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25 October 2002
Oh, look! A can of worms! And it's open! Ooh, there's another one!

Note to self: When trying to be merely witty in poking fun at something, do not bring into the discussion thoughts and statements that are even remotely serious. Morality, ethics, philosophy, and theology are right out. For verily, the joke goes bye-bye.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   3:42 PM
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24 October 2002
Okay, I totally do not have the time for this. I knew I needed to keep that last post shorter than I did, for when my mind starts going, and I have not the time to properly develop my thoughts, they do not come out clearly and precisely as I would like. And of course, then someone calls me on an assertion that I made, and now I have to get all entanlged in philosophical discourse that I am in every way underprepared for. I loved it, but it was not my best subject. Also, I like Nietzsche. As crazy and messed up as he was, and as much stupidity as his line of thinking has given rise to in this blasted post-modern world of ours, I like him. He was a poet, and his thinking is intriguing. But as a rule, I reckon my liking of his work prevents me from being a serious student of philosophy. The Greeks are the way to go there, and I have not the time to pick them up right now.

So, what leads to the new post when I don't have the time? Clarification. Always.

A friend (blast you and your knowledge, Chris!) calls me on the statement, "though we may have reason, which elevates us above other earthly creatures, we are yet animals ourselves." Though I confess to some naturalistic tendencies, no, I do not believe that we're just a few steps up from animals. No, I don't hold with the "thinking piece of meat" theory. To say that lowers what we are, which is an amazing thing. We, humanity, are amazing creatures. Often pretty stupid, but amazing nonetheless. My assertion was to put us into the natural world--hence the word "creatures." One cannot deny that we are part of this world around us. We live and breathe in the same way as the other critters, and that puts us in the same framework. Beyond that, though, I hold no similarity, of either design or purpose. To follow a Buffyverse idea, we have souls, and that makes us different. It makes us important. Demons, namely vampires, in the Buffyverse have everything we have (okay, they technically have a bit more, what with the super vamp strength and immortality and so forth, but that's beside the point), but without the soul, they are, essentially, nothing--npthing more than a burst of dust. That one little thing, the soul, combined with the loveliness of reason, makes us different and therefore outside of the natural framework. Perhaps that's what I'm trying to get at here--the reason we are different is because we operate on the planet like other animals (basic needs and drives being similar), and yet we exist within another framework as well. To stop with the living tissue and blood and such which resembles that of the animals is to deny everything we are. My earlier post only made half the argument (mostly because I was just trying to illuminate the silliness of PETA, who argue the other way--that animals lives are more important than those of humanity).

With luck this doesn't sound new-agey (which might be even worse than I sounded earlier), but we, as humans, are truly a melding of mind, body, and spirit. That was the design, the intent. Yet to live on this earth, we must fit into the natural world. We eat them, and given a chance, they'll eat us. Don't think for a minute that given the opportunity, with you at a serious disadvantage, that a chicken wouldn't gut you--it just might take a while. Of course, I still think we're safe from cows. I mean, come on, what are they going to do, blink at us? Cows are just steaks waiting to happen. That's their point.

And so what's my point? I guess it's that we share this natural world of ours with the creatures. That's something we have to understand to survive on the basest of levels. But that does not make me (or you or any of us) one of them. I am not a cow, nor am I like a cow (thank goodness). We have more going on than that. Which I guess then leads to another question. After tossing all these words of "purpose" and "design" around, do I perhaps underneath everything believe in but one designer? Well, that's not for me to say just now. But a word occurs to me. And it is "mayhap."
Jelly Pinched Wolf   1:48 PM
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Read an article the other day (sorry, no link--you'll have to take my word for it). Apparently PETA, in their infinite wisdom, tried to demonstrate to a group of Scottish schoolchildren that drinking milk is bad, and they should stop. Well, these wonderful, upstanding Scots kids began pelting the two morons from PETA (one of whom was in a cow suit--tell me there's not something a bit disturbing about that) with milk and other projectiles. I love this. This brings me great joy. Good for the Scots, I say!

Another example of arrogant, self-righteous dimwits trying to save the universe from us evil humans. Again, people, the universe is fine--it's thrumming along just as it's supposed. If it ever gets tired of us, I'm certain it'll let us know. I could go into a rant about PETA. Not going to. I'm too busy here at work, and frankly, they're good enough at ridiculing themselves. Everything they attempt makes them look moronic. But I assume I must clarify (in the interest of assuaging any oversensitive readers) that though I laugh heartily at PETA, I in no way support cruelty to animals. That's just about one of the most evil things I can think of. What PETA needs to understand is that though we may have reason, which elevates us above other earthly creatures, we are yet animals ourselves. Not the same exactly--that'd be silly, and a denial of our reason, which makes us special (this is not hubristic, it's common sense--when's the last time a cow built anything or had a deep thought?). But we are part of the natural world--it's called a food chain--did they not learn this in school? Some beasties out there are more than willing to eat me. I'm fine with that, 'cause I've got the sense to avoid those beasties. It's the way of the world.

So, before I get completely off-topic and end up being ranty anyway, let me just say this. PETA needs to go after the losers who beat or ignore or abandon their pets, not the milk-drinkers of the world. Then maybe they wouldn't look quite so ridiculous.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   9:48 AM
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15 October 2002
First day back at work, and our system is down. Funny how it couldn't go down while the stupid strike was on.

Anyway, I figure this is the perfect opportunity to blog a bit more about the vacation. Not that I think this will be of all that much interest to anyone but my wife and I, but hey, at least it gives me something to blog about. And I won't even likely get all that ranty. After all, I've already mentioned the drivers, and for the most part, that's the only part of the trip worth ranting about.

One thing Kathy and I talked about on the trip was the way in which people who live in a place seem to become numbed to their surroundings. Driving through the mountains between Loveland and Boulder, we were both in awe of the beauty and splendour of the landscape. I kept to the speed limit, occasionally even dropping beneath it, partly out of the desire to not die on the winding, dangerous roads, but also so we could more easily take in the scenery on the journey. Now, I never went slow enough to hold up traffic--at least, I shouldn't have been holding up traffic at the speeds I went. Nevertheless, I had to pull off quite a bit to let people by. Everyone seemed in a terrible rush to get out of the mountains and get to where they were going. It was like any majesty the mountains might once have held for them was gone, or something they had no need for. It seemed they'd rather the mountains were not there at all--nature had become an inconvenience to them, and they could not get through the winding pass fast enough.

It's something I do not understand. My wife has noticed that just about everywhere people do not bother to stop and enjoy a sunset, or a pretty field--they don't even look around themselves most of the time. It's always about where they're going. That's all that matters. Are we humans so very full of ourselves that we can't see outside our own lives? I know one can take this too far. It's one thing to see what's going on around you, to enjoy the natural beauty of this world, to realise we are part of the world, not its masters. It's quite another to fall into the trap of seeing a profound importance in every little detail of the natural world. It's a completely different sort of hubris to believe that we must save this poor world--that it needs us to protect it from, well, us. The world is fine, people. The last thing it needs is us to protect it. If anything, we need it to protect us. Humanity, in its natural, mortal state, really isn't much without a world to live in. But we can't ignore what's around us, either. We can't become immune to the simple beauty of the sun rising and falling, the turning of the leaves in autumn, the quiet, lonely chill of a snow-covered forest in winter. Living in place for a length of time does not naturally numb a person to the sights around him. I refuse to believe that it does. I spent the first half of my life in the wilds of upstate New York, and I never failed to be awed by the things around me. Which is partly why I miss Autumn so very much. Texas doesn't have one. Oh, it gets chilly enough as we approach winter--at least up here in North Texas. But rarely do the leaves ever change. The air does not take on that lovely quality that true Autumn brings with it--that crispness as you can feel that last bit of warmth leaking away as everything around you withers and dies. It's not sad like winter (which is lovely in its own way). In Autumn, Nature sheds its last light, beaming forth its brightest colours, which are warmer and more vibrant than any of the green it might have carried in Spring or Summer.

I envy everyone living in the Northeast right now, and pity them if they can't take the time to look about themselves and just enjoy what their eyes can take in. Stop where you are. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Feel the life burning around you. Open your eyes again, and realise that we were meant to see it. It's not there as something to ignore, or something you have to deal with. We're a part of all that out there, and both we and it are fleeting things.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   2:41 PM
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14 October 2002
Colorado, what we saw of it, anyway, is a lovely state. The mountains are beautiful. The trees actually change colour there in the autumn--the way they ought to. The people seemed friendly. The air was cool and did not send my allergies into a tizzy. All in all, it was a wonderful, relaxing trip.

Now, let's talk about the way they drive in Colorado, particularly Denver. Badly. That about sums it up.

Before I continue, I must make it clear that I in no way wish to defend Dallas drivers. They do not signal, they drive about as rudely and crazily as anyone in this country, and they have little or no respect for the speed limit, the traffic laws in general, or anyone else around them. As it happens, most of this cannot be said for the drivers in Colorado. That doesn't make them good drivers, though.

I have never in my life encountered a people so hell-bent on tailgating. Two major interstates run through the centre of Denver--I-21 and I-70. There is construction on both. This in no way deters the idiot drivers there from getting as close to your rear end as possible, no matter how fast one is going, no matter how dangerous the road conditions. I swear, the only headlights I saw that first night in Denver were the ones coming the other way. Everyone behind me was too close--I might have been able to see their tail lights, but that was about it.

So yes, that was frustrating and annoying and angrifying. But the trip was truly lovely and fun and relaxing. My wife and I did not wish to return, though we are quite happy to not be eating in a restaurant tonight. There's just something to be said about a home-cooked meal. Speaking of which, I must dash to make said home-cooked meal. More about the trip to come at a later time.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   5:13 PM
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07 October 2002
Tomorrow, to celebrate our impending first anniversary, my wife and I will be taking off for a vacation. A real vacation! I can hardly wait.

We'll be escaping into the cool mountainous air of Colorado for a week of fun, relaxation, and most importantly, not being in Dallas. And of course, all this means that there will be no posts on either this blog or Synonyms and Sugar until after the 14th. I realise you're currently asking yourself how exactly that differs from the norm in my case. Well, it doesn't, but at least I have an actual excuse this time instead of the usual busy, lazy, or braindead excuse. And at least I thought to actually post the fact of the vacation rather than just taking off without so much as a by-your-leave.

Anyway, with luck, this happy break will replenish the mind and I'll be far more post-y when we get back. Until then, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Or something like that.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   3:43 PM
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04 October 2002
Apologies for the silence. Work has been just busy enough to keep me occupied. Also, I seem not to have had much to say.

But for the first time in a while, it is actually slow here, and so I have time to post. The reason for the not working? Ahh, but that's the topic of the post itself.

Out on the Left Coast there's a strike. In case you haven't heard. And anyone working in the shipping business knows exactly what problems that strike is causing. And most people in the business world know it, too, 'cause things are wreaking havoc with the whole of our economy at this point.

So, what's the deal? What's going on out there? Well, to begin with, "strike" isn't exactly the right term, though it would've been given the way negotiations between the shipping lines and dockworkers' union was going. But this isn't a strike, it's a lock out. The longshoremen hve been cast out of their jobs for the time being because of a purported work slowdown. And I say, "Good!" Yes it is sucking for the economy that this has happened. Cargo is just kinda hanging out off-shore in the 30 or more vessels that can't dock and the whole fiasco is costing us an estimated $1 billion a day. And yes, I would love to have the situation resolved right away. But frankly, so says I, screw the bloody dockworkers.

These guys make an average of $80,000 a year. An experienced foreman pulls an average of $167,000. And now they're whining because they're union-protected jobs are in jeopardy. Why? Because the shipping lines want to institute some new technology on the docks. Tech that will increase efficiency, get things moving better, see that the industry itself doesn't fold from an increasing demand on its time and resources. And yes, possibly reduce the necessity for some of those dockworkers. You know what? So it goes. If I'm not needed here in my department, they'll drop me. It'll suck, but so it goes. I'll find something else. I'll adapt. The longshoremen could do it, too, but they've got such a sweet deal there, why would they want to? Rather, they want to continue to be coddled by their union, make their ridiculous salaries for working on a dock, and whine that it's never enough. It's easier that way. One doesn't actually have to exert themselves, or take any risks. Not that I'm saying saying working on dock is easy. I've never done it, nor would I presume to be able to.

What I most take issue with is the union mentality--the we-should-be-treated-like-gods mindset. It's a bloody job. Do your job, take pride in the work you do, go home and have a beer. That's it. Don't make every little issue a national issue just because you find an aspect of your job is making you uncomfortable. We all find things to gripe about with our jobs (unless you're one of the lucky few who truly loves what they do) but not everyone gets to go on strike to do it. Nor should they. You can gripe all you want, but if it's not something you can change, you still have choices. Get another job. It can be done, even in this lousy job market. If I wanted to, I could go back to waiting tables right now. Quite easily. You know what? This job is better than that, no matter how lame it is. I can deal with this. For now. And when I truly can't, I will find something else. There's always something else. But no, the dockworkers can't do that. It's beneath them. Or at least, that's how it seems.

So, what's my point? Not sure I actually have a point, to be honest. I'm just being all informative about the situation out there. If I do have a point, I guess it's this: Why do we still need unions? Once, these were good organisations, truly protecting workers from injustices. But now they seem nothing more than this huge arm of power, making certain the union workers get the greatest benefit for the least amount of effort. I'm not saying the businesses these people work for are saints. It's business--saintliness cannot exist in that world without causing some sort of temporal rift or something else properly Star Trek-y. But unions, at this point, are nothing more than brutes, twisting arms until they get what they want.

It's time for them to go away. And time for the dockworkers to get off their butts and just do their jobs.
Jelly Pinched Wolf   4:07 PM
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