Friday, October 30, 2009


There was a fascinating documentary a couple of years ago about a group of newly hatched geese which imprinted on a researcher--the first creature they saw upon hatching. To the hatchlings, the researcher was their parent. They followed him everywhere and he had to assume the role of an adult goose in order to show them how to be geese. When winter approached and the time came for them to migrate, the researcher learned to pilot an ultra-light aircraft in order to lead them south. Viewed from the ground, they formed the perfect V, with the researcher and his little open aircraft at the head of the V.

Though imprinting studies have mainly been done on birds, it is a factor in other species, Man included.

Imprinting is not always as instantaneous an event as bonding with one's parents. It continues slowly through early childhood and goes far beyond the usual imprinting between parents/children. Mine was a slower process, though the end result is still with me. Imagination is a very important tool in the imprinting process. It helps children learn, grow, make choices that will remain with them throughout life, and helps them understand the world as it really is. But having used the imagination to help in the imprinting process, most children make the transition between reality and make believe naturally. I never did. I imprinted early-on on make believe and on happily-ever-after and pretty much stopped there.

My imprinting on happily-ever-after is probably responsible for the fact that I spend so much of my time in frustration when things do not go the way they are supposed to go. (You'll note I did not say "the way I think they are supposed to go"--the way they are supposed to go is the way they are supposed to go. Period.) If I can do it in imagination, I damned well should be able to do it in reality.

I find it significant that even at a very young age, listening to and later reading fairy tales, it was never the princess I concentrated on (or ever, for one single moment, identified with), but the handsome prince. I never grew out of it, which I am convinced is a major reason I, sincerely, have such a hard time accepting reality.

I doubt one's sexual orientation is influenced by imprinting. I sincerely believe that being gay is no more a conscious choice than the decision to have brown eyes. However, if it were, the first person I ever set eyes on must have been the doctor or a male nurse.

And again imagination comes into play. I have always loved beauty, and grace, and charm, as I perceive them, just as I have always expected thoughtfulness and common civility as encompassed by the Golden Rule to be. I love the idea of romantic love, and yet relate it, for myself, only to beautiful (in my eyes) men because beautiful men embody everything I have always longed for. But I have never succeeded in believing myself to be beautiful--a fact verified by every reflexive surface.

There are many different types of love between humans--the love of family, the broader love of friends, and the very special love between just two humans, which is differentiated from the other forms by the element of sexual attraction. But my personal concept of romantic love and sexuality attraction includes only men. Women have always been, to me, a totally different species. But my love for women is and has always been strictly of the friends-and-family type, totally devoid of any romantic or sexual-attraction component. While I realize this is all but incomprehensible to most people--and I'm sorry to say may possibly be offensive to some--it is simply a statement of fact and has never been an issue for me.

The combination of my early imprinting on fantasy at the expense of reality, my totally unrealistic assumption that I am somehow separate and apart from everyone else, coupled with my expectations for myself being infinitely higher than could ever be realized...and the resultant self loathing that evolves from it, have produced the person writing this blog. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad. It doesn't matter. It just is.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Listen Up!

Okay, people: listen up. I have had enough of this crap, and am planning a coup to take over the world. Once I do, here are a are a few of the changes that will be institutedmmediately.

As I understand it, the game of football is divided into four quarters of fifteen minutes each. Therefore, a football game should last exactly one hour, not six. Under my rule, each quarter will last exactly fifteen minutes. Once the clock is started, it will not be stopped every ten seconds for periods of up to ten minutes each. Fifteen minutes per quarter! There will be five minutes between the first and second quarters, twenty minutes for the ubiquitous halftime festivities between the second and third quarters, and another five minute break between the third quarter and the end of the game. That's it. Is that clear?

The words "under God" will be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. They were not there in the original, they are not needed, they are exclusionary and divisive. They will be out!

Baseball hats will be worn with the bill facing forward. That is why they were shield the eyes from the sun. Anyone wearing a baseball hat with the bill backwards will have the hat confiscated and be issued a warning. Two violations will result in a sizable fine. Anyone attempting to be "hip," "cool," "with it," etc. by wearing the bill pointing other than directly forward will have the hat yanked off their head, filled with Crazy Glue, put back on forceably, and be marched directly to jail where they will be placed in solitary confinement until the hat falls off on its own.

All rap songs will be submitted to a panel prior to release. Any lyrics containing words derogatory to women or other minorities ("ho," "bitch," "muthafukka," etc.) will be stricken--which will leave most with no lyrics at all. "Songs" consisting of only one or two words endlessly repeated will be banned; all will be required to have recognizable sentence structure, and be sung so as to be intelligible to the average listener.

Pants will be worn so that the top is within three inches of the belly button. Those worn around the knees will yanked down to the ankles and the wearer required to wear them in that position while completing 50 hours of community service.

English will be the official language of the United States. No one will ever have to "Press 1 for English". Our forefathers came here from around the world and they learned to speak English, and they did it. To be able to become a citizen of a country it will be mandatory to speak its language.

Any corporation, company, or organization with a phone number for customers to call will be required to hire enough people to answer every call received within twenty seconds. Severe fines will be imposed for every second a customer has to sit on hold beyond the fourth ring.

"Your call is very important to us" messages will be banned. Pressing a succession of 53 buttons before being able to speak to an actual human being will be a criminal offense.

No corporate executive will be paid more than ten times the wage of the average worker. Bonuses will be limited to a turkey at Thanksgiving and a maximum $100 cash bonus at Christmas.

Campaigning politicians will, under law, be limited to telling voters what they will do to benefit their constituents, and be forbidden to criticize their opponents' records or character.

Handguns will be banned. Period. No argument, no debate. The NRA will limit itself to issues involving sport hunting, and be forbidden to engage in any form of political activity. All defensive weapons will be required to be non-lethal in nature (tazers, pepper spray, mace).

Every email message sent will be required to include the correct return email address of the sender, and stringent penalties will be imposed for obvious spam messages.

Every claim made by an advertiser must be proven to be true before it can be made.

"Don't ask, don't tell" will be struck down immediately, and penalties for hate crimes increased.

Parents will be held legally accountable for the actions and be required to actively participate in the education of their children.

Littering within 100 feet of a waste receptacle will result in stiff fines, to be doubled with every succeeding offense.

These are only some of the changes I plan to implement. I may list more later. Don't say I didn't warn you.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Friday, October 16, 2009


I've noticed--perversely, almost to my regret, but not quite--that the number of spam messages, especially of the "Make her scream with pleasure" and "Add 14" to your manhood" variety have fallen off drastically of late. I'd like to think it is because my internet server is finally getting wise, but I doubt it.

Anyway, here is the latest culling from the cyberspace garbage, with the "come on" of the message exactly as received, and my Pavlov's dog response.

"What's this?" (Why, this is spam! I'm surprised you didn't notice it. I spotted it a mile away.)

mary LAST_NAME "are you bored lonely and wanting some spice? I'm cathy and I..." (You're cathy? You just told me you were mary LAST_NAME? It's so hard to know who to trust these days.)

"Still dislike me?" (Hey, you're pretty perceptive for a spammer!)

"You can joinUp with our dating community without a nickel-being spent!" (Or, I can not join up with your dating community without a nickel-being spent." I like that option better.)

"Will the 90 day Wealth Challenge bring you financial triumph?" (Gee, that's a tough one. Let me take a really wild guess...)

"Make her want it 24/7" ("It"? Can you be a bit more specific? You spammers are so subtle it's difficult to know what you mean.)

"and the long-eared own standing watchover a dark churchyard laughed..." (and the short-tempered writer wading through his spam messages thought this was clever, but not clever enough to make him open it.)

"Assistance..Needed. Dear Friend, I am Mr. Zhang tiejun, Foreign operations manager, Bank of China, Hong Kong...." (Do you suppose I might ask how, out of 6 billion people on the planet, you wrote to me?)

"Become a photographer from the convenience and comfort of your home!" (Uh, doesn't that sort of limit my range of things to photograph?)

"Shall Life Renew these bodies of a Truth?" (I don't know...shall it? But first, what the hell are you talking about? ...Never mind, I don't want to know.)

"You're a jerk!" (Why thank you, you silver-tongued rascal you. That's sure to get me to read your post! But we'll have to wait until hell freezes over.)

"Unable to understand you. --It Blighty praps he sees his plucks all gone...." (Whereas you are a beacon of clairty.)

"Unable to call you." (Thank God.)

"Fall asleep, fall asleep--As I walked along the hallway and down the stairs of Gateshead Hall..." (Wow! Just those few words and I'm halfway there.)

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yesterdays and Today

If you've been following these blogs for any length of time, you know how I enjoy being able to travel back more than 50 years to my navy days, thanks to the letters I wrote to my parents at the time. I am infinitely grateful to my folks for keeping them. And as always, all I have to do is read one of those letters, and I am there.

Fifty-five years ago yesterday, I had been in the Naval Aviation Cadet program almost exactly two months, and was still in Pre-Flight training. Put today aside for the moment, and sit beside me in my barracks room in Pensacola, Florida, as I write.

Wednesday, October13, 1954

Today we saw a movie in P.T. on “How to Survive in the Tundra” (semi-arctic regions). It was one of those “how to survive on a broken compass & old fish heads” things. I thought it was terrifically funny (though it wasn’t supposed to be). Of course there were, among the six marooned men, several familiar characters. There was a George Washington Carver who could whip up a tasty dish out of a bunch of rock lichen; a Daniel Boone type, who could (and did) trap everything from a lemming (a glorified field mouse—they are delicious) to a caribou which, unfortunately, they missed—they had set up an ingenious device with two twigs and a 90-lb piece of sod, but the caribou outsmarted them (not a difficult task, I assure you); and, of course, there was the General-All-Around-Genius who could make more things out of one lousy parachute than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio. This latter genius also, in his spare time, made a dandy kite (out of the parachute, of course) for attracting airplanes—I expected at any moment to see him attach a key to it and discover electricity, but he never got around to it.

Now, to answer dad’s questions—I want just my one suitcase, so that when I come home Xmas I’ll have something larger than my duffle bag to pack my things in. Send them (or rather it) any time you want, just so it’s fairly soon. Yes, the band instruments are furnished, & I hope to stay on after moving to Corry Field or Whiting Field (which I’ll do on or about Nov. 26).

I surely am glad I joined the band! I told you, I think, all about what we may get to do. November 20 we are going to the Duke-South Carolina game (the Duke-Georgia Tech game would be too soon for us to be ready). We will all be flown to Durham, North Carolina for it. Last Saturday night we played for the Admiral at a football game, and he liked us so well he’s planned a “surprise” for us (which, it is rumored, may be a trip to the Army-Navy game!). Miami is still pending. Nov. 11 we’re to lead a parade in Pensacola. Four days before Xmas vacation, if all goes well, we will be flown to New York City to appear on “Toast of the Town”; then we’ll fly home from there if we want. God, I’d give my life’s blood to get to New York for four days!!

Haven’t been doing much of anything lately except study—haven’t even gone to a show in two weeks! Saturday morning we have band practice, but Saturday afternoon I hope to get downtown to pick up my picture. I hope you like it—it will have to be hung as it is too large to put atop the record cabinet.

Did the movies come? Have you looked at them yet? The large blank space at the beginning is where I had written “Welcome to Florida” in the white sand, but it was evidently too bright.

Well, I’d better close for now. I would appreciate your sending some money for new film. (Note—this is the first time I’ve ever written home for money! I’ve gotten $15 from you all the time I’ve been here, and that’s pretty inexpensive if you ask me).

I’ll try to write more this weekend. Till then I am
As Always

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Friday, October 09, 2009

Why Bother?

Here I am, again recovering from yet another Wagnerian storm of fury and self loathing. What puzzles me most is why I even bother to be surprised when something I do does not go the way it should go...or the way it would go--flawlessly--were you or any living creature with a modicum of motor skills and the I.Q. of a turnip doing it.

I suppose a bit of backstory is called for, here.

I related in an earlier blog my Friday from Hell--yet another in an endless string of examples of my cat-and-mouse game with life (I, of course, being the mouse)--in trying to get back to Chicago from my last trip to Rochester, MN after the return bus for which I held a ticket was cancelled without notice, thereby effectively stranding me 400+ miles from home with no other practical way to get back.

I had sent a letter to the bus company, Jefferson Bus Lines--remember that name--responsible for the problem, together with copies of the $226.00 in expenses I incurred as a result.

Got a reply yesterday telling me they were sorry, but it was clearly my responsibility to check to see if the bus might have been cancelled. (Excuse me?) But they magnanimously offered to refund a portion of my unused bus ticket (all of $36.00) if I sent them the unused ticket.

Now, these blogs are filled with ample evidence that I am not the brightest button in the jar, but I also am not totally stupid. So I should send them the original of the unused ticket and, when I write them after six months of not hearing from them again, I can get a letter saying "We never got it. Tough shit."

So I wrote them another letter this morning, and set about printing it out to send them.

Have you ever printed a letter using a computer? You select what you want to print. You turn on the printer. You go to "File" and select-and-press "Print" and the printer hums and whirs efficiently and dutifully produces a copy of what you requested.

YOU do that. I select what I want to print. I turn on the printer. I go to "File" and select-and-press "Print" and the printer hums and whirs and grabs six sheets of paper, wrinkles them up, and crams them just far enough inside itself for the "PAPER JAM" light to start flashing wildly. The printer's designers have carefully made the machine so that once something is caught within, it is almost impossible to remove. They did build in, however, a clever little digital display to assist the owner in resolving the problem in three easy steps.

Each of the three steps appears on the tiny screen for no longer than two seconds. Step one involves opening the door to provide an unhelpful front view of the printer's innards. Step two shows a hand pushing some sort of red lever to the left, and Step three involves closing the door. I caught on to Steps one and three fairly easily. The problem lay in Step two and pushing the red lever to the left. There is no red lever. There is no lever of any color. Just the exposed innards of the machine. I want very much to push the red lever to the left. Really, I do. I would be giddy with delight to be able to push it. If it were there, which it isn't.

I am of course by this point approaching apoplexy, exerting all my willpower to prevent myself from grabbing the printer and throwing it through the unopened window.

I eventually get the jammed paper out of the machine. Hoping for the best, I press the printer's "Off" button, planning to let it rest and consider the error of its ways, then restart it and hope it's learned its lesson. The machine stays on. I press "Off" again. Five times. It stays on. I clamor under the desk trying to figure out which one of the 247 plugs and wires under there is the one for the printer. One by one I pull out 246 of the plugs, checking to see if it is the one for the printer. It is not. The 247th one is.

I let everything rest for a minute, then plug it back in. I go to "File", select-and-press "Print" and the machine hums and whirs and politely takes one sheet of paper from the stack, ingests it, then spits it out, blank. Before I can do anything, it takes in and spits out four other blank sheets of paper in rapid succession, then stops halfway through the fifth sheet, leaving it half in and half out of the machine. The printer, both it and I know full well, is sticking its tongue out at me.

I yank it out and call my long-suffering friend Gary. He comes up to my apartment, sits at the computer, goes to "File," selects and hits "Print" and the machine hums and whirs and takes one sheet of paper from the stack and dutiful produces the letter I have been trying to print for the past hour and a half.

Gary, as always, looks at me with a sad little smile that so clearly says "poor, hopeless Roger," shakes his head, and leaves. And I sit down to write this blog and try not to cry.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I suppose that for someone whose mind operates like a runaway concrete mixer, it is not surprising that when it comes to my daily life, I so seldom actually stop to think before I do something. It has been one of the banes of my existence (and my existence is filled with banes of various shapes and sizes). I never allow myself to contemplate where I might have gotten in life had I not had to spend so much time constantly going back to retrace my steps in attempting to undo mistakes made through lack of thinking ahead.

I take some small comfort in the fact that I cannot claim a patent on this problem, and that--hard as it may be for me to realize--others actually make even more astoundingly stupid act-first-think-later mistakes than I. Today's paper, for example, had an article of a woman who was filling a gas can and, in order to see how much gas was already in the can, used a cigarette lighter to look inside. Hospital emergency rooms...and morgues...are filled with similar examples. The annual Darwin Awards are absolute gems of cases of people who, by not thinking ahead, to quote the awards, "improve the human gene pool by leaving it." I take great comfort in the Darwin Awards.

Assumptions are dangerous whenever they are used, as I so often use them, in lieu of thinking. When I set my keys down, I of course know exactly where I put them. I therefore automatically assume that three minutes later I will still remember where they are. Wrong. I can and do forget them within the time and space required to take three steps in any direction. Then begins the increasingly frenzied search accompanied by mounting self-fury for being so incredibly stupid as to have lost them in the first place. I find myself looking in places I know full well I'd not been near in days. I look in the cupboards. I look in the refrigerator. I look under every piece of furniture in the apartment. I look in the pockets of pants I've not worn all week. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They have vanished.

Until they show up. And then I have a "well of course that's where they were" moment and totally forget the incident until the next time it happens. (I've always admired the "Duh!" answer to the classic puzzle, "Why is something you're looking for always in the very last place you look?": "Because when you find it you stop looking." Truly profound.)

Untold fortunes have been made on the safe bet that people will act before they think. I read, not too long ago, that the internet is flooded with some 4 billion spam messages every day--though I think that's a very conservative estimate. Fully 99.9 percent of that number are predicated on the people receiving them not taking a single moment to use one iota of logic in thinking about what the message really says. Do none of them stop to wonder why out of the world's population of over 6 billion people, the General Operations Manager of the Hong Kong Bank of China is writing to them to offer untold millions of dollars in exchange for participation in a scheme so devoid of logic that it would give a cocker spaniel pause? The spammers know full well that greed trumps logic nine times out of ten.

And I think yet again of H.L. Mencken's classic observation that "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Why? Because intelligence requires thinking.

What I find particularly sad and infinitely infuriating is that at the core, not thinking is linked to the basic decency of each human soul, which makes people want to believe what they're told, and an inherent resistance to believe that someone might be untruthful. There are no words adequate to describe those despicable individuals who willingly relinquish every link to humanity but their DNA, and who make it their life's work to destroy the very concept of trust among those who can least afford to lose it. (I am the perfect example of why handguns should be banned, for I sincerely believe that confronted with a room full of these creatures, I would have absolutely no compunction about shooting as many of them as I could.)

Well, again it goes back to a paraphrase of the old saw: "You can lead a man to logic, but you cannot make him think."

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at

Friday, October 02, 2009


I do not handle frustration well. I do not handle many things well, but that's fuel for a future blog.

One would think that having spent a great portion of one's life being frustrated, one would become used to it. One would be wrong.

I'm sure 20 years or so on an analyst's couch, sorting though the myriads of colorful and sometimes odorous details which make up every minute of my life, would produce the conclusion that my problem rests with my absolute conviction that the universe revolves around me, and that therefore I should have complete control over everything at all times. Well, we can save the 20 years because I know that already.

The problem lies in recognizing something on an intellectual level and acknowledging it on an emotional level. My logic and my emotions are continually in a pitched battle over which will have control. Were I you, I would not place much money on logic.

Logic tells me I am a reasonably intelligent human being, and with that thought comes loud and raucous laughter from my emotions. The simple fact is that I have never, ever been in complete control of my emotions, which as I have often said never really got beyond the "terrible twos" stage of development. When I want something, I want it, and I want it now and can see no reason why I cannot have it.

That I have never understood life, my place in it, or how I am expected to react to also plays a large role in my own little civil war. I see the world, emotionally, pretty much as a toddler sees it. If it's pretty, I want it. And I do not take "no" for an answer. My logic, which spends a great deal of its time shaking its head sadly and sighing, does its very best to explain what it has learned of the world through reading and observing other people. My emotion totally disregards it. I'm the center of the universe, fer chrissakes! How can things not go the way I want them to?

How can everyone else on the planet with 1/10th my intelligence (ego, anyone?) do things with total, effortless ease, get it right the first time and, most insulting of all to my emotions, not think a thing of it. They wouldn't write instruction manuals, or give careful, full-color illustrated "Insert Tab A into Slot B" directions for assembling a cardboard box if anyone else but me could not understand them.

And once something...anything...triggers my frustration response, all bets are off. My mind totally shuts down to the point where I would be hard pressed to tell you my own name. All rational thought ceases.

I know full well that frustration is a part of life...I'd imagine even you experience it from time to time. But everyone else seems have a built in mental safety switch which I do not have, and which kicks in, allowing them, after perhaps a moment or two of distress, to recover, calm down, and get on with their lives. I can best describe my reaction to frustration by comparing it to pictures of the World Trade Center collapse. Total, utter, instantaneous destruction with no hope for anyone's survival.

I find it ironic that my totally disproportionate emotional reaction to things which trigger my frustration is directly related to my totally disproportionate sense of my own importance. Because I am the center of the universe, how can this be happening to me? How can I be so stupid? My frustration quickly, like the falling towers, dissolves into rage and self loathing so intense it often, and sincerely, frightens me.

It just struck me that this blog may be an attempt by my logical side to subtly convince my emotions not to over-react so strongly. Unfortunately, it's never worked before, and I wouldn't hold my breath on its working this time, either.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at, or drop me a note at