Monday, October 09, 2006

It's been awhile since I got online and longer since I last posted. I've been distracted somewhat by my back pain, which has gotten significantly worse. Sitting is pretty rough on me but I can't exactly type on my back. Another thing that I simply must work on is this machine. It is running WinME, which you might know is an antique, no longer supported and buggier than Win3.1. So even as I type, when I look up I notice that my last several words haven't quite made it to the screen. I pause, wait and watch as the screen sits, blank. Then suddenly the cursor blinks and the words start appearing. It's like that time is 1967 when I smoked opium with Ma Armstrong, the Buddhist witch. All my words of the poem I wrote didn't appear on the paper until after I wrote them and stopped to watch them appear. They trailed behind the actual writing by a few seconds. Ma saw that too, so it was a group hallucination. This problem is not, however, caused by good drugs but rather by a bad operating system.

Jon just got through with a stint in the Kingston hospital for throwing up blood and running a fever. They figure it was a feeding tube problem and did nothing to change it, just waited for the blood to stop and then sent him back. They don't do surgery on vegetables so it will happen again, every time the tube gets jiggled by maybe turning him roughly or just tangling up the tubes. He'll toss up the blood and then breathe it back in and then run a fever as his body tries to deal with it. One of these days the fever will run to pneumonia and then maybe Jon will get the break he needs: Death.

You might flinch when reading that, but it's the truth. The current system does not deal with people like Jon very well. He will never write a book, flip a burger, or vote, so why fix him? He is money down the tube, as it were, and there are lots of sick folks they can fix, so why waste time on him? I suppose one could argue that a life is a life and the Good Book tells us to help the helpless, but in the real world of North Korean bombs and sickly Arabs with a penchant for self destruction one more locked in mind is just too much to worry about. The nurse I spoke with hadn't even looked in Jon's eyes and was surprised to hear that he was not staring at the ceiling or moving his eyes back and forth like a robot. He was tracking me and following me with his eyes as I talked to him. They have stopped all therapies with Jon, the ones that would help. He's waiting for Godot right now, or waiting for the head of Che to be transplanted onto his shoulders. Maybe we could make him like Zaphod with two heads. Nah, better to leave him in bed like a bucket of flesh where we pour in brown feeding sludge and pills and water and dump it out now and then when it stinks.

That sounded bitter. I'm sorry.

Jon tracks and emotes like a man would if he were trapped in his form and half the people didn't know his name and nobody plays his music for him and nobody looks him in the eyes and talks as if he could hear. But that's not enough to get him Ritalin or Ambien or Brainfingers devices that would enable him to move a computer cursor. That's for folks who live 2 hours from the researcher. Apparently here in America we have a 2 hour rule on health care. If you can get within 2 hours of us we will try to give you a voice, but if you live in the only hospital that will accept you and it happens to be in the middle of East Bumfuck NY you are out of luck, son, and sorry to see it happen to a nice guy. He never got a break. I knew from his natal chart that he was due for some serious stuff but it always seemed to me that all them grand trines and such gave him the power to resist. Indeed it did work out that way but the results were less wonderful than I thought. He resists dying with a strength that is staggering to see, but he will not heal any faster and he can't move a damn thing to prove that he's "in there".

Mean time I sit here with increasingly painful jolts down my leg, trying to document some of this, trying to interest anybody else in his situation. It's like shouting down a wishing well because you ran out of pennies. Still, if I throw myself down the well and gather up all the coins, for $2100 I can buy a device that straps onto Jon's forehead and perhaps allows him to control a computer, if he's having a good day. At the same time Jess is fighting for her scholastic career as the Dutch screwed up her records and gave her a few undeserved F grades. They had refused to teach in English, telling her that some classes were self explanatory, which they weren't, and then told her not to bother with one class as it dealt with Dutch building codes. They then failed her for not coming, rather than assign her a class in English from which she could emerge with a grade that more accurately indicates her real skill level. We're working on that too.

So I have two kids trying to tell the world that they are smart and alert and can do the work. They are being held back by people who don't care and have forms to fill out. I write and talk to blank walls and throw myself down wishing wells but to no avail. It's time to have my eyes examined and nothing got accomplished today except the Moron in the White House has expressed his deep concern that North Korea wishes to have a nuclear deterent against an invasion by the United States. Not a very successful day but if we are very lucky some nurse is sitting with Jon watching his eyes, some clerk is looking over Jess's test scores and some diplomat somewhere is sipping whiskey with another diplomat and talking about the weather.

I have to stop talking now and take more drugs and strap an electrode set to my back to block the pain signals to my brain. Later I'm strapping the set to my brain to block the frustration signals to my mouth. Maybe I'll burn some clay today and see if I have a product to sell. I have started making lidded pots and serving dishes but I need to be able to shovel wood for several hours without screaming in pain. On the other hand maybe that will become a type of firing, like raku, except instead of the pots being subjected to stress the sculptor is. Interesting marketing concept. I wonder what Jon would say about it?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I tried to talk on the air today thru the local PBS radio. I wanted to talk about the ethics involved in having an adult child who was diagnosed as PVS. They had this medical ethics person talking, generally about problems experienced by children and their parents when it came to making decisions in medical situations. See, our story is more rare. As father of the man I have very few rights. Obviously if we had a paper saying that in the event he was unable to make choices, I had the right to make them for him. Now one of the cases they talked about was a very bright child of 16 refusing to have chemo for his cancer, which would certainly kill him. The therapy he wanted to take was herbal and the doctors described it as "spice therapy" and therefor useless. The judge came up with a fair compromise but it merely confirmed the obvious: that we have no choices, we only have defaults, and in today's world, in America, New York, the default is the State. But I digress somewhat.. he said..
They put me on and told me I had a minute or two so I was able to set up the situation, how as father I was told by all the doctors that when decisions were being made for Jon, no matter what I wanted in the end they could get 3 doctors to sign off on what they wanted and that would be that. In point of fact, that's how they presented me with Jon's DNR. I didn't get that far before they cut me off, but they asked me to stay on so the guy could talk to me after. I gave him more details and he grew increasingly uneasy with the problems I had faced. He was of the very strong position that everything that had happened to Jon, or for him, was not legal., that as the closest competent relative I had the final say in all things, even to removing the feeding tube, ala Schiavo.

Funny thing about the concept of telling someone to starve my son to death, it opens the door (again) on the subject of The Good Death. In the Abrahamic (?) faiths we start off with a father killing his son and it goes right thru the two Testaments. In each case it is presented as a Holy Act and one which advances the soul of the Father toward a higher state, or at least he is never brought up on charges. I keep recalling the news story of the guy driving down a highway with a knife to the throat of his son, saying that his son was possessed and to save his soul he had to cut off the head. I forget if he even cut the kid's throat before they stopped him. But still, the original story was not overly interesting to me except for it's Biblical overtones, I would like someone to tell me how the boy is today? If the cops had been of the same faith as that man, they would have held the kid down, and after freeing his soul, they would bury the body with honors, calling it a Good Death. Same thing happens when some kid in Iraq steps through the wrong gate and gets shipped home under a flag. It's a good death.

If Jon is dying as I write this does it prove that Irony is the name of the currently dominent god?

If so, He is a Trickster. I learned, or was told, that they had stopped Coma Stim therapy for Jon. So he gets to either lie in his bed looking up at the ceiling, or sit in his wheelchair near the nurse station, sometimes with a TV on, sometimes just in the quiet dark.

I was told, it was suggested, that I grind up some Ambien I acquire from the web and stuff it into Jon's feeding tube. It has been found to help some patients, to 'wake them up'. The thing is, first, that as I have found, there is little chance that I would be able to mess with his stuff before some aide walked by. I figure it would take me the better part of the day to fiddle with any of his plastic tubular crap, it just freaks me out. My philosophy with drugs, too, has always been to be extremely careful about what you take, where you get it. That is, after those years of psychedelic majesty. After my first marriage, my loss of son, my loss of sanity and health. Took me quite a while to recover from having to ship Jon off to live with his mother at age 3-4. It ate at me for years. When Jon came back home he was such a great kid, a bit wild, but still with some work... Then he left yet again, this time to a mother who was breaking apart. She gave up trying to have a social life and having a wild violent kid around, so Jon was once again shipped off. This was pretty bad, with the drugs and such. By the time he asked to return to his mother, and she was ready to try again, I think I had lost him in some deep down part. I had never been able to save him. I couldn't even protect him from himself.

Now some man, who means well, is talking to me on the phone suggesting I administer a drug that was designed for something else, but seemed to help people with limited neurological abilities, or even 'locked in' types. But I have to order the pills from the web, then ferry them down 100 miles in powder form in some kind of bottle, I suppose, and somehow get it into Jon's feeding tube in hopes it isn't amphetamine instead. Although, that might be something to try. Personally, if I was going to try something this bizare I would most likely slip a bit of blotter acid under his tongue. I used to say I'd like to go tripping on acid so at least there would be colors at the end. It's not so funny a concept nowadays, but a nagging kind of buzz in my ear, my inner ear. "Slip the kid something! If it worked, you'd help him. If it doesn't, who could see a difference? He's a potato!" Yup, sits in front of the TV all day, never goes out. Of course, having sepsis and such a few times, maybe that's a wise move. It certainly is easier on the facility.

So, I think Jon will have to do without me helping out in either a pharmachemical or psychedelic family. Not yet, certainly. I will however strongly suggest to pretty much everybody in the food chain that something needs to be done with Jon, something that involves him getting decent care in a safe place by good people and close enough that when I find myself in a wheel chair, I can still get over to see him and nudge him. Dang.

I have enough unfired pieces, masks and sculptures, to do in a couple firings requiring 6-8 hours and then a week or so to recover enough to walk without a cane. But still, I can administer to myself drugs of choice, trying not to mix my Foster's too much with the ones my doctor gives me. I have an interesting balancing act here, trying to walk between ethics and morality, pain and joy. It's a classic shamanic location. I should build a nice sculpture of Janus, or maybe even Odin. He was a serious shaman, hanging from a tree, sacrificed himself to himself and coming back with visions. I suppose if I keep this religious theme to my work somebody is going to think I'm obsessed, but that's better than being posessed. I need to switch to a Greco-Roman style kiln so I can fire in a few hours what takes me maybe 6 in a pit. That's the original style I planned to build but I played with downdrafts to learn clay and now I want to build kilns to learn that technology, and to create some beauty. They have to be of a type which will go up fast and then fire fast and break back down to be able to size the kiln to the load. I need a lot of bricks.

...Now this paragraph is several days later and the new meds have managed to beat down a lot of the side effects of the neurontin. That stuff is very nasty. It got rid of the pain down the legs but screwed up my memory and them messed with my hands and even apparently gave me a few panic attacks and serious disorientation. Sheesh. Now I'm trying Cymbalta and Lyrica. Just freaking amazing what you do to avoid disabling pain. The crazy thing is that, if you think about it, all pain is is a signal to the brain that some nerves are being pinched. Why do they have to natter on about it. My spinal nerves are being pinched by crushed vertebrae and bone spurs. No kidding. Hell, I was there when I fell! I know all about them crushed bones. Why can't you simply put up a "message received" notice and get on with it. What the heck does my body expect me to do? Re-inflate the bones? Seems silly, sort of an organic spam. And of course as always I think about Jon. There in his bed, maybe feeling all kinds of biological spam from his body, so much that he can't even move his eyebrows. That's gotta be very distracting and disturbing. That's exactly why I think he drifts in and out of reality, why his eyes won't focus or even fix on my face. He knows I'm out there, but he's just too busy trying to shut all those nerve signals up.

Ever read the Amber books? The ones about moving through shadows? I am convinced that people like Jon move through shadows and drift in now and again to collect their mail. I sure hope so. If I had 6 years to just be in a bed and think, and have all these nerves screaming at me all the time I think I could work up a good fantasy, one so real that coming back to a broken body would be not a good thing. So that's what I think he is doing most of the time. He's out there dancing with a nice looking girl under the moonlight. If the Diety has any sense of balance and justice, my boy is dancing somewhere with the girl of his dreams. When the body fails, the mind moves on. Sounds about right to me.

Take care of yourself, wear your seat belts and when lifting heavy objects use your knees. The rest of the time try to work up a pleasant fantasy involving music, moonlight and somebody you care about.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Alvin Toffler and his wife Heidi have written a book called "Revolutionary Economy", which deals in part with the idea that our economy as normally viewed is changing, broken and in need of an enema. The old systems no longer work very well, in much the same way that our weather prediction techniques are based on old records and the way things work in climate change means the old records are out the door, honey. So the old ways we measure economy and economic health are no longer working because the economy has shifted. I've talked about value added and money as labor deferred or referred. This is part of the same thing. Funny thing is that old Alvin used as his first example the OS called Linux. He also included Gates and Microsoft as the 'old school'. See, Linux was built for free by a single man, someone who saw a way to improve things and who was such a part of the 'new economic paradigm' that he did not think to patent and conserve his new OS, nor to market it with press releases, ads and interviews. He placed it on the web with instructions on how to use it. Then around the world people came who looked at the new OS and found ways they too could improve it. The source code was right there. So now we see Linux being used by entire countries, or at least their governments.

The way this works is that everybody needs a good stable OS that can do certain things. I needed an OS that could handle graphics, as in CADD, and some for games or playing around with my digital photos. Turns out Linux handles graphics very nicely. Let's say I needed a CADD prog and couldn't find one I could afford. I might find one in a book but then I have to get the code, compile and test it, and then use it. This slows me down a bit, but let's say I know a coder who loves to play around with code. They just can't get enough of it. Maybe they drink too much coffee or something. Anyway I give the code to them and when they fix it up for me I use it to design a new addition for their house. Saves them lots of money on drafting fees and I got a free CADD prog that does everything I like, and if I want to change something I can post the source code on the web and people can fiddle around until it works even better. Now this economic scenerio does not show up in any of the government's economic records because it was all done for free. In fact, if the government found out about it they would want the two of us to pay taxes on what the government says is the value of the transactions. So we make sure they never find out. Now we have a hidden economy which has the potential to shore up or even completely support an otherwise broken economic paradigm: fierce capitalism.

Capitalism works on the principle of taking more out of a system than you put into it. The excess, the cream on the top that you as capitalist take off is value added by the workers in the form of paid labor. See, if you used slaves to get work done you could charge a hell of a lot less for your goods and undercut your competitors but the government won't let you. Now as the production leaves the country and we are left with telemarketers and car parks the economy looks increasingly empty, yet people still get by. They eat, so they obtain food. In some cases they can grow food, especially if they doubt the quality of the food they would have to buy. IN most cases they buy, but let's say they buy from a local store. The local store knows them, so they can have a credit line. Maybe they can make nice herbal soaps and the store will barter for flour and sugar. People in the country and suburbs could live a long time like this. In the city you have trouble growing food, or making soaps. Well, actually the soap is not a real problem, but the chickens might be... except that my daughter in Brooklyn says there are chickens all over the place, but they are illegal and often used for cock fights. But this economy is also off the books. People in the city barter what they have for things they need. This is the true economy except in the old economic paradigm money counts as goods and labor and as the amount of money in an economy migrates increasingly to the top it appears as if there is no labor happening, no visual economy. Bill Gates cannot possibly be seen to have worked as much as three billion people, yet his bank account says he did, since money is a record of labor accomplished. But money has become a commodity itself divorced from production. That means that for some time the very rich get by trading money back and forth without any of them actually producing anything. They forgot why we trade. We trade to eat. We trade an hour's work for a loaf of bread. We trade the chickens we work for to the man who wants to eat the chicken and he gives us a new hot water tank for our bathroom. He had several he didn't need, and he needs to knnow that his food is fresh, untainted and clean.

The old reactionary economy works after the fact. You get paid after you work. With barter you get paid as you barter and the work can be accomplished when the people need it. Work deferred is money, and in this exchange the chit is memory, not paper or metal. You can't tax that which you cannot find. But governments need money to work and in the current American model it gets it's deferred labor by extortion. If you do not turn over 1/3 of your wealth to the government you will be attacked by the government and harmed in some way. So you pay your taxes. In exchange you get promises that this is the only way, or at least the best way to handle things like life and death. So a third of your life is spent being a slave to a system you may or may not benefit from. Oh, they say we are protected by the government from harm, but look how many people get raped, murdered and in the case of the WTC, blown up and burned alive. How safe are we? What about the schools? We pay for them and we find that as the economy has been changing our schools still teach in much the same way they did 150 years ago, except now we teach even less towards the future as adults and more and more teach to get high marks in an SAT exam. We do not teach people how to use ebay, paypal, google and so forth, yet those systems are clearly the new economy, or at least systems like that wherein people can post online what they need and how much they can trade or pay for it and people around the world can respond. As long as a means is found of collecting the material being traded people get by. If the economy is evolving into something that does not easily work with fierce capitalism and we are not teaching those skills to our children with our schools then how will they learn? By using the new economy! Face it, ebay and paypal are pretty darn easy to understand. You don't need a double entry spread sheeted accountant to understand that the old do-dah you have and don't want just flew out the door to some guy in Detroit and in exchange for which you have a certain credit noted on paypal.

If schools continue to promote such activities as football and basketball as part of the educational system, based on principles laid out in the 1800's, we can expect taxes to go up and quality of education to go down. Why? Because in fierce capitalism the price of commodities always goes up with demand. That means that a good football team, being in demand, will cost more and more as schools feel the need for stadiums, lights, sound systems and nice uniforms, nice chering squad, high profile coaches.... not one iota of which goes towards the stated product of that school: education to prepare a young person for the economy they will be participating in. Notice how more and more jobs require college degrees? And not just degrees, but Master's and even PhD's! For instance, I only have a high school education, but all my life I have studied art and art history, yet I am not permitted to teach those subjects at any level of our educational system because I have no college degree. It's against the law, not just a pattern set up by social needs. We need teachers. We need eager teachers with lots of experience and good communication skills. You'd think if education was important people like me would have a way to give their skilled labor to society and teach. But in fierce capitalism I have not 'paid my dues'. I did not buy a college degree and so I cannot give away my knowlege in such a way as to benefit the people who want it, ie with credit towards that college degree we all need to get a job. Isn't that odd?

Yet for all that I can set up a web site with lessons in sculpture and lectures and videos and even links to PDF files to take the place of books. I could do all that and have a better art history class, for instance, than the most expensive school there is. The people who learned from me would have not one credit to their name based on their educational experience with my web site. Our educational system does not credit knowlege, it only acknowleges credit. Let's say there is a man out there who can understand the way a star works. He can work out in his head equations which connect gravity, magnetism and electricity. Now he wants to tell the world because with this knowlege one could create cold fusion and each home could have a small fusion generator which would free new homes from the electrical grid, which is anyway failing from overuse. But this guy can barely speak, he's in a wheelchair and he's dying of a congenital fault in his personal system. What a loss for the world if he dies before he can communicate his information. The thing is, the people with the talking computers need money and he doesn't have much. He was a math teacher before being striken by this disease, he had little money to save from his meager salary. He needs a complex set of machines and computers to give the world this information and he can't do it under fierce capitalism because the people who have the goods want credit, not a stake in the future of the world. But let's say a geek in Iowa happens to be working on a wheelchair with a computer embedded and a speaking system based on puffing into a plastic straw. He's like that Finn who invented Linux. This guy lives in the country and wants to get his house off the grid, but doesn't want to have to cobb some parts for wind plants or biodiesel generators. He decides he wants fusion. Before the web these two guys would never meet but since the web they are seconds apart. The government wants a piece of the action. They want the cripple to pay sales tax on the chair based on their estimate of it's value and they won't even let the other guy hook up the cold fusion generator because he lives inside the Town of Wilton and the Town Engineer demands a stamped set of plans with references to the building codes and various state and local restrictions. The old government prevents transactions which benefit the individual (and the general public as well), not because there is a problem of public safety, but because it has gotten into the habit of only saying YES to something if it first gets it's cut. I know a church which was not allowed to move into their new building because it was made from a geodesic dome and the town engineer did not know how to read the stress load printout on a geodesic shape. It wasn't a safety issue, it was an issue of ignorance holding power over the needs of the people. Our current government, as exemplified by George W. Bush, is completely ignorant of the direction the world economy is going, and since we are a part of that economy we will have to figure out a way to work around the government until such time as that government simply fails to get in the way by virtue of it's being irrelevant.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's been 6 days now since my sweety-pie flew off to Ireland to have a little time off with her sister. One of those things that just flies up and you have to grab them. The day they took off was the day that they were working on that 'huge' and dangerous plot to blow up airplanes. I have to be cynical about that one, the most damage it seems to have done is lose Margaret's luggage for a few days and confuse the take off schedule. The more I hear about it, in fact, the more I wonder if there was anything more to it that a group of stupid kids talking about what they'd like to do, not unlike a group of stupid kids watching an early Meg Ryan flick (from before her lips got weird) and suggesting how they'd like to tie her up and have their way with her. I suppose they'd be guilty of conspiracy or something, but in fact they never were going to hunt her down. So we have at least 24 people in custody and so far no trace of explosives or material for explosives. In America we'd find explosives even if we had to sell the bags of ammonium nitrate to the conspirators ourselves, like we did in upstate NY.

That's part of the problem with the world, they haven't picked up on how to nail these bad guys. Just join the group, get them all worked up, introduce them to an FBI secret agent, sell them weapons, arrange for a meeting and then arrest them. Why, if we did this more often we'd have all the bad guys and all the potential bad guys in jail before you knew it! We'd need to turn the prison system inside out, though, with all the bad guys outside the prisons and all the good guys (ourselves) inside. There just isn't enough room to build the number of prisons you'd need to house them all. Heck, if we really got hard about busting everybody who breaks a law or who talks or thinks about breaking a law we'd need to take over part of Canada.

Which brings me to my interest in taking over part of Canada. All those bad guys who come over from Canada and infiltrate our country are getting away with serious crimes, like coming into the country. We need to be sure of our borders. So we need to set aside a security zone across our northern border to protect the American way of life. I figure about 10 miles should do it. JUst draw a parallel line 10 miles inside of Canada from sea to shining sea and we occupy that strip pf land, booby trap it, put in a few million land mines, guard dogs and so forth and then we can be pretty sure that theose soft Canadians won't be letting bad guys into America. Same goes for Mexico. Everybody knows that the Mexicans are still steaming about our little annexation of that stinking desert we now call Arizona, New Mexico and the rest of the south west territory. We know they are sending swarms of illegals into this country to try to take back the land we appropriated by becoming citizens and voting it away! So we move in the troops, maybe even accept squads of good old boys with pick up trucks, binoculars and shotguns, and send them all to a point about 10 miles over the line. Just until we get a handle on this.

The Brits must have done something right because Margaret is feeling perfectly safe traveling to Ireland and not worried at all about the IRA blowing up a bus station or something. The Brits occupied Ireland for hundreds of years, but this was before all the sophisticated weaponry we have now, like unmanned drone planes and smart bombs. But it worked and now the Irish consider themselves to be good solid business partners and solid citizens of the Empire. If only the Iraqis could be so reasonable we could all be very rich men. Not the grunts on the street who make the goods, but the people who put up the cash. That's how fierce capitalism works. You buy the army, you use the army, you disband the army. Everybody borrows to buy the Humvees and plasma screens and everybody is happy.

Margaret's happy eating sausages and drinking ale at the local pub. She said that Ireland is beautiful, filled with nice houses and castles and so forth. She's gonna bring me back a little jar of Irish dirt, which I might just add a bit to my garden, just to see how me taters grow next year. Actually, if you think about it, if everybody had a pint of ale and a sausage for lunch the world would be a better place. The Muslims don't eat sausage because it contains pig. That seems a bit odd to me, how the Muslims and the Jews don't eat pigs, but the Christians do. Why one sect would eat an animal and not another is so very odd. Why would you create an animal that is perfectly edible and then tell your human creations not to eat them? Makes no sense to me, but then I don't understand why you'd let cattle wander around just because you think some of them might be God incarnate or at least one of your relatives. I'd eat a relative. I'd cheerfully nibble on one of my cousins if I was really hungry and I'd appreciate it if they would consider doing the same for me, at least if they're still as cute as they were last time I was in Kentucky. But I suppose the guys who live out in the desert and whose cousins wear those sacks over their heads don't feel the same way as I do about familial cusine. And isn't it strange how the Irish look at a sack of potatoes and get all drooly in the mouth? Sure and it can't be the shape, or the color or smell, because it's just a sack of potatoes. But you take them taters and you peel them nice, get them all steaming hot and then smear butter all over them and it's a wonderful thing to be puttin in yer mouth, doncha know! And I feel the same way about my cousins. Under the right set of circumstances I think I could do it.

Now the Brits feel the same way I do, I'm sure. They don't go on about it, but you look at the Royal Family and tell me that breeding close to the line hasn't produced a fine crop of men and women. Look at old Charles there with them wind powered ears of his and that big sh*t eating grin and tell me that they haven't been crossing the line from time to time. That's how all those Royal Familes in Europe got that way, by refusing sausages, eating potatoes and smearing butter all over their cousins. The problem, as I see it, in the Muslim world is that they're still fighting over wells and goats and they should be fighting over stock options and commodities. I say plug the wells, bring in bottled water and plasma screen teevees and everybody would be too busy watching reruns of Bay Watch to worry about the goats. Peace in our time. With all those huge freakin' familes... Osama is like 56 of 75 kids or something... you almost have to be involved with your cousin if you're involved with anybody. But according to Genesis (the book, not the band) we all started from Cain fooling around with his sisters or possibly their goats. In the former we'd expect offspring of either extreme intelligence or extreme skill with a banjo. In the latter we'd get mutant STDs. After whacking his brother old Cain took off and created Babylon or something like that. Couldn't have done it with his mother. I don't think Eve would have stood for it, not after being burned on that whole Tree of Knowlege thing. So it had to be his sisters or possibly his nieces. Now, Able is out of the picture and we assume that most of the kids would have stayed close to home, but a few must have wandered. Maybe there was some debate over finding Able whacked in the field. Maybe some of the kids thought it kind of sexy whacking your brother and they took off after Cain to create a new place to live. But you'd have to be into incest or something to pull it off, unless we could do it with goats and not end up with satyrs. Unless... maybe we ended up with satyrs and that's why those guys in the desert never have pictures taken with their shoes off! In fact, waving your shoe at someone, or even touching someone's shoes is considered in really bad taste. That's why they objected to having the Marines knock father Iraqi to the ground and put their boot on his head. It was just the boot that was the problem as it reminded them about the occasional cloven foot they get from their ancient connection to a goat in Babylon. Wow. This could explain so much.

But if only they could have grown taters in the Mideast instead of relying on goats so much. It would have changed world history. Think about it... 5,000 years ago someone stole someone's goat and we are still arguing about it today. Still getting all steamed up over a well, too. Now if we had taters instead we might still be arguing over the well, but after a couple pints of ale and a shot or two of Tullymore Dew we'd be singing and laughing and making passes at our cousin and the world would be a better place for it. I love Bible stories, they give me hope for the world. That is, except for the one where everybody dies and burns and then only the Jews are left. That one bothers me a bit. But if we all of us descend from Adam and Eve and they were Jewish, then we all of us are Jewish and maybe there's hope for me yet. I missed my bar mitzvah and a few other rituals, but still I have hope. I'll talk to my rabbi about it as soon as I know who he or she is.

I can't wait for Margaret to come home and see what I've done with the house while she was eatin' taters and taking pictures of pubs and castles. I'm painting the bedroom, cleaning the floors and fixing up the paths in the yard between and around the flower beds. I guess in the long run I follow the path of Able rather than Cain. Oh sure Able never lasted long but he apparently appreciated a nice garden and kept a few goats. I tried the goats but they never shut up so I stuck with chickens. Cain, it seems, built houses and opened up a law firm, even arguing his case before the Supreme Court. There were only 3 people on the Supreme Court in those days, but it still was a great day for old Cain. It wasn't his fault, he came from a broken marriage and his childhood was marred by his father's drunken tirades against the Grandfather, Yaweh. Adam would brew up some vodka from the taters and grains they grew and then start in bugging Eve about how she'd let herself go so bad since leaving the Garden. She put on weight after the first dozen or so kids, she became surly and disrespectful and constantly accused Adam of still having feelings for his first wife, Lilith. Small wonder Cain lashed out and ran away.

I'm thinking of a pale green for the bedroom. Margaret likes a nice green these days, having gotten tired of yellow. If I could get the entire bedroom painted and ready for her when she got back I bet she'd be so happy she'd allow me to paint the kitchen when we redo it. I'd like to try some very discrete wallpaper in the kitchen, something with flowers or grapes but very discrete. Maybe I could try a band of wallpaper along the wall just above the counters. I saw that once so it looked like the kitchen was in a garden and it kinda opened up the room. I'd like to be cooking in a garden, it'd be cool. I can add pots of herbs and there ya go, a garden kitchen. That would be nice.

Well, I suppose talking is not walking and I have to walk upstairs to start sanding the walls and planning my next move. So much to do, so little time. Four more days until my sweety-pie comes home! I think I've done pretty good so far, keeping pretty sane, keeping busy. Didn't buy any goats.... I got that going for me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Meditating on the teaching of Abraham.

My friend likes to watch soap operas and if I drop by during their play I have to immediately can it until a commercial comes on. That's not easy for me, because I do seem to like to chatter on. At least a "hello" anyway. But once the commercial starts we get into the various characters and what they used to be like. I often comment on the dresses and odd hairstyles, comparing them with Kabuki costumes. I'm not always sure if she knows what I mean by that. So it's like that, like an old lady's knitting circle and one of them had come back from holiday and the others had to get her caught up on the latest. I can't remember the names and circles of incest and desires that she always explains for me but I appreciate the effort. She's a good friend.

From time to time one of these characters has an accident or is shot or somehow or another they get hurt, badly, and there they are in the hospital with the white gowns and tubes and machines wheezing. Sometimes it's a coma, sometimes amnesia will result, or they simply wake up one day. Often in that time where one of them is still with tubes and white gowns my friend will get agitated and exclaim that should she ever be in that condition, I should somehow take her out, "like that woman boxer in that movie, the one with Clint Eastwood, when he injected that stuff into her tubes. You should just take me out so I won't be trapped in that wheelchair." And then she remembers my son and starts to change the subject, but then it's out there and I have to respond. "No, I don't think so. I don't think I could do it. Not that I don't think it should be done, but if I don't have the hair to do it for my son, I don't think I could do it for you. I'm sorry." This puts a damper for awhile on the soaps.

Yet Abraham had no second thoughts, according to the various accounts. He was ready, even eager, to slash his son's throat. And all because a voice spoke to him. I don't know, maybe it's just the way I relate to authority, but if I had a voice telling me to slit my son's throat, I would have to ask for a second opinion. Now we have three large religions based on the life story of a man who was ready and willing and eager to slit his son because a voice told him to. At the moment several of the subdivisions of these three sects of the One True Faith are shooting, bombing, slashing, hacking, gassing and pretty much a whole slew of crap towards other people who claim the same heritage, and it is exactly because they claim the same God they are being targeted. And they have no second thoughts about it. Wow. To be that focussed and sure must be like being on a good quality speed rush in the middle of a guitar riff that howls to the heavens. I bet our President feels that way every time he orders another bombing. Awesome.

Suppose they did come to me with a form to sign and with that signing I would say that I at least, had no problem with them adding a considerable amount of barbiturates to his nightly tube feeding? What if, like the President, I was to be elevated to some near-godly status, being enabled to write off a human life with no consequences? Could I ever breathe again? Suppose I signed and some day they gave me a small cardboard package of my son's ashes to scatter, would I have the balls to scatter them around my house, or would I rush down to Arizona and dump them in the Grand Canyon? Yet Abraham might have burned the remains of his son and scattered the ashes around his house, no sweat. Because a voice told him to do it. He just had a gut feeling this was the one true voice, the one to listen to, not unlike the one that told George to set in motion a slow, grinding, mangling machine of crunching buildings and exploding land mines, sucking in everything in front of it and pushing out destroyed lives from the rear, this War on Terror he wants so much.

I often wonder how many times God has swooped low down and demanded a man show his faith by slashing his own child's throat. Seems to me that would take balls of steel. The slashing, not the asking, although maybe the asking too. Let's face it, if anybody I know was spoken to and told to slash their child open, there would be a very awkward moment. Yet for God, it can't be a very awkward moment because He can swoop, trickle, sparkle or otherwise manifest Himself in some other woman and make a new son. So offing one son isn't that big a deal. God doesn't get divine erectile dysfunction. But the first guy to write down this story, or maybe even to hear it... that must have been interesting. It's 3AM and you are dragging your drunk friend home. You get thru the front door, down into the living room, dump him on the couch and you turn to go but he grabs your arm and pulls you back. "Listen," he says,"I want to tell you something." You turn and try to pry him loose, but he's got a good grip. So you listen. "There was this voice, a voice like you never heard before. It just came out of nowhere. It was all around me. And it spoke, it told me..... it said.... it wanted me to take my son Jon, my oldest boy, and take him outside to that old stone altar we have from Grand Dad's days and lay him out and take that big butcher knife of mine... I didn't want to do it, but I was afraid. I was more afraid of that voice than anything I ever knew. I just took that boy, and I laid him out, and I took the knife. I took the knife and swung it up and came down with it... and just an inch from his throat my arm froze. I couldn't bring it down and I was so afraid I had failed that I wet myself. I stood there pissing myself and the voice spoke again, and it said "Good boy." I was glad. I was so glad that I had done okay that I never thought about what I would have done if that voice hadn't come back and stopped me. What I would have said to my wife, to the neighbors. To the Rabbi..."

We have three vast bodies of mankind slashing at the throats of each other. and what will we do if there is no voice? What if no Hand of God reaches down to stop the murder? So strange. For that matter, what if the Voice comes back and it's speaking Cantonese? Wouldn't that be embarrassing?

Still, the nut doesn't fall far from the tree. You know the quality of a faith by the stories that the followers follow, the ones they talk a lot about. Oddly enough all three of these faiths seem to talk a lot about torture, death, wars, incest and pretty much all those things we would do without the influence of religion to make it easier to slash one's neighbor.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I just finished reading a book entitled "Towing Jehovah", about just that; a dead God being towed to the arctic for final resting. It was full of religious and anti-religious musings, stuff about the Pope, angels, sailors and so forth. Pretty good read, all in all. For a pagan it was absorbing as it described the corpse and the way the death affected the various people. Of course we had the traditional sex scenes and the Jew dealing with his faith vesus the priest dealing with his. Odd how they all miss the point I would have taken up: a two mile God is not terribly large compared to the universe. In fact, a two mile long God is really very tiny compared to even the moon. I find it hard to get all religious about a 2 mile long corpse, but I liked the book.

It's June, cold and damp. Welcome to upstate New York.

I planted a lot of things in the garden that should have sprouted and given me lots of happy summertime food, but since it's decided to rain for several months non-stop with cold and damp intruding everywhere some of those seeds haven't sprouted. If we ever see the sun again I plan to plant snow peas. They are the only veggie named appropriately for this neck of the woods.

I've been in the studio working on a set of figures modeled after various religious figures, but as females. I have had a Jesus-as-woman for some time now but never went beyond it. I have this idea of Vishnu as woman and am working on it, but I keep getting distracted by the idea of portraying Shiva instead, especially as the world seems to worship destruction more than anything else, at least the politicians and leaders do. But as Hinduism tends to have male and female roles weaving in and out of the myths, so Shiva and Vishnu are part and parcel of the same thing. Nothing is ever destroyed, it just becomes something different. Those demons that Shiva blasted must become compost. What of the fruit of the tree planted in their blood? In "Towing..." they have plants growing incredibly huge using plasma and skin from the body of God. Have we not all grown so big from the same mix? Are we not bigger than the single celled living things from which all life came? God is not dead, He's just gone all composty.

Well, it's cold and damp and I have little to say today. My son is still PVS, my car is still slightly defective, my body still decays down the spine.....we all need sunshine. Frankenveh must sometime rise and speak: "Let there be warmth!" and there was August.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A week in the Netherlands was not quite enough time to see what I wanted to see. We arrived in Rotterdam and our daughter showed us some things about the trams and the little cute cars and we ate at a Mexican place with all the menus in Dutch. One thing that comes to mind when thinking of Rotterdam is the way people get around on trams so much when they aren't using bikes. Every ten minutes a little yellow train pulls up and you hop on, just like in Meet Me In St. Louis. Somehow we got into a two meal pattern with a nice coffee and fruit kind of breakfast followed by running around the trams, boats and trains to get to a quiet place like Keukenhof to look at all the flowers in the world. Miles and miles of stripes of reds and yellows and blues and off in the distance, in the middle of the field would be a small schooner. Seems that instead of dirt roads going around a person's farm you had canals with all kinds of boats in them for moving from the little canals to the big canals until eventually, I guess, you're in the ocean.

The people all spoke American pretty well, at least enough to tell us we were on the wrong train, although that was after we missed our flight home. None of the trains had much graffiti on them and none of them had any inside the trains. The trams were the same way. I saw a lot of tags on the overpasses in the highways.... and I was almost surprised to see they had highways at all. Somehow I would expect bigger ships or something on bigger canals. These canals went everywhere and had smallish roadways either right next to them or with a grassy area between. This grassy area was often punctuated with statuary, even a Rodin or two just hanging out next to the canal. No graffiti on the statues either. The one thing that really grabs you after awhile in Rotterdam is the number of bikes. Not fancy new 12 speed bikes but old 1960's one speed fits all and no hand brakes kind of bike. Miles of bikes in parking lots. Miles of bikes along the road, chained to posts and signs. A lot of the bikes have busted wheels and rust on them, abandoned long ago by an owner who figures $30 a bike beats fixing a busted wheel. People steal parts off abandoned bikes, like pedals and sometimes wheels.

The museums were astounding, not just because they had so much fine art, but that there were so many of them around. In Albany, a much bigger city, you get one museum and sometimes on loan a Van Gogh. In Amsterdam you get an entire museum dedicated to that guy alone! Then one block over is one filled with Rembrandt and his peers, another dedicated to items like furniture and so forth. Just amazing amounts of art. The buildings everywhere have a sculpted face over every single window. The doorways are carved with vines and animals and faces, and the doors themselves often have stained glass or Art Deco moulding. I took over 1500 pictures in 5 days. I took shots of ducks, trees, buildings and building parts... just couldn't stop snapping pics. Then we got home, eventually, and I went up to the studio. Passing my flower beds I knew my efforts were just begining re the landscaping. At Keukenhof I saw what real masters can do with flowers. I want to advance at least to journeyman status. I need hundreds more bulbs.

In my studio at last I swept, vaccumed, stuffed, stacked and wiped until I have a space where work can really get cracking. Poor Persephone looks a bit upset being shoved off to one side, but until I can fire her I have to move her out of the way. Now I have to decide if I want to work on Buddha or Krishna. I'm also toying with Sudra. She would be ideal for the times. When they released her to fight the enemies of the gods they got more than they bargained for, just like we got more than we bargained for when we allowed the ultra-right wing bastards to take over the country. Death and chaos follow fools. Time to get to work, to allow this trip to flow thru my arms to my fingers and into the clay. Who will emerge from the mud is anybody's guess. Kind of exciting.

Monday, April 10, 2006

We plan to travel to Holland in a couple or three weeks to visit Jess. She's attending school there for a semester and we figure we can use the old credit cards and get us a visit, my first to Europe. I wonder if my biography will note this trip as significant or miss it entirely. If you think about it, every moment of time we spend in this existence has the potential to be the last. Each breath could contain that virus that takes us out, each sniff of a flower could be as a gunshot to the heart. So every journey could be the first step in your new life or that final trip from which we never return. I suppose it should make one think about what all we've done, but in my case it makes me want to wash the windows and get rid of all them dust bunnies under the couch and chairs. Forget about under the bed! That's no man's land.

Lately there's been a few shows which mention comas and PVS and such like. I suppose because in part there are a lot of people coming back from Iraq with blows to the head from IED's tossing their (un)armored humvees into the air. So talk shows occasionally mention it, although they don't actually bring in a TBI survivor to try to explain what's up. I think it would be interesting if Dena could bring in her husband and have him suddenly decide to stand up and pee on the floor. It's one thing to have him do it at home, but on Letterman? Nah, better to talk about them, around them and thru them. But there's more of them every day.

We're talking about life insurance now, trying to figure out how to put enough on me to help pay the bills, especially Jess's school loans. Being disabled and over 56 I'm not sure anyone would be willing to sell me insurance but it would be nice to have her able to pay everything off instead of spending so many years working and working and not being able to save anything. Of course, she's used to having very little money to work with so she'll be alright no matter what we do. I have a lot of faith in her. I had a fair amount of faith in Jon, except his inability to see the logic in wearing a seat belt bothered me a lot. I also worried about him always looking for Ms. Right in local bars and concerts. My experience has been that you tend to find fun girls and sometimes interesting girls, but maybe not so many stable girls and in Jon's case I would have to vote for stable, given how unstable his mother was.

If we go to Holland and something happens to us, or to me, what happens to Jon? NObody would be able to take up the slack, although Margaret will most likely try to do something for him. I know that visiting him would be way hard on her, maybe too much to handle. But on the other hand, I have no indication that anything like that will happen. Normally you don't get too many clues about life's little surprises, but stuff like that comes thru. The big things come thru. But still you wonder. With no father coming in to inspect his feet and hands and breath, his wounds and tubes and scars, who will love him like I do? Who will cry when he's sick, or go to some second hand clothing store to find an amusing shirt for him to wear, hoping that he will understand the joke? That would suck. So I suppose I'll have to stick around and be the guy who gets to deal with all this until the Goddess takes him back. Next time I bet he wears his damn seat belt! Assuming he goes to a place where they have cars anyway...

I'm tired and I hurt. I have flowers to plant, trees to trim and things to sculpt. I can't rest yet, I can't 'retire' until some of these things get done. I bet I have a dozen sculptures banging around in my head now, some decades old. The series of God as Woman isn't very far. I'm working on Krishna now, the sketches anyway. Likewise a few sketches of Buddha as woman are coming along. I think I'll use the Crucified Woman as Jesus since there isn't any good description of Yaweh, except maybe a burning bush. That would make an interesting sculpture insofar as womanly attributes are concerned, but not really my genre or taste. Maybe things would go better with a Fosters. Kill the pain, rest the mind, get on with it. Well, I suppose that these blogs may get shorter if sitting is the only way to write them... the lower back seems to feel that spasms are a happy celebration of Spring, whereas I see them as my alternating days of pain and glory. The days I rake are glorious, and the next two days are sleeping, resting and choking down more pain meds. Kinda slows one down, but the clay is thawed so it's time to work. I really want to try this year to switch the noborigama to propane and to build a smaller updraft kiln to fire Persephone. Two projects, three if you count the roof on the sauna. So we'll see what I have to say about this in the coming Winter.
At the moment we're surrounded by critters. What we fail to recognize is that we are always surrounded by and inhabited on and in, critters. That's the natural state. So I laid out piles of critter goodies, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, grains and nuts, hoping that the chipmunk would take to the piles rather than strip the birdfeeder of it's goodies. But since the piles were added now I have a squirrel chomping away on the porch while the chippy lays into the bird food, probably watching his/her ass vis-a-vis that great grey thing over there chomping away. That's the way of things. Then, as I walk thru the house I see the birdfeeders on the south side simply dripping with birds and I don't feel so bad. There's a couple of chickadees who insist on hanging by the back porch, but they ought to ignore the chippy and the squirrel and go south where the other birds are. Their karma or something I guess.

But some of the birds on the ground are robins, and they are mostly carnivores, so some of that hopping and pecking is probably taking some life. Some early worm or early bug, maybe one been laying around in a frozen daze just woke up and took a hop... and before you know it the bird is a little more energetic, bravo, Bug. There are daffodils just now sprouting up, down by the stream. The reeds are so thick there that you almost miss them when they open up, probably a couple of weeks from now. And the reeds are useless for seeds for the birds, and useless for the human walking thru them, both for seeds and a thatched roof. Nope, the stuff is too old and dry, like a spinster aunt living in the back cottage, forgotten almost but still occasionally recognized for what it is. We forget that all those 'things' had a history, a past and some kind of future. Well, not really forget per se, but we certainly focus on other stuff somehow. Like I lose track of the fact that some of the stuff I throw out or drop without thinking about it will feed a critter that night, maybe warm up the cockles of some foreign heart. There is no waste in Mother Land. Just maybe in the Father Land. Certainly some waste there. I have these rodents living in my house and I hear them scratching in the walls and ceiling like some Poesque background music, except my sweety-pie hears them too. Now, I hate to put up traps, but I have found that there is no reasoning with these people. They will, of course, come into my house and take what I have around that they need. To them I am perhaps a noisy meat mountain. Just like I am learning to think of them as eating machines with runaway batteries, and they poop, too. The poop is bad enough, but the piss is real bad. I've rid myself of several beasts that did that sort of stuff in my living space. I understand they can't help Doing It, but they can be warned, maybe post humously, to stay out of the big meat mountain thingy's stuff. If it smells like Human, walk away. It works for awhile but since I'm not allowed to surround the house with signs written in rodent, sometimes I have to use brute force. it's something we humans are very good at.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I keep noticing how trees look like giant bird legs when their roots are exposed. Don't know how I came to that observation but now I find myself looking a lot at the bases of trees to see how their roots look. To another tree I might be seen as some kind of pervert but I'm gone too fast for them to stop me. "NO-O-O-O-O!!" the cedar screamed, but the big creepy man was gone in the blink of a stoma....

But when I looked up I saw how the tree was planted about 2 feet from the corner of the garage and just like the ones that used to grow out front, this tree would have to go. But truthfully, it's just that if it grows too much more it will threaten the integrity of that corner. So something had to be done. I got the idea of trimming the top just below the corner of the roof and then the tree would likely begin growing more sideways, maybe make a nice screen... But then, when you think of that living being with it's most lately created, youngest, and highest of it's being suddenly clipped off, for what reason these new cells are consigned to the burn heap? Why, to make a screen for that perverted creepy thing!

But bonsai is like that in spades. And actually, I like trimming trees to make new shapes. Topiary creates new things, especially when I apply masks and other parts. But still, how they fight back, with thorns and broken stems, leaf dust even. But in the end I clip where I want and they grow pretty much how I want. I'm glad I can't hear the voice of the dryad involved, but there must be one, for all living things have spirit. Tradition for me anyway, is that dryad is the name for tree spirit. So that dryad had better be an art lover and I better be careful not to kill the tree! Otherwise, every time I walked past a tree, it would reach for me and try to scratch me. And rightly so! I ought to do better than that. I am, after all, the peak of creation, bar One. And said in a humble and not-at-all bragging thought, but really, at some level I Must be the highest, even if down here at this level I am nowhere near and I screw up all the time. This time I am right. If I trim that tree right about there it will be able to grow a truncated kind of life, but better than being turned into the leg of a table, just because it's root ball looks just like the leg of a giant bird.

That bird could be all of Creation, and all we see are the legs here and there as She walks through the shallow Waters of Existence. She'd be the Great Stork and we would worship Her by leaving fish guts in shallow waters near Her nests. As long as the bass hold out there is fecundity for all.
We'd see the whole Dance as trees growing. You gotta think about: those trees don't stop. Out there at the ends of the stems there are openings where the air comes in and mixes it up with the water inside to produce more cells and advance the hole. Now and then they build big solar panels to power the whole thing. But now and then a whole People go missing and growth is changed, they lose their direction and begin growing to the left and right and doing both badly badly, not like the original Plan. Even the Roots send less and less water. There are scars that never heal. And that creepy pervert walks by and plays with the Roots, dumping decaying fish among the First Roots to further humiliate us all. Still, somehow we find a way to build and expand the Tree, even as the wounds heal. We like to think that there is a Plan somewhere, a reason for all these changes we go through.

He Who Clips is just so damn fast, we can never get a real good glimpse of what it is that drives Him. Through the Net we know that others, sometimes entire nations, have been clipped and most often, burned. It is the Way of Life. We make our offerings to Earth each time a Clipping is perceived and Acknowledged.

But, let's face it. There are those who do quite well while others are being clipped. There are those who even prosper while others die. Accidents happen and Fate is sometimes strange, but it grinds me that sometimes others do so very well, often forcing other living beings to live in the shadows of their prosperity. Still, the parasites continue, decay and growth somehow balance, and sometimes those big bushy clusters are the next to go when another clipping comes. And the clippings never stop. We know that trees and shrubs and even mushrooms have all been here before and will likely spring up again somewhere, some time. There's a time to grow, a time to decay and even a time to burn. Every time we eat or even breathe, we take in some of those who have been before. We should remember that, and remember too that no matter who we were, or how great we became, in the end we all go back to Mother Earth. Even Mother Earth burns at the end. Science tells us that and so does Religion. So it must be true. But too, all fires go out some time and the rains come, the earth cools and She begins reaching out for the Sun in the Spring. All I want to do is trim Her Fingertips a bit. Just so the corner of the garage doesn't get all green and punky and have to be replaced. One more thing to think about.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I bought this foot scraper awhile back because I know come spring time our boots are going to be treading all through the kitchen leaving behind lots and lots of mud and crap. My friend Sharon has one of these outside her house. I love it! It has brushes on the sides and along the bottom and it gets firmly screwed to the deck outside the door. I always have to use it befor she lets me in to visit. I actually come half the time to visit her dog Tish, but Tish would make me scrape my boots too.

In order to attach this to my deck I needed a good heavy screwdriver especially as the deck is pressure treated wood. Well my sis sent me a box of tools from Mom's house that she figures Mom won't need as they were Dad's and Mom doesn't do much in the way of tools. She can always get Michael down the hall to do anything like that or even the maintenance people. I took out this ratchet screwdriver and started in using it. I quickly found that like so much of Dad's stuff, this was a cheap knock-off whose ratchet threads quickly wore out, leaving the poor thing spinning worthlessly. I went back to mine and finished the job. I started thinking about all those tools out in the shop with bad threads and bent metal... all those cheap-o tools dad would buy, often from an ad on the TV or a back of the mag ad. Sometimes cruising through K-Mart Dad would grab some little gadget made in China that looked just like the real thing only at a fraction of the price. They pretty much never worked. There's a coo-coo clock in the bathroom with 12 pictures of songbirds and on the hour there comes from that clock the strangest moaning sounds you ever heard. Nothing like a bird, that's for sure. Mom thinks it's because the batteries are low. I think it's because Dad bought a $19.99 special from Reader's Digest.

As I put away the screwdriver-like thingy I got to thinking about all those $19.99 specials Dad liked to buy. I wonder how much he put into them. I know I had a pair of pants he bought from a magazine that came in with enough waist to put both of us in. There were leather-like shoes that never wore out, unless you wore them. He says he was just trying to save some money but to some extent you know he was trying to have some faith in humanity. He wanted to believe that somewhere someone might sell a great tool or toy for a fraction of what the name brand costs. He wanted so hard to believe that with a smile and a handshake you could get a good deal on a car. You could be sure that If Dad sold you something with a handshake and a smile, that it would not only work, but if by some chance it failed he would buy it back. It was the right thing to do. That's why I never ended up with his survey equipment. He gave it to his crew chief when Dad retired so the guy could make a living with it. Instead the guy made a lamp out of the transit, because no surveyor uses those old optical transits any more. I suppose the level is a doorstop. Trouble is, I know how to use an optical transit and I would have used it to set up my fences and sheds and garage, maybe even survey my garden. Instead I have to look to ebay for a Gurley Transit in good shape with case and tripod. I do this hoping that someone somewhere got an old transit from their dad and now didn't want it or a lamp made from it. Dad would have loved ebay if he could have seen the screen of the computer.

Pappy loved a bargain and not because he was cheap. He loved bargains because we were poor. We were not middle class most of the time, we were poor. And Dad wanted us to have the kinds of things that middle class Americans had. He wanted us to have a nice house, a TV, good food, maybe even a car for him AND Mom. Not so much to ask and certainly not outrageous for a hard working man to expect. So he bought low. He brought home gizzards and salad and big bags of popcorn from the bar. We ate onion soup when we ran out of potatoes and when we ran out of onions dad would get a small jar of chipped beef, some flour and milk and we'd have SOS. He could feed us all with some day old bread and an egg... take that Jesus! Maybe he couldn't walk on water but he sure could stay under a heck of a long time while I rode on his back in the public swimming pool. Maybe he couldn't raise the dead and heal the sick but that didn't stop him from trying. When I got sick Dad was always there, always doing the right thing and without a complaint. Later he would get drunk, when the smoke cleared and he had the time.

It must have driven Dad crazy to have me leave the tools out in the yard after making some crazy toy like a boat for the canals around the nearby fields. I'd follow that boat all over the place on my bike, waiting by the locks and small falls where the water got diverted into the cotton fields. I thought it was because Dad had a fetish about neat, but now I understand why it was such a drag to have a saw get covered in rust, especially a nice one. Now I still leave things out in the yard, but now it's my voice saying "Oh, no! Look at this rust!" Dad used to wonder what it would take to make me learn to put things up. Don't really know, Dad, I still screw up.

And then he'd have to buy some oil or navy jelly and try to fix what I screwed up. I wonder why he didn't make me clean it up? Maybe he tried when I was too young and he just gave up on me. He would do that, expect a 4 year old to understand something a 9 year old might. Why not? He could do that when he was 4! Maybe, maybe he could. I think Dad had selective memory about his youth. That's why he would tell me horror stories about Grand Dad Riley beating him after he stole a car when a later story would have Grand Dad laughing when the cops told him about Dad swapping license plates to avoid getting caught. "Well, well. That was pretty smart!" Riley chuckled. Dad was hiding behind the door in wonder. See, I wouldn't have had the hair to hide from Dad and listen in on one of those busts. Dad would have tanned my hide good. For that matter I don't think I would have stolen a car just to see if I could do it. Dad never sold them, just drove them around. See, he never thought about the money, just trying out his skills and having a good time.

So the foot scraper is done, my ratchet gadget was better made than Dad's. I guess I'll save Dad's and see if it works for small jobs, but I suspect the reason it was stuffed under the sink with those other tools is that Dad found it didn't work and rather than try to get his $19.99 back he wrote it off and stuffed it under the sink. Well, Pappy, maybe I'll figure out what to do with it. Maybe make a sculpture out of it, the kind you might see in a gallery and say, "Jeezus Christ! Look at that, Billy! Hell, you could do something like that and make a million dollars!" Nah, Dad, not a million, but I bet I could find someone to buy it on Ebay for $19.99.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Awhile back I started to work on a series of sculptures (I seem to like to work in series) with the idea that I would examine the dominant deities which are lately thought of as male, and show them as female. It all came from a crucified figure I made with a female form and which I later recognized was the equivilant of the Catholic Crucifix. The basis of the veneration certain highly religious people feel toward images or even certain objects, is the closeness, I believe, to archetypal iomagery.

So, with a 'Jesus' image there I did a very nice Persephone and am still working on that now. Still got the face to do yet... sigh. Anyway, with all this stuff going on about the Muhammad cartoons, and which I am very ambiliant about, I got to worrying. Was this a good time to be going ahead with a theme of religious icons portrayed as female? And that got me started about a whole stream of images which could be gender-swapped, and what would that do to the images? I've started on an image of Kali and started an image of Krishna but I started thinking about the variations on the theme. And that's what slows you down. Getting all het up about some detail or another... better to let it drift off to the side while you create. So I decided that Krishna as a child was a good topic, with the additional neat thing that I could possibly work on a Mother and Child theme too. Gets complicated if you get too many cross-threads, but you get what I mean.

Well, I think the problem with having access to so much information is the processing time required to catalog it all. Nevertheless, you gotta wonder if they are chopping the hands off in various ways, should we stick out our neck? What if they miss and hit a vital organ? Yeah, that would be bad. But Here it starts to get interesting, because since I equate archetypes with gestalt on a grand scale... well, you just gotta know that if Krishna as Kali makes public policy now, things will get 'interesting' on the street.

But for those of us living on the rim of things, these can be full times. I just have to relax and let the breath out. Like being flushed down the toilet, you might not be full of shit, but you're going down anyway. I think in times like these I should just make the strongest pieces I can make and just not bandy them about. I say this because after I do Buddha and some of the Western deities as female I will sooner or later come to Islamic images and they are lately cutting off people's hands. Both our "Side" and "Thiers". I really think the guys on our side like to watch more than the guys on the other side. But you can be slippery and if I make the right images and do it well, when this whole things blows over at least there will be a record that thru it all some of us kept our sense of humor.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I want to discuss class in America. Just for sport, not to cause any great discussion or insult anyone's upbringing or political viewpoint, but just to talk about it. After all, blogs are really about the writer's ego, aren't they? Instead of having to have an editor go thru and revise your words, or have some publisher cancel out whole chapters a person can write merrily away as if they understood the subject, and although I have a link to my email account so far nobody has written and said I was a jerk and I should take back what I said. So here I go, talking about something of which I am a part, but about which I was never instructed. It's just me.

To begin with we can observe that class is not something like a specific frequency of light, like 'red' or 'blue'. It's more like a range of colors where red fades into purple which moves into blue and all those inbetween colors like 'reddish-purple' or 'magenta' have validity on their own. Likewise colors vary depending on the observer. As we have noted before, existence is in the eyes of the beholder. So class is in the eyes of the beholder, too. Although George Bush is a very wealthy man and therefore part of the wealthy class, one would be sore pressed to call him a 'classy' man. But America is an intensely class oriented society. Obviously wealth, and the acquisition of wealth is the mainstay of this society. One is measured by one's wealth. George liked or likes to drive while drunk and although he was busted more than once for doing so he saw no jail time, nor will he ever. Not because he is a reformed man, since he now endangers millions by his irresponsible actions, but because he is even more wealthy than before. Thus although he has killed by proxy thousands more than Charles Manson, who perhaps killed one person, Charles Manson will never see the outside of a prison. He is poor.

Another example of how class works here is our response to disasters. The government under George Bush uses it's vast resources to protect the wealth of a small handful of Americans and others in countries such as Britain and Israel. We send thousands of Americans out to kill and die to protect oil wells, shipping lanes and the like. We send angry letters to protect the poor people in Darfur from what we admit is a genocide in progress, and we hold press conferences to help the poor people of the Gulf Coast. Sometimes, in the case of the victims of the calamities in Pakistan we send promises of aid. It has been argued that we spend billions to fund aid to the poor in America but if you were to go out into the cold on the streets of American cities you would find that somehow those billions don't do a lot insofar as feeding and housing the poor. We are told this is a trap, that too much aid would encourage the poor to stay poor. We point to multi-generational welfare families, as if they have decided that living hand to mouth on welfare is better than working for a living. Out of the millions of poor in America we extract one or two criminals who cheat the system as examples of how welfare if actually bad for people and gives them an opulent lifestyle while the wealthy have to struggle to make ends meet. Those who have a chance at upward mobility sometimes like to reference these criminals as the norm among the poor and encourage the government to cut them off, cut them all off. But like the dairy farmer who is faced with one sick cow the government simply kills off the few examples of the poor who dared to maintain a high profile. The quiet ones are allowed to continue browsing until it comes time to harvest what value they have. Recently we hear about organs being removed from street people and sold to the wealthy. This is somewhat unlikely as those organs would not be very healthy and the wealthy can certain afford to buy better quality organs than that.

On programs like Tavis Smiley on PBS we see a lot of racism used to explain class in America. References are often made to the legacy of slavery, forgetting that slaves in America were also white, brown and yellow. Blacks are encouraged to think of themselves as descended from slaves, even if their families came from Europe as immigrants who never saw the African shores. This helps keep them in their place. But race has nothing to do with class. Wealth is what determines class in America as we are a capitalistic society, not a white society. It's easy for Americans to accept a black man working in the White House, if that man is wealthy. Even when a black woman strolls across the White House lawn holding the (white) President's hand we see no problem because that woman is not only black, but wealthy. Besides which, the President chose to hold her hand, she did not force it on him. He chooses to play with her, to exercise with her and she refers to him as her 'husband' without any outcry. Obviously her skin tone is not the issue. She is wealthy enough to have earned the right to fool around with the President, just as he has earned the right to slaughter hundreds of thousands of poor people around the globe. He is a multi-millionaire and so has unlimited power.

Our main objection to communist China and communist Russia was not so much their treatment of the races, but their refusal to allow our wealthy citizens the right to buy any of their assets. It is human nature to note differences in skin tone even as it is deer nature to reject albino deer from the herd. But it is a societal choice to reject the poor and to demean the poor lifestyle. Notice how the main proponents of Christianity live. Compare the life of Jeshua with that of the Pope or any major evangelical minister. It's like night and day, yet the wealthy suggest that they are followers of the Christ by virtue of their material support of the local church. Build a cathedral and go to heaven. It takes money to bribe St.Peter to open the gates to someone like George Bush, otherwise how could a mass murderer speak of being a born-again follower of a man who said the wealthy have as much chance of gaining heaven as a camel would have of passing thru the eye of a needle. It has nothing to do with philosophy, color of skin, or background. It has everything to do with access to wealth.

Throughout history the rich have taught the poor that they have a place in society and aspiring to a higher post can be noble, but will only be successful if they can somehow acquire wealth. Why else would people risk their lives to rob a bank when simply working and saving would take them out of poverty? Generally the poor are set up to remain poor. Even if you look at the conditions of the neighborhoods you can see the enforced class divisions. Streets have more potholes in poor parts of a city. Buildings are crumbling and schools have out of date textbooks. Since the number of poor is by nature going to be much more vast than the number of wealthy it would be obvious that the poor classes have more assets in terms of ideas and availability of labor, yet when the President wants to have a speech delivered about the needs of the poor he goes to wealthy think-tanks rather than holding town hall meetings with the poor living the life. Likewise when a city or other government does something to eliminate poverty they usually build up poor neighborhoods beyond the ability of the poor to afford the property taxes, thus driving them out of the neighborhood and giving the impression of an improved situation. Well off people walk the new streets surrounded by townhouses and brownstones, but the neighborhood has not one poor family and no one seems interested in tracking the whereabouts of the people who used to live in the ghetto, once it has become a middle class neighborhood.

Societies are like any other natural construct. They live and die by patterns long established and impossible to change, anymore than one can change the path of the sun across the sky. Revolutionary societies immediately make revolution illegal and smother dissenting viewpoints. The leaders become wealthy and insulated from their origins and they become increasingly reactionary as they get further and further away from their true base, the poor. Eventually they must become repressive and violent in reaction to the unease felt by the masses of poor. The poor in their turn become reactionary to the point when they hit a 'tipping point' and become revolutionary. The wealthy forget that wealth is merely referenced labor and come to believe that it has innate value and as such imparts real value to themselves. As a result they are always taken by surprise when they find that their 'wealth' (the relative poor) is not controlled by them but that they are themselves supported by the poor. When that support is removed they become themselves poor. Note that the wealthy whites do not become black or yellow or red, yet they descend in class nevertheless. Their wealth is removed, their race is not.

The good news (for the poor) is that this cycle has existed since people merged tribes to become societies. The bad news (for the poor) is that this cycle has been around since tribes merged to become societies. Thus, no effort can be made which will change the basic pattern of revolution-reaction-repression-revolution. Sunrise, sunset. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The trick is to be in the ruling class throughout your life and not to be there during the revolutionary part of the cycle. When the peasants revolt it is a good idea to be elsewhere with ones wealth protected by distance and local laws. Thus the smart wealthy invest in real estate in other lands and have a means to travel there which is protected, such as a private jet. Recall the Russian nobility who were in France with luggage filled with jewels while the peasants were ransacking their Russian homes. Revolution is always about wealth and wealth is always about inequality. Thus wealth is always a source of revolution and a means of conducting revolution. Class never changes although the participants always do. Just like the sun shines on us all so does the structure of class, and so does the pattern of class change.

This is why in spite of the purported grand benevolent ideals of the founders of this nation it was always about supporting the members of the wealthy class by engaging the poor in violence. When the dust settles it is always the wealthy who are left, because they are the ones holding the wealth. The poor are left with the dust. This is why the mission of Christ was doomed from the start. As soon as you have a temple you have real estate, you have wealth, and you have left the ideals of the founder of the church. As soon as the founders of America built a bunch of white marble mansions for the new government to operate in they created inequalities and thus new class warfare was made inevitable. They knew this and this is why although they wrote on paper insurance for the poor they continued to own poor people, to create wealth for themselves and to prepare the future generations of wealthy a means to forestall that revolution. They couldn't stop it, but they could delay it by creating the impression on paper that it was possible for the poor to be treated as equals to the rich. This was a grand hypocrisy. Paper is paper and words on paper can be burned along with the paper in the fires of revolution, or in the wastecans of bureaucracy. Our Secretary of War has said much the same thing about international treaties and international and national laws.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I find that I am posting a lot less than I would like to. The problem is primarily one of habit. I have gotten into the habit of doing my email before anything else and by the time I have deleted all the offers to give me a huge cock, or offers to suck same cock I am not in the mode to wax philosophic online. Mostly I want to go wash my hands. So, I want to do more writing.

I recently read that the new federal budget wants to close down a lot of brain injury facilities. I assume we are going to gas and cremate those poor people who have found themselves in such facilities, although they won't admit it. They will be disappeared or maybe shipped off to Dick Cheney's hunting preserve. The ones in wheelchairs will be not much sport but as it seems Dick likes to shoot old men in the face I suppose shooting some kid in a wheelchair will be as much fun. Does anybody else think it odd that the Vice President should take his pacemaker into the killing fields? I mean the guy is a gnat's ass away from being the leader of the free world and his idea of responsible action is to have a few beers and then go shoot one of his friends in the face and THEN try to cover it up. Now I understand the principle of royal privleges but still, come on Dick... taking full responsibility mean jack if you're still drinking beers and then taking up your dinky little shotgun and waving it around. Possible "taking full responsibility" should include not driving while drunk, not drinking when you obviously have a problem holding your drink, and not shooting people in the face. I hate to think of what kinds of things this man has done when we weren't watching.

I also wonder why none of the SS claimed to have fired the shot or at least to have launched themselves into the path of the shot. What ever happened to total loyalty? Heck, Clinton's guards used to supply him with bimbettes to diddle, why doesn't Cheney's men supply him with better targets? Maybe they did. Maybe Whittington was just the one that got away. I can see it now... Dick is standing there, red faced and staggering around, waving the shotgun with SS men trying to talk him into aiming the thing. Bodies are strewn about the desert: babies in nets, women and children sprawled face down near the scrub brush and that old fart running for his life, turning at the last minute to scream "Dick! NO!" and then taking it full in the chest. By this time the SS have gotten the hypo into Dick's sweaty back and the VP is sinking to the ground, gun gripped in his cold hands, mumbling, "Should have used the 10 gauge...."

I think that people who run for the Presidency should be given injections of estrogen while they are in office. This way we wouldn't get old macho jerks stumbling around the desert shooting women and children, even by proxy. Ever notice the twitchy little smirk George gets when he speaks of dead babies? The more carnage he is excusing the more he grins. The thought of those bleeding screaming mothers seems to really crack him up. Dick likes to watch. He flies down to some secret prison and watches the "persons of interest" get the electrodes up the butt. Sipping his brandy, stroking his pussy, the VP whispers to the SS, "He can take more. Jack it up another notch..."
"No, Mr. Cheney, this one is dead." the grey faced man says.
"I don't care if his mother is dead! Jack it UP now!! I want to hear the skin crackle..." He smiles that same crooked smile he had when he pulled the plug on Terri Schaivo. The SS add another car battery to the circuit and the cat's hair stands up on end as the smell of burning flesh fills the room.
"Ah, yes, that's the ticket." the VP mutters. The secret service men look at one another, thinking back if they have another worthy prisoner, remembering not to run out or one of them will go under the probe. On of the SS officers takes out a clean white linen hanky and gently wipes the drool from the corner of Cheney's mouth. A long pink tongue emerges to lick the finger of the man and one of the guards faints. "Well, boys, it seems we have a volunteer..."

I've been thinking thoughts about death lately, watching too many newscasts I guess. But still it occured to me that this breath I take could be my last. This bit of air I take into my body could be carrying that germ, that virus, that takes me out. When I look at my collection of meds and think about the damage they do to my memory I wonder if they are also eating my liver up or something. What if the noon dose of neurontin is the straw that broke the DNA's back? If I could trust the paperwork they hand out with the pills I would not feel so bad, but as it is there is nothing in the paper about memory loss. Doc Izzo says they are getting reports from patients about this nasty side effect. So if an anti-seizure med kills nerve pain but also kills short term memory cells is it possible that some of the meds Jon gets to control his seizures are why he no longer seems to recognize me or even try to move his arms? What if by controlling the seizures he no longer gets they are preventing his recovery? What if the responsible thing we are doing for him is responsible for his inability to come home?

What if the last attack by terrorists was never noticed because they simply slipped chemicals into the water supply so that we think celebrities dancing badly is worthy of the television time it takes up, rather than reports of women and children vanishing near the Vice President's shooting range? Suppose Osama is employed by George and Crew to occasionally send out a video to distract us from the various efforts by the Pres to slice and dice the Constitution? It kinda reminds me of those religious nuts who lock up their children in the closet to protect them from the evils of the world. George and Dick want to lock up our freedoms and civil rights in order to protect them from those evil men out there. Tucked away in amber for none to see are the inspiring words of those great white slave owners who created a republic of, by and for rich white slave owners: "All men are created equal, but some are more equal than others..." I find it reassuring that Presidents seem to like screwing really ugly women. That means my wife is safe. We can meet the Bush without being offered a ride to the Texas ranch for the weekend with fresh quail being offered as the brunch. Dick likes to eat quail eggs, but only if they are fertile and only if the chicks are just starting to move inside. He can dislocate his jaw to take in the big eggs, the ostrich and emu eggs he imports from way down south. Sometimes the SS have to pick out bits of baby skull from the VP's teeth. They draw straws to see who has the task. Sometimes those who go into the cleaning room don't come back and that evening Dick refuses desert, saying "No thanks, I'm stuffed."

My neighbor came over this morning to tell me about a man she met who has a gallery on the west side in the new so-called arts district. She says I should meet him and get some of my work in his gallery. He's sold pieces recently for as much as $900! Wow. I looked at the galleries in the arts district. Bad artists displaying each other's work in tiny, off the beaten track store fronts. If he sold a piece for $900 I have to assume it was a relative who bought it. One of the side effects of living in a capitalistic society is that all art is judged worthy based on it's ability to be sold for huge sums of money. Curiously the fact that Van Gogh sold only one or two pieces for tiny sums of money does not detract from their worthiness in today's market. They sell for millions now. I think I would prefer to sell my stuff for small amounts of moneynow and then have their worth skyrocket when I pass on. That way Jessie is not spoiled by being in a rich family yet still has a shot at paying some bills by selling my favorite works. The sad thing about the west side arts district is that although these people claim to be artists, based primarily on their producing non-functional bits of paint and metal and clay, the stores and galleries they put up resemble a hippy shop from the 60's. Missing only displays of rolling papers and bongs they have poster sized landscapes resembling paint by numbers canvases and sculptures that could have come out of one of my weekend workshops for teens. Yet the price tags reveal that they are, indeed, works of art.

Probably years from now they will be selling my writings for stacks of Euros with a sidenote that "Shirley also was interested in sculpture".