Berry Colorful

Blackberries and blueberries are still named after their colors. But they may not be able to hold on to that distinction for long. Green berries have been relabeled banana berries for marketing purposes. Banana is botanically a berry but is now greedily annexing green berries. The Green Berry in Coral Gables was rebranded to Banana Berry in 2019, presumably because green equates to unripe in fruit. Pinkberry is a yogurt chain. Corporate naming is taking over everywhere. This is not just aesthetically displeasing but jacks up product prices to cover advertising costs. Look what happened to stadiums and arenas. We get KFC Yum! Center in Louisville and Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi. Eventually college football teams will be playing in the Kohler Toilet Bowl. Red could not hold onto any of its berries. The early English Barrister firm of Straw, Rasp, and Holly was awarded those berry prefixes as part of their fee in a legal dispute between Appleby and Appleton Farms. Many other colors like purple and orange sold out their berry names to the cannabis industry. Despite pledging to fight against Corporate encroachment until they are black and blue, rumors persist that Johnnie Walker Blackberries and IBM Blueberries are coming soon.

Samsara

One of the reasons I never have enough time to accomplish anything is the urgency of living. If I do not breathe every few seconds, I will literally die. So I am consumed every minute of every day just breathing. Sure, I can multi task like most people. Finding and eating food, hydrating, grooming, sleeping, and performing other necessary bodily functions are all juggled concurrently with breathing. Trying to overlay an array of more complicated human activities into the existence equation can become mind numbing. I drift aimlessly, wandering through the mundane. I think I am in the Samsara desert. Samsara is another concept I know nothing about, so is a perfect topic for me. Composing words about something I already know is boring. So I concentrate on blogging my ignorance just like some people tweet their ignorance. This adds excitement to my transmigration and allows me to relate to others who publicly purge their faulty emptiness throughout their life and rebirth cycle. Ironically the world often rewards this behavior with riches, titles, and fame. I am fairly certain that Indian religions linking Samsara to karma are very much opposed to the worshiping and parading of ignorance. But I just do not know. I am too busy breathing right now to do any actual research. My new fancy Fitbit counts my breaths and I am going for a personal record today.

The Fly

On Father’s Day morning, my eight year old granddaughter Zofia and I noticed a fly buzzing around a big picture window trying to get back outside. I opened a nearby door but fly number two entered while fly number one resisted all my efforts at redirecting him to a better world. I can more successfully relocate crawly things by maneuvering them onto a sheet of paper, racing outside, and dumping them on the edge of our property. They will likely reward my kindness by finding their way back into the house. But I can not justify depositing pestilence in someone else’s yard. I am not even a noble advocate for insects, flies, and all their assorted cousins. I just have a unilateral policy that these little critters can live as they please outside my home. If they return, I cannot guarantee their safety. Fly number one was so exhausted from his efforts to escape that he could only rest as an easy target. I left him alone while philosophizing with Zofia that I was a powerful being in the fly’s universe. I was determined to grant him a salvation that he wanted more than I did. But he was just as sure that I was the enemy imprisoning and harassing him. It was an easy leap to view humans as the flies, endlessly banging into barriers, avoiding any help from God to find the path to eternal life. My wife interrupted my homily to tell us we were going to be late for our 11:00 am church service. We resisted on the theory that we were having a spiritual breakthrough at our own Sunday service. As the higher authority, she persisted, shooed us out the door, and deposited us at an outdoor Mass.

Inner Beauty

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Humans can be beautiful. Sometimes in the eyes or hair or cheekbones or some kind of combination. Beauty seems to occur organically with youth. To be sure, beautiful people do come in all ages. Enlightened beholders can see the beauty in aging humans who wear scars of life with the dignity of someone who has been infected with goodness. But the beauty of youth is blinding. I have a vanity that prompted me to keep my body lean and trim for the last 45 years. I worked harder on preserving outer beauty than developing inner beauty. The difficulty comes in preserving youth above the neck. My head totally destroys the effect of being in physical shape. It would be like Victor Frankenstein stitching Taylor Lautner’s head on his monster. The body parts clash. I do not know why I thought I would be an exceptional freak of nature and retain my age 30 face and hair forever. It did not seem like an outrageous expectation. I was no Robert Redford or Brad Pitt so I was not asking for perfection, just my own darn head. I am trying to console myself with the thought that in 25 years I will be looking at my current pictures and marveling at how good I looked at age 72. By then, Taylor Lautner will not look so hot either and I will have had enough time to acquire that inner beauty stuff.

Jonesers

I thought I was in the same generation as my siblings. But according to Jennifer Finney Boylan, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, my three remaining younger siblings are Jonesers. As an aside, I am a non contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. Wandering back on topic, Generation Jones describes the second half of the Baby Boomer generation, those born around 1954-1965. Generations are shrinking in inverse proportion to the actual time from birth to parenthood. The Jonesers want to be free from the Baby Boomer stereotype, so they have opted for their own unique stereotype. Well, not so unique. Kind of like how each new generation dresses and grooms exactly the same because they are all non conforming to their parental units. I do not think my siblings even know they are Jonesers. But then we are a generation apart, so I do not know that much about them. I am actually part of another subgroup seceding from the Baby Boomers. Why would we want to be called babies? The Narcissist Generation began with Donald Trump’s birth on June 14, 1946 and lasted through August 20, 1947, when a vaccine was finally discovered by Dr. Spock. Babies born after me nursed on Vulcan Juice and allegedly avoided the consequences of the Narcissism Pandemic (NOVID-18). I do not actually know for sure because I am focused entirely on myself.

Pandemic Swimming

Our extended family has lived at the Somerset Recreation Club Pool for four months during each of the last six summer seasons. In 2019, Sebastian went swimming 91 times but fell short of his record 103 visits in 2016. He and I are often the only members signing in on cold and rainy days. The lifeguards draw lots to see who gets to don winter garb and climb the chair to watch us play tag in the pool. I am not sure why I record our attendance. I divide our membership fee by our visits to calculate what a great deal we are getting but the statistic compulsion is a deeper disorder than just that. The pandemic has ruined both swimming and record keeping. We are eligible for a prorated refund but pressure is mounting to donate it back to the financially strapped Club. On June 18th, Governor Inslee allowed a very limited opening of the Pool. Two lanes are contracted out to swim team lessons and two lanes are reserved for members to swim laps in half hour increments. No play is allowed and strict protocols are followed. I have had no problem reserving lanes because not many kids are agitating to swim laps next to old people and competitive swimmers. Welcome to the store where you can have as much free candy as you can fish out of the toilet bowl. Even so, my grandchildren are incensed that I go to the Pool without them. Sebastian thinks I am cheating to beat him in the statistical count which is only partially true. So I turned on the backyard sprinkler for them last Saturday. Sebastian declined to participate and Zofia lasted just four minutes running through the water alone. I timed her for the record.

Crowd Size

President Trump should not be discouraged by underwhelming attendance at his Tulsa rally. His base is still going to vote for him. Some just do not want to get sick or die for him. They do not care if he asked whether Finland is still part of Russia. At least he apparently knew Finland was adjacent to Russia and had been part of the Russian Empire. He probably wanted to know if he had to kiss Putin’s ring before buying or invading Finland and whether the Soviets were still mad at the Finns for joining the Nazi attack on Russia. When George W. Bush could not name the leaders of India and Pakistan, I doubt I could. I can look up the name of Finland’s President or ask Ken Jennings to identify the entire Finnish cabinet. Neither Jennings, Trump, or I should be President. But people voting for Trump care about the things most people care about. Do they have a job with health care? Are their children safe and getting educated? Can they afford a home or pay the rent? Can they buy food? The environmental forecasts for 2100, 2050, or even 2030, are not as important as whether their car will start tomorrow. Trump has plenty of voters who feel they are better off with him. Unfortunately his Democratic competition inevitably gets narrowed to followers not leaders. I voted for Hillary who was not the leader of a Me Too Movement. Joe Biden, like me, will jump on Democratic trains heading for the White House. But after over half a century as a politician, he only now gets the unwanted touching protocols. At age 77, the Black Lives Matter Movement has awakened him to the urgency of that issue. Imagine what he will learn in his 80’s as President.

Jeopardy

I was playing Jeopardy on Zoom last week and learned a few things. I discovered that Golden is a city in Colorado and Orange is a city in New Jersey. To make room for that information, I had to delete from my brain my Kindergarten teacher’s name and the quadratic equation. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the factoids in my head are practicing social distancing and so capacity has been cut to 50% in Phase 2 Old Age. I also learned that following a simple instruction like ringing a bell before shouting out an answer is very difficult for me when I am under pressure. My Kindergarten teacher tried to teach me the sequence of raising my hand before reciting the quadratic equation but I never mastered that skill. And frankly I cannot even figure out where the pressure is coming from when I am in a virtual cocktail hour with friends who would appreciate hearing funny wrong answers more than boring correct ones. And the host announced that the winner would receive a PCC shopping spree at their own expense. I do not even need one of those. I learned that my television is defective when I identified orange as the color of the French Open clay courts. Apparently they are red and that cost me some virtual money. I think another round of Jeopardy has been scheduled so I have been practicing at home. Any time my wife asks when I am going to take the garbage out, I ring a bell before answering. This gets more hysterical every time I do it, partly because my wife gets less amused with the repetition. I am hoping she will eventually just take out the garbage herself.

Grass Furniture

The latest outdoor recliner (Terra! v2.0) is nearly carbon neutral and caters to the modern demand for sustainably. You can print and cut the interlocking corrugated cardboard at home into several versions of lawn furniture. You weight the structure with rocks or clay and pack about 90 gallons of moistened sandy soil into the shape of a recliner, spread grass seed, and water. In a few months, you own an environmentally friendly piece of functional lawn art. It should be the next big thing because the only minor negatives are: (1) you cannot mow it, so you will have to hand cut; (2) you will need to pull weeds or sit in the poison you use; (3) you might need a blanket to avoid grass stains and bugs; (4) you cannot move the furniture to avoid sun, shade, or croquet balls; (5) you cannot bury dead bodies in your backyard because your burial mound will raise suspicions. But the pictures look cool. I am going to hang a photo of one in the living room and tell visitors I am about ready to build a whole set. Remember, people in grass chairs should not throw the first shovel away.

Waste Not

I went inside and ate meals at restaurants right after Mike Pence declared the end to Coronavirus. We did not need a vaccine after all. The natural extinction is not totally burned out but we are stomping on the embers. Normally I would be more cautious but I tend to embrace news I want to hear. I was not anxious to be first in line for a restaurant seat but admit to accepting invitations, one from my youngest son and one from my wife. I am weak when pressured by others. I avoid protest marches because I fear someone will convince me to start looting. For those more responsible than me, I will pass on my first hand observations. We were seated too far away from other customers to easily eavesdrop on their conversations. One woman seemed to be gloating to her female friend that her son was breaking up with his wife or girlfriend (I could not catch the exact status). The gloater had seen the breakup coming for some time, citing the disrespectful attitude said partner was giving her as the mother-in-law type figure. I could only hear bits and pieces but I expect the narrator was a big part of the failed relationship. Another difficulty is that you cannot swipe uneaten food from a neighboring table before a server clears it off. The occupied tables are just too far apart. Oops, my twitter feed is blowing up, so I want to emphatically deny for the record ever swiping a stranger’s food. I am going to check snopes.com to see if anyone has actually done it. If so, I am talking about those people.