Sunday, March 31, 2019

Thermometers Times Infinity

No. 31 of 31 - Thermometer series

That’s it, friends. It’s been a complete joyride and now I’m seeing great success! Miles and miles of happiness and wonderful contentment stretched out toward the great beyond as far as I can see, certainly farther than I could ever reach! If you laid it out end to end, the ends would be so incredibly far away that one end wouldn't know the other.

But it was slow going much of the time, a challenging slog, but highly satisfying. I was so happy I considered shock treatment. The main thermometer was tested often to make sure it was connected and registering. For a while I saw very little stirring, barely anything, and was forced to hit my head against a tree to regain my patience. Friends told me to go about my business and let the fruit be seen in its time. Well, my hopes were a lot shakier than what the final result turned out to be!

I say the “final result,” but the final result is changing all the time. All the continents of the world are reporting jumbo numbers that are enormous, with village captains, associates and advocates in the major cities awestruck. An entire global “small town brigade” is still bringing in the numbers from the hardest places to reach. We’ve used telephone for much of it, email for a larger portion of the load, and even smoke signals for some of the toughest to reach places, along with pack mules, messages in bottles thrown in random bays and rivers, you name it. The last returns might not be tallied in this lifetime.

I still can’t quite believe that someone with my poor organizational skills and a terrible lack of leadership all through my life, could take on such a task and see it amount to anything. Seriously, I’ve never been able to conjure beans in the past. But now with the Men’s Division, and the Ladies Aid, and coordinated teamwork spanning every land mass and wet spot known on earth (including an ocean division), this amazing work was done. Or is still in process.

As for the thermometers, most of them literally blew up. If we ever do it again, we must invest in the thicker glass models. Mercury, this red substance, this flowing sticky nasty liquid is all over the walls! There’s a concern about the fumes, but we've heard that it won't hurt you much if you don't touch or breathe it; a safety zone of miles between you and it is recommended, but I haven't got that luxury. So we’re just avoiding getting any closer to the walls than we have to be. I've been fidgeting my zipper with a stick when I go to the bathroom. I can't see any reason to reach every living soul on earth and not live to tell it.

I’d like to recognize a guy named Kenny, a point of personal privilege. Kenny's out there. He knows who he is. He hand-delivered the first crate of thermometers as well as the last. And he never complained, not once, when no one tipped him. This is your tip, Kenny, our hats off... Even now I'm mailing you a free zipper stick.

I probably should also thank the entire globe for your willingness to be moved en masse. I know each of you is a beautiful individual, created in a spectacular way to be you and you alone. But once you’ve joined with everyone else, it looks like you’re one huge amalgam of people. I hope that’s accurate. Thank you, dear individuals. And thank you as well all you in the aggregate, as you are one beautiful slithering mass. The idea that each of you has thoughts and individuality just like me, and yet is this teeming huge thing blows my mind. Stay as sweet as you are.

I can’t possibly thank everyone by name. The men, the Ladies Aid. I mentioned Kenny. And so many others. I’m overwhelmed. I know you’re with me. And, yes, to answer your main concern, I will sleep when I get tired! Don’t worry about me, I’m about to take a long rest. Cover up and forget it for a while. Thumbs up to the folks passing my window at this very second. Just pointing at them, telling them, “No, no, you're the one that's great!” You’re all so great, and I’ll never forget it.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Mystic Thermometer

No. 30 of 30 - Thermometer series

There was a rumor, fleeting though it was, that I was a quitter. Which I immediately denied. How could anyone think I’d quit now, going on a month into the thermometer drive? If I was going to quit, it would’ve been the first week, not now. Even if I didn’t feel it at this point, I’d at least fake it. I don’t drive somewhere just to turn around at the edge of town. Sheesh, whoever is saying that — I think I might know the guy spreading these rumors — just back off, cease, desist, quit while you’re ahead. But today's a day for happiness, not getting even.

The other reason I would never quit, even say it was a week ago, is because this thermometer thing is a real soul thing. Probably what a whale thinks when it’s swimming the world’s seas. The deepest seas to the whale are a piece of cake. It’s not easily frightened of drowning even though they’re not fish but mammals. You could have the biggest man in the world, an eight-foot giant. And if you threw him in the ocean he’d be scared to death. Not a whale.

And not me. Because something’s stirring in me that’s beyond me and yet part of me. Think of it as the highest realization, that I am the whale, I am the thermometer. It’s funny, one of my biggest fears when my mother would take my temperature was the thermometer. I be lying there in bed and thinking, "I might bite the thermometer in half and die of cuts," or "I might swallow the thermometer, gulp, or I’d be so hot the thermometer would blow its end off (like in cartoons), and it’d get in my eyes and I’d go blind." But now I’ve come full circle, being myself one with the thermometer.

There’s a possible world religion in the making here, folks! Where someday people could be going door to door with leaflets and invitations. Telling people how the inner mercury, the inner sap is always rising or falling. With the thermometer telling your temperature in that sense, You’re hot blooded, check it and see, or you’re cold as ice and someday you’ll have to pay the price.  I always heard we were warm-blooded, which again is also true of the whale. But the mystical reality speaks of not being lukewarm but hot or cold, or being spat out of its mouth...

The lesson about has to be: Be the best cold or the best hot you can be, no in between. And it’s true, we always remember the times we're absolutely cold or hot. I almost froze to death one time, with the weirdest thing happening; at the time I became extremely warm and still knew I’d die of frostbite. So I got up and I ran, I ran so far from there, till I was home, safe in my own bed, warm again. My mom came and asked me what happened. I was out of my mind, not knowing the future, but my exact words were, “Look to the Mystic Thermometer, Mother.” She was freaked out because I always said mom or momma till that day!

Now today is here. Friends. And while it is called today, that is when you must choose. Will you like this blog, subscribe, and/or comment? Will you go the full measure as I have? Will you found a men’s division in your efforts? Will you found a ladies aid group as well? Will you alternately find yourself paranoid, pulling up the blankets lest the world encroach? Or will you find in yourself absolute confidence, casting off your many blankets and shouting it to the world?

Those two scenarios show what your mercury, your sap, the juice in your blessed marrow is doing. Up or down. But it doesn’t go horizontal. You go horizontal, out into the world with the good news of this blog, only when the Mystic Thermometer climbs for the sky. Or you shy away from that horizontal move when instead of climbing for the sky it digs a hole, crawls in, and covers itself in the blessed soil of death, then using whatever strength it has left (and in the absence of air) to dig itself farther and farther below. In all my days I’ve never heard of it burrowing very deeply. It gets a few feet down, let’s say, then reaches around itself, huddles tightly and dies.

Don’t let that happen, unless you are completely without sense.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Am I A Quitter?

No. 29 of 31 - Thermometer series

The whole pathway you and I have taken this month, striving for and hitting so many of our goals, with the greater goal still in sight, has been marked by many up and downs. Which, if I may draw a lesson that no one else has ever thought of, is also the story of life.

But we're not focused on that today. Today we’re answering the question “Am I a Quitter?” And the answer is no. We’re not worrying about the downside, we’re merely stating it, because Victory is in sight! And even if it weren’t, our resolve remains as resolute as any resolution I’ve ever made. And the idea of quitting now -- while probably not as foolish as it sounds -- is not in my armor-clad bullet-resistant bacon-scented nature.

Remember how I’ve gone on about some of the kids in the neighborhood taunting me? They’re like a sad Greek chorus, one note gloomy gusses. Let me prophesy something about them, and this isn’t my word, it’s straight from my gut: “These kids will get theirs! And it won’t be parades and cotton candy, more like fire and brimstone, the worst of the worst, divine switches on bare hide, and the embarrassment that goes with it.” So many of you have written in that you like it when I take these kids to task. So that’s exactly what I like to give you! Curses on their heads, curses on their tails, may their parents die childless! Petless! Twitching and babbling, not even a bottle of hootch to find wet comfort in! Foaming at the mouth...

You like that? You do? I knew it! Let me reach down in my deepest bowels of disparagement and see what else I can say, give a fresh spin to old taunts, perhaps. Well, you know I’m in the Big City now, and somehow these neighbor kids know all the main blogs online. And they were in the street yesterday with their jump ropes, basketballs, and street chalk. They were taunting me, and I looked down and saw a chalk image that was supposed to look like me, and an arrow pointing at my house. Made me look like a Cyclops with one big ugly tooth and fire flaming out of my nose. Which made me sick!

It’s hard for me to believe these kids — ranging from 4 to 16 — that have this knowledge of the world’s blogs, wouldn't use it to some good, like day-trading or real estate, aspirations for their future. They’re obviously not dummies. But they use their talents only for nastiness. This is no exaggeration. They’re the same kids who just happened to find the bloated body of another blogger in the river. It said in the paper that “someone” was taunting him prior to him wading into the river, yelling, “Your blog sucks!” And, true, it really wasn’t too good. His best post was on locating your mate’s love-handles. You don’t need a blog to do that.

I wish he were still alive. For his own sake, of course. But also to take the heat off me, since these kids just naturally need someone to taunt. Maybe if we’d talked more, I could’ve taken the heat off him and he off me. He wasn’t a bad guy, but is love-handles something we have trouble finding? It’s one of the first things I see.

So am I a quitter? Has the sun quit? Is the sky still there? The moon and the rainbows, do they quit? The moon, no. Rainbows, yes, rainbows quit fast, bad example. The sun and stars, they’re still in the sky. I watch YouTube videos about the stars and experts have come to the conclusion that for the most part stars are there. Once in a while one gets destroyed.  

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Premature Happy Ending

No. 28 of 31 - Thermometer series

I got ahead of myself, momentarily forgetting there are still matters to resolve before this thing ends in victory and euphoria. There’s a lot more of the challenging stuff that I don’t necessarily enjoy, like consolidating gains, establishing finely-crafted group purposes, reinforcing everyone’s place in the blog family, making sure new commitments endure, and perhaps coming up with a slogan that binds us closer for the years ahead. I want a better system of reader input too. In short, I’m looking at the boredom of bureaucracy...

And I’m in the mood for love — for num num num — not charters, group dynamics, and the division of labor. I can’t help it if it hits me like that, how with a few eye flickers everything comes into focus all around, when, when—- What’s this? I have to sign for another shipment of thermometers? Can’t we get a guy at the door? The delivery guys don’t need to be walking all the way up to my actual bedroom! Let’s take care of that bureaucratic snafu first!

“OK, where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?” It’s always like this. I’m looking forward for the good stuff, whether it’s Thanksgiving and we’re digging into pumpkin pie, or drying off after a day at the beach. Which this wasn’t. Making me yearn even more for a happy time all around (“for one and all!”) Burning, yearning, intense. And these days with morality at an all time-low, you can hardly say I’m the first to go crazy and longingly dig in. So I’m expecting some forbearance.

You gotta admit, Florence was looking at me with those daydreamy eyes she packs and I at her. It’s a settled fact if not case law that she had something in mind. And it might’ve been more than romance for its own sake. Because I’m old and she’s young. And she has to know there’s issues with inheritance rights on the blog that will be settled soon. But I’m not holding it against her, because I’ve faced my options and they’re limited. You should know, I bathe once a week whether I need it or not.

OK, my whole team was involved in canvassing for the blog at the county level, capitalizing on the local pride angle. Although the county wouldn’t recognize me in a one-man lineup, but the more popular I get, of course the more they’re looking at the bottom line, how with a real popular blog, and thermometer manufacturers moving here, it would really help with taxation and funding.

With these sexy issues in mind, Florence and I allowed our eyes to meet. We went two rooms over. And locked ourselves body to body, groping made more complicated with us so akimbo, but with satisfied noises strongly shared, “Num num num,” as we kissed with genuine intimacy in a mutually shared fever pitch that went on like that, on and on. I reached up to forage for more more more when my hand was quickly and painfully clamped in a muskrat-type trap she had surreptitiously concealed under her sweater. “I’ll take that as a no,” I deadpanned, dangling a nasty little trap and counting fingers.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Valor In Excelsis Club

No. 27 of 31 - Thermometer series

This week has found me offline quite a bit, as I was pressed with a public speaking tour throughout the Big City on behalf of the blog. Our drive for new readers has taken on a life of its own, with a bunch of folks receiving me graciously, asking me to address their organizations, and even presenting me flowers.

And of course I never play favorites, never have, never will. But the red roses from the Valor in Excelsis Club — a solid dozen of the prettiest red roses — touched my heart most of all. Which is not to say the others were bad, not by any means, but the pretty red roses were miles away my favorite and no doubt the ones I will remember the longest and with the most fondness. They're in a quart of water by my bed.

The Valor in Excelsis Club also gave me the biggest reception, shaking hands with me, seriously shaking and introducing me around, and in such a way that I truly knew I was among friends. I don’t know exactly what it is about the Valor in Excelsis Club that makes them unique in the club-speaking business, but they truly go all out to make a guy know he’s the center of their meeting. I haven’t got a big head by any means, but the way the Valor in Excelsis folks made me feel so special, it started to make me think, I must be better than I knew!

Anyway, it was a heart-touching time. Please join me in a big hand for the Valor in Excelsis Club for their superior reception and closeness of attention to detail — far surpassing all other clubs in that regard as well. I can say without the fear of contradiction, when they formed the Valor in Excelsis Club they broke the mold, because these guy are the absolute peak, the best of any club I’ve ever had an acquaintance with. And, yes, I’ve seen plenty of clubs -- from the Bee Club to the Spy Club we had as kids till today.

My sales job to them on getting people to read my blog was heartfelt. I’ve got a certain technique — OK, I’m going to give you the inside track on my speech technique — I picture myself climbing a mountain with the rhetoric. Then when I’m at the absolute peak, where it seems like I will soar into the stratosphere, I break down as though I can’t go on. The analogy here is a roller coaster that stops at the peak of its highest drop; it takes your breath away. People are popping oxygen pills. Then right at that moment I segued into a riff about the Valor in Excelsis Club, how well known they are for rescuing people. Then in hushed tones, I fought back tears. The place was incredibly still as I regained enough composure to thank them for “how you rescued me...” Significant trail-off, touching heart, we were all sobbing. Fifty dollar check.

I’ve used the same story with other clubs, and of course it’s always someone from their club (a different chapter out of town) that rescued me. But all the Valor in Excelsis Club does is rescue people so what can you say... They see someone in danger, they'll trample each other to death to be the guy who gets the credit. So that’s the way I told it:

“I was with my mother at the Ridiculous Day sales one year when a madman came careening down the alley, right toward me. With the weirdest part being he was found innocent that very day of an unrelated crime. I was frozen in my tracks. I didn’t know what to do. At 12 years old I was mentally a babe in arms, literally a basket case.

"But I knew the guy was crazed, and the shame of being accused of an unrelated crime was too much for him. He would go out every bit the criminal they said he was. Tragic. Anyway, here he comes, with enough hate to burn the village to the ground! But his hatred was for me alone, a random kid he'd never met. I personally saw him scouring the rest of the town for other victims. There was no stopping him, nothing anyone could do.

"When some quick thinking members of the Valor in Excelsis Club, the most alert people on earth, saw the hazard and swung into action. Each Valorian had a large hook and rope and flung them toward every fire escape in town, God is my witness. Then just as that hazardous motorist could run me over — and we later learned he had the worst of intentions, having put a cement brick on the gas to make his evil deeds even more irreversible — the Valor in Excelsis Club rescued me. Unfortunately they couldn’t rescue everyone, but I was spared, saints be praised.”

The other downer is that several Valor in Excelsis Club members themselves were impaled on the hooks and killed. And every year I recite their names and toll a memorial bell purchased for that purpose. That day and New Year's Eve.

I concluded with a personal request: "Thank you very much for this lovely plaque. I’d like to request as well, if you ever have any honorariums up for grabs, I’d be honored to get my mitts on as many of those as is humanly possible.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Who Are These People?

No. 26 of 31 - Thermometer series

The thermometer drive’s still going, great guns, wonderful progress. It's been nuts! I’m making friends all over the world. By the time I get done I'll need a bigger planet... Still, as many friends as there are, and no matter how tenaciously they glom on, I keep reminding myself to keep a little distance. You don’t want drop-ins especially here in the Big City where your very best friend could be the one that offs you.

But I’ve always had tremendous luck in my life. Barely anyone’s ever done anything even remotely threatening to me. I think I can fend off the world’s hordes as subscribers, commenters, and readers of my blog. I’ve done OK so far. But of course I’ve had only a handful of the world’s people. And statistically, yes, there’s been a few duds in the mix. Nothing to worry about. And if you're reading this, it's not you.

Anyway, no worries... I’ve heard of plenty of blogs with huge numbers, and I’m sure they’re not awake all night living in fear. Why live in fear? There actually are good reasons. We have this one body, we’re vulnerable, and when you’re one guy against a crazy mob, there’s no telling what can happen. Like Jesus, merely trying to get people to go to church and be nice and all it got him was crucified. I think it had to do with money. A lot of tightwads out there would just as soon crucify you as look at you..

But I'm looking on the bright side. This is no day for paranoia! Seems like I was happy yesterday. I think I was. But I’m hazy, really. One day’s different than the next. I just peeked through the blinds and another guy was walking up the street. How many times has it been? I’ve seen guys walking up the street every single day for the last month. And that’s no exaggeration. Now, figuring I’m not always looking out the window, but only once in a while, and nearly every time I do there’s someone walking up the street. Multiply that times all the times I’m not looking... I have a multitude of guys walking up the street. I should either be out there with a sign-up sheet for my blog or forgetting it all together.  Do it online, keep it anonymous.

Ah yes, the faceless, nameless hordes of people, the miserable, the lonely, the riffraff and refuse of the teeming shores. That’s why the Statue of Liberty holds that sword [Kafka], to cut the head of any lowlife who dares look up her dress. She doesn’t mind welcoming you in, she just wants you to keep moving. Through the turnstiles at Ellis Island where they misspell your name every time. Your name is Dobbs and you have a son, your family name’s suddenly Dobson.

Yes, folks, we’re still charging ahead with the thermometer drive, and it’s awesome. I've heard reports from as far away as Mars that thermometers are blowing up like crazy. Part of it's the weird gravity strain that thermometer glass is prone to, the rest are people -- bushels and acres of people! -- going nuts over the quality of this blog, and doing what they can to get relief. Watch your eyes, though, people, because I cannot be held responsible if you're hit in the eye by glass. Keep at least one eye good enough to read with, an important note to remember.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Meet The Parents

No. 25 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019


No. 24 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Hard Times

No. 23 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

I Gotta Be Me

No. 22 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Start The Ball To Rolling

No. 21 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Get Your Vaccinations

No. 20 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Battle Stations!

No. 19 of 31 --Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Our Ladies Aid

No. 18 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Recruiting A Few Good Men

No. 17 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Choked With Fear

No. 16 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Keeping Mama Happy

No. 15 of 31 -- Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Taking The Scotsman To Task

No. 14 of 31 -- Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Golden Slumbers

No. 13 of 31 - Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Picking My Spirit Animal

No. 12 of 31 -- Thermometer series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Fish & Crawdads

No. 11 of 31 -- Thermometer series

Something important to all of us these days is our opinion. We're overcome with opinions, clearly. I'm of the opinion people are wacko crazy, not knowing what's good for them. But just wait. Evolution, and its more immediate cousin, Mortality, will take care of it. Just you wait...

In the meantime, Fish and Crawdads is the answer, keeping the two separate, but knowing they go together. You want Fish, you need Crawdads, you need Crawdads to get Fish. We used to catch Crawdads and keep tubs of them in the shade of our bigger maple tree. They were happy, they couldn't get out, and they did their job, catching Fish. Which we ate.

Fish and Crawdads of course both have the meat of the goodie and the refuse of the baddie. (A term I just coined to have an opposite to goodie.) The meat of the Fish you prepare for meals, the baddie you discard, guts, heads, scales. On the Crawdad, the meat is a small white piece under the tail, big to the Crawdad but small compared to the baddie. And some of them go full King Kong with baddie, enormous claws and heads, then down to, at best, an above average goodie.

Now, these days, your opinion can be the most cantankerous part of yourself. We can stand your loud grating voice, as long as you're paying dues, but if you can't stifle the a-hole opinions, it might get you killed. I personally don’t know very many people who’ve gotten killed for their opinions. If I knew of one, that's someone I wouldn't have had much to do with in the first place. My opinion, Steer clear of certain death!

What we’re concerned with these days is the blog, keeping it healthy, keeping track of it with these great thermometers -- boxes and boxes of beautiful thermometers -- and seeking its survival and prosperity in a world of readers who frankly don’t know their digestion outlet from a hole in the ground. Let alone what to do with it, although I suppose everyone has the basics of that down by simple nature. One important clue, it's not for cucumbers. So we've got that much, but what we haven’t all got is an understanding of the process scientifically. A baby has the diaper strapped on but has no clue what for.

As this great effort goes forth -- filling thermometers, not diapers -- we shall do it in a similar spirit. Doing our best along the way, not worrying too much, and not even trying to understand the steps. Just doing it and worrying about the results when we clean up. But one thing of huge importance is not getting down in the dirt with these bastards and their crazy opinions! Because it'd only spring back on us. So we need a signal. Some bastard shows up, we whistle. That's the signal. Then when we're mostly out of view, twirl your finger by your ear. Meaning he's loopy.

Politics, yes, politics is always in the air at our meetings. But we’ve come this far — I don’t want to ruin it by lambasting too many folks and prematurely driving a wedge between us in spirit. I have to keep telling myself, "Fish and Crawdads," the mission, the goal first. Then someday, after all this is a huge success, only then can our meat of the goodie be openly telling them off and where to get off -- maybe even ceremonially stripping them and attaching Crawdads to the fleshier bits --  then showing them the door.

We used to get rid of fish baddie by dropping it to the turtles, enormous turtles, like a yardstick across. That's a good way to get rid of things. I saw it happen. And no one ever got caught.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Dr. Vector -- Seeking Spirit Animal

No. 10 of 31 -- Thermometer series

It’s been quite a month and it's just getting started. I’m overwhelmed by the size of the task ahead. And while I’m getting good help from a few folks, it’s been hard to consolidate my gains. This is a global effort with various time zones, languages, and the strange native dress of people half or twice my size. I’m starting to feel the weight of the world. I could use the word "crushing" to describe it. Because the world is overwhelming, huge, and round. I heard some people say the earth is flat. It can't be because I'm getting feedback. People contact me and 24 hours later I hear it.

But I had to take a break, a day of rest and relaxation. Yes, the pace continues on, unrelenting, since it's always 24 hours later somewhere! And it’s dizzying trying to keep all the chores that need to be done in context. Remember the time I fell and lost part of my memory? I’m feeling that again, and it’s enough that I had to seek assistance. I called the hotline at “I Need Professional Help” and they set me up for a couple sessions with Dr. Vector.

Dr. Vector is quite a guy. He has a look like someone who couldn't possibly care. But right away he makes you feel comfortable by constantly rolling these Chinese metal balls in his hand. His voice is sort of a whirring metallic sound, which I’ve heard either grates on people or they’re comforted by it. I happen to be comforted to the point that, combined with his whirling metallic voice and the metal balls lightly clinking in his hand, I’m hypnotized and they could do brain surgery without sedation. His eyes, so peaceful. He's got a little pouch of baby fat. His other features are unusual, admittedly, but somehow probably explainable by the vagaries of evolution. He’s one of a kind.

But a man is more than his looks. He’s got an education for one, since he calls himself a doctor. And an office and a beautiful wooden desk and, my favorite, big comfortable chairs that you can adjust however you like, with a wooden handle at the side and a place for your feet. If you want to rest your legs or actually prop your feet up and keep your knees sharp in the air, you can!

We’ll be working on my spirit animal. That’s what Dr. Vector thinks I’m missing. And maybe I am, but I have this vague memory of going through this technique at some point in the past. But for the life of me I can’t remember what my spirit animal was. Could’ve been the deer, fleet of food, elusive. Could’ve been the fox, sly, also elusive if you don’t know where to look. I hope it’s not the monkey, since I’ve heard the monkey mind disparaged enough times to turn me off from that. Whatever it is, with me in the chair and Vector playing with his balls, I’m sure it'll come to me.

Dr. Vector put a couple of possibilities before me that he had discerned, but he wanted to leave the final determination to me, because a doctor, he said, is merely a conduit for an individual’s self-healing. Meaning, if that’s really true, I’ll be billing myself for half the visit.

The first possibility is the crowing rooster. A beautiful specimen, I’d say. I love the sights and sounds of roosters. I used to raise chickens and the roosters were the rarity in the flock, the individual by choice. Because you can't allow a bunch of fighting roosters teeing off against each other to get the hens. The rooster has to be the cock ‘o the walk, literally and figuratively, and they know it. As for myself, I’m a lot more modest than that, but I get the point; they're central to everything when it comes to the farm. They take care of the hens and they let you know when the sun is up.

I had to leave to think it over: What spirit animal would I be? And where would it get me? Like everything in life, it would be a reorienting measure. Because I’m frequently confused, as though there should be an "Out of Order" sign on everything I see. But you might say, If everything's out of order, then what is this order of which you speak? Touché, that’s true, order to be order can’t be out of order.

And the better condition I’m in, the more I can focus on this thermometer drive, filling them as people make various commitments, either with me, with my team, or between themselves and the Lord above. It all counts! Whatever they do, and the calls and notes, while they’re coming in slowly are at least coming. But I have to take care of myself, understanding myself, etc., so that I at long last can be all things to all people.