Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brothers At Loggerheads With Each Other

Brother against brother, at loggerheads with each other. It's what everyone hates to see. It's bad, really, when any family members find themselves at loggerheads with one another, but there's just something about brothers being at loggerheads. We always think back to Cain and Abel and how being at loggerheads led to death!

And yet, at much as we hate it, it still happens. The old, old story comes to life once again: Brothers find themselves at loggerheads with each other. With everything then, the bad fruit, that springs forth from that.

Of course it's one thing when we're just kids, and there we are, at loggerheads with each other. One brother might be three years older than the other, and it's just some petty squabble that's put them at loggerheads, something they can easily get squared away, we hope, before bedtime. The parents see the situation and step in to counsel them toward resolution.

But then they grow up. And the age difference doesn't count for quite as much. Maybe Junior has achieved more than Senior. But Senior still thinks he should have the priority. Then before you know it, once again they're at loggerheads, and no one can do anything about it. It's those situations where you basically throw up your hands, or perhaps you pray.

I have had the misfortune several times of seeing situations like this play out. They're at loggerheads with one another over a whole range of issues. "Dad never gave me a chance," "Mom favored you," "You're a political idiot," "Your political choices suck," "You're driving an old junker, shaming the family," and "I'll thank you to keep your tongue in your mouth and your eyes off my wife" are just some of the possibilities. Any one of these can be a tinderbox, and once they're at loggerheads over it, Katy, bar the door!

Now, other issues crop up. They may live at some distance from each other, and there's no day to day compelling reason to reconcile. They found themselves at loggerheads with each other when they were close, and now the sudden separation keeps them apart not just physically but mentally. The wound is allowed to fester. Then someone in the family dies, and you've got a mess at the funeral. It's not a fistfight, just a very sullen, sad reunion; clearly they're still at loggerheads. The grievance remains.

I heard a story once about brothers who were at loggerheads with each other, and I never forgot it. It went something like this: The family business was a shop that skinned animals and processed the furs for the fur trade. Dad ran it, then he died without a will. One brother essentially bulled himself into possession of the shop. So the brothers were at loggerheads over it, and it was quite a tirade on the part of both parties. As I recall, the brother who took possession of it maintained possession. The other was out, unceremoniously.

You can well imagine, when you're at loggerheads with your brother over an issue as great as that, that reconciliation is out of the question. A son of one of the brothers -- the ousted one -- told me the sad conclusion: When his father, the ousted brother, died, his brother didn't come to his funeral. And when the surviving brother died, the ousted brother didn't go to his funeral either. They died just as they had lived, still completely and totally at loggerheads with each another.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Watching The Mosquito Bite Me For Hours

Do you have the discipline to sit unperturbed by anything? A child throwing bricks at you? A nearby train jumps the tracks? A lightning strike so close it burns your shoes off? I suppose you do, although it's possible you don't, like one-in-a-million.

As I write this, the house next door is going down the hill in a mudslide. And yet here I sit, trying to think of the next sentence. There's a tiny bit of curiosity -- I won't deny it -- about what it might mean for my own house's foundation, but I'm not going to let it worry me. There! I've put it ...completely ... out of mind.

Let's think of it in the context of the long term: If it had happened 100 million years ago, I wouldn't have been concerned about it. Even though a lot of crazy stuff did happen 100 million years ago. The dinosaurs were wiped out by either an asteroid or overzealous NRA members, and I didn't bat an eye. Then, too, if it happens 100 million years from now, I don't see myself really caring. So why should I care today? Just because I'm here? I need a better reason.

No, just like you, I choose to focus my thoughts on essential Oneness, and the well being that comes from that. A dance of glad hearts, whether in obvious joy or in so-called suffering. Nothing can disturb us! Not even a mosquito!

I have a twinge of something rattling around my mind as I mention mosquitoes. Because usually I don't care for them. Them or any kind of bug. Especially the kind that crawl or land on us and start biting and/or sucking. Look at the picture. It's creepy. Like an alien spaceship. Then there's the reason for its visit, that little straw going from its mouth to its host. It's piercing the skin, going down into the muscle, into a vein, and drinking its fill of our precious lifeblood. It's hard to ignore!

But if you're going to rise above all distractions, ignore it you must! There it is, in my focus, not disturbing me all that much. I'll just watch as it bites. If it persists beyond what seems a normal length of time, I will glance down and see how long it can go. If it persists indefinitely, I will reward its persistence by allowing it to hang on. It's merely tending to its own needs, just like I'd do if I were in its shoes.

As time drags pleasantly on, the creature gets bigger. Then bigger yet. Then the biggest of all, completely plum full, like a tick but not quite that round. I don't see how it can suck any more! And finally, as if reading my thoughts, with my thinking a little unsteady from the loss of blood, it withdraws, wipes off its straw, and flies away.

How about this? After it leaves, I put a toothpick in the hole to keep its place for later. A little less wear and tear on its stinger that way. Very admirable of me.

It's so great not being disturbed by things. This is truly the path to complete bliss.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Before Bugs Had Cement To Crawl On

I had the interesting opportunity today to observe bugs crawling on cement. It's an educational experience, to say the least. One I will gladly avail myself of again in the future if I ever have the chance...

The photos were taken by me, and obviously show two bugs. The top one looks a tick and the bottom one is something more like a spider. Each of them was doing OK on speed, making me think that the convenience of cement isn't just a convenience for us, but all manner of creatures. Isn't that interesting? That we, of all the species, pour cement, but the other species are right there to use it!

It's something to think about. It made me wonder about the first bug ever to discover cement. This would have to go way back. Up till then, all they had was rock, dirt, grass, weeds, etc., and that could pose something of an obstacle course for speedy travel. From their point of view, a rock would be like a mountain. Grass and weeds like a jungle. But then someone comes in and paves the path, and they're getting around pretty fast.

So that goes back to the first bug to discover it. Then generations pass, which in their time might only be a year or so. And suddenly we have bugs who've never known a world without cement. Naturally, they take it for granted, never even imagining what their parents and grandparents did, taking a week to get from their hole to the creek, whereas now the journey takes only 20 minutes. No longer do they have to tote water back to cut down on trips. It's all right there at hand. If you're thirsty and you've got 20 minutes, hey, get on the cement and buzz over, of course assuming you can't fly.

If you can fly, cement would still come in pretty handy. It gives you a much nicer place to land. However, and this is important, from the point of view of bugs, the cement can look fairly rough. To us, being substantially bigger, we don't notice much variation in the surface. But for them there's all those crags, not even mentioning the huge cracks between sections. See the edge of picture 2? That's a section line, looking pretty big if you're less than a quarter inch long!

Even the cracks, though, as big as they are, can come in very handy for bugs. Because when seeds and grain blow anywhere, if they're going to get stuck, it's going to be in the cracks. Making the cracks of a pathway a great place to find free food. And it's more or less lined up, ready and waiting for you! So they eat more on the way to the creek, making them thirsty enough to justify every trip.

It'd be great, knowing what we know now, if we could somehow construct (or otherwise procure) a time machine, and set its coordinates for some time in the past before we had cement, and travel back to observe what bugs had to do. It's likely we'd be sitting at the creek waiting quite a while before any showed up. Because the trip there would be a killer, unless they had thought of the obvious solution of living closer to it.

I can picture us back in time, crouched in the weeds, lost in our observations, then we suddenly look up, startled to be looking into the faces of curious Native Americans. We make fearful and hasty, confused sign language to the effect that we come in peace -- pointing to our camera and notepad. They don't believe us and carry us back to the camp, a trip that we note would have gone so much faster if only they had cement paths.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Those Boxes Of Soil From Home

What is it in us -- what drive? -- that makes us want to fill up boxes of soil from our home and sleep in them? I know it's an odd question, because normally we just take it for granted that that's the way it is, simply what we do. There doesn't have to be a reason.

Still, I'm not ashamed to admit it -- in fact I'm a little proud -- that sometimes I question things and wonder why. I believe it shows I have an open mind, and hopefully you can agree that orthodoxies mean more to us when we periodically examine them, then embrace them afresh, giving them our own conscious assent. I used to ask the same things in church, wondering why we handle snakes and drink strychnine.

The thing with the boxes and soil, though, I think the answers are generally clear. We have a homing instinct, just as other creatures do. Pigeons, salmon, swallows, and the dam-building beaver, which famously prefers to chew trees from the land of its birth. But we human beings tend to range farther from our homes, not on a given instinctual path, taking road trips everywhere, jaunts, excursions, and cruises. I read something the other day that blew my mind, that people are taking more day trips, even exploring their own state, thanks to the higher cost of gasoline.

So we range afar, each going our own direction. But there's one thing we have in common: We prefer the soil of home! Meaning, of course, it can be something of a sacrifice, with the extra space it takes in our vehicles, to be transporting large quantities of the earth all around the country, and even around the world, but still we do it. Albeit in our own ways. I normally take it in a garment bag; I lay it out in the trunk, and if it's evenly spread, it doesn't take up much room. And I've gotten used to buying disposable cardboard sleeping boxes, which of course saves a ton of room as well.

I said, then, the drive was part of our homing instinct. But surely there's more to it, since so often we are not driven by pure instinct. And doing it by habit would be a given. I just think there have to be more conscious reasons as well. For me, and I've heard this all my life from others as well, I just have an easier time sleeping, knowing that soil from home, from my own yard, undergirds me. It looks familiar, it smells familiar, and it just feels better! Like a favorite pillow or piece of tree bark, you just like having it near.

Other than that, there's also the whole issue of our mortality. We're very strong with the conviction that if we die it should be at home. There's something unseemly -- this conviction runs deep -- about dying away from home. So dying in your sleep, lying there on a layer of your own soil, is the next best thing. I'm perfectly content with it. I can go to sleep every night, knowing that wherever I am and whatever happens, if I live or I die, it's my own soil I'm doing it on!

It's a great custom, if custom's the right word for it. And obviously it's going to continue, world without end, as long as we don't run out of soil. We love the old ways.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Rescued A Gnat

I'm not a scientist, I think it was a gnat. If a gnat is a tiny bug with tiny wings and features hard to distinguish because of smallness, it was a gnat.

Whatever it was, it surprised me when I went to play my iPod on my portable Insignia player. It was crawling around, not on the outside of the player but inside!

That's a new one for me. It had apparently crawled in one of the vent holes. Of course it wouldn't take much of a door to fit in. Any little hole would do, but what if it forgot how it got in and forever failed to get back out? The problem for me might be, I'd have to see a gnat crawling around in the window until it died. Which might take a while, and would be depressing to me, even though it's just a gnat.

Just a gnat. I actually sort of have feelings for everything. But I'm not a fanatic about it. I occasionally step on bugs and or squash them with toilet paper or swat flies. It does bother me, moderately, depending on the circumstances. Normally, though, say it's not especially disgusting, I go to the trouble of catching it gently and tossing it outside. There was a little spider hanging in the bathroom that I never did disturb.

In this case, the gnat, I didn't really care that much if it lived or died. But please, I don't want to see you marching upside down in the window of my iPod player forever! And yet, what should I do about it? I don't know how to take anything apart and get it back together again. So in this case I just made a hole in the window with a tire iron and eventually freed the little thing.

My player looks like hell now, but I'm not trying to keep it in mint condition. It fell off my car once and bounced around on the road. It shows plenty signs of damage, while remaining a nice player. And now another permanent scar.

I made the hole and waited for the gnat to notice it, which it wasn't doing. I tinkered around with the hole, trying to make sure there was an actual way for it around the plastic shards hanging down. It wasn't working. Then, finally, I opened the break a little more along its extent, prying it up, which worked best of all. In about two seconds, the gnat noticed it, came forth, and flew toward the car window. Since they're tough to keep track of once they're a foot or so away, I assume it made it outside; I never saw it again.

And just as well. It's gone. I didn't want to see it again. But now I have something to remember it by -- an enduring hole and break in my player. Quite the adventure, huh?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Buckets: An Incredible Synchronicity

I've never been one to see meaningless coincidences. Only a few times. Once a guy said to me, "I don't believe in coincidences." And I said, "What a coincidence! I was going to say the same thing!" Usually I just think, It's a big world. The same things happen to everyone. Of course there's going to be similarities and parallels.

But then, like it or not, it starts getting creepy. You've got on a blue shirt, some other guy has one. Your brother gets a speeding ticket, someone else you know gets one. And maybe there's a real kick in the pants: Your electricity goes out and suddenly everyone in the neighborhood's off, too! At some point, even the diehard skeptic has to admit something's going on...

Is it evidence of the Divine working in our midst? I'm not willing to say that precisely, not quite yet. Because, frankly, the trivial nature of many coincidences keeps me from it. Still, it's something to examine. Maybe my reticence comes from having too big an image of the Divine, so the problem's with me. If the Divine, let's say, being eternal and therefore ageless, is still like a cosmic one-year-old, through no fault of its own, then a lot of immature bullshit tinkering with people's heads wouldn't be out of the picture. It's something to consider.

Instead of that, I'm more open to a reexamination of the theory of synchronicity, one of the famous theories C.G. Jung stole from The Police, inspired as he was by their great album. The theory states, basically, there is a discernible connecting principle between apparently unrelated phenomena that happen simultaneously or nearly so in time. Along with this, it can be apart from any cause and effect relationship that we usually posit, being therefore termed "acausal."

For example, let's say there's Horse A in Florida, Horse B in Oregon, and Horse C in Maine. Each horse is sick on Tuesday, well on Wednesday, sick on Thursday, well on Friday, sick on Saturday, and finally put down on Sunday. At first glance there's nothing obvious to our limited sensibilities indicating a connection or any cause and effect relationship (with the distance between Florida, Oregon, and Maine), so it simply seems like a pure coincidence. But looking deeper I think we can make an excellent case for a meaningful synchronicity, because what are the chances of three horses in a single example being called Horse A, Horse B, and Horse C? There's a clear pattern.

With that in mind, imagine how freaked out I was yesterday when I saw the newspaper's headline: "SUMMER BUCKET LIST." The day before (Sunday) I had my post, "I Pour Contempt On All My Pride," involving buckets. Then yesterday (Monday), the same day as the newspaper, I was working on my post, "My Great Memories of Buckets." The timeline went like this: 1) On Sunday I had no knowledge what the Monday paper would say. 2) On Monday I was working on the post, then saw the newspaper, then went to finish it up.

How does stuff like that happen? And what does it mean? I haven't seen anything freakier since the day I was imagining what Johnny Cash's funeral would be like, and the next day I read online that he died. Meaning that my imagining of his funeral was happening literally as he was dying! That's odd, yes, but this bucket thing blows my mind!

Please, help me. If you have a thought on this issue, an opinion, some kind of good counsel, please leave me a comment. If you don't, who knows, maybe I'll start imagining ... imagining ... imagining ... and it'll be you who kicks the bucket.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Great Memories Of Buckets

To me, the bucket is more than a bucket. It's like a picture of the fullness of humanity, or existence period, androgynous, at once receptive and able to pour forth. How complete, and how interesting to point out.

Other than that, I like the bucket's functionality. And all the great memories I have of buckets.

The first example is the classic pail. How often I remember, and this is back in the old days, when we would go to the hand pump to get a bucket of water. We then had a ladle, itself a miniature bucket, that we would drink from, and communally at that!

I suppose I may owe some of my immunity to disease now to my ignorantly taking in other people's germs all those years ago. Today, of course, I'd never drink from a pail that's been within 50 feet of someone else. Which means I might drop dead at any moment.

I also remember pans and things that do pretty much the same thing a bucket does. You pour water from one to the other and obviously the water doesn't know any difference. For water, anything that impedes its flow, from a drinking glass to the Hoover Dam is just a bucket or, more accurately, a bucket-like thing.

Grandma used to boil water in a pan like this. And next thing you knew, she'd be putting food in it, like macaroni or spaghetti. You can probably guess what came next: She'd cook it and we'd end up eating whatever it was.

This kind of little pan, again with some of the same qualities of a bucket proper was always good for making something like Jello. The way I remember it, it was silver in color, and there were also some that were white. I like the silver best, because it seems to me like silver gets cold faster than white. But I'm open, seriously, to being corrected on that belief, if anyone thinks they know better.

Then there's the flat pan without handles. This is a good one if handles aren't your thing. And if you're not using it for hot water. If you're putting cold water in it, it's no problem at all. It makes for a nice pan, indeed, the presentation being very spiffy and refreshing as well to the eye. But why you wouldn't want handles, who knows. It'd make a good water dish for the dog.

OK, now we're back on terra firma, because I do prefer handles on a bucket or a pan, anything of the bucket family. It gives you that extra portability. And if you're open to using hot water in addition to cold, you don't have to plan in advance. You simply may as well have handles. My memory of a pan like this is it was good for filling with water to soak your feet in. If your feet felt like soaking. A little bit of Epsom salts in there and it does the trick.

This one is a little more complicated. It's like a double bubble thing. You've got a bucket within a bucket, maybe a Chinese invention, going along with their box in a box theme. You're boiling water down below, then putting the top pan in the bottom, so it's very cool. You do eggs in it. Just looking at it, it's like a duplex apartment; everyone knows someone else is there, but you get used to it. Frankly, I'd much rather live in a horizontal duplex than a vertical one. But a double pan simply doesn't work if you orient it horizontally. Heat has one direction, straight up.

For tea kettles, which the double bubble pot also could be, I prefer the single. It's easy to use and easy to understand. You're not getting tangled up in all the handles, jutting out like a bull's horns. You've got one pot, one handle; it's all very clean and efficient, like a single bed as opposed to bunks. You put the water in it, boil it, and pour it on your teabag. Or you could use an infuser and make your tea in a more zen-like way, which I like to do sometimes. I find that doing things in slow motion and very intentionally sometimes brings me back to basic sanity. Sometimes.

This looks like a camping pail. It's small enough to fit on a camp stove. It seems like Charlie Chaplin had one like this in The Gold Rush, so we're talking a very old design here. You've got a guy in the silent movies, in a ramshackle cabin, boiling his shoe (to eat) in one of the bigger pans, probably the second from the top, then making his coffee in a little pail like this. I know people aren't near as finicky about how their coffee is cooked when they're camping or in a ramshackle cabin. Because out there if you get grounds in it, you just spit them out.

I hope you enjoyed my bucket list and my personal memories.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Pour Contempt On All My Pride

It's time for a whole new life, of course strictly applied first to myself. No more pride! Bring out the buckets of pride killer, that I may pour contempt on all my pride! From here on out, my richest gain I shall count but loss.

Realistically, I don't have that much to be proud of. And that's not the declaration, the bitter words of a guy down in the dumps, because I'm not. By any true measure, I'm on top of the world. It's just that I've suddenly realized -- call it a much needed awakening, a kick in the spiritual pants -- that pride is basically worthless. I'm saying it by proxy for everyone else, too. Forbid it, that any of us should boast!

Am I guilty of overweening pride? I sure am. Like I just said, I believe it applies to everyone but I start with myself. All the vain things truly have charmed me, along with everyone else. So much so that I was essentially blinded to it. That's a weird thing about pride. It gets hold of you and it becomes your nature, it seems natural. But then you suddenly wake up and go "Whoa!" This isn't how it should be.

At least that's what I'm discovering. I'm in the process of discovering how deep it goes. It appears to go very deep, right where you dwell, to the most central part of your being. You start struttin' like a peacock, and everyone else is gagging. So you start thinking, "Bring in the buckets!"

That's a very vivid way of putting it, "Bring in the buckets! Summon the Bucket Brigade! Fill 'em up to the very brim, the buckets! And not just the buckets, but pots and pans, too, anything that serves to hold pride killer and contempt!" This is great stuff. And how about this? Cook it, too! Cook it! Put it on the fire! Crank up the heat! Get it good and boiling! This is going to burn, it's going to scald! Sounds terrible, really, but that's what I need!

I'm making it a public thing, the rigorous dousing I'm taking. It's right here in public, something that anyone with internet access can witness. Please link to this blog post. Let me be the guy who put it out there. I might be able to inspire others to pour contempt on their pride. I'll take the first step. The pride killer and contempt is boiling hot; please, turn it up some more!

Yes, I know this is going to hurt like bloody heck. Because I have all the pans totally boiling, so they're even starting to melt a little around the edges. The handles are piping hot. You'll need two potholders to get a grasp on them. And now here goes nothing...

My pride is getting the biggest scalding of its pathetic life! The cure demands my soul, my life, my all!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Your Purview?

"Purview" is a word I have a hard time keeping in mind, its definition and how to use it. Typically, the only way I can use it in a sentence is to simply use it afresh. If I sit and think about it, it becomes unknowable and absurd quicker than most other words. Maybe the key to that is I only use it once in a blue moon.

But when it's called for, of course I use it, whether or not it makes me sound like an egghead. Yes, I have regrets anytime it escapes my lips. Because people will be sitting there going, "WTF is this guy talking about?" or words to that effect.

Today I used "purview" early on just talking to myself. And decided then and there it'd be a great game show from the past -- "What's Your Purview? -- with a panel of blindfolded socialites guessing a particular individual's purview. He's out there, and the panel is thrashing about, hoping to get a handle on his purview of whatever the topic is. "Would your purview ever include a breadbox?" I think that'd be entertaining.

Is something like that funny or interesting to you? Would it be locatable in your purview of what a decent game show would be? The subject could be something very trivial, like what his favorite brand of coffee is. He has a purview encompassing the subject, probably like all of us. Just speaking for myself, I have a definite favorite, but an overall purview on the subject that still encompasses other alternatives.

Or the subject could be something quite complex, meaning they'd have to have guests whose purview of matters had complexity in its scope. On a broad subject like the underlying unity of the world's religions, let's say, not everyone's purview could do it justice. But it'd still be interesting to see them try, humorously so if they were fundamentalists, or enlightening if their purview were already broadened by thought and strong conclusions. I mention this in particular because I feel that my purview concerning the topic is probably broader than most. On that and old cartoons.

However, let's leave me out. Having a broad purview, as I do, I'm more than willing to admit other voices. Plus, my purview of topics is wide enough that, really, any subject would be fit fodder for any given episode, and would interest me. If your purview differs from mine, I don't mind, because my purview is broad enough to allow for all kinds, the ignorant as well as the smart.

So let's say you ended up on the show. It's you and another contestant. The panel is in place, judging one purview against another. You win, that's good. Or you lose, it's good. Because I have a broad purview on the outcome of the show, knowing that the lovely parting gifts are worth having. And just being on the show, in my overall purview of entertainment history, it's a nice slice of immortality.

The Rest Is Inconsequential History

ABSTRACT: I survey the history of the American presidency and a bunch of things I happen to do. The rest is inconsequential history.

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of our greatest presidents, ones I have no problem remembering, indisputably made history. If they fell out of bed, it was a big deal. Especially because they spent so little time sleeping, having wars and the affairs of state to keep them awake. Their influence remains today, as they are the ones I think of first when I think of historical figures. They dwell in my consciousness, up there in my natural cloud (no Amazon or Apple needed!).

What could I say to summarize the influence of these great men? Really, time and full intelligence would fail me, were I to try. So let me just start by saying, "Two thumbs up!" on their presidencies, and, in fact, on their lives period.

Of course President Washington was our first president, which had to be a great honor. He must have been struttin' and trash talkin' all the time: "They can't compare me to nobody!" and "Suck on this, you muthas!" President Lincoln came later in the distinguished line of American chief executives, according to the encyclopedia being the 16th man to hold the highest office. No, it's not as good as Number One, naturally, but you could say "Sweet 16" ain't bad! Not bad indeed, and in some states, still legal.

So let's hear it for Washington and Lincoln! Two great guys, even though it's not February. A grateful nation doesn't forget. What they did, they did. Whether it was in battle. Washington took out the English. Lincoln took out half of America. Or in their personal lives. Washington cut down cherry trees. Lincoln split rails. Their portraits remain with us, which is how we picture them yet today: Washington standing up in a boat, Lincoln staring down the cameraman. I love it that we have actual photos of Lincoln. But back in Washington's time, no one was yet smart enough to invent the camera. Which to us today seems real duh. My brother can make a camera out of a box and a pin! True story!

OK, I'm mentioning these great men today -- Number 1 and Sweet 16 -- to put myself in their company, the company of those who make history. The biggest difference between them and me is they chose to make history hundreds of years ago, and I choose to make it now. Which I'll leave to you to judge: Their history is so long ago we're dealing in hearsay and cliches. My history is up to date, something any objective observer can currently evaluate. Personally, I think my choice is best; certainly it lends itself to greater transparency; I'm not hiding out somewhere in the obscure past, I take my stand today!

About my own history, given enough time and bandwidth, I could go on and on. Like my list of teachers. I could give you a list of most of my teachers. A list you're not likely to come up on your own, because how would you know? It's not in the encyclopedias! Or the way my preferences in life developed. It's funny, the way things go. We used to eat a bunch of wild game that Grandpa hunted. Squirrels, rabbits, coon, pheasants, turtle, possums, etc. And we didn't think anything about it. Then, sometime, suddenly, when I grew up, I decided I'd only eat store-bought food. I'm not even that much of a proponent of hunting these days. But against those who do hunt, I hold no grievance. Old fashioned people hunt, the rest of us buy. See all the history right there?

I'm making history everyday. Here's one big reason: I carry a camera, a built-in feature of my phone. Can you believe it? A camera right in my phone! I can order a pizza one minute and take a picture of it the next! Try that with an Instamatic! Here's the history: My pictures capture a moment in time, i.e., history. I like to take pictures of old windmills and the broad sides of barns. Someday when we get our wind from other sources and all the barns have been burnt down for firewood, my pictures will preserve a bygone era. Like Ansel Adams, they'll be on calendars and coffee cups.

I'm making history right now, just by passing on my memories and knowledge to the world. I can see this blog as a primary resource for researchers someday. They'll be like, "Whoa! This is some good shit!" The researchers will be in little cubicles reading it, one of them starting at the most recent stuff and the other starting at the oldest. Eventually, they'll meet in the middle, like the great Americans who drove the Golden Spike. And they'll shake hands and thank their lucky stars for me. Then they'll go out for drinks and laughs before getting up the next day and doing it all again.

History ... it's a gas. I'm signing off for today ... although history may reveal that I came back.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tips For Parking Lot Safety

No, this isn't just another boring post on "parking lot safety." You know the routine: "Parking is a privilege, not a right. Make sure you remember that, or you'll be circling the block forever."

No! I do not buy that particular line of pious bullshit. The only time I "agree" to it is on the driving exam every eight years when you have to agree to it to get your license renewal.

My own feeling on the subject, and I hope you agree with plain common sense as I see it: I have (and you have) just as much right to park as the next guy. No questions asked. But I do agree with one point of orthodoxy -- and you'd have to be a fool not to -- that we need to be responsible and maintain safety in these three areas: 1) Arriving; 2) Staying; and, 3) Leaving.

Arriving -- If someone else is already in the space I want, obviously I cannot, and should not, try to park there.

Staying -- It's important to lock your doors. Also to check your backseat when getting back into your car. Someone might be lying in wait. Which would usually be no one you want to deal with.

Leaving -- This is critical. I check behind the car to make sure I won't be running over anyone, especially a child. An adult needs to be more or less responsible, but a child is naturally senseless.

However, I do not check the undercarriage of the car. If someone is under there, clinging to the bottom of the car, I feel that I'm within my rights not to notice them. Who can reasonably expect it often enough to waste the time it would take every time to check? Similarly, if they've managed to open the hood, and crawl in on the motor, and there's no apparent sign of them, I'm simply going to start the car as normal and drive off. If they get ground to death in the gears, or cremated from the extreme heat, I have to say, being realistic, that's their problem.

Maintain safety in your parking space. But also let reason be your guide.

The Traffic Light Lord

It recently came to my attention, thanks to a newspaper article, that in my town there are cameras at the traffic lights, with guys watching them at headquarters. They said they've seen some really wild stuff going on. So now all I can think of at intersections is this. Of course I'm making sure I'm driving right. But also that every hair's in place, and I turn so they'll get my good side.

I'd like to see the operation, if they had an open house. Are they good cameras, or are they like what robbed convenience stores always have, black and white, very grainy, and impossible to detect individual differences in human forms? They might be very precise, very clear, able to read license plates, and see if a guy is turning his good side.

If I could do this job, it'd be fun. With the remote control, I'd make the red lights come on for Hummers and other gas guzzlers, and folks who looked ostentatious or simply annoying. Like cars with crazy big hubcaps, cars playing loud music, etc. But for the poor and humble, for the average guy, it'd be green lights all the way. Or if I saw the Birdseye guy in the old truck, from the commercial, taking veggies to market, he'd get the green light, too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ten Dollar Bills And Orange Antifreeze

The other day I needed a $10 bill for someone's birthday card. I was at the grocery store, so I got $40 change from my debit card. The cashier was giving me two 20s so I asked for one 20 and two 10s instead. But she said she didn't have any 10s; they didn't give her any. I asked her if she could get me a couple, but she either wouldn't or couldn't. She shut the drawer and that was it.

I went over to customer service and asked if I could change one of the 20s for two 10s. She also said they didn't have any 10s. No 10s, isn't that funny? Apparently not a 10 dollar bill in the whole damned place! So I left a little ticked off, muttering to myself, "They built this $8 million store to appeal to customers then fall down on the little stuff. Some little piece of customer service like that." Grrrr.

I can only guess they don't believe in the $10 bill. But why? They still deal in 1s and they still have 5s. I know they have 5s because I ended up with four of them! It's just the 10. You're out of luck. Maybe one of the managers lost a $10 bill his dad gave him to go to the store and so he swore, "I'll never carry another 10, and that goes for whatever store I myself happen to manage in the future!"

My story of the orange antifreeze is similar, about a guy who didn't believe in orange antifreeze.

I took my car to a different mechanic when my old mechanic got gangrene in his foot, had to have it amputated, and retired. I was going to take a trip out of town and needed service that included draining the radiator and having it refilled. Sounds simple enough.

At the end of the trip (getting there), my car was acting crazy, overheating, going ballistic. I took it to a mechanic, who had to do major repairs that ended up costing me $539. He told me it had the wrong antifreeze in it! It had green and I was supposed to have orange!

Later then, back home, I was talking to a friend, a guy who coincidentally happened to know the mechanic. We shared some experiences of how rude he was, etc. I had already told him about the $539 bill to get the car fixed and the wrong antifreeze. My friend said something I could barely believe, that he knew for a fact that the mechanic "doesn't believe in orange antifreeze"; he only believes in green. So if your car calls for orange, and you happen to take it to him, he's only going to put in green!

What kind of bullshit is that? A mechanic whose beliefs override what your car physically needs?

This story about the 10 dollar bills and the antifreeze is true, word for word, except it might have been $593. I might have transposed the numbers but I don't think so.

Don't let your beliefs get in the way of either my money or my antifreeze!

Friday, May 11, 2012

They're Gonna Find Me By GPS

Friends, you all know I have kept my location a secret.

Except for the earliest days of the blog, when I said precisely where I was, putting my address on the hard copy newsletter I sent out to followers, then even having a few of you over for real life visits, I have refused to share details of my location.

I have done this for a couple of reasons: 1) Because I found it's best to maintain a buffer zone between myself and those perverts (like Garrett Al) who would do me harm. And, 2) To keep a certain air of mystery and fascination. The average reader likes that sense of the unknown, thereby more easily allowing fantasies of castles, mountain top chalets, foggy moors, etc., to be the setting for blogs they revere.

Number 1 is my biggest reason, of course, because we actually did have some trouble in the earlier days. And now, with our traffic skyrocketing -- I had over a thousand verified users from Bulgaria just the other day -- the threat is multiplied. If it's true what they say, that Bulgarians are 9 foot tall and mean as hell, it wouldn't take very many of them to overrun me, steal my passwords, etc., and completely obliterate what we share here. Can you imagine how hard this would be to read in Bulgarian?

OK, then, let's get to my other fears. It's not just amateurs I'm worried about, but the authorities. Up till now I haven't worried too much about the authorities. My cousin Roto, being a Republican, assured me that government can't do anything right, and I believed him. But since then I've heard of this thing called "GPS," which government must have worked on with the help of private enterprise, because it does work.

A friend took me for a ride in his car, and in the course of our ride, he showed me how GPS works. And it was frightful. He typed in a few words -- "Red garage on Klinger St. -- and up popped an address and directions. I said, "No way" So I tried it myself, using keywords unique to my address: "Find the willow tree with a hand pump 18 feet to the northeast and from there a maple tree 13 feet to the northwest." Guess what! There was only one GPS result, my place!

Next, I said to leave out the hand pump. "Find the willow tree with a maple tree to its immediate north, between 10 and 30 feet." This time there were three addresses along with mine! Meaning, I'm three times as safe if I get rid of the pump. But not as safe as I'd be if I just cut down the willow tree, the main source of my troubles.

OK, we typed in the business about the willow tree again, the first option, and the car put itself in gear and, solely under its own control, at 80 mph, zipped us straight to my address. It couldn't have taken a more direct path it'd been powered by Flubber! I was aghast! At this point, the sons of bitches -- my readers and the authorities -- would be here in 5 minutes! And all hope lost!

GPS is a terrible thing, mark my words. Men weren't meant to be found, at least I wasn't. I need my privacy. I can't be expected to thrive with my house surrounded by crooked Bulgarians. Nor can I thrive under the incompetent watch of government, those watching me lest I do or say something untoward, offensive, or even criminal. Private enterprise might come to their aid, and, next thing I'd know, they'd arrest me.

Here's what I truly think: GPS is bad!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Days Of Yore, Days Of 'Morrow

How wistful I am, how wistful I've been! I've been doing a lot of thinking on the days of yore and the days of 'morrow. Not the most pleasant thing...

What a monumental deadend are the days of yore once you start thinking about them! Oh, damn, but I can't quit. My mind is working overtime on the stinking days of yore!

My age has something to do with it. I'll be 60 my next birthday, and I'm already getting the senior discount everywhere I go. I look in the mirror and see, frankly, the unkind ravages of time. The me of the days of yore, appearance-wise are gone, alas. Every old picture of me shows signs of being vintage. Not just the elements of me but the cars, haircuts, and faded colors. I have a knack of picking 1974 pictures out of a lineup based on subtle color distinctions.

Anyway, here I am, my memories stretching back as far as the eye can see. I've been thinking about it when I should be sleeping, what I could've done differently, etc. I've already concluded that I was little more than a child till more or less 30. Young and foolish. With a whole bunch of crazy moments that make me wince, then get sick. 'Nough said!

Then, stretched out the other direction, with likely a shorter stretch ahead of me personally, are the days of 'morrow. Were I to live another 30 years, doubtful, I'd be close to 90 on the next birthday. That's tough to picture. Not that 30 years doesn't go fast enough; it speeds by. But the idea that I'm going to actually make it that long -- I suppose if others can do it, it's conceivable.

I have a dentist appointment later this week. There's decay in this one area where I might need a post drilled into it. Of course I'm reluctant to do anything drastic. Then I think, what if I really do last through the days of 'morrow? That tooth might come in handy.

My abilities aren't all that terrible now. At 59, you've still basically got it. But I notice a little more fatigue, a little more sagging, mental slowing down, all the time. The days of 'morrow, face it, aren't going to be much better.

As for the days of yore, I have things going on. I've been trying to contact a couple friends from the days of 'yore. I still haven't gotten hold of any, even though I know they're alive. I actually have a call in to one woman (a friend only) I knew 30+ years ago. I hope she calls back, but I keep picturing it as awkward. And she hasn't called so far. The other is a guy I was best friends with, but we lost contact. Then I ran into a sister-in-law of his who took my email and was going to write me with contact info. She hasn't. Must have forgotten.

With both these folks -- we all worked together -- I had many interesting experiences in the days of yore. But it's been so long now! The days of 'morrow don't hold much hope for a renewed friendship, but who knows? You don't know till you try. Then if it all fizzles out, at least I won't have to spend the days of 'morrow wondering if I should call "now."

Wistfulness is for the wistful, which means me. Those damned days of yore! And those damned days of 'morrow!