Archive for November, 2010

Transportation Optional

Friday, November 26th, 2010

It seems you should be very careful what you say when you hang out with God. I took my car in for scheduled maintenance last week. Since where I work is neither near a dealership nor near where I live, my plan was simply to drop the car off in the morning and then pick it up after work. I did this a couple of months ago and it worked out quite well. The dealer gave me a ride to the BART station in the morning, then in the evening I caught a bus from the station back to within a quarter mile of the dealer.

Here’s where I made my mistake. Even though I thought that if a few things went well I could get back to the dealer a fair amount earlier, I told my service representative that I wouldn’t be able to pick up the car before six. And of course God heard me say that. And of course God likes lies even less than I do and I really, really don’t like lies.

So what’s a deity to do?

I have a weekly meeting at work that often runs until close to five o’clock, but this week it finished up by twenty minutes after four, so I was able to get out of work early. On my way out I was waylaid by a coworker with a couple of questions, but even with that I got to the BART station with a minute to spare before my train arrived. There were no delays, the train wasn’t too crowded and by a quarter past five I was leaving the station and heading to the bus stand. Now the last time I did this the bus was sitting there when I arrived and so I climbed straight on board. This time no bus was in sight so I had time to read the posted schedule. There was a bus at 5:05. The next one was to be at 7:05. What kind of municipality runs busses on a two hour interval? So now I had three choices, I could phone the dealer and see if they still had a shuttle driver who could pick me up, I could walk the three-hundred feet or so to the taxi stand and pay someone to drive me to the dealer, or I could walk the nearly two miles.

I decided to walk. I got to the dealership at 5:59, but it was six o’clock by the time I got to the cashier’s desk. I learned that it’s best to not make statements with too much specificity when God is listening.

Cutting Up

Friday, November 19th, 2010

There’s a little mini-season that I like to celebrate. It lasts about a month and it’s about to come to a close.

It doesn’t have a name, but I suppose you could call it carving season. It begins with preparations for Halloween when all the country is busy carving jack-o-lanterns out of pumpkins. With typical American Holiday Excess I’ve noticed that for the last few years the pumpkin carvings have been getting amazingly elaborate, but hey, if you wan’t to forgo triangular eyes in favor of some fancy bas relief, more power to you. I’m all for more art in everyday life. The season then ends with the carving of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

Some argue that the season continues on to Christmas, when many families carve up another turkey or even a goose or duck. I would point out, though, that just as many serve ham or tamales or some other traditional meal for Christmas, so I’m not buying it. Carving season ends with Thanksgiving. After that the only thing that regularly and reliably cuts to the bone is the cold northern winds.

Proposition 19

Friday, November 12th, 2010

So last week I did a lot of complaining about the mid-term elections and got left alone for my troubles. This week God came back and while I had calmed down considerably, I wasn’t done.

The thing that still keeps me going is that the California voters had the chance to legitimize the state’s biggest cash crop by legalizing marijuana and they let it go. God’s actually on my side on this one, after all if she’d been against marijuana she could have gotten rid of it anytime, instead she lets it grow like a weed.

“Why?” I asked her. What possible reason could the public have at this point to keep the use of pot illegal other than that old puritan fear that someone somewhere might be having some fun? Sure I’d read the arguments that this proposition was just the wrong way to go about it, since it could lead to a thousand differing ways to regulate what is just a simple plant. Really though, such issues would get ironed out and we’d be a lot better off the sooner we can got rid of the organized crime that prohibition always brings about.

Finally God presented an argument I could buy. She pointed out how health conscious Californians are as a group. Then she pointed out that despite that, Californians on average were just about as overweight as the rest of the country, on average. We did that while the prohibition on weed has been in full swing. Now imagine where we’d be if we legalized pot and everybody got the munchies. That’s what the voters were afraid of.

Politics, Bah!

Friday, November 5th, 2010

God says I’m on my own this week. Election 2010 is over, here in the states, and apparently after such an election I’m just not fit company. Even for someone with the infinite patience of God.

So fine. Let’s talk about United States Politics. If I can sum up my impression of the electorate this year, the prevailing attitude seems to have been: The Republicans dug us into a great big pit; the Democrats weren’t able to both stop the digging and build us a ladder that we could use to climb out of that pit before the election; so even though the Republicans promise to go back to digging, we’re going to put them back in office to show those Democrats how unhappy we are.

See the thing is, I don’t even like the Democrats. But I have to root for them because I loathe the Republicans. And therein lies my biggest complaint about the American political system. We’ve got this “first past the post” system that pretty much guarantees we’ll only have two political parties with any significant power at any time. It sucks. Not every issue aligns on the so-called left-right spectrum, and not every person has the same opinions on all issues as what is declared the “left” position or the “right” position. But we’re supposed to vote as if they are and we do.

The “first past the post” system is why we’re often told that voting for a third party is throwing away our vote and I’m not going to tell you anything different. Say you were mad as hell and not wanting to take it anymore. You could look around to see what you could do. You could vote for the other major party but say you found them to be so much more against your cherished beliefs than your chosen party that you couldn’t in all conscience help them with your vote, you would then come to the conclusion that you would need to vote for a third party (or fourth or fifth) in order to send a message.

I applaud your desire.

Unfortunately I’m here to tell you just what message that vote sends, it’s “I’m not happy with what either major party is doing, but I’m powerless to do anything about it.” It sucks, but that’s what they hear, that’s the message they get.

Maybe when God is talking to me again he’ll have something to say that lessens the pain, but I doubt it. After thirty some years of voting every two years, I’ve gotten used to it. I think I’ve begun to vote with a limp though.