Many times many is few enough….

Ffolkes,
I know I’m weird. Strange. Abnormal. Off the beaten path by a few yards…. but, does that mean that Murphy should pay closer attention to what I’m doing? Not in my book, but apparently in his….. It is less than 36 hours from the good sleep and physical well-being that defined the day yesterday, and I am on a completely different schedule. Yesterday, up at 4 AM, three hours to make a Pearl, and we’re on our way into the day. Today, it is after 8 AM and I’m just now getting rebooted and on the keyboard….. just couldn’t get up at 5 like I planned.

And pain? Well…. let’s just say it is being a bit more obvious today, and let it go at that…. I’ll be using a couple extra pain pills today, for sure…. and the process of making a Pearl promises to take a Herculean effort. But, hey, I’ve got nothing better to do, so, I may as well quit complaining and get on with it…. shall we Pearl? I think we’d better….
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“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” — Albert Einstein

Albert was a smart guy, but here, I think, he was hedging his bets. I think it more likely that, if there is a World War III, then there won’t be anyone around who is interested in fighting another World War afterward. Nuclear power used as a weapon won’t leave enough people alive for them to have the time to worry about another country; there will be no “winner” in such a war. If, and that is a very large if, there are any people still alive after a nuclear war, they’ll be far more interested in finding someplace to grow food that won’t further irradiate them than they are in continuing hostilities with other folks….

Even Albert was subject to underestimating the power of human stupidity, and if people ever get so stupid as to use nuclear weapons, it will prove that our stupidity is both beyond belief, and beyond all doubt….. What frightens me the most is that the people who have the power to start any such war are the same people who have already proved their stupidity and lack of common feeling, merely by seeking office, and I don’t think I trust them very far to make the best decisions….

It’s something that not even I can think about for long, as it can only cause stress and fear; there is no real solution, other than to hope that the people who’ve been chosen to lead our countries have enough sense to avoid that particular road…. It’s a faint hope, but the only one we have….

“Better contraceptives will control population only if people will use them. A nuclear holocaust can be prevented only if the conditions under which nations make war can be changed. The environment will continue to deteriorate until pollution practices are abandoned. We need to make vast changes in human behavior.” — B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity
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“You would think living alone would free me from all the normal burdens of responsibility that people complain or worry about, but all living alone does is increase your psychological weight, as if your soul were living on Jupiter. It tends to make you more important to yourself and exaggerate your problems to the point that they’re insurmountable afflictions.” — from a fictional novel, supposedly spoken by T. Ruzak, in “The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs”, a book by Richard Yancy

As part of my make-up reading, the above novel is the first I’ve picked up. It’s pretty entertaining so far…. the hero is a man who lives in a mental state much like my own, full of questions about reality, and self in relation to that reality. This is a particularly insightful piece of writing, and echoes my own thoughts on this matter surprisingly closely.

“This world may be only illusion–but it’s the only illusion we’ve got.” — Edward Abbey

When one lives alone, there isn’t anyone to bounce ideas off of, or to check out some interpretation of reality that seems questionable. No corroboration, so to speak, of the crime. Other folks, and indeed, real society, seem far away and unimportant, since the only time it intrudes is when I make the effort to go out into it, or put forth some effort to contact some part of it. 

In effect, the only time I have company is when it is volitional on my part; only my few life long friends, and my kids, call me with any regularity. (Of course, this doesn’t count telemarketers and wannabe creditors, who are no doubt calling; I wouldn’t know as I hang up on any number I don’t recognize, as a precautionary measure to keep from losing my temper more than once a day….)

Living alone, as I’ve stated before, also has a lot of benefits, such as deciding who to see and when to see them (the other side of the coin also has value, as with most coins of this nature….). I’ve learned, since being so peremptorily sent off to retirement, to appreciate those benefits, as I haven’t had the opportunity to live alone for many years, since before I got married & had kids.

But, what Mr. Yancy related above remains a danger, as it is very tempting to fall into the trap of over-reflection on what is real and of importance, and fall into depression from too much negative emotional turmoil. I suppose one could say that maintaining a sane balance is still the most important thing to remember; both solitude and relationship have their advantages, and their disadvantages, and the key to successful living lies in balancing the two….

“The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly deceived.” — Oscar Wilde
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“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring.
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

~ John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

No comments here, just a poetry break….

“Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” ~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti
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“Our words must seem to be inevitable.” ~ William Butler Yeats

Yesterday, I managed to get to a couple of sites I’d been missing before I was unable to sit any longer. On my friend Carol Welsh’s site, at  Flowers, Trees, and Other Such Gifts of Nature, I found the above quote. She often posts quotes from authors I know, and others I’ve never heard of, and all of them are of equal quality as this one by Yeats. In fact, she has so many that she has graciously offered to let me browse them to find those what may be useful as pearls…. Yay! And thanks…. a whole new database to plunder!…..

Any who…. when I read the above, another person had commented that it made them think about finding exceptions, for some reason. I responded to that by saying that, if considered as being applicable to writing only, it is a very good goal, and one we all could take to heart in our writing. It is certainly a quality that I seek when I write. To put together just the right set of words, to turn a phrase from mundane to beautiful, to make the words seem inevitable, that is indeed a worthy undertaking…. and one which all of who write should at least consider as a tool of value, if not completely adopt as a feature…..

With that in mind, I think it is inevitable at this point to let this stand as it exists, as I don’t see how I can improve it much with a lot more verbiage…. So, onward…. but keep in mind that the above statement is a goal of this blog, and feel free to comment if and when it ever occurs….
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Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

– William Butler Yeats, “He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”

I wasn’t looking for a poem, but there it was, so here it is…. Please tread softly here, for you tread on my dreams…..
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I was right…. this has been quite an ordeal. Thanks again to Carol Welsh for her contributions to this morning’s effort. I found, and used, at least two quotes from her files, and saved several more for later use; doing so saved me a lot of time and frustration on a morning that really needed it. I’m not sure how this turned out; I guess the proof will be in the pudding, er, posting…. Any who, y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you….


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Kowabunga!

Table hopping at Godot’s public house….

Ffolkes,
Guilt is a powerful motivator for us humans. Whether we approve of it as an emotion, or fight to eradicate it from our emotional pantheon, it remains as effective at 61 as it was at 16. We cannot help our response to it; we may be able to control that response, and deny guilt what it wishes us to do. Denying the feeling, however, has a price, as it causes the guilt to deepen, and cause even more distress to the organism than initially felt, which is part of why it is such an effective motivator.

Guilt trips:  The nuclear weapon of relationships… — Smart Bee

Why have I woken up feeling guilty? Well, it has to do with this blog, and the wonderful ffolkes who stop by regularly to read it. In the last week or so, I’ve been in a struggle to maintain equilibrium, one of the nice little gifts that having PTSD brings me. One of the side effects of this struggle is a lack of concentration, in this case taking the form of not being able to sit for long, or to concentrate for long on tasks such as reading, as the problems my mind is chewing on keep intruding into the activity I’m trying to carry on.

This makes it really hard to get to all the blog sites I want to, to read what other folks are writing, or see the pictures they’ve taken. It especially bothers me that I can’t see the work of my favorite poets (and poetesses) to keep up my quota of absorption of beauty….. (It also affects the process of creating Pearls, but we won’t get into that right now, as it just feeds the alligator, if you get my drift….)

Hence, the guilt, as I feel I am not fulfilling my duty to them. For that guilt I do not apologize; I do so, however, for not being able to get to their sites, and hope that they will understand. I’m a fast reader, and once I’m able to concentrate long enough to do so, I will get caught up to what has been done in my absence; that is without doubt.

So, to those of my friends who haven’t seen me on their site of late, please forgive me, and rest assured I will be back. It has taken ALL of my considerable mental effort to produce these Pearls each day, but soon I’ll have some extra to spread around, and will be heading over to the sites of those ffolkes who regularly check out mine first thing….and thanks for being patient with my broken brain….

There…. now that I have assuaged at least a portion of the guilt I’ve been making myself suffer from, we can get on with the day’s more important business. Shall we Pearl? I think we shall….
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“Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul.” — Mark Twain

“If you have a particular faith or religion, that is good. But you can survive without it if you have love, compassion, and tolerance. The clear truth of a person’s love of God is if that person genuinely shows love to fellow human beings.” — Dalai Lama

Same idea, as far as I can tell, just expressed differently. In the case of the Dalai Lama, clear, complete, and precise, naming the key elements. In the case of Mr. Twain, deceptively simple and humorous, yet equally broad in scope. One can often see the value of an idea by how well it combines with another, and in this case I think that works quite well, as we may then summarize the two to say, “Love, compassion, and tolerance make for a tidy soul,” which I think is an excellent lesson, and would make a very good koan for meditation. In practice, it holds up just as well, as I have yet to see any display of love, compassion, or tolerance that had a negative effect on reality.

Every religion, or religious philosophy, that I have studied over the years has these three ideas at their core; it is the one area where they all agree. Yet, the application of any of them remains limited to those times when expediency allows it, and very few others. In spite of the centuries of teaching these traits to their devotees, I can see very little evidence that the majority of mankind pays any attention to them outside church, unless it is somehow to their advantage to do so.

This makes what the Dalai Lama said even more relevant, when he noted that one does not NEED a religion to act with love, because it is plain that just having the religious bent does not guarantee such behavior. In fact, it seems to make it easier for people to ignore it, as they know that any transgressions or failures on their part will be forgiven….

It would do very little good for me to further chastise us as a species for our lack of moral behavior, so I’ll not. But I will say that I would wish to see more love, compassion, and tolerance at play in the world at large before I will ever recommend religion, or religious philosophy, to anyone as a cure for immorality, at least, not as one to use outside of the confines of their particular sect. The real world wouldn’t know what to do if it were ever faced with a general outbreak of morality from mankind…. it could shatter the very bonds that hold Reality together, destroying the universe, and life as we know it, for all time…. Is it worth the risk?….. Well, no matter, I don’t see much chance of a huge outpouring of love, compassion, and tolerance happening in the near future, so the risk is small…..

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. you only need a heart full of grace. a soul generated by love.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
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“I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime.”  — Johnny Legend

When I was in my 30’s, I worked a couple of years as a trash collector in Oxnard, CA. In many ways, it was my favorite among all the jobs I’ve had in my life, even more so than being a chef, which was otherwise the most challenging and fulfilling of my chosen professions. But, working outdoors, doing hard physical work, turned out to be very fulfilling, in more ways than just the physical.

I was performing a valuable service to society, even discounting the flaws in the entire system that causes society to produce so much trash that the service is essential to the continued functioning of that culture. Without getting the trash out of the way, society would not just grind to a halt, it would create an environment much more dangerous, from a health standpoint.

This society, world-wide, produces more trash than you can imagine. The sheer bulk of what was moved in one day, in one city, continuously astounded me. Let me crunch a couple of numbers here, to give you a small idea…. I worked for a time on what is called an industrial pickup route, in a truck designed to pick up the trash contained in those large dumpsters all over in the alley ways behind businesses. This truck would hold anywhere from 7 to 10 tons of trash before needing to go to the dump site to unload. Our route usually produced enough to load up twice in one 8 hour shift, so I will average our daily load to 10 tons, for the sake of accuracy in estimation. That is 20,000 lbs. of garbage per day… remember that number.

The city where I worked had 9 of these trucks for industrial pickup, plus three others that were designed to pick up the railroad car sized dumpsters used at construction or demolition sites. Call that an average of 10 trucks a day in use, considering breakdowns and usage patterns. So, 10 trucks, each delivering 20,000 lbs./day to the dump. 200,000 lbs., or a thousand TONS per day, just from the industrial trucks.

There were also 30 household trash trucks, which added another 8 tons/day each to the total. That’s about 240 more TONS per day going into the landfill sites. This is for one average sized city, for one day, remember. 1240 tons/day. My estimates are probably a bit low, as I tried to be careful not to overestimate.

I will leave it as an exercise for the Gentle Reader to determine what these numbers say about our society, and how well we are doing at husbanding the resources of this finite planet upon which we are living. If your calculations, and ruminations, parallel my own, you’ll be depressed for a time…..
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“It’s men who make laws, and enforce them, and break them, and think the whole performance is wonderful.  Most women would rather just ignore them.” — Ursula K. Le Guin

I would say that we may accept this as being true; it has points that support that assumption well. First, a woman said it, so it is most likely to be accurate in describing the woman’s view on laws. Second, a mature, well-educated woman said it, so the observation it makes about men has the advantage of long-term study of a large sample of men by a reasonably objective observer. Third, it matches my own experience, and I would guess that anyone who took the time to think about it will be forced to agree that it makes perfect sense….

This in no way is meant to provide fuel to the fire of the idea of a war between the sexes. I’ve never really bought into that, as it is counter-productive in the most basic sense, i.e., survival as a species. A war between male and female is just a term some lazy guy used because he were ashamed of not being able to understand women….

“Men are more sentimental then women. It blurs their thinking.” — Lazarus Long, from Robert A. Heinlein’s “Time Enough For Love”

As much as men like to think they are more scientific minded than women, they also lack the objectivity that women have regarding certain aspects of life. Lazarus points out the reason behind that, while at the same time giving a clue to how to deal with it in one’s self. Learning to acknowledge one’s vulnerabilities makes it much simpler to account for them, and to provide them with defensive measures, or to set them aside temporarily.

Of course, this also means that they must learn to set aside their sense of pride, which is probably misplaced in any case. Pride should only be entertained in cases of having earned it for some extraordinary effort, not for a mere state of being. (I never understood how a lot of men, and women, say they are proud to be American, when they had nothing to do with becoming one. Their parents might be entitled to some pride for having made their children good Americans, but the child has no right to pride before earning it…..)

I have been of the opinion for a long time that we need to devise a different method for choosing the leaders of society. The system as it exists is just about as worthless as it can be, as it is designed to give the power to make decisions for society to those people who are the worst at it, as they look at the task from a completely self-serving, avaricious standpoint, and tend to use it for no one’s benefit but their own.

I usually will vote for any woman candidate on a ballot that I see, just to see if any changes can be encouraged, but, unfortunately, most of the women on the ballots are there for the same reason as the men, having become convinced that assuming male characteristics is the key to success in that world.

“If men can run the world, why can’t they stop wearing neckties? How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a little noose around your neck?” — Linda Ellerbee

I’d best bring this to a close, if I am to get anything else done today, as this is an issue that can never be resolved. It can’t be resolved because it is not a problem…. it is the state of reality, and it will change all on its own. No, the problems that men and women have between them are not resolvable by thinking about the issue as a war (though Sun Tzu’s principles CAN be useful in inter-gender relations…), because as one species, that makes no sense, from any perspective.

Instead, we can try to look at the issue as one of education and communication, and try to increase our understanding of one another by honest talk…. Hey, it’s worth a try, especially as it hasn’t been tried very often before, on a large scale…. couldn’t hurt, could it?….Well, a bit of pain goes along with growth….
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Dance and Provencal song and sunburnt mirth!
Oh for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene!
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth.
— John Keats (1795-1821) — Ode to a Nightingale

Ah, Keats! In his 26 short years on this planet, he wrote poetry that changed the genre, for the better in my opinion, for all time. He wrote prolifically, thank goodness, over the few years his life allowed him the freedom to do so. It is painful to think of how much the world lost when he died so young, the victim of the ignorance of medicine of his time. I can never decide if immortality is worth the price that often must be paid to achieve it…. I need another poem….

A long, long sleep, a famous sleep
That makes no show for dawn
By stretch of limb or stir of lid, –
An independent one.

Was ever idleness like this?
Within a hut of stone
To bask the centuries away
Nor once look up for noon?
— Emily Dickinson

Okay, I’m good now…. let’s go on….
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“I always have a quotation for everything — it saves original thinking.” — Dorothy L. Sayers

If one is unfamiliar with Dorothy Sayers, this may seem a bit sarcastic, or sardonic, take your pick. But, in reality, she must have said this with a perfectly straight face, in the complete and serene knowledge that it is nonsensical, at least in its conclusion; the first part is perfectly true. I don’t know when in her life she said or wrote this, but her originality, as far as I am concerned, is not a matter of debate, having been proven beyond any such consideration by the advent of her oh, fourth or fifth novel.

Her scholarly achievements were obvious from her time at University, and though I am not familiar with her work from then, I’m sure there are indications of the vast pool of her imagination, and the untested, unknown waters that flowed through it, promising visions of completely new areas of thought and experience. These indications were later fulfilled in her writings over the following decades of the mid-twentieth century.

Her mystery novels were so rich in detail, so perfectly reflective of the culture of her age, and the society in which she lived, they  provided a completely new direction to the entire field of writing mysteries, prompting changes reflected in every story by every author whose work she influenced, which conceivably includes all of them that came after.

The Lord Peter Whimsey novels, in and of themselves, would be considered a lifetime’s worth of output for any author, an output that deserved great pride of accomplishment. But, that was not the limit of her imagination, nor of the range of her interests. She also produced a complete translation of Dante’s works, considered to be the definitive standard for such books, among other scholarly and fictional works . She was an amazing woman, a truly gifted author, and one of the finest examples of what a human being can be…. in my humble opinion….
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That was fun. It’s nice to be able to finish up with a positive piece; it puts a nice cap to the effort. So nice, I’m going to let it go at that…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you….


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Kowabunga!

A fight for four pies….

Ffolkes,
Blood poured down my face from the gash above the eye, annoying but not yet blinding. I slapped a surgiskin patch on it to keep it clean, and keep the blood out of my visor, and wondered how I would live down giving myself the only injury in a live engagement…. I spied a helmet peeking over the fence across the courtyard of the abandoned building, and squeezed off a couple of quick rounds in the general area to let them know I wasn’t asleep.

Now I’m really mad; listening to the DI dress me down for banging my own head on the lander door wasn’t what I had anticipated for my return to quarters after the exercise. I had hoped to catch some extra Z’s, as I’d been boning for the psych strategy test tomorrow, but my clumsiness had ensured a visit to a smarmy, sarcastic medic, followed by the opportunity to hear the dulcet tones of Sergeant O’Brien in full chewing mode……

Enough…. I’m tired of O’Brien, and he hasn’t opened his mouth yet…. Goes to show I shouldn’t let myself write before going to bed…. it always comes out strange when I look at it in the morning…. Either that, or I need to finish one of these little stories when I write it. Oh, I hate when I get all logical on myself….. I’ve had fun before. This isn’t it.

This is getting me nowhere, so I’m going to just get on with this morning’s dive…. Pearling sounds safer than anything else I can think of right now, so…. off we go, then…..
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“Evolution is as much a fact as the earth turning on its axis and going around the sun.  At one time this was called the Copernican theory; but, when evidence for a theory becomes so overwhelming that no informed person can doubt it, it is customary for scientists to call it a fact.  That all present life descended from earlier forms, over vast stretches of geologic time, is as firmly established as Copernican cosmology.  Biologists differ only with respect to theories about how the process operates.” — Martin Gardner, “Irving Kristol and the Facts of Life”, — The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. XII No. 2, ppg. 128-131

Although this is a very clear, concise statement of facts, it fails to account for one piece of evidence that, while seemingly contradictory, actually is proof of its overall relevance. This is the mathematical certainty that the average intelligence of the species is declining over time; I’ve presented this proof previously, and so will not go over it in its entirety now. But, like with the evidence of the Copernican theory, it has been firmly established, so we must, as a species, find some way to overcome our own intransigence.

Our own competence at killing other life forms has propelled our species to the top of the food chain, at least by all appearances. In doing so, we have removed many of the challenges to our survival that had been a check on how fast we increased our numbers. The removal of these limiting factors has allowed us to breed without restraint, which is why we have negated the normal laws, and applied the special laws of peripheral relevance that are dumbing us down.

We breed so fast that reality can’t kill us fast enough for us to get smarter; the number of lower intelligence members of the species has grown to the point where the number of births far outstrips the number of deaths, and the process continues to spiral down, down, down, toward the bottom of the gene pool….

So, if it seems to you that things are getting crazier, and that more stupid stuff keeps happening all the time, don’t panic…. you are right. It IS much crazier than before, and stupid stuff will continue to happen, right up until our species’ name gets called to board the train for extinction… the same train we have sent thousands of other species on to their demise…. SIGH…..

“No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up.” — Lily Tomlin
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Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. — Mark Twain

One of Mark Twain’s most attractive features as a writer was his grasp of common sense. Here is an idea that all of us know instinctively is true; all of us have observed, at one time or another in our lives, just how powerful laughter can be when used against evil.

This is knowledge so ubiquitous that it has been overlooked in today’s political world, and is not used nearly enough to suit me. I think we should, instead of criticizing and degrading folks like Mitt, and Newt, and others of their political ilk, we should just greet everything they say with a burst of sheer delighted laughter, and just point a finger while howling and holding our stomach. I think it would do wonders….

Imagine, if you would, a large room full of average American folks, in their everyday dress, sitting quietly in their chairs,waiting for their hero to come smile and talk to them, just as if they mattered. Instead of hecklers, placed throughout the crowd at strategic points, are people with a well-developed sense of humor, who will proceed to laugh uproariously whenever the candidate makes some outrageous statement, which usually doesn’t take long….

I think, with good timing and the right lines, we could eliminate quite a few of these bozos, embarrassing them so heavily they’ll never show their face in public again…. Well, we can hope, can’t we?  And if nothing else, laughter is good for the soul, so they say…. Let’s see if it can’t be useful in creating a new political landscape, shall we? Personally, I look forward to applying this technique in the coming months leading up to November…..
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Inner State

Bereft, mind empty
none remains real or true
The page is alone.

gigoid

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The text above is from “Dune” by Frank Herbert; the image was found on Facebook. If you try repeating this to yourself when afraid, you will find that it is quite effective, not in reducing fear, but in getting past the fear. I speak from experience in this, having first read this when I was in my teens, and then used it innumerable times in my work with the mentally ill…. Most simply put, it works….
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If you are not the poet, perhaps you can be the poem. — Smart Bee

It has happened…. I couldn’t find a suitable pearl, in just under two hours of searching. I was thorough, I think. I visited two different websites, and checked out a number of categories at each, all to no avail. I’ve developed a callous on my index finger from hitting the “next” button on my database of quotes, and keep seeing the ones I’ve used in the last few days. Naturally, since I used Shakespeare as a subject just yesterday, a good 40% of what I was forced to go through was more crap from his quill…. Murphy at work….

So, we have an unprecedented event today… I’m giving up until tomorrow…. What I have already done will have to do….. Disgusted I am, but resigned as well….
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So be it. I’m not going to consider this a loss; I’m going to think of it as an evolution. That way it will be a challenge, and I can approach it just like any other logical problem. Of course, that’s no guarantee of success, but will serve for the nonce to get on with the day. Considering how the first four hours have gone, it promises to be interesting, in all the senses of the word…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..


Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.

gigoid

Kowabunga!