Lava Lamps and Life: A Vague Philosophical Comparison Likely Worthy of Ridicule Yet Somehow Relevant

Just a short post tonight in which I shall wax philosophical about the wax in a Lava Lamp. Currently, my lava lamp (a genuine relic from the 1990’s, picked up by my in-laws and appreciated by all) is in the process of warming up. The gunk inside has formed a conglomeration of tiny glowing balls. They form a small mountain and as I watch, they break free from the cluster, one by one, to float to the top, undulating as they ascend, only to fall even faster than they rose. They crash silently back into the cluster and wait patiently to rise again.

Of course, their release represents birth. They rise from the cluster, a slimy and constantly thinning umbilicus connecting their posterior to the heart of the cluster, stretching until it snaps. The silent snap releases the ball to rise on its own, representing growth and advancement. The undulations of the rising ball inspired by the violence of their release represent the struggle to rise free. The rise, of course, represents aging. The rise is quick, the descent slow. This represents the speed at which youth disappears and the apparent slowing of time as we age due to the pain of corporeal deterioration. The reincorporation into the cluster represents the memories loved ones hold of us after we are “gone”. And the process starts again.

My wife wonders why I can stare silently at a Lava Lamp until she forces me to stop, demanding interaction.

Although none may completely understand it, at least now you know.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider the fact that your life is very similar to the reactions present in a Lava Lamp. Although your undulations may seem significant as you experience them, in the long run they are naught but simple tremors, insignificant to outside observers.

A don’t…think that I discount your problems. We have something a wax ball in a heated liquid medium lacks. It is called consciousness and it gives our undulations validation.

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2018-08-15 21:19-21:20 HOURS

Visible from back patio facing West, bright orb traveling at high speed from South to Northwest. No discernable strobe or other characteristics of conventional aircraft. ISS tracker shows space station traveling Northwest to Southeast approaching South America at time of sighting. Previous confirmed ISS sightings indicate that this object moved to quickly and in the wrong direction to have been ISS. Approximately 45 seconds into sighting, object brightened visibly on lower surface. Illumination was circular and appeared as if a spotlight had been suddenly directed Eastward. No beam visible during illumination. Duration of illumination: 1-2 seconds. Object maintained constant speed for duration of visibility. Light breeze, 80 degrees Fahrenheit, partly cloudy. No visible moon. Aircraft overpass directly following sighting. Aircraft travelled slowly Southwest to Northeast with discernable red and white strobes.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…watch the skies. Someday you might see some weird thing fly overhead that is probably not as strange as it appears from the ground.

A don’t…believe everything you see is not strange. If you don’t know exactly what it is, it can be as strange as you’d like it to be.

The Benefits of Bumism, or, An Alternate Lifestyle Explored

It is an exquisite fact that the social group most suited to surviving some sort of plague or apocalypse is that of the Practicing Bums. Practicing Bums are those who embrace bumism as a way of life. These are not the downtrodden who have, through some misfortune, come face to face with homelessness, abject poverty and destitution. Rather they are those individuals who form communities and live in tents in empty lots in the midst of skyscrapers or congregate in disused train tunnels beneath the feet of those who live lives of decadence in comparison. Practicing Bums choose this lifestyle and the skills needed to survive such are similar to those necessary to survive  mass catastrophes. Contact with those who may become exposed to a super-virus is limited. Antibodies and immunities are higher due to exposure to pollutants and microbes existing within dirt, unprocessed water and garbage. Acquiring food is a way of life and the dangers with which a Practicing Bum deals with on a daily basis provide essential survival skills. Living in the midst of apocalypse is second nature to the Practicing Bum.

It is another exquisite fact that Bum culture closely mirrors that of we who choose to lead lives as professionals and homeowners. There have been Bum presidents, Bum emperors, Bum kings. History bears witness to many Bum scoundrels, villains, vigilantes and heroes. In some communities, Bum gangs harass workaday Bums, bumming things no self respecting Bum would ever dare to bum.

Where we have due process, Bums enforce a special brand of Bum justice and are beholden to rules that would confound us with their subtle complexities.

Bum prophets and oracles, who stand on the street corners of large cities screaming things none but a Bum could understand, have foretold the rise of The Great Bum, who is destined to unite all of Bumdom under one flag. All but the most deranged remain skeptical.

Following is an account of one whom many Bums believed was this Great Bum.

The nation of Bumopolis (an optimistic name and a bit of a cliché, to be sure) was led by Supreme Bum Bob. Bob was elected to office because his promises to jumpstart a Bumopolis nuclear program struck a chord with many a Bum voter. Spies from Bum China (as the conglomeration of bums in China called themselves) had infiltrated Bumopolis many times, leaving anti-Bumopolis graffiti on the homes of many an innocent tent-owner. They spread among the people many pieces of propaganda indicating that Bum China already had a nuclear program and would soon unleash it upon the inferior Bumopolites. Bumopolis quickly became a nation quivering with fear. Until the election of Bob, there was much squabbling over what was to be done.

Bob, through many backroom deals and long nights dumpster diving behind small appliance stores, crack-houses and housing projects, had acquired quite a large pile of microwaves. He unveiled his stockpile on the occasion of his inauguration to the cheers of all present (which was everyone in Bumopolis). When asked by a member of the Bumopolis Press Corps what percentage of the microwaves worked, Bob answered honestly, “zero percent.” Before his statement of fact could be spun, Bob outlined his plan of attack. A member of Bumgeist, Bumopolis’s premiere elite fighting force, would board a canoe loaded with microwaves. He would then paddle to China, bumming fish, water and coins from any fishing or pleasure vessel he passed, and deposit the full contents of Bumopolis’s nuclear arsenal on the beach. The Bum Army would soon follow and, with their arsenal in place, launch an attack on Bum China the likes of which had never before been seen in all of Bum history.

Everything went as planned until the attack commenced. The Bum Army stormed Bum Chinese positions, pelting and bashing the enemy with broken microwaves. Supreme Bum Bob had sent no spies ahead, ordering the attack on the assumption that no Bum nuclear program could possibly be any more advanced than his own.

Supreme Bum Bob was wrong.

The ensuing carnage insured that no Bob would ever again be elected Supreme Bum.

The Bum Chinese not only had working microwaves, they also had power sources. The doors of Bum China’s microwaves had been removed and the fail-safes that prevent doorless operation defeated. As Bum China’s foot soldiers fought hand to hand with the invading army of Bumopolis, Bum Chinese elite fighters crept up behind their enemies, clapped microwaves over their heads like helmets and hit start buttons on timers preset to the baked potato setting. Bumopolis soldiers fell by the tens as their brains cooked inside their heads.

Victorious, the Bum Chinese threw the invaders into the ocean that the tides that brought the enemy might also sweep them away.

A single dead Bum in the tattered camo of Bumopolis with a microwave on his head washed up on the Bumopolis shore with assorted flotsam many months later. Realizing what had happened, the Bums of Bumopolis formed a successful coup against Supreme Bum Bob and the local prophet stripped him of his rights of bumming whether on street corners or Bum to Bum. Bob, obviously not The Great Bum and unable to survive on a non-bumming Bum’s salary, was forced to enter mainstream society. He got a job, bought a house, played the stock market and lived unhappily ever after.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy fiction for fiction. Don’t read into this. It means nothing. I was bored and then this happened.

A don’t…underestimate my respect for Bums. They are urban survivalists, doing what they must to live off the land. I’m a free as I can be with handouts and, when offered the opportunity, giving a hand up.

“Don’t Worry About What Other People Think” – People

I worry. I worry a lot. I worry that any statement I make will be found offensive and that those offended will seek me out and attempt to harm me. I have no doubt that I am sufficiently capable of self defense. I did the whole Army year in a combat zone thing and currently work in a capacity in which physical assault on my person  is a daily probability. I have been trained, I’d simply rather not deal with defending myself. I want to watch T.V. and listen to podcasts and paint the trim on the outside of my house a garish blue in relative peace. I want to reach in amongst the proliferation of weeds I haven’t gotten around to weeding to pick my tomatoes and, when I do this, I want the only red I see to be the skin of the tomatoes. I want to live in peace.

Throughout my life, my excessive worry has been addressed by many. People say, “Don’t worry about what other people think.” The problem is, the people who have said such things to me were, themselves, people. If I’m not to care what people think, does this also apply to the people who tell me not to care about the thoughts of other people? They never bother to specify. They never say, “Don’t worry about what people other than me think, and only worry about what I think when it applies to what I think about what you should think about what other people think.” So I’ve no idea what to think. What am I supposed to think when I don’t know what to think about the thoughts of people who think I should fail to think about the implications of what other people think?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t

Adieu…think about this.

A don’t…overthink it. If you do you’ll think that you’ve gone crazy.

The Sadiator

My wife and I spent a wonderful day at the Renaissance Faire. We ate smoked turkey legs and watched people throw tomatoes at an insulting pirate. We toured the torture chamber and the catacombs. We watched medieval dances, enjoyed acrobatic shows and trained bird of prey demonstrations. We were hailed as My Lord and My Lady as we passed through the various shops and stations. Most significant, in a petty way, to me was the purchase of a Gladiator-esque helmet. When I put it on I felt invincible. It was hot and smelled of metal and hurt my head but I enjoyed every minute. Then I had an epiphany.

Gladiators were poorly so-called. They had nothing to be glad about, unless, I suppose, they survived to fight another day.

We composed the photo attached as a tribute to those who saluted Caesar as they were about to die. Please consider the following a caption to the photo:

They call me a Gladiator. I am a slave who must fight to the death for the entertainment of a petty populace. Those who fight against me are all the more brutal because only my death guarantees their survival. I have nothing for which to be glad. I am, at best, a Sadiator. If I were to be brutally (pun-in-poor-taste intended) honest, I am a Clinically-Depressediator.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…travel back in time whenever you can. No diversion I have yet found is as effective at dispelling the stresses of modern life as living, even if for a moment, in the medieval past. I bought soap that smells of fresh-baked bread, for crying out loud. Can I get a “Huzzah!”?

A don’t…buy a steel helmet within the first hour of your sojourn to ages past. You will still be sore even as you sit, hours later, in your bed to type of your experience.

Worn Out Glasses and Being Stuck In One Spot: A Few Ideas With Little, If Any, Philosophy Behind Them

Would it not be strange if the lenses of your glasses could be worn out simply by looking through them? It would be. But it makes some sort of sense. Clothes wear out, but they are admittedly more roughly used than glasses. A science teacher once told me that glass is actually a liquid and that the panes of old windows will be thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top because the glass has run down like very slowly melting ice. I have never bothered to verify this claim, but it is interesting. Suppose that after many years of looking through the same lenses, they develop small holes where your pupil focuses most of the time with thinner glass surrounding these and then glass of fairly normal thickness around the periphery. An interesting idea indeed.

Pray let us consider the fact that everything that is a particular person can only occupy one infinitesimal space within the universe and that everything that is that person is confined in a meat-bag. It is so commonly true that it may not occur as weird to many people. But it is weird. There is an absolutely enormous universe out there and we are confined to one itty bitty space. All the travel a person may do in a lifetime, including space travel, equals a fraction of a fraction of the totality of all there is. The number is so laughably minute that it boggles the mind to consider it. It boggles mine, anyway. Why are we trapped in a meat-bag?

And why must we eat and defecate? If evolution is true, why would we not have evolved past the need to do these things. On the other hand, why did God place these burdens upon us? It is my understanding that he expects us to work and strive for sustenance, but why would this occur to him? I will freely admit that good food is one of life’s singular pleasures. I may oft be found dining upon the greasy gloriousness that is a cheeseburger or slowly ruminating over the flavor of a complex soup as I masticate the chunky bits. But the need to eat and eliminate still baffles me. What on earth is the point?

Lastly, let us extrapolate the profundities of everything. I garden. I garden hard and I garden often. I am known, to my wife’s chagrin, to stand in the midst of my vegetables, stock still and staring. It is fascinating to me, the process by which plants grow, mature and ripen. From a miniscule seed bursts forth abundant sustenance! How? I recently observed my tomato seedlings and wondered how this puny plant would be capable of ever producing a second set of leaves from its tiny stalk, much less a 1/2 lb. fruit in a couple of months. So many miniscule transactions take place in a single thing such as a tomato plant on a daily basis that if we lived in “The Matrix” it would require a computer bigger than the universe itself to keep track of it all. And these things happen on a massive scale every second of every day. Cells divide. Plants photosynthesize. Worms squirm. We digest our food at our own particular metabolic rates. Chicken eat bugs which, until they were eaten, ate poop and other such. It all happens whether we notice it or not! Mind blowing.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider these things which I have presented. It is sublimely insane.

A don’t…think me high or otherwise intoxicated. I think about these things completely sober and it makes me want to do drugs. I won’t. But I have to shove the thoughts out of my brain quite forcefully sometimes. I think the thoughts are my drugs. Also a don’t…think that I think these thoughts originate with me. Similar things have surely been said and written in the past. This is simply my take on them.

The Toynbee Idea: Mysterious Tiles and a Strange Realization Regarding the English Language

I think about strange things sometimes. No one who knows me is surprised about it anymore. During a weird idea acquisition binge I indulged in several years ago I became aware of the Max Headroom Intrusion, Toynbee tiles and other such social arcana.

The Toynbee tiles intrigued me the most and I think about them quite a lot. If you are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, I’ll explain briefly. Some unknown individual(s) have placed small tiles on roadways and sidewalks in the eastern part of the country. These tiles are handmade and most look somewhat like ransom notes with letters cut from magazines to evade identification by handwriting analysis. The main idea the tile maker(s) seem to be conveying is that the dead should or shall be resurrected on Mars. It is unclear to me if they (or he or she) want the dead already on Mars (Martians) to be resurrected or if the dead from Earth will be transported to Mars for resurrection. The reference something called the “Toynbee Idea” and the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

None of this makes any logical sense to me. Despite my confusion, the fact that someone finds the idea important enough to make and surreptitiously place these tiles (which it is believed are coated in some substance that gradually wears or melts away leaving the tile exposed only after the tile maker is long gone) is certainly intriguing. Couple this with the unknown identity of the tile maker(s) and it smacks of whacko conspiracy theory oddity, the study of which is a hobby of mine.

Anyway, this post is not about the tiles or the “Toynbee Idea”. It is about the way the English language works and how it seems that we somehow understand that writers of sentences and phrases do not mean exactly what they say in some instances. At least one tile calls upon others to make and lay tiles. The tile I reference states “You must make and lay tiles! YOU!”

Now, reading this we understand that sentence is designed to call the reader to action. However I am not “you” to me. I am I. Yet I still understand that the “you” the author refers to is me even though I never refer to myself this way. If I was unfamiliar with English idiosyncrasies, I would fail to understand that the request was directed at me because I am not “you”. If the author had written “I must make and lay tiles! I!” I may then understand if I was unfamiliar with the language. Knowing the language, however, I do not read in the first person so I understand the “you” refers to me even though I am not “you”; I am I. Understanding English, I am aware that the author would not refer to a stranger as I.  By crafting the sentence the way he, she, they or it have, they have caused me to understand that they are calling readers, rather than themselves, to action. The reader understands that the writer is writing from his/her/their/its own perspective. For some unknown reason, this fascinates me.

I leave you with a joke of my own crafting (as far as I know. If you’ve also thought of this joke or heard it elsewhere, understand that I am unaware of it and am not attempting to plagiarize.). What is the first thing two individuals who have just been released from prison experience upon getting married? Con-fusion. A ha ha ha. Confusion, con-fusion. Two cons now one. I apologize for that joke.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…look into the Toynbee Tiles if you are interested or literally have nothing else to do.

A don’t…make and lay tiles! Don’t! I’m sure it’s considered a form of vandalism.