Saturday, March 20, 2010

Don't Confuse The Pigeons

So, I'm sitting in the park enjoying my $5 foot long with chips and drink. (I like how the cute little ESL chick at my local Subway spits out the meal offer as one word: "Chipzandrink?" I cannot resist. "Sure, chipzandrinkpleez!") So, I'm answering the question What Would Jared Do? when a pesky bird starts hopping around my table just waiting for me to feed it.

I'm sick of its bouncing around, so to get rid of it I make the mistake of tossing a chip away from the table thinking he'll go after it. The chip never even made it to the ground. The little bugger swooped, caught it in his beak, and was off. This is where the trouble began.

WARNING: If you are in a park DO NOT throw any object that is food, food-like or could be misconstrued as food by any animal with a brain smaller than a peanut!

I was immediately swarmed by all manners of fowl. Pigeons are popping up from behind trash cans, robins are flocking from the trees, the ducks and geese from the pond are flying my way. There were woodpeckers, finches, and crows. I think I even saw a fucking Fluffy-Backed Tit- Babbler! It looked like something staged by Hitchcock.

So, within seconds, I am sitting in a sea of feathers all strutting and cooing "Hey, you got any food? Wanna' give us some food? We saw you give that other bird some food. Why don't you give us some food, too? We like food. Hey, is that food? Why don't you give us some? Come on, be cool. Give us some food, man. Don't hold out on us. Give Us The Fucking Food!"

So, I slowly (for fear of being pecked to death or shat upon en masse) wrapped my food, got up, and made my way to my car where I finished my lunch behind rolled-up windows and locked doors.

All of this made me wonder: What about downtown pigeons? They hang out Monday through Friday and get fed by all the office employees on their lunch breaks. But what happens on the weekends? Pigeons don't know it's the weekend. They don't have clocks or calendars, at least not that I know of. If they do, I need to get into that market because there's tons of customers. Of course, pigeons probably don't make a lot of money which is why they live on the street. So, nix that business idea.

Back to the original conceit, though. Do pigeons get into a habit of around 11 A.M. everyday thinking "Food! Food! Free food! The people sitting by the reflecting pool here give us free food!" And sure enough, Monday through Friday, it's an all-you-can-eat buffet. Then Saturday comes along, 11 A.M. rolls around, and all the pigeons are like "WTF?!" It must confuse the hell out of them.

Where were you, you bastard? We're starving!Of course, they're probably pleasantly surprised to no end when Monday comes and the pigeon- feeders return. " Hey, look! It's those guys with the food! They're back!" Maybe this weekend you should go downtown and feed some pigeons. Yes, YOU, the one reading this post. I sure as hell ain't gonna' go feed the little rats with wings.

All this fowl confusion is because man had to cook up "the week." The 7-day week is the only idea of time above an hour that has no physical determination in nature. A day is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make a complete turn on its axis. Months are determined by the cycles of the moon. And a year is the (approximate) amount of time it takes for our planet to revolve around the sun.

So what would happen if we did away with the week? How would human development change? No more Mondays or Fridays or any other day except for to-day. Would we shift our way of thinking toward months just to keep some semblance of cyclical routine? Would single digit days receive the dread that was once particular to Mondays? Would we coin the phrase T.G.I.the 27th? Would the ides become the new hump day?

What do you think? Can we finally get rid of the week? I'm sure the pigeons would be much happier. Won't someone please think of the pigeons?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cheetahs Never Prosper

The race goes not to the swift . . .
I don't believe in cheating. Cheating is wrong. That having been said, I can only stand by that statement as true if I add a caveat. What is commonly known as cheating is not cheating.

Cheating is using an unfair advantage that is not available to most in order to put yourself ahead of the pack. That is wrong. However, using every opportunity available that is there for anyone who is willing to use it in order to win is not cheating. It is not only perfectly acceptable, but should be encouraged. The reason most people call that action cheating and seek to disallow it is because they're pissed off that they didn't think of it first.

If I sit at a black jack table and have the dealer send me signals as to when I should hit and when I should stay, that is cheating. If I sit at that same black jack table and memorize what cards have been played, use that knowledge to deduce what has yet to be played, and calculate the odds of what card will be played next in order to know when to hit and when to stay (commonly referred to as counting cards), that is playing smart.

And that is what I do, play smart. So, it would be fair to say that I don't believe in cheating. I believe in winning.

Let's look at the situation in this way. Who gets first chair? I'm talking about violinists here. Who gets first chair? I'll tell you who will and who won't.

The kid with the most talent never, ever gets first chair. First chair always goes to the kid who puts in the most diligent practice. Sure, the kid who eventually gets first chair just may be the most talented of all the contenders, but that is not why he got it.

The position goes to the kid who practices until his fingers bleed. And surely for his success he will be hated, especially by the more talented jack-off who expected to breeze into what he felt was his entitlement without earning it.

When you upend people's conventions by being better than they think you're supposed to be or better than they think they can be, be ready for their disdain. And be comforted by your success. Ecclesiastes 9:11-18 backs this up. The race goes not to the swift...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Good Thing About Innocence Is That You Only Have To Lose It Once

Here comes Peter Cottont-- OH, MY GOD!
I just had to get up and get rid of a Jehovah's Witness who was at the door. Then as soon as I closed the door and she went away I realized too late that would have been a perfect learning opportunity for the kids. I should have called them down to show them how to properly shoo a Jehovah's Witness. I remember teaching my little brother when we were kids, and I'm pretty sure he's been keeping his doorstep JW-free ever since.

I'm full of wonderful knowledge like that, and I should really share it with the youth out there. Y'know, Sherrodzilla loves the kids.

I want to write a book for kids. I want to write a book for kids that exposes all the lies that adults tell them. Because I think they deserve it. The target reader for the book, in my opinion, would be kids about nine years old. Because that's about the time that I began to really be aware of what was going on around me.

At nine years old, I pretty much had it pegged that most of the things that adults said that was directed at me were just a load of bunk. And I got pissed. I was mad that there seemed to be this vast conspiracy to pull the wool over my eyes.

Now, I realize that it's not so much an intentional, malicious form of keeping control over youngsters that adults engage in when they tell these lies — although that is a part of it. It's more so that these adults have no idea how to talk to kids.

For instance, at this church I attended they had this thing called the Children's Sermon. It was essentially a part of the service which was aimed at the kids in the congregation. It was kind of like, "Come on down to the front of the church, kids. Let's rap about Christ." And what it was was some adult up there trying to convey a Christian message to those under 18 (always a good thing), but doing it in this pandering, talking-down-to manner (not so good). And you could see, not that it was glaringly obvious unless you were paying attention, that these grownups were in front of these kids and they were terrified!

They weren't scared of the kids, but they were more afraid of how to communicate with these kids the "right way." You could see it in their demeanor and hear it in the slight stammer every now and then, they were frightened they might fuck up and tell the truth.

They honestly had no idea how to speak to these kids as human beings. And I think that's primarily for two big reasons: 1) They had forgotten what it was like to be children and 2) They came up being lied to and being fed this line of bullshit; then they came of age, realized it was bullshit, and decided "O.K. This must be the way it's done," kind of like most traditions.

"Son, this bullshit was given to my father's father by his father. Then my grandfather passed this bullshit on to my father. Then my father abandoned me and my mother and started another family in Phoenix, but not before he passed this bullshit on to me. So, now, I pass this bullshit on to you, and someday it will be your duty to pass this bullshit on to your children.

Take good care of this bullshit. It's been in our family for generations. It came over on the Mayflower . . . Of course, that last part could just have been some bullshit.

They just keep shoveling it down the hill through each successive generation, and I don't think that's fair. Fortunately, when I was a kid I had a family that told me the truth as much as they could, or, I should say, they did their best not to lie to me.

When I was about five or six, I called them on Santa Claus. The myth just didn't make sense to me. And rather than trying to convince me of the lie, they respected me enough to see that I was ready for the truth and they pretty much dropped the charade. And that's what I do for my kids. I try to be honest with them and encourage them to question whether or not someone is being on the up and up with them.

I find it detestable when any grownup refuses to acknowledge when a kid has outgrown a myth. It's one thing to spoonfeed them a load of crap from infancy when the kid doesn't know any better. However, when the kid gets old enough to spit it out, some adults insist on continuing to force-feed the kid all this nonsense.

That is a truly heinous crime against nature. Because the authority figure is trying to keep the child a child, and that just can't be done. I understand it's hard to cede control to someone who you feel isn't ready to wield that control over themselves, but you must. When the kid is ready to grow up, let him. Usher him into adulthood by being honest with him. Don't try to keep him a baby. Because then, instead of looking at you as the person who they can trust when everyone else is telling them lies, you'll be the person who betrayed their trust the worst. And they'll resent you and end up distrustful and paranoid and grow up to be me. And I'm the last thing you want to contend with.

I don't mean that I'm going to have an absolutely candid conversation with a kid the way I will with an adult. I'm not going to say, "Sex is fun. Drugs are fun. And sex on drugs is a whole lot of fun!" No, they'll find all that stuff out themselves. But I will refuse to try to hoodwink ‘em, not even for "their own good."

I just want to be a part of opening up the exchange between children and former children. That's all any of us are or, if fortunate enough to survive adolescence, will become. This book I'd like to write will ostensibly be for the kids, but I hope it also reaches some parents and grownups who regularly interact with kids. Communication is important.

So, in this book that I'm going to write the first sentence will be "There is no Easter Bunny." Then, I'll say that if they found this revelation too shocking they should just put the book down before it gets even scarier.

I'll go on to explain how the book is about the way adults talk to children and that some of the things adults say are the truth, some are outright lies, and some are half-truths because adults don't think kids can handle the real deal. I'll explain how the Easter bunny myth got started, and I'll end the introduction by stating that there is a Santa Claus.

Later in the book, I'll explain that there actually was a St. Nicholas, but he's not the guy that Coca-Cola fooled your parents into lying to you about. I think it'll upset a lot of people, but it'll most likely be the people who most need to be upset, namely the parents who lie to their kids. And they got it coming, and that's the truth.
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