Thursday, August 26, 2010

Burning Man

The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it's conformity -- even a dead fish can go with the flow.

We live in a world of rules made by men in suits and neckties. Free-spirited weirdoes have difficulty coping with the nonsense of conformity and have an overwhelming desire for self-expression -- the weirder the better.

A thousand years ago, ancient Druids (Celtic paganism) practiced human sacrifice to please their gods. They created giant effigies out of wood, called "Wicker Man," with criminals trapped inside, and set them ablaze. Today in our world of enlightenment, certain neo-pagan festivals practice the same ritual, usually without criminals.

In 1986, a small group of free-spirited weirdoes burned an 8-foot tall wooden structure of a man on Baker Beach in San Francisco, a city famous for free-spiritedness. They considered it "a spontaneous act of radical self-expression." This soon became an annual event and, in 1990, was moved to a more suitable location.

Burning Man is now a week-long festival, leading up to Labor Day weekend, that takes place on a barren, flat basin in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, about 90 miles north of Reno. On Saturday night, the sixth night of the event, a large wooden framework of a man is set ablaze as a non-spontaneous act of prior self-expression.

Each year, radical "artistic" weirdoes descend on the area to create a temporary community of self-reliance called Black Rock City, which gets bigger every year. Tens of thousands attend the annual festivities, which will commence on August 30 of 2010.

The participants are called "burners" and must have a high regard for creativity and a willingness to partake in a "gift-based" society. In other words, they must be unemployed social misfits with a propensity to frolic.

Black Rock City is confined within a circle with a 1.5 mile diameter. The wooden man, 80 feet tall (height varies each year), stands in the center and avenues extend from the structure to the perimeter of the circle.

Any gathering of thousands of self-expressive weirdoes would not be complete without merriment, music, street performances, interpretive dancing and guerrilla theatre, which take place from dusk to dusk. It's basically a collection of exhibitionists showing off, with no one to watch because everyone else is too busy showing off too.

Even in a temporary society where freedom of expression reigns supreme, there are rules. Cash transactions are prohibited (no flea market action) and underground barter is discouraged. The only commerce allowed is the sale of coffee and ice at the center of camp, maintained by the organizers, which provides funds for the event, including the rental of portable toilets and a contract bus shuttle service to the nearby town of Gerlach, Nevada.

Nudity, sexuality, profanity and weird behavior are all permitted. Fireworks, firearms and dogs are forbidden. The only vehicles allowed on the premises must be "art" cars (decorated up to weirdo-artistic standards).

A sample of the scheduled daily activities from a previous event includes:
7:00 a.m. – Playa Tai Chi
7:30 a.m. – Neuromuscular Integrative Action
8:00 a.m. – Regenerative Yoga
8:30 a.m. – Body Painting & Body Art
9:00 a.m. – Osho Dynamic Meditation
9:30 a.m. – Heavenly Yoga
10:00 a.m. – Reiki Massage & Crystal Healing
10:30 a.m. – Alternative Energy Walking
11:00 a.m. – Traditional Thai Massage

And so forth. Obviously, there's something for everyone, unless you're a fuddy-duddy regular person.

The festival is meant to be a venue of freedom of expression and non-conformity, yet the participants must conform to the etiquette (rules) of the community and behave in a certain manner in order to fit in. Even in the land of the weirdo, the cost of freedom includes hypocrisy, just as it does in the real world.

There is a fine line between non-conformity weirdness and ding-dong wild whacko. It's okay to be different, but not okay to infringe upon the freedom of others. Burning Man is all about building something, then destroying it. It's a metaphor for the madness of the world, freely expressed with bizarre behavior, rather than a game plan for life.

But in the end, Burning Man is simply a venue where non-conformists gather to conform to other non-conformists in order to carry out ritual human sacrifices from the distant past.

As usual, I won't be attending the festivities this year. I'll be busy cleaning my oven that week. Besides, I don't have to go all the way to Nevada to mingle with weirdoes – I live in Arkansas.

Non-conformity is just fine with me, but excessive weirdness is a lot like excessive insanity.

Quote for the Day -- "A man flattened by an opponent can get up again -- a man flattened by conformity stays down for good." Thomas J. Watson

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where weirdness blends in. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Snapping a Football

Football is all about time, distance, momentum, precision and the bounce of a misshaped ball -- physics for cheeseheads. It was basically invented to keep thugs off the streets. Like a romantic fling with a Capricorn, football is a contact sport -- you can get hurt but you enjoy it.

Football season is just starting. Some people think football is a matter of life or death. Actually, it's much more serious than that -- it's a man thing. Being a woman is of special interest only to aspiring transvestites. To actual women, it's simply an excuse not to like football.

A long snapper, also known as a deep snapper, is someone who hikes (tosses) a football, through his legs, backward, to a punter or to a player who will then hold the football on the ground for a field goal or extra point.

Becoming a long snapper is like embarking on an accidental journey with an unforeseen destination.

Cullen Loeffler attended high school in Ingram, Texas. He was a good student and a multi-sport jock.

In 1999, he enrolled at the University of Texas. His major was finance. He was also a 6-5, 242 lb. freshman tight end on the Texas Longhorns football team, a powerful college football program in the Big-12 Conference.

Texas opened the 1999 football season at home against North Caroline State. Texas was a heavy favorite to win, by double digits, but North Carolina State blocked three punts and upset the Longhorns 23-20.

After the game, the head coach told Loeffler it would be in his best interest to take up long snapping.

As a tight end, Loeffler was a decent collegiate player but not quite good enough for pro football. So he took his coaches advise and became the team long snapper his last three years in college.

Loeffler was no ordinary college student. His father, Tom Loeffler, had been a U.S. Congressman in 1980-86, representing the district that includes San Antonio. Tom Loeffler also ran for governor of Texas in 1986, and lost, then became a lobbyist. His circle of powerful friends included the Bush family (as in the Commander-in-Chief).

As a college student, Cullen was known to "hang out" with Jenna Bush (daughter of the president). "We're just friends," Loeffler claimed. Asked if he ever gave the president any advice, he said, "No, definitely not."

After his senior year in college, Loeffler was eligible as a rookie free agent to sign with a professional football team. He was considered to be the best long snapper available in the 2003 crop of collegiate rookie free agents.

A rookie free agent is a player who was not taken in the annual NFL college football draft (7 college players are chosen per team). Although long snappers are critical to the game of football, they are almost never drafted.

Loeffler's father, Tom the lobbyist, lives in San Antonio, near Red McCombs, owner of the Minnesota Vikings at the time. Tom Loeffler also rents one of his commercial real estate businesses through Red McCombs. Not too surprisingly, Cullen signed with the Vikings. Sometimes in this world, it's not what you know but who you know.

Rusty Tillman was the special teams coach for the Minnesota Vikings when Loeffler joined the team. "Cullen is the best long snapper I've ever been around," he declared. "Accuracy-wise and zip-wise, he's the best."

I was a computer programmer for 30-plus years. Accuracy-wise I was the best, but zip-wise I was only average.

Loeffler earned $310,000 in 2003, then soon signed a 5-year contract extension, through 2011, worth about $3.1 million. Being an outstanding long snapper, both accuracy-wise and zip-wise, definitely pays off.

The life of a long snapper isn't exactly glamorous. The quarterbacks are the heroes, running backs are the workhorses, receivers are the acrobatics, offensive linemen are the bulldozers and defensive players are the headhunters. But the long snappers are just long snappers. To the average fan, they don't even exist.

Moreover, long snapping comes with an element of risk. The long snapper leans over the football, with his head down, looking backward between his legs. As soon as he snaps the ball, a couple of rather large, macho dudes ram into him, trying to push his head back into his chest cavity rendering him unable to long snap again.

So if you want to be a football player but aren't good enough to be a starter, and are able to look backward between your legs, learn to be a long snapper. You won't have to be involved in too many plays and getting your uniform all messed up. Just don't snap the ball over the punter's head or you will soon become the team mascot.

Football is all about the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and impressing chicks. The quarterback always gets the good-looking cheerleader; and all the other players, including long snappers, scramble for the leftovers.

Being a long snapper is a lot like being the guy who inspects the landing gears on a jumbo jet – you're very critical to the success of the mission, but nobody knows who you are unless you screw up.

I was in high school in the Minneapolis area when the Minnesota Vikings came into being exactly 50 years ago. I have been bleeding purple ever since. The Vikings have been to four Super Bowls and lost all four. But that's okay because suffering builds character. And when you live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you need lots of character just to make it through winter.

Quote for the Day -- "Football combines the two worst things about America -- violence punctuated by committee meetings." George Will

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where most long snappers are long turtles. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Friday, August 13, 2010

He Who Speaks for Non-Physical Beings

Most modern religions are the result of claimed channeled material, which are thoughts believed to be outside a person's conscious mind, conveyed by a person who speaks for non-physical beings or spirits.

In the year 610 AD, the prophet Muhammad received a divine message from Allah to start a new religion. It would be called Islam.

A Muslim is an adherent to Islam. Sharia Law is the sacred law of Islam. Muslims believe Sharia is God's law. Sharia is derived from the divine revelations set forth in the Quran and by sayings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad

Over the next 22 years, Muhammed spoke for the non-physical being called Allah and the Muslim empire overtook the Arabian Peninsula. After Muhammed's death, the Muslim empire continued to expand into Africa and Europe over the centuries.

The Taliban is an Islamic political movement in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere that believes in strict enforcement of Sharia Law. For example, women are forced to wear the burga in public, not allowed to be educated, not allowed to work and not allowed to be treated by male doctors, unless accompanied by a male chaperon. Women face public flogging or execution for violation of Taliban laws.

On April 13, 2009, two young lovers, ages 21 and 19, attempting to elope were shot to death by a firing squad during a public execution outside a mosque in southern Afghanistan. They had fled their village, planning to start a new life together. The Taliban put the young couple on trial for crimes against Islam and executed them shortly thereafter.

"It was a very bad thing for these people to escape from their homes without permission and it is right that they should be punished according to Sharia law," explained Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, spokesman for the Taliban.

On August 6, 2010, 10 members of a humanitarian medical team traveling in Badakhshan Province in northern Afghanistan were brutally murdered by the Taliban. The team included 6 Americans, 2 Afghans, a German and a Briton. Three of them were women.

Among the bullet-riddled bodies was team leader Tom Little, an optometrist from New York, who had been living in Afghanistan for 30 years, supervising a network of eye clinics around the country, funded by private donations, and providing humanitarian medical services to Afghans in remote villages.

They were killed because they "were spying for the Americans and preaching Christianity," according to Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban.

Welcome to Afghanistan -- a disorganized, corrupt country of scattered, self-righteous rednecks with AK-47s.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is another Mecca of self-righteous fanatics. The Supreme Leader of Iran is Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamanenei. An Ayatollah is the same rank in the religion of Islam as a Bishop or Cardinal in Christianity. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls intelligence and security operations, and has the sole power to declare war or peace.

The President is the highest state authority. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians in order to ensure allegiance to the ideals of the Islam. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the current President of Iran.

In July of 2009, three American hikers from the University of California in Berkeley, all in their 20s, strayed into Iranian territory while on a hiking adventure in the mountains in the northern Kurdish region along the Iraq and Iran border. As of August 2010, they are still being held in jail, suspected by the Iranian Islamic government of being spies. After over a year of imprisonment, no charges have yet been filed and no trial date has been set.

Also in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a 43-year-old mother of two named Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is in jail, awaiting to be stoned to death for having an "illicit" relationship. She has already received 99 lashes for the crime of "adultery while being married." In addition, 12 other women await execution by stoning.

Of course, Islamic extremism isn't the only example of vile acts perpetrated upon humanity by a religion. Too often, organized religion is simply organized bigotry, sanctioned by an omnipotent non-physical spirit being.

The Roman Catholic Church, another religious organization that was created primarily based upon claimed channeled material of a non-physical being, went through an extended period called The Inquisition. This heinous practice spanned many centuries, including the Medieval Inquisition (1184-1230), the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821) and the Roman Inquisition (1542-1860). Thousands and thousands of those found guilty of disobeying church edicts, called heretics, were systematically imprisoned, tortured or burned at the stake.

In ancient Mesoamerican civilizations (Aztec, Toltec, etc.), human sacrifice was part of their religious culture. By sacrificing the life of a human being to one of their non-physical spirit beings, it allowed life to continue. The more important the request of the non-physical spirit being, the more thorough or plentiful the human sacrifice.

It is astonishing how far some people will go to please or "obey" their non-physical spirit masters. I know a couple who believe that if you are not a member of their specific denomination of their specific religion, you will for certain spend the remainder of eternity in hell. But if you are one of their narrow flock, you will spend eternity in a heavenly place.

Unfortunately, too many people worship the messenger and disregard the message. Perhaps instead of swearing obedience to non-physical spirit beings, it would be wiser to simply treat others as you wish to be treated -- with respect, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness and love.

While burning heretics at the stake and sacrificing virgins have disappeared from the scene, certain Islamic extremists continue to pursue their personal religious obligation to kill any human being who does not follow the commandments of their non-physical spirit being.

Over the years, many Muslims gradually adapted to Western ways, but others yearned for the rigid laws of the Quran. Hassan Al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1920s, predecessor to modern day Hamas and Al Qaeda, which reverted back to the strict teachings of Muhammad. The radicals felt Allah was angry with Muslims for straying from their true religious path. They perceived the Western influence to be a prison of the true believers, a punishment by Allah for betraying their religion.

The Muslim Brotherhood soon formed armed cells that attacked the "secular" government and its supporters. Today, this organization has hundreds of branches in over 70 countries worldwide. In the 1950s and 1960s, Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood invoked Jihad, a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty. Their goal is to create a worldwide Islamic paradise, eliminating every "non-believer" as their means to an end.

However, slaughtering people in order to create a paradise is like humping for virginity.

Today, innocent people are in a life or death struggle not of their choosing. Islamic extremists are attempting to exterminate anyone who does not adhere to their perverted interpretation of ancient channeled material.

But sometimes, solutions create problems. Afghanistan is primarily a "backward" rural country. The people tend to be united against outsiders and divided among themselves. It is not a wise place to conduct a military incursion. Stirring up a nest of vipers invariably leads to an increase in the veracity of the vipers.

There can be no positive outcome to the conflict in Afghanistan. The only winners will be the military-industrial complex and their New World Order financial backers who seek a one-world government controlled by a one-world police force. Everyone else on this planet is fodder for their ambitions and pawns in their game.

On the positive side, the Galactic Federation has quarantined Planet Earth from the rest of the universe. They already have enough problems with those nasty Reptilians and Grays. They don't want to deal with trigger-happy, non-physical-spirit-being-fearing earthlings too.

Beam me up, Scottie -- too much insanity on this spinning orb.

Quote for the Day – "The very purpose of this movement is to set human beings free from the yoke of human enslavement and make them serve the One and Only God." Sayyid Quth (Muslim Brotherhood)

Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and occasionally chats with non-physical beings or elm trees. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Being a Rock

When you're young you know everything. As you become middle-aged you tend to question everything. And when you get old you realize everything is so bizarre and ridiculous that it makes no sense at all.

It seems like every year, about this time, I have another birthday. If my new age doesn’t end in a zero, I try not to dwell on it too much. The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.

I usually spend much of the day listening to music, taking a retrospective trip down memory lane. Nostalgia isn't what is used to be, except on birthdays. It’s interesting how certain songs will trigger memories of specific segments of my life.

"We skipped the light fandango and turned cartwheels cross the floor
I was feeling kind of seasick, the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder and the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink, the waiter brought a tray
And so it was that later, as the miller told his tale
That her face at first so ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale"
(A WHITER SHADE OF PALE by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid)

Music is the language of the angels. When the right song hits you, you feel no pain. It brings splendor to loneliness and the heartbreak of love.

"If I were a carpenter and you were a lady
Would you marry me anyway, would you have my baby
If a tinker were my trade, would you still find me
Carrying the pots I'd made, following behind me
Save my love through loneliness, save my love for sorrow
I've given you my only-ness, come give me your tomorrow"

I was born at precisely the right time to suit my musical taste buds. When I became a teen-ager, a new musical style called rock-and-roll had just been invented, thrusting the whole country into a generation-gap frenzy. Teen-agers loved the beat, but everyone over thirty basically thought the world was about to come to an end. While many of my classmates in the late 50s and early 60s swooned over Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson, the Everly Brothers and Elvis, I tended to like the heavy hitters like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley.

"I walk 47 miles of barbed wire
I use a cobra snake for a necktie
I got a brand new house on the roadside
Made from rattlesnake hide
I got a brand new chimney made on top
Made out of a human skull
Now come on take a little walk with me, Arlene
And tell me, who do you love?"
(WHO DO YOU LOVE by Bo Diddley)

As years went by, my music taste expanded into the blues, including John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and many of the old-timers.

"Got me working, boss man, working 'round the clock
I want me a drink of water but you won't let me stop
Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call
Well, you ain't so big, you just tall, that's all"
(BIG BOSS MAN by Jimmy Reed)

When I was in college, I discovered folk music. Bob Dylan, Tom Rush, David Bromberg, Paul Simon -- profound hidden messages in the lyrics.

"Get born, keep warm, short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed, try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts, don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift"

Years passed and I became a working stiff in my 30s, into the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Credence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, George Thorogood, Taj Mahal, Canned Heat and Joy of Cooking.

"I'm going where the water tastes like wine
We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time"

I moved into the Hollywood Hills for a couple of years. Two of my closest neighbors were aspiring actor Harrison Ford and singer-songwriter Danny O'Keefe.

"Everybody's gone away
Said they're movin' to L.A.
There's not a soul I know around
Everybody's leaving town
Some caught a freight, some caught a plane
Find the sunshine, leave the rain
They said this town will waste their time
Guess they're right - it's wasting mine
Some gotta win, some gotta lose
Good Time Charlie's got the blues"

In my moody forties, I couldn’t get enough JJ Cale.

"I go down there every chance I get
It`s where my baby she met her death
And the river runs deep and the water is cold as ice
Ain`t no woman gonna make a fool out of me"

On occasion, I even found myself liking Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, The Doors, soft jazz and new age sounds.

"When I was just a baby, my mama told me, 'Son,
Always be a good boy; don't ever play with guns.'
But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry"

In my fifties, I became more conscious of the world around me.

"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded, everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed, the poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes, everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking, everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling, like their father or their dog just died"
(EVERYBODY KNOWS by Leonard Cohen)

Sometimes it doesn't matter if the lyrics make sense. If it sounds right, it is right.

"Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come
Corporation tee-shirts, stupid bloody Tuesday
Man, you've been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long
I am the eggman.
They are the eggmen.
I am the walrus.
Koo Koo Kachoo."
(I AM THE WALRUS by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

Basically, I can listen to music and reflect upon a time in my life when I first heard it. Every time I hear Sonny and Cher singing “I got you Babe,” I think about the woman I was seeing back then. The Rolling Stones remind me of my Army stint, while Simon and Garfunkel bring back my college days. And whenever JJ Cale does “Cajun Moon” or “The Fate of a Fool,” I remember my years living alone on a mountaintop, seeking answers to questions I hadn’t even thought of yet.

The purpose in life is to grow and I've been able to accomplish that in all directions, except vertically.

"I have my books and my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor, hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries"
(I AM A ROCK by Paul Simon)

Tuesday, August 10, is my birthday. Excuse me while I kiss the sky, and break on through to the other side.

Whiskey River don't run dry.

Koo Koo Kachoo.

Quote for the Day -- "Music in the soul can be heard by the universe." Lao Tzu

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where writing about music is like dancing about accounting. His blogs appear on several websites, including

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Events of 1980

Thirty years ago, in 1980, I was 35 years old, in the third year of my five-year marriage to a charming creature of the female persuasion. We lived in the Los Angeles area. She was a systems analyst at Lockheed and I was an independent computer contractor. Between disagreements, we argued a lot.

The following events took place in 1980.

Jan 1 -- The Federal minimum wage was raised to $3.10 per hour.

Jan 2 -- President Carter delayed the arms treaty ratification in response to USSR military action in Afghanistan.

Jan 7 -- President Carter signed a loan guarantee act to prevent Chrysler from falling into bankruptcy.

Jan 9 -- Saudi Arabia beheaded 63 people for their participation in a raid on a mosque.

Jan 11 -- Honda announced it would build Japan's first U.S. automobile assembly plant in Ohio.

Jan 16 -- Paul McCartney of the Beatles was arrested in Tokyo for marijuana possession.

Jan 20 -- President Carter announced the U.S. boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Jan 21 -- George H. W. Bush defeated Ronald Reagan in the Iowa Presidential Election Caucus.

Jan 21 -- Gold peaked at $875 per ounce. It would fall below $500 in less than two months.

Jan 23 -- President Carter made his State of the Union address, pledging to defend U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf, using military force if necessary.

Jan 24 -- In reaction to the USSR invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. announced the sale of military equipment, including weapons, to China.

Jan 25 -- Paul McCartney was released from jail in Japan and deported.

Jan 28 -- Six U.S. diplomats who had avoided being taken hostage at their embassy by Iranian militants in Tehran were flown out of Iran with the help of Canadian diplomats.

Feb 2 -- A prison riot in New Mexico left 33 inmates dead.

Feb 8 -- President Carter re-introduced draft registration for compulsory military service.

Feb 18 -- Pierre Trudeau's Liberal Party won Canada's elections.

Feb 22 -- The U.S. hockey team upset the Soviets in the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, and went on to win the gold medal.

Feb 22 -- Following a major uprising, Afghanistan declared martial law.

Feb 23 -- An explosion on an oil tanker off Greece caused a 37-million gallon spill.

Feb 26 -- Republican Ronald Reagan beat George H.W. Bush and Democrat Jimmy Carter beat Ted Kennedy in the New Hampshire primary for president.

Mar 2 -- Snow fell in Florida.

Mar 12 -- In Chicago, John Wayne Gacy was found guilty of the murders of 33 men and boys, found buried in his basement. The following day, he was sentenced to death. He was executed in 1994.

Mar 14 -- President Carter signed an Executive Order imposing government credit controls to reduce inflation, causing credit usage to plunge and the GDP to fall to the steepest quarterly drop in 50 years.

Mar 27 -- Mount St. Helens in Washington, dormant for 123 years, erupted with steam and ash. A crater formed at the summit and the north portion began to bulge.

Mar 27 -- An oil platform floating in the North Sea capsized, killing 123 workers.

Mar 31 -- In Burma, 200 demonstrators were shot to death by police.

Apr 7 -- During the hostage crisis, President Carter ordered all Iranian diplomats expelled from the USA and initiated economic sanctions against Iran.

Apr 11 -- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued regulations prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace.

Apr 14 -- At the Academy Awards, KRAMER VS. KRAMER won best picture, Dustin Hoffman won best actor and Sally Field won best actress for her role in NORMA RAE, uttering the immortal words, "you like me… you really, really like me" in her acceptance speech.

Apr 21 -- Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. She was disqualified when it was discovered she had entered the race about a mile from the finish line.

Apr 24 -- An American assault team, U.S. Delta Forces, attempted to rescue the embassy hostages in Iran but it failed when a plane collided with a helicopter, killing 8 U.S. servicemen.

Apr 30 -- Terrorists seized the Iranian Embassy in London. It was later learned that Iraq had trained and armed the militants in order to embarrass Iraq.

Apr 30 -- When Queen Juliana abdicated her throne, Beatrix Wihelmina Armgard was crowned Queen of the Netherlands.

Mar 6 -- At Stanford University in California, officials announced a successful collision of matter and anti-matter in their new $78 million accelerator.

May 9 -- In Tampa Bay, 35 motorists were killed when a freighter rammed a bridge, causing a 1,400-foot section of the bridge to collapse.

May 14 -- President Carter inaugurated the Department of Health and Human Services.

May 17 -- Riots in a black section of Miami claimed 18 lives.

May 18 -- Mount St. Helens erupted three times in 24 hours, leaving 57 people dead or missing.

May 20 -- In Jamaica, a fire in a nursing home killed 153 elderly women.

May 21 -- The first woman to graduate from a U.S. service academy accepted her degree and commission from the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

May 24 -- Iran rejected a judgment by the World Court in The Hague to release the U.S. hostages.

Mar 27 -- An uprising in South Korea ended with some 2,000 people killed.

May 29 -- Larry Bird beat out Magic Johnson as Rookie of the Year in professional basketball.

Jun 1 -- CNN, Ted Turner's Cable News Network made its debut.

Jun 20 -- Lake Powell, on the Utah-Arizona border, behind the Glen Canyon Dam, completed its fill after 17 years.

Jun 22 -- the USSR announced a partial withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Jul 9 -- In Brazil, seven people died in a stadium stampede to see the Pope.

Jul 17 -- In Detroit, Ronald Reagan won the Republican presidential nomination.

Jul 18 -- India became the eighth country to successfully launch a satellite to orbit the Earth.

Jul 19 -- The Summer Olympic Games began in Moscow, with many nations, including the USA, boycotting because of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

Jul 26 -- A failed assassination attempt on the Syrian President compelled Syrian security forces to kill hundreds of Islamist inmates at a prison.

Jul 30 -- The Israeli Knesset passed a law affirming all of Jerusalem as the capitol of the Jewish state.

Aug 2 -- In Italy, a Fascist bomb killed 85 people at a train station.

Aug 5 -- Hurricane Allen slammed into Haiti, killing more than 200 people.

Aug 14 -- President Carter was nominated for a second term at the Democratic national convention in New York City.

Aug 26 -- In California, all of Santa Cruz Valley was placed under quarantine because of the Mediterranean fruit fly invasion.

Aug 27 -- In Napa County, California, a gold deposit valued at $630 million was discovered near Lake Berryessa.

Sep 3 -- It was revealed that government officials had been aware for almost 20 years that nuclear waste containers dumped off the California coast were damaged and leaking.

Sep 12 -- In San Francisco, 20 tons of Colombian marijuana were found on two vessels, including Franklin D. Roosevelt's historical yacht. Sacks of weed were labeled "Crippled Children's Society of America."

Sep 22 -- Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq invaded Iran following a dispute over a waterway. The war would last for eight years.

Sep 23 -- Proctor & Gambol recalled Rely Tampons, which were linked to toxic shock syndrome.

Sep 24 -- It was revealed that the U.S. Air Force Reserve had been making weekly air drops of nuclear waste off the California coast in 1952-1967.

Oct 10 -- In Algeria, some 4,500 people died in two earthquakes.

Oct 23 -- The California Supreme Court upheld the state's death penalty.

Oct 30 -- U.S. Senator Harrison Williams (D-NJ) was indicted for accepting bribes in a sting operation, and later convicted.

Nov 4 -- Ronald Reagan was elected the fortieth president of the USA.

Nov 4 -- Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton lost his re-election bid for governor.

Nov 7 -- Steve McQueen died in Mexico at age 50.

Nov 19 -- CBS TV banned a Calvin Klein jean ad featuring Brooke Shields.

Nov 21 -- The TV show DALLAS episode titled "who shot J.R." was viewed by 83 million viewers.

Nov 21 -- In Las Vegas, 87 people died in a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel.

Nov 23 -- In southern Italy, some 2,600 were killed in a series of earthquakes.

Dec 1 -- IBM delivered its first prototype PC to Microsoft, selected to create the operating system, to be called MS-DOS.

Dec 8 -- John Lennon of the Beatles was shot and killed outside his NYC apartment building by a delusional schizophrenic. "Imagine all the people living life in peace."

Dec 11 -- The Massachusetts Secretary of State banned the sale of Apple Computer stock, arguing that the $22 per share was too high.

Dec 12 -- Apple Computer stock went public, with 4.6 million shares at $22 per share. It closed at $29 per share.

Dec 21 -- Iran requested $24 billion to free the 417 U.S. hostages.

Dec 31 -- The top two songs of 1980 were "Call Me" (Blondie) and "Another Brick in the Wall" (Pink Floyd).

All in all, 1980 was just another brick in the wall. It wasn’t perfect, but it never is on the Planet of Wounded Souls.

Quote for the Day -- “Government doesn't solve problems -- it subsidizes them." Ronald Reagan

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the more things change, the more they stay the same. His blogs appear on several websites, including