Cutting a Swath Through Life – Part 1

I’m stalling.  There’s about three inches of dripping wet snow on my driveway and probably another couple of inches of the same that will be falling until tonight.  I should be out there right now shoveling it.  Not snow blowing.  It won’t work on it.  The machine is leaving the bottom inch and that will turn into an ice layer if I try it.  So, shoveling it must be.  But doing it twice is just too much for my lazy nature.  So, I’m stalling.

I was gonna exercise but I convinced myself shoveling was more than enough of that.  I read all the news.  Oh, my aching head.  Blather and more blather.  I’m so tired of it all.  I’m even more tired of the talkers on our side.  And I’m most tired of listening to me!

So, I listened to some music.  Some country, some opera, some old folk music.  All kinds of stuff.  That cheered me up.  That was good stuff.  It got me out of my funk.

There’s just been too much bad news lately.  Local stuff.  Like that girl beaten up on the school bus and those elementary school kids in Ohio who were brutalized by the black kids forcing them to pledge allegiance to BLM.  Nightmarish stuff.  And that synched up with Scott Adams’ statements about anti-white hate.

So, I was going to write a cautionary piece about schools and homeschooling and Florida’s new laws protecting school kids from CRT and LGBTQ grooming and all that crap but I’m too tired of listening to myself drone on.  By now parents should be figuring out their options and doing something about it.

Today I want to talk about living.  We get one life.  These buggers are trying to take that away from us.  Well, instead live it to the hilt.  Cut a swath through this world.  Leave your mark.  Leave a trail of people who remember you and when they think of you, they smile.  Think back on the people you’ve come in contact with in your life.  Which ones are vivid and alive in your memory?  They were the people who put something of themselves into their day-to-day interactions.  Even if you were something as stultifyingly boring as a telemarketer selling children’s books if you put some of your personality into the pitch and some honesty about what you were doing you could turn this dehumanizing rote sales chore into a human interaction that both parties might look back on fondly.

I know this to be the case.  Back in the good old days when I was between careers and schools I once had three different jobs going.  On the day shift I was sorting stock certificates at a Wall Street brokerage house.  On the night shift I was a telemarketer selling anything we were asked to sell; kids’ books, tv commercial gadgets, whatever.  And on the third shift I was a proofreader at a law firm in the World Trade Center.  To say that I was in a twilight existence would be putting it mildly.  Depending on which day of the week it was I might be having my main meal at 6pm or 1am or 9 am.  It was pretty insane.  Luckily, I eventually got a full-time gig at a brokerage house.

But when I was doing the telemarketing, I was in a big boiler room operation and you could hear the salesmen all around you saying the same lines you had on your own script.  And it was fascinating to hear the differences between the pitchmen.  And what you could tell was that the people who approached it as a human interaction in which their actual personality was present had better success.  And they seemed happier when we had our break time in the cafeteria.  Now there were exceptions.  There was this one guy who was a veritable machine.  He never took no for an answer.  His hard sell was frightening.  I had it from one of the quality guys that “the machine” had been involved in a complaint where the script said, “We think (fill in the blank) is eight years old.  Is that right?” and the mother answered, “Bobby died last year.”  And the script handled such an eventuality with the answer, “I’m very sorry for your loss.  I’m sorry to have disturbed you.”  “The machine’s” answer was, “Tell me ma’am, do you have any other children that might be interested in these books?”

Now “the machine” was a great salesman but I think the auto dialer that he was connected to probably had more soul than he did.  But on the other side of my cube was a middle-aged woman who didn’t use the hard sell and probably only got through 40% of the numbers “the machine” got through but her sell rate was much higher and she smiled and talked like a human being during the meal break.  Now which of those two people can I remember as having an actual face and voice.  “The machine” is just a droning noise and all I can remember of his appearance is that he shuffled along staring at the floor.

The sales lady was an old woman (to the kid I was) but with a pleasant voice and smiling face and someone willing to help the newbies with advice on doing their jobs and navigating the system at that office.  She was a human being with a personality and took the time to make her surroundings better for the people around her.  And so almost forty years later she still lives in my memory as a living being.  “The machine” is just a cartoon character and a cautionary tale.

So that’s the point.  A human being is an enormously powerful creature.  But in order to bring that power to bear you have to find a way to leverage your talents and use them for good.  That’s the trick.  You have to find a way to bring your humanity to bear.  And it seems like the world is making that harder and harder.  But that’s what you have to do.  Look at your environment and figure out how you can make the biggest impact for good.  You don’t have to be a politician or a super genius or even an authority figure.  Just find something useful and do it right.  And treat people like they deserved to be treated.  Some of them will turn out to be awful.  But give everyone the benefit of the doubt to start with.  Later on, you can bring out the brass knuckles.  That’s my thought.

Well, that’s enough stalling.  Out with the shovel.  Oh, my aching back.


“But he himself went up alone into the secret room under the summit of the Tower; and many who looked up thither at that time saw a pale light that gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows for a while, and then flashed and went out. And when Denethor descended again he went to Faramir and sat beside him without speaking, but the face of the Lord was grey, more deathlike than his son’s.”

(J.R.R. Tolkien,” The Lord of the Rings)


Everybody reading (and writing) this post is a news junkie.  So, thinking about political matters is part of our nature.  But constantly reading the news and opinion pieces all day long is bad for you.  It creates a lot of stress.  It can depress you.  And over the long haul those kinds of things can kill people.

But there’s another thing it does to you which also causes enormous damage.

It distracts you.

When you follow these stories and agonize over the drip, drip, drip of the unfolding drama on line or in the media you lose track of the important things you should be thinking about and doing.  You are distracted.

Now I am the poster child for this behavior.  During the post-9-11 period I obsessed over every detail of the war news.  I think I spent the whole Bush presidency looking at the casualty data coming out of Iraq.  And, sure, that was a vitally important aspect of the news but it blinded me to what I should have been thinking about.  I should have been questioning the underlying reasons why George Bush wasn’t obsessed with eliminating those injuries and deaths.  I was missing the bigger picture.

And more importantly, it distracted me from paying attention to my own private matters.  Financial considerations, professional responsibilities, even family concerns took a back seat to what was going on half a world away because I became obsessed with the details of a drama that I had no control over and which was played out on a medium that had become omnipresent.

As a reality check, I admit I am still obsessed with the details of the culture war that has engulfed our world.  In fact it’s at the center of one of my primary activities, this blog.  But like a recovering addict I’ve developed a program for modifying my behavior and rebalancing my life away from the source of the compulsion.

The first rule is to monitor your time and limit the amount of time you spend reading the news and opinion journals.  That’s key.  Figure out how much time you need to accomplish all the other things in your life that need doing and then allocate something less than the remainder of the day to your obsession.

The second rule is to develop a clear understanding about how things work in the real world.  That way you can clearly distinguish in your mind the things you have control over and things that you do not.  If you can convince yourself that you are already doing everything possible to mitigate the problems you worry about, it may relieve you of some of your anxiety.

As an example, if you’ve decided that electoral fraud has already made election of a Republican president or a Republican senate impossible then it’s no longer sensible to spend endless hours worrying which Republican candidate will be nominated.  This might allow you to concentrate your efforts on finding a Red State to move to and deciding which candidate in that state you want to see as governor.

And the third rule is ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

Fretting over the antics of the clowns in Washington steals from you time and happiness.  There’s always plenty of time when you can obsess about the horror we see every day in the news.  Pediatric transgender medical malpractice, deep state trespasses against the constitutional rights of Americans, green energy frauds, state-sponsored anti-white violence; you name it.  There are enough outrages in the news every day to rob you of joy for the whole twenty-four hours.  But don’t let it.

Compartmentalize the time you waste on line fussing and fretting.  Force yourself to walk away and do something fun or useful or both.  And by doing this you will imperceptibly make the world and your world that much better.  Because while you’re sitting there fretting, you’re not making things better you’re just making yourself worse.  And you’re making the little bubble that is your world worse.

So, after you read this break away and rejoin the real world and go outside and breath some fresh air and tackle some real-world problem and check it off your list.  Denethor, drop the palantir and pick up a sword.

29MAY2021 – Good Morning Gulag Archipelago!

Our fake President is a leering, gibbering, creepy mental patient and the “intelligence” agencies have perfected their imitation of the KGB and the leaders of all the richest companies have decided to replace us with illiterate third world peons and our children believe that men in sundresses are women.

Well, dammit, it sounds like it’s time for Memorial Day Weekend Barbecue.

Good morning folks.  It’s forty degrees and raining and windy but for whatever reason I’m in a great mood.  Tomorrow’s the family barbecue and granted we’ll be moving the meal inside and the pool won’t be needed, but we’ll have a great time.

So, we’re in a bad place and it may get a lot worse but you know what?  It’s still pretty great to be alive.  Your lungs are giving you air and your blood is racing through your body and the dimwits around here have even admitted that the cops can’t beat me into submission for walking into a grocery store without a towel wrapped around my face.  Despite the cold snap the grass is growing and the birds are singing and other than cleaning the grill and buying some propane I don’t have to do anything but enjoy the day.  I put my country music thumb drive in the music system and let it play and I’ll write some more of my new story and I’ll look around at what’s going on in this sad world and maybe I’ll figure out why the Briggs and Stratton engine on my push mower died last week.  I took apart the carburetor and it looked clean as a whistle.  I’ll get a spark plug wrench today and take a look at that.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably buy a manual mower and start getting exercise that way.  Cutting the grass is an amazing ritual.  Sure, if you’re too busy it’s an impossible time sink to cut your lawn without an engine but it’s a pretty zen way of communing with the summer world.  Ray Bradbury has a chapter in his book “Dandelion Wine” that extols the virtues of a weekly jaunt around the yard behind a reel mower.  Of course he was living in LA at the time and there probably wasn’t any grass in his life at that point but he was hearkening back to his life as a kid in Waukegan, Illinois.  Anyway I’ve spent the last week cutting down thorn shrubs and weed trees like Russian Olive and Ailanthus and digging up their roots.  I finish up drenched in sweat and weary with aching muscles and covered in cuts and scrapes and I’ve been sleeping like a log and wake up hungry and with a clear head.

Sure it’s still a cesspool out in our culture and we are being led down the path to serfdom by evil men and our women and children are deluded but it’s not over yet.  Sanity has a way of breaking through once insanity is allowed to run amok for too long.  And when it does we need to seize our chance and look out for ourselves.  No more alliances with the middle, no more seeing their side of the argument.  Look for good people and form your own community and support each other.  The rest can and will go to hell.  That’s just the way it is.

But have a good holiday and enjoy your own damn life.  That’s what it’s about.

Relax and Don’t Borrow Trouble Until You Have To

For the second time in a week I’ve been lectured about how hopeless the election lawsuits are.  Now there is no way of knowing how things will turn out.  But assuming the worst doesn’t make sense to me.  I’ll let the President and his advisors do everything they can to straighten out this mess.  And if it works out in our favor then we’ll have great laugh about all this.  And if it goes against us then we’ll have to start figuring what will be best for us in a country that cheats its people out of their God given rights.  But why should I have to assume we can’t win?    That’s the same talk I heard back in 2016 from the same people.  Now maybe they’re right this time.  But I’ll be damned if I’m going to make that my default opinion.

One thing it’s interesting to see is who were our real friends and who turned out to be skunks.  And right on cue Fox News turns out to be populated by leftists and corporate shills who went out of their way to stab the President in the back whenever and wherever they could.  Tucker Carlson and the few real Americans left there should think long and hard about exiting for a better option.  Of course, that’s the problem with the Left owning all the media.  We were dependent on Fox to provide an alternative.  Any start up might not be able to pay high earners like Carlson the salaries they are used to.

But remember, President Trump is in charge at least into January.  That is plenty of time to decide how dire our circumstances are and to make whatever provisions are possible.  In the meantime, live your life and enjoy the season and the holidays that are approaching to whatever extent the COVID secret police will allow you.  And don’t let it all be ruined even before it begins.  I intend to have some turkey with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, buttered rolls and candied yams.  I’ll have pumpkin, apple, strawberry rhubarb, cocoanut custard and blueberry pies available for the proceedings and I intend to watch the March of the Wooden Soldiers and Gulliver’s Travels with my two-year-old granddaughter for the first time.  We’ll sit around and the women will prepare the food and we’ll all talk about family and the things we plan to do before it gets too cold and snowy to accomplish.  And we’ll talk about the folks who aren’t around anymore and those who couldn’t be here because of the COVID foolishness.  But I sure as hell don’t intend to turn my life into a funeral because gangsters are planning to take over the country.  If it turns out that they’ve won I’ll make my plans based on that but I’ll be no worse off than my ancestors who had to deal with the Mafia and the petty aristocracy that ran Italy back in the nineteenth century.  My hope is that Americans are too stubborn to be turned into serfs.  Maybe I’m right about that or maybe I’m wrong.  But time will tell.  Let’s let the act play out.