My Last Election Rant

As with most days, today I find the 2016 Election troubling.  I hear about how horrible Hilary Clinton is, how she’ll bring about a constitutional crisis and that her email server is the worst thing ever.  IT IS WORSE THAN WATERGATE.  We aren’t talking about taxes or the size of the government, we are hearing how she’s terrible and there will need to be a violent revolution.  Exaggeration?  I’ve heard two different sound bites of Trumpers saying they are willing to take up arms, be a patriot and “do what needs to be done.”  You tell me if I’m overstating the potential.

And then today the KKK newspaper, the Crusader, endorses Trump.  The “Trump  Campaign” repudiates the KKK endorsement.  Has Cheeto Jesus?  Has he ever said he respects all people and wants to see harmony in the USA?  No.  He wants the guys with yarmulkes counting his money, not the blacks.  He retweets people who espouse hate, anti-Semitism and see the diversity of our country as “white genocide.”  How is this a thing?  If he doesn’t support it, he sure doesn’t dismiss it.

I see too many references to Clinton as “C*nt”.  Really?  Let’s be honest, Everything Cheeto Jesus does encourages hate.  He calls on people’s fears and assures them at only he can save them.  He’s working by the axiom that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public.

He hates everything the Clinton has done in her career as a public servant.  Ok, he’s entitled to an opinion.  What has he ever done for the public good?  I cringe when he talks about being a job creator.  If he wasn’t making money off the backs of others there would be no jobs.  And how do we hold someone up as a “job creator” who refuses to honor contracts and proudly threatens to bury in people in legal expenses when they are upset about not being paid.  This is not about quality of service, it is about his need to increase his profits, or lower his losses when he mismanages his business.  After all, no successful business person will hold up a man with 4 bankruptcies as a role model.  That is the model of failure that got lucky.

But let’s get back to how bad Hilary is.  Yes, she used a private email server and was less than forthcoming about it.  I know as you read this you are perfect and never did anything wrong.  But, let’s be clear.  She wasn’t selling state secrets.  She wasn’t trying to make confidential information easily available.  In fact, the State Department Information Security processes were described as woefully inadequate.  So other than originally trying to stay out of the press, what the issue?  It wasn’t an ongoing criminal conspiracy.  Watergate was.  There wasn’t an order to break in someplace.  That was Watergate too.  There wasn’t illegal wiretapping?  Again that was Watergate.  So, let’s stop the uneven comparisons.  It’s demeaning and ridiculous.

Then there is Benghazi.  While I’m tempted to tell you to go fuck yourself, let’s look at a few facts.  4 lives were lost. That was a tragedy.  Congress cut the security budget; that was not on Hillary.  Trey Gowdy and his misfit witch hunt team have found no smoking gun.  There have been more inquires here than Watergate.  Oh, and many, many more State Department employees were killed under George W. Bush, but we don’t talk about that.

But, you say, Hillary is untrustworthy. Got it.  Let’s look at your heroes.  George W. Bush?  He and Cheney lied to get us into the war in IRAQ.  They abused the public’s trust by manipulating fear to start a war that we did not need to be in.  Thousands of lives lost.  No, I don’t think she’s fallen to that level.

How about George H.W. Bush?  Meh.  But he does bear the burden of knowing about Iran Contra and saying he did not.  I think that’s pretty bad.  Oh, you don’t remember Iran Contra?  Let me remind you.  The US government funneled money Nicaraguan Contras by selling weapons to Iran.  But Hillary negotiated with Iran.  Stop it.

Reagan?  He was President during the Iran Contra affair and it was shown he knew about it.  But he, like Cheeto Jesus, was Teflon, so the public ignored him while Oliver North took the fall.  Of course during Reagan’s administration over 130 officials were investigated, indicted or convicted.  That’s a record to be proud of.  Remember, Clinton has not been charged with anything.  Even today there may be nothing, but people are talking like she’s a mass murderer.

But I digress.  Trump blasts Hillary for “pay for play politics”.  Seriously, people, what other type are there?  What are pork barrel politics, if not a version of pay for play? What was Trump’s donation to Biondi about?  He brags about paying politicians.  Mitch “I’m a turtle” McConnell holds up the Supreme Court nominations because “the NRA needs to approve” them. And that’s not pay for play? That’s not corrupt?  Remember Hillary is accused of quid pro quo, accused of having a few meetings.  There is no proof. There is no indictment.  There still is no smoking gun.  But still the Republican Congress looks for it.  Clearly the Republican Congress thinks this is a better use of our tax money than infrastructure, creating jobs or embassy security.  Pay for play hints at bribery.  There is no proof of bridery.  Shit, there may not have been any meetings.  Next you’ll tell me the Clinton Global Initiative (where nearly 90% of every dollar goes to saving lives, not admin – check that against The United Way) is evil.

How about we stop talking about the monsters under the bed that Hillary must have put there.  There are no fucking monsters so stop acting like you are 6.  Own up and admit that you just don’t like an uppity woman that deigns to think she can be president.  That’s 90% of what bothers you about her.  You think she’s overreaching her station. She’s not in the kitchen making you a pie.  She thinks for herself and **gasp** she listens to others in a world where we prize men that stand and talk about themselves.  Yes she’s not perfect.  But she’s way better than most of our politicians.  And on political matters she’s far more truthful than most.  Of course Rush, Hannity and Alex Jones will poo poo Politifact.  Think for yourself.

I know, she’s no role model like our past Speakers of the House.  You know, pedophiles and serial cheaters.  Those are the people that judge her.  Glass houses are breaking all over the country.

Unlike most, I actually like Hillary Clinton.  There are aspects of her you don’t like. There are aspects to my personality you don’t like either and sometimes I’m not your biggest fan, but we get along.  Why is she held to a different standard? She’s not Teflon.  She cares.  She tries.  So don’t like me. Don’t like her.  But stop dragging her through the mud with half-truths and witch hunts.  Because, let me remind you about the alternative.

Donald Trump is facing a civil suit over the the alleged fraud he perpetuated with Trump University, stealing the money from those who could least afford it.  Fraud. That’s like lying isn’t it?

Donald Trump is going on trial for allegedly RAPING a 13-year old.  I know it is hard to fathom.  He only grabs them by the Pussy.

Donald Trump admits to being a sexual predator (he’s bragging about it) and more than 11 women have stood up to say that he did it to them.  I know that a partisan conspiracy.  Taking him on his own merits, isn’t this troublesome?  If we can open our eyes to the Evil that was Bill Cosby, why do we dismiss these egregious acts?

Donald Trump was indicted twice over racial discrimination practices with his company.  Paying large fines and “not admitting guilt” is not the same as being innocent.  I don’t believe he is innocent.

Donald Trump loves to repeat and retweet anti-Semitic and White Supremicist memes.  Last I saw, it was reported that he had retweeted 75 different people who believe in #whitegenocide.  And I’ll never believe his picture, taken from a racist website, with Hillary and the Star of David was not meant to be Anti-Semitic.  I believe Donald Trump is a Racist dog whistler, at the minimum.

Donald Trump support violence if he doesn’t get his way.  Remember when he encouraged people at his rally to incite violence, take them out on a stretch, etc.?  I do.  What about suggesting 2nd Amendment people to “take care of it” if Clinton gets elected?  No, I have never believed that was a joke. All the talk of a “rigged election” has people wondering about the potential violence after the election from his most ardent supporters. Words have consequences.  Cheeto Jesus doesn’t believe those consequences apply to him.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to think Donald Trump is at minimum being played by Russia to affect their goals.  He won’t say a bad word about them.  In light of National Security Agencies announcing Russia was behind the DNC and Hillary Campaign hacks, he says “I don’t know.”  But no one near Trump or his campaigns was hacked.  I do not believe this is a coincidence.  We are all vulnerable to hacking. Period.  Ponder that. (edit: and now we have been told the Campaign was in frequent contact with Russian officials…. why do we let that slide?)

Remember how Trump is engaged in a  (civil, class action suit) trial over the Trump U fraud?  Doesn’t it seem odd that NOW he wants to help the common man, the disenfranchised worker?  Why yes, he is offering the middle class a 1% tax cut.  He’s also offering the very wealth a 10% or more tax cut.  So if you make $50k, you will get an extra $35-50 a month or thereabouts.  But if you make $5m, you get an extra 40k (and probably much more) per month in benefits.  But let’s say you are that 1%, you know the people making $500m (you know, like all the Trumps), you just earned an extra 4-6m in tax breaks.  Really? Like they couldn’t survive the 400m or so they already took home?

When Trump brags about not paying taxes because the government would squander it, think about how he spends his money.  His home was described as the tacky furnishing of an Iraqi hotel lobby.  Have you seen his bathroom, covered in gold?  Who squanders what?

Donald Trump hates global markets.  But his clothing line is made in China and Mexico.  He’s not announced any plans to bring jobs back, just that he will.  And I want to be 6’2”. Wanting isn’t a plan.

Donald Trump wants to close our borders.  Not to illegal immigrants, but to all immigrants.  He wants to go back to racially proportionate norms.  Let me translate that.  No more brown people, but white people who want to come from Europe, you folks are ok.  And you wonder why the KKK supports him.

Not all Trump supporters are racists.  But to my knowledge all Racist groups support Trump.  That should bother many more people than it does.

Donald Trump runs a charity that he stopped funding in 2008, according to various press reports.  The charity was used to settle lawsuits, buy personal items and pay personal expenses.  Funded by donations from others, it seems.  And it was shut down by the NY Attorney General.  Hell, he’d never even filed the right paper work to make the charity legal.  But he’s smart enough to be President.

Donald tells it like it is.  He mocks the disabled.  He calls a beauty queen that gained a few pounds Miss Piggy and humiliates her on TV.  He tells Hillary “you’re the puppet.”  Whose puppet I wonder?  He mocks his political rivals (Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Low Energy Jeb – what is it with ‘L’?).  He has told us that Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers (oops a few of them might be good people he supposes).  He told us a Federal judge, born in Indiana, wasn’t fit to preside over a case because he was Mexican!  Seriously.

His battle cry is “LOCK HER UP!”  This is the fitting end for a woman guilty of the crime of being a woman who challenges him.  I wonder if he should have been locked up?  He’s been found liable or settled over 200 law suits over the past 40 (or so) years.  Remember he doesn’t settle.  That’s some sort of judgement or payment every other month.

I get it. There is so much shit swirling around Cheeto Jesus you’ve blocked it all out.  But should you? have we as a country lowered our standards so low that we would even consider this selfish, egotistical blowhard to babysit our kids, let alone the President of our nation?

So when you go to the polls, do you want to vote for the woman continually investigated and never charged (because mistakes aren’t criminal) or do you want to vote for the man about to go to trial fraud (the rape suite has since been dropped).  The man with what seems to be a fake charity so that others can pay his expenses.  The man who brags about degrading and assaulting women.  The man that lies, lies, lies – but it’s ok, he doesn’t mean it.  How much actual bad judgement, illegal behavior and selfishness will you ignore while you hold another to the standard that suspects she is evil?  Think about the world you want to create.

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Random Thoughts in a non-random world

Assuming Keith Scott actually had a gun (which I don’t believe) and that we are now seeing that good guy with a gun gets shot by the (plainclothes) police in North Carolina, why is the NRA silent?  Is it a stretch to say that the 2nd Amendment only applies to white men?  I’m guessing Anton Scalia would say yes, “Guns move too fast for blacks.”

Why does North Carolina put up with politicians that believe “blacks hate whites” and that transgender citizens are bathroom predators?  What has there been, 1 maybe?  There are more conservative politicians with sexual predatory convictions (or clearly shown cover ups) than transgender bathroom issues.  See:  Dennis Hastert.  I’m not dismissing liberal sexual criminals, but they aren’t the ones driving the laws in North Carolina.

Why must a black man with hands up, assumingly following police commands in Tulsa, be a “bad dude”?  Is the false accusation of being a “bad dude” automatically a death sentence?

In a world where many (90%?) of our Law Enforcement officers are good, if not great people, why must they protect the minority that abuse the power and make mistakes (yes I’m being kind) that end lives?

Why do people think that I am anti-police?  I’m not.  I’m against injustice and the policies and practices that protect the abusers.

In a country where we are proud of our freedoms, including the freedom to protest, why are we focused on one man kneeling during the national anthem as a crime against the country and ignoring what his message is?  Why are the angry conservatives ignoring the message in light of recent tragedies that are on point with his message?

Why do people think that kneeling during the national anthem is a slight against the Military?  The Military defends the constitution and our rights, not a flag and a song.  Peaceful protest is a protected right.

Why do people think that after hundreds of years of slavery and 100+ years of Jim Crow and continued rights violations (see NC and voter restrictions), do people not understand that the black experience in this country is different from all (most?) others?  Why do we think there are easy answers? There aren’t any easy steps.  We are good at easy.  It’s hard. It’s painful to look in the mirror and say, “I’m part of the problem” in some way.  But for the most part, if you are reading this, you are.  So am I.

In the 30’s, the US ignored Europe.  We were worried that Jewish refugees were spies.  Then 6 million were executed, along with other targeted peoples.  Why don’t more people worry that we are doing this again?  Is it because Muslims scare us?  Jew were thought to have horns, so let’s get over our Muslim fear.  For the record, no one in my family has horns.  I won’t speak for other Jews.

Why is it so hard to embrace our heritage of the freedom to practice our religion, when it comes to Muslims?  Yes, there are elements of their texts that are harsh and talk of killing those that are different.  So does the Christian bible, but we conveniently ignore that.  Isn’t that a tad hypocritical?  That’s not to say there isn’t an ISIS, terrorism issue in this country.  There is.  Again, hard problems and difficult work.  Profiling and registration database will inflame those given to intolerance of “Western” values.  Why can’t we be smarter?

Yes, I think there are too many guns in this country.  Yes I think it is too easy to get a gun and way too easy to get a gun capable of killing a great many people in seconds.  I’m in favor of keeping guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.  See: Sandy Hook.  I’ve never heard a major candidate for president say we should round up the guns; TAKE THEM AWAY!  Never.  I guess not. But that is what the NRA is advertising.  Do people really believe that?  Why don’t people realize the NRA is a lobby for the gun manufacturers and survivalists?  Who really needs 100 guns?  5 isn’t enough?  Because once you go past 5, what are your really saying about your need for guns?

After all the 2nd Amendment guaranties the rights to guns. Do people forget that it takes most of the states to ratify a constitutional amendment?   The odds of your guns being taken away in the next 20 years is 0.  And if you are worried about 20 years from now, you are being ridiculous.  Start worrying about 2036 in 2026.  None of us can see that far.

Why aren’t we all working to make this world a better place?  What stopping you?

 

(Not So Great) Expectation, or New Uses for Toothpicks

“The San Francisco Airport train on the opposite side of the platform has just been taken out of service,” interrupted my normal morning commute.  Pulling in to the station, it was clear that the platform was full of waylaid passengers, ready to do their best sardine impressions.  My current cozy environment was about to become hot and crowded.  Luckily, I only had a few more stops.  My expectations were set appropriately; I was sitting in the middle of the train and it would be a game of commuter twister to exit.

I was not disappointed; I bumped, grinded and politely asked the woman who shifted 6mm to really move, as her gargantuan backpack still blocked my path.  Keep in mind, she was not a slip of a thing, her backpack was her reverse doppelgänger.  Eventually, I was able to exit the car before the doors closed, thought this was never a certainty.  What I did not expect lay before me.

The platform was overly crowded.  I had not thought about the effects of the mass of displaced humanity on stations down the line.  Nor did I expect the complete loss of common sense that on display like a Melissa Gorga dance single.  Imagine this, a narrow platform, crowded with displaced people, milling about like the children of South Park performing the works of Phillip Glass.  It was neigh on impossible to pass.  I felt like the Black Knight was trying to stop me from going forward.  There was actually plenty of room, but the imbeciles in front of me worked hard to block my egress.  I couldn’t imagine what they were thinking; their actions indicated their desire to force me off the platform into the path of the next train.  Luckily I persevered and made my way towards my morning coffee and ultimately, the office.

I’ve learned to set my expectations accordingly.  For instance, it never fails that at one intersection on my walk to work at least one car will ignore the stop sign and ignore my rights as a pedestrian in a cross walk.  Similarly in Chinatown, people will inevitably decide to veer to their left and force me to my left, because, as you know, “in Chinatown, no one walks one on the right hand side of the side walk.”  I guess I missed that lesson.    Especially today, when the man with the murderous look in his eye walked straight at me as I hugged the curb to my right and forced me to my left.  He must have thought walking in Chinatown was the same as driving in England.  I mistakenly missed that clear connection.  Of course, by now my expectations have been reset.

Upon entering the building lobby a cloud of noxious air assaulted my olfactory glands. In Peanuts Pigpen leaves a cloud of dust in his wake.  Pepe’ Le Pew does similarly with his stink in the cartoons.  Clearly, a woman in my office decided to merge the two characters and use the most offensive scent imaginable.  It was so thick you could almost see it.  I painfully trudged through it, wishing I had a fan to serve as my urban machete in this toxic jungle.  I was sadly aware that this woman had found a fragrance worthy of the name my internal monologue had bestowed it, au de Durian.

I could only imagine what the wearer of this odoriferous assault was thinking.  No one would notice?  Clearly everyone did.  One of my coworkers had noticed another coworker went heavy with her scent each month for a few days.  He asserted that it was her way hiding Aunt Flow from the rest of the staff.  If that was the case today, Aunt Flow came for a month with all of her sisters and half the street urchins from menstrual town.  Clearly her expectation that her condition would go unnoticed were fallacious.  Nothing like attracting attention when you are trying to slide under the radar, right?

Once in the office, my expectations changed.  I sit at my desk, trying to be productive.  I set my goals, realistically as my expectations, which are rarely too far off, are to be ignored, left out and asked to do some minor secretarial duty from time to time.  That’s my typical day.  I’ve become quite adept at laying low, not trying to help where I am not wanted and ignoring the circuitous conversations headed off a cliff when I have the answer they need.  They don’t want my input.  It has been made clear.

One area I look forward to is my (almost) daily trip to the bathroom.  I know you think you know where this is going, but trust me you don’t.  In the late afternoon I visit the left urinal and do my business.  Nope no colorful language, just efficiency.  There, pointing at 2 o’clock is a sturdy wooden toothpick, half under the urinal screen.  Why is this interesting?  Besides the fact it has been there more than 2 weeks, soaking up fluids from a myriad of human sources like some teenage biology experiment from one of Cthulhu’s disciples?  Shouldn’t that be enough?  I mean the bathroom gets cleaned 2-4 times per day.  Perhaps the janitorial staff need special nuclear gloves or tongs? Why are they waiting for the screen to expire at the end of the month?  What makes this so interesting is really a history lesson concerning small minds trapped in conflict with mismanaged expectations.

We moved into a new office almost 2 years ago.  Within a short time, the expectations of the facilities staff were out of whack.  They picked a very beautiful carpet and layout that looked fantastic in several magazines and advertising campaigns.  However, it was both impractical, counter-productive and filled with questionable decisions.  As an example, the carpet.  While stunning to look at in its large sweeping patterns of light colors and (rumor has it) just as stunningly expensive, it is inappropriate for a large office setting.

In an office of over 100 people (seems like a good place to draw the line doesn’t it?) there will be all types of people – considerate, careful, conscientious and altruistic.  Of course with that many people, you will also find some people that are rude, clumsy, unthinking and selfish.  It is just statistics and human nature.  So actions were taken.  Emails are sent out regularly to make sure people don’t fill their cups too full, always use a lid and heaven forbid DON’T SPILL!  If you sit at your desk too much, you must get a mat, to save the carpet.  What is too much?  I think its 2 hours a day. Since conference rooms are in short supply, people sit at their desks.  Yes, there was no expectation that people will react poorly when they are treated like a kindergarten class being unruly at nap time.  The key take away here is that everything was designed for looks, not functionality or actual use.  But don’t say anything; that would be worse.

But, enough about the carpet, back to the bathroom.  One of the first thing I noticed was that urinals were designed for maximum splash back.  This isn’t the master suite at some hotel where you pay $1500 a night, this is an office where functionality, perhaps even minimalism, should rule.  Facilities noticed there were puddles in the men’s room.  The pretty tile floor was not designed to hide the splashes that occur in many such rooms.  So immediately, this became a crisis.  Emails were sent, notes were posted and nothing changed.  The problem is the urinal, not the people.  Somewhere, a woman surely thought that most of the men in the office were doing fire hose impressions to ruin her wonderful bathroom design.  Let me assure you, men have limited control over how much extreme presume they can exert at the urinal.  But since her expectations were that emails and notes would run the people like sheep down the gangway to the slaughter of modified behavior, they were unrealistic.  Unless no one uses the bathroom that won’t be happening.

There were complaints that the modesty panels were being stained.  Too late.  Yes, stainless steel can be stained.  There was the infamous “hit it or sit it” cartoon, where someone drew in yellow puddles.  Then there were the fly stickers so the men had something to aim at, theoretically minimizing splash back.  While these were fun experiments, my favorite was the constant carousel of urinal screens.  One smelled like apple jacks.  One was ginormous.  My all-time favorite looked like square patch of AstroTurf.

Keep in mind, the urinal screens don’t really help if that’s not where the hose is pointed.  It is more to assuage some deranged need to control actions that are in way related to the original flawed design.  After all, Ford didn’t solve its problems with the Pinto through an extensive campaign extolling the virtues of NOT plowing into the rear of the Pinto in front of you.

Remember the AstroTurf?  It became a magnet for any debris that found its way near.  Let me be clearer.  Men shed pubic hair, on occasion.  At the end of the first few days it looked like the shower at the home of a victim on The Strain.  You’d have thought only Bigfoot used the urinal.  Imagine the end of the first week, then the first month, because that was how long the unsanitary removal cycle was.

When I saw the toothpick at the end of end of July, I knew it was going to be around for a while.  That’s why I often go at 2.  I wonder when it will point to 3 O’clock or become extinct, like the Dodo.  My expectations are that it will be my afternoon companion for another 2-3 weeks.  By then there will be more irrational expectations and ridiculous situations to be shared here.  I began to dwell on its ultimate disposal and the discoveries later day Darwins would find and attribute to it, unknowingly

A Piece of Tape Too Far

An Open Letter to the Parking Nazi at 217 (or is it 229, Who can tell?) Harrison in Oakland, CA.

As you and I both know, I park in front of your building when I drive to work.  I park there because there are always spots there.  You have done such an effective job of scaring everyone away, there is always a spot.  You must realize it is your fault that I infuriate you so much.

(For those of you coming late to this party, 217 Harrison has a banked curb leading to 4 loading docks;  3 of these docks have been converted to office walls or doors, making them LEGAL parking spots.  The office puts flyers on cars, trying to intimidate them into leaving.  I love knowing that 95% of the time I have a spot waiting for me.)

I returned to my car recently, finding 2 new notes.  There was they typical “NO! NO! NO!” flyer, which is often found in on the sidewalk around the neighborhood.  There was also a note, loaded with vitriol, about how you’ve told me many times not to park where I park.  There was also paper taped to my driver’s side window saying “Tow this car!”

I think it is time we clear the air.  For the last several days there have been no flyers on the cars parked where I often park.  Are these your cars or have you been ill?  If you have, I hope you feel better.  I’m neither vindictive or evil, contrary to what you believe.   I feel sorry for you.  Your parents must not have taught you the hard lessons about sharing.  Did you scream when other kids touched your toys?  It must have been lonely not having friends as a child.  The public parking spots on Harrison Street are not yours alone, you really need to share them.  I can only surmise sharing is foreign to you.  I would also point out that putting flyers all over car does not make you my friend.  It does, however, make your passive aggressive and inconsiderate.

Let’s not talk bullshit about how the (mythical, magical) truck needs to park parallel and therefore you are saving me from being blocked in.

  1. Trucks back up to loading docks
  2. Trucks block traffic all the time in our neighborhood
  3. I have never, ever, ever seen a truck at your location
  4. Let’s not forget the time you told me, in our only conversation that you needed access to the windows 8 feet off the ground,  which  told you was ridiculous
  5. Go ahead, block me in.  I work till after 5, often after 6.  What truck driver is leaving your business that late?  That’s right. None.

I won’t minimize the fact that you want these spots all to yourself (or possibly your firm.)  Its an admirable, if misguided goal.  The fact remains that these are public spots and the signs you have posted are not legal.  You do not own the street and any implicit easement was eliminated when your firm build walls rendering the loading docks ornamental.  The parking authority won’t write tickets for the spot I park in and tow trucks won’t be towing me based on your note.  The past 18 months of results bear all this out.

Perhaps you had an “incident” and your sense of reality is skewed.  Did you take the brown acid at Woodstock?  seriously, you were warned. Let me help you in ways your parents and coworkers clearly have not.  Your notes and wishes won’t change reality.  The fact that you don’t want people parking there won’t make it illegal.  I want to win the lottery.  Just because I want to, won’t make it so.  Nevertheless, my odds of success are far higher than yours. Rather than tilting at windmills, perhaps you’d be happier accepting reality and getting on with your life.  This isn’t the Twilight Zone and you won’t wake up tomorrow finding that your misguided sense of reality is the new truth.  Grow the fuck up.

How sad must your life be if you spend this much time placing flyers on cars that aren’t yours?  I’ve seen your work on other vehicles and more importantly, all over the neighborhood.  Clearly you realize that we work near the water and the wind kicks up in the afternoon, cascading your inane flyers over several blocks.  I’m guessing the police are looking for you.  With all the green initiatives in the Bay Area, how do you sleep at night knowing you are a major litter contributor, let alone resource waster?  Have you no consideration for the forests you’ve decimated and the trees you’ve condemned to be part of your folly?

I think you would be better off finding a new hobby.  I don’t think it would be out of line to suggest you start fostering cats.  Start with one, and with your obsessive nature you can add more. Clearly, you will agree that being a crazy cat lady is far better than your fixation on my parking habits.  Let’s be honest, you’ll probably have more friends as the Crazy Cat Lady than you will as the Parking Nazi.  Or at least  you’ll have cats.  And Grumpy Cat on the internet.

Of course if you really wanted to have my car towed, you would have called a tow company.  And since the car isn’t yours the liability you and your company would face in the light of an illegal seizure would be monumental.  It appears that the note you put on my car is a feeble attempt at drawing unsuspecting innocents into your fantasy.  I think it is time you gave up on this fantasy, became and adult and embraced reality.

As I have tried to empathetic to your plight, I know your therapy bills are probably much higher than any plan your company provides, I feel I must be honest with you.  You have annoyed me far more than you have a right to.  I’ve stopped finding your notes funny, silly or sad.  That you have gone so far as to use tape on my car, I feel that your behavior encroaches on battery or defacing of property.  My car is my property and it is not your bulletin board.  Any further defacement of my vehicle will result in my filing charges with the police and ultimately lead to a civil suit.  I am actually considering a class action suit.  You have badgered many people and I’m only too happy to find them and develop a much larger action.  Do you really think all the people you’ve pissed off don’t care?

This is a warning.  My attorney is only too happy to proceed on my next phone call.

I hope you are feeling better.  Perhaps your therapist should increase your Xanax.  You might suggest that on your next visit.

It is Thursday, I needed to Write Something for You

As you know, I really don’t write enough here.  Part of that is my inspiration, which is limited.  I commute, that’s 2-3 hours every day seeing things that might inspire comment and snark.  I’m sure many of you are tired of my BART observations, but that is what you are getting today.  Much like Courtney Love said, you’ll live through this.

Today I was getting on the escalator when I realized the train I thought I’d missed was loading on the platform above.  It was a train that started at my station, empty and going my way.  What more is there to love?  I had thought I’d missed it, but it had been sitting there just waiting for me like a daytime hooker on a hot day.  As i rushed to move up the escalator, I quickly came upon two people, moving in tandem, there was no passing allowed apparently.  When the announcement was made that the train was boarding, they kicked it up a notch; from standing still to moving like banana slugs.  They must have thought this was Santa Cruz.

I probably should have bowled them over, but my mother taught me manners.  I tried to intimidate them into moving faster but they were oblivious to my need to be on that train.  In the old days, my station was the end of the line.  Every train was empty and I could have my pick of seats only constrained by the people in line ahead of me.  There would be 4-8 people in line and 40 seats beyond the door.  This train was like that.  Normally, I need to go to an end of the train, where the 5 of us in line have our pick of 8 seats.  As delightful as that sounds, when there are only a few seats, they often include the seats for the infirmed and seniors.  While I am AARP eligible, I prefer to not hold the seat when blue hair or pregnant woman gets on.   And they will.  That leaves fewer empty seats.  And inevitably all the empty seats are next to:

  • The gangster spread across both seats
  • The larger person who takes up more than half the seat
  • The woman doing her makeup, spread out across both seats, who will inevitably hit me 3 times doing her lashes or get make up on me
  • The person going to the airport whose bags prevent me from sitting comfortable
  • The idiot on the phone telling her friend what a dog her man is or the man having a 45 minute conversation with a stockbroker about how big his portfolio is.

Riding BART is a shared experience.  You often ride the train with many of the same people, as people arrive the same time each day.  We are all, it seems, creatures of habit.  One of my preferences is to not be touching the people I sit next to.  Odd right?  Other people have the habit of expanding their space.  I’m not sure if they are pushing boundaries or if they are oblivious. Either way I hate sitting next to them.

I recall several times when the rider sitting next to me moved their leg, then their arms.  They might have stretched.  Suddenly, they were growing like tribe of tribbles, eating into my space faster than locusts eating corn in farm country.  Before I knew it was against the window, my face pressing into the glass in some odd caricature of  an octopus looking for a way out.  I may as well have been spread for the police to pat me down for weapons or drugs.

I think you can understand why I prefer the empty trains. I can pick my seat, out of the sun, and use my evil eye superpower to keep the undesirables away.  Sadly, it turns out that I am the undesirable seatmate I’ve noticed lately that the seat next to me is one of the last to fill.  I don’t think it is my rugged good looks keeping people away.  I’m pretty sure it is my non-skinny frame and lecherous leer.  Seriously?  Do you really think I leer on the train?

I wind up waiting for the next train.  I’m first in line in the back of the first car.  The first and last cars have the fewest passengers because people hate walking to the end of the platform to ride the car only to have to walk back to leave the station at their destination.  If everyone rode a lark they wouldn’t go to the end because it takes to long.  There is always a reason.  When the train comes, I look to the left and see there is one seat in the middle of the car.  No Dice.  I don’t want to sit next to the obese woman talking on the phone.   I don’t want the single seat by the door.  Looking left I see an open seat in the last row, next to a tiny woman.  This whole process takes about 1 second.

I make my way there, fully committed to the process and my eye on the prize.  As I move into the seat, I see this woman is roughly 5’3″ and 95lbs soaking wet.  She is also asleep and has her right leg extended so that it takes up roughly 30% of my leg room.  ARGH.    Must be the circle of life.

 

 

 

 

A Modest Apology

Earlier this week I decided that I would participate in National Novel Writing Month.  Lambchop has nudged for this off and on for several months.  I don’t think I have a novel in me, but what is the harm in trying? I mean besides my own ego.  I am sure you’ve noticed that my blog posting is irregular.  Sometimes I have 3 posts in a week and other times I can go two week s till I force myself to find something to write about.  More often the trouble is finding things I can write about.  No sense in digging myself into a hole.  Sadly I blame it on my muse.  She is as fickle as four-year-old picking out lollipops.

This has been an interesting year and a time of change.  No, I don’t think it’s my mid-life crisis; it’s still over the horizon, lurking behind the earth’s curvature.   At this point in my life I know what I do and do not do well.  Rather than focus on what I know I can do, I think I should stretch and try something I am pretty sure I’ll struggle with.  That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?  I hope so.

I’m sorry.

My first order of business is to apologize in advance.  I am positive that I will offend at least one person.  My imagination is not nearly as well-developed as it could be.  Someone will see themselves in a character.  Others will recognize a situation and say “How the fuck could Lee write that! He knows I don’t want people to know about that.”  They’ll know.  They’ll see.  They will know I know.  They just won’t know who you are; unless they already do.

I’m sorry.

Once wasn’t enough was it?  Seriously, it never is.

In a perfect world, the words will flow and images and concepts will transfer from mind to fingers to keyboard to keyboard to internet to you.  We both know that won’t happen.  I will probably find comfort and inspiration in the bottom of glass.  That worked well for Poe and Hemingway, and we know how they turned out, right?

Why am I doing this?  I don’t know.  Probably just because.  It is a good enough answer to give our kids, so it must suffice now.  But don’t think I’ll stop watching football, cooking or miss my niece’s bat mitzvah for this.  I won’t.  I guess it is as much of an obstacle course as it is a mental stretch and marathon.  Great.  I have the body all athletes aspire to.

In the end, it really is just an experiment.  I have no illusions that I’m the next George R.R. Martin or James Patterson (ok, I don’t read Patterson, but the Monkey does.)  With a little luck and perseverance it will improve my post quality and frequency here. We will know on December 1st, won’t we?

Now it is time to stock up scotch and maybe some of Evil Twin’s Wet Dream (damn that stuff is great.).  I already have plenty of wine. You knew that.

Opposing views

Wrong is wrong and right is right
Nothing changes overnight
I’ll believe it when I see it in black and white
Todd Rundgren  1976

When I was young, I really believed everything was black and white.  For example, my father was either happy or very angry, there was no in between; vegetables were peas and carrots and those were good or they were lima beans or cauliflower and they were hated.  I was the same way when I started my career things were right or they were wrong- the concept of gray did not exist.  I quickly found that didn’t go over well in the business world.

I am made of strong opinions.  People who don’t really know me see someone who is analytical and breaks everything down into an analysis that generates answers.  Like yes and no.  While I do have those skills and do that from time to time, I’m really much more intuitive, balancing facts, figures and formulas with perception, behaviors and politics.  I didn’t do that so much early in my career and found myself being a polarizing figure.  If you agreed with me or were persuaded by my arguments, you generally like me.  Otherwise, it has always been quite easy to dislike me.  I see that.  I still have strong opinions.  Sometimes I present them less forcefully.

This leads me to where I find myself today – not ready to throw away my principles, but always willing to listen and try to compromise.  The best solutions are not the ones you think of in isolation and force on others.  When you look around you and see who our workplace leaders are, who really holds power in your office or influences others, it is generally not the rocket scientists.  It is not the people who insist on being right 100% of the time.  It is the people who listen, cooperate and communicate.  It’s the people who traditionally did not have all the answers and learned to work well with others.  They probably shared their toys too.

Being able to solve most problems quickly and have the “right” answer has hurt me in retrospect.  It retarded my growth as a person and kept me from building some bridges and relationships that might have helped me in a previously unforeseen manner.   I am not perfect now, but age and my inability to stay in one job help change perspectives.  I no longer am the senior manager/executive who people look to for the answers and leadership.  I’m a consultant.  That’s a fancy name for a contractor with gray hair.

I often find myself disagreeing with the decisions and tactics my coworkers take.  I try to persuade them to consider other angles.  This generally works.  In many discussions with my “boss” I will disagree with him, give him my opinions and why I believe in them.  And then I reiterate that I will do what he wants – it is his shop after all.  I know I am a guest here and I really don’t want to be asked to move out.  Not everyone thinks like that.  I work with a few people who not only have to be right all the time, they need to be continually validated as the  smartest person in the room.  I stopped believing that is possible when I was 35.  Besides, I can usually tell who the smartest person is and it is rarely me.

The other day I overheard another person loudly tell another, “that isn’t best practice and I will fight you on everything that isn’t a best practice!”  Really?  I was appalled.  Beyond the fact that this was confrontational and counterproductive, it was unrealistic.  The concept of best practices is great, but what company is ready to institute best practices across the board?  Most aren’t.  Best practices are like recipes.  It’s great to have recipe, but you don’t always have all the ingredients. I think of recipes as frameworks to help me build the best thing I can. Life, work, cooking are all about improvisation in my opinion.  Except baking.  Baking must be exact and now you know why I rarely bake.

I actually fled from the confrontation I described .  Neither party was willing to listen to the other nor was I in the frame of mind to be the adult helping these two to grow up.  Sadly, I often take that role in the workplace. I had too many other things going wrong to also shoulder their immaturity.  Another thing I’ve learned along the way is that in order to really communicate with someone, they have to be in a place (emotionally, intellectually etc.) where they are open to listening.  They have to want to listen; they need to be receptive. In my mind this wasn’t in the realm of possibility,

One reason this confrontation bothered me was that hit too close to home.  In my world, I try to make politics off limits with my father.  He is very strong in his convictions and cannot discuss politics without yelling and demeaning.  Yes, he does watch much too much Fox News.  He doesn’t need a reason to get upset.  A picture of Obama will do it.  For the record I forced Clinton to have sex with Monica Lewinski and helped railroad Nixon. Its easy to pick on the right wing because they are so preposterous with both their attacks and their stance of being attacked.  But, I don’t care if you are watching the “liberal media” or the “right wing propaganda” both sides are screaming that the other is wrong and they are being attacked unfairly. Really?  In reality it seems to me that they have some similar thoughts, but insist that “theirs” is the right one.  The other is wrong.  and they will do anything to discredit the other.

Neither party gets along with the other.  Both use sound bites to make the other look bad with creative editing.  There are people on both sides of the aisle that are a bit nuts, that’s a given.  And both parties seem to have developed the strategy over the last 20 years that if you won’t do it my way, I’ll stop you from doing anything.  It drives me crazy in life and I saw that in the confrontation at work. When did we substitute compromise with stubborn opposition and blocking tactics?

You know what happened when Ned Stark refused to compromise. Did it matter that he was right? I think we all need a touch of gray.  Right?

Myriad Randomness

Sour Notes
Every day, there is a different busker at the 12th Street BART station in Oakland.  Sadly, the only one worth listening to is the guy with pipes of Pan.  He must be one of those Peruvian musicians they featured on South Park.  Just thinking about it makes me throw up a little in the back of my mouth.  Today was the homeless drunk guy.  He was doing “She Loves You” (Lennon-McCartney) in a vaguely familiar strum on his guitar and a throaty “Please buy me an Olde English 800 40oz” voice.   It was seriously sickening.  If big brother was watching, he should have done something.  Something severe and final in the name of public safety.  My ears were violated and my tummy still hasn’t recovered.  Jello might be the only thing I can eat today.

Social Consciousness in the New Millennium
Remember when cities put up the “don’t block the box” signs?    I guess as a society we figured out that blocking an intersection was not a terribly bright idea.  Of course we needed legislation and penalties to help make the behavioral change.  I get coffee at Peet’s every morning.  They have their own version of an intersection.  The line goes out the door and the counter is awkward, making it often difficult for patrons to leave and the baristas to move to the floor from their works space.

I have figured out that if I stand just outside the door opening, I can leave enough space for the wondrous workers to go back and forth easily and the departing patrons have plenty of room.  I was waiting in this spot the other day, leaving copious room for traffic.  I was waiting for enough room on the far side of this retail grand canyon.  There were 5 or 6 people behind me.  The older Asian woman behind me tapped my shoulder and said “you can move up.”

I was writing an email on phone and demonstrated with my arm that I was leaving room for the staff to move through and the other patrons to leave.  As if on cue, my favorite barista walked by with an arm full of empty milk and cream dispensers.  I got a smile from the barista and  an “oh” of understanding from the woman behind me.  Perhaps I had made the point and made a small change in the world.  A moment later,  there was room to cross the aisle and be out of the way;  I moved forward, leaving room for others.    Then the older woman moved forward as did the rest of the line, forming a near impenetrable barrier. Why do I bother?

Brother can you spare a fish?
Lambchop and her family went deep sea fishing.  Of course I was invited and of course I said, “WTF? On the dock at 5:30am, sea sickness and fish guts?  I’m honored you thought of me, but I’ll be asleep.  Thank you kindly.”  Rational thought says I’d be asleep.  Reality, sadly, was different.  On those nights when you get up differently – Lambchop wouldn’t be gently waking me, there’d be an alarm – you rarely sleep soundly.  The whole night is spent on edge, trying not to oversleep.  Add in another waking up at 4:30 and no matter how hard they try to be quiet, sleep is vanquished.  At least a little.

So that didn’t go the way I planned.  And I got home from work to a sleeping princess, recovering from a long day of fishing and swaying.  And lots of fish.  Lambchop was a fishing star, catching almost twice the limit.  Some went back. Others went to the family to make their limits.  Rock Cod, Ling Cod and Red Snapper.  Last night I concocted a Thai inspired sauce for a large fillet of Ling Cod.   It was indeed, Spicy and delicious.  We’ll be eating fish at least once a week for a few months.  Just don’t ask me what kind. I don’t think the bags in the freezer were labeled prior to deposit.  But it will be fresh.  And you know what they say about fresh fish – it doesn’t taste like fish.

Ewww
All the men, please take one step back.  You are excused.  For those of you left, have you read Fifty Shades of Gray?  Please, don’t lie to me.  Much better.  What is it with that book?  Suddenly everyone’s reading it.  As I understand it, it’s got as much to do with consensual kinky relationships as Rosie O’Donnell’s dominatrix in “Exit to Eden” had to do with any reality.  So why is everyone reading it?  I guess it takes fake BDSM to capture the mainstreams fantasies. (I only know what I read in EW.)

The other night in Costco, a woman that reminded me of my MieMaw (in her 70s or so) was so caught up in a book that she was oblivious to people walking by.   I saw it was a table of 400 copies of Fifty Shades Darker.  Really?  At Costco?  We all know – at least you should –that I am not a prude.  Do we really want our daughters picking up this book at Costco?  Shouldn’t our MieMaws be forced to at least go to Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com to pick up this titillation?  Its like breaking the fourth wall.  I don’t want to know.

I had the willies after seeing this.  What do you think Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh or  the Southern Baptist Convention would think of this scene? Has Fox News documented this wonderful new book for its female views?  I’m guessing a protest is coming to a Costco near you.  Maybe they could put the books by the pharmacy.  I don’t go to that section of the store.

 

For reference Sheldon Cooper calls his grandmother MieMaw.

Thus quothe the goose, “HONK!”

Sleep came for me as Stephen Colbert quizzed Charlize Theron on the political message in “Snow White and the Huntsman.”    The lights in my mind dimmed as the pillow ushered me down and far away.  My dreams could have been about the Mines of Moria or painting a red door black.  There was nothing.  I was happily drifting in the in-between. Then there was a goose. No.  Wait.  It was a car honking.  You know the sound, the motion alarm that goes off when garbage trucks drive passed too close or you park near the train tracks when the freight cars go by.  My haze thinned, but remained.  Was it my car?  My car goes off all the time.  This didn’t sound like my car, but I didn’t really want to move.  Lambchop and the Monkey jumped into action looking for my keys.  I was as sure as any sleepyhead could be that it wasn’t my car.  Lambchop returned to a backdrop of honks and confirmed my suspicion.  It was in the church parking lot.

My haze was obliterated.  This demonic car was going to honk a while.  Then it stopped.  Lambchop and I shared the dark and the dread.  A few seconds later it was back, urgent in its hopeless need for attention.  It was 11:49pm.  I’m pretty sure the Catholics lock their gates by 11pm.  It wasn’t so loud that it was front and center.  If I turned on the TV, the sound would drown it out.  But in the silence I sought for slumber, it cut an uneven swath through the room like a jagged edge.

After several minutes, the incessant honking stopped.  Slumber approached like a timid doe, seeking refuge.  Honks broke the silence and the doe bolted.  I knew I could outwait the honks of a car that was probably nicknamed Christine by its malevolent owner.  Eventually it stopped.  Was it done?  I dared not hope for such quick resolution.  Silence, as precious as water in the desert.  Silence, short-lived.

My previously fogged mind was now a sunny day in July. I was determined to forcibly move these sounds to the background, compartmentalized them like Lucifer in Sam’s mind.  This was the Chinese water torture of the dreamless kind.  After a few moments, I decided to count the honks like sheep.  I had missed the first 20 or 30.  I wasn’t in my right mind, because when I got to 30, I started over.  When I got to 22 a second time, I realized the honks had stopped.  Was this madness?

I believe there were 3 or 4 more cycles of honks.  In my mind I was stuck in an aural Edvard Munch creation.  My inability to psychically move the discordant sounds to a box in the back of my mental closet troubled me.  Then the goose came back.  The honks were inconsistent and often incomplete.    The sounds moved from predictable patterns to a random walk, seemingly constructed to encourage irrational thought.  The goose became a duck as the honks truncated and played out into the night sky.  There too many birds in my bedroom.  Could their droppings be far behind?

Internally, a switch was flipped and the logical part of my mind realized that the Christine was running out of juice.  I was winning the waiting game, if I could recapture rationality. Perhaps I was losing.   I secretly hoped the battery was dead and owner would have issues with the car, receiving a karmic present of sorts. And I was tired. I couldn’t look, but I’m sure it was around 12:20am. Perhaps it was 2:30am.  Did it really matter? I put up no resistance as the Sandman came to carry me to a better place.