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Tuesday, Sep 16th

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Editorial

Another Day on Planet X

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Here I am again:  I woke up again this morning.  And, once again, I ran through all my available choices.  Once more, I found no basic improvement in the human condition -- nothing astonishing had happened while I slept, no new options had evolved or hatched or arrived in flying saucers, or tunneled up from the deeps.  No thoroughly new way of existing had been birthed, fizzing and crackling into existence from a wormhole's termination point on the surface of the planet nearest my thoroughly beat-up and timeworn footwear.

No, here I was able to again discover life at its simplest:  There was the staying-in-the-rack option, or there was the up-and-at-'em angle.  While there were no new lifeform alternatives presented overnight -- none that I could detect, at any rate -- at least both of the standard choices were still available.  I wake up slow and groggy these days, but I glommed onto that much, sure enough.

Foolishly, I once more pressed the rise-and-shine selection into service.  Personally, I blame my bladder for routinely holding me hostage to this narrowest possible range of wake-up choices.  Once more, my body was holding me hostage to its demands -- and it would not be the last time in the day, or in this life, that it would cruelly limit my preferences.

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We Could End Up Miles from Here

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The days unfold strangely for anyone puttering around gamely, if lamely, in life.  As an amateur human being a long way from pro status, it's possible to stroll among the headlines and footnotes, around the millstones and milestones, taking informal readings on this and that.

Even on a good day, with a stiff, sane breeze blowing across the news websites of the land, it's impossible to gauge the gradations of cultural degradation, to get accurate readings of any kind.  It's a gut-feeling sort of enterprise. There are no calibrated anything-ometers to slap into play.  There are no national and regional numbers pouring in to Tracking Central.  There are no land mine or shock wave or blast zone maps.

There are no compression gradients to be drawn.  No depressive ingredients to be withdrawn.  Everything unfolds like a mushroom cloud, new ones going off all day long.  Sometimes, they are far away and in slow motion.  Other times, the flash is sight-searing, and the blast is a sight meant for no eyes.

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Texas Tea, Coin Flips, and What's Missing

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Here is a story about the present and the future.  It is a story about energy.  Now, it is a story about fracking.  And, not to repeat myself, it is a tale about unbridled madness.  Later, the story could be about something else.

For now, there are plenty of deep and scarring errors in this saga, but no redemption -- maybe in time, but not right now.  Right now, there is only an equally deep, dank, and abiding feeling the world is no longer under any obligation to make sense, that some elemental bargain has been voided, that some vital bank of dead man's switches has been locked out and they no longer work.

To quote the band Jethro Tull, from Locomotive Breath:

  • In the shuffling madness
  • Of the locomotive breath...
  • the train won't stop going
  • No way to slow down.

Our era is shuffling madness.  Our locomotive breath is the unending hunger for energy, for fossil fuel.  Imagine this era and its impossible hungers, and then imagine them slowing down. The train won't stop going -- no way to slow down.

Of course, that train has been barrel-assing along for some time.  The world -- its people and systems -- has been straining for a long time, trying to gain, and retain, even a micron of credibility and sense.  This old world hasn't made sense for a while and it may not make sense ever again.  Or...

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Pains & Fears, Lessons & Gifts

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The thing about unexpected lessons is that you never know what it is you'll learn, or that you had anything at all to learn in the first place.

In a quintzillion years, I never thought I would say this, but Donald Rumsfeld had a point, albeit a circuitous one, when he reeled off his screed about known knowns and unknown unknowns, and so forth, through every last permutation, down to the potentially uncertain but likely quite improbably unknown, but still completely possible, percentagewise, knowns. Or something.

Lessons are difficult, even if you're open and ready for them, and they involve small-beans issues like going to a different movie than you'd planned, or having to break down and order an alien beer or pop when your fav has been pumped dry at Drac's Stake-N-Steak or Burger Queen or Pasta Palace or whatever.

Much, much more seriously now:  If you think such teaching moments and learning opportunities -- as we currently call Big Windows of Life To Go Look Out Of And See Something New -- are tough, imagine what the lessons are like when they rip your heart out.

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Put Your Lips Together and Blow

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My Muse, lately, has been feisty, haughty, and downright bumptious.  Churlish and surly, too, but that is surely an outgrowth of my ignoring it as much as possible.  It hates that.  Kicks up a fuss something fierce.

It's been unavoidable, though.  It's yard work season.  Out here in the country-ish places, Nature never stops trying to take back the small encampment it's allowed us for an assortment of the old, small, odd-shaped buildings we call home -- a place where all of the structures and sheds compete against one another to see which one can return its raw materials and minerals to the earth firstest with the mostest.

During this time of year, before the showers cease and the hot weather sets in, slowing the Leaping Green Growth Spurts hereabouts, I am part person and part mule.  Writing and scribbling and helping words jump through any pedantic hoops must wait.  My muse is much more amused in the cold and rainy months, when I am inside, and where keeping the pellet stove comfy, cleaned, nourished and well-fed is all at once a vocation, an avocation, and a spectator sport.

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It takes a sharp wooden stake

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The new unemployment claims reported on last week were at a seven year low, the report for this week is up again close to the moving average, but overall it's not bad news for the economy. We will probably see more people leaving the workforce now that they don't need to stay with the company that provides them health insurance, and this should be reflected in a falling unemployment rate. Worker mobility should improve from this 'portability' aspect of ObamaCare, and this could result in fewer people being laid off since workers are able leave a company for another job rather than hanging on until the ax falls.

 

In theory, we should see an upturn in people creating their own business since they don't need to worry about finding health insurance. There is, however, the problem that if a person is a college graduate her or she is likely be carrying a large student debt load and this hampers entrepreneurship. Unless you simply take Mitt Romney's advice and borrow the money from your father to get started,  - it worked great for him.

 

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Who Goes There - Friend or Faux?

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Not counting the things that looked like mushed M&M's or maybe some cushion-dried salsa chunks, the best I've ever done is a couple of hard-shell taco divots, a remote control for an oscillating fan, enough unpopped popcorn kernels for a hamster's tea break, a ripped bus transfer, half a poker chip, a pizza crust that could double as a drywall hammer, two wallet-pocket buttons, the keeper-part of ticket stub for a 1993 charity auction, and a dollar-seventeen in change.

Talk about being outclassed.  Three roommates in northern New York state found $40,000 in their couch.  The one they bought.  Second-hand.  For twenty bucks.

It was a major oops.  The daughter sold it, when her mom was in the hospital for a surgery.   But, it all got straightened out.  The roommates tracked down the original owner somehow, maybe through the charity shop that had sold them the couch, and then, the original owner and the original cash were all restored to original condition.  And they all lived originally, and happily, ever after.

Yes:  Good works were done, a smidge of confidence was restored to the bucket of human nature, and the roommates received a thousand bucks for their effort -- a profit of $980, one could say, providing one wanted to focus on the upsides here.

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