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Category: Humans

Internot
Sorry if I’m a bit late with this news, but I guess I was asleep at the switch. It’s about buying stuff on the internet. We shouldn’t do it.

I know. I should have said something back in the 90s. I remember ordering my first iMac (a teal egg-shaped wonder) online and having it arrive the next day on my doorstep. It was cheaper than I could have gotten it at a store, and there was no driving, parking, or interacting with strangers. A miracle delivered by our modern age!

Part of me knew then that it was all too good to be true. There would be some price to pay for this miracle, some reckoning to balance the scales. But I was too smitten by the ease of the transaction to listen to the warning signals. I did not want to question my good luck.

But now, twenty-plus years later, the bill has come due. Brick-and-mortar outlets are withering, malls are collapsing, globalization is in full swing, and the robots are coming for us. I’m not saying that this is the end of western civilization, but I am hinting at it very strongly.

We are all responsible for the pickle we find ourselves in, but allow me to confess my own complicity. I was seduced, as I have said, and it has taken me two decades to face up to what I have done. I could take all the goods I have foolishly acquired, haul them to the dump, and start fresh, but that seems extreme. Besides, I just got my latest iMac, and I love it.

Which is part of the problem. I’m pretty far into this thing now, and almost every purchase has been perfectly satisfactory. Refunds and exchanges have been easy, too, deepening my dependence on this brave new system. But enough of my excuses. I’m sorry. For the lost jobs, for the cratering of civilization, for the extinction of the human race. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

But I’m keeping the new iMac.

Sorry.
The Joy of 6
I love six.

There, I’ve said it. Not only do I think that six is the most beautiful number, I genuinely care for it. And I dare to feel that six likes me back.

Six (or 6, as it likes to be called) may be matched in its attractiveness by nine, but that number projects an aggressive sexuality that I find off-putting. Others might disagree, I suppose. The eye of the beholder, especially when it’s upside down, is mysterious in its preferences.

Zero (whom no one would ever dare to address as 0) is also beautiful in its own way, but to my eye it is an aloof kind of beauty, one that does not need or want the admiration of others. It may not, in fact, even be a number at all, but I am not here to quibble about mathematics. Aesthetics is what concerns me…that, and the deep, undeniable physical attraction I feel for this lovely integer.

No, I am not thinking about having sex with 6. That is not only sick, but also dimensionally infeasible. Our bond is not about carnal knowledge. (Though I will admit to once trying to calculate 6’s cube root in my head. I got to 1.81712059 before realizing that what I was doing was wrong. I have no apologies, however, for my sweet daydreams of computing long, long, long division with 6 until there is no remainder left.) What we have, you see, is much more than the sum of its parts. It is a spiritual thing, and it cannot be reduced to mere numbers — even though one of us is one.

Now, you might be thinking, “What about other numbers? Don’t you think three is pretty hot?” Well yes, of course, but it’s not really the kind of number I want to bring home to the parents. Three is certainly worthy of love, as any number is, but I can’t imagine us in any kind of long-term relationship, mathematical or otherwise.

None of the other digits really match up that well with my needs either. Maybe I’m just a straight arrow, but two and five are just too squirrelly for my taste. They’re curvy one moment, angular the next, turning one way then the other. I need a number I can count on, something solid, and yes, safe. Number one is too self-absorbed for me to risk attachment, seven is too dangerous, four is half bent, and eight is just too much number for little old me.

No, it’s got to be 6. I want to be near to 6 and to hold it close, to cherish and protect it from the cruelty of this world. I love 6, and I know in my heart that the feeling is mutual (or at least roughly congruent).
Taking a Stand
Maybe I’m just a crabby tourist. That would certainly make sense, since I’m crabby when I’m home alone watching the tube.

The grievance I want to discuss, however, is about more than just my level of gruntlement. As proof, I point to the particularity of my travel crabbiness. It is never directed toward the locals, but almost always at my fellow tourists. Furthermore, it centers on just one dispepticizing offense.

Standing in the doorway. I repeat — which is what I began to do out loud after two weeks abroad — “standing in the do-o-o-orwa-a-ay.” I don’t think my growls actually registered on these folks because they were standing — utterly transfixed and oblivious to their fellow humans — in the goddam doorway.

It is only natural, when encountering some new situation, to pause and survey the scene while getting one’s bearings. Yes, perfectly natural, but so is farting. The challenge is to act naturally while also thinking of others. I even get their temporary disconnection with those around them. But that’s still no excuse. As with cutting the cheese in an elevator (natural though that may be), you should be mindful of others and for Pete’s sake (and mine) not just stand there in the doorway. Please, thank you, safe travels my friend.

Not only were those people standing in my way, they were standing in the way of everyone lined up behind me who wanted to use the doorway for its paramount purpose: moving from one space into another. It might be a good place to stop and gawk, but that usage undermines the whole door concept.

The example that still preys on my mind came at the railway station in Segovia. I don’t know if she was also farting at the same time, but that would have been consistent with her mindset: blank. The train had stopped, and many of its passengers, including me and my nemesis, wished to get off. She and her luggage were among the first to descend to the platform, and I was right behind. As her feet hit the ground, however, she seemed struck dumb. She put down her suitcases and began a slow scan of the train station.

I guess it wasn’t a classic example of standing in the doorway, but the principle was the same. She blocked the only way off the train for me and the increasingly impatient travelers behind me. It took some tricky footwork to squeeze by her, and my completely insincere “excuse me” seemed to awaken her from her reverie. She stepped slightly aside, but even then I saw no recognition from her that she had erred. Instead, she seemed offended that I dared to get ahead of her in line.

Which only made my relative gruntletude that much worse. Indeed, it chafes at me even now, and the fact that it does further exacerbates my feelings of aggrievement. She has long forgotten the boorish American who cut her off in Segovia; I seem destined to keep the memory alive indefinitely.

Maybe those are the wages of crabbiness. I guess I should accept that. No matter how just my complaint, I am forced to carry the burden of it with me — which makes me the perpetual loser and notches another victory for all my tormenters.

And that really pisses me off.
When the Worm Turns
I would offer this blog as a clarion call to arms, but I know that I would be ignored. Besides, I don’t even own a clarion.

My call would be ignored because the object of my concern is being heralded as a godsend solution to one of humanity’s greatest problems: too much plastic. Plastic is more than a nuisance; its proliferation is seen as a threat to all that is natural and good in the world. As anyone who has visited the Gyre recently can tell you, that swirling, Texas-sized mass of plastic waste in the middle of the Pacific is now approaching Alaskan dimensions. It’s scary.

Reliable sources are breathlessly reporting that we might be saved from this tide of man-made garbage by a wondrous little creature that just loves the taste of good polyethylene: galleria mellonella, known to its friends as the parasitic waxworm.

Not the most endearing of names, perhaps, but who cares if it will gobble up the Gyre, shrink the local landfill, and bring plastic bags back to our grocery stores? And if you think of the parasitic waxworm as a cute little caterpillar which matures into the lovely-sounding galleria mellonella moth, it doesn’t sound quite so menacing.

Still, you might want to consider this question: what happens when all the plastic is gone? We will have gone down the path of fostering a massive breeding program of these parasites in the name of the environment. Fine. But these worms (or cuddly caterpillars, if you wish) are in plain truth repulsive, death-white caricatures of bug-ugliness, and they will be everywhere. Imagine, if you will, a world writhing and waist-deep in larvae, consuming everything in their path. The ranks of the mellonella moths (which are not nearly so pretty as their name) will have swollen enormously as well, perhaps into the many trillions. Their flutterings could well fill the skies and black out the sun as they seek out new sources of plastic and anything else they can lay their mandibles on. When they’re not laying eggs, that is.

Now, I don’t want to scare anyone. Everything will probably turn out for the best. Check the labels on all your clothing, though. If these things ever get started on that Patagonia fleece shell you’re wearing, they may not know when to stop. As I have said, however, it is unlikely that you will ever actually be devoured by a surging mass of polyethylene-crazed parasitic waxworms. The odds are very low of that happening, at any rate. 50-50 tops.

To be on the safe side, though, I’d advise you to keep that clarion handy. Not that it will be much help if all humanity has been wiped out by the parasitic waxworms.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee