Monday, July 21, 2008

Did You Get This One Yet?

I got it from my mother:

Wild Pigs

A chemistry professor in a large college had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Professor noticed one young man (exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt. The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist government.

In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, 'Do you know how to catch wild pigs?'

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. 'You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in The last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat, you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity. The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America . The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc.. While we continually lose our freedoms -- just a little at a time. One should always remember: There is no such thing as a free lunch! Also, a politician will never provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself. Also, if you see that all of this wonderful government 'help' is a problem confronting the future of democracy in America , you might want to send this on to your friends. If you think the free ride is essential to your way of life then you will probably delete this email, but God help you when the gate slams shut! In this 'very important' election year, listen closely to what the candidates are promising you !! Just maybe you will be able to tell who is about to slam the gate on America . 'A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.' - Thomas Jefferson

Oy. Typical neocon propaspamda.

Here's my reply:

"This is really confusing to me.

Why is this story set in a chemistry class? Is it because whoever wrote this wants you to think that the person talking about wild pigs is smart?

What does the bullet in the back have to do with the story about wild pigs? Is it because whomever wrote this wants you to think the person is brave? (If he's so brave, by the way, why's the bullet in his back?)

What does fighting communists have to do with the story about wild pigs? Is it because whomever wrote this wants you to believe the young man loves freedom?

When was the last time there was a country that had a war against a communist uprising? I'm not talking about a political struggle--a bullets-flying, people-dying war that involved a communist or marxist faction? The last one I can remember is in Nicaragua, back in the late 1970's/early 1980's. But if you recall, the communist faction--the Sandanistas--were in power, and the Contras who were fighting them were funded almost entirely by America.

So, this 'young' man who was wounded would have to be in his late forties. And his anger towards a government that hands things out would be incredibly hypocritical, since he had doubtless been eating at the same trough as those other formerly wild piggies.

But let's put that argument aside for a moment and just look at the wild pig allegory.

What is the function of government? Is it simply to pave the roads and build jails and stay out of the way of capitalism? We have a government that does that right now, more than any other time in the world, and what do we have? More tainted food than ever before--in peppers, tomatoes, ground beef, et c. More poisonous unsafe toys than ever before. More mine collapses than ever before. Higher food prices, higher gas prices, unregulated banks approving horrible-risk people for mortgages that are guaranteed to bankrupt, (and the government moves in to save the corporation just three years after making it harder to declare that bankruptcy) more uninsured people, more underinsured people...the list goes on. All on the watch of a Republican.

Capitalism, at its nature, is a beast. It favors the rich, it punishes the poor. Left unchecked, it destroys societies and creates oligarchies. One role of government, in my mind, is to control this beast. To level the playing field, at least a bit. To make sure that anyone who works hard can succeed, as opposed to just the sons of those who are already in power.

Government should, in short give hope to the hopeless.

I find it interesting, too, that this screed which decries the removal of freedoms that a big government brings us (and in the last forty years, the government has gotten larger, yes. But most of the growth of government has come during the tenure of three Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Dubya). Not mentioned at all in this is the actual removal of Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom as laid out in the Fourth Amendment, which is what the telcom immunity clause in the recent FISA bill brought us.

Since the heart of the claptrap below was a bit of 'folksy' animal husbandry, let me lay my own bit of Wild Kingdom on you:

Do you know how to catch a monkey? It's easy: Bury a jar with a slightly narrow neck in the ground. Let the earth around the jar harden, then drop some grapes and some nuts in the jar. Pretty soon a monkey will climb down, and reach into that jar, and grab those grapes and nuts. But the neck of the jar, which let his open hand in, won't let his closed fist out. And that monkey won't let go of that food. He won't let go, even as people come up to him, and throw a rug over him, and capture him, or club him to death.

Sometimes people are like those monkeys. They see what they think is a good idea--usually it's a mention of a past that seems so much nicer than today, or a convenient scapegoat to blame for todays ills, and they hold onto it. They hold on, and the don't let go, no matter if what's coming at them is a disaster. They just don't realize that if they just let go of that, they have a better chance of survival."


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This Is New

I've got two women.

Okay--I don't have two women, but it's damn close to that.

Even that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Okay, I know it's an exaggeration. But this is me we're talking about here.

Here's the rundown: 'A' is a woman I've known for about five years. She was married when we first met; but then again so was I. We work in the same office.

She started about a month before our house was foreclosed. We had to be out by January 1st, but we stayed an extra week so that we could at least be able to take down the Christmas decorations before abandoning the house. In addition, I had just gotten out of the hospital with peritonitis about a week before. There were two people from work who came to help us move: my buddy Al, whom I've known for years, and 'A.'

I had been on sick leave for roughly half of the time she had worked there, and she came and helped me move. That sort of thing sticks with you.

Skipping ahead: my marriage ends, her marriage ends. We talk. We occasionally hug. She tells me I give the best non-threatening hugs. I take her to the roof (where I would go sometimes to let off steam). She uses the roof for the same reason.

One time she couldn't make it to the roof. She came into my edit bay and closed the door. "Can I just cry in here?" she asked.

"Of course," I said. "Do you want me to do anything, or should I ignore you?" She wanted to be ignored, so I sat and edited while she cried behind the door. After a while she said 'thank you' and left. A while later she came back and kissed me on the cheek.

A shift began. She said things like 'if we didn't work together...' She told me things about her life that she normally wouldn't share. We emailed. A conversation thread revealed that she was alone one night. I invited her over to watch a movie. She said yes. I cancelled because I had forgotten I had a gig that night. We rescheduled. More dates were added. Eventually, we settled on three events. The first was Sunday afternoon. The second was Monday night. Monday, as in yesterday.

'B' contacted me through the internet--from a dating site. It was a wary contact. It took a while to get information out of her. I charmed her. I have that ability. Especially over the intertubes. I've said before that the farther away from me a woman is, the more attractive I appear to her. 'B' was from here in Smugtown. So I had to work harder. Compounding the problem was the fact that she was a smartass. Emphasis on the first syllable. She had been hurt and now she was taking a few wary steps into the world. We met for coffee. As befits the pattern, it took a bit of scheduling and rescheduling and last-minute rearrangements to actually meet.

Turns out she's not from Smugtown--just near Smugtown. No, she's from Hicksville. The office building where she works shares the property with cows. I am not making that up. She's bright, funny, and attractive. And she seems to enjoy my company. Or as she put it: "You seem relatively safe."

In a perfect world, 'A' and I would have come together months ago, and I would have never gone out with 'B.' Or 'A' and I would just stay close friends, and 'B' and I would split time between walking to one of several fine international restaurants in my neighborhood, and tipping cows in hers.

But it's not a perfect world, is it? The world's so imperfect, that I ended up
scheduling my second date with 'B' just a few hours before my first date with 'A.'

The 'B' date was fine. She had a good time, I had a good time.

The 'A' date was... well...

We had planned on going to a blues-n-barbecue event in a local park. But the afternoon was rainy. So instead we went to a local barbecue joint, ate some good food and talked. She talked about how her first husband died; I told her about how my Dad died. She talked about her son I talked about my kids. I made her laugh. She has a good laugh.

The rain had stopped, so we walked around. We went for ice cream. As we walked, I got up enough nerve to say 'Can I hold your hand?'

She said no.

But it led us to a discussion about what the hell was going on. It wasn't a 'no, I don't like you' no. It was an 'I'm not ready for this' no. So I didn't hold her hand. I did, however, buy her ice cream.

It was a fair trade--she paid for parking.

We walked. We talked. We ate our ice cream. I said that I didn't know what was going on, but I knew what I wanted to go on. I wanted a deeper, more intimate relationship with her, but not at the expense of our friendship.

She told me that at the beginning of the year, she had decided not to have sex for 2008. I told her that that was OK with me--I want the next person I make love to to be the last person I make love to.

She told me about a disastrous relationship with someone else who had worked at the office. It had ended badly, and a friendship was lost. She decided she wouldn't date anyone from work again.

We sat in a garden in a church yard and talked. She put her head on my shoulder. I liked that.

She said 'If it makes you feel any better, I really want to kiss you right now.' It did make me feel better.

Last night she came over for dinner. I grilled steak and chicken. She talked about her homework assignment for her creative writing class. She needed to come up with four ideas for stories about conflict:

  • Her vs. someone
  • Her vs. nature
  • Her vs. society
  • Her vs. herself
She could only come up with an idea for the first one. I thought (but didn't say) I should probably take a creative writing class just for the ego boost. So during dinner I lead her to discover that, in the past week, she had perfect examples of each of them.

The last one was my favorite. "Did you want to kiss me?" I asked her. She admitted she did. "So why didn't you?"

She said "Oh."

We played Wii. She kicked my ass in Guitar Hero III. I kicked hers in Mariokart.

We watched part of a movie. She curled up on the couch next to me. I put my hand on her shoulder. She put her hand into mine.

This might seem like nothing to some. It was most assuredly not.

It was time to leave. We hugged. I kissed her on her cheek. She kissed me the same. And it was good.

What a perfect evening.

Oh, yeah...'B.'

So how do I deal with this? She's a great person at the wrong time. How do I tell her that? I don't necessarily mean the words, since I'm a word guy (although any suggestions would be welcome). I mean more nuts and bolt stuff.

I think that in person is the best way, but I sure as hell don't want to have her drive a half hour to tell her goodbye, and I don't want to drive there to do it either. I think I'll have to do it on the phone.

I thought I was done with this shit in Junior High.

Problem is: I never did this shit in Junior High.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Twenty Four Days, Seventeen Hours

That's how long I have left before my kids come back to me.

And they're my kids. Okay, technically they're her kids too, and I know they love her and she loves them as well, but I have been the constant presence in their life from the moment they came into the world.

And I miss them. I miss them terribly.

That being said, I have to admit it's been nice having some Daddy time.

I had coffee with a

I rode my bike from my house down to the Erie Canal, and then another 6 miles along the canal path. I did this with a woman who, while is not a potential friend, is a friend nonetheless.

After work today, I'll be doing the ride again, only I expect to go farther and faster (my friend from yesterday wasn't the fastest pedaler).

On Saturday, I'll go a fourth time, this time with the woman who might be the

On Sunday, I'm going to a BBQ-and-Blues shindig that's not too far away from my house, and I'll be going with a lady.

The lady.

The lady I like.

A lot.

Who will also come over to my place Monday night to watch a movie.

Yes, I've got two Which is kindasorta making me feel awkward.

But lookit: Both of these relationships are in the potential stage. As much as I think I might like a more intimate relationship with the lady I like a lot, there's a number of issues that need to be worked out. And one thing I'm certain about is that I don't want to lose the friendship with her. I'll sacrifice friendship for friendship.

So I continue apace.

And there's movement on the 'Time to get out there and really do some fulfilling work' department: A project that I thought might be stagnant until this fall could be moving forward, and very quickly. This thing is big enough that it might turn into a full-time job in a hurry.

But, just as in the friend category, it's more potential than possibility. But I remain hopeful. Joyful, even.

But still...

Twenty Four Days, Sixteen Hours and Twenty Minutes.

But who's counting?


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Open For Business

Here. Not much selection yet. Maybe not much for a while, but I kinda like what I have.