History Repeats

      1 Comment on History Repeats

I’m not much of one for passing along quotes I find on the net or in e-mail, but this one really caught my attention. And yes, I bothered to check it out on Snopes to make sure it’s real.

Why of course the people don’t want war… Naturally… That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

-Hermann Goering


      2 Comments on Stonehenge

I actually saw Stonehenge in person two weeks ago. Rolling green hillsides and these massive stones balanced on end, very impressive. At the site, a tour guide talked about a nearby Woodhenge. Honest, I’m not making this up. I can only speculate that we will soon find where the third little piggie made Strawhenge, only to have it be blown away by the Big Bad Wolf.


      2 Comments on Panhandling

A friend and I were walking through a downtown area when the topic of panhandling came up. We had been hit up for sidewalk tolls several times, as seems to be routine in any major city these days. I wondered aloud what unconscious guideline dictated my own response to these solicitations, what subtle gesture would spur me to capitulate and cough up some money and what strategic error from the requester would yield a cold look and unbroken stride. Was I more or less giving now than when I was younger? (More, I think.) Was I more likely to give to someone walking around, or someone who has taken up residence on a blanket with a clever sign and a dog by his side? (The walker, it seems.) Does having a $1 coin in common circulation increase how much you’re likely to donate to a panhandler? (Yeah, totally.)

After idly talking about this for a couple of blocks, my friend reached into her purse and gathered some change. “Has all this talk made you feel guilty?”, I asked. “Yeah, I think so,” she said. “I’m going to give this to that guy across the street.” As the light changed and we started crossing the intersection, I spotted the guy she meant, an older man with a dilapidated mustache and wizened skin. He was holding a paper cup in front of his chest and watching the sidewalk traffic. “Here you are,” she said as she dropped her change in his cup. I noted more of a “splish” sound, as opposed to the expected rattle of change. “That was my drinking water”, the man said quietly.

She said a mortified “I’m sorry” and we tried to move along as quickly as possible. In the future, perhaps a key factor should be whether the person actually asks for any money.

Tying a bowline

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I was sailing on the Monterey Bay this afternoon. The first half hour out on the water, the wind was just dead. We were tossed about by the waves, pulled out by the tides, and basically sat about waiting for some wind. I decided to practice my knots on the end of the jib sheet that I was supposed to be tending, if there had been any wind to fill it. Since someone had just refreshed my memory of the bowline, I started with it.

“Let’s see… the bunny comes out of the hole, around the tree and back down the hole…” After a couple of false starts, I pulled the ropes taut and had a real, solid bowline! Cool! I started to turn to my boatmate and show off my accomplishment. In that very second, I had a clean image of Chief Brodie successfully tying his first bowline and showing it to Quint and Hooper just as the boat is attacked by the shark.

I decided to keep my rope trick to myself.

By the short hairs…

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Allow me to wax rhapsodic about having short hair. Really short hair. 1/8″ long kinda short hair. Bzzzzz…

I first “took it all off” about three years ago. I came home late from a hard day at work only to remember I had plans out with friends that evening. And my hair looked like crap, and I had just zero energy to deal with it. So, I mulled this over while I had a drink. Hmm, I had thought about buzzing my hair before. I have a beard, so I already had the necessary trimmer, and I could even see this strategy where I would start with the longest trimming guide (like 1.5″) and see what that looked like, and then the next shortest, and then the next, until I could find something I kind of liked. Another drink, and I had swallowed all the courage I needed.

So, as per plan, I started with the longest trimming guide and buzzed my hair to 1.5″ all over. Well shoot, that wasn’t so dramatic. My hair was reasonably short already, so in some places 1.5″ didn’t take anything off at all. Did I have another drink at this point? I’m not sure. But, for some reason it seemed to be a good idea to jump immediately to the shortest trimmer guide next. *grin*

Now that is short! For the first ten minutes I don’t think I could stop running my hand over my scalp. It’s like when you lose a tooth and your tongue unconsciously pokes at the empty socket. I was amazed by the short fuzzy nap, and I could feel every little tickle of air blowing over my scalp.

So, late for dinner, shy over my baby-white scalp, curious about the reactions I’d get, I rushed out the door. I was the last person to arrive at the restaurant, and as I sat down at the table, conversation stopped as people turned to look. The girl directly across the table from me, the wife of a co-worker, exclaims, “Wow, I dig your scar!” Now, I’ve had this inch-long scar over my right (starboard) eyebrow since I was about 5 years old (car accident when I was a pup), and no one has ever said a single word to me about it until that night. Apparently scars go with shaved heads. All I needed was a big hoop earring to complete the pirate look, I guess.

So, it’s been three years now, and I’ve cheerfully kept my hair short since that time. You can’t beat it for low-maintenance, out-of-the-shower-and-run, no muss, no fuss. I like that it makes me look more butch; with my sunglasses and knit skullcap I can pull off a Jean Reno look a la The Professional. And I love that girls seem eager to run their hands across my scalp to see how it feels. “Oh well, if you must, go ahead.”

Irregular blogging

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Well, I haven’t updated this in far too long. What’s new?

I made that trip to Memphis that I talked about in my previous post. My uncle looked like he had aged 15 years. Quite frankly, I don’t expect him to last through the summer. Sigh. I think this is the first family death I’ll experience that isn’t due to old age. This is a man in his fifties, a retired firefighter with two grown sons and several infant grandchildren he adores. He would make a shirt just so he could give you the shirt off his back. Life isn’t fair, and death doesn’t look much better. :-/

Work is overwhelming at the moment. This project I’ve been working on still isn’t done, so I’m entering the second month of working too many hours, working weekends, and generally being exhausted. It’s going to end soon, at which point I hope to collapse.

I’m going to take additional sailing classes this summer, continuing the same program I started last summer. It all starts on 7/22, not a moment too soon. I’m repeating the “Intermediate Sailing” class, which is still in the 14-foot dinghies with a mainsail and a foresail. After that there’s two weeks of “Beginning Keelboats”, which moves up to the 34-foot sailboats. Should be fun. The only downer is the timing. My project at work should be wrapping up just as the class begins. So, just when I’d like to leave town (and work) on vacation, I need to hang around for a month of classes. Still, I don’t suppose one can complain about having to hang around for sailing.


      No Comments on Worrisome

I found out last night that my uncle is in the hospital awaiting a biopsy for a “mass on his pancreas”. Officially, we’re not supposed to worry until we have the biopsy results back. Unofficially, well, we’re very worried. So, a trip back to Memphis seems to be in my immediate future.
It was tough getting to sleep last night, thinking about this. I’m going to try to get out of the house today, keep myself upbeat. considering how nice it was yesterday, perhaps a trip to Santa Cruz is in order. Sunshine, watch the surf for a while, lunch at Vasili’s, walk the strip. Mmmm, candied orange peels covered in dark chocolate from Marini’s.


      No Comments on Eureka!

After careful thought, I’ve decided my favorite scientist is Archimedes. He did his best thinking in the bathtub, and when he finally solved his problem, he went running down the street naked.

Design Exhibit

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The Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam recently had an exhibition on the American Streamline design movement of the 1930s. The exhibit drew a connection between improvements in production technologies that allowed a consumer good to be sheathed in a housing unrelated to the device’s function, the evolution of art deco design, and the birth of modern American advertising which aims at creating consumer appetite moreso than promoting a particular product.

All of the exhibit displays were decorated with catchphrases from this confluence of events:

  • consumption standardizes people
  • brokers in beauty
  • culture is the result of more satisfying combinations of consumption
  • create a demand
  • design sells production
  • the happiness machine
  • the quest for the new
  • democratize desire
  • rituals of sumptuousness
  • sell them hope and you won’t have to worry about selling them goods
  • mass consumption
  • the rise of modern ways
  • the road of the people’s wants
  • satisfying human wants
  • all you desire if yours now
  • witch directs energy towards fulfillment
  • the land of wish
  • every new product modifies the direction which culture takes
  • produce the necessary illusions
  • educate desire
  • our store is five miles of golden chain
  • society progresses from a simple to a varied consumption
  • desire for goods
  • be a happiness machine
  • aesthetics of waste
  • the illimitable power of suggestion
  • spending creates new man and woman
  • sell them their dreams
  • to satisfy customer demand
  • the problem is not how to produce the goods, but how to produce the customers
  • extravagant waste
  • transform luxury into a commonplace
  • spend freely, waste creatively
  • design for prosperity
  • the future is now
  • to stir up insatiable appetites
  • the cult of beauty
  • there is no limit to general consumption possibilities
  • the discipline of consumption
  • beauty to the masses
  • the stores, not churches, are the greatest influencesfor culture and taste that exist today
  • to stir up insatiable appetites
  • the cult of beauty
  • there is no limit to general consumption possibilities
  • the fast track towards progress
  • color is a business asset
  • planned obsolescence
  • socialize consumption
  • mass leisure
  • democracy means material goods
  • culture of consumption
  • flawless inspired taste
  • the indispensable thing
  • eliminate the barrier between goods and people
  • consumer engineers
  • flow of satisfaction

I’m simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the slogans. You can’t argue with how effectively it spawned an entire consumer culture, but the explicit, conscious efforts at manipulation and the open creation of a society of obselescence and waste seems decidedly amoral, at best.

Here’s a closeup of the iron from the picture above; translucent with a metallic red core. Ironic that Apple’s introduction of the iMac in 1998 made this design much more popular and commonplace.