Learning While Muslim: The Shameful Arrest of Ahmed Mohamed

40 years ago I embarked on my shortwave radio adventure and flew headlong into the world of geekdom. Because my radio was built in 1937, I needed to perform periodic maintenance on it, checking vacuum tubes, capacitors, and the like. I had my father’s superior knowledge of electronics to fall back on for assistance. He had rebuilt that radio in 1968 for my brother Robert, who found it while working at an electronics shop that summer. Robert said Dad literally brought it back from the dead. 47 years later, it still works. I compare it to the Doctor’s “antiquated” Type-40 TARDIS. They truly don’t make them like they used to.

In 1981, as a 9th grade graduation present, I received a Heathkit clock kit. I had always wanted a 24-hour clock, and this one could be built to operate as one. (Geek alert!) In the world of international shortwave radio, the time is told in UTC or GMT in 24-hour format. So having such a clock would make it easier to tell when international programs came on. I remember building the radio on the dining room table, my father’s guiding hand nearby. I was thrilled. Not only would I have a 24-hour clock, but also I could say that I built it myself. Of course, it was only a kit and all you had to do was follow the directions. My father was such a badass that he probably could have designed the thing and built it from scratch.

14 year-old Ahmed Mohamed of Irving, Texas seems like a similarly clever person when it comes to electronics. He designs and builds radios, clocks, and other gimmicky gadgets for kicks, in his spare time. If he had gone to my school, the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, LA’s first magnet school, he would have found kindred spirits. Geeks thrived at CES when I was there; I trust it is the same today. We congregated and did geek things, like play with the then-new, then-awesome TRS-80 personal computer from Radio Shack (RIP). Our teachers encouraged such activities. Sadly, Mr. Mohamed does not go to CES or anything like it. He instead goes to a school steeped in fear and loathing. So when he brought a clock he built to school to show to his science teacher, instead of getting a pat on the back, he got called into the principal’s office and then put into handcuffs by the local police. Why? Because his homemade clock looked liked a bomb, at least to the teachers, principal, and the police. They described it as something meant to look like a bomb to cause mass panic. Apparently they thought the clock description was just a “story.” So they took him in for questioning and confiscated the device he created. Charges were later dropped.

Let’s leave aside the elephant in the room for just a hot second. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the device created was indeed meant to look like a bomb prop, or maybe even the real deal. Why, then, would Mr. Mohamed telegraph his punch, so to speak, by showing the thing to a teacher? Did the Sandy Hook assassin telegraph his motives by showing off his guns and ammo to a teacher before his killing spree? Did the Columbine assassins telegraph their motives by showing off their guns and ammo to a teacher before their killing spree? Of course they didn’t. So why would this kid show this device to a teacher if it was anything but innocent? Right? So now that we’ve dispatched that bit of tripe, let’s get to the elephant.

Mr. Mohamed is a Muslim and his name sounds to some Arab. That was the source of the suspicions about the clock. The teachers, principal, and police all vehemently deny that his religion or ethnic background had anything to do with his arrest. Rubbish. Clearly these attributes were at the heart of their outrageous accusations. And make no mistake, the adults in this situation behaved outrageously. Ahmed Mohamed looked scared, dazed, confused, and humiliated standing in his NASA t-shirt with his hands cuffed behind his back. Outrageous barely describes his situation. I honestly can’t think of any words to adequately describe how cruel and evil this act was.

I brought my portable shortwave radios to school often – and they looked rather fierce with tons of knobs and buttons – but not once did someone call the cops on me under some trumped up pretense, like I was signaling the Commies or something. Mr. Mohamed was not so fortunate. His teachers failed. His principal failed. The police of his city failed. They all failed this young man. Instead of congratulating him on his innovative spirit, his cleverness, his willingness to go above and beyond to learn and explore, they punished him and humiliated him. Their motive wasn’t concern for the school’s wellbeing and it certainly wasn’t for Mr. Mohamed’s wellbeing. Their motive was misplaced, naked fear. 14 years after 9/11, the year of Mr. Mohamed’s birth, anti-Muslim sentiments still run as strongly as ever. Anyone who looks or remotely sounds Muslim is subject to have their rights revoked or abused at a moments notice, without so much as a by-your-leave. This is what happened to Mr. Mohamed, a fact he sadly realized immediately. He also said that he would no longer bring his inventions to school, the very place he should bring them to be recognized and guided into accomplishing even greater feats.

My father wanted to go to college and study engineering when he got out of the army after World War II. He didn’t make it. First, the GI folks gave him the run around, not the money he was due. Second, the school he wanted to go to did not want to admit him, despite his obvious qualifications. Of course, the Army didn’t recognize his talents, either. Blacks were relegated to quartermaster detail, and that’s what my father did. He was not the radio dude that you see in World War II movies like he should have been. My father’s revenge was to have five kids just as geeky as he was, for all five to go to college, for one of them to major in engineering, my late brother Robert, and for another to get a full scholarship to go to the school that had rejected him years earlier.

So my message to you, Mr. Mohamed, is simple. Hang in there. It will get better. Your school and the entire city of Irving are currently being humiliated by their actions against you, as well they should be. It is not your fault. They had a choice and they chose poorly. You have a bright future ahead of you. President Obama has already invited you to the White House to look at and learn about your inventions. I have no doubt that many universities in due course will be eager to give you scholarships so that when it’s time for college, you’ll have your pick of offers. Be aware of the bigotry that exists, but do not let it deter you. The best way to get past this dreadful incident is to continue to be the person you are, to continue to dream, and to continue to strive to fulfill these dreams. But it sounds like you already know all this. That makes you a much wiser person than many of the adults at your soon-to-be former school.

I have no doubt that you’ll feature in other headlines, only these will tout your accomplishments as an inventor and entrepreneur.

Encore from the Archives: The False Victimhood of Religious Conservatives

The Kim Davis fiasco continues the pattern of religious conservatives relying on more extreme and desperate measures to retain their image of how the world should work. Ms. Davis would have something of a leg to stand on if she personally refused to serve same-sex couples seeking marriage, but allow others in her office to do so. I can sorta give a pass to an employee who, for personal reasons, does not want to do X, so long as someone else can do the work. But no, it was an all or nothing thing for her. By turning away same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses and not allowing others in her office to issue the license, Ms. Davis imposed her religious will on everyone that works for her, as well as on the citizens she has sworn to serve. That’s bullshit. By Ms. Davis’ reasoning, a Hindu could demand an end to the meat industry. A Jew could demand that no one work on Saturday (the Sabbath). A Muslim could ban all alcohol — of course, this was tried once, at the insistence of Christian (not Islamic)-oriented groups, with disastrous consequences. We could all live on our little religious asteroids and live our own realities, unburdened from those who are different. Such a world, of course, is fantasy.

As I’ve stated before, religious freedom arguments are simply flimsy excuses to justify bigotry. Below is a piece I wrote last year about this whole Christian victimhood phenomenon. Sadly, I don’t see this issue going away any time too soon.

[Ed.: The below was originally posted on April 2, 2014]

Those who use religion as a bludgeon to pummel anyone who fails to follow their dogma are getting desperate. Despite years of proselytizing, society Just Won’t Get It. States continue to grant marriage equality rights. Courts continue to overturn anti same-sex marriage laws. And to make matters worse, the dreaded Affordable Care Act had made the pill even more mainstream that it has been for the past 40-odd years. Something must be done!

Their latest weapon: religious freedom. Just cry Religious Freedom and all of these pesky problems will just go away.

An activist judge is threatening to bring marriage equality to your state? Well, you don’t have to listen to that godless heathen. Just refuse to interact with married gays and lesbians, or all LGBT people, coupled or single. Problem solved! Do you own a company that has to give health care to “all,” even women seeking contraception (aka The Pill), thanks to that dastardly Obamacare? Relax! If it’s against your religious ethic, you don’t have to!

No longer content with preaching the patronizing bromide “love the sinner, hate the sin,” religious conservatives want the laws of the land to protect them from that which they find loathsome: LGBT people. Several states have tried to pass or seriously considered laws making it legal for businesses to refuse service to married gay people, or presumably any and all LGBT people, if they are morally opposed to the existence of such people. You want service? Wear shoes and shirts, but no goddamned gay wedding rings!

This is straight up Jim Crow talk. The genesis of the anti-gay laws and the anti-black Jim Crow laws are clearly different, but the end goal is very much the same: to dehumanize. So whether it be based on one’s race or one’s sexual orientation and identity, these type of laws only seek to hurt those they target, to make them feel less than human, to put and keep them firmly in their place. As I write this, apparently Mississippi has gone over to the dark side and seems poised to enact such heinous legislation.

Similarly absurd are the attacks against the Affordable Care Act and its provisions to provide comprehensive healthcare to women, including contraception. Religious organizations and religious-based non-profit businesses already have an exemption so that they do not have to fund prescriptions for the pill. But that’s not good enough. Now we have non-religious companies owned by religious conservatives also squawking that they should not be required to fund that which they find sinful because doing so would violate their religious freedom. Hobby Lobby has taken this argument all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Hobby Lobby seems obsessed with women and contraception. But I wonder if they morally object to men getting vasectomies or even using condoms? Doubtful. The needs of the penis too often trump the needs of the vagina.

The battle cry Religious Freedom is a mask to hide bigotries. No rational argument can be made to restrict contraception or to halt marriage equality. Indeed, on the latter point court after court has ruled that there exists no compelling argument for the state to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. Having failed at logic, religious conservatives have resorted to faux victimhood. Nothing about women using the pill or gays and lesbians getting married affects their day-to-day lives in anyway. They just don’t like it.

That’s not good enough. Suppose I didn’t like people with naturally red hair. Suppose I disliked people with naturally red hair so much that I found looking at them revolting and repulsive. Does that give me the right to demand laws ordering redheads to dye their hair? Do I get to have a victimhood temper tantrum and declare that my rights as a redhead hater are being trampled by the existence of redheaded people? Of course not. And for the record, I actually like red hair.

But that’s how stupid the religious freedom arguments are. Nobody has the right to point to any book, no matter how holy, and declare that such-and-such a person does not have a right to do X, or worse the right to even exist, and then pass civil laws to reflect that bigotry. That’s what the religious freedom crowd is trying to do. In fact, some of the more determined of them, like the Hobby Lobby group, might be trying to use their money and influence to turn this country into a theocracy, by changing the laws to fit their particular religious dogma.

The US is not a theocracy. There is no state religion. In a country with as many religious and spiritual traditions as this one has, that’s a path we do not want to travel down. Time for the religious conservatives to stop having false victimhood temper tantrums and start learning how to play nice with others. After all, isn’t one of the most important tenets of nearly all the major world religions, Love thy neighbor?

BLM & Sanders, Part 2: That’s More Like It

Senator Bernie Sanders opened his speech in LA on August 10 with Black Lives Matter and civil rights issues. He let his new national spokeswoman, Symone Sanders (no relation), begin the program. She is a black criminal justice advocate and a supporter of Black Lives Matter. Also, on his campaign page, Senator Sanders has put up very clear position statements regarding racism and racial inequality.

All of this is what needed to happen after the Netroots Nation incident. The Senator needed to get ahead of the argument and present his position clearly and often, because it is one of national concern. Had he done so sooner, then the Seattle protest might not have happened. If BLM protesters come to future events, he at least has these actions and concrete plans to back him up, to prove that he is listening and has plans for action.

As I said in my last piece, I like Bernie Sanders, and have always felt that he was on the right side of most issues I care about. I’m glad to see that he’s now willingly discussing this issue of national importance and giving it the platform it deserves. Well done.

PS: Much has been said about Seattle activist Marissa Janae Johnson, one of the two activists who interrupted Senator Sanders in Seattle. Accusations include that she is a plant by the Clinton campaign, was once a supporter of Sarah Palin, that she does not speak for Seattle Black Lives Matter, etc. I don’t know her and I’m not going to jump to any conclusions. I’m hesitant to make such accusations because I know how easy it is to do such things. In a past life I was involved with in-your-face type groups (ACT UP, anti-apartheid groups) that sometimes went after people that others thought should be our “friends.” Based on that experience, I know that sometimes even friends need a wake up call, and that it’s too easy to impugn the alarm clock rather than listen to it ring. The folks at This Week in Blackness Media (TWiB) discussed Ms. Johnson’s actions and interviewed her for their podcast yesterday. Take a listen and decide for yourself. (NSFW: language)

Bernie Sanders & Black Lives Matter

Last month, Senator Bernie Sanders, candidate for the US presidency, spoke at the annual Netroots Nation convention in Phoenix, Arizona. By all accounts, it did not go well for him. An organized group of Black Lives Matter protesters called on Senator Sanders to speak to the issue of black women and men being summarily executed by police in alarming numbers across the country. In particular, a group of women led by Tia Oso called for Sanders — and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland, who spoke before Sanders — to speak the names of black women either killed by the police or who died while in police custody: Rekia Boyd, Tanisha Anderson, and Sandra Bland. Neither candidate reacted well to the protesters. Sanders announced, “Of course black lives matter,” before continuing with his stump speech about economic inequity, stating that he would address the concerns of the protests after he gave his stump speech. Bad move. Far too often, oppressed communities, whether they be people of color or queer folks, have had to hear the old bromide from white progressives “after the revolution, we’ll deal with your issues,” their concerns pushed aside as an afterthought. Senator Sanders should have known better.

It could have been a teachable moment for the Senator, except that apparently it was not. This weekend, he was about to address a group of supporters in Seattle when again a group of Black Lives Matter protesters confronted him. He did not engage with them, instead allowing the organizers of the event to try to wrest control of the microphone and situation. Ultimately, the Senator left the stage without speaking, appearing as if he could not be bothered.

Senator Sanders is making a huge mistake, the same one that Ralph Nader made in 2000. Both men run, or have run, largely single-issue campaigns. Nader mostly concerned himself with campaign financial reform and the two-party system for elections. Sanders largely addresses income inequality. Nader felt annoyed when people of color asked him about issues pertinent to their communities (racial injustice, immigration, etc.) or when LGBT folks asked about marriage equality — quite a fantasy just 15 years ago — working and housing protections, etc. In all cases, Nader balked, at best making patronizing statements, the equivalent of “we’ll deal with your issues after the revolution.” At worst, he never mentioned the issues at all. Senator Sanders appears to be following this same misguided path, sticking to his stump speech while refusing to acknowledge the pressing issues of the day facing the black community: police killings happening at an alarming rate.

I was never a huge fan of Ralph Nader, so his patronizing attitudes frankly never surprised me. But I do like Senator Sanders, so I’m disappointed that he has not handled himself better. I get it, in terms of sticking to one issue. If you want to convince people of your point of view, repeat it over and over and over again until you are blue in the face. The Republicans are famous for this. For example, we now call Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs because Republicans have foisted that term on the media and public repeatedly, until it has finally stuck, whether they are truly “entitlements” or not. They aren’t. We pay into them. But Republicans effectively changed the debate on that issue — and many more — simply by establishing a line and sticking to it.

Senator Sanders is taking a page from their playbook and I say more power to him. If he were organizing a national organization that dealt solely with the issue of income inequality, such rigidity would be justified. But he’s not. He’s running for president. Presidential candidates have to speak to all of the issues of the day, whether they want to or not. Otherwise, they run the risk of appearing above and aloof issues they refuse to address, like Black Lives Matter.

Bernie has to diversify his platform, in other words, if he wants to be taken seriously by all segments of the population. Of course income inequality is an important issue. So is the environment. So is Black Lives Matter. So are anti discrimination laws for LGBT folks. All of these are issues important to me. He has to address each of these and offer his solutions for these ills. President Obama, when he ran his first race in 2008, got it exactly right when he said that a president has to be able to work on more than one thing at a time. So far, Senator Sanders seems unable or unwilling to do this, thus calling into question his ability to effectively lead the country.

From Sea to Shining Sea – An Evolution

c. 1998

Honey, let’s go to City Hall?


So we can register as Domestic Partners with the City of Oakland.

Oh! What a lovely idea!

c. 2000

I just got laid off.

Oh no! Well, my employer grants domestic partnership benefits. If we become state registered domestic partners, we can sign you up for healthcare ASAP.

Oh! How lovely!

c. 2003

Have you seen the news?

What is it?

California greatly expanded the Domestic Partner’s laws. Now we can file state taxes jointly, have visitation rights, and survivorship benefits.


c. 2008

I’m too afraid to get married.


If it gets overturned, then we may lose everything.

Du hast rechts.

And anyway, it’s really no different than our Domestic Partnership. The Feds still won’t recognize it.


Late June 2013

Sweetie, if we get married, then I won’t have to pay federal taxes on your benefits anymore.

Wow, really? How much will that save?


Oh! Will you marry me?


Married, November 22, 2013.

June 26, 2015

Early morning. The phone rings. I pick up:  Woo hoo!

Isn’t is wonderful?

I can’t believe it!

After hanging up, I realized that my marriage to the man I’ve loved for 21 years is now legal from sea to shining sea. And I cried.

Not Promoting Positive Change – Rachel Dolezal

In light of the horrible events in Charleston, South Carolina, I was going to shelve this post, which I started writing a couple of days before the shooting. The whole Rachel Dolezal drama seemed particularly trivial by comparison. But actually, it’s not. It speaks to the ways we discuss race, discuss our troubled national history behind race, and the right and wrong ways of promoting positive change.

First, I want to look at a couple of examples of the right way to promote positive change. Both examples come from music because, well, music.

When long-time DJ, musician, and music promoter Johnny Otis died a few years back, at the ripe old age of 90, I read something interesting in his obituaries. A man of Greek heritage, he grew up in a largely black neighborhood in Berkeley, California. This would have been in the 30s and 40s, a time of extreme racial polarization in the country. In his autobiography, Listen to the Lambs, he wrote that society told him to identify either with the black kids or the white kids, so he chose the black kids. His dark complexion could have helped him “pass,” but that wasn’t where he was coming from. Says Mr. Otis in a San Jose Mercury News interview in 1994: “Genetically, I’m pure Greek. Psychologically, environmentally, culturally, by choice, I’m a member of the black community.”

In addition to his own substantial musical accomplishments, Mr. Otis was a prodigious talent scout. His discoveries included Etta James and Hank Ballard. He was also very political. When Watts blew up in 1965, he said he could understand why, given the treatment blacks have received by the police. One commentator believes that this stance, as well as other civil rights stances, probably stunted his career and kept him from becoming as big a household name as a Dick Clark or a Casey Kasem. But Mr. Otis was OK with that.

John Hammond, born in 1910, came from a wealthy white family in New England. He studied classical music in his youth, but went headlong into the world of jazz, and pretty much stayed there during most of his professional life. As an A & R man for various record labels, most notably Columbia Records, Mr. Hammond went out of his way to find talented African-American artists and promote their careers. Two names he brought to the spotlight include Billie Holiday and Count Basie. He also championed integrated bands, something otherwise unheard of in the 1930s. To that end, he encouraged Benny Goodman to hire vibraphone legend Lionel Hampton and pianist Teddy Wilson. One of his final gigs was the produce records for the 80-something year old Alberta Hunter in the late 70s and early 80s when she came out of retirement and resumed her singing career after nearly 40 years of musical inactivity.

So here we have examples of two non-African-Americans who clearly had the community’s best interests at heart. Mr. Otis was a brother-man, his soul deeply embedded within the African-American community. Mr. Hammond used his position of privilege to further the careers of great artists. Neither men claimed to be biologically black, but then they didn’t have to.

Then we have Rachel Dolezal.

Much verbiage has been spilled about Ms. Dolezal, including those who defend her as a transracial person. She and her defenders cite Caitlyn Jenner’s recent coming out as a comparable situation. I find this comparison troubling and deceptive, because I find Ms. Dolezal troubling and deceptive. Throughout her story, various facts have come under question, starting with her parentage. She claimed some black dude as her father; turns out he isn’t. She also claimed to have been beaten by her white “step-father,” the man who’s her biological father; to have been born in a teepee; and to have been the subject of racial prejudice.

The last point is particularly fascinating. While attending Howard University, she indeed sued the school on the basis of racial discrimination, among other things, as a white woman. She claimed that the school prevented her from getting a teaching assistant position and prevented her art work because she was not African-American. Yikes to the yikes.

What Ms. Dolezal did was quite different from Johnny Otis or John Hammond. She consciously perpetrated a deception, including inventing relatives and a whole backstory to her life that simply wasn’t true. Her deceptions were no different than Jayson Blair’s or Stephen Glass’. And deception, even well intended deception, ultimately helps no one. Indeed, the orgs that she worked for seem to agree. She resigned her position from the NAACP just before they were about to ask her to leave. And the Spokane city council removed her from the police oversight commission. Civil rights work requires people of the highest integrity. Ms. Dolezal has called hers into question.

As I’ve noted, there are plenty of white folks who “get it” about race and work to improve things. Indeed, the NAACP itself was founded primarily by concerned white folks. Ms. Dolezal could have been one of those people, but she chose not to be. She and her prevaricating ways epitomize the wrong way to promote positive change.

Murder and the Myth of Fossilized Racism

The horrific shooting that took place at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina cannot be allowed to exist in isolation. It happened in of one of the oldest black churches in the country, the site of past racial violence. No doubt the killer, Dylann Storm Roof, knew this.

The Daily Beast quickly put together a profile of Roof. In it, they interview folks who knew him, including John Mullins who went to high school with him. Says Mr. Mullins:

“I never heard him say anything, but just he had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs,” he said. “He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that. You don’t really think of it like that.”

To be sure, Mr. Mullins concluded that “the things he said were kind of not joking,” but the substance of his statement is deep and profound, and points to why this murder spree happened, why racism still thrives unchecked. Many in our society still don’t believe that racism exists. Such a mindset believes that racist jokes are just fossils of a bygone era, like dinosaur bones you find in the ground. They are inert, dead. The Confederate flag is just a symbol of Southern Pride, and that is all.

Dangerous nonsense. Racism lingering inside of a joke is just as potent, just as alive, just as vital as racism expressed in violence. It is far from inert. One cannot divorce the flag from its history and its continued symbol of white supremacy. One should not need a disaster like these horrible killings for this message to come through.

Mr. Mullins, upon reflection, realized that Roof’s racism was real. Some others still haven’t gotten the message. Some folks have created a page of support for the killer on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 7.54.15 AM

Fossilizing racism does not make it go away. Confining it to a bygone era does not make it go away. Labeling it a “youthful indiscretion” does not make it go away. Do not make this man out to be a victim. Learn to recognize his hatred for what is it. Otherwise another Dylann Storm Roof will come out of the woodworks and strike again.

Blog Tour – Willem of the Tafel by Hans M. Hirschi



Willem of the Tafel by Hans M. Hirschi

Willem of the Tafel by

Hans M. Hirschi

Published by

Beaten Track Publishing

Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, LGBT, Post-Dystopian, Young Adult

194 pages

Release Date: May 28, 2015


The world we know is gone, destroyed by greed and ignorance. On a post-apocalyptic Earth, centuries into the future, few have survived the Great War. Some have taken refuge deep inside a mountain. One of them, Willem, is exiled to the surface… Alone and struggling to survive, Willem embarks on an epic journey, making a discovery that could once again alter the future of humanity. Willem of the Tafel is an epic tale of survival, second chances, hope and undying love.


Check out the trailer for Willem of the Tafel


“APPLYING A FORMULA based on the need for sunlight, nutrients and yield, the scientists of Tafel had produced beans, tuber crops, fungi, cabbages, berries and citrus fruit that provided the vitamins, calories and antioxidants needed to keep sicknesses at bay and people alive. The Tafel had long ago turned to a vegan diet: no animal could offer the efficient nutrition vegetables provided, given their own need for nutrition, not to mention space.

Bongani had never even seen an animal, or nothing larger than the spiders and bugs cohabiting the caves with his people, though had he heard of them, and that humans had once eaten them. There were no pictures left, no books, nothing, at least not to Bongani’s knowledge.”




Follow the Willem of the Tafel Virtual book tour here


Hans M Hirschi (b. 1967) has been writing stories ever since he was a child. Adulthood and the demands of corporate life efficiently put an end to his fictional writing for over twenty years.
A global executive in training and channel development, Hans has traveled the world and had previously published non-fictional titles.

The birth of his son and the subsequent parental leave provided him with the opportunity to unleash his creative writing once again. With little influence over his brainís creative workings, he indulges it, going with the flow.

A deeply rooted passion for, faith in a better world, in love, tolerance and diversity are a red thread throughout both his creative and non-fictional work. His novels might best be described as “literary romance, engaging characters and relevant stories that wonít leave you untouched, but hopeful.”

Hans is a proud member of the Swedish Writersí Union and the Writersí Center in Sweden.



The giveaway for Willem of the Tafel has 11 randomly chosen winners; 10 will receive $15 Gift codes to the author’s shop, but the grand prize winner will receive a free ticket to GayRomLit retreat 2015, in San Diego, CA, happening October 15-18th, 2015. Ticket value is $175, but if you win the grand prize, you’re responsible for travel and accommodations. Please notify the author in advance should you win and be unable to attend, so we can choose another recipient to enjoy the prize!

Good luck and happy reading and winning!

Willem of the Tafel Tour brought to you by…


Happy Geek Media

The Dust Journals – Part XVIII

Wednesday, May 25, 2157

I got up early that morning, went to the kitchen and had a small bowl of fruit. I ate alone. I remember thinking that it was the first time I ate alone since getting there. The thought did not linger. I switched to thinking about my library and all the books I had. I plotted in my head where to resume my reading. I had the bookcases all organized. I had to find where I left off. It never occurred to me to look in these writings for the answer. It never occurred to me that I may have talked to Walter about it, and that he would remember. I went back into alone mode, the mode I had known most of my adult life.

I returned to the living room and began gathering my stuff. That’s when Walter came out. I noted how disheveled he looked in my head, but didn’t say anything. Instead, I said that I wanted to build a cart or something to help me carry this stuff back to the Arroyo. Do you have anything? He just looked at me for what seemed like an hour. My mind was racing around with a ton of details, and he was just staring at me, looking like crap and staring at me. Finally, he said that he couldn’t think of anything that would work. Fine, fine, I snapped, then leaned over and started clothing buckles and that sort of thing. I could feel him just standing there, looking at me, but I refused to say anything else.

So then he said, you know, you really won’t be able to get over the hills. How will you get over the hills? I told him that I’d go the way I came before, going through the old Caldecott 4th bore. But how will you get there? The way I came, I said.

Until that moment, you’d have thought I had just materialized at the end of the tunnel. I remember that day, when I came through the tunnel and stared at the Bay Area for the first time since childhood. I saw the Albany Hill, now just an island, and a small one at that. I saw how gigantic the whole body of water had become. The old highway ended abruptly, and I had to scale down to go down the side of the hill. I had forgotten about all that. Somehow, I had erased all that from my head. All I had to do was read my own damn writing.

I was so caught up, living “in the moment” that I had forgotten the past. Forgotten the days I had spent with Walter. Forgotten the nasty baby killers down shore. Forgotten nearly dying on the beach, even though I was only a quarter mile from the desal plant. The past vanished. All I saw was that pipe feeding water to the A-fuckers up north. A fantasy. I anxiously wanted to return to reality. My anxiety drove me into flight mode, but a slow motion flight mode, a disorganized flight mode. A predator in pursuit would have found me easy pickings. I substituted dithering with action, with actually doing something.

While I did my mental gymnastics, Walter stared at me. Finally, I looked at him and said, you still willing to take me back? He said, yes.