Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I wish people could get as worked-up over actual issues as they do about losing Twinkies and buying Powerball tickets.  I suppose the real issues are too stressful, so they tackle the ones that are easy.

I listen to sports talk radio during the day.  Usually, it's a respite from the stress of the day. A chance to listen to people discussing mundane issues.  Lately, the talk has centered around Eagles head coach Andy Reid and his almost certain dismissal.  I hear fans screaming and complaining about the team's poor performance and gnashing their teeth over their 7-straight losses.  I wonder (quietly to myself) if they would be as upset if their kid came home with a bad report card or threw a rock at the neighborhood cat?  I'd guess not.

The relative anonymity of the talk radio caller is enhanced by the distance they are from the team they are criticizing.  Often, we see a bad movie or television show, and either walk out in disgust or change the channel.  Sports fans feel the need to gripe in public and pretend that the team is a reflection of them.

Eagles fans (or Phillies, Flyers or Sixers fans) are somehow representative of their city.  Cleveland is a "City of Losers" because their sports teams under-perform.  The Dallas Cowboys are "America's Team," for some reason.  It's a strange relationship that I do not fully understand.

If I go to work wearing a shirt that bears the Orioles' logo, I am invariably greeted with questionable comments like, "Orioles?" and I am expected to justify my clothing choice.  I can, however, show up wearing a shirt that has a Nike or Oakley logo and not get a second glance.  There is something about the sports logo that inspires people to question me.

At this point, I'm burned out on sports talk.  The babble is relentless:  Fire Andy, trade the players and change the team's management.  It all seems so important - until I realize that it's somebody else's job and only affects me to the extent that I allow it to affect me - which is not at all.  Like complaining about the weather, I can't change it.  It's not my business, and I have my own problems to deal with.  Perhaps ... ah, no ... if I allowed sports to affect my life more, my life problems would seem less significant?  No.

If sports didn't have America by the short hairs, there would be no demand for gambling, television, and the assorted magazines and fantasy games that sports fans participate in.  There are Sports Bars, dedicated to nothing but showing games on big TVs while people guzzle lite beer and scarf chicken wings.   Where are the Business Bars where people sit and watch CNBC and talk about the plight of Corning's stock?  Where are the Politics Bars where Democrats and Republicans sit and hash-out the affairs of the day?  The Science Bar, where global warming and the Chinese space program are debated? Nowhere, mon frère.

Fantasy football?  There's  a concept.  A shame more people can't grasp it.  Figure out reality first, then work on your fantasy game.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

$325 million

There is yet another potential lottery jackpot available tonight. One of those "balls" lotteries is set to go off.  Powerball, Lottoball ... something like that.  I don't play enough to truly understand the thing.

When the jackpot gets over $200 million, a bunch of us at work put-in two dollars each and buy a bunch of tickets.  As you can no doubt tell, we have never won. Otherwise, I'd be writing this from Sedona, Arizona shitfaced on Mai Tai's and ordering prostitutes on the Craigslist.

For some reason, the work group only collects when the jackpot gets to a certain level - as though winning $50 million isn't as big a deal as winning $200 million.  It's not the 50 or 200 as much as it is the "million" part that appeals to me.

I'm not a greedy person.  I could do very well with $20,000 and say "thank you."  After all, $200 million is a controversial amount of money.  When the Phillies paid Ryan Howard $200 million, lots of people said, "He's not worth it," even though he possesses a marketable skill.  When a schlub from Iowa wins $200 million for buying a lottery ticket, people say, "Good for him!"  Where is the perspective?

$325 million is almost a million dollars a day for a whole year.  Try spending that, although I guess some people could.

I was watching a History Channel program today called "The Men Who Built America," and I was thinking about how all of them were self-made millionaires.  People like John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie.  As part of the program, they interviewed contemporaries like Donald Trump, Jack Walsh, and Mark Cuban.  Nowhere in the documentary did their description start with the line, "...after winning the lottery."

 On March 12, 1964, New Hampshire became the first state to sell lottery tickets in the modern era.
  In 1988, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed with Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia as its charter members; it is best known for Powerball, which was designed to create large jackpots. Another joint lottery, The Big Game (now called Mega Millions), was formed in 1996 by six other lotteries as its charter members.

That's a lot of lotteries, and I can't remember any entrepreneur saying, "Well, once I got that lottery money ..." as part of his biography.  Mostly, I'd guess, it's been given to people who either squandered it, lost it in some Ponzi scheme or spent it on crap.

I don't know what each person's motivation is for playing a lottery and I certainly can't guess what they would do with the money if they won.  Suffice it to say that $325 million is a lot of money to give to any one person and I wonder about the wisdom of giving that much money to someone who does nothing but gamble their money on the flight of some ping pong balls.

To say nothing of what it might do for property values in Sedona or the popularity of prostitutes on Craigslist.  And there's some real powerball for ya.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vicky's in Trouble

Model Karlie Kloss (left) set off some controversy when she walked the runway wearing a Native American headdress (also called a war bonnet), a culturally insensitive faux pas that led the company to pull the footage of the offending outfit from its planned Dec. 4 broadcast.

Several Native American groups called the lingerie company out for the blunder. Native Appropriations, a blog covering imagery of indigenous cultures, accused the retailer of "egregious cultural appropriation, stereotyping, and marginalizing of Native peoples." Ruth Hopkins, a columnist for a Native American news site, wrote that "after years of patronage and loyalty to the Victoria's Secret brand, I am repaid with the mean-spirited, disrespectful trivialization of my blood ancestry and the proud Native identity I work hard to instill in my children." Putting a headdress on a white model is particularly offensive, she wrote, because among the Sioux tribe, war bonnets are exclusively worn by men, with each feather symbolizing an act of valor.

Well, now you're in trouble.  Don't go trivializing war bonnets by putting them on white women.  It seems that the same people who gave "years of patronage" to Victoria's Secret are now asking to be patronized.  Really, Ruth - you instill your children with the pride of wearing a headdress and fighting?  What a proud tradition to pass along to your kids.  Hatchets and war paint for Christmas around your house?

We just emerged from a holiday that we white people call Halloween.  Around the country (and even in New Jersey) millions of kids donned costumes of all sorts that either mocked or emulated some culture or another.  Some of them fictitious and others factual.  Where was your native Appropriations blog to chase kids around dressed up like little Indians?

Perhaps you are only offended when it's a big-time TV show and you can make a name for yourself by becoming a National Pain in the Ass?

That's it, isn't it?  You find an easy target and launch an assault.  The low-hanging fruit of political correctness.  Most of us are sick of having to constantly look over our shoulders for those of you with clipboards and agendas.  The bigger problem is that companies like Victoria's Secret kowtow to your wishes, when what they should say is "Shut up and sit down."

The reason things like this are news is because companies think that the rest of America cares.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Saddest Place on Earth

To the HOTTIE in wawa today around 845am i think you saw me checking you out if you happen to see this and you are single id love to buy you a beer! You were wearing a pair of ear phones tell me what else you were wearing so i know you are the person this post is intended for!

If you haven't done it, by all means go to Craigslist and sit for a few hours and read the personal ads.  Like watching "Hoarders," it will immediately make you feel better about your life and simultaneously cause you to wonder about the state of modern life in America.  I have it bookmarked.
You caught my eye as I was ordering my Latte at the counter. You were having a conversation with the woman making your sandwich. Then you dropped your bag after checking out--I watched you leave and we caught each looking.. And smiled! I would love to know your name!
The thing that it points out to me is the severe lack of communication in a society that seems to value communication to the point that it pays money for messaging and e-mail.  And therein lies the problem:  We value non-personal communication over personal communication.  Raise your hand if you have conducted business or arranged a transaction entirely through e-mail or text message.  [hand raised]
The messages I posted are under the heading "Missed Connections,"  which is a euphemism for "I saw you but I couldn't speak."  Sad that these people think that their chances are better as anonymous Craigslist postings than they were in actually speaking to the person that they saw when they saw them.  There's where the "I feel better now" moment kicks in for me.
I suppose it's the fear of rejection or some other self-inflicted attitude that keeps these people from following through on their gut feelings.  They see a person at a coffee counter or buying something but feel too intimidated by the moment to reach out and risk public contact.  It's much safer and far less risky to post a Craigslist ad.  That way, they can say, "Oh, I guess she didn't see the ad" and justify their inaction.  [I'm a psychoanalyst in my spare time]
You were the one that renewed my license, you had me so mesmerized, I knocked all your pens over. I really wanted to ask for your number, but your boss was hanging to close. I came back on Saturday, you were out, I left my card with one of the girls, hoping you would call me. Well, maybe you'll read this & respond. Put my job title on the subject line so I know it's you.
Or, maybe you won't read this.  It's a social crap shoot.  Like gambling without the financial risk.  And, I haven't even talked about the "Casual Encounters" section of Craigslist.  You can find that out for yourself, or wait until I decide that I can construct a compelling argument for reading ads from  transsexuals and women seeking oral sex in their automobiles.  It may take a while to conjure that up.
So, off I go to read some more Missed Connections.  Perhaps, one day I'll see one asking about that creepy bald guy buying the veggie sub at Wawa.
Oh,  I buried the lead.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Day and one interruption...

So, here it is Sunday night, two days before election day.  Here in New Jersey, we have several big contests to decide.  We will be electing a county clerk, surrogate and a sheriff.  Not a sheriff like Andy Taylor or Buford T. Justice.  A sheriff like one who rides around in a county vehicle handing out summons' and ... I don't know ... locking up stray dogs or something.  I really don't know what a sheriff does, besides collect a big New Jersey State Pension when he retires, or isn't elected to whatever his term is.  Clueless.
Oh, and yes, there's that presidential election.  Among the candidates are a Socialism and Liberation party candidate, one from the American Third Position (I thought there were more positions than three) a Constitution Party candidate, and a few others who stand to clog up the ballot to the point that their family and friends will vote for them and you will not see their vote totals posted in your local newspaper.
It says here that, on Wednesday (you will not know the winner when you go to bed on Tuesday night) the guy who wins the popular vote will lose to the guy who wins the Electoral College vote.  You couldn't find 30 people in a crowd at the Deptford Mall who know what the Electoral College means, yet that will decide our president for the next 4 years.  Strange, isn't it?  More on that later.
Today at the Shop Rite:
Man behind me in line:  What do you want?
Woman with him: I'm going back for cake.
Man behind me in line:  OK, but don't complain when they call you 'an old fat-ass!'
Me:  But it tastes so good!
There are two ballot questions on our ballot for Tuesday.  They always include an "Interpretive Statement" after the question.  That's because the question is worded in such a way that the average American (translated: Deptford Mall shopper) can't understand the question, so they have to interpret it for us - like we're watching "Honey Boo Boo."  Meanwhile, nobody seems to mind that questions on our ballot have to be interpreted.  Moreover, nobody seems to mind that, after reading the interpretive statement, we still don't know what we're voting on.
So, go ahead and vote.  It's important.  Mostly for your local elections and less so for the national one.  Most of the things you care about happen at the local level - school board, Township Committee, State Senate - all that junk that doesn't garner national headlines.  Here in New Jersey, the Electoral vote will probably go to Obama, so if you vote for Romney, feel good about making a choice but in the end, our forefathers have rendered your vote a formality.  That's our system, and whether you like it or not, that's the way it works.
Maybe you can find the sheriff and get him to fix it?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Is Life More than a Pile of Boats?

"I am pretty good at tennis, but I will never be as good as the wall. The wall is relentless."
-   Mitch Hedberg

There are a lot of things that are relentless:  The Internal Revenue Service, bills, a cat demanding food and the weather.  The weather is relentless.  When you want it to stop, it keeps coming and when you want it to continue, it stops.  Seasons change and the pace changes.
One of the things we are reminded of when the pace changes is how quickly it can change and how powerless we are to stop it from changing. It is relentless.
Last weekend we were attacked from above by a weather phenomenon that has been given the name Hurricane Sandy.  We like to name things and blame things. It's in our nature.  We can't accept that "stuff happens," we need to find out whom to blame and what it is called. It's a "Storm of the Century," "Drought of the Decade" or some such moniker that identifies it until the next milestone event occurs - inevitably, because milestone events are relentless.
We tried.  We tried to stock-up on D-batteries, water and bread.  Presumably, because we think we can prepare for such events.  Really, what we can do is stock-up on stuff ahead of an event.  What we cannot do is hoard enough stuff so that we can make these events tolerable to our ever-increasing dependence on electricity and those so-called "Modern Conveniences," which become Modern Inconveniences when we no longer have them.  I'd guess that, in our former Agrarian Society, when a big storm hit, the horses were boarded and the family hunkered-in.  Once the storm passed, they would clean up and go about their business.  Now, we have to restore power, services and all of those modern conveniences.  Which way was better?
Sure, we have iPad's and HD cable television, and those losers in 1840 had to read books by candlelight and entertain themselves.  In a lot of ways, we are bound by our lifestyle.
The most fragile areas of our country have the biggest property values and the highest demand.  The California coastline, the Carolina's, the New Jersey shore all have property values in the millions of dollars, yet they are fragile to the extent that any big weather event renders them helpless.  Is the luxury of a home on the beach in Stone Harbor worth the anxiety of what a storm could do to it?  Many are now forced to re-build or demolish homes that were once worth a million dollars. But, what is worth?
Have we extended ourselves to the point that a weather event can remind us who is really in charge?  Or have we failed to prepare ourselves for such events, knowing that they occur but ignoring their consequence?   Thousands of people in New Jersey are without electric and natural gas service.  Is it because we do not prepare or is it because we choose to ignore the circumstances?
Surely we have seen what Nor'Easter's and hurricanes can do to our coastline, yet we continue to build homes there and value them in the millions of dollars merely because they are close to something so fragile as the beach.  It's a strange relationship - the home at the shore versus the consequence of something as relentless as the weather.  That realization has done nothing to affect the value of property there. In fact, it has only increased in spite of those consequences.  Are we willing to pay that price for these days of misery?  Is that luxury so important to us that we are willing to risk the unknown and relentless force of nature to endure a few months of summer happiness?
They are questions that need to be asked.  And I'm just the guy to ask them.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Fortress of Solitude

My peculiar situation is that I get my Internet service from a satellite whose signal winds it way through Charlotte, North Carolina.  On most days, that isn't a problem.  However, with Hurricane Sandy (a boyishly lame name for a storm) bearing down on us, that signal has been silenced.  As a first resort, I am sitting in the Gloucester County Library with my work laptop getting caught up on my month-end bills, e-mails and miscellaneous web crawling that somehow seems necessary.

I went to college as an adult, graduating in 2006.  It was necessary for me to leave the house in order to get anything serious accomplished.  Pending household chores, a whining cat, the blare of the TV and other home-bound distractions were left behind and my mind could focus on the task at hand.  Usually, it was a paper I had to write or some mathematically challenging homework.

To write my papers, I used antiquated devices known as a pen and paper.  I would feverishly write every idea that came into my head a paragraph at a time.  Order was established with arrows and those backward P marks that signaled a new paragraph.  Archaeologists could uncover them in a hundred years and make no sense out of them, but to me it meant that I completed a paper and would return home to put it on the necessary device to submit to my professor, who would undoubtedly enjoy reading it to the extent that I imagined him carrying it around and re-reading it so that he could absorb every minute detail before granting me the highest possible grade.

I had not been back to the library before today.  Since I cannot update this thing or do any other modern tasks with a pen and paper, here I sit with the keyboard clicking and those same thoughts whirring through my head of how mind-clearing it is to escape my home and sit in relative silence.

We don't appreciate silence.  We roam around with phones on our ear, headphones on them in order to either distract us from the outside world or shield us from it. In many ways, we have become less social.  Texting has replaced a phone call, e-mail has replaced a hand-written letter and our personal space is occupied by some device.  We are isolated by technology.

Before I had a cell phone, I knew everyone's phone number.  Now, I couldn't tell you any of them.  I don't know your street address either. It's a point and click world.  How many phone numbers do you know?

With the latest Storm of the Century approaching, the loss of a lot of that technology leaves us grasping at straws.  We live in a world where things are immediately known to us and accessible.  Newspapers no longer report real news.  We have already learned that on some social media site or from an Internet news page.  Most of the mystery has been taken from our lives, and in some ways, our lives are worse for it.

Things that are already inconveniences are now invading our daily routine to the point that the level of anxiety over losing cell service or not having Internet access leaves us feeling empty.  But I wonder if we weren't already empty, and the loss of these modern conveniences is really a modern inconvenience?

The storm isn't here yet, and already my angst over it has started.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

I told you never to call me here.

There seems to be no end of ways to separate us from the things we need to do. Priorities have shifted in life, and I don't think for the better.

I see people walking with their heads down, typing away on a handheld device, oblivious to their surroundings.  They have the nerve to look shocked when they realize that they are face-to-face with someone walking in the other direction.  I will not alter my gait to suit them.

I'm not sure about other states, but in New Jersey, drivers are required to turn on their headlights when it is raining.  It's one of those visibility things.  Our inspection stickers used to have a message on the back that said "WIPERS ON, LIGHTS ON."  I think the subtlety was lost on most drivers, as I still see at least one in five cars driving around without their headlights on.

That poetic, yet stern warning was replaced recently.  With the advent of cellular communications (I will not call them cell phones, because a telephone appears to be the least of its functionality) we now have devolved to the "PUT THE PHONE DOWN" warning.  I don't think drivers can see the warning over their steering wheel, especially since many of them are dialing the phone or sending a text.  We can only do a few things at a time.

It is to the stage that many drivers feel it is their right (even though driving is a privilege, not a right) to use their devices while they are driving.  When they are told to "hang up and drive," one of their fingers is waved in the air and they get indignant.

I see the device slaves wandering the streets and driving around and I wonder what part of their lives they have replaced with this obsession to their "phone."  Who are they talking to?  Are all of those conversations necessary?  Is it necessary to be constantly entertained and occupied?  Have we gotten to the point that the stimulation is now part of our daily lives or is it merely an obsession with something new?  Are we really better off now than when we had to wait to get home to see if we had any phone messages, write a letter or find a public telephone? I sure ask a lot of questions.

Talk amongst yourselves.  But please, do it at home. I'm tired of having you walk into me and watching you drive with one eye.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Your Choice is Coming Up

Not since William Howard Taft has there been a fatter presidential candidate than our own Chris Christie - a strange combination of names  - who was slated to say something in front of a bunch of assembled Republicans in Florida tonight.
I don't care to listen because I am a resident of the state in which he is the governor, so I could probably write the speech.  I don't need to tune into CNN to listen to it.
He'll tell the world (or the American part of it) how the budget should be balanced and how badly we've done since the scourge of the Democrats have descended on America.  It's that predictable.  Politics has relegated itself to denigrating the other party and telling you how bad your life is because the other party is in charge.
That's how it has been since the beginning of politics.  But, for your lifetime, let's review:  Jimmy Carter promised to bring back honesty to the office after the Nixon/Ford nonsense.  Ronald Reagan promised to take you away from government control that you were under with the Carter administration.  The first Bush promised to continue the "good times" that the Reagan administration gave us.  We elected Bill Clinton because we were tired of the Republicans.  In response to that, we mistakenly elected another Bush (twice) because the Democrats were so unorganized that we couldn't figure out what was going on.
Now, the miracle of Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and we can't imagine another four years of this guy. 
Side note:  When Obama gave the keynote speech at the Democrat Convention in 2004 I wondered, "Who is this guy?"  If we are supposed to believe that (any kid) in America can grow up to be president, we look at a guy like Barack Obama and wonder how he can be a one-term Senator and give a keynote address in front of millions of people at a major political convention.  It made me think that something was up. It turned out, something was up, and the guy went on to become the president of our country.  That's about as "up" as something could become.
So now, we are confronted with that guy (Obama) and another guy who millions of Americans believe is wealthy, and as such, is out of touch with our middle-American values.  As it turns out, all of the political parties' candidates are out of touch with our values because none of them ever had a job where they were paid minimum wage or struggled to do ... ANYTHING ... and we are supposed to believe that they are working in the best interests of the so-called "regular Americans."
There are no candidates that are working for the regular Americans.  At least no candidates that are running for president.  They will tell you that they are working for you and that your best interests are their best interests.
The truth is ... if there is a truth ... that there is nobody in politics that is interested in what you are interested in.  That is:  Keeping your cost of living stable, increasing your wages and making the problems in your life go away.  Forget about that.
So, vote for who you're going to vote for.  Display your politics and pretend that your anti-abortion or anti-gay or anti-whatever policy reflects your viewpoint.  It ain't necessarily so, and if you think it is, you're horribly misinformed.

Which puts you straight in line with the rest of America.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Has it been four years already?

OK, so it's Olympics time. I'm fascinated by the Olympics. Partly because I like the "thrill of victory" crap, and partly because I enjoy watching sports that I won't watch again for another four years.

That's the fascinating part about the Olympics - the four-year time span.  If there wasn't another movie sequel for four years, you'd say, "Gee, whatever happened to that Spiderman thing?"  But sports like archery and volleyball go four years without any updates and you glom on like it was yesterday the last time you saw them.

Does anybody give a crap
about gymnastics or swimming except on four-year cycles? No, and that's why the Olympics are fascinating to me.  Michael Phelps will win a dozen or so medals, his gross income will increase by millions of dollars and the last time we saw him seriously pursuing his sport was 2008.  That's a long time for society to maintain interest in something.  We lose track of television shows during the summer rerun season, so it's amazing that we still care about Michael Phelps.

It's probably those Subway commercials and the occasional article about his (alleged) pot smoking and the women he (allegedly) carouses with that keep us interested.  He's back in the national spotlight because he has won a few more medals, so I guess we'll have him around for at least two more years until some winter Olympian grabs the spotlight - if such a thing is possible.

Now, it's this Gabby Douglas.  We'll be inundated with Gabby Douglas ads and magazine articles. That's nice, but eight days ago we could have run Gabby Douglas over with our car and we'd say, "I ran some kid over in my car. I feel horrible."  Now, we'd be a national disgrace.  There's a slim margin between making a minor mistake and being a national enemy.

So, prepare yourself for Gabby-this and Gabby-that.  It's not enough that she has won some medals, she has to have a name like Gabby to make it even easier for Madison Avenue types to twist her into a media sweetheart.  Sometimes, the advertising is self-inflicted.

And I have no idea why there is a photo of Thor on my ironing board at the top of this essay.  Perhaps I think it would be nice if Thor could dive in a straight line, fire an arrow 70 yards into a target, swim really fast or balance on a beam.  He's just a cat.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is this how it's supposed to be?

I have a Chic-Fil-A near my home, but I've never been there.  I hear they are customer-friendly and it's sort of like a cult of chicken eaters that go into them.  You're greeted and treated like you are something special, even though what you really want is a fried chicken sandwich.

Lately, their CEO has come out against gay marriage (and other gay things) and the backlash has been measurable.  So much so, that there have been Twitter and (I hear) Facebook posts decrying the company and its stance against the gay thing.

Is this what we want?  Do you want to base your life on what the people in charge of companies think of your lifestyle choices? If so, then maybe you should go about interviewing the CEO of every company that you do business with and how each of them deals with every lifestyle choice that comes across their desk.

I'd guess that you would wind up farming your own food, flushing your own toilet into your own backyard cesspool, manufacturing your own clothing from your own handmade loom and drinking your homemade beer from the bathtub that you built from materials that you mined from your backyard sand pit.

That is to say, you can't control what everyone thinks and you can't purchase things from those people who believe what you believe. If you could, it would be a shallow world of products that you have researched and made decisions about based on the political viewpoints of the CEO's in charge of their companies.

You would be so busy doing research that you would wind up doing without toilet paper, cat litter, beverages and food to the point that your life would be so filled with hate-induced choice that you wouldn't be living - you would be choosing based on some politically-induced world that you manufactured.

It's not so much about Chic-Fil-A as it is about your anger over whether you can choose with whom you align yourself.  Here's a clue:  In the world of retail, you cannot.

So, get a grip.  Order a sandwich. Enjoy what you consume and leave the politics to the politicians.
You will be happy.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Photo of the Day.

A nice horizontal lightning strike from my back porch tonight.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Die Facebook, Die!

 "And I'll say it again, I need a brand new friend."
Jim Morrison Hyacinth House

For about the tenth time in the past three years, I have abandoned Facebook.  Mostly because it has abandoned me.   Oh Facebook, why hast thou forsaken me?

I know why.  It's because Facebook is a happy place.  It's a place where people can say, "Hey, Look at me! See what I'm doing!"  And mostly, I'm doing it without you.  That's where the forsaken part comes in.

We have real friends (or most of you do) and we have our Facebook Friends.  Facebook friends are mostly acquaintances that we otherwise wouldn't associate with if it weren't for the Internet and its so-called social interaction skills.  Part of those social interaction skills are supposed to bring together people with like interests.  What it really does is bring us together with people with whom we have one thing in common, and Facebook software links us up with others who have the same interests.  Either that, or we are persuaded to become "Facebook Friends" with people that we know but do not otherwise associate with.  Therein lies the problem.

Those of us with horrible, unfulfilled lives are subjected to their Facebook updates.  They are off doing things that we are supposed to "like" but instead, since we aren't part of it, we are forced to read about it and either "like" it or ignore it and wish we could be doing it.
They are enjoying some extravagant vacation (whether or not they work 12 months a year is irrelevant to their definition of a "vacation") or they are buying some expensive piece of technology or some toy that those of us on the outside would like to have but either can't afford or can't finance - and we are supposed to read about it and "like" what they have accomplished.

Moreover, I can't imagine anyone who would want to know about my daily activities.

Then, there is the "Hey, Look at Me!" aspect of Facebook.  All of those things that we don't do because we are  ... working ... and people on the outside are doing because they ... do not ... and we are supposed to look at their photos of their wonderful life and appreciate it.  Well, it ain't gonna happen.
I sit at my work desk, reading this junk and think, "Don't these people work?"  The answer, of course, is no, they do not. They prefer to post Facebook updates at 2:00pm of them off doing something extravagant while the people reading it are looking at cubicle walls.  We're supposed to "like" it and make some supportive comment like, "Hey, good for you!" with a smiley-face emoticon.  That's what we are supposed to do.

As for me, my life is so miserable and unfulfilled, I can't stand to read about their glorified existence. I harken back to the days when their glorified existence was kept to themselves.  If at all, it was restricted to their Christmas letter to their extended family.  It talked about all of their so-called accomplishments throughout the year. It was a condensed version of what would become their daily Facebook updates.

Besides which, I feel as though at least half of the people who have chosen to be my "Facebook Friends" have either unsubscribed from my posts or chosen to ignore them altogether.  What is the point of that? I'd rather have zero real friends (close to reality) than have Facebook friends who ignore what I say.

I once had a friend who, every time I saw him he would criticize some part of my life. Either my car wasn't good enough, my life wasn't right, I didn't have enough money ... something about me wasn't up to his standard.  I decided that I didn't want him to be in my life anymore because, when I saw him I never felt better about myself.  That's the way I feel about Facebook.  Whenever I'm logged-on, I don't feel good about myself.  Why would I want to be around something like that?

As for me
, to quote Samuel Goldwyn, "Include me out."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

it's not about me

These things usually aren't about me.  They are rants about what is going on in the world or what nonsense has affected my life that reflects on what is going on in the world.

However, the recent events in Colorado and some ancillary events have convinced me that we can't change the world one person at a time.  We can't even change it a thousand people at a time.  The world is a big place, and changing it has lost its purpose.  We won't change it.

We won't keep people from talking on cell phones while they are driving. We won't keep people from buying assualt weapons.  We won't keep people from throwing trash out of their car windows.

[Sidebar:  I saw a Prius driver throw a cigarette out of his window. If a Prius driver doesn't get the "World-as-One" concept, what hope do we have?]

We won't keep people from parking in the fire lane at the Shop Rite.  We won't keep people from singing-along at concerts.  We won't keep people from doing "The Wave" at baseball games when our team has the bases loaded.

In short (if it isn't too late) we aren't going to change the world.  So, what do we have left?  Make ourselves happy and those around us.

So, Thor is getting a can of food and I'm listening to Kristin Hersh on the computer.

That's about it right now.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

No Accounting for Tastes.

The (Men's) U.S. Open golf tournament is going on this weekend.  Among the topics being discussed is that Tiger Woods was still in contention for the win, and it appears as though a lot of people are cheering for him to win.
I understood the "Tiger Love" at the beginning of his career.  He was a guy who was going to challenge Jack Nicklaus' records at a time when no golfer appeared to be able to dominate the tour.  I get that.  But in the ensuing years, he developed into a petulant brat who would spit on greens, chastize spectators and generally be a sore loser.  When he won he was gregarious, but losing turned his true personality on.

Once his wife chased after him with a 7-iron, I thought America's fascination with him would have ebbed.  But instead, it waited for his return and now, when he is in contention for a title, thousands of fans line the fairways to cheer him.  That, I don't get.

It is difficult to count on the favor of the American public.  Goofballs like Snooki, Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian have huge followings while other, seemingly more deserving artists struggle.   It was H.L. Mencken who said, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."  Got that right, Henry.

And so, they keep on cheering the known adulterer, patholigical liar and spoiled brat.  You go, Tiger.  And if you keep winning, I will continue to doubt the existence of a higher power.  I'll figure that we can do whatever we wish while we're here on Earth and there is no external equalizing force that brings justice to those who violate the rules of life.

And then, I'll realize that it's only golf, and ... who gives a shit?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's all about me.

For almost 5 years I updated this blog every day.  I had opinions on everything from trash to soap, and couldn't wait to get to my computer to type-in a rant.  At some point, I realized that the world wasn't changing, and in fact, it was steadily growing worse, and my thoughts and ideas were more social anathema than socially acceptable.
So I shut up.

Then, along came Facebook and Twitter.  So-called Social Media sites that seem to have settled into a realm somewhere between corporate marketing and personal promotion.  Companies use it to promote television shows and products and people use it to tell us about all the grand things they do with their lives - presumably without us, or else why would they need to broadcast it to the Internet?

After all, I thought most people hated those Christmas cards with the "Yearly Update" letter that told us about Junior's baby teeth or Aunt Selma's sciatica.  What makes a daily Internet update more palatable than a once-a-year letter from an actual friend?  We're a strange bunch.

Gradually, television became a place where ordinary people became celebrities.  Programs like "Survivor" and "American Idol" thrust average Joes into the spotlight.  Although, one could wonder what was "average" about a person who would choose to go on TV and sing A Capella in front of a panel of judges.  But I digress.

There is a part of Facebook and Twitter that fulfills our need to be noticed.  It's a "hey, look at me!" aspect of our personalities that separates the Facebookers from the non-Facebookers.  People who aren't on Facebook have neither the need to be known nor the need for you to know what they do.  There is something noble in that, and I question why I participate.

In 1996, my wife and I separated (legally, of course, not literally) and she moved out.  During our sham of a marriage counseling session, I was asked what I did when she walked out.  Since my wife had moved back in with her parents, her time was spent commiserating with them and probably complaining about her horrible life.
I said, "I don't know - I was at home."  The therapist replied, "You mean, you went through this on your own?"  She was incredulous, as though not having a sounding board for my misery was a mistake of some sort.  The fact was that I didn't have any friends with whom I could share it and chose long solo bicycle rides over long agonizing conversations with strangers.

If we had Facebook in 1996, I could have been posting updates on the state of my life and expressing how my deepest fears of living alone had finally come true.  Hundreds of my Facebook friends could click "Like" next to my posts and console me with emoticons that simulated hugs or pats on my cyber back.
But we didn't, so my misery was not broadcast on the Internet.  Your loss.

Now, we have the ability to show people where we go, what we do and how we live.  It feeds our ego, which can be as basic as food and shelter.  Lately, just as I grew weary of ranting, I am questioning my need to show the Internet where I went, what I did or what I bought home with me.  It's part of the adjustment we are all making to this relatively new aspect of our lives.

I don't know what purpose it serves, other than a figurative hand in the air and "look at me" exclamation.  I'm not sure why we feel it is necessary to broadcast our daily comings and goings with people with whom we share nothing more than a broadband connection.  Corporate America has glommed onto it because it offers them a free space to promote their products. That, I get.  What I don't get is our incessant need to promote ourselves.  Maybe it's why cave men scribbled on walls?  Maybe we aren't comfortable saying things out loud because we sound boastful, but if we post them on an Internet site, it sounds more like a diary?   I'm not a psychologist and I don't think I can take a long enough bike ride to figure it out.

One thing I do know is that being uncomfortable with it makes me feel better about myself.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Where do I sit?

Paula Creamer's bag in the foreground while Paula putts during the Pro-Am at Seaview Country Club on Thursday.  Photo by me.

Two of the least spectator-friendly sports are taking place locally this weekend.

One, the Shop Rite LPGA Classic, has been going on for a week.  The other, the 28th running of the Philadelphia International Championship, takes place on Sunday.  It has changed sponsors more than most people change their heater filters.  So much so that I had to look it up.  It probably should have been called the "International Championship" from the beginning.  CoreStates bank and whatever other institutions lent their name to it had nothing to do with cycling.

Golf is a goofy sport to follow.  The courses are usually in the back woods somewhere, which means that spectators have to shuttle-bus in, as though they were being taken to another world - which is the reality.
Golf courses were made for golf, not for watching golf.  Spectators do one of two things:  They walk around with their favorite player from hole to hole (my choice) or they sit in one spot and watch the field play by.  Either way, you don't get a feel for the entire game because you're either watching someone who is playing their own game or you are watching randomly placed activities that have nothing to do with the tournament.

I'm a bit surprised, in the era of television, that someone hasn't designed a golf course for TV.  That is, elevated tees, depressed greens and places for spectators to gather around both with good sight lines and places for stands and ... money-making concessions.  I suppose golf is too far above the level of us ordinary people to even contemplate bringing itself down to us.

Bike racing is another weirdo.  You pick a spot on the course and watch 100 or so crazy peddlers whiz past in a couple of seconds ... and then settle in for another twenty minutes of nothing happening at all while you watch (if you're lucky) the rest of the course on a nearby TV.
I've been to a few of them, and I can say that, wherever I was I wished I was somewhere else.

The same can't be said for golf.  I follow Paula Creamer, and when I go to a tournament I walk with her group and I can honestly say that I've never thought, "Gee, I wish I was with [some other golfer] today."  I think, if bike race fans could follow one rider around the course it would make the experience entirely different, but they go too fast to follow, and we aren't allowed on the course anyway.

That's the deal with golf.  Spectators are sometimes right next to the player playing the shot and standing on the course.  It's the only game in which all of the spectators are that close.  Only a few people have court side seats to basketball or seats behind the dugout in baseball.  In golf, every seat is court side.

Thousands of people will descend on tiny Galloway Township for the LPGA and relatively tiny Mannayunk for the bike race tomorrow.  All of them will enjoy their day, but in both cases, participating in the sport is ultimately more satisfying than watching it from the sidelines.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't call us Indians. We're Native Americans.

That is a photo of an ad running on TV.  It's a loan shark outfit called Western Sky that will gladly loan you $10,000 at an interest rate of 89.68% with 84 monthly payments of $743.99.  Where do I sign up?

My guess is that, because it's a "Native American-owned business" that is "operating on a Native American Reservation" they can get away with charging 90% interest on a loan.  Otherwise, they would probably have the Federal government questioning their practices.  Finally, we have closure on the whole "Indian Reservation" deal.  This is how they get even with us white-folk. It's also nice that there are "no fees for early pay off" as though you could pay off a 90% interest loan early.

I wonder how many phone calls they get?  Like the kid who sells lemonade for $50 a glass, they only have to sell one.  I can't be the only person who paused his TV mid-stream to read the fine print on the ad.

Or am I?

Friday, May 11, 2012

The gap between reality and perception.

One of the themes I've been meaning to write about is the growing gap between the "have's" and the "have-not's."  That is to say, the One-Per-centers and the rest of the world.  More and more, we are faced with luxury suites at sporting events, up-scale mall stores and automobiles with more accoutrements than most of our homes have.  Disregarding that premise for now, I am left with these:

Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett was booed after being removed from a game, after it was found that he played golf after being disabled because of an injury.  His response:
“We get 18 off days a year,” Beckett said. “I think we deserve a little time to ourselves.”

A little time to yourselves?  Your work year goes from March to October.  You have more time off than schoolteachers.  Games start at 7:05pm.  What are you doing all day, besides sleeping and eating?  My cat has it harder than you. Shut up and play.

Terrell Owens recently appeared on the Dr. Phil TV show with several of his out-of-wedlock sex partners and their (his) children.  Owens has earned $70 million over his career, he is said to be broke and as such, financially unable to support his babies.  He had this to say:
"I've been through a lot," he said when confronted with the children he fathered and owes support.

You've been through a lot?  What, exactly?  You made millions of dollars, been to Super Bowl(s) and made money for endorsing products that you use. Now, we are supposed to feel sorry for you because you squandered that money and had unprotected sex with at least four different women?  Sell sympathy somewhere else - we're booked-up here.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov did an interview with a Russian newspaper yesterday and had this to say about his year in Philadelphia:
"What I lived through this season I wouldn't wish to an enemy," he told SovSport in a story the Philadelphia Inquirer translated.

Hey, Ilya - let me be your "worst enemy" so I can sign a 9-year contract for $59 million to play ice hockey in Philadelphia.  I'll live through that for a while.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala scored the winning points in the Sixers' playoff win against the Bulls on Thursday night. Afterward, coach Doug Collins had this to say:
Collins said. "Dre has gone through a lot here and I told him after the game that no one deserves more than you do to have this moment."

Oh, poor 'Dre.  (By the way, I'm not impressed that you call him 'Dre)  The poor guy makes $9 million a year to run up and down a hardwood floor 82 times a year.  When he fails (most of the time) he is so sensitive about being criticized that he feels as though he has to stand on the scorer's table at the end of a playoff game and thump his chest like he found a cure for cancer.  Get a grip, Dre.  You haven't gone through all that much.

Not only are these guys making millions of dollars in salary, but they are griping about their so-called "hardships" of the life that they bartered for.  Hey fellas, it ain't that tough.  Or, more accurately, YOU ain't that tough.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Anti-social Media

It's a lot easier to piss people off than it used to be.  Or perhaps it's the advent of social media that makes it seem that way? After all, our identity and proximity influences the volume of our opinions. It's easy to be angry and anonymous, but difficult to be confrontational in person.  Either way, making political statements on Facebook, Twitter and other such portals is the latest way to vent anger over something we find offensive.

The latest one is North Carolina's vote on "Amendment 1" which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.  It has turned the North Carolina Tourism Facebook page into a battleground of profanity, where critics have lashed out on the measure.  Many have said that they will no longer visit North Carolina because homosexuals cannot marry each other.  That makes good nonsense.

Of course, it's a tourism page, so one would assume (logically) that the visitors to the page are also visitors (i.e.: tourists) of the state and as such, shouldn't care what the voters in North Carolina decide.  It makes me wonder why people from, say, Arkansas would go to the trouble of logging onto their Facebook page just to post a snarky comment.  How many other states do they visit that have laws they disagree with?  Lots, I'd guess.  Utah and Nevada come to mind.

Never mind that North Carolina is the 31st state to do it under their constitution. So, if you're crossing states off your "anti-gay" vacation list, you're running out of places to go.  They are merely the most recent, and perhaps the only one with an accessible outlet like Facebook on which to vent.

What's the big deal about getting married anyway?  Why do people find that they need a piece of paper to declare their love for each other?  I was married once and I don't think I would have been any happier (or unhappier) if we had just lived together for 6 years and split up.  Why bring ink and paper into it?  Is it so horrible to commit to one another without a legal document?  I think there is a social side of the issue that needs to be explored.  Talk amongst yourselves.

So, visit North Carolina if you want.  Or don't. I hear it's a nice place. I'm guessing that for the duration of your stay you will not be forced to marry someone of the opposite sex and you may even escape without being propositioned.  You pay your money and take your chances.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Birth of the Blues, Reds and Greens.

While I'm listening to Cocteau Twins I am thinking about my musical influences and how I came about them.

The Beatles were unavoidable.  Their music was everywhere, and even a 7-year old couldn't avoid them.  Lucky for me.

Their subsequent British Invasion clones and American counterparts would shape my thought as a young person of the 1960s, and I found myself drawn into pop radio and its influences, mostly because I exhibited no independent thought.  Once I did, however, my mind wandered.

Chicago Transit Authority would be later (and better) known as Chicago, and their music was foist upon me by their radio popularity and their popularity among the young hipsters in my high school.
That led to bands like Focus; Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Grand Funk Railroad who became popular among my high school friends - and me, in the case of Focus and ELP.  I remember being on my school bus one morning asking a seat-mate if he had heard "Hocus Pocus" by Focus.  It was a nice Doctor Seuss-way of introducing friends to new music, but in another way, I was seeing into the future.

I was a subscriber to Circus Magazine as a kid, and I remember a headline proclaiming "Keith Emerson's Favorite Cup of Blood: Genesis."  That led me into that end of what we called Progressive Rock music.  On another occasion, I was laid up with the flu and had read about Yes drummer Bill Bruford defecting to a band called King Crimson.  A new LP called "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" was out and I sent a courier to fetch it for me.  Undoubtedly, I felt better after I heard it.

The whole King Crimson ordeal led into a myriad of bands too lengthy to detail here:  Gentle Giant, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Kansas, PFM, Finch and their brethren.  I never recovered from the Crimson influence, and in their wake I was left feeling unsatisfied by subsequent bands who were labeled "edgy" or (God forbid) "Avant-garde."

That led to one afternoon, driving home, in the late 1980s that I heard Cocteau Twins' "Donimo" on our local college radio station WXPN.  In those days, one had to venture to a record store to find an album or compact disc of a band that we heard.  We were hunter-gatherers.  I ventured to the local record store to find these Cocteau Twins that I had heard and see what all the fuss was about.

It turned out that there was a huge fuss, and my search was fruitful.  In their wake I would discover such luminaries as Dead Can Dance, Throwing Muses, Colourbox and others of that era. It was the last of the great record company acts that were promoted by a label called 4AD.  They produced sampler CDs and promoted music, which is an idea that seems foreign now that television has taken over the music business.

I have recovered from that music promotion nightmare and have found myself regressing (?) back to the music of the artists that I loved.  Fortunately for me, at least one of those artists that I loved is still making music.  Her name is Kristin Hersh, and she still fronts Throwing Muses as well as my new favorite band 50FOOTWAVE.  Sometimes, going backward is a step forward.

What it shows is that you should never give up on the things you love because they will always be there in some form, and I am fortunate that Kristin is still inspired to make music.  It shows that we shouldn't give up on our ideas.  As much as TV shows like "American Idol" want to force-feed us crap, we still have the ability to choose.  Those choices are imbedded deep in our soul and our musical influences.

Do not let television or popular culture tell you what you like.  The thing that I have learned from these years of experience is that you should follow your heart.  Music is a reflection of your soul, and if you aren't true to your soul, you are just following the herd.

The artists I mentioned in this essay are minor in the grand scheme of music, but to me they are huge influences on my tastes and who I consider myself to be.  I would take them over any so-called popular music of the period.

I am artistically and musically stronger because they are a part of my life.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Drafting some thoughts on junk.

The National Football League is a marketing machine.  They have figured out how to make working out (The Combine) and choosing-up sides (The Draft) into prime-time television programs that run for several nights on big-time cable television stations.
What is more amazing is that people watch.
It reminds me of the saying:  Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the general public.

Is he really going to have GRIFFIN III on his jersey or was that just a prop for the draft?

I love the coconut water drinks that have started showing up over the past year or so.  I wonder if it's real coconut water or just a mix of chemicals designed to simulate coconut water?  I saw "Cast Away" and it didn't look to me like Tom Hanks was getting a lot of water out of those coconuts.  At least not enough for somebody to think that they could bottle the stuff and earn a profit.

We're a conflicted people.  Every day (or so it seems) we hear about how obese we are and how our bodies are ticking time bombs, yet every other day some restaurant chain comes out with a more grotesque version of something that is already hideous to eat.   One pizza chain is touting a crust that has little hot dogs in it and another surrounds the crust with cheeseburger sliders.
In February I read about someone who, while eating at the Heart Attack Grill, suffered an actual heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass Burger.  You'd think that their marketing people would have had a talk with them over the name.  But then, when your restaurant is called the Heart Attack Grill, how much could marketing help?  I wonder if the heart attack victim will be signing an endorsement deal?  You can't beat actual customer experiences.

The Quadruple Bypass Burger with 8,000 calories has been identified as one of the "world's worst junk foods". It consists of four half-pound beef patties, eight slices of American cheese, a whole tomato and half an onion served in a bun coated with lard.  It's the lard that gets you.

Walking across the common area on my way home from the grocery store, I could see that my downstairs neighbor was watching "American Idol" - with the closed-captioning on.  I thought, "what a perfect way to watch that program - with the sound off." It reminds me of the saying:  Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the general public.

As I passed the lobster tank at my local Shop Rite, a wave of sympathy came over me.  There they were, rooting around in a five-by-eight tank of stagnant filtered water, with their claws bound together with no hope for release.  It occurred to me that being thrown into a pot of boiling water is a preferable option to that life.
And then, I thought that I could be looking at my eventual animal reincarnation destiny.  And that didn't help me any.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We love what we don't understand.

I picked up my bag, I went looking for a place to hide;
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walking side by side.
I said, "Hey, Carmen, come on, let's go downtown."
She said, "I gotta go, but my friend can stick around."

Take a load off Annie, take a load for free;
Take a load off Annie, and you put the load right on me.

Levon Helm died on Thursday.  It prompted a lot of airplay for "The Weight," one of The Band's most popular songs.  One DJ said that hearing the song makes him cry.  I have heard the song a number of times and frankly, never had that reaction.  Mostly because I never knew what it was about.

I found the lyrics online and read through them and I still don't know what it's about.  That got me to thinking.
Tons of people love that song [pun] and if you asked them, I'd bet that either they don't know all the words or, if they do, they couldn't put their finger on exactly what the song means.  While it appears to be a tune about some conflict between the Devil and the narrator, it's unclear exactly what the conflict is, what caused it and how it is ever resolved.
Suppose you went to a movie, and after seeing it a friend asked you to explain it.   If you could not, what would your impression be of the movie?  You would leave the theater disappointed and either think that you weren't smart enough to know what was going on or be angry that you spent $12 to be confused.

Millions of people love music that, if you asked them, they would have no idea of the song's meaning or sometimes, its lyrics.  There is something about music that makes it appealing to us even though we have no idea of the topic.

Take The Kinks' "Lola" for instance.  It's a song about a transsexual.  But, if you brought the topic up in conversation, you'd be the most controversial person in the room.  Yet, we walk around humming the song to ourselves.
Even Ronald Reagan didn't know that Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." was a sarcastic smack in the face.  He read the title and thought, "Wow, what a great song."  But he had Alzheimer's, so maybe that's a bad example.

The point is (and there is one) that music does indeed have charms, even if we don't know what those charms mean.  We love music even though, often, the lyrics are incomprehensible or just plain nonsense.

I'll be the roundabout.
The words will make you out and out.
I'll spend the day your way.
Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley.
In and around the lake,
Mountains come out of the sky.
They stand there.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

If Only I was 94-years old and Financially Independant.

I was interested today in this story about a 94-year old billionaire who is marrying for the fifth time, to a woman some 30 years his junior.
I was born during the day, but not yesterday, so I understand that the primary reason that she is marrying him is because, in actuarial terms, she feels as though she will outlive him by enough years that she will be able to enjoy her inheritance.  I'm guessing that she will attempt to kill him sexually.

My interest went beyond the issue of money - because I haven't any - and transcended into the area of age and how it relates to whom we are attracted and how that attraction manifests itself into romance.
I feel as though the mind ages more slowly than the body, as evidenced by the fact that I feel as though I am still in my 30s even though my body tells me that I am significantly older.

That's a shame.

It's a shame because neither I nor any woman I would meet at this point in my life would be interested in creating or raising a family, so I'd wonder why age would be a make or break issue.  How would it matter if our age difference prompted restaurant workers to inquire, "Would you and your daughter like to see an appetizer menu?"

It's difficult enough to find someone whose company we can stand for more than four hours let alone finding someone of a similar age with those attributes.  That's why I am interested in those stories and how someone so much younger could be interested in someone so much older.
You could counter with the idea that his money attracted her, but I would counter with the idea that she wouldn't know him if she wasn't in a similar social class.  You don't get to know people so far above your social circle. 

Unless I win some sort of perverted bachelor auction and find myself hooked-up with the CEO of Avon, I am relegated to either a life of solitude or a continued quest for someone in my own social status (whatever that is) to live with.  Either way, it's a social crap shoot, and I can't rely on my financial situation to magnetize my life to the point that women seek me out because either (a) they might out-live me or (2) they can gamble on being included in my will to the extent that their inheritance will make their sexual misery worthwhile.

That's a miserable set of circumstances on which to base ones life.

So I read stories like that and it makes me realize that my miserable social status does nothing toward making me more desirable and it is made even less so by the fact that most people treat me as though I have herpes or HIV and have left me here to perish of my own devices.

That's fine.  The realization of my own faults is the first step toward the realization that I will spend my last years of my life alone.  I have literally made my own bed and now I will lie in it.

What a different course of events it would have been if I had been born with billions of dollars.  I'm sure that would have made me a more desirable person and a much better fit for someone.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Big Flags and Bad Decisions

I've been thinking about updating the entries here for a while, but every time I come up with some brainstorm, I realize that (a) it's just me griping about something and/or (2) it's something I've already griped about.  I could put up a link to some old essay and be done with it, but I really don't have the interest in it and besides, if you have a horrible gripe about something in your life, you can search it in the window and up will pop a wordy version of your 30-second version of whatever you are upset about.

In the meantime, I went to the Phillies' home opener on Monday.  In some ways I question my judgement and in other ways I feel the need for some sort of Internet intervention that would keep me from clicking on junk that I should just Add to Favorites and lie down until the feeling passes.

Part of the reason I wanted to go was because "everyone else was going" (which, of course, was only partly true) and because I was anxious to get the baseball season started.  The thing that the interventionists would have reminded me of was that I had a ticket to game number two on Wednesday, and my desire to start the baseball season could be salved by watching it on television and joining the herd in two days.

After all, what is "Opening Day?"  It wasn't even the first game of the season. It was the first home game of the season.  As a society, we are pre-occupied with firsts and even-numbered anniversaries of junk that we forget about until the tenth, twentieth or 50th anniversary rolls around.  At Opening Day they roll out a giant American flag and introduce everyone on the team, including the Assistant Trainer.  Otherwise, we don't know who the Assistant Trainer is.

Sometimes we need to do something to realize that we don't want to do it anymore.  It wasn't so much that I regretted going to the game - which featured 30mph winds and a lackluster effort by the ballclub (both of which are regrettable, but also outside my sphere of influence) - but that I spent $180 for a ticket from StubHub.  Sitting in the Hall of Fame Club seemed like a good idea, and clicking that Buy button was too easy.  A concerned person at my Internet intervention would have wrested the mouse from me and stomped on it before I had the chance to spend the money.

So, there I was, less $180, being blown across the parking lot into a baseball park into a place that finds it reasonable to charge $8.75 for a pint of beer and $6.00 for a boiled hot dog on a roll.  The entire time I was there, I kept thinking "I'd rather be at work," which is a horrible thing to think, and compounded the misery of spending the money on a ticket for a game that I wound up watching on the television in the concourse of the Hall of Fame Club.

The fact that there are televisions in a concourse where a sporting event is being played just outside the window is both odd and strangely convenient.  That I was sitting at a table drinking a $8.75 beer and watching the game on one of those televisions could have been portrayed in a Norman Rockwell painting as a metaphor for the sadness of life and how modern convenience clouds our judgement.

If only I could paint.

Monday, February 20, 2012

One childhood habit that explains so much.

As a kid in the latter half of the 1960s, the only thing that beat the Mister Softee truck traveling through the neighborhood was the mosquito truck.

The one that ran through our town was yellow with a flashing yellow light on the top, presumably to differentiate it from the police cars, who had red lights and didn't frighten mosquitoes at all.
The lure of the mosquito truck was the plume of cloudy mist that spewed out of the back.  It smelled like gasoline, and everyone knows that gasoline kills mosquitoes.  Like the fresh mimeographs that were handed out by our teachers, we couldn't resist getting our noses as close to it as possible.  Although, to my knowledge, the only thing the school's mimeographs killed was our will to live.  Mosquitoes lived merrily on.

When we saw the truck off in the distance - or smelled it, which usually happened first - we would rush to a strategic launching place and ride behind it on our bicycles.  In the middle of the misty burning smoke, the only thing we could see was the flashing yellow light.  We would travel behind this contraption for a mile or so.  Strangely, we never passed out or suffered any symptoms of smoke inhalation.

If you Google it, you'll find that the misty grey smoke was DDT, or as we know it, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.  Then, there is something about it being toxic, and bald eagles, birth defects ... blah, blah, blah.

What none of the reference materials mentioned was the hours of fun it provided for kids on their bicycles.  Sometimes, the fun is sapped out of life because something is deemed dangerous.  It's like we can't even enjoy the simple pleasure of peeling lead paint chips off the window sill anymore.

So, go ahead 21st Century kids, sit on your iPad and play your Angry Birds.  Text message your friends and post junk on Facebook.  You'll never know the pure aerobic toxic joy of pedaling along behind a truck billowing plumes of sweet-smelling, insect-killing compounds.

You soft fairies.