You Better, You Better, You Bet

coke-vs-pepsi

O Great God CONFORMITY, give us the power to make everyone else, just like us!

conformity

Yea, verily, in the beginning was the EGO. And the EGO begat an Opinion.  And the Opinion fed upon the EGO, and the EGO raised up the Opinion, until it was greater than Creation itself.

fixing-others

This was going to be a light, fluffy piece about the cola wars and pizza, until I realized how serious and ongoing this idea actually is.

The very history of the human race is a history of those with any kind of power, forcing the rest to agree with their often-incorrect opinions.

It was already old 4000 years ago, when Moses climbed a mountain. When he finally came back down with the Ten Commandments, the first thing he and his cadre of cronies did, was disobey Commandment number four – Thou Shalt Not Kill – and executed 3000 Israelites without a chance to recant, for holding an opinion that wasn’t even officially prohibited before Moses left.

The Inquisition was 500 years of torture and murder of anyone who dared stray from a very narrow religious path. The Crusades were a series of long distance religious disputes.  The Thirty Years War was not fought for riches or territory, but for the right to impose opposing Christian dogma on individuals, cities and nations.

Towns near the ever-changing line of combat could have their religious allegiances forcibly changed from Catholic, to Protestant, and back to Catholic, half a dozen times in a year. One town was known to have a number of….weirdos – vegetarians, artists, free-thinkers, Gnostics – heretics of the worst sort.  When Tilley and his forces arrived, he gave the order, “Kill them all!  Let God sort them out.”

Every man, woman and child; every dog, cat, pig and chicken was slaughtered. The town was burned and pulled down, razed to the ground till no stone stood upon another.  Thousands of innocents were slaughtered, just to ensure the elimination of a few who held contrary opinions.

Too often I’ve heard the Coke is better than Pepsi claim, or listened to gearheads argue whether Ford or Chevy is better.  When I researched for my P Is For Pizza post I was amazed at the vehemence of opinions.  Theirs was right, and everybody else was wrong.  Thick crust!  No, thin crust!  New York style!  New York sucks, Chicago style rules!

This might be understandable, if all people, and all colas, were the same, and some folks were willfully disagreeing, just to be disagreeable. To some people’s taste buds (mine included), Pepsi is refreshing, and Coke is too sweet.  It makes no sense to hold forth on whether Doc Martins are better shoes than UGGS, to a person in a wheelchair.

Other than my (often) aforementioned ‘Ego And Insecurity’, I don’t understand the driving need of so many people to foist their opinions upon others. ‘Live and Let Live’, or the Biblical, ‘Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done Unto You’ doesn’t seem to enter into the equation.

I know that none of my gentle readers would force their beliefs on others, but I’ll bet that you have seen, and been peeved by, all too many who have.  Anybody want to cite specific examples??

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Silent Treatment

alarm

THE SILENT TREATMENT
A man and his wife were having some problems at home And were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, He would need his wife to wake him At 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), He wrote on a piece of paper, ‘Please wake me at 5:00AM.’ He left it where he knew she would find it. The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn’t wakened him, When he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, ‘It is 5:00AM. Wake up.’ Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests.

WIFE VS. HUSBAND
A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs, The husband asked sarcastically, ‘Relatives of yours?’ ‘Yep,’ the wife replied, ‘in-laws.’

WORDS
A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day… 30,000 to a man’s 15,000. The wife replied, ‘The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men…. The husband then turned to his wife and asked, ‘What?’

CREATION
A man said to his wife one day, ‘I don’t know how you can be so stupid and so beautiful all at the same time. ‘The wife responded, ‘Allow me to explain. God made me beautiful so you would be attracted to me; God made me stupid so I would be attracted to you!

CIGARETTES AND TAMPONS
A man walks into a pharmacy and wanders up & down the aisles.. The sales girl notices him and asks him if she can help him. He answers that he is looking for a box of tampons for his wife.. She directs him down the correct aisle. A few minutes later, he deposits a huge bag of cotton balls and a ball of string on the counter. She says, confused, ‘Sir, I thought you were looking for some tampons for your wife? He answers, ‘You see, it’s like this, Yesterday, I sent my wife to the store to get me a carton of cigarettes, and she came back with a tin of tobacco and some rolling papers; ‘cause it’s sooo-ooo-oo-ooo much cheaper. So, I figure if I have to roll my own ………. So does she.

UNDERSTANDING WOMEN
(A MAN’S PERSPECTIVE)
I know I’m not going to understand women. I’ll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax, pour it onto your upper thigh, rip the hair out by the root, and still be afraid of a spider.

MARRIAGE SEMINAR
While attending a Marriage Seminar dealing with communication, Tom and his wife Grace listened to the instructor, ‘It is essential that husbands and wives know each other’s likes and dislikes.’ He addressed the man, ‘Can you name your wife’s favorite flower?’ Tom leaned over, touched his wife’s arm gently and whispered, ‘It’s Pillsbury, isn’t it?

 

It’s In The Jeans

DNA

…and when my Mother and Father both took their jeans off, and created me, they each contributed a fairly varied set of DNA genes to my formation.

In my ‘Who Am I?’ post, I made some educated guesses as to what races had contributed to my makeup, based on family lore, and the daughter’s research on Ancestry.ca. Last Christmas, the wife and kids got together and purchased a DNA kit for me.

After my usual several months of procrastination, I finally spit in the cup, mailed it off to Dublin, Ireland, and waited 6 to 8 weeks for the results to come back.

ancestry-dna

As you can see from the above, there are not too many surprises. Some of my genetic makeup comes from the Romans, and their Eastern Mediterranean, Greek, Turkish, non-‘Italian’ compatriots.  Some comes from the Spanish Armada fiasco, although the chart shows no African Moorish contribution, so there’s no ‘Black Scots’ in my background.

There’s a bit from here, and a bit from there. Not that I really give a damn, but my ancestors seem to be all white.  The Scandinavian input came, not only from the Norsemen raiding and invading, but from the Northern Germanic tribes, the Jutes, Angles and Saxons, who were invited by the Britons to come to the island and help repel the Norse.  They did so well at that, that they stayed, and helped themselves to the country, becoming the Anglo-Saxons.

The biggest shock was finding that 26% of my ancestral input was Irish. Despite the Scottish name of Stewart, it’s possible (probable) that my maternal Grandfather wasn’t a Scottish Pict, but an Irish Gael.  Short, stocky, dark, and always looking disapproving, it’s no wonder he had nothing good to say for Highlanders.

I had thought that the red hair that runs through the family was from Scotland, but lots of Irish colleens have red hair also. I imagine that both races have contributed to the fact that, about every third child, no matter both parents’ hair color, is red, including Strawberry-tress-adorned daughter, LadyRyl.

Flash Fiction #122

grind

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

GETTING THE RUNAROUND

His mother had told him a thousand times. His Dad had said the same thing a few times, but nothing nags like a Mother.  Stay in school! Get a diploma!  Get a good job!

He was smarter than that.  Right after high school he’d got a paying job, while the rest wasted their time and incurred debts.

Ten years later he was making auto parts, while his sister was a doctor, making triple his salary.

All he had to look forward to was the daily grind, round and round. Get up, work his ass off, come home tired – and poor.

***

This little cautionary tale is all Rochelle’s fault. Go to her Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story for the Friday Fictioneers.

 

Book Review #15

robert-a-heinlein

The Book – Robert A. Heinlein

The Author – William H. Patterson Jr.

The Review –

This is the second of a two-part complete biography of one of the most important, seminal authors (not merely of Science-Fiction) of the 20th Century.  BrainRants made me aware of Part 1 last year, and recently, another blogger reminded me that book two was available.

The complete title is, Robert A. Heinlein – In Conversation With His Century.  That needs to be remembered when accessing library or bookstore web catalogs.  Enter only ‘Robert A. Heinlein,’ and you get, We have 800 listings for Robert Heinlein, which one did you want? I want the one written by Patterson.  The sub-title of Volume 1 was ‘Learning Curve.’  The sub-title of this Volume is, ‘The Man Who Learned Better.’  It covers his career from 1948 to 1988.

For someone like me, used to reading novels, with their character development and plot twists, reading this tome was a ….learning curve. Were it not for its subject, it would be as exciting as reading a telephone book.  (Remember those?)  But this was a man who met and talked to Presidents and Prime Ministers; who awed, and was adored by, astronauts who went into space and walked on the Moon, and scientists who put them there, and a probe on Mars.

I see why those with little intellect, or lives of their own, hang on every video-provided nuance of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” The author casts a very fine net, down to what Heinlein had for breakfast on particular days. Scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee and toast on April 17, 1957.

The ‘Rich And Famous Lifestyle’ of a profoundly successful author is not all that we might imagine – or rather, it’s far more than many of us would want. Not only did Heinlein (and many like him) have to keep grinding out grist for the publishing mill, but he had to keep in constant touch with lawyers, editors, publishers and agents.

He had a New York agent, a California agent, and a European agent. There was an agent who failed to promote Heinlein’s work.  There was an over-zealous NY agent who invaded the California agent’s territory long-distance.  There were editors who revised his works without his permission, or even his knowledge in a couple of cases, completely changing the thrust of a story.

Agents sold rights to stories they were not authorized to do. Publishers printed work they had not paid for. He lost money twice in the movie industry, when projects collapsed.  One studio used creative bookkeeping to withhold payments for a successful movie, while another simply pirated his idea, and retitled it.  Which brings us back to the lawyers.

Back before the internet, he had to deal with most of this at the speed of ink. When he moved to Colorado, he was on a party-line telephone with six neighbors for over a year.  One of his later notes said that he finally had to give up helping fans with theses, term papers, and dissertations.

He corresponded with other authors, giving and receiving commendations and inspiration for story lines. Occasionally, he would pen a promo or review for another writer.  While he pumped out a stupendous amount of prose during his working life, it was far overshadowed by the mass of mundane, unpaid writing he had to do.

‘All You Zombies’ is considered one of the greatest short-stories ever written. A time-travelling hermaphrodite becomes his/her own mother, father, and child.  It was written as a submission to Playboy Magazine, who turned it down – because of the implied sex??!

As a way to give back to a country he cared very much for, Heinlein did at least two important things. He promoted and supported NASA, and the space program.  While many civilians complained about the waste of money, Heinlein knew that every dollar invested in NASA returned $14 to the economy – and that was even before the Silicon Valley bubble, powered by the newly developed micro-processors.

He had had a variety of medical afflictions over the years, and had a very rare blood type. His life had been saved at least twice by transfusions provided by the Rare Blood Association.  He established grassroots blood donor clinic organizations, and he helped make the likes of Rare Blood, and the American Red Cross stronger and more efficient, donating both expertise and money.

While the book could seem dry and tedious, the life of the man it revealed was just awe-inspiring. I am glad I spent the time and patience.  I highly recommend the pair.

A To Z Challenge – S

april-challenge

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS

letter-s

I want to discuss my ancestors, but the above title is a lie. Upstairs/Downstairs was a British TV series dealing with the various goings-on of the upper-crust, upper-floor rich folk in a mansion, and the serving class below them, both physically and socially, who provided their every whim and wish.

My forebears didn’t live in no stinkin’ mansion, making tea, and cucumber sandwiches for effete dilettantes.   My folks have been industrious, productive people for hundreds of years.  They were ‘blue-collar’ long before blue collars existed.  A more accurate title might be Manor-House/Mill-house – and never the twain shall meet.

My father’s name (and mine) was Smith.  His progenitors originally were productive German artisans named Schmied.  Over many years, the name changed to Schmidt, and was carried to the newly-born United States of America by a Hessian mercenary, paid by the British.  After another hundred years, it got Anglicized to Smith.

Smith is a proud name, and a proud profession. It originally meant, one who produces, makes or manufactures something. Then the language changed so that it meant, a worker in metal.  Finally, the meaning narrowed to just the blacksmith, who pounds hot iron and steel.

I like to think of myself as a wordsmith.  I received blacksmith training in my high school shop class.  (Yes, I lived that far out in the sticks, and back in the mists of time.)  Blacksmith is making a comeback, both through the custom knife and sword makers, and artisans who supply millennial hipsters with hand-made gate latches, coat-racks, porch rails and coffee tables.

My mother’s side of the family supplied the name Stewart.  This is a Scottish name from the English word steward, meaning, one who takes take of something.  The spelling of this name also slipped a bit, to Stuart, and a branch of the clan became the Royal Stuarts, ruling, and ‘taking care of’, Scotland.

Before he emigrated from Glasgow to Canada, my maternal grandfather became the ‘Keeper of the Tartans’ at the fabric mill where he worked. He was the steward of the patterns of the plaids which clothed a good portion of the country.

letter-s-super

All in all, I think maybe this is the S that I should have chosen for this post.  I’m impressed with my family history.  How about you?  😎