Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Little more of a chapter 1 of a possible dissertation...

I cut and pasted this from a pdf file that some doctoral candidate sent to me..shhhh...
For any time we interact with others or the material world we are attempting to change the lead of common experience into something more than it was before. (Cavelli, 2002, p. 17)

            The opening narrative of my experience in this story circle was written after a lab for a class on storytelling for peace and justice, an undergraduate liberal arts class at a university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. For this particular class, I was a teaching assistant in charge of facilitating discussions around helping students apply themes from traditional, oral stories into their own digital media projects around big ideas of peace and justice. In other words, I mentored students on the process of transforming traditional narratives into digital narratives where they projected themselves as central agents or actors for peace and justice, a daunting task for any of us. Yet, it is a task I find myself compelled to describe as I turn to investigate the lived experience of digital storytelling for the projecting of peaceful and just narratives. The discussion of authentic care and its manifestations in story heralded the following guiding questions regarding this investigation: In what ways do students enrolled in the Good Stories class use their experiences with story to transform themselves into perceptive beings engaged in authentic care? What are students’ experiences and conceptions of peace and justice? In what ways do their experiences with stories, oral and digital, reflect upon their experiences of peace and justice? What pedagogical insights may we distill from the students’ experiences with using digital storytelling as a vehicle to project narratives on big ideas like peace and justice?
            In order to seek understandings of the lived-experiences of digital storytelling in the present study, I employ hermeneutic phenomenology as the methodology for this seeking. In addition, in order to discern a better understanding of digital storytelling multimodal, multi-mediated essences, I choose alchemy and its spiritual practices of using the synergy of “base” experiences for transformation into a “just” soul; possibly just as important, alchemy can be a guide showing us how to transmute our lived-experiences into valuable digital stories to tell others.
            Heidegger’s (1962) analytic of Care as a result of our being thrown into a world means, for me, “that Being gets to me,” which means that being calls to me. My way of being seeks to use  story as method to transmit a peaceful and just narrative, which heralds the arrival of my caring and seeking for understandings of digital stories mediated through digital places. I am compelled to investigate the class on storytelling for peace and justice because it creates an exigent role for narrative and digital narratives in particular. It requires students to move beyond the autobiographical celebration of their own lived-experiences into projecting stories to better not only their own communities, but to act as counterfactuals to other dominant narratives designed to coerce and oppress. My advisor, who created and teaches this storytelling course and credits storyteller Idries Shah for the term, calls these types of stories teaching-stories[1]: stories we use to teach and learn. In order to move story into a teaching-narrative, the story must have the capacity to be transformative for the teller and the audience. The experience of telling and listening to teaching-stories must provide a space allowing both audiences and storytellers to see the possibilities for projecting their own narratives for peace and justice. This requires the individual to transform herself into an agent, or individual, with the purpose of disseminating positive change within her community.
Transmuting the Philosopher’s Stone
            Carl Jung (1963/1970) likens this transformation to the individuation of a coherent “whole” self, a capable well functioning individual capable of projecting positive change into her community. Jung uses alchemy as the guiding principle of the psychological development of individuation. Alchemists describe the process to heal disease or extend life as the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone:
The Philosopher’s Stone is a concept that describes the most sophisticated psychology a person could ever hope to achieve. Accordingly, changing lead into gold psychologically means transforming our base, unconscious nature (symbolized by lead and called the prima material) into the philosopher’s stone. (Cavelli, 2002, p. 21)

            Cavelli (2002) continues to point out that our symbolic and alchemical relationship to fire is “our awareness and our capacity to change all that we see and touch” (p. 9), which alludes to how our narratives can change our lifeworld. However, these narratives have the potential for benevolence or malevolence. As educators, we should want all our students to aspire to tell ameliorating narratives that heal our lifeworlds. However, not all individuals will aspire to tell healing narratives; some may aspire to manipulate and trick others like many email scams using stories of foreign “princes” seeking help to transfer their “wealth.” In what ways are students able to perceive ameliorating or coercive narratives? Does their experience in critically looking at the different levels of narrative (Boyd, 2010), archetypal, social/cultural, individual, and particular, allow students to be able to reflect upon and deconstruct the important narratives in their lives in order to determine or evaluate narratives as the transmuted “golden” narratives used to teach others? A person’s individuated narrative, a narrative that has undergone the alchemical transmutation turning into a “golden” narrative, has the potential to project a teaching-story capable of healing and extending not only the lives of others, but the quality of lives as well. This is a critical function in today’s digitized world, where narratives can be spread “virally” almost instantaneously through the networked publics [2]interconnected globally via the Internet.
During our class discussion on authentic care, the discussion shifts toward one of the big ideas of the good stories class, reciprocal altruism. After our remembering of the youngest prince’s journey in the Grimm brothers’ Water of Life, the students begin to reflect on the story.

 “I think the youngest prince learned a lot about reciprocal altruism after his brothers betrayed him by stealing the Water of Life and accusing the youngest brother of trying to kill the king,” one student remarks.

“You just can’t simply trust everyone, you have to be careful because some people might take advantage of your kindness,” she continues.

            Boyd (2010) combines evolutionary theory and game theory to define reciprocal altruism as a maxim: “I help you in the expectation that you may help me later” (p. 57). This maxim runs contrary to many survivalists conceptions of evolution as well as early models of game theory, which focus on constant-sum games (sometimes referred to zero-sum games) where in order for one to score or win a point another has to lose an equivalent amount. Boyd’s argument for reciprocal altruism plays the central role in the good stories class because it is through the spirit of cooperation and collaboration with others while discriminating against cheaters or people who “game” the system where peace and just acts can be seen. The lens of reciprocal altruism begins to define the big ideas of peace and justice within the good stories class.
            For Boyd, the evolution of story, especially fictional story, allows greater possibilities to teach cooperation and collaboration by emplotting stories about sympathy, trust, gratitude, shame, indignation toward cheaters, and guilt to keep me from “seeking the short-term advantages of cheating” (p. 58). All these themes constructed around teaching reciprocal altruism are built in and evolving through our capacities to tell stories. This is how we as participants in the good stories class begin our journey to amalgamate a story about our own role as a practitioner of reciprocal altruism. This is the turning toward an understanding of peace and justice and our roles in disseminating these ideas through digital narratives.
            Most producers of digital videos use digital media to recapture and tell meaningful experiences in their lives (Ito et al., 2010). The underlying social purpose of most digital media, then, is to give memory to one’s lived experiences and retell them in forms that are accessible and meaningful for digital audiences: digital stories, or lived digital-stories. Digital stories are multimodal/multimedial representations of lived experiences using image(s), sound(s), and text(s) (speech and writing) presented, or mediated through /in digital places. The interplay between images, sounds, texts, and authors-tellers-audiences through the environmental architecture of digitally mediated places opens a clearing for an existential examination (lived-time, lived-body, lived-space, and lived-relationship) of our experiences, participating as digital storytellers-memoirists-audiences within these digital places. We experience these places, despite the illusion of digital disembodiment, as an embodied threefold present with similar cohesion to our experience of temporal events inherent in “traditional” narratives (Carr, 1986; Ricoeur, 1984).
            Gadamer (1975/1989) asserts in his analysis of history and historicity that an unconscious teleology constructs our coherent understanding of historical significance when we read or write history. Carr furthers Gadamer’s assertion by explaining that the telos projects the coherence of narrativity as to how we, as human beings, experience the world. We have an innate desire to construct coherent narratives that give purpose to the history embedded in our lives. Could this narrative telos design coherence in the narratives of our lived experiences, which we can transmute into digital projects? What is the meaning of coherence that is arrived at through image, sound, and language? What are these experiences like in the lived stories of digitally mediated places where narratives are always incomplete (Monaco, 2009), always becoming? What are these experiences of digital stories and the places of lived digital-(re)telling existentially? What does the transformation of digital narratives into purposeful teaching-stories for peace and justice entail for students? These experiential questions require ontological understandings of this phenomenon; therefore, in order to come to a deeper human understanding of the lived experience of lived-digital storytelling, I employ van Manen’s (1997) methodology of hermeneutic phenomenology according to these guidelines for human science inquiry:
(1) turning to a phenomenon which seriously interests us and commits us to the world;
(2) investigating experience as we live it rather than as we conceptualize it;
(3) reflecting on essential themes which characterize the phenomenon;
(4) describing the phenomenon through the art of writing and rewriting;
(5) maintaining a strong and oriented pedagogical relation to the phenomenon;
(6) balancing the research context by considering parts and whole. (pp. 30-31)

My purpose for this chapter, then, is to reflect on my turning, or (re)turning to the phenomenon of telling lived-stories through digital media, or digital storytelling for the purposes of creating narratives designed for establishing a more peaceful and just world. The ultimate purpose, then, is to develop an understanding of the following question: What is the lived experience of telling digital stories for the purposes of peace and justice?

[1] According to Shah (1978), “No account of teaching-stories can be really useful unless there has been a recital of some these tales without any explanation at all. This is because some of the effect can be prevented by an interpretation: and the difference between an exposition and a teaching-event is precisely that in the latter nobody knows what his or her reaction is supposed to be…so that there can be a private reaction and a personal absorption of the materials” (p. 120).
[2] boyd (2007) defines networked publics as online places that have different interactions than face-to-face encounters. There are four characteristics of networked publics:  persistence, searchability, exact copyability, and invisible audiences. These characteristics will play a significant role in describing digital architecture and the place of digital story.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Phenomenology of Beer Pt. II: The Lived Experience of Designing Your Own Beer Fest

A note before reading: 
Dear lone reader,
I have tried to enhance your reading experience with hyperlinks. In order to have the ultimate pleasure in your reading experience, I recommend clicking the hyperlinks as you read instead of waiting until the end.

SQRLZ-The Digital Ninja and Bigfoot hunter

What Happens When You Ruin Your Friend's Plans to go Beer Festing?--Design your Own! The Dalton Backyard Beer Fest 2012

This past summer my wife and I decided to return to the homeland of Salt Lake City, Utah to visit my family and friends. Two months prior, I began making arrangements with my friend B...err...Trent (Pseudonyms used to protect the innocent and/or guilty) to go to the happiest place on Earth every first Saturday in June, the Mountain Brewers Annual Beer Fest. Well needless to say the universe works in mysterious ways...

Two weeks before out trip my wife and I found out we were pregnant (hail baby!) so my wife was not so keen on driving up to Idaho Falls and spending the day in the hot Idaho sun watching me sample the finest craft brews in the Western Hemisphere. I had to break the terrible news to B...I mean...Trent to tell him that I couldn't go, and I would visit and party after he got back. However, like Ali to Foreman, in the Rumble in the Jungle, he knocked that idea out...His retort to my bad news: We would have our very own private beer festival known to only a few distinguished ladies and gentlemen..

For the big day, we scoured the Utah State Liquor Store for some high-quality out-of-state brews distributed in the state and the in-state high-octane (for more on this wackiness see this), extreme craft brews and/or barley wines (Note: Unfortunately, Stone Brewing Company and New Belgium could not attend due to Utah's obscene distribution law that won't allow distributors and liquor stores to refrigerate their high-caliber products. Anyway, I digress, then it was off to Salt Lake City's up-and-coming star in the making Epic Brewing Company for some extreme brews that are sublimely crafted. Afterwards, we went to Uintah Brewing Company's brewery/store. salt lake city has an excellent cooperative enterprise between Uintah, Squatters, and Wasatch (This is a model for my thoughts on cooperative private enterprise in America, which is the wave of the future for post-capitalism--but this is another policy paper), which are the classic mainstays of craft brewing in the west and garner attention worldwide. Every time I where my Wasatch Brewing Companies Polygamy Porter T-shirt, I get nods from brewmasters all across the country who are in the know about this a great porter.

Once the trunk of my rental car was stocked full of beer and a special elixir from 5 Wives Vodka, we proceeded to indulge in the tastiness of Utah craft brewing--a tastiness that hearkens to my undergraduate days at my beloved University of Utah and the wonderful beer specials at The Pie Pizzeria

I began our tasting with Belgium Style Ales...I started out with an extreme brew...then a Sam Adam's Blackberry Wit Beer (note-I agree with their rating and think I said so that night. While average or slightly above average, it does have an outstanding nose.)... the night would begin to, children splashing in the swimming pool, Iron Maiden playing on B...Trent's old school early 90's CD player...needless to say the evening went into night, night went into early tubs...shots of  5 wives...good times with great friends...Talks about fatherfood and post-Maryand futures...Time stand still in moments and fast forwards in others...I would say now and then, I wouldn't have wanted to be any other place.

In the morning and my summer and current reflections on the tasting, the overall winner in my opinion is the beer I still have dreams about...was Epic's Brainless on Peaches...

Cheers to Brent, Barb, and Brenna for being true friends--chingu-dul (in Korean)! 

I dedicate this post to Brent for sacrificing the beer fest for this day. Happy 41st!

Post script- This blog post was written using Stone Brewing Companies 16th Anniversary IPA with a small side of  High West's 7000' Vodka... Both I can get at The Wine Source in Baltimore... (Side notes: A nicely hooped IPA with a good lemon for the Vodka--smooth with notes of Quaker Oatmeal--naw I won't link unless they pay

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Punk Rock "terrorists":The Revolution may not be Televised, but It may Disappear in the Dead of the Night

SHHHcvcvcswwwsshh......before reading go here:

Third anarchist jailed for refusing to testify before secret grand jury

and here...

I interrupt you regularly scheduled news feed of where in the world is Carmen SanDiego and if he likes cheeseburgers...The previous news of the brave Leah Plante is why I fear the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act)  that our president supported (to my horror and continued disappointment) needs to be reevaluated and repealed. I admire her courage. I guess punk rock teenage angst is now considered "terrorism." if NDAA continues we will see more of this. If this happens to one young lady trying to find herself in the chaos of the post-modern world, think what what will happen to protesters who will protest the possible war against Iran--at least it is possible if the Neo-Cons (the same guys who brought you Iraq pt. I, pt. II, and Iran-Contra) running Mr. Romney's foreign policy get their way...American protesters can be deemed "terrorists" and disappear in the dead of the night..Maybe you can imagine 99% occupiers protesting the abhorrence of vulture capital outsourcing...Now they can now be easily deemed "terrorists" by the plutocrats seeking to take over (or already have taken over) government...*poof* no more occupiers, but new faces emerge in the mysterious 21st-Century Gulags...Now back to tea and crumpets...but remember "The Revolution will not be televised..."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Phenomenology of Beer Pt. I: The Top Ten Beer States

Dear lone reader,
As a lover and connoisseur of the lovely fermented beverage of barley, hops, and malt, I will begin writing works about the ontology and philosophy of beer entitled The Phenomenology of Beer. For my intial post in this series, I offer a critical evaluation of the Beer Institute's 2011 report on rankings of U.S. states', including D.C., beer consumption per capita. In other words the top 10 beer drinking states. I will try and elucidate possible reasons behind the high rankings. For some states that I haven't visited, i will reason on popular culture myths/stereotypes/narrative to guide my interpretation. Enjoy! Drum roll please... -SQRLZ-The Digital Ninja

Top 10 Beer States with snarky and/or critical commentary:

10. Delaware (Dogfish Head Brewery is located here. The entire state must be drinking their 90-minute IPA.
9. Nebraska (I have driven through Nebraska a few times. Believe me, there isn't much to do there, but drink beer. I fear the only "beer" experience they have there is the Anheuser Busch filter of bottom-feeding corporate swill they sucker you into thinking is beer.
8. Texas (I have a feeling Austin may help this figure out since it seems to me the only hip place in the wastelands of Texas.)
7. Vermont (I knew there was a reason why I love this state besides having the true Jedi master Bernie Sanders as senator, having beautiful scenery, and awesome people.)
6. Wisconsin (Of course! I am only disappointed that it isn't #1. Go packers!)
5. Nevada (It is the oasis in the desert from spying eyes of nosy Utahns interested in calling out their neighbors for drinking. Some of the "faithful" will actually set up shop across from state liquor and write down names of their fellow members spotted going in to the state liquor stores--the only places other than the fine brewing coops in SLC where you can buy quality craft brews. They do this so they can move up in the social hierarchy known in the state as church politics. Okay no more rants about my 51st-ranked home state...back to Nevada; there is the obvious debauchery and chaos permitted in this state, which does make for more people either enjoying or self-medicating through beer consumption.)
4. South Dakota (I am guessing it is a lot like Nebraska but exponentially worse.)
3. Montana (Beautiful state with some high-quality craft brewers...Bitter Root Brewing comes to mind...There is nothing more sublime than enjoying Bitter Root's scrumptious Nut Brown Ale in Big Sky country.)
2. North Dakota (I saw Fargo...That is enough reason to batten down the hatches and enjoy winter seasonal ales, porters, or stouts.)
1. New Hampshire (Beautiful state with an insane idea of putting their liquor/beer barns next to rest areas on the highways. I guess the state motto should be "Live Free or Die with a Beer in Your Hand!"

Monday, October 15, 2012

Digital Alchemy Part I


Embarking on the Quest for the Elixir of Life
            An ethereal spark was lit within the story circle as fifteen undergraduate faces of multiple backgrounds and experiences began their quests to find their own water of life or, in alchemical terms, the elixir of life known as the philosopher’s stone:
While taking care of my sick mother, I think I discovered what it means to care for someone,” Isabelle said looking anxiously around the circle of faces nodding in response to her story about how she had to take care of her mother, who had been in the hospital for an extended amount of time.

“I know it’s not the same thing, but I think I have similar feelings about my puppy when I take care of her,” Nelly replied breaking the sustained silence of the story circle. “I mean when I take care of him, I don’t think about myself…it’s [the caring] authentic.”
“So what does authentic care look like and how can we apply it to our digital media projects?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, but it reminds me of the youngest brother in the Water of Life story. He succeeded in finding the water of life because he authentically cared for his sick father (the king),” another student reported.
“Well, let’s start there,” I replied:

When the second prince had thus been gone a long time, the youngest son said he would go and search for the Water of Life, and trusted he should soon be able to make his father well again. So he set out, and the dwarf met him too at the same spot in the valley, among the mountains, and said, ’Prince, whither so fast?’ And the prince said, ’I am going in search of the Water of Life, because my father is ill, and like to die: can you help me? Pray be kind, and aid me if you can!’ ’Do you know where it is to be found?’ asked the dwarf. ’No,’ said the prince, ’I do not. Pray tell me if you know.’ ’Then as you have spoken to me kindly, and are wise enough to seek for advice, I will tell you how and where to go. The water you seek springs from a well in an enchanted castle; and, that you may be able to reach it in safety, I will give you an iron wand and two little loaves of bread;

strike the iron door of the castle three times with the wand, and it will open: two hungry lions will be lying down inside gaping for their prey, but if you throw them the bread they will let you pass; then hasten on to the well, and take some of the Water of Life before the clock strikes twelve; for if you tarry longer the door will shut upon you forever.’ (Grimm Brothers, n.d.)

            These large life-quests entail several developments in our understanding of our experiences with oral narrative, our experiences mediating these experiences into re-imagined tales, and an experience in reflecting on their place in narrative and the world. Thus, in order to know where to go and how to find it, we need to be wise enough to ask for advice and speak kindly in doing so. This is how we begin to transmute the narratives of our lives into “golden” narratives in order to “make” our “fathers well again.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Phenomenology of Red Shift: Prologue

Prologue: Convergence

A red-tailed hawk circumscribes ellipses above Craters of the Moon. A field mouse disappears into shadows.  An orchestra of desolation, quiet and surreal, echoes the burring of the motor across the sagebrush. Rocks: Basaltic chunks jettison out in jagged edges along the highway. Stories of igneous tell histories of great reptiles long ago buried during the Jurassic period’s breakup of Pangaea. Maybe, perhaps, a Shoshone warrior hunted antelope next to a forgotten volcano. Sweeps of time swell across the unchanging wind circumscribing footsteps traced in the dust of Mormon pioneers creating gridded roads, columns run North-South with rows sprinting East-West. Planted crops grow from Yellowstone’s great explosion. Politicians argue a case for Washington’s statehood against the Dakota Territory’s filibuster. In the margins, a territory is drawn within the shadows of Chief Joseph’s exodus across the daunting Sawtooths; Teutonic and Nordic earnestness swept west across the Oregon Trail, cultivating Southern sagebrush along the scar of the Snake into acres of alfalfa, potatoes, and grain. Wild ranges tamed by barbed wire and irrigation canals. “Free” land earned through the plows digging up Earth in the search for valuable water sources. Artesian wells hide in box canyons where coyotes scavenged the arid dust. While the Southern valleys are beaten to submit, Northern anarchists bomb silver mines in protest of “oriental” property rights.
            The motor’s whirr made jackrabbits freeze, absent minded of any danger. The Hummer, Tom Worthright’s Hummer, America, sketched its path East across old Highway 20. Tom Worthright, energy investor and part-time philanthropist for the National Rifle Association, thought about energy. Grand epiphanies of energy: energy and how much money can be made on Middle East oil, inter-mountain west’s hydro-power, luscious coal from the bowels of West Virginia, wind power from California’s Mojave. Oil futures dotted his inner thoughts…
            The road, empty, laid itself out for Tom. Snow banks in the nascent stages of melting in the ides of March guided him towards his retreat home. A home spread out on 25 acres of prime Idaho real estate, gated with black iron and electric fences. Llama and emus, apparently the new-wave of livestock investing, grazed the south side. Tom’s one million dollar retreat, vacant for most of the year, built from oak lacquered to a lemon color. Inside the six-bedroom, three and half baths house, mounted heads of moose, elk, antelope, and white-tails stood look-out over Native American dream catchers and turquoise dance dresses beaded in multitude of colors. Landscape paintings of mountains and river cascades hung on the along the burnt oak vaulted ceilings. One painting, decorated on a forgotten slab of an old horse barn, of a pheasant stealing away across an autumn field of orange and brown greeted visitors going up the wooden staircase. The history of the American West sat quiet in Tom’s estate; it was gathered from auction, some public, but mostly private, where businessmen buy history and abscond with their treasure to secured fortresses. A few privileged by class, and the contracted part-time cleaners who have to hide their stares, have the opportunity to witness this collection. All of this waited for Tom’s triumphant return; the return rolled up on Highway 20 in a black Hummer2 with tinted windows…
            Cum on feel the noise! Girls rock the boys! We’ll get wild, wild, wild!” The Alpine system rocked Quiet Riot through the wind tunnel of Benji Olsen’s green‘84 Silverado with a red fuel pump system, grime—a solution of dirt and gasoline—slowly inching its way up. Sunflower seeds seemed to be thrown in chaos across the floorboards. On the rear window, a Winchester 30-30 cradled the gun rack, waiting for a chance to snipe rock chucks sunning themselves on the rock shelves of the prairie. The smoke from Benji’s Marlboro whistled through the cracked driver’s window.
            Benji’s hangover knocked in his temples. Tina’s going to be pissed, he thought. The morning drive from Gooding back to Fairfield was a lesson in endurance. He turned right off of 46 and onto Highway 20. Wild, wild, WILD! Coors Light’s silvery after-taste etched its rice fermented flavor on his tongue. I should have called, but Bobby Rydalch kept buying those Cuervo shots. Goddamn Bobby and Jose Cuervo and the silver bullet. I’ve gotta drop by Ray Johnson’s place and fill up the stacker before… Tina is going to kill me. My shit is probably already on the porch. Rock salted snow melt pelted his Silverado’s windshield. So you think my singin’s out style, well, it makes me money!
            Tina Jones was the toughest girl he ever met and perhaps the sexiest; one exception was Rosa from Richfield. They grew up together, Tina and Benji. Benji one year older, but he could always her remember with him. They blew up frogs with firecrackers in the ditch along the compacted dirt road near their homes. The blasts echoed through the corrugated pipe running underneath the lane. On summer days ‘til last summer when the two moved in together, they would inner tube down the Little Camus River. When Benji was thirteen, he started to notice Tina’s long brown hair, wet, stuck on her shoulders. He knew at that moment that he was in love. The two were inseparable from the time he first kissed her after the 8th grade formal-the wild 80’s. The next year, even though he was in high school, the two would still have lunch together on the grass field that separated the kindergarten through eighth grade building and the high school. During summer vacations, she would bring his lunch when he swathed the alfalfa fields across Camus valley. His allergies would make him tear up and sneeze, but she would give long strong kisses after lunch. Benji would always try and cop a feel and Tina would always hit him hard on his shoulder. On good days, she would flash him before she got into her brown Toyota Corolla.  Her hair always did stick to her shoulders…
            Mayor Wilfred P. Farnsworth scrambled onto his gray International Harvester grumbling about the impending snow storm, eighteen inches last time. Grab a load before it starts shitting. He gazed at the dark gray mass swallowing the western edge of the valley. It’s going to be colder than a witch’s tit…get them cows fed and get back before Mabel gets out of bed. The tractor growled at the crunchy soil, transitioning into mid-morning mud; black smoke rose from the stack blowing prayers of carbon. The thirty minute ride down Highway 20 to the west pasture waited the mayor. Mushers play tomorrow. The high school basketball playoffs tickled Wilfred’s white whiskers. A championship during an election year meant a certain re-election. Ah, hell, I’ve been mayor for forty years. The election is as certain as this friggin’ snowstorm and hungry cows and Mabel’s sourdough pancakes on Sundays. The International jutted forward down the lane, over the cattle guard, and made a right onto Highway 92 heading west toward town. Grain silo’s stood in contrast against the sky, skyscrapers of the pastoral…
            Highway 20, a particle accelerator, split the Camus prairie in half leading from the Sun Valley and Ketchum’s Highway 75 in the East toward the rolling hills near Anderson Ranch Reservoir in the West, Quaking Aspens from the reservoir would transition to the sagebrush plateau above the Magic Valley to the South. Soldier Mountain shielded the Camus valley from the rugged back country in the North.  A heavy metal black Hummer, a hydrogen nucleus pulled by magnets heading east. The hot tub will be great after the champagne party. What is that ahead of me? Dot-dot-dot solid yellow, the patterns painted on the road give direction and warning. Fuckin’ headache…I hate refueling equipment with the smell of gasoline. Tractor ahead…Wild! Wild! Wild! Fence posts, limbs of deforested trees ties with loose barb wire, guide the green Silverado, noble, inert, immoveable. Maybe I’ll drive down and watch Hagerman play to scout out the competition. Sometimes, the universe wields its authority in perplexing ways; Today, the universe wielded a mysterious figure…What the hell? (echoed in harmonious consonance) A dark figure, half-hidden in the frozen frog, climbed out of primordial whiteness…Is that a guy in a gorilla suit? (The chorus asks). The figure, half circumambulating—half sprinting, sprang from the upside of the ditch to the right of the Southern Idaho Farmers’ Cooperative. The figure appeared to dance its way through the willows and onto Highway 92. If we beat the Pirates…Holy Jesus! What is that? No! George?  The International swerved to the left crossing the yellow threshold. I want to fill that hot tub with Champagne and naked….A speck of black with orange sparks of hell fire fluttered in front of the International, a weak nuclear force trying to draw the electrons to closer energy levels. A wall of green came from behind the faded gray mass of tightly bound silver metallic bonds. Compounds collided, elements created in the nuclear heart of an ancient supernova explosion finally met in the super collider highway. Flash. Quanta, electrons, protons, neutrons, fermions, and positrons, confirm Planck’s constant, energy multiplied by momentum multiplied by distance, creation through destruction, a mono-myth since the Big Bang; a cosmic dance of invisible particles communicated, defying Einstein, in entropy, scattering in directions of space-time. Thoughts become immersed in the millisecond of Shiva’s return showing three tunnels of white light, converging into oblivion. Redemption, forgiveness, and childhood become reborn in unrecognizable formlessness. Mysterious gravitons traveling between invisible membranes gathered the heavier elements, calcium, aluminum, copper, gold fillings, and carbon into scattered projectiles crashing into slushy snow, dihydrogen monoxide sublimated into escaping gases. Tinted glass settled onto an unhinged bumper. Noxious smoke from blackened rubber choked the return to zero.
            Meanwhile, on silent two lane highway, the mysterious figure escaped unscathed into the underbrush of irrigation canals toward the browns of the southern plateau. The witnesses to this mystery disappeared in the ether. All that was left was a crumpled up note sticking in an enormous bare footprint on the side of the highway that read, “0=1-1.”