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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Brown Eggs

This morning I was making an omelette for breakfast when I got the eggs out of the refrigerator.  Organic, brown eggs.  Organic is mostly because of my wife though I do agree with only buying "free range", "cage free" eggs.  But the brown eggs are my choice.  Why?  Just my childhood.  See, I do understand the color of the eggshells have more to do with the color of the hen's ears than anything else and all color chicken eggs are equal nutritionally.  But, my parents preferred brown eggs so I do also.  Nothing to do with any real positive for brown eggs.  Just something unconsciously learned from my childhood.

Made me wonder just how many things I do which really does not make any sense but are just things I learned in childhood and I choose because it is "comfortable"?  I got to thinking about it and find maybe I don't really have that many things I do just because "that is how I grew up".  But "how I grew up" makes some things "normal" and "best".  No matter what nutritionists say.

Like, no breakfast is complete without bacon.  But the best breakfasts have bacon, sausage and ham.  That is what my grandparents had every morning.  Eggs are best "over medium" so I can melt butter in the yolk before eating.  That was leaned from my now deceased brother-in-law, Homer.  Still the only way I want to eat eggs.

Redeye gravy.... different things different people consider redeye gravy.  Most think it needs coffee.  My grandmother must made it by putting water in the pan where the ham was fried and "degassed" it so the water turned red with ham fat.  Put regular gravy over my eggs and crumbled bacon then a couple of spoons of "redeye" gravy on that...  Yum!

I thing there are things we learn as children we don't even think about later in life.  What we had as children is just the "way it should be".  Even today at age sixty-one breakfast is just not breakfast without "over-medium" eggs, bacon and either biscuits (my preference) or toast (a surrender to my waistline).  Some Fridays I still have to have gravy and biscuits with my breakfast.  Generally makes me sick but it is still worth it going down no matter how much it hurts coming back up.  :-)

Just kind of amazing how many things in our lives are determined by how we lived out lives while our ages were still in single digits.  Looking back now I can see so much of my thoughts, views, beliefs were "set in stone" while I was still quite young.  Thing is, I'm also sure those things were NOT what either of my parents were trying to beat into my head from the other end.

Friday, June 19, 2015

At the Bottom Looking Down

Looking Down From the Bottom

Today is a day I don’t want to last
Nothing I can do about present or past
Always these memories keep coming ‘round
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down.

Tomorrow may be different; I really don’t care
For better or worse I know how I’ll fare
How much longer can I stay above ground
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

At night I don’t sleep; Just lie in the night
Wondering if it’s worth it to keep up the fight
I’m a stray dog on my last day in the pound
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

I used to love reading; Now they’re just words
I used to love Robins: Now they’re just birds
I used to love music:  Now they’re just sounds
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wood Smoke and Ice Cream

The past few days I've been thinking about little things.  Things like the smell of wood smoke from a small campfire or a raging forest fire.  Wood smoke brings in images of late summer and early autumn when the leaves are dry and forest fires prevalent.  Also, of times I've been alone or with others and built up a fire under a rock cliff.  Sometimes it was to keep warm.  Sometimes it was just because I like fires.

This particular memory is when two of my cousins, Skip and Steve and myself walked through the snow  over to a small store just across the county line.  It was just a tiny, old building.  It did not have much but it did have a freezer with ice cream.  This particular time we each bought a half gallon of ice cream.  I don't even remember the flavors.

In the cold and snow we plodded back toward home but about half way there we cut over the hill and made our way through a half frozen, swampy area and up Rush Fork until we came to a nice sized rock cliff on the left side of the creek.  That area always had a distinctive smell because there was a sulfur spring on the upper end of the cliff which oozed into the creek and left long, yellow trails.

We all gathered wood from around the area and build up a roaring fire under the cliff.  Each of us opened our carton of ice cream and, bending one of the flaps into a "spoon" we each dug in.

I do not know for sure how old I would have been then.  No more than twelve I think.  I think that because after we ate all that ice cream they went home and I went to my grandparent's house.  Since we moved back to that area when I was thirteen and I did not go home I'm thinking twelve or a little younger.

Steve was about a year younger and Skip was a few years older.  I don't know what we talked about or how long we stayed there under that rock cliff by the fire but it was long enough for each of us to consume all of our half gallon of ice cream completely.  Quite an accomplishment for being so young.

And as I recall, none of us got sick from all that ice cream.  Little things like that are what we remember most.  The big things are there but they are always there.  A smell, an object or a sound can trigger the memory to recall some small thing.  Those are the kind of things I remember when I smell wood smoke.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shhhh, Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. I'm Hunting Weality

Paraphrasing one of the great intellectuals of our time, Elmer Fudd in the title.  It seems the search for reality is as doomed to failure and frustration as Elmer's search for that "Wascilly Wabbit".  It is simple enough to look around us and take what we see as the pure and simple reality but is that really the case?

It has been proven the the mere act of observation can alter reality at the Quantum level.  Light for instance acts both as a particle and as a wave.  It just depends on how the observer measures it.  Electrons act the same way.  Unobserved they act as a wave but "look" at them and they start acting as a particle.  So, if reality can be changed at the quantum level merely by the act of observation just how "real" is the "reality" we think we see?

There is also another part of Quantum Theory which states the belief the universe needs a conscious observer in order to exist.  To me that raises a very interesting question.  See, the universe is something on he order of thirteen billion years old.  Our dear, back water planet Earth is only around four billion years old and  what we could consider a being capable of conscious observation would only be several hundred million years old.  Given one is willing to accept the dinosaurs and their predecessors were conscious observers.

That raises the question of who was observing the universe for those intervening eight to eleven billion years?  Someone or something conscious had to be in order for the universe to exist according to that theory and it assuredly was not mankind or any of his/her predecessors on earth.

Given the millions and billions of years it took for even the first starts and planets to form let alone any conscious life on those planets this universe had to exist for an awfully long time without any internal conscious observers.  Would that not imply there were one or more external conscious observers?  Someone or something (singular or plural) outside what we know as the universe who had to exist in order for the universe to come into being?

To me this thought has all sorts of implications.  While I do not believe at all in any human created deity or pantheon it does lead one to speculate if there is not really a creator of our universe.  No, not the Semitic War God YWEH/Jehovah or his peace loving hippy of an abused 'son' or Osiris and his brethren and sisteren(? Is that even a word?) or any other of the human creations used to explain a world beyond our understanding that does not preclude the possibility the universe we live in did have a creator.

For 'god' did not create man in his own image but just the reverse.  Man created all gods in our own image and imbued them with all our human characteristics good, bad and indifferent.  Love, hate, intolerance and lust.  Oh, lots and lots of lust.  One thing you can say about our gods they do love a good sex life.  The kinkier the better it seems.  Just like us with all our nobleness and failings.  Really nothing god-like about our gods.

So, just leave all the human imagined rulers of the universe out of the equation.  Forget the invisible big Daddy in the sky who loves us all like the chronically abused children we are.  Think about the big picture.  Think back to those billions and billions of years before humanity started imagining supernatural beings to explain the weather and other, at the time, inexplicable events.

If the human created gods were not around to observer the universe from pre-creation who or what conscious entity or entities were?  Are we the product of some super being's science experiment?  Perhaps for some doctoral thesis at Pharoutthar U.  Perhaps just a complex super computer simulation?  Maybe just a hobby universe given to some kid who got tired of playing with it and left us ignored or just grew up and tossed us in the attic?

Maybe there are space aliens from other starts visiting earth after all.  I mean how much effort would it take for Mr (or Ms... can't be gender biased when contemplating super beings)Super-being to just "drag and drop" beings from one star onto another?  Or maybe just create them on a whim to see what would happen?

I wonder what Mr Spock would make of all this?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Creeks and Crawdads

My elder daughter posted on Facebook today about one's favorite thing to do when age ten.  Being that was somewhat over fifty years ago I had do to pause and consider.  But, first, let me tell you something about my world at age ten.

That would have been the year of 1964.  I know I was in the fourth grade for the '63 - '64 school year as I can clearly recall sitting in the sun on the porch in front of Mrs Hazelett's fourth grade school room and thinking about President Kennedy's assassination in November of '63.

Other than being historically significant with the assassination it was a watershed year for me as well for, as I recall, that was the year I made the acquaintance of three men who were to be a great influence in my life from there on out.

They were Isaac Isamov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. In case you are not familiar with those names they are three of the greatest luminaries from the golden age of Science Fiction.  Plus all were scientists themselves as well as being writers.  I suppose Asimov was the most prominent as he was assuredly the most prolific.

By the time I reached the fourth grade I was reading at an adult level.  And I was a voracious reader.  It was not just that I loved to read it was that I was also pretty much ostracized from the social activities of my peers at school and not allowed to "associate" with them when not in school.  One of my parent's few shared beliefs was anyone whom I were to associate with would be a bad influence on "their little angel".  So, books had quickly become my best and, mostly, only friends.

But, when I was not in school and did not have access to the book-mobile my reading material was pretty limited.  But, during the summer and and on many weekends my dad and I would catch the passenger train at West Van Lear and ride down to the Patrick station.  From there we'd walk up the creek and across the gap to the Nat's Creek side and follow the foot path to my grandparent's house.  I don't think my dad bought me my own shotgun and took me squirrel hunting until the next year.  So, my most common past time was playing in the creek down in front of grandparent's house.

It was not a large stream but it seemed pretty big to me.  I guess the deepest part was about mid shin on me at that point in time.  The part right in front of my grandparent's house was the deepest and slowest flowing and it had a sandy bottom.  But just above and below that were rocky shallows where there were crawdads under almost every rock of any size.

So that is what I responded to her Facebook with as my favorite activity when I was ten.  Playing in the creek and catching crawdads.  Or crayfish if you prefer.  They will always just be crawdads to me.

Being a long way from the bayous we never thought at all about eating them but they did make really good fish baits.  Bass would "tear up" the whole ones and most any fish would bite on a peeled tail.  Maybe we should have taken a note of what the fish ate and tried them ourselves.  I know I was certainly hungry enough all the time in those days where I'd have tried almost anything anyone put in front of me.  Well, except vegetable.  Was never much for vegetables when I was a kid.

That creek is wildly different now though.  It seems much smaller than in memory and the strip mines dumped so much sand/silt in it all the fish, minnows and , probably, crawdads died out.  In the years after the strip mines left it has been recovering though.  A lot of the sand has washed out and the life is returning though it is mostly overgrown as people no longer use it for a road.

Yep, I reckon at age ten playing in that creek and catching crawdads would have to rate as my favorite thing.  Unless I had a good book.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pie Crust and Oddly Shaped Biscuits

These two things may not seem to have much in common but they were both a part of my childhood I look back on with fondness.  See, when I was growing up it was back in the time when all moms were "stay at home" and all moms cooked three meals every day.  Plus assorted baking and all the household chores.

From the time I can really remember until my late teens I helped my mother with cooking a lot.  Two of my favorite treats from those times were the baked trimmings from the "made from scratch" pie crusts she made and the oddly shaped portions of biscuit dough after the biscuits were cut out.

Mother would put the pie crust trimmings in a separate pan and bake them in the oven until they were nice and brown.  I think I liked those almost as much as the pies themselves.  Same with biscuits.  Mother made "scratch" biscuits every morning and used an old jelly glass to cut out the biscuits.  As for the jelly glass that was what the biggest part of our "water" glasses were.  Mother never had a real set of drinking glasses.  We just made use of what we had.

But cutting out the biscuits this way left little strings of dough between the holes from cutting out the "real" biscuits.  Mother would group these at the end of the pan and those are what I'd eat at breakfast while mother and dad ate the regular biscuits.

I guess the reason I liked those "left over" biscuits was the greater crust to biscuit ration.  Plus they were smaller and got done quicker so they were browner than the larger biscuits.  That was the good part.  One of my (many) faults with the biscuits I get when eating out these days is they are never browned enough.  And, let me tell you this, butter on top will never brown a biscuit the way bacon drippings (grease) will.  Nor will the biscuit taste as good.

In the years between my marriages I did, on rare occasion, make both biscuits and pies from "scratch".  Mostly my biscuits were pretty good and so were my pie crusts.  Now, the "whop" biscuits (store bought in a cardboard tube.  Whop comes from a Jerry Clower comedy routine.) and refrigerated pie crusts have become so good we never bother to do it the right way.

Nothing spectacular or important about it but those two things are something from my childhood I recall with fondness.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Question Which Occurred to Me Today

It is purely theoretical and, thankfully, no one will ever have to make this decision. But, I was wondering if a group of aliens from space or one of the many "gods" people seem to believe are out there came to you in real life and told you we/he/she/it feel there are way to many humans on your planet and we intend to wipe 50% of the from the face of the earth.  But, we/he/she/it does not know who deserves to live and who deserves to die.  So, you have been chosen to decide.

Latest stats say there are approximately 7.125 billion people on this planet.  That would mean you would have to decide which 3.5625 billion people who were going to die.  How would you decide?  Who would you decide on?  What would be the criteria?  On what basis would you decide how to select over three and one half billion people who would not see tomorrow alive?

Do you do it on personal bias and hatred?  Do you take the easy way out and just name the few countries with the highest populations?   How would you decide who dies and who lives?

What if you had twenty-four hours to choose?  What if you had one hour?  What about ten minutes?  Or you have to say now?

Do you try to protect your friends, family and those who are most like yourself?  Do you kill off all the old and infirm?  What about all the children who are not perfectly "normal"?  Do you give everyone an IQ test and kill off the half who score the lowest?  What about a physical fitness test and kill of the half who score lowest on that?  Do you include yourself in the criteria?

Three and a half billion people.  That is an awful lot of people.  Honestly, I could only come up with maybe a hundred thousand who would be easy,.  That is a drop in the bucket to three and a half billion.

Maybe you tell them to just leave us all alone or wipe us all out that you are not going to choose who lives and who dies and put it back in their hands?

Think about it for a while.  No matter how many things you think you hate about this world or who you think you hate for whatever reason that is three and a half billion people.  Real, live, people with minds and bodies.  People who love, hate, have dreams for tomorrow.

Then, if you can't come up with an answer.  Ask yourself this, "If I can't come up with a list of people I hate enough to mark for death then how many of them do I really hate"?  Like I said I could come up with around maybe 100K with no problems.  I could think of a couple of other categories I'd have no problem with getting rid of.

I'm quite happy it is only a theoretical question.  I'm glad I'll never have the power to make those kind of decisions.  But there are people who have that power and it follows them around every day.  Those are the people in control of all the nuclear weapons on our planet.  Think about that for a while.

Then, maybe, think about that at the polling place.  Who would you trust to have that kind of power at their fingertips?  Think voting is not important?  Well, I think it is important to have a say who has their finger on that button.  Maybe the most important thing in the world.