A Hairy Weekend

I am home again late Monday afternoon (hours, however, earlier than this weekend reminisicence will finally appear), having given blood at the local hospital, and Iʼll take time to make one last post for the month of February. This one will link up well with the most recent post because I am still discussing my wifeʼs delightful birthday.

The Lovely One and I were gone over the weekend, celebrating her birthday, but not to Madison, as the news of the pending protests freaked my wife out a little too much. Fortunately, the hotel was most understanding (and probably figured theyʼd have no problem reselling that room even on the shortish notice we gave them). The only problem then was that we had no plan for the weekend…

This rational decision-making came Wednesday evening and Thursday, last week. We released the hotel room on Thursday morning, and Janet contemplated what she wanted to do for the long weekend, as she had already asked for Friday as a vacation day off, during the rest of that afternoon at work (although Iʼm sure she had plenty to do that was work as well). By the time she got home, having skipped her workout that day, she had a plan in mind. We would visit her sister and brother-in-law near Milwaukee, and on Saturday all four of us would go downtown to see the touring production of Hair and eat at a wonderful Mediterranean/Turkish restaurant, Tulip, which the other three had enjoyed already during one of Janetʼs sistersʼ weekends away from me. And thatʼs how it all worked out — a great time for all of us.

Except… I caught a cold, probably infected on Tuesday morning when I had subbed at school. (And ironically or appropriately, I just coughed while dictating the end of that last sentence.) I felt kind of tired and oblivious for most of Thursday, and as the drive across Wisconsin progressed on Friday, I became downright drippy and congested, unable to hide the symptoms. I was sick. By evening, I was only ready to sit on the couch and feel weary and stuffed up. I only marginally enjoyed the interesting gourmet vegetarian pizza they brought home from Papa Murphyʼs (and of which I am about to warm the remnants for part of tonightʼs supper).

I tried to “man up” for Janet and not spoil her weekend, but although I had a good time in the big city on Saturday (and Hair was tremendous, with really energetic and really enthusiastic young actors doing amazing physical stuff while still belting out those tunes beautifully) and really enjoyed both our lunch at the Water Street Brewery and our excellent and elegant dinner at Tulip, I sustained myself on anti-congestive medications and a probably too much blowing of my nose, fortunately not during the show (much).

One highlight at Hair came right at the end, as the cast invited audience members to join them in a big dance on stage and other cast members circulated through the crowd, getting everyone involved in a riotous, fully enjoyable finale. The actor playing Berger (a really masculine hunk that both The Lovely One and sister Diane were slavering over) came down the empty aisle behind our seats and shook his long, long hair at several of us, all standing in the ovation for this powerful conclusion of the show — he didnʼt include me, evidently, as I missed out on what happened next completely and only learned about it from conversation. When he tossed his curls at the wife, Janet turned around and shook her lovely locks right back, and they had a hair-tangling, neck-weaving, high-energy encounter for a few minutes. All in fun.*

I retired early Saturday night, a wise move, all things considered, while the sisters sipped some wine and conversed in the living room until after the ten oʼclock news (weather was an issue, snow having fallen all through the day Saturday, at first lightly, but accumulating at least two-plus inches at my in-lawsʼ home). The next day Janet and I returned to our own home, eventually running almost on fumes as we tried to make it all the way back to Dubuque and across town to Samʼs Club in order to get the cheaper gas (as we left town on Friday morning, we noticed that gas had spiked out of nowhere to roughly $3.30 a gallon, higher in Wisconsin). We made it, and Janet did a little shopping for a birthday gift for someone else, and we headed for home, where we unpacked and then I turned into a lazy vegetable, exhausted from doing nothing. Eventually, with the Oscar broadcast and the final episode of the Masterpiece presentation of Any Human Heart looming,** Janet decided we would have takeout Chinese for supper.

The takeout Chinese needs to become its own post soon, a comparison-of-restaurants review, but for tomorrow, just eight hours from the time I get this thing finally published, I have something else, delayed several days by WordPress.com itself (I tried to create tomorrowʼs post later in the day last Thursday, but the blog site wouldnʼt accept any uploaded pictures***, and as you will see, the scans I had created are essential for that post).

Regardless, The Lovely One had a wonderful birthday. At least thatʼs what she tells me.

* However, someone noticed this morning, Monday, that she had mysteriously developed a stiff neck — the price, I guess of enthusiastic, cross-generational theatrical flirtation.

** We opted for Masterpiece in lieu of the middle ninety minutes of the Oscars, and missed very little really. (And now I have another book to read, too…)

*** Ha! I just tried to upload an interior shot of Tulip, and the same thing happened: no image appeared after the upload. Whatʼs the story with that, WordPress.com?

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful!

Yes, itʼs The Lovely Oneʼs birthday! Last year I celebrated The Momentous Occasion here on the blog by presenting some old poetry, only some of which was actually written historically with her in mind.* This year I will spare you all a repeat of that (but who knows whatʼll happen a year after now?), partly for simple time-to-prepare issues (I had a job substituting yesterday, and I still have to wrap some gifts for my beloved once I compose something to appear in honor of her birth today), partly because I just havenʼt been exploring old verse in recent months, and partly because Iʼve still been wasting my life arguing with obstinate (and sometimes intrusive) Tighty Righties on Facebook, again.**

Hmmm, we seem to have wandered away from the issue of importance, a Certain Someoneʼs birthday.

We will be celebrating (although I still need to find her a card…), and our festivities will include both lunch out together and, I hope, something special for supper. Her folks will join us for lunch, which will be nice (and offer us the opportunity to discuss with them when we can get together and visit an electronics store to buy them their first home computer, a step long-requested by both of their daughters and which I hope will move them comfortably into communication in this century… But I digress. Again). I think we will be dining at Carolineʼs, a restaurant which has in recent months returned to our favor after a period of disappointment when they had changed their menu (but all it takes is to find something you like on a menu for a joint to rebound in your estimation; I will be having their soup and salad*** because I really love the associated quartet of freshly made breadsticks). I am hoping for a sunny noontime as the open and well windowed space at Carolineʼs is at its most pleasant on bright days.

Then, with whatever comes to mind to make for “dinner” tonight, will be the presentation of my humble assortment of minor birthday presents. So quietly humdrum, I know (but she hopefully doesnʼt realize that some kind of floral acknowledgment will arrive for her at work this morning, surprisingly since I already had her receive a vased bouquet for the Ultimate Card Holiday nine days ago).

Janet and I have also been thinking about a birthday-celebrating, brief excursion to Madison, a city we love to visit but havenʼt for some time. However, the union/public protests which I support so strongly might interfere with our plans downtown…

Hmmmm… An ironic conflict of interests.

Weʼll have to see how brave, politically and tourist-ically, we become when the time arrives. Or else (perhaps… maybe, just maybe) Gov. Walk-away-from-reality could wake up from his stupor and withdraw the union-busting planks in his state finance legislation… (Insert Buddy Holly moment/allusion.) If the trip comes off someday, maybe Iʼll write about it here.

Until then, I have a birthday to celebrate.

Happy Birthday, Janet!

(And, parenthetically — and parentheses and/or such enclosed remarks have become the theme running repeatedly through this post — have a good day yourselves, Faithful Readers.)

* Of course, I also skipped celebrating Valentineʼs Day bloggishly here in 2011, a date on which I also indulged myself by reprinting old verse a year ago. But donʼt get too confident. There are tons of poetry in my folder for me to dictate and present.

** If only half-witted dweezil Gov. Walker would wake up and realize his foolish maneuver hasnʼt worked, and the public is against him. But then heʼs a Dextreme stooge, evidently unable to realize much of anything beyond the Koched Orders, dressed out in canned cant, which he has received from Think Tanks Above…

*** Upon consideration I realized that is also the same thing I enjoy for lunch here in town at the Decker House Restaurant and at Star in Dubuque, although the soups tend to be quite different, as do the salads!

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Getting it all wrong

I like the Times Literary Supplement. Unfortunately, it is so expensive that my subscriptions to the periodical run for a year and then expire for year or a few months or a few years. Why? Because every now and then the publishers offer a really reduced come-on, I think for “educators,” which I can afford, about a third or a quarter of the real subscription price. When I get one of those offers, if I’m feeling sufficiently flush, I subscribe. (Or at least I did so subscribe for nearly three decades, all the way back to the time Janet and I met.) I entered my subscription most recently back in the fall (in an orgy of spending, thanks to a full week of substitute teaching, I resubscribed to most of the periodicals I had let go when I retired, TLS included).

Saturday morning I finished reading my current copy (they are never very current, being mailed from Great Britain — that issue was for February 11) and felt surprisingly interested in many things I had read, some of which you may get to read more about soon (or not). Actually to choose the word “surprisingly” is inaccurate, as I usually enjoy at least half of the reviews and articles in every issue. I had begun the magazine on Thursday, I think, getting through the first 24 or 25 pages (I am dictating, having resurrected the pairing for the Bluetooth headset, which had evaporated, and I am still uncomfortable with Dictate’s predilection for digits over letters when I speak numbers; an old-school old fart, I still think numbers should be words through one hundred, or at least through twenty and the even tens to a hundred — and I had to edit the digits the software included in what you just read). I paused at an article reviewing a new book on ethics that constructs an elaborate system of rationale to clarify making moral decisions.

Reading the article, I thought about conflicts in medieval dar al-Islam (particularly in al-Andalus) between conservative religious figures and progressive philosophers. The philosophers held very broad and liberal views that frequently diverged entirely from traditional Islam and even verged into atheism (or at least a rejection of paradise and hell, an afterlife, and post-mortem reward or punishment forever). But these subtle thinkers devised and articulated some of the most astute insights into morality and science ever (in part or in total because of their [lack of] religious views), powerful enough to sway the scholastic philosophers of medieval Europe a few hundred years later, including (or in particular) Thomas Aquinas. (And the swaying didnʼt just involve the science but the ethics especially.) The religious guys, on the other hand, imams and jurists, argued that no matter if any of the philosopher guysʼ moral arguments were correct, the common person just wasnʼt built to understand such sophistry and intellectual finesse. The ordinary fellow could only be swayed morally by the threat of punishment, if not instantly here and now, then in the hereafter, regardless if such a supernatural retribution were actually real (for the philosophersʼ reasonings had some power in devout Muslim circles, too).

Back to the TLS article? I wasnʼt sure any typical lowbrow yahoo, like folks who post comments to Dextremist blogs (and even those who write the blogs themselves), would act morally based solely on the refined principles espoused in the book under review. That consideration made me wonder about the dubious power of narrow and judgmental fundamentalism today (and I am not just talking about Islam now, either, obviously). Does such a rigid system have any benefits whatsoever?

I may loathe the terrible folly of trying to twist oneʼs mind into accepting every word of scripture as valid (and no one does that; they all cherrypick instead — a friend posted a very funny “oops” article about someone tattooing an OT verse against homosexuality on his arm but getting the citation wrong: it referenced a verse forbidding tattoos!*), but now I wonder if goofs need the threat of hell to be decent people…

If so, what kind of dark and selfish cesspools of vileness are such supposedly simple people? And consdering the negative impacts of fundamentalism around the globe today, is that presumed moral-rectification by posthumous paddling even real?

Thatʼs a pair of scary thoughts.

* Although the source I located says the tattoo is accurate, the verse against tattooing is later. Even so… pick and choose, pick and choose…

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Driven to Desperate Measures (Maybe)

More days without a post. Am I losing interest in the blog? Not at all.

with a tip of the hat to Fox and The Simpsons…

So what has been happening instead of blog-writing? Ironically, considering my most recent post, I have been arguing away on Facebook. The governorʼs sleazy sleight-of-legislation in Wisconsin* got me angry. It is one thing to tighten our belts (particularly if elected officials tighten first — hint, hint) in times of financial crisis, but it is another thing entirely to use such a crisis as the pretext in forwarding an aggressively selfish and uncharitable political agenda. And thatʼs exactly what Gov. Walker has been up to. Worse, he tried to ram through a nationally organized union-busting bill underhandedly, trying to slip it through the legislature as quickly, quietly and sneakily as possible. And when he got caught, and people protested his lack of ethics and his subservience to out-of-state interests and powers, he glibly attacked the protesters instead of honestly acknowledging his error.*

And I got my wind up and posted repeatedly to my Facebook page items about the Wisconsin Scam, arousing of course the predictable (and predictably lame and predictably identical) unsupported and undocumented complaints of my Dextreme friends. So I spilled out hundreds of words, if not thousands, attempting to convey reality to minds so well washed and firmly set that I accomplished, as always lately in that forum, nothing. So Friday and Saturday and (after a computer-free gap on Sunday, per The Lovely Oneʼs request) Monday passed. (Actually, thatʼs how Monday continues to pass, as I just finished being distracted from this post with several long responses to fairly silly comments on my links.)

The one good thing that may come from all of this, as I realized while out for a run in the wet and cold this morning (itʼs snowing right now, late in the day), is that I may be motivated to continue a story I first began to imagine more than a year ago about a desolate dystopian future with “No Public Options” and no big government whatsoever. My idea is based on the old Internet meme about a conservative individual realizing what he owes to public service. Letʼs see if I can find it…

Well, hereʼs one version, with no apologies for its semiliteracy or errors:

I AM AN AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE •••••••• (censored for all our pleasure)

This morning I was awoken** by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US department of agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the food and drug administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the department of labor and the occupational safety and health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshalʼs inspection, and which has not been plundered of all itʼs valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the defense advanced research projects administration and post on freerepublic.com and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government canʼt do anything right.

Get the idea? My own story begins…

Tomorrow morning (or the next year).

As he stuck the key in the ignition, John Q. Cerfʹs car dutifully chimed to indicate that it had rushed his bank account for the beck toward a new vehicle from HenryMotors in just 2.78 years, a minute amount of money every time he drives his car and the concluding clause in the purchase agreement he had signed upon buying this model last year.

Cerf had been rushed already for electricity and water (water beck per usage, of course, but electricity prorated in daily becks over each month based on the previous yearʹs usage). The water corporation had yielded him a morning shower and coffee, once the electric alarm clock had roused him from sweet dreams. Heʼd been reading some complaints about the water quality, but in these free days without regulation, you had to take LocalWaterCorpʼs word that all sewage was indeed being correctly processed at a profit and not simply dumped into the river.

Want more? I actually came up with a device to turn what was merely polemic (that bit in blue above, that I didnʼt write, however accurate or powerful) into a tale…

* I can, if anyone wishes, reproduce the FB exchanges with relevant evidence and links on the underhanded union-busting being billed as financial belt-tightening…

* Seriously. There is evidence. Wanna see?

** We could make a game of catching the grammatical errors in this thing.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Taking the Easy Way Out

I skipped a few days putting a post up. Work has intervened, both actual, in substituting for several days, and potential, in a new job I might get for the spring and summer (rather like last yearʼs experience with the Census). The eight hours at school each day take their toll in time, but the job application process has really been distracting me from other projects. On the potential job front, as my application is still just that, only an application so far, I can’t really say anything more yet.

In the meantime rather than posting what little I may have to say to this blog, I’ve been spending my words, perhaps less pointedly and usefully, on Facebook. As my debates there tend to evaporate into digital oblivion, thanks to Facebook’s terrapin pace at revealing older posts on one’s own page, I thought I’d indulge myself in reprinting my most recent exchanges simply not to waste all those words written. (Apologies in advance for the use of ALL CAPS, a stylistic choice Facebook makes necessary with its un-Rich-Texted limitation of expression.)

Or, The Long and Winding Road (to Nowhere)

I had posted link to a YouTube video of my least favorite paranoid pundit (a word I chose fully aware that I have redefined it in the light of contemporary commentary to mean “a self-promoting, delusional hammerhead very loudly braying utter nonsense for hidden ends”) promoting one of his favorite idiotic scare tactics (which do have his desired effect of scaring idiots) with Let-Me-Interrupt-You OʼRudely — all in the wake of the successful Egyptian protest revolution (in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia). My comment on the video was:

“Backʼs just annoyed that he canʼt become the Caliph… (Can he?) Or else heʼs just nuts. Either way.”

From the video I raised a couple of doubts. “Reagan at the Brandenburg gate? Wasnʼt that forty-plus years after? ‘Right away?’ Dextreme blinders on.” and “ ‘The one organization is the one-world movement… about thirty organizations…’ One or thirty? Which is it, oh mastermind? Both ways, Glennie? What a dupe (oh, wait, thatʼs our role…)”

I garnered a response pretty quickly from a favorite conservative friend: “45 years after Reagan was elected. what? really! No childish names for Reagen.. you can do better!”

I answered, “No, Reaganʼs pointless speech in Berlin came nearly a half century after the wall, decisively NOT right away, as OʼWrongly said in the interview.” (Although my half-century was about thirteen years exaggerated.)

So my opponent explained, “In essence, it was right away after he was voted in as president. A WHO sports broadcaster standing on the Brandenburg gate would not of been the same! Still no disrespectful Reagan names?”

Me: “And the speech was still a half century (nearly) after the wall went up, irrelevant to the forces then tottering communism from WITHIN (how very much like the Arabic world today), and utterly irrelevant to the ‘discussion’ the two back-patters were faking in the video. Itʼs the Dextreme pulling out the Gipper Card. Again. Oh, the election of the actor from California was a turning point in my life, the night I felt the future died. As it has.” I knew that I would draw ire for questioning their Sacred Reagan, but I did nearly cry over the lost future his election rejected.

Conservative: “YES! The true progressive has come out! The difference between you and me sir, is I have a positive outlook on our country, no matter who is in control (Slick-Willie, The Mighty Bamster O, or even Malaise me Jimmy!) You have more opportunities here than any other place in the world! No wonder the Lib actors who threatened to move away never did after George Bush was elected!” drawing approval from Conservativeʼs spouse.

Me, rejecting the chance to mention overfed commentators who havenʼt followed up on their promise to leave the country if healthcare reform passed: “Positive means what? Dementia will rule? The way someone lushly insists it always was (even when it wasnʼt) is the way IT MUST BE? I see a positive possibility of growth and change (that which Ronnie slew for me) into fluorescent futures yet undreamed (particularly by paranoiacally limited anti-imaginations loudly and repetitiously demonizing all but the powers they be). If it matters not whoʼs in control, whatʼs with the narrow putdowns, too? Or is that phrase just more Right irrational rhetorical flourishing of arms, signifying nothing? Oh, yes, and explain to me whatʼs wrong with being a ‘progressive’ (as once again the Tighty crystal ball has given you a slot into which to place me unwillingly)?”

Conservative: “If dementia is what I got then dementia is what I want. We are all allowed access to the shining city on the hill. It matters not who is in control because of peoples ability to neuter an ineffective politician like Obama,”

Me, ever the uptight old English teacher and then wishing to clarify which President suffered dementia in office: “That would be ‘peopleʼs,ʼ by the way. That ‘shining city on a hill’ actually (those danged facts!) was a Puritanical allusion to a religiously exclusive and undemocratic society that the Founders, in the U.S. Constitution, repudiated, also by the way. And my dementia reference was not about you, unless the shoe fits, I suppose…”

Conservative: “The shoe fits!”

Me: “Then by all means wear it, if you insist. Oh, and looking back, ‘neutralize’ would definitely be preferable (to avoid the Palinesque trap of violent foot-in-mouth disease).”

Conservative: “I believe neuter still fits.”

Me: “…So like the unrepentant gunsighter herself? Violent imagery to the end…” and then adding, “Oh, and considering the reason why the Tighties are so dismayed at the Presidentʼs election, true to type, rather excessively and obviously racist, too…”

Conservative: “There comes the race card! Libs need mirrors when playing the race card!” and then adding, “What, pray tell did I say that was racist??? Mr. politically correct!”

Me: “Umm, the neutering of African American males involves a long history of, well, eugenics and ethnic cleansing, to be polite… I see nothing PC in my observation, either. Once again, just facts (rather than the Dextremeʼs hysterical ranting and ill-considered slogans).”

Conservative: “I sir, work in the animal industry. We castrate most male animals so your meat is tender and tasty. Animal scientists joke about castration. Any given day I might make reference to somebody (more than likely my wife) nutting me for doing so…mething wrong. Eugenics is really a progressive movement as abortion is a form of this! DEXTREME is not a real word!”

Me: “Yeah, as we discussed, I coined the term ‘Dextreme,’ (Tighty memories really are all that limited? Fox et al. count on that narrowness daily in their dreary and continual selfcontradictions), but ‘Dextreme’ decidedly identifies a real threat to the American way of life. My grandfather, uncle and cousins work in agriculture and with animals, and no such rude remarks, sir. Hmmm? Your categorization of eugenics once again derives from Beckʼs lies (and his semiretarded reliance on John Birch Society materials of the 1960s). Get some reliable resources in your arsenal someday. Hitler and pals practiced eugenics — not, no matter what the Brat or the Lard say, progressive. The French and American ‘scientists’ behind it were just racist (how ultra-Right/neoNazi of them) with other politics unclear to me. Finally, equating our President (who is, by the way, black) with animals regresses us once again to the dismal days of the pre-1860s. As I already said above. Grow up? I see you continue to practice the recognized Tighty strategy of ‘ignore when you are unable to answer and change the topic.’ ” and adding, “Oh, yes, the Hollywood Actor hadnʼt been a WHO broadcaster for nearly ANOTHER half century…”

Conservative: “I equate myself with animals.” and adding, “Reagan was a WHO announcer in1937…”

Me: “And you are still pullinʼ a Palin on the original remark, sir! Additionally, we donʼt equate ourselves with animals, I believe — we ARE animals; but we donʼt neuter other humans to make them, umm, ‘tender and tasty.’ Or do you? Perhaps Maherʼs ‘Teabagger’ epithet possesses more truth than I was aware… As must the accusations of racism, clearly. Ah, the dark byways and alleys of the dim Dextreme.” and then adding, “ ‘Tear down this wall’ exactly fifty years after WHO, and considerably after his election. Likewise 37 years after the Wall. And still irrelevant to what actually happened in the Nineties.” And then correcting 37 to 27, “dagnabbit.”

Conservative: “Isn’t Barry half white? He’s a craptastic president no matter what his nationality. Why are you such a sexist against Palin? Nutting (to neuter) somebody is a figure of speech from the industry I work in. Dextreme still not a real word!”

Me, ignoring the potent if unperceived racism inherent in observing if anyone is “half-white” and deliberately misreading the inept Presidential slam: “Umm, point out the so-called sexism sir. I see it nowhere whatsoever. I simply indicate the stupid. Kind of you to offer your thoroughly unsupported assertions. And then pointlessly repeat what has already been contradicted and undermined before. Thanks for the insincere effort. The last I knew, by the way, Goldwater was Caucasian… and conservative (and would have made a totally, uh, ‘craptastic President’ just as you say, regardless of his nationality, which was the same, you see, as the current, legitimately elected — how unlike the Shrub — President). Words are real based on use, furthermore. Thatʼs grammar. I use “Dextreme.” Too unfortunately often. Because I encounter it. Way too much.”

Thatʼs where we left it yesterday (at least as I posted this). The debate above actually spawned about three other exchanges, all much shorter, on other posts that my esteemed adversary or I put up during the few days we conversed through comments.

Obviously, I suffer from a predilection for verbosity, “Oh, and” and “by the way,” among other rhetorical weaknesses. Clearly, Facebook comment-arguments arenʼt where I should place my principal attention.

Apologies to my Facebook-friend readers for posting what you probably already endured on that forum. And many thanks to my conservative friend for fomenting so much thought on my part since retirement.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


My Modest Proposal

I have a serious policy proposal to make. With all the hot air from Congress and the Administration lately on slashing the federal budget in the interest of debt reduction, and me being fully aware that entitlements are protected investments and have not in themselves contributed to the national debt, I feel concerned that the GOP felt it necessary, as the year began, to make their number one priority the pointless repeal in the House of the healthcare reform law passed last year. Now I have my own problems with the law as it finally came down in a form bastardized, watered-down and bloated to enormous size in an effort to make it tempting to conservative palates (who of course remained aloof in their party-dictated obstructionism last year anyway), but if the new majority in the House truly feels the law is “job-destroying” and debt-increasing, deserving of their attention ahead of any real issues on which they ran and got elected in November, then I have a suggestion.

Mine is A Modest Proposal (but unlike Swiftʼs, a serious notion I think we all need to trumpet loudly and proudly at Congress, perhaps not just the elephantine party of big business and false-past infatuation).

No Healthcare for Elected Federal Officials!

It is time for the “painful” cuts to the budget which the GOP demands to begin at home …for them, our elected blowhards. Before CPB (National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service) and services to the poor and needy are slashed, legislators need to feel the pinch personally for themselves in their own pocketbooks.

Isnʼt it time that the GOP got behind No Healthcare For Elected Federal Officials? Thatʼs my humble proposition — no tax money for elected officialsʼ healthcare!

Eliminate the Congressional health care, paid by our tax dollars, before any other cuts.

Iʼm not talking about staff members or bureaucrats or anyone else actually doing work in Washington for the government (those people are employees of the federal government, after all, and like all the rest of the American workforce, receive their health care from their employer, strange as that practice seems). But the Congresspeople and Senators arenʼt working for the government; they are the government. And why should we suffer before they even feel a tiny little pinch?

Heartache begins at home, politicians! Iʼm talking about the hot air breathers in the House and Senate. If healthcare reform was such a bad idea that no Republican could even consider participating last year, then my tax money should not pay for elected officialsʼ healthcare.

Whoʼs your daddy now, Michele (Iʼm-a-Half-informed, Half-witted Dope) Bachmann? I think you deserve this cut, Steve (I-Wanna-Be-Your) King. Get behind this today, Chuck Grassley!

Itʼs a simple program. No Healthcare For Elected Federal Officials! Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Tell your congressperson and Senators. Now thereʼs Change and debt reduction I can believe in.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Frustrating Friday

The blog went over 75,000 hits* by WordPressʼs accounting yesterday. Not impressive when big-time blogs get at least that many hits a day, but a bigger number than some others that I read. Wow. Letʼs all celebrate.

Could you smell the sarcasm with which I ended that paragraph? Yeah. Iʼm not really feeling very enthused, to tell the truth (and thatʼs what I always do, truth-tell). Why this stench of vindictiveness? Yesterday wasnʼt a good day overall, in the end.

I spent Friday afternoon infuriated at having to resurrect some text I had written (and then lost). And failing. The magic of restoring what has dissipated into the electronic æther is beyond my mortal means.

Even Time Machine couldnʼt locate the correct information. Or at least when I opened the restored document in Scrivener, the information that Time Machine indicated was present was nothingness. Again. And again. I myself had created the problem by trying to use a file synchronization program to back up my files to a flash drive and a back-up disk. I think I let the two-way sync interfere with what was actually newer on the hard drive about fifteen days ago.

Anyway, the text was gone, a crucial revision of the action in “Mistakes by Moonlight” that now I will have to reinvent all over again. Itʼs time to start using snapshots in Scrivener (which I just left this document to do for “Mistakes” before some filthier accident occurs).

Worst of all, my hysterical efforts on Friday comprised the third time I have dictated and typed some of that information! Itʼs like a Demonic Force from Above is out to get me. Or keep Judah from achieving reality.

Furthermore, I have no idea if a Qwest repairman came to the house yesterday or not. I never did get away, just in case the guy was running late. But by 5:00, no one had interrupted my blissless solitude. The internet connection remained available all day (after about noon), but I donʼt have a clue if any correction/improvement was made. (And I was all but positive they would have instructed the guy to decide there must be a problem with the wiring in our house, wiring which normally is not Qwestʼs problem to resolve without extra excessive fees. That, or they realized Friday morning that we had Linebacker protection, which I have meant to drop for years but neglected, rather like the dumping of our movie channels with DirecTV. Perhaps now I am glad I can be so negligent — but I doubt it.)

And thatʼs the latest lack of progress in my life. A Friday of frustration. Well, todayʼs another day, as Miss OʼHara would (not) say, and at least there are a few better things in the offing. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Dawn and Kevin for a while…

Have a fine weekend, yʼall.

* Check for yourself. Just look to the right under “Hits on Wak.”

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Meeting Up with… Stupid

Concision is considered the epitome of good style. Although suffering myself from a unmastered and powerful tendency toward logorrhea, as most regular readers of this blog must be uncomfortably aware already, I believe I agree — keep it short, stupid!

Even the dictionary online shows “meet up with” as nothing more than “meet.”

So what’s up with the needlessly awful and worthlessly verbose contemporary locution “meet up with?”

(I did promise you that I would deal with this topic a few posts ago.) “Meet/met up with” is pointlessly wordy and therefore not needed. At all. (In the interest of brevity, the lack of which is whatʼs wrong with “met up with,” this post will be kept short.)

“Met up with” contains two more words than it needs. Generally people use the phrase to mean “encountered” or “arranged a meeting.” For instance, “I met up with her accidentally at lunch.” Or, “She met up with me for lunch.” In neither case are the unnecessary adverbs/prepositions required. That means no “up” or “with.”

And thereʼs a worthless neologism, too. Whatʼs wrong with “meeting”?

Both sentences should be shortened appropriately: “I met her accidentally at lunch” and “She met me for lunch.” The “up with” adds nothing, means nothing, serves no purpose whatsoever, except verbosity.

“To meet” means to meet. Nobody needs the extra words after it, although evidently everybody*, even folks I like and otherwise respect, even folks of my own advanced age, seem to feel some need to throw the excess baggage in.

Why? It’s just unnecessary, and that lack of need makes the locution simply wrong.

Contrary perspectives, as always, are welcomed because I canʼt see at all why people ever started with this pointless phrase. I would be curious to find out what makes it so omnipresently appealing.


The Qwest Check Page (not working right at 12:15)


On another hand, speaking of meetings, I spent this morning sitting around, doing the pointless time-wasting I have usually stewed lately (and not much more), waiting for a service technician from Qwest to arrive and repair our internet connection! (Yes, persistent complaining does eventually work, regardless how hard the corporation makes it to successfully complain.**) Amusingly, however, their link to track my servicepersonʼs progress indicated no such thing scheduled for today. I did, however, bother to call the phone number indicated, and the mechanical responder did know that the technician had been dispatched and was on his way…

So I patiently waited and turned our modem off and on again thrice during the morning. (Letʼs hope I get this posted successfully without service interruptus.)

Nothing by the time I posted this shortly after noon. The e-mail promised me that the service call would occur between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM (and I have plans for an hour or two away from La Casa Wakdjunkaga later this afternoon, too, if only to get a little mild exercise). Hoping to get this up and available before that 1:00 deadline, I guess weʼll see…



Today marks an important meeting with destiny, by the way. Congratulations to the people of Egypt for their encounter with history and the successful rejection of Mubarakʼs tyranny.


* Everybody but (at least) me, apparently.

** I may have a post/essay on dealing with Qwest service soon (weʼll see how this occurrence goes today).

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Worthless Person

I have been finding that I have nothing much to say lately. Thus the absence of posts you probably hadnʼt noticed. Somehow I am just wasting all of my time, not even finishing some dictation. And reciting aloud what I have already written should be easy. Shouldnʼt it?

I also need to actually print out some old material and get it in the mail. But I seem to fill each entire day without remembering those chores. Sigh. I am worthless (I hope only temporarily). At least I have a few substitute teaching jobs on tap, and proofreading/editing work does keep trickling in. Serving time in a classroom and helping edit other peopleʼs writing have been my only actual accomplishments this month. That and feeding the birds, which have developed a definite taste for our seed, requiring daily refills of the plastic tube. I am sure they appreciate my efforts as little as I do.

(I am hoping that by ridiculing and needling myself, unfortunately accurately, I might stimulate me to get out of this rut.)

So thereʼs nothing much here.

Therefore, I would like to recommend a few other blogs that I enjoy. Two of them have personal connections for me, and the last is just very worthwhile. First, a former student is overseas for a semester, studying in Berlin, and she has set up a blog to recount her adventures. I think she is doing an extremely nice job, and I read her posts regularly. Her site is here.

With the arrival of this new year, nephew Tim got re-inspired to post to his blog. His observations are good, and unlike me he likes posting video links. Check it out here. My nephew has also taken up movie criticism, with some interesting results. His movie-reviewing blog is here. He is certainly doing much better than I of late! (And I want to check with him about Netflix, the source of his movies to review, as The Lovely One and I are definitely going to dump the movie channels and acquire a Netflix account. Unfortunately, I really know nothing about Netflix.)

Third (or fourth, if you count Timʼs two blogs as two), if you are interested in writing, I stumbled on a very well written and useful blog about a year ago because of my interest in Scrivener (which just had an update to their version 2 for Mac). The classy lady behind this blog actually has good ideas, offers insightful advice and tips from her experiences, knows Scrivener deeply and well, and is vastly more professional about attempting this career than I. The blog is The Edited Life.

Finally, I spent most of Tuesday afternoon reading a fine article in The New Yorker on Scientology. Perhaps itʼs simply time-lagged jealousy, but Hubbardʼs invented religion has always perturbed me. Now I discover that under its current (mis-)management itʼs even scarier than I had imagined or previously read or heard. The article is thoroughly worth reading, here. If the troublesomely “insane” garp on Thetan Level III seems intriguing, here it is. I also got some information here. Supposedly, although I couldnʼt locate it, the actual leaked documents are on Wikileaks. Terrifyingly nonsensical.

There. Since I am offering nothing for anyone to read recently, you can check out some of the places where I have been reading. Enjoy.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Scattering Seeds

Todayʼs post is the most scattershot collection of nothing-in-common I have ever put up (and I posted some really miscellaneous conglomerations early last year). As I will have to refill the bird feeder once I get this scheduled and finished, the title fits in many ways.


I caught a glimpse of the cardinal at our bird feeder on Friday (before I refilled the whole tube so that I could refill the whole tube again on Saturday — dang, greedy little juncos and sparrows!). I thought I would include the picture today in this pretty random harvest of this and that. Enjoy.

Can you see the cardinal? (Once again shot through a screened window)



Because I seem to get at least two hits a day searching for Carrie and/or Teagan, I thought I would include the address to connect for Carrieʼs very regular updates on Teaganʼs situation, making those searches that land here a little more worthwhile. Here it is:





Reflective safety vest in action, terrifying in this case the birdies…

On Friday afternoon, with Qwest in its inimitable fashion kicking out my internet connection every five minutes (no kidding, no exaggeration — it got so bad that I finally called them on it, and had a mechanized voice try to take me through examining my own cable connections at home, of which all were perfect, of course, while I am sure something got done invisibly on the Qwest end because after that I had continuous service until I shut down for the day, most irregular [ironic word choice]), I took a walk to deliver a DVD, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (a great flick, definitely recommended), and an audio book The Lovely One had finished. To that I added a hike out to the Y to resign my almost entirely unused three-year-old membership (thinking I will save that $35 a month and instead rejoin the hospitalʼs fitness center at $200 per annum*), which I get to retain until they actually end the membership on February 24 (just to get greedily one more monthly payment from my checking account). On the way around town, about three miles or a little more, I discovered that our fair city hasnʼt bothered yet to shovel out (okay, in their case, blow or plow) any of the sidewalks along city property (except probably downtown at the city hall). I was glad I wore my dork reflective green vest, considering the busy streets in which I had to stroll. Worse, perhaps, every intersection in town was a hillside of snow to climb to get back on the sidewalk! Pedestrians, the bottom of the civic list of importance, clearly.



The Chronories window

Finally, most of these notions are here because I recorded them daily in a cool little program I acquired back in December as part of a shareware bundle. The software is Chronories, a daily record/diary/computer spy program, and so far I like it a lot. (I have certainly done better at keeping a journal than I ever did trying to dictate one in 2010.) Right now, Chronories, Evernote, Firefox (which gets overused by me) and Scrivener (which I need to use more than I have lately) are about my favorite pieces of software on my computer.



Itʼs SuperBowl Sunday**, but you may feel confident that something pretty odd would have to happen if Janet or I tune into Fox today before itʼs time for the special Glee broadcast theyʼve been promising for weeks. Sports and me? Separate realities.


* Now that membership will get a lot more use than it ever has, for the next eighteen days, just because I am peeved at the greed of not stopping my membership immediately! — By the way, you can do the math between $35 monthly and $200 annually to see the savings (and having enjoyed the hospitalʼs fitness center years ago, I may even use that).

** Maybe Iʼll head over to the Y today. With Americaʼs favorite nonholiday in progress, probably no one will be there.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.