Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I've always wanted to build a camera obscura in my house. That's a system of mirrors, lenses and prisms that allow you to see around your house, like the various doors. You move this dial and there is a scene projected on a white plate that shows who's knocking.

Now if you think of these images being projected as light being shunted along, then when you pass a picture through a lens to make it smaller and brighter you also make it hotter. That is, if light passing through the lens works like when you focus the sun onto a piece of paper. Should, maybe, get hotter. Perspective is a way whereby a vision gets smaller, too. But it places more and more into your field of view and so each piece has to be smaller to fit. be funny if all things kept their size but had to overlap or something. But if you focus an image of a tree and make that image get smaller and smaller until it's a single white dot, doesn't it set the paper on fire? So you could say that at it's most focussed form, an image is energy. Which is what everything is, anyway. At least according to physics.

So if the image of everything is energy and the everything being imaged is energy, why do we think of everything as every 'thing'? Why don't we see it as a wildly varied pattern of energies interacting? Seems more useful somehow. You see that every thing is everything, like the printed flowers on a cloth are both flowers and part of the cloth, the image being the flower and the cloth being the substance by which the flower is made manifest. I wonder what bit of the universe is being focussed in order to form this image I see of myself?

Now, since infinite is another word for universe, and infinitely large is the same as infinitely small, we can see the analogy of an image being focussed forming this cone with the thing at one end, the image at the other and the energy between the two. But it's relative, isn't it? That thing at the end of the cone, that bit of light which burns, could be a massive object infinitely far away from the observer and that big thing at the other end could appear big simply because it is near that which perceives. Thus do optical illusions work on the mind. So in one half of reality I am an almost infinite thought thinking of that which is so small as to be a point of light and heat, or in the other universe that point is actually infinte in nature and referencing back to me via the energy between.

And that energy between forms the basis of a relationship, creating a single Thing from all the inbetweens. You name the relationship and create the universe. Trouble, I think, starts when the universe created relates back to you, making you part of it's infinity. Like being swept along in a rip tide.

I suppose that's what happens to god who get worshipped to death. But if they had a camera obscura in the infinte, they would see it coming and be able to duck and dodge. Maybe that's why we don't seem to have any more talking, burning bushes except for the occasional daliance with peyote or bad rye bread. Our Diety saw a bad time coming and ducked out. It might have been the Reformation, or maybe the Catholic church. Being All-Knowing still doesn't require All-Acting. The Diety could suddenly, instantly, see the Inquisition ahead and be so damn shocked It didn't say another Word for a whole millenium.

And if your camera obscura was turned on you, so you saw you looking at you, would you have some doubts as the nature of the image? Could it be some confusion would result as to who was watching whom? You question with your mind when you're human, but if you're All-Knowing there would be no pretending because you couldn't fool yourself. Such a pity. No wonder the pagan goddesses and gods tend to be less than All-Knowing. They have more fun. If you held a piece of paper about halfway between the Object and the Point, would the Image be Person, or Deity? And if the Object were All, then all the lenses and prisms would be philosophies and religions, and the Point, that Where-Not-Where that so many Zen folk crave for. It's gonna be really hot, though, in some form. You'd burn like a torch as you approached. And the Observer would See it all.

Each time the light passes through a lens or off a mirror or deflected by a prism, it loses energy, until finally it hits the white plate and you could close your eyes and leave your hand on that plate and never feel the image. The only way you'd know it was there would be to open your eyes and look.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The other day I walked into my favorite pub to 'quench my thirst', as the old folks might say. Anyway, I was sipping on my first Fosters of the day when I noticed this guy at the end of the bar. Now, aside from the fact that he obviously sleeps under bushes and fishes for lettuce from behind the Price Chopper, he's a goofy looking guy. His beard looks like a rastafarian nightmare, all blondish-grey and frizzed out. He looks harmless, though, so I smile and he smiles and I sip.
Fosters is my favorite beer right now. I know that some people say it tastes likes dingo's piss, I dare them to produce an Australian beer that doesn't! But it's my favorite and so I was focussing on sipping when suddenly I get this... armpit smell. You know, when you grab the wrong tee shirt from the pile, the old shirt? Well, I look up, expecting it to be the reincarnation of Dirty Ray from my Caroline Street days, but it's that goofy looking guy. So I smiled at him, trying all the while to not look like I was smiling AT him.
He scooted onto the stool next to mine and cozied up to his beer. It was like two Irish guys who knew each other, but for some reason hadn't spoken to each other for twenty years. I sipped and he sipped. Then, being the loudmouth that I am, I broke the ice.
"How's it going?" I asked
"Sucks great green greasy eggs, if you ask ME, which you do all the time!" and he sipped.
Wow. So I asked him, "What do you mean, all the time?"
"I mean every freaking time, all the time, it's 'God this and God that'! That's what I mean!" and he snorted a bit and sipped some more and then turned to me.
" It's not a great time being God, ya know? NO, of course you don't. Nobody can know what it's like but ME! That's being 'Godlike' or something. It's not bad enough watching you drinking your dingo's piss over there, but I get to BE you drinking that dingo's piss over there, as well as being the dingo's piss itself! That's called being omnipresent or something. It sucks. And omnipotent! All powerful!? To what avail? Of course I win every debate or arguement with any lesser being, I'm omnipotent! There's no contest. I have no idea... well yes I do, but for the sake of argument let's say I have no idea where those people get the idea it's some kind of WAR going on between one of my flawed creations, his minions and ME? Give me a break. Anything I can create I can uncreate. That's called being ALL-POWERFUL!" He stopped to take a pull on his beer, wipe the foam into his beard, and I took the opportunity to signal for another. My back was starting to spasm, but the entertainment was first rate.
I prodded him with a gesture. Continue...
"You know that passage in the Bible about me knowing the hairs on your head? It's absolutely true! I know every dinky little secret of every dinky little detail of everything in the infinite number of infinite universes! And those damn physicists keep finding MORE!. Do you really think any sane being could stay sane for long knowing the number of pubic hairs on Michael Jackson's crotch? This is not a good thing, this being 'all-knowing' Any sane being would want to find a place where there is not so much 'all-knowing' and get there fast!"
"So, you come to 'The PartingGlass'? You stop being the All-Father and go get drunk?" I asked.
"Have you seen the TV about Sudan? Have you read about the latest sex-crazed priest and the way the Vatican handled it? Wouldn't you want to get drunk?" He finished his beer and started fishing through his raggy pants and coat pockets. Then he stopped and looked up at me.
"Uh, I don't suppose you'd..." he said, and nodded at his empty glass.
I shook my head and dug through my pockets for another $5 and said, "Yeah, sure. Hey, another beer over here for my friend."
"I KNEW you'd say that! I KNEW you'd buy me another beer! That's called 'being all-knowing'! and where's the fun in that? It's no damn good bumming a beer from someone if you always know which schmuck will actually BUY you one! No damn fun at all! But, the other thing is, being all-knowing means you know when to stop. Thank's anyway, son. I better be off. Take care. Oh, I don't have to tell you that!" and he walked away, out the door and down the street, I presume. I didn't follow him. I didn't want God to think I was one of those guys who hits on old men in bars. But then, he wouldn't think that. He'd know what I was doing. He's all-knowing. But he's hard to figure out.What the heck did He mean by that? This calls for another Fosters. Yup.
I'm reading some comments in the NYTimes about stem cell research and I notice that for the most part the writers are trying to be coherent and not very rude. There is a theme among those people who dislike stem cell research when it involves the use of unwanted fertilized eggs. They state that these objects are distinct human beings with rights of protection. Briefly getting into the idea that if life was so important to them they should also be mentioning the thousands of people we are slaughtering every week around the world in our so-called war on terror, I'd like to discuss a couple of other points.

I believe that these folks are basing their views on a religious viewpoint, or a philosophy which is is spiritual in nature. And speaking of nature, how does Nature view eggs and sperm? Well, women regularly dispose of unwanted eggs without any guilt over the loss of potential human life. Men dispose of unwanted sperm on a fairly regular basis as well. These cells make no effort to protect themselves. Nature has provided no basis for a stay of execution, She simply takes them back into the matrix of life and recycles the elements. If we say that Nature is the mechanism by which God makes His will manifest, then we can say that God apparently does not consider these objects to be potential humans because since humans are the highest order of life on this planet and His beloved creations He would logically do everything possible to protect them. Unless we're looking at a huge number of martyrs for some unknown cause, they are just cells being flushed or wiped off or out.

When a woman has a miscarriage a human life is destroyed. If we value human life so much, why isn't more being done to rescue these humans and bring them to term. I mean, after all, we can take a person who has been breathing water in a swimming pool for 15 minutes and restore them to life. Granted, it's a limited life based in a wheelchair and maintained by a staff of nurses and doctors, but life nevertheless. So why don't doctors try to place a miscarried child in some kind of life-support system? Because it's not really a human yet. It's a part of the mother that never grew away. It's sad, sure, but not the same as a premature child being kept alive in an incubator. And we know this because otherwise we would arrest the mother for some form of manslaughter like we arrest the people who inadvertedly cause the death of an adult human.

So Nature and/or God do not consider these cells to be humans.

It's not a good idea to second guess Nature and/or God.

The argument that these potential humans deserve the same respect as Einstein or Jefferson is moot, because obviously by discarding an unwanted fertilized egg we are also possibly protecting the world from another Stalin or Nixon. So potential worthiness is not a good point. The naysayers use the argument that the potential good of stem cell research is at least marred by the real destruction of these potential humans. But we are daily killing real humans for a potential goal of creating democracy and this is considered to be clear, reasonable and logical. If human life is so sacred(to use a religious term) that we must never take it, then clearly the Department of Defense(War) is a desecration of our government, since it's sole purpose is the destruction of human life which is perceived as potentially harming others.

Since we are a part of nature every action we take is therefore natural. Children around the world play war games, sometimes with real guns, and this is natural. Male cats march into a den and slaughter the kittens of another tom and this is natural, just as American soildiers march into another country and slaughter thousands of children who might grow up otherwise to be anti-American. Killing unwanted, potentially dangerous humans at any age is something we pay our soldiers to do on a regular basis. It is ironic, if not hypocritical to say that we are a culture of life, unless we mean the destruction of life or unless we mean certain select versions of life. At that point we are simply playing games with word definitions.

The Nazis experimentations on Jewish prisoners is often brought up to counter the argument that we can learn much from these slaughtered cell clusters, but they fail to bring up the fact that Americans took the documents regarding those experiments on Jewish prisoners and used them to learn better ways of killing people. We directly benefitted from that slaughter. Not to mention that we encouraged it by doing nothing to stop it until we were good and ready and the Nazi war machine was effectively weakened by the other armies of the world. So, like most everything in this ultra-right wing administration facts are pruned and picked to provide the best view of their side of the debate. When facts don't exist they make them up. They repeat them often enough that a good number of people eventually believe them to be true. The media, with their addiction to short sound bites and video clips, continue the pruning job until everybody can say they heard it on the news or read it in the paper. At least those who can still read, unlike our beloved leader. He has short pithy statements read to him by his beloved mammy. The curious thing is how many of the administration seem actually proud of the fact that our President is an illiterate.

I wonder why they find it so important to eliminate all hope for the sick and the poor? I suppose that so long as there is hope there can be a seed of resistance. Though they say they want to preserve life what they actually mean is that they want to preserve ignorance, since only an ignorant people can be fooled into thinking that imprisonment is freedom and death is life.

Isn't it ironic that it was the Goddess of Life who gave us all these extra cells because they contained the means by which we could cure all those terrible diseases and deformities which afflict us? I have heard that everything we need was given to us in the begining by the Creator.

Maybe there is an emerging business in providing tiny high-cost funerals for all those unwanted cells. Maybe there is a PAC feeding millions of dollars to the right-wing fanatics who have usurped our semi-democratic processes, and this PAC wants to start promoting the idea that we should collect all our unused sperm and eggs and bury them in hallowed ground with many of the same rites and accessories as we now use for fully formed humans. Like the Egyptians we should be saving our fingernails and the hair falling out of our heads. Vacuum up the skin cells from our sheets because they could be used to clone our duplicates. "Love me, love my clone."

The chant that all life is sacred is misunderstood by many liberals. They complain that the right wing is waging war while claiming that they respect life. The right wingers don't respect life insofar as they think killing is bad. No, they think killing is great! Life is sacred in that the taking of life pleases the deity they worship. They document it in their Holy Bible, they parade it on the streets of America, celebrating various wars and assasinations. They buy millions of toy guns from their Communist Chinese pals and teach our children that war is fun. They consign tens of thousands of Americans to lives of starvation and dispair and early deaths. They fabricate great gasoline gulping vehicles just so a single person driving to the mall can not only pollute the air, earth and waters of this planet, but provide financial support to the very terrorists we trained, released and now hunt.

Life is sacred, yes, but only in the taking of it. That's what they mean.

America owes more and more of it's culture to the Aztec and Nazis and less and less to the revolutionaries that fought and died to create it.

However, this process is very common in human history and in the long run it works out. Very much like the process in the human body where parts come and go and eventually the body dies, but Life itself moves on. Countries come and countries go and history may record the militant facist country of America which attempted to take over the planet and was destroyed by it's greed and incompetance, but left the world many scientific and artistic wonders.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

So last night I went out back to collect the eggs from the henhouse. Me, my little basket and the flashlight. It was cold and damp of course, because I needed to mow the lawn and do garden work, so naturally the Trickster thought it would be funny for me to hurt a lot, I guess. Or maybe the plants needed watering. Never assume you can ever assume.

I had a chat with the girls, reassuring them and explaining why I hadn't been able to fix their house much even though I had promised last week to clean out the crap and build new roosts. Big Red wasn't sure, but she told the others to "wait and see" and for that I thanked her. I stepped out to the gate and paused. A couple of days ago I might have had a black and white friend waiting for me. Furlinghetti likes to follow me around and see what I'm doing and I always collect the eggs late, just before bedtime and so when I have my basket and flashlight in hand she knows it's almost time to go to bed. So she waits for me by the gate and follows me inside. The last couple of days, though, she has been too sick and waits for me in her basket by the bedroom door. But not this night.

Tonight if she waits somewhere it is somewhere far away and right nearby. Maybe Teddy is stroking her, or maybe she is stroking Teddy, I don't know, but I know that I paused and felt a tightening of my throat, stopping me from saying, "Time to go in, Furball, let's go."

She was in her box the other day, looking pretty bad. She barely had the strength to lift her head when I approached. Her eyes were 'wrong', not her eyes at all. I noticed that she didn't seem to be forcussing on me. Her tumors had started breaking through her skin and one had gotten infected. She was hot with fever. I spoke to her, telling her that I was willing to take her to the vet and there she would get a shot and go to sleep and never wake up. I asked her if this is what she wanted. She seemed to focus on my face and then she folded her paws and laid her chin down, closing her eyes for a minute, as if taking a nap. Then she lifted her head and stared at me, calmly. I took this to mean she wanted to sleep and I knew that with the probable pain from the sores and the fever that there was only one way to get a good sleep anymore.

She didn't protest when I lifted her and placed her on her feet, but she sagged down immediately. No chance for her to rise up and go listen to the birds. No chance to sleep between us on the big bed. No chance to chase a chipmunk out of the herb garden.... she was done with all that. There was only one thing she wanted now, and that was a good sleep.

On the way to the vets I told her that Janis Joplin died of a drug overdose and that she was going to do pretty much the same thing. No comment from Furball. No protests over the box or the ride. I signed the papers and opened the box and stroked her dry hot fur. I touched her head softly and told her goodbye.

I'm so damn tired of saying goodbye to friends.

No one is left to chat with during the day, to listen to me, to play with me. My sweetheart has a job 50 miles away and I wait for her at the bus stop like a kid waiting for desert. But she's heard all my jokes and needs to think about what needs to be done the next day, maybe even tonight by laptop linked to the office. My stories of woodchucks, herbs and new birds at the feeder are interesting, but not that important, not really. She listens as best she can while she writes down notes for tomorrow.

Furlinghetti never worried about tomorrow and she always listened to my jokes, laughing rarely, but still purring when I stroked her head and chuckled to myself. She liked to be on her back and watch the world go by upside down. She would turn over on her back with her toes curled up tight as if someone should tickle that tummy. She was the only cat I ever knew... and I have known hundreds.... that liked me to make raspberries on that exposed tummy. Such a funny beast.

So once again I got to be the Angel of Death and it never fails to hurt my head, but I suppose that being the one to decide is a duty and a hard one, but one that should be taken by someone who cares. And I do care for my friends, even the furry ones.

Now we have ten chickens, some with names, and one cat: Starr. Starr is a serious cat and stays inside most of the time. She is almost as old as Oona was when we put her down because of cancer. A serious calico of advancing years, Starr likes to sleep, eat and occasionally step out onto the porch before running back in if a car drives by. She seems a bit subdued now with no friends around but me. I hang out with her, I listen to her stories and I try to be a good companion, but I'm just not the same as Furball was. I don't understand the point of view.

I like to think of Furlinghetti, Oona and even old fRed cat sitting on a distant hillside with Grand dad Riley and Teddy, watching a celestrial sunset and talking philosophy. Furball will feel right at home with Teddy. He was a cat lover and even had show cats, siamese mostly.

I'm looking forward to being able to join in those talks, it's so rare I can ramble on about my funny ideas, except for here and for you. And I look forward to tickling that tummy and watching her toes curl with pleasure.

Such a good friend. Such a hole in my life.

See ya later, Furball.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Liminal points. These points of transition, one form to another, are both consequences of Life, and yet not truly a Part of life, because they stop where they are. And stopping is to resist Change, and Change is Life, so liminal points are not part of life, but cause life, or otherwise support it. They are the gate thru which the spirit passes. Shamans either form part of the gate, or support the gates, or sometimes are, themselves, the gate. I suppose Mothers must be thought of as Gates. I found myself within Peggy Jo Shirley and then I was not and sometime fairly soon, as Time is thought of, I will be Not. Not of this Form. But I digress.

The Points themselves are analogus to vertices of a Sigil, thus a Great Pattern is formed. This is pretty much Western Tradition, but even the East Coast is Western, as far as the East is concerned.

But to be part of a Transition is not necessarily to be a "Vertex of Fate" (tada) Sometimes you just stumble into it. So it is that I meditate on Furlinghetti the Cat. As we speak, she could be doing her Transition out of this interactive version of Life. That is to say, her cancer is starting to rip her body into smaller, non-interactive bits. She has found a spot she likes in the garden I have made of my back yard where she feels protected, yet able to at least hear the rest of Life going on around her. I have decided that since her sores are causing her problems and there isn't really anything we can do about the sores, because her immune system is pretty shot by now... well, it seems that once again I get to play Undertaker. I have this vision of the Spirit Furlinghetti, as I experienced it being whipped out to sea by a sudden tide and all I can see of Furlingehtti is her hands outstretched, but I cannot reach or pull or something and then there is nothing but the flotsom on the beach. In this case I have a furry body to bury.

But Liminal points are by definition not part of the consequences. Or at least not nccessarily. Because unless Furball comes back for a visit, I will never feel close to her again, nt really, so in part my Self is being impacted, but not my Soul. Maybe it's a kind of a split, which can be recognized as a Liminal point. And everything past the One is bifurcating, so Everything is a Liminal Point. Maybe that efines a multidimensional circle or something, some crazy Sigil that I can't yet read. I just know it sucks to pay someone to kill my cat because I think the dying thing is gone on long enough.

Suppose, for instance, that a Soul is traveling along and happens to take a hairpin turn and slide ever so briefly into a Space wherein I dwell, like a bacteria on a lamp post on a tight curve at night. Now I see the face of the driver of the carriage but what happens if I intervene and try to stop the Coach? The mission has been altered, the King never makes it to the Coast to seek freedom somewhere beyond? Catch my drift? Maybe not, sometimes my references are too obscure and layered. The point though, is that what would have changed is someone had intervened on behalf of, say, Jesus? Or even Charles Darwin? People would have changed, Things would have changed and Change is Life, so Life would have gone on.... But it would be different.

But just because I see a 'cat' does not mean that some Great Soul has not banged into the Lampost of my Life. No, in fact it makes a lot of sense. Seems to me that I have met a lot of Great Souls in my Time and you gotta figure that like certain intersections like Time Square just get a lot more action, certain kinds of people meet a lot of Great Souls, yet never seem to be able to hang on very long, like they are just passing thru and they leave you with an autograph, or a bit of leather... We save these these things, we incorporate them into our myths and our Story, and sometimes we stick them in lockboxes and others have to figure them out. But it seems right to me that if you get stuck on the idea that because you perceive yourself as merely part of the change and not part of the consequences, you can get sloppy on your participation. So a ritual provides you with the way of dispensing with all those various energies, "good" and "bad" and then you can move on or not, to your next interaction with Life. And it tightens up the whole design. Shamans are nothin of not folks who tighten up in a clinch. Like when a good old friend is dying and there's not a damn thing you can do to stop it. Stopping is a denial of Life, because Life is Change and so, therefor, must be Death. That's why the other Face of Persephone is the Crone, and no one can stop the Crone from coming in and doing what She Has to Do. Think about it. All those Fairy Godmothers jumping in and barging in to the King and Queen's chambers or spiriting away a child who Changes Everthing. It's just that Furlinghetti is getting close to the point when she will stop changing me.

No stops to scratch her tummy, no suddenly having to stop reading to allow her to talk to me face to face.... a lot of things will be left behind. Yet to hate change is to hate life and that's not such a great idea. Seems to me that hate in general is not such a great idea, and self-hate is gotta be even nastier. So you do what you have to do and deal with the consequences, knowing all the while that the consequences are not what defines You.

Dang. I liked it better when a sunny day was just a sunny day and not a day dry enough to dig a couple of graves.

Now think about some poor slob doing the same thing for his kids while our representatives talk of and balence consequences. If it hurts me so much to think about my poor cat dying, it must be amazingly hard on the rest of the world responding to what people are doing who apparently have every ability to point to me and my family and claim that we gave them a mandate to do this. But then I suppose that all change is part of Life and all that, and then it must be noted that we all have a right to find our spot to die in and maybe Furlinghetti has picked hers. I hate to think of dragging her off in a box to have some guy knock her out. Eventually she'll be where she was going to be anyway, but her last rememberence of me would be of stuffing her into a box and then pulling her out into the hands of a nice stranger.... I just find that hard to reach. I suppose maybe it's up to her.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sometimes it seems like I'm living in some kind of isolation ward with this computer my only outlet to the world. I have friends around the planet, few of which I have actually met but nevertheless I consider them all friends. The people who live in the houses nearby all have their schedules and patterns and it hardly ever seems the right time to pay visits. This is the curious reality of a wired-in, chronically ill house-husband. People don't like to ask you how you are when they know the answer is "in pain" and they don't like to ask about the family when all too often it includes the latest nightmare involving my son. So then the talk might pass to the television programs so many people like to watch, but somehow it seems that watching people conive and lie their way to big cash prizes, or eat worms and set themselves on fire, or the terribly funny sit-coms which involve married couples insulting each other non-stop, mostly about their intelligence or sexual prowess just doesn't have much to interest me. I've become a stick in the mud, a wet blanket, an outsider. So outside is in when you're talking about the internet universe. For instance if my back is acting up and I can't sleep I know someone in Pakistan is wide awake, or an Australian artist might want to chat about wood firing kilns. This tends to make me think of the monitor as the window to my neighborhood.

Ye Gods, my father's face stares at me from the mirror.

But I can hear my mother's voice when I sigh and remark that the birds seem to be having so much fun chasing the butterflies.

We are products of our own imagination.

The thing that pisses me off most about this back crap, aside from the constant pain and isolation, is that I would really like to build a stone wall, or do some more blacksmithing, or even slide into my chainmail and helm one more time and show those young sword and shield twerps what a real mace man can do. Seems kinda early to shift gears down to the "old guy" mode when I have so many great ideas that require something more of an intact spine. I keep fantasizing about a powered exoskeleton like Iron Man wore. What a great idea!

My sister keeps sending me articles about the artificial disc that has been approved by the FDA but there are some caveats about that. First off, of course, is that like the epidurals that did me no good, there is always a slim chance that something would go terribly wrong and then Dad and me would be able to have wheelchair races around the nursing home. Then there is the idea that the FDA also approved those drugs that made deformed babies and stopped the hearts of those guys looking for relief from arthritis. FDA approval to me merely means that some back room deals were cut and money was passed to a secret bank account, but then, I am very cynical.

Then I look at Furlinghetti, the little black and white cat who's body has gone over to the enemy and is even now growing new tumors on her belly. She's out back watching birds, chasing chipmunks and by and large just being a cat. So I ought to be able to do my art, weed my flower beds and by and large just be me. It has been said by many a person that I like to hear my own voice. That is to say I talk too much. Perhaps my dirth of local friends has more to do with my prattling on about politics, medical blunders or even just herb gardening. Curious that a great mind as myself would have a better chance at gaining new buddies by shutting the hell up from time to time, but it's an idea with merit. Maybe not everyone wants to hear about how the Koreans modified their tunnel kilns about the same time the Norse were exploring the Silk Road and wouldn't it be interesting if the kind of wooden framed houses the Finns built were not merely similar to the Japanese homes, but copies of them? I can't for the life of me figure out why someone would not want to know all about my time spent in a redwood stump while panhandling around the Bay area. Hell, it was fascinating the first dozen or so times I told the story! Short term memory loss has ramifications I never thought of, or if I did I quickly forgot.

So it's not so much of a whine, I hope, when I remark on my worldwide network of faceless friends. It's something that brings me hope and I often think the world would be so much better if it was a Law that people should go to other countries and share meals as often as their work schedule permits. It used to be a Code that if you broke bread with someone, or shared salt even with them that you could not harm them. What a great idea! I say let's start a mission to bus Americans to Sudan laden with baskets of 12 grain bread and bottles of vitamin enriched spring water. Then, when the people can get off their cots and pull on their tattered clothes they could come to America and parse themselves off to local familes and share their crusts of bread, toasted grubs and rusty cans of water from a local runoff. Maybe we'd be less inclined to call them gooks and shoot their babies. Maybe having been homeless and starving myself once or twice gives me a bit more insight into how hungry people live. So when the neighbor boy says we should nuke a country because They aren't like Us I say he should go live with Them for awhile and see how he likes having one hour of electricity every other day and no clean water, thanks to American bombs. But I digress.

The thing is that I think this internet thing, should it catch on, could be our window into the minds of Them and a window for Them to see Us as we really are. My mother was no Mrs. Cleaver, she worked hard every day of her life, in ofices and even on the factory floor. And we all know how unlike Dad was to Ward Cleaver. Goddess, I hope I was never like the Beaver! Instead of financing football stadiums we should finance entire family exchanges, spending a month each in twelve different countries as part of our one year hitch in the service of the world. How could we nuke a city where there is this great little market that sells silk cloth for pennies or has a cabaret where the dancers leap from table to table and the beer is warm but delicious? I think it would work too well and that's why they charge so much for passports. The Powers that Be don't want Us to get to know Them. We might find we like each other.

I wonder what kind of music Mozart would have made if he had had access to a sampler and a synthesizer? Or if he had heard Dave Brubeck or B. B. King? What a concept. We need time travel, too. I want to escort JC himself to the prayer services that our beloved Bush attends and explain what the man has been doing in the name of Christian conservatism.

Actually, that would be too rough on JC, he was always a sensitive boy. Better to bring Moses along. Now, he would kick ass!

Well, this is about as long as the old back will let me sit, so I guess it's back to the kitchen to add the mushrooms and carrots to the veggie stew. I'll end this thing with a bit I sent to an overseas friend I encountered trying to get some help on my sad little Amiga. The man not only helped out, but we chatted over several emails and became something like friends. He was remarking that he wished he was more creative, as in the way I do sculpture and such. I told him:

"Try to think of yourself as if you were your own father. Ask yourself what you would want that child to be, to do, to feel about himself. Then make the effort to give yourself permission to try. Those outside influences are invaders! You, as your own father, should stand in the way and protect yourself as your child. You block those influences while the child within you finds out what gives you the most joy. Then follow that joy. Personally, I love art. I always have. My father used to tear down my watercolors from the wall declaring that they were dreams in the clouds and I should get real and learn a trade. Funny thing.... now Dad is 84 and sickly and he told me a couple of years ago that when he was my age he wanted to be an artist, but he didn't think he was good enough because he looked at the museums and then at his poor work and decided to do something that he could earn a living at. So for 60 some odd years he was a miserable worker, drinking late at night and generally not a very happy man. He wanted to spare me the disappointment of trying to be a Picasso and failing. But I wanted to be a William Shirley and I couldn't fail at that, so after all this time I am making art and yeah, I don't sell anything to speak of, but my house is filled with things that could not exist if it hadn't been for my two hands. So I suggest that if you have something you enjoy doing, even if it doesn't meet the standards of the masters, do it. Just do what you love and don't worry about how good it is. It'll be good enough for your grandchildren or maybe some archeologist a few hundred years down the pike. Make yourself smile."

Not perhaps too insightful, but honest at any rate.