Monday, July 22, 2013
When I was young, many kids would write to their favorite baseball team and in return receive glossy pictures of players on the roster, pencils with team logos, and other such treasures. I did all that, but I was a little different. I wrote a letter to Radio Moscow.
I had received a shortwave radio for Christmas in 1974, and I began listening to broadcasts from all over the world. Back then, the USSR (Russia) broadcast their propaganda all across the world in English, much like Rush Limbaugh does today. Moved and intrigued, I wrote them a letter. I told them that I wanted to know more about their mysterious land. About a half year later, I received an air-freight package from them. It contained a paperback book called, "Russia, My Land" and a courteous letter inviting me to come join the revolution and peacefully take up residence in the Soviet Union. I noted that the package obviously had been opened before I received it.
Ever since then, I've been followed. At first, it was classic Hollywood-dark sedans-guys with fedoras-smoking cigars-behind tinted windows-type spying. Ten years ago, the surveillance was masked by a vast network of white vans that followed me every time I went for a drive. These vans were sometimes plain white or carried bogus business signs on their sides; white plumbing vans, white painting vans, white auto glass vans, white pest company vans, and white cable company vans, just to list a few. Inside the vans, I’m convinced, were teams of tracking specialists led by people like Barney from the original “Mission Impossible.”
Eventually, I began to ignore them. After all, I’m really not that interesting. Recently however, I noticed a change in tracking strategy, which I attribute to improvements in technology. Instead of a fleet fully electronically-networked white vans, the people who wish to hide from me are now using white pick-up trucks, F-250/350 or GMC Sierra’s, with trailer towing mirrors flanking them like bug antennae. Instead of teams of specialists tracking my every move from their hidden nests inside the white vans, now one driver, using his dashboard navigation and communication systems can pass me from one white pick-up to another seamlessly. I suppose this streamlining was an excellent way to save money but still maintain the necessary “eyes on.”
Whenever I check my rear-view mirror, they are with me. Sometimes they drive by seemingly heading in the opposite direction, but I'm on to how the network operates. I know how they work. Basic surveillance techniques never change.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Last year, I posted a line that I found on a third graders discarded note. I thought that it would make a great opening line to a novel. That gave me an idea. What if I tried to come up with novel openings here on my blog? What if I did that? What would that look like? Would I become inspired to actually take up the pen (keyboard)?
When people see something horrible, they sometimes react in unpredictable ways. That’s what happened to me that day.
The woods were quiet, the sun not reaching the dark side of the mountain yet. Dampness dripped on me as I walked along the ridge top trail. The early morning humidity was rich and persistent. My shirt was already drenched even though I had only been on my morning day-hike for less than a half hour. But I really didn’t mind, because there was a lot on my mind.