Friday, August 26, 2011

The All-Powerful Parking Meter

This news just landed on our science/technology desk, which we'll be filing under 'Futuristic Nightmares'.

Still, it's a social upgrade, we guess, however much of a nuisance it promises to be. They're using their technological prowess to put a new spin on an old nuisance, the parking meter.

I love the picture that came with the news release, showing a parking meter obviously very tricked out, pimped out for the future of collecting parking receipts and ticket fines.

We'll be longing for the old days, that's for sure, when it was more hit and miss, when the meter maid had to actually catch you with the minutes left expired. This happened to me the other day. I was at a restaurant, then suddenly realized my meter might be on zero. I left the french fries on the table, grabbed my hamburger and drink, and went running. But, thankfully, I still had 12 minutes left, but no french fries.

In the brave new world of the future, according to what the engineers and designers are saying, I guess I could check on my iPod how many minutes I have left. That'd be good. But if I don't check, then it goes down to zero, it'll be an automatic fine. No leeway, no grace period, no hoping the meter maid is helping a guy work off his fines in a cheap motel somewhere.

Who knows what apparatus might be tightly wound inside the parking meter proper? I'm sure it has bundles of wires, various computer chips, and transducers. I can't know about that. I'm just looking at the stuff on the external surface, and that's keeping me occupied for the present moment.

There's a rotating camera that does something, no doubt, probably keeping track of something, beneficial, one would assume, toward whatever purpose it is designed for. Security, I would guess, to make sure no one steals the satellite dish. Which we need to look at, because this is the heart of the new technology, regulating the whole works by satellite. It's beaming data from the meter to the satellite in space and perhaps to local parking officials at the space station. It knows precisely when the time is supposed to run out, triggering what is next.

What is next -- and this is going to be controversial -- is that installed in all cars somewhere under the windshield wipers and hood will be a printer and a roll of blank parking tickets. When the satellite detects the time nearing zero, like in the last couple minutes, it'll start printing the ticket, which then zips up its track and ends up under your windshield wiper. What happens if you're arriving in the last couple minutes, maybe that's what the TV camera is for; maybe it spots you, by facial and physique recognition, and immediately triggers the satellite to show a zero on the display. Because how are you going to know?

The other thing I see mounted on top of the meter is a very small manual typewriter. What that's for, I'm trying to guess. Maybe if you wanted to type something it'd come in handy. And if you had a toothpick to push the keys, I suppose you could do it. Who knows, it could be they expect you to type up your own ticket if the printer jams. And if you try to drive away instead the camera will get you.

The whole concept is going to be controversial. Meter maids, of course, won't like it a bit, since they'll be out of a job. Then there's the rest of us, and I already hate it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Pink Professor -- Gang War!

I'm seriously thanking my lucky stars tonight that my favorite person in the whole world, the Pink Professor, is safe and sound.

According to the way he described it, it was a close call all the way, and may very well have turned out badly. But thanks to his calmness and easy rapport with just about anyone, he came through it all right.

Listening to him describe it -- an outbreak of gang warfare at the Roadhog Roadhouse -- I was involuntarily slugging the air, because in this instance that was my response. Someone should pay for this melee! I was thinking. But he calmed me down, and I reached over and felt his arm, no blood; then his torso, no blood, then his leg, no blood. He came through it, and for that, once again, a tip of the hat to my lucky stars.

You can probably guess, this involved guys from out of town, as well as an unfortunate coincidence. One gang was coming this way from the south and one was coming from the north. Then it just so happened that they arrived at the Roadhouse to have beers and something to eat at the same time. You have to think, any little thing on their trip different would've changed everything. Like if the guys coming from the south had taken a few more bathroom breaks, they wouldn't have been there. Or if the guys coming from the north had stopped to stretch a couple more times, they wouldn't have been there.

But they were all there -- Manic Steve and his gang, and Rabid Ted and his gang, and the locals, a dangerous combination. We can just be thankful that one other guy was there, the Pink Professor.

As you know from everything else I've written about him, my professor friend has the Pink Professor role at this particular bikers bar. More and more bikers bars are going this way, getting a Pink Professor figure to help soften their otherwise harsh environment. But my friend didn't aspire to the role, he just naturally came to it when he visited there one night. After all was said and done, they knew they really needed him.

And perhaps they never needed him as much as they did tonight. Because these guys are legends in the bikers world, Manic Steve always with the jitters, always on the edge, always about to erupt or just cleaning up. I believe his gang could do better, but don't tell him I said that. And Rabid Ted, always frothing and foaming like a mad dog, slobbering, looking at you with those fearsome bloodshot eyes. They need to send the guy in for testing, but somehow they can't find a poison dart strong enough to put him down.

The Pink Professor gave me three guesses as to how the gang war started, and, he said, "The first two don't count." Naturally, I guessed a woman. These guys and their possessiveness! These guys and their testosterone! They need to get off those hogs long enough to relieve themselves if that's what it's come to! Maybe if Manic Steve and Rabid Ted had each gone behind a tree to personally satisfy themselves, they wouldn't be in town here pulling numchucks and switchblades over ... a woman.

As to how the Pink Professor was able to subdue these legends of the biker scene, it was simply a case of bravery and confidence on his part. That, along with his insights into human nature. You see, he knows that neither Ted nor Steve really wanted to fight, not in their hearts. But no one from their gang was going to stop them. And the locals here, actually they'd like to see a fight, so they wouldn't stop them. And if someone would've called the cops, they would've fought for sure, just out of pride.

Anyway, blades were drawn -- each side had a few. Then the numchucks made their appearance -- each side was well equipped. Manic Steve stepped forward, nothing but jitters and manic bluster. Then Rabid Ted made a step toward him, wiping the froth from his mouth, and letting out a howl for effect. Some little rat piped up, "Get 'em boss," and they moved in closer. It was about to come to a head, when the Pink Professor -- gotta love him -- stepped in: "Boys, boys... Yes, I'm calling you boys, because that's what you're acting like." He can be such a scold!

Then he turned the situation into something "totally unnecessary" for "two legends like you!" He explained that both of them were like the great warriors of old -- Charlemagne, Alexander, General Westmoreland, Eddie Slovik -- and they didn't have anything left to prove. And as for the woman, good grief, he said, both of them could have any woman he wanted, you know, within limits, someone from the pool of easy biker chicks -- between you and me, someone not worth having.

The Pink Professor's manner was so matter of fact, so convinced and convincing, as he generally is, that the whole thing was defused before it even had a chance to rage out of control. He has a way of making peace so appealing! He complimented them both profusely, then brought them together as great men together in common cause. Ted's froth dried up for the night and Steve bought him a beer, Steve, whose hands suddenly weren't shaking!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

They Were Married By Telephone

Here's one of the more unusual stories I've ever heard. And you might agree with me, that, "Now we've heard it all!" But according to the people who were there, every word of it is true.

It could be that you recognize the phone booth in the picture. It's one of the five booths like it left in the United States, with this one just so happening to be at Jefferson, Iowa, also home of Rhesus College. I was trying to find it on Google maps, but having never been there, it's tough to spot.

The weird thing is, all his life Rick said he would never attend a wedding. He made that decision when he was a kid and his parents were trying to get him to dress up to go to an aunt's wedding, one of his least favorite aunts.

Then, however, he met Cynthia, they fell in love, and one thing led to another, and the thought of getting married came up. He hemmed and hawed about how to do it. They thought maybe they could go to Vegas, but still he would have to physically be there for the ceremony, and that was what he wanted to avoid.

Did he love her? Yes, I must say, he loved her with all his heart. Although I personally don't know them, I know in my soul that this was a love for the ages. I was very touched as I watched them bloom and grow together, he from a small child with an aversion to weddings, and she a lovely girl with all the hopes and dreams that most girls have. Then they met, and those of us who were close at hand, I've heard, believed wedding bells one day would ring ... or perhaps not, given his strong feelings on the subject.

Could they? Might they? Would they ... live in sin? That is, to cohabitate without the benefit of the formalizing of vows? It's a dicey issue, as both have always been very devout and true to the doctrinal dictates of their church, having internalized a mile-long slate of rock-solid rules all the way to the core. To go against that was obviously out of the question, even in the face of his prior vow to never attend a wedding service and his burning love for Cynthia.

They thought it over, they weighed their options, they consulted all the better known wedding magazines, some of which run to 1,400 pages, for guidance, how to have a wedding without actually being there. But none of them covered the subject. Then, somehow -- it could have been when he was on the phone with her one night -- an idea came to him like a bolt of lightning from a blue sky, We could have it on the phone!

But what kind of phone? I won't get into all the back and forth on this decision, except to say, discussions ran the gamut, from the earliest hand crank phones in museums, to the rotary phones of the mid 20th century, to the cellphones of today. Then they backed up a bit and thought, how about a phone booth? But phone booths are just about gone ... bummer! But a little Google action on their keyboard, and Eureka! There's still five left in service, including this one in Jefferson, Iowa.

And so ... that's the way it turned out ... Cynthia standing there next to the phone booth, the best man on the receiver conveying Rick's responses to the minister's questions, and they lived happily ever after ... The End.

But that's not really the end, of course, since you could go on and on about who wore what, and so forth. Cynthia was lovely in a flowing gown of white. Being an old fashioned girl, she debated whether she should actually wear white, having been together with Rick many times. But, you know, it's tradition, it doesn't really matter if you're pure anymore. Rick was handsome -- what they could see of him -- upright and tall, metallic and silver, rectangular with red stripes, and a well-oiled door that didn't squeak when the best man attended to his needs.

After the wedding, all the kids tried to see how many of them could jam into the booth, causing Rick on the other end of the line to joke around, "Some of you get out, please, you're smothering me! I can't breathe!" The wedding declared officially over, the minister firing a pistol into the sky on cue, Rick came across the road, having spent his wedding in a building, some building over on the Rhesus campus. I don't know which one, maybe Primate Hall.

He had never vowed that he would avoid wedding receptions, so they all went over and had all the usual fixin's, while the kids outside tied tin cans to their car. The mischief went one step further, however, with them also going through their luggage and spray painting Cynthia's underwear red. That ought to make 'em think!


Today's blog post is brought to you by
 Jefferson, Iowa
"Home of the Fighting Monkeys"

RHESUS -- "For All Your Educational Needs"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vigor Vivus -- I Command The World

It's quite a confession, to hear me confess that, yes, I have my moments of doubt and fear. Today, my friends -- yea, even today -- I was feeling at odds with life and its limits. I was looking down. And when I say I was looking down, I mean I was sitting in a chair, my legs sort of spread, and my head literally hung low. But, as it always goes, I can't look down very long without feeling self conscious about it. Then I start picturing how I must look, and whether it would make a compelling, soul-tugging photograph if a true artist (besides myself) were on the scene to document it.

You can see what's happening there. That's the beginning of awareness, the beginning of turning the thing around. I can't be down for a few minutes -- hours, tops -- without finding myself and my way up in an instant. As I sat stewing, then coming to this realization, two words came to my mind with an incredible force, and you probably know what those two words were: VIGOR VIVUS. I've written extensively about Vigor Vivus, as you can read at this link.

That's the way it works. The mind rises up and conquers. The heart overflows with Vigor Vivus, overcoming Rigor Mortis without mercy and sending it packing. Permit me, if you will -- it might do you some good -- to describe the physical sensation of Vigor Vivus taking my side, what happens mentally and spiritually. I envision the dynamism of the term itself, with the VVs almost flashing before my eyes, not up here in the immediate awareness, but somewhere deeper, a more essential center. Of course, there's nothing about the literal letters, but the spirit of the thing is obviously spells itself out in a way I'm familiar with.

It's the flash of memory that makes the difference, as well as the commitments I've made to myself and my philosophy. Past is prologue. If it's done me a ton of good in the past -- to overcome the despondent, dessicated, withered spirit of Rigor Mortis -- then I'm not about to turn my back on it now. That's my testimony and that's my trust. Life is too good for me to wither up and blow away. I shall not be despondent for long; the spirit's working overtime in me.

OK, so there I am, in the chair, envisioning the dynamism of the term itself, with the spirit of the thing rising up in me, and this becomes a process, a physical force, that builds on itself. The more you experience it, the more you must experience it, if you will just get out of your own way. Suddenly the hands clench. The eyes open wide.

It's like a professional wrestler when he's had enough being pounded. It thrills me to say it! Up till now, he's been in a scissors lock, the other guy's had him in a vise grip. Then the other guy has him in a sleeper hold and is busy rubbing his temples till they're raw. Then the other guy's pounding him with a folding chair. Finally, he's going for the motorcycle chain in his trunks, and this is going to be it, when our wrestler suddenly comes to. He flashes with the awareness of his true strength. He sees his predicament and quickly turns it around. He's up! He makes a few quick stomps around the ring, they alternate several crisscrosses in the ring, then there's a killer clothesline and a quick pin! His hands are over his head! He's victorious! The crowd goes wild!

The truth of the matter is this: I command the world through the spirit of Vigor Vivus, another term for the abundance of life that is at the heart of life itself. If you don't know it, try it. You, too, can command the world. The problem for so many of us is that we allow the spirit of Rigor Mortis -- death while we live -- to prevail. Because in general we don't know, so we can't prevail. We may think it's theoretically possible. If we were to pray, meditate, and whip ourselves till we were black and blue, maybe five years, 10 years, then we might be one inch closer to fulfillment...

No! The fulfillment is now, here and now. Through the power of this great philosophy, Vigor Vivus. Consider yourself alive today, now. Vigor Vivus is the opposite of Rigor Mortis, meaning life in abundance. The term describes life in its essential greatness, as life indeed.

Let the spirit of life rise up in you and you shall prevail. Turn from Rigor Mortis immediately, here and now, then never go back.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Let's Protect The Ghosts' Habitats

I'm going to get right to it: I hate all the ghost shows on TV.

The one put on by the former Roto-Rooter guys, if I'm not mistaken, was the first, and still appears to be the most humane. But it's still not good, since the respect for ghosts and their habitat is clearly way down the list. The one put on by the loudmouth guy who "never believed in ghosts until I came face to face with one" is the worst I've seen. We're trying to track down the ghost who came face to face with him and ask him next time to be more discriminating about who he meets. Then there's other ghost shows that I've only seen snippets of when passing through the room. They also suck.

The way it works on these shows: They're always seeking out someplace that's reported ghostly activities. Then they go in and set up for a night or so, and that's where the havoc begins. They're busy going room to room, with their night vision cameras, various sensors and apparatus, and their own feelings. They're always feeling a cold chill on their neck, or what have you. The loudmouth's show now even has some sort of speech synthesizer, a computer that interprets random noises as possible words, giving them the opportunity to "interview" a ghost based on a few squeaks of a rusty hinge. Make the door go back and forth and you might hear comments like, "Yes," "No," and "Leave us the f*** alone!" I'll let you guess which was the actual ghost talking.

Because to be left alone, that's it, that's really what the ghosts want. They don't find any joy in visitors just barging in uninvited and disturbing their peace. Especially after dark, which to them is their life. That's when they're up, trying to enjoy their lives. And they're not looking for company, for TV personalities to be recording (without permission) their activities or tracking their whereabouts. Imagine how you'd feel if a TV crew busted into your house and set up shop for a day or more, especially if they weren't paying you.

For these TV characters, it's all big money. In our 'anything for a buck' society, of course, anything goes. Even this kind of thing, as disturbing as it is. Tell me, when is the last time you saw anything like actual respect out of these people for the ghosts? It's a simple question, because you haven't. They're simply full of bluster, trying to take on the ghosts in an uncaring way. Watch how they're always casually inviting the ghosts to come and speak to them. Then as soon as there's the slightest unexplained noise, they freak out, yelling, "Did you hear that?!" Then when their fear subsides, they do it all over again.

The most revolting things I've seen are on the loudmouth's show, where he literally taunts the ghosts. He's bellowing at the top of his lungs, "You dirty son of a bitch, I'm not afraid of you, come out and show yourself and I'll kick your ass, you filthy ghost!" Seriously, folks, how can this be of any help to anyone? The guy needs a new line of work. Daycare teacher, lunchroom attendant, warden, anything.

I think the time has come -- actually it's way past time -- for us to rise up and start insisting that all these ghost habitats ought to be protected, if not through voluntarily curbing it, then by the law. Because these are very fragile ecosystems, and they shouldn't be callously disturbed. Yes, perhaps some legitimate, level-headed, respectful scientific exploration might still be allowed, seeking knowledge, mutual understanding, and harmony. But not these commercial, exploitative ventures.

I know, they're not always aware of the damage they're doing -- they obviously don't look at this as an environmental issue. So they think they can go in and cause all kinds of havoc and it's going to be all the same, a spiritual wash. Which is exactly where they're wrong. Instead, they're driving ghosts from habitats they've dwelt in for generations, and caused turmoil possibly at the highest levels. We don't know precisely how ghosts fit in the fabric of life. But certainly they indicate a lively existence beyond death, so that's something to respect.

You know what? I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, because I know it's going to show some aggressive tendencies on my part. And perish the thought that anyone do that! Well, I'm sorry. But I'd like to see these creeps and their bluster met head on. What I'm saying is, if I were a ghost, and maybe after I die I will do something like this, I would make these guys on TV sorry. And I mean over and over until they were gone.

If I were a ghost, I'd love to get those bastards on that loudmouth show alone in a haunted house, and -- I'm not going to say precisely what I'd do, except it would end with them strung up from the rafters by their nuts. Is that too harsh? I don't think so, because I'd let them down to relax for a few minutes, before stringing them up again, over and over, until they were ghosts like us. Nothing wrong there! They wanted to know about the ghosts, let them find out firsthand!

Or if I couldn't do all that at once, I'd make sure their cameras and things were completely destroyed. We've seen some of this on the shows, cameras that quit working, sensors that lose their sense. I'd say let's press our invisible advantage all the way and completely obliterate their equipment. Hey, they're screwing around with us and our habitat, let's get them for it! It's not like anyone can really do anything about it. OK, I'm angry, that is very clear. But who wouldn't be when we know what's going on?

Being driven out of your natural habitats, abandoned houses, old prisons, where are they expected to go? If they take up residence in other people's houses, peaceful coexistence is going to be difficult. And let's face it, it's hard for ghosts to maintain their habitats anyway, because someone always wants to tear down old buildings. Or how about this? Protect ghosts because someday we'll be ... ghosts!

The time has come for spiritual respect with a dose of spiritual environmentalism. Don't watch these ghost shows on TV. Please don't contribute to the destruction of ghost habitats.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Devil's Lesson: Never Put Anything Off

I probably shouldn't say, Never put anything off, because I have at least five tasks I could be doing right now. Except, of course, I can't do them all at the same time, so something's got to wait. I'll write this right now.

But you think some things are harmless enough to put off until later, until bitter experience jumps up to bite you on the ass and let you know, You should've done it when you had the chance!

Take this cigarette ashtray outside a major store, pictured above. I was there, sitting on the bench. I looked over at it and thought it'd make a nice picture, since it had about nine cigarette butts squashed in the sand. But, I'm thinking, there's no hurry ... they'll be there when I get around to it ... what's going to happen to them? ... maybe the sun will go down a little and they'll have a more artistic shadow, something evocative of loneliness, heartbreak, and being discarded, something to cheer me up.

I'm sitting there thinking about it, but it takes precious energy to get up and walk the one and a half steps to it, then I'll need to fire up the camera, and further strain my brain getting just the right angle. I'd just had a nap anyway and I was still feeling a little groggy. They'll be there, they're not going anywhere. It's not a cute kid with a rattle who's going to lay it down in five seconds.

Friends, I'm here to tell you, the devil is real. That's the only explanation that fits. The devil is real. And his main purpose in his infinitely sad and miserable existence is to screw with my head and make my life sadder. Oh yes, he dangles all the various temptations in front of my wondering eyes, but for the most part I've learned to say no to all that glitters, since in the long run it too will make my life miserable. But I'm thinking -- obviously -- there's very little percentage in the devil's favor to deny me an evocative picture, one stinking picture, of a bunch of squashed cigarette butts. But I was mistaken...

I'm sitting there, literally a step and a half from the disposal, when a guy, noiselessly, without a sound and without a glance or peep my way, rides up on a bike and proceeds to quickly take the butts out of the disposal one by one, until he's gotten eight or so, then puts them in his shirt pocket, and rides away.

I couldn't believe it. It sickened me, for obvious reasons. Smoking isn't good for you in the first place, let alone what you're likely to get out of a bunch of butts smoked by total strangers. But the really important reason why my stomach suddenly went sour, and replanted the seed of devil belief in my mind, coarsened by modern scientific knowledge against devil belief, was that I was deprived of the picture I had envisioned.

It stands against reason is a dozen different ways. But I'll just sketch out a few. 1) I've never sat on that bench before; 2) I've never contemplated getting a picture of that cigarette disposal before; 3) I've never seen someone ride a bike up and essentially empty one out; 4) The fact that it had to happen right that second, at that very instant, the very time that, within a few minutes, probably, I would have been taking the picture, boggles my mind. You think, No! The positive spin is it does once again grant me a place at the center of the universe, so maybe it's not such a bad tradeoff.

We've agreed it's totally against reason, that much is sure. And yet it happened just the way I described it! But perhaps oddest of all is this, the open question of why he left one butt behind!? That's what I have in the picture above, one cigarette butt! This guy removed them efficiently, one at a time, shamelessly, but then, against reason, left one behind. That's one of the questions killing me.

Could it be (and this is a serious question), could it be that someone so frugal as to be recycling used cigarette butts would also have the ethics to not take them all? This is serious business, something like Manifest Destiny. If you colonize and you take it all, that's one mindset. But if you somehow move in and coexist, that would be another. It would still be pretty bad if you moved in and took 90%, which is approximately how many butts the guy took. But if it's only used cigarette butts you're taking -- which are generally considered worthless -- and you leave nearly 10% for some other poor soul to come, that's a fairly decent ethic.

Or, think of this, what if he leaves one behind to prime the pump, so to speak, so smokers who follow won't think they're disturbing something pristine by leaving their butts? It would be the same principle of hanging a for sale sign and taking one of the phone number stubs yourself. If this is what his motive was, of course that's not as much a humanitarian move as would be leaving the last one for some other poor soul. But still, it's really good thinking!

The way I'm resolving this in my mind is this: It's a lesson to me to never ever again put anything off. If I see something worthy of my artistic photographic talent, get the picture now. And the other resolution to it is to know I have a dreadful enemy in the devil, and if there's any way for him to ruin my best laid plans, he will do it, so I must be continually vigilant.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's A Bird!

Must has been written about birds, everything from what they have in the encyclopedia to whole books exclusively about them. One of our most famous bird experts was Audubon, who wouldn't have had anything to do if it weren't for birds. We have birdwatchers, bird cameras, and birdbaths. I personally own a birdbath, and it might actually have water in it.

Even with so much being written about birds, I sincerely believe the world can stand one more article. And so this is it.

My interest in birds today has to do with the famous opening to the "Adventures of Superman" show from the '50s, starring George Reeves. A crowd is gathered below, all looking up, and a kid yells, "It's a bird!" It strikes me as funny that he would be so excited about seeing a bird that he would yell out in a crowd and point at it with so much urgency. Hadn't he ever personally seen a bird before?

It could be that Superman was flying by so fast, so the kid thought he saw a very fast flying bird. Or that Superman, being the size of a man, would have made a spectacularly large bird. And instead of describing the possible bird as large or fast, which would have required some time, he just yelled out the shorter version, "It's a bird!"

But is it reasonable that there would be a bird the size of a man flying above, or a bird flying that fast? It could be that they hadn't seen Superman that much, except the last voice gets it right, "It's Superman!" So Superman isn't a stranger to these people over the skies of Metropolis. Making the original bird comment sound kind of dumb.

What other times was he mistaken? At Christmas when he had a package holding a wristwatch and he thought it might be a bicycle? "It's a bike!" "No, Billy, it's a watch, it's a little small to be a bike."

Birds. I see them everyday and it's not that exciting. Yet, think of it, these are flying creatures, without a flying machine! They just know how to fly. It's amazing. And it's really amazing when you consider where birds came from, according to what scientists say. DINOSAURS! That's some pretty tough genes birds have.

The dinosaurs, some of them anyway, started flapping whatever appendages they had. Maybe they were near a cliff and some of them actually glided to safety. These ones kept reproducing, showing their young by example how to jump off a cliff, with the very adaptable ones landing, meaning these would be the ones to reproduce. And guess what? It was the smaller dinosaurs that generally landed, meaning birds would progressively be smaller than their dinosaur ancestors. Once they took to the sky, there were no rules to hold them back. So that is exciting.

Naturally, the whole business with dinosaurs and this progression from dinosaur to bird took ages to be accomplished. By the time we got to Bible times, then, relatively not that long ago, birds were already old enough to be considered a particularly created species. So they fooled everybody, even Moses, perhaps. Maybe Moses knew; I don't want to dis Moses. If he wasn't ignorant of the whole matter, maybe he simply felt the time wasn't right to spring it on the world that birds came from dinosaurs.

Superman turned out definitely to not be a bird. Let's look back way before the TV show and earlier serial films. If you go way back, Superman didn't even fly, he just made big leaps. He was subject to gravity. This fact of leaping carried over to the phrase, "Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound."

99% Of Them Are Horny

The revival over at Pastor Wadd's church is in full swing. Brother Wadd, as I've written before, specializes in counseling for sexual addictions, and therefore tends to see everything through those lenses.

It's invigorating, I think, to have the great drama of flesh vs. spirit ever before us, since of course we can easily relate. We just like to keep it quiet that we do. Although his laser-like stare -- he doesn't know anything except direct eye contact -- is sure to pierce the most innocent facade.

Anyway, the guest speaker this week, for a week of revivals, is Brother Kilt. All these guys in our particular sect stick together. They go to conferences and camps, seminars and workshops, and communicate daily via their email list, all of it to help them help us more. And for the most part, speaking for myself anyway, thanks to their efforts, I believe we're pretty close to perfect victory over the temptations of the flesh.

I know how it's been for me, and I don't think I'm bragging, but it's been four or five years since I've made even a wayward glance, let alone had an actual lustful thought. I vaguely recall how it used to be and can testify that this is much better. Because invariably the targets of my drooling stare were already taken or not worth having.

Brother Kilt took the platform after a rousing hour of choruses, wiped his potato-shaped brow, and calmed the congregation down before setting in with the real business at hand, leading us to deliverance over the carnal desires, where it was still needed. I looked around, trying to figure out who might be squirming the most. It might have been me, but I hoped not; I've had a number of chigger bites lately and sometimes I have to fidget to scratch the itches, and I didn't want to send any wrong signals. Fortunately, Brother Kilt was generally looking the other way when I had an especially compelling itch.

Well, I can't remember everything he said, of course. Only that he started in with the text about all temptations being common to man, but God has made a way over, through, and around them for the child of God. I've heard this text enough, I should know it by heart. It's in 1 Corinthians somewhere. He went into that about the Apostle being single and yet somehow kept himself from burning in lust, which had to do with his closeness to the Lord. I felt a bad chigger bite on my left bun and shifted uneasily in my pew.

I was looking around and saw a new couple back by the door, squirming a little. Brother Kilt obviously knew them, probably from counseling, and directed a few words their way, which is merciful on his part. You don't conquer the flesh by p-footing around the issue, and the Bible names names, so there's no reason we shouldn't be direct. After all, as Brother Wadd has said a number of times, the Lord calls each one by name, so there's no reason we shouldn't put it out there, who we're talking about. Just so it isn't me.

Brother Kilt was feeling led to be direct, and he was to tremendous effect. "I'm looking around the room, and I'm happy to say that I can tell that most of you are pure. You just need the counsel you're getting to help keep you that way, because the temptations are real. But you've got it good in here, because out there -- and you're in the world everyday -- you know that 99% of them are horny all the time. They're looking up, they're looking down, they're checking it out, they've always got something on their mind ... a crevice, a crease, a knothole in the tree. Amen?"

And that's true. We work with them everyday, some of us do. As for me, I hear tell of many things, mostly on TV. The thoughts people have are rife with something that isn't good. Just turn on any soap opera. Most of them are on their 10th marriage and they're already sleeping with number 11. I've seen it. They're whom the 99% look up to. So naturally every crevice, every crease, even the knothole holds its attraction.

Brother Kilt continued, "Notice I said most of you are pure. I tend to choose my words carefully. Most of you, but not all ... is what I mean to say. Of course I'm referring to you, Delores, and you, Gilbert," directing his attention to the new couple back by the door. "There's still some troubles, aren't there?" They looked helpless, but seemed generally appreciative of everyone's concern, giving me the perfect chance to scratch a chigger bite on my upper leg.

The upshot of the evening is, this blessed couple confessed to numerous wandering glances and the variable thoughts that would generally accompany them. And for a second, less than a minute, the thought came to me that Delores looked pretty good, and easy, and that perhaps Gilbert might be good for a go, too. I moved up ever so slightly to get a better look, while also rubbing a chigger itch closer up my leg, when Brother Kilt glanced over, bringing me back to my senses, sweaty brow and all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Progress Edition -- 2011

The purpose of a Progress Edition of a newspaper is to tout the achievements that have been made locally, while looking forward to greater things to come, and to lift up civic pride.

I've always thought it was a great thing, something inspiring, to read the Progress Edition and see that we're really part of something. We're not part of something that's bogged down, something in the ditch; no, we're moving ahead with purpose, resolve, and optimism.

And so today it is in that spirit that we put forth the Progress Edition of this blog. We do it because we're proud of what has gone before, and we're optimistic for what is still to come. As your editor, of course I'm perhaps proudest of all, but I know that I couldn't do it day after day without you, my faithful and supportive readers.

One of our proudest achievements was as recent as yesterday, with the post on "George, Bill, Frank, and Dale." These were four fine men -- with Dale still a fine man as the only survivor of the four. While I didn't hear directly from George, Bill, and Frank's loved ones, I can only believe they were happy to read it. In Dale's case, I did hear from the nursing home that he raised his head and smiled, so I'll be getting a printout to him as soon as possible, and I'll probably have it framed, bronzed, laminated, and numbered.

That's just one achievement! But we've made progress on many fronts, presenting the best blog we can and putting it out there free of charge for one and all. And while so many other blogs -- mostly so-so blogs -- have shuttered and gone by the wayside, we have prospered, our traffic growing all the time, five here, 10 there. How do we do it? Mostly by word of mouth, and we thank you for all your links and retweets. But also by running compelling promos for our key demographic, everyone from 2 to 104.

As an example, here are the five promos I ran for the "George, Bill, Frank, and Dale" post:

I feel the promos were well appreciated and effective, but for some unknown reason I lost 734 followers overnight, roughly an average of 180 after each one. So that's an interesting coincidence.

Other than the "George, Bill, Frank, and Dale" post, in the last week I presented a fearsome apocalyptic vision of the end of the world, mostly based on a dream I had of Mexican street children stealing my suitcase. That was called "Knee Deep In Dead Crows." I made real progress with my post on the latest in police technology, the pinging of cars, called "Don't Ping My Car, Bro." This is true, for my efforts there I was featured in a recent issue of Police Technology News, albeit it under the fold.

And of course this week hasn't been it. Earlier in the month, I had two posts on sex with a mule, "Sex With A Mule" and "Champion Jack Dupree -- Sex With A Mule 2." Which gives me a good opportunity here to express a heartfelt apology to the Dupree family. Yes, I got your note, and, no, I wasn't saying any of you were the illegitimate offspring of man/mule sex. As far as I know, you're all legitimate.

July was full of progress. That was the month I had the great post on going to bed with the Princess and the Pea and Sri Masturbananda and the Wood Manhood Affair. My memory isn't as good as it used to be, so I'm trying to remember what the Wood Manhood Affair was all about, but I'm sure it was something good. As to going to bed with the Princess, I can't forget that!

Just looking over the whole year, time prevents me from mentioning all the great progress we've made. But I would at the very least urge you to go back and look at my "Proceeding From The Pink Professor's Zipper." Because I seem to remember that was a pretty good one. At the very least, it has a heckuva title.

So progress has been steady at the Grandma Slump blog, and we will continue on, exorcizing our mental demons together and having a few laughs, maybe, hopefully.

In conclusion, let me honor them once again, because this could be the very last time they're ever publicly mentioned: "George, Bill, Frank, and Dale." I started writing a folk song about them, but I've only got the first few lines, and I know you can't hear the tune. But so far it goes like this:
George, Bill, Frank, and Dale,
George, Bill, Frank.
George, Bill, Frank, and Dale,
George, Bill, Frank.
It will go on from there, depending on if I get the inspiration to write more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

George, Bill, Frank, and Dale

George, Bill, Frank, and Dale are four guys I've known, average guys, the salt of the earth. There's really not that much that distinguished them from the general population; they were more or less run of the mill in every way. Of course the same thing could be said for most of us, so it's no insult. That's just the way it is.

Still, the average guy is interesting in his own way. He may not amount to much, but once upon a time, his parents were doing their thing, and a spark of life was sent from heaven. That would be him, each one, George, Bill, Frank, and Dale, a spark from heaven with a slight glow that remained forever.

All of them -- George, Bill, Frank, and Dale -- were good law-abiding citizens, and not one of them ever did very much that was wrong, it appears. They watched a lot of TV, went on vacations, married and had a family -- three out of the four -- went to church, and paid their taxes.

Besides their obituaries, this is the only article that deals with their lives. They would probably be happy to read it, and I would guess Dale, the only survivor, will even want a printout. So let's get to the article:

GEORGE -- George might be called a Happy Camper. He was happy and liked camping. He and Sylvia used to take their kids to the state park and camp. The kids had the run of the campground, and for everyone involved, it was the life. Apart from that, they lived in the town here. George ran a gas station over on 1st Avenue, which has since changed hands a dozen times. I knew George as a gregarious, happy kind of guy, likely to know your name and remember his dealings with you. Like most of us, from time to time he showed a temper. I was in his garage several years ago when he got a phone call, and with that his mood soured. He threw a bolt across the room and it bounced off the wall. It could have killed someone, but fortunately no one was standing there. I've always believed the sourness I saw that day probably went deeper with George, and that he probably erupted at little things a lot, and, given the right circumstances, he might have murdered someone. Who knows how often he looked over at the woods next to the campground and thought about burying someone?

BILL -- Bill, good old Bill. Bill worked up the street, also on 1st Avenue, right on the square, in one of the pharmacies. I met him when I used to buy comic books as a kid. He always got a big kick out of my frugality, how I would buy two 12 cent comic books one at a time to save the penny tax. But it was smart, because you could buy something with a penny. And sometimes, most of the time, Bill was in a jolly mood and would be happy to give a kid a piece of candy for free, so candy was basically two for one, too! Then I also knew Bill over the years. We went to the same church for a while, and Bill was a good guy in church. He had a deep, masculine voice and a lot of confidence, and he offered a lot of moving solos and duets. I personally never suffered a cross word from Bill, which isn't to say others didn't. There was always something about his manner that made you wonder if maybe, just maybe, he had a desire to kill someone. With his confidence -- and being a pharmacist, they have to have an eye for detail -- he would have figured all the angles, and he just might have gotten away with it.

FRANK -- Frank worked at the factory. He worked himself up to foreman, since he was so responsible and had a way with men. He was also confident like Bill, with his confidence used to direct the men on the line toward efficiently carrying out their tasks. There's a lot of interlinking parts in work like that, and you have to coordinate a lot of things, guys coming on the line who don't know much along with all the old veterans. And if it works right -- and it usually did with a guy like Frank -- you come out with a finished product you can be proud of. At work and outside, as to his personality, Frank was something of a rascal. He was the practical joker type. He liked to pat you on the back while he was ribbing you. I knew him because he was a friend of Grandpa's. When he saw me, he'd always be asking if I had a girlfriend yet, and he teased me about my long hair. He ribbed me always in a good-natured way, but, you know, sometimes it got to be a bit much. Looking back, I probably should have been more careful, but I was just a kid. Because Frank was the kind of guy, you wouldn't want to push his buttons too much, seriously, because someone might have died. And my honest opinion is, it would have been murder.

DALE -- Dale. Calling him Dale seems odd to me, because Mr. M_____ was a teacher, a gym teacher, if you can believe it. There's no way Dale looked the part of a gym teacher, but at the time I didn't know it. I just knew Mr. M_____ was a fixture at the school, and that was it. So I knew him going way back to elementary school. Then, oddity of oddities, years later he ended up at the high school when I was there. Just because I knew him, though, we were never close. OK, the odd thing about him being a gym teacher is that he was very mousy, like Wally Cox. You expect a gym teacher, whether man or woman, to be a macho behemoth, but that wasn't Mr. ______, or Dale. Dale never married and never had kids. Why exactly that was, I really never gave it a moment's thought. But knowing what I know now, I'd have to say there was a good reason for it. He never did anything to me, certainly, and I never heard of any other guy having any trouble with him. He's actually a quite respected member of the community, and a lot of people have nothing but fond memories of him. But don't you have to guess, if you really think about it, that there was something serious going on under his milquetoast exterior, some darker instincts that played out when he was at home alone ... or maybe out of town? My guess would be -- and I don't say this lightly -- Dale had something hidden in his heart, very likely thoughts of murder. But now, living in the nursing home, he's probably harmless.

No one would ever suspect anything of George, Bill, Frank, and Dale. And it's only natural, because not one of them ever did anything wrong. Certainly nothing with any definite proof.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Knee Deep In Dead Crows

It can't be very long now. I can just feel it. I haven't got much else to go on. Except I've had some very bad dreams lately, with all kinds of grotesque imagery, stuff that ends up being more or less a swirl, with nothing very distinct or understandable. The other night, I clearly saw some Mexican street kids hustling my suitcase up a steep hill, headed for a car, and I'd only misplaced it for about 20 seconds. I tried to run up the hill, but my feet were like lead, and I knew that even if I caught them, it'd be too late.

It's all getting to me, the signs of the times. Congress in turmoil, the world economy roiling, famine, drought, starvation, Netflix more and more unreliable, earthquakes. I'm in great perplexity, knowing, or discerning, that we're very soon to wake up to headlines like "The End In Sight" and "The Grim Reaper Stalks By Day." That's what they'll be saying. It's soon, very soon, and we'll tune in to the 5 o'clock news -- it'll actually be a couple minutes before Jeopardy goes off, when they promo the local news -- and we'll hear, "The world officially at an end, temperatures in the lower 200s."

Then it will happen, with all that remains existing as the ultimate dystopia: Wounds and sores that won't heal, pustules popping out everywhere, magnified bacteria running the streets with machetes, people in misery, gnashing their teeth and seeking death, but it flees them, liquid waste flowing out of pipes, teenagers running from stores with TVs under their arms, and everyone everywhere knee deep in dead crows. Where did all the crows come from? Somewhere, obviously, a bunch of older crows were having sex like crazy to get ready.

Everything that can go wrong will. Murphy will rise from the dead and point his spindly finger at the world, like a prophet. Everything we hate to see we'll see in grim abundance. Skeletons will be dancing on the mountains, big bony skeletons, zero flesh, nothing inside, no explainable reason how they could possibly be dancing. The noonday sky will go dark, the midnight sky also. The moon will be huge, hitting our eye like a big pizza pie. Nursing homes will have the residents in the hall. Hospitals will run on emergency generators. Sports events will be cancelled, bringing an end to $9 beer.

But my dreams can also picture the substratum of society, the grimy underworld places, loving it. Because the police aren't on their tail. All those services -- police, fire, ambulances -- have come to an end. It's a free for all. Criminals are cleaning out banks, stockpiling tons of loot in their hideouts, oblivious to the folly of money in a world that no longer exists. For the hours or possibly days they have left, they're living it up to the fullest. It's mob rule, anything goes, complete craziness. They're even smoking in restaurants again, the truest sign of the end.

Where is government in this nightmare-scenario-become-real? The president and representatives of Congress are in a hidden, well-appointed cavern, trying to decide what can be done. But they're at loggerheads, the president of course preemptively compromising, while the Congress makes more and more insane demands, such as cutting off anything that might help anyone, at last denying funds for bottled water and tourniquets. The Republicans are happy everything is going to hell, they're just worried they won't live long enough to win the next election.

What do you suppose is happening with our computers during this time? For a short while, there's actually some positive signs. With so many programmers being dead, we're not bothered by constant updates and the need to reboot every 20 minutes -- opening iTunes is even momentarily enjoyable. But the downside is some kind of hellish virus, literally a virus, black corruption, suddenly spilling from our keyboards and all over our laps, ruining our desks, gumming up our mouse, paralyzing our legs, and killing us. The last Facebook updates include things like, "I'm missing someone who is in Heaven. He died five minutes ago. I'd give anything to talk to him again. Repost if you also miss someone."

The end is here, folks. And there's nothing you can do about it. It's going to be a plague-a-minute. Remember, crows are knee deep everywhere! And it's completely downhill from there. There's nowhere left to walk the dog.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Don't Ping My Car, Bro

Pictured is a "pinged car" seen through the special optical lens the police have for this purpose. Don't ask me how I got the picture. Let's just say hacking isn't just for smart guys.

How is it that I got in on this technology, even the knowledge of it? Heh, that's kind of funny. I was in line with an officer at a taco restaurant, and we were talking about the quality of the tacos there -- he thought they were delicious, as did I. One thing led to another, and before I knew it he was showing off his pinging equipment in the black and white (the police car.)

As for how a dumb guy like me could then hack the entire police computer, with all their security, it had something to do with seeing his password written on the back of his hand. So he may not be a great police officer, but he has great taste in tacos, and I'll be damned if I listen to anyone say otherwise...

So what is all this pinging about, and why is it top secret? I don't know entirely why it's top secret. After all, the cat's been out of the bag for years that the police have radar guns and no one's revolted yet. And who can forget the taser? They shoot a couple of electrical darts through the air into our chest, we're neutralized, shaking on the ground, until they figure out they hit the wrong guy. We've shown ourselves to be quite meek, allowing all kinds of surveillance and firepower for the sake of "public safety." But all the time this cop was telling me about pinging, I was gritting my teeth, wishing I could reach out and--- I better not say.

As the photographic evidence shows, the basic thing is the police are "pinging" a car, reading its coordinates, its speed, etc. So far, nothing new, since radar does that. But the difference is the ping leaves a lasting image, discernible only to the specialized readers, now in most police sedans (the black and whites).

Exactly why the picture shows three ping beams hitting this car, I don't know. Probably just an overeager rookie. Leaving that aside, you'll notice all the prior pings, meaning to us it looks like a perfectly ordinary car going down the road, but to the police this car spells trouble. And this is where it raises some of my hackles, most of them, because what if the car doesn't deserve such scrutiny? See what I mean? It's going to snowball. Getting a lot of pings will draw a lot more pings, meaning pretty soon the driver is going to be marked for life. Then what if he sells it? The unwitting new owner won't know what's going on, only that he's being stopped for questioning an average of 20 times a day.

OK, let's say the original driver now has a bad reputation in his own town, because of all the pings. What happens then when he's driving through a different town where the officers there don't know him? Of course they'll be looking at all the pings and they'll freak out. Meaning he's going to get all kinds of new pings -- maybe in a different color -- meaning the cops in his hometown are going to freak out even more when he gets back.

Common sense says the guy will finally be so harassed, eventually he'll drive off a cliff somewhere and die. And the police will show up at the scene of wreck, scan it quickly, and, seeing a million pings, will write up the report, "He had it coming."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Four Kids Who Lived Dangerously And Died

No one likes to hear about children dying. We think they're off limits to the harder side of life. And if we can spare them anything unpleasant, of course we would. But when it comes to life, no one is off limits. Terrible things happen all the time, whoever you are.

You can be just out playing -- an innocent child -- and wham, that's it. We read something in the news practically every week. Some little honyock will do something totally stupid and be killed. Once in a while you'll hear a happier story. He's injured in a drastic way, then, with a long hospital stay, gets out and learns to handle whatever handicaps he now faces.

It is my sincere wish that no one would ever face anything like this. Certainly if I could spare anyone the agony, I would. But, heck, even I have had close calls. I fell through the ice once while checking traps when I was a kid and about died. This could have been my story!

But the stories today are about others. They lived, however briefly, then died, while the rest of us have somehow managed to go on ... perhaps till tomorrow.

1) Joey -- There's nothing so unusual about Joey's story. He did stupid things like any other kid, only his stupidity turned out to be fatal. The value of Joey's story is to remind us adults, those of us who drive, to double check under our cars before we take off.

Wow, I'm saying we should double check under our cars, but I never do. Because you're not expecting anyone to be under your car. If I had to double check under my car everyday, I wouldn't have time for anything else. OK, it only takes a few seconds, now that I think of it. But then what? Do we need to check under our hoods, too?

What happened to Joey, you can deduce it from the above. He crawled under a car, a stupid place to hide when playing Hide 'n' Seek. The neighbor guy got in his car and backed out, with Joey of course being smashed by the low hanging car parts. He was dragged a block, then pronounced dead on the spot.

What more can I say? He wasn't very bright.

2) Terry -- Terry had a major argument with his dad about his allowance not being enough to pay his bills. He was in pretty deep, owing quite a few of the neighbor kids for cans of soda, school supplies, and spray paint. And they were squeezing him to get the money somehow.

Long story short, his dad refused to budge, and Terry was too ashamed of his debts to come clean. My personal opinion on this, the dad would have understood. And he would have worked out something for Terry. Terry was a sweet kid, at least before he fell in with a bad crowd, and went out spray painting everyone's mailbox, garages, signs, etc.

Well, you can see where this is going. He couldn't tell the other kids no, so he went through his dad's wallet and lifted $200, enough that his dad had to notice. This is where it gets bad. The dad blew his top, Terry ran, and hid in a dumpster behind one of the gas stations. It just so happened the garbage truck was coming. And before he could cry out, if that would have been his intention, he was lifted and dumped in the truck and compacted. At the sorting center they found him cube-shaped. Dead.

Terry, everyone misses him, and getting in the dumpster was dumb. Still, giving him a little credit, you don't expect the garbage guy to just show up like that.

2) Susan -- Susan was known for various daredevil antics, exactly the kind of stuff that might have killed her years before. But she thought she lived a charmed life, that nothing could hurt her. So she'd be going from trampoline to trampoline and trying other tricks, hoping maybe she might someday be in the circus.

I remember her going by on a bike, and anything that even vaguely resembled a ramp, she'd flip her bike over it, anything for a thrill. Then it was skateboards, going down rails on staircases, etc. And of course no helmet, no knee pads, no protection.

But she was young and believed she was indestructible. Her death came in a tight wire stunt, mostly because it wasn't regulation equipment, just the crap a kid puts together. She and some of the other kids strung a rope between two buildings, then out the window she went. She had seen enough of it to know you needed a big stick for balance, but I think her stick wasn't big enough. It was a walking stick, which are only about 8 feet long. You need a bigger stick than that.

She got maybe 7 feet out from the window, then, they say, had a sickening look of fear on her face before staggering and grasping at the rope, which she missed. In a second, she was on the ground, crumpled. They said every bone in her body was broken, and you know what, I believe it.

4) Dolores -- Dolores' story is not much different from the others. She was a bright kid, but she somehow got the idea that the rules didn't apply to her. But it's one of those sad cases where she learned, or would have learned, except by the time it happened, it was over.

If they would have had maybe five more minutes with her, just five minutes, they might have steered her right. But that's what we always think when it's too late. If you're going to teach your kid for five minutes what she needs to know to survive, you better do it now. Because by the time they open the gate, grab a red cape, and walk out there, if you're not there to help, it's going to be too late.

It could have been as simple as this, that Dolores had an incurable lust for adventure. That's the only thing I can think of. I never saw her as stupid, just a little high strung, thinking adventure was hers. Maybe she saw too many movies. Maybe she read too much. It might have been better to keep her from books, movies, and anything adventurous. Then they might still have her ... but now she's gone.

She thought she could go into the field and fight one of the family bulls. What is there to it? You dangle a red cape and the bull misses you. Until it doesn't miss, then you're impaled unceremoniously and hoisted overhead. The family discovered her laid out on the red cape, the bull munching grass only a little distance away.

FINIS -- I know these are bad stories. But they're real. And we can learn from them. Don't do anything stupid and maybe you'll live. Living dangerously is a great way to die.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The United Nations In Executive Session

The United Nations met in executive session. Their purpose was to discuss the world's problems, and, they hoped, to come up with solutions.

The size, dimensions, and configuration of the table was accomplished quickly, thanks to previous sessions. After the representatives of the nations had enjoyed the various snacks of their cultures, the Director of World Affairs gaveled the meeting to order.

Dr. A_____, the representative of his people and now the Director of World Affairs, looked gravely on his fellow delegates. He was stately and very handsome in the garb of his nation, a kind of multicolored tunic with matching pants that reached to his sandals, and his head covered in a matching cap (no bill). He cleared his throat and announced the purpose of their meeting, to discuss the world's problems, and, hopefully, to come up with some solutions.

All eyes were on him. Around the table sat the representatives of the nations chosen to take part in this executive session. These were the best the world could offer, a representative from somewhere in Africa, somewhere in Asia, a North American and South American delegate, and so forth. They were full of hope. After all, if the seven of them could find a way to live in mutual happiness and harmony, it stood to reason the rest of us could, too.

But there are grave problems throughout the nations. Man has risen up against man. The various religions have declared each their supremacy. The environment is a mess. The various economies have gotten out of control. And of course then we have the haves and the have nots. Hope started to fade as Dr. A_____ ran down the list of sticky wickets. "Earth hangs in the balance," he said, scratching his chin and the wisp of a beard he neatly kept.

The executives were optimistic, of one heart and one mind that something could be done. We live on one planet and that's all we have at the present time. When you look at it from space, it's obviously a single blue ball, and there's really no where else to go.

The delegate from North America, bearing all this in mind about the "single blue ball," told a story from her personal experience. She confessed that she had had a problem with hoarding, not the full blown crazy hoarding like you see on TV, but the reluctance to let go of possessions. Pretty soon, she said, one thing would fall to the floor. Then someone would accidentally kick it, and another thing would fall. Before long, her utility room was a shambles. "This is the world," she concluded, to the nods of those gathered.

"Then we have decided that the world's problems very real, even grave, but they are not intractable," Dr. A_____ said, speaking for the group. "But how to clean up the mess, of course that is, how you say?, the $64,000 question."

The solution, no matter how much they sought it, did not come ready to hand. In the end, Dr. A_____ appointed three committees, two for the Religions of Man committee, two for the Environmental Nightmares committee, and two for the Economic Disasters committee. As for himself, Dr. A_____ would serve as a one-man committee looking into the issues of the haves and the have nots.

The task of the committees would be to come up with solutions and recommendations, with the hope that they could present them in Executive Session again in a week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eyes, Nose, Throat

EYES -- I'm a little tired and rubbing my eyes. With my eyes closed, of course. Which brings up the interesting question, why doesn't it bother me to rub my eyes, with some pressure, with my eyes closed, but if I had them open, I wouldn't allow myself to touch them? The eye lids are touching them. And it doesn't seem to bother them.

There's two of them. I've never had to have a patch and nothing's ever gone terribly wrong with either one.

I don't usually think of the eyes as being all that strong. One, we blink all the time if someone puts their hands close. Two, even the tiniest speck makes them hurt like heck. They have a jelly-kind of look, like they'd be very easy to mash. I hope I never have to find out. They're certainly strong enough to do their job if you don't mess with them.

I'm definitely glad I've got them. I believe I'm on the transplant program -- I'm sure I am -- so maybe someday someone else will be using them. That's an interesting thought.

A bicycle built for two, things on the same switch, tandem, a man juggling two grapefruit.

NOSE -- Back in the old days, back when people cared about stuff like this, people used to say I had the family nose. But now that all the grandparents are dead, and dad, too, and a whole new generation has arisen that doesn't care about family noses, no one ever says it anymore. But I still think about it. When I see my nose in the mirror, to me it's the family nose, and somehow I got it!

Other than the family resemblance, it's a nose like any other. I used to get more pimples on it than I do now. Although I actually had one the other day, right up where my nose meets the rest of my face, on the left side. But it didn't act like a normal pimple, I picked at it, and now it's more or less gone. I also used to get a lot of dirty pores way back when. I haven't checked them lately. For some reason, with age it doesn't bother me like it used to.

As for what the nose does, it's the conduit picking up scent information and conveying that to my brain. Occasionally, my nose (or brain) is out of whack and I have olfactory hallucinations. I don't have them at the current time, but once in a while I'll pick up a whiff that I'm sure I'm reading wrong. If olfactory hallucinations is a disease or a sign of something worse wrong, at least it's one that I find halfway pleasant. Really.

Accessibility, leads elsewhere, place of consideration, some weeds to whack, more than one exit.

THROAT -- I was looking on Google Pictures today for a good picture of the throat. Let me warn you: DON'T! Not unless you want to see some dirty pictures, things you don't see when looking up pictures for eyes and the nose. The throat, like it or not, is now an erogenous zone, suggestive of the official sex organ where things go for reproductive purposes.

Anyway, the throat leads downward, carrying food and beverage to the stomach and intestinal realms down below. It also serves as the path for bringing things up, if need be. And we've all been there and done that! The throat has some tricky things to accomplish, knowing which direction to send breathed-in air and which direction to send food. When it gets screwed up, that's when we cough, which is also a good function in the throat.

It's like a customs booth, knowing what's allowed in and where it should go. And it's like a hat check and coat check place, putting things where they go. It reminds me of a dispatch officer, taking the calls and sending officers where they need to be.

The throat has a magnificent gag reflex built in too, that knows automatically that food hitting it is OK, but it goes berserk if it's someone's fingers or a foreign instrument. I had that yesterday when the suction tube at the dentist went too far down.

Lumps, breezy place, way station, checking goods in, dispatching, expelling, hacking, reflexive, swallows flying south.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vigor Vivus At The Dentist

Something's apparently off with my karma, necessitating two trips to the dentist in less than two weeks. Thankfully, barring a smack to the mouth from some jealous boyfriend or girlfriend, my next appointment isn't till January.

My last appointment was an ordinary cleaning. The teeth in the picture aren't actually mine. I wish they were. But I'm old and my teeth are not good. But I keep up the good fight by going to the dentist. It's unfortunate I didn't have that same resolve for close to 20 years, a big gap of time in which a lot of bad things can happen.

Now, though, I'm regular, and I'm doing what I can to keep things patched up, so there was the cleaning a couple weeks ago, then a few fillings today. Four to be exact. I went in thinking it was going to be two, so right away I saw the opportunity for a bad mood before me. But I pushed it aside, feeling that it wouldn't do any good. If the dentist wanted to do four instead of two, so be it.

It's the next bit that has to be the most excruciating and the most fascinating. I have to be honest, I hate the whole process of sitting there with the wedge between the back teeth, the mirror, the fingers, the drills, the suction, and whatever else there may be, in my mouth. Oh yes, the syringes! I hate them either most of all or equal to the drills.

I have this thing about the spiritual life that it's supposed to be very close and real, so I'm halfway depending on that to get me through. But it also causes me anxiety, because I'm also halfway afraid that I'm going to have a major spiritual melt-up -- from the base of the spine to the top of the head -- go nuts, and end up with a drill sticking out my eye, or a syringe. Because of the intensity of those things, and the fact that there's no telling what buttons they might be pushing, in addition to what my psychology is suggesting. When it comes to chakras, they're subtle, but I think that about anything you imagine can have a true aspect to it. It's dangerous.

So I have that going on -- and my other thing is the great philosophy of Vigor Vivus versus Rigor Mortis. In fact, I use my philosophy of Vigor Vivus not just in conjunction with the spiritual life but also as a safeguard against it interfering with the dentist's work and my safety. Because, and I probably don't have to tell you, the thought behind Vigor Vivus is more of an earthy, everyman philosophy, so it's more helpful in our day to day affairs. It can guide us in everything, from business to dating.

Just to catch everyone up, I have multiple posts on Vigor Vivus versus Rigor Mortis. The basic thing about VV and RM is that they are ways of thinking that ultimately have to do with your quality of life. VV is that boisterous sense of abundance welling up inside, most in line with nature at its fundamental level, and with it you have confidence, boldness, self esteem, and other similar qualities. Its opposite, RM, is what guides a lot of people's thinking -- too many! -- and that's akin to being dead while you're alive. You're drawn up, tight, lacking confidence, dreading the day, pessimistic, and, really, not giving yourself credit for anything. There's no real sense to RM, but it's an easy snare to fall into.

Like I said, Vigor Vivus is more in line with nature, but there's many reasons why we don't walk in it. One, I guess, we seem to think we've gone beyond nature! How about that?! Two, we're not looking on the bright side, we have bad habits in our thinking, and it gets worse the longer we dwell in it. That's the place of Rigor Mortis, giving our life and opportunity over to death. I know how it goes, because like most people, I've been there plenty of times in my life. And sitting in the chair at the dentist, with the wedge in your mouth, the suction making me gag, and all the rest, I know Rigor Mortis still has a few suggestions for me!

But my response is to consciously choose Vigor Vivus. I say to myself, "Vigor Vivus will be my way!" I remind myself who I am, the life of abundance I know, etc., and I try to enjoy even those moments in the dentist's chair as much as I can. I think about the needle going in -- and of course the pain is deadened, but still you can sometimes sense the flow of liquid and you know any little move could be dangerous -- and I remind myself, This also is an experience in life! And it's intense, and very concentrated! Vivid, even! Sure, I want to be out of this chair and in my car going home, but I choose to experience this as part of my good life as well!

Oh, one of the fillings was on a wisdom tooth. And the Cosmic Father/Mother in His/Her infinite wisdom chose not to put a hatch on each side of our face. So they're hard to get to. Then He/She chose the placement of these teeth to be right in line with the bones leading to our ears, meaning the drill sounds like it's going to come through the back side of your eardrum. I'm thrashing about with my legs while keeping my mouth perfectly still, I'm as uncomfortable as can be, it's crazy time, but I'm reminding myself ... Vigor Vivus, Vigor Vivus, Vigor Vivus...

After it's all said and done, I stand up and thank the team -- the dentist and the able assistants -- for a job well done. There's high fives all around, and plans to do it all again someday. I get the bill, start to mutter, then repeat internally, "Vigor Vivus, Vigor Vivus..." and gladly pay it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our Crumbling Infrastructure

We're always hearing politicians talk about our crumbling infrastructure. It's a very important matter, because we don't want to be going over a mile long bridge and have it suddenly collapse. Because a mile is way too long to gun it and hope to make it the rest of the way. We hear them talking about it, but I never hear of anything getting done.

This weighs on my mind, no matter where I am. Like today, I was over at one of our major parks, and I'm sitting there under the shelter, thinking it might collapse at any minute. I spent my time doing some investigating, and what I saw was pretty bad. I seriously believe our infrastructure is crumbling, and someone ought to do something about it before it's too late.

Everyone might say a shelter house at a local park is just a miniscule part of our infrastructure, which I admit is true. But of course there's a good principle to bear in mind: If we're not taking care of the little things, what makes you think we're looking after the big things? What I saw, to me was shocking, and I don't shock easily. To prove it, I have a number of fetishes that would curdle your hair, everything from lizards to lingerie, so obviously I don't shock easily.

It all started today when I was sitting at a picnic table and looked down. And what do I see? Rust! There was rust near one of the bolts holding the table together! It might have collapsed then and there! This led me to look around, and among the things I saw were pieces of random Scotch tape on the tables, cobwebs, dust and dirt, and bird poop. This is a table, people, where people are supposed to eat!

By now I'm up and looking around the facility, thinking I've got a scandal right here under my nose. I concluded the place was barely safe enough to sit under, and I estimated it might entirely collapse under its own weight sometime soon. I'm giving it 150 years, tops.

Let me get the top illustration out of the way first. You can see that someone scratched the "F" obscenity in the woodwork. That's on the east side of the structure, and represents something of the shabbiness of the place, if those using it don't think any more of it than that. To me, it's a cry for help, for our elected officials to get off their asses and fix the place up. It's unacceptable.

My other illustrations show some of the problems of the place in greater detail. In the top left, we have a loose screw and a split in the wood. That's about to give way. It can't last another 40 years. Top right, nails hanging out and bent over, up by the ceiling. If you're 8 foot tall, that could take an eye out. Bottom left, the cement slab where all the tables set has multiples cracks in it. These could open up at once and swallow someone, perhaps an innocent child. Then, bottom right, like I said before, there's bird poop everywhere, and it's disgusting. I put a stick next to it so you could get the scale; this is some big crap.

Among the other things I don't show, there are weeds near the facility. And I saw dented garbage cans with their lids not securely on top. They're either hanging loose, or in one case, simply laid on the ground. Anyone could crawl under there and be asphyxiated, and I'd hate it to be an innocent child.

When you're driving up, it looks like paradise; it looks very nice. And even walking up to it, you see a pleasant place. It's only when you really look closely that you see the truth, that it's in a state of severe deterioration. It makes me wonder what I would see if I walked around the whole park. The pump for water, does it work, are the pipes rusty? The restrooms, are they clean, do the toilets flush, or is it just putrid blue and brown water with a mountain of yellowish toilet paper looking back at you? The playground equipment, are the chains to the swings rusted? The grills, do they have the dust and grime of past charcoal fires?

This, folks, is our crumbling infrastructure, and it's a shame. I have certain recommendations, one, that they should fix it all. And two, if that can't be done, because of budget constraints or whatever, at least they should put some wood glue in the splits and clamp them together for a couple days. If not for ourselves, then for future generations.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sir Sneezealot's Many Kids

Much of the success we have in life comes from the thrust we have. Thrust is that compelling force, that, whether it's forced on you or forced from you, makes you move, and makes things happen. If you've ever had an uncle who literally kicked your ass, you know what I mean. When he said clean the shop, you hopped to, but without the thrust you might have remained inert.

Speaking for myself, and countless others who suffer like me, I have a little mental thrust. It's the equivalent of kicking yourself in the ass, but there's no bruises. My mind says "Do this" and "Do that" -- it's the normal drudgery of responsibility -- and I hop to and get it done. But whether it's physical force exerted on you or an inner force, the result is the same, thrust and accomplishment.

So far, so good. But what if you're a guy like Sir Sneezealot, whose body provides the thrust, even if it happens to be at inopportune times? (His real name is something else, but he got the moniker Sir Sneezealot from the women he knew. Once you've burnt X number of women, they bruit it around among themselves, and next thing you know you've got a bad reputation and maybe a weird nickname.)

Sir Sneezealot had a problem with sneezing even before he was old enough to be called Sir. When he was a kid. It plagued him, all the random sneezes being a nuisance as a child, a youth, a teen, an early adult, and so on. His mom hated it, for sure, and was the first woman he offended, when, because of all his sneezing and thrust, she was changing diapers all day long. He also had problems with other boys, like in the shower after gym class, sneezing and peeing across the room like a rainbow. The thrust of youth!

I'm describing problems, there's no other word for it. School dances, normally a time of fun and innocence, were ruined for Sir Sneezealot. He'd be dancing, then a sneeze came, and he'd be pushed awkwardly into his date. If there's a whole gym full of kids, one kid bumps another, and before long a fight breaks out. But he tried his best in his teen years, and that's also when he really got his yen for girls.

I said it was a time of innocence, which is of course a lie, such as the time he and a young gal were behind the curtain on the school stage. He sneezed, the curtain flared out, and it practically killed her from embarrassment when everyone saw her blouse hanging off. She yanked the curtain from its upper moorings to cover herself and ran from the building, dragging with super strength that 200 pound train. She finally collapsed from exhaustion three miles away. What a struggle! Behind her, she left gardens devastated and picket fences collapsed. And yet -- it was hard to see it at the time -- she was one of the lucky ones...

Because Sir Sneezealot went on. Anyone with that much thrust can't be held back. And it was kind of exciting -- he liked it, he loved it -- all the serendipity that comes because of a problem he couldn't help anyway. He would let it come as it would, and even time to time accentuate it by sniffing pepper or staring at the sun. Ways like that that make ordinary people sneeze, to him were like gasoline on the fire, the eruption being so massive, there's no calculating how many kids he fathered.

He'd be on a date, and let's just say things would get amorous and out of hand. This is what happens to the rest of us without a sneezing problem. Just think how crazy it would be: You're gauging everything in a relationship as it progresses, and the heat of the moment is now, and a sudden sneezing attack comes on, with all that thrust, and you end up with triplets. And protection isn't actually protection, because it's designed for people with normal thrust. You name the protection and I'll tell you why it's no good; his thrust was always just that much stronger. He'd shred it! For him, the floodgates were always open!

OK, friends, I'm trying to be discreet about his dates -- whose daughters they were, etc. -- but the bottom line is, this guy fathered roughly every sixth kid in the county. He was like Screamin' Jay Hawkins, but more of a local guy. Then after a number of years, he had to move away because ... people hated his guts, especially women and their fathers.

They would hear tell of him, but if he's not sneezing during the meal, the movie, the late night drinks, or the preliminaries on the couch, what makes you think it's him? Then, suddenly, KERCHOO!, and they're picking out wallpaper for the nursery.

Ladies, and dads, Sir Sneezealot is still out there ... somewhere.