Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Until I started using Facebook, I honestly never much worried about the zombie apocalypse. naiveté? Maybe.

I was only funning when I originally posted this. I didn’t realize that the zombies are already here and are trying to take over by pretending to be politicians and legitimate candidates for the Presidency, Senate, and other high offices. Well, should they actually succeed in their attempted coup, we are all in trouble because zombies … well, you know what Those People are like.

Indeed, I had focused on other things … the Republican Party taking over both houses of Congress … lack of health care … pollution of our environment … destroying rain forests … extinction of species … whether or not I was going to survive cancer …  and if I’d be able to afford to have a roof over my head. That was before I realized that I really was worrying about the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. It isn’t just “coming.” It’s here. I hadn’t gotten the right message.

Knowing we are in danger, when I learned that this property is available, I knew I held the key to survival in my virtual hand. I relaxed, my mind suddenly at peace. Because I really care about all of you my friends and acquaintances, let’s get together and build a safe haven.

The Big Attack is coming. That is what December 21st is about! Zombies running the world. Oy vay.

For those of you with the foresight to recognize a bargain when you see one, this is it. I’ve included a picture to whet your appetite and a link so you can check it out in greater detail.

I feel so much better now that I’ve shared and solved the biggest problem facing the world today.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-perfect-house-for-surviving-a-zombie-apocalyps

TGIF

Oh yeah!

catnipoflife

Echoes from the Past. . .

Remember When

Rock ‘n’ Roll, American Bandstand, the Beetles—
Teenage idols, legends in their own time
Sound and vibrations shook the world
Music made both young and old unwind

James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, J.F.K.—
Icons that ultimately shaped a nation
Lives ended in tragedy
Memories live on in admiration

Jonathan Winters, Bob Hope, Red Skelton—
Stand up comedy in side-splitting form
I Love Lucy resonated clowning around
Hearts remained rosy and warm

Life seemed so much simpler then
Bop Shu Bop Shu Bop, newly waxed gym floors, sock hops
Change was left in your pocket
Enough for drive-in movies, popcorn and soda pops

Remember when life was uncomplicated
Friends hung around to help with life’s collisions
The price of gasoline was under a dollar
Mom and Pop made all the decisions

 

View original post

I don’t care what you say. I’m damned proud to be…

 I have to preface this with a story. It has absolutely nothing to do with the intent of this post, but it’s true and I wish I’d had the wit to record it. In this post, I have included two hymns I love: Simple Gifts and Amazing Grace. I was just about to call it a night and toddle off to bed  (it’s after 2AM), but decided to play Amazing Grace one more time. I couldn’t resist the chance to sing along. The moment I began to sing, all four of my dogs began to sing with me. Trust me, there is nothing quite like a chorus consisting of Judy Collins and her chorus, me, and four dogs: one dachshund, a large shaggy Australian Shepherd, a Scottie, and one puzzled Norwich Terrier who is just discovering her voice — I believe this is the first time she has joined the choir. In addition to being deafening, it was absolutely hilarious, a perfect commentary from my very own furry peanut gallery. If I was feeling excessively proud of my literary efforts, the dogs put me firmly in my place!

Pride is not a virtue. It also makes you stupid.

If you are proud to be a Christian, proud to be an American, proud of being righteous, you are a contradiction in terms and a sinner to boot. So there.

I’m not sure I believe in sin, but I do believe in right and wrong, good and evil. Is pride sinful? If you believe in sin, yes it is. But even if you don’t, pride confers a sense of privilege and superiority that is never justified.

Thrown out of Heaven for the sin of pride. Oops. That first step was a long one.

Pride evaporates free will. Proud people are poor listeners and make bad decisions for the wrong reasons.

Pride makes you think you are in control of your world when you’re not. I’ve said it before: We are passengers on the bus, not the driver. We control nothing but our pride makes us believe we are in control … so long as the bus is traveling where we want to go. When it veers off in another direction, we are devastated.

Being on the bus that is life gives us a choice: we can enjoy the ride and the company of other passengers, or shout imprecations at the driver for failing to take us where we planned to go. Trust me. It won’t help. Your world will be better if you sit back and relax. It may not be the trip you planned, but it’s the only one you’ve got.

How can something that feels so good be wrong? Damn, but pride feels great.

It brings down kings and emperors. It has caused the collapse of corporations, nations, and empires. It caused Lucifer to be ejected from Heaven. Pride got human beings kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Rather more recently, it brought down Roger Clemens and Richard Nixon. All they had to do was own up to their bad behavior, but they were too proud and down they went.

Pride keeps nations in wars they can’t win for decades, destroying entire cultures and costing tens of thousands of lives. Pride blinds you to the truth about yourself, your country, your leaders.

Pride of country, pride of family, pride in ones importance, talents and abilities: In what ways do these improve the world or your life? The prouder you are, the harder you’ll fight to keep that pride intact, defying logic and reason. Pride makes you misjudge situations and people, distorts your ability to distinguish right from wrong, and muffles the voice of your conscience. It makes you greedy, arrogant, easy to manipulate, and self-destructive. It has the same effect on nations.

Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas called Pride “inordinate self-love (that) is the cause of every sin (1,77) … the root of pride is found to consist in man not being … subject to God and His rule.”

Are you still standing proud?

Pride is defined as an excessive belief  in one’s own abilities and by extension, in the righteousness of ones causes, the rightness of ones country, the value of ones self or work, the importance of ones family. It interferes with our ability to recognize the grace of God. When Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the Earth,” he meant what he said. He didn’t make any exceptions for patriots, rich folk, or Republicans.

Pride is insidious, the sin from which all others arise. Unlike other sins which are obviously wicked or downright icky, pride feels so right, so good, so true. If you are proudly defending your country, you are already in trouble. By definition.

One afternoon when I was living in Jerusalem, a friend of mine and I climbed up on the parapets of the ruins of a Crusader castle on the southern edge of the city. It offered a fabulous view of the old Roman road that winds up the mountain past Hadassah Hospital.

I said to my friend: “They built these castles and they are just piles of stone. Where are the Romans, the Crusaders now?”

“Oh,” she said, “You know where they are. They are exactly where we will be in a few centuries. Dead and forgotten.”

I rest my case.

Morning in summer …

Just after sunrise, the sun low in the sky.

Morning. Although I want to sleep late, I almost never do. On summer mornings, I drink my coffee and watch the early sun filter through my woods. Each day, the world is made anew.

The sun has risen higher in the sky. It’s about 7:30 in the morning.

Cat Stevens’ rendition of this traditional Christian hymn is beautiful, as is the presentation. I ask that you please leave your prejudices behind. It is a beautiful song of praise.

it is the bonus you get if you arise early. Late sleepers, make an occasional exception and see the world in a different light.

And now, coffee finished, the sun is high in the sky and the day has begun.

Proud to be …

Proud to be an American.

Proud to be from Texas. Proud to live in the greatest city on earth (fill in the name of city). Proud to be white. Proud to be a man, but proud to be a woman. Proud to be Irish, Black, Hispanic, Polish, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Christian, Hindu, Muslim  … any religious affiliation, ethnicity, or nationality will serve. Why? What makes you proud to be something that was an accident of birth? Are you proud to be alive? Human? Proud you aren’t dead of disease, starvation, natural disaster, or war?

I am not proud to be an American. I certainly am glad to be an American, happy that I am free to live in a beautiful place and have a home in this valley. I love the United States. I think it’s fundamentally a great nation which, if we stopped screwing around, would be an even greater one. But proud?

I’m proud of things I’ve written, some things I’ve done, and ashamed of others. I’m proud of what I’ve earned. I’m not proud of the gifts I was given at birth, but I am deeply grateful that I was lucky enough to receive them.

I am proud of my country’s achievements, but ashamed and embarrassed by other things we’ve done. I believe our Constitution is one of the finest legal documents ever written anywhere at any time. That we so often fail to live up to it saddens me, but at least we had founders who weren’t airheads or mass murderers, a burden other nations bear.

Pride implies you actively participated or contributed to whatever makes you proud. I don’t think being born qualifies. If you exist, you were born (not counting Jesus and other less popular deities). Birth gets you get a ticket to stand at the starting line and a chance to run. To breathe air. After that, it’s up to you. What you do by the time your life concludes may or may not confer any right to be proud.

So I’m glad to be an American. I’m happy I was born here and not in Sarajevo or Beijing. But I didn’t have anything to do with it. It wasn’t a choice I made. Nothing was required of me. My mother’s pregnancy occurred here and not somewhere else. If she had been Mexican or Turkish? Then, by current jingoistic ethnocentric guidelines, I’d surely be proud to be Turkish or  Mexican.

Borders are lines on a map. There are no substantive differences except those imposed by tradition and politicians who live on one side or the other of an invisible, artificial, politically driven boundary. If you live on the border of another country, you are no doubt aware the only reason you are who you are is luck. For that matter, your social status, your class, religion, ethnicity, level of wealth of poverty … all dumb luck. You aren’t special because you were born to a family that is rich, white, Christian, Republican or anything else. You are not defined by who your parents were, nor by their traditions, religion, politics, or social status. The life you live will define you. The choices you make, the work you do, the way you treat the rest of God’s creatures along your path … these determine your character.

The only thing that you could legitimately take pride in is the good you do and if you are either Jewish or Christian, even that is wrong and lessens the value of the righteous acts you perform. Charity performed anonymously is of far greater value than anything for which you get recognition or rewards.

Being righteous isn’t special. It’s what you are supposed to do. That’s why you have a conscience and free will. Whatever you got or didn’t get when you were born determines where you stand as the race begins, but you define who you are at the finish.

What you do in this world may perhaps be something to take pride in.  Where and what you were at your birth are not.

Does that make me unpatriotic? I don’t think so, but others will disagree. I think patriotism and love of country needs to be tempered by intelligence and the realization that nations, like people, don’t always do the right thing. When nations are better than they need to be … or worse than they should be … you are free to judge them as you would a person who does well or badly. Judge your homeland on its merits, not because an accident of birth dropped you there.

I know this isn’t a popular point of view or one that everyone will understand, but if you get it, spread it around. Nations don’t deserve a free pass for bad behavior. You don’t get a free pass for bad behavior, do you? Unless you are super rich, in which case you get to do whatever you want and count on your lawyers to take care of the fallout.

Most of us are not super rich or even sort of rich. A lot of us are glad if we break even at the end of the month. We have to deal with the consequences of our behavior. Being “a product of your times or environment” is not an excuse for ignorance, bigotry, hatred, or cruelty. It has never been okay to mistreat fellow creatures because they aren’t like you or because you grew up in a world that despises them. You aren’t special by reason of birth.  You just think you are.

Ask God. Ask yourself. Look in a mirror. What have you done to deserve the air you breathe?

Charge!

My world runs on batteries. Mostly rechargeable batteries. Three laptops, two Kindles, two cellphones, three cameras, four mouses (mice have fur and make squeaky noises, mouses attach to your computer using USB transmission), two wireless keyboards, GPS, various clocks, flashlights, who-knows-how-many remote controls, electric razors, tooth cleaning machines, and a mind-numbing array of miscellaneous devices I can’t remember off-hand.

To keep the world running, I have to charge things that recharge and keep a stack of AAA and AA rechargeable batteries ready to go.

I have never lived in a house that had enough electrical outlets for things like lamps and televisions, but with all these chargers to accommodate, I own dozens of power strips. Everywhere you look, and in many places you would never think to look, in every room, power strips keep the chargers charging and other electrical devices functioning. The strips range from high-end hubs with surge protection to whatever was on sale at Walmart when I needed another strip. Every one of them is full. Or, more accurately, as full as the size and shape the chargers allow.

Power strips are designed by people who don’t use them. I have come to this conclusion based on the stupid design that presumes you will never have anything larger than a lamp plug that needs a socket. Not even a vacuum cleaner cord fits properly, much less a laptop power supply.

No room is left on either side that would make it possible to fit more than two or three chargers in a strip theoretically designed for half a dozen plugs. There’s no allowance for odd-shaped power supplies that will use half a strip.

I don’t understand why chargers have to be so inconveniently shaped, or why they can never make a 3-pronged plug that will fit into an outlet without a fight. Why do most chargers require that you insert them at the end of the strip. No one ever seems to consider that there are only two “ends” and only one without a cord in the way. There’s some kind of Murphy’s Law that say if you are going to need two wall outlets, both devices will need to be on top or on the bottom.

I have 2 electrical sockets in the bathroom and 2 devices that require electricity. Only one can fit. The other socket is always unusable. The one charger blocks both outlets. Always.

The first day we moved into this house, two events occurred that have since defined our lives in the Blackstone Valley. The toilets backed up and the power went out. The toilets backed up because the crooks who sold us this house backed their moving van over the pipe that runs from the house to the septic system and crushed it. The power went out for the usual reason: heavy rain, high wind, and lightning. Getting to know my neighbors meant figuring out how to find an electrician and plumber before I’d unpacked.

I don’t notice how dependent we are on batteries until I’m packing for a vacation. Half a carry-on is allocated to chargers … just for things we use while we travel: laptops, accessories, a pair of Kindles, his and her cell phones, mouses, portable speakers and more. I used to pack this stuff carefully. Now I just shove the chargers and wires in a bag and untangle as needed.

If you think our civilization will endure, remember: We are entirely dependent on devices that run on batteries, most of which need to be recharged from an electrical outlet. Without electricity and batteries, life as we know it would end in about two weeks. A month maximum. After that?

Our world will be a jungle in which every man, woman, and child will fight to the death for a working AA battery.

Postscript:

I’m reading comments on this blog and suddenly I remember that Garry’s Kindle is still waiting to be charged and is probably flat by now. And that the “land line” phone is still charging and I need to take it out of the cradle, and that my cell phone is still charging and shouldn’t be. So many batteries, so few outlets.

Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding …

Harry Morgan as the judge, Spencer Tracy as Dr...

Cover of "Inherit the Wind"
Cover of Inherit the Wind

Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding … and we are feeding it well.

From “Inherit the Wind” 1960, Directed by Stanley Kramer, based on actual transcripts of the 1925 Scopes’ “Monkey Trial” in Tennessee, where the teaching of evolution had been banned. As far as I can tell, we are going back there again.

Is this where we want to go with our country? Is this what we fought and died for? God help us.