November 29, 2016: A Note on Pets

November 29, 2016: A Note on Pets; and Androp Gerard is not quite an Idiot Savant

“Our house, is a very, very fine house with two cats and a dog….” exactly like the line in the Crosby, Stills & Nash song.  As an aside, regarding that quote, Androp Gerard has consumed precious little pop culture in his life, but he remembers more of what he has consumed than he wishes to.  This includes lyrics of songs and lines and scenes from movies.  He is somewhat of an idiot savant along these lines.  He fails to satisfy the definition by not being nearly enough of a savant and not being quite enough of an idiot.  Possibly, the vivid recall of movie scenes accounts for Androp’s aversion to violent movies: he relives every horrifying, emotionally distressing detail.  Disturbing images are being suppressed as this is written.

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Our house has two cats & a dog.  People treat pets like children or friends.  Talking to them is like meditation.

Here is the question: why do so many humans keep and love pets?  In broad terms, it seems like this might be because (1) people imagine they have human to human relationships with their pets, and (2) pet care occupies a human’s mind, and provides purpose.

Pets can be imagined as children.  For example, a sibling of Androp Gerard named their dog “Baby.”  Or pets may serve as friends.  It seems easier to think of a dog as a child than a cat.  Cats serve the role of non-needy friendly acquaintances.  After all, cats can leave and go feral at any time but dogs need their human associates (“parents?”), at least in the USA.

Talking to a pet occupies a human mind, so is more or less like mindfulness, or medication.  And caring for a pet is a job, so provides purpose.

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This dog will piddle on the carpet if Androp fails to take it for a walk early each morning.  Pets provide humans with a job.

Me, before light, early A.M., dog getting out from under covers, shaking, “It is too early.  Goddamit.  Go back under the covers.”

Dog, from my imagination, “Okay, I am going to jump down now and piddle on the carpet.”

Me, dog licking my hand, “Jesus H. Christ.  I am going to get up and pee myself now. Stay on the bed.”  I point a menacing finger at the dog and look it in the eye.

Dog, from my imagination, “You have 60 seconds.  Then I am going to jump down and piddle.  I will select as spot you will certainly step on.”

So that gets me out of bed every morning to walk the dog before it piddles on the rug.  Then I have to feed the two cats and the dog.  Then, lovely espresso/lattes.

It is never a problem of wondering why to get out of bed in the morning if you own a dog.  Dog pee cannot be effectively removed from carpet and the associated backing.

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November 28, 2016: Why Thanksgiving is My Favorite Major Holiday

November 28, 2016: Why Thanksgiving is My Favorite Major Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite major holiday mainly because (1) it is (or can often be) more or less non-religious, and (2) it is not that explicitly commercialized.  Retailers try to sell merchandise for Christmas on and after Thanksgiving, but not so much for Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving to me is basically a pagan-style ritualistic gorging, which I strongly favor.  Plus, it is always on the same day of the week, and it always necessitates a four-day week-end, at least.

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Thanksgiving is relatively non-religious and non-commercialized.  Plus, it involves ritualized gorging.

It was great to see everyone although I seldom know what is going on.  Here is a typical conversation:

Me, walking into a room after drowsing in a recliner for an unspecified period of time: “….—listen briefly then make attempt at some relevant comment—-  …”

Them: silent tipping of chins toward chests in a universal sign of disapproval.

My interpretation: “…Donny, you have no frame of reference here ….” (quote from Walter to Donny in The Big Lebowski.

Me: move away slowly, in silence, with an abundance of caution.

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A chef’s knife should be 8″ unless your hands are tiny, and should not cost less than $80.  The steel should not be too hard.  Never touch someone else’s chef’s knife without permission.

One down side to Thanksgiving: other people wander into, and use, Androp Gerard’s kitchen.  Grave anxiety results from these invasions.  Sometimes, someone will pick up his chef’s knife.  Hint: any chef’s knife costing less than $80 and with less than an 8 inch blade is not very useful.  Treat your chef’s knife well, and it will treat you well.  Do not get one with too hard of steel: they are too difficult to sharpen.  Wulsthof is a good brand, but many will do.  Some are right handed or left handed: avoid these (most of these are Japanese – they also tend to have steel that is too hard).

Never touch a chef’s knife without consulting with the owner first.  Just do not do it.  This is serious advice.

We had the meal on Sunday rather than Thursday and the wife and I went to a noon showing of Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them on Thanksgiving, which is highly recommended.  On Friday, three of us went to a college football game and had a deeply spiritual experience as our team came back from far behind to win.

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Androp Gerard is a bicycle rider.  The Thanksgiving Day ride was pleasant.  First tip: males and females should use a nose-less saddle.

Under random facts about Androp Gerard: I am a bicycle rider.  I went on a typical rails-to-trails bike ride on Thanksgiving Day in the afternoon.  A Sharp-shinned Hawk flushed from tree to tree in front of me for about a kilometer.  I have recorded 1293.6 miles bicycling on 63 trips for calendar 2016.  When I do not ride, I go to the gym five or six days a week, and participate in 50 minutes of aerobic exercise, plus something less than 15 minutes of weight lifting.  Mental health outcomes are greatly improved via these activities.  A team of exercise physiologists and neurologists might know why, but that is no sure thing.  A great deal more will be written about bicycling in up-coming posts.

Under Politics, the big news seems to be the recount, and Trump’s claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for millions of illegals voting for Clinton.  Someone was asked about Trump’s strategy in making the claim.  Here’s the thing: Trump has no strategy beyond reacting like an 8 year old.  Analysts often talked about his “strategy” during the campaign.  Jesus H. Christ: he has no adult-compliant thoughts, just the childish schemes of a self-centered bully.  That, of itself, does not make him a dangerous person.  His election as POTUS is what makes him dangerous.

November 23: Reality, Part 1

November 23, 2016

Reality is not what you think.  Objective reality exists, but most people cannot recognize all aspects of it, due to faulty brain function.  Philosophers have confused themselves about different concepts of reality.  For my money, philosophers are the most confused group of humans on earth.

When people say “my reality is not your reality” what they mean is “we have different internal brain models as related to this subject.”  Often, the subject is nebulous and no perfectly objective clarity can be identified: exactly what happened in the past (and what caused it); what to do now to positively impact the future.  Aspects of past and future events certainly may lack clarity, but this is not proof of ‘different realities.’

The observation that all humans are individuals and think differently is either profound or trivial, or maybe both.  Nobody exactly like me, or you.  Nonetheless, objective reality is the same for both of us.

Many examples of faulty brain function leading to ‘unreal’ perceptions exist.  Google ‘line illusions.’  You will find dozens of examples of images wherein your brain will tell you one thing when something else is objectively real.  No amount of trying can make your brain see these images for what they really are.  Here is the thing: I have actually known people who do not accept the reality of these illusions. They will not admit their brain is faulty.

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Me, “The lines look slanted but they are parallel.  Jesus.”

“No.  Those lines are slanted.  I can see that clearly.”

Me, “Goddammit.  Look – use a ruler.  Those lines are parallel.”

“I can see the lines are slanted.  I don’t need a ruler.”

Me, “It is an illusion.  Your brain is screwed to the wall!  Here, take the ruler.”

“I don’t need a ruler.  Stop calling me dim-witted.  Go away.”

This is one example of how hard it is for humans to accept reality.

Here’s a second example: I sometimes have gotten “turned around” when hiking, or when driving in a strange city.   Even when I am carrying a GPS and know I have gotten my directions wrong (e.g. objective evidence is at hand), it is effing difficult to turn loose of my internal model (probably created within the past hour or two) and re-orient myself.  This is even though I badly want to change a very recently created internal model.  It is no wonder that internal models that are long-held are almost impossible to change.

Belief in magical events (including religion) and conspiracy theories relates mainly to the brain’s strong desire to make sense of events in our environment, probably in order to avoid anxiety.  Once made part of an internal model, objective evidence of reality will not change the way humans think.  Again, this is not proof that objective reality is an illusion.

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Objective Reality: This child has a dog on a leash.  She also believes there are Tommyknockers in the storm drain.  That is “her reality” but it is nonetheless objectively false.

My younger grandchildren (below about 5) believe there are Tommyknockers living in the storm sewer in our neighborhood.  Someone told them that.  For the record, I deny it.  Grown adults believe in religious-related magical events, like dead people coming alive or people turning water into wine, which still somehow baffles me. Again, belief in magic does not disprove the existence of objective reality.

In current politics, people have been slow to acknowledge Donald Trump’s success in part because it does not conform to their internal model of reality.  They were sure that the Republican voters would never nominate Trump.  Next, they were sure he could never get elected.  Now, they say he will be impeached in year 1.  To me, this is strong evidence that people still have not overcome their faulty internal model of reality in the USA.

Next Post: Thanksgiving Recap: My Favorite Holiday

Nov 22, 2016: Sports is Religion

November 22, 2016: Sports is Religion

People have written at length about the origin of religion.  Edward R. Murrow said, “Anyone who isn’t confused doesn’t really understand the situation.”  Lucky for me, I really do not understand the situation regarding religion, or I would be way more confused.

Religion must be an expression of human brain function shaped by evolution.  Some say it is not adaptive, but rather a “tag along” outgrowth of actually adaptive brain function.  This seems irrelevant: if our brains are the result of evolution, and religious expression is a result of our brains, then what does it matter if religion is a “tag along?”

In other words, if religion arises from a complex interplay of different human brain functions, and our brains are the result of evolution, then religion is likely adaptive overall.  Of course, it might not be very strongly adaptive: lots of people are not very explicitly religious if given the chance.  The reason everyone is Saudi Arabia professes to be religious is because otherwise they cut your head off.  Incidentally, that is a great way to ensure a religion spreads: cut people’s heads off who disagree.

Many brain functions might help explain religion, and I have not given this much thought.  I would cite: (1) our ability to recognize and explain patterns, (2) our ability to imagine the future, and (3) our ability and desire to be social, and to form tribes.  Religion may reduce otherwise debilitating anxiety as regards items #1 and #2.  So basically it is an expression of coping mechanisms.  I may write more about this later.

Regarding item #3, religion is like being a sports fan.  Everyone shows up and participates in rituals and professes to believe the same things and wears similar clothes (in the case of sports, the same colors).  For sports fans, the added benefits are (1) it only happens on game day, not every blasted Sunday, or every blasted Wednesday and Sunday, or every day at noon, or whatever, and (2) people do not actually have to openly profess to believe in really crazy magical shit to be a sports fan.

slide1Many people do believe that god controls the outcome of games, of course, since they believe that god controls everything.  They also pray to god they do not get hurt.  One can only assume they are praying to god that nobody gets hurt, but in football, they nonetheless attempt to hurt each other.

Now, some people reading this are saying,

“Ha!  I am neither religious nor a sports fan!”

Do not get smug and think you are asocial or antisocial.  If you were, you would likely be already dead or in prison.  I once had a conversation about the Goth people in High School.

Him, “Those Goth people are antisocial.  They don’t want to take part in society with the rest of us.”

Me, “But they are Goth people.  That makes them part of a social group, right?”

Him, scowling, “No, they’re antisocial.”

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We are not antisocial

 Here is one more thought: because of the rule of law, we may have more asocial and antisocial people among us than we did in hunter-gatherer times.  For instance, there is a guy at the gym who I think: “Goddamn.  Someone is going to kill that intentionally annoying barstard.  Possibly me.”  He would have had his head bashed in before puberty or shortly after had he lived in hunter-gatherer times.  Thus, his contribution of genes to future generations would have been zero.  People are unwilling to kill him in modern society because it is illegal, and they would be thrown in jail.  I would never argue for lawlessness though.

In random mundane stuff: I have a salad for lunch with olive oil, spinach, and balsamic vinegar.  In Australia, they eat salads with nothing on them but oil, made from nothing but what they call ‘rocket,’ which is arugula.  Only a starving person would eat that.  But we did see lots of neat wildlife in Australia, like 13 Wedge-tailed Eagles in one day.  And we stayed one night where Mel Gibson stayed when they filmed the original Mad Max.  The couple we were with stayed in the very room where he slept.  Gibson is the scariest kind of Christian.

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We saw 13 Wedge-tailed Eagles one day in Australia, west of Melbourne.  The ‘rocket’ (arugula) salads there cannot be recommended. 

 

In politics, a group of Trump alt-right supporters had a rally and actually gave the Nazi salute and said “Heil Victory!”  Trump’s primary policy adviser was a featured speaker.  This actually happened.  And Trump had a meeting with the heads of all of the network news services to try to intimidate them into falling in line.  Litigation, arrests, and murders may follow.  So nothing unexpected happened.

Next journal entry, sometime after the Thanksgiving break: Reality: Hard to Identify.

November 20, 2016: Baby Barfing; The Need for Driers; Secret to Cooking

November 20, 2016

Under Unusual Events: the wife got barfed on by our 2-year-old grandchild twice over the week-end, once in the middle of the night Friday and once on Saturday around noon.  The volume was impressive.  Kid is not as big as a minute, but a good 12 oz. of liquid was ejected in both episodes, with each episode consisting of multiple, horrible, spurts.  Kid was fine by Saturday afternoon.  Wife was as good as could be hoped for.  I am resisting putting in a picture of a toddler throwing up here.  You are welcome.

Here’s one of the interesting things: I was pretty much unable to make my brain work much when I awoke from a dead sleep after the Friday night episode.  The auto sub-routines like walking were functional, but ‘executive’ thought was difficult.  WTF should I do?  Clean crib.  Strip crib. Get new sheets? Where from? What was I looking for?  Sheets.  What is this stuff I’m holding?  It stinks.  Laundry.  Wife needs new clothes.

Kid seemed to go back to sleep almost immediately.  Apparently, hurling is not enough to wake a sleeping 2-year-old … kid’s brain probably was still turned off just like mine …

This brings up laundry.  The wife says I cannot dry shirts, pants, sweatshirts, sweatpants, sweaters, shorts, etc, because they will shrink, or will get misshapen, or will get too wrinkly.  Basically, I am only supposed to dry socks and underwear.

Me, “We only dry underwear and socks.  Am I right?”

Wife, “What?”

Me, “We probably do no not need a drier.  We do not need to ever wear underwear, and seldom need socks.  Am I right?”

Wife – shakes head, left to right.

Me, “You want me to shut up.  Am I right?”

Wife – shakes head, up and down.

socks-and-underwear

 

 

At Androp Gerard’s house, only socks and underwear are dried in a drier.  Underwear is always optional, and socks need be worn only sporadically.  Therefore, our home needs no drier.

 

 

So much for buying a new bike instead of a new drier when this one breaks.

In culinary news, I made classic chicken noodle soup from the Betty Crocker recipe for Sunday dinner.  Hint: stay away from Internet recipes.  Like everything else on the Internet, they are un-vetted.  You are lucky if those recipes work.  And when recipes do not work, it tends to piss a person off horribly, speaking for myself.  Plus the pop-up and pop-over adds make it impossible to read the recipe.  Plus, wow, the recipes with picture after picture are fricking impossible to follow.  Now, I also say this: recipes in some book that some random person published are also suspect.  So just be careful: about 79% of all Internet and ‘random cookbook’ recipes DO NOT WORK.

Anyway, there was no parsley so I used oregano and sage from my garden and basil and a little bit of thyme instead.  So really what I made was not a classic recipe at all.  But the structural methodology from Betty Crocker was certainly adhered to.  I also added one TBL of fresh lemon juice and one tsp of sugar.

Here’s my philosophy on cooking: every dish you make should have at least two from these three primary flavorings: fat, salt, and sweet.  Additionally, one or both of the secondary flavorings, tart and hot, can be added to every dish.  Never add salt without adding sweet or visa versa.  Trust me.

If entertaining guests, ALWAYS eat later than you said, so people will have time to drink and get hungry.  Hungry drunks always like whatever you feed them.  If feeding the family, be ready early, or you get yelled at and feel guilty when the everyone tells you how hungry they are when they want to eat EARLY.  Guests never do that kind of thing.

cooking

Androp Gerard’s Secret to Cooking: Primary flavorings (blue) are fat, salt, and sweet.  Secondary flavorings (orange) are tart and hot.  Every dish should have at least two primary flavorings added.

I managed to avoid news all week-end until Sunday night, when I looked at the NPR and BBC News apps for 20 minutes.  The Political Brief: Trump Tweets at Alec Baldwin and the cast of Hamilton because they were being mean to him and his buddy.  Appoints known racist as AG; Koch brothers lap dog as C.I.A. Director, and total idiot as NSA adviser.  Democrats continue to blame themselves for Trump’s election; attempt empathy with known racists.  So nothing that was unexpected happened.

Next post: Sports and Religion.

The Journal of Agrop Gerard

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Photo Documentation of Androp Gerard, circa 1989

November 17, 2016

Introductory Material

I’m starting a journal designed to explore what kind of man I am, what kind of man I’ve been in the past, and what kind of universe I’m immersed within.  Plus, I will document a few aspects of my largely uneventful life.  I’m making a lot of this stuff up, which is a sweet anxiety-reduction technique.

If I thought nobody was going to read this stuff, I doubt I would bother writing.  If more than one and fewer than five people ever read it: I’m good.  I count as one, as long as I proof read, so I’m good.  Nervous embarrassment is the emotional state that comes to mind when I think about people I know actually reading this text, and knowing I wrote it.

Children and grandchildren of mine might someday read this material, and maybe gain something.  That thought, hopefully, will keep me floating for some period of time.

This material will be produced without reference to any literary knowledge or convention: so in a completely unfettered and largely ignorant way.  I’ve read no more than 40 or 50 books total in my 60 years of life – exclusive of science books (we’ll get to that).  The text will mainly consist of short, clear sentences.  I will use simple vocabulary, which is all I know, really.  The literate will hate this style, I expect.

As currently planned, this is truly a journal, with entries by date.  Re-arrangement by broad topic may be appropriate if enough text accumulates, but any classification tends to be non-discrete.  All topics tend to intermingle, so no good way to group text by topic exists.

Nonetheless, I’ll start with an introductory paragraph or two listing general topics and some of my biases.  This makes me feel exposed, of course.  In fact maybe I should just pretend to be me and write this as a fiction.  Wait, am I doing this already?

If you find the topics or the biases offensive, you can just stop reading early on.  Assuming you actually made it this far.

Biases and List of Probable Topics

The presentation of many topics will fall into the broader category of what it means to be human.  People I know, and me, fit under that umbrella.  That fact is not much of a testament to any particular expertise on my part.  If I knew anything about gophers, I could write about them without being one, for example.  Not that I actually know anything much about gophers.

I am a political liberal and we’ve just elected Donald J. Trump, so politics will be a topic.

I am too apathetic to call myself an atheist, but I am non-religious, and religion will be discussed to some extent.  In this regard, I am “in the closet” (well, not to those reading this, I guess).  Nothing makes me feel more isolated than not believing in anything supernatural.

Nature will also be a topic, in the sense of discussions focused around non-human plants and animals.  This is the only subject where I can actually claim some expertise based on an earned academic degree:   I have a Ph.D. in ecology.

Human brain function, especially the link between brain evolution and human behavior, seems like the ultimate topic.  It explains why each person does what they do in any given situation, and how social organization emerges.  This underpins all other topics where humans are the primary actors.  Since we dominate the earth, a lot of topics are circumscribed!  The unfortunate fact in this regard, though, is that I do not know much about brain function.

Random activities and thoughts will form the backbone of the journal, I hope.  This might be something of a problem: my activities are few and routine, I have few social interactions, and my family generally ignores me.  Nonetheless, random, somewhat interesting thoughts occur to me regularly, even though my activities are mundane.  We shall see how it goes.

The journal entries for random activities and thoughts on any given day may or may not be entirely fictional.

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Illustration of frenetic activity inside Androp Gerard’s brain.

Journal Entry: November 17, 2016

Politics: since Trump just won an election nine days ago, this is foremost on my mind.

Primary concern: he is going to have the nuclear codes.  A narcissist with the emotional maturity of a 13 year old boy is going to have the nuclear codes for the most powerful nation on earth.

Second concern: Trump’s minions seem likely to attempt to usurp power in a permanent way, not allowing free elections in the future.  After all, the guy admires Putin and Erdogan.

Final concern: most of my friends who are liberal seem to have moved on and are not particularly anxious about the first and second concerns, listed above.  This falls within the realm of human brain function I think: they have simply employed coping mechanisms.  They have convinced themselves that the situation is not really that bad.  Or they are ignoring the situation.  I get it: we did vote, and now what can we do?  No sense remaining freaked out.  That is proven bad for your health: avoid anxiety.  Of course, not freaking out was bad for the health of 6 million Jews a few decades back.  So there is that.

Random thoughts from today: I just bought a set of tires with a 65,000 mile wear out warranty.  What does that even mean, does anyone know?  If you rotate your tires every 6,000 miles (who does that?) and can prove it (who could do that, even if they DID rotate their tires every 6,000 miles?) then if they wear out at 45,000 miles you get what?  You get $3 off each on your next new set of $150-each tires?  And who decides if the tires are worn out at 70% or 80% or 100%?  Do you have to go back where you originally got the tires?  What if that place is closed?  What if you move?  What if you sell the car?  What if you bought a car with tires already on it?  That does happen.  If I were a tire maker, I would mark every set of tires I sold as 100,000 wear out warranty.  It would sell tires and cost nothing.  The added benefit is that anyone who actually tried to do what was needed to redeem the warranty would be so stressed by the effort (and we assume, by other similar efforts – if they do that for tires, they do that for everything) that they would be way more likely to die than the average customer.  Anxious people die more.  So a tire maker’s chances of actually paying out anything on any tire warranty are near zero.

That reminds me of other situations where a seller can cheat a buyer very easily.  I got a container of cashews today.  The sign said $2 off INSTANT SAVINGS.  So I go through the line, and my partner looks at the receipt.  “You did not get $2 off – do you want to talk to someone?”  For $2?  Are you nuts?  Just to be told I was wrong about the sign, and it applied to some other item two isles away?  I would not talk to any of these smock-coats with their scrubbed, vacuous, grinning faces, and un-kept, oddly colored hair, for $20, let alone $2.  So if I were a retailer, I’d just randomly put up signs: $2 off.  Put up the signs ambiguously so nobody can tell what they apply to.  Then whatever, if someone calls you on it, argue that they were stupid and the sign does not apply to that item, you are so sorry for the confusion.  But then smile and say, “Dear valued customer, here is a coupon for a small bag of pretzels the next time you shop here, as long as you spend $100, and as long as it is tomorrow, between 8 AM and 9 AM.”  If the customer pitches a big enough fit, go ahead and just give them $2.  Or, call store security.  Your option.  If they’re not white, for sure, call store security. You’ll sell a lot of expensive containers of cashews before anyone gets $2 back.

Later we can discuss air miles, hotel points, little fricking punch cards for yogurt, “what is your phone number so you can get a free bag of dog food after you buy 30 bags of expensive dog food,” grocery coupons (god, the wife and I went through a phase of clipping and filing them), and the like.  All of those things make your life worse, and induce you to buy things you do not want, and you do not need, and actually cost you money.  I had a friend who said to me, 35 years ago, grocery coupons were like natural selection: the stupid people do not use them and the smart people use them.  WTF?  So then the smart people get fatter eating even larger quantities of even CHEAPER bad food, the production of which (by corporate farms) is already paid for 50% by the government?  So I see this coupon-clipper guy,  “I have not seen you in years, Tommy.  You look like a million … in ones … with a peachy complexion … yellow and blotchy.” Sure, grocery coupons are for smart people, Tommy.

Journal Entry: November 18, 2016

Under Random Unusual Events there’s this: I almost had a heart attack from freight yesterday night.  I’m in bed and I hear what might be the garage door opening, so I get up and look: no car in the driveway.  WTF?  I open the door to the garage, and just as I do, my oldest child charges through with two enthusiastic dogs.

Me: “Jesus H. Christ!”

“Oh sorry, I couldn’t find my phone to text or call. Sorry.”

Me: “Holy shit.” Pant, pant.

“It’s a good thing you don’t have a gun.”

Me: “If I had a gun, I would have killed myself on November 9th.”

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Androp Gerard in 2015.  A man like this could have a heart attack if suddenly startled.

Which brings up Politics:  I spent 20 minutes reading some news and 30 minutes trying to calm myself down.  My friends who are coping better: more power to you!

People seem to be talking about things like “Let’s try to understand Trump voters.” And “Hell with that, let’s NOT try to understand those stupid, over-religious, bigots.”

More calm banter seems to be mainly about who he is appointing to what position.  Many of them are certainly bigots.  Many appear openly willing to try to seize power by purging agencies of anyone who is not with them.  I have colleagues in natural resources agencies who have expressed fear to me in this regard.

All of this misses the bigger picture, which is: Trump is going to be POTUS.  The dangers are (1) he will get pissed off and start dropping nuclear bombs, and (2) he and his minions will seize power, and not allow open elections in 4 years, or 8 years, or however long they can.

The mainstream media seem to be acting like nothing very serious is happening.  It does not seem irrational to me to be in panic mode.  Of course, we humans cannot maintain a “lion is charging” posture for long periods of time without killing ourselves, so we just cope.  Keep coping, friends, but remember: the lion is an orange-skinned narcissist with the weirdest comb-over ever seen. and he is charging.

Meanwhile, we all do need to continue on with life.  For my part, I newly donated money to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.  Regarding that last one: recall that Mike Pence is going to be vice president.

One final note: Bernie Sanders stated that he will be happy to work with Trump insofar as Trump wants to fight big corporations.  Good luck with that Bernie: do you not recall that Trump is a Republican?  They seem worse that Democrats to me along those lines.

In Other Random Events, my wife saw a Barred Owl swoop in and get a Goldfinch yesterday afternoon out the basement window.  Then he or she flew up on a branch in plain sight and gulped down the little bird in one swallow.

barnabus-after-a-goldfich

 

 

Photo documentation of what a Barred Owl looks like after gulping down a goldfinch on a sunny fall afternoon.  Foreground shows glue on a circular metal bird feeder left over from dismembered homemade lawn art.  Low, green shrubs are bush honeysuckle.  Bird is on a shagbark hickory.

 

 

 

 

Since I just started the journal, I can also report, in retrospect, that I saw a mature Bald Eagle on a nest in a cottonwood tree on a trail where I regularly ride my bike several days ago.  A pair of eagles nested there last year, too.  The ducks on the adjacent secondary sewage treatment settling ponds are saying, “Shit!  How many of us are those white-headed buggers going to get this year.  Whose goddamned brilliant idea was it to winter within 50 meters of an active Bald Eagle nest again, anyway?  Maybe you’ll listen next time when I say, ‘They were here last year, do you really think this is a good idea?”  And they say, “When they fly over I can’t tell if they’re falcons or eagles.  Do we flush and frantically fly away or do we sit tight?  If they’re falcons we gotta sit; if they’re eagles we gotta flush.  Well screw it, they can’t get us all.”  So they are a bit similar to Democrats in their thinking right now.  They cannot get us all.

Finally, I make coffee for my wife each morning while she sleeps.  I pull shots using a Rancilio Miss Sylvia with grounds from a Rancilio Rocky grinder.  Hint: get a good home espresso machine and grinder if you want to make lattes at home.  I have been using a portafilter I hate, because it spatters everywhere.  But I do it for the wife, because she needs a lot of caffeine.  That’s the kind of man I am. This morning I tried a new methodology: three pulls through a regular 2-shot portafilter, rather than two through a spatter-filer.  That means one and a half for her, and one and a half for me.  No spattering, lovely coffee.

rancillio-portafilters
The portafilter on top looks seductive, but it spatters.  Use the one on the bottom.

Here’s the bottom line: I highly recommend making lattes at home in the morning.  The pleasure is worth the effort.  Caffeine addiction is the best addition of all.

Final comment: I really like Jenny Lawson’s stuff.  Check her out at The Bloggess.  This is not a paid advertisement, but it occurs to me that I more or less have started a blog.  Jenny’s blog is the only blog I read regularly.  I admire her.