy and very important. She knew he was important because of the crease between his eyebrows. He was very serious all the time. He was also gone frequently, traveling on business.

She didn’t see much of her mother either. She was busy planning party’s, at the club or traveling with her father. So mostly she saw the maid, the cook and her nanny. And while well cared for and watched over closely she was left to do just about what ever she wanted. As long as she went to school and made good grades, which she did.

The house they lived in was big. Not enormous, but big for the town that it was in. It actually was most of the town. Close to 800 acres. There was a stable for the horses a green house, a church and houses for the people who worked the land and building for her father. Many of the people who lived in the town worked for her father.

When her father was home on Sunday’s breakfast would be served on the sun porch. They would walk to church then back to the house for reading, maybe a game of cards and supper. Sometimes they would have company for supper. None of her parent’s friends had children. Well they had children but they were older so none of them really cared to play with her so she was once again left to her own imagination.
trip 063

Dec 4 2009


She wore bowling shoes and carried a basket like Dorothy. It was hard to tell if the plaid pants she had on were long Capri’s or short because she carried a few extra pounds. But she didn’t care because the colors where coordinated. Red’s, blacks and white. Bowling shoes were not her only pair of shoes, but one of her favorite. She liked them mostly because she, from time to time would notice people looking at them. They rarely said anything to her about the shoes. But often smiled or even giggled. She wrote that off as her contribution to happy for the day. People were so unhappy. If her shoes brought on a smile, maybe it was the first in a long while.

It’s hard to imagine the hundreds of people you see every week or even every day. Who they are, where they come from, what makes them happy? Are they happy? Sometimes you see someone and you know … or do you.

She got on the bus and sat down with a smile on her face. She seemed happy and carefree. But maybe I was the first person to see her in days. Maybe she walked through life believing that she was invisible. Maybe she had been invisible for so long that see grew to appreciate it or understand it. Or just accept it as the way life would be. After all, did she really need more than she had?

Life had not handed her a bad story. Just, in her opinion, one with not much flavor. She was born, went to grammar school and high school. She went off to college with everyone and didn’t quite fit in. It seemed that those around her is where stuff happened. At least she knew some people that exciting things happened to. Actually she was fine with watching all of it. She didn’t really like much being in a spotlight or attracting the attention that other did. She felt it was too much responsibility to be there and she wasn’t sure she could adequately deliver a worthy product. So she was find with sitting back.

As she road the bus that day to fill her basket; who cared about childhood or college? The mundane needed to be completed. She needed four apples, three maybe four bananas and a yogurt.

As the streets past and the numbers got smaller she wondered who she would see. Feeling more or less invisible she didn’t often notice people around her either. Well she might not have noticed them, but she was careful and always aware of their space. It came as a second nature to move through the day like she was the only one there. How often had someone stepped in front of her or blocked her view of something? Like she wasn’t there? She always thought it odd, but just moved over to another spot hoping for a clear view.

The basket was actually a bit bigger than that one that Dorothy carried and it didn’t have a cover on it. But it was just right for what she could carry at any given time. She didn’t originally get the basket for errand. But on her way out one day she saw the basket out of the corner of her eye and was compelled to take it along. That was 7 years ago. She knew by now that if she was by chance seen somewhere along the way, she would be remembered for the basket if nothing else.

Dec 3 2009

He used the “N” word!

And said to me that I needed to embrace my inner narcissism. How the hell do I do that?

I had dinner with a friend on Wednesday night. It’s always an interesting meeting up with MM. We met when I was a recruiter a few years back. Not that I’m not still a recruiter, but I do other things too. I think he called me after applying to a position and asked if we could meet so he could find out more about the company. Of course I said yes. But then I’m crazy that way!

He said to me before dinner that I needed to embrace my narcissistic side. He said that was my problem, I wasn’t narcissistic enough. GAD! That was after he told me my tweets were half-hearted. I don’t disagree! Kinda refreshing when someone is straight with you.

Narcissism is a noun, an inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.

1. Excessive love or admiration of oneself. See Synonyms at conceit.
2. A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.
3. Erotic pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one’s own body or self, especially as a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development.
4. The attribute of the human psyche charactized by admiration of oneself but within normal limits.

Did I find a typo on

I guess I’m not crazy this way. I have for many years easily navigated the life that is mine with the idea that, it’s not about me. Well, it’s not. So I ask again, how do I do that?!

I like myself, might even say I love myself. But excessive, yeah that doesn’t feel right.

I feel like there is more to this than these few words here. But I don’t think I’ve processed it in its entirety. I mean, on a certain level, I get it. But actually I don’t.

Hmm, I’m thinking this post is lame, but I’m determined to post everyday this month. And I don’t actually think this one fit’s the theme, MITZVAH. But it is what it is.

I guess I could say that the act of kindness was his honesty. And how I don’t think some see the benefit in that kind of honesty and would take something like that personally. Well it is personal, but you have to glean from that what it means to you the person. And how someone might think enough of you to push you a certain way or a direction that you yourself didn’t think you could go. Or needed to go.

I think I have to think about this some more.

Dec 2 2009

a little more work

Is what the post that I started working on for tonight is going to need. So, you get this.

I think that I wanted to do documentaries before I really knew what a documentary actually was. What I knew was, I didn’t want the stories to go away, to die with those who had told them. My fear now is that they have faded and changed with age and the unfortunate result of that age.

I didn’t do a very good job of keeping track my self. Procrastination I guess. But the stories are important. Like any story, there is fabric and texture. Elements, to some degree that are who I am and a part of who I have become.

To me they have been the truest part of my life. Pure in their content and to me clear in the intent. Simple tales of life and love.

There is a line in the movie “Adaptation”, “change is not a choice”. One can certainly participate in change, but it often is not a choice. Very often it is presented to you before you even realize what is happening.

For me those stories also represent a different time. A time before everything changed. Young innocence trusted and believed that love was unconditional.

I try to think about them and what was important at the time they were being told. They had no real significance to that exact time other than they made us laugh. They were stories of humor; adolescent adventure and pranks only siblings can play on each other. Stories that mark an era and time of dearth and longing. Longing for more or just enough to get to the next day.

My only connection to what shaped those who came before me are hidden in those tales. Tuck away in the minds that have faded. Gone with those who have already left this earth.


The images are all yellow now. But they are the true keepers of the stories.

The Green Parrot was a restaurant in Columbus KS. My Aunt Irene and her husband Levi Runyon “ran the restaurant” Grandma used to say. With the rest of the family they left Neodesha to help them.

Driving into Columbus Kansas even for me has a certain familiarity about it. Maybe it’s because those who came before me walked here, lived here and loved here.

Even after 75 years after the fact I can imagine what it looked like, smelled like and how the people existed. I have a feel for the pace of the traffic, the colors, the texture…the air.

The texture or core of the story is that these two people fall in love and in the strangest reality develop an unconditional love for each other. The kind of love usually reserved for that of parent and child. This love produces children who don’t necessarily love unconditionally. They have somehow learned to love with conditions attached. Basically not gleaning any of the love that their parents lived or exhibited.

They married on October 14, 1933. Best guess is that they met sometime around 1930-1931. Marguerite’s sister Irene and her husband Levi ran a restaurant in Columbus Kansas called the Green Parrot. Gerald was born in Miami Oklahoma, where they got married but grew up in Columbus.

Gerald was born on June 22, 1911. Marguerite was born in Neodesha KS on July 14, 1915. Their story is truly a great love story.