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Is It Done Yet

I keep wanting to write blogs that I can post right away.  Get some momentum going.  This one seems to be a repeat of the 2nd to last one I posted. The problem is, I keep writing about ideas that I’ve been ruminating over for awhile, and getting these ideas laid out, and laid out clearly, takes some time. And that runs me into my other problem – assuming there are only two, altogether. This other problem is, I suppose, lack of discipline. Writing, at least for me, takes more stick to it -tiveness than I find easily accessible. Oh. I guess there’s more problems. Clarifying my thinking on such issues as I ponder off and on many days is not something I find easy.  So, I guess the best thing I can say about my blogging is that at least I’m doing my best not to palm off my half-baked ideas while I still recognize they’re half-baked.


Dark Matter

What in the world goes on inside our heads?  Oh sure, there’s the stuff we control.  We can add two plus three and reliably reach five.  We can find our way home again after we’ve been to the store, although finding where we parked our car isn’t always so reliable.

But I mean the seemingly random thoughts that arise, almost like dreaming while awake. A minute ago, I was in the kitchen, and I began singing “Inka Dinka Doo”, phrasing it the way I remember Jimmy Durante did.  Okay, remembering Durante’s performance, in connection with this song is easy to fathom.  But why on earth did I begin singing it? I would guess that I have not heard the song in years and years. I don’t recall having anything cross my consciousness lately having anything to do with that song, with Durante, with big noses.  What neurons firing brought this memory forward into consciousness?




Perhaps our minds are like the universe.  Much of the universe is now thought to consist of dark matter. Matter that we cannot perceive, but merely infer.  Perhaps our minds are conscious in just a small way, and most of it is unconscious.  Entirely outside of our control, outside, perhaps, even of our understanding.

Inka, dinka, doo.


Who are all these bloggers who post every day? Hell, every week.  Okay, fine; who are all these bloggers who post every month?  Not me. I start writing and before too long I stop writing.  I seem to prefer reading to writing.  Actually, based on the evidence, I seem to prefer washing dishes to writing.  I am slightly reassured having read recently that Ernest Hemingway is reported to have said that he preferred having written to writing.  Oh, I feel that way.  I feel that way about so many things.  I prefer having washed my dishes to washing them.  However, in order to move things forward, just possibly feel more productive, and go back to watching old episodes of This Week Tonight, I’m going to call this sucker finished, and post it on WordSpace, or whatever that site is where I haven’t posted a blog in months.



Drove up to Arcata CA last week. Took 2 days, spent a night in Petaluma at an AirBnB place, my host a nice enough guy, not especially outgoing, but then I’m not either. Nothing special about the room, but it was a private room, with a door that locked, and the bedclothes appeared to be clean, and the mattress was comfortable, so no need to write more about that. I don’t think I had specified on the website that I was looking in Petaluma, but it was my first time using Airbnb and I didn’t realize that you type in one city or town and they give you listings for all nearby cities and towns also. Those listings show the town name, but I think I didn’t notice. In fact, Petaluma was a little out of my way, and caused me to have to drive through Emeryville and Berkeley near San Francisco during the rush hour and also caused me to have to cross a toll bridge for $5.

101 from then on, to Arcata, was very pretty. California is a huge, and hugely beautiful state. I drove around in Eureka a little bit before I went on the Arcata to stay with friends for a few days. While there, I drove to Moonstone Beach in Trinidad, and also drove to Loleta, Fortuna, Ferndale, McKinleyville, Blue Lake and maybe a few more communities, having a bit of a look/see.

With my friend Mack I drove north of Arcata and went to the Fern Valley for a bit of a hike, and then with his significant other, we drove through Samoa which is on the spit of land just west of Arcata and has its own bridge connecting it to Eureka.

Ferndale has a lot of beautifully restored and painted Victorians. Loleta has a lot of cows. Samoa has a lot of tiny old houses from when the area was filled with loggers (who were notoriously tiny, thus the tiny houses).

After 3 or 4 days I decided it was a good time to head home and I left about 630 in the morning and drove south on 101 stopping here and there for gas and coffee and breakfast and vista points and for a bit of a visit to a redwood forest. I turned off, maybe on Hwy 29, and went vaguely east past the north side of Clear Lake, and made sure to stop at a bunch more vista points because I’d soon be on I-5 and the scenery would become much more vast farmland and a tad less accessible.

By 230 I’d probably driven around 400 miles and was getting tired of driving, but it was only 230, and I hadn’t made a reservation to stay anywhere. Oh, a note about that.

I hadn’t been entirely happy with my first use of the Airbnb site. It kept telling me I’d made mistakes filling out their forms, but wouldn’t let me correct them, and then it would turn out that the forms I’d filled out had been accepted anyway, but the site didn’t tell me that. Also I’d booked my room the day before I left (or was it the morning I left?), and although I got confirmation very quickly, I didn’t get the actual address of my lodgings for maybe 8 or 9 hours after I left home, just as I was driving into Petaluma and had gotten pretty anxious about what I’d do if I didn’t get the info I needed. For a place on the way back home, I looked at Airbnb and also Priceline and just felt both of them involved a lot of bait and switch. Hey, this room is $60…until you go to book it, then on Priceline it’s more money, plus a fee that shows up later in the process, and with Airbnb you’ve got one price until you go to book the room, then find out that there is a fee for Airbnb (reasonable enough I guess) and a cleaning fee anywhere from $3 to $25 for the particular room (set by the owner, but what’s the point of going through the entire booking process without actually knowing what the room will cost me). Also, the user reviews were useless. One I looked at for a motel in Santa Nella, CA, listed on Priceline, had one review that said the place was great, and the next review said the motel was filled with druggies, the room had dirty sheets and mold on the walls, and I should stay away.

So, frustrated by the process, I just drove out of Arcata and figured I’d find a motel if I needed one. As it happened, I just stopped at a rest area near Avenal and slept in my car for an hour, and then drove all the way home. 675 miles, 16 1/2 hours counting nap, meals, gas stops, pit stops, vista points and an auction in an antique shop.

California is beautiful, and I feel quite refreshed having had 5 days out of the city.

Jack Benny, 39 y/o

Jack Benny claimed to be 39.

I just turned 64. Up until very recently I believe I held the secret thought that I was going to somehow never suffer the effects of declining health. Although I’m sure I had already suffered some, it was mild enough, and achieved gradually enough, that I could ignore it. Recently that has begun to change.

I have sleep apnea. Probably have had it for years but had it officially diagnosed last August, and I have been trying to learn to sleep while wearing a cipap face mask ever since. None too successfully. Lately, the lack of good sleep has begun to kick my butt. I use a nasal spray called Dymista, which is azelastine hydrochloride and fluticasone proprionate for anyone who is interested, and I just may be able to pronounce it, but I don’t know what it is. Which mostly says that I have not tried to read the printed insert. I will probably undergo a minor, outpatient, surgery called a turbinate reduction that may help me sleep with the cipap gadget.

I had an incident about a month ago that I thought might have been a mild heart attack, though that has, thankfully, turned out not to be the case. At least no positive results showed up in the several EKG tests and the stress/echo test. Still, at the time, it led to my calling 911 for myself, for the first time in my life.

My jaw hurts a bit at the tmj. I get mild headaches more often than I used to. I’m overweight and my flexibility has declined a lot. My eyes often burn in the morning and sometimes in the late evening. I am a bit fearful that my cognitive abilities have delined (and this is a possible result of sleep apnea), although, I suppose, it could simply be that I don’t get enough sleep because of the apnea, so that I’m sleepy, rather than permanently less mentally able.

I’ve been watching a lot of old episodes of House recently. Maybe I’ve got sympathetic illnesses. Then again, maybe it’s just turning 64 (and maybe my diet could be a whole heck of a lot better).

When I’m 64. Fuck them Beatles.


Let them eat cake

It’s the day before Xmas as I write this, and The White House sent me an e-mail that actually didn’t ask me for money.  That’s almost like getting a gift.  The e-mail included a link to a time-lapse video showing how the kitchen staff made a 300 lb. ginger bread replica of The White House.


I sent a reply e-mail that said: “Our tax dollars at work.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Please don’t send me any more e-mails asking for money.”

Hey, lots of Americans are having trouble buying food, buying bread, so I guess President Obama, getting all Marie Antonette on us, is saying ‘let them eat cake’, except I don’t think any of us are going to actually get to eat any of that cake.  And since the President is in Hawaii, maybe no one will.  They can just throw it away.  What the heck, it’s not as if there’s anything better the money could have been spent on.

On Prancer and Dancer, and Goofy and Grumpy, and Witless and Clueless.  And to all a good something or other.  Bah humbug.

The U.S. government’s plan for dealing with the arrival of extraterrestrials during a time when the government is not shut down.


Does the U.S. government have a written plan on how to handle contact with extraterrestrial intelligence should that contact take place on earth?  If so, is this plan top secret?  And if this plan is secret, why is it secret, other than the government’s prediliction for making things secret and keeping them that way?

What might be in such a plan?  Does it envision different scenarios?  One in which we are able to determine in advance that a ship, or group of ships, is heading our way?  How much advance notice would we have…well, not we the people, but we, meaning our government?  Might that advance notice depend on the size of the ships?  After all, extraterrestrials might be our size, or the size of football stadiums, or the size of Mars fun size candies, like one gives out (or gets) on holloween?  [I prefer Three Musketeer bars, though Milky Way bars might be more appropriate for this blog.]  Also, the size of the ships might depend on how many exterrestrials are inside.  Perhaps one if it’s exploratory.  Perhaps five if it’s a family vacation and they took a wrong turn at Neptune.  Perhaps nine billion if they’ve come to colonize…and they’re really serious about it.


Do we have an alternate plan if we find that one ship has landed but nothing, at least nothing that we can see, has come out?  Or a plan if we encounter one or several extraterrestrials, already out of their ships and seeking perhaps to communicate.  Or looking for a place to pee.  What if a space ship lands in Arizona, and three extraterrestrials with brown skin emerge, and one of them says: “Hola.”

How would it be determined whether the visitors are friendly or hostile?  Presumably we would want to take some precautions in case they brought a virus, or something akin to a virus for which we have no defense.  At the very least, humans should use condoms if having sex with an extraterrestrial – which would probably take about one and a half hours before that possibility becomes a fait accompli.  With photos uploaded to Instagram.

Suppose we welcome them like the Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims.  Perhaps not the best comparison, considering how the Native Americans fared.

Suppose we unleash everything we’ve got, militarily, against them.  Suppose that only makes them mad.  Or, suppose we destroy them, only to find out later that they’d brought us advanced technologies, or at least a cure for cancer, a diet that really works, and a terrific idea for a sitcom.

Since we are actively looking for any indication of communication from ‘out there’, surely we have, or should have, a plan in place for if and when we receive/find such a communication, and/or actually meet the critters face to face.

Suppose the plan is to deal with them peaceably, but the first humans they encounter are rabid 2nd Amendment righters who fill them full of holes and have them at the taxidermist’s before you can say E.T. phone home.  What if one kind of extraterrestrial lands on earth, on the lam from another kind who send in drone strikes, and later apologize profusely for having accidentally killed U.S. citizens in collateral damage.

Do we have documented contingency plans for these scenarios?  If so, what department handles these matters?  Fish and Wildlife?  Immigration?  Transportation?

Will it make a difference if we consider them attractive, rather than super freakin’ hideous?  Suppose a ship lands and three extra-terrestrials step out, each looking like Brigette Bardot in her youth.  Or suppose they’re hideous looking and ask to be introduced to Angelina Jolie.  Suppose they have impressive boners.  Would William Morris offer them representation?  Would they get their own reality show?  Deep Space Dynasty?

I worry about these things.  Somebody has to.

Faulkner’s The Unvanquished

When I was considerably younger, I read quite a few of Wm. Faulkner’s novels, and for a long time he was one of my two favorite fiction writers (the other being Aldous Huxley for entirely different reasons).  Recently I picked up Faulkner’s The Unvanquished, one of those I had not read before, and I finished it about an hour ago.  Faulkner’s prose is dense, and frequently beautiful.  One reads Faulkner as one exposes oneself to any great art, whether Shakespeare, Beethoven, W.M.S. Turner or the sculpture of Henry Moore.  It enriches one, and, I suspect, considerably increases the number of neural pathways between brain cells.
The Unvanquished takes place in the American south during and in the four or five years immediately after the Civil War.  There is language that may offend some, but it is the language as it was spoken at the time, I suspect, and is, therefore, appropriately used.  It is an exciting story, taking place, for the most part, during wartime, and the characters are drawn very well.  But it is Faulkner’s beautiful use of language that is the main thing, and near the very end there is one paragraph, that is, perhaps, two pages long, that is what made Faulkner one of the preeminent American prose writers.  It is beautiful, extremely moving and bears close attention.  This is not writing one glides over for the story (what happened then, what happened next), but rather one savors, lies in, holds very still and tries to imbibe.

Well, I recommend it.

Late one night in Portland OR

In the early 1980’s, in Portland, Oregon, I had a radio show on KBOO-FM, a Pacifica station.  Once every other Tuesday, late night, I played blues.  Magic Sam, Earl Hooker, Jr. Wells, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy, James Cotton, Jr. Parker, Freddy King, etc. 


I had a full beard for much of that time, which I mention because it’s pertinent to what occurred.  I played records.  There were no CDs, MPGs (or whatever they’re called – that’s actually embarrassing that I don’t know that.  Fuck.)   And so I’d lug two huge, heavy bags filled with blues records, to and from my car, wherever I managed to park, and the studios of KBOO-FM.  And one night, after my show, about 1 in the morning, I’m lugging these two heavy bags through the damp streets of downtown Portland and I’m coming to a corner where I know there’s a bar.  And outside the bar, leaning back with one foot on the wall behind them, two guys were smoking cigarettes.  And one guy glances my way and pushes off from the wall.  “It’s that guy,” he says, “from the bar last night.”  And he looked as though we hadn’t had a very good time.  And the other guy, who thank god had a beard too, looks at me and calmly says: “Nah, that’s not him.”  And that was that.  I passed them by, walked on to my car.  Drove home.  Went to sleep.  Down these mean streets, yah?

Happy Holloween


I was a little kid in the 1950’s.  I had an older brother and an older sister.  By the time I started trick or treating, I suppose my sister was at least 13 y/o, and, though I don’t remember, I suppose she took me trick or treating with her, and then, a few years later when she might have felt too big to do this, my brother, 5 years older than me, probably took me.  Then, a few years after that, I would go on my own, or with a friend my own age.


I don’t know when things changed, so that parents were frightened to let their kids go without a parent, and I don’t know when (or if, but I suppose so) we reached circumstances when this would be necessary.  And I also don’t know when it became necessary to make sure that the candy the kids eat was new, storebought, wrapped, unopened.  No razor blades in the apples, for example.

In my neighborhood, if you went to the Sinclair gas station at 63rd and Whipple  (though it might have been 63rd and Richmond) they’d give you a coke.  Maybe an 8 ounce bottle.  I think they had those then.  And there was a house on Francisco between 66th and 67th that would give you 50c, which is probably the equivalent of eight thousand dollars today.

And every kid would come home with an enormous bag of candy.    It was great fun.  I never felt in any danger, no one ever did anything unpleasant to me or even spoke an unkind word to me.  I guess I was lucky to live when and where I did.

Nowadays, of course, the candy alone is a bad idea.  I guess.

I hope there are still places in the USA where parents can let their kids roam, house to house, trick or treating safely.