Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elect Me King and I Promise to...

My brief opinions on U.S. political matters of the day... am I Liberal?  Conservative?  Or some kind of tranny?

Raise the debt ceiling?  Duh... we have to pay bills we've already piled up.

Balanced budget amendment?  Yes.  Eventually we have to balance the budget again.  Unless we want to continue to prop up a false prosperity while we're actually circling the toilet bowl.

Raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires?  Yes.  You fish where the fish are.

Cut the deficit?  Don't just diet or exercise.  Diet AND exercise.  But don't starve yourself or think you have to lose all the weight overnight.

Means testing for Social Security and Medicare?  Of course.  Millionaires don't need a Social Security check or extra health insurance.  But wait, you say -- they paid in.  Yes, and in return they got to live in a country where they could become millionaires.

Raise the age to receive Social Security?  Yes.  People live longer than they did in the 1930s.

Wage wars without raising taxes to pay for them?  No.

Wage wars at all?  None since WWII.

Military spending?  Bloated and wasteful.  You could feed a lot of poor people with the money it takes to keep an aircraft carrier afloat.  Defense is not the same thing as "World Police".

Military men and women?  People who wanted a job.  My issue is with the policy makers who put these people's lives on the line.

Corporate subsidies?  No.

Farm subsidies?  No, except when food prices threaten to get overheated.

Obama stimulus package to avoid Great Depression 2?  Yes.

Did the stimulus package work?  I think it would have been much, much worse without it.

Bailout of Wall Street?  No.

Awareness that the consequences of not bailing out the banks would have been truly devastating to the US economic house of cards?  Yes.

Wait a minute, now... Yes, stimulate the economy when necessary.  Yes, let businesses that fail, FAIL.

Obama?  Another corporate lackey.

Republicans?  Mostly evil as shit.  They make Obama look like Jesus.

Democrats?  The gang that couldn't shoot straight.  Constantly finding new ways to skitter in embarrassing circles.  But some of their hearts seem to be in the right place.

Relax.  I'm here to fix everything.
Republicans again?  Well-funded sharks, with laser beams on their heads.

Business?  Exists to take your money.

Working people?  Who government should be serving.

Public sector workers?  Not the enemy.

Corporations?  The enemy.

Government?  The only Kryptonite we have against corporate power.  Unfortunately, the corporations own the Kryptonite mining operations.

Obamacare?  A start.

National health care for everyone?  Big YES.  Are we civilized or are we fucking barbarians?

If you disagree with me, it probably means that I'm wrong, you're right, and that my opinion doesn't matter anyway.  But just remember -- I vote.  And my vote cancels out your vote.  Just a little something to suck on.

***Mister Mirror*** Please link to us on your blog or website. http://mistermirror.blogspot.com/ @JPSterling

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You're the Soup

As part of my current diet, I gave up caffeine.  But I made a deal with myself.  Once a week, I can drink or eat anything I want.

I think that in the past, part of what's derailed my diets is that I swear to myself that I can never again for the rest of my life eat a sausage biscuit, and then days later when I've found a rationalization for doing exactly yummy that, I feel like a loser.  I made a promise to myself and broke it.  I made a plan and couldn't follow through.  What a willpower-less wimp.  And that's when the diet wheels come off.

So this diet-time around, I've taken a different tack.  I give myself Saturdays off.  If I want to eat pizza and guzzle strawberry milkshakes all day one day a week, I've given myself permission to do exactly that.  It's not necessary to go the rest of my life without ever eating Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream again.  I just have to earn it by eating the way I should the rest of the week.

Success breeds success, though, and -- what, more than three weeks into the diet now? -- when Saturday comes, I don't make as much a pig of myself as I might because my stomach is shrinking and I get full faster.  Yesterday, for example I did have two biscuits for breakfast, but I had a big salad for lunch, and at dinner I wasn't really hungry so I snacked on some Cheerios.

The problem was the Big Gulp Diet Mountain Dew I drank while we were out hitting the garage sales.

As is my way, it's taken me six paragraphs to get to the subject.  Sticklers for precision and brevity won't have even gotten this far, so it seems you're my kind of reader, and I should reward your patience by sharing some sinister secrets or a snippet from a spicy story about seduction and sex.  You know, hide the juicy stuff deep into the blog post, wait to get naked till we've gotten comfortable with each other.  Servants!  Chocolate covered orgasms for all my friends!       

As is my way, it's taken me seven paragraphs to get to the subject.  The Big Gulp Diet Mountain Dew.  Not drinking caffeine six days a week has given me a clear look at what the actual effects are that caffeine has on me.  As it turns out... the eye twitch I had that made me think I had some kind of neurological disorder?  Well, I hadn't noticed it, but it had gone away when I stopped drinking caffeine.  When I drank the Mountain Dew, blam!  After a couple of hours, I started winking uncontrollably.  And there's more.   

All my life, I've had obsessive thoughts.  Don't worry, it's nothing insidious.  You know when you get cut off in traffic and the guy who did it leans out of his car window and calls YOU "asshole"?  And then all day, you think about that exchange, going over in your mind all the things you could have or should have yelled back?  What I think is just like that, except I do that about everything.

On my worst days, it's as if every human exchange I have happens in a courtroom, and internally, I'm perpetually in the process of defending my every action and choice of words.  But I'm also the prosecutor, poking holes in my own reasoning and putting forth the case that I'm a worthless, terrible person who can't do anything right.  And at the same time, I'm my own judge.  And not a stern but comforting and fair television judge -- I'm a small-town, corrupt good ol' boy judge who got paid off on the golf range earlier that day to find myself guilty.  If you have a problem with me, don't worry, I've probably already thought of it and punished myself for it.

But those are the bad days.  On a normal day, I can use that anxious energy to get stuff done.  I have to get my work done or, or -- or what?  Doesn't matter, had a productive day.     

When I was young, I thought I was "analytical".  I got older and wonder if I'm just fucking crazy.  But maybe it's better not to know that.  If I peeked at a diagram of my mind, it would probably look like the jumble of wires behind my desk, and there's no way I'm crawling back there to see what's connected to what unless the printer stops working.  Too much dust, and spiders.      

So the Big Gulp Diet Mountain Dew?  It puts my personal brand of hyper, worried thinking into overdrive.  My normal low-level anxiety is what nature gave me instead of a personality.  Caffeine takes my normally fretting but reasonable Dr.Jeckyll and transforms him right past Hyde into a deranged and rabid shit-flinging flying monkey.

I wouldn't have known this, though, if I hadn't stopped drinking caffeine.  Drinking it after not drinking it for six days makes its amplifying effects abundantly apparent.  As it turns out, drinking caffeine every day for years might not have been the best thing for me, no matter how "focused" and "productive" I felt like it made me, and how "listless" and "unmotivated" I thought I was on days I didn't partake.     

"That's something you'll just have to find out for yourself," she said, pulling her panties down around her ankles and tossing them to the floor.  She stared at Karl's face as his eyes tiptoed up and down her small, athletic body.  "I've wanted this for a long time.  You don't even know."  As Karl stepped toward her, confident and erect,  he didn't notice her slender fingers sliding under the pillow toward the pistol.  "So long..." she said.   

So I told you all of that to tell you this.  It's hard to self-monitor.  It's hard to tell whether the soup has enough salt when you're the soup.  I don't even think people are even half self-aware until around age 30, and even then there's the danger of becoming a self-caricature.

It's easy enough to see what someone else is doing wrong, what he or she should try to do differently.  Easy when you have a perspective that's not from inside that person's skull, seeing through the gauze of his own experiences and prejudices and rationalizations.  It's harder to see in yourself. 

Your posts on Facebook may reveal you to others but not yourself.  For example, if your profile photo shows you grinning and brandishing a can of beer, but you complain that you are unemployed.  Or if in one post you are asking where the party is, and in the next you are griping about your mystery headache and fatigue.  Or if you are someone who drinks coffee all day long, and you fuss about your unexplainable insomnia.  Or if you constantly post about the delicious Moon Pies and devil's food cake burritos and cinnamon toasty banana caramel milkshakes you've been enjoying, then ask for sympathy for your obesity, diabetes, and latest knee surgery.  Or my favorite - if you can afford to smoke cigarettes, but you bitch about not having any money. 

How would your life be different if you viewed yourself in third person, if every night you had to watch a video-tape of you going through your day?  Would pimples we think we cover with make-up actually look like boils?  I won't ever be ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille.

Maybe if someone had told me years ago "Hey, the reason your brain is like a jumpy jumping bean is that all these sodas you've been drinking have a powerful drug in them..."  Well, I would have known that already but I wouldn't have listened, of course.  In my teens, I knew everything already.  In my 20s, I knew everything about everything and everybody else except myself.  In my 30s, I knew everything about everybody else, and myself, except I was wrong.  In my 40s, I know everything except the things I don't know, and the things I know which can change. 

At least I finally figured out to try to hold up a mirror.           
***Mister Mirror*** Please link to us on your blog or website. http://mistermirror.blogspot.com/ @JPSterling

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sure. Can I See a Picture ID?

Every so often I'll hear someone, usually an older person, say something along the lines of "I would never use my credit card to buy something on the internet!" The World Wide Web is well-known as a den of thieves, and there are plenty of ways to get your credit card information and your identity stolen online. Granted, you usually have to do something stupid or naive, but admittedly, the only 100% surefire way to not get your bank-card number stolen online is to never buy anything online at all.

My personal typing technique, which I call "The Claw"
Now, I shop online all the time. I make my living buying things from people and selling them to other people and making online transactions. I use Paypal, I use my credit cards, I've never had a problem, and millions of other people have no problems buying billions of things for trillions of dollars every day. Bad things can happen, they're a headache, but you can also lose the millions you've sewn into your mattress if there's a fire. To be alive is to be treading in a river of risk.

What amuses me about folks who won't use their bank cards online is that they often don't hesitate to hand them to complete strangers. If you're that worried about someone stealing your credit card number, why are you so quick to release it to a high-school kid at a Chuck-E-Cheese, and then punctuate the exchange by voluntarily issuing to him a copy of your signature? Is there something about that $7.25 an hour he's making that makes him more trustworthy than Amazon.com?

Consider this. You've been standing at the perfume counter for 10 minutes and you're sick of waiting for the counter girl to deal with another customer. You've had a long day and your feet hurt and when the girl gets to you, you're huffy and short and nasty and blame her for your bad experience, even though she's probably earning minimum wage and isn't the person who made the schedule that's left the counter short-handed. You're cruel to the little wench and you don't even know why, but you can see in her eyes that you've hurt her and made her more than a little angry, though she maintains the facade of the professional smile. You smile back the "sucks to be you" acknowledgement that part of the price you're paying for the cologne you've picked out is your opportunity to be bigger than someone else for five minutes.

Rather than apologize, you look at this girl you've just wounded, who you aren't aware is a single-mom working on her nursing degree and surviving on three hours sleep a night and who has dealt with bitches like you all day long and has just about reached her limit, and hand her your credit card. Now she has your credit card number, your secret three-digit security number from the back of the card, and a moment later, your signature. You have just willingly handed your personal information to someone you've been completely shitty to, and who has every reason to want revenge on you. What stops her from writing down the numbers from your card and tracing your signature off of the receipt in the register drawer, then passing them off to her boyfriend Marcus so he can buy a flat-screen TV?

Later, you hand your card to the mysteriously handsome ethnic guy at the convenience store, who has 13 cousins who traffic in goods around the world who speak 7 languages between them and who "know people". You give it to a pimply, frog-throated boy who sells you popcorn at the movies, a guy who has been hacking computers for as long as he's been alive, who could max your card out buying electronics and never be traced but prefers to bundle credit card numbers and auction them on the black market. That night, you willingly hand your card to the friendly grandmother/cashier at the grocery store who you think is named Betty but who is actually Esmerelda Johannsen, a satanic priestess who has a meth lab in her basement and who uses stolen credit card numbers to finance the development of a fluid-transfusion machine which she believes will give her eternal youth.

I'm just saying.

"So that was one burger meal on Visa #59004-3664-2356-41216 with security code 478, Mrs. Shirley Cartwright signed with a big pretty sweeping 'S' and one long line crossing both 't's?  Can I get your zip code with that?"

An online credit-card transaction is just a credit-card transaction. You never really know in whose hands your precious identity rests, whether they're right in front of you or a world away.

***Mister Mirror*** Please link to us on your blog or website. http://mistermirror.blogspot.com/ @JPSterling

Friday, July 1, 2011

Deformed Banana

My girlfriend says that if I talk about her in my blogs, she won't have sex with me anymore.  So since the use of her name is banned, for purposes of this blog entry, I'll use the name Banana, and talk about what happened to her instead.

Banana, a fictional person whom I'm making up and who is definitely not the woman I love and who rocks my world, phoned me the a few afternoons ago, frantic and in pain.  She had been a couple of blocks away, riding her ladder, and she called in despair, saying she had broken her wrist.   

As I drove over to the accident scene, I wondered how she could be sure it was broken.  Maybe it was just a sprain.  But when I saw it, I knew Banana was right.  There was no pretending.  Her forearm was shaped like Zorro's "Z".  And she was obviously in excruciating pain.     

We rushed to the Pabst Hospital Emergency Room, where Banana was immediately admitted, though it was 45 minutes or so before she was given anything for pain.  She was white and pale and in agony, unable to do anything but clutch her arm to her chest. 

On the ride to the ER, Banana had insisted that she was going to say that she fell off of a ladder because she didn't want the health insurance people to find yet another reason not to pay -- they pulled "pre-existing condition" on her last time she needed help.  If the health insurance company had some silly idea that she was, for example, riding some kind of mammal on someone else's property, they might decide not to cover her injury or try to sue somebody that didn't deserve to be sued, or who knows what.  Insurance companies are evil.

At the hospital, Banana was asked by at least ten different nurses and doctors how she hurt herself, and she told each of them she fell off a ladder.  One nurse asked if I had beaten her up, and I offered to leave the room so Banana could give an honest answer.  Funny thing is, at least one doctor asked her directly "Did you fall off a horse?"  It might have been that the shirt she was wearing was covered with pictures of horses, or maybe it was the hay in her hair, or possibly the manure on her shoes.

I've heard the word "Deformity", but I didn't realize that it was a medical term used to describe "a major difference in the shape of body part or organ compared to the average shape of that part".  I guess I knew that, but I had this idea that it was something you were born with, not something you could earn with the help of gravity.  Anyway, I didn't appreciate that word being used to call my girlfriend's anything anything.  I thought I might tell the nurse "Your mother knows all about deformity."  And if everyone hadn't been so damned professional and nice, maybe I would have muttered it under my breath.

Here a  picture of a deformity.  I did take pictures of Banana's deformed wrist and arm, but I won't post them because one of the People of the Internet might identify her by her freckles and notify her I wrote this and then I'd never get a Lovin' Spoonful again.

Banana's was worse.

So at the ER, the tech took a lot of x-rays, and eventually a doctor came along and while wiping down Banana's arm quickly set it, in response to which she screamed in pain and called him "Mother!Fucker!" and flailed wildly.  The doctor took in stride.  Probably, he deserved the scolding for being sneaky, and probably he'd been called worse.  To his credit, I suppose, Banana reported that her pain and discomfort eased substantially due to decreased pressure on the nerves.

The docs put a splint on the break, doped Banana up with a last shot o' Morphine and sent us home after a couple of hours.  I took Banana back to the hospital for surgery the next morning, which turned into a long day (but is there any other kind in a hospital?).  She was seen by a tall, dark young fellow of indeterminate ethnicity named Doctor Palmetto-Bugga, who recommended surgery and got it.

Banana will never pass through a metal detector again without having to explain the metal plate in her wrist.  Unfortunately, the doctor did not give her any bionic upgrades like a built-in smart phone, or an assault laser.   

Now we're home, and Banana is resting peacefully on a pillow made of Percocet.  She insists that I'll have to do the dishes for awhile, which I'm happy to do and she could have just asked.  She didn't have to put herself through all of this pain just to get out of doing laundry and stuff.

 It will take several weeks for her to heal, but I know she'll be okay.  Soon enough, she'll be itching to crawl out of bed and go outside and get back on the ladder that threw her.     

***Mister Mirror*** Please link to us on your blog or website. http://mistermirror.blogspot.com/