Put Down Your Phone and Don’t Panic.

Can I Fear You Now?

Dawn cracks early today.

I must awake to start another 16 hour period of

survival in the phone zone.

These aren’t easy times and I can not afford to panic.

The mindless hordes have grown unabated. Their

doltish brood is increasing at an exponential rate. They

seem to  be controlled by a more determined power

these days. Their catatonic screen stares bely an

underlying machination. They seem to be in pursuit of

a goal that is beyond my understanding.

     When I use the term understanding I don’t mean in a rocket science, orbital mechanics kind of way. I understand the gist of that.

I mean it in a “ I do not understand your servitude to

your phone” kind of way.  I dare not approach them in

an attempt to understand their reasoning. That would

be interrupting one unintelligible act with another.
These hordes go by many names, Phonezies,

Smartzies, PokePods. Smartzie seems to be a misnomer.

There are many adjectives one could use to characterize

these hordes, smart is not one that I would choose.

I am going  with PokePod. It has a nice ring to it

and is marketable. You can use it but I get a cut of the

action.

The journey to and fro is wrought with extra dangers

these days. The PokePods are ignoring risks and taking

their phone reverence on the road. If they were only

risking themselves that would be one thing but they are

jeopardizing thousands of innocents.

Yes, I include myself in those thousands. I am innocent. Ok, I was once.

The PokePods need to pull their head out of their

apps and pay attention to the road. They need to stop

panicking about the poke dudes and dudettes* they

can’t find and start panicking about their potential

contribution to traffic fatalities. If their activities

continue unabated, I fear for the sake of mankind.

I must conclude this entry soon. Night is coming and I

need to conserve my energy for what may be a long

night. The PokePods have ceased their activity for now

but the nights are long and their activities are

unpredictable. The pitch black of night presents no

barriers for these plugged in legions of chaos and I

must be prepared for the unknown. Author signing off.
* A hipster term for a female dude. No it’s not in the dictionary. It wouldn’t be a hipster term then.

Clouds

The clouds lifted and for a brief moment the words

came out to play. They cajoled, they told corny jokes,

they did a soft shoe. They worked for a few grins , a

smile and the holy grail guffaw. They felt joy for the

first time in many moons. The sky was blue and for a

brief moment they could see a clear horizon.  The joy

they felt was interrupted.  In the middle of their act, the

thunder cracked and the clouds rolled in to remind

them they do not manage the stage. Reluctantly, they

left the apron and slipped away to patiently

wait for the next break.

Punishment (Growing up Catholic)

I was raised Catholic in a Polish Neighborhood in Chicago. I also went to a parochial school of the Catholic variety. What occurred at the school was most of the major trauma that would shape the rest of my life. It was there that I developed a very personal definition of punishment.

I fell in love with reading from the minute I was exposed to the perils of Dick and Jane. That series soon lost its luster due to the thin plot lines and it was not long before I graduated to reading more sophisticated material. It was then I was introduced to the Great Books Club, a national program designed to foster reading excellence. The assigned reading material for the club was purposely beyond the grade level of its participants.

I achieved club membership in my first year of eligibility as a second grader and also the next year as a third grader. I was looking forward to making it my fourth year.

Sister Leonard Ann* had been teaching fourth grade at my school since forever. She had actually taught my father and his brothers. I am not sure I ever heard a good story about her.

     She was hateful from year one and by that I actually mean the first year after Christ died. She was that old. I think Jesus sensed she was on her way and feeling the futility of the future turned himself in.

I entered the fourth grade looking forward to the fifth grade. I just had to survive Sister Leonard Ann. It soon became apparent that for that to happen I had to have luck on my side. It also became apparent that I was not lucky.

I had heard about the sister’s teaching technique from my father and uncles. That did not prepare me for the actual experience. Nothing can really prepare you for the book throwing, knuckle smacking and ear pulling she employed outside of daily exposure to a 3 Stooges marathon in 3D. The one thing I had not heard about her was her degree in punishment of the psychological variety.

I soon became convinced she must have been used to interrogate prisoners during the wars. Yes, wars plural. I meant all wars.

It was after the first month of school that the Great Books Club members for the year would be announced. I expected this year to be no different. “.. Walter Praczek, Susan Shirzinski and Alan Vostek. Well congratulations children.”

My face matched the writing paper on my brand new big chief notebook, pale and blank. I had no idea why my name was not called and I was losing a battle to prevent tears from flowing. Glancing around the room the Sister’s shark like gaze fell upon me.

“So tell me Mr. Szybinski* . Why did you not make the club this year?”

“I, uh, I don’t know.”  Then the damn broke and I could see nothing through the refraction of the tears. A few moments but what seemed like hours later the Sister announced that I had indeed made the Club. I first felt relief but that quickly morphed into anger.

Why had the bitch humiliated me? Well, I would have thought, “bitch”, if I used the word.

The vocabulary of a nine-year-old Catholic schoolboy in 1970 Chicago generally did not consist of the word bitch.

The only word I had at my disposal was wench. A strange word for a nine year old boy but I read a lot. Maybe it was Nathaniel Hawthorne. The author did not matter; the point was she was a wench.

The nun I now refer to as The Bitch Who Shall Not Be Named had tried to take away the main element in my life that brought me joy. It was her cruel idea of punishing me for what I can only image to be the crime of existence.

The experience now is pretty much just a story to tell, although from time to time I find when something good happens I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess this experience is not done with me or I it. I am currently writing a story of fiction inspired by my time with the bitch who shall not be named.

*The names have been changed to protect the innocent (me).

This post was in response to the Daily Prompt. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/punishment/, and my need to vent.

The Modern Procrastinator

Bells, whistles and default system sounds emanate from various devices around my person.

They remind me of personal tasks that I must accomplish or my world will reach chaotic mass and implode, or not.

In my situation, not is the norm. I am the most technically savvy and organized procrastinator on the planet.

There is not a device that I own that is not set up to remind me of something that must be accomplished with the future of my world at stake. As a single man, procrastination about cleaning the bathroom ranks just as risky as SPECTRE’s latest plot.

My phone contains location based reminders of items that must be accomplished around my home. Upon entrance to my garage, it shouts out with attention grabbing noises and reminds me of the items that I promised my self I will get done at home. Time based reminders are so passé.

I’ve got location reminders setup for when I reach home and when I leave home. Yes, I have them coming and going. I have reminders set for particular things I absolutely have to buy at a particular store. The problem is that I’m not much of a shopper. I rarely frequent a store unless I have a pressing need. New underwear falls into that rare category. Procrastinator and underwear do not appear in relative proximity in my lexicon.

One of the few shops I frequent with any regularity is my local coffee shop. I really do not need a reminder to buy coffee while I am there. It’s on the same level of the grocery store , I am hungry therefore I shop. Just now I was interrupted by my microwave reminding me I just warmed up a cup of coffee. I ran to it like it was a long lost love. Actually it kind of was.

When all is said and done, it usually has been my devices having a lot of say and I getting nothing done, except of course if coffee or underwear is involved. After work and a round trip two hour commute, most leftover energy is being sapped by the sinus headache I have 70% of the time. I have a very small window with which to accomplish outside chores. If my world is not going to implode as a direct result of not doing the task it probably will not get done within the first 5 appearances of said reminder.

Doing laundry usually involves underwear so that task gets taken care of upon first appearance of it’s scheduled reminder. Currently I look at my device reminders as a record of shame reminding me of all the things I have not accomplished. I am currently scheduling surgery on said sinuses hoping to shrink the size of my archive of failure. This event currently falls within the same priority as clean underwear so I know the status of that task will soon be done.

Work for me is a different story, I am a work-a-holic and procrastinator is not part of the job description. I do not need a reminder that dings and pops up text mentioning something like “work your self to death.”

I seem to have an internal scheduling device that I am not very savvy about. I can’t seem to turn that one off.

Fences

Stimulated by todays DailyPrompt at WordPress.   No humor here. Laughter does not exist in a vacuum…

images – white picket, steel barbed, concrete.

What’s on the other side?”

“Don’t know.”

“Kind of ugly isn’t it”

“Yeah. Wasn’t always this way.”

“Really. What was it like.”

“Wooden, white, actually kinda pretty as fences go.”

“Really.”

“Yea, the kind that reminds you of Tom Sawyer.”

“Sounds nice. What happened?”

“What always happens.”

“Whats that?”

“More things needed to be kept out.”

“Did it work?”

“Don’t know. Can’t tell the difference between either side now”.

Meme Throw Down

The Rules of The Meme Throw Down

When in the course of Facebook events, it becomes necessary for one friend to dissolve the friendship of another friend through the powers of the internet, one must reevaluate the separate and equal station to which the natural laws of meme-dom* apply and that they require a decent respect to the opinions of internet friends.

We hold the rules of the Meme Throw Down to be self evident but in the name of friendship these rules are worth revisiting.

The system of which by one declares a winner in an arena where memes are pitted against each other is one which is primarily ruled by the emoji-score. **

Emoji-Score Calculation:

Thumb – The thumb , in most polite cultures , means that someone unequivocally agrees with you. Award one point for each thumb to your meme. If however you live in an impolite culture you are probably way too stressed to even get on FB and when you calm down you should spend more time on improving your society or getting out of prison.

Heart – The heart is straight forward and leaves no room for ambiguity. Someone loved your meme. Award two points for each heart to your meme.

Laugh – Laughter is highly valued in real life. It is the same in FB Land.
Your meme brought laughter into someone’s life. Award yourself 3
points

Wow – The wow emoticon is ambiguous. It could mean “Wow, That was Amazing.” But was it amazingly beautiful, disgusting or did it really mean “I’m amazed your haven’t been picked up by the authorities . Award no points to your meme for each Wow.

Sad Tear – In general the sad tear is also fairly obvious (see mitigating factors for exceptions). It means your meme caused unhappiness. It is the opposite of the laugh and is rarely a positive thing unless the intent of your meme is to bring attention to saving a living thing.

If you had no intent of saving a living thing deduct three points.

If your intent was to save a living thing than award your meme three points.

Angry Face. – The bottom line here is that you ticked someone off. If you think that you could tick someone off, don’t do it. This is the internet , this does not have to be in real time. You can engage your brain before you commit something. Yes, surprisingly enough I engaged my brain while I wrote this and edits were involved. These people are your friends. You don’t purposely try to anger your friends do you? If the answer is yes please deduct four points for every angry face, stop reading this post and seek the nearest counselor. As with all emotions there are grey areas. Refer to the mitigating factor section for more details.

Mitigating Factors.
– How people will react to your meme can be unpredictable and does not follow a normal distribution. Yes, sometimes, I am captain obvious. That said their frame of mind is something that could predetermine their reaction.
If their reaction seems to be an outlier you can choose to ignore the points but please do not ignore them. If their reaction gives your pause you may want to reach out to them and find out how they are. No joke here, I’m serious.

The Last and Most Important Rule.

Insults never change an opinion or successfully champion a cause.
If a meme uses the words, idiot, moron or derp you may want to reconsider your need to post the meme.

In many ways an internet meme is a lot like a bumper sticker. You have to ask your self if displaying the sticker is going to incite road range at the very most or change an opinion in the very least. The last time I checked Tibet is still not free and NFL fans still follow the Raiders , Patriots etc …, no matter how insulting the bumper stickers get.

*Hey meme is a word
Meme – a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.
DERIVATIVES
memetic |mēˈmetik, mə-| adjective
ORIGIN
1970s: from Greek mimēma ‘that which is imitated,’ on the pattern of gene.

Meme-dom however is not but if you have read my stuff before you know the power of the hyphen to transform pure B.S. into fine literary prose.

** See smart aleck comment #1 and substitute ‘emoji’ and ‘con’ adding hyphens where you are felt they are needed. Yea in the old days we called them emoticons but someone , a marketer no doubt, decided the name had to be shorter and cuter.

Life is Saga

We live therefore we know saga. We all have a narrative. Our lives tell a story. If we really pay attention to our lives we find that they are populated with interesting and even great characters. Myself included. Yes, I consider dust bunnies characters. I write fiction. I could also be considered a great character in someone else’s narrative. I’m convinced i’ve been called a character many times when coworkers and friends talk about their day to their loved ones.

“You’ll never believe what this character said today…”

The word saga has gotten a bad rap. Somewhere along the line modern culture has linked saga with drama. The pop use of drama itself is abused.
“You don’t want to get involved with them. They bring to much drama.”
“OMG , they’re into daytime television?”

A perusal of some olde fashioned writing tools, dictionaries, will reveal that drama is not even in the lexicon of the definition. The following description appears number one among most definitions. “A long story of heroic achievement, especially a medieval prose narrative in Old Norse or Old Icelandic: a figure straight out of a Viking saga.”

I am not naive in the belief that figures straight out of Viking Sagas were not without some drama. On more than one occasion during the saga of Erik The Red, a character must had the following conversation.

“Where ever Erik goes there is always some kind of drama, what with the pillaging and the looting and all.”

“You know it. Where his he now?”

“The town had him exiled again and he didn’t know what to do with himself. I told him to find an island to explore. That should keep him busy for a while.”

In between the looting and pillaging, what we have come to spin as “conquering,” lands were discovered, legends were born and tales told.

Your life is a saga,hopefully devoid of pillaging and looting, but a saga none-the-less. You are the protagonist in your story. Make sure your character is a nice one.  A heroic protagonist would be epic, but a nice person in the least. The world is populated with enough antagonists. By all accounts Erik The Red was not a nice guy.

You don’t get exiled from two towns in Iceland by being a nice guy.

So go live your saga but don’t be like Erik The Red. He brought a lot of drama.

This post happened as a result of  the daily prompt meeting my mind. Fortunately there were survivors.

Image – Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000 Jens Erik Carl Rasmussen (1841–1893) (public domain).
Saga

 

Pharma-Capitol Shenanigans (Pharmaceutical-Palooza Series)

Location : Capitol Hill – An office in the Senate office Building. When: Late afternoon (after completion of a presentation by Hypochondriacs against Big Pharma Commercials).

“I don’t know about you Senator but I don’t think that went too well,” said Abe.

“Were you at the same session that I was at because I think that was a resounding success,” replied the Senator.

“Resounding? I don’t think there were more than 35 Senators there.”

“Yes , but at the beginning we had a full house.”

“But there were open seats.”

“When you get 70 senators out of a 100 to show up that’s a full house.”

“That is depressing.”

“No, that is reality.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s not depressing. There was only 15 left at the end of a thirty minute presentation.”

“Yea that was your fault.”

“How was it my fault?”

“The average age of a US Senator is 60. You lost twenty senators at the mention erectile disfunction.”

“Why did that cause them to leave?”

“It reminded them that they needed a refill.”

“So when did I lose the rest?”

“You lost a few more at the mention of temporary memory loss, hemeroids and frequent urination. It was kind of a steady trickle after that.”

“You’re putting that all on me?”

“Well, that’s probably not fair. Our normal daily attrition rate is similar and for pretty much the same reasons.”

“Again, thats depressing.”

“It could have been worse.”

“How?”

“You could have mentioned side affects related to alcoholism. That would have emptied the place.”

“So whats our next move?”

“Well, normally I would conduct follow up meetings in the next couple of days but I will probably
wait until next week.”

“Why the wait?”

“Well, you got em stirred up a bit today. The frequent urinators will be back in the morning but It will take a few days for the hemorrhoid sufferers to calm down. It could be a while for the memory loss folks if at all.”

“If at all?”

“Yea, they could just think they’re retired. It’s happened before.”

 

Other posts in this series

Pharmaceutical-Palooza

The First Step is Admitting You Don’t Have a Problem

There is No I in Anonymous

Mr. Doe Goes To Washington

Mr. Doe Goes To Washington

Location : Capitol Hill – An office in the Senate office building

The head of a senator pokes out from behind the door of his inner office.

“Doris, I am meeting with some constituents and I do not want to be disturbed for a bit.”

“Yes sir. They must be important constituents to blow off your committee meeting.”

“It’s an election year, all of my constituents are important.”

“Ooh. Are they lobbyists?”

“No, They’re hypochondriacs.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Both have irrational fears but the hypochondriacs don’t have any money to throw at their problems, only votes.”

“Ok, a half hour without being bothered, got it.”

Closing the door the Senator turned around to find his constituents arranged in front of him like a pair of his old socks bunched up around the ankles.

“So do I understand correctly people that later today I am to bring up your issue on the floor?”

“Yes sir, that is correct,”replied Abe.

“And what would that issue be,” asked the Senator.

“We sent you a power point presentation to bring you up to speed. Did you not get it?”

“Oh , I received it. I just haven’t had time to review it what with the debates and all. “

“But you’re not running,” stated Abe.

“No, but I have been taking notes so I could work the one liners into my weekly cocktail hour,” replied the Senator.

“Oh ok, Well I can summarize. Our issue is with the commercials being produced by Big Pharma theses days. As hypochondriacs it drives many of us to take on the symptoms of the medical issue the drugs are meant to address. “

“Now I remember. Can’t you just realize at the beginning of the commercial you haven’t been diagnosed with the particular medical problem?” asked the Senator.

“Would that we could sir. We’re hypochondriacs. Reason left our life stories some time ago. I would think you would be sympathetic to that.”

“Um, of course I’m sympathetic. I think?”

“With some of those commercials your lucky if you even realize the medical condition they are addressing.”

“Yes, I understand the problem but there are only ,what, ten of you here today?”

“Just a small sample of our group sir. Here is the petition I mentioned in the email. It has 20,000 signatures. All of whom are registered to vote.”

“Oh my, this is a problem. It must be addressed. I would like to lead off with the little blind kid with the white cane but I don’t want to appear I’m manipulating their emotions.

“Oh, he’s not blind. He’s a hypochondriac also.”

“Perfect it will humanize the issue without the exploit factor. Bring him up here.”

“Ok but he want’s to check his prostate first,” replied Doris.

Seeing the the boy kneel down and check his own ankles the Senator replied, “He seems confused.”

“He’s five years old,” replied his mother. “Would you like to show him where his prostate is?”

“No, thats quite alright.” This is a bigger problem than I thought.

The Art of The Conspiracy

In a dimly lit bar ensconced in the chill of a capitol hill winter afternoon, sit three men.

 

 

They are holding an impromptu meeting in light of some unexpected events. The three do not know each other but of each other. That’s the way this deal goes down.
That’s the way they like it. That’s the way it needs to be.

The first one to speak, with some reluctance, was the bearded one.

“If you recall, our most recent meeting discussed giving guidance, mentoring if you will, to a known public figure that may have desired to concoct a conspiracy involving a yet to be identified public figure.”

“I thought we knew who he was and what he wanted,” said the nondescript bartender.

“Shut your trap, you know he likes to dramatize for effect,” whispered Mr Panama.

“Well , we do know the man and certainly the world knows him, “ replied the bearded one.

“ To summarize, part of our council was to advise against direct involvement. Instead, we strongly suggested conspiracy by proxy, that he go through a third party to mechanize events.”
“Mechanize? Has he been watching too many mob movies?” uttered the unassuming bartender.

“Well, if he has do you really want to make him angry?” whispered Mr. Panama.

“Excellent point.”

“Well,” continued the bearded one. “It seems said public figure has ignored our advice and taken direct action. We are here to discuss potential fallout and can we say plausible deniability.”

“Um, yes, we can, um, I can,” answered the nondescript bartender.

“That wasn’t a question you dolt,” interjected Mr. Panama.

“Of course. I knew that. Hey, can I have a better name,” asked the nondescript bartender.

“No, as a member of a conspiracy, nondescript is perfect. It is , well, nondescript,” replied Mr.Panama. “That does remind me of a similar issue. Mr Bearded One, For clarities sake can I suggest we give those involved more distinct monikers?”

“Monikers? Did you just get a thesaurus,” asked the bartender.

“Yea, I’m improving myself. You gotta problem?

“No, It’s just an observation.”

“Distinct Monikers,” echoed the Bearded one. “Yes, we can do that. Let’s call the person seeking advice “pompadour.” His recently identified subject of the conspiracy will be called “the judge.”

“Oh, the picture is becoming clearer now,” said the nondescript bartender.

“Good because I thought I was going to have to do a paint by numbers thing with you two,” mumbled the bearded one.”

“It’s all over the news. How could we not connect the dots,” stated Mr. Panama.
“Yes, which is precisely the problem,” replied the Bearded One. “We need to make sure
we are insulated.”

“Refresh my memory. How did he get a hold of us in the first place,” asked the Bartender.

“A sandwich delivery with shall we say a little fiber,” replied the Bearded One.

“Oh, the old note in the sandwich trick,” said the Bartender.

“Yes but delivered to one of our couriers who then delivered it to the Bearded One,” added Mr Panama.

“So we are untraceable?”

“We Should be,” said the Bearded One.

Just then the front door burst open and on its heals followed the last of the winter sun.

A silhouette appeared in the doorway in the shape of a man who could have been Elvis or some other guy with a pompadour.

“Oh no,” uttered Mr. Panama.

“How did you find us?” asked the barman.

“I just asked around for the best Margaritas on Capitol hill,” replied the new but confused arrival.”

“What’s with the miniature poodle on your head,” asked the barman.

“Oh, I let her do that as a puppy. Now it’s the only way she’ll go anywhere with me.

A Place To Share Some Grins