Sunday, April 20, 2008

George on my mind

I've heard it said that all of us can be broken down into four groups:

1 - People who know, and know they know: Learn from them

2 - People who know, and don't know they know: Tell them
3 - People who don't know, and know they don't know: Teach them
4 - People who don't know, and don't know they don't know: Avoid them

Of course, all generalities are bad. Comparisons are odious, but not as odious as giving billions in war supply contracts to your chum's war supply firm, who in turn improperly installs water pumps on showers used by our troops in Iraq, which is why soldiers are being electrocuted in Iraq. Check it out, but it's sad:

And before anyone gets all up in my grill for constantly picking on the person in photo 4, anyone should remember that unlike Mr. Garrison Keillor, Mr. Arthur Lee, and Mr. Forrest Gump, the cute little shaver above is responsible for the deaths of countless individuals the world over.

I've been thinking about knowledge and its all-too-often missing cousin, wisdom. We've all known highly educated people who do stupid things (stick a knife in the toaster, try to add 12 gallons of gas to a 10-gallon tank, cut self shaving) and we've all seen flashes of brilliance in otherwise dim lights (viz. any Matt Damon movie.) My father worked with a man of no-more-than average standing, a guy who hardly spoke to anyone as he slumped about. Little known to his co-workers was the fact that the fellow had been stationed in England during World War II and had become fascinated with the days of the Roman invasion of England, and read everything printed about those days and spent his vacation every summer touring English archaeological digs, digging that he was digging up artifacts.

My father, master of subtlety, told me about this one summer when I was fourteen and on vacation at the beach, trying to amass enough Skee-Ball
tickets to get a pocket comb. The lesson was not lost on me. In a recent comparison with every pre-schooler in my family, it turned out that I know much more about the Roman invasion of England than all of them! Ha!

It does take all kinds to keep this village raised. Knowing the steps to true enlightenment is valuable knowledge, yet when your carburetor malfunctions, you don't care whether the tech can find his way to Satori or not.

I see that Laura Bush will be "guest host" on "Today" the day after tomorrow. This, of course, places her maladroit husband squarely on the horns of a dilemma - should he watch The First Lady swap recipes with Natalie Morales after watching Ann Curry make sad eyes about a story involving a lost dog and then glad eyes about a story about a woman who found an original Van Gogh in a frame purchased at a swap meet, below a print of dogs playing poker - or should he stick with his usual morning fare of "Walker, Texas Ranger" on USA Network and that smart-aleck "Frasier" on Lifetime? Decisions, decisions.

Not many people even remember Senator Roman Hruska, (R., Of Course)
who is best known for responding to criticism that Harold Carswell, who had been nominated by "Dick" Nixon to the Supreme Court in 1970, was a mediocre judge, by saying, "So what if he is mediocre?There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos and Frankfurters and stuff like that there."

Mediocre people everywhere still rally to the stirring words of Roman Hruska, and heeded them en masse in 2000 and 2004. I can't help but feel that we would have been better electing my father's long-ago co-worker. At least he knew something about the invasion of sovereign foreign nations, and why there are damned few English men named Julius Caesar Wilberforce-Humphreys III.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Four things on my mind

Happy Saturday - and yes, there are more than four things on my mind, but let's go bloggin'!

The Baltimore area has had indignities heaped upon it like slag at a steel mill. If your home computer has been running a bit slowly of late, it might be because The Internets are too busy having videos of city school teachers being pummeled by their students downloaded onto them. These students, apparently driven mad by too much exposure to "enlightened" education (pause for laughter), are alerting their friends that they intend to smack the teacher down so that the cellphone cameras can be rolling. An art teacher at Reginald F. Lewis Academy was confronted by a student who asserted her plan to "bang" the teacher (terms do change their meaning over the years, it would seem) and so the teacher announced her plan to defend her space, if same was invaded. Moments later, the donnybrook was on, and yet the principal of this august academy of learning told the teacher she was inciting the student to violence by warning that she would be offering a defense.

And that's not even the indignity about which I planned to write, since educators are in their own little world about these matters. The indignity I had in mind is the imminent invasion of Jenna Bush (seen here in all her wedding finery :)
and her husband. News reports are rampant, indicating that the twin daughter of the dense man who refers to the world wide web as "the internets" and to himself as "the decider" is planning to move to South Baltimore with her new husband, following their gala May 10 nuptials in tony Crawford, TX. Almost certainly with no outside help or influence, her fiance, one Henry Hager, has landed a big job with Constellation Energy, the monolith which even at this moment is generating the power that supplies this computer with the juice that says welcome to town, you crazy newlyweds, you. That $400,000 row house you bought in SoBa would have been available for about $8,450 back in the days when your father was a cheerleader for Andover and your mother was blowing stop signs, but that's the sort of economic progress that your beloved republican party has wrought upon our land, so drink up, kids!

Personal to all those who advised me to eat bananas to ward off the dreaded leg cramps - I have been eating at least one 'nanner per day for some time now, so I am loaded with potassium like a Penn Central rail car, but this morning as I lay abed, here came another one. The cool thing about my leg cramps is that I get this little signal that one is approaching - a little cramplet, one might say - a precursor to the biggie that feels as if some art student from Reginald F. Lewis Academy is running a bandsaw broadwise across my Gastrocnemius (Latin for "calf muscle that makes people hop like they just got a hotfoot.") As a former giver of hotfoots (hotfeet?) I see the karmic twist here. Advice to newlyweds or people who are just beginning to sleep together: if you suffer from nightly leg cramps, tell your partner, lest they be as stunned as Peggy that night, early in our marriage, when I woke her up, jumping around the bedroom as if the angels of death had come to call for me, several decades too soon. "Oh, I forgot to tell you!" I said, ricocheting off a chiffonier, "I get these leg cramps..." It was not to be the last big surprise of our marriage (see blog entry from August 1974, in which I was booked for suspicion as a Watergate co-conspirator.)

I was listening to Mr. Bon Jovi sing his "It's My Life" song, which has the line, "Like Frankie said, I did it my way." Francis A. Sinatra, a once-popular singer, did not write the song "My Way," and he was a bantam-sized man who kept himself surrounded by a coterie of henchmen. Anyone who incurred his bantam-sized wrath was soon set upon by Frankie's men. I'd rather do it my way, which means writing my own stuff and fighting my own battles. Just sayin'.

I feel that an important aspect of my life ended yesterday with the final broadcast of the "Don and Mike" Show.
What I love about blogging - the reality, the human contact of real unvarnished lives - was all there with D&M. Sure they were sometimes tasteless, occasionally cruel, wildly funny, all those things, but they were on the air here since late 1991, and over the course of almost 17 years, a lot happens to people. We were there when Mike O'Meara's marriages ended, when his relationships with his daughters flourished, when he opened and closed his restaurant/bar, and so much more. And Don Geronimo, whose real name is Michael Sorce, as newspaper articles about his travails inevitably said, has had a life of triumph and tragedy, and he shared every single second of it on the air. His son Bart was known as "the six-year-old weather boy" when they came to town; he would read the weather for his Dad. Next month he will be graduated from Clemson. But Freda, Don's beloved wife, was killed by some damned fool driver going 90 miles an hour outside Ocean City three summers ago, and Don was never the same. He had to give up the show because being with the same workgroup every day reminded him too much of his loss, and he chose not to continue in sadness. His woebegone brother Jim (who married a woman who worked for the Frito-Lay factory but betrayed him by doing it with some co-worker atop a mountain of freshly-made Fritos), his battles with upper management, utility companies, and people who talk in movie theaters, his dealings with his birth mother whom he located after a long search, only to have her say "I gave you away because I didn't want you then and I don't want you now," his rejection of his adoptive parents and reconciliation with his adoptive mom after his adoptive father died....all fascinating, and no longer to be shared with us.

Good luck to Jenna's husband, any teacher who needs to don armor, and to Don and Mike.