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The Mountain Goat

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The Mountain Goat (Another name for a mountain biker.)

There are many tricks we mountain bikers use while riding.

I have a friend, one of my fellow mountain goats, who likes to adjust his seat. He likes to ride high on the ascents. Uphill, he wants a tall seat. When the trail starts going down though, he drops his seat so he can get his center of gravity over that back wheel. Better balance means a faster, safer ride. He’s got skills.

Personally, I just leave my seat down on a low setting. I don’t have to fiddle with it, and I’m able to stand up for the climbs or hang out over the back wheel if I need to.

We both have this mutual friend who is a doctor. He can afford the latest gadgets. It seems like he has a new bike every year. (Am I jealous? Of course, but the topic of this one isn’t bike envy.) He has a seat with it’s own shock absorption, AND…all he has to do to raise or lower it is, like, clench his butt cheeks a certain way, and the seat will adjust for him. It’s the closest thing to having a robot bike.

Something I do adjust—not my seat, obviously—are my pedal settings. I discovered a long time ago that there are two sides to my pedals. I have the kind you can clip into. So on one side of my pedals I have the tightness really tight. On the other side, I like to keep them more loose. With two choices, I can stay clipped in like a set of mountain goats with horns locked in battle, or like a real mountain goat when it sees a mountain biker coming: outta there in a flash of fur and hooves.

 

Poetry

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Mostly I feel that I don’t like poetry.

But then why do I have this urge to write it?

It’s kind of like those times when you have dreams that baffle you. I dream about math sometimes. I don’t do math regularly, so why would I dream about it?

Well, despite my mixed feelings of poetry, here’s my latest:

 

I’ll be the deejay, you emcee,

I live in the west, the land of the free,

Party on the border, kick the wall into the sea.

I’m the deejay, my party’s a musical one,

Divisive politics don’t look like fun,

Potential friends become enemies you shun.

Political cowards want to hide behind a wall,

Afraid that immigrants will make their country fall,

Unaware of how many went there at the sound of freedom’s call.

The freedom you enjoy is something you can share,

Open your mind to consider,

Open your heart to care,

If you can’t give up the space, then spread libertad…over there.

Not a matter of how, it’s a matter of when,

The politically “active” will take action, and then,

Make Central America Great Again.

Would you rather talk politics or kittens?

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Could we say optimists to go through life with a permanently-amused attitude? Can you do it? The next time someone puts out the politics in the form of their belligerent opinion, could you just chuckle and interrupt their goad with some of your charm?

Instead of being sucked down in the vortex of name-calling and derision, could you take it up to a humane level? Here’s a short list of some effective interrupts:

  1. Ask the person what they had for breakfast/lunch today. Or invite them to lunch.
  2. Start talking about kittens. Kittens are magic.
  3. Describe your latest encounter with something gross. Bodily functions will turn just about anyone’s attention. Especially at lunch.
  4. Walmart; everyone has an opinion about Walmart.
  5. The latest dead celebrity. Lord knows we have no shortage of those.
  6. Tell a joke.

As for number six, here’s a joke I heard recently: Pepsi and Coke got married and tried to have children. They tried for a long time, but couldn’t seem to make it happen, so they decided to go see a doctor. The doctor invited them in to her exam room. She told them, “I know why you aren’t having children. You’re both Pops.”

Of course, there are people in this world who are so uptight, they won’t be swayed from their chosen topic. They won’t care for a joke, no matter what joke you tell them. They might think they’re being focused, even though everyone around them knows they’re just stubborn. So what do you do then?

If you have an airhorn handy…

Ha! I’m kidding. You were imagining blowing that airhorn right in their ear, weren’t you?

What else?

Duct tape? Now you’re really taking it too far. Stop thinking that way.

How about just drowning them out with loud music, taking the crowd with you by inviting the rest to lunch, or even shouting about your preferred topic at a volume louder than theirs? It may not win you any friends, but then again, if you’re shouting about kittens, that’s going to be pretty hilarious, especially if you have pictures to go with your rant.

Pictures like this:

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Photo credit: Jari Hytonen

“These KITTENS are in a BASKET!!!! ON a scale of ONE to TEN, how CUTE are they?!!!”

The Prime Dilemma

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Mental illness consumes us all. How are we supposed to understand each other if we’re all treading through miles of schizophrenic scenery?

We see things through a smoggy filter, defined mostly by our individual experiences, and refined by our desires.

Unless, unless, unless—-you dread to tread—then you just bounce around other people’s realities, none of which match each other and none of which hold true to each other.

The last thing a schizophrenic mind wants to do is get stuck in someone else’s dream state. Trapped in someone’s altered reality, there’s no garantee* that you’ll ever be released.

Can you extricate yourself? Not likely.

Can you draw your own reality on someone else’s well-defined vision? Difficult, if not impossible.

To escape then, how do you do it? If you can’t escape outward, and you can’t escape inward, how do you escape? Maybe you never will. So the best solution is prevention.

Make up your own will. Make your decisions early and stick with them. Live in your own reality.

If your reality is a progressive one, then by all means progress!

If your reality is a permissive one, will you someday run into universal laws that don’t allow what you allow yourself? And that right there is the Prime Dilemma: what happens when universal truth impedes your chosen truth?

 

* I included this word on purpose because the old spelling with the silent u is so annoying to me, and yet it is definitely part of someone’s chosen truth. Someone out there will have a difficult, if not impossible, time reading the word without the silent u in it. Guarantee or garantee? You decide. Personally, I want my reality, and my vocabulary, to allow progress.

A Scientific Method

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Politics has a strangle-hold on science. You can’t get a straight scientific idea out of some so-called scientists because they fear their peers. They fear being on the wrong side of a political rally, so they spin their scientific hypotheses like a politician spins an apology into a non-apology. When scientists are swayed by public issues they cease to be scientists and start to be sycophantic chumps. Ex-scientists who push “climate change the agenda,” for instance. Why any scientist would fear weather, and start telling people to run for cover, is an issue for their individual therapists. If they want to shout scare tactics, probably they should join a television news team and drop their scientist title. They could then start spewing trendy doomsday cliches as if they were a drunk hippie preacher. They might gain the public trust if they did this, but they would still lose the critical thinkers who may have once supported them.

Logic invites more logic.

The illogical, however, is like a magnet pair set to opposite poles: repellent.

Here’s my formula for a scientific method. I don’t force-feed it to anyone, but I’m not ashamed to share it either.

First: doubt; skepticism encourages the intellect, while swift acceptance kills it. Second: research; because the work may have already been done. Third: experiment; record all data, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Fourth: start over; did you think you were going to draw a conclusion already? Doubting your own findings is the ultimate test of your honesty.

Citizen Pyromaniacs

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Where I come from, we have an annual tradition of burning everything.

We call it the Fourth of July, and it’s symbolic of something, or maybe many things, but whatever that symbolism represents is up to debate. Could be death, could be destruction. Could be symbolic of burning money. It could even be symbolic of freedom. You decide.

Whatever the metaphor is for the Fourth of July, the Fifth of July is just as important, maybe more so. The Fifth of July is when we rebuild. You see. This is why the United States are so strong. We unite in burning it all down, and then we unite in rebuilding. Figure that out. We take pleasure in destroying things, and we take pleasure in putting them right again. If you can’t wrap your mind around it, then you’ve probably never experienced a bonfire. A bonfire is where you pile everything you can get your hands on and throw it on a fire. The goal is to see how high you can get the flames. When it’s all over, the Green Thumbs come and collect the ashes. They claim ashes help the garden grow.

The goal of the Fourth of July celebration is exactly that: trying to see how high the fire can go. Oh, sure, we could talk about history and the Chinese, who invented fireworks, but that really wouldn’t catch the spirit of this idea that I’m trying to get across. For instance, people of the world, did you know that it’s unlawful for anyone in the USA to NOT set fire to something on the Fourth of July? You probably didn’t know that. It’s illegal not to burn.

For my personal flame taxation this year, I chose chicken. Now, to get the flames on the chicken just so, I soaked them in an oil for a few hours prior to adding heat. Heat and oil, as you know, makes a cool looking flame that momentarily engulfs the chicken. Before I go any further, please understand that the chicken was not living when I applied heat. It had been butchered elsewhere earlier. But yes, I seared chicken over a fire, so I’m a compliant citizen. The fire doesn’t have to burn down a field, or a forest, though some Americans seem to enjoy doing that. Some will even burn down their own house. Now that’s loyalty!

Never mind that, the important thing here is that you understand what we do the next day. As an example, my drone neighbor. He was flying his drone around last night, and it was dodging fireworks, supposedly taking video of the night. It was really fun to watch as he shot fireworks at his own drone. I’m not sure if he was trying to perfect his aim, or trying to hone his flying skills, but either way, it was entertaining for the rest of us to watch. And he must not be a very good shot, because I saw his drone out today, this morning even, flying over the battleground with all the shells scattered across the streets and fields. He flew his drone over the scorched earth. He flew his drone over the Volkswagen bus that someone “accidentally” caught on fire. He flew his drone over the grass that was only partially burned because someone last night was prepared with a bucket of water. And he flew his drone over Eddie’s garage which burned down last year, but Eddie wants to make it bigger and he doesn’t have the money, so it hasn’t actually been rebuilt—yet.

When we clean this up, it’s going to look like a place to live.

 

Writer Types

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There are so many types of writers. As a writer, you try to persuade others. In every case I can imagine, the writer’s goal is to persuade.

A skywriter’s goal is to let everyone know that Harold loves Ingrid.

The poet tries to elicit an emotion.

The spin doctor tries to confound.

The philosopher aims to awe.

The preacher tries to convert.

The scientist tries to teach, and the teacher tries to grow new scientists.

The biographer wants to define a personality, and generate love or hate for that personality.

The autobiographer wants to leave a legend.

The lyricist wants to make the song memorable.

The student essayist wants to be passing and forgettable.

The trendy essayist wants to generate a buzz.

One hundred million tweeters want to be controversial.

A graffiti artist tries to be more street-owner than the real street owners; a graffiti artist wants to be known, but never seen; a graffiti artist tries to be a terrorist with a spray paint can.

The pooch writes his name on a tree using only urine. His goal: to show the other dogs where he’s been. Few animals can write—even fewer persuade me. They might persuade each other though. (So much like the graffiti artist.)

A skywriter’s goal is to sell seats at the circus.

How many more are there?