Archive for June, 2011

Don’t touch me, please….

Don’t touch me, please, just leave me alone, and if you talk to me, just look across the room when you’re doing so, because I’ll be doing the same, I’ll be looking away, but listening, and listening still, I’ll see the words in their letters bound, with all the possible meanings that might be there, I’ll stop, I’ll halt, I’ll run along, I’ll interrupt, I’ll be not calm, my hands will wander, my fingers will pick and pry, I’ll look at you when you’re looking away, but I’ll be listening still and listening still.

When you walk away from our talk’s circuitous talk, I’ll wonder still at the words and then.  I’ll wonder for a while and decide, and then I’ll send them away, like you, in their categories, their phrases and their speaking and thoughts.  I understood it all, or most of it and then, sometimes I got some of it, but not all of it, and it registers in some forms, but not in others’ nuances.  It makes sense most times or sometimes, but not in other times, and you won’t know which it is, in these or those, not now nor then.

Sometimes your words scrape the insides of my ears before they reach my brain.  I hear their clicking and crunching ways and the wet spit that sticks to their sides, I notice when some letters are missing, like when your mouth gets lazy or you talk too fast, they catch in my ear canals when you say them wrongly, improperly, incorrectly, out of place, out of tune, out of context, in error, in mis-thought, whatever, when you emphasize the wrong syllable or say coush instead of couch.  The letters get jammed up in my ears sometimes so the other words can’t get through and then I hear your voice rise and rise and the letters get more jammed still, they run and run and crash into the sides of my insides, my ears and veins and arteries, too, they make my lungs pump harder and harder and faster still, the words are still clogged in their letters’ catching and the thoughts are gone and the letters become numbers and I hate numbers and they’re all a-squiggle and mean nothing as my heart is pounding in my head and my fingers pick their other fingers and everything gets fuzzy from the inside, hazy and undefined and I don’t know what you’re saying and thinking and your eyes are piercing when I glance at them for a micro-second from my turned head and I hear the spit in the corners of your mouth squish and squash as your mouth flaps and keeps throwing other words and letters into my ears and I wish you’d just shut-up and leave me alone and please don’t touch me, just go away, don’t step any closer or any closer, don’t talk any louder or any louder, just close your mouth and leave before I explode in your face with my eyes wide wide open and hands curled into fists and I’m staring straight ahead but looking for something to throw or hit and my hands crash into my head and I scream at you and pull my hair and scratch my face and I’m suddenly strong with a stupid strong and you can’t hold me, no, get away, leave me alone, stop talking, don’t touch me, the letters are all stuck and I hate you and I hate me and you get away from me and what do you want and what did I say and my cat died when I was four and you went on those stupid interviews and it snowed today and it rained today and where’s the goddamned sun today and it’s okay if you’re shy and I didn’t have a melt-down so that I wouldn’t have to finish my homework and I said it myself and the baby was crying and I just wanted to help and go away, just get away, and stop with the words, don’t touch me, put your eyes away…and hold me, crush me, just wrap me up, hum a deep hum deep into my core and the parts of my cells, just be a nothing with me for a minute more, until I don’t feel these things anymore, just for a minute more, long minutes more, until the letters get unstuck in my ears and I can hear what you’re saying again, just leave me alone, don’t touch me, please…but don’t let me go.


it rained again

It rained again in that place where memories are stored, where the synapses fire and storm and lay things waste and then they are gone again or whole again and the images and sounds and scents live in the memories where we laid them those years ago, where they got tucked away somehow and have been waiting, if memories can wait, for us to rekindle them to their cogent prescience, for us to make them live again. 

Those pictures lived, then, they were images and words wrought together with footsteps down hallways, belts rattling into their drawer at the end of the day, a rough hand on a cheek, the smell of gum and tobacco smoke, and the image of a big yellow car slowly easing itself into the driveway,Vitalis in his hair and the shuffle and hitch of the arm or hand into his waistband, keys and coins rattling and black-framed glasses surrounding the dark, sad eyes again…and the gift of a shiny red pocket knife…and after sand through the glass, a car in a time of need, a gesture, an attempt…what can I do?  Moments and years and two or three lifetimes and the breath stops and the cheeks are tucked into place with clay or toothpicks or whatever the embalmer uses, and a little smile lives and holds that rictus shape until the crematory’s fires take it away.  He was an old man early, and gone, limiting his life by wanting to live only so long, so that’s what he did, just for so long…testify, prophecy….  And I wonder what he really wanted, what he really desired and didn’t quite get.  What dream remained unfulfilled, what heights weren’t reached?  I don’t know.  I have tainted memories and the taste of ocher, but that was my experience…what was he to someone else, what was he to his friends, what redeemed him when nobody else was around, or when he was in some others’ eyes, and not mine?  What unconfessed sins tormented his soul, or what happiness lived there, even, beyond others’ eyes and mine?  I don’t know what made him happy, or sad, or what left him feeling empty, what defined loss for him, or love…what stranger did he long for, what living or dead person didn’t fill a void that he needed filling, what or whom did he mourn, or caused him to smile when nobody was watching?  Did he really believe in a god, did he really believe that he was going to live with a heavenly father when he died, that he would walk on streets of gold up there when his life was informed by asphalt and broken concrete…was that going to be his reward, really, did he actually believe that…did he have to turn off a part of his brain to do so, or did it just come naturally, did he like flowers or football, or what about weeds and wild grasses that grow along rushing mountain streams?  Did he love his father, or even know him…or forgive him…or sin against him and not forgive himself after all those years?  I don’t know…and at the end of it all, it’s for naught anyway, the deeds are done, the tears fallen, the regret swallowed and poisoned the body to the marrow, and maybe the only redeeming truth is that he didn’t know how to be what he was, didn’t know how to be what he wouldn’t have chosen to be, and he had no guide along the way to steer him out of the footsteps that had been laid before him….

And it rained again as the thoughts fired upon themselves as the fingers tapped the keys and as the neurons kicked themselves and rocked themselves and curled around their own shadows again and shot again into the void, into the primordial abyss of eternity that ranges in the wasted spaces between the fibers and strands of the cerebral mass. 

Why are you crying, Daddy?

*neuron activity photo found via google at www.darkgovernment.com


Along the way to Grandeur Peak

It’s been a while since I’ve climbed a mountain…it has literally been half of my lifetime.  I’ve climbed among them, through their forests, and along their streams, but not since I was 24 have I actually climbed to the summit of a mountain.  When I was of that younger age, a friend and I took our dogs and climbed the north spur of Blodgett Peak just north of Colorado Springs…back in the days before they cleared a trail that led to the summit from the south side.  At any rate, yesterday, I followed the trail to the top of Grandeur Peak with numerous other Saturday-morning hikers, single individuals and groups of two and three or more.  I started essentially at the Church Fork trailhead, at 5,900 feet, followed the three-mile trail, and made the summit at 8,299 feet approximately two and a half hours later.  I hope you enjoy the photos.

Looking to the west through Millcreek Canyon, you can see the Oquirrh Mountains on the far side of the Salt Lake Valley.

Another forest pathway…taking you away….

The higher I climbed, the greater and more spectacular the view….

I came across probably a dozen streams rushing or slowly making their way down the mountainsides.

As the trail climbed across the mountains, there were many switchbacks….

I had never seen Mt. Olympus from the west before, I have always seen it while looking east, so this is essentially the backside of the mountain…the standing plates from the other side….

And this is Grandeur Peak…not much to look at from its backside, really, but it does afford quite a view of the surrounding mountains.

And now those surrounding mountains and valleys…astoundingly beautiful…

A closer look at what is actually the eastern side of Mt. Olympus….

I asked another hiker to take a picture of me on the summit, but this one is more interesting, the National Geodetic Survey marker planted on the mountain-top in 1973.

And finally, near the last quarter of the trip back down the mountain pathway, it was like entering a forest cathedral with the living arches of a beautiful sanctuary….


What does “KOA-789” stand for, or mean?

Very simply, KOA-789 was the call-sign, or call-letters, of the Phoenix Police Department’s radio station – very similar to what you would hear the DJs or commercial radio station announcers say over the air, or the way you would even refer to the radio station itself, like KSLX, KDKB, or KJZZ, KNIX, etc.  While it may sound odd that a police department would have a radio station, it helps to understand that the FCC considers the collective of radio frequencies, or radio system, that a police, fire, or other public safety agency uses for communication purposes, to be a “station.”

When I said that KOA-789 were the call-letters, I meant that they used to be and technically no longer are.  Several years ago, Phoenix Police upgraded their radio system to an 800MHz technology, no longer using the antiquated UHF radio-frequency system that is still in use by many smaller agencies across the country.  The 800MHz system is digital and has many advantages over the older system.  It also automatically sends a signal broadcasting its own unique digital marker, or call-letters, over the air.

The FCC has rules that require radio stations to announce the call letters and time on the hour and half-hour marks.  In specific regard to Phoenix Police, and likely other police agencies, as well, when they were operating with the older radio system, dispatchers used to announce the time and radio station call-letters according to FCC regulations.  It was often in conjunction with dispatching a call, during the broadcast of some other pertinent radio traffic, or when the dispatcher from one precinct’s frequency had finished giving information on another precinct’s frequency, as in – “the frequency’s clear at twenty-three-forty-six-hours, K-O-A-seven-eighty-nine.”  During the late hours of the night or very early hours of the morning when the radio was quiet, meaning that no officers were clearing the dispatcher or each other, the dispatcher would simply announce the time and call-letters – “It’s zero-three-hundred-hours, K-O-A-seven-eighty-nine.”

Over the years, the call-letters somehow morphed into a symbol or a trademark of the department, so that whenever one saw or heard the letters, the meaning was well-known or understood – at least by officers and dispatchers, as they were the ones commonly using the call-letters.  At some point, license plate frames were made and distributed (sold to employees) with “Phoenix KOA-789” on them, so that the vehicle owner/driver could tell other drivers, and police officers specifically, that they were part of the Phoenix Police family.  Other police agencies would have their own call-letters for their radio “stations” that were in a similar form, which meant that their officers would recognize the license plate frame information and consider that the driver was a police employee.  On a trip to California, I happened to see a frame on a vehicle that said “Los Angeles KOA-XXX.”  I don’t remember the specific numbers that came after the KOA, but I was surprised to see that LAPD had their own license plate frames.

Again, KOA-789 used to be the call-letters of the Phoenix Police Department’s radio station.  With the advent of the 800MHz technology, the dispatchers were instructed to stop broadcasting the letters with the time on the hour and half-hour marks during their shift; they were told that it was actually prohibited.  That change in radio systems, however, doesn’t prevent police employees from putting the “slogan” on their cars or saying it among themselves, or even tagging the letters onto the end of a story, the recounting of a sentimental or nostalgic memory about a former employee, or even a recollection of how things were “in the good ol’ days.”  The use of the letters is not likely so common among the newer officers and dispatchers, but to remove it from the veterans’ vernacular would be akin to removing it from the department’s coat of arms or family crest, for it remains a symbol of belonging, comraderie, and family among those who work for the department (or used to).

This article was written in response to several people finding their way to my blog, somehow, when checking the internet with search queries of “what does KOA-789 stand for?” or “what is KOA-789.”  While some of the technical information might not be 100% accurate, it represents my understanding of the history of the call-letters from having been a police 9-1-1 operator, dispatcher, and communications supervisor with the Phoenix Police Department for over 10 years.  Please feel free to submit your corrections or additions to the information…at zero-nine-hundred-hours, K-O-A -seven-eighty-nine….


View from that pedestrian bridge….

Several weeks ago, I shared a post about a pedestrian bridge that’s about a mile and a half from our house.  I suppose the essay focused more on despair and hope than it did on the bridge itself, but it also touched on the view from up on the bridge and how one might gain perspective or even peace in such an unlikely place.  Anyway, I returned to the bridge this evening to take pictures of the view so that I might share them and maybe offer something tangible to go along with the words in the writing.  If you’d like to read the essay, click on the words The Pedestrian Bridge and they will take you to it.  If not, I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures by themselves.

Not real pretty to look at, but it serves its purpose.

Mt. Olympus from the side…like a plate standing on its edge.

It looks like the freeway leads right into the canyon, but it actually heads to the left and skirts the Wasatch range…kind of a peacefully distracting view on the way home from work at the end of the day.

This is the view just to the right of the last picture…incredible mountains.

Looking through the fence, the thing that keeps us safe up there, provides a boundary somehow…but one that we can see through, obviously, so that we can still measure our lives and problems against something a bit more permanent, something of a grander scale that might offer perspective to whatever is happening in our day-to-day.

Looking to the west, we find the Oquirrh Mountains, not as majestic or awe-inspiring as the Wasatch range, but still beautiful in the right light.  It’s not in the picture, but off to the right of this mountain chain, viewed from the proper height, one can see the Great Salt Lake.

Can you imagine looking out your back window at all of that?  Amazing….

Utahns really like their flags…they’re everywhere, it seems.

Bells Canyon’s Peaks…there’s a beautiful waterfall up in this canyon, you can see photos of it in some of my other posts.

Classic view of the Wasatch range…there was still snow on the peaks and in those veins when I visited Salt Lake last July.