Monday, March 25, 2019

Meet The Parents

No. 25 of 31 - Thermometer series

I'm looking forward to the day they make a movie about this blog series: Local Boy Starts With Nothing, claws his way up through the ranks (a lot easier than I thought) until he’s the Benevolent Blogger who see here today, trusting that with his stash of thermometers we will at long last see another moonshot! They will register massive popularity.

If prologue indeed is epilogue, the rest has to be good. And I’ve long been noted for absolute quality, not mincing words but putting it out there, laying it smack dab on the line, no retreats, no backpedaling, giving no quarter but expecting many, leaving my all on the altar. Then carrying home more bounty than I left with. There’s so many plaudits flowing my way, folks, I’m nearly sick of the attention. I must have refuge away somewhere. I must have peace. Give me a world of my own and I’ll do something with it, even if it’s just sleep in a tent and gaze at the moon.

The mist starts to settle, the night haze rests over a humble abode, my little tent. The moon makes its way wherever it goes, across the sky, all unpredictable except to those given to the study of moon manuals and star charts. But I’m content to be surprised: “Put it wherever it goes and if it moves I’ll find it when I can. Just let me sleep, perhaps to dream, to yearn, to long for a better world.”

As I doze, a blessed vision of my parents meeting each other for the first time floods my senses. Pretty much as I expected, the details must not be divulged. As for the rest, it’s interesting only to myself. No one wants to know about a guy’s parents' small talk in visionary form. They looked at each other, were enchanted by what they saw and went from there. Young and very much in love, so now what? “Let’s get married and start a family. We’ll get him a midline computer and see what he does with a blog.” At that time I cooed and cried, ate and slept by night, then in the day stocked my room -- little more than tiny infant quarters -- with boxes and crates of mostly-unopened thermometers. But I was extremely young and didn't have the experience one needs to follow through on his higher desires. I loved Popeye.

My parents were compatible, physiologically and emotionally, each with the same essential interests and flair. Dad was more a man of the priestly robes, given to the expression of soaring words on the nature of existence and the species' on-and-off relationship with the Divine. Mom was more into expressing her flair with the beautiful things of life, beautiful fashion for one thing, and fun. But enough about them. I hesitate to summon them from the beyond. They hate making a fuss.

I know they'd be happy with the blog, though, and the worldwide acclaim it has gotten, being only bested in recent polling by Pastun and Iraqi tribesmen with their tribesmen blogs. What makes those blogs so good? I can’t read their writings, frankly, but I think they chart the sorts of practical things the average person of their lands needs for travel in the mountains, along with weather and headline news. What I know most about it is, I can’t wait to surpass even them!

One of the happiest memories of my dear parents was the joyful help they gave me one weekend in the '90s. I had the great idea of getting rich quick by selling prayer cloths to religious people around the world. All I have left now are some black and white graphics, and the whole enterprise was shut down by so called religious do-gooders questioning my sincerity and blaming me for harboring profit motives. The idea! As for their help, Mom bought the various colors of cloth -- seven or eight truckloads to get started -- and Dad helped with the slick flyer explaining the mountaintop experience you were guaranteed. All backed up by angel power.

Now, though, friends, today, as strange as it may sound, those same parents are with me — from the eternal realms! — to ask you to help me blow these sonsabitchin' thermometers as high as the sky! Huh? Can you do it? You can? You can! Let us achieve it together, let us attain those selfsame eternal realms, this time without prayer cloths, but merely from our sincere devotion to duty and blogging, which is our common cause and legacy to pass on. For tomorrow's parents and their broods.

Sunday, March 24, 2019


No. 24 of 31 - Thermometer series

Note: I do not fully endorse the use of hypnosis to bend people to your will. Not fully. But what practical good is it if you can’t bend them a little, if it’s something harmless, something beneficial to yourself, and something they would likely do in their normal consciousness if you wasted the time and effort to convince them with wheedling and reason?

Do I have a Hypno-Coin? Did I ever have a Hypno-Coin. I do not have a Hypno-Coin now, not at the present moment. It’s gone, being held for evidence. My only hope is that the little plastic overlay, which doesn’t have a flat surface but grooves that gives it its distinctive hypno flavor and look, will not yield good prints. Meaning that if the ladies follow through on their threats to sue the pants off me, it’ll be their word against mine. And who would anyone believe, a guy smart enough to hypnotize people with a cheap toy “coin” (It’s not a coin, just a circle) or two dizzy girls up all night after a slumber party and a bender at that. Under those conditions I could’ve yelled at them from the spire of the courthouse and they’d have been hypnotized.

Full disclosure on what I did: They were going to run away with nasty boys. I flipped out a Hypno-Coin and persuaded them -- only reinforcing their deeply-held sense of right and wrong -- to go back home and live happily ever after.

But I can see how people might be suspicious, an old man on top of the courthouse with a Hypno-Coin. We hear of nasty stuff all the time. Pictures in your yearbook, being drunk and out of control, wild and crazy guys. Sure, I have secrets, but nothing too bad. But I have a reputation to keep. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, tell my secrets, you know I must ... not. Ha ha, the funny part is ME with SECRETS. What could I possibly have done? Make the list. I’ve been a church mouse, and what happens in church stays in church. In the secure confines of the confessional: “Father, I have sinned ... Seriously, it's all quite benign."

I’d never want relationships or subscribers from some weird hypnosis, drawn away from their own clear and respected will. There’d be no point, because it'd be all me. The result is bad. “I waved a coin in front of this person and got a subscriber for life.” That’d be meaningless. The only ones I want are those who willingly choose, then cut thickets away with machetes, then crawl over broken glass, then raise their hand and without force, say those tender words: “I swear on my life to read your blog everyday, to meld my mind with it and follow its benevolent dictates, to distribute its teachings, and to insinuate myself, without force or coercion, into the lives of others, that someday of their own free will, they too would be in your thrall.” Then we bandage their knees and I'm suddenly out 40 bucks for a new pair of pants. Hit those thermometers!

But their eagerness is flattering. Still, though, I’m waving my hand like “That all?” ... “And furthermore, to pass on the same imperative to them, that their minds might also be guided by your superior knowledge, not limited to the trivia you know about chickens, roosters, Hypno-Coins and Abraham Lincoln, but encompassing your deep and rich knowledge on all other subjects under the sun, the sun we see in our common sky, and the suns of other worlds too.”

OK, we’re getting there, but there’s one more vow I think you'll want to make: “And lastly, I will forbear reading the blogs of Pastun and Iraqi bloggers, knowing that their opinions, while valid in their surroundings and for their people, do not make fun reading for people around here with a totally different upbringing.”

Very nice. Our minds ... now ... slowly ... and with your own will remaining ... do part.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Hard Times

No. 23 of 31 - Thermometer series

It’s lately been a hard slog, hard times all around. But I’m not complaining, just trying to cut myself through the thicket, hoping very soon for a clearing, at least the ability to see the light of day and smell something besides the stifling air of jungle fauna gone bad, symbolically.

I’m keeping my mood as best as I can, which is tough in good times. And reminding myself of the various sayings and old family coaching techniques for when you’re discouraged. 'You can’t make a mud pie without a little rain. Every ape has his day. That tree won't climb itself. If you’re not bigger than your challenges, you’re too small. Pass the meat and don’t sniff it first.' That’s a good one from my memories; I had to smile; my brothers’ biggest fear was that someone would sniff their food. But what if I sniffed it and didn’t tell them? Such dirty little rats we were!

Hey, a smile! Here in the deepest jungle, surrounded by every challenge. Reminds me of the book “Head Hunters of the Amazon.” We think of Amazon as a big company, and that’s true. But, little known fact, it's also a river in South're welcome. You might not believe it, but I always wanted to go to the Amazon. Notice the past tense. I don’t want to go there anymore. For one, it’s enormous. Two, the head hunters. Three, drug overlords. Four, enough mosquitoes and vermin to suck you dry in a second, if the drug overlords don’t get you first. In short, while I love South America as a continent, and hope everyone there likes my blog, subscribes or whatever (“Let’s blow them thermometers, South America!), I could never go there. Too wild for my domesticated blood.

But I do compare my problems to jungles and King Kong creatures run amok, and being so scared, so terrified I’m out of my mind with panic just thinking of it. Just today a few of my Rent-an-Associates and a few of the true believers (the men’s division as as well as the women’s auxiliary, the Ladies Aid) were coming to me with complications. Traffic from our reporting centers was slow. We were afraid it was being stymied upstream somewhere by Pashtun and Iraqi blogging competition. And as for the Ladies Aid, two of their washboards were nearly scratched beyond repair. Thank God we still had a pint of elbow grease, so the ladies are once again in the pleasant pink. So many problems at once. And that’s what always puts me in a stew and leaves me crawling for bed!

You should know I never did that great in school. I may fancy myself a brainiac in my old age, but don't ask me anything. In school I (even I!) was an average student. One, I didn’t like to do homework. I’d leave it till later and by then we’d run out of later. Two, I thought they had it in for me, from the devious principals all the way down to the devious teachers. But it surely wasn’t jealousy on their part. What would they have to be jealous of, a kid that didn’t know shit from Shinola? And wasn’t afraid to admit it, if only he had the vocabulary to do so. I would sit there and blubber, duh duh duh. And the only consolation I had was knowing a few other kids were dumber yet.

So I'm dumb about a lot of things, but smart about a few things too. Here's a thought piece: If the earth once was one continent, Pangea, why did the North American continent luck out and remain free of King Kong type monsters? Or is that what Bigfoot is, just a shrimpier version of his larger brother? That's pretty good thinking...just proved Bigfoot.

And now look at me; I could come up with theories all day. And write sentences about them without copying them out of a book. I’m essentially self-taught. Discipline, big discipline. I’d confine myself to my room for punishment, make myself sit in the corner, force myself to write sentences, which I’ve just been doing. “I will focus on the thermometer till ultimate victory... I will focus on the thermometer till the cows come home.... I will focus on the thermometer till every last person on earth and on other planets likes me and sets me forth as what a blog should look like, until my final hope, whatever I'm hoping for that day.

P.S. There's probably some tie-in with The Great Ape and this present abomination.

Friday, March 22, 2019

I Gotta Be Me

No. 22 of 31 - Thermometer series

I believe there's a saying like this, “The measure of man is man himself.” Or maybe it goes, “Who knows the measure of a man more than himself?” There’s a saying something like that involving “the measure of a man” and “himself.” They used to measure me, so anything's possible, but that was just for shoes, pants, and shirts. They never measured the soul, although, I guess to be fair, I did go to Sunday School. So there's a lot of wondering about yourself and various jabs at answers.

So am I OK? I feel like I've put the pieces together, even drastically, with my own insights together with modern psychology and can not only say “I’m OK, You’re OK” but, invoking Tony the Tiger, “I’m Grrrreat, You’re Grrrrreat!” I say some version of that, and whether I believe it, that’s a different story. I definitely believe we as the subject are too close to the subject to objectively know whereof we speak in evaluating the self. But what other perspective can we have, especially when we restrict ourselves with a mechanical approach and a more or less superficial frame of reference? So called objectivity

It might sound trite to say it, but it’s likely true, we have to transcend somehow from within, seeing ourselves as more than skin, bone, guts, with a watchman on top of a spine. I can be very ethereal in thought. But not as much as I want to get, like in the Transfiguration. That’d be great. Say you’re sitting there, you’re transfigured, but while you’re sitting there, you’re also able to be in the kitchen, or over at the coffee shop, taking in refreshments. You run home or text to see how things are going in your chair. You’re so ethereal and so wonderfully transfigured that you’re able to text back that you’re doing fine. With the weirdest part being that you only have one phone but are somehow able to text back and forth while apart!

OK, let me draw a few at least superficial lessons from this as it applies to the thermometer drive. Which is weird, because the thermometer drive is the most important thing in my life at the present moment. Look at me sitting here typing this in a fever, while I’m across town having coffee. But I’m not in a coffee shop, no no no. I’m at a park, standing there waiting for the dew to dry so I can sit on the bench, while another manifestation of my consciousness is making the coffee in a French press pot and preparing to rush it to the park. As I sit here I was only momentarily disturbed as that I grabbed the keys from the table next to me. I hope they have a great day and that I accomplish a lot.

To drive the point completely home, or completely to the space between here and the park, or completely at the park — wherever I actually am — I gotta be me! I gotta be me! What else could I be? Something to see or maybe not. Just a bunch of ethereal spirits, eternal playthings in league with all that is, driving me completely bonkers, the more they’re busy playing around when there’s actual work here on earth to be done.

I have plenty of compatriots helping with the blog. The men’s organization, always pointing at me, going “You da man.” And the ladies aid, a more practical group of gals I’ve never seen. How the men ever happened to marry these particular women, I’ll never know. Maybe someday -- say I live till the 10th anniversary or 20th of this present-day blog drive, and we’re reliving old times -- they’ll tell me the full story: “Where did I meet Missy? I couldn’t tell you this 20 years ago, but she was a complete doll.”

Hit that thermometer! Things are going great! I'm not in the doldrums, just a reflective moment. I'm right here with you-all, bobbing like a cork, staying visible and doing well. We need you in this drive because it's taking off any minute now. Success is within our reach! We are our own success! Let me hear a rip-roaring Amen!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Start The Ball To Rolling

No. 21 of 31 - Thermometer series

Yes, “We Are Better Than This” sums up the feeling I have today. Everyday we’re getting closer and closer to the end. And I can’t help thinking there’s more we should be doing, that maybe we’re treading water and not progressing as we should.

Let's put it in terms of pride, terms that none of us can misinterpret or lightly set aside: Will we allow Pastun and Iraqi herdsmen with the No. 1 blog  in the world (in fact, the first 6 blogs!) to best the west forever? Or will we take our natural place and reestablish the dominance we’ve so long demanded in other aspects of life, everything from sitcoms to bacon? I say we stick it to them and let them know we mean business. And if we can’t manage that little bit of strength, I demand this planet to stop and I be allowed asylum somewhere else.

Now that I’ve got your full attention, let’s look after the things we need to accomplish to Start the Ball to Rolling. If you’re fearful, reticent, and feel like shrinking back by that, please get out of my sight. I’m normally such a laid-back guy, but that’s when I thought we were on the same page. Because I can dress you down just as soon as look at you if that’s what the situation calls for.

Line up, please. In one big row. We’ll put the men’s group over here and the ladies aid over there. You, both groups, are my pride and joy. Everything I’ve called you to do, you’ve not only done but have gone beyond, bettering your best with every effort. We just celebrated you a few days ago. I remember you men and your great pride, pointing to the thermometer and saying, “Hit it!” Remember the one guy who came for the free transportation and stayed for the fun? I still can’t get over that! Free transportation for what? He didn’t even know, but he knew it was good! And the Ladies Aid, there’s no one greater than you. Manning the tubs, making sure our laundry makes us look good and we really shine!You’re right here [tapping heart].

As for the rest of the team, you’re all in my heart too. But sometimes my heart has pain, even with Dr. Vector saying there’s absolutely nothing wrong. “You’re as healthy as a team of stallions,” he said just the other day. Even so, a team of stallions gets pain when their team falls short. Each of you is giving your best, I know, but now it’s time to really dig down and see what else you can find, and give that, and 10% more. Have you got the same resolve that team of stallions has? I believe you have it! And I believe you will use it! Onward and upward! Excelsior! Let’s Get It On!"

With that, we ran screaming from the building, gathering in the road for a rally. “USA! USA! USA!”

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Get Your Vaccinations

No. 20 of 31 - Thermometer series

Part of the reason for this important post is to show that I can write about serious issues without getting down and wallowing in the mud with people -- little more than grunting swine -- even though, yes, I am taking them to task. Today it’s about parents and their children, victims, when they don’t get vaccines for them. Bad deal. I'd love to sit you all in the corner for an hour, maybe a year.

Yes, yes, I know this issue is fraught with peril, because supposedly some of these people think they’re doing their kids a big favor. Something to the effect of there being more toxins in vaccines that are harmful to them than the actual diseases. It’s an issue that I have only a few opinions about. And my opinions are all very traditional: Get your vaccines, because diseases are terrible, and you’re better off if you do it the doctor/medicine way. Those "toxins" ... big deal. There's not a perfect world apart, you're part of this particular environment. Sink with the bugs or swim in spite of them.

When I was a kid, we went right down the list, whatever vaccines we needed for school. Whether we liked them or not. And with our shortsightedness as kids, if anyone offered to let us stay out of the vaccine lines, we might have. I’d like to think I’d have more maturity and sense than that. Knowing what I know now, yes, I would. But being a kid who didn’t like needles, I might not have had that sense. Of course I had no choice. Meaning I also went to school.

Now I understand that there are parents whose opinion is that vaccines pose a greater risk to Junior and Missy than not having it at all. It’s very hard for me to discuss this issue without cussing those folks out, except I swore a vow several years ago not to allow anything blue on my blog. And even though I haven’t adhered to that vow 100% — because I sometimes think, seriously, that vulgarity is the only way to say what’s on your mind -- I'm trying to use kind words rather than the serious blue cussing that is more natural to the subject. This is a subject where a vulgar lapse is a real possibility if I would only allow it.

But would parents change their mind if I cussed them up one side and down the other? Maybe. The shock of the obscene is useful. But also perhaps not. Because, frankly, if they’re that far gone, I don’t suppose they're going to listen to reason either. So I’m left just frantically expressing my opinion based on my other opinions and doomed to please no one, them or others. Because you’re just itching for a good cussing out, for the proponents of vaccines to say “Yes,” and the opponents to say “We told you so, these pro-vaccine blogs are full of it!”

So let’s agree to keep it clean. And hopefully I’ll be able to take you down and make you cry UNCLE  by my niceness. OK, there’s bugs, there’s bacteria, these are potentially death in your blood vessels. There's no purity. You have to get down in the dirt with disease or it'll take you out. We had disease like that years ago, with kids in braces and hobbling down the street, struggling to board the bus, etc. I saw these kids and knew some of them and always felt badly for them. The way it was, they were just a bit early to be struck and not in time for the vaccines. Which is too bad and terrible.

I on the other hand was a little later and by then there was a great push for vaccines. And look at me now. Old, able to walk normally, etc., nothing dreadful about my health. I still get the shot for the flu every year. But remember a few years ago, the vaccine wasn’t dead-on, because there’s a certain guesswork that has to be done in advance, and these things can shift in the meantime. We got the flu real bad that year, but we’ve been OK ever since.

Let me end on this sad note: Kids, if your parents won’t let you get vaccinated, please write me with their name and if I find out it is legal I will scrawl you a note that you can use to get one.* Please spell their name exactly as it is. No nicknames, please. And if I can I’ll be getting back to you later with a release that swears you’re telling the truth and will not be using the note or my signature to buy alcoholic beverages or harder drugs. It might take a while for everything to happen, because I have to use a few back channels not necessarily in this country, and foreigners, true to their foreign nature, can be stubborn.

Meanwhile, please do me a favor and help break our thermometer! Like or comment or subscribe to this blog — if you can figure out how. Try hard until it's done. Because I want to see every thermometer completely destroyed! And whatever everyone’s opinions everyone has about vaccines, I’m sure we can all agree on the sentiment that this is the world’s greatest blog and should be treated as such.

*Offer not valid in Alabama or if your parents are first cousins.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Battle Stations!

No. 19 of 31 --Thermometer series

The clarion call goeth forth! Men, report to battle stations! Women, if you’re tough enough, battle stations, if not, the auxiliary group can always use helpful hands. You alone can judge, then do your part. And I will be around later to glance over the situation -- to survey the battlefields, direct aid to the fallen, and pass out reward points, with an emphasis on actual results not just effort --  and anyone too scrawny for a particular job will be reassigned based on talents, abilities, girth, and skinniness.

This is not a drill, friends. Battle stations! I’m getting the word that we don’t have a minute to lose. And that’s straight from the voice of my Spirit Animal, Abraham Lincoln. Hear that? He's not messing around. Remember, he's a man of few words. He wrote the Gettysburg Address on a scrap of paper he found in his coat, all the paper he had. So it was wonderfully brief, succinct, short, about a minute’s worth of jotting; he didn’t run out of ink, he ran out of paper: “Fourscore and whatever...” He dashed it off, crossed himself for mercy, and winged it from there.

That same spirit must be ours today or we are lost. When the word goes forth for every man to assume battle stations, he must report. 1) Because the battle will be great and we must protect our blog and its way of life, its future; 2) Self-interest concerns: a) If I don’t report everyone will think I chickened out; b) In the future they’ll blow their nose on pictures of me, and other shirkers will be asked to step out of the stadium. The possibilities for shame are endless. Someday you’ll have grandchildren, and they’ll blame you: “Grandpa was a coward. Why should I lift a finger to protect my anything? You can go to hell for all I care. Pass me that stash of porn.”

That’s a scary world, one I’m trying to prevent. I’ve got my courage up. Don't think of it as supine, shrinking in fear, flat on its back. It must stand tall, and it will be noticed, it will stand erect in the wind when everyone else has shrunk back and wavers. Watch us live proud and free, exposed to the elements but unafraid, solid and stolid, prepared to go the distance, alive and pulsing with life, a man (or a very tough woman) in every sense of the word.

The bugle call sounds, the horn of plenty, and it summons plenty, everything — every man and woman of valor and ability — that we serve until this blog is Number One in the world, the basis of our freedoms and way of life. Join us today. Put your own life on hold for years, decades, centuries, whatever it takes. Pretend it's Afghanistan and you are there.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Our Ladies Aid

No. 18 of 31 - Thermometer series

What a privilege today for me to lift up our Ladies Aid. Each one of the gals, none of whom I frankly know very well, is a vital part of the effort. You might say, 'But being a people person, how can you not know them very well?' Simple, there are boundaries I need to respect, because by making even one of the guys mad, let alone a bunch of them, our great cause would disintegrate into a pile of dust as we speak. We must not allow that to happen.

Our goal isn't cozying up to anyone, but it's simply "Sure and steady as she goes," carrying through the effort of getting more readers (commitments for the blog). The guys of the Men’s division are a large part of that. With the Ladies Aid the next biggest part. It’s not discrimination. It’s not second class status for one part. It’s simple relationship physics, not getting caught with my finger in the pie, avoiding every flagrant power move and making a shambles of the whole scene. Fun as that may be.

O! Sometimes I wish I could see the end from the beginning, because it can be maddening. But that’s the way it is. Like buying groceries. You show up at the store, you have no idea what you might need. You know you will enter the door, you know you will eventually leave. The main concern is what goes on inside the store. The last thing you want is for someone to take items out of your cart. And that’s how it is with the guys. They don’t want their wives messed with in any way. And likewise the wives their husbands. Which I would never do, but people -- especially the guys -- can be extremely suspicious.

Turning now to the Ladies Aid for praise, I’m saying "Hats Off To Them!" I peeked my head in the door a few times and gave them a few words of praise and thumbs up as they went about their tasks. In their hustle and bustle I’ve seen a good spirit of cooperation and even self-sacrifice. Which is great, because things have to be done at every level. If we’re going to be together, we need to remember that. And if any of them are reading this, I am very happy with all you have done so far! Let’s see it through to the end...

Ladies, let’s focus on the goal, while giving/receiving praise where praise is warranted. First, the work is important. As we guys sweat it out, working on our strategies for the blog, having a few drinks, bantering back and forth over readership drives, considering the possibility of a rewards system, compiling statistics, and having a few more drinks, it gets very confusing, but it’s also exhilarating. Because you always have to keep the end goal in mind. Maybe it’s fuzzy, and often it is, depending on how much we've drunk. I have to keep reminding myself what’s going on. There’s so many people, it’s hard to tell one from another.

Yet, I’m honored to feel a special pride as well. Because I know each one of is doing his or her part. Laundry’s only one part of it of course. But very important. Because when I’m stressed -- and I'm usually very stressed -- I sweat through my clothes in minutes, from my cap to my unders. True! I wear my feelings on my sleeve in that sense. And we’re up against deadlines all the time and I’m forever sweating it out. So the laundry isn’t just a thing I’ve instituted to keep people busy. They aren't just doing busy work; it’s all vital, it's all important. I've said it many times, patting them on the back, God bless our great Ladies Aid!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Recruiting A Few Good Men

No. 17 of 31 - Thermometer series

I’ve never stepped out like this, so boldly — but I’ve never had this degree of confidence; I’m overflowing with confidence and actively pursuing men to join me in a great cause. Now here I am, in awe, the big meeting just dismissed. For a successful meeting it was, holding lots of promise for the future of this cause. Inspiring stuff.

Every doubt I might've had is set aside, all because these great guys, these dear souls, these men came together with me and we joined hearts. They promised their all, asking very little in return. But what would they ask? For these are men who've somehow set aside the selfish gene. To the point that, in some weird way, they were more than individuals and yet not a nameless faceless mass. They acted in a single good spirit of cooperation with enthusiasm to match. And I’ve faked enough enthusiasm in my life, I can see it a mile away.

I love the quote this one brother gave me. And he said it in all innocence, but like the all-knowing psychiatrist or professor in a 300-level seminar. I immediately latched on to it with delight: “I came for the free transportation, I stayed for the fun!” Wow, that summed it up for me! Think of the esprit de corps  (literally the spirit of a body, not a corpse) conveyed in that great line. He’s saying he had no idea what the meeting was for — no clue — but because they offered free transportation he was in! I’m personally not that interested in free transportation to places that I don’t necessarily want to go. If the cab company offered free transportation to random places in town, I’d say no thanks. It’s a no-brainer -- who cares -- transportation isn’t that hard to find.

OK, there’s that. But once he got there, the free transportation fulfilling its mission, he stayed for the fun! That’s delightful! Since he's also saying if it hadn’t been fun he wouldn’t have stayed. What would he have done? Gone back home? Just assuming the transportation back home would also be free? That’s what kills me. He got free transportation TO the meeting, but he wouldn’t necessarily get it home if there was no fun to stay for. Still, in a way he would’ve come out OK if he had to pay for transportation home, because it would’ve only been half of what he would’ve paid if transportation there hadn’t been free. But think about it again, he still would be paying money out of pocket for having been at a meeting he hated. And that’d still make me mad if I were him. But he trusted whoever it was that gave him a ride, so it's natural that he'd want to cool any simmering resentment for the sake of his friendship. I’ve done that before, kept my mouth shut so I wouldn’t lose a friend.

Regardless, it’s a moot point. He got free transportation there, he thoroughly enjoyed himself in the meeting, and no doubt got free transportation home. (I just thought of it, if he hadn’t enjoyed himself, he could’ve waited in the car and gotten free transportation home with his original ride. Then I might’ve lost the loyalty of the driver, because he might’ve been worried about his disappointed friend outside. Then he would’ve left. And this other guy over here might’ve been that guy’s best friend, who would say, “Sam doesn’t like this meeting, maybe I should leave too.” And so forth, till it was me and one last guy who needed a free ride home.

It definitely does pay to offer free transportation. That’s the lesson. Because I'm miles ahead if more people like my blog. And if we blow these thermometers sky high, that we might gladly see the mercury spew forth from the tops as the pressure builds and rises and there’s no other place for it to go, until kablewy! shatters the glass and attains the heights of ultimate glory!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Choked With Fear

No. 16 of 31 - Thermometer series

All through my life, even if there’s a shortage of everything else, there’s never a shortage of fear and trepidation. Trembling, cowering, hunkering down, just me and my periscope. And it’s overwhelming, so vividly horrible it splashes over me like a bucket of cold water on a winter day, chilling me unto my soul, my very last bone.

Yet I'm always surrounded by aides and associates, so you’d think I’d be knowing, showing, and even evincing, the greatest calm and confidence. Friends indeed are cheerful and confident, which sometimes is their biggest fault. They're not watching like a hawk. They don't see the constant danger. Just cheerleaders. I see cheerleaders on TV, who aren't even watching the game, so how do they know what cheers we need? We might be doing great, then the cheer is: “Our team is dynamite, we’re gonna win tonight!“ Or maybe we’re having troubles and we need backup: “Push ‘em back, push ‘em back, way back!”

So often, believe it or not, I am choked by fear, because my perception of what’s going on is always crystal clear. I’ve got a sixth sense, some level of foreknowledge, and eyes in the back of my head. I should’ve been a teacher, but those opportunities are long past. And call me a nervous nelly, but I know what we’re up against. I could name three blogs better than mine, and that’s just in the Western Hemisphere. I hesitate to even mention the Pastun and Iraqi herdsmen and their formidable blogs. If you think those guys are wimps, think again. They've grown up in danger; they know the facts of life. They snack on nails and gargle razor blades. And their breath matches their appetite, smelling alternately like a construction site and shaving kit.

Then there’s the other enemies. Homegrown naysayers, which are the worst kind, because they’re always at the door, always in your face like a Greek chorus, bemoaning your fate while also rubbing it in. I frankly believe their glory’s in someone else’s shame, the same way my 8th grade biology teacher rubbed it in when I couldn’t name the parts of the reproductive system. I wrote “Pipes and tubes, rubs and lubes,” and got a stinking F. But it worked out OK for me. As it turned out, we didn't have kids, but I and a girlfriend had a few close calls.

OK, these homegrown naysayers ... I describe them pretty well on today's thermometer. Urchins, rugrats, etc. Hanging around the neighborhood telling me to go to hell, etc. I pity their poor parents. Their poor parents work all day, then come home, and the neighborhood has too much sympathy to describe the little hellions for what they are. We’re willing to let bygones be bygones, but it’d be great if they told us they never plan to breed again, and would at least consider retroactively rescinding their existing issue.

I and my team don't want to be too discouraged. And we will make it, I believe, if we don’t lose focus. I remain optimistic. My friends, I do believe we have a clear hope and a clear pathway by which to attain it. I wet my easy chair so you don’t have to. Stay with me. And let’s see this thing along all the way even to its glorious conclusion. It remains my hope, my fervent expectation, that we shall see thermometers popping off all over the world -- POP, there goes one now -- and at long last a grand and wonderful victory that will make me proud and, by extension, you.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Keeping Mama Happy

No. 15 of 31 -- Thermometer series

I don't care which cog you think needs grease, if you don't keep Mama happy your labor's in vain. Is it Persistence? I will be persistent, Keep Mama Happy. Constancy? I will constantly rebut, Keep Mama Happy. Is it Stick-to-it-tiveness? Here's something to stick to, Keep Mama happy. (Staying At It is nearly synonymous with Stick-to-it-tiveness, but you'll agree, nothing functions without Staying At It, because it's connected to Keeping Mama happy.) Keeping Mama happy is our priority.

Sit back, settle in, and let me expound at some length on the wisdom of life. This will pay practical dividends over and over in many ways. Look how things are going for the blog and our great thermometer drive. They're popping off and spewing everywhere, 'cause Mama's one happy chick!

The first application is for children. The second for adults. The third for adult men. Uh, there may not be a third, but we’ll see.

Children, 1st. You children have a long ways to go till you're an adult. Life seems long and hard to endure. But you have to slog it out day by day and year by year. Enjoy! Don't get ahead of yourself. I used to keep track of the slow-moving time before I could leave home and be on my own. Those years just crawled. I was impatient. I still had to learn important lessons, a lot of it by trial and error. Persistence, Constancy, Stick-to-it-tiveness, and Staying at it were the minor lessons.

Every one of those things is utterly important, although I concede, Stick-to-it-tiveness and Staying at It are similar if not identical things. Be all that as it may, the absolute most important thing in the mix is Keeping Mama Happy. (If you don’t have a Mama, you most likely did have one at some point around the time of your birth. You can have lots of Mama-figures in the ladies in your life. Or even in aspects of yourself, the kind of Mama person or aspect who's loving, always wanting your best.)

Anyway, Keep Mama Happy and everyone’s happy. If you merely feel the need to Keep Mama Happy, that's happiness. If you see the priority of Keeping Mama Happy, it means you're putting first things first and other things will follow. If you ever fail, go back to Mama and say, "O Mama!" and let her caress you till you feel you can go on.

I’m an old man now. But not pathetic in any way, able to breathe, walk, sit up and take nourishment, avoiding trouble, etc. I could be pathetic. Picture this pathetic scenario:

Me: “What’s the f—'n use of even being alive?” People I know try to bolster my spirits. “Who would even f—'n miss me if I was dead?” And they’re bolstering my spirits again, “We’d miss you.” Then I have my constant doubts, “F— life and you and you!” I throw up on the dining room table and march out of the room, never to be seen again. Until months later I run into the old gang at the grocery store getting ready for the weekly meeting that very night, a meeting I’ve never been invited back to, and they all pretend not to know me. I’m begging for another chance, “I was just f—'n with your heads that night. I didn’t mean anything really, it was a joke. Yes, I threw up on the table, that was meant as a joke, but I immediately regretted it. The humor was too subtle.” Then they let me come back to the meeting that night, I suddenly feel sick at the table, but I have the Mama spirit/moxie in my spirit: I get up and march to the bathroom like a good boy.

Have you got the moxie on the ball? Mama's that moxie, what you need. 'Nough said.

I come back to the table and share with them the wisdom, the key to life I meant to share that other night but was unable to because I was prematurely evicted: “Keep Mama happy.” They’re at the table looking around at each other in kind of a mock disbelief: “Keeping Mama happy is the key to life?” “Yes,” I say, comfortable in my own skin because I know it’s true.

We dismiss, we go away, then the next week come back, and around the table the verdict is the same, “You are absolutely right! This is the secret of life and success! Persistence, Constancy, Stick-to-it-tiveness, and its near synonym Staying at it, are all vital, critical, needed. But setting aside that, the number one rule in existence — and to a man we realize this — is “Keep Mama Happy.”

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Taking The Scotsman To Task

No. 14 of 31 -- Thermometer series

I’m not huge on ethnic slams. I used to be, somewhat, with the put downs and riddles that were popular. I never thought that would change. But change it did, in huge ways. And was suddenly out of favor, to the point of real insistence to not ridicule people’s abilities or lack of abilities based on their nationality, place of origin, and current country of vegetation.

Of course I can see the point of all this care and concern for others. It's now in my blood, always tiptoeing by and keeping my nose out of national and ethic distinctions. Because we're sensitive. And it’s not tolerated, any suggestion that entire nationalities of people, let alone races en masse, could ever be reduced to a few stereotypes which then are hammered at constantly, beating the people down relentlessly, so that while we’re laughing and slapping our knee, they’re on the sidelines going, “Hoot mon, hoot mon, whadda bluddy helle is dese affronts to mine native digin'knee?!” I guess that’s half Scottish and the rest faux English, and as funny as a pent-up insecure smallish white guy can muster.

The Scotsman, now there’s a specimen, right? They love it, their identity. I recently met a guy, kilt and all, very serious and charming. I don't know what he is at home. Maybe half Robert Burns, half the Scottish version of our American hillbilly, making home brew, with forebears and heroes called things like The Bruce, the Dale, Robbie-Boy, and Baby Plaid. The little I know about it, like the Scotsman’s last wadde of moneye, is they hang on to it, like the bald man’s combe, they'd never part with it. I know some of these zany people spent their times so far back in the hilles they’d be loste if they every came out or tried to go back. So, naturally, like what happens to most of us, if you're loste, stay put, and hope someone finds you, if they think you’re loste, or leaves you alone if they know where you are. I can only refer you to a good book on Burns, which is about as easy to read as tea leaves a'brewing, but funne.

The biggest slam against the Scotsman, the focus here, is how tight they are, stingy, hoarding, always wanting to hang on to their last dime, etc. The Lord loves a cheerful giver, but has to settle for whatever pittance he can get from the Scot. Then there’s all the other hilarious people of the world, the Polish, the French, and whoever my own people were, Heinz 57 in one crammed bottle. It’s a nasty subject; I got guys in my family tree that should’ve stayed there. We're standing upright and erect now, guys, and not just on our honeymoon... No knuckle-dragging unless you're polishing your ring.

Smooth transition: Now I need everyone of you, fellow unevolved apes, monkeys, and chimps, to pitch in and put us over the top for the blog. Has our crew been through your town yet with the traveling thermometer display? I'm no Scot, I paid big moneye for it. You’ve no doubt seen it passing by. If you see the display, please sign up. Put your name on the pad and we’ll see that you get updates. Let’s fill the thermometers, OK? Hoot mon, hustle! We’re depending on ye, aye! And in this case, it’s going to be extremely comfortable even for the Scot, because it’s entirely free. You will not be billed. And any penalties there may be for early or late withdrawal, we'll apologize to your wife about that later.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Golden Slumbers

No. 13 of 31 - Thermometer series

The all-out effort of the thermometer drive is a massive thing, taking up most of my energy. The little I’ve got left -- dragging myself along maybe an inch or two, then resting -- I’m watching TV, vainly struggling to keep up with my movies. I recently got a super streaming service that lets me record unlimited stuff. So I’m busy recording movies all day and all night, and so many in vain. Except for the four or five a week I squeeze in.

The rest of my energy, except for taking the dog out, is focused on this all-out effort — absolutely no time for anything else! — of making this blog the most read and adored blog anywhere. And, yes, that has to include the famous Pashtun and Iraqi herdsmen, known everywhere as the best and most successful bloggers on earth. Right up there. My quest may be impossible, but, baby, I'm in the game! Driving, striving with all my might to attain those heights. And showing my progress in thermometers erupting -- bushels of thermometers! -- the mercury flowing quickly toward the top and spraying everywhere. (No visitors, please, it's taken several eyes out.)

Movies I don't have to have. One thing I have to have is sleep. Oh, I love sleeping. Which isn't hurting the thermometer drive at all; it's an essential part. Because when I get sleepy, folks, I’m not good for anything. I’m drooping, drowsing, losing focus, nodding off, then bolting upright, passing out, and virtually dead. If I’m home, I totally crash on the bed. If I’m at one of our temporary blog headquarters — and there’s people everywhere lifting my spirits — I do what I can. I crawl under a desk, I’m in a broom closet, I’ve got my head on someone’s lap. That’s a good one, because if he or she is hungry I can hear their stomach growling, and nothing puts me to sleep faster. Which must be a thing we pick up in utero, the sweet indigestion of our dear mothers.

My dreams are all sweet, too, mixed in with snatches of the movies and the confused happenings of the drive. Like having a gangster movie on, with them shooting it out for turf, I'm dreaming of thermometers blowing their tops like guns. When awake I'm more patient. But asleep, I expect instant satisfaction: Blow it off now now now! With all those eruptions representing so many people around the world liking the blog, reading it, sharing it with their fellow tribesmen, teaching it to their kids, and essentially going crazy with hog-wild delight.

The Pashtun, the Intuit peoples groups, African tribesmen, it doesn’t matter who you are or what kind of blog you run, you want to see a guy like me succeed. That’s how they got to be such respected tribesmen, attention to detail and a subtle mixture of love and hatred for their enemies. They might knife you in a second, as soon as look at you, but they're just as fast to hit the like button or subscribe. Actually very sweet guys, I consider them buds on the overall world scene.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Picking My Spirit Animal

No. 12 of 31 -- Thermometer series

Dr. Vector is an absolute dear. He went to school somewhere, a bunch of places, and now he’s helping me. I would adore having the diplomas he's got on the wall. I actually have a few -- a guy I know will print what you need. In the actual school I was average and sometimes below-average, but I think I got smarter with experience. I don’t keep my diplomas on the wall, though, since I technically still owe the guy around $50, and we had a fight, and I hate remembering him.

But I did take classes. One of my best memories of academia was listening to a guy in Speech class. In citing the various "Types of Breath," he listed Dog Breath and Italian Breath, which stuck with me. If that was education, I was a sponge. If I never learned anything else, that was worth the price of tuition, although I’m pretty sure that guy never got a diploma, nor did I from that particular place. The college closed down, packed up, and moved west, which is the first time I ever heard of that.

But that's all ancient history, this is Dr. Vector’s day! Time for his breath to shine. I just look at him and know he's special. I love a guy like him, a professional. Having all the confidence in the world, and mysterious enough in his training and attitude, there doesn’t appear to be a thing he doesn’t know. Any subject, and with pure insight into your psyche, the soul...

I was sitting in the chair, focused on the sound of my own breath, focused without being focused, honing in on the sound without making a sound, and Dr. Vector came up from behind and lightly massaged my shoulders. His hands melded with my shoulders, like there was no end of me or beginning of him. He’s fantastic, even dreamy, except for one thing: a dental plate that's fully exposed, making true the old saw, “Into every life, a little rain must fall.” His omniscience, though, that has to be the main thing. And that melding, always that amazing melding...

It turned out, too, with Dr. Vector’s indispensable assistance, I would discover my spirit animal. Something to celebrate! Would it be the Rooster as he seemed to hint? It could’ve been. But no, no, no, it wasn’t the Rooster or any chicken. It was Abraham Lincoln, my favorite president of all the presidents I know anything about. And I’m not entirely clear why I like him, except for what they taught us in school, that he was just like us, only better. How he worked his way up from ignorance to knowledge, a child studying at night by firelight, a man splitting rails by day, debating the pants off people, and being charismatic despite the sour look, his hat like a smokestack, and the circumstances of his presidency, the Civil War and a country teetering on the edge of serious trauma.

So until I see a different therapist -- and there's no plans to ditch Vector -- Abraham Lincoln is my spirit animal, winning out over the chicken by only an inch of his hat. The rooster tried to match Lincoln's height, wisely choosing a large barrel for heft, which in the end only showcased Lincoln's greater wisdom in wearing hats in a different zip code from his head.

Spirit animal in place, I shall march boldly on in the thermometer drive for the blog! Solemnly vowing that everything I do will be in accordance with proper Lincoln wisdom and intelligence. Knowing that as I give my all, Lincoln will be there to guide me, assisted by the Rooster, who according to the Chinese restaurant has his own year as the cycles spin silently along.