I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful. Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead.
— Ernest Hemingway to Arthur Mizener, 1950 Selected Letters, p. 694.
I, too, do write for myself and her but as much or more for the rest of the world–who I want to share my thoughts, my life, my experiences and my philosophy with.
GIF from Els Jacob, shared publicly on Google + at https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-nZ9CCiHwtGg/VBP3tMyqIyI/AAAAAAAA1EY/OG-mR-J1wLo/w346-h282-no/download_20140913_081016.gif
Technology offers new adventures for the writer—venues for commentary and simple observations. On Google + a GIF of a cat, forepaws atop a low patio wall, watches grass skirt clad dancers perform a hula. The cat, wearing a lei around its neck, keeps time with the dancers, butt swaying to and fro. With CGI and various apps, the short video is undoubtedly skillfully enhanced. In any case, it suggests a story title—“The Cat Who Danced.” Tell your story via YouTube or create a video trailer for your magnum opus. Use Vine, Instagram, Pinterest or any of many other apps. Or even tweet about it. For myself, I must confess being on my way to curmudgeonhood. Much as I am willing to embrace technology, Twitter is a bridge too far; a waste sending or receiving. On the receiving end a useless distraction of ill-thought out observations which are often TMI on personal topics or wind up requiring retraction amidst the consequences of the tweet or when the sender comes to his or her senses. On the sending end, too tempting to send out rants of my own, unthinking, only to regret them later. A many decades old saying from the last century, “better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak and remove all doubt,” could be updated to the 21st by substituting “tweet” for “speak.”
Something new that will be repeated–the occasional book review. This review originally appeared on my Goodreads page.
I loved it. It’s a great narrative, with entertaining and interesting conversations with people all along the route from Key West to Deadhorse. The political observations were spot on. The running commentary on Fred (the Tundra) and Ethel (the Airstream) were funny, especially for someone like myself who has had the experience of once being a newbie at traveling with an RV–not exactly the same as a trailer but most of the same issues with refrigerators, hookups, etc. We also have had the experience of traveling with dogs and the challenges that poses, when going to new and out of the way places. Having lived in big cities for years and now living in a small town in the Southwest, the friendliness and openness of the latter is something Caputo captured. Probably most of all, I liked the style, the feel of this book. This is what Caputo does best; it his journalistic background. The mystifying thing is the ostensible “expert” Vine reviewers on Amazon–one calling it a biography (?!) and another saying Caputo has ventured into the “travel genre.” I would suppose, but maybe I am ignorant of current genre parlance, that “travel” would mean a guide to locales to visit. That’s NOT what this book is. Nor is it anyone’s biography. What it is, is a very intriguing look at the question Caputo tried to pose to everyone–what holds America together (if anything) across the very disparate cultural enclaves from the furthest south to the furthest north.
Buckminster Fuller thought, some time ago now, that we should do away with the notion that everyone must earn a living. It’s a good thing my son never read this; it would only confirm his own views on the matter. An inveterate Star Trek devotee, he believed for some time (perhaps he still has a lingering hope) that the time would come when all would be provided by replicators. No need to work to get your food, your clothes or any other items to satisfy needs or wants—just make your selection on the replicator and out pops your stuff. Let’s not even go there in discussing the conservation of matter and energy; just consider the missing logical steps like: Who builds the replicators? Who fixes them? Who supplies the energy (and matter) required to power them? Hah, just little details. Fuller meant, of course, that people should be free to pursue creative endeavors rather than having to punch clock at a job. That the efficiencies of technology should aid in the process of transitioning from a mercantile/manufacturing economy to something more free. In truth, today there are a great many people who do not “work” in the traditional sense of producing goods or services that add value to society—they work on Wall Street as investment bankers, hedge fund managers, arbitrageurs, etc.
In ISIS controlled territory within Syria, women are required to be covered from head to toe. Among the five Arab countries participating in strikes on ISIS positions within Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent squadron leader Major Mariam Al Mansouri on the bombing run. Learning of this must set the hair aflame on the heads of the ISIS wackos. Western news media, in the meantime is happy to supply the story. See more on this from the New York Times.
Hope is a town in Arkansas, birthplace of Bill, that American president of a few terms ago. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” the Clinton theme song, expressed how he turned his birthplace into a virtual motto—a cris de couer for all that needed doing, that needed fixing. Bill had hope. He passed it on. Many people had it when Barack Obama took office. Not so many among the GOP, of course. Fewer now than in 2008, even among some fellow Democrats. But that is the way of politics and of people. Many prefer to look to others for hope and inspiration. To look to others for the solution to all that ails them, spiritually, economically and otherwise. A foolish thing to do, that, expecting others to be one’s salvation. More often than not, such misplaced reliance leads to disappointment. Better to find hope within. Better to have faith that through one’s own thoughts and one’s own efforts whatever obstacles one may encounter can be overcome and one’s goals accomplished. Scary though it may be, having such self-reliance, it is and always will be not simply the best way but the only way likely to succeed.
Like many workplaces, my office had a refrigerator in which the cubicle farm dwellers stored the lunches, snacks or drinks they brought from home. Most labeled their containers, of course, but that never kept the poacher’s paws from what he or she found palatable—and free. One could never manage to connect the thief to their booty, let alone catch them in the act. They knew better than to leave telltale evidence in their own cubicle. I’m not proud of my response, but it proved effective in foiling the thefts. As parents of young children at the time, we always kept a small bottle of ipecac in the medicine cabinet—in case one of them swallowed something they shouldn’t. I withdrew a quantity of the syrup and injected it through the navel of an orange. Sure enough, the orange disappeared from the office refrigerator. Soon after the poaching stopped.
In 2008 and again in 2011, I posted commentaries on 9/11. It is time to do so again, adding a different perspective. At the outset, I offer my profound sympathies to those who lost friends and loved ones to the actions of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist followers. Today it is ISIS or ISIL who would target America as well as people of Iraq and Syria. While death comes to us all, it is disturbing when it comes unnaturally at the hands of another. From my Buddhist perspective, this is a function of karma–the effects one receives as a result of causes one has made. Calvinists might have a different perspective–predestination or what others call fate. It seems preferable to the minds of most, I suspect, to absolve the victims of any blame and place it squarely on the terrorists who commandeered the planes and flew them into their targets. Blame is undeniably correctly put on the terrorists but that is missing the point–they are the instrumentality of one’s karma. There are those people who rush to get onto a plane that turns out to have a mechanical problem that causes it to crash, killing all aboard. At the same time, others are delayed by traffic and miss the plane. Different than a terrorist plot? Yes, in terms of how it happens but not in result. Continue reading →
I rant about stuff from time to time; often politics. But as a public service, I must warn you about Samsung. They do make wonderful products and seem to have a significant market share in televisions today. But woe unto you if something goes wrong with one of their TVs. In 40+ years of adult life, their customer service is the worst I have ever experienced with ANY product from ANY company. I bought a 64-inch plasma 3D that was delivered on January 8 of this year. It was a great TV while it lasted–about 6 months. Then it abruptly failed, on July 6. It took two weeks of calls (5 of them) to have my request for help forwarded to the national service contractor that assigns technicians. They called me in a few days, said they would get back to me with a service date. They didn’t call. I called Samsung back and learned the request had been cancelled by the contractor. That is when I learned of the invisible asterisk in Samsung’s warranty. You will get in-home service for their wide-screen TVs ONLY if there is an authorized service center within a 25-mile radius of your home. So if you live outside a major metropolitan area–you are out of luck and out of service. Any guess how much geography this includes west of the Mississippi and east of California? Continue reading →
“Age is not an excuse for giving up. Allowing yourself to grow passive and draw back is a sign of personal defeat. There may be a retirement age at work, but there is no retirement age in life.” Daisaku Ikeda
Sometimes referred to as the “Third Age,” retirement is when we get to do those other things we didn’t get to do while we were working. It is not the time to sit on the porch in a rocking chair. That is the way to an early death. Sure, for those who have spent decades at a physically–or even mentally, demanding job there may be a reason to seek some rest and relaxation. Still, the mind and body must remain active. For me it is in writing–expressing my thoughts and experiences in the hope that they will encourage, inform or entertain others.
Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions