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  Bret Blakeslee
Bret Blakeslee
The Bus Is Gone

Damn, Damn, Damn!!! I was driving down the street in Tempe and smoke started spewing out of the dash. I look back at the vents on the back side of the bus and fire is pouring out of them. No wonder the damn thing's running rough.

I stop, get out, pull a few things out and wait since there's nothing I can do not having a fire extinguisher with me yet. A couple of guys with an extinguisher stop and we empty it into the vent since the engine compartment is locked and I'm not going to get close enough to unlock it until the fire goes down a little.

It doesn't. It increases. The upshot is it burned to the ground. It melted parts of the body and chassis. I got a small box of tools out of it unharmed. That's all. My Persian concert rug, the air conditioning, seat heaters all around, disk brakes, 200 hp engine, all the future parts to install, everything I've done so far, it's completely gone.

I've been kinda down for a while. I got a good settlement from the insurance company but it doesn't help too much. I'm still kinda down. I worked on that bus for 4 years. Put a lot of heart and spirit into it. Made it a pleasure to ride in. It burned to the ground along side the road. All I could do was watch, tears streaming down my face. And I can't build it again. It would hurt too much, and I don't have the money.

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  Bret Blakeslee
Bus Update

Well, the bus isn't perfect yet. It runs out of gas even with gas in the tank. Bummer. Anyway, other than that drive train and braking system (replaced the drum brakes with perfect disk brakes - no longer have to push the brake pedal through the floorboard, brakes like a new car) are done. Have a few more interior bits to do then the thing will be perfect.

PS: I asked Kelly for an engine that would go up Sunset Point hill in fourth gear with the A/C on. I got it. Damn good thing I beefed up the transmission. It wouldn't have handled the engine otherwise. Kelly's engine would have spun the spider gears off the original transmission just sitting at a light. Have no idea how much torque the thing puts out but it's near 200 HP with 180 degree opposing pistons. Very torquey.

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  Bret Blakeslee
Have Bus - Will Travel

Well, there’s one good. . . okay, very good thing going on right now. My bus is 90% done! The new engine is in and I am currently driving it around for the 500 mile break-in. After that we put the good carbs on the thing. That’s a switch from two 1-barrel carbs to two 2-barrel carbs and this will allow each cylinder to be individually adjusted and tuned so that it isn’t only smooth (it’s rough as washboard right now) but none of the cylinders will heat up unreasonably which was a perennial problem with my old bus. All this while passing emissions. So cool.

Oh yeah. . . the air conditioning works great, too!

So. . .I have a bus that will go up sunset point hill in fourth gear with the air on. That sentence is so cool in so many ways.

Looking for trips for fun in the summer. Contact: Have Bus - Will Travel
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  Bret Blakeslee
Latest on my Cancer

The latest on my cancer is that my treatment has been denied twice after most of 4 years of approval. I don't know why. I don't know what I did. I don't know if I can live without the treatment.

This treatment is for Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN), just one of the neuropathies I have. I'm supposed to get treatment this week (the 3rd and 4th of June) but it doesn't look like it now. It appears the insurance company wants to scare me. Well they have. But I haven't given up and I haven't broken yet. Close, but no cigar.

Still, I am scared. I have no idea if I can live with this neuropathy. It's pretty nasty. It causes cramps, from simple foot cramps to whole body cramps. The worst I've experienced so far is a whole thorax cramp (from mouth to diaphragm, inclusive). Also, the heart is a muscle. Can it cramp? If so, I’m a goner sometime soon. If not, then what is the prognosis? I have no answers to these questions.

Katie and I have a lot of work to do Monday morning.

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  Bret Blakeslee
Momentary THought

We invented civilization to support a standing army. We caused over-population to make sure there was enough cannon-fodder.

  Bret Blakeslee
The Right Stuff

So I'm watching the movie The Right Stuff and I was thinking that was a tremendous time to grow up.



I knew Chuck Yeager's name before I was six. Of course, I was in Indianapolis, Indiana and General Yeager had some history in Indy.



But I knew that he had broken the sound barrier and I knew what that was.



I suppose the Mercury astronauts were pretty much, "Spam in a can." But they did change the experiment for the Gemini and Apollo 'pilots'. I bet The guys in Apollo 13 were damn glad they were 'pilots'.



And just the idea of a country doing something that affirming. Considering the alternative. But these were fantastic times. These were the times of the beginning of my life. From late 1953 to whenever



I was in the fifth grade when President Kennedy was shot. His brother was killed in 1968. Bobby's death affected me one whole shitload more than John's death. Bobby was running against Nixon. Old "Tricky Dick" himself. And that was the GOP that gave him that name, don't forget that.



Bobby was the freak candidate. It was wonderful. For one bright shining moment it looked like we would take everything. And Sirhan Sirhan cut him down. I lost heart in politics with that one death. In a place where the height of politics is assassination I just can't get into the politics.



The republicans have been riding those two murders for years. They've decided to appeal to the psycho murdering christian voter, when in truth damn few republicans would really like to sit down and exchange pleasantries with that person. I mean really. Psycho murderers are dangerous. And religion wasn't a problem then either. In fact, I think that was when the term "jesus freak" was invented and they were not admired.



But the Mercury program was completed before the first Kennedy was shot. I do remember that. It was a bright time.





Anyway, 1968 was also the year we first put a man on the moon. I remember watching that. I didn't know I could grin that much. And it was even more special cause at that time I didn't even get high. Kids are getting high as early as sixth grade now, maybe earlier. I know. It's crazy but that's what's happening now. [Still Watching Movie] I suppose it's true that things are hardener now. But things weren't simple and easy then either. Our politician were killed, there was a war that caused the country to take arms against itself, there was a president that rampaged through most of a decade, kids openly despised their parents, and I personally know a lot of kids got into drugs.



Of course, pods haven't absorbed me so I got into acid, mescaline, and hash. Jim Reade's friend Jeff New got a shipment so he said. But he had a gallon bag full of strawberry mescaline, a shitload of caps, and more black Pakistani hash than I have ever seen in one place including in any page of High Times. My crowd was Jim, Jeff, Rex Townsend, Anne Schaeffer, Jeff's girlfriend (I don't remember her name), Jim's little sister Bonnie Miller, and a rotating group of SCC students. Jeff supplied the drugs. Jim supplied the camera and a large chunk of the craziness. I supplied craziness, costuming, some of the girls, and some of the beer. Rex supplied the panel truck and some of the beer. I was doing mescaline before I could vote. I suppose I regret some of it but I sure had a lot of fun at the time. And I don’t regret that goal. If people had fun they wouldn’t get so uptight.



[Crazy freak alert] We were Arizona freaks though so we went everywhere heavily armed and many of us were crack shots. This avoided a great deal of the harassment many other freak groups got. Oddly enough, we were never bothered at all when we played in the backwoods. Mind, we didn't kill anything, it was more like throwing darts a real long way.



That was my long winded way of saying we used to eat acid and play with guns.



We also made [bad] movies but we won an ASU award for a spaghetti western take off, or maybe it was one of the Captain Crackers & Lil' Weenie. Those were classics too. If it was a full real of Super 8 film it was a long movie. The OK Corral ran to almost two reels, or maybe three, it's been a day or two and Jim did all the editing.



I guess I did give up on politics. I certainly gave up on government and it's functions. I didn't quit voting until just Clinton's second year. I realized it didn't matter to me. They were just going to offer the same two morons. In the lesser races sometimes you only got one choice. Not that there wasn't humor. John Ashcroft lost a senate race to a dead man.



I guess I would have been more interested if there was a "Non of the Above" button on the ballots. And I'll bet we would have had better candidates too with that button.



More later I guess. It’s late and I’m tired.



Love to all,



Bret

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  Bret Blakeslee
My Dire Disease

Hi Folks,

I've been doing other things than writing in this site. I'll explain why now. I thought that I'd be living much longer than expected. That sentence is weird but you get the picture I hope. Anyway, recently I’ve been given another thought. The thought that I would not be living much longer at all. The truth is I don’t know whether it’s one or the other.

In any case, I know it could happen any time but I know it will come suddenly whenever it comes. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so nervous about it because it’s true that everyone dies. (Although, if you say this to me I will pound a sharpened broomstick up your ass and then peel your neck from around it. Just for fun. And to teach you to have just a little human kindness.) Anyway, I’m nervous about it and I figured out why. I will have to die very quickly when I go because I am never more than two or three months from a massively crippling and painful death. And if I don’t want that to happen then I have to do it myself before that.

Nothing here is a guess. The above paragraph is certain. The disease I have has attacked my nerves and is currently attacking my motor nerves. The only reason I haven’t done anything about it yet is that the treatments are still working. But they won’t work forever. They won’t even work for a long time. The best anyone has got out of them is a moderate time. I’ve checked. I asked. I asked my Waldenstrom’s talk list and it never does this. Sooner or later the treatment fails. While this isn’t critical for most WM patients for me it is because when the treatments fail me there is nothing else to try.

There is nothing else that will stop the excruciating crippling from happening quickly and completely. My cancer. I got left holding the sack. While I’ve got sack enough to play the thing out, I won’t allow it to kill me that way. I’m simply not that cruel. Certainly not to myself. This is why the thing keeps me on edge. Because I know that sooner or later, and probably sooner, the thing will cause me to do something about it. I don’t want to. Believe that. I don’t want to die and I don’t want to have to do the thing myself... but I do. I have to do the thing or die hideously after living with hideous crippling the last few months.

And last night I had bad cramps (cramps being the symptom that the treatments fail). They were caused by some exercise after a hiatus and jumping into a hot tub, probably, but it doesn’t matter how you find out. All that matters is that the cramps appeared. And if it isn’t this time it’ll be the next. So I’m waiting, and worrying, and hoping to make the best of the time I have left. I’ve decided not to change my daily routine. I’m going to continue to draw and work on the bus and see my friends and do all the things that would give my life meaning if I were going to live without fear but I don’t live without fear. I’m afraid most of the time because I can see what happens at the end. A good imagination is not a gift when you have a dire disease.

Love,

Bret

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  Bret Blakeslee
Been Drawing Lately

Sorry about the delay in writing.  But I've switched from writing to drawing.  See I already know how to write.  Doing something you don't know how to do is good for the brain.  So I'm drawing.  Never did that before.  Oh sure, a couple of little doodles and some mechanical drawing but not DRAWING.  So I'm learning.  It's fun but a little frustrating.  Stuff was easier oo learn when I was younger.  And the younger I was the easier it was.  Too bad kids don't know that.  I guess that's what parents are for.  To teach kids how to learn.

I know how to learn.  It's just not as easy as it used to be.  Bummer.  But not the end of the world.  I'll get it.  I'm kind of stuck right now.  See I don't know how to draw a line.  I didn't know I didn't know how to draw a line.  I thought it was just slap some graphite on paper and there you are.  Nope.  Maybe that's good enough for mechanical drawing.  Not DRAWING drawing.  Still I'm stubborn.  I'll get it.  Then maybe I'll show you stuff I draw.  They say a picture's worth a thousand words.  I haven't even got to stick figures yet.  I'm illiterate.  Damned if I knew I couldn't talk.

But I will.

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  Bret Blakeslee
A Movie I Saw

I watched a movie tonight. Well, not really a movie. It was color film from the second world war. 55 million dead. 30 million refugees. It sounds so far away. But my father fought in it. I saw my mother there too. At the end. Not really her. But it might as well have been. This girl actually looked like her. Mom hated the Germans and the Japanese until the day she died . And dad was wounded. Comparatively, it was pretty light. He only spent 11 months in the hospital. He got out just in time to help liberate a concentration camp with the 82nd Airborne.

See he was an airborne ranger in the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. They counted the airborne troops by regiments instead of by divisions. They figured a regiment of airborne was about equal to a division of regular troops. They were right. Sometimes it was a very thin company against a division. But they moved backwards once in that war. That was under orders and only to get in better position to kill more Germans. Often they didn’t take prisoners. Sometimes the opposing troops knew that. All their fights were bloody.

And, this movie had color pictures from every side. From start to finish. Pictures of everything. Pictures from the war’s start in Europe. Spain. Then Poland. France and western Europe. Russia and eastern Europe. They didn’t have pictures of the start in Asia. There’d been fighting in Asia since 1931. And again that sounds so far ago. But it was still my father. And they showed the war in color like they showed the Vietnam war. See Vietnam wasn’t the first war to be shot in color. Just the first one we saw. And they had film from every side, from Europe’s start to Japan’s finish, from Spain on. On to the concentration camps. They showed those.

Then on to Okinawa. There the Japanese general in charge understood that, contrary to what he had been absolutely promised, he had been cut off from any help of any kind. Not even ammunition. So he only defended only part of the island. The hardest part. The mountain. Okinawa was the bloodiest invasion in the Pacific. Only Normandy tops it in Europe. Then from Okinawa to two atomic bombs. They showed those, too.

I know a story about the 82nd Airborne. About the capture of one concentration camp. The Airborne were our shock troops. Airborne troops start every battle surrounded. Every time some of them die in just parachuting in. Even in training. Anyway, the 82nd were sent to a problem spot in Germany. There they captured a town near concentration camp. They had a solution. Each and every person in that town was marched through the concentration camp. The reactions were generally horror. Some weren’t. But they had to see every part. The murder showers. The ovens. The mass graves. The piles of bodies. And always those who lived. The burgermeister shot himself.

And it sounds so long ago when you say the date. But it was just my father. That wasn’t that far ago. In real time. Not arbitrary time. Not minutes, days, years. In real time. It was only one generation ago. My dad. My dad did that. My dad turned 18 in 1943 but I think he’d been in the army two years by then.

My dad wasn’t the guy my mom wanted to marry originally. Her original guy died. Dad was another guy in their group. I don’t know how they got together. I got the feeling the honeymoon was over pretty soon. Dad drank and mom drove her children crazy. That’s not fair. They both had a hand in that. They were both nuts. From nuts. Isn’t it a shame things like that reverberate down the generations.

Yup. I’m nuts too. So’s my sister. I don’t talk to her much. But as bad as that is, it’s still better than the world with Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo winning the war. Even if they never invaded us. It’s still lots better. They were ugly guys. I’m not qualified to label something evil, but many who were there feel those guys (and Stalin, our ally) were . . .

I’m not qualified. I know I can’t tell the difference. But I’d have enlisted in world war two. After Pearl Harbor. I dodged Vietnam. Legally. But I dodged. I knew it would do the same to me that WWII did to my father. See he could have overcome being an orphan and adopted by a nut. But he couldn’t face what he saw, and did, in the war. So he drank. He died in the war, too. He just took longer to lie down. 55 million dead. 30 million refugees. Conservatively. Could be twice that number.

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  Bret Blakeslee
Micro Update

Hi Folks,

Haven't been around lately.   Been fixing up my bus (VW MicroBus) and learning to draw.  Needed to rewire part of my brain to retrieve the nouns that gabapentin has hidden from me.  That's more like it.  I have nouns coming out my ears.  More than I'll ever need.  Enough to write with . . . and more!  It's working.  ;-)

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