A Quiet Moment

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Wake up.

Get out of bed, stumble around.

The world swims for a moment. Take a step and with one foot still in the air, my second step of the day, I nearly lose my balance, catch myself and try not to step on gatito as I go through the daily ritual of figuring out how the hell to move around and not damage myself too extensively.

“Mew!”

Look down at the cat who is blissfully unaware of anything else but it’s need for food and attention.

“Gatito!”

He moves on and leaves the room, then turns and waits for me, sitting next to his sister, who was the cat who stood on my head and mewed at me until I made the decision to deal with it and get my fat lazy ass out of bed and feed them. The only decision she cared about at the time.

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I think all cats are wild. They only act tame if there’s a saucer of milk in it for them. ~ Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See (1991)

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I step out of the bedroom, scratch my ass, and notice the floor is again covered in small black dots. That’s what they look like to me without my glasses on. Those black dots are in fact little spots of cat fur.  The world swims again, and this time I lurch to the left and bump into the wall.

Think Gotta vacuum again…Goddamn stupid inner ear

Shake my head, laugh, head to the kitchen, cats leading the way. Hit the power button on my desktop computer as I walk by. An urge hits me, so I said “Alexa, play Rachmaninoff.” I’m not a particular fan of Sergei’s work, and I don’t normally listen to classical music, not as much as I used to anyway. I like it, but it’s not for every day consumption. The words came out of my head like someone else said them. The thought didn’t exist the moment before I uttered the words. I rationalized it by thinking it must be something to do with all the news about Russia recently.

Think Goddamn stupid Russians.

“Shuffling songs by Sergei Rachmaninoff.” The singsong voice from the small hockey puck sized device next to my wife’s chair came out quietly. I had turned the volume down. A few notes from a piano, high pitched, struggle to make themselves heard. I let them struggle and go to the kitchen.

I walk in and both cats are simultaneously mewing to me, the girl, Daisy, more vocal and closer. The duet is rare from them, so I look down to see no food at all in their dishes.

“Are you a hungry gatita?” She looks at me, her eyes widen slightly and she mews again in response.  I pick her up as her brother, a large furry ball of black fur, as he jumps on the table and turns to make eye contact with me. “Hungry gatos, Eh?” She in my hand, belly up, purring furiously, he looking intently at me, leaning in towards me slightly, as if eye contact were enough to explain hunger. Which it is.

Put her down, stoop to open the wood stained cabinet. Head doesn’t swim. Good. Grab two cans at semi-random and walk over the the small dirty counter near the window. Think Need to clean the counter, dammit and tap the two cans together to signal to the cats that it’s time to eat. Look at the coffee pot, upside down, think not a thing about it. Open the pop top cans. She jumps on the counter and the moment I pull the cover off of one can she begins to eat. Open the other can and let the other cat, Fozzy, eat straight from it. Shouldn’t but I do. He doesn’t mind, hunger trumps everything in his world at this particular moment.

Everything is right in the world.

 

Things to Remember

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James Madison in party mode.

 

Things to remember as 2016 becomes 2017:

First off, everything is going to be alright.  Right up until the moment it isn’t, and since you obviously can’t control that, why concern yourself overly with it. Enjoy the good things. There are many of them.

Secondly realize that in this world we have this thing called entropy, which means that everything goes to hell in some way at some point, and usually in a way that we have not foreseen. Think about it. How much of the shitstorm that was 2016 did you foresee? How much of it was avoidable? And to be honest was it ALL that bad? Somehow I’m thinking there were good things too.

Thirdly, the very concept of shitstorm is invariably in the mind of the beholder. I am sure that there are a great many people who had a really good year in 2016. Just because your candidate didn’t win, there was a higher than normal amount of stress in your world and some of your cultural idols died does not mean it was the worst year ever.

Fourth, there are people out there who had a great year, some for reasons you would find 399px-Jabberwocky appalling. There are millions of people who like the Oompah Loompah for example. Millions. Which is fine. We have this thing called freedom in this country. Don’t denigrate them because of him, or because they think differently than you, or want different things in their lives than you. Find a way to incorporate their lives into yours. They are, by and large good people. Don’t treat them like shit because you think differently from them, that helps no one. They aren’t the problem, you are, especially if you feel the need to be angry at them simply because of their politics. There is more than politics in the lives of most people. And, here’s a hint; you won’t make things turn around for you politically by alienating people you will need to work with later. That isn’t how politics works, not in the real world, regardless of what you think of that. Make friends with your political enemies where possible, hope always exists in places where enemies can become friends.

You will have a very hard time convincing me that 2016 was in some way worse than say the years of WWII, or The years of the great depression or great recession or the civil war years.

Doesn’t mean President-elect Oompah Loompah isn’t an asshole. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t tragedy in 2016. There was. It’s hard to not have tragedy in a world with this many people in it. I’m just saying as 2016 goes the way of the Dodo, have some perspective. You are strong and resilient. This is still America. We are a strong people. Things have gone right in other places. Be thankful for that.

Anger

Bunnies are assholes sometimes.

I for one could say I had a great year. After years of first searching for a new career and then trying to get hired on full time in that career, I finally landed that full time job. Almost shed a tear when I found out I had made it, so long and arduous was the journey.  Let’s see what else. I’m still a runner. Which, for those of you that aren’t, is great for clearing the mind and strengthening the body, and in the long run makes the person who does it tireless. I highly recommend it. If a two hour run ain’t kicking my ass, no way a few extra hours of work will. On top of all that, I’m still married to the most awesome person ever. If you have a happy place to go to, it makes everything easier, and home is a happy place for me, she makes me happy. With that as my sword and shield, I can take on the world and win, without a shred of fear in my heart.

 

So do me a favor America. Don’t dwell on the negative.

I’ll take care of that as I skewer our soon to be asshole-in-chief.

You go find your happiness, I have mine.

I’ll fight the monster. I’m good at it, been doing it for ages, and I enjoy it.

If you want to help as we move ahead, thats great. But pick your fights with the right people. Fight bad policy and bad decision making, not good people who feel and think differently than you. We’re on the road to the future together, let’s travel it as friends.

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But there are some people, nevertheless—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. ~ G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905)

A Tale from Underemployed Man

Das_große_Gonna tell a short tale, be slightly annoyed and vocal about things for a little bit.

Just for a minute.

Honest.

I am underemployed.  What does that mean?  Simple.  I don’t work as much as I want or need to, in order to pay my bills and meet my every day needs.  Thursday this week will be my second day working of the month and eighth of the year.  This is an issue because… well… it should be obvious why that’s an issue.  8 days of work in two months is far from an ideal situation.

But it’s also eight days more than some folks.  I’ll take what I can get, though I am still bouncing around on unemployment.  But I tell you all that to tell you this.

I got a bite from a place that I used to work at. Talk of a job being open, and they were interested in me.   They were, back when I worked there hostile to the union guys in local 814 and those who sided with them (like me), hostile enough to lock them out for ten months and never once tell me or any of the other temps who were trying to get hired on they wanted to hire us despite the fact that they loved our work.  Then when they finally signed a new collective bargaining agreement, pushed most of them out the door, and never even thought about bringing any of us former temps back.  Of the 44 regulars that were there when the agreement was signed, four are left of that crew.

So when they e-mailed me to indicate their interest, I was overjoyed.  I loved working there.  It was the best professional experience of my life, and they were the best bunch of guys around, despite the circumstances.  Great crew, great place.

Could it be the same way it was back then?  Highly unlikely. Hell no would be a more apt way to put it.  More likely things would be hard, ugly, and abrasive, and that is being kind in my assessment.  But knowing that I was still willing to brook that and make the most of things, and make some money along the way; make my life and my wife’s life that much easier by having regular money coming in, an actual weekly paycheck and knowing I was working for five days a week, sometimes even seven.

Heaven in comparison to where I am now.

But it was not to be.  After much back and forth talk with several people in the human resources department of this fine institution, I was told that, sorry, the position has been filled.  But thank you for patience!

The position:  Temporary property handler, Sotheby’s

A position that was on the nyfa.org site, the site I had found the posting on in the first place.

Freshly re-opened and newly placed on the site, dated today.

Did I mention that they said the position was filled already?

Now I don’t have an issue if they didn’t really want me.  Doesn’t bother me overmuch.  I have had to handle a boatload of rejection from a boatload of places over the last few years trying to get back on my feet and land a full time permanent job.

I have an issue with them telling me they would like to interview me, then disappearing and not responding to an e-mail I sent in regards to the first e-mail they sent; then saying the woman in charge was busy and could not talk, but drop me a line if you don’t hear anything by the end of the day; then when I do that today they say, sorry, she’s still busy but the position has been filled; then seeing the same position listed as open, the one I wanted to interview for, which I was told was filled open on the same website I had found the previous posting on with today’s date on it, meaning they are still looking for people to fill that position.

THAT is why I am bent out of shape.

I really do try to be professional, but if you don’t want me around, just say so.  I can take a hint, really I can.

What I think happened was a simple foul up on their side.  I probably have a file there, I’m sure all the temps who worked there before do, and my name like many others probably has a big red flag next to it that says “Pro-Union; do not interview” or “Former employee; do not re-hire” or some such on it and someone missed that and saw my resume and liked it and made a common sense hr decision namely “His resume looks good, let’s see if he can fit here”

But did not see the flag.  Can’t blame the kid for that, and I can’t see a possibility of me not ending up angry or confused or both about it no matter what they did.  I dislike the fact that…

that…

Well, they led me on.  Which is antisocial and rude, bound to get you talked about in all the wrong circles for all the wrong reasons… in a perfect world.  Which this clearly isn’t.  Or else I wouldn’t even have been looking for work with them, and I would be secure in my finances and in my world.

I’d go to the better business bureau but I don’t know what I’d say, or what they’d say, or if it would matter a damn to them, or anyone but me.

The end.  I’d give you a better ending but you only get really good endings in fiction.  The real world doesn’t give you the endings you want, you get what you get.

Moral of the story;  Expect something, receive nothing is the way of the world.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

That’s it from here, America.  See you around sometime.  More jobs to look for.  There’s one out there for me somewhere.

Long Time Gone / Changes

Pic of the day:  William Turner; Fishermen at Sea (1796)

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How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe

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It felt kind of odd at first.  The first day I didn’t write just felt kind of … off.  The second day was less odd, as things were a fair bit busier and I really did not have all that much of a chance to write.  But the longer I went the easier it was to not write.  But it felt wrong to not write, so I started writing, rather furtively in a notebook that I carry with me, just in case.  Just in case I am hit with an idea that I think is worth writing down.

The first writing I did was autobiographical, basically me bitching about being poor.  That is not new territory for me by any stretch of the imagination.  But the old territory was fertile ground for writing.  Pounded out 3 pages worth of writing in about 20 minutes.  I gotta tell you that felt good.  Writing is something that comes easy to me.  Good writing?  That I can’t speak to.  But it also pointed to something that bothered me.

My writing here.  I’d been ignoring it.  And a reason to stop story writing here, to stop the short story writing I had been doing here, popped into my head and would not go away.  I have another wordpress site, one that I have not used for nearly 2 years. I started that one with my wife as an avenue for the two of us to write together.  She immediately became extremely busy, and I focused all my writing energies here and the thing went by the wayside.

So my story writing days here are finished.  The story writing will continue, just not here.

I think its time to take that one back up and begin using it again.  This page, when  first started writing here thousands of years ago, way back in 2007 was as an avenue for news writing and political commentary.  The page name may be “mikeytherhino.wordpress.com“, but the initial title was “Mike The Rhino’s Great American Rantfest”  and it was meant initially to vent my spleen about all things political.  And I want to get back to that, because I did some of my most beautifully vitriolic and impassioned writing while railing against the system.  It was only later that I even attempted to become anything of a serious story writer.

Years later.

Things change, and I am not saying I regret any of the writing I’ve done here.  I just think that it is time to separate the two.  I’m going to start doing my short story writing on the other site, over at writeisland.wordpress.com.   I haven’t written there since june of 2011.  I’ll be starting up some fresh stories there soon.

And with that I am calling it a night here.  I am going to go work on character development for future stories for stuff on write island, but before I do that I am going to re-boot this page, change things up a great deal here.

Hope you like the new page and the new focus.

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

Maybe, Just Maybe

Pic of the day:  Views of Kyoto – #5. Cherry-Blossom at Arashiyama, by Hiroshige Utagawa

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As rivers flow into the ocean but cannot make the vast ocean overflow, so flow the streams of the sense-world into the sea of peace that is the sage.

Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly

Bhagavad Gita

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I have been seeking inspiration, or something not entirely unlike that over the last few days for my writing.  I have been watching a lot more movies than usual.  I watched Citizen Kane from back to front for the first time ever.  I had heard it was a great movie but was frankly not moved to watch it before I saw it for the first time a few days ago.   I watched Kon-Tiki.  I watched Gonzo, again.  I watched Matter of Heart, a 1986 documentary about the life and work of Carl Jung.

I’ve been going through ancient Mesopotamian history, specifically an audio-book whose written counterpart was written 98 years ago, in particular the myths of Assyria, Babylon and the Akkadians, with side references to most major cultures around the world.

Maybe it isn’t really a search for inspiration though, or not just a search for inspiration.  Because recharging my batteries might and might not equal a search for inspiration.  And that is what have been doing, recharging.  I could write but I simply haven’t been.  I’ve wanted to, but have been busy doing one thing or another and simply have not done it.

And maybe, just maybe, it is a search not for inspiration per se, but ideas, real ideas that can be regurgitated and retold into stories that I could write, and it looks just by gazing at the particular entries that I am subconsciously looking for something big, something deeper and mythic.  Perhaps because the story I was writing a few months ago, the New York cop/torture/terror story was missing something, something bigger, something deeper, mythic.

I’m really getting the itch to do this!

I’ve got my eyes on a few other movies and books.  One flew over the cuckoos nest (the Ken Kesey book not the movie) and Haxan (a movie from 1922 about the occult and witchcraft) are first on my list.

I’ve got my notebook ready.  I think it’s nearly time to start creating characters, but a little more inspiration/recharging/assimilating  and compiling information about the most ancient and well known of stories is in order, and if a book is going to come out of this a little more inspiration is definitely a good idea.

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

Looking

Pic of the day:  Martin Luther King, Jr. showing his medallion received from Mayor Wagner (1964)

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Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.

Martin Luther King Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958)

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You read Martin Luther King Jr’s words, both the ones above and a thousand just like them, the message and the thoughts they both express and represent and you have to wonder how far have we come as a people, as a nation?

Looking at things like last years Trayvon Martin case and myriad others like it, I see a nation that still has a major problem with racism.

Looking at the Newtown tragedy and the myriad others like it, I see a nation that still has a problem with guns.

Looking at district attorneys hunting kids who download files like they robbed a bank and hounding them to the point that they commit suicide while letting employees at banks that defrauded their customers and stole billions from them walk without a day of jail time, I see a nation that has a real problem with justice.

Looking at the NDAA, government actions against Occupy and the like, I see a nation that still wants to hold its people down.

So when we look at our world and wonder what has changed, you can truthfully answer “Not much.”

For all he did, all he tried to do, all the good that he spread with his message, you can truthfully answer “Not much.”

But we keep trying.  We’ll make it better eventually.  It’ll happen.

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Looking for work.

Went on an interview yesterday.

It went well.

But it will take time before they call me.

So I sit at home, waiting for a phone call.

And I keep looking for work.

And there is not really that much.

At least not in the fields that I am looking in.

But I keep trying.

Looked for a bit today.

Nothing.

Dammit.

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

Nerdtastic

Pic of the day:  The Fairy of Eagle Nebula

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Don’t ever become a pessimist … a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Sometimes when I read the news I find nothing but things that get me angry, stir me up, get my dander up.  Like the AIG story earlier in the week, which turned out better than I had expected.

And sometimes I don’t.  This is one of those times, time to look at a lighter news story, because it does a body good to take a break from the mess that is the world every once in a while.

Today’s story is a giggle worthy nerdtastic story straight from the White House.  Not normally the place you get stories like that from, but here it is.

The White House has decided against building a death star.

You read that right. Apparently a Star Wars nerd in search of…something, what exactly I don’t know, decided to put o the White house petitions site a petition whose main purpose was job creation;  i.e. building a Death Star. And it got a lot of attention, enough to warrant an actual response from the people who officially respond to this kind of thing.

If you thought that would be the end of it, and that they would simply poo-poo the whole idea, you’d be wrong.  Well, right in that in the end they obviously turned it down, but it was the creative nerdtastic way that they did it that played heavily to the Star Wars fans who clearly were the ones who voted for this thing.

It starts off by spoofing a line from the first movie by Obi-Wan Kenobi.  “This is not the petition you’re looking for.”

Just a little fun from the fine people at Robot Chicken

When I read that first line I knew I was in for a treat.  Early in the response to the petition there was a statement saying that the cost of the death star would be prohibitive, and used numbers gotten from some very creative students at Lehigh University that estimated the actual cost of building the death star.

And by the way, a death star would cost approximately Eight hundred and fifty six quadrillion dollars.  That’s eight hundred fifty six thousand billion for those who don’t know what a quadrillion is.

BTW, it’s nice to know that the administration of President Barack Obama does not condone blowing up planets. Felt good about that.  I live on one of those things. They’re kinda nice, if you can handle the local yokels that is.

But I thought the crowning touch, the piece de resistance was saying that they wouldn’t waste money on a death star with a fundamental flaw in it that could be exploited by a one-man starship.  Pictures of Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star danced in my head when I read that.

Now the rest of the piece, while less Star Warsy, to coin a term, was nevertheless very much pro-science and had fun linking certain projects to star wars.  For example, do you know the acronym that the commercial venture between NASA and private investors?

No?  It’s the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office… or… wait for it…

C3PO.

Maybe this WAS the petition I was looking for. This star wars nerd who fell in love with all things space based as a kid watching the tail end of the Apollo program, and gazed in wide eyed wonder at the spectacle of the first Star Wars movie when I was but 9 years old, found a great deal that was both great and good in this happy little light piece of news that floated in from the White House today.

The main point of the piece though, beyond the obvious silliness was to promote science and science education, a worthy endeavor, truly.

Mind you I heard on twitter that Darth Vader was not pleased about this, but I could not get further comment from him on the subject.  This may not be the last you’ll hear about this.

I hope.  🙂

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Thats it from here, America.  G’night.