Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pavlov was a doofus

You towel off some amniotic fluid, look around and start trying to line up the pieces of life's mysteries. Many clues fit in several different places, so placement is critical. You twist the knobs and create a jagged silvery line that sort of shows how you got where you are, and then, for those unfortunate enough to have faulty equipment, the screen shakes violently more map. You clean off whatever mess has replaced amniotic fluid and start over. Eventually you have several individual scenarios that, when superimposed over one another, show a plot that would have been the best case scenario. This Utopian path is, of course, completely out of reach because you only live once; you are only young once, only old once, and only once at that fork in the road that leads where you are headed. As time wears away the edges, some slightly blurred pieces fit better in the wrong spots, and whose to say they don't belong there? And it's okay, because the moment you stop looking for reverse is where the real map begins anyway.

This didn't really go where I intended. I was sitting here thinking that some things need to last a lifetime, things like the feeling of walking on a warm sidewalk on a summer evening, barefoot and shirtless. The dusty smell of desert plants on a light, warm breeze. The feeling of being completely engulfed in a hug.
This led down the path to becoming an adult, transitioning from pajamas hanging loosely over a lithe body to pajamas riding up on various "cushioned" areas. When you once couldn't eat enough to keep up with calorie needs, failing to realize it was a temporary phenomenon, you developed a love for pizza, chocolate and bear claws. Instead of stapling your stomach, your taste buds should be removed. Or, someone could follow you around and whap you on the head in the spirit of Pavlov; whenever you thought of pizza... At this point, the stream of consciousness took a slightly negative turn, and I wondered how, from toweling off the amniotic fluid to thoughts of scraping taste buds off, we all take a very different emotional journey through very similar circumstances.
I'm going to make a computerized hat with an electric hammer that responds to voice prompts. "Pizza"...whap! "Chocolate"...whap! "Celery"...whap!
"Hey!"..whap! whap! whap! hahahahaha
I hate computers.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Cyan Letter

The less initiative or capability to succeed you have, the less you are expected to accomplish. Conversely, some may say perversely, the more you are capable of and work for, the more you are expected to carry the load for others. This system works in the NBA, and we all love Michael Jordan. This system does not work in society, but that is where we are headed. FDR had the ideal plan, and I don't know why it's not still in use. The Civilian Conservation Corps. Yes, people without jobs who were going to sit at home and collect money from the government were given jobs that improved America. They built roads and fish hatcheries and earned the money the government was giving them. Self-esteem and national pride go up, obesity and dissension go down...everyone wins.

Instead, we tax those that make more to the limit they can take, and give their money (AKA the earned income credit) to those who don't make much. Now, some people don't make much because they have limitations and that's okay; dole out some EIC. However, those lazy so-and-so's (that's old-time speak for lazy bastards) who play the system and do as little as possible, they get zip. The difficulty is distinguishing one from the other; the same difficulty applies to sifting out the blue-bloods from those who actually worked hard to accumulate their wealth and deserve to hold onto as much of it as possible. Which leads to the point...

Young Barrack of Loxley sat atop his trusty steed and surveyed the forest he presided over. At his side, atop nice steeds themselves, if somewhat inferior to Barrackin hood's, sat Little Joe Biden and Friar Hillary. They observed those that appeared to have more than their share and indiscriminately took some of their wealth and gave it to those having less. Sometimes they had to shake the indigents awake and knock the empty mad-dog bottles aside in order to give them the wealth that others had earned. One day a small crowd happened to be loitering near one of Barrack's robberies, which was disguised as altruism, and knowing the target of the robbery, the crowd was incensed and spoke loudly of their disapproval. "Get the hell away from them," they said.
"Good people," Barrack of Loxley said as smoothly and eloquently as 'good people' can be said. "I am Barrackin Hood, and I requisition from the undeserving rich and generously re-appropriate to the deserving poor," he ever so eloquently continued.

"But she worked 18 hours a day for 20 years to make her business successful before selling it and retiring with her well deserved wealth," the angry mob called out in a surprisingly unified and chorus-like voice.

"Good people..."
"Save it! We know you only read everything from the teleprompter!"
"Well what the hell, I'm on the road all the time and have lots of issues to stay on top of," Barrackin Hood confessed in a Howard Dean like display of emotion the bordered on hysteria.
"You should not take money from people who give their all to earn it!"
"But how do I tell who's who?"
Silence fell over the usually unruly and raucous , though illegally assembled crowd.

"Roll up their sleeves," a small voice arose from the crowd.
"What could that possibly prove?"
"If they have pale skin and visible blue veins, than they are blue bloods who were given their wealth and deserve to have it re-appropriated under your existing system."
"Hmmmmmmmm." Young Barrack wondered aloud, at a rare loss for words as the single h followed by many m's streamed across the teleprompter.
"If the skin is weathered and scarred, and the muscles developed from scratching out an existence overshadow the blueness of the veins hidden beneath them, then leave them alone."
"Hmmmmmmm," he continued as he subtly reached out and tapped the edge of the monitor before him.
"But, am I to roll up their sleeves every time I see them?"
"No, once their orientation is determined, you could make the blue bloods sew a blue B onto their shirts so they are easily identified."
"I like it." And with the sure and swift judgement that modern electronics allowed him, Barrackin Hood decreed that the "Cyan rule" be passed into law, and all those displaying blue b's be robbed blind.
Some of the indigents awoke briefly and mumbled sounds of approval before vomiting upon themselves and rolling over in the gutter, assured that they would continue to be taken care of.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Buzzards are Circling

Some days you wake up, look up at the simple, honest blue of the sky, and it all makes sense. The thousands of years that have passed with us eager to wipe each other out over differences in geographic locations, religious beliefs, skin color, or a multitude of entirely valid genocidal motivations all seem insignificant. Yes, the election in Iraq seems fishy, but other than a handful of protesters dying for their cause, is it really any different than what we had during the Bush-Gore fiasco? Forget about em...they've been there a lot longer than we've been here, and we have plenty of areas in our country where worse things happen daily.

Who cares? I have a thousand moths on my porch that aren't even aware that the human world is falling apart. In fact, other than human-erosion, the world is doing pretty well: volcanoes and earthquakes equalize the internal pressure, droughts come and go, regulating populations, the mountains grow and slowly wash back into the sea, squirrels and rabbits whistle as they help with Cinderella's gown...remove man-made strife and the earth is a well oiled machine. It's no wonder it's faltering; we keep taking all of its oil.

Anyway, back to it all making sense. We're supposed to borrow eggs or a cup of sugar from each other when we run short while baking apple pie; we're supposed to help out the broken down car on the freeway, or stop texting long enough to wave to them as we drive by, thankful that it's not us. We're supposed to breath the morning air, look up at the simple beauty of the blue sky and be glad that we're here.

The trouble is that I've seen the show where the machine cuts down a tree and pulls the whole thing through a series of grinding and cutting tools to remove all the limbs and bark before cutting it into precise lengths to be made into lumber. We need the lumber to build more buildings, and we need really cool machines to make it happen faster, because we are billions strong now and show no signs of slowing down.

North Korea wants to wipe us off the map; we've wiped people off the all comes down to maps and Billy Joel lyrics, "We will all go down together ..."

The dog is barking; someone probably wants to borrow something. Shhhhhh, they'll go away; they always do.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Welcome to Georgia, we count by Mississippi's

I was going down a rural Georgia road in the dark and passed a sign among the trees lining the road that said, " speed checked by detection devices." I thought that this tiny road, with little red-clay dirt roads branching off periodically in the middle of nowhere, couldn't possibly have some sophisticated speed monitoring and ticketing system. This, of course, led to wondering how they monitored speed. I pictured a 70's Dodge cruiser, with a huge row of lights mounted on top of it, backed into the brush behind the Waffle House sign, Cletus looking intently down the road at on coming traffic. When I inevitably get pulled over, this is what would ensue:

"Can I help you officer?"
"Not likely (head turns slightly and a stream of brown tobacco spittle hits the red clay), what you can do is keep that there Yankee trap shut."
"Okay...but what makes me a Yankee?"
"You ain't from these parts are you?"
"That's it."
"That's what?"
'"Look around you boy, you don't want to start nothin' seen Deliverance?"
"Enough said Sir. How fast was I going?"
"I had you at two Mississippi between that ole Church and the Waffle house sign."
"Two Mississippi?"
"Yes, most folks are three to four Mississippi through were really screamin' along."

Later, at the hearing:

"Your honor, my client pleads innocent to the charge of reduced Mississippi's over a given distance."
"Cletus, were you hanging out by the Waffle house sign again?"
"Yes your honor, and I had him at two Mississippi," all said through remnants of brown spittle at the corners of his mouth, " and most folks are three to four Mississippi through there."
"Now that's right Cletus, 'cause you had me at four Mississippi through there just last week," the judge eyed me over the top of her reading glasses.
"Your honor, while my client may be guilty of going one or two Mississippi's over the speed limit, in his defense, he thought the basis for speed evaluation was Georgia's, and you can see that that eliminates two syllables per unit, putting him well within the three to four Mississippi range when swapped one for one in the counting process."
"Well Cletus, was the basis clearly posted?"
"Uh, your honor...uh, uh..."
"Case dismissed!"
"Don't let me see you around these parts again Yankee boy; your silver-tongued lawyer won't help you next time," Cletus was not happy to have been hood-winked by my cousin Vinny.

"You've got a little something on the corners of your mouth," I told Cletus, "Oh, it's just dried tobacco spit."

"This is just like with them Duke boys....." the defeated deputy's grumbling trails off as he heads for the cruiser with the row of huge lights on top of it.

Georgia is, of course, completely caught up with the times, and they use powerful Dodge Chargers with low profile LED light strips on top of them. They rarely use tobacco in uniform, and they abandoned the "Mississippi" system long ago.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Misspent Youth

My first spring-break from college is here, and I'm off to Florida for the weekend. I found an old-folks resort, so I won't be troubled by all those young whipper-snappers and their jello-shots and body-shots and whatever other shots that a good spring-break includes, when you are actually young enough to be on spring-break. I hope to get a few good shots of Sandhill Cranes, of snowy white dunes and porpoises in the the school classifies me, I am definitely not a traditional student.

I always intend to write here more often, but I rarely have the time. I was writing a silly poem about acting like your dead and actually dying from it, when I realized that I have so much yet to achieve, regardless of how old I may be. So I have embarked on my voyage to self-discovery, and, as boring as that may be to everyone else, it's a story that tells itself. It begins with a boy who is too ignorant about life to realize what he is missing (me), and then he becomes so involved with living that he misses out on growing (also me), and then he gets it, trains hard and goes to the Olympics where he publicly humiliates Adolf Hitler (Jessie Owens), and then he goes to school and learns things about life that he never knew, and he stops writing poems about playing dead (me). The end.

I actually like poems like that, and will continue to write them secretly, but will never share them as they detract from the lessons that I am learning on my journey to self discovery. I'm like Marco Polo, searching for the route to china or India, somewhere with lots of spices and different cultural rituals than I have ever experienced.Maybe I will bring back pasta, or an aquatic game that will captivate children throughout the rest of time...the possibilities are endless.

So, it sort of feels like, a few decades later, I may still recover from my misspent youth, and actually achieve a respectable level of personal growth. Time will tell.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Allegro or Largo

In the olde days, "without a moment to spare" implied that something had happened just in the nick of time. It now means that everyone is so busy that the wound has to be potentially fatal before it gets the emergency room doctor's attention. Someone actually sat in the emergency room waiting area and died from a stabbing wound.

"Sir! We all think our "emergency" is the most important one. The doctor will be with you shortly."

Sometimes it's not so blatantly obvious that the needs of humanity are blurring in the background. Sometimes the things that we don't have time for are things that are really important, not life threatening, and unbelievably worthwhile, given their moment.

Someone recently told me they are biding their time, hating their job, until they can retire... oh wait, that was me, but as I watched a large redheaded woodpecker out the window this morning and thought of how comforting and wonderful the nurses were for my Grandma after her stroke last week, I thought how offensive it is to just exist when there are people who need others to help them and people who dedicate their lives to providing this help.

I check my investments and do a little calculating to decide when I'll be able to move on to retirement and ...and what? Waiting to die?

Sometimes I have a hard time seeing the whole scope of things, and when my view involuntarily expands to include a larger part of the world around me, it's pretty scary how shallow my existence is. Perhaps there's something that can be done about it.
Sometimes facing things is more painful than numbly ignoring them, but sometimes, given their moment, these things lead you to where you really want to be anyway.

Part venting, part grieving, partridge in a pear tree...What?
It can't all be morose.