425. Just a disturbing thought…

Image result for candle in a test tube picture

As the current political atmosphere gets more and more toxic, and the barometric pressure jacks up ever higher, I’ve been wondering what would happen if the media just did not cover the White House for 24 hours, and then 48 hours. Rather than feed the bonfire of vanities on all sides, what if the oxygen (endless attention and ratings) needed to keep it burning were cut off? Back in middle school science class you probably had to place a candle into an inverted test tube to prove that fire uses up available oxygen. Then, when there is no more oxygen, the fire is no more. Remember how the flame suddenly extinguished and then smoke took up residence in the tube? Yeah, I do too.

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379.Unglued

Unbelievable. My second vinyl fake wood floor is letting go of the subfloor again, and I am getting perturbed, which is a combination of per(fume) and turb(ulent), i.e., turbulent smelling, in the Australian dialect, “Crikey Mate, don’t maaahke may explaaain.” I am mystified yet again why flooring adhesive that is universally accepted by other subfloors and composite vinyl floor products refused to bond in my office hallway. It’s not in vitro fertilization here. It’s basically just a big peanut butter sandwich on the floor… but the peanut butter is mysteriously disintegrating. What?>>>??

I imagine the chipper sales guy at the big flooring store is going to have to get tough and throw down on this one. He was quite accommodating on the first floor failure, a regular Guy Smiley. “Hey, it happens now and then. Chet probably didn’t let the glue set up long enough. We all make mistakes. Sorry about the inconvenience.” I’m thinking that this time it won’t go as gently and he will have to blame the customer for crimes against plywood substrates or something just as ludicrous. He’ll probably send out his fixer dude, like the Mafia does, to clean up messes with a lot of bleach.

“Hi, Lawrenc Proctor, from CSI… ” chews audibly on spearmint gum, “Customer Service Intervention. Friends call me Larrrrry. Enemies don’t call.  Heh, heh. After  a cursorory inspection, I can see clearly that your building has excess moisture and/or vapors that seep into our very reliable products. Bottom line is this: the failure of the adhesive to bond is exclusively on your side of the equation, my man. See, my company has paid two unrelated guys to install quality flooring twice already. We can’t go three.” Demonstrates with fingers next to a menacing face.

Continues, “Makes me wonder if we don’t have Munchausen’s vinyl floor syndrome. Ever hear of it? Only known cure is full exposure to the light of truth.”

“I’m aware of Munchausen’s Disorder and Munchausen’s by proxy. Both involve the  factitious presentation of illness in order to gain unjustified attention from high status medical personnel. What on earth does that have to do with your flooring not sticking twice?”

“I think you do know what’s up, Doc. I am a doctor too, in a manner of speaking. Floor doctor.  Flooring people are drawn to my aura like moths to flame.  But the flame is hot, let me tell you.”

Whipping around dramatically with a finger in my face, “Did you spray a silicone product on your floor prior to the first installation. You installed the subfloor, right?”

“No! I mean, Yes! I did install the subfloor, but your own installer actually complimented my subflooring installation. I know in my spleen that’s not the problem. No, I did not spray anything on it. Besides, why would I sabotage my own floor for which I paid your imbecilic company $800?”

“Simple: Attention. You work alone all day. I’m sure it gets hard and lonely at times, huh Buddy? You’d like to hang out with the big dogs, right?  Maybe write your own blog. I get it… but there are healthier ways to relate to flooring professionals. You could go to the annual conference in Rochester, just for starters.”

“I can’t believe this. Don’t start patronizing me, Larry. You are welcome to inspect my subfloor after you remove your second sucky vinyl floor application. Munchausen’s!! Unbelievable!”

“Lemme tell you why that’s not going to happen. I believe you know that the silicone would have been absorbed in the first layer of vinyl and left a residue that polluted the seal of the second. You are good, Mr. Burrito. Crazy good, leaving no evidence except the faint scent of WD40, which I detected as soon as I reached the top step here. Ahh, yes, the almost perfect flooring deception. You nearly pulled it off.”

“I’m willing to grant that one of us is insane, but I’m not surrendering to that label just yet, okay? Ever hear of Lawsuit Syndrome? It happens when a jerk contractor  defrauds his customer and tries to slink away from contractual obligations and product warrantees. It’s only known cure is expensive litigation in court.”

“Now, let’s not get testy here, sir. No need to get upset. I’m sure our regional manager can help you reach resolution to your problem. He’s in our Harrisburg office, next to the state hospital, and I ‘m sure he’d be glad to meet you up there or at the coffee shop of the hospital, just off Second Street and Chestnut.”

“No. You are not going to pawn me off onto someone else who lies better than you do. What is he? A floor surgeon or a floor psychiatrist? Here’s what’s gonna happen:  You are going to replace my floor and get it right or else refund my money and I’ll have a competent floor installer do the job. Or we can do this in court over an expensive lawsuit with court costs that you will pay. This is not my first rodeo with a bad business dude.”

“Are you threatening me? You need to know that I have a permit to carry and discharge a 50,000 volt Tazer. If I were you, I’d stop resisting.”

“Okay, that’s it! I’m calling the police. And I need to warn you that I am carrying idiot spray, also known as bug and hornet foaming pesticide. I can accurately shoot a disabling jet stream within a two inch target radius from 22 feet, Larry. Draw!!”

Before the crackles and zaps of Larry Tazer even began to sputter, I had hit him with a liquid ounce of Spectracide Wasp and Hornet spray at the bridge of his nose. Predictably he began to gasp and cry that he was blinded and could not breathe. I grabbed him by his ear and he begged for mercy. “Take me to the hospital, man, for the love of God!”

I told him to take a message back to his boss– “Larry Proctor does not sleep with the fishes… yet. Don’t send fools to do a wise guy’s work.”

Baron Burrito von Munchausen

 

 

377. Playing Horseshoes in the Dark

“I haven’t been myself lately. You know, communicating fairly. I’ve just been stuck on the recliner while my incisions heal. The less I can do, the more I want to control my husband and kids, who are doing the best they can to step up for me. It’s not right, I know. I just can’t help myself. I’m hypercritical when I should be hyper grateful,” moaned Sheila with mild anger and smoldering self disgust.

Eddie, her husband responded, “She’s been meaner than a badger. I went into overdrive because I know how she likes to keep the house. I gave 150% until yesterday when she nitpicked me about something stupid. I lost it. I thought, ‘You gotta be kidding me!’ So I just quit. Shut down totally. It’s hard enough to do double time with appreciation and support. It’s impossible without it.”

“Yeah, I hear you. So Sheila, Eddie stepped up and gave it his all to carry your weight? Is that right?”

“Yes, he did a great job.”

“Did you tell him?”

“No, uh…uh…I…uh… just get so cranky and unfair…the words stick in my throat. I should be doing it.”

“Telling him or doing the work yourself?”

“Doing the housework. It’s my job and I want it done my way.”

“Look, I don’t know any other guy who would do the stuff I do. I’m not bragging; just telling the truth. I’m not your typical husband.”

“I know.”

“Why don’t you tell Eddie he is exceptional.”

“I want to… I just have this Miss INDEPENDENCE streak in me that is so angry. I should be doing all the stuff he’s been doing. It’s my responsibility and I’m disgusted with myself.”

“And you are taking out your anger on me and the kids!!”

“But you can’t do the work, Shelia. That’s your doctor’s order. Right?”

“Yes, but it makes me feel so out of control.”

“Sheila, Eddie needs to hear how he’s doing. Otherwise it’s like playing horseshoes in the dark.”

“I’m not following you.”

“Imagine Eddie is throwing horseshoes in the pitch dark. He thinks he knows where the target is and how far away the stake is. He’s throwing blindly, hoping to hear metal hit metal, like a bat operating on sonar. You need to tell him if he’s hit the target or not. Is he close?  Your words are like light for him. The more  you tell him, the higher the wattage bulb for the horseshoe metaphor.”

“Where do you come up with this stuff? Do you play horseshoes?”

“No, I’ve just been married for a long time. So, can you tell him he is exceptional and that you appreciate his efforts?”

Deep breath, “Honey, you are exceptional. And, and, uh, I don’t know any other man who would do what you do willingly. You know my expectations and jump to meet them. Thank you. I do appreciate you. Will you forgive me for being such a bitch? I’m just so disgusted with my uselessness.”

Eddie, “Absolutely. Thanks. I forgive you. I love you, not what you do.”

Sheila smiling, ” Whew! That was pretty simple. Hard but simple.”

“Like killing someone, huh? It’s not complicated, but it is hard.”

Eddie, “The horseshoe image clicks with me. If you don’t tell me what’s up, Babe, then I am in the dark, just guessing at what you need. Keeping me in the dark handicaps, no, dooms me to fail. I can’t fix what you don’t tell me. If you do share your thoughts and feelings…well, it’s like everything lights up, even the horseshoes. That would be awesome to have neon lit stakes and shoes.”

Sheila, “Oh, how cute, Eddie. That would be fun!”

Eddie, reaching for Sheila’s open hand, “Yeah, that’s my girl.”

“You two are too young to be Led Zepellin fans, I guess. But they had a hit song called “Communication Breakdown” in the ’70’s. Let’s see, click on lyrics…. there.”Image result for led zeppelin album covers

Hey girl stop what you’re doin’!
Hey girl you’ll drive me to ruin.
I don’t know what it is that I like about you
But I like it a lot.
Won’t you let me hold you
Let me feel your lovin’ charms.
Communication breakdown
It’s always the same
I’m having a nervous breakdown
Drive me insane!
“What I like is how the song bursts out impatiently in the guitar licks to reinforce the content of the lyrics. It just wouldn’t work as a slow number. Likewise, when we talk to one another under stress, we need to slow down and be totally clear.”
Eddie, “We’re more into classic Country music, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Loretta.”
“Yeah, sure. Stand By Your Man. One of my favorites. Let’s get that up here…”
Stand By Your Man

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You’ll have bad times, and he’ll have good times
Doin’ things that you don’t understand
But if you love him, you’ll forgive him
Even though he’s hard to understand
And if you love him, oh be proud of him
‘Cause after all he’s just a man.
Stand by your man, give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely.
Stand by your man, and show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can.
Stand by your man.
Stand by your man, and show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can.
Stand by your man.

 

Eddie, “That’s a real woman.

Sheila, “Bullseye, Buddy. That’s how I want to be for you.”

Eddie, “Deal! Man, I love counseling!”

Sheila, tugging on Eddie’s wrist,  “Is it just me or did it get a lot hotter suddenly?”

Eddie, “Definitely you got hotter. Let’s go home, Sweetie. Doc, can you give us a few seconds alone? I think I have a double ringer twirling on the flagpole of love. How about that? Poe tree.”

Sheila, “I like it, you big farrier.”

“I’ll be in the front room listening to Barry White songs if you need me.”

 

 

 

343. Immigration Quilt

Some folks call me liberal; others call me conservative. My twin brothers-in-law, for instance, call me lots of names while playing chess. I think I’m consliberal or conliberative, a mixture of many threads. Both individual and communal minded. I like free enterprise and capitalism, it’s just that human beings suck and lie, cheat, steal, defraud, plunder, rape, pillage… you get the point. Therefore, we need a government entity to protect the community from the uber wolves who have no conscience. We also need government because we suck at being good citizens. Left to my own devices, I would not drive the speed limit nor get my car inspected nor pay taxes in a timely manner. Nor would you, comrade. I might shoot the neighbor’s barking dog at three in the morning after listening to it all night. Fish and hunt when and where I felt like it. Make my own rules as I went along. Still, we need productive citizens who make money and pay taxes in order to have a government that in turn protects us from foreign and domestic threats. But this is not my point, it’s just intro blather.

Lately the political/news porn lens focus has been on migrants. It’s not a new fear about the foreigners, the different ones. Way back when, it was the Catholic and the Jew who were feared and despised. Then it was the Eastern Europeans and then Asians and then Central Americans… all coming to  destroy our perfect union, which has never been perfect. Somehow these unwashed savage despicables were going to take our jobs, our land, and our women, which never really worked out, and in any event our ancestors took all of that from the Native People just after they hit the shores.

Anyway, talking with Gary after Sunday School this morning, he mentioned having had new citizens to his lovely home over Thanksgiving. “It was neat. Here we were eating Thanksgiving dinner with immigrants.”

“Gary, unless you are Native American, you’re an immigrant too. You just had a head start.”

“Yeah, I guess so. I just don’t know about the immigrants who don’t want to assimilate to our culture, you know, and want to stay in their own closed off enclaves.”

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“You mean like the Amish, the fundamental Mormons, the Shakers, the Hassidic Jews in Brooklyn, the Klan, the Branch Davidians, or drag queens, or gypsies, or…”

“No, I was thinking about these Muslims. They don’t want to assimilate and I can’t see how they can want to be Americans and at the same time work against being an American. You know, try to bend our country into an Islamic state.”

“I hear you. Everyone seems to have an agenda, but what I like about our country is that it’s like this huge quilt that is made of loosely affiliated people groups who somehow find a way to coexist. Farmers from Vietnam, bankers from Canada, doctors from India, pilots from Norway, nurses from Belgium, etc. Like last week in New York City, we drove through China town and Little Italy. Didn’t make it up to  Harlem or Spanish Harlem, but these places are all heavily ethnic yet assimilated. Actually, I’m not sure what a fully assimilated American would look or sound like, George Clooney maybe?”

“But it seems like these Islamists are radical and want to make us like them instead of just joining in, finding a niche for their culture inside the existing one.”

“Yeah, the guns and bombs are hard to ignore. Hmmmm. If one percent of Russian immigrants are evil, and one percent of Africans, and one percent of Mexicans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bolivians, well… I don’t know how you keep that per cent out unless you keep them all out. And that does not seem very American. I’m sure there were unsavory Irish, German, Italian and French immigrants. You and I descended from such stock and we’re pretty despicable. Heck, Georgia was a penal colony, for goodness sakes! Let me Google something on this…

The British used colonial North America as a penal colony through a system of indentured servitude. Merchants would transport the convicts and auctioned them off to (for example) plantation owners upon arrival in the colonies. It is estimated that some 50,000 British convicts were sent to colonial America, representing perhaps one-quarter of all British emigrants during the 18th century. The State of Georgia for example was first founded by James Edward Oglethorpe by using penal prisoners taken largely from debtors’ prison, creating a “Debtor’s Colony”. However, even though this largely failed, the idea that the state began as a penal colony has stayed both in popular history, and local lore. The English also would often ship Irish and Scots to the Americas whenever rebellions took place in Ireland or Scotland, and they would be treated similar to the convicts, except that this also included women and children.

“Can you imagine this today? Importing a group of known criminals, 100% of them known convicts. And what about slavery?  The despicables there were doing the importing. It was all okay then when cheap labor was needed. Today we send good jobs overseas and import sex trafficking victims, but it’s the same old sad story of evil people taking advantage of others.”

“You really think we’re despicable, I mean, you and me. A lot of the stuff I say about you is just joking, you know that, right?”

“Gary, even despicables like us get a swatch of printed poplin in that grand old immigrant quilt I’m talking about. We’ll be in the armpit section, but we’ll still be part of something bigger, better than we are.”

“So you don’t think we need to buy a bunch of guns and ammo and start patrolling the mall with Josh?”

“Actually the mall is going to collapse under the weight of its uselessness coupled with its undesirability and history of bad management. Folks just stopped migrating there when competition showed up.”

“You think some other country will open its arms to these refugees, then?”

“Yes. A land with barren spaces and no ingrained culture to overthrow.”

“In this hemisphere?”

“Sort of…I was thinking of Antarctica. If you squint, it sort of looks like a bunch of Amish guys dancing with Hassidic Jews and some Shiite dudes.”

 “Thanks, man. You have a way of muddling difficult facts in such a way that I just feel better leaving you.”

“You are welcome, my fellow traveler brother.”

 

 

327. Dilemmas and the Dalai Lama

Dilemmas are difficult double bind situations in life. The classic line “Damned if I do but damned if I don’t” sums up the word.

noun: dilemma; plural noun: dilemmas
a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones. For example,
“the people often face the dilemma of feeding themselves or their cattle”.
The official word origin says dilemma comes from “Di (two) Lemma (premises)” but it could come from two lemurs, muttered by a drunken Austrian dude, “der lemurs”, as he exits a petting zoo in Munich.
 We all face them, dilemmas (not der lemurs) in life. I recall when I got a loan for the house we built in 1985. Interest rates were ridiculous at the time. Oh how the Reagan love slaves forget. It was not unusual to get a fixed rate of 15% on a twenty year loan. Great for the banks but untenable for regular slobs who bought their own lunches.  We took a gamble and risked a three year variable loan at 11.5%. It was dicey because we feared the rates would go up again like a drawbridge after three fixed years and we’d be stuck forever on the wrong side as the Trump Yacht sailed through the bridge’s gap. Fortunately the market corrected in that time and we refinanced at 9% and then a few years later at 7%.  Nice returns for the banks but a bloody mess for the average working family. Bankers butcher their customers and leave blood and oxtails on the floor when they are done “helping” their customers… in my overly dramatic slightly eccentric opinion.
 Image result for banker pictures
The dilemma part was that paying rent went nowhere while real estate prices were only going up and up. So if you rented cheap places you could live on the meager wages you earned but never acquire any long term assets. On the other hand, if you bit the bullet and bought overvalued real estate at historically inflated interest rates, you were skating on thin ice in April. No wonder that dilemmas are often compared to the horns of a bull. Either option will gore you to death.
 That’s got to hurt. Oddly, hard charging hot growth economies are called Bull Markets, butt as you can see, (or, as you can see the butt) timing is everything.  This matador should have cashed out five seconds earlier. He may be singing “Der Lemurs” with the drunk guy at the zoo in his newly acquired soprano register. Not Tony Soprano either. To the tune of Edelweiss,
“Der lemurs
Der lemurs
Every morning you greet me
Black and white, clean and bright
You look maniacally happy to greet me…”
Clink! goes the tequila bottle against the St. Pauli Girl growler as the new friends stroll along the wide streets of Montevideo.
“You are alright, Pedro, but why do you walk so funny?”
“My butt cheek got gored by an angry two thousand pound bull at 8 miles per hour, Claude.”
“You don’t say.”
“No, I just did say.”
“Did you know Al Gore invented climate change?”
“Claude, you’re drunk if you believe that.”
“But I’m drunk if I don’t….”
Sure, it’s all good and funny until some poor matador gets gored in his back door. I mean, how would the attending surgeon go about that procedure? Now I get the example given above, “do you feed the people or feed the cattle?” Neither the bull nor the matador is going to want to eat after this chance meeting. “Just ice water with lemon for me, thanks.”  Me, I’d slaughter the bull, cut the horn off, and send the matador to the ER on a cart with a hole in it for his shamed face to hide in while checking his Facebook page.
“Holy Guacamole!  I went viral for all the wrong reasons. My nameless faceless butt is famous. Oh the humanity!”
Now here is my dilemma:  at 500 plus words into a frothy no calorie word shake, I must develop the other horn, as promised by my title–> His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Other authors who possess self respect, common decency and solid boundaries would stop here and delete the previous 500 words. But not a man named for an oversized Mexican flour tortilla. Burrito, you will be amazed to learn, means “little donkey” in Spanish or Mexican, as you wish. Sometimes also affectionately called jackass. I am not avoiding the Dalai Lama discussion with my trail of embedded footnotes. No, I’m just a curious guy.
 I do wonder what happened to the previous 13 Dalai Lamas, however. So I went in search of the truth at Google. In moments I was surrounded by more Tibetan Buddhist words than Madonna has stiletto heels. I had a hunch there might me a llama loose in the woodpile, if you know what I mean. And if you do, please tell me because I don’t know what I mean. Like a goat I pick all low hanging humor fruit, rotted or otherwise.  It’s delicious.
So, the Dalai Lama is the counterpoint to my first point, which I can’t recall making. In a nutshell it was about the dangers of drunk guys going to bull fights and singing songs from The Sound of Music. There was also something about interest rates and bull markets and bull crap. Let me cut to the quick–  the  man we have come to know as the Dalai Lama was a burned out accountant from San Francisco who moved to Montana, determined to start over again. He traded in his suits and lap top for a flowing robe collection, mostly saffron and scarlet. He looked like a college dean from Holy Cross on graduation day as he wandered about the hills and dales of Montana, looking for new meaning and purpose in his life. He took on a cowboy name, Dale, and began to raise and shepherd homeless llamas.

After several years, locals called him Dale the Llama Guy. It stuck. His flocks grew and his wisdom found a big enough sky to flourish beneath. Old Dale just spread out like smiling wildflowers, possibly edelweiss, blown along the foothills. One day, however, two slightly drunk guys came by singing “Der Lemurs”, and Dale knew what he needed to do… get to Tibet as fast as he could go, to save humanity from itself. And that, my children, is the whole truth about dilemmas and the Dalai Lama. Maybe.