Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 -- Goodbye Crappy Year

What a year 2018 was, right? It doesn’t matter who you are, we can decisively declare 2018 a year of huge ups and downs. And, if we’re not being artificially cheerful, as we so often are, not wanting to be a major downer to our friends and family, who are so sensitive and perturbed when we’re the least bit honest, which I believe is their problem, not mine, our conclusion on 2018 would have to be something like this, It was bad.

With some good in it, no doubt, don’t get me wrong. I can’t actually recall a year in my ever-lengthening life that I'd sum up as all bad; even the most dismal years, true for each of us, when it seemed like there was no up, no good, not the slightest redeeming thing about it, even then if we looked real closely, examining it with as detached an appraisal as we could muster — perhaps squinting — we could find positive aspects. But enough about 1968, am I right?

Yes, 1968, 50 years ago we were saying goodbye to a bastard of a year. But that’s a long time ago, I know, before most people were born. And every year since then we’ve had bastards of years that lots more of us have experienced, including, naturally, the most immediately recent years, say, after 2000. 2001 was a bastard year, we all remember that, or they’ve told you about it. 2002 was then shaded by 2001, and 2003 by 2002, and so forth. I suffered quite a bit between 2004 and 2017, with the less said about that, the better.

Finally, 2018 was upon us, and, frankly, there was no reason to expect much out of 2018. Once burned, twice wary, Grandma used to say. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ve been burned every year. I remember the year I broke my leg; I’ve crossed off that year. Then my arm, the same thing. But if you can make it through childhood, you feel like you can do anything. It’s a remarkable feeling! Till you become an adult and realize, it’s all the same. If it’s not your arm or leg, it’s your heart, your soul, the whole crushing weight that life itself makes you bear. The strain can be too much. But think of one of the happiest people in history, Samson chained to the pillars, straining with all his might to fulfill his last wish, to bring down the building and crush the Philistines. You could argue Samson was the last living person to have a happy new year, but he had to die in the process.

Am I optimistic about 2019? Of course I am. I'm dizzy, drunk with optimism. No less than were I standing in a beautiful meadow on a bright sunlit day, my dog also running free, able to poop without the neighbors looking to see if I picked it up. My soul even now is soaring, higher and higher, looking for the heights and hoping to exceed them. My body may be tied forever to the ground. But I can dream of jumping so high I could take wing and leave this gravity-restricted existence behind. But alas, gravity gets the tie-breaking vote, not in your favor. But just think how terrible it'd be to jump so high you were trapped in the stratosphere; the breathing there is very thin.

It is my hope that this indeed will be a happy new year, 2019. And I will keep believing that with all my heart until the first sign of turmoil touches my sensitive nature. Keep me in your thoughts... It could be any minute now.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Barbarian Bowl

Like a lot of guys, I've been watching a few football games during the holiday season. The big bowls are something of a national pastime. We're just doing nothing, so to pass the time we watch them. They’re interesting to us, and give college athletes something to do.

Of course to enjoy these games you have to be able to overlook your scruples. And I regret to say I’m just as guilty, not any better. But at least I have regrets. I need to work on that, make it a New Year’s resolution, that I will be more socially responsible. And principled. It pains me to say I’m not quite there yet.

The problem’s obvious to everyone who’s looked at it objectively, the whole issue of land resources, especially in light of the human tragedy of homelessness and so forth. In short, friends, we’re running out of room. There’s more population than room to warehouse or provide living space for everyone. And we haven’t made enough headway on prevention, like regulating the sexual habits of people of childbearing age.

As tough as it'd be, that’s where I'd start, because I think our ability to go cold turkey sexually is stronger than our willingness to give up sports. I’d actually recommend a two-pronged approach. Not playing football games and regulating sexual activity. Then if we make progress, it's a win-win. And if we don’t, we'll just have to bear down more and continue some serious work on the problem. What's the alternative, to shrug and say, "We give up"? That's no alternative. In that case, our reign as the dominant species on this planet is over. We will have sex and go whole hog with sports until we’re extinct, dead as cheap door-nails.

If we devote so much land to football fields, basketball courts, and golf courses, we’re confessing that our priorities are shortsighted, just the fun of the moment and the future be damned! We will play our way into the grave, and no doubt at some point even run out of grave space, a loss of cemeteries, because of so much real estate foolishly dedicated to sports.

Even now I’m watching a bowl game and shaking my head. 1) How can I be so much a part of the problem as to enjoy this disgusting display? And, 2) How can those people sit in those huge stadiums unaware or uncaring about the issue, that there's a stranglehold on our ability to use land responsibly. The football lawns look so well manicured, it’s ridiculous, while the people needing land for basic living are a mess. I drove by a yard right here in the Big City with so much illegal dumping, you’d think we'd simply given up, and it's true.

As for basketball courts also wasting land, strangely that's not as obvious. Because we’re stupidly used to the idea that buildings are different, essential. Setting aside the obvious fact that buildings have to be built somewhere, also taking land that is so desperately needed. But instead of getting a grip on ourselves and doing it right, we have lost our way. If we can't get a grip on ourselves, what hope do we have in the long run? Zero hope, that’s the only conclusion.

It’s been in the news that we might even be colonizing Mars very soon. I’m just hoping that when we get there we reflect on what we've done. If we've despoiled the Earth, can we at least learn the lesson for outer space? We don’t want the other planets to be misused, too. Right now, we must pass a law restricting the building of sports arenas, football fields, and golf courses in outer space. Keep our previous space resources for what's really needed, a place for everyone to live their lives with dignity.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Most Oversexed People

I'm closing out the festivities for the year with my version of everyone's favorite party game -- feel free to quote it at your New Year's orgy -- Who are the Most Oversexed People?

Oh yeah, this makes me warm just thinking about it... I'm looking around, hoping no one notices me at my table. I'm typing this in the public library. It might be hard, even embarrassing, trying to account for my flushed look or the uneasy shifting in my chair, trying not to bump into the lower part of the desk. Keep it up like this, I could make next year's list. But, no, dirty old men didn't make this year's list. There's something wrong with their trying too hard, one surmises; they're overlooked out of spite

I've been thinking a long time who would make the list, so I'm sure I've got it right. By the way, the list is in no particular order, because all of them are oversexed. With the notable exception of Auctioneers. Auctioneers are by far the most oversexed people. Enough foreplay, here's the list:

Dads who take their kids out too much -- Yes, I know what you're thinking, There's no one more adorable than Dads who take their kids out too much. I know, that's the point! Why do you think they do it? Certainly not out of a great maternal instinct suddenly kicking in. You could argue they want to be a good role model for the kid, they want to spend quality time with the kid, or a dozen different idiotic things that depend on innocent motives. Don't be fooled! Dads have two basic interests, fooling the wife and impressing the ladies. Of course the wife always has her suspicions. At some level she knows her husband's devious mind. She knows he's into these fantasies. But even she can be fooled when he voluntarily, even eagerly takes little Johnny out on a snowy night. No innocent man would ever do that. That's one husband who's purely oversexed and looking for more. He doesn't mind being a little cold if it means he'll be snuggling up real soon with a hot neighbor gal.

Clowns -- I grew up liking clowns. Before movies wrongly portrayed them as psychos and killers, the exact opposite of a few clowns I've known. But even I know that to classify clowns as oversexed is 100% accurate. Let's set aside the negative spin they've gotten as killers and psychos. The only thing I'm interested in is how oversexed they are. I think it's obvious. Look how defensive they are. Face paint and costumes are clearly an attempt to hide their true person and motives. Talk about wearing your diagnosis on your sleeve! The big flouncy costume, the face pain, the tiny hats and flowers; you have to be aware there's a real person hiding under all that. No doubt someone with the vilest instincts who'd act on those instincts given half a chance. To me it's all sexual. They back you into a corner -- which with flowers and a nice meal might be welcome -- then you find out... They have only one thing on their oversexed little mind, sex. And maybe spawning a few someday-clowns.

Police -- I keep my eye on the police. I've been watching a lot of videos involving the police, car chases, and other arrests. And I notice one unifying thread with our protectors in blue, As long as the camera's running, They do it by the book. That is, they're perpetually on the straight and narrow way. There's a protocol and they aim to keep it. There's a pecking order with the force, and the slightest variance from what is expected, demanded, is enough to demote them so far down they'd need to personally solve three or four bank robbery cases a day to ever again see the light of day. Whenever you have that kind of pressure, you counteract it via the instincts. Number One of which is sex. I don't know what it'd be like to be a police officer's spouse, and I don't want to find out. I'm pretty sure it involves a lot of mock arrests, continually "reading their rights," and a lot of searching for the evidence, usually including strip searches. The police have one thing on their mind during the day, the strict law. But at night, it's all lawlessness, forbidden fruit up the yin yang.

People Who Point At Others -- This one is more nebulous, people who point at others. But in a way I see the same rationale I had with the police. It's the old psychological lore, that those who are "moral to a fault" themselves have plenty of faults. Like in the song Harper Valley PTA. My own pointing out of other people's faults is coincidental and only done for educational purposes.

Nude Cherubs -- See that little New Year's fellow in the buff? He's got clothes, he just chooses not to wear them. In this case he's a little too close to the clowns. By intention!

Auctioneers -- Then there's auctioneers! Know what I mean? If I made a list of the most oversexed people for the last 50 years, no doubt auctioneers would hold the Number One spot every year. I could write a dissertation on the subject, but I'll try to keep it brief. Ask yourself what auctioneers are good at. First, no one appraises value and desirability like an auctioneer. They have an eye for the good stuff. They know the psychological ins and outs of selling what they've got. They might have a broken desk for sale, but they've been through its drawers and they know there's still lots of good use. Second, they're fast talkers. Just try to resist an auctioneer's charms, they'll plead, wheedle, and beg, a whole eight pages of begging squeezed into seven seconds. They just open their mouth and in the next breath you're in bed, and the auctioneer has rung up the sale. Daddies, keep your daughters out of auction barns.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

China -- Complicated Damn Place

The older I get, the more I want things simple. I’m near crazy with complicated arrangements, family matters, and personal struggles. Take Grandma's house as the worst example. As I speak, it's in pieces at the city dump. And who knows when it'll be fixed? These are the problems a young man should be facing, not an old bastard like me. It's too complicated! Then there's my memory. It's getting very funky, I can’t even remember what I was going to say.

But I probably wanted to make the point that the less complicated things are, the better. I believe I mentioned before my memory, that it's getting very funky. It’d only complicate things and make me dizzy to go into great detail as to what happened. I’ll just say I was a Good Samaritan, helping a guy in the winter. Near the end of helping him, he fell and so I fell backwards down some stairs and hit my head on a rock and saw stars. Stars may not be accurate, more like a speeding white galaxy soaring the distance between my medulla oblongata and forehead. I was hoping if it did any damage it’d be super powers. But it affected my memory. Vastly complicating the future, I think. It's possible I'm still lying there, that same day, waiting for an ambulance.

But I've gone on as though this is reality. And now when I need to do something I have to sketch it out, and like Santa Claus, check it twice. Or I will have forgotten the whole thing and feel confused. So the less complicated things are, the more I’ll remember to do it.

Let’s take one of my fairly recent adventures, which also slipped my mind. It was a quick trip to China to meet with a dour aging spiritual princess, part of an arrangement with a guru type-of-guy I met, whom I’ve mentioned before, Wolf. He was going to guide me on my shamanic path. I almost forgot him, but he intrudes on my thoughts every once in a while, from afar. I haven’t seen him in the flesh since a fateful night in September. Now, though, once a day or more I get telegraphic mental counsel from him. It’s complicated. I wake up and know it happened.

Little did I know I’d be going to China. I’m not that great at making travel plans and following through on them. But I went to a particular airfield, as seen in the vision, and went to a place, China, they say. The princess was there, and various underlings, No. 1 underling, No. 2 underling, and so forth. By the time I was through, I was making a mad dash back to the plane, pursued by underling 35 through 48. With 49 and 50 close behind. I was huffing and puffing like a madman, and escape was so tight for me, I just couldn't stand on ceremony.

It was too damned complicated for me; you get it? The bump on the head, the galaxy of lights, have intruded so completely in my mind, I can think of little else. How could I possibly go from my normal life to China? It's ridiculous. And when I was there, how was I to know that constantly asking them to repeat things was something they hate? My Chinese is terrible anyway; so I'm reduced to reading body language and discerning between the lines (guessing) what they’re saying. Then when I ask for clarification, it looks like I’m having a seizure, another no-no. Ask any Chinese you happen to meet, but be prepared to run...

The princess had two chief stewards and they were staring daggers at me. Then it went beyond cross-cultural problems with eye contact and actual daggers were flashed. The princess was banging the gong (but not to get it on), and dreaded Chinese minions scurried around the palace. They were more confused than I, and I was a total ball of confusion. I slipped beneath a hanging rug/tapestry and exited stage left toward one of those pagoda type of doors that tells you you’re in foreign territory. The gong repeatedly sounded, minions pulled out swords. It was a complicated mess, just the thing I hate.

With everything I had, though, I ran like a maniac and got the hell out of there. Chinese cowboys and indians were chasing me across a field the size of a football field toward the plane. I was thinking, That pilot (Gus) better be there. When, true to his charge, he had been watching in case of a quick getaway. As honorable Chinese say, "Him-know-me-too-good." That one thing wasn't too complicated. Gus saw how frantic I was, and compassionately kicked me in the nuts to calm me down. Then taxied down the runway and we were in the air in no time, just making the border, and missing a mountain by that much.

On the way back, Gus asked me what the hell happened. I had to say, “Don’t ask, I don’t even know!” The only thing I knew was this was not a place I should've gone, not a task I should've accepted. I didn’t even remember what the stinking task was, or why on earth they'd tab me as the guy to do it. The only thought that kept running through my head was, “I can’t have these complications in my pathetic life!” No matter how important the mission is, friends, someone else has to do it. I can’t be expected to do so much. My personal life’s a mess as it is without a million other complications to keep track of. I’m not your boy, folks, draft some other schmuck...

As for China and her people, the Chinese, if I ever hear of them or from them again, it'll be something on my schedule that I personally and with malice aforethought told them not to put there.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Stupid Stars of YouTube Police Chase Videos

The police chasing you, how satisfying that must be!

It turns out there’s not much to do in my golden years. Yes, life's always complicated and a mess in certain ways. Grandma’s house was completely dismantled and carted off to the dump. The insurance is supposed to cover the damages, as long as I'm not found responsible for the bacteria getting a foothold, which later multiplied and consumed the place. In the meantime, I’m holed up in the Big City, trying my best to survive until the verdict. It’s a good life.

One of the things that makes my golden years more satisfying is my daily rendezvous with the seamier side of YouTube. Yes, I’m talking about police chase videos. I used to watch them occasionally on TV when they were live. But those were the local channels and local chases, only a few. Now I've got the world and many chases at my fingertips. So I'm glued to YouTube, rooting not only for the police but to a certain extent the bad guys. If he or she could only prolong the madness, so much nicer for me...

Of course I myself would never be involved in a police chase. All such crazy mistakes are totally beyond anything I'd do. Those people snapped. I don’t snap, I barely stretch. Really, I maintain something like a 3D omniscient perspective on what I could ever do, and knowing those limits, I don’t snap. If you ever hear of me doing something like that, read it again, it's someone else. One of these days I’m going to my grave, of course, but it won’t be from a chase on the freeway or the cops gunning me down when I'm trapped at a dead end.

That said, it's so extremely interesting that others aren’t as reserved. And that they have no restraint whatsoever when it comes to their personal safety, reputation, future, the law, and concern for others. How I was ever lucky enough in the wide time-frame of existence to be born into a world that would invent the internet and allow for YouTube and endless videos, I’ll never know. Big praise for whatever is Good, Eternal, and Ultimate out there, because I’m daily entertained by a never ending parade of total losers and schmucks.

In the last few days I’ve seen a man eluding the police for probably 20 minutes, a journey that eventually took him off the road and across various fields. Finally, he abandoned his vehicle and made his way into a river, in which he waded as best as he could. Then he was climbing on the bank, slipping in the mud. He was surrounded, but instead of wisely surrendering — all hope was lost — he optimistically persevered, stripping off the waterlogged rags that bound him. Until, if memory serves, he was mostly nude and still striving to slip and slide his escape, though he was only about five feet in front of the law. They captured him, duh. How do you spell D-U-M-B?

As alluded to above, there was another guy who starred in his own police chase, but lacked the foresight to not get trapped in a dead end cul-de-sac parking lot affair. But did he give up peacefully when every shred of hope was lost? Hell no! He had a truck eight feet wide and thought he might barrel it through a five foot gap between the police and a fence. Which meant it was his day to die, a very stupid death, no tears, no last rites. I did make a mental reminder, If I’m ever that stupid (and I won’t be), dear officers, aim for the heart!

The last chase I saw yesterday was mostly dismal, just another arguably mad woman on the interstate. It wasn’t memorable enough in and of itself to remember everything clearly, just more sheer stupidity run amok. I do remember when watching it that I was actually critical of the police, not understanding the method to their apparent madness. They kept surrounding the alleged perp, then pulling back. Which later looked like it was meant to give her the confidence of escape every time she had one apparent path of survival. So when she approached six lanes of the road with backed up traffic and one lane with a police car and the next lane open with a spike strip in it, the only close thing between her and precious freedom, she took it. (There were open lanes farther to the right, but she ignored those.)

Damn that mistake! Part of me wanted her to keep going, but most of me wanted it to end. Because these people are monumentally stupid and dangerous to others, they may as well be stopped. But she hit the spike strip, then was riding on the rims the rest of the way. She was quickly nabbed in a parking lot, unceremoniously captured, never to be heard from again.

It’d be a better world if people wouldn’t take their lives into their own hands like that, and of course if they weren’t endangering the rest of society. But I have no say on whether they do or not. Guys and gals, if they’ve been doing it till now, are likely to keep going ballistic, then ending up in complete and total trouble. I don’t know how they ever live it down. Any theories? I don’t know how they’re able to cope socially from that point on. They surely lose their license, but maybe it doesn’t matter. They didn’t follow the law before, why would they now?

As long as people go ballistic, I’ll be sitting here watching them, shaking my head, and saying to myself, “How can they be so stupid?” I’m also a little critical of the police, since with my superior brain I naturally always know better and can't believe it takes them so long to catch these perps. Do we not have the atomic bomb? Why should they live another stinking day?

Friday, December 21, 2018

To All The Children I Never Sired

Today's one of those bittersweet moments for me, not quite sweet, not quite bitter. Certainly sweeter when I’m not thinking about it, and a lot more bitter when I’m not not thinking about it, which I am now.

It could just be something that goes with the holiday season. All the little rugrats that would’ve gotten their little gifts from me over the years are once again not looking at anything under the tree. My shopping list remains unchecked, for there aren't any to list. Little Bertha, Edna, Tommy, Daniel, Wally, Florence, and Red, they’ve never seen the light of day, let alone worried about their gifts. Damn! That hits me hard, especially Red and Edna, two names I’ve always had a thing for.

I probably should leave this article for some other time, some better time. But when would that time come? That’d be just like me, shunting aside the pain and refusing to address it. But aren’t the holidays a time when you should be happy and raise hell, party, and blow party horns? That’s what I should be doing instead, not lamenting my lack of horny output, ruing my paucity of progeny. So there’s no hell-raising this year, no partying, with my party horn already blown, the opportunities all gone.

That’s something to think about. Are my opportunities really gone? This isn’t like women, you know, whose biological clock’s batttery’s shot by the time they’re 40. I’m a full fledged male person, and I’ve at least heard we’re capable of shootin’ the moon well into our 70s. But when it happens at 65-70 it’s a sad accident. Old man has sex, then a stroke, in that order, but with the last ounce of his life-force manages to squeeze out little Rodney. Who grows up always questioning ‘why Papa doesn’t live with us,’ then learns the bitter truth and ends up in a home for perplexed kids, eventually featured in TV ads for that home, begging for just 63 cents a day so other kids won’t lack a dad. What would they do with the money raised but fix old guys like me?

I’m glad I used the name Rodney. Since I hate that name and would never name a kid Rodney. That gives me some comfort, some shelter from this feeling of dread, the dread of lost opportunities. I hope it gives me not just that one step, but 10 steps toward leaving this terrible funk! Maybe I could think of what people who have kids go through. Childhood illnesses, injuries, mistakes, crimes, desires, various resentments, the whole slate of life’s misfortunes.

I was downtown the other day and saw some random beady-eyed shrimpy kid tramp looking at me, like “I’m gonna steal your wallet, mister.” Maybe it was my imagination, but I got the hell out of there, and reported him as a malevolent street urchin. He should be in jail now, and it’s a pity if he isn’t. He’s definitely some stupid dad’s kid! At least I haven’t given life to such a creature! I’m a good person...

That’s a good way to get rid of the pain, Eureka! Balance it out, the pain of nothing, no wild honyocks to worry about, and by none I mean nil ... against the pain of actual flesh and blood duplicates, who’d likely as not have deep-seated resentments of their own, and be just the kind of willful little morons who'd take it out on me mentally and physically for giving them life, and I would’ve been done in by now. The way kids are, I'd be a goner. Why would they allow me to live to a ripe old age? I’d be dead. A corpse rotting away...

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Homeless Seeking $ God Bless

With me in the Big City, everything's getting very real. Oh boy, what an eye-opener it is, the dregs of society. And that's just me, but there's plenty of others, standing on this corner, that corner, and of course freeway ramps. I thought of doing it, but don't want to get caught encroaching on another guy's territory.

I was staking out a place one day for panhandling, more like checking it out, trying to picture how I'd look this time of the day or that time. I don't want the sun in my eyes, definitely, and the less sunburn the better. I would want everyone to see me, if not for my financial benefit, then not to be run over. But I haven't brought myself to do it yet. I'm not up on the etiquette or logistics, and a big thing with me is doing it right.

In the picture above, the handwriting is from a couple signs I found. I expect they'll be a decent model for me for composing my own stuff. Even though I'm above average in religion, I don't think the religious approach toward an effective guilt trip is the best approach. Society's so secular these days, the tried and true assumptions of long-ago need to be updated. Frankly, instead of Jesus, I'd more readily mention Buddha or Hindu yogis. Because I think Big City people appreciate a global approach; it's beyond their expectations, which would probably pay rich dividends.

And look at the handwriting, just a damned scrawl. Which, I'll give 'em this, it's more effective than an overly-produced computer printout with picture-perfect fonts. But a certain amount of neatness counts. Too sloppy and the suspicion is you're too far gone to be helped. There's a happy medium between sloppy and overdone. Especially if you had a Buddha, let's say, and your handwriting recalled the mystic look of the East without being obscure. What would be really cool would be a Hindu ochre (orangish) robe and an occasional apparently-sincere mudra. Out in the open, naturally, chest high; you're not scratching your muladhara chakra by any means!

I've been watching a bunch of YouTube videos. And I came across a bunch of anti-panhandling guys there. Who park in the lonely corners of Walmart and zoom their cameras in on panhandlers infesting those environs. Who are there so often they've worn away the grass! You can't tell me that's a good look. Anyway, the YouTubers are doing real reconnaissance, documenting the panhandlers' lives and finding that quite a number of them aren't indigent in the least. Which they hold against them.

I guess I can sort of see their point. Which is that people who pretend to be homeless or pretend to be poor could very well be making it worse for others. First, am I homeless or poor? Well, going by the technicalities. I'm technically homeless as long as my house back home is leveled and they never get it fixed. There's so much mold, mildew, backed up sewage and odor, along with vermin, parasites, rats, and the occasional fly, that a guy is easily fed up with it. When I left the last time, those weren't dry heaves.

In the Big City, yes, yes, I have a place to stay. Big damned deal. There's more to being down on your luck than whether you're homeless or not. Yet you about have to use the word homeless on your sign, because, look at the problem, you can't have a sign too complicated. I couldn't tell everything about my dismantled house. It's funny, but I myself barely look at panhandlers at all, I definitely haven't got all day to read the signs. Sheesh, it's all words, words, words, meant to create an atmosphere and push buttons, not be to be technically true, like you'd have to be in a court of law. This is where the YouTube thought-police cross the line.

Remember, I haven't panhandled at all. So if I had, of course I'd have more knowledge on the subject, what's effective and what should be avoided. And I never give anyone anything, so I haven't had extensive contacts with them. (A little, which I'll mention later.*)

But speaking as a layman, I have to think you want to come across as totally personable, kind, soft spoken, sincere, and not apparently putting the squeeze on folks. Watch the eye contact -- not too much -- and respect people's boundaries and keep them comfortable. Oh yes, this is getting me excited. I'm rubbing my hands together even now in glee at the haul I'd no doubt make! Being the nicest guy you've ever met. I believe I come across as someone without a selfish bone in his body. If I were standing at the off ramp, I'm sure you'd see me as someone doing you a favor. I'm just so intrinsically honest and pleasant, begging would make me a millionaire overnight. My pockets bulging out, a big sack like Santa Claus on my back, so full of money I'd have to hire guards to walk me home. Very soon I'd be strictly turning away all change in favor of more lightweight bills. A matter of policy.

Eventually I'd use some of the money to buy better clothes. So I'm panhandling during the day, probably an hour tops would give me enough to live well, then I'd be out at fancy restaurants at night. In my new clothes, some of the same people would see me and think I looked familiar, but there's lots of guys who look sort of like me. If they approached me in my off hours, I'd raise my hands and giving them a solid no comprende every time. Nicely, of course.

*Here's the reference to the panhandler I met when I got to the Big City. I was out scavenging soda/beer cans and cashing them in at the salvage yard. And I got a bunch of cans under bridges, right near this guy who was panhandling day after day. I'd also already met another guy in his circle, who was going to help guide me on the Shamanic Path; I called him Wolf, he called me Grandpa. So I was in the vicinity of the bridge where Wolf said he lived, but he was gone. The panhandler was letting me know where Wolf went, which was "That way." In our other meetings, he told me the direction Wolf went, "That way," and that was nice. I don't think my panhandler is rich, etc., but maybe he does go home at night to a nice place. I wouldn't begrudge him that. It'd be great.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Junk Calls -- We Must Be Merciless

You probably saw me at one of the local parks here in the Big City, standing on a boulder, holding forth in speeches and one-on-ones with others against junk phone calls and messages. I kept going till I lost my voice, and it wasn't easy. Because some of the junk call centers knew all about it, and dropped by to plot a little revenge on me and my allies with junk calls even as we rallied. They know their time is short, but only IF...

Yes, IF... Friends, I remember when I was little, an old man took me aside and told me IF is the biggest word in the English language. That baffled my ignorant little hayseed self, leaving me entirely confused and in a daze of stymied mentality, yet trying desperately to put it together in my minced-meat state of mind, still so common yet today when new truths batter my ramparts seeking entry. The old geezer said, "Son, IF is the biggest word in the English language, because it's so hard for people to believe they have the power to accomplish anything. IF only this, IF only that ... and the motion fails for lack of a second." He went away cackling, but I pondered it...

True, true, so true. Nothing gets done, but IF we came together. Let's say we actually joined forces and did something. Say we hogtied the political forces that are against progress. Say we then hornswoggled them beyond that. Then blindfolded them and sent them to a deserted island on the north pole of Mars. Finally, at long last, we'd be able to get something done. What would it be? you're wondering. Finding a cure for cancer? Medicare for all? Humanity's hope for worldwide peace? Yes, yes, yes, all those things in good order. It'd all get done...

But first, we'd take on the junk call industry. I don't have to recount for any of you the scourge the junk call industry is to human society. You know it in all its pathetic vastness on a daily basis, with daily intimacy. We finally secured the miracle of phones for everyone, a phone in every pocket, unlimited calls with a relatively low monthly fee, messages up the wazoo for everyone. You can message someone, "W'sup?" and they know just what you mean. You're in intimate contact with everyone you want, anytime you want, no holds barred. And what do we get? Junk calls!

Well, whatever they're selling, I'm not buying. But they keep calling. You're watching TV, you're out sightseeing, you're sitting in church, you're stripped down in a sauna, and there goes your phone yet again. Someone from out-of-state, someone spoofing the area code and local prefix where they think you live, etc., all trying to cheat you out of something, and definitely screw you out of your time and energy. It's depressing. But my hope is that Society will become mean enough, bad enough, and angry enough to finally put the screws to the junk call industry once and for all. Close 'em down, and if they try to come up for air, cut off their air, and let 'em die!

Are you with me? You are, unless you're one of 'em. Tell me you're not one of 'em. But if you are with me, here's the plan: We mobilize, we tell our representatives, senators, the president, the first lady, whoever, this has to be the priority. And it can be. Remember World War II? We mobilized and made the world safe enough to have unlimited babies, the Baby Boom. Remember the Interstate Highway project? One day we decided to do it, the next week there were super highways everywhere. A week later they were clogged and needed work. But they were great that first week.

We can bring that same determination and resolve to shutting down the junk call industry, to jail the bosses, to rehabilitate our fellow citizens desperate enough to take jobs pushing their buttons, and then to burn down the entire works. Saving only a few of their evil computers and other infernal equipment in museums, explaining how humanity was attacked and yet rallied against them.

The last thing I want to get is a junk call. It rings -- oh, it's a junk call, click the button, don't take the call. But why should any of us be doing that day after day, continually, without a break? We shouldn't. Those were the calls that were supposed to be illegal all along, because it wastes your minutes. Even with unlimited minutes, it's still wasting my minutes. Shut the industry down!

If they won't shut it down for those reasons, the next thing is to treat it like an invasion of rats or the spread of the plague. With merciless combat. The plague, I don't know how we'd combat that, but we wouldn't be happy. Some of us would be standing on picnic tables, our pants legs rolled up. The rest would be carrying super-powered blast cannons, or makeshift blowtorches, doing major damage against those ugly little rodent bodies. I'd love blasting them, but I have to admit, I'd need a break; I'm seriously prone to the vertigo that comes from the same patterns over and over and the weird shifting it'd have to be with rats dashing helter-skelter everywhere.

Merciless, though, that's the key word Society needs to know. Because there's nothing beneficial to society about junk calls. Beyond the salaries the various ones get as they do their dirty work. But those who don't go to prison could find gainful employment doing something else, maybe serving as lunch ladies in middle schools. Since they're already used to a bad reputation. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Speed Reading Bixby

Wow! Even I can't believe the speed I'm attaining -- and the intellectual fruits of my labors -- when it comes to reading Bixby! It's awesome, good, and extremely decent. I'm so proud, I feel like polishing my fist and shining it on my sweater. And if I don't get a grip on myself, that's precisely what I might do. Ha ha, it's funny, every time I'm doing something proud like that, someone inevitably walks in on me and I'm embarrassed. She shows up at the door -- the lady across the hall -- and there I am, either rearranging myself after going to the bathroom or polishing my damned fist from some new accomplishment.

And I've actually been down in the dumps, too, you know, with all the personal commotion I've experienced in the never ending travails of Grandma's house needing major repairs. They literally put me out, physically picked me up and set me in the street, off my own property! You tell me, is that fair? Of course it's not fair. You think you own a property and that's when "The Man" shows you who's really boss. "You are officially evicted, get the hell off this land, get out of town, goodbye, good riddance, and if we never hear from you, so much the better." The bastards. Of course they want the quarterly property tax payment, pay up, pay up. But what would I be paying for? I can't live there. It's a mess. OK? So any little thing I can feel proud about, stand back and let me indulge myself...

Anyway, here I am in the Big City, and the lady across the hall is always showing up to make sure I haven't stolen something, I guess. I never steal anything, of course, but in these fleabag quarters the first thing they haven't got is trust. They don't trust nobody. If the Good Lord Himself showed up, they'd need to see the scars on His hands, His side, and if He ever had His appendix out, that scar too! Such bastards, treating the Lord and me like this. But what can I do? Life is one indignity after another, no delay, no slowdown, no dragging its feet, instant! Just like that...

So what am I so proud of today? A new speed reading technique I came up with for reading Bixby! You probably don't realize that an intrinsically smart dude like me is also a very slow reader. But it's true. I've started so many books, gotten to about page 3, then given up. Every book in my library's the same old story. If you ask me what happened in the first three pages, I'm a scholar. But you want a quick synopsis of page 5, you'll have to give me a few minutes. I just can't read fast, page 4, page 5, page 6, none of it, including Bixby! This is the truth, so help me.

My speed reading technique, then... Take a look at the pile of words in the next paragraph. Looks like nothing more than a jumble of letters at first glance. But once you know your goal, which is speed reading Bixby as fast as you can, you've got it. My eyes travel the page like a dog to hamburger, just faster than the speed of light. With barely room for improvement.

Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby Bixby

The technique is multi-faceted. Leave out all punctuation, first. Then pile the Bixbys in there good and thick, terribly thick, just as many as you feel like you can read. When you do it just right, you're not only reading them at lightning speed, your comprehension is through the roof. Like the chimney on my house used to be before they took out it and the roof. But that's sorrow for another day.

Because today I'm happy! I've finally discovered a technique that is all that and more, more than I could've dreamt of. Although, you never know, I might fall asleep and dream of something equally great. Don't put it past me. 'Cause those who doubt me, like this old shrew of a neighbor on my ass, are doomed to keep speed reading Bixby the old fashioned way, i.e., slooooooow as molasses.

Here's another paragraph to test out the technique. I have to admit, I'm not getting the same speed I got with Bixby, but it's still pretty darned good. But I keep stumbling over Walter; Walter seems to break my pace. Here's my solution: I speed read everything else first, then go back and pick up all the Walters in quick sequence.

Fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter fricassee shivaree curiositee chef boi ardee Walter.

Or you could just say Walter eight times fast, then speed read the rest, speed skipping the Walters. My comprehension increases something huge when I do it that way.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Pink Professor -- Public Menace Exposed

The so-called "public menace" exposed was me, not the Pink Professor. But he was there in our hometown rooting for me, and more importantly in my heart, helping me recall the Three R's of Group Dynamics when push came to shove. With the City Fathers, then their wives.

While back for Thanksgiving, I went by the house, my legacy from my grandparents. Pieces of it were scattered here and there, leaning against trees. The guys working on it had been trying to kill vermin by drying it in the sun. Except rain and snow were forecast, giving the vermin new life and hope.

I touched the kitchen wall. Lots of memories there. Forever the self-conscious type, I thought what this pathetic scene would look like in a movie. A theater full of mournful people, no doubt. I can really "cut the rug" when it comes to a beaten and bruised look. The pathos was so overwhelming, I shed a tear, then flicked it toward the road.

I thought, "If that wall could talk..." And it just might, with a few more eons of time and the correlate evolutionary development of this current infestation. By then, though, it’ll be too late for me, but maybe my distant kin can stick it out and finally make peace with the hidden world. Think of it as a message in a contaminated bottle.

Speaking of messages, I suddenly saw an official summons nailed to the outhouse door! Nice touch, City Fathers! Way to drive home your point: That an antique shit-house door, decommissioned since the mid-'60s and kept as a family heirloom, is fitter to summonses me than the actual door of my decrepit house!

I appeared at City Hall, where they put me through a chemical bath protocol, after which they lambasted me for my many alleged failures as a property-owner. I tried not to take it personally, but it truly was a slam to my ego. I hadn’t felt that low since the time Santa Claus brought me fruitcake instead of a Winchester rifle.

But the best way to take rock bottom is with equanimity, then a strategy. I knew what these perverts were up to. All around were one-way mirrors, and that told the whole story. I knew their wives and/or mistresses were viewing the whole pathetic scene. These under-performing “men”, no doubt limp dishrags where it counts, yearned to be hot stuff for the ladies. Who, if you want to know my actual surmise, were going at it among themselves right there, within five feet of us!

I looked toward the mirrors and boldly called them out, much to the surprise of the City Fathers, and finally a door opened. The mayor’s young wife was so hot she refused to cover herself. I was honestly touched, but had to play this thing real cagey. Because once I had 'em where I wanted 'em, I couldn't lose 'em now.

Quickly, with my group dynamics skills centered on the 3 R's, I improvised. The 1) aRrangement was a given, they were already in my grasp; I had only to maintain confidence. 2) Reconnoitering the situation was also a breeze. I encouraged the City Fathers with unfeigned friendliness and understanding: “Men, all of us can get off on this deal, have no fear, brothers. If you condemn the various properties around my house, say within a mile, that'll take care of our health issues. Then use your abundant tax dollars to restore my house to livability. It'll be win/win all around. And, finally, exercise your power over me here and now. Yes, yes, work it, work it! Yes, Mr. Mayor, that’s the way! And now you others, have no shame, be bold, it's nature's way! Gentlemen, ladies, let us come together, let the sexes commingle as they should, in absolute freedom and abandon!” This was my strategy.

And it was the first real excitement these guys had known since D-Day, or maybe the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, and indeed we all got off, me first playing the role as their punching bag, which I played to the hilt, plenty of faux-worship of their royal majesties. Their darling wives were also entirely accommodating, fully into it. I hadn't seen this level of abandon since what? Debbie Does Dallas? I also was happy to engage myself in the Third R of Group Dynamics, Ruminating. Which I did on the fly, and everything under the fly. "That's it, Mrs. Mayor, show your Old Daddy who's your New Daddy," whack whack, just being playful. With enough reserve they'd know they were still boss...

I can only imagine what went on later when they were all out to dinner, celebrating the rebirth of their libidos, then what transpired at home. But I distinctly heard fire whistles blowing late into the night for something. Those dear souls had been backed up for decades, but now blared their resurrection, as all men should, yearning to make it known for the ages. If only it helps me with my house...

In the morning, I kissed the Pink Professor and gave him my last ta-ta’s and got the hell back to the Big City.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Pink Professor -- How Much More?

Whatever happened to The Pink Professor? That's the Number One question I get, and on a daily basis. At the grocery store, swimming pool, Tupperware parties, garage sales, talking with homeless friends under the bridge in the Big City, and really everywhere. And if someone asks me in daily life, I just tell them. But on the blog it has to be different. Because he told me he’d rather I wasn't spreading his personal business online. Of course, him being him, he said it in a nice way, but me being me, I find the nasty edge of every “friendly request.” You don’t call something a “friendly request” unless you know damn-well there’s nasty ways I can take it. But I can never stay mad at him...

Anyway, I told him the problem I face -- insatiable public curiosity -- and he gave me leeway to say a few things about what he’s up to. Even though he doesn’t want anything down and dirty, anything resembling the full scoop, any relationship dishing, which probably includes pillow talk. (He's into tickling me till I about pee my jammas to make me tell him everything on my mind.) So are you game for something boring, his favorite party recipes, and aspirations as a child?

He probably always had his sights on being a professor. Smart kids like him, they know what they want to be. I'm still flailing about in that area. Now 65, I retired from odd jobs, all boring. He recently retired from the university, but kept his nighttime gig as the Pink Professor figure at the Roadhouse; his great virtue is he's a softening influence in such tough environs. His favorite party recipe: nachos and salsa, heated 23 seconds in the microwave.

As far as our relationship, we're OK. And I want to keep it that way, going out of my way to keep his personal business personal. But again, I can say a few things without being too invasive, like the fact that he wears baby-soft PJs to bed, but prefers me au naturel.

But let me bring this back to his work: it's no secret that he's a great reconciler, like when two morons are fighting over scoring a game of pool. Pink always soothes the troubled waters; he's a bridge over them. When I'm around, I serve as a complement to him, with my ability to cast insults with reckless abandon and eschew the bitter consequences of my actions. Then he does his soft-shoe thing again and everyone can see how mellow he truly is. In our personal time, though, once I've had my fill of the Eskimo-nose cuteness, I bust.

One of the things that pushes me over the edge is him allowing himself to be used by these Roadhouse creatures. I get that he has a mission, but everyone needs their space. And if it takes a person — a do-gooder without an off button — till the middle of the night to reconcile the divvying up of a bushel of bar peanuts in the shell, who am I to bitch and moan? I’ve heard (and don’t hold me to this) that other people keep more regular hours, with the wee hours of the morning pretty much to themselves. They’re not on the hook for calls to negotiate the terms of a flagrant motorcycle absconder making restitution or other legal arrangements to get out of eight months in jail when it’d probably be to their ultimate benefit to actually do a little time; it'd teach them a lesson, that you do the crime, you also have to do ... whatever-it-is...

Because the rest of us have a life, too. Most of us grew up respecting the generous boundaries of the law. And if you don’t feel like doing that, then don’t expect the rest of us to be there round-the-clock to bail your sorry ass out, thereby curtailing our lives together — when maybe we had other plans, ever heard of that? And what if we simply don’t want to be wasting our time with the dregs of so-called humanity that wouldn’t have two brain cells to rub together were Einstein himself their nursemaid. Spare me, folks, the pleas of "Humanity!" That went down with the Hindenburg, and the less I hear of it in these modern times -- possibly the end of days -- the better.

Yes, I reached the boiling point a long time ago! And now I say, How Much More?! Leave the Pink Professor alone! In fact -- let me put this out there! -- if I hear of just one more motorcycle loser cracking peanuts in the crook of his arm, then stealing someone’s woman because of this great bar trick, then having his own noggin cracked open in the ensuing melee, then needing a 24-7 nursemaid for his precious care lest he bleed to death or find himself in unremitting convulsions — Call Pink Professor Hand-Holding Unlimited day or night — I will scream, then find myself on an interminable stampede, stomping heads in a certain all night bar and grill! You don’t think I know how to knock heads, do you? Well, you try me -- you heard me, just try me! I start stomping, I don't quit! Because I've had it. I’m up to here with it, and according to sources, I’m liable to snap. That's right, you heard me, losers: I'm this close -- you see this? -- you see what I am? Just that close! This old ME! ME! ME! shit's gotta cease...

Frankly, friends, I believe the Pink Professor is overworked. But I’m sure it'll all work out in some way for the best. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Pink Professor -- Rabble At The Door

Don't you just despise the rabble of mankind? Yes, yes, thank you, me, too; they can be the worst! And it seems like it always goes something like this: A benevolent patron blesses their lives a few times, then they get spoiled, then he's out of sight for a while, and when they find him, they're right back, clamoring, begging for favors.

It's so awful because the Pink Professor lives his life for service. He really does. That's one of the things that drove us sort-of halfway apart. He has a hard time staying home. The guys at the Roadhog Roadhouse always need him. Most of the time they want to burden him with their halfwit problems, like how to scrounge up enough dough to drink themselves into a stupor, or worse, women problems. It’s pathetic that that's such a problem for these guys; those women are robbing you blind; stay sober and you might notice it!

Pink and I were out for Thanksgiving and there the rabble was. We dropped by DQ for a taste of their divine ice milk creations and there they were. And later we were at his pad/compound for a little R&R and catching up, and, damned right, there they were. In honor of Thanksgiving, get a life, turkeys!

Pink and I tried to stay in good humor as they pounded at the doors and windows, clamoring for his attention. Which got old fast. The rattling of the gates, the pitchforks, the burning torches. We get the point! You have needs! Still, we tried to cuddle and take in some well-deserved "me time," till finally I erupted, “If I hear one more of those awful bar and grill creatures shouting ‘PINK PROFESSOR!’, I’m liable to explode! And I don’t mean in a good way!...”

Maybe my crying out toned them down. The racket died down. But most of them had retired to the park across the street to strategize. When Pink said, “Could I ask you a professional question, not on the clock?”

ME: “Shoot, darling ... anything.” PP: “As the King of Group Dynamics, what do you think is the best way to fend off a clamoring mob?” This brought me to a whole different mindset. Involving the many nuances contained in my Three R's of Group Dynamics: aRrange, Reconnoiter, and Ruminate.

ME: “Hmm. My mind’s still a little flush after ... our exertions ... but let me think, darling. Well, the verdict is not 100% bad, but damn near. Let’s apply the 3 R’s of Group Dynamics. It’s tough to (1) aRrange, because we’re locked in the compound — albeit cuddled up snugly in this warm bed, a feather bed if the sensors of my nude supple body have kept their suppleness, and at 65 and half dead that’s not a given... We also have limits aRranging, because they’re a mad clamoring mob, different from my controlled seminars. We can do (2) Reconnoitering well enough, within limits, patching into the compound’s video system, also outfitted with a live audio feed, giving us the ability to both see and hear, with the luxury of not needing the encumbrance of clothing or the inconvenience of climbing out of this comfy, sumptuous bed. And, naturally, (3) Ruminating follows easily enough. What are they saying? What is their tone? How sharp are those mattocks they’re waving? Should we release the hounds? By the way, you fed the dogs last night? Right?

Pink jumped up and ran to the pen where the dogs were — some vicious breed, the exact name of which I forget, but they might be related to rabid dingoes (dingoes aren’t susceptible to rabies, but with reverse engineering, some natural immunities are overcome.) As PP hied it out of that warm moist bed, I thought of the Tom Jones album, What was it, “If You Got ‘Em, Swing ‘Em”? "Hung Like Iron?" "All Pendulum, No Clock?” Let me Google it, oh yeah, “The Lead and How to Swing It.” Take your pick, it’s all verrrry good, dahling.

He came back with a guilty look of responsibility on his finely chiseled face, practically a rock jaw in motion, pleasant to a fault. “I slipped on the pee mop [used for the dingo creatures] and hit the switch, and the dogs lunged through the aperture, the swinging door, and ... and ...” I waited, afraid for what he might say, “and we won’t need dog food for a while.” Great news all around!

I brought us back to our conversation on Group Dynamics. "In this case, our aRranging took care of the problem, however brief the respite may be." Because having that particular breed of animal running the streets en masse could have further consequences. But let's say they ran for the country, hunters will get them. I certainly wasn't going out to Reconnoiter them, I Ruminated.

The compound back on lock-down, we locked-down ... in the chamber of privacy ... a feather bed whose origin was surely a serious blow to numerous bird species ... And pulled the curtains ... tightly ... around that bed of wonders ... And that’s all she wrote, all she dared share when putting quill to parchment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Celebrate Guns With Me

Guns, guns, guns. Please don't pop my bubble by saying there's something wrong with guns. Guns are great, society sucks. We really should do something so psychotics aren't given free access. That's common sense, like forbidding rabid dogs from sleeping in your children's rooms. But for those of us who are "normal," i.e., not at all given to shooting up schools or hospitals or even pointing guns at another human being unless entirely in self-defense or war, they're OK.

One of the things we always had in my family was guns, shotguns and rifles. They were just communal hunting guns. No one had his own gun. They were on the rack, and of course when you had something to shoot, you went over and got a gun to do the shooting. I said we never pointed them at another person. Not even accidentally; you're supposed to be entirely aware of your environment. But one of the last times I was ever out hunting with Dad, he was an older guy, I was a full grown adult. And we heard some shooting, and these idiot bastards were shooting at a pheasant as we had come over the hill. It was up to those bastards to be aware of their surroundings. We were both aghast.

I don’t even have a gun now. And here I am in The Big City, with enough crime, everyone can have their share, while they work on Grandma’s house, trying to restore it to minimal livability; it’s somehow become a shambles, enough bacteria in there to make a Petri dish blush. Just give up and retire the science biz all together. Not to mention the mold, reportedly bad for your lungs and other living parts. Mold doesn’t know the typical restrictions against it in life. It has its life and its ways, and the rest of us be damned! “We mold have free reign over the world!” Like those idiots coming over the hill with their guns.

OK, I don’t have a gun, as I said. I had a rifle and shotgun, but I pawned them and bought BBQ pork ribs with the money. I’ve looked at guns while shopping a few times since, then always come to the same conclusion, I’d probably end up dying with a gun trying to defend myself and property, just the opposite of what I want. Whereas, yielding a little, not heightening any confrontation is generally the best path to survival. The path to survival is not guaranteed, of course, when there’s bad hombres afoot. But I’m in only one place and hombres have a billion places to be.

Still, I do celebrate guns, mostly by way of memory. Cousins and their guns, shooting up the timber, making it unsafe for any living thing. That taught me a lesson. Too much shooting, nothing wants to be near you. Making your own shells, that’s enlightenment; given the proper tools, you definitely have the power. And other silly stuff about guns. We used to have a kid in the neighborhood who’d shoot us in the back with his BB gun, not often, but more often than parents would want to know about. I think that guy’s probably a decent guy. Last time I heard he was still alive, but we’re not in the same circles. If I ever see him coming, though, even though I celebrate guns as a thing (family history, etc.), he’ll have to disarm before we get together.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Lifelong Learning Is Da Bomb

We can all agree, lifelong learning is great. I've been a lifelong learner nearly all my life. I was sick a few days as a kid and didn't learn anything those days. But mostly -- 90% of my life take away those few days -- I've been learning new things.

One thing I learned is that everyone's different, that is, everyone I've met, a relatively few people; they've all been different. Most of them were as dumb as the next guy, but I didn't tell them. I did what is proper, kept the insults to myself. Some of them wouldn't have understood anyway. Those are the people I try to not have much to do with. On the other hand, it's equally bad to have people around smarter than me. Thankfully, again, we're only talking a few folks, a couple people. Know the feeling?

So how much do I know? How am I supposed to answer that? I know enough to eat when I'm hungry, sleep when I'm tired, stretch when I yawn, and go to the bathroom, usually. And I'm smart enough, if I miss, I take my pants off and wash them. Me being extremely smart might not be literally true. But I am smart enough to know how dumb I am, which at times is damned dumb. So I'm smarter than most.

Lifetime learning, though, that's what we need, right? A few years ago I took the training to be a substitute teacher. Week after week -- what was it, a grueling 8 weeks on Saturdays -- I sat there with other prospective substitute teachers. They gave us in lurid detail the horror stories that go with the profession, but I stuck with it. They had us in the classroom, just observing, and I kept going, right up to the moment when I got the paper saying I passed and was qualified. The biggest thing I learned, without even doing it, is being a substitute teacher is no life for me. The key thing is, I learned the craft, and learned I wanted no part of it.

Now here I sit -- hiding out in the Big City as they work on Grandma's house, overrun with vermin both visible and invisible -- and I continue to learn. I was at one of the libraries and was reading on how you get the taxpayers to pay for house repairs, and believe me, this is going to be one huge bill! Because they have to gut the entire place. Every wall needs replaced, as well as the foundation, and of course the roof. I'm guessing I'll need new wallpaper, and I’ll be shocked if that backed up toilet makes the cut. The library info laid out the attitude I need when I show up at the governor's office with the bill: Start crying before I go in, look her straight in the eye, and beg for mercy.

But the biggest thing I want to share today has to do with you, not me. I want you to get out there, my friends, and get with it! You haven't learned everything you can. With lifelong learning, you'll have more satisfaction, a greater sense of self-worth, and the ability to truly shine in a world of dullards, dopes, and dummies. Just knowing anything, you'll run circles around almost everyone you meet. Just knowing next to nothing you'll be the smartest guy in town. On the other hand, say you've done your level best and everyone's still smarter than you, give up.

I'll give you a great example of lifelong learning, from a couple guys I knew, Clem and the Judge.

Clem was hanging out at his shack. And someone was at the door. He yells, "Hang on, I'm coming!" Then he gets there and, oh, it's the Judge. And what was that look in the Judge's eye, as he led Clem out, away from home into and through the trees, then up into the heights, the glories of nature north of the Big City? Hmm, something to learn more about...

Clem sees what's happening and goes, "Oh, Judge! You naughty naughty man! I think I might lose control of my temperament. I'm breathing much faster and deeper than usual. I might've just found my true calling, yodel-lay! Lifelong learning really turns me on... It's amazing, I swear I'm flush, a little dizzy, but loving it! Yes, yes, yes, I must experience more and more lifelong learning! It's such a rush, my right hand has relinquished the rose you gave me; it's fallen 100 feet to the valley..."

He suddenly thinks maybe the Judge did indeed mean "book learning" for him, and says, “I'm reaching in my pocket for a dictionary to learn more..." But, no, he was right the first time, the Judge had other things on his mind. "What, Judge? You're flipping me over instead? Is this global warming I feel, climactic change? What a huge difference it makes! Oh, oh! Let me drop these suspenders over the cliff, sir! Now, go for it, Judge, yes, latch on to the hair on the back of my neck with your teeth, yes, that's it, perrrrfect leverage, what big beautiful solid white teeth you have --- OH OH OH, yessss sir! You really know what you're doing! Lifelong learning is da bomb!!!"

We can agree today. The wisdom of Clem is the real deal: Lifelong learning indeed done be da bomb.

Friday, November 16, 2018

No Mercy For Vermin

What ever happened to me? How did I develop this pathological sense of mercy for everything? I’m trying to trace it back. If it’s compassion, when did this travesty called compassion take its evil root?

I should’ve learned the sayings that life offers for wisdom, and heeded them. “Give her an inch, she’ll take a mile” is a good one. Pretty soon it’s a little more, then a little more, then a little more, till there's nothing left. Which applies to me, too; if I get anything at all, of course I want more. And next thing I know I’m bloated and floating away.

For some reason I’m thinking of Willy Wonka, which I don’t know very well. But there’s a kid in that that bloats up similarly to the way I would’ve, except I don’t think he floats away. I know Moe bloats up and floats away, Three Stooges. He falls into some rubber mix, which quickly adheres and dries, then the others pump this suit of rubber slime full of air, and off he goes. You have to be lighter than air, or lighter than the amount of air they’ve pumped into your rubber suit. Good lesson to remember.

Back to vermin. I really am sympathetic — more than I need to be, anyway — to all creatures. But it doesn’t happen the same way every time for every creature. Compassion, it kicks in. Then I kill a fly instantly; they’re bugging me. I whack 'em dead. But in that case, my compassion is the quick killing. I’m not dismembering them slowly. Although I did have some fly paper strips, briefly, which ended up catching 10-12 flies. They didn’t appear to suffer, which was a true concern of mine.

Why? Why? O, why? I guess that’s the way bleeding hearts are wired. But now it’s gotten me in a jam; Grandma's house went to pot. Although, the full truth is more complicated. It’s not that I’m just so compassionate I can’t kill vermin en masse. But when it comes to vermin, there’s more to it than “kill or not kill.” There’s how it needs to be done, and not so much for their sake but for your house. You could kill vermin wholesale by burning your house down. Saves money on expensive treatments, return visits, etc. The huge downside, Bye Bye House.

So therein it is, the meat of the goody, problemo numero uno. A potentially complicated route to deal with vermin. You have to go to Vermin School, then they make you an Exterminator Extraordinaire, conferring on you various honors, titles, certifications, and finally a state license. You see a fly at 40 paces, you know its province, ways and mores, how it responds to the many elements of life, from sugar to rat poison. Really, how often have you see flies, for example, land on rat poison, and presumably eat their fill, and fly away, and not harmed in the slightest? Either they know when to say when, or there’s something in their constitution keeping them fit.

And it’s the same with rats. A rat could get tangled up in fly paper — I actually had it on my hand and it took three or four washing to knock it down to only moderately sticky — and not get away. But there’d be nothing lethal about the coating. Just being tangled up would be the worst of it. Then he gets back to the nest and rolls around in your house’s insulation, and keeps going like that for about three hours, and suddenly he's a furry possum.

I had possums coming in the yard and killing the chickens. Greedy little bastards thought they had the right to take food for their own sustenance, right under my nose! The way I handled those verminous (and ugly) possums was with a shotgun, or rifle, can’t remember which.

The honest way I should’ve handled the vermin, that have 99% destroyed Grandma’s house, is to pour money into better and different exterminators. Better, because with education the newer guys replace the old guys set in their ways. And different, because many minds have many possible solutions, not just the old tried and fail methods of Rex down the road with the same old poisons he was using in the ‘40s. These are cyborg vermin, not the happy-go-lucky vermin Rex knew and probably drank with after hours.

That’s probably it. The exterminator (Rex, in this case) saw the symbiotic relationship he had with vermin. They were his living, and if they died, he’d die too. So he knew the old ‘40s methods had long been surpassed by cyborg vermin, etc., etc., with the terrible ending that now Grandma’s house is shit and I’m out. The new guys won’t be calling Rex or his sons. No, they’ve got canisters on their backs, masks, hoods, and big guns like Electrolux vacuums. With the same motives as Rex, making it mysterious enough to keep their business secure. But they have such a larger field of business, because the old-timers screwed us up for decades.

Bottom line: Compassion is passé, kill everything in sight.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Big City -- Cats and Sirens

By now you know I'm living in the Big City. I was in a medium-sized town, and if they ever get my house fixed I'll go back. But the place became a nasty shambles, thanks to something, I don't know what all, unless it was simple neglect on my part. OK, I'll cop to a little bit of the blame, but the place wasn't that great ever. It was there before I was born, and who knows what all happened to it! I know a tree fell on it sometime in the '40s. So that's not a good start for me; they shouldn't have built it so close to where trees would grow.

Other than that damage, there's these little critters called vermin, that come in assorted sizes and descriptions, all of them bad. They range from microbes, the hardest things in the world to see, to out and out rats. You see one rat, you never want to see another. They're terrible -- believe me -- when they disappear under something and you don't know where they went. They're under there looking at you. Little red eyes. And to think I used to shoot them with bow and arrow at the city dump. That was fun. I didn't realize they were nasty as they wanna be.

Anyway, the town's trying to garnish my Social Security on some of the forced improvements on the house, even though I'm perfectly happy to let them do the work and bill it to taxpayers. I'm sure most of my readers can appreciate that. It's not that I'm irresponsible, it's just I have the good sense not to let responsibility go to my head. They can pay the bill and write it off, easy. Say they don't make improvements on the city park for a couple years. Right there you're looking at a couple thousand bucks.

So, the actual fact of the matter is, I got the hell out of there. I'm trusting you guys not to turn me in. And I went where no one can find me. I don't care if they search a thousand years. Notice I'm not saying which Big City I'm in. There's so many places to hide here, sometimes even I'm lost. But, and this is brilliant, I'm constantly going around in plain sight, and no one notices. You vanish in plain sight in a place this big! Ha ha, I laugh about it day and night, and just to rub it in, I finger in the general direction of my old town. Take that, you clueless morons!

There is one little problem. I want to hide whenever I hear a siren, but in the Big City there's so many sirens -- it's nearly a constant cacophony. Different from home, where the noon and 5:00 whistle's about it. In the Big City, I'm very tuned in to the sirens. They have the WAH WAH, WHOOP WHOOP, WEEEEE, and several others I'm trying to forget. The nearest thing we have to it back home are the howling cats. Remember, I said there's rats. Well, where there's rats, there's cats. Sitting on the fence, profiled in the moonlight, howling all night, signalling one another where the nearest rat was spotted.

I miss all that, compared to the constant sirens.

I picture these Barney Fife PO-lice learning their siren technique in training school. Itching to get out there and make their mark in the world. (Let's say they're library police, like where I am right now typing this. They'd love to get out there and hit the siren!) Anyway, the old PO-lice professor at the training center is a big man in their estimation. “You men — and I see we also have some women cadets in this modern age — have a grave responsibility to carry out. Not only to learn the siren, but to be the siren. The siren's message is our message to the community. You’re telling them there’s trouble, get the heck out of the way. And if you’re sleeping, wake up, look out the window, we’re about to come speeding by. We’ll never tell you what we're doing, or whether it was accomplished, but you can rest assured (in the minutes between now and the next siren) that it was something important. When you push that button, or twist that gadget, men, and you ladies, that’s your own wake up call to every neighborhood between here and the outskirts of the city -- 35 miles away -- telling one and all, 'I will get my man.'"

The whole crime-fighting business has that as its biggest goal, to make society safe enough, that — if the Almighty allows, and He hasn’t so far — we can get a night of sound sleep without the sirens howling, blaring, and otherwise announcing their noxious presence with predictable regularity. Could it be that day is in sight, perhaps just over the next hill, or yonder mountain and horizon, person, place, or thing? Maybe yes, maybe no. Certainly it won’t be today, so let the sirens blow!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Veronica's Magical World

I used to have an old friend, Veronica, who would take (partial) credit for it being a sunny day. “See what my prayers did?” she'd say, pointing happily around. The weather wasn’t her only spiritual talent; she saw herself as key to a lot of positive aspects of life. I thought, maybe yes, probably no. But what can you say, “Hey, great job!” I always wondered how she could think that way, but it was OK.

My problem, if you'd call it a problem, is I’m more "realistic," but it's my own realism; her outlook to her was also realistic. I never gave her much credit, but I could be wrong; everything I think isn't a fact. Maybe she was right. Because there’s all kinds of scientific ways to demonstrate that the world isn’t what it seems to be. Just get a microscope and look. I wouldn't mind thinking how Veronica thought, if people around me could stand it.

We got the first snow of the season. Minor, so far, and it’s still coming down. And I had to remark, “See what my prayers didn't do,” since I didn’t want it to snow. But maybe Veronica, now passed on, wherever she is — heaven — thought I wanted or needed snow. It’s interesting she didn’t think that in August when it was so hot, but instead waited till November when it’s not so rare.

Still, even if there’s nothing to it, that seems like a good way to think, if you can manage it. It's hyper-optimistic. If I could just think that every little thing is happening just for me, that’d be a happy world. I wouldn’t have to tell everyone, of course, like going around taking credit for it. Say a family was in a 10-car pileup on the interstate because of the snow, I’d hate to have them show up at my door with legal claims. So I’d try not to take all the credit. 

OK, let’s say I indeed have Veronica in heaven, still doing the same things she did in daily life, praying for sunny days and favors, then joyfully claiming the results as her own. I could let this blog be a plea to my other friends and loved ones who have passed to also pitch in. I could get up and think what I want, knowing they heard my thoughts. But if there is a one-to-one ratio on wanting and getting, I could just leave out the dead middleman and pray it myself.

What would be even better than passed-on advocates in heaven would be their actual presence along side me. Then every little thing I saw, I could credit one or another of them. I see a candle flicker, that’s Mom passing by. "Hi, Mom, how ya doin'?" Or I’m taking a bath and think, “No reason to waste water,” that has to be my Dad. I had a best friend who died around a year ago. I’d actually love him doing a few funny things in my life. Like giving me better blog ideas. In my opinion he was a genius.

Hmm, for some reason the sun just went down, sunk in a second! ... and it’s only 2:00 in the afternoon. It’s pitch dark and it was bright as noon five minutes ago. Never mind wondering what’s going on, excited scientists. It’s just Veronica telling me, I need more rest. Good night, one and all!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Re-Elect Gus Grissle Dog Catcher

In these troubled times, with the Republican party the scum of the earth, it's hard to keep a civil society. Life is hard enough, as everyone knows, but these rabid fiends -- no friend of man or beast -- add to the general sense of misery. There's no easy solution, short of 40 million moonshots, which would take a lot of work. So we're stuck simply trying to get along.

Of course I personally never vote for Republicans, ever, with one lone exception, and that's Gus Grissle for Dog Catcher.

Gus is an old neighbor of mine, and, by god, I know he's more or less good with dogs. As I've heard at the coffee shop a million times, Gus keeps the loose feral population down within manageable limits. According to the Daily News, attacks by loose rabid dogs on children as well as adults are down to a respectable average of only 160 a year. A stat to be celebrated in a small town. I was personally attacked twice, but if you attend to it right away -- skip the hospital, there's cheaper antibiotics on the black market -- you'll usually recover sufficiently to limp along and recognize family members, although it’s often intermittent.

Naturally, the best remedy is prevention. An ounce of prevention definitely feels better than a ton of painful injections. And that's why we need Gus Grissle. He's our man! Because it's important to have a guy who's not afraid to get his butt out there, patrol, and bring these monsters in. As to the few healthy dogs that are loose, he's also the man to get them back to their families. Although I wish we didn't have to waste time and resources doing so much of that, because it's eradicating the attack dogs that has to be number one.

Obviously, we need a good man for dog catcher, a man sensitive to the needs of dogs as well as dog-owners/parents. As a dog parent myself, I want a dog catcher who won’t necessarily take my dog right to the pound, let alone shoot her without at least the courtesy of a phone call. Dogs are funny though. They don't know Gus is only helping them. My dog's been nabbed a few times, so now if I want her to behave, I just have to say, "I'm gonna call Gus Grissle, and he's gonna come get you," or just the word "Grissle." She growls, then goes to her crate and cowers. I coax her out with a doggy treat and we're back on good terms.

Gus knows a thing or two about dogs. But it’s not just his knowledge of dogs that makes him the best candidate. The best thing about Gus is that he actually wants to do it and does it. He's diligent. And think of it, it's a dirty job, thankless, most of the dogs you snag hate you, and you stand a good chance of getting bitten every single day. This isn't a cushy office job; these aren't office dogs, they're mean street dogs. The kind that talk back and take no crap.

This year, friends, I had to vote absentee for Gus Grissle. Because I’m presently in the Big City while they work on Grandma’s house. And the house is basically open, with protective tarps. A big concern is that anyone could get in if they wanted. Say a bunch of tramps were living there with their tramp dogs, it’s to my benefit to have Gus just up the street, looking out for me. And to send those tramp dogs packing.
Older post: Gus Grissle for Dogcatcher, 2015 election

Saturday, November 3, 2018

While My Catarrh Gently Seeps

I believe it was the Buddha, as well as my Grandma, who said, “All life is suffering.” Whatever it is, whatever happens, you’re up, you’re down, you’re flat on your back in the hospital. There’s a major inflammation in your lower tract. It can’t be traced. Even surgery gives no relief; you’re worse off than when you first began.

The “wheel of life” is a concept from one of the major faiths. On this wheel of life, once you’ve spun it, you see what you get. All the usual aches, pains, diseases, and, last but not least, inflammations. Cuts, sores, piles, wounds, chafing, burns, sunburn, and catarrh. Proving the old adage beyond dispute, If it ain’t one thing, it’s another. With no end in sight, no good end anyway. Death, the grave, decomposition, and so forth till you’re lost and completely forgotten.

I see ambulances racing down the street all the time. Your life is precious. The sirens are wailing, they go through stop lights, because you can’t wait, the time is now, your need is urgent, every second counts in this drama of life and death. Minutes later you’re at the hospital, where they spend the next two hours getting your personal information, insurance, height and weight. Then it’s three hours later until a doctor's available. You could be dead by now, you know, but at least you saved 8 seconds at that last red light.

I probably should look up Buddha before I say definite things about him. But I’m winging it. From the little I know, nearly everything about Buddha is up for grabs anyway, depending on what country you’re from and what line of Buddhism you follow. So whatever I say is true somewhere in the world. The story may be familiar to you: Buddha’s dad kept him in the palace, not wanting him to see the outside world. Because Buddha Sr. knew the outside world was full of suffering. Then Buddha Jr. went into the outside world and discovered it was full of suffering.

Which I also discovered. You pick up on it right away, the first day of kindergarten. A kid on the playground breaks his arm, you kiss a girl on the jungle gym and she ends up with someone else, the teacher counts you tardy if you’re not in class when the bell goes off. Then there’s the rest of existence out of the sight of your protective parents. Now, too, once you’ve seen the suffering in the world — duplicity, backstabbing, lying, and sin — you even notice it in your parents, how unfair they are, even unjust. The foods they want you to eat, vegetables, are terrible and provide no nutritional value that you can’t get with straight sugar.

I also think cable TV is terrible suffering, except Monday Night Football and the Sunday games. You want it, you get it, it doesn’t make you happy; pillow commercials day and night. That’s the meaning of suffering.

Sex is suffering. The words “Regrets, I’ve had a few...” surely were written about sex. But what can you do? It’s the highest aspiration and at the same time the lowest. Great in concept, devastating in practice, unless you’re about to have a baby, then that’s a good payoff, but of course he or she will suffer, disappoint, die, etc. Abstaining is also suffering. But if you want to suffer and yet have more interesting payoff than dying rugrats, keep it zipped, wear coarse underwear, lock your hands behind your back, sleep and never wake up. Say you do wake up, keep the underwear on; it’s not painful enough to hurt you, it just keeps you on your toes when you walk or shift.

A couple of the diseases I should look up: Catarrh and Piles.

Catarrh? I got a catarrh once for Christmas and mom and dad even threw in catarrh lessons. A guy taught me several chords and I strummed myself silly, like other strumpets. Catarrh is also an old fashioned word for a dreaded condition, having to do with something like bad breath, a queasy tummy, or possibly worse. You’d think catarrh music is beautiful to listen to — say, Segovia — but still there’s also this damned curse of catarrh. When the catarrh’s out of tune, or the strings have lost their twang. On my catarrh, I used to take a file to the strings just to clean them of the filth on my fingers, like if I’d just dug potatoes. But a little dirt is good on catarrh strings, like the grunge music of the 90s.

I used to know a girl who played catarrh. She pulled off the G string and got the party started. Making beautiful music together. Which reminded me, oh yeah, I forgot the coarse underwear, which (as a reminder) keeps you on your toes when you walk or shift.

What about Piles? I should look this one up, too, but I think my sweet imagination is better than the medical encyclopedia. We know what it is when the dog leaves piles behind. They start at the behind, and that’s where they’re left. Some excrescences. Some are blatantly dropped, that’s the majority, the heart of the matter. Other piles cling, causing discomfort to the animal, no doubt, then their scooting across the floor messes up the carpet. Here in the Big City, the place I’m staying has hardwood floors, which the dog finds both comfortable and uncomfortable, depending on the effort she goes through to relieve herself.

The word piles is a good term, definitely evocative. Like if you had piles of money, like the Disney character who kept his money in a vault and was diving in it day and night. Piles and piles of piles can be a deadly thing, though.

Cuts, sores, wounds. That's all self explanatory. You get enough cuts, sores, and wounds, you’ll look back and discover you wound up in the hospital. I never cut myself. I’ve heard of people doing that, crazy, terrible fetish. The most pain I cause myself is biting my lip. But it’s not so bad, because I catch myself before there’s any pain. You have to think it through consciously. “I cannot eat myself. What value would that be? Eating is meant to nourish the system, not take the system away." You might remember the story in the Bible where the poor man Lazarus had dogs licking his sores. He was so despondent he took some comfort there. Dogs will lick you if you give them a leg up. Or worse. But that’s not what you should aspire to.

Buddha, he knew what to do about suffering. See through it. Transcend it with insight, realization. The exact science of which you can find in various Buddhist treatises. And from any guru you happen to meet, who finds you worthy to learn the secrets. (Everyone’s worthy, it just takes a while standing in line to make it happen.) Which is itself suffering, to a good purpose, to teach you patience till you learn the rest.

In the meantime, you can observe life itself and get enough teachings and eventually leave the line. Dogs walking by teach you a lot, as sketched out above. Or pick up your own catarrh. Pound out a tune and you’ll find the truth. A man, a woman, they’re very good, but suffering hopelessly if you dive deeply enough. When you find that place, the time for gurus and pills is ended.