Monday, July 31, 2006

Yeah I get it already

I'm pretty convinced that people and things come our way because we have a need. Maybe it's help heading the right way, a helping hand, a lesson...or maybe it's just to test us.

Those last ones can be a real pain in the ass.

In my case, I don't like stupid people. They bug the crap out of me to be honest. I'm not talking about people who just aren't that bright - the ones who try but aren't quite top of their class. I'm talking about the people who are too lazy to learn. These are the morons that the extremes cater to. They'll believe pretty much anything they've heard a couple of times.

Often, these gems of humanity praise themselves for how informed they stay. Informed to them meaning tuned into the local right/left wing hate monger on the radio and being current on their Enquirer subscription.

I'm Buddhist so it's no wonder that many of these people are alleged followers of the late, great J.C. It's not that being Buddhist makes Christians ignorant, but rather I notice more shortcomings in the Christians I meet now that I don't follow that path. Or maybe, it's just that they're the ones who annoy me most right now so that's what I notice.

That's neither here nor there though as my little story really doesn't have much to do with the Christian masses other than the antagonist of this tale likes to profess his great faith.

Anyway, there must be some sort of compassion lesson I've got to learn because this guy - who I work long hours with - really stretches the limits of what I'll put up with.

The other day, he came in with yet another tattoo.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"Why did you get a tattoo of an Iron Cross on your arm dude?"

"I'm just really obsessed with WWII..."

My hardly contained disdain seemed to still his tongue a bit.

Every so often he drops some lame-ass racist comment into conversation though and I have to call him on it.

"Man are those lazy beaners going to be there..."

"They work harder than you do."

"They don't even speak any English, do they?"

"Actually, they speak English just fine. They just don't speak it to you. I wouldn't either if I was them."


"Because you act like a racist retard."

"I'm not racist, I just don't like it when people don't work for a living and try and scam the system."

"Whatever dude."

"No really..."


And that's just a snippet. Mostly, it just makes me want to crack the guy on his shaved dome. Did you really think he would have anything but a shaved head?

One night, he dropped a couple more stupid remarks about how the Germans (the WWII variety that is) had some good ideas.

"Hitler was pretty smart about some stuff, wasn't he?"

"Dude, your hero was an idiot who went nuts and then killed himself and fucked his country and humanity in the process. I'm pretty sure the things he did right are pretty much wiped out by everything else the little shit did wrong."


"Well, what dude? The guy was an idiot."

He shuts up for a while, but then later goes on to moan about how hard the job is that night.

"'Arbeit macht frei', dude."


"Work makes you free."


"Yeah, that's what I thought."

Now, I say it whenever he bitches about work.

Gahhhhh... Seriously, there must be a camera somewhere.

So, today he's wearing a cheesy Iron Cross belt buckle with the SS symbol on it. It's covered by his tee-shirt most of the time, so I don't say anything. But I've noticed. Deep breath, deep breath.

It's topping out at over 100 degrees. I'm hot, sweaty, and in no mood for more stupidity. Guess what? I got it anyway.

"Did you see my new buckle?"

"Yeah," I reply without looking over.

"Well, I won't be wearing it out in the open when we're working."

"Good damn thing."

"What do mean?"

"If I see it again, I'm going to tell you you're a fucktard."

"What's that mean?"

"It means that wearing that makes you a stupid fuck and a retard rolled into one."

" don't like it? Does it annoy you?"

"No dude. It fucking offends me."


"It fucking offends me and wearing it tells me you would rather be a hateful piece of shit than think. So, whatever. No, it doesn't annoy me, but you're starting to."

Remarkably, fisticuffs did not ensue.

This, however, can be nothing more than a test of my compassion. It's easy to have compassion for those we love or like to be around. It's much harder to have compassion for those towards whom we have a strong aversion. But, in order to become a better person, that's just what I have to do.

So, I'm trying to not clench up with hate and anger towards this guy. I mean, he's smart enough to learn so he's not a lost cause - more like a challenge. A major challenge. I'm trying to treat him like a puppy. It's the whole ignoring his bad behaviour and rewarding his good behaviour thing.

It feels like he'll never be housebroke, but hope springs eternal.

I have to say though, this learnin' thing can be a real drag. And it never, ever stops...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Language is symbolic

Heard an interesting thing today. It was part of a recording of Alan Watts. The part that jumped out was about the way we confuse ourselves with language and symbols.

Essentially, language is just a bunch of verbal symbols. Words represent things, but aren't those things. You can use the word bird to describe a flying critter, but the word isn't that's just a shorthand description of that thing.

So, we tend to start assigning values to words. Ice cream tasted good once so it becomes good. A skunk sprayed the dog and the smell stayed around for days, so skunk becomes bad. We then scurry about trying to stack as many good things in our corner as we can while avoiding the bad things. In the process we forget to just live in the moment.

It's hard to live in the moment when you're worried about getting the next good thing in the future. Sadly, the future is just another symbol for something that never, ever arrives. There really is nothing other than the now, the present moment - everything after it can only exist in our imagination and everything that came before it only exists in our memory. Or, to dust off a Buddhist saying - you can only step in the same river once.

Anyway, the thing that really struck me was a comment Watts made about a big flaw in our language. He was talking about the way we are told that there must always be a noun and a verb, or a subject and action. The problem, Watts points out, is that an object by it's very nature can't cause an action. Likewise, the action doesn't create the subject.

He, of course, actually clarifies what he's getting at. I still need to wrap my head around it all before I can do that.

It was interesting though.


On another note... Holy crap was the Tour de France great this year. I thought it would suck without Lance Armstrong, but it was very exciting.

All I know is that Floyd Landis is a stud and a half.

He took the yellow jersey and all seemed well. But he cracked on long climb and not only lost the overall lead, but any reasonable hope of getting it back with only one more day in the mountains and a time trial left. Landis dropped from first to 11th on stage 16 of the Tour.

Then on the 17th stage, he tore it up and put in perhaps the best rides in cycling history. To win the stage was awesome on it's own, but he made up six minutes on Sastre (the guy in second) and seven on Pereira (the guy in first). At one point he had a ten minute gap - that's pretty stellar for anyone, but just short of incredible for one of the race's top riders to get. The field tried to pull him back, but ultimately, his ride was too good.

At the end of the day, Landis was back in third mere seconds away from taking back the lead. A great time trial two days later sealed the comeback.

What makes it all the more incredible is the fact that Landis' hip is so messed up from a crash earlier in his career that he'll be having hip replacement surgery after the Tour.



It's sunny. That's nice. It's just nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sun. It's certainly helped get me out of the funk I've been in lately.

That and walking.

I've been walking lately and it's helped get me kickstarted again. Sort of forces me to get out and be a bit active.

Healthy? Yeah, I'll drink to that.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Just think about it

It's a dolphin, by the way. This guy's stuff is pretty good.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rapper and Three Leg

Sad little rapper, sitting on a bench
Can’t go home cause he can’t pay rent.

Momma kicked him out cause he got no job
Now he’s sharing his dinner with a three-legged dog.

Doggie got mad cause the rapper got greedy
Said, 'if you got yourself a job you wouldn’t be so needy.'

Rapper said, 'shut up and let me see that bone
I'm so goddamn hungry I've been nawin' on my phone.'

Phone don't work and it's tasting kind of shitty,
Plastic's comin' off and it's goin' down real gritty.

Dog said, 'that aint right and I feel real bad,
But don't keep bugging me, 'cause I aint your dad.'

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thanks for the shoes

There I was, driving my Dad to Walmart to pick up a new pair of glasses. Tooling down the road, minding my own business. Cruising at tree-top level - tall trees, not the stubby ones in stubby ones in the neighbor's yard mind you - was a military chopper.

"Odd," thought I.

You see, I tend to notice things out of the ordinary. A military helicopter without the camo or markings flying along Hwy 33 in West Bend, Wisconsin, sort of fits that bill. I watched it fly on as I turned left at the light. It was heading east, toward Saukville and Port Washington, keeping the roadway directly below it.

I didn't really think much about it at the time.

Well, except when I wondered to myself how much it costs to fly one of those bad boys with gas prices so high. Oh yeah, and when it occurred to me how ironic it was that when I lived in Nevada County, California, we used to joke about the crazies with their black helicopter stories and there actually were black helicopters flying around all the time - they were from the Air Force base down the road.

Anyway, it wasn't until later that I found out that the president was in the area.

Turns out that George W. Bush just had to have a pair of red, white and blue Allen Edmonds saddle shoes. Fine, he didn't actually need the red, white and blue ones - they just gave those to him - but he does wear their shoes and he took advantage of flying the petrol-sucking sky barge, Air Force One, out for a fundraising dinner to pick out a few pairs of shoes.

He also took some time to talk to the employees at the factory.

Good on you George - mingling with the minions for a spell. He told them all how great his tax breaks have been for the country's economy. Turns out he's not overspending nearly as much as he thought he would this year. That's great isn't it? He was on a bit of a schedule, so he couldn't spend too much time explaining just how it all works, but by golly it just does.

Funny thing that wasn't mentioned in his self-promoting stump speach - the fact that he was in town to raise money at a dinner that cost more per plate to sit at than the average American received as part of his ballyhooed tax bribes. 'That's right guys, that 300 bucks I gave y'all to keep the economy going wouldn't even get your coat checked at the dinner I'm off to, but thanks for the shoes.

The dinner was a $1000 per plate affair.

Even more funny - and by funny I mean not funny at all, but rather sick and out of touch with any moral compass - was the fact that for an additional $10,000, wealthy Wisconsinites could get a personal photo taken with the president.

That's one third of the average full-time factory worker's annual pay - a guy making about $15 an hour. Again, thanks for the shoes...too bad you can't afford to come to my little shindig. No doubt the company's owner was there though. His corporate welfare - er, tax incentive - was probably a bit more than the average 300 bucks.

A person working full time for $7 an hour would need about nine months to make enough for a snap with the man who is supposed to represent the people of this country. And that would mean not paying rent, buying gas, paying bills, or eating food that wasn't found in a dumpster - in short, it would be everything that person made in nine months of full-time work.

And the fundraising effort was for a member of the Republican House that seems to feel that raising the minimum wage would grind the economy to a halt.

And people say there's something wrong in Washington, D.C.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Things to see in West Bend

There are some things you might notice if you lived in West Bend, Wisconsin.

One thing you might have seen is a woman, weighing in at a round - and I do mean round - 280 pounds, rolling through the aisles of Goodwill on a little chair scooter. If you are blessed with keen powers of observation, you likely noted that she stuck out the width of a large child off each side of her red scooter.

You would have heard her squawk, "It sure is getting harder to mover around in hyere. You should make the aisles bigger."

On your way out of said store of great values, you would have likely seen a lady get out of a spnking new mini-van, clutching an item for return and her sales receipt. You would imagine the conflict in her head over whether she ought to have spent that $5 or not.

Clearly, frugality won out and she was returning her cheap-ass item - thus ripping the money out of the hands of the poor and handicapped people that the charity store is helping out.

I personally imagined that she was returning the item three days too late, and though the return policy is clearly posted, she was set to cause a big stink - the fat scooter lady harping in the background adding some festive color to the tableau.

Also, if you lived here, you might fhave found yourself chuckling when you heard the neighbor revving up his Harley - annoying at first, until the engine calmed to a dull roar and the sound of Bobby Vinton came wafting from the speakers mounted on the bike's touring cowl.

This is in no way odd.

After all, the Polish Prince is nearly a deity here in the Milwaukee area - practically a staple for anyone that grew up in Wisconsin.

*** Note - No Scamp scooters or Bobby Vinton CDs were harmed during the writing of this blog. ***

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July

Happy birthday 'Merica!

To celebrate, how about we all learn a bit about our country's history. There's a bit more to celebrating freedom than shooting off some fireworks - which is fun and awesome, no doubt, but hardly the real point of the holiday.

The Fourth of July should be a reminder that the freedoms we all enjoy require us to continue to fight for them daily. Independence wasn't the conclusion of the grand experiment, it was the beginning.

The great ideals set forth over 200 years ago by a bunch of guys in wigs are ideals that today are far from set in stone. Our freedoms need to be tended and guarded, protected from erosion.

The ideals of our country form a solid foundation, but the firmest of foundations first begins to crumble with the tiniest of cracks. And just as a homeowner who ignores the settling of earth under and around his home's foundation or the seeping of water into the solid base below him invites disaster, so do we if we fail to continually inspect and maintain our ideals.

So today, as the hot dogs roast on grill, the beer chills in the cooler and the fireworks fly forth in flashing bursts, stop and think about the things that make this country great and ask yourself whether they worth preserving. And if they are, ask yourself what you've done lately to ensure their preservation.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bitch and ye shall receive...

As it turns out, the haze burned off and the sun came out to play. I sat out on the deck and then walked downtown and saw a movie. Yippee. Who says that bitching doesn't get you anywhere?

Another sunless summer day

Oh Great Orb, the one that some call Sun, where have you gone? Please come back. Although it's only been a day, it seems like a week since I've last seen you.

I think it's safe to say that I really miss the dry, sunny weather of California. Even sunny days here are a humid drag. The air, thick and heavy, just makes you want to sit near the air conditioner. That's great for the World Cup viewing, but not so great for the tan.

So, briefly, the soccer has been great this time out. Too many cheesey yellow cards, but good soccer. The last round of games were pretty stellar. Not much of a surprise that Germany won through. That was my favorite late-round matches - Germany vs. Argentina. I've been wearing my Argentina tee shirt far too often lately, but they're my team. I love the way Germany's been playing though and I'm expecting them to win the whole thing, so I wasn't disappointed that they beat Argentina.

England got a well-deserved boot. They deserved to move on about as much as the U.S. deserved to get out of the group round - which is to say, not at all.

Anyway, my schedule has been cleared and I'm set for the last four matches. I need all the free time I can get right now, since I'm stuck in a fringe sport cornicopia - Wimbledon, World Cup and the Tour de France are all overlapping. If you tossed in America's Cup sailing, I would surely explode.

Then there's Summerfest. That's the big music festival in Milwaukee. Ten days of music by the lake. Lots of great bands too. I didn't go last year because someone dropped the ball on the scheduling, making it more Slumberfest than Summerfest.

The cool thing about the fest is that you just decide to go at the last minute. You need only show up, pay out some loot, and wander amongst the crowds to hear some fine tuneage.