Saturday, November 25, 2006

Looking for a Lemur

I realize that a lot of my posts are about the office, but the branch manager is becoming more Steve Corell-like every day.

Yesterday, he comes out and asks the the team manager, "Dave, do you know where I could buy a lemur?"

This was not a joke. He seriously wanted to buy a lemur. A live lemur. This wasn't some weird Thanksgiving dinner dish.

"No, but Gil might know," Dave replied.

"Gil, where can I buy a lemur around here?"

I'm satisfied with my reputation in the office as being the "go to" guy in the office. If you have a quesiton, Joko probably knows the answer, but where to get a lemur, much less whether or not its ethical to even own a lemur, even I can't answer.

I didn't know and I responded as such. "No where around here, that's for sure." I was fairly certain that nowhere in the Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill area could someone walk in and buy a live lemur. "E-Bay?" I suggested.

15 mintues later, the boss walks out from his office dejected. He actually found a source online to buy a lemur, spoke with one of the lemur salesmen, and discovered that California laws forbid lemur ownership in the state.

I'm sure the lemurs are very happy about that.

If you have to live in one of those more exotic pet friendly states, just for your information, a lemur will cost you $5000.

This post brought to you by the Madagascar Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Halloween Story

Okay, so it's a week late, but I told someone I was gonna record this ghost story anecdote, so here it is.

In the Summer of 1986, I traveled deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains, up into Loma Prieta, with a group of friends. We were all teenagers, and we spent the day down at the lake, drinking beers and watching the empties slowly disappear over the dam.

By nightfall, we were out of beer, no one had any weed, nor were any hallucinogens floating around that night Dave's parents were out of town. We were desperate for some kind of entertainment. I don't know whose suggestion it was, but somehow, a Ouija board broke out.

I was not brought up to believe in God, but ghosts? Sure! Why not? My folks lived in a haunted apartment before I was born. Books on witchcraft could be found in the family library (maybe that was just a 70's thing), Before adolescence, I was really really into D&D. I thought these things could work.

Some of the people in the room didn't believe, and so for the first hour or so, the needle barely moved. Nothing supernatural was happening. Those guys left, and Corey, Kevin, Dave and I started getting some pretty weird and fluid movement of the pointer.

It just flew accross the board. Something was there. Being teenage thrillseekers, we wanted to see this spirit that was controlling our hands. We asked it to point to where it was in the room. The pointer moved to flame of the single candle that lit the room. I lit a lighter on the opposite side of the board from the candle was and then asked again...

point to where you are now

The rotation of the pointer could not have been accomplished by a single set of fingers very lightly pressed upon the plastic, so if you think one of us was moving it, you're wrong. I know I certainly wasn't moving it. As you might have guessed, the spirit had pointed directly at the lighter. I moved the lighter around in an arc. The pointer followed precisely. Next question.

Do you want to show yourself?


then show yourself!

Nothing happened. We huddled, holding our knees up to our chins as we studied the flickering shadows high up in the corners of the room. We WANTED to see something.

Then I got an idea. What if one of us emptied our minds of thought, just opened ourselves up, and let the spirit show itself through one of us. I told my friends this idea. We put our fingers on the stylus.

Spirit, if....


I didn't even get to finish asking the question. The thing shot over immediately to the YES answer. Of course, my friends all looked at me. It was my idea, I should be the medium.

So I got up, sat in a straightback chair on one side of the room, told the spirit I was going to relax, and to please show itself through me. I'd learned a very simple meditation technique a year or so before that seemed to fit what I was trying to do. most of us can never really completely turn off the mental chatter that is our everyday consciousness. Instead, what I would do is space out the




between the words of my thoughts. Essentially thinking of nothing during those in-between moments. About 10 seconds into sitting there in mental blankness, I began to feel muscle spasms in my face. More intense than any twitch, my muscles were quivering. That was all I felt. No presence. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The other guys in the room were seeing something quite out of the ordinary. My entire face began to glow a bizarre green, my face became that of a hideously old man, obviously in extreme pain. They even saw my hair become slicked back.

What I heard was this: "Wha? Oh? Holy SHi!!WHOAH!!! Oh MY GOD!! JOKO!!! GET OUT OF THE CHAIR!!!" I heard a mad rush of feet as the guys stumbled and charged out of the room. On the way out one of them, I think it was Corey, grabbed my arm and pulled me from the chair.

Words cannot convey the feeling that entered me when I hit the ground. It's indescribable and it is one I hope to never feel again. Perhaps one word does suffice in desribing it: DEATH. Death passed through me. Intensely cold, mind gripping. I went into a seizure, spasming all over the carpet. For a full 2 or 3 minutes, I could not utter a single word.

Needless to say, the Ouija board got put away after that.

Other people I've told this story to have told me it was a stupid and dangerous thing my friends and I did that summer evening. I could have opened myself up to something that would not want to leave. For a couple years after the incident, I sometimes worried if the spirit might just show up. I hope I am in touch with my inner spirit enought that I am not at risk for possession, but to this day, I'm thankful for getting pulled from that chair.