Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leader of the Pack (Because I'm Late For Work And I Don't Have Time To Think Of A Better Title) Next Month: Better Titles

Leah read the draft of our Christmas letter last night. She said it was depressing. I said, "Duh, I'm going to finish it with Merry Christmas!"
The letter is mostly for people that don't follow this blog since everything in it has already been online. The depressing part of the letter is that unlike this blog, which is opt-in, the letter is opt-out and even that isn't true, since there is no mechanism to opt out of it.
If you want to see what you're possibly missing, click on the link here.
If you do, you should know that I am aware that "hopefully" has a controversy attached to it when it is used as a disjunct as I do in the letter However, no other word seems to work better, and hey, I'm a rebel. A rebel with a cause; hopefully.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We're Off To See The Vizier, The Wonderful Vizier Of Oz

I'm not sure if I'm talking about hypocrisy here, and of course only the overconfident would say anything is ironic. But, isn't it at least odd that  some people that think it's fine to show graphic pictures of aborted babies at state fairs or PTA meetings  because stopping the horror is more important than cosseting the squeamish, but some of these same people are upset that the Senate's Torture Report was released, as if admitting torture is worse than torturing.
One argument against releasing the report is that if people knew what we'd done, it might incite violence against Americans. But you know who already knows about the torture? The terrorists that were tortured.  Also, the innocent people that were tortured and then released might have mentioned it to their friends and families as an explanation for why they were off to join the jihad.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Bard Of Dagobah

According to the eloquence book, odd word order is another bit of craft. So, brilliant Yoda is.
In trying my hand at it, I realized that tat for tit maybe a great way to pay for body art, but it's no way to run a government. Sparingly, think I, we should use this, because after a while, don't you just want to say, "Jeez, Yoda, you're 800 years old and one with the Force, when will you learn to form a simple sentence?"
Man proposes, God disposes, but it was Leah and I who went to the dump on Saturday afternoon. I had a long weekend and big plans for reorganizing the chaos in our office and bedrooms, or at least swapping the chaos from one room to another. But, a few weeks ago, I'd noticed a bag of bird seed in the garage had been gnawed through, which, along with seeing a mouse, made me think we had a mouse in the garage. I cleaned up the bird seed, and figured the mouse would find another place to live.
The mouse, as if. On Saturday, as I got ready to roll up my sleeves and start in on reversing entropy in the house, Leah screamed so loud in the garage, that I could hear it in the kitchen since she had called my iPhone first. There was a veritable mouse civilization living in our garage. A well fed, bourgouise, prosperous, tending towards obese, mouse city of city mice. Even the garage, which is detached, was like, "Dude, you've got to do something."
The mice were eating so much more than bird seed. They had chewed open a bag of organic mulchy stuff, and some caffeinated  sport beans left over from bike rides, and who knows what else. They'd spread it carefully all over every concealed corner. but they were not very careful about keeping their food corner separate from their restroom corner if you catch my drift.  Anyway, long story slightly shorter; we cleaned the garage, using copious amounts of Lysol and set some traps. Now we wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Hungry Are Not The Enemy, Hunger Is

or so the activists say on TV. But for me now, hunger isn't the enemy, it's barely even a memory. One of my readers told me not to say that the turkey was stuffed, and now I am. But, ha, ha, we had corned beef. We did that once many years ago. My sister came up from Seattle, and when she went back to work, she told them about the corned beef. Her co-worker said, "You Jews can't do anything right."
I have been off my diet for a few days. Saturday was my anniversary, well, Karen's too, and we went to a movie. Oddly, on a day that celebrates two becoming one, I got my own popcorn, because, as I explained to Karen, I don't like to share.
Today is Thanksgiving, and of course, we all have a lot to be grateful for. Fox News must be pleased that the day after a Republican report completely disproved all of the deranged accusations they'd been making about Benghazi, thirty thousand of Lois Lerner's emails were discovered. "Will there be any smoking guns?", the interviewer asked about the unread emails. "I'm sure there will be," the guest  who hadn't read them, said. Of course, when it comes to smoking guns, Fox has been positively ecstatic about Ferguson.
In other, better, news, The Earth Girls were featured in the Alaska Dispatch Holiday Gift Guide:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

If Only The House Republicans Had Some Way They Could Reform Our Immigration System

In church last week, the pastor read the story of the battle of Jericho. I know you shouldn't pick and choose among truths, but, probably because of my own personal history and pathology, I don't like stories about walls tumbling down.
At work, the word has gotten out that I'm planning to retire, possibly because every morning I tell them, "Ha, ha, just five more weeks till I leave you losers behind forever." I've never been more popular, although it's the kind of popularity that a dead raccoon by the side of the road has among crow connoisseurs. Like they say in church, "Where the body is, there the vultures will gather."
All the carriers are coming by to look at my route with a view to bidding on it. The underlying, unflattering subtext is, "If that old man can handle it, how hard can it be?" 
Political watch: It's been 517 days since the Senate passed bipartisan immigration reform and John Boehner said that the House would take up a bill of its own. They haven't, but now they're so insulted by the President's actions that they can't be expected to pass a bill about anything, not even a bill to implement their own ideas to reform immigration. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Scary Messages Are Coming From Inside The House

I heard an interview with an Idaho Republican Congressman today. Representative Labrador is willing to leave the country without an Attorney General, stop hearings on judicial appointments, even threaten another government shut down in response to the President's action on immigration. Apparently, the one thing House Republicans aren't willing to do, and haven't been willing to do for the last year and a half is take up the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013.
I can't even...
but only because that's an example of aposiopesis from Chapter Seven in the eloquence book.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Sing The Body Electric

I went back to the doctor a few days ago to find out what the MRI I'd had revealed.  The doctor asked, "If the pain starts in your neck, why didn't you have a cervical MRI?"  So, on Tuesday I went and had another MRI. It went okay, as far as I know; I fell asleep. Earlier that  day, though, I had an EMG. That's a procedure that involves a needle and electricity and is slightly painful. That part wasn't so bad, but it also involved a cattle prod-like device that caused a sort of twitching. It really felt like hiccups, but grand mal hiccups. Monday I go back to the doctor to find out what that was all about.
As you know, I try to give my customers a boutique experience. I try to anticipate their needs even before they do. So yesterday, I gave one of my customers her mail, and then before she even thought to ask, I also gave her my take on the elections. I told her that going forward, she should read my blog to know how to vote. She was gracious, but she said that she didn't read blogs. Apparently when it comes to gazing at navels, she'd rather gaze at her own. Well, okay Kristin, read it or be in it. She's a professor, a job I could never do. I mean I could talk, I just don't listen to myself that closely, I've usually already heard what I'm saying.  If a student came up after a lecture and said they didn't understand what I was saying about gremlins, I'd be I'm not sure either, was I talking about the car, or the imaginary creature?

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Bullys For Billionaires

I got an e-mail from the President today. He said I shouldn't be cynical because of the election results; that cynicism is easy, but doesn't lead anywhere. It is easy, though, especially when you hear John Boehner talking in that voice that sounds like an orange hot air balloon looks.
A hot air balloon that is gloating, "I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Of course, that works sometimes. The Wizard had a pretty good run after his balloon took him to Oz, but ultimately, someone always pulls the curtain back, revealing, in this case, a big man with small ideas. 
Of course, there is a case to be made for optimism, too. Only Nixon could go to China. Maybe McConnell can go to the White House and find a way to work together with the President. Probably not, though. He's spent the last six years blocking any progress in the Senate, and even though it's contributed mightily to gridlock and made America despise the very government they elected,  it's made him Majority Leader. Plus, I could be all optimistic, but according to Clive Thompson writing in Wired, cynicism online makes people look smart. I don't want to brag, but knowing that Don Young is our congressman, makes me feel simultaneously depressed and like a genius

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I'm Not Saying The Republicans Are Like Slaveowners. I'm Saying The Electorate Is Like Antebellum "Poor Whites"

White and off white, rich and poor, ignorant and educated, that patchwork that is America (or the third of it that voted) came together like the generation that made the world safe for democracy and made democracy safe for billionaires. The last time there were this many Republicans in the House of Representatives was during the Great Depression. Coincidence? I doubt it.
There is nothing new. Mark Twain* said (and it really was Mark Twain, not just me saying Mark Twain because he probably said it since he said so many things) that people tend to vote against their own best interests. In Alaska, as around the country, several ballot measures, including an increase to the minimum wage, passed, but candidates that opposed the measures were elected.
When I was young, one of my friends used to drive by a house where a German Shepard would rush out and chase his car. One day, the dog made a super-canine effort and managed to bite the tire of the car as it went by. The wheel kept rolling, of course, and the dog's teeth were pulled out. Now that they've caught the government, let's see what happens.

*<...the "poor whites" of our South who were always despised, and frequently insulted, by the slave lords around them, and who owed their base condition simply to the presence of slavery in their midst, were yet pusillanimously ready to side with the slave lords in all political moves for the upholding and perpetuating of slavery, and did also finally shoulder their muskets and pour out their lives in an effort to prevent the destruction of that very institution which degraded them.~A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 

Monday, November 03, 2014

Speaking Of Getting Old

To update a recent post, the MRI was for a pain in my neck, shoulder, back and arm. By the time of the MRI, the pain, which really has been intermittent for years, was gone again, but this time it left a numbness and tingling in my wrist and fingers. Wednesday I go to the doctor to find out what it all means.
The only thing that was even slightly abnormal on the MRI was a bulging disk, so I assume that's the problem with the numbness and tingling. I don't really want them operating on my neck, but maybe traction, or PT, or ignoring it will work. 
My leg only hurts now when I walk, and not always then, either. So, basically, I'm getting old. Which as they say, beats the alternative. Until, I guess, it doesn't.
Oh, and speaking of alternatives, even though I think we can all agree after this brutal election campaign that we don't want anybody to win, we definitely want some of these people to lose. So, if you haven't already, get out and vote. It might even make a difference.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Campaigning is Not Governing. It's The Antithesis. So, At Least There's That

I may be dating myself (and it's none of your business who I date) but I seem to remember a time when people ran for elected office, and then the campaign ended; the winners governed and the losers got jobs.

Now, it's endless elections, endless wars, endless buffets and nothing new under the sun. Solomon said there is "a time to be silent and a time to speak," but no one ever seems to just shut up and do something. We used to have movers and shakers, now we have mavens and doyens, pundits and panjandrums, but nothing ever gets done. 
Also, hey you kids get off my lawn.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

But That's Not The Way It Feels

The MRI I had last week has revealed that I'm a big baby. The report was replete with terms like, "normal," "slight" and "Stop wasting our time."
Ha ha, of course it didn't say that last bit, they got paid for their time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's Alive

After a long gestation period, Earth Girls Love_____ has a website. It can be found at earthgirlslove.com
Once there it is possible to purchase Earth Girls Love_____ merchandise. So far, it's just their highly regarded organic lip balm, but very soon other items will be available, so check back often.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coming Full Circle In A Tube, Which Is A Full Circle

Since that time I was born, I've always thought of myself as claustrophobic. Last week I had an MRI. I was nervous, anticipating being entombed in a metal tube. But I loved it, entombed? More like enwombed. 
I don't know what the MRI revealed even though I looked at the images on my computer. I mean it's obvious I have bones and even a brain, but I don't know why they seem to hate each other. I may have to show them to a doctor despite my sense that that never helps. 
I've been staying home from work this week because I've been running a fever. I'm starting to feel better. But, one way or another, I might end up seeking medical advice. If I do, I hope I can find someone better than the Cuomo/Christie Duck Dynasty Doctor. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Maybe They Should Put A Bag Over Their Heads

The Republicans are more hypocritical than a Pharisee sharing a pulled pork sandwich with a harlot and a moneylender, a harlot, a moneylender and a pig. They are hyperventilating about the two cases of Ebola that have developed in this country and railing about the administration's handling of the epidemic of two cases, complaing because the Ebola Coordinator is a coordinator and not a doctor
In the meantime, they have blocked the appointment of a new surgeon general because he had the audacity to say that the plague of gun deaths (thirty-two per day) is a health issue. As if people dying by the thousands every year, isn't a health issue.

By the way, eloquence is harder than it looks, antithesis will arrive when I think of a suitably epigrammatic one.

Friday, October 17, 2014

We Should Doff Our Don

When our Congressman was young, he might have been effective, but now Young is just a bully and a buffoon, and according to an editorial, possibly insane. 
So, I think that nails polyptoton, next up, antithesis. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You're A Poet And You Don't Know It

...is something that no one ever said to Shakespeare, because he was a poet, and he did know it.

I preordered a book, The Elements of Eloquence, to try and make this blog more interesting and my arguments more compelling. Now it's arrived.  The author, Mark Forsyth, says that even a genius such as Shakespeare used these techniques to improve his writing. Actually, Mr. Forsyth says that Shakespeare was not a genius, but a craftsman who learned the figures of rhetoric and deployed them skillfully. 
My plan was, and still is, to sneak the different elements into the blog and let the praise pile up. Chapter One introduces the simplest one: alliteration. And it turns out, I have, in a prior post, used that one, to wit, Don Young is a bully and buffoon. 
I'm hoping that now that you've heard me tell it twice, and in an alliterative approach, Alaskans, that 
we can end this poor player's strutting and fretting; that he could be heard no more. I don't know if all lives are tales told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but that definitely sounds like a Don Young news conference.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Oh, What A Noble Mind Is Here O'erthrown!—

Last night I was winterizing my new bike with my usual aplomb, putting on a fender and studded tires. I was satisfied with the work by the end, although not every bike mechanic needs a hammer for the installation, probably because they're not as creative as I am, or possibly they have better impulse control.
Anyway, when I came out this morning to go to work, one of the tires was flat, and I woke Leah up and told her she either needed to drive me to work, or find a way to her job without using my car because I didn't have time to walk. It wasn't till much later in the day that somebody asked me why I didn't just ride my other bike. "Alzheimer's, I guess." I was planning on playfully riffing on that with the Hamlet quote above, but I couldn't remember it! Ah, Google, the demented's little helper.

Space, The Final Frontier, Or A Cold Infinite Emptiness?

When I used to feel maudlin, this was pre-Zoloft, of course, (I'm a Post Maudlinist now ) I would see the moon (this was the original moon before the current sequel craze, i.e. Super Moon, Blood Moon, etc.) and imagine that the people I missed were looking at it at the same time.  I doubt they ever were, but check out this completely unrelated item, Emo Phillips is going to be in Boston on November 14th, and exactly one week later he'll be in Cedar Rapids.

And speaking of being maudlin, or happy or whatever feelings humans have, I always thought one of the flaws in the Vulcan psyche is (or was, or will be) that if a being has no emotions, why would they do anything, "What's my motivation?" Now, I've been (or was) vindicated. Listening to a book by an autistic author, I heard her cite research that shows that people whose brains have been damaged in a way that removes their emotions are incapable of making decisions and are essentially paralyzed. When I heard that, I felt.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

I Thought This Would Fit In The Last Post, But It Didn't.

Adam Smith wrote in the Wealth of Nations (fine, I never read Adam Smith, but neither did you, so how are you going to argue with me) that in a free market as we pursue our own best interests, there is an invisible hand that makes the economy better for everyone.
Unfortunately, we now live in an oligarchy and their lobbyist lackeys. The invisible hand is now just an invisible finger to poke us poors in the eye.


Can't We All Just Get Along? No, Stop Asking.

According to NPR, because Alaska is a cheap media market, with a vulnerable incumbent Democratic senator, we have been inundated with Koch brother (and other's) money to sway the election. TV programming, the mail, our front porches and telephones have all become unusable extensions of the campaign with  the result that Alaskans are enraged. At everyone.
It's not just the negativity that grates, it's the cognitive effort to have to keep listening to the Republican ads, and then mentally debunking them.
For example, the ads try to tie Begich to Obama's "failed" policies without naming them. Are they the ones that brought unemployement below six percent? Are they the ones that (using the Republican blueprint, credit where credit is due) got health insurance to millions of uninsured people? The record stock market? Killing bin Laden?
They certainly don't want to talk about their own record. While they bemoan the national debt, they shut down the government rather than even discuss raising the taxes on billionaires that pay at lower rates than the middle class. They don't want to discuss the policy that led to the invasion of Iraq, at a cost of over a trillion dollars, a war that was so mishandled that it created ISIS. Although they do seem eager to get back into that war.  Do they want to talk about their voter suppression or their views on legitimate rape?
I only mention this as confirmation of the NPR report, we are enraged. Unfortunately, as a red state, most of us are enraged at the wrong people.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Probably Not A Serious Policy Proposal

We're bombing ISIS because they've killed two Americans in a grisly fashion. This will be the third, no, fourth time we've gone to war with enemies of Iran. Our relationship with the Iranians is starting to seem like one of those cheesy comedies where two lovers pretend to hate each other in public. And by attacking ISIS, instead of letting regional powers deal with them, we are giving them legitimacy among people who inexplicably resent our attacking Middle Eastern targets, aiding their recruiting. 
In the meantime, 32 Americans are killed by guns everyday without ever leaving the country. If we want to save American lives, maybe we should declare war on the NRA. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Legs Bad. One Leg, Even Worse



When Karen is in a lot of pain, she sometimes tells us that she wishes we were too, so we'd know what she's going through. We tell her that's not very nice, that we're not wishing the pain on her, that we're doing the best we can for her, that caregiving for an angry person isn't exactly the life we would have chosen, and that our wish for her is that she could be pain-free. Well, dreams do come true, at last. I woke up this morning with a debilitating pain in my leg. I can barely walk. I actually noticed it last night when Karen woke me up to change the input on the TV so she could stop watching a DVD and go back to regular programming (we have a new DVR and remote [which has nothing to do with her not being able to change inputs, I'm just bragging a little]). I assumed it would be better in the morning, because isn't everything? So far, it's not, but I've taken some aspirin. If I was making this up, my new replacement bike would arrive today to mock me, but no, it's still mocking me somewhere between Federal Way and Anchorage.
Recently, I heard an interview with William Deresiewicz, railing against the Ivy League. His thesis is, “The system manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” He calls them, and his book, Excellent Sheep. Which, is fine I guess, but a little irritating.  My dad said you don't have to go to college to learn how to spend money. May I add that you don't have to go to an expensive college to learn how to feel bad about your life? It's not just the young entitled that don't know the purpose of their lives. It just gives you the luxury to indulge  your angst. To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, sure you're depressed, but what does that have to with the fact that the cows still need to be milked?

In any event, it's the furious sheep that are so annoying. Just like you wouldn't let a fox guard a henhouse, why would you let Fox guard a sheepfold? The oxymoronic thought leaders on the right didn't want socialized medicine and released their sheeps of war to attack it, arguing for mandates and subsidies for insurance companies. When they got what they wanted, they turned their ovine marauders loose on it chanting,  "Obamacare bad, the exact same thing by a different name, good. And, also Benghazi."











Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm Working On A Post In My Head That's Really Good (In My Head). This Isn't It.

So, which is more pathetic, those sad sacks that are live tweeting their lives instead of live living them, or the people that follow them? I'm asking for a friend.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Buyer's Remorse. For FREE.

I met the car of my dreams yesterday. It was a Subaru Forester with low miles, but a high enough seat that old people could get in and out of comfortably. Karen liked it too. She enthused, "Fine, get it if that's what you want." She said it in that way that let me know that she'd be fully onboard until the first problem when it would become, "That car you insisted on getting."
And still I was going to get it until I couldn't sleep this morning (I was expecting to be called into work) and my mind wouldn't let go of the fact that we had a car that sort of works,  that doesn't cost anything, compared to a well-priced dream car that costs something. But this older car does need maintenance and probably costs more to operate than the newer car that has four wheel drive, so it's much safer for winter driving, but are we even going to be here in the winters anymore since I really am still thinking of retiring, but we can't be gone all winter or we'll lose the PFD and the slickest part of the winter is when it's warmest, i.e. early and late when we'd be here, but does 4WD even help on ice, or just on snow?
And also, Don Young is a bully and a buffoon.