Now, I’m pissed.

September 3, 2013 1 comment

Warning: this post contains very strong language.

It’s been a while since I posted to the blog, mostly because I didn’t have anything to say.  Now, I do.  This is a photograph I took last year:

Root formation along the McKenzie River Trail.

Root formation along the McKenzie River Trail.

This is a natural root formation along the McKenzie River trail.  It has been here for hundreds of years.  Thousands of people have stopped along the trail to marvel at its beauty and all have shown the sense and courtesy to leave it alone.  Until now.

Today, my wife and I took the dog up to the trail for a Labor Day family outing and I discovered this (DJ took this photo with here cell phone):

2013-09-02 14.08.33Now, I’m pissed.  No, let me rephrase that.  I’m fucking livid.

JP, whoever the fuck you are, I hope you’re reading this.  You are a colossal piece of shit.  You hear me?  You are a miserable, festering pile of human waste.  You have forever destroyed a spectacular natural work of art.  No one will ever be able to enjoy the beauty of this root formation without having to stare at the disgusting ass wipe you left behind.  You deserve to spend the rest of your pathetic life living in a cold, colorless world where neighborhood gang bangers tag your stupid pickup once a week.

Fuck you, asshole.

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Book Review (Yeah, Book Review Bitch)

August 28, 2013 Leave a comment

 The Forever War

Joe Haldeman

Before I begin a review on this book, I want to explain why, in heavens name, I feel compelled to write a book review on ANY book.

I am a book addict. If I am not absorbed in a book, I feel unfulfilled, dissatisfied, vaguely unhappy. Books somehow plug that emotional cavity that is empty and aching without a story to fill it up. This function is served for some (my kids for example) by television or movies or even gossip. For me, it always has been books. When I am reading a good book, I am content. When I put down my book, I can’t wait to get back to it. I get through my dreary activities of daily living just to make it back to THE BOOK. When I finish a book, I begin my quest to find another.

Usually fiction. I can get into a good biography, but it has to be a damn good biography. It has to be as good as – well – fiction. History can be very diverting, too. Also stuff like travel books. These work because they TAKE you someplace. Sort of like, well, you know, ‐ fiction. You’ve got the idea.

Where does one find suitable books to salve the soul? Oh, my! This should be easy. Well, it is not. A few sources of book recommendations include: A friend can tell you about one they loved (usually unbearably trite!). A bookstore can display the best sellers (this just means a bunch of good folks have been hoodwinked into buying stupid books !) My ipad can tell me about the same shit the bookstore is peddling. Websites like Good Reads can narrow it down for you (are publishing companies paying these people?) You can find literary lists like “100 best books of all time.” Man, that is a crap shoot let me tell you.

Okay, before you think I am an egomaniac with the fixed notion that I am the only arbiter of good literary taste in the universe, I must humble the tone here. I am sure that these books appeal to a great many people and these great people of whom there are many are not wrong. They are just not ME. Or YOU. So, they pick the books that rang their chimes – maybe 100 years ago by the way – and it just doesn’t set the bells off for me reliably. Of course, some of the novels from lofty lists of all time literary achievements, DID strike a cord and even construct a sonnet in my brain or the strains of a symphony. So, I am only saying that these types of lists are well intended and researched and the recommendations have stood the test of time, but still offer a roll of the dice. If there is any good news from the “100 Best Lists”, the books recommended are typically cheap these days or gathering dust at your local library.

Oh, yeah, libraries. I forgot that one. I seriously did. Unless you live in Oregon you probably have never had your libraries shut down. We had ours shut down for the better part of a year due to lack of funds. That was a year where many peopleincluding me – broke their library habit. This is a shame and I will get back to it, I promise. Hey, I am retired now. Maybe I will volunteer.

Okay, I know I was reviewing a book and got sidelined, but I MUST say a few words about libraries. They are my lifelong friends. When I was a young girl, I could walk to our town library. (a small rural town in Idaho). I thanked God everyday that we did not live in the countryside because if we did I could NOT walk to the library (and I might have to feed pigs or something, too, but that is a whole different topic). From about the age of 8, just walking INTO a library produced rapture. My heart rate speeded up, seriously. Sometimes my hands and feet perspired. I probably had the same reaction a junkie has just before they plunge the injection needle or a sex addict walking into an Adult Video store. The sight of all of those books with stories in them – stories of people I would never meet or understand otherwise, of lands and cultures I would probably never see – times that I would never live in – ideas from outside my claustrophobic community. The library was my window to the world and being raised in a very restrictive religion among folks who prided themselves on uninformed faith based opinions, it represented the intellectual’s equivalent of holy sanctuary. I spent hours there just selecting the books I would read and invariably checked out as many as they allowed – and once as many as I could carry because I couldn’t make it home with the whole stack and my sister had to help me back to the library to return a few thick ones so I didn’t strain my back.

And, now to the book review. “The Forever War.” How did I find this book? Most book stores have a Staff Picks shelf. I actually find these fairly reliable. I have good luck with the recommendations and many of them I see on the shelf are ones that I have already read and enjoyed very much so the credibility is again bolstered. I hadn’t read The Forever War because it is science fiction and I don’t get around to reading many of these. Also the title is somewhat dated now. Forever War made me remember the great science fiction that I HAVE read and prompted me to start adding some of these titles back into my reading time.

Joe Haldeman wrote this book in 1974. He is a Vietnam War veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart. He also has a huge knowledge of physics and currently is a tenured professor at MIT, but teaches writing, not science. He has written many books since this one and all have critical acclaim. People who read science fiction are probably rolling their eyes right now and pronouncing me the village idiot because I only just now discovered him But, hey, I did. And, there may be other wandering idiots who could use a tip.

The book is said to be an allegory of the Vietnam War. Okay, if they say so. Honestly, I didn’t get that. It is just a great book about lots of things, human nature being central. Human sexuality also goes center stage and Haldeman’s beliefs about sexual orientation are surprisingly forward thinking for a book this old. And, the nature of war, of course, and the soldier’s place as pawn in a game plan written almost entirely without his welfare in mind.

The book is written in the first person,  the narrator’s inner dialogue supplying all we know about the complicated world (even to him) we are traversing.   You like him immensely and  want to jump into the book and make sure he gets out okay. But, the militarized world described in the novel is so treacherous, so high‐wire and rigged, that the reader is just forced to hold her breath and watch Private Mandella give it his best shot. Because of the nature of space travel, Mandella’s life spans centuries although he ages naturally. We meet him at 20 and say goodbye at 40 something , but hundreds (thousands?) of years pass while he is in the military service. The world changes and changes again and then becomes unrecognizable and Haldeman makes it all sound not only plausible, but almost inevitable. The book was frightening in that respect. I suppose much of science fiction answers the question: What will become of us?

Forever War finds a commonality today, I think, with us oldies. I am 61 and trying to decipher technology that changes every week. I no sooner feel competent than the game changes and young people lead the way in an incomprehensible labyrinth of electronic gibberish. The only thing stable is the inherent instability of trusting anything to remain the same. Private Mandella would arrive back on earth hoping to find a job only to learn that people no longer worked. Everybody not fighting a war was just pensioned out. He would arrive again to find that nobody lived on earth at all, the atmosphere too compromised. He would join a new regiment in space and learn that – since he had traveled 600 years from his last assignment – everyone was now either a well adjusted homosexual or a pervert. Mandella also falls victim to the same trick most of us have suffered during our lives. We get promoted based solely on survival. We can never quite figure out how we end up in charge and the yoke of power is not what we expected. We regret every evil wish we have ever cast upon former bosses. We see things from new eyes. At the end of the book (spoiler) Mandella broadcasts to his troops “This is Major Mandella” and then asks himself why that always sounds to him like a bad joke. I am new at this reviewing business and don’t want to ruin it for anybody. Just saying that the book cost me next to nothing on my ipad. It was a surprise to me that I liked it so much. It got me back into science fiction as a genre. It represents excellence. The author is a brilliant, sardonic, scientific minded man who can also spin a good yarn. I will read more from him. 

I read TONS these days.  More later on other titles I loved.   Maybe a mention of books I just finished without loving so much and even others I bought and then couldn’t get through it.

On My Tombstone, please carve  TELL ME A STORY

Kaye Debra Proctor,

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

This time, it’s different.

December 20, 2012 3 comments

The shooting of twenty innocent children in Connecticut has caused me to rethink my position on gun control.  I hope that it causes others like me to do the same.  The rights of small children to attend school without being gunned down outweigh anyone else’s right to own any firearm they want.  The NRA will paint this an attack on individual liberties.  That’s a bullshit argument.  There’s a very big difference between regulating access to particular firearms and banning all of them outright.  This is about individual rights versus responsibility to community.  This time, the community wins.

This time, it’s different.

When a shooter entered a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado, and gunned down adults, I thought, “Well, if someone had been armed, they could have defended themselves and others.”   A short time later, when a shooter entered a crowded shopping mall in Portland, Oregon and gunned down Christmas shoppers I thought, “If someone with a concealed weapons permit had been there, they could have defended themselves and others.”  Then, about ten days after that a crazy person walked in to an elementary school and shot and killed twenty small children and six adults.  Again, I thought, “If one of those adults had been armed…”

And that’s when I realized just how completely crazy my thinking had become.

Kindergarten teachers should not have to go to work armed to the teeth.  We should not be living a society where we must surround our schools with armed guards.  I don’t want my children or grandchildren attending any school that operates like a maximum-security prison.

This time, it’s different.

The weapons used by these killers were modular, assault rifles developed for use by the military, not hunters.  The only difference between what the military uses and what these madmen carried is the ability to operate at full automatic.  Nevertheless, they are capable of spraying bullets as fast as one can repeatedly pull the trigger.

I spent 21 years in the military.  I am more than familiar with these weapons.  They have high clip capacities in order to allow for the most death and destruction with the least amount of effort.  They are not very effective at long-range accuracy; their barrels are too short for that.  They are designed to hunt human beings in the dense jungle or an urban environment – close-quarter fighting.

As I have stated in a previous post, I am a gun owner.  I like guns.  I sell guns.  But I have no legitimate reason to own a modular AR and neither does anyone else in the private sector.  I can’t carry it concealed.  I don’t need it for the defense of my home and hearth.  I have plenty of other guns that are more than capable of that.  I don’t need it for hunting.  If I can’t take an animal down range with one shot, I shouldn’t be pulling the trigger in the first place.

These guns were marketed to the private sector for one reason: they have macho appeal.  They may be fun to shoot, but the rights of little children outweigh anyone else’s right to a good time.

There are some who will argue that the Second Amendment affords them the right to own these weapons.  I disagree.  If the right to “keep and bear arms” includes, by definition, weapons that can be carried and used by one person, then by that logic we must also include fully automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missile launchers.  I cannot, in good conscience make that argument.  Some limitations must be made for the common good.

This time, it’s different.

Some have made the ridiculous argument that these atrocities would not happen if we would all just get down on our knees and prostrate ourselves to god.  That argument is so completely stupid it doesn’t even warrant a response.  Magical thinking will not solve our problems.

Some have argued that we should arm teachers and school staff.  That, too, is utterly ludicrous.  The people who committed these crimes were well armed.  They were fearless.  They were ready for death.  Only SEALs and SWAT teams are prepared such an adversary.  Effectively fighting an opponent such as that requires dedicated, daily training and readiness, not a weekend seminar.  Even seasoned police officers fire a number of shots that miss when they are faced with a gunman.  Arming teachers would only get more people killed and cause massive confusion among the police officers once they respond to the scene.

Some (myself, included) have argued that we must place more attention on our identification and treatment of the mentally ill.  And while this is true, it presents even more challenges than our other options.  People who are mentally ill don’t see themselves as mentally ill.  As far as they are concerned, you are the one the problem, not them.  Getting them in to treatment is next to impossible unless they agree to it.  You cannot simply label someone mentally ill and start shoving pills down their throat.  They have to want the treatment.  Only after they have done something wrong or dangerous can you effectively force treatment upon them.  By then, the damage is done.  By then, they’ve already sprayed bullets into a crowded restaurant.

The only sensible solution at this point is to limit access to these weapons.  Hunters can have their bolt-action rifles and revolvers.  Competitive shooters can still have their semi-automatic 9mms and .45s.  Homeowners can have their 18.5-inch shotguns.

But nobody needs an AR-15.

Time for a New Conversation

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s time we had a rational, sensible, adult conversation about gun violence in America, just like it was time we had a rational, sensible, adult conversation about drunk driving.  I like guns.  I own guns.  I use guns.  Hell, I sell guns (and other sporting goods) for a living.  But I don’t walk into a crowded classroom and gun down innocent children just like I don’t drive drunk or punch another person in the face (as much as I would like to sometimes) just because I disagree with them.

We glorify guns in our culture.   We shouldn’t.  We glorify violence in our culture.  We shouldn’t.  We preach the virtues of gunpoint diplomacy and the evils of sex.  We tolerate hundreds of images of violence against others (particularly women) on television but become apoplectic over images of physical pleasure between consenting adults.  Don’t think that doesn’t have an impact on the developing brain.  Neural pathways are formed by observation of the familiar and routine and are designed to produce consistent outcomes according to those established rules of order and algorithms.  We are what we experience and observe on a regular basis – what is acceptable and what is not, what works and what does not, which thoughts and actions produce results and which ones do not.  It’s time to start changing that development model.

Brave, rational thinking is the only way out of chaos.  Keeping a gun in your closet and Jesus in your heart will not save you from the madman.  Faith and hope are nothing more than excuses for inaction and cowardice.

We need to make an honest and productive assessment of our cultural priorities.  It’s time to start allocating resources toward illegal gun trafficking and the untreated mentally ill and less time on busting pot smokers who built the pizza delivery industry.

We need a national healthcare system that makes it easy and inexpensive for people with mental illness to get the treatment they need before they go off the deep end.  Arming kindergarten teachers with 9mm automatics won’t change the equation.  The madman will still come – and he will be fearless and ready for death.  Only a team of SEALs are prepared for that kind of enemy.

We have a problem that goes far deeper than guns.  We need to examine our relationship with confrontation and violence.

One Woman’s Right to Vote

October 19, 2012 3 comments

One Woman’s Right to Vote

I was 21 before I could vote and this luckily coincided with a Presidential Election! It was Nixon’s second term. His challenger, a principled, soft-spoken man named George McGovern, seemed like a savior to me. He would deliver us from the unpopular Vietnam War. Although few Americans were in favor of the conflict, it was viewed more as a messy liability to conservatives that must result in victory lest America lose face in the world. To liberals, it was a moral abomination that should end immediately even with our heads bowed in supplication. At 21, I was newly split from my family’s life long fealty to the Republican Party and was convinced that George McGovern should and would win the election.

Well, I was living in San Francisco at the time. We were all convinced that George McGovern could win.

I don’t remember how much information I actually had then about McGovern’s chances. I did read newspapers and watch television and I am sure the polls told us something about how well he was doing, but I was very young. What did polls matter when moral certitude was on your side?

Two weeks or so before the election, I walked over to a little office downtown run by the League of Women Voters. Their ads said they had pamphlets and literature that explained issues and offered helpful advice about how one might vote. They did offer their own opinion up, but they also tried to explain both sides. I took all the pamphlets they had. I remember they even charged a small fee for one particularly thick one and I paid it. I was desperate to be an informed citizen. Yes, really.

Looking back on that young woman, my former self, I like her. She was earnest, honest, hopeful and a believer in the democratic process. (She breaks my heart a bit now, as she has changed a lot.)

The day of voting, I was elated. I would be a voter today! I would help decide the fate of our great nation. I was discontented at work and wanted to get out early to go vote, but I did not get lucky. The secretarial grind went on until the clock was straight up 5 o’clock. I was already starting to lose the light, when I set out to my designated polling station.

The address I was given took me to an old hotel in the “tenderloin” section of San Francisco. It was once respectable, but now the home of vagrants, alcoholics, down at heel humans to state it kindly. I checked the address twice, not quite believing I was meant to vote in this establishment. Having taken the 10 city blocks at a brisk clip, I was panting and regretted not sufficiently catching my wind before entering. I needed speed, though. God forbid I would miss my chance to give George my vote!

The lobby was furnished with old chairs, mostly overstuffed and all in disrepair or ragged and filthy. The chairs themselves seemed elegant next to the residents they contained. The permanent renters had descended from whatever hell they inhabited upstairs to watch the voters file in. Entertainment had never been so good at The Uptown Hotel. I glanced over at the wrinkled faces, toothless smiles and hairy visages and then looked away in a concealed wince. Jesus.

There were three people sitting at a table officially labeled “Voters Check In Here.” Thank God! They looked like stable, employed adults. The sole woman of the group asked my name and I felt vulnerable saying it in this place, but offered it up politely – Kaye D. Elder. They verified my address and smartly matched me up on their voter rolls. I was actually impressed that they found me. I would not have been surprised if they said they lost the E’s and I would have to just wait four years.

One of the men, identifiied by a safety pin badge saying Proctor, rose importantly up from his folding chair and said, “Come this way.” He lead me over to one of the four voting booths. All of them were empty, I noticed. I had absolutely no experience with voting booths. He nudged me inside this ridiculous little curtained container and I was faced with a machine that seemed comprised of switches. He affixed a form to the top of it, adjusted it down over pegs until it was alligned, and I could see that a switch corresponded with each vote.

He said, “Just pull the lever after you vote.” The lever was a big handle on the side. Oh my! I could not have been more nervous to fly a jet plane. I unfolded my spiral notebook sheets from my purse. On each issue I had written down my votes in advance so that I could just efficiently proceed and would not hold up anyone or cause another citizen inconvenience or unnecessary wait time. (Oh, Lord, I was SO earnest.) The first measure was not one that I cared much about, but I flipped the switch to correspond with Yes and pulled the big lever to lock in my vote. Well, I thought! One down.

Footsteps sounded outside my private voting sanctuary. Then, without warning, the curtain opened. It was the man who escorted me in. “All done then,” he said? “ I will take your ballot to store.”

I was aghast. I blurted, “No. I just started.”

Now, he was off balance. “You pulled the lever. You have locked in your votes.”

“But, I haven’t even voted for the President yet.”

A voice sounded from the gallery in the lobby. It was more of a croak. A woman said, “Don’t matter! Nixon already won anyway. Didn’t you hear? It is all over. You didn’t need to even come in.” The force of her proclamation caused her to cough and hack and then blow her nose loudly. The room broke into murmurs of protest (“Mimi, you are not supposed to talk!” and “Leave Mimi alone. She is just telling the girl the truth.”)

Everyone was staring at me – the sole late voter – now exposed for public ridicule, showcased in the curtain of my PRIVATE voting booth. I was mortified.

The man read my expression and offered, “You are supposed to wait until you are finished voting to pull the lever. Now I have to go and record an error and start all over. Do you want to wait?”

I should have just picked up my purse that I had placed on the chair and run out to the safety of the night. But, no! I was a voter. I knew all the issues and I was prepared and it was my right to vote as a citizen of the United States of America! I said, “I would like to finish voting if I could. I am sorry.”

He huffed a bit, but performed his “extra task” without too much strain that I could see. He came back, affixed another form to the machine and yanked the curtain closed. My back was swimming with sweat now. I had not only disgraced myself, but my candidate – the wonderful and charming and completely CORRECT PERSON for the job of President had already lost. Tears streamed down my face and I was very grateful for the privacy – at last – of the booth. I concentrated as much as I could, worked through all the measures, the minor public servants, the major public servants, the statement that I was who I said I was and then – finally – I flipped the switch beside George’s name. What the hell did old crone know anyway:? She is probably drunk or high or something. George did NOT lose. Nixon was a creep and a coward and a liar. Our country would NOT put him back in office. I wiped my tears, blew my nose on a tissue and pulled the fucking lever – this time for real.

I timidly opened the curtain and stepped out, pretending not to notice the bemused audience and the slightly pouty faces of the three volunteer proctors who now had TO DO EXTRA WORK. I said, “Hey thanks! I am really sorry.”

Old Mimi could not let the moment pass. “She don’t believe me,” she stage whispered to the room, “He already lost!”

I walked home with a slow pace, the sidewalk harder than concrete beneath my disillusioned feet. I walked past a department store that had televisions set up for people to view the results. I stopped and peered in the window. It took no more than a minute or two to see the caption scroll across the screen. “With East Coast and Midwest counted, Nixon proclaimed winner.” In those days, there was no rule that results could not be publicly broadcast before all the polls closed. Many Californians, indeed, did not bother to vote because old Mimi was right. All hope was lost. I wonder now just how badly McGovern needed to lose if the entire Pacific Northwest and probably most of the Mountain time people had not been discouraged from voting already.

You would think that after such a rocky start, I would have been reluctant to vote again. You would be wrong. I vote in every election, every time. I vote in the “big one” and I vote in the middle one. And, I try to weigh in on special ballots, too. I still believe, improbably enough, that my vote matters. I study issues and I talk about issues. I participate in internet chat groups now, but it was more informal processes before. I am the person who violates the rule that you should not talk politics at work (everybody violates that rule.) They say that politics and religion lead to arguments. They are right about that. So what? I also argue about religion.

Why am I so dogged and determined? Remember history.

When Nixon won that election, I was so sad. How could I have known, as I wept in that lonely voting booth, that Nixon would fly off in a helicopter during the second year of that term, forced out of office by public scorn. I remember that moment so well. He literally ran out to the helicopter, saluted us all watching his flight, and left the job that I did NOT endorse him for in the first place. American majority was dead WRONG. I was so glad to see his ass out of the White House and I thought, “I knew it! I knew it! I was right.”

And, so even though my guy sometimes loses the election, I never lose hope. There is a helicopter waiting for every President who disgraces himself and you just never know who it will land for, who will run out to its sheltering protection, and fly off to San Clemente until he dies. You just never know.

George McGovern was the right man for the job. You hear me, Mimi?

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Blog Hack!

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, believe it or not, some asshole hacked this blog and posted some nonsense about making money at home.  So, to all of our subscribers, my apologies for the bullshit.  We don’t post often but when we do, we strive to make it something worth reading or looking at.

 

Sincerely,

Mitch

Men’s Room Etiquette – a Refresher Course for Neanderthals.

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Some guys just don’t know when to keep their mouths shut.  So for those of you who didn’t get the memo, here it is:

DO NOT START A CONVERSATION WITH A COMPLETE STRANGER IN THE MEN’S ROOM.

PERIOD.

NO EXCEPTIONS.

No exceptions means no banal pleasantries like “So, how’s your day goin’?”  Here’s a clue: my day was going just fine until you took an interest in me as soon as I pulled my dick out.  No exceptions mean no stupid, sophomoric jokes such as, “How’s it hangin?” or, “So, is this where all the pricks hang out?”  Ask me that, and I’ll pee on your leg.

There is an un-written, un-spoken code of conduct that, apparently, some guys are unaware of or blatantly ignore: you don’t chitchat in the men’s room.  You go in, you drain your radiator, you wash your hands (please, for the love of all that is holy, wash your freakin’ hands) and you leave.

Quietly.

No eye contact.  No chattering.  No exchanges.  Strictly business.  You keep your eyes, your hands, and your thoughts to yourself.

Speaking for all men everywhere, I say this: I am only pulling my wanker out in this semi-public place because it’s socially unacceptable to pee myself, so don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, don’t acknowledge my presence.  I do not exist to you.

So here’s the bottom line for all you Chatty Charlies out there; if I have my dick in my hand, I want some privacy.

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