Monthly Archives: July 2016

… and that was how this saga began about a million years ago

dinosaursA while ago and absolutely vaingloriously, I ‘Googled’ myself just to reassure myself that I was creatively wonderful and that no bad people were stalking me. While in process I happened upon my earliest blog. This crude effort was three different blogs ago. The current one is the one of longest duration and I am not planning to depart from it in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, what follows is my blog from Sept. 4, 2004. This is actually the second blog entry I’d ever offered to the world – and also my two readers at that time (one of them being my wife). The first entry was merely a reprint from a newspaper feature I’d written.

Curious, I also checked my personal journal for that day (I am kind of inveterate about haphazardly maintaining a journal), just to find out what the world was like for me at the time. I found that we had gone to the Farmer’s Market whence we ran into different people we knew, including my ex-wife’s erstwhile student teacher from two decades earlier and upon whom I had a kind of crush at the time, and I noted that she had, ahem, aged remarkably pleasantly. Nothing much else.

But, 2004. It was so long ago. What was life like back then? Let’s see. George W. was still president but the situation in Iraq, we were told, would be cleared up ‘soon’. Al Gore hadn’t yet morphed into Michael Moore with nicer clothes, and Princess Diana was still dead, but continued to provide fodder for People mag.

On the home front (everybody’s home front) property speculators and developers were still having orgasms over a real estate market that would be booming ‘forever’, bringing us all wealth and palatial homes with mortgages of half-a-million but easily affordable at subprime for a couple who worked at Wal-Mart or Burger King. Yes, in all it was a happier time.

Without further ado, let us return to those golden days of yesteryear with a retro-visit to my 2nd blog entry ever in which I offered some home-truth aphorisms about life. Surprisingly, a lot of them still apply nine years later.

Sept 11/04

1. No matter how much money you have, it’s always barely enough to get by on.

2. There is always a Plan B.

3. Never pee into the wind on a sailboat.

4. You will only stub your toe in bare-feet when you have an ingrown toenail.

5. No matter which route you take, there will always be roadwork — especially when you’re late for work or an appointment.

6. No matter how late you arrive for a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment, you will still have to wait half-an-hour.

7. Doctors will have you sent into that little examining room even though they’re not yet ready to see you. Is it to give you hope, or to increase and prolong your anxiety? And, if you’re male have you ever climbed up on the examining table while you were waiting to see what if felt like to put your feet in the stirrups? I haven’t, but I have been tempted.

8. Also, if you’re male, you couldn’t get an 18-year-old hottie when you were 18, and now that you have the money and car that might lure her, you’re too old for her to regard you with anything other than a kind of patronizing amusement. Unless you really have a huge amount of money.

9. Procrastination is like masturbation — either way, you’re only fucking yourself. (pardon the profanity, but there is truth there.)

10. In life, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

11. You can be a godfather, a godmother, or a goddamned fool, but you can never be a god.

12. The queue you decide to join will always take the longest, and the little old lady with only two items to check out, who is just ahead of you, will have 47 store coupons (most of them outdated, or from another store) that she will demand to have checked. She will then hand the cashier 200 lottery tickets she wants scanned.

13. All divorces are acrimonious at first. Some stay that way.

14. When the divorce is finalized and your ex states that she wants you to remain friends, that will never truly happen. The most you can hope for is a reserved politeness on meeting, in which both parties are waiting for the other to say something inflammatory. (I qualify this one vis-à-vis today because I find to my delight that my ex and I actually care considerably about each other by this point in history.)

15. Children will never love you back as much as you love them.

16. After having chastised a youngster for not visiting the bathroom prior to departure on a trip, you will be struck by an overwhelming urge to pee within half an hour of leaving your doorstep.

17. All airplane trips are slightly frightening, hideously uncomfortable, and mainly disgustingly boring.

18. Cat hair does not cling to cats.(we now have a dog and the same rule applies)

19. Anyone nitpicky enough to write a letter to the editor complaining about a typographical error, deserves the error.

20. Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; those who can’t teach, either teach PE or chair either the local teachers’ union or the local school board.

21. A person cannot step into the same river twice. (OK, I stole that one from Buddha)

22. Unrequited love fantasies never become reality — at least not in the way you wanted them to.

23. Or, they do, and that can be worse.

24. Your dreams are merely dreams, they do no foretell the future or resolve problems.

25. Beautiful women do not fart, get greenery stuck in their teeth or become stricken with diarrhea. If they did it would destroy all illusion.

26. (bonus aphorism) There is no justice in the universe. If something genuinely fair or fortuitous seems to have transpired, it was a random fluke. So, life ain’t fair. So, get over it.

27. At the end of the day every living thing dies (even you) so get the most out of the days you have.

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Sure and it’s a good life if you don’t weaken

MyRulesInLife-65063For most of us, life has been a pastiche of good and bad decisions. Some of us (like me) are probably still feeling the residuals of their bad decisions and faulty judgment calls. But, there is Balm in Gilead, and that balm is to be found in our good decisions. I’ve had a few of those. So have we all. Mine are as follows. As for the others, screw-em.

The best things I ever learned:

1. To read. I cannot begin to assess the value mastery of this skill has given me at so many levels. I once learned that one of my journalistic heroes, the ‘Sage of Baltimore,’ HL Mencken suffered a stroke in his later years and for the last decade of his life he was unable to read and comprehend a word on the printed page. I’d rather have died. Really I would.

2. Never to take up heroin or cocaine. Having been an addictions counselor I’ve seen the ravages firsthand. Not a pretty sight.

3. Don’t really like acronyms, but have come to fully appreciate the virtues of KISS as a mode of living life.

4. Like Jimmy Carter I have lusted in my heart (arguably too many times), but I have in later years come to realize that emotional infidelity is probably just as dishonest as actually doing the dirty. I’m not here to cause pain to those I love.

5. Realized we are the products of personal history. Personality quirks can often be explained. I have an inordinate fear of somebody I love dying in a traffic mishap. My beloved grandmother was hit and killed by a car. I now realize that incident has impacted me throughout my life. Such a realization was a good thing for me to arrive at. It made me understand myself a little better.

6. Learned (the rudiments at least) of a different language. It not only broadens one’s horizons, but it facilitates ease in dealing with services in a country where that language is spoken. The French might have regarded with curled lip my attempts at their language (they’re like that), but it made me feel good to have ‘tried’ at least.

7. Realized that whatever personality or even sexual quirks I might have are not particularly abnormal. Most people have ‘stuff’ that they wouldn’t necessarily want revealed if they were, say, running for public office.

8. The laughter of children keeps a fellow going at a time when life might be bogging him down. So does a good dog.

9. That my father had many virtues that I didn’t really come to appreciate, alas, until after he was gone. If yours still lives, make your peace with him. Unless he’s a complete prick, of course.

10. If you’re hosting a cocktail party or ‘at home’ and are planning to serve devilled eggs as one of your hors d’oeuvres, make twice as many as you think you will need. That still won’t be enough.

11. Everyone should know how to change a tire.

12. Every father should know how to change a diaper.

13. I know how to sew on a button and am proud that I can.

14. I know how to iron a shirt. It won’t look like when Wendy does it, but it’ll do.

15. I prepare the best damn potato salad on the continent (hint: It has something to do with horseradish.) Even my ex thought it was the best she’d ever tasted. And she wasn’t profligate with compliments directed at me.

16. I am by now prepared to concede an argument (even if I know I’m right) for the sake of maintaining domestic harmony. Nothing is that damned important.

17. If you suspect that you might drink too much; you do. I did and that’s why I don’t.

18. Don’t hold the gaze of an attractive stranger for more than three seconds unless you are planning to do something about it. If you’re married or connected, don’t plan to do something about it.

19. Never eat ‘fresh’ seafood in Mexico.

20. Learn what the ‘stinkeye’ means in Hawaii and how to avoid it.

I could keep going with this for much longer, but I have also learned that everything has an optimum limit. It’s the lesson learned from the film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Too many comic geniuses carrying on for far too long do not make for an uproarious movie.

Frustrating as hell but it is my reality so I have to learn to suck it up

strokeIt has now been more than a year since I went off kilter.

I don’t mean I’ve gone wacky. That was already an established fact and I am proud of my wackiness. It keeps me sane, if that makes any sense.

No, I went off kilter physically in that my physical balance has been compromised. In other words, if I am not careful I will faw down and go boom. And I have done that a couple of times.

I am making a bit light of this because there is nothing much else I can do unless I want to sink into a major depressive funk. I have been through every test known to medical science. I have had an MRI, a CT-scan, an hour long session to assess my inner ear, a bit of blood-letting and the only thing I have avoided is leeches. I’ve been to my regular GP as well as specialists. I have had physio, I had a two month, twice a week balance training regimen with wonderful and knowledgeable trainer Jill Nelson. I mean, I can be a lazy bastard but the fact I have done all this stuff indicates how distressing this has been for me.

Ironically, I didn’t really notice anything was amiss at first. It was Wendy who noticed. We had been for a walk with dear Max in the Northeast Woods. As we got back to the car she noted: “Do you realize you are dragging your left foot slightly when we walk, especially on a long walk.” In truth, I hadn’t really noticed. The thing I had noticed, however, is that I didn’t swing my arms when I walked. Weird. When I would think about it, I’d get confused as to which one was meant to swing. And the more I thought about it, the more confusing it became.

Shortly after that I did my face plant. Straight forward and wham onto the kitchen floor. Off to emergency. Nose bloody but not broken, thank God. I do like to stay as pretty as I can. But it was then that I realized I had to concentrate on my balance or I can lose my centre of gravity in a trice. Fortunately, I have gotten pretty good with balance. I just have to concentrate and pay attention.

The root cause of my woes, as far as they can deduce, was the minor stroke I had in 2008. At the time there were no residual aftereffects. But the MRI indicated I had had some minor brain bleeds later and that is what they attribute my balance woes to. According to trainer Jill my job is to map out new pathways in my brain. Something that takes time and calls for much patience. She exhorted me to stay confident that it will happen. I have noticed that I now swing my arms when I walk and it’s quite natural to do once again. Small steps, but steps nevertheless.

I do hope it’s all working and I keep telling myself it could be worse. My problem is I love walking, and even hiking. I want it back and I don’t want to faw down no more.

Why I detest Donald Trump in 410 words

fucking trumpDon’t get me wrong here. I don’t loathe Donald Trump because he’s right wing. I have had a number of arch-conservative friends and while I don’t share their politics, I did not dislike them. So, that’s not it.

I don’t loathe him because he is a Republican. All my US relatives were good Republicans and I loved them dearly. They were GOP-ers of the Eisenhower and Reagan ilk. So, that’s not it. And furthermore, Trump is the farthest thing from a conventional Republican as any human could be.

To define my antagonism and fear of the reptilian man, let my say I loathe him because he is a lewd, crude, boorish and hideous excuse for humanity and how dare he run for the office he is running for. Nobody in prior history has come close to Trump in turdishness. Compared to Trump Al Capone was a class act.

In years past I never watched his hideous TV show. Even then I found him bullying and boorish and fucking plain mean. Like that repulsive kid in 9th grade (about his level of social maturity) Trump is instinctively capable of spotting a weakness in another and exploiting it to his own worth. Most 9th graders grow out of such behavior. Trump hasn’t. All of this leads me to suspect that he is a narcissistic sociopath and that possibility is frightening.

My rant here is not especially political in a conventional sense. Were I to live in the US I’d be gobsmacked with dismay thinking that Trump and Hillary were the best they could trot out. And be honest, if it weren’t for the existence of Trump Hillary likely wouldn’t have got the nod for her party. But with a prick like Trump on the other side they certainly weren’t going to send poor honorable Bernie into that rumble. You don’t send a knife to a gunfight, and with Trump it’d be a gunfight. So, you send in another street-fighter and have no delusions about Hillary, she can be dirty as needed. In that sense I am left with a wee bit of hope.

But, for Christ’s sake, are those two the best America can do? How terribly sad. Almost makes you long for the glory days of George Dubbya. At least the bozo was kind of a gent.

And, of course, Obama is a true gent, and in reaction to those 8 years we are left with the dregs of the system.

Let’s put those ubiquitous ‘sin-taxes’ to good use

alcohol-and-cigarettesOnce upon a time it was waggishly referred to as a “sin-tax”.

The sin-tax was the bite governments took in granting companies official sanction to sell those ‘legal’ drugs, alcohol and tobacco. So, as you went to purchase your bottle of ‘Old Cirrhosis Rye’, you paid about eight-cents for the actual substance, and many, many extra dollars for the privilege of indulging your vice and in some cases ruining your health, becoming obnoxious, pissing in your pants and wreaking havoc in the community and on the highways.

In other words, it was the ‘revenuers’ greedy hand in the matter that made the wickedness costly. With tobacco it is the same. Governments — and who can blame them? — realized early on that people really like this nicotine stuff; some even ‘have’ to use it, so they should pay dearly to get it. The government coffers should swell handsomely thanks to the indulgences of the ‘weak’. Blessedly they haven’t yet found a way to tax sex, but they are assuredly working on it.

Since booze and tobacco are not deemed necessities of life, they are, in effect, luxuries, and those who have the wherewithal to purchase luxuries should also give a big bite to the taxman. If you don’t have the wherewithal, but choose to indulge anyway, so be it. Those who would officially have their hand in your pocket are very democratic; they do not discriminate in terms of your household’s financial status. All in all, it’s a pretty good scheme, except for one element that is rarely addressed: it puts our governments in the drug-dealing business.

And today, ironically, you have the contradiction of government sanctioned and financed health districts fomenting against the lifestyle excesses of their clients, and indeed the government itself takes a high-handed (disguised as high-road) approach to these health-assaulting substances — especially tobacco — yet ‘Big Brother’ continues to rake in the bucks from the flogging of the stuff, at breakneck pace.

If everybody were to quit smoking and drinking tomorrow, governments would be faced with a crisis of monstrous proportion. Yet, somehow those in the corridors of power do not appreciate this hypocrisy. This is especially true in the case of tobacco. Government officially fulminates against the weed, and tries, Quixote-like, to drive a lance through ‘Big Tobacco’ via doomed-to-fail lawsuits. At the same time officialdom continues to garner benefits from its sale.

It has not escaped the scrutiny of many smokers that if the government were indeed serious about the evils of tobacco consumption it would just outlaw the stuff as the public health hazard it genuinely is. But, we know that will not happen. The government is, with no exaggeration, in the position of being the ‘clean ‘dealer’ of illicit drugs who despises his pathetic clients, but is prepared to take their money for the dope he can lay on them.

However, rather than rail against hypocrisy, which is to no avail, we’ll instead assume there are those in power who take such matters as smoking and excessive drinking seriously, and would genuinely like to do something about public consumption.

For them, I offer a modest, yet deadly serious proposal. Rather than mount futile lawsuits against the companies that deal in alcohol and tobacco, why not hit ‘them’ with a 10 percent tax that is specifically dedicated to helping those who run afoul of the product? Statistics suggest (though they vary, depending on whom you’re talking to) that 80 to 90 percent of those who drink alcohol, do so safely, sanely and sociably. However, 10 to 20 percent (at least) of drinkers are alcoholics. That 10 to 20 percent is responsible for the bulk of such social ills as domestic abuse, neglected children, impaired driving, road fatalities, assaults (both sexual and physical), psychiatric ward admissions, emergency room admissions, and so on, through a virtually endless list of costly societal woes.

Meanwhile, recovery and rehabilitation centres (a potential growth industry, to be sure) are strained well past the maximum in attempting to help those souls who are desperately attempting to get away from their addiction.

So, take that 10 percent tax on the distillers and brewers, and direct it towards funding alcohol rehabilitation facilities and their employees. In other words, why shouldn’t the manufacturers of the stuff pay part of what is needed to help those who become addicted to their product?

Likewise tobacco. Most smokers would love to quit. They know their habit (an addiction some deem to be more difficult than heroin to break) is health-robbing. They would like to live to a ripe old age, too. A 10 percent tax on tobacco products (to be borne by the companies) would at least make available some resources and materials to aid in that objective. We could establish smoke-ending clinics on an ongoing basis, financed by this new revenue. We would be enabled to make nicotine patches, and other smoking cessation material available gratis. Pump some of this money into research on new means of breaking the back of this nefarious addiction.

Such would be a proactive step by government, infinitely more effective and honest than lawsuits and draconian bits of legislation and would genuinely show concern rather than greedy hypocrisy. We need a new sin-tax that will genuinely deal with the sin and sinner alike in a positive way.

As it exists now, hypocritical and enabling governments are the biggest sinners of the lot.

A bit about what friendship is all about

– Simon and Garfunkel

Cristina and I have been dear friends for over 30 years. She is my ‘baby sister’ (she’s 20 years younger than I am) and I utterly adore her.

It has never been a romance. I toyed with the idea at one point but was mature enough to realize that moves in that direction stood a chance of screwing up the valuable ‘thing’ that we had. And what was that ‘thing’? True friendship; something that sex, as wonderful as it is, can mess up because it brings in complications.

Our initial encounter was weird enough. We met on a flight from Honolulu to Vancouver. My wife of the day had dozed off and Cris was sitting next to me in the third seat. On a six hour flight you can get to know a person quite well. She was a lot younger and very pretty, of Portuguese extraction and very charming and it turned out that she and I had gone to the same junior high, albeit two decades apart. She had just turned 21 and I was in my early 40s.

Long story short, we just really hit it off. And after we returned home we kept in touch, as one did in those days, via snail-mail and telephone. I would call her from work since I didn’t want to arouse suspicion at home.

And so it went over many years. I have mentioned that when I married Wendy I asked Cris to be my ‘best person’ and when she married (and her husband is a prince of a guy) I made the toast to the bride. In between and during a time I was ‘between marriages, as was she) she came and stayed with me. It was lovely and it was all about friendship.

She did not like my 2nd marriage and she saw things in my new spouse that I didn’t. She was pretty perceptive about that.

And finally, and the test of a friendship, she possibly saved my life one time. I was at the tail-end of my abuse of alcohol. I phoned her, not sure why at this point. But, I guess I was pissed at the time. Somewhere in the conversation I guess I passed out. Cris was in a panic. She called 911, since she was in Vancouver and I was in Comox. The police went to my apartment. I was expedited to emergency and St. Joe’s worked their magic and unbeknownst to me at the time, Cris’s intervention possibly saved me.

Now that is friendship and what it truly means.

Not only are some not ‘doing it’ they have no desire to ‘do it’

asexHuman sexuality is becoming too complicated for my liking. While it is well we have grown sufficiently in tolerance that we accept those of other persuasions and other predilections all I can say is why don’t we now just let people get on with what they do with which, and to whom, and be done with it.

Nowadays we make space for heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, and the other people who like to indulge in acts that range from the charming and sensual, to the bizarre, to even the downright icky. That’s OK, though. Consenting adults and all that. I know I have no concerns with virtually anything done by consenting adults, as long as it makes them happy and hauls their ashes and they don’t frighten the horses.

But — and this is where the complications come in, according to British psychosexual studies — there is a group that maybe some of us were not aware of. Those who devote their lives (and governmental grants) to making findings, feel it behooves us to accommodate those of no sexual preferences whatsoever.

That’s right. Nothing. Na-da. Not only are there people who don’t do it, they don’t want to do it. If they’re not getting any they are also not fantasizing about making the beast with two backs.

This group within the general population has absolutely and utterly no interest whatsoever, regardless of the circumstances, in anything resembling coition. I know it would be a cheap shot to suggest I have dated members of this group, but haven’t many of us?

Cheap jokes aside, however, if we are to be genuinely ‘inclusive’ in this society, as we seem to be hell-bent on, then we had better pay heed to these guys and gals. This is all true. They have found a collection of folks in society that has never had sex, has never hankered after sexual congress, and has not only virtually, but literally no libido whatsoever. Those same scientists (whom I suspect look remarkably like the science nerd on The Simpsons) are so involved in this study that they believe it is only fair that these people, like homosexuals, heterosexuals, metrosexuals, transsexuals, etc. deserve their own category — nonsexuals.

How weird is that and, just how many people are we talking about who have never had an attack of the horny vapors? Evidently somewhere in the realm of 1.05 percent of the population. Not exactly stunning numbers, but if you multiply by populations of assorted places around the world, it does make for a goodly, if not necessarily enchanting, crowd. For example, the US has a population of 295 million, and that means that there are around 3 million folks who are ‘not’ going to get too friendly with your spouse late in the evening at a party, if male, they are ‘not’ going to think all the girls in the bar are looking better at closing time. In fact, they are not going to care what the girls (or the boys) look like. They’re just not interested.

I suppose there are advantages to being in that uncharmed 1.05 percent. You never have to worry about looking your best, since you are not trying to attract anyone. You don’t have to fret over possible halitosis and you’ll never need to buy deodorant. You won’t even worry if you have crap stuck in your teeth. There is, admittedly, a certain freedom therein.

Furthermore, you’ll never have to wonder, if single, whom you are going to be with on a Saturday night or New Year’s Eve. You never have to worry about unwanted pregnancy, STD transmission, or having to launder the sheets ‘yet again this week,’ Or indeed if your undies have one more wearing in them before you change them. One woman in Edmonton was reported to have said she has thoroughly enjoyed never having been aroused by anybody at any time, because this has left her life so uncomplicated and enabled her to get on with important things. What important things? Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I just cheapened myself by writing that.

All I can say in conclusion is chacun a son gout, I suppose. But, I must also be thankful that I am in the 99.95 per cent group, despite the number of complications in the old ‘coupling’ field I’ve had to deal with in my life.