I Have Again Been Remiss.

29 April 2012

The last couple of weeks have been devoted to business.  I’ve got a new one I’m rampping up so it’s been tough to find the time to write.  Never say “die”, right?

Speaking of writing, I’ve got a second book up on Smashwords.  It’s title is Prostate Cancer Guide, the things your doctor probably won’t tell you & how to deal with them.  The title may be long, but it is descriptive.  The link is http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/156890.

The other book is named “Trucker” and it too can be found on Smashwords.com.  It’s about that year Jo and I spent behind the wheel of a semi.  Here’s the link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/139847.

I’ll be putting the links in my Blogroll.  That way you’ll always have them at your eager little fingertips.

The reason Trucker‘s jacket looks so much better then the Guide‘s is that I did it in WordPerfect while I did the Guide‘s in (ugh) Word.  As soon as I upgrade my old WordPerfect, I’ll make a nice one for the Guide.

More trenchant and pithy observations next week.

-Merlin-

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The Awfulizer

11 April 2012

Most of us, perhaps all of us, have a little internal program running around in our brains.  It was developed by the subconscious and has a well-earned name: The Awfulizer.exe

The subconscious is that part of you who says: “I know what I did.  I’m going to dwell on it.”  You might also call this program your conscience and unless you’ve murdered a child, it should pretty much leave you alone.

But there’s a bug in The Awfulizer‘s code.  In response to almost any unanticipated stimulus, The Awfulizer produces a Boolean error and goes into a loop. It is in this loop where The Awfulizer produces an unending supply of spurious and specious responses to almost every conscious thought.  This is the process we call Awfulizing.

The Awfulizer most often glitches at night and in stressful moments and this glitch is responsible for The Awfulizer‘s most common error: The 3:00 AM Terrors.  In the 3:00 AM Terrors, your eyes suddenly pop open and every possible outcome of every possible event you can possibly imagine, is unreservedly negative.  Examples abound.  Here are a few: How awful will it be when I go see the boss.  How awful will it be when the repair shop calls.  How awful when the doctor reads my X-ray.  How awful that I will  eventually sicken and die.

Suicide is without a doubt the most egregious indicator The Awfulizer is looping.  Naturally, there are lesser consequences than suicide!   Nervous breakdown and exhaustion come to mind.  So do psychosomatic illnesses.  And don’t forget compulsive behaviors like lint-picking and hair twiddling.

Truly, The Awfulizer is pretty awful, for Awfulizing is, after all, an illogical process.

So how do you shut the damned thing down?  Well you can’t.

What you can do is feed The Awfulizer enough good data to where the loop is interrupted and The Awfulizer goes back to its normal, benign state running in the background.

Here’s the protocol:  The first thing to do is gather a list of thoughts you’d like to have.  (Of course The Awfulizer will still be running so this task can be difficult.  Be prepared.)  These thoughts can be anything: Driving along in your old muscle car, bedding the hottie in the espresso kiosk, being out on your buddy’s sailboat getting blasted on Scotch.

When The Awfulizer next occupies all your realtime, injecting its malignant and poisonous thoughts, shout STOP!  Keep shouting Stop until The Awfulizer pauses to digest these unanticipated commands, then grab one of the nice thoughts from your list, put it in your consciousness and give it 100% of your concentration.  Of course The Awfulizer, being The Awfulizer, will try to kick the nice thought out of the mix, taking over once again.  When it does, repeat this protocol.

If you decide to invoke this protocol, you’ll be shouting Stop about every three seconds, maybe less.  However, as time goes on, The Awfulizer will pay fewer and fewer visits.  Eventually, it will stop and return to normal.

Now because The Awfulizer concerns itself with the future, you must do one other important thing: You must purge from your mind any thought of the future.  You must concentrate on and living in the moment.  For example, if you start thinking about your retirement portfolio, a thought which causes much sturm  und drang, immediately cast the thought aside and focus on something that is nice right now.  For example, concentrate on the beauty of a leaf’s dendritic venous structure.  Continue concentrating on the here-and-now until the nice thought completely consumes all realtime.  If you don’t, The Awfulizer will take this pause [in concentration] as a GOTO command and start driving you nuts again.

Normally, you should be able to this by yourself and come out with a wonderful and happy life.  However, if you’re having trouble mooting The Awfulizer, go see someone.  As to who that someone might be, don’t afraid to contact a  Kabbalist, a shaman, a yogi, a  medicine man, or someone of a similar cast.  They can offer not only wisdom, but some worthy aids such as peyote and weed.

As a final antidote to The Awfulizer, remember that the future — even the very next moment — is absolutely and totally unknowable.  And being unknowable, the future is simply not worth worrying about.  I wonder how many people who Awfulize about the future find the future turns out to be something they never even considered.

-Merlin-


What We Expect

1 April 2012

NOTE: I took the following from my book, Trucker.  In my Blogroll, there’s a link to Smashwords where Trucker is available as an ebook or PDF.

Several years ago, my wife, Jo, and I drove a transcontinental semi.  This was out of the character of our middle- to upper-middle class lives.  It was done out of certain sense of necessity — our business went flat.  We chose trucking because it offered a respite from the cares and woes of business.  We’d just hook up a loaded trailer and off we’d go.

In trucking, we learned which truck stops had the good restaurants.  We learned which shippers demanded an emolument for loading and unloading trailers, and etc.  There’s something else I’ve learned while trucking: There’s a great cultural divide in America, a divide of expectations and it is unbridgeable.

On one hand.  If you’re someone like, say, a software developer (Bill Gates, Jo and me), or an attorney (Bill Gates’ dad), or an  entrepreneur (like the guy who founded the trucking company), the sky’s the limit.  You go, boy!  America expects you to do well.  You are expected to charge for your products or services, and expected to charge big.  If you suck the business dry, so much the better; you’ll be called a Lion of Commerce, get your picture in the paper and be elected president of the Rotary.  The public will love you.  In a reverent worship, they’ll ask you to autograph copies of your best-selling book.

– but  –

On the other hand.  If you earn your bread by driving a truck or lumping cargo on a warehouse dock or welding parts at GM, you are expected to stay in your caste.  Should you have the temerity to want improvement in your life – say by unionizing, or taking a higher paying job, or even going back to school – you’ll be vilified for “hurting the economy.”  You’ll be denounced for “igniting inflation” and “creating a labor shortage” and “waging class warfare” and “impacting corporate earnings” and “driving up the wage/price spiral.”  You’ll be called greedy and self centered.

A good example is found at the trucking company.  I have been told by more than one trucker that el Presidente has gone on record saying that if we truckers ever unionize, he’ll shut down the business.  Out of naked spite, he’ll close the doors and liquidate the assets.  Finis.  Kaput.

Here’s man who, each year, takes home a fortune from his business but to prevent those who work for him from bettering their lots, he’s willing to destroy that business and the fortune it generates.  This is the divide I’m talking about.

Of course I always knew this divide existed, but until I got into trucking, I never appreciated it first hand.  Nor did I appreciate the ferocity with which the first group enforces it on the second.  Nor the cowed resignation with which the second group accepts it.

Such is America in 2012.

-Merlin-