“There will be no zombie apocalypse. That’s not going to happen. Based on my research the only things that will be coming back to life during the apocalypse will be taxidermied animals, and they will not get very far due to their being nailed down to boards.”—John Hodgman - Excerpt taken from his podcast.
About a year ago I started doing something I called, Get Smarter Mornings. Freshly home from tour and only working a few night-shifts a week at a bar, I was growing increasingly frustrated with just how thoroughly I was wasting all of my free hours. The culprit was a diet of internet that was heavy on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter and all their videos and links that, though funny or interesting, were educationally empty calories. In an effort to balance that out with something of substance, I decided that I would not allow myself to look at any sort of social media site until I had completed the following:
It worked. Really well. I was especially surprised by how having a time limit on reading helped me focus. I normally get antsy when I have a book in my hands, but knowing that I would be finished reading at a precise time helped me to temporarily put aside all the little distractions popping into my head.
Unfortunately, Get Smarter Mornings went the way of a lot of my well intentioned ambitions. I got a second job a month later and started working 50 to 60 hour weeks in order to save up for the next tour. On days when I’d start at 10am and not get off until 4 the following morning, it didn’t make sense to ban myself from social media, so I bent the rule. But that reasonable exception was the crack in the dam, and soon Get Smarter Mornings collapsed entirely.
Lately I’ve been working to revive Get Smarter Mornings. For version 2.0 the enforcement has been a bit more lenient and I’ve mostly been focused on the Khan Academy and song writing. The plan is to re-learn the basics of chemistry and write a record without succumbing to the debilitating addiction that is Breaking Bad on Netflix. (Coincidentally, today I learned a bit about Heisenberg.)
I start most days by drinking a fruit and spinach smoothie because I know at some point later there will likely be bacon, butter, and beer, and I figure it’s a good idea to take as many steps forward before inevitably reversing course.
It makes sense to treat the mind at least as well as the gut.
I highly recommend you drink a smoothie first. Then, by all means, allow yourself some bacon.
Tonight I made the mistake of letting myself get suckered into an argument about the Occupy ______ movement. It was by far the worst argument I’ve been a part of in recent memory. Like Ricki Lake bad. I was actually called a “hater.” With the amount of doublespeak and ad hominem being lobbed at me, I felt like I may as well have been debating Bill O’Rielly.
The whole drive home all I could do was shake my head and laugh/sigh while thinking about this song and Flannery O’Connor’s, The Barber.
It just so happens that I consider David Bazan to be the Flannery O’Connor of musicians, and so it’s reassuring that at least one thing tonight made sense.
A month ago I flew 27 hours from Prague to the town I grew up in, Kingsburg, CA, for my grandfather’s 90th birthday party. The party itself was a great time and a wonderful occasion to catch up with members of my extended family who I don’t get to see very often (read: once or twice a decade).
Happy birthday Grandpa!
A few days after the party my mom and I went for a walk with the dog. Because the backyard of my parents’ home opens up to acres and acres of farmland, our version of walking the dog doesn’t include leashes or bags, just opening the gate and walking around in the country while the dog digs for gophers and smells/pees on stuff. Having grown up with this system of dog ownership, to this day I mostly just feel really bad for dogs that live confined in sterile city homes, and even worse for their plastic bag poop scooping owners.
On this particular day we walked the usual route from the house (A) behind the neighbor’s yards and along a shallow irrigation ditch. The Central Valley’s scorching summers are entirely rain-free and so the fields are fed with reserved reservoir water via a vast network of canals and ditches. It being early November the year’s crop had been entirely harvested and, with water no longer diverted from the river, the ditches were beginning to dry out for the winter. As I walked along the cement bank of our neighborhood ditch I noticed that one particular muddy puddle was rife with movement.
In a scene reminiscent of an sub-Saharan nature show, about twenty stranded perch had followed the water’s decent to its lowest point and were congregated around a boulder with their backs exposed to the encroaching air. Though I’m a remorseless eater of fish, and quite capable of watching even the most manipulative of late night Sarah McLachlan scored sad animal commercials without expending the slightest excess of emotion, it seemed like a waste for these fish to just dry up and die, and I, well, felt pity for Darwin’s losers. Also, once I pointed the scene out to my mom, she got pretty insistent we do something to help.
I walked back to the house, grabbed a couple five gallon buckets and a pool skimmer and drove back in our family’s truck to the stranded fish. Then I offered my now shoeless mom hearty moral support as she literally did the dirty work.
With the fish all scooped up, I slowly drove them a mile to the nearby Kings River.
A few of the fish stupidly jumped out of the buckets during the drive, but I saved them anyway, probably because my boundless empathy and compassion.
Swim free little fish! I hope you provide a larger fish or predatory bird with a magnificent meal!