Two Stories

I stared intelligently at the page, hoping that the intelligent look would somehow translate into intelligent action.

Nothing would come though.

I was vaguely annoyed, because it is difficult to be precisely annoyed at something that you cannot quite put your finger on.

Then I realized what the hell the problem was.  And it was pretty simple.

Staring intelligently at anything, while there is nary a thought in mind, doesn’t get anything done.

So I sat and thought and a picture formed in my mind.  Words began to form, swirl in a maelstrom of emotion, and this is what came out…

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A fight broke out ahead of us, near the entrance of the bar as we were leaving after hanging out for a quick post parade drink .  A small pack of us, 5 to be exact, were moving single file through the packed cramped dimly lit bar, or were trying to, when the fight that began like fights in bars usually do, some guy said something about some girl or some such, and things escalated and reached us in a few seconds.

There was a movement in the crowd, someone coming towards us from that direction, while I lead the group trying to get out the door moving towards the disturbance.  There was nowhere to go.  The smell of beer, whiskey, and something which I could not readily recognize filled my nostrils right until the moment I got hit.

It was a good shot, a straight right, right in the bridge of the nose.  Right between the eyes.  Felt like I got nailed with a brick.  I was stunned momentarily, or felt like it.  I kept moving forward as best I could.  I got lucky and grabbed the arm that struck me.  Lucky for me, not for him.  He tried to swing again with his left, but I used an simple old trick I had learned years before.  I threw a straight right palm heel at his face while pulling him towards me with my left.

I’m not a big guy, but neither was he, and the combination of momentum and punch put the bastard on the floor.  But the grasp on his right arm with my left, combined with momentum pulled me off kilter, and I leaned forward.  While fighting to just stay on my feet, I released his arm and pulled mine away before he had a chance to grab me in return and pull me to the ground and turn the whole damn thing into a messy ground fight.  A hand from behind grasped the back of my jacket and helped keep me upright and aimed towards the door.

“What the fuck?”  yelled Tom, the biggest guy I was hanging out with just behind me as he pulled me upright.  “Want me on point, George?” He barked.  I never got a chance to answer because the guy who I hit was struggling to get up, and was swinging as he did it, or trying to.  It’s hard to swing from your back, and I had the advantage of being on my feet, so I stepped on him a few times. First on his right thigh, and then his stomach, then an arm, then his chest while he clawed at my legs and tried in vain to hit me, yelling the whole time.  I thought I felt something hit my left leg, but It didn’t seem like much.

I wiped my feet on him like he was a carpet.

I looked at him and said “Cut the shit.  I’m out.  Asshole.  Let’s go fellas.” Adrenaline had made talk more complex than that impossible, and I felt like shit.  With my face beginning to throb, I walked shaking, blood slowly dripping down my face from the shot to my nose, out of the bar, with people staring at me the whole way, none too pleased with us as we neared the point where the first fight happened a few seconds before…

to be continued?  perhaps…

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And now for something completely different…

The amount of rainfall was tremendous.  The wind was absolutely astounding.  Soaked to the bone, completely waterlogged, drenched.  I was to say the least wet.  If I left the house weighing 165 pounds, I came back weighing 175, such was the amount of water that my clothing absorbed.

Twenty minutes before I left the house the rain had yet to start.  It did look like it was getting ready to but it had not started yet, and the forecast and the radar didn’t really look all that bad, so I wasn’t worried about it.  When I left the house the rain was not falling all that hard.  I didn’t give it a second thought.

The deluge began in earnest as I got to the park to run the first of 5 laps.  The wind as it comes through the park acts curiously thanks to the valley walls and how and where they are situated.  The park path layout is roughly oval shaped, and I enter the park from it’s northwestern edge.  The upshot of this is that I run in to the teeth of the wind as I enter the park, due to the way the wind interacts with the valley.

I got soaked and slowed down during today’s 10.9 mile run.  Thirty nine degrees and twenty plus mph winds in heavy rain is kinda hard to run fast in.  Rain runs are usually fun but conditions today were a bit much, even for me.  I was going to go shorter today, but decided to try for a longer run today, because of the 12 days I had missed in February.  I was short mileage. I was hoping for another 200 mile month, but all those days off made even a 100 mile month a question mark.  Happy to have made the 100 mile mark.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Michigan Primary

I was interested in watching the election results for Michigan come in.  I knew Arizona was going to go to Romney, polling never swayed from Romney once.  Michigan is the big question mark here, the one that can either hurt Mitt or catapult him past Santorum going into super Tuesday, with it’s numerous match-ups, including the all important Ohio race.

And Santorum looks like he is giving Mitt all the fight he can handle.  At:10:03 pm, Romney is winning by 4 points over Santorum, though there are a number of counties that have large swaths of population yet to be counted, that have Rick Santorum leading at this point.  Which tells me that the number should tighten somewhat before the night concludes.  Kent and Ottawa counties in particular look like they could well tip the scales much in Mr. Santorum’s favor before the night is done.  Kent has but 22% of precincts reporting, and Santorum is leading there by 5%.  Ottawa county has Rick up by 16%, nearly 3,000 votes with just over 1/3rd of the precincts counted.

Now to be fair to Mitt, he is winning big in the two largest counties in Michigan, or at least the largest Republican voting counties in Michigan.  Wayne county has 60% of precincts reporting and Mitt is winning there by 10,000 votes, and in Oakland county he is leading by a whopping 26,000 votes with an identical 60% of precincts reporting.

Romney is winning the State right now by 30,000 votes, and he is leading in these two counties by a total of 36,000.

Mitt had better hope there is not a late surge in Santorum voters from the last reporting precincts, especially in Wayne and Oakland Co’s.

So unless Rick has something up his sleeve, Oakland and Wayne counties alone should keep him from winning, but Romney’s inability to do much of anything anywhere else will keep things close.

Biggest loser of the night?  Mr. Irrelevant himself, Newt Gingrich.  Newt has not been able to even carry third place in most of the counties of  the Wolverine state.  In the few that he has done so, five of the six are in northern mainland Michigan (not the Yoopers), and he generally garnered between 8 and 10% of the vote, from beating Ron Paul by 1 vote in Roscommon county, 123 to 122 votes, out of 1600 voters to his landslide 3rd place finish, where he received 355 votes in Leelanau county (sounds Hawaiian, doesn’t it?) out of 3869 votes.

That is where he did well, ladies and gentlemen.  In most other counties he could barely scrape together 5 or 6% of the vote.

The Newt got STOMPED in Michigan tonight. Reminds me of a song…

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over…”

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Breaking news:  it’s 10:37 pm, and Mitt has just been declared the winner of the Michigan primary. Looking at the numbers, Rick Santorum did well out there, but wasn’t able to win the major population centers, and wasn’t able to hold the Republican party’s center (if it could truly be said to have one,) and lost a tight race as a result.

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Pic of the day:  A wolverine, courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Is Not

Pic of the day:  Mister Pertuiset The Lion Hunter, By Edouard Manet

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Guns don’t kill people, people do.  Well, guns do kill people, but they have to be in the hands of people for that to happen, obviously.  So how do we stop people from killing people with guns? Take guns away from people? NO!  That’ll never work, the people who like guns will bitch like the bitches that they are that their rights are being trampled on.  Might be true, might not be.  Dunno.

I’ve lived all my life without a gun, and only once was on the wrong end of one.  It sucked but the incident did not change my mind on how to handle the usage of the damn things.

But that is neither here nor there.  The question still remains, how do we stop people from killing each other with the damn things? Can’t make the guns illegal, people will bitch, plus, ya might need the damn things at some point.  Can’t make the bullets illegal, that’s just dumb, makes them useless, and like I said, ya might need them at some point.

What to do? Nothing?  No, you can’t do nothing. To give up the fight against violence, which happens to be a personal favorite oxymoron of mine, is not an option.  We have a right to protect ourselves, to be safe and secure as we see fit.  And regardless of what you may think, there are people who feel safer with guns than without.  And it would be selfish to take away from them what is theirs, their peace and serenity.

More laws? No, that doesn’t work, all that does is shift the burden to the government, to police, and to the courts which are already overburdened to begin with.  Making more laws against guns and the people who use them makes as much sense as doing the same thing to abortion doctors and women.  You cannot stop violence any more than you can stop abortion.  Humans will do as they please.

I would make more analogies between abortion legislation (or some other legislation) and gun legislation but they don’t really work.  Analogies rarely do exactly what they are intended to, especially when placed in a legal context.

There is not an easy answer anywhere no matter how you slice it.

Convince people to be more ethical and less violent?  The only people who would listen would be the people who already have a handle on their urges.  Preaching to the choir might feel good, but it doesn’t actually fix anything.  Jared Loughner would never have been convinced with words to stop his evil ways, any more than any other nut who shoots strangers, or people they know or whatever.

The only way to stop it is to see the crazy before it shows up and nip it in  the bud there.  Take away the impetus that these crazy people feel that makes them want to shoot people, and they won’t do it (hopefully.)  Not everyone can be reached, there is simply no way to be able to know where and when and how crazy will show up.

Good luck figuring out how to do that.  I’m sure that even Buddha, Jesus and Gandhi would have had hard time with that.

If we were good at doing it, Jared Loughner never would have shot Rep. Giffords.  Those kids that got their asses shot off in Ohio today would never have gotten shot, and the parents of the dead child would not have to bury their child far before that child’s time.

Better parenting and teaching  responsibility and being responsible might help, but it might not.  Like I said, some people just can’t be reached.

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Just as the good actor perform well whatever role the poet assigns, so too must the good man perform whatever Fortune assigns. For she, says Bion, just like a poet, sometimes assigns the leading role, sometimes that of the supporting role; sometimes that of a king, sometimes that of a beggar. Do not, therefore, being a supporting actor, desire the role of the lead.

Bion of Borysthenes

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Is

Pic of the day:  The Banshee, by H.M. Ram

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Merriment behind me, nothing ahead.

Around me the sounds of music made by better musicians than I, around me darkness.

To my left scenes of my happy past, to my right a flower and some candles.

In front of me the caricature of a dead man who thought being good to your fellow man was a great idea, and they killed him for it.

Images of speed and beauty next to him, with words of encouragement along with the images.

Memories of days gone by, of days gone by, days gone by, gone by, gone.

Four legs and a tail sits with eyes closed and contemplates it’s universe, beautifully carnivorous thoughts dance there, and tiny fangs show.

A picture of contentment arm in arm above the four legs and a tail.

Look at it all, and wonder why I feel the way I do.

Another persons words come to mind, “Joyful participation in the suffering of the world.”

The world is suffering? The world is suffering.  The world is suffering? The world is suffering.  Participate? In Suffering?  I guess…

But I don’t mind so much, I don’t mind, I don’t, don’t.

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This thing up here, this consciousness, thinks it’s running the shop. It’s a secondary organ. It’s a secondary organ of a total human being, and it must not put itself in control. It must submit and serve the humanity of the body.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

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It still hasn’t really sunk in for some reason.  I still go there expecting to see him, to see his smile, to hear his voice, listen to the sound of him eating, living, being.  But he is not there. Gone. Forever.  But his picture remains. Some of his other things still around.  His ball caps, his chair, his lamp.  His presence is still felt.

I don’t have tears, just confusion.  It’s not a why, not a how, but a where.  I don’t ask why is he gone.  When someone is gone they are gone and that is all.  I know how, the how is the way of all flesh, and it comes for us all in time.  But where?  I expect him to pop up, just be there, smiling, cap on, talking about heading to the store to get scratch tickets, or going to get the car cleaned, or calling Alex Rodriguez “tootie-pie” or some such.

Which is odd.  It isn’t denial, I know he’s gone.  But it was such a surreal experience, his last days, that it almost had a dream like quality to it, and I half expect to wake up from the dream and find him still here.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Yesterday’s Brush

Once when the old man was young, he thought he was stronger than anyone.  He was laughably wrong.  He was a skinny kid with an ego the size of the planet, but strong?  Not really.  He wonders now what that kid would think of the man that he has become. Would he look at him doing his job and think he must be strong?  Would he laugh and say he was better than that?

No way to know.  The old man thought this, and realized it was a silly thought, and let it go.

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So when I started writing this old man thing, taking the old man motif to heart, I was trying to flesh out a character for a book.

I still am.

I need to do a fair bit more though.

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The old man read the news.  For him it was a form of entertainment.  He looked at the news in much the way that younger people look at  reality television,  except maybe for the fact that the news was in fact reality and not non-scripted drama.  That might be wrong, but he was more than willing to be wrong on this one.  He saw news as reality to some extent,though it is in fact both non-scripted and drama, not intentionally so.

The news he was reading was spun, so it had more in common with reality television.  It was political news, and is real entertainment, much more so than all other news.  The old man usually got a laugh at it most days, and this day was no different.  Lots of news about Mitt Romney, about having to “recalibrate” his campaign among other headlines.  The old man looked at this and thought “He didn’t think there would be a fight this tough, this guy reminds me of Hillary Clinton in 2008.  But he isn’t running against anyone as good as Obama was back then, so he still has a chance.”

Then the old man realized that part of the problem with any of the analogies that he was tempted to use, like calling Romney this cycles Hillary Clinton, make a very common mistake.  The mistake was of trying to make today’s reality fit our view of yesterday’s world.  It just doesn’t work.

He knows this is 2012, not 2008. Yesterday matters, but not so much that we should paint today with yesterday’s brush.

Mitt Romney is not the ex-wife of a former President, and a very popular one at that, nor is he an ex-senator.  Nor is his main opponent at this point a substitute for the sitting President circa 2008.   Santorum is not a Hawaiian, nor does he have a white mother and a black father, nor is he fighting the most liberal man in America label.

The old man thought it was funny that Romney has to recalibrate, and that the first thing he thought was he was like Hillary Clinton.

But he left it at that.  He stopped reading the news, one story was enough.  He had things to do, entertainment is for when there are no things to do, and he had things to do.

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I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my Mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.

Mitt Romney, 1994

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

The Scent Of Coffee Lingering

The old man wanted to take a day off but he knew there was no such thing as a day off.  There were days out of work, days where you did not make money, but no such thing as a day off, really.  Not for adults.  Something is always on, something always going that needs attention.  Bills to pay, work to do to make money, work to do around the house to make sure that the place looks the way he wants it to, cats to feed, a wife to work with…

Well, normally that last one is true but the old man’s old woman went out for a few days.  Business out of town, so he has the place to himself.  Which means the lights are lower, and the volume of things is lower slightly, but there is also less laughter and happiness.  No one to tell things to after a long day at work, no one there to ask how the day was, she is not there to tell him of the goings on in her world whilst he was away.

She is managing, so he will too.

He sat in the darkened room relaxing to the sound of Frank Sinatra, summer wind, the scent of coffee lingering around the house.  He hears the cats chasing each other around, and smiles.  Looks behind him, sees them fighting, gets a cat toy and tosses it at them, the small plush toy landing on the smaller, older cat, scattering the two of them.

He laughs at this, as the young fat one skitters past his chair and onto the top of the sofa, eyes ablaze.  The older cat, waits for the young cat to go, and then saunters off to eat in the kitchen, like he always does after these confrontations.  The old man sticks his hand out towards the younger cat.  “Rah daaah, Rah daaah, calmness Rah daaah!”  The cat sniffs his hand momentarily, hoping it might hold food.  It holds none, so he shakes his head, and runs off to cause trouble and make noise elsewhere.

As the music changed from Frank to Nat King Cole singing, of all things “Smile.”  The old man thought of his wife, and wondered what she was doing at that moment, and realized it didn’t really matter.  So long as she is happy and safe, that’s all he cared about…

The pain that was sitting in his ankle kicked in again and stopped him in mid-reverie.  He snarled a curt “Dammit!” to no one in particular and rubbed his sore ankle.  The younger cat, who had since calmed down for almost 10 entire seconds was startled by his exclamation, and the young fat cat skittered off of his perch on the couch that he had just gotten to, and careened into the hall.  The old man smiled at this, still rubbing his ankle “Calmness, Rah daaaah!  I didn’t mean to startle ya! calmness”  He wiggled his toes at the cat, who was instantly alert, ready to pounce on them.

But he wouldn’t do that, at least he didn’t think he would.  But his feet were also not in a position for the cat to easily get to them.

There might not be days off, the old man thought to himself, but there are moments, and that is enough for him.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Get To It

The old man was getting ready to go do his job again. Break time was over, but he lingered over that cup of coffee for a few more seconds, trying to get all the rest from those last few moments of break as he could. The job ahead was not a small one, and he was a wee bit tired. He hadn’t had enough sleep the night before.

And he had to hang the entire floor alone for the first time. Flying solo. Nice. He’d never done this before, there had always been help before. Should be fun, but there was a large amount of hanging to be done. And the old man liked the work. But this was stepping up to a whole new level for him, he’d never done an entire floor alone before.

He had worked for years, what seemed an entire lifetime working a different job with different stresses, with people he liked not at all, but knew the job so well he didn’t care about that over much. Now he worked with people he liked in a job that would have, 2 years prior, seemed like a fantasy land. He never thought about this line of work. He never had to. He never thought about the work that went into doing the things that he was doing now.

Because there was no need. It was simply not anywhere in his spectrum, nowhere did it broadcast on his wavelength at that point. And that is part of what is so great about it. There are office politics, but it isn’t of the same caliber. There is crap that happens that people complain about, but it isn’t of the same magnitude. There is stress, and a deadline regardless of where you work is always a bitch to run up against, but those things never bothered the old man much anyway. They gave him a headache, but that’s what they’re for.

But a ton of work doing what he was doing, and doing it alone showed him a few things. One was that they trusted him. And he liked that, he was humbled by it, and he was thankful for it. The old man hoped he would do them proud. Not the organization itself per se, but the people who he had spoken to, who gave him the specific job to do. These people he had known for the few months he had been on this job, and he liked them, and was happy to work for them.

He got to it. As he set eyes on the job ahead he took count of the number of works to hang. Four old posters, real posters, not those things they hang now, 5 and 6 footers. Not Toulouse-Lautrec exactly, but that size. Might be a momentary issue, but it should be easy stuff. There is a low ceiling here, and the large pieces make it difficult to get a proper hang height. It’s got to look museum quality, can’t just throw it up there, if you could anyone could do this.

Half a dozen mirrors. The wood on some of these things looks to have been worm infested at some point, weak structurally, gonna have to be very careful with those. The big ones are just that, big. No major deal, aside from those already mentioned with the posters. Weight would be an issue but the equipment we have for the heavy stuff makes sure it’ll hold properly. Save the real heavy ones for last. Have to re-wire one piece. Nice.

Twenty to twenty five oil colors and other paintings. This stuff will be fun, but there is one triple hang that might be an issue. The place where it will be hanging will look funny hanging it regularly, and the hangar that these walls have attached to them are not very long, and three pieces there might be hard to fit. If it was just a regular wall, hammer and nails would make that job a snap. Can’t do that here. Some of the other oils are so long they will require multiple hangars for the walls.

The old man likes this job. He smiles every day because of it.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.