Monthly Archives: December 2012

About this GUN Thing…

pecking order

I have been giving this gun business a lot of thought.  Initially, for me anyway, it was a bit curious to see people flocking to gun dealers to purchase guns after crazy people commit mass murders.  I didn’t understand why people thought that having more guns would result in less people being killed with guns.  I didn’t understand why everyone didn’t see what I saw.  I saw a country with an embarrassingly absurd rate of gun deaths and an outrageously ridiculous rate of gun ownership and put the two together.  It was puzzling to me why everyone else didn’t do the same.  It took a while for me to understand that I was the one who didn’t get it.  I was the one who didn’t understand.

I would like to predict that there will be no new restrictive gun laws.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

America’s slipping position in the pecking order of nations combined with our misguided decision to shield our children from the horrors of academic competitiveness in our public schools, in an attempt to reduce stress, has damaged us culturally, psychologically and economically.   As Dr. Hans Selye, the pioneering scientist who almost single-handedly put stress on the map stated… “Stress IS NOT something to be avoided… Complete freedom from stress is death.”  In our foolish attempt to provide our children and, in many ways ourselves, with a stress free life we have destroyed our ability to thrive.  Without striving to achieve we cannot and DO NOT exercise control over our lives.  There is nothing more damaging to living organisms than a lack of control over their lives.

So, what do rats locked in cages do when they are deprived of control over their lives?   First of all they panic.  Next they go through disturbing changes in the way they see the world and their ability to learn new things almost disappears.  The ability to focus clearly on the facts around them decreases.  To protect themselves against the pain of the fear that comes with loss of control they generate the internal anesthetic endorphin.  Like morphine, its artificial equivalent, endorphin makes reality disappear and soothes by blinding the senses.  Relief is found by closing our eyes to the world around us.  Over time numerous degenerative diseases, neurological and psychological disturbances manifest themselves.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It damn well should.  So, here is the deal.  If you perceive that you have a reasonable degree of control over your life you have no need or desire to “protect” yourself with an arsenal of firearms.   If you consciously, or subconsciously, understand that you exercise little or no control over your life you will act as I indicated above and in panic mode run down to the gun store for another gun and more ammunition in response to hearing that someone else has been shot.

So why do I predict that there will be NO new restrictive gun laws?

Come on!  Do the fucking math.  Are there more americans who feel they have control over their lives, or, are there more who know damn well that they don’t?

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The Night Before Christmas 2112

Here comes Santa Clause

 

The stockings were hung on the towel rack with care,
in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
The commode has been scrubbed and it sure is a beauty.
For many an hour it won’t host a booty.
Cookies and milk were placed down on the tile,
and a fluffy dry towel to make Old Santa smile.
Up through the sewer he’ll come with his sack
bearing waterproofed presents, then he’ll go back.
Christmas has changed for each son and daughter.
The North Pole is gone!  There is nothing water.
The reindeer all drowned. The sleigh hasn’t been seen.
Santa resides in a big submarine.
He now enters our homes through the rusty old plumbing.
No more lights in the sky to predict when he’s coming.
Global Warming hit Santa much harder than me.
It don’t seem much like Christmas in the room where you pee.

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The Right Idea

My friend here was positive that he had all the right ideas.  By all accounts he was very highly skilled at explaining his ideas to others in a way that made them wholeheartedly agree.  He had more friends and loyal supporters than you could shake a stick at.  To say he was popular would be an understatement.  He was the cat’s pajamas.

This is what he looked like as a baby.

He sure was a cute little guy, even without the mustache.  The funny thing is, when you look at this picture, the mustache seems to be, somehow, missing.  Like it has every right to be there, but, isn’t.  Like if you could go back in time and bounce little Adolf on your knee until he giggled you would be thinking to yourself… “He just doesn’t look right without his mustache!  I know that is what I would be thinking because that face, even when it was a little face, is forever defined by that little square patch of hair beneath its nose even when that nose was a cute little button nose.   

Go ahead and look at that little face and then tell me something isn’t missing.  I rest my case.

There is something “wrong” with this X-Ray too.  At first you may not pick it up, but, inevitably I’m sure you will.

I get that same “There is something wrong” feeling whenever I look at a politician.  Most of the time I can’t put my finger on it, but, I always get that feeling.  In all honesty I have never met one that I trusted and I think the reason for that is a very personal one.  I could go into lengthy detail about my reasons, make them complicated, convoluted and elaborate.  I’m not going to though.  I will spare my reader that time.  I will just give it to you straight.  I don’t trust people who have a desire to tell other people what to do.  I don’t see that trait as anything but a shortcoming.  I am of the opinion that history gives us far more examples of why we should never trust people who have a desire to “tell other people what to do” than it does reasons to trust them.   I have always been of the opinion that our governmental representation should be selected exclusively by lottery and that, by law, they should have to return to their original home towns for a minimum of 10 years when their terms as political representatives comes to a close.  Should they refuse to take office once they have been chosen they should be forced to spend the length of what would be their term in federal prison.  I am also of the opinion that they should all, even the women, be forced to sport Hitler mustaches throughout their entire term of office.

The mustache will encourage us all to keep a close eye on them and make it difficult for them to ever forget the sacred trust they have been given.

Of course, it will also be hilarious.  There is never enough of that to go around for me.

Merry Christmas from the shores of Lake Cayuga.  It’s snowing, as it should be at this time of year.  If you look down closely you can probably see me waving you all a Happy New Year.

 

 

 

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In the Waiting Room

Waiting Room, monday morning 9:00am

Some days I go to work.  I turn on all the lights and water the plants if it is a watering day.  I fire up the computer and turn off the answering machine.  The phone starts to ring out front and I can tell people are coming in the door because one of the ceiling tiles in my back office moves up and down ever so slightly when someone opening the door changes the air pressure in the office.  It’s my secret.  The tile makes a sound that isn’t a squeak and it isn’t a scrape.  It can probably best be described as a combination of both that ends up something like a sigh.  It’s Show Time!

It never looks this bad in my waiting room.  Some days it gets pretty close though.  On the other hand, to the patients, I’m quite sure it feels every bit as bad as this looks because, to put it bluntly, it really sucks to be in pain.

While my patients are in one waiting room, the rest of us are in another.  Ours doesn’t have [Waiting Room] written on the door.  There doesn’t even have to be a door at all, but, nevertheless, we are all just waiting to hear, feel, or somehow realize that…..  We are next.

Life is what we do to kill time in the “waiting room”.  It’s a metaphor and that is never to be confused with a “petit four”.

Assorted Petit fours

Petit fours look like this.   They are delicious, but, sometimes overly sweet.  If it didn’t matter how fat you got you could eat these all day long off a big tray.  When someone else came by to say hello, or, marvel at your astounding girth, you could say with a mouth full of half chewed petit four, ..Have a Petit four, won’t you?  Just to be polite they probably would.

I think eating Petit fours is like reading an old copy of National Geographic, or, Better Homes and Gardens.  It’s like going to school, having sex, planting snap peas and sitting around the kitchen table with the wife and planning a surprise trip to Disney World with the remarkable grandkids.  It’s like EVERYTHING we do that serves to pass the time (tick-tock-tick-tock) and distract us from where we are and what we are all waiting for.  We are waiting our turn and it pisses us off to find nothing but old magazines, with dog-eared pages, from 2009 to distract us.  That was a metaphor too.  Waiting is bad enough, but, being bored while waiting is, for some, utterly intolerable.  They go bungee jumping, cheat on their spouses, or, decide to get something in Chinese tattooed on their ass.  There is simply no end to the mischief people can be counted on to get themselves into, in the Waiting Room of life.  No end to the stories they won’t dream up to tell themselves and no activity too absurd or bizarre.  Start a family, get a real estate license, take up fly fishing, consume mind altering drugs… it’s all the same.  It’s all an attempt to forget we are in line for the dirt nap and, worse than that, we don’t know where in that line we are.

My waiting room is just a sub-set of THE Waiting Room.  Metaphorically you understand.  We are all in there somewhere waiting our turn, pretending we are up to important things, things that matter, things that have meaning.  The key word there is “pretend” because that’s all it is.  I bet 10,000 years ago everybody spent their days pretending they were up to important things… thinking important thoughts… feeling important feelings.  How funny is that?

I have come to understand that nothing is important unless we pretend it to be, and that only can last as long as we are there to pretend.  I can’t tell you how liberating that was.  Curiously enough people notice this “in you” and a day hardly ever goes by without someone remarking, in a nice way, … “You know you are crazy, don’t you?”  

Well, I think that must be the point this little essay is leading up to.  The sweet liberation that comes with achieving the golden balance between crazy and competent.  Having people, patients especially, know you are nuts, but, line up for your care and advice.  NOT in spite of it mind you, but, BECAUSE of it.

Helping people with difficult problems is more addictive than heroin, especially if you are any good at it.

All this has helped me understand what it must have been like to have been a Shaman in some primitive society, group, or tribe.  They had no science, yet, curiously enough, they held more power and respect than any other member of their group.  Far more than doctors do today in spite of the fact that they didn’t HAVE effective medicine… they WERE effective medicine.  They acted crazy as shit… crazy as bedbugs.  They didn’t decrease the number of microorganisms, viruses or parasites in their patients…. they gave their patients strength to overcome them through sheer force of will and the power of magic.  Imagine that.  Magic.

We call some of that the placebo effect today and we say it as if it were something dirty, like cheating.  We say it as if it happens to stupid people, or, to people who weren’t really sick to begin with.  We can be such pompous asses at times.

Many years ago I treated a woman with Stage 3 Lyme disease.  Her husband had been a patient.  He was a director of music videos.  He had just finished one for Billy Idle called White Wedding.  He was a hoot and he asked me if I would consult with his wife.  She had completed a long round of antibiotics in the local hospital with no improvement.  It was the second attempt at lengthy intravenous antibiotic treatment.  She was experiencing all the classic symptoms.  Joint swelling, pain, vision problems, numbness, memory difficulty… the works.  Beyond that she was feeling absolutely horrible as a result of the antibiotics.

I spent two hours talking to her.  She had a Masters in Fine Art from Harvard, studied all over Europe and made a nice living as a fine artist.  She was an ardent follower of a person called “Gurumayi” who ran a Hindu Ashram in Fallsburg New York.  Her form of meditation-worship was dancing, chanting and twisting in a circle.  I asked her to describe this dancing and if she had been continuing her dancing during her illness.  She replied, “Yes, but I have so much pain and so little strength that I can no longer continue.”  She then began to weep.

I asked her if she was aware that Lyme Disease was caused by bacterial pathogen called Borrelia burgdorferi and that it was a spirochete and that means it looks like a corkscrew.  She replied that she had heard that.  I next told her that I was going to ask her a very important question and that she should think about it and be very sure about her answer.  She became very serious and said she was ready.  I asked her if she ALWAYS danced in the same direction and was that direction clockwise, or, counterclockwise.  She said… “Yes, always counterclockwise”.

I informed her that Borrelia burgdorferi was a counterclockwise wound spirochete. (I honestly couldn’t remember off the top of my head how it was wound)…  Her eyes became as big as saucers.  She exclaimed, “That’s it!  All this time my dancing has been making them stronger and stronger!”  I asked her if she knew what she had to do now and she replied…. YES!  YES!  “I must dance clockwise and drive them from my body.”

To cut a long story short her infectious disease specialist was dumfounded two weeks later when her blood work came back clean and her symptoms had disappeared.  To quote an old saying, “Drastic problems call for drastic solutions.”

Oh, and it helps at times not to be afraid to be crazy.  You will have to excuse me now.  I must go and drive the demons from my wife’s washing machine.  It’s making that awful noise again.

 

 

 

 

 

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That Makes Sense

Knit Sausages

I live in a very “Christian” part of America.  I live dangerously close to the largest Fundamentalist Christian “University” in the world.  The earth is only 6 to 10 thousand years old here and it is possible to turn gay people straight if everybody prays hard enough.  Around here every time an automobile accident happens and nobody gets killed it is because Jesus was looking out for the people involved.  When someone does get killed it’s because God had a good reason for it and it’s OK because they are in a better place now.  Even when people around here get cancer it’s only because, for reasons that forever may remain obscure, God knew that they needed it.  The phrase one hears over and over when something unfortunate happens is…. Everything happens for a reason.

Welcome to my world.

Living here has taught me some very valuable lessons.  They say that everybody should travel and broaden their horizons and I think the reason “they” say that is because it does us all good to learn that different cultures have very different ways of making sense of the world and the lives we all live on it.

What they don’t tell you, what they don’t warn you about is the danger.

I called this little essay “That Makes Sense” because, it seems to me, that is the one phrase we want to tell ourselves over and over again.  As long as we can say that to ourselves, inside our heads, all is well with the world.  It means we know what is going on and it is going on according to plan.  No rules are being broken.  There is no reason to worry.  Everything is cool.

It’s when we find ourselves saying, inside our own heads, “That doesn’t make ANY sense“, that the trouble begins.  That’s when we get nervous.  That’s when our blood pressure goes up and sleep eludes us.  That’s when things can get dangerous.  That’s when we say to ourselves… “I just can’t live with this not knowing and not understanding!”

Welcome to OUR world.

It is quite amusing when you really think about it, but, there is absolutely NOTHING we won’t believe, nothing we won’t convince ourselves of if it permits us to say, now…”that makes sense” instead of… “that doesn’t make ANY sense”.  The sky is the limit when it comes to the crazy things we will believe if it permits us to exchange that second statement for the first.  Our imagination knows no bounds when it comes to manufacturing reasons for things.  One might even conclude that, if we have a purpose, it can only be to make sense out of something that doesn’t make any sense.

So there you have the answer to the BIG question…. What are people for?

People exist in this universe for one reason and one reason only.  People exist to MAKE sense out of something that, in and of itself, makes no sense at all.  Understanding that and understanding that no matter how screwy other people appear to be with their crazy headed explanations for this and that they are just doing their job to the best of their ability.  You can scratch your head over it.  You can think to yourself… “How the hell…”  Or, you can just kick back and appreciate the magnificent, unending variation of all the stories, schemes and excuses people can come up with for anything… and be amazed at the skill they show in persuading others to agree with them.

In a way it’s almost like music, or, painting, or, dancing….

Undeniably it is an art form.  In my opinion it is the highest of all the arts and, in the end, the only one we are incapable of ever living without.

[Post Script]

I had a bowl of soup for lunch and assumed a supine position on the couch in preparation for my daily nap.  As I made myself comfortable it occurred to me that, perhaps, people are like beavers in that show I viewed a while back, on NOVA, Public Broadcasting.

They said that beavers don’t “plan” to build a  dam.  They said that beavers just get really pissed off at the sound of running water and pile crap up in an attempt to stop the sound.  When people filming the beavers put a hole in one of their dams  the beavers got really pissed off and scurried right over to the hole and filled it in with sticks and mud until all the noise stopped.

Maybe we are like that…… except with question marks.

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The Running Away

I can remember once telling my mother that I was going to run away.  I was a little boy.  I can’t remember what earth shattering problem lead me to threaten my mother with abandonment like that, but, I will always remember what she said back.

I'm out-a-here!

“Let me go get the suitcase and I will help you pack.”

Not Happy

Needless to say this was not the response I was hoping for.  The lesson was learned.  Running away from problems was not an option for me.

That was a long time ago.  My mother has been gone over 30 years and my 44th wedding anniversary is coming up next week.  12/12/12 is the big day.  Forty-four years is a wicked long time to be married to the same person without running away.  The fact that we are together practically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is enough to make many people ask us… “How the hell do you do that?”  We don’t know.  My theory is that over the years and being together almost 24/7 we have somehow melded together into one individual, with two bodies.  Perhaps the only reason none of us has run away is we can’t.  You can’t run away from yourself and, perhaps, that is why so many marriages fail these days.  Unlike in times past, married couples spend so little time together today.  Perhaps, just not enough to form the “melding” of personalities that makes it all work out.  I don’t know, but, I do know this…  As I (we) get older we are less and less interested in and tolerant of other people.  They piss us off more frequently than they ever did.   Me more than her.

I remember my wife’s grandfather.  He was once Justice of the Peace in Hoboken, New Jersey.  He didn’t have a tooth in his head when I met him.  He was so afraid of dentists that he had, one by one, pulled them all out himself with pliers over the years as they went bad.  He hated Ed Sullivan.  He called Ed Sullivan a “God Damn Jew”, but, he NEVER missed “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Sunday nights.  He would sit in his chair chewing peanuts with his rock-hard gums and say, “Listen to that Jew“.   When I was dating my not-yet-then wife he would always ask me to come out to the garage to look at something or other.  That was code.  What he wanted was to bum cigarettes.  In return for a few cigarettes he would always pour me a glass of sherry, out in the garage. To this day I can’t taste sherry without thinking of him.  He had told his wife that he quit smoking and for years she pretended that she didn’t know he bummed cigarettes off all his three granddaughter’s boyfriends.

My wife’s grandparents were married for 62 years when her grandmother died.  She died a few months before Thanksgiving.  The whole extended family got together for Thanksgiving that year at my wife’s sister’s house.  We all tried to cheer Grandpa up as best we could, but, he only got more and more pissed off at the lot of us.  My wife’s sister’s husband had a business partner who was Mexican.   I remember that Grandpa asked if “That God Damned Mexican” was going to be here again this year.  I can remember laughing my ass off at that because it was just “so” Grandpa.

The point of this tale is this:   When my sister-in-law brought a nice plate of turkey and trimmings to Grandpa I was sitting close enough to hear what he said.  He said….  “You people don’t get it, do you?  I don’t want any food.  I just want out of here.”

None of us understood that at the time.  There was some talk of taking him to the doctor for his “depression”.  He was dead before Christmas.

I understand it now.  I understand why when people are married for a long time and one of them dies the other wants to run away.  You can call it depression, but, I call it being siamese twins who share a heart and realizing, one day, that half your body, the part with the heart, is now gone.  It seems less not “wanting” to go on…  than being not “capable” of going on.   There should be another name for that than depression.  It cheapens the whole thing… doesn’t do it justice somehow.

What I remember most about Grandpa is that, it seemed, he hated everybody.  So much for hate and anger shortening your life.  What I admired most about the old crank was his outstanding gardening ability.  To this day I have never seen flowers grow as tall and look as healthy as they did in Grandpa’s yard.  I have tried all my adult life to raise flowers like Grandpa did.

This weekend my wife will make home made pizza from her Grandmother’s Sicilian recipe.  It’s the best pizza I have ever eaten and I can eat me some pizza. We will sit on the couch on Sunday night, eat pizza, and I will bitch about somebody, or, something.

We will laugh like hell to ourselves.

 

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The Visual Metaphor

Remember Me?

I had [C-SPAN-2] Booknotes on the tube early this morning in the other room while I was getting set up to water my orchids.  I soak them a few at a time in a big 5 gallon tub.  In the background I hear a woman discussing her book  “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else”.   Her name is Chrystia Freeland and the thing I heard that caught my ear and got me thinking was this tidbit of information.  Two of the richest men in America own more than over one hundred million other Americans do, collectively.

As fate would have it I heard this shocking (to me at least) bit of information while I was loading up the tub with some of the members of my Phalaenopsis orchids collection.  The phalaenopsis orchid is what they call monopodial. That simply means that it always has just one main stem.  At this time of year that “main stem” is growing and preparing for the day it will produce magnificent flowers.  What it is, actually, is a long neck and a great deal of care must be taken to protect that neck during watering, or, moving of any kind.  It is very fragile and any damage will result in ending any hope of flowers.  In other words… If you cut the neck, that’s all she wrote!

As the author of the book went on with her dissertation on how badly the “Plutocrats” are fucking over the rest of the human beings on planet earth, grabbing FAR MORE than they need, or, could ever use while 50,000 human beings starve to death each day I got to thinking how much they, the Plutocrats that is, resemble Phalaenopsis orchids.  Such thin and vulnerable necks.

The author went on to discuss how a very, very small group of obscenely wealthy Americans have hijacked our government and made a mockery of any claim we may think we have to being a democracy.. “Of the People and By the People”.   She clearly demonstrated that you would have to be a real idiot not to see that our politicians were owned by the rich and beholden to them for their office.  She elaborated with regard to just how thoroughly the common working people in America have been screwed… and made to enjoy it.

I got to thinking how much organized religion plays a part in this and how the Plutocrats of every age have gone out of their way to support and promote religious fervor.  I read the following in a Blog that shall remain nameless.  The poor bastard who wrote it has enough to be embarrassed about.

“Religion is a crumbling institution in this country, and I believe a long, introspective search with the intent of rediscovering its roots is the only process that might save it. Organized religion has strayed and taken distant paths away from its true message of love and compassion to the community of mankind.”

OK, how far up your ass does your head have to be to not know that the purpose of religion has NOTHING to do with …love and compassion to the community of mankind…?   Obviously this clown never read his Bible where God demanded the grizzly death of any and all who dared to disobey His Holy Laws.

The purpose of religion is to offer an escape from death to those within a group who agree that a specific supernatural (and usually farcical) tale is REALLY TRUE and not ridiculous bullshit after all.   It’s group dissociation.  It’s pretending, in a group, that reality is what we wish it is.

And what do these poor souls get for all this pretending… and WHY would the Plutocrats support this nonsense so steadfastly?   EASY!  The ignorant poor get the God given promise that no matter how miserable their life is on earth… In the NEXT life they will be riding high on the hog and the greedy fat cats will have their faces in the dirt.  They get the bullshit promise of living forever gloriously!

The Plutocrats?   They get the best deal and the most out of the bargain as usual.   They get to pretend that it is God’s Will that they are stinking rich and furthermore that it is God’s Will that less fortunate people are starving to death for lack of what the Plutocrats have more of than they can possibly use.

Tell me THAT ain’t a neat trick.  Fat Cat Republicans can ALWAYS be counted on to support Fundamentalist Christian Crack-Pots.  Those oil rich brothers who funded Republican candidates with hundreds of millions of dollars support Fundamentalist Christianity 100%   How can you not laugh?  Oil moguls “pretending” to believe that the very earth they suck the oil out of is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old.  Their ENTIRE business model is reality based and reality is that the carbon that became oil was laid down during… The Carboniferous period  a geologic period and system that extends from the end of the Devonian Period, about 359.2 ± 2.5 Ma (million years ago), to the beginning of the Permian Period, about 299.0 ± 0.8 Ma.

The bastards go on to “pretend” with the religious nuts that men and dinosaurs lived together and that global warming and concern for overpopulation and wholesale pollution of our entire planet are nothing to worry about.  A liberal, atheist plot to turn man away from God who is and will continue to take care of everything.  Talk about willful ignorance!

So I got to thinking.  The vast majority of people are entirely too terrified of the prospect of their own death to be of any value in restoring our democracy.  They will trade ANYTHING…. Believe ANYTHING… if it promises them they won’t “really” die.  Religion IS their opium and they want nothing to do with kicking the habit.

So, perhaps it’s up to those of us who are not addicted to point the finger toward the future.  Perhaps we owe it to the Plutocrats to remind them of how this nonsense ALWAYS ends.  Perhaps, just for educational purposes mind you, we should construct two guillotines.  One outside The Capitol.  Another outside The New York Stock Exchange.

Then, of course, we could distribute millions of round colorful guillotine stickers to be placed where ever and whenever we found Plutocrats at work, or, at play.

Perhaps we could fund all this through a tax exempt foundation?  But, what could we call it?  I don’t know… how about  [The Word to the Wise Foundation] ?

 

[Happy Birthday Tommy]

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