Friday, June 18, 2010

I Apologize.

After apologizing to BP for a White House "shakedown," and then (after some pressure from his own party) apologizing for his apology, Joe Barton, Republican representative of Texas was feeling much better about himself. Clearly on a roll, he picked up a phone and apologized to his wife for forgetting their anniversary. Then he called his son and asked forgiveness for missing all of those baseball games. He was feeling distinctly lighter, and didn't want this feeling to end.

On his way out of the committee hearing he stopped to apologize to the oil-smeared protester who was now sitting in handcuffs being questioned by a police officer. Suddenly, she began feeling bad for having interrupted the hearing. Tears welled up in her eyes and she sincerely apologized to the police officer. She reminded the officer of his mother, and he began thinking he should probably call his mother and come clean about the broken vase he blamed on his sister all those years ago. He hoped a good old-fashioned "I apologize" would do. Consequently, he let the protester go with a warning, and handed her a paper towel to wipe off the oil.

Barton saw the growing effect of his apology and realized he couldn't stop there. He immediately called a press conference and apologized to Joe Biden for having offended him. This inspired Biden to apologize to Barak Obama about all of the gaffs he has made over the course of their term of office. The President was deeply touched and decided to call the Tea Party and select members of the Republican Party to apologize for having scared the $&*# out of them with his more socialistic policies. The parties responded by saying sorry for all of the times they had called him "Adolf Stalin" in private, and vowed to take down all of the "Obamanation" posters they had put up.

This overwhelming feeling of reconciliation and love spread throughout the country. It became so powerful that all of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico voluntarily gathered itself together and retreated back into the ground. Expert oil translators reported a gurgled apology right before the last of the oil disappeared. Then, in an unprecedented move, Greenhouse gasses sent an email to Al Gore saying they were sorry for all of the trouble, and that they knew when they weren't wanted. Baffled scientists have not been able to find any in the atmosphere since and Al Gore finally said sorry for flying in private jets. The French apologized for their snobbery, and then they apologized again for being skinnier than us even while eating better food. And Texas even vowed to be a little more humble.

Don't underestimate the power of an apology.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bizarre dreams and fighting off old age.

I have been having really bizarre dreams lately. I can't say that this is anything new. If you know me you have heard the one about the kittens attacking the poor toothless baby alligators. I'm not sure why my dreams are so often violent, and just down-right strange. I really don't take any drugs, I promise, unless you count Breyers Butter Pecan ice cream. I have heard that ice cream can give you strange dreams, but I thought it was merely folklore--maybe not.

So the other night was in a concentration camp with my wife, at least one of my children, and a few friends. It was a small camp and we were planning our escape by staging a violent coup. For some reason there was a lot of junk in all of the barracks. We scoured the place for weapons, and I suddenly remembered that one room had, at the bottom of a pile of junk, a sword and a battle axe. So I went to go dig them out, but our captors came looking for us, just as I got into the room with the junk. There were about five of them after me and they all had billy clubs. I decided to try and hide under the junk. They were poking around in the pile trying to find me when I found the sword. The only trouble with the sword was that it had a rat-tail tang, so I knew it was good for about one hit.

Now, in retrospect, I know that what I am about to describe might sound slightly humorous, but it was terrifying at the time. I had to make the decision to fight for my life and potentially kill other human beings. This was not something that my dream mind came to lightly. The decision to kill was further complicated by the fact that the longer the people looked for me the older they became. Within seconds they were all between the ages of 65-85, and wearing retirement garb--complete with cardigans and baseball caps. But I knew that it was either them or me, so I finally lashed out with my sword, and instead of breaking immediately at the thin tang, it sort of deflated. That first hit was good, and it drew blood in my pursuer, but right then my sword became as limp as a ribbon (please no Freudian interpretation of my dreams, if you chose to comment).

As the elderly guards/retirees, closed in, I managed to run to a near-by closet and grab my battle-axe. I started hacking away at my foes, and the feeling of the blade lacerating their flesh was a truly horrible. Amidst the gore, they started cracking jokes and growing very cavalier about death. Then I woke up.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Description of the ocean waves...abridged

Oh thou elusive short post, how I seek thee--so often in vain. Even now as I sit by an open window with the ocean crashing less than 30 yards below me I fight the impulse to drone on about its beauty in clumsy attempts to avoid cliche. Who will win in my quest for brevity--the soul of wit, or the Charles Dickens wanna-be that is my soul?

As I sit, typing, and tasting the salty mist wafting into my room, filling me with Wordsworthean rapture, I struggle against the second-rate Russian novel begging to be born...Ah, Moscow...No! I must fight the tuggings and the tantalizing call of the imp of the verbose.

But the waves are so spectacular, the call of the seagulls so haunting. Let me describe them--describe them in the same ways that they have been described for centuries--let me talk about the the sublime--let me use 20 words where five will do. I want to put Tolkien to shame with my my description!!!

See?! Here's the problem. Now that I have this at about the right length I have no way to end it. It seems that I am doomed to ramble on in an attempt to craft some kind of misguided arch, or to stop in a place so awkward that

Friday, April 30, 2010

Power-point, bullets, and parliamentary procedure

I feel like talking a little news this morning. There is so much interesting stuff going on. That's probably always true, but I seldom have time to read newspapers. First of all, I have to say that I am terribly proud of the military for they way they are questioning their current excessive use of power-point. Yeah, I didn't even know that the military used power-point, I thought it was more like point and shoot for them--okay that was dumb, sorry. Anyway, apparently they use power-point in high-ranking military councils, debriefing troops etc. Why not? That makes sense.

Everyone else is using power-point, why not the military? Plenty of people in my field (oh, let's face it, I don't have a field) think of the military as a gathering of mindless automatons, but I am happy to report that they are not. No, they are not thinkers because they use power-point, but because they very responsibly analyze their use of it, and its effect on humans. According to a New York Times article about it, Brigadier General H.R. McMaster said that power-point can be an internal threat: "It's dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control." He also said, "Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable." Sure, all of his statements have that definite and laconic feel of your iconic tough guy, but with his frequent use of the word, "illusion" and his knack for creating new words for the English lexicon (bullet-izable) I would almost suppose that he has been reading philosophy--at least Baudrillard.

He dislikes bullet-points (no one in the New York Times article picked up on the irony of how often the Military was using the word "bullet" in a non-combat sense) because of the way they de-humanize a situation and take away from the interconnected social, political, economic and religious factors: "If you divorce war from all of that, it becomes a targeting exercise." I don't pretend to understand, in these contemporary conflicts, when exactly war is necessary and when it is not, but I think this shows at least the beginning of some fairly responsible thinking.

In other news, if you haven't seen the brawl that broke out in Ukrainian Parliament you ought to check out one of the videos on it. It's almost surreal. You see a completely normal-looking parliamentary room and people are behaving like it is junior high--at least my junior high. I'm not saying that people have always behaved in parliamentary rooms, but there aren't many bar-room brawls in them. It was like a John Wayne movie. People where throwing eggs--seriously, who brings eggs to Parliament--that the house speaker was deflecting with umbrellas (PS they don't have the superstition in Ukraine about opening umbrellas indoors). There were choke-holds, punches, kicks, bloody noses, and head slaps. I kept waiting for the three stooges to come out with pies.

One New York Times article about it was titled, "Fight in Ukraine Parliament Reflects Turmoil in Politics." No, really? You think? Isn't there something else it could reflect?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I think I'm going to stick with paper.

So, the disadvantages to an electronic journal would be:
1) that I can't really take my laptop camping with me--at least not on the kind of camping that I enjoy, nor can I just take it out into nature anytime I want without worrying about the battery or about the laptop getting dirty.
2) If I am ever in a position where I am without electricity for an extended period of time a laptop is useless.
3) If my computer is not on at the moment I want to write in my journal my laziness factor could keep me from making an entry.
4) If my hard drive dies, explodes, etc. then I have to worry about having back ups, but there are some advantages to that as well, a paper journal can certainly burn in a fire.
5) There is something organic and particularly pleasing about writing with ink. I like the way that it bleeds onto the page. There is something artistic involved here. Certainly not high art, nor commercial art, as my handwriting is not something you would want the Declaration of Independence written in, but it has its own folksy stamp to it. Again though, the point is that I am doing it for myself, and possibly some really bored progeny; therefore, it falls into the doodling on scratch-paper category of art.
Yeah, I think that I am going to stick with paper.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blogger Killed the Journal Writer?

For some reason today was the day that I suddenly had a moment of hand-written journal crisis. Meaning that I began to seriously consider making the switch to an electronic journal. Maybe just in a Word Document on my laptop, or something similar. I am currently on volume XI of my old-fashioned, pen-and-ink, love-affair with my own life, and I am starting to get a little frustrated with the medium. It is pretty much the only thing that I hand-write anymore, and I am becoming increasingly aware of how much slower things come out when using just one hand and a pen.

At work I occasionally do transcriptions of 19th century journals, and I am constantly frustrated by one journal writer in particular who is fairly esoteric (he himself being the only initiated) in his handwriting. I then look at my own journal and realize that I am not really one to be calling the kettle its proverbial dark color. Granted, it is likely that not even my children or grandchildren will read more than a page or two of my journal--if that. Still, on the off-chance that they do I would like it to be legible, but since it is the only thing I hand write these days my penmanship is going the way of certain 19th century journals writers that I complain about.

I can see some disadvantages as well though. I think I will have to come back to this dilemma.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Church Dance

My wife and I went to a church dance tonight, and we even brought our children because it was a "family" dance. For the first hour or so everybody stayed glued to the tables and finger food lines, and not a soul was dancing. There was some palpable awkwardness in the air to the point that I was reminded all too well of junior high. Well, it reminded me of the stereotype of junior high, not of my actual junior high because the dance floor was never empty at my junior high, though there was plenty of awkwardness back then as well. .

This church dance was also different from my junior high dances because when people finally did start dancing there was no bumping and grinding, or "freaking" as we used to call it. Wow, I feel old when I say things like "as we used to call it." Yes, in terms of dirty dancing, my junior high dances resembled the Viper Room--though probably not quite as many drugs, but close. I swear the school spend its entire budget on the DJ and the electricity used by his light show, etc...I was also always a little deaf for several hours afterwards.

With what went on you wouldn't have thought that we had chaperons, but we did. Sure, they were usually huddled in the the corners in the fetal position, but they were there, and they sure didn't stop the near copulation set to music. I'm sure that I had some sense of the inappropriateness of 13-year-olds trying to become one flesh with clothes on, but it was certainly difficult to avoid if you didn't want to sit on the bleachers. I would be dancing in a small circle with a group of friends, none of us actually touching, when all of a sudden there was some girl I had never seen before somehow attached to me at the leg or hip. Ah, those awkward adolescent moments.

I'm happy to say that there were no jiggy leeches at this church dance. Once all of us married folk loosened up with a nice, classic Limbo-rock things went pretty smoothly from there. It was obvious that a lot of us hadn't danced in a while, but thankfully we stopped caring how we looked after a few songs. And, hey, we got to take home some vegetables--always a sign of victory in my book.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lock and Load.

Whenever I try to staple together a few papers with an empty stapler I must own that I get a little miffed. But then I remember that what this means is that I get to load it. Now, I'm not sure what it is, but I really do like loading staplers. There is something about that subtle metallic clicking when things get put into place that relaxes me, and at the same time makes me feel powerful. Maybe it is just the ten-year-old boy in me, but I feel a little like I am loading a gun, and I like it. There is something relaxing about loading a gun--I really probably shouldn't say this online. Now, I should say that I am a little left-leaning in most of my politics, but as far as guns go...well, I like guns. I grew up in a family that enjoyed going to the mountains a couple of times a year to shoot. For further clarification, we don't hunt, and I am really not interested in it, but we like to shoot at bottles, cans, paper plates etc...I'm not interested in creating blood when I shoot--unless of course there were a mountain lion or a rapist charging my family or myself. I actually only own one gun, and it is a WWII Russian, bolt-action, riffle. The bullets are so darn expensive that I have actually only fired my gun 15 times, and at the present time I only have one bullet. So, its not like I am going to be taking down any mountain lions or rapists with it--that would be unpractical, and I really hope to never encounter either. I just take a little pleasure in loading things.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Yes, He's Human

I went to the career fair earlier this week and there were mostly businesses there this time. Okay, actually I think that there are always mostly businesses there, but I never talk to them. I don't think that I would enjoy working for most businesses, which really limits my pool of potential jobs, but that is another story. What I was struck by at this "business" fair, was that people with finance backgrounds look just like anybody else.

I don't know exactly why I was so shocked, but there were people in front of me talking about their backgrounds in finance and marketing, and they looked so completely normal. I mean, it struck me that I could have been giving that spiel--in a strange, nightmarish, parallel universe of course, but still...they were human.

I don't know why, but I always expect finance people to look a little robotic--you know, like androids or something. But I am here to tell the rest of you people who have been completely insulated by the Humanities for the past few years like I have, that They (at least by all appearances) seem to be full-fledged members of the human race--not just humanoid creatures as I had supposed.

And then today, in the New York Times, I saw a picture of Ben S. Bernake, the man just voted in for his second term as the Fed chief. This is a major panjandrum of finance and he looks...well...almost cuddly. He looks like a guy who might read Charles Dickens to you, and all of the other kiddies, by the fire. You certainly wouldn't know to look at him that he has numbers flowing throw his veins.

Well, just another day that confirms the suspicions of my ignorance. I guess a person's a person, no matter how financial.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Broad Roads

I have got to learn the art of the short post, or I will continue to let months go by without writing anything. I keep thinking of little ideas here and there, but I am never in a position to write them down. Also, I find myself constrained by my own artificial constraints. This is unfortunate. I feel obligated to write about the etymology of words only. THIS IS A BLOG, for crying out loud, and no one is really reading it, so why the *&%$ do I care about constraints?
I had meant for there to be a double meaning in this blog's title: not only would it be the etymology (history and origins and linguistic stuff) of words, but also my life. And if I write anything, it should fall under that category. But again, I am bound by my own unintentional rules. I tried to give myself a broad road, and frankly I like broad roads, at least I think that I do. I don't know, the fact that I tend to create new rules for myself, in addition to all of the rules I am already living by would suggest that broad roads aren't my thing.
Broad roads are great: I can breathe on broad roads, but I also find breathing constricted without rules. Paradoxical? Yes. So, I guess I need more balance. I think I need to break a few more rules. Not laws or anything (this bit of clarification in here is especially for any future employers who might be reading this) but definitely some of my self-imposed rules. I think that I should down right rebel against some of my arbitrary rules.
I want to stop thinking about writing for an audience for a couple of reasons. For one thing, there are only about three to five people who might read my blog anyway (my wife hasn't even read my last five entries), and as much as I would like to entertain them, if I go into it with that attitude I will probably do stupid things, or just not write very often. Secondly, I need to place to experiment, to babble etc. In other words, I need to combat my paranoia about being read certain ways, or being read period.