Monday, January 31, 2011


It's Monday in Hooterville. Up in St. Louis, only 150 miles due north, they get 14 inches of snow tomorrow night. The only weather question here in my part of Tennessee is whether we get maybe less than inch of sleet/snow or massive thunderstorms. Notice how I used 'weather' and 'whether' in the same sentence?

That's called alliteration... or maybe a palindrome. All I know for sure is they shouldn't make HS students take English Comp. on hot days right after lunch. I'm getting sleepy just remembering about it!

So I went to the local vocational-rehab place today. I have a new product coming on line in March. The customer wants the product partially assembled before it hits his assembly line. Not much to it really. Form a plastic strap into a circle and start a 10-24 screw through the hole.

I go to vocational-rehab centers for that sort of job. Now is where we play perspective bingo... let's have fun!!!

Dude, instead of paying someone a decent wage to do that, you go to a place that employs retarded people! And the lower price they do the work for is subsidized by tax payers! BOO, HISS evil greedy business guy David!

Well I suppose that's one way of looking at it. When I explain my actions to anybody, is only because I'm fond of that person. It's me being gracious.

Considering all the enormously idiotic things our government spends tax payer dollars on, subsidizing steady work for retarded people is like the Apollo program in comparison.
Retarded people are like that for a variety of reasons. Not enough oxygen getting to their brains during birth. Mom had measles while pregnant. An extra chromosone. They're Americans too, and all of us came within a hair's thickness of being them.

Getting them out to a place where they can work, earn a wage, give their parents time to breathe and run errands, that's all good. I'm happy my tax dollars subsidize that. I'm happy to send them some work.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about; I was being gracious just then. What I want to know is why retarded people are more friendly than we 'normal' folk with our triple digit IQ's.

A man in his fifties with a walker next to his chair turned around and said, "I'm Andrew, I'm from Lexington. Who are you? Where are you from?"

A man in late thirties with Cerebral Palsy AND mentally retarded (how's that feeling sorry for yourself thing working out?) walked up, told me his name was James, told me he was glad to see me.

A young man walked up to me. Hair parted in the middle, soft blonde curls. He could've stepped out of a Rembrandt painting really. He smiled broadly at me, patted his chest and said, "Pat!"

I thought, 'well son, your parents sure did name you right, as it turned out' but what I sincerely said was, "Pat, I'm very glad to meet you. I'm David."

I could've been any of these people. You could've been any of these people.

Had my meeting with the center managers, then went back to my factory, where we all have triple digit IQ's. On my way out the door, James asked if I knew his Momma and Daddy. Told him I don't think so.

What I wonder about is why are retarded people friendlier than smart people?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where's my List?

I like to make lists of things to do, and then cross them off. It's very satisfying. I've even made lists of lists I need to make.

That's not obsessive/compulsive behavior. The way I am about worrying while at work did I turn off the coffee maker, now that's obsessive/compulsive.

Making a list of tasks to be done has about four rock solid benefits...

First, it's an aid in thinking about what's important. Act of making a list takes you briefly from the reactive to proactive mode.

Second, the list is often useful documentation for later. As in, 'yeah I turned off the coffee maker' for example.

Fourth, I'm not just really good at math, I know bunches of other stuff too. One of those is how we can trick our brains in our best interest. A lot of good things you should do, they may not yield immediate gratification in the realms of human endeavor. Your brain, aside from the many wonderful things it can do, is just another bodily organ. It runs on glandular secretions too. IF you can adopt a routine of crossing items off lists, you can get your brain to shoot you a little endorphin (AKA happy juice) so that's a good thing.

This is why I make lists. Lists are important to me. So... where's my list of people I pray for? I pray for LOTS of people.

Why hasn't my organized approach to daily life extended to my prayer life? Is it that I don't take prayer as seriously as I do engineering?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Ride's Here... Again

"he said Bravos you better ready to fight,
or we'll never get out of east Texas tonight"

Mr. Zevon (1947-2003)

Are you much of a risk taker? Well think about it, are you?
I'm not much of a gambler myself, not really. What's always looked daring to others seemed fairly mundane to me.

Only times I've ever taken a big chance was when I found myself in big trouble. Those times, you've got precious little left to lose either way the dice land.

Some would say my opting to leave the Batesville job for Lexington was a risk. The only real inherent risk there is whether I can be in Lexington every day without eventually choking somebody. I was driving 700 miles a week with the Batesville job. Really bad wrecks on that commute at least once a week.

The challenge with Lexington was whether I'd go there a petulant, resentful child or with the right spirit. I certainly wasn't scared about jumping into a totally foreign manufacturing technology.

That's because I've got a lot of talent. You do too, if you'd just stop and take inventory now & then. Every person has many amazing abilities. You shouldn't feel discouraged if your abilities don't appear to be very marketable. No matter how mediocre you think you are, you were provided all needed tools to build a joyful life. Learn to use YOUR tools, we're burning daylight here!

Me, I'm still sitting right beside you in God's big Shop class. Uhm... what's all this 'We can beat Notre Dame' junk got to do with taking risks? Well you see, it's like this. The top tray in my personal tool box? All hammers! Yep, no kidding!

A book about me would make intensely boring reading. At least 150 pages would be nothing but 'Bam bam! Bam bam bam!' But I lift up that top tray, there are other tools in the box. It could be more hammers, which would be TOTALLY AWESOME, but I suspect it's strange new tools. You can't pick up the new tool David, unless first you put down the hammer. That there friends is risk.

I believe in omens and spirit guides. The Tudor cottage was shown to me via odd circumstance. The owners are moving out of it this weekend, after having a 'For Sale' sign in the yard for 18+ months. They wish to move to Colorado and so they're going. I'm already renting an apartment. A lease/purchase opportunity is in front of me.

Hammer says houses aren't exactly selling fast in north Mississippi right now, wouldn't it be prudent to stay in a holding pattern for now?

Just about 100 percent of gambles I've ever done, they were forced on me by external conditions. I don't think I've ever run up to a risk and thrown my arms around it. Maybe it's time for me to experience that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Learn Shoe Repair at Home

Yeah, when anybody wins some $100M lottery prize, it spawns some wishful thinking and downright envy in the population at large.

Now why so many of us are even at large, I have no idea. Probably has to do with that whole 'deinstitutionalization' movement back in the late 1970's. Deinstitutionalization is a VERY fun word to type though...

When non-lottery winners are daydreaming about owning castles and such? There's one aspect of material wealth they probably fail to consider. $100M means you never again have to do anything you find uncomfortable.

You'll never again have to speak with someone you don't like. You'll never have to go anywhere you don't want to go. You don't even have to floss your own teeth.

Well congratulations! Because in that aspect of obscene material wealth, you've arrived, in spirit at least. We're all of us already avoiding things we find uncomfortable, every chance we get.

Some things that make us uncomfortable, there's a darned good reason they should. I'm not talking about that kind of thing. I'm talking about learning shoe repair at home!!!

Has oft been said, You never understand a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. Let's attribute that to Abe Lincoln. What the heck, he always gets the folksy platitudes laid to his legacy, right?

Well, I think shoe swapping is questionable from a hygeine perspective, unless you know the person really well. If you already know him well, no point in the whole mile walking experiment anyway. Why not walk a mile in YOUR shoes instead?

What makes you uncomfortable, and why? Naw, it's not a trick question! I realize that many things where a sense of unease attends, these things happen real quick in dynamic situations.

You know it darned well when you're experiencing it, but it's not the sort of situation lends itself to your calmly taking notes.

But there are some recurring themes, if you'll think about it. These are your shoes you're wearing, so why don't you go nuts and walk a mile in them and really understand you?

Maybe your shoes are just dandy, but mine are rundown at the heels and the laces keep coming untied. So here's some of what makes me uncomfortable. You make your own list, send it to me if you wish.

I'm uncomfortable around retarded people. Nope, that's not lead in for a lame self-deprecating joke. I really am intensely uncomfortable around retarded people.
Reason for that is likely cause my identity is so wrapped up with my alleged intellectual powers.

I'm uncomfortable when I walk up to any soldier or veteran and say 'Thank you for my freedom.' Used to say 'Thank you for your service' which didn't bother me. But at length I came to decide? The tepid sterility of 21st century English won't be applied by me to those who've protected me. 'Thank you for your service' sounds like something you tell a waitress at Applebee's.

Most recent time I said 'Thank you for my freedom' was to a guy doddering around the grocery store wearing a "WW2 Veteran" ball cap. It made me uncomfortable. Reason for that I think? 'Thanks for your service' is impersonal. Served this great nation, Mom's Apple Pie, etc. while 'Thank you for my freedom' expresses MY need, MY dependence on another.

But after you know, after you come to realize mealy-mouthed platitudes don't pass the Sullivan Ballou test for expressing gratitude to our soldiers, it makes you LESS comfortable to mumble 'Thanks for your service.'

And I guess that's what I'm getting at. Sure did take me a lot of words, huh? If you'll think, really think about some recurring things that make you uncomfortable, maybe you'll decide you don't want to be the sort of person who avoids that brand of discomfort. And by doing that, some metaphysical transmutation occurs where your shoes are repaired; it's lots more comfortable walking around in them. You might try it? Crazier plans have succeeded.

Deinstitutionalization, Deinstitutionalization, Deinstitutionalization, Deinstitutionalization... I LOVE typing that word!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Oh Prometheus!

Thinking you are totally in charge of your life's direction is like being the optimistic deckhand on the Titanic.

On the one hand, your delusion isn't going to influence outcomes much. On the other hand though? If it makes you happy to think you're in control right up to the minute you learn you're not, what the heck!

It doesn't really matter whether your last words are "I think I see the Carpathia coming!" or "Damned Iceberg."

My question though? In the words of Paul Simon, you 'lived so well so long' with supreme confidence in your ability to choose your battles, so...

What kind of person are you going to be now you know, well... you're pretty good at doing complex math problems. How will it change you to learn that somewhere in that huge quadratic equation you've always believed describes your life, you've got a math term transposed?

It's not a math term at all really. I was just trying to be nice. It's a Hopi pictograph; a turtle on a fence post.

1. The turtle didn't get up on that fence post all by itself. (Even if the turtle thinks he did.)
2. The turtle's next move, without the beneficent intervention of some external force, likely isn't going to be pleasant.

That beautiful quadratic equation you worked so hard to perfect, and it's got a dang Hopi pictograph slap in the middle of it!

If someone showed that to you, what kind of person would you be after that?

Well I don't know either, all right? Just cause I have a blog doesn't make me some sort of Nostradumbass!

I would kinda suspect finding a Hopi pictograph in the midst of one's beautifully formulated, uhm... formula, would negatively influence the output of declarative sentences in the future.

You can't do everything, so let it be. But don't turn jackass of another color on me, and comfort yourself that you can't do anything. You can do lots of really cool stuff.

Like me for instance? For one thing, when it gets cold in this apartment, I go upstairs, look and see if a little red light is blinking. If it is, I unplug the heating unit and then plug it back in. Now I ask you, isn't that cool?

Well it sure is cool in here when that red light is blinking, I'll tell you that. But wait, there's even more!

Thursday I'm driving to St. Louis to look at a mold! That's not all I do though, I do other stuff! Last night I cooked spaghetti... it was bloody inedible! I ate two plates of it just to be certain.

And I'm being dragged kicking & screaming to speak out on child hunger. I sure don't want to. People will think I'm an annoying jerk (psst... they already do already David) which would be fine if I felt confident I'm getting through to people, which I don't think I am.

But I just have a burden in my heart for child hunger, and the only thing makes it go away is when I'm doing something about it.

So I'm doing some cool stuff. What cool stuff are you doing?

I'm going to have to figure out a way to manage with this Hopi pictograph in the middle of my otherwise beautiful quadratic equation. I've tried erasing it, just comes back. And now the turtle is grinning at me! I didn't know turtles could do that, did you?