Posts tagged ‘holidays’

Say not Goodbye, but Hello!

31 December, 2014 | | 1 Comment

Historically, I review the past 364 days at the end of the year. I’ve decided not to do that this year, for a variety of reasons, starting with being high as a kite on cold medicine right now. I probably couldn’t name all the weeks days months whatever of the year right now anyway, much less get them in the right order. 2014 wasn’t a bad year, as they go, but it wasn’t all it could have been, and so I think it’s time better spent to look forward to how awesome 2015 can be.

As Banksy reminds us, as of tomorrow, we will be as close to the year 2030 as we are to the year 2000. Since I have vivid memories of a great little show called “Space: 1999” this strikes close to home for me. By 2030, we should be permanently on the Moon, with at least a research station on the way to Mars. We were promised flying cars by this point – I think there is a company working on this, perhaps more than one. By 2030, we should have them. By we, of course, I mean the affluent 5% of the more than 8.3 billion people who will be clawing for their share of the Earth’s increasingly finite resources by then, unless the next wave of Ebola takes care of us first. I myself will be more than 60 years old, and no closer to retirement than I am now, but that’s OK.

On the plus side, in the next 15 years, we have real opportunities to accomplish and achieve things that were just as “Sci-Fi” as flying cars were when I was young. We may let the blind see, the deaf hear. We have not “put a stopper in death,” nor can we ever – nor should we – but we may slow it to a trickle, putting the stopper in senescence until we’re ready to pull the plug ourselves. When you combine the magic of stem cells with the magic of 3D printers, there is probably a limit to what we can do, but it’s not a limit I can imagine right now. Mind you, that may be the cold medicine talking.

Speaking of cold medicines, my good friend Dr. Hartley at Musings on Infection has postulated an International Geophysical Year for medicine; an International Biomedical Year. I told suggested that we target the year 2020 for the IBY – these things take time to set up. With that in mind, let’s make 2015 “The Year We Got Ready.”

And so, without further ado, I will thank you all for sticking with me this year, and I wish you all, dear friends, fond relations, and Gentle Readers, a happy, safe, prosperous, invigorating, enlightening, and educational new year. Come on, 2015. Show us what you’ve got!

Thankful on Thanksgiving

27 November, 2014 | | 1 Comment

Thanksgiving is a time for making lists of those things for which we are thankful, and this year is no exception. Without further ado, a short list of things for which I am thankful:

  • I am thankful for my health, without which I would need to actually pay attention to all this Obamacare stuff.
  • I am thankful for my wide and extended family and friends, some of whom still read this once in a while despite the lack of updates.
  • I am thankful for my kids, who still find ways to make me say “Huh?”
  • I am thankful beyond measure for SOBUMD, without whom I would still be pumping gas in Hope, Arkansas.
  • I am thankful for my job, without which I wouldn’t have any reasons to get good and angry about things, which considering my low blood pressure is one of the few things keeping me alive on a week to week basis.
  • I am thankful for Thomas the Tank Engine, who was finally fished out of the subwoofer the other day, after about 8 years. We’d wondered where the hell that thing had gone.
  • I am thankful for beer, more than I can ever say.
  • I am thankful for being a middle-aged, middle-class white guy in America right now. Guilty, and sometimes nauseous, but thankful. My life is not easy, but it is not hard.
  • I am thankful for ridiculous password requirements, which provide me an excuse to type really vile swearwords in the office every morning.
  • I am thankful for coffee, for many of the same reasons as beer, but in the morning.
  • I am thankful for all the assholes in the world, who make the few really nice people stand out in sharp relief. If you’re not casting a shadow, think about which group you’re in.

And finally, I am thankful for ducks, without which I would have to cook and eat another damn turkey today.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and all of yours!

Halloween & Happy Birthday

31 October, 2014 | | 1 Comment

Sixteen years ago, on this day, our lives were changed forever on the occurrence of the birth of the Human Tape Recorder.  Her life was changed just as much, in that she was born, which is, when you think about it, probably just as bizarre as having a baby.  We went from DINK yuppie scum to frightened parents in the blink of an eye, and she went from floating in a safe warm dimly-lit room to a weird, brightly-lit cavern with wind and air and stuff, and people poking at her and talking to her.  Her first reaction was to poop, and I was so nervous I nearly did the same.  We’ve come a long way since then!

So without further ado, Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday to the Human Tape Recorder!  Sixteen years old and she’s still my walking memory bank.

Time for My Mid-Life Crisis!

17 March, 2014 | | 2 Comments

First, as I hit the mid-stride of the afternoon of my 45th birthday, I have to note that I cannot remember spending any previous birthday shoveling snow.  I’ve done a lot of different things on past St. Patrick’s Days.  Some of them involved drinking, some involved being born, and some involved drinking to sufficient excess that I wished I hadn’t been (I’m looking at you, dear Ma’am), but none have involved shoveling.  So, that’s a new thing.

New is not the same as good.  Get this winter over with.

However, I think 45 should be more than just looking back, however fondly or blearily, at the years gone past.  I’ve decided that I will not worry about all the things I have thus far failed to accomplish, all the almosts, all the maybes.  I will not consider for one minute the fact that when John Keats was my age, he’d been dead 20 years.  No.  I shall keep my eyes due north, face forward into the wind, and imagine what comes next.

Based on statistics and actuarial tables, I can reasonably assume that I might live to 90, assuming a smooth downhill road and a good tailwind.  That means that today marks my halfway point, my middle life.

So, Dear Friend, Fond Relation, and Gentle Reader, I ask you for input:  What’s a good crisis to have?  I’m ready for my mid-life crisis, and I’m entertaining ideas!  Bungee jumping?  Skydiving?  Fast cars?  Loose women?  Pot is now available legally in 2 states, and I’ve never had any – is that a decent option for a mid-life crisis?  Recreational alcoholism is old hat; nothing new there to try.  My understanding of how this works is that I realize my own mortality and then try to distract myself from same by spending inordinate amounts of time and/or money on something I don’t usually do.  Since there are thousands of things that I don’t usually do, the field is pretty open here.  I want to keep the financial aspects of this crisis to a minimum, so please don’t suggest I start a Ferrari collection – unless you’re willing to donate the first one as a starter, in which case I’m all in.

So, what should I do for my mid-life crisis?  All comments welcome!

A Quick Valentine’s Day Book Review

14 February, 2014 | | 1 Comment

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d re-read and review one of the best love stories ever written.  It’s particularly appropriate, since the book turns 100 years old this year, and I thought I’d see how it’s held up over the century.  Don’t worry, you know the story.  It’s Tarzan of the Apes.

So, yeah, I know, it’s not the first thing that jumps out at you as a love story.  Oh, sure, it’s got beatings, killings, maulings, beheadings, and all sorts of good jungle violence.  Some characters die for vengeance, some die because someone else was angry – or just hungry.  At least 16 men or apes are killed before chapter 10 – and I mean right in front of you, with guns, knives, or teeth.  All told, there are probably around 80 deaths in the book.  There’s a lot of blood.

Warning:  Hereafter lie spoilers.  I know, you think you know the story.  Disney didn’t cover the books very well, and many people really don’t know the original story.  If you’re interested in reading the original, I’m going to give away the ending here – be warned.  (Also, for those who know me well and are curious, no, I don’t have a first edition.  I’m reading a later reprint, from around 1916.  If anyone wants to get me a first printing/first edition, they’re most welcome!)

But still, it’s a love story.  The first time Tarzan lays eyes on Jane Porter, his world changes – as does hers.  He goes from wondering about his purpose in life as a man among apes, to a man with a mission – Jane.  She left the jungle without him, against her will while fearing him dead or worse, but left him a love note.  For Jane, he leaves the jungle, learns the ways of civilization, and crosses continents.  He went to Paris, then to Baltimore, only to find she had moved to Wisconsin.

He makes his way to Wisconsin, just in time to save her from a raging forest fire, and then moments later from a loveless marriage to a miser.  He gives her father enough money to cover his debts, restoring the family’s honor.

And then, at the end, Jane has a crisis of faith, and agrees to marry William Cecil Clayton, Lord Greystoke, who inherited his title, wealth, and lands when his uncle was declared dead – his uncle, who was Tarzan’s father.  Tarzan, for his part, receives a telegram from Paris just moments later, from his friend who had been investigating the matter, stating:  “Finger prints prove you Greystoke.  Congratulations.” 

He realizes that at a word, he can have Clayton stripped of his title, lands, and money – and in doing so would strip them from Jane, too.  Clayton chooses that exact moment to walk up to him, thank him for all the help he’s been, and ask how he had wound up in the jungle anyway.

“I was born there,” said Tarzan, quietly.  “My mother was an Ape, and of course couldn’t tell me much about it.  I never knew who my father was.”

Yes, Burroughs was a privileged white man born in Illinois in 1875, and wrote what he saw.  The impression he had of Africans as savages, the idea that women were little better than chattel, the concept and conceit that British nobility would of course shine through despite a life lived as a brute among brutes, all of those products of Burroughs’ time that we now look back on and cringe – these are all here in this book.  The anachronisms, the patois of racism and privilege, grow worse with each passing year.  As a book, it doesn’t hold up well to modern morality.

But – that’s a love story.  He swept her off her feet, she fell in love with his savage nobility, and at the end he renounces his true identity and birthright, giving her up, to secure her happiness and well being – without telling anyone.

I hope everyone had as Happy a Valentine’s Day as that kind of love can bring!