Monthly Archives: January 2014

Prioritizing insignificance


Hi readers:

Those of you who’ve read through this long series of anecdotes will recognize that my life’s been spent in a forest of insignificance incapable of being recognized as such except by hindsight.   To qualify for the insignificance merit badge each item running for office had to be at least a week in the past.

Lately that’s changed.  I’ve got a 1950s Africa movie scene dust cloud of stampeding herds, pods, prides, coveys, flocks, and occasional individual insignificances coming at me out of the future, stirring up all manner of noise and dirt right here in my normally significant present.  Even when they drift downstream into the past they keep zigzagging around trying to fight their way back uphill to make nuisances of themselves in my today mode.

Fact is I’ve got another reincarnation coming into the picture, as well, and though it’s probably insignificant, I need to tip my hat to it various ways.  Just so it doesn’t get pissed off and decide I need to pick up on past themes earlier reincarnations.  If I’ve got to bow and scrape a bit it’s worth it.

So I’m going to take some time away from this blog.  Spend my time sorting through whatever I can convince myself is more significant than something else over the next period of time.

Those of you who’ve been frequent visitors, I appreciate you.  Those who haven’t, I appreciate you, also.

I’ll send you no more omphaloskepsis unless something different happens.

Old Jules

Pondering the dearth of cumulative human wisdom

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read. 

I’m still muddling along with God Knows, by Joseph Heller, but he’s got me thinking about a lot of things somewhat unrelated to his own theme.  So what’s below inevitably has roots, both in the OT, and in Heller’s recreation of Hebrew history and the Bible through the eyes of King David.

So this is going to be me, Old Jules aka wossname, Jack, mulling this over.  Not King David, not Heller, not even God in the sense you’re most likely to define the concept.

I’ll get into this thing about cumulative human wisdom, but first I’d just like to confide to you how much better I’d feel if God weren’t so sneaky and cagey about his real name in his dealings with those old time Hebrews.  What the hell is that all about?  Who is He afraid they’ll find out he really is?

I'm not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

I’m not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

And if they did know who God really is, how’s He scared they’d think less of Him in the knowing of it?  After all, it ain’t as though God was putting on any airs in his dealings with them.  Never makes any attempt to explain himself, elevate himself in the eyes of his Chosen People. 

Just go back and read the OT.  How he treats Moses, sheeze, Job,  King David, Adam and Eve, even Cain and Abel.  And inconsistent, uneven-handed so consistently as to assure nobody’s going to acquire any wisdom from any of it.

Call me paranoid, but I think there’s more to this side stepping and dodging the true identity with a name stamped into the dogtags than those ancient Hebrews imagined, that anyone since has explained sufficiently to argue He might have been Anyone, but particularly some located in the vicinity of Greece and Rome before too much more time passed.

So you end up with an ancient religion and storybook to accompany it preserved from a language with a vocabulary of 88 words, 17 of which are pseudonyms for the name of God, and not one of those 17 believed by those using them in spoken words to be the actual name of the party of the first part.

But I’ve digressed. 

I was going to muse on why human beings are unable to acquire cumulative wisdom similarly to the way technical knowledge assimilates.  About how it happens all these centuries have sneaked by and the King Davids are still capable of becoming so captured by passion as to compromise, destroy themselves.  About how Adonijahs then until now, rhetorically next in line for their thrones, their power, their wealth, still rape their sister Tamars and [at least] risk destroying themselves in the doing of it.  About how the Joabs all these centuries have coldly murdered in the name of governmental authority anyone standing in the way of their ambitions, always maintaining the moral high ground.

But I’ll have to save all that for another time, I reckons.

Old Jules aka Frank C. Riley

Filler between adventures

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Jeanne’s explained some of the things happening in my life at the moment, how I’m having phone and Internet access issues.  And she and I have both been sufficiently cryptic to cause some to conclude major issues are stalking around my life making nuisances of themselves.

Fact is, nothing here is all that major, nothing uncommon.  What’s going on in my life is an interlude between adventures.  A break in the plotlines to allow some breathing on the part of the author and major characters before the really juicy stuff comes trotting down the pike.  Nothing at all gloomy in this neck of the woods.  Mild anticipation, excitement kept carefully under control best describes the mood.

Hells bells I had a whatchallit, ecco or echo sonogram of my heart the other day, got to watch that poor worn out, frayed piece of meat trying to keep track of what it’s supposed to be doing, got to watch it wiggle, trot across that screen looking and sounding for all the world like the grim reaper.

If that ain’t a one-in-a-lifetime experience I can’t imagine what would be, and I was the one right there lucky enough to get to see it.  I don’t blame you folks for wishing you could be me.

But in between all the pesky details packed into the upper end of a human lifetime I’ve been seeing some pretty decent old movies I’ll be telling you about.  And reading some good books.

In a few days I expect I’ll begin a blog entry telling you about God Knows, by Joseph Heller.   So much better than Catch 22 it’s a wonder anyone even ever heard of Snowden.  If King David had written a hindsight view or review of the Old Testament, God, everything you read and passed over in the Bible without stopping to think about it, think it through and examine the implications, God Knows would have been the result.

But for some reason it took Joseph Heller to come along and actually do it.  A book you should hunt down and read if you can find one.  An important book.

I’d send you mine, but I have it earmarked for my ex-wife.

Old Jules

Bummer if that thing went off (from the drafts)

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Enjoying a day out after the hospital stay last week.

Ever noticed how many people hang around discussion boards of every description watching for things they can tell other people NEVER to do?

NEVER play with matches! NEVER ride a bicycle with no brakes! NEVER point an acetylene torch at your face when you light it! NEVER try to get inside a tree shredder while it’s running!

I think there must be something about typing a command about never that feels validating, self-affirming. Telling people what they’ll either have better sense than to do anyway, or who will pay no attention and will do it anyway.

And the fact is, it could as easily be said in ways people might listen to because it wasn’t so offensive and presumptuously downtalking. How about, “Sure would be a big bummer for a person to get his hair caught in that fanbelt.” Something along those lines.

About the only response I can think of appropriate to the NEVER command is “NEVER say NEVER!”

Old Jules
Hi folks, Jeanne here.  That was from the unpublished drafts files…although it’s still possible that it was published and I just didn’t find it. So if it sounds familiar, let me know and I’ll be more careful pulling things out this way. There are 945 published posts on this blog, so I suppose you could just hit “random” and find something entertaining.

Fact is, Old Jules has an unstable phone line right now and can’t keep a connection long enough for the internet. It’s difficult to talk to him for more than a few minutes, although the breaks in the connection get fairly predictable. There’s a lot of repeating and frustration involved with a five minute conversation. But he did approve my putting up this old draft and an update.

Yes, but how is he, you ask.  Well…he’s not in the hospital. He sounds real good.  He’s got almost zero energy.  Drinking Caisse’s tea. Blood oxygen level normal. Blood pressure fluctuating. Reading a lot, generally staying warm and fed. Trying not to get dehydrated or winded. Although he’s isolated, Gale and his neighbor check on him from time to time and some others of us call him frequently and freak out (me)  if for some reason he doesn’t answer the phone (usually it’s on the charger).
I suspect it was pneumonia that caused things to deteriorate to the point where he went to the hospital. While treating him for that, they found other stuff to alert him about, and he’s tackling those in order of importance as he sees it.
A couple of us are standing by to take care of the cats if he decides to, or needs to, go back in for the rest of the recommended testing. Gale is out of town on a fairly frequent basis, so we are trying to make sure some satisfactory solution is found for them. I would just drive down there and get them, but 800 miles doesn’t allow for him to get them back easily when things settle down, so that’s not the first choice.
So basically, he’s resting a lot and trying to get his energy back, and I’m preoccupied with keeping tabs on him and passing on updates as needed.
When I can keep my head on straight, I’ll see if I can’t pull some posts out of the drafts from time to time, but I think my own blog is on hiatus for now.
Thanks, C.P., for sending the photo from last week.
And thanks again, everyone,  for all your kind thoughts.

Update from Jeanne

Hi everyone,

Old Jules/Jack gave me permission to update everyone briefly about his situation. He got out of the hospital yesterday evening and is back at his cabin. I think he’s feeling well, is in excellent spirits, and we both thank you for your caring remarks. However, he doesn’t have an internet connection at this time and hasn’t been able to read emails or respond to comments.
His phone line there isn’t going to be fixed until Monday, so if there are no other internet complications he should be back online soon after that. I imagine it will take a while before he’s caught up, though.  And he still has more medical  tests that need to be done.
I will go on approving comments as usual, and we appreciate all your positive thoughts.

Best wishes,

New Year Day 2014

Hi again readers:   Turned out I ain’t as tough as I believed myself to be.  I’m in the hospital in Kerrville, TX, sneaked spang in a couple of days ago through the Emergency Room.  They know a lot about what’s been going on inside me now, and all of it is interesting and exciting, though it doesn’t necessarily bode well for my continuing to post on the So Far From Heaven blog a lot longer, everything else being equal.

But I’ve refused most of the things they’d propose to do insofar as keeping me this distance from heaven, plan to get discharged hopefully today, go back out to Gale’s and digest my newfound perspectives.  Make some exciting decisions about what a guy in my position ought to be doing with himself, thinking about, spending his time and energy on.

Probably should have been doing that all along, but it wasn’t rubbing right up against it consciously and autopilot isn’t the best place to observe important, exciting events.

Happy New Year to those of you who believe this is a new year and are willing to be happy during it.

Old Jules

A merry little dumpster diving year-end adventure

Hi readers:

When I left Andrews on Christmas Eve morning a cold fog wrapped the RV and a tasteful bow atop kept it all together for the felines and me until I reached Big Spring.  That’s where the brakes on the RV failed.  Roughly 100 yards before the entryway into the parking lot for a chain store for auto parts.

Great, helpful folks there while I was diagnosing the cause of the problem, feeding brake fluid to the pre-Christmas Universe.  Determining the next best guess to be a failed master cylinder.  And me with almost no tools along.

Ordered the master cylinder inside the store, arranged with them to park in their lot until it arrived the day following Xmas.  They showed me an electrical outlet where I could plug in to keep the heater and lights modern.

Hydrox, Tabby and I watched a store employee carrying boxes past us to the dumpster straining to get them over the side.  One plastic box appeared to be a great possibility for a litter box, so I went over to retrieve it.  I was astonished to observe the dumpster was home to several boxes with taped label, “Manager Disposal”, the contents scattered among the lowbrow cartons and candy wrappers.

The contents:  open end wrenches all sizes, box end wrenches, socket sets, miscellaneous other tools, a couple of which I’d surely need for the master cylinder replacement.  So early Christmas morning I climbed down the chimney of the dumpster and began digging out every tool I could bring myself to save from the landfill.

Finished in time to have myself a nice Christmas dinner of something-or-other, cuddle a cat, watch a vintage movie.

Next morning the master cylinder arrived, I installed it with the dumpster-tools, ran the RV around the parking lot a bit to test the brakes, and headed off to points south.

Easily the weirdest Christmas I’ve ever been blessed with.

Old Jules