All posts by Rob's Surf Report

Rob lives near the geographical center of the North American continent with his wife, daughters, and (unfortunately) two cats. Most days he's a member of the law enforcement community, and tries to keep himself sane by making himself both stronger and more creative. His big plan is to find a way back to the coast and to stay there for good so he surf the livelong day.

Sumptuous Spring

Sucker punches fade;
These thawing skeletal shards,
the harbingers of rebirth

So . . . last night’s post took me forever to write — like eight hours or so, with the constant diversions of doing my job while sitting in the building’s control center. But the real issue wasn’t working around work, but trying to figure out WordPress’ interface. You see, I haven’t been posting regularly for several years, and so I find myself paying the price of having fallen behind. The interface changed. In a way, it was totally alien from how I was doing it before, and so there is a learning curve there.

Fortunately, I’m starting to figure this thing out, and it looks like I might actually have a few more toys to play with. Building a post, it’s now like stacking Legos, and how much better is that than hacking together html, copying, pasting, etc? It seems like there’s even potential here for site layout design.

I’ll keep digging on that.

But anyway . . .

Believe it or not, Spring is right around the corner. Here in North Dakota, where we have a reputation for cold weather, proper winter didn’t really set in until several weeks ago, and then a couple weeks ago the temps just plummeted. An unseasonably mild winter became car-killing weather, as though Mother Nature jumped, realizing that February had crept up on her and cranked it all the way down to -11.

And the irony of it is, even if we’ve really only had a month or so of bitterest cold, it’s still too long for my taste. I hate cold weather. I’m still not lucky enough to have a home without drafts or cold spots, the window panes have thick layers of frost on them, and even keeping the thermostat at 68 does little to ward off the cold that likes to sink its teeth deep into my flesh.

But I think there’s a sumptuous spring right around the corner. Literally and figuratively, we’re in a position to rebound, to move forward and make things better. Four years of bald-faced political chicanery. Insurrection at the Capitol. No real closure. Winter storms, power outages, water shortages . . . staggering losses. Human losses. Have we had enough yet?

Some people fight change, while others fight for a better tomorrow. It would be nice if it felt like there were more of the latter than the former.

Let’s bounce back. We can make tomorrow even better.

Tanka Tonight

Dreaming astride an abyss
then sailing away
anteceded sudden loss —
as though stars fade out
while slumber eludes my grasp

Wisdom is a funny kind of thing. It feels like one of those things that, it would seem, the more of it one has, the less of anything else they have. In spite of this, some people relentlessly seek it out and perhaps for the same reason some people avoid it like it’s a disease.

Not to be confused with common sense, which surely works the other way around, wisdom comprises a set of indissoluble truths that can only be truly gleaned through honest observation of, and interaction with, the Universe. Like Pokemon, some believe you gotta catch ’em all, and yet it seems like each one is as wriggly and slippery as an eel. Each truth is hard to hold, harder to keep, and one can’t possibly internalize the entire set in a single lifetime.

Maybe it’s an undesirable side-effect of middle age, but it feels like the more time wears on, the less wisdom is in evidence in the way affairs are carried out in the world; common sense, too, seems to be falling by the wayside. The news is full of examples of this seeming decay.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we are all plunging into that infinite abyss I saw in my dream — each of us just one in a crush of lemmings driving recklessly toward the edge precipice.

"Dark" by Revise_D is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Dark” by Revise_D is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Is that too negative? I don’t know . . . I can’t pretend to have an infinite well of optimism. Perhaps there’s little wisdom in saving my writing for just the sunny days. There are other days — darker days — and those need to be aired out just as much, if not more.


I like to beat the bag like it owes me money. Sometimes it feels savage, sometimes it feels like more effort than it’s worth. And while many might think there’s catharsis in such activity, I feel like doing it for that reason alone is dangerous . . . because even when you do it for the physical aspect, when it gets you dialed into a meditative state, makes you sweat, makes you want to win at everything — it still trains the brain to know what it’s like to punch something. And sometimes when you’re dealing with a particularly difficult person, part of you is curious about what that feels like.

Of course, for me that’s very rare. I tend to be cool, and when things heat up I’m more likely to walk away than lash out, because the skin of my temperament is so thick its lineaments do little to betray the scars of my youth; the rifts and cracks long left behind now barely show, to the point where I sometimes question their continued existence. At this point, they’re fading quickly into the past. That’s where they belong.

There are days and then there are days — those days when you happen to find the one person who is going to test your patience. My thinking is, it’s best to have a deep, deep well of patience if you hit a bag on the regular.

No issues here, and no regrets. My well is so deep.

Not just another Tanka Tuesday

Have you ever found yourself clearing out a craft space that has long sat unusued, only to discover a finished product that never saw the light of day?

I said the other day I’d be working my way through the handful of drafts in my draft folder. Here’s one that I found today, and it was fully written. Here it is, with zero changes. Originally written on December 20, 2016, this post dates from about a year after the lights started going out on my original spate of blogging . . . about three years solid, and five years since post one (seriously, I just scrolled through all of it; Holy Hannah Banana, I have a ton of material!) Today this blog is nearly eleven years old and I have some cobwebs to clean out, but as it turns out, I also have something left over to offer — a little look into the mood that pulled me off the page for so long . . . .

room by room
turning off the lights
unsure as to why
I get the impression
it’s time to withdraw

I’m pretty sure I’ve been islanding. I’m almost certain that it’s not entirely my fault — I blame some of it on climate change. Things aren’t the way they used to be, and I can’t tell whether that’s because I’m always either resisting or having trouble keeping up, or whether it’s simply because I am no longer a kid, and I get that now. 

Every year the ocean levels are rising, and the shores of my island become smaller. I’m being forced inward. 

Or maybe it’s supposed to be like this. As the drum beats time marches on, and as we disconnect from the Matrix of old social paradigms the tubes and wires connecting us to them pop off, leaving us cold and alone in our very own pod, surrounded by a sea of machines and trite little tchotchkes, a blip of life in a Universe drowned in invisible data.

But I can’t believe that; it’s fatalistic. It’s dark, I know — and I promise that it won’t always be this way. But sometimes to find treasure you have to be willing to dig through a mountain of trash, decaying remnants of old life, mouldering bones and offal. It’s a dirty job for sure, but someone ought to do it. 

I’ve had the good fortune to be a WordPress blogger for years, even in spite of long absences, and this place has helped shape who I am. Writing gives us an outlet and a place to put our thoughts and ideas in order. To put ourselves in order. And I must write more, or risk losing myself in the shuffle. And I guess that means getting some of this stuff off of my chest and working it out. 

I find it ironic that I use this space to talk about how I see technology as an increasingly efficient disabler of the natural social construct, leaving unfulfilled more and more the visceral call to community that built the world that made WordPress possible. 

Maybe it’s evolution, or maybe someday it will turn out that my job was to document the fall of humanity. If so, then I might be woefully behind as outsiders have already set up shop within our borders. Or maybe I’m just looking for something other than myself to blame. 

This is me, digging. 

I know the pieces fit . . .

I know it’s hard to believe, but my ideas don’t just spring out of thin air. In the past, I’ve relied upon writing prompts to help spark the old whirlygig in my head when I had nothing else going, and more often than not it helped bring out some of my better writing.

For some reason, that river seems to have dried out. Exhaustive searches have struggled to turn up a current source of daily writing prompts. It took me a little more digging to discover that I used to go to a blog called the Daily Post, and headed over there only to find myself a Lone Wanderer, looking at a monolith of the past . . . something that I failed to consider might have an end, but is now sitting unused, flecked with rust in the spots where the paint has chipped off. But then in my inspections, I came upon a whole new realization.

I don’t want to generalize my own habits, but maybe I’m not the only one that does this: sometimes you get used to skimming, and you forget to really look at the little things. Over the past few years, falling out of the writing habit . . . all of my best work has been done at the behest of some assignment for school; a card in need of some pithy, heartfelt message; an incident report that I was lucky enough to have to write for work . . . just enough to wet my whistle, but hardly enough to satisfy. You know.

In the rush and bustle and Cram of life, I had gotten so used to looking at the forest I forgot there were trees. Shrubs. Blades of grass. Individual grains of . . . soil? And throughout and underneath all of that, a massive mycological network that both feeds and feeds on all of that. All of a sudden, I realized this whole time I was looking at something truly valuable and not even seeing it.

I’m snapping out of that feckless state! It’s tough work. The WordPress interface has changed completely and I’m hacking my way through the process, trying to come up with new shortcuts to do the things I want to do. But I’m now saying goodbye to leaning on writing prompts when I need inspiration, and hello to looking for it on a more granular level.

I find that, at least for me, writing is a lot like Tetris. All the little pieces that fall . . . it feels like the game is sending you what you need. What really matters, then, is what you do with them. The pieces fall, and you place them, you wait for the right piece that will give you the space you need, and you keep on kicking those lines out. You try not to choke and start spamming the hard drop. But the goal isn’t really to win, per se — it’s to get better. To improve, to find new ways to do the same things over and over.

To get creative.

Life is a lot like that too. Things we do, they can feel old after a while. But the world throws so much at us, we can sometimes get so used to dodging that we fail to see the inspiration whizzing past our ears. We avoid change, to our detriment. 2021 is a new year, this much is true today. But every day is a new day. New things are coming down the pipe all the time.

So it’s time to pay attention. Keep your head up. Strengthen your communication.

It’s always “go” time.

Haikuna matata

phoenixes, in fact;
we all rise from the ashes
left by mid-night fires

I don’t know how I managed to start a new year, posting on the first day. Maybe it’s a fluke.

I thought many times about coming back to blogging on the regular this past year. I felt like I had some things to say, but lately it’s felt like everyone’s got something to say and there’s too much noise for my words to matter; it felt like everything worth saying became something that was grossly overused. In a year that felt too political, too dramatic, too over-the-top from one day to the next, it was hard to process much more than the day-to-day changes as we constantly adjusted to the milieu.

But you know what? I miss writing. I’ve been back in school for like two years now, and if there’s one thing I miss, it’s writing for fun. Don’t get me wrong — school is school! But when I write for school, I still try to make it fun. So sorry to say, I’m not going to be that guy — that “how about that COVID guy”, the “how about that terrible politician” guy.

Noise, noise, noise!

I’d rather talk about anything else.

So? . . . Maybe this is the year I rise again. Perhaps I will find that 20 minutes, here and there, for getting back in the habit. Perhaps we will all find ourselves coming back again, shaking off the dust, getting back in the groove and finding that for all the noise and inconvenience we have endured, life is still an adventure — one worth exploring.

Maybe I’ll kickstart it by finishing the handful of drafts I have in my draft folder.

Sink or swim — here’s looking forward to kicking 2021 in the pants.

Once upon a haiku . . .

Forgotten Days,
ways to do things that
were once light

I just have a few minutes to write before I have to go to work. It’s funny how life gets away from me, how I start to miss things like writing. I once hoped I would make some sort of a living from my writing, but that never came to fruition, and I’m okay with that; after all, life is pretty good.

Since my last post — over two years ago — I quit my job at the Bobcat Plant. Out of sheer frustration with the place, with five years of unfulfilled promises and the runaround and the lost opportunities to enjoy life, I decided it was time to find a new path, and put in my notice there. After a short break I got a holdover job at the local Menards, and now I have embarked on this new career as a Correctional Officer. Now I have the opportunity to serve my community every time I go to work.

Every time I go to work I choose to go to jail, and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of my energies and skills, because that challenge is one that I am willing to accept, unwilling to postpone, and one which I intend to win.

I’ve forgotten how to do this. I’ve forgotten how to put in the header image, how to insert the images in the text, and I’m pretty sure if I pick this back up I’m going to have to figure out how to get my domain name back. But I’m still out there fighting the good fight, fitter and more adventurous than ever. Just a few weeks ago my family and I went to the top of Pike’s Peak, and in the same day we were exploring caves deep underground. This is life, and we’re living it.

I hope you are too. Whatever your fight, I hope you’re fighting. Whatever your life, I hope you’re living. It should be an adventure, even through the everyday.

Do these things not because they are easy, but because you mean to win.

Case in point: the forgotten draft

I used to grope for blog post ideas. This was part of my problem, I think. I’d go over to the Daily Post and see what they had there. I’d see if I could mix the different prompts to generate something to write about. But I don’t need an idea, really 

I just need a place to start. Writing is a conversation, albeit delayed somewhat between its transmission and reception. It creates a de facto myth to be interpreted and assimilated by the reader, and so in a way it is fact-checked more completely against their own treasury of knowledge and beliefs. 

So today I am reading Myth and Meaning by Claude Lévi-Strauss, and I’ve already found something of interest. He writes: “I forget what I have written practically as soon as it is finished. . . . I don’t have the feeling that I write my books. I have the feeling that my books get written through me and that once they have got across me I feel empty and nothing is left.”

Identifying with this statement can explain the sudden block that causes a writer to leave the blog a howling lost city for so long. Even the most prolific bloggers can have spurts, long or short, of inspired activity only to peter out and move on to less confounded pursuits. 


This is what I’m talking about. I wrote the above text over a month ago, and left it to while away the days in the black abyss of my draft folder. It might have stood well enough on its own, but it felt unfinished to me and I haven’t had the time to get back to it. Less confounded pursuits, there were. 

We all have things we have to do in life. We gotta work. We gotta feed our babies. We ought to mow the lawn and prune the hedges. But in between watching episodes of The Walking Dead while doing sets of pullups I am best by the guilt of not working on creative pursuits, because life says that in order to look like Superman I need to be on a steady diet of pullups, push-ups, prisoner squats, lunges, split squats and burpees. Burpees!

Talk about harsh. Whereas starting pullups leaves you wishing you could do a pullup, starting burpees and squats leaves you wishing you hadn’t. 

Take the time to find your inner creator when you can, and don’t worry about the demands of life. Do them if you must, but don’t sweat them. Just make sure you’re not filling a folder with unfinished work. 

Today’s thoughts

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be alright again. Or if I ever was. I move in waves, quite like the ocean, between acceptance of and rebellion against the status quo and its attendant duality of outrageous fortune vs. a sea of troubles.

It’s a bit of a bind, whether to blithely accept the good or to keep fighting the things that are wrong with my world.

Mme. Ross and I have become disillusioned with life on the great plains. The ocean calls us through its connection to our blood. Living in a red state is an exercise in patience for the opinions of those who otherwise seem good. And perhaps there is more for us out there than there is here, in the comfort of a well-built life of wage slavery.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Isn’t that what they say? No guts, no glory.

With this life comes many comforts, such as the ability to indulge in pastimes – almost lavishly so. I feel like Thomas Jefferson in my ability to do and create, to be active and somehow strangely prolific in what little spare time I have . . . Strange, because it seems I have so much to do and so little time, no thanks to my work schedule. Yet like old Tom I am marvelous in my ability to curate random collections, such as homemade nails. Like Jefferson I have a taste for the quintessential, the original, the innovative.

In that Spirit I’ve made a new goal for myself comma although whether I reach that goal depends on many factors I cannot control. Within 10 years I will be a freelance illustrator.

That’s me, going back to my roots. I’d like to work for myself, out of my own digs.

Rob’s Surf Report has always been a very personal blog. A reflection of me. The rise of the tide and the long, deliberative silences. the salty attitude. The need to nurture and the instinct to lash out.

I am what I am: a stunning self portrait of the creative One. The I AM. I am the ocean and the child who walks on the water.

Those of you who are reading this because you’re still subscribed, I am so glad to have you and I hope you know I support you and see your endeavors, and I am truly inspired by them. If you’re new to this blog know that I don’t post “just because,” or to build a writing habit.

I have things to say. 

Keep posted, siblings. As long as I have this domain, you can trust that I will be back. 

Finding your inner Plasticman

Man, I wonder how quickly I can do this.

Remember when I used to steal time, when I called myself a time thief? That was 3.25 years ago, and somehow time has gotten its stuff back from me. I push my effort into all the little corners and crannies that life gives me lately. I’ve learned that resistance is futile. That reacting with anger is only a way to show the world that one doesn’t understand what their responsibilities are — and it’s a curious change to behold from this side of my face, because it’s happening to me. Instead of snapping, I can nearly feel a physical sensation as my mind stretches out to find its peace with the situation. In retrospect, it’s all small beans.

Would you believe a con-goer can ply?? (Image credit: Kevin Dooley, CC BY 2.0)

Of course, the situation could be much more extraordinary than an unexpected change of direction in one’s day. Not everyone can be asked to find their inner Plasticman.

I have long aspired to find that secret superhero within, and I suspect that there has been a conspiratorial push to bring any such people out of the woodwork of society since the dawn of the atomic age. As our world becomes more extraordinary, it feels like there is an undercurrent of longing for extraordinary people to guide us, and to show us how to shine and to have hope. It’s so sad that this is a time when the people of the world are watching this sad contest between two clowns who have no business at the top of the free world, but I would be at a loss to suggest an alternative.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d prefer to go gray at my own pace.

And the frustration continues at many angles, as we’re less than two months out from Halloween and suddenly I’m interested in building a costume from scratch, partly for the sheer love of creation and partly because I think it would be cool to have something to wear to comic store day in the Spring, or Halloweenfest (another comic store holiday,) and heaven forbid, should something like Comic Con ever come to North Dakota, saints preserve us! But it appears that the Internet has little to divulge when it comes to the secrets of Hollywood’s costumers. Mme. Ross is going to teach me to use her sewing machine this weekend, and then we will see what I can do with that.

But wearing a costume means little. Costumes come in all varieties, including pantsuits and silly blonde wigs. You can’t hide what you are so easily, can you?

I have to run now.


This week’s Daily Post challenge is to write a post about a superhero who speaks to you. Of course, I didn’t exactly follow the rules . . . scoundrel that I am.