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Posts Tagged ‘need’

I have weturned… again.

My buddy Spaced Diode has been sailing to Bermuda and arrived there on Sunday.bmudaHe’s there now.  I begged him to let me go on the trip – it was five days non-stop sailing in shifts.  I said “Let me cook, or clean, or… I’ll be an anchor!  Yeah!  I’ll be an anchor and I’ll scrub the bottom of the boat while it’s underway!”

If I were still single or without kids I would have flown to Bermuda and made sure I was on the dock sipping a Dr. Pepper as he sailed up and said “Hey, where the $*#)(%^ have you been?”   It would rock him on his oh-so-rational-heels.

He was concerned about sea-sickness prior to leaving.  Said the Dramamine patch has been known to trigger psychoses.  (I suggested using three to five units at all times but no more than six because then, yes, there are some side effects bordering on a true psychotic break).  Then there was the concern about nasty-mannered whales and ballast-blowing submarines.

I promptly mentioned rogue waves, meteorite impacts in the ocean, tsunamis, giant squid, forests of jellyfish, and zombie manatees.

When he gets back we’re going to go on a 1-2 day sail on Lake Michigan.  Leave the wives and kids behind and enjoy two days of silence.  And talk about geeky shit.

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The Dept. of Homeland Insecurity assures us that laptops and phones can be searched based on hunches.  Note the wording and the order of said wording:

It contends limiting such searches would prevent the U.S. from detecting child pornographers or terrorists and expose the government to lawsuits.

Well, who doesn’t think it is a good idea to catch child-ped-pr0n’ers?  And while we’re at it we’ll catch terrorists, too!  So let us search your shit, too, you perv.  – TSA Commandant Sausagefingers McPhee as he genuflected towards Obama’s life-sized halo’ed marble statue (the one where he’s riding Karl Rove with a saddle and spurs)

This reminds me in a lot of ways of Mitchell’s favoritest movie – Blade Runner.  Deckard goes to meet a replicant named Zhora, who is a nude dancer and he is pretending to be an authority.

Deckard: I’m not here to make you join. No ma’am. That’s not my department. Actually, uh. I’m from the, uh, Confidential Committee on Moral Abuses.

Zhora: Committee of Moral Abuses?

Deckard: Yes, ma’am. There’s been some reports that the management has been taking liberties with the artists in this place.

Zhora: I don’t know nothing about it.

Deckard: Have you felt yourself to be exploited in any way?

Zhora: How do you mean, exploited?

Deckard: Well, like to get this job. I mean, did you do, or– or were you asked to do anything that’s lewd or unsavory or otherwise, uh, repulsive to your person, huh?

Zhora: Ha. Are you for real?

Deckard: Oh yeah. I’d like to check your dressing room if I may.

Zhora: For what?

Deckard: For, uh, for holes.

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If you’ve [done_something_here] and experienced five or more of the following symptoms, [snip] you’ve probably been [catastrophic_occurrence]: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis (having to pee a lot), gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, periods of inexhaustibility or psychomotor agitation (unintentional motion, say, rapidly bouncing one leg).

So, what could cause all that?  It’d pretty much have to be high doses of cocaine or crystal meth, right?

No, the writers of the new Metrosexual DSM-V Psychiatric Guidelines apparently have a need, a physically-manifesting burning need that somehow mimics chlamydia, to add whole new sections so that most anyone can be classified as at least something.  That something will either have an ObamaCare billing code attached to it – OR – it will have a flag that makes you ineligible to be a legal owner of a weapon.  That is my supposition, based on absolutely nothing other than full-fledged paranoiac tendencies fueled by lots of…  you’ll see.

That description above is the description for drunk on caffeine.  The syndrome?

In December 2011 when caffeine withdrawal was announced as being “recommended for inclusion” in the DSM-5, work-group member Alan J. Budney attempted to address the controversy:

“We feel that there is enough data to support a caffeine-withdrawal syndrome. There are enough people who go into withdrawal — that if they don’t get caffeine, it becomes a real syndrome and can affect work, sleep, or whatever they need to do. So we’re suggesting that it ‘make the big leagues’ and become part of the DSM to make sure everyone is aware of it.”

Caffeine withdrawal is a mental disorder.

I call BS, because I am at this very moment chilling down from a long workday with an 8oz Red Bull™.  If I was mentally disordered it would be at least a 12oz size.

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They say that this is a dog and not a fleecy towel with a nose sewn on.

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Apparently kittens can be disabled and make us look like whiny bastard pieces of shit without even trying.  But they do it cutely.

This kitten has been nicknamed ‘Squitten’ after being born with a deformity in her front paws that means she sits and walks on her hind legs like a squirrel.
Petal, a five-month-old, suffers from a rare condition that means she has no bones after the elbow joint in her front legs so they are permanently bent inwards.
She is unable to run like other felines and has no choice but to either waddle on her rear legs or slouch forward onto her crooked limbs.

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Nothing special.

This is probably one of the more inspirational things you could read.  A teacher that tells the students that they are NOT special.  They have to DO excellent to BE excellent. Students may not have gotten a warm fuzzy tummy rub but they got what they needed to hear – let’s hope they heard it.

Wellesley High School (Wellesley, MA) English teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s faculty speech to the Class of 2012:

Dr. Wong, Dr. Keough, Mrs. Novogroski, Ms. Curran, members of the board of education, family and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen of the Wellesley High School class of 2012, for the privilege of speaking to you this afternoon, I am honored and grateful.  Thank you.            So here we are… commencement… life’s great forward-looking ceremony.  (And don’t say, “What about weddings?”  Weddings are one-sided and insufficiently effective.  Weddings are bride-centric pageantry.  Other than conceding to a list of unreasonable demands, the groom just stands there.  No stately, hey-everybody-look-at-me procession.  No being given away.  No identity-changing pronouncement.  And can you imagine a television show dedicated to watching guys try on tuxedos?  Their fathers sitting there misty-eyed with joy and disbelief, their brothers lurking in the corner muttering with envy.  Left to men, weddings would be, after limits-testing procrastination, spontaneous, almost inadvertent… during halftime… on the way to the refrigerator.  And then there’s the frequency of failure: statistics tell us half of you will get divorced.  A winning percentage like that’ll get you last place in the American League East.  The Baltimore Orioles do better than weddings.)

            But this ceremony… commencement… a commencement works every time.  From this day forward… truly… in sickness and in health, through financial fiascos, through midlife crises and passably attractive sales reps at trade shows in Cincinnati, through diminishing tolerance for annoyingness, through every difference, irreconcilable and otherwise, you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, ‘til death do you part.

            No, commencement is life’s great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism.  Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue.  Normally, I avoid clichés like the plague, wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field.  That matters.  That says something.  And your ceremonial costume… shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all.  Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you’ll notice, exactly the same.  And your diploma… but for your name, exactly the same.

            All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.

            You are not special.  You are not exceptional.

            Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special. 

            Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped.  Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again.  You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored.  You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie.  Yes, you have.  And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs.  Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet.  Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman!  And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…

            But do not get the idea you’re anything special.  Because you’re not.

            The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can’t ignore.  Newton, Natick, Nee… I am allowed to say Needham, yes? …that has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that’s just the neighborhood Ns.  Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools.  That’s 37,000 valedictorians… 37,000 class presidents… 92,000 harmonizing altos… 340,000 swaggering jocks… 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs.  But why limit ourselves to high school?  After all, you’re leaving it.  So think about this: even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.  Imagine standing somewhere over there on Washington Street on Marathon Monday and watching sixty-eight hundred yous go running by.  And consider for a moment the bigger picture: your planet, I’ll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe.  In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it.  Neither can Donald Trump… which someone should tell him… although that hair is quite a phenomenon.

            “But, Dave,” you cry, “Walt Whitman tells me I’m my own version of perfection!  Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!”  And I don’t disagree.  So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus.  You see, if everyone is special, then no one is.  If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.  In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.  We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.  No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it…  Now it’s “So what does this get me?”  As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.  It’s an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement.  And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.”  I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition.  But the phrase defies logic.  By definition there can be only one best.  You’re it or you’re not.

            If you’ve learned anything in your years here I hope it’s that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning.  You’ve learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness.  (Second is ice cream…  just an fyi)  I also hope you’ve learned enough to recognize how little you know… how little you know now… at the moment… for today is just the beginning.  It’s where you go from here that matters.

            As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.  Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in any more than you would a spouse you’re not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison.  Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction.  Be worthy of your advantages.  And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect.  Read as a nourishing staple of life.  Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it.  Dream big.  Work hard.  Think for yourself.  Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might.  And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you’ll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.

            The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer.  You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube.  The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life.  Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow.  The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil.  Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem.  The point is the same: get busy, have at it.  Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you.  Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands.  (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression–because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life.  Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.)

            None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence.  Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct.  It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.  Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view.  Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.  Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly.  Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them.  And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.  The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.

            Because everyone is.

            Congratulations.  Good luck.  Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.

                                                                                    David McCullough

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