An Ode to Missing Balls

It was a proud sack you carried. The biggest balls I’d ever seen on a dog, not that I’m a connoisseur of dog’s balls or anything. They were big balls for the spare size of your body; and they warped your behavior, those giant balls. They made you do things that you didn’t understand and we didn’t appreciate. They were a vestige of a wild life, a life you would never be able to live.

The wolf that was your forefather chose the easy path. Or was it the hard path? Symbiosis carries its own cost. Surrendering your individual wants and needs to the group, relying on the group to keep you alive just as you try to keep the group alive. Taking the food and shelter in exchange for the limitations on behavior, the ungentle hand of the master.

The warping of your bodies to fit the whims of the selector. No longer the natural selector that bred you to be the cunning pack hunters that you were. Now your genes serve the human guide, molding you to his wayward specifications and needs. Sometimes small and lean, sometimes large and menacing, always the protector and defender of the group. Your services paid for with blood and pain and the sacrifice of your own genetic path through time, now forged anew, melded with the genetic path of the human animal.

Was that a wise choice? Who can say. But the generations of sheep herders and drovers that molded your form to fit their specific criteria for what makes up a good dog could not have understood what it was they were doing to you other than bending you to their will and their desires. You stand there today not quite natural and not quite unnatural. A testament to the malleability of the genetic code that rules all our lives.

Like your absent tail that we would have let you keep, your absent balls represented a liability that we could not afford. The liability of the tail that was docked because generations of sheep herders docked the tails of new pups, tails being just one more liability that a working sheepdog could not afford, dwarfed in comparison by the liability of testosterone enhanced viciousness and territoriality. The urine smell of marks on household furniture. The vain pursuit of the breeding imperative, a cross that you would bear all your life if we left you whole and complete. The additional litters of puppies in a world already drowning in flawed dogs without loving homes, measured in balance with the whim of male vanity. The desire to see your pet be the embodiment of your own male virility.

(Look at those balls!)

To be able to measure both paths and weigh them in your own mind. To know both the life without fulfillment, dying one day in the future knowing that you have failed to produce the offspring that nature foolishly demands of you, even though the world doesn’t need more dogs right now. Knowing that life and also knowing the life of unbiased devotion to the pursuits that your form suits you to. That one pure devoted life versus the life of frustrated pursuits curtailed by the master forced to be harsh in the face of your intransigence. Your insistence on pursuits that you will never be allowed to fulfill. To be able to judge which life carries the most real satisfaction, for yourself. Which would you choose, given that choice?

Do not hate me, my faithful companion. I beg this of you. Like the sheep herder that set your forefathers on the course that led you to me, I simply do as I think best, never really knowing if what I think is best really is the best. Am I missing something, myself? Is there some part of me that was taken away by people who felt they knew best what my course in life should be?

I cast myself backwards in time with the inner eye of imagination. I see horsemen on the plains. Nomads that knew no roof other than the endless sky. Living day to day by the skill of their hands, shaping bows and arrows the way they shaped their dogs and horses. Even they had masters. Tribal leaders that corresponded almost directly in their own way with the leaders of your forefather’s wolf packs. The most capable. The most charismatic.

The last wild men in Europe. Taking what they wanted from sheepherder and farmer alike. Taking from town folk and their rulers when they dared stand against them. Taking and taking again until they are hemmed in, strapped down and civilized right along with the rest of the human race. That force of civilization then launching outward, suppressing native populations across the world, trammelling all the wild men with the curse (or blessing?) of civilized life.

Did we cut off our own balls when we civilized ourselves? Was it more manly to take what was wanted than to work and barter and pay for it? Who now living can say?

In that life I would last mere moments, even if I had been born to that life. Too many flaws. Too much of a burden. Much better is the life I have today, even with all its insufficiencies. It remains life, the most precious of gifts bestowed on the unthinking universe. To be allowed to admire its vast arching complexity. The universe knowing itself even if only in one small way. What will all those small ways add up to? I’m glad I have this life. I hope that you are glad to have your life, as limited as we have made it for you.

How would you tell me, if you could tell me? The kisses and butt shimmies that pass for tail wags for you make me believe you are happy, but are you really happy? Would you have preferred the short life but a merry one, the life that a teenage me almost embraced? Had a different door opened, I would have gone there and been long gone by now. In that last fleeting moment of consciousness would I have thanked the universe for my brief moment in the sun or cursed my bad genetic luck for saddling me with such a miserable existence?

I will never know. I have but this life, and you have but your own life. If you could speak would you grumble about how your absent balls still itch? Or would you have already moved on to the next contemplation? Where has that tennis ball gotten off to again? Can we go for a walk now? I hope that the latter is true.

Do not hate me, my faithful companion. I acted in what I thought was your best interest and my best interests together. The best plan that my flawed human consciousness could conjure up, with what little resources I have to offer to both you and I at this late date. Yes, let’s go take that walk now. It is the least I can do for you. We can find that wayward tennis ball when we get back.

Face Covering

Got a Minute? –Monday, April 27

New state directives are coming… Want to know how Austin is planning to reopen safely? Join us at 7pm to learn what the state and local orders mean for you.

Posted by Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Monday, April 27, 2020
Facebook – Austin Mayor Adler

I resisted wearing face covering for as long as I could. I did this not just because I have a hard time reading faces and so want to make myself more easily read by people I might talk to, but also because I have a hard enough time breathing while out on a walk or doing any strenuous activity without having a barrier between me and the air I so desperately need. Austin made face covering mandatory, so I finally gave in and started wearing something to cover my mouth and nose.

I wear a bandanna tied in the classic bandit style to go along with my straw hat and tinted prescription glasses. I’m sure I strike a menacing appearance in this getup, or would if it wasn’t for the bright blue sweatpants and bright yellow walking shoes. The bandanna does seem to reduce the amount of pollen that I am exposed to, even if it doesn’t remove all of it, so I may have to keep wearing the damn thing on high allergy days even after all this coronavirus madness is nothing more than an almost forgotten nightmare.

Me and my new walking buddy getting ready to sally forth.

I don’t care what Governor Abbott or his lunatic Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, think about anything. They are taking marching orders from the madman in the White House, and so consequently what they might say or do is pretty much irrelevant if not downright harmful or possibly fatal in the long run. Don’t listen to the madman in the White House. That is the best advice I can offer to anyone. I have no idea why anyone does listen to him anymore.

I’ll continue wearing my bandit mask for as long as it suits me. If they make me go physically to the polls during the runoffs and then in November, I will go there wearing the thing as well. I will wear the mask and vote all of them out of office. This is proof positive that real criminals don’t wear bandannas and straw hats. Real criminals wear business suits and ties and they lie right to your face with not a hint of insincerity. “I have a great deal for you!” Sure you do.


I have been experiencing some deep depression lately. It came to me last night what this depression probably stems from. I don’t know what to write about in this time of coronavirus that isn’t somehow related to the coronavirus. All of my podcasts are going full-on coverage of the subject, and most of the news is also about it.

I’ve been deleting most news podcasts for weeks. Over the last week I have finished two books on tape rather than listen to any of the podcasts that I usually spend time listening to. I have no use for more news about this disease. I know what I need to know to stay healthy, and most of what is being said is correction of the misinformation that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) has been spreading about the disease on a nightly basis, with the help of the media that can’t seem to stop spreading his lies for him. The WaPo ran a piece today title Trump has played the media like a puppet. Ya think? I’ve only been trying to say this for four years now. Nice that you’ve finally noticed that you are being used. Maybe you should fix that problem before it gets out of hand.

The Wife came to me today and said she had a revelation. “The blame game is about to start.” I tried to be patient with her, but this really isn’t a revelation to me. The OHM has been engaging in the blame game for four years now. He and his cronies are clearly gearing up to start blaming the Democrats for cracking down on the populations under their control, imposing restrictions that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Covid-19) did not require. They’ll say people aren’t dying at greater rates than previously. The cities and states will point to the elevated numbers of deaths. The OHM will say those aren’t coronavirus deaths. The cities and states will say they were coronavirus deaths. The OHM will say they weren’t because they weren’t tested for coronavirus. The cities and states will object and point out that there aren’t enough tests to test all the dead people. The OHM will shrug and go back to golfing. Just like he has always done.

ALL IN – Trump hits 108 days at his own golf properties – April 20, 2018

It’s important to remember that this guy complained bitterly about all the time that Barack Obama spent on the golf course. What he hates most about Barack Obama on the golf course (other than he is a black man on a golf course that isn’t a caddy) is that Obama is a better golfer than he is, and Barack Obama spent less time getting there than the OHM has already spent on the golf course during his joke of a presidency.

Donald Trump wants to open the country back up so he can get back to golfing and get back to charging people to golf with him. It hasn’t got anything to do with the deaths and the suffering, or how much worse it will all be after we end social distancing. He just wants to keep doing what he has always done. Screw people and steal their money.

This is par for the course. This is how every single embarrassing event has been played since Trump blundered onto the political stage and demonstrated that he has no capacity to feel shame for his shameful behavior. There is a fly in this ointment though. There are records of his malfeasance.

For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.

But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience even for the oral summary he now takes two or three times per week, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.

The advisories being relayed by U.S. spy agencies were part of a broader collection of worrisome signals that came during a period now regarded by many public health officials and other experts as a squandered opportunity to contain the outbreak.

The Washington Post

The OHM was ignoring all the signs that COVID-19 was going to be a problem until he couldn’t ignore it anymore. Then he blamed the CDC, the WHO and the Chinese government for the things he had every right to have known months previously if he had only bothered to pay attention.

He tried to blame the Democrats for not giving him the funds that he needed to combat the disease until Nancy Pelosi handed him a check for two trillion dollars. A check that the OHM then promptly put in his and his closest buddies pockets. That bit of malfeasance will be coming back to bite him right about the time elections roll around in November.

Texas may open back up on Friday or Monday. Austin won’t be following the governor’s direction. Neither will Houston, Dallas or any other city that understands what the real problem is here. The real problem is that these Republican morons think they can bluff a virus. That they can lie to mother nature and she won’t punish them for it.

I feel bad for those people who can’t afford to stay home any longer. Those people who have purposely been kept poor by the system they are part of in some ill-gotten belief that you have to keep people hungry, homeless or on the edge of homelessness, in order to get them to work. We have all be stolen from over the course of our lives by these people in suits and ties who think they are better than we are because they have money and we don’t. They don’t understand, any more than the poor do, that they are rich because the system allows them to be rich.

The system could be adjusted so that everyone is at least comfortable with some pretty minor tweaks. The two trillion dollar coronavirus rescue package? The country’s entire population could be granted a guaranteed minimum income for an entire year for that amount of money (Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend) What are the benefactors of most of that money doing with it right now? Driving the stock markets up with all this extra cash they just stumbled into. Pretty much the same thing they were doing before the pandemic hit with all that free money that Trump gave them in his tax bill.

So instead of making sure that no one has to work that isn’t constitutionally set up for the kind of risky work that is required right now, instead of making sure that no Americans are homeless and have enough food to eat, we’ve given billionaires even more money to play around with. Now the poor feel compelled to return to work having burned through the $1200.00 pittance that was allowed to them.

People are going to die. Most likely a lot of people are going to die. I’m going to do my best to not be one of them. I’m not planning on going anywhere (other than to vote as I noted previously) until right about January the 20th of 2021. I might not even go out then other than to abandon this hellhole that we’ve made, heading for greener pastures if there are any of those left by then. We’ll just have to see whether the tide turns or not.

Two Steps Forward

When this is over this country is going to need more than bandaids. It’s going to need fucking surgery. Things need to change and not go back to normal. Ctrl-Z us back to how we were in 2016 is simply not going to cut it, and honestly it shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to prove our unemployment system is a mess, that we need universal healthcare and that workers need benefits, the right to organize and wages that reflect how essential they really are.

John Oliver – Apr 12, 2020
HBOCoronavirus IV: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Apr 12, 2020

Living the Life of a Shut-In

It was a full week into the Austin advisement to shelter-in-place before I realized that most people were having a hard time dealing with the life of a shut-in. Not much has changed for me in these times of coronavirus. I’m not any sicker today than I was almost twenty years ago when I became a shut-in. I have to say that being shut-in because of your disabilities is a different kind of animal than being shut-in on the orders of the government.

When I first read up on the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew that I could not afford to be exposed to it. I have several of the listed co-morbidities so catching the virus will likely be a death sentence if there are insufficient medical facilities to handle the 20% of cases that will need hospitalization. I was practicing social distancing back at the beginning of February, before the belated attempts to curtail the pandemic came into being. Canceling appointments, avoiding leaving the house, etcetera, I’ve been at this for two months as I write this. The news is getting me down but the isolation isn’t.

I haven’t given how I’ve managed to cope with being a shut-in a lot of thought. Like all things that you have to do to survive, you just do it. I’m naturally a loner, so being alone really isn’t a problem for me. The staying indoors is something that I had a hard time adjusting to when I first started working in an office. It took years to get me adjusted to not going outside because of work. When I couldn’t work anymore I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed wandering around on foot. I can and do go on walks these days, but my disabilities keep me mindful of notifying people when I leave and when I return. I don’t want anyone freaking out because they didn’t find me holed up in my office, which is where I can usually be found.

At this point in the scheme of social distancing, my lone excursions are still permitted by the government here. If a stricter quarantine is put into effect, I see a lot of frustrating miles being walked on the treadmill. That would be much like it was in the early days of my disability, when I was almost certain that being outside was an active threat to my existence.

I have to admit, the first two years of social isolation were quasi-tragic. That was before the government granted that I was disabled, so not only could I not work, but we were at risk of losing the house because I couldn’t work. The Wife and our children would all be out on the street with me because I couldn’t stop the world from spinning when I was under stress. My stress loads were high, so my vertigo was more frequent; and because the vertigo was more frequent, I didn’t trust that I could take a 45 minute walk outside and not be throwing up in a ditch somewhere, waiting for an ambulance to come pick me up.

We bought a treadmill as soon as the disability payments started coming in, so that I could at least attempt to get in some exercise and feel like I was moving. That has been a lifesaver many times over. One of the only pieces of exercise equipment that we’ve purchased that has been worth the price.

I tried to hide in movies and television as much as possible back then. There are a lot of the newly isolated these days trying to cope by engaging in the same activity. I watched more TV then than I did as a teenager. I started to feel the needed to record everything so that I could watch it again when I wanted, just in case I needed something else to distract myself with. I spent several quality months trying to rig up a system that let me capture programs straight to my computer hard drive. I recorded shows for the children, the Wife and myself. I was always coming up with something else we all had to watch, just so I wouldn’t obsess about the impending eviction or the desperate actions I might have to take to keep my family from being evicted.

But our finances have slowly stabilized, even if they haven’t gone comfortably into the black (you aren’t allowed to have savings on disability) and with the stress of work life removed the vertigo spells have been mercifully infrequent. Bear Philley started me playing World of Warcraft not too long after I starting getting disability payments, and in that MMO I’ve found the limited social interaction that I need to stay sane and be a shut-in at the same time.

There is one other ingredient that is essential to this recipe for sanity that I am trying to describe here. More than distraction and finding alternative ways of connecting with other people. More than not having to worry (too much) about keeping the lights on in the house and your children fed. That ingredient is the ability to live in the now.

Jesus JonesRight Here Right Now – Mar 26, 2018

I remember when this song came out in 1991. There was hope in my world back then. A new father, a new job. The internet was becoming the World Wide Web and it seemed like the world really was waking up from history for the first time ever. The problem with thinking this, that the world is waking up, is that it is you that is waking up. You are becoming conscious of the now, in those moments of transcendence or inspiration.

Now is always going to be a transitive state. There is no point that is now that will still be now after it happens. Being in the now requires you to do exactly that. No plans for the future. No contemplation of the past. The fingers on the keyboard, hovering, waiting for the next words to occur to you so that you can put them down on the page.

How long can you hold that? Fingers poised, without writing anything? Without feeling like you’ve failed to write something? Knowing that the writing will happen when it will happen. To be conscious in the moment, for as long as that moment can be extended. Living in the now. This is where we all are in our quarantine space. Unable to make plans because there is nothing to plan for aside from mundane tasks that really don’t require that much planning.

This is where I’ve been for years now. In the mornings I wake up and take stock of the situation. Is the sun shining? If yes, then go for a walk. If no, then maybe go for a walk depending on weather/allergy conditions. What chores need doing today? What thing that I’ve been putting off for years can I get done today?

I select that thing from the list of possibilities for the day, and then I put all the other thoughts aside and get busy engaging in the task at hand. Dive into it. Don’t just wash dishes, explore the wonderful world of fluid dynamics. Don’t just wash the clothes, quantify fabrics and colors and on and on. Get into the now. I mean, really get into it. Like your whole life depends on it.

The garage step I’ve been threatening to assemble for years, now done.

That is what life is in the end. Life is what happens, and this is happening to you now. Engage it, learn from it, expand beyond it. Be the person you need to be to get through this moment, so that you can emerge from this moment as a new person capable of dealing with the next thing that comes along.

Be assured that there will be a next thing. there always is a new now to wake up into so long as life continues. Be grateful for each moment that you live, even if that moment seems like drudgery to the outside observer. Find that thing that you can hold onto, and hold onto it until it passes. Hold onto it because that moment will never occur again, no matter how many dozens of times it seems like this has happened before. Savor it, because it will be irretrievably gone before you know it.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Rutger Hauer

Daylight Swearing Time

It’s that time of year again. That time of year where you exclaim “Fuck! How did it get to be 4:30 am already?” It isn’t. Except it is now.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…And it will go on being 4:30 am at this time of night until after 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 1, 2020. Then it will be 3:30 AM again. At least I have that to look forward to in November.


Imagine just for a few minutes, what it would be like for your GPS to calculate time variance based on degrees of longitude rather than twenty-four one hour time zones. In the same way your phone can change times for daylight savings, it can change time to keep up with your actual position on the globe. The device that you already rely on to tell you what time it is could just do the time calculation for your location and actually tell you what the local time is. The satellites that control GPS already perform these calculations just to be able to talk to each other and establish UTC for themselves.

 I’m just not going to comply with Daylight Savings Time until somebody in authority can explain to me what we’ve been doing with all the daylight we’ve saved for the last 200 years.

I mean the interest alone on all those photons should be enough to power every solar panel in the country for the next decade.

I’m just saying, somebody owes me some sunlight here.

Stonekettle Station

Football

I have no use for any of the games that come under the name football. Not the game we call Soccer here in the US, and not the game they call Football here, either. The only reason this blog entry exists is so that I can record comedy sketch material that has been apparently lost to time.

Soccer is the real football, because it is played almost exclusively with the feet. That makes it the game that should be called Football. If the players can’t use their hands, except for the goalie, then that game is a football game. Plain and simple.

American football is Rugby played with helmets and shoulder pads. The only time the players use their feet, other than for running, is when they kick the ball, and those are special instances and usually special players that are set out in the rules of the game. Otherwise you use your hands to manipulate the ball. But you hold the ball, not smack it around with your hands, so the game isn’t Handball either.

Rugby fans know that they have to give their favorite sport a different name than Football, because in the places where they play Rugby, the sport called football is the sport that requires players to use their feet. Rugby and American football share some common sports ancestry with soccer/football.

If I was more interested in sports I’d probably be motivated to go look up some more stuff on the subject in order to make this blog entry longer and more interesting. Let its brevity reveal my true feelings about all sports. Can we talk about something interesting now?

Fruforah

I swear I heard the word fruforah uttered by some englishman somewhere. I can almost here the voice. “All this fruforah is for nothing!” However, no search string that I’ve tried will give me a quote or anything like the word fruforah, even when I include the word brouhaha, which should have a synonymous meaning. It isn’t in the thesaurus either, so it isn’t a word. Well, it is now.

Take that, copyeditors!