Category Archives: feeling sorry for myself

I Don’t Believe in Ghosts… Except for Some Ghosts

As an atheist who believes in God, paradoxes and contradictions are something I am entirely comfortable with. So, it should come as no surprise that I don’t believe in ghosts… with notable exceptions.

Cool song, right? Did you listen to it? It’s a song about ghosts. It’s a lot older than I am. And the singer here, Burl Ives, has been dead since April of 1995. Hearing it today, at random, proves that Burl Ives is a ghost I believe in.

He came back to haunt me today as I am recovering from pink-eye, reminding me of my childhood and youth when he was the snowman in Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer on TV around Christmas time.

He is also haunting me because 1995, the year he died, was the year I got married. I was married to my wife in Dallas in January. In March, we found out that we were going to have our firstborn child before the year was over. And we also found out that my grandfather was dying.

I was not able to make it from Texas to Iowa to see Grandpa Aldrich before he passed away. But he was told while he was in the hospital that we were expecting at about the same time that he got to hold my cousin’s newborn second son. Grandpa loved the music of Burl Ives. In many ways he was like Burl Ives. He even vaguely looked like Burl Ives. And we did get to attend his funeral. (My Grandpa, I mean.) And shortly after that, Burl Ives died and I saw the announcement on the news. This is one sort of ghost I believe in. He came to commune with me as I lay on my sickbed thinking about death. And on a day after finding out that my son, now in the Marines, is about to be discharged after five years and will be home next week. He is ghost of memory. A vibrant and talented spirit of the past who lives on through his work. And he brings with him the ghost of my Grandpa Aldrich, They are both no longer living, but lingering still in the echoes of memory, and still affecting life.

Dean Martin and Perry Como are also ghosts of memory.

Then, of course, there’s the whole matter of the ghost dog. Yes, I continue to see flashes and images and shadows of a brown dog in our house, larger and browner than our own dog, that disappear as soon as you look directly at them. My oldest son has said that he has seen the very same thing, so it is not merely brain damage or impending insanity on my part, unless it is something that also runs in the family. And it has been suggested to me by an elderly neighbor that two families ago, a brown family dog lived in this house and may be buried in the yard.

I believe it is possible that life and love in a family leaves its imprint in many ways on a house, a home, an inhabited place.

I know it can easily be put down to misinterpretations of things seen in peripheral vision, or even mental misinterpretations responding to subtle suggestions. I doubt that there is actually a protoplasmic or energy form that continues after death. But if there is something there, it is benevolent rather than malevolent. Ghosts, if they exist, are a good thing, not a bad one. It doesn’t scare me to live in a place that has a soul capable of absorbing and incorporating a faithful family dog.

Basically, I am insisting that the existence of ghosts is irrelevant. I do not require the artificial reassurance of belief in a life after death to make me unafraid of facing death. I am a part of everything that exists, and I will continue to be a part of it even after my body is dissolved and my consciousness is silenced. Even if life on Earth is extinguished, the fact of my existence is not erased or invalidated. The poet says, “You are a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.” -from Disiderata by Anonymous

So, I am ill and thinking about death, for it is not very far away now. And I do not fear it. As I do not fear ghosts. For I don’t believe in them… except for the ones I do.

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Filed under commentary, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube

Uber Downers

The picture above is not a recent session of Uber driving. The truth is, I haven’t earned a single fare since the accident in August. Don’t get me wrong. I am still bankrupt and desperately in need of extra money, but I have had a long road of recovery and a serious loss of confidence to overcome.

And the mean streets of Dallas and the DFW Metroplex are easily as hairy to navigate as the scene above (Which is an artist’s recreation of events on Keller Springs Road while construction was still going on due to mini-mudslides.) It takes a good deal of confidence just to make your way along in a car and at the same time stay alive with a functional automobile beneath you. (Notice the little-boy passenger who was actually rescued by aliens rather than eaten by an alligator.)

And yet, you can’t avoid city driving. I have to do it every day even if I am not making any money from Uber. And there’s the rub. I was forced to retire early from teaching because my 45-stop-light-one-way commute was wearing me out. I experienced a black-out while driving to work one morning and narrowly avoided crashing into a light pole. I am not forbidden by doctors from driving, but diabetes and age are making long drives perilous. Signs were pointing to the end of enough energy to handle a classroom too. So, I retired on a pension and started Uber-ing for extra dollars. Any time I am planning to drive and feel the least bit light-headed, I have to change the plan and cancel the drive. I can still drive for Uber since I can drive whenever I’m actually well enough. And Uber is desperate as there is more work than there are available drivers much of the time.

Another rub is the fact that things have changed while I was forced into a break from Uber driving. Uber has gotten greedy. They have reduced fares in order to take business away from Lyft. But they didn’t take that reduction out of their profits. No, it had to come out of drivers’ pay. So, now if I do work up the nerve and energy to drive, I have to work harder just to make less than I did before. And we are independent contractors, not employees. We have to pay all our own expenses and we get royally screwed over at tax time since they don’t withhold any income tax.

I tried to do my first-in-a-long-while drive yesterday. I sat in my car, ready to go, for fifteen minutes before giving up due to “Still no requests.” And today I passed out after breakfast. So, maybe tomorrow, although possibly not then too. I really don’t know when I will see a giant armadillo driving a Cadillac again as I am on the road for Uber. I believe I must. But not today, and maybe not tomorrow.

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney

Hope Comes From Science

Of late I have been rather obsessed with the coming darkness. Death. Ragnarok. Mass extinction of all life on Earth. My own situation as a pessimist quickly approaching the end of my own personal life has probably colored my obsession to a very large degree. And I should point out, my own prognosis is not going to change for the better. I do not have the financial power to prevent the problems I already have using modern effective healthcare. I am personally doomed. But even though the whole world seems easily as doomed by climate change, that doesn’t mean everyone shares my sad fate. There are potential solutions to the problem that only require the people who do have the financial power to fix it to decide that life on Earth has more value than their personal wealth and privilege. (Uh-oh… there’s a dependence on goodness where it seems like none actually exists.)

I often turn to science and books by very smart people to give me ideas that comfort me and give me hope. I recently did some binging on YouTube’s Answers With Joe. He does an excellent job of providing answers to things that worry me underpinned with scientific facts.

Thomas Malthus (from Wikipedia)

I have been worried about the environment from the times in high school science class when we learned about Paul Ehrlich and his book The Population Bomb.

Then we were learning about how the overpopulation of the Earth and its attendant need to produce food for all those people threatened massive famine, resource scarcity, and eventual extinction for humans. It was pointed out that, at the time in the 1970s, we were using chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the fields in Iowa to increase yields that would not only pollute the water and air in Iowa, but would eventually make its way through the watershed system into the oceans where it would overstimulate the algae and create an ocean environment throughout the world devoid of oxygen, fish, and all other lifeforms. I could see the threat and the validity of the science that Ehrlich had done.

Paul Ehrlich

I learned, over time, that population stresses do not necessarily cause extinction events in a matter of decades. The 1980s came and went and we were not extinct, despite eight years of Ronny Ray-gun, the jelly-bean president, and massive success in increasing food production. As Joe does an excellent job of explaining in the video above which you didn’t watch, population problems proved at least partially self-correcting. Families generally slowed their growth rate as health and wealth improved and made them more productive, more intelligent, and better able to support the heavy layer of living people that now covered the Earth.

Recently I became obsessively and pessimistically concerned with the dire predictions of environmental scientist Guy McPherson. I do recognize that his work reflects the extremist point of view among climate scientists, but ;there are a number of facts that he presents that are irrefutable in the same way as the arguments of… Paul Ehrlich.

In the second video above that you also didn’t watch, Joe explains how the problem of greenhouse gasses can be undone by renewable energy, carbon capture and air-scrubbers, and the search for viable products made from CO2, helping to reverse greenhouse gasses. He also explains how chemical cooling of the atmosphere and actual planetary weather control are possible. Technology already exists to solve the climate problem. The only drawback is that somebody has to pay for it. And the people in control of that kind of financial power are all entitled low-down greedy bastards that would rather build massive survival bunkers in the Ozarks than pay for the rest of us to survive. So, there is hope, which comes not with a grain of salt, but with a giant’s saltshaker filled with rock salt. Still, it isn’t time for all of you to give up. Just me. I am the one most completely doomed.

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, farming, feeling sorry for myself, humor, insight, Liberal ideas, pessimism, sharing from YouTube, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Plumbing the Darkness

There is a dark future hanging over us all. No, I am not simply trying to bring you down with the idea that we all will face death sooner or later. I am going to bring you down with an all-encompassing dread. Because, of course, that’s what humorists do. We try to introduce uncomfortable truths into your lives with a suddenly-revealed truth that takes you by surprise and leaves you with nothing you can do about it but laugh… laugh insanely.

Here’s a bummer. The government of the United States is dissolving into chaos because corrupt people have taken over all the political power due to the fact that they are legally allowed to spend whatever amount of money they want to change the laws and the people who make them.

And this did not begin with President Pumpkinhead. It has been a while since a Mr. Smith could go to Washington and actually make a dent in the armored juggernaut of evil. Why do you think nobody in the President’s party is working to remove him in spite of the clear evidence of corruption in how he incompetently goes about not doing the job he was elected to do?

I often turn to Answers with Joe on YouTube to make myself feel infinitely worse about these things. This video does a good job of explaining how stupid people like me are doing it wrong, not learning to field a meteor shower of informational fly balls that burn holes through your figurative baseball glove and the hand inside it if you actually catch one. And because we don’t know how to fact-check what we’re seeing inside our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram bubbles that are built out of malevolent algorithm-directed soap, we have all failed to learn how to learn and protect ourselves from infectiously poopy facts. We have all become stupid people and are the ones Goofy Dave makes fun of in the cartoon above. And if you think that makes you feel bad, remember that I was once a teacher. What you haven’t learned is, at least in part,, my fault.

And it gets worse. Suppose for a moment the Mayan calendar wasn’t wrong about the world ending in 2012, but merely has a typo in it. Maybe it was supposed to say 2021. Ice in the Arctic will soon be gone from the global warming that stupid people don’t believe is established science. All of the carbon locked in the bottom of the Arctic sea and in the permafrost of the Northern Hemisphere will soon be free to enter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and will be capable of turning our planet into Venus with thousand degree temperature days on the surface of the earth. I hate to say this, but my air-conditioner can’t handle that. Neither can yours.

But I am not like George Carlin, using humor to make you feel so low you have to look up to see the soles of your shoes and then leaving it there after the last black-humor joke-bomb has burned away your sole… er, soul. There is still hope. A massively important breakthrough in technology, or, more likely sociology, will have to be made and implemented really fast. And it will require some magnificently genius-level smart folks to do some magnificently genius-level problem-solving. But there are still very smart people on this planet. And they can’t all be corrupt, can they? And I really can’t imagine they have anything more important to do right now than save all life on the planet. But we can do our part too, you and I. We need to notice all this darkness around us, and light some danged candles!

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Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

It is, of course, one of the most powerful, masterful, and best-known pieces of music ever written.

Mozart completed the “little serenade” in Vienna in 1787, but it wasn’t published until 1827, long after Mozart’s untimely death.

The Serenade is incorrectly translated into English as “A Little Night Music”. But this is and always has been the way I prefer to think of it. A creation of Mozart written shortly before he hopped aboard the ferryman’s boat and rode off into the eternal night. It is the artifact that proves the art of the master who even has the word “art” as a part of his name. A little music to play on after the master is gone to prove his universal connection to the great silent symphony that is everything in the universe singing silently together.

It is basically what I myself am laboring now to do. I have been dancing along the edge of the abyss of poverty, suffering, and death since I left my teaching job in 2014. I will soon be taking my own trip into night aboard the ferryman’s dreaded boat. And I feel the need to put my own art out there in novel and cartoon form before that happens.

I am not saying that I am a master on the level of a Mozart. My name is not Mickart. But I do have a “key’ in the name Mickey. And it will hopefully unlock something worthwhile for my family and all those I loved and leave behind me. And hopefully, it will provide a little night music to help soothe the next in line behind me at the ferryman’s dock.

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Filed under artwork, cartoons, classical music, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, Hidden Kingdom, magic, metaphor, music, Paffooney

Cartoonity

“My name is Michael Beyer, and I am an amateur cartoonist.”

“Hi, Michael!” says the entire group of CA group-therapy participants.

(CA stands for Cartoonists Anonymous.)

Doofy Fuddbugg

“I have to admit, I am guilty of giving in to the urge to draw cartoons. I know how it can fill lives with slapstick pain and derisive laughter, and I give in to the urge anyway.”

“So, what did you draw that you have to be ashamed of now?” asked one mad-eyed cartoonist with a pencil lodged behind each of his large ears.

“I made a very unfortunate video to post on YouTube that was supposed to be How-to-draw Cartooning. But everything went wrong. You couldn’t see my drawings in the video. It was not adequately lit. I look like a doofus (which probably can’t be cured) in the video. And instead of thinking twice or editing it, I posted it anyway.”

“Wow!” said a rather ugly cartoonist lady, “that is really bad. You have a seriously bad case of cartoonity.”

“Cartoonity?” I responded stupidly.

“The condition of needing love for your cartoons so bad that you will risk anything to make people look at them and like them,” said the wise group therapist (who looked an awful lot like Chuck Jones, though I am fairly sure Chuck Jones is now dead).

“Yes, I suppose that’s about the size of the problem,” I said. “I have been posting pages from my graphic novel, Hidden Kingdom, and I really haven’t seen more than one comment about it. Do people actually read cartoons and comics nowadays? Or is it just me that gets ignored?”

“You have to focus on how much you love drawing and doing it just for that reason, and nothing beyond that,” said the wise therapist. “Cartooning should be done for its own sake, and nothing more than that. Craving attention and approval for it can get seriously infected and become a bad case of cartoonititis. How do you think I dealt with it when I was still alive?”

At that point, my eyes popped out of my head in disbelief and my lower jaw fell all the way to the floor. Could he really be…?

And so I must end today’s blog post since it is hard to keep typing when your eyeballs are rolling around on the floor.

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Goofing Along at High Speed

Kong captures a cheerleader to eat and falls in love instead.

There is so much I need to get done. I need to finish mending my yard’s retaining wall before the city decides they can no longer put up with my old-man, do-it-yourself stubbornness.

I need to do my taxes. My wife insists we do them separately now because Trump’s new tax policy costs retired people so much more than previous years that she can no longer put up with my crippling tax burden. I need to know how much Uber-slavery I will have to do to make the IRS less miserly.

Action-Figure Gandalf is upset with wimpy-wizard Mickey.

My status as a wizard is called into question. A wizard should be able to solve problems and overcome anything.

A dragon is ravaging the suburbs? No problem. I can imprison it in a fire-proof giant soap bubble. Aliens invading the DFW metroplex? No problem. I just show them my psoriasis sores and they will worry about getting infected from eating Earth people so they will run back to Zeta Reticuli as fast as their spaceships can fold space.

The Cowardly Lion and Student Witch Hermoine steal the last of my pretzels.

The problem is, it is raining. My old diabetic and arthritic bones are aching from the cold Texas rain. I can’t Uber-drive today. I can’t work on the wall, or let my son work on it either (wet bricks are too easy to drop). I can’t even eat pretzels and write blog posts. My pretzel jar is mysteriously empty. So, you can see, I have no choice but to stay in the nice warm bedroom and play with my dolls… er, action figures. They like posing for photographs and are really good at holding still while I snap the pictures.

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Filed under action figures, doll collecting, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, illness, photo paffoonies, playing with toys