It’s Darwinian…

In the case of the angry gorilla versus the ill disciplined four year old, I tend to side with the gorilla. I tend to fall on the side of the animals in most cases, except when it involves issues of the ones western civilization has proclaimed tasty when flame broiled.

The case at hand seems relatively straightforward. The youngster was repeatedly told by those who allegedly care for his well being that he was not going into the gorilla enclosure. He failed to follow those instructions and received the opening salvo of what would surely have been an epic beat down for his efforts. It’s a most pure example of action and consequence that we’re likely to see this week. It’s downright darwinian in its simplicity – except that we stepped in rather than letting the gene pool cleanse itself a bit.

But surely, someone will say, you value human life more than a gorilla’s? Yeah, except I generally don’t. From a purely numerical standpoint, there are only a few hundred thousand gorillas in existence versus the more than seven billion humans. The death of a human, while tragic to that individual and the immediate group of family and friends, simply doesn’t make that much difference to the world at large. The death of a single gorilla, because their population is so small, is orders of magnitude more important by contrast. Of course that analysis is only true when we’re willing to look at humans as just another animal wandering around in the wild.

There’s plenty of blame to go around – the kid for not doing what it’s allegedly responsible adult guardian told hime to do, the allegedly responsible adult guardian for doing whatever seemed more important than keeping their kid from taking a header into a gorilla enclosure, and the zoo for not making their enclosure more idiot proof than the greatest of village idiots. The only one in this scenario I don’t blame is the gorilla who was just doing what gorillas do and ended up getting killed because of this long string of failures on the part of the “more intelligent species” involved. 

Be worthy…

We have holidays in this country celebrating all manner of important occasions. Some I loosely lump into the category of “family” holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas that focus on hearth and home. Others are “drinking” holidays like St. Patricks Day or Valentine’s Day. We celebrate three separate holidays, however, that are of a distinctly “patriotic” flavor. Independence Day is fairly self explanatory. Veteran’s Day honors the long list of men and women who have served in their nation’s uniform. Memorial Day, however, is the only national holiday we hold sacred to the memory of the sons and daughters of the Republic who died while in that uniform or of wounds received while in service.

The willingness of these citizen soldiers to, in the words of Kennedy’s inaugural address, “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty” is simply beyond what meager words of praise I can hope to offer. We owe them the world, but a moment of respectful tribute will have to suffice. The best we can do, it seems, it honoring their memory and living a life worthy of their sacrifice.

Central….

Before ensconcing myself here at Fortress Jeff, I rented a house that “included” air conditioning in the form of two geriatric window units. One was so filled with mold when I moved in that I relegated it to the shed for the duration of my stay and replaced it with my own unit. The other was probably filled with mold too, but it was too heavy to move and was somehow “permanently” mounted into one of the living room windows. That one got blitzed with as much lysol as I could spray into the vents at least twice a week in the hopes that would be enough to hold any organisms growing in there at bay.

Given the apparent belief of early 1980s home builders that insulation was more of an optional thing, living with these two window units mostly translated into having two rooms that were slightly cooler than the outside air temperature and the rest of the house that was just short of reaching blast furnace range. It wasn’t ideal.

With temperatures reaching towards 90 over the last couple of days, I just wanted to give a small nod of acknowledgment to the glory that is central air conditioning. I try to be responsible in its use, but I can chill this place right down to icebox levels with the flick of a switch. It’s the kind of thing you don’t really appreciate until you no longer have it.

So there you have it – one more thing to add to the short list of things that don’t suck. See? Not everything around here is a bad news story, something that annoys me, or just a general bitch session. There are, from time to time, things that make me smile.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Your iPad is not a video camera. Just because it has that capability doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to whip out your tablet computer and start swinging it around trying to catch the perfect shot. They make small hand held devices specifically for that purpose. In a pinch, catching a quick video clip with your phone is even a perfectly acceptable solution in most cases. The only things that really happen when you hoist your iPad over your head to catch that unmissable moment are: 1) You get bad quality video and audio recording of an event that’s allegedly important to you; 2) People behind you can’t see what’s going on; and 3 (and I can’t stress this one enough) You look like a total douchenozzle. It’s still a relatively free country and I can’t stop you from doing it, but you just shouldn’t want to.

2. I’m not a wizard. As I’ve stated previously and often, I can do it all, but I cannot do it all at once. I like to think that’s more a simple function of the linear nature of time rather than a personal failing on my part. You, of course, are free to disagree with that assessment. With that being said, one of the things you need to know is if you give me something to do, then tell me that I am required to go sit in a four hour long meeting, the thing you wanted me to get done will not be complete 30 minutes after the end of that meeting. I’m many things, but a wizard is not one of them. That’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s unfortunately true. I would love to be all things to all people, but so long as I continue to be given the opportunity to spend half the day in meetings that preclude doing any actual productive work, I’m afraid that’s just not going to be possible. The decisions about where I go or what I’m focused on are largely out of my own control, so sorry I’m not sorry.

3. Climbing over people in the middle of a ceremony is not acceptable. If you arrive late to a ceremony or event and things are already underway when you wander in, there really are only two acceptable courses of action: 1) Stand quietly in the back and wait for an intermission or other pause in the action to take your seat; 2) Find an open seat somewhere on the periphery and put your ass in it. What you shouldn’t do is show up two thirds the way through the event and climb over top of people who have been sitting respectfully like decent fucking human beings to get to a spot “your people” have been “saving” for you since twenty minutes before things started. What you really, really shouldn’t do is then climb back out over top of these same people after your special snowflake has been recognized and interrupt everyone within earshot for the second time in ten minutes. You my dear, inconsiderate woman, like your friend with the iPad, are a total douchenozzle.

A picture and a paragraph…

 

More and more often I’m running into links on “news” sites that dump you off at a video rather than at an article. For me at least, if I’m interested enough to click on a link, I’m interested enough to learn more than whatever can be offered up in a 13 second video clip. Call me a curmudgeon but I like my news stories to have a little bit of depth, maybe some background, and even a touch of analysis if the editors are feeling a little froggy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of digital media, but there’s a big part of me that still likes getting my news in the written word format. I’m not advocating for an immediate return to running newspapers in a morning and evening edition, but I don’t think it’s too big an ask to expect generally reputable news sources to include a little more meat on the bone. Then again, maybe that’s just another art form dying in the modern age.

With that said, a few weeks ago a friend turned me on to a site that specializes in collecting a sort of “best of” series of long form articles from across the web. Longform.org tends to be a bit eclectic in its offerings. It’s certainly not all the news that’s fit to print. What it lacks in width on a day to day basis, it almost always makes up for in depth. Right now on the main page articles range from campus activism to nursing to Swiss banking. I check in a few times a week when I’m feeling myself fall into the normal routine of things being a thousand feet wide but only three inches deep. It’s a helpful reminder if nothing else that somewhere, someone is practicing some deep thinking skills – even when I reject their premise or conclusions.

Sometimes a picture and a paragraph just aren’t enough. Mercifully there is at least a small group of people on the internet who agree.

Good deeds…

Ten days ago a friend of mine who I first met as a vet tech at Winston and Maggie’s primary care joint sent me a message wondering if any associates of mine were looking for FullSizeRender (16)a puppy. They had an owner surrender come in to the office diagnoses with parvo. If you haven’t spent any time around dogs, that diagnosis may not mean much to you, but take my word for it that parvo is a nasty bastard. It’s not quite a death sentence, but even with quick and aggressive treatment, survival is something of a dice roll.

Because it’s so often difficult and expensive to treat, a common response across the industry is to let the sick pup go easy. My friend went the harder – and more expensive – route and took this little slip of a puppy home and treated her out of pocket. That’s going above and beyond in my book. I found out  today that instead of placing this pup in a new home or even keeping her, my friend got in touch with the young family who gave her up because they couldn’t make the finances of treatment work.

No one brings home a new puppy thinking that a few days later they’ll be facing thousands in veterinary bills. I know better than most that those bills do crop up though. The family made the right, but a hard decision to give her up and give her a chance at life. My friend made the even harder decision to give her back. I know she didn’t do it for public recognition, so I’ll keep names and identifying details to myself, even so I think this one deserves a pat on the back or a scratch behind the ears, whichever is more appropriate.

A show well run…

There are thousands of websites you can visit today and read every detail of last night’s episode of Game of Thrones. I’m not going to call for a spoiler alert here because I don’t intend to provide that level of detail.

It’s not often that I find myself caught off guard, even by a show like Thrones. It’s simply understood that in the world created by George R.R. Martin anyone can drop dead at any moment. On any given Sunday you expect the high lords of Westeros to grapple in a fight to the death. There a whole hose of characters who have become part of the series’ background hum. Those secondary and tertiary characters may not get off any easier than their high born overlords, but their deaths are generally less noted.

In a season where the series seems to have discovered itself again – or perhaps noted that an end really is coming – last night’s blood offering was all the more notable. It spoke to sacrifice, friendship, and consequences. It reminds us that even in a world full of fairy tails, evil trumps good every bit as often as the other way around.

Maybe most surprising of all, though, is that it was a clear that even six seasons on, the fandom can still count on being caught off their guard. In an often formulaic world of 22 minute sitcoms and 43 minute dramas,  it’s nice to know that great stories are still being told. Boy did those writers earn their money this week. Their ending was among the most powerful I’ve seen on the small screen in quite some time.

I don’t usually give this space over to singing praises, but Martin, Benioff, Weiss, and the rest have created something absolutely magnificent. Show well run, gentlemen.