Every morning I wake up and tell myself I am happy to be alive even though many of my body parts do not awake until later in the day. Myself finds my affirmation less than convincing on days when we are faced with unpleasant drudgery. I procrastinate from dealing with pressing action items by crafting a daily Blog. I escape into philosophical questions of whether drudgery can ever be pleasant. I have the exhilarating freedom (another redundancy) of writing about anything I want. Other daily Bloggers are limited by subject matter specialties and facts. I am so impressed with Priyeshbanerjeept who has fashioned a one stop search destination for diseases. His WordPress site is a candy store for hypochondriacs. But imagine the precision and discipline needed to Blog one day about Diagnosis of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage and another day about Diagnosis of Amoebic Liver Abscess. I learned from Diagnosis of Acute Confusional State that a cute confusion is not really about a young child who cannot figure out how you made a coin disappear. Yesterday I started to write about the picture of a woman holding a poster that read: “Super callous Facist Racist Sexist bragga docious.” But instead of playing with the elaborate pun, I ended up with a piece on the nine types of humor. Freedom is exhilarating. Should I draft another Blog this morning or get back to the drudge?
Humor is funny. Funny peculiar and funny ha ha. Actually nine types of humor were identified in a 2017 Huffington Post article by Emily Blatchford: (1) Physical Slapstick is the most popular humor according to eHarmony. This explains the proliferation of Funniest Home Video shows. Clowns and mimes fall in this category. I think of Red Skelton and the Three Stooges. More educated people tend to prefer category five. (2) Self Deprecation humor is employed by stand-up comedians who make fun of themselves for laughs; (3) Surreal Humor features illogical, absurd, and nonsensical themes in events and situations in the tradition of Monty Python; (4) Improvisational Humor is comedy without a plan, impressively demanding jokes on the spot; (5) Witty Wordplay includes play on words, puns, and Dad jokes. My Dad (Mal) was most impressed by a fellow who began a coherent sentence “For Mal to hide…” in a conversation that included the topic “formaldehyde;” (6) Topical Humor requires knowledge of what is going on in the world and the ability to put Saturday Night Live type spins on it; (7) Observational Humor pokes fun at every day life. I think of Jerry Seinfeld; (8) Bodily Function jokes are traditionally popular with men, teens, and children; (9) Dark Humor has depressing underlying themes and is the least popular humor per eHarmony. Older people found everything less funny across all categories. This explains why my nine year old granddaughter thinks I am funnier than my contemporaries do. I am not getting less humorous over the years. My audience is just aging. Beware that the words “sense of humor” in dating apps mean different things to different people. If someone accuses you of not being able to take a joke or failing to see the humor, you may just be in different comedy categories.
In earlier Blog postings, I resolved riddles of whether the chicken or egg came first, if a falling tree makes sound with no one around, and if free will is an illusion. My current personal dilemma involves my increasing tendency to bang my head hard into unforgiving objects like open cupboard doors and automobile hatchbacks. Am I now flirting with concussions because I have damaged my brain with cumulated blows over the years so that my judgment and motor skills have been compromised like those of boxers and football players? Unlike Prize Fighters, I have been competing for free in head bumping. Or is my brain deteriorating on its own aging dementia trajectory, thereby causing my poor judgment? In other words, does hitting my head cause brain damage or is brain disease causing me to bump my head. While posing this question, I realized that the other conundrums involving chickens, eggs, trees, sound, and free will are more interesting to readers because they have more universal relevance. I do not even care that much about what activity or body part gets the credit for damaging me. Even if mildly interested, others would be satisfied with one of those sad news mass emails retirees forward with executive summaries like: “Some of you may remember Geoff from Labor Relations, the guy who enraged both the unions and upper management with lies and hypocrisy. We never could prove he stole from the coffee fund, so you should not hold that against him. I ran into his wife at the casino and she says he is suffering from a series of self inflicted blows to the head. Apparently the brain damage has actually improved his personality, so you might want to pay him a visit and gawk for yourself.”
You can learn a great deal playing the game Would You Rather (WYR). I learned one family member would rather finish second every time than win a championship once and finish at the bottom all the other times. I thought the question was a no brainer. I take the championship every time. I have already survived decades of bottom tears and years never to see the Mariners finish either first or second in a World Series, so I am anxiously awaiting the playoff payoff. Would you rather have the local NFL team or your own Fantasy Football team win? I learned not to do WYR Improvisations with my brother Kevin or son Dustin because their choices provoke Post-traumatic Stress Disorders. Not a single one would I print here and my standards are pretty low. Instead I present the following five timely ones to ponder with your morning coffee: (1) WYR win a billion dollar lottery in a country where a quarter of the population lives with inadequate or no health coverage OR WYR lose your job in a country without homeless or hungry people? (2) WYR have students all back in school OR WYR have bars, restaurants, and stadiums fully open? (3) WYR have Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court OR WYR go blind watching too many newscasts? (4) WYR pay a flat rate $750 income tax OR WYR be perceived as a sucker? (5) WYR have children of refugees and immigrants kept in cages OR WYR have your own children share a bedroom? (6) WYR have Covid-19 wiped out OR WYR have Donald Trump lose the Presidency?
The power went out at my house three times on Tuesday. It goes out and we work around losing our internet connection and stay out of the refrigerator for a few hours. The power comes back on and we spend a couple hours trying to find where the beeping is coming from, changing batteries even though they seem charged, fiddling with clocks that do not reset automatically, trying to reconnect the internet that remains offline, battling with the printer that is reprimanding us for not turning it off properly, and raiding the refrigerator. My daughter-in-law calls to say her power is off and she cannot get her car out of the Condo parking garage. So I pick her and my granddaughter up to resume homeschooling at our house. But our power goes out again and we repeat the process. I pick up my yard waste and food scraps that are dancing around my property after our bin overturns in the wind. Eventually I walk my granddaughter the mile and a half back to her Condo. I continue walking to Applebees and eventually my wife, son, and grandson join me. We hope the restaurant’s social distancing protocols are adequate to protect us from getting sick although we all stuff ourselves as if today’s mission depends on making ourselves sick. We all celebrate a good day, although we basically accomplished nothing. For me it was a better day than any day of going to work and accomplishing a much greater volume of nothing. I am just so happy to be alive.
My friend Sean uses the expression “Art for Art’s Sake.” What does that even mean? Is it justification for unpopular art or art that does not make any money? Is it a putdown of successful artists, a way for hacks like me to claim we are superior to others chasing fame and money? Does it have something to do with Linkletter and/or Carney? The expression was actually a Bohemian battle cry in France early in the 19th century. Those unconventional painters may have been motivated only for art’s sake but you can buy wall posters of their work from Etsy. Nietzsche says l’art pour l’art is like a worm chewing its own tail because an artist still expresses his or her being through their art. But what does Nietzsche know with a first name that identifies him as fried and rich? George Sand characterized the subject phrase as empty and idle, so I guess I am just jumping on another bandwagon long after the parade ended. Interesting that she expressed her own being with a male pen name and by wearing male clothing in public. The MGM film studio really corrupted the phrase by inscribing the Latin version above the Lion in their logo. This is like Bob Dylan using his music to sell whiskey and Cadillacs. Which is fine with me. I am definitely jealous that my friend Sean makes a living blogging daily, writing books, and performing his comedy routine on stage. I do not pretend to be above commercial interests. I am anxiously waiting for a promoter to accidentally find my Blog while googling suicide and thereby renew his interest in life by taking my writings viral.
Father Bob Camuso gave a great homily on Sunday, mostly because he said things I agree with which is my definition of greatness. I cannot quote him because I could not retrieve a pen once seated under Pandemic Rules requiring my continuous presence in an assigned space unless a bomb explodes within six pews of me. Father Bob mentioned a news junkie he knows who is over stressed with political divisions, pandemic outbreaks, natural disasters, employment uncertainty, and all the rest. But watching the news all day just adds to her stress. Father Bob leads us toward the idea of leaving more up to God while we seek ways to maintain peace with others in our life despite our differences. Father Bob had more meaningful insights and practical advice but I cannot do it justice. I could not even remember to get gas on the drive home from Church, let alone recall the preacher’s exact words several days later. In my orbit, the weight of the world set father against son as George McGovern liberalism went down in flames in 1972. And in 1980, the Iran hostages and a cratering economy propelled Ronald Reagan to victory while the threat of nuclear war strained relationships around me. I wish I did more actual work when serving on the Boards of a food bank and an addiction recovery center instead of arguing incessantly with others in my universe over philosophies for saving the world. We are never going to vaccinate away global hunger or alcohol and drug addictions. The good comes in trying. We do not need to turn against friends and family when we could put that energy to work doing something good in the world. Hating others with different visions is a waste of precious time. Right, Father Bob?
On Saturday, I was driving my six year old nephew from Seattle to my house in Bellevue. I was trying to make conversation for the twenty minute ride because I have always found silence awkward. I learned second hand that my middle son preferred driving to school with his brother rather than me because he liked that people could sometimes ride in silence. Even so, I bombarded my nephew with questions about school, his new nanny, and what he dreams about. I encouraged him to hold his breath in the Mercer Island tunnel. I am very competitive so I held mine as well even though I could have just pretended to because he could not see my face from his car seat in back. I learned several things: (1) the Mercer Island tunnel seems much longer than I remember; (2) my breath cannot be held anywhere near as long as it could in my youth; and (3) I could have passed out holding it too long. I shudder to think of my nephew surviving a car crash and telling authorities that we were competing to see who could hold their breath the longest right before the accident. My breath is now labored in addition to being bad. Do they sell Tic Tacs for shortness of breath? Now I hold my breath only when I am not driving. I definitely want to save as many breaths as possible in case the “breathe less, live longer” proponents in the Conscious Breathing movement happen to be right. Everyone in my family is encouraging me because I cannot talk while I am holding my breath.
My daughter-in-law Joanna introduced me to the teachings of Swami Amritaswarupananda. He has taught me much, including the word “infinitude” which describes the length of his name. Ancient Greek philosophers identified the riddle of free will versus determinism and we have been grappling with it ever since. I enjoy conundrums like whether the chicken or egg came first. But I get lost when the free will debate drowns in terms like incompatibilism, metaphysical libertarianism, and hard determinism. Swami A is more entertaining in making his point that our precious free will is in reality bound by countless limitations “like a cow tied to a tree.” He illustrates the point further with the parable of the guru who answered a disciple asking about free will. The guru asked him to raise one leg, then the other leg. The disciple realized he would lose his balance and fall. The guru explained that he had freedom to choose lifting either leg but that freedom ended once he lifted one of them. Swami A did not break down the more complicated equation for the tethered cow who has extra variables with four legs. I have found that my own free will is severely limited by my wife. I have no idea if she is free to give me a longer rope because compounding the riddle makes my head explode. I think I am free to post a daily Blog today or just skip a day. I can write whatever I want. Mollie is super mega awesome.
My wife and I have been slowly purging through our hoard but we have not even disposed of the low hanging fruit. I do not know why the purge is taking so long. Yesterday I found a replacement Motor Run Capacitor that I did not know I owned. So if I had needed one before today, I would have gone to Home Depot and bought a new one. I did not even know what it was. I looked it up on Wikipedia and I still do not know. I do know that it contains no dangerous PCB’s, so it was manufactured after 1977. I hope Goodwill knows what it is. One or two things will now happen within a week. Either something in my house will break down and need the replacement capacitor and/or I will remember why I owned one. I thought about regifting it in someone’s Christmas stocking but what if the recipient gave it to me last Christmas? Or what if they give it back to me next Christmas? My wife says she has solved the riddle of why our purge is going so slow. Something about me sitting down to Blog about every item that leaves the house. Today I will be evaluating whether I should recycle broken curtain rods. I might be able to fix them if we ever need new ones, although they could be from our former houses in Wichita and Edmonds. Or maybe I could just buy new ones if our current ones break. So many tough decisions.