Rambling and Rumbling

Rambling is something we all do, in long ways or short ways, and rumbling is either what’s going on in your stomach or your mind or past the horizon as we hear rumors of war, earthquake, famine and the four horsepeople of the apocalypse.

I’ll use my particular rambling and rumbling to catch up on things, though that should be “things” with a capital T.

First off, in no particular order of important, some of the homeless here in California (and there are a LOT of homeless, as, among other things, they tend to move here from other states due to weather, benefits, the degree of law enforcement or lack thereof, etc) are starting to build tiny houses in various spots with greater and greater degree of utilities: power, water and sewer. This tends to happen in the public right of way, such as this story about a homeless community along the 110 Freeway in southern California. Light, water, a fridge, a tiny home on public land.

This sort of thing is starting to make me think of the pioneers homesteading in the American West, back in the 1700s and 1800s. History is repeating itself, but with a tinge of Mad Max.

Speaking of movies… I’ve been hired to —— for an ——– for a ——–. More news coming out on that later. I’m not allowed to say much about it, so I need to confirm (and then reconfirm) the restrictions of the non-disclosure agreement. NDAs make a little paranoid, so I’d rather be ultra-safe than just safe.

Needless to say, this new job is on top of my pre-existing job working in land use, policy and land management here in central coast California, so that means finding hours and half hours early in the morning, in the evening, during lunchtimes and on the weekends. Not a problem, because I enjoy creative writing, particularly when it’s not post-modern nihilist nonsense.

I recently learned that Greenland has only three stoplights. This is sobering news. I think we all take stoplights for granted. Stop and reflect on the sheer plethora of stoplights that exist in your life. You are blessed with stoplights. Don’t take them for granted. Remember the poor people of Greenland who must only make do with three stoplights between all of them and the seals, musk oxen, polar bears etc who also make their home there.

Sad.

In other news, the homeschool year is about to come to an end in several weeks. The children’s minds are brimming with Latin, logic, literature and many, many other things that start with L but that I can’t recall off the top of my head (really, that phrase should use a different preposition). They can’t wait for non-school days so they can busily jettison all that knowledge to the best of their abilities and industriously use their synapses in other pursuits. Worthy pursuits, I’m sure, that don’t involve video games.

Speaking of throwing words around (and that’s exactly what we’re doing here), I just finished reading Dean Koontz’ newest book, The Bad Weather Friend, and I have to say–he really throws his words around in a delightful manner, even when he’s writing about somewhat disturbing topics. May Dean Koontz live long and prosper, and may he write many more books. One of the interesting things I find about him is that he writes from an absolutist moral order of the universe, that Man does not define meaning, but that Truth (with a capital T) exists outside of Man and it (and the founder of that truth) is what defines Man. This approach creates the perfect philosophical framework for writing proper suspense and horror. After all, of what worth is a horror story if the author (and the reader) don’t believe in the absolute concepts of good and evil? If you don’t believe in that, you can’t have a genuine horror story. All you can have is a dreary piece of nihilist gore with nothing at stake.

 

Genuine California Asphalt

So, this here photo is of real, genuine California asphalt. And boy is it ever in bad shape. This photo is of the road next to my house. There’s no base rock under the road. No proper foundation, underpinning, whatever you want to call it.

They (the mysterious, ever-present, ubiquitous they) laid the asphalt right on top of dirt. What does that get you? A bad road.

That’s a workable metaphor for California these days. My amazing state is in such bad shape. I think, if you had to shoehorn California into the Lord of the Rings, it would be the area directly around Isengard.

Stratospheric housing prices that no one can afford. Homeless people everywhere, doing the things that should be done within homes. Rampant crime as the criminally-inclined stroll into stores and go shopping while skipping the whole check-out-and-pay part of the equation.

Public schools are in the proverbial toilet. And it’s a low-flow toilet, because our lizard overlords in Sacramento decree we must use low-flow toilets in order to conserve water (because they haven’t spent a dime on building water projects in the last crazy number of years, despite all the water bonds they keep passing, to the tune of billions).

So what do people do? They just flush that darn low-flow toilet several times to achieve proper passage. Which is what happens in public schools. They just graduate the kids on up, even though they can’t do math at a sensible level, write an essay to save their lives, or understand, let alone apply, any kind of logic to the various situations that life throws their way.

We will now interrupt our programming with a photo of a field of Brussels sprouts growing next to my house. Who is going to eat all these little cabbages of sadness?

Good-bye California. This is one of those long, slow good-byes where we all end up yawning our way through the last few years of the demise. Nero fiddling in slow-motion, that sort of thing.

How do you create in that kind of atmosphere? Well, one of the vital things is that you keep your sense of humor. I’m pretty sure I still have mine. In fact, I just got paid to use my sense of humor in a writerly sort of way, and the results will go public fairly soon. So, yeah, got my sense of humor; I think it’s in the top left-hand drawer of my desk at home.

Pro tip: hanging onto your sense of humor is vital for whatever crazy situation you find yourself in: decaying state of California, war, monitor lizard attack in the Indonesian jungle, IRS audit, colonoscopy, etc. If you lose your sense of humor, it’s time to hang up your hard hat and head home.

It’ll be interesting to see where California is in the next ten years. I’m not holding my breath, as that would cause me to expire, even though the reduction in exhaled carbon dioxide would apparently help save the planet.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep on writing and reading and playing guitar. I just wish I could find the next Mark Twain, PG Wodehouse or Richard Powell. They just don’t seem to make ’em like that anymore.

Why?

This is an image of my mailbox, waiting for a copy of a good book to read. Good books are like oxygen, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, fine Swiss chocolate and a peaceful evening indoors with a light rain on the roof, all rolled into one. But very portable.

Kindness of Strangers

Schools Or strange kindness? Perhaps both.

Living on a farm has its upsides and downsides. One of the downsides is a harvest crew firing up at 2:30 in the morning. Which happened last night. I groggily awoke to the sound of backup beeping and engines revving up their rpms. Put on jeans and boots, jacket, went outside and grumpily surveyed a a crew prepping trailers and tractors for a romaine field.

Despite the positive effect on my character (theoretically), I don’t enjoy waking up at odd hours of the night. I couldn’t get mad at the crew. They’re just doing what they’re told. The backup beeping was from a forklift loading empty crates on the trailers. The tractors were warming their engines and arranging various trailers into position. Three hours more to go before the actual harvesters arrived, but there’s always a lot of prep that has to be done first.

Aargh.

Another downside of living out in the fields, in the larger context of a law-disdaining state such as California, is dumping. Strangers will often pull over and kindly dump their garbage on the side of the road. Sometimes they’ll drive deeper into a ranch and deposit a whole pile of bags, appliances, old tires, you name it. Parents, schools, entertainment mind-molders, etc do not teach private property these days.

Free, to a good home

Anyway, here are some nice box springs that someone generously donated to the ranch next to my house a few days ago. Feel free to stop by and get them if you need a moldy box spring for your bed.

The noisy harvest crew is an unavoidable part of living on a farm. This place is like a big, open-air factory. It just is what it is. Nothing bad about it–just peskalicious. However, dumping garbage on other people’s property is different. That hobby is a very small stone in the mosaic called “The Center Cannot Hold.” Yeats describes the process much more eloquently, but I think a lot of people are getting suspicious about that these days.

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!

The Mystery of Masks

The culture of masks, here in California, truly has been a mystery. On again, off again, on again, off again. Masks are like a psychotic high school girlfriend.

You have to wear a mask when you’re walking into a restaurant. But, as soon as you sit down, you can take the mask off. Does that mean the little covid virus particles only exist at higher altitudes of 54 inches or above? But what if you sit at a bar on a stool and your head is equivalent in height to the average standing head? Should extremely short people and small children be allowed to walk into the restaurant without a mask, as their standing head height is equivalent to the average sitting-at-a-table head height?

Fairly obvious insanity.

We’re all painfully aware of the blatant hypocrisy of the elites swanning about their soirees (I would love to work the word “sauna” into this sentence but I can’t figure out how [other than this parenthetical]), sans masks. Garcetti at the ballgame, Newsome at the French Laundry, Pelosi staggering through her salon, various stars (what a strange use of the word star) at their sparkly galas, wait-staff obsequious and objectified in their muzzles, hovering around the fringes with platters of champagne in hand.

More insanity, but so tedious and grating.

Children in schools, anonymized and de-individualized, transformed into pairs of eyes blinking above fabric. The treatment of children in schools is a painful one to watch. I remember quite well the loneliness and uneven isolation of public school. Eddies of cliques washing around you like a cold North Sea tide. Uncertainty of self, uncertainty of purpose, uncertainty of meaning. The psychology of most children is delicate enough as it is. But to add in daily masks and the ensuing separation?

Insanity and abuse, wrapped up in a teachers union-approved recyclable bow.

In moments of sanity, why do we ever wear masks? When you’re out at night asking strangers for candy. When you’re Batman. When you’re in a burning building. When you’re demoing walls full of asbestos. When you’re touring Chernobyl. When you’re the Phantom of the Opera. When you’re welding. When you’re deep-sea diving. When  you are a dead pharaoh. When you’re robbing a bank.

Brief interactions of sanity and masks, all of them. Except for the Phantom of the Opera. He was clearly a sad nut.

Which brings me to story (of course). The lunacy of the whole thing (complete with shrieking harridans in grocery stores “Put on your &*#$ed mask! Do you want your grandma to die?!”) begs for an explanation. A perspective from 30 miles up that makes sense of all the idiots in government, the sheep-like people, the liars in the media, and all the rest of the poor, huddled masses, yearning for uninhibited breathing.

Perhaps an invasion of the body snatchers style infiltration of certain people’s brains? Aliens exerting mind control over society for some nefarious, future purpose? A witches coven in the highest levels of government and business, grooming the world for mass child sacrifices that will enable the opening of a door between dimensions? Nothing good ever comes through those kinds of doors. Or perhaps a secret society of Malthusians bent on turning the masses into mindless slaves with forced sterilizations and drastic population reductions as the next steps?

There could be some interesting stories here.