Color me impressed. Working with a golden retriever/lab mix (I still say shes actually golden/American fox hound), has taught me that dogs are truly unstoppable. My Jack Russell who suffered from a deformity of the brain, rest his soul, was also quite talented. I never quite understood why anyone considers animals, let alone dogs, dumb. Once you read this article, you’ll find out that the uniqueness of this bus riding Labrador isn’t so unique. She’s one of many dogs who have taken to using public transport world wide. So take that “animals are soulless automatons” crowd.
Close to twenty years ago I had the pleasure and the honor of meeting a remarkable man. That man’s name was Morton Ralph Miller. He was a World War II war veteran who served in the Pacific Theater. After the war, Mort had a long career with the US Postal Service in Schenectady until he retired in the late 70’s. After he retired, he continued working as a driver in various business driving busses and shuttling veterans to and from the local VA hospital. The man never stood still; he didn’t know how. Because of it, I always thought of him as the youngest man I knew and he was in his 90’s.
Mort was also a proud father and a family man who loved his wife of 52 years, his children, and grandchildren and who would do anything for anyone at any time. He was a great man and he was loved by many. There wasn’t a place he could go without someone recognizing him. I remember once I was able to enter the country coming back from a trip to Canada because I dropped his name at the border. The officer said, “Oh yeah, I know Mort! Go on in!”
This past weekend, Mort fell dizzy and collapsed. His car keys still in hand, he was rushed to the hospital. On the way to the hospital his heart stopped three times and three times the EMS revived him. Unfortunately, when he got to the hospital, his brain had been deprived of too much oxygen. It would only be a matter of time for the inevitable.
I never knew my real grandfathers and I never really did have a great relationship with my grandmothers. When I met my future wife, I was introduced to this wonderful, close-knit family. They welcomed me into their homes and never made me feel like an outsider. I was proud to call them my family and him my grandfather.
After my wife and I divorced, I felt like I had lost more than a partner. I felt like I lost my family. It’s one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced and I do not wish it on anyone. When I heard the news that Mort had passed away, I felt like a piece of me was ripped from my heart. Never again will I share a cup of coffee with him, or hear him tell a joke, or one of his amazing war stories.
Knowing him was a privilege. I learned so much from him and I always looked up to him. I will carry his memory with me always. And even though we are not related by blood. I will always consider him to be my grandfather.
Since Grandpa Miller loved to tell stories, I think it’s only fitting to remember him by retelling one of my favorite stories of his as best as I can remember. This is a true story as told to me by Mort Miller:
During his tour in the Pacific, Mort Miller had been wounded in combat and had spent a few days in an Army hospital while he healed. After a few days, Mort had been discharged and given orders to return to duty. It was his responsibility to find transportation back to his unit. On the way out of the hospital he runs into a buddy of his who was a pilot. They chat for a while as they exchanged banter and friendly insults. His buddy no doubt gives Mort a hard time for his major injuries. I can just picture a young Mort giving it right back to him.
His buddy asks him where he’s off to next. Mort tells him he’s been given orders to return to work and that he has to find a way to get back to his men. His buddy offers to take him there himself. After all, he’s orders are to drop off cargo at one of the bases in New Guinea where Mort’s unit was stationed. He was only happy to give him a lift. There was only one problem, he’d have to ride in the back with the cargo as there was no room up front. Mort agreed and they took off as soon as they could.
I don’t recall the type of plane they were on, I want to say it was a C-119 Fairchild, but I could be wrong. However, the type of plane is not important. The fact is that Mort is in the back of this plane, probably reading a book and smoking a cigarette, enjoying his free ride when suddenly the back doors begin to open. Curious, Mort gets up to check out the view as the doors are getting wider and wider. That’s when the plane takes a steep climb to let the cargo in the bay slide right off and on to the target on the grown. I guess when his buddy said drop off, he really meant drop!
Unfortunately, Mort was not secured in place since he had not been told that they were going to do that. As Mort falls to the floor of the plane and now finds himself sliding down the cargo bay and inches away from the back of the plane and to his imminent plunge towards hard ground, he loses his book and somehow manages to hang on to a set of cargo netting on the wall of the plane.
As he struggled to hang on, I’m sure he thought to himself that if he gets out of this alive he would kill his buddy, but he would have to hang on and avoid the barrage of cargo and seemed to be trying to knock him loose as they slid by.
What seemed like forever hanging on to this netting and probably now all bruised up from a ton of crates banging against him, the plane finally begins to level off and the cargo doors begin to close. Mort sat there dumbfounded as he thanked his lucky star he is still alive.
When the plane lands, Mort is still in shock. Not one member of the crew had bothered to come out of the cockpit to see if he was okay. You can imagine how pissed he must’ve felt. Finally, the cockpit door opens and his buddy emerges through the door and lays eyes on Mort for the first time since they took off. Mort always describes his buddy turning white as a ghost and uttering in pure shock, “Jesus Christ, I forgot all about you!!”
I salute you Private First Class Miller! “We’ll sue ya!”
The Junkyard of Bad Ideas, continued from The Mahattama Kane Jeeves Salvage Yard, S.J. Melvin, Proprietor…
S.J. Melvin, an avuncular, somewhat sleazy, portly and terribly silly-looking man, again sat behind his 1950’s over-sized aluminum desk, rocking back and forth in a creaky, wooden desk chair that came from the same 1950’s emporium of bad furniture as his desk.
He stared lazily at the calendar nailed to the plywood walls of his office. The highly- coveted “Gatzco Transmissions’ 2015 Pin-Up Gal and Product Showcase Extravaganza Calendar Catalog.”
“That there Saul Gatzco is a fuggin’ good idea man,” Melvin coughed out to an empty room. “Why in the hell can’t I do a-summin’ to advertz-ize mah salvage yard?” he continued.Picking up the phone, he called over to his right-hand man, and sole employee, Hank double-clutch Grizniack. Of course, the repair shed where Grizniack was standing was a mere several yards away, but Melvin liked using the phone, it made him feel important.“Dubbah-clutch! I needs your ideaz for some advertz-izements I wanna do. Come ovah!”
Grizniack was standing before Melvin moments after the phone was placed back in the cradle. A thin, weaselly-looking fellow, Grizniack won no prizes for neatness, but he was, in fact, a decent fellow, and far too honest of a man to be otherwise employed by the slippery Melvin. He tucked an oily rag in the back pocket of his greasy overalls, and waited for Melvin to being flapping his yap about whatever scheming nonsense he had in mind this time.
“What’s on your mind, Mr. Melvin?” Grizniack wearily asked and braced himself for, if nothing else, a few minutes break from re-flanging that ’86 Chevy transmission he was unknowingly in the middle of making never work again.
“PRO-motions! We need to drum up some fresh business, Clutch! Look at what that fool Saul Gatzco does with his calendah gals!”
“Ok…but what I can do about that, Mr. Melvin? I don’t want to be in a calendah….”
“You been huffin’ the gasoline again, Clutch?? Imma not puttin’ you in a calendah! But we need to think of some new ways to gets us some new business!”
“What about the free beer while idea you had dee udder day, Mr. Melvin? So customers could drink while they looked through the spare parts yard? Did Pennypacker come through with that alcohol dispensin’ contract he bragged about havin’ with the City?”
“God dammit! NO! That fool was wastin’ mah time! He didn’t have a contract with the City. He had a damned line of credit at his neighborhood six-pack store! Not the same thing! Not by a mile!”
“Well I don’t have any ideas, Mr. Melvin. I fix old cars, and refurbish car parts. But maybe you can call Pennypacker’s friend–that weird lawyer guy he hangs around with: Galusha Peppes, I think his name is?”
“Galusha. Yes. I’ll call Galusha,” Melvin muttered–remembering just at that moment, that Pennypacker’s strange legal friend wasn’t just a member of the bar. He also had a side business. He was the owner of a bar–a strip bar.
Oh, this was going to be a great idea, all right.
If you want to continue the shenanigans, you ought to be here.
In a male dominated genre, isn’t it awesome that a woman wrote one of the earliest and most recognizable electronic themes even to this date?
And, she didn’t just write it. She even played and created the unique sounds for it to be constructed with! Read more about them here:
Watch this video on one of these amazing ladies…Delia Derbyshire…(attention all Whovians!)
The conservative mind considers itself. The liberal mind considers the collective. Us vs. me centered thinking. This might sound like more divisive rhetoric, but it is a reality which needs to be dealt with in order to stem the dangers it causes to society. We can listen to the opinions of others, but we’re not forced to accept them as fact, or be barred from criticizing opinions that are obviously wrong-headed. There have been several studies concluding the same reasoning.
Let’s start with a metaphor. A pond does not exist without a connection to a greater collective of water, they bubble up from underground springs tying things together. What happens in one spot, thus affects another. So when one pond is suffering neglect or even pollution, the other ponds connected to it will suffer too. Until that collective notion is understood by conservatives, there will be no compassion from them, because they can only function from a me-center. The liberal is always us-centered. Can empathy be taught? They say so, but those predisposed toward selfishness will continue to work from a universe in which they are the central and the most meaningful factor.
Take the police brutality issue (yes, I’m going there). Those fighting for equality and against brutality are seen as monsters hating the police by those who are police, related to police, married to police. Those raising the issue of police brutality are thus silenced, because as one person said to me “if my husband needs a tank to do his job, he better have one – you don’t get what he’s up against.” The self-aggrandizing thinking of the me-center, which does not empathize with those who have done nothing and are gunned down, beaten, raped, or wrongly incarcerated by the thousands each year because training is poor, regulation poorer, and recruitment half-assed–but, you know, the people (usually blacks) are the problem, not the police who continue to give themselves a bad name, or the me-centered individuals around them empowering the brutality.
Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Those cries almost always go out in regard to high profile cases, for example, Bill Cosby. The word of twenty plus women are nothing in the minds of those who love this man. I, too, am disappointed to hear this, but I do not question the timing or validity of the claims because I am in no position to condemn Mr. Cosby, but I am in a position (Sexual Abuse Survivor) to have an opinion. Survivors of Sexual Abuse/Assault are often never listened to, never believed, so the supposed lateness of the claims is unsurprising, but for those who have zero empathy it shouldn’t matter. Is their really a date stamp for when you have to raise a claim by, and why do you believe that? Please question yourself if you’ve been asking this question of the accusers, as their numbers build and build. The answer is, a person who asks these questions is me-centered. They’re focused on how this will affect them, not anyone else, least of all those women who have daringly come forward against a titan.
The fact that we’re more concerned about the rights of alleged 20+ times Rapist over a teenager who lifted a cigar, is disconcerting to say the least. Hoodies are in question, but not men who drug women to rape them, or use their power to force sexual favors, such as the police officer in Dallas. The people on the street are not considered innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers. Instead, police are increasingly becoming Judge, Jury and Executioner – dispensing their Wild West justice in the matter of split seconds. A split second is not enough time to judge. However, it is enough time to get killed, and that is why they wear vests and are given guns. However, again, in the majority of cases, the people gunned down are unarmed. The cops lied and colluded to cover this terrible tragedy up, and have done so innumerable times in the past. This does not mention their ties to hate groups who target minorities, or the laundry list of corruptions nationwide. But, if you question them, you will be threatened with a lack of service to set you straight or end up being brutalized yourself. The me-centered are seeking self-preservation, not a holistic solution that will make them safer while strengthening police-public relations and doing their job to Protect and Serve. Instead, they tell us “you don’t know what it’s like out there.”
The thing is, we do get what it’s like OUT THERE. We live OUT THERE. We’re living out there, everyday. They pretend we don’t have a window into their same reality. Perhaps the issue is that they’ve made their own window on reality which only overlooks a very narrow segment of life? Is that possible? They’ve built up the fear speech they try to give the public so much that they’ve bought into. That they go on these calls daily, nightly, all the time, that is the only thing they see and interact with. Their bias is heavily stacked toward the criminal. It might be worthwhile to have them step back more often and see the good, instead of hunting criminals in every shadow at every minute. In other words, they’ve put on a mindset and can’t shake it. They’re not well-rounded experiencers of life, but rather narrowly introverted experiencers of moments.
In light of that sentiment, let me assure whoever might care, that it’s not us who don’t get what it’s like out there. It is, in fact, that me-centers, because they’re talking about a fraction of events in all events considered, as though they’re the only thing happening, don’t see a big picture—ever. Yes, it only takes one event to end their day badly. That’s true for all of us, badge or not. One split second can change a life, and there is more than a stray bullet aimed at us OUT HERE. We have to worry about everything from Tsunamis to job loss to robbery, rape and car accidents. The list goes on, OUT HERE. Try adding your pigment into that mix for a real kick up of issues you face, OUT HERE. Or maybe you’d like to try a religion that is blamed for every ill in the world, or lack of which makes you look like a monster to those who do believe OUT HERE. Maybe you drew the lot that night walking home. Whatever, cops aren’t the only ones in the line of fire, and we need to stop looking at them as if they’re the only people in harm’s way on a daily basis. Oh, and they signed up for it, we didn’t. The average person was thrust into this world on a cold rainy afternoon without permission, and they squalled, but no one heard their protests.
The crux of the issue is a slide to the right in the United States, and probably all over the world. A slide so far right it smacks of Fascism. I read so many stories decrying the ills of immigration from Kansas to Berlin, all pointing the finger at brown people. I guess World War II taught us nothing about how that steam-engine wrecks. The far right slide is Fascism. It’s the extreme of conservatism. Look that up on google, if you don’t believe me. By the way, it’s also ‘only your opinion’ that we have fascism in the United States—no, Ma’am, that’s a fact. Corporations are so deeply embedded in our government, we may never get them out. The cops are being used as their private security force, putting them in a very precarious position with the public. Also, ignore that the police have consistently remained conservative (the individuals making up the police force are usually conservative thinkers/voters). This makes them easy to use for such ends.
During the course of my conversation with my female colleague, she declared that there were no ‘tanks’ belonging to police in Missouri at the protests, they were national guard, they did not say police on the side. It took me one search to find the police marked vehicles to which I had referred to as the colloquial tank, and no military tank images of any kind unless a standard Humvee counts (see below). This is just one of myriad ways living in a me-centered world limits your view, but add to that privilege and you’ve got a powder keg of ignorance. (Yes, she is white. You’re not surprised, are you?) My colleague is invested because of her partner. No doubt, her partner has used fear to frame her thinking on the issue: The fear of loosing him. The police have been using fear tactics for job security for generations. They used it back in Tammany Hall days to bully support from the poor, mostly Irish, immigrants—laughing all the way to the bank and providing little to no protection. Sound familiar?
What should also sound familiar is a tactic of an abusive personality. Did you know that Police are twice as likely to commit domestic violence as opposed to the rest of the population? Did you also know that they have a higher rate of alcoholism, affecting 25% of cops? They also have high divorce rates.
Not to mention how this ignores more than two centuries of racism and brutality against non-whites (the Irish used to be included in that, along with the Italians, Greeks, Germans, and on) and especially immigrant populations, non-Christians, and women. The ACLU has a nifty how to help fight brutality manual.
Returning to the lovely conversation with my colleague, I was told that if I (emphasis on I) continue to speak (on brutality with her, making her hear the other side of the story, which is jarring her cognitive dissonance) it will threaten our professional relationship. Ma’am, please! Again with me-centeredness. Just to clarify, we never had a professional relationship to speak of. She is self-aggrandizing again (like she did with placing her husband above all other lives—nix consideration), by simultaneously threatening the comfort of my working life and building up the importance of herself in it. She never liked me to begin with, and treated me like a bad toddler at a recent event, emotionally bursting out that I needed to man the check-in table, while I was trying to talk down a guest from an anxiety attack. What she needed trumped everyone else in the room (despite claiming to suffer anxiety herself). What she needed was to look good to those around her by running a tight ship with an iron fist for the staff. Now, I know exactly why I never felt comfortable with her. She is a me-centered (really bad at disguising it too) and I am an us-centered (just as bad at disguising it). My priority was the guest with anxiety, and getting them back to a good place so they could safely exit the event without incident. I did not know the person all that well, but I empathized from my own bouts with anxiety.
A lot of people will say that I am anti-cop for stating what I have here, but that is not true in the least, and I thank your for reading this far. What I actually am is anti-brutality. I am against that which is going to denigrate our police force, make their jobs that much harder and leave the citizens of this nation less safe, and that is ignoring the problem. There is a lack of training, funding and improper equipping of the police force. National Guard stations have been closed nationwide, which could have supplied the necessary forces for escalated situations with far greater skill and calm. I am against fascism, which is the marriage of government to corporation which then uses the police to enlist Marshall Law and control over the population – a process that has been ongoing since 2000. I am against the unnecessary violence and force the police have been using (Tasering an 8 year old Native girl for nothing, shooting a black 12 year old with a toy and beating his sister who came to his aid….).
But when you live me-centered, you can’t see what’s happening to others—no cause, just the end result. You only see the filtered version of what you fear will happen to you because of it. I empathize with your fear that you might loose your partner to a crook’s bullet, or worse. I feel that empathy in my gut for you, but that doesn’t trump the life of a mother’s child, Average Joe’s wife or Grandpa, because who the hell are you to say that your husband or wife is worth more than that other life? When you get into that eugenics based discussion, the really ugly head of racism isn’t too far behind. But worst of all, you’re a me-centered, so all you feel is what affects you directly and you don’t weep for those left behind to pick up the pieces of brutality that your partner’s club perpetrates. I am Us-Centered and I want an end to the brutality for the sake of the mother, your husband/wife and the odd family member that was forgotten until he/she was found shot to death by cops. We the people live out here everyday and we are innocent until proven guilty. We have the right to justice, not the right to be served blind judgment.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.