Times They Are A’Changing

Saturday afternoon we were sipping tea at Calabas tea. In Takoma, just outside of DC. The moment was notable for the supreme coolness and gentle vibes of that little tea shop and me getting to sit and observe Brittany and her brother chatting and getting caught up. On a nice sunny day on a nice weekend. And…..because I heard a Reggae band playing a George Jones song – ‘He stopped loving her today’. And that’s just not something you hear every day.

Life is rushing at me at a mad pace at the moment. Writing minutes are simply not available. So I am jotting down some totally random and unstructured updates. Like a wild animal. Just to get something down on paper. And some pictures for my fans.

Getting power to Black Dog Ridge was a tortuous chore. After multiple false starts, we finally found a starting point from an existing electrical pole that was acceptable. This pole sat on the side of an old overgrown two-track bordering my property on the west and serviced my neighbors house on the other side of a small creek. From this point, they had to set two more poles a little further up the road and then finally, take a 90 degree turn to the south and move up a notch in the sheer wall to set a final pole. There, the electricity joined with my underground ditch to feed the house with power. 

I was not prepared for the violence of what it would take to complete the activity. The power company had to take down around 12 or 15 trees and numerous large bushes to make room for their equipment and to set the poles and make sure there was a proper easement to protect the lines. Walking the path afterwards, to inspect, I was saddened by the downed trees and brushpiles. Especially since I had set in motion the wheels that resulted in this carnage. Just so I could electrify my house. If I had been more thoughtful and understanding about the process, I would have walked through first and prayed for understanding and forgiveness. 

There will be plenty of sins to atone for when the time comes. Still. Humility and contrition feels necessary.
We are slowly scarring and damaging the world. One house at a time. The collective result is slowly killing all life on the planet–but somehow I can justify my contribution to this destruction because I really want electricity at my house. And because it’s West Virginia, it’s surely coal-produced electricity as well. So in addition to my direct destruction, I am enabling an industry that wreaks havoc at epic scale while putting dollars in Joe Manchin’s corrupt bank account. Yea for me.

The minute I quit blogging, bad shit begins to happen. War in Russia. Roe vs Wade overturned. The slap. 

I have underestimated my influence on global issues. Sorry world, but I’ve been busy.

Then, Saturday night of last week, a deadly shooting in Buffalo. An 18-year old white boy shot and killed 11 black people on a racist tirade. He surrendered. It’s a minor point to be sure, but if the shooter had been black (which it so rarely is)—he would have been executed by the police. Not taken in to custody. 

What will it take to get us to a revolution? What is the tipping point? How long must we watch idly while our people are slaughtered by the ignorant and the warped power of the police.While the top 1% take food and medicine and necessities out of the mouths of those most in need to finance their grossly extravagant lifestyle. Is this really who we are?

If we consider our past and current institutionalized racists policy (including our brutal and ineffective approach to policing our communities), our egregious and unfair immigration system, our systemic capitalistic over-reach which is massively widening our income and wealth gap, our refusal to provide universal health care and affordable drug prices, our refusal to implement sensible gun legislation, our refusal to provide a reasonable quality education, our unwillingness to demand a livable minimum wage and acceptable work conditions and hours—how can anyone arrive at the conclusion that we are living our best lives in America? We are a country at war with ourselves and losing.

We undermine ourselves on every front. Daily, weekly, monthly. 

Arguably, the best measure of a civilized society is how they care for the oppressed, the physically and mentally challenged, the young and the old, the poor. We do not measure up well here either. Actually, the poor and disenfranchised seem to pay a disproportionate price for our ignorance and greed. We do not take care of them—we demonize them. Forget them. Minimize them in every way. Pretend as if they do not exist. That their pain is not real or should not be our concern. We tell ourselves they choose poverty so our indifference feels less like a betrayal. 

If this is the best we can do, then shame on us.
Let me just throw in also the extraordinary disgrace that rugby is not our national sport. This should also be a demand when we finally get this revolution thing off the ground.

It’s fashionable to blame the billionaires for exploiting the system, but that’s meaningless. They are of course greedy fuckers, but it’s the systems in place that facilitate their actions and satiates their greed. They are simply operating within the framework we provide through our voting choices. We are the suckers who keep electing enablers rather than disablers. 

In my revolution, we will start by tearing up the constitution and starting from scratch. We need to un-elect every single member of congress and elect a provisional government with a mandate to form a new constitution and a new approach to government. We can use as a model the most progressive countries whose government is set-up to truly serve everyone and not just a few. But we should not stop there. We should go further. We should strive not to limit ourselves to what is the best today, but to create an even better society and economic system.

Capitalism is killing us.

I woke at 3:40am thinking about Calculus. Why in the hell my brain still dredges up shit like that I do not know. No wonder I can’t remember something I just heard in a meeting. My damn brain is trying to remember dt/dx and parabolic curves. 

Before I woke to calculus, I dreamed I was back in the navy. As these things go, some of the people and events made no sense. But the general atmosphere of our ship and conditions was there. I, as usual, walked around with a book tucked in the middle of my back; much like a gangster might carry a gun. I had my favorite reading spots, where I could find peace and solitude even among the high human density of a navy warship. There are dozens of hidden compartments on ships. Some a little noisy, and some a little too cold or too warm, but some that are just right. In one such place, I could sit on the propeller shaft casing and lean back onto the bulkhead with my butt hanging down between. The spacing was perfect to make a sort of sling. The shaft provided plenty of white noise and I could read in peace. 

On sunny warm days in the South Pacific, we always headed to the fantail if we were not on watch. Johnlee always had hours of recordings of 91X radio station—so if he put that tape in and we spread out our beach towels, we could easily imagine we were on the beach in San Diego listening to the X live. All the cool people listened to the 91X. It was the edgy and hip station of the times. 
We were young and thin and fit and full of energy and still riding high on the ideas of possibility. We had not yet witnessed the dream-crushing effects of adult responsibilities. Rejecting the notion that the decades would pass so quickly and those possibilities we dreamed of would fade, and finally disappear completely. Replaced by mortgages and career paths and college tuitions and medical bills—marriages and divorces and kids soccer games. 

I read a big-data article recently that progressed the studies around what makes people most happy and how does money factor into that equation. We already know that more money does not translate literally to more happiness. Enough money for total economic security can relieve the crippling anxieties that come from not having means. And removing that stress alone can increase happiness significantly. But beyond a certain amount (the actual amount of net wealth required is much debated) there are clear diminishing returns and in some cases people create even more anxieties for themselves around trying to maintain their money stash or advance it. 

But the net out of this article was that we tend to be more happy when we are 1) spending less time working 2) spending time with people we care about and 3) spending more time in nature. 

Other activities like exercise, sex and just being outdoors on a nice day contribute. Although the sex factor is fleeting and in many cases is a major source of anxiety for some.

The takeaway for me is to work as little as possible and continue to spend quality time with family, Brittany, and good friends. To meditate. To exercise. To eat organic foods prepared in my own kitchen from scratch as much as possible given my tendency to roam. Also to read more. To write more. And sometimes sit on the back porch and smoke a cigar and just watch the cows. 

We spent last weekend in DC visiting Brit’s family and attending a lavish 3-day long birthday celebration for one of her cousins that was headlined by a 150-person gala-style event. Lavish indeed. But lovely people. Her family is interesting and fun. And smart. I met Brit’s brother for the first time. He is super bright, energetic, intellectually curious about everything, tall, handsome, kind. The kind of person I really admire. Same with her sister and brother-in-law. Brit’s whole family seems to be full of interesting, smart people. I am not hugely surprised, since I’ve known her now for some time and see the resemblance. Still it is refreshing and encouraging to know how many good people are out there amidst the crazies.

Black Dog Ridge is coming along. Will post more on that project along with pictures when time allows.

What else? Shannon got married to Trent. Nice day and nice ceremony. The Triumph is back in my garage where it belongs. We have made peace. I accept now that it is a looker, not a performer. And we are synergistically aligned now in that reality.

Brit and I spent a wild 48 hours in Yellow Springs where we hung out with Dave Chappelle’s wife, saved a lost blind woman from wandering around, and somehow managed to make it back to our hotel after a marathon session in which neither of us remembered the walk home.

There’s more but it can wait.

I’m 3 vodka/soda’s deep into a flight and listening to Willie Nelson. And so all is well up in the clouds. And I need to get this post on the wall—lest my dozens of fans think I’ve abandoned them. 

No more news of note.

Humbly Submitted

And like the other little children

You’re gonna dream a dream or two

But be careful what you’re dreamin’

Soon your dreams’ll be dreamin’ you

Willie Nelson

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