Naturally

Had a battle with the wardrobe. Nothing matched. Plaids and stripes collided, like atomic collisions, so disaster inevitably happened. No one wanted to be my friend. No one wanted to be near me. It was a plague of the fashion variety. Everyone thought it would kill them if they got too close. They turned and ran. 

Now sitting here in the park plaza, buildings oppress on every side, though grass and trees create peace. I can see the method of my outfit symbolically in my surroundings. The good stuff is here with the grass and trees. The good stuff is here, though in small amounts. All else is a mismatched disarray of concrete, steel, and glass. The city grows taller than the natural things. Even here in the park there’s an invasion of concrete in the walkways and the drainage gutters.

On a bench an old man waits. For what he waits, I do not know. Not me. He does not wait for me. He seemed a bit shocked to see me sitting on another bench within the park. The shock didn’t dislodge him from his waiting, or his position. His waiting is as slow and uneventful as the grass growing. And yet, his assembly of clothing is far better than mine. I can’t judge him. I have no leverage. Not that I would approach and disturb his calm meditation anyway. His peace is complementary to the beautiful greenery. They’re so similar as to almost be one. Perhaps in a few years (if this man could wait that long) the park and the old man would assimilate. Tree roots would slowly mold themselves to encircle his feet. His thin grey hair would gradually turn green. Ears, nose, cheeks would become like the bark on a tree, hardened by elements. He would move no more from his bench, but his eyes would still search and wait and watch, until one day, the wood might overtake his eyes too.

Then, I might return to view the park, to enjoy its peace and pleasant smells. The old man might still be there. No one can be sure if I will recognize him. No one can predict if he will be shocked at my future collisions; pink shirt, purple pants, yellow socks, red shoes.

Looking for a car metaphor.

Like running the wipers on a dry day.

Fixing the engine when the tires are all flat.

Like driving with your lights on in the daytime.

Peaceful as driving slower than necessary through a tree-lined street.

Like putting small wheels on a car and thinking it’s fast.

Like putting giant wheels on a car and thinking it’s a truck.

Not nearly as loud as taking off the muffler and turning the radio up!

Like trading a Ferrari for a Ford.

Throwing the keys under the seat and expecting to start the car.

Like comparing apples to lugnuts.

Like burning down your garage to make the RV fit.

Putting a pizza in it and calling it “air freshner”.

Emptying the gas tank and then telling someone else their tank is empty. Expecting everyone to drive courteously when all you do is call everyone else an idiot and fly the bird.

Like adding excessive amps so you don’t have to hear all the people calling each other idiots.

Like honking the horn at a herd of cows.

Like driving blind.

Like decking out the chrome and the window tint.

Like washing it one day before rain. Like washing it before you go mudding. Like wishing you could go mudding, but you’re driving a convertible.

Like putting diesel fuel in when your car drives on unleaded.

Like driving your car into the ocean.

Driving through the carwash with all the windows down.

Like fossil fuel and new technology.

Like racing around only to find you never left your yard.

Update Downgrade

Unless you’re completely off the grid, you’ve experienced this before. I call it Update Downgrade. The Information Technology crowd likes to call any change they make to programs an “update”.

Reality suggests otherwise.

There is often no up in the “update”. It’s only change. But why would they call it change? That’s dull and might turn people off, or just not interest people at all. If they call it an update, at least they capture the anticipation factor. Someone might anticipate the change if it’s labeled as an update.

There are a few people out there in the world who don’t give much thought to what is going on in the world around them. These few people are referred to as perfect customers because they buy in almost immediately without much thought for what they’re buying. These are the few who don’t complain when they’re given the lesser quality product. (There’re even some nasty names for people who complain—a tactic invented to discourage the complaints—but that’s a subject for another time.)

On those times when you’ve received the update to your phone, or your computer, or one of your favorite programs, and you’ve noticed a function missing, or you’ve noticed the whole thing running slower, then you’ve experienced Update Downgrade. You’ll probably wish you hadn’t even accepted the so-called update from the IT department. You’ll want the functionality back, or the speed.

Where did it go? Why did they take it away? As far as the speed is concerned: that sort of downgrade can only be blamed on inadequate testing by the programmers. They made the change, but they didn’t test it on a platform such as the one you’re using. In most cases, the platform you’re using is their product, so why wouldn’t they test it? For instance, say you have an iPhone and the Apple people made an “update”. You would expect them to test the update with an iPhone if it was specific to iPhones, wouldn’t you? Same goes for Androids. And yet…

When it comes to the reduction of functionality, I consider that the more insidious of the downgrades. The whole reasoning behind it is to make you more dependent on their product or their program. Functionality usually allows the user to make adjustments and to creatively solve problems. Removing functions gives the programmer the power to “creatively solve problems” and attempts to convert the user into a mindless consumer.

My intent here is not to say that the attempt to convert us all into mindless consumers is every IT person’s dream, but there are many of them who design things with consumers as their primary goal.

For me, when I encounter something I consider an Update Downgrade, I try to always let them know they goofed. I don’t always word it as a complaint. Sometimes I only suggest, other times only make observations. They may not have time to test on all possible platforms, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. If they don’t respond, or if they respond with a “deal with it” attitude, then I have to assume they’re engaged in one of the insidious agendas, grubbing for a dollar. If they’re helpful and try to return functionality, I applaud them.

The insidious ones are the ones pushing the downgrades and it’s as if they’re saying, “Here. I have an update. It’s duct tape, and it’s an update for your face.” Then they slap the duct tape over your mouth.

Music Mood

Bob Dylan was here.

Bob Dylan probably didn’t know this when he was writing music, but listening to music can enhance the writing experience.

Many writers claim they can have no distractions in the vicinity when they write. Some admit they start to write the lyrics of the song they’re listening to, so they can’t listen to anything. Others admit the same thing, so they swear by music without words.

Instrumental music. Cue Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Data Kino, Testube, to mention a few.

The secret isn’t a secret. It’s circulating through the community of writers, like so: “Hey, does anyone have some music suggestions for me? My writing playlist is getting old.”

Funny thing is the suggestions are always what someone else enjoys. How else? Everybody wants to recommend what they like the most.

I personally don’t mind selections with lyrics. Especially if it’s something I’ve heard before. If it’s new then I might wonder what the lead singer just sang. I might wonder: What in the world is Bob Dylan rhyming about now?

He might be rhyming dead with head. He might be rhyming mind with behind. Eyes with skies. Range with change.

Whatever his latest rhyme may be, Bobby Dee is far ahead of me. Prolific is his work.

He penned Positively 4th Street, about when two people meet, and the luck, good or bad, two people feel. So the question in my mind is this: Did Bob Dylan listen to his own music while he was writing a new song?

Whatever his method, it worked for him. What’s your method?

Categorical Love

A woman whose husband has sports equipment he’s never used. And she doesn’t mention it.

A woman who thinks her husband is hot.

A man who thinks his wife is hot.

A man who picks up the cracker off the kitchen floor, instead of complaining that his wife didn’t pick it up.

Dogs who love you whether you feed them or not, whether you’re their owner or not.

People who love and follow their favorite music group through years and decades with extreme loyalty. Even if they ain’t that great.

Good neighbors. Always there with a smile and a helping hand.

Fan fiction.

Bragging about yourself.

Bragging about others.

Weddings.

Charity. Expecting no reward.

The green thumb of a gardener.

A toddler reaching for Mama’s hand.

Rain, and rainbows.