569. Cardinal sin: an unforgivable error or misjudgment: lack of impartiality is considered a cardinal sin in broadcasting circles

Image result for red cardinal on a garden gate photosA dab of red paint perched on the garden gate

A cardinal guarding his tawny mate

Who flittered to their hidden nestImage result for red cardinal on a garden gate photos

From a hole inside the big pine tree

A black snake glided silently

Toward the dab of red Image result for black snake curling out of hole pictures

Who failed to see

The uninvited guest

Even if you close your eyes

You can picture the restRelated image

After dinner’s surprise

All that’s left is that red dab

glimmering through reptile eyes.

Image result for red eyed black snake

Mrs. Bird regrets to apprise

All the mourners of her husband’s

Unfortunate demise.Image result for female cardinal pictures

“Though, all things considered,

He had it coming. Did I fail to mention

I told him a thousand times to pay

Attention?”

 

 

 

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568. Figure/Ground Concepts, Cyclops, and Tribalism

Figure–ground organization is a type of perceptual grouping which is a vital necessity for recognizing objects through vision. In Gestalt psychology it is known as identifying a figure from the background. For example, you see words on a printed paper as the “figure” and the white sheet as the “background”.  (Wikipedia) Here’s another image to unpack. Image result for figure ground imagesIs it a white vase or two aliens conversing intimately? It’s both or neither since the viewer supplies the conclusion after processing the ambiguous prompt. If a mechanic turns it sideways, he/she may see an axle. A plumber may see a  Danish plunger. Your brain seeks a general completion for these specific stimuli. What you decide it is will come through your filter of experience.
Here is another to ponder:
Image result for figure ground images
Do you see the white spindles?  Or do you see the slightly bent dark medieval fellows quietly waiting with hand tucked in their jackets? In any event we see what we decide to allow our brains to focus on.
Obviously there is a literal truth to the last image. It is a set of three dimensional spindles that are shown two dimensionally. You can tell by the shadows that there is contour and depth not present in the first two images. Still, it’s a strange phenomenon when when we try to fit our external stimuli into categories or conclusions, and we mistakenly misplace something.Swans Reflecting Elephants, 1937 by Salvador Dali
I often do this when hunting ground hogs. I assemble color and shape and shadow at a long distance, and conclude that I am looking at a ground hog. After all, that is what I am looking for. We find what we look for, right? On finer inspection with binoculars, I often see the mirage is simply a brown rock next to some dead grass. This morning I was watching the baby bunnies hop about the yard next to their protective home deck. Robins and woodpeckers swooped in the same area. Suddenly my eyes caught a white half circle behind a planter. Without my glasses on, I concluded by its color and shape and location that it was the magical white bunny that lives beneath the deck. I placed a figure/stimulus into a familiar background/context. I assumed or concluded it was feeding steadily, which is why the white half moon did not move. When I stepped off the treadmill and had another perspective, I saw it was the bottom half of a five gallon white bucket. Uh, time for a new context.Image result for bunnies in the yard pictures
So, this led me to think about how we frame up our world these days in our politically polarized country. Most certainly we see what we decide to see. The very same story can be interpreted by three different news agencies and/or reporters three different ways. Let’s say Fox News, CNN, and Reuters. Each different perspective will find a different figure/ground narrative and thus reach a different conclusion because each starts with a different agenda or filter. The parts are assembled to match pre-existing templates of a Deep State conspiracy or a Right Wing conspiracy. Reuters, I think, just tries to call balls and strikes of U.S. news objectively. They are not in the ratings/opinion business in the U.S….yet.Related image
All three sell news. Let me repeat– SELL news– with or without condiment opinions. If Reuters is a plain hot dog, then Fox is a hot dog slathered in mustard, onions, and sauerkraut. Leaving CNN with ketchup and relish. No matter, all three SELL news to the largest audience they can rope in.Image result for hot dog pictures
A quick review says CNN is worth $8-10 billion. The estimated worth of Reuters and Fox were not as easy to find. However, I believe that Fox dominates cable audiences and it’s reasonable to conclude that they are worth as much or more than CNN, or as my buddy Evil Kevin calls it, the Communist News Network. Again, we see what we choose to see. Image result for human faces of fear
Fear is a great motivator for action or reaction. The fight/freeze/flight reaction resides in all of us as a self protective radar system. However, it is not a great help to responsible rational thinking. Survival is the immediate and only goal as adrenaline courses through our bodies.
Related image
And so the purveyors of news dutifully deliver large doses of fear all day and night, as if they were competing pizza shops. Social media also delivers all sorts of crazed conspiracy theories, in case your news pizzas weren’t spicy enough, verbal sriracha and Tabasco sauces are poured on mightily to further inflame the Facebook/Twitter world. Everybody gets jacked up and moves further into their tribal corners, surrounding themselves with like minded patriot parrots. Let  me borrow a paragraph from Aaron Beck’s Prisoners of Hate...Image result for rabid usa nationalists pictures
Nationalism is centered in the glorified image of the state– its power, prestige, and possessions. By identifying themselves with this image, individuals experience a boost in their own self esteem; they bask in the glorious past and future aspirations of their action. Of course, defeat produces a decline in self esteem and eventually may trigger depressive feelings. The narcissistic, even grandiose, trappings of nationalism are expressed in claims to superiority over other states that may ascend to extreme racist beliefs in the status of “the master race” and the baseness of “outsiders”.Related image
When folks bathe in their own silos, eating and drinking selective propaganda, and denying other narratives, it is predictable that the result is cyclopes with tunnel vision. Repeating lies over and over again like hammer blows births compliant belief in the weak minded and submission even in iron. Some scholars suggest that the one-eyed creatures were tied to ancient blacksmiths…
Walter Burkert suggests that the archaic groups or societies of lesser gods mirror real cult associations: “It may be surmised that smith guilds lie behind… Cyclopes.” Burkert also suggests that because cyclops are at times portrayed as blacksmiths, the legend of their single eye may have arisen from the practice of blacksmiths wearing an eye patch over one eye to prevent flying sparks from blinding them in both eyes.Related image
In either event, in our various tribal silos there exists a one-eyed perspective, a lack of peripheral vision and depth perception, compounded by parroting what the fully sighted say, no matter how silly or self evidently false.Image result for eye chart gif
But studies have shown that adults who lose the sight in one eye have declines in their abilities to accurately track moving objects, to judge distances, and to perceive depth. That means they will have to learn how to consciously use one eye and their other senses to gather the information their two eyes once collected effortlessly.
So it seems that however a person comes to be one-eyed– by accident, self immolation, or by willful ignorance, the results are the same:  In the land of the one-eyed parrots, the binocular sighted man is king, if he can just stay out of the silos.Image result for pictures of cyclops

 

567. Professional procrastination

Image result for the thinker sculptureProcrastination is like a time of constipation in one’s motivation toward a prescribed destination. You want to do the billing or taxes or whatever, you really do, but then you start lip syncing along with Adele on One and Only. Just a few bars…

Related imageYou’ve been on my mind
I grow fonder every day
Lose myself in time
Just thinking of your face
God only knows why it’s taken me
So long to let my doubts go
You’re the only one that I want

And six minutes later you are emotionally another person without a past or a future. Strong and determined, shaking your long hair around with a smoky sensual authority; kicking emotional buttocks all over the room. Even saying, “Thank you very much” with a Cockney accent. You get up from the lap top and bow, squinting into the blinding klieg lights. Bowing deeply with a namaste pose. “Thauhnk You. Rahlly. You’ve beeen a luovely auhdience.” You really mean to get down to serious work, but then your inner drama queen breaks through the placid surface of your day like an Orca in mating season.Related image Free, free Willy… and his brother Willy Nilly. Don’t be silly, like a fool from Philly, get down to work now, dilly dilly. If it’s flat or hilly, warm or chilly, even if you’re a big fat hillbilly, get your ink and get your quilly, you can’t stand stilly when there’s work to killy. Uh huh. Just free-styling here. My audition tape is waaay better.

Before you know it, you’re tearing up the entire 21 album, Rollin’ in the Deep. Forget lunch and that phone call you need to make, the letter and emails…

Image result for adele singing picturesWe could’ve had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
But you played it with a beatingRelated image

Man! I need to get on point here. Okay, okay. Prioritize. Filing is good mindless stuff in a dark back room. The truth is this: blogging is my siren call away from my real job. I don’t have ADD, but I do wander about and wonder about things all the time. For instance, maybe twenty years ago I thought of one-handed dental floss. Now, Boom! it’s available at Target on a plastic stick. Someone else made it happen. I missed the big payola on that idea.Image result for one handed dental floss pictures

I have other ideas for progress in the personal grooming field, however. One of my new inventions serves two purposes: specialty mothballs for nose and ear hair removal. Once the formula is perfected for hair removal, small balls the size of raisins would be placed in each nostril and each nasal passage for up to a week. The result? Baby butt smoothness slicker than warm bacon grease dripped on a linoleum kitchen floor. The problem so far in my lab research is that the literal guinea pigs are suffocating or just eating the damn nasal raisins instead of following the directions on the label. Mostly the male guinea pigs are getting the ear pellets stuck too far in their ear canals because they don’t ask for directions nor do they listen, so it serves them right. I’ve had eleven E.R. vet trips just this week. So far the only intolerable side effects have been gran mal seizures and/or cardiac arrest. Hair freedom is not free, lest we forget. “All guinea pigs gave some; some gave all. Amen.” I have tee shirts for sale also with guinea pigs in various poses. $20, x-small only.Image result for guinea pig gif

So, as I suggested in an earlier post, I believe Amazon should continue its training of pelicans for daytime delivery of packages under two pounds. (You heard it hear first. Just remember that.) At night hoot owls could pick up the load. They have the added advantage of being able to peck baited door bells and speak, “Hoo Hoo Hoo?” The Prime Amazon recipient would have the code word pre-programmed, “Me Me Me”. It’s seamless and an awesome use of owls that are just collecting welfare and road kill at the present. Now I know UPS drivers and FedEx guys are gonna howl about the unfair advantage that birds hold over men in funny uniforms and big trucks. I’ve already thought that through, however. By paying per piece instead of by hourly rates, the birds will only get paid for their completed runs. Being birds, they won’t qualify for social security or workman’s comp. So there’s a huge savings realized right out of the nest. I think it’s genius.Image result for Pelican carrying something in its bill pictures

Just fresh fish delivery is gonna revolutionize the meaning of fresh. “Still flappin'” could be a brand name.

Another idea that is behind its time would be free range trash pickers. Lots of folks wander around Turtle Town panhandling in some fashion or other. They are only looking for a couple of bucks to buy a sandwich or a drink, maybe a few cigarettes. If businesses allowed them to sort through their outside trash for recyclables and half eaten pastries, they could generate cash for themselves on a daily basis. We would need a trash buyer along the lines of Edsy Finucane, who bought rags from my mother’s people back in Cambridge, Mass. during the Great Depression. Edsy the rag man came down Fenoe Street calling, “Rags. Bring me yur rags.” Apparently he made a living that way. It’s funny how when there wasn’t much to go around in the 1930’s, folks figured out how make the most of very little. We are plagued today with what to do with too much. Related image

One of the local free rangers managed to pick up trash for the Chamber of Commerce. Dustin rakes up leaves and paints walls, moves snow, fixes little things around town, and waters the flowers in season. He eagerly adds value to our downtown while living an independent life. I love to see his success and hope the other panhandlers will follow suit. Wash windows maybe. Clean floors. Polish door knobs. Run errands that don’t involve cash.  Sell bananas. Get to work!Image result for errand boys pictures

Okay, I think I can go back to work now. Well look at that– it’s lunchtime. See ya.

566. John Prine & Kindred Spirits

Image result for john prine picturesChatting with Round Bale outside the Good Times dance venue in the weakly wafting breeze of an unseasonably warm night last Saturday, he was conflicted between keeping his paid for ticket appointment with John Prine at Merriweather Post Pavilion or a favorite Blues artist in a local municipality’s Bluesfest. “Can you feel that wafting?”

“Not yet, dude. You may be absorbing all of it. Maybe I lack the ionic magnetism to attract air molecules that have free will.”

“You mean iconic? Let me move. There. Feelin’ it now?”

“Oh, yeah. Nice, you icon of sweaty swing dancers. You are the sexiest white man in the roomba since Barry White passed. Last year’s dance was unbearably hot, remember? In the 90’s.”

“Yep… wait, Barry White was Black.”

“Duh, it is self evident that he was white. Barry…White.”

“No man! It’s like Al Green. He’s Black. It’s just his last name.”

“Are you nominally racist?”

“No!! I have nothing against people of color!”

“A nominal racist discriminates against people’s names. Like Clint Black. Do you hate Pink? The Moody Blues?  They can’t help the color of their last names.”

“Uh, okay, moving on…But you gotta sweat to sing the blues, brother. I want to see them both, but I have to work some time. It’s a time issue not a money issue, so it is.”Image result for old guys sweating outside club pictures (He loves a good  pun too.)

“Sure. I saw John Prine way long ago when we were both young, at the Kennedy Center with Steve Goodman. Two great American song writers in their prime. Back then I had all the time in the world and no money to pay for parking so I had to walk sixteen miles each way, but it was a good show. Funny how that works out.”

“Yeah, love Prine… Illegal Smile, Spanish Pipe Dream, Sam Stone, Angel from….” His seemingly photographic memory reminded me of one of my dearest departed friends.

My mind continued to wander down Prine Street this morning, so I told Alexa to play John Prine while I trod the treadmill. Mmmmm. So many associations built in to each song as the notes and lyrics scrolled backwards in time, skied uphill into the swampy springs of my emotional memory banks. Up comes Mark Craver, who personally thanked me for introducing him to John Prine’s music. He often made Prine lyric references, as I recall. “About Rocky Mountain Time” touched him, though I never imagined why or where back then. Related image

The station was empty
The trains were all gone
I reached in my pocket
And I wanted for dawn

[Chorus:]
The clock played drums
And I hummed the sax
And the wind whistled down
The railroad tracks
Hey three for a quarter
One for a dime
I’ll bet it’s tomorrow
By Rocky Mountain time

Mark never came right out and said what he was thinking or feeling. You could hang out for hours or days before his needs were un-muddied. Deep waters are like that. In those depths it’s so dark and inscrutable. Funny, the first thing I thought of when we toured the Hemingway house in Key West was Burly, his affectionate nick name bestowed by Jimmy Wilkie. Mark would have been in reverent awe, I’m sure. Kindred spirits do that when they meet. Imagining Hemingway in each room was harder than seeing Mark at the typewriter all night. That was easy for me. Papa fits both men who were bigger than life, stronger than oxen, and unforgettable. The words fail to explain how I wished he was standing next to me on those Hemingway steps.Related image

Your Flag Decals Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore and Yes, I Guess They Ought To Name A Drink After You, resonate as bitter favorites with Mark, but so many still hum happily in my neurons with attachment to a smoke filled apartment living room in Williamsburg…  too long ago to touch. Which sucks another Prine song through the splintery knothole of time into my consciousness…Related image

I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
For they always bring me tears
I can’t forgive the way they rob me
Of my childhood souvenirs
Memories they can’t be boughten
They can’t be won at carnivals for free
Well it took me years
To get those souvenirs
And I don’t know how they slipped away from me.Image result for pawn shop pictures
I don’t linger in pawn shops or graveyards. Though I’m sure they are full of tragic stories, they can wait for my business. I have a green and white Navajo vase with a little cactus in it. Mark’s mom gave it to my wife when he lived with us too briefly before we got in the children business. And there’s the Dire Straits album of his that was mistakenly filed in a Fleetwood Mac sleeve that I have somewhere at home. Along with his books and some emails, these are my cremains of him. The rest are scattered around Walden Pond. Yeah, he was like that: brutally loyal to his values. Thoreauly.Image result for Massachusetts walden pond pictures

Way, way back when I was 17 years old I took a trip to England. I met two Aussies and one English bloke in a hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland around New Year’s Eve. The Aussies I have forgotten, but the other fellow Rob Campbell invited me back to London for the final days before I flew back to the U.S. We rolled our own cigarettes dipped in hash oil and drank bitters at pubs with his mates. He talked American music with me, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Dylan, and others I’m sure. When I got home, I mailed him John Prine’s 1971 album and some other forgotten disc. He loved Prine. Kindred spirits have this thing of getting one another.Image result for london in 1973 pictures

Mark was a good listener as I recall. He never shut me down when I blew my baloney around. “He’d say ‘sure, sure’ and ‘yeah man'” when I’d be talking just to hear myself think. After quitting my job as a proofreader in D.C. at a Big 8 accounting firm on K Street, I was jabbering with my wife in our Vienna, Virginia house. Mark was living with us temporarily. My wife said I should go into teaching. Mark agreed. And that was all I needed to move forward with my first career. Funny thing is that a year or two later Mark did the same thing and became a teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia. He did not need my affirmation, but I sure needed his. Burly was like having a Sherman tank behind you.Image result for man in front of sherman tank picture

Mark could crush you with one hand while petting your dog with the other. He loved dogs, probably as much as he loved people. Dogs don’t betray you. But let me conclude with the chorus to yet another favorite JP song.

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”

Burly was a massive white oak tree in my history. I guess today I just wanted to say Hello in there. Hello.Related image

565. Dorothy Gayle and the Wizzard of Wizziness

Image result for james comey picturesWhat to say? Mr. President, you wanted to see me?

Image result for trump head shotsInvestigate the more salacious aspects of the fake Russian dossier. Do it for me Jim. Promise me your undying omerta love. Can you do that for me, Jim? I’ll make it worth your while, you know, a squid pro quota.

Image result for godfather movie stillsWhat? I mean, am I hearing what you’re saying. Omerta is the mafia law of silence. It is not the law of the land or consistent with my oath to uphold the constitution, with all due respect, sir. And I can’t digest shell fish, sir, especially squid.

Related imageSessions left us alone. Did you think that was an accident, a tiny bladder issue? Sheesh!! C’mon, man. It’s just the two of us now, you and I. You don’t mind if I do my patented handshake pull with you, do you, Jim, Jimminy, Jim Jimminy, Jim, Jim, Jaroo? Just the two of us, we can make it if we try. If you’d like to get jiggy, I’m down with that too.  No? Image result for trump shaking hands with comey gif I said my beautiful wife will be upset if there is even a 1 percent chance of this being true. You know, golden showers and the Moscow hoes and all the Russian germs. I’ve cheated on her so many times, Jim, she can’t bear one more disappointment. You gotta help me, man.  I’d never do that sort of thing. Look at these hands. Does it look like I need sex workers?

Image result for octopus and crab picturesYeah, sure. I’ll look into that Dj. I will crawl away backwards like a blue crab from an octopus now and make some contemporaneous notes in case you eat me later like a clam Twitter. Right now I am stunned, like I’m on a date with Bill Cosby.

Image result for caesar salad picturesThanks, you know, in the days of Caesar Romero and Caesar’s Palace and Caesar’s Salad… loyalty was the thing, loyalty to a Batman script, loyalty to a casino, and loyalty to a Mexican salad that sound like it’s from Italy.  I neeeeed loyalty, Jim. I cannot produce my own. It’s like supplementary hair and testosterone. I have to take supplements to keep it flowing at my current historic levels. That’s classified by the way.Image result for shriveled up trump pictures You know the secret to a great Caesar salad, Jim?  Anchovies. Knew a girl in high school named Ann Chovy from the Choviet Union. We, well I, used to tease her with my wicked nick names. I called her Little Anchovie. Ha ha. No wonder I was so popular. Even then, you know what people said?  I mean, a lot a lot of people said, “You’re gonna be president one day, Don.” I said I’d rather be rich than righteous, you know. Uh, what a comic I was, I am still, right? Right!! Don Rickles once told me that I had what it took to do his Vegas act. Image result for don rickles face picturesSo I built an entire hotel there. Cuz I’m a builder, you know, like, some people compare me to the Emperor Vespasian, who built the Coliseum.  Betcha didn’t know that, did ya Jimmy Bro. But me, I’m like, no way, dude. There’s no money in big stadiums. Hotels and casinos, that’s where the dinars are. You know Pence thought I meant “diners” when we were in Saudi Arabia. He kept looking for the Waffle House. What a Hoosier Hoser. Ha Ha. I’m killin’ it. “Thank you all very much. You’ve been a lovely audience. I’ll be back here again in 2020 for the later act. Maybe even for life. God bless you and God bless the U.S.A.” (waves to window in Oval Office).Image result for trump staring out oval office windows

Uhhhhh, Mr. President, we’re the only ones here. Who are you talking to?

Everyone. I am everyone and everyone is me, as he is she as you are he and we are all together. John Lennon said that I was the walrus. I won the popular vote when you deduct all the loooosers who voted for Crooked Hillary. You better hope I’m not recording this moment, Jimmy Giraffalo. You know in sixth grade I was a big fan of the FBI. Back then it stood for “female body inspector”. Ha ha. I hope I am recording this for posteriority. Ha, there’s another good one.Related image (In an FM dj voice, low and slow) “This is classic WDJT with bigly Don Juan here at the right side of your radio dial. My big hands are on the knobs for the next three hours, ladies. Just lay back and enjoy the experience. Don’t fight it. Just sign that nondisclosure agreement and mail it back to me at FM 98.6, where I’m just gettin’ started. Use your seat belts in case we hit turbulence.”

Image result for awkward jim comey gifMr. President, I, uh, uh, don’t know what to say, but I,uh, am feeling very awkward in my entire 6′ 8″ frame, you know? Like I’m seasick in a porn shop on a Dutch cruise ship and I can’t find the bathroom door.

Image result for Pinocchio and jiminy cricket on a boat picturesNo worries, Jimminey Cricket. On the Trump yacht I have all sorts of stabilizers and good men like Mike Flynn on board. I’d hate to see him fall overboard, you know what I mean, Jimmy Boy? Though I would consider a pardon if you did.

Sir, I can’t help but feel that you are trying to influence me on many levels, and as the head of the FBI, I cannot and will not…

Image result for trump talking gifStop, Jim. You are either for me or against me. I want you to put a hit out on -essions Say and the -intons Clay and CNN- say. I want -illary’s hay’s -ead hay on a -atter play. Do you understand me, Jay? I took Latin in prep school too.

But, but, sir, I cannnnnnn look into the legality of such an order from the Commander in Chief.

Good, good. Now go and do what you must; decide if you want to be a Judas or a team player.  And remember: we’ll always have Vegas, Mc Donald’s, and maybe your retirement package.Image result for michael corleone kissing fredo

 

 

564. Scanning Scandals

Image result for hp envy printer picturesI needed to scan my liability insurance form to prove to another mental health insurance company clearinghouse that I had such insurance in case someone in their insurance pool wanted to sue me for malpractice. Apparently the insurance company needed reassurance that I was insured. Sure, I get that. I found the original policy behind my building insurance policy. From somewhere far off I heard echoes of Harry Chapin’s Taxi song playing; don’t know why the lyrics bubbled up…Image result for harry chapin taxi album cover picture

Well another man might have been angry  And another man might have been hurt,  but another man never would have let her go, I stashed the bill in my shirt. 

That song was about lost dreams and settling for much less. A blue opera in San Francisco. All I wanted was to scan a low drama black and white insurance policy face sheet.Image result for printer smashing office gif

In any event I slammed that face sheet on my printer and hit the scan button of my relatively new printer. It’s an HP Envy something or other. Envy, right? I don’t envy a machine that is nothing more than an automated mailman. I push the buttons around here, mate. The thing is a computer inside a printer, so I opened the command screen and selected SCAN. It asked me about computer information which I could not provide. So I hunted around the control panel, looking for other ways to command this insolent printer to scan my document, to do my bidding; so I could then upload it; so that the insurance company could rest assured that I had liability insurance in case one of its customers sued me for malpractice.Image result for office emperor pictures

Now I’m thinking of Alice’s Restaurant Massacre saga, full of repetitions…

You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant. After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put us in the cell. Said, “Kid, I’m going to put you in the cell, I want your wallet and your belt.” And I said, “Obie, I can understand you wanting my wallet so I don’t have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?” And he said, “Kid, we don’t want any hangings.”Related image

Now all I wanted to do was upload a copy of my insurance policy’s face sheet that stated I have insurance coverage of $1,000,000 per incident and $3,000,000 cumulative coverage for the global insurance police to prove to local insurance companies that I work with that indeed I do have liability insurance in case I am sued for malpractice. Whew! I spent a while looking in my laptop menu for the magic command icon to click upon. (Who am I kidding?  I felt like a virgin at a casino slot machine, desperate and trembling.) Sadly, I could not locate the icon. After much wasted time I texted my new son-in-law, who is an IT Houdini. Now, I just texted my plea to Zach, not realizing I sent it on a group message. As Zach was replying, my daughter Grace Face Timed me directly.Image result for facetime gif

Laughingly she told me she knew I was in need of scanning advice. “How’d you know?”

“You sent it on a group text, and knowing you, I knew someone would have to talk you through it slowly.”

“You only say that cuz it’s true.”

“Yeah.”

I wielded the phone around to show the printer and laptop, glad that she already knows my shortcomings and continues to love me despite them.

“So, have you scanned on the printer before?”

“No.”

“Is the computer new too?”Image result for facetime gif

“It’s the one I bought last year after the bookshelf fell down and crushed the last one. Remember that day?”

“Oh, yeah. yeah. That was epic. You kept talking to your client on the cell phone under a pile of books…. So, open your control panel and look for devices or printers.”Related image

“Okay. Got it.”

“Click on that twice.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You don’t have an Indian accent.”

“Ha ha. Do it, Dad. Deewww it mahn. Youuu cahn dooo it, mahn.”Related image

“Ahhh, much better. I can see clearly now.”

I complied and went into the next level. Slowly the path to scandinavian scanirvana appeared out of my cognitive mists. “I see it, Grace. I’m clicking it now.” I felt a surge of technological rodent power in my mouse click. EEK EEK!!Image result for space capsule in space pictures

Ground control to Major Tom.  Ground control to Major Tom. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on…. Ground Control to Major Tom.
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong.
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?

Okay, it was not nearly as dramatic as the David Bowie Space Odyssey song, but I’m trying to boost the emotional content of this technologically inspired post. More menus appeared and I had to actually read down the list of options. Frantically I searched, just wanting to see a button with SCAN on it. I wanted easy and simple in this overly complex world we live in. How naive. I wanted Ozzie and Harriet; I got Hewlett and Packard. I was Major Tom, lost in space.Image result for ozzie and harriet in space pictures

“Here am I floating ’round my tin can
Far above the moon
Related image

Fortunately my NASA engineer daughter kept visual contact with me and helped me with my Lamaze breathing techniques. “Dad, stay with me. Visualize a llama or an alpaca high in the Andes. You have suffered a massive head injury, but the llama knows the way back to the village below. All you need to do is blow the feather, okay?  Blow the feather.”Image result for llamas in machu picchu pictures

I tried to go with her imagery. I imagined a Condor’s feather, erring on the side of large rather than a sparrow’s tiny feather. “Okay, okay. I am blowing the Condor feather on my llama while we descend from Machu Picchu. I can sense more oxygenation reaching my brain.”

“Good, good. Now, if the cursor is pointing on the blue box labeled SCAN, using your right index finger, click the mouse twice.”Image result for typical printer scan menu images

“Click.Click. I did it. I hear the printer scanning. I’m gonna be okay. Thank you!! But I still need that Indian accent to seal this moment.”

“Okay… Helloahw, my naihme is Sahhndrah. Youuu deeed it, mahn.”Image result for indian man gif speaking

“Thank you, Sahhndrah.”

“No problem, Dad. Have a scandalous day.”

“You too.”Image result for scandalous images

 

 

558. To Kill a Bloggingbird

Image result for jim carrey typing gifNever at a loss for stuff to blog. As long as my fingers follow my brain’s commands, I’ll have something to flow into them:  filtered thoughts that get processed into words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Along the nearly instantaneous journey, these thoughts are weighed with rhetorical tricks and tones, and a narrative voice. It’s not a speaking voice but a writer’s voice that I interact with on my computer screen as the Rolling Stones play Street Fighting Man in the background. “Well, then what can a poor boy do except to sing for a rock n roll band?” The words meander as I allow them to, not always arriving at a clear destination, usually due to never declaring one. (If you don’t check a bag at the airport, you really shouldn’t pick one up. It’s called theft.) Then the finer details flow from later editing and read backs. I know, you thought it was all just one verbal vomitfest on a broken compass dish. Hey, whatever gets you through the night.Image result for sleeping iguana pictures

Jagger was not a street fighter. He did not march on the front lines of the late ’60’s revolution. No fire hoses or tear gas or Molotov cocktails for him. Nope. He wrote the soundtrack for it while enjoying recreational drugs and a rock star life style. (I have one of his biographies if you’d like to borrow it.) However, the street fighters of that time are all old, broken, or dead, and merely anonymous asterisks in the rolls of history. Jagger persists like an iguana. He’s just old. Still, I find his and Keith Richards’ songs capture time and transcend it somehow. Just like Dylan remains relevant, the Stones manage not to be devoured by time’s fickle fashions, and not fade away. And that’s all I have to say about that, said Forrest Gump.Image result for forrest gump at bus stop pictures

Well, not exactly. Let’s just say that I’m widening the lens of observation. Let me state the old truth that art outlasts life. Reality burns up quickly and we are left with ashes and coffee grounds that we call change. But Art captures reality, magnifies it, and eventually transcends it. Which is why it’s inevitably self defeating to write about today’s news. By next week it is soiled newsprint at the bottom of a parrot’s cage. Art, on the other hand, rises above the daily grind of life. It captures a theme, paints a character, or sets minds ablaze with creativity.Image result for walter lett pictures 1936 trial

Compare a newspaper article from the 1930’s, let’s say Monroeville, Alabama. Yeah, like 1936. Oh, and the story was observed and transformed later by Harper Lee.

When (Harper) Lee was 10 years old, a white woman near Monroeville accused a black man named Walter Lett of raping her. The story and the trial were covered by her father’s newspaper which reported that Lett was convicted and sentenced to death. After a series of letters appeared claiming Lett had been falsely accused, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He died there of tuberculosis in 1937. [Wikipedia]  Happy ending for all, right? If he was falsely accused, why did he die in jail?Related image

Of course that real story died a long time ago. But Harper Lee’s fictionalized To Kill a Mockingbird came out in 1960, almost sixty years ago, and is still relevant. Why? Because it captured reality rather than being captured by it. Had the story been told by Atticus Finch rather than his daughter Scout and son Jem, I’m not sure it would have been so captivating, since Atticus knew the ways of the world, and had lost his innocence already. He could fight for justice in an ocean of injustice, but his children had not learned all the awful, crippling lessons of racism yet.A sign in Jackson, Mississippi, photographed in 1961.

The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism.”  [Wikipedia]Image result for scout and boo radley pictures

Now Harper Lee could have written a non fiction examination of racism, fully footnoted and documented like a Ken Burns documentary. Maybe a few people would have read it and been impacted by it. However, she chose another way of telling the story, a fiction, that hammered home the horrors of racism because it is seen through innocent eyes, un-jaded by the ugly compromises of growing up in ignorant apartheid.

Of course, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn achieved something similar long before Harper Lee. Same ugly themes involved:  man’s endless inhumanity to his fellow man. What the temporal adults in the current newspapers could not get straight, the eternal children in fiction have had to correct.Image result for huck finn and jim pictures

I’m waiting for the fictionalized version of our current scourge of mass murders. It seems the adults in the room can’t have conversations about the way forward with guns and ammo, so the children are having to lead. I recall air raid drills when I was a child in the early 1960’s during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Somehow curling up in a ball in the hallway was supposed to be a defense against nuclear missile attack. Even as a first grader I knew this was like throwing rocks at a rocket launcher. A comforting lie is better than no answer, I suppose. And yet I read that a school in rural Pennsylvania distributed buckets of rocks for defense against an active school shooter. It seems that marshmallows were the first line of defense but the kids ate them after the first drill.Image result for cuban missile crisis photos

In any event it may require a Huck Finn or a Scout Finch to memorialize a fictional massacre so that the adults in power can grasp the horror involved, when the next non fiction slaughter arrives on schedule.  Tell me what can a poor boy do, but throw rocks at a killing machine?Image result for street fighting man album cover

563. Scarce Value

Related imageListen to the ocean inside of you

Keeping time on the white sand beach

With turquoise waves unfurling heart beats

Pulsing across the deepImage result for ocean transposed onto a man's stomach photo

 

Listen to the squawking gulls

Circling in the onshore breeze

Nothing matters more than this

Wade into your kneesRelated image

 

Listen to the creaking shipwrecks

In your joints and worn out riggings

Asking for another year

To dance and dine and begin againImage result for sailing shipwreck photos

 

Listen to that soft still voice

That says value comes from scarcityImage result for a single seashell photo

 

Listen to the tide go out

For the last timeImage result for low tide pictures

Like your first breath

Nothing matters more

 

 

 

562. Tapestry/Travesty of Integrity

Image result for hollywood beach florida picturesStrolling along the Broadwalk here in Hollywood Beach, Florida on a fabulous April morning, mid 80’s, light breeze from the north, full sun shimmering off the turquoise waters beyond. Our last day here before we head back to Turtle Town. What impresses me at second or third place on my impression-o-meter, is the vast diversity of people gathered here from all over the world. Fashions, languages, colors, music, and let’s call it cultural variances, abound in the shops and wait staff as well as the throngs of visitors.Image result for hollywood beach florida people pictures

We had dinner at a Turkish place last night. Breakfast in a Mexican cafe this morning. Drinks at Jimmy Buffett’s place last night. We’ve had Eastern Europeans and Indians, Cubans and Haitians, Asians and Central Americans waiting on us and waiting with us. French and German folks chattered away, safe from our curious eavesdropping. It feels like New York City on valium only it’s Miami. MMMMMiammmmi. I know it’s not from a Latinate language, but mi ami means “my love” in some language from Europe.  Let’s see what Wikipedia says,

The name Miami derives from Myaamia (plural Myaamiaki), the tribe’s autonym (name for themselves) in their Algonquian language of Miami-Illinois. This appears to have been derived from an older term meaning “downstream people.”Image result for city of miami pictures

Yeah, I like that. I’m hanging downstream where rivers yawn wide in open mouths with my Italian dove “my love”, Julie the junior cruise director, moving along on our own little thread of this huge, glorious human tapestry. I love diversity for many reasons. It’s dynamic, energizing, and creative. Diversity, I believe, precedes greatness, whether it’s New York or Vienna or Paris, London, Venice, San Francisco; all humanity is needed to achieve its highest levels of art, science, dignity and integrity.Image result for pictures of vienna

A couple of lovely Black children were sitting in the hot tub this morning. It was clear to me that the boy was the older brother and the younger girl was there to lovingly annoy him. We chatted briefly, both agreeing we didn’t want to go home– them to Kentucky, me to Pennsylvania. “Do you think I can take a gaming system through the airport?”

“I don’t see why not. I took my laptop through. Did you buy one here?”

“Naw. I left my PS4 system back home cuz I didn’t want to lose it.”

“Well, it looks like you’re surviving without it.”

“Yeah, I love it here. South Beach was so cool, all the cars I’ve never seen before, Maseratis and Rolls Royces….”Image result for two black kids in pool pictures

From way back in my mind I recalled an old interview with the Beatles back in the early 1960’s. They were storming the U.S. on tour and were scheduled to play in the Gator Bowl in Miami, September 11, 1964. At that time segregation was still the rule of the day, but not for the Beatles. They refused to play the gig if it were not integrated. I suppose they’d seen and heard enough of racism in their short lives, and they weren’t having any more of it, while most of America continued to serve and eat this toxic turd sandwich. Lo and behold, the Gator Bowl relaxed its racist rule for their concert, despite the outrage expressed by Stone Age Whites in the south, especially after photos appeared of John Lennon swimming, mind you, in the same pool with Negro women!! from the band, wait for it… The Exciters!!! Martha, git the shotgun!!!Image result for beatles in gator bowl pictures

Soon thereafter John Lennon made his infamous “more folks know of the Beatles than the Bible” comment, which was inflated and manipulated into a demonic message. These long haired fag boys from liberal England were communist atheists who wanted to have sex with Black women and bastardize western civilization while undermining everything holy and righteous with sexualized darkie music. The only sane thing to do was hold tent revivals and burn Beatles records, which is what they did. Proving in the process that hate and bigotry are far more important than the true teachings of Jesus.Image result for jesus baptizing others pictures

What did Jesus do with the marginalized and the pariahs of His day?  Exactly. Embrace, heal, and love them. He would have been in the pool, more or less, and in Gator Stadium swaying along to “Ticket To Ride”, giving mercy by the boatload. But that doesn’t matter when you can stir up paranoia pancake batter and serve it with conspiracy theory bacon strips at the church breakfast in the naaaaaame of the Looooooord. Fear allows a better grip on the throats of the naive lambs being slaughtered. They can’t breathe or think as well without enough oxygen. They run to their shitten shepherds and their own destruction. Hmmmm. Sound familiar yet?Sheep and Lambs - Feedlot-02

So here I am in a hot tub chatting with very sweet Black kids, not fully aware of the force of a pop music group, more powerful than the cowardly politicians and preachers who profited from the sacrilegious status quo of 1964 U.S.A. Yet it comes to me that when I was 8 years old, this integrated pool activity was illegal, immoral, and outrageous. I suppose some scientists proved that Blackness can be water borne and infect innocent White girls in pools with Negroes, especially Black males, causing racial homogenization. Image result for chocolate milk pictures

We needed to be separate then but pretend to be equal. You know, and pretend further that we shared a level playing field. After all, a penthouse and the sub basement parking garage are both level just at different altitudes. Martin Luther King, Jr. said something like “It’s a cruel joke to tell a man without boots to pull himself up by the bootstraps”, but that’s what was done. When less than stellar outcomes resulted, the stock answer was something like, “Well, what did you expect? That’s how they are.”Image result for george wallace pictures

Anyway, it seems like the 1960’s are here again as false authorities demonize entire swaths of God’s children, especially the black and brown, the poor and religiously different people. If you’re Swedish, you’re safe, however. If you are rich, even better. But if  you have been marginalized, our hater in chief, in need of a soul himself, will embrace you with the sole of his expensive shoes in your needy face. He has deals to make, lies to tell, and pussies to grab.

Related image

 

561. North to Alaska

Related imageThe day had to come when we turned our rental car around on US 1 toward Miami and the hundred bridges we had to cross to return this Nissan Rogue to its rightful owners at Enterprise in Hollywood Beach, i.e., Tony the attendant who chews snuff to keep up with the stresses of endlessly renting cars. I saw the round container’s shadow in his right front pocket. Sad. Forever a bridesmaid; never a bride. You’d chew too if this happened to you. Bup bup buppa bup.

Image result for overseas bridges keys of florida pictureIt didn’t seem like such a big number of bridges coming down to Key West, but looking back now I see I was mistaken. I had driven from Key Largo to Key West, crossing bridge upon bridge, some humped and others inconsequential, all scary to my copilot. But the way back was like the second year of grief: one knows what inescapable horrors to expect. The element of surprise is replaced by the element of oy vey. Here we go again through a bar mitzvah hail storm, whatever that might be, with hail stones the size of matzo balls and kidney stones the size of golf balls. It’s a rainy night in Key West… Feels like it’s raining all over the world.Image result for hail storm in key west pictures

I knew the key to success was navigating the seven mile bridge and finding that radio station 99.5 f.m. classic rock for south Florida, with Lauren and Bob in the mornings. If I could carefully manage the radio dial again, we might make it back with one mind in tact. (I’ve given up on my own gummy worm brain.) Without a lot of obvious manipulation I moved the dial to the right groove, finding Rod Stewart singing “I’m Losing You”. Yes, that’s right. It set a premonitory tone of negative expectations about the seven mile bridge we were briskly approaching.Related image

Your bridge is fadin’, I can feel it fade
Ah, your bridge is fadin’, I can feel it fade
Ah, your bridge is fadin’, woman I feel it fade… Oooh, ooh, I’m losing you

It was creepy and that’s no exaggeration. Ominous is maybe too weak an adjective to capture the vibe inside the Rogue. We had no other option besides US 1 north. It was our unavoidable destiny. Could a miracle happen again, I wondered, or were we doomed by the law of average? Relegating our lives to terribly painful yet statistical insignificance?  I continued to hope.Image result for seven mile bridge pictures

David Bowie’s “Changes” came on. Perhaps, just maybe he could soothe the wild furies of destiny. Maybe the d.j. would chant some Caribbean Santeria spell that would insulate us from disaster.Image result

Oh yeah
Mmmmmm
Still don’t know what I was lookin for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test
Ba, ba, ba, bridges
(Turn and face the strange)
Ba, ba, bridges
Don’t want to be a richer one
Ba, ba, ba, ba, bridges
(Turn and face the strange)
Ba, ba, bridges
Just gonna have to be a different one
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
Nothing changed as we hurtled onto the seven mile bridge. An eerie calm enveloped me as if I were entering the birth canal into another dimension. Without getting too melodramatic, I believe this is exactly what happened: we crossed the threshold that separates myths from mundanity, a razor’s edge from insanity.Image result for seven mile bridge pictures
Looking ahead of us I saw a burgundy and tan double decker tour bus heading south on the dreadful seven mile bridge. To the east I noted a brown pelican flying low with a small box in its claws. Turns out that Amazon has secretly been training pelicans experimentally as delivery birds in the new cyber world of same day delivery service. The bird was running low on energy and losing altitude as it crossed the bridge and swooped into the open window of the tour bus. (A later autopsy would reveal that the package contained Jenny Craig chocolate/avocado power bars.) Image result for pelican carrying fish pictures
In a fateful instant, when the Amazon pelican struck the left side of his face, the bus driver reacted instinctively by pulling left into oncoming traffic. Who could blame  him after all? There but for the grace of God go you and I, but there was only room for you on this doomed day, my friends.
I saw all of the tragedy unfolding in slow motion as David Bowie cranked out his last lyrics. Out of the corner of my right eye I noticed a section of jersey wall missing; the gap temporarily guarded by neon orange traffic cones. As the tour bus swerved into our path, I did the only life affirming thing I could do: I pulled to my right and ran through the cones and off the bridge.Image result for seven mile bridge pictures
The car careened down twenty two feet toward certain death, but miraculously a shrimp barge was passing beneath the bridge at that very moment as our rental car descended upon it like a wanton Valkyrie. The Rogue slammed into the deck of the barge and bounced fiercely away toward the north shore. Just then a crack line of trained dolphins practicing A Chorus Line for a show in Sea World surfaced and created a floating mammalian bridge for us to barely drive upon until we reached Knight’s Key. In some rare bit of choreography, each dolphin gave its eek squeak in rhythm to the wheels rumbling over it while donning golden glitter top hats and singing,Image result for dolphin chorus line pictures
One!
Singular sensation
Every little step he takes
One!
Thrilling combination
Every move that he makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else, will, do
You know you’ll never be lonely with
You know who
Image result for car driving on water pictures
Due to the equal distribution of mass over speed times the little understood law of energy recoil, my wife and I lived to tell the story of miracle and redemption. Once I got back to Enterprise in Miami, through snuff particles on his lower lip, Tony asked if I’d heard about the miracle on seven mile bridge. I pretended ignorance, convincingly. He said it was the final confirmation he needed to marry his boyfriend.
“When we come down the aisle at the Casino, I’m gonna strut just like the finale to A Chorus Line,Image result for dolphin chorus line pictures
One!
Singular sensation
Every little step he takes
One!
Thrilling combination
Every move that he makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else, will, do
You know you’ll never be lonely with
You know who

I congratulated him and humbly accepted the short uneventful ride back to our hotel.
Image result for mr bean in a car pictures