A SHADE OF DIFFERENCE

What are your colors? by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Everyone has favorite colors. You can probably tell what someone likes by the colors in their home. People pick out the color for their rooms not just by the color, but the shade of color. Big home improvement stores will mix and match colors for you so you have just the right shade. They stock color palates and have little colored papers you can take with you while you stare at the walls and envision how it will look. Some will even give you a little sample so you can stare at a brush stroke you put on the wall and dream of a whole room in that color.

Blue is a nice color to me, but I would never paint the walls a dark blue, only pastels. As a matter of fact, there would be no deep dark colors in my home decorating, if you can call it that. Purples and dark greens certainly are too harsh anyway, but maybe they would appear on your walls. That’s fine for you. Who am I to judge you by your color selection?

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I like Hunter Green in the kitchen accessories, but not on the walls. Does that seem strange to you? For a number of years I found it the color of choice in Tupperware and kitchen utensils, but I would never paint with it. Never. Does that sound a little biased? If I found the sea green of your bathroom just a little too garish, would you hold it against me?

At a past place of employment I had a manager who wanted to paint his office a nice shade of lavender. If it was good enough for his bedroom, soothing and relaxing, then perhaps it would be good for his office. After all, the company said he could have any color he wanted. Unfortunately, there were those who did not like lavender, especially on office walls. He was derided for his choice of color. There were those that snickered behind his back. Some openly pointed out the folly of associating with such colors, and at work no less! The color of choice around the building seemed to be rather bland. You know the color, an off white that looks about the same no matter how long it is on the wall. This shade of lavender was…well, rather gay according to some people.  What does that say about a new manager? He was judged, but he was certainly straight (or as certain as I can be). Anyway, it was a nice shade.

This prejudice against color is not limited to the walls at home or the office. It goes well beyond the choice of furniture and the carpet on the floor. It is not just the accessories in your house or indeed anywhere in your life that gets judged. It has to do with all your color choices. Are my friends really judging me by the colors I choose?  If I chose white am I boring? If I choose black am I too gothic? If I choose lavender am I too gay? Perhaps this sounds just a bit ridiculous.

Yet, people choose their friends this way. They make instant judgments of the people they do not know by their shade of color. Ask just about anyone and they will have an opinion of these color choices. People can look across a crowded street and when they spot a person of another color, they formulate an instant opinion. Perhaps a person looks like a gangster, and you should avoid crossing the street. After all most people if that color are not to be trusted. Then there are those that are a certain shade of white that is different from my shade. Many people will quickly decide they are crooks, or they are greedy or they are shiftless. This is not just an issue between races, it is also an issue within a race. White people judge other white people and black people do the same. You do not think so? Ask around. Many have color palates for race that are far more discriminating than their choices of wall color.

When the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960’s appeared to tear down color barriers, and people of all shades of color were welcomed into every arena of business, society was pleased with the progress. While some laws seem to prohibit color choices, the fact is that color choices are as bad or worse than ever. The judgments are perpetuated by social media prejudices and Fake News reports that are meant to push people to the left, right, middle and anywhere else they can separate themselves from others. “Progressive” radio, “Patriot” radio, “Conservative” radio, “Liberal” radio all highlight the difference between us and “them.” If you don’t think “them” frequently means another color, listen more closely. If you think that many of these talk and Fake News shows hate the President of the United States because he is black, you may be on the right track.

The proliferation of these judgments by everyone from politicians and so-called newsmen to the average person on-line, based largely on color, means that the color scheme that is the world today is more divided than ever. We may no longer be segregated by law, but we are now segregated by personal choices. Many can not find it in their hearts to celebrate the different shades of life we all have to offer. They only want certain colors to be approved for the walls they put up in their own existence. Perhaps this sounds just a bit ridiculous, because it is.

So we’re different colours
And we’re different creeds
And different people have different needs.
It’s obvious you hate me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never even met you so what could I have done?

For 10 Song About Racism That Don’t Suck, check out all the videos on flavorwire.com  You won’t see some of the hip-hop songs of today that deal with race, but you may recognize some of the rock songs of other eras.  The 10th song on the list is the harsh vision of the old South by Billie Holiday performing Strange Fruit.

EVERYONE IS ANGRY

Rage is sweeping the nation. Fury is in the wind. The fire of anger is fueled by an Internet full of lies and innuendo intentionally created to raise the temperature of our national dialogue until no dialogue is possible. By television news that isn’t news. And by rumors and misinformation spread person-to-person as if it were true.

Why?

A lot of folks who should (could) know better are (apparently) willing to believe anything — everything — they read, hear, or see. Regardless of the source or how ridiculous it sounds, they believe it. How, you ask, can anyone believe such a load of total bullshit?

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I have heard a lot of explanations.

* Brainwashing. If you watch enough Fox News, you lose your grip on reality.

* Ignorance. People don’t know better.

* Stupidity. They are mentally deficient.

* Conspiracy. It’s something in the water.

I don’t believe it. Nothing accounts for the massive amount of mindless, parrot-like behavior except an enthusiastic willingness to participate. You’ve got to want to believe.

Fox News didn’t do it to them. Fox News is them. Fox and its ilk would not (could not) exist were it unprofitable. And it would not be profitable (and therefore would not exist) if its audience had not already been there when they came on the air. Millions of disaffected Americans were sitting in their recliners, waiting to have this crap fed to them. Delighted to have someone tell them exactly what they already believed.

It’s a willful act of thick-headedness. For whatever reason, the U.S.A. has a great many unhappy citizens. They expected the American dream, but didn’t get it. Maybe it isn’t a nightmare, but they sure didn’t get what they expected. Their lives aren’t even close to what they thought they’d be. The marriage is shitty. Job unsatisfying. Doctor doesn’t listen. The refinanced mortgage is unpaid and retirement looms. Who did this to me?

The guy or gal in the mirror could not possibly be responsible, but someone has to take the blame. So, they figure they’re being cheated. By the Democratic Party. Congress. President Obama. Welfare recipients. Illegal immigrants. Secret cabals of Muslim terrorists who are infiltrating our cities and towns. Liberal media. All media except fair and honest Fox. Whatever is wrong can’t be accidental. Can’t be the result of their own poor choices. It must be Those People.

Angry people with no joy in their lives marry their misery. They stop looking for solutions. All they want is fuel for their resentment. They could look for the truth, make an effort to repair their damaged lives. No, thanks. They don’t want things to get better. They want revenge on a world which has failed them. So, they spew vitriol, bigotry, hate, anger, rage, jealousy, envy.

Our world is full up with miserable people, convinced they’ve been betrayed. We are exploding with such people. Most appalling is they have become a power unto themselves. Maybe we should put something in the water?


Bone of Contention – I picked a contentious issue about which I care deeply.

2014: IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I don’t do resolutions and I don’t make promises about the future. If nothing else has been learned, I know I can’t predict how life will go, cannot make pledges based on uncertain destiny.

That being said, this is the time of year for summing up before moving on. When I read the columns about all celebrities who’ve died in the past 12 months, there are always a few surprises. Some I thought were already dead. I do a mental countdown. How many remain from the golden age of movies? Not many.

I pat myself on the back. I’m here!

Boston road signs

I take encouragement from surviving legends. Exhibit A: Vin Scully, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who will begin his 66th year calling Dodger baseball games in 2015. I’m old enough to remember Scully calling games his first year, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. One of the highlights of the past year was catching my favorite sportscaster doing Dodger games on the Baseball Network. He is a rarity now, a wordsmith amidst a contemporary gaggle of illiterate sports yakkers and screamers. Thanks, Vin, for making me smile during the long, depressing baseball season in Red Sox nation.

Does Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” apply to 2014? On first glance, I would think not. On second look maybe it does.

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The early part of the year should be titled “High Anxiety”.  Marilyn, who always had a heart murmur, discovered she had a much larger heart problem. Her ticker wasn’t ticking correctly. After several exams and consults, Marilyn was told she needed heart valve surgery. It was supposed to be simple, maybe a repair rather than a replacement.

It was very far from simple.

Five procedures later,  Marilyn had a new heart valve and a pacemaker — among other things. All of this was supposed to improve Marilyn’s quality of life. The jury is still out and probably depends on ones definition of “improved.”

I remind her — and she reminds me — and then herself — that at least she has a life, which is arguably an improvement over the likely alternative. The doctors keep changing the timetable on Marilyn’s recovery. Mostly they tell her she looks fine. I’m not sure Marilyn agrees.

My current home.

Fast forward a few months. As the Red Sox were slowly sinking into last place, we discovered we had a very big and far more real problem.

Water. The stuff of life. Agua. H20. Long story short, our well died! What to do? Marilyn checked how much it would cost to fix the well. She did some quick math. Then, she did some slower math. Then did the whole thing again.

We were dead in the water. Oops!

Lacking rich relatives to bail us out and being the people others usually came to for help, we looked in the mirror. Our reflections didn’t pony up any cash. Marilyn came up with an obvious, but painful, answer.

We would have to ask for help. It stuck in my craw. Humiliating. But there was no other option. We reached out, expecting nothing, hoping for a something. Dark days indeed.

Marilyn, as usual, took control , if you could call it control. She stayed on top of the contractors while fending off her own anxiety about the desperation of our situation. You can do without a lot of things, but not without water.

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And then … people responded. Friends we hadn’t heard from in years, people who we knew only as commentors on Serendipity. It was a shock … and for once, a pleasant and welcome shock.

Friends and strangers alike displayed an overwhelming generosity. We were able to have the contractors come and rebuild the well, a real life version of the finale of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” At the end of one of the longest crises in our history, we have water. Clean, cold, water. The siege is over and with a little luck, over forever.

I’m still stunned at the kindness and generosity of everyone who responded to our plight, a powerful reminder to be grateful during this holiday season … and every other season.

So, maybe Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year” does, after all, apply to 2014.

Excellent things can arrive in very peculiar packages.

HOW TO WRITE VERY POPULAR ARTICLES FOR YOUR BLOG

From WordPress, today’s Daily Prompt:  Hindsight — Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.


Oh come now. Really? I don’t even have my first post. I deleted it years ago. Does WordPress believe all its followers are baby bloggers who have written 10 posts and started blogging the day before yesterday?

Not exactly me. But, in the name of playing into the irrationality of the moment, I’m going to post my most popular ever post. I’ve rewritten it several times. It has gotten more than 11,500 hits in two versions and a couple of thousand more in other rewrites. Most of the views accumulated during the first 24 hours after I published it … more than half during the first hour or two.

Despite it being no great shakes as posts go, it went sort of viral. Go figure, right? This is a perfect example of why it’s so hard to figure out what kind of post is going to “sell.” How much research, writing craft, thought, and soul you can put into it a piece … and no one is interested. Research is irrelevant. What matters is that it catches popular fancy.

The only way you can almost guarantee popularity is to figure out what is the “latest thing” buzzing around the Internet, then write about it. Preferably with pictures. It doesn’t have to be well-written. It doesn’t have to be factual, accurate, fair, or in any way important. It absolutely doesn’t have to be original and will probably sell better if it isn’t.

If that is what you want as a blogger, good luck to you. The Internet welcomes you. Bring on your rumors, gossip, slanderous out-of-context quotes. Be sure to use, as sources, those who don’t know the difference between opinion and fact and don’t care.

Find some salacious photographs. Publish them. Don’t worry about copyright infringement because no one else seems worried about it. I won’t read you, but lots of other people will.

And now…


 THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH? – REDUX, REDUX, REDUX

On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

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It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut.

If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind. Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing could never happen. And the tooth fairy left you a buck under your pillow.

The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

Thank you to Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS for the link to the YouTube video.

The lyrics follow.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side
They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again

It took me fewer than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.


NOTES:

1) According to one of the show’s producers, the show is based on the Blitzen Trapper song. The group was compensated for its use. It isn’t plagiarism, merely bad writing.

2) If the writers don’t want us to assume the same rules apply in the TV show as apply in the real world, they should not pretend the show is about FBI agents who are part of the élite unit of an actual law enforcement agency. If you don’t want to play by the rules of the real world, create a fake world where you can have stuff fall up because gravity does not exist. You cannot have it both ways, at least not if you want anyone to believe you.

3) I wrote this post September 2012 as a quick comment on what I thought was poor script writing — and un-credited use of someone else’s material. If you wish to continue arguing anyway, please feel free to argue amongst yourselves. I’d appreciate being left out of it.

4) I’ve written a follow-up post to this about morals and Hollywood. You can find it here, if you’re curious. It’s called “Gazing Through to the Other Side: Hollywood and Moral Character.” It alone has gotten more than 1200 views and it’s a better piece that the original … but that’s just my opinion and as the author, clearly I don’t know anything.

THE END OF ANGER, THE REST OF LIFE

I was asked how come I’m not bitter at direction which our world, our country are taking. Before anyone says anything, left-wing liberal at your service. And proud of it.

I believe in human rights. Equal rights, equal pay, women’s rights, gay rights, minority rights, animal rights. A fair distribution of wealth. Kindness. Generosity. Honor. Honesty.

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In my opinion, recent elections proved most of our citizens — at least those few who vote — are clueless. They have no idea on which side their toast is buttered. No moral sense. No social responsibility. They have allegiance only to themselves. They are so ignorant they are, for all practical purposes illiterate.

So how come I’m not bitter?

I’m discouraged and cynical, but bitter would mean angry. I’ve got little energy and less strength. Who knows how much time? I not going to waste whatever I’ve got on anger.

I believe we are heading down a wickedly destructive road. We’re ruining education. Voting for the worst, most ignorant politicians. Destroying our physical world.

We’re environmentally so evil if any species has earned annihilation, humans have. I doubt our great-grandchildren will have much of a world to worry about, or any remaining freedoms to lose.

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It’s not my problem. I’ll be dead by then and past worrying. So yes, I’m cynical. But I’m also disengaged. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’m not marching any more.

I’ve fought the good fight my whole life. I lost. We all lost. The current generation has handed over the world to the very people we battled and turned our victories into defeats. If they have their way, they’ll undo everything we accomplished. It’s appalling, but I won’t spend what time is left me embroiled in one more futile fight.

Moreover, the torch has passed. Future generations will have to do their own fighting, if they care enough to bother. If they don’t care, it won’t matter to me because I’ll be gone.

It will be their world, not mine.

GUILTY AS CHARGED

Convicted in the Court of Public Innuendo, comment by Rich Paschall

It doesn’t take much for radio shock jocks and tabloid publications to go on the attack. If the story seems scandalous enough, or perhaps even just a little, the social media junkies have a field day as well. Re-postings of blogs of no particular merit start to appear. Links can be found on Tumblr, facebook, and Twitter as well as a whole host of new sites I have not had time to explore. Graphics show up on people’s news feeds, often with unrelated pictures with words scrawled across them. If the graphic is well made, it seems to add to the believability. The great ancient mythologies were believable to the people of those time periods. We are perhaps just as gullible.

When something of questionable authenticity appears I like to check it out on Snopes.com or other sites dedicated to debunking bad stories. A quick internet search is usually enough to check out the claims people make. Although it is often in vain, I like to add a link to the truth among the comments under some of these spurious stories. Sometimes it has zero effect as people continue commenting on the false posting itself. For some folks, proof is not enough.

There are even more insidious postings and rumor mongering going on in the area of innuendo. You imply bad things about someone and watch the story grow and take on a life of its own. There are enough false President Obama stories floating these past six years. Many imply that he has secret ties to Muslim terrorists or other anti-American groups. The whole “birther” charge regarding Obama’s citizenship keeps going around and that is followed by any number of conspiracy theories. These worthless speculations are damaging to the public welfare, especially when implied issues, although false, are nevertheless believed.

When my mother was no longer able to get out on her own, a friend would drop off multiple supermarket tabloids from time to time so they could see the latest celebrity “news.” Sometimes the talk and the tabloid headlines were so intriguing I would pick up the paper at my mother’s apartment only to find a story of little or no substance. A picture with a clever caption or suggestive headline would seem to point to a vicious scandal, and a league of tabloid grabbers would believe something they did not actually read.

Recently, an old charge of forced sex by comedian Bill Cosby resurfaced. The result has been an internet and social media firestorm. An ill-timed invitation by the Cosby Twitter account to “meme” a picture of Bill, that is to take the picture and add a graphic, ended up producing a whole host of uncomplimentary claims. Those graphics, of course, made the rounds. Cosby’s lawyer responded to all the new charges by saying, “We’ve reached a point of absurdity. The stories are getting more ridiculous.”

The man once known as “America’s Dad” for his portrayal of a wise father on The Cosby Show has now been convicted of a variety of sins by way of inflamed public opinion. It is likely to grow in intensity as long as Cosby remains in the public eye. At a recent appearance on his comedy tour, a Florida radio “shock jock” offered anyone a thousand dollars if they would go to the Cosby performance and call him out on these charges. One patron admitted she went just to see if someone would do it. No one did. A result of all the gossip and innuendo is irreparable damage to the Cosby image and career. Is one of America’s best known comics guilty of the things charged and implied? It is unlikely anyone can prove any of the years old charges, but he has already been convicted in the court of public opinion.

It was claimed that singer Megan Washington often appeared drunk on stage. While she sang well, she appeared to have trouble speaking. Reports of her performances might also include her struggle talking to the audience. Finally she decided to “come clean about it.” The issue was not that she was drunk all the time, it is that she has a speech impediment. She stutters. She explains it in a TED speech, “Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking.” It’s too bad some had already leapt to a different conclusion.

Many celebrities and politicians have been the victims of all sorts of inaccurate accusations. Some accept it and deal effectively with it by ignoring the comment. For others, the storm becomes so great they must respond. We see this in political commercials when attack ads link an opponent unfavorably with others. Here in Illinois the Republican attack ads put the current governor in pictures with the president to imply he believes what the president does. He also mentioned that the governor served in office with former Governor Blagojevich who is now in prison. You can guess the implication.

Of course, I could give many more examples of famous people who had been rumored to have done something bad through implication and innuendo. Many of these claims I could also point out were never verified. Nevertheless, they are out in the public domain and people believe them. Hence the popularity of supermarket tabloids and shows like TMZ. When the story is salacious enough, facts to the contrary don’t seem to matter much.

A SOLIPSISTIC STATE OF MIND

Never Too Late — Is there a person you should have thanked, but didn’t have the opportunity? Is there someone who helped you along the way without even realizing it? Here’s your chance to express your belated gratitude.


 Solipsism (Listeni/ˈsɒlɨpsɪzəm/; from Latin solus, meaning “alone”, and ipse, meaning “self”) is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.

I am in a solipsistic state of mind vis-à-vis WordPress. You are outside of me. I deny you. I deny you. I deny you. I just can’t do you anymore. The Daily Prompt is over for me.

Just a note about the actual prompt: Yes, you can be too late. People die. Move on physically, mentally, or emotionally. Your window of opportunity — the time to communicate — closes.

Writing a post on WordPress years later does not change a thing. Maybe it will make people think you’re special because you wrote about what you should have done but didn’t. Does posting a belated thank you on WordPress fix that? I don’t think so!

As for me, if I failed to thank someone, it was an oversight. I’m pretty good about thanking people. I go long on gratitude.

I’m reasonably sure I’ve done due diligence in the gratefulness department. Not everyone who I’ve thanked was touched. Not everyone likes being thanked. Some folks were not interested in what I had to say. But I said my piece, if I was permitted.

The-End

Speaking of too late: It’s too late for me and these prompts. The bloom is off the rose. I’ve been insulted and dissed by WordPress one time too many. I tried to ignore it, get past it, but I can’t. So …

I’ll have to write about other stuff. Oh, wait, I already write about other stuff.

To all of my friends with whom I shared the fun of writing our various approaches to the same prompts, don’t be a stranger. I’m not doing the Daily Prompt, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. And if any of you want to start creating prompts, I’ll be there with bells on, participating with enthusiasm and verve!

WHO’S TALKING?

Counting Voices — A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?


First, dear WordPress, I think you are not paying attention to what you are saying. You seem to be distracted lately, especially on the Daily Prompt. This particular mistake is … well … peculiar. Not peculiar “ha ha.” More like peculiar strange and in need of medication.

Dearest friends, an inner monologue is not a conversation because it is a monologue. “Mono” means “one”, so this is “thinking something over” and doesn’t require anyone but the thinker. It is not a conversation. On the other hand, if your conversations involve people that you alone can see or hear … if, perchance, you have many voices in your head and they are having a lively discussion with each other?

And most especially if they are telling you to do evil things involving weaponry of any kind? You have should seek immediate help. No, don’t pick up that gun, bat, scalpel, or knife. Go directly to your local mental health provider and request a comfortable room with a view.

Generally, my best conversations are held with other human beings present. Perhaps I’m missing some fine conversational point of etiquette, but I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

One good conversationalist is usually enough for me and in my humble opinion, are always the best. Regardless, for real conversation, the train stops at four. People, not voices. After that, no one will get to finish a thought. You may have a great party, but it won’t be a conversation … though you can have pretty good arguments with a lot of people and sometimes, you can work each other up and turn it into a riot. Still, not a conversation.

Optimum? Two. Next best? Three.

Me with me? Or me with a lot of mes? Take some sleepy-time drugs. Go to bed. If it persists? Call someone in the morning.