Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Reflections

by Robert L. Gisel

 Tomorrow we are going to memorialize the ones who died fighting for our side. And we should, for their loyalty, their devotion, and what they gave.

 The other side will also celebrate their heroes who went against ours. It makes for a terrific game, war.

 It is all great drama, all that blood and dieing and killing just to arrive at the stark realization there's the body laying there deader than a door knob and you're still alive, thinking how silly this all was. But the guy with fanciest uniform said do it, and you did it, and then you have to admit in the end he was nuts.

 But there lies old Joe who died in the furious rush against the enemy, and you hope it was in the throe of the heroic act, saving others, or salvaging the cause.

 We always expect that we are on the side of right and that that makes a difference, which it does, as evil is not ever a cause for good. Except unless maybe all the white hats have been taken up and all that's left are the black ones. So if you don't want to be left out of the game altogether you better take up with that side, and that, we think, is better than not being able to play at all. So it would be, if you think there is a scarcity of games and golden opportunities.

 That which forwards the broadest good, or that which harms far more than any good that ever comes out of it, tells you which right is righter, when you want to know which hat you are wearing, which side you are on. 

 If someone is going to run you over, of course you must stand and defend the line. Maybe it is enough to just move discretely out of the road. The forward progress needs to go up to order, and not down to chaos.

 Just to add to the mix, it is all a matter of viewpoint, ours or theirs or of someone else.  We like to think we are on the side of God, and their view is they are on God's side, and everybody is right down to their last dieing breath.

 Then there is pride and honor, and you know these require a view from the high end where life moves forward, whereas shameful subjugation is next to dead already.

 Still if there wasn't the other team there would be no game and boredom leads to apathy followed by death down the line.

 The last refuge in any game is that you can make a choice. You made a choice to play the game or you wouldn't be in it. To choose to play with a white hat or a black hat, that is your choice. Maybe next time you will play with a black hat, just to spice it up, that is a choice, too.

 Even when you are not given a choice and are forced into it, you better get with the program or get the dickens out, some way, some how, as you are probably on the wrong side. To feel good about yourself be true to your school, or go to a different school that you can agree to abide.

 For me, it is my ball I bring to the game. Just don't foul my ball, and I won't foul yours.

 If comes my way a hail and fury of bullets I will send them back or render them harmless, until there is no more danger and no more warring. When time affords I'll put wreathes on the gravestones to acknowledge the fallen for their good show.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

On Alaska - The First Chapter

An Alaskan Boy, A bush Pilot Dad, In the Last Frontier

Chapter 1
A New Adventure

     We journey to Alaska when I am nine. In meaningful respects I'd never leave it. They say, once an Alaskan, always an Alaskan, and maybe it is so. Maybe it is just a larkish Alaskan saying to mystify the uninitiated.

     Certainly this is so for my Father, being an Alaskan Bush Pilot who dies on the job. He leaves behind a mountain named after him, and that is about as “always an Alaskan” as it gets.

     This story takes us back to when the Alaskan experience began for me. Roll back the shrouds of time to 1959…

     Dad has already crashed a helicopter at Glacier Bay, during the summer. He wants more of Alaska. He wants to move north. The adventuresome move promises to be exciting and dangerous. The danger only makes it more exciting.

     This is about me, Robert L. Gisel, Bob for short, and Charles A Gisel, Jr. I am his third and youngest child. For all of my nine years, my Dad has been working for the Army Air Corps. His life is taking to the air for a living, and teaching others the same, that they may gain the same wanderlust for the mystic reaches of the flight accessible heavens. In the emerging age of gurus he is not that, he is simply a flight instructor.

     That by itself is adventuresome. Rookie pilots can be tractable, make big mistakes, and test one’s patience to the fullest. You have to be a better pilot than the lot and out-guess the most unpredictable before it happens.

     Traveling often to new places is my upbringing. A frequent move to another state is the mandate of Father's job as a Civilian Flight Instructor for the US Army. Last it was to visions of cow punching cowboys in Texas. That vision was a bust: we never saw any cowboys, unless you can count the rodeo cowboys in the stadium. But there have been armadillos and creepy snakes. Snakes in our cotton field, our well, and floating down our swimming river.

     The Water Moccasin, also called Cottonmouth, can swim, which is probably how one comes to be in our water well attached to the house. He must have swum in through the feeder stream. Dad rigs a noose on a broomstick and fishes him out and kills it with our whole family looking on. It is a good thing, its next destination was to come out in our toilet, I imagine. Now that I know to watch for that, that I’ll never get caught with my pants down ever again. Not a good place to get bit.

     The favorite swimming hole is in the San Marcos River. This is where I take swimming lessons and get the card saying I am a certified swimmer. When someone yells, “Snake!” we all climb out and watch the Cottonmouth weave down the surface of the river where we were just frolicking. What if the safety guard person hadn’t seen the slimy critter? I shudder thinking of it.

     Our first residence in Texas is in a farmhouse on the edge of a cotton field. We don’ run the farm, we just rent the house. One day the cotton pickers, whom we have never met, migrant workers, come to the house and the lady wants to borrow our car. Another gal has been bitten by a poisonous snake in the field and needs to be rushed to the hospital. Trust is a quick call in a crisis. Mom hands them the keys to our car.

     Will she live? Will they bring back our car? Both happen. Life is exciting at times, the kind of life lessons you remember forever.

     Relocating to the far off land of Alaska now, this alludes to the kind of different we have been looking for. This is Terra Esonis, whatever that means. It's Russian explorers after furs and gold miners pursuing the elusive gold. The warring Alaskan Indians might raid your camp at any time and the wilderness is full of ferocious animals. Life is more fun with a vivid imagination.

     The ancient map of the world by the Dutch cartographer Carel Allard depicts good definition everywhere in North America except for the indefinite, elongated east to west coastline named only Terra Esonis, where Alaska ought to be. I find out this is Latin for unknown land, seen a lot on antique maps of unexplored frontiers. For most of history, and in many respects still, this has been the only title appropriate for this far north and significantly remote territory where explorers roam.

     We have to look it up in our Encyclopedia Britannica. It is a new set, but not new enough to announce it as no longer a U.S. Territory. Here we find pictures from the mining days and remnants of Russian occupation, everything needed to give creative young minds the vivid impression of heading back to the wild gold rush days.

     How we come to move there, and that we even make it there at all, is a story unto itself, Alaska already showing its lure and its allusiveness. The catalyst is the way Dad’s job is administered by the Army.

     The Army’s rule for its flight instructors (for any Army for that matter) is to transfer them every eighteen months, lest they become too attached to an area and resist the next transfer. For me, a kid still growing up, a new place is exciting and provokes my imagination. But then, I don't really have to shoulder the burden of moving, I'm baggage, and a mini front-end loader.

     We lived in Texas two and a half years. While it seems the eighteen month rule was simply violated, the real reason Dad does not choose to make the next move for the Army, to Alabama, is that we have been there. Before Texas was Kansas and before that was Alabama, Oklahoma and Kansas, all since I was born.

     Truthfully, it wasn't very exciting in rainy Montgomery and no one in the family wanted to go back to live there again. The saying is, if it rains on Monday it will rain all the rest of the week. That is not bad if you like it wet. There is a more pungent reason for shunning Alabama.

     Here is a place you are expected to heed the status quo and avoid non-conformity. Mom was forced to hired a black maid, or be thoroughly outcast in ostracism from the other military wives. That is what you had to do, set up a household and have a black maid. This is seriously messed up.

     The maid was a nice lady with folk values and color has no special significance for me. The slave owner mentality of the southern whites, however, is suffocating.

     What we want is to go forth to the bold and brazen eye-popping excitement and rousing adventure from something very different and new. We want to pioneer a unique experience of individuality, one where people aren’t black or white or red but are individuals deserving of consideration and respect. Status quo doesn’t fit into this kind of life style.

     You get pretty good at flying when you train others.  Dad rates for a number of different aircraft, planes and helicopters, proving he can really dance in the air. The papers from the Army claim he is “an exceptional, one of a kind pilot”. A move back to Alabama, however, isn't in the picture for us and Dad seeks new employment.

     The job he finds with Era Copters out of San Francisco lures him to a contract in Glacier Bay, Alaska. The Japanese Glaciologists are exploring the glaciers for the summer. What could be so interesting about ice is beyond me, but evidently it has something to do with ice worms and climate trends.

     Dad's job is simply to get them around to where they can do their research work, and do this in the extreme and variable conditions. There are special hazards of flying airplanes in Alaska. It is even more so with helicopters, with the extremes of weather and topography, especially in the vicinity of glaciers, of which Glacier Bay is overabunding. The suggestion that it might be dangerous only elicits that calm look of his,
framed by his crew cut, straight at you with a faint, confident smile.

     Father, being an adventuresome spirit, is made for the job. People pay good money for tour boat excursions for a day of viewing the massive glacier front. Now Dad gets paid to spend an entire summer there. This is adventure. Who knows what is going to happen.

     The phenomena that Dad encounters in Glacier Bay is called a white-out. Given loose snow and high winds the flurry results in a complete lack of directional and dimensional orientation. The high velocity of the propeller back wash and a fresh snow causes a sudden snow storm on landing. All you can see below, above, and all around is white.

     With visual orientation gone it seems he is going forward when he is going backwards and the tail rudder touches the ground ice. With that gone the copter spins into the ground and beats itself apart with the rotors.

    When he shows me the picture of the wreck, it is unrecognizable as once a helicopter. “How did you walk away from that?” 

     He says, “I just unstrapped and stepped out.” I'm impressed.

     He doesn't lose his job over this. Apparently you are really only part of the group when you have had a good crash you can tell about. Now he is an official Bush Pilot.

     Dad takes the airlines back to San Francisco and picks up another helicopter and flies it back to Alaska to finish out the contract. He takes my sister Sheryl with him for the ride up the West Coast and they have many long conversions of father and daughter bonding. I’m jealous. Then she flies back to Texas on the airlines.

     In Glacier Bay a method is devised to deal with white-out on landing. The Hiller 12-E cockpit is basically a floorboard with a Plexiglas bubble all around. Behind the bench seat is a vertical firewall separating the cockpit from the engine. It is a magic carpet ride, with a bubble around it.

     Opening the door on the right side, the passenger can stick a stovepipe out towards the ground and pour lamp black down the pipe to leave a black streak to demark the ground. This works. He can land, an important part of flying.

     Another day Dad comes a little too close to the ground and the flurry of wind blows the lamp black back up the pipe. Now he has a black-out – inside the bubble. 

     He gains height and hovers by instruments while his passengers, the glaciologists, clear some vision in the bubble. Not a perfect world, right?

     He has learned there is abundant adventure to be found in Alaska. Maybe we'll be saved from a boring Alabama.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blind Vision

by Robert L. Gisel

The subdued atmosphere of the tavern is interrupted by the fellow bumping his way in. He brushes into tables, spilling drinks, and gropes the back of several people until his hand finds an open stool at the bar. 

"Oh man!" he says. "My eye sight gets worse every day. Pretty soon I'm going to have to get a seeing eye dog."

The bartender stands in front of him and checks him out, the flutter of his eyelids and the dead stare of the man's eyes just over the bartender's right shoulder. "You live near by?"

"20 miles down the road. If I didn't hear so well I wouldn't be able to drive over here."


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A New View Of Obituaries

by Robert L. Gisel 

 Having followed the Facebook discussion of  "In Loving Memory - Friends of Juneau - Past and Loved" something struck me very hard. It is the matter of Legacy. Into this Christmas time of cheer and giving I now write.

 This bloke is still kicking strong and I do not plan to leave anytime soon, but my dear friends please, please, say nothing at all of my eventual passing if it would only be a lame eulogy of, he was born there..lived survived by...and he was such a nice guy. If I have done nothing outrageous enough to have been noticed, nothing remarkable that has furthered the lives of others, if I haven't positively impacted the future, then say nothing at all. Dump my ashes in a dumpster, delete all memories from your hard drive, and move on to better horizons.

 It would be a poor commentary of a lifetime not to have contributed in some notable way. A hermit is known for nothing but the amazement of others one could live a life so long so alone. To put something in the world deserving of a name and positive reflection by many is the best Legacy.

 But if all has gone to hell in a hand basket by the time I pass on do not derogate me to whence you might some day regret. As it is I am not unaware, in my small take on omniscience, there have been some divergent opinions of me I am unconcerned about. What does concern me may be regarded by some as most unbelievable. Yet it must be said, with due regard to the emotions it may stir in others, damn the torpedoes.

 You see, there is a secret I have repeatedly had to remind my elders and peers, all now being of the age that we will sooner or later, possibly sooner than later, discard the body. When I am "gone" I will still be here watching you at the funeral. So will you be at yours, if you want to be. 

 It is the biggest surprise to one not prepped for it to discover life after death, to find that the body may be most dead but that you are still here, thinking, perceiving and moving around, alive. Millennium of metaphysics subjects and religions have attempted to answer this question and generally pushed it off as unknowable. Don't buy it.

 Consider this, despite your beliefs, your religion, a lifetime of indoctrination to the contrary, as the case may be, if only for the moments of reading this writing. Body death is not death for the being, the person himself, YOU. You can count on this. You are a being, a spirit, an immortal life. You have a body, but you are not your body. This may run against the grain of disbelievers but it is an easily demonstrable fact. People who talk of out-of-body experiences may not have been hallucinating or in a delusional drug experience but possibly have experienced this piece of truth.

 This I told to my sister who didn't believe it. Not long before her death, however, she said to me that she was beginning to believe , though "you may not believe it," she had come to to think there might be something beyond death. "Come to me when you eventually die, and by simply 'being there' you can find me and I will help you," I told her. She did, and I oriented her to her new state of affairs, much to her great satisfaction. True story.

 My dear friend Holly Sanders from Juneau and I had many fascinating conversations at the window of his drive-in burger stand. He told me of his near death experience. He "died", went through the various "between life" experiences that have been reported by others, grayness, the light, the long tunnel, until he came to the cognition that his wife could not raise his children without him and he had to go back. He did so, but says "the body was as cold and as clammy as could be", that it took some bit of doing to bring it back to life.

 My school chums from High School have variously remarked, sometimes in complete disbelief, of their ideas of the vector my life took after my college years. Three life changing factors explain this completely. 

 First off, doing some powerful exercises to restore my recall abilities I started recalling past lives, completely aware and fully sober. When you remember a genuine incident in vivid detail with all its powerful emotions you come to know the truth of the matter: you were there.

 Secondly, when I jumped out of the Army truck to face the Induction Center a wave of recognition struck me. This was the exact same Induction Center, at Ft. Leonard Wood, where I was for my last lifetime Army Air Force Basic Training. I knew this place intimately that I had "never been to". I could tell you where "building G" was, go there and it would be there.  Where I had been viewing life from 1/4 inch of memory my existence now spanned a comparative potential of 300 yards.

 This confirmed past lives for me but it also confirmed exteriorization, known as the out-of-body experience, as I also started bopping in and out of my body at that very moment.

 When you really know something you know it. Where are you right now? Be three feet in back of your head. If you do that you'll will never again question it. It happened for me like this: I started to move up four to five feet above my head while in a rational, sober and knowing frame of mind.

 One day in Douglas, Alaska, practicing with Bedrock, Richie Poor's band that I played base guitar with, this was demonstrated to me personally. It was an unmistakable out-of-body experience. The song really had me rocking and in error my heal hit the volume on my bass amp cranking it up to max. This resulted in an immediate loud feedback stopping the band in its music playing. The other thing this dramatic and unexpected occurrence did is throw me out of the body. I popped "out of me head", to the ceiling, and back into my head, several times in a row. 

 When you sit on the ceiling and see the environment from this perspective, for real, the truth of it is unmistakable. You aren't THERE, you are HERE, and your body is over THERE. You know where you are. Knowledge is certainty. 

 Then our drummer originated he had had such an experience. Driving in his car, he suddenly found himself out of the window looking in at the side of his head. He was on drugs though, so he wrote it off as hallucination.

  The problem with a drug experience is that it can be a different deal altogether. Poisoning the body, which is what drugs do, causes a sort of near death experience. Mind altering drugs are supposed to give the thrill of  psychedelic experience. A rope becomes a live snake, the world turns purple or into a glitter of of firefly pin lights playing to the music and all manner of false perceptions can occur. What confuses the matter even more is that the drug poisons also force one out of the body where, being exterior, one might perceive life for real from the viewpoint of a disembodied being. Amidst all manner of drug induced hallucination it gets hard to tell reality from delusion.

 After death the issue gets stranger yet to the uneducated, that you can converse with other beings in the same plight but the people still holding onto a body for the most part can't hear you. The movie Heaven Can Wait is technically correct in this light. 

 After my father died mother told me of this incident the next morning. Dad had come to her in the night and "sat on the foot of the bed just as real and as lifelike as could be". He didn't say anything to her, however, and that freaked her out.

 The truth is, a being without a body does not have vocal chords. He communicates telepathically. So do we actually, but we believe that without vocalization we can can't perceive others thoughts. So mother very possibly got specific telepathic communication from father but, being out of practice, could not tell the difference between her thoughts and his.

 When you have been thrust suddenly (over a years time, if that isn't sudden enough) into these truths one's view of reality takes on a different vector. What is truly important changes in a big way.

 Thus my life went much differently that the expected. The way of life dictating one go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house with 2 cars, and retire after 30 years no longer seemed high in importance. Having been doing that very thing, lifetime after lifetime after lifetime without end, it was time to take a broader view. What was now sometimes viewed as my having gone off the deep end to a cult (not), or into complete diversity from this wild and free rebel I had demonstrated in High School, was in fact the obvious conclusion of this major rise in knowingness.

 Some of the most unknown and presumably unknowable mysteries of the universe had fallen into my possession. What would you do with such knowledge?

 Which brings us back to the opening statement, Legacy. In my mind there has to be one. Since growing up in Juneau I have had some notable physical accomplishments, such as the state-of-the-art music studio for which I did the architectural sound engineering and the blueprints drawn for the award winning historical restoration of an eight story hotel.

 Even more important to me has been life changing wins I have orchestrated to graduates of a course I delivered and through personal counseling I have provided. Hundreds of lives and careers were propelled to much greater heights from my activities. 

 This is what this supposed "cult" (more knowledge of life in the universe than anything you have ever experienced) did for the greater scheme of things in my life. At the lowest levels one becomes better able to communicate with others and to get along better in life. At the higher levels one comes to know much more. My personal leaps in  knowingness and ability beyond my wildest dreams are inconsequential to those gains I helped bring to others.  

 If one realizes that one lives on after the declared death, this puts ones life decisions in a new light. You will reap what you sow, in the flesh of your next lifetime. You don't go around just once. This salacious fact becomes very evident to you: you will be there in the future, so it is a good idea to think more considerately of the long range scheme of things you will inherit.

 That you now know that I know these things expect more of me, and if I don't perform fire me, then look forward to the next first draft pick. Hopefully though, my Legacy will stand out in the field of dreams. 

 Here's to you and your Legacy as well.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Erudite Wikipedia

by Robert L. Gisel

 Wikipedia is becoming unusable by the bulk of the people that have need of discovery through an encyclopedia.

 The subjects are being written, evidently, as something like PHD Doctorate Thesis papers. Or as scientific studies. The articles defining terms are increasingly post graduate studies level discourses. In order to understand one I have to clear up one or two dozen definitions, each of which has multiple words also having to be cleared. All this just to get to point where I can explain it to someone else in lay terms, and I am well educated.

 A layman to a subject, even an educated man in other subjects, will get swamped in misunderstood terms fast. This is specifically so on any terms listed having any relationship to any branch of science.


 -- Acne: You have to be a physicist to read the textual nomenclature.
 -- Anti-oxidants: For scientists only: technical nomenclature defines nomenclature endlessly.
 -- Free Radicals: Redirects to Radicals, collapses the definitions amid scientific terms.
 -- Aloe Vera: Contains false and conflicting data, apparently someones attempt to discredit a millennium of healing support.
 -- Blood Vessels: Call for a forensic pathologist or biologist as soon as you go to Anatomy.
 -- Internal Elastic Lamina: Why not just call it straight -- everyone has heard of Spandex.

 Get my point?

 A straightforward explanation that can be easily understood would make the Wikipedia accessible to nearly anyone. Then you can cut into the erudite scientific treatise for those who are doing graduate studies. 

 Evidently no one is monitoring its public input against a consistent standard. There is no consideration of its general usability and workability.

 I'm smart enough when I am patient enough to slog through links and get a basic understanding of terms, enough to get a conceptual understanding. Many of the people of whom I know would have trouble wading through an increasing number of the listings. Is this simply the product of lofty intellectuals who want to impress their fellow atomic scientists? Or is it deliberate to make the encyclopedia works worthless to anyone not holding a PHD?

 Time to bring out the old Encyclopedia Britannica. I just want to do research for a blog, not write a dissertation.

 Last year I put up a blog post to forward their message to help with donations. This year I'm considering retracting it. It is getting to be no longer feasible to use the Wikipedia as a first stop on a research trail.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Self Assured Quality

by Robert L. Gisel

 Manure happens, so it is always a good idea to check your work. With a broom and a shovel handy.

 Another read, with yet another missed comma, wrong side of the homonym, or any of a zillion potential typos -- it never ceases to amaze how an error can still show up after so many edits.

 Nevertheless, this very important activity is too often brushed off. QC (Quality Control), a quality check on the work you just did, can set you apart as a professional.

 When omitted, when even one error sneaks through, stature and reputation for your works take a dive.

 Of course, for the writer this means using the spell and grammar checking tools, as well as editing out verbosity and needless stating of the obvious. This advice would seem ever so hackneyed, but it is surprising how often one sees errors in misplaced wording that would make the publisher choke. Like using "there" for "their".

 "Refudiate" is okay as long as you know you are doing it. When you coin a word like "scenarama", propose it to Wikionary with your article as the reference and make it official.

 This is true irony for someone who used to think a spellchecker was someone who sat in your lap. You embrace the tech so you can concentrate on the fun things like creative style and clever insight. While you embrace the spellchecker who sits in your lap.

 A good once-over applies to works of any kind. It is a wise person who returns to view the constructed scene as if a "newbie", and make needed adjustments before you close the hood, turn out the lights to go home, hit the send button, or make that next chess move. It is a checkmate that you want, in all your works.

 The trick for the author is to give it a fresh read from not your own viewpoint, but to see it as if a different person entirely, and one who is seeing it for the first time. You simply consider what would QC observe if QC were looking it over.

 You can also do this trick from the viewpoint of the eventual consumer, considering how it comes across as communication to the recipient. Reading the text aloud helps spot anomalies in grammar or unclear meaning.

 This little step, wearing one's hat as the Quality Control person, can make all the difference in ensuring the craftsmanship and the professionalism is complete.

 So, check your work, before the manure hits the fan.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Adds To the Bloggers Dictionary For Un-Bloggers

by Robert L. Gisel

Computer Dummies and Un-Bloggers need to define their terms. And preserve a sense of humor.

Apple (T) : Apples are apples and oranges are oranges. (Do I have to define everything for you?)  

Google (1): v. The Ouija Board went high tech.

Google (2): Grandmother interfaces with the latest Grandchild. 

Google (3): Hearty attempt to eat dinner after dental surgery. 

Google Profile: The girl is so stunning you can't look at her, and you get any words out of your mouth either.

Social Media: News reporters you wouldn't be afraid to have a few too many beers with.

Search Engines: Take off from Steven King novel and Hollywood movie "Christine"; now the train locomotives get their day on the big screen. (Hear the background music?) 

SEO: Some 'Ere Over the rainbow. 

WWW: Blog WhoWouldWrite. (Didn't notice that did you?) 

World Wide Web: After Hitchcock's movie "The Birds" came one about spiders on the international scene. 

Internet: High tech props on loan to weave diverse intercourse anywhere and everywhere.

Computer (1): Cyber marketer who is always calculating to get all of your pennies. 

Computer (2): The new generations' grapevine; keeping in touch without actually having to confront anyone.

Log On, Log Off: Contestants in a logrolling competition.

Cursor: Un-Blogger attempting a new task on the computer.

Going Viral: Extreme event; when you should have used a mouth wash.

Hard Drive: The bigger the truck, the harder to drive.

Software: The plastic eating utensils that come with your take-out order.

In all fairness if you want the stiff shirt version of these terms try WikipediA.


More Dictionary: