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.

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Nerd Rant: Wolverine; Forget The Geneva Convention, Let’s Talk About The Health Code

To paraphrase Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. When you count you begin with 1, 2, 3; when some unknown individual violates the health code you begin with Wol-ver-ine.

If you are unfamiliar with Wolverine, the basic premise is that he has the ability to heal very quickly. This ability allowed him to survive a surgery that coated his skeleton with super-strong metal. My first point has nothing to do with the health code, but why on earth would you need a metal coated skeleton if your bones can immediately knit back together? Anyway, Wolverine has massive claws that somehow reside within his hands, if the movies are to be believed. These claws may or may not have been present before the skeleton augmentation surgery. They come out when he needs them, somehow, and are the source of his many health concerns.

Wolverine can be seen clawing through many substances you wouldn’t want in your body. Metal doors, asphalt, helicopters and their requisite fluids and fuels, and various beasts, creatures and common-folk. Wolverine cannot be seen scrubbing or even wiping down his claws before retracting them. This is concerning and there are a few options here. First is the idea that perhaps his skin makes such a tight seal around the claws that offending matter is wiped off as the claws retract. Ideally his skin would then heal closed before particulate could invade the skin leaving glops of gook or grit, depending upon what he has clawed, between the knuckles. If this is so, he is never shown wiping between his knuckles. The other option is that the stuff makes it into his system on the claws and if this is the case, it indicates that Wolverine has antiseptic blood. Unless they simply don’t bother to address it, Wolverine never suffers from infection after retracting his claws. He must have terrible hand-acne if this option is correct. If all that grit and particulate make it under his skin, his body must be constantly working to push bits of doors, poles and people back up through the surface of his flesh.

The most egregious violation that Wolverine commits is the disrespect he shows for the people and creatures he claws and the teammates fighting beside him. Even if he has antiseptic blood, it doesn’t mean that victims of his clawings know this. And let’s say it is a huge battle with many, many clawings. Does he pause between attacks to sanitize his claws so that he isn’t spreading potentially infected blood from victim to victim? And let’s also say that he is clawing to kill and isn’t concerned with infecting those he’s fighting. Does he just assume that everyone else has antiseptic blood? As he’s viciously slashing un-friendly folk, is he paying attention to the blood-borne pathogens he’s potentially flinging about in a manner that is much more intense than conventional war-time mayhem?

It has been said by some, and refuted by others, that Wolverine had bone claws before his skeleton surgery. Perhaps when he allegedly fought in the Civil War, this wasn’t an issue. Bone is porous to an extent. Perhaps the claws used to absorb the very blood they shed for neutralization by his internal organs. If this is the case my previous point is moot. He doesn’t realize the danger he is placing others in. HIV and tetanus may mean nothing to him, and he may not even realize he’s flinging these things about. Still, I’m sure those of us who actively avoid infections hope and pray that, one day soon, OSHA, EPA and maybe even PETA get together and educate Wolverine on modern health and safety concerns. Maybe even some sensitivity training is in order. He needs to consider that not everyone is a giant walking Germ-X factory and the true wolverines from which he derives his name may not wish to be besmirched by an inconsiderate maniac.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy the superheroes of your choice despite their downfalls. After all, they’re just as super-human as the next individual.

A don’t…follow in their footsteps. Unless you have money and are a Batman fan

 

Daylight Saving Time: Simple Plan to Help the Farmers or Plot to Decrease Population; A Ridiculous Conspiracy Theory That Holds a Bit of Water Despite The Lunacy of the Claim

I have heard, but not bothered to confirm, that Daylight Saving Time was instituted so that farmers would have more daylight hours to spend in their fields. That in itself seems ridiculous. Why should the government control something like that? And what, if farmers were actually the inspiration for the act, does it say about the government’s view of farmers? To me it says that Uncle Sam sees farmers as incapable of managing their time efficiently and in need of federal assistance.

This is ludicrous, but its implications pale in comparison to the ominous “secondary” effect of Daylight Saving Time I recently discovered.

My work is east of my home. I go to work at a reasonable hour; 8:00 a.m. This could be true of many people in our nation. I haven’t bothered to gather statistics, but I’d be willing to bet that a considerable percentage of people drive east at times approaching 8:00 a.m. Before the clocks were moved forward one hour, by government mandate mind you, my drive to work was fairly pleasant. At some moments, I could see a sliver of the sun rising over the horizon, and I found it beautiful. After the time change, however, this same route traversed an hour later is a direct route to the very center of a large celestial body so bright its light cancels out virtually everything in my field of vision. I found it disturbing, painful, irritating and deadly.

I drove 30 mph in a 50 mph zone for nearly a mile because driving directly toward the very sun overpowered other drivers’ brake lights. My eyes were squinted nearly shut because when I opened them everything around me was washed out by the sun’s impressively powerful glare. When the road finally curved a bit, I still couldn’t fully open my eyes because my lids and eyebrows were twitching from overuse, my eyes were watering and burned with intense afterimages.

The next day I wore sunglasses and found them only barely better than driving with my eyes denuded. At least I didn’t have to squint quite as hard.

I checked my facts to an extent. Some of my coworkers also experienced this blindness perpetrated upon us by our own government. Thankfully, we have recently had morning cloud cover and, so far, I haven’t been killed or killed anyone else due to governmental interference in my visual acuity as I drive to work.

In conclusion, it could only be a matter of time before the conspirators win and I rear end someone because they are rendered invisible by the act of driving directly into the sun. Even the aftereffects of a brief foray into the solar realm affect driving ability significantly. Even if that first mile doesn’t kill me, the following miles might as the afterimages continue to erase the traffic in front of me from my sight.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…wear sunglasses after you spring forward. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it helps.

A don’t…lose all faith in the government. Perhaps they were presented with false facts by groups concerned with global de-population. Perhaps the government takes the role of pawn rather than perpetrator in this instance.

 

Sweet Tea and Immortality: A Sort of Scientific Excuse to Satisfy an Illogical Addiction

I’m given to understand that oxidation is the process by which rust is formed. I also take it that this same process is what kills off cells in our bodies. I could be mistaken about one or both of these beliefs, but let’s assume that my science is sound.

Given that we’ve now conspired to assume with one another, let’s follow this theory to its conclusion. Should you decide at any point to break fellowship with our newly formed quasi-majestic 12-esque arrangement, feel free to step away. I’ll neither seek to brainwash or eliminate you should you divulge any details of what you’ve read.

In addition to what I’m given to understand regarding oxidation, I’m also given to understand that teas are rich in antioxidants, or, compounds that prevent oxidation. If this is true, (we again assume it is) tea could be the formula for immortality.

Its a very simple premise for what I hope is a groundbreaking discovery. By drinking gallons of tea I can, in addition to satisfying my caffeine addiction and gaining mass due to my proclivity to sweeten tea to a semi-syrup state, prevent my cells from dying, thereby preventing the aging process from occurring. If I don’t age, I live forever.

Of course, this can never be proven. If it is true, and assuming I never die due to an accident, I’ll never live long enough to know whether or not I’ll never die of natural causes. I could proclaim I’ve discovered the fountain of youth in my own kitchen cupboard and have a sudden heart attack the next day, disproving my claim. I could live a thousand years before dying of old age, convinced the whole time that death would never catch me.

And of course, the complete opposite of my theory could be true. Perhaps the body needs oxidation in order to keep the cells fresh. In other words, old cells need to die off, be disposed of, then replaced by new ones. Perhaps if I load my body with tea and prevent the old cells from dying off, my body will quickly become a mass of old cells which have long outlived their usefulness and yet remain, clogging my system and preventing the production of newer more vigorous cells.

The only way to find out is to drink gallons of tea. Which I will do.

The real reason I will do this is that I’ve found a tea that comes with little ceramic figurines inside each box and for some unknown reason I’m as addicted to them as I am to caffeine.

But I can’t very well go around saying I drink tea simply because I want more little ceramic things to put on a shelf so my kids can divide them amongst themselves when my experiment inevitably fails.

In conclusion, I drink a lot of tea in the name of science.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…drink tea if you enjoy it. Perhaps it has a health benefit, perhaps not. If you should drink it, do it purely for enjoyment.

A don’t…ever take medical advice from me. Even if I had a medical degree, I wouldn’t take my advice. My strange sense of humor would likely cause many deaths and an outrageously expensive malpractice insurance policy.

Consensually Kidnapped: A Fiction

I was in the garden when he came for me. I was admiring an heirloom tomato that had a particularly brick-red hue. I daydreamt of crushing it into a pizza sauce. So deeply entranced was I that I hadn’t even heard him approach the edges of my visual field. This isn’t really too surprising. Although I’ve been trained to remain aware of my surroundings, I was in my garden; my safe place. Combine my lack of attentiveness with the facts that I am easily hypnotized by plants and he rarely makes any noises other than faint steamy hisses and those nearly mechanical sounding whizzes and pops when he moves, and it is practically a miracle I noticed him standing in my periphery at all. But I did notice him and, miracle or dark magic, it changed my life in dark and miraculous ways.
“You have been making comments.” He said it in a voice devoid of intonation, in keeping with his way. At the time I didn’t know that I knew he was capable of more. “The comments you’ve made are intolerable.”
I stared at him, smiling, not quite comprehending his intrusion. My garden, physically, is no safer than any other unfortified patch of land. There is a small fence around it, ineffective even in its advertised objective of keeping out small rodents. Beyond that it is completely open to weather, wind, falling branches, a hail of bullets or even an intruder on foot. So it wasn’t his invasion of my garden that confused me. My garden is a safe place for my mind. I can dig and prune and plant and harvest and focus on those activities predominantly. The general everyday cares, which my mind magnifies so supremely that I have been known to vomit over a day-late credit card payment, are stifled when I am in my garden. They plunge to my subconscious where they splash down into last night’s bad dreams and fall prey to the true horrors that live there.
And there this man stood, introducing anxiety into my safe place. There was no reason I could see, other than a stranger in my yard making odd comments about comments I’d made, to be anxious. He was barely five feet two inches tall and while he wasn’t emaciated, he could in no way be construed as stout. I could’ve bowled him over if I’d wanted. Dispatched him swiftly and turned him into compost. Actually I’m not sure he’d compost well. I wasn’t even entirely sure he was biological in nature.
I stared at him, silently thinking these strange thoughts as he grew impatient. A version of impatient anyway. It seemed to fluster him that I hadn’t responded to his statements and so, with a pop at his shoulder and a hiss at his elbow, he smeared his mouth across his face and repeated himself. The same two sentences pronounced in the same toneless voice, maddeningly devoid of any inflection.
Shortly he added a third sentence. “You will come with me.” I couldn’t tell if it was a command or a question. As I’ve said, he doesn’t inflect. He turned and walked away. Surprisingly, I stepped over the knee-high fence and followed him. As we passed through the gate and into the front yard, he stopped suddenly and sighed. He mumbled something I didn’t catch and his neck leaned over so far that his ear nearly rested on his left shoulder. I waited, expecting his head to lift as soon as he’d stretched out whatever crick or Charlie-horse he’d experienced, but he simply sighed again and began to walk. He moved slowly and by the time he’d reached the car parked in front of my house, his knees had nearly given out on him several times and his head had bounced so sharply and so much that I was certain he must now be suffering a horrendous headache.
We climbed into the backseat, he first and I following. As we settled into our seats, he performed a series of shoulder shrugs that eventually straightened his neck. His head fell back against the headrest. He opened his mouth and a series of clicks and whizzes uttered forth. His throat did not move during this maneuver, but soon his eyes popped open and I saw his Adam’s Apple bob as he said, “You’ve been making comments.”
The air began to haze and the haze moved about as if the car were full of cigar smokers who’d just cracked the windows. He turned his head towards me and the image of his smeared mouth seared itself onto my eyes as the sun came up over the dashboard. I heard, and felt, a mild whump and was unaware of anything else until he shook me awake to harass me about my comments some more.

A Strange Scar and an Injury Lost to the Sands of Time: A Man Reminisces; Hopes He Was Kidnapped By Aliens

I have a scar on my right thumb. I have no idea where it came from.

I have plenty of other scars. I have two on my right hand from building floor trusses. Those clips they use to hold the trusses together can wreak havoc upon your hands if you aren’t careful and I nearly passed out as a result of both injuries but was able to drive on.

Drive on is a curious phrase. It doesn’t mean to me what it may mean to others. It has a connotation relative to operating a motorized vehicle. I instead see it as a means of encouragement during hard times. It was a favorite quote of my Drill Sergeants in basic training. “Drill Sergeant, I’m hungry.” And the Drill Sergeant said “Drive on, soldier.” So I did. I drove on. I completed basic training. I survived one tour of duty in a combat zone.

I have adapted “drive on” to apply to my non-military life. I have a set of dog tags that say “drive on” and I tap them against my chest any time I am facing a stressful situation. It is strange, perhaps, but it helps.

Those last two paragraphs aside, I cannot for the life of me figure out this scar on my thumb. I have asked my dad. He doesn’t remember any childhood injury I had that may have caused it. My truss building scars have nearly faded, but my thumb scar is as clear as ever.

The only solution I can conjure is that I have been abducted by aliens.

There are two options if this is the case.

Option 1: The aliens kidnapped me when I was a child. If this is so, it would explain my unreasonable anxiety about which I have recently posted. My fear of re-abduction is translated by my rational mind as a fear of everything else.

Option 2: I was recently kidnapped, implanted in the thumb, and given false memories of having wondered about the scar for years. This is implausible. They would have given me a memory of the injury that made the scar.

Conclusion: I was abducted by aliens when I was a child.

Most probably this is completely untrue. Despite the implausibility of this, I choose to believe it anyway. It is much more compelling than having slammed my thumb in a car door or something.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…let your imagination run wild. It is mildly ok to imagine unrealistic scenarios.

A don’t…give the men in black any pertinent information, should they ever visit you. They will only use it against you.

Federal Crime Machines; Why Isn’t There a Special Counsel Looking Into This?

It is my understanding that defacing American currency is a federal crime. This law makes sense for several reasons.

  1. Defacing could be used on counterfeit bills to mask blemishes and shoddy workmanship.
  2. National pride is affected by defaced bills and coins. What does it say about us if we voluntarily graffito tag our means of buying and selling? Monetary transactions are professional affairs. You wouldn’t turn in a memo at work that was all marked up in the margins, would you? This may seem like a little thing. Perhaps I’m being ridiculous. Still, if you visit a country and, at the currency exchange booth, do you not look more impressive handing over clean, crisp American dollars? And if, in exchange, you are given bills portraying leaders sporting anachronistic mustaches or devil horns, are you not then negatively biased against the local populace?

I know I said there were several reasons why the law against defacing currency makes sense. I suppose there are really only two. That I can think of anyway. Despite the number of reasons, however, a law is a law. If it isn’t going to be enforced, why have it on the books, so to speak?

“How do you know it isn’t being enforced?” One might ask, should said One have read this blog, encountered me out in public somewhere and somehow recognized me as the author. “Isn’t there an agency responsible for the destruction of worn and defaced bills? It seems to me it is enforced in some fashion.”

And my answer, should this unlikely scenario occur, would be “Good point.”

I would then quickly rebut thusly: “There exist within the confines of legally operating establishments throughout our country dens of iniquity that, while providing quite legal, fun and/or educational experiences, also blatantly promote the defacement and destruction of our currency by individuals unauthorized to do so. And for a profit, no less!”

To which your reply would likely be something like “Go jump in a lake, lunatic! What are you even talking about?”

I’m talking about those Kiosks of Chaos, those Federal Crime Machines, those coin mashing and defacing vending machines that stand in nearly every zoo and tourist attraction lobby that allow you to pay fifty cents to squish a penny into a souvenir.

These are certainly entertaining. They are interactive, usually allowing you to crank the penny to an elongated and otherly engraved state. They are educational, sometimes mushing some historical fact or figure into malleable bits of dollars.

Entertaining. Interactive. Educational…Illegal…

The argument could be made that these machines only deface the least of our currency. Who cares about pennies, anyway? Most of us drop them in the little bowls on store counters just to keep them from cluttering our pockets or purses. I’ve even known people to drop them carelessly onto the sidewalk rather than carry them around. All of this is perfectly fine and legal, but could it be representative of our attitude as Americans? If we have a law about currency, shouldn’t it apply to all currency, even the least valuable? It makes sense to answer “Yes” here. That answer being a positive one, can we now apply the same concept to laws that govern Americans? If there is a law for one American, shouldn’t it apply to all Americans, even the least significant? Of course. But if we, as a society, and the government, as a government, are willing to overlook the blatant defacing of pennies, are we not also likely to overlook the mistreatment of “less significant” citizens?

Perhaps this is all a bit of a stretch. I haven’t even decided for myself yet if I’m all that upset about this issue. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rant and rave.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider the fair treatment of every American be they “pennies” or “one hundred dollar bills”.

A don’t…deface pennies. I think it’s illegal.