Saturday, April 30, 2011



I will be bringing the Sunday morning message at this year's family camp on 7/10/2011 right here at good ol' Camp Maranatha. These opportunities are fewer and further between than I would like, but then again I haven't been actively beating the bushes to seek them out so maybe it's a case of not receiving what I have not asked for. In any event, I am excited for the opportunity, and I'm praying that I would be filled with the Spirit as I share the message.


Monterey was an "overheard" bonanza. I think that's because the place was literally teeming with people on vacation, and I have observed that people who are vacationing are much more free with overheards than those who are found in their normal environs. I think this is so because of the quasi-anonymity that comes with being on vacation.

I will break down the overheards I gleened into the following 4 categories and spread them out over four posts;

1. Overheard Cell Phone Chatter
2. Overheard in passing
3. Overheard through the window of room 393, The Clement
4. Overheard at restaurants

Let's tackle them in order, shall we?


Almost every morning while we were in Monterey I woke up about an hour or so before Sarah and went down to the hotel's main lobby to read my Bible before starting the day in earnest. As I walked through the quiet corridors, the smell of breakfast fixings and freshly brewed coffee wafted up to me from the hotel's kitchen, reminding me that somewhere deep in the bowels of the hotel people were laboring. I was surprised to find that this knowledge filled me with a perverse joy. The feeling was somewhat akin to what I used to experience when I would see the school bus go by, filled with its miserable cargo, after I had graduated a free man from High School. It may have been wrong, this feeling I had, and, if so, you may consider this a confession, but that is how I felt. Perhaps I was like Magua, whose heart had become twisted and who made himself into what twisted him. Or perhaps the Elois and the Morlocks would be a more fitting literary analogy for my lack of empathy for the grunts laboring away in their shadowy underworld. Anyway, the confession is this, my joy was magnified all the more by these occasional reminders of the work-a-day world, which I had blissfully stepped outside of. So with the smell of breakfast and coffee in my nose, and the knowledge that deciding where to eat would be the most difficult decision I would be called upon to make that day, I kicked on down to the main lobby feeling light as a feather.

There I joined a group of business men who I suspect were from the east coast.  I supect so because it was early in the morning here in CA, but the eastern seaboard, which is three hours ahead, of course, had been open for business for quite a while by then. These men had spread out in the spacious lobby with their laptops flipped open, papers spread around them, and with cell phones pressed to their ears. For some reason it struck me as funny to see them conducting business in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. It was kind of like watching a policeman arrest somebody in his pajamas. I wondered if the people on the other end of the telephone imagined them in their normal  uniform of suit and tie as they talked. Probably.

It was the same group of three men that I joined each morning. The first was an older gentleman with a stately bearing who spoke in a very level, matter-of-fact sort of way. He looked and acted the part of an executive, like he was right out of central casting. I thought it curious that for three mornings in a row he had a folded up newspaper and a tall glass of orange juice on the table to his left, which he never touched. The second man was short, with a dark, mediteranean complexion and an enormous gold watch on his wrist. He talked with a rapid fire brilliance, which amazed and fascinated me. No sooner had a question been posed to him then he shot off an answer, and that without a shade of doubt or hesitation. Between phone calls he would slump in his chair and fiddle on his laptop with a bored expression on his face. He seemed most alive when he was on the phone. The third man was different than the first two in that man #1 and #2 both kept their phone calls short and talked probably 75% of the time. Business Man #3's calls were longer and he mostly listened, occasionally inserting an "uh-huh" to demonstrate that he was still listening. He was also younger. Maybe my age? He had longish, red hair, which fell scruffily below his ears, and he also had small, close set eyes in an impossibly broad, round, flat face. This gave the strange effect that he was like a huge, walking doll. Not like a store-bought doll, but more like one that had been manufactured exclusively from available materials in the hard-scrabble hills of Appalachia. Despite his appearance, which truly struck me as kind of unfortunate, I judged from the conversations which I overheard that he was a person of weight and substance within his sphere of influence.

Business Man #1-

"No, tell Stan he doesn't need to do that. I'll be back next week and I'll take care of it then."

"Which one? Philadelphia or Virginia? (brief pause) Virginia! (another brief pause, then...) D*** it!"

"See if he'll come down some more, and if not, then give Wayne a call and see where he prices that at."

"We're in Monterey. (pause) Yeah, it's beautiful. (pause) Okay then, I'll see you next week. Have it set up for me when I get back. Talk to you then."

Business Man #2-

"Hey! How are ya?"

"No. Have Bruce do it."

"Discount him 20%."

"Don't worry about that. Just have her forward me the quote."

"He's still under budget for the quarter though."

"No, that's right. That's what I told him before I left."

Business Man #3-

"Go ahead and set aside 400K for John."

"Tell him I said not to do that until after the meeting."

"Let's reschedule. I think they need more time."

"I think that's fair, but have him send it over to Tim anyway."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This part of the forest is thick
It hems in closely all around
Branches mingle in the sky
Roots interweave underground
The forest edge absorbs the wind
It does not penetrate here
Where the sun is strained through layered leaves
And the way is made unclear
By a forest wall, a wall of trees
Closing in on every side
And through these dense and tangled woods
There are no paths to meet my stride
So over, under, round and through
I make my way as best I can
Through woods that are ill-designed
For the passage of a man

Yet the woods are interrupted
Somewhere up ahead I know
By the edges of a field
Where trees give way to meadow
And through the meadow runs a brook
Broken free from the forest ranks
And like fabric along a zipper
The fields run along its banks
It runs for a mile or two
And along its course I'll roam
Before it intersects the road
That will lead me back to home
For though that way is less direct
Than returning the way I came
In terms of time it'll take
It is really about the same
For woods as dense as these
Are slower though shorter in span
Due to the fact they're ill-designed
For the passage of a man.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


With the release of the 2011 schedule by the National Football League I am finally able to set a date for "Happy Day," which is a holiday celebrated annually among the greater Tate confederacy on the occasion of the first nationally televised Redskins game. This year Happy Day comes early, during week 3, when the Skins fly to Big D to take on their arch rivals, the Cowboys, in a Monday night showdown under the lights. The game is scheduled for September 26th at 8:30 EST. Both the Redskins and the Cowboys had a disappointing season in 2010 so I think they'll both show up with a lot to prove. I better start looking in the woods for a Happy Day Tree.

I can't wait. Go Skins!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


A pleasant moment with friends can be a fragile thing, and introducing a camera into such a moment can be like yelling into the stillness of a new day. The moment hardens and becomes something else. At such times the camera makes a statement when things are better left unsaid. Just enjoy it and let it pass unphotographed.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Why do they freak me out so? I really find them kind of unnerving, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is that bothers me about them. Photos of suspects don't usually have the same affect on me. Just artist renderings. Anybody?


 In our hotel, The Clement, there was a staircase leading down to the main lobby which had been made to create the illusion that you were walking underwater. Sarah called it the "magical staircase." I appreciated the creativity of it and I thought the effect was kinda mesmerizing. Colors shifted and danced on the walls like an abalone shell in the sun, and hanging directly overhead, on the lower landing, was a jellyfish chandelier.
 If you laid beneath the big jellyfish it actually felt kind of sinister though. Like it might sting you and eat you if it became aware of your presence.

 I pawed through the leavings outside of room 224 looking for anything that looked untouched and delicious enough to pilfer. I'm a class act.
 Slim pickings.
 So I took their sprig of rosemary and tucked it behind my ear which, I think you'll agree, lent kind of a jaunty air to the adventures that would follow.
 For some reason it also made me feel a little like Caesar as well.
 I found the door out onto the "ocean view terrace" off of the second floor, but at night the ocean was just a black field beyond the far railing. I could hear it sloshing against the pilings though and I could smell it too. I love the smell of the ocean. I leaned against the railing for awhile and did my my best to catch an "overheard" from the group sitting around the fire pit (upper left) but they were talking too softly to hear anything, although occasionally they would burst into riotous laughter, which piqued my curiosity. It looked nice though, sitting around a fire while the ocean lapped against the pilings, talking, laughing and nursing a drink. I'm glad it was just Sarah and I on this vacation, after all that was the point, but for just a moment as I watched and tried to listen I wished that we too had brought some friends along to share the time with.
 Leaving the terrace, I made my way down the magic staircase, out through the lobby, past the front desk where I nodded to the concierge, who called out "Have a good evening, sir," before slipping outside onto Cannery Row. Cannery Row, immortalized in Steinbeck's classic of the same name, is not the blue-collar place it once was. It is now a tourist mecca. During the day throngs of tourists pass up and down past its shops and eateries, which allowed for some of the best people-watching I have enjoyed in a long time. People interest me more than just about anything else, and there were some of the finest, most interesting homo sapiens there for me to watch.
 I stopped to snap a picture of city lights on the far side of the bay.
 For the most part everything along Cannery Row had closed up for the night, but music was throbbing and spilling out into the street from "Sly McFly's." I stepped into the doorway just long enough to snap a picture of the people dancing. The smell of alcohol hung over everything and everybody seemed a little warm around the edges. There was lots of laughter and back slapping going on. One lady, with curly brown hair, high heels, leopard print pants and a leather jacket, was standing around the corner, leaning against the building and crying softly. I asked her if she was okay, and she said "Yeah, I'm fine." I kept walking. I have no doubt there would have been some grade A "overheards" at Sly McFly's if I had hung around but it really wasn't my scene.
Just before heading out on my walk, Sarah and I had been sitting in the hotel's hot tub when a couple of drunk, twenty-something girls had come into the pool area. I think they might have jumped over the wall. Anyway they stripped down and started skinny dipping in the adjacent pool. I said "Sarah, that girl's naked!" Sarah made me close my eyes and turn my head in the opposite direction (which was entirely unnecessary, by the way) and then yelled "Hey! Girls! Get dressed already! What do you think you're doing?" Sarah is kind of a bull dog like that, and is also a law and order kind of girl which I appreciate. Once Sarah confronted them, the girls beat a hasty retreat and, in so doing, they accidentally grabbed up my shirt with their stuff. So now I'm down one undershirt. Anyway, the reason I tell that story is that as I walked along I noticed that there were lots of drunks out and about. So when I discovered this hole in the sidewalk (below) I became concerned that one of them might accidentally step into it and break their ankle.
It was definitely a hazard.
 I found the heavy iron post that slides into the hole in a nearby flower bed. I figure somebody probably removed it to drive alongside the restaurant, and had forgotten to put it back when they were done.
 I set things to right, and instantly felt better about the situation.
 Directly behind our hotel there was some sort of art gallery with a pretty courtyard. I found a homeless man sleeping there. Sarah had spent some time reading in the courtyard earlier in the day and a homeless man had approached her and advised her of his intention to sleep there that night, but when I pointed out the man to Sarah in the morning she said it was not the same man. The presence of so many wealthy people engaged in leisure activities alongside homeless people and tramps also engaged in leisure activities (but of a different sort) was an interesting sight to ponder.
From outside, I sat and watched people mingling and dancing at a second-floor dance club not far from the hotel. As I watched I noticed some bouncers forcibly ejecting two men of unknown  South (or Central) American origin.
 The bouncers seemed nervous that I was taking pictures, and, in fact, after the guys had been expelled their leader confronted me. "Hey man, why you taking pictures?" he asked. "Oh, it's for my blog." He looked at me, with a jaunty sprig of rosemary tucked behind my ear, like he didn't know quite what to do with me. I had the distinct feeling that he wanted me to leave so I said "Hey man, I liked the way you handled that. I was a police officer for a while and I can see that you guys really know how to handle yourselves." That seemed to pacify him, and I quickly made my exit while he was still cool with me.
 One of the guys being expelled kept yelling over and over "I know djooo!" which is exactly what people would often yell at me when I was dealing with them as a police officer. I wonder what they are trying to communicate by aggressively saying that over and over. Are they saying they're gonna come find me later and mess me up?  Or what? I never understood it. The other thing that they would often say while I was arresting them or moving them along, which was different but also had a similarly ominous feel to it, was "You don't know who I am!" Both are kind of threatening in a vague sort of way. It was nostalgic for me to listen in on their drunken exchange though.

Along the bike trail behind the hotel somebody had written "GOD LIES" into the dust of an old abandoned train car. Earlier in the week as Sarah and I were walking past we had noticed the blasphemous piece of grafitti and Sarah had artfully changed it to read "BOB LIES."
 I stopped outside of Jose's Bar and Grill and listened to a man talking to a female employee who was out of sight doing something work-related. I assume the man was not an employee because he was just leaning up against the building talking to the girl who was busily working. I got the impression that he liked the girl, but that she was just trying to get her work done so she could go home. I can't be sure that was the case, but that was my impression as I looked on. I think she may have even been annoyed with him because she would respond to what he was saying only when she absolutely had to and then only with short, clipped responses. As I walked away I heard him say, "I actually saw them in concert once. I had really good seats. Most people think they're kind of R&B, but I think they're in a class all by themselves." The girl just mumbled "Uh-huh."

 There is art everywhere in Monterey. A lot of scultpures and a lot of murals. I really liked this one painted on what was left of an old cannery wall right in front of the ocean. I think it was brave to put this painting in a place where it could be so easily defaced.
 Lying in the sand in front of the mural was an abandoned baseball cap belonging to one "Alex B." The hat was in good shape so I assumed that it had been lost or forgotten there and not intentionally left behind.

 I took it back up to the street where Alex B. might find it as he was walking past in the morning. "Ahhhh, my hat!" I imagined him saying.
 Then I flip-flopped my way back to our room at the Clement.
 Up the elevator.
 Down the hall.
And into room 393.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011


1. My pants fall down because my butt is flat as a board. I need a little more to hang my pants on, ya know?

2. I wonder if a baseball player could hit a homerun with a stationary ball or does the velocity of the pitch contribute to the distance a baseball player can hit the ball?

3. I love volunteering to take group pictures for strangers. It feels so validating to be trusted with their cameras, and I come away from the experience feeling all aglow, like I'm the kindest, thoughtfullest, most big-hearted person in the world for thinking to ask if I could take their picture for them.

4. Why are girls never accused of chauvinism when they are clearly chauvinistic sometimes? In fact their chauvinism is more overt and vocal. For that matter lots of people know the word misogyny, which means the hatred of women, but tell me what is the word for the hatred of men?

5. I think the appeal of stonehenge is its mystery. If the true story was told about how and why the ancients did what they did it might just seem a little silly. Maybe there's no great wisdom behind it. Could be just silly.

6. Why do they call it the "high" seas? It's at sea level obviously.

7. I love being the guy to push the buttons in elevators. I am always vaguely disappointed when someone else gets to push the buttons.

8. I want to have a special relationship with the sea lions. I want them to love me in a unique, special way and to reject the rest of humanity. Like, I wish I could climb up onto that raft with them and take a little nap, but if somebody else tried to do it they would get bitten. I want them to love me and hate all the rest of you.

9. The trouble with the beach is all of this sand.

10. If all the land in the world became ocean and all the ocean became land (if they switched) then Monterey Bay would become a large peninsula jutting out into the North American Sea. What's interesting though is that Panama would still be an important link between two oceans. They would call it the straights of Panama and they would run north to south instead of east to west.

11. If we got a second car I would want it to be an El Camino. Those cars are sweet, and they are kind of like the love child of a pickup truck and a sedan. The proof of the sedan's forbidden love for the pickup truck from the other side of the tracks is the El Camino. Her father, Lexus, and Mother, Mercedes, forbade their passion but love could not be fenced in. The result- El Camino!

12. God was kind to give squirrels fluffy tails. Just think if they were hairless tails like rats. We would all hate them and call them tree rats. It would make their efforts to steal from bird feeders even more sinister. Same with Raccoons. Imagine a raccoon with a long scaley tail climbing out of your trash can. It's not a little rascal anymore is it? Shudder. Davy Crockett would have had to find another signature piece of haberdashery to keep the rain off.


Despite Sheriff Lovely's unlawful efforts to seize control of the BFZ while I was away I'm back and I have sent sent him whimpering into the night like a frightened jackal. Special thanks to my Brother, Job, for the able job that he did filling in for your's truly while I was out of town.
I just spent the most wonderful week in Monterey, CA with Sarah. I mean wonderful in the truest sense of the word. Break it down with me into its component parts- WONDER + FULL= WONDERFUL. Full of wonders.  All five senses- sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch- were pushed to the point of exhaustion trying to take it all in, and I doubt very much that I am a capable enough writer to distill the experience down into words. I might try a little though. Perhaps I do not need to reinvent the wheel. Steinbeck already did the job of committing the Monterey experience to paper in "Cannery Row" and "Tortilla Flats." So if you would like to take a literary vacation to Monterey, I think Steinbeck would make an excellent guide. After all. anyone who has gained an appreciation for reading has also provided himself with a means of escape and a cheap vacation.

Speaking of the five senses, how amazingly extravagant is the Creator of this world who authored the colors of a sunset and poppies in the dunes, the smell of wood smoke on the beach and good things cooking, the sound of waves crashing and sea lions barking, the taste of crab and salt water taffy, the joys of sex or the feel of a hot tub on a cold night? He didn't just give us the minimum, the barest essentials that we need to survive and propagate the earth. No, he gifted us with all of these extraordinary things and more besides. He's extravagant and wonderfully generous, and the trip was made worshipful for me in that every moment was full of an awareness of the Creator who purposefully made these things to be enjoyed, and in enjoying them I also worshiped.

Posts to follow...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Breaking...Sheriff Lovely seizes BFZ as evidence.


After taking his hat off and using it to solemnly cover his heart, Sheriff Lovely whistled a low whistle and announced that he was seizing the entire BFZ and all its contents as evidence in what he described as an "ongoing" and "widespread" investigation into suspected mismanagement, graft and open corruption at Bobberball's highest levels. "I done had my first suspicions when we done had no 2010 tourn-i-ment. I done never even gots my trophies from the 2009 tourn-i-ment."

"Dagnabit," Sheriff Lovely added.

Reports indicated that the owner of the BFZ, Josh Tate, was away on a high-falooting vacation with his exotic wife in Catalina, California and that Tate has left his brother, Job, in charge of the site. While there were attempts to block the seizure, Sheriff Lovely ultimately gained access to the dashboard where he found Job hurriedly deleting past posts.

"Yep. I found that Tate youngin in there trying to dispose of ev-i-dence. I seen him before. Born cheater that one. He weights," Lovely said, referring to the illegal practice of adding coins or other items to a bobber to keep it from hitting the ceiling...a serious charge.

"This is my site now," Lovely proclaimed loudly. "Ima get to the bottom of this! Yessiree."

as of press time reports that WBA funds were used to fund the trip to Catalina were unconfirmed...but likely.

From the archives....

Joshua Bowden Tate boldly secures the class presidency by vowing to shave all his hair off.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I am the last of a once proud race of Tate bachelors. I know the day is coming when I too shall fall but in the mean time I take pleasure in continuing to try and improve upon living alone...and I would like to share with you one of my "tips".
At the end of the day when you take off your socks, put them on your hands and take 90 seconds or so to dust. The socks should be slightly humid from the grossness of your feet and they were heading to the hamper anyway. I think you'll find the results above average and the savings in paper products over a year surprising.

And for all you sandal, croc-wearing Californians? A t-shirt works too.