All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back To Word List #5

I have lately been accused of using sesquipedalian verbiage in my posts --not by everybody, but by one guy and that's enough. Sesquipedalian just means "lots of syllables", big. In 1966, one of my favorite pastimes was driving over to Willie's house and discussing words. That year, one of the favorite semantic tongue-twisters in general was Antidisestablishmentarianism.  As ususal, Will leaned back smiling in his well-cushioned bamboo chair and asked me what I thought of it. I said I thought it was a 12-jointed godless reptile of a word and had no idea what it meant. He proceeded to parse it out for me. Turned out it started in England had to do with something very important, separation of church and state --and had a fundamental impact worldwide. I think disestablishment won here. Who knows? Will phoned me two days ago from Sonoma and invited me to his 80th, so I'll ask him again.  But to dispel the erroneous notion that my vocabulary tends toward the sesqu... the big, here is a repost of one of a series of Word Lists that introduced my blog so long ago:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Word List #5

[For this installment of Word List, I selected as illustration a map painted by son David, depicting the character of his town, San Francisco.]

This week, a friend in Sonoma wrote to inform me the Forbes Company had named his town one of the ten prettiest in the nation. As a parent, I disagree in principle with Forbes naming his town prettiest. It can only create resentment in other towns and cause them to grow up wrong. Nor does it help to divert admiration from Sonoma and say,"Oh, and here comes our dear little Bakersfield --she's at that oily, awkward stage, but such a nice personality." Also, showing off Sonoma while Cotati suffers a weight problem and her brother, Auburn, peevishly collects guns in the hills will just make her smug and give up on academics.

Unlike the example set by Sonoma's uncommunicative cousin, Richmond, not all mystics smell funny. That is a myth promulgated by his bookish, picayunish brothers, Berkeley and Davis, neither of whom gets out much. In truth, mystics seek the extraordinary experience of all-inclusive reality and bathe often as anybody else.

As a belief or practice, mysticism forms around an enraptured, ineffable state --an ecstatic identification of the self in relation to all things, all events. This sense of totality is expressed by such phrases as,"All is one" and "One is all." You may recognize this as the motto of Alexandre Dumas's THE THREE MUSKETEERS --"tous pour un, un pour tous!"-- a novel demonstrating the need for mystics to be really good swordfighters.

Of course, pretty is as pretty does, which is generally pleasant and I have exaggerated its schismatic potential. But what more effectively causes regional schism is political misbehavior seeking divisions along religio-ethnic lines, and among those who confuse race with phenotype --a problem that cannot be exaggerated. Where that happens I, like Richmond, go mystic: There is only one surviving human race, and it is all of us.  I usually hightail it before answering Jeremiads start their signatory rumbles --except this time. And maybe I smell a little funny too.

  1. I find the work of both father and son enlightening, provocative and delightful, showing once again that a thousand words (more or less) can be as much fun as one picture.
  2. Thanks Will. I'm planning to get a new car and will visit your pretty town again. Even I need to feel pretty sometimes.
    I include Willie's comment to the original text of my blog-glossary because its relevance is undiminished by the years. 

    And to the other guy --who attacked my word usage-- and his toady who attacked my service to this country: people have big chunks of time they don't talk about. So don't prejudge (conclude ahead of facts). You might be ignorantly insulting someone whose patriotism is unimpeachable (can't be rescinded), and may have outranked you.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Backporch Epiphany

I was meditating in the backporch at a table I built 40 years ago of California pine and Mexican tile when I heard a persistent ringing --not my tinnitus but a lower frequency, somewhat flat. I woke and saw this blue owly thing between the Christmas mug and Las Vegas shot glass.

"Good Lord!" I said, "What're you?"

Owl:  I am an angel.

Geo.: But...but angels are suppose to be..."

Owl:  I know, robed and winged humanoids,  untrained social workers condemned to prop up yesterday's ideologies. We're owls now.

Geo.: Why were people not informed?

Owl: People are as they are, Geo., and it would be an impertinence to expect them to change.

Geo.: Can we not change for the better, Owl?

Owl: Sure, you'd be surprised at what conscience can do. And if that fails, self-delusion and positive thinking can work wonders.

Geo.: I prefer conscience.

Owl: An excellent first step, but victory is only relevant to the strength of the opposition.

Geo.: Flapdoodle!

Owl: An excellent second step! But say it softly. Our influence is finally inversely proportional to the noise we make.

Geo.: I  feel sleepy, Owl.  Is there any thing else?

Owl: Oh yes, much more --much more you must learn-- but in the meantime, be moderate in your behavior and habits, especially where spirits are concerned. There is danger at every turn.

Geo.: Like a bullet with my name on it?

Owl:  Heaven forbid! More likely a shot glass.
 I closed my eyes for what seemed like only a moment, and when I looked again, the shade was up and little blue owl was gone.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Human Race and Horseblankets

I have been mainly away from the computer for some days, possibly a week or more, because I experienced something that had never happened to me before.  I got into a debate. This how the pumphouse thermometer  looked here:
It looked like that again today but we just had a power failure up and down our road. It lasted 45 minutes and our utility district website said this: 
Updated at 9:41 PM August 3rd: Outages
                                                      Affected Communities
                                                          3759 Customers
 It was really dark all of a sudden! Norma called out from another room, "Geo.?!"

I answered, "WHO?

"Geo.!" She repeated.

"I don't know, Norma. It's really dark in the kitchen and I can't see who I am!"

"What happened to the lights?"

"Don't know that either. I'll go check."

I went outside and it was dark, hot and quiet. Yes, I checked the breaker-box even though I knew it was a general blackout. I reported a breeze outside, so we sat on a bench and talked. I like her. She asked me what I had started writing and I told her it was about an unfortunate disagreement with another blogger. She inquired further --as she always does-- and I said something about a dispute over a horse blanket. By and by the electrics were restored and I returned to whatever it was.

So I returned to this post. Various Latin phrases unpiled in my mind: homo quisquilrian -mankind the litterer; homo factorum claustris --mankind the cage-builder; homo sapiens --mankind the wise.  These are various names that collected in the dark, but they have in common a single idea. There is only the all-encompassing human race. I told my pen-pal so, and was rewarded with the accusation that I was a traitor to the white race. I replied, there is no white race. We are all of the human race and the variations are only phenotypes --surface differences among ethnicities-- and I am not worried about what color humans will be in the future.

He is very worried about what color they will be and accused me of "white genocide"--my family is mixed.  I gradually withdrew from his blog over a period of a week, thinking the temperature in the the Mohave, where he is, rises beyond the capacity of my pumphouse thermometer --in fact would bend the needle right off-- and somehow addled his thinking. It is more comforting to believe that than believe --despite the fact he is younger than I-- that, unlike other fossils, he is petrifying from the inside out.

I don't even have a horse.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


I had not seen my little furry friend for quite some time and was glad to run across him in the woody end of our yard.

"Hello!" I said, "What have you been up to?"

"Hello yourself! I have been getting my education but am making poor progress."

"But you're such a bright, chipper thing. Surely you're not in earnest!"

"Careful how you spell that, human."

"Of course, Ernest. What seems to be the problem?"

"It's this heat, Geo., this "summer" thing. It gets to my brain and I can't remember where I buried my nuts."

"Understandable, Ernest, hot weather affects us all. It sends my blood circulation to all sorts of irrelevant places." 

"Yes, but you're over 100 times my age. I'm a young adult squirrel and you're a bag of mad old bones."

"Now, now, settle down. You've left the wisdom of your elders out of your calculations."

"I'm trying to remember where I buried my nuts, Geo. What does your vast experience have to offer?"

"Beyond a particularly disgusting old sea shanty, nothing. However, age brings contemplation of enigmas --important and difficult questions like..."

"Like what, Geo.? What's going through your heat-and-age-addled mind now?"

"Well, Ernest, I was just wondering how spiritual life might change if all the different religions of the world succeeded in converting each other at once." 


"Ernest? Ernest, where are you skulking off to?"

"Geo., I believe I just recalled where my nuts are."

Well! Everybody's got to believe something but I suspect he's just avoiding me until autumn.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Would You Like 8 Billion Visits To Your Blog Every Day?

Neither would I, but it seems our numbers are declining. It's been about a year, in fact, since I learned the world's human population reached (only?) 7 billion so admittedly some exaggeration is involved here. However, we must consider the future of mass communications, its laggardness, its abbreviation into 140 characters and, most horrific, its obsolescence.  In our hearts, we bloggers know we are writing a chronicle of our time in disappearing ink.  All insurrectionists need do is find out where the internet is plugged in and disconnect it --unfortunately severing their own influence too.

So what? Is our influence as parents and elders in any way impeded? I think not. We will still be here, from one generation  or another. Our message is simple: As Anna Lappe wrote, "Every time you spend money, you cast a vote for what kind of world you want."  You can buy cheaply at the expense of outsourcing American jobs,  union-busting or shop wisely and keep hardship away. It is a time of reflection.

If we assume to see ourselves in the mirror, and believe we are really there, we must also assume the mirror is really there. I look into it and try to imagine my eyes shining with good mental hygiene --and say, " Stop making faces, you're too old to start turning any of life's great corners." But I ignore myself and reply, "Time is not a physical constant and can only be measured by the individual, so there." 

To which, my reflection sticks its tongue out. This makes me think the world's gone a bit funny on me, and I withdraw. I look at other mirrors --the president on tv. Alas, the camera does not love him. I saw him smile once, like a crack in perdition --smelled sulfur and withdrew. So here I am, at laptop, encouraging everyone to remain on Blogger and other media receptive to complete thoughts. Even though, despite a possible contradiction in terms, as a boy of 67, my old age is in its infancy. Everyone, keep writing!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rocket Racer, A Toybox Adventure

Rocket Racer was speeding through outer space. He was on a mission.  

I was retrieving illegal bottle-rocket (also known as roofburners) remains from my property. They were on my house, barn, pumphouse --all over my property.  We hicks are sensitive to such things because we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of dry fields and stand guard at our farmgates until 2 or 3 a.m July 5th.  But across the road, 900 acres were sold 15 years ago to developers --who still flap overhead on their leathery wings in the depths of night. Who moved in there? A lot of nice people, definitely, but also a lot of incautious 20-somethings in shorts and t-shirts --to show off their beer-guts-- whose July 4th directive seems to consist of validating the Red States' opinion that California is populated by idiots.

Norma Normaphotoed me this afternoon after I raked the final spent roofburner off the pumphouse. Note temperature (100F) on door sill thermometer . 
At that moment, Rocket Racer landed in my left hand. Little pilot popped the hatch and asked if we could talk. I said "Sure" and brought him indoors to the kitchen sideboard.
"My name is 6." He said,  " I have been entrusted with a message from the planet Kaboom."

Geo.: I'm familiar with Kaboom.

(But it occurs to me that some readers are not, without having read 2 previous essays clickable here, anywhere among these blue words )

6: My message is, the people of Planet Kaboom --on behalf of all sentient explosionoids and gunpowder-based life-forms-- wish emphatically that you not blame them for recent explosions in the state of California or any other regions of the continent that are composed mainly of kindling. 

Geo.: Oh, there's no danger of misunderstanding, 6 . The detonations in question are only eruptions of those who feel passion for God and Country and can express themselves in no other way. Incidentally, is 6 your real name?

6: Let's not bring up old issues.  As to identity, you're welcome to click here and learn about #6  but that's another issue. As to Country, it will proceed if informed by reason and discussion. As to God,  it's not a question of humans believing in Him or not, but the severe reservations He's demonstrated about humans.

Geo.: I think it's time I took you outside and let you return to your interplanetry duties.

6: Please, you seem to have changed into your pajamas --that's a universal sign that a guest should say goodnight.

Geo.: Goodnight, 6, and give my best to the Kaboomians --shall we step outside?

6: Yes, let's.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Homo Religiosus Revisited

As your substitute pastor, I know this congregation did not expect to see me here again this Sunday --neither did I-- but your regular pastor has not yet returned. I will give further details at the close of my sermon, a sermon I had to come up with on short notice --reworked from 8 years ago.
                                            [Doodle added 1/2 hour ago] 

Homoreligiosus = Mankind the religious[from 50 year-old lecture notes]

The tendency to be religious is fundamentally panpsychic, a personification of the universe. I can't dismiss the idea that the universe itself is intelligent. It exists in time between parenthetical boundaries of being and nothingness, concept-totality and concept-zero, which also frame the human mind.

We receive the emergent reward, Life, but find it unsafe and we'd very much like to speak to someone about it. Between the maths of all and nothing we are left two conclusions, both unsatisfactory: life, as a product, is defective and, because it malfunctions at some very crucial moments, gives us the jumps.

Church offers, among other psychological and social comforts --such as venue for a generation of women who liked to sing in crazy vibrato voices-- a complaints window. One takes questions there. The window is round and located on the bottom.

If we turn a church over, answers float up to the glass --"yes", "no",  "ask again later"-- seemingly at random. This suggests the sphere of living worship and the ink-filled 8-Ball are novelties of similar construction. We are left to search beyond. When the starting point of one's search includes the whole universe, beyond is a tough proposition.  A study of languages  is helpful.

Beyond, unlike universal personification, is a concept imagined outside parenthesis. Parenthesis a word given by Greeks to the Romans, who in turn bequeathed it to us along with two related expressions: homosapiens* and ora pro nobis**. This keeps my theory of human religion in a flexible state. As today it is bendier than yesterday so shall it be more bendy tomorrow --and, if not intellectually safe, at least no less safe. In fact, you are welcome to try this at home with your complimentary 8-balls (which you will receive upon signature of the document at the exit).

Your regular pastor, Reverend Blackstool, will return as soon as you all sign a promissory  agreement to stop teasing him about his name. Go in peace.

*man the wise
**pray for us