The Second Conquest of the Incas


Late that night a primitive urge to commune with nature made us grab our bottles and walk outside. We sat down on the front step. Charly leaned against the post and clutched the bottle against his chest. “This is good, compadre,” he said. “This is what I have always needed.”

“So you are happy, Tocayo?”

Charly sighed peacefully. “Everybody should feel like this.”

“Tocayo, I think everybody does.”

“They do?”

I nodded.

Charly looked at me, then took another swallow from his bottle and looked around. When he looked back, I wasn’t beside him anymore. In a sweet fog he wondered why. He raised the bottle to his lips, careful not to drop it, and took a great big swallow. I had gone somewhere. That was alright. Everything was alright. A little later Charly noticed that the noise level inside the bar had increased. I better check it out, he thought, and stood up.

He stepped inside. At the bar, I had a bottle in each hand and was pouring both of them down my throat together. The indians were yelling encouragement as best they could under their condition. Half the alcohol ran down my neck and into my clothes, but I kept guzzling.

From the door Charly chuckled. That was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. He turned around and walked unsteadily out to his step, then sat down carefully, leaned against the post, and cradled the bottle in his lap. The night was beautiful. So many stars. He sighed and took another swig. Eventually the bar quieted down and little by little the patrons began to emerge, carefully maneuvering down Charly’s step, sometimes using his shoulder as a guardrail. Glad to be of service, Charly thought to himself, and watched the indians walk slowly away, stumbling and weaving their way home, keeping track of the road by tripping against the rocks along the edge.

A little later the double doors opened with a loud smack and I came tumbling out. Just as I reached the step, I wrapped both my arms around the poles to arrest my forward motion and with a tremendous groan hurled a stomachful of vomit over Charly’s head in a fine arc onto the hardpacked mud of the street.

Excerpt from Chapter 42, Part Two of Tocayos.

Image courtesy of

The Irresistible Power of Hatred


The recent increase in both bigotry and unfounded accusations of bigotry compel me to point out that this essay is written using a rhetorical style that ascribes to me, personally, qualities that I see within society.  Therefore, when I say “I love to hate,” what I mean is that society loves to hate.  I wrote the essay in this manner to make its points more immediate, less theoretical, and therefore more poignant.  You would be incorrect to assume that I am referring to bigotry or hatred within me.

Having to clarify this point is as dispiriting as having to explain the punchline to a joke, but given the tenor of today’s political dialogue, I don’t have much of a choice.  


I love to hate.  God, what a rush.  What an overpowering, magnificent emotion!  No confusion about what is right or what is wrong.  No vacillation about whether I should or shouldn’t.  No need to muster my own motivation.  Hatred drives me forward like a locomotive.

If I’d lived in England during Richard the Lionheart’s reign, I would have joined the Crusaders to free Jerusalem from Saladin so I could hate Muslims.  Or sailed to France so I could hate the French.  If I’d lived in Virginia during the US Civil War, I would have hated the Yankees so ferociously I would have been willing to die for my hatred.  If I’d lived in Maine, I would have volunteered so I could give vent to my hatred of confederates.  And then it would have been the native Amercicans.  Or the Irish.  The Chinese.  The Japanese.  The Jews.  The Germans.  Uppity negroes.  Hippies.  War protesters.  There is always someone to hate, and plenty of reasons to hate them.

Unfortunately, I’ve been civilized.  And civilization has placed conditions on my hatred. I can’t just hate anyone, no.  They have to do something wrong, first. Doing something to me isn’t quite enough.  It might make me angry for a while, but civilization has trained not to value myself too highly, so I get more satisfaction from sulking and feeling sorry for myself than from hating someone who has wronged me.  If they do something to someone I love, that’s more motivating.  I can get pretty high off that.

But neither of those match the potential for hatred toward someone whom the people I trust have deemed worthy of my hatred.  Yes, please find me someone whom the press, political leaders, or anyone I respect believes has  wronged something I care about.  My school, my neighborhood, my town, my state, my country.  My beliefs.  My religion.  My institutions.  My values.  My sense of fairness.  If you can find such a person, they are, by definition, evil.  Wow.  Hating someone who is evil is like an entire train of locomotives on a track as long as Siberia.

Unfortunately, hatred makes me sick.  I can’t manage it very well.  A little bit feels good, but I can’t stop at a little bit any more than an alcoholic can stop at a little bit of booze.  I need more.  So I get more.  And soon, I’m sick.  I feel awful.  So I try to dial it back.  But I can’t.

Fortunately, I have learned a trick.  When my over-consumption of hatred makes me sick, all I have to do is share it with someone else.  I let them drink from the same cup as me, and if they start feeling my hatred, I suddenly feel so much better!  Brotherhood makes hatred much more bearable.  Plus, we can then stoke each other’s hatred.

Inevitably, we make each other sick.  But now we’ve learned the trick: get more people to share our hatred.  Get a dozen friends to feel what we feel.  A roomful.  Attend a rally full of people who hate what we hate.  That’s fantastic!  Fantastic!  And now that there are so many of us, we can’t possibly be wrong.  And, when our hatred has made us all sick enough, we know what the remedy is: we need to do something about our hatred.  We need to destroy what we hate.

How we destroy what we hate doesn’t matter.  Anything we do to destroy evil is, by definition, good.  Our destruction of evil not only makes us good, it makes us loyal to our values, courageous patriots fighting the good fight, willing to sacrifice our very lives if need be.  In fact, if we don’t seek to destroy that evil, we are supporting it.  We cannot, as we have been taught, serve two masters.

Once we reach that point, we will follow anyone and do anything.  And because the rush of destroying evil is a thirst that can’t be quenched, we will seek more evil to destroy.  And then more after that.  No amount of greed, lust, or other human need comes close.  And certainly not love.  The power of hate is overwhelming and irresistible.

There is a way for us reduce our susceptibility to this human frailty.  The world’s great religions, even though they are conscripted into the service of hatred, include many suggestions to help us avoid succumbing to it.  Here’s one from the Christian Gospels:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Sadly, until you recognize how susceptible you are to the power of justifiable hatred, these suggestions make little sense and seem, in fact, ridiculous.  Since most of us can’t even imagine that we are susceptible to justifiable hatred, and are certainly loathe to admit it, we are vulnerable to its power.  We have a great big ring sticking out of our nose, just waiting for someone to tie rope through it.

Jonathan Liau explains this phenomenon in more academic terms in his essay, Words of War, which analyzes how the  rhetoric of Joseph Goebbels convinced good, loyal, patriotic Germans to hate “undesirables” with such fervor that they were willing to tolerate atrocities and even their methodical extermination.  The Holocaust Encyclopedia adds more insight in its piece: Defining the Enemy.

People accustomed to wielding power are very aware of that ring in our nose.  Fortunately, most of them recoil from that ring the way they recoil from using nuclear weapons.  But every so often, someone who craves power by any means comes along and, as Joseph Goebbels did, chooses to tie a rope through that ring, and yank.


Why I don’t care that Hillary lied


It’s not because I’m a Democrat.  Or even a liberal.  I’m neither.

Her accusers are assholes

The Republicans witch-hunting Hillary, different only in the shrillness of their tone from the Republicans salivating over each other to condemn and impeach Bill Clinton, are a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites.

These are the assholes who lie, cheat, and steal from America to line their pockets, and whose heroes don’t simply lie when cornered, but carry out well-orchestrated campaigns of deception as fundamental strategy.

These church-going hypocrites claim to be good Christians, but don’t practice its most basic tenets.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

This is not a case of the “pot calling the kettle black.”  This is a case of a glowing nuked barren wasteland that was once a thriving metropolis with its mushroom cloud still billowing overhead calling the kettle black.

Much ado about nothing

Who got hurt?  What secrets were revealed?  She didn’t follow security protocol.  She lied.

If Hillary breaks a nail, the Chicken-Little Republicans in Congress and their cronies in the “press” will scream that she is the leader of a cabal to perpetrate violence against women.  If Bill belches, they’ll scream he is funding a secret organization to destroy America’s food industry.

In the big scheme of things

She didn’t follow security protocol.  She lied.  Compare those grievous offenses, those crimes against humanity against all her accomplishments as Secretary of State.  Compare them against her rating as one of the most honest politicians we have.

Compare them to W. and Dick Cheney consciously crafting a long-running campaign of deception so they could invade Iraq.  And what was the result of that?  Thousands of American service men killed, double that maimed, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed.  Oh yeah, and ISIS.

Hillary lied.  About her email server.  Bill lied about a blow job.  As a result, you think America is doomed and the FBI can no longer be trusted.

Get over yourself.



Peace of Mind

Inspirational blog by one of my favorite people.

surfing for balance in Silicon Valley

Prologue (4.3)

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.”        Coach John Wooden

I love basketball.

I don’t have many regrets in life, but quitting the Corona del Mar High School basketball team my junior year is one that has stuck with me through the years. I showed up late for a Saturday practice (in my wet suit of course…), and coach Tandy Gillis made sure I would not want to do that again. And I didn’t. At the end of practice I sheepishly told him I was done. Quitting the team. Enough already. I was 17 years old and didn’t need some basketball coach telling me what to do.


Coach Gillis was a bit of an icon, which of course I appreciate much more now than I did then. Tandy…

View original post 2,053 more words


OldColoradoCityIt was 16° F (-9° Celsius) when I left Perry Park at 7:45 this morning on my way to the Pikes Peak BMW Club meeting at Mother Muff’s Kitchen in Old Colorado City.

The Gear

Base layer for my torso was a thermal turtleneck from waaaaaaay back in the day.  The thing is warm, itchy, and indestructible.  Next was a thin cashmere V-neck sweater.  Cashmere is warm, feels softer than a baby’s butt, and can be had cheap at Jos A. Bank.  The combo is surprisingly warm, but leave the pipe and David Niven accent at home.

Over the top of the sweater I zipped up another old favorite, a fleece jacket from The North Face.  Finally, my trusty Klim.

I covered by bum and netheregions in the quick-dry UnderArmor motorcycle shorts, which are, oddly enough, cozy warm.  Then a pair of Hot Chilis.  Then a pair of casual BMW riding pants with the rain liner in.  Thermal socks.  Aerostich Combat Touring boots.

Under my Arai helmet but over my Klim jacket I worse a fleece balaclava, and just about pulled my back out making sure there were no leaks around the collar.  I put on an ancient pair of Dainese winter gloves, and turned the heated grips on my R1200RS to High.

Once you get all that gear on, the only cold weather hassle left is dealing with the fogging lens on your helmet.  Easy enough to manage, though: keep helmet open until you pick up some speed, and open it each time you slow down.  The RS has the stock shield, which directs plenty of air at my helmet, so that approach worked well for me.  Dealing with fogging would be more of a hassle on a bike with a full fairing.

The Ice Cream Headache

It was a sunny morning, but the Front Range was completely frosted over.  I didn’t take a picture, but this one is pretty close to what it looked like the entire route from Larkspur to Old Colorado City.


It took about 5 minutes for the ice cream headache to show up.  It wasn’t the worst I’ve had, but I did have to concentrate to get past it.  My setup had no air leaks anywhere, and the heated grips kept one side of my hands warm.  The topside did get a bit chilly, but never numb.  The tips of my thumbs went numb, and my feet felt about as chilly as the top of my hands.

The only other rider I saw was a guy in jeans and a hoodie riding his 600 home along I-25.  I wonder what the story was behind that early morning ride.

Mother Muff’s Kitchen

I felt immediately comfortable with the crowd from Pike’s Peak BMW club.  Craig, Lee, and Bex were kind enough to invite me to sit with them.  It’s always nice when the locals are friendly to the new guy.  Made me glad I rode up there.

Mother Muffs is the red storefront at the upper right:


By the time I left, temps had warmed up to the low 40’s, so I stowed my gear, slipped on my flip-flips and Hawaiian shirt, and rode home singing Gypsies in the Palace.  The temps in Larkspur were only 36°F by the time I got home (around noon), but it still felt downright tropical compared to the first part of the ride.

Old Colorado City somehow manages to hang on to its low-rent charm at the foot of Pikes Peak.  I always enjoy riding down there.


Recovering My Passion for Work



Back in May of 2014, in what I had not yet realized was another futile attempt to triumph over workplace adversity, I wrote these paragraphs:

Today’s buzzword, and I hope it’s yesterday’s buzzword soon, is passion.  Management wants us to be passionate about our work.  Sure.  Passion is a powerful motivator.  While it lasts.

Sorry boss, I lost my passion for build 12.  I’ve got a thing for ham radios, now.

I’ll leave passion for the bedroom or perhaps the garage, and take old-fashioned reliability to the office.  Which means that plenty of the time work is going to feel like anything but passion.  That’s why they called it work in the first place, in case some of you young punks were wondering.

Ride to the Sun Reunion: Tropic, Utah

I was a boy whistling in the dark.  A year later I quit.  I feared that after 35 years I was done with high tech.

Not long after, I started doing some contract work for Ericsson.  At first it was just a few hours a week.  But I started to feel better.  I increased the hours to 20.  Then to 30.  In December I agreed to 40 hours per week and during January and February I worked quite a bit more than that.

How could I go from being so discouraged I could barely glance at my computer to being so motivated I didn’t want to stop working?  Eric Berridge has something to say about that:

In today’s customer-driven market, it’s easy to overlook the employee experience. But if companies allow customer focus to override their care for their employees, they will lose the very force that enables customer success.

We’re not alone in recognizing the importance of prioritizing the employee experience. This year, nearly one-third of companies cited employee-facing initiatives as one of their top objectives. They know that employee experience is just as important as customer experience in achieving business results.

Innovation is essential to improving employee experience, but innovation is not just about ideas. You have to combine it with data, design, and an employee culture willing to adopt it. Low adoption of new tools and processes causes repercussions that are felt across the entire organization. Talk to employees to find out what information they need and the best way to see it—they will be more productive and will spend more time giving customers what they want. Don’t just invest in new technology; take the time to understand your culture and give your employees a better experience.

Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, The State of Salesforce, via CIO Cloud Alert

This is not a blog about Salesforce.  I just happened to be reading the report, and found the introduction by Eric encouraging.  Perhaps companies will realize that caring for their employees is not only the decent thing to do, but a competitive advantage.  Perhaps technologies such as those recommended by Eric will put back some of the humanity that earlier technologies took out of business processes and, as a result, the corporate office.

Ericsson doesn’t need any such technology.  They never forgot how important employees are to the success of both their customers and the corporation.  Everyone I met at Ericsson in Kista, their Sweden HQ, was not only competent, but warm, helpful, and welcoming.  Even to a contractor from another country.

They weren’t just being polite.  Ericsson has a corporate culture that nurtures trust instead of fear.  Enthusiasm instead of apathy.  With trust, you get collaboration.  With enthusiasm, you get innovation.  You get people’s best work, and you don’t even have to ask for it.  Two people in particular made that possible for me: Geoff Hollingsworth (@geoffworth) for inspiring leadership and Deirdre Straughan (@DeirdreS) for gifted management.  They don’t have to use buzzwords, employ best practices, or create team bonding events.  They are the real deal.  I know it.  The people who work for them know it.  And the team they built from vendors, employees, and contractors was dedicated, agile, and eager to help each other out.

If you’re curious, here’s the website a few of us on the team launched, and the new blog:

We’ll be doing a lot more during the rest of the year, and I’m going to be … ah … jumping in with unbridled passion.



The Buses of Barranco


This bus is from El Salvador and a lot newer than
the buses in Barranco, but it’s the closest I could find
to how the Peruvian buses of that day were painted.

Many different buses traveled Barranco’s boulevard on the cliff, so we had to study each one with carefulness.  They were not the modern German-engineered buses that travelled the boulevards of our neighborhoods with their destinations written in large, clear letters over the windshields.  No, the buses that travelled Barranco were bent in many places.  They had been repaired so many times that more of their parts had once belonged to other buses than to them.  Their fenders were crooked. Some were held on by wire and whatever welds you could buy for a few beers. And yet, they worked.  What perhaps looked to Charly’s American eyes like something about to collapse into a pile of metal, looked to me like mechanical wonders, traveling monuments to the indomitable character of the Peruvian cholo and his struggling, proud, and resourceful barrios.

There were so many different buses.  Some that were red and had round shapes, with magnificent radiator grills built in the 1930’s, steered out of the boulevard’s flow of traffic and came to our stop with their destinations painted under the windshield and around the side windows.  You had to read fast!

The drivers, they were artists of the transport.  Each had his own scheme for colors.  Red, yellow, and green like the Amazon parrot.  Yellow, purple, and green for El Senor de los Milagros.  Always three colors.  Because two were not enough.

For some, even three colors were not enough, so they hung beads of even more colors along the top of their windshields.  And those drivers who had a brother or a tio who owned a muffler shop, they roared past, their engines free from those restraints of civilization, accelerating with a loud, staccato blast, and decelerating with a spine-tingling, gurgling sound of something being sucked away.

And if the beads were still not enough, you could always add purple pinstripes that curled and ended in little explosions of sparkle the color of gold. And hang religious medals off the driver’s visor, glue blue and cream plastic statues of Mary the Mother of God to the dash, and paint prayers to patron saints in scroll along the top and bottom edges of the windshield.

Excerpt from Cerro San Cristobal, Chapter 37 of Tocayos Part 2, which I will publish in the Summer of 2016.