Which is the silliest objective?

After a certain amount of time, reality becomes hard to hold on to with a sure grip. Stuff happens. (Don’t ask….)  And when that stuff is happening, our grasp of what we thought was unchangeable grows tenuous, at best. Most folks just breeze right through these moments, never realizing that their entire universe is mere seconds away from crashing about their ears. These are the fortunate ones. For those of us who regularly battle with reality to keep it in even a semblance of normalcy, these moments are terrifying challenges, fraught with the danger of imminent death of life and the universe as we know it, or at least, indigestion……

The brain is broken this morning. I tried to use it earlier, and got no response at all. Now, I sit down to write, and you see the result…. Pathetic. Indigestion, indeed. I’ll give me indigestion…. hell, I do that on a regular basis anyway, just by reading the news; it takes no special effort. Try to convince a broken brain of that though….

I’m not sure how to proceed. I’ve never really had to deal with a full break before; there have always been some peripheral functions that remained intact. But this seems to be a complete system-wide shut down, and I’m not sure if it is a hardware or software problem, so it makes trouble-shooting a bit of a facer, what?

Sorry, been watching English mini-series’ movies of Lord Peter Whimsy’s mysteries, and I’m still speaking in English drawing room comedy language…. quite the thing, don’t y’know? It’s so very…. British…. Such a wonderful vehicle for sarcasm and comedic facial expressions, and all of the characters are archetypal representations of the various English types…. to the manor born, the butler, or “gentleman’s gentleman”, the vicar, the blacksmith, the sexton, the farmer, etc.  And they all wear the most sensible shoes….

Well, as can be seen, things may wander a bit today, so I’d best start wending my way toward the end….. the beginning will have to cope on its own at this point; I can do no more for it, and will just let it die a natural death….. let’s go Pearl….

Fate steals along with silent tread,
Found oftenest in what least we dread;
Frowns in the storm with angry brow,
But in the sunshine strikes the blow.
— Cowper

Writing about Murphy’s Law can be a delicate, tricky process, since the mere use of his name is generally enough to draw his attention, something all of us learn to avoid at an early age. At least, all of us who retain any sanity at all have learned to avoid his ministrations, except when forced to accept them. So, writing about his place in the scheme of things can take on the aspect of a nightmare, a terrifying one, one that not only wakes one up, but remains real when awake. The only possible way to avoid this is to make the piece you are writing as glowingly positive as you can….

One doesn’t write about how little Murphy’s presence is hated; we point out how his benign humor keeps us humble. We don’t tell how his latest escapade has put us back several years in our plans for life; we acknowledge his wisdom in keeping us with our nose to the grindstone. And we certainly don’t complain about how much of an asshole he is, or he will most certainly turn what we write into the biggest pile of crap that ever was assembled in one place.

Ah, fuck it. I hate the asshole. His perverted sense of humor has caused more heartache for humanity than Hitler. He thinks he is a celebrity, like Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny, but his degree of fame, or, more accurately, infamy, is more on the order of The Swamp Thing, or Freddy Kruger, without the advantage of their cultish chic.

If there were any part of reality as it exists that I would change, it would be to remove Murphy’s head from his shoulders, and consign him to one of the deepest parts of hell, where he would forever be subjected to just those kinds of incidents that he is so fond of perpetrating on the unsuspecting members of society…. Bloody prick…. I know that all cultures have their Murphy…. he may be called Loki, or Kokopelli, or some other name, and even may be counted as a god. But, fuck him anyway, he’s an asshole; I don’t have to like him…. and I don’t..

Popular consensus says that reality is based on popular consensus. — Smart Bee

“Believe nothing merely because you have been told it… Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher.  But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings — that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” — Buddha

This idea is almost unknown in Western society, and if you require evidence, just look at the TV Guide for this week. Every minute of every day the airwaves are filled with blatant attempts to influence what people think about, what they buy, or should want to buy, how to relate to other people, or who they should vote for in the next election. I don’t think there are more than one person out of a hundred thousand who has an original thought in their head, one not generated by some excited announcer giving them the latest way to waste their time and money.

In addition to the wasteland that is TV, we have religion, always prepared to jump into people’s lives and tell them how they are doing it wrong, and how the only way to get to heaven is to buy into the product they are selling, thereby handing over the keys to their own minds, and checkbooks. If one looks at it objectively, it’s a pretty good gig, this preacher business.

All you have to do is be able to tell people what you think is true with a straight face, and stand back and watch the money pour in. Hell, anybody with the chutzpah and the patter can become a preacher; it doesn’t even require a license, though it does help to file the certificates and forms that make it so your church doesn’t have to pay taxes. That’s always a bonus item in favor among the truly religious.

“Writing science fiction for about a penny a word is no way to make a living, If you really want to make a million, the quickest way is to start your own religion.” — L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron was as good as his word…. He was talking to Robert Heinlein one day (they were old friends, having attended Annapolis together in their youth….), and complaining about how his science fiction wasn’t selling as well as Bob’s. He made Bob a bet, that he could start a religion, one that had no basis in reality outside his head, and could become richer than Croesus without having to lift a finger…. Bob took the bet, and L. Ron wrote “Dianetics”, the book that is now the basis for the Church of Scientology.

This “religion” has become a reality, with millions of members worldwide, all of whom are firmly convinced of the truth of what is in their bible; in reality, their bible was a load of crap nonsense that came straight out of L. Ron’s head, and has no actual relation to anything in the real world…..Imagine, a religion based on Science, without a single number or equation to be found anywhere in its precepts. I find it to be one of history’s finest jokes, and the shenanigans of the constituents of the “church” provide me with endless entertainment…. Brilliant!…. And, of course, just desserts for those who have adopted such an asinine philosophy, all based on a joke bet….

“It’s hard to decide if T.V. makes morons out of everyone or if it mirrors Americans who really are morons to begin with.” — Martin Mull

And God said: “Let there be cats!” and He was promptly ignored. — Smart Bee

I don’t often write about cats. I’m not sure why that is, because I love them just about as much as I love dogs. Mankind, in his history on this planet, has engaged the help and companionship of purpose (i.e., life…) of several of our mammalian relatives. Dogs, cats, horses, pigs, sheep, cattle, all have agreed, passively or actively, to join us in the struggle to exist here on Earth. We all provide different life skills that we possess to the mix, skills that complement each other, affording us the strength that arises from group effort. In essence, we have contracted with each other to provide services for actions that we cannot accomplish alone.

Each of those animals who chose to live with us, sharing our food and campfire, shelter and company, have their own motivations for doing so, not all of which are self-serving. In fact, I would say that the reason that dogs and cats often appear to have for their continued relationships with us can mostly be attributed to love. People develop very close, affectionate relationships with those two types of creatures, and the love we feel for them is obviously returned. No other explanation makes sense for explaining why a dog or cat will save a human’s life, by warning of a fire, by attacking an aggressor, or why they will come to us and offer comfort in times of sadness and pain.

Cats are perhaps more independent in their relations with us, but their love is continuously demonstrated, even in those actions that apparently are rude, such as their ability to ignore us when they so desire. I see those times as being the moments when they are defining the limits of their personal space, their need to maintain dignity at all cost. It’s a cat thing. Sometimes their love only shows in the fact that they continue to stay with us, and deign to accept our attentions. After all, in ancient Egypt, cats were worshiped as gods, and I don’t think they’ve ever forgotten…. Bless their pointy little ears…..

I can’t imagine living without dogs and cats. I prefer to have both as companions; often the relationship that develops between the two diametrically opposed species is deep and caring, and observing how they learn to get along with each other is a constant lesson that our political “experts” would benefit from learning.

Before I was summarily dismissed from my last relationship, Noah and I lived with a cat who firmly believed that Noah was his big brother. The cat, named Tony, would follow Noah around, play with him, and preferred to sleep with him at night (I have pictures….). He knew Noah was old, and took care to treat him gently (he was a big, powerful cat…. about 17 lbs, and no fat….). When Noah was struggling to walk upstairs, Tony would walk behind him, swatting at his tail end, spurring him to get up the steps….

It broke my heart when Noah and I were told to move, never to see Tony again. Noah would often wander around the new house, looking for something, then come and look at me as if to ask where Tony was…. it was tough, believe me, and still hurts…. Which goes to show,I like animals much more than I like most humans…. and for good reason….

“One can’t complain. I have my friends. Someone spoke to me only yesterday.” — A.A. Milne’s Eeyore

Aye, indeed, one can’t complain. Though I live a life of solitude, I am not often lonely. I have my friends, who, though they live elsewhere, are ever as close as the phone. These are the kind of friends of whom I know that even if they call me at 3 AM, or if I would call them at such an hour, they wouldn’t say, “Why are you calling so late?”, but rather, “What do you need?” I count at least 8 people among those I know who fit that definition, and that is wealth indeed….

One of them called me yesterday, just to chat. In turn, I called one of them, who was celebrating her birthday (quietly, as those at our age are wont to do….). Both calls were enough human contact for me. I don’t miss work, or having to deal with the general run of human interaction at a high level; I have to admit, this whole retirement thing fits right in with my preferred style of living. I get to decide how much I deal with people, and that is another form of wealth that is seldom counted…. a true freedom, the freedom to say “no”…. We first learn the power of “no” around age two, but we seldom actually think about how powerful a word it is….

“No, I don’t want to do that…” now has much more meaning and strength when I say it, because I know that it is all my decision. Of course, this makes me fully responsible for what happens, but that is true anyway, and can thus be discounted as a motivating factor. It just helps me to be more careful in the decision-making process. “No, I won’t….” No, you can’t…” All of these options now have more force in my life, and it is a heady sort of power. It isn’t surprising that so many folks, as they get older, take more and more advantage of this power; it is perhaps their first time at feeling in control of their lives….. Unfortunately, this often leads them into becoming negative in their outlook, which causes other problems….

But, for me at least, it’s nice to be able to tell the world to go take a hike now and again. And it sure makes practicing to be a curmudgeon easier!….. No, no, no, I won’t!…..   🙂

It’s only cheating when you get caught! — Smart Bee

One never knows when a rant will strike…. I almost cruised past this, as I have innumerable times when I’ve seen it before. But then I stopped for a moment and thought about it…. and got angrier and angrier the more I considered it.

My anger arises from my obstructed desire, of course, which, in this case, is the desire to see the morality of mankind become, shall we say, less self-serving, and leave it at that? I’d like to see more honesty in the world, as I see the lack of it, or worse, the active denial of it, as the worst affliction society suffers. The willingness of the wicked to lie and cheat, and the willingness of the general populace to condone it by their indifference to those lies, is the root of almost all the other problems facing our species.

This idea, that it is okay to cheat if nobody is looking, has been adopted as truth by most people. Even the most apparently incorruptible people will cheat to achieve their ends, using the rationality, or the charity, or the innate rightness of their goals as justifiable reasons for the dishonesty in action. It’s called fighting fire with fire, and while it may work when dealing with conflagrations in a forest, the analogy does not translate accurately to the raging fires in human society.

The acceptance of this concept, of the inherent value of cheating, is based on a concept from martial arts, the practice of deception, of movement, of strategy, of information. In a war, or battle, being able to misinform one’s opponent of one’s true disposition and plan is invaluable as a strategy. Control of information is vital in war. Those who do not learn this practice can never be successful in battle, for they have lost before beginning.

Modern politics, the art of war against the people by their rulers, is rife with this strategy. Politicians routinely lie, not just to the people over whom they wish to rule, but to those who rule with them. The entire system of political strategy in this country is based on who can get the voters to believe the lies they are handing out, while simultaneously accusing their opponents of using the self-same tactics. Whichever one convinces the most fools wins the chance to loot the public treasury for the next few years, when we are again subjected to the cycle of lies and cheating….

Ah hell…. it’s a nice looking day outside, and here I am ranting about assholes who aren’t going to change anyway…. something wrong with that picture, so I guess I’ll go do something more constructively fun than this… though I have to admit I feel better…. It always helps me to call Mitt Romney an asshole…. makes my whole morning….

This turned on me a bit…. it became something of a small ordeal, but, I won…. I’ve fought through to the end of another morning’s ramblings, and it looks like a pretty far-ranging ramble indeed…. Well, such as it is, here it is…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..

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



Table hopping at Godot’s public house….

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….

“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.

“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…..

“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….

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….

“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….

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.