Saturday, September 30, 2017

Multipotentialites of the World, Unite!

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Bloggaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original (above) to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"A cat is a dilettante in fur." -Theophile Gautier


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

"I spend an inordinate amount of time online due to the fact that the Internet is ideal for a dilettante and current events junkie." -me

The slightly less than famous quote above is from my website. Specifically, it can be found by clicking on the Just Who Is This Guy Anyway tab and skipping to the seventh paragraph. I wrote it approximately 2.3 years ago and it's still true.

The word dilettante is often, no, usually used in a derogatory manner but I embrace this particular noun semi-proudly (see definition 2 below). More on that in just a sec'.

Merrian-Webster   1: an admirer or lover of the arts
                             2: a person having a superficial interest in an art or branch
                                  of knowledge
                              : DABBLER

Wait a minute. An admirer or lover of the arts? I've never heard anyone...wait a minute, I'll be right back.

[Insert insipid elevator music here]

OK. It's derived from an Italian word, dilettare, which means a person who loves the arts. There's even a Society of Dilettanti that dates to 1734 made up of "noblemen and scholars which sponsors the study of ancient Greek and Roman art...".

How the definition of the word (d)evolved to its current most common use (see definition 2 again) I've no idea. I'd pursue this further but I'm a dilettante and I've already lost interest.

[For the record, while I don't object to the use of the color red as it's the color of all the hyperlinks on the Merriam-Webster website, the fact they capitalized the word DABBLER for no apparent reason, leads me to believe that someone's disdain for dilettantes has colored their judgment.]


Now, looking up the word dilettante in my favorite (Merriam-Webster) online dictionary when I started this letter got me to thinking. It occurred to me that I had never gone in search of a word that meant essentially the same thing as dilettante but sounded way cooler. I found one.

Multipotentialite. For some reason (my discovery that the word dilettante originated in Italy?) I feel compelled to pronounce it with a cheesy Italian accent. Multah - potentia - LEE' - tah. Very cool.

[What was that? Marie-Louise (she's militantly French), did you just make that utterly disdainful sounding noise I'm not even gonna' try to spell? No answer. Looks like I won't be getting my back scratched today.]

According to a Wikipedia article I stumbled on to...

[I was web surfing and don't remember how I got there. This happens to me a lot. If it happens to you a lot you may also be a multipotentialite. Or, maybe one or both us suffers from attention deficit disorder.]

"Multipotentiality is an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields."

Uh oh, "...excel in two or more different fields." While I do have a strong intellectual and artistic curiosity I don't excel at one field much less two or more. I thought that was a Polymath (Merriam-Webster: a person of encyclopedic learning). Hmm. I better go back and reread the Wikipedia article carefully instead of skimming through it like a dilettante. I'll be right back.

[Insert insipid elevator music here]

Ah-Ha! Multipotentiality is the title of the article and it's apparently too new to have an official definition. But, according to the article, it's been used by various people in a way similar to the definition above.

However, Multipotentialite is credited to one Emilie Wapnick.

The Wikipedia article states specifically that "While the term 'multipotentialite' is often used interchangeably with 'polymath' or 'Renaissance Person', the terms are not identical. One need not be an expert in any particular field to be a mulitpotentialite".

Not only that, Ms. Wapnick runs a website for multipotentialites called Puttylike wherein I found the following. "My Definition -- A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits."

It's official, I'm not a just another middlebrow: "...aware of high culture, but is able to balance aesthetic claims with the claims of the everyday world." I'm a freakin' multipotentialite, baby! And yes, Virginia Stickies, middlebrow is not only an actual word it's the subject of a Wikipedia article. Poppa loves you.


Random Randomness: Charlie the Tuna

I wonder, my dear Stickies, if Charlie the Tuna will still be around and traumatizing your children after I've been deleted. I'd forgotten about Charlie but recently discovered, via a commercial on the prime rectangle, that he's still around and still consumed by his disturbing obsession.

In case you're unaware, Charlie's sick and twisted fantasy, since 1961, is to be captured by placing a hook in his mouth and subsequently killed and eaten. I can't help but wonder how much damage has been done over the years by societies favorite vorarephiliac.

Have an OK day.


[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

If there are some readers out there that think my shtuff is worth a buck or three a month, color me honored, and grateful. Regardless, if you like it, could you please share it? There are buttons at the end of every column.]


©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

If you're reading this on my website (where there are tons of older columns, a glossary, and other goodies) and if you wish to react (way cooler than liking) -- please scroll down.











Saturday, September 23, 2017

Trump Announces the Fourth Reich

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Bloggaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original (above) to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms." -Aristotle


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies,

Humbug Alert: This is the third, and last, of a series of columns with outrageous and/or bogus headlines designed to capture an influx of new and unwary gentlereaders. In my defense, the big boys do this sort of thing all the time. This particular column has the unique distinction of having virtually nothing to do with its headline. It's a literary Hail Mary pass -- my humbugery, so far at least, has failed.

However, since it's standard procedure in some quarters to name the Donald as the poster child for anything/everything that's wrong/ever was wrong with the USA, there's at least a tenuous connection. See, this letter is actually about yours truly watching America, politically and culturally, decline in the course of my 39 years, but I don't blame the Donald.


My dear Grandstickies, that is, the four of you that currently exist (who knows what'll be going on when your kids are growing up), at the moment you are in the process of growing up in a wildly chaotic, politically/culturally polarized era. We haven't seen its like since the legendary sixties.

Let me clarify that a bit, modern America hasn't seen it's like. I hesitate to speak of/to/for other locales. The planet Earth has seen its like/is in the midst of witnessing its like -- often, and often much worse.

I was unaware of just how wildly chaotic and politically/culturally polarized the legendary sixties were even though I was busy growing up in the midst of them. I mean, I was aware there was a lot of wild shtuff going on but frankly, I thought it was, well, fun, and exciting. Give us a minute and we'll fix all the shtuff the grups screwed up. Most of my fellow Baby Boomers and I had no firm plans beyond that.

[Hey, wait a minute...]

Relax, Dana, I see it, I'm on it. Dana was about to object to the fact that the last paragraph implies that the Baby Boomers were an idealistic, united front for positive change. Nope. In spite of stereotypes and how some remember the period, culturally and politically speaking we were, and are, all over the map.

We came of age in the midst of an imperfect storm of cultural/political/economic/technological and who knows what all-i-cal developments. But we didn't conjure them out of thin air. We just happened to be there. And most of us didn't turn on, tune in, and drop out. Most of us weren't at Woodstock. Most of us didn't participate in, or get anywhere near, a protest or a riot. Etcetera.

But the thing is, as I've written repeatedly, the tot did get tossed out with the Jacuzzi water. The culture fragmented and the fragments are fragmenting. It took a long time for Rome to die. I can't help but wonder if all of our vaunted technology and wealth will help to destroy us in record time.


Being a callowyute I had no real appreciation of just how fragile civilization actually is. It wasn't until I was a grup that I had any notion that things could have gotten out of hand. Things got out of hand. Things are getting worse.

My fellow boomers and I were familiar with terrorism, but mostly from the comfort and safety of our living rooms. The Palestine Liberation Organization was founded by a world-class terrorist but they specialized in murdering Jews, overseas.

When your parents were coming up things got a bit more personal. and a lot more dangerous. Al Qaeda dramatically expanded on the concept, murdering any and all infidels. Also, inadvertently murdering fellow Muslims was considered acceptable collateral damage.

You're coming up in the ISIS age. They openly advocate murdering and/or enslaving anybody that doesn't believe in their nasty little version of Islam via any means at hand. A car or a knife is as good as a bomb, if less productive.

In the not too distant past the existential threat posed by those who embrace this cult of death, these Muslims in name only, would've united us. Though flawed, hypocritical, and having committed no shortage of sins (rather like the average H. sapien), America could (more or less...) play as a team, when they had to. Could (more or less...) compromise, when they had to.


BIG BUT.

The American body politic is suffering from two different but potentially deadly strains of bacteria that are coming at us from the (alt) left and the (alt) right.

As to who exactly belongs to what side and what they're advocating is impossible to define. Fragments of fragments are perpetually at war with each other as well as anyone identified as the other.

"At this shank end of a summer that a calmer America someday will remember with embarrassment, you must remember this: In the population of 325 million, a small sliver crouches on the wilder shores of politics, another sliver lives in the dark forest of mental disorder, and there is a substantial overlap between these slivers." -George Will

[Man..if I could write like that I bet I'd have more than a single patron.]

Unfortunately, the slivers are given outsized coverage by the salivating media. Keeping the pot stirred 24 x 7 is where the money is. Having a tendency to see my glass of beer as half empty I have to admit I sometimes don't share Mr. Will's optimism ("...America someday will remember with embarrassment..."). I hope for your sakes he's right. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.


[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

If there are some readers out there that think my shtuff is worth a buck or three a month, color me honored, and grateful. Regardless, if you like it, could you please share it? There are buttons at the end of every column.]


©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

If you're reading this on my website (where there are tons of older columns, a glossary, and other goodies) and if you wish to react (way cooler than liking) -- please scroll down.









Saturday, September 16, 2017

George Stephanopoulos Never Sleeps

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Bloggaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original (above) to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"There is a time for many words -- and there is also a time for sleep." -Homer


Dear (eventual) Stickies & Great-Grandstickies,

Humbug Alert: Although I don't understand how he finds the time, to sleep I mean, I'm sure he does. Unless of course, genetically speaking, he is or has been upgraded. Are there H. sapiens 2.0 loose in the world? Perhaps he's a hologram or cyborg of some sort. Ooh, I know! maybe he's a...

Sorry, never mind. I'm wandering off already and all I wanted to say was this is week two of your friendly neighborhood Crank posting bogus titles in an effort to lure more readers. Poppa's gotta' eat while he waits for one or more of you to step up and supply the lifestyle I would've/should've had.

To wit, had I not been kidnapped by gypsies from my wealthy, aristocratic, but dissolute family. The tragic story that culminated with my "father" winning me in a poker game in Deadwood, South Dakota.

What this missive is actually about is what a lazy man I am and how I wish everyone else was as lazy as I am and how I suspect I'm not alone in that fantasy. And why, although I understand the need for, and the point of, productivity -- I wish over-achievers, like George Stephanopoulos for example -- would slow down and set a better example.


I'd lost track of Mr. S. (while I enjoy the way the name Stephanopoulos rolls off the tongue there's just no way I'm gonna' type it more than twice, told you I was lazy). To be honest, I haven't thought about him since the late nineties. Mr. S., my dear Stickies and any gentlereaders who may not be aware, made his political bones as a conflicted minion/wunderkind of the Hilliam.

He left the Clinton administration shortly after they were re-elected to work as a commentator for ABC news. I heard somewhere (I don't remember what the source was) that when his tell-all book came out late in the Hilliam's second term that some of the Hilliam's remaining minions referred to him as a common-traitor. For some unknown reason, this stuck in my head.

For another reason, a known reason, something else stuck in my head. More on that in a minute.

[Note: Hillary + William Clinton = (ominous organ chord) the Hilliam.]

Anyway, while I was a-googling for something else, I stumbled on the fact that Mr. S. is now an anchor for ABC's Good Morning America. And that he's the anchor of ABC's evening news show. And that he's the anchor of ABC's Sunday morning news show. What? no game show?

Phew!


Now, while I had a vague notion he was still affiliated with ABC, as what used to be real news on the talking lamp has devolved into infotainment, I've gradually, mostly, stopped paying attention.

Flipping the talking lamp back and forth between MSNBC and FOX news (as well as clicking back and forth between FOX news and USA Today online) suffices to provide me with an accurate snapshot of this particular aspect of the Information Industrial complex.

[The next paragraph, I admit, may be a bridge too far. However, I didn't have the heart to delete it because I really like it. Please feel free to skip it.]

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH: Calvin Coolidge said, "After all, the chief business of the American people is business." Nowadays. business, and politics, and, well, everdamnthing in America is show business. And because the talking lamp has spawned kabillions of electronic rectangles of all sizes, the show never ends.

Anyway, Mr. S. became a poster boy for over-achievers while I wasn't paying attention.


Which brings us to Cindy, the girl I sat next to in the eighth grade, and my first overachiever. Cindy, like me, was of average intelligence. Cindy, unlike me, worked her ass off to make up for it.

Still, she was a good friend and a nice person, but I found her diligence baffling. Why work so hard for good grades in mostly boring subjects when all you had to do was work hard enough to get at least a C? And I mean... it's the eighth grade, we're callowyutes!

In my defense: I was a daydreaming, rock n' roll smitten, sex-obsessed (not that I was getting any), introverted, novel reading product of working-class parents who required very little of me. Also, it was a different world. While I had no idea what I wanted to do, jobs were plentiful. I'd worry about that later. After all, I was bulletproof and going to live forever. What's the hurry?

[Any and all Stickies, please note, the previous paragraph does not apply to you. Please refer to your parents, or me if I haven't been deleted, for clarification. However, I highly recommend that you all seek the balance betwixt work and the rest of life that makes you happy content and not work all the damn time just because someone told you you're supposed to work all the damn time.] 


Which brings us back to Mr. S. When I stumbled on the fact he works three jobs I went looking further and (re)discovered that the book he wrote, the one that got him labeled a common-traitor? Well, he received an advance for it, nearly 20 years ago, of $2,800,00, and, it was a best seller. Of course, a million went a lot further in those days.

See, by then the Hilliam was world famous for their world class scandals -- e.g., "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." The world wanted to know what Mr. S knew about stained blue dresses, missing records that materialized out of thin air, and...

Well, it's quite a lengthy list and there are many books devoted to the subject if you were around but desire to be refreshed (gentlereaders) or weren't around but are curious what happened when the first boomer president (Slick Willie) stumbled into the White House.

This was the other factoid, referenced above, that got stuck in my head in the late nineties and was knocked loose when I accidentally stumbled on the fact Mr. S. doesn't sleep. I remembered thinking, at the time, that he was one fortunate son. A pile of dough to sit on, single, and a good gig to prevent having to touch the principal while he figured out when he wanted to pull the plug and go fishin'.


I'm older, slightly wiser, and know shtuff I didn't even think about in the eighth grade. I know that not being born into a rich family increases the odds that you'll not be a hooplehead. I know that anything worth actually having is worth working hard for. I know that a lot of things people think are worth working hard for are not.

I know that there's no such thing as a free lunch. I know that as a nation we all need to be willing to be at least as productive as necessary to maintain a country where the poor are fat and many of the 99% never stop whining about the 1% that pay nearly 50% of The Gummits tab.

I know that twenty years after Mr. George Robert Stephanopoulos was blessed with a golden ticket worth $3,000,000 (plus) I'd be willing to give up one of my less important body parts for $3,000,000 (without the plus).

I'd invest conservatively with a goal of making 5% interest so I could live on $100,000 a year (not exactly tough for a widower in Flyoverland), roll $50,000 over to keep the principal growing, and I'd leave half of it to my Stickies and half to homeless shelters.

Then I'd go fishin'. Told you I was lazy. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.


[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

If there are some readers out there that think my shtuff is worth a buck or three a month, color me honored, and grateful. Regardless, if you like it, could you please share it? There are buttons at the end of every column.]


©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

If you're reading this on my website (where there are tons of older columns, a glossary, and other goodies) and if you wish to react (way cooler than liking) -- please scroll down.
















Saturday, September 9, 2017

Bring Me the Head of Marie Osmond

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Bloggaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original (above) to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"I never had a sister growing up. Donnie was the closest thing." -Marie Osmond


Dear (eventual) Stickies & Great-Grandstickies,

Gentlereaders, humbug alert: I'm only kidding. I wish Ms. Osmond, whom I'm sure is a very nice person, nothing but the best, but those damn Nutrisystem commercials make me crazy. More on that in just a sec'.

My dear Stickies, this letter is primarily addressed to my gentlereaders. However, it may be of some use to those of you, that like myself, are historically minded. A sort of zeitgeist snapshot if you please.


Deceptive headlines that turn out to be clickbait have gone mainstream. I'm not talking obvious clickbait, that nowadays is anywhere and everywhere, I'm talking about headlines on mainstream sites that that turn out to be clickbait, but you don't know that until you click on the headline.

On the FOX news website recently was the following headline, "Madona Leaves America." I assumed this meant that she, unlike many of her colleagues who promised to do the same thing if the Donald was elected, was showing the courage of her convictions.

Or, perhaps the Secret Service took her announcement at the Pussycat Hat Protest, that she had been thinking about blowing up the White House, seriously, and had been harassing her. Nope, just clickbait. Turns out she's headed there for the time being to work on a movie and make "new music."

However, I highly recommend the article, it includes a must-see self-portrait. Ms. Madonna's creation is on a par with her best musical efforts.

Anyway, Ms. Madonna has parlayed (in my semi-humble opinion) limited artistic ability into mega-stardom by being a world-class exhibitionist. Is it too much to hope that an old fart (who is rapidly turning into a poster geezer for arthritis) might parlay his limited artistic ability into some dough by perpetrating a humbug or two?


For the sake of clarity, I must take into account that this may be read by one of my great-grandstickies long after I, or Ms. Osmond for that matter, are long dead. Also, I must assume, although I have my doubts, that it's at least theoretically possible that there are Earthlings, currently vertical and breathing, that haven't been subjected to one of these ubiquitous commercials.

I'm probably being overly cautious because I have it on good authority that a hologram of Ms. Osmond has not only been created, the programming and technology that powers it are regularly updated. Ms. Osmond -- like Elvis Presley and George Bailey -- could be worth more dead than alive, and shilling for Nutrisystem in perpetuity.


[Pray, enlighten us cranky one, why are you picking on this beautiful all American mother of eight kids, five of 'em adopted? asks Dana. Marie-Louise is wearing a certain smile and almost purring. She denies it but when it comes to other women she's about 50% feline. Iggy's in bed as it's a school night.]

I'm not picking on her, well, not exactly. It's those commercials, those damn commercials. I watch almost no broadcast/basic cable TV, mostly I monitor, at random, the alleged news channels.

Incidentally, did you know Al Sharpton, Al Sharpton of Tawana Brawley, taxes are for evil capitalists, not me, and a founding member of the International Union of Professional Perpetually Protesting Protestors & Perpetual Victims Of This, That, and the Other Thing (IUPPPP&PVOTTOT) has his own TV show?

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah, Nutrisystem commercials. I don't believe it's possible to watch the talking lamp for more than ten minutes without encountering:

Marie Osmond: "It's time to take control with Nutrisystem."

Announcer: "Introducing new Lean 13, from Nutrisystem. Lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches in your first month. Lose weight FAST. Money back guarantee.

Marie Osmond: "I'm Marie and I lost 50 pounds on Nutrisystem.

At this point, we see the obligatory before and after pictures. Before is Ms. Osmosd in a baggy purple top and denim jacket with a deer in the headlights sort of expression. After is Ms. Osmond in a form-fitting cocktail dress, hand on hips and smiling, her perfect teeth framed by preternaturally plump lips.

These are just the high points, but you get the idea. Now, the thing is...

[Waitwaitwait, I repeat, why are you picking on this beautiful all American mother of eight kids, five of 'em adopted? You're just jealous because she's a kabillionaire with a hit Las Vegas show and you're just a wannabe writer with arthritis and a Texas-sized prostate gland.]

The thing is, well, it's a three-for actually. America noticed, about a minute ago, that there are statues of dead people, most of whom almost nobody gave a damn about (the statues or the dead people) until a sudden outbreak of iconoclasm

In the Middle East ISIS, fired up by demented mullahs, revels in this sort of thing. In America, politically correct types, fired up by the Infotainment Industrial Complex (left and right division), revel in this sort of thing.

[What on Earth has that got to do with...]

Well...nothing really, but it's been really bugging me. Sorry, I feel much better now.

Oh, anyway, first, America has real problems that need to be addressed. We have devolved to the point where there's one minute of advertising for every two minutes of infotainment (half of 'em Nutrisystem commercials!) on the talking lamp. This in spite of the fact most folks pay through the nose for the only locally available cable company or have to sign a contract for satellite TV that only a Harvard Law School grad could make sense of.

As I said, real problems.

Second, sorry ladies female H. Sapiens, Nutrisystem will not enable you to look like Marie. Marie no longer looks like Marie. Nowadays, Marie looks like an animatronic version of Marie. She's, uh, had a little work done.

Third, the Nutrisystem system is a barely legal scam. Click on this headline, Drop 50 Now: Nutrisystem's Advertising Backed By Shoddy Science. 

Fourth: you may have noticed...

[You said it was a three-for...]

Bonus: you may have noticed the tiny messages that flash rapidly on and off at the bottom of the screen when Ms. Osmond is urging you to give the Lean 13 dealy a shot. Access the commercial via YouTube and hit pause every time the tiny message changes. This serves two purposes. Not only will you encounter some interesting facts, you'll develop your hand-eye coordination. The tiny messages pop up and vanish very quickly.


Warning: Possibly Outdated Cultural Reference Ahead

Most importantly, while Marie may, or may not, be a little bit country. Donnie is not, never has been, and never will be, a little bit rock n' roll.

However, banality does have its compensations. While Donnie's unlikely to ever be inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame (but who knows? Ms. Madonna was), copies of he and his sister are on display at the Las Vegas location of Madame Tussauds. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.


[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

If there are some readers out there that think my shtuff is worth a buck or three a month, color me honored, and grateful. Regardless, if you like it, could you please share it? There are buttons at the end of every column.]


©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

If you're reading this on my website (where there are tons of older columns, a glossary, and other goodies) and if you wish to react (way cooler than liking) -- please scroll down.










Saturday, September 2, 2017

Uncertainty Is the Only Certainty There Is,...

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Bloggaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original (above) to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened." -Montaigne


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies, 

"Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security." -John Allen Paulos. Mr. Paulos is a mathematician that looks like a mad scientist (in a good way).

This quote was the next to the last line of my last letter, The Only Thing That is Constant is Change. The subject of that letter was change, not uncertainty (it's not you, it's me). However, as promised, this letter is about uncertainty. It's inspired by the quote above, which, as you may remember, I admitted was about a kabillion times better than my lame version -- the only thing that's certain is uncertainty.

Full disclosure. I'm only vaguely aware of the work (literarily speaking only, I possess the mathematical prowess of fruit fly) of Mr. Paulos. However, he's on my list of people whose work I'll explore, eventually, maybe. Unfortunately, I'd have to live to the ripe old age of 300 or so to make a dent in the list, if I were to stop adding to it today.


"It's uncertainty that really makes us crazy" -me. Well, as it turns out, the fear of change can really make us crazy as well.

See, I originally began this part of the letter thusly: To one degree or another, we all make our peace with change. Ah, but uncertainty... But then I thought, no, wait a minute, I'll betcha a bottle a pop that there's a phobia. There's a phobia, metathesiophobia. 

I mention this because it's only fair. I don't know, but for all I know, there are people whose lives revolve around dealing with their crippling fear of change. I do know that I do know more than a few people who battle various and sundry anxieties all day, every day.

That said, with all due deference and empathy for all those who fear their personal demons might have a better chance of winning than I think/hope mine do, I maintain my original premise. For most folks, it ain't change, its uncertainty.


Which brings us back to -- to one degree or another, we all most of us make our peace with change. As I said last time, we don't necessarily care for a particular change but since changes are inevitable, right up to the very last one (deletion), you deal.

Also, when we get stuck in a rut we can't wait for a change or a least a happy distraction to come along. Hence, the popularity of vacations.

Ah, but uncertainty (change's cousin) and uncertainty's twin sibling, insecurity, those are world class anxiety generators for almost everyone.

Oh, before I forget... my dear Stickies you will, no doubt, encounter people who claim to love uncertainty and insecurity. They'll claim that they absolutely thrive on uncertainty and insecurity. They are either lying to you and/or themselves and/or have psychological problems.

I make no sweeping judgments. I've known some, um, very interesting people who make this claim. Just be careful. As always -- open heart, open mind -- but be careful.


If you're bored, you may actually go out of your way to drum up some change.

BIG BUT.

Suppose you're one of the lucky minority of people (roughly a third) that are "engaged" at work. I'm guessing you probably feel as though you're on the right path (certainty) and confident that you're unlikely to be laid off anytime soon (secure).

When folks are certain they've taken the right path or made the right choice and their feeling emotionally/financially/whateverly secure, they're unlikely to decide their good fortune is boring and decide to go for a walk at 3 A.M. down Crime and Drugs Avenue in search of adventure.

(Well, with the possible exception of some of those very interesting people I mentioned above.)

No, most of us would strive to seek out the version of a straight and narrow path that looks most likely to maintain our personal status quo. But shtuff happens.


Sooner or later, probably sooner, life's gonna' bite you on the ass. I'm not talking about the gentle nips we're all subject to from day one. I'm talking about the first time it feels like you've sat on a bear trap. If you're lucky this may not happen for awhile. For more than a few, it happens early and keeps on happening.

Regardless of how our particular life rolls out, we will all be introduced to uncertainty and insecurity. From an evolutionary/survival standpoint, this makes sense. Stay sharp and avoid being eaten. However, the consequences will be measured on the anxiety scale and range from mild to debilitating.

Whether God or evolution wired us this way, we're wired this way. Regardless of your level on the anxiety scale, regardless of what pushes your uncertainty/insecurity button, this is a game that can't be won no matter how hard you try. Happy, healthy, wealthy and wise people are dying slowly and painfully, or quickly and horribly, even as you read this.


Which is why, "... and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security."

Now, assuming that your anxiety level is (at least usually) and (at least mostly) manageable -- with or without professional assistance and/or pharmaceuticals:

1. Acknowledge/accept that uncertainty/insecurity, and the resulting anxiety, is part of the unchangeable nature of reality of life on Earth. Everyone's in the same boat, some just have nicer cabins than others. You're not gonna' wake up one day and be "cured." There is no cure, but you might just be able to generate a lower reading on the anxiety scale.

2. When you feel uncertain/insecure/anxious/etc. -- name it, then spit in its eye. "I'm feeling _______ because _______, so be it. I've been here before and I didn't die (or get eaten). I'll be here again." You can't make it go away; don't waste your energy trying. Identify it, call it out, take a deep breath or two and it'll lose at least half its power over you, maybe more.

3. Cultivate your own methods for stress reduction. I highly recommend going for a drive by yourself and singing an improvised operatic aria about the problem at full volume, but to each their own. Hint: keep the windows rolled up unless you're an opera singer in real life.

4. When you're not feeling uncertain/insecure/anxious/etc., take note, and be grateful. Think about this when you're feeling bored. Have you ever said, or heard anyone say, "My life sucks sweaty socks, I'm not feeling the least bit uncertain or insecure today."

5. There's more than one study out there that claims a moderate amount of anxiety is good for you.

6. If you go a-googling you will regularly encounter someone pointing out that scientific studies show that 85% (or some other number, but 85% is popular for some reason) of the shtuff we worry about never happens.

[Um, I was unable to verify that anyone has ever actually conducted such a study which makes sense when you think it through. How could you possibly/accurately determine what actually happened (or not)? It's the Information/Dizzinformation age, we're swimming in data, and yet people feel free to quote non-existent statistics. Now that worries me. Sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up, never mind, don't worry about it. Poppa loves you.]

Have an OK day.


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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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