According to Cute Overload.com, little Sooty here was rescued from the side of the road. The folks who are raising him are planning on setting him free as soon as he can fly. I imagine that even after he has grown into a loud and rowdy raven, they will have a hard time letting him go after investing so much time and care in his upbringing.
I know a little bit about baby birds, so let me tell you what raising one entails. This little guy will need to be keep warm, dry, and away from drafts, so he will probably need to live in an aquarium with a heating pad for the first 6-8 weeks. His bedding will need to be changed a couple times a day. He is probably eating a mushy formula that has to be mixed up and heated to birdy body temperature before each feeding, and fed to him in a syringe. He will need to be fed about every two hours at first, around the clock. Once he is larger, he will have to be weaned off the formula and introduced to solid foods. This may mean actually gathering worms, grubs, insects, and other things that he will find in the wild. He'll need to be allowed to test out his wings as he grows, so this means giving him supervised exercise time everyday. Taken as a whole, it's a lot like raising a child, but on a much shorter timeframe - he'll probably be ready for the world in about 6-8 months.
So after all of that time and dedication, the good people who rescued him will set him free. I'm sure there will be doubt and hand wringing, but they know that this is the best thing for him. They also have the benefit of knowing from the outset that he will only be with them a short time. Through all of the early morning feedings and the poop clean-up, they know that this time is finite, and they are gently preparing themselves to let him go.
When we force ourselves to face it, all of this is finite. We have this life and no more; we have this day and no more. At some point, everything must be let go. Our friends, our jobs, our children, our lovers, our pets - all must be let go some day. We all know this, and yet most of us fail to prepare. At the end of our lives very few of us will be prepared to let it all go - and we could very logically ask, "Why didn't you make ready? You had a whole lifetime to do it."
Preparing for change is our great procrastination. When a friend moves away, a pet dies, or a child grows up, we somehow manage to be surprised by it, even though we know it is all inevitable. There just doesn't seem to be a really good time to contemplate impermanence - until we are facing death, and then it's probably too late. We pretend there is plenty of time for this sort of thinking, but what we really mean is we won't make time for this kind of thinking.
"But Linus," you may say, "this kind of thinking is really damn depressing." True, at first, but continued contemplation of the impermanence of, well, every damn thing, yields a certain grace. It gives us the proper footing when the inevitable comes to pass. It allows us to be gentle with ourselves and others when the pain of change is great. If you are the type who is motivated by gentility, then you can see this preparedness as a form of good manners. It is, after all, bad form to be graceless in the face of change. It makes the change worse for those around you, and all that wailing and gnashing of teeth won't aid you either.
Most importantly, contemplating impermanence gives us a heightened ability to wring every last drop of joy from each moment. We are made to appreciate living all the more, when we see that nothing can escape change. When Sooty takes wing there may well be tears, but I like to think that his foster parents will have made the most of his time with them, simply because they knew he was soon to be leaving them. That knowledge will have sweetened the days for them, and they can let him go with a minimum of regret.
On average, we've each got about 75 years to get ready. Are you making good use of the time?
Go in Peace.
I have commented before on the pitiful state of theatre today, but deep down I harbored a tiny spark of hope. I mean, theatre is an ancient human institution - a few turkeys on stage won't undo the millenia of development since Aeschylus first dreamed of tragedies that glorified that gods, right?
In light of recent events, I'm not so sure.
At Rachel's birthday, I was chatting with her normally quite sensible younger sister. Somehow, the topic of musicals came up, and we began discussing the merits of various movie versions of classic shows. At some point, she indicated that she preferred Gerard Butler to Michael Crawford. While I explained that Butler's voice lacked the power and refinement of Mr. Crawford's, I struggled to maintain my composure; I could feel the aforementioned spark waning. A few moments later, she dealt my hope another blow - she stated, quite seriously, that she preferred Antonio Banderas to Mandy Patinkin in "Evita." After much stunned sputtering, I said, "Next you're going to tell me that you prefer Madonna to Patti Lupone!" She said, "Patti who?"
I believe I wept.
If you have ever seen a classical tragedy on stage, you are familiar with the feeling that things simply can't get any worse. And then they do.
I received an email from one of the cyber-faithful (Kim D) that crushed the last dregs of hope from my withered, blackened heart. She knew that I would want to know about the following two new musicals, due out later this year...
Legally Blonde - The Musical.
Evil Dead: The Musical.
If I were Oedipus, it would be time to gouge my own eyes out with my mom's jewelry...
Here I am confined, 8 hours per day. It is spartan, efficient, and decorated in varying shades of institutional beige. The illegitimate result of a drunken menage a troi between brown, yellow, and grey, beige is a bastard color, suitable only for seatcovers in bingo halls where elderly Catholic women gamble away their Social Security checks "for the good of the parish." It covers my workspace like a saggy ace bandage on a homeless veteran's wartorn limbs. When I snap, it will not be a gun that I bring to work; no, I will arrive armed with a selection of spray paints, in bright, primary colors. I warn those who view this picture and feel compelled to tell me that it is actually ecru, taupe, putty, or any other color whose name was derived from the French language - I will break two size 12s off in your ass for that.
(Yes, there is a game on my screen - my captors try to be kind - but it is a crappy low-res game from the 80s.)
At odd intervals, random strangers come to my cell and thrust unknown papers at me. They must be stamped, logged, filed, and delivered to other cells for further stamping, logging, and filing - the papers, not the strangers. I never know what new puzzle they may devise for me - tax returns, satisfactory academic progress appeals, marriage licenses, W-2s, title IV authorizations, master promissory notes; their cunning knows no bounds. If only the Human Resources manual didn't forbid the use of my Sith powers...
Twice per day I prepare the outgoing mail, and twice per day I open the incoming mail. These too must be stamped, logged, filed, and delivered. The mail carriers delight in sending us things that should not come to us. Envelopes plainly addressed to other departments, catalogs for Sierra Trading Post and a host of other retailers, and my personal favorite - collection notices for people who decided to give Knight Hall as their fictitious address.
But it's not all bad. I can, at virtually any moment I wish, lift my head for a lovely view of the similarly embeiged Registrar's counter.
Is "embeiged" a word? Not until I stamp it and log it and file it.
In other news, this is post number 397. So far, the suggestions for #400 include a supernatural event, a RevRant, storytime, pr0n, death poetry, a rant about pr0n, and icky yaoi pr0n involving dolls. I am still taking suggestions, but pr0n seems to be the popular trend...
Note: Linus is actually quite glad to be working again, but the author of this post, Darth Furious, is not amused.
I just got home and I feel...
OK, so it wasn't that bad, but my brain is mush. I am not someone who excels at remembering names, and they introduced me to about 30 people today. In addition to that, there seems to be no actual training program for this position - I think the job is learned by osmosis. They are in the process of switching from one computer system to another, so the office is straddling the two, and neither is fully functional at the moment. I assume that it will all become clear before too long, but at the moment it's a maze.
I have a small book's worth of loan, grant, and scholarship info to digest tonight. I actually feel more like doing this...
I've seen some great sights this past week. Here are a few in no particular order:
- Mark and Tessa going off to be grown-ups.
Mark's new job took them both to Elko, Nevada this week, They'll be moving there soon, and they have an expectant air about them. After so many years of starving as college students, they are about to actually have money and a real life. They look so... adult.
- My Sea Devil in the air.
Unfortunately, it was a very brief vision. We didn't really have favorable wind conditions (so still no pics), but Jim and I had to fly. His new Spirit quad line looked great during it's first brief flights as well.
- Ajax standing on one foot, waving with the other.
We had a communication breakthrough of sorts, and not only is he understanding some physical tricks that he didn't get before, he is finally trying new foods. He now tolerates banannas (which he literally threw at me before) and pine nuts are a new favorite. He seems to really want to be with me now, as opposed to just tolerating me because he has to. Parrots are complex, emotional little people, and it has taken him a long time to really be happy here. It feels like he's not just going through the motions anymore.
- Tara riding the mechanical bull outside The Buckhorn.
Oh my goodness; women like her are proof that there is a god and he loves us. That I didn't have my camera with me is a tragic loss you can't even begin to understand. I never saw rodeo as an erotic activity before... Jubilee Days has new meaning for me now.
- Several employers who actually want to hire me.
It's not that I've ever really had a hard time finding a job. It's just that this is the first time I've looked for a job since graduation, and it's a different kind of interview. Of course, they all wonder why I have a degree in Religion, but even those explanations are kind of fun. "No, I'm not a preacher - well, not in the traditional sense." I haven't quite figured out yet how to tell them that I'm less Billy Graham, and much more Jesse Custer...
The point of all this is that even though we might not be where we want to be at every moment (and you all know that I've never wanted to be in Laramie) there is wonder all around us. Sure, I'd rather be on bikini patrol in California, flying my kites in good wind and surfing a bit, but these moments are fabulous too. Look with fresh eyes in the next week - see what beauty life puts before you.
Go in Peace.
Turn and Face the Strain
So, I'm giving up my carefree rockstar lifestyle and returning to the ranks of the employed. I will begin my fabulous new position in the UW Financial Aid Office on Monday, July 17th, at the ungodly hour of 7:30 AM. It is a benefited position, and I can use the gym on campus for a nominal fee. Although it doesn't pay all that well, the monthly gross is a veritable fortune compared to what I've been living on as a student. It means no more ramen, no more rice and beans, more guitars and a buddy for Ajax...
Maybe a new amp too (this is the one I'm currently drooling over)...
I will be looking for a little place here in Laramie for Ajax and I, as the freaky commune known as Flock Hall is disintegrating. I want to rent a house (no shared walls, please) with two bedrooms that will allow me to have a bird (or two). Being close to campus would be nice as well, but location is not a major concern at this point.
These changes are not the ones I had planned on making at this time. I had hoped to leave Laramie behind, and to never face another Wyoming winter, but life rarely adheres to my plans. I guess I should stop looking at Laramie as a temporary place; my time here is still finite, but I can stop living like a student and be a grown-up again. I must register and insure my car here, get a Wyoming license, and register to vote here (I usually vote absentee in California). I'm not sure how I really feel about this development yet...
Thanks to the boys down in R&D (well, it was The Hopeless Ropmantic actually) the Ministry has raced right past audio blogging, into the realm of video. This first video post - some birds scrapping over seed at the window feeder right by Ajax's playpen - is just a test. Now that we know how to do this, we will from hence forward strive to put this technology to its best use; the posting of viral videos that make the president look stupid, and softcore nun porn.
Isn't technology grand?
For those of you keeping score at home, this post is #391. Post #400 is just around the corner, and I'm still taking suggestions on the best way to mark this momentous event. If there is something you've always wanted to see here, now is the time to ask for it...
Recently I spoke with my sister, the mother of the ludicrously cute Dark Niece. Her sailor suit was made by said mother for the 4th of July.
After the obligatory discussion of how she is pulling up now, and has some teeth coming in, we eventually touched on the topic of ridiculous baby products. My sister has done her research, and she introduced me to products that are a true tribute to the innovative mercantile spirit of the U.S. Here are some of my favorites;
For our first bit of idiocy, we have the Wipe Warmer Heated Diaper Wipe Dispenser. I'm sure we'll all rest easier knowing that infants are no longer inconvenienced by chilly diaper wipes. (When I was a kid I think they just rubbed our butts down with sandpaper and chilled lemon juice...)
Remember getting your finger stuck in the hinge of a closet door? Remember how it hurt so much that you only did that once? Well the children of today need never learn that lesson with the Door Finger Guard. It basically prevents the door from closing on their fingers, rather than teaching them to keep their damn fingers to themselves. Gosh, I just can't wait until this generation grows up...
Here's another trip down memory lane... remember when you were little and you thought that unrolling all the toilet paper on to the floor was cool? Remember how your mom spanked you for it and you stopped doing it? With the TP Saver Toilet Paper Lock, today's toddlers can forget about learning to respect the boundaries set by their parents, and focus instead on more important things like developing the manual dexterity to get this thing open. Studies show that installing toilet paper locks in your bathrooms will improve your child's ability to open childproof medicine bottles as well - what a time saver!
This one is my favorite. If you've been to the home of a toddler recently, you have probably seen the rubber bumpers that parents can now get to go around the edges of tables and other furniture. It's supposed to keep the kid from cracking his head open while learning to walk. Some poor mom got tired of trying to pad every corner in the world, so she decided to pad the kid instead...
The Bumper Bonnet is an inflatable helmet that fits children from 6-36 months. With this handy product, your child can get a headstart on being the object of other childrens' ridicule at every playdate.
Seriously folks - the skull of a toddler is made to withstand the occasional bonk. I have serious doubts about the efficacy of this product anyway - when my sister was learning to walk, she tended to face-plant into things... like the coffee table, the tv, the floor (I remember it vividly - I couldn't stop laughing). Her falls were usually halted by her chin. As you can see, this air bladder dork helmet just wouldn't have helped, but it would have been an excellent target for teasing. It's hard to fit in with the other kids when your mom dresses you like a Q-tip. Actually, like a Q-tip with blue duckies on it...
For long-time readers who have come here looking for my traditional 4th of July rant against nationalism, I'll just direct you to a previous post.
Instead, we are going to examine some of the unique 4th of July festivities going on around the country...
If you are in Memphis, you can check out the unveiling of this thing (I absolutely fucking refuse to call it a statue, as that might imply that it's "art" somehow).
To read about this monstrosity, click here.
If you're in Kenwood, CA, on the 4th you can compete in the World Pillow Fighting Championships.
Rules and more photos can be found here.
Rock Island, IL, is hosting the 20th Annual Great Cardboard Boat Regatta on the 4th.
More photos here.
The lovely town of Eau Claire, MI, is holding the 33rd Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Championship on the 4th as well.
I guess we should be thankful that these kind of celebrations have replaced the military parades and artillery salutes that used to be our traditional 4th of July fare (click here for a chronological history of notable 4th of July celebrations through history). I'd rather the world think that we are crazy freaks who have silly contests on the 4th than think that we are crazy freaks with a thirst for military conquest... ok, that was a little too close to home to be funny.
Personally, I'd prefer to take some 'shrooms and watch the fireworks over the stadium. However you decide to celebrate, be safe, and take just a few moments from your beer and brats to think of all the others in the world who aren't as lucky as we, or as well fed, housed, and clothed as we. Then think about why they are in that boat... Then you'll probably want another few beers to deaden that feeling.
Grill in peace.
Flock Tenets Revamped
I have recently been beset by conversion attempts. Mostly Christians, but I also recently had a Muslim try out his missionary hat on me. In these conversations, I have been AMAZED by the lack of knowledge of history, their own faiths, and the faiths of others that these well-meaning folk have shown. Here are some of the things that have come up in these conversations...
Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Mormons, and Episcopalians are not Christians. (Nor are any number of other denominations as it suits the speaker. At one point he told me that all good Baptists were Christians, then added "except the people who follow Reverend So-and-so.")
Lutherans are the one true faith because they are the only church that uses the whole bible with nothing added or removed. (When I asked which version of the bible they used, he responded "NIV." I nearly choked on my fried rice.)
Christianity was never the official religion of Rome. (Christianity became a sanctioned religion in Rome during the reign of Constantine I (324-337 AD) and became the official state religion of Rome in 391 AD when Theodosius I outlawed all other faiths.)
Christianity and Islam have never infringed on the rights of minorities, homosexuals, or unbelievers. (I didn't even know where to begin with this one...)
Muslims, Jews, and Christians do not worship the same god. (The person who told me this based his assertion on the fact that Muslims worship Allah, and Jews worship Yahweh, not Jehovah. I tried to explain that these faiths all trace their lineage back to Abraham in the old testament, and that those words all refer to the same deity, but I don't think I got through.)
Christianity has never caused any suffering. (This one was amazing - I listed the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Witch Hunts, Theological defenses of slavery and racism, etc... he changed the subject.)
Islam is the only religion that is completely logical. (Again with the choking on my fried rice. When I asked him to explain how it is more logical to believe that the Angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to Mohammed, than it is to just assume that Mohammed wrote it himself he replied, "Well, that bit we take on faith..."
To Christians, the Buddha was a heretic. (I asked how his teachings could be heretical to Christians, since they predated the life of Christ by about 500 years. He was surprised to hear that the Buddha predated Christ...)
The Buddha claimed to be god incarnate. (Nope - not even once, not even just as a joke to crack up his monks.)
And my all-time favorite...
The Abrahamic Faiths have always treated women with respect. (WTF!? I later learned that by respect, he meant that they have always restricted the freedoms of females so that they could be "free" to have lots of babies.)
Ok, so I have always said that the one serious tenet of this Ministry was to believe in something. My exact words were, "Pledge your belief. In anything. God(s) would be nice, but Santa Clause, Tinkerbell, or UFO anal probes will do in a pinch. In that same post, I also said, "Actually, the Flock is about faith. ANY faith. For fuck's sake, believe in something!"
For the first time since I began this little faux cult, I am compelled to add to that core tenet.
Once you find something to believe in, learn about it. Find out the history, good AND bad, and the theology/theory/canon of whatever it is in which you have chosen to believe. Be prepared to discuss it with logic and sound information.
It's also a good idea to study the faiths of those most diametrically opposed to you. Monotheists might want to study Polytheists or Atheists, Jews could study Muslims, Christians should study... um, everybody else. Not so that you can defeat them in debates, but so that you aren't constantly spouting erroneous and insulting "facts."
I'm anticipating a schism in the Flock over this - those who accept this new tenet, and those who cling to the old ways. Naturally, I expect both factions to call the other side heretics; there may be bloodshed. I may have inadvertently just created denominations within the Flock... heaven help us.
Go in Peace.
I'm still taking requests for my 400th post here.
In the meantime, I thought we'd discuss
The End of the World
Theories abound, but I personally agree almost completely with the possibilities shown below...
Click to Enlarge
...except for the bit about Ving Rhames - I think he would make an excellent world dictator.