Saturday, May 26, 2012

To Eat A Bee Or Not

To Eat A Bee Or Not To Eat A Bee,
That Was the Question

For 17 years, large dark carpenter bees have lived in, and munched on, my porch. They shamelessly make baby bees by buzzing around in clumsy clumps. Son three Malcolm named the bee species “Big Black Eyeballs.”

The Eyeballs and I have long done battle. Thrift-store tennis rackets have diced many, the 25-cent-per-corpse bounty kept the kids trying. Others are congealed in caulk I injected into their holes while wriggling on my back under the porch among the cobwebs, cockroaches, and pointy rocks.

Some offspring always return; many this year. A survivalistic friend harvested a few for breakfast one recent hung-over morning, fried them in butter, and offered me one. Never thought I’d eat a bug unless starving, but in this case it was to be instantly manly. Not bad, nutty with a sweet aftertaste. He decided that if we mass market them as a snack, they will sell better as “Big Black Guy Balls.” Exotic, erotic, and low sodium. Surely that crunchilicious exoskeleton counts as fiber, too.


Ground level franchising opportunity, low start-up.
Let us pray that someday this is the actual state of the U.S. DOD (“Department Of Defense”). Funny, back when it was for defense they called it the War Department.

Up The Creek Without A Can Opener

Actually Malcolm and I were at a lake, and luckily had my half-assed toolbox.

Camp fires were outlawed everywhere except at the official campgrounds, so we broke with tradition and paid. The outrageous $16/night gets you a concrete picnic table and a steel fire ring, big whoop. Too windy for a fire anyway, so 16 bills down the out-house.

After we told the deaf old camp host we were not fishermen, he proceeded to tell us all the different ways folks’d been catchin’ ‘em. Power bait on jigs, night crawlers on the bottom, snack jiggers on master bait, bobbers, all that fishin’ gibberish ‘n’ jibber-jabber. We politely pretended to care.

Since we don’t hunt, fish, race motorized toys, or drink, we walked, read, thought, napped, and talked. Also, for a while we watched this epic battle, Skele-Tree versus Vapo-Cloud.

The sun lowered, we got hungry and discovered the usual can opener problem. Faced with bean-less “beanie-weenie” I simply dug the hammer and scraper-thingy out of my tool box. The adage to “use the right tool for the job” is pretty flexible for cheap folks.

You can do this with hammer and screwdriver, or rock and screwdriver. Rock and knife works but not every knife can take a rock clobbering. Rock on rock sounds bad-ass but beware of teeth-breaking fragments in yr processed food. Never use the rotting granite around Prescott for this, but the volcanics here at Ashurst Lake near Flagstaff are fine.

My Boy Scout hijinks included putting canned goods in the camp fire, which would then explode, spraying painfully hot food on bystanders and their tents. It’s possible to open a can this way if you aim carefully and don’t mind eating most of your shot-gunned dinner off the side of a tent, then hunting and gathering the rest.

Why dirty a knife now?

Gore-May camp dinner. Recipe: beans, wieners; heat, eat.

 Post-dinner meander:

Mid May so alone in the place. Read until dark, then went to sleep. No sound but wind swishing trees, thankfully dissipating bean digestion aftermath to the stars.

“The price people pay for living in the production called American society is that they are condemned to continually watch television and read newspapers [or computers!] to know “what’s happening,” and thus they have no time to play with their own children or get to know the neighbors or birds or plants or seasons. What a dreadful cost!”
Gary Snyder, from The Real Work. New Directions 1980. p.168

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jesus Mojado

On-line Arizona news about immigration is usually followed by 47 pages of childish, insulting, and unashamedly racist comments. One thing is certain: these brave Interzone experts don’t know much about the people they have decided to hate, why they come here, or simple politeness.

Forty years ago my grade school classmates with Spanish surnames, some with slightly darker skin, were not considered a separate category of human. We got along without a thought, assisted by team sports and plenty to eat.

Jesus was my first companero mojado, wetback work-buddy. We took turns crawling ratty attics, blowing insulation for low-income supplicants in places like St. Johns. Short, stocky, always in full cowboy uniform, and bowlegged, he never drank anything stronger than Pepsi. Worked hard, missed his wife and babies terribly, and sent them every cent he made.

The first actual cowboy I’d ever met, he mostly rode herd and fence for a Luna, New Mexico rancher who sometimes “loaned” him to folks. Interaction was friendly and respectful, both ways. Before the heavy snows, Jesus headed home for the winter. Came back in spring.

Thinking it polite, I used the clumsy term “illegal immigrant” for years, until the vatos I was pretending to supervise at a South Phoenix grocery mocked me. “They’re called wetbacks, dumb-ass.”
Historically this “border” area is not a war zone.

Humans wander, following food, work, and trade, always. It was not a federal crime here until 1952. For the last few decades, corrupt governments and banks, on both sides, have systematically wreaked economic havoc on Mexico. The years 1982-1988 were worse for Mexico than 1929-1932 in the States. Periodic peso devaluations—more bank mumbo-jumbo—drove wave after wave of desperadoes north. The Owners of the world know hungry people work cheap. Their institutions are working their magic in our fair States as you read.

As these human waves washed over, I worked under, over, and next to Mexicans, like almost everyone in Arizona. At work, paper-shuffling and language are minor details. Let the Owners figure that out, we got stuff to do. Most Mexicans can outwork the gavachos (foreigners, they sometimes call us,) in my experience. My contractor brother rants ‘cause they drive project prices down, then rants  ‘cause he can’t occasionally hire a few anymore.

As long as someone will hire them, they will come. The wretched desperado and the hiring Owner are equally guilty. The desperado is arrested and deported. The Owner hires another. Repeat indefinitely. So who really has the ability to stop the cycle? How often do you see an anti-illegal-immigration law-enforcement round-up of rich business Owners?

The only solution workers have is international labor unions, which are dead in Arizona, a “right-to-screw-the-help” state, in an anti-union country, in a world run by corporations who fear unions more than tax audits. Why? Good question, but there is to be no discussion; every union is corrupt forever in their script.

So guess what? The ancient migrations will continue. Build all the fences you want (how dumb is that!?), waste guns and vehicles and hi-tech doo-dads, trample basic human rights, nothing will change. Our border is an imaginary line, someday to vanish in the wind. Guess what else? I don’t care. The people who do are mostly from points east, recent Arizona immigrants themselves.

One big gripe is the health care we sometimes provide to strangers. But who is ripping us off: the ignorant young mama whose baby needs Tylenol and maybe some antibiotics? Or the system that charges taxpayers $1000 for a ten minute exam and 38 cents worth of medicine?

Love requires no proof of citizenship. “Mexican-Americans” are part of my family and my life. You tortured souls, quaking in self-righteous fury at improper paperwork: you do not speak for me. Nor the majority of gavachos I have known.

Throw open the border, both directions. Give whoever wants one an identification card good in both countries. Throw bad people in jail, leave the rest alone. Business on both sides will boom.

And if you don’t like Mexicans, don’t live in Arizona. Mexico is next door. It’s not complicated. Our government stole this place in a shameless military land grab; if you won’t apologize, at least remember your kindergarten lesson and play nice.


government tool
to harass

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Celebrate Mediocrity

Cheap Bulletin: Dept. of Sciency Things:


Self-Esteem Doesn't Affect How You Turn Out

"It was a bombshell for those who put so much faith in self-esteem and its powers to improve our society: Roy Baumeister of Florida State University, a pioneering researcher and believer in the value of self-esteem starting in the '70s, was forced to do an about-face on his own research in the '80s. Eventually, he conducted a meta-analysis on the relationship between self-esteem and external markers of success in school, at work, and in relationships. In 2003, Baumeister and his colleagues reported that they found no evidence that high self-esteem made people better students, more successful at work, or healthier.
"After all these years," Baumeister says on his university's website, "my recommendation is this: Forget about self-esteem and concentrate more on self-control and self-discipline. Recent work suggests this would be good for the individual and good for society and might even be able to fill some of those promises that self-esteem once made but could not keep."
from “The Boom and Bust Ego" by Harriet Brown, Psychology Today Jan. 2012, p. 70"

So after 30 years of analysis, some wise ones discovered they were wrong. Self-motivation and self-discipline, imagine that. At least they admitted it. Yay science!

If you are already wonderful, why bother doing anything? The only way this lazy mortal gets out of bed is because I yell at myself and make me. Life is hard work but so what, boohoo, get off yr dead arse!

Science may study 50 more years and decide something else. But my own study says people who get up and do stuff fare better than hut potatoes.

Disillusioned early on their trudge through the “No Child Gets Ahead” public school system, my sons named the fake-self-esteem concept “Celebrate Mediocrity.” D students got the same photocopied robo-signed “Achievement Awards” as A students. Every player on every team got a trophy at the greasy end-of-soccer-season pizza party. We must have been the first to refuse to buy the next-to-last-place plastic prize, other parents reacted like we’d drop-kicked the kid’s balls. 

An entire mediocre generation is now whining their way through life, finding out it isn’t fair and they’re not special. The smart ones, the active, the disciplined, the creative, may adapt. The lazy and/or stupid will struggle and hate their lives. Boo Diddly Hoo.

Better to have been told from the start: No one is special, life is a struggle for sanity and survival, full of obstacles requiring hard work. Anything beyond food and shelter is cake icing.

If you are still waiting for your prize, paralyzed by inertia, depression, or abject boredom: tough crap. When we were Cave Homies, you helped get food or you didn’t eat. Go do something useful and shut up. Volunteer somewhere. Clean house. Help your old fart neighbor (or help your old neighbor fart if that’s what she needs.) If you are lazy, do something anyhow. If a bit stupid, accept it, listen, play nice, and do something. Don’t beat yourself to death, but get up, stand up, maybe for our rights if you got nothing else going on.

Meanwhile, what to do with the curricula already in stupefying effect? Seriously, shouldn’t we be at school board meetings pointing out the research, trying to reverse the damage? This may take decades. Graduating classes full of undereducated underachievers, dumb, proud of it, and told they are wonderful. Another gut shot to the staggering middle class, in the land of the less-and-less free and home of the misled brave.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sunless Slavery 4/20/12

To pluck an ear hair: grasp firmly between thumbnail and index finger, or any fingernail and thumb, whichever gets you in deeper, and jerk out. Same process for nose hair; some say this can kill you, but here I am. The closer to the grave you dance, the wilder the wiry hairs grow. Ain’t gettin’ no ‘lectric trimmer. Just gonna keep on pluckin’.

Cheap Dude in the middle of multiple 12 hour night shifts, half crazy and bone tired. No matter how hard you work, tomorrow always comes, with more work. Supposed to be grateful. Yeah, you need the money, but how does that make the work suck any less?


Seldom discussed reason to have a family: on days you would rather eat a bullet than go to work, you skip the tortured inner dialogue, go make coffee and pack yr lunch. Somebody’s got to make the rent for those clowns.

Seldom discussed downside: good parenting is endless thankless work. No matter how horrible your work day, there is a quitting time. At home something’s always broken, dirty, stinky, needs mended, washed, disinfected. Kids eat, make messes, and demand attention. No one says thank you or good job, it’s what you’re supposed to do. It feels like perpetual failure.


So take heed young wannabe parents. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops. Very little, in fact, thinking back.


Whatever happened to Hoppity Hooper? Cheap Worker could not Goggle the cartoon frog, interzone access had been terminated after a “virus" got in the four shift workers’ shared computer. Must have been a flesh-eating virus, the computer works fine.

(Of course I could look up Hoppity Hooper later, but we’re pretending I wrote this fractured epistle at work. Note to any co-worker reading at work: I did not actually write this at work. Maybe a little. Get to work yourself!)

Repetitive jobs can be done half asleep, leaving the mind free to wander. My brain is like an orchestra which I barely conduct. The free form jazz and modern classical that erupts is not necessarily pleasant, but accurately whack.

Scrubbing toilets for The Man, or for The Kids: sucks either way.

Each time he turned off his tiny magical ‘mp3’ music storage/retrieval system, it blinked a tiny stupid message: “See You Later.” One day he’d had enough: “No! You won’t! You don’t have any eyes!” But the message still blinked. No ears either.

A cement mine/manufacturing plant is a burnt dirt factory. You dig certain dirt, haul it, crush it, grind it, cook it, grind it again, then sell it. Dust gets in every body hole, most shifts. Coats every vehicle and structure, pinkish near the mouth of the steel beast, grey near its fiery anus. The humans are tiny, crawling among the machinery, attending to its needs with their tools. Continuous electro-mechanical roar, jet engine loud. Never heaven except after quitting time, and maybe on pay day.

Payday: Not What It Used To Be.


Is it possible to get “swamp ass” so bad that you have to go on disability? On summer days it seems possible. Grandpa used to call it “galded” butt, probably meaning “galled,” since galded is not officially a word. His cure was powdered corn starch, which works, fellow sufferers. He also said, if you got dog crap on your shoe, that you’d “stepped on a Dutchman’s razor.” And now for something somewhat similar:

“He Walked Out With His Life”

   It took me three days to walk out of the Grand Canyon with a broken bone.
   I had told my sons to walk ahead; I had to stop and wipe the sweat out of my crack, to prevent a galded butt episode. No need for young sons to have that mental image of father, they heartily agreed.
   Up a little side canyon I turned to sit on a ledge, slipped, almost fell, and tweaked my pinky finger. After unspeakable backpacking butt-drying ritual, the last three days of the hike went fine. I didn’t find out pinky was broken until much later. You can see why they didn’t make a movie about it.


Ah for the good old days, when a person was judged by the content of their character, not the content of their bladder. When pot-smoking bad workers were fired for being bad workers, and pot-smoking good workers were tolerated. If people do the work, who cares what they’re smoking?

People don’t always get lazy and stupid from smoking pot, it’s a lazy stupid excuse from lazy stupids. A regular pot smoker smokes for the same reasons anyone smokes anything. To relax, take five, get through the day, recharge, lighten up, cheer up, to elevate. To cough a little while.

There is also something inherently bad-ass about sucking hot gas from a burning fire stick. Even if it’s just dried lawn clippings in a paper towel, like Cheap Kid’s first effort. Fire! By your lips! Daredevil!


“I and I”: God lives in all of us, and so, you and me are one.

Playing on the mp3:
“You are the only light there is
For yourself, my friend."
Gogol Bordello

Religious and social constructs try to make us in their image when we are young. Throwing these off to construct your own self can be frightening, but is the only real freedom. You get to decide who you are and what you are about, at any age, right now. Fear Not!

Or as a renegade Jew once said: “…The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21 KJV) You don’t hear that one from the pulpit much. Once folks understood, the pastor’d be out of a job.

Lies are lies, no matter how well-dressed and rehearsed the speaker. Truth is truth, even from the butt crack of a buffoon. This from a coffee-drunk hick working too many night shifts. Disregard.