Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gimme a "K"

Karma.  Now there's a word we use pretty often here at the labs. It's like a cosmic credit score in that it is supposed to determine your worth in past and present lives with an eye for how you might fare in a future incarnation.  You can also score points in the good and bad aspects of Karma and then blame it for failure or fortune.  Actually, people tend talk about their own good Karma and someone else's bad.  I mean you don't often hear a person say "I sure have bad Karma." No, he/she will more than likely shell out a self effacing, "Shucks, must be good Karma or something." On the other hand, someone might say, President Clinton has bad Karma and that would fit because the poor man is always getting into hot water.  In my opinion President Bush has no Karma , so in his case the saying "You only live once" would be probably be appropriate.  The Karmic system also works well for those who have issues with current trends in the Old Time Religion.  I mean it's fine to point out the rewards of  having Good Karma, but if should one start referring to one's self as "Christ Like" that person might find himself the object of one of those "Spanish Inquiries" where the person ends up skinned alive.  I'm sorry, but that bunch have some pretty
uncharitable intentions toward anyone who can't conceive the beauty of a theocracy. 
I'm talking this trash because I am trying to steer clear of an ongoing miracle.  It involves some very nice people who want to believe it miraculous that a person was able to stage a remarkable recovery from a medical problem.  OK.  Now since it is permissible for anyone to think what he or she wants, it should also be OK to consider that God may well have intended to rub this fellow out and purveyors of cold logic stole him back.  Could happen.  Of course there are many many ways to view this and it still comes out a split decision, Miraculous Event vs Beating the Reaper.  Religion has been around a long time often playing to worse odds, so it's a foolish person who discounts it outright.  What's it got to do with me?  Well I did something to help here, and I want to believe I did it because I have the power to recognize a situation where I can make a positive impact, just do it and leave.  That action may well employ the teachings of various faiths, but putting what you have learned to work and being a theological pawn are not the same.  In this case, I think I'll take the Karmic points and go home Bob.  Let another contestant try for the Showcase.

Monday, August 27, 2007

You can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd

Actually, I think that should read, "Herd of Buffalo."  It doesn't matter too much because the real title here is, "Don't ever try to have a serious or emotionally charged conversation via email."  You may know this already. I should know this already as well, yet I did it anyway.  Today.  A little while ago.  Now you would think that as a guy who is used to editing; i.e. these blogs are usually 4 or 5 times larger than what finally escapes, I would not send off a foolish "Well if that's how you feel, then..." ultimatum, but I did.  In fact, I read it three times and felt pretty smug about my position as the yellow " your message has been sent bar" flashed on the "gmail" screen. ( suggest that be changed to "your fate is now sealed.") In fact, I felt so satisfied that I had said and done the right things, I went back and reread the email which had caused my "Take that!" response.  I guess in my self righteous state of self rightness, I had missed the part where the person with whom I had become disagreeable, was, at that moment, en-route to my house in aid of putting things in order. OK? Not fine. Because why?  Well for one thing, I had no idea whether X had read my "clever" response and for two, I was in my underwear. I don't know about you folks, but I rarely set out to conquer an issue in paisley boxers and a "wife beater." Face it.  In general, if you are thusly clad, negotiations have been completed and you are on you way to make, well,  "romance."  So, you might ask, "Hey Texino, why not get dressed?"  Good point. But, wait!  This X was probably too sophisticated to either berate or kill a person in his skivvies, plus if the Cops were to see a fellow hightailing it down the path in a singlet and colorful shorts, they might take me for a runner out for a jog and not the fool I was fast proving myself to be.  Well, as it turned out, no friendships bit the dust.  OK? Fine, for now, but I need to remember that this email is like a gun in that once you fire it, you can't bring the bullet back, and it is not like a gun in that, you will hit your intended target 100% of the time.  I guess when something is just like something and, at the same time, not like it at all, it deserves your total attention.  I really am glad I got that thing fixed.  Now, let's make some money.
Hey! You ever wonder about Martha Stewart?  You know?  She knows everything about anything, right?  Well how about sex?  Bet you never thought about that did you?  Well that's why I'm the Texino around here, so don't let it bring you down.  Now, I figure if Marty were to put out (?) a sex manual it would just fly off the shelves. And, check this out: She's done "Time" so she most likely has something to tell everyone, if you Steely Dan fans get my drift. No point in skating around the subject, I always say.  I'm certain I have her email address here at the lab.  "What about that big lecture about being email nice?" you ask.  Well that's for friends, this is straight (?) business. Totally different thing; people stepping on other peoples heads and all kinds of sport.  Watch this space.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Testing, testing. "Is it rolling Bob?"

Ok, I had to go get some brain tests.  Ever had one?  Two?  Maybe three?
Well that's what I did today and now I'm writing this goddamn blog which I think  two people read.  Well that's OK, because they are good people; Ms Moon and that guy from Tally Hassle, and as long as one person reads it, even if it's just me, I'll write it.  Why?  Well believe it or not, when I hire on, I'm as loyal as Old Dog Trey. You can take that to the bank.  Good as gold.  Solid as a rock.
A real Boy Scout. Now you are probably saying, "Hey Texino didn't you used to be pill head and take all your friend's drugs?" Well yes, that is true, plus I've done some other bad things in my life.  So you could ask? "Hey Texino, think you are going to Hell?" and I might glibly answer, "Where do you think I've been the last seven years?" and while your thinking that over, let me tell you something. I've been checking it out and according to my figures, I've been trying to kill myself since 1966.   Now you have to say "Hold up bud, that's 40 odd years, so you must be the worst shot since Elmer Fudd."
OK, we may be running aground on a simile here, but the fact remains that during that time I have been a commercial fisherman, a fighting soldier, a high steel painter, a firefighter and a drug addict. All of these professions are ones where people routinely die and I know this to be true as I have seen it happen in every single one.  Sure all I wanted to do was be a normal man with a family, but that one didn't fly, so I chose musician but I wasn't good enough to make it count for much so I went to "work" at a series of dangerous jobs and after all that time I finally managed to come closer to dying than ever before and maybe I did die because, as I implied above, I seem to have been in Hell. OK? Fine, but wait!  Just the other day one of the doctor's (Hell's full of them) sent me to someone else who was a doctor and this one said that it might be possible that I was in hell by mistake and I could take some tests and find out and while I was at it, why not try these anti Hell pills and see if you don't cool down?  Well this may seem odd to you living beings, but I seem to be less hell-bound than before. "Prove it you say?"  OK,
check this out. Today I was laid up in an MRI machine with my head in a cage.  MRI is a big pipe runs through a donut and being stuck down in there is something many people cannot deal with.  Well while I was inside, and as usual, I was thinking of eternal damnation. In fact, I was pretending that I was in a coffin and was destined to stay there forever with this noise that the MRI makes as my only company; it's really loud btw. Well that ought to scare a person, right?  Being stuck down a tube for eternity with you head immobilized while devils banged on it with big hammers.  Get the picture?  Well after a few minutes of trying to scare myself, I started to pick up a rhythm in the noise, a beat if you will.  Now once you got a beat you got some music because music is just sounds of different pitch , broken down into fractional parts of a beat.  You like that definition?  I did, so I started singing with the beat.  I imagine the people in the control room wondered what in Hell I was up to.  I want to leave you with that thought.  Just as I dearly want to be free of this troubling condition I have floundering in for the last seven and one half years.  Since I intend to continue with this writing, I'll let you now what happens.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What is Bluegrass Anyway

This is Texino. Sometimes I post to a List-serve at the University of Kentucky that is meant to be entirely devoted to bluegrass music. I title my posts "Looking through the F Holes." Every year about now a discussion flares up in regard to the International Bluegrass Music Association or IBMA because they hold a convention in September where awards are given for best this and that. Well the balloting is presently underway and things are heating up to the point where people can not agree what bluegrass music is. The following is a bit I wrote in an effort to explain what bluegrass is or might be.  I'm putting it here because I am too lazy to write another article today and also because there are a couple of people who drop by this blog who are into music.  I quote myself:  Some people have asked how I can see from "The F Holes"? Good question. The answer is, I'm inside of a big bass fiddle*. That's right. A German model from 1939 with a trap door in the back. Instruments can be used as hiding places both in real life as well as metaphorically.
Today, I sense a bit of panic within the community because people who love and live Bluegrass are suddenly hard pressed to define it. Well, as we all learned in our youth, the answer to any question is ,"Look it up." My dictionary says Bluegrass is: " a kind of country music influenced by jazz and blues and characterized by virtuosic playing of banjos and guitars and high-pitched, close-harmony vocals." Another definition is "... grown for fodder." While the first definition would satisfy most people , I believe the second might serve our group better. Why? Because one use of the word fodder means food, another is to feed and still another one is an excess of the expendable, i.e. "cannon fodder. Although I like to think we use our fodder as grist for the mill of discussion, others may seize a clump and fire it off in defense of a position and some people just eat as much as they can but can never get enough. Then we have this. A long time friend and some time band mate tells a humorous story which ends with a man saying "David, Bluegrass is a hard, driving music." Through the years when one of us might be a bit off track, the other could just drop that line out of the blue and all would be better. It got to the point where almost anything, from angry words to hurt feelings or even an awful showing on stage, could be set aside by someone striking mock serious and quoting that old saw. Didn't even have to have a Dave present; just the words would do it. The music has that power.
So there, Bluegrass is a hard, driving music that you can live, eat and use as a weapon. The IBMA shindig? Well that's like the flu season, or a Texino broadcast; you know it's coming, but you can't really judge how deadly it was until it's over. My advice ? Sea por favor tranquil mis amigos and smile when you see a big German Bass.

*note  I don't know if this instrument is real or as a French person might say, " de de la tĂȘte"
It does exist in a story I have where the "double bass" is used to hide a small child or move other things around wartime Europe, and I have been inside and all through the instrument in such detail, I might as well have made the thing in real life.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Do I Voo Doo?

I was disipointed recently because an essay I had been asked to submit in support of a broarder piece was cut out altogether. I did feel compelled to send a letter to the editor letting him know that, as a Latino, I was insulted and would have my satisfaction even if I had to use Voo Doo to get it. In fact, I included a photo of a Root Doctor and a Zombie.(That is the Zombie right there folks)  I think I made it clear that my retribution was more symbolic than anything else and he could easily escape with a simple, " Im sorry," however; I do have a copy of a book written by this fellow and, therefore, have all the connection I need to reach him using the old ways. Rather than Zombify him, however;  I am more likely to have my Root Doctor cause a brief tummy ache where the only relief would come from the release of gas in the form noisy "farts."  These would be unique in that they would sound out various effects such as a trumpet doing a horses whinny or the deep tones of an Ocean liner's steam whistle. Imagine being at a formal dinner when, suddenly, the familiar oboe that heralds the dawn in Rossini's Overture emanates from beneath the table or perhaps an embarrassed man striding through a lobby trailing the sound of song birds in his wake. Of course such flatulence would be rendered odorless so as not to detract from sound quality.  We have the power to act, right here in the jungle. I don't know what I'll do because I'm still pretty sore about this and must not act out of haste. These things do take timing and a slip up might land me in hot water.  I think I better send the story to Ms. Moon just to be sure it doesn't really suck.  On the other hand, if I do get in trouble for using Voo Doo, I'm going to say "I did it for kicks, Man." or "To get my name in the paper."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Last Sunday

I have a friend who is a Mom.  Well, lets say Momma because it's bigger and Mommy just doesn't fit.  My friend is not a Big Momma and she will never pick up that appellation because a big momma is a southern thing that is very easily understood, and one look at my friend Mary would settle the big momma question then and there.  No I have a feeling that, even should she acquire 50 grandchildren, she will still be Momma.  OK?  Fine, because we are talking about something else entirely.  I've known Mary for a long time, too long maybe, because we don't see one another as often as we once did.  I wouldn't say our friendship is stale, it's more on the level the box being pretty full, that is to say, from writing a million words, we know a bit much about what is in the other's mind and face to face contact brings little in the way of "What's new?"  See what I mean? Good, because we're still not to the point.  The point is the children.  Mary would not be much of a Momma without some of those and she has four.  We  call them Jim, June, Lilac and Lacy.
Mary would call them something else but I'm protecting innocents here.  Actually, there was another woman/child who desperately needed a Momma and Mary took her in until she could stand up and walk out.  I don't recall any eye blinking in the decision either, she just did it. It needed doing..  Mary, Mother, Mary Momma.  OK?  Fine because we are getting close to the point. When I first met Mary, it was to aid her with a computer matter, She seemed happy that someone would take the time and for my part I was happy to help.   A friend of a friend.  The friend was a girl and Mary was a girl too and I just like girls.  My hero;  The legendary piano man Big Al Williams had a bell mounted on his instrument and was famous for ringing it then yelling, " Calling all girls! Lets have a high ball!"  I like women that much if not more, so if a female needs a hand Texino is bound to respond favorably and fast.  Well computers got fixed and Mary and I soon discovered that we both took reading and writing  to a serious level and seemed to able appreciate each other in the comfortable manner that allows those of opposite sex but similar passions to fall in step and keep marching to that tune without messing with romance.    So we wrote and we read what we had written and when we didn't have any thing to read we talked about life which for Mary centered on her job as Momma.  When we met, Jim was grown and out and about. June was at home but close to college and Lilac and Lacy were just cute little girls in the elementary grades.  Well as hard as Mary was at living her life and being a good wife and mother, she still maintained the Momma persona by going to the school house and assisting with this class or that one.  We know she wanted to make sure things were getting done the correct way, and God knows how much momma she let loose to the masses.   Perhaps God does know, but the numbers are beyond me.  I know they were enough to put the yoke on Mary for she's a small gal. Small in stature maybe, but strong in her belief  that while mothers get a break Momma is always there and aware.  It seemed the girls were always in school.  If there were vacations, Momma never took them  and after years of reading the words of Mary's week,  I began to notice Sunday.  Yeah Sunday was the day when things seemed bad; the day when a costume needed sewing or a forgotten science  project would surface and poster board, tempera paints and construction paper would meld along with the proper tables  and rumble off just in time to make the grade.  Also Sunday could bring on  the symptoms of "Duck Fever"  a 24 hour illness that followed the Mary family into 3 different homes.  I always felt that Duck Fever resulted from someone missing a dose of Momma during the previous week and the lack of it would manifest during the the Sunday preschool countdown.  If the disease was confirmed, then the victim would remain at home wrapped in a comforter known as The Duck and receive Momma Ju Ju for the balance of the day and be fine by morning.  Duck Fever withstanding, I can't remember any of the kids from Jim though Lacy ever getting really sick and there is a pretty fair space of time covered.  Yup, Sundays were tough on my pal, but in these 12 or so years, she never missed one.  When you think about that, well its hard to think about. Because outside of being a Momma there were serious Mother and Wife things to deal with.  People died, or went away mad; old wounds would open and close at will because too much self healing magic had been lent the Momma bank, and those debts always default at the worst time.  I've watched my pal go through a month of Sundays 144 times and though she may have stalked each sabbath with a black cloud looking to find a crack in her even temper, it never happened or at least the word didn't reach us here at the know it all center.  OK?  Well it better be because, by my clock the youngest of the kids, the one left, baring a case of Duck Fever, will be stepping off  to college monday morning.   The Sundays?  It might take a while to see they are just a day before monday, maybe a bit heavy with memory but that will level out over time.  Kids grow and then they have to move around a little and sometimes they even go away, however; the children in this story wont do that; cant do it because  Momma wouldn't allow no sorry-ass separation.  It's a Southern thing you see, but it could happen anywhere.
Mary's kids are all good people.  I know they love their Momma and their Poppa as well.  Do they  know how lucky they are to have been cared for in such a special way?  And do they know how every fiber of their mother's heart and soul has stretched to hold them steady when things get bumpy?  I hope so because, there is simply no better definition of true love, and I am happy to point it out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I might be different

I am not myself right now.  Well as Texino, I am not really myself, but this is different.  I don't know if it has to do with laser shots to the brain or a sudden compulsion to study the Dorian mode, but I do know these items are not found in the day planner of your average almost 60 year old man.  I've done a little checking and, no you won't find them.  Oh yeah, there is this other thing.  Lately, I have been stopping my car a little bit into the cross walk when I pause at a red light.  Well, I did it again yesterday, except there was a red car already there and I hit it.  Not hard mind you, but the fellow driving the red car noticed and he got out to talk.  There was no damage and the man was very nice about it.  He could have said something mean, but he didn't.  We were both transporting French Poodles, and that may have helped.  On the other hand, he could have been riding a motor bike and the story would have ended differently.  Well it did end there and fortunately, nothing was said in regard to my age.  Like "maybe it's time to call it a day gramps."  Or "The light doesn't get any redder in St Johns Provence, daddy-o"  Oh yeah, I was not high on reefer or booze.  I felt badly to the maximum and decided to go see my doctor and ask a question.  For some reason I started crying when when the Doctor came to examine me.  He was concerned as Texinos just don't do that unless they are happy.  He sent me to have  test for a brain bleeding event.  Since it wasn't, they said Texino you could just be losing your marbles few at a time, so its time for us to count them.  So if you happen to spot some loose cats eyes or steelies  rolling around in the, gutter please pick them up and put them in  safe spot until I can get someone over to get them.  Thanks.  

While I am writing about crazy, I might as well confess the possibility of a new ghost.  I've written about the drag-leg ghost before-the one almost scared my hair white, back in 1963.
Well this morning I went to to finish up this post and there were a lot of Es at the end of the last sentence because I had gone to sleep typing and my finger had rested on the key.
I erased all of the E letters and looked at what I had put down and it made some sense, so I went and hit the spell check.  Now the spell check busted me for trying to make a compound word of too +Lorraine.  OK?  Well not fine because I did not write "Lorraine" anywhere in the post and if I had it would have been totally out of context.  In fact, the only Lorraine I know is the lady who sold me poodles.  I did, however, have a  next door neighbor by that name, but she died many years ago.  Funny thing is, when she was dying she said she hoped to live long enough to smell my jasmine in bloom once more.  She did and then died.  She was very warm and gracious woman and I miss her.  Sometimes when I am out in the night airs, I will pick up the sent of Ligustram.  Lorraine had a hedge of it and the smell was strong.  After she died, her husband tore it up.  Then he moved away.  He is about 90 and he didn't have any trouble finding a new babe either.  John's a real good dancer and the gals left by from those dancing days, will go Boffo for a man who is smooth.  I miss Loraine a lot,  for she was ever so nice.  Thing is, John never had a service for her.  He just burnt her up and the paper said "service at a later date."  So poor Lorraine is on my mind especially when I catch the smell of Ligustram where there isn't any, or whenever my Jasmine comes out  Now today, I find her name mysteriously hanging around my word processor and would like to know if she is here for a visit or I just wrote it while drifting.  I put a few questions to the computer and when I come back from the eye doctor I'll see if she was here.  I think you night want the answers too.  As the Bard once had Hamlet say;  "There are more things in heaven and earth, Texino, than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Motherless Baby Home

Hi.  Today I received an odd email from a gentleman in Africa.  This fellow, who we will call Mike, wrote to tell me about the unfortunate death of a Mr. Finklestein.  He then went on the say that Finklestein, who had no kin, had left some 15.5 million bucks in the bank where Mike works and, if no one claimed it, the money would revert to the bank's general fund. Well that's the news from Africa. NOT!  No way, because Mike has chosen me to pose as Finklestein's heir and for this little charade, I will get 40% of the money and Mike and "his partner" get 40% and the "other 10%" will be donated to the Motherless Baby Home. You say "err Texino 40 + 40 + 10 is not 100" Yeah, I noticed that as well, but I was more taken with the idea of a motherless baby to worry about that "new math" stuff.  I mean, Mike doesn't say "orphaned children" he says "Motherless Baby" and I say that's a neat trick.

Of course, we have all gotten these letters and they are part of the well known 419 or "Nigerian Scam"   Now I do not see how anyone, even a motherless baby, could fall for this.  Someone must, however, because I see no slacking in these appeals.   How do they do it?  Well, they ask for all your banking data and, if you give that up, they will simply take all your money out of the bank.  If, say, you start a separate account for your cut, you will be asked for what seems like trivial amounts needed to get a document stamp or power of attorney.  Then everything will be set up but at the last minute someone will need $1000 bucks for someone will require hush money.  People fall for this?  It would seem so.  I guess it plays upon greed and once you put a little money in, it's hard to convince yourself that you are a complete idiot.  Powerful psychology is at work too.  If, like me, you read these letters for laughs  you will notice that the author uses a mixture of big words and poor grammar and you may easily assume you are dealing with a fool.  Not necessarily. It seems that quite a few people feel that they will outsmart the con.  Try that and you could be the big loser.  When I was active on the web site "Quatloos" (a respected clearing house for Tax related scams, but others are discussed as well) I helped investigate a fellow from Canada called Jim Norman.  Jim had started this "Project" where women working for him would use all sorts of bogus paper to convince investors that Jim's "Espavo" foundation had this portfolio worth 77 million bucks but it was tied up by the world court and world bank due to some 9/11/01 deal.
Anyway Jim needed these piddling amounts of money to pry it lose and in exchange for say a 2k loan, he would issue a promissory note to pay back the money in two weeks at something like 700% interest.  Well that's a lot of dough for 2 grand and people signed up big time.  Of course Norman never paid a dime and still hasn't.  Interesting point though; in going over some purloined emails from a mole in the organization, it would seem that Norman himself had been taken in by one of these scams and seemed to believe he was going to hit it very big.  When last I checked, Jim was still at it but with more of a new age angle. Some place on his web site Jimnorman.com or something close, he claims to have tested at some incredible score which shows him to be near super human.  Thing is, the "score sheet" he posts is obviously
a "charge sheet" from a dentist visit which shows billing codes in the left margin and corresponding items to the right.  Of course Jim says these are "chemical values" and some arcane dental products may seem to bear this out, but things like "motrin" and the paper the dentist uses to check that your crown is the right hight are dead give a ways.  To anyone who has worked around medicine or looked at a discharge bill from the ER or Dr.'s office, the issue of a billing code for every single possible thing that can be charged is no secret.  Never the less, Jim the con just goes ballistic if questioned.  A google search would likely show some of this stuff.  Yet even with this huge amount of negative evidence, people have recently given money to the Norman scheme. Some have been highly paid professionals who can laugh off a couple of grand for the outside chance that this might be real.  What doesn't come to lite that often are seniors who have bet their retirement savings.  Why the hell would they do that?
The next time you go round a lottery sales location, please notice who is buying the weekly dream.  It's likely to be the elderly.  You might say, "Damn that person is 80, what the hell would they do with 50 million?  Well, the sad thing about our society is a lot of us "don't make it" and it is scary to be on a fixed income and have to worry about the cost of medicine and being taxed out of your home, or the stigma of being "broke".  It is an entirely different American Dream that motivates these folks.  How would I know? Well being Texino, I just know stuff. Meanwhile Mike and Jim and Barrister Princewell and all manner of other happy schemers are out there looking to nail your last dollar.  Oh yeah, the Motherless Baby Home.  What really caught my eye there was the reminder of an old blues tune; the type they call a moan, that tells us. "Motherless children have a hard time when their mother is dead."  As I grow older, the song makes far more sense than the overstated title did back in the day when I had little to lose.   Purposeful bring down here?  No, not really.  I see something, get an idea for one thing and then maybe something else comes out.  It's just a thing.  Keep your eyes open, porcupines abound.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Friendly Staff forced to punt

Howdy, Texino here.  After reading a recent entry where Ms. Moon, in conflict with an optical shop, takes the subject of rude staff to the word woodshed for a thrashing, I thought about some recent contacts with my own care givers.  By thrilling coincidence, my latest go round was also driven by a visit to an optical center.  In fact, I was looking for new glasses myself.  Life seems to seek these little parallels, doesn't it? That or we are just plodding the same boring road copping each others riffs.
Oh well, it is crazy thinking like that which propels me into this story.  Lets start right here with a statement of fact.  I have Glaucoma, a disease of the eye that causes the ambient pressure inside the eyeball to rise.  For the most part, it is asymptotic and if not diagnosed and treated it will rob your sight. Now even though I know this and I know the treatment, I became non compliant-meaning I stopped taking the medicine and quit getting my pressure monitored. How come?  Well let's just say a little voice in my head said it was OK.  Of course that was craziness at work. I know that now, you know it and the folks at the eye place know it too.  There lies the nut of the problem.  The eye people treat me like I am an idiot, at least the ones who know about my madness do, while the ones who don't know are often brusk to the point of rudeness because I often cannot follow their instructions.  I don't like going there one iota, however; I had to go there recently because my progressive bifocal lenses were driving me, well I guess I can say "crazy" and you will get the point.  Now before they would hand over different glasses, I had to go through an exam.  The person who gave the first part was "clued in" and seemed to feel the proper approach  to employ when dealing with the insane was to reassure me that the machines would not hurt me.  Now, I'm sure you all have had this done to you before, right?  I mean the color blind test and the how many dots test and so on and it's all about looking into some device and trying see something.  Hardly intimidating even to the most feeble minded among us.  I mean it's like looking into a telescope; something you may not do every day (or night) but hardly a threat.  Oh well, I don't think they cover giving eye tests to madmen in optical assistant school.  They may, however, go over some geriatric issues and I think this lady was improvising along that route.  Next we have the eye doctor, a very nice man for an Android.  I swear this man is programed to perform  complex fiddling of various machinery, All the while speaking some eyeball jive in a sing-song voice and answering "Yes, of course." in response anything you might say. Usually harmless and very predictable, so I was quite taken aback when he suddenly dismissed his robotic persona and said, "Hmmm, something serious here, Ill be setting up an appointment for you with the eye surgeon," then walked out.  As I was led to the desk where "all business must be concluded before leaving", I heard the doc's voice singing its song to the next patient.  Too weird in that by finding some new event beyond their ken, the whole complex shut down on me and went into reset mode for the next patient.  Well true to their word, they sent me to The Eye Surgeon.  Still, I find the lack of a real explanation or consultation or discussion about which eye surgeon; the stuff that happens when normal people need to be referred for advanced treatment, I find it, well, missing and am left with the feeling I should have brought a parent or what ever the equivalent for a 59  year old child would be.  Oh, by the way, I got my new glasses with no argument at all from what is usually the most contentious sector of the staff.  Now in case you think I am imagining being treated like an idiot,  I offer you this;
When I went to my appointment at the eye surgery complex, my initial exam was done by a woman who obviously did not suffer fools gladly.   "Do you know why you are here?" She demanded. I said that I did. She then fixed me with the look usually reserved for inspecting some questionable item on one's dinner plate and said, "Well, why don't you tell me what you think you are here for?"  I wanted to put her eye out.  Being a disabled person can cause great frustration. Even more so when you know that your disability is partly due to mental illness and it is not a secret.  A touch of the old lunacy may even do you a favor in the studio or at your desk, but when you go outside of the nest you have to be very careful of how you act or what you have to say , for the part of the world that responds in direct reaction to you is seldom understanding and rarely, if ever, charmed by your antics.  The folks in this story helped me retain a great deal of my sight and though I am very grateful, I must admit, that in my minds eye, things don't make for such a happy picture.  How can I be so selfish; so self centered?  Well that is just the way we crazy people are.  Please take my word for this and don't try it at home.

Don't call me Tex

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The next time you need help, call a ...

  Do you remember that bumper sticker? "If you hate the cops..." Then it tells you to call whomever it is that has a beef with law enforcement.  Used to be that the police were at least on the side of the solid citizen and they spent some time offering assistance to that bunch.  If you were counter culture, it was best to just keep moving outside of their personal space. Now the police are undergoing some disturbing changes.  How do I know this?  Well not too long ago, I was doing some lecturing at a college, a community college, where they had included an actual Law Enforcement Academy in the curriculum of study.  Now in my comings and goings it was common to see the student police practicing various types of field training outside of the classroom environment.
It was not long before several things struck me as odd.  First it was the uniform or I should say uniforms.  The students, or "recruits" as they prefer, attended class in a uniform of khaki shirt and trousers and shiny black shoes. For physical training, they donned olive drab combat fatigue pants, combat boots, a bright red t-shirt, and would form up in military fashion complete with a Guidon (a small pennant on a stick) Then they would march off to the exercise area in parade fashion or else that odd double shuffle popular with South African troops and Black College Marching Bands.  Of course you can't march without timing and since they did not have a brass band, they relied on tried and true cadence call and response rhymes.  After rigorous exercise the trainees hit the showers and would appear in either the classroom Khaki or else ominous black battle dress called BDUs.  BDUs meant serious training like kicking in doors and shooting shotguns plus all manner of urban warfare.  All this stuff was done with a deadly serious attitude and reminded me very much of my army training except even more combat oriented and the combat seemed directed to a population rather than an "enemy"  As my time continued, I began to notice the recruits becoming not only more paramilitary in attitude and dress, they also to a man, though not a woman, started shaving their heads in an exaggerated version of the high and tight or "white wall" haircuts favored by elite units of The Armed Forces.  Before long the "Basic Law Enforcement" class started applying military base procedure to the whole campus by raising and lowering the Flag at certain times and even attempting a retreat each afternoon.  A retreat is when the Flag is lowered while a bugle plays and on a military reservation certain rules are followed.  Well a college is not Fort Bragg and traffic will not come to a halt nor will persons afoot stop and face in the direction of the main post flag and salute it till it's down.  I can tell you this did not go over well with the jr. cops and they even attempted to stop traffic by posting class members in bright orange vests right in the roadway.  Well that idea was scotched by admin and the cops were allowed to take their flag hijinks over to the "Fire Grounds" where they maintained a shooting range and had pretend battles in the "burn buildings" used for training Firefighters.  Trouble ensued with the firemen and some embryonic coppers got their pants dirty.  This episode caused me to investigate and in interviewing the police cadets I discovered the disturbing prevalence of an us vs them mentality ingrained to the point where I, as an instructor from outside the law enforcement section was not treated with the respect I would as a rule get from clean cut and well disciplined students.  This bothered me greatly, not because I'm some martinet, no what troubled me was with all the emphasis that the Law Enforcement Community places on "respect for the badge=respect for The Law" it was obvious that the new "Police" are being programed to by-pass respect for the "solid citizen" and this can be seen in countless episodes where the cops have terrorized, and I do not use the term lightly, yes terrorized innocent families in their own homes because someone made a mistake. Even, if no mistake is made then what has happened to the presumption of innocence?  More and more the police approach every arrest as a tactical exercise.  Heavy boots at 4 AM. Your door explodes inward and like as not some noise making pyrotechnic is set off.  Masked men made bigger by black Darth Vader armor burst into your home screaming the vilest obscenities for you to get on the floor and are held there with a gun to your head while your home is literally torn to pieces in search of ANYTHING incriminating; even if your offense is over due parking fines.  If you want to use that old saw, "law breakers get what they deserve" you better get it through your thick head the "The Patriot Act" in defense of the "Homeland" makes you a criminal by thought, action, dress, association and just about anything else someone wants AND you are guilty as charged from the get go.  An article in the Roanoke, VA Times stresses this very point reporting how cars going to a Bluegrass event were being stopped by federal park police and searched under the auspices of The Patriot Act.  An editor for the paper was threatened with arrest under the sam "Law" for trying to photograph an incident from a safe distance.  This stuff is happening.  I am the last one to envolve myself in some nutty conspiracy but, goddamn it, this stuff is happening and the police are being trained to do it.  The cops stop you, don't even think of telling them you know your rights because,  you don't.  The next time you need a cop?  I'd advise calling a lawyer first.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The little search engine that could....

A couple of things if I may ask and add.  OK? Fine.  First let me inform you that should your fortunes change in some way, the chance of this news reaching you by email is nil.  This not to say that a faraway friend can't give you news in advance of a card or call. i.e. "The baby looks exactly like you!"  Whether this is good  or bad news is left to the recipient to ponder.  Still it is only part of keeping your bases covered. To that end, when someone tells me that he or she is expecting a critical email or even go so far as to say it is a life or death issue, I will wager it is a ploy to get me to repair their computer ahead of someone else's.    Why would somebody expect me to fall for this?  I suppose that people become used to emails ability to let them plot a conversation while seeming to be spontaneous chit chat.  People forget that email is nothing but an electronic letter that, unlike the traditional variety, is very easy manipulate or edit to their advantage up until the moment it is sent.  So anyone who allows that such a missive is of world altering importance, is just plain crazy.  No matter how often you exchange email with a person, you must always complete your business or "thread" with a telephone call or face to face meeting

Lets think about email some more.  The fact that you probably get several varieties daily is telling in that for most spam is generated by something you did, or even something an acquaintance did and in doing it let your address loose because they ccd their entire mailing list while forwarding their latest lawyer joke or vicious political lie. i.e. Senator Obama is a space alien terror jockey bent on destroying our land of perfection because all liberals hate freedom.  Hey folks, I'm just reporting the news.  Anyhow, the cc option on your buddies email header is there for anyone who wants some email addresses.  So spammers my know that you are interested in a product your friend told you about  and they release your address by selling it to other spammers and you keep getting spam forever.  Well that's a fact Jack and a bitter pill Jill, but there's  a fix Dick and you can look it up, Chuck.  Ah! there is the rub.  Look it up.  Where do you do that?  Da da da da! Blow a bugle for Google!  What a wonderful fountain of stuff!  It's like having a smarter brother or big Sis right there with you.  Unsure of an idea or fact? Need a picture of an eyeball?  Just plunk the magic twanger and the goods are there.  How can something so good be free?  How can it be so damn nice?  Well like most thinks that taste good, there is a bad side to this.  The best way to see it is to get a Gmail account.  It's free but you do need an invite.  I can fix that for you.  OK, here is what you get.  A web mail account which is  bit like Hotmail or Yahoo except, it is very easy to use and comes with 2 GB of storage. That is 2,000 MB and considering a 40 MB hard drive used to go for about $1000 bucks 15 years ago you will see that tech has gotten real big and real cheap very very fast.
OK the point of the Google 2GB mail account is, you need not erase a thing because you could put about a billion words in 2GB and you will not write that much in your life. So Google has all your mail.  Fine, now is when things get goofy.  If you have Gmail, go a head and start writing a letter.  You will notice that Google has little text adds off to the right margin.  You hardly even notice them, however; if you do you might be surprised to see that as you write, the adds change content to mirror what you are saying.  Type "fucking" and some clickable text on that subject will show up.  Type boat, plane, diesel engine or happy birthday Mom and the clickable adds will keep right with you.  Scary?  Well yeah.  If you know anything about software, make that Hell Yeah!  Because even though Google says they don't keep the information on file or share it.  They could.  Google is now a big and very rich corporation.  They trade stock.  Just take a minute to and think about some other big outfits who do that.  They may have screwed you over; you know sent their tech support where folks don't understand you.  They speak English in that they are able to read a script, but they don't understand the nuances that would make them really helpful.  They may have screwed you or someone you know by taking his, her or your job and making it vanish.  They may have bankrupted the retirement fund of someone you know. (one reason why you might see old guys working as bag boys over at the market) They may have jacked your credit cards up to loan shark rates so you will just keep paying the "vig" for ever and can't touch the principal without re mortgaging your home. Banks mortgage homes as well as issue credit cards.  So you see, a big corporation is very apt to do something really harmful just to benefit the bottom line for it's investors.  While you can be an investor your self, the corporation is interested in people with great big piles of wealth and those are the people it will serve. Not you, Sue.  Oh yeah, it is just business. I'm not trying to start a scare, I'm just saying if I can start with a comment about simple electronic messages and build to a climax where a search engine might have a complete profile of what you write plus copies of what you have written, it will be well to take note, for as a corporation will blindly serve the bottom line a corporate computer will gladly take aim on whomever is chosen and spit a bothersome line of data in the direction desired.  Now that would be a serious email indeed.   Texino

Texino wrote this right off the top of his head and, other than spell check, did not use sneaky email editing.