About 13 years ago, I took a separate trail around a resting bison in Yellowstone much to the amusement of my three hiking companions who stayed on the path that passed closely by the huge beast. I considered staying with the others because I was fairly certain I could outrun them. But I knew it would look bad on video if I sprinted ahead of my wife while she was under attack. Better to be on another trail where I could explain that I was getting photos of wildflowers and bison scat and unable to get back and rescue everyone in time. So I wallowed along on Wimpy Trail and made witty reply to the catcalls, all the while feeling guilty for secretly hoping the bison would charge my mates, scare them senseless, and leave them unharmed. I am fairly certain I insisted on the unharmed requirement in my daydream. Yesterday I felt vindicated watching Good Morning America videos of bison attacks on tourists in Yellowstone. Even I did not realize how smart I was back in my bison stalking days.
Month: July 2019
Death Bed Conversions
Death bed conversions were popularized when the good thief expressed belief in Christ while they were both crucified and Jesus accepted the conversion. Such conversions are usually defined as the adoption of a particular religious faith shortly before death. In the United States, you are legally allowed to make a deathbed conversion from a religious faith to Atheism or Agnosticism but decision trees favor the reverse when impending post death unknowns are contemplated. I have always been fascinated and tempted by the efficiency of a deathbed conversion. I could save all the time and inconvenience of practicing a religion and just confess my sins to a Priest at the end and still be saved. The one catch being that I could be run over by a truck and denied a proper deathbed. My idea was to tape my conversion so it could play in the ambulance or while I am in a coma. It would also work if I am struck mute in punishment for my sacrilege. Video documentation could have eliminated controversy surrounding the disputed conversions of Sir Allan Napier MacNab (Protestant to Catholic), Oscar Wilde (Violent Papist to Catholic), Wallace Stevens (Modernism to Catholic). Historians have debunked Lady Hope’s claim that Charles Darwin reverted to Christianity from Agnosticism on his sickbed but a video recording would have been definitive. Unfortunately, I have procrastinated too long. My deathbed conversion strategy only makes sense for the young who have enough time to take advantage of youthful indiscretions.
Frozen in Time
John Adams was the second President of the United States. Before that, he was the lawyer for British troops involved in the 1770 Boston Massacre. David Ortman writes that “much has been made” of the Adams defense which led to six acquittals and two manslaughter convictions. Even though I was a History major specializing in early American history, I have no recollection of this episode. This is another example of me being blissfully ignorant of important moments even when much has been made of them. Lawyers often take unpopular cases in the pursuit of the ideal expressed in the last four words of the Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes the pursuit of money is intermingled with such noble concepts of justice. But Adams clearly became more radicalized by the time he signed the Declaration of Independence six years later. It scares me to think how radicalized I could become in six years. Could I be signing a petition supporting a third term for President Trump? Could I be part of a militant underground fighting for the overthrow of the Trump government? Or could I be frozen underground as part of the radical Cyronics movement?
Manipulation Gone Awry
If everybody just did what I want, theoretically my life would be pretty much perfect or at least as good as it gets given fates beyond human control. Since others have been reluctant to cater to my whims, I tried manipulation. After seven decades, my manipulation skills are not improving. I had no problem establishing a new center of the universe for my parents and grandparents. They anticipated my every need. When younger siblings began arriving, my work became more difficult. I had to remain adorable while undermining the usurpers, using age and size to my advantage. But aunts and uncles have their own children and teachers are inoculated against cuteness by the overwhelming volume of it. My biggest miscalculation was marrying a woman who was a first born controller like me. I figured I could enlist her to promote my agenda. But instead of doubling my power, she directed her efforts toward fulfilling her own master plan. Her plan is not specifically opposed to my own happiness but neither is it dedicated to making everyone do exactly what I want. These days I even find it difficult to control myself. Clearly I need to find the alternate universe where everybody is doing what I want.
Easy Come, Easy Go
I took only two business classes in my entire educational career, one in Economics and the other a Law and Accounting class. I did not learn much, partly because they seemed boring but mostly because I was too lazy to make an effort with the wonderful opportunities I was afforded. I still do not understand how companies like Tesla, Uber, and Lyft can lose billions, stay in business, and do well in the stock market. I am mystified by apps like TikTok. This is why I have not leveraged my own advantages into personal wealth. People like Donald Trump are smarter than me because they understand how to use tools like bankruptcy as weapons to maximize net worth. I am greedy enough to accumulate cash regardless of the methodology but I just do not have the brainpower. I am going to start telling people that I have a strict moral code and a disinterest in material goods that keeps me from exploiting certain loopholes. That way I can satisfy my vanity by projecting nobility instead of idiocy.
JD Yu came to my door campaigning for a seat on the Bellevue City Council. Normally I do not welcome solicitors of any kind for fear of encouraging the door to door sales model. But my granddaughter seemed to recognize Yu’s ten year old daughter from school. So I asked if they lived on Somerset because I always vote for anyone on our hill who might help protect our views and get snow plows up here. When Yu confirmed his Somerset residence, I jovially committed my vote. My tone lured my wife Mollie out of hiding. I introduced my new buddy Yu from Somerset and Mollie leaped on the Yu bandwagon. He asked to take our picture for his campaign materials. I love seeing myself in print but reluctantly declined. For all I knew he was living in North Bellevue and pushing to level Somerset for a new immigrant detention facility. I have been checking out Yu’s website which has a picture of a police officer next to Yu’s pledge to fully support police officers enforcing law. He also has nine young attractive people spliced into the website, including five artfully blurred in the background of a campaign slogan (JD Yu is for You) and a menu. So he still has not filled the senior citizen photo requirement. Now that I know more about him (JD stands for JingDong), I plan to volunteer my photo if he can give me some specifics on cutting down trees and plowing snow.
I could tell this Mueller fellow is super important because yesterday his live Congressional testimony was on so many channels at the same time. Even the Super Bowl is only shown on one channel. During that annual football holiday, at least I get commentators contemporaneously explaining everything, using graphics and replay technology to definitively tell me who is winning, who scored points, and who fumbled. During Congressional testimony, they save all that analysis for the post game and then nobody agrees on the result. After the Super Bowl, everyone agrees on the result but not on whether it was fair. Blame is the key element both in football and politics. Referees and Russians often take the blame for causing the wrong team to win. Yesterday I did confirm that Sponge Bob is the most important Bob because he preempted Mueller Bob on Channel 127 where I hang out when I am traumatized.
Although Smokey Bear has been under fire recently for not being able to tell the difference between good and bad fires, he is still the most recognizable personality in a long line of government mascots. Bert the Turtle, Woodsey Owl, Energy Ant, and various other animated cheerleaders have been tricking us into responsible behavior for 75 years. The current administration wants to promote what they believe will be the greatest mascot of them all. Donny Dingo will apparently be the catalyst for rounding up immigrants and shipping them to his native Australia. He will be depicted preying on sheep and cattle. I cannot remember where I read that. It might have been on a cocktail napkin I use to write down Blog ideas when I am drinking to forget.
I saw a swimming instructor in the Pool with a full black bodysuit on a cloudy day. I was taken aback because she wore black shoes, black gloves, sunglasses, a large floppy sun hat, and a face painted white with a thick sunscreen. She pointedly asked her pupil if she had ever lost an extremely close race. The instructor made it clear that a fraction of a second in efficiency could make the difference between winning and losing. Her passion suggested that she herself had once lost some important race by a very slim margin and that she still felt the sting of not doing more in her training. I later described this woman as odd to family members and they reminded me that I wear a long sleeve black swim shirt, gloves, and a thick coating of sunscreen in the Pool and that I stick out as more than a little odd. I also lost a very close unimportant race as a youth by not stretching my arm out more efficiently. But I avoided regret because I lost later races by huge amounts. A fraction of a second improvement for me is about as useful as another Donald Trump tweet. I am going to look for a pair of those black swimming shoes worn by the instructor to help me combat pool toe. She is going to be annoyed when people start asking her if that odd old guy is her husband or her father.
Good News, Bad News
I am afraid of virtual reality. I have enough trouble coping with my actual reality (even if I am living in a matrix). I do not know if my dreams are considered my personal reality or some form of virtual reality. In one recent dream, I started work in New Orleans, got lost trying to help my wife, and jogged down dark alleys looking for my coworkers. Robert Downey Jr. was worried I would lose my job. Downey’s appearance should have alerted me that I was dreaming. Dreams produce more anxiety attacks than my real life. The best words I hear in my life come from a loved one who says, “I have some good news.” More commonly I hear worst words like: Water is leaking everywhere; The biopsy is positive for skin cancer; The car is totaled. Ironically, my bad news days bring good news for plumbers, surgeons, and auto mechanics, respectively, no matter how empathetic they are. So too, my rare good news (e.g., a job promotion) is likely bad news for someone else. The Seattle Seahawk Super Bowl win showered great joy to so many but also devastated the entire Denver Bronco nation. Donald Trump proves all words bring joy to someone when he delights white supremacists with language of hate.