Listen to Ourselves

What activities do you lose yourself in?

Today’s prompt, above, is, on the surface, not too deep. Which sounds like something Yogi Berra would say. I can claim a couple of those, (activities, not Yogi Berrisms) wherein I can mesmerize myself. Obviously writing, is one, and then music. Music especially. Not that I’m any kind of musician, but it’s nice. Whatever part of the brain is in charge of playing music must by necessity, I think, shut the other part up and/or shove it out of the way. Which is always a relief.

But to see the question written out in front of me makes me realize how in speaking English, anyway, we find a type of honesty in the way we use words. Here, it’s obvious. You just have to look at it. If you are engaged in an activity and then temporarily “lose yourself,” just what is your self? What is it that gets lost?

And you answer, that’s me. But if that’s you, then who is doing the activity that is making you lost? I’m just saying, it’s you. You are doing it. And there’s only one of you. That’s it.

The question should read, in what activities do you find yourself?

And that, thankfully, ends the Zen portion of today’s epiphomatic machinations. Talk amongst yourselves or, better yet, leave a comment.

“It Gets Late Early Out Here”

Are you superstitious?

Yogi Berra once said after being yelled at by his coach to think, when he was up at bat, “How can you think and bat at the same time?” Good question. Yogi Berra’s whole problem was that he was always using words the way we mean them to mean, not necessarily the way they really mean. So, you know, we knew what he meant. Since no one actually consciously knows what they’re doing when at bat–don’t tell me you are actually thinking as you swing a baseball bat as hard as you can and still control it to within a quarter of an inch so it meets a baseball coming at you twice as fast as a falling piano–since we can’t think of everything we need to do in time, it’s best not to think at all. In fact, thinking will probably screw it up. So how does one bat successfully?

Then answer is: superstition. It is everything your brain does in order to successfully carry out something too subtle and complex to consciously think about quickly enough, infused into a single thing, or a single ritualistic behavior. It is the representation of something you already know, encapsulated into one silly thing. It’s a reminder, maybe. A little jog. It is what we conjure up whenever engaged in an activity that requires us to do something we have no idea how we do it.

The whole problem with being a rational human, and probably the origin of religious thought, is that we are conscious but we often need to do things that are too hidden, too subtle and complex that swim around in our subconscious. You know. That part of us that is real, and not the limited overlay of ego that we work so hard to produce and then protect. The big stupid clumsy ego, that when asked to swing a bat and hit a ball coming at it at a hundred miles an hour has no flying idea how to carry that off. That’s when the subconscious says, I know how to do this. Relax. You’re wearing your lucky socks, right?


Dear Bob

Write a letter to your 100-year-old self.

First off, I can’t believe you changed your name to Bob. What are you thinking? (Were, will, whatever) Such a common name–every Tom, Dick, and Harry is named Bob. Never mind. Far be it from me to correct my elders. You had your reasons, I’m sure. If it is to elude the authorities, I could use a heads-up. Or will, did, whatever, .anyway.

I’m just writing to ask you where I set my iPhone down this weekend. My short term memory is shot, but I know that, at 100, your memory of things 30 some-odd years ago is “like it was yesterday.” So where is my goddam iPhone? Thanks in advance.

This is assuming you can write back; but if so, can you also take a peak at the stock market and let me know? It could be the difference between that nice retirement village and memory care unit, and a cardboard box in the park.

Oh, also meant to ask you, what do iPhones look like now? Did they go back to the physical headphone jack? I hope so.

OK. Great. Oh, and sorry about the tattoo. It must look really bad about now.

Spring Forward Once, Fall Back Twice

They have moved the sun back several degrees, I’m gonna say about 16 degrees, even though the energy expended to do that would probably evaporate the first five or so planets in our solar system. This I gather from reading admittedly too much Carl Sagan as a lad.

There have been ill effects. What would you expect? The Bible made a thing about holding the sun still–imagine, now, moving it back.

Oh, wait. Never mind. I’m told they moved the time forward one hour. Now it makes more sense. Simply make every human being on at least a couple of continents abruptly change their schedules–sleep, work, eating, and so on–by one hour. What could go wrong?

There are still ill effects, of course. Like suddenly having to drive to work in the dark when, as we know, everything looks different, where pedestrians are mere shapes, vague forms moving indeterminately within our field of vision.

More chilling is the question of what happened during that hour we just blithely skipped over? I’m thinking of the one time I skipped over some time and woke up and people showed me the screen door laying flat in the front yard, saying I did that, and further assuring me that the bartender said he understood. What?? I sat down at the table and tried to smoke a cigarette, having to look for my right hand each time I wanted to put the cigarette to my mouth. I mean, it was there, but not exactly where I thought.

I’m just saying it’s a dangerous thing, this time thing. We should leave it alone. Who do we think we are?

We’re all in agreement, then.

10th & Baltimore

Picture is mine. All mine. Photoshop was abused.

There is a place called Mildred’s on the left where surly hipsters proffer lackadaisical service, cold pop in cans–but NO sugar-free drinks because all those chemicals are bad for you even if you’re a diabetic–and a fair cranberry/turkey sandwich. Farther down is the Milwaukee Delicatessen. They have great pizza slices and a superlative meatball sandwich. One of the waitresses name is Tristan. I had to look it up. In the Wagnerian opera, Tristan was the guy, and Isolde was the princess. I never told her.

I was going to quickly summarize the story of Tristan and Isolde, the opera by Richard Wagner, but after reading the synopsis, it turns out the story is so convoluted as to be incomprehensible without intensive study along with memorization of alien sounding names and gender assignations. (see above paragraph about waitress’s name.) But to summarize the summary, it suffices to say the two basically fell in love under duress, and then died. A bunch of stuff in the middle there.

KC’s Big Day

As a followup to the Red Friday installment here on Blogorahmah the other day, the Kansas City Chiefs did win the Super Bowl game. It was a very close game, and therefore exciting. The Chiefs won the game with eight seconds to go. We watched on TV while eating popcorn and guzzling hot chocolate. Sorry, not beer. Then came the victory parade, which took place yesterday. A Super Bowl victory parade was held here in 2020, and about 500,000 people participated. This year, the temperature being roughly 40 degrees warmer than three years ago on the same day, estimates are running close to a million. Could be. Everything went remarkably smoothly, as far as I can tell. We watched on TV, but before the parade began we walked around the north (beginning) end of the route, where we live, to watch the gathering hordes. It was kind of fun which I freely admit even though I am kind of a cynical guy.

The obligatory kids-on-the-lampost shot. The guy with the sunglasses is obviously a covert CIA agent fleeing from Libyan terrorists. If you so desire, you may use this picture as a prompt and let me know!
Here is the crowd gathering near the parade’s starting point. You may have already guessed that the Chiefs’ colors are red and yellow, but mostly red.
More red and yellow apparel a block from the parade route in front of my normally serene building entrance.


Thoughts on Red Friday

The Kansas City Chiefs won their AFC Championship game so now they will be in the Super Bowl on Sunday. I am not a big football fan and I know little about the game, the teams, the players, so let me put that out there right off. I’ve already heard that Kansas City is not the favorite this time. This doesn’t stop all the hooplah surrounding it. Red Friday refers to the custom of wearing “Chiefs red,” their color, on Fridays that precede games. Or, hell, any Friday during the season, for all I know. I don’t participate, mainly because I don’t own a red article of clothing, that I know of. Maybe some boxer shorts but, if so, they must be down at the bottom of the pile that I never get to.

If we win on Sunday, there will be a big parade soon after. Schools have already preemptively closed for the day–whatever it is. Following weekend? I don’t know. I guess whenever the team arrives back home. I live downtown, so I can’t avoid it, but I am thankful I’m on foot. There’s probably no parking within a three mile radius.

The NFL Draft proceedings and adjoining ceremonies, etc. will take place in Kansas City this year as well. This is an even bigger deal. Three days of total chaos, most likely. They are building a stage in front of the Union Station, where all this will take place. Interestingly, Union Station itself will be closed to the public during all this. Now, the Kansas City Election Board occupies rooms in the station, and they were told they would have to shut down for the duration. There is an upcoming election that demands they stay open for early absentee voting. They, the KCEB, brought this up, and the NFL said no, you’ll just have to close. This, they were apparently thinking, is more important.


Flashback Friday

I’m not much for reviving anything I wrote in the past, really. With the blogger mentality, as opposed to that of the accomplished novelist, I think of what I write down as “throw-away,” in the same way I think of anything I might say out loud. This is of course not good, as every blogger wants to write a novel. (Probably not true, but by the next paragraph, I’ll forget I wrote it anyway.)

Were was I? Kidding. Now I’m trying to figure out if any memory from my life that I conjure up at this moment could be something I had never remembered before. Something that happened, say, that just . . . happened . . . and I went on with my life, never to remember it until February 3, 2023.

I’m gonna say, no. I read somewhere, a long time ago, that after a certain disturbingly short time, memories are actually “memories of memories.” As if a first-order memory, if you will, only happens within a day or two of the remembered thing. I don’t know. This is all sort of weird, and a bit pointless as well, except it does sort of explain why memories become so fallible if they are re-written each time they are called up.

It means that flashbacks–at least the unwritten kind–are actually a form of fiction. You take something that happened, more or less, or at least the perceptions you experienced during something that happened in the past, and fill in all the gaps so it makes sense to you, and then relate it other people around you. And, the key, they are always inaccurate, sometimes to a degree that would make them totally unrecognizable to anyone else who might have been there. It can be in the form of a blog post, but generally most effective at a smallish party where beer drinking is involved.

So fiction is a “thing.” It seems, maybe, a fundamental, human thing. It’s what we DO. And since we’re all either novelists here, or aspiring novelists, it is something to ponder, to tap into, possibly nurture, even though in a sense this makes us even more unreliable than we started out. I think maybe the difference between writers and non-writers (to make a broad and suspect generalization) is that writers have more fun with it.

Punxsutawny Phil

I clicked on a link “find out what Punxsutawny Phil saw.” This led me to a page with a video in it, front top and center, which started playing an advert, natch. I clickly, or quickly, closed the window because the answer to the question is either “saw his shadow,” or “didn’t see his shadow.” This does not require a video preceded by an advertisement.

I think we agree Phil is a boy groundhog, so, no need to refer to their shadow.

So I still don’t know. However, for reasons I will outline, I don’t care. Phil — we will call him simply, Phil, since not only is it difficult to spell the name of this Pennsylvania town, but even harder to type it without error — and his shenanigans have been recorded for 135 years now, or so, and in hindsight, it is easily ascertained that his accuracy for these predictions is only 39%.

If you’re a betting person, that means you can safely bet against him for even money, and you’ll come out ahead over time. Statistically, that is. Maybe 135 isn’t a big enough database. Because this also means that you can assign some slight predictive value to believing the opposite of what Phil says. And it’s real hard to believe the premise for this whole myth can make any sense no matter how you spin it.

My prediction, based on nothing at all, is that winter will be over soon, no matter what Phil says.

To sum up: Bill Murray came around eventually only by realizing that it’s OK to be sort of crazy because we’re human and that’s what we do best.

Mocking the AI

Hello world! This is my blog. This is where I present interesting, thoughtful details from my life. My S.O. is interesting, but not thoughtful. Ha ha. It is a nice day. The current temperature at the airport is 28º F, and the high later today will be 43º F. Significant ice and sleet accumulations will continue to have impacts across portions of the South and Southeast through Thursday. For locations across the Deep South and Southeast, the threat of heavy rainfall increases as the storm tracks across the region.

This morning I walked my dog, and we met many interesting people along the way. I had a thoughtful discussion with a person I met in front of a building.

Tomorrow I will walk my dog again. They like to go on walks. I like to walk, too, because it is good for my heart health.

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