I was relaxing one evening in November doing light reading. My wife was away on a much needed overnight sabbatical at a lakeside retreat. Suddenly I heard screaming for me from throughout the house. My son and one grandchild were yelling from the kitchen upstairs that the dishwasher was on fire. Meanwhile my daughter-in-law and another grandchild were shrieking that the lights downstairs were all flickering. I raced around, quickly settling on the dishwasher since it was likely the root cause of all the chaos. Sickly sweet smelling smoke was billowing from the vents when I received a text message from my wife: “I made it. I’m having a glass of wine and a dessert.” I had many emotions racing and texted back: “Dishwasher caught fire. Somebody put plastic silverware in it.” I knew, of course, that she was the culprit because everyone else had long ago gone to washing everything by hand because during its four year life, the dishwasher had never cleaned much of anything and the upper rack was always collapsing. I thought my text might generate a phone call but I received a text: “Does the dishwasher need to be replaced?” On cue, it proceeded to make loud popping noises and appeared to finally expire, leaving only the smell and all the standing water. Our kitchen is obviously due for a kitchen remodel with only two working stove top burners and an oven making strange noises. Still my wife came home and told me that for $150, she could get a repairman out to see if the dishwasher could be fixed. I was flabbergasted that she considered this a legitimate option. Not giving up for four years is nothing new for my wife. I am beyond repair and on year 49.
Month: November 2017
A popular saying notes that the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the American Declaration of Independence are all 300 words or less. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is another example of profound brevity. This small sampling becomes the basis for mocking the bureaucratic excesses of lesser writings. A punchline is circulated that 26,911 words are allegedly contained in the European Economic Community Directive on the Export of Duck Eggs. The deviled egg is obviously in the details. My difficulty is threefold. First, the Declaration of Independence is surely more than 300 words, especially if counting the signatures. I am not going to actually split hairs by counting the words because I do not want to decide how many words “self-evident” is. And I am ducking any assertion that the EEC Directive is legitimate as I do not want egg on my face when I am too lazy to do the research. Second, the Declaration should have been even longer because it forgot to clarify that the rights of “men” and “Men” therein specifically apply to women and slaves as well. Third, my Blog is never over 300 words and that relative frugality undercuts any notion that shortness equates to the profound.
In light of the recent bestiality and witchcraft allegations made against Roy Moore and his family, Vladimir Putin has asked him to bow out of the Senate campaign. Moore says he would step down but the Alabama Republican Party is threatening to release damaging information about him unless he remains in the race. Meanwhile Al Franken feels so cleansed by his own recent admission of sexual misconduct that he is volunteering information about his other improprieties. Besides the shocking revelation that he was groped by Roy Moore several times, Franken also intends to provide the Senate Ethics Committee with details of illicit relationships with over a dozen Republican Senators. And he has the high school yearbooks to prove it. President Trump took to Twitter to damn Franken and castigate Hillary Clinton for her husband’s “foul sexual escapades.” Learning for the first time that Hillary does not replace him if he is ousted from the Presidency, The Donald has turned his attention to Mike Pence whom he now describes as a “Moral Midget and a Mental Moron.” Pence issued the retort “I know you are but what am I?” as he exited early from a beach volleyball competition in St. Petersburg to protest the skimpy outfits of the competitors. If he is able to reenter the U.S. through a massive hole in the Trump Border Wall, he will lead a Prayer Vigil for victims of harassment from panhandlers. Ivanka Trump has condemned the sexual misconduct of all politicians except for her father. She distinguishes his taped boasts of sexual conquests as lies, reminding everyone that her father “is all talk and no action.” Steven Soderbergh announced James Spader will be starring in a film based on the scandals which is titled Sex, Lies, and Videotape II.
The Past, Present, and Future walk into a bar. It was tense. I planned to use that old joke in a Blog rant about illogical tenses but fell asleep reading a draft. Two days ago, the television woke me with news stories about accusations of sexual misconduct against Senate candidate Roy Moore. He was using his civil suit against accusers as an excuse for temporarily going silent and commentators were demanding we listen to victims more. I realized the words “silent” and “listen” are linked as anagrams because my mind wanders to the trivial whenever important stuff is being discussed. The same six letters form the word “enlist” which I connect to the debate about which forums should be used where accusers would testify under oath. I would enlist a jury of Moore’s peers to sit in judgment. In this case, peers would be prominent men who have been linked to sexual misconduct in the past, present, or future. Moore should accept being judged by others who have been so accused as preferable to standing trial in the Press and being attacked by his enemies. And yet public figures should be able to balance their own personal failings against higher standards they would presumably espouse for others. For example, many smokers agree that smoking is a bad thing. Possible jurors could include Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and now Al Franken. Judge Judy could preside and the tense drama could be televised in the reality show format favored by the public. Hoist the circus tents. Old schoolers will dismiss this suggestion as absurd but the idea is less outrageous than electing Trump President. Think how far fetched that seemed just a few years ago.
A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep
In his book Black Holes and Baby Universes, Steven Hawkins makes the following observation: “I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” I assume he said that because I did not actually read his book. I go through life taking short cuts to satisfy my limited attention span. I read book and movie reviews to gain some nuggets of familiarity with publications and films. I do not do this to pretend I actually read or viewed something. I am always willing to acknowledge my skimming tendencies. It allows me more time to sample a wider variety of life like playing solitaire on the computer or watching Perry Mason reruns on television. And I am still able to deduce an amazing amount of valuable information from my strategic investment of time. For example, I assume Hawkins is saying that Black Holes and Baby Universes are not predetermined. Depending on choices made by scientists, the President, and people emitting gas, we could just as easily end up with Baby Holes and Black Universes. Thanks to this Blog, you no longer need to read Hawkins’ book either. In fact, if you got this far on this posting, you are ignoring the skimming rule of just reading the first sentence of each paragraph to get the gist of anything important.
No matter what you do in life, you cannot control how your actions are perceived or remembered or what fictionalized accounts will be spread. Others, even your enemies, have a large measure of control over your legacy. Canute (Cnut) was King of England, Denmark, and Norway in the early eleventh century. He was credited with illustrating the vanity of secular power by commanding the tides to stop. One version of the story portrays Canute admonishing and educating courtiers that God has the supreme power. But through the ages the incident began to cast Canute as an example of ultimate arrogance. His name became a negative buzzword used to damn others accused of deifying themselves and/or promising to deliver the impossible. A third view is that the story is entirely apocryphal like George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. So Canute’s most recognized achievement is by different measures flattering, damning, and fictional. I wonder how he would choose to be remembered. He did unite the North Sea Kingdom (with part of Sweden even). I do not particularly mourn any possible misrepresentations of Canute because he is not me or my kin. Besides, for all I know, he likes references comparing President Trump to him. And I am envious of anyone who can be remembered at all after a thousand years.
In a five minute period on Friday, I received four forwarded articles in my email. First came a HuffPost piece on “affluenza” which made the point that money creates less empathy, clouds moral judgment, is linked to addiction, creates troubled children, taints the wealthy with the perception of evil, and cannot buy love or happiness. The second Tonic article explained scientifically how the stress of poverty can change the brain in ways that disadvantage the poor. Thirdly, Norman D. Livergood writes about “The Demonic Cabal’s Economic War Against the World” which has something to do with whether American currency is backed by gold and silver. The final compelling question from Hermes Press is “Will Workers Survive?” The sheer volume of such forwards should oppress anyone but in my case, I do not discourage family and friends from sending them because I have a hungry daily Blog to feed. These four articles combine to make the depressing point that money screws the wealthy, the poor, and the working class in between. Too much unfiltered data, some of it from crackpots and Russians, is what actually affects our brains negatively by overwhelming us with the futility of it all. I am embarrassed that I am relatively happy and optimistic because others might view me as obtuse as Nero and Marie Antoinette were on that fatal day when they were fiddling and eating cake as civilization crumbled. Or I guess almost crumbled. I do have to admit my postings are part of the overload problem, existing on an internet that demands no minimum standard of value. My Blog lurks waiting to trap and addict you into investing your valuable time. If only it could make me rich and really happy!
Someone whose name is lost to me said that he loves to wave at random people because he enjoys knowing that for the rest of the day those people will be trying to figure out who the man waving at them was. Well, it does not work that way. If I wave at random people, they know exactly what is happening. They immediately understand that the crazy old man who needs a haircut is waving at strangers again. Some kind-hearted people wave back at me. Some even try to give me money which I am never too proud to accept because it makes them feel good. But if you are bound and determined to cause mischief, just wave at another man’s girlfriend. From a safe distance.
The problem with caller ID is that my wife can tell when I am calling her from my cell phone. I have no way to disguise that fact after I have told her I cannot find my phone anywhere, demand to know where she hid it, and accuse her of taking it with her. Other than the initial embarrassment of hearing the words, “You are calling me on it,” the consequences are light. I spend the day concocting a story of how I was just creating a humorous Blog posting. When she gets home, I begin by asking, “Remember that call I made to you earlier today?” And she replies, “No, what call?” The convenience of our minds deteriorating in tandem is offset by the fact that we no longer have a lucid spokesperson for our team.
I used to think a 401k was an ultra marathon race for crazy runners who compete in 240 mile competitions to prove they are legally insane. Then I found out you did not have to run the race if you just donated money to get out of it. Like paying for another person to satisfy your military obligation rather than trying to prove insanity. Now that I am over 70, the government is saying that I have to take back some of the 401k money I contributed (but they do want to tax me on it). I hope this does not mean they finally plan to draft me. Perhaps they are just worried about the scandal of selling deferments. I was categorized IY by my draft board in a notice that arrived on Christmas Eve 1968. It was the best Christmas present ever. I assume Mom paid for it because Dad definitely interpreted my excessive celebration of unfitness as unpatriotic. The best part was I never even had to take a physical. I guess my reputation was common knowledge around town. People were probably saying things like, “Look at that Stamper kid, he is such a mess that the Army will not even give him a physical.” I went on to flunk a Bar Exam in 1972 and a driver’s license test in the 1990’s. But at least I was allowed to take those examinations. Maybe the draft board was afraid I would pass the physical because pretty much anyone could during the Vietnam War. I later ran 14 Marathons but not in full uniform and carrying a weapon. And definitely at a pace too slow for a battlefield. But I am thinking of suing somebody because I never got a fair shot at becoming a Veteran.