“Any deity or concept or universal principle which put obedience above decent behavior toward an innocent human being was evil.”
Simmons, Dan. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, Book 1) Random House Publishing Group.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
The week began with a series of warm sunny days. Last week, the wind and rain stripped many of the trees of their blossoms. Now leaves, seemingly overnight, wrap the naked boughs in a bright green crepe. (A wrinkled fabric, not a pancake. I am not too good with metaphors.) During the day, deep shadows hug the sidewalks where only last week the sun peeking through spindly branches left the ground cracked in shadows like thin ice beneath a skaters blades. (I’m not so good with similes either.)
The Anguished Oak in Springtime.
Things moved on day by day pocked now and then by chilling fears of the lengthening shadows of fast approaching night. Thankfully, the weather imparted a feeling of a new beginning — a time for love even for those ancients warming themselves on sunny benches waiting.
Dick was gone to San Diego for most of the week and I watched H slowly drift into adolescent adventures leaving me free to slip away to visit Naida or to sit in the sun and wonder at the power of life to make one lust for happiness every moment even knowing failing is the default setting for us all.
EDH Students Return to School after Spring Break.
It is Easter Sunday morning. The weather is sunny and warm. Alas, yesterday I did not get what I wanted, so this morning, I pouted feeling like everyone hated me. I sat in my car in the middle of a shopping center parking lot having a discussion with my self:
“I feel all alone.”
“You spend half your life alone. What’s so different about this time?”
“Nobody likes me. No one wants me around.”
“Hmm… how many people would like you around but you do not want to be around them?”
“Maybe you are right. Perhaps, I am overdoing it, But, why do I feel like I’ve got zits on my psyche?”
So I went to a movie. Sometimes entertainment can cure most ills — especially those you force on yourself. I saw “Ready Player One.” A few days ago, I saw “Isle of Dogs.” If you want to experience the pinnacle of the animator’s art, these are two movies you should not miss.
El Dorado Hills is no place for introverted, cynical, sarcastic, grumpy old men. Sure, it can be pretty in its artificial well laid out way. But, it’s no place for the introverted and cynical. You have to go out of your way to meet people and if you cannot do happy talk, you soon will find yourself shunned — who likes a sarcastic cynic after all. Happiness here is as manufactured at the landscape.
Me, I’m a city boy. In a big city when you leave your home in the morning, there are people out and about all around you — some snarling and distracted — noise, urban smells — rushing here and about — tension and anxiety. You stumble into someone. He responds, “Hey, watch where you’re going old man.” You counter with something like, “Up yours.” So it goes all day, like the steel shot in a pinball machine rudely bounced around here and there until finally, if you are an introverted, cynical, sarcastic, grumpy old man like me, when you return to your home that evening you can consider the day well lived. Too much happiness is a precarious state, it inevitably leads to anxiety.
By the weekend, I had begun to slip deeper into depression — obviously. Adrian arrived and would leave Monday for Thailand so that he could shlep SWAC back to the US. Bob was to rip out the kitchen this weekend so that the remodelers could work on it next week. HRM had his two best buds staying over doing teenager things. Naida was busy preparing her taxes. Although I was not alone, I felt isolated. I began to plunge into an obsession about the hopeless state of the world. I needed to laugh soon or I feared I would be forced to flee into the bathroom and flush my head down the toilet. So, I got into the car and drove for three hours to San Francisco, dragged Peter out of his house and off to lunch at a Peruvian restaurant where I ate tarted-up scallops and drank some piss-yellow soft drink supposedly native to Peru but bottled In New Jersey.
Peruvian scallops, cola and I somewhere on 24th St.
Eventually, we ended up drinking coffee while sitting on the Geezer’s Bench outside Bernie’s where we laughed a lot and I felt much better.
The next morning I returned to EDH swearing that next week would be better than this one was. Not that this week was all that bad, it’s just that I could not remember any of the good parts. I will try to remember things better next week.
I just looked up from my most recent book, Hearn’s “Scourged,” laughing at something stupid that I had read there. No wonder I can’t write a lick when I spend so much time reading about and enjoying things like the antics of that merry band of Fae deities Morrigan, Manannan, Fand, Brigid, Aenghus Og and a few others as they stumble around a muddy fen. (Not a bog. There is a difference. Fens look better. Fae deities do not stumble around in bogs.)
Few people realize their whole life is an adventure and as some explorers know, if you are traveling through the jungle, you’re going to be stung by mosquitos, may come down with malaria and have to keep on the lookout for tigers or other predators and if you’re lucky you will end the day with a few stories to tell around the campfire.
My dreams during the past week or two suck — short, annoying and unmemorable. Gone are the long fantasies and adventures that follow me through the day like iridescent hummingbirds. Mostly, my current dreams swarm about me like no-see-ums biting me into madness and raising welts on my subconscious. This morning, I dreamt about some small furry animal I was supposed to protect — perhaps it was a rabbit. I failed.
Speaking of rabbits, my Chinese zodiac sign is the rabbit. That always embarrassed me. I would have preferred to be a bear or a hawk or something heroic or coldly rapacious like that. Rabbits signify fecundity. That’s ok but my days of fecundity are long gone. Outside of that, all they seem good for is prey. If “Watership Down” is any authority, they may well have an interesting and complex social life, except for their unfortunate tendency to “Tharn.” That is, when confronted by a predator they tend to freeze up and die of heart failure before being devoured.This may be a good thing. It certainly seems better than waiting for teeth and claws to tear out your heart.
(What would humanity be like if we had that ability? Instead of shooting people or dropping bombs on people for whatever reason, we could instead just hide in dark alleys, jump out and shout “boo” when someone walks by. It would certainly lower the defense budget. Think about the terrorist on the subway. He jumps out of his seat and yells “BOO.” No one hears him because they are all ear-phoned up and staring at their smartphones. The terrorist runs up and down the aisle screaming “boo, boo, boo,” until he either scares himself to death or gives up and goes home, lights a joint, watches late night television and falls asleep. Imagine the second amendment — “A persons right to say, ’boo’ shall not be infringed.” Would a person’s right to bear a megaphone in a crowded subway be protected? Hmm… does a person have a right to bare arms? Do bears have a right to arms? Is it only limited to when they’re in the woods? So many issues, so little time.)
According to the Chinese horoscope, I am an earth rabbit.
“…Earth… Rabbit[s] are very frank and straightforward; however, they also give an impression of rudeness and stubbornness to others….”
“They are very strict with themselves… they always change from one job to another… and always pay special attention to details, being willing to do something trivial but soon getting tired of it.”
“Earth Rabbits actually have an excellent physical quality although they look unhealthy….”
Well, I certainly agree I look unhealthy, change jobs a lot and am obsessed with trivialities.
What got me on to this rabbit thing was during my walk around the lakes this morning a rabbit ran across my path. I have seen a lot of birds of all sizes, turtles (generally matte black) during my walks and assume lizards, snakes, rodents, and moles abound in the bushes but I never expected to see a rabbit. I wonder if it was “frank and straightforward.
Another week goes by in a blur. Today, Thursday, the day was clear and warm. I walked my full three miles this morning then cleaned my room in preparation for my departure next week.
Family contretemps or why I prefer to travel alone:
When traveling with someone, one of you must assume a passive and agreeable role or the trip will soon become a nightmare. I learned this truism from a distinguished psychiatrist I had gotten to know many years ago when I ran the New York State Mental Information Service for the Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties. He was distinguished not only for his intellectual attainments but his idiosyncrasies as well. For example, instead of an overcoat, he wore a cloak that he would dramatically swing off his shoulder when he entered a room. He and his family lived in a large 5 or 6 story brownstone just off Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side. One of the floors he converted into a basketball court so he and his young sons could shoot hoops on his days off. Off of his formal dining room, he had a room devoted exclusively to his large collection of native African art, every statue of which featured either enormously exaggerated boobs or elongated penises. He told me he got them so that whenever he had a dinner party he could walk his guests through the room and when they try to avoid staring at the protuberances he could tell them “It’s OK to stare. I’m a boob man myself.”
Anyway, he explained to me that in his long experience in marriage counseling, he found the only marriages that lasted were those in which one party assumed an accommodating role while the other was left to believe he (it was most often, but not always, a he) was in charge — whether or not in fact he was is irrelevant. So it is even in traveling.
Anyway again, about a year ago when I was in Sacile near Venice an American friend who lives there during the summer months, invited me to accompany he and his wife (who was born and raised in Calabria) to join them next summer on a trip through Croatia to Calabria. Sometime previously, I mentioned my wish to drive through Italy from north to south ending in Sicily but that given my age, I would probably need someone to drive me if I were to visit all the places I would want to visit. My granddaughter got very excited and volunteered to learn how to drive and drive me on that trip. A month or so ago, when my friend told me the dates for his time in Italy (July-) I notified the family only to discover that arrangements had already been made for them to travel to Italy in late August and September and that my granddaughter would be traveling in August with others and needed to be in central Italy one day during the last week and would be on the Amalfi Coast during the first week in September, so our trip was limited only to Sicily during the second week. I still tried to arrange my plans in order to accommodate theirs. Alas, it would cost too much for me to hang out somewhere in Italy for over a month, so I explained I was disappointed but perhaps we could try again next year. Since then, I have been bombarded with accusations of disappointing family member and more nefarious things. Thankfully, I finally have learned, after a long and tumultuous life, to ignore emotional outbreaks like these (especially among family members) and to understand the two guiding principles for a happy life:
“It’s always something.”
Roseanne Roseanna Danna.
“Tomorrow is another day.”
On Friday night, I attended a “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” dinner at Campus Commons in Sacramento. Apparently, these themed dinners are held every month there. The dinner featured baseball food (hot dogs and crackerjacks). Everyone was dressed up in baseball-themed costumes (except me and a few others). A moment of silence was held for the volunteer bartender who had worked there for the past 20 years and recently died. I was one of the younger attendees but still had a great time. I met two people who were reputedly retired spies. For whom they worked and what they did, I never found out.
HRM and the Scooter Gang (Now the Scooter/Mountain Bike Gang) took full advantage of Pookie’s Chauffeur Services this weekend to travel from park to park in the area to try out their various moves on the slopes and hills.
The Scooter Gang at Sunset in the Springtime of Their Lives.
SWAC arrives on Tuesday and in order to avoid an unseemly contretemps, I spent the next few days packing up my things and storing them away. It was a bittersweet time for me. My beloved sister had been diagnosed with stage one cancer, I was moving from my home, separating perhaps forever from HRM, family conflicts swirled about me like gnats and the ravages of age weighed heavily on my thoughts. On the other hand, I have experienced things like these before and probably will again so I know they too shall end one way or another. And love, like springtime, promises a new beginning and hopefully a blazing autumn.
So, off to Mendocino.
“Like in most advanced economies, job creation in the United States is being tilted toward jobs that require a college degree [OECD 2017]. Even if high school-educated workers can find jobs today, their future job security is in jeopardy. Indeed by 2020, for the first time in our history, more jobs will require a bachelor’s degree than a high school diploma (Carnevale, Smith, and Strohl 2013).”
“These statistics contrast with the trends for college completion. Although the share of young people with four-year college degrees is rising, in 2016 only 37% of 25- to 29-year-olds had a college diploma (Snyder, de Brey, and Dillow 2018). This falls short of the progress in many of our international competitors (OECD 2018), but also means that many of our young people are underprepared for the jobs in our economy.”
Mary C. Daly. FRBSF Economic Letter (April 2, 2018).
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
This was snagged from Brad Delong’s blog:
The debate in the comments is worth the read.
“THE “LET’S BE AGNOSTIC ABOUT RACE SCIENCE” CLOWNS ARE IN MY TWITTER TIMELINE AGAIN…
“Over on Twitter: 1500 GENERATIONS SINCE RADIATION FROM THE HORN OF AFRICA is not very many, n’est-ce pas? A genetic difference that gives you a—huge—extra 0.1% chance of surviving to reproduce will take a gene’s frequency from 1% to 5% of the population in that time.”
“Melanin and vitamin D, lactose tolerance and herding, sickle cell and malaria—all things with an order-of-magnitude bigger than 0.1% differential? Certainly yes. Other things like “general intelligence”? Almost certainly no. I don’t see how you can do the math and still claim otherwise.”
“And so I don’t see how those who claim otherwise—or even claim ‘agnosticism’ about whether it is likely that there are “important” differences between “races”—have done the arithmetic.”
“Can’t do the arithmetic?”
“Haven’t done the arithmetic?”
“Reject the arithmetic because they want to justify some form of racial privilege?”
“I don’t really care.”
“As @ezraklein just wrote: ‘[such] race science… is not ‘forbidden knowledge’… [but rather] America’s most ancient justification for bigotry and racial inequality…” As Charles Manski wrote back in 2011: “Decompos[ing] cross-sectional variation in observed outcomes into unobservable genetic and environmental components,” no. “Measur[ing] specific genes and us[ing] them as observed covariates when predicting outcomes,” quite possibly.”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Humans are the only species on earth who consciously choose to risk their own continued existence.
C. Today’s Poem:
Song of Ethalia, Sister of the Merciful Light.
I am the friend in the dark hour.
I am the breeze against the burning sun.
I am the water, freely given, and the wine, lovingly shared.
I am the rest after the battle, and the healing after the wound.
I am the friend in the dark hour.
de Castell, Sebastien. Knight’s Shadow (The Greatcoats Book 2). Quercus.
(JP- To put the poem in context, in the novel the Sister’s of Merciful Light was an order of prostitutes devoted to satisfying the carnal needs of men and women in the community in which they served.)
D. Charlie Stross on Bureaucracy:
“A bureaucracy is all about standardization, so that necessary tasks can be accomplished regardless of the abilities of the human resources assigned to it.”
Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files Book 5) (p. 257). Penguin Publishing Group.
E. Giants of History:
Maximinus Thrax Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus, (Emperor Maximinus I), Emperor of Rome 235-238 because he Born in Thrace (hence the name Thrax) he was the first emperor never to enter Rome.
Contemporary sources, including Historia Augusta, depicted Maximinus Thrax as a man of immense size, with large eyebrows, nose, and jaw (a symptom of acromegaly). His thumb was so large that he often allegedly wore a bracelet of his wife on it as a ring. The historian Herodian noted:
“He was definitely a man of such frightening appearance and colossal size, that there is no possible comparison at all with any of the best-trained Greek athletes or the most fierce of all barbarians.”
According to historian Cordus, he stood approximately 8 foot 6 inches(2.5 m) tall but exhibited normal proportions. Cordus also notes that Maximinus was so strong that he could pull a fully loaded ox cart on his own.