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November 18, 2013

BIG C omplaint

A friend of mine died of cancer recently. Can you say the same thing? Probably. It’s not the first time for me; I’m getting fed up with it. Too many people I know have cancer, have had cancer, will have cancer. I even had a small tumor removed this week. I’m fed up, enough already!

But it won’t be enough, will it? It will continue and get worse (see Fukushima Dai-ichi, btw, how’s that tuna sandwich?). Who’s next? You, me, the lottery? It’s not but it seems contagious like the flu. One cough and you’re done for. Like the Black Plague, half of Europe dead in a couple years. What, why, how? Give us a break.

This blog post is not going to be very good because I can’t answer my own questions. I can’t explain why so many people I know have cancer. One rumor is Chernobyl, 25 years later. Another is diet (now food is toxic?), then there’s smoking, and don’t forget stress, which often comes from work because we want it all and we want it now (and that’s not working out too well). So what if we take all the fish from the ocean, the oil from underground, cut down all the trees, huh? Gotta provide a better life for the kids.

We in the developed world got that already, and …. How’s the sacrifice of our ancestors and the rape of the earth made our lives better than when we were kids – cell phones and videogames? Technology as the answer to all the problems caused by technology? Is it consume, reproduce and die like salmon? Sadly, I digress. Back to cancer (or rather not).

I have no explanations or solutions to propose. Nothing. I feel like when I got lost in Disneyland as a kid. I turned around and my parents had disappeared. I’m tired of people disappearing. Sick and tired. Stop!

I know there are typhoons and earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes erupting and droughts and floods and fires all over the world. It’s hard to steady one’s ship and keep it on course, if you know your course. No hope then? Oh maybe, a couple years ago a friend of mine was cured of an incurable disease. How about that? Age of Aquarius, we're still waiting.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Hey, Jeff, thanks for bailing me out, or coming to pick me up rather. A harrowing experience. I got arrested yesterday by the Batkid. The charge was being a criminal mastermind threatening the well-being of the citizens of Gotham City, but then the cops and I chatted, and they dropped the mastermind charges.
Jeff: Yeah, well. They also arrested a man for passing himself off as the comedian named Seinfeld. The charge was playjerism.
Mutt: Oh, I heard lots of stories like that in the joint, the big house, the crowbar hotel.
Jeff: You were in jail for half an hour. It wasn’t even a real jail. Plus, the Batkid is five years old. [Good luck, Miles!!!]
Mutt: Okay, but they arrested a woman for causing an accident while on her cellphone. She was charged with driving while intalksicated.
Jeff: I heard that they arrested the barber for running a clip joint.
Mutt: They arrested the Pfizer pharmaceutical rep for hitting a pharmacist because he wouldn't buy their popular pill. He was charged with Viagravated assault.
Jeff: They arrested the former chewing gum manufacturer for unlicensed ex-spearmints.
Mutt: Yeah, and they arrested the hock shop owner for indecency. He was selling pawnographic materials.
Jeff: And they arrested the Chrysler salesman and he couldn't a-Ford bail.
Mutt: They arrested the owner of a threatening bull. He was brought up on charges.
Jeff: Had enough?
Mutt: Of time in the slammer? Definitely. The can, the cooler, the brig, the calaboose, the poky, the hoosegow, the pen, the clink …
Jeff: Stop!

November 6, 2013

A Sign I Can't Read

I was having a hard day, not because it was 20 miles between highway 3, Scott Mountain Summit, where I’d camped and highway 93, Carter Meadows, my proposed destination—Siskiyou County, Northern California—but because it started with several miles straight up hill; then it leveled; then it went up some more. ‘It’ being the trail. Yeah, this is a trail story, sort of.

I knew there were fires up ahead (usually are), but I needed to get to Etna, California, to rest a couple days. You know when you need a break or you will break? So I was climbing—left knee going wah wah wha—and determined to get to the next road, an illusion of safety perhaps, a way out. I crossed a ridge at lunchtime, and the smoke got a lot thicker. The fire was near enough to smell; then my eyes watered; then I started to cough. I was climbing into hell.

I met only one guy all day coming the other way. He was my age, taller, stronger, with a much larger pack that looked home-designed, very neat. He said he was sure glad to get out of the smoke he’d been walking through for a week. He said he could finally breathe; I said I have minor respiratory problems.

I knew the trail wasn’t officially closed, though people were evacuating. The Russian Wilderness fire, the Marble Mountain Wilderness fire, the Etna fire, these were not right next to the trail, I’d heard, but one can’t help wondering as the smoke gets thicker and thicker. All afternoon I kept telling myself that flames would not appear around the next bend, up the next rise. Plus I absolutely had to get to the highway because that was the plan. All this weighed on my mind as I walked through the dark forest completely alone.

Out of the blue, all of a sudden, without warning, right beside me on the left, ten feet away, a tree branch comes crashing to the ground. A six foot long branch fell out of a tree and slammed to the ground right as I passed. I screamed, of course. Stopped a few feet ahead, looked at the branch—it was dry; lots of trees are diseased or burnt these days—and then I started laughing out loud, really loud, alone with the spirits. I echoed as I laughed for a while at the absurdity. What just happened? Why me? Who is trying to communicate what? Of all the times to fall …

I got to the highway, and friendly Sheriff Chris Callahan drove me to Yreka. The smoke continued clear to Oregon and the Etna wildfire would continue, he explained, until it rained. There was even a freak landslide blocking the only road the fire fighters could use to get to the blaze. Almost as bizarre as a tree limb falling right next to a lone hiker as if some joker were throwing it at him from above. BLAM!

Maybe the tree was thinking, “If I fall in the woods, and nobody’s around to hear me, do I really exist?”

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt:  For the love of Mike, it’s Sir Jeffery, the supreme wit.
Jeff:  Hello Mutt. Can I tell you a sad story about my girlfriend?
Mutt:  I already don’t believe it. You’ve never had a girlfriend.
Jeff:  Yeah, well. Penny was a hard working, conscientious girl, who lived on her own. Her dream in life was to go on an ocean cruise around the world. So she scrimped and she saved until finally, one day, she had enough money to go on her ocean cruise. She booked passage on a cruise liner - first class all the way. The cruise started off in a grandiose scale, dancing and parties every night. But Penny was a cautious girl, so she never drank, but just danced the night away.
One night, after they had been at sea for a week, Penny was walking back to her cabin, when the heel on her left shoe broke throwing her off balance. If that wasn't enough, the ship chose that moment to tilt to the left. As a result, Penny was thrown overboard. A hue and a cry were immediately raised, and after about five minutes they found Penny. Hauling her aboard, the ship's crew realized that it was too late, poor Penny was dead.
Normally, they would have done a burial at sea, but as I said before, Penny was a very conscientious girl, and had written a will. In it, she specified that she wished for her body to be cremated, and kept in a jar on her parent's fireplace mantel. Her wishes were fulfilled, which just goes to show you that a Penny saved is a Penny urned.
Mutt:  That just goes to show me I should have gone to the races today.
Jeff:  If you want I’ll tell you how I met Penny.
Mutt:  Shoot. Take me out of my misery.
Jeff:  I was dining in a fancy restaurant and there was a gorgeous redhead sitting at the next table. I had been checking her out since I sat down, but I lacked the nerve to talk with her. Suddenly she sneezes, and her glass eye comes flying out of its socket towards me. I reflexively reached out, grabbed it out of the air, and handed it back.
“Oh my, I am so sorry,” the woman said as she popped her eye back in place. "Let me buy your dinner to make it up to you.”
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner together, and afterwards we went to the theater followed by drinks. We talked, we laughed, she shared her deepest dreams and I shared mine. She listened. After paying for everything, she asked me if I would like to come to her place for a nightcap and stay for breakfast.
We had a wonderful, wonderful time. The next morning, she cooked a gourmet meal with all the trimmings. I was amazed. Everything had been so incredible.
“You know,” I said, "you are the perfect woman. Are you this nice to every guy you meet?"
“No,” she replied, "You just happened to catch my eye."
Mutt:  Do you know the expression ‘too much information’?
Jeff:  Let’s go to the races anyway. I feel lucky.
Mutt:  I feel woozy.