Monday, April 6, 2020

Softening My Image

Part 6 of 30

These viral times are indeed trying times. I went out to mow my yard for the first time since winter and it took 30 pulls at the handle, nearly to no avail till, finally, it turned over and started. I was starting to sweat from embarrassment, not wanting the neighbors to see me in such a state of futility. Then there’s the virus, and children perhaps in all kinds of trouble, I don't know the full extent of the danger, but, forget about it, it's not good.

But it's not all bad. I give thanks for my neighbor, one of the Pavlona sisters from the old country. She used to travel quite a ways, not just around the three county area but out in the pretty far flung areas in a carriage. Her dad was one of the good old traveling minstrel types who could con the gullible out of their life savings, a fascinating thing. So Marie's one of the few neighbors I trust intrinsically, because she was totally upfront about her scheming thieving past and said indeed it was past. I put a 5 dollar bill on my dresser once in a while to test her, but of course she’s on to that old ruse.

These are the people, some of the neighbors -- the children and Marie Pavlona -- I have in my heart in these depressing days of this terrible virus. The children, naturally I want them to walk freely and to run and play freely. And Marie, she holds me in her prayers, she says, and someone with such a checkered past, if she says she’s praying for me, I believe it. That’s really the way it goes with folks like her. They may lie through their teeth when it comes to conning someone, but when they’re your friend they’re as good as gold. And kids can be the same way, usually conniving little monsters, but these kids, her extended family -- they’ve had nothing for so long -- they’re simply good. But offer one of them a fudge brownie and you better have one for the others! Fudge brownies are always a hit.

I mention all these children and Marie not so much for their own goodness, etc., but to soften up my image for you the readers. A few of you, according to the comments, think I appear to be “cold and aloof," I guess when it comes to stuff like that, and things about the virus, which I do take seriously. I have a mask, true story. And I want to assure you and put your mind to ease that I’m really an old softie. Which you about have to be when east European Roma are your friends; they’ll do anything for you. And then, naturally, the kids, every one a born thief but lovable as pumpkin pie.

Anyway, in these sad days of the virus -- dire days! -- it’s good to keep your friends close, etc., and look out for one another. Remembering, it should be remembered, to wash your hands and use about a gallon of antiseptic on everything they touch. It’s actually better to keep the kids outside or at least at arm's distance, wiping down any touched surface and all the rest to keep them from infecting me. These are things I’ve learned at the grocery store, which just recently put up an industrial strength plexiglass wall between the cashier and the customer. Prayers for them too.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Politics Rears It's Ugly

Part 5 of 30

For such a tragic affair and life as we know it up in the air, it was wonderfully inspiring to know that some things are locked in place, secure, and just as we knew them to be. Part of the inspiration is having certain things we can count on, no surprises, the foundations we take for granted securely set.

After all, what would it be like if we couldn’t count on anything staying the same? It’s hard to imagine, really, that anything could be in such disarray that all of our suppositions would be in question. The facts of life as we know them. Were it that bad we would’ve given up, thinking there’s nothing we can do about it, the foundations have crumbled.

But as it turns out, we needed not fear that all hope was lost. Those among our betters came through just when we needed them. Throwing off all restraint -- and they could’ve been so tightly held down as to be unable to breathe -- they muscled their way through the pain and suffering toward, perhaps one last, free-for-all for their most ardent supporters, not to mention themselves, putting Number One ahead of all and reminding us how things stand.

This was great, because the crumbling foundations -- aforementioned -- might not have held long enough for their great task to be accomplished. And to think of them going at it with the diligence they had, we’re reminded of what a potential sacrifice it was to muscle their way through -- with all the stick-to-it-tiveness of baby pigs seeking those life-giving nipples of the mother sow that their nourishment should not be denied. I used to see it at farms in the neighborhood, actually to great extremes. Did you know that if you slip in a pigpen you can be eaten? It’s true, I lost two classmates like that, a downer for the birthday boy who had us out to his farm for the party.

But when you have a party -- getting back to our topic -- that’s when you can really have a party. “These are desperate times! If we don’t act now -- and I mean with everything we have -- it’ll be too late.” And God forbid anyone get in their way. If the confusion of a viral plague isn’t enough cover to suck up whatever there is to be had, there will never be cover at all. This is the time to rise up, and with everyone’s sight obscured from the confusion of seeking shelter, managing the ins and out of quarantine, and scheming to get just one more roll of toilet paper, the time is right for government to quench their thirst (temporarily) for more more more.

Stand back, there’s more incoming, a turgid blast, nothing held back, obscuring the way, and like we said, providing cover for whatever rapine there is to be had, basically whatever is left to claim.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Still A Dangerous World

Part 4 of 30

I’ve given a lot of thought about what a dangerous world we have, and that was before the virus. And if this wasn’t the only thing we had, I’d say check out Option #2. That's what they used to do when they got sick and tired of where they lived -- Columbus. They sailed off to find something better. The big trouble with that approach is that after you've found everything here, there’s nowhere else to look.

I watch a lot of space shows on YouTube and there’s literally nowhere else to go, with a couple caveats. There’s the moon, which is essentially uninhabitable unless you want to live in an 800-pound spacesuit, with one advantage being the gravity is so horrible 800 pounds is manageable to get around in but completely lacks comfort. And there’s lots of other planets, but they're all so far away that just getting there is pretty much a death sentence. Our hopes of a space federation, a federation of planets, at this point is just crazy talk.

Even if we found a decent planet, and gone so many light years away to do it, it’d be the 100th generation of the people who left earth who’d govern and inhabit it once the mission was complete -- they’d no doubt be pining for the green green grass of home they never knew and spend a hundred generations getting back. I myself am already past my prime and couldn't make it. At this point I’m just a fizzled out nothing, barely able to crawl out of bed, especially with this virus creeping around The Big City.

So outer space is off the table. The best we can do is settle back into the local vibe, the things of earth, and tune into it as best we can, with the mystic OM underlying the whole thing, and the ever-fascinating mother and father the earth has been for millennia. If it weren’t for this virus, and the last virus, and the virus before that, and the virus we’ll have a few years from now, it’d be paradise. But it gladdens me that we’re doing our best. At least I hope this is our best. If we could do better but we’re not on purpose, that’d be sabotage, and I don’t know, we’re not going to get anywhere that way. Try harder, people!

Think of our society as the folks on that that exploring boat. They needed a common goal: “We’re going THAT way. If you’re not going THAT way, we’re going to throw you overboard, and save our provisions, including toilet paper.” The dangers of the world when it comes to sea serpents, monsters of the deep, and all lurking monsters of any size, even microscopic, like viruses, are such that we need the same spirit. Because viruses are not discriminating when it comes to trouble. But I'm sure we'll all make it! We hope for the best.

I guess I’ll say no more on this doctrine, a form of government among the more dangerous elements. (It’s not really a doctrine but a riff.) You’re on this mission to outer space (even though we’re staying here), get with the program, or … Next Stop, The Deep. You must have known the terms when you were born here. You stepped forward and made that decision. Again, get with the program.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Perfect Strangers


Part 3 of 30

So far we're early in the virus coverage and I don’t know anyone personally that’s succumbed to it. I don’t even know anyone who’s had it, at least that I've heard. But the fear is always that someone you know will show up, coughing, hacking, and complaining of it. Or you yourself.

I’m like everyone, just trying to avoid it as best I can. But I see the statistics on TV like everyone and know that most of those people were also responsible people. They weren’t doing stupid things, the equivalent of running into traffic without looking. They listened to the advice of how to watch out for it. They were probably avoiding as best they could people who might breathe on them and all the rest.

I don’t even remember all the rules. I just figure if I get in a situation and it raises red flags, either this, I’m too late, or if I make tracks and might still be free and clear. To the extent that common sense will make a difference, I have some. But mistakes are hard to avoid. With many thousands infected, with the numbers going up everyday regardless of precautions. I’m technically not any better than anyone else, although I have massive paranoia generally speaking. I’m banking on some of that helping me. Anything that takes 5 minutes could be done in 3 minutes which could probably also be done in 1 minute. Time is of the essence. When your paranoid red flashers are going off, listen to them.

But they’re even having trouble in Congress! Suddenly it’s going to be hard to get a quorum, if that’s an actual thing. I’d guess it’s like everything else, the rules always stretch pretty far if it’s a terrible danger. But if even Congress is in danger, what hope is there for the rest of us? The carts at the grocery store, infected. The door’s are automatic, so that ought to be OK. You have to touch the debit card machine, and I haven’t seen anyone wiping it down. The old gold hoarders and cash guys were right after all. But cash might not be that safe, unless someone’s cleaning it. Just thinking of it’s scaring me.

So far, though, so good. I feel fine, cough cough. Nothing seems to be running completely amok, just a little throat-clearing. There’s a few dead birds on the porch, but are we susceptible to avian flu? And … other problems … up the yin-yang.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

When Disaster Strikes

Part 2 of 30

I’ve gotten a lot of nice messages from you, the readers, and I thank you: “Stay healthy, Mr. Slump,” “Hope Grandma’s OK during this challenging time,” and the number one comment, some variation on “If there’s a scam for making money on this thing, cut me in,” that sort of thing. First, I’m not a Slump, that’s my mother’s side of the family. Second, Grandma died years ago of unrelated causes. And, third, any “scam” you may be thinking of, I’d never be part of any such thing. I learned my lesson during the chlamydia scare in the '80s and I swear I’ll never sell another brass wristband. They send you away for stuff like that.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not “dissing” any of you or “pissing” on your hopes for a quick profit. So don’t be so sensitive. But if there's any value in diseases and viruses it's to bring out our compassion for one another in suffering and pray to the saints that we don’t catch it. There indeed is a certain built-in economic thing, but it’s not for questionable sideline businesses to spring up to take advantage of it, only necessary things pharmaceuticals to make good medicine, etc. You could be helpful, though, if you see any of the big pharmaceuticals selling brass wristbands, let me know. But I seriously doubt that'll happen.

Instead of hoping to profit, I hope all of us will have the kind of feelings that do people good in the days of disasters. That’s what I hope for. I haven’t taken that path yet -- I’ve spent a lot of my time studying up on the issues in order to give you good counsel through these blog posts. Between now and the end of the month, I hope to put enough good information out there that perhaps -- just perhaps -- can help save the world and do a lot of other good, no strings attached. It’d do me a lot of good to hear our brave leaders -- and I accept tweets -- letting me know it was these posts that pulled everyone through.

So that’s what I mean when I say, "When Disaster Strikes -- It’s usually someone else’s problem." That’s true. The average citizen steps back and lets “someone else” take the lead. And we think that’s always effective, useful. But what if “someone else” doesn’t show up. What if “someone else” is busy feathering his own nest? Or what if “someone else” is in over his head without a clue in the world? That’s when we need a different “someone else” to get the job done, and hopefully not be up to his nuts in graft while doing it.

So join me in wishing the world well in these tough times. Of course it’s a disaster, and of course it’s someone else’s problem, but what if I catch it? I’m not Superman, it could happen. Like everyone, I hope not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Follow The Light

Part 1 of 30

Everyone knows nature doesn’t mess around. When particular combinations of things come together, there’s consequences. In many cases, the combinations are great for us or OK or adequate, fair to middlin', and sometimes pisspoor. Beans, sauce, and chili powder make chili, the prime example of a combination that’s great. Put in a little hamburger and it’s to die for. Then there’s a whole range of OK or adequate combinations: Stripes and solids in clothing, air and lungs in breathing, pencils and pens in schools, and steves and dores in loading or unloading ships.

Our lives depend on good combinations of things coming together in a good way. At Grandma’s place we used to go out and manually pump our water and bring it in the house for everyone to drink. Back then we either didn’t have viruses or were just too dumb to realize we did, but everyone drank with a common ladle out of the same bucket. It’s still interesting to me that no one ever got sick or died. But who knows? If the wrong person had come in and taken a drink, then died, they might’ve sued us big-time. (That was the same house I later lived in with Grandma, but since then it’s rotted away and was hauled to the dump and now I live in the Big City. But one day I was back in the old ‘hood and the pump’s still there, now as a decorative item.)

The combination of things we’re interested in these days involve the virus and making sure we don’t come into contact with it. Certainly no one’s drinking from the same ladle. We’re a lot more careful now, and no one more so than me. Now, I'm a huge germaphobe -- virus or no virus -- but I wasn't as a kid. But a guy gets a little bit of knowledge and it makes a huge difference. Anytime I’m with anyone I’m very watchful of them. If they touch something, that registers. Not so much because of the virus, but that’s just how it is. But now with the virus, of course I'm more mindful. I hate going to the grocery store or really anywhere. I don’t mind taking a walk, but if I meet anyone, or see them coming a mile away, I’m busy making preparations for how I’m going to get the hell out of there.

One of these days, though, whether the virus is still around or not, there’s going to be something, hopefully just internal normal stuff and not a combination of good and bad that could’ve been avoided that’s going to take me, your faithful scribe, out of this good old earth. But don’t worry, I’ve got enough life insurance for a fit burial, a small combo, trumpet and kazoo, the best cardboard urn money can buy, and incongruously a few phone numbers for the most economical crematories, with their great mottos: “We Put The Ashes in ‘Ashes to Ashes’” and my favorite, “This Ain't Hell, Just A Cremation.”

Later, the soul is busy flitting its way to its reward, upward and onward! Ride like the wind! All a guy has do is “Follow the Light, They'll Get Me There.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

My Dog Safe With Buddha

When they came out with the latest virus, naturally I was concerned. What am I going to do, drop dead with all the other losers? I always heard it growing up, “Get your exercise. If you don’t, you’ll deserve what you get.” By which they didn’t mean all the girls or boys, but a short life, a sudden death, maybe dangling from a rope.

My concerns are like everyone’s. I came into the world a few years back, relatively speaking. My memory’s hazy on the subject, but there were apparently 15 billion years when I wasn’t here, but which had already completely ended. Then, after that vast span, I popped into the world and since then have hung on for dear life. Saying, “I will not go willingly back into the void. I’m here, deal with it!” This I’ve said through times of war and peace, and I turned out to be such a good draft dodger that I was able to dodge all the charges. With some regret, if you remember my pitiful longing for the service in my post, “The Drill Sergeant I Never Had.”

My big problem with the virus these days is, What’s going to happen to my dog if it happens to me?” My current dog I got on a fluke. Her mother was in the yard minding her business when a smaller dog got through a crawlspace in the fence and consummated their brief relationship. Yielding five puppies, one of which was mine. So it was someone else’s problem and we’ve been joined at the hip now all these years. Had I been a block away, had I not answered the phone that day, we would’ve never met.

But we did, and we’ve had a special bond since then. I’ve seen her through many things, learning to love dog food, etc., and I get her the best. We have to keep going. I’m all she’s got, but with my advanced years naturally I worry what could happen. Now, then, there’s a virus going around that threatens people of my demographic, older gentlemen who breathe and touch their faces. The store’s even out of paper towels, that’s how hard up we are. Because I use paper towels to clean up my dog’s poop. And suddenly they’re more precious than gold.

Anyway, have I mentioned, I can’t die! Because what would become of her? She’d wake up and not get her expensive food, not go out to poop, etc., She’s already kind of upset about the paper towel shortage. This other thing, my demise, I don’t want to have to lay that on her too. She might stroke out and I’d be left alone, with my last roll of paper towels that I was saving for special times, her birthday, the day she was spayed, etc.

Beyond the frills of paper towels and things, there’s the sorrow she would feel if I were suddenly stricken by viruses and died. “Why did he have to abandon me? Was he thinking of the time I accidentally peed on the kitchen floor?” That’s terrible, I don’t want this dog to have one ounce of troubles or sorrows. You might remember, that’s how Buddha started out. His dad kept him from it. Then he discovered, “Shit happens,” sat under the Bodhi Tree and was enlightened. If I die, my dog will have things to deal with, heavy stuff, and might even be found peeing at the base of a similar tree and thereby come to a place of inner knowledge.

So far, though, I’m still alive.

Monday, March 30, 2020

April Series: The Virus

April 1 through 30, right here
In bad taste, but, hey, anyone can get it, including me,
and, anyway, I always used to hear:
"Laughter's the best medicine.*"

*This claim has not been cleared with doctors or the doctoring profession. Laughter is not recommended for everyone nor will it necessarily be of benefit to everyone. If it is, that's one thing. If it's not, that's another, a possibly deadly thing, and we cannot be held liable for death or injuries resulting from laughter, be it falling down the stairs, breaking your neck, the inciting of outbreaks in wild mobs, or choking on chicken bones, foreign or domestic. 

If I should die before the month is out, posts from that day and any future posts there may have been will not appear. In the event of my death I will take it very personally and refuse to do anything else. That's my solemn pledge and my final answer.

Someone's Watching Me


Part 30 of 30

The last post on paranoia. I probably should just leave well enough alone and keep my mouth shut. Call it off. But I’ve already said enough for my enemies to hang me “by the neck until I’m dead,” and nothing else I say now will likely make it any worse. But, seriously, it could be that they’ve missed everything so far -- a problem with the internet -- and just happened to tune in for this last post.

I can well imagine what they’re saying, “What have we here?” Then add to that a sprig of malevolence and their attitude takes a decidedly negative turn, “What else do we have here? Hmm, he lives in The Big City, that’s where we live… What if we were to squat in his backyard, put up a tent and pretend to be just guys from the neighborhood. Then spy on his comings and goings to the point of accumulating enough intelligence to blackmail him for the rest of his life!” Oh, no! Spare me from that. There’s other guys somewhere like me, and they're meatier by far, more meat to the bone for you to feast on, and younger too, all of them much younger. You’d have a whole century to torture them. While leaving me to an early death. And currently it's 9:46 a.m.

Anyway, that’s all a bridge too far for me to take, and this being the last post, a bridge too late to worry about. As soon as I hit the last button, I won’t be home for a day or so. Not just to let the place cool down, but to watch out for the guy I just pictured. The way imagination works, it’s exactly like that, you imagine it, then it comes true in some sense, and often times worse than you banked on. Putting me in an unenviable position, everyone will agree. And hashing it over doesn’t do any good, in fact just makes it worse.

That’ll be my resolution, even though it’s not New Year. Anything that might be made worse by my focusing on it in a paranoid way, I have to avoid. The way I’ll do it -- I hope -- is the first threat I see, after seeing that it’s not an active threat but a possible future threat just waiting to be manifested -- is not dwell on it. Let it pass. I’ve heard of letting things pass. I’ll work on letting it pass. Don’t make it a concrete threat by writing about it, don’t even take notes on the subject. It can only lead to a worse outcome. Instead, here’s something to try, close your eyes, take a deep breath and let it slowly leave you by a prolonged thoughtless exhalation, and say, “Whatever it was I was just thinking, let it pass with this breath.”

Think that’d work? I don’t either. Because in not making it a concrete threat, now it’s nothing but concrete, a hard thing to avoid. I’ll be checking, checking, checking on it. Did it pass? Is it right here right now? Is it in my head? Is it real? That throbbing of that vein by my ear! That wasn’t there yesterday! Did someone slip me a micky? I never drink in public for that very reason. It could’ve been done at the source, the water pipes leading into the house. So they must be watching, they are! If I step out of this house, I’m a goner. I’ll just take a minute and think it over.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Mr. Big Personal Loans

Part 29 of 30

I really really really feel sorry for anyone out there who’s been caught up in loans. I’ll edit that word out later, and probably go with something different, something they won’t be searching for, with the purpose being to squash out do-gooding guys like me who might cost them beaucoup bucks.

These are things a guy like me needs to keep in mind, since I appreciate living and breathing. And there's forces in this world big enough and ready enough -- the executioner’s finger’s always on the switch -- to take out pipsqueaks like me. I don’t know if I can go on here, I certainly know I shouldn’t. But if I watch my step and encode my words, like saying “apple sauce” for “dollars,” and “purgatory” for loans, and focus on keeping this subterfuge under wraps as much as possible -- I’m not calling for their eradication, if that’s what you’re thinking -- I just might be OK.

How’d we ever get in this trap? We didn’t used to be! But back then I got some real low-down from my family on purgatory. They (purgatories) were something definitely to avoid. But going to the bank where you had your accounts and taking out a purgatory on something like a car or house was good. Just getting down in the weeds, though, with purgatories for everything else was a definite no-no. You may as well have been asking to be shot on sight. With the cause of death being your own stupidity. Because if you were not able to pay the apple sauce back the guy issuing the purgatories would be on you like Dillinger or Capone.

Remember Dillinger and Capone and all those bad asses? (If any survivors from their extended families are reading this, no disrespect against your forebears.) Although if I had my way, not only would they have been strung up from birth -- if we only knew -- but the taint of their seed would’ve been wiped from the earth generations back, just like if we get sick we cough it up and spit it out. Presumably to evaporate on the ground since there’s very little practical value to it beyond our good health. But purgatories, you should know, once they're out of control, you will know nothing about a healthy future -- maybe healthy for the purgatory guy but definitely not you.

And I see the signs they put up everywhere around The Big City, Mr. Big This, Mr. Big That. You’re tight on money this week, stop in! My advice would be to stop IT. Because miracle upon miracle, you’ll still be tight next week, something you want to stop. See the pattern here? Then the next week even, dammit, you’re tight again. Stop in for a quick purgatory. It’s simple, the apple sauce’s flowing easy. Week four they’re bringing out the paperwork, none of the terms in your favor. Week five they’re scraping up whatever is left of you once Mr. Big’s dog (reportedly a wolf) has eaten all he can choke down.

Finally Mr. Big's dog passes a big one, the your remains.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Is Susan Really A Bat?

Part 28 of 30

I feel like I learned something like this at the state university, although it’s been so long ago that I can’t remember the details.

There was a theory or speculation questioning whether what we see is reality in any real sense (whatever that’d be) or if the things we see are completely different, right down to shapes being utterly different, etc. If you think about it a while, it makes sense, but we’re very resistant to it because "reality" appears to be a given. Our hands feel something, we jump to conclusions. Like the story of  the blind men feeling up the elephant. He has tree trunks for legs, a necktie for a tail, and a sturdy windsock for a nose.

The theory -- a naysayer’s dream ever there was one -- is that every assumption is to be questioned, because we can’t be sure what reality is. I would’ve taken the professor on, but my vocabulary was pretty limited around smart people. But I still could’ve gone out on a limb: “Uh, professor, I notice that you express your thoughts with the same words we use. If everything is to be questioned, don’t you think you ought to come up with a vocabulary that isn’t part of the same farce? And your clothes appear to fit your body as though it’s shaped in such and such a way?” Where should the questioning begin? "What do the clothing know about your body that my eyes are missing?" OK, enough of me flaying the guy to no profit. Because I actually flunked that class because of other issues; honestly, I skipped all the tests on the theory that the tests, though required were actually not required. Which would be more true to the spirit of the class. But according to the professor -- against his previous scruples -- the tests were actual tests in the traditional sense!

Our guy in the graphic has something of that mindset going on. And probably all of us have been there a few times. It hits me occasionally, out of the blue, that I think things are the complete opposite of whatever everyone else thinks. It might be tricks with my eyes; I can’t make out what’s right in front of me. For me it's a serious side effect of paranoia. Your senses just go wacky, or perhaps they’re indeed fine tuned according to what reality really is. Even if that's the case, I’m still happier when reality goes back to its good old false self. Because I have most of the rules of that reality memorized and anything new I'm forced to "learn" I’m automatically against. If not because I can't accept its reality, but on general purposes, I'm just too mentally exhausted to accept new things.

I know I’d hate it if someone mistook me for a bat. And Susan here must be the same. “Look again, Buzz, does it really look like, does it really feel like she has a furry face like a bat and little beady eyes and a bat-cave that she returns to every night? You know where she is, right by your side, not hanging in a drizzly cave with the occasional bat flitting by.”

Friday, March 27, 2020

We Need Our Thinking Hats


Part 27 of 30

This tells in a nutshell why I never go to the hospital, unless it’s something simple like showing up for a flu or virus shot. And there hasn't been a virus shot to get yet. But even when there is, admittedly, something conceivably could go wrong. The syringe machine sees someone who’s on to it, someone knowing the hidden truth of machines, and so decides to boost the dose, or worse, to start shooting us so full of chemicals it’s like we raided the grocery store and ate meat. Ah yes, imbibing growth hormones, reverse trichinosis and full steam ahead mega vaccines...

It’s not the medicine I'm afraid of. I’m a big boy and get strictly big boy tummy aches. It’s the possibility that a machine somewhere, having a grudge against human beings for so long holding it down -- We’re The Man -- wants to squash us like bugs, sees what we do to bugs and turns the tables on us, a full-frontal attack.

What I see in that is horrendous, worse than I’m willing to tell. That’s how afraid I am to rock the boat. I may not have many years left and I’d rather wisely use that time to undercut machines and machine-like behavior in my own devious ways, never head-on. Machines have a tough time with asymmetrical counter-punching. I can handle that very well, but the machine could still get me. Because I was tested as a kid and am allergic to a full laser beam. My mom told me if I ever got wind of one my eyes would turn green and not from envy.

So… Where's that leave us? When you see machine problems and you’re against them, you need to put on your thinking hat (with the better qualities of a machine but more a psychological device) and let it pull the most necessary thoughts needed from your brain to combat those evil machines. Like Yoshimi with more prominence for thinking hats.

I honestly think that's a good way to do it. It’s very humane. It’s almost like going at it humbly, like I could be trying to convert machines to my way of thinking, and, I’m not going to cry… No, I’m going to cry if machines start killing themselves. One, big boys don’t cry; and, Two, when they do they contradict my statement that they don't. Then throw a machine or two in the mix and we could easily die from the dissonance.

So, no, I don’t want machines thinking for me. And if I have to keep a whole stack of thinking hats as high as the roof on the barn, so be it. We will counteract the modern trend toward machines-this and machines-that. Like beating spears into plowshares, we’ll face the dehumanized machine head-on, and hopefully regain our sanity and defeat paranoia. My computer says everything on this post is spelled right, so the next step is to post it.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Few Missed Bills

Part 26 of 30

You’d be suffering extensive, great, and persistent paranoia, too, if it cycled through your mind day and night, everyday, how things could still work out for you. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt 100% secure, but these days are ridiculous. It bounces up once in a while, but it always nosedives a little, with a strange nosedive that levels out before the final disaster, as though they're toying with me, stringing me along, never allowing me to get a firm grip on security and yet allowing me to keep enough hope and success so hitting rock bottom is that much more painful.

Naturally, winter’s the toughest time of year for picturing in your mind what could happen. I’ve been staying in my own place -- things aren’t terrible -- but any one of many different scenarios could burst on the scene. I’ve known guys better off who’ve had it all yanked away from them. They were foolish. They thought they had security, but I'd have the whole experience, security gone, knowing the depths a guy can sink. And it doesn’t necessarily get better. There’s no rule that things have to get better.

Let me tell you this, too, I have responsibilities, number one being my dog. She’s never been in the lap of luxury, but she’s never been hungry either. The day I took my dog from her mother’s teat, I promised her, “Underbrush, you’ll be all right with me. Put 'er there, pal,” and we shook on it. Which is a great trick she taught me, since I’ve long had a fear of touching animals or people. It goes back a long way, when I heard you could catch germs from everyone. Changing me from the gladhandiest kid to being completely mentally stoved up adult, tight as a tick. The dog also loosened me up quite a bit on that front, presenting her papers proving she’s had the next 50 years worth of shots.

Of course there’s no explanation other creatures really understand -- I barely understand it -- about money and being hard up. How can we be the so-called crown of creation, creatures of intelligence and sense -- and allow ourselves such a worrisome frame of mind, cutting off the legs of one another, our fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters. The country brags about what a great country it is, while half of us goes to bed nervous, teeth-chattering, having nightmares about our shots? Could their dog eat them tomorrow?

There’s a grove of trees up the street, I’ve mentioned it before, when some homeless folks were living there. Then they came and drove them off and put up a sign: “This property is monitored by satellites in space.” You see that and think, “This little two-bit sliver of land has its own satellite eye in the sky?!!” I laughed at first, then thought, “Where would I go to escape the satellites? I need a decent night's sleep...”

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Deja Vu, Did I Say Deja Vu?

Part 25 of 30

Actually, I thought I already wrote this one. But I’ve been through all my files, the various drives I keep spare copies on, my email where I always send a spare back-up to, and the various checklists I keep, and I even checked the toaster, and despite all that and the power of prayer I can’t find it anywhere.

But, really, I sort of remember seeing it. The browser crashed but it popped up on the screen big as life, but I had to jump up and go check the sink -- where the garbage disposal was running for the last half hour to get rid of the week’s garbage -- and when I got back it was gone again. OK (looking around) I’m not blaming this on parallel worlds or dimensions -- not yet -- but I heard the neighbor lady leave for work about a half hour ago but her car’s back in the driveway. No, wait, check that, it’s gone again. I definitely don’t see it. No, it's there.

Regardless of all that, here I am writing this again, which, maybe by now is worse than it was; it does seem to be a bit heavy with process. You do anything and there’s process and results. You crack a nut, you eat the meat of the goodie, no doubt the nut was cracked. But, really, what would you do if you had the nut still in your teeth and the uncracked nut was still on the table? I’ll tell what I’ve done before, I’ve marked the nuts, 1-2-3, etc., and charted them on grids on certified real paper, then just let the magic fall where it may. If I take the dog out and the nuts I ate are still there when I get back, I check to make sure the neighbor’s kids haven’t sneaked in the back door to fool me.

The back door, though, now, has a super deadbolt. So even those kids -- each possibly with super powers rivaling Houdini -- couldn’t be changing out the deadbolt and replacing it with my own bolt so easily. I’m sure I’d hear it rattling around, or the dog would bark, or something. Oh yeah, the neighbor guy moved out a few months ago! And yet there’s always activity over there, or maybe he just decided when he’s away to leave the lights on, probably on a timer, and that seals the deal, settles that case with a happy ending.

My big question on this stuff is, Could there be something wrong with my mind? I hate to think it starts with me, because that would be a terrible flaw. Could I bear it? I’d about have to, keeping it Top Secret and doubling up my monitoring of the door and certainly the windows. Why are people so comfortable with windows? They’re great for peeping out, but that door swings both ways, they’re also great for peeping in. Although, if there’s anything worth peeping in for -- a quick glimpse at my personal effects -- I always have the lights off. With only the fear of infrared glasses remaining. Or ghosts.

I can identify with the Old Judge. I’m sure if I were a cartoon, drawn and disposed of, redrawn and disposed of -- a bad artist at work -- that I’d be flummoxed a bit if I found myself doing the same things as the guy at the counter, over and over.