RANDOM, P.S. AND BOO

The room is dark. I glance at the illuminated dial on the clock on the end table. It is 2:00 a.m. and I just remembered that I did not shut the garage door. I slowly make my way into our bathroom and grab my bathrobe from its appointed hook next to the shower. My eyes are gaining some of their rod and cone cells and the darkness is no longer inky. It is just a few more moments when I can see the handle to my bedroom door and quietly open it and slink out into our living room.

As I turn to face our living room, I see three sets of almond colored eyes fixed on me. I start for a moment and then realize that it is our three feline inhabitants- black cats all. My eyes are starting to feel more comfortable as I approach the three cats hunched over the coach and following me intently. I have not been given to anthropomorphism, but it does seem like they are inspecting me to see if I am their friend.

In a few moments, they have jumped down from the couch and circling my legs- tails up and rubbing against me. I am careful not to take my steps quickly. I have this unnerving feeling that I will trip on them someday. I remain careful as I trudge toward the garage entrance and place my hand on the closer and press down. The door closes with a degree of finality, as if it had been waiting for some time for me to shut it.

By this time, the two younger cats, P.S. and Boo are already on the kitchen counter, reminding me that somehow I must have forgotten to feed them. That was not quite so. I turned on the kitchen light which illuminates the room where their litter box and food bowls reside. I see that most of the food has been eaten. So, I fill up the bowl and notice that our eldest cat, Mr. Random Numbers (all 18 lbs. of him) has nudged the other cats away. Random does that quite frequently. He is larger than the others and feels that he comes first. Once in a great while, Mr. P.S. will swat him away from the bowl, if he is especially hungry.

Our accumulation of three BLACK cats is a story unto itself. We did not start out to be cat owners. We have been dog people, but our daughter had a fondness for cats since childhood. She insisted that we adopt a cat when she worked in a supermarket as a teenager. She encountered a scruffy old man who told her that he had cats that he was willing to give away. Dara insisted that we visit this man’s home and take one of the cats.

We did go to the house and found it to be disgusting. Piles of cat food on the floor along with assorted poop mingled with other gunk on the floor. We spotted a cute little grey cat and took him home. He had fleas, and had to be dewormed. It was a month or so before we could really say that he was healthy. From that day on, we had a feeling that we would rescue cats.

Black cats are susceptible to two things- never being adopted, and being used by crazy people for satanic rites and witchcraft stuff. They are most likely to be killed in odd ways because of people’s fear of bad luck. Our first black cat, Random Numbers II, was named after the hero in a Robert Heinlein SF book called, Beast. Mr. P.S. was a last minute substitute for Random Numbers II, who left our house, hopped in a local car and was away for six months.

One evening I got a call from a vet, 40 miles away in Lancaster, saying that Random was at her house (she was able to read the chip in his neck) and would I come and get him. P.S. had been his substitute.

Boo was just a rescue from our local humane society. He came to us with some weird name and we immediately thought that he was aptly named Boo Radley, from To Kill a Mockingbird.

As I retreated from the kitchen, after pouring in a cupful of cat food, I looked at our three urchins and wondered how we got into this situation. They are part of our lives these days. They are a constant presence, on our desks, on our couches, on our cereal bar, when eating breakfast, and on our bodies when we lay on our couch. They are good guys and after 14 years, one of them is just recognizing his name.

GOD

There are a bunch of religiously themed movies out now- Noah, Son of God, God is not Dead. You may have seen some others. There are also some TV shows that, although they are not strictly religious, are mighty close. One such program is “Resurrection.” It begins with a small town resident, a boy who died thirty years ago coming back to his hometown and living with his parents. They, of course, have some problems with this new guest.

If you watch any of the traditional religious programs, you may notice that they are getting a bit more strident about the end of days and the interference of the devil. The day of Armageddon (otherwise known as Har Megiddo in Israel, is upon us. Not sure what I am supposed to do about it, but it is coming.

Having read the bible in its original language (Hebrew is the old testament language) and did not read the new testament in Greek, I become very confused about the end of days and its consequences. I do recall the 1960’s and it’s depressing emphasis on, “The God is dead” theory. Since we had a war going on, that fewer and fewer people wanted, that was an expression of how come God let’s this stuff happen. Since there were no answers, God must not be around anymore.

I have no cause to argue with those who take the bible literally .I believed in a literal interpretation of the bible  from the time I was five till I was twelve and was ensconced in the Yeshiva ( Jewish Parochial School). It was drummed into me that God created the world in six days and on the seventh day he (yes he) rested. That was all there was to it. It even said that in Hebrew. Who were these people who could not see that?

The literality extended to science, with Noah and the beasts on the ark. The ages of men were no big deal to me. If God wanted men to live for 900 years, then that is what they would do. If Sarah could have a baby when she was 99 that was fine. The rabbis made no bones about how things would be. Moses and the plagues, 40 years in the desert, Joshua and the horn, Ezekiel and those things in the air.

I am not sure that I could conceive of dinosaurs and man existing at the same time. I was not old enough to understand the meaning of time. So, as I grew and developed my own philosophy, I started looking at how long things took to happen. Although 6,000 years was a long time, it was not long enough to have certain things happen.

The most ingenious current interpretation of the creation story is now making its way to the public mind. How about the first 6 days of creation being all of the 4.5 billion years till a few thousand years ago. The seventh day is now and God is resting and becoming respirited (that’s what it really says in the bible). That would kind of down the God is dead people and explains all of the terrible things that have been going on through our recorded history.

Knowing that God is not around right now brings many problems to the fore. When does God get going again? Will it be at the end of the tenure of man on earth? Is it true that all of the doomsday predictions are just part of what is going to happen when God resumes his tasks?            

 

DON’T GO STEPHEN!!!!

My world is crumbling. Stephen Colbert is going straight. That is, he is leaving Comedy Central to replace David Letterman on CBS. Did you know that Letterman had never beaten Jay Leno since 1995? I don’t have any feelings about Letterman, Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Chelsea Handler (or whatever), Arsenio Hall and others. I haven’t liked late night TV since Jack Paar and Steve Allen  left. There has always been something lacking- originality, conviviance, cleverness, warmth and so much more. Although Johnny Carson sometimes had interesting guests, I was never drawn to his program and did not watch it.

I have been a faithful fan of Stephen Colbert since he appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. So many have left the show to achieve stardom. Stephen is already a star and really does not need another platform to showcase his brilliance. Discussions have already begun about whether he will be in his faux right wing character, or will he just be himself (whoever that is).

It is hard to believe that a Colbert nighttime extravaganza with famous guests, rather than interesting ones, will be anywhere near what Stephen does now. Can there be the weird questioning from the Colbert character on a network program? Will the present audience follow Colbert to CBS? Will he be able to say the outrageous things that he says now?

I will watch the first couple of shows to see what happens.

 

           

 

CHRIS IS GONE

This just shouldn’t have happened. It is not the way the world should work. No one should die at age 29 for no reason at all. Christopher and Jessica (sometimes called Jessima by her mom) was our neighbor when we moved to Harrisburg in 1992. He was then 8 years old. He was a tow headed ragamuffin, who used to drop by our house and sit and listen to Smothers Brothers records. His mom thought that I taught him bad words from the records.

Christopher Ryan (or Robin) was an easy going kind sort of kid who would never utter a bad word or complain about his lot in life. He was not a very studious boy, but was tremendously interested in the outdoors, especially geology. Since Carol and I had some old Indian arrowheads, and other interesting stuff, he would come down and take a look from time to time.

As he got older, his interests seemed to wane and become more involved with this peers. I suspect that he smoked, as did other kids. His visits became less frequent as time went by. At a point in his teenage years, his mom and dad decided that he and his sister were out of control. They were sent to a military school in Virginia for a year or so.

I am not sure that did the youngsters any good at all. Chris went to Shippensburg University for a while, but dropped out. I took him to Mansfield University to see if he liked it better. It was also a state school and far away from cities and their temptations.

Somehow, he got work in New York as a waiter and sometime bartender. He seemed to be doing well in that milieu. It was especially good for him, as he shared an apartment with this sister who was doing some modeling. They always got along well and this was no exception.

At some point a few years ago, Chris decided to open a Deli in Brooklyn. We never did see it in person, but saw it online. It looked like a winner. We were told that Chris had just sold his share of the business. He went out to Denver to visit with a friend, Tim. I do remember Tim as a nice young man who helped out Chris’s dad with garden work. Tim is the person who killed Chris.

Evidently there was some argument between the two young men. Chris walked out of the house and their argument continued. Tim shot Chris in the chest with a shotgun and killed him.

Carol and I have a picture of Chris and Jess when they were eight and six years old. We cannot forget Chris. He was a part of our lives for 15 years. We connected with his family the other day and they are decimated. Jess has all of the symptoms of severe grief. She is going to need some help. Carol is trying to help out in her way. Chris’s father cannot be comforted. His last act while we were leaving was to embrace both of us at one time and cry copiously. Chris’s mom spent most of the time in her bed when we were there. I wish that there was more that we could do. There probably isn’t.

THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!!!

I am sure that sometime over the past 10 years or so, you have read about the growing disparity in income and wealth in this country. There was a book called, “The politics of the rich and poor,” by Kevin Phillips, a Nixon associate in the 1970’s. The book went on to describe how we are fracturing our country by allowing such deep divisions in income and wealth. I believe he thought it would go on for a while and then start to reverse. It only got worse.

It may seem strange to you to be living in a country that espouses equality and equal opportunity that such a thing could grow to this dimension. Some would say that it is a result of the social safety net, the laziness of a large part of our populace, faulty government programs, etc. Somehow those things do not ring true with me. Could it really be that a phenomenal part of our population has become so enamored of low wages and poverty that it chooses to be part of those things?

Possibly, our new technological society, our outsourcing of business, our international economy, our trade policies, our lack of manufacturing has made these divisions possible. If any of those things caused the 2008 depression or the 1985 savings and loan debacle, or any of the other low points in our economy, why haven’t they been fixed, either by market forces or governments?

Is it only in the U.S. that this is happening? Probably not. However, it is growing wider in our country than in most western style democracies. A new study, just out the other day states that the top one tenth of one percent of our population accounts for 20% of the wealth. Let’s see, how many people is that? How about 350,000 people? Wow is that scary.

I have been handing out maps of Pennsylvania showing the number of school districts in the state, out of 500 that are now below the average personal income. It is now 374. That means that wealth is now concentrated like it is never been in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. IN 1979 there were over 300 school districts (out of 501) that were over the average personal income. That is a symptom is something really going wrong.

It is easy to blame the wealthy for their gargantuan appetites for accumulating wealth. Not sure things have changed in that regard. With election results based on the amount of money behind each candidate and the Supreme Court downing every rule that would restrict giving, government can really be bought. Is that really the reason for all of these things happening?

I am not sure. I am less willing to pin these things on the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and the like. I am more interested in why folks are not rising up and championing a more egalitarian society. Has the populace been fed so much cartoon humanity, a la Atlas Shrugged? Or is there something more Soma like in the water?

We appear to be floating on premise that it is not up to us, but others, to try and fix this problem. I fear that there will come a time, in the near future, that we will all be sorry that we did not fix this monstrous problem. I am not hoping for conflagration. However, I do worry about my children and my grandchildren.

Is there anyone out there, single or group, that sees what we are coming to?