Posts by W E Patterson

In which I buy Bitcoin

I received my first investment advice from my grandfather. Granddad was a stoic Midwesterner, deeply religious, and a man of few words. He fought in the First World War and then went on to see the Great Depression, followed by World War II, so he experienced both good times and bad.

But regarding his investment advice:

Granddad was fond of telling a story of a man who lived in our town during the years immediately prior to WWII. The man was a well-respected tradesman. Of what trade, I can’t recall, but he was a carpenter or a bricklayer, or something like that. He had a wife and a couple of small children and he provided well for them. When he was in his middle years, he decided to abandon his trade and purchase a local restaurant that had come up for sale. He sank all of his hard-earned carpentering/bricklaying money into the establishment and he worked night and day to make the place a success. Sadly though, in spite of all of the man’s hard work and best intentions, the restaurant floundered. Within months, the man had lost all of his money and the restaurant soon went under. Devastated and financially destroyed, the man began to drink heavily and soon thereafter his wife moved away, taking the children with her. I forget the rest of the story, but I don’t think things ended happily for this guy.

“Never put your money into something you don’t know about,” was Granddad’s advice.

He didn’t have too much use for the stock market either, having lived through the ‘crash’ of 1929. He had a similar distrust of banks, although he came to tolerate them, but the stock market he told me was controlled by fast talking businessmen who were out to gouge the common man.

Granddad believed that real estate was the only investment worth making. He once told me that if I were to ever invest money into anything, to make sure you could “build a fence on it”.

So today, as I am considering my first cryptocurrency investment, I am wondering what Granddad would say considering the tiny smattering of knowledge I have regarding Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency I am considering buying. He certainly could not build a fence on the Blockchain. Yet today, I find myself sitting in front of my newly created Coinbase account ready to invest my hard earned cash (not much of it really), into a marginally understood form of digital money that was created by a mysterious man named Satoshi Nakamoto, who may, or may not, even exist depending upon to whom one talks. Still, I am intrigued by the concept of the ‘digital wallet’ that I am about to deposit my newly minted crypto funds into. I am more intrigued by the fact that this currency exists outside the realm of banks or government (Granddad might like that part).

But I am concerned about the environmental impact digital mining is taking on such fragile eco-systems as Iceland where a huge amount of cryptocurrency mining is taking place.

But I am going boldly forward anyway. More on my investment later.

Shortly before he died, Granddad cautioned me one more time. “Never buy a restaurant,” he told me. “It’s not in your blood.”

I told him I would never consider it.

You can quote me

The internet is awash with quotes. There are so many quotes, being quoted by so many,  that I rarely stop to read them when they appear on my social media news feed. These days, it has to be a helluva quote to suck me in. I’m suffering from ‘quote-fatigue’, and you may quote me on that.

It is all so easy. If I want to project a certain point of view upon my social media followers, all I have to do is to perform a quick internet search for an individual whose interests/beliefs/values/religion, or whatever,  align somewhat with mine, enter her name along with the word ‘quotes’, and just like that…an instant pool of quotes appear into which I can dip my virtual ladle.

For example, a search for ‘Richard Nixon quotes’ turned up a boat load of quotes, among them:  

I can take it, the tougher it gets, the cooler I get.”

(This is by far my favorite Richard Nixon quote.)

Or a search for Charlton Heston quotes turns up this oft repeated, bastardized, and misused quote by both the political right and left:

There are no ‘good guns.’ There are no ‘bad guns.’ Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody, except bad people.”

And so it goes with the quotes.

What I am interested in knowing, is if you have any quotes that have stuck with you over a period of time – say at least a month or two. Do you have any quotes attributed to the famous, or even the marginally famous that have caused you to get out your notebook and mechanical pencil and jot it down for future reference? Maybe you taped it on an index card so you could read it every day and maybe you placed that index card by your computer, or taped it to the dash of your car, or maybe it’s on the doghouse of the 18 wheeler you’re driving. Maybe it is attached by magnet to your refrigerator door, or you folded it and placed it in the bottom of your purse. Or it’s tucked into a pocket in your wallet under your Blockbuster card. What is important is that this piece of writing inspires you to do something – to exercise, lose weight, relax, maximize your workday, or just make it through another 24 hours on this rock. Do you have anything like that???

Yes, of course I have a great and meaningful quote, or I wouldn’t be writing this would I. I have it written in a notebook that I use every day, and although I don’t read it every day (I don’t do anything EVERY day), I do read it quite a lot. It is by Ralph Waldo Emerson. So here is  the quote:

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Being more of a windshield guy than a rear view mirror guy this quote makes sense to me. I like to spend more time thinking about what’s ahead, rather than what’s behind.

I rather like the thought of starting each day unencumbered with old nonsense.

How about you?

Feel free to leave your favorite quote in the comments section.

Ed’s end times reading list

Months ago, back before the pandemic, back when I made frequent trips to bookstores, I came across a book titled “100 Books to Read Before you Die”. I had the book in my hand intending to buy it, but before finalizing the purchase I reconsidered. Did I really need someone telling me which books I need to read before my demise, I asked myself? Maybe I do not need that kind of structure in my life. So, I put the book back on the shelf. Still, the idea of such a reading list intrigued me. In the months since, I found several such lists on the internet. After reviewing a couple of these lists, I decided there were simply too many books. 100 books are too much reading to plan.

 If I read a book a month, it would take me roughly 8 ½ years to read all the books on the list. Of course, I have already read many of the books on the list, so that would shorten the time required but still it is an intimidating list. So, I decided to come up with my own list.

I quickly jotted down about a dozen or so titles – mostly books that I already own but have never gotten around to reading. Still, the list was too long. I slashed it down some more, eventually deciding that my own personal list would contain only four titles. Three of the titles are what I refer to as projects. They are more than simple reading assignments. They require time and commitment. They might require notes. They are my project reads. The fourth, by no means is a project read, but I include it for reasons I will describe later.

Here are the books that I hope to finish before I go on to that great goodnight:


Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace; Word count 543, 709. Roughly 1000 pages. Four and a half pounds.

 I have a confession to make. I sometimes find myself reading a lot about the lives of writers, even though I have read little of what they have written. David Foster Wallace (DFW) is in this category. I first started reading about DFW in 2008, in the wake of his tragic death by suicide. Since that time, I have read a lot about him. I have read his 1994 Class Syllabus “How to teach serious literature with lightweight books”. I know that he was a hopeless nicotine addict that chewed tobacco to help relieve his dependence on cigarettes. I have read a great deal about his personal struggles. But I have not read Infinite Jest. It remains on my bookshelf unopened.


Ulysses by James Joyce; Word count 265,391

This one remains on my Kindle. It has taken up space there for nearly two years. It is said that when Joyce completed this work, he handed a copy to his wife who read a few pages and tossed it back at him saying “Why don’t you write something people can understand”. That alone is enough to consign this one to my must-read before death list. Maybe right before death. It is also said that after he completed this book, he did not write a word of prose for a year. So yeah, I must complete this one before the lights go out.


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; Word count 587,287

Some years ago, I picked up a hardcopy of this book in a New Jersey bookstore. At the time I was commuting by train and I intended to read it on my way to and from my job in New York City. Today, a piece of note paper marks my last reading of this book. It marks page 93. The piece of note paper was, at one time, a shopping list, and it lists the following items: milk, eggs, dog food, cigarettes. The last item caught my eye. Since I have not smoked in nearly 30 years, it looks like I gave up both smoking and this book around the same time. Both were taking a toll on my health. One needs to keep notes to get through this one. I will do it though, right after the Madagascar Ultra Marathon.


Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway; 517 pages

I have been a Hemingway fan for as long as I can remember. I have read about everything Papa has written (including his poetry). In one of my blogs here at EEOTPB I mentioned that the first chapter of “A Farewell to Arms” was the best damned first chapter of any book written in the 20th century. So yes, I am a Hemingway fan. I have been a frequent visitor to Key West, and I have travelled there to attend Hemingway Days (where his poetry was read). I have travelled to Bimini to see the ruins of the Compleat Angler Hotel, and if I am lucky, I will live to visit Havana and have drink in the Floridita Bar. I will see what is left of the Pilar. I would love to see Finca Vigia. I’d like to go to Spain one day. At present, I have Hemingway’s last posthumous book, The Garden of Eden loaded on my Kindle.

But I have not read Death in the Afternoon. Not yet.

I am saving it for the end. I am saving it for post-diagnosis.

What books are on your end times reading list?

Drop a list in the comments section…

Fix Spring

Of all of it, God, fix Spring first,
It is far too long and
the miserable April rains are a lot to
slosh through on my way
to the Farmers’ market.

Are you talking to God again,
You old agnostic, she says to me?

You barely observe Christmas,
And now you want a fix for Spring,
You’ve some nerve…

You should be asking for peace
In the middle east,
not a clear path to the organic radishes.

You should be asking about the state
of your soul,
You believe in a soul don’t you?
You old Radish

Notes from the Space Coast

On September 5th, 1977, as I was preparing to leave my home in the Midwest to begin work in a distant city, NASA launched the Voyager I spacecraft from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. For the past 43 years, 8 months and 12 days (as of this writing) Voyager has sped on its way into deep space. Now far past our solar system and deep into interstellar space, Voyager is even further away from earth than its predecessor, Voyager 2, which was launched a couple of weeks earlier. Don’t ask me how that happened, I’m not a space nerd, but I have always been fascinated by far time and deep space, so occasionally I like to check the mission clock to see just where Voyager is right now. Check it yourself here. I am amazed at how fast the miles just seem to keep piling up as this piece of man made machinery hauls some serious ass into very deep, deep space.


I live on a section of Florida’s Space Coast that is relatively undisturbed and for the most part, remote. The beach I walk every day is twenty miles distant from Launch Complex 41 where Voyager lifted off nearly half a century ago. In the 60s and 70s, rocket launches from the Cape were a big deal. The networks carried coverage live and launches were watched around the world. Walter Cronkite announced the launches. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley covered the launches.

America watched.

All that has changed. There is a launch from Canaveral nearly every week. Sometimes a couple of times a week. There is no national coverage, but the local cable channel covers it and we get updates sent directly to our cell phones, so who needs the frigging networks anyway. Space flights are not as commonplace as the 8 AM Delta flight to Atlanta, but they are not the stuff of years past either. They don’t demand the attention of the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo missions. 

We gather on the beach, those of us who live here, downrange from the Cape to watch the rockets  go up.  We watch the Falcon rockets and the Falcon Heavy launches. I know the difference now. The second stage now lands on a drone barge called, appropriately: Of  Course, I Still Love You

The launches draw local crowds, and a manned launch draws a lot more viewers than an unmanned launch. People drive out from Orlando and park across the river from the Space Center to watch them go up, and it’s a hell of a sight no matter how many times you see it.

Knowing that human beings are on board adds a special element of interest, so those launches draw the biggest crowds. We haven’t gone to Mars yet, but we are going.  Soon we will launch a billionaire into space and he and his companions will circle the moon.

Enough said. Once we put a billionaire into outer space, it is a safe bet we are going to Mars.


Today, as I was writing this blog, a sonic boom shook my house, followed shortly thereafter by another, and then another. It was 1:41 PM, and I’d forgotten about the scheduled launch. At 1:37 an Atlas 5 lifted off from pad 41 over at Canaveral. According to NASA, it hit the speed of sound in 47 seconds. That is about 760 miles per  hour in these parts.

On board was a 1-billion-dollar, missile defense satellite, and by the time I pushed back from my chair and made my way outside to squint into the early afternoon Florida sky, it was gone, leaving only a white vapor tail in its wake. It was moving unbelievably fast over the Atlantic. Unbelievably fast.

MENDING FENCES

A couple of nights ago, my friend Tulip called from Long Beach. Some of you who have been around this blog since the beginning will remember Tulip because I mentioned her in some of my first posts here on EEOTPB. Tulip and I were really good friends at one time, but we had a falling out over nothing really and although neither of us was truly angry at the other, we fell out of touch over an inappropriate barb aimed at a political personality who shall remain nameless here.

That’s the way most old friendships end. All is going well, and then there are a couple of terse words about something nonsensical and the phone goes dead and stays dead forever. These days there is no telephone receiver to slam down in its cradle in disgust. No telephone booth to rush forth from in the middle of a rainy night, leaving the receiver dangling from its cord…just the dead weight of a smart phone, heavy in your hand, which can be immediately redirected to social media to confirm whatever we need to confirm about our own particular viewpoint or belief. In the end, I think we all might be better friends if we had landlines tethered to the earth.

So, until two days ago, I had not spoken to Tulip in years. But she sent me a card at Christmas this past year saying she’d remarried and was moving to Long Beach, and her new husband was recently furloughed from one of the airlines where he’d worked for more than a decade as a flight attendant. She told me she had given up smoking and she had been watching lots of YouTube videos. She was painting. She was drinking red wine instead of gin. She said she was taking vitamins every day and she and Gavin (not his real name) were planning a trip to Costa Rica in the fall. She was walking ten thousand steps a day and she wanted to go zip lining in the rain forest. She told me she was going to Weight Watchers and reading a book a week. Gavin was taking cooking classes online.

We talked about the day we met in Muir Woods in 1980 and about how she’d driven out to California from Minnesota in the late 70s to work for a paint company in the Bay Area.

But all of that was in the past. Like Reaganomics and the Carter administration. Like B1B Bob Dornan. But this is today, and the pandemic had hit Tula and Gavin hard. Tulip wanted to move to Phoenix, but Melvin hated the desert. I suggested Tacoma but Tulip cut me off. Fed Ex was at the door she said, and she had to go. Fed Ex was delivering dog food for their rescue Chihuahua named Minnie Pearl.

Then it was time to go.  I told Tulip I was  happy for her new life. I suggested that they move to Denver, but she said no. Gavin is not a skier. I suggested the Midwest, but she said it wasn’t in her blood any longer. St. Paul had left her drained even after all these years. She said the winters would kill  her. It was all over in an instant. Tulip went her way and I went mine and she said she’d call back in a couple of weeks.

On the road to Brush Trail

My password expired today,
or so they said,
I was busy reading an article
about Brussel sprouts and
another about the
death of Dylan Thomas.
And another about the Hollywood sign.
There is a hiking trail, just so
you know — Brush Canyon Trail.
It takes you to the sign.
We will hike it someday, you
& me. In better times.
Today I want to
trade a stock that I read about
drinking late one night and the
guy who said the pick was solid
was the same guy who said that :

“All the Gold in California” by
the Gatlin Brothers was the best
fucking song ever written.
I listen to it on my vintage

Walkman, hiking,  mornings near
Mt. Pocono.
Now, we are almost on the trail again.
No cell phones, Sweetie.
No technology.
We are in the Scouts,
pioneering our way through the
Rocky Mountain West.

Put one foot ahead of the other.
We are like Lewis and Clark
trying to find the Pacific.
You and me.
We are trying to find the

best place to buy Brussel
sprouts in Long Beach, look it up you say
to me
“it is at your fingertips Mr. Clark”

lesser mountains

clamber up the ladder
&
rest your elbows on the ledge
don’t overthink your next breath
consider the Himalayas —
as mountains you won’t visit

forget K2; think Polecat Peak
forget Everest; think Stowe.
think Mount Sunflower
and Oklahoma High Top.

Great peaks are beyond you.

Silence is a decade away
it stings and you
hear it when you bed
down at night, near
the horses…

circle the wagons

wear your best hat to Safeway
&
flirt with the checkout girl
she won’t remember you

vegetables are your solace
cheap wine your friend

Seneca is your confident,

Beethoven is for late night
Strauss for morning

scratch that lottery ticket
&  buy your way out,
or, have your body

quick frozen in one of those vats
out in Michigan (think Mount Curwood)
wait for the cure
to arrive in the 34th century

you could wake
to a dozen or more years of this

Screen door 1971

Screen door – I miss you.
I miss your frame,

your spring,
your hook
your eye.
Man, that’s a door
for the ages.
Hang it outside in the
storm and wait.

You won’t keep out the drunks,
or the memories.
Or the dirt from the past,
or the gravel dust from the road,
or the bad blood or
daylight.
You won’t keep out,
Aunt Laura.
But you do a
good job with the
 insects.

You allow the first breath of
spring to waft in across the
mud porch.
How they slam you,
you damned old
green, painted – bastard.
But after midnight
I close you gently, old relic
from 1955.
You creak
like petrified bones headed for the
graveyard.

In the daytime, I’d let you fly
fast and hard – wood on wood.

The day I left home
I closed you for the last time.
I was smoking then
I had a suitcase
from Montgomery Wards,
and a  half dozen 8 track
tapes.

You Locked behind me
as
I drove the Ford Fairlane
north
out of town.

Mars

There is a door
we walk thru every day.
We carry our coffee in paper cups.
We drive south on the
freeway. We look North
toward the Sound.
We look West toward the pier.
We prepare for
shit that nobody told us about.

We look for cheap gas.
We call the insurance company.
We worry about the keys,
we left in our pants.
We worry if Kansas
will ever welcome us
home.
We wander like there are
no other humans in the
Milky Way.


Let us down easy God.

Look up.

Mars is out tonight. Is it  red?

Looks pink to me. She says. Mars that is.