A Renewed Post

This is an old post.
Jan 12, 2011 8:25 PM

Futility Is the New Utility
by Benb Gallaher

I've got a bizarre amount of explaining to do, although not really TO anyone. That, I suppose, is blogging's raison d’être, but that doesn't really mean that much yet in my life with a dead computer and the fact that I've been paralyzed by financial desperation and the claustrophobic crescendo of January's abject stupefaction.

Yesterday and the day before that, people came and replaced our windows and did all sorts of sawdusty [Ziggy Sawdust?] things, so we showered in Bath (funny funny) at the YMCA (they'd given us a "2 WEEKS FREE!" membership for unspecified reasons) and tried to occupy ourselves, to some avail. I suppose that the windows aren't offensive, but gosh, do I ever miss their beautiful, unwieldy predecessors.

I attended a function today, amid a horrid blizzardy apparatus. I'm really good at attending functions when there's a blizzard happening. Other times, it's a crapshoot. That may sound flippant, but it's more apparent with each huge storm.

(DIGRESSION: Everyone that's known me in day-to-day life knows about my fixation upon people discussing the weather--not the weather per se, but people talking about it like they have some kind of handle on what's vaguely imminent at all times. Paid to lie, just like most policymakers [and, while we're being candid, most other grown-ups], meteorologists have categorically undue sway over and say in how life [insofar as any of us has one of those] gets conducted in their aftermath. Wouldn't it be weird if every person that you saw in a day were to predict some other element of your life in the immediate future? Like Miss Cleo, but inescapable?)

Oh, hold up.

(ADDITIONAL DIGRESSION: Speaking of Miss Cleo, and bringing us niftily if not neatly to an existing narrative that's rather in progress, my father went to see a psychic a couple of years ago. This itself is far from newsworthy, as people tend to do things like that. [Indeed, the attendant stigma of yore regarding psychics is possibly why the telephonic franchise of Miss Cleo herself was so popular, and its dissipation is probably why her star receded.] Anyway, this particular psychic told him that, in order to get a job, "your son with MS [that's me] needs to join Mensa. My folks offered to pay for it and everything, so I opted to ignore my decades-long distaste for people that think of themselves as being intelligent [which is just plain silly] and test for it.

There was a snow event, occurring on R. Stevie Moore's 57th birthday [January 18, 2009] and appearing in Maine shortly following the arrival of my very-wonderful friend Bridget Moore [no relation to R. Stevie], who not only was living in Boston while attending grad school, but also had agreed in advance to accompany me on the half-mile walk from our new-to-us house to the testing facility. "How great," I thought.

My predictions regarding that process merited my failure before the test even began. First, the snowfall began to intensify as if timed to coincide with our walk [I remain amazed at how people (like me) can actually take the weather really/actually/legitimately/sincerely/personally. Wow. That makes meteorologists into sinister henchmen rather than average guessers.]

Speaking of guesses and how awry some guesses go, it should be said that the distance was not what I had calculated. [Blind in my left eye, I have a distorted perception of depth. But that doesn't explain an error so egregious.] Instead of 0.5 miles, the distance was 1.6 miles. [I only learned that later.] And the snow started hurling itself at us, my already-large eyebrows transmuted to gigantic Narnia caterpillars, and Bridget graciously trudged beside me, asking only on occasion, "Are you sure that it's only half-mile?" I insisted with diminishing confidence and icicled eyebrows that it was?

By and by, Bridget and I hobbled across "the finish line," arriving punctually at the testing location [if memory serves, it was a Presbyterian church]. No matter what or which, however, there was some kind of emergency unfolding, with fire trucks and related trappings of emergency response [I'm pretty sure about this, but I could very well have been hallucinating by that point]. Bridget went into the chapel to study, while I went to the testing room in the church's fluorescent-lit basement [again, it's as I recall], feeling profoundly screwed up at how vividly surreal life had smelted itself into being. Time was passing spasmodically, lurching and skidding to such extremes that a person [like me] could grow woozy [like I did] just by watching the hands on the wall clock [like I was doing, compulsively]. And I was surrounded by either Mensans [eek!] or hopeful Mensans [eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!] under these willfully wearisome fluorescent lights, and we had to take this test that would somehow make a factual statement about our smarts. Curiously, we were given an "obvious" practice question [to boost morale? to ensure adherence to testing procedures?] as a prelude to the proper test.

I say to you now, with pride, that I gave it my best shot, and that I did not answer that sample question correctly. And I wasn't making any kind of statement other than, "Oh my effing WORD" by default. Everybody present thought that I was joking. I decided to go through with the test regardless, mostly because I wanted to explore maximally the alien feelings that were my only companion for this episode's duration. Anyway, we got a ride home from a very-gracious proctor-in-training, and I passed the damned test, but that did not discernibly affect my job prospects. Oh is the new zero—Join Mensa today!

Which brings us to the sadistic climatic tomfoolery of yesterday.)

On account of my illness, which is considered a disability (for which I would receive a pittance in perpetuity), I have been affiliated with Vocational Rehabilitation for about a year now. They don't know what to do about me and my inconsistent physical considerations (i.e., no restaurant or construction work), so not only have they adopted a default of blaming me for not having found work, but I have to resist at every turn their inscrutable wont toward placing me into positions in which I will definitely not succeed (I've pursued such positions with all sincerity, but have been met unfailingly with resounding lassitude.).

This is rather well-worn territory—plenty of people have behaved ignorantly and hurtfully toward me on a basis of things that they don't understand—but this is a STATE PROGRAM. This doesn't feel any better than the legion of occasions on which strangers have assumed my drunkenness because of my variable dexterity. Well, it feels worse, because it's the job of these people to take me seriously; they're paid to take me seriously—not to rest upon my shoulders the "fault" of my not getting paid.
So, I went to the newspaper for a Voc-Rehab-endorsed "interest interview." Even though that interview was not for any vacancy or available position, I was grateful for the opportunity to meet someone that was maybe capable of providing some insights. At any rate, the outdoor bluster began hours beforehand (thus necessitating a taxi ride to the interview; conditions were deteriorating so rapidly that, as I was en route, the decision was made to discontinue taxi service for the day). I met my Voc-Rehab contact person there. True to his doubting view of me, he certainly hadn't expected my appearance amid a blizzard, and I think that my being there (for lack of a better term) effed with him. It seemed to me that, throughout the meeting, he was actively pursuing any possible avenue for (a) proclaiming stratified demarcations between us, and (b) creating dissonance within me.

The friendly and warm-hearted gentleman with whom we met did indeed provide me with some insights, but they were retreads of prior insights. (It's difficult to project confidence when rejection becomes so routine.) I didn't have the heart to evaporate, but I couldn't see any reason why I shouldn't have done just that. As my contact person gave me a ride home, white-knuckling and scared stiff by road conditions, he was probably wondering about what had been gained by way of this exercise in "I told you so" hubris. Meanwhile, I sat in the passenger seat, thinking about how spite can motivate people in ways that they'd never foreseen.

Feb 18, 2011

11:58 PM 
if you had all your verbal gems minted, you'd be a vocablillionaire.

Feb 19, 2011
4:30 PM
where y'all comments at? does anyone else think that, when we get to the airport, we should sign a release form, get into huge smocks, and get knocked the expletive out until we arrive at our destination? the airlines would save a fortune! we'd live to overripe old ages!

4:49 PM
If possession is nine-tenths of the law, and "possession" is a 10-letter word, then could it stand to reason that 'possessio' is nine-tenths of possession'?

4:50 PM
Julia said:

I for two would love the idea of getting into a slanket, being given my knock out drops, and waking up refreshed and halfway round the world, it seeming that no time had elapsed.Better than downing all the free booze pronto and spending the flight passed out on the restroom floor.

5:19 PM
Benb responds: That's assuming that the restroom floor will contain you. It rarely happens thus; consider all of the people whose lives are irrevocably altered (almost exclusively for the worse) by obstreperous behavior while aloft. Tedious rockstars (like the once-worthwhile peter buck, the often-worthwhile viv prince, and the never-worthwhile jim morrison) have had this problem with some regularity, but in a nine-twelve world, everyone's always wrong. So knock us out, onetime. Please.


Going on with Our Bad Selves

hi there short post today oh look and free of punctuates
but worry not for i will deploy them shortly

!@#$%R^Y&*(.?"? pretend it's a swear word.

Anywise, it's life in Brunswick, M to the E.

Weather people apparatus creatures said, for at least the fourth time this week, that it's set to snow today, but they lie.We are that person's sniveling consituency.

I think that I am numb from having fried my suspense nerves (suspenders?) without resolution this week in terms of the job. It's still infinitely possible.

Everybody in the family is ill with this admirably persistent nettlefest of a cold. The boys, who refer to mucus as "oogum boogums"  (in deference to that excellent Brenton Wood song; maybe I'll attach it to this post and have a listen now, just to remind me of what I should never forget: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLXvMb5bYHE


Jump 'til You Slump

On my death certificate, under "Cause of Death," I vote for there to be entered: "Having Been Born."

A curiously balmy Thursday morn in February has not hoodwinked me out of awareness that the sun is absent from the proceedings. All of the snow in our yard has melted, and the earth has thawed. We just might be "in the clear" or "out of the woods" or "over the hump" with regard to winter, which is good, because I'm not amenable to cold, now that I'm elderly. If we undergo another cold snap, I just might go out, buy a couple of cans of Aqua Net®, and just point them skyward, spraying until empty.


I'm knowing that I am digressing, but I know not from what. That's just because I'm something of a spazzcase at 6:28 this Thursday morning. I just began taking my medicines again after having gone without them for a number of days (due to some invisible administrative ball-dropping). They are for Narcolepsy and for Chronic Hypersomnolence (which sounds an awful lot like the former, but isn't; rather, it's the latter). Narcolepsy is what they call it when I fall asleep uncontrollably, like a sleep seizure. Hypersomnolence means that I can go to sleep at all times (always?) for indeterminate lengths of time (forever?).

A person (Person X) might think that I like to sleep. Person X would be inaccurate. Person X would be incorrect. And, more importantly, Person X would be wrong. I'm a lifelong opponent of sleep, because it burgles time categorically at my expense and has never left me rested or better for it. I've had good dreams every so often, but I really like staying up and being in and of the waking world, despite both its recalcitrance and its not being affected in any notable way by my presence in or on it.


Now it's later, and it's a dullard of a day. Gloopy and unwelcoming. And I feel bad about my parenting skills. Nothing serious; it's simply that I talk too much, and can even break the Cardinal Rule of taking it personally when people get full-on rude. That's a crappy propensity.

Parenting in a crisis is quite a bit like being impaired, in a lot of ways, or having the air around you turn into rubber cement. I am always surprised at the reflexive responses that I can have to different stimuli, and my sense is that this surprise is shared by parents everywhere. I guess that you never know what's going to occur until you're in the soup of it on whatever basis. And you see yourself dissociated, suppressed, and hapless as all get out. You try to summon yourself back to yourself. Then, it's kinda like, "Hey, obnoxious personality trait! Didn't I work for THREE DECADES to tame you?!!" But then, it's all fine, apparently. Did I tell you that I have WHITE WHISKERS on my chin? They're propagating.


Last year, we peeled an enormous amount of wallpaper. I would that it were still there, so that I might peel it again. Instead, we have to paint. You know, to get on with it and such. But everything is so bleeding unclear. I still haven’t heard about that job, and am considering developing an ulcer in my inordinate fretfulness. But I told my therapist that I would be nice to myself. So, I guess that I’ll go do that now.


Awful Masterpieces

These insomnolent nights of late (in advance of a decision about whether or not I am a suitable candidate to work at this stupendous job to which I have applied [and for which I have interviewed]) are giving me fallible impetus for cursing the epiphenomenal February cold with which I am an have been so grievously afflicted.
I just had a wonderful meeting (accompanied by Desmond and Ivor) with a former partner (you know, like a romanticality-type partner), and I am awed how nobody actually fits into any narrative. You know what I mean? There is always more to every seeming than is comprehensible. I'll explain by way of muddling everything.
The dubious dust-settling clarity that is alleged with hindsight is actually only masquerading as clarity; as "hindsight" is immanently temporal, then all that's happening is the birth of yet another knot.

[On that note, what'd be the word for greater/more/farther hindsight? Hindersight? Call the cops.]

New (re)visions and (re)versions exist only to justify whatever cascading consequence, unrelated agenda, or ambition (degree of fulfillment or folly regardless) that the perceiver perceives the need to perceive. The teller will call it "explaining," but it's only explaining the teller's need to a) explain, and b) tell you about it.
In preposterously crude terms: "Good Friday" wasn't always so good, but now it justifies Easter. Because of things that happened afterward, right? But what if we found out that some profane evildoer sought to perpetuate an as-yet-unspecified injustice by way of inverting the calendar, and that we're participating unwittingly with our half-conscious conceptions of time as we understand it?

"Well, heck," one might say. I would not have started reading this post in the first place.

I remember how Molly said, early in our relationship, to her frenetic boyfriend: "There is no finish line." She was and is absolutely right. I would even say that any conclusion drawn without a distinct timestamp is forgettably flawful. We could be right about one thing in 2012, yet be dreadfully mistaken at a future juncture. Look at building with asbestos, or Urban Renewal, or the Atkins Diet, or the illegality of once-treasured cinematic courtship rituals. What about when all of those tedious texter types have forgotten how to spell AND have developed arthritis in their thumbs?
So, anyway, the thing at which I was getting is that this tiresome apparatus of a "story" that we silly humans are so frequently (even unconsciously) attempting to make of our lives WILL OUTSMART US. Maybe after we’re dead, but eventually. As far as I've been able to construe it, living is a fluid empire.


Crumbs, Disguised as Courses

As a Moment of Truth approaches with this Vermont position-in-awaiting (I've really done my best for this one), there is only jetsam to report, with each unit of flotsam having floated off into the night like so much flotsam in the night.

Some puzzling components, that I'll update as the day progresses:

* Desmond and Ivor have continued to listen to Christmas music, like it's just sort of always there. (This, I suppose, is what happens when you give youngsters Christmas music for Christmas.) Neither Molly nor I have any problem with this, especially because some of it is drawn from the inestimable stockpile of Motown's holiday-greetings performances (both originals and renditions). But then I got to thinking of something that's rather awful. The Jackson 5ive have a number of holiday songs on the collection--among the more irritating of the bunch, it is certain--and then I realized,Wait a second! The whole Jackson family were effing Jehovah's Witnesses!

Don't even try to tell me that that's not the most thoughtlessly sinister thing to do: to get ALL (or most, at least) of your kids, NONE of whom are permitted (by religious order of YOUR OWN imposition) to celebrate any holiday (for any occasion), and have them perform a damn song about the mystery, magic, and mythology of what is arguably the most child-centered holiday of the lot.
Damn, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson! That is cold.

* Typing (not speaking) of cruelty, I'll provide another story. But this one begins with a lengthy expository digression.

In my pre-teen days. I didn't watch much television (aside from the Weather Channel), but my still-supple memory retained everything that I encountered. I'd occasionally catch the Comedy Channel, back before Ha! network began and subsequently merged with them to form Comedy Central. I enjoyed it the most that some of their programming was not even slightly funny. A lot of it was old, too--they'd broadcast spots from something called the Laff-Off from 1979 like it was new (featuring a then-obscure Jerry Seinfeld), shows by Carol Leifer (Leifer Madness), Rachel Sweet (The Sweet Life), and Rosie O'Donnell (Stand-up Spotlight).

Anyway, they had this newsything (I forget the name) that was co-hosted by (a then-obscure) Jon Stewart. (Really, I'd look it up, but Wikipedia is so frequently incorrect that it would be appropriate to accuse them of attempting to re-define reality.) In any case, I distinctly remember a segment in which the FDA testing of an aphrodisiac was underway. I never heard of it again in this context, but its name was Wellbutrin (with the accent on the first styllable rather than the second). Even though the drug resurfaced as an antidepressant, that's neither here nor there. What's fascinating is where they tested it.

In space! With astronauts! It was only then that I realized the pinnacle of human cruelty--giving an aphrodisiac to a person in a spacesuit. Oh my god. Just imagine being that person. You wouldn't even remember why you were suffering. And that's far, far removed from anti-depressing.

* Whenever I have an MRI (Magnetic Resource Imaging) test to assess the structural (but not artistic, thank goodness) integrity of my nervous system, they shut me in a tube, and I have to hear loud, graceless machine noises at relatively unpredictable intervals. This is standard. An aspect of this that I find especially weird, aside from being ordered not to swallow for 10 minutes at a time (which SUCKS),  is that the proctor/administrator/technician offers to play music as I lie there in that tiny tube. I always ask for Billy Joel, so that I can imagine the MRI machine noises as being either an auditioning musician or somebody in the backing band losing his or her composure. It's very satisfying.


Adventures Gone Awry

I don't know what I was or was not thinking, but I decided to instigate a foolish experiment and use a Facebook™ conversation as ostensible material for a blog post. The intended effect of this was to underscore/highlight the collaborative aspects of all this networked whatnot and what not, now that everything is so bleedin’ public.

(This fact reminds me of an old friend of mine, who ALWAYS picked his damn nose. Indiscriminately. All the stupid damn time. I was completely grossed out by this at first, of course, but came eventually to see it as a [pardon the pun] thumbed-nose at interpersonal decorum. This did naught to reduce or ameliorate the extraordinary nastiness of the compulsion, but such a rationale did make its frequency less disturbing to my young mind.)

So, back to the thing with the things and that sort of thing. I decided to begin my Facebook thread with a broad statement in tangential (but apparent) relation to current events. I got all sorts of surprises. I chose the Westminster Dog Show, because I don’t understand how anyone could be without an opinion about that. While I stand by the things that I said (only more moderately), I am fortunate to have a) been humored, and b) realized that the distinctions between our naïve and nascent platforms for socializing, while seemingly subtle, are indeed concrete and NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH.

Here goes (please pardon the occasional underlined names. I'm simply a lower primate by this hour):

dog breeders should be imprisoned. there. i've said it. what they do is full-on disgusting: "could you please, under questionable circumstances, copulate with your lookalike, so that i can sell the babies for profit?"

it's NARCISSISM. and that's not accounting for the fact that the cutesy-poo products are full of mutations; it's as acceptable as intentionally breeding humans with chromosomal abnormalities.

I agree with breeding dogs for show...but there are working dogs that are breed for real work and not show. Real working Sheepdogs for one example.

that goes into deeper issues of animals for work and all of that hierarchical malarkey that i don't dare address; i'm talking more about the fact that pugs can't run, or that wrinkly dogs need their excess-skin folds to be swabbed free of grime on a regular basis.

Don't even research how they do it over here.

(that last commenter lives in china, lest anyone think that he's referring to Pennsylvania or what have you.)

I used to breed pugs. There is a lot more that goes into it beyond just making two dogs screw.

I hear the whole courting ritual is very drawn out and complex. Lots of fine dinners and genital sniffing.

Benb Gallaher (to JM)
maybe, but that doesn't legitimize the aspects of it to which I am referring. making dogs on purpose that can't run is a wacky career choice! but my issue is that the only creatures being served by the alleged (AKC-documented) purity of the rutlings are HUMANS, and that's pitiful wankery.

That's a bit strong. Lots of people do disgusting things for money (cosmetic surgeons for example), but in this country we don't imprison people for having different values or beliefs, we imprison people for breaking laws. So I’d rather say "there ought to be a law..."

Benb Gallaher (to LR)
Oh, I know, but there are all sorts of laws (texting and driving, for example) that don't get enforced. Besides, "imprisoned" is more colloquial than anything, it's like "push the trap-door button."

I know that my statements have not sat well with people in this case, but it's impossible not to encounter online evidence of the Westminster Dog Show, and the shit is crazy. Reproductive manipulation is terrifying, and to benefit materially off of the unwitting products thereof is even terrifyinger. Cosmetic surgery is different; it's elective (boogie woogie woogie).

I think it's an ignorant statement.

Benb Gallaher (to JM)
Please educate me.

I also think dog breeding is gross and I choose not to participate in it. Like those that think gay marriage is gross can choose not to participate in it.

Benb Gallaher (to LR)
Gay marriage is elective, and consensual. This is about manipulating other creatures into procreating so that you can sell the progeny, which seems entirely different.

Benb Gallaher (to JM)
I would love to know of any way in which it's different than how it seems, because it's got mainstream acceptance that I don't understand.

Disgusting inbreeding though it may be, It is the sole reason there exists the creature(s) we call dogs.

How then is it acceptable to eat meat or drink milk from animals that were bred that purpose?

Benb Gallaher (to JM)
Eating animal products is perceived as being essential for survival. I don’t endorse breeding for that purpose, but don't know enough about it. Provision of sustenance and/or nourishment, even if it's only perceived by the consumer, is a function that's different from vanity; the whole dynamic is different in its essence. I don't understand how they could be the same.

I'm not averse to be being seen as myopic or wrong, and I'm open to having my mind changed, but I have never found a compelling contrary argument. I have to go get a haircut. (That last sentence was unrelated to those that had preceded it.)

It's perceived that way, but it's not necessary. I was a vegetarian for nearly 13 years and was never healthier. I attribute my youthfulness, outside of near-perfect Swiss pedigree, to my diet.

Now about fashion vs. function: If we could ask them, do you think dogs would prefer we eat them or become members of our families?

My point was just that those who are terrified and disgusted by gay marriage are just convinced of their rightness as you are about this.

Benb Gallaher (to JM)
the whole vegetarianism thing is one sticky wicket: i, for one, began to eat meat after a vegetarian spell based upon medical orders. everyone is (or at least seems) different.

re what dogs would find preferable: the latter, of course.

but on what basis would they become members of our families? in spite of, or because of, engineered traits? because of visible adherence to a certain set of genetic guidelines germane to documented breeding? as a human, i know that i would be given the creeps by a family like that.

(to LR) right, but nobody has choices made FOR them in the gay-marriage analogy. my issue is of people profiteering from calculated breeding. and now my hair is even longer, so i must get it cut.

(to LR) and i'm not convinced of my rightness, because i'd really like to be wrong.


This isn't some recent trait that was bred into dogs.

Remains of the Husky-like dog, buried 7,000 years ago in Siberia, suggest people saw it as a thinking, social being.

Benb Gallaher (to JM)
and inbreeding is all well and good--it's got to be in my lineage, probably uncomfortably close--but it's about calculating breeding for money and the absence of choice.

Benb Gallaher (to JM)

i'm gonna read that, as soon as i get my haircut (it's an involuntary skullet).

This is where I bring up breeding animals for meat & milking. They are also bred for profit and don't have a choice.

Benb, i think any argument separating the morality of breeding animals vs. eating them is flawed... At its essence the moral question is: is it right for humans to determine the fate of animals in ways that are beneficial primarily to humans and not decided only by the best interest of the animal? If you eat meat I would say that you are indicating a yes answer to this question as I imagine it is not in the best interest of the animal to ne eaten. If it is morally acceptable to decide when and how an animal dies, then why is it not right to decide how it mates, or what the disposition of the offspring is?

Benb Gallaher (to GJ)

(of course it's flawed... shhh!)

i think that that's the best way of putting it that i've heard so far, but the difference is that other animals (even humans) can decide if/when we die, but the presumption of control over how we begin is the question.

this is exactly the kind of exchange that i am seeking, by the by.

what if a bunch of dogs made us do it to our relatives, for instance, in order to fulfill an objective according to a value system that's anathema to us? (granted, i've no idea of how they'd swing that, but still—it wouldn't be the same as dingoes stealing a baby).

Well that's the thing, animals don't decide, we decide for them. The argument is either animals DO have a right to self-determination or they DON'T. Philosophically valid arguments can be made on both sides, but I think we can agree most folks accept the DON'T side of that argument.

However, your original post also cites another issue which is the intentional development of traits that are detrimental to the animal, but advantageous to the human.

Benb Gallaher (to GJ)


This then, in my opinion, leads to a slightly different moral argument in that these traits can create suffering on the part of the animal. Self-determination is one thing (the CHOICE issue you mentioned), but carelessly creating suffering in an animal is a separate moral argument. If you breed an animal so it is more pleasing to animals, this, in and of itself is simply a matter concerning self-determination, which I think we agree or almost agree, is not a right animals are endowed with.

Benb Gallaher (to GJ)
but they are contiguous, and my arguments throughout this (not the original statement) have been presented in response to other points raised.

However, at the point these traits that please us also create suffering in animals it moves to the immoral side of the issue.

Benb Gallaher (to GJ)
that is much closer to what i was saying. entitlement, manipulation, narcissism. the original post was meant to be maximally inflammatory toward what i feel to be (and most humans don't consider as being) a nasty-ass pastime.

So i would say that breeding animals for our own benefit is not immoral (or Gross), doing so to the degree that results in animals who suffer is wrong (and very very gross).

Now we could push this moral argument even further by asking if this suffering issue is mitigated by people being willing to take measurements to eliminate the suffering?

Benb Gallaher (to GJ)
yeah, i never intended to bring the function piece into it. i'm talking about the vanity thing. i'll be back; i need a hair cut baaaaaaaad.

So is it OK to breed dogs that cannot run as long as we ensure that we provide a lifestyle that does not require them to run? Is it OK to breed dogs that have those deep face wrinkles so long as we are willing to regularly clean them so they never get infections etc. and therefore never suffer?

I'd say this develops a more difficult argument because then you also get into the element of responsibility on the part of the breeder to ensure that all dogs with those potentially detrimental traits a cared for in a manner that prevents suffering....

Benb Gallaher (to GJ)
and there is no way to ensure that.

Sorry for the diatribe, but we could follow this rabbit very far down the hole indeed...

Benb Gallaher (to GJ)
it's great. i really like hearing from people about this.

Suffice it to say that I disagree that breeding dogs is inherently immoral, but agree that there are aspects of the dog breeding industry that are immoral and gross!

GJ (to Benb Gallaher)
Oh absolutely there is no way to ensure that so i think a very solid moral argument could be made against intentionally breeding traits that could even potentially cause undue suffering.

As far as the vanity thing, i think it is irrelevant whether it us vanity, or what the purpose is. It could be vanity, or emotion (breeding animals that emotionally bond) or taste (breeding tastier chickens)... It all boils down to pleasure. We breed animals that please us. We've determined that animals have no right to self determination, and decided to breed them in ways that please us.

Well, benb, we'll have to continue this tomorrow if we so choose, I'm off to bed.

I think many breeders are truly in it because they love the dogs. They know there is a demand and if they can fill that demand in the safety of their home, where the mom and puppies will get proper love and healthcare and dignity than good for them. One less puppymill. Pet-owner breeders are the best weapon against the disgusting puppymill creeps. Also, most of these folks aren't seeking to genetically modify anything, but rather to preserve the traits of an existing breed.

Allowing this to exist is almost certainly wrong. In any case, if the breeding of certain wrinkled dogs isn't objectionable for any reasons previously noted, I would argue that the creation of something so hideous is clearly morally reprehensible and should be punished with a minimum jail sentence of 5 years, give or take.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

ten days later

it's silly to begin this post which is itself begun after a lengthy hiatus during which much has happened and after which I attempted to compose a sentence that is laden with as many prepositional clauses as possible, notwithstanding my lassitude at counting them in spite of myself.

so, this is what's that. i went to vermont this week, and not just because i have hearts in my eyes for it; i also had a job interview there. this is not uncommon news, but what is common news is that it felt like a serious success! i am very, very hopeful.

because i'm basically ramshackle with sneeziness and allergency at the moment, i'd better go, but there is more that will happen on here, however eventually.

please have loveliness and adventure.


Now I'm All Serious

Humans need to have some work done on their stupefying human brains.

Here in Brunswick, Maine, we are out of oil, with perhaps a thimbleful remaining.

Anyhow, I've just adjusted the thermostat upwards by 20% to 60°, so that my wife and children don’t feel like they’re hostages on an involuntary sojourn to a distinctly frostful hinterland. It’ll definitely drain what remains in our tank, which had been relatively plentiful prior to a polar yestereve. But, consequences be damned, say I, when it comes to my family knowing at least a semblance of comfort in their shared slumber. I’m staying awake in preparation of the emergency-refill call that I know that I’ll have to place sooner than later, even though I’ve no means of paying for a delivery (due to a succession of foibles that is keeping the money that I’ve earned at arm’s length). People say that compensation is forthcoming, and I hope that it is.

Granted, the party (where’s the party?) line is that a person should lie in the bed that they made, which is perfectly aligned with the puritanical and punitive notions that founded this intermittently great land. “Serve the heavens with your deprivation.”

This is all well and good, but why do we live in a country that appears to be allergic to alternatives, even as it is ruled by profiteering? It is actually, legitimately preposterous. To fill our oil tank would cost—and this is no joke—$974.00! Without the $50 in fees that we’d be obliged to pay. Per month, at this rate. How on earth can a person afford that in addition to everything else? There is assistance available, but Governor Paul LePage has decided to cut the amount by 70% so that he can provide tax cuts for wealthy people. He says that this spurs job creation, but it does no such thing. What is does do is let people be cold. We won’t freeze to death (I am, as I've stated before, famously exothermic), but there are heaps of impoverished people in the middle of nowhere. Many of them are ancient and proud, and what will become of them in all of this? What will happen? We’ll have a sudden onslaught of AARPsicles, that’s what.

Research into alternative heating has proven to be a fruitless enterprise; a summer visit from a Solar-Power consultant confirmed that a switch away from oil is, more or less, cost-prohibitive ($20,000) for people like us; we could finance it, and there are (rather piddly) tax credits, but they don’t outweigh a bleak employment and income scenario, and they won’t defray initial costs to any appreciable extent. So, in this very nasty meanwhile, we have to continue to “shell” out for heat, which mandates that we’ll accrue no savings.

And this is how the Great, Big “Them” works. I don’t think that it was ever really possible for me to appreciate before this cardboard-salad sector of my life, just what a joke the notion of class mobility is for most people. I would not be writing this post had I not been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis during my final semester of graduate school, only to be shunned on multiple occasions by Social Security and others like them when I sought assistance regarding my disabilities.

It happens to people all the time—gradually, momentum is lost, and you’re suddenly embalmed in the formaldehyde of class rigidity. It’s assumed that you have nothing to contribute, or that you’re cognitively incapable, or that you’re unable to manage adult life. The people that think thus, and strive to impress that upon you so that your limitations are bandied about constantly, don’t see the OTHER, more pernicious, set of limitations—borne of the fact that this culture is fueled by judgment and hierarchy, and that that's the default that every one of us is beholden to examining. 

With a chronic and (supposedly) terminal disease like MS, it’s so often the case that nobody believes in any chance of your improvement, but they’ll placate you when you talk about it by refraining from yawning when you speak. But then, when you are experiencing wellness, expectations of you are frightfully unrealistic, like your health is a bank account that you MUST empty whenever possible—usually by way of exposing yourself to the same stress-filled nonsense that begot this whole cycle in the first place.

And now, there are my wonderful, wonderful children and my stunningly excellent wife, who is my best-ever friend. They’re so, so important to me. And, truly, the love that we have for each other serves as a barometer for a life that is lived harmoniously with my self. That is precisely why all of this tedium has got to, and (I hereby declare) is going to, STOP.



An unfortunate happening, this: when I commit to posting by saying something like, "A post is coming. I wil be right back," it much more often than not, is a prelude to a protracted hiatus. But it's not like anything all that productive happens. It's sort of like I get into bed at a predetermined time, but between incorrect or unintended layers, and discover that there is an object (like pencil [or a pebble (or a pea)]) that is stuck between sheets beneath me, obliging me to get up and negotiate the opaque and darkened jungle of blanketry just to remove it, so that I can have another go at resting. By that point, though, I've begun to think of this or that undone thing, and the litany of projects derailed in process, and what a failure I've been in my adult life, and how much I miss my friends near and far, and...well, this begets a besmirching torrent of regret and negativity at my own expense, which is one ineffective lullaby. Feeling haunted thus precludes sleeping, which culminates with my sleeping until a disruptively late hour. The gray scramble that ensues typically concerns the myriad of life-and-living matters to which I must attend.
That is what happens, in a(n expansive) nutshell.
Today is beautiful to see, and hooray for windows, because it's insultingly cold. Molly and I have decided today to, in earnest, become a greater part of the community in which we live. You know: instead of seeking some blissful endpoint to our wanderings, we'll be here, because this right now is our family and the lives that we are living.
We will see how that goes.

Please end soon, Winter.


Feel Like Makin' Lists

[Bad Company is as horrid as it gets, but there is certain…satisfaction (?) to be derived from singing the line of the title to the tune of their odious unthem (new word); it would culminate with, “Feel Like Listin’ Things to Do.”]

There will be a proper post today; it’s on my list.
(Your kiss, however, isn’t. I’m spoken for, which is a miracle.)

Thank you for your understanding.


The Duller Points

Call this whatever you want; I'll call it February by default. The sun is getting stronger; I can feel it. It's rather like a dream in which you can't move, but somebody's eating your favorite meal right up on you. (I've never had such a dream, and I hope that I don't now.)

There are some among us (and doubtless among you, though I don't really know anything about the who or whom that ever reads this or these) that think that I am unemployable. (If you are one of them, then perhaps you're right in that I would never in a bazillion effing eons work for you.) I'd say that the problem is that the opposite of that is true.

There are lots of things that I at least know about, and there are lots of those things that I know enough to “do” about. I don’t have direction, because I tend not to get chances. And I’m not talking about the apocryphal stability that is based upon some gesture of nepotism. I am ready to go, but merely waiting to be plugged in somewhere. I am immersed in a perpetual panic about money, and employers don’t give a care, because let’s face it—they “know” somebody, they owe Sir and Madam X a “favor,” or they’re not willing to hire outside of a comfort zone of bellcurve normalcy because of an undisclosed fear of an undisclosed scenario. (If you wish to blame me for my own un[der]employment, though, I’m afraid that you’re going to have to take a number. How very GOP of you.)

I give of my best (which is not saying much, sometimes) in virtually everything that I do. It's important to me to be a person like that—one that encourages people to be themselves, despite any potential negative implications to me or my adultly blargstrife index.

Whoa! Suddenly, four days have elapsed, and by or @ this dull-indeed point, I have revealed myself to be a ranting laissez-faire kook, because I haven't posted in an e-ternity. I like it like that, marginally, but only because I thought that it would be a nice time to say those words.

Anyway, I've tried to be clever about attracting/conscripting clients for the editing work that I do. (Cleverness is subjective, largely because it's illusory.) Here’s a tale of when I go with my family to my favorite restaurant in town (there are a heap of restaurants here in Brunswick). It's called Shere Punjab, and its warmth dictates that I would love it even if the food sucked, which it absolutely doesn't. We haven't been there for some time before now—on account of having emerging youngsters among us, yes, but also on account of our being pauperly. Upon our arrival, I don’t know what compels me to use the latter in order to legitimize the interval since my last visit, but I do.

So, we look at the menu (why don’t people ever call that a “meenoo”?), and I see a bunch of egregious typographical/grammatical errors (you know that sort of thing: “dessert” becomes “desert”; “piece” becomes “peace”). This doesn’t bother me by itself, and it never bothers me when somebody’s on the level, but we live in a xenophobic country, and I am bothered when the grammatical inaccuracies of non-native English speakers serve as fodder for ridicule. This really, really is mean, in my opinion. What’s worse is that the arrogant rednecks so eager to criticize mistakes like this, sometimes even employing them as a fulcrum of justification for blatant racism, are pretty much dumb as onions.

I want to stymie that type of juvenilia, yet I realize that restaurant owners trend away from being independently wealthy; as such, I offer the very-gracious restaurant owner of Shere Punjab a barter in which I I’ll “fix” his menu in exchange for food. I approach him about this, just after paying the server for our meal. It’s a slow evening, so he’s been seeing to all sorts errands, but I catch him and think it opportune to ask.

Immediately, he ices over at my suggestion, exhaling through flared nostrils with a sense of exasperation that squarely surprises me. “Now is not the time. Leave me a contact number.” I am nonplussed and embarrassed at my obvious and unwitting faux-pas, but I maintain composure, of course. As we prepare to leave, though, he hurriedly hands me a bright-yellow, third-generation photocopy of the menu without a word, and bids us farewell with a friendly wave and smile.

It isn’t until later that Molly suggests what the reason might have been for his sudden and fleeting sternness. The more that I think on it, the more sense it makes: he’d thought that we’d eaten without paying, and that I said, “Hey! I’ll fix your menu in exchange for the food that we just ate.” Wow. So now I’ve got a near-illegible yellow copy of a menu to proofread in exchange for food.


I’m gonna do this. Look out.