Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Valentine Memory

When you're a little kid, everyone in your class gets a valentine because you give one to everyone in your class. It's like a rule. Or it was a rule. Like a participation trophy, exactly a participation trophy now that I think about it. 

The first year our parent's didn't make us bulk valentine that it was third grade. I remember it was third grade very well, and at this point although I forget a number of other things about elementary school I sill remember that classroom. We sat in alphabetical order by last name. It had one of those old green chalkboards and the seats were the old style sturdy ones, with dark brown wood seats and attached desks, with a gray steel frame that looked like they should have been part in a tank. The big old style window where the panes flipped outward. I want to say the floor was white. 

In any case on that Valentine's day there was period, right after lunch, where we could all walk around and pass out our Valentines. At that age it was still the giggly we're not even sure what we're doing kind of kind of thing. Looking back I'm not sure I can call those feelings love in any real sense. A budding bundle of emotions waiting to be carved by capricious circumstance? We were wading into the ocean of relationships careful not to go past our knees, most of us with no idea we could drown.

And so I handed out my small tokens of young love - a funny card or five, that part is a bit of a blur with all the time passed. I know that I didn't hand out one to everyone in class, but it was more than five. Most of the other kids did the same, cards for good friends, a card for their crush, one or two proto brown-nosers giving one to the teacher. We fluttered back and forth for a few minutes and then it was over.

At this point in my life decades later I've gone out on a date or two. Less than I'd hoped really. When Sporty and I were in that groove we seemed to always hang out on Valentine's Day for some reason. Strange I know. Because I like the idea of romance over the years I've taken the time to hone my talents and knowledge of the subject. I overthink things. I've advised guys on what to say, what gifts not to buy and how far in advance to make those pesky dinner reservations. I've been asked by women to critique what they've planned. Let's be clear here though, I'm not a love guru or anything like that, but I have developed a eclectic but refined taste that people who know me tend to recognize.

We live right now in the age of the Savage, where relationship invitations are all declarations of  narcissistic expectation, where personal interaction has become minimal to point of our own personal development's detriment, and our lives appear to be continuous highlights paraded to the masses on social media to quench our sad thirst for attention. What hath we wrought? And I'm a long way from that young man who wore his heart on his sleeve because he didn't know any better. But I'm not a Savage. I'm a little too empathetic for that. Not that I haven't occasionally been an ass in a personal relationship, but I like to think those are few and far between. I'm an actual nice guy, but too many people use the term "nice guy" the wrong way, to the good and the bad.

As you may have guessed by now, the little kid me didn't get any valentines.

It's funny what we carry with us from our childhood.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Git along little doggie...

Ramblings Post #343
First, you make a plan. Then, well, then after that it's a free-for-all. There are many ways to get things done and sometimes the way you planned, or even the way you expected doesn't come to fruition. You have to improvise. Make things up. Take a shot down field and see what the hell happens. Oh the things you learn when you get older...

It's been a minute down here at the Ranch and during the interim, dear Shotgun Annie saddled up and rode off. Well, not as much saddled up and rode off all voluntary like, it was much more that they posted up an hombre by the gates and when she left one night aforementioned hombre implied it would probably be better if she just a kept on a riding the way she was a riding when she woke up the next day. One of them new-fangled "this isn't a good fit situation" explanations.

She told us she blindsided by the whole thing when she rode by the next day to get the few belongings she'd left behind. Come to found out later that she'd been warned two or three times before they decided to part company with her. She apparently chose to interpret their warnings incorrectly. We actually had a after-hours office event a few days after she got asked mosey on and the new trail boss actually apologized to us for letting her go.

She didn't really have to. We're all professionals people. We all know wrong when we see it. And Shotgun Annie was a piece of work.

I talked to some other hands on some other ranches  I know since and when she rides onto wherever she's going to, she's back to her old ways: constant complaints about needing more work while taking every opportunity to slide out early from the jobs she does get. If I didn't know exactly how precarious her situation really is it would be funny. As it is I"m scared I'm going to run into her in a few years after she's made one misstep to many. That does not promise to be a pretty sight.

On the job...

Which leaves me with the apparently allergic to socks cowpoke, one Pecos Slim. So much to unpack here.

He has a complete lack of interest in anything other than sports. When I say a complete lack of interests, he asked me THE DAY BEFORE the Alabama election if I'd heard anything about Roy Moore. He said he'd just read about the election being close and was curious about what the big deal was. Pecos Slim is from Alabama. He also has no idea what net neutrality is or why it would affect him. He wears headphones all day in the office, and he admitted to me that he loves listening to prank phone calls and needs them to get through the day. He's the first person I've met with bonafide catchphrases. He also irritatingly, comes to work sick - sniffling, coughing and wheezing through a few workdays at least once a month despite the trail boss's insistence that we don't do that.

But I'm not saying anything. Live it and let live I say. But...

...there is a question I'm dying to ask him, but I know that I'll ask it in too snarky a tone not to start an argument. AND that he's hilariously thin skinned isn't going to help. What I want to know is: How does one get to be a grown ass man and not know how to chew with their mouth closed? The sound of him smacking his lips while he chews is loud and slightly nauseating. It's a sound resembling one that might be heard in a horror movie after a disemboweling, only constant. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that he eats all day long - breakfast at his "hitch up", a constant snacking (hearing him eat walnuts is like listening a someone's back being cracked) and then lunch at his desk (he works out during his actual lunch) followed by more snacking. Apples, popcorn, chips, chocolate, etc. Hearing him chew gum is unsettingly like the sound of an old man attempting to suck a lemon continuously for five minutes. The ranch hand on the other side of me, who is at least six feet away to eight feet from Pecos, tells me he too can hear the man chewing at his desk, so it's not just me being overly sensitive. He can't even drink quietly, loudly slurping his hot drinks and theatrically throwing his head all the way back to finish off bottled water. Several times a day.

Fantasized remedies barnyard pest include staring at him every time he chews until he realizes, recording him and playing it back when he's not chewing and other things that involves cacti, anvils and an account at ACME Products. He is wearing headphones though, so I might need to be a more definite indication of my displeasure. It is said the familiarity breeds contempt, but I don't know if contempt is even the proper term here.

And then he stopped talking to me. About a week ago now.

Apparently I sound frustrated when I answer his questions about our process and he did not like that.  Now he agreed that I've answered every question he ever asked, every time in the past 7 months we've been at the new spot, but now he just doesn't like my tone. One of the hands who sits near us said he'd never heard me frustrated when answering questions, so I'm kind of at a loss. But meanwhile, Slim has stopped talking to me entirely.

I hope he thinks it's punishment and that I deserve a good long bit of this silent treatment. Serve me right. *Snicker*

No barkeep, I am not laughing. I have a jaw spasm. Now give me a cold one.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shut it down, Shut it all down! No, just kidding.

This is a political post. 
Let's see. The Airline was shutdown. The Vodka, the University, and the Steak line all shutdown. Didn't he have a cologne in there at one point that no longer exists? I don't really remember. Even the signature Casinos shutdown, and that's basically a place where people go and throw money at you. So, looking at the track record, logically a government shutdown was pretty much inveitable. Seriously, who didn't see this coming. Art of the Deal my ass. Even on easy mode wanna-be Banana Repup-likkan Furher Cheeto still can't figure out how to make it work. 

By the way, the outgoing White House phone message during the weekend was the very definition of petty. 

This very brief shutdown was both funny and troubling, and not just because it means half the country believes in a party that even when in total control of the country somehow can't keep the car out of the ditch. The actually personally troubling part is, because it affects me, is that the ranch where I currently hang my hat depends heavily on the ole' gubmint because we clear a lot of stuff through them. Gubmint type stuff only the gubmint can do. Plus like other reasons. The funny part is the fix is only to move the deadline back two weeks. Man that ditch is deep.    

I heard at one point the argument was either CHIP or Immigration. Wait, Health Insurance vs the DREAMERS? For those who don't know CHIP is the Children's Health Insurance Program, a national healthcare program for poor children which weirdly has been unfunded for four months now. A CHIP deal could have been brought up for a "clean" vote that would have passed with the kind of bi-partisan support that has become so rare these days. It should have been a bridge to a better understanding of putting the country and it's people before party.  Instead, the powers that be - i.e., the party in charge of the Senate - basically decided to keep it unfunded and use it as a political tool to make the other side look bad. See, they don't want to save the children, they're terrible, we're the good guys! Pay no attention to the last four months. Now, they're trying to turn it into an issue of the needs of children versus the needs, well, the other children. But one set is like, American children.  

This guy...
But now, it seems that ole' Chuck Schumer (D) has gotten CHIP off the table, with a 6 year extension to the program just to get the government restarted. Which is actually pretty slick. He also got some rather shady assurances that the Immigration matter would make it to the table fairly soon. And in the process set up Cheeto for the okey-doke, but I'll explain that later.  

Another by the way, has anyone see the rest of the Democratic Party? I mean, not just the Senators and Congressmen, but the party leaders who were supposed to be turning things around after what happened last election? I realize the Republicans have been stumbling on their own for the most part, but a nice political shove to get them flat on their faces wouldn't be the worst thing. But I digress. 

Now, let me explain what I think (and hope) is about to happen: Because the funding scheme that the deal they worked out is so short, what this means is that when, er, I mean if, ole' Timmy Turtle (R) tries bounce Immigration off the agenda like he did the ACA promise he made last year, Schumer has the leverage to come right back to this same spot in little over two weeks. Meanwhile, between now and then Cheeto gets to make his first State of the Union. Who wants to put money down he makes himself look like the conquering hero? Nobody? Damn. Anyway, after his certain boasting about how he stared down the Democrats at this moment of uncertainty, exactly how would it look if the government shuts down again.... a week later? 
Cheeto has backed McConnell, er, Turtle, into a corner by spurning the earlier agreement. Timmy puts immigration on the docket, he looks weak. He doesn't, he embarrasses the Cheeto. The government shuts down, Schumer is the guy who stood ALL the way up to Cheeto, which gives the Democratic party hope. The Republicans invoke the "nuclear option," they're pretty much handing the keys to the castle to the Democrats if the expected Blue Tsunami hits this fall in light of the recent tax bill.  
A number of people, including Pelosi, were upset about this "capitulation" feeling they'd given up the upper hand here instead of going for the jugular now. But Schumer isn't playing poker, he's playing chess. And right now he's got a longer play in mind. If he can actually pull it off is the question.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King

We're through the looking glass. People who represent everything the grand legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stands against have today made vain attempts to twist his words to show that their own ideas are good or noble. They debate that Dr. King would have been on their side in their mad quest to turn the US back to the 1800s. And you wonder how they can even fix their mouths to speak such blasphemy.

I don't profess to know all the words preached by Dr. King, but I do know that while he preached for peace and moved in terms of non-violence, he understood that his actions were but part of a greater scheme, one that did include a more militant side. Good protest has always done that - give options to the both the oppressed and the oppressor. Because people are not one-dimensional creatures. And because one hopes the oppressor sees the two possible ways of going forward and chooses to try to work through the peaceful means.

On this day we give thanks for his words and his actions. I only wish that we didn't have more on his path to travel, and that we'd already reached the promised land. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

What I learned 2017

When I was younger, the first few days of January was spent trying to make sure I started the new year off right. This would mean taking pains to make sure the first iteration of everything was positive, from my first meal, the first time I drove, my first brunch, the first TV show I watched, the first store I went into, etc. These little steps, I assured myself, would get the year kicked off on an upward trend upon which I could build. But as I've grown older, I've found that life doesn't work quite like that. In reality they were more like that that annual resolution to go the gym...until at least mid February this time, for sure.

What I've learned it is that good things can happen at any time, not just at some magic moment. Although it doesn't look like it now, a few years ago I started on a program that got me back to within ten pounds of my high school weight. I started it on an odd weekend in July, because that's when I started it. But it worked because I was committed to it. I dutifully ate what I was supposed to eat, did what I was supposed to do and applied myself. I didn't work because I started off the year with healthy meal and wore that shirt that made me look like a movie star (I have one, seriously.)

So in 2018, what my plans are for Commitment to the Idea. The idea itself doesn't really matter, be it start a business, go to Paris, run a marathon, whatever, as long as I'm taking the steps to seriously pursue it, not just dreaming about it and doing things when there is an odd moment. It means doing the research, planning and getting your shit together. This does not necessarily mean it becomes an all consuming drive which reduces all else to nothing, that's not healthy. When I committed to losing that weight it became something I'm always mindful of, like a constant background noise, that guided my conscious choices. Not that I didn't occasionally falter. But a misstep doesn't mean you stop. It means you learn from it and keep going.

It's about getting your mind right. Not because of a deadline. Not because of outside forces. But because you had a choice and you chose to do that thing that would help you get you where you wanted to go. It means making that active choice to do something that might be boring or even unpleasant now so that you can reap the rewards later. And doing it over and over again. It's a value judgement, the choice to commit to getting something done long term even when you perceive what you think of as your short detriment. In my case, it was I can lose the weight, provided I don't eat that hotdog. And I wanted that hotdog. One or two times I even had that hotdog. But the next morning I got back on the path to where I wanted to go. 

So, this year: Get your mind right. Pick a goal. Make a plan to get to that goal. Start. Stick to it until you get to that goal. 
Ask yourself if the argument AND the aftermath is worth it. A lot of folks forget that second part.  

Sometimes they just don't like you. And you don't get to know why. So you suck it up and move on. 

People aren't always as grown as they think they are. 

True love never really dies. It might get put to the side for a while, but when you dust it off it still shines as bright as if brand new. 

Intelligence matters. 

Concentrate on your own shit and let karma deal with the rest. 

More people are interested in change in their favor that equality.

Sometimes your best just isn't good enough. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Five Minutes watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I don't watch a lot of movies. I don't really have time. And I go to the movies even less. Something about Sporty, but that's a whole other issue. So the rarity of which I go, means on average I've spent about five minutes watching every movie made. It's an existential thing, don't concentrate on it.

I don't usually do the most contemporary of movie reviews. I like to watch something three or four times before I try to wrap my whole brain around what the director was trying to say. This however is just shy of garbage so I don't really think any more money needs to be spent. I remember trying to talk some guy on twitter out of a tree over what he thought Cinema Sins was gonna have to say about this movie. I swore to him it was all in jest. To him I say: Dude, I was wrong. Cinema Sins is gonna have a field day. I mean shooting fish in a barrel. My god, the jokes write themselves.

[Spoilers from here on out. And some foul language too]

You ever get the impression you could write a better script than someone who got paid thousands of dollars to so? Post Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Marvel Cinematic Universe why the blue fuck are you shooting "cultural touch-point" film series without an overarching script already in place? Why are there so many holes in the plot? Why wasn't the whole nine hours of new trilogy shot at the same time? That last is particularly troubling. I mean, this is Star Wars, how do you not shoot the whole trilogy as a single movie then split it? And why are these fools proud that they don't know where the story is going? Jesus. And what they finally produce feels too much like an official bootleg  - as The Force Awakens was a reheated New Hope, now the Last Jedi comes off like a knock off Empire Strikes Back. I've already seen this movie. When I was twelve.   

But I digress.

So much, so much wasted.
Let's start at the beginning. First question: How many deck guns are on a Dreadnought? And how big are they? But let's not get into that now, so let's just say Poe is the man and BB8 is the droid and a single X-wing could take them all out. Snicker. You would think there would put extra protection on the vulnerable areas after the Death Star debacle and all that. But anyway.. um, why are the bombers so slow? Why are there even bombers? I realized watching it the idea was to invoke the idea of World War II bombing runs for tension, but in space the bombers should have been as fast as the X-wings. And it's space kids, not the German hinterlands. Why would the bombs fall into the minor gravity well caused by any of these ships? Ugh. This is just basic right here. After this they just kind of lost me. But I'd already paid for the ticket...

Completely on a different track, why 30 years after Vader and Palpatine go down is it the Rebels vs the First Order? Didn't the rebels win in Return of the Jedi? The crawl in The Force Awakens said the "resistance" had the backing of the Republic. And in film time, a few hours have passed since the first movie. I mean Rey was still holding out that light saber for god's sake. Maybe a few days. Now they're the last 400 people. WTF? I'm thinking wouldn't the series have been better served by making it the Republic vs some Radical order who wants to return to the old ways of the Empire? No so much the heroes are the underdog story, again, but the opposition as a kind of space terrorist organization. Here the bad guys have got Super Star Destroyers and the people with the backing of the Republic are using third hand space junk. 

Back to the film. Why was the Rebels ship not fully fueled? You're planning an escape and after the first jump they're already talking about fuel issues. Or was it? A ship that size should have been able to jump several times I would have thought. I mean they jumped to the middle of nowhere, a second jump had to be possible. And once they realized they could be tracked through hyperdrive, why didn't they scatter? That's like a basic escape the police tactic and yet this crew hung together long enough to get picked off until down to one ship.  I realize again this was an attempt to build some tension much like the reboot of Battlestar Galatica, but that was a series not a movie, they had time to explore build character. Not even gonna ask why this fleet is so small or why since the First Order just blew up some planets in the last movie their allies are on the Outer Rim and not closer.   

Now, I must have gone to the bathroom for this part, but how did Finn and Rose get off the ship? In a hyperspace capable ship? That apparently no one saw launch? I mean the bridge crew and all of them. Think on that for a minute.

I'm not even questioning how Leia made it back to the ship. The Force is the Force. It just is. Deal with it.

And now to Holdo, in her emergency battle gown. Far be it from me to mock her just because she's a woman, my problem is she is terrible at command but everyone wants to overlook it. Yeah, I'm serious. Let's go over it. She only has the job because the Resistance's entire leadership is wiped out by the bridge strike. She has a little reputation because Poe's kind of impressed and he decides to try to help. So, in their desperate situation does she even attempt to get buy-in from her subordinate? Nope, she belittles him. Because that's what people in charge should do.

But Poe was a hotheaded pilot who'd just got demoted, she didn't owe him anything her defenders exclaim. Only they're mistaken. Poe was a hotheaded HERO who'd just recently blown up the First Order's super Death Star who'd been just demoted by a even bigger HERO, General Organa for a mistake. He wasn't a nobody, he was a key part of the resistance who'd found the missing map to Luke Skywalker and who still held sway with the pilots even after the misguided dreadnought attack. He asked what the plan was and the Vice Admiral believing she had Leia's clout just went at him like it was personal. That should have been a pull his ass into a closet and tell him the plan to get him on to her side moment. She knew he was a hothead and just sneeringly said fuck you I'm in charge. That's just bad personnel management. Had she handled it properly it would have meant there would be no mutiny attempt and Leia's actual plan would have worked. Instead, the vice admiral's stubbornness and lack of ability to read the situation or her personnel are what caused the mutiny, the plan to get out and the deaths of many on the smaller ships. But yeah, she was a great. Ha.   

All that however does not diminish her kicking in the hyperdrive through another ship though. That was pretty cool.

The ending had too many issues for me as well, at once harking back to a New Hope with its out of nowhere Millennium Falcon appearance. And I'm confused, what exactly were the tiny little salt skimmers supposed to do against a cannon the size of a football field? How long was it supposed to be before help came? Hours? Days? Other than Luke's supreme fakeout the ending was just shy of pure grade-A bullshit. It setup nothing, it created no cliffhanger, it just kind of ended... huh?

While I think Abrams is an ass who doesn't understand how to make a hero movie, I'm not sure what to make of Rian Johnson, who apparently doesn't know how to make a hero movie either. Guys, let me explain it to you slow: We don't go to the movies to watch the heroes die, we go to see how they'll win. I may be in the minority, but a hero dying doesn't add weight or add character to the story. The noble sacrifice is just as much a cliche as the bulletproof good guy. It's a popcorn movie, not Shakespeare, make it a damned popcorn movie already. This was a lame attempt to give literary heft to cardboard characters. Hey, Hollywood, we like cardboard characters for popcorn movies!   

Let's hope the Lando movie is more like this.