Life, Death and Legacies…

Death, as we all know, is a part of life. Most people probably don’t really grasp what that means until their teenage years because, thankfully, for most people death is not a common occurrence. As we age we understand better that life is special…because life is not infinite; at least not on Earth. Whether one has religious inclinations or not, however, most people cherish life and have a pretty good sense of self-preservation. That being said, we naturally have a deep sense of self-legacy about us as well. We, as emotionally aware beings, are constantly thinking about how we wish to be remembered in the eyes of those we will inevitably leave behind; as most jubilant gift shop plagues will remind us with a fable. But perhaps we should even it out just a bit and make more effort to focus on how we want to remember those who will possibly leave us behind.

Over the course of the last couple of months death has reared its head around some people close to me. In one case death brought itself about slowly and cruelly. In another it was overnight. And in yet another, hope was taunted out of existence quickly as the disease claimed a life not ready to die. Thinking about our own mortality often makes us want to be better people, not just for the legacy of what was our life, but because it forces us to realize that our existence is bound to an Earthly end. Knowing that there is an end makes appreciating the little things that much easier.

After losing a few souls this year, however, I’ve become more introspective as it pertains to my dealings with the people around me. How do I want to remember the people I see daily, weekly, etc.. In many cases our daily or weekly dealings are surface encounters in which we take very little time to focus on the person we’re talking to. And that’s life. But below the surface we can perhaps gain some perspective about people that would surprise us.   As it is, most of my meetings or gatherings or conversations are coupled with tasks that render deep conversing impossible; only allowing for nominal recognition of those I’m talking with. How often anymore is it that I sit down across from a friend with my only task being not to burn my lips on hot coffee? Not enough.

Taking time to envelop ourselves in a person…well, takes time. Too often time is precious so our conversations become twofold; speaking while multi-tasking. Last time I spoke with my neighbor, before he passed away in his sleep, I was no doubt watering the plants or shoveling dirt as he made his way across the street to converse. He was an older man but I always enjoyed his sense of humor. He stood toweringly tall with neatly combed silver hair, but a smirk that made him approachable despite his dominating physical presence. I know that he enjoyed the small talk because he always ended it with a smile or a joke. Things were slowing down for him and he had very few deadlines to adhere to anymore, so small talk must have been nice. He took advantage of seeing me outside his window and he took time to come talk.

As could be expected, my target-oriented and task-filled life didn’t always appreciate the mid-street throngs as I tried to spread the bark-o-mulch before the rains came. All too frequently I responded with “hmm’s” and “uh-huh’s.” I was never crass and always made the effort of small talk, but the work I was doing was never far from my mind. And that’s what I mean by remembering those who will leave us behind; I should have focused more on those conversations. As he walked away for the last time, unbeknownst to either of us, I didn’t take a minute to reflect on Jim and how I’d remember him. It was just another conversation that I’d had a thousand times over the last ten years. I don’t know if Jim was ever thinking about his legacy; if he was perhaps he died peacefully knowing he made his best neighborly effort.

He’s gone now but the memories of him jokingly pointing to his driveway as “next” while I power washed mine will forever be a staple in my mind. He was a funny fellow and it’s now, with his passing, that I realize death is as much about those who live on as it is for those who pass. It’s natural for us to want to leave behind a lasting legacy of kindness and love when we pass but chances are whatever is on the other side will quickly help us cope. For those of us still living, we should be building legacies of the people we encounter most…while they’re still here. There’s no way I could have known that my last conversation with Jim would indeed be the final one, and may that be a lesson.   Maybe it’s more important that I build other’s legacies in my mind; which will surely help to cement mine in the minds of others.

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Global Warming…Yesterday’s Hot Button Issue

                The congressional Democrats held a fun-filled talk-a-thon yesterday on the Senate floor so they could remind themselves that they believe that the globe is warming and that we are all doomed to die like hot dogs.  I think it’s time to put all of the global warming, climate change, and cold really means hot theories to bed.  The problem is when these theories were first introduced, they had legs because we were in a boom time economically; no wars and everyone was eating frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.  It was good times in America.  What we didn’t have, however, was a crisis.  We had no end of times, doom and gloom scenario to remind us that we’re inherently a bad species; which is what the left needs to fill their emotional gap when everything is going great.

                I’m not a scientist, climatologist or astrophysicist and I don’t know any quirky local weather guys on a personal basis.  I’m just someone who has observed the hysteria called Global Warming from an outside, pragmatic position.  It always struck me as odd, even in the early 90’s when my political identity was infinitesimal, that only people on the left side of the political spectrum generally believed this theory to be true.  Even as a Ross Perot voting, long-haired college student, I thought…why only them? 

                As my political knowledge matured, severely outpacing my overall maturity, I came to understand why liberal people generally want to cling to the theory of global warming so fervently.  To be politically liberal generally means one is a more emotional person.  I don’t mean they cry and sulk all the time, but they are more prone to hysteria due to a misguided notion that human nature is, by fault of design, to not always looking out for…human nature.  And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they tend to be less religious too.  In other words, if left unchecked, they believe humans are naturally a greedy bunch capable of destroying themselves.  Thus they have developed a trust in government and such government personnel who will echo those sentiments in an attempt to catch some votes.  Just think about the lefts big issues and how they’re portrayed emotionally and not logically: guns (emotional), immigration (heart strings), abortion (sick juxtaposition actually).

                Like I said, I’m no scientist but I have read extensively about the theories that abound out there regarding global-climate-warming-change.  Right there we should be suspicious.  It was initially a theory that the global temperatures would rise and now it’s shifted (since the temps aren’t dutifully rising) to be called climate change.  So this way any weather event can be attributed to global warming.  Anything.  Last year no hurricanes, the year before many… ‘see we told you so!’ they say.  What?  Both the North Polar ice and the Antarctic ice is expanding… ‘because it’s really melting from below!’ they say.  What? C’mon. 

                Carbon dioxide does, in effect, aid in keeping the sun’s warmth from escaping too rapidly.  Scientists have speculated that temperatures were warmer on Earth millions of years ago and in those times there were higher CO2 levels in the Earths atmosphere.  How did that happen?  Nonetheless they think that our increase in carbon levels (parts per million), which by their measurements are all over the place, means that we will warm.  But what they cannot say is whether those high carbon levels millions of years ago was the result or the cause of temperatures to be warmer.  Who knows, perhaps the Earth was just a little closer in orbit to the sun then?  There is no way of knowing, scientific or not. 

                It makes sense really when you break it down.  Liberals love doomsday scenarios.  Hell, humans as a rule have always thought that whatever generation they were living in was indeed close to the end of times. Throughout history apocalyptic theories have been religiously based and other times its things like massive disease or warfare.  Liberal politicians know this doom and gloom sells and they capitalize on the emotional people so that they can push a bigger government model even more down our throats.  For Democratic politicians it’s about control and regulation; because that gives them purpose.

                Modern scientific theories that predict the worst have become scripture for those on the left.  They need an importance to stigmatize their generation and their time on Earth.  But science is never flawless and is never consensual.  Theories and physical laws can be agreed upon, but knowing the effects and outcomes of interaction, on this grand of a scale, are not scientifically possible.  And it’s especially ironic when prior to this theory the popular science of the 70’s was global freezing.   

                It’s easy to see why conservatives are a little skeptical that we’re destroying the Earth via carbon emissions.  Can we burn cleaner?  Yes and we ought to.  But the globe isn’t warming and carbon levels rising slightly don’t predict that.  We just came off of a very cold and snowy winter, which the left blames on climate change.  Most things in life we can’t have both ways, likes hugs and kisses.  It’s either a hug…or a kiss.  We can’t have climate change both ways either.  The weather events are no more or less severe than they have always been.  Some years are hot, some are cold.  My suggestion is that we quit with the paranoia about imminent global melting…cause it ain’t happening.  Instead we should focus on more imminent threats to America and the world in the form of Miley Cirus and Justin Beiber.  Now there’s a bunch that’s alarmingly hot.  I plan on getting a bumper sticker made: Stop Global Twerking. 

Happiness In A Hangover

Beer, alcohol for that matter, can be a funny thing sometimes.  I mean that in respect to its ability to be both and escape from reality (getting drunk) and a philosophical remedy (the hangover) for eventually appreciating those things in life which make getting drunk so appealing.   Fresh off of a long weekend of drinking far more than the average “night out on the town,” such as I am,  I’m at first a little depressed by the feeling of being physically run down and mentally dumbed down.  In other words, the following Sunday is really not my day.  But come Monday I’m often hit with a renewed sense of worthiness, due mostly to my longing to “bounce back” from what was my “life before debauchery.”   My hangover carries over to Monday usually, though not as strong as it was Sunday.  And it’s the “Monday me” who finds happiness in my hangover.

Let’s start from the beginning…The escape from reality is my justification for drinking beer or alcohol when I do.  A weekend away with friends can be very therapeutic.  I certainly don’t mean to make light of what some people cannot control when it comes to alcohol, but they’re not me and thus I can justify it.  That said, I understand life is not the easiest thing for people to navigate through unscathed; as there are many pitfalls and heartaches to accompany its great moments.  Often it feels like there are weeks or months in which the stress level gets ratcheted up and we just need an escape to a place where everyone can relate.  For some people that escape is church, for some it’s a psychologist and for some it’s adult arcades.  As for me, that place is a place I can be with friends, which serves beer and food; mostly beer.

Prior to a weekend of such magnitude I  usually find myself feeling like there’s not enough time for most things, enough money for some things or enough patience for anything.  Thus, an escape becomes a lifesaver.  It’s the stress of life that leads me to the need to forget life’s worries for a while.  Beer lowers inhibitions for sure but it also injects your jovial you with a heavy dose of…your jovial you; which renders silly inhibitions to the level of useless life traits temporarily.  Amongst drinkers there is camaraderie; rich and poor, intelligent and dumb, tall and short.   For a few hours or days, whichever your stress level requires, we can forget about overdue bills and overtime hours.  We can make good friends with people we may otherwise roll our eyes at, especially if the conversation starts off with “what are you drinking…let me get it.”

Of course there’s an old saying, or at least there ought to be… “let no escape from reality go unpunished.”  Thus we have Sunday morning and the recovery phase.   Headaches, halitosis and heartburn are just the outliers of what the day has in store.  It is the ultimate retribution in which a body that I control can suddenly take the reins and condemn me for hours on end.   But it’s all still part of the escape; as nothing about life’s worries from the prior week am I necessarily dwelling on.  Instead my concern now becomes with recovery.  And as I slowly recover it brings with it a feeling of recovering from what was building up to a crescendo on Friday.   However, therein lays the remedy which makes me long for that Friday crescendo.  At least that “Friday me”, though plagued with self-pity, didn’t feel like he’d somehow flipped his inner organs to the outside of his body.  He was a little stressed, but he generally didn’t feel like throwing up and diarrhea was the norm.   “That guy,” I often say to myself, “needs to learn to appreciate the little things.”

And so starts my happiness.  I may sometimes feel like I don’t have everything I want in life and by Friday…it gets me down. Hell, who among us has 30% of what they want in life?  But often those things I think I want or need, such as more money or a bigger car, are more self-indulgent and not self-preserving.  “I want what’s good for me,” I’ve no doubt been subconsciously muttering .  On Monday I realize that my family just wants me how I am.  I tend to appreciate the little things like smiles and long hugs on Monday.  I have come back from the brink of eternal alcohol damnation and I have my stomach, who fought furiously for my recovery, to thank.   I owe it myself to be happy with what I have.  I owe it to myself to strive, if I must, to achieve that which I often complain about all week.  My hangover brings me happiness through a renewal process that was of massive, ocean swelling proportion.  Friday was no good but Friday night was great.  Saturday starts with a Bloody Mary, so it’s great too.  Then Sunday comes and it’s worse than Friday.  And now it’s Monday and I’m thankful.  Renewal completed.  Oh man…TGIM.

Cakes for a Cause

There’s a media driven issue involving cake making and gay weddings due to a potential law in Arizona.  When it’s all said and done, “baking a cake” may become a euphemism in the homosexual community for wanting to have sex with a heterosexual person.  Nonetheless, the bill in Arizona, now vetoed by the governor, should really be much ado about absolutely nothing.  The left wing is crying discrimination (what’s new) and the right is calling it protection.  In truth, the idea behind the bill should not need to become “law” because the premise is common sense stuff that we ought not let lawmakers intrude on anyway.   Whether or not a business decides to provide a “specific” service is not a matter for government unless there is blatant discrimination against someone for who they are.  And in the scenarios in which this law would possibly be applicable, there would be no discrimination based upon race, gender, gayness or anything else.  If you don’t believe me…keep reading.

For anyone who’s been following along, they would know that Arizona is but one of a handful of states recently to pass a law or attempt to pass a law stating that persons or business owners can reject providing some services based upon religious beliefs.  It basically says they can’t be sued for not providing a service that they feel violates their religion. It’s a protection, of sorts, for religious business owners in response to the numerous “cake making” cases to pop up around the country.  I’ll stick to the cake anecdotes for now, though there other scenarios in which this could come up.  And no, “come up” is not a euphemism for anything I’m trying to say.

In short, the scenarios which have driven these laws to come about are related to cake making and specifically cake making for a gay wedding.  A few gay couples have been met with ownership at various bakeries refusing to make a cake for their wedding when solicited.  The reasons, in all of the cases I’ve heard of, are due to the owner’s religious beliefs as it pertains to marriage.  Marriage, as we know, is a religious institution that is recognized by the government of the state.  That by no means requires anyone else to acknowledge a marriage; it simply means that according to the state, the two people are married.  But instead of moving along to the next one of a million other bakeries, the gay couples have decided to sue and thus we have the protection laws.

In a common sense world, if a business doesn’t want to provide you a service…you move on.  And in the cake scenarios, it’s not that the ownership is refusing to serve the gay people, it’s that they are refusing to make a product that is not in their list of “available” products.  In other words, they could make one, but, as a business matter, they don’t offer that product.  If a gay person were to walk into the same bakery and want to buy a cake for a birthday, he or she would be served.   Being gay is not the issue; it’s the event in which they’re making the cake for that becomes problematic.  Christians simply believe that the sanctity of marriage is not open for interpretation, by government or any other worldly creature.   My guess is these same shop owners would refuse to make a birthday cake for a Skinhead customer which read something like “Happy Birthday Adolf, now let’s go kill us some blacks.”  That is probably not a product that they offer: birthday cakes advocating violence against another person or persons.  That too would be against their religious beliefs.

In our gay cake scenario, however, the left is trying to paint it as “discrimination” because they can’t wrap their head around religious reasons for believing in traditional marriage.  (Wrap head around also not a euphemism).   They want to force their primary adversary, Christians, to accept behavior that they, in their secular world, see nothing wrong with.   I would assume, however, if the Skinhead were suing the cake makers, the left would be on the Christian’s side.

A business owner who doesn’t feel comfortable making a cake for a gay wedding should really not be cause for media concern or legislation.  The gay couple says, ‘thank you very much,’ and moves on.  Then they post it on Facebook and no gay person or friend of the gay person will go there.  And in the end the business owner will have to weigh his costs against his convictions.  But he shouldn’t be forced to weigh his convictions against the law.  Do we really need the law?  No.  In a common sense world these two groups of people can respectfully disagree and neither party would have their cake and eat it too.  Then, everyone would be happy licking whatever kind of frosting they prefer.  (ok, that last sentence was a euphemism).

Somebody has to say it…..

       Life is full of social norms, faux pas’, weird people and dumb shits.  I’m certain I’m not alone when I say that there are times when I wonder if I got dropped off on the wrong planet by mistake, or did all of these other people get sent to the wrong place?  Am I supposed to share my space with people who make me question my own humanity, sanity, and vanity?  Geez…if so, I often think, what a calamity!  Nonetheless, we can’t be nice 100% of the time, can we?  I mean some people just need to be…sent back to the manufacturer.  Here are but a few examples of the kinds of people that we need a warranty rebate for.  Somebody has to say it…

     My first beef is with people who have this notion that the roadways belong to them.  You know who they are…the ones with “road rage.”  There’s Road Rage Guy and Road Rage Girl.  They differ in outlook but they transcend dorkiness throughout their respective genders.  Road Rage Guy is pretty typical in that he thinks he’s an Alpha but he’s really a pussy.  He never gets laid but thinks he does quite a bit.  He wears his baseball cap backwards, his sunglasses with mega-tint and his goatee very manicured.  You will usually see him in a pick-up truck, maybe a little lifted, with some kind of sexual bumper sticker like the hand doing the “shocker;” as though he’s done that countless times.  He’s an idiot and he honks and flips people off if they don’t drive equally as maniacally as he does. 

       Road Rage Girl…she gets laid too much but doesn’t think she’s a slut.  She has friends of the month, she’s loud and you’ll usually spot her in a small, inexpensive coupe made to look like a sports car. (i.e. the Honda Civic with the spoiler)  She will usually have bumper stickers that say something like, “Yeah I’m a Bitch, so what?”  She’s classy.  She’s got a lead foot and just as upright a middle finger as Road Rage Guy.  These two “Road Ragers” were surely meant to be dropped off on Planet Motherfucker.  Cause this one ain’t “bad ass” enough for them!

            When it comes to planet assignments, the heavy girls in the tight pants were obviously sent with the wrong amount of postage to get them to where they belong.  I’m sorry if that sounds mean, but the ladies who crush 200 lbs. then crush their asses into really tight pants are not fooling themselves, us or even the fat guys who will eventually court them.  I understand that in a free land my eyeballs are free to look elsewhere, but when I’m at planet Walmart and big, cheesy thighs are being suffocated by pants six sizes too small, I’m weirded out.  Why I ask?  Please darling, don’t kid yourself…it hurts me to think you can be so misguided.  Wear sweats, be comfortable and don’t show me your chubby butt crack when you drop ten cents.  Now, get back on the rocket ship and head home…to Planet Kardashian. 

            There are many more examples of planetary miscues that make me wonder if I’ll ever get to see a day when only my ilk are left.  There’s welfare check person buying cable t.v. and new cell phones who belongs on Planet Up Yours.  Constant customer person always holds up check-out lines in an effort to prove the “customer is always right, and these people are my slaves.” He/she belongs on Planet Yes, You’re An Asshole.  Of course I’d be remiss not to mention the ‘no respect for kids’ guy.  We usually find him at sporting events, carnivals, public gatherings with beer tents and sometimes he’s radio deejay guy.  This dude could care less that your kid is in earshot; he’ll curse like a sailor and blame you for having your child with you at a family event.  He was sent here by mistake.  He was meant to go to Planet Kool (with a K because he can’t spell Cool).   And don’t forget tattoo person.  Lots of tattoo’s is o.k. on a tattoo artist.  That’s like the whole skinny chef thing.  But if one has sleeves, chest, neck back and leg tattoos because someone told them that’s cool…their supposed to be on Planet You’ll Regret That Someday.

            As for me…well, I’ll make do.  You should too.  Just because we were put here with assholes, morons, Kool guys and fat chicks in skinny pants doesn’t mean we can’t police it a little.  I mean we can flip the Road Rage Guy off in return, we can take pictures of fat girl and post them on Facebook, we can vote Republican and get some butts off welfare, or tell Constant Customer to “hurry it up,” We can shake our head at the rest.  Because we shouldn’t let aliens invade our planet without justification.  Then again…maybe they help us normal people understand what not to do.  Hmm…justification? 

    

Democrat’s blockbuster: The Hobbiest

         All play and no work, or at least mostly play and little work; that’s what the new talking point is when it comes to the defense of Obamacare.  The CBO report that declares that the new health care law will eventually eliminate a percentage of the American workforce is being spun to be a good thing by people (politicians) who have made a career out of being elected by those who want to do as little as possible.  This latest round of defense is probably the most ridiculous sounding to date to most logical thinking Americans but it may be the most appealing to the very people the Democrats have been catering to for some time now.  Free ridership is being touted as a “progressive” way of life in modern day America but it’s going to fall flat and face down in the utter horseshit it’s being derived from. 

                The argument goes that the new health law frees people from the “constrains” of their jobs due to healthcare concerns because they can now get “good” insurance without a job.  This, they say, lifts the chains of misery to allow people to pursue their passions (hobbies) in life instead of being “owned” by their bosses.  Or perhaps they can now spend more time with their families or work part time with more time for leisure, since they won’t need to work and can qualify to be subsidized by the government for their health care. The fact that people stay in jobs because of the benefits offered via health insurance is, in the eyes of these Democrats, akin to bribery and imprisonment.   All people must love their work, they say, or they’re not living a full life.  But as usual, amidst talking points and buttered muffins, the left is willfully missing the point about careers, benefits and the greatness that has spawned this country from many Americans excelling at jobs they may not totally love. 

                The sad irony is that the Democrat politicians are trying to convince people that somehow this country, the luxuries of it and the lifestyles therein, are to now be strictly enjoyed and not worked to be preserved.  They are trying to convince a large number of people that corporate America will no longer stand in our way or hinder our enjoyment of that which corporate America has created.  But let’s look anecdotally at what could become of our conditions if, for instance, most workers left what we may consider one of the more “less than desirable” jobs. 

                Imagine what your neighborhood would look like if the hardworking trash men decided en mass to leave their profession to pursue their passions or hobbies.  How many trips to the local trash dump would you be taking and how much of your free (hobby) time would that eat up?  Wait…nobody would be working at the trash dump so maybe you’d have to burn some that garbage or bury it in your yard.  Of course the individual who took the opportunity to start a small business selling incense would greatly benefit from the smell of garbage permeating from your backyard.  

                You can start with the garbage pickup and multiply it from there.  Think of how many people work jobs under strenuous physical or mental conditions who may, if asked, admit that it is not necessarily their dream job but stay for the “benefits” having a job offers them.  Construction workers in the dead of winter, soaking wet for 10 hours a day may be next in line to start work on their hobbies.  Farmers may choose to quilt now instead of getting up at dawn every morning to milk those muddy cows.  And grape pickers, picking thousands of grapes a day in the hot sun may like to try their hand at being an artist of landscapes.  The socialite left should think about what may become of their posh, modern constructed wine and cheese bars they may patronize for “lunch breaks” from their hobbies if everyone thought this way. 

                The underlying message to this Democratic spin is that somehow all of the little things that go into making American life what it is doesn’t really exist, it just magically happens.  You, they say, need to enjoy all of these luxuries and don’t concern yourself with how your cheese is going to make it to the plate.  But that message, aside from being ridiculous sounding, misses its mark.  People aren’t “slaves” to their jobs if they are offered great benefits.  Corporations offer benefits as goodwill to good people that they want working for them.  It’s no more bribery than the paycheck is. 

                The left tends not to celebrate hard work and dedication to things that don’t directly impact them.  Sacrifice is kind of a naughty word in their circles.  People work their jobs in order to enjoy life; and health benefits helps them enjoy with piece of mind.  Work is success for most people and too much leisure evaporates what greatness that success brings.  We balance our lives according to what we can withstand and we cherish what time we can muster to be free of our duties.  The government should not be in the business of creating “free time” with legislation, however.  Frankly, I think politicians need more to do because they seem to constantly be telling us how miserable our lives are.  Working jobs we may not consider to be our “dream” jobs actually builds a lasting sense of sacrifice, and that has built the foundation for a country which succeeds in enjoying each other’s sacrifices. 

The Case for Complexity?

Complexity.  When most of us think about that word we probably associate it with things like: long trigonometry equations, rocket science, the internal combustion engine or all those little weird silver cylinders that make up most of our everyday electronics.   Those are things that seem to fit the very definition of complexity, which is this:  the condition of being difficult to analyze, understand, or solve.  Sounds about right, yeah?  I had a recent thought process that kicked up the dust in my head as it pertains to complexity and how I think it should resolve for humanity the question of ‘who we are.’  But it doesn’t.  Rather, the complex nature of mankind makes our existence seem more…complex.

Before your head spins, let me explain.   I think it’s safe to say that the human species is a very complex one.  Never mind the complexity that is the physical world around us:  the human body, the changes of season, the rotation of the Earth.  The complexity that should answer for us that question of our existence is the something that resides in a place that science can’t quite fit under a microscope.

When you take the argument of nature vs. creationism we often think of evolution vs. God, right?  Science seems to offer us a very simple explanation to a very complex existence.  Bang!  Some shit exploded and a few billion years later…here you are.  Yeah, I know, the science of microorganisms turning into people is sort of complex but nonetheless what the nature argument is saying is that human beings arose from the ashes of space to become a thinking, logical, loving, emotional, and complex species.  Really?  Perhaps.

Digress with me now for a moment and think of your life.  What makes your life complex?  I would argue that despite the hectic nature of our daily lives, i.e. kids to school, stresses of the job, home improvement, not enough time in the day…that’s not what our true complexity is.  Our complexity is laughter.  Our complexity is tears.  Our complexity is joy.  Our complexity is pride.  Our complexity is that sudden reminder that makes you laugh when you remember an event 10 years prior.  It’s the lingering emotion that saddens you when you hear a particular song.  Unfortunately, our complexity is also anger, depression and jealousy as well.  And those are probably the most difficult to analyze, understand or solve.  Ask yourself a serious question however: what role does that kind of complexity play in the natural, scientific world?  We can equate things like self preservation, hunger, and even joy to some degree with the natural inclination to live.  But can we really conclude that the complexity of the human emotional mind is requisite to a natural existence?

For those uncertain, “does God exist?” is not necessarily the question you should ask yourself.   Think of it like Bigfoot.  I heard this once and it stuck.  You may get two different responses to the same question: “does Bigfoot exist?”   Most would probably say no to that question.  But when asked a different way: “do you think that a large, intelligent, and cunning bipedal animal could exist in relative obscurity due to a small population, thick forested habitats and nocturnal lifestyle?” they may think twice.   Ask the God question differently and even evolutionists may think twice.  What about dinosaurs?  Let’s just say that if we are the product of Creation, then think of dinosaurs like Santa Claus.  I’m sure my three year old son would never suspect I’d go to the measures I do to ensure his belief in something that brings amazement to his young complexity.

I certainly don’t have the answer to the ultimate question and nobody does.  And that’s what frustrates some of our complex minds.  Does complexity equal God?  Maybe it is that simple, maybe not.  Our complexity often requires answers that we may or may not ever get.  I’m not making the contention that science is the simpleton’s way of explaining our existence; it’s just that it tends to minimize our complexity when you use it.   What I mean by that is if you feel special, science says you’re not.  Not everyone cares about the answer to the question of our existence and perhaps relatively few people dwell on it.  But in those instances when you reach the pinnacle of complexity, you should dwell.   When that song comes on, you should dwell.  When someone you love makes you proud, you should dwell.  When you laugh out loud so hard it makes you pee, you should change your pants, then dwell.  When you get angry to the point of depression, you should definitely dwell.  To dwell is, well…only natural!

My Tangential Life

I’ve always loved the idea of time travel.  Though I’m kind of a history buff, the concept of time travel fascinates me not from the perspective of witnessing major events in history; rather the possibility of immersion into a society that doesn’t know what I know is pure fictional bliss.  Time travel for the individual offers an alternate reality, which got me thinking about how many alternate realities could exist of my own doing.  Just how many, if any, of my aspirations have a tangent of time all their own in which I followed a dream or was driven by the desire to succeed at something else?

If I could go back in time 20 years, as an observer, what would I notice about the 20 year old me that the 40 year old me would have a chuckle about?  What actions would warm my heart and which ones would have me shake my head with a subtle cynicism?  It’s fun to wonder if one of those heart warmers or cynicism’s had actually created a life different from the one I know now.

Yes, this is pretend.  But what happened to that 20 year old, college-floundering youth who thought at one point he could be a great actor?  So much so that he took classes about script writing and considered trying his hand at acting.  Did he pursue that dream while the one typing this monologue decided it seemed like a waste of time?  I wonder what his tangent looks like now.  Perhaps he made a name for himself in acting.  Maybe not.

There may be a tangent out there in which I became a teacher too.  That other guy may have stuck with it and really have come to enjoy it.  There could be a tangent that see’s me as a professional athlete.  Hey, take ability out as a major variable and I could be a PGA golfer or outfielder for the Yankees.  I mean, how far would that tangent have stretched on sheer desire?  It kind of makes me wonder.

As a digression, I must mention that nothing about this tangent that finds me writing about alternate endings would I now change.  I have a great family and only a few minor complaints in life.  It’s an exercise in both humility and motivation however to contemplate our life’s “forks-in-the-road.”  Speaking of forks, I once thought about culinary school.  There may be a tangent out there that has me hosting a cooking show with Giada De Laurentiis!!  I bet that guy likes going to work.

My kids are young now but there may come a day when my son tells me he wants to be a professional skateboarder.  I remember countless evenings and weekends I spent skateboarding as a kid that harbor some of my first senses of accomplishment.  Learning how to “ollie” the curb made me feel like someday I too may become like the guys whose names donned the bottom of my skateboard.  I’ll bet there’s a tangent where Tony Hawk and I are good buddies.

If that day should come, the one when my son tells me he’s going to be a professional skateboarder, I may find my heart warmed and my head shaking with subtle cynicism.  I’m sure I’ll smile at him and say something to the effect of “maybe son, you know you can do anything if you work hard at it and have a real desire to succeed.”  Great advice huh?  The reality is that may kick off another tangent.  Not for him; but one that finds me sitting in bleacher seating, absorbing a warm California sun with a thousand Generation XYZZZer’s.  We’d all be cheering my son on as he competes in the X games half-pipe competition.  Of course, this tangent that finds me writing about tangents will hopefully see the 60 year old me shaking my son’s hand saying “congratulations…doctor.”

Unemployment Benefits Extension?..Umm, no!

Ugh….The debate in Washington D.C. and around the network circuits about the extension of unemployment benefits is simultaneously a telling commentary on our society’s disillusionment about “benefits” and a terrific irony about what does and does not work to stimulate a market economy.  One would suppose that the Democratic Party would align with the disillusioned in wanting to extend unemployment benefits; they get votes by sounding the “unfairness” alarm.  But Republicans need to stand strong on this one and develop a narrative that shows Americans why an extension of benefits is really not compassionate.

They can start crafting the narrative by simply refuting what most Dems are saying right now, “unemployment benefits stimulate the economy.”   Start there and expose that lie.  They don’t stimulate anything and they’re not meant to.   If hundreds or thousands lose their job, giving them a safety net should never be about stimulating the economy anyway.  It means society, a.k.a. other taxpayers, is coming to the rescue for a finite amount of time so people don’t starve or lose their house.  The deal is though, that those receiving benefits must look for alternative ways to earn money…soon.  If politicians begin equating the purchase of groceries and, God knows, non-essential survival goodies via unemployment with real stimulus, then they are intentionally tweaking the program’s purpose for the gain of their political career.

Next, conservatives can make the argument that this style of governing doesn’t help economies.  Wasting billions of hard earned tax dollars on false stimulus packages, quantitative easing  and ridiculous health care reform tactics is in fact exactly what has brought us to a point where fewer and fewer jobs are being created.  And therein lays the irony.  Democrats want to give 10 more months of benefits to persons who have already exhausted 73 months worth of benefits in an economy they have spearheaded.  Uh, yeah…that’s like a year and a half of benefits.

Republicans in Washington need to be clear that giving people assistance for that long is not compassionate.  It sucks from them their inherent need to provide for themselves.  And further, it extends feelings of economic victimization that should not exist simply because one lost a job.  It does, however, create camaraderie between the transparent do-gooders and those perceived to be down on their luck.  One simply cannot, as a governing person or otherwise logical onlooker, find it in anyone’s best interest to allow for prolonged collection of unemployment benefits.   Nobody pays that much into “the system.”  And nobody benefits from Democrats creating the illusion that able bodied people are due, owed and deserve this extension.  When faced with the alternative to survival, most people will find a way.

I understand that elected Republicans fear the left leaning media and their willingness to perpetrate Democratic feel good.  It really works because there are more of them than there are media types willing to be objective.  But if they are ever going to break out of this shell of fear they need to fight back with logic, humor and pragmatism.  And they should do it on radio, late night television shows and in Hollywood.  Find those out there in who agree and get them talking.

Unemployment benefits and other programs similar to it are meant to be a safety net for responsible people when something unexpected happens in their life.  It’s not meant to be a way of life.  Getting benefits for a year and a half means the receiving party is not holding up their end of the bargain and neither is the giving party.  The Republicans have a golden opportunity to expose an enormous lie and lead the country into a real change in the way it perceives “benefits.”  There are too many people working long hours in a shitty economy just to make ends meet, while many other people are paying their cable bills with those hard workers tax dollars.  I say just tell it like it is.  In this day I think a heavy hand and a firm attitude would be refreshing.  Much better than the way this administration administers its foolish notion of “change.”

Ted Cruz: Prophet?

       Boy, doesn’t Senator Ted Cruz looks better every day?  The media, the Democrats and even some RINO (Republican In Name Only) Republicans all took turns last month lambasting Senator Cruz for his persistence when it came to exposing the Affordable Care Act for what it is: a joke.  The media declared him crazy because he stood up to the power hungry politicians who conspired to pass this legislative garbage.  The Democrats called him dangerous because he dared challenge a bad law using appropriate, legal and intentionally placed parliamentary proceedings to try to stop it.  As for the RINO’s…well, they’re just jealous the spotlight was shining so bright on him and not on their establishment rear-ends. 

                The real strategy, if you will, to Cruz’s and others tactics was not to simply shut down the government for the sake of giving Obama the finger.  Instead one might say that they weren’t being blinded by rhetoric so much that they couldn’t see the shit-storm that was winding up, waiting to blow the American medical community to shreds.   And the most mighty winds are yet to strike. 

                When Ted Cruz stood before his colleagues, and Americans, on the floor of the house to oppose the implementation of ObamaCare, he wasn’t just doing it for showmanship or to cast a light on himself; he’s not that kind of guy.  He was, however, trying desperately to get a last minute message across to the nation that this law will be detrimental to a majority of Americans and will wreak havoc on what is the best medical community in the world. 

                The talking points that are coming out from the left now, as we see the roll out of ObamaCare doing just what Cruz warned about, are predictable if not scary.  The Sunday shows were full of the left’s mouthpieces waxing poetic about the potential of ObamaCare while noting that the “glitches” were only temporary and we should be patient and everything will work out.  Funny thing is they keep likening the rollout debacle to minor snafu’s the corporate world might endure when introducing a new product to the private sector.  Unfortunately they’re using the wrong analogies when they talk about the iPhone or other Apple products.  This is more akin to New Coke or Ben-Gay aspirin; a bad idea that somehow made it out of the production meetings.

                The problem with ObamaCare is that it is major legislation based upon presumptions of those who championed it.  They assumed that young, healthy people would jump at the chance to add a couple of hundred dollars a month expense to their part-time work salary.  Not to mention they would have no problem with a massive deductible so as to render the policy virtually useless.

        They assumed that everyone would love the fact that all policies had to have certain attributes to them now.  So single men, menopausal women and infants will all have affordable access to birth control, if they need it.  (That doesn’t include condoms)  In other words, they assumed people would happily pay a higher monthly premium for services they don’t need.  The Democrats also assumed that adding 30 million new patients to the provider’s lists would have little effect on the way they do business.  “What’s a few dozen more patients per day per doctor,” they must have been saying. 

          Now that the dust has been kicked up and the storm is beginning to rip the roofing off of individual health plans and doctor’s offices, Ted Cruz and his Tea Party colleagues are not looking so stupid after all.  The strategy wasn’t really a strategy but a warning; a last minute cry to those who are supposed to be the logical among us.  The media, the Democrats and the RINO’s all called Ted Cruz pathetic for standing up and opposing the devastation that is on its way.  Truth is he looks more prophetic than pathetic.