Neo-Hippie Ramblings - I'm a Non-Conformist Just Like All My Friends: December 2004

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Dumped my Vice Fund shares

It hurt, because the fund is doing really well. I bought most of my shares at under $8/share. It's well over $15 now, and still going up.

A while ago, I told my wife what the fund was (alcohol, tobacco, gambling and defense industries), and that I had moved some 401k money into it. Her response was "And you're okay with that?"

I thought I was at the time, but's been bugging me ever since. If this country were spending it's defense budget on defense, I guess I would still be okay with it. Prohibition has never done anything but more harm, so I don't have a problem with any of the other 'vice' industries. But as things stand, the defense portion is blood money and I can't get around that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Headline: Tsunamis in Asia - Up to 1/3 of Victims Believed to Be Children

pacific summer
babies laugh, dressed for the sun
blossoms crushed, adrift

Republican Joke

I love it. Snowplow ads have replaced the Republican garbage on my adbar. Google must have figured out where I live. Hey, man, click one. My kid's gonna need orthodontics. :(

Shoot, the sun's coming up so I'd better make this quick...

Republican joke:

A little old lady calls 911.

Old Lady: "Help, send the police! There's a Democrat jerking off on my front porch!"

911 Dispatch: "How do you know it's a Democrat?"

Old Lady: "Easy. If he were a Republican, he'd be trying to fuck me."

Monday, December 27, 2004

25.5 Hours - Christmas Eve through Christmas

12/24 - 9:00 pm - Get off the phone with our doctor, who recommends we take our 23 mo. old, E., to the ER. Her eyes are swelling with a nasty case of what looks to be pinkeye. Have to get her to sleep first in order to get her dressed. Otherwise, she'll fight and scream until she makes herself puke. My wife P. lays down with our 4 year old, A., to get her calmed down enough from Santicipation to sleep.

12/24 10:00 pm - Leave for the ER - the thermostat in the car says 11F. I can feel the ice crystals forming around my nose hairs when I breathe in. E. wakes up and starts crying and arching her back as soon as I put her in the car seat -- too cold for her, too!

12/24 10:20 pm - Car is finally getting comfortably warm as we approach the hospital. More crying on the way from the lot to the ER.

12/24 10:30 pm - In triage. Some clueless resident is talking to E. like she's twelve. She's screaming because he's trying to get a temp in her ear. We can hardly get near her ears with a washcloth - forget the loud stranger with the cold instrument! He makes a few lame attempts (as I try to pin her to my shoulder without hurting her) and finally records it as 96F.

12/24 10:40 pm - Standing in front of the outpatient window holding E. while a doctor and a nurse about 20 feet behind the window pretend they can't see me. After 3 minutes of staring directly at them with the Death Gaze, the doctor says "Somebody will be with you in a minute." (Thanks asshole, standing here holding a 30 lb toddler while you chat is just so comfortable.)

12/24 10:45 pm - Another nurse (the one who apparently does the real work) returns and I'm directed to a room. After a minute the same doctor shows up, having torn himself away from Hello Nurse. E. cries and turns away when he tries to pull her swollen eyelid open to look. Repeat three times. He leaves, saying he'll come back when she perks up a little. (Perk this up, buddy...) I talk to her for a few minutes and get her to wake up a bit.

12/24 11:00 pm - After some more crying and a struggle, we finally hold her down enough to get a good look at her eyes. He doesn't feel the swelling warrants a systemic antibiotic, so we're sent home with a prescription for sulfa eyedrops.

12/24 11:10 pm - Checkout, copay and another walk in the bitter cold.

12/24 11:20 pm - Don't know if anything will be open tomorrow, so we stop at a 24 hour pharmacy to fill the prescription. Another walk in the cold. She's totally out this time and doesn't even flinch.

12/24 11:40 pm - You'd be amazed at the number of people shopping at CVS at 11:30 pm on Christmas eve. Prescription is filled, another walk in the cold, and we're finally headed home.

12/24 11:55 pm - Home again, last walk in the cold. Take E. up to bed, wake P. and start wrapping presents.

12/25 2:00 am - Santa duty is done. Up to bed and crash.

12/25 6:45 am - A. is awake and ready to see what Santa brought. Lights are on and way too bright. This must be kind of like what a chloroformed frog pinned to a dissecting tray must feel like.

12/25 7:15 am - Drag myself out of bed and downstairs, with E. in tow. Open gifts. Next year I propose a concept called "Naked Christmas". Same idea as usual, but without wrapping paper. All the toys are under a single white sheet and are all tagged with sticky notes. The kids come down, lift up the sheet and find their names. No muss - no fuss.

12/25 8:00 am - Time to start cooking and cleaning. And by cleaning I mean 'stash the mess.' But first it's time to give the first of 20 doses of eyedrops. Screaming, thrashing, more screaming, a bit of kicking and it's done. 19 doses to go. 4 hours until the family starts to arrive...

12/25 11:00 am - Our nephew G. and his mom arrive. (Long, unpleasant story for another day. G. is 7 and lives with us. We have custody and visitation is by mutual agreement.) He's been staying with mom most of Christmas. Looks to me like her patience is wearing a bit thin, but I don't say anything.

12/25 1:30 pm - A peanut butter pie, 3 quarts of cranberry sherbet, a green bean casserole, two trays of canned biscuits, a batch of rosemary potatoes, half a reheated turkey from last weekend's Sunday dinner, a saucepan of giblet gravy, globs of instant mashed potatoes, some canned corn and a honey-mustard glazed ham are all ready to eat, or pretty close to it. Not bad for having only about ±24 hours notice that I would need to cook Christmas dinner for the crew. (Actually, I should have assumed it, but didn't plan ahead. My own fault...)

With 18 people packed into our little house and everything I have to do, I've totally missed the kids opening the gifts from family. It'll probably be a week before I figure out who got what from whom.

12/25 2:00 pm - E. has fallen asleep in the middle of the living room. Never mind all the kids running around, people talking and the Christmas music -- she's out cold.


12/25 3:30 pm - Things are winding down as people start to pack up and go. G. was exhausted and fell asleep in his room.

12/25 6:00 pm - Call my family in southwest PA to say Merry Christmas. A. and G. are playing nicely upstairs while E. plays with one of her new Barney toys downstairs.

12/25 8:00 pm - Take G. to stay overnight at P's parents. A. goes along for the ride. We drive around afterwards to look at lights and she falls asleep (which was the ulterior motive for bringing her anyway).

12/25 9:00 pm - Take A. up to bed. Watch Barney with E. and P. until about 10, when E's eyelids start to droop.

12/25 10:30 pm - Head up to bed with a glass of water and a milk bottle packed with an ice pack for the middle of the night.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I went to the polls this November and all I got was a lousy Curious George puppet

Might as well make things as difficult for him as possible. Here are some suggestions:

And if you need a good laugh:

Wrapping Christmas presents...

...should probably feel less like work and more like fun. It's 12:30 am and I have to get up in a little less than 5 hours.

Just enough time to fire up the newsreader and hit alt.drugs.pot before bed.

From the headers alone I'll be able to see if...
  1. ADP's resident cross-posting kook (who's been calling himself Colonel Polyps, at present) has been stirring up trouble on the AA, law enforcement or military groups
  2. The transgendered Republican gadfly (Lindsay Lohanjob, at present) is plugging dolphin-unsafe tuna or virgin-timber toothpicks
  3. Some timid triple-anonymous lurker got up the guts to post and ask if he'll pass his piss test tomorrow after chain smoking gravity bongs for six weeks straight (good luck with that, dude!)

Fun stuff.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Erie - One of the nicest winter tourist spots in the ninth circle of hell

I just can't wait for the first really big lake effect snowstorm to hit Erie.

At zero hour, leaving for work: City plow drivers are being interviewed on TV, crying that they haven't gotten enough work yet this year. Snow is coming down more or less sideways, your footprints on the sidewalk are almost buried by the time it takes you to get to your car. People are driving even more stupidly than usual -- painfully slow ('hats' in LearningToDrives and Lincoln Towncars) or recklessly fast (4x4 pickup owners who've never hauled anything other than their own beer bellies). The six main east-west streets (Bayfront, 6th, 12th, 18th, 26th, 38th) and four north-south streets (East, State, Peach and Liberty) have been plowed sometime within the past 2 hours -- anything else, including I-79 and I-90, good freakin luck.

After work, 9 hours later: Main streets have been plowed once or twice more, and a few secondary streets have had a single pass. Every parked car is totally buried or there's a recent excavation site. Drivers are still suffering cranial-rectal inversion.

Day 2, leaving for work: Shovel the car out of the chunks of dirty ice that the plow buried it in. The snow on the side streets is starting to pack down hard as they still haven't been plowed. No sign of any salt being laid down anywhere, even on the main streets. Ice dunes are starting to form between the streets and the sidewalks. Most people are starting to remember how to drive in the snow, although you'll still spot moments of pure idiocy. Downtown, all the winos and gang bangers are walking in the middle of the street instead of on the sidewalks. They might choose to move out of the way when your car drives up behind them.

Day 2, after work: During the day, the sun warmed up the packed snow enough to melt it slightly, and now that it's dropped down to 12F, there's a solid sheet of ice that runs the entire length of the city. 'Hat' speed makes sense now. The dumbasses in the 4x4s are playing demolition derby, because not even a 4WD with studded snow tires will stop without sliding when you're tailgating someone at 45 mph and have to spike the brakes suddenly. Road salt, what's that?

Day 3, leaving for work: City plow drivers are being interviewed on TV, crying that they can't keep up and have to work too much overtime. Chip the car out of blackened hardpack ice after climbing over a 3 foot mound of the same. Slip, slide, dodge scary pedestrians in leather Chicago Bulls jackets, toboggans and Nikes. (If you can afford a leather Bulls jacket, can't you afford some boots???)

Day 3, after work: Repeat morning.

And so on... Eventually the roads dry out (until the next snowstorm), but the sidewalk crust just accumulates and hardens and doesn't melt until April or May.

What joy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What the hell is a neo-hippie?

Well, it sounded good when I had to come up with a title.

Ok, if I'm going to play at starting a movement, here are some basic tenets:

The means becomes the end. We cannot separate what we might wish to become from the way in which we become that thing. Or, as Emma Goldman put it:
"There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another... All human experience teaches that methods and means cannot be separated from the ultimate aim."

Some things in life are like rocks, in that we can build with them or we can be broken by them. Here are the few I can think of offhand, but there are probably more:
  • Money - It pays to read the fine print. Money is not the root of all evil; the love of money is the root of all evil. Money is a powerful tool by which we can acquire things we need and things we want. Where we tend to go off track is in confusing the needs with the wants. If you want to hold hands and sing kumbiyah by candlelight, fine. But do it because you want to, not because you can't afford to pay the electric and your kids are sitting in the dark.

  • Sex - We make a huge deal out of all the wrong things. Wouldn't the United States be a far better place if we totally freaked out about the proliferation of child pornography and human trafficking instead of gay marriage, prostitution among consenting adults, and Janet Jackson's nipple???

    It seems absurd and obscene that many parents will allow their teenage children to be exposed to graphic violence, but not to tasteful expressions of sexual love. Which of the two represents unacceptable adult behavior?

  • Drugs - Prohibition doesn't work. Never has, never will. Spores from psilocybin mushrooms have been found in the same caves where our distant ancestors first recorded the experience of being human. A focus on responsible, adult drug use and harm reduction would serve us far better than the money pit that the war on drugs has become.

    Guess what? Thirty-some years after Nixon ignored his own commission's findings and started targeting pot smokers, I can still drive downtown and buy a 1/4 oz of good weed with no problem. Millions of Americans (and disproportionately non-white Americans, at that) are in jail for no reason other than drug possession. But supply and demand are totally unaffected. We've simply encouraged an arms race between the police and organized crime - one which has stripped us of basic constitutional rights in the process.

  • Religion - A personal faith in a higher being and a corresponding fellowship with other people is good. That's the true essence of spirituality, a basic human trait.

    A relationship in which other people dictate what God wants of you is bad. That's control and manipulation - what's been called the "tyranny of the masses".

Be deadly silly. If it's absurd, laugh at it. If it's absurd and it stinks, call it shit while you laugh at it. The ridicule of outrageous behavior and thinking is one of the most powerful political weapons that a free society has.

When the planes hit the towers, I was as sick and angry as anyone. But when Bush got on the television and said that it was because the "terrorists hated our freedom" I knew our country was in deep shit, but not from terrorists.

Repeat this mantra three times. If this country's freedom is headed down the crapper, then I shall be the turd that clogs the bowl and floods the floor. ;)

Monday, December 20, 2004

Why else is George W. Bush like Adolf Hitler?

Well, the latest answer is that he's been named Time magazine's "Person of the Year".