Posts Tagged With: Teenager

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Capt. Coast 0009. (May 9, 2020)

 

“By the logic of the free-market theorists, shouldn’t religious exemptions from U.S. taxes—state subsidy by other means—breed complacency and laziness among the leaders of every American church?”
Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 292). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, George.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE PANDEMIC:

 

 

I returned from my one-day trip to UCSF in the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion. As soon I entered the house from the garage and placed my hat in the closet, the front door opened and Naida entered with the dog in tow. They obviously were returning from a walk. She was holding in one hand something that looked like weeds —sprays of tiny white flowers radiating from a pale green stalk. “Welcome back,” she exclaimed. “Guess what I have?”

“It looks like hemlock.”

“No,” she laughed. “They are elderberry flowers. I picked them from the bushes by the river. The early California pioneers used to dip them in pancake batter and fry them. It is supposed to be very good.” And so, she flounced off into the kitchen and whipped up two elderberry pancakes. They were very tasty.

Two of three days after I wrote the entry above and not related to it, I felt sick. I checked for coronavirus symptoms — no fever, cough, or difficulty breathing but slight chills, headache, upset stomach, and fairly intense fatigue. I spent most of the day in bed. It could be simply a more severe than usual reaction to my immunotherapy infusion due to the doubling of the dosage at my last appointment. Or, it could be just another episode of my hypochondria. Time will tell.

I got up in the late afternoon still feeling terrible — sat in my recliner, ate a lunch of bread pudding with raisins (I’m not kidding), and instead of returning to bed, I watched “Singing in the Rain” for the umpteenth time. Still great.

I was still feeling bad, so I prepared to go back up to bed. The next movie on TCM, however, was Francis the Talking Mule starring Donald O’Connor. So, I decided to stay up and see it. Wouldn’t you?

After the movie, I was feeling a bit better but I felt as though I had a fever. I asked Naida to find the thermometer from where she left it so that I could take my temperature. She found it. Unfortunately, we had no alcohol with which to clean it so she took the bottle of Limoncello I had just purchased and plunged the thermometer into it. I had not known how pleasant taking one’s temperature could be (Of course, it was under my tongue.) Finding myself happier after sucking on a Limoncello flavored thermometer, I stayed up and watched “Fallen Angel” a noir film from 1945 directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and Alice Faye. Good movie.

The next morning, I woke up feeling much better (the Limoncello?) I decided to visit HRM, But before I go, a few words about hypochondria.

 

B. A FEW WORDS ABOUT HYPOCHONDRIA:

 

 

I often make fun of my relatively slight case of hypochondria, but for many, it may be a rather serious mental health disorder. Being a hypochondriac and experiencing health anxiety can be debilitating. It can severely affect the lives of the people who suffer from it. “A person with health anxiety often may have gone through a serious illness and fear that their bad experience may be repeated. They may be going through major life stress or have had a serious illness during childhood.” (As a child, I had repeated hospitalizations for pneumonia — virtually every winter from when I was about 7 until I was 14).

To those suffering severe episodes of this disorder, I apologize for making light of it. Nevertheless, according to the literature hypochondriac symptoms may include:

· Regularly checking oneself for any sign of illness.

(I do this, especially at night when I am trying to get to sleep.)

· Fearing that anything from a runny nose to a gurgle in their gut is the sign of a serious illness.

(Me too — a gurgling gut also keeps me awake. Doesn’t it do that to you too?)

· Making frequent visits to their doctor.

(I do. I love going to the doctor. Lots of shiny things to look at and also they, the doctors and nurses, really do try to make you believe they care.)

· Conversely, avoiding the doctor due to fear that the doctor will find they have a dreaded disease or serious illness.

(Not me. As I said, I love doctor visits.)

· Talking excessively about my health.

(Just read my previous T&T posts — I manage to mention the state of my health in just about every post.)

· Spending a lot of time online, researching their symptoms.

(I do this. Where else would I find the statements in italics I have included here?)

· May focus on just one thing: a certain disease (example: cancer) or a certain body part (example: the lungs if they cough). Or, they may fear any disease or might become focused on a trending disease (example: during flu season, they may be convinced that a sniffle means they’re coming down with the flu).

(My focus over the years may change, but I generally concentrate on one imagined disease at a time — I am not an Omni-hypochondriac).

· Are unconvinced that their negative medical tests are correct, then worry that they have something undiagnosed and that no one will be able to find it and cure them.

(All the time. Just today I read in the report of my most recent CT scan:

Redemonstration of tubular low density 10 mm structure in the right lower lobe tracks along the bronchovascular bundle unchanged over multiple prior studies. Previously seen groundglass nodule in the left lower lobe measuring 5 mm now appears to be entirely solid rather than groundglass (series 2, image 196).

 

If groundglass in your lung doesn’t concern you, nothing will. What frightens me most, however, is that I cannot understand what they are talking about. I mean, solid rather than goundglass should be a good thing, no?)

· Avoiding people or places they fear may cause them to get sick.

(I do. I even cross the street when walking past a hospital.)

On the other hand, the opposite of hypochondria is anosognosia a symptom of severe mental illness experienced by some that impairs a person’s ability to understand and perceive his or her illness. Now that is serious. Don’t be an anosogniac.

 

 

C. OFF TO THE GOLDEN HILLS:

 

 

 

Anyway, I drove off into the Golden Hills in the Mitsubishi to visit HRM. He and Jake washed the car and then, as teenage boys do, put their heads under the hood and practiced car-talk for a while.
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HRM and I also stopped by the little lake where I used to watch HRM fishing when he was younger. We reminisced about this and other things as we strolled around the ponds. I one point he said, “You know something? I never caught anything.”

We also watched some geese and ducks shepherd their goslings and ducklings on the grass by the water.
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Back at HRM’s house, while the teens were occupied with the Mitsubishi, I took the time to examine the new landscaping they were all busily installing this last week or two.

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D. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

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Another view of the Enchanted Forest.

 
After my return to the house in the Enchanted Forest, Naida spent much of the evening entertaining me with stories about the two goats she owned when she and Bill lived on the ranch by the Cosumnes River. Her original intention was to have the goats eat the unwanted invasive vegetation in the horse pastures. In fact, they named them Black and Decker because they were supposed to remove the weeds. Although it did not work out quite as she planned, and, if her stories are to be believed, they were more trouble than helpful, she nevertheless loved the goats until they passed away leaving her sad but with a lot of funny stories. One of them has her chasing the escaped Decker across the golf course fairways that bordered the ranch and urging the surprised golfers to join her in the pursuit.

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Naida with Black — Decker hides in the shadows.

 

 
A day or so later, Naida and I decided to take the dog and spend the afternoon on the banks of the American River. The river is separated from the Enchanted Forest where we live by a fifty-foot high levee. In the bottomland between the levee and the river, bike and hiking trails snake through cottonwood, black oak, and elderberry woodlands. Arriving at the edge of the river, we put down a yoga mat to sit on, watched some people fishing from boats, and eventually fell asleep.
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This week seems longer than most. In addition to my frequent naps, and watching the political punditry and old movies on TV, I spend the afternoons dozing in my chair in the garden, like an old man waiting for sundown. Perhaps tomorrow I will do something odd and unusual, perhaps even a new adventure, but right now I wonder why I would want to. At my age, naps and afternoons dozing in the sun seems to be as good as it gets.

I almost forgot, we still have our evening walks through the Enchanted Forest. They are nice too.

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Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog on one of the paths near our home in the Enchanted Forest.

 

 
Today the sameness of the day was broken with a FaceTime call with Peter and Barrie. There was a lot of talk about dogs, music, food (marzipan), and toilet paper.

One day. I dove back into the Golden Hills to do a little shopping. I also picked up some medicines and visited HRM. The crew at Dick’s house remains in their landscaping frenzy. SWAC has Dick, Adrian, Bob the Handyman and HRM working every day for the past week or so buying plants and trees (hundreds) at the nursery, hauling them home, planting them, installing the drip irrigation, transporting rocks and masonry and building the paths, terraces, and rock gardens. It all seems a bit mad.
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Hayden by one of the several new rock gardens.

 
I do not recall much of the past few days because I have felt, ill, listless, and irritable in the 90-degree heat and have taken to spending much of my time in bed — what else is new.

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MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 
I began writing, “This and that…” 10 years ago when I moved from the US to Thailand. It was not called “This and that from re Thai r ment” then. That happened almost a year later when my good friend Irwin Schatzman suggested I name it that. Irwin also suggested “3Th,” but I no longer remember what that means. About eight years ago, my beloved “cuzin” died, a victim of cancer.

I moved into a house in Chiang Mai I built but no longer owned in order to take care of Hayden who was four at the time.

My original purpose in writing what became T&T was to make it more efficient to keep in touch with my friends and relatives back in the US by writing a single email rather than separate ones to each. I also wanted to begin keeping a journal about my exile. I had tried to keep a diary many times in my past but would soon lose my resolve and abandon it. For a while, I kept the journal separate from my letter but I thought by combining my journal with that letter I would feel obligated to keep on writing it and it also would be more efficient and less work for me.

Here is my first post from Chiang Mai and the associated journal:

My first full day in Chiang Mai. The house that I had built, for those of you who have seen it, is in pretty good shape. The landscaping has grown in well.

This morning I walked Hayden to school. As befits the dawdling scholar, he took absolutely the longest way possible, stopping to examine every hole in the ground, viewing from both sides each muddy mosquito-infested canal that passed under the road and insisting on discussing the wonders of each thing he investigated.

Joe…

PS: Below are photographs of the grounds of the house and of Hayden and I clowning around. I apologize for the mawkishness of this e-mail. I am composing it at the local coffee shop that I realize may, in part, circumscribe my life here.

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My home in Chiang Mai Thailand.
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Haden and I horsing around.
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FROM MY JOURNAL: January 19, 2010

Walked Hayden to school this morning. He said he knew the way since I did not. It was a boy’s map, full of turns to visit points of interest (friends houses and residences of selected and named canines). We also explored any interesting holes in the ground and had several discussions about my walking stick among other similarly engaging and important topics. We stopped at all of the muddy weed-choked and mosquito-infested canals that crossed beneath the road on which we walked, first to one side and then the other searching for ways to get down to the water (me of course counseling against it).

A car stopped driven by a woman who I believe lives in the house across the road from ours. She offered us a ride and over Hayden’s objection, I accepted.

At Haden’s school, “Sunshine Kindergarten” we were met at the gate by an attractive young Thai woman. And of course, even in my dotage, I preened.

The school contains the main building and several small attractive adobe like outbuildings.

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The entrance to “Sunshine Kindergarten.”

 
After seeing him off, I searched for the cafe in order to have a latte. At first, I went in the wrong direction but retraced my steps and found it. I ordered a cafe latte and an orange juice and played with my computer answering some emails and trying to set up my calendar.

I left the cafe. As I walked towards home I passed a group of buildings that I recalled were either a school or the subdivision office but were now mostly derelict. One building in good repair contained a restaurant. I went in and ordered pad thai and an iced tea. Mediocre. The other customers were Europeans of whom there is a lot living in the subdivision. I left and slowly walked home.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Some Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement (continued) Part IV.

 

 

Part IV

 

ENTROPY, THERMODYNAMICS, AND THE UNIVERSE.

 

There is another puzzle associated with entropy in our universe.

Astronomical observations do not fit well with the Second Law. On cosmological scales, our universe seems to have become more complex with the passage of time, not less complex. The matter in the universe started out in the Big Bang with a very smooth distribution and has become more and more clumpy – more and more complex – with the passage of time. The entropy of the universe seems to have decreased considerably, not increased. Matter is now segregated on a huge range of scales: into rocks, asteroids, planets, stars, galaxies, galactic clusters, galactic superclusters, and so on. Using the same metaphor as in thermodynamics, the distribution of matter in the universe seems to be maturing increasingly ordered. This is puzzling since the Second Law tells us that a thermodynamic system should become increasingly disordered.

The cause of this clumping seems to be well established: it is gravity. A second time-reversibility paradox now rears its head. Einstein’s field equations for gravitational systems are time-reversible. This means that if any solution of Einstein’s field equations is time-reversed, it becomes an equally valid solution. Our own universe, run backward in this manner, becomes a gravitational system that gets less and less clumpy as time passes – so getting less clumpy is just as valid, physically, as getting more clumpy. Our universe, though, does only one of these things: more clumpy.

Paul Davies’s view here is that ‘as with all arrows of time, there is a puzzle about where the asymmetry comes in … The asymmetry must, therefore, be traced to initial conditions’. What he means here is that even with time-reversible laws, you can get different behavior by starting the system in a different way. If you start with an egg and stir it with a fork, then it scrambles. If you start with the scrambled egg and very very carefully give each tiny particle of egg exactly the right push along precisely the opposite trajectory, then it will unscramble. The difference lies entirely in the initial state, not in the laws. Notice that ‘stir with a fork’ is a very general kind of initial condition: lots of different ways to stir will scramble the egg. In contrast, the initial condition for unscrambling an egg is extremely delicate and special.

In a way, this is an attractive option. Our clumping universe is like an unscrambling egg: its increasing complexity is a consequence of very special initial conditions. Most ‘ordinary’ initial conditions would lead to a universe that isn’t clumped – just as any reasonable kind of stirring leads to a scrambled egg. And observations strongly suggest that the universe’s initial conditions at the time of the Big Bang were extremely smooth, whereas any ‘ordinary’ state of a gravitational system presumably should be clumped. So, in agreement with the suggestion just outlined, it seems that the initial conditions of the universe must have been very special – an attractive proposition for those who believe that our universe is highly unusual, and ditto for our place within it.

From the Second Law to God in one easy step. Roger Penrose has even quantified how special this initial state is, by comparing the thermodynamic entropy of the initial state with that of a hypothetical but plausible final state in which the universe has become a system of Black Holes. This final state shows an extreme degree of clumpiness – though not the ultimate degree, which would be a single giant Black Hole.

The result is that the entropy of the initial state is about 10-30 times that of the hypothetical final state, making it extremely special. So special, in fact, that Penrose was led to introduce a new time-asymmetric law that forces the early universe to be exceptionally smooth.

Oh, how our stories mislead us … There is another, much more reasonable, explanation. The key point is simple: gravitation is very different from thermodynamics. In a gas of buzzing molecules, the uniform state – equal density everywhere – is stable. Confine all the gas into one small part of a room, let it go, and within a split second, it’s back to a uniform state. Gravity is exactly the opposite: uniform systems of gravitating bodies are unstable. Differences smaller than any specific level of coarse-graining not only can ‘bubble up’ into macroscopic differences as time passes, but do.

Here lies the big difference between gravity and thermodynamics. The thermodynamic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences dissipate by disappearing below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The gravitic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences amplify by bubbling up from below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The relation of these two scientific domains to coarse-graining is exactly opposite when the same arrow of time is used for both.

We can now give a completely different, and far more reasonable, explanation for the ‘entropy gap’ between the early and late universes, as observed by Penrose and credited by him to astonishingly unlikely initial conditions.

It is actually an artifact of coarse-graining.

Gravitational clumping bubbles up from a level of coarse-graining to which thermodynamic entropy is, by definition, insensitive. Therefore virtually any initial distribution of matter in the universe would lead to clumping. There’s no need for something extraordinarily special.

The physical differences between gravitating systems and thermodynamic ones are straightforward: gravity is a long-range attractive force, whereas elastic collisions are short-range and repulsive. With such different force laws, it is hardly surprising that the behavior should be so different. As an extreme case, imagine systems where ‘gravity’ is so short range that it has no effect unless particles collide, but then they stick together forever. Increasing clumpiness is obvious for such a force law.
The real universe is both gravitational and thermodynamic. In some contexts, the thermodynamic model is more appropriate and thermodynamics provides a good model. In other contexts, a gravitational model is more appropriate. There are yet other contexts: molecular chemistry involves different types of forces again. It is a mistake to shoehorn all natural phenomena into the thermodynamic approximation or the gravitic approximation. It is especially dubious to expect both thermodynamic and gravitic approximations to work in the same context when the way they respond to coarse-graining is diametrically opposite.

See? It’s simple. Not magical at all …

Perhaps it’s a good idea to sum up our thinking here.

The ‘laws’ of thermodynamics, especially the celebrated Second Law, are statistically valid models of nature in a particular set of contexts. They are not universally valid truths about the universe, as the clumping of gravity demonstrates. It even seems plausible that a suitable measure of gravitational complexity, like thermodynamic entropy but different, might one day be defined – call it ‘gravtropy’, say. Then we might be able to deduce, mathematically, a ‘second law of gravitics’, stating that the gravtropy of a gravitic system increases with time. For example, gravtropy might perhaps be the fractal dimension (‘degree of intricacy’) of the system.

Even though coarse-graining works in opposite ways for these two types of systems, both ‘second laws’ – thermodynamic and gravitic – would correspond rather well to our own universe. The reason is that both laws are formulated to correspond to what we actually observe in our own universe. Nevertheless, despite this apparent concurrence, the two laws would apply to drastically different physical systems: one to gases, the other to systems of particles moving under gravity.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Liberals have principles, Conservatives ideology.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

Untitled — Anonymous Australian Aboriginal Poem.
The white man dropped from the sun bright sky,

For he envied the blackfellow’s land,

With greed and revenge in his restless eye,

And disease and death in his hand.

And he grasped the forest, and he seized the strand,

And claimed the blue mountains high;

And he scours the bush with a ruthless band,

’Till its denizens trembling fly —

And his pigs and his cattle pollute the land

’Till it stinks, and the blackfellows die.

Anonymous (source language unnamed), “Untitled,” Bendigo Advertiser (Victoria), September 26, 1855, page 4.

 

 

D. Pookie’s Musings:

 

 
I discovered the following quote on 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.

In the philosophy of science, the distinction of knowledge versus reality is termed epistemic versus ontic. A general law is a regularity of outcomes (epistemic), whereas a causal mechanism may regulate the outcomes (ontic). A phenomenon can receive interpretation either ontic or epistemic. For instance, indeterminism may be attributed to limitations of human observation and perception (epistemic), or may be explained as a real existing maybe encoded in the universe (ontic).

After reading the above, I concluded it has one of two meanings. The first has something to do with universal fecundity. After all, of what use is one’s epistemic without an ontic? On the other hand, perhaps it all has to do with the effect of self-quarantine on my mind. Could it all be attributed to its limitations on my observation and perception — a hallucination perhaps? Or, could it be explained as something real, existing, and perhaps encoded in the universe? Is whether anyone cares an epistemic surmise or an ontic reality?

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

The Mayfly and the Great Trout.

“[A]n old mayfly is telling some youngsters about this god, as they hover just above the surface of a stream:

‘… you were telling us about the Great Trout.’ ‘Ah. Yes. Right. The Trout. Well, you see, if you’ve been a good mayfly, zigzagging up and down properly—’ ‘—taking heed of your elders and betters—’

‘— yes, and taking heed of your elders and betters, then eventually the Great Trout—’ Clop. Clop. ‘Yes?’ said one of the younger mayflies. There was no reply.

‘The Great Trout what?’ said another mayfly, nervously. They looked down at a series of expanding concentric rings on the water. ‘The holy sign!’ said a mayfly. ‘I remember being told about that! A Great Circle in the water! Thus shall be the sign of the Great Trout!’
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

 
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The view from my window at night

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Capt. Coast 0009. (April 28, 2020)

 

“Any system can be corrupted as long as people will pretend it’s not their problem.”
Mayne, Andrew. Dark Pattern (The Naturalist) (p. 78).

 

Happy Birthday — Naida, Nikki, and George.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE GREAT EPIDEMIC OF 2020:

 
The weather was warm and sunny today, the temperature reaching into the 80s. We decided to go out wander along the edge of the nearby American River. Although we were breaking confinement, we were sure we would not violate social distancing guidelines because usually there were not too many people wandering around there. We walked to our favorite spot on the riverbank. Along the way, Naida, as usual, instructed me on the local flora.

We sat on some dry grass and watched people on the opposite bank launch a boat and the birds taking off and landing on the water. Naida recited a part of a love poem that featured rabid cormorants. She also, for some reason, sung an old Sam Cooke tune:

Every day, along about evening
When the sunlight’s beginning to pale
I ride through the slumbering shadows
Along the Navajo Trail

 

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The American River by the Enchanted Forest.

 

Before she became an accomplished novelist, Naida obtained a Ph.D. in sociology. Her 1978 thesis, entitled Leadership, and Gender: A Comparative Analysis of Male and Female Leadership in Business, Politics, and Government, She had previously published a book on the early results of her study, Leadership With A Feminine Cast. She interviewed such people as Ivy Baker Priest US Treasurer in the Eisenhower Administration who famously quipped, “I’m often wrong, but never in Doubt”; Ruth Handler of Mattel fame; Jess Unruh the powerful leader of California’s Assembly and over 70 other well known civic and business leaders.

We spent much of the day reading sections from the thesis. It was fascinating for me to learn that an overwhelming majority of these leaders, most of whom were and still are household names, were the children of immigrants or, in the case of African Americans, had migrated from the South. Another consistent element in almost all of their lives was the presence of a strong mother. One female leader commented:

“My grandmother never wanted to come to the United States. She made my grandfather unhappy some of the time. For instance, she wanted to see the Panama Canal. So she left to see it. She said. “If all these kids can’t take care of him, something is wrong (fourteen children) My grandmother went off to more places than you can imagine in those days when traveling was difficult.”

 

What seemed to differ in the lives of the women leaders from the men, other than the resistance of the latter to the aspirations of the former, was that women generally worked harder to get where they were. As for management and leadership skills, the men mostly learned and honed their skills in the military and tended to manage their institutions in a hierarchical top-down manner. The women, on the other hand, generally tried to encourage a feeling of family in their organizations with her as the matriarch. In fact, the woman leaders overwhelmingly reveled in being considered different in how they dressed, behaved, and led. (Note — because women leaders overwhelmingly were the children of immigrants Naida specifically choose male children of immigrant parents to balance it out. She said, in either case, women or children of immigrants [including people of color] had a more difficult time of it than white males [and they were aware of it])

Days have rolled on by with little to comment on other than that the days of our confinement have increased. We have begun losing track of the days of the week, We have been in self-quarantine for about 50 days now — almost 15% of the year.

Interesting — the retirement village not too far from the Enchanted Forest that has been actively promoting us to choose them when we inevitably divide it is time to ender an assisted living facility, called today and offered us a free dinner from the local restaurant of our choice delivered to our home this evening. We chose Zinfandel a somewhat expensive Italian-American restaurant that we enjoy eating at.

I drove up into the Golden Hills to see Hayden. I arrived just as he returned with SWAC from buying flowers for planting around the house. I put on my mask and rubber gloves and keeping my social distance when with him as he showed me what they had been planting these past few days. In the side yard, they had planted about eight trees — a Japanese Maple, an orange tree, a lemon tree, apricot and peach trees, pomegranate, and some Thai fruit trees. I do not know how well some of these trees will do in that environment.

The front yard, actually a slope from the garage up to the road, has been planted with many flowers and an olive tree. On a bare area between two massive redwood trees next to the driveway had been used for burying pets — Pepe and Pesca the two Bichons, a crayfish, a couple of lizards, a tiny snake and a large goldfish named Sharky. A few clumps of flowers have now been planted on that hallowed ground.

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I then returned home. Shortly after my arrival, our free dinner that I had been eagerly anticipating arrived. It was a hamburger for me and chicken tacos for Naida. I was disappointed and pissed. What’s worse, the meat looked and tasted like it came in a can.

This afternoon we took Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk through the Enchanted Forest. It was sunny and warm, in the upper 70s. We tried to find paths we had never walked before and we did. At one point we found ourselves by the lake and sat there awhile enjoying the view.
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Land Park is a large park in Sacramento. The Sacramento Zoo is located there. According to Naida, the developer of the area created it as an amenity for his development. He went on to be elected mayor of the city. We decided to visit it today, taking all the care necessary to avoid breaching social-distancing guidelines. Equipped with masks and rubber gloves we walked around a lake and through the rock garden.

The story about the rock garden: In the late 1930s a woman began planting the garden in the public park. The city did nothing to stop her. They even gave her an award. After she died, the garden she worked so hard on was taken over by the city. I do not know if any of this is true, but history is story and if the story is good enough then it is good enough. As Pratchett writes, “We make up our world according to the stories that we tell ourselves, and each other, about it.” (Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.)

For the next few days, the weather hovered in the mid-80s. Sunny with a slight breeze. I placed a folding camp chair in a spot of shade in the back yard and spent much of the afternoon dozing with the dog lying at my feet and now and then typing things like I am doing now. I wonder why lazing away outdoors in sunny weather is so pleasant and not boring at all, while sitting indoors often feels tedious and uncomfortable. Perhaps Peter knows. He understands things like this. I consider him a master keeper of obscure and unconventional notions.

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I think I will go up to bed. Napping also is neither boring nor unpleasant.

That night after I got up, we watched The Sunshine Boys for perhaps the fifth or sixth time in the last month. I did not want to. I thought of going back to bed. I couldn’t. I love that movie. One could say I liked it because of the timing between the actors, the directing, Neil Simon’s script, seeing Gorge Burn’s again on the screen, or Matthau tearing up the scenery. No, I liked it because it was about old guys. Also, because once, at a Coastal Commission meeting, I was mistaken by the press for Walter Matthau. I would have preferred being mistaken for Rock Hudson.

Last night, I had a dream. No not a dream about freedom from four centuries of oppression. Instead, I was riding a bus. I do not know where that bus was or where it was going, but something about it made me think it was somewhere in San Francisco. I was sitting as usual in one of the reserved for seniors and handicapped seats that are generally filled by 20 somethings or the mentally ill. Anyway, the bus was full of men — stuffed full. They started hassling and ultimately punching me. Eventually, I fought back, swinging my cane and discovered they were all ghosts because when struck they each disappeared in a puff of smoke — except for four big heavyset men. They were real and, hopeless as it may have seemed, I waded in, punching them with all my might only to wake up and discover I was punching Naida. Having experienced this before, she knew enough to avoid my punches and calm me down until I fell back to sleep.

The next morning I felt physically, mentally and emotionally like dog shit so after breakfast and a bit of news about our Commander in Chief recommending we shoot up with Clorox to cure us of the plague and stop us from criticizing him, I drove into the Golden Hills to visit HRM in hope that it would cheer me up. Donning my mask and gloves, I met him and Jake in front of the house and accompanied them on a walk through their most recent plantings at the back. Haden now has a bedroom on the bottom floor with a large deck extending into the backyard. He has festooned his deck with flowering plants everywhere, hanging from the rafters, on the floor, and in the backyard. He has included a large wisteria bush that he plans to train to extend onto the deck.

The next day or perhaps the day after, we packed some soft drinks, a box of Fig Newtons, some coffee and Boo-boo the Barking Dog into the car, and set off for a ghost town on the banks of the Mokelumne River Naida had visited a few years ago. We drove through the Gold Country on Route 49, until we came to the turnoff to the town. Alas, the road was closed. “Let’s walk” I suggested. “How far can it be?”

So we parked the car and set off. The walk started out delightfully. The route ran along the banks of the river that snaked through the foothills of the Sierra’s. California Poppies, Lupine, and many other spring wildflowers covered the hills. A blue oak and Digger pine forest grew along the banks of the river.

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IMG_8195      IMG_8205

 

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The Mokelumne River through arches of blue oak.

 

 

The town we were heading to was originally built to house the workers building a hydroelectric project on the river. Now and then small groups of hikers passed us along the road some of them looked like they had been bathing in the river. As the walk lengthened, I began to grow tired. I asked a group of young men coming down the path how far it was. “Not far,” they responded. Of course, “Not far,” for some 20-year-olds and “Not far,” for an eighty-year-old are two entirely different concepts.
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My plan was to walk as far as I could. Not too far (80-year-old far) from where we passed the young men, I had reached my limit and sat, exhausted, in some shade at the side of the road. I realized my plan to only walk as far as I could was flawed. I still had to walk back.

Naida, being healthier and more athletic than I, felt no such fatigue. Nonetheless, She agreed we should head back. And so we did. I walked from shadow to shadow and collapsed at just about everyone we came to. At one point I considered keeling over and forcing Naida to call for an ambulance.
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Naida discovered an unusual poppy along the way.

 

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She also found some bush lupine growing by the road.

 

 

Once we left the path to walk a few steps to the river so the dog could get a drink. (Did I fail to mention that despite bringing copious amounts of water and juice and Fig Newtons along, we left them all back in the car) While the dog was drinking his fill, a big black snake with golden stripes slithered out from under some detritus just after they passed. I thought it might be the California version of the east-coast deadly coral snake except 10 times larger. Not being much of a woodsman, I did the only thing I could think of. I screamed. “What’s the matter?” Naida responded. “A big snake,” said I. “What color?” she inquired. The snake had disappeared into the grass by now. “Yellow with black stripes,” I said. “Oh, no problem, they eat baby rattlesnakes” she explained. Not knowing if that made me feel any better, we slowly and for me agonizingly made our way back to the car without further mishap except for me almost stepping on an evil-looking thing that Naida said was an alligator lizard that she said grew much larger than the specimen I almost stepped on.
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Just after taking this photo, the snake appeared from beneath some fallen piece of bark at the foot of the tree.

 

 

(In case you wonder about my relationship with the natural environment, I am a city boy. As Neuwirth said, “We get nose bleeds if our feet are not touching cement.” We may love the wonders of nature but still prefer to sleep in our beds at night. We like the wonder better than the feeling of nature on our skin. That is why for some of us, our knowledge may be deficient but the wonder never dies. Sort of like, believing in God is a lot more pleasant than actually meeting the bearded old bastard.)

Back at the car, we drank copious amounts of water. Naida drove us back while I dozed and recovered. Back home we discovered the Fig Newtons were missing. We had not eaten any. We suspected the culprit was Boo-boo the Barking Dog, but we could find no evidence. (He is a very sloppy eater.) Perhaps if was the alligator lizard.

The next day, fully recovered from my adventure, I set off for SF for some CT scans. Traffic was so light, I was able to get back by early afternoon in time for lunch. After lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting and dozing on a chair in the back yard. I one point, Naida woke me from my reverie to inform me that she had just discovered a nest of black widow spiders in a cranny in the wall near where I had been resting.

That evening we watched every episode of Ricky Gervais’ network series After Life. It was great. One of the best things I have seen in a long long while. It was about a man with deep unrelieved depression and a group of extremely odd but often engaging characters with which he was involved. It resonated with me. It seemed to say a life of pathological depression is livable and amusing. See it you’ll like it.

Finally, this morning I awoke, the room was dark, Naida’s body was pressed against my back. “It must be early,” I thought. Boo-boo the Barking Dog had not yet barked his wake up bark. I turned over to give Naida a hug and as I did so I heard a low growl. It was the dog in my arms. I looked up at the clock it was almost noon and the shutters on the window were still closed.

Later the doctor called about the results of the CT scan he said the cancer in my neck has not grown but a nodule in my chest had thickened and he will be speaking with the surgeon about removing it.
That was how my day began today. I wonder how the rest of it will play out…

And, that was my past week or two of self-confinement. How was yours?

Take care.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Some Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement (continued).

 

 

Part III

INFORMATION, ENTROPY, AND THERMODYNAMICS
A central concept in Shannon’s information theory is something that he called entropy, which in this context is a measure of how statistical patterns in a source of messages affect the amount of information that the messages can convey. If certain patterns of bits are more likely than others, then their presence conveys less information, because the uncertainty is reduced by a smaller amount. In English, for example, the letter ‘E’ is much more common than the letter ‘Q’. So receiving an ‘E’ tells you less than receiving a ‘Q’. Given a choice between ‘E’ and ‘Q’, your best bet is that you’re going to receive an ‘E’. And you learn the most when your expectations are proved wrong. Shannon’s entropy smooths out these statistical biases and provides a ‘fair’ measure of information content.

In retrospect, it was a pity that he used the name ‘entropy’, because there is a longstanding concept in physics with the same name, normally interpreted as ‘disorder’. Its opposite, ‘order’, is usually identified with complexity.

The context here is the branch of physics known as thermodynamics, which is a specific simplified model of a gas. In thermodynamics, the molecules of a gas are modelled as ‘hard spheres’, tiny billiard balls. Occasionally balls collide, and when they do, they bounce off each other as if they are perfectly elastic. The Laws of Thermodynamics state that a large collection of such spheres will obey certain statistical regularities. In such a system, there are two forms of energy: mechanical energy and heat energy. The First Law states that the total energy of the system never changes. Heat energy can be transformed into mechanical energy, as it is in, say, a steam engine; conversely, mechanical energy can be transformed into heat. But the sum of the two is always the same. The Second Law states, in more precise terms (which we explain in a moment), that heat cannot be transferred from a cool body to a hotter one. And the Third Law states that there is a specific temperature below which the gas cannot go — ‘absolute zero’, which is around-273 degrees Celsius.

The most difficult — and the most interesting — of these laws is the Second. In more detail, it involves a quantity that is again called ‘entropy’, which is usually interpreted as ‘disorder’. If the gas in a room is concentrated in one corner, for instance, this is a more ordered (that is, less disordered!) state than one in which it is distributed uniformly throughout the room. So when the gas is uniformly distributed, its entropy is higher than when it is all in one corner. One formulation of the Second Law is that the amount of entropy in the universe always increases as time passes. Another way to say this is that the universe always becomes less ordered, or equivalently less complex, as time passes. According to this interpretation, the highly complex world of living creatures will inevitably become less complex, until the universe eventually runs out of steam and turns into a thin, lukewarm soup.

This property gives rise to one explanation for the ‘arrow of time’, the curious fact that it is easy to scramble an egg but impossible to unscramble one. Time flows in the direction of increasing entropy. So scrambling an egg makes the egg more disordered — that is, increases its entropy — which is in accordance with the Second Law. Unscrambling the egg makes it less disordered, and decreases energy, which conflicts with the Second Law. An egg is not a gas, mind you, but thermodynamics can be extended to solids and liquids, too.

At this point we encounter one of the big paradoxes of physics, a source of considerable confusion for a century or so. A different set of physical laws, Newton’s laws of motion, predicts that scrambling an egg and unscrambling it are equally plausible physical events. More precisely, if any dynamic behaviour that is consistent with Newton’s laws is run backwards in time, then the result is also consistent with Newton’s laws. In short, Newton’s laws are ‘time-reversible’.

However, a thermodynamic gas is really just a mechanical system built from lots of tiny spheres. In this model, heat energy is just a special type of mechanical energy, in which the spheres vibrate but do not move en masse. So we can compare Newton’s laws with the laws of thermodynamics. The First Law of Thermodynamics is simply a restatement of energy conservation in Newtonian mechanics, so the First Law does not contradict Newton’s laws. Neither does the Third Law: absolute zero is just the temperature at which the spheres cease vibrating. The amount of vibration can never be less than zero.

Unfortunately, the Second Law of Thermodynamics behaves very differently. It contradicts Newton’s laws. Specifically, it contradicts the property of time-reversibility. Our universe has a definite direction for its ‘arrow of time’, but a universe obeying Newton’s laws has two distinct arrows of time, one the opposite of the other. In our universe, scrambling eggs is easy and unscrambling them seems impossible.

Therefore, according to Newton’s laws, in a time-reversal of our universe, unscrambling eggs is easy but scrambling them is impossible. But Newton’s laws are the same in both universes, so they cannot prescribe a definite arrow of time.

Many suggestions have been made to resolve this discrepancy. The best mathematical one is that thermodynamics is an approximation, involving a ‘coarse-graining’ of the universe in which details on very fine scales are smeared out and ignored. In effect, the universe is divided into tiny boxes, each containing (say) several thousand gas molecules. The detailed motion inside such a box is ignored, and only the average state of its molecules is considered. It’s a bit like a picture on a computer screen. If you look at it from a distance, you can see cows and trees and all kinds of structure. But if you look sufficiently closely at a tree, all you see is one uniformly green square, or pixel. A real tree would still have detailed structure at this scale — leaves and twigs, say — but in the picture all this detail is smeared out into the same shade of green.

In this approximation, once ‘order’ has disappeared below the level of the coarse-graining, it can never come back. Once a pixel has been smeared, you can’t unsmear it. In the real universe, though, it sometimes can, because in the real universe the detailed motion inside the boxes is still going on, and a smeared-out average ignores that detail. So the model and the reality are different. Moreover, this modelling assumption treats forward and backward time asymmetrically. In forward time, once a molecule goes into a box, it can’t escape. In contrast, in a time-reversal of this model it can escape from a box but it can never get in if it wasn’t already inside that box to begin with.

This explanation makes it clear that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a genuine property of the universe, but merely a property of an approximate mathematical description. Whether the approximation is helpful or not thus depends on the context in which it is invoked, not on the content of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. And the approximation involved destroys any relation with Newton’s laws, which are inextricably linked to that fine detail.

Now, as we said, Shannon used the same word ‘entropy’ for his measure of the structure introduced by statistical patterns in an information source. He did so because the mathematical formula for Shannon’s entropy looks exactly the same as the formula for the thermodynamic concept. Except for a minus sign. So thermodynamic entropy looks like negative Shannon entropy: that is, thermodynamic entropy can be interpreted as ‘missing information’. Many papers and books have been written exploiting this relationship — attributing the arrow of time to a gradual loss of information from the universe, for instance. After all, when you replace all that fine detail inside a box by a smeared-out average, you lose information about the fine detail. And once it’s lost, you can’t get it back. Bingo: time flows in the direction of information-loss.

However, the proposed relationship here is bogus. Yes, the formulas look the same … but they apply in very different, unrelated, contexts. In Einstein’s famous formula relating mass and energy, the symbol c represents the speed of light. In Pythagoras’s Theorem, the same letter represents one side of a right triangle. The letters are the same, but nobody expects to get sensible conclusions by identifying one side of a right triangle with the speed of light. The alleged relationship between thermodynamic entropy and negative information isn’t quite that silly, of course. Not quite.

As we’ve said, science is not a fixed body of ‘facts’, and there are disagreements. The relation between Shannon’s entropy and thermodynamic entropy is one of them. Whether it is meaningful to view thermodynamic entropy as negative information has been a controversial issue for many years. The scientific disagreements rumble on, even today, and published, peer-reviewed papers by competent scientists flatly contradict each other.

What seems to have happened here is a confusion between a formal mathematical setting in which ‘laws’ of information and entropy can be stated, a series of physical intuitions about heuristic interpretations of those concepts, and a failure to understand the role of context. Much is made of the resemblance between the formulas for entropy in information theory and thermodynamics, but little attention is paid to the context in which those formulas apply. This habit has led to some very sloppy thinking about some important issues in physics.

One important difference is that in thermodynamics, entropy is a quantity associated with a state of the gas, whereas in information theory it is defined for an information source: a system that generates entire collections of states (‘messages’). Roughly speaking, a source is a phase space for successive bits of a message, and a message is a trajectory, a path, in that phase space. In contrast, a thermodynamic configuration of molecules is a point in phase space. A specific configuration of gas molecules has a thermodynamic entropy, but a specific message does not have a Shannon entropy. This fact alone should serve as a warning. And even in information theory, the information ‘in’ a message is not negative information-theoretic entropy. Indeed the entropy of the source remains unchanged, no matter how many messages it generates.

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

 
The internet provides the opportunity to create a world-wide society or culture with its own stories, customs, and biases. The question is whether or not it will be any better than what we have now.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

Along the Navaho Trail
Every day, along about evening
When the sunlight’s beginning to pale
I ride through the slumbering shadows
Along the Navajo Trail

When it’s night and crickets are callin’
And coyotes are makin’ a wail
I dream by a smoldering fire
Along the Navajo Trail

I love to lie and listen to the music
When the wind is strummin’ a sagebrush guitar
When over yonder hill the moon is climbin’
It always finds me wishin’ on a star

Well what a ya know, it’s mornin’ already
There’s the dawnin’, so silver and pale
It’s time to climb into my saddle
And ride the Navajo Trail

I love to lie and listen to the music
When the wind is strummin’ a sagebrush guitar
When…
Sam Cooke

 

D. Pookie’s Musings: Something somewhat more that risqué but a smidgen less than pornographic.

 

 

While reading The Science of Discworld II with which you should all know by now I am somewhat obsessed, I came across the following sentence by the author in the midst of his attempt to explain quantum theory or evolution or something like that:

“The Hedgehog Song, a Discworld ditty in the general tradition of Eskimo Nell, first made its appearance in Wyrd Sisters with its haunting refrain ‘The hedgehog can never be buggered at all’.”

The reference to The Hedgehog Song apparently referred to the author’s contention that:

“Stories have power because we have minds, and we have minds because stories have power.”

 

Which makes sense in a quantum world.

Having been intrigued by the reference to “the general tradition of Eskimo Nell” and its possible importance to a possible unified theory of everything, I looked up Eskimo Nell in Wikipedia. There I found a poem, The Ballad of Eskimo Nell, the last stanza of which, if not a unified theory, nevertheless expressed the almost universal status of males of my age. I guess that is a unified theory of sorts

When a man grows old, and his balls grow cold,
And the tip of his prick turns blue,
And the hole in the middle refuses to piddle,
I’d say he was fucked, wouldn’t you?
The Ballad of Eskimo Nell

 

What was even more amazing to me was that two movies have been made about that apparently fascinating young woman.

 

 

 

E. Giants of History: Peter on the benefits of Sloth during times of crisis.

 

 

To my paragraph ending with, “I feel like what those old mountain men must have felt like while being trapped all winter in a snow-covered cabin in the wilderness” Peter responded with:

I remember, many years ago when we were living in Boston, a friend moved up to northern Vermont to live. Never mind why. Anyway, we met a couple of his new friends; I recall one was living solitarily. He was very talkative; I imagined that living alone in semi-wilderness might engender an inclination to volubility when one infrequently is in contact with other humans.

As for me, the daily routine of arising, ablutions, dressing, breakfast — first big decision of the day: eat minimally or have more — reading the newspaper and e-news, and — ta-da! morning is half or mostly gone already. Barrie back from walking Ramsey, lately at MacClaren Park – mostly empty and beautiful. Today, though, I went out to pick up one of my various prescriptions at Walgreens. Wore a mask during the pick-up. Staff was fully garbed and covered. Stood the requisite six feet behind the person in front of me in line. Another periodic routine.

A vague memory of early 1972, playing tennis and sightseeing and learning the city and hanging out stoned after having moved to SF. Different times.

 

I wrote about breaking quarantine and gamboling in the Oak woodlands with Naida. That take ended with, “Following our visit we drove back into the Enchanted Forest.” Peter responded:

 

 

We, on the other hand, have transformed sloth into fine art. However, still, several big steps removed from solitary crypto-holiness meditation with endless recitations of the Diamond Sutra and slurping gruel. Although, this week, in a sudden paroxysm of activity, Barrie decided to clean up her office. She is now about 90% done; prodigious effort, but apparently very satisfying. My “office”, however, needs no such treatment. Anyway, it would interfere with my reading of the portion of Robert Caro’s tome about Lyndon Johnson about his election to the Senate in 1948. Talk about Texas!

Meanwhile, I got notified that our next periodic teleconference of the CMIB board (the CA Maritime Infrastructure Bank, of which I am a member — still!) is canceled for lack of a quorum, due to the virus disruptions. We’ll wait a couple of months +/-. Put the file back in the drawer…..

 
After describing another escapade of flight from incarceration I wrote, “We returned refreshed if a bit concerned that we may have snared a coronavirus or two along the way.” Peter wrote:

We get to walk around the block; practically no one out except a dog walker or two, or some Latina pushing a baby carriage with some gringa’s kids inside.

Although, the New Neighborhood Thing!: two houses down live a couple who moved in a few years ago, relatively recently. Affluent. He’s on the phone all day. Turns out she owns a winery business. With this house arrest fiddle, she has now set up a children’s lemonade stand in front of their house, except it’s her wine selling table. $20/bottle, red, white, rose. Fairly decent stuff, in fact. 3-6pm daily, more on weekends. I’ve purchased a couple of bottles, and hung out and gossiped with her. Quite pleasant, and my kind of practically effortless productive activity. Proper distance, masks, wash hands, all medically kosher. The Ernest Winery. right here on 25th St. Careful not to make it a habit.

 

Having a had jaunty run through some amusing and risqué aphorisms of the ancient Sumerians that ended, “That is civilized. And, the abominations of Utu to you to too,” Peter added:

Interestingly, you refer to the Sumerians. I was recently looking at various maps, which I enjoy, these were of ancient civilizations, in particular those of the Levant and the Middle East, including, of course, the Sumerians! There were entries about the “collapse of civilizations” around 5,000-3000 years ago. Perhaps you picked up on the very recent article in the Atlantic about the United States as a failed state. The author nailed it perfectly. It’s really horrifying, infuriating, and frightening. I can imagine what the Europeans are thinking and saying. The outlook for our children and grandchildren is grim. I don’t like to think about it.

 
At one point during my description of our trip to the Sandhill Crane refuge, I commented, “We saw huge flocks of geese and other birds feeding in the wetland.” Peter interjected:

 

Sounds delightful, all this outdoorsy touring. It’s too built up where we are, even with very little traffic, but parking lots are all closed, and anyway, we are too slothful.

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Peter

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

1. The importance of “our group”. When times are hard, our group is primary. When times are disastrous, group loyalty disintegrates. When famine strikes, one will even eat one’s children. Nothing has changed. Perhaps, someday, they will really engineer human genetic make-up. Then the degrees of villainy will Really shine.
Peter Grenell

 

 

2. Hollywood is a potential gold mine for anthropologists because it’s the only culture in the world where educated and rich and powerful people have the mind-set and manners of Southern white trash.
Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 95). Simon & Schuster.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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BOO-BOO the BARKING DOG and POOKIE spend a pleasant Sunday morning in bed.

Categories: April through June 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    1 Joey 0009. (March 26, 2020)

 

“Progress just means bad things happen faster.”
Abercrombie, Joe. A Little Hatred: 1 (The Age of Madness) (p. 152). Orbit.

 

I hope you all remain properly socially distant while enjoying, Palm Sunday, Passover, April Fool’s Day, Good Friday and Easter and those who don’t (except for medical personnel, pharmacists, farmers, grocers and the like) may you be forced to spend the next six months locked on the oval office with He Who Is Non Our President.

 

 

 
,

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING SOCIAL DISTANCING:

 
We have hunkered down at home in the Enchanted Forest to wait out the coronavirus emergency. This is not as difficult for us as for some since our lives have become quite sedentary as of late. Given the number of times we have received the same information about the epidemic on the media, we are almost saturated enough to return to watching TCM and old movies.

The mismanagement of the crisis by the federal government, unfortunately, probably will result in more deaths than would have occurred with even a little bit of competence. I suspect these deaths will pale in comparison to those that will happen as a result of the economic impacts from the mishandling of this crisis.

In the evening, at about dusk, we took the dog for a walk. We figured it was OK to leave the house since the only thing we would be touching would be dog poo and even then our hands would be protected by some plastic.

Recently, I have taken to replacing the forlorn turkey feathers that I find around the paths in the Enchanted Forest and place in the bands of my hats with fallen seasonal flowers that I locate the same way — currently camellias. At eighty years of age who cares how silly you look. It’s the pleasure that counts.
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Camellia Joe.

 
Speaking of fallen Camellias, Naida has taken to plucking up those in the yard that fall from the bushes and creating a centerpiece for our table.
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A Bowl of Camellias.

 

IMG_7884 - Version 2A Smiling Lady of the Camellias. 

 

As long as we are on the subject of Camellias or at least of flowers fallen or not, here is a photograph of Naida taken at a restaurant a few days ago before we decided on seclusion from the depredations of the coronavirus. She is in the midst of telling me one of her fascinating stories or pointing at some interesting birds or something else.
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Not a Camellia.

 
We briefly went out to shop for provisions to sustain us during our self-quarantine. When we arrived at the Safeway nearby, it seemed like everyone else had the same idea. While most things appeared well-stocked, toilet paper and hand wipes were all gone. While I understand the run on hand wipes, I fail to comprehend the toilet paper mania. After all, how many times does one shit during a 14 day period? Two or three rolls per person seem more than adequate to me. If someone needs much more than that, I think they should have seen a doctor long before now.

Of course, my hypochondria is in high gear. Every fifteen minutes or so, I become convinced I have caught the disease and am sure I am about to die. I must be driving Naida mad.

While sitting around in my recliner watching CNN ramble on endlessly about coronavirus, I played on the computer and looked up Pookie. I discovered there was someone in San Angelo Texas named Pookie who forced a woman into prostitution for drugs. I bet he doesn’t wear hats festooned with flowers. On second thought maybe he does.

Another day of self-quarantine. It is raining and dreary outside. Same same.

One day I spoke to Nikki by phone. He is quarantined on the top floor of an apartment building in Busto a small town near Malpensa airport a few miles from Milan. He is alone and spends most of his day doing what we all are doing, watching television finding busy work, talking on phones, and taking long naps. Sometimes, he goes out onto his balcony and sings along with others imprisoned in high-rises nearby. At other times he goes out on to the balcony and dances.

Nikki is a senior pilot for Al Italia. He is on call to fly his plane to pick up some of the 10,000 Italians stranded in foreign countries. He is scheduled to fly to South Africa to pick up some of them this week.

While I am bored and a little concerned during my isolation, I do have Naida with me and of course, the dog who barks a bit less now that fewer people and vehicles pass by the house. I also try to ruminate on the good things this junior plague may bring. We are forced to briefly halt whatever things we believed we had to do and now have time to consider its value to us. Everyone has the opportunity to do this at the same time. Almost the entirety of the people of the world is being forced to stop and take stock of what is really important in our lives. That could be a good thing.

For a brief moment in, we are also forced to halt our collective assault on our environment, giving that environment a brief respite from our onslaught upon it.

The saddest thing for me is my awareness that many of those who were led to believe it was all a hoax, just another common cold, still believe it.

Yesterday was my onomastica, my name day. I did not celebrate it. I would celebrate it if I could find somewhere that makes fresh Zeppole. Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day. We probably will not celebrate that either.

It is now 4:30 PM. I awoke at 11AM this morning and spent most of the day writing the above 10 or so lines. So it goes in these our days of confinement. I think it is about that time for Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog, and I to break away from our computers and sing and dance for a while.

Saint Patrick’s Day, we went for a walk along the river. On the way, we passed the dog park. It was empty. People seemed to be walking their dogs along the levee and keeping their distance. I have begun coughing. I do not know whether I am simply clearing my throat or if it is an artifact of my hypochondria or something else. The Hospital called and put off my immunotherapy appointment for three weeks.

Have you noticed, that recently the world seems full of omens? The good thing is you get to choose those you like.

You know we shouldn’t be so hard on the Donald for his constant lying. It may just be that he thinks the truth is so precious that it shouldn’t be waved around too much.

It is now a week or more into the local version of social distancing huddled in our houses while the coronavirus prowls outside. In addition, to boredom, it also gives one time to think and reflect — two very dangerous activities especially when one is 80 years old.

Try as we like, during our lives we still will have words we think we should have spoken left over in the end.

Everyone is good at something. Sometimes, alas, you don’t find out until too late. And, unfortunately, even if you do find out in time, it may very well be of no use or value to anyone even yourself. For example, you may be good at picking your nose and that may very well please you immensely, but it is hard to imagine that talent has any benefit to anyone. I do not know what I am good at, but there are times when picking my nose pleases me a lot. And while I take pains to hide my ability from view, I still take a bit of pride in it.

Speaking of ability, it has been said, or I have read it somewhere that most sane, rational human beings learn quite early on that you feel just as certain even when you’re wrong. For this reason, the strength of your belief is usually not a valid measure of its relation to reality. I believe a lot of things. For example, I often believe that whenever I get a sniffle or a slight headache, it means I will surely die before morning. Well, it hasn’t happened yet. But I haven’t given up hope. I also believe I am as knowledgeable and smart as the next guy or gal. I never really found that to be the case, but I still believe that to be true despite the amount of evidence to the contrary.

It is now Friday at about 1 PM. We are sitting here watching Belmondo in Breathless on TCM. Boo-boo the Barking Dog lies half asleep on the chair. I read an email from Peter. He writes, “Vaccine is 18 months off; meanwhile should be interesting. Universal voting by mail? The Hyatt Regency Hospital? Or is it the Homeless Repository? Will Batman close the Bat Cave and move to the Hyatt Regency Homeless Repository?”

To which I responded, “Speaking of Superman, do you have any idea where he changes into his tights now that there are no more phone booths.”

Peter replied, “Now, about Superman, that’s a great question! more great possibilities: A knock on the door, you open it in the Enchanted Forest, and there stands this mild-mannered, bespectacled, besuited fellow, who asks politely: “Excuse me, but may I enter so I can change clothes? There are a bank robbery and kidnapping happening down the street I need to attend to.” Alternatively, he could use the old red phone booth our sister-in-law (Barrie’s brother’s wife) Migiwa used in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in front of the Tasty Freeze that was one of her artistic creations. Of course, he’d have to transport this to Gotham City or wherever. I haven’t been present where he actually does his changes, so I have no idea.”

So that’s what Peter and I do during this era of social distancing. What do you do?

This evening Naida played the piano and I danced. She played a hot rendition of Malagueña. I strutted around the room clicking my heels on the new wood floors.

For the past two days, I have spent most of my time in bed overcome with fatigue. I do not know what caused it, the only other symptom was a thickening of mucus. Of course, I thought I was sure to die in a day or two. I didn’t. Today, however, I am up and about. Up and about for me means sitting in front of the television and watching the news about the pandemic.

It has been two weeks now of our confinement. Like others throughout the world, we are getting a bit of a taste of what imprisonment is all about. At least many of those actually in prison know when it is they will get out. Everyone, I guess, has their own way of coping. For me right now it is staring out into the back yard at one of our trees that has just begun to bloom.
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OMG! —— I never thought I would see myself use that acronym but I cannot conceive of a worse disaster during this time of plague. Our television has broken down. True we have another set but we cannot get it to work. We have tried and failed to find a repairman. Anyway, who would want to allow a potential carrier of the plague into the house? What to do? What to do? We need help quickly before we fall into entertaining ourselves, or God forgive, reading. When, if the future, they write the history of this time of the plague I am sure they will have a chapter on the horror experienced by those poor souls forced to rely on their own imagination. The horror.

I finally hooked up the other TV, but for some reason we only get TCM. It could be worse. We could have been stuck with Fox News or the Weather Channel.

It is a day or two later and we fixed the TV. That is not much of an improvement since all that is on is stories about Coronavirus and He Who Is Not My President talking about it or old black and white movies and Technicolor musicals. It could be worse. Someday in the future, if there is a future, children will ask their parents what they did during the great plague.

Of course, everything we talk about or write about is not really real. It is just energy screwing around doing its thing here in this infinitesimally small and remote portion of the Universe. What we write or tell each other about it is a narrative imperative — a story or Naritivium as Terry Pratchett calls it. We make it up and tell each other about it and feel good or bad about it as the Naritivium dictates. Naritivium essentially replaces magic in a universe without it.

“The curious thing about the human belief in narrativium is that once humans evolved on the planet, their beliefs started to be true. We have, in a way, created our own narrativium. It exists in our minds, and there it is a process, not a thing. On the level of the material universe, it’s just one more pattern of buzzing electrons. But on the level of what it feels like to be a mind, it operates just like narrativium. Not only that: it operates on the material world, not just the mental one: its effects are just like those of narrativium.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

In other words, in my case, and I suspect also with most of you out there, we just make shit up.

 

 

B. NAIDA, POOKIE, AND BOO-BOO THE BARKING DOG BREAK OUT OF CONFINEMENT.

 
One day while I was complaining about creeping cabin fever Naida, for no reason that I can identify, suddenly said, “We need to get a new key for the Mitsubishi.” We had either lost or misplaced the keys several weeks before. I had decided not to get them replaced until the current emergency ends. Despite this, and again for no reason, I immediately called the key-smith thinking he would tell me they were closed until the crisis ends. To my surprise, he said instead, “Someone will be right over. He’ll meet you at the car.” So we gathered up the dog and walked to where the car was parked and waited. The key-smith arrived. We had no way of knowing how many coronavirus carriers he had come into contact with. We passed over our information standing closer to each other than six feet. He then crawled all over the car setting about doing whatever key-smiths do leaving behind, I am sure, whatever bugs he was carrying around.

While watching him work another car pulled up. It was the dog walker and her daughter. They exited the car, came over to us, and stood well within the six-foot barrier. She was carrying two packages of Thomas’ English Muffins which she thrust into our hands saying, “I knew you were running out. I found a store that still has a few packages and bought them for you.” Out of a misplaced sense of politeness or gratitude, we could not refuse the offer even if it might be another potential plague vector. So, I held the tip of the plastic bag they come in between my fingers and thanked them for their consideration. They then returned to their car and left.

The key-smith handed me the new keys. I passed over my credit card and took it back. He drove off and we deciding, “In for a dime in for a dollar” got in the now, I was sure, thoroughly contaminated vehicle and drove around Sacramento for about an hour.

We returned home, put the keys in a drawer, placed the muffins on a shelf, and washed our hands. I then sat in my recliner and pondered mortality. After two weeks of stringent social distancing, I am now convinced that death is crawling through the Enchanted Forest headed to our door.

 

 

C. RETURN TO CONFINEMENT.

 
So following that adventure into stupidity, we returned to enjoy the pleasures of social distancing. Naida discovered a container of three-year-old Lysol wipes that were dried up. In the hope of rejuvenating them, she pored Clorox into the container and set about wiping down whatever she could find. I went back to watching CNN drone on about coronavirus. They broke off their symphony of woe to tune into He Who Is Not My President’s daily publicity sessions at which he bloviated on about how he was going to make our impending deaths especially meaningless.

At about six PM today Naida discovered the missing key. The one we felt so important that we broke containment to replace and risked death by the Trump virus. I assume either “It’s always something,” or “Tomorrow is another day” is appropriate here.

And with that, I think I have gone on enough in this post. So I think I will end it here.

Take care of yourselves. Don’t lose your car keys. Stay socially distant. Don’t take anything too seriously. And above all:

th

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Humanity/life = >7.65 MeV and/or 30 fundamental constants (+ or – )? I do not know what this means but some scientists believe it represents the basis of the existence of the biosphere and, in the case of the fundamental constants, existence itself, here there or perhaps anywhere. Other scientists, not so much. What do you think?

“An atheist is not someone who believes that God doesn’t exist. It is someone who doesn’t believe that God does exist. If you think those are the same, ponder this statement by the comedian Penn Jillette: ‘Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.’
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 324). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
“The writer and comedian Ricky Gervais made a similar point more pithily in 2010:
‘The dictionary definition of God is ‘a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe’. Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3,700 supernatural beings, of which 2,870 can be considered deities. So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say ‘Oh, which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra…?’ If they say, ‘Just God. I only believe in the one God,’ I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.’”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 322). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

Comedians and clowns, I believe, are the physicists of the soul

“We have been around for a few million years at most, perhaps only 200,000 if you restrict attention to ‘modern’ humans; the universe is about 13.5 billion years old. We occupy one world orbiting one of 200 billion stars in one galaxy, which itself is one of 200 billion galaxies. Isn’t it just a tiny bit arrogant to insist that the entire universe is merely a by-product of a process whose true purpose was to bring us into existence?
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 302). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

I do not know if I completely buy this last point. I mean, if you are so irrelevant in the scheme of things why would you even bother to get up in the morning?

 

.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
The Nobel Prize in Economics was established in 1966 by bankers who fund it and is not one of the prizes that Alfred Nobel established in his will in 1895. It is not technically a Nobel Prize.

 

B. Today’s Poem:

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A Double Standard
BY FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER

Do you blame me that I loved him?
If when standing all alone
I cried for bread a careless world
Pressed to my lips a stone.

Do you blame me that I loved him,
That my heart beat glad and free,
When he told me in the sweetest tones
He loved but only me?

Can you blame me that I did not see
Beneath his burning kiss
The serpent’s wiles, nor even hear
The deadly adder hiss?

Can you blame me that my heart grew cold
That the tempted, tempter turned;
When he was feted and caressed
And I was coldly spurned?

Would you blame him, when you draw from me
Your dainty robes aside,
If he with gilded baits should claim
Your fairest as his bride?

Would you blame the world if it should press
On him a civic crown;
And see me struggling in the depth
Then harshly press me down?

Crime has no sex and yet to-day
I wear the brand of shame;
Whilst he amid the gay and proud
Still bears an honored name.

Can you blame me if I’ve learned to think
Your hate of vice a sham,
When you so coldly crushed me down
And then excused the man?

Would you blame me if to-morrow
The coroner should say,
A wretched girl, outcast, forlorn,
Has thrown her life away?

Yes, blame me for my downward course,
But oh! remember well,
Within your homes, you press the hand
That led me down to hell.

I’m glad God’s ways are not our ways,
He does not see as man,
Within His love I know there’s room
For those whom others ban.

I think before His great white throne,
His throne of spotless light,
That whited sepulchers shall wear
The hue of endless night.

That I who fell, and he who sinned,
Shall reap as we have sown;
That each the burden of his loss
Must bear and bear alone.

No golden weights can turn the scale
Of justice in His sight;
And what is wrong in woman’s life
In man’s cannot be right.

 

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825 – February 22, 1911) was an abolitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, public speaker, and writer, one of the first African American women to be published in the United States.

Born free in Baltimore, Maryland, she had a long and prolific career, publishing her first book of poetry at the age of 20. At 67, she published her novel Iola Leroy (1892), which was widely praised.

As a young woman in 1850, she taught sewing at Union Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, a school affiliated with the AME Church.[1] In 1851, alongside William Still, chairman of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, she helped refugee slaves make their way along the Underground Railroad on their way to Canada. In 1853 she began her career as a public speaker and political activist after joining the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Her collection Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1854) became her biggest commercial success. Her short story “Two Offers” was published in the Anglo-African in 1859, making literary history as the first short story published by a black woman.

Harper founded, supported, and held high office in several national progressive organizations. In 1883 she became superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1894 she helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president. Harper died aged 85 on February 22, 1911, nine years before women gained the right to vote. (Wikipedia)

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. But the smell! You know — that gasoline smell… the whole hill! Smelled like… victory. (Pause) Some day this war is going to end…”
Apocalypse Now. Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Kilgore.

 

 

OLD PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DAY:

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That is me asleep on the couch many years ago. Bobby, Ruth’s dog, is my partner in lethargy.

 

 

 

TODAY’S ART ODYSSEY:

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Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Cold Tits 0009. (March 11, 2020)

 

“Mutual expressions of love are seldom impressive to anyone not taking part in them.”
le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 218). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

 

Naida dropped me off at the train station Wednesday morning. I boarded the train to San Francisco to spend the night at Peter and Barrie’s house. Tomorrow I am scheduled, as I am every three weeks, to go to UCSF in Mission Bay for my immunotherapy treatment.

After arriving in downtown SF, I took MUNI to Noe Valley where I met Peter for coffee at Bernie’s. It was unusually warm for the City by the Bay, in the mid seventies, so we sat outside on the Geezers bench. We had a long and interesting conversation, nothing of which I remember.

Later, Jason, Hiromi and Amanda joined us at the house for another one of Barrie’s great dinners. It had been Amanda’s fifteenth birthday last week and I had bought her three designer silk scarves as a present. Anthony then arrived. We talked and ate and took photographs until they all left after which Peter and Barrie retired and I spent a few minutes on the computer before I also went to bed.
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Amanda trying on her new scarves.

 

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Jason, Pookie, Amanda and Peter.

 

 

The next day, Peter dropped me off at the hospital in Mission Bay where I was scheduled for my immunotherapy infusion. The treatment went off without a hitch. After, I boarded the train back to Sacramento and had a good night’s sleep.
IMG_7944Susuin Marsh from the train.

 

 

B. OFF TO THE GOLDEN HILLS FOR LUNCH WITH HRM.

 
The following day, I drove into the golden hills and picked up HRM at the skatepark after school. We drove into Folsom to have lunch at KFC/A&W. Hayden wanted to try the new fried chicken with donuts he had heard about somewhere. It seems odd to me that the youth of today follow the developments in the fast food industry with all the passion that people of another age (mine) followed the awarding of Michelin stars to restaurants. I had a hotdog and a rootbeer float and he ordered the fried chicken with glazed donuts

After lunch we drove to the nearby T-mobile store where they fixed my phone problems. I dropped H at Dicks house and returned home to the Enchanted Forest. Naida and I watched East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. They have not aged well.

 

 

C. HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN JIGITY JIG:

 
I spent Saturday avoiding things.  Specifically not doing anything about registering the Mitsubishi. I think if I procrastinate enough it will resolve itself.

While doodling around between watching The Graduate for the umpteenth time, following the results of the SC primary and surfing the internet, I came across an interesting site, Art Odyssey. It’s a site containing works of hundreds of interesting artists world wide. After spending an hour or two rummaging through the site, I decided to add a new section to T&T to be called unsurprisingly Art Odyssey (see below).

The next two days passed by like a whisper in a thunderstorm.

This evening Naida and I went to Zocalo’s for dinner. After dinner we walked a few stores down from the restaurant to shop for the week’s groceries. On the way there Naida suddenly became weak and faint. I suggested taking her to the emergency room but she refused. She insisted on sitting in the car to rest while I did the shopping. When I returned, she had the seat-back down and was barely conscious. She still refused my insistence that we go to the hospital. When we got home she was hardly able to stand up. I helped her out of the car and up the stairs and put her to bed. I now sit here typing this and being very worried about her.

At about 10:30 Naida returned downstairs to the studio apparently having weathered whatever ailed her and feeling much better. I am relieved.

Today is election day and for some reason I woke up on the positive side of deliriously happy. I felt like a character in those 1940-50 screwball comedies full of happiness without reason. Like despair, irrational joy is a form of short term mental illness. In my advance age, I have learned that if I just wait awhile feelings of either happiness and despair will pass to be replaced by the usual boredom and minor physical ailments that existence imposes on us. It could be worse. Imagine being inflicted with ceaseless giddiness or eternal gloominess.

Although I had already voted by mail, Naida had not, so along with Boo-boo the Barking Dog, we set off walking through the Enchanted Forest to the community center where the HOC had set up a polling station.

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Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I on our way to the voting place in the Enchanted Forest.

 
The weather was warm, and the trees in bloom. Naida voted, Boo-boo barked, and I shuffled along.
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The trees in bloom on the street where we live.

 
That night we watched the returns from the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. It seems that Biden has done surprisingly well and Sanders not so much. Warren, who was my choice, did not do well at all. Oh well, like after the recent Super Bowl, I will put myself to bed and sleep off my disappointment. After all, tomorrow is another day and with it another round of grief and joy to mitigate the barren stretches of life.

What happened during the rest of the week? Time passes too quickly for the aged and the decrepit to fully enjoy the leisure that society imposes on us. I commit to do more next week, meanwhile, I get back to TCM and pass the remainder of the day with the Academy Award films of the 1960s and 70s.

Saturday, the rains came in meager drops and mist. We attended the Saturday Morning Coffee as we usually do. Nothing to report there except that during the get together Frank called from Florida to let me know he expects to be in California in April. After the Coffee we took off with Boo-boo the Barking Dog and drove into the Golden Hills to bring Hayden his birthday presents. We arrived at the house and proceeded down into the teenager cave where Hayden, Jake, Kaleb and Ethan were assembled for their usual Saturday gathering of the gang. After opening the birthday presents we brought him, we all piled into the car and drove to McDonald’s for lunch. Following lunch, we dropped the boys off at Kaleb’s home and returned home. That evening we watched among other movies an excellent noir mystery called The Pink Pony staring Robert Montgomery followed by a Miss Marple movie entitled Murder She Said.

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A photograph of the early spring flowers in our backyard with the dog pooping on the lawn.

 
Sunday passed with little to say for itself. Monday arrived.  Naida and I set off for the DMV in order to finally register the Mitsubishi. After four hours, we were successful and went on to the Tower Restaurant to celebrate. Later, after returning home, we walked with Boo-boo the Barking Dog to where the Mitsubishi was parked, placed the sticker on the license plate and went for a celebratory drive through the Enchanted Forest. Now that the car is legal, Naida would like to sell it. So, if you or someone you know wants to buy a 1991 Mitsubishi sport car please let us know.
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Late last night, somewhere in the Enchanted Forest, two 80 years olds stark naked and in love danced.

The Azaleas in front of our home are blooming now. The time of the Camellias is passing. So has the time of this post. It seems to be going on far too long.

Take care.

 

 

 

D. BOOK REPORT: TERRY PRATCHETT.

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Terry Pratchett.

 
For those who have never read anything written by Terry Pratchett the creator of Discworld, I feel very sorry for you, for you have missed one of life and literature’s great joys. For those who had read all or most of Pratchett’s works, “Crivens” you are among the elect and qualified for admission into the Unseen University if you are a man or into Granny Wetherwax’s kitchen if you are a woman.

Pratchett is your guide to Discworld through the 41 novels in the series (almost all of which I have read).
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Discworld.

 

I won’t bore you with a summary of the Discworld oeuvre. The above graphics will have to do. I have, however, these past two weeks or so, read Darwin’s Crown, Judgment Day, and The Shepards Crown. The first two are the final books in The Science of Discworld series Pratchett co-authored with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, two practicing scientists. The Science of Discworld is a creative, mind-bending mash-up of fiction and fact, that offers a wizard’s-eye view of our world that will forever change how you look at the universe. The chapters alternate between the story that takes place both on Discworld and our earth and non-fiction science topics.

In the course of an exciting experiment, the wizards of Discworld have accidentally created a new universe. Within this universe is a planet that they name Roundworld. Roundworld is, of course, Earth, and the universe is our own. The universe is kept in a jar on the desk of the Chancellor of The Unseen University, the esteemed wizard Mustrum Ridcully.

One of the themes of the novels centers on the concept that most scientific explanations are in reality a good deal more complicated than most of us realize (It is explained that this is so because teachers of science use the Lies-To-Children method of science education or, in Ponder Stibbons’ case [the most rational of the wizards], Lies-To-Wizards) hence the alternating science chapters. These enlightening chapters are delightful essays that clearly explain various science topics. Among them are:

Squash Court Science: Nuclear energy.
Science and Magic: What is science and how it works.
Beginnings and Becomings: The origin and nature of the Universe.
We are Stardust: Atoms. The periodic table.
The Shape of Things: The shape of the Universe; the Theory of Relativity.
Where do Rules Come From?: Is a “Theory of Everything” possible?; Quantum Mechanics.
Disc Words. The Solar System.
Earth and Fire. Geology: the structure of planet Earth.
Air and Water. The atmosphere, the oceans, the surface of the planet.
Things that aren’t: things that are defined by being opposites, normally with only one of them being measurable and not both (light, heat, etc.).
Despite which…: The origin of life.
Unnatural Selection: Evolution.
The Descent of Darwin: Evolution.
The Iceberg Cometh: Ice Ages.
Universals and Parochials: Evolution.
Don’t Look Up: Meteors and other things that might cause another global extinction.
Nine Times out of Ten: Statistics and biases.
Running from Dinosaurs: dinosaurs.
The Death of Dinosaurs.
Mammals on the Make: the expansion of mammals.
Anthill Inside: The origin of hominids.
Extel Outside: Culture.

 

What I found amazing about it all is that these novels contain some of the most easily understandable explanations of the sciences I have ever read — even quantum theory was intelligible — almost. Everyone should read these books.

The third book, The Shepherd’s Crown, features the young witch Tiffany Aching who, upon the death of Granny Weatherwax, becomes the head witch and must repel the invasion of Discworld by evil elves intent on inflicting mischief and mayhem. She is aided by the Feegles, a race of seven inch tall extremely warlike men and women. This was Pratchett’s last book and published four years after his death.

Some quotes from the books:

Shouting at the monkeys in the next tree. That’s what brains evolved to do. Not mathematics and physics.
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 223). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

When he was Vice-Chancellor at Warwick University, the biologist Sir Brian Follett remarked: ‘I don’t like scientists on my committees. You don’t know where they’ll stand on any issue. Give them some more data, and they change their minds!’ He understood the joke: most politicians wouldn’t even realize it was a joke.
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 299). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

“So what have we learned? That the shape of our universe is intimately related to the laws of nature, and its study sheds some light – and a lot more darkness – on possible ways to unify relativity and quantum theory. Mathematical models like Torusland and the Escherverse have opened up new possibilities by showing that some common assumptions are wrong. But despite all of these fascinating developments, we don’t know what shape our universe is. We don’t know whether it is finite or infinite. We don’t even know for sure what dimension it is, or even whether its dimension can be pinned down uniquely.”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 228). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

“The past was another country, but the future is an alien world.”
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 325). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

“Belief is a very odd word, and it is used in several ways. ‘Belief that’ differs greatly from ‘belief in’, which is again different from ‘belief about’. Our belief about science, for example, is that it’s simply our best defence against believing (in) what we want to. But we may also have, to some extent, a belief in science, as distinct from belief in a religion or a cult: we believe that science can find ways out of humankind’s present difficulties, ways that are not available to politics, philosophy or religion.”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 252). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

The appearance of design is the most dramatic element in both systems (Technological design and organic evolution). Although its provenance is different in the two cases , we are no longer surprised by it. We have realized that the universe is not doomed by increasing entropy to an eventual ‘heat death’, a traditional but somewhat misleading term which actually means that the universe will end up as a structureless lukewarm soup. Instead, the universe ‘makes it up as it goes along’, and what it makes up are designs. In that sense, at least, the appearance of new design in both technical and organic systems can be considered comparable. But it’s important not to stretch the metaphor too far.
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 188). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Pookie says, “check them out.”

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

“Until fairly recently, almost all people were religious believers. The majority still are, but the proportions depend on culture in a dramatic way. In the United Kingdom, about 40% say they have no religion, 30% align themselves with one but do not consider themselves in any way religious, and only 30% say they have significant religious beliefs. An even smaller proportion attends some kind of place of worship regularly. In the United States, over 80% identify with a specific religious denomination, 40% say they attend services weekly, and 58% say that they pray most weeks. It’s an intriguing difference between cultures that have such a lot in common.”
Pratchett, Terry. Judgment Day (Science of Discworld Series) (pp. 256-257). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Vito Marcantonio on Top:

 

“If it be radicalism to believe that our natural resources should be used for the benefit of all of the American people and not for the purpose of enriching just a few…then, Ladies and Gentlemen of this House I accept the charge. I plead guilty to the charge; I am a radical and I am willing to fight it out…until hell freezes over.”
Vito Marcantonio

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
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The young Trenz Pruca.

 

We all are simply organized bits of data, not humans, not flesh and blood, not atoms and not even Einstein’s waves. We are merely structured concepts. Someday, we will be replaced by other structured concepts better able to use the energy of the universe in order to more efficiently delay the forces of entropy. Life, after all, is simply the forlorn and ultimately unsuccessful effort by a few bits of the universe to avoid the boredom of eternal tranquility.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

The history of my stupidity

The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.

Some would be devoted to acting against consciousness,
Like the flight of a moth which, had it known,
Would have tended nevertheless toward the candle’s flame.

Others would deal with ways to silence anxiety,
The little whisper which, though it is a warning, is ignored.

I would deal separately with satisfaction and pride,
The time when I was among their adherents
Who strut victoriously, unsuspecting.

But all of them would have one subject, desire,
If only my own — but no, not at all; alas,
I was driven because I wanted to be like others.
I was afraid of what was wild and indecent in me.

The history of my stupidity will not be written.
For one thing, it’s late. And the truth is laborious.
     Czeslaw Milosz, Berkeley, 1980.
Trans. Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky

 

E. Giants of History: Burma Richard.

 
My friend Burma Richard, gemologist, ethologist, restraunteur, artist and all around good guy recently sent me the following message:

“I hope your health is sterling and life superb.
I was fishing through some shots the other day and came across these of a lovely young girl from The North Country. 🇰🇵 North Korea specifically.
There used to be several North Korean Restaurants in Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and China staffed by fetching young girls who were part of the elite and trained in schools of the arts since childhood. They were selected like lovely chocolates.
The food was just ok but all the girls worked their talents as waitresses, songstresses and dancing musicians between serving dishes.
Accordions and tubas, flutes and mandolins, and warbly romantic songs.
Most all of the money went back to Kim Jung Un, but they seemed to be reasonably well compensated.
However they were not allowed to stroll around their prospective cities and stayed together upstairs in their establishments under a strict watch.
A few years ago a dozen of these lasses were either tricked and spirited way to South Korea or defected depending on whose propaganda one believes.
That along with U.S sanctions shut all the establishments down. All of them.
There were signs posted throughout the restaurants “No Photos” and they meant it.
We had eaten in the Rangoon branch several times and I told her, as she had asked my nationality, that I was an American. Perhaps because she began to realize I was not a white demon seeking to indoctrinate her into the evil ways of capitalism or to boil her baby sister for stew, she relented at my persistence finally and allowed me these very rare photographs.”

IMG_1996

 

 

D. Comments:

 
Ruth Lansford, commenting on the memory problems affecting my ability to recall my brilliant thoughts and ideas for items to write about here in T&T, suggested I carry a pencil and note pad and write down those brilliant thoughts and bon mots as they occur to me. Encouraged by her advice, I asked Haden to instruct me on how to use the voice activated note taking ability on my smart phone. He did and now, as I drive along and am struck by some ingenious notions, I immediately record them on my phone so that later, at my leisure, I can play them back and hear how truly stupid and inane those attempted flights into brilliance really are. Thank you Ruth….

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

 

“Lungfishes and some salamanders, even some amoebas, have more than fifty times as much DNA as we mammals do. What does this say about how complex these creatures are, compared to us? Absolutely nothing. Tricks like HSP90, and strategies like warm-bloodedness and keeping development inside the mother, mean that bean-counting of DNA ‘information’ is beside the point. What counts is what the DNA means, not how big it is. And meaning depends on context, as well as content: you can’t regulate the temperature of a uterus unless your context (that is, mother) provides one.”
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 270). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S ART ODYSSEY:

Alfonso Arana (9)

Alfonso Arana (1927-2005)

Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Mopey 0009 (January 19, 2020)

 

“Sweet, salt, bitter, piquant – Sicilian cuisine is all-embracing and pleasurably involves all the senses in a single dish. A gelato must also be like this. Sweet as a whispered promise, the pistachio ice cream salty as sea air, the chocolate ice cream faintly bitter and a little tart like a lover’s goodbye the next morning.”
Mario Giordano, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Ruth.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

 

I have not written here in “Pookies Adventures” for about a week. Perhaps it is due to creeping ennui. I have been reflecting, however, on a few things during that time. One of those things has been the inadvertent falsehood in my conceit that I often do nothing during my day. It fact, I do a lot. I usually spend much of my day sitting here with my computer attending to things, paying bills, or exchanging messages with friends and bill collectors and the like. I also usually spend some time on T&T, if not on the “Pookies Adventures” portion then on some other section, like searching through my favorite poetry sites for “Today’s Poem.”

When I think about it, it is much like having a job. I certainly spend enough time doing these things. Of course, I don’t get paid. That’s a downer, but then I don’t have to deal with clients, co-workers and the like. Nor, do I have to care about the quality of the product. I guess that makes it a hobby. It is interesting that if it is something mostly detestable but you get paid for it, it is a job but if you enjoy it but don’t get paid, it is a hobby (or you are a failing artist). On the other hand, if you enjoy it and get paid for it, it is not a hobby, but it is a job. Someone once asked a famous writer why he writes. “For the money,” he responded. “You don’t think I do this for the sheer pleasure of it, do you? That would be insane.”

I do not know why I wrote the above two paragraphs. I could not think of what to write after the first sentence. I guess it was a sort of stream of consciousness thing — writing something without any idea where you’re going with it or even why you are doing it. Or perhaps it has something to do with the Donald Hall quote in the previous issue of T&T, “Why should the nonagenarian hold anything back?” Why indeed or better yet why give a shit?

Last night we saw the new Korean movie Parasite at the Tower Theater here in Sacramento. I had not expected what I saw on the screen. It is a marvel, an odd one for sure but a marvel nonetheless. Part comedy, part tragedy, part horror movie, part melodrama, it, nevertheless, never failed to capture and hold my attention. The direction is as good as I have seen in movies recently and the cinematography exceptional. See it, you may be surprised like I was, but I doubt you will be disappointed.

This morning, perhaps around two or three AM, I awoke. I did not go back to sleep right away, but instead, I drifted into an almost dream-like state. I had an almost overwhelming urge to paint. It was compulsive, insistent. I needed to paint. Not like the almost paint by numbers reproduction of photographs I painted for a while over 20 years ago. Real painting, whatever that was. I saw an image of myself painting at an easel. I was painting a portion of a sleeve. The fabric was Chinese silk, a dark almost iridescent blue. There were folds and mounds in the fabric as though it was filled with a slightly bent arm. Small golden parallelograms were stitched into the fabric. It was very difficult to paint them and I spent some time figuring out how I was going to do it. Then the scene changed. I was still in my studio. This time the canvas was affixed to the wall above my head. I could reach it with a long brush. I was painting long slightly wavy red lines on the canvas. As I drew the lines, a man’s face began to appear in the paint. His expression, as it emerged from the paint, was sad with an element of surprise. I then fell asleep, a deep sleep until the barking of the dog woke me in the morning.

IMG_0937
A Painting of Mine from 30 Years Ago.

 

Today (a day or two after I wrote the previous paragraph) Naida left for a presentation on her newest book Daughter of the West, a Memoir. I spent the morning sitting in my recliner with Boo-boo the Barking Dog drowsing on the recliner next to mine usually occupied by Naida. I had managed to exhaust my morning in desultory and aimless research, Facebook explorations and a bit of writing. Having consumed all that I could think of doing while sitting there, I struggled to come up with what to do next. It was too early for a nap. It was only noon. I could have made something to eat but I was not hungry. A walk perhaps. That sounded good. Perhaps straighten up the house. Ugh. Still, that would surprise and please Naida. A plan, I had a plan.

Well, like many plans even the simplest of them, it appeared good in concept but a failure in implementation. I began by removing the clean dishes from the dishwasher. While I was doing so, Naida returned home. She told me about her presentation. It was at a local women’s club. A somewhat mysterious one. They would not tell her what the letters that made up the club’s name stood for. They told her they did not want any more members. Naida spoke to the women about her novel River of Red Gold and not as I believed her Memoir. One of the women strenuously objected to Naida’s depiction of John Sutter in her novel. She believed it to be too negative toward the great man. Naida then read to her the footnotes and endnotes to the novel quoting other historians and contemporary accounts that Sutter, like so many so-called great men, was considerably less so and more often a monster. Sutter raped a 5-year-old girl and commandeered the wife of one of his native Hawaiian workers as his bedmate.

Sutter reminds me of a Nineteenth-Century Donald Trump. A charlatan who never pays his bills, a repeat failure in his businesses, a toady to those above him and a beast in his dealings with those beneath him. No-one should feel sorry for how Sutter ended his life as no one should shed any tears if Trump ends up as many of us hope he will.

We then ate lunch after which I went for that walk I had promised myself.

 
B. THE BIG ENDIVE AGAIN:

 
IMG_7821
A View of the Big Endive by the Bay Looking North.

 
So once again it was time to set off for the Big Endive by the Bay for my infusion treatment. Every three weeks, we set off for San Francisco to spend one or two days at Barrie and Peter’s house while I attend to my medical issues. This time we traveled to the City by train.
IMG_7810
A View from the Train.

 
We spent a pleasant evening eating Barrie’s wonderfully prepared food and talking about “The Good Old Days,” mainly the 1960s and 1970s.

The next day it rained. Peter drove us to the hospital. My medical reports were pleasantly positive.
IMG_7817
Naida waiting for me to finish my infusion at UDSF.

 

 

That evening after dinner Barrie, Naida and I (Peter was off on a gig with his band) went to a small bookstore on 24th St. to listen to a friend of Barrie’s flog his book, “An Old Man’s Game” about an aging Jewish detective in LA. There seems to have been a spate of Jewish Detective novels recently. Sheldon Has written one that is set in Chicago. Michael Chabon wrote one a few years back that takes place in a mythical Alaska shortly after WWII.

During his talk to us, the author, who is 72 years old and had just published his first book, told us he has written four more novels featuring this old detective awaiting publication and he planned to write many more. He said he was afraid either he or his main character will die before he finishes the series.

Morning came, Barrie and Peter were off to LA for Barrie’s sister’s memorial. They dropped us off at UCSF Parnassus for my neurological examination. It was scheduled in an effort to discover why for the past year I had been staggering as I walked. It wasn’t because I was drinking too much alcohol. It burns my throat now so at best I am able to get down one drink a week. It wasn’t about cannabis since if I do it at all it is usually only late at night to help me sleep. So, what could it be?

After several hours of tests and consultation between two doctors, they, the doctors, said they did not know what caused the problem (or if there was a problem at all) and recommended physical therapy, an MRI and a return visit four months from now. Oh, they also wished me Good Luck.

IMG_7824

 

So, lightened by an ambiguous sense of accomplishment, we left the hospital, wound our way to the train station where we boarded a surprisingly crowded train back to Sacramento. Sitting across from us during the ride was a pleasant young woman of Indian (India Indian) extraction who lives in Emeryville and was traveling to spend the weekend with some ex-classmates from UC Davis. She smiled a lot and shared her french-fries with us. Oh, the joys of traveling by train.

 

 
C. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

 

 

I am reading Donald Hall’s A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety. It is a memoir of sorts. Hall, who at one time served as US Poet Laureate, writes a series of mostly short essays in which he reminisces about his life and other people he has met especially poets. Of the poets some he liked for one reason or another and others he didn’t. For example, for an essay by the poet Allen Tate, Hall’s essay simply stat

In one of his essays of only 700 words entitled interestingly Seven Hundred Words, he wrote that he had spent a month writing it. In other essays, he claimed he sometimes revises them up to 80 times.

I thought about revising things I write 80 times. That seems like real work. I’d never do that for pleasure. When I write anything I reserve my editing only to checking-up on spell check which has a tendency to use its own judgment to revise whatever I had written with which it disagrees.

I have received comments on things I have published in one blog or another such as, “Forgive him. It is obvious that English is his second language,” or “Your writing sounds like poetry,” and “If you are so smart, how come your use of grammar is so bad.” I wonder if I revised and rewrote whatever I write 80 times it would improve  — at least enough for it to be considered English. I doubt it. Anyway, that would make it too much like work and too little like fun.

Recently, I reviewed a post I had planned to repost in another blog. As I read it, I realized it was pure gibberish. I then tried to edit it into something that resembled English and failed. The most egregiously bad sentence was:

“They proved exceptionally helpful and often assisted in increasing production but the bankers need for timely repayment is not the same as the investors wish for profit and may at times suppress production in order to satisfy the need for repayment.”
(https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/musings-on-what-is-capitalism/)

Hall ends his book with a brief essay about a large maple tree growing in the yard of his ancestral home in New Hampshire that had been blown down by a recent storm. He recalls a swing hanging from a large limb of that tree that he played on when he was a child. He then describes the gathering of relatives and friends who assisted in taking down the remnants of the tree until only a large stump remained. The essay and the book concludes with the following passage:

“One more story derives from the death of my tree [A grand maple tree]. The tree blew down in July, and of course, nobody knows when my granddaughter Allison and her husband Will will move into this old house, extending one family’s residence since 1865. They will take over here when I die, but now I was able, with the help of a windstorm, to give them a wedding present that should last awhile. When I was a boy, elms lined Route 4, but by the time Jane and I arrived, Dutch elm disease had killed them all. A few years ago, Philippa told me of newly bred elms that were immune. She and I conspired, and acting as my agent, she bought a new American elm, and after the great stump was removed a slim four-foot elm sapling took the maple’s place. Philippa and Jerry, my son-in-law planted in on a Sunday in early September while Allison and Will and I looked on. It was Tree Day, which I proclaim a family holiday. For now, the elm will require watering, three doses of three gallons a week, applied by my helpers. The sapling came with a bronze plaque inscribed to the future tenants, to be affixed to the elm’s eventual trunk. I am free to imagine another grand-child swinging from another branch of another tree.”

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

This evening I watched the most recent of the interminable Democratic presidential nomination debates. I learned something from the commercials, however. The nation seems to be suffering from an epidemic of psoriasis and other heartbreaking skin diseases forcing citizens of the nation to avoid appearing in public for fear of embarrassment. This national problem was not discussed in the debate. I think I will withhold my support for any candidate until one of them comes up with a plan to deal with this crisis.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

The following reproduces Chapter 3 of my unfinished and never to be published novel “Here Comes Dragon.”

 

Dragon’s breath:

 

“A good detective should be afraid…always.”

 

 

Chapter 3.

 

I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open slowly. I only had opened it a few inches before it was wrenched from my hand. A big guy stood there holding the door and filling all the space between the door and the door jamb. He was not too much taller than I am, but he was big, with a body poised somewhere between muscle and fat.

“What do you want,” he growled?

I stepped back. Said, “I’m looking for Mark Holland.”

“Why?”

Thought this might be a good time for a clever story. Could not think of one. Went with the truth. “I have been asked to find him.”

“Why,” again?

Still lacking clever responses, said, “I’ve been hired to find him.” Took a business card from my pocket handed it to him. He looked at it for a long time. Said, “A Detective eh. Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk?”

I said, “If it is all the same to you, I feel better standing out here in the hall.”

The door opened a little wider. Another fat guy appeared. He had a phone pressed against his ear with one hand. In his other hand, he had a gun that was pointed at me. “Get in here,” fat guy number one ordered.

At that moment I noted a strange phenomenon. My clothing went instantly from dry to wet. At the same time, I felt like I shit my pants. Said, “I think my chances of being shot are greater in there than standing out here in the hall.”

I flashed on how stupid that sounded. The embarrassment of shitting in my pants began to leak into my consciousness. Did not get far with either thought as they were interrupted by an explosion to the side of my face. As I toppled toward the floor, my first thought was to protect my computer. The second was that I might be dead.

Thought I was shot. Actually, Fat Guy One suddenly had reached out with his ham sized hand and slapped me aside my head as they say. His heavy ring raked across my jaw.

Before landing on the floor, I was grabbed and dragged into the room. I looked down the hall in the vain hope that Ann had seen what happened and would call the cops. No such luck.

I was thrown onto a bean bag chair on the floor. Thought, “Who the fuck still has a bean bag chair?” Said, “Who the fuck has a bean bag chair any more?” But did not get it all out as the pain had finally hit and I realized that I had bitten my tongue and was dribbling blood down my chin. Got out “Woo fla bee or?” before giving up and grabbing my jaw. I was bleeding there too from the ring. Said, “Shiss!” Added “Blon.” My tongue was swelling up.

Fat guy one threw me a dirty dishrag. Thought I would probably die of sepsis if it touched my open wound. Spit the blood from my mouth into the rag folded it, and pressed it against the side of my face anyway.

Fats Two was talking on the phone. Whispered to Fats One. Fats One said, “Who sent you?”

Replied something that sounded like, “That’s confidential.”

Fats one raised his fist.

I quickly responded, “Gul fren.”

“Fucking Mavis,” said SF fats.

“No, na yeh” I commented. I thought I was being clever. They ignored me

Fats Two whispered to Porky One again.

Porky asked, “Find anything yet?”

“Hired hour ago. This first stop.”

More talking on the phone and whispering. Fats Prime asked, “What did Mavis tell you?”

What I answered sounded a lot like, “Not much. He’s missing. She’s worried.”

More talking on the phone and whispering.

I said more or less, “We could save a lot of time if I just talked directly to whoever is on the phone.” Although it did not come out quite like that, I actually was getting used to speaking through my swollen tongue and frozen jaw.

They ignored me. Fats One said, “What’s she paying you — tattoos or blow jobs?” Thrilled with his cleverness he let out a surprisingly high pitched giggle.

I did not answer as I struggled with a clever comeback and failed mostly out of fear of retaliation.

He said more forcefully, “What do you charge?”

“Two hundred dollars a day. One week minimum. One half paid in advance.”

Some more whisperings into the phone. There seemed to be some disagreement.

Fats Prime finally turned to me and said, “We’d like to hire you to help us find him.”

I was gobsmacked. Wanted to say, “Fuck you” or “What the fuck,” even. Said instead, “Can’t, conflict of interest.”

Prime Cut One turned red-faced and advanced on me. I quickly said, “On second thought, I can probably figure a way around it.”

He stopped, smiled reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. From it, he extracted 10 one hundred dollar bills and placed them in my hand not holding the towel. “You will get another thousand if you find him.”

Pocketed the money. Said, “Whose my client?”

Again with the whispering. “Me,” said First Lard Brother.

Asked, “What’s your name?”

“No name.” He scribbled on a piece of paper. Handed it to me. “My phone number. Call every evening at about five o’clock.”

“What can you tell me about Holland to help me along?”

Again the phone. The Fats One then said, “Ask Mavis. She knows more than she is telling you.”

They then both picked me up out of the bean bag and guided me toward the door.

“How do you know I won’t go to the police?”

“If you do we will have to kill you.” They both giggled in falsetto.

I knew that was bullshit but I was still scared shitless, literally and figuratively and I knew involvement of the cops was futile.

Once back in the hall, I ran to Ann’s door pounded on it and rang the awful buzzer. I do not know what I expected I’d do if she answered; cry in her arms perhaps. No response anyway. Pictured her standing in the middle of the room staring blank-eyed at the door.

Turned, grabbing the computer in one hand and the bloody rag in another, ran out of the building and back down the hill to Pino’s place.

When Pino saw me he said, “What the fuck happened?”

I ran by him and into the restaurant. Said as I passed. “Bathroom. Ice in a napkin quick.”

In the toilet, I threw the rag into the wastebasket. The bleeding had mostly stopped. Dropped my pants and drawers and sat. Saw that I really had shit my pants, a little not much, but enough to make me groan. My hands were shaking as was the rest of me.

When I left the toilet Pino was there with the ice in a napkin. Repeated, “What the fuck happened?”

Took the napkin with the ice, pressed it to my face, said, “Later, I need a taxi right now.” Pino went into the street flagged down a cab. I got in. Gave the driver the address of my condo on Fourth Street, waved to Pino and slunk into my seat as far down as I could go.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Naida and Pookies trip into the Northwest on Top:

 

Heading Home:

 

We left Salmon and set off through Idaho to Boise where we would take a plane back to Sacramento. Although we were driving across the entire State of Idaho as we did about 10 days ago, we were not traversing the high desert of southern Idaho as we did then. Instead, we were plunging directly into the remote alpine upland of the state and the Sawtooth Mountains.

We approached the highlands through some beautiful and scenic river valleys.
IMG_E7368

 
Soon the majestic Sawtooth Mountains sprang up before us.
IMG_E7371

 

We, of course, stopped for photographs before plunging into the narrow steep inclines of the passageway through the mountains.

IMG_7397

 

As we approached the far side of the uplands we noticed a number of outdoor natural mineral springs along the side of the road. The photograph below shows one of them.

IMG_7401

 
Then we were in Boise. We checked into a motel. We were too tired to partake in the Boise nightlife if any. Instead, we took a brief stroll through the mist along the pathway by the river, returned to the motel and fell exhaustedly into the bid.

The next morning, we caught out flight back home to Sacramento. It was a great trip.

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Economics — The use of numbers to justify how the rich got that way.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Geronimo’s Song
by Geronimo (Goyathlay)

“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song (medicine-song), and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun (The Supreme Being) will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.”
MEDICINE-SONG
Sung by Geronimo

O, ha le
O, ha le!
Awbizhaye
Shichl hadahiyago niniya
O, ha le
O, ha le
Tsago degi naleya
Ah–yu whi ye!
O, ha le
O, ha le!
O, ha le
O, ha le!

Through the air
I fly upon the air
Towards the sky, far, far, far,
O, ha le

O, ha le!
There to find the holy place,
Ah, now the change comes o’re me!
O, ha le
O, ha le!

Geronimo’s changed form is symbolized by a circle, and this is surrounded by a mystic aureole. The holy place is symbolized by the sun, which is decorated with a horned head-dress emblematic of divine power. This is the insignia of the Holy Man.
(http://indians.org/welker/gerosong.htm)

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“You know what Trump is?”

“Tell me.”

“He’s Putin’s shithouse cleaner. He does everything for little Vladi that little Vladi can’t do for himself: pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on NATO. Assures us that Crimea and Ukraine belong to the Holy Russian Empire, the Middle East belongs to the Jews and the Saudis, and to hell with the world order. And you Brits, what do you do? You suck his dick and invite him to tea with your Queen.”
le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 141). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

fertility-rates

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_E7758
Boo-boo the Barking Dog after having done something he should not have done.

Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Papa Joe 0008 (September 8, 2019)

 
“The measure of a civilization is in the courage, not of its soldiers, but of its bystanders.”
McDevitt, Jack. A Talent For War (An Alex Benedict Novel Book 1) (p. 204). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

 

We drove to the Bay Area and spent the night at Peter and Barrie’s. Hiromi and my granddaughter just returned from their summer in Japan, joined us for dinner. We told stories. I told about the time my son Jason and I hitchhiked across the United States. He was about six-years-old at the time. It took us about six weeks primarily because we stayed for three of those weeks with friends who lived in the Bitterroot Vally in Montana.
IMG_6720
Peter, Amanda and I.

 

The next morning, I went for my immunotherapy treatment. The doctor told me that I had a significant number of blood clots in my left leg and lungs. He hoped the anticoagulant he had prescribed for me would begin to clear them up. We will know better after my next visit when I will have some additional tests done. Later, one of my blood tests came back showing severely low thyroid levels which may be the cause of my constant fatigue. The doctor said I need to get more exercise.
Following my visit, we returned to Noe Valley and sat at the Geezer Bench in front of Bernie’s Cafe. We were joined by my grandson Anthony and his girlfriend. Anthony has always been a kind and considerate young man who had a very unhappy childhood and adolescence that sowed the seeds of anger and frustration inside of him. I try my best always to be supportive of him in the hope that his innate gentleness will eventually calm his internal demons.
IMG_6721
Naida and Anthony with me on the Geezer’s Bench.

 
B. BACK TO THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The drive back was a horror, taking over four hours to cover the eighty or so miles. That evening, Naida suggested we get starkers and retire early. It was delightful. We lay on the bed in the dim light and talked for hours — about the light, our love, the day, the night, tomorrow and beyond, yesterday and the dim reaches of memory, our plans and our hopes for the brief time we have ahead of us. I slept well.

A few days pass like a spring breeze through the tattered remains of my memory. Let us work our way backward. It is Sunday, we just returned from a magnificent concert at the Nepenthe clubhouse. A Japanese jazz harpist (Motoshi Kosako) had given a performance far beyond that of the third rate bands that usually perform at the Sunday Jazz By the Pool nights in the Enchanted Forest. He was accompanied by an equally accomplished guitarist who played an instrument that seemed to be able to mimic any instrument in a symphony orchestra. True the Harpist, was no Miles Davis but was clearly a master Jazz musician. Jazz played on the harp was interesting, if to me a bit unsettling. There was none of that sense of sliding into the notes like one gets with traditional jazz instruments, like the sax, cornet or guitar. The sound of the harp is bright, not rounded. It would be like a jazz piano riff played on a harpsichord, everything musical would still there but it would sound, to me, a bit too vibrant and missing the auditory shadows I have come to expect in good jazz.

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That morning I drove the Scooter Gang (Hayden, Jake, Kaleb, and Tyson) into the Gold Country for a hamburger taste comparison between the hamburgers served at Giant Burgers to Go in Pine Grove and those cooked on the wood-fired oven at the Country Store in Volcano. H and I had always believed that the burgers cooked up at the Country Store were the best, but they were strangely dry that day so Giant Burgers to Go won the taste test that day.
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As for teenage chatter during the trip, alas, there was little of note. I hoped that they would show and interest in some of the sights along the way and suggest we stop and explore them (e.g., Indian Grinding Rock, Some old mines and Volcano itself) but they were too far into their existential adolescent blasé to consider anything but the torrent of recognition about their own emerging individuality to consider anything else intriguing.

On Saturday we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe clubhouse. It was also Dustan Hoffman day on TVM. After the coffee we returned home and watched “The Graduate,” Midnight Cowboy,” “Tootsie,” “Marathon Man,” and “Straight Time.” Hoffman was trained in “The Method” at the Actor’s Studio. That means, he may look more or less the same in each performance but he is a different person every time. Non-Method actors, look the same, are the same person, but behave differently as the script requires. It is difficult to claim one knows what Hoffman or DiNero are like in their private lives, but you are usually reasonably certain you know Gable or Olivier remain the same person away from the screen. There was a time, I was walking by a hotel located at the beach in Santa Monica. I saw Al Pacino, wearing an overcoat hanging down to his ankles hiding in the bushes and peering into the breakfast room of the hotel. I guess one might have expected something like that from Pacino. On the other hand, perhaps he was just getting into his character for some performance.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I first went through the 49rs potential lineup as I sometimes do hoping the exercise would bore me enough to put me to sleep. That failed, so I went to my backup, counting my breaths backward from 99. When I got to about 10, I realized I was thirsty, so I got out of bed to get a drink of water. As I got up and started walking I began to feel dizzy so I grabbed the footboard as I usually do to keep me from falling until the dizzy spell passed. The next thing I recalled I was still lying in bed counting backward with Naida in my arms. Slowly, I began to realize that it was not a pillow behind my head but the rug instead. Also, Naida was not sleeping in my arms but holding me and calling my name. It dawned on me that I had fainted. The last time I had fainted like this was when I had a pulmonary embolism a few years back. Oh, I forgot, the dog lay on the rug near me, a concerned look in his eyes as he contemplated the possible loss of a secure source of food.

With Naida’s help, I got back to bed drank some water and laid back down. I still could not go back to sleep, but now I instead of NFL rosters or counting breaths, I worried about whether if I fall asleep I would ever wake up. I slept fitfully and awoke exhausted and muzzy and with a nagging sense of dread but pleased to have survived the night.

Now the title of this section of T&T includes the words “Pookie’s Adventures.” Most people, I suspect, view adventures as things like climbing a mountain, exploring a dank jungle, or being chased down a dark alley by white nationalists or Mafia hitmen. I, however, consider last night’s events an adventure. Think about it. It took place in the dark of night. There was clearly a danger. I was mystified about what was happening. There was a dollop of pathos and a pinch of bathos (not to mention a full dose of melodrama). Imminent death was a distinct possibility. A beautiful woman lay in my arms. The problem was successfully overcome and a residual shadow as to what it all means for the future remained. That’s what adventure is all about.

I asked Naida to review my unfinished mystery novel, “Here Comes Dragon,” that I had published here in T&T some years back. I wanted her opinion as to whether I should finish it and publish it as an ebook. After reading two or three chapters, she stopped. I asked her if she thought I should try to finish it. She responded that perhaps I should devote my time and effort to T&T. So noted.

On Friday, we walked over the bridge to Sacramento State and joined the Renaissance Society. An organization that allows us Vecchia Gente to attend lectures and classes. I was interested most in history, Celtic, Mesopotamian or Judean. Naida seemed more intrigued by courses music and writing.

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The view of the American River from the Guy West Bridge.

 

On Saturday I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and three other members of the Scooter Gang in order to drive them to Berkeley for lunch at a Mexican restaurant he likes followed by a visit to the Bone Room. When I arrived at his teenager cave, he said that since it was Labor Day weekend the traffic would be too heavy. So, instead, we went to a fried chicken place they like in Folsom.
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After that, we walked to the Natomas Reservoir nearby. HRM wanted to show me the 65ft high cliff from which he and some of his friends would dive into the water. On the way, we met Dick and his house guest Cristina’s daughter Julia from Italy who had been riding their bicycles around the lake. The boys (Jake and HRM) decided to show us their dive but luckily the park rangers came by boat and warned them off.

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During the drive, they told me about a conflict that has arisen during the first week of High School between a group I call “the Jocks” and another group, “The Slackers,” to which the members of the Scooter Gang belong. It seems the Jocks have been whispering to some of the girls in the class urging to stay away from the Slackers because they lack ambition and will never amount to anything in life. This has riled up the Slackers ( including the Scooter Gang) quite a bit.

In an effort to not so much calm the waters but salve the bruised egos of the Slackers, I explained that the difference between them is that the Jocks need someone to tell them how to exercise or what to learn, but the Slackers (at least the Scooter Gang contingent) prefer to explore things on their own. For example, they certainly get significant exercise at the Skatepark, mountain biking, and skiing, while the Jocks prefer to get theirs under the direction of the coaches on the sports teams. Similarly, the Scooter Gang prefers exploring and learning things in addition to school (which they find confining). Also, they are always dreaming about doing exciting, if less conventional things in addition to their plans for college and a career. They responded something like, “Yeah, we’re explorers. They are only interested in a conventional life.” I guess that is good.

On Wednesday, Naida and I visited another independent living facility. What happened in the past four days? I don’t recall much except I am sure it was nothing bad. A few calls from Frank in Florida and from David in South Dakota broke up days of watching old movies and cable news or playing with my computer — I did go swimming once. Anyway, the visit — it always makes me feel uncomfortable when I enter one of these facilities. I think I am visiting my temporary coffin, reserved for that period between decrepitude and death. Sort of like I picture purgatory to be. A cold misty place where one waits uncomfortably to finally graduate into the eternal boredom of Heaven.

Thursday was an interesting day. In the morning, Naida told me several spooky stories about events in her life that she plans to include in the second volume of her memoir. The first included a story about her grandmother’s house, strange music, and dancing candlesticks. Another story concerned her meeting a native American man who had read River of Red Gold, her novel of life along the Cosumnes River during the Gold Rush. He said he was enthralled by the way she treated Native Americans in her book. He claimed it changed his life. They visited the abandoned native American village on the banks of the Cosumnes and the tree of the spirit women described in her book. His spirit animal was a bear. The painting that graces the cover of Eye of the Bay reflects that spirit. It also reflects the orSwimmingange light that shone in his eyes. Strangely the painter was not informed of any of this but just decided on her own to paint the bear, the fire motif and the orange rendition of the San Jose Mission in his eye.
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Later I drove into the Golden Hills for lunch with SWAC after which I picked up HRM at the ESD Skatepark and drove him home. Confidentiality prevents me from writing here all that I learned.

That night Terry arrived in Sacramento on his way back to Dunsmuir. We had dinner at Zinfandel a restaurant nearby that Naida and I enjoy. After dinner, we invited him to stay the night in one of the now-empty bedrooms. The next morning we all had breakfast together and talked about many things — Politics mostly. In addition to current national politics, we also talked about our lives in politics and the sexual peccadilloes of those in politicians we all knew. Terry and I discussed the Catholic schools we attended and the malevolent morality of the diocesan hierocracy we all knew. Naida told about the Mormons in Idaho and Utah and their frightening hierarchy beginning with Bingham Young. Later, Terry and I reminisced about our time at Georgetown. I told about my friendship with the Buchanan family — of Pat Buchanan, speechwriter for Nixon, Presidential candidate and full-time racist and fascist. He was considered the smart one of the family. He was also violent and crazy. I was convinced he would eventually die in the electric chair. Psycho Buchanan was Pat’s brother, and a Jesuit seminarian at the time I knew him. He was called Psycho for a good reason. He was a close friend of mine. Then there was Buchs Buchanan who was usually referred to as the dumb Buchanan. A finally there was Bay Buchanan the sister who was thirteen when I first met her. That day I, as I was walking down the hallway of the Buchanan house and heard her speak, I was convinced she was the demon child. Whenever I see the possessed child in the movie The Exorcist, I can only see Bay in my mind as I first met her that day.

Terry and I then left. He to continue on to Dunsmuir and me off to EDH again to pick up HTM. Hayden and I set off for lunch. After lunch, I drove him back to his home to pick up his scooter. His mom came by and said she would tell him this week. I then dropped him off at the Skatepark and returned to the Enchanted Forest.

Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee. Winnie was there. Her immunotherapy has stopped working. She was desperately frightened. I felt bad for her and a little scared for myself. The primary issue for discussion at the coffee was the recent break-in by two thieves of a home in the area and the beating of the homeowner. While such an event perhaps concerns old folks more than others, I was surprised at the high-level unemotional discussion that followed.

I think this is enough for this post. Next week following my trip to SF for my immunotherapy treatment, Naida and I leave for a two week trip to Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. We will be visiting some of the locations of many of the events in Naida’s newly published memoir as well as relatives and old friends. It is, in part, a sort of a good-by trip for Naida as she may never see most of these people again. We also plan to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Take care of yourselves and remember to keep on truckin.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
In the prior T&T post, I began a rumination about biological life, not in the hope of adding to the sum total of the earth’s knowledge or even to be correct. I have neither the knowledge nor the ambition to do either. I only want to see if I can come up with something with the information I have assembled that convinces me or if not convinced then leaves me bored enough to do something else. I have done this before in T&T with my posts on the spread of humanity out of Africa, as well as the First-Centuries and the rise of the Abrahamic religions we know today.

I ended the previous post with the following:

“When coupled with the fact that many believe the biosphere extends as a band from somewhere below the surface of the lithosphere (ground) up until it dissipates somewhere near the stratosphere, it helps me to explore a possible concept on which I believed I could replace my uninformed uncertainty with dogmatic bias.”

And continue here:

“Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah even with numbers.”
Excerpt From: J. E, Petrillo.Trenz Pruca’s Musings.” Apple Books.

In the early part of the 20th Century, it became generally accepted by scientists that words, the fundamental element of the system of aural and visual symbols that make up what we call language, was not adequate to describe some of the fundamental elements of physical reality. They chose the symbolic (or semantic if you will) system of numbers with which to describe the very small and very large aspects of reality. Later, they realized, numbers have their own problems as a system of description.

When we dropped from the trees and appeared to separate ourselves from other mammals, one of the indicators of that separation was our realization that we could manipulate and communicate our visual and auditory impressions. Other (perhaps most) organisms, including plants, seem to be able to communicate to some extent. What differentiates genus homo from the others is not just this ability but also the scope of the physical changes it induced in human physiology to take maximum advantage of that ability. It’s downside as Whitehead and Russell point out is its imprecision and subjective nature make it less than desirable for some of the needs of science. So what does this mean for understanding life?

Well, for one thing, in our efforts to understand life and communicate it we may be hindered by those symbolic concepts we have traditionally used. Even Schrodinger, after accurately predicting the basic building block of life, had to resort to invoking eastern religions to describe the more macro elements of the biosphere. Again, so what?
Well, perhaps the categories imposed upon us by our system of symbols to describe reality are misleading us.

Let’s take the biosphere. When say, dinosaurs evolved and dominated during the Triassic I believe some of them crawled along the land others swam in the sea and others developed the ability to fly. Later mammals when they achieved a similar form of existence within the biosphere, some swim in the water others travel along the land and others take to the skies. There seems to be a common evolution of large groups of related species when their phylum, domain, or family gain worldwide distribution. Teilhard De Chardin described this phenomenon as a precursor to the evolution or addition of a “more advanced” life form that in turn would circle the globe. Humans also have, in relatively large numbers, traveled on and under the oceans and waters of the earth and extracted resources for their benefit. Similarly, they have managed to fly through the air. Does this mean humanity has broken into separate species? If not then could the previous masters of the world be considered the equivalent of a single species? If not, then does this factor in the evolution of the biosphere mean anything?

The biosphere (life on this earth) is hugely complex. The universe is hugely complex also. Yet, Einstein through a clever thought experiment followed by its expression in mathematical symbols simplified much of it and made a lot of it predictable. Could something similar be done with the biosphere?
(to be continued perhaps)

From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.”

Natalie Wolchover. A New Physics Theory of Life, January 22, 2014

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

January 16, 1963,

 

Ugh, I seemed to have taken the pipe on the Domestic Relations exam. I made two mistakes — first, I did not properly read the questions and second I may have omitted many of the issues raised by the facts. I need to develop a better method for taking these exams.

Jack Lee called to moan about the test. It was funny listening to his concerns especially when they made mine appear trivial.

Tony Russo was on the verge of tears about the exam. He, of course, is taking it harder than anyone else because it is his second time around. He told me his girlfriend Denise cheered him up. It must be nice to have someone to cheer you up.

It will be interesting to see who received the highest grades.

I hope to do better on tomorrow’s test. I think I am less prepared for it, but somehow I feel more confident.

Kevin appears to be pulling a fast one on the travel business. I will stop him.

Last night I dreamed about a Shangri-la of my own. It is a beautiful place, warm — kind to all and generous, tolerant but restrictive. Perhaps all that goodness fascinated me. This feeling has lasted two days now. I wish it could last forever. At least it provides some hope and happiness.

 

(Kevin was a college classmate and my contact with the travel agency yay made the arrangements for the trip other than the securing of the planes and the selling of the travel packages. As I said, I kept the profit on the planes and the agency on the accommodations. I suspected Kevin wanted to take the operation for himself.

All my life I have taken refuge in fantasy. I guess most people do. I do not recall my Shangri-la fantasy, but I assume, as usual, I was the central character, brilliant, courageous, handsome and well balanced.)

 

 

January 18, 1963.

 

A little fact is worth a limbo of dreams.

I woke up today with a ferocious headache. It was followed by the usual depression for the rest of the day. I fought it by trying to sleep in off. When that did not work, I fantasized about becoming a wealthy hero.

Ah, I need to prepare for my personal property exam.

 

(Besides taking refuge in fantasy whenever I ran into problems, I also convinced myself I was an incurable depressive. Both delusions have lasted my entire life.)

 

 

January 19, 1963.

 

I read an article by H. L. Mencken today. His cynicism must be irresistible to those who doubt as much as I do. Perhaps ontologically he is right, all is doubt, all is changing and beyond our grasp. Then again maybe he is wrong. Psychologically, he may have scored a bullseye, however, by pointing out that belief in oneself allows us to unify the exterior world and enables us to act, produce and contribute to it.

The problem, I think, is how do we express ourselves? Not, I am sure by the drivel I have written here — I do not even know if I have been lying to myself. Maybe this page should begin:

Those who believe they know something completely are usually wrong.

 

(Twenty-three-year-olds who believe they know something. anything, are always wrong)

 

 

January 20, 1963.

 

What have I done today that makes me proud? Absolutely nothing. At least I can do no worse tomorrow.

Last night as I struggled to sleep, I tried to remember something I had done of which I was Proud. I came up empty there too.
Pat gave me some information that may be useful for the Puerto Rico trip. I need to get my brother Jimmy a free trip.

 

(“At least I can do no worse.” One thing I found out in the almost sixty years of my life since then is that I certainly can.)

 

 

January 21, 1963.

 

The study group today went better than usual. Ora seemed to grasp this subject better than he usually does. Personal property will most likely be our most difficult exam.

I need to get a date for Mike’s party on Saturday. But who?

Why the hell can I seem only to write trivialities? Am I so shallow? Probably.

Today was cold.

My brother Jim seems distraught. I think it is that college freshman sickness where the student takes himself and everything happening to him to seriously. Although it probably will pass, it could be dangerous. He needs watching.

 

(My brother started art school. He always dressed in a jacket and tie. The other students made fun of him. Eventually, he conceded but always remained the best-dressed artist around.

As to my shallowness, there is no probability about it.)

 

 

January 23, 1963.

 

After much procrastination, I called Bobbie. I thought I handled it well. Perhaps I will be able to find a way around my prejudice. That would be something to be proud of.

I got a date with Stephanie for February 1. I called her at work. She seems more pleasant than before.

I have my personal property exam tomorrow. I believe my problem stems from my failure to read the questions properly. I hope to do better tomorrow.

I no longer suffer shattered confidence when those I know appear to know more than I do about something or have accomplished more. Now I make a note of what knowledge I lack or set a new goal to surpass them.

About Bobbie, I discovered two sheets of paper dated January 7, 1963, hidden between the pages later in my diary, I include them here now:

“I received my reply from Lawyer’s Library Club. I cannot make up my mind which books to buy because I have no idea of their quality.

Yesterday Al said it would be better that I do not date Bobbie because it would be detrimental to my career because she is Jewish and Married. This upset me. I am tempted to change my decision and begin dating her again.

It revolts me when convention becomes as unfair as this. I want to reach out and smash this like someone bashing the head of a rattlesnake preparing to strike.

The reports of the Boston Strangler slayings to me are both horrible and fascinating.

 

The second sheet of paper had no date. I do not know whether it was written at the same time and the first sheet. I include it here assuming both notes were written at the same time.

 

At the party last night Bobbie disclosed that had been married. Why I mused, do people seem to choose to make dramatic announcements at dramatic events or times.

I felt closer to her than ever before. Later appeared to turn colder to me. I cannot explain why I felt so close to her. Perhaps I never will. Nevertheless, I believe our relationship is over.

Bobbie has made my thoughts dwell less on the past and concentrate on this one that is not really important.

I admit her legs were warm, inviting, as my hand moved along them while we sat in the darkness. The memories of pleasure past and dreams of future pleasure unite to heighten the pleasures of the moment. I will miss that more than anything, I think.

Al Spengler drove me home. I owe him.

(At that time in the early sixties New York we lived in separate communities, more of less — The Italian and Irish Catholic communities, The Jewish community, the black community, the Puerto Rican community, and so on with a white Protestant living in remote ghettos everywhere and running all those things remote from the neighborhoods. It was expected one would not marry outside one’s ethnic community and religion. It was also expected that one would seek work in those communities or with organizations run by the white Protestants. It was both difficult and uncommon to step away from our communities then. College was one way. We the young also had spending money or youthful ancestors never had. This all culminated in the false dawn of the late ’60s when we were persuaded we could leave that all behind, with a little music and little dope and a good dose of recreational sex.

At least my 1963 self, as much as I find him a jerk, seems to have come to a dull awareness of some of the chains that bind him. I can attest that even now 60 years later some of them still do.

Bobbie seemed important to me in 1963. Alas, here in 2019 I do not remember her at all.)

 

 

 

 

TODAYS FACTOID:

 

 

Abraham Lincoln: Besides being a distinguished attorney, President of the United States and a well-known depressive he was also an accomplished poet. Here is one of his short poems:

Abraham Lincoln,
His hand and pen:
He will be good but
God knows When.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. A Barely Begun Story on Top:

 

While rummaging through some forgotten scraps in the bowels of my computer, I came across the following effort to write a story. It contains barely two paragraphs, but I was attracted to its title and by the pseudonym, I chose for the author:
GOD IS A TRANSEXUAL STREET WALKER IN BANGKOK
Malcolm “Luke” DeLucca

He leaned against the wall in the tiny alley throwing up everything he had in his stomach. He felt like he was dying. No, more like he wanted to die. It could not have been the few beers he had downed at Hillary’s 4, the bar on Soi Nana next to the entrance to Nana Plaza, one of Bangkok’s flesh emporiums. It was probably something he ate at one of the sidewalk food stands that line the street nearby.

After the retching stopped he slowly sunk down on his haunches being careful to avoid any part of his body touching the muck he disgorged a few inches away. He could barely move. His head hung between his knees and he but stared intently at a spot on the ground directly in front of his eyes. He still wanted to die. The sickness made it…”

At that point, I stopped for some reason. I recall that I intended that time to have the drunken farang meet a beautiful transexual in that dank alley. She claims she is God and had chosen the life of a transexual prostitute in Bangkok because she was bored with heaven and felt she would meet a better class of people here in the sordid alleyways of “the village of wild plums” then she did in the land beyond the pearly gates. I never got around to finishing it though. I guess it is the thought that counts.

As for the pen-name I had chosen, I have no idea where that came from. I knew a kid named Louie De Lucca when I was a kid back in Tuckahoe. Why I would want to memorialize him as the author of a story like this, I haven’t the foggiest — I actually liked the kid.

 

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Shouldn’t we consider it a greater insult to the American flag or anthem to display the Confederate Battle Flag or the Swastika, both of which represent not only gross inhumanity but also those who sought to replace our flag, anthem and way of life and replace them with their flags, anthems and reprehensible ideals, then it is to take a knee to protest injustice, which by the way is a constitutionally protected act?

 

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 
What Was Your Name in the States?
by Anonymous

Oh, what was your name in the States?
Was it Thompson or Johnson or Bates?
Did you murder your wife
And fly for your life?
Say, what was your name in the States?

This poem and song was common during the Gold Rush. It describes the nature of many of the first pioneers to emigrate into California and savagely fall upon the unsuspecting indigenous people and pristine resources of the area. These murderers, the thieves, the psychopaths, the loners unable to prosper in the more civilized parts of the world arrived first, often under assumed names, and created the ethical basis upon the society they built that is, in part, every bit as despicable as that society that developed under slavery. In California, they obliterated the indigenous people rather than building an economy around enslaving them. The rape of the State’s natural resources with psychopathic abandon continued, however, well into the later part of the 20th Century and became the foundation of its economy until replaced, in part, by defense industries and the digital revolution.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 
“We’ll keep a crystal vase near our pink and blue pillows, and after we wish and then after we kiss, we’ll lower our faces to the very brim, the very delicate edge of the crystal vase, and then we’ll let the syrup flow from our eyes into the gentle crystal vase. And every Christmas and every Easter and every other holiday known to man, we’ll feed the syrup to our seventeen children, and they will remain children forever. Their imaginations will be in full bloom forever…and they will never die. Everything will be forever…”
-Leonard Melfi from TIMES SQUARE.

 

Melfi, the well known off-Broadway playwright, an old friend who I last saw in the mid-sixties when we got very drunk in a friends apartment in Greenwich Village and believed in our boozy stupor that we had solved a notorious mass murder of the time only to discover a few years later we were utterly wrong. He died alone in 2002 at Mount Sinai Hospital of congestive heart failure due in part to his alcoholism. His body was misplaced and discovered four months later in a potter’s grave in Queens. His brother had him exhumed, flown to his home town of Binghamton NY, and following a funeral service and Catholic mass buried in his family plot. He would have appreciated the melodrama. Alas, nothing is forever.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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My Grandson Anthony Laying Flowers at the Grave of My Parents.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Joe 0008 (August 6, 2009)

 

“UBUNTU”
I am because we are.”

 

“Top Tip: If you find yourself ‘speaking the hard truth’ that ‘we are all to blame,’ this a good indicator that in fact you, in particular, are to blame.”
KJ Healy

Happy Birthday Katie Dreaper

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Today, I awoke feeling chipper (an appropriate but seldom used word). After a good nights sleep, I was awakened by the bright sunlight slanting through the shutter’s slats and onto the bed. The still air of morning moderated the heat of what was destined to become a sultry scorching day. The sound of the dog barking at every squirrel and cat in the neighborhood that chanced to step within fifty feet of the house accompanied me into the kitchen. Two Thomas’ Original English Muffins lay on my plate all crispy and slathered in butter and fig preserve. The coffee hot and especially tasty made the morning complete.

I was sitting in my reclining chair enjoying the morning, happily dunking my muffins into the cup of coffee when Naida came downstairs ready to leave for a day at the Fair selling her books. She wore tight dark navy blue slacks and a very attractive navy blue blouse. She asked me how she looked.

I felt a bit of jealousy as I looked her over imagining the 70 and 80-year-old lotharios at the Fair joking with her and sweet-talking her. Now you may think that boinking and boffing among 80 year-olds is an image best avoided and that in our dotage jealousy is far from our minds — we being more mature and significantly less capable. On the contrary, even in our decrepitude, we are as randy as ever and far less constrained by social mores.

Upon first reaching the not so tender age at which I have recently arrived, this state of affairs surprised me. I thought the days of sweaty nights, and ceaseless desire was behind and if truth be known, beyond me (although I believe I remain a pretty good kisser, hugger and nibbler of ears).

A month or so ago, an elderly gentleman (younger than me, alas) moved into the empty house next to ours and immediately began energetically chatting up Naida until the man who lived in the house across the way told him to knock it off since she already had a significant other. Now, this amused me greatly. I realized we had reached that age where we became teenagers again.

In keeping with my newly revived teenager-hood, I entertained myself with thoughts of smacking him across the head with my cane. In my adolescence, I may have done so were we standing toe to toe, bathing in testosterone and shouting at each other. I would, however, never go in search of someone in order to deliver the blow, comforting myself with the fiction I would do so were we ever to meet in a dark alley. Now, in my dotage, I am certain almost nothing would prompt me to leave my recliner and certainly not on this lovely morning. Besides, Naida undoubtedly would think I had gone nuts. That is another pleasure of growing old, you can become as crazy as you want in your own mind without feeling guilty or worried about your sanity — after all the next stop on the train is childhood.

Never forget laddie, today is the oldest you’ve ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be. So, enjoy the day. It is never coming around again. And so, I did.

On Friday I took Hayden, Jake, and Kaleb to the State Fair. I picked up Hayden and Jake at Dick’s house. They were lazing in HRM’s teen-ager cave. A few more wall posters have been added to the decor and the small fridge is now full of soft drinks. We then picked up Kaleb at his mother’s apartment. During the drive to the Fair, I listened to teen-talk — about cars and motorcycles and what they would do once they get their driver’s license.

At the Fair, I left the three of them to wander about while I sat in air-conditioned building A eating a Cinnabon. We did visit the animal barns together. Today was sheep, longhorn cattle, and llama day. There was one section that featured attack llamas. Large vicious-looking beasts trained to protect herds of sheep from wolves and coyotes.

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Jake, HRM, and Kaleb at the Fair standing near the Attack Llamas pen.

 
When I got home that evening and told Naida about the attack llamas, she asked, “What could they fight with, they have no fangs and their hooves are not that hard?” “Spit,” I responded. “Wolves and coyotes are very fastidious. They do not like to be spat upon.”

We then had dinner and Naida told me the story of the two angora goats she owned when she lived with Bill on the ranch along the Cosumnes River. It was a long and fascinating story of escape, punishment, sorrow, affection, return the use of angora fleece for hair on dolls and the ability of acacia trees to repel giraffes.

I think this is a good time to insert one of my favorite Ogden Nash poems:

The one L lama, he’s a priest
The two L llama, he’s a beast
And I will bet my silk pyjama
There isn’t any three L lllama.
— O. Nash, to which a fire chief replied that occasionally his department responded to something like a “three L lllama.”

All things considered, it was a good day in spite of the heat and the national news.

The next day I left for the Bay Area for my sister’s birthday party at her daughter’s home in Oakland.

 

 

B. A BRIEF TRIP TO THE EAST BAY:
The traffic was brutal on I-80 that morning. It took almost three hours to travel the 90 miles from Sacramento to Oakland. I arrived at a rather fancy apartment complex in a newly built-up section of Oakland. Thirty-years ago during the eight years I was the director of the State Coastal Conservancy, my office was situated in downtown Oakland. Often, I visited this area at lunchtime since there were a few decent restaurants I liked that had located in the mostly empty decaying warehouses that then marked the neighborhood. About 15 years later, the younger Shorenstein and Pappadopolus teamed up to propose to the then-Mayor Jerry Brown, a massive development project in the area. It was about then that I last ventured into Oakland. Terry and I had proposed to Mayor Jerry, the rehabilitation of the old Fox theater that recently had been landmarked. The deal ultimately fell through as they almost always did whenever Terry and I teamed up.

Katie, Maryanne’s daughter, and her intended Quinn live in one of two newly constructed buildings built by the same developer. Inside, it is lavishly equipped with everything the young techies would want, a super large exercise room, swimming pool, and even a coffee and wine lounge. On the roof where the party was held, a large party terrace had been built equipped with a huge television screen, kitchen, and even a fire sculpture with real fire. Perhaps its purpose was not art but for toasting marshmallows.

IMG_6539

 

On the outside, the public amenities were less lavish. On the good side, the first level was well stocked with spaces for shops. I saw a barbershop and a tavern open with tables and chairs on the sidewalk outside. Less happy is the lack of greenery and pedestrian amenities.

I enjoyed the party. Members of Maryanne’s cooking group were there along with some of her friends from when she lived in Berkley. I had some enjoyable conversations about drugs, living in Costa Rica and food.

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Maryanne, her daughter Katie and the Birthday Cake.

 
After the party, I drove to 4th Street in Berkeley to meet with Terry. I had not been to 4th street in over twenty years. I marveled at how little had changed — the same Peet’s Coffee, kitchen shop, cafe, paper shop and so on. I met Terry at Peet’s and we reminisced over our past legislative battles. Prompted by my behind the scenes story here in T&T about the passage of the Coastal Act, Terry described the background of the enactment of his legislation prohibiting LNG terminals in California. Governor Brown opposed Terry’s bill. Eventually, Terry won but at the cost of his removal as the author of the bill. I then told about my CEQUA reform bill. It was drafted in response to a court victory for CEQA but considered too environmental to pass the Senate. Nevertheless, we did pass it in that house. Unfortunately, in the Assembly, Speaker McCarthy told us that the price of approval was that, like Terry with the LNG bill, Senator Smith had to be removed as author and Assemblyman Art Agnos inserted in his place. So it goes in the hurly-burly of politics.

We then decided to get a drink at a restaurant nearby. I ordered prosecco and he a red wine from Lombardy. We sat in front of a display of shucked oysters. Suddenly, I felt a great urge to have some. I had not eaten an oyster in years. In fact, I had not eaten much of interest since my most recent illness began. So, we ordered some Kumamoto Oysters. Later, on my drive back to the Enchanted Forest, I reminisced about one of my favorite eateries, the Oyster Bar in New York’s Grand Central Station. I would stop there almost every evening after I left my office in Rockefeller Center. And even after leaving NY, I would try to stop there whenever I returned for a visit. I remember sitting there at the Oyster Bar with my son Jason. We had stopped in NY on our way back to Europe. It was the first time he had tried Oysters. His verdict, “interesting.”

 
C. ONCE MORE IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
The next day I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM, Jake, Kaleb, and Ethan. They wanted me to drive them to Costco for lunch. For some reason, they believe that Costco’s pizza is the best in the area.

Today is Tuesday. It is early afternoon. It has been about two days since the trip to Costco with the Scooter Gang. I recall nothing that may have happened since then except Naida and I had dinner at a local Indian restaurant and went shopping at Raley’s. That means, as far as I am concerned, nothing else existed for two days but for that dinner at the local Indian restaurant and shopping at Raley’s. Life is brief, but if I don’t record it here it is briefer still. I guess that is one reason for keeping a journal.

For some reason, despite shedding myself of everything at least four times in my life, two diaries I had kept way back in the early sixties remained with me. Some time ago, I decided to read one written in 1960, I think. The entire diary consisted only of a story about a torrid but doomed love affair that began in January of that year and ended appropriately in December. Despite what from the Diary appeared to be a momentous romance, I recalled nothing about it. Not even the women’s name that for some reason never appeared in the Diary. Does that mean the love affair never existed until that day I happened to pick up that Diary and read it? Then again, maybe I made it all up, but why?

Perhaps, I will copy it out and write it as a story — Poe like. The old man on a dreary night in bleak December sits alone by the fire — no no-one has a fireplace any more — by the flickering light of the computer screen. He picks up the long-forgotten diary and begins to read… Nevermore… Hmm, could her name have been Lenore? Alas, as far as I recall, there were no Raven’s in Tuckahoe, NY.

Later in the afternoon Naida and I ate at one of my favorite places in Sacramento. — Not for the quality of the food but because of the lovely outdoor garden to eat it in.

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Pookie in the Tower Cafe garden.

 

 
D. BACK AGAIN TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

Once again it was time to return to the Bay Area for my immunotherapy treatment. On Wednesday, Naida and I left Capitol City for Peter and Barrie’s house. After a rather uneventful drive, we arrived to find the house delightfully full of people. We were greeted not only by Peter and Barry, but also by their two granddaughters both under four years of age, Alex their father (Peter and Barrie’s son), and Peter’s brother’s son’s two teenage daughters. The granddaughters were suitably giggly and alternated shyness with jumping into your arms for a hug. The teenagers exhibited the usual reserve of teenagers observing us Vecchi as though we were not completely grown up. They did happily carry the little ones around in their arms whenever they felt the need for affection and security. Alex was fatherly stern while Peter, Barrie and we smiled happily at the turmoil.

As usual, Barrie made something tasty and interesting for dinner. She made it from a recipe given to her by a woman from India. Its main ingredients consisted of yams and pineapple-infused hot dogs. I found it delicious.

The following morning, after goodbyes and hugs all around, we left for the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor told us that the CT scans showed that the tumor had not grown (good for me). Unfortunately, it also showed what looked like a dormant clot in my lung. The doctor then scheduled a sonogram on my legs to be performed directly after the infusion. Following those two procedures, the doctors at my request removed my PICC line freeing me to swim and travel. We then returned the oncologists office and he informed me that another dormant clot had b found behind my left knee and so, in order to be on the safe side, he prescribed a very expensive anticoagulant. I am unsure whether I prefer a long painful death as cancerous cells devour my insides or sudden death from a surprise heart attack or stroke.

On the way back to the Enchanted Forest, we stopped at a senior development in Davis to see if it was someplace we would like to move to as we grow older. It was an elegant fairly high priced center with many benefits. The residents were mostly professors and other professionals. It is a highly desirable senior community with a long waiting list. It gave me the creeps. Not because of anything about the development, but because although my body may be falling apart my mind feels young and vigorous (except for memory problems). It made me feel as though I would be in prison while I waited to die. Some of the residents we talked to do not think that is the case. They still travel and enjoy themselves. I guess soon it will become time to face the fact that taking care of a house, shopping and things like that begin to steal from the time one has left.

 

 

D. AN AFTERNOON IN THE GOLDEN HILLS WITH HRM AND THE SCOOTER GANG:

 
During the morning of the next day, I received a call from HRM requesting I take the Scooter Gang to lunch. In keeping with my obligations as chauffeur and comic relief, I leaped from my recliner, grabbed my cane and hat, kissed the dog, said so-long to Naida, walked to the car and drove off into the Golden Hills.

The gang was at Kaleb’s house. HRM, Kaleb (tall and skinny) Jake (tall, long-haired) and Ethan (not so tall, not so skinny and not so long-haired) piled into the car. (Hamza, another member of the gang, was spending the summer in Morocco at the small town from which his family migrated. When asked how he liked spending summers in Morocco he usually replies “I hate it. It’s a shithole.” ) They asked to be driven to a new, fast-food fried chicken place in Folsom they wanted to try out (they all are breaking out with adolescent acne. Nevertheless, fried foods remain at the top of their teenage food pyramid.)

As I drove, I listened to the teen-age chatter. I worry about these kids. Although they live in an upscale suburb, they believe themselves poor and each one has his own set of problems. Kaleb, in addition to his difficult home life, suffers from some sort of heart trouble. At lunch after eating he vomited up everything he had eaten. The others said he does that often. Perhaps that is why he is so skinny. Jake has a steel bar through his chest to hold it up. Whether it was to remedy a birth defect or to correct a later injury, I do not know. I was told he also has a pinhole opening in his heart. Ethan seems to have no physical problems, but his mother was murdered and his father went to prison for killing the man who killed his mother. He is out of prison now but does not live with Ethan. Ethan lives with his grandmother. As they grow older and school and family provide less and less of a nurturing environment they seem slowly to becoming slackers and are gradually slipping into nihilism. I try to offer them a bit of mature companionship, some sophomoric words of wisdom, and a little encouragement but I am afraid, in the long run, it will not be enough.

 

 

E. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
On Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Clubhouse. Because Naida was busy at the Fair, we have not attended one of these for over a month. I enjoyed being there and actually talked to people rather than sitting off to the side watching.

The rest of the day, N worked on her Memoir while I reviewed the latest from the 49rs training camp, reading Herman Melville’s comic novel Pierre: The Ambiguities and playing on Facebook.

We also watched the news. There have been two assault rife massacres in the US within a week. The first at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California and now today in El Paso Texas. The assassins in both cases were young white men professing an alt-right point of view and a hatred of Latino immigrants The response from the right and the Republican politicians appear to be coalescing around characterizing these men as disturbed and focussing the remedy on identification and removal rather than on the ideology that inspires them or the weapons that enables them. This approach arms the police only with a vague and arbitrary standard that is difficult to understand and implement and easily subverted by politics or ideology. Why empower often poorly educated and trained but heavily armed police to make decisions on issues where even those who study them disagree, rather than simply requiring them to remove the means of mass mayhem and urging the media and the spokesmen for society to condemn the ideology that motivated them?
.
In the evening, we watched “A Dry White Season” with Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando a movie about the Soweto uprising. It gave both of us nightmares. Not simply because of the horrors inflicted on the repressed members of that society, but it also seems to be occurring here.

The next day it was more of the same. We awoke to the news of another mass killing. This time in Dayton Ohio. We spent the rest of the day as we usually do, in the studio working in the case of Naida and playing as generally do. Wondering whether this is another existential threat to our society and what we at 80 years of age can do about it. Vote of course, but that simply does not seem to be enough.

Take care of yourselves and remember always:

th

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

During my life, more than a few times, I have abandoned everything, taking only a suitcase and leaving all else behind — From New York, to King of Prussia Pennsylvania; from there to Rome Italy and then back to Naw York; then to Cape Cod; then across the continent to San Francisco; then to Chiang Mai Thailand, followed by Jomtien Beach and Bangkok; then back to the US to El Dorado Hills and finally to Sacramento. Through all those changes, I was rarely accompanied by more than a single suitcase.

Every time I opened that suitcase, I would find two diaries at the bottom. One from 1963 and the other from 1964. One with a brown cover and one with a red. I do not know why they were there. I never remembered packing them and rarely, if ever opened them. Instead, I would throw them into the bottom of the drawer there to remain unopened until I moved again. A few weeks ago, I opened the one from 1963 (brown cover).

I decided to post the entries here. I do not recall most of what was written there including many of the people and events mentioned and certainly not my thoughts and interpretations of them. Although I am sure the diaries were written by me (I recognize the penmanship), I do not recognize that me. I was a bit of a shit. Probably always have been. I cannot apologize for what I wrote or did. It is what it is. I was callow and shallow, sex-obsessed, and had not yet experienced the magical but alas ultimately fraudulent liberation of the Hippy Years.

I have added some commentary from myself to myself from 60 years later — sort of like a memoir with a critique of my young self by my old self. But who will critique my old self? Worms, I guess.

January 2, 1963

I drove my brother Jim to Pratt University in Brooklyn where he attends art school.

I must not waste time. I do not know why I feel the need to accomplish anything but I believe I should not aspire to accomplish nothing.

(Hmm…)

January 3, 1963

A classmate said to me today, “I do not remember you. Who are you?” It completely shattered my confidence.

Later, Tony said, “You will get a bad reputation if you continue to speak like that.” Dick then said, “Maybe that is what you want.” Perhaps it is.

Perhaps I despise myself enough to want to destroy myself by a bad reputation. After all, although a bad reputation is often pleasantly wicked, a good one, I guess, is worth living for. I try to be good and honest but trying to be while struggling to avoid hypocrisy, I often manage to bungle it and then if not to become ostracized then to be considered odd, and in this case bad.

(What the hell was that all about?)

January 4, 1963.

“To dream is to taste heaven.”

I spoke to professor O’Keefe today. He advised me to stay out of my brother’s lawsuit. O’Keefe loves to talk, like an old woman, but with a more spicy vocabulary.

Today, I felt good, because I topped several of my fellow students. Tomorrow, I’ll probably feel bad again when they top me.

My parents’ party this evening annoys me. I cannot get to sleep. Perhaps my mother is right, they are a most unusual collection of people. (Rae Fred’s mistress seems to have a roving eye. However she is 45 at least — well maybe that is not too bad.)

(Well, aren’t you the prissy little shit.)

January 5, 1963

“Passion is often the wellspring of action.”

We had an excellent study session. I need to memorize more if I am to get a good mark on the exam.

I saw Stephanie at school. She is looking better. Perhaps I will begin dating her again.

I have decided to try for the summer internship program with the Federal government.

My start in politics begins tomorrow. We will see if I can play the political game. I had better be able to.

(Ambitious little punk aren’t you? What the hell are those little sayings at the beginning supposed to mean? Why are they here?)

January 7, 1963

“Fortunes always make manners.”

On Sunday, I attended the Young Democrats of Yonkers meeting. I did well. Most of my proposals were accepted into the new constitution. Jack Tobin and Tony Russo are the men to watch. Jack is a big fellow with a strong even voice — very persuasive, articulate and ambitious. Tony is a straight politician from the old school.

I must use to my advantage the clause in the constitution requiring a Ward Leader to have ten members behind him in order to vote or have it changed.

Things are looking up for the tour business. I need to keep my fingers crossed. It all is too uncertain.

I am worried about the exams. I need to fight hard to get a high position in the class.

Today, I saw a girl with the prettiest ass I have seen in a long time.

(More naked ambition and a bit of chauvinism too.)

January 8, 1963.

It is pride that makes the blood noble.

I finally met Pat at the bus stop. We had a general conversation about this and that, then she mentioned her boyfriend. That put a crimp in my plans. She is not really pretty, but she is attractive. She lacks that dull dead-eyed look of photographers models that are supposed to be beautiful. Her eyes are alive.

I will not go to the general meeting of the Young Democrats tonight. I need to study. I feel good that today’s efforts seem to be paying off.

I hear my parents arguing over something. I need to get back to my studies.

(This is a little better except for that bit about pride at the beginning.)

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 
At its earliest, life begins at implantation, not at conception.

“There is no big bang, no ‘moment’ in conception. There are a half dozen processes that must occur before an egg is fertilized and the processes take about 24 hours. More than half of those will never become a live birth because they are not implanted in the womb. At its earliest life begins at implantation.

“And how are those zygotes, those fertilized eggs that are more sacred than a pregnant woman treated? They are flushed from the body like human waste. Neither religion nor government make any effort to give them rights or rites. No effort is made to save them or give them dignity. There are no pickets, no protests, no parades, no threats of violence, no homicides.”
American Jews Lose Religious Freedom — Robert Flynn
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/7/27/1874872/-American-Jews-Lose-Religious-Freedom?utm_campaign=recent

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Colavito takes on the Russians and their Space Alien allies.

 
I am growing quite fond of Colavito and his battle against the clithonic purveyors of conspiracy theories who prowl the sewers of our nation. In one of his most recent posts, he takes on the Majestic-12 documents that purport to be US government documents related to a council of scientists and military officials who in 1947 supposedly studied recovered alien spacecraft and communicated with their occupants. He also critiques an author, Nick Redfern, who believes among other things it is all a Russian plot. Colavito writes:

“Redfern’s first article discusses 47 pages of MJ-12 documents publicized by Heather Wade in 2017. These pages include a supposed 1947 interview with a space alien, who criticizes Western civilization, comparing the United States to Nazi Germany. When an American boasts about Western freedom, the alien retorts like any good Russian chauvinist, by likening Jim Crow to the Holocaust: “…tell that to the millions of Hebrews your western civilization has destroyed in the past decade, or the millions of Negro families whose sons died to stop the madman Hitler, but who do not have plumbing in their homes.”

“Aliens are rather specific in their criticisms.”

Colavito goes on:

“Redfern overstates the case for the documents being a 1980s Soviet hoax. Redfern couldn’t date the hoax, speculating that it occurred sometime between the 1980s and 2007, but we can be more specific. The hoax document makes a bizarre reference: “…in a remote part of the nation you call Yugoslavia, we visited and helped the people there to build a very advanced culture over seven thousand years ago.” This is a fairly transparent reference to the so-called Bosnian pyramids, natural formations that Semir Osmanagić has promoted since 2005 as the remains of a lost civilization known as the Illyrians, who lived in the region around 7,000 year ago. In 2017, he expanded his claim out to 34,000 years. Besides this obvious temporal signature, Redfern’s claim that the alien’s reference to Yugoslavia gives glory to communism isn’t a marker or Russian chauvinism since Yugoslavia broke with Moscow at the start of the Cold War and was at odds with much of the communist world down to the collapse of communism in 1989.

“In the second and third articles, Redfern states that two earlier batches of Majestic-12 documents are also the work of Russian propagandists, including the infamous first set from the 1980s that were investigated by the FBI and determined to be fake. The second set from the 1990s seemed to reflect Russian conspiracy theories that America had developed the AIDS virus as a bioweapon.

“Redfern doesn’t provide direct evidence that the documents were created by Russia, though he raises several important instances where the Majestic-12 documents reflect anti-American conspiracy theories. That said, while Russia may be the most likely source, there are plenty of others with anti-American views who might also have been responsible. It’s an interesting circumstantial case, and one worth reading, but I would have liked to see more direct evidence connecting the documents to Russia.”

I have always found most conspiracy theories entertaining. They resemble the fantasy novels I enjoy reading. However, the modern conspiracy theorists have ceased being the tellers of the amusing stories of fantasists but only too often the deranged gunman in the shadows firing bullets of perfidy at the heart of democracy and civilization.

 

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
Power is a drink that always makes you thirsty for more.

 

C. Today’s Poem:

Cloony The Clown by Shel Silverstein
I’ll tell you the story of Cloony the Clown
Who worked in a circus that came through town.
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.

He had a trombone to play loud silly tunes,
He had a green dog and a thousand balloons.
He was floppy and sloppy and skinny and tall,
But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.

And every time he did a trick,
Everyone felt a little sick.
And every time he told a joke,
Folks sighed as if their hearts were broke.

And every time he lost a shoe,
Everyone looked awfully blue.
And every time he stood on his head,
Everyone screamed, “Go back to bed!”

And every time he made a leap,
Everybody fell asleep.
And every time he ate his tie,
Everyone began to cry.

And Cloony could not make any money
Simply because he was not funny.
One day he said, “I’ll tell this town
How it feels to be an unfunny clown.”

And he told them all why he looked so sad,
And he told them all why he felt so bad.
He told of Pain and Rain and Cold,
He told of Darkness in his soul,

And after he finished his tale of woe,
Did everyone cry? Oh no, no, no,
They laughed until they shook the trees
With “Hah-Hah-Hahs” and “Hee-Hee-Hees.”

They laughed with howls and yowls and shrieks,
They laughed all day, they laughed all week,
They laughed until they had a fit,
They laughed until their jackets split.

The laughter spread for miles around
To every city, every town,
Over mountains, ‘cross the sea,
From Saint Tropez to Mun San Nee.

And soon the whole world rang with laughter,
Lasting till forever after,
While Cloony stood in the circus tent,
With his head drooped low and his shoulders bent.

And he said,”THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT-
I’M FUNNY JUST BY ACCIDENT.”
And while the world laughed outside.
Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.

 
D. Today’s Haikus:

 
The Indomitable Oak Haiku

 

Of all the trees here,
the indomitable oak
is my favorite.

 
Sweet is the water

 

Sweet is the water
that satisfies long held thirst
at a journey’s end

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Misogyny is easy to locate and to cite in the texts from antiquity, but biological race was not a recognized category in the ancient world.[1] As historian of slavery Omar H. Ali has stated, race is not a product of genetics or biology, but is rather a “function of power.” Ali remarks that the empowered also create definitions for society: “(those in power disproportionately determine standards of beauty, morality, comportment, and intellect), race, like all other identities, has been a constructed and shifting term in world history.” Analyzing how white men have created and imposed definitions that benefit themselves is pivotal to understanding both racism and misogyny in our current political climate.”
Book Note | Not All Dead White Men by Sarah Bond in Book Notes (https://www.ancientjewreview.com/articles/2018/10/9/book-note-not-all-dead-white-men#_ftn2)

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