Food for Thought

December 2, 2019

Food for Thought

As we move into the holidays, a season increasingly known for the food with which we mark it, I wish to give (for it is the season of giving) you some food for thought and have you think about, well, food.  Not so much about the food itself, but our relationship with food. I am not intimating that I wish to be intimate with a cheese danish (Should that be capitalized?  It is named for a country and coincidently does contain cheese.  This point will be important; you’ll see.) but more as we categorize food as a nomenclature.  I will show you what I mean.

If I were to sit down for a nice chicken salad, whether it be the kind we spread on a bagel, or the chopped or stripped, grilled chicken kind, curled up with a good book over a nice bed of greens,  (Let’s face it, we dress our beds with sheets and blankets, so it is appropriate that our bed of greens receive a nice dressing as well, perhaps Italian (See, this is capitalized.] My favorite Italian dressing? Armani, I should think.  I’m a well-dressed mountain man.) where was I? Oh yes, anyway, if I order a chicken salad I expect a certain amount of chicken in my salad. If I’m going to have a ham sandwich, I most certainly expect to have ham on my sandwich.  I expect my salmon cake to contain salmon and my crab cake to contain crab. So, the Ides of March and twenty-three stab wounds not-with-standing, I really do not want any Caesar in my Caesar salad.  Would it be appropriate to expect that my chicken Caesar salad contain portions of  a Roman emperor of less than brave demeanor?  And, speaking of Italy, my meatball sub contains meatballs; my  turkey sub contains turkey.  So, if you are ever invited to the Donner’s for a party (Too soon?), be extra weary of  eating the Italian sub.   Doesn’t it seem slightly morbid and somewhat  cannibalistic to eat a sheppards pie?

I will be honest with you; I use ground turkey in my sheppards pie, so no sheppards were injured in the making of this meal.  Truth be told, I use ground turkey in any dish that calls for ground beef (stop judging me.  You know you are.).  However, I must say that I am beginning to grow somewhat concerned over the ongoing psychological stability of turkey.  Turkey just doesn’t seem to know its place anymore, as we find turkey masquerading as all kinds of meats: turkey ham, turkey pastrami, turkey sausage, and turkey bacon.  (I guess I shouldn’t be too concerned about the mental and psychological wellness of my foods.  Sure, my bacon may have had medical and other problems, but it states clearly on the package that it is now “cured.”  That is a relief.)  For the most part you do not see the other consumable beings with whom we share the planet acting as other animals.  I mean, yeah, occasionally chicken will try to emulate the larger, more successful cousin, the turkey, but is often the case, they just don’t have what the other has (My cousin became the CEO of a major corporation; I became a bohemian mountain man; case in point) . There are no beef turkey breasts, lamb turkey roasts with stuffing.  No, all the ungulates, hoofed animals (amazing some of the things that stick with you from biology class), are happy to remain themselves.

This menuable (I hereby coin this term.) self-awareness held by the eatable fauna (turkeys and chicken excepted: oh yeah, and there are those fish that, for some reason, like to pretend that they are crab meat.  I just do not understand food these days.  In my day, by golly, if a fish was borne  a fish, it bloody well stayed a fish, and a turkey knew its place as Thanksgiving dinner. Damn liberal foods! It just ain’t natural, I say….), is not always shared by the consumable flora (more terminology left over from biology class. The late Dr. Blaugh would be so proud….).

What may have started decades passed (no, this is not a typo or grammar mistake.  I refer to something that has gone by; passed me, as it were.) as the Ritz imitation crab cake recipe may have formed into a gateway emergence of imitation foods.  Back when I was a wee-bit of a lad,  when we etched our ACTs on clay tablets and SATs on stone slabs, there was a recipe that came on the back of the Ritz cracker box for imitation crab cakes made with, surprisingly enough, Ritz crackers, but there may have actually been some kind of meat in them.  I really don’t know.  I was a kid; it’s not like I was actually paying attention to recipes. By the 80s, a decade of plastic clothing and nu wave music (imitation punk?), when supermarket bagels were seen as exotic foods, there emerged the Tofu hot dog and the like.  These delectable little substitutes, praised by the emergent vegan groups (no judgment here…)  had the taste and consistency of ground cardboard stuffed with grass, though lacking the delightful aftertaste, and that was just about as exciting as meatless got.  Then, in the early 90s emerged the next evolutionary leap in the science of imitation food, the black bean burger. What was interesting here is that these didn’t actually taste bad, they just tasted exactly like meat doesn’t; they had the protein content of a good burger, and they fit on the bun.  (Be prepared to get stared down with the evil eye when you dared to request cheese with yours.).  Chased down with a Corona, a little granola for dessert, they were a passable meal, but still not what they were pretending to be, which is meat.  (The 90s also gave us flavored coffee, Pearl Jam, the X-Files, and several of Tom Petty’s best albums, so I mean really, well worth the time spent living it. For arguments sake, we will just pretend Barney never existed. That purple nightmare was scarier than the velociraptors from Jurassic Park.)  Still, again I digress.  I must get back to meat (or the meatless) of the of the original thread, meat without meat.  Now, well immersed into the twenty-first century, we lack the once predicted flying cars and still do not live in space, but there is an entire section of the supermarket for meat substitutes; fast food chains are touting their meat-free burgers, and tofu now is but one choice for the meatless hot dog and sausage.  Still, these are all basically foods who seem to have come to grips with the fact that they will never quite be what they set out to be: meat.  Some foods, however, have yet to reach the psychologically comfortable place of knowing who and what they are.  The other day I bought a package of “Meatless Meatballs.”  (Let that simmer for a bit.)  These are not declared as “Meatless Meatball Substitutes.” The package quite clearly claims them to be “Meatless Meatballs.”  This is at least an oxymoron. What next: Waterless Bottled Water; Cheeseless Macaroni and Cheese?  I can understand not wanting to sell a product as “Meatless Balls,”  way too ambiguous, but still, should truth not prevail?  And speaking of truth, should we not address the area of imitation food that is, in my opinion, just nuts, literally.  I am referring to milks. I will not lie, (seriously, I am an extremely honest mountain man), I love me some almonds, but for the wonderful flavor and the health benefits, not for their buxom mammary glands.  Almonds are not mammals.  They do not produce milk.  (Before you ask, yes, I use almond milk.  I can’t order my “Skinny Mocha” from Starbucks without it.)  Now, the wet-nurse exploitation of  our snack foods continues with the advent of “Cashew Milk.”  Again, cashews don’t have mammary glands; unlike the handy bovine, they cannot produce milk.  The idea is quite literally “utter ridiculous.” I will admit, I have trouble condemning the coconut for its milk production: it is bulbous like the milk gland; it is hairy like a mammal, and it actually produces its “milk” without the aid of human science.  As tasty and useful as these things may be, there are not really what they claim to be.  They are mere imitations of what they may, in fact, aspire to be.  Again, should truth not prevail?

Speaking of truth, if you order from the dessert menu, you expect dessert (pudding for those of you across the pond).  Order from the drink menu, you get a drink.  So, that being said, what should the passing cannibal expect to receive ordering from the vegetarian and vegan menu?  Carnivores have always known that those beasts who do not eat meat are tastier than those that do.  So, as the world swirls ever deeper into the truly bizarre, be careful what you order at the local pub.  You may be getting exactly what you have indicated (if you really wanted it or not: “Waiter, there is a very odd taste to this Napoleon brandy.”  “Well, Sir, it has aged since the nineteenth century.”), or you may be getting something parading in cheap imitation of the real.  One must be careful, or you may be getting something that is simply an overstatement of the obvious. Just today I came across “Vegetarian Ketchup.” I know that at one time the term ketchup included a wide plethora of sauces, many with meat by-products of some sort, but in twenty-first century America it is a reference to tomato ketchup, which contains no meat or meat by products, so really all you are paying extra for in “Vegetarian Ketchup” is the added adjective.  Well, this is the latest Fairly Random Musings of a Bohemian Mountain Man.  Stay warm, and Peace….m

I’ll Be Gentle

August 18, 2019

I’ll Be Gentle

I wish to muse (I mean, that is what I do; I randomly muse: It is in the title you may remember.)  on one of what I see as the stranger aspects of language, especially English, and that is the tendency to brush over anything that might be delicate, embarrassing, unpleasant, unliked, or simply not fun to discuss.  This habit probably dates back to the middle to late Pleistocene and the probable development of human language (I really can’t comment as to whether or not other species do this with their languages.  How many species actually have a language.  I think my dog is psychic.  He will come and stare at me and I will think, ‘aha, you need water…you need to go out…you want to eat my nachos….) .  Did early man engage in conversations such as “Look Bill, these are saber cat droppings.  Be careful.”  (I know, Bill is not a very good caveman name.  I have translated to modern colloquial English to reduce stress.  To me, not to you.  Let’s face it.  You’re on your own.)  So what is behind these ironing over of perfectly useful words to replace them with genteelism’s?  Euphemisms.  (pronounced “euphemisms”.)  Let’s look at droppings, well, maybe not actually look at them.  That is kind of disgusting.  Let’s discuss the concept of droppings.  I mean, it’s not like the saber cat was carefully carrying the stuff when it tripped and “dropped” it.  (Another word that is kind of spelled in the same way as euphemisms is euthanasia–itself a euphemism.  While teaching an English 101 a few years past I assigned as a final assignment–that sounds rather redundant–, as I always do, an oral presentation of the students’ final arguments.  It was a kind of chance to defend the arguments.  After a rather well constructed argument on the topic of euthanasia a student raised her hand to ask a question so the speaker called upon her.  With a truly confused look upon her young face, she asked the speaker what assisted suicide–again, a euphemism– had to do with children in China….true story.  All levels of education can be such a challenge…)

Might as well hit the wall running (did that make sense?) by leaping to the idea of sex.  When I was a wee lad in the sixth grade, I was accosted one school morning by two classmates who were all a dither for they had heard, with rightful, appalled indignation and consternation (sounds like something one should have to take a small pill to rectify.) that another of our classmates had done “it” with a girl (In retrospect, the “with a girl” part should have offered a slight bit of comfort, but still.)  It is interesting that all three of us children know the “it.”  Yes, the “deed,” “the dirty,” “the nasty,” “a roll in the hay,”  my favorite ” A little How’s your father,” the sports themed “scoring, and “the baseball themed “home run.”  If you Google “euphemisms for sex” one of the choices is “400 Euphemisms of Sex.”  I wonder why this is such a delicate subject.  Could it be the all too frequent outcome, expectancy–euphemism?  But, that only can happen if the couple has met in “biblical sense.” (Maybe I should reread the Bible.)

I spend much of my life expecting, every time I order from Amazon, for example.  I have yet to give birth.  So, what exactly is one “expecting?”  Perhaps we might say that an expectant mother is “in a family way.” Hopefully it is not a dysfunctional-family way.  Perhaps the ever popular “with child” Not the preposition I would choose.  I mean, she isn’t really with the child.  If anything, the child is with her. If we choose we can go in a more culinary vein where we can say she has a bun in the oven.  (That just sounds morbid.  If you ever use that euphemism with your child to explain that mommy has a baby sister or brother on the way, do not finish out the evening by reading Hansel and Gretel to the child.) She could be in “the pudding club” because she is “eating for two.” Once the expectant bundle of joy arrives, life has begun, and as the wise have so often said, “Nothing is certain in life except birth, death, and taxes, and though I do not really know too many euphemisms for paying taxes (rendering unto Caesar ?), there are many for the middle part of that equation: death.

People rarely die.  They cease to be, are singing in the choir invisible, are pushing up daises, and have gone beyond the veil (Yes, I, like many of you, are seeing John Cleese arguing with Michael Palin about a Norwegian blue…)   What veil that may be, I do not know, but there seem to be many who are beyond it. Today we tend to say that someone has “passed.”  Picture a person who has chosen to returned to school, but then buys it–euphamism. Imagine the confusion that would arise as two mutual acquaintances meet.

“How’s Barney? I heard he went back to school.”

“Haven’t you heard? He passed last week.”

“Well, that is good.  I’m glad to hear it.”

“How can you say that?  Didn’t you like Barney?”

“Yeah, I like him fine.  That is why I’m glad he passed.  I would hate to think he failed.”

“No, no.  He has moved beyond.”

“Of course he moved beyond.  He passed.  They wouldn’t keep him in the same place. “

“No, damn it, Barney is resting in peace now.”

“That’s great.  He deserves a bit of down time.  He has worked hard.”

“He has slipped away, departed as it were.”

“Bit of a vacation then?  Well, I hope he enjoys it.”

“No, he bought the one-way ticket out of here.”

“How is he getting back to finish school?”

“He is the late Barney!”

“Well, he never has been much of one to be on time.  Probably be late for his own funeral.”

Now, on the verge of tears, “NO, you blistering moron, HE IS DEAD! He is no more!”

“Oh, why didn’t you just say so?”

And, speaking of passing on, we have touched, albeit slightly, upon the unpleasant portion of life that comes from the act of eating and drinking.  Yes, we all must use the bathroom–euphemism.   Face it, do you really go there to rest?  To some even the “rest room” is bit too ungentle.  These persons may need to use the “facilities.”  But any place that facilitates is a facility.   The hospital is a facility.  “Mountain Man, may I use your facilities?”  ‘Sure, but no surgery, please.  I just cleaned the place.”  In the UK one might use the Water Closet, but wouldn’t your good clothes get awfully wet?  To some, even Water Closet became too brazen a term and was shortened to the WC.  Now, one might also use the loo.  It could be problematic to ask to use “the little boys’ room.” “No! you will use the big boys room, you sicko!” Toilet came from the French word for the small room where a lady might apply her makeup and perfume.  Now that euphemism has required additional euphemisms to euphemize the crudeness of the euphemism. 

Well, it seems together we have wasted too much day light–euphemism–and spent this time engaged with my idle ramblings.  I do hope that I was gentle with you and have not upset your ever so delicate nature in conversations on such less-than-delicate topics.  We must all rise above, move forward, and soldier on–euphemism– with life’s dainties.  As I must saunter off to the washroom to relieve myself, I shall bid you a “gentle” adieu from this week’s Fairly Random Musings of a Bohemian Mountain Man.  Peace….

A Hole Lot of Shaking Goin’ On

August 4, 2019

A Hole Lot of Shaken Going’ On

Please recall that I have spoken with you in the past about my superpower, that being the ability to lose almost anything.  Well, like many with said superpowers ( I am referring to extraordinary abilities, not the power to control the world through nuclear domination, though I do see how one might get the two confused. Amazing in English how many words and phrases can be taken in more than one way. )  Well, like many of the Marvels of the comic world (see what I did there?), my superpowers may have an extraterrestrial or, more precisely, an extra-dimensional origin, or derive from worlds unknown.  I have begun to postulate (When I was a wee bit of a lad, I believe I thought that word was a naughty word.  It sounds like it could be, doesn’t it?  “Did you hear that he started to postulate?”  “No, and at such a young age.  I hope it doesn’t affect his eyesight….”) upon a possible explanation for the inexplicable (Why do we say that things are “inexplicable” but no one ever says, “Well, Ralph, I believe that is certainly explicable.”?  Just curious.) disappearance of things around me.  It has dawned upon me that there has to be a reason, and I believe that I may have come to a satisfactory theory as to why these things cease to be while in my general vicinity.   I will call this theory, for lack of a better term, “The Bohemian Theory of Residual,  Black Hole Energy” (And let’s face it.  It does sound pretty cool.) Here is my thinking (I guess ‘musings’ would be a better term.  I mean, these are the “Fairly Random Musings….”).

I lose things.  I lose them all the time.  I can be sitting at my desk with a pen or pencil in my hand, set down said pen or pencil upon the desk, attend, without ever having stood or moved from the desk, to some other meaningless, or perhaps meaningful task (I mean, I do occasionally contribute something of value to society.  Don’t ask for an example.  None come to mind, but still, I will labor on assuming that I do.  Why do Americans “labor on” while the British “labour on?”  Isn’t it more ‘labour’ to put the extra letter in the word?  Still, I digress.).  I will reach for the pen or pencil and it will be gone; vanished; no longer in this plane of existence.  It will not be on the desk, not on the floor, not in my hand, not behind either  ear, not on the keyboard, not in the freezer or refrigerator.  It will be gone.  If I happen to be driving down the road in a vehicle (I mean, what else can I drive down the road?  Kind of a redundant statement, still…)  and I am happily munching on, shall we say, mixed nuts.  I will drop a nut, perhaps a cashew, and go to retrieve the crunchy comestible  (I admit, I borrowed that word from the Monty Python Cheese Shop skit.  Always good to steal from the classics).  The nut will be gone.  Not on the floor, not in the console, not on my seat, not on the dash, not in my pocket, not in the freezer or refrigerator.  It is gone.  I toss my laundry into the washer with three pairs of socks: sock 1, sock 2, sock 3, sock 4, sock 5, and its congenial, loyal mate, sock 6.  All accounted for. When hours, or days later I go to retrieve the  laundry from the dryer one sock will be missing.  Not two, not three, but one, as though one sock had be offered up in sacrifice to the laundry gods.  (I’m am not waxing religious.  It is more in way of metaphor, really.) Where is it?  Not in the dryer, not in the washer, not in the basket, not in the hamper, not behind the washer or dryer, not on the floor, not in the lent trap, not in the freezer or the refrigerator.  Examples could continue ad nauseum.  (Always good to introduce a little Latin when you are about to introduce a complicated scientific premise or construct.  If I were to bring you to meet a  diminutive Roman, would that be a introducing a “little Latin?”)   Back to the point to be made: what is behind these strange and inexplicable (there is that word again) disappearances?  Residual black hole energy. 

Here is how I theorize that this works.  Each location  I have thus far discussed contains some device that has within its construction a motor that employs a spinning contrivance that creates a power vortex.  The dryer: the spinning drum; the vehicle: the spinning fan and motor; the desk: the computer with its CPU cooling fan.  This spinning creates an energy vortex which in turn creates a mini black hole which serves as a doorway to an alternate dimension into which these items have fallen.  (I wonder if refrigerators employ this energy in reverse with our end of the wormhole being the cooling off point,   because, let’s face it, a freaky amount of missing stuff ends up in the refrigerator: car keys, wallets, cell phones.  Believe me, I speak from experience. Granted, junk drawers and boxes in the garage also collect their fair share of lost and missing items {Is saying ‘missing items’ just an optimistic way to say ‘lost items?’ Let’s face it, the terms are fairly interchangeable.} but junk drawers and garages tend to fail to add credible validity {Is that redundant?} to my theory, so I will ignore them and instruct you to forget that I ever mentioned them. Wow, this is a really long parenthetical.  I know, that’s what she said…. )  (I will admit, but parenthetically, so it has nothing to do with my theory, so ignore the correlation, that I recently found in a junk drawer a thirty-year-old photo ID for a specialty store that lasted in business for about twelve minutes and my life-time membership to a 1980s era video rental ‘club’. Since most of these places were closed by 1990,  I would have to assume that there was a low priority on life and an assumed truncated life-span in the 1980s.)

Please be advised that I am basing this theory of mine on solid scientific principles that I am just making up on the spot.  (Don’t worry, I plan to throw in some scientific sounding jargon and some multi-syllabic words to confuse and make the whole thing sound more official, perhaps, even plausible.) Yes, this theory is solidly grounded in genuine pseudo-science.  (Does anyone remember the commercial promising that one could purchase “Genuine Faux Diamonds?” Yes, unwary television shoppers could purchase genuine fake diamonds.  Oh, don’t you miss the 80s…)  Back to the science.  I postulate thus; as the energy-driven motor spins it creates a vortex.  This vortex begins to spin the ionic distribution (told you) in a cyclical-terminal clockwise motion which creates a fragmentary mini black hole whose minute event horizon (There I go again.  You’re almost buying this, aren’t you?  That was rhetorical.  You don’t need to answer.)  disturbs and displaces the dimensional fabric of time-space, thus allowing for cross-dimensional molecular transmutation (these are some of the multi-syllabics I promised.) from point A, say the desk, to point B, the refrigerator or junk drawer of some alternate universe.  Based upon aspects of Newton’s third law (I just threw that in because it sounds good), it is easily theorized that If an article is recognized as having been lost in a similar fashion , it may be, perhaps, kept, with the assumption that it is actually the missing item and not a trans-dimensional  replicant (Some would postulate that these replicants should have goatees–this is reference for the really cool people.).  If not, the pan-dimensional recipient may scratch his or her head, or one of them, as the case may be, and toss the item on the desk, where it may, with luck transmute to the original item and find its way home to the rightful owner.  (Probably not.)  Well, anyway, that is my theory of residual black hole energy.  Now we just have to wait for science to catch up to my scientific genius.  Well, that is this week’s Fairly Random Musings of a Bohemian Mountain Man.  Peace….

No Service Available

July 30, 2019

No Service Available

I must begin by saying sorry that I am publishing a day or two late, but I had an out-of-town commitment, which is not to say that I had been committed out of town.  No, that would imply a behavioral diagnosis, not an invitation, though I do guess that one could be invited to be committed, especially if one were committed to getting help, but, granted, that would take great commitment (Rather circular, isn’t it, this language of ours….) But, once again I am digressing from the point.  What is the point?  Well, allow me to get there.  Today, I am sorry to say, we are going to take a turn to the far more serious, and look at a problem that is growing and devouring lives and communities, is causing sorrow and loss, and is placing many of the younger, and quite frankly the older, generation in legal and social peril.  This is a problem that is plaguing communities small and large.  It is festering across the nation, nay, across the world.  You see the victims on the streets, in parks, on trains and subways (which are actually trains, so why give them a second name?  Are we trying to see how many needlessly repetitive  words we can stick into this language?)  Cities and towns alike are inundated by those caught in this cruel grip of need.  You see them walking with their hoods up, heads down, in a fog of use and oblivious to the world around them; they bump into you on the streets, step into moving traffic as they stumble from the curb; they mumble inaudibly when spoken to.  It seems as though society has lost the ability to help them. I know what many (or both)  of you are going to say: “Well, why should I care?  They did this to themselves, didn’t they? It began with a choice.  They could have said ‘no.'”   But medical science has shown that once an addict is hooked, the brain chemistry changes and the desire becomes a need for more, and greater levels of the stimulation, and that is exactly what is occurring with these victims.  Why do I say “victims?”  I say victim because they are the outcomes of the unscrupulous (Wow, that was an unusually difficult word to spell.  Good thing I had modern technology at my fingertips to fall back upon.) business world who feeds and profits from their need, unleashing ever and ever larger means to fill the void.  Oh, they are clever.  Start off pulling in the user.  “Try this for free.”  It is just a small commitment at first, then it grows to be larger and larger.  The user always requires bigger and bigger, always needing to step to the next level to fill the need.  Money soon becomes no object.  The constant feed is all that matters.  It has become a drive, a desire, a need, an addiction.  I know by now that you have figured out of what I speak: cell phones. 

Cell phones have become the scourge of the classroom from elementary to college (probably grad school, to be honest.) Academic dishonesty at the tap of a button.  Incessant  texting, as though anything that pops into the mind is necessary and of importance enough for the receiver to drop whatever task is at hand to read.  Let’s be honest.  Take the cell phone from the average teenager and watch the withdrawal symptoms begin.  The hapless teen will become angry and solemn.   Next comes the pacing and nervousness, which will then lead to attempts at bargaining and deal making; “Come on, Mom, just one text.  Let me post to social media.  Kelly may be trying to send me a Snap Chat.”  Eventually they will be lurking in shady parks and dark alleys trying to acquire a burner phone.  Without their regular provider they will be looking to strangers to score a Tracfone.  I can imagine them sitting in darkened rooms trying to insert sim cards directly into their arms, leaving, of course, the infamous “Trac-marks.”  The problem is spreading.  We have grandmas on social media sending emojies they don’t understand and communicating with their grandchildren via memes and text speak.  People of prominence have wrecked careers and lives because of the need to air the private, or quite frankly, the privates on the “network.”  Look at, or actually, don’t look at, some of the politicians whose careers have been destroyed .  (I would mention Anthony Weiner { snicker-snicker.  Of come on.  I am the Bohemian Mountain Man, and all men have, deep within them, that  twelve-year-old middle school prepubescent  boy .  It never really leaves us.} but I like a challenge.  How did this all begin, you may ask. (You may not, but I will continue on assuming that you did.)

Prior to the 1980s cell phones were mounted on the wall and were used to make your one call, generally to a lawyer or to someone to make bail;  by the mid  1980s, not unlike many drugs of the time, one could buy a bag (of) phone.  It was about the size of a duffel bag and weighed the approximate equivalent of an upright freezer.  They were, along with ample amounts of fine power from Peru, the accouterments of the urban yuppie.  Soon that was not enough, and the 90s brought us the tiny (about the size of a cordless phone) pocket-size cell phones.  Granted, they did require big, as well as deep, pockets.  By the 2000s things seemed to calm down, as phones grew noticeably smaller but began, not unlike other addictive substances, to have things added to them to increase use and need, and to increase profit for the provider.  MP3 players and cameras were added, but not without visible side effects on the users.  Hearing began to diminish and thumbs began to grow ever more muscular from texting.  Probably the saddest side affect scarred an entire generation of teen girls.  That was, of course, the dreaded epidemic of “duck lips.”  (I wonder how ducks felt about this trend?) Girls, now in their 20s and 30s, live in constant fear that one of those photos will suddenly reappear on social media.  (On a related side-note, why is it called “social medial” when so many use it to be unsocial?)  Then, the dumbest thing ever came about: the smart phone.  Now people had the world quite literally in their pockets.  Did the majority of humanity use this to further their knowledge? No, unfortunately most used it to dumb-down and “Google the answer” instead of figuring out the answer.  People have stopped talking at parties and get-togethers, in fact, people have stopped getting together.  Why bother when you can video chat, snap chat, face time, post videos….  I was camping in the mountains this past week and actually saw two teen girls on hover boards (which neither hover nor are boards) riding through the camping area while staring at their phones.  “You are in nature! Put the damn phone down and enjoy it!” I wanted to scream.  That evil little devil from my childhood cartoons popped up on my shoulder, and for an ever so brief moment, I hoped that at least one of them would ride into a damn tree.   They didn’t…

Where will it go from here?  What is to become of this society?  I fear that it will not get better.  If a comet were to hurtle toward earth, would anyone know about it?  People will know that Billy doesn’t like this particular politician, that Mary had burgers and fries for dinner, and Joan is at the beach (Never post beach pictures while at the beach.  If you do, then frankly you deserve to be burgled.  Crooks have cell phones too…) I guess we will all be hitting “like” and tweeting our way to death while the doom of the planet hurtles toward us, its final destination.  If and EMP (look it up on your phone.  You know it is in your hand as we speak.) and wipes out all electronic communication, we would revert to a society in mimicry of The Walking Dead.

Oh, and while I am at it, why have cell phones grown to become so large?  Yes, I know that “cells” replicate and grow, but should cell phones?  What in 2007 would neatly fit into my front pocket now barely fits into the bed of my truck. Could it be to facilitate the ample number of mostly unused apps that we download? We apply an app number of apps to facilitate the applications that we aptly wish to apply for an aptitude of applicable applications (same root…).  You know, not only do cells grow and replicate, but they experience adaptive mutations.  What are the evolutionary changes that will be brought about by this extreme dependence on cell phone technology?  Living in northern areas after having evolved in subequatorial Africa caused early Ice Age humans to develop light skin and blue eyes.  Many of the ancestors of those who stayed in Africa developed cycle-cell anemia, which helped them to fight off malaria (This is some good stuff, you should be taking notes.  Nah, just Google it on your smart phone. — Why do we “Google” information?  Why don’t we “Yahoo” it, “Bing” it,” MSN” it?  Asking for a friend.) .  As our brains shrink because we no longer think, store knowledge, or problem solve, will those portions of the brain adapt to give us better control of our thumbs for more efficient texting?  Will we develop a sixth sense to warn us when we are walking into oncoming traffic, or will this be evolution’s way of removing these idiots from the collective gene pool?  (Thank heavens that “duck lips” was a passing phase {If you are concerned about subject-verb agreement in that last sentence, I am referring to a single condition, not two lips.  Seriously, Google “subject-verb agreement.} .  Imagine “duck lips” as a permanent, hereditary adaptation.  “I am sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  Your daughter has *Nokia-Sanyo’s disease, otherwise known as “duck lips.”  There is nothing we can do short of surgery, and even if the surgery is successful, there is still a likelihood they will grow back …”)  More importantly, will the brain adapt to have its own hot spot for when we encounter the terrifying phrase “No Service Available?” Well, anyway, I have to wrap this up.  I have some calls to make and a couple texts I need to answer (seriously).  These are this week’s, albeit late, Fairly Random Musings of a Bohemian Mountain Man….Peace

*In 2002 Nokia and Sanyo were the first phone manufactures to include a camera.  I Googled it.

SOUNDING OFF

July 21, 2019

Sounding Off

Some may have noticed that the mountain man (That is me. Seriously, I have no idea why I have taken to referring to myself in the third person.) has been noticeably absent of late, but elements of life have been keeping the old bugger occupied.  Hopefully he is back on track and ready to take up the reigns and steer this ship over the mountain and ride off into the sunset.  (Try to beat that for mixing metaphors; bet you can’t, so put that feather in your cap and smoke it.)  A series of related and unrelated events have occurred over the last few weeks (That is a really grim statement if one thinks about it.  One never knows if indeed these are the last few weeks. Perhaps over the previous few weeks is a more accurate sentiment. Less bloody doom-ridden –is that a word?-  ) I started a blog, obviously, I mean, that is why both of you are here; started a new job, or at least a new position (I hope it isn’t sitting.  Not my favorite position.  Why do we even say “started a new position?” If you are one of those Abercrombie models who pose in the windows as living manikins, well, then you can occasionally “start a new position.” “Yesterday I stood for eight hours with my hands on my hips. Today, hopefully, I can start a new position.  Why are they called “manikins” when they are usually women?  Just curious.); had my basement flooded, not once, not twice, but three times, taking out the water heater, though only twice, but I’m not complaining (Actually, you should have heard me complaining;  delicate ears beware. Raging would have been a better term for my behavior.  I am not proud.) Still one must evolve, accept change, and adapt.  In a sense, one must be like language, which strives to morph and adjust to be understood.  It is rarely successful at this.

Recently I sojourned at a rather architecturally unique beach house.  As much as I miss the 80s and my youth that accompanied the decade, this house looked like a location shooting for an episode of Miami Vice (and not one of the cool ones with the 80s rock star guests).  I won’t describe it; I don’t need to.  Watch any episode and find any party scene that is taking place anywhere other than on a yacht or at a club.  That is the house.  Not unpleasant, just very 80s.  (The place gave me the incredible urge to dress in plastic clothing, spike my hair, listen to Phil Collins, and  drink wine coolers.)  All of this is well and good, but this house is not in Miami.  It is not even in Florida.  It is in Rodanthe, North Carolina.  And to be honest (please, no one is perfect, not even essentially honest no ones), it was not so much a beach house as it was a sound house.  That is not to say that it is structurally fit, which it truly appears to be, but that it is on the sound side of the island, you know, the section between the shore and the mainland.  (I guess, technically, the ocean side of the island is also between the shore and the mainland.  It just happens that the mainland is Morocco.) When informed of the house’s location by the friend who had invited us down to join him for the week, I informed him that this was indeed a sound decision.  (He decided to rent a house on the Sound, so therefore, a ‘sound’ decision…get it? A ‘sound’ decision….) (Have you ever noticed how quiet it is on the Sound?  All of the sound is on the ocean, not the sound, which sounds fairly quiet, which really just sounds kind of crazy.)

Sound is a fairly strange word.  How the hell does anyone know what is being said in regard to sound?  As stated previously, I can make a sound decision, which is a good one, but if I receive a sound beating, that is a bad one.  If I sound in, I am making my opinion known.  If I sound off, I am still making my opinion known, it is just that many may not like the way in which I have chosen to do it. However,  if I am singing and I sound off, I may get auto-tuned to correct the problem (please, never auto-tune me). If I give you credible and usable information on the choice of audio equipment, have I given sound, sound advice?  If some other individual disagrees with my advice, can he or she sound off about sound, sound advice? (It is so confusing that Micro Soft Word just asked me why I had double “sounds”.  By the way, whatever happened to the little paperclip dude in Word who use to annoy you {now, for some unexplainable reason I have moved to the second person.  Why should I assume the little paperclip dude annoyed you just because he annoyed me?  Do paperclips, even animated ones, have gender? } every time you had to write a letter or resume?  I wonder if he found work as a memo clip, or succumbed to drugs as do so many who experience short-term fame?  Still, I digress.  Not a sound use of my time.)

Another word that has received a terribly terrible treatment in the language is the word ‘terrible.’ Because, and here is the point,  if I do something and I am terrible, I did it badly, correct?  If I do the dishes (Yes, I know we all have dish washers.  Just bare with me while I make my point.) and they still have food on them, then my job of washing the dishes was terrible.  If I am hired to pressure wash your house, and when I am finished it is still dirty, then my job was done terribly.  So, when I was in Baltimore the other evening and the Orioles were playing, I was told that they were losing terribly.  This confused me; if terribly and terrible mean to do it badly, were the Orioles winning or losing?  Wouldn’t “losing terribly” actually be winning?  Losing is the thing you are not doing well.  If I tell you that I have terrible luck, you will send me a frowny-face emoji, but if I tell you that I have been terribly lucky lately, you are going to ask to borrow cash. (I don’t carry cash. No need to even ask {insert frowny-face emoji here}).  People also say that the team has lost miserably, but seriously, who loses joyfully? Let’s face it, you just lost .   Someone can do something well, but that is not as good as doing it “terribly well…..”  How does that make any sense at all?  If I feel terrible I might want to see a doctor  If I feel terrible for you, then should you, perhaps, see a doctor? If I show up terribly early, am I late?  (By the way, if my vacuum sweeper really sucks, does that mean it is a good one or a bad one?)  Well, I have tried terribly hard to not do a terrible job and to write a sound piece about sounding off, that I hope doesn’t sound terrible.  Also, I wish to say that I am glad to be back, and that I have missed you all terribly (You figure it out….) Well, these are this week’s Fairly Random Musings of a Bohemian Mountain Man.  Peace….

PEN IS EMPTY

June 30, 2019

PEN IS EMPTY

Delicate eyes and sensibilities please beware, for now we venture into the world of topics best described in dark corners and with our behavioral and medical professionals, or perhaps designated as PG-13, maybe chance even as MA-14 (Oh, grow up and stop being so offended by everything.) Today I am going to deviate from the norm to discuss a certain recurring deviation from the norm that in essence is becoming all to often the norm, and a deviation that has me presently growing increasingly concerned about the medical, and dare I say mental health of the modern youth.  What, you may ask, is causing such consternation in this observant fellow? Well, to state it clearly, penises.  Yes, I mean, and let’s not be too delicate here, the male member.

What, I am sure you are wondering, is the problem with penises? Well, in short (Ok, poor choice of wording there) nothing, per say, with actual penises.  No, what I am going on about is the sudden, ubiquitous appearances of penises wherever one goes.  Embossed in varying colors of spray paint and Sharpies (product placement here), penises have for some reason become the “Kilroy was Here,” “Class of 1979,”  , “HT luvs AB”, and “For a Good Time Call” (867-5309) of the post-intelligence era.  I live amongst the mountains (we get on well together).  In the near-by national forest is a monolithic fire tower (I know, it is made of metal and wood, so it cannot be lithic, which means stone.  I was going for visual appeal here.), slightly phallic in its own grandeur.  From atop this tower one is granted a view of wide, rolling mountain vistas and foggy valley river bottoms.  Clusters of secluded homes and quant farms dot the landscape for mile upon mile.  Also, at the top of this tower one can see a giant, black spray-painted penis et al: the meat and two veg as the British choose to call it.  Yes, visitors to our forest are greeted by a four-foot, misshapen penis.  Drive south down the river valley and you will see, boldly situated across a rocky outcrop, a white spray-painted penis.  Drawn onto the men’s restroom announcement board of a local pub is a hand-drawn (what a stupid adjective.  How else would you draw it than by hand? Nose-drawn?) black penis.  They are scratched into classroom desks and public park picnic tables, drawn in the pages of textbooks, and chalked onto the sidewalks. The penis drawing was even used in the BBC/ HBO television mini-series of The Casual Vacancy as the vandal’s graffiti of choice.  The sky penis incident was a cause for disciplinary action by the US Air Force (Seriously, you can look it up.) One of the most impressive was the 100-yard penis and testicles etched by foot into the snow of a local high school football field. Yes, from goal line to goal line.  This is really, and let’s face truth here, a lot of penises.  Those familiar with J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye will recall that Holden, the declarer of all things phony, is angered by the appearance of a certain four-letter expletive.  What would Holden have to say about this sudden rash of penises? (You know, penis and rash are probably two words that should never be used together without medical expertise.)

Again, and allow me to make this clear, I am not anti-penis in the abstract.  They do have their place and their purposes.  While traveling in the Mediterranean region one sees many on display.  Winged-penis statuettes are for sale at the souvenir shops of Pompeii.  In Rome, in the open markets along the Tiber, within two hundred yards of the Vatican, on a pleasant Easter Sunday, tourists can purchase larger versions of the same winged penises.  They are on tee-shirts and as charms for bracelets and necklaces.  The point I am laboring here to make is that they have a reason for these representations.  It harkens back to ancient religion.  Seriously, you can Google this as well (more product placement; wish I were getting paid for that…).  Just type in “Winged Phallus” in the search bar– then try to explain to your wife, who was looking up buffalo wing recipes for the air fryer, why  “Wing Phallus” shows up as a search suggestion. (“Um, that’s easy to explain, dear.  A mountain man told me to look it up.”  “A mountain man?” she will say with derision, one eye brow cocked, (oops, bad word choice, let’s say raised instead.)  “Yeah, well, he’s Bohemian….”  You can find similar carved penises in Greece as well in the shops of Delphi and Athens.  It’s cultural and not really out of the norm, nor is it in any way meant to destroy, offend, or to vandalize, and they are just sitting out in little shops and vendors carts where, if one chooses, the statuettes can simply be ignored and not spray painted onto overhead trussels and support pylons.   Sometimes the effort put forth to create these erectile effigies is quite amazing, and dare I say, harrowing.  Why?

If you were wondering if I was just going to continue to rave, or if I was planning to get around to making an actual point, I suppose the point is this: If you are going to go through the often extreme danger of painting a giant male phallus (I guess that is somewhat redundant, but, I suppose, not always, I mean it is the twenty-first century.) onto the side of a rock outcropping, and here is the belabored point (again, bad choice of nouns) why make it so obviously malformed? I mean seriously, if these are the penises that the culprits see in the mirror or at the gym, then help is truly needed.  If you, by chance, know one of these penis-painting-pranksters, please implore of them to seek immediate medical care:  large, bulbous testicles with a fat, stubby penis; pencil thin with, and I am sorry but there is no other way to say this, an arrow head tip. (If you were wondering if I had, perhaps, mistaken a shout out to archery as a misshapen penis, arrows have quills at the end, not testicles.) One, quite large drawing was a side view with the central theme, as it were, displayed at a 90-degree angle from the “exhibitionist’s” torso.  I am not an expert on reproductive biology, but I’m not quite sure that this anatomical abnormality would even work toward its designed purpose.  I have witnessed renderings where the organ (amazing how many euphemisms we have for this one bit of the male anatomy) started slender at the top and tapered outward toward the bottom.  Now, mind you, I do not seek out these experiences.  They have just simply begun to appear everywhere. They are in urban areas, rural areas, wilderness areas, small towns, large towns, cities, hamlets, probably even in dells.  And you must admit that this is true, they are always in some way anatomically misshapen.  If you are soon to embark on a journey, keep an eye out for them and you will see them, I promise; they are there lurking in the background.  Again, I am not prudish, but is this necessary?  Perhaps, if they were tastefully done and well-drawn – NO.  It is not like the “artists” are in someway trying to capture the majesty of “The Rude Man of Cerne” or some other ancient edifice.  The Rude Man is proportional and pointed in the correct direction.  He is most likely an ancient symbol of fertility, and not, and this is sadly true, a modern symbol of futility. 

Well, I wish not to belabor this penis issue to the point of desensitization.  I could continue to drone on ad nauseum, but to what avail?  I believe the point (again , sorry) has been made.  Also, as I tend to draft in long hand, I will say that my hand is suffering writer’s cramp and it looks as though my pen is empty. Well, these are this week’s Somewhat Random Musings of A Bohemian Mountain Man.  Peace….

The Lost City of El Dorado….

June 23, 2019

The Lost City of El Dorado and Other Geographic Anomalies  

Sometime in the sixteenth century, Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés (I think it was Cortés; it was one of those Spanish explores with the goofy-looking pointed helmets and armor, which I seriously doubt they wore around in the South American equatorial heat) set out to find the lost city of El Dorado.  To the best of my knowledge, neither he nor any of the other explorers did. (According to Voltaire, Candide did, but I suspect that may be fiction.)  But, to be honest, I don’t really care who didn’t find it.  I’m more curious as to who it was that lost it in the first place, and how could he, she, or they went about misplacing an entire city, especially one made of gold.  However, as careless with their cities as they may have been, these Renaissance explorers are not alone in the misplacement of geographic locations.

On I-79 in North Central West Virginia, quite near Morgantown, is a sign that reads “LOST CREEK.”   Think about that, will you please?  It is a road sign telling you how to get to Lost Creek, so one can only assume it is no longer lost.  I live in a blue house.  If I decide to paint my house green, do I continue to refer to it as the “blue house?” Shouldn’t the name of the creek, and the subsequent town be changed to “Formally Lost Creek,” “Temporarily Misplaced Creek,” “I Knew It Was Around Here Somewhere Creek”?  If my mother had named it I suppose it would be “I Didn’t Know It Was My Turn to Watch It Creek.”  The point being, it is clearly a creek that is no longer lost.  The name is a misnomer, if not -and I may go too far here- a lie.

The Southern Portion of South-East West Virginia is the land of the truly geographically careless.  As one drives north, not far from the Virginia line, one comes upon LOST RIVER (perhaps the big brother of Lost Creek) STATE PARK, which has a sign clearly showing that the park is not lost, but quite clearly found.  Driving further north one reaches the eponymous “Lost River” itself, which has a bridge crossing over the water, which leads one to question how the engineers knew where to build the bridge, since the river was, dare I say it, lost.  I guess “Found River;”  “Recently Relocated River;” and  “Ah-Ha! There It Is! River” just doesn’t have the same ring to it that “Lost River” does.  The scary thing is that  just a few miles further north is “Lost City.”  I mean really, as I have asked before, how does anyone lose a city?  I guess you could misplace a creek or two. I suppose that on a particularly stressful day you could forget just where you lay down a river, but to lose a city would require extreme carelessness.  I have actually seen this “Lost City” (This is not El Dorado, or, come to think of it, Atlantis, which too has been lost, but a different lost city. You know, as a race, we seem to have been rather careless with our cities, as there just seems to be a rash of this misplacement of place, and I might add, this one was, apparently, found.).  Truth be told, to call “Lost City” a city would be to push that truth to the extreme.  My best guess is that, perhaps, just a small portion of it was actually found.  Perhaps a more fitting renaming might be “Partially Relocated City about the Size of a Small Hamlet” (Please, no Shakespeare jokes here), but granted, that might be difficult to fit onto the sign.

These random topographic misplacements are not the only questionable nomenclatures I have encountered in the naming of place.  A friend once told me that he was going to go fishing at Dry Fork.  “For rocks, I would assume?” was my response.  When assured that the Dry Fork was in fact wet, I then had to conclude that there was also, no fork.  I would have to assume that not everyone on Rich Mountain is wealthy, and I don’t believe that all who live on Cheat Mountain are dishonest, though I must believe that some are.  No judgment here.

I grew up on Maple Avenue, which, to the best of my knowledge and memory, had no Maples.  I currently live on Buffalo, so I guess that I’m okay with the missing elements of the street names.  Buffalos on the street could be problematic.   I do have maples on Buffalo, but do not remember buffalos on Maple.  In the town in which I grew up, North Street runs east to west and vice versa.  Why?  I have no idea.  Someone once surmised that North Street once marked the northern boundary of  the town.  It didn’t.  The architecture to the north of North Street is often older than that to the south.

 In the town where I currently reside, within the mountains lest we forget, the numerical street names run southward in descending order: 4th Street, 3rd Street, 2nd Street, 1st Street, 10th Street…Wait! 10th Street?  What the hell? 10th?  Then 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th.  Okay, what happened to streets 5th through 9th?  I assume they were just misplaced.  When they are eventually relocated will they be named “Lost Street,” “Formally Missing Street,” and the like?  On a lighter note, I have been to several Pleasant Valleys, and for the most part, most were.   Should the ones that aren’t be forced to change their names? “Not Really All That Pleasant Valley,” or “Well, I Guess It’s Okay Valley.”

Throughout the West are numerous lost mines, lost treasures, and Lost Canyons.  I still don’t see how one could misplace something as large as a canyon, a city, a river, or even a creek.  Edgar Rice Burroughs once wrote of both The Lost Continent and “The Lost World,” but I am beginning to believe that I am just writing about a lost cause. However, I do not plan to lose any sleep over it. Well, that is this week’s Fairly Random Musings of a Bohemian Mountain Man. Peace.