Monday, February 28, 2011

My Relentless Pursuit Of Excellence

I'm charging ahead, always 100 mph, always full blast, always giving it my all, as I relentlessly pursue excellence in every area of my life.

I've always been one to excel if I set my mind to it. It's a quality that I guess came from my upbringing, then my own personal dogged determination that it cannot be otherwise. If I set a goal, then, by God, I'm going to achieve it.

Would you say I have personal confidence? Yes, I have personal confidence and lots of it!

Tonight, right this minute, as I think on these things -- looking back over my life as it's been and ahead as I believe it will be -- I'm actually quite psyched. It's a peak experience, although of course I'm used to those. Still, being one to ever pursue excellence, every peak experience is still a real kick.

I will confess sometimes I'm down. I was down just yesterday. It was raining, I'd had had a major tiff with a friend, then we went out for buffalo wings and everything turned around. Not only were we fairly cordial, but a couple guys came in drunk and were refused service. They put up something of a stink and that gave us something to smile about and discuss. We even shared a nice personal moment with the waiter. And everything was good again.

Excellence is like that, it's never far away. That's one of the reasons I'm generally so optimistic, because the wheel's always going to be turning my way sooner or later.

Now, in what areas of my life do I see excellence. In virtually every area! But to be specific, if I had to narrow it down to a few of my favorite areas, I would mention my intellect. Am I the smartest guy in the world, the country, the state, the county, or even my block? No, I'll admit it, I'm probably not. But if there's ever anything I need to know, I know how to look it up. Or if it's something that I can't look up, like a tough math problem (and I face very few of those), I'm smart enough just to move on and forget it.

I was also at the library yesterday, after the chicken wings. It gave me time to take a few books off the shelf and look through them. Doing so I was able reflect that I was smart enough to read some things that interested me. And I went away -- like it or not -- with a few more facts in my mind than I went in with. And given enough time, I'd be able to tell you exactly what they were.

Another area of excellence that I'm proud of is my ability to be on good terms with others. Let's say I see you somewhere, I'll go, "Hey!", like I'm really glad to see you, and maybe I am. Or a waiter speaks to me and I'm as friendly as can be, especially if it's something juicy, like a couple of drunks. Or if I see someone at the store, someone at church, wherever. I see folks in church and I'm a very nice guy. Maybe I don't go out of my way to greet everyone, and maybe I'd just as soon stick to myself and greet no one (at times), but when push comes to shove I paste a big old smile on my face and appear to be very pleasant.

Then of course it goes without saying, I pursue excellence on this blog. It's my life (touching my heart). My readers are rock solid, the best people on earth, and I want to give them my best everyday. (By the way, I went to a CD store where they have a sign on the door, "Through these doors enter the best people on earth, our customers." But then they have empty cases in the racks and the CDs behind the counters. Who knew the "best people on earth" were thieves?)

As for me and this blog, I get up every morning, do the things that make for a morning, as for anyone, then I do something different. I have a little one man editorial board meeting. I call the meeting to order, then brainstorm some ideas for the day's blog. The idea phase is usually done by 10:00, taking an hour. Then I chart it out, some preliminary sketching of an outline between 10 and 11. Between 11 and noon, it's a matter of hammering out some definite paragraphs, like the first and second ones, just so I can see how the flow's likely to go. At noon, I break for lunch. Then the afternoon is spent in deep prayer, interrupted only by any witticisms that occur to me. I choose a graphic and work on it if I need to. Then I knock off till around 7 p.m., when I get the blog entry written and posted. That's the pursuit of excellence, and it pays off! I think all told I've made $101 from Google ads in the last three years.

The pursuit of excellence has always been one of the marks of my life. They taught it to me growing up, and I kept the lessons fresh, uppermost in my mind, all the way up to this very day ... and beyond!

You too can look for and achieve excellence. Just take me as an example and do your best to pattern your life after me. You may not succeed all at once; few people do. But if you stick to it, and if you don't give up easily, the victory will be yours. Excellence will be the mark of your life as well!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What Makes A Woman Beautiful?

First, let me say right up front, I'm not going to crap out on you and end up saying it's "inner beauty" that makes a woman beautiful, even though of course that's the real answer. To me, that's just a cop out, designed to soothe the ruffled feelings of women who don't look so great. Which I can say, because I don't look that great either, even though I'm a man and we're supposed to look gnarly.

My real thought on beauty vs. non-beauty is I don't really care what a woman looks like. I'm not in the market for one anyway, so it's actually a non-issue. And if it came right down to it and I was in the market, of course I'd prefer one with "inner beauty" to physical beauty if I had to choose. Since I'd be in the relationship for the long haul and I wouldn't want to fall for a pretty package full of garbage.

But that's not what this is about, so I won't belabor the point.

As to what makes physical beauty, I read somewhere, and believe it, that the definition has changed over the centuries. It's probably changed just in my lifetime, though I can't cite any examples. Maybe an example would be in hairstyles. If you'd saw a woman with spiky hair, maybe dyed pink, in 1963, it might not have appealed to very many guys. But face it, that's a great look today. Or something like that. I like seeing women with odd colored hair. They usually have the odd accouterments to match, like weird shoes, checkered or striped socks, a mismatched top, and other signs that she's into some kind of sassy fashion.

I'd say it was 25 years ago I was talking about "Earth Women," meaning the ones who looked au naturel, with a kind of hippie, loose fabric look, looking very airy and breezy, with hair straight down and looking distinctive for its non-distinctiveness. I love that look. I loved the looks of the original hippie women, and I love their descendants, the eccentric beauty of all that.

But this isn't just about fashion, it's about the bodily appearance, like the clip art cutie pictured above, virtually in the buff except for some nice undies, mismatched leg-ums, and of course an electrical truss. Could be a dinner bell for a mom to call the kids to eat with, but I think it's something from the truss family. Leave out those items and she's nude, giving us something to behold that we wouldn't see everyday.

We look at her, and if your eye is anything like mine, we notice the breasts. These have long been a mystery to me, how they happen to grow out at a certain age, where all the extra skin comes from, and how precisely they're attached. Think about the extra skin or the extra bodily length, were they flattened out. She has a flat chest earlier on, and if you drew a line from the belly button to the neck, it'd be a certain distance. Now, suddenly, breasts form, and, just to estimate, the line we drew would be maybe an additional 12 inches. How does this happen? Just the going out the top and bottom bits and a stretching of the middle? How they're attached, it's just like any chest except for the stretching. And how they happen to grow out at a certain age, it's in the DNA, you don't have to worry about it. Speaking as a guy, I was worried about certain things of my anatomy, thinking maybe I was passed over, but it all worked out in the end. I was a late shaver, is what I'm talking about.

Are breasts part of physical attractiveness? Certainly they are. Yes.

Then there's the other curves, going down, then the hips, which scientists tell us we're attracted to because of the evolutionary stuff having to do with pregnancy and reproduction. It's funny we're all thinking that even if we're unconscious of it or not in the market to have kids. I've got that in my mind all the time, so when I turn to look at a bottom, let's say, I excuse any lecherous thought as just nature's way. It is definitely remarkable how compelling things are in this area though.

Going down, we have the shapeliness of the legs. Those are great. Then I heard there's some guys into feet. These to me are simply utilitarian. There's absolutely no turn on for me when it comes to feet. Probably, again, because of nature, as mentioned above. Of what evolutionary sexual value are feet, except for her ability to outrun a lion if she's carrying your kid? Then it pays to have good ones.

What about a woman's face? That's where a lot of the beauty is. I saw a good show on the Science Channel about the characteristics of the face and how our eyes scan faces at lightning, intuitive speed. Our brains are crazy smart, it seems to be beyond dispute. Even if we're consciously the dumbest guy in town, our brains are still doing lots of stuff for us in the background.

I glance at women's faces all the time, and some of them really nail it. You know 'em when you see 'em. Beyond that, it's hard to describe what makes a face really stand out. Placement of the eyes, the way the mouth is, etc. It'd take all day to describe, but right now my brain isn't super smart, no matter what I said above.

Then last but not least, there's hair.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Trouble With Restaurants

I was driving downtown today on my way home and went by a little restaurant I eat at once in a while and I noticed they had the chairs upside down and setting on the tables. I've seen that lots of times at various places and it's never hit me before that people's butts are on those chairs all day and then they're in contact with the table all night. Do you suppose they wash the tables in the morning? I bet they don't. Meaning, obviously, that whatever's in the pants of people one day is under your plate the next. You've got your silverware there, your hands resting, your napkin soon to go to your lips.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I have troubles with restaurants that I'm conscious of all the time, even though this business with the chairs is something new. As to that last point, it's not in play in places that have booths, which I'll insist on from now on. I normally choose a booth anyway.

One of the things that's a constant with me -- and I usually just go ahead and risk it -- is pulling the chair out and going through the process of sitting on it. When you're seated, you're scooching in, meaning you generally grasp the sides of the chair. Right there! I'm thinking, what am I putting my hands in every time I do that?

There's plenty of places you can go -- fast food places mainly -- where the tables aren't wiped down after people leave. So you have an accumulation of crumbs, water spots, etc., and that's not so good. I don't like it. We usually do just sweep them off with a napkin and unwrap our meal and eat it on its paper. I don't think about this one extensively. I used to do a lot of camping with my family, and you get used to all the primitive conditions in life. Plus, I believe I'm close to immune by now to most of what's out there. I'm going to be OK. But that doesn't apply to the smelly butt stuff from above. That's too fresh and too nasty to my senses for immunity.

And of course everyone's experienced the thrill of unwrapping their silverware -- even at fancy, expensive places -- and finding the crustacean of past meals stuck between the tines or encrusted somewhere on the surface. Good grief, this is one that I don't fully understand, but partially, because of course it's gone through a dishwasher; it hasn't gotten the attention of an employee whose job it'd be to fully inspect it. And even if it did, they probably wouldn't be so dedicated as to make sure it was spic and span.

I've heard it said a thousand times that if you saw what went on in the kitchen of most restaurants you wouldn't eat there. I don't know if that's true or not. There's some very nice people working there and they couldn't all keep it quiet, could they? Still, it makes you wonder what does go on. I'm afraid to send anything back -- and here we're entering Seinfeld territory -- for fear that it'll come back worse, i.e., with mucous mixed in with it somewhere. My mother was notorious for sending stuff back and she never reported any extra, unwanted substances or sauces, so maybe that's just my imagination.

Most of my experiences in restaurants have been lovely, nothing terrible to report. I have pet peeves when it comes to certain things, such as the waitress checking on your too many times or too few times. There's a happy medium in there somewhere, and it's up to them to know what it is. I was just at a steak place yesterday -- one that I don't really like that much, since I've never enjoyed it one single time I've ever been there. The waiter told us hello at the door and seated us. Then we were left for a while. After a bit he comes over and apologizes for the wait and tells us no one informed him that they sent everyone home, so he would be waiting on us.

He checked on us once or so, then I was out of a drink for a while and wondering where he went. After a while, he somehow remembered us over in the corner and came and refilled out drinks. Then he was a little lax in getting our bill to us. We were up, walking around, looking at the pictures on the wall, waiting for him. Other than that, the food wasn't bad, there was just too much of it. This was a lunch menu and I had enough for two meals.

I'm getting used to the whole new routine of paying with a debit card. It feels a little funny not to be leaving a tip on the table, but by now I'd guess the waitresses know what's going on. And maybe they even get a little more than they used to because you didn't always have adequate small bills for a typical tip. With the debit card, I think I'm fairly generous. And perhaps we have a whole new breed of waitresses who don't even remember seeing money on tables. I never liked putting money on the table anyway, for fear that some of the dishonest looking guests around me would steal it.

What else? I'm sure there's plenty of other peeves I have about restaurants, but those are what I can think of tonight.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Let's Grow Old Together

Let's grow old together. A little feebler, perhaps, a little wiser. It could be we'll be worse for the wear, or maybe we'll wear well. Maybe one each. You over there on your side, your half of the blanket. Me over here, holding down this part of the fort.

I don't mind the wrinkles. I don't even see them, really, unless I'm looking. And that goes for me, too. I still see the same 16-year-old kid in the mirror, except when I'm looking really closely, then, whoa. That's what everyone else sees all the time, since they're not the 16-year-old kid.

Growing old is a mental state, if you can manage it. So far, so good. I still haven't managed it entirely, but in theory, the theory of it, I'm very good. I would love to grow old gracefully, but I keep putting it off. My worries are constant, so I haven't got the hang of it yet just letting things drift. Every phone call could be disaster. I've trained myself to see catastrophe with every strange noise or smell. The worst thing in the world is right around the corner.

My hands still don't look old, and I'm trying to look at them objectively. I've seen a lot worse, age spots, wrinkles like there's no tomorrow, veins as big as life, bad stuff. But as long as they work, they're better than nothing.

It's already past my bedtime.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Piss And Vinegar Levels

My piss and vinegar levels are very low, so low I can barely function.

Thank God I still have the ability to check, to see what the problem is. I'm going down a whole checklist, a self-examination, and it's not looking good.

My biorhythms are way off, at a low ebb. My moxie on the ball, usually one of my wettest features, is dry as a bone. You could rub it off, or, the most you can say for it, you could scrape it off.

These are some of the biggest indicators of what's going on. But they only tell part of the story. I need to go deeper, check the rest of the personal apparatus for the rest. Normally my mojo is perking along. I'm out strutting, fancying myself a lad among lads, sometimes a lad among lassies. They see me coming and there's something radiating off me that makes me the life of the party. But by God, the mojo's in minus territory. I couldn't attract a moth with a blowtorch. This is terrible.

Some of the rest is just the purely physical stuff, like my libido. I'll just flip through a few magazines from the bottom of my desk for a quick test. Yes, I'll see your spread eagle and raise you three forward thrusts. It's not working. I got nothing. This noodle's been boiled. It's time for the sauce. The only Prego I'm going to see comes in a jar. Something's happened. I've been enchanted, or de-enchanted, cursed, but who, who did it ... or what?

Mojo, libido, biorhythms, moxie on the ball.

What's this about my piss and vinegar levels? I've always had plenty of piss and vinegar. I'm the king of the inedible salad. Back in my salad days. Piss and vinegar indicates your ability--- uh, what is it again? Why do we need piss and vinegar? Good God, my memory's going too! Piss and vinegar, they say that when-- let's see, when you're sassy, that's it. Sassy, sarcastic, slyness, underhandedness when it comes to speech, the ability to undercut someone else, all that, yes.

I must still have a little piss and vinegar. Could my level really nearing empty?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Scenes From My Funeral

This is "More Scenes From My Funeral," with the first bunch of scenes being here. I might make this a regular series, since I think it'd be great to be known as a real thinker on the subject of death and funerals.

It'd be my hope that the speaker might draw everyone's attention to it, that this was a guy who knew death was coming and did his best to imagine it.

I've been imagining it since I was a kid, like I mentioned in the above linked post. Just looking back, I see I wrote a pretty good death post one year ago today, a weird one, check it out. So that's a coincidence. I'm not a morbid person, but death is a constant thing.

Today, I'm featuring babies who may be present on that somber occasion, my funeral, who won't know how to handle themselves socially, not understanding the very serious aspects of death and funerals. Why there might be babies everywhere at my funeral, I don't know. I don't know that many people with babies, nor are any of them pregnant, nor are they even having sex, insofar as I know. Maybe they are, on the sly, and just pretending like they're innocent when I'm around.

Anyway, there I am. They've got flowers all around me. I'm there in the coffin, my hands folded one over the other so they don't look out of place. Maybe a great blogger like me could dream, they could put a keyboard on my belly and my hands on the keyboard, then string up a light bulb over my head and have it rigged to periodically turn on. That would be me having my next bright idea, like what I'm going to write about next, perhaps death.

So you've got the picture, me lying in my casket, probably a temporary casket, since I plan on being cremated. The funeral director and his underlings have their hands folded as well, speaking in hushed tones, gently touching their own and everyone else's elbows. Funeral directors love calling everyone they see by name, since that's their future business. So there's a lot of hushed that going on, making merchandise of the walking stiffs.

Nothing mortifies (no pun intended) a funeral director more than to have something unexpected happen at a funeral, such as a kid that can't be shut up. So my funeral is getting underway. The organist is playing something somber to open things, and right there in the middle there's a kid, new to the family, who lets out a shriek. Everyone starts looking at each other. Will she take the kid out? How close was she to the deceased? I'm the only one who's totally comfortable with it. Finally, the young woman's father motions them to pass the baby down to the end, and he gallantly carries the youngster to the foyer.

There's a couple others, not in the family section, sniffling and lightly crying, which escalates into a full blown shriek. But since they're not in the family section, the funeral director goes over and makes motions like in a silent movie that there's an overflow room they can take them to. To spare everyone further embarrassment. The young women involved -- mothers -- start scooting toward the aisle, but not everyone can easily move their legs for them, including some old codger whose legs are rigid. They finally get him stood up so the mothers can pass. He's probably some old guy I helped one time, because I've taken mercy on people now and then, and it's nice to know at least one of them hasn't forgotten.

Looking out over the crowd from behind, the funeral director notices there's still two babies in the church, but somehow they haven't caught the crying bug. He's looking at his watch, trying to estimate how much more time there is till it's over, and what the likelihood is that they won't squawk. One of them gets a coughing fit and every eye glances over, hoping it won't develop into something worse.

At the end of the funeral, the family has specified (slightly different from general custom) that they'll open the casket one more time to look at me. So here they come parading by. I'm not moving a muscle. The first mother and child pass quietly. The second pause at my side, just as the baby decides then and there is the time to urp, and the milky urp gets all over my suit. It's a mess and everyone's mortified, but what can they do? It's not like I need a nice suit anyway. They're just going to cremate me.

At the end, most people have left the church, and the funeral directors are packing in the padding. One takes mercy and brings out a wet cloth and wipes my suit as clean as he can. Let's say I wasn't going to be cremated, imagine that kid's DNA on me suit for eternity! If they ever exhumed me, they'd think a baby was buried with me. But what happened to his tiny skeleton? The answer, of course, will be he was cremated with me, so no one's ever the wiser.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Am Joe's Mental Block

Joe used to be a capable, creative person, able to get things done pretty well, whatever he set his mind to.

Used to be. But then more and more there was a problem, a mental block, that he found hindered him with whatever task he was doing. He couldn't think clearly, as clearly as usual. The thing took over and kept him from accomplishing what he wanted, making him very frustrated.

I am Joe's mental block. One day he got me when he woke up a little depressed. Then I arranged all the things of his life in such a way that he was depressed over and over, then he woke up with a depression hangovers. I'm good.

His wife always had some things going on, his kids were clamoring for things, which always cost money. And it's not like the old days, like when Joe was a kid and his dad was so tight with money he knew better than to ask. These days, the little -- he hated to call them bastards since he knew he was the dad -- the little fellows didn't have any reluctance. They stated their need and the assumption was they'd soon have the money in hand and a little extra to tide them over. So there was a lot of stewing over that, added worries, and things were looking very dismal.

Joe had some creative projects he was working on. Some days everything just clicked, smooth as French silk pie, he was riding an idea high, he was on an idea bender, an idea kegger. He couldn't get it written down fast enough, the ideas, so he was abbreviating and rushing it and hoping it'd all make sense later. He even thought of bugging himself, so every word could be recorded!

Then I -- his mental block -- got my foot in the door. He sensed my presence, so I'd hang back in the shadows. These things can't be rushed, or, who knows -- God forbid! -- he might go to the club and work out. That's one of the things we mental blocks really hate, because -- think about it -- he gets the blood pumping, the knots out of his arms, legs, and back, and some cleansing sweat coming out his pores, and next thing you know, he's back in business! We prefer to keep him down and discouraged, always postponing any time like that for himself.

How much better it was to quietly suggest to him, "You don't have time to do anything, and what if you did? It wouldn't do any good." Then he started accepting my presence, and soon he became more docile, more lethargic, and nodding off right at the time when he should be at his most productive. I'd sit right there, cooing in his ear, "Things will be better later!" But of course, I'm sort of like a Republican candidate for office, I'm an inveterate liar, and I have a completely evil agenda if I'm able to trick you into voting for me. Later never comes! Or when it's about to come, things go crazy: the dog pisses on the floor, one of the kids slips in it and breaks his leg, and we're off again! Someone screams, "You should've taken him out!" And someone else screams back, "I've been taking him out everyday for 25 years! How about some help?!" You get the idea.

So, very soon, he's sitting there, thinking about everything he could've been doing. But the drama's been crazy. The mood's spoiled. Then the wife's sitting there with the Syfy channel blaring away with another of those worthless movies about the world taken over by aliens. And Joe couldn't have an idea even if I was gone! And I'm not going anywhere. I'll drill a hole in his head and drain it completely before I let that happen. So there he sits, chest slumped, concave. Shoulders drooping. Head depressed, clouded. Legs aching, with a very small feeling throughout.

Was there anything he could've done? Yes, to tell the truth, he could've avoided me. Just a few things like keeping his discipline, making regular time for himself, reading, working on his spiritual life. He wouldn't have had to neglect anything needful, but give time to it, get it done, and move on. Because once you get tangled up, it's not long till you're mine.

We'll fast forward the DVD of Joe's life. It's a very happy ending, as far as I'm concerned. Joe has become nothing but a shell of himself. He's sitting in a chair, big cobwebs stretching from the ceiling and lamp to his head. The whole world has passed him by. He rouses himself once in a blue moon, twitches randomly, and goes back to sleep. As a mental block, it's not all that interesting for me. But it's a job, and life's so much easier if you find such a good host.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Triumph Of The Will

I finally got the opportunity (and took it) to watch the old Nazi film, "Triumph of the Will." I saw a documentary about Leni Riefenstahl 12-15 years ago, so I knew about the film from then. But it's always been one thing or another that kept me from getting it. But seeing it on Netflix as a streaming selection simplified it, so I wouldn't have to actually buy my own copy and have it on the shelf forever.

In case you don't know about this movie, it documents the Nazis' 1934 Party Congress, a big get-together they had. They had just taken total power in Germany in 1933, so this is close to the beginning of them. And it definitely seems to record that they had total power by this time.

When I was watching it, I was also thinking of my parents, since my dad was born in '33 and mom in '34. I could picture them back here in the States, little babies, at that point oblivious to Hitler and his madness, but of course they would soon enough have his negative influence in their lives growing up.

Meanwhile, back in Germany ... The movie is usually praised for a bunch of technical reasons, all the super camera angles and interesting film perspectives the director got. She seemed to have carte blanche, since she was personally taken on by Hitler to do the film and he was the dictator at the time. There are indeed some great shots, like when the Nazis are packed in there thicker than jam and Hitler's up at the podium talking. There's some great symmetry.

To me, though, mostly it's a very sad film, because of the craziness of Hitler and the Nazis. And if I'm actually there, I'm definitely seeing it as an essentially hopeless situation, because you figure once these guys get entrenched, there's nothing that's going to get rid of them. So there's swastikas and militaristic bullshit everywhere. Even the labor corps are marching around with their shovels over their backs like guns.

I'm currently reading a book on "The Coming of the Third Reich," by Evans. It's got some extensively boring sections, although of course it's important history detailing the personalities, groups, and stats before Hitler took power. It's boring to me, because I can't remember that. But it definitely lays out the case that the time and circumstances were right for Hitler in Germany, although it wasn't all foreordained. But he and the others took advantage of the circumstances and so there they ended up.

On the positive side, in the film when Hitler's rhapsodizing about the Nazis being in power for thousands of years, it's nice to know in hindsight that they've got about another 11 years. It's still unbelievable to me that the world was somehow able to get rid of Hitler in a few short years, when the guy had an army, navy, air force, etc. By contrast, it's taken us forever with Iraq and Afghanistan, and the folks over there had nothing, comparatively speaking.

One of the most famous things about Nazi Germany is their straight armed salute. You keep watching it, as I did, and it becomes farcical. You'd think a few thousand years of jutting our arm out at every whip stitch, Germany's going to have the strongest right arms in the world! Fortunately they were defeated and so spared the horrendousness of big arms that would make them tip over. It was a crazy looking custom! But they all did it with such earnestness, with Hitler leading the way. By the way, the guy was no bundle of laughs. What a sourpuss.

The whole thing is a big praise fest for him. A couple of times the speakers, of course being a bunch of suck ups, say, "Germany is Hitler, Hitler is Germany."

For the most part, the film is fascinating. It wouldn't bear repeated viewings. There are some boring bits, as in the continuous parades and marching bands. But it holds your interest because you realize this was all true. A nation really did give itself over to this monstrosity and his henchmen.

There would be some cautionary tales in it for us today. By and large, just looking around, people still seem to be easily led and quickly deceived. I'm thinking of the whole Fox News mentality, where you have (otherwise) intelligent people parroting talking points and believing lies. My mom used to say things about us having the truth and not letting the things of Hitler ever happen again. But you can see the Germans weren't people so different from us as to be alien. The same psychology they had is in the rest of us. Just look how the Tea Party movement is so easily swayed by corporate interests, and they think they're just doing the good work of common folk!

The Cursing Father

In the spirit of the last chapters of Genesis, wherein the children's fortunes are made known, I give you the cursing father.

He has 12 children, and there on his deathbed gives them his final words, words of a curse for each one.

Nancy, I condemn you to a life of drudgery.
Marie, may you never know the love of a good man.
Tim, it's my hope that the world always beats you down.
Rufus, I see nothing but misfortune and poverty for you.
Jane, you have been a pain in my side, may you be repaid in kind.
Appleton, you will drive race cars and will wreck them all.
Fajita, you will bow down and serve others, who will despise you.
Winchell, no good will come out of any of your efforts.
Morgan, you are doomed to never bettering yourself, so give up now.
Stanley, the failures of your life have just started.
Stubs, strive though you may, it will never do you any good.
Polly, from first to last, your whole life will be a mess.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Can't We Just Let The Snake Eat Us?

I'm really not in a mood to fight tonight. Good grief, is that all anyone can think of, fighting?

I was just walking through the other room and the TV was on. Whatever I was watching earlier today was off and there was a movie on about an anaconda snake trying to eat everyone. I didn't watch much of it but I got the impression it was gigantic, maybe with a head as big as a couch. It certainly filled the TV, a 46" screen.

I heard just a piece of the dialogue, which was a guy yelling to everyone else, "Only shoot at the head! It can't be killed any other way." I was on my way through the room going to take Underbrush out for a pee and poop.

Since that's the last thing I heard, I was outside thinking about the other possible ways to kill this big snake. The guy said it had to be shot in the head, but I was thinking, "You mean to tell me, if I somehow lured it up on the railroad tracks and the train rolled over it, that wouldn't basically solve the problem?" Wouldn't it be bleeding out the back hole? Or was it too big even for a train to handle? I never saw it in relation to anyone, just in relation to my TV's size.

In my continuing thinking, I was thinking of the few basic scenarios for fiction that there are, like Man Vs. Man, Man Vs. Nature, Man Vs. Godzilla, etc. And this one obviously would fit in the Man Vs. Nature category, with the extra twist we always get, that the animals are way bigger than normal nature makes them. They've always been affected by radiation, pollution, or something. The isotopes go straight to the pituitary, and next thing you know it hulks out and is bigger than anything. That's how the Loch Ness monster got started. He was just a mouse, or some kind of mouse/dragon hybrid, then he bloated up when he consumed something dangerous, like a Big Mac.

Anyway, the imagination -- mine anyway -- stumbles over some of this stuff. It makes me tired just to think about sitting there watching a movie like this. Because you know the exact sequence it has to go. This thing doesn't work, that thing doesn't work, it's hopeless, then, miraculously, we stumble on the exact thing needed, only it's very doubtful -- everything has to go just right -- that we can make it happen before the last 10 seconds allowed for it ticks down.

It makes me think, Why don't we just let the snake eat us? Snakes need to eat too, especially snakes that big. Why are our lives so precious? We're killing things to eat them, why shouldn't the snake get in on the action?

That'd be great. You're a schoolmaster in a little village where this snake has been attacking. All the villagers come to get their children and you're like, "They're not here, the snake ate them." All very calmly. Then you explain, "The world's had enough fighting and bloodshed. Your children lived good lives, but this snake has a good life going too. Frankly, I'd like to see how big we can fatten him up to be. If we keep him well fed, it's less likely he'll want to eat us." So you can see the movie's taken a different turn. Now it's me and the snake against a bunch of murderous villagers.

Arguing With The Past: Painless Dentisty, 1906

1906. That's over 100 years ago, and you're telling me they had "painless dentistry" back then? I might have to argue with that.

One big reason would be, dentistry isn't painless now, after all these years of refining the tools and techniques. It's relatively more tolerable now than, say, the 1960s when I was most traumatized by dentists. Or the '70s, when I was somewhat less traumatized by them. Or the '80s, when I was even less traumatized. And so forth. The point is, In my lifetime -- encompassing years substantially past 1906 -- there has been plenty of pain to be found in dental work.

But somehow, in 1906 -- in a time of patent medicines and a quack on every corner -- they were able to advertise painless dentistry. I'm sorry, I'm not buying it. But I'm looking right at it and that's what it says, "Teeth Extracted Without Pain Or No Pay."

Maybe there's a little technicality in that slogan. It doesn't say there won't be plenty of pain getting you completely anesthetized. A clunk in the head, like on the Three Stooges. Or what? A large injection of something that will kill you when you get home? I don't think I'd like a dentist in 1906 working in my mouth. I'm not sure what all dentists did back then. I know undertakers also sold furniture, barbers did surgery (maybe years before 1906). What would dentists be doing on the side? Jackhammering roads? I'm sure the equipment wasn't quite as nice as now.

I'm looking at the ad a little closer and it says, "Second to none our new process for the removal of nerves in five minutes without previous treatment." Just give us five minutes of your time and we'll strip your entire mouth of nerves. The way they put that, it makes it sound like your nerves are a bunch of wires clumped back there somewhere, and when they start stripping them they come through the drywall and all.  But reading on, it says, "Here is the way it is done. Patient comes in with jumping toothache; we apply the new process, pain stops immediately, nerve removed in five minutes, tooth filled in 20 minutes and crowned in 45 minutes." Something about the nerve being removed sounds lethal.

And as for going from toothache to crown in 45 minutes, they really did have it over us today, because even today the dentist has to send out for a crown. I've never seen a rack of crowns to pick through so you can find the one you like.

This was the Union Dental Company. The ad is from a Des Moines newspaper. They sound like a fairly large outfit, not like our little dental offices today. One, it says "No delay." So you can get right in. They have their own laboratory, which must be where they came up with the crowns. Then in capital letters it says, "NO SWEAT SHOP WORK, as we are agents for no factory." That sounds good. Then, "ALL WORK DONE AT HOME at prices lower than any dentist in Des Moines." Sounding good too. And listen to all the languages they speak there, German, English, French, Italian, and Swedish! And not an "Owww" in any of those tongues! (I added that last bit.)

Prices follow: "Very best set of teeth, $7.00; Gold crowns, $4.00; Bridge work, per tooth, $4.00; Gold Fillings, $1.00 and up; All other fillings, 50c and up."

I can't argue with the prices. They sound very cheap, only $7.00 for a set of teeth. At that price I might do it like they do contact lenses, just throw them away and start over with a new set every week.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I Heard Her Say "Biology"

We were like two ships that passed in the night, and I just heard one toot of the horn.

It happened 20 minutes ago. The experience is already wearing off, already losing some of its magical quality. But as long as I can maintain interest, I'll try to convey something of what happened. It wasn't much ... or was it?

Like I said, it was just 20 minutes ago. I was driving home. Since it's a nice day, I had my window rolled down. I came to a particular corner fairly near to home. There was a student, I believe she was at a corner waiting to cross the street, then in the process of crossing. As I drove by, I heard her say on the phone one word, "Biology." She probably was saying more, but because I was driving, accelerating through the intersection and away from her, that's all I heard.

Since I still had maybe eight blocks to go to get home, I started thinking, "What if they asked me to speak at her funeral? To get up and say a few words about her, that this was all I knew." I honestly didn't even look at her, so I wouldn't know what she looked like. I know she was young, like many students are, but that's about it. What would I have to go on, just this one word, "Biology."

It's definitely a word that means something to me. I never did that well at biology, not that I'm incapable of excelling, because I am. It's just at the time, at that moment, I wasn't into it and didn't apply myself. Whether she shares something of that problem -- and happened to be on the phone telling a friend of her dislike of biology -- I guess I'll never know. It could just as easily been that she was telling someone her favorite subject in the whole world and what she wants to dedicate her life to.

So let's say that they didn't really have anyone to speak at her funeral, but somehow they knew that she and I had this passing relationship, a guy driving by just as she was on the phone, and maybe if she'd been run over by the guy behind me. Did she say anything? What was her last word? I only heard one word, and I would be truthful as to what it was, racking my mind -- oh, yes -- it was "Biology."

Could you, would you say something at her funeral. It would've meant a lot to her. It would? Why? That's just the kind of person she was. Oh, I didn't know that.

I would have to prepare my remarks with the word in mind, "Biology."

"I believe if ______ (let's just say Stephanie), if Stephanie were here today she would want us to know she had a happy life, and that we wouldn't be too over burdened with grief. There's a subject I believe was very dear to her heart, and I hope you agree, which was Biology. Biology is a subject where lifeforms come and go. That's just the way it is. I heard her discussing it on the phone -- I wasn't eavesdropping, just passing by and I couldn't help but hear it through an open window -- and I believe she expressed it with a lot of respect in her voice, like she couldn't wait to spend the upcoming weekend, a nice weekend, studying Biology. Had she lived, she might've become a great biologist, perhaps a professor. What she might've discovered in her chosen field, we shall never know. But it would've been something."

It's too bad that I'll never get to know Stephanie, or whatever her name is. Because I might ask, "That day, why were you talking about Biology? Did you mean for me to overhear you? Because if you did, you really timed it well. But why would you mean for a random person driving by to hear this particular word, when it could have been any word, depending on the context of your phone conversation and how it had progressed?"

Such questions, such speculations are making me sleepy. Plus, it's all so vain, because I never will know. Had I known in advance, wouldn't that have been great. I could've anticipated the exact moment when she was to say it, and with such clarity. I would've strained to hear what she said before that, then after. I would've at least glanced over and seen what she looked like, just in case we'd ever meet again and I wanted to ask her about the context and the subject. But now, all my chances are passed.

We didn't really have Biology, but it's all we had, and, like they say in the movies, we'll always have Biology.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Arguing With The Past: A Church In 1902

We've all seen movies about time travel, and the problems that happen when they go back in time and change things. That's not what this is about. I can't change anything about the past.

What this is about is arguing with the past, what should have been done instead of what they did. I can't do much about what they did. Of course in this case, involving the building above, since it's still there, it could be razed to the ground. But that would involve the expense of buying it from the present owners, while in no way making up for problems it caused nearly 110 years ago.

The building in the drawing is the "Proposed New Presbyterian Church" in Estherville, Iowa, from a newspaper account of July 2, 1902. Two days before July 4! What a way to do things, spring the news on us right before a long July 4 weekend (July 4 was on Friday that year). Presenting it essentially as a fait accompli right when we're off to celebrate our nation's independence, then when we get back on Monday we're too tired to raise arms against it. Next thing you know, they're turning the shovel...

I'm getting a little ahead of myself with the arguing, sorry. I wanted to look at the article a little more in detail. From The Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, IA, Wed., July 2, 1902, page 1, it reads:

Above we present a cut of the new Presbyterian church as designed by Architect James Cox, of this city. We understand the bids for construction are considerably above the sum intended for the purpose by the congregation. The building is one that would be an ornament, and a credit to any city; and yet quite within the resources of the Presbyterian congregation, if they would only think so. It is now evident to everybody that this city is disgracefully behind the times with its church buildings, and if any congregation in Estherville needs a new a larger building, the Presbyterians do. We understand that in the last year and a half, their membership has about doubled. Should their success continue, what will they do with their people? We sincerely hope that this new church will be a reality in Estherville within six months.

I've never seen this church, but going by the recent Google street view picture, they managed to build it. Whether it was within six months -- the paper seems to be really rushing it -- I don't know. Now, some of my arguments against the past, admittedly, are going to be based on ignorance. I have neither the time nor resources to research this as I should. That said, I'm going to make certain assumptions which perhaps could be considered drastically negative so my arguments can be made more strenuously and with greater conviction.

I'm going to assume that the old church was located somewhere else, and that they pulled strings to displace property owners on this particular block to sell out. I'm going to assume that they had an in with the city council and other authorities. I'm going to assume there were shady payoffs, and that while they may have had an interest in souls going to Heaven, their ethics were strictly from Hell. And I'll take it one step further, that the poor folks whose homes were demolished sat in the street pleading with the church, even staying overnight, and that, unknown to anyone until now, one of the deacons (or perhaps he was an elder) drove a bulldozer over them in the middle of the night. I'm assuming that bulldozers were in existence at the time. All that plus whatever other evidence occurs to me in the course of the next few paragraphs...

First, I wonder why the Estherville newspaper was so gung ho about getting the project built in the next six months. What's the rush? Shouldn't the people who live on the block have more notice than that? Shouldn't they be allowed to make an appeal to authorities beyond the city limits who might not be on the make? Six months after July, that puts us right in the heart of the winter. Are they expecting the poor folks on that block will leave quietly, then head somewhere warmer, some other town, without putting up a fuss?

Next, if I'm a member of the congregation, I'm wondering why they're ramrodding this thing through, since the architect, a local guy (!), brought in a bid "considerably above" what the congregation wanted to pay. Can't we shop around, maybe get a guy from out of town who's not acting in collusion with the city council and newspaper? Who's scratching whose back in this shady deal? That's my thought. Plus, I'm thinking, if it's "considerably above" what we want to pay, why do we need the big gothic tower out front? That's just wasted space, and within a hundred years or so, it'll be considered so cliche. How about something more practical? Like something prefab.

And how do you like it that the newspaper considers churches "ornaments" to a city? That's disgusting! A church is meant to be a servant of the Lord and the people, not to deck itself out in gold and finery, plaiting itself like a wanton whore. I could find verses for you in the Bible that judge this church for its attention to ornamentation instead of love for its neighbors. Simply displacing the poor folk who lived on that block, throwing them out in the street with winter coming, would bring judgment enough on them. But to stand idly by while a guy in a recently-invented bulldozer (possibly pulling a big lawnmower) smashes them, then grinds them to bloody body tissue, if that's not worshiping Moloch instead of God, I don't know what is!

I'm reading this -- and I'm, like, What? "The city is disgracefully behind the times with its church buildings..." If there's any disgrace here, it's the disgrace of bulldozing your own neighbors' homes, then mowing down their gardens with your mower attachment! That's a disgrace! One, you didn't give them a fair hearing. The city council, the newspaper, the architect, and the other powers that be were all in one another's pockets. This deal stinks to high heaven. The payoffs, the winks, the nods, the chuckling at other folks' misfortune, it's disgusting ... and you talk about disgrace? Those homes, I'm convinced, were built a long time before. People gave their lives to pay them off, for what? Only to find themselves in the street the first time "a church" decides it needs more lebensraum?

The Presbyterian church's membership had doubled in the last year or so, huh? I wonder how that happened! Maybe by a lowering of their standards, maybe by allowing in some of the baser element who would be vital to the underhanded deals in the very near future. I'm only speaking my own suspicions. This church knew it was going to be breaking kneecaps and inflaming the community with an unprecedented Reign of Terror, unlike anything seen since John Calvin himself, and for that they doubtless brought in a few hundred ringers from Geneva. Big, tough guys, brass knuckles, looking like Bolsheviks or professional wrestlers.

Then some of the other folks making up the increase would be local residents afraid of the Reign of Terror, and "converting" to Presbyterianism only to avoid the worst of the scourge. To those who were weak and gave in without a struggle, I don't give blanket condemnation; I'm sure they had their reasons. But to those who were strong and stood up as long as they could before the bulldozer came, I offer the greatest praise. And of course to any who hid their neighbors in closets and crawlspaces, I honor them as well. We may never know how many lives were spared in Estherville. Their testimonies would be great to hear, so this disgrace never happens again.

Looking at the church in the Google picture, it doesn't look as magnificent as the 1902 drawing. They've boarded up the bell tower and it looks like some shrubby tree took root. In short, rather than being the "ornament" they dreamed of, it's complete squalor. If there's anyone left from 1902, I ask, "How ya like them apples?" Because I only tell it like it is...

Arguing with the past is a useful exercise because time goes on. And we can let the failures of the past be cautionary tales for the future. If we want to build it, let's do it justly, and not ... by leaving victims bleeding in the street, victims whose blood still cries out to this day, over a century later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sri Masturbananda -- Turn On, Turn Off, Turn On

Life for the spiritual devotee, on the average, is no different than for anyone else. But there are those above average moments, when we remember our master's teaching, and, acting on his instructions, find ourselves set free. Until next time.

One of the terrible things we all face is distractions. We don't have to wait in line to be distracted! Because it's always something, someone on the phone, someone at the door, having to go to the bathroom, your house on fire... Sometimes I think it's just me, but of course it's the same for everyone. You couldn't get a moment's peace in a monastery!

Fortunately, we have a higher source, a higher wisdom to look to as a guide in how to relieve us of distractions. At the very least we can blunt the anxiety of life, or free our thinking so we can do more important things, like trying to get an even better score on Wii Resort Golf. Or attaining the heights in spiritual dimensions and worlds beyond the experiences of everyday consciousness.

The higher source for me and an ever-growing number of sincere devotees is a relationship with the Indian master, Swami Sri Masturbananda, whose calling in this world is to teach and lead the way. The master has come from the highest dimensions to give us the guidance we need. He knows both the ways of the world and everything that's beyond. Such a great master!

As I've explained before, Sri Masturbananda has more of a spirit of grace than many masters, who themselves are good in their own way. Because he's not calling for greater denial of our being, but shows us the ways of ascension in our being as it is. And, really, that's half the battle, because we're simply building on spiritual experiences we've already had without necessarily realizing it!

In short, his doctrine is to glimpse the highest realms -- light and closeness to divinity -- in the course and at the climax of "devotions" we already do. For many of us, it's just a matter of seeing our present behavior as devotions and not just a filthy vice that leads to hairy palms and blindness. I can truthfully say, They're lying when they say it leads to blindness, although it is advisable to keep an extra razor in the house.

Those glimpses of the divine -- at just that key moment -- are great, they're special. And in the course of continued efforts, according to Sri Masturbananda, they will open up all in due time into an ongoing experience of the divine. But that's not all there is to it. As I alluded to above, the devotions are also good for the benefits they bring to our daily round of life here and now.

One of the benefits is the reduction of distractions. I know how easy it is -- let's say you're out and about, somewhat stoved up, you haven't been faithful in your devotions -- and you're driving along, driving through town, and suddenly every woman or every guy you see looks like Mr./Ms. Right. There's an immediate connection, you think, or could be if you had the leeway to just walk up to them and engage them in intimate activity there on the sidewalk or on a nearby bench. It could blossom into a beautiful relationship, possibly marriage, then children, old age, and death.

The big problem with this scenario is, Anyone who'd do that on the sidewalk or bench isn't worth having, including you. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. And yet-- And yet-- how common the temptation is! Because we're distracted. Our mind is scanning every face out there, every body part, keying in on specific ones (cleavage, hips, rounded bottoms, rippling biceps, chiseled, sculpted features, etc.) Our mind is like a super computer, keying in, examining data, charting facts and figures, making evaluations, and triggering the lust switch. I feel it's all so obvious to the people passing by, that I need to look the other direction immediately, or at the very least disconnect my wolf call horn.

So I'm distracted, you're distracted. And when we're distracted, we're no good, not for those beautiful people on the sidewalks, and not for ourselves. That's where the master's teaching comes in, calling us to work on our devotions, withdrawing to a private place -- a bathroom, a bedroom, behind a tree, under a bridge, in a culvert, etc. -- and devoting ourselves to our meditation strenuously enough that it's all over. And don't forget, while you're watching for police cruisers, also to watch for glimpses of the divine in those key seconds, or, at the very least, clean up and enjoy the free time you've now bought yourself from distraction.

Sri Masturbananda knows sometimes we need to turn off in order to turn on, to get rid of distractions. Then to turn on in order to turn off, to make important steps in the divine life. It's a cycle, sometimes vicious, sometimes not. Just remember, the controls are in your hands.


Note: Follow this link for other important Swami Masturbananda teachings.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Deceased Pets Week

In the spirit of Facebook status updates having to do with loved ones in heaven -- dear old Dad, dear old Mom, dear old Grandma, dear old Aunt Betty, and Uncle Clarence -- it's time we remembered our dearest friends, our deceased pets.

If you agree, please post this as your Facebook status for the next hour:

It is Deceased Pets Week, honoring the memory of our dearest friends, the pets of childhood and later years. I have the conviction that not one of them is really dead, but all of them are alive and well, waiting for us in Heaven. They were there for us when no one else was. They walked us to school and were the first to welcome us home. They never wanted much, just our love, and that's what they gave us as well. If you have a pet (or more than one) waiting for you in Heaven, post this as your FB status for the next hour. (Pit bull owners, please think it over before you post.)

As for me, I'm thinking back. There's family pictures of me as a baby and toddler and there's dogs and geese in the pictures I don't remember. The dogs we're playing with, holding, being friendly with, so those were good pets even though their names aren't known now. The geese, I'm sure we never named them. Obviously they're all deceased, since one sure thing in life has always been, Animals in black and white pictures are always dead.

The first dog that was really mine was Eggard. He's up in Heaven of course since he died when I was around 5, 6, or 7. I remember burying him about ½ mile from Grandpa's half acre here, and I've thought about him being dust all these years. No box, no nothing, maybe a cloth.

Then there was Poohie, the mother of lots of dogs, a collie. She was the mother of Friskie, who was a great dog of my cousins. They're all in Heaven, probably looking forward to giving us all a great welcome when we get up there. I wish I could remember what they died of, so I could see if modern science could've kept them alive had it been around at the time. Friskie was well known for killing a number of squinnies (ground squirrels).

Dogs were mostly what we had growing up. No cats. Beyond Poohie and her dynasty, there were Peanuts, Bozo, and Spoochie. P and B were beagles and S was a collie. Peanuts was gotten when Grandpa saw him trapped in a culvert. Grandpa went to some real trouble getting Peanuts out of there. It was ironic, all the years that followed, that Peanuts always hated Grandpa and would bark anytime he was around. I told some people that a couple weeks ago and they did what people do these days when you tell them something ironic, they shrugged their shoulders and didn't answer. Truly pearls before swine!

I mentioned Bozo. I had seen an ad in the paper for a beagle that was lost and there was a reward. The ad said the dog answered to the name of Bubbles, so I called for him, "Here, Bubbles!" and he came to me. Then when we called Bubbles' owner, this wasn't him. So we kept him for quite a few years, renaming him Bozo. That seems like it'd be weird. You're a full grown dog and someone switches names on you midstream. But we didn't know his original moniker, and, like the Bubbles thing proved, he answered to anything.

Spoochie. The biggest thing I remember about Spoochie is she got the mange and lost the back half of her hair. So I'm hoping, when I see her come running to greet me in Heaven ... you know, that somehow her back half has grown back or has been magically blinked back into place. A dog's tail sticking up amid an unnatural bald spot is a terrible sight to see.

Other dogs have come and gone. Run over by cars. There's no cure for that. Then there have been some cats, good ones and evil ones. I'm not going to mention them all by name. Then lots of fish, which no one cares about at all. If you're looking to make friends, don't make the mistake of being born a fish. What else? I've never had a pet of my own in a cage, no rabbits, anything like that. We always went rabbit hunting, so the idea of having rabbits as pets to me is ridiculous.

They're all in heaven, my deceased pets. And yours!

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Real Life Pink Professor

In honor of Valentine's Day, this is a paean to my guy. He knows who he is.

I was always sure Pink Professors existed. Call it a momentary glimpse in childhood that revealed itself then disappeared, like the grail.

I heard of them years ago. Other kids made fun of the idea. They said they knew of one who killed himself, rubbing it in that I was looking for a fantasy that was strung up somewhere. It makes me sick even now to think of what they said, but they were just kids. Kids are evil, like adults, but now they're smart enough to keep it to themselves.

I traveled the country, afraid of what I might find, all the disease out there. And I had offers, but I always turned them down. I would never lower myself in those backstreet places. I kept my integrity. I knew there would be a glistening, descending heavenly city when the moment was right.

In the back alleys, I'd peek through the screen door of every women's hair salon. I saw a lot of fascinating sights, including a Mr. Felix character a couple times, but no Pink Professors. It got so bad that I started doubting, coming to lump it in with the other myths of childhood -- Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Land Without School.

Good God, it frightens me to say it today, but I went through a lot of back alleys! I could hear these little squeaking noises everywhere, like little cries for help. Could it be a Pink Professor? No, this was when everyone was raising chinchillas -- and that's all it was. Now, looking back from 2011, a chinchilla farm in every garage is absurd, but back then...

In more recent years, then, as everyone's tolerance level grew, I heard reports of bikers bars that were, suspiciously, more demur than their typical reputation would allow for. But I chalked it up to something else, like more women driving motorcycles; really, I didn't even think about it much beyond that. And yet, I might have gotten in on the ground floor! O, to know then what I know now!

I explored all of culture, the entire counterculture, and even every subculture that was open to me. It's amazing to look back on it, that in all the frustration, I still dared to hope. That, in the face of my hopes being dashed time after time. I'd ask the barkeep, interrupting him as he wiped glasses with the tail of his apron, but the word was always the same, "No, he hasn't been here yet."

After a while, they hated to see me coming. So I resorted to subterfuge, looking over fences with binoculars, climbing on rooftops with a telescope, and peering from manholes with a periscope. You get a lot of funny looks that way, but I did anything I had to to enhance my vision ... but nothing!

Then, one random night, after I'd basically given up, I let down my guard and went to a bikers bar, the Roadhouse. I was thinking I'd probably get beaten up, but if it'd dull the pain, it'd be worth it. My pessimism was on overload. I walked in, and guess what, I almost cussed a blue streak in celebration, there he was! The most awesome Pink Professor figure I could imagine! But it wasn't love at first sight ... mainly because I didn't dare think that far ahead. I had to be sure.

I came home and wrote him up as a hypothetical figure. I hate to refer back to it because what I wrote was simply a mishmash of lies I could barely stutter. But he was real -- there in the flesh, there in the spirit, my Pink Professor! It was September 23, 2010, and I went in that bar with the same thoughts I'd always had, but now they were in the back of my mind. Then reality lightning.

And so since then we've gotten closer and closer. Love has been announced. The rules of love have been set out. We've talked about s-e-x. And with that, I shall draw the blinds!

I was looking for a particular man to savor, to clamor after, to slobber after, to fall in love with, a person who would show the greatest kindness, and that's what I found. I'm not at liberty to say his real name, so I'll have to keep calling him The Pink Professor...

This one's mine, you find your own!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Local Man Catches His Own Worms

My identity is that of the local man. It's an ideal position without being snooty. Let's hear it for the local man.

I'm a plainclothes man.
I'm a man of the people.
I don't live up in the rarified regions.
The ordinary side of town is preferable to me.
I don't put on airs.
I've got a penchant for woolens.
I prefer the lower land, where pure water flows.
I keep my feet firmly grounded on mother earth.
To me, humility is a virtue, tooting your own horn a vice.
I catch my own worms and release any that happen to make it back alive.
I take home unused jelly packets and napkins because I'm frugal and resourceful.
I read the 'Pluggers' comic panel and fail to see the humor in it.
I despise the Republican party and wish it'd go to hell.
I call high prices what they are, a rook.
My favorite philosopher is Lao Tzu or Chuang Tzu, and I've already killed a thousand Buddhas.
I put my bed in storage to promote morality.
When you get me mad, that's when the fur flies.
My physiognomy is average.
People who see me go about their normal business.
I've never been able to shoot a crow.
I get winded easily.
I know the lesson of the tortoise and the hare.
I keep the old fashioned values readily at hand.
No one has to tell me which way the wind blows.
My sense of direction is usually reliable.
I keep an eye out for bad influences.
No matter what urban renewal does to Skidrow, it's still Skidrow to me.
I'd rather not try anything for the first time.
I have my eye out for a logical conclusion.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A True Story Of Fate And Revenge

OK, everyone knows I spent the night Thursday with the Pink Professor. We had a lovely time, with the wine, cheese, and sardines. He took a long shower and the night sailed by.

Maybe I was a little tired Friday morning, although to be truthful I didn't feel like it. I'm trying to think of what I could blame the near accidents on. Actually, really, it seems like the other guys were all at fault, so I really shouldn't be beating myself up about it at this point.

It gave me a bunch of reasons to think of fate, that's for sure. Tagging on to an old radio show I used to listen to, called "Diary of Fate." The premise of the show, just to be brief about it, was that the "little things" of life change your fate; or, rather, that Fate personified is using the little things to guide you toward your deserved destiny. It might be a tiny patch of ice that you slip on. Fate says, "It was a little thing," as he methodically makes sure you die. Look it up on the internet, the episodes are available, and it's a very entertaining show.

Anyway, I was thinking of that. The Pink Professor and I were going out for breakfast. We wanted to go to a particular place. OK, here we go, we're driving along, when suddenly there's an ambulance speeding toward us. We're not in the lane closest to the side of the road, so we have to edge over in the lane that has traffic that's for the most part already pulled over. Then a firetruck, seconds later, and the same thing. As we're getting ready to go, the guy next to us, in a van, doesn't see us and almost plows into my car. Close call #1.

We get to the restaurant and we're going for a good parking place, right up close. Suddenly this other guy starts backing up and looks like he's bound to plow into us. I lay on the horn and he immediately came to a stop. Now we have a quandary. Do we go into the restaurant the same time as him and have him glaring at us all through the meal (he had his wife with him, and since he would have justified the incident as my fault, she'd be glaring at us too.) So I buzzed around the parking lot, to the Pink Professor's consternation, and just about collided with a guy coming from the road onto the parking lot. Close calls #2 and #3.

At this point, I'm vocally alluding to the "Diary of Fate" show, filling in the P.P. on its themes, which he'd never heard of. Plus, I'm trying to keep track of the road as we headed for an alternate restaurant. I told him we were totally out of our "fate stream" and that we'd have to be extra careful about everything between that moment and the time that we reentered it. Because, however you look at it, stuff at this point shouldn't have been happening.

We went to the second restaurant. A guy is pulling out of a parking space. My extra vigilance tells me he might've plowed into us if I hadn't been watching so closely. But I was on to his tricks and stopped in plenty of time. I'm watching the fate stream!

Nothing happened during the meal, all was well.

Then, this morning, Saturday, after I had spent the evening in my own home, apart from the Pink Professor, I went over and picked him up. We were going to go out two mornings in a row, kind of unusual. But I told him everything with the matters of fate were squared away, at least insofar as I could determine. It's a matter of rotating Chinese metal balls, manipulating a few yarrow sticks, flipping pennies, and putting a wet finger up in the wind. All was well.

So we were headed to the first restaurant, the one we intended to go to in the first place. We got inside the restaurant, and wouldn't you know it? The guy from the incident the day before! He came over to our table and announced loudly that he figured he'd see me the next day, and that he was still a little pissed off about what happened. This is unbelievable, I know. His wife had a look of ire and embarrassment all at the same time.

He said something to the effect of he knew who I was, that he'd been asking around about me, that he knew I wrote this blog, and a whole bunch of other stuff that rang true. I explained that all I had done was lay on the horn trying to prevent an accident. He said that any accident that involves a vehicle being rear-ended is the fault of the guy behind it. I countered with 'That's true, but it's not true if the guy behind is sitting still and the guy in front is in motion.' He accused me of being a lawyer want-a-be, and we appeared to be at a stalemate.

Finally, before we took our seat and tried to enjoy our meal, he told me he knew I had a little blond colored dog and what her name was, Underbrush. That really bothered me! And still, even as I type it, I'm shaking. I've been keeping an extra close watch on her all day. (He must have read it on the blog. What a crappy world we live in when a guy can Google your dog's name!)

But the morning was good beyond that. No more near misses. Our breakfast went well. The guy and his wife ate on one side of the restaurant, we were across the room.

The immortal words of the character "Fate" from the show ... I'll close with ... "Fate plays no favorites. It could happen to you!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sex Talk With The Pink Professor

Editor's Note: As you know, one of the strictest policies of this blog is that "Nothing Blue Is Allowed." Anything that may arouse or stimulate prurient interest in anyone, not excluding those who are the most easily stimulated (teenage boys), is strictly forbidden. The only time sexual matters are discussed is when they're presented in an academic way or for purposes of promoting greater health and hygiene in society. Tonight's post adheres closely to this policy.

I'm together with the Pink Professor tonight. I'm not really allowed to kiss and tell, so I won't be saying too much about that or what could happen later on tonight, not even if you take me down and tickle me. And there's certain spots where I'd say almost anything to get you to stop...

Like I said, I'm together with him. We're this close, the closest of friends. But he's in the other room, the bathroom specifically, taking a nice hot shower all by himself. Since that might go on for 20-25 minutes -- he believes in savoring things. I have no idea what he's savoring right now, probably involves a lot of strategically rubbed lather -- I have my laptop on my hot little laptop typing this out. I'm not in any hurry -- slooooow and steady wins the race, and to prove it, I even wrote a very rare "Editor's Note" tonight, which tells of a policy I insist on.

I don't think it's out of line at this point to say that love is in the air. Why I'm not in the shower with him, I know that's your question. That's a good question and one I've been asking myself. And I haven't got a really good answer, except sometimes love forbears. I don't need to cling. Plus, how should I say this? Some of the nicest packages are best opened slooooowly and steadily, inch by inch. Also, some of the mystique is gone if you're in the shower. It's the same reason I never went to circus parades, a reference having to do with elephant trunks being hooked to elephant tails in the harsh light of day.

There'll be other nights for that. We moderately young, at least not as old as we'll be in a few years, so I'm willing to put up with a little privacy if it keeps some of the mystery. But other nights -- who knows? -- maybe I'll be fighting him for the soap, because I can go crazy with the rest of them, and it'll be "No Holds Barred" and "Katie Bar The Bathroom Door!" But I draw the line at towel snapping, since it's dangerous. I never liked it when other guys did it in the shower in school and I don't like it now. But we're grown up and I can't believe we'd either one of us ever be into that kind of horseplay. You don't want to crawl under the covers with a big welt ... I don't.

The shower of course wasn't our first order of business of the night. We've been slicing a few pieces off a big summer sausage, nice to do on a cold winter night. And having some chunks of cheese. And sardines. And some fine wine to wash it all down with. I'm a lot more romantic than you might think. I'm old fashioned. I like to join arms and make eye contact till we cry. But it didn't go that far tonight. Romance is very important though.

In there somewhere, among the first orders of business, we just let the conversation go where it would, which eventually included some talk about matters of the human physique (sex talk). It was probably the wine that stimulated some of the talk that wouldn't be fit for the blog -- I know a lot of kids read this and I'd hate to think they were getting any ideas, since, with their hormones, anything can and usually does happen. I was a kid once and I remember more of it than I probably should. I can't believe some of the stuff we did, crazy stuff we wouldn't think of doing now. I'm not even going to say what it was. I haven't had that much wine!

With the Pink Professor -- that's not his real name but that's what I'm allowed to call him, since he serves as the Pink Professor figure at a local bikers bar, being both a professor and fulfilling the pink aspects of the job in other ways -- we got into some more academic matters having to do with the more fleshly side of life. Including a brilliant question if I do say so myself that I came up with, which was, "Is it really full frontal nudity if the guy has a dickie?" Putting aside the obviously funny word "dickie," the question implies a great point. A dickie is worn on the front, usually under a shirt, but say the guy has stripped down to nothing, leaving very little to the imagination, yet he still has on a dickie, that's not nudity!

And the same thing would go for women. If she's strutting around with high heels on, that might be sexy as all get out, but it's not nudity. It's just a little pet peeve of mine, like when you see movies advertised with nudity, and they're not completely naked, I think it's false. It's a matter of accuracy in definitions. Yes, of course, it might be more sexy to have her in high heels or him in a dickie (doubtful) -- better would be a torn T shirt and cut off shorts, carrying a thrusting jackhammer, but you get my point. Plus, add to the lady's attire a camisole, that'd be nicer.

The talk went on like that, with lots of laughs. And a few nice romantic asides, leading me to dangle a sardine over his open mouth. I got it near his lips, then pulled it away. A little sardine oil dripped off and hit his tongue. He looked at me funny and I burst out laughing. ("Is that a promise or a threat?") A few more angles and dangles with the sardine, when, just when I thought I had it mastered, he jumped straight up like a dolphin -- totally unforeseen -- and gulped it right out of my fingers! So that's the way you work, Mister, taking forbidden fruit before I've said "Yes!" (Sardines are a heck of an aphrodisiac, I hear, if you need outside stimulants.)

Oh, I just heard the shower make another noise. He might be in the rinse mode or maybe it's wax. Whatever, I have just a few minutes left. And I still need to make a graphic to go with this post. Fortunately I can do it real fast. My idea is Leonardo da Vinci's "Man" with a dickie. I'll put in one dickie but it looks like he'll end up with two.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Right Of Space-Hogging Non-Ebooks To Exist

It's perhaps too early to question the right of the average non-ebook to exist. But sooner or later -- perhaps within months -- I believe we'll be openly asking, "Why should it?"

Is it really worthwhile to have them hogging so much space? When the room they take up could be used for something else, or perhaps just left as an open, inviting space?

A few good books used to be a great look in a house. If you didn't want them to actually read, they made a nice way to decorate your home. There's still something to that -- especially with some kind of old hardbacks or finely bound classics. It can give a warmth or class to your decor. At least that's still true to my eye. But it's not hard to see the day coming when young people might see them and ask, "Why do you have all these space-hogging non-ebooks cluttering your shelf? You could put your games there." And really, if you think of it, it actually is kind of silly, since that was never their real purpose.

I can see it both ways. We have a clash of cultures. Those of us who grew up with non-ebooks -- books -- got used to seeing them around. We might even take one off the shelf and look at it; of course not very often, Mom would want it back on the shelf for its decorative qualities. And I can see it from the point of view of  young people today, that it's just so much dead weight. They're also very dusty. You can get dust bunnies on the tops of books, not good if you have allergies or are a neat freak.

They really are dead weight, and they really do hog space. If you go to a library you can immediately see the problem. If everything in there were converted to digital copies, it'd all fit in your hip pocket. But as non-ebooks on many shelves -- shelf after shelf -- if just one fell over, it'd kill you. On the other hand, if they dumped every ebook in the world on you, you could offer back the taunt, "Is that the best you can do? That was a mosquito -- not quite." The point is it'd be very painless, even humorous.

I've heard of communities moving their libraries across town by passing book after book along a chain of people a mile long. It reminds me of one of those examples like, "If you lined up every Jelly Belly made in a year, it'd stretch halfway to the moon and back." You just don't want to do it very often -- moving books or jelly beans to the moon or across town. But with ebooks, as a contrast, a neighborhood kid could put them in his backpack and take them to the new library on his way home. Easy!

We're living in a transitional time, with things that used to take up an enormous amount of space being reduced to microbes. Now we think in terms of megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes. The numbers get bigger and bigger -- astronomical -- but they take up no more space than a dime. The transition is going apace, but still, like I said, there are some hold outs trying to take the old world with them.

So what do I foresee the library of the future will look like? It will still need tables and chairs; we still haven't found a foolproof way to reduce our bodies down to a microscopic size. There will still be the help lady at her normal size desk. A drinking fountain for people who get a tickle in their throat. Toilets for doing our business. And of course those Murphy tables for diaper-changing, even in the men's room(!).

What am I missing? Oh yes, the ebooks, which will take up only enough space so they don't get lost! Or enough space so one guy isn't able to steal the entire collection. But let's say someone tried to steal them. They could have it rigged up like money in the bank, to blow up and spray red paint everywhere. Then they could have spare copies of everything in a cabinet and just bring out another copy to replace the first one.

I'm personally doing my part in this great transition, throwing away my non-ebooks, donating them to Goodwill, or, more profitably, grinding them up and selling the paper mulch to bait shops to use as worm bedding. I've freed up so much space I might have to remodel my house and take off a room, meaning I'll then be saving on heating and cooling costs ... and paying less taxes as my house becomes smaller. And look how happy the worms of the world will be..

There's no good reason to hang on to the extraneous junk of the past. Books may have been good for our great-grandparents, but ebooks are good for us.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Forgive World War II Soldiers For Having Sex

I have a little blog housekeeping to take care of, to tidy up, and I guess today's as good a time as any to get it done. Of course I'm referring to my two posts on World War II soldiers and sex and the fact that I never had what I consider a necessary third when there's two. If you've got one and two, I believe you need three. It's why you often hear of a trilogy but seldom a duology. Because everyone thinks the same thing.

The first part was "Did World War II Soldiers Have Sex?" And the second was "Should World War II Soldiers Have Had Sex?" These were both written toward the beginning of January. I'm not going to look back to refresh my memory about what I wrote then. I think I can recall it. The first part examines the issue, asking a question that would have an inevitable yes answer. The second looks at it from a judgmental angle, Should they have done what they did in having had sex? I believe I was somewhat lenient on that, although I seem to recall I would've excluded sex if it had meant ending the war sooner. First things first...

For the third part, I want to do a Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis kind of thing, to synthesize the issues once and for all. My point of view on doing that will end in forgiveness for each and every soldier (or sailor) who yielded to temptation, tasted carnal fruit, or was otherwise sexually activity. Note, I'm excluding from judgment the realm of sexual thought or temptation, purely that, because even the best of us have been swayed in our thoughts toward the things of lust. Offering forgiveness will not be a matter of condoning their behavior by any means, but will be tied in with the basic issue being, at this late remove, moot.

Forgiveness comes easily for me, to tell the truth, whether the underlying issue is moot or not. I've had people lie to me and I know it's a lie. I've had people help themselves to things they had no business taking, like pop from my refrigerator, and I've said nothing about it. And different ones have hurt my feelings with the things they've said or done, yet I try my best to let bygones be bygones, to forgive and forget. The key difference in those things, though, is that they haven't involved world war and the freedom of the world. But if I'm going to err when it comes to our lusting soldiers, it's going to be erring on the side of mercy.

I mentioned the late remove we are from the actual deeds. World War II was by and large restricted to a period of time in the 1940s plus a brief time at the tail end of 1939. That's a long time ago. Many of the principals from that time are now deceased or have aged to the point that they could no longer cut the mustard even were it offered them. What happened in the past, the distant past, is a fact they can't change, so really, at this late date, why even bring it up?

I know, the argument against that is that no one would ever be held responsible for anything, because time will pass. But note, that's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying the passing of time itself means anything, although we have laws having to do with a statute of limitations, so the point is enshrined in legal custom. It's the passing of so much time that I'm referring to. If we would have taken on these horny rascals, say, in 1970, when most of them were going out for steaks and drinks and dancing with women perhaps not their wives, things might have been different. But time has passed.

Another reason I might want to overlook the whole thing is based on something I'd call "The Biological Imperative." And who hasn't experienced that? As far as I know, virtually everyone is subject to the same biological drives. I'm excluding, obviously, people without hormones, those missing too many chromosomes, those with the mental capacity of babies as well as babies themselves, and priests who have taken a vow. It's the rest of us I have in mind, the rest of us who are instinct-driven and acted upon by forces beyond our conscious control, the rest of us, who wouldn't be able to stifle our sex drive if we had a nail gun in our pants.

All that said, What about our World War II soldier? He had the heaviest responsibility on his shoulders, the liberty of the world. That's heavy. And something's going to manifest in his life to compensate or counter that. His duty being enormous, his lust will be equal or worse. He's got the biological imperative, like all of us, but he's got so much more. The wonder of the whole thing is that they were able to do anything but have sex. It could have been nothing but sex, in which case we'd still be fighting the war ... or not. By now, the rest of us would be in bed somewhere, thinking we were leaving the fighting to our buddies, who themselves would be in bed somewhere thinking the same thing!

So do our World War II soldiers deserve our scorn? No, I think clearly not, because they did get the job done, while having a good time on the side. And most of them came home, settled down, and had a very happy life. They didn't suffer the lingering after effects of sex. I don't know if that's completely true in every case, but I had a few uncles who came home from the war who appeared to be happily married, and they seemed to be fairly typical guys to me.

In closing, then, putting this series away lest I need to write another three, I feel it's all for the best to forgive our World War II soldiers for having had sex. And to let them be, to let them live out the rest of their days with a conscience as clear as it can be. Speaking for myself, I personally forgive them.