Essays, Poetry, Observations, Etc.

Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Thought of the Day Redux

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

Thought for the day.  Something I wrote once and  based on the second of the Two Great Commandments:


Accept the preferences of others, and acknowledge they have the same rights you enjoy, just as you choose to accept and enjoy your preferences, be what they may.


Love and accept others as you would have them love and accept you.


Accept them and love them as they are.


There is no other way.


Then, love or love not.  It’s your choice.


But you can’t make the choice for other people.  You can only have love for yourself and others.  You can’t force others to love, you. anyone else, or anything.  There can be no expectation on the part of others to love you or return it.  You can only have it within yourself for yourself and others. 


What most can’t accept, or even believe, is that you have to love and accept yourself before you can love and accept others. For how can you love others if you have no loving reference point for yourself?


All you can do is love and hope it’s returned.


That’s the best we poor souls can do in this life.


Thought for the day (and for life)

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I wrote two versions of the following after trying to write an entry on some issues. I junked everything and distilled it down to this:

Accept the preferences of others, and acknowledge they have the same rights you enjoy, just as you choose to accept and enjoy your preferences, be what they may.

(Okay, I could probably lose the “be what they may”, too)  lol

Texting while Driving. Don’t.

In Random Rant on June 18, 2012 at 11:50 am

It used to be that if I wanted to go somewhere with someone, I could easily arrange a ride with them. I could sit back and not have to worry about how I got someplace, where I was going to park, etc. I didn’t mind helping with gas or parking, or even helping with directions. And it was good for the environment! A win all the way around.

These days, I am often offered a ride, which, over half the time now, I decline. Why? Fear.

The other day a friend offered me a ride to go with them to a church on the other side of town. She is a reasonable sort and generally appears to have safe driving habits. (And no dings in her cars body work, an important clue!)

So, I went by the church, met up with her and discovered that another friend was actually going to do the driving. Didn’t know a thing about her driving habits. And this time I wasn’t just nervous for myself, my daughter was along for the ride. Now I am willing to accept a certain amount of risk for myself, but extending that to my daughter is another thing entirely. But I didn’t wish to appear ungrateful or paranoid, so we graciously entered the vehicle and set out.

We were cruising along on the freeway when the driver’s cell phone went off. After some fumbling, she found and answered it. While this is going on, the SUV starts to bob back and forth, weaving abruptly within the lane. I’m sitting in the backseat getting a little anxious. Eventually she gets off the phone and I find some relief as the vehicle straightens out and starts driving more solidly.

Then she gets the text, asking her if she’s on her way. She starts to respond herself, but I gently suggest that someone else enter the message. She hands it to her friend in the passenger seat who proceeds to be utterly clueless as to how to use this particular phone. The driver starts to explain her shortcuts, such as typing in OMY to produce the result, on my way. For a moment I thought she was going to take the phone back. Meanwhile the car is starting to weave again. I suggested that they hand the phone to my daughter, who is a texting professional. My daughter got the phone and almost immediately handed it back. While my daughter was handing it back, the driver started to explain her texting shortcut again. My daughter responded by saying, she didn’t bother with the shortcut, she just typed the message in, and sent it. The driver was amazed at the speed with which my daughter could do this on a strange phone. I was just amused. After all, my daughter sends more texts in the day than I send in a year!

But I digress.

Texting and driving don’t mix. Drinking and driving don’t mix. Eating and driving don’t mix. Trying to discipline your kids while you’re driving doesn’t work either. Any distraction while driving is dangerous. And not just for the driver, but for everyone around them, passengers and other drivers, too.

Pretending that you’re better at it and/or more capable of doing it than anyone else is self-centered and dangerous to others.

Killing yourself is one thing, although your immediate family will probably suffer the most.

Killing others in the process of your narcissistic activity is just plain criminal.

Concentrate on the road and driving.

Stay off the damn phone.

An Ordinary Day

In change, writing on June 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

It was an ordinary day.

Just another Saturday, truth be told. Another normal day in the otherwise normal life for Bob.

He puttered about and got ready to take on the necessary chores needed to keep his life operating smoothly. He wasn’t particularly happy. He’d just wanted to sleep in. It’d been a long week and work had been difficult, to say the least. He wanted just one day off with nothing to do, nothing to take care of. It obviously wasn’t going to happen today! Nevertheless, he took care of his personal ablutions, showered, dressed, and then spent a few moments admiring how handsome he looked in the mirror. That always made him feel better!

He gathered up his keys and wallet then headed to the door. As usual, the keys and wallet were exactly where he placed them when he had come home the day before. He’d had a brief flirtation with having a maid a few years back, but she had the annoying habit of cleaning things up and moving things. Change. Unnecessary and annoying change. Still, he missed the maid. At least she had picked up his socks and underwear and kept the cats fed.

Change he would leave to the science fiction novels he loved. Aliens, space ships, exploring the universe. Worlds blowing up, the universe coming to an end, and strange beings from another planet showing up on one’s doorstep, these were things that he enjoyed reading about. But actually happening? You have got to be kidding! Given what he knew about the physical nature of the universe, none of this stuff, especially aliens showing up, was ever going to happen! He smiled to himself and walked the 13 steps to his car. Such precision. He could do it with his eyes closed. Even tried it a couple of times. Yep, there were good reasons he did the same things every day. Better still, he didn’t have to pay attention.  Gave him time to think of inportant things, like himself!

He opened the door and slid onto the cracked, but comfortable leather seat of his old Volvo. He’d had the car for 16 years and 237,000 miles. If he was lucky, it would outlive him. It was looking a little seedy, but then, age did that. Maybe he should have the car detailed. He thought about the pros and cons for a moment. Nope, he had better things to spend his money on. That settled, he pulled out onto the street and made his way to the strip center down the road.

He drove along lost in his own private universe. The hustle and bustle of the world swirled around him and yet he was at peace, lost in his reflections, puttering along in the security of his old sedan. He truly was, as he had discovered from his old college philosophy professor, the center of the universe. Everything had a place and he was at its center. And it was a comfortable place. The world always seemed to open up before him, as if expecting him to be there.

He pulled up to the laundry and there, as if they had known he had been coming, was an empty slot right in front of the door. He smiled at the proof of his importance in the universe. He slid out of the car and stood for a moment in the bright sunshine, taking in the beauty of his world. My God, he thought to himself, this truly is the best of all possible worlds!

He turned and took a step towards the laundry. His foot stuck to the ground. Annoyed, he lifted his foot and looked at the bottom of the shoe. Bubblegum! God damned idiotic self-centered cretins, he silently fumed to himself! Okay, maybe sometimes the world wasn’t exactly perfect! He gave a few thoughts as to what he would do if he were dictator and wondered how deep the pit out back of his palace would need to be in order disposing such cretins and make this a better world, at least for himself. Oh, well, he thought to himself as he rolled his eyes. Once again he considered the fact that it was a good thing he wasn’t an old-fashioned King! Absolute power does corrupt and he was probably infinitely corruptible! He laughed and grumbled at the same time while heading to the door. Maybe life wasn’t perfect, but this was just a tiny blip on an otherwise glorious day.

He walked up to the door and, as usual, tried to look in before he pushed it open. He didn’t really like surprises. As usual the lighting was dark and the window so covered with signs made out of vinyl letters announcing hours and prices and the latest sale (which had been going on now for what, oh, the last five years?) He entered and once again found even more proof of his importance in the universe… the shop was empty. No one stood between him and his goal. No waiting for one such as he.

He walked over to the counter as the clerk came from the back room. The clerk asked for the claim check. As usual, Bob smiled and gave the clerk his last name and the number of shirts he dropped off. Claim checks and other such niceties were all very good for the rest of the world. Products of corporate and bureaucratic functionaries whose sole purpose in life was to make sure the world’s paperwork was in order, but completely unnecessary in his own private world. He had discovered long ago that if he was polite, firm, and never retreated from his standard position, he always got what he wanted. It was good to be Bob.

The clerk smiled at him, three long sharp teeth hanging down over a reddish green lower lip. A single yellow eye stared at him for a moment as if trying to decide how to prepare him for dinner. Bob felt uncomfortable. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something just wasn’t right. However, he couldn’t be bothered with it right now, he was too busy wondering if he’d remembered everything on his shopping list. (Did he still need coffee creamer? Probably, yes.)

The clerk turned, and oozed on his pseudopod over to the rack and, with a graceful flick of a tentacle, lifted the shirts off and carried them back to the counter.

“That will be $5.73, sir.”

Bob fished his wallet out of his pocket, extracted his debit card, and passed it over the counter, still lost in thought. The clerk ran the card through the machine with another flick of his graceful tentacle. Bob absentmindedly entered his pin number, a pin number he was sure was unique in the known universe, such was the security of his place in the world.

The clerk handed him his shirts, its flowing tentacle curled around the hanger’s hooks. The yellowish green tentacle, to be exact, Bob noticed absentmindedly. And with what looks like a very nice gold ring on the end of it. He wondered if it was married as he turned away, carrying his shirts. Another smooth transaction in his otherwise perfect life. As he walked back out to his car and stowed the shirts in the back, something nagging at him, however. Still, it couldn’t be that important, he thought as he closed the door and buckled seatbelt.

As usual, the car started immediately. It was such a good car. Indeed, it was such a good life!

He pulled out, made his way through the near empty parking lot, and out onto the street. A glorious street lined with oak trees, but maybe a few too many birds. He was going to have to wash his car again!

He paused to consider his morning when something that had been nagging at him in the back of his thoughts suddenly came to the forefront of his brain.

Three inch teeth? Red green lips? Tentacles? Yellowish Green Tentacles!?!?

His brain locked up. Didn’t last long though for he proceeded to slam into an SUV stopped at the light. Time seemed to go into slow motion. He reflected rather dispassionately that the SUV was by all rights was far too large and far too imposing to be completely legal.  Ought to be a law, he thought, at least there would be if he were in charge!

For a brief, shining moment he sat looking peacefully at the disaster before him. He did a quick check. He was safe. The airbag hadn’t gone off, but it hadn’t been needed. The front end of the car was damaged, but not too severely. He could probably fix it. The insurance company would tell him that it was totaled given the value of his old car. He didn’t care. It was his baby, he’d fix it.

The SUV before him looked like its bumper would need replacing and there was a bit of plastic trim that was hanging off. That pissed him off a little. Their bumper had missed his bumper completely and taken out his headlamps and his lovely grill work.

He sat quietly for a moment, centering himself, preparing for the confrontation that was going to inevitably occur in just a few minutes between the two drivers.

The world suddenly came to a crashing halt again.

Three inch teeth? Red green lips? Tentacles? Yellowish green tentacles!?!?

Many things ran through his brain. Was he dreaming? Was his firm grip on sanity finally slipping? Was somebody playing a really bad practical joke? Was he even on the right planet? He glowered to himself. Nope, he was on the right planet and his sanity was rarely in doubt, so this had to be a dream or a joke. Time enough to consider this later, he thought.

He glanced back at the car in front of him. The door opened and the driver got out.  A seven foot driver!!  And three eyes, the center one staring at him!!! He kept looking at the impossible scene, trying to find some bit of normality in it. Ah, yes, a tentacle was holding a drivers license and proof of insurance!

Tentacle?  His brain quietly imploded.  Then reformed, albiet briefly.

He quietly sighed to himself, his disbelief turning to quiet resignation. Nope, he didn’t like change. He loved his routine. He loved the fact that he was the center of the known universe.

Except today his universe changed.

Ray Bradbury

In life, memories, poetry, reflections on June 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm

We come, we go.
We are born, we create, we die.
And the best of us leave something that improves us all.

Ray Bradbury.

He is among the best of us.
He is gone, but left good works behind.
And leaves memories sweet.

Of Trains and Silence (and not)

In life on June 4, 2012 at 11:16 pm

A semi-peaceful night.

After what has been more than a couple of hours, the incessant bells of the nearby railroad crossing have ceased.

Trains of the Burlington Northern railroad come through from the northwest and turn east at White Oak Bayou and the crossing right after the bayou is TC Jester, a half a block from where I live. Now, once the train comes through, more often than not, the arms of the crossing stay down and the warning bell continues its plaintive alert. Sometimes it stops after about 20 or 30 min. and sometimes it doesn’t stop till another train comes through.

Tonight it was particularly annoying. a train came through about 8:30 PM and 30 min. later the railroad crossing arms were still down and the bells still ringing. I hiked out to the crossing, determined to finally get the telephone number and call the railroad.  There I ran into a Houston police officer who managed to get a hold of the Burlington Northern signal alert phone number and gave it to me.

I called and within about 30 to 40 min. a railroad employee was on the scene. He jumpered the arms open, but didn’t/couldn’t stop the bell. Then he waited for some more employees to come along while he monitored the crossing in case another train came through. A decent employee is he.

Maybe this time they can figure out what’s causing the problem, because this has been going on for at least the last six or seven months. Trouble is, according to the railroad, nobody has been calling the problem in, so the signal problem has gone unreported. I haven’t done it because I live about a half a block away and I had no idea what the telephone number was.

And I did learn something interesting, something I’d been hoping for the last few years. I talked to the railroad guy and he told me that the silent crossing system is coming to our neighborhood. They are working on it from Antoine to Watonga. And the next crossing after Watonga is the street around the corner from me! Hallelujah! Given the railroad bureaucracy, it may be another year, but at least it’s progressing.

After all of these years, the sound of the train horns don’t even bother me while I sleep, but when I’m watching movies, I have to hit pause until I can hear the soundtrack again. Then again, the lack of train horns may be just as disturbing to my sleep… until I get used to the quiet again.

Of course, there will always be the rumble of the train as it rolls past. After all these years, there is some comfort in that, something satisfying as the deep throb courses through the earth as steel meets steel.

Some things, at least, won’t change.

And in between, there will still be the silence I treasure.