Category Archives: feeling sorry for myself

The Wheels of the Stupidity Cycle

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Sadly, the Flynn Effect is working now in reverse.  If you didn’t know, for decades the collective IQ of the United States has been increasing.  People have been getting smarter.  Improvements in education, health care, and diet had been making it possible for each succeeding class year to score better by a significant and steady amount every year over the students of the previous year.  Apparently, according to recent data analysis, it kept going up through the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and the 80’s.

And then, in about 1991, people began to be born who were destined to do worse than their predecessors.  People stopped getting smarter.  In fact, they not only leveled out, they began to get dumber.  Bummer.  As a teacher who taught during that time period, I have to pause and wonder… was it my fault?

I want to be clear about my use of illustrations here.  Not all of the faces I used in the collage above are actually stupid people.  I am told Rowan Atkinson (who plays an idiot character named Mr. Bean) is actually a genius with a very high IQ.  And some of the faces are not even from actual people.  They are cartoon characters or animals or Donald Trump.  And none of them actually caused the decline of IQ scores.  (Although I can’t prove the actor Brendan Fraser didn’t cause it by making the movie George of the Jungle.)

Economic factors brought about by the Reagan Revolution probably caused the wheel of life to turn back towards the stupid end of the cycle.  Rich people began sucking up and keeping every dollar possible, making themselves impossibly rich, and leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs.  McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King turned the poorer suburbs into virtual food deserts of no nutritional value in every major urban area.  Schools across the nation have been forced to teach to tests whose main and sometimes only purpose is to prove schools undeserving of their funding so States can shift that funding towards private and for-profit schools.  Starved for proper funding, it is only natural that schools turned from learning institutions into baby-sitting services and uniformity indoctrination centers.  Schools now put out only average and poor students because that was the goal of education reform all along in conservative minds.

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So what, exactly, should we do about it?  Well, the wheel will still turn.  And as all wheels do, the part that is on the bottom will return to the top, and stupid will return to bottom as it obviously has before.

The next century is rife with problems that threaten human life on Earth.  Those problems, like income inequality, climate change through corporate abuse of the environment, the nuclear threat, and Donald Trump, will have to be solved by the next generation’s smart people.  When they do solve all those problems, the world will be better for it… or destroyed.  One of those.

And don’t mistake my meaning.  Stupid people have their own value.  Clowns like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyers are doing a far better job of helping us understand the issues of today than the nightly news is.  There is a great deal of fun to be had in watching the cat-and-mouse game of Robert Mueller and Donald Trump (where Trump is not the mouse so much as the cheese the mouse ate to start all the slapstick brouhaha).

And people who are not particularly smart can have great value in an infinite number of other ways.  Simple people may never be able to do calculus, but they can make you smile and feel loved better than some of the sharpest intellects (who often tend towards cynicism and bitterness).

The wheels of the Stupidity Cycle will continue to turn because that is the very nature of wheels. We will eventually be smart again.  We can’t keep getting dumber forever (though we did elect Trump).  And this is a pessimist telling you this.  So if this is completely wrong and off base, remember, I am also trying to be positive about the future.

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Filed under angry rant, education, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, Paffooney

All Hail… Aw, Heck!

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This is probably the hailstone that cracked the glass on my bedroom window at 1:45 am early this morning.  We got a devastating hailstorm in the middle of the night.  Baseball-sized hail came down on parts of Carrollton, Texas and bashed in car windshields and broke windows and stripped leaves and branches from trees.

It not only woke me up, it made me instantly desperate.  I do not have the $1000 dollars necessary for the insurance deductible that such a disaster would create.  My economic recovery after bankruptcy would be completely derailed.  No car means no extra money from Uber to help pay for doctor bills, the bankruptcy payouts, the income tax bill, and the losses we suffered from the city forcing us to remove our cracked swimming pool last summer.  So I went first to watch the hail come down, fearing it would destroy my life.  I noticed that it was coming down sporadically in the rain and it was only about marble-sized in our neighborhood.  As soon as the ice bombs stopped banging on the roof, I went out into the early morning downpour in only bathrobe, pants, and shoes and checked on my poor little Ford Fiesta.  I found the window-breaker under the bedroom window, but the tree and sporadic-ness of the stones had protected my car.  No cracked windows there.  No dings and divots either.  My car was un-struck.

It would turn out that morning light revealed my wife’s car had been similarly defended by a different tree.

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The flowers in the flower patch out where the pool used to be were just beginning to bloom before the storm.  They not only survived the hail, but benefited from the much-needed rain.

So, as my daughter the Princess pointed out this morning, maybe the Greek goddess of bad luck and chaos has finally concluded that I have had enough bad luck for one lifetime… or maybe year… or month… or, goddess please, at least this week.  I did also successfully ignore a phone scam about a fraud investigation involving my tax return.  I did not contact Agent Paul Avery because my tax return has already been accepted and I have even made the first installment payment of the money I owe the IRS.  What kind of idiot would I have to be to commit a fraud on my taxes that would make me pay over a thousand dollars extra on taxes?  Besides, I had seen previous warnings of this particular scam in the news.  Naughty Mr. Agent Avery has been quite the busy boy.   I also know about at least four car accidents that I didn’t get into yesterday and today.  One lady turned in front of me and almost hit me head on.  Somehow I knew by looking at her that she was going to insanely do what she should not do in moderate traffic and I hit the break in time.  Possibly not all luck is bad luck.  And I am not Joe Btfsplk.  At least, not today.

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The 13th Sense

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I know that you are probably thinking, “What the heck are you thinking, Mickey?  There are really only five senses!”

And I am probably thinking, (ignoring the fact that I should know for certain what thinking is present at least in my own stupid head), “Oh, I think you are probably wrong about that, considering carefully that I should only think this and not say it out loud, because people get mad when you suggest that you are smarter than they are.”

Besides the five senses we all claim of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, there is also that one people often refer to as “the sixth sense”, and by that phrase they don’t necessarily mean that you “see dead people who don’t know they are dead”.  Instead, that sense is kinda like a sense of intuition.  A feeling that you simply know what is about to occur, or you know something about something that you could only really know if you have ESP…   Or if you are Spiderman, it is your “Spider Sense”… wiggly lines radiating from your comic-book head.

And what about the sense of hot and cold?  Or the sense that you can’s breathe the air in the same room with your cigar-smoking Republican uncle, you know, the one with all the toxic opinions you are forced to listen to too often?  And there’s a sense of contentment.  Or the sense of happiness.  A sense of dread.  There are all kinds of senses that your magnificent stupid-old brain constantly responds to that you really haven’t been counting.

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Of course, I am not writing about any of those today.  I am writing about that old “Sense Number Thirteen”, the sense of certainty that every pessimist lives by, the sense that your natural daily bad luck won’t kill you today, but only because it would all be over and prevent more suffering if it did.

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Yes, it is Sense Number Thirteen that makes you prepare yourself for the worst, because you simply have the sense that it is destined to happen.  I dread going to the mailbox.  I know I will hate what I find there.  This week I found a letter from the IRS, who has already accepted my 2017 return and the first installment of my tax payment, suggesting that they may reopen my case in order to determine if I owe them more money.  And I got the hospital bill that I have been dreading because I cannot afford to pay it.

I dread walking the dog also because there are two pickup trucks, one black and one silver, that routinely roar through the 30-mile-an-hour neighborhood doing sixty or seventy.  One of them is going to run over my dog while she has me on the leash, or maybe even run over one of neighbor Frank’s grandchildren.  Anyway, we are preparing by organizing a neighborhood petition and complaining to the police. The Thirteenth Sense really screws with my life. But it forces me to prepare.

The hospital payment department told me that they are going to send paperwork that will help me pay the debt by forgiving part of it, since I am already bankrupt over medical bills.  I was taken pleasantly by surprise by that.  I have so far successful avoided thinking about the IRS.  Those jack-booted shock troops apparently aren’t going to show up at my door until next week.  And the police cruiser has been on our street twice already since I last talked to Frank, and they put out one of those speed limit signs that shows you in bright red lights how much over the speed limit you are going.

So, there’s the saving grace.  A pessimist gets to be happier in the long run than the optimist. By preparing for the worst, the pessimist is ready for the bad thing to happen, and either deals with it as it comes, or is pleasantly surprised at an outcome devoid of extra suffering.  A pessimist is never taken by surprise for the worse.  I’m glad I have a 13th Sense.  It helps me be a HAPPY stupid old pessimist.

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

The Joys of Editing Yourself

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I am now in the final phase of publishing The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.  I am merely waiting for Amazon to object to whatever ridiculously minute formatting error I may still have going.  And I once again had to publish without benefit of a beta reader or an editor of any kind.  You learn things about yourself that you really don’t want to know.

What I have learned;

  • I can’t depend on my wife to be a beta reader and comment on my work.  She tried once and told me, “Your writing is like dog poop.  It is full of weird stuff, smells bad, and is impossible to get off your shoe once you step in it.”  To be honest, I ironed out that metaphor just a bit.  She was actually quibbling about my proofreading style and basically ignored all the content of the story.  That’s the way English teachers are about prose.
  • I can too easily fall into the habit of introducing characters on a fashion model runway.  The first time the character enters the narrative I tend to give a head to toe rundown of how they look, what they are wearing, and how they have done their hair.  I know better than that, but I still do it.
  • I… use… ellipsis… marks… toooo… much…!
  • My creative spellings tend to drive the spellchecker insane.  In this novel I had trouble over the spellings of blogwopping, interbwap, and dillywhacking.  To be fair two of those words are from the language of the Tellerons, a space-faring race of frog people who happen to ineptly invade the earth.  (Oh, and the other is a euphemism  used by young boys for something very private.  Don’t tell anybody about that one.)
  •  Time travel plots can be laboriously difficult to follow through mobius-strip-like  contortions of time, space, and history.
  • Sometimes my jokes are not funny.  Seriously… that can be a problem.
  • And my characters often act on weird impulses and do things for no rhyme or reason… or rhythm either for that matter… see what I mean about ellipsis marks?  Of course, one can always explain that that is exactly how people really are.  I myself never do that.  There is always a rhyme to be snatched from the ether in the very nick of time… randomly.
  • And at the end of the novel, when I am tying up the loose ends of the plot in a Gordian Knot, I have strings left over.  Maybe enough to knit a shirt with.  So I end up picking them up and starting another novel with them.
  • It is basically heck to be a divergent thinker.  You try to make a list of things, and by the time you get to number 9, you have forgotten what the list was about, and you even forgot to number things, so you have to go back to the first one and count.  Now what was I talking about?

Oh, yeah.  I edited the book all by myself.  And now it’s done.  Time to start a new novel and make all the same mistakes over again.

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Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, humor, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, work in progress, writing

Debt and Doubt

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I sincerely tried to get out of debt when I had to retire as a teacher.  I managed to shed $23,000 worth of my $35,000 of debt before being sued by Bank of America.  The lawsuit forced me into bankruptcy.  Five years of debt-reduction belt tightening and poverty has not turned into a new $35,000 worth of debt including lawyer fees.  And on top of that I have to add about $6,000 of hospital debt and $1300 worth of IRS tax payments.   Instead of solving my debt problem, I have only added to it.  Dying in a manner that will leave my family debt free is now out of reach.  And yesterday I got a notice from the IRS suggesting I may still owe them more.

I am led to these conclusions;

  1. Bankers are pirates and villains.  Especially Bank of America bankers.
  2. Lawyers are too expensive, especially when they are the only ones on your side.
  3. I am no different than a farmer’s cow.  Cows get milked for actual milk.  I get milked every single day for multiple dollars, most of it in the form of debt.
  4. The game is rigged against creative and intelligent people.  You cannot make money as a novelist.
  5. To get ahead you have to be stupid and have no morals.  That is why Trump always succeeds.
  6. But if you can ignore poverty and the disadvantages it brings, life is still wonderful and is worth living.  I don’t need an angel named Clarence to help me see that.

If this essay seems like it has not fully addressed this theme, that’s because it hasn’t.  Many more essays on this topic are coming… God willing.

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

One Day More

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I am still collecting sunrises.  Chest pains and numbness on the left side of my neck have me fearing the worst again.  I need rest.  But I am still alive.  And life is still worth living.  And I may not be able to write much today, but I am still living and will do better when I am able.  I am working on publishing The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, re-writing page 240 out of about 330.  I have to last a little longer for that book.  And longer still for the next one.

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Please ignore the spelling mistake.  You can be a genius without being able to spell it correctly.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, illness, Paffooney

Morning With Coyotes

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Coyotes live in the city.  You hardly ever see them, though.  This one was entirely too interested in me walking my dog at around six thirty in the morning.  You can see the hungry look in his eyes.  It made him brave and brassy enough to walk up right behind us on the sidewalk in the park just after the sun had come up.  I got a chance to look him right in the foxy-eyed stare he was giving us.  He had fully planned to snatch Jade, my Cardigan corgi from behind if I hadn’t turned around in time.

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Old Wiley Coyote would’ve successfully snatched her too, if I hadn’t noticed him out of the corner of my eye and turned around on him.  But shouting at him only made him back off, not flee.  He was a big coyote, big enough to give me a really bad day if he wanted to go through with the planned attack.  Who knows?  Maybe he breakfasted on old men before too.

Jade bristled at him and talked really tough, but she was scared witless.  And he was obviously bold and bad enough to be confident that he didn’t need to immediately run away.  He stayed there looking at us with his evil yellow wolf eyes.  He stayed long enough to allow me to take a picture of him.  And he didn’t leave until we chased him just a bit to show him we were not afraid (even though we really were).  (The dog told me after that my face had gone ghost white.)

Being stalked by a hungry coyote early in the morning is sort of a bad omen to begin a day with, especially when so many other things have been going wrong for me.  But, as always, I laugh about it and write about it and make it seem of little consequence by doing so.  Still, I am not a road runner.  And that coyote had murder on his mind.

 

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Filed under family dog, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, photo paffoonies