Moments Taken for Granted

There was howling last night.  That’s somewhat rare, so close to town.  Oh, there are wolves around — at least two packs have territories that touch the outskirts of town — but no wolf with more brain cells than your average shoelace wants to come anywhere near all that noise and chaos.  Worse, none wants to come anywhere near all those damned humans.

Wolves are too smart for that.

On the other hand, this town is an all-you-can-eat buffet for carnivores right now.  The elk are in winter-mode.  That means they don’t spend any energy they don’t have to.  To us, a field full of elk laying down to warm themselves in the afternoon sun is a wonderful picture. To a wolf, it’s the irresistible call of the dinner bell.

I had to leave the house yesterday (more on that later), but couldn’t actually get to my truck for a good thirty minutes.  Now, I don’t mind when the cute girls are hanging out around my yard…

I don’t mind, even, when the guys are standing around and acting all nonchalant and cool while they scope out those girls…

But the grumpy grandma?  The old biddy with the stink-eye and a chip on her shoulder the size of Montana?  Yeah, she’s less fun to have in my yard.

Oh…and before you ask, waving your hands and saying “Shoo!” to a 500+ pound animal with a bad attitude and a propensity for breaking things with her kicks isn’t generally a recipe for success.

Needless to say, I was late for my appointment.  Of course, it helps that I happen to live in a place where “I couldn’t get out my door because there was a bear/bison/elk waiting…” isn’t just an excuse, it’s one we’ve all had to use.

Hey, at least it was only thirty minutes!  A friend of mine was once trapped inside a bathroom for two hours because of an ornery bison!

Okay, so why did I have to leave?  A test to see if the COVID is gone.  A test to see if I can — finally — rejoin the rest of the world.  Now I just have to sit and wait for the results.  36 hours, the testing lab says.  My friend, the nurse, just laughed at that estimate.  “Minimum 48 hours,” she warned, “and quite probably more at this point.”

It’s the “big” cities, you see.  Okay, “big” for Montana.  Anyway, as soon as Yellowstone “closes” for the winter, my little town once again becomes nothing more than a few hundred people living at the ass end of nowhere.  Hell, even Amazon deliveries take an extra day.

Oh well, there is hope…and that is what matters!  I don’t actually have anywhere to go, nor anything to do, but as soon as I’m officially free,  I’m gonna go run screaming through downtown Gardiner just because I (finally) can!

Streaming shows and movies got old by about day two, by the way.  Since then, it’s been nothing but books and video games* and work on background material for stories.  I did try to actually write some scenes — some flashfiction, too — but my concentration just wasn’t there enough for that.  

*Yes, they’re childish.  On the other hand, I am quite literally nothing more than an overgrown adolescent at the best of times.  C’mon, we’ve already talked about this! I tried being an “adult.”  I spent years burying my sense of wonder and magic and joy at the simplest of things.  I did that, and it almost killed me.  So, now, I take a stupid amount of joy in playing mini-golf, making fart jokes, dreaming about the ways things should be, and in general being an arrested adolescent.

One of the worst things about watching the world through your window is just how much you miss.  You don’t always miss it, however.  Picture the scene…

I’m sitting there, feeling better.  I pop out my door to stand on the deck and get some sun.  The girls are visiting again, of course.  They brought some boys with them, this time.  There are a good dozen elk in front of my place.  But that isn’t what got me.  That is, in fact, pretty normal for this time of year.  No, what got my attention was the tableau at the edge of the yard.  There was a big boy, there…

No, really, a big boy, with a rack to make any trophy hunter go weak at the knees.  And nose to nose with him, nervous as hell, was a teenager.  A young boy whose antlers were nothing more than the shortest of bare poles…

It was so perfect, that scene.  The big bull, in full glory, interacting with the young kid, all spindly legs and awkwardness.  It was almost human, that scene.

Okay, okay…that’s anthropomorphizing to the nth power, but it really was the feeling that came with that scene.  The bull in his prime, sharing a quiet moment with the adolescent so desperate and hopeful that he will, one day, grow up to be like that…

A month ago, it wouldn’t have happened, of course.  Even in the dying days of the rut, that teenager wouldn’t have dared to come anywhere near a bull like that.  Nor would the bull have allowed it.  That particular fight wouldn’t have lasted any longer than a 7th grader in a UFC match.

It was only a minute or two before the two moved apart.  The lure of the still-somewhat-green grass for one, and the warm sun for the other, was too strong to resist.  An all-too-brief moment, like so many others up here.  A moment, like those others, that I take for granted far too often.

It was a moment that I failed, by the way.  Oh, I didn’t fail it in any metaphysical, spiritual way. No, I failed it in the most practical way: I didn’t record it.  Remember that bit of writing advice I’ve given so often?  You know, the one that says “when a thought comes, you write it.  Right freaking then, you write it.”  Well, that applies to photography just as much as it does to writing.  When a picture is there, you take it.  Even with nothing more than a cellphone camera, you always take the picture!

I didn’t take the picture.  That’s as bad, to me, as forgetting that great idea that came at three in the morning because I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and write it down…

The Oath

The modern version of the Hippocratic Oath:

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

—I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

—I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

—I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

—I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

—I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all,

I must not play at God.

—I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

—I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

—I will protect the environment which sustains us, in the knowledge that the continuing health of ourselves and our societies is dependent on a healthy planet.

—I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

I highlighted a few of the tenets, just to remind us all of values and morality during this time of COVID.

Now can all the “herd immunity” idiots please shut the hell up?

To willingly and voluntarily encourage the transmission of a virus still not well understood is not science, it is criminal malfeasance.  It is, quite literally, the very definition of a crime against humanity.

Unfortunately, far too many people have taken COVID as a political fight rather than a medical one.  Far too many people have decided that masks and prevention equal liberal, and therefor are evil.  The other side holds true, too, by the way.  Too many others have decided that any balance, any recognition of differing circumstances in different areas, equals conservative, and is therefor evil.

How about we let the freaking experts do their thing?  I studied a couple years’ worth of sports medicine in my second college go-‘round.  You know what that toe-dip into the waters of medicine taught me?  It taught me that I don’t know anywhere near enough to try and make that decision.  But the folks who have made the study and prevention of epidemics and viruses their life’s purpose do know enough…maybe we should try, you know, listening to them?

Good Lord, if we continue as we are — if we continue listening to Trump’s “everything is fine!” bullshit, or the left’s “quarantine for everyone!” bullshit — this damned thing is never going to go away.

Look, I’ve been open on this blog about my feelings about the Current Occupant of the Oval Office, and about the fact that I will do anything to get him out.  I should probably add, however, that I’m not any more confident in the other team.  A sociopath versus a buffoon to lead the country during COVID?  Shit.

I think I’m going write “Fauci” on my freaking ballot.

I Used To Think We Were Better Than This

Okay, so here’s a public service announcement for you: don’t get into a friendly discussion about conspiracy theories during a pandemic.6ED2E0CA-F5CC-4F77-BD21-8B77DA7CC1DB

*sigh*

Yeah, that didn’t go well.

“It’s a Dem plot to bring down Trump.”

“It’s a Repub plot to kill minorities.”

“The Chinese made it.”

“Dr Fauci made it.”

“Bill Gates is using COVID to microchip and enslave us all.”

“Medicines and vaccines are made from alien DNA.”

“Trump will revoke the Bill of Rights.”

“Biden will revoke the Bill of Rights.”

Where are the ones about Queen Elizabeth and the Lizard People?  Why isn’t the virus from the moon?  And, really, not one freaking mention of the Illuminati?!?!

I mean, c’mon people, it’s like you’re not even trying.

If we’re gonna go full stupid about this thing, then let’s pull out all the damned stops!

The Salvation Army’s special forces flying black helicopters over American cities to deliver mind-control chemicals developed by Ben Franklin…

Commercial airliners releasing chem trails in order to sterilize and pacify the population…

The alien Greys anally probing various cows and rednecks to control humanity…

7EEEBA74-562D-4E44-BF72-F8ECF66258A4And, Heaven forbid we forget the Holy Grail and it’s mystical guardian, Tim the Enchanter!

Good lord, where is Tom Wolfe when we need him?  Or Umberto Eco, or Mark Twain, or Jonathon Swift?  Crap, I’d kill for a good dose of Douglas Adams on COVID and all of this idiocy right about now.

But do we have them?  Nope, not now that we really need them.  No, instead we have The Nation and MSNBC spouting the extreme leftwing conspiracy bullshit, while InfoWars and Fox News handle the idiocy from the extremes of the right.

And the worst part of all of this?  This shit has gone so full-bore stupid that I miss the days when we were arguing over stains on a blue dress and what kind of cigar it was.

This, by the way, is why I write sci-fi and fantasy — not so I can make up outrageous insanity, but so I can get away from it!  And now back to my stories and characters who just want to rob, rape and kill like normal villains…

Wait, Didn’t I Once Promise to Ignore Politics?

So I’m sitting here, having coffee while I wait for a friend…

“Hey, I’m early, let’s kill some time with the news!”

Of all the good ideas I’ve had, that one is right up there with “…of course I’ll take you to an occupied bear den!  The cubs are super-cute when they’re at home…”

Ahem.

link_CRUqKZKKFRGAlAFTlfPdN5TEw3cvwdL4,w1200h627Anyway…the news…

I think I prefer the angry momma grizzly, thank you very much.

A few random thoughts and notes based on what I read, then, in no particular order:

  1. “Editing” the Constitution — *sigh* look, I know the language in there can be a problem.  I know the concepts and compromises from 200+ years ago can bring pain and outrage now, but “editing” our past isn’t going to solve anything.  It would be much better to use the language and concepts and compromises as the basis for teaching.  For teaching how things have changed…and how they haven’t.  Both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are more aspirational than concrete, anyway, so they make wonderful tools for teaching middle and high school kids about reality — both the reality of now, and the reality of two hundred+ years ago.
  2. Whites Need to Speak Up…or Shut Up (which one kinda depends on who you are reading) — One of the things I’m not going to do is try to divine peoples’ emotions and motivations, and to advocate who should or should not be able to speak.  Skin color does not change the validity or honesty of what a person has to say, and that is flat out the only way to look at it.  To argue otherwise is to simply flip the script of racism, which leads to nothing but the tit-for-tat bullshit we are starting to see every day.  That being said, I’ve chosen to keep my own mouth shut and listen.  I listen because I don’t know.  Oh, I know the history and sociology and intellectual side of race and the US…but I don’t know.  I’ve never been pulled over because of what I look like.  I’ve never been followed by store employees because of my skin or hair.  I’ve never felt the sting of violence and hate and fear because I was other.  I’ve kept my mouth shut because I don’t think I can add to the discussion at this point.  Instead, I would rather let the eloquence of others speak with the power and authority of experience and authenticity.  But that is my choice, valid for me alone.  It in no way means that “no white person should ever discuss race” as I’ve read some suggest.
  3. Apathy vs Delusion — this election promises to keep poli-sci programs, not to mention generations of “political strategists,” busy with examples and lessons for generations to come.  Leave aside the names involved, and all of the emotion and judgments contained therein, and just look at the dynamics of the race itself: you have one candidate, running on a broad range of supporters that numerically should be able to dominate the opponent.  That range, however, has very little enthusiasm or energy.  They support, but they don’t do so with any real intent or drive.  On the other side, you have a candidate with a small base of supporters who in no way represent the nation at large, but have all the energy and dedication in the world.  They will believe anything — do anything — their candidate says, and they will do so in the most aggressive and offensive ways.  So, politically, which wins?  4 years ago it was passion and rage, running against a shrugging nonchalance, but will that hold true today?  If I weren’t living in the midst of this, it would make for an interesting modern lesson on the historical examples and dynamics I have studied for so long.  If I weren’t living it.
  4. The Company You Keep — As a child I was taught that your character is defined by what you do, and by the company you keep.  Now, that outlook has been put to the test more than a few times in some of the, uhh, “shenanigans” that have made up my life, but it is something I long ago took to heart and have tried to live by.  Enter Donald Trump.  If he is defined by what he does, and by the company he keeps… *sigh*.  Sorry, folks, but I’m lost with this one.  Since I don’t want to get into a 5,000 word diatribe — one that George Will did much, much better here — I’m going to focus on just one thing: Trump’s choice to keep company with traitors.  He has chosen to laud and irretrievably pin himself to the “heroes” of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  That is the company he has chosen to keep: those who chose to pick up a weapon and fight for slavery.  Sorry Donny, but that there is ‘nuff said…you are thoroughly defined.
  5. Recrudescence — yep, COVID is coming back, and it’s coming back hard.  Nope, conspiracy theorists and denialists, this is NOT just “another flu.”  Nor is it “fake news” made up just so the left can go after Trump and the hard right fringe that is today’s GOP.  Coronavirus and COVID-19 are very much real, and still very much a threat.  If you are getting your news on COVID solely from Fox News, Powerline, OANN and Townhall…well, I can’t help you.  You may have chosen to put yourself in an echo chamber — as is most definitely your right and privilege — but please do the rest of us a favor and stop assuming those echoes mean a damned thing to anyone else.

Okay, so this bit isn’t really a part of the “list,” it is just…

It is just a thought, and a (sorta) plea: people change.

Yes, this post went a little “rant-y,” but I couldn’t stop myself.  I have friends and family who still expect me to be the good conservative Republican I once was.  Sorry, folks, but I ain’t that person anymore.  I’ve changed.  I’d like to think for the better, but there is no question that I very much have changed.  One of the biggest of those changes is that I have no more patience for the willful ignorance and demented worldview that characterize both extremes.

Quite simply, I want nothing to do with either.

Live and let live, that’s it.  That’s what matters to me.  That’s also how I judge any and all politicians and others who claim to “lead.”

Every day I become more libertarian.  Every day I become more convinced that this overwhelming drive both sides have to dominate and rule the lives of everyday folks is what is driving us to a second civil war.  I wish I could say we could stop this slide, but I’m pretty sure we passed the tipping point years ago…if not decades ago.

But, hey, when that war comes, well…

No one does memory, and monuments, better than the Central Europeans — a reminder of the costs:

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