Monday, January 31, 2011

Magisterial -- The Greatest Compliment

The greatest compliment you can give a movie is "blockbuster" or "boffo." For movies, the whole thing is to make big box office bucks -- it's all reduced to that. Actors, directors, and the others don't give a crap for anything else. It's all money.

But in the world of books, there's some differences. As a dedicated reader of blurbs on the back of books -- and occasionally I get up to around page 16 in my unsuccessful efforts to read them (I'm busy and it takes forever to read a book) -- I know what writers like to hear.

"Authoriative" is nice, "essential," "definitive," "really good," and "interesting" are good compliments. I would like to have any of those terms used to describe my own writings, this blog. People often say such things -- then I wave them off as being undeserved, hoping they'll prevail in the battle of wits against me, but they usually give up and move on.

Yes, all those words are great. A writer sits in his study writing, dying to hear those compliments, as page after page is written, maybe a page a day or only one paragraph; it doesn't matter. Maybe he's so immersed in a character, like my own Percival A. Hashbrown, that he subsumes his own personality.  But somewhere under his crunchy light brown exterior, there's still a soft spot in his heart for praise.

I've often daydreamed of writing a book as thick as a couch, with everyone sitting up then and taking notice and giving me my well deserved strokes. Maybe it'll happen, maybe not, it probably will someday. Then they'll stroke me with those words, which of course I'll love.

But the word that is the highest praise for a writer, a book, is "magisterial." That's a knockout word. It sounds so grand, like a magistrate, a big white powdered wig on a judge, and the guy's so serious he has narrow eyes and a pointed nose. Or maybe he's a Calvinist magistrate who persecutes men, whose daily edict has everyone burnt at the stake just for fun.

To be called "magisterial" -- your book -- means you've gone beyond simple authority all the way up to literary divinity.

Would I like my own writings to be called "magisterial"? Of course, it's every serious writer's dream. You've got your words well ordered, every comma in place, you've spell checked it, and no one can dispute your conclusions. Even if they do, they're still breathless that you wrote it like that, magisterially. To them, you're a magistrate, a god on the magisterial mountain of literature.

I just saw in the last couple days a couple of books called "magisterial." And I bought one of them! Because if it's that good, it must be good. It gave me no great personal joy, not being the author, but it assured me that I could trust this book implicitly. I did get a little personal joy, because if I actually read it, and I'm like in the third chapter already, it might help me write better, more magisterially.

The thing is, with blogs, they're not usually called magisterial, because you're not taking the same care. The difference between me and others is ... I do take the same care; I proofread everything at least once and I'm a good to very good speller. I'm a magistrate in the making!

E Ink Shortage Roils Ebook World

The ebook world -- including the Amazon Kindle and all its imitators -- has been shaken by a sudden drop in the supply of E Ink.

Chalk it up to an unforeseen consequence of too much success too fast. Or maybe greed is at the root of it. They probably should have seen it coming but they didn't. And now we all have to suffer.

Millions of readers have already emptied their shelves of books to make way for ebooks, turning to the little reader devices. Of course they thought all would be well and there would be no problems. But reality always seems to have a way of intruding on everyone's best laid plans.

With the sudden drop in the supply of E Ink, ebooks are already very scarce and the problem threatens to get worse. To deal with the crisis, is now limiting customers to one ebook a month, or two if you can prove you can actually read that fast. No relief is in sight.

Like the supplies of gasoline, where we are used to shortages and price increases supposedly due to continuous retooling for summer and winter blends and other screwing around, it's anyone's guess what the problem is with E Ink production. To be frank, we're not entirely what E Ink even is, but we think they crunch up black chalk and mix it with chemicals. As to how there could be a shortage, when's the last time you shopped for black chalk? It's tough to find.

Speaking for myself, of course I prefer the Kindle to actual books. Shakespeare only wrote one book but it's a thick one! It's a lot easier to cart your whole library around when it weighs nothing. But with the shortage, I'm glad I kept a few old fashioned books, just in case they don't get it resolved by the time I read the 600+ page ebook on the Third Reich I'm currently working on.

My Milkbone Mea Culpa

Going by some of the emails I got since yesterday, some of you think I was pretty "flip" in what I wrote about the Milkbone dog biscuit I've got. Flip, in the sense that I didn't sound sincere about it being my last resort/go-to food in the event that I ran out of other food and money to buy more.

Well, it's the last day of January, and I don't want this weighing on my conscience into a whole new month (February), so let me address the issue right now and hopefully get it over with. Let this be my mea culpa if indeed I have anything to feel guilty about, which really I don't think I do. Because I was 100% sincere.

I was, as I just said, 100% sincere, with this little side note, that I don't really expect to be completely out of food or out of money to buy more. Hence, I don't really expect to have to eat this Milkbone, and so, going by that, I guess I was a little flip, and for that -- mea culpa -- I'm sorry.

The issue some of you had, and I completely understand this, is that there are indeed lots of people out there who are either starving to death or close to it. To me, that's no laughing matter, and I'm 100% sincere about that. It sickens me that in a world where there should be plenty of food, there's not. That's no joke, that's really how I feel. But it's a matter of economics, problems with distribution. There's always some problem with distribution and that is a sickening reality.

This blog's stock in trade is trying to make people smile. If I can toss in a few jokes and make people laugh, that brightens my day ... and I hope theirs. So, let me try to do that, leaving behind the last paragraph, which veered off into a serious subject for which I have no solution. Make distribution better is the solution, but how I'm supposed to do that, sitting here as I am, one guy with a single Milkbone, I don't know.

If I'm ever that bad off, believe me, I'm not likely to think it's funny. Because it wouldn't be. If I'm down to one Milkbone and that's all I have to eat. I was thinking about this today while I was outside scraping some ice off my windshield. I was thinking, "If I'm ever down to one Milkbone -- literally one dog biscuit -- I may as well give it to someone less fortunate, because what good's it really going to do me? If I eat it myself, then die?" But then the question presented itself, "Why aren't I giving it away today? Or why aren't I giving away everything else I have today? Why should I wait till I'm down to it?"

The obvious answer -- which became obvious to me within seconds -- is that if I gave away everything I had, what kind of life would that leave me? Then I'd be at the mercy of the elements. Then I literally would wish I had at least a Milkbone, so I could eat it, then die. Or, as I said above, give it away, because really, what good it going to do me to have one Milkbone to eat, then die?" I may as well die today and spare the world its need to care for me, which it wouldn't anyway, thanks to problems with distribution.

The whole thing, you can see, raises more questions than it answers. Even now I'm sensing some mea culpa feelings again for having even brought it up. Because there's someone out there who would give their eye teeth (is that how the phrase goes) to have this thing. And that's sad, that the stinking distribution system in this world is so piss poor that people can't even have a bare morsel.

We need a world leader -- a benevolent one, not a crappy one -- to get this all figured out. Someone smarter than me, if such a creature exists.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Last Morsel Of Food: A Milkbone

I probably should wait to write this, since I'm not hungry in the slightest. I had some pizza for lunch and a Hostess cupcake and a can of Orangette. Certainly at this point a Milkbone doesn't sound good. But, who knows, someday I might eat one, the one I have. I'm saving it just in case.

That's a picture of the actual Milkbone I possess. I've had it around for a couple weeks. I'm wondering if I should wrap it in plastic to keep it fresher. Or does it really matter? It feels exactly like it did when I got it, but then the way of all flesh (and things) is to decay, to crap out. It could be if I don't put it in plastic that it'll be completely corrupt by the time I might need it.

And I really might need it someday. Just because I'm completely sated at this moment doesn't mean I won't get hungry again. But it'll have to be someday, because at this point there's plenty of food in the refrigerator. And I have additional money, in my wallet and in the bank, to buy other food between now and that (hopefully) distant day, hopefully never, when I might need this Milkbone for food.

I look at food maybe in a different way than the average person at any average moment. I see it for the energy it has bound up in it, which I believe we measure by the word calories. Each thing has calories. Then in addition to those, it has nutritional content meant to address certain needs of the organism. The nutrients swim through your bloodstream looking for holes in your nutritional status to plug up. Seeing none, they become poop, and that means you're full.

The upshot of all this is it doesn't really matter what you eat, just so it has nutritional value, measurable caloric content, and can be digested when it's time to go. You don't want to eat a whole walnut and have to pass it later. It's better to get the meat of the goodie out of the middle and eat that. The husk probably has nutritional value -- but if it tastes anything like it smells, you wouldn't want it.  Even the squirrels know better.

So if it doesn't matter what you eat, a Milkbone is just as good as anything else if you're starving to death.

My dog Underbrush would've eaten this particular Milkbone except she doesn't like them. I'm not sure why. She's never gone for them. One day a couple weeks ago I took her to the bank, and when I went to get my money out of the pneumatic tube, the teller had stuck in a Milkbone for her. She sniffed it and let it lay. So I threw it up on the dash, and ever since I've been thinking that I'd keep it just in case.

Would I like to eat a Milkbone? I don't believe I would. But it'll come in handy if I ever have to.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Is Amazon Monitoring My Reading Speed?

I had a weird passing thought of paranoia (very mild, since it doesn't really matter) while reading my Kindle.

The weird thought was that everything you do with the Kindle might be reported back to Amazon, who, with no evil intention that I can think of, would be carefully filing away and examining the data.

I eventually would've had this thought no matter what, except when I first got it I became aware that they compile everyone's highlights, so they're able to show you the most popular highlights as you read along. Which I really didn't want to see, so I turned the feature off.

Really, why would I want to see everyone else's highlights? When I buy a book I'm not looking for the most marked up one I can find. I want a clean book! And anyway, everyone else's preferences aren't my own ... If you're sitting drinking a glass of pop you don't want the flavors everyone else is savoring to keep appearing in your mouth. One at a time, let my experience be my experience; my private thoughts don't have to have that social media accompaniment.

But this thought this morning is a little more than the highlights although of the same genus. They could be monitoring everything, like the angle I tilt the thing most often, whether I'm reading in the sunlight or a room, of course what words I look up in the dictionary (charting out everyone's vocabulary skills), and anything else you can think of having to do with reading comprehension, speed, apparent interest (if my speed picks up or slows down, one having to do with breathlessness, the other with savoring), etc., etc.

If the Kindle's tipped up at a certain angle, of course you're reading in bed. Wouldn't it be great to quantify how much reading people do in bed, so they could tie it in with marketing, something to do with mattresses? Or selling nightlights? I don't know what devices there might be in this device, all with their own evil or benign devices. The thing could be tracking my every move. I spilled a tiny bit of seasoned salt on it yesterday and I thought I heard it groan. I'll try pepper today and see if it sneezes.

It probably doesn't matter. The big companies want to know everything about us. And we're complicit if we hold their spies in our hot little hands. We may as well lay back and enjoy it, and just hope it's all going into a big aggregate number and that it's not so specifically individualized.

I might run a magnet over it and see if it cries. I have a big magnet on my refrigerator. I think I got it out of a car motor one time. No, probably not a car motor. Wherever I got it, it's the most powerful magnet I've ever seen. We'll see how the Kindle stands up to this big lug. I'm afraid to put it against appliances -- the refrigerator doesn't seem to mind -- since I don't want them acting up.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Facebook Status: Taking A Bullet For Junior

I'm amazed on a daily basis how schmaltzy and sentimental people are on Facebook.

Each one has a dead dog waiting for them "in Heaven", or a child; it's nauseating. Of course family still here on Earth get a lot of tributes. Each week it's Daughter Week, Son Week, Mom Week, Dad Week, or something. But there doesn't seem to be any organization behind these designations, since I know I've seen Daughter, Son, and Mom Weeks roll around with some frequency.

I'm also wondering, Are the people in my life (or formerly in it) really this sentimental in their everyday life. Are they really going around with tears in their eyes singing "Wind Beneath My Wings" to one another? Or slowly thumping their fist to their heart while staring meaningfully into one another's eyes?

Here's one that's a tribute to our children in general:

Parents think about their children day and night. Parents love their children in a way that they will never understand. Parents will be there for their children when no one else will. Parents would take a bullet, jump in front of a train, or ask God to take them instead of their child--I know I would! If you have children you love as much as I love mine post this as your status

That's probably true, parents think about their children a lot, and they love them in a way they will never understand. And I would guess that parents would be there for their kids when no one else is. If you're talking just about the way normal life is, it's tough to "be there" for every person you see unless you have some kind of deeper relationship with them. Being a parent meets that criterion. It's like being the home team.

Then we find out that parents would take a bullet for Junior. Well ... I don't know. I'm presently reading a book on Al Capone, and there's a picture of his mother and sister (Theresa and Mafalda). The caption says they were "part of a large, tightly bound family." I haven't read far enough to know if Theresa Capone ever took a bullet for Alphonse. But who knows? Maybe she would've if she'd've been there when the bullets were flying.

Parents also would "jump in front of a train" for Junior. I wonder how often it happens that you need to jump in front of a train for a kid. But look on the bright side, it'd actually be better to jump in front of a train than some lesser vehicle. Because you could jump in front of a lesser vehicle and end up crippled (differently disadvantaged) for life, but a train's going to kill you outright. In the first case, Junior comes to resent you because now he has to pay for your medical care for life, since you were trampled when you ignorantly jumped in front of an ox cart and slipped, thinking it'd be a great way to show your devotion to your child. But if you're run over by a train and killed outright, Junior gets his inheritance and you've won big respect points forever!

The next thing is parents will ask God to take them instead of Junior. To which I have to ask, Is that really the way it works? Seriously, I have problems with the idea that we're all on a number system, that we're all in line to die, and that somehow, with enough pleading, the order can be switched. My kid's about to die of a rare lung fungus -- a lungus -- so I rush down to the hospital chapel to pray: "Please, God, take me instead of Junior!" The next thing you know, you're coughing up blood and that's a good thing...

The sentimental status writer ends with a challenge to parents everywhere. "If you love your little brats as much as I love my spawn, post this as your status." Parents everywhere are out there blubbering, crying their eyes red, even sacrificing their time to type this out character by character rather than resorting to the lazier CTRL-C, CTRL-V. If you're going to take a bullet or jump in front of a train, you at least should have the devotion to type it out word for word!

Percival A. Hashbrown

Here's my new character, which I won't be doing anything with except introducing him. And I'm in a hurry at that, because I have a dental appointment within the hour. But I'm taking these few minutes to mention him just in case there's some competitor out there who might try and beat me to the punch.

So let's be quick. He's Percival A. Hashbrown.

I thought of this guy yesterday while enjoying a McDonald's hashbrown. I think of things while eating these, like what these poor potatoes have been through on their journey to be an actual hashbrown. It doesn't take long to eat one, so their long journey doesn't end up with much of a payoff. And once gone, they seldom come back up. It's strictly out the other end ... in an unrecognizable form.

So there he is, Percival A. Hashbrown ... quite a name, huh? And quite a character, too, I might say. He spends his day next to a briefcase and a big black cow.

Ohhhh, you're quick! Of course all of us recognize the obvious allusions -- I know you do, referring of course to the famous wrestling manager of the '70s, Percival A. Friend. But just for the sake of future social archaeologists, who will have a constant eye on my blog archives one thousand years hence, as they try to reconstruct the broad outlines (and details) of the mid to late 20th century and early to mid 21st century, depending on how long I live .... For their sake I will sketch out my memories, and our common memories, of Percival A. Friend.

Percival actually has his own website, appropriately named PercivalAFriend. A few short years ago there was virtually no reference to him, so it's good to see that he's staking out his own piece of the history, again, for the benefit of social archaeologists.

As we all remember, Percival was a wrestling manager in the '70s, in my memory most famous for managing Black Angus. Hence, the black cow in Hashbrown's universe. Also, Percival A. Friend carried a briefcase, which you will also see in Hashbrown's universe. With the briefcase, either loaded with lots of very heavy personal papers or a brick, he was able to have an offensive weapon against other wrestlers and referees.

My most favorite (or standout) memory of PAF was when he "accidentally" (since there was no doubt a script) clunked Black Angus in the head with the briefcase, meaning that from that moment there was an untrussed rupture in their relationship. PAF was out of a job insofar as his most recent employer was concerned. Black Angus had a look of stunned disbelief, not aware, apparently, that accidents do happen. It awakened him to the truth that a danger to others might also be a danger to you, especially if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Did I ever personally see Percival A. Friend? Yes, I did. Either once or twice. Definitely at least once. And if I could've gotten my hands on that briefcase, there might've been hell to pay. But this incident being at the time the present moment and not a past moment of memory in which anything might've happened meant I wasn't able to do it. Had I done that, they would've taken me out, or I might still be hanging from the rafters of that particular school gym, up there with the retired jerseys and numbers.

Did I ever lose track of Percival A. Friend in the meantime? Yes, I believe he dropped out of sight, at least my sight, since our interest in professional wrestling waxed and waned and eventually was extinguished. Now we simply have those pleasant memories of being young adults out for a pleasant evening of a ringful of guys apparently beating the crap out of each other. Oh, the names, Harley Race, Rufus R. Jones, Bob Geiger, etc. It was cool seeing them in real life, cool at that moment. AND ... Percival A. Friend.

Anyway, I need to go. I just wanted to get Percival A. Hashbrown's name out there, as well as make sure Friend's story was fully documented for the sake of the archaeologists, who -- what? -- otherwise would've had to depend on his personal website being well archived. And that's no good. You need the full force, the full faith and credit, of Google and their own personal archives -- i.e., Blogspot to make sure 1,000 years comes and everyone's not disappointed.

My dentist awaits! There he is, for the whole world to see, my new character (whom I will probably immediately forget) ... the Great .... Percival A. Hashbrown!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mix Your Propoxyphene With Kitty Litter

I see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking doctors to stop prescribing the pain reliever propoxyphene.

Guess what, this is the first time I've heard of propoxyphene. I don't take it. But this one piece of information somehow fell into my hands, that it's not recommended for prescriptions.

It seems like it'd be tough being a doctor, having to know all this stuff. I've talked with nurses about medicine, and by golly, they know all about it. They can rattle it off -- probably thanks to daily experience rather than having memorized it back in nursing school. As for doctors, who knows what doctors know? I know you seldom see a doctor in the wild. You can barely find them in the buildings they work in; in fact, you can't find them; you just sit in a room with a closed door and, when you least expect it, they magically appear. One day I saw my doctor in a city park during a holiday celebration and I was suspicious; how could this guy appear in public, but it turned out it was just the same magic; there was some kind of wormhole between his office and the park.

Anyway, if you've ever seen a Physician's Desk Reference book (they're about nine inches thick and have over 3,000 pages, and now are available on CD-ROM or via the website, no doubt with a healthy fee, since everything related to doctors and medicine is always immediately 400% higher), you know there's a lot to know about medicine. But, here's a question for you? Have you ever actually seen a doctor look up something in the PDR. No, you haven't. Because they never want to appear that they don't know something. So that's what they're doing! Back in their office with the light pulled down over the desk, with an old copy of the PDR on their chair so they're able to sit high enough to read the new one, frantically studying all this business about propoxyphene.

Would you know how to dispose of propoxyphene, say, if the FDA suddenly asked doctors to quit prescribing it. Assuming it's the size of normal pills and I only had a normal supply, I might flush them down the toilet (I hope that's not politically incorrect). If I did that, they might meet up with some of our dead fish and revive them. Or if I had a bigger supply I might have to get creative, like dousing them with gas and setting them ablaze. That couldn't be good though, unless you lived in the country. The fumes might kill you. (Please don't set your supply afire; this blog is for entertainment purposes only.)

When I came across all this business about propoxyphene -- and it just fell in my lap -- I read the official way of getting rid of it.

Take your propoxyphene out of its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. This will make it less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.

So if you don't drink coffee and you don't have a cat, you're out of luck. This would be a great time to be a cat hoarder, except their cats always just go on the floor, thankfully usually behind the couch where you never notice it until they come to tear down the house. Or a coffee grounds hoarder. Truthfully, there is a song on a CD collection of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton about an old daddy who reuses his coffee grounds. And I've found it true -- just like daddy did -- you don't really get the flavor out of a coffee bean till the eighth time it's been through the water.

Still, who wants to sift through used coffee grounds or kitty litter trying to separate out the propoxyphene, especially if you've had the foresight to crunch them up a bit? You're trying to get the last little bit of good out of half a pill and you realize you just swallowed a cat turd with it, it's going to come back up!

Looking at that again, I also like the part about making it unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash. Please, those people already have problems, an occasional pill's not going to hurt them. Plus, imagine how disappointed they're going to be. "That asshole mixed this propoxyphene with coffee grounds and cat crap! I'm going to get him!" Then they jump on you when you go outside and suddenly you need a pain reliever. Of course if you're a doctor you could go look it up in the PDR, what would be good. Or you can check the garbage you haven't taken out yet, maybe some of the old cat litter wasn't that dirty.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The New Way Of Restaurant Tipping

I'm always wondering what waitresses think about the new way of tipping in restaurants.

It used to be you just put your few dollars on the table and they could always see immediately if you were a nice guy or a bum. Now they have the extra intermediary step, in some cases, of taking your debit card, running it, bringing you back a bunch of receipts, and hoping that you'll know enough to fill it in properly.

(By the way, using a debit card takes away all your anonymity, since your name's printed right on the thing. It's disconcerting to hear the waitress call you by name.)

In some cases, then, the waitress returns to your table after you're gone, gets the black receipt book, and presumably looks to see if you're a prince or a bum. So it's not that much different. But there's other places where you go to the cash register, leaving nothing behind on the table, and what they wind up with is a stack of tickets at the register.

Unless they're very forward to be at the register going through the tickets, it's more or less a mystery to them till some hours later whether you were a hero or goat. By then you're long gone and they can't run out to your car and let the air out of the tires or put sugar cubes in your gas.

From the customer's point of view, it feels kind of funny not leaving a few bucks on the table. Except it always bothered me to do so, since you never know whether the people at the other tables were thieves. Still, you want the waitress to know you were decent enough and not a freeloader, if that makes any difference.

There was a guy on the news the other day who advocated not tipping at all unless it would have something to do with getting better service or some other advantage next time. That's definitely the pragmatic/selfish approach. The way I'd see it is there might not be a next time. The waitress would see you coming and put you right next to the aquarium right when it was time for it to be cleaned.

At some time you'd have to prime the pump, meaning be preemptive in giving a tip. Then it would have to be memorable enough that she'd remember it next time. Two or three dollars wouldn't be enough to stand out in her memory. You'd have to give fifty bucks for her to remember it. And say she did remember it, you've got the problem of having to match or exceed it next time. Bottom line, I'd forget the pragmatic/selfish approach and just help her along with making a decent wage.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Push To Outlaw Beds

It was Sunday again and that meant going to church.

Pastor Wadd continued his series on "The Lusts of the Flesh," today being something around Part 40. It's amazing how he never runs out of things to say. But I guess as long as people are doing it, there'll always be something to talk about.

The guy definitely know about eye contact. If I were him, I think I'd be looking over everyone's heads so they wouldn't feel so bad about themselves. But that's not his style; he wants to make you squirm. Because if you're not actually guilty of something, he knows you wish you were. Not that guilt is any great experience. I know I hate it. But if you're going to have it, it may as well be for something actual and not just imagined. He might be pushing us into it!

I realize not everyone knows Pastor Wadd. But he holds down a corner in town here, advancing the cause of righteousness as much as he can. His whole specialty, what he does in counseling everyday, is battling sexual addiction. And since sex itself is like the gateway drug leading to addiction, he's interested in getting rid of it right at the root. At the very least, he wants to decrease the incidence of sex in society.

Like I was saying last week, right now he's on a push to outlaw beds, or get people to give them up voluntarily. That'd be good too. I'm involved in it only in the mildest way, certainly not in a leadership way (thank goodness; too many meetings), but at the grunt level, writing blog posts like this, raising people's awareness. Some of the others agitate on street corners, put up posters, etc. You might've seen one of them on the news: "GOD HATES BEDS."

As for myself, I actually haven't gone so far as to get rid of my bed. In fact, I've got an extra bed in my closet now, since one of the other guys from church wanted to get rid of his and asked me to hold it in case he changes his mind. I had to take the doors off the closet to get it in. It's all sticking out about halfway, and I've got the sliding closet doors laying on top of it. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to get the closet open, that's how big it is. The things I do for friends...

Whatever differences we may have, I definitely agree with Pastor that there's a clear connection between how many beds there are and how much sex people are having. But I don't agree (and I'm not so sure he's saying this) that people are going to quit having sex if they haven't got a bed. Since there will still be plenty of showers, couches, kitchen tables, etc. From the things I've heard, standing up is another way to do it. Which is at the root of the old joke about why Baptists don't have sex standing up, because it might lead to dancing.

Still, if you think it's worth doing, you have to start somewhere. Start with the most obvious culprit, the bed, then work your way down to showers, couches, and tables. And where you go from there is anyone's guess, probably the back seats of cars. Anything halfway comfortable could be a culprit, which is why the old monks always went with hair shirts and slept on slabs of stone.

You can see how a guy like Pastor could go on about this for so long. The possibilities are endless. As to where people are going to sleep if we get rid of beds, his opinion is that's their problem. They may experience some discomfort, but think of the rich payoff, better morals.

Anyway, if he can't get people to give up their beds voluntarily, like I said, he'd like to see some action on it from the government to make beds illegal. How that's ever going to happen -- with the powerful bed lobby -- is anyone's guess. Since "Politics makes strange bedfellows," everything's against us from the get go.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Social Archaeology Fantasy

The great ones are always thinking, always looking ahead. The average to mediocre ones are content to sit and spin their wheels, perpetually mired in the mud of the present moment. Fortunately, I consider myself among the great ones, always on the move, always seeing tomorrow as better than today, and always striving toward a bright future.

In a way, I guess, it comes down to your personality. If you're in a shell, if you're huddled in the corner somewhere, if you live in the fetal position, of course you're not going to have much on the ball when it comes to greatness. To be among the great ones, the ones living for the ages, you need to have the kind of personality that believes it can be done. You'll face every day with an attitude that doesn't quit, that doesn't give up, that doesn't settle for second best.

And it's a lesson that does you good in every aspect of your life, not just in the realm that I'm thinking of tonight -- blogging -- the output that a person is responsible for on a blog like this.

You know, the truth is I'm not really that smart a person. There's not a day goes by that I'm not reminded that I don't know much of anything about much of anything. Math, science, statistics, anatomy, I don't know any of it. When it comes to anatomy, just as an example, I'm convinced that the body is made up of pipe cleaners and some kind of skin paste. And as to science in general, most of my personal facts are determined by what religious leaders tell me to believe. Which allows for some very quirky things, such as the lives and habitat of aborigines actually being older than the Earth itself. No, smartness isn't everything; I've got an attitude, and that puts me ahead of everyone else.

So when it comes to the blog ... you've got the idea, it's clearly superior.

My social archaeology fantasy -- which is what I wanted to write about tonight -- is this, that someday, like a thousand years from now when I'm dead and gone, some young social archaeologist will discover my blog (or be assigned it by her academic adviser) and go nuts over it as she digs in and finds out how much great stuff is here. Day after day!

Of course I'm proud. And it's not that I've got so many compliments from my readers. In fact, for the most part, most of my readers can't be bothered to leave a comment, even though every great writer craves positive feedback. I understand this because I don't leave comments at other people's blog either. My pride comes out of my own assessment, since I can clearly see that what I do has the highest quality. It's kind of funny. When I simply have an idea, I know whether it will be good or bad, and thankfully none of them is ever bad.

If I ever have any criticism of myself, it's mostly such things as I don't want it to be so good that it discourages others from even trying. I believe that's a constant danger, and, frankly, that's one of the main reasons I limit my blog posts to basically one a day. Because I could literally bury everyone and leave them in the dust if I brought out the big guns and wrote everything on my mind. And it runs quite a gamut, being insightful, thought-provoking, and philosophical, all the way up to hilarious if, say, I'm in a humorous mood. Some of my Pink Professor posts have shown my softer side, so I've got the whole package. And I'm not saying that with the sexual connotation that also would've been accurate.

OK, anyway, the future's out there. A year from now, ten years from now, or, in the case of my social archaeologist, a thousand years from now. By then I'm dead and gone, completely retired. And yet Google blogs are still going strong. And they've kept available all the archives, with social archaeologists combing the whole thing for signs of excellence in the past.

My own social archaeologist -- she finds this blog, and, guess what, she loves it! She's reading along and she becomes breathless. Isn't that great? She starts thrilling to the intricacies there and how it's all tied together, the many nuances, the moods that I've displayed, and the variances and the things that are constant. It's certainly going to be a delight for that person, and I just wish I could be there to see the look on her face. And, who knows, maybe she'll fall in love with me so much that she hires a medium, they come out to where I used to live, and they conjure up my spirit, which appears and does something appropriate.

What I've said about myself and this blog is something you also can aspire to! If you haven't got the confidence, yet the talent is there, get some confidence! Don't let anyone get you down. Don't let the lack of positive comments discourage you. And please don't be discouraged by anything I write here, in the sense that it's something you don't think you can compete against. The truth is, We're not competing. We're just trying to do our best -- and with a little confidence, anything I do, you could probably come close to a rough approximation of the same thing, assuming you work really hard and refuse to let jealousy get the best of you.

Friends, 1000 years from now is going to come. Wouldn't you love to be there to hear what they have to say about you? Well, you can't do that, at least with our current idiotic medical system, where it's every man for himself and dog-eat-dog. But you can work really hard right now and do your best, because someday they're going to look back ... and what they'll discover then depends on what you do now.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Surreal Experiences At The Hospital

I had some delightful times at the hospital today. I was there to visit a friend and thought I might be staying all night. (And, no, don't panic it wasn't the Pink Professor. I haven't worn him out yet to the point that he's needed medical attention. Remember, he's not allowing me to kiss and tell, so I won't be saying more about that at this time. Except that he's completely fine and expected to pull through anything I engage him in.) This was a different friend.

Right off the bat I know what you're thinking, what a generous and loving spirit I must be to go to the hospital to spend a night in the room of a friend. Thank you, it's all true. But something happened before I could complete this good deed: They dismissed him.

But what I wanted to write about were the delightful times I spent in the hospital, just walking through the lobby, being in the elevators, etc.

It was truly a surreal feeling to me to be standing there (at times) with the whole crowd of strangers going every which way around and past me. I felt simultaneously the sensation of being the center of everything as well as the person no one noticed. The fact that people were going at many angles past me in this fairly large lobby added to the sensation.

Going in and going back out it was about the same. I had a big old suitcase and a briefcase as well. I was wondering if anyone felt the least bit suspicious that a guy was walking in there with his wardrobe like that, but with patients checking in they're probably used to it.

I'm hardly ever out in public with a suitcase, and certainly not that conspicuously. Usually when I pack a suitcase, it goes from the car to a motel and no one notices. But in this case there I was, maybe looking something like an orphan looking up at the big buildings, I don't know. I definitely got this feeling of what you'd look like in a movie in a situation like that. The lyrics "All the lonely people" came to me.

The suitcase I had jam packed too. So it must've been 80 pounds or something. And this after I bowled eight games the other day, doing some damage to my hand which already has some arthritis. I sat the suitcase down while waiting for an elevator and looked at my hand, which was beet red.

Then, speaking of the elevator, I got on and I was immediately surrounded by seven young women, all in white lab coats. Me, this average looking guy, with a big suitcase and a briefcase, in an average sweatshirt, and all these white lab coats. I thought about saying, "If worse came to worse, would any of you be able to save my life?" But I kept it to myself, since I looked suspicious enough.

When I was getting ready to go for the day, I felt the same thing. I actually took my suitcase and briefcase down to the lobby and made my way to the parking garage, then went back up to his room. The sensation was still there when I walked through the place without the cases. It was a fascinating feeling!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm Right Next To Joan Rivers

This is from the list of people some guy follows. I think a list like this is sequential, since he had just followed me and I'm listed the second from the top.

That's wild. In the random happenstances of Tweeter, he followed me, then Joan Rivers!

She's in good company.

For A Good Time, Call

Let me say right at the start that I've never called anyone for "a good time." I'm way too demur and respectable for that, plus I have a built in system of phobias that, while they may have limited my carnal forays, have kept me at least healthy enough that it doesn't burn when I pee.

But just because I haven't called anyone doesn't mean I haven't noticed the offers. Meaning, since I haven't called, I've never really known what happens when someone does call. It's always been something to wonder about!

In the last week, I've seen two separate "For a good time, call" notices in public places. A couple of things have been notable about these. The phone numbers, you could probably make out if you went over and studied them very carefully, like with FBI help, but they were indistinct just in glancing at them. If I'm writing my number on walls -- just me -- I'm going to make sure they're not calling the wrong number. And the other thing, there's no date, no cutoff time to the offer, it's just open ended.

This is the most important thing of the two, since you'd just take down the number as it appears, depending how desperate you are for a good time, and try the possibilities. Or ignore it all together. But what if the number is perfectly clear, yet there's no date? Let's say he or she wrote it seven or eight years ago. By now, maybe the number's no good; people switch numbers fast today. I might be calling "Rochelle" and get Maude. Or "Darrin" and get Sarge. Or, more importantly from their side, they might've grown up and gotten married in the last few years. That'd be no good.

"Uhh, hi, Rochelle, this is Ted. You don't know me but ... I got your number off a wall downtown, about having a good time ... And I'm kind of new in town, and I can't keep up with my libido; it's flaring up again; and---" "Damn! Is my number still there? I'm sorry, I can't help you, I'm changing my grandson's diaper."

Depending on how many calls these people get -- and there's no drop down tag to show the interest level -- it might get pretty bad, meaning you'd have the change the number ... and then they're calling someone else. To their credit, at least they don't usually put last names, so you can't very well track them down. Although it'd make a great hobby for someone, someone who likes "Cold Cases," to track these people to the ends of the earth and forever shame them for advertising "good times" on walls.

I was driving through the country, on a highway, and I came to a little town. I needed a bathroom and what I could find was an outhouse in the town park at the edge of town. I went in and there were some of these "For a good time" scrawls on the wall. How tempting that is for someone like me who won't even touch the door handle in a public toilet! Then there was another one that was even more compelling, something like this, "I come through here every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ..."

If this were a movie, of course I would've looked at my watch and it would've been his time. He would've come stalking in like a grandfather clock, ponderous and pendulous. Fortunately, it wasn't. Still, even for that guy, it'd be good to put a date, in case things change; no one wants to be waiting for him if he doesn't show. But let's say he does show but he keeps circling the block waiting for you to leave. He has no clue you're waiting for him. You don't know what kind of truck he has, he doesn't know you ... it's a mess.

In my opinion, it'd be best just to put a Post It note. It's obviously temporary. It's obviously recent. If you're really that horny, it's going to pass. And you're more likely to get actual calls, if that's really what you want.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breakfast With The Pink Professor

I had a special treat this morning, going out to breakfast with my dear friend, the Pink Professor.

We met on the street and greeted each other like two old slippers, our normal thing. It's all quite buddy buddy, no real distance at this point, as you can well imagine. When you're completely sympatico, you just do whatever, a hug, an elbow bump, nose rubbing, anything you want. It's all the same.

The key thing is the soul connection, and that's definitely there. You look at a thousand girls or guys and none of them are the one, although, of course, at a basic level, if you were on a desert island, they'd do. I see a bunch of people and immediately think, Could we have something? And the answer is nearly 100% of the time, No.

Even seeing two people out together -- obviously sympatico -- doesn't always raise any desire in me, since there's always something that seems off. It's like looking for your double; you always figure one's out there somewhere, only you never seem to meet.

But in the Pink Professor, I found exactly what I was looking for!

I'm not at liberty to say his actual name. He serves as the Pink Professor figure at one of the local bikers bars, a beautiful softening presence (spirit) for the erstwhile roughnecks who hang out there. He gives that special flavor that any assembly needs, and also smooths the way for newbies, families, and other non-stereotypical guests. I know because I was one! Someone could've taken a pool cue to me, but the Pink Professor was there to welcome me.

It started out like that ... and it's blossomed in the last couple months into something very special, to the point that we shuffle around his place or my place in our bathrobes, enjoying each other's company, naturally with the curtains drawn. We don't even have to talk, that's how close we are. He might sweep hand through the air, as if to say, "We've got the whole place to ourselves." Then I might point at the door, as if to say, "We're all here!" Then he might motion to the couch, as if to say, "The couch looks like a comfortable sofa." And I nod, as if in agreement.

What I said above, being a couple old slippers is my favorite-most image to describe this relationship. If there's ever a ceremony, I'd love to see a couple miniature bronzed slippers -- small, of course -- on top of the cake. I might try to get the "Cake Boss" guy on TV to make one, since he might come up with some way to animate the whole cake -- plywood, PCP pipes, styrofoam, and cake -- making for a real celebration.

Anyway, we met today downtown to have breakfast at some little place that's cool. You go there and you immediately feel you're going to be comfortable. You look over and some guy's reading a newspaper by the window. That's cool. Or two women will be sitting in the corner, lost in each other's eyes. To me, that's cool. Who am I to judge?

We ordered. And being the Pink Professor and his dear friend-- who am also something of a guy with a Pink Professor mindset -- we were courteous and caring for the waitress to the max. What we give at the bikers bar, it's our strict ethic to give everywhere else. It comes natural to us, to be total nice guys, caring for everyone.

Our food came and we ate it. We both like the same kinds of food, eggs, bacon, muffins, coffee, so that's remarkable.

We kept the small talk flowing freely, and the other kind of small talk we're known for, i.e., body language. I look over at him and sigh, as if to say, "Why can't it always be like this?" And he pats my hand, as if to say, "This is just the beginning. We're still relatively young, 60ish or under." I put my hand up and drop it back to the table, as if to say, "I don't mind aging, just so I have someone to spend the years with." And he nods, as if to say, "You got it. You got it ... and I got it too!"

What a beautiful time we both had at breakfast. We made other plans for later. Then a quick embrace and he needed to get to work, his professorial duties. I went home, very happy, stars in my eyes and my belly nicely full.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Delaying Bed Deliveries Is Godly

Church was good today.

Pastor Wadd made a lot of great points, always a blessing. He was up to Part 38 or 39 of his series on "The Lusts of the Flesh," so we're making steady progress on that.

He's always trying to make us think, to keep us on our spiritual toes about the various temptations and how we can avoid them. Of course he gets no complaints from me, because I know it's all so true. Like in a fight, your rights end where my nose begins, so with the lusts of the flesh, our private parts are strictly off limits. It's best not to even go there, let alone linger once you inevitably do.

We have a guy in church -- a deacon no less -- who sells beds for a living. This is a borderline acceptable occupation, a step up from running a tavern but still pretty bad. Naturally Pastor is very interested in any business like that that caters to fornicators, since it'd be better if he didn't do it. But everyone has to make a living, and all of us are compromised by the world to a certain extent anyway, so no one can really completely judge.

In open sharing today, Pastor called on Deacon Spencer and asked him how many beds he sold this week? "14," he said. "And how many of those have you delayed delivery on?" "All of them. And I still have six that haven't been delivered from last week."

That's very good! You have an order on a Thursday, no one sends in orders on a Friday, then there's the weekend. If it's a holiday weekend, you can't do it on Monday, and Tuesday's a catchup day, meaning the earlier you can order it is Wednesday or Thursday. Then you're up against Friday and the weekend again, so you can legitimately put it off for two or three weeks or maybe a month.

Or there's always "snowy roads" wherever the factory is -- it could be anywhere. Or something wrong with the delivery truck.

The longer you can delay delivery, the teaching goes, the more fornication you prevent. But of course you don't want to delay it so long that the customer wants his money back. Or simply moves into a motel and all hope is lost.

Before anyone jumps my bones on this subject, yes, I do sleep in a bed, which I bought once upon a time. Whether the delivery was delayed way back when, I don't remember. They might've sent it right over, since I looked like an honest person and didn't have an ulterior motive.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Discovered A Planted Cellphone!

He's at it again ...

It's probably the same guy who planted a secret camera last month, training it on me to get whatever useful information there might be. But if so, he's batting a big fat 0 if his plan is not to get caught, assuming there aren't surveillance devices -- bugs -- around the house that I haven't found yet.

This one was very blatant indeed, an actual cellphone right around the corner on the edge of my desk. I'm just sitting here daydreaming and I see it poking around the edge, and I'm like, "What the---!"

I immediately reached over and got it and it was a live line. The guy had dialed his number, set the phone on the desk, then left my room, knowing I'd be back soon. Apparently he thinks I do a lot of talking out loud when I'm by myself, because he wasn't trying to engage me in conversation.

And, yes, I actually do some talking out loud when I'm by myself -- so this is someone who knows me well enough to know that. In this case, fortunately, I didn't say anything; I was in a wistful, quiet mood for a change. And certainly I wasn't likely to say anything incriminating anyway, mostly because I keep most of that to myself, being by nature reticent to say anything like that without first sweeping the place.

Anyway, what would it be? I haven't done anything especially bad. Of course it depends on who you talk to whether something's bad or not. I generally lead a quiet, respectable life. No one can prove anything insofar as I know. I'm always careful that I'm not being followed, and I don't always take the same route. That's a key thing right there, keep your movements unpredictable. Plus, for the most part I've admitted it -- haven't I? That I'm in a relationship? You want to know more about it? I'll shout it to the world! There!

But for someone out there, apparently it's not enough what I say in public. This slimy little worm's looking for the real goods, leading him to desperate means, any stratagem, hidden cameras and now a hidden cellphone.

I'm looking the phone over right now. I'll be checking it for identifying numbers, etc. It looks like he's got some kind of nail container faceplate on it -- that's good! Yes, it even rattles, good attention to detail. The faceplate says it's the "Bulldog Hardware" brand of wire nails, obviously a fake name. And maybe he's even trying to communicate something to me by using that name, showing how much he's already got on me. But honestly, how would he know this? That the school I went to in 9th grade had the Bulldog as their mascot? No one would know that! Would they?

It's a small phone lengthwise, but it's thicker than most phones. Again, he's trying to keep it well disguised, since most people would be looking for a phone that's thinner than this. I'm only lucky -- very lucky -- that I wasn't fooled.

I'd like to check it for identifying numbers -- hmm, I can't find the buttons. The faceplate seems to be permanently affixed. Must be a combination lock. Well, OK, I can't get it, but one thing's for sure: I've got possession of the d----d thing now and I'll be dunking it in water to completely kill it!

Like I said, this is someone who knows me, who knows my comings and goings, and who probably reads this blog. So let me offer him a message and a little friendly advice. You think you're good, but once again I caught you! My advice is to stay away from me and my family, and quit trying to get dirt on me. I'm a grown man. I can see whomever I choose. I'll be watching for you! Take it or leave it...

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Pink Professor -- The Rules Of Love

Who needs rules? I don't need no stinking rules, really. I follow rules even when there aren't any. The law's written on my heart.

It breaks my heart to have bank attendants and grocery store people question my integrity. It happened at the bank just today, needing to see my ID. They could leave me in charge of the entire bank and their money would still be there when they got back.

It's the only way to live, honestly and with integrity. And that's the way the Pink Professor and I want our relationship to go. We don't just want it to go that way; it will go that way.

Still, just for the sake of playfulness, itself a fun part of any relationship, it's fun to kick around a few rules of the road were we to need rules. Most of these we discussed ... it's sort of silly ... and a few of them are just commonsense things I'm throwing in for entertainment value only.

-- Don't bemoan your birthday. Birthdays are to celebrate. Getting old is great, the older the better. If I'm not here tomorrow, carry on without me, dammit! You're plenty strong! LOL.

-- Have mature respect for each other. We're both old enough to know better. Your heart's your heart and I'm not going to break it.

-- Keep the faith and always trust. If I'm not there, it's only because I'm not there; don't read anything into it. There's plenty of people who need me, the bikers, your blog readers, etc. (The Pink Professor is the Pink Professor-figure at a local bikers bar, and of course I write this blog for the edification and guidance of my worldwide readership. I even had a visitor from Latvia the other day, and I don't want any Latvians getting the wrong information.)

-- Facial hair. There's no rule about facial hair, but neither of us are fans. In general, we're already hygiene freaks, germ-conscious, occasionally with an ear itch, fastidious about our bathroom habits. If there's toothbrushes sharing space, they should be flipped in relation to each other until our germs are compatible. Sharing a comb is OK. I wear the same pants multiple days in a row, no big deal.

-- Old memories. They're great to bring up, with the relevant context. We've both got an extensive past.

-- Take care of yourself. Keep the spirit alive. Keep it spiritual. Enjoy each moment. Be kind to bikers and biker bar newbies. Treasure each story.

-- No kissing and telling. What happens at Chez Pink stays at Chez Pink.

-- Act on your intuitions. Chances are you'll be right. There's a Johnny Mathis song in there somewhere.

-- Be two, be one. Share, don't share. Respect distance, respect closeness.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Pink Professor -- Someone's In Love

I haven't said much about the Pink Professor and me, for various reasons. I'm a private person by nature, plus it seems a little unconventional even for me.

The last time I said anything was when I said he was one old slipper and I was the other. That's still true, maybe more so, since we've spent even more time together, shuffling along.

I like waking up and shuffling in the kitchen in my old slippers, making a cup of Lady Grey. I picture myself from the side, looking like a person over comfortable in her flannel nightie, like in an Elvis movie where things have gone too far, heading for the kitchen. Except I'm not a her.

There's a kind of strange silence in life you can appreciate if you take time making tea, then throw away the wrapping in a deliberate way. Japanese mystics know what I'm talking about; I guess they would. Shuffling along in slippers like that is cool, especially when you're shuffling from someone with the intention of returning.

I've never written about true love ... so it's going to be, I'm going to be cagey. I don't want people flipping placards to say how I did ... those moments are -- the less said the better. This isn't going well!

Valentine's Day is a month away! But I'm not so materialistic as to expect anything. I was at the store looking at the stuff, and it's immediately junk when it's over. I don't need that kind of crap, but still, it's something to look forward to, to step out and slip around town arm in arm. Or over to the bikers bar.

The guy -- I'm still not mentioning his real name -- goes by the Pink Professor. And being professorial, he's smart as a whip. He's fully employed. And of course he has his informal job at the bikers bar, a kind of mascot (but more), facilitating the softness the roughnecks appreciate. He smooths the way for newbies, couples, and families who may enter. And he listens to the griefs of the wait staff. He knows everyone's name and their mothers' too.

We're as close as two peas can be. We've still got the body language thing down, and we're sharing all kinds of humor and winks. A lot of this stuff is what love should be. I'm a prankster with the dirty socks but I'm also playful and very thoughtful. I believe I had a normal childhood.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Total Trash Talking

(The idea for this post came to me before the recent call for civility that resulted after the Arizona congresswoman was shot. I thought about toning it down -- but really it's not that bad. And anyway, the Republicans are already back trash talking, so the rest of us are already playing catch up.)

Really all I wanted to say was that we need more trash talking. Not necessarily aimed at me, since I wouldn't care for it, but in the contexts where it's most entertaining. Like in sports. And a few other places.

Even now, once in a while I hear someone did some trash talking in sports. And, I'll confess, I don't really pay much attention. So if there's a lot more trash talking than I know about, I'll accept that. But there's been trash talking in sports before that even I've heard about.

It happens like this. There's a big game Sunday, and a player from the opposing team says something inflammatory, and now it's in the paper and the other team has it posted in their locker room. And now they're very upset, and they've vowed to get revenge against him. Maybe he insulted the coach, the quarterback, or the cheerleaders. And certain things you can't say, and certain things you can't let go once you've heard them.

We used to go to professional wrestling matches. By the way, I'm still looking for some authoritative stats from those days, but it looks like they didn't keep good records. For example, some of the world championships I witnessed personally, it looks like no one wrote them down. How that can be, I don't know. But anyway, I'm talking about trash talking, and they were very good at that. Extremely good, almost to the point that they didn't do much else. A wrestler would take the ring, get the microphone, then taunt someone backstage. And it was effective, too, because invariably he showed up for a terrific fight.

Why we have to suffer so much Mr. Nice Guy these days, it's boring. I love an inadvertent comment, then a grudge match. Because what's said can't be unsaid, and forgiveness is strictly out!

Speaking of forgiveness, of course that's the realm of religion. And you don't think of religion folks to be into trash talking, but once in a while they are. Any religious group I read about, I go for their "Statement of Beliefs." I did it just today. Some of the fringe groups, the independent fundamentalists, they do some trash talking in their statement of beliefs. You can tell they're combating everyone else who believes differently. Like with the devil. They put right in their statement, "We believe in a personal devil," etc., like that's really a statement that needs to be made by religious folk. Face it, if you put a positive statement about a devil in your statement of beliefs, you're claiming him as one of your own! LOL. But as long as there's modernists out there who know the devil's a bunch of hooey, there'll be a place for trash talking.

I'm very interested in the latest (idiotic) prediction of the "Rapture," which is now set for May 21, 2011, not too far off. The perpetrator of this latest prediction is the already-failed prophet/preacher Harold Camping, who also made a dated prediction for the '90s. Some people never learn! What precisely he's going to say on May 22 when this prediction fails, and of course it will, is anyone's guess. Maybe he'll say, "Oh, did I say 2011? I meant 2012." Or 2023, by which time he'd probably be dead of natural causes. Because I think he's fairly old.

I used to listen to this old quack on the radio ... in the '80s. The other day I read his Wikipedia page, and it heartened me to see he modified some of his hardcore Calvinist beliefs of those days. I'm surprised I hadn't heard about it until just the other day. But he was part of some denomination that had those beliefs, and, with a break from that, apparently he latched on to some other kind of "truth." Overall, though, I have to conclude he was a flake in those days and he's still a flake today. His prediction will fail, guaranteed. Then what?

But still, remember I want more trash talking. And making crazy predictions and sticking with them is the trashiest trash talking religion has to offer. Because you're putting it in everyone's face and, if they're really dumb, they might think you know what you're talking about. It takes a tiny bit of skill (not much really) to see there's always something arbitrary about the way they correlate verses and dates. Just insisting on literal interpretations for this stuff is itself an arbitrary, culturally-bound hermeneutic.

You do have to admire the dedication, though, to just dive in and be willing to be a public fool in only five short months. And I admire the trash talking, especially if the guy's willing to accept our trash talking in return. It's only five short months!

Politically, of course politically there's lots of trash talking. The Republicans are better at it than the Democrats. One thing, they don't really care about the truth, so they can say any and every little idiotic fantasy on their minds (cf. Limbaugh, Rep. Virginia Foxx, etc.). The Democrats have a tougher time, since they have some ethics about sticking to the facts. I also like the facts -- like what I said about pro wrestling records -- but I also want that in-your-face chewing out, with the Democrats able to chew with the best of them. Whether it'll ever happen, I've got my doubts.

I'm On A Perfectionists' List

I love it. This is one that really made me think. I suddenly found myself on a perfectionists' list on Twitter.

It's fairly appropriate, although I don't know what guidelines were used to get me on it. And I might be kicked off at any time, since my inclusion may have been a mistake.

I'd like to think someone out there really saw something in me and said, "This guy." But I don't know. I know I'm not paying that much attention to everyone else. So the chances of someone paying that much attention to me might be too much to expect.

On the other hand, who wants anyone paying that close of attention to you? With all the stalkers and political assassins on every horizon. This might come as a surprise to everyone, but it seems like I've had death threats before. I say it "seems like" it, because my memory isn't photographic ... but I seem to remember at least one or two in the past. Everyone says they've had death threats, but I'm one of the actual people who seems to actually remember one or two. Why? I don't want to reopen any old wounds, but it had to do with things I used to write on the internet. Like now, but I don't truly get under anyone's skin now.

Anyway, back to being a perfectionist. If I really am a perfectionist type, it's not something I'm really able to live up to. I have a crummy car. I had to pry the door open today thanks to ice, and it didn't bother me that much. My garage is tumbling over from boxes. But in certain areas of my life, definitely, it's what I strive for.

Of all the lists I've been on, this is the one I like the best. I hope I can stay on and not get kicked off right away.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What I Think Is An Acorn

I woke up thinking today. And what I was thinking was that everything I think is an acorn that could become an oak tree.

Most of what I think, honestly, never becomes an oak tree. Being acorns, they gather on the ground and rot, I guess. I'd like to say they wither on the vine, but that's a whole different plant.

Acorns, though, really don't gather on the ground and rot. I mean, they potentially could ... if they fell on some really poor ground. But if they fell on really poor ground, there wouldn't have been an oak tree there in the first place.

I visited at a place in town a few times over the summer, and I saw a couple of oak trees in this guy's yard, plus I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of acorns. He explained to me the pattern of what was going on. And it was an eye opener. There's an oak tree, and there's all these acorns it's dropping. They're on the ground. And a bunch of them start sprouting up.

So now you've got literally hundreds of little trees all around. But at this point they're a total nuisance. Because the property owner only wants the one parent tree, and not to have it surrounded by hundreds of little trees. So he was mowing them. But you know what happened? They grow again. They get mowed again. And they grow again, and again, and again. You can pull one up and see it's been mowed five or six times and yet it's sprouted over and over.

That's a picture of my thoughts. See? You've got me in the center. Then I'm thinking my thoughts, and they're falling everywhere. Some of them I pick up -- this is where the figure breaks down. I pick them up and do things with them, like write them down or act on them in some way. At this point they have nothing to do with acorns and oaks. But most of them lay scattered all around and ignored. Again, the figure breaks down, because I go about my business unperturbed by anything to do with acorns and oaks.

The inspiring part about it -- and remember, even though I'm the parent tree in the center, that doesn't mean I'm going to give way for another tree -- is that occasionally a thought of mine will be like an acorn that falls from an oak. Then, somehow, maybe it's carried by a mental squirrel far away from its parent, and it becomes an inspiration for someone else. It's conceivable. The squirrel plants it, it sprouts up, becomes an oak, the passage of time is greatly accelerated, being nothing like the slowness of the growth of an actual oak, and it bears fruit, although there's technically no oak fruit except more acorns, and everyone's blessed.

Meanwhile, here I am, the parent tree, getting up in the morning, thinking about the fruit I cast off, and hoping it makes good sense to you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Should WWII Soldiers Have Had Sex?

Yesterday, we looked at the very factual question of "Did World War II Soldiers Have Sex?" My conclusion, as I seem to recall, was an unqualified "Yes." First, it was a yes or no question. And, second, out of millions of soldiers, it would only take two of them to exclude an absolute "No" answer.

Looked at from that perspective, it seems to me it'd be hard to find any war in history of any length in which some soldier somewhere wasn't having sex. And of course the more folks involved -- a world war by definition involves quite a few people -- the more likely it'd be that they'd engage themselves in the so-called carnal pleasures.

But a more nuanced question we could ask, however moot it may be at this point, would be, Should they have had sex? Is there anything inherent in the nature of war that sex should have been off limits? What about morale? Troop cohesion? The health of troops? Alertness? These are all important questions, but I'm going to limit myself only to what occurs to me in the next few minutes. Because I have other things to do also of importance, like cleaning my room and taking it easy on a Sunday afternoon.

I've been fairly busy recently, the details of which I don't want to get into. Plus, for the last three or four days I've had a serious cold, as in the '100 Year Cold," sore throat, tired, sweating, tortured dreams, runny nose, etc. So it's clear that I could use a day off as much as anyone. It's been like a war, probably a lot like World War II, and, no, I haven't had sex, at least nothing to speak of...

Still, I'd like to give this question some effort to answer it. Because, frankly, I'm not 100% sure they should have had sex, at least to the extent that it mattered. If it didn't matter, then I guess I have no great concern. But if it mattered -- like if it cost additional lives or postponed Victory even one more day -- then it was a questionable activity.

The documentary I saw on the Military History channel indicated that a lot of the GIs weren't entirely ready for sex, being inexperienced and fresh off the farm. So the officials at the higher echelons had to waste time (my judgment) producing films for them and waste further resources instructing them about the dangers of sex. Imagine how much more of a lean, mean fighting machine we might have had if they would have just kept themselves pure.

And anyone who knows me knows I'm not a purity freak. I firmly believe nature has its way and that we shouldn't mess around with it. But we're not blind to our nature. Part of our nature is understanding and the ability to make choices. If we have the choice to stay in the barracks and listen to records or go to town and sweet talk a mademoiselle, knowing where that will lead, we can choose the good. Or, to make allowance, we can choose to stay in the barracks, listen to records, and spend a few extra minutes in the bathroom.

A key thing to the sex drive, I believe most of us know, is the release that goes along with it. And the tiredness that follows. Some people call that the afterglow phase -- and I confess I've called it that more than once -- but I prefer to call it a potentially deadly mental, physical, and spiritual haze. There's no greater lethargy, especially if we exclude the tiredness we always get right after Thanksgiving meals. In the afterglow phase, what if Hitler showed up at the door? You're so punch drunk, of course you'd surrender.

Now, if the troops were, you know, way back away from danger, like on furlough in Switzerland, or just being deployed in Kansas or somewhere, then it wouldn't be so bad. Show them the film, turn them loose, give them a condom and a couple bucks, and let nature take its course. If they get VD at that point, you've got time to quarantine them and hope whatever primitive medicine plasters they stuck it in back in the '40s would help. Hitler's still at a safe distance.

My answer, then, on whether they should've had sex, is an unqualified "It depends," however I would qualify it by saying, more or less, I believe they shouldn't have had, so it's more or less a "No." If they had to have it -- if the circumstances were spelled out to me in such a way that I could see the positive benefits of having had sex, then I would likely have to answer it as a grudging "Yes."

In conclusion, someone might say, "What does this have to do with our current wars, Iraq and Afghanistan?" I don't hear much about Iraq anymore, so I guess it's OK for our soldiers to have sex now. But Afghanistan? We've still got a ways to go toward ultimate Victory over there, so I would ask our soldiers not to have sex.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Did World War II Soldiers Have Sex?

The short answer is, "Yes, often and with all the lust they could muster."

I saw an interesting show on the Military History channel the other day. It featured film from WWII in color, and the show's name was something like "WWII In Color." It was an interesting survey of the lives of soldiers stationed at remote place around the world and how they got along. Because they weren't just fighting, they had lots of other things going on, like eating, getting mail, watching movies, listening to records, and, mostly interestingly, having sex.

A voice over of some guy said something like, "I see the old WWII vets, and they're dying at a rate of 1,000 a day, and it's hard to believe these guys were having sex." But of course, back then they were just like anyone else who's 60-some years younger, meaning they weren't old yet. So of course they were having sex ... or at least thinking about it ... lusting in their hearts for some of those exotic looking ladies from other countries. (I know there were guys lusting in their hearts for other guys as well, but they didn't mention them.)

They had some good color film of random GIs cavorting around the various towns with local girls. Some of them no doubt had a very happy ending, but, alas, the camera could only go so far.

Some of them didn't have a happy ending. In the sense that they got an STD, and they came home with I-don't-know-what in its place. A big plaster pack holding on medicine maybe. Which is what I'd be thinking of constantly if I were a soldier. To address this issue, since many of the soldiers were just like me at that age, basically naive about a lot of things, they had a general who made hygiene films explaining all about VD and condoms.

Then they were off, and the color film indicated that ... many were busily engaged in making love, not just war.

Next they said, not everyone was literally cavorting around having sex with villagers. Many were just fantasizing about pin-up beauties and so forth. Betty Grable, her back to the camera, looking over her shoulder, was the stuff of fantasies for a lot of the guys.

The eye is immediately drawn to the butt. It's interesting that no matter which angle you look at it from, it seems to follow you around the room. It's very compact and nice. So anyone can well imagine this picture saw plenty of action. Like Iwo Jima, the flagpole went up, but unlike Iwo Jima, it inevitably came down as well.

Now, how many WWII vets have I known in my life? A lot, a ton, a bunch. And a few of them told me of their adventures, being almost killed by friendly fire, helping build the bridge at Remagen, etc. But not one of them ever told me of their sexcapades, which is to be expected ... since I wouldn't have mentioned them either if I were them. I'm going to partially take that back -- by God -- because I do remember a WWII vet telling me one time about going to see "whores," the word he used. I can't remember why he was telling me, but he was quite frank about it. Unfortunately, I didn't ask for details.

My own uncles were in WWII. And they never said anything about it. Back then it never occurred to me what was going on. I figured they were fighting and that was it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm Also A Humanitarian

I saw something yesterday that really caught my attention, that a guy who writes for Huffington Post identifies himself as a humanitarian.

That gets me to thinking, hey, I'm a humanitarian, too! And just beyond humanity being my particular species, since that would be true of everyone. I'm a humanitarian in a touchy, feely, sympathetic way. I've been walking the walk, but I haven't been talking the talk, mostly because it never occurred to me.

I owe a lot of my humanitarianism, of course, to my family, since they're the ones who brought me up in such a good, wholesome way. We had plenty of opportunities over the years to think about the lives of others and how they related to us. And with that, the opportunities led to all sorts of encounters, sharing sympathy, empathy, a smile, other emotions, and goodwill with others.

We weren't a spotless family, by any means. We had our problems and prejudices like everyone else. And pride as well. So I heard plenty of nasty comments about people, just the kinds of things that might veer me off the right path and not toward the path of humanitarianism that I found and kept.\

Let's think about racial matters. The town here didn't have any black folk, not a one, so there weren't all that many chances for dealings with them. And people were looser with their lips back then on some of the epithets, like Mark Twain, not really meaning anything terrible by it. But I didn't hate any of them. Then for a week many years ago, we had a couple of black kids who came to stay at our place. I guess they were troubled youth, foster kids, having troubles at home. We got along with them fine. But I remember a fight they had, a big fight, and one of them called the other the N word. That blew our minds. It was unforgettable. (One other thing about these black kids. It was reported at the time that the town had an ordinance that a black person couldn't be in the town overnight, probably going back to underground railroad days.)

I was always told, despite what words we may have heard and what prejudice may have been in the air, to treat them just like anyone else, words to the effect that we're all the same, etc. So that's what I've pretty well gone by. Now I'm practically to the point where I don't even notice what color anyone is. And I actually like to notice, because to me they're some of the most beautiful people on earth, and that goes big time for Hispanics too. So, I hope I didn't say anything too politically correct. But when you're a humanitarian (like me), you have to be open about your feelings.

I saw a black guy at Walmart yesterday and I was staring at him a little too long. Because I'd seen him somewhere in the last couple days and couldn't remember where. And I wanted to be nice, because maybe we shared something in common. But he noticed me looking, didn't recognize me, and said 'Hello' in an uncomfortable way. I started thinking, That guy probably thinks I was looking at him like a racist would ... which I wasn't.

And remember, calling myself a humanitarian, I'm not bragging here, not at all. I didn't even realize I was a humanitarian till I saw the guy on Huffington Post. And that really impressed me! Seriously. I'm not bragging, but I go out of my way to be ultra nice to people. This may sound contradictory, but bear with me. I'm so ultra nice to a lot of people that I don't look at them or say a word or even acknowledge them there. Because I perceive that's exactly what they'd like, not to be bothered by an undiscerning humanitarian trying to stick his nose in their business.

So you might see me on the bus, let's say. And I noticed you get on and sit right across from me. But as far as you're concerned, my thoughts are a million miles away. But I've actually got my humanitarian feelers out, watching for any way that I might assist you, and trying to make it appear as casual as possible. And just like appearing to ignore you, as above, if you really need help, I might ignore you then, too, because I don't want to encroach on your independence in life. Sometimes it really takes something for me to stick my nose in. But when I do -- believe me -- you'll know you've been helped. Like Lone Ranger help, then I'll sneak out the back door and ride off to the next town on my pet horse Silver.

You might ask, am I a big humanitarian when it comes to charity? I have to confess, no I'm not. Or maybe I am, in the sense that I would give to charity if I thought it was on the up and up and actually doing any good. Because my opinion of most of it is that it's a scam. Like the "Sheriffs' Association" selling light bulbs for blind children. Give me a break. To me, it's possible that's where the people on the west side of town get their big money, by running charity scams and skimming off all the money. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd love to see the uncooked books! As for international charities, the little kids in villages on TV, I have my doubts about all that. Whether those organizations are really doing them any good. Again, I may be wrong, but that's an avenue my humanitarianism hasn't gone yet.

Closer to home, though, and excluding possible charity scams, I'm as good a humanitarian as you're likely to find. I'm even a humanitarian to animals, never wanting to tamper with their little habitats. And I take my dog out at regular times. Animals really have no better friend than me, except the ones I eat, like the bacon I had today. And even there, what's a pig got to live for anyway? I did him a favor.

Now that my eyes have been opened to this designation, this identification, I am happy to count myself among the number of humanitarians, like the guy on Huffington Post. I don't know how many other folks are legitimate humanitarians. Maybe it's me and that guy. It's likely, just to be realistic, that there's lots more out there who, possibly like me, haven't realized it. Are you a humanitarian? I'm happy to say I am.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Have I Not Served You Well?

I've been doing some downsizing. I got rid of a bunch of books and several bookcases a few weeks ago, and, starting yesterday, I've been taking my CDs from the cases, putting them in CD envelopes, and throwing away the cases.

This is radical stuff to me, being a collector for all these years. And when something radical happens, I hear a still small voice, "Have I not served you well? Has it really come to this, my old friend?" Which is true. Most of my possessions serve me well, except sometimes I'm serving them. Such as when I have to carry them a boxful at a time from one place to another, or I start thinking I have too many of something.

And on this stuff, CDs and books, records and things, I really figured I'd have the same (expanding) collection all my life, at least till it was time to go to a nursing home. Since obviously I'm never going to have a grandson like Grandma to take care of my stuff.

But then -- a mental bug gets the best of me, like in this case -- and I start downsizing. I'm getting a jump on spring cleaning! In this case, I started with the classical stuff, since I hardly ever listen to it. I took the CDs out of the cases, and in the case of something that doesn't have the track listing in the booklet, I had to break the case and cut a piece out of the back paper.

Having completed the classical, I got to thinking it seemed OK. I could live with it. So I started in with my more popular stuff. And it's been no problem, except it's time consuming. Still, it's going to save all kinds of space, which I noticed as the cases started piling up in a junk box. I've taken three or four boxes out to the recycling container.

And I used to take really good care of the cases, back when CDs were new, even replacing broken ones a time or two. And now they're garbage! A few were unopened, so I opened them just by scraping a knife across the front and taking off the plastic! Unheard of.

For a few artists, I'm not going to take the plunge, a few of my favorites in the collection. I'm just not ready for that quite yet.

Anyway, the still small voice. I hear this when I do something radical with my stuff. "Have I not served you well?" "Yes, you served me well in the years I was doing it that way. But the time for your service has regrettably come to an end. Had I known you were actually going to take it so hard, I would've given you at least two weeks notice. For whatever difference it would've made.

I'm also the guy who looks wistfully at a motel room for the last time. So clearly there's something wrong with me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

T Russia With Love

I was at church yesterday, and I thought it was a little odd that a teenager a couple rows from me had a T-shirt that said "RUSSIA."

That may be perfectly acceptable these days, but I was talking with someone, that if he had had that in the '50s they might be investigating him.

Or the '60s, since that's when we remember so well the phrase, "Love It or Leave It," meaning America, and "If you want to ____, why don't you move to Russia where you belong?"

Back then, the place was Reagan's "Evil Empire" even if it didn't have the label yet. We were so afraid of the Russians that we thought about sleeping under the bed just to avoid them. Like in the event of a nuclear war. Neighbors were posted at the edge of town (which I don't remember firsthand, in the '50s) watching for signs of them flying over from Canada. I could barely imagine the Russians as actual people like us, since we were told over and over how bad they were.

Now, of course, we've let bygones be bygones, and it's one big happy world, no enemies except the terrorists. And they've been reduced to underwear bombs and an occasional smoking shoe. Not the kind of thing the average kid's going to lose sleep over. We certainly don't fear the Russians -- at least I don't. Now they're just a picturesque foreign country that everyone would like to go to if they could.

So now you can go to church and a kid can be sitting there with a "Russia" T-shirt. How many years till "Al Qaeda" will be perfectly acceptable?