An Advisory Thought Experiment

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I occasionally come up with thought experiments to keep myself entertained during my long, boring commute to and from work. It’s either that or fall asleep at the wheel (very, very bad) or resort to road rage while witnessing the stupidity all around me (even worse). So here is a thought experiment that I came up with recently:

If all humanity, with its current knowledge, were about to disappear, and you could only leave one sentence behind to help the next humans get started, what would it be?

Would you say “Wear a mask and wash your hands if you want to stay alive”? Because, let’s face it, if anything is going to wipe us out, it’s going to be that.

Would it be developmental advice, such as how to start a fire or build a wheel?

Perhaps it should be something related to the environment, such as the fact that fossil fuels and plastics do much more harm than good.

Or maybe it should be something along the lines of Make Love Not War.

But frankly, if we’ve finally managed to wipe ourselves out completely, then we have a lot of nerve trying to give any advice at all. That and, humans being what they are, they’re probably not going to listen to it anyway.

So my advice would be, “You’ll figure it out.” Because they would. And maybe they’d do a better job of it than we have. Here’s hoping.

But of course, the one basic flaw in this exercise is that the people would have to somehow know how to speak and read English from the very start. So yeah, maybe I should just focus on my driving.

Advice

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Upset that Everyone Now Has the Same Rights that You Do? Oh, Simmer Down.

Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, Fundamentalist, Atheist, anywhere in the spectrum, all Americans have to abide by the US constitution. There’s nowhere that says you have to like it. So feel free to pitch a tantrum. I just wish you’d do it in the privacy of your own home, because you are messin’ with my celebration here!

I’m never wild about getting political on this blog, but when the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act the other day we witnessed history, and I couldn’t be more proud. At a time when politicians on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers, and bureaucrats in general are behaving in a shameless, corrupt and despicable manner, it does my heart good to know that sometimes they still manage to get things right. And this administration has done more for LGBT rights than any other in the history of the world. Yay!

Opponents of this decision will use California as an example, and say that the federal government should have no right to overturn the decision of the majority of the people. California voted against proposition 8, thus depriving a segment of the population their right to marry, and saying only marriages between a man and a woman are legal, and that should be that, right?

To that I say poppycock. If you had asked the Germans to vote in 1935 to deprive the Jews of every single right imaginable, they would have. That wouldn’t make that action any less of an utter slap in the face of civil rights. So I’m THRILLED that the federal government doesn’t care what you want, California! There are times when what you want isn’t the right thing. Sorry.

Everyone should have the same rights. No group should be singled out. And every year, on the anniversary of this fateful day, and as more and more states make gay marriage legal, more and more people will pull their heads out of their behinds, look around, and realize that allowing people to marry whom they love has not in fact brought about the destruction of life as we know it. It hasn’t oozed into the very foundation of individual marriages, causing some sort of irreparable damage. It hasn’t caused children’s heads to explode. And it certainly isn’t going to loose the four horses of the apocalypse.

So enough with the free floating anxiety. Relax in the knowledge that civil rights seem to actually matter in this country, at least every once in a while.

Confetti

Come the Apocalypse, I Want to be with my Dog.

I have a new theory. The best possible thing that can happen when you are searching for a mate is a horrible first date, because then you can see how that person reacts under pressure. Stress separates the men from the boys. It cuts through all the surface bs and shows you what someone is truly made of. There are all sorts of ways of dealing with negativity, as evidenced by nature. All of these ways are legitimate, but only a few of them are viable in terms of a life partner in this modern world. Here are a few examples.

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The Shark. In times of great tension, the shark will not only attack the source of the problem, but will also turn on anyone and anything that happens to be in his vicinity, even members of its own family. When in the midst of this feeding frenzy, the shark has absolutely no regard for loyalty, and does not care about who is on his side. When in the presence of this type of fury, there is nothing you can do except prepare to be eaten. Frankly, I find the shark to be tragic and self-destructive. And the most depressing thing about the shark is he cannot see why this type of behavior is a problem. Somehow being eaten will become your fault. You’ll never feel completely safe with a shark.

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The Fainting Goat. Also known as the Myotonic Goat, this poor creature freezes in times of panic and keels over, thus rendering him utterly useless to himself or anyone else. I used to date one of these. Don’t ask me why.

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The Turtle. When the sh*t comes down and you’re with a turtle, you are on your own. He will pull himself into his shell and wait for the boogeyman to go away. Oh, he’ll protect himself all right, but he won’t confront anyone or anything and prefers to live in a state of denial. He’s completely resistant to change, which makes improvement impossible. Also, if you come by his house and he doesn’t feel like talking, he simply won’t come to the door. Who needs that?

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The Badger. No need to wait for a crisis situation when on a date with a badger. He’s going to be in a foul mood regardless, even if you could potentially be the best thing that ever happened to him. He’s never going to see it.

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The Porcupine. Now, here’s a guy who is prepared. He doesn’t want to be messed with, and has made sure that he won’t be. The problem is, since all he wants is to be left alone, he’ll never let you in.

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The Octopus. I have to admire this guy’s ability to avoid conflict. I like his stealth and intelligence. But if none of that works, he shoots ink. Do you want someone who’s going to throw stuff at you? No. That, and he tends to be clingy.

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Frilled Lizard. You’ve probably seen one of these guys on the National Geographic channel. When you piss one of them off, the frill on their neck expands and they’ll chase you on two feet. Yes, they look intimidating and they get the job done for the most part, but honestly, what would happen if you stood your ground with them? Not too much, I suspect. I think you’d win that confrontation. These guys are all sizzle and no steak.

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The Rattlesnake. The rattler is sort of a first strike kind of guy. He prefers to be the aggressor in anticipation of any possible antagonism you may or may not have in mind. Don’t hang out with the rattlesnake if you’re hoping for cozy get togethers with groups of friends.

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The Praying Mantis. Honestly? Do you really want to hang out with a guy who is so desperate for sex that he’s willing to go there with you even though he knows he’s going to get his head bitten off for his troubles? This guy is so focused on what he wants that he has no concept of the consequences.

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The Meerkat. I have to admit that I have a certain fondness for meerkats. They’re loyal. They’re family oriented, they’re protective, they’re cautious. But they’re also an emotional drain. They’re constantly anticipating trouble. They’re always on the lookout. Their watchword is paranoia. They never seem to relax.

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The Benobo. Scientists have dedicated their lives to studying benobos, because these cousins of ours seem to be totally devoid of aggression. They’re the hippies of the primate world. They’re all about free love and live and let live. I could see myself getting caught up in this lifestyle, but I suspect I’d get fat and complacent, and years would go by without my realizing it.

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The Dog. Dogs don’t seek fights, and in fact try to avoid them, but if you eff with them, they’ll take you out. I can respect that. They tend to restrict their aggression to those that deserve it. They’re loyal and protective, and usually generous and kind unless they’ve been abused. They’d much rather cuddle with you than argue, but they’ll do what they have to in order to protect themselves and the ones they love. A dog will always have your back. They also know how to heave a heavy sigh and release all tension. This, to me, is a very healthy and well-balanced approach to life. Yup, I’ll take a dog every time.

So next time you’re thrust into the dating world, pray for a flash flood or an earthquake or an armed robbery, because then you’ll know exactly what you’ve got on your hands. Disaster can save you a lot of time and heartache.

Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Twist

Is it just me, or is everyone experiencing a spate of mounting hysteria? I know the economy is bad, and there are wars and abuses and crime and tragedy. I know that there are plenty of causes and issues that need to be addressed. The four horses of the apocalypse are being kept quite busy, indeed. But something is different.

For example, here in America you’ll always get your fair share of people complaining about the president if he wasn’t the guy they voted for. That’s the beauty of democracy, in my opinion. But suddenly it’s not just the usual griping, it’s extreme panic. To hear them tell it, all guns will be confiscated so that we can all be trundled into concentration camps by the illegal immigrants, our senior citizens will be killed off, the rest of us are going to be sprayed in the face with some new government created virus, and while we experience a slow and agonizing death from that, we’ll all be forced into a gay marriage. But hey, at least the weather will be nice, because global warming is apparently some huge hoax that was devised in a worldwide conspiracy by 98 percent of all scientists to benefit…whom exactly? Beats me.

It’s even getting to the point where Facebook isn’t fun to visit anymore. Not only does it seem like the latest global outrage is the order of the day, but three times in the past two weeks I’ve watched debates turn into fights in which people who are supposed to be friends engage in hostile name calling.

What has happened to reasoned discourse? Where have courtesy and respect gone? What has happened to checking facts instead of spreading ridiculous rumors? When did we become so gullible? At the rate we’re going, this time next week people will actually believe that Godzilla is rampaging through the streets of New York City.

I long to sit down in a restaurant and hear everyone around me discussing sports, the weather, books they’ve read, their kid’s t-ball game, movies, music, art, dating, travel…anything, ANYTHING but fear, prejudice, hatred, disaster and death. Please. I’m begging you.

If I were queen of the world, the first thing I would do is issue a brown paper bag to all my subjects so that we could all breathe into them and stop this global hyperventilation.

Everything is going to be okay. Really.

Namaste

Doomsday Postponed: The Antidote for All This Holiday Cheer

Well we survived the Mayan Apocalypse. Whew! What a load off the shoulders of all those doomsday preppers out there. Or is it? I mean, once you get past the feeling of being a total fool, what do you do for fun?

Here’s the thing, people: the end of the world has apparently been coming for a long, long time. The first prediction I can find through my lazy Google search was for 634 BC. Apparently a lot of Romans thought that 12 eagles had revealed some mystical number that was supposed to represent the lifetime of Rome, and people arbitrarily decided that that each eagle represented 10 years, so Rome was supposed to be destroyed 120 years after its founding. I wonder how you prepare for the end of the world in an era when you don’t have canned goods?

There were many predictions that the world would end on December 31, 1999, but this kind of millennium prediction is, apparently, old hat, because the same thing happened 1000 years previously. Even the Pope at the time was in on that prediction, causing riots throughout Europe. Boy, I bet Pope Sylvester II felt awfully sheepish the next day. Doomsday predictions based on calendars that are made up, often quite arbitrarily, by humans make me laugh. (See more about that in my previous blog entry entitled “I’ve Got Your Number. Right here. https://theviewfromadrawbridge.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/ive-got-your-number-right-here/ )

Oh these pesky, impetuous popes! The ironically named Pope Innocent III predicted that the world would end 666 years after the beginning of Islam. So we should have been toast in the year 1284. Honestly? Is this responsible behavior for God’s Representative on Earth? I don’t think so!

But the funniest predictions, if you ask me, are from the people or groups whom I call “revisers”. These are people who have the audacity to push the date further out into the future when their previous predictions don’t come to pass. Case in point, the Bible Student Movement, the group responsible for originating those delightful Watch Tower tracts that get stuffed under your windshield wipers at strip malls to this day, has predicted that the world would end in 1874, and then (oops!) 1878, and then (our bad) 1881, and then (we mean it this time, really we do) 1908, and then (seriously) 1914, 1916, 1918, 1920, and 1925. For crying out loud, people! What’s it going to take for you to stop getting sucked in to this stuff?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses branched off from the Bible Student Movement, and jumped right on the doomsday bandwagon. They have predicted our ruin would occur in the years 1941, 1975, 1984, and then they wised up and got more vague and said it would all be over “sometime” before 2000. Well, so much for that. And yet I still get these people knocking on my door. When is THAT going to end? That’s what *I* want to know.

Another one I find amusing is Elizabeth Claire Prophet. She was the leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant. She became convinced that the Russians would start a nuclear attack and had her followers spend millions building an enormous fallout shelter. But we all know that construction projects are rarely, if ever, completed on time, so when the bunker wasn’t done by the predicted date of the nuclear attack, she simply revised the date. You’d think that would have been a bit of a red flag, but no. When the structure was finally completed, everyone took shelter and waited for the explosions, which, of course, never came. Not surprisingly, the movement lost a lot of followers after that, including her own son. Search her on youtube and you’ll see a lot of interesting footage of her in full military garb, or speaking in tongues. She came by her flair for languages honestly, though, as she claimed to have been previously incarnated as Nefertiti, Queen Guinevere of Camelot (apparently she was real after all), St. Theresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna and Marie Antoinette. She died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2009, leaving behind a big ol’ honkin’ fallout shelter in Montana, in case you and a couple thousand of your friends should ever need one.

Okay, so I have been poking fun at all these doomsday chumps, but sadly, these predictions can have a very negative and sometimes tragic fallout, if you’ll excuse the pun. People often spend a great deal of time and money preparing for an end that never comes. They also warp their children into living a life of fear and anxiety and paranoia. And even worse are the predictions that lead to death. On March 26, 1997, Marshall Applewhite and 38 of his followers in the Heaven’s Gate Cult committed mass suicide so that they could be picked up by a space ship and live lives at “a level of existence above human”.

Of course, I have no answers for all of this, and I’m certainly not going to make any predictions. I just know that there are a lot of people with anxiety disorders in the world, and there are even more people who are so desperate for answers that they’re willing to follow those people. I prefer not knowing the date of my demise. If the bombs are going to fall, I’d rather have them drop right on my head while I’m living my life to the fullest.

Jacksonville, Florida: America’s Best Kept Secret

Since we all seem to have survived the Mayan Apocalypse, it’s time to climb out of our bomb shelters and live a little. Get on the road. See the sights. For those of you who are in the mood for a road trip, Jacksonville is that big city that you drive through on Interstate 95 on your way to Disney World. Very few people bother stopping here. It’s like we’re the world’s biggest small town.

In fact, the greater Jacksonville area is home to well over a million people, and yet it seems like no one has ever heard of it, unless they follow the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over 800 square miles, It’s also the largest city in land mass in the United States. When you land at the Jacksonville airport you don’t even SEE our skyscrapers, because the runways are so far north of downtown. That has to be disconcerting if you’re a first time visitor.

Some fun facts about Jacksonville:

  • Elvis Presley did his first indoor performance here, at the Florida Theater. The show was monitored by a judge to make sure his hips didn’t get out of hand, so to speak.
  • Florida Theater also used to show movies, and it was the first theater in the world to serve popcorn.
  • Jacksonville used to have a huge movie industry. There were more than 30 studios here. The Creature from the Black Lagoon was filmed here. Which tells you all you need to know about the health of our waterways.
  • We have contributed to the world of music in many ways. Pat Boone was from Jacksonville, as were the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special and Limp Bizkit (are you getting the impression that we have issues with spelling?) and the disk Jockey Rick Dees. We also host the second largest jazz festival in the country, and one of the oldest and largest blues festivals.
  • In fact, Lynyrd Skynyrd took its name from a teacher who gave them a hard time, the late Leonard Skinner. He was a teacher at Lee High School, and was also, briefly, a bridgetender at one of the bridges that I work on.
  • We were put on the map briefly in 1988 due to the Morning Glory Funeral Home scandal. 36 decomposing bodies were discovered in the funeral home, most of which were stuffed in a closet, and some had been there for over 10 years. Later they found multiple bodies buried in single caskets in the local paupers cemetery. The funeral director was convicted for taking money for funerals that were never performed, and the regulations on Florida funeral homes became much stricter after that.
  • For 11 years, Jacksonville was the murder capital of Florida, but crime has gone down of late, probably due in part to the closing of one Navy base, and the fact that the other two are practically ghost towns now, due to wars overseas.
  • The first Burger King was located in Jacksonville.
  • The St. Johns River cuts through town and empties into the Atlantic Ocean here. The river runs north, just like the Nile.
  • We are home to the largest concrete cable-supported bridge in the world.
  • Professional golfers Mark McCumber, Fred Funk, Vijay Singh, and David Duval are from here.
  • The list of NFL players from Jacksonville is so long that naming them here would be tedious.

There are plenty of things to see and do in Jacksonville, but if you’re reading this blog then I’m sure you know how to Google, too, so we won’t get into that here. Just know that if you drive through on the way to Disney, it might be worth stopping after all.