“Whenever I hear people talk about white superiority, I have to pause and think back on some of the white people I’ve known. It’s a depressing moment.”
Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 183). Simon & Schuster.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE GREAT PANDEMIC OF 2020:
Of course, during confinement, adventures are hard to come by. Unless, they are in our dreams, or in books and media or whatever people can make up to keep themselves sane — or not. Actually, the “not” sounds more adventuresome. One can always, however, find adventure vicariously in someone else’s life or works.
For the last few weeks or so, I found myself rattling around in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. A pleasant enough pastime to avoid spending my time talking to myself. Of course, I talk to Naida and yes, I talk to the dog also — sometimes fairly lengthy conversations. True, it is mostly me doing the talking, but he does look at me with those wet and very understanding eyes, especially when it is getting close to dinner or walk time.
About a week ago, I plunged back into the blogs written by my dear friend Richard Diran or as he is sometimes referred to, Burma Richard. I found things there I had not noticed before. So, for the next week or two, I expect I will become somewhat fixated on him and his works.
The weather in the Great Valley has cooled considerably in the last few days — from the sweltering mid-90s to the brisk sixties. One day, a little after one o’clock, tiring of staring at the cloudy sky, and having little to do but finish a bowl of leftover pesto gnocchi for lunch, I decided to check my Facebook posts. In response to a collage of photographs of Trumpsters haunting the White House bearing the title “When he goes, they go too” that I had shared, Neal the Fish-Man replied:
“I’d like to see Eric locked up with that guy who beat up Jeffrey Epstein in prison the day before he killed himself. Miller should be burned at the stake. The rest of them should just be thrown off cliffs.”
That made my day.
This morning I had a Zoom conference with another doctor at UCSF about the potentially cancerous nodule discovered a few weeks ago in my lung. He confirmed the opinion of my oncologist that, although it may well be cancerous, it is too small and poorly placed to be biopsied. He did add that, in his opinion, it was of the slow-growing kind and would review it again after my next CT scan in three months. Meanwhile, he said he will confer with the surgeons about the viability of an operation to remove it.
Today Naida and I spent some time in the yard examining bugs. Actually one bug in particular. Naida discovered it crawling among the roses and wanted to know if it was a good bug or a bad bug. After some research on the internet, we decided it was a good bug and so she allowed it to live. So goes another exciting day in this age of self-quarantine.
So, the days wander by, I do not remember how many. I am tired of writing about the nothing during this season of our self-quarantine. I decided to go back to reading all day. I have collected a bunch of the silliest books I could find and nestled down to read them. Outside of that, I do not remember what we did, so as far as I am concerned whatever it was it does not exist.
Ok — I will break from my self-imposed silence to mention that last night while preparing for bed a tune was going through my mind but the only words that rattled through my head were “strawberry jam,” “Casey,” and a band playing. I asked Naida, who is a walking encyclopedia of music, what the actual lyrics were. She immediately sang out:
Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde
And the band played on.
He’d glide ‘cross the floor with the girl he adored
And the band played on.
But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded;
The poor girl would shake with alarm.
He’d ne’er leave the girl with the strawberry curls
And the band played on.
When she finished, I asked, “Was that before or after the game or did he strike out with the strawberry blond?” (For those under 70, this no doubt means nothing to you. For those over 70 it probably leaves you with an upset stomach.)
Speaking of upset stomachs more or less, the next morning both Naida and I woke up with massive attacks of diarrhea. I reasoned that there could be three causes for this — first embarrassment over our colloquy of the previous evening; second the onset of coronavirus; and third, the most likely, the effects of the fresh elderberry pancakes we ate that evening made from the elderberry flowers we picked on our walk along the American River yesterday. I also seem to have lost my smart-phone. All in all, I am having a thoroughly horrible morning and that’s not even including the dreadful dreams that kept me awake most of the night. Sharks — they were about sharks — everywhere. Why sharks? There are no sharks in the Enchanted Forest. Perhaps elderberry flowers beside their laxative powers were also hallucinogenic. Sharks — they were all over the place — coming through the windows, up the pipes, through the new floor — ugh…
The Elderberry Flowers
Today, a few days after I wrote the previous paragraph, my telephone showed up. I had searched for it using a find-your-phone app. The app indicated the phone was in a house a few doors away from ours. After two days of leaving notes and banging on doors with no response, I decided to explore the possibility that the app had identified the wrong house. So, guessing that the phone may be located in the same area of our house as the neighbor’s, I searched that area again — first in our downstairs with great vigor — to no avail. I went upstairs to the bedroom where the app showed that the phone lay on our bed about where the dog places his nose whenever he crawls under the covers at night. We had torn the bed apart previously but apparently not this tiny spot and sure enough there it was. I decided to forgo wrestling with the many questions and recriminations that passed through my mind and be happy in a melancholy sort of way.
Today, Naida discovered a spider that eats the bug that eats the mites that eat her roses. Somewhere there is a nursery rhyme in this. In was also the morning the garbage trucks and the leaf blowers came around the neighborhood. Boo-boo the Barking Dog doing what he does best — barked.
I drove into the Golden Hills to check up on HRM and the Scooter Gang. Tyson one of the original members is moving to Roseville. Kaleb, the youngest and most troubled is much happier because his older brother who bullied him has moved out. Of course HRM and Jake seem to float about happily in their automobile obsessions. I am pleased.
Today begins the Memorial Day weekend. We have no plans. I know I will take a lot of naps. I will walk the dog several times, watch the news and several movies on TV, read at least two novels, visit HRM once, look up something odd on the internet, and fall asleep on the chair in the garden one sunny afternoon. Life is full of surprises. Like this evening. We watched cartoon fairy tales.
That night in bed, N and I hugged and sang a bit of “Yes Sir! That’s My Baby” to each other and then fell asleep.
Take care. Keep on social distancing. And don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
I was living in Chiang Mai Thailand during the early part of 2010 when I wrote the following:
This and that from re Thai r ment. March 6, 2010
It is hot. Chiang Mai has shared in the heatwave that has struck Southeast Asia for the last week or two. Although the mornings and evenings continue to enjoy wonderful spring-like temperatures, mid-day temperatures approach 100 degrees. Ordinarily, that temperature would drive me indoors, however, the Sala that I sit in writing this remains very pleasant. Other parts of Southeast Asia are hitting temperatures of 110 degrees or more. It all appears to reflect the regional differentiation in climate produced by the general global warming. The decade just past has been the warmest and driest on record, consistent with the temperature reports for the globe as a whole. The climate models I have reviewed predict that this trend of warmer and drier weather for Southeast Asia will continue into the foreseeable future. We have already seen the climate of the Northeast portion of Thailand, the country’s poorest, change from semi-tropical to semi-arid during the past decade or so. Given that the ASEAN nations of Southeast Asia contain a population of 600 million almost twice that of Europe and their lack of modern infrastructure, I expect we will see significant population movements regionally in the next decade.
For the past week, I have been forced to forgo my normal writing schedule (emails, novels, journals) and succumb to pressure to complete a number of children’s stories by next week when Hayden returns from Bangkok. I got started on this because I ran out of children’s books to read to Hayden at bedtime. When my daughter Jessica was a child, at bedtime I would make up stories to tell her. Unfortunately, long before the story was finished, much to her dismay and amusement. I would fall asleep. In order to avoid inflicting that trauma on another child, I decided to write down the stories so that we can read them together. I chose to use Google Images to illustrate the stories with cartoons and photographs to add interest. Once it got out that I was doing this I began to receive demands and deadlines to produce new stories, not from Hayden or other children who couldn’t care less, but from their parents. I am under the gun to finish one of the stories by Thursday of this week for parental review.
One group of stories is a series of detective tales staring Hayden and his stuffed animal friends “Snaky the Snake”, “Buddy the Bear,” “Whitey the White Tiger” and other creatures of his bedroom menagerie. Also appearing in the stories are some of the creatures living in the gardens and empty lots around the house. They include “Feral Kitty (one of the feral cat pack that lives in the lot next door), “Boo-blue bird”, “Francis the Fraidy Frog”, “Clarence the Cross-eyed” the king of the cobra’s living in the lot next door (yes, we have cobras as neighbors in the lot that I have dubbed the “Wild-lands”) and in Bangkok “Ratty the Great, King of the Rats, the 10347th of his Line” and others. The humans in the story include me “Pookie the Old,” Nikki the Pilot” and “Pi Nuan.” Pi Nuan is the name of the maid and is usually the heroine of the adventures while Nikki and Pookie prove to be pompous and mostly useless. In addition to the Prologue, the first three tales are, “The Case of the Missing Breakfast,” “The case of the Monster of the Wild-lands” and the Case of Close Encounters of the Rat Kind”. The latter I have to finish by Thursday or suffer the consequences.
Apparently, I wrote an entire book of fairy tales. I do not remember this. Some of the titles I recognize, but I cannot recall any of the stories. This makes me sad.
1805. A Viennese man, Johann George Lehner, invents the Frankfurter.
(That’s funny, I always thought his name was Nathan and he lived on Coney Island.)
A. Terry on Top:
On May 11, Terry sent the following email:
THE END IS COMING! The poll numbers are terrible. Trump’s campaign manager is going to be sued by Trump because he bought a Ferrari with what he made off the campaign and the rats are leaving the ship. Nobody is waiting for November, they are finding horses to ride in 2024. And the Senators have panicked! The question is what exit do they run for if the ship is half sunk.
“Trump’s Feeling Is, ‘Why Are We Losing Everywhere?’”: With Advisers Feuding and Numbers Plummeting, Trump Eyes Campaign Shake-up. Brad Parscale (and his Ferrari) is in the hot seat. Kushner is pushing for Nick Ayers, and against a Corey Lewandowski return. But whose fault are the disastrous swing state numbers?
A few hours later he followed it up with:
Yes, it is. But it’s a long way to November and a lot more people are going to die, the economy is not going to recover until there is a vaccine, even if Biden takes over. It’s going to be a long five years. It took FDR 8 years and a world war to get out of the depression. Perhaps a liberal majority in Congress will act faster than FDR’s Congress that was limited by the Southern Democrats. They no longer exist. They are red state republicans right now. Same right-wing philosophy.
But it will take getting rid of the filibuster and adding two justices to the SCOTUS to get the real Second New Deal. And that’s the only thing that will work. Something profound has happened. The country has been set back and brought to its knees. Blame is a waste of energy. Read Schlesinger’s Age of Roosevelt (Three Volumes) to see how we did it before. It was messy but effective. Roosevelt said when he came to office: “ If I don’t succeed I’ll be the last President of the US”. A left-wing dictator is not out of the question. Think AOC. And she ( or someone with similar Populist charisma could pull it off in 4-8 years). So we Democrat’s better do it right, no hold barred.
While I agree with most of what Terry writes here, I still cannot ignore my suspicion that the Trump administration is actively planning to find a way to avoid the election or, if it is held and goes against him, invalidate it. This would not be the first time in history that great empires have crumbled seemingly overnight nor would it be the first time that the light of democracy has been put out by a wealthy psychopath.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
One should not confuse a mistaken belief with general incredulity.
(I cannot figure out what this means. Either old Trenz has gone a bit batty or he has recently been reading the works of some obscure Nineteenth-Century German philosopher.)
C. Today’s Poem:
An Untitled Poem
As you watch the sand of your life
sift through the funnel of fate,
will you turn to your mirror and ask
“Is there time still, or am I too late?”
Have I done all the things that I love,
or only those things that I hate?
Do I know the value of life,
or only the hourly rate?
Could the money I traded for time
compensate for what I had lost?
Oh, if only I’d known then, what I know now:
the sunshine not only the frost.
The rich and the poor share one fact
when the time of your life unfulfilled,
falls through the funnel to black.
Not one grain can be sucked through time’s hole, not one
grain can ever come back.
Burma Richard (Richard Diran)
D. Peter Responds:
In the previous issue of T&T I wrote:
“I discovered the following quote in Wikipedia while looking for something else. It is one of life’s great conundrums that whenever you look for something, you inevitably discover something else more attractive but far less useful than that for which you were originally looking. Anyway, I have posted what I found here in the hope that Peter, who studied and received advanced degrees in philosophy from one of the world’s great Universities, and sometimes reads my postings, could unravel the meaning and significance of it as well as the conundrum I mention above.”
To which Peter kindly responded:
“It seems You found the following quote ‘more attractive but far less useful than that for which you were originally looking.’ So, two things of concern: (a) re: unraveling the meaning and significance of the quote, and (b) unraveling the meaning and significance of the conundrum. Regarding (a), epistemic refers to knowledge; epistemology concerns how we know what we know. An ontic state “is precisely the way it is,” describes reality without reference to epistemic knowledge. Hume showed that causality can’t be proven–stuck it in his desk drawer and went on with life, but reality remains nonetheless—unless you consider that the Buddhist precept that everything is imaginary, under the veil of Maya, in which case the whole thing is moot and there’s nothing left but to say “Om” and chant the Diamond Sutra under the bodhi tree until you achieve moksha in a blaze of enlightenment; and then face (b) the conundrum: shall I become a bodhisattva and return to the world of epistemic and ontic in service to struggling humanity, or remain in the eternal boredom and humorlessness of nirvana? Of course, bodhisattva uber alles, certainly more attractive because it’s where the action is, if less useful than wallowing in the eternal salubrious idleness of moksha.
“The above stuff is why my philosophy dept. chairperson, the esteemed George Geiger, a former student of John Dewey and distinguished humanist, reluctantly acquiesced in allowing me to get my 30 credits so I could graduate, especially after I submitted my senior thesis entitled ‘The Mythological Basis of Swedenborg’s Cosmology.’”
Thank you, Peter, for clearing things up and to all you Swedenborgians out there Om… to you too.
E. Giants of History: More Burma Richard.
In addition to his ethnographic activities, gem trading, and other adventures, Burma Richard also visited some of the more spectacular sites in Myramar and recording them in his blog (Here). The following tells of his visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The Shwe Dagon Pagoda
Objects that have been donated for centuries fill one room. Jewel encrusted scabbards, solid gold Buddha’s, silver Buddha’s set with rubies, and lacquered gold prayer books. In an adjoining room where racks of women’s hair hang, some are four or five feet in length and still glisten. I was told that those too poor to give anything of worldly value, had their hair cut off as a sign of deep faith and humility. I held the hair in my hands and the consistency differed from thick to thin, and the color from brownish to deep black. Some hair was straight, some wavy, but it was very eerie, fingering the hair of the dead.
As I walked along speechless at the enormity of it all, I noticed small cubicles dedicated to the day of the week with worshipers burning incense. If you ask someone from the west when they were born, they will answer you such and such a day in that month in the year of our lord. If you ask a Burman when they were born, they will reply, Monday or Friday or whatever day of the week that they came into the world. The Burmese week has eight days, Wednesday being divided in half, each day represented by a different animal. Wednesday morning is an elephant with tusks and Wednesday evening is an elephant without tusks. My birthday is Thursday which is represented by a rat.
Burma Richard (Richard Diran)
Ruling Planet: Sun
Ruling Direction: Northeast
Personality/Attributes of the Garuda:
Challenge willing taker
The tougher the obstacle the more motivated you are
Energetic, optimistic, motivative to others)
F. Tales From the Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, Pirate, Treasure Hunter, and Many Other Things:
Introduction:I. Am. A. BurnedOut. Half_assDriver….going to.the. Elephant.Graveyard .. titudvillaOne:He was from “”Malta…””…I was in the Carousel bar When Crazy Carl ..showed Me his (( Deportation Papers ))…While we were there the Marshall-s came to get him For Deportation to -Malta .== for trying to sell a Machine gun to an F.B.IAgent.. ** the stories never end….around 1970 s .Two:CARL was also busted on sailboat.@…on-aboard was 6Tons ofdope…Carl toldthe Judge..that hedidm’t know’’’’itwas on —board….THEREWAS SO MUCHDOPE COULD NOTGOBELOW…..=HEGOT 2 YEARS…Three:one time we hadstolen a tug boatfrom the Miamiriver..(((The Tugwas already stolenFROM CUBA)))atnight then we stolefuel..from abarge…then wewent toJamaica…..andsmokeddope….with patFour:Dirty Roy said i canhave the DEADFRENCH guys 30 ftboat ((.in FrenchSt. Martin….)))),,,,,,,,,,…throw the deadguy over theside. ..>>>the boatis mine >>>>mustdo soon he is gettingpretty. RipeFive:There are lessons tobe learned from aStupid manFuck up work isnever done(donur)==donuts=====(d)(o)(n)(u)(t)S…,,,,,,@. andCOFFIE 3AMSiX:*ERK = BKK.HERE @.NOW IMTITUSVILLE.FL**(come andvisit…perhaps picku up in Orlando))— Rocketshipsblast—off everymonth orso….interesting..*
“WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SOURCE OF DANGER for any organism? Predators? Natural disasters? Fellow organisms of the same species, who constitute the most direct competition for everything? Sibling rivals, who compete even in the same family, the same nest? No. The biggest danger is the future. If you’ve survived until now, then your past and present offer no dangers, or at least no new dangers.”Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.