The Dancing Goats

imageBlack gold is my secret ingredient to living well. I use my French press in the morning to blast off and usually have an afternoon Starbucks Cafe Misto. Legend says a goat herder was minding his herd when they began to nibble on coffee beans growing there. The goats began dancing. The herder boiled some and it became the first cup of joe.

Whether it’s true or not, coffee is my secret ingredient and I am like those goats.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ingredients.”

Dr. Seuss: Quirky is Good

04_seuss37_dI’ve written about many of my heroes on my blog but none of them are quite as special to me as Dr. Seuss. Maybe it’s because he is a proponent of reading or maybe it’s because he is a bit left-of-center. Whatever the reason, I get inspired by Dr. Seuss and inspiration is the most valuable thing when you’re setting a goal for greatness. You are doing that aren’t you? Check out his life:

When Theodor Geisel was a young child, long before he would become Dr. Seuss, he used to mark in books. He had a set of books he had made his own by putting drawings and writings in. This should have been a clear indicator to his parents that one day his books would change the world. I am sure in their wildest dreams they never would have imagined what this young boy would one day do. Letting his imagination run wild was the first thing he did to set his dream in motion. These pictures made him happy. Following what made him happy would eventually make millions happy.

When Theodore got older and graduated college, he decided he wanted to write children’s books. He spent a lot of time and energy making his first book, an ABC book. No one published it. He felt rejected. He did not write another book for four years. This is identical to the experience of another great artist I have written on, Charles Schulz. Neither gave up altogether though. Both rose to great acceptance after a major rejection. I think this is very important for us to note. Have you been rejected at something? How many years will you let pass you by before trying again. While we’re at it, can you imagine how cool it would be to have a copy of that ABC book that got rejected? Something to remember when people reject your work.

In 1936, Dr. Seuss was on a boat to Tudor. He heard the engines “talking to him” in the sounds they made. Standing there at the engine he “heard” the idea for another book attempt. This is probably one of the most quirky stories I have ever heard. That’s why I love it so much. I am like that. I hear my car creak and talk to me, I hear lots of strange sources of inspiration every day. I am also quirky. Are you? Don’t look at it as a bad thing.

The quirky book that was borne out of the engine sounds was And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. Now 50 years later it is one of Dr. Seuss’ most favorited book by children all over the world. After that is time in a blender history. Dr. Seuss has published hundreds of books since then, as you likely already know.

Theodor Geisel had a goal: he wanted to write books that were easy to read. As he worked for that goal he brought millions of people happiness and taught millions to read: including me as a young child!

Currently set for release is Horton Hears a Who. A major motion picture created from another Dr. Seuss masterpiece. When millions watch it they will be seeing a product of a quirky writer who had a vision and kept at it. The message of this book is that even the smallest person can make a difference. What a message!!! We all wish he could have given us more. He is a lesson to me to never stop giving. Read one of his books and start making your crazy dream happen!

A Pool Takes the Edge Off

imageTo find and know ones bliss is the secret of life. Well, it’s one secret anyway. I have several: guitar, blogging and technology, writing which goes along with blogging, movies, education and my pool. I spend unknown hours getting my pool up to par each year. It’s kind of like a sport for me. I measure the chemicals, take trips to the pool place, brush the sides, and countless other little activities to keep it looking good. It’s all worth it when I get to float on my back and enjoy it about half the year. Going in my pool and jacuzzi is what takes my edge off. Some people might think I am lucky though to have a pool. Sure that’s true but it’s often overlooked how much time and expense a pool requires.

After the Winter months, there is a process one goes through of restoring and opening a pool. It takes multiple backwashes and many trips to the pool place for sundries. It is aggravating but I find it well worth the struggle when the pool is sparkling and my family and I are lounging in it. I’ve already had a few days like that this season. I have to tell you, despite the expense, it is worth it! My parents had a pool when we were growing up and I have always been an avid swimmer. I love swimming at places like Lake Silverwood and Laguna Beach but I think no place can really compare with the pool at my house.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “On the Edge.”

Blogging by Nokia Brick at Disneyland

imageFor me, it’s more like “When did you last blog in a normal place?” because I am equipped to blog just about anywhere. I do blog in uncommon places every day. In fact the other day I made a list of things I can do on my Summer vacation, I have only 2 days left of work and then I am a Summer break guy. I listed some places on that list I am looking forward to blogging from. It is very true that sometimes as a writer you need a change of scenery. My bluetooth keyboards and iphone WordPress App make it easy to seek out creative spots to type my words. I would hope that keeps them fresh. I know it helps me write stuff I find refreshing as well as to solve problems through blogging. To answer the question about the strangest place I have blogged from, you have to go with me back in time a bit. At this time, I had a Nokia “Brick” I liked to call it. It was not a smart phone but you could text on it. I want to say this was between 2005 and 2007. There was a service then called “” that allowed you to post from their site to multiple interfaces. It was like an early version of the now incredible IFTTT.

At any rate, it allowed posting to WordPress as long as you gave it the right credentials. It also allowed for posting updates by phone. I think you see where I am going with this. I remember a family trip to Disneyland where I was using sms messaging to post to my blog. They were snippet posts of the day. Today I’d call them “Asides” or “Statuses.” I was elated at my power to do this. When I got home, the formatting was messed up and it proved far too difficult to always strip signatures etc. to use it much. Still, it made posting ideas “from the field” possible in a whole new way. Of course, I have many many ways to do it far better now. I think it pays to be ready to blog in any situation.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Blogger in a Strange Land.”

Vision is my Super Sense

Damien Riley Starbucks GlassesWe live in hundreds of different bodies within our lifetimes. When I was in my teens and twenties, I could eat carbs all day long and never gain a pound. In fact I wanted to gain weight but couldn’t. Now, as I am turning 46 this week, I count calories everyday and try to stay on the fast diet 1-2 days a week. Don’t knock it by the way, I’ve lost ten pounds in a month doing that and it’s taught me a lot about food. Another part of my body that’s changed since those early years is my vision. I had perfect 20/20 most my life up to age 40. Now, it’s getting worse through astigmatism. Without my glasses, I can barely read the computer screen. I suppose if I could have one super sense, it would be that. I want my 20/20 back!

I go to Vision Center in the mall for my glasses and eye checks. They are fast, that’s why I keep going back. This last year they said I needed bifocals. I snubbed at the diagnosis at first. Bifocals? I’m only 45. Eventually, I was convinced they would help my vision so I tried some on. A whole new world opened up. I could see far away and up close clear as day. I can only dream of having this sort of clarity without lenses. Heck, since I’m dreaming, how about super far away vision? Macro vision? A tiny camera implant in my eye that allows me to upload “eye photos” to Flickr. My super sense could be vision, I just don’t know which one I’d be okay giving up. Hearing would probably be my second fave. Love my music.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Super Sensitive.”

Things to do on My Last Day Alive

Damien Riley End of the worldIf this were my last day, I’d hit the grocery store first. All the foods that raise my triglycerides would nearly fill my basket. Just like a death row convict, my last meal would certainly be in order. Eating is such a pleasurable experience is it not? There wouldn’t be a whole lot of time to go places and in all truth, up here in the high desert town of Victorville, there isn’t much I care to do that I haven’t already done. Of course, I’d fire up the jacuzzi and do some serious backfloating in the pool but that would only be interesting for an hour or two. One thing that would be cool would be not having to worry about shutting off the heater or the pump. I’m always a teensie bit nervous I’ll leave the heater on an the next day when I’m at work it will pop on with the timer and waste gas. If this is it, who gives a sh** ;) Right? I’d pick up my guitar and jam out on all the songs I’ve played through the years. No need to record it though right? I might check in to Facebook and Twitter real quick, of course email, but not long. If for no other reason other than to check for videos, photos, and statuses about what I can do. After all, I might run out of ideas. I’d do some relaxation and meditation. I’d make my peace with God and Jesus through the peaceful lessons of Buddha. I won’t be asking for anything except inner peace and the ability to good in the next world.

I might think about what I could leave behind. It wouldn’t be a website or anything online. Those hard drives will burn right up. I think writing on stone might be the only way to actually leave a mark. Isn’t it odd that with all our invention as a human race, it will all burn away. I suppose some people are novelty fan and have made a time capsule but as for me, no such novelty will remain. The caves at Lascaux will outlive the writings on this blog. Riley Central will become less than a flicker of electricity in a puff of dust. Obviously, I won’t be blogging. I wish they had a machine that could allow me to blog on a stone tablet. If I knew my words were going to long outlive me, I would be interested in saying a few things. I’d do all these things I have mentioned with the wonderful people in my family. I’d hug my girls and high five my son. I’d kiss my wife and tell them how much they mean to me. I’d probably give my wife a massage. If my kids needed to see anyone, I’d make sure that happened. I’m not sure what they would want but I don’t want to be selfish about the last day. Dad’s should serve their children, husbands should serve their wives. This is bordering on a depressing note but I hope I’ve given you some interesting ideas about what YOU can do on your last day

Part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry….”

My Ever After is a Healthy I Told You So

imageI’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my kids have a lot of growing to do before we can have real sit down “talks” about life’s and it’s treasures. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking with my kids now but there is sort of a barrier called immaturity that gets in the way sometimes. Either they think they know it all or at least they know better than be. This usually comes with the subject of finances. My youngest, 8, will demand it’s unfair for her to not get dollars for the “claw” machine. Have you encountered these? They were made to destroy dad’s peace. My others have similar gripes they can’t have what they want and my wife and I have to be the bad guys. It really sucks! I think it will be around 5-10 years at least before they get some of the “no” answers we give them. I’m in fairly good health, but my happily ever after would be to enjoy life with my grown up children. Hopefully something doesn’t happen to me before then.

Mark Twain said:

When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

I guess you get my point now. My son is exploring girls, driving, work, and even asking questions about credit cards. He’ll be 17 next month. I know I don’t have the best bedside manner but I have to let him know when I think he’s making bad choices at least every day. I’m tired of it. I want to be the nice happy dad who brings peace and encouragement to the room. Instead, I get frustrated trying to get my kids to mature. I’ve got a retirement pending so I’m not worries too much about money, though certainly I am not wealthy. My dream “ever after” is one of health. I want to be physically and mentally healthy to enjoy my wife and kids at retirement or before. And, it would be nice to be coherent and healthy when I say “I told you so.”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Happily Ever After.”

I don’t want to complain, but sometimes I wish I was blessed with other gifts other than creative type stuff and more with compartmentalizing my tasks and getting started on them early, without procrastination. I’ve been doing okay getting all my work done for the end of the year on Wednesday but I am behind on a couple of things. I look at my co-workers and from what I can see, they are better than me at doing things little by little and getting them done before they are due. I sort of have that oogly feeling about the 2-3 things that are hanging over my head right now. Above my own responsibilities, like report cards and end of year filing, I have a group of rambunctious kids who really don’t want to do any work, they are fixated on the end of the year and starting their summer, so there’s that challenge.

I’ve compensated for my issues of time and calendar management over the last 5-6 years with some online programs like Remember the Milk and Google Calendar. When you get into the reminders and features like emailing tasks, they are amazingly helpful. But even using those I get lazy. Sometimes I just think: “If I can just get through today, then I’ll be a success.” But I think we all know it’s not that easy. Then there is the influence of Buddha, and even Jesus, on task management. There is the importance of the center and keeping things sorted within. It important to not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will have enough worries for itself. I can attest they are worse when you procrastinate. Anyway, I think I have good systems in place, I just have gotten a bit lazy and that can be remedied with the new school year.

Today I plan to give my kids a nice break. We’ll do RIP art and music and maybe a science video with a fun worksheet. Depending on the weather, I may even take them out for kickball. Lately it’s been scorching hot. I’ll try and keep them calm while still teaching and also preparing them for 5th grade next year. I’ve given them the best I have all year and it will be bittersweet watching them go to a new teacher next year. I know some will come around and give me a high five next year as they always do. Every year has its own rewards and challenges and this year has had its unique share of both. Looking forward to dismissal Wed but the question is seriously, will I have enough time to get all my work done. After that, I’ll be shell shock, sleeping in and planning for beach trips. Trying to keep that image in mind!

My Class Sings Chanda Mama for the Homeless

imageEver since I was a wee lad, I had a soft spot in my heart for homeless people. I’ve seen people provide charity for them of many kids like publishing their music as in “Playing for Change” and taking photos of them to auction off for their worthy cause. I guess I feel so much for them because they look so dirty and unhealthy. All people should have a reasonable chance at a healthy life and I’d definitely use more of my resources for them if my blog ever made more money. My class is performing a song from India called “Chanda Mama” at our annual International Week festivities at my school. The kids love the song. It was recorded by homeless people all over the world and is chiefly sung by Indian homeless people.

Going to soup kitchens and feeding the homeless is another thing I’d like to do. I have done it before and it is extremely eye-opening and gratifying. The homeless I’ve encountered are so jovial, so willing to talk. We may be worries about a cavity and won’t leave the house because of it while they have no teeth at all and are out on the street dancing, playing instruments, and yes, begging. I really do have a heart for the homeless. Here is the video to the song my class is doing. I’m not sure all the players are homeless, you’ll have to refer to “Playing for Change” if you’re curious. This is such a great song!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Blogger With a Cause.”