Tuesday, August 28, 2007

For a Minute There I Lost Myself--Part II

But after the game most of the team went to a bar and drank for a little while. I was getting picked on for liking Genny from every direction, a discussion of the game began and from there conversation was all around.

I was in the corner talking to one of the quieter players and we somehow fell onto the topic of Ted Williams having been the last .400 hitter; how he willingly played on the last day of the year and went 6 for 8; and all the guys who have since come close but still just didn’t quite hit .400.

Ted Williams himself hit .388 in 1957.

But as the conversation finally came to pass, I sat back and noticed how nice the moment was, how content everyone felt in that small bar, and how freely the 9-5’ers—both workers and those who worked for themselves—were buying pitchers of beers for everyone. Maybe it was the beer I had drank, or maybe it was the overwhelming argument in the moment itself, but for a minute there I thought I understood why people are willing to work their whole lives, and it was for moments like these.

Rod Carew hit .388 in 1977

And in that moment, like moments that often come to me, I thought maybe it wasn’t so bad. After all, everyone was in the same ship: safety in numbers, right? And that work let moments like this happen: it’s the little things, right?

George Brett hit .390 in 1980

For so long I grew up almost instinctively believing that I would go to college, graduate, get a good job with good pay and that would be that; that was the pay off and that was all that was needed. And in thinking that so long, no matter how strenuously I now claim to believe the opposite, there still is a long process of deprogramming filled with constant second-guessing that I always find myself going through in my pursuit of my idea of doing nothing.

That Tony Gwynn hit .394 in 1994 wasn’t mentioned, probably because it was a strike-shortened season.

But the belief is easy. It’s the action that is that hardest. And in seeing those guys—great guys—enjoying themselves, it seemed so easy, even worthwhile to do. I fell back to short daydreams of going back to school to get a degree to become a professor or anything else that would provide stability and good pay: by no means is my determination never distracted, sidetracked or second-guessed. Far too easily we fall back on our conditioning and I still have yet to overcome that completely.

Then the fact that Ted Williams also won two triple crowns was mentioned (and that he didn’t win MVP in either of those seasons) and talk went onto the previous winners of that.

But I eventually did come to my senses and knew that if the price of those moments was a life time of work the price was too high because those moments can be experienced without the work, without the money. I was there in that moment too. Was it just as a mooch or as an equal, if not in money being spent, but in the more valuable (and perhaps rarer?) commodity of friendship?

Joe Medwick was the last to win in the NL in 1937.

Experience and the emotions that come from it are free. The pay off isn’t the paycheck or the things you can pay for, it’s the play in the moments themselves. Even if I don’t go on a bike ride and take a million pictures everyday; if I don’t finish at least a book a week; if I don’t make four posts a day on this page; if all I have to show for my day is a few hours on the porch laughing with friends—and, oh yeah, I still haven’t started drawing again—watching a baseball game, or anything best experienced rather than described and recreated in some creative way, that is enough to show for the day. And since I from time to time find myself bummed out if I don't accomplish all these things I must continue to strive to remain confident in that belief and do away with any doubts effortlessly.

Frank Robinson won it in 1966.

But because doing something even slightly different requires dealing with a certain level of difficulty—and because we are encouraged to be like water and follow the easiest path—such doubts and second-guessing thoughts are always close by.

Then Carl Yastrzemski, who was the last to win it, did it the following year in 1967.

And in that, I remembered a passage from Woody Guthrie’s Bound For Glory:

“…so you lie, you lie to your ownself, and you say ‘Everybody else in the whole world is all haywire, all wrong, I hate their pretty world, because I can’t find a hole to break into it!’ and every breath you’re a liar. Maybe a good guy, and maybe I love you, but still a liar.” She put her face on my shoulder….
“Yeah. I know. I am a liar. I know th’ real things I’m a-lookin’ fer. Workin’. makin’ money. Building’ up something’. Little house with ever’thing in it. An’ you there. I knew what I wanted. But I couldn’t have none of it if I didn’t find my work. I wanted ta pick out my own kinda work. I’ll work like a Goddam dog, but I aim ta pick out my work...so I been a-lyin’ at my own self now fer a good long time, sayin’ I didn’t want no little house an’ all that.”

And I thought how, while I was no different from anybody in that it was these moments like sitting in a bar and talking baseball that I wanted too; that I wasn’t against the people I was sharing them with or even the way they went about to having them, I was still determined to go about having them in my own ways too.

Then the following year he hit .301, the lowest average ever to win the batting title.

Even if that means having nothing more than an enjoyable conversation about otherwise meaningless and impersonal baseball stats I have somehow retained in my memory.

For a Minute There I Lost Myself--Part I

In keeping with my tradition of showing up severely hung over—the team’s superstition is that I play better that way (“better” being relative, of course)—I made the trip on Sunday morning to watch my Sunday morning, over-25 baseball team play in the championship. It was the fourth consecutive year we (they) have made the championship game. And for the third straight season they (we) lost.

But even though I didn’t play—my wrist injury limited me to four games on the season—there wasn’t a better way to spend a Sunday morning: outside, under the sun and, oh yeah, awake. Beats sleeping off a hangover. And between the jokes on the bench (shit, I can’t remember the remarkable 80’s player referenced), our shortstop coming a double short of the cycle (he only had three at-bats), our first basemen’s perfect bunt down the third baseline that hit the base, the left fielder’s still breathing heavily an inning after he scored on a double from first; and even though the comeback came up short (they cut a 5-0 1st inning deficit to a 7-5 loss), by the end of the game I was reminded just how enjoyable the nothingness of a game can be.

And at that moment, my day could have been complete.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spare the Time?

Finding yet another way to cheaply entertain ourselves, last night I and two of my friends passed on immediately going into the bars on Allen St and instead decided to each buy a beer and probably-not-so-discreetly drink them on the street. Hell, the guy passed out on the ground to the right of us would have to be more deserving of attention than us, right?

And while doing so we decided that we would ask people passing by for two things: 1)the time and 2)a pen, which would naturally have been used just to write down the time of course. You can ask a person for change and they’ll blatantly ignore you (or I, you). But ask them for the time and they are all the more willing to help you. We had one women walk by and then stop in the middle of her conversation, apologized to us for not helping us immediately and politely told us it was 3:05.

We probably did that for a good thirty minutes, didn’t garner any attention from the cops riding by, and were more entertained than we would have been sitting in a bar with music blasting in the background.

We never did get that pen though. Maybe tonight!

Flat Tires

Over the last three weeks I have had four separate occasions in which my bike tire(s) went flat. It’s almost like the world wants me to have a car. And had they been car tires I would have let these instances single-handedly ruin my days, if not weeks. But because I know how to patch up a bike tire I tend to take the flats a little more in stride. Not to mention that the do-it-yourself ability of patching a tire up is a lot better than having to wait for AAA or a car mechanic to help you out. It’s just the tip of the iceberg in the do-it-yourself mentality that fills up entire books with ways to become more self-sufficient.

Though four times is a bit steep, so after the latest I finally wised up and bought a new tube.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Music Makers

Perhaps this all traces back to my stubborn belief that the people around me are just as entertaining as anything on TV; that I laugh just as hard, if not harder, to our conversations as any comedian has made me laugh; that I would be just as eager to read an email from a friend than anything in the newspaper; and that I know musicians just as capable at their craft as anything on the radio, but I have suddenly found myself going to more shows as of late than I ever have previously.

It was after the last time I paid $60 to go to a show of a national act that I realized that I could have seen 12 local shows at $5 each and then decided that would be the last time that I would ever spend that much for a performance of any kind (perhaps Tom Waits excluded—perhaps). And while I’ve always held a preference for albums over shows (the finished product versus the process, though knowing of obvious exceptions to my so-called rule), local acts have to start somewhere.

As such, I’ve seen three of my now favorite local bands—all with friends or family in them—over the course of five or six shows (including the great free shows after the Square at Mohawk) over the last few weeks and I probably had 12 times the fun of any large venue show and was more intimately involved in each of the shows. I even bought one band’s Cd—worth every half nickel (or “bees” as they used to be called because they had pictures of bees on them)—and also plan on buying the other two bands‘ albums, as well as a few other local bands, as soon as I get the chance (and the change).

This isn’t being said out of some elitist form of liking bands “you haven’t heard of,” nor is it said with some sort of delusional belief that Buffalo houses the best local scene the world over. But with new albums being almost $20 and concerts being twice as much—speaking strictly economic terms only—who needs them? This is about being personally involved in what is around us as much as possible. The world is in my backyard and in a world of 6.5 billion of us (all in my backyard?) overrun with thinking machines we cannot stop, there’s a good chance that even in a city the relatively small size of Buffalo that there are more than enough capable musicians—or any sort of art for that matter—to keep us inspired and appreciative of music.

It’s not that I’m closing my life off from any sort of national acts: I get to hear new albums via friends all the time and know which ones I like. But when it comes down to it I would rather play a game of pickup football than go to a Bills game; I would rather hear my friends’ jokes than pay to hear a comedian’s, and would rather listen to my friends’ band over paying $60 to see a more than likely already rich act get richer. Even if the quality is slightly (or in the case of my football playing, largely) less, it still matters because more personal.

And yet 30 million people watch American Idol every time that it is on (could you imagine if that could be turned into an army with a useful cause what a force it would be to reckon with?); Lindsay, Paris and Britney are watched with such salivating interest; the radio constantly buzzes in the background of offices and cars all day long; and reality is escaped from by watching reality TV.

But must we all, in our own unique talents, compete against—or worse, surrender to—the elite geniuses (or as may be more the case today: the elite idiots) of the world over on a daily basis?

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Can Stand a Little Rain

I don’t know what it was about riding a bike in the rain today—with very little brakes and having almost wiped out turning a corner on a rain run off (thingie?)—that not only didn’t piss me off but actually had me slightly smiling like a mad man. But I’ll be damned if I am going to sit here and try to think of a reason. Sometimes feelings about a feeling aren’t even necessary and it’s just best to allow the original feeling to exist on its own. But the fact of it is that I was even willing to stop off and do some food shopping and lugged home the bag willingly even though the rain had yet to subside. The open air can always have an intoxicating effect if one simply lets it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cheap Reads

To start off my bike ride today, I made my way up to Oracle Junction on Delaware Ave in Kenmore. If Buffalo were the size of a real city—not in population but in land size (only Miami, Boston, and San Fran, off the top of my head, are comparable in land size)—then Kenmore would certainly be a part of Buffalo. (And so even though I was technically in the suburbs I didn’t feel like it was cheating. And yes, this is something I have to justify to myself.) The stretch between Kenmore Ave and just north of Mang Ave is as much as city streetscape as any of the other notable streets in Buffalo with its many storefronts that come to the sidewalk and require parking in front of the stores or on side streets, allowing for a structural consistency that is not broken up by annoying parking lots. And though I have no official stats to back up this statement, I wouldn’t be surprised if the stretch actually has a higher occupancy rate than any of the other streets in Buffalo. It certainly appeared to be the case.

For all the attention that Rust Belt Books gets for being Buffalo’s great used bookstore—always voted the winner in the Best of Buffalo polls—despite not having hours posted and often being closed when I ride down to it at a time I’ve seen it open before (weekday between 6-7pm), Oracle Junction easily has it beat, even if you don’t take advantage of calling it “OJ.”

Used books—hell, books in general—should be amongst the cheapest commodities in our economy, passed on as much for the money to be made (of course money has to be made) as much as the information being exchanged. But Powell’s in Portland charged at least $5 for used paperback books; Rust Belt charges seemingly no less than $3 for most; Oracle Junction charges $1 (sometimes $1.50).

And today they were having a 1/3 off sale.

Though it does not have the immediate availability of some more modern writers—I’d’ve immediately bought any Bukowski, having finally recently discovered him, had they had any of his books—my brother, who let me in on the OJ secret and frequents the place far more than I do, has said you can find them if you look hard and frequently enough. They do however have just as an extensive, if not more so, collection of most of the writers collectively called the Classics as Rust Belt at the previously said cheaper rate.

So just in knowing that I was paying less I was more eager to give a book or two a chance that I wouldn’t otherwise think twice about not buying for a few bucks more. I walked up to the counter with 7 books and as I handed over the $6 to pay my $5.40 bill, the owner gave back the dollar and kept the five saying that was good enough.

It just kept getting cheaper. (And I guess so do I.)

In contrast, from there I road over to Main St. to check out Talking Leaves, the only independent new bookstore that I know of in Buffalo (I could be wrong and wouldn’t mind if I was). I had in my hands a copy of Wittgenstein's Mistress that I’ve really wanted to read for some time. But it was $12.95 (plus tax in Buffalo). And even though that was, by new book standards, a very reasonable price, I had seven books in my bag that I had just bought for $5, not to mention a stack at home of unread books that I bought for $.50 apiece a couple months ago as well as the book I was currently and eagerly reading that I had just been given for free (thanks Sarah).

This all compounded by the fact that I have been sluggish in my reading habits as of late. Reading is not something I look to do to kill time and keep me entertained—I hardly have a moment where I don’t have something I want to do—but instead only something I do to be inspired and influenced by. But I’ve only read two books and two longer short stories since the beginning of July, mostly because I haven’t needed inspiration from any foreign source lately, but also because so many books seem to be so accepting of the idea that work is a necessary part of our daily lives and would have served only as unwanted distractions that would have kept me from working on this idea of my own.

So even though I really wanted that book, I couldn’t justify paying that much for it. It didn't have anything to do with Talking Leaves charging too much. New books just cost too damn much. I’ve gone this long without it I’m sure I can continue to do so.

That’s an attitude that could keep a hell of a lot more people out of debt. And maybe even drive down prices of a lot more things (for those interested in such thoughts).

For now at least, there's still Oracle Junction for me.

Hangover Free Saturday

Despite my ongoing efforts to minimize my spending, I’ve still managed to go out every Friday night. Last night was the first to the contrary as I saved some money by doing laundry at my folks' house and I and my friends were too tired to go out by the time we got back up to Buffalo.

So in lieu of sleeping through a hangover today, I was able to get up at the incredibly early (weekend) time of 10:00AM. I almost felt like a normal adult—it’s not the best feeling in the world, but it has an (only) advantage over a hangover in that you aren’t required to shake through it—as I went food shopping first thing on my Saturday morning. I made my first trip to Guercio’s in almost three weeks and was immediately reminded why I love that place so damn much after only spending $11.70 on what will be most of my food for the week.

From there I came back to prepare for something that I’ve done every year with my friends that I’ve known ever since elementary school. And even though I have an increasingly waning interest in it, one that has prevented me from being competitive in it in years, it does keep me in touch with them and it is, after all, free. I speak of course of our fantasy football draft. (My teams have gotten so bad that my keeper this year was Rudi Johnson.)

The draft started at 1:00 so I naturally began preparing for it at just about 12:40 for the first time. And of course, even though I had the second pick overall, my preference was taken first and I was left to settle for plan B. All told the draft took a little more than two hours, which isn’t even that long, but by the end I was getting terribly impatient because today was a beautiful, cool summer day and I didn’t care to be wasting it indoors sitting at my computer (I am currently indoors sitting at my computer writing this -ed.)

So as soon as we finished (Michael Vick was my last pick) I was almost immediately on my bike. Come fall I'll be more (but still not overwhelmingly) willing to waste time on the Internet. But summer is too short to be letting it pass me by.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Keeping Buffalo Weird [sic]

I recognize the fellow in the middle, but even so, I don't know what these kids were doing out on Elmwood yesterday. But I like their style.

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Going to take advantage of the free concert tonight after having only done so two or three times all summer. Even if it is Soul Asylum.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

[aside] No Milk Today

Since Monday, upon noticing that milk was $3.49/gal at Wegman's, and already then knowing that gas is currently in the $3/gal range, I've been resting assured that there is no gas shortage whatsoever.

Drive away!

However, I now have my "No Blood for Milk" signs ready for when we inevitably decide, for national security purposes I'm sure, to invade Wisconsin.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Houese Where Nobody Lives

There's a house on my block
That's abandoned and cold
Folks moved out of it a
Long time ago

Now that the heat that had me literally doing nothing—it was too hot to even sit still and read: the eye movement worked up a sweat—for what seems like the last two weeks (not counting the weekend hangovers), I finally found the inspiration today to do what I been hoping to do with my summer and hope to do a bit more frequently here—after all it’s a free activity (as long as one grants me the small cost of batteries for the camera and the power the computer uses to post them on the Internet): I took a bike ride through the West Side of Buffalo and shot some pictures of the area.

And they took all their things
And they never came back
Looks like it's haunted
With the windows all cracked

(Contrary to popular Buffalo belief, people aren’t the only things shot in that neighborhood.)

And everyone call it
The house, the house where
Nobody lives

I used to live over in the area—Upper West Side to be more exact—and find myself wanting to ride in that direction all the time. I figured what better place to start than the old place, 425 Auburn:

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(not pictured, 425 Auburn)

And a pic of the place we used to stare out at while sitting on the most historic porch that will never again be enjoyed. Here, the Owl House:

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Heading west on Auburn, I then crossed over Grant St and took in a view of the street that, to me, is the exact type of view I envision when picturing a Buffalo neighborhood, with the houses all neatly aligned in both distance from the street and rooftop heights. And I love this type of view, even if the street is obviously lacking in some tree cover:

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I headed all the way down to a block before Niagara St before I cut back over to Breckenridge to head back east. Breckenridge, like Auburn and nearly every other street in Buffalo, has it share of houses worth taking note of for still holding out and holding up:

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But also those that, well, aren’t exactly keeping up their end of the bargain:

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Seeing these houses gives me an odd sense of hope that people aren’t in fact all trees and don’t all have roots. But, it is also a horrific reminder that, even though we are still not completely past our nomadic past, we are incredibly more wasteful and careless in our current methods of picking up and moving away. The fact that one can cause such neglect to a community—root word commune, or something many are a part of—and get away with it is despicable.

...I have all of life's treasures
And they are fine and they are good
They remind me that houses
Are just made of wood

But right now I’m too tired to elaborate. Even in this much cooler weather. I’m sure the subject will arise again, so long as I continue to take such bike rides as these.

What makes a house grand
Ain't the roof or the doors
If there's love in a house
It's a palace for sure

As I returned back across Richmond Ave I noticed an odd sense of quiet in the neighborhood that wasn’t in the West Side. Even though the area is a bit more vacated, people and kids were out everywhere on the west side of Richmond. I saw two football games being played in the street, kids of all ages riding bikes and playing in the street and quite a good percentage of porches having people relaxing on them. But as soon as I crossed back into the more affluent Elmwood Village I immediately noticed the more pristine houses barely showed signs of people living there at all. Other than the few people I noticed on porches, the only people I did see out were quietly watering their lawn. Nicely painted houses, well kept lawns and gardens and streets lined with cars, but no kids, no bikes, no loud laughter of play. As far as I could tell those were the houses where nobody lives. What good is a well kept neighborhood if you can barely tell anyone is alive there? Even though it might not be as densely populated as Elmwood Village, the small part of the West Side I rode through tonight is obviously more lived in.

Without love...
It ain't nothin but a house
A house where nobody lives
Without love it ain't nothin
But a house, a house where
Nobody lives.
-Tom Waits, House Where Nobody Lives

Last week I talked of hearing concertos from my porch, but I now know they were only the band opening up for the much louder show going on in the neighborhoods to the west of me. The same neighborhood I used to take in such sounds from and one I will have to eventually get back to.

Fuck all this uptight silence around me.

(And yes, I finally figured out how to use pics!)

Niagara Café

Hanging with a friend of mine yesterday, and both hungry, we decided to get something to eat but with the stipulation to get it from a place we wouldn’t otherwise go to. From there we found the Niagara Café which, hell if I knew, is a Puerto Rican restaurant.

And, come to find out, I guess the Puerto Ricans don’t eat burritos. But this actually turned out to be a sweet deal. We split a dish of pulled pork—suggested by the young guy in front of us—yellow rice, a cup of soup and a side of chips—which yet another surprise to me weren’t like the tortilla chips I knew, but were more like mini pita breads (I’ve got an expansive dietary vocabulary). And despite my hangover, everything was a surprising treat (see previous parenthetical comment).

Even though this action would go in contrast to my not liking to dine out, it wasn’t like I spent a minimum wager worker’s weekly paycheck for the damn thing. It only came to $7 apiece. And, even more enjoyable, it wasn’t the same old thing I’d always order (and yes, sadly, I would have probably gone with a burrito if they had them), but it was also in one of Buffalo many neighborhoods that are largely and unfairly avoided, even by Elmwood crowd, because of a misconception of some sort of danger lurking on every corner in that part of town (as though Elmwood itself is a safe haven). How quickly we are to close off our options.

And that’s speaking of more than just our comestible options.

Still, even that said, having been back now for almost three full months I have yet to get a Wegman’s Sub, ordered meatloaf from Hardware, or even eaten a chicken wing from Buffalo. I guess I still have some work to do even in the arena of the same-old, same-old.

Bills Due, Bills Paid

Even though it’s been nearly two weeks since most of my monthly bills were due, I’ll finally post about them now. I again managed to scrounge up enough money to pay my monthly debts to society—even reluctantly dipped into some of my cash savings that I prefer not to touch—and covered the $448.98 that went towards rent, utilities, my student loan payments, phone and the $20 minimum towards my credit card (which will be paid in full assuming Uncle Sam’s money goons give me my tax return soon).

That said, I have been going out a little more lately and have spent almost as much so far this month as I did all of last month. Though, looking at the stats more money has been spent on random items such as gas (I’ve been cheating and borrowing my cousin’s car lately) and a few more meals have been dined out upon (like how I avoided saying “eaten out” there?). Still, more than likely, even this month I will stay below the $1000 average and will avoid completely depleting those cash savings any time soon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Fool Such As I

Because the temperature hasn’t hit below 70 in probably 48 hours now (it doesn’t sound bad until you try to sleep in it), the house is even warmer and our internet is still down (posting this via another, unprotected connection only accessible on everyone’s computer but mine), I wound up out reading on the porch tonight.

But after only a few pages in I began noticing the sounds all around. It wasn’t distracting (I could have continued reading with no problem at all) but in realizing that I was in the midst of something I stopped reading to take in the small concerto playing around me.

The song I was hearing was being created by the sounds of the locusts buzzing in the trees; our new next door neighbor walking out, saying “hi,” going out to his car, then back up the porch into his house and locking his door; the father and son that could be heard walking by across the street; the high pitched bark coming from what sounded like a few yards over from the west; the mom and her two kids, talking quietly, who walked by our porch; the TV that could be heard from a living room window from across the street; the next door neighbors also talking quietly on their porch; the odd unknown bird yelp that was only heard once; the corner store customers coming and going at the end of the block; and even the jet that passed overhead. None a constant hum but only adding their notes here and there in a nearly unnoticeable harmony. And as the locusts’ buzzing was keeping time—it was a buzzing that came and returned with a noticeable regularity—and the repetition of the cars passing were ushering in the next verses, I allowed that even the words I was reading could have easily been the lyrics.

And I wished I could have heard every one of the songs going on, each simultaneously playing for each porch and every porch on every street in the entire city, in any city—or field, or woods, or river—the world over at that moment, for every song was just different enough depending on location—some things that I heard might not be audible four doors down, but they too could here things that I could not and thus each experience unique—yet each song just a small part of the same song (still being played now if only allowed to be heard), that I wanted to hear the entire song, all the parts at once, myself.

I am not so selfish to be disappointed to not be able to hear all the parts of the songs at once however. Sitting there, I appreciated the one unique piece of the symphonic cacophony [sic?], the hypnotic cacophony of life, I was able to hear at that moment, and could hear at any moment, that we each can hear on a daily basis.

And yet here we are paying $18 for new albums; $8 for movies (or only $4 if we rent one [wink]); watching TV; rolling up our windows as we drive home secluded from the sounds of the road, blasting the radio that’s playing the same Led Zeppelin tune we’ve all heard (and still don’t know the name of); and here too so many, fools such as I, are still sitting down to create poetry, and writing books, and banging our heads in desperate hope of forcing out thought full of life out, all the while missing the readily accessible and universally free constant hum of everything full of life and music.

I’ve always believed that I could very well be wrong about that particular sound being locusts. I suppose I could learn what it is or even learn what type of bird it was that I heard. But enjoying music does not require knowing the instruments. All that matters is having heard it and knowing I heard it and having been a part of it. And today, just as every day before and every day here after that song plays on. Each part unique and to be forever lost except to those willing to hear it.

I Think I'm Going to Live

This past weekend my friend living in New York City notified me that he wound up in an ambulance after falling off of his bicycle [details withheld to protect the guilty].

As I have said previously, the largest lurking danger that could immediately destroy my goal of spending less than $12,000 over the course of the year would be needing medical attention of any kind—especially emergency—for I, like my NYC friend and 45 million other Americans I believe, am without health insurance.

This is rarely a concern for me and never would be except that I am also a bit of an occasional closet hypochondriac. In the past I’ve survived a fractured sternum; lupus; skin, lung and liver cancers; and even a small bout with Lou Gerhig’s Disease. And I always seem to have a medical condition just strong enough to keep me worried. After the ingrown toe nails (read: Turf Toe), there were my wisdom teeth and then my sore shoulder that I was convinced needed arthroscopic surgery. Now I am even nursing a sore hand whose self-diagnoses have ranged from nothing at all, a slight sprain, a sever sprain to (now, possibly) a small fracture.

So naturally after hearing my friend’s story I was bound to come up with something new. And today I got stung by a bee. So even though I knew I wasn’t allergic to them, there was a good thirty minutes that I figured it was a severe enough sting to travel straight up my spine and into my brain to eventually kill me.

But I toughed it out (read: called mom to ask her how to make it better) and the pain eventually went away.

After contemplating how sad it is that even after seventeen years of schooling I haven’t been equipped with even enough basic medical knowledge to know a home remedy for an as common occurrence as a bee sting—and I doubt I’m the only one—I eventually, as I always do, came to my senses and realized that I was going to live.

But I also realized that, in consciously deciding to live in a way where I don’t have health insurance I am only able to do so thanks to my general clean bill of inherited health. Thank Life I am not allergic to bee stings or peanuts, or gluten products or any other allergies that could randomly be triggered and require immediate attention, or that I do not even have seasonal allergies that require medicine. If it wasn’t for these things perhaps I would constantly require the burden of health insurance.

(I am technically allergic to penicillin but thankfully I am protected from that by our caring government since it would require a prescription to get that—which come from doctors that I can’t afford just to add another layer of defense for my health.)

The human body is frail sure enough, and I can see the obvious sense of having and wanting health insurance. But, in not having it, after those initial paranoid attacks of hypochondria, ones that require only the now still free medicine of time, I do not feel the need to live in constant fear and expectation of the worst happening to me. (Though it is weird how we almost instinctively, as if we are raised to act in such a way, immediately expect the worst.) If it does, I’ll survive. I have before. But if it doesn’t—and more than likely won’t—I’m not going to miss out on everything else that I do have that is good that can so easily be overlooked and go unappreciated in a unnecessary hysteria and panic. I’d like to believe that I would rather die as the mathematical abnormality than live my entire life thinking I will be but only at the end realizing I was one of the lucky ones.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Something for Nothing

I just heard that the national minimum wage was just increased last week from $5.15 to $5.85.

Who knew there were fucking hippies in Congress? Couldn’t they have gotten real jobs like all the other hippies of ages past and become lawyers instead? Who else would pass such legislation?

Now a worker making minimum wage will be making upwards of $28 more a week for the exact same amount of work they had been paid to do before. (Or, if they really catch on, they might see that they can work five hours less a week and still make the same amount of money, but who thinks like that?).

This new increase in money will put a full-time minimum wage worker even more comfortably over the poverty level (currently seemed to be $9800 for one person). Whereas he previously would have been $912 above the threshold, he would now be a much more comfortable $2,368 above it. And now even a parent supporting a family of four (whose poverty level is deemed to be an even $20,000) making minimum wage no longer would have to work 3,883 hours over the course of a year just to reach their poverty level, but instead only 3,417 hours. That’s 466 hours—more than an hour a day!—just handed over to these workers for nothing.

Obviously this is beneficial for the workers. But what about a hypothetical company? Let’s say a mere multi-million dollar company (they can’t all be billion dollar companies) had 1,000 employees working for minimum wage for forty hours a week over the course of a 52 week work year (I’m assuming they don’t get any vacation). Suddenly this company has to pay each of those 1,000 workers those $28 whole dollars more a week over the course of 52 weeks for doing the exact same amount of work! That’s $1,456 more per employee, coming out to $1,456,000 straight out of the company’s profits. Just like that. Gone.

That’s not the worst of it either. You know who really suffers here? The stockholders. Suddenly not only are workers working the same amount for more money, but now stockholders’ money is working even less for them than it was before.

One person gets something for nothing and now others are getting a little less for nothing? Seems a bit disproportionate. I’m beginning to see just how unfair Capitalism can be.

It also makes me wish I had a minimum wage paying job. It seems like they're getting quite a sweet deal these days.

[aside] Hot Hot Heat

I’m in no way a meteorologist, but I’m pretty sure I accurately ball parked the temperature today to be about 105 degrees. And last week I had it at about 115.

I’m also not a mythologist in anyway, but I do know for certain that global warming is just such a myth.

And those two statements were in no way connected.

Unless of course the third statement was equally sarcastic.


Internet Down

The Internet has been down lately (well, correction: Internet service at my house; everyone would have known had the Internet itself been down) and has helped curb my posting rhythm.

Funny though how we’ll still have to pay for the service in its entirety despite the lack of the very thing we will be paying for.

Nothing worse than being the victim of your own dream of getting paid for not doing anything. Maybe I should have started my own cable/Internet service instead of going to college.