Whoa! Slow Down America

Memorial Day is the traditional start of the Summer season. It is hard to believe the holiday is right around the corner and as it approaches so does the promise of sun drenched days at the beach or pool, barbecues, fireworks, and of course, the family vacation. But before you pack up the Winnebago and head out to the coast or a National Park, consider a getaway to less traveled locations. They might be closer to home, a lot cheaper and less crowded.

As the title of this article suggests, I am suggesting we all take a moment to enjoy the little things in life that naturally slow us down and help us ponder the reason for our existence. Of course, I am talking about some of America’s most natural wonders: Speed Bumps.

Here are some of my favorites.

yellow-horiLegions of grieving fans pay a visit to the grave site of fallen music icon Prince ever year. This pop-star pilgrimage makes up a whopping 94% of Minnesota’s annual tourist revenue. That means while big crowds are queuing up to pay their respect, you can take advantage of the small lines at the Cedarhurst Speed Bump of the DOT entrance off 394. This majestic formation dates back to almost a decade before anyone had ever heard of Prince yet still retains the brilliant industrial yellow which is best viewed in full daylight. Closed on weekends.


yellow-angleNashville is well known as the Country Music capital of the world but what many don’t know, or won’t tell you about, is the Speed Bump of Park-N-Pay just outside the bright lights and fanfare of the legendary Honky Tonk Highway. This noble beauty rises with a gentle grade to a modest but elegant summit. Sadly, at the time of this writing, the right side of the Bump has suffered a fissure and there is a danger of splitting free and crumbling. Be sure to call ahead for information about closures or hazardous conditions.


tarhead2An ugly controversy over ownership has surrounded Glenbrook Speed Bump in Cleveland. However, the bitter dispute has done nothing to detract from the august, I daresay, imposing shoulders of this Bump of rugged beauty. Locally known as “Old Tarhead,” Glenbrook is comprised of dense conglomerated synthetics created in a  crucible of high pressure and heat. Old Tarhead’s composition sets it apart from the other stone based formations on this list. He is far younger, too. You can begin your ascent of Old Tarhead from either side of the two territories still squabbling over possession, East from Kohls or West from Ulta.


twinsNo list of American Speed Bumps would be complete without the Whispering Oak Twins in Houston. Found far of the beaten path, this unique pair of Bumps can be be a bit challenging to access but the rewards are breathtaking. Side-by-side, the massive width of the Twins more than makes up for their elevation, which a first time visitor may find underwhelming, and the dominating deposits of chalky white that stripe their indomitable backs are awe inspiring. During wet weather, you may be treated to the sight of a glistening stream running between the Twins. To be on the safe side be sure to check local weather; flooding in the Houston area is common.

The Tube

magnetic resonance imaging machine
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Over the last three years I have undergone around ten cranial MRIs.

I found my first experience unpleasant but I expected that with each successive one, I might grow accustomed to the procedure or at least find a way to better endure them. Neither has happened. In fact, they get worse each time.

Rather than complain, however, I decided to convert my personal tribulations into useful knowledge for anyone who may be facing an appointment with mechanical resonance.




MRI or Magnetic resonance imaging is a tool that creates a detailed image of body organs and tissue, repressed childhood memories, greatest fears, disgusting habits, the deep, dark secrets that you hide from everyone including close friends and your spouse, your true political affiliation, biases of all sorts and every password to every account in your name. 

Also known as the Truth Tube or the God Pipe, this unique machine was first conceived by neurologists in Nazi Germany. However, the plans were seized during the allied invasion and developed after the war by a special consortium of scientists and United States agents in an underground laboratory outside Phoenix, Arizona. The MRI uses special magnets modeled after the original Ingots of Jehovah excavated at a site in modern day Jordan near the Dead Sea. 

Why the MRI is Used

The MRI is a non-invasive means for doctors to examine the body, peer into your soul and read your mind. Before the MRI was released for use on the general public, physicians were required to cut into a subject with the help of a trained surgeon or barber for internal examinations. Because demons and their waste products, called sin, create all human maladies, doctors were limited in their treatment options since the large openings created by surgical incision allowed the demons to escape before being properly excised with special regimens of prayer and bleeding. 

The arrival of the MRI also enabled the government to become more involved in the lives of U.S. citizens and offer better processes for managing your affairs from the time you are born until the time you are no longer needed. 


All medical procedures carry inherent risks and MRIs are no exception. The powerful magnetic field created by the Ingots of Jehovah will attract any metal inside the body and bring it to the surface of the skin along with the truth of why you have foreign bodies inside you. It is highly likely that the microchip to monitor your activities injected during one of your vaccines will be disabled. The MRI technician will replace the malfunctioning chip with a new one after your procedure has been completed at no additional charge. 

While extensive resonance will not damage your internal organs it may reduce their resale value if and when you decide to sell them to internet harvesters in order to supplement your retirement income. 

Exposure to intense magnetic waves for an extended period of time, especially if the magnets are reproduced from Materials of Divinity, may produce magnetism in certain individuals. This is known as Favorable Response to Grace or FRG. You will find yourself attracted to others who experience FRG. Feel free to associate with these individuals. Conversely, you will be repelled by those who do not have a Favorable Response to Grace. You must avoid such people and report any suspicious enterprise you happen to witness. 

An MRI is painless due to the numbing effect and the sedative mixed into the contrast solution of the intravenous line. However, during the procedure you may feel weightless as if being lifted from the earth on the wings of angels. This is normal. Because the God Pipe is constructed from replicas of Holy material, it will produce sensations of being called Home by the Almighty. Hours after the euphoria of your procedure, you may experience headaches, joint pain, feelings of great loss followed by a period of depression lasting for up to a month. 

What to Expect

MRIs are only performed during months that contain the letter M, so appointments are scheduled before Autumn. 

Your MRI will be scheduled for 6 AM but the doors to the facility will not open until 6:30. Dress for the weather. Do NOT converse with other patients waiting outside under any circumstance. 

You will fill out a lengthy questionnaire. Your answers will be compared against the results of your test so take time to carefully consider your response to each question on the form. 

You will be ordered to disrobe and wear surgical scrubs with the texture of sandpaper. This helps exfoliate the skin, making it more transparent for the imaging process. Your clothes and valuables will be stored in a private locker. Be sure to leave a copy of your living will and emergency contact information among your possessions in case something happens to you inside the God Pipe. 

The imaging center is kept at a low temperature to protect the valuable instruments. Uncomfortable cold is also necessary to suppress the brain waves associated with hope.

You will be secured to a moveable bed. Your ears will be covered to protect your hearing from the voices of Divinity, the sound of popping bones and the lamentations of your soul.

You must remain still during the entirety of your procedure. Motion can distort the images of your true nature, internal jelly and capacity to conform. Do NOT move. 

You must keep your mind clear. Thinking can distort your thoughts as they are being recorded. Do NOT think. 

Prayers cannot be heard from within the God Pipe. 

An MRI can last from around 15 minutes to an hour. The more you move or think, the longer the procedure will take. The seriousness of your illness and levels of compliance are reflected in the length of your MRI and will be included in the results. 


The results of your MRI will be interpreted by a special technician called a CSR or Corporal Spiritual Reader. His findings will be sent to your doctor who will discuss with you the best course of treatment. A copy of the results will also be sent to the Bureau of Citizen Behavior for assessment. A bureau agent will contact you within 6 weeks to assign a case worker and provide information on where to report for further questioning and evaluation.

Disclaimer: none of the information on this page is real. Please visit a site like Medical News Today for information on MRIs.


Amusement park in monotone at Southport
Stock Photo from Openverse – no credits provided.

I have finally gotten my humble, little recording studio setup down here in Houston Land and have recorded some new music just in time for the summer. And apropos of the season, the song is about roller coasters and the carefree days of youth, among other things. Play and sing along with the convenient lyric sheet below. Repeat and share.

Getting high inside the car
In the parking lot of the amusement park
Two days into that sacred month of July
Your neck was bronze, mine was red
I might have believed anything you said
Even if what you told me
Was just another lie

Stoner on a roller coaster
Loop the loop into that summer blue
In a corkscrew ninety-nine miles a minute
Life is a ride anyway you spin it
I wish I'd known you then
The way I still want to

Getting high inside the car
In the parking lot of the amusement park
Two days before they closed down for the season
In those midway lights, red, white and blue
I might have fallen hard for you
If you had not slipped away
For no good reason

DISCLAIMER: The title of this song was inspired by a fellow blogger named Stoner on a Roller Coaster. I have never met nor even spoken with S.O.A.R. so the subject of this tune should not be interpreted as having any association with the S.O.A.R. website, its owner(s) or its author(s). The song on this page is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the songwriter’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Lucky Good Year

water-taxiSometimes a water taxi in Bangkok is the best option from point A to B, a city bus cleaving through the choppy, brown water of the canal. The sweating commuters, packed elbow to elbow on the plank seats, are happy for the breeze and cool spray off the water, filthy as the liquid highway is. You have to be quick climbing aboard or going ashore. The taxi, like most things, is connected to the frenetic pace of the city and does not stay moored on the pilings too long. Old radials long retired from street work act as a buffer between the dock and the boat’s hull that slaps against the tough rubber panoply as the taxi dips and rises with the weight of riders scuttling in and out, and the undulating current. 

A career in public transportation observing the diurnal comings and goings of the masses may not sound like an exciting life but believe me, for an old timer like myself, I am lucky to have my job. Most of my ilk were not as fortunate to find such a position after completing their service. 

I work on the Hua Chang pier in the shadow of the Monkey Head bridge that spans the busy canal. This stop on the taxi’s route is a popular one with tourists. Nearby is Han Square and the bustling open air markets where one can purchase anything from fresh prawns for dinner to a wok to cook them in, not to mention the rainbow of spices and flowers perfuming the air. Just off the square is the Paragon hotel with its famous, or perhaps infamous, Gold Elephant bar. Once a favorite watering hole for legendary expats and writers, a cocktail in the rich French Colonial interior amid palms, teak and ivory is an experience not to be missed by many erudite visitors to our city. 

Although historical ghosts will haunt the district forever, several reputable hostels attract younger travelers and all their youthful energy. I see many faces everyday who are excited about life and the wonders they will discover and experiences they will treasure forever. My pier is not a gateway to an austere temple or a sober business center, my pier is an entrance to pleasure. 

Yes, my pier is a fine place to work and I am lucky. I have always been lucky, considering my humble beginnings. I rolled into this world as just another nameless creation among a multitude of nameless creations with a bright, shiny black face but not much else to set me apart from the rest. We truly all are brothers and sisters on this earth. We all come and go in our own time and although we are created for different purposes, we all leave behind a footprint. 

My purpose seemed to be traveling and I hit the road very early. You need tough skin for a life on the road and mine was galvanized. I have seen some of the toughest give out early, ending long before their time, but I managed to keep on going until that fateful day. I was on my usual run through the Southwest when I was taken by surprise and stabbed outside of El Paso. The wound was not severe enough to kill me but it put my hazardous career in doubt. I was fearful of what I would do next since my qualifications were scant. 

The company patched me up and kept me on as a reserve for a period before being laid off with others like me. Fortunately, there was still some life left in me and I found work doing local deliveries for a while before I was finally unable to take the burden. My employer was a kind soul and, unlike the big company from which I was unceremoniously discharged, kept me on his payroll as an amusement for his children. It was a peculiar job to say the least but it was fun and rewarding and not the least bit difficult. 

My quarters were below a massive oak whose broad leaves provided cool shade during the hot months and a mosaic of brilliant colors when the season changed. The children would take turns climbing on my rugged shoulders for a ride. I would take them back and forth, high into the blue heavens to our mutual delight. I never tired of it.  

There was not much use for me in winter months but I did host a family of birds who built their nest in the safety of my bosom. I took great pride in sheltering the vulnerable and doing my part to foster new life in a hostile world. When the hatchlings were of age, they flew one by one from my sanctuary, leaving me alone and feeling melancholy. I looked forward to warmer days and the return of gleeful children but I never saw them again. They, along with my employer, moved away and the new owners of the big house had no use for an old fool like me hanging around their lovely oak tree. I was cut loose and sent on my way, to where I did not know. 

It was not long thereafter that I found myself in the company of other worn out, discarded characters. Those who spoke, always talked of a young and proud past when life had purpose, never of a hopeful future. We made for a wretched congregation of the unwanted. I was glad to be free of that woeful bunch when I was hired on as part of a roofing gang.

The work was not difficult and required no experience; I simply held things in place along with a few of my fellows. At first I was skeptical that someone as unskilled as myself was even needed and worried that the discovery of that fact would surely result in my dismissal. The man in charge, however, insisted workers such as myself were crucial and spoke of things I didn’t understand like, “roof rumble” and “oil-canning.” So, work I did despite the job being boring to the point of stultification. And the heat, that unforgiving Texas sun. Everyday I felt as though my black skin, thick as it still was, would melt on the baking, popping tin. And yet I performed my duties with no complaints; as lowly as my position may have been, I still served a purpose, a role in life. 

A brief shower or thunderstorm deluge brought momentary relief during the long, parched hours of the workday. “Might as well enjoy the rain,” I reasoned. There was, after all, no shelter on a rooftop. The drops hit the metal skin of the roof like fingers tapping out a mystical rhythm on the head of a bongo. I have no ear for music but I would hum a silly melody that I remembered the children singing as they played around me beneath that magnificent oak. Or perhaps I learned the melody from that family of birds I harbored. 

My strange course through life took another abrupt turn during one particular and very violent storm. The tempest was nothing I had experienced before and I admit, I was frightened. Clouds the color of an ugly bruise lowered close to the horizon as if weighted down by the heavy inundation within them and the sun overhead disappeared like a candle snuffed out. The blistering heat of midday was blown away by cold gusts that made the metal below me creak and buckle but I remained steadfast as a fool, determined to do my job regardless of the unsettling situation. Experience taught me to anticipate a thorough drenching. I waited for the first fat drops of rain but what hit the metal first with a loud snap, ricocheted off and struck my hide with an icy sting. In an instant, the roof and my poor self were being pelted with balls of ice the size of cocktail onions. To this day I shiver with the painful memory of my frigid lashing. 

What followed the frozen barrage I will never forget. From one of the low, ominous clouds, the finger of a dark, malevolent God extended, spinning, as if it were drawing frantic circles into the earth as if writing an account of epic mayhem. The rotation created a thick cloud of destruction filled with all manner of debris, natural and man-made and the impending doom was headed directly toward me. 

I recall very little of what happened next. A strange sensation of heavenly ascension wrapped itself around me. The air was sucked away just before everything went black as death.

At first, I believed I had been called home to the Lord, unscathed and weightless, awash in divine effulgence. But I had not died, the darkness was temporary and I woke to a brilliant day. The buoyancy I felt was the gentle, warm sea where I bobbed like a bottle carrying some strange message to whosoever should find me. And found I was, indeed, fished out of the waves like a mackerel by a kind boatswain of an Eastbound freighter. 

To my dismay, not a single member of the ship’s crew seemed the least bit impressed that someone like me should be found floating in the Gulf of Mexico. Indeed, they treated my presence in the water as something as common and natural as a fish. Although exceedingly grateful for my rescue, I could not help but harbor some resentment that no one aboard recognized the miracle I represented. What saved me from sinking into the depths or shark attack, in my opinion, could only be explained as the intervention of our merciful Creator. I reflected on this miracle for the entirety of my journey to Bangkok and continue my contemplation to this day. 

Of course, I have shared this marvelous odyssey with my co-workers at the Hua Chang pier. A few are cynical as they never traveled far or suffered real trials while others have had lives similar to my own. One steel-belted soul, a Michelin, served on the frontlines of a civil war and witnessed unbelievable brutality. And I work side-by-side with a more meditative Firestone who was nearly burned alive in India. 

As for others, my new career provides ample opportunity to share my tale with all who take the time to listen but few do. I do not blame them. People are in a hurry and are often too busy to recognize the everyday miracles that surround them including their own precious circumstance. But I have learned to take nothing for granted. The bustling city, her canals, the pier, the water taxis and their passengers, my own watery reflection. I cherish them all and will for the remainder of my lucky, lucky life.

Happy Saint Pat’s Day

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The landscaper hails from Guatemala. His small family business is composed of himself and his nephew. I feel uncomfortably tall around them but both are strong as mules. They brought a mountain of black mulch and fresh grass cut into neat rectangles like industrial carpet that can be easily replaced when someone spills their coffee in the office. In the spots where they patched the lawn the new turf sparkles like emeralds against a yard, sallow from winter. It is Saint Patrick’s Day and only fitting that the morning be filled with the business of greenery. The landscaper is a tee-teetotaler, though. After a hot day of extracting a stump of a long dead cypress like a stubborn, rotten molar clinging to its dead roots as if it wished to leave behind only a legacy of discomfort and exasperation, I asked him if he would go home and enjoy an ice cold beer. His family life was too demanding to succumb to the comfort of the bottle. At least that is what I gathered from his broken English. Not much of the Irish blood that boils in my veins made it to the jungles of Central America. Plenty flooded into New York, though. Amateur Day is what I called it. An excuse in March to get tanked and make an ass yourself as if anyone needs an excuse to drink and search for a moment of joy during a bleak month in a filthy Northeast metropolis. It is ironic Saint Patrick was credited for expanding literacy when observing throngs of revelers in the street, falling down, fighting, vomiting, getting stuck in a revolving door. It is not ironic that as a boy the would be patron was sold into slavery when one considers how many Irish are chattel to demon rum. A coffle stumbles from bar to bar chanting a phrase that announces to fellow countryman they are from Sligo. I know little of Guatemala or what part the landscaper comes from. I suspect they have their own share of drunken revelers. He and his nephew loaded their tools into the trailer. A silver braid of municipal water from the spigot on the side of my house washed the earth from their sturdy hands. They were still wet when he and I shook to seal the deal the way men do, his grip surprisingly gentle for hands accustomed to hard labor. My grip might be considered substantial for a man who types on a keyboard all day. It is likely attributed to my Irish heritage and years of clinging to the bottle for help in clinging to this life, sometimes just out of spite. As they drive off I think how lucky they are to not need a drink at the end of a grueling day. I should be so lucky, after all, I am of Irish stock. And like any good Irishman, I will toast their health and have a drink for them and anyone else who cannot. 

Normal Business Hours


During normal business hours my time is not my own, I am not at liberty to dwell on personaDuring normal business hours my time is not my own, I am not at liberty to dwell on personal matters.l matters. My daily tasks occupy all my time during normal business hours and I leave details of my life hanging on a hook by the door with my hat and coat and umbrella if the forecast calls for rain and the morning commute is gray and the train is filled with damp passengers contemplating the idiomatic pieces of their existence before arriving at office doors where they, too, will surrender those parts of themselves in order to focus on matters at hand during normal business hours. Coats will hang, glistening with pearls of fine mist or dripping into puddles on the floor.

I might wonder if it is raining back home on the farm where the cows stand, steaming in the barn as they wait for the cribs to be filled with a breakfast of hay carefully stored during the hot days of July. This is during normal business hours, yet I see my calloused hands lifting the bales into the rack before cutting the rough twine, allowing the tightly packed dried grass to explode in a cloud reeking of mildew and summer sun. A sun that shines two seasons away on beach sand the same shade as the stalks of hay that long bovine tongues pull into the gnashing mill of grinding molars. I pause to lean, during normal business hours, in the doorway of the barn, gazing at the leaden sky, listening to the far away roar of surf and smell brine in the moist air and taste the mild saltiness on the tip of a bottle of beer that is so cold and refreshing after a swim in the ocean and riding a breaker back to shore like a slick sea lion to bask in the sun, you silly, fat, lazy thing.

The photo of you on my desk is the only indulgence from nostalgia’s cabinet I allow myself during normal business hours. You smiling in front of Doge’s Palace after wandering, lost but unconcerned with finding our way through the dark twisted maze of Venice in search of wine and cicchetti. Most tourists leave the city after dark for cheap hotels on the mainland or cruise ships bobbing in the lagoon and you have the quiet, sinking streets all to yourself if you don’t mind the ghosts that glide like fog across wet stones. A melody I cannot place floats from a window, coalescing with the dulcet melody of the On Hold Ensemble as I wait for the call to be connected during normal business hours. What would ersatz background distractions sound like today had Bartok stopped writing for string ensembles and concentrated on Tin Pan Alley palaver during normal business hours? As complex as multiple, compound time signatures can be, music is confined to the restraints of time itself and must pass just as normal business hours must conclude eventually freeing me to dwell on personal matters once again.

Magnetism And You


How many MRIs do you need in order to develop a magnetic personality? The procedure is expensive so hopefully not too many if that is your plan. In his Dynamic Tension course, Charles Atlas instructs that proper posture is the first step in achieving a magnetic personality. He also suggested adopting an attitude of Hopefulness. His training is far more affordable than the resonance tube but there are no guarantees in life.

All of us contain a certain amount of hard wiring that we cannot change when we roll off the assembly line into our beautiful existence. If you don’t naturally attract a crowd, consider how lucky you are to even be part of a crowd. The odds of you being born a human are effectively zero if you can do the math and if you can do the math consider how fortunate you are to have a brain capable of performing such intense calculations. People born with big personalities tend to cruise through life always getting what they want but someone has to manage their money.

Among the many people lucky enough to be alive, I have met a few with not much personality but they did not seem to notice or be bothered in the least nor was it obvious they suffered any ill effects from being dull. People with no distractions get things accomplished and nothing is more distracting than other people hanging around waiting to see what you are going to do next. Stop trying to convince others that you are special, remember the odds of being born human are practically null. Now go and get something accomplished. People with magnetic personalities are depending on you.

Winter Musical

I dreamed of steel toes and heels on quick feet
          effortless steps tapping across silver salts

When I woke, sleet was dancing on the sill 
         to music only February hears

I resisted the certainty of rising from warm layers 
          and choreographed joy frozen in gelatin frames

To witness Winter’s stoic silversmith 
          plate the day in frigid resplendence

And fistfuls of rock salt to melt his work 
          like images fading from a dream of old movies

Copper Trains

Far away in the small hours a locomotive bellows a warning to make way for its ponderous mass, dragging a long, iron chain of tank and boxcars behind, resigned to its somber duty like a woman hauling water from the creek to the cabin where washing waits in a filthy heap for soap and brush. Miles ahead in the light of day, boys lay a dozen or so pennies on the rails, bright copper spots on the burnished bars of parallel steel. I searched among the cinders between the ties after the red caboose trundled by, the brakeman saying hello and goodbye with a single wave from his copula and found the coin, still warm from its transfiguration, thin and smooth as a lithograph plate ready to be etched with the news of the world or a memorable print of a desert still life littered with a cactus, creosote bush and a steer skull bleached to ivory by the sun and sold in a roadside gift shop where years after the Norfolk and Western line obliterated Lincoln's profile, I slide a quarter into a slot and crank the handle to flatten a penny and emboss it with the words Death Valley.