Richard J. Geib

I wish all readers of this webpage peace, happiness,
freedom, and good fortune in their life's journey!

Welcome to my web page! Inside this website can be found more information about me than surely a person would ever want to know. Why would anyone want to know all this stuff about me? Well, I don't know! Perhaps it is the voyeur in me, but I myself enjoy reading about other people and their thoughts and experiences on the World Wide Web - probably enjoy it more than I would in meeting them personally. I have therefore designed my home page to reflect what I like in other people's webpages. At any rate, feel free to browse and view what you like.

About the Author | Family | Friends | Heroes | Music | Literature | Work
My Sordid Past | Thoughts Worth Thinking

     What else about me? I am a lover of books and reading and writing perhaps more than anything else; there is no holier place in the world for me than a bookstore. I believe in manners and in being a gentleman until given no other alternative. I believe in the common man in the Walt Whitman sense who is a comrade of all free men and women "who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat." ("a learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest"). I think that no matter who you are or what you do you should strive to be the best - or at least do the best you can do (it is the school teacher in me, I guess). I truly think mankind is an irreparably fallen creature, but I am continually amazed at the kind and generous individuals I meet in this world (both online and off). I have good health, a loving family, and loyal friends for which above all things I consider myself a lucky man. Although I have only just celebrated my 32nd birthday, I have seen some pretty strange things and been to some crazy places so far in my life.

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      Oh, yeah, I'm a geek. Not in the coke bottle glasses or pocket protector sense of the word but in the common usage of today's digital generation. The geeks will inherit the earth, so you'd better watch your step, pal.

      Are you a geek? Do you find yourself discussing computer operating systems with your friends over dinner? Do you get excited about the newest releases of software applications or the hottest blazing fast processors on the market? Do you forgo sleep to resolve challenging computer problems or to navigate unknown corners of cyberspace? Do arrogant politicians trying to extend speech codes onto the Internet drive you to distraction? Well, then you too may be a geek.

      I am a believer in the "digital revolution" that is occurring today in the United States and throughout the world. I don't subscribe to all that futurist "your-life-will-be-so-much-better" or "life-as-we-know-it-will-change" stuff, but I do think networking computers has the potential to facilitate communication among us humans and make the world a smaller place. However, people (you and I) are going to have to convert what is by itself only an artificial aggregate of silicon chips and optical fiber into an environment full of all the richness of real life. Putting up this webpage is my own small step towards making cyberspace a truly "human" medium.

      We all hear what the politicians, journalists, religious authorities, celebrities, and "experts" have to say; I am curious to hear what you have to say, and I would like to share with you what I think. As Henry David Thoreau described, "It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to listen." In this manner, I am optimistic that the World Wide Web can foster democracy of thought and greater understanding amongst peoples.

      I am an admittedly opinionated person and I strongly believe in certain things - growing up in my household it was encouraged to take a position and argue and defend it well. Don't agree with something I have to say in my webpages? Reason out an argument, write it down carefully, and e-mail me your thoughts. Who knows? You might just change my mind! I am fully ready to admit error if so convinced by thoughtful and insightful persuasion, and I bring an open mind to all issues. Opinion is free, and disagreement is legitimate; ready to refute, I stand ready to be refuted -- and so I hope to learn from my readers of this webpage, whatever it is they have to teach! When it comes to the most important questions in life, there never will be a "last word" beyond which nothing more can be said.

      In this spirit, I encourage you to make your own webpages. I greatly enjoyed creating this website through a thousand careful modifications, additions, and clarifications. And probably nobody visits it as much as I do - to often read some literature, poems, and other works of art which hold special importance for me, re-live some of the happier moments in my past, remember the lives of particularly inspiring persons, or look at photos of my recently deceased mother, etc. in a private moment of reflection. I would have written these webpages with pleasure even if I were the only person to ever see them; creating them forced me to organize my thoughts and define exactly where I have been, what I believe in, and where I want to go in the future. They contain a good portion of what gives meaning and purpose to my life. Create your own website, and don't just put up fluff with no real content like many do but make it an insightful and unique expression of yourself and your beliefs. As Bertrand Russell's last lines written for public consumption, written three days before his death, claim: "There is an artist imprisoned in each one of us. Let him loose to spread joy everywhere!" Benjamin Franklin, in his own way, similarly tells us, "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead & rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." Partake in the joy of creation and do or make something beautiful where before there was nothing. Turn off your TV before your brain turns to guacamole and do it now!


      One of the many reasons I cannot stomach to watch TV is that I truly think the television, motion picture, and record company executives have contempt for the viewer/listener. They don't care about you as a human being or about the quality of what they show but only care about you as a consumer. They want to make money off you. I think they would put mud and sewage in cans and market it if they thought it would sell. In my webpages, I want you to read and think and hopefully find something useful or beautiful (and it will be a cold day in hell before an advertisement appears on one of my pages). I fully agree with the Abbé Suger who claimed back in the 12th century: "It is only through symbols of beauty that our poor spirits can raise themselves from things temporal to things eternal."

      Writers crave thoughtful attention, and I am sure any reader who patiently delves through my various sections will find nuggets of gold worth their time and effort. If even a minority of those who visit my pages find something that pleases or prompts them to think, then I would consider it well worth my time and money to have created this site - the product, in one form or another, of literally years of work on my behalf. Please enjoy it in this spirit. :-)

      I have tried to write these webpages - especially the Thoughts Worth Thinking and Heroes sections - as something that human beings would find interesting 50 or 500 years from now: some famous art, poetry and epic ideas from history, as well as the thoughts, times and trials of a man who loved, lost, learned, was embittered in life, but ultimately greatly appreciated his time on this earth.

"The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


      I am a moderate and pragmatic Republican who will vote for anyone from any party who I think speaks common sense. Without any good alternative, I voted uneasily in the last election for George Bush; how I regret that now! I have never regretted voting for a president as much in my life. It seems whoever comes after George will have to spend much of their term trying to clean up his mess -- no worries, and please focus on the below countdown clock --

-- left until we have a new president and a new era in American politics can begin.

      Still I wonder if a new president will make any difference. There is a shrillness and stridency to those who would wage "cultural jihad" in the name of their vision of America, and it bodes ill for a nation whose pragmatism and ability to build consensus have yielded a political stability rare in modern times. Let's take the relatively few religious whackos on the far right and the "race-class-gender" bozos on the extreme left and let them yell at each other -- ignored by the rest of the population.

Disagreement among ourselves is neither a vice nor a source of weakness; however, caustic incivility and dogmatic intolerance in the public discourse are poison to a democracy. In my opinion, too many people yell at each other in the United States today. People yelling at each other solves nothing.

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was
a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
John Adams

Rich Geib words to live by:

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture,
and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

- Johan Wolfgang Goethe

The time is here in Southern California.
What time is it where you are?

Cute comic image of a mouse using a man       I'd love for you to let me know you were here, and I've made it as simple for you as I can by offering a small comment card. If your web browser doesn't support forms, or you prefer standard e-mail, you can send a message to I enjoy receiving e-mail for just about any reason. I get about 10 or 12 unsolicited e-mails a day off this webpage from all over the world, and if for no other reason this makes having constructed it worth the trouble. Feel free to drop a line just to say "hi" and tell me how life is treating you.

      I respond happily to persons who e-mail me requesting specific information and/or help. However, the quality and extent of my response corresponds directly to the thoughtfulness and/or extent of the question. Requests for basic information and/or facts that can easily be found elsewhere on the World Wide Web, if the correspondent were not so lazy, will be ignored (Memo to such persons: SEARCH ENGINES! Use them. They work). Requests for me to outline the effect of the French Revolution on Western Civilization, the legacy of Thomas Jefferson on subsequent American political life, the ramifications of the Reformation on European political organization, or some other similarly extensive topic will be ignored since any reasonable answer would take hours of work and I am as busy as anyone else. Yet another request by a student to analyze a simple poem immediately ("My teacher wants it by tomorrow, so please respond soon!") will join the 10,000 other such requests unanswered. And the occasional e-mail asking me to send a total stranger a fully completed term paper will be deleted in disgust! Conversely, a thoughtful, brief, and interesting question will provoke an answer of similar nature on my behalf - that is if I know the answer to the question! I am not an encyclopedia but sometimes I think people think otherwise. Pique my interest and you will get a good response. And be polite. Please.

      I get some pretty strange e-mail. If you send me something strikingly stupid, be prepared to have your eyebrows singed by epochal flaming and to be held up to public ridicule. With such an churlish e-mail, you will deserve it (although I will change your name and e-mail address before posting). Take some time to write clearly me your thoughts with something approaching artistry and insight, if at all possible. As Dr. Samuel Johnson poignantly observed, "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." That is an observation worth keeping in mind. "The opinions of most people," claimed the ancient philosopher Heraclitus, "are like the playthings of infants." Prove yourself to be different.

      I spend maybe an hour or two on-line everyday. This includes checking and responding to any e-mail, listening to the nightly news at National Public Radio and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, while I routinely check the latest breaking news at CNN. I then quickly check out the op/ed page at the New York Times to get the East Coast perspective. Next, I cruise over to Intellectual Capital or PBS's Frontline for interesting investigative articles and analysis and to Salon for any op/ed pieces that catch my eye from the quirky Web perspective; I almost always find something well worth reading in those outstanding periodicals. There is no need to check out the local L.A. Times site since I religiously read that newspaper (the actual newsprint copy) cover to cover every day. The real reading of my day, however, comes when I sit down after dinner and focus my full concentration on the most recent editions of the New York Review of Books or London Times Literary Supplement; subscriptions to these two publications together equals almost $200 per year but it is worth twice that amount to me! Unlike other magazines that try to cover profoundly complex world events in a spare eight paragraphs, they perform the intellectual "heavy lifting" required to deal with such phenomenon in all the sophistication and complexity they require. Good stuff! Any remaining time I usually spend writing more of this webpage, an activity that just eats up the hours. Finally, I settle into bed to read a book that has been waiting for me since I left for work in the morning. To know a good book awaits me at the end of the day makes more supportable the frustrations and hardships life inevitably brings with it. "I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage," claimed the Baron de Montesquieu. Neither have I known such a trouble, nor in my life regretted the hour spent in reading and thinking.

      But in adult life I have found time (or the lack of it) has become very important to me, and so I try not to waste it. As Benjamin Franklin poignantly put it, "Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the stuff Life is made of." The mantra of America is that winning is everything and time is money so don't squander it. But time is love, in my opinion - it is your treasure! So isn't it best spent on what you love and treasure? As you have been given only a certain amount of heartbeats in this life, how you spend them is everything. People often complain to me they would like to read a certain famous book or write the Great American Novel, if only they could afford the time! It is not about affording the time; it is about choosing to afford the time. It is about deciding what is most important in life, making priorities, and then sticking to them. It is about actively taking charge of your life and figuring out what you believe instead of being a passive, empty vessel to be filled by others.

      If you were given only a week left to live, what regrets would you have as you reviewed your life? Have you lived the life you always wanted to live? Of what would you be proud? Of what ashamed? Did you become the person you always wanted to be? I think it medicinal to live with your demise and death never far from mind, and to live in such a way as to regret as little as possible when that moment arrives -- as it will, sooner or later. Think of your epigraph, and then work backwards. If you want to be an good person, be a good person. If you want to be an interesting person, be an interesting person. Live as if you were always in the presence of a great and admired figure, and conduct your affairs in such a way that when it comes times to die you can truly say you have not lived in vain. But do you even want to be a "good" person? Do you want to be "interesting"? Who are your heroes? The Oracle at Delphi commands: "Know thyself!" But who are you? Who am I? These are not idle questions.

      Nowadays we are literally bombarded by media advertisements and queries telling us who we should be, what we should buy, and how we should live. Everyone has something to sell whether it be a product, an image, or a message; and they are most importunate in seeking your attention and letting you know it. "This" is the music everyone listens to, they tell you, and "that" is the show the "in crowd" watches -- and pay attention, for everything will change tomorrow if not sooner! "This" is the "cool" lifestyle everyone wants, and "that" is what you need to fit in and be "popular." This politician is selling himself, and that think tank is promoting its pet points of view -- be informed, stay on the cutting edge! Junk mail, snail mail, TV commercials, network sitcoms, newspaper editorials, radio jingles, roadside billboards, flyers left on your car windshield, sales inducements left at your front door, raw information free by the reams on the Internet, a thousand different points of view over the World Wide Web! The modern "digital" American, it has been estimated, is exposed to more information in a single day than a medieval European peasant was in a lifetime; and as our culture seems to have accelerated in the past few years, so has our confusion and sense of disorientation. What to buy? What to do? Where to live? Who to trust? What to believe? Who to believe? Who to be? Access to information brings to a person choices which means the inevitable decisions -- and too many choices and decisions can be as stultifying and enervating as too few! Managing the barrage of media bits that bounce off of my brain every day is just one of the challenges I face in trying to live a responsible and fulfilling life; and as the speed of the barrage increases and info-glut threatens to overwhelm me, so increases my responsibility to manage it all effectively. But it takes time and energy to manage, and time and energy are the precious currency of our lives.

      Ah, being alive today can be so difficult! Technology and the prickly hurly-burly of the outside world can overtake and control your life, if you let it. But you always have the option of unplugging the phone, hiding your beeper, turning off the computer, and throwing your television out the window -- if only for a few hours! You can choose to go for a walk in the park, meet friends for dinner, or crawl into bed with a good book. You can look beyond the here and the now to find what you need. You can choose to refuse to let others define you. So in facing a sometimes overwhelming amount of choices on how to spend my time and energy, I make the choices I am explaining right now -- no complaints! I strenuously try to keep my life as simple as possible, holding close to the core. Rarely without anything to do, rarely do I let myself be rushed. Often alone, seldom am I lonely.

      Certain visitors to my webpages have complained that modern music and "popular" culture seems to play little or no role in my life, and they are correct in this. Let me be frank in that I care little or nothing about the opinions and personal lives of vacuous actresses, rock stars, or celebrity athletes and all the gossip-mongering and thrill seeking that surrounds them like flies swarming around garbage and which litters the newsstands and crowds the broadcast airwaves -- seemingly occupying so much of our society's attention in a commercial culture which could hardly be more intrusive or annoying. In short, I scrupulously ignore what I think is trash, a skill I have honed over a lifetime. In my heart I have gone into a sort of self-exile from my own country and its "consumer" culture, although I do not tilt at windmills in open rebellion as do some. I try to go about my business quietly in seeking that which gives meaning and dignity to life. I would (if I could find the skill!) choose to live so as to make myself worthy of happiness (and maybe even be happy!). To try to live this "good life" (as the ancient philosophers defined it) is a never-ending struggle, but it is a struggle well worth while. And therein I don't believe I live so differently than did those I admire most from 200 or 2,000 years ago, notwithstanding the obvious changes in our external circumstances, even if I live with so much less distinction and success than did they. In the early 17th century, Ben Jonson wrote the following: "What a deale of cold busines doth a man mis-spend the better part of life in! In scattering compliments, tendring visits, gathering and venting newes, following Feastes and Playes, making a little winter-love in a darke corner." I hope never to live that way, unless it is quite unavoidable.  "Don't follow in the footsteps of the masters," advises the Zen saying, "but seek what they sought."  That is good advice.

      And so I conscientiously avoid aimless Web wandering, as it is a rapacious time devourer and hardly any better for you than channel surfing the idiot tube (AKA the TV) or breathing in opium. I do check out, however, the web pages of any and all persons who e-mail me in an attempt to know more about with whom I am communicating. :-) But I keep my on-line time to a minimum and spend as much time as possible curled up in bed relaxing with a good book. To relax and enter into the narrative of a good book is for me a pleasure rarely surpassed! It is to escape the prison of one's self, the tyranny of the here and now. It is to understand today better through the prism of yesterday. Good books are how the dead speak to the living, and their reading is how you and I participate in the great conversation of humanity. To read is to travel across time to hear the voices of the sages and bards, to pronounce judgment on the high and mighty, to succor the afflicted, and to afflict the wicked. It is to be alone never and bored rarely. Enough said!

Intel Inside - Pentium Power!       For the record, Windows XP is my operating system. The older and busier I get, the less I care about the minutiae of computers and become even less interested in learning them. I want to get my work done as quickly and painlessly as possible; and whether the computer is running on Linux, Wintel, or Mac OS is strictly of secondary importance. (I have always esteemed much more the ability to construct graceful prose or verse than to code software, anyway.) I have little invested personally in the caustic "holy wars" between Apple and Microsoft machine advocates. (Is there anything more obnoxious than a militant Mac fan? My roommate is a perfect example of this!) I personally prefer Wintel machines because of the naked power it offers and the relative stability, but software preference has a lot to do with personal taste. Ultimately, I see not much difference between the two platforms - they are just stupid command obeying machines in the end! Please just give me the latest most powerful model of either type. 'Nuff said.


      Everyone made a big deal about IBM's "Big Blue" computer defeating chess master Gary Kasparov in New York a couple of years ago. I was relatively unimpressed and strongly suspect this feat had more than anything else to do with the skill of the computer programmers coupled with massive number crunching power.

      Impressed? Let a computer come teach one of my classes full of contumacious 13-year olds. Let a computer solve a marital dispute or fix the Los Angeles city public school system. Let a computer come up with an original idea. Let a computer write a poem worth reading. Let a computer console an old man on a cold winter's night. Then we'll talk about being impressed.

      This page and all my others are best viewed with Netscape 3.x or higher, although I grudgingly admit they look just fine with MS Internet Explorer. However, I've determined that browsers like Mosaic and or, God forbid!, the AOL or Prodigy browsers, or the Netcruiser trash simply don't do it justice at all. It frankly frightens me when I see how many America Online people visit my website each month and then speculate how badly my pages must look to them!

      If you are using Firefox or MS Explorer and it still doesn't look right to you, try matching my environment by using a 800x480, 16-bit monitor. Most of my pages are designed to float in at least 800 pixels of width, but larger layouts should also work just fine.

Swami and snakefollow Mozilla to Firefox!

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