Ode to Poor Uncle Dick

Poor Uncle Dick, all alone at the party hanging out by the booze, but cousin Jimmy was told not to serve him cause Uncle Dick’s on heart medicine, the kind that don’t mix well with alcohol.  Well, no matter anyway, everyone knows he’s a mean drunk so it’s best to keep him sober

Poor Uncle Dick.  Years ago, he lost one nut scaling a fence after trying to steal a car from a used car lot.  After getting inside the fenced lot he lit the place on fire when he couldn’t find the keys to any of the cars.  As he was leaving, poor Uncle Dick was surprised by an angry Rottweiler who chased him around the lot until Dick killed the dog with a tire iron.  He lost his nut when he got stuck on the fence on the way out.  That was a bad night for him, cause when he got to the bottom of the fence there was a police car waiting for him.

Later, he told the judge he did it to impress a girl, Janey Drinkwater, but she said she didn’t even know who he was, but she showed them a series of weird notes she had been getting anonymously from “some creep.”  They never could prove he sent the notes, but he did.  His father got him off in a deal where he could do counseling instead of jail time.  His counselor later said he was a very strange human being and that he shouldn’t be around children or animals. None of this surprised his father, who said his oldest son was always too happy to castrate the hogs and the bulls on the farm. Said his Dad, “The sight of blood never bothered little Dick…well unless it was his own, then he’d go running to his room and hold his hamster by its tail and listen to it squeal.”

Poor Uncle Dick.  Everyone is enjoying the party but him.  Every time he tries to get into a conversation it’s like the sea parts.  I guess people get tired of hearing about his gun collection and hunting exploits.  Jeeez, how many times can you listen to a guy talk about skinning an elk?

Poor Uncle Dick.  They say his mother couldn’t breast feed him because he’d latch on for holy hell until his she screamed for mercy.  Staring down at his malevolent little infant eyes she had the sense that he liked inflicting pain.  “Happiest day of my life is when we switched him to the bottle,” says his Mom.  “Truth be told, and I am not proud of this, but I used to add a little vinegar to the little monster’s formula hoping it might help with the colic.  Didn’t, but I kept trying.”  That’s what Poor Uncle Dick’s mother said, I swear, she told me that more than once.

Poor Uncle Dick still walks around trying to get everyone to look up to him, but Christ, the man is a piece of work if ever there was one.  Hard to tell what his children think of him, and I wouldn’t dare ask his wife.  She just about trembles in his presence.  Can’t hardly imagine what happens in their home.  It’s like he thinks that we all can’t wait to hear more about the battery in his chest that keeps his heart ticking.

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe his heart has to work so hard to beat that there ain’t no kindness in it.  Poor Uncle Dick.  Maybe they’ll find a way to finally get around the statute of limitations on that little mess he got into a few years back,  He says he was just defending his family, but even they say Dick wanted the people to come in the house so he could surprise them with his weapons.  Pretty shocking all the blood they had to clean up.  Two of them fellas still can’t walk, so they keep them in that special prison where they can get treated properly.

Poor Uncle Dick.  What can we do with poor Uncle Dick?

(How about we prosecute him for sanctioning torture and other crimes against humanity?)

William Pfaff Column on Torture

I share this column because it expresses exactly how I feel about the revelations in the Senate Report on Torture. Attached is the link to William Pfaff’s website and his excellent collection of columns.  Below is the full text of today’s column.  Pfaff has long been an intelligent voice about world affairs.

Truly, when we violate the basic codes and legal agreements of humainity and international law, we are no better than those we have condemned in the past.  Unless we bring our own criminals to reckoning, we have lost the core of what makes America meaningful.  And to be clear, those who approved, authorized, or conducted torture are criminals.

 

http://www.williampfaff.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=707

Columns : At Nuremberg They Were Hung.

Paris, December 17, 2014 –The wartime Western allies, their judges pronouncing on war crimes in the city of Nuremberg, ordered hung until dead eleven major World War II criminals at Spandau Prison in Germany on October 6, 1946. Those judged were not hung because their crime was that they were themselves torturers; they were too highly placed for that. They were people who had ordered that the gloves be taken off. It was the people under their orders who took the gloves off and tortured and murdered.

For many years preceding the second world war, torture of a human being was widely considered a heinous crime. It was not formalized in international law as such, because it was taken as part of the General Law of Humanity, which is to say law that was obvious to humans in Western Civilization.

Since World War II and the Nuremberg Tribunal, and other war crimes trials held in the months and years that followed, torture has been formally identified as an international crime in a number of conventions and treaties, and by such bodies as the International Red Cross, and of course the United Nations.

It has widely become adopted into national as well as international legal codes. It is part of the Laws of War as recognized by the United States Armed Forces.

The United States has also incorporated it into the Code which binds all men and women serving in the forces. This has added the rule that no soldier may obey an illegal order, such as an order to torture a prisoner.

This obviously places such a soldier in a paradoxical situation since the superior giving the order is assumed to issue only legal orders. The soldier would rarely be in a position to appeal over his head to a higher officer. In general it must be assumed that the soldier is in a position in which his own conscience must decide his act. It is exactly this which, with rare exceptions, is absent from the story we have read in the Senate CIA Report.

In the CIA case there is little record of employees of the agency refusing an order to torture. There is a record of people in this position denouncing the order to the press or to some civilian political authority, Congress, or the public. This typically has resulted in the legal prosecution and conviction of the truth-tellers, or — especially under the Obama administration (to the dismay of Mr. Obama’s admirers) to strenuous efforts to capture and prosecute these people for revealing the truth about what may be crime or malfeasance, as in the cases of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, and of course that of the self-confessed conscientious objector, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning — as well as a few others.

It has for years been known in police and intelligence circles that torture rarely produces useful and timely information from a captive. It typically produces lies meant to stop the torture, untrue information supplied to please the torturer’s apparent wishes, or murder of the victim by the torturer or the torturing institution, as at Guantanamo, and apparently at one or more of the Black Sites.

The most disturbing and basic question is why Americans officials seemed to want so badly to torture when to do so was known – even to the Agency – to be so unprofitable. Dick Cheney in an interview (on “Meet the Press”) stubbornly has insisted that the torture produced rich results, was not properly torture anyway, and that the CIA report published by the Senate was a deliberately concocted and politically motivated compendium of falsehoods by Democratic politicians and the liberal press — even though no doubt can exist that it was prepared from information inside the CIA by members of the Senate staff.

Within the Agency a pathology clearly has existed and prevailed, but it was initiated and promoted by Agency leaders and prominent members of the Bush administration. It was sustained inside the Obama administration by other such persons in official positions and in the Congress despite Mr. Obama’s forbidding of torture and his unfulfilled promise to close Guantanamo prison, where torture apparently continues even now in the form of forced feeding, which serves no defensible military or intelligence purpose at all, other than to debase prisoners (and obviously their jailers, as well as those officials who ordered it). These people have simply wanted, and still want, to torture people.

Apparently nothing is going to be done to change anything as a result of this Senate revelation, just as nothing effective was done about torture and assassination in Vietnam. In Vietnam we had the Phoenix program of assassinations of suspected enemy collaborators among the peasantry. I emphasize ‘suspected,’ having gone along, in a semi-official analytic capacity, on one such interview of a terrified family whose father was not at home.

The American civilian I accompanied was followed by a montagnard tribal executioner so that the job, if necessary, could be done on the spot. The American seemed to like his work. (I mention this — which for me followed several years of work with a CIA-owned international political warfare organization — so as to disabuse the reader who might think that what I am about to conclude is the fancy of an unsophisticated journalist. The episode was soon followed by the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, first of the American invasions of small countries which since have laid waste the Middle East, and which at the time inspired me to seek another way to make a living.)

In my view, those in the American government who ordered and conducted this program of torture by the CIA since the autumn of 2001 should be arrested, tried for self-evident common crimes, and if convicted, hung.

That would convince government officials for years to come that international legal prohibitions of torture and other readily recognized crimes against humanity, which have been ratified by the United States Executive Branch and Congress, shall be obeyed, and illegal orders to the contrary be disobeyed and denounced to the international public if necessary.

Regrettably, in this case in the United States, criminals are no longer hung, nor is the death penalty widely applied to other than the poor. Thus I would assure that the sentence be served in a common prison in the company of ordinary criminals, sharing the ordeal which is the common experience of that vast number of Americans condemned to penal servitude. In no case should it be served in the comfortable federal prisons reserved by our government for white-collar criminals. They should be made to think of Nuremberg.

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Thomas Eric Duncan

Thomas Eric Duncan died today of Ebola.  He was the Liberian man who came to Dallas, Texas, to see his son, and whose exposure to the Ebola virus in Liberia has triggered a massive public health response to contain any outbreak here.

Mr. Duncan was simply a man, like any other person, whose life was filled with hardships and challenges.  His aspirations were the same as any of us, and I am saddened at his death.

Ebola is not “their disease.” it is ours.  and each death is a loss, each sad ending.

Rest in Peace, Thomas Eric Duncan.

 

The Third Week of August

The third week of August has long been my salvation. The month in which the air finally has a hint of cold. The week in which Autumn peers through the madness of Summer and whispers “I am coming.” It is both a reminder to secure the firewood and complete the projects that lie strewn about without the threat of rainfall.

This Summer has been a torment. Two Osprey are nesting above the house in one of the tall fir trees and all day long there is a plaintive cry between them. Who would think Osprey could become annoying? AND, they joined by the ceaseless cooing of doves. Doves cooing as torture-that’s a twist. This morning some other as yet unidentified bird joined the choir with a whistle like staccato that hit the ears like drops of water in a prison cell. At least it’s all funny now that I write it, being tormented by nature.  Since I’m unloading, six weeks ago the heat turned my eyes into kaleidoscopes with double vision cluttering my world and flies made to look like jet planes. Relief is on the way.

And so it goes. Soon I will be cursing the incessant rain, but in truth these are small moments offered more for whimsy than formal complaint, this third week of August when the first cool air if Autumn promises a change.

Bye Bye Bud

Selig

 

 

Bud Selig

Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball is retiring.  Before he was commissioner he was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.  I’ve never liked Bud, initially because he led a group that deposed his predecessor, Fay Vincent, when they grew weary of a commissioner whose authority could place the interest of the game above their own.  Bud’s commissionership affirmed that in the new order the prime directive of the position was to make money for the owners.

LandisThe first commissioner of baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was hired by the team owners of that era (a flamboyant lot of cheats and scoundrels) to clean up the image of the game following the aftermath of the Black Sox scandal in the 1919 World Series.  That scandal is  often attributed to the eight ball players Landis banned from the game even though they were acquitted in a court of law.  That bit of history is well documented in two fine works, the book 8 Men Out, by Eliot Asinof, and the film of the same name, by John Sayles.  Landis brokered his integrity and credibility into a lifetime appointment that made him baseball’s supreme commander.  In varying degrees all subsequent commissioners had that authority and the game was frequently thought of as something more important than the selfish interests of both its owners and players.

From Wikipedia:  “Kennesaw Mountain Landis was an American jurist who served as a federal judge from 1905 to 1922 and as the first Commissioner of Baseball from 1920 until his death. He is remembered for his handling of the Black Sox scandal, in which he expelled eight members of the Chicago White Sox from organized baseball for conspiring to lose the 1919 World Series and repeatedly refused their reinstatement requests. His firm actions and iron rule over baseball in the near quarter-century of his commissionership are generally credited with restoring public confidence in the game.”

Restoring Public Confidence in the Game

After Landis came a string of men who to some extent followed that mandate, including Happy Chandler, who undid one of Landis’ greatest shortcomings-failing to allow black players into the game, when Landis did not stop the Dodgers from playing Jackie Robinson.  Commissioners occasionally ran afoul of a disgruntled owner when acting in the better interests of the game, but it was the accepted norm until Commissioner Bart Giamatti, a former President of Yale University, died unexpectedly on the job leaving a relative unknown and less powerful Fay Vincent to fill the position.  Seizing on the unexpected opening, a new breed of owners led by Uncle Bud understood it was time to have a Commissioner do their bidding even if it meant sacrificing the notion of upholding the mythical good of the game. Vincent was deposed, and leaving nothing to chance, Bud assumed the position.

Happy Chandler    Gen. Bill Eckert         Ford Frick              Bowie Kuhn

Chandler

Eckert Frick  Kuhn

 

 

 

Peter Ueberroth                          Bart Giamatti           Fay Vincent

Ueberroth

images

Vincent

 

 

 

If I can forgive Bud for his limited view of economics, I cannot forgive him for how he botched the response to the Steroid Era.  Like the owners during the post Black Sox scandal in 1919, modern day owners found themselves at the center of a moral storm that they were in part responsible for.  Their willingness to pay extraordinary sums to players with hyper-inflated statistics encouraged and rewarded the practice of using banned substances.  It is hard to believe that anyone paying those sums did so without knowing the chemical component to those statistical miracles.  Left to others, the steroid inquiry might lead up the food chain to owners so, when Bud had a chance to do something about it, he went all holier than thou and set about “to clean up the game”  restoring confidence as had the owners who hired Landis decades before.

 

This is my biggest gripe with Bud.

Instead of turning on his stars, he could have done something better.  He could have cleaned up the game of the harmful steroids while protecting the game itself, a mandate he didn’t seem to favor, and without turning the public against the players who made him and the other owners wealthy.

He could have thanked them for how much they excelled, how much they strove to perform the superhuman deeds we all applauded and paid for.

He could have said that he understood the pressure an athlete faces to perform.

He could have declared an amnesty for all prior use of steroids and established a window of time, say three years, in which all players would be asked to come forth and declare what and when they used.  Those players would be immune from any punishments, suspensions or impacts on their Hall of Fame credentials.

The game would have been clean, sober and revealed of the mysteries surrounding who did what and when.

Then, he could have lowered the boom and said that any player henceforth who either was proven to have used substances and not come clean, or who was caught using now would be suspended from baseball for life.

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION.

But, Bud is not a Nelson Mandela and instead went all Crucible choosing to support an hypocritical witch hunt against players who dared to play the game better by getting stronger.  Bud threw some of the best players of the era like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez to the feeding frenzy.One scandal after another, one revelation after another rocked the game and robbed it both of its stars and its integrity, something it has not fully recovered from yet.  All this in a country that peddles enhancement in everything from our breasts to our penises.

Baseball, under Bud’s leadership, served up a crusade against athletes who got stronger. The American public was more concerned with Barry Bonds than bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The “Game of Shadows” was more important than the shame of two of the most ill-conceived wars in American History.

Further, while the bus was rolling over their discarded carcasses, scores of other players watched the big names take the fall while they went undetected.  Sadly, if you think the ones who have been vilified are the only ones who used, you are delusional.  While no one can cite a figure, it is likely there were hundreds of players using some form of banned enhancement.  I keep a personal and list of overachieving players whose anomalous statistics make me suspicious of their achievements, and most of them were not punished.

I had a high school teacher in the less than tolerant early 1970’s who was openly gay in a hostile all boys school environment asked impolitely by one of my classmates if he was a faggot (Sorry, I don’t use euphemisms when recounting real language) boldly replied, “Listen, stop wasting your time trying to figure me out.  If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and looks like a duck:  it’s a duck.” So to all the average players who morphed into Ruthian Popeyes, all I can say is, “quack fucking quack.”  I don’t know how you live with yourselves.  Thank you Bud for that sordid piece of history.

To be clear:  there are players who will be or have already been elected to the Hall of Fame who “used” and didn’t get caught, while the best ones like Bonds, Clemens, and Rodriguez will not get in.  The Baseball Writers, who vote for Hall of Fame membership, men and women who never played the game will uphold their perverted mythical status of the game, while in reality that status didn’t exist before, doesn’t exist now and will not exist in the future.  Like Buck Weaver in Eight Men Out, some of the greatest players of this or any era will find themselves on the outside looking in at a game they played so well.

Exhale…

In the low-level dialogue that constitutes the sports media, Bud is treated fairly well, even given credit for being visionary because of the handful of changes he brought to the game.  These are in no special order,

Realignment and the introduction of playoff wild card teams.

Interleague play.

Additional franchises.

An unbalanced schedule formula that heavily favors intradivisional play (2001)

Home field advantage in the World Series granted to the winner of the All Star Game in the same season (2003)

Stricter Major League Baseball performance-enhancing drug testing policy (2005)

World Baseball Classic (2006)

Instant replay used by umpiring crew to review disputed home run calls (2008). Expanded to all calls (except balls and strikes) starting in 2014.

These things make him visionary?

It seems to me that what Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra, Raphael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens, and the other so-called “cheaters” did along with the hundreds of other baseball players, using or not, that made a hard game seem elegant and simple gave more to the game than what Bud did.

I don’t think I’ll miss Bud but you never know. Just when you think the bar can go no lower… One day Uncle Bud may seem like a hero to us as we stew in our own maudlin juices recounting the fictitious Good Ole Days when the game and all those in it were pure.  One day, we may walk the halls of Cooperstown and see Bud’s plaque on the wall in place of the above mentioned players, and we’ll say, “That was Bud Selig, he introduced video replay twenty-five years after the National Football League did.  He was a genius.”

 

Unfolded Fortune Cookies

Les and Ken brought us a bag of unfortunate fortune cookies last week. A large bag of cookies that didn’t make it to restaurant tables because they didn’t get folded, but rather were flattened circles, though still tasty.  We took them to a dinner party and I wrote these fortunes to go with them.  I spent five minutes on this and if you get too serious about their meaning I will hunt you down and make you eat an entire bowl of Chinese mustard!

Do you seek beauty? Look into the eyes of children instead of mirrors.                        Lucky # 4567898924   Learn Spanish: Suerte=Lucky

Age, not an enemy, rather a friend all know.                                                                  Lucky #678407 Learn Russian: Nyet=No

Wisdom: better fed with silence than words.                                                                 Lucky #768734209 Learn Greek: Ichthys=Fish

Spare others from your passionate kindness.                                                              Lucky #733333334 Learn English: Republican=Angry White Man

See the people in front of you? Beware the cliff that follows.                                          Lucky #1674342 Learn Hungarian: Yanopote Keevanuk=Greetings.

Music is better than an eager surgeon.                                                                         Lucky #42 Learn Japanese: Tako=Octopus

You are not losing hair but finding skin.                                                                        Lucky #3.14   Learn Serbian: Xzlzxzlz=Shush

Fate will embrace you better than lust.                                                                          Lucky #999999999999   Learn Tagalog: Chow chow=chow chow

An afternoon nap is more refreshing than coffee.                                                            Lucky #11-45-78-908 Learn Spanish: Adelante=forward

Hatred: the flower from the seed of fear.                                                                      Lucky #911 Learn Arabic: Salaam=Peace

Righteousness: the pleasure of fools.                                                                           Lucky #1 Learn Yiddish: Shmendrick=fool

Me: the first word of many misdeeds.                                                                           Lucky #1345624960549 Learn Chinook Jargon: Klahowa=Hi

Clandestine food is consumed with relish. So are hot dogs.                                          Lucky #109086848 Learn Bantu: Lion=Run

 

Arapaima and Sadness: Fish Posting

  1. Arapaima gigas:  Arapaima Fish

Ara3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche is a genus of bonytongue native to the Amazon and Essequibo basins in South America. They are the largest freshwater fish of South America, and among the largest fresh water fish anywhere.

 

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Ruby called this morning to wish me a happy birthday.   She also asked me about a fish she bought for dinner two days ago at Whole Foods in Dallas:  Paiche.  It always surprises me when a fish, especially one that is sold in mainstream markets, is unfamiliar so  I Google’d it.  I discovered that Paiche is better known as Arapaima, an Amazon River staple and one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. It is long, stout and tapered like many other river behemoths. The fishing of Arapaima is said to be tightly controlled because overfishing has brought it nearly to extinction.

This is the sadness, the moment any fish makes its way to the hungry world’s dinner table, that creature is already close to over-fished. Human efficiency at harvesting wild resources is devastating.  Nearly every native and wold stock of fish that we eat is endangered.  I asked Ruby if Whole Foods said whether the Paiche is wild or farmed and she thought wild but according to Wikipedia, Arapaima is not commercially fished but is aqua-cultured.

Ironically, if aqua-cultured, Paiche would be safe to eat without fear of endangering it, although most aqua-cultured creatures retain little of the taste, vitality, or soul of their wild counterpart:  like strawberries from California or French cherries.  But I wont go into that now.

No matter its place on our table or in the wild the beautiful Arapaima is a creature worthy of a moments admiration.

Arapima2

The Machines Are Winning continued…

As you may know, I think that the line between human and machine grows smaller every day.  In fact, I’m not sure that some of us are not already machines.  This article from the Guardian Website Today, June 9th, 2014 is worthy of a read.

 Computer simulating 13-year-old boy becomes first to pass Turing test

‘Eugene Goostman’ fools 33% of interrogators into thinking it is human, in what is seen as a milestone in artificial intelligence

• In ‘his own’ words: how Eugene fooled the Turing judges
• What is the Turing test? And are we all doomed now?

theguardian.com,
turing test

Codebreaker Alan Turing devised a test in 1950, saying that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was ‘thinking’. Photograph: Sherborne School/AFP/Getty Images

A “super computer” has duped humans into thinking it was a 13-year-old boy to become the first machine to pass the Turing test, experts have said. Five machines were tested at the Royal Society in central London to see if they could fool people into thinking they were humans during text-based conversations.

The test was devised in 1950 by computer science pioneer and second world war codebreaker Alan Turing, who said that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was “thinking”.

No computer had ever previously passed the Turing test, which requires 30% of human interrogators to be duped during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations, organisers from the University of Reading said.

But “Eugene Goostman”, a computer programme developed to simulate a 13-year-old boy, managed to convince 33% of the judges that it was human, the university said.

Professor Kevin Warwick, from the University of Reading, said: “In the field of artificial intelligence, there is no more iconic and controversial milestone than the Turing test. It is fitting that such an important landmark has been reached at the Royal Society in London, the home of British science and the scene of many great advances in human understanding over the centuries. This milestone will go down in history as one of the most exciting.”

The successful machine was created by Russian-born Vladimir Veselov, who lives in the United States, and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko, who lives in Russia.

Veselov said: “It’s a remarkable achievement for us and we hope it boosts interest in artificial intelligence and chatbots.”

Warwick said there had been previous claims that the test was passed in similar competitions around the world. “A true Turing test does not set the questions or topics prior to the conversations,” he said. “We are therefore proud to declare that Alan Turing’s test was passed for the first time.”

Warwick said having a computer with such artificial intelligence had “implications for society” and would serve as a “wake-up call to cybercrime”.

The event on Saturday was poignant as it took place on the 60th anniversary of the death of Turing, who laid the foundations of modern computing. During the second world war, his critical work at Britain’s codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park helped shorten the conflict and save many thousands of lives.

Instead of being hailed a hero, Turing was persecuted for his homosexuality. After his conviction in 1952 for gross indecency with a 19-year-old Manchester man, he was chemically castrated. Two years later, he died from cyanide poisoning in an apparent suicide, though there have been suggestions that his death was an accident.

Last December, after a long campaign, Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon.

In 2011, at the Techniche festival in Guwahati, India, an application called Cleverbot took part in a Turing-type test and was perceived to be human by 59.3% of its interlocutors (compared with a score of 63.3% human for the average human participant). However, because the programme draws on a database of real conversations, many disputed whether it was in fact exhibiting true “intelligence”.

Addiction, Not Me! Everyone!

Most of my friends are addicted to something. Most of my friends are capable, normal human beings except for the few who aren’t. Chew on that, or not.

I don’t like alcohol so it isn’t an issue in my life. But shit, most everybody else does and they drink it like addicts no matter what they think. The whole wine thing is lost on me, though occasionally I have a glass. If I have a second one I am silly for a while then wake up the next morning with a broken two by four in my head. Some of my friends think I am noble and disciplined because I don’t drink. I tell them if alcohol tasted like chocolate milk I would be doomed. Truthfully, people who drink find it annoying to have someone around who doesn’t. I don’t blame them.

I’m happy for people who are happy to drink. My Dad got to almost ninety-three with his good friend, Scotch on the Rocks there every step of the way (And cigarettes too, though he quit those after thirty years) He was happier than I am. My friends who drink seem happier than I am except for the ones who aren’t. Chew on that, or not.

I don’t smoke pot but I wish I did, because when I was a kid and smoked pot there was a lot of laughter and music sounded great. I can sing every note of the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. I especially like the bass lines in Suite Judy Blue Eyes, and the claps.

Crosbystillsandnash

“It’s getting to the point, where I’m no fun anymore…”

The first time I had an opiate was ten hours after I broke my back and finally got to the hospital, where I had tried to convince my stupid doctor’s office that I needed to be because I fell and broke my back (Rough sentence that one.) They kept saying it was probably nothing. That’s another story.  Eight hours later when things really blew up after the endorphins wore off, we called 9-11 and they hauled me to the hospital where the x-ray confirmed what I had said all along and the doctor said, “I’m going to give you a little shot of something for the pain,” then he shot a needle of Demerol in my ass and I finally understood why people get addicted to opiates.  gluteus

demerolNot only did the pain from my broken back go way, but every pain I’d ever had floated off. Not the best six hours of my life, those have all been without drugs, but shit, a holiday for sure. After the Demerol wore off I didn’t use the pain pills they gave me. Didn’t need them, didn’t want them.

One more story about “Not being an addict.” I had neck surgery in 2006 to fuse three of my cervical vertebrae. On the way out of the surgery they handed Nancy a prescription for Oxycontin. I was pretty out of it from the surgery but asked what that was for. They said for pain. I said, “Keep it, I’ll take aspirin.” They said, “No, you can’t have aspirin it will interfere with your healing.” So we filled the prescription for eighty, count ’em, eighty Oxycontin pills, and the big dose ones to boot.

oxycontin

Sure enough the pain was pretty bad and I took one or two a day for three days then stopped. I didn’t like the way they made my mind go soft, and having my mind go soft never feels good to me.  I have an active mind and am thankful for it except when I meditate to shut it off.

“Your mind is like a wild elephant…”

Three months after the surgery I got a headache from holy hell from the neck shit and took one of the pills for it. Forty minutes later I was even willing to forgive the devil himself, Rush Limbaugh, for his pill addiction, because while it wasn’t as good as the shot of Demerol, when Oxycontin isn’t working to kill serious pain it gives you a very nice feeling. After two hours I announced to Nancy that I might just have another headache tomorrow. She had no idea what I meant.

rush

This is what I meant. From the first second that the Oxycontin kicked in, I knew the only thing greater than the feeling it offered was the power of my rational mind.  Battle on!

A few days later I saw a Doc for a follow-up about the surgery and I mentioned my concerns about the addictive quality of the pills. This is what he said, “Those things aren’t addictive unless you take too many of them.” (How about that for reason?)  I’m not sure what planet he lived on because I knew they were addictive right away. When you’re thinking ahead to your next headache you kind of get the idea.

This is how I handled the situation. Over the next two years I used one pill about every two weeks for a petite vacance.  I described it as a trip to the Oracle because while under the influence I would enjoy the suspension of any barriers I might normally have about my feelings or thoughts. oracle1I loved it and doled them out until they were gone two years later.  Nancy asked me once when they were gone if I wanted more. “Sure, I want more, but if I got more that would make me an addict and I am not going to let any drug own my being.

This logic reminds me of one of the vignettes in the film Coffee and Cigarettes by Jim Jarmusch, when Tom Waits says to Iggy Pop, “It’s okay to have one (a cigarette) because I’ve quit.”  waits(Great film)

A few years ago I was seeing yet another new Doc. This one was a rare, at least for me, good one. There I am filling out the intake questionnaire and honestly checked the use of the Oxycontin years before.  Seeing the checked box, she asked how much I used and I told her the same story I’ve written here. She laughed and told me that there are people who’s weekly use was greater than what I did in two years and that I wasn’t even on the radar screen for drug use.

Full disclosure, I was also addicted to pasta about twenty years ago. That went away when I learned how to regulate my blood sugar.

Which leads me to coffee, coffee1my all time favorite drug. Lucky me, coffee is legal, tasty, socially acceptable, at times even thought of as health food. And, coffee is cheap, unless you have to drink the kind that runs through a civet cat in Bali, and man what it does to my mind! The only problem is I can’t drink it for more than a few days or my C10H12N2O levels (Serotonin) go bonkers and I get depressed. Dang!

My father the scientist once said, “Coffee seems contra-indicated for you.” How’s that for a dose of rational mind? I’ve gone years without it then start again for a few days then stop again. I get a lot done when I drink it although getting to sleep sixteen hours later (!) is a problem. Of late I have about one to two cups per week. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you probably know when.  Like now…

As for the grand scheme of addiction, I’m not sure I have much to say about it. There is a whole profession that deals with that.  addiction2I just know a lot of people like beer more than water and most people I know are addicted to something. I’d go so far to say that addiction IS the normal state human beings, but if the Oxycontin of your life is winning the tug of war;  get some help.

As for my future, I’m sticking with the Joe.  And likely with the publication of this piece, I can forever put aside any notions I’ve had of running for Congress.