Monday, January 31, 2011

Keep Calm

I’m not sure if whether the weather will wither our human souls or not, but it seems to have everyone a little nervous. The mid-west and east are expected to get punched in the face soon with some explicit blizzard conditions. I just want to take a moment to remind everyone to stay calm.

Winter is not something new, unless you’re less than twelve months old or just moved here from a place where snow doesn’t exist, then the frozen water crystals piling up outside won’t be some sort of plague sent by God to punish the wicked. So I will need everyone to remain calm and cool. It’s not the end of the world or a new Ice Age bearing down on us. As human beings we’ve managed to survive quite worse with much less.

I know there will be moments when all will seem lost but I hope we all can remember that Spring is nearly around the corner and we won’t have to end up eating each other like the Donner party.  Just be prepared and all will be right. I don’t want this whole weather phenomenon to be a surprise to anyone. Like, “Oh man it totally snowed a ton last night, crap. I should have closed my car windows”.

By July we’ll all have forgotten about the, “Blizzard of 2011”, and we’ll be too mad that the Cubs suck so badly to care.  

Speaking of other things to keep calm about, take it easy Egypt. I saw a scroll along the bottom of CNN yesterday where vandals in the Egyptian National Museum tore the heads off two ancient mummies. All I could think of was, “Jackasses”. Talk about misunderstanding a cause. Also the Egyptian military took a few pot shots at around 2,000 to 3,000 people gathered in Alexandria (named by Alexander the Great of course). This is just intimidation apparently. I worry about the logic of that. “Hey, calm these protesters down. Let’s take a couple of shots at them”. Brilliant.

I really applaud the people's attempts to restructure their government and that for the most part it is has been a peaceful demonstration. I’ve always said that real regime change must come from within the populace and no forces can create it externally.   I just hope everybody remains calm, or at least, as calm as possible. I’d hate for a panic to break out and a bloody coup spill into the surrounding Middle East. Or to relate it to this piece, that there isn’t a blizzard of violence that sweeps across the area and brings about the prophesized Apocalypse as predicted by Nostradamus. But if it does, please let me be the first to say, “I called it”.   

You know, perhaps I should be happy about the Snowmageddon approaching.  Doesn’t seem that bad after all; perhaps I’ll build some snowtesters (Protesters made from snow) and crowd them up in front of my building. Maybe I’ll make little signs for them that say things like, “Sun unfair to Snow people”, or, “Equal rights for refrigeration”. Yeah, that’d be pretty hilarious I think.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A short Friday Story

Friday chewed the jelly doughnut and mulled over the paperwork in front of him. The only thing that could possibly make this morning better would be a working coffee maker. Friday’s coffee maker decided to malfunction and start squirting out a black, mud-like substance. Being bold, of course, he did try to drink some of it but after a few wretched sips thought it would probably give him cancer if he continued. So Friday moved the sticky jelly doughnut around his mouth and washed it down with a glass of tap water.  Friday thought he should probably start drinking more water as it was.

He looked over the most recent missing persons report on his desk and swallowed. It’d been three weeks since anyone had seen her and all the leads had gone cold. He couldn’t understand how a young woman like Saturday could just vanish from a crowded dance club. She was surrounded by all her friends as she danced and then just vanished.  

Friday looked at her picture. She was beautiful. In fact, Friday wasn’t sure he’d ever seen a woman so lovely. There was something about her light blue eyes that made you fall madly in love with her. Her photo showed a woman simply possessed by youth. She wasn’t just young, but was youth itself. Friday felt himself wanting to know her, intimately.

He put the photo back in the manila folder and cleared his throat. He had to get down to business and not drift off in flights of fancy, but it was hard to resist thinking about Saturday’s arms hung over his shoulder and neck, her lips gently pressed up against his, the heat from her body…. Friday shook his head again. He chuckled to himself at how really easy it was to really lose yourself in Saturday.

Friday’s phone rang and he answered on the third ring. Another wrong number; there’s too many wrong numbers is this dirty city. Friday leaned back in his squeaky chair and looked out the window. It was deceiving outside. The sun was shining bright but there was a thick snow on the ground. The snow wasn’t that luxurious white any more. The dirt from the cars and street had given the snow a dingy gray color and it made Friday really miss summer.

He leaned back over his desk and looked at Saturday’s picture again. Where was she? Where is she?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Passions or something like it

I’ve heard a lot of talk about it lately, be it in business or in one’s personal life. Passion is the thing that drives us to try to be better than the sum of our parts.  I’ve been on a long quest to figure out my passions and I’ve yet to clearly determine what really moves me to excel. I know there are a lot of other folks out there that have the same trouble.  I sometimes wonder if we’re more passionate about the search than its actual discovery.

I wonder if we actually found our passion we’d know what to do with it, or would we squander it at the craps table like so many before us. I know what I like to do but I don’t know if that’s what they call “passion”. Is that all it is? I always thought of it as something far more grandiose than just liking something enough to do it over and over and over without going insane.

I know there are areas in my life where passion is certainly lacking. I miss feeling passionate about someone too. I mean, I feel a lot of things for my friends and such, but I don’t remember the last time I was really passionate about someone and filled with a willingness to swim the deepest ocean or climb the highest mountain. (Both of which would result in my death for sure)

There are degrees of passion for all of us for certain and it’s quite a journey to discover what those passions are. I know I enjoy writing these blogs but I’m more passionate about people reading them. I’m imbued with a desire to entertain and I only hope that the readers of this daily (usually daily) blog are pleased. If not, then I’m a failure and ripe for scorn and mistrust, maybe public beatings wouldn’t be out of line.

“Write better, jerk”, slap, slap, punch.

But for the most part I think my writing has sustained all of us somewhat and has kept me relatively injury free.  Thank you kind readers.

I digress; I think I know only two or three people that followed their passions to some amount of fulfillment. I'm quite proud of them and their goal acheiving ways but most are still on the quest to find our passions. I know I am. I hope to find it soon. Although most of the time I think I’m very passionate about retirement, but that seems quite a long ways off sadly. I'm not even sure I'll be able to retire quite frankly.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I had just arrived home from the bar, thinking of one of my very good friends and I thought, "I can't imagine her old". Old in the sense of a withered crone, sitting in a chair, looking for her grandchildren to fetch her another highball. I just didn't see it across her face. As if, she'd never make it to old age; and that had me worried.

My poor friend. My beautiful friend, so battered by the life she's led. If only she knew how much we cared and how much we want her life to be better than it is.

I see the resilience in her, the desire to stay young; but I just didn't see her rocking in a rocking chair. That made me sad. Angry too, at life's little and constant injustices. No matter how you play your cards, sometimes the dealer always takes your money.

I see a lot of my friends as old. I imagine us together, thinking about the old days, sharing a pint of nostalgia. I see us trying to put together our past, our collective past, into a neat package to hand down to those less experienced. But some friends, I see no old age at all.

I worry that they won't make it and miss out on the blessings of hindsight. I fear for them and the lives they lead and wish for them a better chance. That the dealer will finally give them a winning hand and they can leave life's casino better than they entered.

I know too many people that love too much and get so little in return. It's hard to watch their unrequited love and pretend it isn't happening. I'm ashamed I let myself do that. But I have no control over the whims of their hearts and can only comment briefly on the sidelines.

I only hope their hearts lead them to better pastures and easier times. I only hope, ultimately, that they have the opportunity to get old and we dodder and wither together.

Friday, January 21, 2011

No Friday Blog?

No Friday Blog. Unfortunately it's just too busy of a day and I haven't had time to finely craft the words you're looking for. I'll get back to it as time allows, but for today, there's nothing. Have a good Friday everybody!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Justice? Just us.

I’m not quite sure I know what it is anymore. It certainly isn’t tit for tat or eye for an eye, however logical that may seem. The culture of greed in this country has distorted what justice really means it would seem.

Recently a personal injury case I investigated go in front of jury, a case where common sense would dictate that an individual that caused their own accident and injuries, a person that did something wrong and ended up hurting themselves, would then be held responsible for their own actions. Apparently common sense is completely dead as a 12 person jury decided that even though this person caused their own accident they aren’t “really” responsible for their own actions and therefore are entitled to vast sums of money; oh and her husband gets money too because he alleged that because of the accident they weren’t able to act as husband and wife.

This verdict is shocking and shows the ineptitude of Americans and I am disgusted with them for it. They are probably all the same people that cry “socialism” and “Communism”, at President Obama but also feel large corporations should take care of the people, even when they are not at fault. So who’s creating the socialism now jerks?

I’ll admit that if an individual suffers a legitimate accident and there is an at fault party then they should offer some compensation to the injured party. It’s the decent thing to do. But it should be tempered with reason and accountability, not wild guesses about the moral duty of corporations to take care of the little guy who cut their finger while looking at a box of cookies. (Oh the humanity! How ever will that poor man survive this horrific ordeal....whimper, whimper)

Where’s the justice in that? When a jury awards a monster verdict to a person it affects us all. Stores or businesses have to raise prices to cover their bottom line, in some cases businesses have been forced to shut their doors. Who is that helping? It only helps the greedy person that could have had a few thousand dollars to take care of their hospital bills and put back at 100% pre-injury status but wants, nay, demands hundreds of thousands of dollars for their alleged, “peace of mind”.  Is that justice?

And why does this happen, because no one feels they have to take responsibility for their own actions. If I knock a box off a shelf and it hits me in the face, it’s my fault. Not anyone else's, I should have been more careful. But No, that’s just not the case anymore, no one is responsible for themselves, no personal accountability. It’s always someone else’s fault and that’s why America is so weak in the eyes of the world. We are complainers and soft bellied whiners who want everything without doing anything to earn it.  

I hope and pray that someday, common sense returns to the American Psyche and we start taking care of ourselves and responsibility for our own actions.  That would be amazing, then the world would really have to marvel at the Americans again, our roll up our sleeves and get the job done ethic would return and I bet the economy would stabilize and poverty would vanish. And maybe, just maybe a real sense of what justice is would return. Perhaps it’s a pipe dream, but it’s nice to dream.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A couple of items for Wednesday

I was very sad to hear the report that North America’s oldest elephant died recently. The elephant, named Taj, was an old circus elephant before spending the last 33 years at the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California. This is that elephant that learned how to paint and the paintings had been auctioned off for charity. I’m sure you’ve heard of that at least.  The elephant was 71 years old. So this elephant was older than America’s entry into WWII. I think that is just amazing.

I just think elephants are cool. They have wonderful attitudes and seem genuinely compassionate with others in their herd. Wild elephants are nothing to toy with for sure, they’ll trample you for snoring too loud, but in their own environment they have a seemingly ethereal quality. They appear to mourn their dead too, which is more than I can say for some humans.  And that brings me to my next item.

A 14 year old boy in South Carolina used a rifle given to him as a birthday present to shoot and kill his father and great-aunt and critically injury his grandmother. He calmly called police afterwards and gave himself up but has yet to offer any explanation to the murders.  I’m more than willing to bet there might be some severe psychological issues at play here, perhaps the family had been tormenting him for quite a while about his poor aim with a rifle and he finally just couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve seen Lifetime movies with worse plotlines. But the chilling thing is that the child has not had any explanation at all for his actions and his calm and concise manner of surrender to authorities just makes my skin crawl. I also would have thought arming your children was a bad thing, and I guess in this case it was.

Speaking of children, a 10 year old Romanian Gypsy girl has given birth in Spain. The father is a 13 year old Romanian boy. Now this kind of headline often spurs all kinds of horrified reactions, but let’s try to put it in perspective, how hot was this 10 year old? I’m kidding of course, but these Romanian Gypsies see nothing wrong with this as it is part of their culture for arranged marriages to start very young. I mean, that’s pretty young. When to girls start puberty these days anyway? The Spanish government is also in a difficult spot as their laws do ban such a union of minors, but the 13 year old boy is in Romania and there’s no way to prosecute him and according to the article I read, the 10 year old and 13 year old have broken up. There’s a joke here I know it but I just won’t steep to that level.

And finally, as follow up to a previous blog item, Mount Etna did erupt on Wednesday and lava did flow down the eastern rim. I know how worried all of you were and couldn’t wait to find out more. It is good to note that the volcano is still not threatening people or attempting to swindle billionaires out of their fortunes with complicated Ponzi Schemes.

All in all, the world keeps spinning and stuff keeps happening on this the third Wednesday of 2011.  So stay calm and don’t panic, we’ve yet to see what Thursday will bring.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We have the technology

At the company I work there has been a resistance to embrace new technologies that will make our jobs easier. Sadly I can understand why this is since most the alleged technological advancements we’ve received over the years have actually made more work. So I can understand some suspicion about anything new. However, a technology that is available to us is just not being utilized and it’s a shame because it’ll actually make the job so much simpler.

I’ve thrown my hat into the ring to try and coordinate the transition to this new technology. I don’t know if they’ll let me help since I’ve been labeled a malcontent.  I’ve only been labeled such since I’m the guy that always asks, “Why?”
If you just give me a valid reason for doing something I will do it.  If you just tell me to do something because that’s just how it is, I have a very hard time accepting it and will often resist. (I think I do that in my personal life to some degree as well, but that’s another article)

I hope the powers that be will give me the chance to make the job I do and that my colleagues do easier. I’d like the personal respect and pride that goes with making something like that happen. It’s not often in the business I’m in where you can shine independently.  And I like shining.

I think as technology improves most of the jobs we have that used to be buried in mountains of paperwork will finally be milled down into manageable on-line or e-mail based procedures, making the office itself almost irrelevant. That would be pretty nice. Imagine a world where no one really had to commute to work because everything they needed to get there job done was right at their fingertips.

I think that’ll be quite impressive. I look forward to a future in which the immediate recall of information is available anywhere. It’s so close at it is with the Smart Phones and wi-fi and tablet computers. It’s simply amazing what the future holds and if I can stamp my name on that in some way it would be remarkable.

I think this might be my nerdiest blog so far. What happened to me?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Honorable Martin Luther King Jr. and Chicago

In 1966 Martin Luther King Jr. moved his family in to a rotten apartment on Chicago’s West Side.  He moved in to protest the poor conditions of the public housing in that area and to end the rule of the slum lords.  During that time he led several peace marches through mostly White neighborhoods to call attention the disparity. I’m sad to say that a lot of those Whites did not exactly conduct themselves well. Mr. King was actually struck in the head by a brick that was thrown at him during one of the Marches. It has been reported that the marchers received worse treatment in Chicago than they had in the South.

Eventually Richard J. Daley and Dr. King reached an agreement ending the marches and promises were made to promote fair housing practices. Unfortunately the first Daley administration didn’t keep their promises and very little was ever done.

I’m quite proud to be a Chicagoan, but sometimes I have to shake my head at the history of this city. I think these days we consider ourselves to pretty cosmopolitan and liberal. Look at the rally for President Obama; I think we might have come quite a-ways in 45 years. But there are certainly sore spots in our past that have been slightly forgotten.

I am glad however that Dr. King’s message of peace has not been forgotten. If ever there was a man more deserving of a Peace Prize, it was Dr. King.  I would hope that his message of unity and peace will continue to flourish in these hard times and we never forget his legacy.

I often wonder what Dr. King would think of the present. I wonder if he’d simply be a man for the rights of the poor more than the rights of any one race over the other. I’d like to think that he’d be proud of the progress that has been made, but he’d recognize there was still a lot of work to be done.

I hope we can continue his work and remember that naked aggression has never solved anything. It has almost always made things more complicated or worse for all involved. Non-violent, passive resistance that appeals to the true generous nature of human kind is usually the only way to illicit lasting change.  Compromise is always a viable result in any disagreement and it shouldn’t be feared as an alternative to a long lasting fracas.

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day everybody. And Peace be with you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

An open letter to the drunk

Stop it. Just stop it. You’re being a ridiculous idiot. No one is going to fix your life except you, so stop crying in your martini. Why did you order a martini anyway? You’ve already complained several times how strong it is. 

So you’re upset that your husband left you and you simply can’t understand why. You’re at the bar, drinking, looking for answers in a situation you can easily change. Yet, you’re compelled to tell all of us all about it but won’t listen to any sage bar advice.

Not that our lives are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve all got problems but we resist the urge to purge the contents of our misery on the bar top for the cat to lick up. We’ve got some level of decency in us. Mind you, it’s only a minor level of decency, but it’s there.

I’ve never met someone so obstinate about their own position in life, blaming God for the condition they’ve found themselves in. No amount of religious reasoning will slow your hog like snorting and crying. I say hog like because of your incredible continual rummaging and rooting through the trash of your life, finding the nuggets of hell you are only too happy to share.   We look at you with pity and try to offer understanding, but because you blame God, you can’t see your life is in your own hands. It’s infuriating.

So Stop it. Just stop it. Yeah, have a Mai Tai, that’ll fix it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Volcano Thursday

It would seem Mt. Etna is getting upset. Although my favorite part of the above article is where it says the volcano has yet to threaten any people. I imagine the volcano holding a gun to a bunch of tourists and demanding their wallets. 

I think it’s quite appropriate for there to be a massive volcanic eruption right now. Think about it, there’s been massive bird and fish deaths, flooding all over the world, continued horrors for Haiti, why not throw a lava flow on top of all that. If I were one of those, “End of Days”, type people I might be a little nervous. But I’m not.

The planet is essentially a living thing and like all living things they go through changes. Not like Earth puberty or anything, although hearing Earth’s voice change would probably be hilarious.  Earth is a little too old for puberty at 4.5 billion years old; unless in universe time that is the “teens”.  Then we’re in for some late nights wondering where the car is and why Earth’s room smells so bad. (Oh man, he left a plate on the floor with a half eaten sandwich on it, ewwwww!)

No I don’t think the world is coming to an end. Throughout human history there have been premonitions of the world’s demise and they’ve all been wrong, every single time. While we don’t know how close we’ve actually come to total annihilation, our still being here is proof enough of their error.

I do think that Planet Earth might be a little upset with us however. Not in the sense that we’ve been naughty and need a time out. In the sense that we have upset the natural balance, the natural order if you will. I think a lot of these intense weather incidents and environmental changes are the direct result of our selfish use of the planet and failure to recognize it as a living thing. But I don’t think we cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; that would just be silly. That’s all plate tectonics and such and we have very little to do with continental shifting.  Unless those neighbor kids were successful in secretly tunneling to China by digging in the yard.

I do hope that Mt. Etna does not explode violently as the Krakatoa eruptions on August 26–27, 1883. That volcanic explosion was the loudest sound ever in human history. It was heard as far away as Australia, about 1,930 miles away from Indonesia.  It was a massive eruption and luckily, because of its remoteness, there were only a few deaths. I certainly hope Mt. Etna is not as destructive as Mt. Vesuvius was to the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Now that was Biblical devastation.

On a more local level, I hope Mt. Thursday’s mood stays calm and we can get through the day without any massive eruptions. I might have to sacrifice a virgin to the volcano gods though. Crap, I don’t know any virgins. Any volunteers?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bar Heart

I thought of that the other day while talking with a friend of mine. Bar Heart. Seemed like a good book title or something. I had mentioned it to my good friend because a bar very close to my heart has re-opened in a slightly different incarnation. I spent a solid ten years at the old Red Lion Pub on Lincoln Avenue and it opened up a wonderful world of what a public house should be.  The owners closed it to begin some reconstruction projects a little more than three years ago and the regulars and I were tossed to the four winds.  Sadly that original bar has not been able to re-open.

Every other week the regulars would find themselves in a temporary bar thankfully provided by Joe and the Dank Haus. This helped keep our ragtag group of Red Lion Refugees together.  But it just wasn’t the same. We were together but still apart. As if the galaxy had somehow decided to leave us behind.

We had no choice but to find new locals to spend all of our time in. We were lost in a world of crowded and TV infused bars, crushed by overbearing sound systems and the screams of newly drunk 21 year olds. Not that these temporary bars are bad, they just weren’t The Red Lion. It’s difficult to have an intelligent conversation with someone over the blare of Lady Gaga or Journey for the eighth time in a night. (I’m sure my current bartender will not be too pleased to hear that, but like I told her, she has my head the Red Lion has my heart). I’m happy to have made the friends I have at the bars I’ve been to since The Red Lion’s closure. I don’t regret any of it and I’ll continue to go and laugh and joke and make a general nuisance of myself. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

But now, Joe of the old Red Lion has taken it upon himself to reinvigorate our souls with the opening of The Red Lion Lincoln Square. He opened mid-December and already the universe seems to have realigned somehow.  The first week the old regulars and I entered the new place we were filled with a peace and joy only that could only be compared to a homecoming after a long period of service overseas. (Not that I’m equating military service in Afghanistan or Iraq to missing a Pub, but I think you get my drift).  

We sat at the new bar, lamenting at the temporary (fingers crossed) BYOB status of the place, but eminently pleased with it reappearance. It was then the thought of a “Bar Heart” crept into my mind. A place where, no matter how many other places you’ve been is the one most special to you. It’s special to a lot of us for different reasons; some met their wives there, some grew up there, some people finally felt they had a place that they understood and understood them.  A place where conversation ruled and the worst thing you could do was get into a fist fight over former Senator Paul Simon.

We’ve always known it wasn’t the building that we loved, but it was the fact that we, as regulars, were together and it was always “US” that made it what it was. I’m happy that the building is back, but I’m happier we have a place to enjoy each other company again. “I’ll drink to that”, said my beating Bar Heart.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There's no business like snow business

I can appreciate the magic and wonder of a lazy winter snowfall. I can ponder the endless variations of snowflake design as they gently tumble to the ground and cover everything in clean white. 

What I can’t tolerate is driving in it.  Well, that’s not a hundred percent accurate. I can’t stand other people driving in it. When the snow is coming down and the roads are pretty bad, is there a reason to tailgate me? Am I driving too safe for you Mad Max? Is it a rental car you’re driving like a bat out of hell so you couldn’t care less if you swerve into something or somebody? Take it easy Mac.

It’s nerve wracking enough to drive on the highways when they haven’t been salted or plowed yet. No one needs that added pressure of Johnny Speed demon and his hell mobile bearing down on the rear bumper. That’s just stupid, so slow it down out there. I’d rather go a little slower and arrive alive than go really fast and wake up in heaven. (Cause I’m going to heaven for being a great driver)

I do miss actually enjoying the snow however. I remember being a child and playing out in the snow for hours and actually enjoying it. I remember building snowpeople and forts and caches of S.M.D.’s (Snowballs of Mass Destruction) and going to war.  Well, it was always less of a war and more of a conflict resolution strategy. Anyway, I do miss playing in the snow.

It’s important to have a sense of nostalgia about playing in the snow. As a grown person; I have no burning desire to roll around in the cold, wet snow for hours. I might screw around with a girl in a playful, snow romance (snowmance) way for a few minutes, but I’m not going to spend much time constructing an elaborate fortification to defend my territory from invading Postmen and neighbors.

Playing in the snow is certainly for the imaginative child and I say let them have it, all of it. In fact, maybe we should put them in charge of plowing the highways. Wouldn’t that be awesome? 40 big wheels with snow plows on the front, scrambling down the Edens. I suspect the snow tolls (Snowlls) would be pretty expensive though. Me without snowbucks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not something I’ve weighed in on…. Till now of course

I haven’t weighed in on this terrible shooting in Arizona and I’m not sure what I could add to the conversation. I can condemn the use of violence in response to political vitriol. But that’s about the extent of it I think. I think there have been enough talking heads and pundits saying enough to last us a while.

I tend to wonder how violent acts in our history have changed the political landscape. Let’s start with England’s Guy Fawkes. He of course was wildly unsuccessful in blowing up Parliament and assassinating the Protestant King in the hopes of establishing a Catholic English King, but his name is still synonymous with a desire for political change through rather excessive means.   He was just one of 13 actual conspirators, but he’s the one most remembered, likely because he jumped to his own death on the gallows. He didn’t wait for the noose. He launched himself from the platform and broke his neck when he hit the ground. Take that your highness!

I respect political idealism and the freedoms associated with it. We have every wonderful right to disagree with each other in this country. That’s one of the things that make us so awesome. It’s just too bad that sometimes people aren’t able to use their words successfully and end up going on a wild and irresponsible spree of some kind.  I don’t know what kind of problems the young shooter in Arizona had. It’s likely he was quite mentally ill and his motives were far more personal than politically motivated. Maybe his dog told him to do it.

An assassination started World War I, or else certainly lit the fuse. Gavrilo Princip, killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. This politically motivated assassination led to one the most terrible and life costing conflicts in human history. The results of WWI led to the start of WWII and European relations for years to come.

American’s only have to look as far back as JFK, RFK or even MLK, to get a sense of what an assassin’s bullet can do to the political landscape of a country. I often wonder how different the world might be today if both Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King Jr., had lived.

There’s no way to tell at this time how this particular loon’s bullet will affect the course of our country. But if history has really shown us anything, things always change. I simply hope reasonable and rational minds prevail; and those that need help dealing with any thoughts of assassination or talking politics through the barrel of a gun get the help they need.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Unrequited Potential

I should be doing something else with my life. This job I have is making me feel sick. Do you remember Joe Versus the Volcano? That’s how I feel, like Joe. The fluorescent lights in here are killing me. There’s very little beauty around my crappy little cardboard and carpet looking cubicle.

I get to wondering why I haven’t been promoted and then it occurs to me in a flash. I hate this. I hate what I do.  I feel dirty and worn out. I feel like those old gym shoes, the ones you wore five years ago and had all kinds of adventures on, but now just don’t have the heart to throw away because you’ve been through so much together. So I sit in the dark closet, slowly falling to pieces while your new gym shoes have all the fun.

This hatred for ones career forces you to look back and try to figure out where it went wrong. When I was young I thought I would be a famous actor. I thought I’d be a big star and there’d be posters of my movies on the bedroom walls of the children of my former classmates. So I didn’t really study for anything else. I had no other plans, no fall back career ideas.  I really thought I was going to be an actor. But then I discovered that my heart wasn’t what it needed to be in order to be successful at it. So, with no back-up plan, I wound up in the insurance industry.  I thought I’d just do it for a while until I discovered fame somewhere else. It was always just a job and nothing more.

As I sit here now, working this out, one word pops into my head, “Passion”. What am I passionate about? What really moves me? Motivates me to do something? And I can’t think of anything. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve made it this far in my life and yet feel less than mediocre about my position in it.  I think my greatest motivating factor is just not to be hassled by anything.  Yeah, don’t hassle me. I’ll move mountains not to be hassled with. (What an odd word. Hassle).

I’ve allowed myself to become stagnant. I’m covered with rotting mold and the smell is clouding my brain. If only some millionaire would pay me millions of dollars to jump into a Volcano, which inexplicably spits me out onto some very expense luggage in the sea with a pretty Meg Ryan. Let’s face it she looks like Mum-Ra now. (What happened Meg?)

At least I’m writing with more frequency thanks to this blogging thing. I appreciate those that read my ramblings and hope they can see or feel a little of themselves in my incessant whining. I sure do whine a lot. So I appreciate your patience as I sort through the shambling, doddering, complaining old man that appears to be my emotional content. We’re going somewhere I’m sure, I just can’t see it on the map.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

He threw his clock out the window

Yes, time sure does fly. One of my greatest friends is turning 35 years old today. He mentioned to me, “Hey, remember when that was old”.  I do remember when someone that old would talk to us when we were teenagers. 35 seemed a million years away. As it turned out, it wasn’t a million years away, but certainly a million experiences.

It’s funny how your memory gets longer as your life gets shorter. Thank you Mr. Van Halen, for that little nugget of wisdom; courtesy of the old Right Now video. See, we’re old enough to remember that video. Actually we can remember a time before MTV for that matter.  Of course MTV doesn’t even play videos anymore so I guess there’s a whole new generation that has no idea what music television is all about.

How do you explain that to a kid?
“What does the M in MTV stand for?” Asked little Johnny.
“It stands for Music, as in Music Television”, I replied.
“Music television? What’s that? All that station ever shows are muscle bound idiots and sluts drinking their faces off in places like Miami or Atlantic City”. Replied little Johnny.
“Well, once upon a time they showed music videos”.
“What’s a music video?”

I think I’ve made my point. Poor little Johnny. Never to have known the joy of that new Peter Gabriel video or the sexual innuendos of Great White; how tragic. Poor little Johnny. Well, at least he has the interweb to look up those dinosaurs.

I digress, there are so many experiences that have made up our history and it is fun to remember them when one hits a milestone birthday like 35. Hundreds of years ago you were damn lucky to even make it to 35 years old, and if you did you were the town elder. You probably needed a cane to walk and your hair was completely gray back then.      

Here’s to experience. May it bless us all with millions more opportunities to stretch our memories.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Muertes de ave Misteriosas

I love a good mystery. I especially love ones that involve the natural world. (Opposed to the unnatural world we live in). Recently there was a fantastic real natural mystery regarding the deaths of 5500 birds in Arkansas and Louisiana. It’s a bizarre phenomenon wherein these birds, either flustered by a storm or fireworks all panicked and flew to their deaths on New Year’s Eve.

Such a massive roost suddenly expiring has all the queer beginnings of a Stephen King story. (If he hasn’t written it already).  It also adds fodder for the “End of the World approaching”, prognosticators and/or the Alien conspiracy nuts. It is compelling to think about. What if all those birds, normally up in the trees at night, are surprised by a giant UFO and in their fright begin flying around in a crazed tear and wound up whamming into the  hovering UFO?

I wonder if the Mayans predicted this bird death thing in their Doomsday calendar of events. I’m sure there are religious persons who feel these bird deaths are only the beginning of the end. Is this the first stage of the “end times”? If it is, then I really did pick the wrong time to quit smoking.

I suppose if 80 whales suddenly beached themselves with crudely written signs reading, “Repant Now”, I might be more willing to believe that something apocalyptic might be occurring.  When presented with this thought, my friend Joe said, “Well, that will certainly drive down the cost of Whale Lamp oil”.

But I have a hard time believing that there’s anything really crazy going on. I really think these birds became startled and simply reacted the way they have through thousands of years of evolution and tried to get away. They are not great night fliers and ended up crashing into things. It’s unfortunate and curious but it’s nothing ominous.

If you’re a little more superstitious, apparently everything birds are involved with are Death Omens. Bird at the window?  Death Omen. Bird over the chimney? Death Omen. And so on and so forth.  5500 birds suddenly cashing it in, now that’s a bad Omen.

Is it a mystery after all? Are the deaths of 5500 birds that much of a real mystery, perhaps not.   A natural explanation is the most likely, but wouldn’t it be a little fun if there were a little more meaning to it? It might be scary fun, but fun nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Et tu, Tuesday

It’s a very peculiar day. It just seemed as if everyone on the Edens this morning didn’t have any particular place to be. I was amazed that every vehicle I got behind was content to cruise along at 50 MPH for some reason. I much prefer going at least 65 to 70 if I can, at least it’s trying to keep up with the flow of traffic. But this morning, no one seemed to be all that worried about it.

I suppose I can understand. I’m sure no one really was all that excited to get back to work this morning and they were just dragging their asses through the motions of being a productive member of society; a society that secretly hates you. I say that specifically thanks to the red light ticket/violation I received in the mail yesterday. I love Chicago and it’s been my home forever but I really can’t stand the extortion. It seems it’s illegal to make a right turn on red whether a sign is present or not. I didn’t know that.  It’s not a cheap violation either and for an already cash strapped populace; it’s just another sign that this society we’ve built hates us.

It certainly wasn’t news I wanted to receive three days into my nicotine withdrawal. I almost took a hostage after opening the notice. I calmed down soon enough and resisted the temptation to head over to the corner store any buy a pack of smokes. Take that Chicago! I won’t be paying that cigarette tax anymore! Ha. Oh, you’ll just bury me in parking tickets to make up for it? Damn you! Damn you all to Hell!

I certainly hope that someone starts taxing the crap out of down state Illinois and other municipalities for the water they get from Lake Michigan. Yes, Chicagoans feel like we own the whole lake and since we’re right up against it; we think our water should be free, while those in outlying areas should pay through the nose for it. Maybe that’s the revenue generator we’re looking for, instead of taxing and fining the crap out of ourselves. Let’s pass those fees on to the unsuspecting denizens of some other locality. Mmmwahhahahah!

Yeah, that is mean. Maybe we shouldn’t do that, (sigh). I guess I’ll just have to pay the fine and hope I can scrape enough cash together to make it till my next meager paycheck. There’s a lot more Tuesdays in store I suppose; with their steely knives.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Stuff

It’s my third day without sweet, sweet nicotine. I’ve been pretty good so far. The extra oxygen in my blood stream is an interesting sensation for sure. As I lay down to go to bed last night I had a very curious time. I kept breathing without any difficulty and all the extra clean air seemed to ignite my senses. I’m not sure how stopping smoking effects ones hearing but I heard my alarm clocks for the first time in a long time this morning and I didn’t have any trouble getting out of bed and making it to work on time. 

I don’t know if I can attribute that to stopping smoking or a new sense of responsibility for 2011. I’m not getting any younger for sure and by stopping smoking I’ve likely significantly increased my lifespan, so I’ve got to start taking a little more serious approach with what the hell I’m going to do with all this life.

It’s too bad I still have no idea what to do with myself. Lately I’ve been looking for that special woman to spend my time with. (All that precious time.) I look forward to being a couple again. It’s been a long time for that. I’m starting to wonder about children too. Am I going to have any children and spread my wicked genetic seed through history? I’d like to for sure and part of me feels like time is running out. I’m sure it isn’t, but I just have a bad feeling.

I hope 2011 does bring a lot of answers to my questions. I hope 2011 is filled with fantastic opportunities that I’m not too cowardly to explore. There’s so much potential in new beginnings as long as you’re quick enough to see them. I hope I’m that brave and that swift.