Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How to Build an Office Building

I've been walking my dogs by a construction site and have watched with great interest as they build a suite of offices.  Here's how it's done.

The early parts seem like the hardest.  They take for fucking ever and involve digging trenches, piling up dirt, digging up more trenches, filling in the ones you already dug because they're in the wrong place, and marking them with pink-beribboned stakes.  This goes on for many months and during this period there is hardly anybody there.  Dogs enjoy this part of the process because they like to run in the trenches.  The problem starts when you remember, "oh, no!  Valley fever, construction sites, 18 inches!"  and the next time your dog gets a cough (because he ate part of your library book and unbeknownst to you, has bits of cardboard stuck in the back of his throat), you rush him to the vet and spend 300 dollars on completely unnessary tests.

Then, it get interesting, comparatively.  A bunch of rough looking guys with big bellies and no asses, start measuring stuff and eventually nailing it together with 2 by 4's and 4 by 6's, and all those other pieces of wood construction guys like to holler about to prove they learned some of their numbers in elementary school.  This is the point where they bring in the portable chainlink fences, ducts, pipes, etc.  It gets a lot noisier at this juncture and there's one guy, but only one and he's just that kind of person, who gets a little miffed when one of your dogs lifts his leg on a piece of pipe.  This is not so much to do with the pipe, but the fact that said dog has breached the fenceline thereby pointing out its inadequacy.  After this they put down cement slabs, which takes a long time and at some point calls for a jackhammer.  The guy who made the mistake in the first place either gets fired or has to do the jackhammering, which appears every bit as unpleasant as its representation in Yosemite Sam cartoons.

It's only a matter of time before the skateboarders show up.  These young ruffians give you dirty looks when you go by until you remind them that you don't really give a fuck, and by the way there's a bigger hole in the fencing just 10 yards down.  After that they mostly ignore you, but occasionally smile as they stack every piece of wood and broken block they can get hold of to build ramps, banks, and obstacles. The skateboarders have a great time, especially because the construction workers, having taken several days off and imagining their concrete safe, sound and setting up nicely, have completely forgotten the big holes they neglected to fix, along with the fact that said holes can be squeezed through by any skateboarder worth his salt no matter how many "no trespassing" signs they put up.

Now it gets interesting.  After the construction workers repair the cement and sweep up the ball bearings they've strewn about to foil the skateboarders, the walls go up.  Any reasonable person might think that "walls" have something to do with wood or brick, and they do with the former, sort of.  The boards they nail up are made of particle board composed of random sized bits of wood glued together with something.  What the "something" is, is anybodies' guess, but I have a feeling it's probably some nasty shit that in the future will give a high percentage of the unfortunate future office-dwellers, cancer and a multitude of exotic undiagnosable neurological diseases, but by then this construction company will have long dissolved, its workers dropped off at various tent cities, and anyway you haven't got a case; the stuff was perfectly legal at the time.  And if the particle board doesn't get them the next part of the construction surely will.  Because now comes the styrofoam.  Big sheets of the shit, no denser that the stuff the last coffee grinder you bought was packed in.  This part promps the friendliest of the builders to remark, "it's a good thing they don't have tornados in this part of the country."  The styrofoam is covered in chicken wire and that's plastered.  So are some of the builders at the end of the day having pounded several six packs all the while assuring themselves that at least they've got it better than the old man, and don't have mesothelioma from continually breathing asbestos back in the day.

That's as far as they've gotten at this point.  My neighbor complains bitterly about the constant sound of pounded nails.  The skateboarders are long gone.  There's a plastic plaque outside one of the structures.  It says, "Future Office of Doctor Pratt."

Monday, December 12, 2016

Trump and China

I'm trying to figure out a strategy for psychological survival.  I'd like to go cold turkey on social media, but don't know if I can.  I am addicted.  Not to the phone, in fact I often shun my smart phone-- it's so damn intrusive-- but this laptop is pretty much my portal to the outside world.

Today, after going to the gym, where a bunch of old ladies were being taught by another old lady to have better posture, then going and doing the elliptical until I got tired or my right leg fell asleep, whichever came first, I came back home, ate lunch outside, then read a book for awhile.  Bruce Springsteen's biography.  I never realized he used to be a surfer.  I never knew they had surfers in New Jersey.

But as predictably as day follows night, when I come back inside, I not only look on Facebook but check the news headlines.  This Trump nightmare is still here.  Every day he does something that makes me feel less safe, and every day I have to battle falling into despair.  Since the election it hasn't been easy. I no longer wake up wondering what the day is going to bring.  I wake up wondering how many days we have left if this lunacy continues.  The latest lunacy is offering Carly Fiorina the job of Intelligence Director.  Carly Fiorina is an incompetent dumbass who bankrupted Hewlitt-Packard, but that's not the real problem.  They problem is she and Trump agreed that "China is our adversary." Last time I checked, China wasn't our adversary.  I hasn't been since Tricky Dick went over there and made nice nice in 1972.  Part of that making nice nice was agreeing that China is the boss, we go through them, and don't have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Donald Trump wants to build hotels in Taiwan, has been in negotiations for months, maybe years. Part of that process is schmoozing Taiwanese politicians.  However, as president he's not allowed to do that.  He has to go through Beijing.

China is not happy with Donald Trump and by extension, Americans.  There's some proverb about not awakening sleeping dragons.  Not that China has been sleeping, but the message is the same. Don't fuck with China.  Today, American newspapers are reporting that a week before Trump's call with the president of Taiwan, China flew a nuclear-bomber outside its borders. According to the pentagon, this act was designed specifically to warn Trump off.  He didn't notice it, but then it was probably in one of 5 out of 6 weekly intelligence briefings he missed.

Now I know, I know, all my laid back hippie friends chastise me for my information intake; and I too, understand that if I just unplugged and went about my business in the real world, feet on the earth, face in the sunshine, that I'd probably be happier.  But as I get older, I find this more difficult to do. When I was in my twenties, full of plans, not to mention piss and vinegar, Washington D.C., the federal government, world relations, they all seemed very far away and quite frankly, nothing to do with me.  But with observations over time I've come to understand exactly how profoundly and severly decisions made by ideological, or just plain stupid old white men, affect me, the people I love, and even the dopes walking around that I don't.

So with China raising the hair on its back, saying in its official paper just this morning that Trump is as ignorant as a child (he is.), I just don't feel as care free with my feet on the earth or my face in the sun, as I did just a month or two ago.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Some Things Change. Most Don't.

So this morning I'm doing what I do, checking the news headlines and drinking coffee.  The first part of this ritual is probably ver bad for my health.  The Guardian, which I like a lot, is sporting an ad for something called "The Barefoot Writer."  With extreme trepidation, I click on the link.

I sit through an audio pitch from a woman sitting on a beach.  She used to have 120k worth of debt and an office job that was so bad she didn't have time to stop and have children. Now, since finding The Barefoot Writer she gets fancy pedicures and goes on vacation all the time.

Listening to this, I am instantly thrust back through the years to "The Amway Horror."

Amway was one of the original and biggest pyramid schemes of all time.  I discovered it while working a job in the early 80's.  I had two bosses, a good one and a creepy one.  The good one was always touting particular soap products, but not in an overly heavy way.  Just whenever some soap-requiring problem happened, whether it was motor oil or chocolate on somebodies clothing, he'd grab some stuff, pronounce its name several times and after touting its wonderful properties, slop it on the stain.  Even when it didn't work, which seemed like most of the time, he'd praise its stainpower removing prowess.  Being an underling, I always held back from saying things like "but the stain's still there!"  Instead agreeing enthusiastically and changing the subject.

I was only 19 or 20 and really looking for a promotion.  I'd been working there a couple of years and even though I was doing my best to show what a go-getter I was, working overtime, pitching in on projects I wasn't responsible for just to show the old team spirit, bla bla bla, I got passed over again and again. Always, oddly enough, by whatever female my other, creepy boss, happened to be sleeping with.  This was a long time ago and nobody every talked about that sort of thing back then.

But I digress, as I am wont to do these days.  Younger, cockier writers point their fingers and make fun of people like me.  They never digress.  But do you know why?  They don't have anyplace to digress to.  When you're older, every boulevard leads to endless streets crisscrossed by multiple avenues and alleys with twists and turns, filth and cast-offs, empty wine bottles and the occasional dead body.  Do any of you whippersnappers know how much monumental effort it takes under such circumstances, not to digress?  The shut up.

Okay, back to it.  One day I'm sitting in a kennel.  I've just finished feeding a bunch of elephant seal pups, which is a really hard job because elephant seals are as dumb as mud and if you don't stick a fish in their mouths at the right time they'll bite you.  I get up to leave and as I'm closing the gate behind me, my creepy boss comes along and says, "Catherine, there's something I want to talk to you about."  My heart fills with joy and so much anticipation I can hardly stand it.  Finally, I'm going to get that promotion.  I'll be in the union, full health benefits, making 11 dollars an hour (good money back then).  I might even be able to buy a new car, one that has a reverse gear (my 1968 Saab did not).  Life will be beautiful and all my problems will be solved!  "I know your pay isn't much and it's probably hard sometimes..." Oh boy, oh boy here it comes.  When do I start?  Do I get new shirts, wellington boots?  My picture on the union card?

 "My girlfriend and I have gotten involved with something that is really amazing and we are raking in the cash.  This product is so good it practically sells itself.  Have you ever heard of Amway?

I felt like 9 bowling pins all knocked over at the same time.

Not that The Barefoot Writer works exactly like Amway.  Amway was the classic pyramid scheme where the people at the top make money from getting others to sell the shit.  The Barefoot Writer sucks the last bit of marrow out of desperate writers' bones by selling them interminable classes so that when they finally and ultimately fail, which statistically 99% of them do, it must be their fault for not utilizing the information sold to them via podcasts and seminars, correctly.

Well, it's time to get going.  This is only a blog so I don't have to come up with any unifying or profound conclusion.  I just have to get out of my jammies, probably call my mother, then go to the pool and swim off the ennui just caused by reminding myself of that story.  I was real skinny back then, and my faded brown work pants covered with herring scales.  The sun by the seaside is gentle, the air cool.  Funny the things you remember.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why I Mostly Like Facebook

It's very trendy, especially amongst the youngsters, to desdain Facebook.  I get it.  Just like anything else it's bad if you overindulge in it.  Back in the day, we got addicted to normal things like cocaine, heroin, PCP, alcohol and sex.  Nowadays, kids get addicted to electronic devices and get so strung out they can't stop looking at them even if it means forsaking important things, like learning math or how to read.  Sometimes, they can't put social media down when their very lives depend on it.  The other day I made a perfectly legal and safe left turn and some I-phone entranced chicky stepped right off the curb against the light.  I nearly killed her.

Some people might argue that, well, "it's better than being addicted to heroin."  Is it really?  If that girl had been on herion I don't think she would have stepped off the curb in front of anyone's car, let alone mine.  I don't think she would have stepped anywhere except perhaps in the pool of her own vomit when she finally came off the nod.

The point is-- God, it's so unprofessional and tacky when a writer has to say "the point is," having been so caught up in her own clever narrative she forgot what she was talking about-- that just because overuse of social media is most certainly soul-destroying and as destructive as any other addiction, casual use fills some needs that don't otherwise get filled these days.

Gone are tight communities in which we're nurtured by regular and habitual social contacts.  In a way, this is good-- no one gossiping about the number of empty wine bottles in your garbage can every week, except in my case in which it can hardly be missed-- or about how shabby and greying the underpants hanging on your clothesline are.  But in another way it is very bad.  Humans, like all primates are extremely social creatures whether they like to admit it or not, and we need affirmation that we're not all alone.

I don't imaging this affirmation is hard to come by if you're Jane or Joe Regular.  If your sense of wonder is limited to where you last left your cigarettes, what time Fox News comes on TV, or whose going to play in the Superbowl, There are probably millions of like-mindeds you can hob nob with each and every day, feeling entirely socially and spiritually fulfilled.  But if you're not this kind of person, it's easy to feel a little marginalized in this world.

With Facebook, I occasionally have conversations with people who think in ways similar to mine.  Sometimes, rarely, but with a few individuals, I can have intelligent conversations. Yeah, yeah, the "echo chamber" thing is there.  But I'm 59 years old now and while there was a time in my twenties, maybe even into my thirties that I genuinely entertained conversations with people who think trickle down economics is a good idea, that Ayn Rand was a good writer, or that if I don't accept Jesus as my own personal saviour then I'm going to burn in Hell forever, I don't anymore.  Most of my friends are kind, loving, somewhat thoughtful people with values if not exactly like mine, similar.  I've arranged my cyber world in the same way I've arranged my regular world, only with fewer dogs.  The friends I have on Facebook are mostly like the friends I have or would in real life.  It's just that time and distance precludes us from seeing each other as often as we'd like to.

Some people have zillions of Facebook friends.  But if you let that many people into your world for the sake of accruing numbers, then ultimately you're faced with two choices.  You either never say anything of substance or consequence, in which case you're down to posting pictures of your meals and kittens,or you wind up with a bunch of bothersome weirdos you'll eventually have to "unfriend." The whole "I hate Facebook" thing, while legitimately earned-- people in cyberspace can become way more creepy than they can in real life-- comes from relying on it too much.

And then stepping in a pool of your own vomit when you finally get off the couch.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Frankenstein's Monster or How we Monetized Ourselves into the Shitcan

A few years ago I went back to college to get my MA.  One of the classes I had to take was called "Monetization and the New Media." One of the first questions one of the teachers asked was, "Who wants to start their own business?"  Three out of 17 students raised their hands.  These were liberal arts majors trying to figure out how to get paid for the arts they already knew, or budding journalists looking for a paycheck.  Everybody knew that traditional journalism was, if not totally dead, coughing up blood like mad. One day we took a field trip to the L.A. Times newsroom and it was like a mausoleum.  Bats flying out of it, cobwebs everywhere.  No, seriously, there was nobody in there, just a bunch of deserted desks, devoid of personal items, no reporters, no collegial banter between hotshots chasing down big stories.  There were a couple of computer screens lit up to monitor stuff going on in cyberspace but that was it.

In the Monetization class the teacher wanted us all to become entrepreneurs, to learn to market our own stuff.  Smart lad that he was, he was going gangbusters.  One of his favorite approaches was getting off the freeway at accident sites then walking back up the offramp in hope of the big scoop. Mostly he got yelled at for crossing the police lines, but I guess once in a while he sold some video.

But that was years ago, like 2014, and things have changed a lot since then.  Liberal Arts students take the monetization shit to heart now and as the recent presidential election has shown us, they ain't fucking around.  Some bright monetizer finally figured out that the echo chambers of the Internet were just dying to be filled.

Until recently, like most people probably, I didn't realize what echo chambers sites like Facebook actually are.  People interact with like-minded people, reading and commenting on stuff they like and ignoring stuff they don't.  It's easy.  You just stop following someone who annoys your or if they really make you mad you can bring out the big guns and "unfriend" them.  I hardly ever unfriend anyone because I don't want to hurt feelings, but this election cycle I finally had to offload a guy. I knew him a million years ago and we became FB friends a few years back.  He kept posting things about how Hillary should be in jail, investigated by a grand jury, or tried and shot at dawn.  Finally I couldn't take it anymore.  Oh, I made perfunctory attempts, like asking why all this horrible shit should happen to Madam Secretary  But he told me I was naive, that he thought I was smarter than that, bla, bla, bla.  Unfriend.  Bam!

I'm fairly careful about the news I take in.  I realized long ago that  you have to triangulate the truth, which means going to different outlets and reading different takes on events.  I go to the Guardian, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, which okay, is highly skewed but anyway it's not a real paper, just a news aggragator and I like the baby animal videos.  I like The Washington Post. Sometimes I read The Daily Beast and even check out Buzzfeed.  There are journalists I respect and some not so much, but if somebody's making an honest effort to get at the truth I'll read what they have to say.

But what that plucky monetizing, no-paycheck-anywhere-on-the-horizon journalism graduate student figured out was that what all those crapped out, haggard, grey-haired, overweight, alcoholic journalism professors had told them on the QT was Wrong!  There was still plenty of money to be made in journalism.  All you have to do is make a bunch of shit up.

On NPR I heard about a guy just the other day.  I was stuck in a traffic jam going either into or out of L.A., I can't remember which.  This guy lives in Santa Monica, makes 30K a week and has 24 writers working for him.  What those writers produce is 100% bullshit, which is funneled onto the Facebook pages of people inclined to believe pretty much anything that reinforces the beliefs they already have.  Of course I didn't know what my ex-Facebook friend was talking about when he said Hillary should be in prison.  How was I to know she murdered an FBI agent, chopped up his body, then destroyed it with acid in a bathtub.   It wasn't in any of the newsfeeds I read.  But it was in "The Real Story" and "Atrocitities of Democrats Run Amok" and "Why the Left Wants to Cut up Your Babies." And it was there because it was manufactured for money.

It makes sense, in a uniquely American way.  We don't make much actual stuff in this country, I mean besides hamburgers and cheezy crust pizzas and giant sized lattes with 4500 calories each.  So this latest generation of entrepreneurs figured out that they could make a lot of money simply by making up the news.

It's really dangerous to teach young people things.  They're likely to go out and not just do them, but improve on the original idea.

Or how about Marco Chacon?  I read about him this morning in The Daily Beast.  At first he comes off all ironic-like, one of these to-clever-by-halfs millennial wankers who want to see how many undereducated rubes they can fool.  So he'd write fake news stories, create fake hash tags like #NeverEverHillary, the stuff would get passed around the echo chambers of social media, and all the sudden the guy's a success, probably for the first time since he first pooed in his little yellow potty chair.  Not only did people believe his fake news stories, they passed them around and his statistics started going through the roof.  He wrote stories about The Deep State, and Hillary Clinton not just fainting, but being terminally ill.  Like-minded Facebook users passed  this garbage around and believed it to to be true.

And voila.  We got Donald Trump for president.

I'm kind of torn in my feelings about this brave new world.  On the one hand, these guys just created products, sold 'em, and made loads of dough.  It's capitalism at it's best, right?  They correctly understood cyberspaces that needed filling and transformed things really.  They innovated, thought "outside the box."  We live in a "post fact" world now, or so I'm told.  For many people, this is convenient.  Facts are bothersome, hard to remember and sometimes challenge long held beliefs.   But they do have a tendency to raise their ugly heads bye the bye.  May the Lord have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday Musings

The dogs are asleep on their living room bed, light on in the kitchen, I finally got two 65 watt bulbs into that fixture where before there were 2 one-hundreds and it was so bright it looked like the aftermath of a nuclear blast.  I've been for a walk; it's cold and crisp outside and as I sit down to write, for no reason other than it makes me feel better, I find it disturbing that I can't focus. This may be due to either having too much to say, all about unpleasant things like Trump and brutality and history along with the sad fact that we're all going to die someday and how dare the sun, when I get my comeuppance, go on shining without me.  Or it may be due to the anxiety pill I took earlier.  Truth be told, I was an anxious mess this morning and when I get that way I can't accomplish a damned thing.  I opened the washing machine threw in a couple of towels, then went to brush my teeth, but remembered the bill that's due today and the fact that I haven't spoken to one of my kids for 4 months even though he's only 5 miles away, and that my coffee's going cold.  Then I stick the coffee into the microwave only to discover a half hour later that I am out of laundry soap.  I run my tongue across my teeth realizing that while I put the toothpaste on the brush, said brush never actually made it into my mouth because the microwave beeped.

So I decided to the gym to take a posture fitness class.

The posture fitness class is run by a woman affectionatly dubbed "the posture nazi."  She believes in her thing, like all people with such things believe in theirs.  According to the posture nazi, correct posture can cure whatever ailes you and bad posture is the root of all evil.  In class we flop our arms around, stand up straight, stand on tippy toes and get harangued about our pelvises, but it's all in the service of the greater good and maybe it will cure everything that ailes everybody. Something's got to, doesn't it?

After the posture fitness class I go and do some time on the elliptical machine.  There are a couple of old ladies next to me, and by old I mean 3 or 4 years older than me.  They are trying to figure out whether they should take Social Security before it is all gone-- even though they won't get as much as they will if they wait until they're 65-- and if they're going to make it to Medicare before Trump gets rid of it and replaces it with leaches and mass deportations onto ice floes.  Their conversation was pretty centered on how they were going to save themselves from all the trouble that's coming.  Not that they weren't decent ladies.  I imagine their logic was like that of passengers on an airplane in freefall.  Always put your own mask on first, then help others.

I've been wondering about what my own little plan might be.  On the plus side, I'm white, was born in the US, and am sort of middle class, although close to the bottom of it.  Chances are that unless I burn a flag or get a subscription to the New York Times, I won't get deported.  Not that deportation must be such a bad thing, but I've always had trouble with Spanish and at this point in my life my brain is calcified sufficiently that I don't think I'll ever really learn it to the degree that I'd need to to survive.  Hell, I can never remember whether derecho or derecha mean go straight ahead or turn right.  If I was stuck in a Spanish speaking country I'd probably just go in circles all the time until I dropped dead of exhaustion.  I can just imagine myself banished to a place like Equador and trying to communicate my dilemma let alone get my prescription for Retin A refilled.  No, I don't think I'd like being expatriated at all.

But the ladies at the gym's concerns not withstanding, what's the best case scenario if one does manage to insure one's own survival in these troubled times?  How can any of us avoid this bloated hot mess that is our incoming president.

Donald Trump really does think that as president, he can deport people who burn the American flag. Now of course he doesn't give a damn about the American flag, and in a pinch I'll bet he can't even tell you how many stripes it has, maybe not even the number of stars, but in his mind, he's the boss now and can do what he wants.  And it's not even this crying baby/man who scares me the most.  It's all the people he's surrounding himself with who see him for exactly what he is: a tool.  All you have to do to make Trump do what you want is flatter him, cheer him on, tell him daily he's not the fat old tiny mouthed short fingered vulgarian the rest of us see, but as studly dynamic and handsome as he ever was.  All he wants to be is worshipped, praised, said yes to.  That's it.

I thought thing were bad when Bush took over, knew he was going to use 911 as an excuse to savage the economy and line all his friends' pockets.  We're still reaping the wages of that.  But Donald Trump is something different.  While Bush's arrogance was substantial, and weilded against the interests of the American people with great force and consistancy, still, after all this time I can't quite characterize him as a "bad man."

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a very bad man surrounding himself with worse ones who are going to play him to the hilt with total disregard for the consequences and suffering of the rest of us. And he's too dumb, or just too fucking disinterested, to see it.  He may, in the end, go down as the biggest toady in history but he won't care.  He can't.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dystopian Clusterfuck

Trump won the election.  I don't know how and I don't know why.  I've heard various explanations, like the bowels of the earth opened up and spewed their contents into the crankcase of a busted 43 Oldsmobile owned by the Devil and maintained by Pep Boys, to the raging hoards of disaffected and unemployed white male population of the mid-United States suffering simultaneous attacks of Mad Cow Disease.  I tend to favor the latter theory since those types of people eat a lot of hamburger.  People have short memories nowadays, but there was a time when the very thought of grinding bovine spinal cords and brains into hamburger meat sent people running for the shitters all over the nation.  Now?  Ah, who cares?

It wasn't supposed to turn out this way.  In fact, on the night of the election results coming in I was at a potluck with some friends.  The guy with the big eyebrows brought margeritas, somebody made tamales, somebody else a salad.  I brought pasta and we were all geared up for a jolly good time.  But by 8 o'clock things weren't looking the way they should.  It should have been a landslide for Hillary.  What kind of moron would vote for a slimy psychopathic con man with a dead red squirrel on his head?  I went home and binge watched a few episodes of "The Walking Dead" on Netflix, downed a glass of wine with an Ativan chaser, then hoped and prayed the morning would bring something other than it did.  Hell, I didn't even make it to the real morning but awoke at 3 AM and just had to check. There it was "Donald Trump to be 45th president of the United States."  It's hard to describe what I felt.  It was similar to what I felt on 9/11, when I knew what we needed in the Whitehouse was an enlightened leader, only instead we had George W. Bush.  I felt like Chaos had been unleashed only it was so much worse that that sort of disorganization implies.  It felt as if all the worst impulses of the human animal had been shot up with meth and let out of the zoo.

Civilization is a thin veneer.  It dropped away like a pervert's piss-stained pants.

In other news, and because this is blogging and nobody gives 2 shits about continuity, I quit my job today.  I was working at a luxury resort where people pay enormous amounts of money to eat healthy food, do yoga, waggle giant fire hoses around in the gym (this is a real exercise), get their tarot cards read, receive psychic readings, find out why their bowels are acting up or their penises won't follow their commands. Menopausal women are very upset because they're no longer the fuck machines their rich husbands married and are panicked at the realization that it's only a matter of time before they're traded in for newer models.  I worked in, "Medical," which is just across the walkway from "Metaphysics," "Spiritual Consulting" and, ah, I think golf.  I worked at this resort for nearly 3 months-- close to a record for me-- and never saw a sick person.  Rich people would come in to get their blood drawn to find out how they were metabolizing their vitamins, or if they were allergic to cumin, or whether spandex caused them too much stress and was giving them a rash.  Since the ascendence of "Medicine for Profit" commercial labs have sprung up all over the place mostly pandering to these kinds of people.  These labs will test for anything and charge more for it than the GNP of many small African nations.  And rich people fork over the dough too.  My job was to draw blood and send it off to these labs.  The labs would send back long reports telling everybody to eat more kale and less fatty food.  Beware the Medical/Industrial/Kale complex.

Now really, saying I drew blood is kind of an exaggeration and in the end the reason I quit.  Oh, I'm good with a needle, no problem there but the management was never quite convinced I would be able to treat the rich people with the deferance and fealty they deserved.  You have to fawn a lot over the monied classes, and if one of them is convinced that having a tiny needle stuck into an arm vein is tantamount to open heart surgery, you have to treat them as if it is.  I suppose in the end, and when all was said and done, I just didn't have that in me.  Mostly I had, "grow up you fucking babys!" stacked up like planes over La Guardia on a Friday night.  Still, I thought I hid it pretty well.  But maybe not.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Road to Hell

Sometimes, you don't have anything to say for the simple reason that there is so much to say.  The Republican nominee for president is a raving mad man, Tucson is so wet this season that the flowering bermuda grass is trying to kill me.  My new dog, who had five years before he met me and was, during this time left almost entirely to his own limited devices, still lifts his leg occasionally on the living room furniture.  A little girl riding in my car a couple of days ago said, "it smells like Miss Catherine in here."  Since I got back from L.A., I haven't had time to do a thorough job of cleaning the dog barf out of my car.  I've never had a dog who got car sick before.  Miss Catherine smells like dog barf.

Back in the old days, I sometimes smelled like Chanel #5.  Now that I think about it, I think I prefer dog barf.

But getting the dog was all in pursuit of good intentions, the road to which is paved and potholed, oilslicked and fraught with hazards.  There's a crashed bicyclist, his arms where his legs ought to be, trying to save the environment.  If you look further up the road you can see a rich person volunteering, taking foster kids with crap lives to the zoo.  They don't really like the zoo.  They can't go in the exhibits to pull the animals' tails and if they did said animals would maul them to death. They're rather be home playing Barbies and Frozen.  The only reason they agreed to go to the stupid zoo in the first place was for the ice cream promised afterwards.  Big ice cream.  Really big ice cream eight feet tall.  They're only six and eight years old, but already muffin-topping from their church-donated shorts so vehemently they don't even know what color they are. They'll both have diabetes in 2 years.

I don't want to talk about Donald Trump because everybody else is; and he feeds off of it like the Jack-the-Ripper creature from the original Star Trek.  In case you don't remember, there was an entity that invaded the Enterprise and began killing people in horrible ways.  Doing this sporadically in the guise of a dorky bald guy played by I-don't-remember but he used to be on TV all the time, the entity evoked shipwide terror which, it turns out, he fed on.  He had been traveling through the galaxies throughout all of time, always in different guises,Ghengas Khan, Jack the Ripper of course, Hitler, all those guys, wreaking havoc, fear, death, paranoia and doom.  In the end he jumped from his bald guy host to the ship's computer.  Kirk and Spock made the computer calculate the absolute value of pi and then McCoy gave everybody on the ship a tranquilizer so they'd be dopey and happy.  When Jack-the-Ripper thing enter one of their bodies, he got stoned and helpless.  Them beamed him out into deep space scattering his molecules so wide that he couldn't get back together again.

Where are Kirk, Spock, and McCoy when you need them?