Monday, July 17, 2006

The Letter

The following is a letter that I have written to my biological mother. A physical copy of this letter exists in the hands of a confidential intermediary, who waits for the opportunity to share it with the woman that gave me up thirty six years ago.

“I have no desire to meet my biological parents.”

That was the standard disclaimer that I used each time someone would quiz me about how I could live without knowing my birth parents. There was never a question of finding my biological parents. It was just something I was certain I would never do.

That all changed with a single decision.

The desire to search for my biological mother started in earnest when I received the non-identifying information that by law was available to me as an adoptee. I had requested this information in the hopes that I could learn something about my family medical history. My wife and I have four young children – we both felt it made sense to find out as much information as we could about the possible health issues that might exist within my genealogy. The non-identifying information, as could be expected, was not current enough to provide the comprehensive medical background I had hoped for. It did, however, provide me with plenty of other information to digest.

As an adopted child, I learned to take certain things for granted. I implicitly understood that I would never know who I got my eyes from; or why my nose crooked ever slightly to the left. I accepted that ‘God’ must have blessed me with the ability to play sports at a high level as opposed to genetic predisposition. The question of Nature versus Nurture had no semantic meaning to me. I had no roots.

Receiving the non-identifying information changed this. It was the metaphorical opening of Pandora’s Box. With the simple arrival of a letter, the ground had given way and my roots had – ever so slightly – been exposed. My biological mother was 5’2”! She was the oldest of five children and had been twenty-seven at the time I was born (and sixty-two-ish today). All of this information was fascinating to me, and yet it was the paragraph at the end that contained the biggest surprise.

I had a full-biological brother.

A seismic shift had occurred within me. I did desire to find out about my past. I would like to meet both my mother and my brother. I have no idea – no preconceived notion – of what that meeting would be like. I simply know I would like it to occur.

I’ve had a great life. My adoptive family has given me all the love that a son could ever want. My wife and our children provide a rich and fulfilling environment that I am blessed with each day. It would be nice to share the experiences of my life with the person that carried me in her womb for nine months. It’s only fitting that I thank her for having had the courage to give me up so that I could experience this life.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Special Ed

The snow beneath me was red.

It wasn’t supposed to be – a fact that my throbbing nose told me was no longer relevant. Crimson droplets of blood flowed in a steady march downward from my left nostril. Usually, this would be cause for immediate action – a bit of ice, perhaps a swab of cotton stuffed slightly up the nose. Unfortunately (and if I were to be honest; humiliatingly), immediate action of a different type was required.

A circle of howling adolescents weaved loosely around me in a sloppy version of the center ring of a circus. I was the ringmaster, I thought wryly. I had called the thunder and with it had come the lightning. Across from me, tongue protruding lazily, was my opponent. Only moments ago, he played the role of unsuspecting antelope to my predatory lion. How swiftly that had changed with the rap of his knuckles upon the bridge of my nose. Who’s the antelope now, bitch?

The crowd, to include several people I considered good friends, was frenzied. The sight of blood made them giddy, or perhaps it had been the surprising change of events. They sensed it too, of course, the momentous occasion. I could hear it in their voices, as I struggled to clear the cobwebs from my brain.

“Over here! Over hear! Mike’s fighting with Eddy!”

“Eddie popped him in the nose! He’s bleeding! He’s bleeding!”

“Go Eddie, kick his ass!”

I looked warily at my mark. His bulging eyes stared back at me. Where moments before I saw fear, there was now something that approached joy. This was all new to him. The people, they chanted his name. Never before had my quarry been revered by the masses – this was his moment.

Edward ‘Special Ed’ Grimly was a special needs child.

Not slightly impaired. Not unusually dense. I’m talking full blown, ride-the-short-bus retarded. He was, in fact, so slow that the school staff had to place his picture on the boys’ bathroom door to lure him into the correct location. His educational needs were taken care of by a separate faculty, and for the most part (with the exception of Physical Ed and lunch) he was isolated from the general population.

This was a good thing, as adolescent boys in particular take great joy in tormenting any and all that vary from the cookie-cutter mold of conformity.

Today was to be no different.

Why did I pick this fight, you may ask? To be honest, I was asking myself the same question. It seemed so straightforward, at the time. The organizational chart that defines the pecking order of our school dictated that, in order for me to move upward I had to either defeat someone in battle, or sexually conquer one of our female classmates. The second option being satisfactorily terrifying enough that I figured the surest way to ascend the popularity tree was through physical might. As I am not what one may call ‘imposing’, it was vital to pick an opponent that I could effectively beat into submission, while ensuring a minimum level of danger to my face – which was my best feature.

Clearly I had not chosen well.

Special Ed descended upon me, fists flying like the pistons in an early model Mustang.

“Who was this madman?” I asked silently, while flopping into fetal position and whimpering as quietly as I could. This was the same guy that, four out of five days, couldn’t walk down the hallway without falling over himself. He carries a teddy bear in school, for god’s sake! I’m getting my ass kicked by a teddy bear-toting simpleton!

The worst part of this wasn’t the physical pain. I could see the crowd, during the brief moments when Special Ed would briefly pause to open another can of whoop ass. The looks on their faces told a story I didn’t want to hear. I was finished at this school. In my overzealousness I had miscalculated. This was much worse than simply losing a fight, or even being turned down by the lead cheerleader. This was popularity suicide.

Finally - mercifully! – it was over. Eddy tired out, a champ having expended his all. He stood tall, screeching at me as spittle sprang from his mouth like a geyser.

“I’m not wee-tarted! I’m special!”

His words rained down upon my bruised and battered ego. Other taunts could be heard from the mob, but I tuned out. I was unwilling to go to the dark places those mocking words would take me. Gingerly, I picked myself off the frozen tundra. I wiped what I could of the congealing blood from my face, and slowly walked away, the crowd giving way to me as if I were Moses parting the Red Sea. “Except Moses would have owned Special Ed.” I thought darkly to myself.

Later, as I walked home, I took mental stock of my injuries. Other than the swollen nose, I didn’t seem to be in too bad of shape. In his fury, many of Ed’s most powerful blows had missed their mark. Plus, I had turtle-ed up so effectively that I hadn’t left much for him to hit. My back would feel it in the morning.

“Mike…Mike.. wait up!” a voice cried in the distance.

Todd hurriedly scampered across the road to where I was slouching.

“Dude, did you really get your ass kicked by Special Ed?” he asked, still breathless from the jaunt.

Not trusting my voice, I simply shrugged my shoulders and turned quickly away.

“That’s hilarious, man. The whole school is talking about it. I’ve never seen Ed so happy. He actually did a little shadow boxing prior to getting on the bus this afternoon. He ended up in a snow bank – it was great.”

“Sounds wonderful.” I mumbled. It just gets better. I got whomped by a kid that can’t box the air without falling down.

“Dude, don’t let it bother you. It was unlucky – that’s all. Maybe you could get him in a rematch. Or challenge him to a spelling bee.”

Tired of the mocking, I reached my street and waived a solitary finger at Todd.

My life sucks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Bibbs 2.0

I had a cat when I was little.

We were tight; Bibbs and I, the stuff ABC After-School special were made of. Being an only child, he was like a brother to me – albeit a brother that constantly pooped in the geraniums.

But who doesn’t have a family member that’s done that?

For hours on end, we would play kitty hide-and-seek – a game which required me to withhold food from Bibbs until he was hungry enough to search me out whilst I shook the can of Pounce in a tantalizing manner. Good times.

We grew up together – went through the angst-filled years of adolescence as a pair. We even struggled with the same painful demons. I’ll never forget the tearful family intervention upon finding an ounce of Peruvian catnip stuffed under his favorite scratching post.

To this day, I can envision ‘geriatric’ Bibbs, hobbling to the doorway of our home to see me off to the military – paw raised in a furry salute. Excuse me a moment while I tremble with emotion. Is it misty in here? You bet.

The military was like was a rebirth for me. Structure and order were given to a life that was until then – aimless. It’s not surprising that I missed the warning signs in my calls home to Dad. But I do remember the final call.

“Hey Dad, how are thing’s back home?” I asked.

“Fine, fine… all is well here.” He replied.

“How’s Bibbs doing? Put him on the phone, will ya? I want to tell him about all the rodents here in the barracks, he’ll love it.”

“Umm… Bibbs isn’t feeling well. There’s been an accident with the Oriental rug, a bit of pee if you must know. He’s heavily sedated right now.”

“Sedated?” I queried.

“Well not so much sedated as dead. Yes, dead would be a way of putting it. He’s dead, so to speak.”

“Umm, ok. Just tell him I’ll call lat….er, He’s what??? Dead? He’s dead, you say? What the hell?”

My various platoon mates were looking at me a bit oddly. Luckily my Drill Sergeant wasn’t around; he wasn’t a fan of emotional outbursts.

“Michael, Bibbs was a very old cat. It was his time – there was nothing I could do about it.” My father placidly stated.

“H-h-how did he die?”

“He died peacefully, in his sleep.”

“In his sleep? Naturally?” a wave of relief washed over me, at least this sounded dignified.

“Well, more of a chemical-induced sleep – to be precise. It was very lovely. The doctor said he didn’t feel a thing once the kitty gas mask was placed on his snout. Getting it on was a struggle, boy, let me tell you… he was a fighter, that Bibbs. I still have the scratch marks.”

“Chemical induced? You let Dr. Kevorkian euthanize my cat? With a gas mask?”

I don’t remember much more. I woke up in the infirmary – apparently I had blacked out from the stress. The nurse mentioned that I had been mumbling the words to the Meow Mix commercial while I slept – Bibbs favorite song.

There’s a point to this post, and as soon as I remember what it is, I’ll get to it.

Ah yes. The point is I loved that cat. To this day, I’ve never had another animal be his equal. When perusing the local paper today I came upon an article about a man who had his deceased cat cloned, for the reasonable price of $50,000 USD.

Fifty thousand dollars? A mere pittance to be reunited with the cat of all cats, a veritable Prince of Purr-sia, if you will. The only problem is we’ve long since moved from my childhood home where he was buried. Nonetheless, I will let nothing get in my way of securing some choice Bibbs DNA for the replica process. Bibbs 2.0 – coming to a litter box near you.

Tonight, I dig for you, old friend. Let old bones be free!

Your Pal Mike Responds - Question #7

This is the seventh post in a series that started here. Questions are still being accepted, feel free to ask one yourself.

So I was lying in bed yesterday with an ice pack on my face, thinking about ice. I had just finished having oral surgery (no, surprisingly, not to have my foot removed), so I was swollen and grumpy and medicated. And cold. Man, was my face cold, which got me thinking about ice. I'm hoping you can help.

It's fairly common knowledge that the vast majority of the size of an iceberg is located below the water line. So let's say that your regular household ice maker makes ice that has roughly the same composition as your basic iceberg. Plunk a chunk of ice into a glass of water and you'll notice that only the thinnest slice of the cube is poking its icy little mast above the waterline. Here's my question: Is this ice cube and its relative position to the water line in my glass a general representation of how an iceberg of the same composition would "float" in the ocean? (For the purposes of this question, please assume that I like to drink really salty water.)

Titanic question Jim!

Your Pal Mike responds:

Water is one of the few substances that is less dense in solid form than in it's liquid state.

The density of water follows a curve, from 50° C to 4° C it gets heavier, until at 4° C it reaches a maximum density of 1 gram per cm3. When water gets colder than 4° C it begins to get lighter, reaching 0.9998425 grams per cm3 at 0° C.

In more understandable terms, an example:

If you were to take a 2 liter bottle of refrigerated water and weigh it (taking the weight of the bottle out of the equation, of course) it would weigh 2 kilograms. Were you to freeze that same bottle and weigh it again, it would weigh 2 grams less.

Add to this the salinity of seawater, which will make the water heavier (salty ocean water weighs 1.025 grams per cm3), and you have all the makings of a cool movie about a luxury liner that runs smack into an iceberg.

So the answer to your question is ‘Yes’. The ice cube in your water is a direct parallel to an iceberg in the ocean, except that the iceberg will actually be a bit more buoyant, due to the increased density of salt water.

BTW – this property of water is what allows you out-of-work professional hockey players to skate around on the frozen pond in your back yard. Were ice to be heavier than water, ponds would freeze from the bottom up – not very useful for the future Wayne Gretzkys’ of the world.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Abortion - the new adoption?

1970 was a great year to be an unwanted fetus.

Take it from me. I remember swimming around with my little webbed feet basking in the warm darkness that was my support pod. Something didn’t feel right. The muffled voices I hear aren’t soft and soothing. And the stress vibes – wow! Yet I’ve made it this far; that’s a good thing. There are rumors – cells love to gossip – floating around about embryo’s that never make it this far. The Big Flush, if you know what I mean. None of that for me though. Just like Diana Ross – I’m coming out.

And I did.

Not unlike the 175,000 other adopted children that year, I made my way from womb to caring family. Never before, or since, did you have a better chance of going from big mistake to happy household. The Supreme Court would legalize unrestricted abortions on January 22, 1973.

1970 was the high-mark for adoptions in the US.

Here are some figures to chew on:

  • The number of children born to single mothers has doubled since 1970.

  • The number of illegitimate births has nearly tripled since 1970.

  • The number of abortions has increased by twofold since 1973 (the first year statistics were kept).

  • The number of adoptions has decreased since 1970. They have stayed relatively constant from year to year (ranging between 118,000 and 127,000 since 1987).

It seems to me, that the majority of unwanted pregnancies are choosing between:

  1. Abortion.

  2. Raising the child in an unhappy environment.

Why is this?

Here’s my uneducated theory.

Abortion is a ‘do over’. It’s like a giant reset button on the video game of life. “Damnit, Mario got smacked down by a mushroom on level 1, hit the reset button, Billy.” Other than the moral leftovers, there’s no evidence of what occurred. Healing begins in the parking lot of the clinic – added bonus for not having to wear maternity clothing!

Adoption on the other hand is like quitting – and nobody likes a quitter. You’ve got the added bonus of knowing there’s a creature out in the world that could eventually find its way back to you – which sounds an awful lot like every horror movie ever made. Who wants to end up on Maury Povich having a tearful reunion with Frankenchild? Not this guy!

There are some that are unfit to raise children, yet still don’t choose adoption. These fall into several categories:

  • “It’ll be a great excuse to kick this annoying crack habit I have.” demographic.

  • “Whoohoo, I smell a welfare increase!” demographic.

  • “Eeeeny, meeeny, miiiiny, moe… pick the father by his toe!” demographic.

  • “I hit her, because I love her.” demographic.

  • “I’m not the father type, I’m more the have sex and leave type.” demographic.

All these proven winners can’t seem to see that raising a child in their version of Shangri-la is not going to result in the next American Idol winner, let alone bring about world peace (which I believe in my heart of hearts that an American Idol winner will do someday – one song at a time).

Enough rambling, if there’s anyone out there I haven’t offended, I’d like to hear your opinion on the matter.

Why isn’t adoption chosen more frequently?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Your Pal Mike Responds - Question #6

This is the sixth post in a series that started here. Questions are still being accepted, feel free to ask one yourself.

Question:How to correctly imagine inpredictable reality (the one we are in is predictable 'cause all our actions are predicted, to simplify, we have no choice but to walk our path), and is inpredictable reality better then the predictable one?

Relatively difficult question DeathBringer!

Your Pal Mike responds:

Unpredictable reality imagined:

"For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of a horse, the rider was lost;
For want of a rider, a message was lost;
For want of a message the battle was lost;
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost!"

Or, if you prefer: The Butterfly Effect.

This describes a dynamic, non-linear system - a system of Chaos. Because there is no nail, a kingdom is lost. How is this predictive? It's not. Small variations in initial conditions result in large-scale changes on the back end. Let me use an example from my workday to illuminate this:

I get hungry each morning. This is predictable, and as such, I have a predictable way of asserting control over my hunger. Each morning, I trot down to the cafeteria and pluck a tasty bagel from the bagel bin. It is a linear equation if you will:

Hungry Mike + Bagel = Happy Mike

However, today as I 'solved for Happy Mike' an anomaly occurred. Let's call her w (for whale). Sally entered my equation of happiness right in front of the bagel bin. She was boxing me out and shoveling bagels into what appeared to be a picnic basket. Apparently, the stock boy at Piggly Wiggly forgot to stock the Froot Loops. Now I'm fairly certain that the stock boy, sitting on a wooden pallet chain smoking Camels, didn't foresee his slovenly actions resulting in my being bagel-less.

So my version of the above goes like this:

"For want of a break, the Foot Loops weren't stocked;
For want of the Froot Loops the breakfast was lost;
For want of the breakfast the bagel was lost;
For want of a bagel the rest of my day sucked."

In all, I prefer a predictable reality. No one should be without their morning bagel.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Want to live forever? I don’t think so….

From Wired Issue 13.02

Nobody lives forever - but we're about to get a whole lot closer, says Aubrey de Grey, a controversial age theorist and a gene database manager at Cambridge University. In February's issue of the international journal Gerontology, the self-taught scientist argues that recent advances in our understanding of aging may allow today's sixtysomethings to reach their 1,000th birthdays.

Ok, de Grey later admits that he picked this number more for PR reasons then for reality. But let’s fixate on it for a moment – a thousand years old.

People want to live this long?


Think of the ramifications…

  • The average celebrity gets married once every **5 years – do we really want to stick around for Britney’s 195th walk down the aisle?

  • Forget same-sex marriages, by age 285 you’ll be ready to experiment with farm animals. And you think I’m kidding.

  • Martha Stewart Living….Forever.

  • Y3K bug.

Look, I’m not saying that some extra time on the ‘life clock’ wouldn’t be appreciated. I’m just not certain our current society is built to accommodate it. I mean, I’m still young and already bored with most TV programming. Can you imagine trying to entertain yourself for an extra 920 years?

Wife: “Honey, let’s go to Disneyland…”

Husband: “Seriously? We’ve been there twenty-seven f#$%ing times! I actually break out in a rash every time I hear that Mouseketeer song”

Husband: “M-I-C… See you in Hell, Mickey… K-E-Y… Why? Because I can’t wait to die. M-O-U-S-E”

Wife: “You’re always so negative. Nothing like my 10th husband – what’s his name again? I always have trouble remembering the second century.”

Husband: “You can’t remember this century, you airhead. If you could, you’d remember I hate f#$king Disneyland. In fact, I hate you as well, now that I think about it!”

Wife: “Well I hate you too! All you do all day is spend time with the farm animals! I’m divorcing you!”

Husband: “God, I haven’t felt this alive since my last divorce, you ten dollar hooker. Anger rules!”

Wife: “No kidding, let’s have a hotly contested split. Maybe we can drag out the emotion for a few more weeks, pin dick.”

Husband: “Pin dick? You try satisfying someone that’s given birth to the population of Guatemala. What’s amazing is that I was ever able to find the exit. So deep… so dark…”

Wife: “You make me so hot when you talk about me as a large cavernous Pit of No Return. Take me now!”

Husband: “And I love it when you speak of my manhood, which would be considered by our ancestors to be an ancient artifact, as a small needle-like tool. Let’s get it on!”

Hot loving ensues…

Husband: “Would you mind a threesome with the sheep?”

**Yes, I made this up.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Your Pal Mike Responds - Question #5

These posts are a series that started with this post. Questions are still being accepted, feel free to ask one yourself.

Question: Yes, I am in need of your help. I have a man, and I have kids, but I don't have Johnny Depp. I know he lives in France. Would it be wrong to mortgage the house, send the kids to boarding school, put my man on a cruise around the world and fly my ass abroad to hang out at the cafe near his house until he sees me and we marry? Also, I'm not all that fond of France, how can I overcome this?

Interesting conundrum Kim,

Your Pal Mike responds:

First things first, you need to get into the French way of thinking ASAP. This will help quell your distaste for France. Johnny’s never going to fall for you if you play the role of ‘Ugly American’. Lucky for you, the French lifestyle is easy to embrace.

*Here’s where to start:

  1. Yes, it’s true, don’t shower. Shaving is optional as well.

  2. As you walk down the street in your town, randomly spit on people. Make sure these people are American –depending on where you live, this might be tricky.

  3. Become hyper-sensitive about American policy. Frequently postulate about the ignorance of all Americans. Generalize, and use random nonsensical points like: They think the song ‘We are the World’ was just about them.

  4. Openly hate Bush.

*Again, these are tips for becoming French, not for becoming a Democrat.

Oh, and take up heroin, it’ll give you that sleek, urban look that Johnny finds irresistible. Don’t forget to hide the tracks!

Once in France and safely situated at the café of your choice, you’ll need that one last ingredient to reel in your fish. I’d recommend carrying a book like Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. It says ‘I’m hip’ without being too blatant. You don’t actually have to read it, just open it up and place whatever issue of US Weekly you happen to be reading inside. If someone questions you as to what the book is about, slowly place it on the table while giving them a look down your nose – a small chuckle will do you well here. Ask them if they are American. Light up a Gauloises and stare off into the street. Don’t answer – this is common behavior in France.

It won’t be long until Mr. Depp notices you. Hopefully from then on you’ll make beautiful music together.

Good luck with the heroin addiction!

Your Pal Mike Responds - Question #4

These posts are a series that started with this post. Questions are still being accepted, feel free to ask one yourself.

Question: What are your recommendations for obligatory Father's Day/ Mother's Day gifts from one's children to one's ex-spouse, particularly when the ex-spouse is a supreme jerk? Generally, I have found it best to choose items that appear to be nice presents to the casual observer, but are calculated to offend or annoy the recipient. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks for the question Mary in the Midwest,

Your Pal Mike responds:

Buying gifts for people you loathe can be a fun and rewarding experience. Books are the perfect gift, by all accounts they are nice to receive – but depending on your choice you can send a message that’s fun for the whole (dysfunctional) family.

How subtle you’ll need to be depends on how old the kids are, if they’re too young to read, try these:

Book 1
Book 2

These may be too blatant, or he may be a good dad and a jackass just to you. In that case, try this:

Book 3

And finally, here’s a present that will let him know exactly what you think of him (my personal favorite):


Hope one of these works out for you.

Your Pal Mike Responds - Question #3

These posts are a series that started with this post. Questions are still being accepted, feel free to ask one yourself.

Question: Here's something really boring, but I've been meaning to research it but have been too lazy to bother. So what's the deal with social security? They've been saying it's going to run out for years now so should I really be concerned (I'm 24) or is everyone simply blowing a bunch of smoke up my ass?

Tough question, Rebecca!

Your Pal Mike responds:

Whether you view Social Security as a problem or crises depends mostly on where you sit on the political fence. The word ‘crises’ is probably too strong a word, although it is a real issue that needs addressing.

First, how does the current system work? Social Security is mainly a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes are taken out of your paycheck and used to pay the benefits of the current batch of retirees. Currently, there is a surplus held in the US Treasury, but by 2018, payroll taxes alone will not cover the amount of benefits required to pay out, and thus the surplus will need to be tapped. Depending on whose report you read, sometime between 2042 and 2052 this surplus will be depleted. At this point, payroll taxes alone will only cover around 75% of the obligations.

Blame the Baby Boomers and an increased life expectancy for this.

A person of the age of twenty-four (read as: you) can expect to retire around 2050, assuming the retirement age isn’t increased (it will be). Even with an increased retirement age, this would put you right smack in the middle of the reduced benefits stage of Social Security – assuming nothing is done to fix it. There are many ways to fix it, raising the retirement age is one, increasing the amount of wages that are subject to Social Security tax is another (right now only the first $90,000 is taxed by Social Security). Most likely it will be a combination of these and other options – possibly personal retirement accounts.

The US is not a trail blazer in this area. Many counties do quite well offering their citizens privatized Social Security. Chili, Great Britain, and Sweden are among the many countries that offer some type of individual retirement account.

Because of the fear-mongering that will take place over Social Security reform (read as: AARP-induced elderly foaming at the mouth – and at the voting booth) Bush’s reform plan will probably fail. From a selfish standpoint, I hope it doesn’t. Those of us willing to take the step will have a better retirement for it.

Now Medicare, that's a crisis....

Your Pal Mike Responds - Question #2

These posts are a series that started with this post. Questions are still being accepted, feel free to ask one yourself.

Question: There are lots of words in English that end in -eer, and you can tell the root pretty easily (thus establishing some idea of the meaning of the word). For example: engine/engineer; election/electioneer; puppet/puppeteer. You get the point. So anyhow, everybody knows what a pioneer is, but what the hell is a pion?

Good question Alex,

Your Pal Mike responds:

The word pioneer is derived from the French word pionnier, or in Old French peonier which means foot soldier. The root of this word – peon – comes from Medieval Latin and can be loosely translated to mean one who has broad feet.

Thus, following this path we can gather that the root of the word pioneer is peon.


Somehow I don’t think Davy Crocket would be pleased.

Your Pal Mike Responds - Question #1

These posts are a series that started with this post. Questions are still being accepted, feel free to ask one yourself.

Question: Why is life so screwed at times? When we're on top, it seems like we're never gonna fall but why when we do fall, it never seem like we'll be coming on top back again? Nothing that we do can make us say 'ahh.. I'm on the right track'. Most of the times, we'll end up saying 'darn.. I've been at this stage before and I'm falling yet again..'.

Deep question Hallaj,

Your Pal Mike responds:

I feel a metaphor coming on. Or hot air, I can never tell the difference.

*lights the incense

Imagine your life is a thread.

During youth, you are a thread in someone else’s pattern. As you reach adolescence, you begin to break free of this pattern, until you are a single thread, unencumbered by the pull of other threads. As such, you are free to move about in any manner. With this comes absolute freedom (late teens thru mid-to-late twenties). You are accountable to yourself, and only yourself. This produces wonderful highs, and disastrous lows - were you to place your thread upon the ground it would look similar to your favorite rollercoaster ride. Some people end up with the thread of their lives resembling a giant circle, doomed to repeat past mistakes in a viscous cycle.

As we age, we begin to intertwine with other threads; to build our own pattern. These interwoven threads constrict our own, preventing it from soaring uncontrollably to the highest heights, or the lowest lows. Life begins to take on the pattern of slowly rolling waves, a more consistent and fulfilling existence. Large waves may come, but they are buttressed by the weight of other threads, ensuring a quick return to the comforts of a life that is more predictable and rewarding.

Or, in a nutshell, buck up camper.

It gets better. Just make sure when you’re weaving the pattern of your life, you choose threading that compliments your own. Flimsy thread won’t provide you the support for those out-of-control moments, and thread that’s too firm won’t give you the freedom to live.

Choose wisely.