Analog or Digital

I am really sorry that my dog Tank is dead.  I really do miss him



I watched it happen.  It happened in my lifetime.  It is so commonplace now.  It was a conversion experience.  It is a conversion experience.

One day all the photo film in the store disappeared.

One day are the vinyl 45rpm records in the jukeboxes around the world were missing.

The Encyclopedia changed its name to Wikipedia.

What is a newspaper?

One day all the land line phones in my house disappeared.

For all intent and purposes, these things are gone.

What’s next?  Cars without drivers?  Really?

This is not a lament about the good old days.  It is a realization that in my lifetime I have seen, we have seen, some serious “deaths” to thing that were once just so common.

After college, in the mid-1970s, I worked in a radio station.  Reel to reel tape machines, Carts (cartridge tapes), 2 turntables and thousands of LP Vinyl albums.  I was an on air personality and produced radio shows and feature pieces.  Working with tape, a splicing block, and a razor blade and splicing tape.  It was such fun, and visceral.  I could feel the words and music.  Listening through headphones to build and edit a “perfect” interview.  Cueing up the music to hit a seemless musical sequay from one composition to the next.  I did not even know that I was working in an analog format.  I was just working and creating.

I am not sure when I became aware of how the digital age began in my life.  Nor when I started to experience digital  It had to be in the 80s.  Was it when I graduated from the cellular bag phone to my first Motorola Razr.  Was it when my job converted our order entry systems from a MSI transmission system to my first Toshiba laptop with a 128k processor.  I really don’t know, or more accurately I don’t remember.  Whenever it was, I remember I did not understand it.  It made absolutely no sense to me that I was communicating with a binary system of only 2 digits.  How can a “0” and a “1” do all of that work?

I still don’t understand it.  I don’t understand how a 1 and 0 can make a picture or be a song, but I do believe it.

adjective: digital
  1. 1.
    (of signals or data) expressed as series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization.
    • relating to, using, or storing data or information in the form of digital signals.
      “digital TV”
    • involving or relating to the use of computer technology.
      “the digital revolution”

I do however understand analog.

At least I think I do.  I understand the touch experience and physical quantities.


1:of, relating to, or being a mechanism in which data is represented by continuously variable physical quantities.
Did I mention my dog of 14 years, Tank Fulton, died last month?  Did I mention I miss him?
His absence is palpable.  He was a cornucopia of touches and smells.  He was soft, and warm, and fit perfectly by my side when we slept.  And I miss him.
I do believe that Tank is in a better place,  I know that Tank is without pain, and can run free.  I even believe I will see him again.   Whether you believe it or not, well that is your issue.
But I still miss him.  I miss him at night when he would snuggle next to me.  I have replacement units.  But I don’t have Tank Fulton.
You see.
Tank was analog.
And now he is dead and gone.
Grief is not just a theater of the mind.
Every night, grief is analog.


It’s been about 4 weeks. 4 weeks since he died. 4 weeks since my life changed. I tried to prepare for it. I’d already gotten replacement units. I actually was prepared for it. I was prepared for Tank to die. After all dogs die. Everything dies. But this is not about everything.  It probably isn’t even about Tank… It is probably about me.tanksleep

I started sleeping on, by, around, and next to Tank around 2004.  He wasn’t even my dog yet… He was soft, and smelled like a hound, and funny and comfortable and caring.  He was not a therapy dog, but he would become my therapy dog.

What I have learned?

I don’t mean to be self depricating…. but I truly am a mess.  I have been a fairly miserable partner in most of my relationships.  I start strong, but finish flat.  Nearly every meaningful “in love” with a woman type relationship has ended poorly.  I have some long time friendships and am grateful for them.  I did not get married until I was 54.  I was a widower by age 59.  My second marriage lasted only 10 months.  I really thought when I was growing up that I would make a spectacular partner.  That was not, and is not the case.

I have spent the last decade, since Michelle’s death, researching and revisiting old relationships.  I have been motivated to ask for forgiveness.  Some of the relationships are from the 60’s.  Half a century of knowing I needed to apologize for being an ass. Almost no one who reads this will understand.  Well maybe there will be a few accidental visitors.  I know who you are.  I think I have found all of you.  All but Katy.       I so wish I could find you.  By the way, marriage number 2 was to a woman who was among the long ago relationships which was rekindled on Facebook.  I was certain it would be a storybook ending.  All it had was an ending.

So why all these relationship ramblings?

My life is filled with regrets.  I don’t believe people that say they have a life with no regrets.  That makes no sense to me.  How can a person not regret hurting someone, or disappointing a partner, or betraying a confidant?  Seriously, NO Regrets.  Then I don’t believe you.  I am thankful for the path my life has taken.  I have learned from my bad decisions… at least from some of them.  I have a better life because I have had regrets.  I don’t live in regret, I live in victory over the bad decisions.  But a bad decision…. is still a bad decision.  I have grown….but I regret that I hurt someone else on my blessed journey. A journey in which things “fit into a pattern for good.”  But not all things are good.

What is the purpose?

For me, there is purpose in the midst of this journey.   Well I was raised in the Presbyterian Church, and for all their shortcomings….. and mine.  I learned this in my middle school years at Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Mo.  Thank you Rev. Ted Nissen.   The first question in the Shorter Westminster Catachism.  Most of you will not know this question.  But if you Google “what is the chief end of man?”  You will learn what I “know.”  This line is from Wikipedia…. “The most famous of the questions (known to a great many Presbyterian children) is the first: Q. What is the chief end of man? A.Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

And through this sieve is poured the results of my decisions.  If I understand who God is then this is a glorious time in my life.  Every day is glorious.  At least when I recognize my purpose.

What does it have to do with me now?

Well my today is a sum total of my decisions yesterday.  Life experience is a mathematical equation of sorts.  Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.  A series of events that create form and substance.    Very rarely is my string of life events just a march in forward progress.  The graph of life is a reality.  The ups, the downs, “the two steps forward and……….!”  See you could finish that phrase without me.  Because your life is a graph also.  You also have taken “one step back.”

What does this have to do with my dog Tank?


Tank was a forward march dog.  He never complained.  He was half hound… so he could be a bit hornery if I decided to leave the dog park before he wanted to go.  And in his early days if I let him off leash in an unfenced area, he might disappear for up to 90 minutes (but obviously he always came back).  And there were occasions that he was not allowed to sleep in a stranger’s house and hence we did not share a bed.  But mostly Tank was just a kind, loving, lean in to a new human, hump a new pooch, tolerate a puppy, train a foster, love me without condition, snuggle with me at night kind of dog.  We could just sit quietly for hours.  In his younger days he would chase a ball for hours… always to bring it back to my hand.  He was a good boy.  He was what I want to be.  A caring loving, move forward kind of friend and companion.


Tank was a dog without regrets, or so it seemed.  He glorified life and those around him.  Yes I am biased.  But those who were blessed to know him, know he was unique among the dog world.  He was just one of those dogs.  If you needed a hug, he would just give you a hug.  He did however hope you would scratch his butt or his ears.

And now he is gone.  No new pictures. No more kisses.  No visits to the dog park.  No sharing my bed. I had no idea just how critical Tank was to my well being.  I know now.


For since he left

My nights are






Crappie… crappy….crappie


That my friend is how we met.  On Facebook.  We were both fans of George Takei.  Oh My! And one day around 3 years ago he posted some toilet humor cartoon with a fish.  I don’t recall the joke.

But I remember what I typed in the reply line.  And I replied “Crappie”  (for the non-initiated, a Midwest freshwater pan fish similar to a perch, and actually pronounced Croppy) But it looks like it should be pronounced Crappy.  And it really was a perfectly funny response to the “fish turd” joke.  And apparently  you were in a laughing kind of mood…. and you “liked” my comment.  You and several other absolute strangers.  And I felt good and that was that.


But that was not that.  You mustered up the energy to message me and asked to be my friend.  Now I must say… I was attracted immediately to your picture.  And I hoped you were not some Nigerian scam artist, targeting my massive American wealth.  Fortunately it was my humor that you were after.  And we became friends.  You moved outside of your comfort circle… and friend-ed a stranger.  Someone you would never have to meet.  And we would joke and we laughed and just enjoyed each other…. and then came the second day.  And someone you thought would be a random, never meet, make me smile kind of guy from some distant land…. well…. if I may put words in your mouth… “Holy Sh*!, the guy lives in Tulsa, less than 30 miles from my Owasso home.”  Spoiler!!

The first months were delightful.  We were funny together.  We never met.  We planned on it, we never followed through.  There were discoveries and journeys via phone, text and facebook.   We we members of similar “clubs”  The multiple dog owner club.  The I lost my spouse to a horrible accident club.  The quick wit/funny club.  The on a spiritual journey club.  The enjoy a good wine club.  And the being in a relationship is exhausting and leave me alone clubs.


So during “our” first two years, I think there were 3 befriending and 3 unfriending events on Facebook.  We were together.   We were silent and apart.   We lived alone.  After a period, there would be a tap on the door, an open moment, with smiles, laughter, and even one meet for brunch event.  Two hours at the cafe in Utica Square.  Delightful, refreshing, for both of us I believe.  And I will add…. glorious for me.  You were just a joy to be with and talk with.  You are so attractive… what a wonderful breath of fresh air.   And then you would “disappear.”  For those moments, closeness was not to be a part of your life.  I was asked to lose your number.  I had not “done” anything, it just was NOT time.

But there were big changes coming.  You became a Grandma.  And frankly, you changed I think.  “Boo” changed you.  That little boy was a big life changer.  I will not attempt to put words in your mouth, nor outline the changes.  Nor even suppose to understand, having never been neither a parent nor obviously then a grandparent.  But I will say, your world exploded and expanded.  And around a year ago, I became a part of your new expansion process.  I will be forever grateful.  Though our together times are infrequent, they are a part of us…. and for me they are wonderful.

We have indeed become friends over the last year.

We have done business together.  You have entrusted me to sell things for you an Ebay.  I have been blessed financially because of “us.”

But more importantly, you have given me some firsts and lasts.  The kind of things that will linger in my brain for the remainder of my life as I think of you.

Our date at the Tulsa state fair.  You where there… for my first ever scorpion and meal worm pizza.  I will think of you every time I am stung by a scorpion.  It will be our dance.

And you are the last woman to let me in her bed.  You were not in it, you were on the couch. Because after and evening in your home, with conversation, dogs, a beautifully cooked meal, jinga and yahtzee, and too much wine… you took my car keys and safely tucked me in.  Among the many reasons, I love you for that concern and level of sharing.

And the truth is, I don’t remember any dates in our together time.  Couples often remember dates and times.  I will for the moment say that I now will remember one.  June 2, 2015.  I was suppose to visit you at your home, I had to postpone.  However, during the evening we did speak on the phone.

It was so nice to hear your voice.  You just cause me to smile every time we speak.  You are just a light.  I am not always good at listening, though I try.  And I am not always good at remembering unless I write it down.

This is my June 2, 2015 memory.  This is what I heard.  “liver disease” and “auto-immune” and “terminal” and “six months.”

I promised you I would not feel sorry for you.  I don’t.  But I do adore you.  I do love you.  I will be here or there for you.

Maybe while there is still time… we can escape Tulsa together.

Maybe a trip to Grand Lake.






Silent Night… a ritual unlike any other

6a00d8357f3f2969e20192ab30ed93970dI love reading the memories of Christmas past and Hanukkah past, from the many posters on Facebook and my circle of friends.  I am blessed to hear how families would and continue decorate their trees,  or cut down their tree, and light the candles, or send out Christmas cards with the family year in review letter, or sing songs, or share a meal, or pass out gifts,  the secret Santa.  To do what was done to turn the act into a series of traditions or a ritual.  Perhaps you shared an Advent calendar.  Adding meaning beyond the actual event.  I read what you are your families do, every Christmas Season.

I makes me think back on all we use to do as a family from the Thanksgiving meal kick of to Christmas day meal.  I love to recall all the stuff we did together. the annual family traditions.

This is my families list……..           OK,  I am done.  Nothing comes to mind.  Nadda.  We did a tree, we passed out gifts, we ate two nice meals, enjoyed leftovers, watched football.  Activities yes.  But Rituals, memorials … Traditions, Blank.  I have nothing to share.  Nothing that marked or measured the Christmas season.

I did not miss these traditions growing up in a marginally dysfunctional and semi-loving family.   We did what we did.  I guess it is hard to know how you might miss something that never was.  Perhaps the Christmas television programming would be my personal tradition, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” And “Dickens’ Christmas Carol” were and still are among my favorites seasonal reminders.  For those from Kansas City, there is a drive to the Plaza to see the lights.  I liked looking at the Plaza lights, and still do.

But, since the traditions are few or none, there is little to miss.  The absence of tradition and ritual is not, after all, a form of abuse.  Traditions and rituals are reminders, the elements of remembrance.   Of joys and of sorrows. I honestly did not know I was without these reminders.  That is until I was 60 and unmarried, and without children, and Christmas was just a calendar date, and well you get the picture.  But I still love watching my friends with their traditions.

Let me make it clear, this is not a sad time for me by any stretch on my imagination.  There are just no great family traditions.  I am blessed that many of you have them to share.  I have wonderful Christmas memories, stories and fellowship with family and friends.  But no decades long traditions, passed from family member to family member, generations shared.

That being said, I did have one.   A Bob Fulton, would not miss tradition.   From the early 1960s, circa 1963, until many years later, there was the Late Evening Candle Light Communion service at Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City every Christmas Eve.  From grade school though college and years beyond, I would look forward to this special hour of worship and song, and choirs, and homily by Rev. Ted Nissen.

The Sanctuary I worshiped in burned down in a fire and has be rebuilt and replaced.  Rev. Ted has since passed to reside in heavenly places.  But I remember.  And nearly every Christmas Eve I search for a candlelight communion service in the city of my residence.  I am currently blessed by continuing this tradition at First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, OK.

I must confess, no Christmas Carols sung by a congregation have ever sounded better, than the ones song that evening by the hundreds of gathered pilgrims.  Some coming for their one of only two visits per year to the Church.  There are College students returning home.  Generational Families together.  Great organ music.  And the Candle Light communion.  And there are “orphans” such as I am, coming alone to relive, renew, reinvigorate a revival of Light and Remembrance. 

In 1963 and beyond, as I entered the sanctuary with fellow congregants, each of us was handed a program and a 4″ white candle with a little paper drip protector surrounding it.  And I would cradle that candle in my hand for an hour.  The warmth of my skin would soften the wax.  I must confess I would often make wax sculptures, small shapes this now mold-able taper.  But throughout the service I had such an air of expectation.  And as the service progressed,  came the anticipation of something I was so struck by after my first service that I eagerly awaited this moment every year for over a decade.  A ritual that is as alive in me today as it was 50 years ago.

The closing act.  There was in the center of the alter a large Advent candle lit in the front center of the cavernous sanctuary.  The candle was really unnoticed during the service.  Unnoticed and Unattended until THAT moment it was not.  And suddenly all electric lights were extinguished.  (In the early days, the darkened chapel did not even have the now required 24/7 lighted exit signs.)  There was on small light.  One candle.  Trust me, the church was dark.  The Rev. Ted would light his little 4″ candle from the large center alter candle.  Then Ted would light one candle of an Elder on his left and one candle of an Elder on his right.  And then there were four.  The center candle and three soon to be travelers.  In the background, the organ played “Silent Night.”  And the travelers left the stage to pass to the first pew at the center aisle to light the seated parishioner’s candles. And the light began to move through the chapel, outward and backward.  And the darkness was waning, and the light growing.  And the light of one joined the light of many, growing in brightness.  A striking brightness like I had not known before.  It is a Light that still burns in my spirit to this day.  And in my holiday memory.  I can feel the temperature rise in the room.  And the temperature did rise as over 400 candles were ignited.  And then, the Recessional, and we sung together..  Joy… oh Joy to the World.

And so once again I look to Christmas eve, and a single light, knowing that I celebrate a ritual of Light and Life.

John 1:4-5 ” In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.   The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

This is my Christmas memory, and the best of my traditions past.  May you know light and warmth during this time.