Allow me to bore you

Lazy cat
Lazy cat

I will give this cat credit. It was laying just outside of our property line, and so was safe from my lawn mower. This feline is one of the two that I have seen on our roof.

***

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was true landmark legislation in the U.S. I was in high school when President Johnson signed it into law. And the law’s influence is still being felt in the country in so many positive ways.

So, of course, most of the morning TV shows led with the story of the U.S.’s loss in the World Cup yesterday. It is to weep.

When they did get around to discussing the Civil Rights Act, briefly, on Morning Joe this morning, one of the talking heads was asked if in today’s political climate in Washington, D.C. the Civil Rights Act could be passed, his answer was the nuanced, “No.” And he is right. Nothing of any import can get done at the Federal level anymore. While most people blame warring political philosophies, I blame politicians who think only of reelection.

Elected officials, especially in the House of Representatives, are on a continuous reelection campaign. It is an amazing week if they spend four days in Washington, rather than in their district campaigning. They don’t want to take a stand and actually vote on anything that might cause them to lose a vote or two. So, stagnation. And it has been going on for a long time. Over 90% of House members were reelected in 2012, while only 10% of the public thought they are doing a good job.

And that caused me to think of T.S. Eliot. I vaguely remembered reading one of his essays from then 1940’s when I was in grad school. In it, I thought I remembered his declaration that a language that doesn’t change is a dead language. Does it then follow that a congress that doesn’t change is a dead congress?

I pulled out my copy of On Poetry And Poets by Eliot (yes, I still have my copy from grad school). I wanted to make sure that I was remembering what I had first read decades ago was right. Well, I was wrong, Oh, you could draw the conclusion I made about language from what he wrote in his essay The Social Function of Poetry. In fact the Professor who taught my class may have interpreted it that way in a lecture. But when I read the essay again this morning, after so many years, I found that my memory was dim and that Eliot was saying so much more about poetry and the need that we have for poets. It doesn’t matter so much what their point of view might be, but it does matter that they have a point of view and that they are willing to share it. At least, that’s my take on the essay this morning. It might change tomorrow after more reflection.

So that’s how I went from contemplating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to today’s political grovellers to T.S. Eliot’s reflections on poetry and poets. And I haven’t had breakfast yet.

Addendum: If you can find a copy of the essay The Social Function of Poetry I urge you to read it. If I had waited another day to write yesterday’s post, I would have quoted from the essay, because there is a paragraph that speaks to my minor rant.

A minor rant

The corn is growing
The corn is growing

I finally got back to the corn field the other day. The first picture I took of this field appeared in my post on June 9th. As you can see, the crop is up and doing well. You can also probably tell that rain is imminent. Here in the U.S. we always say that the crop will be good if the corn is knee-high on the Fourth of July. It isn’t the fourth yet, and the corn is more than head high…unless you are very tall. I’ll be going back to check on the corn at least twice more this year. I think this is better than watching paint dry.

 ***

I follow less than two dozen blogs. I seldom see only one post and then start following the blog. I normally read a number of posts first. I try to choose carefully, and tend to select blogs that are challenging, or are very visual, or are funny. Those are the things that I look for. With one or two exceptions I also choose blogs where vulgarity is an exception rather than a rule. It’s just my choice. The older I get (or perhaps, the more mature I become), the less enchanting I find the use of crude language.

So I was surprised the other day when a comment to a post in one of my favorite blogs included a word that describes the scat of a male bovine. How indelicate, thought I. Why would you choose that word over “bushwa?” Both terms have two syllables, so they can be said equally quickly. And “bushwa” has fewer character strokes, so it can be keyboarded faster. Was the other word used for shock purposes only?

Perhaps English was not the writer’s native language. A smaller vocabulary might result in word usage picked up from watching American and British movies or listening to some songs. But that’s just speculation on my part.

I have no complaint with the original blog, I still look forward to future posts. The comment’s language was an aberration, so I feel secure that my sensibilities won’t be trod upon in the future. I just felt that I wanted to discuss the matter. Little things mean a lot.

Addendum: I know I sound like a goody-two-shoes in the above. I’ll admit that I curse occasionally, but I don’t do it for public display. When I curse I am alone, or occasionally, with Cindy. There are always other words that can be used, unless you want to cause offense.

The puzzle is not yet complete

Not enough progress
Not enough progress

I haven’t finished puzzle yet. I wanted to make more progress, but I ended up spending more time than I had planned on, when I went to the grocery store, spent frustrating time on the phone trying to schedule a service call with Sears, and a short amount of time lying on the floor.

Shall I elaborate? Well, then I shall.

My trip to the grocery store took a little longer than planned due to a) a twenty-something looking feller who was dressed like a banker trying to rush me through the produce section so he could get his hands on the romaine lettuce and cucumbers before I could make a proper selection; and b) crates of stock scattered haphazardly in the aisles which caused a one lane traffic flow. You may be asking yourself why a person who was rushing me actually slowed me down. It is simple. When I encounter a person such as he, my natural instinct is to instruct that person on the virtue of patience, and I believe in teaching by example. Yes, I slowed down.

I called Sears to have a technician come out to work on our hot water heater. I’ve had to restart it three times in the past two weeks. So, I calls them up and get an automated system that can’t understand me when I clearly enunciate “hot water heater,” or the second time when I say “h-o-t w-a-t-e-r h-e-a-t-e-r,” or even the third time when I calmly said, “HOT WATER HEATER.” The automated system decided to switch me over to a human being. I told the woman who I was and what I needed. She then asked me for my telephone number so she could look me up in the computer system to see who I was. She found me in the system, told me who I was and where I lived, and asked how she could help me. I told her what I needed. She looked at her computer screen and asked me if I was talking about the hot water heater that we had purchased in 1996. I explained that, no, we were living in a different house then, had not brought the heater with us when we moved, and that we had purchased this heater in the past 3 or 4 years. Gosh, she couldn’t find that purchase in her computer system. Had I used a different telephone number? I doubted it, because we had given up our land line before the purchase had been made. She checked Cindy’s phone number, without me telling the rep what her name and number was, but did not find the hot water heater there either. Was I sure I didn’t use the number of the land line we used to have? What was it? First I was surprised she didn’t already have the number in her system, but I just said, “I don’t remember what it was, but if you can wait a couple of minutes I’ll climb two stories to our office and get the number there.” She told me that, actually, she couldn’t wait, and that it wasn’t a big deal because the technician could look it up from the serial number when he came to the house in four days. Then, despite the fact that she couldn’t wait for me to climb the stairs, I spent the next 10 minutes fending off her efforts to sell me repair plans that I had no desire to buy.

As to laying on the floor…I was sitting on the edge of a metal chair while working on the jigsaw puzzle when my telephone rang. The phone was in a front pocket of my jeans, and rather than rise up and pull it from my pocket, I sat there trying to fish the phone out of my pocket. That was a bad idea. I felt the back legs give way, and I ended up lying on my back as the chair collapsed. I decided to just lie there and talk to my mother, for it was she who had called for the second time yesterday, rather than try to get to my feet and explain what had happened. It was just as well because it was a short conversation. She wanted to know what I knew about the shooting at Purdue. I told her I knew nothing because the television and the radio had been off since around 9 a.m. that’s all she wanted to know, so she said goodbye and hung up.

So what were my lessons learned? They were old lessons that I became reacquainted with yesterday. Patience will get you through just about anything. Also politeness makes you feel good. I felt better after my talk with the Sears Rep because I thanked her for her help, despite wanting to snarl vituperous phrases at her. And finally, with my mother, some things are better left unsaid despite discomfort.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to the autobiography thread of my posts.

Am I wrong in thinking?

RSCN2357b
What are they talking about?

It’s obvious that I snapped this picture from far off, then later I manipulated it to zoom further in, brightened it, and removed some of the noise. When I see the police conversing this way, and I see it often, I always wonder what they are talking about. Are they deciding where to set up the speed trap? Where are they going to meet for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner? Where can they go out with their teen-aged girlfriends so that there wives don’t hear about it? I always wonder.

Every year Cindy and I have a holiday party between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We invite family, friends, people we work with, and some acquaintances. So that the number of people attending doesn’t get out of hand, we stop inviting people who don’t attend for three years in a row (the old three strike rule) and try to invite a few new people who have come into our lives. I think the largest gathering we’ve had was around 85 people. We didn’t count, but there were probably around 70 people this year.

One of the surprises we had this year was that some guests took it on themselves to invite people we hadn’t planned on seeing, and those surprise “guests” showed up. Am I wrong in thinking that one should not invite people to a party that one is not hosting? I wouldn’t be upset if the “inviters” had cleared it with Cindy or me first, but that didn’t happen.

While the party is in progress I always have Christmas music playing in the living room. I burn CDs of the holiday music. The songs are a mixture of sacred and secular, old and new, as well as vocal and instrumental. I’ve also included a song or two that celebrates Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. In past years I’ve noticed that someone had lowered the volume on the stereo. That’s OK. This year, however, someone had the audacity to turn the stereo off altogether. Am I wrong in thinking that the person who did that went beyond the bounds of making themselves feel at home?

Meanwhile in the family room, people were eating, talking, and playing cards. Evidently someone was bored with the party though, and decided to find the TV remote and turn on a football game. Am I wrong in thinking that guests to a party shouldn’t inflict their boredom and proclivities towards sports viewing on other guests? If you would rather watch the game, stay home…or at least turn on the IU basketball game that I chose to give up watching that evening.

In the last paragraph I told you that people were playing cards. At our party people play Euchre, other card  games, BINGO, and board games. If they win the appropriate number of times they are welcome to choose a wrapped prize from under our tree. The prizes are inexpensive; we never pay more than $5 for a prize, and usually pay less. When the party was over I saw that there were a few prizes left under the tree. When I took a closer look I saw that a couple of them had been opened but replaced under the tree. Someone evidently wanted to make sure that they picked a prize that they liked and wanted, rather than taking the luck of the draw. Am I wrong in thinking that there is something fundamentally wrong with being so invested in getting rather than giving?

No, I’m probably just being a crotchety old geezer. Am I wrong in thinking that “old geezer” is redundant?

Jerks

Another great looking house
Another great looking house

This town and the surrounding area are full of beautiful old houses. Between the houses and the barns I could fill a book with photos.

***

I haven’t posted anything in a while. My mind has been on other things. Mainly I’ve been thinking about a local political jerk (boy, that narrows it down), and my thought shouldn’t be seen in a blog that is supposed to be family friendly. Perhaps someday I’ll find the proper words, or at least the proper state of mind.

Instead let me expand to national politicians; the term “jerk” still applies to all and sundry. What did the shut down of most of the government achieve? Inconvenience to many citizens and outright hurt to some (I’m thinking of the WIC program). It did allow the politicians to spout off for the cameras, so they didn’t feel any pain. It allowed most of the political pundits to focus on the wrong thing; i.e. the political ramifications rather than the human ramifications.

I have probably mentioned in the past that I believe Gerrymandering is a great political evil in this country. It allows a 90% reelection percentage for Congressional House incumbents. As Charlie Cool stated, it allows the people in Congress to pick their voters, not the voters picking their representatives. That’s true of both Democrats and Republicans. I haven’t thought this through completely, but I believe it has also made the primary elections more important than the general elections.

I haven’t heard any pundit state that proposition explicitly (I must admit that I don’t watch the Fox network for fear of dying either from laughing too hard or from an apoplectic fit) but they all seem to imply it. I can’t believe that all of the founding fathers had that outcome in mind. Of course, I could be wrong…it is politics.

Things that bother me

It felt like spring
Junk in their yard

It isn’t the most awe-inspiring picture I’ve ever taken. I took a short ride on Tuesday, and while it was cold, the sun was shining and it felt like spring to me. I was going to post this picture, and relate the whole background to that day, but something came up and I never got around to it. Now that day doesn’t seem so special and I won’t be giving you the background. I will say that in order to try to put down feelings into words I need to make that attempt while I’m still having the feelings. If I don’t do it then, it’s like groping around in the dark; you seldom find what you want and occasionally have an unpleasant surprise.

***

I’ve decided to unfriend another contact on Facebook. Once again it’s because I so want to respond to their pre-packaged posts, but know the futility of doing so. Today it was something along the lines of Cain slew Abel with a rock and since rocks and guns are both inanimate objects don’t try to take away my gun. I don’t know how many people have been killed with rocks in the U.S. in the past three months, but there have been, on average, 15 deaths by gun per day in that time. Of course people do the killing, not the rock or the gun, but killing with a gun is easier; you don’t have to get as up close and personal as you do with a rock.

***

I received another catalog from a book seller in the mail a few days ago. It divided the types of books into sections and I was looking in the few sections that interested me. I went to the U.S. History section and started looking at the titles. In the first twenty entries of books on U.S. History, seven were conspiracy theory books. Since when is conspiracy speculation history?

Lord, I shudder.

Day 328

The batting cage is closed
The batting cage is closed

It is a cold, sunny day in Lafayette. Most of the snow has disappeared, but then we didn’t have much to begin with. The predictions are that we will get some After Christmas. I hope it comes a day early.

***

I’m giving serious consideration to getting off of Facebook, or at least limiting, even further, the time I spend on it. The reason is simple, and it is the same reason I don’t read comments on the online version of the newspaper; too many of the posts infuriate me. I must be getting crankier, to go along with getting older. It seems that so many people are reposting intolerant and/or sentiments that seem, to me, to be little more than self-righteous claptrap. What is worse is I find myself wanting to do the same thing, only with a different spin on the issues. What I usually end up doing is posting a link to something from The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, because I would rather see an idea skewered with humor, rather than vitriol. But let’s face it, not everybody finds Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert funny.

Why am I on Facebook to begin with? There are two reasons. 1) Trina posts a lot of pictures of the grandkids, and I love seeing them. 2) None of my friends write letters anymore, if they ever did, and I saw Facebook as a way to keep in touch. I’m not sure either of those reasons is valid. If Trina posts a picture she often also sends it to me via a text message, or Cindy sees it and can forward it to me. Very few of my friends post anything on Facebook that is more than something they have seen and decide to share, often asking me to “like” it if I agree. I seldom agree, and besides, what good does that do in the world? There is no real individual thought behind those posts.

Yep, I’m definitely getting crankier.