The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Thursday, June 23, 2005

When You're Down & Troubled

Yesterday was one of those days. It seems as thought those days happen weekly as of late.

I had to do a bit of traveling. When I looked at my schedule yesterday morning, I thought to myself, wow it's gonna be a full day. So I started out in the company truck toward Harrison and Mt. Home and figured I would be rolling back into the office sometime right before 5 p.m.

Well, I figured wrong. Because that morning I didn't figure on the serpentine belt blowing up right before I got to Harrison.

So I park the truck in an antique shop parking lot and walk to go find a phone. I called my office and they didn't seem very concerned. So I tried to put a belt on myself. This pursuit's only success was the fact that it successfully got me dirty and mad.

So my only option was to call a friend of mine that lives in Harrison. It was really a shot in the dark too. He is a really good fellow to go out and have beers with, but sometimes he likes to shake off anything that nears responsibility.

So I walked down to a welder's shop, I had already been in the antique store and the owner was being a real jerk, to use the phone. It's 10:30 in the morning, I thought, I have maybe a 40 percent chance that he will be up and answer the phone. After 4 rings, I heard a faint hello.

I explained the situation to Mark. He said let me get my shoes on and I will be right over.

Now I knew that Mark would be absolutely no help with the truck. Mark has doctorate in medieval literature and isn't very inclined to manual labor or repairs. Which there is nothing wrong with that. He is a very intelligent person who has been waiting for the better part of a year to get a visa back to the U.K. and teach. He loves it over there and hates it back here. He worked a little bit a sub at his hometown high school, but mostly he has been trying to find a way to go back to England.

One day earlier last year, he worked one day with me. It is by far the worst job I have. It is hot and it involves picking up a lot of weights. Mark still says it is the hardest day's work he has ever done. I am proud of the fact that he worked the entire day without whining or a smoke.

So he picked me up after a while. I kept on trying to change the belt, but it wouldn't work. I was frustrated and by the time Mark pulled up, I told him that we were going to go get something to eat.

I bought him lunch and we caught back up. He told me about moving back to England next week. He also told me that he had a wicked hangover from the night before. I could tell. I think he drinks to much, and I think that he thinks that as well. So I skip the lecture.

But it was good spending the better part of the day with him. We found a place to take my truck and got it towed there. Instead of waiting around the dealership to get the truck fixed, we went over to his parent's new house with the biggest basement I have ever seen.

After a few hours, the truck was fixed and I got back to work. I shook his hand and thanked him. He said that he likes to think I would do the same for him, and he knows that is true.

One thing my father always stressed to me was the importance of friends. He has many friends that help him out and do favors for him. I swear he could get almost anything done within a few days if he had to pool his resources.

I hope I am like him in this way.

It is good to have friends that are loyal and will help you out in a spot. It is just as valuable to be loyal and help others in a spot.

The least valuable currency one can have is money. The most valuable currency is that of friendship.

Where am I? Where I am.

Where am I?

My eyes can't adjust to the dark very fast
so I try to search
and feel my way around the wall
holding my breath until the moment
when painted drywall turns
into a small switch with two small
screws holding it up
I feel
up and down
My hands swings through the air
like a conductor keeping a beat
and waving on a prayer that a light
cord will be my


I walk around
stubbing toes and cursing

suddenly I realize somthing
I am not alone
something else is breathing
in the dark
waiting and lurking with me
for that light

and what once was so hard to find
is easy
there are many light switches now

that and dread

because in between the darkness
and that blinding light is

Where I am.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Whats Next?

I must admit that I really enjoyed writing my Oaxaca Journal. It was nice to try and remember things that happened. It got to the point at the end where I wanted to delay finishing the project just to keep it going a little bit. I wanted to still be immersed in the story and the place. But, now the Oaxaca Journal has ended. The big question is what is next?

So I have been thinking and wondering what my next little project for my blog will be. I have been thinking about lots of different things to write about. So here are my ideas:

The Mundane Poetry Project--Every couple of days I will write a poem about something very ordinary and mundane. I will try to find the beauty and perfection in something that most everyday everyone ignores.

A Sabbath Project--This is something that my favorite author Wendell Berry does. Each Sunday, he takes a walk around his farm and composes a poem about what he was thinking about during his walk. So every Monday morning I would post the poem from the previous morning.

The Good Ol' Fashioned Serial Story--I have had an idea lately for a story called Two Parades that won't really fit the traditional short story lengths or novel lengths for that matter either. I would try to sit down each week and write one installment. The key would be that I would have a vague idea of how the story would end, but like anyone that would read it, I would find out what happens in the story as it goes too. This is the way a lot of magazines in the early 20th century produced stories, in small serial versions.

So I want some feedback. What would the readers of this blog like to see me do next?

Are You Certain?

For pretty much the past 2 1/2 years I have been battling something at work called the Measurement of Uncertainty. It sounds ridiculous because it is pretty ridiculous. How do you really measure uncertainty.

I started out with a vague idea of how to figure it out. I have messed around with the programs and had nightmares about this stuff. This stuff ruined weeks and raised blood pressure. I mean, I flew to Cincinnati and taught someone else how to do this, and still had no idea what I was doing.

But I have finally figured it out. Or at least I can finally justify it to myself and, hopefully, to others.

The thing that getting engulfed with uncertainty does, besides giving me a pretty big headache, is it affects me on a philisophical level. The measurement of uncertainty deals is based on the idea that there is nothing that is certain. There is no such thing as absolute. There are only degrees of freedom and confidence levels.

It is frustrating, maddening, and more than a few times I have screamed at my laptop when the program goes into a run-time error and shuts down.

But today, I was yelling at my laptop asking it if it wanted anymore of me. I was flexing muscles and making sure to tell my laptop that I am it's daddy and it shouldn't forget it.

So now, when I am asked how certain I am about uncertainty, I will say very certain...

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Special Message For Lynette from Springfield, MO

Jason would like you to email either me or him so we can see if y'all can take down some supplies that we didn't have room for.

my email is
jason's is

Thanks, and I hope the blog has been informative.

Oaxaca Part 8: There's No Place

So for the very first time while I was in Mexico, I got cold. The air conditioner was blasting ice cold air all night long, so I had to actually open up my sleeping bag and get in. I also saw Rick head toward the bathroom around the same time. I couldn't go right back to sleep. After a while, I got a bit concerned about Rick and got up to check on him. As I got up, I heard the worst sound I have ever heard. It sounded like a cat being pureed in a blender.
Oh, no. I was positive Rick was in bad shape. But I found Rick still in the bathroom. But Cindy was on the couch throwing up. Her face was flushed and she was sweating. I thought that was a bad way to start a travel day.

I walked back in the room and woke Jason up. He couldn't quite understand me at first because he kept on asking me if it was already 6 o'clock. I kept on repeating myself. He finally understood me and went to go check on her.

I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and woke up at 6. I used the bathroom really quickly and read a bit of my Bible. I heard Adam's alarm go off and wondered if he was going to make it up. He walked out half asleep. He looked at me with a bit of surprise. I asked him if he really thought I was going to be up and he said no.

O ye of little faith...

It took him a while to wake up, but at about 6:30 we went out on the beach and ran east into the Sunrise.

Now everyone has watched the scene in Chariots of Fire where all the guys are running on the beach, smiling with the great music in the background. And I was sure that the same thing would happen to us. But let me tell you something, running on the beach is nothing like Chariots of Fire. It is hard. I thought that the famous music would play in my head, but nope, nothing.

I started off the pace pretty quickly. The tough part was the fact that we were running on a 30 degree angle and my feet were sinking. It was really tough. We sprinted for a while, but I had to slow down. Adam said that I took off too quickly. So we probably ran and walked for about a mile or so. We mostly walked. It was pretty good to talk to Adam. His life perspective is pretty amazing. He has a really great family and has a great practice. We talked a lot about The Grove. What we liked about it, what we didn't like about it. It was a really good run/walk.

We got back and found most everyone already up and starting to pack. I packed my bag with relative ease. I didn't have to pack my bag as tight on the trip back. I donated the tarps and bungee cords to the mission so that they could use them for a temporary roof. My big duffel was pretty light. The one thing that I wanted to make sure that I brought was a full water bottle.

Most of us had breakfast except for Cindy, she had an IV. I felt so bad for Cindy, she got sick at the worst possible time. For some reason it took a while for everyone to get ready. There was a problem with one of the vehicles, but we finally got everyone in a vehicle and headed off. We stopped and got a quick drink and snack in town and headed off to the airport.

We stopped a few times so Cindy could go to the bathroom or the side of the road. At one point we stopped on the side of the road and Dr. Matt came out and said that we were going to barely make the plane unless we book it down the road. So we started to speed up, but luckily we made it to Huatulco with plenty of time to spare.

We said good-bye to Aaron, Laura, and all the rest. The plane that had just landed that we were taking back to the States arrived with the next group that was going to serve at Roca Blanca.

Going through the airport wasn't very bad. They checked our bags pretty well. When I went through the metal detector, the officer told me to drink some of my water. I downed about a fourth of it before he told me to stop. I don't quite know what he thought it was, but I guess if it was some sort of illegal drink then I passed the test.

We sat around the terminal for a few minutes eating some snack that the missionaries packed us. We were sitting around laughing when Mark got up real quick and went to the bathroom. After a few minutes he came back smiling. Mark and his digestive system of steel finally used the bathroom in Mexico with only a few minutes to spare.

We boarded the plane and felt the heat for one last time. I sat down in my seat and suck on the air conditioning vent like it was a bottle.

The beauty of Mexico from the air is quite striking. The mountain and valley ranges framed by the ocean is something that makes my heart yearn weeks afterwards.

I think most of us slept on the trip back. I read my book most of the trip back, and finally finished it right before our final descent. When we finally touched down in Houston, everyone popped their cellphones on and started calling people. I noticed Jill talking on the phone and I could see her crying. Later I learned that he brother had been in the hospital for the entire week. She was pretty upset.

We got off the plane and started to head through customs. It was quite an ordeal. The line was by far the largest line I had ever seen in my life. We snaked around a room the size of a football field rather quickly though. Mark, Adam, and myself pretty much sprinted through the lines and got through first.

Finally through customs, we were in search of food and drink. I exchanged some money at the exchange place so I would have some cash at the airport and no pesos in my billfold.

We found a little bar-b-q place in the airport. I got a bar-b-q sandwich, some popcorn, and a beer. I also bought a USAToday, something that I was craving the entire trip, real news.

I bought a magazine and some candy and sat at the terminal until the plane was ready. When I got on the plane, I tried to get a seat by myself with a bit of elbow room but the flight was pretty packed. Who knew the flight from Houston to Tulsa would be so full?

The flight was pretty smooth until we got around Tulsa. We flew right into a pretty big thunderstorm.

The terminal was pretty cool. There were a lot of people waiting for us. It was nice to see some familiar faces. I found a telephone and called my mom to tell her I was back safe and sound. I found my bag pretty quickly and stood to the side. After a while, I noticed Jill hadn't found her bag. When the baggage carousel stopped, my heart stopped too. I knew Jill was going to be upset, the day had already been so emotional for her. I told her to grab her baggage claim ticket and we would figure it out.

After talking with the baggage guy, we found out that the bag was still in Houston, it would come to Tulsa the next day, then they would ship it back to Houston and then ship it to Jill in Fayetteville. All of which made no sense to me or Jill. I asked her if she wanted me to beat the guy up, but she said no thank you.

We went back up to the where we left everyone and found Kent and Kristen waiting for us.

We loaded up in the car and headed east towards home. It was pretty rough driving because the storm was pretty powerful. We hit a 90 m.p.h. wind getting on the interstate that almost blew us off the onramp. There were a few times that we thought about stopping, but we kept on going.

We talked to someone in Adam's van because they were having car problems. They asked us to go buy some engine coolant and some power steering fluid. We had already passed through the toll so we had to go back through the toll twice.

When we got back to Adam's van, I had him pop his hood and tried to find out what was going on. The coolant had plenty in the reservoir, but I added some more coolant. The power steering fluid was fine. We thought everything was going to be fine, but Adam drove about a 1000 feet and pulled right back over.

It was time for a tow-truck. Bethany started feeling bad so I gave up my seat in the Hodskin's car and waited with the van for a tow-truck. Adam talked with someone on the phone for about a half hour trying to get a tow truck. The tow truck that was coming turned back around because they didn't want to drive all the way out from Tulsa. So we called my roommate Dave and he said he would come pick us up. Adam called his wife who came in very clutch and found some guy named Rocky that would come get the van if we left the keys in it.

After a while, Dave showed up. I don't remember the ride back because I was exhausted and slept the entire way. We dropped off Adam and Rick at the firestation where Rick's truck was at. Dave drove Adam and I back to Fayetteville. I asked Dave to drop me off because I was about to pass out. So he dropped me off at the house.

I opened the door, threw my stuff down in my room, went to get a glass of ice water, and then felt as though my insides had just exploded.

I was very sick. But very thankful I was back home.