Part of Ancient History, Under the Radar (which is where I like to be…)

68toyotacoronacoupeThe above pictured Corona is older than me.  Not by much, because this is a 1968 Corona.  Unlike me, when this car was new it had 90 BHP and would (theoretically) do 90 MPH. Maybe it would with the standard “four on the floor.”  I can assure you no conventional automatic transmission paired with a 90 BHP engine will do that unless one is traveling downhill with a hefty tail wind.  If only Toyota had discovered the wonderful benefits of treating their body panels with rust preventative processes before 1988, there might still be some of these around here in Ohio. The drivetrains on these old beasts would last forever.  Sad thing is, today when one says “Corona,” it is usually in reference to an overrated Mexican beer.  Then again, I am biased because I simply don’t care for any kind of beer.  It all tastes like ear wax smells.

corona beerYuk.

In some respects there isn’t a whole lot lingering around that is older than me, at least things that haven’t been demolished, renovated or added onto.  That’s difficult for me in terms of appreciating architecture because I am very much a purist and I hate to see modern junk tacked onto beautiful old façades, windows bricked over, or lovely varnished woodwork painted over.

I understand today that nobody cares about the aesthetic in architecture- function is all that matters, even though that has led to the proliferation of churches that look like pole barns and houses that look like cardboard boxes. The schools that were torn down in the 1990s were replaced by prefabbed monstrosities that are reminiscent of prisons. It is wrong to warehouse children in such bleak surroundings devoid of light and beauty, but in a way it’s “right,” if you think about what’s going on behind those walls.

Today’s schools are little more than holding cells to help prevent the kiddies from shoplifting, battery and assault during the daytime hours.  Their minds are being filled with feel-good garbage while their parents are out scoring drugs and creating more children they can’t support and refuse to educate.  There is a sad irony in this only in that today’s educational system is all about political and social indoctrination and not about critical thinking or aspiring to something beyond one’s self, but I digress.  The dumbing down of public education was just beginning when I was in elementary school. I dare say that the quality of public education will not improve until every person who cares about his or her offspring’s education refuses to enroll them in the public schools.

I can appreciate the beauty of a Gothic cathedral, though I admit I seldom have time to seek out a time for prayer and solace in one.

canterbury-cathedral.jpgIf I ever make my way to England, I will have to check out the Canterbury Cathedral.

I know it’s dangerous to wax nostalgic, especially because not everything was better in the “good old days,” but there are some things from 50 years ago (not necessarily the old Corona pictured above) that might have been worth keeping around.

Penny candy is a good example.  Especially those wax cola bottles with the mystery liquid inside.  Or candy cigarettes.  Political correctness be damned.

penny candy

Then again, the fact that candy is significantly more expensive keeps me from being tempted to indulge in it.

Of course, music.  My playlists pretty much end by 1985. There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, there is not much beyond Steve Perry.

steve-perry

I like remaining under the radar on my birthday.  It’s kind of fun to just observe the day quietly.  Every day that Obama is NOT president is a good day. Sort of like it’s a good day when I’m remaining vertical and still sucking up valuable oxygen.  Been doing that (more or less) for 50 years straight now.

In some ways it’s hard to come to terms with being 50 years old.  There are days in which I feel like a piece of ancient history, and others when it doesn’t seem that long.

I’m old enough to know that there is no such thing as permanence- at least not in this lifetime.  Entropy is alive and well in this world.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

A Dearth of Reference Points, February Funk, and Wisdom from Dante

 

winter miseryIt’s February again.  That shortest month of the year, and the month in which the most people die. I think people just give up in February.  Christmas is long over (not that I am a great fan of the holiday hype,) and winter seems to just keep hanging on.  Most people are still paying for the crap they blithely and wantonly purchased for Christmas, that the kids have either broken or gotten bored with already. If you’re going to go, why not now? All hope abandon, ye who enter here.

That is a morbid thought, and I am no stranger to morbid thoughts.  I am always pulling worst case scenarios out of my imagination.  I should write horror movies, or at least get to narrate a guided tour of the Mütter Museum.  (I should get to actually go to Philadelphia to see the Mütter Museum…it’s on my bucket list.)

This morning’s drive was particularly sucky.  40-50MPH winds combined with temperatures in the low 20s and snow squalls meant that not only was the car being blown around, but there were little patches of ice hiding beneath that blowing snow.  I got here OK and with little incident, but some jackwagon in a Jeep Wrangler bought a trip to the ditch, likely arising from the erroneous assumption that 4 wheel drive makes one invincible.

Days like this remind me of my own fallibility and mortality more than I would like. Yes I know I screw up (a lot) and that every passing day I’m (to quote Pink Floyd’s song, “Time”) one day closer to death.

Days like this remind me of how not normal I am too.  Maybe it’s the overwhelming fatigue, or the inevitable joint pain that accompanies a low barometer, but I suspect it’s something deeper than weather. I went to the Dr. just the other day and my labs and such are mostly normal, so I probably don’t have any additional health failures. Even so, I am so tired I could sleep for weeks.

Maybe I am still guilt tripping.  Call it survivor’s guilt or maybe worse.  It’s not right to feel as if a weight has been lifted from me.  I feel like I don’t deserve a normal life…and maybe it’s not.  I don’t have a clue what “normal” is, nor have I ever had an accurate frame of reference and it scares me.  I don’t know what I am supposed to feel.  Then again, feeling anything always seems foreign to me.

I needed an extended sabbatical a long time ago but for various reasons that wasn’t able to happen. So I have to take bits and pieces of mental rest and reflection where I can get them.  Sometimes drive time is good for that.  Not lately, because driving is stressful when the weather sucks, but sometimes. I should have a Cougar Nap Saturday coming up and I will take advantage of that if I can.  If I take a few hours to just nap and watch reality TV (Botched is a good one, or The Incredible Dr. Pol, if I am in the mood for watching farm animals) on a Saturday, who can blame me?

I do need to set up a time (probably next Saturday) to get my oil changed and tires rotated, or I might arrange to drop the car off one day next week and drive the truck.

I am not looking forward to my birthday, which I hope most people I know will overlook. Usually they do because it’s at the end of February, when the winter funk and the it’s-not-quite-winter but-definitely-not-spring blecch season is in full swing in Ohio.

I think I might decide to set up some sort of weekend getaway sometime soon.  Maybe.

And it is quite OK to forget my birthday.

 

 

The Dismality of February, and This Will All Thaw Someday

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Oh, the dismality of February yet again.  There is a reason why February only has 28 days (at least for three out of four years,) and that’s to put a lid on the number of people who die in February.  If February were 30 or 31 days, half the damn population would die in February, and that would just be weird.  We have to spread the death throughout the year better.  Not that everyone should die from heat stroke in July, but jeez.  I can understand losing the will to live when it is 90° and 100% humidity if there’s no air conditioning, perhaps a bit more than most, because I am not at all equipped for high temperatures.  I can abide cold a far sight better than extreme heat.

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But at least in July there is sunlight, and Ohio winters are notoriously dark and sunless. I can go all week without seeing sunlight save for maybe a ray or two on the weekend-  unless there is a damned blizzard going on.  And even if the damned blizzard is going on and it’s 4° below, Target still has nothing but bathing suits, tank tops, sandals and sleeveless dresses on display.  If I need a parka, I will have to wait until July when they put them back out.

Here in central Ohio we have been enduring a rather harsher than normal winter.  Oh, yippee skippy, because I just adore driving in ice and snow.  I’m all about those below zero temperatures too.  There is simply nothing like one’s ass freezing to the toilet seat unless I break down and turn on the space heater in the bathroom.

“Spring” will arrive someday. Probably sometime in May there will come a day when my back yard will transform from frozen tundra into Dog Shit Lake overnight.  Oh, the smell of Spring in the air.  Temperatures will go from -4° to 90° and 100% humidity within the span of about 12 hours.  There is really no Spring in Ohio. There is just arctic cold and wind, followed by stygian heat, usually accompanied by torrential rain.

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This is Brutus, the Catahoula^ (Catahoula Bed Hog Dog)

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This was Clara^ (God rest her sweet soul) the Malinois

Note to self: the 80# Catahoula shits according to his size.  For those unaccustomed to dogs, for an example, a 65# Malinois has the strength to overpower a 300# man.  The 65# Malinois consumes, and disposes of about the same number of calories as a 300# man every day. Imagine that kind of waste load deposited in your back yard every day for six months from October until the May Thaw arrives.

In all fairness, since a Malinois is an ultra high energy, high metabolism dog, a 65# Malinois and an 80# Catahoula are pretty much identical in strength, energy consumed, and waste put down.  My paradigms have been pretty much the same for awhile.

There’s going to be a lot of dog shit to deal with.

You Know Who You Are, and the Past Should Stay There

chewrestraints

Every now and then I entertain myself with a game of “what if,” even if that game simply reinforces the feeling and the thought that I have spent the last year walking away (relatively unscathed) from a 20+ year long train wreck.

Perhaps I have some “survivor’s guilt” and maybe a panic attack now and then, but even a necessary amputation is going to leave a scar.

I wondered if the 1 year anniversary of Jerry’s death would be traumatic.  Not so much. I spent a rather lovely day with family, and the date didn’t cross my mind until someone brought it up.

I do wonder if my experience of grief (or the lack thereof) is cold and heartless- because I don’t really miss him. He had managed to kill any affection I had for him long before he died. Between the alcoholic rages, browbeating, name calling and other indignities, I had gotten beyond angry and went straight to numb. I can’t say I have felt much of anything except maybe relief.

It used to be common wisdom (though we know better now) that children were born as tabula rasa, or with a clean slate- no experience, no biases, no predispositions.  In some ways I feel sort of like that, as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but then I feel as if I should have some kind of sadness.  Maybe I do feel a bit melancholy for years wasted or opportunities lost, but not what I would really call regret or even mourning.

I don’t think I am a heartless bitch.  Maybe numbness is a lot better than unforgiveness or just plain rage.

 

 

Gunfights vs. Knife Fights, and Killers Will Be Killers

early cuyler

Oh, let me play devil’s advocate today.

Nobody is ever going to hear gun control horse hockey coming from my mouth, pen or keyboard.

First of all I am a card carrying member of the NRA. I am all about 2nd Amendment rights, and even more so in the wake of senseless mass shootings.  As far as I am concerned, the average citizen should be armed, everywhere and at all times, so that it can safely be assumed everyone is packing heat. I believe there is no greater deterrent to gun crime than having the knowledge that a law abiding gun owner will return fire.  I carry and I will continue to do so.

The issue is NOT gun control, or who can have what weapon. It’s obvious that criminals don’t obey laws or there would be no murders, no thefts, no rapes, and we would all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. The fact about legislation is, laws only work for law-abiding people.  There is no way to legislate crime out of business.  If such a thing were possible, then as soon as God sent down the Ten Commandments to Moses all would have been good with the world.  Sadly murder is as old as Cain and Abel, and it has always been a part of the human narrative. It’s something called original sin, or to borrow from one of my favorite theologians- John Calvin (though I am not a Calvinist- I am more of a confessional Lutheran/ Molinist, I am with him on this one)- the total depravity of man. Given to our own devices, apart from the grace of God, human beings are intrinsically evil.  Anyone who doubts that, go to a daycare and watch a room full of two year olds interact, or go to an automotive shop and secretly observe the technicians’ behavior for a day.  You will see more depravity of man than what should ever be allowed.

One can make weapons more difficult to get, but ultimately it’s not about weapons. Deny the nut job his AR-15, and he will find a way to make a box truck and some fertilizer a weapon of mass destruction.

In the UK, where guns are banned, killers substitute knives like they are some kind of twisted Early Cuylers. Death and injury are easy to inflict on the fragile human body, and as those who work in corrections will attest, criminals are adept at creating their own weapons using anything from underwear to plastic spoons.

So do we ban box trucks or fertilizer or underwear or plastic spoons simply because some depraved jackwagon can turn these things into weapons?

Some will argue that guns are made for only one purpose, which is to kill. I am not going to argue with that, nor am I going to argue that one needs an AR-15 to go out and shoot a deer.  However, the 2nd Amendment was never about procuring venison, regardless of how tasty venison can be.  The 2nd Amendment was and is about the individual’s right to defend one’s home, family and property.  This means that an individual has a right to use deadly force if his or her life (or the lives of his or her family) is threatened. We have the right to self-defense.

The role of the gun as a deterrent is often overlooked, but whose house would a criminal plan to rob? An organized killer (one who thinks and plans ahead) is going to try to avoid those homes with guns and/ or dogs, because killing defenseless victims is a lot easier than fighting armed ones.

Gun laws or the lack thereof would have had absolutely no impact on Stephen Paddock or his carefully planned assault on the Las Vegas strip. Enacting knee jerk motivated gun control laws now is about as effective as closing the barn door when the horses had never been in the barn to begin with.

Spoiled Slackers, Thou Protest The Wrong Things

consequences

I believe in the First Amendment.  I also believe that actions have consequences, and that rights come with obligations.  This  being said, the controversy about sports players protesting the national anthem speaks volumes not only on those who think it fitting to spit on the graves of those who fought and died for our country, but on those who approve of such disrespect.

Anyone has the right to protest anything, as long as that protest does not involve destruction of property or injury to others. Your First Amendment rights end when those rights interfere with my right to my person and property.  Even as despicable and odious as such “protests” that disrespect our nation and our Veterans are, they have the right to do it.  They also have the obligation to face the consequences of their actions.

Today’s younger generations – starting sadly with Boomers and GenXers, and to a toxic extent among Millenials, have no sense of history because history is barely taught. The rudimentary “history” taught in today’s public schools is nothing more than a leftist diatribe that condemns traditional American values, throws on an unjustified white guilt trip (reverse racism) while lifting up globalism and socialism. Both globalism and socialism are failed and defeatist systems.  The former USSR and present-day Venezuela are good examples of how leftist principles in government (don’t) work.

When one doesn’t understand history, and when the popular faux history that is widely taught demonizes American nationalism and American hegemony, and one mistakes celebrity soundbites for Gospel truth, any kind of poison and inanity can be easily spread around.  All it takes is for one jackwagon who would be better off sticking to carrying a football to run his mouth without consulting the facts to create a controversy that should never exist.

We as a nation should know better than to entertain the race card, especially when the accusations of “oppression” come from someone who has never known it.  I find it hard to believe that football players who make millions of dollars a year in the NFL are “persecuted” or denied opportunity due to their race.

It is true that equality of opportunity does not guarantee equality of outcome. One’s race is not a hindrance to education, employment or opportunities.  One’s culture, upbringing and lack of personal ambition are hindrances to all of the above though, which should cause individuals to look at him or her selves first.

Before you scream “Oppression!” look in the mirror.  It is necessary to ask, and not just of the black community but also of certain white communities as well who have bought into the governmental dependency cycle, to look in the mirror.  If you expect the world or the government to give you everything without you having to earn it, you are the problem.  Only you can fix it.  Not the government, not “whitey,” but you.  Rights have obligations.  Get off the welfare dole and do some sort of meaningful work. Put down the crack pipe.  Stop killing each other. Start working with law enforcement to clean up our communities.

Do you have the right to protest the national anthem and/or to disrespect our country and our flag.  Yes you do.  I also have the right to call you out for the despicable fool you are.

 

 

A Tired Theme: The End of The World for the Thousandth (or More) Time!

everythingsuckingPragmatism is my way of life.  It keeps me from having too much faith in humankind.  I may not be a Calvinist as far as my theology, but I go along with Calvin 100% regarding the Total Depravity of Man. Even though I intentionally try to avoid the news, because as far as I’m concerned mainstream news is nothing but proof that Orwell was right, I do have to go out and deal with people in places like Walmart.  Devolution has been going on ever since the Fall, and there isn’t enough chlorine to fix the human gene pool.

Let’s face it, most people suck.  If people didn’t suck, God wouldn’t have to tell us to be nice to them.  Being nice to other people takes work because they suck. I suck as well.  We all suck, which is why we are so crappy to each other. There are plenty of things in this world that completely suck too. Buck up, buttercup, and deal. I can buck the natural progression in subtle ways, but I can’t change the parameters humanity has been given.  As long as we are in these bodies, on this planet, things are going to suck.

I am wildly amused by date setters- people who think they have nailed the date and the time of the End of the World (even though Jesus tells us not to, and you don’t have to be a fantastic theologian to figure it out, just read Matthew 24:24-36 .)  Nobody knows when the world’s going to end.  I don’t particularly want to know, any more than I want to know when I will drop dead.  The surprise is part of the fun.

I am not afraid of death.  I just hope it’s a matter of going to bed and waking up dead.  Jerry was fortunate that way in that’s how he went.  He wanted to stay out of the hospital (especially after watching the hospital completely ignore his Dad’s Living Will and DNR orders) and he managed to do that.  Pain is what I am most afraid of- a long, suffering lingering death.  Pain and suffocation. I’ve always had a thing about suffocation especially because that was one of the torments my sisters loved to engage in when I was a little kid.  Just sit on your younger sibling until she turns blue and stops moving, and/or Dad thinks it’s getting too quiet, so he gets off the couch to investigate, sees that one of his offspring is losing consciousness, and makes you get up off of her.  What a fun game!

If I am given a choice I just want to go to bed and wake up dead. But that’s not for me to decide.

Our friend David Meade claims the world’s going to end tomorrow.  If that’s true then I shouldn’t have bought that pack of new underwear or bothered to stock up my fridge for next week.

I think I might just chill to the REM song End of the World as We Know It a few more times.