Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Seven Virtues - New and Improved!

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and approximately 39.9% of all grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. 

                                                  Glossary  


                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast." -Buddha


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),


I wrote a series of letters about the seven virtues a few years back that was well received by my gentlereaders. I think that given the fact that what used to be called Western Civilization continues to be under attack on multiple fronts its time for an update. 


[Used to be called?]


Well, Dana, it is, as they say, complicated. 


It would take a very long essay for me to explain myself properly. Suffice it to say that when I recently had reason to enter the search term Western civilization into the Wikipedia search box I was presented with an article titled Western culture that begins by prevaricating, equivocating, and etceterating.


Hmmm... perhaps I screwed up.


As I was retyping in the original search term I noticed that Wikipedia helpfully offered up the search term Western civilization bias to save me some keystrokes. 


Clicking on their helpful shortcut brought up an article titled Eurocentrism which includes the words bias, colonialism, and imperialism in the first paragraph. 


[Oh... Well, why did you enter Western civilization in the first place? I mean...]


Background. 


I was thinking about providing more background than I had provided in the original version of this column. See, I was taught that the Seven Virtues were a very big deal, an important part (but now apparently just another "deconstructed metanarrative") of something called Western civilization. 


I was taught that I was both a product and beneficiary of this now revised meme. 

This was back at the tail end of the Black&White ages when I attended Catholic grade school. I was taught that there are four cardinal virtues and three theological virtues. Both kinds, I was told, were a very big deal.

I attended a public high school, and the theological virtues, for obvious reasons, were never mentioned. It occurs to me that neither were the cardinal ones.


                                                  *     *     *


The three theological virtues of the Catholic/Christian tradition, we were told, come from the grace of God. They’re sort of a list of the basic requirements that need to be met in order to live a Christian life while you’re here if you want to get your butt into heaven when you cross over to there.

They are faith (belief in God). Hope (the belief that you’ll make heaven if you live right). And charity, or love (love of God and everyone else, which implies it’s on you to be your sibling’s keeper).


Two quick points from your (technically) agnostic (it's complicated) Poppa.


One, note the simplicity. To hell (pun intended and embraced) with dogma wars. If you believe in God (which I personally think, although many do not, can simply be the higher power that saves drunks and druggies every day), follow a moral code and do what you can to take care of the other kids, you got this.


Two, It’s quite easy to secularize these three. If you don’t believe in God you can (and regardless, should) find something/someone to believe in and/or work towards. This will supply hope (and meaning) even when life is kicking you in the crotch. Finally, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This will make for a much nicer playground.


For the record, number two is a vastly oversimplified version of what I stole from the work of Dr. Deirdre N. McCloskey—polymath, and one of my heroeswho describes herself thusly:

“I’m a literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive-Episcopalian, ex-Marxist, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not ‘conservative’! I’m a Christian classical liberal.”

Dr. McCloskey was trans (and fully transitioned) long before trans was cool. And long before the Social Justice Warriors woke up and started identifying as this, that, and God only knows what other things.  

But I digress. 

The reason I’m writing about all of the seven virtues is because it's occurred to me that given the fact America, and a goodly chunk of the rest of the world, tossed the tot out with the jacuzzi water back in the 60s, perhaps we could find some guidance and common ground in all of them.


I believe that we react emotionally/instinctively/intuitionally first
rationally (hopefully…) later. While the former is an effective survival mechanism, the latter enables us to live together and, with a little luck, thrive instead of just survive. The creation of the seven virtues was the result of the applied reasoning of a lot of individuals who were smarter than I’ll ever be.

                                                  
*     *     *

The cardinal virtues are prudence (making good choices, wisdom), justice, temperance (restraint, self-control) and courage (not just bravery, refusing to define yourself as a helpless victim). There are all sorts of other virtues posited but these four were considered to be the foundation stones of a well-lived life in the Western tradition.


The Western tradition has nothing to do with cowboys or country music. It’s a term, now considered politically incorrect in many circles, that refers to a way of looking at, and living in, the world. 
It’s fallen out of favor for claiming (although it's admittedly flawed) that it's the best H. sapiens have come up with so far for how to share the playground. 

But, we’re now all one big happy global family; don't be a hater. Everything is like, relative, ya’ know? After all, the Western tradition includes all the evil dead white guys that ruined the world.

                                                    *     *     *

I’m a crank and I’m a libertarian. But, I hold some positions normally classified as conservative, others normally classified as progressive. I have a bias towards trying to discover what actually works and trying to discover how the left and right can compromise and peacefully share the playground.  


I’m a crank and I’m a follower of Taoism (an Eastern philosophy), but also a firm believer in most of the Western tradition. I think that the USA, a product of this tradition, though flawed (as is every-one and every-thing), rocks, and I’m glad and grateful this is my team.


I’m a crank. This is why I’m going to devote my next five letters/columns to restating my take on the cardinal virtues (you've been warned).


Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *     *     *


Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. Cranky don't tweet.





Saturday, October 26, 2019

Halloween, 2019

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay 

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and approximately 39.9% of all grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. 

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night.
Good Lord, deliver us!"


Dear Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

For the record, the quote above is a poem, or a (Scottish) prayer, or an anonymous children's rhyme of Scottish or Cornish or Welsh or Celtic origin. It depends on who you ask.

If it were my job to choose, I'd go with Scottish prayer because, well, because it pleases me, I have a poetic license—and it's my column.

Which reminds me, I need to get off the dime and ramp up my campaign. I'm running for king next year. You may have missed the announcement given that the obsessed purple press is about to begin year four of all, the Donald, all the time.

Anyways, I confess that the whatever it is that I quote above fascinates me. I've always liked it for its own sake. But then I went a-googlin' and discovered that everyone says or writes it the exact same way but no one is sure where it came from.

I think it reminds us that even in the Dizzinformation Age all facts—however useful, time-tested, corroborated, etceterated—are potentially provisional given that...


[FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Is Mr. Cranky suffering from a severe bout of dementia and wandering the streets of his neighborhood in a fugue state, peeing his pants, and asking the feral cats under the viaduct why they killed all the birds?]

Get a grip, Dana. I know perfectly well most of the birds have fled south, as I wish I could. Winter's here in Canada's Deep South (Ohio) are brutal.

[Fine then, could we move past the freakin' lame lyrical loopy introduction and get on with the show?]

Speaking of dementia, I've noticed that you seem to be losing your temper a lot more than usual lately. When was the last time...

Bam! (A door slams shut in my head.)

                                                     *     *     *

My daily morning and evening perambulations around the neighborhood I've lived in, but have mostly ignored for the past decade, detailed in Mr. Cranky's Neighborhood, continue apace.

Halloween's upon us and the leaves are dying. Climate conditions this year were such that they're not going out in a blaze of glory. More like a soft glow of pastel mediocrity.

Halloween decorations, some of which went up quite early—but not as early as miniaturized candy bars encased in holiday-themed plastic bags (same candy, different bags)—have appeared here, there, and even in that street half full of deserted houses way over there.

Also, orange Halloween lights—I try to hit the streets when the sun is almost gone, sunsets in the Flatlands of Ohio are normally only at their best for a brief time—while not commonplace, are also not rare.

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as Halloween lights and miniaturized candy bars were rare. Full-sized bars were the rule and the infidels that desecrated the holiday by handing out tiny candy bars were as reviled as the people that handed out fruit.

And no, it wasn't because of a fear of carefully hidden razor blades, it was because it was fruit.

Yes, even back in the Black&White ages that story, and variations of that story, were in circulation. I went a googlin' and discovered it's so common there's a Wikipedia entry about it.

                                                     *     *     *

The good news is that the Wikipedia entry, along with all sorts of other sources, have ruled that this myth is officially busted.

The bad news is that this urban legend has roots that extend all the way back to when candy started being made in factories, which according to this website, was as long ago as 1847.

"The inventor of 'chocolate for eating' is unknown, but in 1847 Joseph Fry discovered a way to mix cocoa powder, sugar, and cocoa to create a paste that could be pressed into a mold. The resulting Bar was a success."

"Candy from a factory, made by a machine? I'm stickin' with Mrs. McGillicuddy's hot chocolate. Lord knows what might be in that bar!"

The current kerfuffle concerning candy tampering commenced when I was a kid and coincided with the cultural chaos of the 60s and 70s that continues (alliteration rules! sorry...) to this day.

Although the stories have repeatedly been debunked, the legend, now more than 150 years old, lives on. Given the 24-hour news cycle, social media, and global terrorism it's not hard to imagine why. 

                                                   *     *     *       

In America, with the exception of certain pagans and a seemingly ever-diminishing number of Catholics, All Hallows Eve remains an unofficial and secular holiday even though it generates lots of profit, lots of jobs, and lots of fun.

Somehow, it's managed to avoid being turned into a Monday/three day weekend holiday even if some heretical communities celebrate it on a Friday or Saturday night.

Somehow, even public-sector unions haven't found a way to turn it into a paid holiday—for public-sector unions and no one else.

I've even heard rumors of places that don't have officially authorized hours for when ghoulies and ghosties are permitted to go trick or treating.

"Stop yer cryin' kid, rules are rules. If ya don't want yer candy confiscated ya gotta play by the rules. Hey, have your parents seen this costume? I mean..."

"Don't even go there, Ed, those rules are only for college students."

[Geesh, is there a point to this drivel?]

Dana, welcome back!

[Don't start, I...]

A point? I guess I'm just trying to say it pleases me no end that in America the busyiful we celebrate a holiday of (almost) no religious or secular significance primarily for the fun of it.

On a vaguely related note, I promise that if I'm elected king that I'll spend no shortage of political capital promoting the passage of the America's Closed on Sundays Just Because We Can Be amendment to the Constitution.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *     *     *

Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. Cranky don't tweet. 


 

 






Saturday, October 19, 2019

Democratic... Debates?

May You Live in Interesting Times


Image by florentiabuckingham from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and approximately 39.9% of all grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. 

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"It's not easy to be engaged in political debate when it is reduced to performers trying to outdo each other." -Alexandra Adornetto 


Dear Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

I am, at this point in my present sojourn on this low-level planet, a somewhat jaded and cynical Citizen of the Republic.

[What the hell are you on about now, old man?]

Older than many, younger than many, Dana. Old enough to appreciate the significance and importance of Benjamin Franklin's reply to Mrs. Powell's question.

[Who's Mrs. Powell and what was her question?]

Allegedly, Mrs. Powell was the woman who asked Franklin what the Constitutional Convention had cooked up. "Well, doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

To which he (allegedly) replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."

I use the word allegedly since the evidence of exactly what happened is thin and contradictory. However, it's what I was taught, and given the fact it should be true, as far as I'm concerned it's written in stone.

[With minimal respect, your garrulousness, what's this got to do with the Democratic debates?]

Twelve carefully coiffed and professionally made-up people standing on a stage and just itching for a chance to deploy one of their pocketful of carefully crafted, focus group tested sound bytes created by professional political guns for hire is not a debate...

It's just another (un)reality show.

[I see you're in search of setup, Sparky. I'll bite, what should we do?]

We don't. There's nothing to be done but enjoy the show and pray for divine intervention or whatever it is, that somehow, so far, has enabled the Republic to always come out smelling like a rose. Eventually. Once the smoke clears.

[Why are you so...]

The Founding Oppressive Patriarchs, not wanting a king, set up a system that included a relatively weak chief executive with a narrowly defined job description. Power is supposed to be wielded by the people's representatives, Congress.

Nowadays, as George Will has noted, Congress is more theatrical than actual.

Congress has an approval rating, as this is being written, of 18%. Historically speaking, they have a reelection rate of about 97%. If that doesn't call for a big fat WTF! (wow, that's freaky!) I don't know what does.


                                                  *     *     *

The presidency has degenerated into a cult of personality contest. All tribes and sub-tribes fixate on a messiah while demonizing all the other would-be messiahs secure in the knowledge that if they can get their guy canonized, heaven on Earth will commence directly.

[Well, maybe, but...]

The frontrunner of the week, Fauxcahontas (lawyer, 70, net worth $12,000,000) is formerly (that's so, like, last week) famous for claiming to have a significant amount of Cherokee blood in her veins so as to benefit from a homemade affirmative action program.

She's now becoming famous for spouting fountains of bafflegab when asked how she plans on funding her well-planned utopia without heavily taxing the middle class. It's a numbers thing, there aren't nearly enough evil rich folks to pay the tab.

There's still no such thing as a free lunch. A well functioning social democracy requires heavy taxes on as many people as possible to pay for all the free programs. If my fellow Americans want to go down this path, let 'em knock themselves out. 

However, tell us how much the easy monthly payment's going to be before we sign here and initial there, before we wind up with a political version of Bernie Madoff in the Whitehouse.

As for my favorite socialist, the other Bernie (78, net worth $2,500,000), given that he recently had a heart attack and has been a professional politician of minimal accomplishment for 99% of his adult life, Why hasn't he been voted off the island?

And leave us not forget Joe Biden friend of the working man born in hardscrabble Scranton, Pa (left when he was ten, lawyer, 76, net worth $9,000,000). Mr. Biden went to Washington. Mr. Biden should've had a more father-son conversations with his boy Hunter, who may have ruined dad's latest and likely last shot at the monarchy.

And how about...

It was at this point in my ruminations that I was struck stupid by a vision. 

I saw an, angel? An avatar of some sort materializing at the first debate between the Donald and... I couldn't make her out.

A drop-dead gorgeous, Bisexual Woman Of Color (she experimented in college but now is a faithfull mom of three married to a plumber of pallor), a BWOC, who appeared standing behind a podium of solid gold.

This persona had been tested and been rated Inevitably Electable (IE) by Frank Luntz, Swampmeister. Wikipedia: "Luntz's current company, Luntz Global, LLC, specializes in message creation and image management for commercial and political clients." 

The deliberately vaguely defined higher power (DVDHP) ain't dumb. It knows the current zeitgeist is one of all Showbiz all the time and is aware of the current importance of acronyms.

When the Secret Service rushed the stage they were repelled by an invisible barrier. A reporter (a plant hired by Luntz Global) shouted out, "Who are you, and where did you come from?!? She calmly replied that she's the embodiment of multiple statesmen that have appeared throughout history whenever America needed one.

"You can call me, Marie-Louise."

She said that she had been sent by the DVDHP to save us from ourselves since given the current state of the media, and the audience they pander to, a homegrown statesman is currently impossible.

Unable to control himself—having been temporarily taken possession of by the anti-DVDHP—an apparently biologically male member of the Righteous Resistance famous for his obnoxious personality leapt to his feet and demanded to know why she had used the words statesmen and statesman instead of statespersons and statesperson.

The IE-BWOC then pointed at the male member and a lightning bolt struck him in the chest. Fortunately, it was just a special effects lightning bolt, no more powerful than a Taser with depleted batteries. Just powerful enough to get everyone's attention.

The BWOC then said, "This is the sort of trivial, politically correct B.S. I'm here to put a stop to, honey. Anyone here have a real question?"

The Donald said, "Hey, Marie-Louise, sweetheart, how much for the podium, and what are you doing after the debate?"

Pandemonium ensued; I snapped out of it.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *     *     *

Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. Cranky don't tweet. 





Saturday, October 12, 2019

Two Reasons I'm Glad I'm Getting Old

Image by annayozman from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleated.
                  
This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and approximately 39.9% of all grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. 

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"To me, growing old is great. It's the very best thing—considering the alternatives." -Michael Caine


Dear Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

All of my life I've been hearing the cliche, you're only as young as you feel. This is utter nonsense. Nobody feels old.

You may feel older than a chronologically younger person than yourself.

Or, you may even feel older than a person that's older than you are (who, of course, should be old enough to know better).

As I've written elsewhere, but I'm too old to remember exactly where, that feeling of superiority, perhaps even contempt, that third graders feel for first graders, never goes away. The age gaps just widen, 8 is to 6 as 30 is to 20.

While you may be feeling your body's age—particularly once the inevitable long, slow decline sets in, or you're the victim of a string of serious medical problems and it feels like your body has turned on you—in your heart of hearts, you never get old.

You're still, fundamentally, you. You're still pretending to be the grownup they told you would be someday. They didn't tell you that you will always feel more grown-up than some, less than others, and that the game never ends... well, till ya meet your end.

[Um... while I agree that the above is probably true, your garrulousness, I fail to see what it has to do with why you're glad you're old.]

Well Dana, while it's one of those many life lessons that you might grasp intellectually as you begin racking up the decades, but odds are you're not going to really know the truth of it in your very bones if, and until, you become a sexy seasoned citizen.
 
[Uh huh... but I still don't see why...]

It makes me happy? It's very liberating. You're not seeing the big picture, the concept applies to everything. You're never going to be done. You're never going to be secure. You're never going to wake up one day and finally know what, it, is. No matter what you've got, even if it's more than you need, you're never going to stop wondering what's missing.

And you're never going to be old.

Once you truly know and accept this, it might change everything or it might change nothing (externally speaking), but it will change you.

[Okaaay... what's the other reason?]

                                                   
                                                   *     *     *

America's having an existential crisis, a cold civil war has broken out, cold enough to freeze The Gummit in place till at least November the third, 2020.

[This makes you glad?]

Look, While I'm concerned with what the future holds for my grandstickies, because who knows how the war will end, there's not that much I can do about it beyond cranking out these columns. 

The Millennials are slowly coming into their own, as far as who runs things, and the Boomers have slowly begun to fade away. There's about as many of them as there are Boomers and coming up behind them are the 91,000,000 members of Generation Z, the largest generation in American history.

Having recently turned 39 for the 27th time my use-by date is only about 13 years away. I may have a fixed income but I'm reasonably confident that the two subsequent generations I share a home with will make sure I'm not rendered homeless unless we're all rendered homeless.

So, here I sit in a comfortable office chair in front of a computer monitor, that in effect, is a magic window that looks out on to, well, everfugginthing there is or ever was.

But, not having been raised surrounded by screens, even if the entire nation experiences a version of the electrical insanity going on in the People's Republic of California, I will not be traumatized.

To my right is a bookshelf stocked with several key texts in the dead trees format to keep me amused. There's a library within walking distance stocked with same. There are 6.5 people outside my bedroom door who like me (most of the time) to talk to.

I wish I had a money bin, or more generous readers, or that someone would syndicate me but you can file that under woulda, coulda, shoulda. I'm a lucky sumbitch.

                                                  *     *     *

[Okay, but...]

Okay but nothin', let me finish, please. I'm slightly smarter than the a-ver-age bear, I was born only eight years after the last world war ended. I received twelve years of what used to be foundational American education just before Western Civilization started taking random potshots at its feet.

Nine of my 39 certified college credits were also accumulated before the Boomers took over and set the culture on fire.

I mention this because if you combine the above with the fact that I've been a voracious reader and a current events junkie since I was about ten years old you get an old dude with a halfway decent reality-based historical perspective, a currently unfashionable notion. 

Also, I've had, and understand the importance of, a grounding in the traditional liberal arts which are currently under attack by the armies of the woke.

                                               *     *     *

So here I sit, a well-informed spectator, watching the game. I'm hoping my team (The Fighting Enlighteneers) beats the other guys (The Squabbling Postmodernists), but as I've mentioned above there's not much I can do. I write, try to influence my dear grandstickies, hope to live long enough to meet my great-grandstickies, and enjoy the game.

And hope and pray Social Security and Medicare don't crash and burn.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *     *     *

Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. Cranky don't tweet. 





















                                             

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Do You Love Your Work?

Don't confuse your work with your job

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm dead.
                  
This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and approximately 39.9% of all grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. 

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"I am a friend of the working man, and I would rather be his friend, than be one.                                                                                        -Clarence Darrow


Dear Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

When I began this particular missive I had no idea what I wanted to write about but this is not particularly unusual. Just because I've made a personal commitment to writing a weekly letter doesn't mean I'm necessarily brimming with ideas and can't wait to start writing on any given day.

Regardless, I write nearly every day, even if it's only a few sentences. I do this for myriad reasons but I'll refrain from pouring out my psyche all over the page. Bottom line? It provides all sorts of mental/emotional/spiritual/etceteral health benefits at no charge.

Also, it somehow enables me to tap into something that I can't possibly explain with mere words. Ain't that ironical. 

I've recently made the mistake of re-researching how to make money from wordsmithing, looking into the subject more deeply than I ever have before.

Suffice it to say I've once again abandoned my novel. All the life lessons I would have you learn, carefully disguised in a (hopefully) entertaining bit of fiction, have been put back on a virtual shelf.

Sorry, it looks like you'll have to mine my weekly missives if you're interested in unearthing a nugget or two of useful information.

This is not as mercenary as it sounds. I've made, literally, less than a hundred bucks for my work since I began writing this weekly whatever it is four years ago but it's never occurred to me that I should give it up.

Trust me, I'd absolutely love to make a pile of dough for my efforts. I've tried various methods to turn my words into cash. The campaign continues apace.

But I'm sure you (possibly from me), and my gentlereaders, have heard the cliche that if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life.

It's true.

The bad news is there's a very good chance you won't get paid for your work. But even knowing what your work is, and having the opportunity to do it, is a blessing.

[Could you be a little more vague? What does any of this blather have to do with the title Your Garrulousness?]  

Dana emerges! In fact, I wrote a column (a hobby that turned into my work, these letters) on this very subject quite some time ago.

What would I have you learn, Dorothie's?

                                                     *     *     *

Strive to become skilled at something the world is willing to pay you for and is likely to keep paying you for down the road, that you don't hate, and your life will be a lot more pleasant than otherwise. But there's a good chance it won't be your work.

Your work is something you'll keep doing anyway because you almost have to and it will keep your soul from slowly evaporating as you age. Your work can be almost anything—you'll know it if you're lucky enough to find it.

[Wait-wait-wait, what's this got to do with you dropping the ball, or should I say the keyboard, as far as your novel is concerned?]

The novel's not my work, I thought I had found a job that might possibly lead to me and mine making some cold hard cash. Every time I start working on it again it quickly becomes a job that I don't much care for.

And that would be fine—I've had more than one of those, but I knew what the payoff was and I did what I had to do to take care of business. At this point, the reader might go back to the part about learning a skill the world's willing to pay for.

BIG BUT... even getting signed by a well-known publisher doesn't ensure that two, three, or more years of intellectual bloodletting will result in more than chump change.

I've read articles by compulsive novel writers that have a published novel out there, and two or three more in a drawer, that haven't made enough money to fund a vacation from their day job.

But they continue writing novels, or _______, for the same reason I continue writing my column. There are other forms of compensation besides money.

                                                   *     *     *

I'm doubly blessed.

We share, my Dear Stickies, and have for quite some time, a home. I know that's unlikely to last as you're all headed towards gruphood at the speed of life. But hopefully, one or two of my less annoying attributes are/will be of some assistance to you now and in the future.

And while I've yet to make more than a few bucks for my efforts, I, like serial novel writers who have also have been denied both fame and fortune, love my work.

And just like them, and lottery players everywhere, in my heart of hearts I know that I'm going to wake up one day and discover I have the golden ticket.

You gotta play to win, right?

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *     *     *

Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. Cranky don't tweet.






   


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Mr. Cranky's Neighborhood

Image by Prawny from Pixabay



If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't, yet) — the Stickies  to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.
                  
                        This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens 
        Perusal by callowyutes may result in psychological, etceteralogical triggering. 

                                                 Glossary  

                                                   About

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Star: Dana — A gentlereader

"I guess when you turn off the main road, you have to be prepared to see some funny houses." -Stephen King


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

I've recently begun walking around my neighborhood. I've lived in this neighborhood for better than a decade but have never done this before. I'm a card-carrying suburban boomer with rural certifications. Suburban boomers drive. S'boomers live in developments/subdivisions/townships — not hoods.

They don't normally go for walks either, not in the traditional sense. When they do they're usually equipped with water bottles to remain hydrated as they navigate through tricky subdivisions that often contain lengthy, unmarked dead ends.

Carrying ballast to keep from tipping over, they walk briskly while pumping or swinging their arms purposefully. After a sensible dinner.

In the 'burbs, full speed jogging is usually done in the middle of the night by one-percenters, or wannabe one-percenters, so that our hero can get a jump on normal people before beginning their 16-hour workday. Exploiting the 99% takes a lot of time and energy.

Although, technically speaking, I live in a small incorporated town, which in the Flatlands of Ohio are called cities, to me it's a 'burb. I spent the first 12.75 years of my life living in inner-city Pittsburgh (with an h) in neighborhoods where yards were generally small to nonexistent and trees, except for parks, were few and far between.

From my personal perspective, I don't live in a city, it's a crowded suburb.

The yards, for the most part, are small, but almost everyone has one, and there's enough grass to require regular cutting. There are hedges and edges to be trimmed and weeds to be wacked. Almost everyone has a driveway and garages are commonplace.

People don't usually park on the street (in some neighboring "cities" it's illegal to do so) and nobody has to mark their territory (parking spot) with milk crates, retired kitchen chairs or the like and be prepared to defend their territory to the death (or at least till someone calls the cops).


                                                      *    *    *

I confess I'm not a big fan of the Buckeye state. I've been living here temporarily for 34 years. It's me, not them. It's never felt like home. I felt more at home during my brief sojourn in the sunbelt that I ever have here.

But the thing that I love about my neighborhood is the trees.

It's a very old neighborhood full of architecturally unremarkable, modest homes once mostly inhabited by barely middle-class employees of local steel mills and factories that are mostly gone.

Now it's inhabited by retired former employees of local steel mills and factories that are mostly gone, and younger H. sapiens that haven't fled to points south of the Mason-Dixon, at least not yet.

And hooge "perennial plants with elongated stems, or trunks, supporting branches and leaves"—which is how Wikipedia describes trees—of all sorts.

                                                   *     *     * 

True, and newer, suburbs may have larger yards, houses, and incomes but often the trees have been redlined, restricted to their own neighborhoods. The trees, if any, are usually saplings or not much more than saplings (teen trees?). My modest neighborhood has enormous trees and lots of 'em. Far more birds than people live here.

Although the bottom third of my county consists primarily of tiny cities and realburbs, the rest is mostly rural and chock full of farms (and trees). This is why occasionally eagles, hawks, and falcons can be spotted soaring overhead.

"Honey, have you seen the cat?"

There are at least two owls that live in or near my neighborhood. I've never seen them but I hear them almost every day. I assume they're warning each other to keep to their own turf or things will get ugly.

[Hey, nature boy, have you received a commission from Dodging Death Digest?

No, Dana, I'm painting a charming foundational, literary picture of my neighborhood, for what follows.

What started out as a way to get some much-needed exercise without going to da'mall and joining my fellow geezers and geezerettes walking in circles around the local consumer cathedral like a secular version of devout Muslim pilgrims circling the Kaaba, got me thinking. 

One day it occurred to me, it's 2019 in America, where are all the protesters?

                                                     *     *     *

My neighborhood is top-heavy with old people that, like me, worked full time for 45 years or more. Some are still working, as I would be if not for the blessing of being part of an extended family of three generations living in our large, old drafty house.

We don't own our home—in fact, if we ever find a way to swing it we'll be headed for North Carolina—but most of my neighbors do.

Beginning in the late seventies, shortly before I was lured to Canada's Deep South by my late wife (it's complicated) the factories and the mills began shutting down or moving away.

The tiny city I currently inhabit was still thriving when this started happening and many of the old people (people my age) still living here who were relatively young at the time, had tough, physically and mentally (ever work the line?) demanding jobs.

But a lot of these jobs paid fairly well, traditionally were fairly secure, and a lot of these people had bought homes—unaware of how fast and how far things were going to fall.

Not exactly an easy life but with a little luck—if the job or some bug didn't kill you first you could do 30 and out and finally fix up that tiny yard, maybe get a camper—although you might need a part-time gig to make ends meet.

Everyone knows what happened next (or should). Bottom line: a whole lot of folks are now living in modest houses, that may or may not be paid for, in various states of repair or disrepair.

Some get full pensions, most a fraction of what they thought they would eventually get when they were busting their butts back in the day.

There's no shortage of empty homes that won't sell. There are a few abandoned houses that should be torn down, and it shouldn't be so hard and expensive to make this happen.

                                                   *     *     *

The yards, for the most part, are small, but almost everyone has one, and there's enough grass to require regular cutting. There are hedges and edges to be trimmed and weeds to be wacked.

Just about every street has a retired guy with a riding lawn mower that cuts the grass of the houses that won't sell if the owner can't be bothered keeping up the yard work.

Bird feeders need to be maintained, hips and knees replaced, grandkids babysat. Everyone knows someone that was killed by and/or is being treated for Cancer. But no one is blocking Main Street and demanding The Gummit do something. Too busy. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *     *     *

Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. 

Cranky don't tweet. 

  
















 





   

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Cars (Pt. 3 of 3)

Image by Emslichter from Pixabay

Or, Self Indulgent Nostalgia Series (S.I.N.S) No. 5

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


[The following missive is rated SSC (Sexy Seasoned Citizens). If read by grups or callowyutes it may result in psychological/emotional/etceteralogical triggering.]


                                                 Glossary  

                                                   About

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Star: Dana -- A gentlereader

"I had to stop driving my car for a while... the tires got dizzy." -Stephen Wright


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& gentlereaders),

Our boring old man story thus far...

In part one I talked about the fact that for the first 12.75 years of my life cars were of little importance as I was living in inner-city Pittsburgh (with an h) at the time and it was possible to secure the basic necessities of life (physical, emotional, and psychological) on foot or via cheap and easily accessible public transport.

[That's quite the opening sentence, Sparky.]

Thank you, Dana. I summed up an entire letter/column in just 61 words.

[I was being sarcastical I...]

I would've never guessed. In part two I described my family's decamping to the 'burbs and the fact that cars, or rather the fact we didn't have one, became very important.

Next, me and mine moved to suburban (nearly rural) Philadelphia and joined forces with my big brother Ed and his family. I now had a drivers license, a car, and a job.

The job was working at the small supermarket where my brother worked as the meat department manager and alleged heir to the throne.

He was busting his butt because he'd been told by the owners, Yano and Hack 'n' Slash, that he was accumulating sweat equity towards eventually owning the store. It never happened; it's complicated. I'd wish them well but their both dead.

Anyways, having a car and a little money took the edge off of spending my last year of public high school at an institution that was a giant step backward from the sophisticated high school I had attended for the previous three years.

The one in the Pittsburgh (with an h) suburb we couldn't really afford to live in and had so much trouble getting around in because we didn't have/couldn't afford a car.

                                                       * * *

Now securing provisions no longer involved a long walk to the bus stop, a relatively lengthy bus ride, shopping, a relatively lengthy bus ride, and a long walk home.

[And yes, I also walked five miles to school through blizzards, uphill both ways.]

Sweet.

However, the best part was being able to drive where I wanted to when I wanted to -- within certain limits -- till I moved into my own apartment once I had that last year of high school under my belt and 25 hours per week became 40+ hours per week.

My first car, a '62 Buick LeSabre, got about 10 mpg, but gas was about 29 cents a gallon at the time, so who cared? It also had wing windows, which are long gone and which I still miss, and could seat six comfortably, eight in a pinch. My friends called it the Road Grader.

I turned a modest profit by renting out the truck to Vietnamese refugee families.

[Are you trying to get us dragged in front of the Intersectional Inquisition?]

Please! I still maintain contact with some of 'em. They loan me money with no interest when I'm in trouble because they feel sorry for me. Some of their grandkids are suing Ivy League schools to overturn the bias against Asians that make the rest of us look stupid and lazy.

 [OMG! You are trying… Wait, orange?]

Actually, I think Oompa Loompas deserve some sort of affirmative action program. Ever since the Donald got elected hate crimes targeting little orange people of color are off the chart. 

[But the Donald is tall and his hair is yellow, not green.]

Obviously, he’s the result of a mixed marriage. Didn’t you know that his…

[Can we move on, please?]

                                                     * * *

One of my favorite car memories from this period involves driving through, and hanging out in, beautiful Valley Forge State Park where there were lots of beautiful young women, weather permitting.

Another was driving to the King of Prussia shopping mall to hang out because the place was full of beautiful young women regardless of the weather

Another was driving to...

[I think they can suss out the theme you're developing, Sparky.]

Sparky? Since when...

[I suppose next we're going to be treated to wild-eyed, exaggerated stories about your romantic prowess/adventures?]

Sadly, no.

I was even more introverted then than I am now. While not all that shy nowadays, I was very shy back then. And, never having been either a sex or a success object my love life has been a rather modest one.

Besides, there are all sorts of people still alive who knew me at the time, I'm not that old yet, so...

However, being young during the sexual revolution and the age of the mini-skirt, when rock 'n' roll peaked -- and before the AIDS plague broke out -- was, well, very cool. Glad I was there even if I was a bit player.

Anyways, I picked up enough so that once I eventually had two intense three-year relationships and then a 21-year marriage to my late wife I was able to appreciate that the best sex occurs within a committed relationship.

[Whoa... too much information. Wait a minute, isn't the subject of your boring interactions with cars supposed to be the subject at hand?]

Well, yeah, but I'm famous for charming digressions and occasional wonderings down Memory Lane.

[I guess that's one way of looking at it.]

Driving on...

                                                     * * *


Once I got a taste of the freedom and independence cars provided I was hooked. Since then I've devoted a great deal of time, money, and trouble to making sure I owned a car.

There have been times when cash flow problems, coinciding with expensive car repair problems, generated temporary transportation crises.

There was a time or two when these given crises went on long enough to result in life-altering changes of direction (pun intended and embraced).

However, my desire to own my own car was only reinforced. My Dear Stickies, you may have trouble relating to this but that's because your parents and I have gone to a great deal of trouble to make sure you take all sorts of things for granted.     

Millennials and Generation Z, I'm lead to believe, particularly the urban versions, don't love cars the way we Boomers and Xers did and do. But after all, life as we know it will be over in 12 years without a Green New Deal, a little less than that now.

Cars, we are told, in spite of the fact we now have corn-fed and/or battery-powered ones that depend on subsidies and Rules&Regs issued by The Gummit, are one of the reasons we find ourselves on the road to perdition.

However.

That nine-day road trip that me, Ron, and Freddie took to Disneyworld in the late seventies (a sort of workingman's Spring break) -- wherein Fred's car was a vital member of the team -- would not have attained its mythical status without an Oldsmobile Omega.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *    *    *

Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. Cranky don't tweet.