Tripio The Novel

How I found my mind, brewed some coffee, and learned to write novels.



Ten wisdoms for a dollar

Several months ago I went to book sale. It was the last day of the 3 day event. In keeping with book sale tradition the last day is usually called bag day or box of books day. Bring a box or bag, cram it with books and pay 5 bucks for the lot. That’s me. I have hard time resisting a deal. I think I passed this on to my young adult children, most obviously to my daughter. Five summers ago, can it be that long ago?- we were in Chicago. I was doing research -can I really call it that?- on my historical fiction novel, Tripio, set in Chicago and she was taking in the big city. We found ourselves at  a book sale at Chicago Public Library on bag day.  I had a great time, as one does, searching through the tables and titles. My daughter did too, getting about two dozen titles of all shapes and sizes. I joked that we need a U-Haul instead of a taxi to get back to the hotel.

A book bags me

At the Chicago book event, I was looking for certain titles and favorite authors. This most recent bag day, I was not. Only, a book found me anyway. You see, at this event I was crawling out of the wreckage of a bad time in my life -who hasn’t had such a streak of hours, days, weeks, months? I went to this book fair to re-acquaint myself with people and the ability to go where I wanted, when I wanted.

However, I did not have a mental list of authors or books. I was in search of a book or books, but was not relying on my eyes. So my book found me -sounds strange doesn’t it? (Is this device annoying you yet?). The book in question was Essential Spirituality. It was a dollar and the book simply and obviously put itself in my hands. It turns out that it was only book I bought on this bag day. But it has provided me with enough thought, value and wisdom utility to be worth a bag of books on its own.

Over the last few months I have read from Essential Spirituality every morning. Below are some of my favorite wisdoms, from many the sources found within Essential Spirituality. I have taken the liberty to walk among them, going where I want, when I want. Have fun!

    The ten wisdoms for free


  • The mind and body are so closely linked that to change on is to change the other.
  • To understand is to forgive.        Before you attempt this on other folk, try it on yourself. I am getting there.
  • Fear thrives in darkness and ignorance.
  • A person attempting to grow beyond the usual conventional level cannot expect much support from society
  • Pleasure seeking inevitably produces suffering, both for yourself and others.       I can vouch for this one
  • We do not usually fear reality, what is actually happening, but rather our own thoughts and fantasies about what may happen.     This is why Insurance companies can afford to bombard us with ads
  • The superior person is the master of of things, the small person is their slave.  
  • Cognitive Incapacitation.    My acquaintances who tune to Fox news tell me it best watched when the mind has entered this state
  • The only true wisdom lives far from mankind.   Time for me to take a walk in the woods
  • There are as many ways to God as there are created souls.    Too beautiful for comment


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“This can’t be happening.”

It was nearly dinner time when the realization struck me. There would be no coffee available tomorrow morning.

But, indeed it was true. You see, I was visiting my family in Ohio and the house I was spending the night in was being renovated. Not in a half ass sense either. The specific room in question being the kitchen. A kitchen was not there right now.  All that remained of the old kitchen were four walls, a floor and electrical outlets. Outlets that could not be used to fire up a coffee maker the next day as the power was shut off. Luckily and conveniently, pizza was on the way for dinner.

Of course there was a Starbucks near the house.  Perhaps I had forgotten it was there. Or I had been so accustomed to seeing them everywhere these days that one no longer made an impression. A Starbucks was just part of the backdrop of an everyday life in this country. No matter. I had remembered it was nearby and would still be there in the morning. So I ate my pizza when it arrived, relaxed to some football on TV and later drifted off to sleep in the arms of a siren.

A short trip that began a long trip

Since I posses a morning chronotype, I was up by 5 the next day. As soon as I woke, I checked my phone to confirm the location and hours of that nearby Starbucks. I wrote in my journal for about 20 minutes before heading for my ritual, emotionally comforting morning coffee. I arrived a few minutes after six, and was not the first customer.  The three baristas had the coffee brewed, the music on and were ready to rock. Since I am old coffee guy from way back, I requested a Vente Italian and blueberry scone. You cannot beat the classics. I left a tip- Once a barista, always a barista- and headed for the door.

See the source image

But I stopped still right there. It had hit me. My cup and scone secured, I had let my self relax now. I was able to appreciate and recognize my surrounding again, now that I had a full coffee cup in hand. I breathed in that unique aroma of a just opened Starbucks location. In that instant I was standing in the vestibule of my Starbucks on Diversey in Chicago on a September morning in 1993.

They say that sense is the most powerful of all senses when it comes to triggering memory. A previous experience with scent memory took me back to the time when I was helping my second oldest son begin his freshman year at Purdue. He had been on campus several times over the years and even stayed in the dorms as part of a science camps. But this was different. Today he would begin living on campus. This meant being away from everything that was routine and comfortable.

As we finished up, my son was washing his hands in the dorm bathroom down the hall. I had washed mine just before him. As he took his turn, he said to himself more than to me, “The soap smells the same.” In those few words, I heard the realization in his voice that he was at Purdue now, on his own and living in this dorm. The scent memory from previous times at Purdue had activated in him the understanding that I would be driving back home without him.

Advice is cheap

Yes, I was a barista at one time. It was for four years at Starbucks in Chicago from 1990-1994. That includes a heck of a lot of mornings when I was there to open the store. I had not been back to a Starbucks at opening time until this very morning. It had about 25 years. Starbucks and I have each changed a great deal since we parted ways. Starbucks, the company, has become a world wide success in most every measurable way. If I had stayed employed there, the numbers tell me, I could be pretty well off financially now.

The scent induced memory paralysis kept me standing in the vestibule. I saw my younger self in place of one the three baristas behind the counter. I wanted to shout across the store and tell my younger self to stay in that green apron and one day you will be rich. Induced by scent memory, I had the chance to reclaim the one and only chance in my life I was ever going to have of having a lot of money to my name! I believed I had exorcised this euphorically recalled landscape of my life when I wrote Tripio. Not quite though. Or, I would not have been standing in the vestibule of one of the 25,000 Starbucks on the planet, thinking of yelling advice to my younger self.

Be where your coffee is

Like my son’s experience on college move in day, the scent memory made my years as a young man behind at Starbucks become real. I was back behind that counter tied into the green apron and perhaps checking to see if we had enough flat to-go lids.  Just then the door opened behind me and the scent memory trance was broken. Damn, I was enjoyed the trip back in time. Couldn’t this customer have picked one of the other 24,999 Starbucks? Oh well, I stepped out of his way and back into the present moment.

I had enjoyed my scent memory journey back in time. Luckily, there was a better place for all that recall and it is entitled Tripio. The urge to communicate some of my wisdom to my younger self had passed. Just as well, knowing him, he would not have listened anyway. Which is also just as well. Wisdom can’t be absorbed by the ears. It has to earned by experience, processed by the mind and paid for my one’s emotions. So, my younger self will just have to buy book and see how it ends.


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May I help who’s next?






Sure, the search engines will pester me about the title to this post. I know that they will because it is not ladled to their always open mouths to be poured in drip by drip. They want me to write for your expectations. They want me to create this blog based on what you have told them what you will read. Ah, hell no. Never fear though. Because if you have managed to find this post, it will be worth reading in spite of the self censoring web-crawlers. So, go ahead. You’ve earned it.

We humans have a heard time changing. We have spent most of our collective civilizations attempting to make things easier on ourselves. All in all, we have achieved truly amazing things over the centuries. And, I’m all for it. If not for the sweat equity of those before me I would not be able to brew the coffee I must have in the morning, fire up the laptop and in about half an hour climb into my car and drive to work.

Makes me wonder

But I wonder from time to time if things are too easy, for me at least. I think this thought and type the words fully realizing how “problematic” such a proposition can be. I am lucky enough to have a life which allows the time to think such things. Two things to say now: I’ve already paid my respects to those before me in the paragraph above. Second, it seems to me that in this day and age, it would be problematic to someone somewhere if I announced on my blog that it was time for me to clip my toenails. So, on we go.

I think what I am getting at is that in the search for ease and convenience we may be losing the ability to appreciate. We can buy anything from our phone on our buttocks and have it sent to us, still on our buttocks some time later. It literally makes me wonder if something is being lost…

(A moment or two or thoughtful contemplation is now taking place)

Time’s up! I don’t personally think “easier is better” creates a frame of mind that can sustain appreciation for said gain. It just ain’t how humans work.

Don’t let me ruin your day. Instead, I have a simple solution to apply. It will help one to appreciate the endeavor, purchase or activity to be undertaken. Here goes. The endeavor purchase or activity will be appreciated more deeply, if it costs you your attention, concentration, time and effort. One must ACTE in order to appreciate. The “e” is pronounced at the whim of the reader. I’m not forcing the issue.

 ACTE before you act

I will illustrate, clarify and enhance ACTE by using my own life as an example. My youngest son is now off to a Big Ten university to undertake his college education. He is following in the footsteps of his three older siblings, who all worked hard to graduate from college. My contribution in helping them along the way required a hell of a lot of each letter.

A – Attention- reading to them, reading to them, reading to them.

C – Concentration- mostly in the form of listening, observing and engaging.

T – Time- Spending the time with them that I had, but more importantly spending time with them that I didn’t have.

E – Effort- Spending energy in ever changing forms with, on and for them.


In my example the reward and appreciation was a long time in coming.  However, the brilliant utility inherent in ACTE can take any form. Use it at the grocery store, car wash or peep show. It will enhance or even create your appreciation of what you’ve bought experienced or created because anything too easy simply won’t, because it can’t. It’s the human condition, people.

Nothing worthwhile ever, ever, ever comes easy.  If it does, or seems to, then you maintain the option not to ACTE before you act, while pronouncing the “e” or not.



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ACTE before you act, or post





                                                        Commodity me?

This is nothing more than a hobby, a pastime, a vitally absorbing creative interest. That is what it was when I started and what I need it be, what it must be. That is all. I am free to do anything with this post, with anything I write in a longer format because the end, the goal is the process. The vitally absorbing creative interest appears out here but the true destination is the mind. Going outward to find the inward, in other wards. Words, I mean.

My mind is clear, energized and productive at 7:01 on this Sunday morning. I moved my laptop out onto my porch in order to channel the wisdom of the breeze and the trees. I am managing my mental energy now, not the clock, not what I have to do later. The morning breeze and swaying trees don’t care what’s next. That is what I am trying to capture here. Can you feel it?

The Great “We”

Is there a value for anyone else in this post but me? In a way, I hope not. Because, I am writing this for me. If writing a post keeps my mind, body and soul calm, clear and energized then I have done my share. I have done my part for the great “we”, contributed to the world of interbeing. In writing this I am working to contribute to that connecting web we all share. It is the only sustainable way to make this world a better place anyway. Will it sell books and generate clicks and comments. I hope so, if they are coming from the breeze and the trees.


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                         “O seeker, know that the path to Truth is within you” -Sufi Sheikh Badrutdin


The chase is on


I don’t get is sometimes. All this chasing the external. Chasing clicks, likes, sales, external validation. I just don’t. There isn’t anything of true lasting value out there. It distracts me more than anything else. It demotivates me, it annoys me, it takes the desire and pure fun out of it all. I simply don’t want any part of it. The real reward is found inward and is pursued and practiced in anonymity.

So why bother posting at all? I like to post. I enjoy watching my thoughts assume the shape of words, paragraphs and posts. It is fun and a good practice for a early rising person such as myself. What better way to spend the hours before the worlds gets started than to contemplate, read or write in the time when the new day is being created? Now is the time for this day will never come again. It is a time of renewal. A time to take the unlimited possibility the new day offers and add ones’ own energy.

Trying to catch something that never moves



It is not that I am being selfish or self-righteous about any of this. I just don’t see the point of chasing the external, of taking my place in line in the “consensus trance” of fleeting external validation. Simply and incorrectly stated: that don’t motivate me. I am finding that when I don’t blog, a spark is missing from my being. So I hit these keys.

I feel better now after hacking these words out than I did fifteen minutes ago. That is my motivation here. I suppose that I am being selfish here, but what do I care? It works for me.

If my internal journey, whose true worth is not measured in clicks or likes, is any real value then only I will know. Hey, I didn’t make the rules.

It really does work for me


Tomorrow night I am planning on seeing A Midsummers Night’s Dream. The production is to be out doors in a park on a mid-summers’ night and starts at 8 p.m. That may still be considered evening, not night.  I am not too worked up about it as the event is free. I am excited to Shakespeare performed live on a stage whether it is evening or night. It will be change for me since I usually start my day reading a Shakespeare sonnet.

What's Right with Art? It's free - FAD Magazine


For the past few months, I have been reading a Shakespeare sonnet nearly every morning. It makes for nice five minute mind focusing exercise to start the day.  It’s not the Shakespeare so much as the duration of the exercise that works for me. I access No Sweat Shakespeare to read the sonnet in the original. I kick my mind into gear trying to figure it out. This is the part of the routine that does my mind the most good. Next, I read the modern interpretation. At times, I get it, and other times not so much. As a reward, I watch and listen to Patrick Stewart read said sonnet, which then sends me off to the next part of my morning in good frame of mind.

And so I am more than half way finished with the 154 of these enjoyable enigmas. So I thought it would be a good time to list my favorite verse or line from them so far. I may add my own clarification for the heck of it. Here you go.

  • “The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell”
  • “Thy eyes are constant stars”
  • “And many maiden gardens, yet unset, with virtuous wish would bear you living flowers.”- I garden so I liked this one. I have no idea what it means.
  • “Like old men of less truth than tongue”-Old men, young men, young women, old women, most all of us, anyone on Twitter.
  • “Whatever star that guides my moving”
  • “I all alone beweep my outcast state.”- you and everyone else who’s ever taken a breath.
  • I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought-” see above
  • Sonnet 32 simply for the word “equipage
  • “I in thy abundance am sufficed” Many parents will relate to this line
  • “When I most wink, then do my eyes best see”- And he lived before television, phones, the internet. This is as true then as now. Your subconscious mind doesn’t want anything from you but your attention.

Well, hell. I only make it to the mid-40’s. I had a blast. Hope you did too!

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Read Me for fun again

I have been reading a lot recently. However, I was not reading for fun or relaxation. I’ve been reading page after page devoted to helping me understand my mind and the path I allowed it to take. That path led to mental, spiritual and physical delusion. It was an incredibly bad choice. However, I did learn that in order to

move on I must forgive myself. I have to use some of that grace and forgiveness I usually reserve for others and take it for myself.

It was a cooler day on my porch yesterday when I picked up a book I had started a couple months ago and read just for the fun of it. I began reading for reading’s sake again. It felt great.

Reading for fun again reminded me how much fun reading is

The book really isn’t the point here. Yes, it was a good choice as it was a fun escape and I was half way through it already. That was part of the value in picking it up again as I was remembering characters and plot twists as I went along. Clearly, this isn’t unusual in and off itself as one reads a novel. yesterday on my porch whenever I said to myself “Oh, yeah, he’s the crazy guy with the mechanical hand stalking the main character“. As a result, could feel myself connecting to the “Golden Buddha” inside myself. The one we all have in common, yet is too easily covered up.

I ended up finishing “Squeeze Me” while not having set out to finish yesterday on my porch. Yet, I was having such a grand time reading for fun again that I just kept going. The grace that I was able to give myself a little grace. I felt good enough about myself again to just enjoy the present moment.

It is fair to concede that Carl Hiaasen did not have me in his thoughts when he was writing his book about Burmese Pythons over running south Florida. In the end, he wrote a enjoyable book and it felt good to simply enjoy reading it.

A while back I read How Starbucks Saved my Life by Michael Gates Gill. In the interest of full disclosure I read it out of curiosity, as opposed to organic intellectual interest. In other words I read it to see how that memoir compared to my historical fiction novel, Tripio. I may offer a full review in a later post. But for now I will simply offer a comparison of “How” to Tripio, ingeniously using coffee as the yardstick.

How Starbucks Saved my Life = Blonde Roast

Lightly roasted coffee that’s soft, mellow and flavorful. Easy-drinking on its own and delicious with milk, sugar or flavored with vanilla, caramel or hazelnut.

Tripio = Espresso

A complimentary blend of bean of differing origins: it is intense, deeply flavored and when brewed correctly leaves a lingering sweet aftertaste.

From Barista to Boardroom: Lessons about Life and Leadership from a Career in Coffee

Starbucks books I have yet to read

I am also following up on my intention to find other books about Starbucks. I was curious to see if there were other novel length works of fiction out there with a Starbucks flavor. Ha, ha. I found the list below via Christine McHugh who is a Starbucks alum and author of the soon to be released From Barista to Boardroom. I will admit that I have yet to read any of the titles below expect the aforementioned but have pre-ordered from Barista to Boardroom after speaking with author by phone. Both Barista and How can be and probably are called memoirs and so are non-fiction as are all the books on the list below.

Coffee for Dummies by Major Cohen

Taking Responsibility: Heart mind and Soul by Jeff Hamill

It’s Not About the Coffee and The Magic Cup both by Howard Behar

Work Freely: Love your Job, Love your Life by Nancy Richardson

The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion by Tony Byers

Female Firebrands by Mikaela Kiner

Steady Work by Karen Guadet

I hope the list if useful!

The fault lies not with the mob, who demands nonsense, but with those who do not know how to produce anything else

I have picked out Don Quixote as the centerpiece for my summer reading. I have been constructing my own summer reading program for years now. My recent life has permitted time to design my front porch to accommodate a summer spent there reading to my heart’s content. In the last few years of I’ve added a mosquito net, a wheeled table, and a small circular fan for hot ass summer afternoons.

During the depths of my Midwest winter I begin to imagine myself out on my porch on a sunny Sunday afternoon with a book, my mind and me. I will chose a book to read that has been calling to me for years. A list of those books includes Moby Dick, Tristam Shandy, Huckelberry Finn, Oscar Wilde’s plays, Hamlet. This year will be Don Quixote which I have already bought and it ready and waiting for the weather to begin to warm up. But this year, something troubling has been happening. I’ve already wondered how I can post about my reading Don Quixote. And when I do, how many likes will it get? How will my SEO program react to it? How do I work Sancho Panza into my meta-description?

A trip to the library

Let me compare my front porch to a library, like the one I grew up going to on Dayton’s near north side. I went there to read books on lots of subjects. At that time in my tween years I loved books on WWII. It was exciting to go to the library. I headed straight for the history section within which lived the WWII books. Sometimes it was hard to chose among the titles. But part of the fun was choosing among the books, and then picking a couple you took an interest in at that moment. There was an element of suspense in those days in doing so without a phone in your hand providing as much information on the book as you could find.

I had to read the cover, back cover blurbs and maybe the table of contents. I had to then trust my instinct, obey my intellectual curiosity, and chose to read the book based on something inside me.

The icing on the cake was that if you had time you were able to read at least some of it then and there, before you had to head home. Once home you could read that whole book that you did not know existed just an hour or two beforehand. By reading it you could learn, discover and grow. As a preteen, I felt a rush, a buzz on the walk home holding the new book, this new world under my arm. That feeling was one of both anticipation and excitement with a dash of something undefinable. It was perhaps the sense, the understanding that I growing my mind and furthering my understanding of the world I lived in.

My old library

Keep your mind shut. No one wants to hear it

But what if I went to my library looking for something I knew was already there? A book or books that someone had told me to go find for some other purpose beside genuinely wanting to read it? Another reason besides satisfying honest intellectual curiosity? You know, that energy that can’t be defined by formula, measured by a scale or held in your hand? That thing, that mental force that got us out of the caves one fine spring day and on the way to indoor plumbing? What if you put other books aside and read a different one because a SEO program told you it was what someone else wanted you to read? Expected you to read, so that you could post about it to get clicks, likes and comments?

And this is what is scaring me about myself. More and more often I have been finding myself basing my choice of what I read and if I can post about it, or how I can post about it.

When reading was for it’s own sake

Give them what they want, to hell with your your own intellectual curiosity. SEO it steering your content towards clicks. Where does the content orginate? My mind. Who is in charge of my mind and all of it’s possible thoughts? Me. Or, it used to be.

It may be me over-reacting a bit, but I want to roam all the stacks in my library again. SEO and Google can piss off. I want to read so I can continue to learn for it’s own sake. I thought that was supposed to be the great thing about the internet, it was supposed to give us unlimited access to the world, not contain and control that access bit by bit. Like I said, I decided last year that it was time to read Don Quixote. I will honor that intention when it finally warms up around here. The book has been calling to me the same way all the books on the summer read lists have: In an undefinable way which I’ll call it the law of intellectual attraction. I am going to read Don Quixote because I want to.

All the said, the point underlying all this is that I like to write fiction. And recently, I have found writing about writing fiction in this blog to be too time consuming and not all that much fun. I have posted weekly for about two and a half years, which is quite commendable considering most blogs die after just a few months. So, I’m going to post less often for the time being. I’m going to ignore as much as I can SEO, SERP and web crawlers. I’m going to read and write and post for the fun of it!

So there. Is this what they call “tilting at windmills?‘ If so, I’m about to find out.


P.S- I’ll let you know if it was.

I think of my journals, my sketchbooks of the mind, as both landing spots and launching pads for thoughts. The pages are book marks for storing mental energy. These bits of mental energy have been stored on my journal pages for a bit now. They landed from my mind and are ready to be launched elsewhere. I hope they serve you well.

Brief history of rockets – timeline — Science Learning Hub
A leave in leaving one of my journals

The mind is only one click away from your purse, wallet or credit card

Mistakes are self created learning opportunities

You can only really see the big picture when it is still small

Prepare for the long haul but take a few swings at the long ball

There are a lot of people doing a lot of jobs a lot worse than mine

Talent, if there is such a thing, is hard work photoshopped

As a writer, when you are writing, you must not be the one telling the story

I spent yesterday making tomorrow a good day

It is good to do what you can, but even better to do what you can’t

You can’t go through each day looking for sharpened pencil

Before you spout it, doubt it

If there are only two sides to your story, don’t bother telling it

If one of us is, then we all are, because we all are one

They say journals are for the one writing them, but…