Monday, January 28, 2013

Genius -- Inspiration Or Perspiration

There's an old question that's always bugging me, What is a genius? I'm sure Webster has a definition, but I'm too lazy to look it up. Instead, let me kick the question around the room a while and see what happens.

I'm in luck, because an old adage is coming to me, that, "Genius is half inspiration and half perspiration." Which might be half true, but which half? So that gets us part of the way. Inspiration means you're getting your smarts from mysteriously sourced flashes, flash cards from on high. Perspiration means you're working, working, working, poring over books, thinking over the evidence, and gaining knowledge the old fashioned way. Grit, fortitude, thinking over profound truths, while your dad tells you to get a job.

Is it conclusive, then, that genius comes from inspiration and perspiration, or is it one or the other? Let's just say it's so. It'll save us time.

When I think of genius, I think of Ray Charles, and how he had a bunch of album titles: "Genius," "Genius Strikes Again," "Genius of the World," and "Genius to the Nth Degree." Whether Ray ever knew about these albums, I don't know. I'd frankly be embarrassed were I him. I wonder, Was he a genius? Or did he just have one of the peculiar advantages that goes with blindness, everyone leaving him alone, with time to get really good at music? That's the only area, as far as I know, that he was a genius, so that'd be perspiration with an inspiration chaser.

Beyond Ray Charles, there's Beethoven, another musical genius, who became deaf, and Albert Einstein, who was really good at science. Could I have been a genius at science? Maybe, but I didn't have inspiration or perspiration. I didn't care for it. And even though I care for it now, it's tough to catch up. You either generalize or specialize in science, which is beside the point when you're as far behind as me.

Since we're talking about me, what kind of genius would I rather be? Inspired or perspired? If you're inspired only, there's not much there to be proud of. But I don't really think you're going to be completely inspired. What's the basis of it? You're just born with genius? But say your brain is totally, like, good. It wouldn't take that much perspiring. Like cars. You could be a '70s clunker or a new Jaguar.

But, given the choice, I think I'd rather be a perspired genius. Then I would know I personally brought it on, more or less. Yes, I would've started out with the greatest equipment -- a fully functional brain -- then added to it, reaching terrific conclusions, like the Scarecrow.

Conclusion: So I don't have to study the issue endlessly and never reach any definitive conclusions, I think it's best to just leave the old adage alone -- giving a nod to the 50-50 inspiration/perspiration claim. I will simply continue appreciating and feeling deep jealousy over the works of geniuses. While still being smart enough to make comparative halfwits envy me. You know who you are.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tracking In The Earth

Here's a strange bit of paranoia I have -- although I prefer to think of it simply as environmental awareness -- the daily fear of losing my yard, and ultimately the earth, by tracking it in or throwing it away.

It goes like this: There are dirt sections in my yard, thanks to the drought. How I long for the old days, when we had ground cover! But then climate change happened, the drought took hold, and now my precious grass (and even weeds are precious when it comes to ground cover) is gone, leaving behind exposed dirt.

First, then, quite apart from me there could be wind erosion. I hate driving by a field and seeing the sky full of dirt. Because, since wind generally comes from the west, once your field blows east, you really have to be lucky to get an east wind to blow it back home. Also, there's water erosion. But with my yard, it can only go from one place to another.

I hate erosion with a purple passion, even though I honor the Grand Canyon. The erosion that happens these days doesn't have a positive benefit. This is true of my yard, which of course I'm most concerned with.

Now, about the tracking in. If it rains, then I go out in my boots, and I notice I'm tracking in bits of the yard that are now gone. Or it gets on my dog's feet and has to be wiped off on a paper towel. A thousand years of that and my yard will be a hole 40 feet deep! The other notable way I'm losing bits of yard is by picking up her poop. Without grassy ground cover, if you go to pick up poop, you have a great chance of picking up a teaspoon (at least) of dirt. Again, a thousand years goes by and the place is a gravel pit.

It seems almost trivial, but I'm taking it seriously. I get the poop at the edge of a sack, then try to knock out any dirt, trying to get as much as I can back on the yard. I said it seems trivial, because if you compared it with heavy machinery, trucks and scoops, literally digging gravel pits or excavating for sod, this is nothing. But those guys are in the business of moving earth and I'm not. I'm just a guy with a yard.

I recognize, naturally, that if I displace dirt on my boot, it's not truly lost from the earth. It might be in the garbage, it might become dust and blow down the road. Whatever. But my concern remains, it's not in my yard, and it's not doing me any good. It might get in someone's eye and cause a wreck.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Revisiting The Wood Manhood Relics

Summary of The Wood Manhood Affair: In India, one of Master's chelas (students) was disobedient to the work of seeking oneness with the Divine. Instead, he, Brother Unsettled, abused his member on chain-link fences, wood surfaces, and trees. The result was his turning to wood. His now-wooden manhood was preserved, to serve as a spiritual lesson and warning to others. I have custody of the relics. The yoni-shaped wood appears to have been Unsettled's only true comfort.

Being the custodian of sacred relics is a big responsibility. First, there is the physical tending to them. Second, there are inquiries I get from time to time as to their whereabouts and condition, as well as requests to see them and/or touch them. Most of these requests are denied; frankly, I think that's a sick request. But it's understandable that chelas would want to know how they are. In short, they're just fine.

It's been some time now since my post in July 2011, which made me think the whole thing needed to be revisited. At least insofar as how the relics are doing. And lest anyone thinks they can simply come on my property and take the relics, no, it won't be that simple. They are kept in a safe deposit box at the bank.

I know you'll find this interesting. First, about the photos, that's four Hipstamatic photos of the wooden manhood of Brother Unsettled, plus the yoni, plus an extraneous piece of wood, the little chip. If you examine the evidence carefully, you will see one photo is slightly different from the rest. Very interesting!

Anyway, to examine the relics, I went ... I got myself together and went ... to the bank and to the safe deposit box. If you've ever done this, you know you have to be prepared for the real life equivalent of a video game, with many challenging passages along the way.

Of course I had my ID and the passwords memorized. Then arriving at the bank, I had to machete my way through a gauntlet of part-time bank employees, arranged to test my resolve for the task. Next, there were 10 secretaries, each with one letter or alphanumeric character of the first password. Finally, I got to Sue, the little lady next to the vault. I offered Sue my identification once again and a special password that only Sue and I know.

At the threshold of the vault, I took a deep breath and sought heaven for strength to withstand the ordeal. Of course I removed the sacred golden sword from the wall before passing through gate after gate. I was surprised (but not shocked) when two guardian lions sprang out. I slew them, then in quick progression a dozen leopards, a half dozen king cobras, and a school of Great White sharks. It was like I was back in the Amazon when vampire bats swooped down and immediately attacked my pith helmet.

Going further, I cut myself through the thickest vines I've ever seen, huge thick SOBs. I didn't even know vines came that thick. They were either vines or a giant's legs, now I'm not sure which. Do vines bleed and bellow out "Oww"? Then it was a giant, or maybe a whole family. All the vines out of the way, I swam up the falls, 100 feet if it was an inch. Being a good vertical swimmer, this wasn't as hard as it sounds.

Making it to land, I rounded a corner and found another guard. But this guy was a dried up skeleton, there at the base of the wall. Obviously paid by the hour, he had fallen asleep and died. I saw the final key in amongst his dust and bones! I entered the box room and unlocked the box. This set off the final safeguard, three or four mousetraps, which hurt like hell!

All done, I pulled out the metal container. When I opened it, there they were, the relics laid out on the softest red velvet. It was at this point that I took the pictures seen above. It about took my breath away, to see Brother Unsettled's wooden remains, the most vital parts of himself that had given him such fits. It was cautionary to me: Do not rebel, do not let it go to waste. I sat right there, right that very minute, and entered into the greatest devotional ecstasy.

All in all, I was amazed at how well preserved the relics were, even in this normal stuffy bank.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wrong Sex Corrigan

OK, folks, it's official! I'm now 60 years old, having been born some time in the first three months of the year. And as people go, I'm definitely one who's getting "more bang for his buck" for being 60, since I've had a million thoughts, happy, sad, and in between, about this milestone. It sounds very aged, and yet I don't feel completely different; I just can't quit thinking about it. It's given me a lot of opportunities to reflect back on my life.

One of the facts of my life that I can't help thinking of, for some reason, is that I was proclaimed a girl when I was born! And I'm a guy! That sounds weird, and I know it is, but it was actually fairly common here in my town in the early 1950s. And my parents probably should have questioned the situation, being familiar with the problem, but in the excitement of the birth of their "little girl" they forgot. One thing to note: This was back when babies were immediately whisked out of the room away from the mother, to be tended by professionals. It wasn't like now, where the mother and father's care is seen as primary. So, being absent from them, they just had to take their word for what I was.

I said it was common for babies to be misidentified as to their gender back then, but it was only in our town, because the town's main obstetrician had problems seeing. In fact, he made so many mistakes, he was nicknamed "Dr. Wrong Sex Corrigan," a play on the famed aviator who ended up somewhere he wasn't going. Our "Dr. Corrigan," not his real name, had problems in making the right call, presumably when a baby was moving too much. I'm guessing here, but I'm thinking he just didn't want to second-guess himself, or seem less than professional, so the way he called it was the way it was. It took my parents a lot of money, time, and trouble to get the official birth certificate finally changed! Not to mention the embarrassing exams I was subjected to...

So here's the way it went down. I was born, I must have moved too much when "Corrigan" was making the identification, and he declared to my mother, "Madam, you have just given live birth to a female baby, a real doll, who will someday truly make the boys' heads turn!" She was like, "Thank you, doctor, for a successful delivery and the exceedingly good news! A girl in my own image!" Then I was whisked out of the room, not to be seen by her again till sometime early the next morning, when they allowed her to watch the nurse feed me.

In the years since, of course, I've heard many tales of Dr. Wrong Sex Corrigan, that in delivering girls he was proclaiming, "You have given birth to a fine, strong, bouncing man child," and the like. Sometimes he was right, but thanks to movement, he was more often wrong. This is one of the dangers of having poor eyesight, being cross-eyed or whatever, and trying to be an obstetrician. You give people big problems, and the child him- or herself can develop all kinds of complexes. To this day I like the color pink and hate jockstraps.

After a while, "Dr. Corrigan" either died or retired. Which was good, because people didn't like him, thanks to this whole gender business. I remember my grandpa -- I remember this clearly -- saying if he ever saw the SOB in the crosswalk he would run over him. Grandpa used words like "son of a bitch" all the time, and probably would've run over him, indeed, had he ever seen him in the crosswalk. But "Corrigan" was spared this fate by the fact that you never see a doctor in public, apart from the office. This is true: The only doctor I've ever seen in public was a doctor people liked.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Shoutout From The President

Today was the inauguration of President Barack Obama for his second term. It was a wonderful display of patriotism, optimism, and hope. And I'm sure I join with freedom-loving men everywhere when I say, It was sure a lot better seeing this man of integrity taking office than the opposite nightmare of seeing Mitt Romney up there. Good God, alternate history can be so terrifying!

I felt my heart fill up with emotion as I saw the inspiring pomp of our dear country joining in the ceremony honoring our great president's second term. I can only hope that his vision for America is able to carry the day, over the intransigence of a Republican party so far off the beam as to be considered completely derelict. The downer of the event, if there had to be one, had to be the sight of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan, followed up by the close second of Bob Schieffer's pathetic commentary, the CBS veteran quite unabashedly shitting in the punchbowl of joy.

Everything else, from the wonderful singers to the great, pensive poet, to the president himself, in a stirring oration, was great. It renewed my faith, not only in America itself, our past and our future, but in humanity itself. It's just such a shame, in the light of renewal, that we still had to see a parade of Republicans pretending to make nice. They are truly a scurrilous bunch, even though Lamar Alexander managed somehow to hold his poison tongue. I held my breath and wished real hard, getting my wish.

Kelly Clarkson was very cute. I had to think, What a long journey she's had since her introduction at the auditions of American Idol to this magical moment! That was back when I watched AI, which I did up until they allowed Kris Allen to win over the much greater Adam Lambert. When I said I would quit watching the show in protest, I meant exactly what I said!

But the heart of the inauguration had to be the president's speech. In my opinion, it was a well-honed address, and despite Bob Schieffer passing gas to the contrary, it was a home run in every sense of the word. He mentioned the things that matter most to me: Equal rights for all and opportunity. But shame on the Republicans for failing to applaud. (I'm assuming they failed to applaud, since they weren't on camera and we couldn't see them.)

Finally, the greatest moment for me personally had to be President Obama's shoutout to me, a financial contributor to the campaign: "I've looked to the mountaintop. And I want to send a shoutout to D.B. Kundalini, the great blogger at my favorite blog, It was because of his contributions, every penny he earned from Google ads as well as all he could spare from his disability pay, he having a game toe, that I am able to stand here today."

When I heard that, I happened to be eating an ice cream cone. And I snorted some of it right up my nose in shock. Pretty soon the phone rang and it was Wolf Blitzer, asking me how it felt to get that honor. I said, "It was delicious." Wolf said, "Delicious?" Then I explained about the ice cream, and that I had it on DVR, and would watch it again and again, every time I had ice cream.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I've Got Very Cold Feet

I've got very cold feet. It's getting weird. I might need to go to the doctor. I think I'm going to call for an appointment tomorrow. I'm starting to get worried.

I've had cold feet for over a month, approximately. I started noticing it when I was sitting in the car, my feet on the floor. They were just cold. Then I put my coat down on the floor and it didn't do that much good warming them up. It didn't really strike me as a potentially bad situation.

But now, as time drags on, and as the coldness seems like it's getting worse, I'm going to have to do something. I looked up "very cold feet" on Google and got the usual long list of possibilities, and I haven't looked through all of them, only the first few. Because I figured, How am I going to know which one it is?

This hasn't happened to me before, so I obviously know it's something out of the ordinary. It doesn't just happen to be super cold anywhere I put my feet.

They actually feel colder when I have my shoes on. And they're colder if I set them down. If I lean them on their side, let's say, for a while they're better. But then the sides get painful, setting like that. In bed, where there's no setting them anywhere, and under the covers at night, they're basically OK. I can still feel a slight to moderate sensation of some sort -- I hesitate to say numbness, because it isn't quite that -- especially in the front half of the feet, back from the toes.

I do happen to have cold floors where I live. But in previous years I never had this problem. So I can't blame it on the floors. This is something inside me, whether it's circulation or whatever. I would guess it has to have to do with circulation, but what could be wrong with it, that's what I don't know.

Someone told me they had foot warmers at Walmart. But when we went there we couldn't find them. I need a store like "Acme Foot Warmers" to suddenly appear. Even then, I'd probably be afraid. Because what if I couldn't tell what the heat truly was. I might fry my feet to cinders, while sitting there blissfully.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our Damned Pets

Have you ever noticed how it's a lot of fun to have pets ... for a few days? Then, next thing you know, they're wetting and soiling everywhere and getting sick? And they don't seem to have any sense, and they have trouble fitting into your routine? It's just not worth it!

If you live in the country, of course, you can easily dispatch them. I was visiting my uncle and aunt out in the country one time. They weren't home, but they gave me strict instructions to protect their bantam chickens at all cost. So you can well imagine how horrified I was when I looked out the back window and saw a bunch of chicken feet and beaks laying in the yard, no bodies! I looked again and there were two coyotes over by the fence. This is where it got hairy.

I got my uncle's gun over by the door, which fortunately he always kept loaded, and crept out the front door and sneaked around the house. Coyotes must have a sixth sense, because they heard me coming. (Crows are also notorious for knowing when you want to kill them.) They took off running before I got off a shot. Next thing, we were running south on the gravel road, me shooting like crazy, they dodging my bullets with fine aplomb.

The next thing that happened, I wasn't expecting at all. The coyotes veered off left into some guy's yard and headed for the back. I kept going, but since I was in someone's yard, I wasn't firing. Suddenly, I heard gunshots as I got toward the back of the house, and figured the guy was shooting the coyotes. But he wasn't, he was killing cats. Somehow he had accrued a back yard full of pesky cats! Somehow through unrestricted breeding they had grown into a full blown infestation.

That's the country. Living in town, your options are limited. Birds can fly away, fish and gators can go down the toilet, and I hesitate to say what can happen to hamsters, gerbils, mice, and other creeping things, what with the politically correct, bleeding heart, so-called morality police when it comes to animal rights. And even I agree, burying alive is inhumane. But to the morality police, I have a question, would you feel the same way if a crazed lion ate your newborn baby? Or a wild boar rooted around and messed up fresh concrete?

Really, though, the issue should be, Why do we want pets in the first place? They do nothing but mess up your life. You can't go anywhere or do anything without giving some thought about the damage they'll do to your home. Every time you see some cat woman on TV you know what the basic problem is. She's living in filth and feces out of some crazy obsession. And it all started when she got the first cat. It didn't do her a bit of good, and no amount of argument can convince me otherwise.

I saw a guy on the elevator at the hospital the other day. He had a little dog under his arm, which he proudly announced to me and the other passengers was blind. Obviously I'm thinking, What's a guy doing bringing a blind dog into a hospital elevator? It's blind, not lame. It can take the stairs like all the other pets. Especially if it has a guy trained to carry it.

You know as well as I, we humans are the only species dumb enough to keep pets. Really, think about it. This little blind dog doesn't have two kittens at home. Your cats don't have pet mice. Animals don't buy other animals at the pet store. Or, to make it real crazy, animals don't have pet humans. Instead, they've learned to live more intelligently than we have, leaving the wild kingdom to itself, although they themselves are in a No Man's Land between the wild kingdom and our human civilization.

You might be saying, But don't you have pets? I do, I have one dog, my dog Underbrush. I've had her for about 14 years, and she's a good dog. But she's more than a pet, she serves me in a practical way. She's my food tester, so no one poisons me. But it's not like it's that valuable a service. Because when she dies I'm going to have to test my own damned food.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

You Could Be A Sleep Therapist

The other night, in that weird twilight zone right before falling asleep, I thought of something that would make a very good occupation, and an easy one at that, Sleep Therapy. It was such a good idea that I was immediately wide awake for another three hours.

There I was, burning the midnight oil, charting it out: How hard could it be? I've been sleeping all my life; I've had eight hours a day experience all my life, but sometimes less if the neighbors are having a party. I hate to sound like I'm making what seem like facile arguments, but you have to admit it's a hell of a point. All that, along with the native talent I've generally had in anything I put my mind to.

Here's a possible therapy session:

Someone comes in. I probe them for their sleep experiences. "Are there times when you were still conscious? That was the state of wakefulness. Were you ever unconscious? That was the state of sleep. How much did you have of one? How much of the other? Let's split the difference, you go to sleep and everyone wins. Do you remember anything like weird movies, picturing yourself in settings with aspects of reality and aspects of fantasy, all the while seeming very plausible to you while later being hard to understand, remember, or describe? Me, too, isn't that the damnest thing! What do you think that was?"

Or they're going, "I'm having a hard time sleeping." This calls for wisdom, giving the best advice you can come up with. I might say, "Let your mind drift, leave your problems behind, picture yourself on a bed, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping..." Basically, I'm hypnotizing them, then pelting them with mini marshmallows to make sure they're not faking it.

Or if they're saying, "I'm getting way too much sleep," that also calls for wisdom. My own theory is you can't sleep too much, a good round eight hours is plenty. Or something like that. But if they persist, complaining they're getting too much sleep, the answer is simple, stay awake more. "Use some mind control techniques: Imagine terrible things happening to you if you sleep, the house burning down, thieves breaking in, an NRA convention somewhere in town. And if you still find yourself dozing, wake up after eight hours and everything's solved."

Let's say you've decided to become a sleep therapist after reading this blog. Congratulations, you've finally embarked on a path toward social usefulness, because sleep is right up there, more or less essential to everyone. I would say that about all you'll need to do now is rent an office, hire a receptionist, get a phone, a patient's chair and bed, print the certificate, and you're done. And maybe a frame for the certificate. This has been a pass-fail course, and you've all passed!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Our First Word, From Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

So there you have it, the first word of the New Year goes to a famous thinker of long ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I always like the idea of the New Year getting off to a profound start. You shouldn't just blurt out any old crap, especially on a blog like this. It needs to be classy, like when you land on the moon. The first thing should be something major.

And who better -- unless it'd be Whittier -- than Emerson? Who always had profound things to say, and he was able to say them in a 19th century way much better than I could ever manage. I actually know this, because I've started to read his essays at least 20 times. I get up to about page 12 and that's it till next time! So what little I might know about it in terms of content, I make up in my absolute knowledge that it's profound and hard to understand. Emerson has philosophical authority up the gazoot chute, forward and back.

Now, though, that the first word for the New Year has been given, and you've had some time to ruminate over it, I can write anything. First, however, I'm a little embarrassed, I haven't actually read the quote! Seriously! I googled his quotes and this was the first fairly lengthy one. I was thinking, the bigger the quote the less I myself have to write.

So let's see what it says. "Finish each day and be done with it." Maybe not a great first word, since he's talking about the end of the day and not the start. "You have done what you could." How true, how true. Emerson isn't expecting perfection, just do what you can. I need that, because it's in my nature to appear the coolest guy in the room, when, realistically, I'm not. "Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in." I can relate to that easily, big blunders, massive absurdities. "Forget them as soon as you can." Done!

"Tomorrow is a new day." I resolve tomorrow that I'll be massively competent. "You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." I shall begin it serenely, I shall begin it serenely, I shall begin it serenely... Probably not. As for having "too high a spirit to be encumbered with [my] old nonsense," it's not true that I'm totally unencumbered with my old nonsense, but the older I get, the more I how little it matters. But that has less to do with my spirit being high and more to do with just a realistic outlook. That no one really cares.

This is pretty good progress I'm making! If I'm not mistaken, I think I halfway understood that quote. Maybe I'm just about smart enough to try and muddle through one of his essays again. Later in the year, if I'm not doing anything else.