Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The View Between Heaven and Earth

"The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos."
Stephen Jay Gould

Watching the cable news networks in this country has become problematic for me. Not only have they largely become one-sided affairs with most discussions involving only supporting members of a particular issue but for the longest time the American news media have taken a jaundice view on global events with the United States the ultimate center of everything in the world.

Everything is viewed in the context of how it affects this country whether it is a natural disaster killing thousands overseas or another country’s government telling the United States they will not go along with whatever foolish, and possibly illegal military adventure that strikes our fancy at the time. Despite this egotistical attitude the truth of the matter is that very little of what Americans worry, argue, and fight about will be remembered a couple of hundred years from now.

This refined American idea of superiority has been around for a long time and partners nicely with the general human arrogance that we naked primates are the center of the universe. While religion lost the war putting Earth at the center of creation long ago, individually that is still how most view their existence. For the affluent our lives have become a neatly contained universe all themselves even if our daily struggle is nothing more dangerous than dealing with the demands of living in a Western consumerist society. A far cry from the small child in Africa wondering where his or her next meal or drink of water will come from or a Mexican father caught in the middle of a drug war and fearing what might happen to his family.

At best our concerns bleed over to our families and maybe a few close friends because for most of our species time on the planet small groups were all we could manage.Tribalism, in various forms, is something we understand and will fall back on instinctively when things start to go bad. Realistically, its not pretty but it is basic human nature encoded into our very DNA since the number one survival trait is to pass on our genes to the next generation. The ultimate struggle we face as an intelligent species will be the need to overcome our primitive instincts and fears and realize that cooperation and inclusion enhances the chances of survival of everyone.   

It is my hope and the subject of my weak prayers that similar forces that made us choose civilization over continuing with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle will make us look beyond our narrow and tired concerns. Excuse my semi-intelligent rant but every now and them something comes along that, at least to me, gives a real hint at the true scope of existence. Special thanks to Nance over at “Mature Landscaping” for bringing my attention to this remarkable video.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving? Not for the turkey

As I was sitting back in my favorite chair yesterday afternoon sipping yet another fine Mexican beer the very attractive and highly intelligent news babe on MSNBC was explaining how President Obama had just pardoned two turkeys from what I am sure they consider the annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Holocaust. The two birds, both oblivious to the formal ceremony, are to be sent to Mount Vernon to what I am sure for them will be turkey heaven, bypassing the usual requirement of having an appointment with an axe.

It was a mildly amusing scene and as it closed and the news babe went on to other stories I zipped over to the Fox Noise Network seriously figuring the usual sock puppets that appear there would be foaming at the mouth about how those turkeys were evil Islamic/socialist terrorists out to destroy America. Since Obama cannot fart without the Fox crew screaming the sky is falling I was actually surprised at their lack of response. But honestly, as I moved on to other more productive endeavors I figure we will hear of the president's unconscionable and illegal turkey pardon at the next Republican debate. Which is funny since I have never seen a finer bunch of half-assed turkeys ever assembled on stage in my life.

Of course the final real thought I had on the subject as I walked over to pop a top on another beer is that if through voting by republicans or inaction by disgruntled progressives if anyone of those buttholes are elected president the American people will be the turkeys and we will deserve what those fine fattened gobblers usual get on this day.

To all my friends, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

And yes. my ass, along with my daughter Darth Wiggles who I am forcing to go, will be seeing the new Muppet movie sometime this weekend.   

Sunday, November 20, 2011

F3 Cycle 57 "All in a night's work"

Flash Fiction Friday Cue: Use a bottle of ketchup in your story.
Word limit: 1000
Genre: Open

 “It’s not a fit night for the living to go outside Mr. Chevalier,” the old doorman Thomas said while opening the ornate glass and metal door leading outside my apartment building.

Lost in my own thoughts when I finally comprehended the words Thomas said I found them so odd they froze me in place on the edge of the foyer. I pondered the possible meaning, praying to a God I had long abandoned that this gentle and kind man was not implying anything. Standing there watching the wind and the rain from the stalled tropical storm hovering just off the coast, battering the city of Savannah, Georgia dispelled any foolish doubts that had momentarily crossed my mind.

“Yes, Thomas,” I said adjusting the collar of my trench coat and pulling my safari-style fedora tightly down on my head. “This night is not fit for the living; unfortunately I have important business with someone tonight.”

“Opening another restaurant sir, how many do you own now?” Thomas asked innocently.

“Maybe, if fate continues to be kind to me, and I own four” I said absentmindedly then stepping out into the weather. An awning stretching out from the door to the edge of the street prevented the worst of the weather from pelting me as I walked the distance to my waiting car. Feeling guilty for my brief paranoia I quickly turned around. “Say Thomas, it has been ages since I saw you and your lovely wife at my café on Bay Street. Call Sonya and make a reservation at your convenience, everything will be on the house.” The smile and thumbs up Thomas gave me in thanks soothed my troubled soul, if I have one, allowing me to focus my thoughts on the unpleasant task ahead.

My appointment was with a man in his private residence across the state line in South Carolina. Mere minutes after leaving the city behind the rural nature of the area along with the inclement weather combined to make the night pitch black, so deep was the darkness I began to feel myself transported in time. Driving the empty county roads with the undeveloped woods and marshes fleeting images briefly illuminated by my headlights I felt as if it was possible that anything could jump out in front of me. For various reasons I found that thought strangely funny.

Before long, the GPS system mounted on the dashboard of my car signaled my pending arrival. Turning off the main road, I was greeted by two huge horse statues on either side of the ornate gravel driveway. Minutes later, I was pulling up in front of a similarly ostentatious gate that was no mere ornamental fixture. The gate itself was over twenty-feet tall and was accompanied by what had to be a fifteen foot fence that I easily guessed would run the entire length of the estate. Security cameras, which strangely point both out and inward on the property, ran at intervals along its length.

“State the nature of your business here,” barked from a speaker mounted in a brick column beside the driveway.

“I’m Simon Chevalier; I have an appointment with Mr. Parker.” I responded beginning to feel the hairs on the back of neck tingle.

“When the gates open follow the driveway to the manor, do not stop. When you arrive someone will be at the door to let you in.” The person speaking to me from the speaker said.

With my destination in sight, I cheerfully followed the instructions, which soon had me inside the house and sitting in a comfortable chair in a study whose walls were lined with books. A cup of tea and a fire burning in the fireplace were very dignified touches of hospitality. Mr. Parker even had the dignity to allow me a few minutes to enjoy my surroundings.

“I trust the drive here was not too inconvenient,” Anthony Parker said storming into the room dressed in a very casual polo shirt and slacks, “and that the staff has met your every need while waiting for me.”

“Yes, everything has been fine.” I said, again making a mental note of the staff, they were loose ends that would eventually have to be dealt with.

The exchange of pleasantries was typical but Parker decided to come to the point first. “Please, Mr. Chevalier explain to me who pointed you my way and why I should do business with you.”

“Mr. Parker, we are both successful business men having friends on both sides of the law, which precludes me from disclosing where I heard your name. Just let me assure you I have… tastes that I am sure you can help me satisfy and I am willing to pay handsomely to have them met.“

From the minute I saw Parker walk into the room I knew my information was correct and that I was in the presence of an utter evil monster. The huge book he pulled down from one of the shelves with pictures of little boys for me to choose from only pushed me beyond my limit of endurance. I held back when I slapped him across the room just so he could see my eyes turn blood red and my vampire fangs extend from my upper and lower gums.


A few nights later, I am relaxing in the private dining room of my favorite restaurant. The stew placed in front of me is not exactly to my liking, the chunks of meat were stringy and I had failed to add enough red wine to the base leaving it rather bland. When my culinary skills fail, it depresses me but the arrival of Chief Detective Altman of the Savannah police department raised my spirits.

“So,” he began taking a seat at my table, “how did it go?”

“Robert, it went so well that I am now having Mr. Parker for dinner, or at least his remains.”

“His friends and benefactors are in a panic, the governors of three states and a certain United States senator are all asking the FBI to look into his mysterious and very sudden disappearance.” Robert said coyly watching me eat my dinner.

“Well that is why you ask me to look into these indelicate matters from time to time,” I replied after wiping my mouth with my napkin.

“Yeah,” Detective Altman said, “I just want you to know how much I appreciate your help on these problems we are unable to solve.”

“I did them for your grandfather, your father, and when your son ascends to your position I will do my best for him.”

“You’re a good man Simon,” Robert said getting up from my table and given my abilities, I knew he truly meant it. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” he said while fishing something out of his coat pocket.

He placed a bottle of Heinz ketchup on my table, a very old joke that went back to his grandfather. One that never fails to make me again feel my lost humanity.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Observations from a stranger in a strange land

Sleep proved to be elusive one day last week, it happens, there is just times that my nocturnal work schedule makes any decent slumber impossible during the day. Those days I am reduced to light catnaps with periods of roaming the house trying to find a restful frame of mind like it was some tangible but misplaced item that I could recover. It was during one of my periods of wandering the house that I caught sight of my neighbor across the street from my front door window.

I have lived in the same suburban purgatory for nearly eleven years now and I believe I have talked to the guy no more than three times, and briefly at that. Like everyone else in the increasingly gentrified collection of lower-level McMansions I reside around he is a long time resident caught up in his own life and activities almost to the point we barely exist in the same universe. From what I hear, it is a common occurrence these days across the country and because of my early onset curmudgeon attitude not one that I would even begin to want to rectify. When you realize you are a stranger living in a very strange land you come to appreciate the distance you keep between the locals and you.

Looking from my front door window I caught sight of him proudly marching out of his garage carrying his manly leaf blower like it was some weapon locked and loaded for combat. I forget the manufacture but it was huge and had all the macho bells and whistles for the anal-retentive suburban types ever ready to do battle with autumn leaves that dare to disturb the aesthetics of a clean looking curb or driveway. As expected after two quick pulls on the starter cord the machine roared to life blowing what I am sure was at least category-three level hurricane winds from its ferocious snout.

Like some ancient king might contemptuously review the commoner riff-raff he slowly strolled the curb blowing the leafy detritus onto his yard, every once and a while squeezing the hand throttle of the mighty blower like some renegade biker would do his chopper in an attempt to show off. Once he was done this prime example of a civilized and proper American man looked upon his work as if he had just finished sculpting a fine statue. Obviously satisfied with his work he again proudly walked back inside his garage.

Several minutes later after getting something to drink and wander around the house some more I look back out my front door window and see him atop his riding lawnmower looking for all the world like the Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers. This was no bargain basement model of a riding lawnmower, I have seen the same model at the local Lowes and my first car cost less than that fine mechanical stallion. Like his manly leaf blower it comes with all the neat, upper end accessories like real headlights, cup holder, and a vacuum attachment.

Using the vacuum attachment like those cowboy matinee heroes from the 1950’s caught bank robber or cattle rustlers, he sucked up the leaves in his yard that dared to fall on his uniformly green lawn. Neither Rommel nor Patton could have commanded such precision in how he drove across his yard never overlapping more than an inch from where he had already cleared the offending organic material.

Once done, he meticulously bagged the leaves the same way a hazardous material team might contain and collect toxic chemicals and then threw them into the back of his huge and equally impressive truck. Given the usual habits of local suburbanites, the destination for the bagged leaves was certainly the local trash collection point where they would later be hauled off to the nearby landfill and buried. I imagine hundreds or maybe thousands of years from now eager archeological students will dig up those non-biodegradable trash bags and open them to find those very leaves and wonder what in the Hell people were thinking back then.

With the show over, I finally wandered back to bed and fell back to sleep although it was short. Once my daughter came home a couple of hours later I was back up getting her situated so she did her homework, Soon after that, I was off to pick up my son from school. As I drove away, I noticed that the wind had blown leaves from other yards and along with trees on his property the curb and a large portion of his yard was covered again. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I figured there was some sort of statement that could be said about human stupidity and the fact that Mother Nature gives less than a damn about suburban lawn care.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Masks We Hide Behind

Someone much smarter than me once said that we all conceal our true selves behind masks of civilized behavior, that if we showed our real faces and spoke our true thoughts in public our society would dissolve into chaos. I cannot find the author of that statement but I was once naïve, or just plain stupid, enough to doubt the accuracy of those words. After an unfortunate combination of events, I learned all too well how that statement is far truer than I could have ever imagined. The funny thing is that I can now look back at times when the application of basic honesty would have made things much better.

If I have one good and consistent talent, high on the list would be my ability to take a good situation and throw it totally away for one full of uncertainty and stress. I found myself in such a position in March of 2003 after returning to a job I had been laid off from a little over a year before. During my first stint working at what I will call “De Luca’s Telecommunication Widget Factory”, where I had worked from late 2000 until early 2002, I had thought I had made real friends there but I was shocked at the barely concealed contempt I received upon my return.

I returned to the widget factory leaving a great job repairing x-ray machines that had everything you could possibly desire in a career except decent pay. Since I had no formal training in X-ray repair I was literally making about the same as a pizza delivery guy, something that bugged the daylights out of my wife. Formal x-ray training that would have bumped my salary up to widget factory levels but that would require me attending technical schools that were so expensive my employer would have to flip the bill for the tuition, travel expenses, along with room and board during the classes. Since I was still in the National Guard at the time, standing a better than average chance of being mobilized, the x-ray company I worked for did not want to spend the money only to lose it after I turned up for orders sending my unit and me to Afghanistan, and later Iraq.

Finding myself caught in a nice “Catch 22”, I spent a year of on the job training learning radiology repair, including advanced procedures for calibration, but making less than someone driving around with a load of pepperoni pizzas in his or her backseat on a Saturday night. This dichotomy was the subject of many heated discussions between my wife and me since we were rapidly approaching the date when she and her sister would leave for China to bring the infant Darth Wiggles home. So, when the widget factory suddenly called me about returning, with a pay raise, I quickly jumped at the chance.

From day one of my return to the widget factory, I quickly realized that I had violated some redneck social taboo placing me on the same level as a leper or some other social untouchable. It was so bad that months later that by sheer chance I learned my supervisor had tore my fellow employees’ new buttholes after hearing them complain about my return ahead of some of their buddies. Something I had absolutely no knowledge of until much later, if fact one of the guys who complained the most behind my back about my return had actually talked to me a week before I gave my notice to the x-ray company. Had this fine example of “Deliverance” level inbreeding given me a heads up on the situation I would have stayed where I was and been immensely happier in the long run. Yeah, I still harbor some bad feelings that often bleeds off on my opinion of where I live even now.

Fast forward a few months later and I am working twelve-hour night shifts at the widget factory while Dragonwife is dealing with getting the infant Darth Wiggles and a much younger Darth Spoilboy up for school during the workweek. Throw in alternating weekend shift work, and once-a-month National Guard duty and family life had taken a considerable hit all for more money. On a side note, I did call the x-ray company asking for my job back but that went over like a submarine with a screen door. I was replaced less than two weeks before I called them with someone with accredited training and several years of real experience.

To say I was disgruntled every morning when I returned home would have been a huge understatement, but not quite enough to load up on 9mm ammo and go postal on my telecommunication coworkers with my Sig P226. But I have to admit I regularly dreamed about seeing most of the widget factory maintenance staff on a bus with it flying off a cliff and them dying a horrendous, fiery death as the vehicle explodes upon impact with the ground. Yet even with these feelings I somehow found the strength to greet them nicely each morning as they came into work.

The house was usually empty when I returned home and because of the long shifts I worked, I was required to quickly have a shower, eat, then jump into bed to try and get some sleep before the family come home from work, school, and day care late that afternoon. I had little time to decompress which left me no time to shed the frustration and stress that never went away.

Even with my aggravation, I was usually able to quickly fall asleep but one day I found myself be awoken by a crying baby. Now my first thought was that somehow Dragonwife had, in some insane fit of stupidity, left the infant Darth Wiggles home. Such was my state of mind that I literally ran all through the house looking for my baby daughter thinking all sort of nightmarish scenarios that could have been scripts for some half-assed horror movie.

I eventually collected enough of my meager wits to discover the source of the crying to be the baby monitor receiver in my bedroom, Dragonwife had left it on and I was hearing the howling of some baby in another house. Needless to say, I was greatly relieved even though I was feeling some empathy for the poor kid. Soon enough I heard an adult female over the receiver began to say soothing things, which quieted the baby down.

Over the course of the next few weeks hearing that baby cry became a regular event when I returned home, and when it started I would just turn off the monitor. What changed my instinctive habit of turning off the receiver was the introduction one day of an angry male voice that would cuss the baby and the apparent mother. The arguments between the two adults would become so heated at times the sound of someone hitting the other would not have been a surprise. The words said between the two adults were so bad actual hitting might have been kinder. They made the arguments I had with my wife pale in comparison. Both of these unknown people would curse the day they had met each other and the decision to have a baby neither really wanted.

Lying in bed I could not help but begin to wonder where these inadvertent transmissions were coming from. The baby monitor system my wife had bought was a new but very basic system. The manual for it said its range was very limited but even though I have never been popular in my subdivision, I knew of a few families with newly arrived infants like Dragonwife and me but they were several streets over.

At times, while working in the yard I would see each of these families walking the neighborhood looking seemingly happy with each other while pushing a baby stroller. I wondered about the masks they wore in front of everyone else and how they would have reacted if they knew their true feelings were available for anyone to hear.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Accidental Love In The Tropics (Chapter One)

Jack Carter knew he was in trouble from the first moment he tried to open his eyes. At that instant, the very act of moving his eyelids was such a painful experience it rivaled the pain he once felt passing a kidney stone. Given the size of what he instinctively knew to be a massive hangover the early morning symphony of birds and other animals he usually enjoyed coming from the jungle outside his cottage became a tortuous amalgamation of sounds that felt like nuclear bombs going off inside his head. Even through his suffering a small segment of Jack’s mind appreciated the irony that he had originally moved to the small town of Alabama Wharf in the country of Belize in part to escape the insane clamor of daily life in New York City.

“Oh my God, I’m dead,” Jack said to himself when he was finally able to focus his eyes on his immediate surroundings. The mosquito netting hanging down from the ceiling and surrounding his bed had created a surreal, milky hue to the world making it seem unearthly. Adding to the effect was the megaton-sized banging in his head and that the rest of his body refused any command to move Jack momentarily pondered an afterlife condemned to haunting a cheap queen-sized mattress.

As minutes stretched into what seemed an eternity of alcohol-induced anguish Jack’s mind completed the reboot process allowing thoughts that were more complex. After realizing he was not actually dead he became aware of the sun peeking through the slates of the shutters covering his windows and the spin of the ceiling fan in the center of his bedroom.

As sensation slowly returned to his body he came to the realization that he was in bed naked, not his usual way of sleeping but given the degree of his current discomfort it was not a big issue at that moment. With his increasing awareness, there was a nagging feeling that something was just not quite right but he just did not yet have the mental capacity to discover the issue.As best he could, he began taking stock of his surroundings in his one room bungalow.

As Jack lay on his right side facing his nightstand he saw Angelina, his scarlet macaw, just outside the mosquito netting standing on it looking at him accusatorily. “Good morning honey cakes,” the colorful bird said while dancing around on the nightstand. “No food for me, no more loving for you,” it squawked harshly a few seconds later obviously upset she did not yet have her usual breakfast of orange and apple slices.

He could also see Tanner, his German Shepard, still asleep on his pillow over next the couch, probably because the damn dog was as drunk as he was from drinking beer last night. The dog had the strange habit of watching tourists and when one would leave the table he or she was sitting at, quickly run up, knock the bottle to the floor, and begin lapping of the spilled liquid. It was a trick Jack and other locals enjoyed since Tanner had the uncanny ability to target the most obnoxious person of whatever tourist group happened to be visiting at that time, usually a white, middle-aged American male.

With everything in his field of vision accounted for Jack made the sudden realization, that whatever disturbance he was feeling was behind him sharing the bed. Ridiculous visions of a lonely jaguar or amorous python that walked or crawled into his house during the night momentarily filled his head but after slowly turning over Jack knew the situation to be far worse.

Much too his shocked but happy surprise Jack found a gorgeous redheaded woman laying next him sleeping on her belly. The unknown woman was naked from the waist up with a light sheet the only thing covering the rest of her body. The fact that a beautiful woman was sharing his bed not the reason Jack was panic-stricken. Mainly it was the idea that he did not remember bringing her home followed by his immediate discovery that she was wearing a specially designed wedding ring with him realizing he was wearing an exact match.

Both gold rings were molded to look like braided rope with a large an obviously fake diamond mounted on top of each. Imprinted on both fake stones were the same color portraits of a smiling young Elvis Presley looking as if he would begin singing “Love me tender” at any second. Memories of his previous marital disaster caused chills to run down Jack’s spine but seeing the face of Elvis gave him an idea of where last night’s events had to have taken place. At some point, the sleeping lady and he had visited the Graceland-inspired Fast Eddie’s Tropical Chapel of Love, a place catering to the sudden romantic desires of any couple, or larger group, twenty-four hours a day regardless of their state of mind.

Not wanting to disturb the woman who may now be his wife Jack eased out of the bed in hopes of locating his cell phone and calling Fast Eddie and talking him into tearing up the wedding certificate. Feeling a heavy dose of fear and anxiety at the thought of being married again Jack skillfully and quietly cleared the mosquito netting only to have the macaw Angelina jump on his back.

“Cough up the goods lover boy,” the parrot chimed in, which was in effect a cross species mugging and the bird’s way of demanding her breakfast. Fighting an urge to swat Angelina off his back, which Jack knew would only result in a vicious bite from her sharp beak he ambled over to his small kitchen as best he could and began cutting up slices of apples and oranges. Whomever the woman was sleeping in his Angelina’s squawking did not even rouse her in the least, she still lay on her belly with her red hair framing a stunningly beautiful face.

While being held hostage to an impatient macaw pacing the countertop of his small kitchen island Jack racked his brain for some memory of the previous day. It all went blank early last evening after he arrived in the small tourist town of Punta Gorda joining his usual group of malcontents at one of the local bars named the Apache Saloon. After several minutes of cutting apples and oranges, enough to placate Angelina, Jack found a worn pair of cargo shorts and  began a desperate search for his cell phone, which eventually lead him outside to his chief means of transportation, an ancient army surplus jeep.

Stepping outside from the protective shade of his screened-in porch the shock of the morning sun and tropical humidity renewed the assault on Jack’s alcohol-idled mind and sluggish body. However, after a few minutes of rummaging through his jeep he was rewarded with not only finding his cell phone but a crumpled up marriage certificate from Fast Eddie’s dated from last night. On it, the bride’s name was listed as Rebecca Huntington of Seattle, Washington and for a brief moment Jack actually believed he had the situation under control. The scream of utter surprise and terror that suddenly came from inside his small house cut through him like a knife and sent nearby birds flying into the air and monkeys deeper into the jungle fleeing for safety.

After quickly running back inside, he was rewarded with the sight of Angelina dive-bombing the naked redhead who was trying to avoid the bird while desperately clinging to the sheet she had pulled from the bed in an attempt to cover herself.

“Evil hussy!” the bird squawked, circling the lady before going into a shallow dive with talons extended like an irate eagle. It was obvious the terror-filled woman had never had to fight off a jealous bird but the sight was so surreal that Jack could not help but chuckle, which allowed both disgruntled females to notice him.

“I don’t know who you are but get this damn bird away from me before I find something that will allow me to kill it.” The woman shrieked while huddled on the floor covering herself with the sheet.

Seeing Jack, Angelina landed and began waddling around on the floor with her wings spread out in victory. “Lover boy is mine,” it said possessively. This allowed Jack to walk over and permit the bird to jump to his left shoulder.“Send the hussy away lover boy,” the bird said while giving Jack playful nips on the head with her beak.

“Be a good bird Angelina,” Jack said while letting her jump to a perch above Tanners’ pillow bed. For added insurance, he attached a safety leash to one of her legs to prevent any further conflict with his new bride. For all the wild commotion, Jack was impressed that the dog, while awake, had looked on oblivious to it all, a testament to how smashed Tanner was and how much he was use to Angelina’s possessive fits.

With the bird secured to her satisfaction, modesty became a more pressing concern with and the redhead wrapped the sheet tightly around her body and began collecting her clothes that were scattered about the floor. “I’m going to assume,” she began, “we had a great time last night but would you mind telling me where I am at and who you are.”

“Well, umm,” Jack said slowly trying to think of a way to break the news, “this is going to be complicated.”

“How complicated?” she said nervously looking at Jack. It was at that moment she noticed the strange wedding ring on his finger and the one she was wearing that matched.

Long before Jack left his South Carolina hometown to attend college and eventually move to New York afterward to become an investment banker he remembered his grandmother talking about something called a conniption fit. According to her, it was the worst of behaviors usually reserved for hopelessly spoiled children who desperately needed a good, old-fashioned spanking with a belt until they could not sit down anymore. As a child Jack had never actually seen the nearly mystical seizure put on by anyone but the woman he believed to be his new wife was surely showing him one now.

After looking at the bizarre wedding ring for several seconds, the new Mrs. Jack Carter stuck out her left hand as if she had just discovered an engorged tick implanted on her finger. In a panic, she began rapidly stamping her feet up and down to the point they had become a blur making her look like she was trying to run a one-hundred yard dash in his house. Jack was increasingly dumbfounded and worried as her eyes became huge and her breathing became panicky, so much that the sheet she had carefully wrapped around herself came loose and fell to the floor without her noticing.

Angelina loved the commotion and was doing her best to fly off and attack the strange interloper but was restrained because of the leash Jack attached. “Crazy hussy, crazy hussy!” the bird would squawk before breaking down into what Jack assumed was fits of macaw laughter.

Even Tanner was finally awaken enough to move into a sitting position on his pillow to watch the perplexing show.“Just what in the bloody Hell is going on here?” the dog seemed to say to him as it looked incredulously over at Jack.

However, the show ended soon enough as the beautiful redhead named Rebecca finally fainted and fell to the floor. Being a decent sort Jack rushed over and gently lifted up his new wife and placed her back on the bed. Jack’s first thought was that as soon as possible he would need to contact Fast Eddie to end this mistake immediately. His second thought was that compared to his first marriage this was actually a good start to the relationship.

(Author's Note: In spite of the near certain accusations that will come my way of suffering from a delusion that I can write there will be a second chapter to this story.)   

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dona Nobis Pacem: My Hope

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

All through history true soldiers that have seen the rage and senseless destruction of war know it is the ultimate expression of stupidity and waste which only breeds more fear and conflict. But it is an unfortunate, almost tragic, situation that many in the United States have come to associate soldiers, marines, and others who serve in the armed forces with a love of war.

These people live in some delusion world promoted by popular movies and television full of improbable action heroes with clever catchphrases and slick politicians reveling in some false and hollow glory of peace through superior firepower. The delusion being that the enemies of peace and justice can be defeated through the use of "shock and awe" tactics that will send them cowering into dark holes fearful of ever defying the crusading might of this era's current superpower.

Peace enforced at the end of a spear, sword, musket, or rifle depends on how long a soldier is willing to hold his weapon at the ready and his country is prepared to pay the bill in both blood and treasure. History is replete with dead empires who sought to spread their influence and civilization only to find that the cost of maintaining it was far too great.

Yes, there are those in the world even now who wish to conquer, dominate, and spread chaos at the expense of others, and we must stand ready to oppose those who believe the acquisition of power by any means or the killing of innocents is ever justified. But if a real peace on this planet is even remotely possible it must be realized that it will come through an understanding that every human being has an inalienable right to live their life in peace and have access to the things that make life possible.

I absolutely refuse to believe this is impossible despite the fact that most of human history is nothing but one bloody saga after another, we have not survived this long as a species only to fall victim to an ancient caveman mentality of fear and suspicion. In a way the people alive today have what can be considered both an honor or possible curse of seeing a world at peace. With seven billion people on the planet we can no longer live with by old ways that we have carried from the days when our ancestors roamed the planet in small hunter-gatherer groups living strictly off the environment.

We can either change our attitudes and ways and begin to show that we are an intelligent species by treating each other with the respect and dignity everyone deserves along with doing our best to curtail the ignorance and greed that threatens our world. The alternative of course is to continue our usual behavior with wars and destruction of the environment but that will lead only to a peace by extinction of us naked primates. Time is not on our side but in the end homo sapiens have the will and ability to survive programmed in their very DNA and while I have reasons to doubt it more times than not we are an intelligent species. Its damn time we start using the brains God or evolution gave us. I'm sure Darwin and God are looking down wondering what we will ultimately do.

(Author's note: Don't know what really got me in this mood but surf on over to Mimi's place for more of the same. Typos suck, still finding the damn things.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What in the world am I doing today?

Life as I know it has increased its already breakneck pace to the point that the only way I can readily determine the days is by what activity I am driving to, whether it involves the kids, my wife, or occasionally me. It has seriously gotten to the point that when I do have time to sit down and write something I am exhausted beyond the point of my already flimsy mental coherence.

One of the best examples of the activities that keep me going is the picture to the left showing Darth Wiggles at her riding lesson. She goes twice a week relatively late in the afternoon and by the time we return home its straight to bed for her. The consolation for me is that she is absolutely in love with the horses and is taking her riding lessons very serious. I'm already having to remind her that there is no way on God's green earth we can afford to own one of those animals.

Here we have the newly minted sixteen year-old Darth Spoilboy sporting his very rough morning look while wearing the family birthday hat. Its a bit of a stretch to say his "morning look" since on the weekends he doesn't usually wake up until eleven o'clock. His big thing right now is finding a job and buying a car. Now the bad news is that even after applying at a bunch of different locations nothing has turned up.

The good news for him is that Dragonwife and I are in the process of buying a minivan for her to drive which will allow Spoilboy to take over the Honda CRV. In all honesty I do not know which will be more expensive, paying for the insurance for him or buying Wiggles a hypothetical horse.