Saturday, May 27, 2017

Build The Wall





If the date on the video is correct, I had the wall built in the mid-90s. At the time property lines and privacy seem to become imperative. As with any large project cost was also essential and funds were not available so instead of applying for another bank loan, Sears, who was our best friend at the time for appliances and tools, offered a payment plan to cover our project. Plans were drawn and a sub-contractor hired from North Carolina. A truck with a trailer full of timber arrived and I went to work.
Picket fence around the front and wooden privacy fence around the back was the plan. Additional gates on both sides and an indention for the trash cans in back was mapped out even with the spray markers to give the placement of the underground power line.
The two tar heels didn’t anticipate was my wife standing next to them inspecting every move and approving or disapproving every board. Even I knew the basics of installing a fence, but I never saw any sand, gravel or concrete.
After a week, my wall was assembled and it eased the crisis of the moment. It was the first on the block but not the last.
After a few storms and fierce winds the boards swayed but didn’t not buckle. Barn new shiny pine turned dark but kept peering eyes out.
One Saturday after work I came home to find my wife taking every other board off the privacy fence. When asked she explained she needed some wood for a project she was doing upstairs. That turned the privacy fence into a tall picket fence which was unacceptable to my neighbor. After some legal threats and some shouting my wife cut a 5’ fence down to a 3’ picket fence filling in the gaps. It is always an adventure.
The upset neighbor installed a privacy fence and then moved. On the other side the neighbor with the property line problem installed a 6’ chain linked fence. After she died the next neighbor decided to install a privacy fence so I had both sides covered again.
The back held up but the gates were a bit ornery and started bothering me in my later years. Half of the back had been cut down to the picket fence and was obviously easy for the folks who came by and saw my bikes in the yard to procure them. Privacy does have awards.
So I decided to stop being frustrated with something I had to deal with everyday and bite the bullet. Replacing the back fence was on my ‘to-do’ list. The obligatory research on the Internet and an email got me an inspector and an estimate.
The old decrepit fence was removed and a bright shiny wooden wall properly installed to my specifications. After a few monsoons and questions a week went by and another ‘to-do’ check off. One check and a six-pack and now I’ve got a new wall.
Am I fencing myself in or keeping others out? Time will tell.
I did pay for it with pesos.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cruelty Is Not Entertainment


I saw this today and it struck a chord. It was an NPR story about Peta celebrating the closing of the Ringling Brothers Circus.
I am not an animal activist or a vegan or even a peacenik but I do try and treat others with some respect and care, including our furry neighbors. I’ve had a few critters in my life and have tried to understand and provide the best for their lives shared with me. I’ve been a hardy beef lover but the taste just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I find myself shopping the natural aisle and by passing the butcher. I have my own political thoughts but believe others have their own opinions.
I don’t believe in what I see as a basis for entertainment today.
Beyond the cruelty to our animal friends, who on one hand treat kindly as pets and then abuse as sport or murder them for sustenance or trophies, we entertain ourselves with our obsession to treat each other so badly.
The past election and reactions of social media has confirmed we are not a very nice species. In reflection we have always enjoyed being cruel to each other. Through our history we have entertained ourselves with the suffering of others.
Maybe a lack of empathy or education or just outright anger we tend to make movies and write books and perform physical feats that may and often provide harm to others.
At the end of the day we wipe the blood off and walk away appreciated that it didn’t happen to us. There is no thought of the affects of our words or actions against another.
I went to the circus once. I remember sitting on folding bleachers with the smell of sawdust, stale popcorn and animal waste filling the air. Barkers kept distracting the action with promises of thrills but I found it boring. Why would any sensible person want to walk across on a thin wire? Why would anyone but an idiotic person want to walk into a cage of wild cats that were large enough and powerful enough to kill and eat you while we all watched? Why would small people be so humiliated to wear crazy outfits and do stupid slapstick to the laughter of the crowd? Why would people pay to see animals perform unnatural acts to amaze the observer?
Not a saint, I’ve been on both sides of the subject but perhaps with age I’ve decided to avoid acts of cruelty and try to restrain from responding to stupidity or bigotry or whatever kind of ‘try’ that comes along.
So the Ringling Brothers Circus is gone but there are other events that pitch animals and humans against each other and the humans will always win. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hello? Hello??


Well it happened? My phone died?
Sorry, I can’t take your calls because my phone died.
It wasn’t a horrible death of dropping into a toilet or smashing it under the wheel of an 18-wheeler, but it just gave up a long and faithful life.
Back in 2009 I had two cell phones and wanted to consolidate and eliminate, as was the mood of the time.
So since there was no long AT&T, I went into a Verizon store and stated my problem. Get rid of one line and update the other to a new number. Much computer clicking and telephone calls and paperwork and I walked out with one flip cell phone, two old obsolete phones and a pile of paperwork and a huge bill.
I found a barbershop that said they recycled old phones to military so I donated.
Now I had to figure out this new phone. Seemed simple enough but there was a book, in several languages, about the size of the Bible that did step by step plans of programming in contacts, pictures, games, sounds, etc. Luckily the type was small so I skipped most of it and just learned how to turn it on and turn it off.
And when contractors would ask for my phone number I had to think because I never called myself.
The landline had been gone for years but the wire still connected to the house, like the abandoned Continental Cable line.
So this little flip phone became a constant companion. One of the three things I carried everyday. I realized a cell phone was handy since I was out and about on my bike and could be reached if needed.
A few years in I realized I didn’t get that many calls and I didn’t call anyone so the cell phone became a balance weight that was slipped into my pocket every morning and taken out before sleep. The phone would stay on until I heard that beep that the battery was low.
Recent years I’ve shut down the phone at night and start it up in the morning for the battery kept showing signs of weakness. After three calls the battery would quit. Sometimes the battery would quit in the middle of a call. Sorry.
Though the phone had several options of a camera, video, Internet connection, music storage, texting and whatever other toys included; I never used them. I did take one photo of a tree cut down but it had to be downloaded to a removable card then placed into another device to plug in a USB so the computer could recognize it and download it. It was old technology.
Back to the story after the back-story, I walk into the same store I went to years ago and declared “I have a dead phone.”
Naturally I’d done my Internet homework to look at options and made my decision on what I wanted. Could I be swayed by all the glitz and the glamour? Did I need a GPS to know where I was or where I was going? Did I need to capture every event and send it out to the world hoping someone would comment? Did I need to carry around music that was better than what was floating around in my head?
After scraping of the hieroglyphs from the old phone the two Indian (PC, I assume by their accent and appearance so not profiling) employees found a piece of hardware similar to what I had and started making phone calls and computer connections to the master company of V to get me readjusted and upgraded to the new decade.
A pleasant and productive and fairly fast transaction I left with a brand spanking new phone that was just like my ole warhorse with similar features and the same pad layout. Now it is time to reprogram in contacts and delete trash already loaded on it. It did pick up my messaging and call waiting with only minor changes.
“Hello? Hello?? No, I don’t need any auto insurance unless you buy me a car, thank you.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Accused


You see them everyday; on your local or national television news or on the social media. Someone is accused of committing a no-no and their picture is posted for all to see.
Some of these people have been indicted and proven guilty by the legal system and their image will help citizens to be on alert of these villains among us.
Others maybe accused of doing a bad thing and this image will label them as a criminal.
Might be your coach accused of being a pedophile or your co-worker accused of embezzling or your priest accused of domestic violence, the image and the charge will stick with them.
A suspect of a crime maybe charged without any existence of evidence.

To be accused is to be charge with an offense or a crime.
An accusation is: charge, indict, arraign, summons, cite, impeach, condemn, criticize, denounce, blame, inculpate, hold accountable, blame, censure, reproach, criminate, charge, indict, impeach, arraign etc.

Alleged accusations are suspicions without proof.
To confirm a connection with a crime there is need for evidence, proof, confirmation, verification, collaboration, and affirmation.
During investigation into the matter it maybe that this person is involved in complicity or vicarious but did not instigate the crime.
And if, after due process, the accused is found ‘no guilty’ do we forget? Legally false accusations can be absolved or exonerated.

Then what?

The coach will have to move because parents will always be suspicious. The co-worker will have lost their job and benefits. The priest will lose the congregation and have to move to a missionary if not defrocking.

While it is easy to accuse, there are consequences.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Branded




How do you identify yourself?
Tall or short?
White or black?
Man or woman?
Red or blue?
Do you use a title or label given to you by employment to define your identify?
Do you state your identify as an association with another person?
Do you define your indentify by what organizations or groups you pay dues to?
Do you indentify yourself by your faith?

Your identity is your ‘brand’.

Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. The key components that form a brand’s toolbox include a brand’s identity, brand communication (such as by logos and trademarks), brand awareness, brand loyalty, and various branding (brand management) strategies.
Brand equity is the measurable totality of a brand’s worth and is validated by assessing the effectiveness of these branding components. As markets become increasingly dynamic and fluctuating, brand equity is a marketing technique to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, with side effects like reduced price sensitivity. A brand is in essence a promise to its customers of they can expect from their products, as well as emotional benefits. When a customer is familiar with a brand, or favors it incomparably to its competitors, this is when a corporation has reached a high level of brand equity.
Many companies believe that there is often little to differentiate between several types of products in the 21st century, and therefore branding is one of a few remaining forms of product differentiation.
In accounting, a brand defined as an intangible asset is often the most valuable asset on a corporation’s balance sheet. Brand owners manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value, and brand valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a money value to a brand, and allows marketing investment to be managed to maximize shareholder value. Although only acquired brands appear on a company’s balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value.
A concept brand is a brand that is associated with an abstract concept, like breast cancer awareness or environmentalism, rather than a specific product, service, or business.

You name is your first brand. Your name introduces your family as a legacy of your forefathers and a unique identifier of gender. Your name is not a tattoo and can be changed like companies that rebrand.
Your outer appearance (packaging) identifies without knowing a name. Hairstyle, fashion, transportation and even physical positioning can categorize your identity to others who make assumptions on your aura. Your appearance immediately projects a brand that can create presumptions including wealth, romance, intelligence or even danger.
The best thing about life is you can change your brand. It is as simple as a new suit and a haircut. You can upgrade your brand. You can downgrade your brand.
It may depend on your audience or experiences in life itself.
If you want to logo your brand, you can get a monogram. It is very stylish and highly popular on signet rings, letterheads and yachting jackets. You can put your monogram on your silverware, napkins, and your car or even get a tattoo but you might want to change your initials later.
Your brand will stick with you over time but old friends might not understand it has changed. They will remember you by your old brand and have to be introduced to the new you.

What is your brand (identity) worth to you?

Maybe your identity is misunderstood or misrepresented to other’s preconceived perceptions? As simple as a profile can be hacked, an identity can become gossip, bullying, graffiti or manipulated without your permission.
Search the Internet and see how many of ‘You’ are out there. Maybe you are not there? You better check your résumé and see if you really exist.

With the flood of information (true or fake) a comment or suggestion or third-hand comment could alter an identity. The possibility of (but not proven) criminal activity or divisive thought could change your brand without a chance for a debate or rebuttal. Our microwave mentality is quick to judge.
If you identity is stolen, what will you do? Become another person?
Change names, locations, credit cards, social security, appearance, jobs, transportation, children?, eating habits, sleeping schedules are all possibilities but your essence will not. Unlike the witness protection program there is only one ‘You’.
Doppelgangers can sound like you or have a similar appearance or even act more like you and you do, but in the morning you make your decisions, you reap the rewards and pay the consequences for your actions and at night have no excuses.
Others can carry your brand like merchandise. Your brand, no matter how misconstrued or convoluted, can turn dreams into nightmares.
Warning: Your brand will not wash off.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Reboot

What would happen if it all went off?
No telephones, no Internet, no television, no nothing.
What will you do?
Turn on the microwave and nothing. Throw the light switch and nothing. Turn up the air conditioner and nothing.
What will you do?
Somehow we have this false faith that after we were presented with wonders like electricity and Internet and satellite phones that they will always be there at our beckoned call.
We have the belief we are entitled to power and air and transportation and abundance of food and water and sunshine and rain and yet we have no control over any of it.
If we go to the grocery and the shelves are empty?
What will you do?
If we go to the filling station and the pumps are dry?
What will you do?
If the rain doesn’t come and the forests start to burn?
What will you do?
Our previous society will fall apart. Mayhem will become panic, which will become anarchy.
Perhaps recent events teach us how quickly life could change.
And there is no insurance clause for a global disaster.
Politicians and lawyers and governmental rules won’t matter when medical care has vanished.
Hold tight to your family for when tribes struggle for the last remaining scraps of hope, family might be the only support you have.
Or it is time to reboot?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Shoes


Shoes seem to be the most important article of clothing. Those things you wear everyday, just like your underwear, have become a ‘fashion statement’. And the old Buster Browns have gotten expensive.
It seems the fine tooling of leather and laces have gone across the waters and now those mammoth container ships bring boxes and boxes of rubber bottomed shoes that slip on or lace up with minimum expertise and maximum price tag.
Well let me tell you about shoes. I’ve done a lot of walking in my years and I’ve worn out a bunch of different styles and sizes and know a thing or two about shoes.
When I say ‘walking’ I mean while the rest of you were learning and the relying on driving to deliver you from place to place, I was hoofing it. Yes, I tried the mobile machines but that didn’t work out for me.
Luckily I lived within the boundaries of a neighborhood that had sidewalks and was open all night. I walked to school. I walked to work. I walked my dates and always had a distance requirement. Miles and miles and miles of pounding cement without a thought of my poor little feet, but it was the way to wander.
After the motor vehicle fiasco, I turned to the two-wheel transportation to rest my toes. I had learned that walking five miles barefoot on summer sidewalks was not good for the feet, so I had to wear shoes.
Shoes went from every style of army boots, penny loafers, Beatle boots, tennis shoes, earth shoes, slippers and dress polished shoes. Whatever the style of tie or suit coat or trouser changed with the fads, the shoes were just what were available.
Where they comfortable for long walks? Not exactly but I did find some of the soles that worked for walking long distances as apposed to playing basketball or walking on a sailboat or dancing.
And as the story goes, I went out today to buy new shoes.
Now I must admit I am not much of a shopper but I walked in and started to look at the styles and the soles and the sizes. Most of all the sizes mattered.
It seems my footsies have grown bigger than I had remembered. That means I used to stuff my feet into smaller shoes because I thought that was the size I was suppose to wear. Ouch! Yeah, but you get use to it.
Ask any woman who wears heels.
So getting back to the story of searching for new shoes, I wandered into that 2 for 1 shoe places but tried to stay with the ‘famous’ brands and checked the soles and also the arch support. Remember to check the arch support.
Find some right sizes, check the weight (summer is coming) and hopefully the soles will last at least through the summer I walked to the counter and presented my choices.
The shoe lady opened the boxes and checked to see that both shoes were the same size and there was a left shoe and a right shoe. Who knew?
No I didn’t try them on before purchase (Miller & Rhoades nightmares) and I waited for the guy to get off the phone while standing in front of what I was looking at (just like the grocery store) and worried about the old dude who was just wandering around (just like the grocery store) yet I walked out with my big cardboard boxes of rubber soled freshness for my tootsies.
Now to throw away old worn out friends and fill the recycle can.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

It’s All About The Sex


People always wonder what life is about?
It is easy.
It’s all about the sex.
Forget all that stuff about the meaning of life and the meaningful accomplishments and educational teachings and scientific surprises and cultural wonders; we are all here for the sex.
There must be some reason why we have different plumbing?
Procreation?
We are placed on this blue marble in space to make more of us.
It is all we are good at and it feels good.
It is all we are interested in.
Don’t think so? Take a look around you.
Advertising is based on sex. Television and movies are based around sex. Books are read for sex. Even the Bible is titillated with sex.
Fashion? Sex. Celebrities? Sex. Scantily clad girls at sporting events? Sex. Motels? Sex. Bars? Sex. Porn? Sex obviously and very popular.
From the beginning our different bodies were kept apart until we found the sex. It was never the purpose of procreation but expanding the population was just a consequence of sex.
Deviations to the accepted morals have always been part of our sex. All the gender swapping and transitions and whatever else we do with our bodies has been in the shadows not discussed in polite company but enjoyed by all.
Sex can shame or be used as a weapon. Sex is a rite of passage but has emotional and physical repercussions.
Relax. It is inevitable.

Born Again


In some Christian movements to be born again is to undergo a “spiritual rebirth”, or a regeneration of the human spirit from the Holy Spirit. This is contrasted with the physical birth everyone experiences.
In contemporary Christian usage, the term is distinct from similar terms used to refer to being or becoming Christian, linked to baptism.
The phrase “born again” is also used as an adjective to describe individual members of the movement who espouse this belief, as well as the movement itself (“born-again Christian” and the “born-again movement”).
Understand having a term for a life-changing event like ‘married’ or ‘pregnant’ or ‘arrested’ but to be born-again? Being born the first time is a long difficult experience but to be born-again? Better ask your mom first.
So if a junkie can kick the habit, are they ‘born-again’. If an alcoholic stays on the wagon, are they ‘born-again’. If a domestic abuser can learn to play nice, are they ‘born-again’?
If the term ‘born-again’ is a start-over, how many times can you be born-again?
If a ‘born-again’ is a do-over, do you start all over again and repeat events and try to correct your previous mistakes until you get it right or reach nirvana? Do you just continue with society and make new decisions and possible worst mistakes? Is ‘born-again’ a rebirth or a renewal? Maybe it really is eternal life?
And can you die-again?

Friday, May 5, 2017

I F**ked A Beatle


No, not me personally but I can only assume there are many women among us who can say this phrase with conviction of a by-gone time.
Some may call them ‘groupies’ but it was the time of the mania and electricity was in the air. Young English lads with long hair and dry wit captured the hearts of girls around the globe.
In the hurried pace of promotion, travel, performance, recording the musicians and their entourage had to be fed, clothed, moved, medicated and properly relaxed to keep up with the demands.
While the paparazzi photographed young attractive models associating them as ‘girlfriends’ this increase the frenzied demand to share in the mythical culture of fame. “Who is your favorite Beatle” lead to fans becoming hysterical and who could blame the news media from flaming the lust.
The poor lads had to practice, write, perform for 15 minutes to an hour without hearing their hard work, escape, and then do it all over again in another town for another screaming mass of teeny boppers. It must have been lonely being away from home and no time to get to know anyone long enough before leaving again.
Those who did get into the inner circle became part of the here today gone tomorrow hotel life. Whether treated like room service or having an intimate emotional connection these girls would become mothers and carrying on with life remembering a brief moment in time.
Sex and drugs and rock and roll became the mantra for a wandering lifestyle and consensual or not, boys and girls do what boys and girls do. Dreams were broken and expectations crushed in city after city but the memory will linger.
If not a Beatle, a Rolling Stone, or a Kink, or a Who, or a never ending parade of flash-in-the-pan one-hit wonders young girls offered themselves just to be in the company of an idol.
And the English Invasion didn’t start the trend. Musical stars from Frank Sinatra to Chuck Berry partook of the adulation given to them. Stars in any field (sports, politics, science, education, military, etc.) had their followers, fans and groupies.
Carried and displayed as a badge of courage or a rite of passage the phrase “I f**ked a Beatle” is worth a book or a column in the NYT or at least a 3-minute interview on the ‘Today’ show. No one will care if there was a love child or necessity to contact a medical clinic but want to know about the experience. “Was it orgasmic?” “Who was better Ringo or John?” “Who was better ‘a Beatle’ or ‘Jim Morrison’?”
I salute all your ladies out there who have a certain glint in your eye when “I Want To Hold Your Hand” comes on the radio and a certain smile your partner will never understand.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

FoMO


There was a time, not that long ago, where you say “I’ll call you when I get there.” It seems like such a simple statement but is put in the lexicon of historical relics for now we must stay in touch no matter where we are or whom we are with.
Technology has produced wonders of 24-hour news, weather, sports, entertainment and most important communication. Our microwave mentality must have immediate gratification or be frustrated.
Yet there was a time when everyone didn’t need to know where you were or what you were eating or even who you were with. If the car broke down you’d have to search for a pay phone or ask to use someone’s landline. If there were several choices of tomato sauce, the personal decision of which brand was made without consultation. If an artist performance was being observed; it could be appreciated without constant interruptions and annoying distractions.
These devices are helpful to make last minute business decisions or record breaking news but what happened before when you had to wait for the mail to arrive or the evening newscast? Newspaper gave up verified documentation of events and happenings from previous days but it was the best there was. Conversations with friends caught us up on what they have been doing since the last conversations.
Now we have FoMO.
Fear of missing out or FoMO is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”.
This social angst is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.
FoMO is also defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying events.
In other words, FoMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time, as “you can imagine how things could be different”.
Self-determination theory (SDT) asserts that the feeling of relatedness or connectedness with others is a legitimate psychological need that influences people’s psychological health. In this theoretical framework, FoMO can be understood as a self-regulatory state arising from situational or long-term perception that one's needs are not being met.
With the development of technology, people’s social and communicative experiences have been expanded from face-to-face to online. On one hand, modern technologies (e.g., mobile phones, smartphones) and social networking services (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) provide a unique opportunity for people to be socially engaged with a reduced “cost of admission”. On the other hand, mediated communication perpetuates an increased reliance on the Internet. A psychological dependence to being online could result in anxiety when one feels disconnected, thereby leading to a fear of missing out or even pathological Internet use.
As a consequence, FoMO is perceived to have negative influences on people’s psychological health and well-being, because it could contribute to people’s negative mood and depressed feelings.
Are we better off today helping Sally pick out her prom dress or the latest picture of Fido or that silly video of grandpa playing games with little Billy? Could we put them into a scrapbook or journal to enjoy later?
Test your FoMO.
1.    Gather some friends for drinks (Wi-Fi available of course)
2.    Have all your friends put their phones on the table
3.    First one who picks up a message, tweet, call, text, email, etc. PAYS THE BILL!

Are they checking their phones?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

That Bonzo Time


Today I’m having bonzo time as apposed to bozo time where everything is important or at least through a different filter and shadows and light become important and sounds take a different meaning and it is hard to focus on shapes but motion attracts attention and all the senses seem to be inflamed in excitement where thoughts of the past and the possible seem as real as amendments to the Bible because we could instead of forming another religion and instead of worrying about being bombed or bombing we get a leak from the scientist that we are about to be swallowed up by a black hole and there is nothing we can do to avoid it so you can stop payments on your car and put away your golf clubs unless you want to play through and that sound on the song you’ve played over and over again is brand new and thoughts wander to why some people can see the same vision but can make the words to describe the ordinary into extraordinary without a blink but the dishes are washed and the bills are paid and there are flies in the kitchen but it is trash day so they will be gone soon along with the recycled recycle bin awaiting for the party to start for there will be a party in the warm air but too lazy to deal except to lay in the shadows for the next day to come enjoying bonzo time.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Binge Watching



I don’t normally watch television. I just got tired of the nonsense and only turn it on for sports or special events. It is choice to get additional free time without wasting my time.
Well, it has been raining. That limits my outside duties but it was too cool and clammy to do my inside duties so I turned on the TV. I was going to watch fast cars turn left but it was raining there too, so I started to surf.
It is like unplugging my brain to be overcome by a series of pharmaceutical and junk food ads interspersed with young good-looking people saying regurgitated scripts. Luckily I only have a few channels to go through but it is the same on every click.
A few years ago, the rabbit ear networks wanted to compete with the overwhelming cable media, so they came out with these off-brand channels. No name stars in formulated cookie cutter cast that go on and on forever.
So I found this show called “White Collar” and sat back to watch. I didn’t have any expectations of fine acting and was not disappointed. The plot, as long as I could tell, was about the FBI getting some con man out of prison to help them solve cases. I can’t make this stuff up. If you want to know more, check it out on the web.
The cast is the usual handsome young chiseled chin lad wear finely pressed suit with a quirky fedora (nod to the youngsters). His nemesis was the leader of the FBI squad with glass offices as big as a house. Of course there was the weird little bald guy who stirred up trouble, the stern big strong token black guy with few lines, and the young tightly dressed female who was maybe oriental and a bit chunky but was not the love interest. A recurring criminal slinky redhead that kept it just slightly interesting caused the romantic angst.
The hour turned and the next episode came on and then another and then another. Wasted an entire afternoon following this cast of characters bumble their way thorough the plot with their constant banter and witty innuendos.
Binge watching does show the flaws of staging or perhaps limited budgets. Each scene was photographed at the same angle. The sets were one room apartment, the glass offices that doubled for offices, museums and hotels (be sure to get lots of outside shots as filler) and a loading dock from an old warehouse for all the action scenes. There were no car crashes or chase scenes and no explosions (again the budget?). The little bald guy was a drinker but no one ever eats on television. For that matter no one ever sits down and binges on television on television. Oh and there was this FBI truck disguised as a moving van or something with a plastic curtain like in a meat market where the FBI guys could cram into and listen to headphones at every cast members soliloquy without any background noise.
Now as interesting as I’ve made this program sound after four episodes I had to go back to staring at a blank screen. While it did have a few twist in the storyline I personally found it too formulated and have seen it all before with a different cast of characters.
My wife was a TV junkie. She started out with soap operas; mainly “General Hospital” so between 1PM to 5PM there was no disturbing her or keeping her from her shows. She spoke of them as if they were family and I even tried to be polite and watch along with her but a character would change at the blink of an eye without explanation or logical reasoning and she found that totally acceptable. After she died I continued the routine until one day had the ‘Ah Ha!’ moment.
Since then I’ve missed Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, and many more titles that just cannot hold my attention any longer. Now and again, like for a rain day, I’ll try to find some old classics to watch more out of memory and set details than plot interest.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ah Ha!



When was your last ‘Ah Ha!’ moment? I don’t know about you but I seem to have one everyday.
Maybe with more time on my hands or time to spare for deep thoughtcus, I hear a word or a sentence or see a shadow or a flash of light or suddenly notice what was always there and go ‘Ah Ha!’ It somehow matches my present reality and psychological philosophy with a heavy dash of reflective madness.
That moment can be painful like the time you put your hand on the stove even though your caring parents told you not to and you did it anyway just to see if they were a bunch of liars and “Ouch” followed quickly by ‘Ah Ha!’ They were telling the truth this time.
Yet at some point in your miserable childhood you want to break the bonds of their domination for you have had an ‘Ah Ha!’ that you and only you are smart enough to make your own decisions.
So at first you start smoking where they can’t see you and as you get bolder you come home drunk, but your rebellion has consequences. ‘Ah Ha!’
You get grounded, lose television privileges, your phone is taken away and you must cut the grass and wash and dry and put away the dishes. Not so smart as you thought.
Puberty comes along and another ‘Ah Ha!’ moment. There is a difference. And that also has consequences when the babies start popping out. Why didn’t somebody tell me that?
So the decision to run to continue your wonted lustful ways you can continue to seek pleasure and pain but the phone requires recharging and the light bill must be paid and when the rent is due you are grounded in the harsh reality of life.
No amount of outrageous thoughts or spiritual awakenings can prepare you for a cold dark alley sleeping with the rodents. ‘Ah Ha!’
The decision to accept responsibility and find gameful employment as a respectable addition to the community is another ‘Ah Ha!’ moment.
To be an outstanding member of society requires conformity so this is a democracy and the masses rule. ‘Ah Ha!’
Some embrace this fact early and other skirt and resist it as long as possible. You’ll understand when you grow up. ‘Ah Ha!’
There may come a time in life when you wondered why your parents never talked about their feelings of politics or religion then you realize they probably were and you were not listening. ‘Ah Ha!’
You may remember her touch and taste and smell of her hair but you can’t remember her eye color. ‘Ah Ha!’
Was there a time when you spent all your efforts trying to impress a girl but she was interested in another all the while ignoring the stares from the girl in the shadows trying to get your attention? ‘Ah Ha!’
That terrible break up when you thought her world would end only to find she remarried (maybe several times) and had a grand old time without you? ‘Ah Ha!’
When you think you have your emotions under control only to cry like a baby at beer commercials? ‘Ah Ha!’
Logically realizing that your company is sliding downhill but feel you are indispensible until the pink slip comes. ‘Ah Ha!’
You feel great and think you are getting enough exercise and eating correctly until your doctor tells you pay for an expensive operation or die. ‘Ah Ha!’
When you realize that all the movements and foundations and goodwill of humanity is fodder for those in power who make the decisions. They represent those who pay for them lock, stock, and barrel and no ranting or raving or marching or sign painting will change the reality that this country is owned and run on oil and pharmacies with numbing entertainment to keep the masses subdued filling minds with nonsense and bodies with junk food and have the largest security force in the world to protects their actions with your tax money. ‘Ah Ha!’
If you don’t believe check the Gospel according to Samuel in the Good Book. What? There is no Samuel? Then write your own. ‘Ah Ha!’

[Editor's Note] There IS a book of Samuel, actually two in the Old Testament of the Good Book. Then check the book of Lance or Dirk or Chuck or Hank or Sally? Sally?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

PuppywoodSpeak



Now that the spring season is coming on shaking off the winter blahs and bringing on the warm yellow snow, it is time to understand what is happening in your environment.

When you enter the kingdom of Puppywoods, as a tourist you should know what events occur here and the players who make this a special wilderness of constant joy and entertainment.

The cast of characters:

Grey Jay: Not actually a Perisoreus Canadensis but a Grey Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, but the name has stuck. Migrates from Florida to Puppywoods then back again at the end of summer. Something mystical about this bird that is very familiar. 

Petie (aka Yard Monkey): Grey squirrels, the most populous of Puppywoods. 

Robben: Not to be confused with Mr. and Mrs. Robin, but a rouge Petie who brazenly walks into the studio to gather more grub when supplies are low outside. After some stern talking too he always gets his way and waddles off with his prize. I like Pirates. 

Beau-Beau (aka Scooter): Black striped brown ground squirrels, chipmunks. Descendents from the original Beau-Beau, the roommate of my first wife, who escaped his plastic palace and entered the wilderness that was to become Puppywoods. Several families live in different directions. Beware, they will run you over. 

The Ladies: Morning doves. They bring the song of the start of the day and provide a bit of properness to the rag-tag bunch that inhabit here. 

Mister and Misses Robin: The Commonwealth’s Official bird since 1950. Hangs around all year. Especially touching how he will get some seed and then take it to his mate. Colorful couple who hang tight and never cause any trouble. 

Bluejay: The warning system for the yard, peanut fancier. For such a large and loud bird, he is a big chicken and the first to run. 

Woody: Two different types of woodpeckers come around to keep the beat. 

Al: Barred Owl, very proper and can look right through you with those large eyes. Seems to be somewhat wise yet feels comfortable enough to rest here during the day. You will never hear him leave, but he announces when he arrives. He gets the respect he so deserves. 

Ollie: Al’s old lady. Interesting to hear them talk to each other. Don’t be messing with her or you get Al’s wrath. 

Mister Hawk: There is a large one and a small one who scan this area, neither are welcomed at Puppywoods and will be chased away. They don’t come around when Al is here. 

Mister Vole (aka Lil’ Dodger): one of our smallest residents. He doesn’t cause much chaos but pops up in darndest places. 

Black Cap:  A feisty Chickadee that loves sunflower seeds and will take on any opponent, no matter the size. 

Possee: The quiet slow opossum that wanders through now and then but is mostly a night visitor. 

Rocky: The masked striped tailed bandit who comes through in the dark rummaging through the shadows. 

Bun-Bun (Mama, Bun-Bun(s), baby Bun): All the white cotton tailed bunnies, various sizes. Mama is the Official Puppywoods Yard Boss. Sleeps in the sunshine and tall grass, hides in the ivy and stays dry under the studio when it rains. Are fond of blueberries. 

Ratboy (aka Ratzo Rizzo aka Ratty Mac Ratface): All critters with feathers and fuzzy tails are welcomed to Puppywoods, but not this guy. [Editor’s Note: I live in a city. I know that it is full of rats. At night and out of sight they can do what they do but during the day they are NOT invited to the buffet.] 

KAT: Also unwelcomed to Puppywoods. [Editor’s Note: There are fewer cats wandering the neighborhood but when one is sighted they are chased away to break the habit of their natural hunting instincts, at least in this spot of ground. Puppywoods is a designated park for wild creatures to run and play in the safety of its confines.] 

Clean-Up Crew: At dusk, a variety of wrens, chickadees and other assorted feathered visitors are invited to finish off the daily buffet. 

Frick & Frack: The two Peties who are constantly chasing each other around the grounds and up and down the trees.

Bike Buddy: A little rolly-polly nuthatch that between catching spiders rest on the bicycle handlebars. I think he’d ride off but his legs don’t reach the pedals. 

The Crows (aka The Holy Trinity): The three crows, Sheryl, Russell, and Counting, make a lot of noise and chase Mr. Hawk. They also clean up leftovers, like Possee and Ratboy. Always looking sharp in their black gloss undertaker coats. 

Eureka & Hoover: Two Beau-Beau partners who can clean an area quickly filling cheeks and scurrying off to unload and return for more vacuum duty. 

Flutterby: The colorful flowers on the wing.
 There are many, many more characters too varied to number each with their own activities, noticed or unnoticed, that make this a sanctuary wilderness for native life.

PuppywoodSpeak:
“There you go”: Approval of grabbing a peanut or seed or blueberry.
“Hello Ladies”: Formal welcome to the doves.
“Get A Peanut”: Instructions to the newly arrived Blue Jays.
“OK guys. Come and Get It. Soups On”: Announcing to the yard the buffet is open.
“Good job”: After a Bluejay warning of danger that gets me out in the yard to chase away any threat. Usually followed up by a treat of peanuts.
“Scoodly Doo”: The skipping patterns of critters playing.
“Zoom”: The sound of the scooters zipping about.
“Pisssssss”: Shoo cat noise. (ps. This really works)
“Tich-tich-tich”: Walk slowly through the yard with this sound to announce your movement without danger to those sheltered.
“Roll & Tumble”: The wrestling (or more amorous interaction) between critters. Some are moves by the alphas to establish their dominance while others are just good-natured play.
“Ooop!”: When one critter gooses another critter making them jump into the air.
“Stick”: A favorite Petie game of grabbing a stick and rolling and tumbling with it then running off only to return moments later and jumping on the stick again. Followed by the sound of “Grrrrr”.
“Hello”: The formal welcome acknowledgement to everyone from a moth to a spider to a butterfly to the moon. The proper society approved welcome as oppose the Carolina vernacular of  “Hey”.
“Mess Pots”: When the critters are acting silly.
“Raining Peanuts”: When the critters are munching down on seed and they see me and hear the rustle of paper their forecasters say, “It will be raining peanuts”.
“Blueberry Time”: Normally at 3PM and 5PM, fresh blueberries are placed in a constant spot and announced to all around “Blueberry Time”. Bun-Bun’s and Robin’s favorite, but a special treat to all.
“Put Up Your Umbrellas”: Informing the Peties it is raining and fold their tails over their heads.
“No, not that way, follow me”: When a bird flies into the studio and tries to fly out through the skylights. Stay calm. Open the door wide and walk out on the porch while talking quietly. After some panic and frustration they figure it out, fly to freedom and have a great story for the family that night.
“You Got Your Hungries On”: When the critters stand around the feeding ground before the buffet is open.
“Cutie Pies”: They can’t help themselves from being adorable.
“Cool The Tummy”: Critters way to cool off. Lie flat on a cool shady slate or some mulch to chill from all the antics of running around on a hot day.

Now you know the cast of critters and the script, walk softly as not to disturb for this is their territory and we are just visitors. Keep your hands behind you and no sudden movements or noises. Stop occasionally and just look up. Stand still a few minutes and listen to the activity going on around you. You can’t see it but it is always going. Take time to observe an area and suddenly you will find camouflaged nature provides a social network no Internet can compare to.
As caretaker I will try to provide the basics so nature can have the freedom to continue. In the meantime I get unlimited entertainment and unexpected antics from this cast of characters.
Thank you for the privilege of providing you with space and necessities to allow me what people take vacations to national parks for.