Day 196: Mannerisms day.

Originally scheduled for Friday, July 15.

I actually did this, sort of, on the day it was scheduled.

Friday was the last day of our seminar, and we needed to unwind. So five of us — myself, Bethany, Julianne, Kristina, and Charles (minus the dux clamores) — the Team of the White Moose of the People —— the five of us drove down to Santa Fe.

We went to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which is usually full of O’Keeffes (paintings, not relatives), but which currently has instead a fascinating exhibit on American Modernist painting and photography, and specifically the relationship between the two, and the use of photographs as sketches. I have a new respect for Norman Rockwell, having seen what went in to The Soda Jerk.

We wandered around the plaza, downtown Santa Fe. We walked the labyrinth in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis (we couldn’t go inside the church, unfortunately, because it was being used for a marathon of wedding rehearsals). We went to Rooftop Pizza — we had a pizza with smoked duck on it — to eat and drink and be merry. It was a good day.

Anyway, on the drive into Santa Fe, Bethany asked me what the day’s task was. I told her, and then my colleagues started identifying my mannerisms. The big one is the sigh — a sort of exasperated sigh preceded by a short pause, which is my response to anyone asking me anything. My wife knows the sigh well, and it has sparked more than one argument between us. Apparently there’s also a sigh/grunt variation, but I can’t reproduce that one on demand like I can the original. I also make a specific hand gesture — not this one — when I’m talking, especially when I’m trying to explain or talk my way through something. The gesture is the one you’d make when saying “it’s about three inches long” — and I’ll leave it to your imagination what is about three inches long.

Those were the only of my mannerisms that were enumerated, either because those are the only ones I have, or (much more probably) because my friends got bored pointing them out and started talking about something else. Because I do have a few others: I stroke my beard; I rub the place on my finger where my wedding ring used to be, before I lost it, because I constantly took it off to fiddle with it; I scowl — but maybe that’s not a mannerism? —; I speak in incomplete sentences.

My mannerisms aren’t interesting — obviously, because less than half of this post was about them. Sorry. I’m just not an interesting guy.

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Day 188: Get a life coach.

What the hell does a life coach do?

According to the Wikipedia — or, more specifically, to a Wikipedia article with “multiple issues” — really, the thing is pretty unreadable, but you get that sometimes when anybody can edit a thing —— anyway, “life coaching is a practice that helps people identify and achieve personal goals,” and life coaches do this “using a variety of tools and techniques.”

Well, glad we cleared that up.

Life coaches aren’t therapists, they aren’t counselors, they aren’t psychologists or psychiatrists or psychoanalysts: they don’t bother with the past, apparently, only with the future — though how that’s possible I don’t know, since dealing with goals for the future has to take into account where one is in the present, and an (honest) assessment of one’s present has to involve looking at how one arrived where one is, which involves dealing with the fucking past.

Life coaches are bullshit artists, then: con men and snake oil salesmen, whose goal is to make people feel good about themselves without actually changing their lives — because actual change in the sucker’s client’s life might make the life coach obsolete — so that the people give the life coaches money.

Of course, I’m basing this less-than-flattering assessment on one section of a poorly-written Wikipedia article. Maybe I should see what some actual, professional life coaches have to say.

LifeCoach.com bills itself as “the way to effortless success” — and, as anyone who’s ever done anything worth doing knows, “effortless success” does not exist.

Bill Blalock promises an “ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives” (emphasis his) — that’s a sentence that doesn’t really say anything. He does acknowledge that the coaching process might initially be “discomforting and even painful,” and that it can be “difficult” to talk about one’s “issues.” On the other hand, before becoming a life coach, he “held management positions at Frito Lay, Inc., Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc, Ernst & Young LLP and Cadbury Schweppes” — and one should never trust middle management.

I cruised Tina Ferguson’s site for a few minutes — it’s pinker than I like — but I have no snarky comments to make, because I can’t make sense of anything she’s saying. Alright, I do have one snarky comment: what kind of successful life coach asks her readers to send her money to blow at Starbucks? I mean, if any of you want to send me money to spend on beer coffee, that would be awesome — but if I was already charging people to spout bullshit at them, asking for tips for the bullshit I gave away for free would be tacky.

So, I think I stand by my initial assessment. Life coaches: people who take your money and make you do stupid things that aren’t really going to do you any good.

Why would I want one? Isn’t that why I have this stupid Book?


Day 185: Join a political party.

Allow me to be blunt: political parties are one of the fundamental problems with our entire political system.

If we had, I don’t know, a dozen parties — a dozen viable parties — and a coalition-type government wherein no one party controlled anything, then maybe I wouldn’t have a problem with political parties. As it is, we have two parties that are little more than factions of the military-industrial-bureaucracy complex, and then a bunch of parties nobody takes seriously.

Political parties don’t make sense. Short-term alliances around specific issues make sense, if the goal is actually getting things done. Political parties aren’t about getting things done, they’re about maintaining the status quo, and keeping in power the people who are already in power.

There’s nothing to be done, of course, because the bureaucracy that runs this country is a giant, many-armed, beak-mouthed, voracious, horrible, stinky deep-sea-squid of a motherfucker — we can cut off an arm here, an arm there, stab it in some other place, but it keeps growing arms, faster than we can get rid of them. Individual politicians are like this giant squid’s intestinal worms, which it shits out all over everywhere in a violent, continuous flood of excrement.

I’m not really sure where that came from. I hate politics, though, and I hate the system, and I have a deep mistrust of anybody who does politics for a living. If politics and politicians had anything to do with “liberty and justice for all,” I might not be so cynical about the whole enterprise, but I’m not holding my breath.

 

 


Day 142: Sense-less day.

“Go through today with out your sense of taste.”

Ah, yes. This came sooner than I expected.

Obviously I didn’t go through today without tasting things in the physical sense: that would have required permanent mutilation, or coating my tongue with lidocaine, or not eating, and none of those are things that I would have done. I had, rather, to be ‘tasteless’ in the more informal sense.

There are different kinds of tastelessness, though. There’s an ignorant sort of tastelessness, where one thinks that a velvet Elvis and the Mona Lisa are about on par as works of art, and how many hits did that Lisa lady have, anyway? She was Judy Garland’s daughter, that’s all. Elvis was the fucking King.

There’s a more aggressive tastelessness, though, which knows the rules – knows which fork to use, and when, and for what – and which breaks them just for the sake of breaking them. Even here, though, there are different styles or degrees of tastelessness. One could use the wrong fork to eat one’s salad, and leave it at that; or one could draw attention to the fact that one was using the wrong fork by keeping up a running dialogue about how stupid forks are. Hamlet was tasteless in this way, and it’s often fun to watch.

One could, to take things further, use the wrong fork for one’s salad, and talk about sexually transmitted diseases and dismemberment and various bodily fluids and rotting animals while doing so. This is advanced tastelessness, I guess, but also the sort of dinner conversation that seems normal when you’ve been raised by a biologist (not that I want to blame my parents for my tastelessness).

The height of tastelessness, though, is just to shit in one’s salad. At the table. In front of everyone. Which is what I did at dinner tonight. Then I called the waiter over, and said, “Excuse me, but there’s a turd in my salad.”

…this didn’t go over well, as the ‘waiter’ was my wife, and she’d watched me – dumbfounded – while I took the shit in the first place.


Day 140: Jam the line!

I’m supposed to call the “national headquarters” of the KKK repeatedly, hanging up each time, in some sort of primitive DoS attack.

Right. That’ll do something. I don’t think the Klan even has a national headquarters…

It seems absurd to me that the Klan still exists. Not because I think we’re living in some post-racial utopia – racism and bigotry of all sorts are alive and well – just look at Westboro Baptist, those people hate everyone, even the Swedes, and how can you hate the Swedes? —— no, the continued existence of the Klan seems ridiculous because they’re just so nineteenth-century.

Maybe being a club of aggressive racist drunks with a secret handshake and stupid ‘slang’ was enough back in the 1860s, or even the early 20th century, but now it just looks pathetic. I linked to one of the Westboro Baptist church’s websites above: despite the fact that all of the Phelpses and their lackeys are terrible, hateful people, they’ve got a decent set of websites. The content is incredibly offensive, but it’s well presented: there’s a bit of a Flash intro, but it’s fairly low-key; the layout is clean, not too cluttered, easy to navigate; there’s embedded video, even. These people are on Twitter, too, for fuck’s sake. That’s how you do bigotry in the 21st century.

But the way you combat this sort of 21st-century bigotry is not by engaging it, and certainly not online: never – NEVER – feed the trolls. You just have to out-troll them, like this.

Even that does nothing, though, except pointing out what everyone already knows: that these people are ridiculous. It’s not going to change any of their minds. Stupidity and bigotry and hate aren’t going anywhere, nor are idiots and bigots and hate-mongers. Ignoring them all is the path of least resistance – and the one I prefer, honestly – and arguing with them can be fun, but is ultimately unproductive. Ridicule is probably best, but it only makes them stronger, and the belief that persecution is the mark of rightness (and righteousness) in any and every case run centuries deep.

…fuck it, dudes, let’s go bowling. But if we run in to any WBC protesters, I’m going to wave my floppy dick at them.


Day 139: Bleed here [so you can be cloned later].

I have no desire to be cloned.

A clone of me would not be me, any more than identical twins are the same person. If there was (is?) already a clone of me out there – one that I didn’t know about, for some reason – and we met on the street, we would be total strangers. Strangers who looked extremely similar, yes, but still strangers. Doppelgängers. It would probably be an unpleasant meeting…

What do I gain by being cloned at some future point, after I’m dead? Nothing. I don’t lose anything, either: it’s happening after I’m dead, and the clone is – not to beat a dead horse – a totally different person. A clone of me a few hundred years hence will mean nothing more to me – and I nothing more to him – than my great-great-great-grandchildren will: to wit, nothing.

If someone clones me while I’m alive, that might be an issue: what if my clone tries to kill me and take over my life? Or: What if I’m the clone, and I’ve killed myself and taken over my life? OR: What if I’m merely one in an endless sequence of clones? What if none of this is real? Any of these scenarios is less than ideal. On the other hand, if my clone just wanted to be his own dude, and have his own life and job and name and car and et cetera, that would be totally fine. It might even be cool to have a beer with myself occasionally, under those circumstances.

People who want to be cloned after death are seeking some odd sort of vicarious immortality: they’re living forever, somehow, because their genetic material has been reconstituted and is walking around and talking and eating and shitting and doing whatever people will be doing for entertainment in the future.

There’s a better and more efficient way to have your genetic material walking around hundreds of years in the future: have children, and lots of them. Of course, this is only more efficient if you don’t raise the children yourself – because actually raising them is a lot more labor-intensive than just producing them, especially for the father – and so this strategy really only works for men (sorry, ladies). For men, though, it’s just a matter of impregnating as many women as possible – and in these days of paternity tests and child support and whatnot, as anonymously as possible – scattering children across the country (or the world?), in order to ensure that a reasonable number of one’s ‘illegitimate’ offspring survive to reproduce as well, thus propagating your genetic material downstream in the gene, uh, pool.

It’s what your genes want, after all.


Day 132: Your lucky number is 12.

I was twelve years old when I left home.

It wasn’t a great place to grow up: my mom had been shacked up with this short, hairy, greedy little bastard for as long as I could remember. Never knew who my father was. This dude my mom had hooked up with was the closest to a father-figure I had, I guess, but he did a shitty job; he treated my mom like a live-in maid, and me like an unwanted burden. He ran an auto repair shop, and put me to work almost as soon as I could walk. I think he had something shady going on, on the side – a back-room gambling operation, something like that.

When I was twelve, these two dudes came through town – had a hot, probably-not-quite-legal chick with them – man, did I have crush on her –– anyway, their rig had broken down, they needed some parts, brought it to the shop. The older dude took an interest in me right away – said I had ‘special talents’, something like that, and dropped hints that I should come with them. I was more than happy to get the fuck out of there, so when they left, I went with them.

They turned out to be drifters of some sort, and I think members of some sort of cult. They kept talking about how they were ‘protecting’ the ‘queen’ they had with them.

Shit got pretty out of hand a few weeks after I took up with them: the dudes ran into some dude from, I don’t know, a rival cult? Things turned violent really quickly, the old dude died, then the young dude killed the other dude. He dropped the ‘queen’ shortly thereafter, and he and I toured the country for a while. It was pretty cool, despite being pretty fucked-up – not that I had a good frame of reference, anyway. Dude was like the older brother I never had, and we got along pretty well, for a while.

Eventually, when I was, I don’t know, 19 or so, I decided to track down my mother. Went back to the shop I grew up in, found the short hairy bastard – told me he’d ditched my mom years ago, and she’d married some other dude. When I tracked him down, he told me my mom had been kidnapped by sand people about a month before.

I found her, she died in my arms, and I sort of lost my shit. Killed the whole tribe. Since then, Obi-Wan and I haven’t been getting along as well.

(Inspired by flossdaily and ruinmaker.)