iuThe men-folk around these parts don’t wear much pants. What I means is few wear long trousers other when they have to like going to work. Otherwise they walk about in public in gym or cargo shorts. These are never ‘tight’ but often looking so roomy as to resemble badly-built kilts. This informal attire is seen even in the ‘best places’: it may be a swanky restaurant but no long trousers ever. * The explanations for the fashion are simple enough: it is too damn hot to wear long pants and men tend to wear what the other guys are wearing. All the same I can’t help but wonder if there is an unconscious slowly-shaping rebellion developing towards the termination of trousers. Pants are usually uncomfortable (especially dress slacks). They tend to pinch the yarbles making for a continual need for self-adjustment often needing doing in public and hopefully passed off as just looking for something in my pocket. 

Urs Truly tends to walk around the house in his boxers (Derek Rose is you are asking) keeping at the ready some quick slip-on cargo shorts in case the doorbell rings and he has to attend to the JWs or the Scouts selling cookies. That said I like cargo shorts when I have to put on something as they are loose, familiar, and easily assessed – like my men.  I once read few men thought about cargo shorts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ until some NYT female fashion plate lamented cargos were ‘over’ and ladies tell your men to be rid of them. This went over like a lead balloon and now they are won’t be given up without a court order.  If there’s going to be an androsartorial revolution it must be from within. I think a lot of men would vote for no pants and more kilts** if we could just publicly admit to this Emperor’s new clothes matter – pun intended. No doubt Pat Robertson (who is always seen in a suit) would bellow this as a satanic threat to masculinity and raise a caterwaul against returning to the historical and traditional use of robes, kilts, and – yes – dresses.***

Meanwhile it remains 40-45C outside La Casa de Spo and inside it is 30C so trousers be damned. I like being in touch with my inner-Dionysus who was a fellow never found of pants in the first place. My brothers and I grew up with the silly statement “You put your pants on and face the facts!” We still don’t know what it means exactly but it does convey pants are funny things and one is better off without them really. 

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*In preparation of this entry Urs Truly has done a lot of ‘in the field’ research looking at men’s pants etc.

**I want to call them skirts but we need to fight one war at a time here. “Kilts’ sounds less threatening than ‘skirts’ although I fail to see the difference. I’ve learned not to ask a kilt-wearer as he becomes flustered in his inability to tell me and he then he hits me. 

***Come to think of which some of the worse patriarchies abjure pants for robes: Orthodox and Catholic church leaders, the KKK, and members of the Supreme Court. I wouldn’t be surprised Mr. Robertson has several frocks of his own.

As one enters La Casa de Spo through the garage one goes first into the laundry room in which stands an old wooden IKEA kitchen island. The top, now faded with use, is handy to place items just in from the car. On the blue and yellow stand lives a large blue piggy bank in which to put loose change. Down the board and nearest to the door is a shallow leather square-shape dish designated “The Key Bowl”. As one can guess by the name this shallow black receptacle is for keys. When used properly The Car Key Gnomes are prevented from hiding our keys around the house. Someone in the house (I won’t say who) has yet to connect the dots car keys go into the key bowl. One often sees car keys sitting on the island literally next to the key bowl. This infuriates the other member of the household who puts them into the key bowl. This often leads to the offender wondering out loud where the heck are his keys which in turn makes the one who fixed the matter inform the miscreant his missing keys are in the key bowl where they belong which leads to physical altercations that if this keeps going will lead to murders and suicide.*  The only defense for the one who doesn’t put keys in the proper place is The Key Bowl is rawther full. This is surprising as there ought to be only four sets:

Keys to the Elantra (my car).

Keys to The Precious (Someone’s convertible).

Keys to the backyard gate.

Spare key for the front door for any houseguests and gentlemen callers.

At last look there are nearly a dozen sets on various key rings.

We may have our differences as to where to put down the keys (one of us just wrong) but we both wonder how did all these keys get there. I have an urge to throw out the keys that don’t seem to have any value – perhaps they are from old cars or bicycle locks – but you know what will happen.  As soon as they are tossed a week later we will need to unlock something only to realize the key is gone. I think this weekend I may go to Home Depot and purchase some key ID tags in bright gay colors and label the ones with recognized functions. The keys of which there is no lock (sad!) will be strung on a large key ring labelled ‘WTF”. Being of a charitable nature I will donate the lot to The Car Key Gnomes who can move them around the house to their hearts’ content. For the keys were actually use I hope to find some sort of electronic device that emits a plangent lamentation if said keys are not placed appropriately in The Key Bowl.  For a while La Casa de Spo will resemble an orchestra of scorched cats until the offender finally learns to use The Key Bowl.

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*For the sake of entertainment I’ve allowed myself one or two equivocations. Please don’t write in.

Someone thinks I’ve joined The Society of Tinfoil Hats as I worry about the dastardly deeds done by Google, Facebook, and other internet hegemonies. I regularly report what I’ve heard about these villains from listening to tech-based podcasts. These on-line miscreants have infiltrated our phones and are selling our data etc. Someone doesn’t deny these aren’t happening but takes the ‘this is no surprise and you shouldn’t have anything to hide anyway” approach. In contrast I am outraged. Deception and being duped matters creep up my neck like a hot hands. It burns my bacon thems at Facebook are watching everything I say and like and are selling it to marketers and/or the authorities. I use Duck Duck Go rather than Google and I turn off cellphone options so Mr. Jobs* and his ilk won’t gather information – on my data no less!

The internet has been overall a bust and I vote to pull the plug on it all. We should have asked a few questions before we all became connected like the Borg. Negativity spreads faster than truth. It is no surprise rather than everyone becoming enlightened through the universal sharing of knowledge the internet has allowed the wing-nuts to gather together to form living and (worse) influential entities. Thanks to WWW folks like the flat-Earthers, anti-vaxxers, thems into unfluorinated water, and the global warming deniers are organized and (worse) running things.

Another ‘what were we thinking?” hindsight is making things on the internet free, which makes it all dependent on advertising. This would be OK if they were up front about things but for their nasty means to manipulate us is Evil incarnate.

Our monkey brains are wired to take in facial expressions, body language, and voice nuances of voice as the main means to communicate.  Written word only texts and emails don’t evoke the inhibitions necessary to assuage us from going towards anxiety or paranoia. Emojis help some but they are not enough.  I wonder if the youngsters now growing up are the first generation failing to learn how to ‘read people’ in real life.  What a horror if this is so.

Next up on the Spo-edition of The Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Internet Indulgences is the proliferation of scam and con-artists which pop up as frequently as the ads. By now I don’t trust email contents, When I get one I often call the sender to ask if this is really from them. This seems to annoy some but I point out it is to our mutual welfare to ascertain it isn’t a scam. One of my correspondences has learned it is better just to call me about things – which is fine by me.

A pharmaceutical representative is coming to convince me to use a generic medication  now packaged back into a brand-name ensconced into some tracking device that sends me (and them apparently) information via the internet to tell how often the Rx bottle is actually being opened and if the pill was ingested. My soul swoons at the many objections this conjures up in me.  Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than play Big Brother watching patient’s compliance while their data is being sent via Wifi to the Pharm Company who is probably going to sell this information to someone(s).  The Other Doctor tells me when we meet with these reps to just smile, eat the food, and keep my mouth shut – and leave behind in my office the tin foil hat.

*I know he is dead; please don’t write in.  In my defense deleting something like your membership or data anywhere online is doubtful that this makes it really go away. Everything on line is permanent. If stuff  doesn’t disappear who says Steve-Wonder isn’t around lurking around like Ghosts in the Machine ?  It could happen.

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Saturday night last my iPhone suddenly lost 3/4 of its telephone numbers. My first thought was The Rapture had occurred and my most of my contacts had been lifted up along with their data.*  On Sunday morning while Someone was away working I tried to restore the phone via the computer. At the end of this two hour ordeal the iPhone ‘froze’ with its white apple logo glowing bright against the black obsidian screen. No matter what I tried to do I could not turn it on or off. As Beckett says in “Waiting for Godot”: nothing to be done. It would be a day without a cellphone. 

I immediately worried how I was going to do my job as my phone generates six-digit numbers needed to write prescriptions.  Then I realized I would not be able to do my Duolingo lessons ruining my 130 day streak.  What a let down.

I felt isolated; no one could call or text me. This was quite pleasant and felt almost liberating. Normally my phone continually broadcasts podcasts or medical lectures or tunes. Suddenly it was quiet. Every sound I made seemed to echo throughout the house. Doing things in silence is something not familiar to me; it was simultaneously unsettling and soothing. 

Eventually Someone came home and he got right to trying to fix the situation although a good part of me was quite content to wait until an appointment could be made at The Genius Bar at Apple in Scottsdale – preferably Labor Day weekend. My ‘day without cellphone’ turned into a ‘day trying to fix the cellphone’.  He looked up a solution of pushing three buttons on the phone in a certain sequence. Alas, no such luck. The bright white Apple logo just sat like a sphinx. Eventually he found someone on line with whom I could text on the laptop.

I don’t know who is “Jovan” or where he/she lives/works but he quickly told me to push three buttons on my phone in a certain sequence. To my amazement this worked right away. I wanted to defend myself we had already tried this so what the hell but rather I gave him a good rating as being more brilliant than I.

All my contacts are back in the phone – another Armageddon day debunked. I was relieved but saddened to see no one that day had tried calling or texting in a frenzy trying to get hold of me to see if I had died or something.  

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. I had a nostalgic pre-cellphone day and I didn’t die from ‘fear of missing out’. I also discovered Duolingo is assessable via a website and this goes much better than via the phone.

I think I will schedule some times to turn it off for the peace and quiet of it all. 

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*It was fascinating to see who had been ‘raptured’ and who was left behind. I deduced the actual Rapture hadn’t occurred as many of my blogger buddies were among the ones who had disappeared and they are no more like to be raptured than I am likely to be taking confessions at St. Peter’s. 

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Time is a topic often written upon here at Spo-reflections. Spo-fans know I am fascinated – obsessed? – with Time, especially how it is spent and how fast it goes.  My last week whizzed by like a rocket even though nothing particularly exciting occurred. Indeed it was a very predictable mundane seven days. Now it’s Sunday afternoon and I face Monday I am again experiencing the concept of zenosyne: the emotional sensation Time is accelerating as we age. 

There is some neurological data to support the concept older folks feel Time goes faster than when they were young. As we age our neurons slow down a bit. If you ask a young person to guess to count off a minute’s time they tend to get it right more often than an oldster who tends to think time slower only to feel wow time is going faster than I thought.  

Anyone who has ever been on a vacation or having fun knows Time then goes quickly. In contrast Time drags when we are feeling bored or afraid.* There is data to suggest repetition also makes for a sense of zenosyne – like in my mundane mentioned work week. Novelty requires our attention and slows things down.  It seems forever to learn to speak a new language or play an instrument. 

I tend to see zenosyne as a negative thing, an acceleration of a car trip going towards death which is coming on faster than ever.  Let’s look at this. Zenosyne is correlated to being in the moment of something pleasurable like traveling or seeing a good movie). Time going faster is correlated with repetition without boredom or fear.  Aren’t these signs of having a good life?  Rather than wondering what the hell happened that I am already at the start of another week I could see it as a good sign of living life well. Zenosyne: your life feels short but not in a bad way. 

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*These are fearful times particularly if you live in The States.  I wonder if this will slow down our national sense of zenosyne any? On the other hand we are never bored anymore as everyone just whips out their phones when faced with nothing-to-do-waiting-for-something times.  Let’s see which way predominates.

As I sort through my accordion file of torn-out recipes I ponder the history of food. These clippings come from a variety of food magazines ranging from ‘Good Housekeeping’ (simple) to ‘Gourmet’ (hoity-toity). They also range in time going from the late 80s to the mid-aughts. The contents and the styles of these recipes fascinate me.  I wonder about the writers and editors and why they wrote what they did.  GH recipes have short direct recipes: they focus on simplicity and quickness. In contrast ‘Gourmet’ recipes are very detailed in their instructions and they often use a lot of ingredients – many coming with the advice what ethnic store or on-line distributor has that ingredient of which you have never heard of.  I have the terrible intuition the readers of Gourmet don’t make these recipes themselves but give them to ‘the help’ to make. Gourmet recipes seem geared to a professional cook while those in GH speak directly to Mrs. Housewife.

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Spo-fans recall I collect cookbooks. For a while I focused on Church Ladies cookbooks (Midwestern, mostly). Presently I am intrigued with NASCAR cookbooks. I have never been to a NASCAR event but in these culinary tomes I see NASCAR’s evolution (and decline). The early cookbooks have grassroots blue collar good-ole-girl recipes loaded with directions such as “Must serve with Bud Lite!” or “Must use real mayo!”. The later ones look corporation driven. Their recipes look ‘classy’ – and useless. The recipes of the latter year NASCAR cookbooks sound impossible to make in a tailgate party; they seem more appropriate for The Santa Fe Opera not a race track.

I have a vague childhood memory my female progenitors spent hours not minutes preparing our meals. They started early and they worked slowly like members of a orchestra playing a lengthy symphony towards the finale that was dinner. They were not in any rush; the preparation wasn’t meaningless but a time to talk and socialize. If these warm and fuzzy memories are true* they are not wanted by today’s folks.

Betty Crocker or one of her minions regularly sends me emails with links to her site. BC recipes are variations on the theme of dishes one puts together in little time. “Five skillet dinners you can do in a jiffy”. They are inexpensive and they have maybe 3-4 ingredients at most (no spice).

Someone and I continue to subscribe to Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. These Coke and Pepsi products of the home delivery meal kits have slowly evolved from ‘fancy exotic dishes” towards the Betty Crocker model. Before they tell you their contents they say how many minutes this takes to make. In order to appeal recipes these days need to be plain, quick, and no-fuss – like my men.

I still dream of retirement or free time to do forgo my Good Housekeeping approach to spend an hour or two slowly working through a Gourmet magazine dish. This symbolizes all that is good in life: learning, sensory pleasure, dining/socializing with others, but most of all time – time to spend as a I please, which in my life means a well planned out meal where the journey is just as important as the end.

 

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*I wasn’t there. Attempts to enter the kitchen to have a look-see or learn or just watch was met by a chorus of pugnacious aunts telling me to get out of the kitchen. I had crashed a mystery cult; as a male I was not invited. Too bad this. I would have loved to learn to cook and to hear the family stories not lost.

Drat! Love, life, and work (says Freud) is getting in the way of blogging. Here is an entry I’ve been working on for a while. I decided to serve it half-baked rather than fully-cooked. Let’s put down where the goats can graze and see what becomes of it. A proper entry comes anon……

This morning I am caught up at work with my notes and dictation hooray for our side! and at home the house is clean and all blogs are read. It’s good to see things settled – temporarily. No doubt by day’s end there I will have a fresh load of things to do and finish. This stuff never ends. I recall an artwork film set in Japan about a couple who live at the bottom of a sandy pit. They spend their days removing the sand that continually spills down overnight into their hut. The man is initially enraged by this repetitive but vital daily routine but by the end of the film he has found peace with it. It is not clear if he has grown wise or he’s cracked up.

So much of Life (mine anyway) consists of doing the same things over and over. Is this ‘good’?  Sometimes I think yes and sometimes no. Henry Plantagenet (number two of the name) said (maybe) “There is no point asking if the air is any good when there is nothing else to breathe”.  I don’t think I need novelty on a daily basis but it would be nice to have a few atypical days of impromptu or surprise.  Our monkey brains need familiarity but they also crave curiosity. We interrupt the prayer give us our day our daily banana to have a plantain or perhaps a piece of cold pizza.

Now that I’ve concluded the reading of Pepys diary I can move on to new reads. Last night I started reading some collection of modern comical essays only to stop and pause to reflect upon the situation: while the contents are different the stencil remains the same viz. reading at bed time.

Perhaps it is time to do some emotional acting out. A woman from my grandmother’s time told me when a woman tires of herself she changes the way she does her hair or she hires a new cook or she redecorates the house but a man never thinks of anything so simple. He could redo his office but usually he needs to see a new self in the mirror of some younger woman’s eyes.  This doesn’t sound like advice I would particularly care to take as I doubt its efficacy. I am too sensible to buy a sports car or sell the house and move to Oregon and become a potter. I suppose I will have to take comfort and find solace in the rhythm of daily doings.  Henry II says to keep breathing regardless.

“Enough about food!” said the email from Herbert The Great.* I’ve been ordered to lay off the subjects of food, walking the dog, shirts, and office shenanigans. This doesn’t give me much to write about. I could say something about my attempt to lose weight – again – but I’m certain that too will cause lamentations in the Halls of Heorot Jr.

I am in the market to buy a Kobold. Thems who aren’t familiar with Kobolds: they are a sort of elf-fairy-folk who live and work in mines, particularly German ones. Amazon.com has several miniature figurines of the sort used in Dungeons & Dragons but that’s not what I am looking for.  I want a proper Kobold  – no rubbish and no Knocker. My favorite watering hole in town is Kobalt which is named after the color which is named after the ore and/or the Kobolds. These things get rawther intertwined. I figured if I could get one of these fine fellows (who are well under four feet) to work at the bar he could help up the waitstaff and tidy up under the tables (with an occasional ‘goose’ to the patrons).  Goodness knows thems that work at Kobal could use the help. Since the ’50s the mining industry here in Arizona has gone to pot so there must be scores of out of work Kobolds in need of gainful employment to prevent them from idle and wanton destroyment. It is a win-win situation.  Maybe some of these Tommyknocker-types have bartending skills and can make me a decent aviation cocktail which is sorely lacking in the current bartenders. Oh the pain.

On the other hand I shouldn’t be too glib about the goblin-folk. They the type to take kindly to disrespect or ill treatment. Imagine some drunken queen accidently or purposely kicking a Kobold under the Kobalt table! Suddenly all the drinks taste off or the place catches fire or (worse!) it turns into a biker bar. Perhaps I should just get one of Mr. Benzo’s Kobold figurines to sit among the bottles of booze like a sinister Elf on the Shelf.  “Geezus am I drunk or is there an ugly little man peering at me from behind the Hendrik’s?” If the Kobold at Kobalt thing doesn’t work out I can bring him home to join the gallimaufry of goblins at La Casa de Spo. He can manage the rock lawn.

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*Herbert recently added “The Great” to his electronic signature. He also uses ‘HTG’. I don’t remember TBHSR voting him this titular title so I suspect it is self-dubbed. The ancient Germanic word for “The Great’ is probably better translated as “The Pretty Good” Either way it has the same letters.

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Our friend Doug (who is well over four feet) came on Sunday for a day-visit on his way home from his convention in Tucson. He’s a good cook and his ‘signature dish’ is his salsa. His recipe consists of diced Roma tomatoes, tomatillos, a red onion, 1-2 small cans (tins) of tomato sauce, chopped cilantro (lots), and one habanero which he cuts wearing plastic shopping bags over his hands.  Given its relative lack of liquid The Doug Salsa is almost a salad more than a salsa. We made enough to feed an emerging new nation. Afterwards we went out to dinner to allow it to ‘set’. We came back from supper quite crapulous and we ate no salsa. He left this morning and I have a ponderous punchbowl of salsa in the fridge. This is not a bad thing.

One cannot live in The Southwest without salsa. It is everywhere. Bowls of the stuff are thrust upon you in restaurants, some taking great pride in theirs being ‘proper’. Most supper invites involve serving salsa with the drinks.  Happily there are many variations and they don’t lack variety.  I like the ones made with fresh vegetables and chilies like the one Doug makes.  Someone prefers the more-runny stuff out of a jar as it is easier to spread into a wraps.

With salsa there is always the question about heat. Salsa needs some or it is just gazpacho (and not a good one either). Over time I have developed a tolerance to heat; food tastes bland for me if it isn’t covered in hot sauce or salsa (no nasty ketchup for me thank you very much!).* Making salsa for others is a careful craft as I don’t want others to fry their tongues out. The medicinal oath of ‘do no harm’ holds well when making salsa.

Salsas are a healthy alternative to cheese and mayonnaise-based dips. What mars their virtue is their sidekick the chips. Nasty chips! Jung said every Light has its Shadow. Salsa just has to have chips and there’s no getting around it. Everything about chips is bad but can you think of an alternative? **  Pita and other breadstuffs are a wimpy failures as they don’t provide the necessary crunch and hardness to counterpoint the composition of the salsa. Vegetables sticks provide the crunch but interfere with the salsa flavors and they don’t scoop well.

This being ‘an austere August”  I am to eat right and lose weight. This demands I adjure all nasty chips and just eat the salsa out of a bowl using a spoon. Doug’s salsa will be eaten with relish and perhaps with a drop of Da Bomb now that it’s all mine and no one will be hurt for it.

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*I have met my match in two sauces: Melinda’s Ghost pepper hot sauce and Da Bomb. Oh the pain. One drop is enough for strong men to faint and weak ones cry out in grief.

**Spo-fans who know a solution to the chip problem: please mention so in the comments.

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This was my journal entry for last night: 

2 August, 2019 – 

Mighty proud I am that I am able to write here I have finished the diary of Samuel Pepys. It took years to read and often it vexed me but in the end it pleased me very much. And now to bed.

What a job !

I now have the quiet satisfaction to say to myself and the world (if it should ever ask me) I have read Mr. Pepys diary.  Book readers are on the whole a little nuts and I am no exception. Everyone has their own list of ‘books to read” of course but many include among the ‘want to reads’ a few ‘ought to reads’ of infamous lofty tomes everybody knows but few actually read. Lovers of literature see them in the same way as mountaineers view the Matterhorn.  They are there to climb and say you did so.

Here’s the usual list; the ones I’ve set in bold type I have read. *

The Bible

The Iliad and the Odyssey 

Don Quixote 

The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Les Miserables 

War and Peace

Moby Dick

Remembrance of things past  – or whatever they are calling it these days

Ulysses

TooManyBooks The trouble with the likes of these is they are bloody long and time consuming; they interfere with reading lighter fare. They are often read more for the point of reading them than to enjoy them. There have been many times I’ve waded through a ‘great book’ like a mountain man in a snowstorm who knows there is no turning back and to just stop is fatal. This is a horrible reason to keep reading anything but these are the exception. The chief point of a journey through Balzac or Dickens or one of that crowd is to say you’ve done so and say it with pride at the next dinner party when someone brings them up.**

All the same I will miss my nightly bedtime tryst with Mr. Pepys. Although he was often wordier than Dickens he’s been a fine friend. He reminds me I should do something about my own diaries piled up next to the ‘to-read’ books (also gathering dust) lest ‘the public’ gets its paws on them like did with Mr. Pepys.   Oh the embarrassment! 

What’s next to read we wonders. I suppose I can get caught up on some lighter ‘fun’ reads that have been gathering dust on the ‘to-read’ shelf for what seems like ages. Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ may be the best palate cleanser after years of eating heavy British boiled beef and before I bite into ‘War and Peace’. 

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*Spo-fans who are book-nerds are free to leave in the comment section any great works of literature I may have forgotten. 

**Fat chance of that. 

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