Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Cat, A Dog and Some Birds

Once there was a cat sitting on a fence watching several birds play in the trees. The cat was thinking, “They are having a lot of fun and they are so cute, but I want to eat one of them.” Cunning as cats can be he pondered how the birds could be captured and turned into a meal.

But as most cats are this particular feline was lazy, which was evident by the fact that he was laid-out across the top of the wooden fence watching the birds. The cat was so lazy that he fell asleep just looking at the birds and when he woke up there were 10 birds flitting around the tree limbs. There was also a big, burly hound-dog at the bottom of the tree; watching and jumping and barking.

The cat listened intently to the words of the dog. “Hey birds! All these years, and for many of you it’s been an entire lifetime, I have looked out for you. Everyone needs to come over to my house where many of us animals are gathered. We have learned that there’s danger in this world and the more of us that are sticking together, the safer we all will be.” The birds continued to fly through the limbs, jumping from limb-to-limb, as birds are known to do.

Now, the cat continued his observations while the dog talked. Several minutes afterward the cat remained stretched-out on the fence, still watching the birds. During this time he came up with an idea that was sure to provide him a fine feast of bird. Standing-up on the fence (which was not an easy thing for a lazy animal), the cat meandered across the top of the fence, jumped down to the ground and pranced over to the bottom of the tree (but continued to watch the larger dog since dogs and cats don’t get along).

Speaking in his most feline tones the cat said, “Excuse me, excuse me please dear birdies. I have been listening to this hound speak with a conniving tone in his voice and wanted to make you aware of something.”

At that very moment the birds stopped flying and stood perfectly still. You see, birds know that dogs can’t climb trees. Birds also know that cats can climb trees and jump in the air. In fact little birdies are taught by their parents, since hatching from their egg, that birds are not safe around cats.

But this cat had a nice sound to his voice and was speaking bird, which made it most appealing to the birds. This caused the birds to stop flitting and feel safe while they listened.

The cat continued with his deceptive scheme, “Dogs can not be trusted, they are big and strong. A little bird would not stand a chance to live if led by such a big dog. And consider this; the dog does not speak the language of bird well. Can you really trust him if you are not sure what he is saying?”

Momentarily several birds chimed in, “But the dog says he will take care of us if we only come together as a group of animals; that being bird, or cat, or dog does not matter when we are all together. Besides, he has taken care of us for many years.”

Just looking at the birds caused the cat to lick his mouth. Everyone knows that looking at a future meal will cause a cat to salivate uncontrollably. The cat continued, “But he does not know how it is to be a bird, I do.”

“I can even speak bird, and he does not really care about you. I do!” (It was obvious that the cat was not a liar, cats study birds all their lives, do care that birds get fat, and love to eat the creatures.)

The dog seemed to be interested while the cat and birds talked, however he did not speak cat well. But since cats eat birds and birds study cats all their lives (it is a survival skill), the dog employed a bird skilled in cat-speak to translate what was being said between the cat and birds.

The birds were twitter-patted with the idea a cat that naturally enjoys a good bird meal would care about them so much that he would protect each of them. “Maybe…” the birds thought, “…this is a changed cat; one that has seen the error of his ways and will protect us from the dog. Like the cat said, we do not really understand dogs.”

Continuing, the cat told the birds, “Fellow birds, we are alike – one in the same. You live in the trees, I can climb trees. You speak bird, I speak bird. I do not like dogs and you do not like dogs. If you come to my house I will take care of you and we will eat the best food available.”

One bird told the group, “We should have a bird town-hall meeting.” The birds immediately flew higher in the tree and had this meeting for about 15 seconds (after all birds have small bird brains and can’t remember a single thing for a long period of time).

The bird leader said, “If we go with the cat he will take care of us and give us the best bird food. We will live healthy, our brains will be bigger, our bodies will grow stronger and there will be no dangers.” Several of the birds chirped-in, “We agree, let’s go with the cat.”

As support for the cat’s plan grew with a ground-swell of bird converts, a small bird group remained which doubted safety exist with the cat. However this small bird group started to feel as if its members might be in danger to remain on their own. Of course the cat had already convinced this group of birds that the dog was bad and had never really cared about birds. All of the flying fowl no longer had faith in the dog. It had to be true, the cat and bird leaders had already announced the dog was no longer safe or supported by any bird.

Moments later an assembly of birds could be seen on the upper-most limbs, tweeting quietly how they feared the cat (after all, “Cats eat birds” one bird was heard telling the gourp). Another birds could be heard when he said, “But what can we do? Our bird leaders seem to endorse the cat and if we say anything contrary to popular belief we will be known as mischief-makers, instigators, or maybe even revolutionaries. Our families will be in danger!”

Several members of this bird group decided to go along with the bird leaders and see how things would develop, but a smaller, more minuscule portion of that bird group decided it would not join the cat and it could not come to a conclusion as to whether the dog was safe (after all, the birds and cats had tried to confuse and trick all birds).

So that day the largest bird group went away with the cat and the dog went home alone.

The small bird group that had decided to stay on its own heard many stories of parties and good times at the cat’s house. Rumors were heard that all kinds of food existed and the “cat-birds” as the cat titled the group were promised safety and that each member of the group would have a home and weapons in case the cat faced any danger. But the birds that did not join the cat ate seed, bugs and other types of regular bird food.

There was also rumor that a large portion of the “cat-birds” had left to join the dog. After all, a bird may have a bird-sized attention span but never forgets what it’s Mother and Daddy have taught it about the danger of a cat.

The dog provided his birds with the finest bird food, but one day the cat came to his home and ate all of his birds, they became ‘bird food’. After all, the cat did not want to eat his own birds. The dog barked and barked, then ran to the cat’s home and told the ‘cat-birds’ of the danger. While there the dog noticed that all the birds must have been eating well, because they all seemed much fatter than when he spoke to them before. Eating good food must have changed their minds about cats because all the little birds laughed at the dog.

The dog curled his tale between his legs and went back home.

The birds that had remained alone learned how the dog lost his bird following and mumbled amongst themselves (as birds will do) how they were proud to have stayed home alone.

Some time later the birds heard that the cat had joined a cat group and shared his birds with the cat membership, this group of birds and their way of life did not survive. The new group of cats had eaten the fattest group of birds ever known to have existed. Cats everywhere had heard of the feast which consisted of birds that were plump, tender, and delectable; a story that would be passed on from generation-to-generation. But the rumors also described the birds as being afraid to fight for bird survival.

The small group of birds that had remained alone heard their brothers’ and sisters’ demise and lamented the loss, but there was yet more news. The dog, from a distance had watched the cat turn on his bird followers and eat them. But while this was happening, and considering that a dog can only be a dog, he crept up behind the cat and ate him.

The small group of birds that remained reflected back on the day the dog and cat tried to persuade all birds to follow them. Then one bird who was not a leader recalled how the cat promised all would eat the best food, and the dog had promised they would all have the best food.

But neither had promised the best bird food.

Each received the food promised. The birds that followed the cat ate the best bird food and in-turn became the best ‘bird food’ for the cat, and the dog had the best food a dog could have, the cat and all the consumed birds.

The moral of this story: Listen carefully. What you have been told may not be what you heard and what you were told may not be what was meant when you were told.

Author's Additional Thoughts

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on my first "SHUT-UP!" video attempt; this entry has my second attempt at adding a video of me reading. This new story was written in the style of a fable or parable. There is an apparent story line, but several underlying concepts, and behaviors are included in the tale. Each person may interpret this story differently, but the moral is the same no matter who reads or views the video. Feel free to leave me a comment by clicking the word COMMENT just below the video box; I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Thanks again for following my blog and/or subscribing to my YouTube account. Have a nice day! ~ Andy

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"SHUT-UP!", the Video

Good day ladies and gents! I’ve been working on it for a couple days and finally got the hang of recording and posting on YouTube. So with no further ado here is the first of many blog video posts. My most recent post is “SHUT-UP!” so I used this as my first effort and s you will be able to tell, it’s not professionally recorded and I did it alone, so please overlook that small piece of the production.

I had another challenge a few days ago which was related to the amount of time I could post on YouTube, or maybe it was just my understanding. I recorded the post and my camera stopped recording at 10-minutes. At that time I recalled that someone had mentioned that YouTube would only allow 10-minutes so I figured that was the reason for the camera’s 10-minutes cutoff (you know, maybe a universal movie limit?!?!). But as luck would have it I was wrong and Omar, a good Twitter friend (twitter ID @18percentgrey) informed me of the true 15 minutes limit, and guess what? He was right (this guy knows a lot of stuff).

I will be reorganizing the layout of my blog to include video section, give me a little time. But I finally re-recorded the "SHUT-UP!" video and got it posted. Here you go, let me know what you think.


If you would like, subscribe to my YouTube account - AndyThinkingOutLoud. The link is I will appreciate your subscribtion there and Follow here on the blog..  Have a good day!  ~ Andy 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Putting a Video Posts on YouTube (help!!!!!)

Good-day my blogging friends! I wanted to let you know that I'm working on video copies of my blog posts. Sounds easy, but getting it right can be challenging for 1 guy! :-)  I want to be sure that each recording looks as-if I tried my best on each attempt. The easiest way to go would be to make a recording, put it onYouTube, and then link from this blog site. So, yesterday morning  I tried to record "SHUT-UP" but guess what?  Youtube has a 10-minute limit and "SHUT-UP" went 11 minutes 20 seconds, AWWWGG.  I will try again today, but if anyone has an idea on how to post a longer recording on YouTube let me know.  ?;-)

Sunday, August 15, 2010



Lips pursed in surprise and anticipation.

“You shut-up!”

Fist clinched in anticipation.

“You want me to pop you upside the head….”

A flinch of the shoulders followed.


Shoulders shrugged.

“Do what you got to do; I may be short but I’m tougher than you think.”

Shoulders give way to a curl-and-uncurling of fingers in a “Come on” motion.

“Don’t make me do it again.”

A long index finger extends toward the other.

“In your sick mind I’m causing you to do it. I’ll do something and you’ll not forget what I did!”

A voice of anger gave way to a trembling whimper. 

“You and some invisible army - you better back off.”

Looking up…


Turning away another…

“Awgggggggg” could be heard.  “You’re never going to hit me again!”

“I will do what I want, when I want” and he pushed her into the wall.

Pulling a knife from a counter she turned from the wall and thrust her body toward his. He stepped to the side allowing the motion of her body to move past him, her small frame landing against another wall. Displaying a physical limpness in her arms and body she uttered a grunt that could be heard…

…while he laughed.

“Ha, Ha! See, you can’t hurt me. I own you!”

Running out of the room thoughts of fear, anger, and rage overwhelmed her synaptic processes. “I’ve got to get away or I’m really going to get hurt”. Passing through a bedroom she ran into a restroom and locked the door. Pausing for a moment, she turned an ear toward the door and listened for continued danger. His laughing and yelling filled the premises. Seemingly, during her intent to survive his voice was increasing with intensity as each second passed.

“Is he drunk?” she thought. Almost losing the mental capacity to think and make a plan she thought, “He’s really loud; maybe the neighbors will hear him screaming and call the police.”

But several minutes passed and he became almost tyrannical. She could hear his screams that seemed to be directed at someone in the room with him. But she only heard her name at the end or beginning of each tyrant. Profanity peppered every statement, “He has gone crazy. If he remembers I’m here he will kill me.”

No help came.   

“Calm down, calm down” she repeated over and over. “I’ve got to calm down. Pull it together.” As if trying to prove to herself that she was ok she raised and stretched her hands in front of her chest, but her fingers continued to tremble.

Employing other senses she continued to listen in an effort to determine what he was doing, but it was impossible to really know what was happening. During the next few minutes he became quiet, weighing on her sense of security and whether she was really in danger.

Again she put an ear up against the door, listening and listening; and listening a little bit more. But there just wasn’t enough proof that he was gone, or if he was still there.

She reached for the door knob and considered opening the door. But as her fingers neared the knob breathing could be heard from the hallway and she stepped back to the center of the room.

Quietly, reverently she said, “Are you there?”

In a stern, almost commanding voice and answer was received. “Your damn right I’m still out here and I’m going to kick your butt when you open that door!”

Again her entire body began to tremble as she assumed a fetal position on the floor. While gasping for breaths of fresh air tears began to stream down her face and pool up on the floor. But the pool of tears was not apparent until a hand dropped to the floor.

“What?” she screamed. “Look what you caused me to do! Don’t come in here!”

Gasping for air she stood-up and started to pace around the room, while tears continued to drop to the floor. She grabbed a tissue from the counter and started to pat the tears from her face. Several minutes passed and her facial expressions resembled a more normal state of consciousness.

“Hummmm, do-do-do” he sang out in the hallway. While he continued with a “Do, Do, Da, Da”, she allowed thoughts that she normally would not think come into her mind.

“What can I do? Where is that carving knife?

Pausing for a moment she turned her head, positioning it like a cat when it notices a mouse running across a floor, or while watching a bug crawl across a wall. 

“I could kill him if I had that knife.”

Her fear had festered over the past weeks and months like an infected cut, painfully sensitive to every movement and possible touch. Fear had evolved to defense and then to the concept of murder, something that her religious beliefs would never have allowed her to consider a year ago. But like most infected cuts, a point is reached where efforts to fight the infection no-longer are effective and lancing, or cutting the infection out, become the only options to relieve the pressure and remove the poison.

And that is exactly what he had become to their relationship. Poison to the love they had once cherished, puss on the top of their life together.

He had to be removed.

Thoughts were racing through her mind. She considered that premeditated murder is a capital offense, punishable by death, or at least life in prison, but at the same time she was astonished that the actual thought of killing him belonged to her. She thought, “He can’t be allowed to continue to physically abuse me and psychologically ruin my life, I can not let him hurt me any more.”

“I can’t take it any more”, she thought. “I’ve got to get some help, get out of here, or…..” tears started to stream down her face again.

While talking to herself she placed her hands over her cheeks and eyes and seemed to be praying, “Please help me. Please help me. What can I do?”

But with an interrupting voice that seemed to come from a surround-sound set of speakers she heard,

 “What the hell are you doing in there? Get your ass out here” as he banged on the bathroom door.





“Open this door now. I am not leaving until you come out here!”

“I’m not coming out there while you’re acting like this!” she replied. “Are you drunk?”

He hit the door once more and then started walking down the hallway. Pressing her ear up against the door it was apparent he was leaving because his steps grew faint and almost disappeared, then his footsteps began to become louder. He was coming back up the hall.

‘Clunk’, she recognized that sound – it was a chair being sat on the floor.  “He’s sitting just on the other side of the door!” she mentally screamed.

“I’m going to get me a sandwich, let me know when your ready to come out and maybe I’ll let you have a sandwich too. That’s if you’re a good girl!”

Her entire body shivered and the hair stood-up on ends when she heard the ‘good girl’ comment. “I’m going to have to kill him. He’s not going to let me out of here” she said.

Sitting quietly she attentively listened as he began to walk down the hallway. The sound of his foot steps continued to diminish, giving her the assurance that he was walking away from her, maybe to get the sandwich he mentioned. The footsteps continued to grow faint, and then non-existent. “Finally” she whispered.

“Where is that knife?” Thinking through her movements prior to entering the bathroom she sat on the commode lid to ponder what had happened. Considering the last 20 minutes she recalled that “he pushed me and I grabbed the knife, then he shouted at me and I started to run. When I got to the bathroom I flung the door open, came in and locked the door.”

“Where is the knife? Where is the knife?” Several more minutes passed and then it was like a eureka moment flashed across her face. “When I swung the door open I dropped the knife just outside the door.”

She said out loud, “If he didn’t pick it up the knife is just on the other side of this door.”

While recalling that he surprised her earlier by being on the other side of the door, as she murmured, “No, no, no. I can’t go out there. I’m sure he found it and is waiting for me”.

With what some would consider impeccable timing, or maybe more of a demonic timing he shouted from a distance,

“All right honey, come on out.  Aren’t you getting hungry?

And in a condescending, almost a ‘you know I’m lying’ tone…

Everything’s alright. Come on out.”

Assuming the stance of a statue she immediately stopped moving. “Don’t move, don’t move, DON’T BREATH” she mentally screamed.

‘Maybe if he’s drunk the food will sober him up’ she thought; a moment later a television turned on and she heard some talking. Almost as a prayer she thought, “He’s watching TV. God please let him fill up on whatever and then make him go to sleep.”

She leaned against the bathtub. Apparently the air conditioner was not on; the air was getting stale and warm. She thought about it for a moment and came to the conclusion that all of her crying had consumed the cool air; when she was crying and screaming her rapid breathing had warmed the room’s temperature even further.

But the porcelain surface of the tub offered a respite to the uncomfortable environment. Considering how cool the surface was she started to entertain the thought of taking a bath, but it was just too hot in the room to even turn the water on. But she thought, “I have really been sweating, I need to take a bath, but not if he’s sitting outside the door.”

“Are you out there?”

No answer. She snuggly put her ear up against the door and listened intently. There was no movement. She repeated “Are you out there?”

Still there was no answer, and then she remembered the knife. “Honey, are you out there?” she asked again and there was still no answer. Still standing inches from the door she considered the knife once more. “Maybe…” she thought, “I can get it now.”

Immediately upon touching the door knob a memory and fear of what happened last time flashed in her mind. She could still hear him saying “Your damn right I’m still out here…” and she backed away from the door again.

But the knife served as a mental magnet, pulling all of her thoughts back to the door and the possibility of safely reaching the knife, just beyond her reach, on the other side of the door. She approached the door yet again and warmed the knob with the palm of her hand. “Are you there?” she softly asked again – still no answer. There was no sound or movement other than the voices and sounds of a television show coming from down the hallway.

“You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.” she kept repeating in a soft, nervous whisper. She turned the knob slowly so as not to create a single sound. Once the door bolt clicked she knew the door was open and he could burst into the bathroom at any moment. She pulled the door toward her, making access to her secured location even more vulnerable to his attack.   

Peering outside the door it seemed obvious that he was not there. But was he really gone? At the very moment she took a first step out the door she heard a “Whoooooshhh” from a commode flushing down the hall.

“Oh no” she thought. He’s in the hallway bathroom.” She froze like a rabbit trying to cross a road in front of an approaching automobile, and then jumped back into the bathroom like an antelope.

Closing the door was not possible, petrified fear had once again consumed her entire body. Listening quietly for the sound of footsteps to come in her direction she mentally counted; “10, 20, 30”; half a minute had passed while holding that breathe in anticipation of being discovered. Still nothing happened. “Maybe”, she thought “…he won’t come down this way.”

In an attempt to make no sound she had not released the breath sucked-in while out in the hallway and bedroom area and her head was feeling as if it would explode. But things could be even worse and she realized this when it was apparent the last gulp of oxygen consumed at the door could not be maintained. She sprinted to the bathtub, picked-up a towel and shoved her face into it.

Exhaling the old, stale breath felt good, but both lungs felt as if flames were consuming bronchia and it was like a soldering fluid had boiled over into every microscopic fiber of her being. Deliberate breathing seemed to transform into a more regular, autonomic action. “Thank God”, she thought. “Things are returning to normal.”

Looking across the room and through the door she noticed that the knife was sitting on a chair in the hallway. “I need that knife.”

*** Good day, everyone, I appreciate your support by following my blog. This entry had several pieces of information or thoughts that contributed to its creation. The first was that I wanted to continue touching on emotions and I decided about 3 weeks ago that I wanted to write from a female's eyes. This is not an empowering superhero type of female (maybe I will do something like that in the future), but then there is no end to this story yet.  With that said, the other factors that contributed to the story are somewhat sketchy for this introduction. I had another situation in development and this story had to occur prior to my original entry consideration. I want to thank @grapechick on Twitter (Sherry) for a discussion we had this past week that indirectly caused me to develop the first storyline, which means this story is two-times removed from my original thoughts and our Tweet-sation (which I’m considering as a part of this story’s continuation).

With all that said, this entry developed itself and grew to just under 2,500 words. As I started and wrote the first “Shut-Up” I became angry with the male character and even more afraid with the female. It was like the characters were in a personal vision and I was watching the main character through a camera, I could see her trembling and the shock when he answered, “Your damn right I’m still out here…” It surprised me first, that he was there and said it, and that I heard him say it (I don’t talk to people like that). If you like the story and are interested in a continuation please leave a comment, and let me know how this entry affected you. Once again, thanks for reading my work and staying in touch. If you know of anyone that my writing style will appeal to please let them know I’m here conducting a little 'open-heart surgery' (sharing some of my deepest thoughts) and Thinking Outloud.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good morning my blogging friends. Word was out that my latest entry would be ready this morning. I am sorry to say it’s not ready; but not because the writing is not done. I am not ready because this entry developed beyond what I had planned - I don’t want the characters (the main character at least) to end. I’m emotionally connected to her; and the natural progression of the story took me somewhere that I had not intended. I believe this entry will become 2 or more posts. So, later today I will have edited the draft and separated the story for the first post.  Thanks for understanding.

I will give you this to contemplate, the title is "Shut-Up".

Monday, August 9, 2010

Confusing, but not Exactly Misspelled

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was on the look out for grammar and spelling errors in public places. This is neither, but its awfully confusing. Anyone approaching the street that wants to turn left, should turn right.  Go figure.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


It was dark and he wasn't sure just how this happened; working on a scaffold type device, fitting an extension post in place and the next thing he’s in the dark, and alone. The day had started just as anyone would have expected, like the previous day. He had popped out of the bunk with no effort, and then had a cup of coffee. Remembering back to breakfast he recalled that everyone had practically finished before he had sat foot on the deck and almost no one noticed when he entered the kitchen area. While scrounging up some food Bogdan Petrov, a Russian with chiseled abs locked eyes with him, mumbled Черт кофе! (“Damn coffee”), knocked fists with the American and walked out the door. Finally he was able to collect some eggs, a piece of bread, a container of water and sat down. Several others on the team finished eating and exited through the door.

Still thinking about the moment he recalled Abaigael, the new girl from Israel sat with him and the conversation was just general conversation; “How are you?”, “How long did you train?” - Chit-chat one would expect from a new acquaintance. A smile came across his face when he recalled her soft, mysterious blue eyes. But just as quickly as the memory entered his mind he snapped back to reality.

He thought, “I’m in a dark place, my movement seems to be restricted, and I cannot feel my arms or legs.” He tried to move his arms but could feel no movement. In fact, it seemed that all sensing of his body was shutdown, or at least not feeling external force.

“I’m a scientist, the logical thing is to think through the earlier parts of the day so I can deduce what has happened and get the heck out of here.” As he prepared to scientifically exclude factors he found himself returning to one determining question…

“Am I alone?”

In the languages of several team members he cried out, “Hello!” (English), “Привет!” (Russian),“Olá” (Portuguese), and “Bonjour” (French).

There was no answer, not a sound. Thoughts raced through his mind while considering the alternatives. “Am I dead and don’t know it? Have I been in an auto accident and left unconscious?”

“What the hell is going on?” he mumbled, followed by the thought that maybe he didn’t say it at all.

A flood of thoughts racing through his mind turned into fear as he considered another alternative, “Maybe I’m not dead but only left to die…”

“What could be worse?”

His immediate response was, “Not Dead!”

He had screamed the answer out loud to himself. “Nothing could be worse than not being dead and having to be here, not knowing when I will die…”

“…wherever this is”. The last part of his statement trailed off into a whisper.   

He continued his contemplation of the situation and said in almost a condescending tone, to himself, Well who are you talking to…”.

“Oh no, I’m talking to myself…..”.

“Of course I’m talking to myself. There’s not a damn human in sight, or within earshot of me either.”  He squeezed his eyes tight, in a sort of sarcastic attempt at coming to reality, or when a person tries to hold back tears.

A couple shallow breaths were exercised and then he tried to move his arms again, with no real result. Twitching his lips and nose proved that obviously he was not paralyzed, or at least not completely paralyzed - but still neither arm nor leg would move.

This was a nightmare existence – Dying, or dead; awake or asleep? Something had to change. There must be an explanation.

Breathing; an autonomic process had  turned into an inhaling and more laborious pushing of air out of his lungs seemed to require more of a deliberate action.

In, out; In, out.

His eyes batted once, and then twice assuring himself that if needed he could communicate with a doctor. Nobody would bury him alive, “I can communicate!” he assured himself.

Existing in what most people would consider some form of a suspended animation, he let his mind wander into a morbid, or even a macabre side of his personality - a side that was frightening as the only person present interrogated him with the most repulsive questions (frightening even to this author).

“Can I kill myself by not breathing?” He had always heard that a person could not hold his breath and commit suicide. So he tried it. “Inhale” he thought. “OK, don’t let it go.” and he continued this morbid attempt by not letting out the breath that he had dramatically filled his lungs with 15 seconds prior.

Mentally he counted 20, 25, 30 seconds. “Hold it, hold it, hold it” he mentally repeated, almost as an encouraging chant.

Continuing, “50, 55 seconds” he mentally cheered himself on to destruction

Time ticked away while he continued what he believed to be a selfless attempt at escaping hell. “1 minute 45 seconds he counted”, but now his lungs were starting to burn within and he started to think, “This is not going to work.” 

‘Whoosh’, he exhaled and both lungs emptied and then like a child gulping down a piece of candy, his lungs were flooded with oxygen. “Nope, that won’t work” he thought, “…I was finally right about something.”

He tried to rotate his waist and buttocks, thinking that if he was laying down his body would flip over, still no success. 

“Maybe I’m inside a coffin!” he screamed. “Maybe they have already buried me alive and I’m really going to die!”  His pulse started to race at an unbelievable rate for a human, it was as-if he had the heart of a hummingbird.

“A hummingbird’s heart can beat between 250-1,250 times a minute”, he recalled.

“Maybe I’m not a human. I’m a damn bird and this is how we think.”  His respiration rate started to increase and now he felt as if he would expel everything in his stomach – but it did not happen, instead he blacked out.


He opened his eyes to darkness - again. Thoughts quickly raced through his head as he realized nothing had changed. Fingers and toes still moved ever so slightly, legs and arms did nothing, but he could still speak and move his eyes.

“I AM IN HELL!”, he screamed to an immediate dampening of his voice.  It was as if there was no air to transmit the sound waves of his voice.

An unmeasured period of time passed and then he thought, “Air is important, what if there is not enough air in this coffin to keep me alive until they realize I'm alive?”

At this point he could not slow his breathing, and his pulse continued at a hummingbird speed. Continuing to identify and consider the options he recalled a technique from his doctorate program called self-speak. The idea is that when under stress, or when finding oneself in a situation of intense pressure many people either speak out loud as an encouraging person, or a mental relation is formed. It is believed that speaking to oneself in a positive manner, confuses or tricks the subconscious into acting as an encourager and results in a person responding in a more positive manner.  

Now, he had already engaged in self-conversation. Almost all of the instances exercised were self-conversation, but he had only been talking negatively. To stop his heart from exploding, and to stop from losing his mind he needed something more, positive self-talk.

Immediately he started to think of good, personal times; his wife, kids, and how he had always sought adventure. This was no different. He recalled how his educational experience had been nothing but fun and preparation for challenges, like his current assignment. Then he started to repeat within his mind, “I am OK, I am OK, I am OK.”

As this exercise continued his pulse and respiration both started to drop. While the two physiological indices slowed, his mind wavered between consciousness and sleep. He flashed back to earlier days when he was a young boy growing-up on a farm, where his parents raised horses. While drifting between light and darkness he recalled his first exposure to engineering and the study of design.

With his mind beginning to speed through thoughts and life experiences, similar to daydreams and at what seemed to be equal to the speed of light, he viewed himself on a first date with his wife Abaigael. There she was smiling and laughing, the two of them were running across a field and up a hill. Two dogs were running along side the couple barking, while butterflies encircled the entire picture. It was as-if he was asleep.


His thoughts had stopped, similar to a DVD being put on pause. Something caused him to look away in his mind’s-eye. Yet he was drawn back to Abaigael and the image that was in front of him.

A light shimmered across the picturesque scene; the warmth of this surrounding was intense within his mind. Abaigael was beautiful, and it was a sublime memory of things that had……………

He opened his eyes and thought, “This is not real. Abby and I have never been in a place like that and we never had dogs.”

At that moment he noticed a light to the left of his visual periphery. Holding his breath, like a child playing hide-and-seek, his raised eyelids attempted to look as far to the left as possible (since he could not move his arms, legs, or head). Only the light could be seen, and the light was growing more intense as seconds ran together to equal minutes. He tried to continue a slow, deep breathing technique so as to keep the 2 indices slowed, but the emotion of anticipation could not be controlled.

He thought, “Is this the end? Is this the light at the end of the tunnel so many people refer to when they have reported near-death experiences? Maybe I’m having a heart attack, or suffering from a brain aneurysm.”

Menacingly the light continued to become brighter, but there was nothing he could do. He stood there, or maybe he was lying down (he could not be sure), a victim to whatever fate had in-store.

“Maybe I am not here, maybe I am really dead and this is just some sort of weird trip to the end.”

A breath later, it seemed the United States space shuttle Discovery drifted into view. Several astronauts who were peering out a hatch drifted into his view, waving and jumping up-and-down. In a few moments 2 astronauts exited the shuttle bay and floated freely toward him. Once reached, moving him to the shuttle was an effortless maneuver.

According to the crew’s extravehicular debriefing documentation the astronaut had been outside the shuttle working on the base of a new arm extension when he twisted a torque device to secure two pins and collided with an arm tether. When this happened his computerized Soviet Orlan-MK spacesuit became blocked, or as noted in the shuttle documents, “The flexible elbow-protection material became imbedded in the tether. When the team member pulled his arm away his cranial protection impacted with the side of the orbiter, rendering him unconscious. At the same time the astronaut spun slowly out-of-control away, from the space ship.”

The same records revealed that the darkness reported by the astronaut was the result of his being physically turned away from the shuttle, the Earth and the sun. His line-of-sight prevented a view of the moon and sun, so basically he was gazing into space when his eyes were open. The collision with the tether caused the communication device within his suit to malfunction which of course prevented his hearing the other space travelers who were indeed responding to his calls for help.     

The entire event, from collision to rescue lasted 27 minutes.

** Author Insight **

Several things contributed to my creation of this blog installment.

#1. Two weeks ago I read a newspaper article about a young man drowning in a local lake, which in turn caused me to recall something I’ve considered many times; How alone does a person feel during the period when the inevitable is realized and before they pass-away? How alone does a person feel before they die in any type situation?  Of course none of us can stop another’s death, but I feel connected in this manner with any death I learn has taken place.

#2. Many people in their day-to-day life feel alone, even when surrounded by people. Help is not even a space shuttle away, yet they can’t see it? Or maybe they know it but help doesn’t seem to be within reach.

My self-imposed assignment for this blog post was to reach-in myself and empathetically touch the emotion of what happens behind the uncertainty of alone. I did experience emotions that do not take place on a regular day; I hope that this post caused you to think about it too. 

Let me know what you think. If anyone has issues with being alone and you'd like to discuss it, tweet me (send a direct message to _andybryant).  

Have a nice evening.

Monday, August 2, 2010


The helter-skelter look on his face communicated what was in his head, “Oh-no”, and looking through a canvas bag it was obvious that what was being sought was truly missing. Maybe he left it out of the bag when he ran through the office door, or it had fallen out – either case meant only one thing, bad news.

Obviously it had to be found, and he knew the countdown had started - there was only 5 minutes left on the clock. The pressure was on and the continued look of concern spelled fear that maybe his life or at least his career would end soon.

He glanced over the immediate area and took in a titillating aroma of leather, there was a tinge of suntan lotion and it brought back memories of a better time. Pausing, he inhaled a deep gulp of oxygen and the sweet aroma that accompanied it. Then as abruptly as he consumed the aroma he exhaled.

Obviously he had no time to dwell on the good parts of life; he had to continue the search. As he tried to focus back on the task at-hand it was obvious that he had noticed the steam rising from the surfaces around him and the epidural layer of his skin glimmered in the heat. He rubbed the sweat from the skin on his arms and neck.

Then frantically he started to move his arms around, shifting items from one side to the other and t was apparent that the words “Hurry, hurry” were racing through his mind. Everyone knows that as you get more frantic and body temperatures rise - mental capacity reduces, or at least the ability to concentrate and find something is effected.

It was reminiscent of a person looking for a lost child. The ability to focus and think becomes cloudy while rushing against time. Once a child is feared missing and before being found a person’s ability to concentrate is practically nil, the young man’s body movement and facial expression depicted him in a similar same state-of-mind. Appearing frantic, yet gazing around the area he started tossing things left-and-right.

“Where could it be?” now seemed to be the expression on his face.

First he tossed a water bottle, then a couple of paper napkins; a paper cup and then some plastic straws. The last thing to be discovered and pulled out was a 2-week old blueberry muffin that should have been breakfast one day, but now was trash. The stench continued to increase in intensity and obviously it wasn’t the muffin generating the immense stench

He continued the search.

Taking another gulp of fresh oxygen he got a whisk of a different odor. Sniffing and sniffing. He summarized that it was not a putrid odor of decay, it was a just a stench of bad. He continued to look around his own person and realized the cause – he was the new odor. His almost sizzling skin was perspiring like an athlete playing soccer, or rugby.

A smile temporarily displayed on his face as he sniffed down toward his armpits and then held his breath. He gazed at his watch, frantically exhaled and threw the remaining trash out of his hands toward the ground, as if to say, “Time is up”, or maybe it was more of a - “I give up.”

At that moment one of the items, maybe it was the water bottle, hit the locking lever on the glove box which resulted in the door immediately flinging open - and out popped a film canister. The look on the photographers face said, “Yes”. He snatched up the container; opened it to ensure camera film was inside, jumped out of the vehicle and raced into the building for what most likely was a photo-shoot, or maybe a deadline for turning in film from a completed photo shoot.

Life would go on.

Several thoughts for this post came from a Twitter conversation I had with a young man in Brasil a few days ago. We discussed his photos, the hot temperatures and I had a chance to view some of his photos. During our tweeting I decided to write about a photographer looking for a canister of film in the heat of an automobile. I often lose things and they usually turn-up somewhere in my vehicle. In today’s post I assigned myself an exercise of exploring several of the human senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing while drawing a verbal picture of an emotional photographer for you, my reader. Did you feel the warmth of the auto? Could you sense the exhilaration of him not finding the film? Could you feel the scared or confused sensations I described? Like I mentioned, emotion and sensing were my goal; let me know if I did my job.