A good night for a fight

I've been thinking about fighting a lot lately. How fighting is such a meaningful activity, and how I'm really sorry I have been mostly deprived of the experience of feeling my fists pummel a kids face, or having the wind forced from my lungs by the knee of an opponent. Obviously, there is something really really great about fighting. I'm just not entirely sure what it is.

I think I have been sort of a coward for a lot of my life. I've never been a big fan of confrontation, which unfortunately happens to be an integral part of the fighting experience. I just don't get riled to the point where I think the only answer is to deal pains and injuries and bruises with my fists. I am typically okay with the idea of dealing out verbal mockery, and shaming a person into submission, rather than hitting.

I think, over the last several years, I have been under the influence of the thought that "I'm an adult, and it sure is embarrassing when adults fight." But secretly, whenever I am with a friend who I know beyond a doubt could protect me from just about anyone, I always secretly want someone to pick a fight with us. Then I could participate, but not be counted upon to deal the major damage. But it never happens.
In fact, I have only been in four fights in my entire life, three of which occurred in the second grade. There was this kid named Chad. He had some older friends who were coaxing him into battling me. He then attempted to punch me in the face. I ducked, quick as a quail, and followed with a few feeble pops to his cheeks/forehead. At which point, he crumpled to the earth and yelled that he had had enough. This happened thrice, and, feeling rather full of myself, I told my mother that I was sick of beating him up. We had a nice pow wow with my teacher, and all anger issues were resolved. Really, I should have continued kicking his ass every day for as long as possible, as the next time I would fight, I would take a rather stellar beating.

As soon as Wesley’s fist met my upper cheek/eye, and the back of my head consequentially slammed into the locker, I knew that not running away had been a poor life decision. Again, this fight had been utterly pointless, and caused by older guys putting him up to it. For like, three weeks he had been asking me when we were going to fight. And, for three weeks, I had managed to avoid the conflict. I had begun to carry around a small Old Timer knife, under the delusion that I would just pull it out and threaten to cut his head off if he managed to get me cornered. For some reason, things just never quite play out as you expect. Especially involving knives and threatening to cut someone’s head off.

“So, we gonna fight today Fish?” I was getting sick of that question. “Hold on. Let me put my bag in my locker.” At least he was a gentleman about it. As I slowly entered in the combination, I realized in horror that I had forgotten my blade. So much for threatening to decapitate him. I threw my bag in the locker, and turned around. About twenty people had gathered. Heart in my throat, I sort of squared up and put my fists about chest level, as the “Kick his ass Wesley!” chants began. And then my neck was snapping back, and I was wondering whether I could get away with punching him in the dick. After two or three more well placed blows to my facial region, I sort of flailed my arms at his face in a desperate attempt to inflict come sort of damage. I think I slapped him in the ear. He then proceeded to pummel me twice more, and then a teacher walked around the corner. At that point, everyone dispersed, and I reopened my locker. I did a pretty good job of holding it together until I entered the locker room and cried like a baby bitch. It was my pride more than anything that had been wounded.

So since that time, I have been very hesitant to re-enter the world of fighting. I just remember thinking, as fist met cheek bone, "Holy shit. So that's what this feels like. This is about 75% worse than I expected."

I thought I came close recently. I was with a friend late in the eve in the Beto's drive-thru line. The line seemed forever long, and I needed to urinate. So I decided to exit the vehicle, run around the corner in an apartment complex parking lot, and piss on a wall. Upon rounding the corner, and undoing my belt and unzipping my pants, I noticed a guy walking out of a parking garage in my direction. There was an alley way about 10 yards away from me, so I jogged over to it.

Upon entering said alley, the guy yells, "Hey! What are you doing!"

I yelled, "Is there a problem?"

He yelled back, "What are you doing back there?"

I thought, is this my chance? Will this turn into a fight? Am I willing to push his buttons over a great place to urinate? Do I really want to fight with a full bladder? What if I get punched in the lower abdomen, and I pee?

I decided to push a tiny button. "What the hell is the problem?"

"I'm a deputy sheriff."

"Oh." Whoops.

So I walked over, and he asked what I was doing back there. I said, "Well, honestly, I was looking for a place to piss. Seemed like a good idea at the time."

He said, "Oh. Well. People are back there some times. I'm really tired, I've been working 72 hours."

I said, "Oh. I just need to pee."

He said, "Well, if you go back around over there, there are some rocks. You can pee back there."

"Thanks deputy."

I'm glad we didn't fight, because the reality is, I'd have probably ended up with a couple of black eyes and pants soaked in urine.


Great ideas

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about things that land people in really unfortunate life situations. Or how those situations and lifestyles are perpetuated.

The more I study, the more I realize that poverty begets poverty. If one's parents are poor and uneducated, it is often likely, without the intervention of a good school and quality teachers and parental pushing in an education oriented direction, that one will also end up poor and uneducated.

Hence, places like the projects exist. Neighborhoods in Harlem and the Bronx, and in every major city churn out generation after generation of impoverished people. White and black. Immigrants and natives. People with similar brain capacity, but dissimilar life opportunities. Contrary to antiquated belief (and still some right-wing-ultra-conservative-belief) stupidity and ignorance aren't hereditary, strictly speaking (obviously I am not talking about hereditary mental illness, or other disabilities caused by biology or genetics, nor did I mean to just call people with mental illness stupid...you get what I mean).

Here are a couple of things that I don't understand.

I get that sometimes kids are going to school, and what they are being taught seems pretty irrelevant. They feel like teachers don't care about them. That school is hard. They are falling and staying behind. The thing I don't quite understand, however, is at what point it ever seems like the best idea to just quit. How the most logical thing becomes dropping out.

"I think its time to really take charge of my life and quit school forever. Education? Get real. Fast food is where it's at. Americans are only getting fatter, and therefore I shall be entering a solid industry, with plenty of room for growth, and spectacular job security."

I mean, there are many schools in the country that have drop out rates of 50% or higher. Which means, there are millions of kids who somehow think that quitting school is a good life decision. Which I find wholly baffling. Perhaps, I simply have forgotten about the severe irrationality of youth.

I forget that I EVER thought it was a good idea to wear studded belts and army cargo pants. I remember convincing myself that science was bullshit, and that math was the PURE science (slightly ironic, since I can't even remember how to do long devision, and simple algorithms totally befuddle my mind). Because how did I know scientists weren't all liars? (the obvious irrationality of that thought does not escape me). Like take a nucleus for example. If scientists had never before seen a nucleus, maybe it wasn't real. I realize now that it was entirely possible that scientists had actually seen a nucleus, but my rural education misinformed me.

I actually still don't know if scientists have ever seen a nucleus. Thanks, college.

I am the American science/math failing statistic.

I understand that kids drop out for lots of reasons: the family needs more income, pregnancy, drug habits, drug selling incentives, and whatever. Anywhere from 8-10% of high school students drop out per year.

The other, I suppose somewhat related thing that I wonder about, is hardcore drug abuse. Such as meth. Or heroin. How exactly does ANYBODY ever even try that stuff? At what point does one think, "You know what? I think I'm just going to go ahead and give meth a shot. I've certainly heard a lot of success stories surrounding meth, I hate my teeth and wish they were rotten, I enjoy open sores, and I'm really ready for the emaciated look."

NOBODY doesn't know that meth way sucks. I mean, I understand kids giving weed, psychedelic drugs, and even coke a shot. But man. Meth. That doesn't ever turn out well for anyone. Designer drugs can be passed off as glamourous. Just look at Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen twins. But do a quick image search of "meth addict," and "coke addict," and you get very different results (please, PLEASE don't take this as me giving coke the thumbs up. Just saying that I slightly understand people doing coke, whereas meth just blows my mind). I realize that most people probably aren't starting with hardcore drugs. Obviously. And that people are seeking the most intense, cheapest high possible. But meth?

I guess every now and then I consider removing the breaks from my mountain bike, and bombing the steepest, fastest hill I can find. Which I guess is sort of like meth. And I suppose thinking about throwing my $3k mt bike off of a cliff, and buying a Walmart Schwinn is about like quitting school.

Never mind. I get it.


Merely animals

I think nature is beautiful.

I am bothered by how we treat some things in nature, specifically animals. I have written before about my thoughts on zoos. I recently went to the aquarium in Sandy with my family. Little fish in big tanks, I don't so much care about. However, a 20 foot long, 10 foot wide, 1.5 feet deep figure 8 shaped pool full of stingrays sure did bother me. Why do they have to be in there? So a bunch of fat Americans can shove their fat hands in the water and poke them? Why does ANYBODY need to be able to poke a stingray? It seems wrong.

In the age of high definition television and the existence of Planet Earth, I think we need not keep creatures in absurdly small cages in order to be able to have a "real life, animal experience." Well, it really isn't a real life, animal experience, because they aren't real wild animals anymore.

That, however, isn't what this is about.

Let me preface this with the idea that I don't, on some levels, have a problem with hunting. For instance, because we, as stewards of planet earth (and in this instance, the west) have basically eradicated wolves and many of the other large predators that historically kept deer populations in check, we now have the responsibility to maintain those populations, in order to avoid mass starvation and disease epidemics.

I also am much more okay with a deer or an elk living out its existence in the mountains, or wherever, and then being hunted and eaten by people, than the so-called living done by animals in factory farms previous to slaughter.

I noticed a friend had changed his facebook profile picture to one of him with a slain elk. Turns out, this photo had been uploaded to an fbook site for a bullet company. Upon clicking though some of the pictures, I was astounded by (and reminded of) the absolutely alien, completely unrelatable world in which rednecks dwell. The completely senseless nature of the killing that is applauded in the world of bad grammar, camouflage hunting brand hats, and humongous trucks.

For whatever reason, on planet redneck, small creatures are of little worth, beyond providing "fun" target practice. Even more disturbing than this photo, were the comments included therewith.
Kyle: "Yeeessssss I love it...lol"
Seriously? Kyle loves this? And is loling? Wtf is the matter with this guy/people? Why is blowing the guts out of a fat prairie dog funny, or thrilling, or awesome to anyone? On a similarly grotesque photo of another prairie dog's bullet induced visceral explosion were some other comments that really built my faith in humanity. Not only did 3 people "like" the photo, but Roger said: "Never knew what hit him ! lol" Again, the loling. One can not help but wonder what sort of chemical brain imbalance is required to induce maniacal laughter at the sight of a marmot that has been eviscerated by a bullet.

Pretty damned funny, don't you think?

Then there was this: Why does anybody have to kill one of these? Have you ever seen a mountain goat in the wild? They are unbelievably beautiful, and it is an amazing thing to watch one climb up the most impossibly steep terrain. From where does the need to destroy beauty stem? This mountain goat, stuffed with whatever the hell taxidermists stuff dead creatures with, set upon a fake mountain in a hunting store, or in some guy's office, or its head on some wall, will never come even close to invoking the feelings of awe that encountering one alive in the wild would.

Nobody is eating a tough old mountain goat, so don't try to use that as an excuse.

Lastly, why does anyone need to kill this? 2 of the comments that went along with the picture were the most bothersome:
Lane: "Well that is one beautiful bull. The trophy of a lifetime! Congratulations."
Ken: "WOW Beautiful animal You better have high ceilings to mount that guy on the wall."
That this bull's head is going to end up on some redneck's wall is nothing short of a tragedy. Ken and Lane were right. It WAS a beautiful creature. The trophy of a lifetime. But for what point? So Mr. Redneck can feel good about the size of his package every time he enters into the room and stares that bull in its dead, glass eyes? So that he can prove to all who see it that he was man enough to shoot it, rip out its guts, and cut off its head?

My father has no animal heads on his wall, nor has he ever slain a "trophy." He is certainly no less a man for it.

Killing for the sake of killing just seems wrong, even if they are merely animals. When one shoots marmots, or rabbits, or other small creatures that one is not going to eat (which is most small creatures) one is killing because one enjoys killing.

When one kills a large, inedible creature because one desires for said creature to adorn one's wall, one is killing because one enjoys killing. One is creating a monument to killing for sport.

That. Is. Wrong.


Showering with strangers

I think that there is either a creature, or a homeless man/woman that lives in the crawlspace of my house.

When turning on the shower, not much is worse than, upon turning the water knobs, getting shot on the crown of the head with an unexpected, cold shot of water. So extremely unpleasant. In order to avoid this reoccurring scenario, I always make certain I turn off the middle "shower activation knob" when I end the bodily cleansing process. I swear I always do it. I hate the cold-water-head-shot that much.

What I think is happening, is the homeless person/creature living in my crawlspace is coming out when I am gone, and using my shower. Which seems a little antithetical to the nature of a homeless person. I'd have expected he/she/it to consume my foods and maybe sell my clothing now and then. But apparently this is a clean homeless being. Although, if this being is dwelling in my crawlspace, technically it isn't homeless.

I really am bothered by this.

One time I think homeless being got careless, and turned off some lights while I was in the bathroom showering. I suppose it might have been in anger or frustration. Maybe there was a homeless ball, or some other such homeless activity that homeless being was attempting to attend, and he/she/it needed a shower, but was unable to since I was showering. It was an eerie feeling, opening the bathroom door to unexpected darkness. I'd be okay with this parasitic relationship if homeless being would simply remember to turn off the middle knob, because it sure as hell isn't me forgetting.

I google image searched "homeless shower creature," to try to get an idea of what I might be dealing with. I thought these were the 2 most likely and relevant results.

If it be the former, I'm probably going to let the issue slide. However, if it be the latter, I'm kicking Zac Efron's ass if I suffer another cold head squirt. I'm pretty sure I could.

I hope my towel isn't being used.


Beware the walmart nip slip

Why does choosing a toothpaste have to be such a complicated, difficult decision? The situation is infinitely worse when you hate most flavors of mint. Which I do. I'd rather get karate chopped in the throat than put a hard candy mint in my mouth. The only mint flavors I like are spearmint (some, in gum form) and wintergreen (all, in every form). Toothpaste does not exist in the former, that I have ever seen, and I have only ever found one paste in the latter. Crest has a whitening expressions wintergreen flavor. The problem--it exists only at Walmart.

I'd rather get karate chopped in the throat by a leper than go to Walmart.

Walmart may be one of the most depressing places on the planet, next to a dog pound, or maybe an orphanage that got half burnt down, so some of the kids have to sleep in the kitchen, or in the game room that has actually zero games. Maybe just like one edition of Candy Land, but most of the cards are missing, and 2 of the corners are chewed off.

Every time I go to Walmart, its like a pall of sadness descends upon me. Like I see the guy with the ultra-massive baggy jeans, a mesh top shirt, black fingernails, various hooks and chains connecting straps to other hooks or chains, super long greasy hair, neck tats and eye makeup, and for one second my heart is warmed. Because who the hell else would hire this guy? But then I get immediately depressed again, because how could they hire this guy?

As I find myself glad that goth guy's mesh shirt nipples are ate least barely covered by his blue vest, I am immediately depressed by all of the basically immobile folks hauling way too much ass around on the motorized carts, packing the baskets with frozen corn dogs and hostess cakes. I'm bummed out by the path they have taken (whether pushed onto, or voluntary) that has brought them to the motorized-cart-transfat-processed-food-Walmart-run. And I want to teach kids to avoid that path like maybe they should avoid goth guy. And then the philosophical, multicultural, supposed-to-be-non-biased teacher guy in me feels bad for thinking that.
But then I recall the time when I saw goth guy in line at the self checkout at Smith's, and heard him on the phone telling his friend how interested he was in serial killers and Charles Manson.

Kids should definitely avoid goth guy.

All of that, just for a tube of toothpaste.

This morning I squeezed the very last vestiges of the wintergreen toothpaste from the tube. Not one more iota of paste was left. I'd been putting off this trip for days. On my way to Walmart, I passed by Super Target, and suddenly remembered that Super Target existed, and also remembered that Super Target is at least 100% less depressing and 175% cleaner than Walmart. The risk, however, was whether or not they would have wintergreen toothpaste. I decided to risk it. No leprous drop kick to the chest for me today.

Once I finally navigated myself to the toothpaste aisle, I tried to make sense of the 400 different options available. One thing was immediately clear--no wintergreen. DAMMIT.

This is where it gets hard. HTF am I supposed to know which will be the least nasty mint? There are about 90 different flavors that end in mint, each flavor as arbitrarily nondescript as the next: smooth mint, radiant mint, long lasting mint, clean mint, fresh clean mint, extreme herbal mint, minty fresh mint, cool mint, refreshing mint. What a bullshit marketing strategy. They probably all taste roughly the same, yet pricing is slightly different all around. Plus, they all claim to serve differing functions. One is tartar control, another is cavity control. Why the hell can't tartar control AND cavity control be combined, along with super whitening power, and enamel booster, to create one hell of a super paste? It's all a gimmick.

The only mints with which I am immediately familiar, are ones that actually have names that refer to something specific--spearmint, and wintergreen. EVERYBODY knows what those taste like, but I'll be damned if most people are aware of the subtle differences between radiant and clean mint.

The only other flavor I could recall being somewhat able to stand was "regular paste." I swear they try to make you feel bad for buying the cheapest tube of toothpaste by calling it "regular paste." In fact, they probably add sugar to it as a punishment for not spending the extra 43 cents to get minty fresh mint. Or maybe sand. Maybe they should call it "sucker paste."


Pro-life vegan athiest

I have a friend who doesn't believe in God. Which doesn't make me sad, because this person isn't sad. Or lost. Or a bad person. I find the more I learn about what other people believe, the less I believe that my faith has any sort of a monopoly on happiness. In fact, I don't believe that in the slightest.

I believe that the ability to find happiness doesn't come from any singular source, that people can choose to be happy and good, whatever their state may be. Whether it is Mormonism, Catholicism, Islam, or cooking Liege waffles that makes you happy, that is your prerogative. It isn't my place to tell you what is valid. There are certainly things that inherently bring unhappiness, but I'm not going into that.

Christians may argue that the source of all happiness is God, or Christ. Which is fine, and doesn't disprove what I am saying in the least bit. If all happiness comes from God, (Christian God) then the happiness that people of different faiths (or no faith) feel ultimately comes from that source--but it is just simply labeled differently. Still, it boils down to a choice.

As I was thinking about this friend's non-belief in a God, some interesting philosophical questions cropped up in my mind concerning atheism. First, concerning abortion. It would seem to me that a person who believed that there was no God, and that there was no life after this one should be strongly opposed to abortion. If, when we die, we really really die, then any sort of practice that prematurely ends the life of another human should be looked upon with the greatest of abhorrence.

In the case of abortion, the possibility of existence would be completely and utterly canceled. I think that with a pre-life/post-life paradigm, it is possible to think that, if an abortion takes place, whatever God in which one believes could potentially "replant," for lack of a better word, the aborted spirit or soul elsewhere. Or, barring that, at least there is an afterlife. Existence isn't destroyed, merely postponed. Or shifted.

I also think that an atheist could conscionably be nothing but a vegan. The same idea applies--if there is only one existence, how could someone in good conscience unnecessarily cause the death of a living thing? Some may argue that an atheist has no conscience because an atheist, lacking a God and potential judgement, has no motivation to be a "good person." Which is totally bogus. It is a sad concept, thinking that people are only good because of a fear of God. People should be good, because being good is the right thing to do. Because being good makes one feel good.

Now, I realize that "being good" is somewhat relative. "Being good" means different things to different people. But I think that most, regardless of [no] faith can agree on a basic concept of goodness.

I realize this post doesn't flow with the regular tone of this blog, but I'd like to know what other people think about this.