Thursday, April 26, 2007

The most annoying phrase in the world is...

Follow your dreams.

How am I supposed to follow my dreams if I have no idea what they are?

Really - I'm not kidding. My dreams all tend to be rather vaccuous things, like
  • losing weight
  • getting married
  • having a country house
  • being a celebrity in some unknown field with a minimum of effort
Nothing I can really get worked up about. Nothing I want so bad that I'm actually willing to do the work to achieve them.

This is why I love lost comedian Mitch Hedburg: "I'm sick of following my dreams... I'm just gonna ask where they're going and hook up with them later."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stupid Stereotype...

WHY WHY Whywhywhywhywhy must every heroine in a book or TV show be a shoe freak? And own dozens of pairs?

I like shoes, but I only ever have a few pairs in use at any one time. 4-5 pairs of sandals from March to October, and, like, 2 in the winter. Does this make me any less feminine? I think not. No, my insistence on picking up heavy computer equipment unaided as though it's no big deal, "I'm fine, I do this all the time!" -- THAT'S what makes me unfeminine.

One of my goals is finally realized...

... I have finally gotten something cute posted on CuteOverload!

Plus, it has engendered a flurry of comments, since Meg Frost, the site proprietress, said it was a consolation to watch bunnies hop around in the aftermath of Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


So yesterday I went over to my Mom's to deal with finalizing my tax return; as you may remember, I hadn't taken into account that I should be saving money for my taxes now as a business owner, and I needed to come up with $XX2.00. I've been praying for a miracle.

Well, Mom had decided that instead of getting an installment plan, she'd pay and I could pay her back on a monthly schedule, so we finished it all out, printed it up, and then I said, (as I had said to her weeks before!) "Now, didn't I pay AHEAD for last year? You said I had to pay on a quarterly basis, and so we used my refund to pre-pay an estimated amount for 2005?" Apparently Mom FINALLY heard me, and her jaw dropped, and she said "yes, that's RIGHT!" and retrieved my 2005 return from the computer.

Wanna know how much I had paid ahead? $XX4.00.

I'm getting a $2 return from the IRS. I shall treat myself to a Diet Coke at Sonic.

Praise God!

Monday, April 16, 2007

In Case You Didn't Know...

I am attempting to write a story on Eric Volz and his parents for my church newsletter, and in digging through the various updates and postings on the website, I found this journal entry from Eric's father Jan Volz. This gives a very clear picture of how bad the situation has been... and how bad it could be again.

The events of Thursday, December 7, the date of Eric's hearing were so unbelievable it's taken me awhile to write about it in a fashion that makes any sense. I know at other times I've described this as a really bad dream or (if I may borrow part of a maternal phrase from one of Dane's updates) a pregnant state of anguishing mental limbo. It is the "not knowing" that is painful. The questions of; is he eating, is he getting any sleep due to the fact he's afraid someone will kill him, how is he holding up mentally and spiritually with no visitors except twice a week and then only one person for a maximum of 15 minutes. It's the "not knowing" that feels like a slow death. In order to write this I had to debrief myself a little bit first in order to find the reality in the midst of my shell shocked state of mind. As you surmise from the fact that I was still in Managua on Friday morning Eric didn't walk out of court with me on Thursday. I expected to return to the US Thursday evening but a Nicaraguan lynch mob outside of the courtroom changed all of that. The judge set a trial court date to try Eric for murder in late January.

All day long in Rivas the locals gathered in the streets outside the courthouse. We had received a report that a vehicle with blaring external loud speakers had been driving through the streets of San Juan telling the town's people that they had to fight for their rights, and stand up to the gringos. The "call to arms" invited them all to come to the Rivas court hearing in order to bring justice to the gringo. Earlier on Friday of last week the Rivas police went to San Juan to conduct a "town meeting" along with the mayor and about a hundred citizens to discuss the case against Eric. There was also a plea to rally around the case and come to Rivas for the hearing. They also gave instructions where to meet the trucks and buses which would transport the ready made mob. The attorney and I rode over to the hearing with the US Embassy RSO (Regional Security Officer) the US Legal Attaché' and one of their assistants. In the middle of the ride my phone rang and it was Eric. He was out of breath from running and told me that the local police paraded him on foot straight down through the middle of town, up the sidewalk from the jail to the courthouse with just a couple of cops. When they were a couple blocks away a mob of men with clubs, sticks and machetes attempted to ambush them and chased them for two blocks. The police fled. A few tried to stick with Eric but keeping up with him is nearly impossible, he's quite fast. Eric out ran the police and the mob and in that he was going to the courthouse he just out ran them straight into the relative safety there with the screaming mob in pursuit. He called me to warn me of the impending danger.

We pulled into Rivas and parked our car up on a side street away from the entrance of the courthouse. By the time we arrived the crowd had grown to about 75 people. Flanked by the Embassy personnel we all went inside where Eric, myself, the Embassy guys, my US attorney and Eric's Nica attorney sat and talked for a little while before the hearing began. It was good to hug him after a phone call like that.

The proceeding got underway an hour late when the judge finally arrived and after some deliberation by the prosecuting attorney the judge dismissed the charges on two of the other defendants, one of whom has already admitted he took part in her murder. On what basis of truthful evidence this dismissal was given we couldn't figure out. The judge only said he was dismissing the charges against this confessed defendant because there wasn't enough evidence to proceed against him. I was appalled because numerous times he admitted to being there when she was killed. Eric's attorney gave his defense of the present charges refuting each but held back some of the crucial information which the attorney said was probably wise because you don't want to shoot your entire arsenal at the preliminary hearing especially if you KNOW the proceeds are going to end in a trial which is exactly what the judge did. He then dropped the gavel stating his decision was to proceed to trial with Eric and one of the confessed killers.

The crowd outside continued to grow and we could hear their chanting even inside the courtroom. The courtroom was 10' by 16' and there were sixty people inside standing on top of one another. I sat in the back row next to my attorney who was taking ferocious notes.

The proceeding finished around 4:30 PM. The Embassy RSO was very concerned as to how the cops were going to get Eric back to the jail. The crowd jeered and shouted, "Come out, gringo, because here we are going to kill you," (a quote from La Prensa a national news publication)

The police assured the RSO they had Eric's security issue covered for his return to the jail but all of us knew better and didn't believe it for a second. It was quickly becoming apparent that the heightened state of frenzy was quickly escalating to the point that any gringo (North American specifically) was in the line of fire or "fair game."

Eric, the RSO and myself began to tell the police how we needed to get Eric out of the courthouse through a side door. The first thing we did was suggest they simply clear the street and move the crowd back but they claimed they couldn't do it. They too were afraid of the crowd. The RSO was also trying to get the police to bring in another 50 reinforcements. The police claimed they were working on that but reinforcements never came. Realizing the vigilantly mob seeking their own form of justice was becoming an ever increasing threat we had to come up with a plan to get Eric (and all of us for that matter) out of this courthouse very soon. Every second wasted gave them time to bring in more vigilantes with clubs, sticks and machetes. Thank God I didn't see any guns. We had a plan to take Eric out the back door which was plausible because at that time there were very few people in the back alley. The Embassy RSO changed clothes with Eric. He was bigger than Eric and struggled with Eric's T-shirt as he slipped it over his head. Eric put on the RSO's shirt, tie, and sport coat making him look a little bit like David Byrne of the Talking Heads from "Stop Making Sense" in his over sized suit. The RSO put on Eric's baseball cap and he was going to run out the front door with his face concealed and jump in the cop car to crate a diversion which would be the time the cops were suppose to take Eric out the back and jump inside of an unmarked car. All of a sudden the police grabbed Eric by both arms and forced him out the front door onto the front porch as if they were offering him to the mob. The two getaway cars they pulled up in front had parked at the far end of the block making the running dash to get there a sure death and as soon as they placed the other remaining defendant in the back of one of those cars they both sped away leaving Eric and the US Embassy RSO standing there facing the crowd. The mob immediately rushed toward them causing the police to scatter and run for their own lives. Eric and the RSO stood alone with no protection and only the split-second option to run for their lives.

Running directly into the oncoming rush of frenzied men with clubs and machetes raised they miraculously passed through them and ran up the street and then disappeared from view as they turned right heading down a side street. That was the last image I had of Eric. That is the last visual burn into my mind was that of my son literally running for his very life. Later the RSO told me what took place next. Eric somehow had slipped the handcuffs off from one hand giving him both hands free with the cuff dangling from one arm. He and Eric ran down the street then entered a Casino. They ran across the casino floor and into the back office area hoping to avoid detection finding refuge in one of the back offices. They locked the door and waited for a moment to see if the murderous mob would pass them over. As it turned out that was only wishful thinking. All of a sudden the door into this tiny sanctuary began to give way as the crowd pounded on the door then started to try breaking it down. Eric and the RSO realized they were cornered and going to die at the hands of these men if they didn't get out of this room. They immediately broke through the side wall of this office breaking them into the adjacent room. This room had a back doorway which led to a small gymnasium. Once they were in the gymnasium they secured all the doors and hoped they would hold until help arrived. The crowd very quickly starting working on those doors as well and it seemed that once again they were moments away from sudden death. Why they grabbed Eric and forced him out the front door into the middle of the lynch mob is incomprehensible.

While this was going on around the corner from where we were in the courthouse we were attempting to plot our own escape there in the darkened lobby area of the courthouse near the only door which opened to the street. It still remained that stepping through that door meant offering ourselves into the arms of the remaining screaming mob. Our Legal Attaché was on his cell phone with our driver trying to get our vehicle brought up as close to the door as we could. We were expecting our car to pull up any moment so we were standing close to the front exit door in order to make a mad dash to the car when it arrived. A woman outside caught a glimpse of me and I suppose my curly hair (a physical attribute which Eric and I share) she began to yell and scream like a banshee. She was inciting those mobsters who remained outside the courthouse to once again, "Kill the gringo!" This time she was talking about me and anybody else that looked like they were with me or connected to anyone on Eric's team. They began to rush the building with us standing there desperately needing our car.

All of a sudden the car sped up to the curb, both doors flew open, and we made a fast dash from the front door to the car, diving into the back seat and then the car sped up the street filled with mob frenzy laden vigilantes. Those in front of us hoping we'd stop rather than run over them because they stood directly in front of the oncoming car received a surprise when the Embassy driver stomped her foot to the floor with no intention of stopping but rather showing our intent to run them over if they faltered in diving out of the way. Had we been stopped they would have busted the windows out of the car, dragged us into the street and killed every one of us. After getting lost because we were running back streets trying to find the police station we reluctantly stopped to ask directions. The Attaché rolled the window down which to me was frightening because I didn't know who might be friend and who might be foe. Finally we made it back to the police station about three quarters of an hour after this fiasco at the courthouse began only to find that Eric and the RSO weren't there yet. We tried to call the RSO's cell phone with no luck so needless to say my heart sank picturing Eric lying on the dirty street face down, beaten and hacked to death in a pool of crimson, never again able to feel his firm tender hug with his face nuzzled in the cup of my neck. I stepped away from my attorney, the Attaché, and the Chief of Police finding some solace in the distant darkness of the courtyard area where I fell to my knees and cried out to God.

For about 15 minutes I stumbled around in the outer darkness of that courtyard, struggling to see with my eyes full of tears when my sense of doom was interrupted by policemen yelling at the front gate. In a flash the gate was thrown open as a blue and white Police pickup truck came wildly through the entrance into the inner courtyard. I was at quite a distance but I could see the passengers riding in the back were bouncing around like toy dolls as the truck came to an abrupt halt. It was dark except for some distant yard lights inside the police courtyard and I didn't see that Eric was in the back of that truck with the RSO. I'm sure he was quite a sight still wearing handcuffs on one arm with the oversized suit and tie belonging to the RSO. The police scrambled out of the truck running toward the cell blocks with somebody in hand. At the time I didn't realize it was Eric.

I saw the RSO coming across the courtyard walking toward my attorney, the Attaché and the Chief. He immediately pulled the Chief aside and began to climb all over his case. His adrenalin level after such and ordeal was so high he was expressing / venting his level of anger which was spilling from his near death experience. I thought we were going have to pull him off the Chief of Police. He wasn't mad; he was beyond that mild reaction. He had almost been killed due to the stupidity and incompetence of the police force and at that moment he wasn't timid about expressing it. Its funny how even though the screaming and yelling he was doing was in Spanish the explicative were apparent and sometimes came out in English as the expression of his terror came out on that Chief. I can only imagine Eric's level of adrenalin rush if he went through a wall to save his life.

The newspaper the next morning said that both men (Eric and the RSO) in the run for their lives were hit by the mob a few times but the RSO who had some bruises on his arm said he thought Eric was fine and passed through without being touched. He went in to where they were holding Eric and they changed clothes again. Needless to say had they caught any of us we wouldn't have lived to tell about it.

I had a rough sleepless night as the last image of Eric which was etched on my mind was a picture of him running from a frenzied mob of men with sticks and machetes chasing him down the street wearing tennis shoes with no laces…

Though I couldn't see them with my own eyes I can picture angels deflecting the deadly blows of clubs and machetes as that courageous young man ran headlong into the oncoming mob seeking refuge, safety, and ultimately his freedom.

Whatever your spiritual persuasion don't stop what you have been doing. Thursday evening I saw the results of miraculous intervention spare his life. I've seen the invisible hand that closed the mouths of those lions as Daniel stood courageously in their midst.

Blessing and courage to all of you,


The headline in Friday's copy of the La Prensa Newspaper read "Intentan linchar a gringo" which translates to: [Mob] Attempts to Lynch the American

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What The...?

It was raining this morning as I drove to church... Rain, mixed with SNOW!

Not a record - apparently in 1910 it snowed on April 25. But still! I was wearing SANDALS last month, people! I pride myself on being able to wear sandals from March through October. But I have been forced to resort back to shoes and socks. My feet are NOT happy about it, either.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Have You Ever Noticed...

It's said that children are the ones with "a sense of wonder." Poppycock.

I had no interest in things like weather, trees, the color of the sky, flowers, looking out the window as I drove down the road, anything... when I was little. Even into my 20s, I was oblivious. But now, in my thirties, it seems like that's all I CAN do! I marvel at flowers and trees and blue skies and green rolling hills and little stone cottages and old white clapboard farmhouses.

This is nothing special or unique to me; everyone probably appreciates such things. But what I'm trying to say is that my appreciation of and attention to such things is intensifying year by year. For example, I never had any interest in a blooming Bradford Pear until about 8 years ago... now I notice them all over the place and they're just so beautiful.

So what was I thinking about when I was younger? I mean, I knew the trees and hills were there; but why did I never think "wow, that's beautiful!" I do remember driving the endless 3.5 hours between Nashville and Memphis as a child, and looking out the windows at green hills and wishing we could just stop the car so I could get out and start walking, but it wasn't from any appreciation of beauty or wilderness, etc.

Now I still feel that way; that I'd like to stop the car on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and just start walking into some random valley... but that's partly because it's so GREEN. Now I notice Spring, and Fall, and as I drive around town I'm thinking of particular routes I could take that have lovely trees or views.

I was OBLIVIOUS as a child. I'm much more aware as an adult.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Eric Volz Update

Below is a letter from Eric to friends and family... There's has been a LOT of growing media and online exposure about this dreadful situation, especially since the YouTube Video, and 2 Today Show features. Lest anyone think I am just parroting back the family's assertions of Eric's innocence, here are links to some of the larger media investigative stories:

Today Show - initial story / interview w/ Eric
Wall Street Journal
San Francisco Chronicle
Channel 10 News – San Diego
The Sacramento Bee

of course, there's a much longer list of media coverage at the
MySpace page

Eric Update: Day # 134 in prison

A letter from Eric

It has been some time since I have been able to get word out to tell everyone supporting me how I am doing and what is happening from my perspective.

I'm in a maximum-security prison about 20 minutes outside of the capitol city of Managua called "La Modelo." My mother has established a good relationship with the warden and he has been very kind, allowing me to visit with her and my step-father on a regular basis. As you can imagine, these visits have been invaluable in terms of being brought up to speed on all that is taking place as a result of my conviction. I have received a complete update on what is happening around the globe on my behalf. The amount of support and energy going into freeing me from this injustice is simply incredible. From a grass roots My Space campaign, letters to senators, international media, people praying and fasting, You Tube video, and all the awesome letters of encouragement and support, my sprits are greatly lifted and my strength has been miraculously restored. Your all are breathing for me! THANK YOU ALL FOR GETTING MY BACK ON THIS ONE!!! I'm eternally grateful and feel like the richest man on earth!

I have worn a small thread necklace with 2 small square ornaments for the last 5 years without every taking it off. In a very mystical experience, a priest in Jalisco, Mexico, gave it to me. He told me as long as I took care of the necklace it would protect me. I grew superstitious of the piece and felt like it provided me with some sort of divine protection. I know it might sound silly to some, but I figured it was a harmless fantasy. It has survived 5 years of doing what guys do and the thing is still there as strong as ever. Needless to say, it really freaked me out when on my third day in prison after my arrest I noticed that one of the ornaments had fallen off. It was a sure sign that what lay ahead was not going to be pretty. After over 130 days in prison my necklace has taken a beating like never before. The water we have to bathe in seems to have somehow discolored the thread.

Last week after I was told about all that was being done on my behalf, I came back to my cell glowing, and decided I would restore the necklace. I utilized a combination of candle wax, the tag from my Nike gym shorts, some yellow thread and needle. It is not as 'stylee' as before, but it has taken on a new life, as have I, and symbolizes my life force in the face of this new chapter.

The best analogy I have come across for being locked up here is that it's like being buried alive. It is like having a cave collapse around you leaving just enough room to breathe and touch your toes. At first you are shocked and terrified. Time and space come to mean something totally different than before. You sleep a lot in the beginning. It is almost like a body function similar to hibernation that activates to deal with the extreme trauma. When you are asleep, you're not imprisoned.

The physical and mental claustrophobia sets in hard and never lets up. I reached a point where I had no choice but to turn and face it, let it cut deeply, let if ferment, and then I was able to transcend the new references of time and space. At this point it becomes a state of mind called "doing time."

I have buried myself in books, I meditate and pray, I live in my head and feel very centered. My spirits rise and fall. I refuse to join a gang. I maintain my independence and only socialize when I exercise and play soccer in the gallery. Despite the hardship and loss of freedom, I am developing. I'm developing in ways that would not be possible unless I was walking this path. I see this as a test; a rite of passage. I will not be defeated and I will see each and every one of you on the free side.

A friend asked in a letter, "Where are you pulling your strength from?" The answer is - all of you are my strength. The prayers, the campaigns, the letters, the movement - without you I would be lost.

I send my deepest and purest love to every person that reads these lines.

Eric V.
Tipitapa, Nicaragua

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Feel BETRAYED, Mr. Gore!

And it's TRUE!


HOUSE # 1: A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In ONE MONTH ALONE this mansion consumes more energy than the average American household in an ENTIRE YEAR. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2,400.00 per month. In natural gas alone (which last time we checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not in a northern or Midwestern "snow belt," either. It's in the South.

HOUSE # 2: Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67°F) heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE # 1 (20 room energy guzzling mansion) is outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It is the abode of that renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore.

HOUSE # 2 (model eco-friendly house) is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas. Also known as "the Texas White House," it is the private residence of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Anybody wanna kitten?

Friend Rachel has sadly realized that her new, adorable kitten Atari (isn't that just the coolest name?!) is giving her bad allergies, and must part with her, now that she's been housetrained and doctored and everything... please read if interested!

See? People Agree With Me!

Long-time readers of my vicissitudes may recall my theory on Experiential Age as opposed to Chronological Age. The basic equation is this: Since the majority of women my age are married with children, I am therefore lacking those significant maturing experiences a woman of my age should have.


Subtract 3 years for the husband I don't have, and

Subtract 4 years for the children I don't have.

So I'm only 31. Yay!

So today I stumbled across this strip by one of my favorite (relatively unknown) cartoonists:

Theoretical Validation!