Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The adventure continues

Balderdash, Butt Dust! What is important will remain important in the face of family health issues, economic reversals and extended family legal issues. These things are distractions, but what is important will stay important, and only cowards would use them as an excuse to avoid adventure. Adventure MUST continue!

Remember David, the lines from that old Mac MacAnally song...

"And now they just go on, because they've lived so long, and they were raised that way, what a price to pay, just to live."

There are people within ten miles of here, barely ten years older than me, who go eat at Denny's every Sunday morning. Some impulse prevents them from visiting IHOP now & then, some deep fear that perhaps their head would explode. People like this exist, and they didn't just spring from Zeus' forehead one morning and head for the Denny's. They were raised that way, by others and themselves. Adventure is the antidote to becoming set in your ways.

If I know my astro physics (and I don't) my understanding of a black hole is a star collapses upon itself, once it's burned up most of itself, so what is left becomes so intensely compacted nothing can get out, not even light. And there we have the comfort zone. As humans age, their comfort zones become smaller and more intensely compacted. You don't want to be like that, do you David?

You want to make yourself intensely uncomfortable with new experiences. But how to do this David, in current circumstances? You've been trained in a consumer culture, thinking adventure costs money, which you don't have a lot to spare of here lately. This is very interesting. If you abandon adventure, it means adventure is the province of those with disposable income. Do we beleive that David? No, and HELL no we don't.

The next adventure will cost very little in terms of money and will make me intensely uncomfortable. I'm going to visit a Mosque for Friday worship. Big project, lots of risk. I might get told by several Imans over the phone, I can go suck an egg. But I bet I can find spirit kin among the Imans, somewhere. I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna be a Mosqueteer.

I'm not going to become an old man afraid of his own shadow. The old man I become is largely up to me. I choose adventure.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reality of Grace

I was there, but she tied the apron behind her back with an amazing facility and started chattering to her co-worker as if I didn't exist. Maybe I don't exist. That would explain a lot of things!

"Wasn't gonna be late, but my foster baby, that little rascal he just peed all over me, just as we were fixing to leave, and I had to find something else to wear."

"How long are you going to have him, and who takes care of him while you're here?"

"This retired grandmother I go to Church with, she's bored, and she cares for him while I'm at work. I might have him a few more weeks, or months, while the adoption papers are getting processed."

"Who gave him his name, anyway?"

"Well the momma. She's real young I think. The adopting parents will change it I guess."

"Why are you taking care of the baby? You'll have to give him up, won't it be hard?"

"I don't know. Poor little baby shouldn't ever have a day in his life when he feels like he never had a momma to pee on I guess." And she laughed, honest and endearing, and the conversation changed to some other topic.

Maybe this woman believes that in some way, we remember everything, though we don't know we remember it. Maybe she believes that in some strange way, this baby will grow to be a man, somehow understanding there was never a day he breathed air, when he didn't have a momma, albeit surrogates, fussing over him, and he will be a little bit better man for that submerged memory.

There are far worse things to believe.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Empty grave day

OK, if we're all done navel gazing for a while, how does the holiest day in Christendom look to an atheist? Like one of the really sour ones I mean.

So I'm a militant atheist, driving around town just before Easter. I'm all white knuckled on the steering wheel, which is not unusual cause I'm always mad about something. "Look at those idiots and their fairy tales. Don't they know how much blood has been shed over centuries for such nonsense? Don't they see the world would be a better place without religion?" Maybe Mr. militant atheist would be thinking that.

Yeah, John Lennon song. I really liked it before I understood what it meant. The old standby, that religion is to blame for all the world's ills. Must be comforting to those who have little else. While the existence of God can't be empirically proved or disproved, this garbage about religion causing violence won't stand a few glances at recorded history.

Who was Alexander trying to convert? The answer is nobody. He wanted to kill people and take their stuff. Humans don't require any theology at all to pillage a village. Oh sure, trot 'em out now. Crusades, the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials. Even if one swallows that an atheist world would have no interest in conquest and opression of others, these historical events represent only a tiny fraction of organized murder throughout history. Granted that'd be little comfort to a person being burned alive of course. But if we throw militant atheism a bone and allow that Crusades, Inquisition and witch trials wouldn't have occured in an atheist world, it prevents far less than one percent of all organized murder.

It's curious that militant atheism continues to point to stuff like the Inquisition as a means of damning all organized religion, and they never get the punch line to their own joke. Well, they're generally a fairly humorless lot I guess. See, if there is no God, what does it matter if humans get slaughtered? We have no intrinsic value, we're just complex organisms so who cares?

Oh they see the underlying illogic, some of them are pretty sharp cookies. Their protestations about sectarian carnage are an attempt to invalidate faith as a force in the lives of others. Something compels them to attempt to steal from other hearts a thing which they themselves can't use.

Well keep it up lads, if it gives you some semblance of comfort in your joyless existences. The whole Roman Empire couldn't destroy Christianity, it's all gone and the grave is still empty.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mister Jerry

I'm entering that time of life where the pace of funeral attendance will increase. I consider it dress rehearsal so I'll do a good job when I go to my own. The services are always slightly different and always about the same around here.

I didn't know Ms. Irene, but I sure know her husband. In some ways my life looks like a bad hairpiece on a windy day, but it never fails to take my breath when I consider how fortunate I am in the people I've known.

Mr. Jerry is illiterate, missing quite a few teeth, and he didn't even have a suit to wear to his wife's funeral. But I'm so very grateful to know him. If that old man has any stuffing left in him after I got done hugging him, well it ain't my fault.

He's one of those precious people who has lived a hard life without becoming a hard heart. I think there probably used to be a lot more like him around, people who accepted that life is hard at times, so go on ahead, work hard, try to make the best of it. In the six years he worked for me, I never once heard him complain about anything. Anybody who doesn't think that qualifies him as a rare individual alone, probably hasn't spent much time around maintenance mechanics. I have heard Jerry say, about a hundred dozen times, "Mr. David, I thank you so much for letting me work for you, I really appreciate it."

And now he's lost his precious Irene, and I'm not around to watch his back anymore. But it'll be OK really. There's something endearing about Mr. Jerry. While I know well there are those who see him as just a drone and a dumb one, there are still some good men around Jerry, they'll be there for him.

Life can seem like one karmic pop quiz after another at times, until it takes on a surreal quality, but death is pretty real. Eventually you learn there's nothing you can say to comfort, so you just show up and be there for the grieving. When Mr. Jerry introduced me to his family with, "This is my friend Mr. David" that felt pretty real too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

You're stupid David

Let's recap, shall we? You will spend three days changing the starter on a Mustang that didn't actually need changing, and take pride in that. You will jump from airplanes, manage to see good in those whom the most advanced electron microscopes couldn't identify as having redeeming traits. You have actually been in a canoe on a river during a raging thunderstorm and enjoyed it. You enjoyed the privacy, since there were no other people on the river. Know why there weren't any other people on the river Dave? Because most people are not generally speaking, blithering idiots when it comes to life & limb issues.

But your latest example of stupidity is an outrage beyond all others. You know what I'm talking about David. How can you be so ignorant about the Canadian justice system? What is wrong with you?

That guy, who was HIV positive (just when I think I've learned the English language, they change meanings on me, so positive isn't good, not good at ALL) infected two sex partners, and they died. He didn't warn them his semen was swarming with bugs, so he's convicted of first degree murder, two counts.

Meanwhile, a lad was recently convicted for second degree murder about that whole bus ride thing. He decapitated a total stranger, while all the other passengers exited the bus very quickly. Contained inside the bus by the driver's quick thinking, the killer could only run around and show the victim's head to the other passengers standing outside. See, that's second degree murder David. It's not like he actually dug out the organs of his victim and started chewing on them. Well, OK he did that too. But that's second degree murder David. When you decapitate and cannibalize a total stranger, that's second degree murder.

So what the HELL is wrong with you David? How come you can't get the Canadian legal system? Decapitating strangers is second degree murder. Having consensual sex with people and not warning them about your HIV stuff, that's first degree murder.

You're so stupid David!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Let's go Amish

Well y'know Dave? John Maynard Keynes wasn't just a disgusting libertine who could probably manage to get banned from a San Francisco gay pride parade for lewd conduct (no small feat). He was also a brilliant man, and the most influential economist of the 20th century.

In these times, which constantly, annoyingly, ignorantly get compared to the Great Depression, our country grasps for solutions, the tide is running Keynes.

People are scared. What would you do Dave? You got 15 minutes of live air on all the major networks. What would you tell your fellow Americans?

We should act more Amish. Last month, a woman was found dead in the rural South, only after her house was sold for unpaid taxes. She'd been dead for eighteen months. One thing we know immediately about this woman, is she wasn't Amish. We "English" as those folk call us? We got satellite TV, internet, cellphones, and fax machines implanted in our colons, (probably next year on that). We can talk to anybody in the world. But can we drive a mile and check on a neighbor? Nope, we can't do that.

When torandoes cut a swath across west TN, back around 2004, hitting nearly exclusively Mennonite greenhouses? Did anybody sit on their roof and holler for FEMA? Nope. Straw hats and sun bonnets seemed to materialize over night, from far away as Pennsylvania and Kansas. They threw in with vengeance, and clear understanding of a responsibility to care for their own.

Two of the most interesting questions in the Bible are, "Am I my brother's keeper?" and "Lord, who is my brother?" The Amish/Mennonites seem to get it right, within their narrow focus.

We can be better than what we've become America, that's all I'm saying. I know there was a time when neighbors looked out for each other. Will you think about it America, for God's sake? We don't need endless government programs, if we'll only shoulder a responsibility that is far less than the weight of the cross Christ carried.

Whenever you can, buy vegetables from roadside stands. Gives you the chance to interact with your neighbors. They grew that food, not some conglomerate with facilities in China. As your budget allows, buy some extra, knock on your neighbor's door. It won't kill you, you'll get used to it. Who don't like free food??? That's just the start. Put your minds to it. The best and worst thing about humans, is we have really fertile imaginations.

For all you atheists out there, your faith (and yeah, it is a kind of faith) seems a daunting thing to me, I can't imagine how you manage it really. Just do it cause it will reduce your carbon footprint, I guess, I suppose. Probably save an iceberg in Antarctica, if you'll do what I say and care for your neighbors. Is that true? Naw! But you've already demonstrated by your atheism a willingness to swallow anything, so go with me here?

I see my 15 minutes are up, and ABC has a wonderful show debuting tonight, where one may win free cosmetic surgery, if they're willing to eat more earthworms than the other contestants, and I know you're as excited about that as I am!

Ants ate my homework

I'm sorry I didn't complete my assigned paper on "Origin of the Species" Mrs. Fangelmeyer. I REALLY tried and would've too, except for ants liking Mountain Dew. See yesterday morning I accidentally left a half drunk (dranken?) soda on my bedroom window sill, and when I got home there was a long line of those little sugar ants going to it.

No ma'am, it's not an excuse. You taught us how ants live in colonies, and only the queen reproduces. It was very interesting. And you taught us Mr. Darwin figured out that individuals of each species obey a biological imperative to pass along their genes. And through random mutations, some of which improve the mutant's ability to reproduce, this becomes in time the dominant trait of the species. I just can't understand where the ants come in.

If Mr. Darwin is right, at some point individual ants stopped caring about passing along their traits, and started disobeying the biological imperative. How this could happen through mutation, I just don't understand. Were there once colonies where all the ants had babies? And then in this other colony, some mutation rendered all the millions in it suddenly sexless, except for one? And all the suddenly sexless ants also mutated at the same time to intensely desire to care for another ant's babies?

I just don't understand how such a mutation could take place spontaneously among millions of individuals. And I can't understand how such a mutation could take place gradually either, within a colony.

Did Mr. Darwin ever write a book called "Origin of the Ants"? Cause I'd really like to read that, it would be VERY cool!

Yes ma'am. I'll shut up and go to the Principal's office now.