Thoughts @ Large: 76

≡  Whenever I ask Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes (typically when I am grilling burgers), I’m always surprised how quickly those few minutes pass.  It’s like, wow, already?  I hardly had time to sit down, and now you’re telling me those minutes are gone.  Good thing Alexa is not sitting on our shoulders, timing what remains of our lives.

≡  If you were to live on Wild Magnolia Way near Zirconia, North Carolina — specifically at the coordinates 35.1653N, 82.4559W — you could walk 1300 feet north, 1300 feet south, 1300 feet east, or 1300 feet west, and in each case, for better or worse, you would wind up in South Carolina.  (OK.  It would be worse.  Sorry, not really, South Carolina.)

≡  By the way, the previous “thought” took me over an hour to research.  Good thing Alexa was not sitting on my shoulder, timing how much of my life ticked past on that exercise.

≡  In Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life, Gavin Larsen writes: “The curse of being a good faker is that people begin to think you’re for real, and then they expect things.”  For many, the next step along this path is self-deprecation, our indirect way of saying, “Please don’t expect anything more of me than I expect of myself.”

≡  The reverse side of this coin is impostor syndrome: they expected things of me, and those things were delivered, so they judged me to be competent even though the outcome was uncertain and only partly due to my effort.  I got more credit than I deserved for the fortune of working with good people.  Damn expectations, the curse of transactional life.

≡  I was just notified that MailChimp, the (free-to-me) service I use to send update notices to my subscribers, is selling itself to Intuit, owner of TurboTax and QuickBooks.  Somehow I will not be surprised the day I’m told that I will have to pay for the privilege of letting you know something new has been posted here.  As always, money marches on.

≡  Here’s a good one.  I’m always impatient to have my first cup of coffee after I wake up.  Last night, to speed up the process, I decided I would pre-fill the carafe with water and put the filter in the coffee-maker basket so that I wouldn’t have to fumble around with those tasks in the morning.  All I would have to do is grind the coffee, dump it into the basket, empty the carafe into the reservoir, and turn on the machine.  So fast-forward to this morning.  I go through the motions of making coffee and then sit down in the family room to wait, and voilà!  I’m amazed how fast the coffee-maker beeps to let me know my coffee is ready!  I go back out to the kitchen to find cool, clear water sitting in the carafe.

≡  The world would be a happier place if people didn’t get so bent out of shape when their expectations were not met.  When exactly did perfectionism become not only a thing but an entitlement?

≡  There needs to be a set of words for forms of government that are distinguished by the fact that men define them and control them.  For example, theomanocracy is the kind of government you find in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Vatican City.  And then there is demomanocracy, whose most notable example is the U.S.A. — the 88th-ranked nation in terms of women’s participation in congress/parliament (23%).  But let’s not forget about commumanism as practiced in the People’s Republic of China — there is only one woman in their 25-member Politburo and no women at all in their 7-member leadership circle.

≡  If you are looking a word for forms of government distinguished by the fact that women define them and control them, then I can supply it — none-ocracies.

≡  I was rear-ended at an on-ramp in early June.  My vehicle had under 4000 miles on it, thus ended my new-car honeymoon.  The parts to complete the repair took two months to arrive, so the work was just finished this week.  Since the crash, I have become paranoid about other vehicles ramming into me from behind — I find myself constantly checking my rear-view mirror for drivers talking on their phones who don’t care about attention spans or stopping distances.  What am I supposed to do about them?  It signifies a huge loss of social trust when drivers are forced to manage the space behind them as carefully as the space ahead.

≡  Not long ago, my spouse noticed a highly-agitated person in the parking lot of our local supermarket, talking to himself.  She was concerned about his well-being (as well as those he might encounter) but she did not know who to call so he might get help.  After hearing her story, I was compelled to look into this — who would I call?  How would they respond?  There is no clear answer to either question, at least in these parts.  What about in yours?  This topic is much more than a “thought” and will be taken up again in a future post.

≡  Handbook of Western Culture Rule No. 118:  “No performer in a blues song, rap song or action movie shall say whom or isn’t.  [The preferred forms are who and ain’t.]  Moreover,  those who observe Rule No. 118 are considered to have adhered to Western Cultural norms and thus shall not be held in breach of conflicting linguistic rules in this Handbook.”

≡  Our not-so-local (Saga) “pure oldies” station often plays “Ferry Cross the Mersey” by the British band Gerry and the Pacemakers and written by the band’s leader Gerry Marsden.  “Mersey” refers to the River Mersey that divides the cities of Liverpool and Birkenhead, Liverpool’s poorer cousin.  Since I usually listen to oldies on my portable radio when I do outdoor projects — and since Saga has a rather limited rotation — I have probably heard “Ferry Cross the Mersey” ten times as much in my sixties than I ever did in the sixties.

I single out “Ferry Cross the Mersey” because, when I actually listened to the song, I was intrigued by the lyrics:  People around every corner / They seem to smile and say / We don’t care what your name is, boy / We’ll never send you away…

Where did this come from?  The song was about crossing an English river, for godsake!  Marsden makes it sound like his ferry transported him to a foreign and hostile land, only to be taken aback when the townfolk of Birkenhead didn’t spit on him and throw him into the stockade.*

But upon further review, I thought… rivers, walls, trenches, hollers, streets, railroads, Mason-Dixon lines… any boundary at all can serve as a way to separate us from them.  Maybe Gerry — and his ferry — were onto something.

* The north side (Liverpool) and the south side (Birkenhead) of the Mersey had been in different counties (Lancashire and Cheshire, respectively) for 783 years when Marsden wrote his song.
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6 Responses to Thoughts @ Large: 76

  1. Eric says:

    Good stuff, Craig; thought-provoking and informative as usual.

    I will point out an early exception to Rule No. 118. In the Supremes’ hit “Back In My Arms Again”, Ms. Ross sings: “This time I’ll live my life at ease; being happy loving *whom* I please”. Somehow that usage always resonated with me!

  2. Bruce says:

    Like The Force, curiosity and diverse interests are strong in this one! Enjoyed reading this, I did!

    I too have heard “Ferry Cross the Mersey” much more in my late adult life than I did as a youth. I never thought too much about the lyrics. I assumed it was just nostalgia for one’s home town. When I spent a weekend in Liverpool on a business trip in 2008, I did mostly Beatles pilgrimage stuff, the Beatles Museum and the Magical Mystery bus tour to visit all the Fab sites (Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the reconstructed Cavern Club, the church where John and Paul met, etc.). It was cool and I also recall thinking “wow, there’s the River Mersey – might I ferry ‘cross it?” but alas, the weather was crap and I just stuck to the Beatles theme. But now every time I hear “Ferry” I think of that weekend in Liverpool. There’s also a cool Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport.

  3. Rick says:

    Two years ago when my car was a month old I was in the left lane and someone from the right lane ran right into me. Ever since then I always worry that someone’s going to do that to me.

    My solution to the coffee problem is K cups. I think they taste just as good as any brewed coffee I’ve had.

  4. Gavin Larsen says:

    The crazy, complicated result of the ballet dancer’s mentality is a blend of both self-deprecation and imposter syndrome. We truly flip from one to the next hour by hour in the course of a typical rehearsal or performance day. Expected to be a superstar one moment, but a worker bee/cog in the wheel the next does confuse a person’s sense of worth, accomplishment, and ability.
    But I’d add that the beauty of it is the fabulous freedom of dancing itself!
    Thanks for this insight and these thoughtful thoughts, Craig!
    (I, too, have total car PTSD after a summer of mechanical snafus… now the slightest rattle makes me panic the car is about to explode…)

  5. Rob says:

    But if you walk a mile south, a mile east, a mile north and wind up where you started, what color is the nearest bear?

  6. Rob says:

    -My uncle Leo, 97, often says, after a particularly nondescript bit of conversation, “Do you realize what percentage of my remaining time you’ve just used up?”
    -“We’ll never turn you away.”

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