Sunday, September 14, 2014

Liver! … And Why I became a Vegetarian

Liver! … And Why I became a Vegetarian

The most horrible food I have ever tasted, truly the most foul, including the time I tried Scottish Haggis, is my own mother’s home cooked liver.  Actually, at the time I kind of liked the haggis.  But I was like maybe nine years old and when hungry I was known to eat cold burnt toast.  I once ate an entire package of saltine crackers with nothing but butter spread thickly on each cracker.

But my mother’s fried liver and onions?  Kill me first.  My brother and sister and I held a meal less vigil every night we even smelled her liver and onions.  In fact many of those nights I had to leave the house.  It tasted like a slab of burnt blood.  Which is to say I have never actually tasted a slab of burnt blood, but that is what my imagination conjures up.  Burnt blood.  Dry, ugly brown, chalk-like burnt blood.

I did like fried onions, but if they had shared the pan with her liver, well, forget it.

My father, who grew up on a farm just like my mother, loved her liver and onions.  He was a big man though and had a big man appetite and wasn’t much of an epicure.  Meat and potatoes.  Steak, nearly raw.  Lots of bacon.  He would eat a brick if it had bacon on it.  And he did not have any aspirations to become an epicure.  Down home on the farm and he liked his food that way.

Now my father did become an important man in the U.S. military, but his food preferences remained plain.  My mother became more ambitious in her desire to experience a wider range of delicacies and epicurean delights as my father’s position rose.  And as her children we were treated to, or experimented upon – depending on your view point – lots of different world cultural food like adventures.

I did try fried grasshoppers – not bad.  Garden snails – quite good.  English eel – never again.  Actually we lived in England for three years, so I tried a lot of English treats.  Most of it was pretty bland or simply, “Why would you cook anything like this?”  The only vegetables the English ate (at that time) were boiled into a sludge.  Generally a kind of puke beige sludge.  With globs of some kind of meat lard blobbishness floating in it.

English cabbage – what is this?  Bread pudding – loved that with their rum sauce and raisins.  Meat pies – okay, but what are those green pills in it?  Oh, those are peas.  Why are those peas so damned hard?  Bangers ‘n mash – salty and stay close to a restroom.  Fish ‘n chips (wrapped in a newspaper) with salt ‘n vinegar – delicious.  Fish ‘n chips – best thing about England. 

Now Scottish food is quite different, starting with the haggis.  The best thing about Scotland, other than being quite beautiful when it ain’t raining – and it’s raining most of the time – is the scones.  Scottish scones are almost worth the trip alone.

But this blog is about how and why I became a vegetarian, almost forty years ago. 
Pretty simple really.  I married a vegetarian and she didn’t cook meat.  Wouldn’t even cook in a pan that had had meat cooked in it.  So all of the cookware I owned at the time went into the garbage.  Had to buy all new stuff.  But she was a really, still is, good cook and after a few years I stopped thinking about meat.  So much so that now when I even smell meat, my mind says, “What the hell is that?”  My mouth does not water.  Just conditioning, really.  If you’ve never smelled coconut milk, you wouldn’t think of it as a food.

My wife doesn't, nor has ever indicated, that she cared one way or another if I did chose to eat meat.  Just not at home and she won't cook it.

I have experienced very good health all these years without meat.  I’ve done a lot of stuff that requires pretty demanding stamina and never had a problem keeping up with or even staying ahead of nearly everyone else.  So the argument that, as humans, we need to eat meat, I have found is mostly bogus – at least in my life it has proven to be bogus.  You do what you want, I don’t care.

It was mostly that liver though.  After nearly forty years, just the smell of cooking meat makes me think of my mother’s fried liver ‘n onions and I get queasy.  Life is kind of funny that way.  Sometimes, one very seemingly insignicant experience can stick with us like forever and we can’t seem to overcome it. 

I uncovered, by mistake, a ground wasp hive and got stung six times in a nano-second.  Hurt like bullets – not afraid of wasps.  Still hate liver.  Can’t stand burnt oatmeal cookies.  Still love oatmeal cookies that aren’t burnt.  Still hate liver.  Motorcycle fell over once and the muffler burnt my leg right down to the muscle layer – still ride my bike.  Still hate liver.  Don’t eat meat, ‘cause it reminds me of liver.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back to Television – Drinking Again?

Back to Television – Drinking Again?

It would seem there is union requirement for television actors to be doing something, apparently anything, with their hands during every scene.  This is especially true when they are having a one on one, two person, type of meeting; read dialogue.  They can’t just sit down and talk.  Or stand there and talk, hands in their pockets, picking their noses, or some real life natural kind of thing.  (Adjusting their underwear?)

A drink of some kind must be present.  At least offered and almost always accepted – a couple fingers of scotch or whiskey of some sort is most common.  Gotta have that drink in their hand or they can’t seem to remember their lines.  Always every freakin’ scene in every freakin’ show where two people are talking.

There is one show I particularly like where the overall theme is a couple of police type brothers live with their wise and always calm father.  These guys will never be seen in their little home without having a beer in their hands and several empties on the table.  If anyone of them enters a room where the others are, the first thing out of his mouth is, “Anybody want a beer?”  In any other situation we might calls these guys “bums” (?), or maybe lushes, beer heads(?).  Slobs(?)

Since nobody can smoke anymore, like nobody ever smokes anymore?  Right … Smoking, according to American television is right down there somewhere below pedophilia or snorting crack or maybe both at the same time.  I remember when everybody on television smoked.  Everybody!  All the time – like factory chimneys.  Even the television Doctors in television hospitals smoked when they were talking to television patients … who were also smoking.  Game shows where all the panelists were smoking and the MC was smoking through the entire program, only to take commercial break to talk about the wonders of a particular brand of cigarette.

Now everybody has to have a drink in their hand or they can’t seem to function.  During office hours  at the Police Headquarters, they’re slammin’ back cup after cup of coffee.  Or meeting up in the coffee room where they are making coffee and dumping about fifteen sugars into a ratty paper cup and a pint of some (one assumes) non-dairy coffee creamer.  The fiddling with the sugar and non-dairy creamer is, of course, just to occupy their hands, once again.  I mean nobody could actually drink a cup of coffee with that much sugar and cream in it, without gagging.  Wait a minute I think I just described a Starbucks cappacino…  Okay forget that part.

Once the end of the day work bell has sounded, it’s drinky-poo time.  You can always tell the good cops from the corrupt bad cops by the drinks they drink in the local hangout, as explained in a previous blog about meeting up for a beer after every 47 minute adventure.  Good cops drink beer and bad cops drink hard liquor.  Because good cops are plain speakin’ good ole American boys who love their mothers and a beer after work is just straight (why aren’t there any good gay cops) and … well, good and what ya ought do if you’re good cop.  Bad cops, in their other holster are … well, alcoholics.

Bad politicians always have a strong hard drink the minute they are behind a closed door.  These guys always seem to have a fully stocked wet bar in their offices, with, I might add, where the hooch is always in decanters.  (Who does this for them?  Never the store shelf bottle, always in a decanter.  Crystal with a knobby stopper.  Somebody’s pouring that stuff in there for them.  God knows they would never do such a menial task themselves.)

You can tell immediately if the next actor in on the scene is a good guy or a bad guy.  The baddy always offers the entering actor a drink.  If the new guy on the scene takes the drink – woah! He is also a bad guy.  If he says “No”, then he’s a good guy.  It’s a little Hollywood secret (yeah, like none of the 100 million viewers haven’t figured it out – ever.)  When a good cop drinks hard liquor, he’s always at home alone.  Why are these guys always so dedicated they never seem to have significant others – anyway.  There he/she is knockin’ back at least two or three doubles, alone, in a dark room (sepia toned room … always sepia toned).  As I remember, drinking alone is one of the warning signs of something … what was that?  Oh yeah!  Drinking alone is one strong indication that yer a drunk!

Okay, not to complain and not offer a solution.  Why not try this:  the good cop is always seen knockin’ back a bottle of a health drink?  Say carrot juice.  Or a protein drink.  Too much?  Too far out there?  Maybe he/she simply stands there with his/her hands in his/her pockets.  There was one famous TV detective who was always sucking on lollypops because he was trying to quite smoking.  And as I understand it that was just something the actor himself came up with.  An ad lib.  The hack writers never would have thought of it.  That was at least twenty years ago and no-ho-body has come up with anything approaching that originality since.

Maybe the TV writers should shadow actual characters they are writing about.  Like follow one after work.  Hey, he/she went home.  Ate dinner with the family, sat in the TV room with wife/husband, watched some show, went to bed.  Got up and went to work again.  Didn’t get drunk, didn’t slap husband/wife around, didn’t traumatize the kids or kick the dog.  Didn’t sneak in a call and accept a bribe or plan a hit on some rival. 

Sigh … well, at least one of them is always building a boat in his basement.  A boat you can just tell he is never going to get out of that basement.  But he’s got a hobby.  Of course, he is divorced – ‘cause he’s so consumed with work.  So he’s alone.  Of course.  And, of course, while he’s working on that boat what is he also doing?  Knockin’ back some kind of whisky!  Even working on a boat he’s gotta be tanked.

I’ve lived for thirty years without drinking alcohol and these guys can’t make it for 47 minutes.  I’m no saint, just sayin’ …

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Today I Was In Court

Today I Was In Court

Traffic court and it was my fault.
Yes – I had an accident and it was my fault.  Nobody was hurt, except me and my ribs.  Seat belts hurt!!

Oh, I’m a rule follower by near obsession.  I can break rules I think are really stupid, but the seat belt law is not stupid AND I wear a motorcycle helmet whenever riding.  Even in states where it is not a law.  Those are odds I do not wish to test and I thank my Angels.  That seat belt saved my life.

Anyhoo … the accident details aren’t important.  I pleaded no contest to loosing my concentration and taking out a mailbox on a ve-hery  narrow country road.  I got a $60 fine and have to take a driving course.  Stupidity.  That was me.

However, I was scared to death.  Fear and panic racked me.  I have never, in my life been in a real American court.  Like everyone else, I’ve seen hundreds on TV.  But never actually, in real life, been in one.  Wait!  I think I got married in one like fifty some years ago.  ‘Nother story.  “Nother blog.

So my appointment before Hiz Honor was – well I was there an hour early.  Rules.  I’m never been late for anything.  Always early.  I take hardcopy books to the movie theater because I’m often way early. 

As I sit there, four rows in front of my wife, the frog in my throat gets bigger and bigger.  Rising higher and higher.  “Water!” “I need water!” Both water fountains in the court hallway had signs on them that said, “Not working.”  Figures.  I have a theory about that.  You can’t take anti-anxiety medication without a sip of water.  Or, any kind of medication I would assume.  Cuts down on the Court Hallway getting stoked or stoned, as it were.

The bailiff calls out, “All rise.  The Fifth County Court of Hambone County of the State of South Panic is now in session.  Judge Hiram Higgelby presiding.  (Not a real name.  In fact, none of the names I will use are real.)”  A tallish Judgelike thinnish man walks in and sits down behind the Judging place. 

Bailiff says, “Be seated.”

There was one young lady and me and five Police Deputies.  Oh and a real frumpy looking older gentleman who looked like a true frumpy southern lawyer should look.  Frumpness wearing a bow tie.  Really?  A bad suit that wouldn’t button over his lifetime accumulation of southern b-b-q ribs and grits and a bow tie?  Stereotype?  Right down to the tassel loafers.

We all sit down.

Hiz Honor calls out, in a very Judgelike manner, but I have to say actually quite calmly, “Joseph Blow”.  Again not a real name.  We all sit there for what seems like nearly five minutes while nothing happens, except the Judge making notes on some papers and generally being very presiding-like.

A door to the side of the Court Room opens and a Police Officer walks in and stands by the door.  Few minutes later a really tall super skinny guy walks in.  He’s wearing an orange jumpsuit and walking strangely because his ankles are shackled together.  Behind him is another Police Officer holding his elbow – with the intent of great authority, I might add.  So now we have seven Policemen, all of them easily over six feet tall, the bailiff, who must be taller than any of them and he’s also wearing a gun and the utility Batman belt stuff all the Law Officers seem to wear.

Uh, cuffs, mace, Tasers, what all?  Swiss Army knife?

And one very short Policewoman, also Batman belt and a very weird hairdo … kind of like a mushroom.  All poofed up on top and razor trimmed around her ears and neck.  Strange hairdo.  She comes up to about the elbows on the other Law enforcement.  Kind of chunky figure.  Did not look mean though, more officially like.

You could tell she’d been on the force for a while.

The Judge waves the orange jumpsuit up to the bench.  Hiz Honor's place is called “the bench”, right?  A person sits down on a park bench and, somehow, I can barely see over this Judge’s bench.  Judge reads off a list of crimes being considered against the orange jumpsuit.  “Grand Larceny this and Grand Larceny that.  Intention to steal to sell.  Breaking and entering.  Possession of gardening tools without the obvious intent to garden. Etc. etc.”  For nearly another five minutes the Judge reads off all the bad decisions this poor schlub has made.

He stand there – orange jumpsuit guy.  Staring at the Judge like the Judge was a concert poster on the wall and he, orange jumpsuit, couldn’t read.  Confused.  Dazed.  Oddly attentive.  I’m thinking, “That poor schlub should’ve stolen a TV and stayed home to watch it.  He’d be in a lot less trouble.”

So the Judge asks the plaintiff (orange jumpsuit #1) some questions about if he has a job or some source of income and what cars he owns and stuff.  This is to determine if he can afford a lawyer.  Which it seems is if he can’t, Bobby Lee Bowtie Esq. will become his Court Appointed lawyer.  Judge asks plaintiff #1 if this is his choice; a court appointed lawyer.  Mr. Grand Larceny #1 nods his head and apparently the deal is struck and they go to finding a new court date to take the next step, which apparently is another trial.

What hits me at the moment orange jumpsuit #1 and his new lawyer raise their hands to swear the oath to “tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is that, yes, in fact, this is real.  This person is not a TV criminal, he is a real life criminal.  Until proven otherwise, he is innocent.  It would seem though, that maybe there is an apparent good reason to believe he actually did break into somebody’s property and steal stuff.  That actually if you ran into him on the street and he felt the need, or simple desire, to hurt you, he would do that.

And the huge tall Officers of the law, and the little one with the mushroom hairdo, would, and could, with possible force, up to and including – shoot bullets, attempt to stop him. 

This is a tiny backwater, backwoods town.  People tend to not lock their houses and to leave the keys in their cars.  Actual crime occurring never struck to me as even being possible.  That only happened within the little magic box of my television and only for 47 minutes at a time. 

Plaintiff #1 shuffles out, anklets clanking.  Mr. Judge calls out, “Larry Jimmy Doowangie” (not a real name or even possibly close to a real name).  We wait another five minutes and in shuffles, also with ankle bracelets, plaintiff #2.  I am not a tiny person, but this guy and nearly everyone else in the courtroom, with the exception of mushroom hairdo, are making feel as though I may just be the only citizen of Lilliput here.

The same scenario as plaintiff #1 is carried out.  The main difference being that this guy has apparently never been caught before, because he keeps asking the Judge what the Judge thinks he ought to do.  And the judge keeps telling him that he, the Judge, won’t do that and that he, the plaintiff, must decide.  And he, the plaintiff is simply not getting the message.

Finally bow-tie frump steps up and whispers to plaintiff #2, they all raise their right hands, sign some papers and #2 clanks and shuffles out.

The Judge calls out the names of several more people, who are apparently no-shows.  I would never in my wildest dreams consider not showing up to court when I am told by a Police Deputy to show up.  And I show up an hour early!  And some people don’t even bother to show up.  One thing I have learned in life is that if you ignore problems they tend to become bigger problems.

Finally I go up to the bench.  My own attending Deputy reads off his findings and observations and his citation.  The Judge asks me a few questions, in a very kindly fashion I might add.  He pronounces judgment and it’s over.  For two months I have been deeply and profoundly dreading this moment and in less than five minutes, it’s over.  In my mind “I have won”.  The judgment could not have been better and more in my favor.

I had not made a decision; I had just been inattentive and stupid.  It’s just that the whole experience left me drained.  Limp.  I could have, in an instant had my whole life screwed by the decision of one person. And there are truly – truly true ­ - people who truly true decide to do some really dumb shit and get caught and are forced to wear really ugly orange clothes and walk around with chains on their ankles.  They have to spend days in a small confined space with big guys carrying real guns staring at them, just waiting for them to make another stupid decision.

That going to school, learning to read, following the rules, being honest and productive does seem to have its rewards.  Breaking the rules can be a really really bad decision in the real world.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nobody ever makes a Mistake? (??)

A new Art lesson first.

Nobody ever makes a Mistake?

Once again, television and movies.  I’ve just got some of this strange silliness on my mind.

How is it that on television and in the movies the computer techie geeks never make a typo, mistake, that is hit the wrong key by mistake?  I’ve been typing for nearly sixty years.  I learned in High School.  Took a yearlong course in typing.  Used to be called Blind Typing or Touch Typing.  You were not allowed to even look at the keyboard and the ones we had did not have the little letters and numbers marked on them.

I know how to type, or qwerty keyboard.  A whole year and I got to nearly seventy words a minute – when I was fourteen years old.  100% accuracy and 70 wpm.  That’s a good typer (typist).  I was so good that when I got drafted during the Viet Nam War and all the draftees, or shitheads as we were referred to, were tested, I moved right up into communications.  Big deal?  Well, it immediately cut me out of the Infantry Pool, which meant no rice paddies in the jungle and having to shoot at people.

That was a good thing.  Right?  Well, for me it was.

Then because I was so fast at typing, I got moved into telecommunications.  That meant even more training and put me on a Teletype machine inside a big truck thing.  Even farther from the jungle shooting.  AND then, because I was a college man, a topic for a completely ‘nother blog, I got moved into cryptology – or o-o-o coding – secret James Bond type da-da-dum-dum High Security bullshit.

The upshot was that I could type without any errors (at that time, I am not nearly that good now).  Hardly any errors.  Hardly never, hardly ever.  Typing good kept me out of combat and getting dead.

Now we come to television and movies.  First off, if these productions are even remotely current, why are they always using keyboards anyway?  Why don’t they ever use, and they never seem to, use a mouse?  You never see them use a computer mouse.  Why is that?  Any real computer user will tell you that using the mouse cuts down on massive numbers of keystrokes.  The old command line DOS commands are like hieroglyphics to a computer geek.  Forget it!

Even so, let’s say they are like using wa-ay advanced C Basic +++, the commands don’t even vaguely resemble what they seem to be typing.  Plus the fact that these actors seem to be typing at like 120 strokes per half minute.  “blam-didee-blam-blam-didee-blam-blam-blam” “tickety-tickety-tickety-tick-blam (we assume last emphatic blam is the Enter key).  And no freakin’ typos!  Not ONE mistake!

There is an old computer saying – “Garbage in, garbage out”.  In computer code, in command line computer tasking, if you get ONE character wrong, if you hit ONE wrong key, it don’t work!  AND, not only does it not work, it can do some serious shit you don’t really want it to do.  Like if I made a mistake in my cryptology coding of messages when I was in the Army, one stroke wrong - the bomb lands on our guys, instead of the enemy guys!  Or – your own head!!!  Not something you want to have happen!

Or, you can code in a loop, which cause the computer to just run and run and run and never conclude anything and eventually just freeze or worse, crash.  And crashing means … whoops … you loose everything.  Sometimes that means EVERYTHING!!!  Like the entire eastern seaboard of the United States looses power.
Assuming you are operating on the super-high end-maxi-dual quad-icky-dicky computer in the fourth sub-basement of the fifth quadrangle of the Pentagon, below ground behind triple sealed lead and cadmium doors and walls.  Like a spy type dude.

Or, you just sent two hundred super-drones to take out South Pickerel Corners, Vermont.

Also not good.

Now with touch screens the size of full wall murals, no-ho-body at that level uses a keyboard anyway.  If you are not typing a Blog, like this one, or like writing a novel, it’s useless.  A keyboard is tits on a bull.  A keyboard is cork duct-taped to Styrofoam.  Once again, the time it takes to key in a command line versus the time it takes to click, or touch, on an icon that activates a pre-programmed object macro (or Menu Option), is just a waste of time. 

Bearing in mind the possibility of the single typo creating a disaster!  Sorry … take it out of the script. It’s stupid.

“Ah darn it!  Simon, (the computer geek) you just blew up South Pickerel again!!!”
“Oopsy-doopsy.  Sorry.  Well … let’s go meet the gang at the club (hand out bar) ‘n get a beer.”
“Oh, okay.  But ya gotta learn to type better.”

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