Izzy

I overheard my 16 year old granddaughter tell her aunt that she does not read my Blog because it is weird and mostly about her five year old sister. That was pretty much a compliment compared to other reactions to my postings. This does free me to write about Izzy because she will not see it (and her friends certainly will not!) and if she did, I would be demonstrating that I do not favor her sister. My three teenage sons had two responses to any parental question during their high school years: “mumble” or “nunya.” Izzy, on the other hand, answers unasked questions. I am here to report that times have so changed that high school life now includes alcohol, drugs, sex, and skirmishes with the law. News alert from Izzy: high school boys are really gross. I mean, really gross. Who knew? If she thinks her grandpa is really gross now, what does she think he was like in high school? More mature? In terms of open communication, either high school girls are different than boys or grandchildren are different than children. Or else Izzy is an outlier.

100 Days

Some of us around the age of 70 have been competing in a 100 Day Challenge to see who can accomplish the most by April 29th. On health care, I saved a thousand dollars already this year by not paying supplemental medical coverage premiums for my wife. I have continued to pay mine because I do not want to be a burden on her if I get sick. If my wife stays healthy, I will never find out what she thinks of my strategy. I have not fixed the fence that has fallen into our side yard because I expect my neighbor to pay for a new one. His predecessors took full responsibility for repairs. I thought that was because they had a pool and were legally bound to maintain fencing but I cannot find it in writing (for which I blame the previous owner of my house). I am worried because the grandchildren have reported sightings of illegal immigrants coming through the breach in the fence. They live like animals, trashing our garden, leaving piles of dirt on the grass, and depositing pellets everywhere. Some liberal judge claims I cannot poison them even though I pay so much income tax. I have not made any tax information public in this Blog because I have been too busy spending my free time taking Golf lessons. We are creating jobs at our house because my wife is finally making good on her threat to install air conditioning, apparently as an over reaction to global warning propaganda. I plan to convert our gas heat to coal but that has been postponed to my next 100 days which will be even more impressive. My neighbors, friends, and family mock me. But I am winning and they are just jealous.

Scholars

The good news is that I am a learner. Georg Hegel told me, “The learner always begins by finding fault, but the scholar sees the positive merit in everything.” So the bad news is that I am not considered a scholar. All I remember from Philosophy class is Hegel’s “thesis-antithesis-synthesis” triad. I used to cite examples of the concept to appear intellectual. But now I come to understand Hegel only used the terminology once and attributed it to Kant. It was largely developed by Fichte and spread by Chalybaus and Stamper. Hegel’s own philosophies seem to be at odds with the “thesis-antithesis-synthesis” model and modern learners discredit the idea as well. I am willing to still find positive merit in it if I can be promoted to scholar.

Fake Mud

Apparently I am now in style, wearing very expensive looking jeans. I have always tossed the ones that get holes in them or cut them off for shorts despite the hipness of ripped jeans. But I do wear the ones caked with dirt stains from my work on the steep slope in our garden jungle. Now I hear that Nordstrom is supposedly selling jeans caked in fake mud for $425. I would investigate further but I do not want to risk spoiling a great blog with facts. The good news is that the value of my mud stained wardrobe just went up and that people might not look down on me for the jeans I wear. The bad news is that people here in Bellevue might think I would buy fake mud caked jeans for $425 to look cool. The worse news is that I might get mugged and left in my underwear by thugs who would steal the pants off an old man for a quick profit.

Coleridge

Carl Sagan said, “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.” I am certainly a good example of the presumably sad truth in that statement. But I prefer the pursuit of humor, a softer discipline to be sure. I am fortified by the quote of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “People of humor are always in some degree people of genius.” Of course, he was probably trying to be funny. And he was definitely under the influence of opium when he said it.

Dress Code

The school I attended from second grade to sixth grade required uniforms for the girls. The boys could wear any pants and a collar shirt as long as they wore a tie. If you forgot your tie, the nuns made you wear an oversized tie and take messages to other classes as a walk of shame. I am not sure why I feared this so much. It sounds like something I would enjoy, maybe even forgetting my tie on purpose. Your shirt did not have to be white or blue. It could be plaid and your tie could clash. I know this because I see myself in old class pictures. My Mother obviously did not care if someone thought her boys were not dressed in high style which I think is cool as I look back. The plaid shirts were an advantage because it was harder to tell when you forgot to wear a tie. I was especially good at scratching my opposite shoulder to cover up the missing tie if I was in the line of sight of one of the nuns. We had 36 students in a class, so it was surprisingly easily to go undetected for a whole day. It was just as easy not to learn anything on any given day. When we moved to a different city, I was shocked that my new Catholic grade school did not require ties because I thought everything about Catholicism was universal. I especially remember one mother had her eighth grader wear his coat in school until she could bring him an ironed shirt. That was the first time I realized that some parents even had a stricter dress code than the school.

T. S. Eliot

Long before the computer age, T. S. Eliot famously asked, “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” Or, depending on the source, he may have asked, “Where is all the knowledge we lost with information.” He may have said it both ways and a doctoral dissertation probably exists that clarifies this point. But I do a daily Blog because research and accuracy are not my strong suits. However, Eliot was a poet whose words were very precise. He favored perfection over volume. I expect he preferred the quote to read one specific way. The difficulty with precision is that it binds your words tightly to you. Eliot’s reputation has suffered over the years for alleged antisemitism as evidenced by his description of Jews in some of his poetry. I am lucky to have an imprecise, sloppy style of communication because my future biographers will have plenty of room to interpret my words favorably by spinning them in the best possible light. Just make sure you do not read anything written by my unauthorized biographers. Until then, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled and walk upon the beach.

Pants

Earlier this month, I was walking through the mall with packages and I could feel my pants slip uncomfortably low. I am probably a natural 35 waist but off the rack pants usually come in even sizes. I can look good in 34’s when my weight is low but I hate the tightness if I splurge on a vacation. So I keep many 36’s to give me the appearance of looking thin. People will ask if I have lost weight when I am actually at my heaviest in those sagging 36’s. Some brands flatter their customers by making waistlines bigger than the published size. This is a disaster if my wife gifts me with a loose 36. Excessive belt hitching only makes things worse. Rather than fight a losing battle of setting down my packages and continually readjusting, I was gutting out the low slung look as long as possible. I noticed I had fallen into a group of young guys wearing their pants exactly like mine. If I were middle aged, someone might mistake me for trying to look younger. But I was clearly in the zone of old man who cannot keep his pants up. Hopefully I would not be mistaken for mocking dangerous looking kids. By all logic, I should be finally killing a tired trend, at least for the group I was walking with. When my oldest was around fourth grade, he started to use the word “bullhonky” as a moderate version of a stronger bull word. I was amused and started using it around the house. That killed that word for my boys. If sagging pants style ever totally dies, thank me for doing my part.

Evolution

At first blush, dietary excesses and lack of exercise seem to be destructive to the human condition. However, the long view may be that we are in transition as a species. Human beings are much bigger now than in earlier times. Our bodies have adapted to many threats, just as animals have evolved over the centuries. Perhaps the expansion of human waistlines is going to make us an even bigger people. Maybe we will be able to better survive junk food and pollutants because we are teaching our organs to tolerate such irritants. Of course, in the short term there will be casualties until our bodies develop sufficiently to absorb the negative substances. The only science class I took in high school or college was Chemistry but that teacher stifled creativity. So I am self taught in the sciences. This gives me the advantage of being unimpeded by research, logic, or alleged facts. I am thinking we may eventually become big round entities. Our four limbs will then be relatively smaller to our mass and we will roll places as those arms and legs will propel us around with paddling motions. In the future this Blog entry could be cited as a prescient insight (mocked in its day) but we will not have eyes as we know them today to read it.

Camp Muir

I have trouble hiking much higher than 10,000 feet, even though that is not considered a particularly high altitude. It certainly affects me adversely. I only made it to the top of Mt. Washburn (10,243 feet) because my hiking partner did not believe me when I told him to forge on ahead and that I would meet him at the top. He correctly judged that I would immediately turn around, so he stayed and bullied me upward. On Mount Adams, my sister-in-law and I foolishly tried to summit on a day hike instead of camping out at the 9500 foot shelf. She was pulling away from me at 10,000 feet. I yelled up that I was going to continue but that my slowing pace would not allow me to make the 12,280 foot summit before our turn around time. Unfortunately that information caused her to turn around. We got lost for two hours on descent so might as well have continued up. Prior to that climb, the two of us and my brother had day hiked up to Camp Muir (10,188 feet) on Mt. Rainier. I always knew I would never attempt the full Rainier climb. My Dad did it once in his late 50’s and he and my Mom attempted it earlier with her Cousin Pat. A surprise storm arose while they were camped at Camp Muir and the guides called for a hurried descent. My Mom has a deliberate pace in all endeavors and Dad was badgering her to climb down faster because she was slowing everyone else. She famously told him, “Cut me loose.” Despite the bravado, this was an idle threat as Dad was genetically incapable of doing that. I would never have uttered those words, though, because he would have accepted that logic and grabbed for his knife.