Monday, November 28, 2011

Freedom is hunting, feeding, danger;
that, that is freedom—that it is which makes
the veins to swell, the breast to heave and glow
Aye, that is freedom,—that is pleasure—life!
Marie Lovell
   
Do your children view themselves as successes or failures? Are they being encouraged to be inquisitive or passive? Are they afraid to challenge authority and to question assumptions? Do they feel comfortable adapting to change? Are they easily discouraged if they cannot arrive at a solution to a problem? The answers to those questions will give you a better appraisal of their education than any list of courses, grades, or test scores.--Lawrence Kutner

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Norv, Vick, and Tebow



The National Football league is a strange place full of strange people and I’m not going to get started on the fans. There are NFL fans who make the Waffen SS look like wishy washy trembling wimps unable to dedicate for a cause. Were these people that fanatical about educating children in America we could have a man on Mars, hell, a University on Mars, before the next preseason started. But there is something about a distraction that features millionaires playing a kid’s game for billionaires, and the attraction is sometime that of a slow train wreck.
            So anyway, back in 2007, I opened up a can of beer and sat down to rant a little about Marty Schottenheimer, who was one of my all time favorite coaches getting sacked and replaced with Norv Turner, who  is loathsome.

Anyway, here’s the rant and by the way, I did my homework, the numbers are there. What’s a Norv?


And wouldn’t you know it? Just a short year later Mike Vick gets caught dog fighting and has to go directly to jail.

Want to see me tie the two together right quick like?

Norv’s team, the Chargers, after dropping a game to Tebow, as now  4-7. The Eagles, having run into that same Patriots team what can spit you up and chew you out, are also 4-7.

Tebow, having dropped the Charges to a position to be eliminated from the playoffs if a coin toss goes wrong, has won five games in a row. Mike Vick has won only three games all season long, the last Eagles win coming from a second stringer.

Tebow has won more games than Vick or Norv.


You have no idea how hysterically funny that is to me.

Take Care,
Mike

The Great Unhappy Cat in the Sky


The Walking Invisible


One of the things I miss most about drinking heavily is the accidental people I would meet when I went walking.  It was one of my most mad habits, something that drove the people who cared about me nuts, what few there were, and it was something I can’t explain to you at all, but once upon a time, I would get truly and honestly too drunk to stand up, and start walking.  That may not seem like a big deal but at four miles an hour, and I’ve always walked very fast, a person can be gone, totally gone, in a short while.  It didn’t matter where I was or what was going on, if I reached a certain point of inebriation I was going to walk.
            I’ve always been able to create a certain sense of invisibility. I can ease through crowds and no one see me at all. I can sit at a table with other people and they forget I am there if I do not speak. At parties I would listen to people talk about things I know they would have never told me in person had they known I was there, but I wasn’t. I was the ghost of someone living, and after a while I would simply walk away from it all anyway. There was a party in Dothan Alabama I walked away from and was completely lost for hours.
            I knew where some things in Dothan were, but not many, and not by foot. The party was at a house in a subdivision somewhere in the middle of town, and I wound up downtown where all the old buildings are, and I was fairly sure I didn’t need to be there. I tried to retrace my steps but everything looked the same in the dark, and on foot, but I could walk forever so it wasn’t a big deal to me. I stopped at a convenience store because they had a pinball machine and while I was playing this guy comes in and stares at me.
            “Hey, weren’t you at Bill’s party?” he asked me.
            “I guess, yeah, why?” I responded.
            “Hell, they’re looking all over for you, how in the hell did you get way over here?” he asked.
            “I walked.”

This guy lived on the other side of town and he and his friends were on their way out. The cops came and busted the party up and people had to leave. He gave me a ride back to where the party was and the people I had gone there with were pissed. I remember very little of the walk except at one point in time there was a German Shepherd dog that had come to greet me and we talked for a while. And I was kicking ass at pinball. I really liked pinball. I also remember one of the old buildings had a brick loose in it and I pulled the brick out. I wondered how many bricks had to be pulled out before the building would collapse like a stack of dominoes but wasn’t going to tempt fate with that. I also wondered how many years ago someone had built that building, and when that brick had been laid to rest there. The last person to touch that brick was the mason who laid it in place, perfectly, and it had stood there for likely a century before some drunk fifteen year old came and pulled it out. I thought about taking the brick with me but that would be hard to explain to the cops and sooner or later, one thing I had learned, is the cops will stop and talk to anyone who is a stranger and walking.
            Years later, a decade in fact, I went walking again one night, and this time the party was at my apartment but I wasn’t willing to sit still for that either. I had to get out and walk around for a while, and I had planned to walk down to the college and then walk back again, just to clear my head. There was a store on the way back and as I picked up a case of beer a very young woman stopped me and asked me if I was Mike and if I would walk her home. She was also one of the invisible, a much younger sibling of a friend, and even though she lived just a block away from the store, some weird guy had followed her in and she had been trapped there for about an hour talking to the clerk. Women can’t walk the way I have in my life, and get away with it. Hell, this girl walked a block and someone was already picking up on the fact she was alone.  I walked her home, offered her a beer and instantly regretted it. But she told me she was sixteen, and that was far too young to be drinking.  She asked me to stay, just in case the weird guy had followed us, and I realized she was afraid of me, but because she knew me by sight, it was better than the weird guy. That’s something else men don’t have to deal with. So I sat and drank beer and she told me she was staying with her brother for the summer because she was sick to death of living with her parents but couldn’t get a job to move out. She had epilepsy and even though she was taking meds for it and it was under control, her parents treated her as if she were dying, or would die, if she did the wrong thing at the wrong moment. No swimming, no movies, no driving alone, and it was beginning to wear her down. It pissed her off to finally get to go somewhere she was independent and one of the first things she had to do was get an escort to walk her home from a block away. She was a poet, liked dogs, and told me that I wasn’t as scary in person as she had heard. She told me she had one date in her entire life, and just wished that no one knew who she was, so she could be who she wanted to be. She had lived in the shadow of her older and successful brother and lived with her disorder, and hadn’t quite yet lived. There was a pause in the conversation and she asked me for a beer, and I told her it was a bad idea, to drink while she was thinking the way she was, and she agreed with me. I hefted the case on my shoulder, told her to lock the doors behind me, and walked.

Take Care,
Mike



Anton Pavlovich Chekhov said “Just as I shall lie alone in the grave, so, in essence, do I live alone.”

Saturday, November 26, 2011



Anne Sexton  said, "I wonder if the artist ever lives his life — he is so busy recreating it. Only as I write do I realize myself. I don't know what that does to life."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bad Animals


Most people really do not want to know how many sharks there are near the beach when they go swimming, and they really don’t want to do the math. The math on how quick you can get out of the water versus how fast a shark can get to you is just like the math when you compare how quick you can get to where a Grizzly bear can’t get to you versus how fast it can, except with a shark you multiply that speed factor by ten, or divide your speed by ten, or you know what, just do both because it isn’t going to make a difference.  If sharks really wanted to attack human beings bite scars would be more common at the beach than HPV.
            I do not mess with sharks or bears. I do not go into the water where I can’t see my feet and I don’t go into the woods where there are bear warnings posted. If there is a Grizzly in the area code, I’ll call him long distance, directory assistance, area code 202. The Discovery Channel is full of great photos of bears and not once have I been mauled to death during Shark Week now that it comes up.  I’ll leave all the heavy lifting to the experts because if you’re on a television show talking about dangerous animals all you really have to do is outrun the camera man or the director, and who can’t do that?
            I was once an “expert” on Southern venomous snakes. I really didn’t know a whole lot but I could catch rattlesnakes barehanded. This meant I would grab the snake behind the head without pinning it. Yes, as a matter of fact, these were alcohol related incidents, why would you ask? I never got bit because I was very good, damn lucky, or only the good die young. I had more than a really good chance to be killed by an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and looking back, now I’m scared.
            There was a guy named Jim Cole who really liked Grizzly bears but they didn’t much like Jim. Cole died of natural causes back in 2010 and I didn’t find out until now. But had I been popped by a rattlesnake I think I would have stepped back, thought about what I was doing, and then done it differently. Cole got mauled twice by Grizzlies and I can’t help but think he was doing something wrong. Or he was just plain damn unlucky. The last attack cost him an eye and I was sorry to hear that but damn, man, step back from the really large predators. That’s why I stopped telling people I knew a lot about snakes. I knew enough about them to get in their way, and I am very lucky to still have ten fingers to type with.  Interfering with wildlife and living through it hardly makes anyone an expert.
            I thought the Crocodile Hunter was a moron of the First Order. To take a stingray barb in the heart was brutal but come on, man.
            In June of 2009 I was clearing some brush on the side of the pond with a bush hook and stepped backwards on something thick and squishy in a snake body kind of way. You know. You know when you’ve put full weight on a snake’s body if you’ve done it once then you know forever what it feels like. I stepped on a damn large Banded Water Snake while I was barefooted and nearly had a heart attack. I was carrying a ten foot long four by four and it went flying and I did too. But that was going forward. I was already going in the direction I wanted to be moving but to step backwards onto a large snake means you’ve got to reverse momentum. I knew when I put my shoe down on it what it was, or what it might be, and didn’t like that thought at all. A snake that size has got to be either a Diamondback or a Cottonmouth and pick your venom at that point. I rather it be a Cottonmouth because their venom is designed to kill cold blooded creatures but they tend to grab and hold on sometimes.  Honestly though, other than stepping on top of snake you aren’t likely to get bit, but damn, I just did.
            There was a second, maybe two or even three, when I knew I was screwed, totally screwed. Maybe it wasn’t a full second but it’s like ducking after you hear the gunshot. I made that full step forward and as soon as my left foot hit the ground again I knew I was okay. Not really okay, but fuckin superbly did you see that shit oh my god I am not not not bit okay. I had to pull my pants leg up and check. I’m wasn’t bit. Wow. No bite marks. I checked the other leg to make sure. The bush hook was there on the ground and there was the snake. Four feet plus of dark and mottled Cottonmouth, head feared back, mouth open, fangs gleaming, and I was just standing on top of it. Dude.
            I stepped on the tail of a smaller one back in 2010 but that wasn’t nearly as traumatic.  It was trying to get the hell away from me and it more or less slid under me trying to run away. I have a video of that snake somewhere.  But after backing onto a large one a year earlier, this didn’t rattle me as much.
            I didn’t kill either snake. I know this might sound to you a bit odd but I haven’t killed a venomous snake since 1979. I can’t do it. Clearly, they aren’t out to kill me or that snake in 2009 would have nailed me. I have no idea why it didn’t, except maybe it realized the whole damn mess was a mistake. That’s projecting I know, but I’m unbit.

I’m no expert, mind you, but I have managed to live in peace for a while now.

Take Care,
Mike

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jonathan Safran Foer said: "I'm grateful for anything that reminds me of what's possible in this life. Books can do that. Films can do that. Music can do that. School can do that. It's so easy to allow one day to simply follow into the next, but every once in a while we encounter something that shows us that anything is possible, that dramatic change is possible, that something new can be made, that laughter can be shared."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Thief With The Stupid Nickname


Okay, let me say up front here I do not want to be judgmental about anyone’s name. Short of changing your name, which I plan to do one day, you’re pretty much stuck with what someone else stuck on you. It’s like your parents have first strike capability to make up for all those sleepless night when all you can do is wail, perhaps about your name, or your nickname, but that won’t help. I’ve tried it. No, the vast majority of people have affixed to their identity a name that they might not have chosen for themselves in a million years.
            Some names were once popular but have fallen out of vogue. I really don’t understand why names get old, or become unused but they do. You don’t hear of very many girls named Ethyl anymore, or little boys named Bertrand. I have a dog named Bert, but you could name a dog anything you wanted and the dog wouldn’t mind at all. Of course, there was this poodle named Dexter and I wonder if he had been named Spike or Rover if things would have turned out better for him.
            So anyway, I had a friend who was dating a truly hot and appropriately named woman, He wanted me to go with them to the movies and tagging along was her less hot friend who had one of those names. Worse, she had been stuck with one of those nicknames people give their kids with no understanding it might just follow them into adulthood. Really now, do you want a guy to enter High School with a nickname like “Binky”?  Of course his real name wasn’t much better but I digress. Anyway, I got stuck with the woman whose name I couldn’t use without a weird hitch in my voice that said, “Your nickname is irritating but your real name is worse” but it was too late. We were both in our early twenties and there was no way to rename someone in a small town at that age.
            I’ve been renamed so I know what I’m talking about here. Believe it or not, “Mike” isn’t my real name. That is what my parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers at school, and everyone who has ever known me has called me. Except for that group of people who have always known me by the name of “Snakes” and that’s a long story in and of itself. When I transferred over from one side of the state to another I just told the new people my name was Mike, and Snakes was lost forever. Snakes isn’t a bad nickname but snakes have a bad reputation and some people react poorly to even the word being used so I dropped it.
            Drinking a lot of alcohol has lowered a lot of inhibitions and many a pair of blue jeans. The woman with the double name curse and I wound up in a cheap hotel room and it was very odd to have even shallow conversation with someone whose name you have difficulty using. Not to be graphic or anything like that, but there are certain phrases in that situation that you just can’t use if you aren’t comfortable with the woman’s name.  We may have just discovered why people use names like “Baby” and “Darling” when they speak to loved ones. Perhaps it is possible to love someone and not like their name at all. It’s like not liking an eye color or a shape of a nose. Man, you’re stuck with that thing unless you do something drastic.
            I wore a necklace at that Saint Christopher pedant at that point in my life, a gift from my sister, and as we were getting ready to leave the next morning it was gone. Now, I remember taking it off because it kept getting in the way, and I remembered putting it into the ashtray on the tiny table next to the bed.  I came out of the bathroom and looked for it and it was gone. “I didn’t take it” was the first words out of her mouth so I pretty much knew she had.  I think she thought if she admitted she had it I might leave her there, and finally I told her if she didn’t give it back I was going to leave her, but she started crying and no man has a defense against that.
            On the upside, me accusing her of stealing from me during a one night stand pretty much  put a bullet in the double date outings, but it made for some very awkward social situations. I was fairly vocal about what I thought had happened, and she was petulant about her side of the story. Fate intervened when she found a new boyfriend and he moved in with her.  She was living in an apartment in someone’s attic and this guy wandered in from another state, a cousin of a friend, and they were an instant pair. Of course, he was more or less homeless at the time, didn’t have a job, and bummed cigarettes off of everyone, but he did have a great name.
            She came up pregnant, he left town like he was afire, and she started telling everyone he left because I was the real father of the baby. She even went so far as to threaten to go to my father and tell him the baby was mine, but in the end she had to confess to being a liar as well as a thief.
            I can’t remember what she named the kid, but it was a nice simple name, and I do remember she went down to Florida looking for the baby’s father and wound up standing on a doorstep for a couple of hours trying to get in. I’m not sure what happened after all of that, but I did remember thinking she needed supernatural protection a lot more than I did and in the end, had worse name problems than I.

Take Care,
Mike

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Occupy Your Thin Blue Line


What needs to happen, what should have already happened by now, and what has to happen if we don’t want things to start slipping out of control, is the local police departments who have to face down the Occupy Protesters are going to have to start doing a little soul searching.  This is a point of law and order, not how much it’s costing.  We here in America have a constitution which guarantees citizens the right to freely assemble. The right to protest peacefully shall be protected because if it is not then there will not be any more peaceful protests.  If you think we’re a world away from Syria and Egypt just remember this time last year so were they.
            I am a really big fan of the Constitution.  I am a big fan of local law enforcement personnel and it grips my ass that some moron like John Pike is being presented as the poster child of police right now, and that is just plain wrong. Pike is an aberration. Pike is something that never should have happened, but he did. Pike is going to lose his job and he clearly had already lost his mind, but that doesn’t represent your basic local policeman who by now is just about fed up with all of this, I’m betting. But the cops have got to, got to, understand which side of the line they stand. These are peaceful people exercising their right to protest a world in which if things continue on the way they are, the cops are going to have a whole lot more trouble than campers chanting about the 99%.
            As the economy worsens, the same people who broke it got the taxpayers to bail them out, and they did this by buying congressmen.  The congressmen got some of the money they were handing out but Wall Street screwed Main Street and as far as I can tell, the government that we’re paying to represent us is actually fronting for the people who they gave our money to in the first place. Now that all of the money is gone we’re supposed to start slashing services of all kinds, totally gutting the education system to fix it ,which yes, I do understand I have been advocating just that, but not as a last ditch desperation measure to save money.
            Meanwhile, BP who spilled a bunch of oil certainly, made record multibillion dollar profits and scolded the press about reporting the oil companies get five billion dollars worth of tax credits each year. General Electric paid no taxes one year.  If you have enough money to get the tax laws changed in your favor you have it made. Otherwise you’re footing the bill, and that my friends, is what Occupy is all about, as far as I can tell.
            So the cops face a very interesting problem. The next generation of Americans will be less educated, less well cared for, less healthy, poorer, live in worse environmental conditions, and have fewer intellectual resources from which to offer their children to rise above the present situation. The cops can become the SA of the people who caused the problems we now face, or they cops can just kick back and let the constitutional rights of free assembly begin to worry those in power to the point they release the John Pikes. If you think this is all very much impossible I suggest you ask the former leaders of both Egypt and Libya what they think of suppressing peaceful protestors by force. At least one of those conversations is going to require a Ouija Board or some asbestos covered microphones.
          
 In my lifetime, local law enforcement has always proven themselves to be protectors of the law and the very heart and soul of everything the Constitution stands far. Now, in this time of need, they can rise to be who we really need for them to be, yet again.

Take Much Care,
Mike

The Dream Of The Dead Mouse


I had this weird dream last night where I was a kid again and I very rarely have dreams like that. There was a tiny grey mouse, the domesticated species, in a cage with other mice and I thought it was dead, but it moved around a bit so I knew it was still living. I was running around the house singing this song that I was making up as I went along and the theme of the song was my father ought not to beat me for making bad grades but help me make better grades instead. My life has some sharp dividing points in it, and when I was eight years old I think my father stopped believing I could be the son he wanted me to be. It’s like ordering something with nine months of cereal box tops and when it gets there what you have isn’t at all what it appeared to be on the Raisin Bran cover. Life is like that, you know. You see something you want and then once you get it then everything changes from what you thought it was going to be versus reality. But in my father’s case I think he felt like he got truly screwed in the son lottery because everyone else had a son that was so much better. I was a tiny sickly thing, much smaller than the other sons. I wasn’t very good at sports because of a brain injury when I was eighteen months old. I inherited all the bad stuff like seasonal allergies and allergies to insect stings, but nothing good at all. My father gave it eight years and then realized there wasn’t a return policy.
            In the dream I was in the house my father lives now, and I was much younger than when we moved there. I have always hated that house, and I always will. I call it The Divorce House because that was we were living when my parents divorced. That was the first real and sharp divide in my life, and no matter how badly you want it to be different or how hard to try for it to be different, divorce is more or less an emotional train wreck where no one gets out without some scarring. Just the sheer noise of it is enough to create trauma. Worse, there’s a cultural expectation, or there was, of heavy drinking.
            Back in the day, children were shielded from the heavy stuff like death and divorce as much as they were from sexuality and reality. We were raised in a Disney world of singing animals and Mother Goose and all the while expected to deal with a life that involved betrayal and sickness. People died. People walked away from one another. And to let all of this slowly unfold while pretending nothing is wrong is like telling the passengers on the Titanic they should be happy because there isn’t going to be a shortage of ice after all. The thin veil of comfort given my once or twice a month visits to church, that place where everyone is leaning towards the door after thirty minutes, was like the stories of Santa Claus who never really had enough room in the bag for a real rocket or a pony. Reality blindsided children, just as it does adults. My father couldn’t fix his son, and then he couldn’t fix his marriage. But this isn’t his fault. No one can fix other people but you can stop thinking of them as being broken.
            The mouse in the dream died. I knew it was my fault. I didn’t feed it enough, or it didn’t have enough water, even though the rest of the mice in the cage did.  I was still a kid, and I took the mouse and hid it under the cedar shavings in the cage. It would begin to smell after a few days, and I knew it, but I bought myself some time to keep from getting into deeper trouble. I raced through the house singing the Help Song but the house was empty. I remember that house always being cold and dark.
            I raced around the house at a speed corporeal beings do not master. I was a spirit, a ghost of a little kid, a haunting in motion, and I went through the hallways and the doorways like a cold pale breeze. All of the clutter and chaos of that house was remembered, relived, and revisited and certain books stand out as markers in the backroads of recollection. World War Two history books, United States legend and lore books, the ancient encyclopedias that were always shelved mis-numbered or de-alphabetized, and the nick-knacks my grandmother collected, the ceramic birds and the jug from Mexico, it was all there just as it was in the early seventies, and just as it will be again if I ever come down with Alzheimer’s.
            The mouse was dead and I hid the body. There was no one else in the house even though I could hear voices and feel the floor vibrate with footfall. I could smell the house; the fried food smell, the smell of elderly dogs, the smell of rot in the old walls and floor, and the smell of despair. There was the sound of a phone ringing, but it was a cell phone sound, decades before the first cell sounded. I looked down at the phone but it was gone. The tone broadcast again, some generic comes- with- the- phone tone used by people with no imagination for music. Again, I looked down at the spot where the phone should have been, the heavy black rotary monster that was used as a murder weapon in more than a few movies. The idea of killing with a phone now is absurd, unless you can get someone to choke to death on it, and I’ve wished that on more than a few people. I woke up to silence. There was no phone call bleeding into the dream. There was no light in the room. There was no dead mouse. Just the memory of a place in my past I can never call home.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mulch and Mike, Fireants and Firesmith


A couple of months ago I decided to start keeping up with my waste paper at work and to start bringing it home to be mulched. The office as a whole gets a newspaper every day so I decided to toss those into the pile once a week or so too. I have a shredder at work so I figured there would be a spike in the amount of paper I was trying to compost but I had no idea how big of a spike that would be until the weather cooled off some.
            In the Summer when the triple digit heat lasts for more than twelve hours a day it isn’t hard to keep up with the mulch pile at all. Paper products dissolve into mush quite quickly and because the fireants have moved into the mulch pile they tear things up with their usual terroristic abandon. But I got busy towards the later part of the Summer, which in Georgia is late September, and I just started digging a hole in the pile, dumping in whatever I had to compost, and covering it back up again. I didn’t take the time to turn the pile like it needs, or to water it down on occasion, so when I went out there today it was a mess. That’s an apt description at any rate for a pile of waste paper and leaves but that’s beside the point.
            Anyway, I decided to expand the operation because the pile was getting tall. I had some extra fencing and made the mulch area half again as large as it was. Then I began the real labor. For this to work properly I have to take a pitchfork and dig around and rearrange the various parts of the pile so the fresh stuff gets buried, the old stuff gets some air, and all of it gets mixed together. When I started this morning it was like an archeological dig of the last four months of my life or so. Oh look! There are some egg shells! And there are some paper towels! And there’s newspaper! And there is… Wait, it’s all the same. Hmmmm. No excitement here, folks, please move on. No one ever said saving the environment would be suspenseful, okay? But there was a lot of stuff that had gotten buried deep and so it was preserved, more or less. I had tossed in a small pile of newspapers and they had turned into a solid mass of slimy paper. There was a rich vein of leaves from last year that were still dry. But there were also all manner of critters in there. Thick rolling legged centipedes slowly got out of my way, earthworms snaked around me, beetles of various degrees scurried about, and there is a colony of termites who like the cardboard boxes and the newspaper. There are spiders of all kinds in the pile and I have watched the toads rush in when I water the pile to pick off the insects that come to the surface to get away from the water. When I turn the pile in warm weather the toads are always there, waiting to see what treasure I will unearth for them. They love the termites, and will sit there and pick them off as quickly as I can unearth them.
             There’s also some education here; those paper cartons that soy milk comes in are not actually paper but paper wrapped in plastic. I stopped composting them a while back but I can still find the plastic wrapping of those cartons from the past. I also find packing tape that has survived where cardboard boxes have totally disappeared. It’s amazing how a very large cardboard box can simply vanish into the dirt leaving long strips of tape holding nothing together anymore. Believe it or not, blue jeans take forever to decompose. There are two pairs of old jeans in the pile and they’ve both been in there for nearly a year now. They’re in rough shape but you can still tell they were once jeans. I see now why mobsters strip their victims before they bury the bodies. There are a couple of tee shirts in there but I think they’re gone already.
            I hit a vein of rich black dirt and it’s like finding gold. This is what my garden will be made of when Spring arrives. This will grow tomatoes and peppers. This is dirt the way it is supposed to be, all dark and full of things organic. I take some of the newspaper and wet it down, pile black dirt on it, wet it down, put more paper on it, put more dirt in between, and then the last part will be when I rake up some leaves and cover the entire pile again. All of this is going on while I’m pitchforking the pile over to the new area, and all the while I am being eaten alive by fireants. Fireants are tiny but mighty stinging creatures who hate all living things. They attack en masse and there is no escape. I hose them down to slow them down, but I keep getting stung. I have to get the pile turned and rearranged into the new area. It was like Green Acres meets some cheap B grade movie where the monsters are actually fireants. Pitchfork for a while, pull fireants off of me for a while, pitchfork for a while, and curse fireants all the while, that was how the morning went, yes.
            There is something fundamental about gardening, farming, or mulching. I am returning to the earth that which belongs there. In return, I am given black dirt suitable for more life, and if things were made right on this planet, I too would be buried in a pile such as this, and allowed to return. I would like that, in fact, if I knew that somewhere out there what remained of me was sitting underneath some tomato plant, or perhaps some peppers. I would nourish the next generation of mulchers and fireants haters, and life would be good.

Take Care,
Mike

Friday, November 18, 2011

The End Of Mike Vick


I made the remark, once upon a time, that I had been a fan of the game, not any particular team, for over forty years, and that’s why I have something to say about professional football, and the Atlanta Falcons for many years. Someone asked if I had watched sex for that long would that make me an expert, and honestly, unless you are intimately involved in the action you aren’t likely to understand what’s going on, but you will still know what goes where and why, and who is getting screwed. Hang on to that thought, it’ll come again.
The Arizona Cardinal were supposed to be the first of a stunning line of Vick-tims, with the now ready to make a run for the playoffs Eagles having manhandled the Cowboys in spectacular fashion.  Spectator that I am, I thought this was going to be an interesting game because of the Cardinals now injured, once an Eagle, Kevin Kolb, standing on the Arizona sidelines.  Surely, I thought, Eagles head coach Andy Reid, participant that he is, would know Kolb was not too happy about being traded away so that some ex-con dog fighting thug could have his job. Surely, I thought, Reid was good enough to make some changes that would neutralize Kolb’s knowledge. Surely, a half way decent quarterback would see it coming, right?
All throughout the game Kolb was screaming at the defense, “PASS!” “RUN!” “SCREEN! SCREEN!” and more often than not he was right. Once again, Vick was trying desperately to salvage a game the Eagles had been leading late, and this time, Kolb was barking at the defense like a Jack Russell terrier with a spoonful of meth in his espresso. The route got jumped, the pass was intercepted and just like most of the games he’s played this season, Vick sat in front of a camera and explained how the Dream Team just hadn’t awoken quite yet.
Onlooker that I might be, I saw that coming. Did Andy Reid not see that coming? Did all the coach’s men and all the coach’s assistants not know Kevin Kolb would be stalking the sidelines screaming like Lady Gaga on a bad hair day? Why not change things up a bit, rearrange a few plays, get Vick to audible out of whatever Kolb was sending in? The truth of the matter is Reid and Kolb know what I already knew; Vick is no more than a stupid thug. If you can make Vick think you can make Vick blink. If he has to do more than just perform physically he’s as useful as a condom with buckshot holes in it. Reid rolled the dice Sunday, hoping that his defense could contain the offensively weak Cardinals, and Vick wouldn’t self-destruct to the point of defeat. The man Reid traded away in favor of a dog fighting ex-con with a pot habit and a twitchy interception arm brought it all down in flames. What else Kolb was screaming, I have no idea, but the man would make a great coach, huh Andy?
Now, Reid tells us that Vick got hurt. Now he’s saying Vick played hurt and that was what happened. Reid is lying. Reid knows that Vick isn’t hurt. Vick is freaked out. Vick is losing his mind and games and the season. Vick hasn’t the metal toughness to survive the New York Giants next Sunday.  They’re going to go after him with an axe, and Reid is blowing smoke to confuse New York coach Tom Coughlin as to who is going to behind center. This is the act of a man desperately seeking anything at all to go right. This is an act of a man who looks at the pot smoking ex con dog fighting sorry piece of poor excuse for a human and seeing him as I do.
The fans of football got screwed when they let this poor excuse for a human being back in uniform. The fans of the Eagles got screwed when Andy Reid got into his sons’ stash and decided to let Vick be the next big thing in Philly. The rest of the NFL got a gift if they know half as much as I do about playing defense. Make him think and you can make him blink. Do this, and Mike Vick is screwed.  
Now, I ask you to watch. Sit down and pull up a chair. Reid will send Vick in Sunday against a team that hates him nearly as much as I do. Reid will send him in to finish Vick off, the way dog fighters send in a wounded dog just to get rid of him. Now, Mike Vick will stare down karma and know how it feels to be sent in to die. They will cart him off the field and it will end.

I know what goes where and why. And I know Mike Vick is so totally screwed.

Take Care,
Mike

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Cardinal Sin Of Mike Vick


Call me a vulture.  Call me someone who takes pleasure off the misery of others. But call me whenever the Eagles lose, and Mike Vick is standing before a camera trying to explain why his “dream team” is going through another nightmarish loss. I wouldn’t watch Mike Vick play if he were playing against Satan and Hitler with Ted Bundy’s head being used as a football, you know, actually I would watch that, so nevermind. I don’t watch Vick play, and from the way they’ve been losing, no one else is watching him play very much either.
            I told you so. I told you this would be exactly who you would see out of Vick. He’s a great player sometimes and other times he’s really not.  He’s inconsistent and he’s a thug.  He’s an ex con who needs to be back in jail with the rest of his dog fighting ilk. The Eagles got excited as all hell, put a lot of money on a one trick pony and now halfway through the season they’re dangerously close to having a losing season. They are 3-6. They lose three before they win six and they’re under five hundred for the season. I wonder where Vick will spend the off season, but I suspect there will be an implosion.
            You know, I have a theory. It’s a weird little theory, and I’m the only one nurturing it right now, but this baby is gaining weight. I like my theory.  It’s the Mike Firesmith Theory on Mike Vick’s Karma. It goes a lot like this:  There are a lot of people out there who are dog people. There are more dog people than there are football people. There are some football people who love their dogs more than they love football. There are some football players who love their dogs more than they love…Mike Vick. All in all, there is a lot of hate directed at one person and it’s justifiable. There is anger and loathing. There are people, like me, who don’t watch as much football anymore but cheer whenever the news comes that Vick has once again led his team to defeat. And it’s not just defeat, it’s late game implosion defeats.
But the Arizona Cardinals were supposed to be an easy game. They aren’t that good at all. They’ve only won three games all year and this was going to be one of those let’s-see-what-Vick-can-do games where he lights up the scoreboard and impresses. Instead we once again see Mike Vick throwing the ball away at the end of the game, to end the game. Gee, it’s déjà vu all over again.
            Is this karma? Is this the result of Mutt Nation’s cumulative hate focused on one person each Sunday for two hours finally wearing Vick down spiritually?  Listen to the crowd when they show the highlights of the lowlife; you hear barking, howling, and you hear hatred. Millions of dog lovers are parked on their sofas just waiting for that hit to take Vick’s knees out. We’ve already take out his ability to win, except against the Cowboys last week, and dog knows there are enough people out there who hate  Jerry Jones’ hair. No, wait, nevermind, I’m thinking of their ex-coach. Anyway, I think we have gotten into Vick’s head now, and I think we’ve gotten into his team mate’s heads, and I think we aren’t done, oh my gracious no we are not.
            I don’t have some weird double standard. The day the story broke about Joe Paterno I was one of the first people to say he ought to be fired. Fire Joe Pa was what I wrote on Monday when he admitted he could have and should have done more to stop a pedophile. Moreover, I don’t think pedophiles, serial killers, the people who talk during movies, or dog fighters can be reformed or rehabilitated. That’s why I have no problem wishing bad things on these people. If someone took out Vick’s knees tomorrow morning I wouldn’t miss a moment of sleep, were it possible for me to sleep, over it.
            We don’t owe Vick, or Paterno, or any of these people an apology for going after them and hoping bad things happen to them. They owe us a higher standard for the power they have been give over people’s lives and they failed. They used their power to harm the innocent. They used their power to try to hide their crimes. And in the end, and most certainly that will come soon for a loser like Vick, no matter if we do feel some sense of happiness for his pain, we’ll still hold the higher moral ground.

Take Care,
Mike 

Within a Dream


I dreamed that I woke up, but I knew I had not awoken from the dream, but I had awoken from dreaming inside of the dream I was having. I was in a work truck, riding in the front seat and there were three other men with me. I was gasping for breath because as I awoke from the dream within the dream, I did not awaken from the dream, and that threw my body out of balance. I knew I was dreaming, but I also knew to reset my body properly, I had to stay in the dream until I caught my breath. The people with me; I knew there were from my distant past. I have not seen any of the three in over a decade. We were traveling down the road between Statenville and Valdosta but I knew we were traveling in the past.  The woods were rich and green with Oaks and hardwoods and there were many streams flowing wildly with small waterfalls and beaver dams. But I couldn’t breathe, and somehow, I knew if I woke up, I wouldn’t be able to breathe there either.
            Men will ignore injury or illness to the point of someone being seriously hurt or sick. We’re like that. Get used to it. In the dream no one noticed my choking or they pretended not to. We arrived at a store where there was another one of the men from work, but he is from the present. He was surrounded by a group of men, who didn’t like him, and one of them spit tobacco juice on him and some of it hit me. We went outside of the store and suddenly the men were not as aggressive and we were allowed to leave. There was a song being song by one of the men and it went like this, “West! Westward! Westward to my home! Westward! Westward I’ll never be alone!” I thought that an odd song for someone in The South to sing.
            We went to a small town but it had a street car system, and graffiti had been painted on every car, some of it very artistic. I was driving, the other men were not there anymore, and I pulled into the parking lot of a building where I work now, but there was someone living there. The woman who was living there is a woman I know from work in another area, and she was having a party of some sort, but had locked up the part of the house where the front door is, so we could not leave that way. There were a group of people marching in a circle in the front yard and I asked her why those people were there and she told me there were Christian protesters who were angry about the party.  I remember one of them was chanting, “We have received the spirit of Jesus Christ!” over and over again. The protesters were wearing long robes and sandals and all were carrying signs.
            I knew I was still dreaming, and now I knew I had to wake up but couldn’t. I was drinking in the dream and a young woman asked me if I had too much to drink and I told her I thought so, and then her head disappeared. She was still speaking, and the words made sense, but her head was gone. That happened to someone else who walked in the room and I knew I had to get out of there. I tried getting out of the front door but it was locked, and there was a couple having sex in the hallway. My hostess came to me and asked me to stay because my behavior certainly indicated I couldn’t drive. I told her I had to leave because I was hallucinating and she told me that was why I could not leave. She was with someone who wasn’t her husband that I know in real life, but a stranger. I thought this odd and she told me that was why the protesters were really there, because the man she was with was black. I managed to leave the house but discovered it wasn’t a house anymore but a hotel, and there was a large group of people having a party on the beach.
            The full moon was rising and I was trying to get a good shot at it. A man was juggling Indian clubs and one of the photos I took was a perfect picture of the man’s clubs in midair, right below the full moon juts rising above the horizon. I moved through the crowd trying to get a better shot and got one of a seagull in flight right in front of the moon. The crowd was cheering for some reason and I took pictures of the crowd and faces in the dark illuminated by torchlight and the moon. It was eerie.
            The crowd got louder and louder and some of them were jumping into the water and swimming, even though there were people screaming, “Shark!” and I wondered if there were sharks out there with all this noise, or if the noise might attract them. The wind began to blow very hard, and someone shouted something about the moon, and I looked up to find the wind was pushing it hard across the sky. It was going so fast I couldn’t get a clear shot at it with the camera, and I nearly fell over backwards. The sand was moving. The wind was blowing harder and harder and the people cheered each event. The sea suddenly lit up, as if the sun was at high noon, but the beach and the sky were still dark. I wanted to get a photo of the moon setting into the sea but as I approached the beach something incredibly large and dark came directly towards me, but it was under the water so I could not see it. I felt down and it pushed me and then it pushed again.

I woke up to find Bert poking me with his nose, trying to wake me up. Sam and Lucas were standing with him, tails high, ears up and I knew I had made some sort of weird noise in my sleep.

Take Care,
Mike

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Karma to Karma


It was a shock, of course, to walk in on someone shooting up, and the human mind is a weird thing. “Diabetes” my mind said but the number of diabetics who inject insulin into their arms are quite small, and they almost never have a kitchen spoon sitting in front of them at the time and a lit candle. At that time I was not emotionally connected to the person enough to get involved, but then she began dating a friend of mine, and I had to tell him his new girlfriend had an interesting habit, or he would find out the hard way. We all drank too much, far too much, and we all smoked too much pot, and some of us, not me in this case, did cocaine, but this was not the Sunday morning book reading club. We habitually drove drunk. It wasn’t as illegal then and you may find this difficult to believe but at least twice in my life I wrecked a car, was drunk, and the cops let me drive the wreck away from the scene. True that, I hit the right person at the right time in both cases, and there was the first wreck I was in where I hit someone and then walked back to the scene, and discovered I had been in a wreck. There was a phenomenal amount of alcohol involved in my life during the 1980’s. But I never shot up. This doesn’t make me a better person just one with fewer holes in my arm.
            I never sold pot to kids, but that doesn’t mean the pot that I sold didn’t wind up with kids. Once you get into the drug selling business you’re more or less committed to the idea that you won’t ever really give a damn what happens to customers or users or abusers. I sold speed for a while and as someone who used the drug I knew, really knew, how dangerous it was. Most of the people I sold to were truck drivers and it never occurred to me this was dangerous. Some of the people I sold to were buying enough to sell so they could cover their habit, and it never dawned on me to worry where my speed was heading. I believed, and I still do believe, illegal drugs are illegal not because of the harm they do but because drugs that are illegal are also big business. There is an incredible amount of money in selling drugs at any level. At some point, unless you’re just selling pot, you have to understand what you are selling is going to wind up somewhere it ought not to, and you are in some way still connected to your product.
            The legality of selling drugs is in no way associated the morality of providing a dangerous substance to other humans. This is an idea totally lost on our medical profession as a whole. It was lost on me as well, but I didn’t have a degree in medicine either. That’s a bit of a cop out, by the way, and I know it. I never sold hard drugs except for speed and once I quit doing speed I quit selling the stuff, and that’s a cop out too. You sell a gun to someone you know isn’t stable and you own that gun still. You sell speed to someone you know is going to take far too much of the stuff and even years later to still own that damage, even if it’s just karma. I sold to people I knew were heading down fast and what I sold them greased the skids. I sold to people I knew didn’t have the money they needed for other things, important things and I sold to people with kids. If I hadn’t someone else would have, but that is also a cop out. Among those here that is the worst yet, and the last, I hope.
            The legality of what I was doing, and what the people around me were doing, never bothered me and it still doesn’t. The law isn’t here to teach us what is moral. Religion pretty much fails too, but no one ever really notices that. Sooner or later, however, if you realize something is wrong you have to stop doing it, and you have to make things right if you can. You also have to know when you can’t make things right and you settle for making things different.
            There was no moment of epiphany for me. There was no flash bulb moment. There was a gradual evolution away from people who drank too much, people who used hard drugs, and people who would buy drugs before they would buy food for their kids. A friend of mine who still smoked a pack a day, still drank heavily, and who still smoked pot eased out of my life. I didn’t see her for a while, and I heard she married a guy with similar habits, and this is what this is all about when it gets right down to it, and it does. She pulled a double shift at the convenience store where she worked and was murdered for less money than it took to buy a quarter ounce of marijuana, if you bought the good stuff. She left two kids behind and a legacy of a future unfulfilled. For quite some time she and I passed jointed, popped pills, drank beer and we were close. Somewhere down the line as I pulled out of the dive I didn’t put as much effort to get the people I cared about to come with me as I did when I was headed down. We never sat down and talked about where we were going and how we were going to get there and for the price of a quarter of an ounce of pot she was killed and the guy who killed her went to jail for the rest of his life.
            The legality of what I have done in my life has never cost me a moment of sleep nor a day of my life. The karma that I have created, even in my distant past, still haunts me, and I suspect it will forever. Yet looking back I can honestly say I have never harmed a child, or through some inaction, allowed harm to befall a child, not knowingly.

When a former substance abuser can claim a higher moral ground than Joe Paterno, we need to reexamine who our heroes are, and why.  

Take Care,
Mike

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sam's Mouth and a Lesson Learned

Sam, Sam The Happy Hound. Ever else on the earth that might change, Sam is going to enjoy each meal with as much gusto as he did over ten years ago, when he was very nearly dead of starvation. Food is serious to Sam. Sam isn’t playing when it comes to food. Sam knows something the rest of us have long since forgotten; the source of food is finite and the time you can survive without it is likewise critically short. Those of us who at one point in life or another have gone a couple of days without food know what this feels like on a small scale. Sam has had it hammered into his soul with cruelty and abuse. Sam’s nose in a food bowl is Sam uninterrupted.
So this morning I noticed Sam wasn’t eating his food, and it was a can of the wet stuff mixed in with it, too. I watched him eat and he didn’t seem uninterested as much as he seemed unable. Peg and I put Katie down whenever she developed a tumor in her mouth. The real and cold fear of losing Sam quickly knotting my stomach and I reached for the cell, to call the vet.
But as I watched Sam I realized his mouth wasn’t closing completely. Why? I could need to know before I called the vet.
The idea of sticking my hand in Bert’s mouth is about the same sort of idea that leads people to hold firecrackers to see if they can let go at the last second. Bert isn’t going to be handled like that. Bert will put up a fight, and he is as serious about his personal space as Sam is about food. Bert is old, has some mobility issues and his days are not long on this earth, but if you want to put your hand in Bert’s mouth, oh yeah, he’s going to facilitate that, pretty definitely. Getting your hand back out is another matter. Getting it back un-mangled isn’t one of those fortune cookie things; a reddish brown part husky and part chow will gently disapprove your dental skills. I wouldn’t put my hand in Bert’s mouth unless he was sedated or decapitated.
Lucas is simply too strong. I do not think I could hold him down. He would just get up and walk off. Luke wouldn’t bite but he wouldn’t sit still for it either. He’s faster, stronger, and too massive to be sat on. I have this fear that one day Bert is going to cop an attitude with me and Lucas is going to take him down hard. All the dire predictions of this animal being stunted by the lack of food for the first six months of his life have gone unheeded by Lucas. This is the main battle tank of the household. Breaking into this home with Lucas here is to discover if you look good wearing grey. When he and I tussle I have to make sure whatever is behind me is soft enough to land on, and hard. Luke knows mass equals power when used with speed. At three years old, Luke is coming out of his puppyhood more slowly than the other two did, but he’s turning out to be a damn fine dog.
The closer I looked at Sam’s mouth the more I realized his mouth wasn’t closing all the way and even if he didn’t seem to be in pain, he didn’t act real happy about me holding his head still. I went to the tool box and got the tiny screw driver to use to poke around in Sam’s mouth and see what I could see. Bert’s snout is short, Lucas’ likewise has a rather short muzzle but Sam has a long nose. He has front teeth a kind of space with just a few teeth, and then his back teeth. There was something black wedged in his back teeth as I poked it I realized I was going to have to gold Sam down and take it out with a pair of pliers. Yes, tweezers would have worked very well but I don’t have any. Sam seemed to know I was trying to help but he didn’t like it. I was able to hold his mouth open long enough to grip the black thing and Hoe. Lee. Shit. A thin sliver of a chicken bone slid out of Sam’s mouth. It had wedged in, not penetrated, but it was jamming his mouth open, I thought. I petted him for a while, turned him loose with the other two dogs, and watched. It did occur to me that there might be more than one problem and I was right. Sam’s mouth did not close complete and he was salivating.
Sam knew what it meant when I coaxed him into the bedroom without the other two dogs, but he followed anyway. Sam is compliant. Whatever happened to him when he was a tiny puppy has given him every reason to believe there is one, and only one, human being alive he can trust. Sam loves everyone but Sam trusts me and me alone. I got his mouth open and on the other side was another dark object. I pinned Sam to the floor because he was getting too antsy, but Sam lay there and let me pry his mount open, dig around with the screwdriver until I got something I could grip with the pliers and I pulled.
Whatever was in there was jammed in hard and Sam revolted. He pulled his head back hard, and tried to paw me. I let him pull and I pulled and suddenly out popped this bone that looked like half a drumstick. It had been wedged in Sam’s mouth at an angle, like a bit, and wouldn’t let him close his mouth or eat easily. Unlike any other dog on earth, Sam gave to me and put his head on my leg to be petted after I got the bone out. Then it was time for a snack.
I mixed two raw eggs into Sam’s dry food and he devoured it with a passion. Tail going, ears flat, nom nom nom!

This is why giving your dog chicken bones is an incredibly bad idea.


Take Care,
Mike

Veteran's Day


The people who win wars write history or we would never celebrate Columbus Day. If history was written by what few natives who managed to survive the European invasion of what would become known as North, South, and Central America, it wouldn’t be as well received in the classroom as stories of intrepid explorers. The conflict between the European powers and the native people lasted until there were so few natives left that their languages and cultures had all but vanished. Their oral histories had all but been forgotten. Their way of life became a Hollywood movie set remembered quaintly, as if they were a people nearly uncivilized until we came to their rescue.  I doubt if they see it that way.  
            Had Hitler managed to take control of the Soviet Union and harness the vast wealth of resources and manpower the history of the humankind itself would have been rewritten. As terrible and impossible as it may seem in this day and age, I suspect the Jewish religion would have all but ceased to exist but as a shadow of what it is now. It would be looked back at in terms of an ancient people who were exterminated, perhaps it might be written they were wrongly exterminated, but that is history and we humans have a short memory when it comes to history.  I suspect as Hitler’s mental health continued to decline he would have killed not millions but tens of millions. But how would Hitler the Victorious be remembered by history in 2011 had he swept through Russia and used that conquered country to fuel the engines of war? Would his face grace currencies and would there be movies about his life and the glory of his triumphs? Would the people who wrote about the actions of the Third Reich gloss over the slaughter of innocents in the name of Manifest Destiny?
            History has shown itself to be incredibly kind to those who kill. The Vikings, the predecessors to the Russians, raided, raped, plundered, and took Europe hostage for hundreds of years yet today they are remembered as football mascots with horned helmets and furry clothing. We have Halloween costumes for various historical sets of people who made a good living through murder yet we recoil at the idea of there being a national holiday to celebrate the birth of Hitler, or had he taken over the world, Stalin. Our recent monsters are still monsters. Our past monsters, well, not so much.
            It is hard to imagine there being a lesser evil when speaking of Hitler and Stalin, but because Stalin came out on top he became that lesser evil. Hitler would have quickly made peace in Europe to fight the Soviets in 1945, and likely he would have still lost, but how would we view the history of that conflict had we been allies with Hitler? Can you remember who was in charge of Spain when the Incas were slaughtered? Is a leader of a country less evil as time goes on or do the members of the past get some sort of free past because they simply didn’t know any better, as we do now?
            Do we? Have we shown any sign of knowing better? Is Africa a safer place because the calendar reads 2011? Is the Middle East a safer place because today is 11-11-11? Is America, a country in two wars in two very different places, any wiser for the times we live in? Are there fewer guns, bullets, and bombs than there were in World War Two? Have we forsaken war for diplomacy because in this modern age we, as a species, are more enlightened then when Andrew Jackson drove the natives from their lands and walked many to death on the way to Oklahoma?
            All of what I have written in not so much a plea of pacifism as it is for reason. Many, many, many wars have been fought for all the wrong reasons, and some, like our adventure in Iraq, are fought for little or no reason at all. The war in Rwanda was fought over tribes invent out of whole cloth.  The War of Northern Aggression was a war fought blindly by many poor whites, who in victory, would have been poorer still. History, no matter who it is written by, is littered with evil, greed, and hatred being the engines of war regardless of how cool it looks to wear a helmet with horns on it.
            Yet when there is a Hitler, or a Stalin, or an attack on Pearl Harbor, there has to be an answer that is more than just words on paper or a really rousing speech in front of a microphone. When there are monsters they must be slain and words, however useful for enlistment purposes, fall away weak at the battlefront. Whenever there is evil it must be face with good. Evil cannot be faced without courage, honor, bravery, and it cannot be faced without sacrifice. This day is set aside to honor those, not who made war, or started war, or planned war, but to those who fought in the wars they were commissioned to fight.  In the early days after Pearl Harbor there were many who thought the Japanese unstoppable and nearly supernatural in their fighting abilities. In the early days of World War Two there were many who thought Hitler could not be halted.  Yet in America, men lined up to be suited with uniform and handed a rifle.  American men piloted ancient and decrepit planes in the early days of that war and they knew, truly knew, they were holding a thin line between victory and defeat. A nation that honors individual freedom can only exist through individual bravery and courage.  We saw this in the Revolutionary War. We saw it in the War Of 1812. We saw this in Korea. We saw it in Nam. We’ve seen this trait in those who wear the American uniform in each and every conflict that we have seen fit to send them into, regardless if the cause be just or political. Those who wear the American uniform have never wavered, never broken, and have never lost a military war, ever.

On this day, remember that when we back a war we send these men and women into harm’s way, to be killed perhaps, to kill, certainly, and they have always done more for us than we could ever do for them. By their blood I write this, by their blood you read it, by their blood can I do little more this day than to say in this way, Thank you.

Take Care,
Mike

Monday, November 7, 2011

It is time to fire Joe Paterno.


My ongoing war with the Catholic church is one that is very simple to explain; when they knew kids were being abused, and the word abused hardly begins to describe what was happening in nearly every country where there was a priest and a child alone together, the church did nothing. The pope did nothing. The bishops did nothing. They let things go the way things had always gone because that was the path of least resistance.
            I am a man without a religion for many reasons but when it gets right down to it I have discovered religion does not equal spirituality and it sure as hell doesn’t equal morality.  One of the things I have always believed in was football, until Mike Vick was convicted of dog fighting and then I realized it was not only a business but one without a soul. College football with its factories and payoffs seemed less tainted in some way but I am no virgin when it comes to being cynical. Yet Joe Paterno, the legendary coach of Penn State, stands accused of being told a child, a ten year old boy, was assaulted by one of his coaches. Paterno took the information to his supervisor and then …nothing happened. The abuse continued. More children were assaulted.
            The welfare of children has to, has to, has to, come before the hierarchy of a church.  It has to be more important than the position of anyone in the church. Those who harm must pay and those who ignore, or cover up, or refuse to act in defense of the children must be held accountable.
            Joe Pa has been coaching at Penn State for forty-six years. He has won more games than anyone else. He is more than just a man, he is a legend. He has more games, more bowl games, than anyone else alive or dead or anywhere in between. Yet can we, as a nation, as football fans, as advocates for children, and who, who among us can afford, morally, not to be an advocate for children,  can we afford not to demand this man be fired?
            Paterno had an obligation to do more to protect a child and protect children and he failed that obligation for reason even worse than those of a priest. Of all people, he alone was, and is, the most powerful man standing on that campus. No matter how many games he has one, he has lost the one thing that really matters, truly matters in this case. He has lost the trust of people with children, and he will never get it back.

It is time to fire Joe Paterno.

Tale Care,
Mike

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Falling Backwards


Daylight Savings Time is made entirely of the Satan. Its bones are of the fail. It is an evil, insidious, time sucking mind warping device whose time, no pun intended, has come and gone long before we invented cell phones to keep up with the time of day. Daylight Savings Time is crack mixed with rat poison, and disseminated throughout the land, except for Arizona, where it is legal to walk around carrying a phased plasma rifle in the forty watt range. It’s not their fault those people are armed to the teeth. They have no reason to trust the rest of the country who, twice a year, pretend time is malleable.
            Daylight Savings Time is a deadly time of the year for those of us who keep company with large dogs. They trust us to be the stable and comforting forces in their lives, and to keep order in the Universe. Last Friday, time to wake up was just like it has been for as long as dogs can remember, which isn’t really that long when it comes to such things, and let’s face it, why would they have any reason to think that time might change because it doesn’t really, does it? Can you imagine how humans would react if all of the dogs and cats suddenly decided it was time to get up an hour earlier or an hour later, or if the sun came up an hour later or an hour earlier? We would freak out. We would have our pets put to sleep. We would convert to odd religions, not that any religion isn’t odd in its own weird way, and we would drink heavily, which I think humans spend an inordinate time looking for excuses to do anyway. But for something like a time change not to be related to either bourbon or god is a sign that there is something distinctly unhuman about it, isn’t it?
            In the Grand Scheme of Things, does that one hour make up the difference that trying to adjust to it screws up? What benefit do we get from truly mucking up our internal clocks twice a year? I had a co-worker who twice a year had a built in excuse for showing up late. It didn’t matter if we were “springing forward” or “falling back” this person would show up an hour late with a free pass because let’s face it, messing with time is just about the most silly thing that will come up in a conversation when discussing why someone is late.
But what purpose does this serve? We are not gaining a moment more of sunlight versus darkness. It’s going to get dark when it gets dark. We can call it five in the afternoon, six in the evening, or we can call it Al. We can call it later or we can call it Worst Idea Ever, but the bottom line is we’re just treadmilling here. The sun isn’t going to set or rise any different just because we’ve screwed around with clocks. I’ve heard that people shop more in the daylight than in the dark. So what? You really think someone is going to get off of work in the dark and not buy toilet paper because they have to turn their lights on? Oh, gee, it’s dark, I’m going home instead of buying a battery for my pacemaker. Yeah, I see where that one hour might tank the economy.
So what’s this costing us and what might it cost us? We have to hope the computers that are running our lives do not become self-aware and decide that we’re just totally screwed up and half of them go Arizona on our mixed up asses and decide not to change the time while the other half decide that we deserve ourselves, and change. But you know that won’t happen because computers are logical and smart. Unlike the hairless apes that built them while pulling at the reins of the time clock to go home, in the light, to watch dancing with the real reality island talent. We can only hope that the computers will take care of the dogs once we paralyze ourselves with silliness.
Do you think the rest of the world views this as one of our American-We-Are-Too-Good-To-Admit-We’re-Wrong situations? While we’re still trying to figure out a measurement system based on the length of someone’s foot and the universe is running on metric, we’re also trying to save daylight by fiddling with the hands of the clocks. Base ten measurements are incredibly easy, just like not messing with the clocks is also incredibly easy. But NOOOOOOOOOOOO! We’re America. We have to have our own units of measure and our own system of telling time. We might as well invent some odd hick language that no one else can understand and that defies our own rules of grammar. Oh wait, the South has already done that. Nevermind.            
Daylight Savings Time is an anachronism devised for a people who all worked the same shift during the day and all went home at night. This is a new world, a new time, in a manner of speaking, and the idea of totally screwing up everyone’s sleep pattern twice a year in the name of shopkeepers who are now open twenty-four seven shows we are a people lost in time. We are unable to adapt or change to times that change with or without our awareness. No matter if it hurts us or helps us, we have become slaves to the way that it has always been, and it literally takes an act of Congress, if that term isn’t an oxymoron, to even so much as tweak Daylight Savings Time. It’s a stupid nonproductive weird and confusing thing to arbitrarily do twice a year  just because we’ve done it for so long now we have no idea how to quit, like watching reality television shows.
            Decide where you want the hands of time. Leave them there. Time keeping is something we’ve done for ages and damned if we haven’t found a way to screw even that up.

Take Care,
Mike