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Alex Baer

Forcing Cheese, and Us, Through Holes

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What we see depends on us, on what we want to see.  It depends on our everyday mindsets and moods, and how nature and nurture have shaped us, past and present.  In early times, gathering information about our world, people used plain old human vision, and went toe-to-toe with the world, even if they didn't always see eye-to-eye with it.

Somewhere in there, we made the world more complex, and started using windows and doors and portholes and telescopes and other viewing intermediaries.  Newspapers, radio, and television wandered along eventually, helping us see farther away and further ahead.

Rose-colored glasses were sometimes worn by deluded or contented observers of life, whether by a neighbor halfway down the block or a reporter halfway around the planet.  Sometimes, people saw red -- pinkos and reds, to be exact -- directed as their vision was by the low-horsepower, straight-ahead, horse blinders of that era.  For the most part, though, the view of the world was pretty clear, and most people's desires to see, and their means of doing so, were reliable, neutral, and intact.  They were ready to make up their minds, after consulting the facts. This was the norm.  The world and its details were not only knowable, people were busy knowing them.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 11:45 Read more...

Opposites, Fence-Sitting, and Trekking

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Opposites attract, it is said.  These days, I suspect opposites attract all right, and bunched up around their opposite poles, are two groups:  the totally apathetic and the absolutely certain.

The majority of us are less extreme, lumped in the middle somewhere, fence-sitters, undecided, waiting for more information to drift in and for the clouds of our doubt to clear -- waiting for something like clarity and confidence to bloom somewhere close to our decision-making abilities, our opinions, our beliefs.

Ignorance and apathy make mischievous, self-chasing twins that raise only dust clouds and smokescreens, when they can be persuaded to move at all.  Their opposite forces, ego and conviction, sweat buckets to ensure knowledge and action both corner the market and are locked all the way down.

Me, I usually buzz and flit around the whole length and area of those poles of attraction with an armload of bald facts and bare opinions.  Sometimes, I sport splashy, energetic layer cakes of logic, interest, fascination.  Other times, frankly, I'd be hard pressed to come up with an eighteenth of a half-baked hoot about anything.  Sometimes, bereft of answers and beaten down,  I refuse to play at all, completely rejecting the Catch-22, damned if you do, damned if you don't, concept of play -- my own Kobayashi Maru.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 15:39 Read more...

A Bad Case of the -shuns

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There are still plenty of ripping, searing, wrenching, and devastating problems on this singular space ship which we call home, and equally important challenges all among its incredibly motley, and sometimes endearing, crew, too.  I get that.  This stuff is absolutely not news to me.  I learned to read quite a while back, using newspapers that -- dare I say it, even in irony? -- Adam and Eve used to cave-break their pet dinosaurs.

No, I have not slipped away in the night.  I have not yet been allowed to sublease my apartment at the Sanity Arms.  I have not yet checked out of the Human Hotel.  I am, by the way, still dawdling around here at the By-and-By B and B, hoping that someone will present a final statement and then, hang around long enough to help me make some sense out of the thing.

Comprehension comes later, I hope.  However, just now, I am trapped here, where life often feels like the waiting room for every tire installation joint I've ever inhabited:  Crap coffee, crap chairs, lava-esque (in summer) or icicle-bound (in winter).  It's the sort of a place with the kind of noise that makes fingernails on a blackboard seem soothing --  and where the place smells like it had its last change of air in 1639, by a galley mob fresh off a galleon, and where the ambience is an eye-crossing, nose-hair-depleting cross between gym locker stench, burning dog hair, and a berserk, shrieking offspring of sulfur and ammonia.  Still in diapers.

Does.  Not.  Compute.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 14:01 Read more...

Deep Blue Reservations

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A funny thing happened on the way to the reservoir...  Not.

In fact, a lot of unfunny things have been happening on the way to absolutely everywhere, not just to the water supply.  But we might as well start there, especially as someone else led the way -- someone whose cup runneth over, so to say.

The musical question here, for which there are no chairs available on which to sit or catch one's breath, once the music stops, is this:  How much does 38 million gallons of water cost?  Another question tends to come up right away:  Why would anyone want to know?  Other questions follow, flowing right along from these initial queries.

If we're talking about money, the cost of the water might also depend on where you price it -- if there's a drought going on, say, or if there's a raging fire nearby that needs a good dousing, and so on.  These are all good questions, all very excellent angles worthy of consideration.  As is so often the case in life, some questions simply have no satisfactory answers.  This is one of those times.

The reason for the question in the first place, the cost of 38 million gallons of water, is because that is how much drinking water a city is dumping, of deferential respect for subscribers, owing to contaminants in the water.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 21:33 Read more...

All Aboard the Thought Train, Cosmic to Mundane

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It was a night like any other.  I simply wasn't expecting to lose sleep.  It just turned out that way.  See, I wasn't out for blood -- hadn't even thought about it until the Internet brought it up in our evening exchanges, smug as ever, buffing its know-it-all buffer on my server, simultaneously pouty and coquettish, impossible to ignore.

Sometimes, you take a chance and you hop a thought train, not knowing where you might end up, or how you might feel when it's all over.  I was restless.  I took a chance.  And now, having ridden that train of thought all up and down the line, I'm still not sure how I feel about it -- how it all worked out, I mean.

The thing is:  I might have used those hours for something else.  I know, I know -- it's not like I was going to give Einstein a run for the money last night.  It's not like I would have written Beethoven's Tenth or anything.  Regrets are just part of the bittersweet terrain, when the moon is full, its light so bright, and the night so clear you swear you can feel the frosty moonlight thinly ice the air.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 22:35 Read more...

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