All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"Wishes" --Norma

The installation over this text is furnished by Norma's Yule overbaking and has been pressed into service as illustration of her worldview.  It also illustrates a view of Thomas à Kempis, who said, "First, keep the peace within yourself, then you can bring it to others." I consider the combination of Norma-installation and
Thomas à Kempis quote to be axiomatic. Let's not be deceived by warmongers and saber-rattlers whose methods increase alienation, threaten life, environment and futurity --all that sustains us. Norma's wish, my wish and I hope yours is peace on Earth.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New Computer, New Problems --Enigma of Progress--and Cortana

It was my birthday, my 68th escape from spiritual detonation. I was having lunch and there was a keyboard on the table. There was also a half-glass full of Woodbridge  Pinot Noir. Let us draw a curtain over that inevitable spillage and examine the enigma of progress.

What you see in the photo above is the meeting of two interconnected technologies from about 40 years ago. They are keyboards. Top one is my 100 year-old Remington typewriter, which I used to submit poems and articles to a local "New Age" magazine and was told by the editor that if I was serious about writing I would get a computer and blah blah. I last used the old Remington Typewriter to get published elsewhere --most happily at NSA, National Stereoscopic Association; wrote historical articles and had a great time on the old thing. Manual typewriters are always played fortissimo, and you can spill anything on them, even glue or cement, then hose them down and they work fine. Not so with electronic keyboards. Spill wine on them and they stay half-swacked forever. 

So we went out that afternoon and bought a new laptop. I was happy; it was my birthday. 
We took it home and I started it up. An operating system introduced herself as "Cortana" and guided me in a nearly human female voice toward activating my new laptop. It worked. Then, after shutting it down and enjoying another libation, I tried reactivating the system. Couldn't even access the device! 

I know one prominent definition of idiocy is trying the same procedure over and over again in hopes of producing a different result. However, I returned the new laptop and exchanged it for one exactly like it. My faith knows no bounds and rationalism no longer applies. When data meets pinot noir and goes to dash and scatteration, I find my own reason impaired. I write this post on the second exchange.

Yes, Cortana has misled me as few people have --she is so friendly for an operating system-- but I believe my pleas and tears have ignited some compassion in her. She at least allows me to reaccess this system to make more mistakes --and I still can't use my webcam!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Boxing Day 2012 Revisited

What with the world and one thing and another, I thought it might be prudent and encouraging to repost a jolly assessment of disaster in the spirit of Christmas past. The following scholarly essay appeared on Boxing Day 5 years ago. I recall its aim was to tell my beloved fellow Americans how we Californians deal with government, the need for a sensible worldview, tule fog and other adversities. It involves the capitol, which is a building in the  capital --basically the same word spelled two importantly different ways to avoid confusion while verbally promoting it --capital idea, I think, or don't I? I will add one more thrillingly indecisive fact after this post.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

California Politics and Frozen Fog. Run!

On the map below there are three distinct features: the green Coastal Range, the snowy Sierras and, between them, a great fog that has come to symbolize the true Californian's view of the world. But here, we will discuss only frozen fog.

It was my brother, Frank, who first told me about frozen fog a long time ago. He moved out of state to escape it, but I remained to research the phenomenon, and have been much improved by this study. I have amassed a lot of data, but will confine this essay to one representative incident of local historical importance.

Sacramento is situated on an inland corridor, a river valley from the Sierras to the sea. Much of it is flat grassland under rain shadow. There, into the Coast Range, the river cut a cleft that gives onto San Francisco Bay, through which wind drives tule fog up the delta and into our city. On cold days, fog freezes.

Frozen fog is, in most regions, another name for rime or hoarfrost --ice crystals of supercooled fog. It resembles snow and doesn't last long under normal conditions, but conditions in this region are unusual. A freezing day here is often followed by intense and sudden sunshine. Fog has not time to disperse. It dehydrates and leaves a solid bank composed of 2% hydrocarbon lattice and 98% air, the chemical composition of Styrofoam. Here is a deposit of historical significance:

You can see that municipal workers and volunteers had already got to sawing parts of it away but, as often happens in this state, they became bored and silly. I was there and think that describes the general feeling pretty well. We went at the thing with handsaws and pocket knives mainly, but some artisans from midtown arrived with power-sanders and those really good Heinkles and Marples chisels. Within hours, we had the middle done and vibes directing us toward a single goal.

Here is our final product. We were nearly deaf from all the squeaking and crackling but had hacked a dignified and beautiful state capitol out of Styrofoam --a renewable resource provided by nature from frozen fog banks. It is a building containing a half-million square feet of floor space while weighing only 22 pounds. We were justifiably proud.

Unfortunately, naughty children became fond of carrying the building off and hiding it, leaving our appointed and elected officials no place other than nearby saloons to conduct the government. However, after each inconvenience, the capitol was found and returned to its mall. The governor himself finally solved the problem by gluing it to the lawn.
I felt compelled to mention (here in 2017) that capitol, as a building housing the seat of government, is only capitalized (?) in reference to the federal Capitol in Washington D.C.. All state capitols are lower-case. So, although the various capitals are Capitalized --like Sacramento-- the capitols are not, and even less capitalized if they are made of Styrofoam and serve as flotation devices during floods. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Darwin Of Our Discontent

"Hello, Darwin."
"Hello, Geo., it's December, isn't it?"
"Yes, my friend, the coldest month."
"I know. I know. You may have noticed I am naked."
"Don't you hibernate, Darwin?"
"Yes, I huddle up with other treefrogs and sleep for months."
"Then why are you out sitting on a leaf?"
"I am old. I got hungry."
"It reminds me of church."
"What is this 'church' ?"
"Darwin, when humans are little they often grow up in religious sects that offer Sunrise Service on special holidays. These are the same churches that purport to help people into Heaven..."
"A pleasant place in outer space."
"Go on, Geo."
"Well, I always wondered what impelled churches to get people congregating at sunrise --which is pretty close to hell-- and expecting them to be dressed up is even worse."
"Worse than being cold and naked on a leaf, waiting for food?"
"Point taken, Darwin. We did get a drowsy breakfast before sun-up."
"Geo., that's where your empathy with treefrogs ends."
"Where, with the sunrise in stained-glass windows, enlightenment?"
"No, with breakfast. I eat bugs, Geo."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Time Travel Revisited

It is the last November day, and I felt it apposite to revisit the past  --180 degrees across the zodiac minus seven years-- to an outdoor cafe with my friend of over half a century. Somehow the gist of conversation and Rasputin Beer seems appropriate. The enigmas discussed over that summertime table seemed to bear on the present --a chill winter, December tomorrow, and a world in contention. I was recently reminded of Thos. Wolfe's line: "You can't go home again."  In fact, even if you do go home, it's nearly impossible to find a parking place.  Time travel seems the best solution. I am privileged to travel at least this far and relive a warm and delightful day. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Time Travel

[Lunching with Willie. Trying to remember the name Rasputin so I could order another stout. My hair highlights caused by misfiring synapses.]

Time travel, with its paradoxes, enigmatic loops and plot lines is a staple of science fiction. Wellsian machineries cast our thoughts swiftly back and forth through time. We are thrilled in incomprehensible forces. We should also be thrilled to know time machines actually exist.

Real time machines fall somewhat short of imaginary ones. They travel slowly and into the future only. They do last a lifetime, but tend to go to pieces before the journey's end. I refer to the normal process of ageing, which goes forward in reality but only virtually into the past. One recalls the past --a memory, a figment-- less precisely as time goes by.

This by no means presages mental weakness. I have devoted much work to getting older and can attest, the power of progressive memory loss should not be underestimated. Most of politics and all of public opinion are based upon it. With practice, we can persuade ourselves it is not always what we remember that interests us, but what we forget. And, of course, there are some experiences for which amnesia is simply the most accurate memory. Wisdom stirs.

It does not stir quietly. How distressing to find the wisdom of age predicated on a falsehood, not upon experience so much as just keeping one's mouth shut. One has something to contribute to discussion but exact names and places are on back-order. Time is not travelled uniformly, and prudence demands a dignified, alert silence. Happily, this can serve to sensitize us to truth.

Age quiets us into keen observers of truth. We tend not to view it as ultimate, absolute good but as something quite dangerous, best rationed out over a period of time. Time. As we recognize truth, especially in places where it is neither expected nor plentiful, possibly not even welcome, we gain some control of our time machine. If we keep our own counsel, we can explore undisturbed.

There is a freedom in restraint. Perhaps it comes from gradually concerning ourselves less and less with the good opinion of young people. The reasons we older people go about things need in no way trouble them. Let's consider that a prime directive.

Young people are in better repair than we are, mechanisms less encumbered by the past. I have said the past is virtual, and it is. It has no mass, no weight, yet if we dwell on it overmuch it can crush us. This new world, with a few jarring differences, is much like the world I was young in. I spent considerable resources learning how to have a past and am qualified to advise a policy of non-interference.

These new time machines are tuning themselves over our imperfect past, a dream in which the floor moves and the house keeps coming down. They have much to contend with, but it is more likely during their spans of operation than ours that the secrets of time will be solved and all our journeys explained.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving And Upper Division English

As we inched our way out of Bel Air Market parking lot yesterday, we saw another day-before-Thanksgiving shopper crossing our path with her last-minute purchase, an orchid --a table centerpiece perhaps-- and watched her walk by with blossoms bobbing over her head with each step she took --much like the topknot plume of the California quail. I doodled her over "Wavin' Man" because it was a similar situation and Wavin' Man wanted in on it. You might say they're on the same page.
Thirty years ago, I carved two quail --ground-birds still welcome and plentiful on this property-- over some sheet-aluminum reinforcements on our back door. I headed them into each other because they describe a heart between their heads. Observe:
I thought this sculptural collision positive, life-affirming and even romantic --still do-- but, when I think of humans trying to emulate it with feathery hats, I cannot escape the the strange memory of a college class in Restoration Comedy. High-elevation headgear only amplified the middle-school tenor of the scripts and caused me to withdraw from the class after opining "Thank heaven for Oscar Wilde". Prof. didn't like that and became adversarial. He thought the jokes had to be 300 years old and I was not equal to the task of enjoying them.  Restoration was important because it produced art in defiance of Puritan dominance, but if it is to be effective, it must refresh it's punchlines again and again. One doesn't always take the right classes, I know, but still one resents the fact that mistakes are not realized until after they are made.

So, on to the closing Normaphoto of metal sculpture purchased on an outing with our sister Christina:
It shows a typical family of Callipepla californica --the sort that runs around our yard. When I pass by it, I forget about mistakes, collegiate errors, Puritans, middle school, everything except the garden. I strongly suspect Nepenthe is not a drink but a garden that leads us not out of but INTO reality, dream and discovery. I am thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, all of you.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Sermon, Nearly December, Windsprint, Self-Assessment

Let us begin with a recent Normaphoto this month.

Compared to a Normaphoto from a year ago...(to see year-ago post, click within parenthesis)
...I'd say some progress has been made. I spent a winter on oxygen therapy, feeling my thoughts wander farther and farther away from my brain. 

I read news. I got hooked on trending topics: "Man turns $20 into $20,000,000 by adding lots of zeroes with a Sharpie then used it to pay supermarket self-checkout and got nearly $2 million change."

Then I read Cicero:"We are obliged to respect, defend and maintain the common bonds of union that exist among all members of the human race."

One of my happiest and least certain moments was when I piled all those O2 canisters and O2 concentrator into the car and returned them to the medical supply co. 

Now I cannot remember where I was going with this post. Probably something about experience and aging. I shall be 68 next month and have certainly achieved an early childhood ambition: to be more vigorous than kids twice my age. I had not envisioned  my nether-regions making noises indistinguishable from my Mr. Coffee Espresso Machine, but that is a minor detail.

Your regular pastor will be back next week if he finds God is not on the FBI's list of subversives. 

Go in peace.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spirit of the Wavin' Man

For me, it began in 1958. We were moving out of the farming settlement on Garcia Bend, headed east past Florin. There was an old men's home, weathered red brick, with a weathered old man on a bench out front. His name was Pete, and he directed traffic at the 4-way stop. When he wasn't directing traffic, he just waved at everybody.

35 years later, I passed the same intersection. The old men's home was long since razed for other development, but there was a younger, muscular man in spandex who jogged along my predawn route to work. He would stop jogging frequently to dance on the sidewalk and wave to morning traffic as part of his routine.

In the early '90s, there was again an old man who sat in morning light upon his own lawn and waved to all the cars passing Carlson Drive. I had not encountered this spirit again until this afternoon. Driving home from the pharmacy with my prescription --and a bottle of Cabernet (I cannot imagine why my health insurance does not cover Cabernet, as I could save 50% or more with a simple copay)-- I found myself stopped at a red light along with 12 other lanes at a 4-way intersection. Usually, I can see when one or another lane goes green and reckon my own signal but they were all stopped. That meant somebody needed to walk across the road. It was this guy:

He had such a happy smile, and I was in no hurry. He waved to each car, made gentle eye-contact to each driver, I just started to feel better and better. Then I waved back and thought "Wavin' Man, is it you?" I didn't have a camera --probably wouldn't be appropriate anyway-- but I doodled him soon as I got home. Wavin' Man is a spirit that guides, has guided, good souls all my life. How does it assume possession? How does it sustain itself in these contentious times? How does it seem to appear when most needed?
It is an enigma. Amid the myriad distractions of modern times, it appears, it appears.

I could do worse than end up a Wavin' Man.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Quite a Three-pipe Problem

When faced with a problem and a paucity of evidence or clues, Sherlock Holmes would compose himself in thought and ask not to be interrupted.  In Conan Doyle's story, The Red-headed League, the excellent Sidney Paget portrayed him thus:

In my previous post, I described a puzzle confined to my own computer which required considerable ratiocination. Things returned to normal, mainly, until Wednesday --I got a header message where my GFC gadget should be:
I checked my repairs, discards and uninstallments of the 22nd and found all ok then  went to Google Forum and found others reporting the same "502 Error" from all parts of the world. Had I broken the Internet (on a Sunday)?Here is a short excerpt from the forum:
Oct 25
Add a reply
I have problem with Followers gadget. I have this gadget at my website more than two years. Everything was perfect. But at now it is show me Error 502 since morning.  Many peoples have this error, please solve it :) How can I fix it?

I said:

Problem is back! Are we having some further difficulties?

Ivana Mihalić said:

Still not working... Does anybody even care? I knew I should've chose Wordpress over this.

; I took this snippet from my own email, to which I had the discussion transferred mid-week. In that version, the word "Collapsed" meant something else besides syncope --at least in my case. Still, it might be prudent to find a trusted observer and, after typing a complaint to Google, asking if you are or are not conscious. Norma was often undecided --but mostly said I was (one or the other, I forget). Here is the whole forum text thus far, clickable.

So, I have emerged from my own nicotinic meditations --curled up in my chair in the pumphouse (Norma is not so tolerant as Watson) with several observations from the Doyle canon which approximate my own:
               "These are in deep waters...deep and rather dirty."
               "There is nothing more deceptive than the obvious fact."
               "The only important thing that has happened in the past 
                   three days is nothing has happened."

The conclusion is inescapable. This is the work of the Napoleon of Crime: Moriarty has returned!  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Sermon

As your substitute pastor this evening, I must apologize  for not showing up earlier but I was busy, busy and frustrated with my computer. Then I got mad --anybody'd get mad. Here's what happened:
I took pencil outdoors and doodled a bird  perched on our west fence, then  brought my notebook indoors and tried to photo it with this laptop's webcam. Never had any trouble doing that before. Did this time. I got a message from the screen saying another system was interfering with my efforts. I pondered and surveyed, then noticed a symbol in the lower-screen task bar that wasn't here before my last Windows update. It was a weird little "eye"-thing that was labeled "YouCam". I clicked on it and it wanted money in exchange for a lot of special effects that I was uncertain about. So I tried to tell it "No" but it ignored me and wanted money. No figure was mentioned, but I had a divine hunch it would be substantial. I wanted to slap the offender, but then recalled the words of Saint Mark.

Whatever you click on a suspicious site --even if it was installed by Windows, Frontier or Hewlett Packard-- will get you deeper into its nefarious negotiations, and greater resistance will just mess you up more. Saint Mark --not the Biblical one but the American one, Mark Twain, said "Never slap a man who is chewing tobacco." So I got devious.

I got into my files and found the offender, an apparently empty folder marked YouCam, and deleted it. Then I went to my task bar and deleted it from that too. No violence, no anger, just the reestablishment of a Geodoodled bird on this post. I forget what I was going to have the bird say, but he did dictate a bit about religion that might apply to this sermon: "Remember, human, if you don't believe in God, He's also demonstrated severe reservations about you."

Go in peace, please. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Blooms, The Poet's Wife, Vortex and I Believe We Have a Dance

Let's begin with a chrysanthemum, planted in the dooryard by Norma, describing a gentle vortical articulation of autumn. Seasonal colors and light 

are predicted in its bloom. And another, a rose, a new addition she selected recently while out with Christina, who I met 50 years ago and agreed to accept as my sister by mutual adoption. Norma chose her rose:
Neither horticultural effect fully prepared me for what happened next. I looked down at the gravel walkway and was immediately dizzied:
"Good heavens!" I exclaimed, "This defies the law of nature!"

A calm female voice replied, "Why do you think that?

I stammered, "I...I was a child. I sneaked and  sampled wine from barrels in my grandparents' walkout basement and saw something like this on the ground."

"Aw mal Nino, all law, even the the law of nature, is hard as diamond until something strikes a stress-point and it goes to pieces."

"But to what purpose?" I asked, and heard tinkling laughter, the tintinnabulation of tiny bells.

"I am Earth, Geo., I am Gaia, an expression of the universe. I can only display beauty in tolerable amounts."

"Please, Gaia, please tell me more," I said. To which she answered: 
   "Oh, I'm done talking about it. Let's Dance! 
     Just dance."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Those We Love

I love birds, and those we love we want loved always. We look into the morning sky and marvel at sunrise. The sun rises over all life. We are Earthlings; we share a star --a Star!  I hear the first bird of the day as I pass the ivy trellis. It says, "Cheap!"

 I hear it again, "Cheap!" I stop.

"Hey," I say. "Who you callin' cheap?"

"You, human. You've got money --I heard you discussing "dollars" with your wife. Dollars is money, right?"


"Well, us birds have seen you spraying dishsoap on eggplants. According to my instincts, dishsoap is harmful to hornworms, mites, aphids, cutworms, lacebugs and flea beetles. Those are among our favorite foods. We wonder what's so special about eggplant that you'd spend dollars to run these delicacies  off the property?"

"Well, Norma likes eggplant and the bugs take over if we don't spray soap."

"Does every human like eggplant?"

"Dear bird, admittedly many don't --I don't, but she does. You see, most grown people don't mind eggplant but it nearly always makes children cry."
"What about you, human?"

"I eat it to be polite but then repair to another room to sob softly in private."

"Ok, here's my deal:  You just spray water on the eggplant and we birds will handle the pests. You take dollars to the market and buy eggplants for Norma. Win-win?"

"Brilliant solution, bird! How'd you come up with it?"

"We think simply and fundamentally, educated by instinct, form, appetite and our parents' example. How did you learn things?"

"Well, I went to school until I was upwards of 20 years old."

"Then what?" Asked bird as he hopped down to hunt bugs.

"Then I ventured away from curriculum..."

"What's that?"

"It's what they teach us humans in school about our place in the world."

"Sounds intriguing. How did you feel when you got out?"

"Bird, oh bird, to my horror I found out I was an idiot!"

"Join the club, human, but remember to go easy on the bugs."

Friday, September 29, 2017

Then X 3

This is both a partial repost and reiteration of an autumn post from two years ago (clickable here) which I trotted out because tomorrow is Sunday, the last day of September and the eve of my favorite month, October.  Two of my sons were born in September, so this is a favorite month too --but it's hot (they grew up and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where it's cool). I have combined these sentiments in this post, as well as added photos and a song (yes, I got the Ian And Sylvia album the month it came out). After all, or before all, the past belongs to those hindsightful enough to prepare for it. Let us proceed:

Then, Then It Will Be Autumn

To the California gardener, autumn means topiary lasts longer because shrubs begin to behave. To the retired gardener, it means excellent Cabernet from Lodi --25 miles from here-- to be opened in the afternoon as October fills the kitchen window. The photo below shows a specimen doing just that. It is a bit blurry because he doesn't have his glasses on. 

Our specimen will take his glass of wine and repair to the back porch.

And there, he will listen to one of his favorite songs, to a couple who sang to a world.  They compose a voice of autumn from the heart.
And yes, mais oui, in the back porch he will doodle...
Ian and Sylvia, "Mister Spoons"
....doodle the waking of the dinosaurs, which always happens in the fall.

Then, then it will be autumn! And it doesn't matter how many years have gone by, how many decades they've lived in their cities and made good lives, when my evolved progenies visit there is news, lovely silence and reverie --the memories all come back.
Then, then, then it is autumn.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Two Songs On The Trainride To Peace

When I first heard Elly Stone sing Jacques Brel's "Marieke" so long ago, I knew I'd encountered an enigma. I was quite young and could only make out bits of Dutch, French and English but later, after I saw this clip from "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris",[ I realized she had adapted the song to lament the loss of her childhood self, or a child, or a generation --in Flanders Fields?-- I don't know but would appreciate ideas from readers].

Elly Stone sings "Marieke"

Song 2 is one that still chokes me up a little. I was watching tv in 1969 because one of my favorite humorists, Moms Mabley, was a guest on the Griffin show. I had never heard her sing, maybe because her voice was calculated for comedy, but I heard her that night and never forgot --never will forget. I met Martin Luther King Jr. a few months before his death. Attended a welcome rally for Bobby Kennedy a month before his death. I listened to this Dick Holler song, which I'd heard on A.M. radio sung by the excellent Dion DiMucci, but it never hit home so hard until I saw this:

Moms Mabley, "Abraham, Martin, John and Bobby"

I can't add anything to these performances, only that they helped deliver us from chaos. Peace is an individual adjustment. You have to do it by yourself. Then you have to be stronger than those who prejudge others, who settle hurt upon them. Peace comes from saying, "Well, the world's gone a bit funny on me --maybe I should inquire politely what the problem is, and see what can solve it. Blasting away in all directions at populations who are nobody's enemy is certainly not the solution.  PEACE.

Addendum: Mainly in response to Louise's very interesting comments on this post, and hopefully for the encouragement of all who read it, who may think of it while browsing a book store or perusing the internet, I asked Norma to Normaphoto a corner of our kitchen shelves --mostly reference works kept at my right hand here in the heart of the house:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Where The Treefrogs Are

I started out looking for treefrogs. Found E(a)rnest Squirrel first:

Geo.: 'Morning E(a)rnest. What's up?

Ern.: Well, you're taking notes and...hey, is that all I get, 3 letters in my name?

Geo.: Same as I get. Why are you chewing bark?

Ern.: No toothbrush. What's your real question?

Geo.: Where are all the treefrogs? They're not out this morning.
Ern.: Oooyour'e right! My guess is the little bald boogers felt the wind keenly last night. Try checking the backyard bench, the one with the tarp over its cushions.
I followed his instructions, went out back and withdrew the tarp.
Geo.: Darwin? Darwin Doorbooger? Are you in there? What are you doing?

Dar.: I'm on the left, Geo., with somebody's butt on my head.

Geo.: 'S'ok, happens to all of us sometimes. Are you guys all right?

Dar.: I think so. After 5 months of hot nights, we thought summer was permanent, then it suddenly got cold!

Geo.: Surely, not that cold.

Dar.: Geo., we have brains the size of nonpareils --those little sugar-specks moms used to sprinkle on party cupcakes. We teeter on the very edge of reason and all it takes is a slight breeze to knock us into chaos.

Geo.: My species has big brains, Darwin, but we suffer the same problem. Weather change makes humans bananas.

Dar.: Well, we treefrogs haven't the intelligence to go mad, or minds to be out of, so we get under covers and huddle up.

Geo.: A most sensible solution.

Dar.: Sense, we have in combination, piles in fact --as evidenced by your investigation...
...we also wipe our muddy hands on your outdoor upholstery. Please replace the tarp and give our regards to E(a)rnest.
Geo.: G'night Ernest, and best wishes from the clutch of treefrogs --right where you told me they'd be.
"Good night, Geo. You know, treefrogs are full of ideas despite their paucity of brains --and when ideas become ideologies, they are not so easily contained. Be cautious, old friend.

Geo.: Are there no exceptions?

Ern: Oh, certainly. Go back and take note of the treefrog who has Buddha's ear:
Geo.: Understood.

Ern.: Good, and I hope you did not tell them what "nonpareil" means.

Geo.: It is French for peerless, isn't it?

Ern.: Indeed, but don't tell them. A few scraps thrown to any species --even humans-- makes a cosmic joke of them. Work from nature, the language of  the universe.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Enchanted Objects

Let's begin this post with a public service announcement. It's early evening, August 31st, and the pumphouse thermometer looks like this:

The city suggests:
▪ Check on your elderly neighbors.
▪ Never leave children or pets in cars.
▪ Drink plenty of water and avoid very cold drinks.
▪ Take cool showers to lower your body temperature.
▪ Limit your exposure to the sun – stay indoors where it is air-conditioned or go a public place that is air conditioned.
Because of  heat warnings, the city is extending hours at the Downtown Library from Thursday through Monday to serve as a cooling center. The Downtown Library will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. those days. Other cooling centers can be found by calling 211, a health and human service referral hotline. 

Read more here:

What with wildfires in Butte County and Nevada City, it doesn't look like the valley smoke, inversion layer and intense heat will abate anytime soon. California is burning down spectacularly this year.  Norma even stretched a crew-sock around our back doorknob because it's so hot to touch. My intention is to stay indoors and come up with a cool topic. Enchanted objects are cool, so is the voice of Edith Piaf. This is one of my favorite childhood --and adulthood-- animations

If you wish to see the whole cartoon and lyric sung by the incomparable Piaf (and yes it is she, not the Andrews Sisters --who also did a fine job), I recommend the video below. If you are enchanted enough to see the abbreviated toon and hear it in English, sung by the excellent Michael Feinstein, please click on the link below the clip.

Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. (Michael Feinstein)

My own contribution to this theme is to recommend heat-sufferers find enchanted objects in their own homes. I did, right here in the kitchen. Next two Normaphotos are of a curvaceous coffee grinder who lived in my Grampa's general store from the 1890s 'til 1914. and an Art Deco ice shaver from the '20s. They now occupy the top of the refrigerator and Coffee is on a pedestal I built for her because she's hot stuff. Ice shaver does pretty much the same job on ice, which is cool. They are enchanted objects of similar mechanism and are now holding hands:
This makes Ice Shaver very happy, so he flips his lid in joy. Unfortunately he has a very crazy smile...
but then, when we are in love, who doesn't?

***To those valued email subscribers, here is the link to the longer Piaf version, which somehow got attributed to the Andrews Sisters and subtitled in Spanish.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Darwin Doorbooger Solves An Enigma

In keeping with the previous post's investigation of  lexiconography (which happily drew good comments from good minds), I have decided to reference Helsingør and Word List #8 ,  posted June, 2011 (which didn't get any comments at all) --specifically to investigate question #3:"Has Mercator projection ever been tested on humans?"

Mercator projection is the flat, 1-dimensional, map of the world that rolled down by a shade-pull from a long horizontal cylinder over classroom blackboards when we were schoolkids.However, it distorted the planet to where  North and South Poles were broader than any continents that were  not made out of ice. So I went outdoors (I usually do) and called out, "Darwin? Darwin Doorbooger!" You wouldn't know about my seminars with Darwin Doorbooger without clicking on this blue sentence and reading the entries there below this one. Let us proceed.

Darwin: I'm over here on a geranium leaf.
Geo.: Good heavens, old friend! Are you all right? You look pale.

Darwin: I'm ok. It's just something that happens to older treefrogs.

Geo.: Ah, like my hair going white.

Darwin: What's hair?

Geo.: Nothing important. I came with a question about how the world is mapped.

Darwin: The world, as I see it, extends some few yards around this geranium --maybe 100 feet in circumference, tops.

Geo.: What if I told you it is around 25000 miles in circumference?

Darwin: Now you're just being silly, Geo.

Geo..:  But it's been measured and ascertained as a globe. We have representations in our classrooms, halls of learning --not to mention the hall off my back porch. Look into my mind:
Darwin: What the heck is THAT?

Geo.: It's a simple sinusoidal representation of the planet, showing a more accurate surface of a globe.

Darwin: Geo., your kind thinks in three or four dimensions while we think in zero dimensions, and I'm sure  that map presents human population densities quite well but poses problems and anomalies to shipping lanes and international borders. What if somebody made even more gores, cuts and lobes?

Geo.: They have, Darwin, they have.

Darwin: Well,  that would disrupt borders, divide countries and bisect private properties! You humans need to stop this catastrophic cartology at once! It may approach  accuracy but sends the wrong message.

Geo.: Then upon whom was the Mercator Projection originally tested, if not humans?

Darwin: Treefrogs, of course.  

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. Another good word: PEACE.


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.