Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Three Sides of the God Coin

Over the last 15 years or so, I have tried my best to not get sucked into conversations of  God and religion.  But some comments I read on one of my Alexandria posts nudged me back into the fray.

The topic brings out the worst in some folks, especially those who are firmly planted on the belief side and those who are solidly on the non-belief side.  That I am an agnostic has not served me well in either camp.  "Fence sitter",  "waffler", and other less civil words have been flung my direction from both sides.

I am comfortable with my religious views only because it took me so long to finally decide that a book of parables written by humans and then re-written under the watchful eye of a monarchy was probably 90% bullcrap.  The book does nothing to prove or disprove God's existence.  Yet, the faithful are positive of God's existence and will offer up the Bible as proof.

The atheists are no better.  They operate on the assumption that God does not exist because God has not shown him/herself.  That for the lack of tangible evidence to the contrary, it must logically follow that there is no supreme being.  Just because you cannot see it does not mean it does not exist.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cold War Comfort

I am told the Cold War is over.  Yet it would seem both the old USSR and the good ole USA still insist on drawing lines between each other based on the supposedly dead in the water Cold War that was quite effective in maintaining a solid Mexican Stand Off between the evils of the Red Empire and the moral decay of the Capitalists from the West.  The two of us had the World neatly carved up and would use proxies to fight each other.  And though the World is no longer under either's thumb completely, both still insist on using their old school tactics whenever possible.  The World is suddenly much more dangerous than it was during the Cold War.  And sadly, it appears neither the good ole USA nor the old USSR can get their heads around what to do about it other than pulling out the same old tricks out of the same old hat.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Gates of Love

" Their gated mansion is not just a testament to affluence, it is a house of love. "

I read this phrase I paraphrased in an article about an aging Pop star who had amassed a pile of money her heirs will have trouble spending.

I found the phrase odd.  Maybe it is just me, but the first thing I think of when passing a gated anything is not love.  Gates and Love, well ..... it seems Love can only exist if gates are left open in some way.  Physical and/or emotional.

So when I pass a gated mansion or community, the notion of Love is not even on my radar.  That isn't to say Love cannot exist inside this gated area, but the notion of gates and walls seems almost antithetical to the grandness of Love.  It would appear to me the only love that could really exist inside a gated house, community, etc would be a very narrow beam of it.  Love would stop at the fence, the guard house, not to be shared with those who pass by.  As it turns out, that gate also seems to keep a large portion of the Love available outside it's perimeter from getting in,  Both sides lose.

Gates keep people out.  Love lets people in.

Just my ten minute thought on the matter.  Gotta head for the dump.........


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Favorite Things

We all have favorite things.  Objects, songs, books, plants, people, ideals and notions...whatever.  Often, why a particular item is favored over another of similar construction and purpose are hard to pin down.  It becomes a prized possession for any number of reasons.

Longevity perhaps.  We have had this thing in our lives for so long, it's presence is taken for granted and when it is gone or destroyed, a small hole is left where it once stood.  Take my life long love of bicycles and the activities associated with them.  I cannot remember my first bike ride.  All I know is bicycles have been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I love riding them, building them, fixing them, and selling them.  Should I lose the ability to enjoy any or all the facets of cycling, the quality of my lifestyle would plummet.

I had a favorite coffee cup once upon a time.  It held 16 ounces of Joe, was decently insulated and was shaped like an old Coca Cola glass, the kind you might have used to enjoy a true soda fountain Coke while your mom shopped til she dropped in Kresge's or whatever five and dime you had in your hometown.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Clueless and Useless

I've had it with the bullshit.  The stupid focus on events and ideals that have very little to do with people getting through their days.  The Pro Lifers, the Pro Choicers, Bible thumpers, Tea Baggers, Left Wing loonies and the over the top animal huggers who feel we need to "humanely" cook lobsters all manage to keep the nation's focus on stupid shit.  In the meantime, the deep pockets continue to get deeper by picking the pockets of us slobs on the streets.  They love the distractions.  It allows them to carry out their sleazy dealings in Congress and Wall Street outside the smoke filled rooms they used to have to use.

I know we are probably just going through the beginnings of an adjustment from top dog to just another dog fighting for scraps, but this is what makes our whacked leadership so dangerous.  We are still powerful enough to create real problems for our citizens and citizens elsewhere.   Our leaders have become knee jerkers and straw graspers.  And we are letting them get away with it.

So like I said, I have had it with the bullshit, the snake oil promises, and the barely veiled allegiance to the 1% who control the purse strings.  But most of all I have had it with Americans.  We deserve whatever stupidity our leaders dream up.  Lookin for someone to blame?  Look in the mirror............collectively that is.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Seppos Proving the Stereotype

I just caught the news about the Aussie in Okie-land who was shot and killed by 3 bad examples from our diverse population.  A thrill killing.  Just for shits and giggles off someone because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  America is often it's own worse enemy.  Add this stupid waste of life to the rather large quiver of Americans acting badly.

I understand the cries of outrage coming in hard from Down Under.  Shouts of Boycotts, reprisals on Americans in Queensland or someplace nearby.  There is no excuse.  There is nothing I can say or do except stand up and call for these losers to be fried, or at least locked away for the rest of their useless lives.

I actually dropped my head and slowly shook it in shame for what some of my own pulled as a lark, just to see someone die.  That I do not understand it any better than the folks from Australia or anywhere else matters little now.  That I hope these assholes suffer the worst kind of treatment available behind bars is of little or no solace to the surviving group of family and friends I am sure.

Adding insult to injury, more shame waved over me when I heard a grandma of one of the young assholes say, "He's a good boy."  No, Grandma, he isn't.  Not even close, not in the same ballpark or even in the same galaxy most of us live in.  Your grandson is evil and deserves the worst the state of Oklahoma can dish out.

Enough said.................................

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ten Minutes

Ten Minutes........A measly ten minutes is all the time I have.  I have been looking for some way to goose myself back into writing on a more regular basis.  This every now and then shit is giving me a case of writer's blue balls.

Okay.  I know. I can see the flippin clock.  I have seven minutes left to make a point, write that one sentence that will make even the manliest man swoon and maybe shed a tear.  The ladies?  Well, the ladies will just melt once they have taken in the one great sentence I now have only five and a half minutes to create.

So I am going to incorporate an exercise  - a writing exercise into the already full to the brim morning routine.  I am going to attempt to make myself write for ten minutes straight each day.  Whether I continue to write is but a bonus.  At least I will have begun picking up where I left off so many months ago.

Given my less than stellar record of seeing things through, especially things that have only me to over see, I am not holding out much hope..........Nah.  Let's face it.  Good intentions are easy to have, it's the follow up that separates those who do from flounders like me who usually don't.

Well, times up.  That one great phrase will have to wait it's turn.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Privacy Has Left the Building

I jumped in with both feet back in the 1990's when I discovered the Internet.  I saw a world wide electronic network evolving that would bring the World together and maybe, just maybe some quieter times along with it.  My wide eyed optimism however is turning the corner towards grumpy pessimism. Twenty years later and the World is hardly a tighter knit community.  Twenty years later and all I see is more hate and discontent for the most part.

The electronic network that spread like a spiderweb around the globe is just more of the same old same old.  Instead of a melding, all we have now are bigger mobs who waste their time trying to shout down the noise coming from the other mobs.  Instead of a place to exchange ideas, I see a community where hucksters and rip offs ply their trades with impunity from thousands of miles away.  Instead of creating conditions for better social and political change, I see more paranoia and mistrust than ever before among government, religious and social leaderships and their flocks.

What I neglected to figure into this in the beginning was people.  You can give people better tools, but they are still people.  The Internet has had no effect on the base faults we all cart around in our bag of character traits.  If anything, the Internet has freed us to act out in negative ways while thinking we are protected from repercussion because we use a fake handle.  

In reality, we have opened ourselves up to more scrutiny, more intrusions, and more ridicule than we had before we plugged in.  Privacy has left the building.  We held the door open and kicked it in the ass as it passed, all the while pissin and moanin about our loss of it.  Cake and eating it too comes to mind.

To be fair, my original wide eyed optimism has not been completely shot down.  I have seen and experienced first hand some of the positive wonders of the Internet.  In ways, both large and small, change has happened and is still happening.  The inventive genius types have found innovative ways to use the Internet to enrich the lives of many people throughout the world.  Some are obvious, while most float around unnoticed by all except those who benefit.

When it is all said and done, the World Wide Web and all of its spin offs are in their infancy.  We are still figuring out just what it is we have here and how far we want to take it.  By its very nature, the WWW will most likely always be evolving into something new and improved different.  And realizing that it is but a reflection of ourselves, we will or should expect that along with the Good, Evil is but a step behind.


Friday, August 09, 2013

Shovel Feet

I am not sure why I have had a life long hatred of shoes.  Maybe it is the triple E feet I was blessed with by my mother's half of my DNA. She called them my "shovel feet". Maybe my shoe allergy was the result of the two years I spent as a wild child at Hickam AFB in Hawaii.  I still remember getting a tanning for throwing my shoes away on the way to school and showing up in class barefoot.  Regardless, as I grew up, I wore shoes as little as possible, even going so far as to try to go a complete year in college wearing no shoes.  I didn't make it, but I did last into December.

At some point I started wearing shoes more and bare feet less.  Seems it was around the time I got married about 33 years ago.  Marriage apparently brought quite a few changes to my lifestyle.  I would occasionally indulge in romping around the yard with no shoes, but for the most part, my barefootin days were over.  Being the responsible adult took over.  Responsible adults wear shoes.

So now it is 33 years later.  I grew accustomed to shoes.  I even had a couple of pair I really liked.  Until they wore out.  A few years ago I began to really hate shoes again.  Not the rebellion driven hate I had as a child, but the damn things became painful to wear for more than a few hours at a time.  My wife contended and still does that it is because I choose to wear bad footwear.  Flip flops, sneakers, slip on shoes, blah, blah  blah.  More sensible and higher quality shoes she said would solve my problem.

I bought more sensible shoes of higher quality.  Maybe there was some improvement, maybe there wasn't.  Since I have the history of bare foot rebel in my blood, I was not willing to recognize any tangible improvement that justified the price increase for the "more sensible shoes".  Shoes made my feet hurt and that was that.  Throwing $100 at a pair was not going to change anything.

Earlier this year the time line between no pain and true discomfort seemed to shrink.  Some pairs I owned I just could not wear any more.  I tried not tying the laces so tight, essentially turning the sensible shoes into non-sensible slip on's.  It was better, but I was still having issues after only a few hours with my dogs wrapped in leather and laces.

Must have been about the middle of April I began to go barefoot whenever I could.  I drove to the bike shop barefoot.  I worked barefoot.  And at home I stayed barefoot when not doing yard work or walking Stub over at Mary's Park across the road.

The result has been dramatic.  My feet have not felt this good in years.  Yeah, I've dinged them up some by stepping on some odd wire from a brake cable, or a screw carelessly dropped on the bike shop floor.  There is always something laying in wait for the fool who wears no shoes.  But cuts heal, bruises go away, and besides, the ding is local, not foot wide.  Should have done this years ago.

So this morning about 3:30 AM when I woke up and could not go back to sleep, I took a walk around my house and yard.  We had had some rain and when I walked back into the garage I left wet footprints on the garage floor.  I do not usually notice my footprints other than to acknowledge their existence.  But it was dark-thirty in the morning and with nothing else to do, naturally I thought I might as well have a Kodak moment.  The image at the top is the result.

As I had never really paid much attention to my footprints, I was struck by a couple of things.  It looks like I only have 8 toes.  The little piggies on both feet seem to have run all the way home and then past to some other home down the road.  Yet when I look down, there they are still attached in their original locations.  Guess they don't like getting wet is all.

I noticed my high arches were still high and had not fallen like so many that have walked the planet for 60 plus years.  And I assume that is a good thing.  I understand flat feet are no picnic.

I guess what I am taking away from this new found love affair with bare feet is that sensible shoes only make sense if they solve the problem.  Orthopedic shoes and their less expensive Dr Scholl insoles are only useful if they make your feet feel better.  I would say if your feet hurt and nothing else works, trying setting them free once in awhile.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Pole Thumper

I lifted the garage door this morning around 6:30 AM I guess.  The cooler than usual air that came in made me wonder if I shouldn't have some shoes on and maybe a long sleeve shirt.  I stepped outside  anyway.  The pavement felt ice cold under my bare feet.  The air made me shiver.  I loved it.  After a couple of months of hotter and wetter than usual weather, I was once again experiencing the Maine I imagined many times during this summer of shitty weather.

I leaned on the back of the pick up and took in the sounds of the morning.  Birds getting busy, the slight breeze that had made me shiver, and the old cock rooster that lives behind us.  A few minutes into my quiet time with my dooryard, I heard the sound of something heavy hitting a sold chunk of wood.  It came from my left.  All I saw was the orange warning light of a CMP truck.  The truck then moved down Sam Page and stopped next to the telephone pole we get our power and lights from.  A big fellow fought his way through my manicured pucker and swung a good sized mason's hammer at our pole.

"Thwack", followed immediately with another thwack as if to reinforce the findings of the first thwack.

I was curious and feeling unusually friendly for this early in the morning.  I walked over and engaged the big man in conversation.

"Checking the poles to see if they're solid?"

The big guy was almost back in his truck, but reversed himself and looked at me.  "Yep, only have have 1200 more on this circuit to check."

"How many poles on this circuit?"

"4700 or so.  It's a big one, must have 10,000 customers on it."

"Well, how's this one?"  I looked up at our pole that had been crooked since the first day I saw it.  "Seems it has some age on it.  Been here since at least the early 1960's."

"Jeez, this one's mint.  But the cross bars on the top will have to be swapped out.  All of them on this section will have to be.  Some of them are just barely hanging on."

Not particularly interested in the notion our power lines were hanging from crossbars of dubious integrity, I was more focused on the poles for some reason.

"What's the oldest pole you know of still in service."

The big guy did not say anything for a moment.  He watched the the 2 1/2 pound mason hammer swing like a pendulum in his right hand.  A few swings later he looked up at me and said, " Well sir, there's some poles over to one of the lakes in Shapleigh that date back to the 1930's."

"Wow.  Were they still solid?"

"Oh yeah. they're still in service."

I smiled at the big guy.  "Well, I won't hold you up.  I'm sure you have a lot of poles to thump today.  Keep it 'tween the ditches."

The big guy smiled back and said, "Oh yeah, lots of poles to thump today.  Hope it doesn't rain."  He climbed back in his CMP pick up and drove the 40 yards to the next pole.

This conversation got me tossing many things around in what is charitably called my mind.

We are a society of consumers who consume mindlessly without regard to what it takes to bring the consumables to our dooryards, TV sets, computers, and refrigerators. We only pay attention when we have been cutoff from those consumables.  And even then, all we want to know is when the gravy train will pick up again.

Pole thumping may seem a lowly and boring job.  After all it is but another of the anonymous chores and duties performed on a daily basis by millions of citizens everyday.  Pole thumping is not glamorous.  I would imagine there is very little drama in pole thumping.  And many might consider it a job with no life or death consequences.  All I know is I consider the pole thumper an important guy.  If not for him checking our pole every five years or so, the power I depend on to run the burner in the oil furnace during the dark of winter would probably not be the dependable, take it for granted service I have become accustomed to.

It also occurred to me that we as a society are very selective when praising the efforts of the various workers who provide us with goods and services.  When is the last time I thanked the guy who pumps out my septic tank?  When's the last time I stopped and thanked the town crew who keep my road clear of snow and the ditches hoed out in the summer?  Well, I cannot remember when if ever I had done that.  I appreciate the results of the efforts of these people, I just have never really thought about what they did to make me content.

Yeah, I guess I could say to myself, "Your pay check is all the thanks you deserve", and leave it at that.  But then I realize that these folks are performing necessary duties I have no interest in but without them, my lifestyle might be completely different.

So instead of applauding the movers and shakers who seem mostly full of hot air and empty promises, I would like to thank the folks who labor hard under the radar to keep this country moving in spite of the stupidity their supervisors and presidents come up with.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Route 109

Rte 109 is Acton's main artery to the World outside.  Roughly a north, south highway, it passes through Acton on it's it's way from the ocean to the eastern edges of southern New Hampshire.  The road outside my dooryard, used to be Rte 109.  When they re-routed it  about a 1/2 mile to my south sometime in the late 1960s, my road then became "Old 109".  It turned into Sam Page Road I guess about 10 -15 years ago when some bureaucrat up Augusta way decided that in order to make 911 work even worse than it did then, everyone had to have an address and every road had to have a name.  "Old 109" would not do.  A founding father from back in the day of oxen and log cabins was chosen to grace the the new green metal signs that sprung up one night or later the next day when I wasn't looking.  We were assigned an actual street number and given no choice as to whether we wanted to hang it out there for all to see. Welcome to the 21st century.

I don't know what my road was called before it was Rte109 and then Old 109.  I do know that it has been a main drag in this part of southern Maine for a couple of hundred years anyway.  The image above was taken from my lower driveway sometime around 1920.  The view, an overlook of the bustling downtown 500 yards west of me.  The church on the hill is still there.  The white house is too.  What is not still here is the house the dirt driveway on the right lead to.  It burned in the early 1950s and the barn was disassembled and moved down South Berwick way where it sits tall and proud today.

109 is a fine road.  By Maine standards, it is almost a super highway.  Has a shoulder and lines painted on it.  The state fixes it up more often than some other roads in the area.

I had a point before I began this post about a country road in southern Maine.  And damned if I didn't let myself forget what that point was.   Maybe it was how roads endure, even if we move them, destroy them, or forget them.  They will always lead us where we want, need, hate go.

Keep it 'tween the ditches................................................