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Saturday, July 22, 2017

E(A)RNEST SQUIRREL AGAIN

I had not seen my little furry friend for quite some time and was glad to run across him in the woody end of our yard.


"Hello!" I said, "What have you been up to?"

"Hello yourself! I have been getting my education but am making poor progress."

"But you're such a bright, chipper thing. Surely you're not in earnest!"

"Careful how you spell that, human."

"Of course, Ernest. What seems to be the problem?"

"It's this heat, Geo., this "summer" thing. It gets to my brain and I can't remember where I buried my nuts."

"Understandable, Ernest, hot weather affects us all. It sends my blood circulation to all sorts of irrelevant places." 

"Yes, but you're over 100 times my age. I'm a young adult squirrel and you're a bag of mad old bones."

"Now, now, settle down. You've left the wisdom of your elders out of your calculations."

"I'm trying to remember where I buried my nuts, Geo. What has your vast experience have to offer?"

"Beyond a particularly disgusting old sea shanty, nothing. However, age brings contemplation of enigmas --important and difficult questions like..."

"Like what, Geo.? What's going through your heat-and-age-addled mind now?"

"Well, Ernest, I was just wondering how spiritual life might change if all the different religions of the world succeeded in converting each other at once." 

"Hmmm."


"Ernest? Ernest, where are you skulking off to?"

"Geo., I believe I just recalled where my nuts are."

Well! Everybody's got to believe something but I suspect he's just avoiding me until autumn.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Would You Like 8 Billion Visits To Your Blog Every Day?


Neither would I, but it seems our numbers are declining. It's been about a year, in fact, since I learned the world's human population reached (only?) 7 billion so admittedly some exaggeration is involved here. However, we must consider the future of mass communications, its laggardness, its abbreviation into 140 characters and, most horrific, its obsolescence.  In our hearts, we bloggers know we are writing a chronicle of our time in disappearing ink.  All insurrectionists need do is find out where the internet is plugged in and disconnect it --unfortunately severing their own influence too.

So what? Is our influence as parents and elders in any way impeded? I think not. We will still be here, from one generation  or another. Our message is simple: As Anna Lappe wrote, "Every time you spend money, you cast a vote for what kind of world you want."  You can buy cheaply at the expense of outsourcing American jobs,  union-busting or shop wisely and keep hardship away. It is a time of reflection.

If we assume to see ourselves in the mirror, and believe we are really there, we must also assume the mirror is really there. I look into it and try to imagine my eyes shining with good mental hygiene --and say, " Stop making faces, you're too old to start turning any of life's great corners." But I ignore myself and reply, "Time is not a physical constant and can only be measured by the individual, so there." 

To which, my reflection sticks its tongue out. This makes me think the world's gone a bit funny on me, and I withdraw. I look at other mirrors --the president on tv. Alas, the camera does not love him. I saw him smile once, like a crack in perdition --smelled sulfur and withdrew. So here I am, at laptop, encouraging everyone to remain on Blogger and other media receptive to complete thoughts. Even though, despite a possible contradiction in terms, as a boy of 67, my old age is in its infancy. Everyone, keep writing!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rocket Racer, A Toybox Adventure

Rocket Racer was speeding through outer space. He was on a mission.  

I was retrieving illegal bottle-rocket (also known as roofburners) remains from my property. They were on my house, barn, pumphouse --all over my property.  We hicks are sensitive to such things because we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of dry fields and stand guard at our farmgates until 2 or 3 a.m July 5th.  But across the road, 900 acres were sold 15 years ago to developers --who still flap overhead on their leathery wings in the depths of night. Who moved in there? A lot of nice people, definitely, but also a lot of incautious 20-somethings in shorts and t-shirts --to show off their beer-guts-- whose July 4th directive seems to consist of validating the Red States' opinion that California is populated by idiots.

Norma Normaphotoed me this afternoon after I raked the final spent roofburner off the pumphouse. Note temperature (100F) on door sill thermometer . 
At that moment, Rocket Racer landed in my left hand. Little pilot popped the hatch and asked if we could talk. I said "Sure" and brought him indoors to the kitchen sideboard.
"My name is 6." He said,  " I have been entrusted with a message from the planet Kaboom."

Geo.: I'm familiar with Kaboom.

(But it occurs to me that some readers are not, without having read 2 previous essays clickable here, anywhere among these blue words )

6: My message is, the people of Planet Kaboom --on behalf of all sentient explosionoids and gunpowder-based life-forms-- wish emphatically that you not blame them for recent explosions in the state of California or any other regions of the continent that are composed mainly of kindling. 

Geo.: Oh, there's no danger of misunderstanding, 6 . The detonations in question are only eruptions of those who feel passion for God and Country and can express themselves in no other way. Incidentally, is 6 your real name?

6: Let's not bring up old issues.  As to identity, you're welcome to click here and learn about #6  but that's another issue. As to Country, it will proceed if informed by reason and discussion. As to God,  it's not a question of humans believing in Him or not, but the severe reservations He's demonstrated about humans.

Geo.: I think it's time I took you outside and let you return to your interplanetry duties.

6: Please, you seem to have changed into your pajamas --that's a universal sign that a guest should say goodnight.

Geo.: Goodnight, 6, and give my best to the Kaboomians --shall we step outside?

6: Yes, let's.

 


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Homo Religiosus Revisited

As your substitute pastor, I know this congregation did not expect to see me here again this Sunday --neither did I-- but your regular pastor has not yet returned. I will give further details at the close of my sermon, a sermon I had to come up with on short notice --reworked from 8 years ago.
                                            [Doodle added 1/2 hour ago] 

Homoreligiosus = Mankind the religious[from 50 year-old lecture notes]

The tendency to be religious is fundamentally panpsychic, a personification of the universe. I can't dismiss the idea that the universe itself is intelligent. It exists in time between parenthetical boundaries of being and nothingness, concept-totality and concept-zero, which also frame the human mind.

We receive the emergent reward, Life, but find it unsafe and we'd very much like to speak to someone about it. Between the maths of all and nothing we are left two conclusions, both unsatisfactory: life, as a product, is defective and, because it malfunctions at some very crucial moments, gives us the jumps.

Church offers, among other psychological and social comforts --such as venue for a generation of women who liked to sing in crazy vibrato voices-- a complaints window. One takes questions there. The window is round and located on the bottom.

If we turn a church over, answers float up to the glass --"yes", "no",  "ask again later"-- seemingly at random. This suggests the sphere of living worship and the ink-filled 8-Ball are novelties of similar construction. We are left to search beyond. When the starting point of one's search includes the whole universe, beyond is a tough proposition.  A study of languages  is helpful.

Beyond, unlike universal personification, is a concept imagined outside parenthesis. Parenthesis a word given by Greeks to the Romans, who in turn bequeathed it to us along with two related expressions: homosapiens* and ora pro nobis**. This keeps my theory of human religion in a flexible state. As today it is bendier than yesterday so shall it be more bendy tomorrow --and, if not intellectually safe, at least no less safe. In fact, you are welcome to try this at home with your complimentary 8-balls (which you will receive upon signature of the document at the exit).

Your regular pastor, Reverend Blackstool, will return as soon as you all sign a promissory  agreement to stop teasing him about his name. Go in peace.

*man the wise
**pray for us

Friday, June 30, 2017

Half a Century

This corner may not mean a whole lot to people now, but in the summer of 1967 --50 years ago-- it was a symbol, a rallying point. I was worried. Everybody was worried.  Some excellent worried people got together and planned something where the district around this street sign gives onto Golden Gate Park. John McClaren, the gardener who built the park, meant it as a place of peace where people could go and enjoy the forest he'd dreamed and created on the dunes. 


                                                     ( Photo above has been released into the public domain by its author, Waterthedog                                                                                                                                                            at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide.)

They inspired a remarkably capable tenor to record this song:
{Scott Mckenzie, "San Francisco"}


Wheew! Half a century. I wrote a poem on a piece of binder paper, under a tree at Sacramento Community College. A girl walked over and read it. She asked if she could have it. Like now, nothing I wrote was sacred to me so I tore it from my notebook and put it in her hand. Some months later, a thin volume of poems was handed to me by someone else. Here:
I take great pleasure in rewriting the 1st stanza:
The wall on Front Street is too high and thick,
Too grand to be explained, too brief to be noticed.
The newsboy flashes on and off, fading away 
Until he throws a paper --then peddling meekly,
Goes to bicycle off the edge of the world. 

I didn't do the artwork but have this evening narrowed it down to Adele Davalos, Rick Almeida, and Chuck Moore.  I saw Chuck at a hotel restaurant 30 years ago --he was working in Hollywood-- but I forgot to ask him. I do recall the closing lines of a poem by a roommate 50 years ago:

"Haight is love
 Love is Haight
 Love is Hate
 Haight is hate." --S. Waymire

He is now a Zen teacher in Oregon.

I will close  with a lovely song by Mary Hopkins --throughout which one feels an homage to Bertolt Brecht, Elizabeth Hauptmann and especially, Kurt Weill:Mary Hopkin, "Those were The Days"


I know I usually telegraph enigmas with humor in this blog, but today I felt a need to address a  serious subject. 50 years ago, I felt peace was imperative. I still do. Yet I see it slipping away. I know that, according to scripture, it takes several generations to get rid of a bad idea, but thought we'd be further along after a half century.  This dismays me, but even worse, it embarrasses me. I have measureless faith and trust in the current peace movement, in this vibrant new generation of activists, but we must never forget our early reflections on the subject. We must support their efforts and give peace a chance.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Return to Love

A (clickable) repost from
Sunday, May 19, 2013:

A Brief Sermon On Love

It is Sunday and I have begun with a doodle, a local monocular  tradition. When our valley is in a state of barometric flux, some of us wake up and celebrate with migraines. It is best to keep one eye closed --the hurty one-- which induces clumsiness. Not clumsy to the degree recorded by Ecclesiastes [(10:18), "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it."] but still pretty clumsy, so movement is kept to a minimum and no pit-digging for sure.

I only ventured out to the pumphouse for a headache pill and came right back. Forgot and carried the pumphouse padlock in with me. There it is up there, and a doodle I drew of it. I drew a human between them and that's when it became a sermon, a sermon about love. We'll start in the past, back when I had two eyes open and radios contained little orchestras.

The little orchestras played  love songs mostly. I thought I was in love once or twice but my hat had only caught fire --as often happens. Then one has a chance encounter. One sits at a table somewhere opposite a stranger, and since decorum dictated --at the time-- strangers remain even stranger, a strange thing happens. First, one's past and present tenses are confounded.  Then one notices the other's eyes and decides there is something really quite elegant about them. Then one falls in love.

Oh my. It's what, 1968? The thoughts: "Why now?  At a time when our best and most progressive leaders are shot dead at their podiums, when theocon regressionists and international belligerents consider God their quaint subordinate, when I could be drafted or jailed, when there is so much to do, why now? Why not ten years from now, five even? Why now?"

Let us turn to Acts 9:5-6 - "...it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."  Because there are a lot of them out there, and one only has two feet,  we must rely upon the transcendent power of love. Love doesn't care what's going on. It hits when it hits, incapable of putting itself off no matter how inconvenient it is. It, I mean Norma, finds one doodling the pumphouse lock and asks, "How's your barometer-head?" And, miraculously, my eyes are opened.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Estivating

Estivation is the summer equivalent of hibernation, a period of torpor during hot weather practiced by animals that have any sense at all. When you wake on a summer morning and your eyes look like this,

                                                   it's time to estivate. Ok, my illustration is really a photo of the moon I took through a telescope and framed in a big knothole --but it's close. How close?

That question brings us to the next photo, the pumphouse thermometer out back. This is how it's looked for a week:
The moon keeps about 240,000 miles from our planet, and has done so for 4 billion years. The sun, however, is not satisfied with that and varies its distance. I'm too hot to pore through my astronomy book for exact data, but I guess I know a thing or two about thermometers. The good ones are graduated in both Fahrenheit and Celsius so we can calculate our solar remove.

Here's how: 1st, divide the Fahrenheit scale by the Celsius scale; 2nd, label the quotient in miles. That's it. Pumphouse thermometer reads about 112F and 45C. Therefore the sun is only about two and a half miles away right now.

You don't want the sun too close. Life there is hard. There's a kind of fish --made of titanium and asbestos-- that glows red and transparent in the sun's  heat and swims over oceans of fire, but less adaptable creatures must content themselves with family generations that only span 1 billionth of a second.

If there are any errors in my calculations, I shall correct them in autumn --hopefully before winter hibernation.