While Buddy and I were doing his morning smell walk earlier today, pausing at every tree, bush, light post or wall so that he could sniff out all the leg-lifting news and information that his four-legged brethren had left there for him, he revealed that, in attempt to update their image in this high tech age, the Canine Caucus had recently decreed that ages-old messaging system is not longer to be called P-mail. The terminology these days is Twiddle, a mash-up of “Twitter” and “piddle.” Your dog undoubtedly already knows this but hardly expects you to, so drop “Twiddle” casually into the conversation and perhaps he or she will begin to think you are at least a tiny bit cool, although, of course, you are not.
So this morning, after a week or so of sputtering warnings, my car gave every indication that it is going to die. Lots more sputter and near choking on start-up and the good old engine light warning came on. I know this latter is often something which can be ignored, but combined with those other indicators, I be most nervous. Besides, this is the month my annual inspection is due and that’s always a indicator that something expensive is going to be required. Whether I am willing to invest more big bucks in this vehicle at this point is the second biggest question; what I will do if I don’t is the biggest one.
This is the, I certainly hope, final stage in a several week stream of Things You Do Not Want to Happen.
Three weeks ago, Buddy awakened on Saturday AM and it was like he wasn’t there anymore. I thought of it as a stroke. No way to get a Vet on the weekends without exorbitant “emergency” fees so we stumbled through the weekend as he barely acknowledged my existence, seemed totally lost and peed whenever and wherever. He did eat, which was a good sign, but I thought I was going to lose him. Then he awakened that Monday and seemed himself again; I figured it had been some sort of weird anomaly and the week went normally. That next Saturday–Boom!–the “stroke” condition reoccurred. When I finally caught up with the vet this Tuesday, she said I was likely correct that it was old age catching up with him but said she did have these pills that sometimes helped in such situations, adding that they would take a week or two to kick in. Nope. After his second pill (one a day, in the morning), he started behaving more like himself. As of this week, he’s not only back to what passes for normal, he’s actually reinvigorated (except for the need for some long, intense periods of sleep). It’s amazing and if they make some similar medication for humans, sign me up.
All that was happened while I wrestled with a couple of major stories that just wouldn’t come together on a computer that is also dying (notice a theme here). It crashes regular and half my battle was just to constantly save and backup on a USB card. I’ve been waiting and waiting for my son to complete a replacement system for me but it wasn’t until I said, screw it, and went to explore the possibilities of designing a replacement with a local computer store that, of course, he emailed that he had it mostly done. We’ve exchanged phone calls and emails to work out the way I want it to behave and it shipped yesterday and should arrive end of this coming week. We shall see how that goes.
In short, lots of stress and frustration have been my lot. Oh, did I mention that I also suffered a vitreous detachment in my right eye a week ago Thursday? Definitely unnerving. Two trips to the eye care folks have confirmed that there is no retina tear and that I will have to learn to cope with the occasional gray “floaters” which are now present in both eyes; they will fade somewhat as my brain learns to edit them out but there is nothing to be done beyond that and my issues with driving at night will likely get worse, psychologically if not physically. Overall vision still checks out at 20/20, which is great.
But enough about me.
That’s what I’m taking. I have lost the energy or interest in continuing to rail on and on about social media, specifically Facebook, so I’m trying a new approach. That I am choosing to embrace Facebook in the midst of growing evidence that many people are cutting back on or abandoning it altogether is problematic, but what the hell.
SOP for website operators re: Facebook, Twitter et al has been to set up an automatic linking to new posts on site to appear in your feed there. Recently, I’ve noticed, and I’ve seen others commenting similarly, that readers are less and less likely these days to click through to the site to see what a link is all about, whereas the same or similar comments or observations made directly as part of the feed continue to generate comments and attention.
So, I am going to try posting on Facebook initially and then bring that post here for those of you, the few, the brave, who prefer the website experience. Posts here will continue to be fed to Twitter and I may ramp up my presence in that realm as well.
It is quite likely, I know, that this will eventually lead to the demise of Mermaids, but perhaps it is time for that in any case.
A couple of previous Facebook only posts will be posted here later this afternoon.
To his credit, he waited two and a half days before asserting complete control of the environment and my life, allowing me to maintain my delusion of dominance long enough that I did not feel totally overwhelmed. I’d tell you more but he wants to go out for a walk now and, believe me, you don’t want to know how he gets when he doesn’t get what he wants.
I’ve been sick (and I never get sick), my dog’s been sick, my other website was hacked and it took a week to get it back, cash flow is way out of whack and this computer is dying before my very eyes. Bring on 2014.
Today’s Retail strip* reminds me of the first time I ever heard of a Mobius Strip. It was a battered old copy of a ’50′s SF mag which featured a story in which a new highway system designed to bypass a small town had everyone in a state of consternation because cars got onto the road and never came off, just disappeared. Turned out the thing was a classic continuous loop which allowed no exit. I can’t remember how they discovered the answer or solved the issue, but I do remember cutting out a long strip of paper, twisting it appropriately and then drawing a single line with a red pencil which proved it was all true.
*Sorry, can’t link to it at present; site appears to be down.
I have just unfriended only the second person ever. My feeling is, and remains, that if I am going to spout off in this public space, I should not try to shut down those who disagree with me.
But there are limits.
The argument that “if you take away our guns, only criminals will have guns” is meaningless in these murder tragedies or the shooting of a Congresswoman because the shooters are not “criminals,” they are mentally unstable “normal” people. Their actions are clear evidence that access to weapons of a certain kind, weapons which have nothing to do with hunting or sports shooting, is an issue we should and must deal with.
The argument that “if only they had guns, they would have stopped him” is ludicrous. Who is “they”? The teachers,? The principal/ The kids? Everybody? And when this lunatic blasts his way through the door with an automatic weapon, dressed in body armor, and starts shooting, what then? Who is immediately prepared to react? What will be the results of a suddenly erupting gun battle in a closed space between a madman and a panicked amateur while potential victims cower in fear? A few minutes calm thought leaves the premise in tatters.
There are people who make those arguments and I no longer even try to argue with them. Nor do I do anything to limit their access to or ability to respond to anything I post. But when someone starts ranting about how automobiles kill people too, I cannot handle it. The person I unfriended is someone I know personally and whom I like (as was the first person I unfriended, primarily because he would just never stop–long after I and everybody else had left a conversation, he was still posting on and on–and because he would enter almost every conversation with a political agenda).
Nobody should be arguing to ban guns across the board at this point. That is an untenable position, but somebody, a lot of somebodys, should be trying, in every way possible, to bring some common sense to this issue about access and weaponry which is beyond the pale and be willing to face up to the NRA and the political maelstrom that such an attempt will surely inspire.
In the midst of all our tears and sorrows this weekend, we should also feel a rising tide of embarrassment and disgust. Let those 20 children and the six adults who died trying to save them become a beacon leading this violent nation toward a more civilized future.
NOTE: This post has been edited and expanded slightly from the original to rectify typographical errors and clarify the arguments.
I have struggled all day trying to figure out how to respond the events in Newtown, Connecticut today. I finally settled on this Facebook posting and thought I should share it here:
It seems irresponsible not to say something about the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary today and even more impossible to know what to say. 20 children dead and, as one of the teachers said, the others having now lost their childhood forever. It is unimaginable. This is a sad, violent, sick nation and I fear it is only going to get worse.
(This has been cross-posted at Liquid Diet)
I’ve told my two Dave Brubeck stories here before (I’m pretty sure) but it still can’t hurt to tell them again especially today, when he left us just one day shy of his 92nd birthday.
One of the earliest friends I made in college was a serious jazz aficionado and introduced me to several artists. We were in separate dorms freshman year but he and his roommate moved into the one where I was in sophomore year, just down the hall. Our building was located right next to the dining hall and, for reasons I can’t recall, I got into the habit of eating early, getting his room key from him when he went to dinner and going in and putting the legendary Take Five, which the Brubeck Quartet made a signature of their, on the turntable and lying there in the dark listening to Dave and Paul Desmond, who wrote the piece, “talking” to one another back and forth from piano to sax. Come to think of it, that was more ritual than habit and one of my enduring memories.
Six or seven years later, during my brief excursion into the dark domain that is corporate life after I finished graduate school, I was the magazine editor the PR Department of a large insurance company which, some eight months into my time there, took 250 agents and their families (roughly 750 people including kids) to the original Disneyland in Anaheim for a four day conference. As part of the event, my think-outside-the-box boss brought in a raft of guest speakers who had nothing to do with insurance at all, the likes of Allan Dulles (the first civilian to head the CIA, then retired), Casey Stengel and…Dave Brubeck.
I was part of the team that flew out to run the event, theoretically just to observe so I could put together and issue of the magazine I edited for agents in its aftermath. In practice, since there weren’t nearly enough of us, I ended up working at all the crap jobs like all the other flunkies. So it was that, on the evening that Brubeck spoke and then played the piano for the crowd, I got to chatting with him after all was finished. We wandered outside the hotel pool and when he said he could use a drink, I excused myself, went up the top floor room which I and one of the other guys had claimed as our own, mostly because it had a bar which we had immediately filled by the Disneyland folks, and grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels. Took it back downstairs and Brubeck and I sat on the edge of the pool, feet dangling the water and passed the bottle back and forth while talking about music and politics and religion and lord knows what else for a couple of hours under a full moon sky.
It would be presumptuous to call him a friend based on that single conversation, no matter how it sticks in my mind, but I think I’ll take the leap anyway,
Goodbye, old friend, you were one of the greats.