A Beautiful Machine

 Driving to the hardware store today, again, and I pulled up next to a Corvette.  A well-kept, fairly vintage, blue beauty.  I usually get jealous for a moment or two when I see a car like that. This time though, not so much.

I looked over at the driver, and he had a finger so far up his nose that I thought he was going to pull a muscle.

He looked over at me, paused for a second, and then dug a little deeper.  When the light turned green, he drove off.   One handed.

There is sometimes a wide, wide gap between money and class.  Certainly it is possible to have both, but it’s also possible to have one, and profoundly, tragically, lack the other.

Man is a beautiful machine that works very badly.
H.L.  Mencken


What If People Had Trailer Hitches?

 I know it seems like kind of a radical idea, but hang on a sec.  How many times have you thought to yourself, ‘Gee if I only had something attached to my rear end so I could pull my stuff around’?
I know! A lot, right?
Well, as Oscar said to Steve Austin,”We have the technology”.  They, the omnipotent, ubiquitous ‘they’, are doing wonderful things with hip replacements these days.  Add a couple of titanium brackets and some shiny metal struts, and we have a whole new concept of personal possession portablility.  The idea is pristine.  Perfect. Practical.  Although possibly pfatiguing.

Why limit replacement surgery to geriatrics that will probably only get two or three decades of functional use from them?  Why not start early?
I wouldn’t think of putting a hitch on a child, that would just be weird.  But how about the benefits to an adolescent, just starting to need to haul his or her accumulated possessions through his or her tawdry, self-involved existence?
The practical application in school alone is mind-boggling.  No more carrying folders, pens, pencils, cheat sheets, trombones, bio-toxic science projects, and, I don’t know, maybe even books.  Just pile all of this detritus into the four-wheeled beauty surgically attached to your pelvis and boogety-boogety down the halls of knowledge.  And later, you can give your friends a ride home, if you have the legs for it.
Later in life, the child rearing years, the benefits will be obvious and well worth the pain of surgery and the inconvenience of a few weeks of recuperation and rehab.  You can easily drag bottles, diapers, wipes, clothes, a stroller, the family Weimaraner, a playpen, grandma, a six-foot inflatable Disney princess of your choice, DVD’s, and the latest edition of “How Not To Spoil Your Child”, behind you.
Still later, in the ’empty nest’ years, you have a perfect place to transport all of your memorabilia; baby’s first tooth, little Jimmy’s bicycle bell, the bill from the orthodontist that caused your first coronary, a flash drive with all emails your kids sent you from college.  It will be blank, of course, but it’s nice to dream.  You may even have enough room for the cash to pay for your daughter’s wedding.  But probably not.
Oh sure, there will be drawbacks; someone with a hitch would certainly look odd in a bathing suit.  Rolling over in bed could be excruciating.  Chairs the world over would have to be re-designed.  Worst of all, U-haul might go out of business.
But we are Americans and we can overcome any obstacle.  As one president with a bad back said, “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow” to have absolutely everything we could ever need, anywhere we could ever possibly want it, at every conceivable moment when it might be even the slightest inconvenience to do without it.

It may seem silly to physically connect ourselves to something as trivial as a wagon, but let’s face it.  It’s time.
It’s a responsibility we have to ourselves.


History of the Hug

back to back

After the bang, leptons hugged quarks

A billion years before sunlight

Divided the dark


Then atoms formed with some resistance

Electrons, being proud

Always kept their distance


Atoms clung together, creating cells

That diversified, specialized

And multiplied like hell


One day a bit of mobile goo

Embraced the earth,

Generating something new


Cradled strands of DNA

How many species

Did you create today?


Animals nestle when the sun is down

In the veldt, the tundra

And the entire world around


Finally upright, man’s outstretched arms

Enfold a woman

And her mysterious charms


Now civilization and cities teaming

Have stripped the hug

Of all its meaning


The hug has now become ubiquitous

Making it seem

Almost iniquitous


The Babe didn’t hug, or Y.A. Tittle

They were athletes

Who showed their spittle


Now for every good play,

however inspired

a manly hug is required


Pitchers and catchers

Quarterbacks and ends

Really, a most unseemly trend


Show some decorum, show some class

Is that really

Too much to ask?


 Save it for daytime TV

Family reunions

Or an old ladies tea


Even in the depths of space

Everything has

Its time and place.

See Ya

I went to a graduation of sorts the other day.  One of my students, a boy with severe cerebral palsy with whom I have been working for 10 or 11 years, finished high school.
CB, or Seebee, has just about no movement in his arm or legs or hands, and is unable to talk.  He can laugh and make sounds, but the precise movement required for anything even close to speech is beyond him.  He uses a high tech communication device run by a switch that he hits with his head.
The device has a grid of either pictures or phrases, and the switch sets off a row/column scan of the grid.  Hit the switch and it scans, hit it again it stops and speaks whatever is programmed into that square on the grid.  And that is where I come in.  Or, more accurately, where I came in and have stayed in.  I have learned to program these somewhat complicated devices, learned how to customize them, learned how to troubleshoot them, learned who to call when people ask me “Is it possible to….?”, learned how to teach other people how to do some of it.
CB has remained patient with me through all the years of my learning with broad smiles, expressive eyes, and a laugh that is perfectly timed, perfectly pitched and perfectly understandable.  The only time I have ever seen him upset is when he is asked to do something that is beyond his ability.  Then he just shuts down, and I can’t blame him.
He has some skills.  He can read a bit, can spell a bit, and do some math, can crank out some sentences when the programming is set up right.  He plays board games with his teachers, and has conversations with some of the staff at his school.
He is, in every sense of the word, a great kid.
I have seen him for at least an hour a week for the past ten years, and now I guess I won’t see him any more.
There is a lot I could add here about the essence of being human or the real meaning of education, but I don’t really see the point.  With a kid like him, you just have to be there.
See ya, bud.  Thanks for everything you’ve taught me.