2008 Notebook: Weak XIX
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7 May 2008
No. 3,544 (cartoon)
I wish you were off my mind.

I wish you were off my body.

8 May 2008
Drinking With My Mother
I don’t know where my love and affection for wine comes from, but it’s certainly not from my mother’s side of the family. Having learned from popular culture that wine is one of those things one really should enjoy, my mother keeps trying to appreciate wine, but with little success. She’s even read a book or two on the subject, and has a passing acquaintance with the domain of the grape. Still, she can’t clear one critical hurdle.

“It tastes like vinegar,” she explained.

Tonight, I reached something of a breakthrough with her over supper. Instead of having a polite thimbleful or two of the bottle I opened for dinner, she had a large glass.

“It’s really nice with the whipped cream on it,” she said. “Thanks Davey.”

She may have really liked it, or perhaps the alcohol was doing the talking. At least she’s happy; what more could one want for one’s mother?

Despite the success of my experiment, I’m having second thoughts: one more glass for my mother meant one less glass for me. Or at least it did until I opened a second bottle.

9 May 2008
The Escalating Price of Dirt
Rapidly rising food prices mean that it costs a lot more to eat than it used to. It’s not a problem for me; I can easily afford another dollar for a stonking burrito. Having said that, I recognize that I am in the top percentile of people on this planet in terms of good fortune. The price of rice—which provides more than one-fifth of all calories humans consume—has doubled or tripled in the last year, and that’s a huge problem for hundreds of millions of impoverished people.

And, humanity being what it is, things get much worse. A couple of months ago I noted that poor Haitians are literally eating dirt cookies. And now, the food situation is even more appalling for the poorest of the poor: the increased price of “edible” dirt has made mud cookies unaffordable for the most impoverished Haitians.

There must be a way of shipping all the lakes of fat liposuctioned off obese, wealthy people to the world’s poorest communities; I hope some international aid agencies are researching such a program.

10 May 2008
The Thing You Cannot Explain
I’ve never thought there was much point in writing about art. Until today, however, I couldn’t explain why. I came across a quote by Georges Braque that succinctly explains why I rarely write or read about art.

“There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain.”

Professors should teach that in art schools, but they never will if they want to remain employed.

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11 May 2008
Avoiding Baby Suffocation
Iris bought a new electronic gizmo; the device was delivered in a plastic sack with an image suggesting that the bag shouldn’t be used to suffocate a baby.

“That’s stupid,” Iris said, “What’s a digital kappastatometer got to do with babies?”

“And who’d want to suffocate a baby anyway?” I asked.

“Ask any mother,” Iris replied. “It’s a miracle of nature that more of us don’t do it.”

Aha; that made sense. I remembered the times my dear mother wanted to strangle me, and not without some justification. I suppose it is a miracle of nature that I’m still alive.

12 May 2008
Communist Romance
I know next to nothing about communism; I don’t even know who said, “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” I do know that that’s one of the best descriptions of marriage, perhaps the most basic form of communism.

And speaking of famous communists, I discovered that Karl Marx was also a sweetheart; here’s an excerpt of a letter to his wife.

    “There are actually many females in the world, and some among them are beautiful. But where could I find again a face whose every feature, even every wrinkle, is a reminder of the greatest and sweetest memories of my life?”

Marx’s lovely sentiment hasn’t changed my cynical view of communism. Since half of marriages end in divorce or other manifestations of failure, what are the odds of eight billion people enjoying such an arrangement?

13 May 2008
Circular Versus Nonlinear Music
Derek said he wanted to listen to some of my new songs, so I handed him my electronic doodad that plays recorded music.

“Thanks,” Derek said, “I’ll give it a spin.”

And that’s when it hit me: music no longer needs to spin. Until recently, to be heard, recorded music needed to spin on wax cylinders, magnetized reels of wire or tape, vinyl or plastic disks, et cetera. Now, however, electronic storage means that I can listen to music from a device with no moving or spinning parts.

All that theory is nice, but, in practice, nonlinear music sounds the same as circular music.

14 May 2008
Truly Affluent
Some time ago, I came across a quote I quite liked: “Success is getting what you want, happiness is being happy with what you get.” When I finally got around to telling a friend about it, I decided to find out who said it. And that’s when I found out that Dale Carnegie came up with that line.

I don’t know much about Dale Carnegie except that he’s the earnest huckster who wrote the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” In other words, he can’t be cited without evoking images of a zealous, rosy-cheeked glad-hander.

And so, I was at a loss for how to explain my comfortable frugality, which even some of my learned friends confuse with impecuniousness. Or, rather, I was until Gary Snyder came to my conceptual rescue with his observation, “True affluence is not needing anything.”

Fortunately, I have no problem quoting Snyder, even if he is sometimes regarded as a poet.

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©2008 David Glenn Rinehart