Thursday, July 20, 2017

What You Got To Complain About?


Don’t know if you noticed it but when we ‘talk’ we ‘complain’. It seems the main topic of speaking to one-another is to complain about something.
I’m not saying the human species is unhappy with everything there is to be enjoyed on this planet but it sure sounds like it. No matter where you go or whom you talk to everyone is complaining.
There is plenty of stuff happening everyday that is annoying, frustrating, upsetting, and otherwise worth a good complaint, but does everyone else want to hear it?
Take work for example, there are plenty of topics there to complain about. The copier is jammed again, the coffee machine is overflowing, there are no good snacks in the vending machine, got too much work, not paid enough are always good conversation starters but you are talking to fellow workers who are in the same situation.
Family is always a topic of complaining. “My wife doesn’t….” or “My husband doesn’t….” or “the kids are….” or “My mother-in-law….” Are all good starters for a complaining conversation? It not only tells of the misery a person is living but also can annoy the listener who may not be interested in sharing experiences.
Houses and cars are always good topics that people can complain about which will bond neighbors in their struggle to survive. Complain about things that break or getting stuck in a traffic jam or frustrated by the normal day-to-day living. Everyone has them or there wouldn’t be anything for the immigrants to do.
Now automobiles are perfect examples of a great topic to complain about. As soon as you are handed the keys that chunk of metal rubber and vinyl depreciates. Whether it is new or used there are so many moving parts that can break, rust or need some computer diagnostics you can always have something to complain about. Then there is the condition of the roads and detours for repairs and breakdowns to complain about and of course the occasion of an accident. It is always an accident unless your complaining turned into road rage. Automobiles also like to go-missing so you can complain to the authorities and start all over again.
Vacations are a great subject for complaining. From the very beginning you are doomed to complain. Getting the family together and packing the car creates so much stress you wonder why it is called a vacation? The constant squabbling and getting lost only fuels the fire of frustration. Once the destination is reached, there is the unpacking confusion, lost items, rush to the beach for a good sunburn, bad Wi-Fi connections, gritty sand, overprice tourist restaurants, crappy towels and paraphernalia that just goes home to the trash, constant struggle to have ‘fun’ then turn around and repeat the process home.
If traveling by a carrier there are tickets, delays, transfers, lost luggage, tight seats, annoying companions and constant instructions of where to go but not how to get there.
Food is always a good topic to complain about. Even at the finest restaurants food prepared delicately with magnificent presentation just isn’t cooked right for your proletariat pallet. Food served in paper is scarped down by the pound with no complaints washed down by sugar drinks and then complain about the bad service from an assembly line worker making minimum wage. At the grocery story after wandering miles of aisles looking for that special ingredient that will make the slop you are about to serve to your family a cuisine dish you have to complain about how long it is taking to check-out or there was not enough capers since their expiration date only last twelve decades.
A bad hair day or a poor fitting suit or someone else’s’ choice in clothing is good for a complaint. The tabloids show us all the dos and don’t for fashion tips but most of us don’t follow them so why complain. We don’t care what we look like.
In the past year or two, with the help of the Internet and social media, politics has taken off as a great topic of complaining. Doesn’t matter your political affiliation or preference, there is plenty to complain about and argue with other’s who do not agree. It is like a sport when my team is winning everyone cheers. There are even cheerleaders’ called ‘talk shows’. Unfortunately no matter how loud we protest or complain, these chosen representatives of the people make the laws that rule our lives.
Religion is not a topic to complain about. You’ve chosen what God you want to follow so there are no complaints there. Then again there are all those other religions you can complain about.
Love is a major topic for complaining. Just listen to the jukebox or any of your favorite television dramas. There are volumes of terrible writings and poems about love lost, love hurts, love unrequited, etc. Our constant search for more includes love but we don’t seem to know it so we complain about the mystery unconceived.
So the next time someone comes up to you and ask, “How are things going?”
What will you say?
“No bad. Can’t complain. If I did what good would it do?”

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Paranoid


Paranoia is classified as a mental illness characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur with or without hallucinations; excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.
When you are elderly and live alone every sound brings awareness of something happening. And that alone can bring thoughts of fantasy beyond rationalization.
Did those people trying to sell God go in the house next door and not come out? Who is that guy parked across the street? Delivery? Neighbor? Those people who are walking by and staring at me on the porch, are they friends or foe?
My wife certainly had enough experiences to predicate being distrustful of others, but was always open and overly welcoming to strangers. She would see a soldier in uniform at the mall and go up and hug him shedding a tear.
At the same time she needed her privacy and her space and did not want anyone looking over her shoulder.
The next-door neighbor would gaze out her window (as I often do now) but my wife found it evasive and opaque the windows. I found it peculiar at the time but now realize when you live four feet apart from your neighbor you need light not action.
This morning I heard a sound in the neighborhood that was unfamiliar. A mechanical noise of some kind and it was close to me.
Was I being paranoid?
Was it the HVAC guys working on my neighbors AC unit again? Was it the power company adjusting the flow of current? Was it the parade of trucks visiting the neighborhood to pick up scraps? Was it some kind of criminal trying to steal my treasure?
I wrap myself in privacy. I don’t post profiles on the web. I don’t reply to unknown phone calls. I have a fence, with locks. My freedom is my security to do I want in my space.
So it turns out there is an earthmover in the alley. I’d seen them working up the next block but this was Saturday. Thank you city taxes. They didn’t apply a cover of gravel but they did straighten and flattened the roadway that had become a slushy mess in the spring rains.
So it will be just another normal day of feeding the critters, watching the shadows move and listening to Mooney Music. Maybe I’ll do a project? Maybe I won’t?
What was that?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Blasphemy



In the beginning I find a rock. I like my rock. I keep my rock.
You come along and take my rock away from me and won’t give it back.
I don’t like that you took my rock but you are bigger and stronger than me so I look for some mystical power that can equal the score.

I create GOD…


In monotheism and henotheism, God is conceived of as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith.
The concept of God as described by theologians commonly includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), Omni benevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence.
God is also usually defined as a non-corporeal being without any human biological gender, but the concept of God actively (as opposed to receptively) creating the universe has caused some religions to give “Him” the metaphorical name of “Father”.
Because God is conceived as being invisible from direct sight and not being a corporeal being, God cannot be portrayed in a literal visual image; some religious groups use a man (sometimes old and bearded) to signify or symbolize God or his presence because of “His deed of creating man’s mind in the image of His own”.

And God gave us…

The 10 Commandants
1.    I am the LORD thy God
2.    No other gods before me
3.    No graven images or likenesses
4.    Not take the LORD(s) name in vain
5.    Remember the sabbath day
6.    Honour thy father and thy mother
7.    Thou shalt not kill
8.    Thou shalt not commit adultery
9.    Thou shalt not steal
10.Thou shalt not bear false witness
11.Thou shalt not covet

So I decided to make these into Laws…

The history of law links closely to the development of civilization. Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, contained a civil code that was probably broken into twelve books. It was based on the concept of Ma’at, characterized by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements (“if … then ...”).
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions (including Catholic canon law and socialist law), in which the legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, which is still the case in some religious communities, particularly Jewish, and some countries, particularly Islamic. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law.
The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas referred to as (i) Criminal law and (ii) Civil law. Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law (not to be confused with civil law jurisdictions above) deals with the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organizations.
Law provides a rich source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and justice. There is an old saying that ‘all are equal before the law’, although Jonathan Swift argued that ‘Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.’ In 1894, the author Anatole France said sarcastically, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.” Writing in 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared, “The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual.” Mikhail Bakunin said, “All law has for its object to confirm and exalt into a system the exploitation of the workers by a ruling class”. Cicero said, “more law, less justice”. Marxist doctrine asserts that law will not be required once the state has withered away. Regardless of one’s view of the law, it remains today a completely central institution.
The Third New International Dictionary from Merriam-Webster defines law as: “Law is a binding custom or practice of a community; a rule or mode of conduct or action that is prescribed or formally recognized as binding by a supreme controlling authority or is made obligatory by a sanction (as an edict, decree, prescript, order, ordinance, statute, resolution, rule, judicial decision, or usage) made, recognized, or enforced by the controlling authority.”
The Dictionary of the History of Ideas published by Scribner's in 1973 defined the concept of law accordingly as: “A legal system is the most explicit, institutionalized, and complex mode of regulating human conduct. At the same time, it plays only one part in the congeries of rules which influence behavior, for social and moral rules of a less institutionalized kind are also of great importance.”
a. An authoritative, prescribed direction for conduct, especially one of the regulations governing procedure in a legislative body or a regulation observed by the players in a game, sport, or contest.
b. The body of regulations prescribed by the founder of a religious order for governing the conduct of its members.
Law is a system of rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior. Laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or by judges through binding precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions (including Catholic canon law and socialist law), in which the legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, which is still the case in some religious communities, particularly Jewish, and some countries, particularly Islamic. Islamic Sharia law is the world’s most widely used religious law.
The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas referred to as (i) Criminal law and (ii) Civil law. Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law (not to be confused with civil law jurisdictions above) deals with the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organizations. These resolutions seek to provide a legal remedy (often monetary damages) to the winning litigant. Under civil law, the following specialties, among others, exist: Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus ticket to trading on derivatives markets. Property law regulates the transfer and title of personal property and real property. Trust law applies to assets held for investment and financial security. Tort law allows claims for compensation if a person’s property is harmed. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Administrative law governs what executive branch agencies may and may not do, procedures that they must follow to do it, and judicial review when a member of the public is harmed by an agency action. International law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to military action. To implement and enforce the law and provide services to the public-by-public servants, a government’s bureaucracy, military, and police are vital. While all these organs of the state are creatures created and bound by law, an independent legal profession and a vibrant civil society inform and support their progress.
Law provides a rich source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and justice. There is an old saying that ‘all are equal before the law’, although Jonathan Swift argued that ‘Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.’ In 1894, the author Anatole France said sarcastically, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.” Writing in 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared, “The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual.” Mikhail Bakunin said: “All law has for its object to confirm and exalt into a system the exploitation of the workers by a ruling class”. Cicero said “more law, less justice”. Marxist doctrine asserts that law will not be required once the state has withered away. Regardless of one's view of the law, it remains today a completely central institution.

Then I created an assembly representative of the people to write the laws of the land and a series of courts and judges and lawyers to interpret them and hand down their judgments….

Regulation is an abstract concept of management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory, these types of rules exist in various fields of biology and society, but the term has slightly different meanings according to context. For example: in biology, gene regulation allows living organisms to adapt to their environment and maintain homeostasis in government, typically a regulation specifically means a piece of delegated legislation drafted by subject matter experts to enforce a statutory instrument (primary legislation) in business, industry self-regulation occurs through self-regulatory organizations and trade associations which allow industries to set rules with less government involvement in psychology, self-regulation theory is the study of how individuals regulate their thoughts and behaviors to reach goals.

And the people were to follow these laws….

Comply (third-person singular simple present complies, present participle complying, simple past and past participle complied) To yield assent; to accord; agree, or acquiesce; to adapt one's self; to consent or conform. Compliance is the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen or to coercion.

But some of the people did not want to follow the Laws….

Rebellion is an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler. Insurgency; rioting, riot, disorder, unrest, revolt, insurrection, mutiny, revolution, insurgence,
Rebellion is the action or process of resisting authority, control, convention, defiance, disobedience, rebelliousness, insubordination, subversion, or resistance.
Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or taking over the position of an established authority such as a government, governor, president, political leader, financial institution or boss. The methods can be peaceful, such as civil disobedience, civil resistance and nonviolent resistance, or violent, such as terrorism, sabotage and guerrilla warfare. Those who participate in rebellions, especially if they are armed, are known as “rebels”.

For they claim the Laws unjust and not representative of the people’s wishes….

Freedom the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Freedom is the absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. Freedom is independence, self-government, self-determination, self-rule, home rule, sovereignty, nonalignment, autonomy, or democracy.

They wanted to be FREE from the regulations of the laws….

Political freedom (also known as a political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept in history and political thought and one of the most important features of democratic societies.
It was described as freedom from oppression or coercion, the absence of disabling conditions for an individual and the fulfillment of enabling conditions, or the absence of life conditions of compulsion, e.g. economic compulsion, in a society.
Although political freedom is often interpreted negatively as the freedom from unreasonable external constraints on action, it can also refer to the positive exercise of rights, capacities and possibilities for action, and the exercise of social or group rights. The concept can also include freedom from “internal” constraints on political action or speech (e.g. social conformity, consistency, or “inauthentic” behavior.) The concept of political freedom is closely connected with the concepts of civil liberties and human rights.

Yet with total freedom and no laws comes…

Anarchy is a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority, government, lawlessness, nihilism, revolution, insurrection, disorder, chaos, mayhem or turmoil.
An absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal.
Anarchy is the condition of a society, entity, group of people, or a single person that rejects hierarchy. It originally meant ‘leaderlessness’, but in 1840, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon adopted the term in his treatise ‘What Is Property?’ to refer to a new political philosophy, anarchism, which advocates stateless societies based on voluntary associations. In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or abolition of government.

But what they needed were our Laws to keep…

Liberty, in philosophy, involves free will as contrasted with determinism. In politics, liberty consists of the social and political freedoms to which all community members are entitled. In theology, liberty is freedom from the bondage of sin.
Generally, liberty is distinctly differentiated from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.

And our Laws needed….

Regulation can take many forms: legal restrictions promulgated by a government authority, contractual obligations (for example, contracts between insurers and their insured’s), social regulation (e.g. norms), co-regulation, third-party regulation, certification, accreditation or market regulation.
State-mandated regulation is government intervention in the private market in an attempt to implement policy and produce outcomes that might not otherwise occur, ranging from consumer protection to faster growth or technological advancement. The regulations may prescribe or proscribe conduct (“command-and-control” regulation), calibrate incentives (“incentive” regulation), or change preferences (“preferences shaping” regulation). Common examples of regulation include controls on market entries, prices, wages, development approvals, pollution effects, employment for certain people in certain industries, standards of production for certain goods, the military forces and services. The economics of imposing or removing regulations relating to markets is analyzed in regulatory economics.

And our Laws needed….

Supervision is the action of supervising someone or something. Supervision is administration, management, control, or charge. Supervision is an act or instance of directing, managing, or oversight.

And our Laws needed…

Enforcement is the act of compelling observance of or compliance with a law, rule, or obligation.
Enforcement is the process of ensuring compliance with laws, regulations, rules, standards, or social norms. By enforcing laws and regulations, governments attempt to effectuate successful implementation of policies
Enforcement serves a number of functions; the enforcement of social norms can ensure conformity within insular communities, the enforcements of laws can maximize social benefits and protect the public interest, and enforcement may also serve the self-interest of the institutions that oversee enforcement. Enforcement can be effectuated by both public institutions and private, non-governmental actors. Enforcement is often accomplished through coercive means or by utilizing power disparities to constrain action.
Some scholars have also argued that institutions enforce rules when deciding “when and how to apply” laws and regulations.

So there we have it.

We have created Laws that must be obeyed for they are GOD(s) commandants and to not follow the rule of law is a sin….


In a religious context, sin is the act of violating God(s) will. Sin can also be viewed as any thought or action that endangers the ideal relationship between an individual and God; or as any diversion from the perceived ideal order for human living. To sin has been defined as “to miss the mark”.
The word from Old English may be related to that of Latin, ‘sont’ meaning guilty. In Old English there are examples of the original general sense, ‘offence, wrong-doing, misdeed’. The English Biblical terms translated as “sin” or “syn” from the Biblical Greek and Jewish terms sometimes originate from words in the latter languages denoting the act or state of missing the mark; the original sense of New Testament “sin”, is failure, being in error, missing the mark, especially in spear throwing; Hebrew hata “sin” originates in archery and literally refer to missing the “gold” at the centre of a target, but hitting the target, i.e. error. (Archers call not hitting the target at all a “miss”.)

To break a Law is a Sin…

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God(s), to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable. Blasphemy the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk. Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God(s). Blasphemy is the act of claiming the attributes of deity.
Profanity, sacrilege, irreligion, irreverence, taking the Lord’s name in vain, swearing, cursing, impiety, desecration; archaic execration: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone, an act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as an offering to please a god, a person or animal that is killed in a sacrifice.

Are you ready for a flood or pestilence or hordes of locust or sacrificing your children? Is getting to forget to not move your car or take a library book back on time worth a thunderbolt of lightning?



Now that is a leap of faith.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Appreciation


In this age of disgust and mockery, I’m not sure we remember how to appreciate?
Do you appreciate waking up every morning? You should. Even if you have a cold or aches and pains or even late for work, you’ve beaten the grim reaper one more day.
It seems we jump into hyper-drive with out electronics, communications, confusion and speed into the world, grab a biter on the run and can’t wait to get to the next crisis. Multi-tasking distracts us from appreciation what is going on around us.
“I love you” may be a phrase thrown out leaving or sending off but the time isn’t spent to appreciate those three words.
We show our appreciation of a concert by applauding and buying a tee shirt or a good meal by leaving a tip for the waitperson but do we appreciate the people behind the scenes who make it all happen?
We say ‘thank you’ to the butcher for a special cut but do we show the same appreciation to the guy stocking the produce or bagging the groceries? It is not difficult to show appreciation to the folks how remove your trash or patch your potholes or protect your home at night. We call our soldiers ‘heroes’ but what about the janitor?
“It is their job”, you say? Do you get appreciated for the effort you make at your employment? You are compensated by a paycheck but when did you get a ‘Thank You’?
Getting appreciated makes us smile. It helps our ego. For a moment a pat on the back can make our day better. Even the banquet dinners and plaques and speeches will be put away as only a reminder.
Who shows you appreciation? Well your family has to because you have the same name. Your friends appreciate you because you are comfortable to be with and bring something to the conversation. Your staff hopefully appreciates you for they see you are trying to make the work environment better and thus more profitable for the company and themselves. Your spouse maybe appreciates you if you take out the trash on time and pick up your dirty underpants.
Appreciation should be genuine. Like a wimpy handshake people can tell when there are fake emotions.
How many cut the lawn and trim the bushes and plant the flowers to then sit and appreciate their efforts. The appreciation isn’t just about the neighbors saying, “Your lawn looks great”. It is a sense of accomplishment but more to know the grass will grow taller and the leaves will need raking and the bushes trimming and to assist nature it shows appreciation in the attention.
When on vacation we pause to take in the sunsets, the sounds of the waves, the children’s laughter. The food taste better and laughter is pervasive and the body and mind relax.
Yet the sun sets everyday and the children still laugh but we don’t seem to appreciate life?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate it.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fund Me


There seems to be many of these requests under different names but the idea is to get people with cash in their pockets to invest.
This is what started the stock market for people of wealth to share their dollars in hopes of making more dollars. Folks who had an idea but not enough cash to get it started depended on others to invest. Banks would give loans with interest if the credit standing were approved.
People could save up their own cash to fund a new business or manufacture a new item that might sell and profit or go bust. Take your chances and own the risk.
So today it seems everyone is begging for money. Want to buy a pool? Get a kick-starter. Want to take your family on vacation? Hit the social media button. Make a good enough case and the bit coins will fly in.
Got a date with Joan and can’t afford flowers and dinner….. hit the computer. It is like a slot machine full of possible money without payback. Throw in some rare disease and what the money roll in. Add a picture of a sick puppy and wham-o you are getting rich. Talk about your war injury and the patriots will fund American heroes. Tell the reading public that Joan is suffering from addiction and you are saving her for God….Bingo! Jackpot!
What is the use of working a mundane job for a meager salary when people will just send you money for your clever thoughts? Yet if no one is working, where does all the money come from?
Think I’ll apply for government grants to research that question.

I’m Pathetic


It looks like a nice day today. Plenty of sleep and sunshine morning but a twinge in my back. Not hungry and the coffee is just dirty water. It’s 80 in the house at 7:30AM. Find yesterday’s shirt and the cleanest dirty shorts. Each pair of sweat shorts has sweat stains that will not wash out but they don’t have enough holes in them to only be worn in the yard until they become paint rags. “White haired person come this way” is overheard in the Indian voice. Other than that the yard is quiet. Too early for the critters but not the backyard neighbor. More guys out than normal but maybe this is early enough for the guys to get out of the house? Too early for traffic but not mowing the lawn. Is that Rick Flair jogging with a stick? Just nod acknowledgement of another human being but no talking. These folks are strangers. Neighbors, but strangers. New road sign finally replaced and the old iron sign removed yesterday. It has white letters on a green background. Green? Not brown like the Fan District or blue like the Museum District but our neighborhood is not a district. Where did that drain come from? I’d passed this block time-after-time, everyday and had never noticed that drain. Why would there be a drain in the middle of the block? This is a long block that is really two blocks put together. Well maybe it has something to do with half the block being in the city and half the block being in the country? Like why do some blocks have sidewalks and some don’t? And on some blocks one house will have a sidewalk and the next one doesn’t?  Everyday is an adventure and these are the thoughts that fill the head under the Styrofoam helmet religiously strapped on everyday. Squeeze the brakes, follow the same route, move around the couple pushing their infant riding a plastic buggy with load wheels and avoiding the car coming in the opposite direction while not trying to hit a pothole or manhole cover. It is still early so the parking lot is pretty empty. Still a guys day in the store so it is fairly easy to move about. Blueberries? Check. Watermelon? Check. Also comment to the guy restocking the fruit that “Watermelon is a real hit in my yard” Why do I tell this guy something he certainly doesn’t understand without a back-story but there is no time for explanations. Now that I’m here a decision needs to be made for ‘what’s for supper?’ Pass the frozen dinners and the still locked up pharmacy one wonders… “what did I eat yesterday?” and “what do I have in the cupboard?” BBQ! I have leftover BBQ still in the mug. And I’ve got to eat that bread before those fuzzy things happen. There is that egg in a box but I’d have to cook so maybe another sandwich. Not too much trouble and will fill me up for another day. Not totally healthy but filling. Asked a southern girl from Tennessee yesterday about what to put on BBQ and she suggested a thing called ‘sticky fingers’. Like the name and the record so make a big sweep around the guy more pathetic than me looking at his grocery list as if it were written in a foreign language. He’ll be on the phone in a minute. Down to the condiment aisle to the hot sauces I’m so familiar with. BBQ sauce? Where are you? Oh they’re on the right. There are so many choices. That one looks good with the name Stubbs and a black guy who looks like he does know how to cook. There is one from a Bob and Ray and not sure if that is a comedy team of cooking experts? I’ve not seen their show on PBS. Normally I go local for Sauer BBQ sauce but it is a rarity to find and not today. There it is! ‘Sticky Fingers’. Should I buy it? It is only $1.29 and the sign says ‘local’ but there are two choices? What the heck like is about the adventure so go for the Original. What else would make a dull sandwich more exciting on a Sunday? Cole slaw!! That almost makes it sound healthy. “Hello Katy” as I say the first real words of the day. To another human being. Being a constant customer to the Tummy Temple I get recognized and since they are all wearing nametags have made it a habit during my brief conversation at the checkout lane to acknowledge them. Katy, the short stout fiery redhead with all the jewelry notices the ‘sticky fingers’ sauce and comments that it is good as the guy before me still hasn’t filled his bags.  I tell Brian that the watermelon is a hit in the yard as Katy shifts to the next customer and Brian just grunts. I don’t think he really likes this job. Not a cloud in the sky but the traffic is starting to get erratic so take some time. Not many faces going home but the hands and legs know the way to a well-traveled path. The back is loosened and the knees remind age is not your partner. The jays call as soon as I get over the gravel but the yard is still asleep. Blueberry time is call and seed is poured with the invitation (out loud) “come and get it…. soup’s on”. Who am I saying this to at this early morning hour? Put the store of blueberries in the refrigerator along with the watermelon and slaw but no room for the soda pop so I’ll put them in later as the room becomes available. The yard still hasn’t woken up but the radio shows bring me back to a different time and give me the chuckle for the day. “Maybe it is time to make that sandwich Cliffie” I hear someone say. Oh, it is I in a thick cockney accent as I do when I talk to myself out loud. “Why yes, Cliffie I believe it may be time to fill the belly with sustenance and fodder”. “Then I suggest we get a move on and make us that sandwich that isn’t so appealing but necessary.” “Why certainly Cliffie, after you.”
adjective: pathetic
description: arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.
synonyms: pitiful, pitiable, piteous, moving, touching, poignant, plaintive, distressing, upsetting, heartbreaking, heart-rending, harrowing, wretched, forlorn

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Do You Wanna?


There is a lot of talk about teaching “consent” in sex education classes.
First of all I’ve never taken a ‘sexual education’ class. I had to learn as many generations before me of trial by fire.
I agree someone ought to tell these kids what is happening to their bodies but when I was growing up religion didn’t want you talking about it. Some parents had ‘the talk’ but it was usually for girls because their body changes were obvious. The boys just had to stumble around and notice the change to their jib and get boners.
Movies, magazines, novels and gossip was the knowledge base of getting background knowledge of ‘what to do’ when it became that time.
Consent is asking permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Consent is agreement, assent, acceptance, approval, approbation, permission, authorization, sanction, leave, backing, endorsement, support, thumbs up, green light, OK!
We ask consent to borrow the keys to the car (does that still happen)? We ask consent to borrow the neighbor’s lawnmower? We ask consent to marry someone.
From my experience fumbling around after watching the idols of the silver screen as training films on technique and positive results. The girls were learning along the way too.
I somehow believe the difference was respect. Even though the movie stars showed lots of cleavage and tight pants and were provocative, even in the Bible films, the lead male would always respect the strong feminine figure.
Even the first kiss was slow to get to and awkward to start with. Practice makes perfect, so you kept at it. As the blood pressure rouse and chemistry was pumping through the bodies becoming intertwined in a mix of a wrestling holds and a tickle fest the common quest was exploring sexuality.
Whether we were totally aware of the consequences or just following the path many others had traveled there was consent. Sure there was peer pressure to lose your virginity with fake promises of love and partnership and futures that will never come. Relationships are difficult to construct in the backseat of a car.
In the day there was pressure for the girl to give into the wishes of the boy but when there was resistance, her wishes were respected and the grouping stopped. When there was no resistance there was no verbal asking but it was consent.
Fully understand the term of harassment and rape but again it comes back to the respect for one another.
Will be curious how ‘consent’ is taught and if the kids understand personal responsibility.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hey Babe

Just got back from mailing your WCVE donations and it is July hot! It was 82 in the house and cooler outside but the forecast is continued hot and humid with possible afternoon showers to make it even muggier. Summer in the city and I’ll just take cold showers and keep changing t-shirts.
My fashion trend has dropped to the easy and comfortable. I don’t have to get ‘dressed up’ for anything or anyone so it is t-shirts and sweat shorts in the summer and sweats and jeans in the winter. Comfortable will not get me on the cover of GQ.
I started spring-cleaning early. Last fall, as the temperatures allowed, I started thinning out the stuff I’d been storing but not using. I had a dozen sheets of wallboard in the studio taking up space and I’ll never use them. I offered some people free construction supplies but no takers. So one by one I dragged a sheet out, propped it up on the fence and busted it up. I needed to get sizes that would fit in the Supercans. There is something very therapeutic about destroying an inanimate object with a hammer.
Then I noticed that a bunch of wood that I’d kept behind the little house was rotting. After the sheetrock was gone, the cut up remains started keeping the city busy dumping. I’m also getting better about recycling.
I had cut some branches down and was working on the crape myrtles on the side of the house when I noticed the bamboo had been doing a job on the windowsills.
The saber saw and 20’ stalks of bamboo became my next project. I cut down everything but a small plot in front of the window because I still like to watch them wave in the wind. After I trim them down and fill up the trashcans I’d pile the rest for next week. I even burnt out a circular saw and had to get a new one.
That started me pulling up ivy that had gone wild for the past few years. Pulling off the trees and out of the boxwoods. Boxwood had to be cut down due to the branches being so bent and a few died during the winter. Don’t know what happened? They just turned white and dropped all their leaves.
The cherry tree finally bit the bullet and had to be removed. Sorry to see her go for she served many with her fruit. Also the trees along the east fence were cut down along with the pear tree that Woody had peppered with holes. Half of the peach tree is gone and the plum tree is dead but I haven’t cut it down yet.
All this defoliation has opened up the yard to sunlight. There is still plenty of shade and dappled shadows but big difference in what I can see out the windows.
Speaking of which I had 5 windows replaced. The side windows are opaque so you cannot see anything and the back windows is single pane without the rotten wood panels giving a magnificent view of the yard. I’ve got a few cafĂ© curtains up but am enjoying the light (even in the heat). Maybe I’ll replace the big three front windows next year.
Had to get some repair work down to Mansland, preparing for a painting job that hasn’t happened yet. I also decided to screen in the front porch using the same guy. I like sitting on the porch but I felt I was sitting on the sidewalk. The screen gives me a since of privacy so I guess it was worth the price.
I’m trying to get rid of things that frustrate me and also need to be removed. The wooden walkways had all rotted so I pulled them up, cut them up and replaced with a path of pine tags. The back fence gate was bothering me because it wouldn’t latch right and was falling apart but so was the rest of the fence so I got it replaced. The guys did a really nice job with cemented post, re-enforced thick panels and easy latches. It is now private in the back of the yard. All the neighbors think it is swell. Not so much that I don’t want to see them, but they don’t want to see me?
The neighborhood is always changing. John’s house up on the corner got foreclosed and they had to move out. From what I hear a young couple have bought the place and are basically refurbished inside and out for the past year. Down the block another house is being gutted and rebuilt. Several others are adding an addition or a second floor. Lots of construction noise is the norm of the day.
Jeanette still makes me a coffee cake every Christmas and leaves it by the front gate. I did fess up to her that I don’t eat that much sugar and appreciated the offering but I pass it on. Last year I went to the fire station that came to you on this date. A fireman opened the door and asked if I needed assistance. I offered him and the rest of the station the gift and went merrily on my way. It is always good to play Santa on Christmas.
Edna’s evangelical couple moved out and some girl moved in. I’ve never talked to her. She just gets out of her car and goes inside talking on the phone. The other side had the girl and her sugar daddy moving out and some guy moving in. I talked to him once when he was getting a branch over our yard cut down but have never talked again. He has a big black (loud) truck and a motorcycle (loud). Still they stay inside mostly so I’ve got the yard to myself.
Well not exactly alone in the yard. The bunnies enjoy the new wide area to hop and chase each other. The twins and their mom frolic in the morning then scatter to their hiding places. When I spread out the blueberry buffet they come hopping. I’ve found a seed that seems to be a hit and doesn’t leave a mess. The sunflower seeds left the shells and so did the peanuts. For some reason this year the Beau-Beau’s must have been cleaning out their storehouses and there were peanut shells all over the place, so I stopped putting them out. There was even one Petie who realized the bag was in the little house and just would walk in the door to help him to the stash. I’d chase him out and he’d turn around and just waddle on back in. I call him ‘Scoundrel’ because when he doesn’t get his way he just walks off and takes a piss. The Petie’s range in the dozens and the Beau-Beau’s are too numerous to keep track of. All the featured friends abound and wake me every morning at 4am with their welcome to the day.
Sleeping, even with new pillows, is still a struggle. Sleeping consist of tossing and turning and grinding my teeth waking in the sweats. The few hours I can are filled with dreams of the fantastic in multi-color and plots no director could come up with. I wake at dawn and go to bed around sunset but have been known to sleep on the porch until all hours.
For entertainment I listen to NPR for news and classical music with a few sessions of old CDs and a now and then capture from YouTube. I just have lost interest in television so the screen remains blank. I went to a couple of shows by myself and enjoyed somewhat but going out is about having someone to share the moment with.
Food also has lost any interest. Mostly frozen pizza but not so much any more. I tend more to breakfast food now. Egg sandwiches, granola with whole milk, and the occasional omelet with an egg in a box you can pour into the skillet. Instant coffee in the morning, a power bar or smoothie, and a bite of something around 4pm and I’m done. Of course there is constant hydration (thus the stretch comfy pants).
I still force myself outside everyday to ride to the store or post office or hardware so I do get some exercise but other than pulling ivy, cutting down trees, and hauling heavy boards I’m a slug.
I write this stuff because it clears my head and I do get some interesting responses for my madness. Other than that are a few emails but little other correspondence with another human being.
The presidential election helped clear the air with many people. It was not pretty or even civil so I cleaned up my ‘friends’ list the first of the year. This president has turned from unbelievable to laughable to perhaps certifiable to possibly dangerous and yet every day is a more bizarre plot that everyone soaks up and opinionated and degrades yet this is the President of the United States of America.
And someone has finally decided that the Class of 1967 should have a reunion. You remember (maybe you don’t because you got pretty smashed) the last one? This one might be an adventure to see who is left? We are that old now. Grand kids, aches and pains and retirement will be the subject of conversation but I’m having fun digging through the yearbook for photos.
Well it is about time to put out the July 4th watermelon treat for those furry and feathered neighbors and pick up some branches. Hoping for a rain tonight to keep down the fireworks but have hooked up the hose just in case. Seems everyone has taken a weekend away so it may continue to be quiet.
Until next year, the Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Lost Art of Conversation


Once upon a time, many years ago, people would talk to each other. The talk would be face-to-face conversation without the aid of electronics or mind-altering substances.
This conversation could take place anywhere and at anytime between two or more people. The topics of a good conversation could vary from family to health to recently read books or music or politics or religion but it was always a civil discussion with a sharing of ideas and opinions without snarky comments or demeaning attitudes.
In certain circles the conversation was a high art of etiquette with rules of who can speak and when they are spoken to. Casual conversation goes on everyday in offices, homes, stores but it is normally speak or reply distracted by the disturbances of life. Some who know each other well enough can finish the other’s sentence.
Part of a good conservationist is to be a good listener. A good conversation can offer new twist on uninteresting subjects if you listen. A good listener will allow the speaker to finish their thought without interruption.
A conversation can teach, preach, motivate, inspire and even become romantic. A good conversation can bring joyful laughter and friends closer together in the common experience,
The art of conversation is not lost but hard to find. A few will still share their time and space and ideas and opinions without a deadline. Open enough to learn and be taught and share stories and laughter and tears, conversations can bond and revel much to each other and themselves.
You know what I’m saying?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Losing Yourself


It has become the time of year to think of vacations and look for some good books to take with you. Not only do you want to get away from your mundane life on constant crisis and uneventful adventures and shake off the doldrums of the cold grey winter months cuddled in blankets staring at the constant stream of young beautiful badly acting like English aristocrats of yore or athletic police, doctors or lawyers implying a fantasy we all wish we could live.
The sun comes out and we are compelled to go outdoors and dig in the dirt. Yet the sun is hot so we wander to where the waves crash or the water falls on the rocks.
Packing up all the ‘stuff’ we can stuff in our motor vehicle we gather our family for a distant destination full of expense, frustrations, consumption and possible illness. Vacations are for losing ourselves.
A book, unlike a television show or a movie or even a play, takes some effort of the reader. The pace can be as fast or slow, as you want. The characters with the finest descriptions to details of clothing, hairstyles, surrounds, are individually visualized in the mind of self-reference. Read aloud and find a tone for each voice in quotes. We get lost in every delicious word and phrase presented to us in black and white by someone somewhere who can imagine what we can only marvel at.
Not every book is a far away fiction of wizards and dragons or romance that could never really happen but there is also factual documentaries and biographies of historic events and celebrity figures who have made significant changes in our history. For a few pages we are whisked away to times and places lost in ourselves.
Then the alarm goes off and reality rears its ugly head and the day-to-day list of chores and meals and doctor visits and car repairs and laundry and checking the coupons for the best price of toothpaste returns.
Yet every year there are thousands more printings of books of every sort with each author taking a different slant on their passions and ideas.
Every afternoon (or at least as many as I can do according to the weather) I make time to rock on my front porch and just lose myself.
The other night I see this tall black man walking slowly across the street. It is somewhat usual because the only black men seen in this neighborhood are city workers cleaning the streets, filling in potholes or removing trash or wearing UPS brown uniforms. Not to say this is not a diverse neighborhood but there are few smoking jalopies parked on neatly manicured lawns so as I watch the cars come back to their empty shells neatly in rows one behind the other as ‘neighbors’ rush inside to ponder what movie to watch with delivered pizza, I rock and watch this tall black man slowly walk down the sidewalk. Then I hear a child’s voice. A small nappy-headed boy is following him and my anxiety drops. He and his son (I make the association in my head) must live around here. He turns the corner with his son on his shoulders and I think, “Good poppa”. How quickly perceptions can change.
So I’m leaving for my morning adventures following my daily routine and stop to wait for traffic. There is a man in a yellow tee-shirt walking down the road. He is not on the sidewalk but in the street. It is 7AM and there is no traffic but I wait for the old man to pass. He appears old by his stance and pace and the walking stick he is carrying but not using. He looks up under the brim of his red baseball cap and says, “Good morning” to which I replied the same. He would have seen like some quirky old guy out for an early morning walk or looking for his dog except for one item. He had a pistol stuck in his waistband. It was not some kind of peashooter but a large caliber pistol protruding from his trousers. “What would this guy need to carry a gun around at this time a’morning?” “Did he have a permit to open carry?” “Was it loaded?” “Was this guy up to no-good?”
Not wanting to become part of his story I quickly pointed my steed in the opposite direction and did not tarry.
Observing reality can present more tales and adventures than any book and you are the author, thus losing yourself in life.