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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Randomized Ruminating a la Mode

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Things I've attempted to ponder so you hopefully won't need to...

Whenever I jot down a note, I make sure to carefully preface it with the words "Note to self:". That way, I won't think that it was a note to someone else, because sometimes I'll be thumbing through my notes and I'll think, "Who did I write this for?"

Partial honesty technically contains honesty, and it isn't such a bad policy either. If I dent someone's car in a parking lot, I dutifully put a note on their windshield with the name and phone number of a co-worker. I like bringing people together.

Athletes commonly employ the philosophical device of tautology within their interpretive analysis of sporting results. When asked why they lost a contest, invariably they thoughtfully conclude "We just didn't make the plays." This paucity of substantive depth to their analysis is itself a contributing factor in their inability to attain victory, turning the very process of the contest into its own form of self-referential rhetoric.

Don't take this statement literally. Take it figuratively, and that way when I say to not take it literally, you actually will take it literally, because you were taking it figuratively. But if I'm telling you to take it figuratively and you literally take it figuratively, you're still not following my request. Therefore you have to not be serious about following my request in order to follow it. I do this all the time with my kids, by the way.

Anytime outlaws were on the wanted list in the old days, the posters said either "Wanted: Dead or Alive" or "Wanted: Alive," but I don't ever recall seeing any that said just "Wanted: Dead." Whenever they didn't care if they were dead, they would still leave the option up to the captor, which I thought was a rather generous gesture. Yeah, kill 'em if you want, but I'm not too particular...

You don't have to get up all that early in the morning to fool me, because I'm still asleep then. On weekends, I can still be fooled up until 9:30 a.m. And you usually have some extra time between the time I wake up and when I eat breakfast to continue having me fooled. But at night, ah... that's when it's hardest to fool me. You have to go to bed pret-ty late in the evening to fool me.

The kids went to bed a couple hours ago so that Christmas would come sooner for them. A night of sleeping to those who are sleeping seems like about 15 minutes, give or take a few R.E.M.'s or UB40's. So if they went to sleep 2 hours ago, for them it's already Christmas. But if I go in and wake them up right now at midnight, then they go backward in time to now. Although if I stay up later every night, they might be seven years ahead of me anyway.

People sometimes say they are alive and well, when if they merely said 'well', we could infer the rest. They could be alive and not well, or not alive and not well (which would be more difficult to announce), or alive and well. The only one with well also has alive, so it doesn't take a nuclear physicist specializing in anthropology to make the deductions. As Henry David Cornelius James Thoreau said, "Simplify 3x."

A faux pas is about the worst thing you could do in social situations. Try to avoid them at all costs. The social situations, that is. If you don't get near the faux pas, you won't get burned — although a flood will probably wash you away anyway.

Cleaning is working on an ideal. Closer inspection reveals it's not how clean your surroundings are that makes you happy, but how well you can adapt to your surroundings. Don't try to make things cleaner — just enjoy whatever mess you find yourself in. The real cleanliness is simply a state of mind. After all, the universe keeps wanting to revert back toward chaos. It's trying to tell us something valuable.

If we didn't have any itches, then it would kind of take the fun out of scratching, wouldn't it? That's why we ought not revile the itch, but rather capitalize on it and use it to our advantage. Itches are our friends.

I can never tell whether someone is talking in paragraphs, or just sentences. What's the equivalent of a carriage return in speech? And don't they also have to indent the first line? It's very difficult to detect. I mean, sure, they pause here and there, but a pause could also indicate a new stanza, act, or chapter. I tried OCR-ing someone yesterday, and for some reason they got mad.

None of us really has an exact shoe size, even if you include halves. We're all somewhere between two half-sizes. This is rather upsetting to me. I spent about 70 million brain cells thinking about this, although I think they're the kind that are renewable, so I have that going for me.

Our dreams are reflections of our capacity to see beyond the mundane aspects we find in the here and now, to emerge from the grasps of the billowing tide and become airborne as a fugitive in free flight, oblivious to the surrounding elements which would drag us down without freeing ourselves from the beleaguering shackles of rampant pragmatism.

It's easier to tell the truth than to try to cover up a lie with more lies, but then I'm always up for a good challenge. I was raised on the premise that you shouldn't try to take the easy way out.

The mouse in the bathroom this morning was quite startled to see me come in, but I was even more startled to see the mouse. After all, it is a people house, so they should've been expecting me.

The way we learn the meanings of words is from other words we already know the meaning of, or by hearing them in context with words we already know the meaning of, and so ultimately by direct experience. This being the case, how do we directly experience any abstract concepts?

For some reason, after waking up this morning I feel like I can conquer the world... Although that coincides with an expectation that the world will be acting very French today.

And with a wisp, the fabric of their lives became a veritable monument to the transitory notions they had envisioned through once hazy lenses — some parts lackluster and otherwise incomplete, meant as tokens that happenstance is the first order of an untenable outcome.

After all these years I finally got my second wind, and now I don't know what to do with it. I suppose I could exhale, but then that would be rather anticlimactic.

When someone challenges you regarding what difference something makes, ask them what difference it makes to them that you think it makes a difference. Anytime the pursuit of learning is criticized in favor of supposedly not wasting brain cells, know that you can always defeat their attempts at dumbing down by using simple reason. Indifference is never a defense.

If I could just get through today, then I'll have another day after that to get through. And if I can get through that day, then I'll have another day after that to get through. But after that, I'm pretty sure I can coast.

Rusty Southwick incognito, quoting Albert Schweitzer, who was reading an excerpt from B.F. Skinner citing a George Orwell novel where the protagonist takes on the dual persona of Robert Mitchum and Elliott Gould, compared the phenomenon to a Mario Cuomo oratory where his faithful ventriloquist named Leonard does an impersonation of Peter Sellers lip-synching to an old Mel Torme song, with Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

What does it say about the state of relationships that in the entertainment media which reflects life, one of the most prevalent forms of movie themes is the romantic comedy? Having an entire genre devoted to this topic of satirizing the sentimental is a curious sort of commentary on how it functions.

I don't think anything famous was ever said with a mouthful of food. Not absolutely certain about that, though. Anyone know if Confucius was a snacker?

What's with the passionate wedding announcement photos these days? We kind of figured you liked each other since you decided to get hitched and all, but you don't have to go and rub our noses in it...

Our three-year-old has been saying some of the cutest things lately. Wait a minute, it's a midget in disguise. I wonder how long this has been going on?

Only two precious hours remaining in the weekend. Monday is ominously lurking around the corner, but I've got a plan. If I end up splitting myself across multiple dimensions, then that will be an indication it didn't work.

I was just realizing there's toe-tapping music, finger-snapping music, hand-clapping music, knee-slapping music, hip-swaying music, arm-waving music, heel-clicking music, foot-stomping music, chest-thumping music, and head-banging music. It's a wonder there aren't more music-related injuries... I think I'll stay where it's safe with the mind-bending music.

Cell phone usage is sold in minutes instead of hours. because 1800 minutes sounds like a lot more than a measly 30 hours. By the way, I figured out that my car gets 1,584,000 inches per gallon, which is actually quite good. I'd never realized I could go a million and a half inches on only three dollars of gas. I'll have to revise my travel plans now.

Women take pride in being able to ask directions better than men, which is also probably why there weren't very many women explorers that we know about. It's because they got lost looking for somebody to ask. Meanwhile, Lewis and Clark were all over it.

Mixed metaphors are one thing, but compound metaphors, on the other hand, bring greater emphasis instead of obfuscating. Grasping at the last straw in a haystack that broke the camel's back can drill the point home even further, as well as be more memorable. And this is only scratching the tip of the iceberg.

Crisis averted... Bring on the next one. C'mon, bring it on! ... Oh, and I'll have a side of sautéed mushrooms with that also if you don't mind.

What's that word....... it's not angst... it's not bedlam... it's not furor... it's not spelunking... it's not lugubrious... it's not chutzpah... it's not verklempt... it's not rococo... it's not pheromones... it's not farcical... (I figure through the process of elimination I'll eventually get there) ... it's not angioplasty... it's not wunderkind... (please join in at your leisure) ... it's not isthmus...

Did you ever see that Scooby-Doo episode where these people are disguising themselves as paranormals to try to scare people away from a place that contains a secret treasure, Shaggy and Scoob do a musical montage in the middle with the paranormals, and then the perpetrators' masks get taken off at the end and their true identities are revealed? I loved that episode...

I'm not writing specifically to anyone in the present, but you can read along if you want. This is for future generations who pull up these scrolls. Be it known I've been more of a conscientious objector here... although yelling "I object" would get me kicked out of my social groups, so I have to pick my battles, and I've chosen Bull Run and Chickasaw Bayou. It will make more sense as the pieces come together.

There are many things that are warning signs... sirens, horns, flashing lights, yellow tape, beeping, fences, smoke, exclamation points, skull & crossbones, barking, the color red, alarms, nutrition labels, surgeon general's messages, circles with diagonal lines through them, and the hazardous waste symbol.

As we embark on a new year, may we all have the fortitude to not only accomplish what's laid out before us, but to do so with our own personal touch, so that people will know it was us and be glad of it. And if you can't make your own mark, then train a surrogate to mimic you well.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Branching Out to the Bizarre

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We all have different occurrences in our lives that shape our perspectives, either gradually or drastically, often known as watershed moments. Such a moment can potentially be something that transcends your whole world, turning it upside down and challenging every notion you had on a given subject. These don’t have a pattern, but are manifested all over the map. When you had an epiphany, when surreal takes over the real, when the Twilight Zone theme song became your soundtrack, or maybe when you had an a-ha moment seeing the cartoonish “Take on Me” video. It turns into a continual replaying in your mind of Wayne and Garth barking out, “No way!” “Way!” You fight it until you eventually cave, for denial has its own shelf life. We’re all reluctant members of Mythbusters Anonymous, demythifying our own beings right in front of ourselves. It's what we do.
In the seminal scene from “Some Kind of Wonderful” when Eric Stoltz walks outside from his friends party and Mary Stuart Masterson is standing in the middle of the street waiting for him, that was my John Cusack moment from “Say Anything” holding the boombox up above his head, only in a different movie with other actors and without the same props. And the plot was completely different. And John Cusack is more of a comedic actor, while Eric Stoltz is the more versatile of the two. But regardless, you may find your moment is in Casablanca or possibly in Captain Ron, but rest assured they’re ubiquitous. When it happens, you may be caught looking askance with a silly grin on your face, so be cognizant of any cameras in the vicinity attempting to capture the moment.

More watershed moments in various shapes and sizes…

• Finding out at a young age that barbeque sauce contained sugar. This completely shot my worldview. What I had taken for primal delectability was no more than a cruelly administered confectionary mind trick by the powers that be. I had been duped. And the watershed unduped me, painfully so. I grew to learn that the powers that be had other surprises up their collective sleeve.

These moments can be good or bad, illuminating or dispiriting. They come in all flavors. There's no rhyme or reason to them, which makes them problematic to compartmentalize and further keeps them in the mysterious.

• Short track speed skating in the Winter Olympics. Apolo Ohno and Co. caught my attention several years back and haven’t let go. I’ve since become transfixed whenever I see the event, even if it’s a bunch of unknown foreign skaters in a nondescript distance who start out merely looking like they’re out for a leisurely stroll in the park. The fact that Ohno yawns before each event makes it all the more intriguing. Short track skating is like an intricately choreographed dance ensemble where lots of people try to cut in, and it’s mesmerizing to me. If I had enough funds, I would move to Alaska, build a moat around my house and hire six people to skate around it all day long just so I could watch them.

• A basketball is a rock. Who knew? OK… I wouldn’t have suspected that at first, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. It kind of looks like a rock. It’s shaped a lot like a rock, and it’s almost the same color as lava, which eventually turns into a rock.

• In every Paul Newman film. Wait for it… Each viewing of a Newman movie raises his stock even further. He is watershed man personified.

• Learning the true identity of Racer X as Speed Racer’s brother. From that point on, I felt that I understood life better. A mystery had been unfolded to me, and now I was in the know. If you weren’t already aware, I’m only happy to raise that awareness.

• Finding out the walrus was Paul. Who would’ve thought that a large, tusked sea mammal could be an accomplished musician, all the while fooling the throngs of fans coming to his concerts? If I’d been paying closer attention, I would’ve figured it out on my own, but I was naively busy listening to their mind-numbingly expansive catalog.

• Later on discovering that the narwhal was Ringo. That was totally unexpected.

And now we have another marvel below. These are real, in the sense of what we think we perceive as reality, anyway. This changes everything. When a watershed moment hits like this, it jolts what was your reality, and then shifts everything around. You start to question things you’ve previously accepted. A disturbance in the force, if you will. Let us now take a moment to bask in the glow of this wondrous phenomenon. Absorb each photo as a restructuring of your mental DNA. Truly, we don’t-no-anything. I give you… the renegade goats of the Kalahari. Or from somewhere.

I’m glad we could share this moment of high stakes serenity together, courtesy of a few mangy quadrupeds who gathered up the chutzpah to stare down convention and go on to reach new heights of their own.

I like the one at the top of the tree on the left. They could be trying to evolve into flying goats, so theyve got a leg up if thats the case. But if nothing else, I have a new-found admiration for the goats of the world, in their ingenuity, their moxie, their utter disregard for the expectations of others. Who else is stepping so much outside their comfort zone? We should arm these goats with parachutes, hang gliders, stealth fighters, and whatever else they might need to continue their path upward.

This isnt all that unpredictable, on second thought. Note the cleverly designed hooves for naturally adapting to their habitat of — all right, so they weren’t meant for climbing trees. Perhaps their horns make them predisposed to stick them in the wood or… OK, maybe not. They have tails, right? They wrap their tails around the branches and swing themselves across… well, not exactly. Hmmph.

If goats can climb trees, then what this means is that all bets are off. What you thought you knew just got blown to smithereens. Say goodbye to concrete reality and hello to a continual cement mixer pouring scads of undried pavement into your psyche. These may actually be considered enjoyable discoveries, even though they send you all the way back down the big slide of Chutes and Ladders. I never quite understood that game anyway, because going down the slide should be the funnest part. But if all learning were linear, it would grow tiresome. Despite our intentions of keeping knowledge on a straight course, we’re constantly reminded that knowledge isn’t beholden to us, and it takes us wherever it darn well wants to.

Now that we at least somewhat accept the notion that goats can be tree-worthy, nothing else should faze us. We also probably wouldn’t be all that surprised to find ourselves in a mystical world where Billy Joel was 5' 5" and Bo Derek 5' 3". In an existence filled with magical moments, any of that is possible, right? But it’s all true. Those are their real heights, in this form of reality you’re experiencing. Maybe they need to climb trees with the goats to increase their standing. Rethink everything you’ve learned. These actually are the droids you’re looking for. You’re steadily stormtroopin’ through life at a feverish pace. And the entire premise that even the heretofore miniscule Apolo Ohno (5' 8") is taller than Tom Cruise is whats so right with the world and keeps it in its equilibrium. As Harry Caray used to say, you can look it up.

[At right: Mr. Ohno commutes to work]

Often a watershed moment such as these will be initially met with incredulity. Goats can’t possibly be climbing trees. Bo Derek isn’t merely 5' 3" — maybe her Barbie action figure is, but surely not her. And that isn’t really Anderson Cooper winnying there. No, that would be like Walter Cronkite employing the Arnold Horshack laugh.

Truth is stranger than fiction in part because we are not compelled to fully digest fiction. We can turn fiction on and off with a switch. Truth, though, has this nagging habit of getting under our craw and refusing to leave. I hate when that happens. There’s a reason you never hear them say fiction hurts.

Dan Gilbert pointed out that, in general, people who win the lottery are less happy a year later than are people a year after undergoing major surgery. And, yeah, that almost makes sense despite its being true.

Now, this is interesting, flying in the face of everything intuitive…

At first, the slinky is seemingly toying with you, changing the laws of physics on a whim. It just dangles in the air, oblivious to the gravitational forces. It's pretty slinky that way. 

John Stossel wrote a sociopolitically-based book called “Everything You Know is Wrong,” basically dashing all your preconceived notions. Some of his documented revelations include: the overall damage of lawsuits on society, the diamond marketing scam, marrying cousins, walking on hot coals, sugar and hyperactivity, swimming after eating, happiness and leisure time, and everything else you didn't want to unknow.

A watershed moment might also challenge you on your attitudes, providing you with a better backdrop for testing them.

Now want to see a crazy video that sends my fear of heights up twelve notches?

I wouldn’t do that for a trillion bucks. Maybe a trillion and one, but I’m just sayin’.

At the end of the day when everyone goes home and retires for the evening in their jammies, if it turns out that goats in trees is all a hoax perpetuated by rogue goat-herding taxidermists lifting them into the trees with cranes and surgically affixing their legs to the branches and then yelling in some mid-Eastern inflected dialect: “say goat cheese!”… well, then we will have learned a very valuable lesson. But we won’t know what that lesson is until it happens before our very eyes. And that — is the resplendent beauty of watershed moments.

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

Philosophy Soccer