July 15, 2011 3:35 AM

A trip to times gone by in the Wayback Machine

Every now and then I have an experience that reminds me what an amazing place I live in….

I left my cell phone at home this morning, so when I got to work, I turned around and headed back to Seabrook. As I passed the Nassau Bay Hilton on Nasa Road 1, Clear Lake unfolded to my right, the the sun glistening off the surface in a exquisite Chamber of Commerce moment. Combine that with the palm trees, and I was in awe. For someone who grew up in a landlocked state that resembles frozen tundra five months out of the year, it was a truly transcendent moment. When life catches up with me and begins to drag me down, driving along the waterfront will invariably help restore my equilibrium and my sanity.

I live less than a mile away from the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes I’ll drive down Todville Road and marvel at the view while I dream of building a house on the waterfront. I’ve never wanted a sailboat (not that I would turn one down…), but a house on the waterfront would be a dream come true. There is something about the ocean that calms me like nothing else can. Once in a while I’ll pull my truck off the road, get out, and just watch the ocean. It can be mesmerizing, and it can be almost meditative in it’s peacefulness.

Thanks to mi socio en el crimen, Sean Paul Kelley, I’ve discovered the joys of the Internet Archive. My archives go back to August, 2002, which is when I switched to Movable Type, but the archives from September, 2001 and July 2002 have vanished. That was back when I was hand-coding The People’s Republic of Seabrook in HTML, which, while fun at the time, is not an experience I’d really care to repeat.

I spent some time perusing what I could find of TPRS on the Internet Archive, and I found it to be an interesting exercise. First of all, I think I’m a better writer than I generally give myself credit for, but I found myself marveling at how much things have changed over the course of 10 years. The passage above is from 8.6.02, when I was still living in Seabrook, TX, when I was still happily married, and when life on the Gulf Coast seemed pretty good. Who was to know that within a few years, I would be back here in Portland, divorced, and sick of Texas?

Then again, the fun thing about the summer of 2002 was that I ended up traveling to St. Paul, MN, Niagara Falls, AND the Grand Canyon. No, it did not suck to be Jack that summer….

Right now, as you read this,
17 Million Americans are having SEX!
And you’re on the computer!

As this blog has changed and evolved over the past 10 years (yes, 9.3.11 will make it an even decade), it appears I’ve managed to do the same. It hasn’t always been pretty…and it certainly hasn’t been a straight line, but things have changed, and I hope primarily for the better.

I still harbor the dream of actually being able to make a living off my writing. That may or may not ever happen, but doing this for the past 10 years has certainly been an eye-opening experience. This is especially true when I take a look at my referrer logs, and note that my readers literally come from all over the world- from Singapore to Bratislava to Lake Oswego to Houston to Moscow and all points in between. Somewhere in an Internet cafe in Karachi, someone is hunched over their keyboard and thinking, “Who in Allah’s name IS this f…..g idiot??”

It’s 39 degree here in the balmy People’s Republic of Seabrook this fine Sunday morning. I know that to those of you unfortunate enough to reside north of the Mason-Dixon Line that might not seem so bad. Even so, there is a reason that palm trees thrive here. Things that grow and live here (and that includes people) tend to like finding ice in their gin-and-tonics, not on their streets. But, I digress, and I’ve not even begun to spew forth what’s on my mind….

One might think,…that “common sense” is a quality that seems to be the exclusive property of Conservatives. Au contraire, mon cheri, but that is an argument I’ll leave for another day. (I don’t want to use ALL my material….) I still believe strongly in Liberal political philosophy- which, I might add, brought us things like the New Deal, without which we’d probably be Canada. The essence of Liberalism, as I have come to understand it, is that the well-being of the community is every bit as, and in some cases more, important than the well-being of the individual. I believe it is our responsibility to look out for and after one another, not necessarily to the the point of providing handouts to the poor, but recognizing that those who have bear an obligation to support those who may not.

Where Liberalism runs into problems these days is on the terrorism, security, and law & order fronts. We Liberals have not done a good job of adapting to the realities of the post-9.11 world. Conservatives haven’t exactly done a great job, either, but they have been able to better define the arguments in terms of their strengths, and Liberals have had no real answer. That is why terrorism, security, and law & order have become Republican strongholds.

Historically, I have been something of a pacifist, and while I still abhor violence, I’m beginning to see that non-violence is not a perfect solution to all problems (of course, neither is violence). I believe there are times when it is necessary to defeat Evil, whether with violence or the mere threat of violence. We may not in the end even need to invade Iraq, but I believe that we need to prepare for that possibility. I still have some mixed feelings about sending our young men and women to fight in the streets of Baghdad, but sometimes you have to do what needs to be done.

Living in Texas as I do, it is tough to miss the significance and the impact of the death penalty. Huntsville is a regular state-sanctioned death factory, but few in this state shed tears for the executed. Hell, most executions don’t even merit but a couple column inches in the Houston Chronicle. Is it a good thing that we have grown accustomed to state-sanctioned assisted suicide? That’s a good question, but one also best left for another time.

This is where I begin to show my “common-sensical” side, for lack of a better way of describing it. I believe that there are some crimes so heinous that the death penalty, as currently practiced, is almost a break for the accused. A good example would be the DC Snipers. I said a few weeks ago that a fitting punishment would be to blindfold the perps and tie them to pillars at a gas station. Of course, this gas station would have to have a clear line of fine from a good distance, because the families of the victims would be firing on the snipers using a .223 Bushmaster. The families wouldn’t be shooting to kill, either; they’d would be winging the bastards, allowing them to suffer and die a slow painful death. A shoulder here, a kneecap there- just enough to make them realize what is happening to them. If we’re going to have and use the death penalty, after all, why not make the punishment fit the crime?. After all, if it really is “an eye for an eye”…?

I suppose the point I’m trying to make here is that I am not some dogmatic, McGovernite, long-haired, pot-smoking, love-bead wearing, knee-jerk Liberal. We live not in a black-and-white world, but one colored in subtle (and not-so-subtle) shades of grey. Labels are a black-and-white, one-size-fits-all proposition. While I know in my heart that the day I vote Republican is the day they hang a drool bucket around my neck, there is more to me than that damned “Liberal” label.

There have been people in life who, for any number of reasons that no longer matter, have failed to understand the importance of my little obsession. Someone once explained to me that artists must paint, singers must sing, and writers must write if they’re to maintain they’re sanity…and so it is with me. I keep writing because it keeps me balanced, and because it gives me an opportunity to get my creative ya-yas out. Given that my hosting service only charges me $9.95/month, it’s not as if have much of a financial commitment. The emotional and creative commitment, though, is what keeps me sane and something resembling balanced [insert joke here].

Some people collect stamps. Some do drugs. Some drink to excess. Some have extramarital affairs. I write. It’s safe, it’s legal, and no ever has to worry about where I am or what I’m doing…theoretically, at least. It’s what I need to do for myself and my sanity. It’s been that way my entire life, but particularly so over the past 10 years. Call it a hobby, or an obsession, or anything in between, but the end result is the same.

Thanks for coming along for the ride…. ;-)

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Cluth published on July 15, 2011 3:35 AM.

Today's GOP: now a personal responsibility-free zone was the previous entry in this blog.

A trip back into my tasteless archives is the next entry in this blog.

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