A String And A Million Tin Cans…

After a tumultuous week of social observance, the calls to delete, unplug, keep scrolling, and disconnect are increasing.  These times call for more cat memes, and fewer political posts, maybe…

Too often we forget that the root-word for ignorance is, ignore.  In no way am I suggesting a person is ignorant for the act of avoidance, especially when that avoidance is due to information saturation, notwithstanding the probabilities of ingesting false information.  However, the more we avoid, the less informed we become, even if we don’t like or are overwhelmed by that which we would rather avoid.

It’s easy to suggest that paring down, or disconnecting from social media altogether might be beneficial to one’s mental health, but with social media being the single most used form of communication in the 1st and 2nd worlds, this avoidance can only go so far.  There is still, after all, the media.  Also, there’s the 2nd hand smoke thing – what you don’t see on social media will find you at the water cooler or coffee shop anyway.

When I gave away my car 10 years ago, I did so because I no longer wanted to contribute to what I thought was the biggest disaster in history; manmade climate change.  I felt empowered, and in some ways morally and intellectually superior to Joe Schlepasaurus, for my profound act of avoidance.   Of course, it wasn’t too long before I realized that driving, regardless of its consequences, was part of our social structure, and necessary in the immediacy to keep our societies running.  Driving less – or only when necessary might have been a better response to my concern over climate change.

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One can make that argument with everything to from government, to the use of plastics, to institutionalism, and even alcohol.  Limited is useful, has its place, and can be good for society.  Too much… is bad.

Whether we like it or not, participate in it or not, social media is a part of where we are as a species today, and a major part of how we communicate.  It will evolve into different forms, and lead people in different directions, and continue to influence our social structures.  It will also continue to influence our behaviors, whether we like it or not.  Once this level of mass intercommunication has been reached, like transportation, there is no going back, only a slow evolution of the system.

As to us being the unwitting puppets of social media’s algorithms, what upright doddering hominid hasn’t been influenced by them…?  From scripture, to governance, to journalism, to entertainment, to the algorithms of Instagram, most of our thoughts and behaviors are the result data, agenda, and the people behind them.

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This is where we’re at.  Social media frustrates me as much as governments and freeway interchanges ever have, and yes, that means that on occasion it has caused me to host both murderous and suicidal thoughts.  I don’t act on those thoughts, because the algorithms haven’t brought me there – not yet anyway.

But the upside of social media is phenomenal.  So much of the good, and so many of the remarkable changes taking place in the world today are the result of social media, that it cannot be overlooked as the most useful instrument of change since gunpowder.

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Delete your account.  Scroll on past.  Use it less.  Post a cat meme, I get it.  Global interconnectivity is increasing, it’s inevitable, and social media is, I’ll suggest, is one of the most important tools we will ever have to do good things in the world – even if it frustrates the shit out of us…  Jhciacb

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Immigrant Song…

I live in a town with a large immigrant culture. Many come from Central America, and Mexico. Most of the immigrants I have come to know here are among the hardest working, and most humble people I know. I find them more inspiring than I do professional athletes or even astronauts. They also tend to be reverent, and respectful.

When I cross paths with, or interact with the local immigrant culture, they are often on bicycle or on foot en-route to their long days of picking fruit or working elsewhere in agriculture. I have employed several through the years for both short, and long-term work.

There are many commonalities I have observed with them as a collective, chief among them is that I am almost always met with a smile, and a greeting. Most often their shirts are tucked in, they say please and thank you to everything that moves, and they value a dollar – not covet it. From most of them, I sense something genuine.

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Among the immigrant population here, there seems to be no real sense of resentment that they are on foot or on bike rather than a Lexus. I feel a genuine sense of gratitude from the immigrant culture that a dog might also have, but a wealthy neighbor probably doesn’t.

Immigrants, I believe, sense and appreciate opportunity far better than most of us, having often sprung from more stark beginnings. Many I have known see little use for even a lunch break.I believe living in this community, with its high concentration of immigrants, has inspired me to live a more humble, and harder working life. I am grateful that I have a chance to interface with these inspirational people most every day of my life… Jhciacb

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Mariah Sucks…

The wind can go fuck itself.  Really, it can.  And no, this isn’t going to be some mindful shtick, like my usual shtick, with a touchy-feely message woven into it by the end.

The wind can go fuck itself.

I have been proximate to, or affected by every natural disaster except for a tsunami.  Volcano, hurricane, tornado, mudslide, dust storm, flood, blizzard, avalanche, earthquake, fire, and probably a few I can’t recall, have each threatened my family, my own life, or my home.  Wind, to some degree, is a colleague to many of these, though not always.

Truth be told, I love natural disasters and extreme weather phenomenon.  I look for them when I can, and enjoy them when they find me.  I will go out of my way and take great risks to stand at the shoulder of a disaster, or even within that disaster, and always in awe.  When in the throes of an organic upheaval, I am like a child on a thrill ride.  And what is a natural disaster, but the ultimate thrill ride…?

I have always accepted wind as a necessary ingredient to propel and expand most these phenomena.  After all, what is a fire, or a hurricane, a tornado, or a blizzard without wind…?  Wind on an otherwise clear day though, is the ingrown toenail of weather phenomenon.  At best, wind on a clear day is annoying.  At its worst, it’s hateful.

We’ve had 3 weeks of on again off again rain here in Fallbrook, and with some very powerful winds.  Despite the devastation which resulted from these storms, I have enjoyed every moment, though it has kept me from my cycling routine.  Today I woke to a blue sky, and a day which promised to be clear all day and near 70 degrees.  Thanks to a couple of cancellations at the peak of the sun, I found myself with a warm afternoon off.  My bike was calling me.

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I wasn’t too far from the house when I turned from northbound Main Avenue to the eastbound Mission Road  when it hit me; a dry Santa Anna which slowed me immediately and nearly stood me up.  Oh, and I was then heading uphill.  I found myself tucked and hiding behind my lower gears like they were my momma’s apron when I was a child.  I was defeated before I had gone 2 miles.

I hate riding in the wind.  Hate.   New York Yankee hate.  Dallas Cowboys hate.  Adolph Hitler hate.  Albertson’s grocery store kind of hate.

A quick right turn and I was headed home, beaten and demoralized before I got out of town.  I would return to my fitness studio and spend an hour or so on my stationary bike to undo the shame.  I pushed it up to the window where I would peddle and watch the wind blow the eucalyptus and palm trees like they were weeds in the distance, but even with the windows and door open it wasn’t the same.

No sense of freedom.  No immersion into nature.  Just mechanical cardio to clear my head.

Despite that I exercised – that I did do more than most people do on a given day, I couldn’t shake that I am quitter, a loser, and that I suck as a human being for tucking tail and heading home, beaten by the wind.

But unless it’s accompanying the natural disasters which so amuse and entertain me, the wind can just go fuck itself.  It just can…  Jhciacb

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Son Of Sam Crazy…..

I’m crazy, I often tell people.  Not Son Of Sam crazy, just regular crazy.  It’s a joke I stole from Chevy Chase over 40 years ago.  I do get to see Son Of Sam crazy though, almost daily.

Every few days or so, when I walk along the Pico Promenade, a nature trail which runs through town and parallels Main Street, my dog and I pass by a young man for whom crazy is the most appropriate term, despite that the term isn’t a politically correct.

He’s maybe in his mid-20s – Hispanic, with extremely short hair, and razor stubble which is always in equal proportion to the hair on his head.  Always shabbily dressed, and always standing in one spot, looking slightly up, and talking aloud in Spanish.  Occasionally he laughs, and gestures with his hands.  He seldom acknowledges us when we pass by, as though he’s in another dimension of time and doesn’t even know we’re there.

I confess, he scares me a little.

I’m not a rocket psychiatrist, but I’ll go out on a limb and suggest he’s had a hit or 10 too many of something that may have contained drain cleaner or radiator coolant as a major ingredient. The brain cells which seem to have once been there, probably developed some gaps.  I could be wrong, but knowing this town and those who gather behind Main Street, I doubt it.

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Occasionally, my dog will slow down to sniff the man’s pant leg or shoes.  At this, I usually cringe a bit, and hope that he doesn’t sniff too long.  Yesterday, Stroodle must have latched on to a scent, because he stayed at the man’s feet smelling his sock for a moment.

Not sure what to do, I simply said good morning to him.  At that, he stopped his Spanish chatter, looked me in the eye, and asked in perfect English, and with an absolute presence of being, if I had money for some cigarettes.  I told him no, and apologized that I did not.  He looked to the ground slightly disappointed, then turned his eyes back to the sky and continued his Spanish chatter.

My dog and I continued on…  Jhciacb

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Sniff And Follow…

Sniff And Follow…

I had a one-eyed dog for many years, Pumpkin.  Pumpkin’s one eye would give way to age, and I then had a blind dog.

I began noticing her loss of vision as one might expect; she would turn corners too soon and hit walls, and she would be more apprehensive approaching things and people in a darker environment.  Eventually, she began to freeze and stay in one place, often showing confusion until I found her and helped her along.

I overcame this, and enabled her to live a more independent life with the use of candles.  I wanted to share that here today, in case any of you have or know of people with blind dogs.

Not lit candles, but I used them as markers on the ground.

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My home at the time had tile floors throughout, and Pumpkin used 3 rooms regularly; the kitchen, the living room, and my bedroom.  She also used a small patio off my bedroom, which she accessed via doggie door.

I took 3 candles, each with a strong, but different scent.  Starting in the kitchen, by her feeding dish, I took one candle and scraped it lightly along the floor in a line from the kitchen into the living room sofa where she like to sit.

I took a 2nd candle, with a different scent, and scraped it lightly along the floor from the kitchen to my bedroom and to my bed where she also liked to sit.

Lastly, I took the 3rd candle, again with a different scent, and scraped it lightly along the floor from my bed to the doggie door leading to the patio, where she liked to sun herself.

Every few weeks or so, I would retrace the lines to keep the scent strong enough for her to find. This helped Pumpkin find her way around my home for years.

Eventually, would lose her sense of smell and remain close to her feeding dish most of the time, where I also kept a blanket for her to sleep on.  Otherwise, I carried her from room to room.

Nothing big here today.  I Again, I just wanted to share this for anyone who might benefit from the idea…  Jhciacb

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Ass Chewing: It Leaves A Bitter Aftertaste.

If your job is to land jets on an aircraft carrier, it’s assumed that you are good at it.  That’s why you get a paycheck.

Say one day you have bad landing.  Your commanding officer witnesses this and gives you an ass chewing.  Your next landing is noticeably better, and your CO sees the difference.  He assumes that the ass chewing got you to raise your game, and now ass chewing is deeper in his leadership DNA.

Conversely, one day you have a particularly good landing – a textbook landing, and your CO sees it.  He’s delighted, so he praises your competence.  Your next landing isn’t as good, so he assumes his praise caused you to ease up on your attention to detail.  From this, he chooses to avoid praises in leadership style for its obvious detriment to the cause of landing jets safely on deck.

Here’s the thing; you’re there landing jets on small spaces because you’ve been proven competent at doing so.  On average, you always get the job done within the scope of expectations.

Truth:  An exceptional landing will almost always be followed by a lesser one.

Truth:  A poor landing will almost always be followed by a better one.

It’s the law of median effect.

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Yet much of our institutionalized instruction is rooted in the discipline of ass chewings.  Academia, sports teams, our military and so-on depend on ass chewings to raise their game.  Praise though, is used all too sparingly in these environments.

Turns out that in the big picture, praise may not raise one’s game all that much.  Still, praise contributes to a positive environment.

It also turns out that ass chewings don’t do too much to raise one’s game – and very often make for a demoralized environment.

One more truth:  Success in anything is rooted exclusively in intelligent training, and consistent practice over long periods of time…  Jhciacb

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The Intergalactic Short Bus…

People watching is my favorite sport.  I am fascinated by the variety we hominids display with our aesthetics and our behaviors.  Diversity is what we do best as a species, even if that diversity is the foundation for most of our hates and fears.

Last evening I was people watching in the local market.  In no hurry go home after fulfilling my grocery list, a purposeless meander seemed a great way to pass time.  I strolled up and down the aisles, observing other lives incarnate, while contemplating my own.  It’s a game of comparisons, or as I like to call it, Jhciacb Counts His Blessings.

I became aware that a group of special needs adults were being led about the market by a woman who was clearly their doyen.  It seemed they were residents of a group home, and there to select groceries for the coming week.  The leader asked questions to them as individuals, and encouraged them to make consensus decisions.

I followed them for a bit, eavesdropping, studying, and contemplating.  Suddenly I remembered I needed Brussels sprouts, and broke off from my tailgating.  When I caught back up to the group, they had dispersed.  Apparently, each had been assigned an item or two to gather on their own.  This would be a good study.

I continued wandering the aisles as the blender in my head churned, still people watching – still contemplating.  At some point, my brain went sideways when I realized I couldn’t differentiate the special needs people from anyone else.

Without their leader guiding them, they all just blended in.

Suddenly, if only for a moment, I viewed anyone in the store as a special needs person, until I concluded that they were or were not one.  But I think I got it wrong at least a few times…

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And that’s when it hit me; that we’re all special needs people, each with varying abilities and peculiarities.   Most of us get through it though, with no need for a grocery store leader, and for that we should be grateful. We just go in circles around the sun, day after day, doing the best we can on this intergalactic short bus we call earth.

As I watched the special needs people reconvene with their leader at the checkout line, I couldn’t help wonder if they really needed a leader at all.  Some seemed to be doing okay on their own.  And I also wondered if maybe myself, and a few others in there, wouldn’t have been little better off with someone to take our hands and show us the way…  Jhciacb

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No Workout, No Cry…

I was 3 repetitions into my first set of leg extensions.  Spinny Spinny, which is the name I have given my brain when she churns too fast for my own good, wouldn’t slow down.  Every thought I had ever thought, it seemed, was passing through my head again, and all at once.

I stopped my leg extensions and turned off the novella I had just downloaded to listen to while I commenced my lower body workout.  It was the end of a long Monday, and I had no desire to lift weights.  I have been lifting weights most days of my life for 43 years.

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Will wait on this until I can give it a clear head…

Going back nearly 3 months now, my mind has been too occupied to focus on my workouts.  My life has gotten busier, I have developed other interests, and my responsibilities with my mother have increased.  It seems every time I walk into my studio to work out, I either get interrupted or my mind is so focused on all the would-be interruptions which haven’t yet landed, that I just pick one to accommodate so I can get it over with.

I have been at the cusp of a big change in my workout life for years it seems.  Aging, new interests, and the increasing responsibilities of my life have been whispering to me…

This can’t go on.  This can’t go on.  This can’t go on.

And I have ignored those whispers, refusing for years now to let go of what has most defined me in my life; my love of and my need for daily exercise.

At least a dozen times since my late 40s I have attempted to scale back, and just be grateful for what I can fit into a week’s time when it comes exercise.  Tonight though, I cry uncle, and this time I mean it.  I can no longer keep up the schedule of kinesis which has been the framework of my life, for so much of my life.

I have worked out with weights 5-6 days per week since I was 12 years old.  I have also included a peripheral 30-minute cardiovascular workout at a different time of day, and at least 6 days per week, for nearly 17 years.

Since this past Thanksgiving, I have been lucky to have taken 2 strength workouts and 2 cardio workouts per week, and some weeks there have been none.  N.O.N.E.  Exercise is no longer fitting in the way it once did, and it’s been frustrating.

That frustration is in part due to the absence of the chemical reactions which exercise provides.  This is the rapid exchange of serotonin between receptors in the brain which results from rigorous movement, and is what has kept me from killing people for 43 years.

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No Leg Day, No Cry…

But the larger part of my frustration is due to my own stubbornness – the expectation that I could continue my holy regimen despite that my life beyond exercise has just gotten more crowded and that exercise, whether I accept this or not, is being pushed to outer edges of the tent by forces much stronger than I.

Tomorrow morning I will wake up with the expectation that on any given day I will choose to perform a strength workout or a cardiovascular workout, but will no longer attempt fit both in on the same day.  The 27-hour days I have been hoping would show up to save my workout regimen, I now accept, just aren’t coming.

This is in no way to suggest that I am giving up on exercise.  In addition to being a longtime passion, exercise is still my livelihood.  I need to walk the walk.  I will exercise every day of my life so long as I am able.  It’s just needs to be a smaller part of my life now, and I will be accepting of any changes to my physicality which result from these changes in my schedule.

And this is not about moderation.  It’s about adapting to a changing life and accepting newborn priorities.  Those changes are now manifest, and I am realizing that the most dignified art of all, is the art of letting go…  Jhciacb

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This will be dead someday, and so too will I.  The art of letting go…

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A Dog With A Job…

Stroodle and I had been housesitting for some friends recently. We had also been charged with the care of a German Shepard named Ilse.

This turned out to be a bit of a hardship on Stroodle for several reasons, not the least of which is that Stroodle open feeds. With other animals around, and in a strange home, open feeding wasn’t an option. Stroodle’s feeding schedule got thrown off, and subsequently so did his potty schedule. He hadn’t pottied in over 48 hours and I was beginning to get concerned.

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Ilse and Stroodle…

As we went about our Saturday morning walk, Ilse included, I explained to Stroodle that our business relationship was based on an exchange of services. I give him food and shelter. In exchange, his job is to provide love, joy, and potty. It’s a verbal agreement, but one which has never been tested.

He just offered me a quizzical look…

I went on to suggest to him that his lack of potty in recent days was bordering on unprofessional. I noted how Ilse had been the consummate professional, despite that her schedule had also changed.

The quizzical stare continued…

I suggested a compromise, and that he work with me and at least try and sniff out a good spot to potty.

He turned and looked at a nearby bunny hopping through the heather…

Finally, I explained to Stroodle that I expect better from him. I used a stronger tone, a greater inflection, and threw in some extreme hand gestures in hopes he would get my point.

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Ilse, very professional…

“I want potty and I want it now!” I exclaimed.

Quizzical look, this time with a tilted head…

That’s when the small man with the athletic frame, clad in skin tight running gear stood up from the bench where he had been stretching – unseen by me until that point.

“You have a nice dog” he said. “Maybe you should talk to his union rep…” He then began his jog.

And that, THAT is why I will someday be known as the crazy dog man of the Los Jilgueros Preserve.

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WIP:  Work In Progress…

We continued our walk with no further incident… Jhciacb

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Reading, Writing, And Writhing…

I received a nice compliment from a friend the other day.  He said that he enjoyed my morning musings here on Facebook.  He likes the way I write, but he called into question my claim to be reading challenged.

“Nobody who writes as eloquently as you could have a reading disability” he suggested.

I get that from time to time.  I can write 1,000-word essay in 20 minutes, yet it would take me in excess of an hour to read one the same length.

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I absolutely LOVE to write, and I can’t stand to read.  Here’s a simple explanation as to why:

There are essentially two root causes of dyslexia.  The first being an information processing disorder.  The second being a visual processing disorder.  The kind I live with is a visual processing disorder.

When I write, there’s no visual processing involved.  Thoughts form in my head and get relayed, via synapses, from my brain to my fingertips, which then put them to pen or to keyboard.  My eyes are not really involved.  I can type with my eyes closed with good accuracy.

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When I read, it’s a visual process.  I see words first through my eyes, then attempt to form them into thoughts, via synapses which lead from my eyes to my brain.  When it comes to words, those synapses are uneven tracks for information to glide upon.  That’s okay.  I can listen to books rather than read them, and I process the information better with my ears than I do with my eyes.

I share this for one reason; that you may have a child, niece, nephew, or grandchild who hates to read, but does well with writing.  Often when a child dislikes or even fears reading, but is also a capable writer, he is seen by adults as being lazy, unmotivated, or as a child with lesser priorities.

Forcing a child who lives with dyslexia to read more in hopes he’ll just get better at it, is not the right course of action, and I assure you, it can be traumatic.  It may be that he has a form of dyslexia rooted in visual processing.  Get him tested.  Get him help.  Don’t be a dick.  It may change his life – for the better…  Jhciacb

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