Peanuts (the comic) is the perfect storm of all my core hatreds. I detest things which get grossly disproportionate attention. I detest things which have no characters I can relate to. I detest swishy jazz music (love dixie land, love Satchmo, like Ellington, hate those free form make-it-up-as-we-go stoned-out-of-our-gourd-but-our-audience-won't-notice). Peanuts has wasted god knows how much printed page space for god knows how many years and elicited in its entire run sixteen and one half chuckles, four of those were from drunk people who were reading it upside down. Charles Schultz made millions upon millions. Newspapers paid millions upon millions. And have you seen that "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" play? I was forced to see it twice as a kid. You know what happens in it? Nothing. You know what costumes they are wearing? None! Snoopy is just a dude, wearing a white shirt. No dog mask. No tail. No barking. And Charlie Brown is just a dude with that stupid yellow shirt with the zig zag. Oh my god. Make an effort, people. That's what that sort of jazz does to you, that's who goes to see it! And everyone on Peanuts sucks. I love dogs. But if Snoopy was a real dog I'd euthanize him with extreme prejudice. I hate him worse than Scrappy Doo, and thinking about Scrappy Doo churns bile in my belly. And who else is on that show? Bunch of little shits. You've got smelly guy, piano guy, psychiatrist girl, pull the football bitch. I mean Linus was the only major character I didn't absolutely hate, but he was still pretty god damn smug about his smarts. And all it is is swishy jazz, swishy jazz, swishy jazz. When adults talk, when stuff happens, etc. And what the fuck is with the WWI Snoopy cousin flashbacks with the flying doghouse? Mother of god, get the damn dog some PTSD medication and treatment, he's been suffering for 90 freaking years now. Anyway, that's the gist of why I hate it. I could go on for hours, especially if I got drunk at a Peanuts-themed bar. Ohhh.. And WTF is the name Peanuts for? Name it Snoopy for god sake. The good people of Hanna-Barbara didn't name their show Cashews when it was really about Scooby Doo. What a pretensious asshole Charles Schultz was. He and Hitler are the only good reasons I can think of for not curing mortality. To think of an infinitude of time and space stuck with those two... Ugh.
My resolution for this year is to be more mischievous, to keep only but absolutely one toe dipped in sinful waters. While I instinctively reject the notion that evil must exist in the world if there is to be good, I concede we are stuck with it. As such, we might as well pay attention to what evil can teach us about being good, and living well, and use at least mildly evil acts as landmarks to plot our path towards goodlier shores. So this year I am trying to better define that line between good and evil by probing that boundary with mischievous acts, getting as near as I dare, never quite stepping over.
The acts will all be harmless pseudo evils, intended (if having any external intention at all) to do no more than confuse, entropize, inspire, and/or incite.
Among my mischievous goals for the year:
- Create intricate large scale public hoaxes. [I've already completed one such hoax, getting the attention of tens of thousands of people!]
- Graffitti meaningful messages / art in non-damaging public places. [Working on the art for this.]
- Lie pointlessly and frequently to strangers.
- Practice and use a British and/or Scottish accent in public.
- Always use random names when placing food, beverage orders.
- Intercept a restaurant delivery order, happening to catch a delivery person on their way to someone's front door, paying for that food, then eating it (or donating it to homeless people if it has meat/fish). [Almost did this the other day.]
- Send mysteriously intriguing packages to strangers around the country.
- Steal silverware from some restaurants, which I'll return later thereby undoing wrong. [One setting borrowed thus far.]
- Create, publish, promote, and win converts to my new religion. [In progress.]
- and more...
I'm pleased with my progress so far... But it's about the journey, not the destination, so whatever I achieve will be a pleasingly good enough.
I'm 84.6% nihilist, but not in the anarchist's co-opted blow-stuff-up sense. Rather, I neither believe nor disbelieve most things I don't directly experience. I used to drive my last ex-girlfriend nuts by doubting her every celebrity sighting claim. Once a week she would say, "I just saw [insert celebrity name here] on 3rd Street." And it just seemed like the frequency was impossible, and that she was mixing in people who just happened to bear resemblances. In fairness, I discovered later I had prosopagnosia, a mild case, and so I really was in no position to deny her claims. I can have difficulty recognizing people I only know (though only those I know slightly). Whatever the excuse, it was slightly obnoxious of me. I meant it in jest, but that doesn't mean it was forever funny.
I'm a vegetarian for reasons of morality, rather than health or the environment; taste seems a poor reason to kill. But there are other reasons to kill living creatures, and I either guilty of or complicit in them. We all are. Any vegan/vegetarian who believes otherwise is not being honest with themselves.
It is so easy to kill. And we do it in so many ways, some direct and many more indirect.
My personal weapons of choice are my shoes and my car. I shudder to think how many little creatures I have tread upon or how many winged miracles I've turned to goo on my windscreen. And much to my sorrow, driving I have killed two birds, and possibly a cat; every day I get in my car I accept that risk as part of the cost of my transportation. And I've also killed insects I couldn't easily or safely escort outside, by hand and chemical attack.
But there are also less direct means of murder.
One of the worst ways is that I buy meat products for my dog. My dog is a rescue, so I didn't create her, or her need to eat, but out of concern for her health (which is already poor) I choose to feed her the meat diet her biology expects. My money pays for her food which pays the farmers and fishermen to do their dirty deeds. I've also supported various dog charities and their saving of dogs which will over the course of their years eat many an animal.
But even my own food is indirectly complicit. When I purchase a vegetable from the store I accept that the farmer in his planting and harvesting killed many a pest in order to get this to me; insects and animals are killed by pesticides, by traps, by farm machinery, by the vehicles delivering the produce, etc.
Of course there are also plenty of other often discussed sources of animal suffering and death I am indirectly responsible for, such as the research done for medications and surgery procedures I have been or will be prescribed, as well as products I have or will buy that I may not realize involved animal testing.
But to my mind, my greatest contribution to the suffering and slaughter of animals comes from the most indirect and least avoidable source, my every daily dollar spent. I buy the goods that meat eaters make, I pay for the services meat eaters render. My rent goes to meat eaters, my health insurance payment goes to meat eaters, my car payment goes to meat eaters, my tax supports the infrastructure of a meat eating nation, and I've employed and will employ meat eaters. And with every dollar that ends up in the pockets of a meat eater, some meat/fish/fowl is purchased, and I increase the likelihood that they will create and raise meat eating families, and that they will buy those children meat, and that...
Anyone who sees their vegetarianism or veganism as the absolute end of their complicity in the slaughter and suffering of animals is a fool. But it's ok. It's a start, and a very good start. And it's likely the only way change will come. Vegetarians/vegans would win no converts to their way of thinking by isolating themselves, converts are won by being perfectly normal people who just happen not to eat animals.
My vegetarianism is my attempt to do the best I can to create a future I want, while living in a reasonable present where I feel ok with my actions; and I think it's important not to fool myself into thinking my life or actions are any purer than they are.
I've always wanted to learn how to draw, but never actually gave it much of a try. I've always had lots of ideas (for inventions, alternate realities, etc.) that I wanted to express, but had no means to express them. So, I recently set about trying to learn to draw. And this is my first ever attempt at drawing something meant to look real, with shading. The power went out today, and I couldn't work, so I sat by my kitchen window and sketched the candle stick on the table.
I am descended from a very long line of wandering fortune telling gypsies. My dad used to make 200,000 Leus a day in his summers off from school in Bucharest. He used to tell me about his single greatest act of clairvoyance. This old British couple approached him in the main square and asked him not for spiritual guidance, but the more practical kind, the location of the nearest post office so they could mail some postcards. As my dad was about to tell them he had a sudden, wrenching foreboding. Instead of sending them to the main postal branch which was just one block away, he sent them to one of the auxiliary branches six blocks away. Within thirty minutes he saw smoke rising from behind a line of shops, just where the main post office stood. A boiler exploded, setting fire to the building and killing 58 people, all but three from the stampede to escape. The elderly couple came back the next day, having learned of the explosion, and realizing their misdirection. They gave him 1,000,000 Leu (about $20 US), and their address in case he was ever in England and needed a place to stay. As it happened he did go to England about four months later as part of a school trip. He called at their address only to find one of their daughters at home. The couple had died, tragically, just a week after their return from Romania, apparently from eating some bad shellfish in Brighton. My dad ended up dating the daughter (long distance) for 6 months. He learned that had the couple died in Romania their insurance policy which had a travel clause would have paid the equivalent of $1 million US to the surviving family, not to mention what the Romanian government was paying in compensation, but as they died at home of causes which were never adequately proved, the family had to settle for little more than burial expenses. Seeing the financial (and resultant emotional) suffering of the surviving children, my dad stopped telling fortunes. He felt he had no right to alter the destiny of others, feeling on some level that destinies were fairly inescapable, and already as "ideal" as an unideal thing could be; and that his efforts only muddied the stream of life.
A coffee shop mixed with boredom means an opportunity for creating peculiar statistics about yourself. I just calculated that I've been in the company of a woman roughly 164.52 months (13.71 years), which is 36.08% of my life. Not bad.?!
Bought a "fixie" today. A fixie is a fixed gear bicycle, also known as a track bike. It's got one gear, and often (though not always), no freewheel or brakes.
I bought a KHS Flight 100. Only thing I've done so far is to replace the non-freewheeling hub with a coaster brake hub. I did this to preserve the clean lines of the bike (saves adding front/rear caliper brakes), while also saving my knees. As fun as "skip stopping" and "skid stopping" are, those non-freewheeling hubs are brutal on the knees, and I really want to keep mine healthy!
This is my theory about the different way in which animals and humans deal with chronic pain. I've long observed that animals appear to handle chronic pain far better than humans.
My dog Osita has arthritis so bad that her elbows are unbendable, totally fused. Her vet said of her condition, "In my entire 34 year career I've never seen worse arthritis." She was only 5 years old at the time. And yet Osita betrays no sign of the tremendous pain her nerves must be signaling. She always appears happy and leaps to her feet at the opportunity for walk or play. If she goes on a very long walk she'll start limping quite badly towards the end, but she'll still perk up and wag her tail if you say a kind word. And I've seen this sort of thing commonly in animals, they truly seem able to handle pain in a way that we humans typically can't. It seems unlikely to me that evolution would have made our brains vastly different in their handling of pain, so if that doesn't explain the difference, what could? The biggest related difference I can see is that we humans can do something about the pain we feel, and we know it. We therefore have an expectation that we can reduce or eliminate our pain (even in those situations where we can't), and as a result, we refuse to accept our pain. And by refusing to accept it, we perpetuate it. We perpetuate our brain's perception that the pain signals being received are important and not to be muted (to the degree they otherwise could be and likely are in animals).
I think the same thing happens with emotional pain. Because we know we have the power to influence the circumstances which may lead to or away from emotional pain, we find it very difficult (often impossible) to accept emotional pain we feel, and instead we perpetuate it (such as in the perpetual search for whys from a world which may never provide an adequate because). Clearly there are reasonable whys, and some available becauses. Some people probably use their whys wisely, but not me; and I am sure that prolongs some agonies.
My dad was in town and wanted to go to Yosemite, so we made the trip.
I already had a Yosemite camping trip with friends planned for the following weekend, and here are those pictures.