Somebody chopped down the second tallest cherry tree in Washington D.C. It was located on the White House lawn. The President claims his cherry tree is actually the tallest one ever grown and that it has not been cut down and that he is looking right at it as he tweets. Fashion Director Kellyanne Conway defends the Donald’s alternate facts as a necessary tactic to confuse and defeat ISIS. Press Secretary Spicer accused the media of spreading fake news and clarified that Obama poisoned the tree before he left the White House. CNN reports that the tree was sold to a Russian lumber magnate who is using the toxic blossom extract to poison Ukrainian refugees. Congress is investigating whether any insects will be damaged in the removal of the roots. President Trump remains adamant that he did not chop down the cherry tree and cites as proof a National Enquirer photo showing Bigfoot loading it into a flying saucer.
For decades I used to write down everything I ate. I never revisited an entry for any reason. Eventually I began throwing out all the old log books but I would continue to write down my daily food consumption. I stopped doing it altogether a few years ago. I did not gain any weight, so I am not sure any more why I was doing it. Maybe there was a good reason I have now forgotten. It seems like a monumental waste of time. Recalling my food intake every day did not improve my memory as it actually deteriorated throughout the process. Toward the end, I could not even remember what I ate that day and would just log “regular stuff” or “bad binge.” I regret the amount of energy I put into that whole effort. I could have spent that time getting promotions at work or making my wife happy. Now I only log my weight every day. And of course my jogging mileage. I also record mileage for each running shoe to make sure I know when to replace them. So that is different, of course.
My idea is gaining traction on how to fund the one billion White House budget supplement request to build and upgrade 62 miles of border wall. I was half joking yesterday but then the Freedom Caucus asked me for a position paper. My plan calls for the three million people who voted illegally for Hillary Clinton to each pay a fine of $350. That would raise this first billion. Future segments of the Wall could be financed by $50 tolls levied on illegal immigrants entering the country from Mexico. The success of my proposal has given me momentum to start working on a wiretap tax. I always knew I would be famous one day but I never guessed it would be for this.
If you want to live without heart disease, The Lancet spotlights research done in 2014-2015 on the Tsimane people who live on the Maniqui River in Bolivia’s Amazon rainforest. They eat wild pig, tapir, capybara (large rodent), piranha, catfish, rice, maize, manioc root, plantains, fruit, and nuts. They are extremely active physically even in old age and are not big smokers. Intestinal worms may be helping to protect their hearts. The bottom line is that they have the lowest reported levels of coronary artery disease in any population. And if you want to live a long life, Li-Ching Yuen of China has a few additional tips. He said he was 197 when he died in 1933 (some claim he was 256). His longevity advice: “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon, sleep like a dog.” Oh yeah, and lie like a rug.
Some things you have to experience to really understand. Some would cite birth of a child as an example. My Mother identifies two experiences that really surprised her by their magnificence: The Grand Canyon and the Taj Mahal. My birth apparently did not make her short list. You can see pictures and read about places but those representations often fall short of truly experiencing them. The same effect takes place in daily life on a less dramatic scale. When my middle son was very young, he began writing his letters and numbers backward. Not just the ones commonly reversed or random ones, but all of them. The ones he occasionally got right appeared to be the errors. I used to tell his grandfather about this as it fascinated me. I wondered if my son’s left handedness or slight stutter was connected to this phenomenon. My Dad seemed about as interested in the subject as my co-workers were in the height and weight percentiles of my children. But one day, we gave him a card written by his grandson. Dad pointed out that all the letters were backward. I said, “Yeah, I have been telling you about that for awhile.” He was flabbergasted. As if he had to convince me that this was startling, he explained that we would be able to hold the card up to a mirror and see everything correctly. I realized he never consciously thought I was fabricating this story about apparent dyslexia. Maybe he thought I was exaggerating but basically he had to see it with his own eyes to understand it the way I did. My son eventually learned compensation techniques and turned out alright but you would have to see him to believe it.
When I was in seventh and eighth grade, the Catholic grade school I attended made arrangements for the boys to walk over to the public junior high to take courses in wood working and mechanical drawing. I would have been more comfortable in whatever classes the girls got to take. Thanks to my Dad’s help at home, we were able to save all ten of my fingers and produce a wooden lamp with a clown’s head from a butchered puppet. In the mechanical drawing class, I was not assertive enough to get usage of the shared compass instruments in a timely fashion, so I drew my circles by hand and hoped the teacher would not notice. Obviously he did notice. He was kind enough to tell me that I had done a very good job for freehand but that I needed to use a compass. I cannot remember anything after that other than the sinking feeling that I was now farther behind in a class populated by classmates eager to spread the story. So even today I keep a compass in my desk drawer, although it has not been used in decades. I used to take it hiking with me as one of the ten essentials until someone told me it could not locate either true or magnetic north. I explained I used it as an emergency weapon in case I am attacked by a marmot or bear. But I deposited it back in the drawer. I am left to wonder If I might be a famous mechanical engineer with a Nobel Prize if only the Shorewood School District had enough compasses for each student back in the day.
The summer after I graduated from college, I worked maintaining a control room for Fred Bigsby, a pioneer in the efficiency expert field with General Motors and Boeing. He could produce remarkable results and the only real obstacle was the universal resistance of everyone involved in the process being reviewed. My middle son claims I am a creature of habit because I drive a certain route even though he has allegedly demonstrated that his way is faster. But I like to think I have learned something from my efficiency expert days. For many years, I have reduced the amount of time tying my shoes by only tying them when I am going jogging or somewhere important. I used to tie them to make strangers feel good after warning me about them. But now that I am becoming more and more disheveled, strangers no longer make eye contact or engage me in conversation. The untied shoelace danger is definitely exaggerated. I have the advantages of knowing they are untied and my natural gait is now very deliberate. I am too uncoordinated to step on a loose lace with my other shoe while walking even if I were trying to do it. I do not run with scissors but not because I think I will likely poke my eye out. Sometimes I become more efficient out of necessity. I no longer waste time turning my head very far when driving because I cannot turn my head too far without causing great discomfort. If I do die from a shoelace induced fall, feel free to engrave my tombstone: “Tis very true that he died, tho not from lace untied, but of way too much pride.”
One day while waiting for the bus after school in ninth grade, I slipped one arm out of my sleeve and let that sleeve dangle armless. I am not sure exactly why I wanted to impersonate someone with no arm or a broken arm. I suspect I thought it might be cool like an eye patch on a man of mystery. None of my fellow students seemed to notice that I did not have an arm at the end of one sleeve. But when I boarded the bus, I was unable to produce my bus pass without dropping my books. Students always moved to the back of the bus in a mutually agreeable segregation from the older people who sat up front. I could either produce my good arm (looking like an idiot) or let the old people help me (feeling like an idiot). I chose the latter idiocy and they propped my books back into my good arm. I never tried that trick again. But I did not learn my lesson. I still do stupid stuff on a whim like maintaining a daily blog.
My youngest sister once received an A+ in junior high on an assigned essay topic of A Thoughtful Act. She received inspiration from someone who likes anonymity but she knew what to do with a good idea. She wrote about an Act animal living in a great herd of Acts. I could have taken a creative idea like that and turned it into a much lower grade. I always admired people who think outside of the box but every time I find a way outside that box I get scared because it keeps getting harder and harder to find my way back in.
Many days I have an idea for a blog that I ignore because I do not feel like writing about that subject or the topic seems dull or stupid. That should be a good filter but those ideas reappear and eventually they find a day where they get themselves published. Once on the blog, they are frozen there for all days. So if I looked back at all the blogs on a rational day, I would be horrified. My strategy is to peek backwards only on days when I have low standards. I have learned from this that my beliefs are not constant. I might feel generous one day and donate to the person on the exit ramp. Another day, I might refuse to share my dessert. Something that is not funny all year long can trap me on that one day of weakness and I find myself writing apologies instead of blogs. My children probably do not realize how important my daily mood is when it comes down to the day I draft my Will. I have not yet decided who I am going to bequeath my debts to.