Delving into unusual matters of import….

Ffolkes,
Composing these Pearls every day has become the central stanchion on which the rest of my day is built. No matter what time I now arise, sometime between 5 AM and 9 AM, the process defines the morning’s activities, with very little else happening until it is done. Only coffee, breaks from sitting, and restroom urges are part of the routine; no other activities are engaged in prior to publication of the morning’s effort. I’ve found this to be the best way to ensure that it happens each and every day, which has my goal for this blog since its inception on August 11 of 2011.

Unfortunately, this also means that I’m spending a lot of time sitting at the computer, and very little time out exercising my mind, or body, in the real world. Of course, as a retiree, my need to relate to the real world is diminished, to be sure; I have the choice as to whether or not I wish to go out and mingle, or stay home and polish my curmudgeon trophies. It’s nice having the choice for a change; for most of my life, the real world pretty much dictated my activities according to the needs of my family, or job, or something else other than my personal choice. I don’t think that is unusual, and that’s a bit sad, isn’t it?….

But, now that I can choose, I’ve chosen to “hermit up” a lot. This has a lot to do with the fact that living on the poverty line doesn’t allow much extra cash for entertainment purposes, and most activities that have to do with other folks involve at least a minimum of disposable income, in order to engage in going out to eat, or have a cocktail, or go to a ball game, etc. Very few things these days are free, and if they are, it takes some money to get to where they are… such as the beach. A lack of funds is a serious handicap to a player, for sure, not that I ever was one, but, hey, a guy can dream, right?

For now, though, until my income has settled at last into what I should have been making for the last two years, I am pursuing a life of “quiet desperation”, and generally doing so alone….. except for the wonderful friends I have found here on the internet, at WordPress. The interactions I am fortunate to have with the other authors here have been uniformly positive. People here show each other support, and compassion, and kindness, in such a free and easy manner that the Dalai Lama would be proud, indeed. It makes up a lot for the lack of face to face engagement that I lack in my life; the ffolkes I’ve met here are people I am proud to have as friends, and have helped me get through some pretty hard times lately, just by being there….

So, I write…. for me, for them, and for my kids, and grandkid (so far just one). I write to express the “stuff” inside me that has been storing up over the last 50 or so years, waiting for me to get done with the things I needed to do to take care of the family, until I could begin the journey toward becoming a writer, my lifelong dream. It’s kind of destiny-like, actually; books, and literature, have been the backbone of my life, and producing them seems like a logical outcome for my nature. So I am polishing my skills as a writer here on WordPress, ever hopeful that some editor will drop in one day, take a look at what I’ve written, and ask me to start writing for a larger audience, for pay…..

Having thus spent five hefty paragraphs discussing the very thing I’m doing, (good writing practice technique, don’t y’know?), I will cease this assault on your sensibilities, and go now in search of pearls with which to populate this page….. care to join me?  Let’s Pearl….
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Practice Acts of Random Kindness and Senseless Beauty. — Hippie Philosophy, circa 1968

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. — Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Taken together, these two statements offer a possible treatment for what ails the world today. Albert’s words, spoken not long after he had helped to create the hydrogen atomic bomb, are clearly true. We, as a species, continue to display the same vicious, insensitive, violent nature that enabled us to struggle our way to the top of the food chain; the difference now is that we have the power to completely destroy an entire planet, should we give vent to that nature in our conflicts with one another….

Thus, the first statement, made common during the Peaceful Revolution in the Sixties, can be seen as a possible antidote to that nature, and to the danger it implies for mankind. It has been said, and truthfully, that the next evolutionary change that our species needs to make to survive is a change of the mind, of spiritual strength. Mankind needs to put aside our species’ natural response to conflict, which is generally to meet such tests with violence. Now that our ability to destroy ourselves is complete, we cannot afford to allow that part of our nature dictate our actions; that would be suicidal, for sure.

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” — William Wordsworth

Instead, each of us needs to learn to acknowledge in us the connection we have to each other, to celebrate that connection, instead of trying to sever it. The world, and people, respond to kindness, and to beauty; that, too, is part of our nature, and may be our salvation. as well. We all need to help each other to develop responses to stress that act from a basis of compassion, that try to promote beauty in the world.

Change within ourselves is the only real, lasting effect we can have on Reality, and with the help of each other, I believe it is possible to effect the changes to the human spirit that are so obviously necessary if we are to survive…. If we all practice Acts of Random Kindness, and Senseless Beauty, then we may live to see another millennium…. if not, we’ll be fortunate to see the end of this century…..

“And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.” — James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
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An American Fascist seeking power would not proclaim that he is a fascist.  Fascism always camouflages its plans and purposes. … Any fascist attempt made to gain power in America would not use the exact Hitler pattern.  It would work under the guise of “super-patriotism” and “super-Americanism”.  Fascist leaders are neither stupid nor naive. They know that they must hand out a line that “sells”.   Huey Long is said to have remarked that if Fascism came to America it would be on a program of “Americanism”. — U. S. Army (1945)

Interesting, no? To discover that the US Army was aware of this is not as surprising, or as disappointing, to me as the fact that no one listened. If one is to go by the description of fascism presented here, then it becomes clear that we have allowed this to happen, right here in the good ol’ USA…. I offer as proof of this assertion the latest batch of crap that has dribbled out of the Republican camp in the last couple of days. Mitt Romney spent some time to outline some of his ideas on foreign policy changes he would seek if he is elected.

I have yet to read the article for details of those policies, as I admit to a certain amount of trepidation, regarding just how crazy they may be. It was enough for me to see the headline of the article…. “Disturbing foreign policy changes outlined…”  If the FIRST take by the media on these ideas prompts the word “Disturbing” in the title, then they MUST be pretty outrageous, and I am sure they will become the subject of an upcoming rant, once I’ve read them through….

For now, I will merely point out that Mitt’s entire program is based on the words used above in the educational treatise from the Army. From the beginning of his campaign, Romney has painted himself as a “PATRIOT”, wrapping himself in the flag, depending on that to deflect any criticisms aimed at his sincerity. He has voiced completely ILLEGAL ideas of things he would change, ideas that fed into the fears of whatever particular fringe group to which he was speaking, not even bothering to hide the fact that what he proposed was not only against the law, but was in direct contradiction to what he had told another group the day before. More than one instance of this was reported in the news; I didn’t make it up. For goodness’ sake, the man has seriously proposed a law to make it illegal for a woman to get pregnant without being married! Pure Muslim Sharia Law, from the mouth of a Christian bigot…

“Can you say “Pervert?” I thought you could.” – Smart Bee

As I’ve noted, I’m not altogether certain that the current administration is overly concerned with what is in my best interests. They, too, are politicians, and sought the jobs they are holding, which, in my mind, classifies them as insane right from the get-go. But, what I’ve observed during this Democratic administration has been much less destructive toward me and the general public than ANY of the policies that Mitt has voiced.

He has made it perfectly clear in his speeches and programs that, if one is not white, Christian, rich, and bigoted, then he isn’t interested in doing anything but oppressing you, and making himself and his cronies more wealthy, and more powerful. THAT is his underlying goal, not any patriotic wish to make things better for the average American. He couldn’t describe an average American if one was standing in front of him, spitting in his face….
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An Extempore

When they were come into Faery’s Court
They rang — no one at home — all gone to sport
And dance and kiss and love as faerys do
For Faries be as human lovers true —
Amid the woods they were so lone and wild
Where even the Robin feels himself exil’d
And where the very books as if affraid
Hurry along to some less magic shade.
‘No one at home’! the fretful princess cry’d
‘And all for nothing such a dre[a]ry ride
And all for nothing my new diamond cross
No one to see my persian feathers toss
No one to see my Ape, my Dwarf, my Fool
Or how I pace my Otaheitan mule.
Ape, Dwarf and Fool why stand you gaping there
Burst the door open, quick — or I declare
I’ll switch you soundly and in pieces tear.’
The Dwarf began to tremble and the Ape
Star’d at the Fool, the Fool was all agape
The Princess grasp’d her switch but just in time
The Dwarf with piteous face began to rhyme.
‘O mighty Princess did you ne’er hear tell
What your poor servants know but too too well
Know you the three great crimes in faery land
The first alas! poor Dwarf I understand
I made a whipstock of a faery’s wand
The next is snoring in their company
The next the last the direst of the three
Is making free when they are not at home.
I was a Prince — a baby prince — my doom
You see, I made a whipstock of a wand
My top has henceforth slept in faery land.
He was a Prince the Fool, a grown up Prince
But he has never been a King’s son since
He fell a snoring at a faery Ball
Your poor Ape was a Prince and he poor thing
But ape — so pray your highness stay awhile
‘Tis sooth indeed we know it to our sorrow —
Persist and you may be an ape tomorrow —
While the Dwarf spake the Princess all for spite
Peal’d the brown hazel twig to lilly white
Clench’d her small teeth, and held her lips apart
Try’d to look unconcerned with beating heart.
They saw her highness had made up her mind
And quaver’d like the reeds before the wind
And they had had it, but O happy chance
The Ape for very fear began to dance
And grin’d as all his uglyness did ache–
She staid her vixen fingers for his sake
He was so very ugly: then she took
Her pocket mirror and began to look
First at herself and [then] at him and then
She smil’d at her own beauteous face again.
Yet for all this — for all her pretty face
She took it in her head to see the place.
Women gain little from experience
Either in Lovers, husbands or expense.
The more their beauty the more fortune too
Beauty before the wide world never knew.
So each fair reasons — tho’ it oft miscarries.
She thought her pretty face would please the fa[e]ries.
‘My darling Ape I wont whip you today
Give me the Picklock sirrah and go play.’
They all three wept but counsel was as vain
As crying cup biddy to drops of rain.
Yet lingeringly did the sad Ape forth draw
The Picklock from the Pocket in his Jaw.
The Princess took it and dismounting straight
Trip’d in blue silver’d slippers to the gate
And touch’d the wards, the Door full courteously
Opened — she enter’d with her servants three.
Again it clos’d and there was nothing seen
But the Mule grasing on the herbage green.
End of Canto xii.

Canto the xiii.
The Mule no sooner saw himself alone
Than he prick’d up his Ears — and said ‘well done!
At least unhappy Prince I may be free —
No more a Princess shall side saddle me
O King of Othaiete — tho’ a Mule
‘Aye every inch a King’ — tho’ ‘Fortune’s fool.’
Well done — for by what Mr. Dwarfy said
I would not give a sixpence for her head.’
Even as he spake he trotted in high glee
To the knotty side of an old Pollard tree
And rub’d his sides against the mossed bark
Till his Girths burst and left him naked stark
Except his Bridle — how get rid of that
Buckled and tied with many a twist and plait.
At last it struck him to pretend to sleep
And then the thievish Monkies down would creep
And filch the unpleasant trammels quite away.
No sooner thought of than adown he lay
Sham’d a good snore — the Monkey-men descended
And whom they thought to injure they befriended.
They hung his Bridle on a topmost bough
And of[f] he went run, trot, or anyhow–

John Keats

This is kind of long, but while reading it through this morning, I was struck by its dream-like quality. The act of reading it seemed to put me in a trance-like state, and the characters in the poem took on the faces in the news. It all made sense, too, at the time. Maybe it’s something in my coffee, or some old hippie mind tricks arising out of my sub-conscious memory…. or maybe I’m just strange.

No matter, the poem, long as it is, is the beauty break my head needed to finish the morning’s effort, so, deal with it….  🙂  And enjoy the trip through Keats’ dream…. It’s kind of fun to put the faces of Romney, Barack, Newt, Rush, and all the others who inhabit the front pages, on the characters in the poem, at some elegant non-partisan ball. ….  “And off I went run, or anyhow….”
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Somewhat late, but not a bad effort, all in all. As is often the case, whether it will do or not is a moot point; it’s done, and it’s now going to be published, before I have any second thoughts about it…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you….

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

gigoid

Dozer

Kowabunga!

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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!

Faded signs of former glory….

Ffolkes,
It’s been a long, strange trip, to be sure. Having come this far, I suppose I’ll have to keep on to the end. That final moment of my destiny is still a ways off, but is growing larger in my mirror every day. That’s the most accurate simile, I’d say; destiny isn’t the place we travel to, it is the stalker, always behind us, ready to pounce should we hold still too long. One learns to keep an eye on the rear-view mirror, and hope against hope that we don’t get a flat…..hmmm, a bit morbid for so early in the day. Let’s see if we can’t find something a bit more cheerful to start with……
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Everything needs a little oil now and then.

Here is a little piece of truth that should be part of everyone’s bag of basic knowledge. It’s a rather universal statement, for it applies to any number of situations in life, and not just with those involving machinery. One may look at human relations as an engine, of sorts; it certainly acts like one, with people as the moving parts. When two parts come in contact, a little oil always makes things move more smoothly, without potentially harmful friction.

We thus can see that in society, good manners and polite speech act as oil to a machine, allowing each part to perform its function without fear of breakdown in communication. The people who struggle with this are those who are unwilling to get their hands dirty, refusing to apply the needed oil to the points of contact. Thus they never can perform to full potential, for their engine is tearing itself apart, all for want of a bit of oil……
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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” — Philo

Here is another piece of highly intuitive advice from one of the ancients; Philo lived around the time of Christ. I like this because it highlights a little-known facet of reality; everyone creates their own “devil”, and spends much of their time fighting against its influence over their lives. It can only be a hard battle, for our personal devils know all our weaknesses and vulnerable points, and have no compunction against using them freely. There is no feeling of guilt too strong, nor any regrets too old to throw into our faces during attempts to assume control. They fight dirty, and make it difficult to not give in, and resort to similar tactics.

Once one has crossed that line, there is no return, and the inner battle is lost. We must defeat our own devils using only those tools we know to be honorable; to lie or cheat, even for a presumably good cause, is an immediate and automatic failure. Better to die, than to allow our inner demons to control how we face the world at large…..honor demands strength of purpose, and the only reward is the ability to sleep at night with a clear conscience…..
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1. To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles.
2. The best way to succeed in politics is to find a crowd that’s going somewhere and get in front of them. — Brown’s Rules of Leadership

# 1 is usually pretty easy for most politicos, it’s not hard at all to rise above one’s principles when they already live in the gutter. # 2 is Rick Santorum to a T; his posturings and outrageous attacks on the administration are obvious bait for the far right’s ultra-conservative religious fundamentalists. One can easily spot the manipulative statements from Rick’s camp; they are the statements that A) make divisive, antagonistic remarks about personal, not political issues, and/or B) have little or no relation to reality as is commonly accepted by society at large.

I don’t figure that the White House is particularly worried over the election in November; all the apparent choices in the opposing camp are proving themselves adept at shooting themselves in the foot, and at alienating large groups of voters at a time through bigoted and ignorant statements. It’s almost as if the Republican wannabes hired Democrats as their campaign advisers; events could not have gone any better had they been planned that way. Let’s hope the trend continues, and the right wing continues to show how out of touch with the American public they really are…..
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What Congress means by ethics is best explained by the tailor’s story: “Suppose I sell a suit to a young man for $200.  He tells me that his family is footing the bill and that if I give him a receipt for $400 to give to his parents, he will pay me $100 on the side. The question of ethics is: Do I keep the extra $100 myself, or do I tell my partner and split it with him?”

Once again I am saddened by a joke…. I’m sad because it isn’t funny any more. It’s absolute truth, and a perfect analogy for the political scene in today’s society. Worse yet, the money they are stealing is mine, or another taxpayer’s; far be it from them to ever put their own money at risk.

This tailor sounds like a viable candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives. He couldn’t be any worse than Mr. Gingrich, the first Speaker ever to receive an official reprimand from the House Ethics Committee for infractions of Congressional ethics (whatever they are…). Another sad part? None of the political liars and cheats who are outed in the papers ever spend any time in jail….. and that’s definitely a crime…..

“The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.” — William H. Borah
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“I’ll tell you what kind of guy I was.   If you ordered a boxcar full of sons-of-bitches and opened the door and only found me inside, you could  consider the order filled.” — Robert Mitchum

If for nothing else, one could enjoy this just for the chutzpah; Bob certainly had no problems with self-esteem, did he? Actually, I read this many years ago, and for a long time it was one of my most cherished wishes to be able to say this about myself. There is a certain charm and attraction in being held up as an example, even if the example is less than savory. There is also a lot to be said for the fact that folks who have this sort of reputation don’t get bugged very often, once word gets around that doing so is liable to get your tongue handed back to you as an accessory instead of a built-in tool.

It does get a bit lonely at times, since very few folks are willing to take the time to get past the outer crust, but the friends one ends up with are those that will stick. The wishy-washy need not apply….. curmudgeon training also teaches one how to appreciate one’s own curmudgeonliness, (not a word, according to SpellCheck, but I’m using it anyway; it’s self-explanatory…) for the time it can save; one finds that those who are nice to others all the time spend a lot of their own time dealing with those people, and bear the risk of drowning in sugar. As a practicing curmudgeon, all that super-sweet nicey-nicey shit is cut off at the pass; ignore them long enough, and they go away, leaving us in peace to pursue our own lives….. happy as a pig in mud…
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It’s always a bit of a shock to realize I’m done for the day; this process tends to capture my complete attention for the first two or three hours of the day, and reaching the end is somewhat of a surprise. But, in a good way….. it promises to be a nice day outside; I think I might take a long walk & breathe a bit….. y’all take care out there…..

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

gigoid

Dozer

Kowabunga!

Confused? Two words: muskrat love…..

Ffolkes,
I got bitten yesterday, by the poetry bug. It stung enough that I had to write a haiku to ease the pain…..

Immediately Haiku

Sometimes the best way
is to begin
at the first spot.
Other times, not.

gigoid did it…blame him…

What better way to begin a day? I could think of a couple offhand, but they would both involve items not currently in stock……this will do for a Monday…..
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“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them– words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried when you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for the want of a teller but for the want of an understanding ear.” — Stephen King

This is an incredibly perceptive observation, and a clearly stated manifesto of belief in the power of our humanity, as well as our vulnerability. I know Stephen King is very popular as an author, but I can say truthfully that, though I read a LOT, I’ve never read one of his novels. It’s not him, it’s his genre (which he pretty much owns outright), to wit: horror stories. Every plot I’ve ever seen of his outlined on the jacket sleeve or back cover of a book sent me packing off to what subjects I will read; I decline to deliberately promote nightmares, and I’ve never been a fan of gore. Probably comes with hating the sight of my own blood. 

While my tastes in reading material are eclectic, from cereal boxes to box sets of just about any subject, they’ve never included horror; either movies or books. Life and Reality have always been plenty full of events, thoughts, people, and situations that are scary or frightening; that has always been enough for me. I’ve never particularly enjoyed the whole adrenaline scene, other than when necessary to preserve one’s health or welfare. I don’t need to deliberately put myself through the whole “scared me so bad I had nightmares” scenario; it’s not my idea of fun and relaxation.

Sure, little zaps of adrenaline can be cool; addictions always are at first. That’s why skiing, para-gliding, cliff diving, and such activities are popular, for that little bit of bloodthirsty savage in all of us, almost hoping for a crash. Even I learned to (perversely, but predictably) enjoy, and utilize the adrenaline one finds in martial arts, and real-time fighting, an activity I encountered on a weekly basis as part of my work, but it isn’t something I recommend, especially for the faint of heart, or their cousins, the bleeding hearts. There are better ways to get kicks like that, ways that don’t include subjecting one’s self, or one’s sensibilities to the indignity of near-death experiences, either real, or out of someone else’s demented mind….

Nonetheless, not being partial to his books doesn’t prevent me from observing, with admittedly some surprise, that the above paragraph demonstrates a pretty keen mind at work. A mind that clearly sees more of the corners, light and dark, in human nature than I had thought it would. In retrospect, though, I shouldn’t feel surprised, for it would explain why he is able to so easily put his finger on the the darkest, deepest wounds and weak points in our collective consciousness.

Only by feeling an equal degree of joyous celebration, of humble gratitude in service to others, or any other of the positive expressions of one’s humanity, could one even consider claiming knowledge of the opposite end of the scale. He certainly demonstrates an deep understanding of the duality of the human experience, and from what I understand, writes about it without modern peer. I, however, congratulate him not for that, but for knowing, and attempting to share his understanding of how to keep in touch with the empowering side of one’s own nature…….
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“The “Defense of Marriage Act” before Congress was co-sponsored by the divorced Bob Dole and the divorced House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The bill, if it passes, has been promised to be signed by the renowned skirt-chaser President Bill Clinton.  These men tell us that they support the bill because committed, monogamous same-sex unions are an affront to the sacred institution of heterosexual marriage.  Am I the only one a bit confused here?” — James G. Gilbert, Boston in a Letter to the Editor (Globe?)

The part of this that disturbs me is that it had to have been written abut 20 years ago, during Clinton’s white house occupancy. This means that in twenty years, there has been no resolution of a problem that (apparently) is still of primary concern to the voting public. The quotation could have easily appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Globe, and those who believe that heterosexual marriage should be sacred are still acting as if they are under attack. Bills and lawsuits are still being touted and pursued that try to legislate one group’s morality into law; which one will do so remains unclear, though  it escapes me why that should be true, or even an issue.

I find it difficult to believe that more than one court has not already said to the ignoramuses who are bleating about how married homosexuals will cause their own kids to turn gay, “Would you please just be quiet, take your ignorance and prejudices home to your own little cave, and stay there? Leave everyone else alone, it’s none of your expletive business what they do in their own homes. If you want the government to pass judgment on what happens in YOUR home, too, that can be arranged; the Bill of Rights is not Sacred anymore…. but meantime, you’re being a pain, so shut the f…. up!”….. Boy, wouldn’t that be fun to watch!…….
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Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
— Tao Te Ching

Adding to this, or trying to explain it destroys the clarity of the concepts, so I will leave any comments or thoughts as an exercise for the Gentle Reader……
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“I’ll not listen to reason. Reason always means what someone else has to say.” — Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

I don’t agree at all with this sentiment; it goes against one of my most basic beliefs, if what it says is what I understand it to say, regarding communication and its importance in our relationships with others.  In fact, I had reacted so strongly to reading it that I had written two paragraphs of scathing satire about Mrs. Gaskell, even sinking so low as to mock her name, and make poor jokes about her relations, before I came to my senses, and halted the tirade. I hated to delete it; part of it was some of the funniest stuff I’d done in a while. As it turns out, reading what I’d written after a short session with Google, I was ashamed at myself, both for jumping to conclusions, and mouthing off without thinking of consequences.

You see, as I finished my mini-rant, it occurred to me that I knew nothing about this person; zip, zilch, never heard of her. Boy, am I ignorant, or what? It turns out she was one of the most prolific and successful British authors of the 19th century, during the time of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, along with others of her ilk and gender. Wikipedia tells me she reportedly wrote passionately powerful novels about the tragic suffering in the lives of the poor families living in cities, with which she was well-acquainted, having worked for many years as a nurse in charity and ministerial work with her husband, a Unitarian minister.

These programs ministered to the poor and afflicted of British urban centers, some of the first heavily industrialized cities in Europe. Her books were very popular and successful, both with the public, and with doctors, who benefited from the attention given to the diseases prevalent among poor populations in the urban areas. She is credited with responsibility for inspiring many reforms and changes in the attitude of the entire medical community toward this area of medicine, and the treatment of disease.

Not exactly a good candidate for a sarcastic rant, eh? That will teach me to think before typing, for sure…. it would have been very embarrassing to have published that without researching it; I’d probably have instigated the ire of anyone with a moderate knowledge of English literature in the century before last, and deservedly so…..

Oh, well. Do I get any points for copping to being nearly stupid and unnecessarily cruel? No? Well, that’s okay…. don’t want to reward ineffectively. “Still alive” is enough of a reward after attacks of near stupidity; ‘nearly stupid’ has been known to cause “not still alive”, or “he’s dead, Jim. You get his wallet…” to happen to those who aren’t sufficiently alert to the possibility……
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I’ve done so much, with so little, for so long, that now I can do anything with nothing.

I cannot say that I’ve quite reached this level of expertise, but I can say that the attempt to do so is one of my small set of critical  priorities; doing without has become a way of life. It has its advantages, which are, sadly, amply offset by the disadvantages, making it neither good nor bad, merely survivable. I don’t go out, to eat, or drink, or visit folks; no car and no money to support either activity, as most everyone I know locally is at least a few miles away. Too far for walking anyway, and I ain’t asking for no handouts such as a ride; I don’t bring much to the table for the near future, at least.

I have enough to cover my basic needs for shelter and food (mostly), and a bit left over for phone & internet, to stay sane. That’s it, so I try to stay aware that it is more than half the world has to survive with. Until my Social Security kicks in, this is reality, so I’m just hunkerin’ down & stayin’ alive…. it’s a good thing I enjoy my own company….. cyber-relationships are cool, but not quite the same as one-to-one contact….. once the SS is approved, life will return to a slightly higher standard of living, one that includes food as a regular budget item, not a luxury…… besides, I need to lose at least 20 lbs, just to stay healthy…. if only that goal didn’t require crunchies, of which I am less than fond…..
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I can’t say this has been the easiest Pearl I’ve ever written, but it wasn’t the hardest by a long shot. Still, all things must come to an end; it’s not just smart and healthy, it’s the Law! Until tomorrow, then….y’all take care out there…..


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

gigoid

Dozer

Kowabunga!

Taking the long road home…..

Ffolkes,
I would guess that any gentle readers out there today will expect some sort of comment here on Christmas. Okay, here it is. It’s Christmas Day. Have a great time, and share whatever joy you receive; it will recreate itself in the one with whom you share. Today is a good day for that sort of activity, and I support that wholeheartedly. Whatever your preferred belief system may be, or not be, I wish you peace, and prosperity, and life without fear…….


In keeping with the spirit of tolerance during the holiday season, I’ll try to keep it light and short today. There’ll be a couple extras, because I believe Instructions for Life #1, which says, “Always give more than is expected, and do it cheerfully.” So there you have it…..or more accurately, here we go….hang on tight!…..
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And though Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.” Charles Dickens

Therefore, those whose sense of self is Home are logically the possessors of very strong magic, which is often mistaken for Faith, or Fate, but in reality is Knowledge, and Will. Whether one believes in an entity powerful enough to create universes, or accepts their perceptions which provide evidence of another explanation for the nature of reality, one has to be grateful that both ideologies include the existence of coffee ice cream with caramel swirls, simple summertime dresses on beautiful young women, chocolate, puppies, and kittens.

I can truthfully, and thankfully, say that I have experienced all of these in one day, on more than one occasion. Of course, on some of those days, it was peach sherbet, exotic evening gowns on older women, chocolate, puppies, and a romantic fire. No matter.  Each one possesses the power to create in us that ineffable surety that all is right with the world, so who needs the guilt involved in worrying about why they exist? Just have a good time staying Home…..
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There are places I remember
all my life, though some have changed,
some forever, not for better,
some have gone and some remain.

All these places had their moments
with lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living.
In my life I’ve loved them all.– the Beatles

Once I was asked to describe my life in six words. I thought for only a moment before it came to me; Looked for Love, Found It Everywhere. The best part of this, in my mind, is that it’s pretty much true. Not to say I haven’t known or met any assholes, or others of the ilk in my time. But, for the most part, I’ve found that if one leaves oneself open to it, love will enter, and make itself at home. Not always comfortably, and not always without turmoil, but always welcome, love has graced my life each time we meet.

Yes, there are a lot of fools and assholes out there, and they make life difficult at times, what with their misplaced sense of entitlement, and their ubiquitous negativity. They’re out there too, but one learns to deal with them, or suffers accordingly; I prefer to deal. I’ve found that just a few moments with them, reading from the Book of Righteousness, with gusto, and they begin to walk a path that is straighter and not as wide…..you gotta love ’em, they’re just so bloody ignorant that it takes some persuasion to make them more amenable to human interaction….which is pretty cool, once one learns how to relate to others without always trying to maintain the upper hand, or manipulate for personal profit. Most folks are pretty nice people, down in their heart of hearts; we all need to give each other a chance to allow that to show to the outside world……
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“As he said in Machiavel, omnes eodem patre nati, Adam’s sons, conceived all and born in sin, etc. “We are by nature all as one, all alike, if you see us naked; let us wear theirs and they our clothes, and what is the difference?” — Robert Burton – The Anatomy of Melancholy, Part ii, Sect. 2, Memb. 2

OMG, can you just visualize Newt Gingrich nude, standing in classic hunter’s pose, with his foot on the piled corpses of child workers, smoking a big cigar and wearing a bigger grin, and a rifle with a scope balanced on his hip? I almost donated my dinner to the porcelain throne when this unfortunate image formed in my mind…….talk about scaring yourself!

But if we can get past the oh-so-frightening images such a concept brings with it, we see the veracity of the Burton’s assertion. What is the difference between one man and the next? As related, we are all as one, with the same basic structure and function. To my way of thinking, what makes the difference between people is their Will, or their Won’t. People mostly choose one or the other at an early age, and stick with it throughout their lives.

What’s your choice? Will you live with honor, dignity, and compassion? Or won’t you face the world, instead pulling back and observing from afar, never to join with others without pain and effort. The choice a person makes is completely their own, and responsibility for the consequences rests solely upon the one who chooses. Choose well……
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In a literature class, the students were given an assignment to write a short story involving all the important ingredients – Nobility, Emotion, Sex, Religion and Mystery.  One student allegedly handed in the following story: My god! cried the duchess.  I’m pregnant.  Who did it?

No profound thinking here; I just thought it was clever, and deeper than it seems. The young person who came up with this little gem is most likely be writing best sellers now……and deservedly so……
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“Capitalism did not arise because capitalists stole the land, but because it was more efficient than feudalism. It will perish because it is not merely less efficient than socialism, but actually self-destructive.” — J. B. S. Haldane

One can only hope that in its’ death throes, capitalism doesn’t thrash about so severely that the negative effects  on the survivors cannot be overcome. Can’t bring myself to be very optimistic, considering the severe objections most human institutions have to dying. They tend to fight tooth and nail to hang on to any vestige of their former glory, never knowing or being able admit to their own fatal flaw. The flaw? Capitalism requires constant growth and movement; like a shark, if growth and forward motion stops, it begins to drown, and feed upon itself, crashing and burning quickly.

But capitalists believe there will always be new markets, selling new products,  and there will always be more resources to create the products to be consumed by those markets. But the sad fact is, the available resources are not infinite, and will not support continuous unchecked growth; they are finite, and once they are gone, they won’t be back. This simple reality is that resources are essential to the functioning of any society, but only if their finite restrictions are observed, and if they are regarded as precious enough to be husbanded and cared for in sustainable cyclical processes, that encourage and enable the resources to be renewed as needed, and no more. Capitalism cannot do that…..
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Will Rogers never met Rush Limbaugh.

I’m pretty sure I would give serious money to be around to see those two meet. Can you imagine if both were on Twitter? It would be truly inspiring, I think, to see how Mr. Rogers would have reacted to some of Rush’s more egregious statements. As a matter of fact, I believe I will make it a project, to research material from both, and find appropriate selected statements on the same, or similar person, event, idea, whatever. I’m sure I can find some doozies…(is that word still legal? does anybody still understand it?) Okay, I can find some fine examples….no, too tame. I can find some flat out funny stuff. That’ll do for now. Actually, we’ll just amend it to, I can find some. Good enough…..look for that on a website near you soon!….
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And yet, as angels in some brighter dreams
Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
And into glory peep.
— Henry Vaughan (1621-1695)
— They are all gone

As I’ve said before, I love poetry, and only wish I had the ability to create it well. I can do it, but it always comes out stiff, and without spark. I would dearly love to be able to put words together in such a way that they arrow straight into the heart of the reader, and taking the mind on a fantastic trip through fields of esoterica, inspiring and fulfilling as it pleases. Alas, it is not within me to do so. Fortunately, there are a lot of folks out there who can, and do write it well; they all have my complete admiration, and my gratitude for existing…….I like this one for its imagery, and its’ potent depths…..all in four short lines. Amazing!…..
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“While my BRAINPAN is being refused service in BURGER KING,  Jesuit priests are DATING CAREER DIPLOMATS!!” — Zippy the Pinhead

Good grief, this is tragic! Something must be done! Hand me that copy of the Who’s Who, and call the A Team! They’re the only ones who can save the damsel in distress/the oppressed townfolk/the old buddy’s daughter’s brave but outnumbered boyfriend’s charity/all life as we know it (choose one), without ever drawing a single drop of blood, or striking any living creature at all with any of their 20,000 rounds fired! Oh, and they’ll build a tank to use while they’re at it; we can always use it later to visit our Congressman in Washington D.C. Next week, we can watch the reruns with a bunch of popcorn drenched in cholesterol-free butter……
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That’s probably enough for one morning. I do have to watch myself, as I’ll tend to just keep going, and going, and going……when I get into the Zone, time and the outside world fade away. Lots of new projects going on at my house, so I’d best get started on the rest of the day, holiday or no. It’s been real, and y’all take care out there……


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

Kowabunga!