Night Thoughts

Odd thoughts at night are inevitable, particularly when you rarely sleep well. However, the rareness was exacerbated even further the other night by a harvest prep crew working on their machines. At 3am. On the other side of the fence from our backyard. With great enthusiasm, gusto, dedication, perspicacity, however you want to describe it. Combined with a lack of focus on how much noise they might be making in close proximity to a sleeping house.

I popped outside and had a few terse words with the crew. They initially expressed confusion and doubt as to the gravity of the situation, but then began to grasp my seriousness. After a few back-and-forths, due to the language barrier, they drove the rig deeper into the ranch. As you can see from the photo, the rig was also festooned with lights, not unlike a large Christmas tree that has fallen over but still remains plugged into the wall socket.

Regaining sleep after such an event, is usually unachievable. Therefore, the odd thoughts. In no particular order: asteroid mining, devising a plot for a book (a lighthearted, comedic version of Lewis’ That Hideous Strength, with an emphasis on lighthearted), whether or not fats are as unhealthy as “they” say they are, cats vs gopher snakes as antidote to gopher infestations, the nature of time if dimensions exist beyond our four dimensions (time becomes very negotiable at that point, doesn’t it?), and whether my kids should start learning Mandarin.

I also spent some time musing over my latest music album (about to go live on all the various streamers): Love in the Time of Pandemica. I used a loop on one of the songs without realizing that certain loops have different kinds of rights associated with them: personal, performance, sales, etc. At any rate, I used the wrong kind of loop and had to pull the one song. Which means a nine song album instead of a ten song album.

I’ll post the song here when I get a chance. Can’t sell it, but I can post it for free.

The topic of intellectual property is an interesting one. I have friends on both sides of the aisle. Everything in the public domain versus rights reserved for a definite amount of time versus rights reserved indefinitely (Leonard da Vinci, contact your heirs). Automatic public domain is a bridge too far for me. After all, what’s the difference between a loaf of bread and a song or a story? Not much.

Of Music, Mice and Men…

But I’m not a biologist, so I’m not qualified to determine what are mice and what are men. Enough said.

Of music, however… I’ve been recording random songs for fun under the moniker Inflatable Hippies for the past few years. Rewrites of Christmas carols, electronica, etc. Purely enjoyable. Great way to exercise the creative synapses without needing to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Lately, though, I’ve been writing slightly more serious music in terms of subject matter. Also, with a more traditional rock approach. I’ve cobbled together ten songs, which are in the process of release under the band name Udk (upside down kingdom). This first album is called Love in the Time of Pandemica. Mild apologies to Gabriel Marquez, but not really.

I have to say, it’s immensely fun to create like this. Music is fast. Books are slow. Anyway, this will be live on Spotify, Apple, Pandora etc in a few weeks. I’ll post links when it spawns through.

Winchells Open All Night

So Winchell’s is open all night. That’s twenty-four hours a day, each and every day of the year. For those of you who don’t know, Winchell’s is a doughnut chain in the United States. It’s all over California, but I’m not sure about the other states.

At any rate, my interest in Winchell’s, other than their glazed blueberry, is the fact that a Winchell’s  would make a decent place to run to if you were being chased by zombies at one in the morning. It’s always going to be open–right?–so you could make for those bright yellow lights with equanimity that the door will swing open as you sprint through.

I have it from an excellent source (yes, better than the New York Times) that zombies are allergic to chocolate-glazed old fashioneds. There are decent odds that you’ll always find a good supply of those in the racks. That and a good pitching arm should keep you safe.

No need to thank me.

Speaking of silly things that complicate our lives, some genius in Bloomberg just wrote a piece titled “Inflation Stings Most If You Earn Less Than 300k. Here’s How To Deal.” I’m torn over this one. Should I laugh or yell? I’ll do both. I think an excellent tonic for idiocy is a return barrage of laughter, but some yells volley well enough too.

I’ll take one for the team and give you a quick run-down of the so-called Bloomberg piece. Doomberg, Bloomberg–is there a difference? It begins with an acknowledgement of inflation and how it is affecting gas and food, etc etc yawn. We’re all painfully aware of that. But then Professor Teresa Ghilarducci then goes on to explain how those in lower income brackets can soften the blow. Spoiler alert: here’s where it goes down the rabbit hole to Alice in Wonderinsaneland.

Professor Ghilarducci, an economist at the New School of Social Research (where is that and what steps should I take to make sure my kids don’t go there?), says that people should control your budget. That is nothing short of revolutionary, of course, right up there with making sure your zipper is hoisted high after application of pants.

She then goes on to encourage all of us to take more public transport. I suppose that advice is decent for those of you in urban settings. Doesn’t really work out here in farming country. “Excuse me, Mr. Bus Driver, can you take the dirt road on the right after Mr. McIntry’s wheat crop on the lower forty before the old windmill, and then just down three miles and a hard left, but watch out for the brown bull in the pasture there, as he often gets out.”

And then, ha! the good professor descends into culinary advice. Such as steer away from pricey meats and try meat substitutes like beans and lentils. Beans and lentils? For the humble folk, you say? At this point, she gives some rather mysterious advice which I will quote in its poetic entirety: “Plan to cut out the middle creature and consume plants directly.”

Hmm.

Images come to mind of cropping the grass. Cropping it directly, with the fresh dew on it. That’ll be breakfast. A quick nibble of the office potted plants for lunch, the ficus is particularly delicious, and then home for dinner with a plate of succulents, which are, er…succulent, high in fiber and an excellent source of water. As Grandmother is fond of gifting you succulents every Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Jr Day, I’m sure you’ll be in good supply.

At this point, Professor Ghilarducci’s worthy list of advice, almost as inspiring as Ben Franklin’s better treatises, veers into truly noteworthy territory. She remarks that many people acquired pets during the pandemic (that whole loneliness and isolation thing, right?). Regretfully, she points out that pets sometimes necessitate expensive medical treatments, so you might consider skipping chemo for Fido.

Ship Fido off to the glue factory as part of your inflation therapy. We have a call in to Fido to inquire about his perspective, but he’s probably too busy hunting up Ghilarducci’s address on Google to respond.

And they wonder why more and more people are growing skeptical of higher education as a choice.

Burning Bright

Burning bright, but not precisely right. And not in the forests of the night.

Part of my somewhat unusual job is managing some industrial properties in the city. The property backs up to the train line that runs north and south through California. Due to some federal law that probably didn’t game out the unanticipated consequences when it was being written, city and county jurisdictions cannot enter the train line right-of-way unless for serious crimes (such as murder, rape, etc). Or, of course, if Union Pacific gives them authorization (which it is somewhat stingy with).

The unanticipated consequence? Homeless encampments. Full of garbage, used syringes, open-air lavatories, you name it. Homelessness in California is mostly a mental health issue. Sadly, the authorities do next to nothing about it.

Several days ago, at our neighboring homeless encampment, they decided to light a fire. They often do this, sometimes courtesy of small propane cookers that local do-gooders hand out, and sometimes courtesy of their own devices.

And the fire got out of control, as fires are often inclined to do. Fires are the ultimate bureaucracy. They want everything. They want to devour information, ideas, lives, property. You name it, they want it.

Here’s a video of the fire if you’re interested: Fire!

Fire, fire, burning bright, in the homeless encampment in our sight–who has framed thy fearful symmetry? Well, pretty much decades of California leftist regulations and enablements that have weakened the ability to deal with mental health and drug addiction in our society.

Sad!

Radio Commercials

Radio commercials have a story to tell. And it seems to be the same story for a lot of them.

During the work week, I spend a decent amount of time driving around each day. I have to check on job sites, crews, inspect properties, etc. My driving time is usually occupied in three different ways: silence, talk radio, or listening to music.

Both the music and the talk radio stations have very similar commercials. Off the top of my head, I estimate half of the commercials use fear as the main sales motivator. Precious metals, emergency food, vaccines (so many vaccine commercials), real estate, health products. The list is long and tedious.

As for the commercials that don’t use fear as a motivator, I wonder if they’re missing out on potential sales? There’s a commercial for Babel, the language learning app, that might want to rethink its approach. The current Babel commercial has the usual patter about learning typical tourist phrases, such as “My name is Fred,” “I will order the hamburger,” and “Where is the bathroom?”

A fear-based Babel commercial could tout learning phrases like “There’s no point kidnapping me, as my family is poor,” or “Only a nitwit would want to harvest my kidneys, as I have advanced cirrhosis.” I bet a lot of people planning on overseas travel would appreciate knowing some phrases like that.

Sorry. Sometimes my humor goes a bit dark.

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