Category Archives: Rants

So who am I supposed to text again?

anwering machine

Remember when you could just be, like, not home?
(thanks to ebay seller shopdontdrop2010)

About a month ago I purchased an overly-sensitive, overpriced, needy, demanding, uncomfortable piece of baggage otherwise known as a smartphone. I don’t think I’ve ever hated any gadget this much. This phone is so irrelevant to me that I’ve stopped carrying it out of sheer rebellion. I miss my little black cellphone which fit perfectly into my jeans pocket. This unwieldy 3 x 5 ½ slab of hardware is annoying in my pocket when I bend down to pick up litter every few feet on my walks, a time it seems wise to have a phone. It doesn’t fit into the side pocket of my purse either.

Once a year when our contracts are up we holdouts have to decide whether we can tolerate another year of shame. Of not looking smart. (I saw what I’ve always thought was a homeless guy with one the other day—I guess he couldn’t take it either). I’ve never seen such pressure to conform in my lifetime. I feel like a sellout. I’m more ashamed that we’re now paying double what the cellphones cost per month than I was about pulling out the little black antique in public.

I hate texting, hate seeing people’s heads always pointed down, or seeing phones poised over steering wheels. I work two jobs, alone, and the people I do communicate with deserve a phone call or email. I found out I don’t need to check my email when I’m not home, don’t like screen games, don’t need GPS (I love maps—the journey, ya know?), and, it’s a pain in the ass always digging around for my reading glasses to see the screen. How do all you middle-aged presbyopics deal with this?

This month the must-have apps promise success of your new year’s resolutions. Well first of all new year’s resolutions are lame—you don’t really take them seriously, you just think you have to proclaim them because everybody else does. Why wait until January 1? We all needed to drop twenty pounds last August, but we get a free five-month fat pass? Here’s a great app for you—self-control.

I’m amazed at the cultural pressure to have an active social life whether you want it or not. And in between girls-night-out and guys-over-to-watch-the-game, you’re supposed to stay connected. There’s a not-so-subtle discrimination against people not on Facebook or other social media. Are people that terrified of being alone with their thoughts, their job, a book, a movie, a pet? Do modern humans need to report in every time two neurons complete a synapse?

My cell phone was one tough little simpleton, it could go days without a charge. This one is a whiny little wuss. Every time I look at it it’s down another 20%. It’s harder to use than is necessary. Emergency or not, I’d still have to find a pair of reading glasses. The screen is always flipping around, the keypad disappears, it nags me with updates, it’s always filthy. It tells me I’ve entered my password incorrectly or have done something that makes it impossible to retrieve a voice mail. So I hold the phone like it’s a turd, careful not to touch anything.

People say once you have one, you won’t be able to live without it. Anything’s possible I guess. Why just the other day I saw my dogs out in the yard with plastic bags and little shovels picking up their own poop. Now that’s smart.

To Whom It May Concern

Sometimes having a blog with your name plastered all over it can hold you back from what’s really on your mind. When personal crises hit, you desperately want to write about them, but you can’t because you feel watched, like anything you say may be used against you. The same holds true for political opinions.

I’ve been a dimsel in damstress. The curl of smoke over my head rises from an existential blast zone that craves discussion, but I stand stupidly speechless. My honesty, phrased as diplomatically as a seasoned observer of crazy can express, has cost me. When a relationship—whether it work, family, friend, or love—demands more of your soul than you are able to give, we have the right to bow out. Wouldn’t someone want to know why? Not if the parties you’re dealing with are controlling, narcissistic, or immature, and you find yourself the target of blame-laced, ego-driven invective. These true colors, in shades of infection, necrosis, and death, cannot be countered. It’s like trying to respond rationally to an internet troll. I make my choices and take my beatdowns. But I will never, ever respond—that’s exactly what they want.

But frankly, this self-imposed whining freeze is getting old.  Thought I’d start with a few minor rants and work my way up.

Clicking around the blogosphere can be painful. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at one blogger’s About page which read ‘I’m a journalist and shit.’ It hit me hard that it’s a different world now, and helps explain the following sparklers seen on my home page…

By journalist who wants to be a pulp fiction writer:
The mayor has journeyed into swamp-like depths to help people stranded in buildings overlooking the murky waters that flooded their homes and their lives.

By journalist assigned the end of the world story:
World survives Maya apocalypse

By journalist covering the NYC subway beat:
Man faints in NYC subway, not struck by train

We have these ‘After 5’ walks in my town where the shops stay open late. Here’s a press release that showed up in my inbox a few months ago:

Xxxx Originals Gallery is having a Spring Fling and tossing out artwork at incredible prices! New artwork is on the way so we’re flinging out anything that’s been just sitting around. This is a great time to pick up fabulous deals on really spectacular artwork. So come in to the gallery and catch the deals we’re flinging out the door!

So where’s the What Not to Say to Starving Artists article?

I don’t agree with people who insist that humankind doesn’t have choices. If it is the custom of a culture to beat women, and for the acceptance of this to be passed down to sons and daughters, that may make them good citizens, but not good humans. Your culture is not an excuse for your cruelty. If beating, burning, cutting, raping, or murdering your wife or daughters, or the wife or daughters of your neighbors is the custom, and people defend it as that, then we may as well throw the words good and bad right out of the dictionary.

We saw these three beautiful babies on Carr Canyon Road about two weeks ago and stopped to let them cross. The mother had already crossed—but there must be several.

My yard’s been full of cactus wrens this year. They’re not usually so gregarious. Look at this silly nest they built on the tip of a branch—it barely contained them.

I’m fascinated by what people have in their refrigerators, especially when I’m asked to clean them. I arranged this little composition that I think covers all the food groups.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a ghost bike, on a nearby rural road.

My town recently got its first pot dispensary. Some people with medical marijuana cards are annoyed though, because they’re no longer allowed to grow a few plants in their yard, but must patronize this place and pay big bucks. If you live within 25 miles of a dispensary, you have to do business there.

Our precious hardwoods are being defoliated by caterpillars. I think they’re webworms but please correct me because it’s hard to find pictures that look exactly like this. Plus, there are about three different kinds eating the trees—green, yellow, and black.

Check out their suction-cup feet, perfectly designed to climb trees and eat them. They’re everywhere, in house, driveway, yard, laundry shed. At first I thought they were cute—until there were thousands.

Caterpillars in driveway with their scat, which is also everywhere.

This enormous western polyphemus moth was found already dead in a customer’s garage on Carr Canyon Road, a Coronado Nat’l Forest road near Sierra Vista.

This javelina came right up to our car, then stalked off when we didn’t feed it. I think javelinas are beautiful and mysterious, like all wild animals, but I just read there is an aggressive pack in Tucson that is slated to be shot. This is what happens when animals’ habitat is destroyed by humans.

I saw this regal horned lizard in my yard just a few weeks ago. Kind of a rare sighting, they’re only found in southeastern AZ and Mexico.

We’ve had a incredible monsoon this year, in fact it’s not quite over. I’ve never seen this many tiny frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, bats, birds, rabbits. There was even a huge barn owl couple who sat on the street wires all summer and made these funny shrieking sounds. The hummingbirds go to bed at nightfall, then the Mexican long-tongued bats shift takes over and drains the feeder, which I refill in morning. Every night I stepped closer and closer to the bats, to where I can stand within a few feet of them. It’s awesome.

We’ve had a incredible monsoon this year. I’ve never seen this many frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, bats, birds, rabbits. There were even two huge barn owls who sat on the street wires every night all summer and made these funny shrieking sounds. The hummingbirds go to bed at nightfall, then the Mexican long-tongued bats take over and drain the feeder, which I refill in morning. Every night I stepped closer and closer to the bats, to where I can stand within a few feet of them. It’s so awesome.

Don’t Self-Help, Just Help

Self-help books should come with disclaimers: Western civilization only. Restrictions may apply. May be illegal in some countries. Not responsible for maiming or death caused by applying exercises in this book. Self-help books promote the assumption that anyone can be happy and successful if they just believe it enough. If you really believe that, you don’t need a book.

First, you need to be born in a free country. And even then it takes a lot more than belief. Circumstances must be considered and compromises must be made, no matter what they tell you in the book. Throw health, intellect, insight, environment, ability, and a huge amount of luck into the mix too. So what about the millions of people trapped in unimaginable circumstances all over the world, especially women? Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Haiti…the list goes on and on. Clearly these books are not meant for them. Maybe those women are just being too negative. Maybe they’re not taking action. Maybe they need to work on forgiveness. Be thankful you’re not getting your nose and ears cut off for running away from the men you were sold to, acid thrown in your face for disobeying your abusive family, poisoned for trying to learn to read, or raped on a daily basis.

Unfulfilled Americans spend over $11 billion each year on self-help books, products, services, speakers, and seminars—a testament in itself to the argument that they’re not working. Many people, after buying one, become disillusioned and try another, and then another. Someone’s getting rich, but it isn’t you. If you want to be happy, you’re going to have to dump some of those meddlesome human traits, like compassion. This compassion crap will just make you sad or angry, and you’ll lose your focus on personal perfection.

It’s not all about you. Stop trying to make your self more successful and start trying to make your world a better place. Be polite but stand up for yourself and those weaker than you. Not everybody is going to like you—embrace it. Sometimes pain, anger, or distress is what you’re supposed to feel. Try to get over bad stuff and move on. Try to get through the day. Consider yourself one lucky bastard to be here.

And if you feel the need to rant, go for it.

What do you think?

Artifacts of Madness

I come with a lot of baggage but it ain’t Louis Vuitton. It’s not even the kind with the little wheels. I schlep it around kicking and screaming.

COVERS OF WOMEN’S magazines at the checkout counter:  Drop 2 dress sizes in one week!  Next line:  Chocolate cupcakes to die for! Look inside and see the Ask the Doctor section. I have a large mass growing on the side of my neck. What should I do? Here’s a suggestion—why don’t you go get a big pair of shears and cut it off?

THE NEIGHBORS I have the restraining order against had their water shut off the other day. You can always tell a shut-off compared to a meter reading. Readings are done methodically by street. Shut-offs require the serviceman to wrestle with wrenches and rusted knobs. Next thing I see cop cars racing down the street. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what happened—the serviceman called the cops because the homeowners came out and harassed him. Maybe threatened him, who knows. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen to some poor schmuck trying to do his job. They need to start hiring tough guys, like repo-men, to shut off deadbeats’ water.

SERIAL LIKERS: I will never click on your blog. I have disabled ‘likes’ from my posts but there is no way to disable them from the reader feeds. But your robo-likes will no longer show up on my blog. Here’s an idea: why don’t you try writing something? I’ve clicked on a few serial likers’ blogs and found hundreds of comments on their About pages. I thought, wow, they must be good. But this is what you see:

Thank you for liking my post!
Thank you for liking my post! I’ll be back!
Thank you for liking my post! You rock!
Thank you for liking my post! I’m following you now!
etc., etc., blah blah blah

Please go do your part to keep Facebook shallow.

RECENTLY AN ACQUAINTANCE told me I need to kiss more ass if I want to be successful. He said it was part of the job. Sorry but I can’t do that. He said, fine, but are you happy? Uh, like kissing ass is going to make me happy?

Every now and then I put an ad in the paper advertising my housecleaning service. And every time, I dread answering calls because the cheapest people in the U.S. live in Arizona. They’re used to cut-rate labor and have no clue what a really clean house is, performed by an ethical person. I think of each cleaning job as a work of art that I sign my name to. Last week I placed a completely different kind of ad entitled Not Like Other Housecleaners. This time I wrote what my requirements are, and included a minimum price. I can only do one house per day. It was a little snippy but I’m sick to death of retired people following me around like I’m going to steal something,  interrupting me, asking me are you almost done? and forcing me to listen to CNN. It’s oppressive and I can’t do it anymore. Well damned if I haven’t been getting calls all week from really nice working people. I don’t have to fear returning calls, they already read the ad. I don’t know what the moral of this story is—maybe don’t kiss ass, it’s not worth your self-respect.

A bathroom I was asked to clean. I passed. I have cleaned for people who treated me like scum—lucky for them, I don’t name names. I did laundry for a local couple who were very nasty to me. If I showed the pictures of their laundry (which I had to pick up with rubber gloves and a stick), you would get sick. But not as sick as I.

A keyboard at a jobsite.

What I find on my front lawn in the morning. Gosh, I’m so glad they switched to Bud Light. Even f*cking a**holes need to watch their waistlines!

A neighbor’s yard.

A friend’s garage.

You don’t have to have doors or hoods on your cars here.

Only in B*sb**. 

This newspaper, from a very liberal city we visited in the Pacific Northwest, tossed around the word ‘anarchy’ like it’s The Big Solution. A tidy, anti-gun city  with mowed lawns, no litter, no smoking, and thousands of conformist students all with the same unkempt look, all on their phones. How do they know what anarchy is? They should come down here to the border to see it in actual use. First thing they’d do if someone threatened them is call the cops. Then they’d run back home to their mamas.

Look at the bottom line on the bus. Religion OR reality? I don’t get it. Are they saying people need to make a choice, pick one or the other? What kind of message is that?

Holiday Unreality

Holidays. Gluttony, waste, forced obligations. Women exhausting themselves to get everything done on time for the great gorge. Millions of dead turkeys whose scraps will not be fed to dogs. I try to work on Thanksgiving if I can. One year I walked into a huge domestic dispute where the wife really didn’t want to go to her in-laws’ house. I had to go sit outside until they left. The spectacle called black Friday made me embarrassed for America, and that doesn’t happen often. Well there is Facebook, but that’s not just us anymore.

I need work. An acquaintance said, why don’t you make flyers offering housecleaning gift certificates? I said, that’s a great idea. She said, make sure you write Keep Your Dollars in America this Year! I said, I can’t say that, people here will get all offended. But consider not only giving work to people who pay taxes here, but also not detonating your credit card with crap made in China, or anywhere else but the US, the same crap people fought over on black Friday. Ugh. I hate that it even has a name and I refuse to capitalize “black” because that gives it credibility as a marketing tactic to make people crazy. This whole season from Thanksgiving to Christmas can go take a sleigh ride to Psychoville.

Our friend Hogan (Hoarder of History) appears to be levitating over carburetor of '71 Ford pickup. Hogan is a person to be thankful for.

She’s a handful is a typical euphemism for little girls who are consistently naughty. Jada, now 7 months, has gained 10 pounds and an attitude. She’s the kind of beautiful dog who gets adopted from a pound, then returned because she’s a project you have to stick with.  She’s soft and cuddly and loving, I hold her in my lap and she snuggles closer and closer into my neck. But keeping her from constantly jumping on everything and everybody is work. Paws on counters, stepping on my heels every time I walk somewhere in the house or outside, annoying the other dogs and cats, still not housebroken. Did I mention the jumping? She and Blitz are playmates but sometimes he hides from her and I have to watch she doesn’t get too rough—those puppy teeth are sharp and plentiful. I am committed to turning her into a respectable member of the pack.  This wild creature will be mine.

Blitz transforms into a wolverine when playing with Jada

I tell Jada, stop being such a baby and grow up!

Jada in a rare quiet moment (it didn't last). Who could resist this face?

Debra on Dogshit: Seven dogs. 14 piles of dogshit a day, 98 piles a week, 392 piles a month. The dogshit goes into plastic grocery bags and is eventually taken to the dump. My partner has never been seen picking up anything that came out of either end of a dog or cat. I went to NY for 8 days last year for a dictionary project and he claims he “took care of” the catbox. I know damn well he filled it up to the top with clean litter then shoveled it out once, the night I got home.

Here are some recent random pics of local interesting stuff…

Weird old combination stove, sink, and fridge seen at Hogan's

I had to look it up. Here's a classic ad for the 1952 General Fridge, Sink & Stove, same model as Hogan has. Look at that babe---as if! Sex sold appliances in 1952 same as now.

Two nice cats in a customer's yard

I became obsessed with making a celestial-themed quilt a few years ago. I just dug out the materials to finish it. I have to sew the batting and the backing, but we don't always finish what we start because every project has a passion tipping point, yes?

I hand-sewed each square, using a basic 8-point quilting star pattern. The fun was designing and making the top, not all this machine-sewing stuff at the end!

One last pedantic harangue: I recoil when adults refer to their parents as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad.’ Up to about adolescence, it’s acceptable to refer to them as “my mom” or “my dad.” After that, it should be ‘my mother’ or ‘my father.’ ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ should only be used among siblings. When an adult who is not related to me says “Mom used to hit me with a ruler,” I cringe. Why not be correct and say “My mother used to hit me with a ruler.” Just sayin’.

The Week in My Infotoxic World 11-8-11

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The Information Abuse Superhighway

Are you as afraid to look at your homepage as I am? Is the entire planet contaminated by a rapidly spreading virus composed of computer-enhanced human ignorance? There’s a sense of malaise around the internet, with some bloggers questioning what we’re doing here. Part of the helplessness many of us feel is a side effect of the filter bubble, an algorithm-driven defilement used by major search engines to collect and control every one of our keystrokes. Google keeps harassing me to “customize” my news, so I can skip those offensive alternative viewpoints. Quite a change from the “fair and balanced news” MSM boasted just ten years ago.  Controlling our exposure to information serves to isolate both sides and is deadly to human development. It’s one of the worst things to come out of technology, period. A nanny Internet goes a step further than a nanny government, it paralyzes our minds. We don’t know where to turn for truth, for hope, or for compromise.

The infection is also spread by Smartphones and Twitter and laptops. I just read a reasonable post by a successful person on a subject that interested me—but his ever-constant Twitter feed displays a much less relatable, and less interesting, persona. Why do I need to see personal minute-by-minute updates when I came to read an essay? He was heading down to the Occupy protest in his city. I was going to comment. Discuss. Interact. Now, I’m not. I’m Occupied-out and not impressed.

Nowadays I read my home page for one reason: in the morning to find out if we’re going to make it through the day, and in the evening to see if we’ve made it through the day. How close to me are the quakes, floods, fires, bombs…how close are the US mobs defecating on American flags, how close to my home on the border is the latest drug-cartel slaughter. I’m afraid to even click on a link on my homepage, because it changes what I see on my homepage within minutes. It’s literally useless.

Many live in filter bubbles of their own making, it’s so very obvious and easy to see in a certain area of the town I live in. The personalized info-smog makes it a snap to remain unchallenged by creating a world of denial. I don’t want to choose sides and then have propaganda shoved down my throat. Fight the filter bubble by choosing what you read yourself. Don’t let search engines decide for you.

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I’m irritated with academic-types this week because they manage to plant  snide snippets of their political views into venues where they have no business doing so. In no way should any reference book reflect the personal, especially political, opinion of its contributors. It should not be tolerated but it is, it is. I have little recourse but to resort to negative fantasy…

The Professors

Two English professors were co-writing a scholarly paper regarding the etymologies of words describing difficult people. They passed the manuscript back and forth with notes attached through interoffice mail.

The professors began arguing over the word ‘stubborn,’ whose uncertain origins date back to the 14th century. The first professor called the second professor an ‘obstinate oaf’ to which the second retorted ‘recalcitrant rube.’ The notes began to get ugly. The second professor’s temper finally got the better of him. ‘I will not tolerate such pertinacious disrespect!’ he gasped as he marched into the first professor’s lovely walnut-paneled office and stabbed him through the heart with a medieval dagger.

Well, so much for the old saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’!

Surviving the Nonjudgmental

The word judgmental is the spiritually-correct label of shame. Apparently the reasoning is this: it’s not judgmental to say that a person who committed an act of cruelty did a bad thing, but it is judgmental to say that the person who committed the act is a bad person.

In a world of 7 billion people, many behaving badly, being judgmental is a survival skill as well as a cause of suffering within a social structure. But a truly nonjudgmental person would not support taking sides, so in our daily lives, being judgmental is unavoidable if we have values that guide us. A man who beats children or animals can’t be a good person in some unidentified way we just haven’t tried hard enough to find.

Wild Bill wrote last week of rescuing a dog whose owner had tied cinder blocks to it and dumped it in a lake. I am judgmental because I freely base a person’s (the abuser and all like them) entire worth on a single act, even though there are several million articles that say this is the wrong way to live.

Every day, judgments are made in millions of blogs, news articles, and comment sections. News articles are passively judgmental while commenters are viciously so. People who consider themselves nonjudgmental encourage public condemnation of Christians, atheists, conservatives, liberals, smokers, alcoholics, yuppies, welfare mothers, celebrities, adulterers, prostitutes, or anyone who does or doesn’t share our beliefs. We are judgmental out of jealousy, poverty, wealth, frustration, self-preservation, compassion—just about any emotion or life stage imaginable. It is not possible to ask humans to not be human, the lesson to be learned is in our reactions.

I am pleasant to everyone I meet but that doesn’t mean I want to fraternize, it means I want to live. I don’t publicly denigrate or feel superior, I judge. Every single one of us knows people we think are useless, mean, difficult, stupid, or annoying. If you’ve never had contact with someone and then said to yourself, “what an asshole,” then you can join the rest of the people on the head of the pin who are candidates for sainthood.

There are so many interpretations of this word that it’s become one more smarmy term whose reputation can’t be lived up to. I judge this word meaningless.