Thursday, March 31, 2022

Things That Go Bump in the Night

When I was a child I was sure there were indeed things that went bump in the night, monsters under the bed, and closet creatures just waiting with bated breath to snatch me up and take me to their lairs. My parents would be understanding but firm about it being my problem, not theirs. 

My dad would grunt, "Go back to sleep Bug, there's nothing to fear."

Nothing to fear? Who was he kidding? Sinister Evil loitered in every nook and cranny of my room. But I would suck it up and cringe under the covers until the need to sleep overcame the need to be scared.

Eventually I learned to not fear the figments of my imagination. Rather, I embraced them, let them play out their worst case scenarios and then parked them in the dusty file marked "Get a Grip Mike".

Yet even now, fifty years later, when the flashlight is on, sometimes a figment will find its beam.

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

Tune for this post , "Haunted", by Evanescene

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

My Spot

This has become one of my favorite spots in the house. It certainly is not much of a spot. It is cold and drafty in the winter and in the summer, any biting bugs that are around tend to congregate here when I do. There is no chair, it is a standing room only spot. It took me 30 plus years to find this spot in my house. 

Often, when I am occupying this spot I am reminded of Carlos Castenada and his "Teachings of Don Juan". In this book of a personal journey to enlightenment, Don Juan takes Carlos into a shack with no furniture and tells him his first challenge is to find his "spot". He will know this spot when he finds it. Carlos spends hours trying to find his spot. Just as he begins to think Don Juan is just another loony tune old Mexican, he finds his spot. This is the point in the book I think when Carlos begins to shed his skepticism and began to accept the possibility of true enlightenment.

 When in "his spot", Carlos finds more profound meaning in his thoughts and the world around him. He feels that in this spot, he is safe. He is connected to the rhythms of the Universe. This spot was his and his alone. No one else would benefit from existing in this spot like he does. It was here his future connections to what is beyond conscious thought would take place.

Of course I have never expected anything so grand from any spot I chose to dwell in for any length of time. My spot has yet to release me from my worldly shackles. I cannot say that this spot has the power of Carlos' spot in that shack. It does however offer me a space I can create my own chaos free from the intrusive chaos and background noise out in the world existing beyond my window. It provides me with a safe haven as I bring order to the self inflicted chaos I have allowed to stink up the clutter that makes up my mind..

This spot is perfect because it is small. Small works well for me. Sometimes, the tighter confines feel almost like a hug.

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

My musical companion this post is "Holding Back the Years" by Simply Red. It has little to do with my spot  on the surface. But like my spot in the garage it comforts me and whenever I hear it, I smile and my mind always calms a bit.

Monday, March 07, 2022

We Can Kiss Our Asses Goodbye

On the periphery of possible outcomes created by Putin's invasion of Ukraine; call it the last and worst case scenario of how it might all end, would be a nuclear war between the USA and Russia. If Humanity survived at all, any event like that would create a total reset of our planet's day to day struggles for the populations left standing. The survivors would have a serious hole to crawl out of.

This debate of the worst case scenario has dredged up memories for me when I was a kid living in Tampa, Florida in the Fall of 1962. Most adults my age living in the USA at that time should have a memory of the crazy events that played out back then.

Communist Cuba's existence was a focal point for Cold War shenanigans between the Communists of the USSR(Russia) and the freedom loving , flag waving ,Leave it to Beaver loving United States. Our blood ran red. Our politics did not. The Russian Bear was the world's biggest bogeyman and we kids were well ingrained with the horrors we would suffer should the Reds invade the land of Mom, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet. I assume the Reds had also filled their children's minds with the same kind of garbage. We were taught to hate each other. And sadly it appears we still do.

Regardless, at that time of mutual sword rattling and one upmanship, the Russians thought installing nuke rockets in Cuba would be a helluva deterrent to any chicanery the US might want to inflict on Mother Russia.It seemed their leader, Nikita Khrushchev, did not think much of John Kennedy, our president at the time. He considered President Kennedy weak and stupid, no doubt partly based on JFK's mis-handling of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April of 1961, a year  earlier.

So in October of 1962, Russian tankers were caught sailing for Cuba. They were loaded with nuke missiles and all the mechanical and human support they needed to be operational shortly after landing. It was supposed be a clandestine operation, but the US caught wind of it while the tankers were still en-route.

Having nukes aimed at the USA from only 90 miles away was an untenable and scary situation. President Kennedy jumped all over it, sending planes, boats, and irate messages to warn the Rooskies to back down. Khrushchev did not blink at first, but then under increasingly more lethal threats and movements of nukes by the USA, he ended up re-calling the flotilla of Nuke bomb boats and the planet dodged a very serious moment where Humanity's survival was at stake.

I was in fourth grade at the time. I attended Dale Mabry Elementary School in Tampa, Florida. My home was located just down the road from a SAC base named MacDill Air Base. It was home to many Strategic Nuclear bombers we had back then.They were used as deterrent to any nuclear threat the Russians might choose to fling at us. Any SAC base would be on the number one target list for first strike Russian nukes. They were in the air 24/7 waiting for the go ahead to bomb the Hell out of Russia.

The whole of Florida was probably more anxious and scared than most of America, what with the Russian Nukes only 90 miles from Miami and a major SAC base in Tampa.

The Federal government tried their best to come up with ways to ease the nation's anxiety levels. Of the ones I remember the most were the air raid drills we practiced in school.

Once the siren went off, we were to crawl under our desks and stay there until the "All Clear" siren sounded. Then lining up next to the door of the classroom, we would file dutifully and without panic to congregate with the rest of the school in the Gym/All purpose room and wait (again dutifully and without panic), uh, wait patiently until an adult told us what was next.

I remember that the fuzzy thinking they used once we were in the Gym bothered me. Maybe that was one of my earlier warnings that Adults really don't have their shit together all the time and I would be wise to be suspicious of them.

After the first air raid indoctrination, I went home and proceeded with the rest of my day. I probably did not think about the air raid drill until dinner time that night. It had to be TV Tray night because Mom, Dad, and myself were watching TV while we ate. I loved TV Tray night.

The news cycles that Fall were all about relations with Russia and Cuba. A news piece came on regarding the nation wide effort to prepare Americans for a possible Nuclear confrontation with Russia. Rather than play it down, they used rhetoric and images that were meant to wake America up to the possible reality we might all be dead meat soon. One segment showed a classroom of kids practicing an air raid drill.

That's when I spoke up. "We did that today."

I remember my father looking at me with what I remember now as a nonplussed look. Not often was he caught off guard like he looked at that moment. As it turned out, he was deciding whether to respond truthfully or parrot the government line. He chose the former.

Still looking at me, he said something to the effect, " If we get into a shooting war with Russia, hiding under your desk will be useless, especially because we are in a first priority target area and Ground Zero is only 5 miles away. We won't have time to get under our desks or even have time to kiss our asses goodbye. "

That night was the first night of the "I was afraid to die" period I went through for several months. My father scared me silly with his statement combined with the look on his face. I knew he knew what he was talking about. He was a recently retired general of that Air Force that would be tasked with deterring the Russians.

The next day I raised my hand and basically told the teacher and the class what my father had said. That created my first of many future visits to the principal's office I would experience at Dale Mabry School. I was sent home with a note asking to set up a meet with both my parents. Boy, didn't that piss my ole man off, especially after he knew he was being called on the carpet for telling his son the truth. I was scared witless, because I had never been to the principal's office before and the notion of entering it again with both parents in tow just sounded like the kind of Hell no child would ever want to go through.

At the meeting, before the principal could open her mouth, my father asked that I be excused to go back to class as this issue was now between he and the principal. The principal relented and I was sent back to class. All the way back, I was so happy to dodge that bullet.

It was not until that night at dinner did I get an inkling of how it went with my parents and the principal. Mom started to talk about it. My father held up his shush finger. My mom, as was her in his face style, continued anyway. " You sure shut that principal up in short order Bob."

"I straightened her out on the facts is all I did."

"Well, she had a point about creating panic, didn't she?"

My dad sighed. "Hiding the truth helps no one, least of all, anyone within a 50 mile radius of MacDill. .... And that makes me think of all the above ground bomb shelters our neighbors are building. They'll be dust..... and even if they survive the blast, their lives are over from the radiation."

It was Christmas before I began to not be afraid of dying. The funny thing is, I have never again been afraid of dying without being in a moment  that was life threatening. Thankfully, my close calls have been few.

When I was maybe ten years older and that period was brought up in family conversation, I asked my father why we did not move. He looked at me a moment and then asked, "And move where?" 

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

My musical selection was more difficult to make than it should have been. I had the music before I wrote a word. But then I thought I could find  more appropriate tune other than "Eve of Destruction", by Barry McGuire. But it didn't. I finally decided the tune that really nails the insanity and evil of this latest conflict is an oldie from back in the day - "War" by Edwin Starr.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Time Will Tell

 So it's Saturday and ten days after the invasion began.  The Russians are beginning to have their way with Ukraine. I think all of us knew this war would find itself in this situation. We were just pleasantly surprised it has taken so long for the Russians to get as far as they have. I think we also know Ukraine will not stop resisting, no matter how many Russian troops stink up the place. The Russians will pay a very steep price for this stupidity. The courage the Ukrainians have shown so far is incredible. 

I think the Russian generals have figured out that crushing Ukraine will not be a cake walk. So they have already pulled some favorite dirty tricks out of their huge bag of dirty tricks. They agreed the other day to a cease fire for evacuations to proceed in the form of a safety corridor for evacuations of civilians . Then before the ink was dry, began  bombardments again and laid the blame on Ukraine for the violation.

Vlad and his goons never seem to stray too far from their time honored tradition of using any means to attain their goals, with the emphasis on brutal means rather than any effort to include nonviolent means. Promises from Russia regarding their support for nonviolent conclusions always turns into lip service so their chosen victims will let their guards down. Look to Syria if you want a perfect example of Russian tactics when they are using armed conflict to achieve anything.

So now, as the West wrings its hands harder, the question is what can we here in the West do to increase our pressure on Russia? No matter what the West chooses to do in addition to what has been done already on Ukraine's behalf, a decrease in the creature comforts considered birth rites will affect everyone in the West.

Just where does our gung ho support stop once we see gas go over $10 a gallon? Where does the righteous indignation over the invasion of another country cross the line into anger over the cost and inconvenience to our couch comfortable lifestyles?  

Based on historical precedent, I don't see the West tolerating too many constraints on their fat lifestyles for too long.

Only time will tell. It always does. How much time is the question? And time is not what Ukraine has much left of.

Later ...................................


I was sure I had the tune I wanted. As I wrote this, all I could think about was "For What its Worth" recorded in the 1960s by Buffalo Springfield. It was the song that helped me in my trip to becoming a limp wristed pink commie anti war losing Hippie. But once I listened to it again, I realized it didn't fit as cleanly as I thought. And then I came across this version of that classic anti war tune.

This is "Stop and Bust a Move" with some more modern mixing by Young MC. It flippin rocks. Turn it up to wow! Its a definite toe tapper.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Dude, Big Bro is After You

Facebook has finally begun to target me. I was a tad disappointed when online friends were being banned for whatever. I wondered if my comments and posts were so pasteurized and unremarkable that alarm bells at Facebook's "Community Standards" enclave stayed silent. I thought maybe I was being slighted in some way.

Well, I do not have to worry. They have found me and now I guess I have been assigned a higher designation on their "Look out, this guy's a troublemaker" watch list.

Twice today, I have had my knuckles smacked. Dire threats of further, more heinous actions are in my future should I continue rocking their boat.

The first no-no that raised their hackles was my sharing the mocked up "Time" magazine cover that connected Putin and Hitler in a very clever visual image. I knew Facebook tight asses were excluding this image, yet I still posted it. I did however in my lead in comments, declare the cover was a mock up, a fake and Time had nothing to do with it. Didn't matter. Facebook shut it down.

Then not 30 minutes ago, I received a more threatening message regarding a comment I made on a friend's page. The initial message had links to follow. They all warned me of more severe punishments if I continued to disparage any race group, even my own. I probably compounded the problem by including the word"damn" in with my comment.

I cannot really complain about Facebook's removal of anything I might post. Mark Zuckerberg owns it and can run it anyway he wants. That I consider him just another greedy oligarch with little ethical or moral reasons for anything he does is beside the point. 

Anyway, I feel better now that I have pushed back even the smidgen I did against the arbitrary and capricious rules of one of the tyrants of the Internet. 

Later ..................................

I have recently begun to add a musical note to my posts. I almost allowed this one to exist without some nod to music lovers everywhere. I know my choices do not fall into the quiver of tunes we all carry, but you never know, you might find a new song you never heard and end up liking it. I already can say just looking for the tunes has done that for me.

Anyway, today's musical choice is "World's Dirtiest Song" by Bird and McDonald. It is appropriate that it is a live rendition at a Redd Fox show. It also makes me think of a song after the tight asses at Facebook's Community Standards inquisition board had their way with it. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Democrat Scum

Yesterday while strolling through my local gun rights group page on Facebook, I came upon a post regarding a President Biden comment on guns. I read some comments until I came to Barbara's comment about 6 or 7 indignant responses in.

Out of the blue, Barbara wrote, "Dumbest president ever!!!!" 

"Awesome", I thought. "And what a nice finish with the multi-typed exclamation points. You are a serious woman Barbara. Do I dare mess with you?"

I love poking the Righteously Indignant Bears of the Winger variety, especially the ones that blatantly lead with their chin. Besides I am weak and could not resist.

I responded, " Not sure if you got the memo, but Trump is no longer president."

The smoke from my key board had not even dissipated yet and the little blue bell on the upper right side of my Facebook page lit up telling me I had a new comment. It was from Barbara.

"I never said Trump was president. I meant Biden. Pay attention."

I pictured Barbara pushing herself back into her chair with a self satisfied smile on her face. She had just straightened someone out.

I hesitated responding to her obvious failure to recognize my attempt at humor. But then I realized I was interacting with a gun nut and now I knew she was a gun nut who most likely was a boot licking Trump lover. 

This time I did not hesitate. A pot needed stirring and I was gonna stir it.

I wrote back, "Well Barbara, since Trump is numb-er than a bucket of pounded thumbs and arguably the dumbest man on the planet, I assumed you just got mixed up for a second. Now I can see you are just not that bright. Bless your heart though and good luck."

Again, almost instant response like she had sat poised with fingers over the keys just waiting to pounce on me with some witty Winger comeback. 

Then on my screen, "DEMOCRAT SCUM!!!!!!"

"Ouch Barbara, that cut me to my core. Darlin, you have a nice day now, you hear."

Of course I smiled as I finished. I had done what I came to do.

The satisfaction I felt at that moment was too much. I quickly felt a pang of regret and guilt........

But I was back smiling again in a few seconds.

Not five minutes later, our exchange disappeared as if it never happened. I was not sanctioned and I hope Barbara was not. We was just funnin with each other, right?

Keep it "tween the ditches .........................................................


The tune for today's post is "Angry Girl" - Syleena Johnson.