Old Geezers Out to Lunch

Old Geezers Out to Lunch
The Geezers Emeritus through history: The Mathematician™, Dr. Golf™, The Professor™, and Mercurious™

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Breakfast

I had breakfast in the garden this morning. I mean this more literally than in the usual sense, as it
wasn't a matter of me carrying around a cup of coffee and a slice of toast as I sat at a patio table and enjoyed the morning. The raspberries are at last in full bearing mode, cherry and pear tomatoes are ripening, the herb containers on the deck are fragrant, and the first green and yellow peppers are ripe. It's not like my wife and I are prodigious vegetable gardeners; we actually lean more toward the ornament side in our gardening tastes, but we do grow enough edibles to offer enough for two middle-aged folks during the growing season.  This morning's breakfast was a matter of literally plucking the food from the canes, stalks, and vines and munching them whole while wandering around the early morning garden. 

One of those cool midsummer spells have hit Minneapolis after a couple of weeks of heat and humidity. The temperature this morning was in the high 40s, though the early morning sun brought it up to around 60 by the time I finished breakfast. In addition to the food available to eat, there is nourishment for the eyes,  too, as mid July is also the lushest time of year for ornamental plants. The daylilies are in full bloom, their warm colors complemented by an occasional balloon flower, laitris, or tradescandia.

Over the course of two hours, I felt some of the tension from the week drain away into the earth; gardens for me are literally grounding, soaking up
the static artificial energy created by the modern workplace. Over the course of six weeks, I have five out of town trips scheduled and time in the garden or walking in the woods or at an arboretum, is critical to my well-being.

This morning, anyway, that sense of well-being is profound indeed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Liberals Have Deserted Me.

I'm seriously considering leaving a club to which I've belonged for my entire life—the liberals.

All my life, friends and acquaintances who are moderate in political and social outlook have regarded me as extremely left-wing in attitude—one close friend openly thinks of me blatantly socialist. But lately my liberal sisters and brothers are beginning to piss me off in the extreme, mostly because they project false arrogance and superiority that is just insufferable. The liberals who are bugging me come in several sub-species, among them:

The restaurant and coffeeshop snobs
Lord, am I tired of the aristocrats for whom the only thing acceptable is the newest, most
Seriously?  I asked for a cup o' Joe, black. 
expensive restaurant in town. Very rarely I've found some of these places to be really nice dining experiences, but generally speaking the busiest restaurants have little legitimate to recommend them other than the fact that human lemmings are swarming them for the moment. Fully ninety percent of these trendy places offer fare that has less taste than what you'd eat at a simple Perkins family restaurant. It's entirely false snobbishness that fuels the silly popularity of these places.

Similarly, I'm terribly tired of the coffee boutiques specializing in syrupy fluids with flavor that reminds you of the bottom of an ashtray. Let's face it: old time diners offered coffee with a pleasantly nutty flavor that surpassed most of the nonsense served in the upscale coffee boutiques.

The health food nuts
At various times lately, I've heard it said that virtually all world health problems, from autism to dementia, are due to:
• Gluten
• Sugar
• Lactose
• Statin drugs
• Red meat
• Protein
• Carbohydrates
• Caffeine
• Artificial Sweeteners
• Too many intestinal bacteria
• Not enough intestinal bacteria

Good grief. It's interesting to me that the folks frantically afraid of these health nemeses seem to be the ones who then develop them. (The real health problem is narcissistic hypochondria).  Meanwhile, I know perfectly healthy octogenarians who have consumed liquor and stiff coffee, smoked cigarettes and practiced all manner of debauchery and are are still alive and kicking rigorously.

It wouldn't be so bad if these food neurotics didn't insist on preaching to you their brand of insanity. At a recent neighborhood picnic, one fellow interrogated each person who had brought a potluck dish on whether their recipes were "gluten free" or not. Several were asked to go check labels to find out if he could eat without farting up a storm a couple of hours later.

And I have no need to convince vegetarians and "vegans" that their practices are somewhat against the biological heritage of homo-sapiens. It's no skin off my nose if they want to live this way. So why is it that when you eat a bit of fish and a sour-dough roll in front of them,  they can barely disguise their contempt?

Pseudo hippies
I really don't have anything against the true children of the 60s and 70s who continue to live the
Sorry pal. Abbie Hoffman you ain't. 
principles of that era, though it often seems just a little silly. Most of us from that generation have evolved a bit, or at least become a little more realistic about some aspects of the world, but it seems to me that these folks have earned the right to practice a philosophy that's natural to them. And there is a political genuineness (though perhaps not practical realism) that I rather admire.

But I'm increasingly surprised by the number of young (late 20s to early 40s) liberals who adopt a kind of false hippie aesthetic without any real idea of the underpinnings. On the commuter bus one casual Friday, I heard two young women comparing the quality of tie-dye skirts between Macy's and Nordstroms, one arguing that paying $250 was a good investment, as the designer was much more on-trend.  The idea that such garments were created by hand back in the day was utterly alien to them, I imagine.

These pseudo hippies are frankly as blatantly materialistic as any 1970's yuppie that we used to ridicule. They've just deluded themselves into believing they are superior to other people.

Lords of craft beer
Here's another trend that's starting to annoy me—the obsession with "craft" beer. Surely this has about run its course. It's really nothing more than the latest iteration of wine snobbery. if you ask me. I've nothing again microbreweries—who could be against having more pubs around the neighborhood? But the level of gourmet pretension has become pretty unbearable. Beer is beer, and its the act of tipping back with your pals that is significant, not silly debate on the aesthetics of the decor and furnishings in one microbrewery over the other.

(Note: Scotch snobbery is not to be criticized, under severe penalty)

Parents who "befriend" their children 
This isn't all that new; some fellow liberals back when we started having kids were also practicing this way.  What I'm speaking of are those parents who have no ability to distinguish between the adults and the children. They treat their kids as friends, sometimes even encouraging kids to address mom and dad by first names. And in the homes of these folks, you'll find no distinction between spaces for the kids and those for adults—toys and games are scattered everywhere, and the entire family culture is dominated by the needs and wishes of kids. These are the folks who will never leave kids with a baby-sitter in order to go out and get stinking drunk and screw in the backseat. Because they are ordained by god almighty to raise supermen and superwomen, they are likely to home school their kids, because of course contact with other people is not necessary for a growing kid. They are the ones who insist that you need not discipline kids; only "reason" with them. (One fellow preached this to me, then in the next breath lamented that his 10-year old son had begun stealing from the neighbors after breaking through their windows).

Spare me. Parents should have no fear of being parents and making sure their kids understand that that they are the kids. Give the kids some space; your constant presence in every aspect of their lives is not very healthy.

The bicycle frauds
I work with some of these folks, who exhibit an insolent moral superiority in the fact that they
Got news for you. This ain't the tour de France. 
ride bicycles everywhere while others drive automobiles. Does a 50-year old bicycle commuter really have any reason to where spandex biking togs with racing numbers on the back?   In cultures where bicycling is far more ingrained (England, for example), folks ride bikes in comfortable clothing, not ridiculous costumes.

And I'm entirely weary of the indignant, defiant way that bicyclists now treat traffic laws, living in constant deliberate combat with automobiles. Now, I have no problem if bicyclists want to run a stop sign or red light, frankly, Generally, it's no skin off my nose, and I frankly am ready to offer some social leniency to those who are saving gasoline.  But at the same time, you do this at your own risk, and running a traffic stop means you must be willing to take responsibility for the consequences. Everywhere today I see bikes whizzing through intersections as though they have god-given right of way, paying no attention to cross traffic, and then filing lawsuits if they plow broadside into a car.

The television snobs
I know quite a number of educated liberals who sniff with superiority if you mention that you enjoy a particular television program or frequently watch ballgames on the tube.  Apparently they only read greek literature and study classic music for entertainment in the evenings. These are the folks who deny their kids television viewing or access to computer games due to a sense of moral superiority: it's the "we practice arts and crafts at our house rather than watch TV" group.
Yup. That's me, Mercurious. And proud of it. 

This is just horse crap. Television is inherently no more corrupting (and likely less so) than reading romance novels, or listening to Taylor Swift on the ipod, which is what a lot of these holier-than-thou sorts do on the sly. Steven Spielberg acknowledges that he watched television constantly as a youth, as did any number of creative and famous individuals. Probe a little bit and you'll find that these folks who claim to have never watched television can sing you the theme song to most every 1970s sitcom.

So I'll just say it: the big-screen, high-def television is illuminated and talking quite a bit of the time at our house, and we kind of treat it as a window that can be looked through when you want. As Joseph Campbell noted, studying a society's  popular culture tells you far more about it than scholarly tomes.

I read three books a week, on average.  But I also can't wait for the next episode of "Hillbilly Handfishin'" on the History Channel. It airs right before "Say Yes to the Dress."

.....I clearly need a new club. Time was when liberals were a 'live and let live' crowd, not a bunch of moralistic namby pambies.

 I wonder the entry requirements are for the Libertarians.