Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Concise History of the World Chapter 2

Welcome back class

Eventually there was man among the critters on earth.

Life was a bit wearisome until they began spotting each other instead of just pacing around not doing much except maybe drinking alone. It was more rewarding when the other human was, well, constructed a bit differently. It would soon become even more so for roughly half of the critters, those that love to talk.

The difference was the coming of language. Before that it was hard to deliver a good pick-up line, even for the forward thinkers who had those. As centuries went by the language got better but the lines didn’t.

The first language was ‘Stone’, which is why they call it the Stone Age. A lot can be expressed with a stone. Properly aimed it can deliver a clear message. It did however leave something to be desired in interpersonal relationships. Pick up lines were still scarce, though sometimes the goal was achieved once she regained consciousness. Sometimes she carried a grudge and things didn’t work out. (I've got a headache.) There are some who believe this practice is the historical root of the term ‘Pickup Line’

Before long things improved with the advent of  Rock, Hide, Knife, the new language which ushered in the age of negotiation. The only problem was that poor negotiators often reverted back to ‘Stone’. That led to a short era of Slingshot, Leather Spitwad, Dagger which did not work out that well, especially for those who chose Spitwad.

With the advent of closer association between humans of all kinds of things changed dramatically. Occasional grunts and farts when they were together developed into more advanced languages. The first true language can’t be identified, since writing was a still a bit heady for the local population. We are pretty sure they eventually settled on one or they wouldn’t have been able to build cities.

Build them they did. One of the first they name Babel. God only knows why they chose the name.

Things went well in the city, demonstrating the value of a common language. Quite a few of them began talking about philosophy and they agreed that there was a god and that He lived somewhere in the sky. After a few too many drinks they decided to build a tower so that they could drop by and visit Him.

Though the work was going well there were occasions when the brickwork teetered and collapsed. They might have given up if one smart fellow hadn’t invented a cementing mixture using saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal.

Coincidently another smart fellow invented something for the workers to do while they were on break. His timing was poor. It came after the tower was well underway, reaching WAY WAY UP. His invention was the cigarette. During the first break when the new invention was tried an additional characteristic of the blackish cement became evident.

The explosion was tremendous, even waking up God who found he had a lot of new visitors despite the disappearance of the tower. Survivors were scattered to all parts of the land.  Regaining consciousness many felt that there were not sufficient words in their language to express their thoughts so they invented new ones. Most of those were related to pain and anger. By the time they stopped using those, they had forgotten all of the rest of the words of the common language. They were somewhat speechless until they invented new words for the old thoughts. Many of the first were needed for pickup lines.

Now, when they met, they ran into that old failure to communicate thing. That led to war. That and competition in the romance department did anyway. This sorrowful condition lasted until English was invented. With that once again came world peace, with the exception of an argument or two per generation.

Your homework, class, is to use language and come up with some new pick-up lines. Please do not discuss these among yourselves. Just turn your papers in to me the next time we meet. Those who drop them by my office before then may earn extra credit if they are any good.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Concise History of the World Chapter 1

The day the world was created was the start of things around these parts. You’d have liked to have been there and seen how irrationally your teachers would respond to the opportunity to visit in a time machine.
Take your English Teacher. The second she got there she’d have gone up in a puff of foul smelling smoke. Not that it would have been noticed. The whole place was smoking and odds are that the air wasn’t something you’d want to force into a spray can and sell as a room freshener.
Thermometers hadn’t been invented. Mercury hadn’t even been discovered; the element or the planet. Even so you can bet one couldn’t have kept up with the current weather back then. That thing with Mrs. Kelly was a pretty good indicator. The wind was at least a magnitude 88 hurricane, without the annoying rain. Humidity was a bit high too.
Everything we have in the world was there then, minus a few billion tons lugged in on visiting comets and meteors. Some of them might have actually been self-destructing garbage scows launched from planets with intelligent life that eschewed recycling. Most of this planet’s inventory was in a little different form than what you are used to. It was all just atoms and stuff still trying to find its way around the new campus. Some had formed friendships and become molecules of this or that right off of the bat.
As things became a little more orderly it still wasn’t anything your teachers, except maybe those who taught chemistry, could write much of a lesson plan about. Mr. Franklin would have been overwhelmed by the easy access to all of the elements and taken several days before he realized he didn’t have anything to make lab equipment with yet. At best, this was Merlin’s playground.
Old man Gibson’s geology tests would have been a lot easier if all of the ‘what kind of rock izzat?’ questions had the same answer; igneous. Metamorphic and sedimentary samples were a long way down the road, if there had been one of those. That was particularly true of the latter type. None of the liquids were oils either. The living things those were derived from weren’t even in stage one yet.
That brings us to Mrs. Hudson’s biology class. You could have slept through that and not missed a thing. There was no biology, though she probably could have taught a class on it and made as much sense as she does today.
One day though, a bolt of lighting slapped into a puddle of muddy water and the atoms there did something crazy, like they might have if they were on LSD. They clung to each other and became hundreds of single celled animals. After a while some of them became so bored that they started coming apart at the seams. They didn’t all die in the process and some formed two living cells in the process. Sex had been discovered. As we know it doesn’t always take two to enjoy that.
Where there is sex though, no matter how pleasant the current habits are, somebody is going to try something different. After a while some of the shy ones split but did in inside themselves, without forming two separate entities so nobody else would see them do it. That developed into a craze that produced creatures first with two, then three or four cells and eventually, monsters with hundreds of cells.
When that got boring, a few started experimenting. First it was a little spooning and petting, then they tried worse things. Before long they figured out how the two of them could get together and make a third creature without dying themselves. The stories their parents had told them weren’t true after all.
Hoping to avoid touchy questions that only your health teacher is supposed to know the answers to, let’s jump ahead and say the earth was now in the very early stages of being run over by life. Some of it was pretty complex and some of it was still boring. A lot of the more boring ones skipped going to drinking parties and went extinct.
Before long the first botany teacher was born. Her name was Eve and she was one of those, you know the type, who thought she knew more about fruit trees than God did. Take this thing called the tree of knowledge. She certainly did and she ate the fruit thereof.
Right after that she discovered the fig leaf. In the end she got herself and her boyfriend kicked out of the garden. Isn’t that the way it always works?
It sort of looks like some of you now have questions about this sex thing you want to work out so I’ll let you go find your health teachers or something and do that. This is a good place to end chapter 1.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Fessing Up

Sadly, lack of intelligent planning, by my guests of course, quickly sneered at the opening meeting of the Porter Preservation Project (PPP). Damage assessment is still in process.

Twenty guests were welcomed which was pretty good considering the short notice of the meeting time and date. They were all buried by dawn. The memory of certain occasions should be protected by the elimination of all witnesses. A couple of them hadn’t revealed themselves yet but once the train is started down that track it is pretty difficult to stop it. On the other hand, the quality of society was much improved before the sun rose. Next time I’ll improve it more by inviting lawyers.

The maid was a bit dismayed and needed to call for reinforcements. She had to buy some new cleaning supplies as well. Until then, I thought the bar bill had been pretty high.

Among the damage were my two chia pets. It appears as if they were bashed together and left in a messy heap. Thank God THEY didn’t bleed. Other losses will be more easily replaced.

Though I seldom do, I may have erred in disinviting those with fully developed brains. I figured most half-wits could pull the job off but, in rare instance, I was mistaken. (not wrong … never wrong). Shortfall in that regard resulted from their inability to mature beyond point I did at the same age.

Charlie (last name withheld until his family gives up looking for him) started things off badly with his opening comment. It followed his self-introduction which included an interesting synopis of his rap sheet. “Who the **** are you?” he asked.

I do not tolerate the f-bomb so we had a short conversion in the garage. Mine was from angry to somewhat satisfied (limited by regret that I didn’t have more time to spend with him) while his was from a-hole to corpse. Don’t construe this as a confession because I have no idea how it happened, whatever ‘it’ was.

Things went down hill from there. Most details need to be glossed over, better yet hidden completely, for the protection of someone. The remainder is nothing more than the menu and tapes from the surveillance system monitoring the fish pond. Those I can provide if sent a self addressed stamped envelope and $44.15 for postage and handling. The content is FREE!

Next Wednesday I’ll try again, sort of. Still perhaps too proud of my most recent venture, I’d like to run a couple of more culling sessions before I get down to serious business. This time my guest list will be limited to lawyers with history and psychology undergraduate degrees. Following that I’ll run a conclave (literally) for politicians with law degrees.

I could continue the pattern for some months and open a used car lot for abandoned vehicles as a by-product. I’m afraid the DMV may get curious about the sudden surge in title requests though. Maybe a u-pull-it lot would work better, but they are too ugly to put on my estate. Eschewing those options I’ll probably invite some serious candidates, like the Haggis guy who seems so eager, to the fourth get-together. The vehicles I’m stuck with will probably work as forest landfill or fish havens. I’ll probably keep the dashboard Jesus I saw in one of them. Anybody who is interested in the heavy metal CD’s I’ll probably find can have them for free if they remit $1.00 along with the $44.15 shipping and handling fee for the first one. But that’s not all. I’ll send not one, not two, not three but FOUR additional CD’s for FREE. All you have to do is pay separate shipping and handling fees. The supply is limited to the number of requests I receive so hurry and don’t be the only one in your neighborhood to miss out on this opportunity.

By the way, can anyone recommend a maid service? Mine has notified me that they intend to disassociate with me though they will continue send me a hefty monthly bill for their exercise of discretion. Maybe I could improve the relationship by throwing them a ‘Thank-You’ party.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Calling All Historians

We NEED to talk.
Since my place is not big enough for all of you, those who study history, rather than write it with a pre-determined bent need not return your RSVP’s. You won’t be expected. If you show up you’ll be kicked out.

What I need is the historian with the character required to allow him to spend his valuable time proving that George Washing told lies, particularly the one about throwing a silver dollar over across the Potomac. There may have been a Potomac but there were no silver dollars when he was young and stupid enough to waste good money like that. I want those who won’t accept that Davy Crockett killed a bar when he was only three or was the last man standing at the Alamo. Drinking and driving rental cars do not go together well.

Sorry (actually I’m not sure if I am or not) ladies, this is a stag affair. I want history, not herstory here. You’d be a distraction during the conduct of serious business. Besides, I have to do something the cut the guest list down. I might as well exclude those old enough to have developed the parts of their brains that process judgment too. That, along with a ready supply of 2X4’s (two parts maple syrup four parts Crown Royal), should mean it won’t be long till we can begin our task.

The meeting is something made necessary by a line I read in a book by Dietrich Knickerbocker. Thankfully he wrote it and, even more thankfully, I read it while I could still put this confab on my bucket list.

He passed on a quotation from Pliny. After some serious google action I’m pretty sure it was Pliny the Elder, though it might have been Pliny the Younger or even Pliny the Great or Pliny the Lesser, if there were any of those. Doesn’t matter much anyway does it? I’ll quote him as he wrote even though I’m pretty sure the words have already been bent a little when Diedrich translated whatever language Pliny spoke into English. I’m not even sure he was there for the original speech.

“Of what consequence is it that individuals appear, or make their exit? The world is a theatre who’s scenes and actors are continually changing.” I think that means it doesn’t really matter if any of us ever lived. That’s probably true about most of you but misses the mark in my case. At least that’s what we are going to tell the world.

Knickerbocker goes on to supply the remedy for this misconception, in the quotation, not in anything I have written. In his words, not Pliny’s, who we can forget about from now on, “It is the historian, the biographer, and the poet who have the whole burden of grief to sustain … who inflate a nation with sighs it never heaved and deluge it with tears it never dreamt of shedding”

Poets are out of the question. I’m pretty sure the last one, along with the genre, died as Miss Margaret Ann Johnson read her offering during Clinton’s inauguration. Yep, that’s something else he killed, along with preferred definitions and respect for the office. Conspiracy aficionados have a much longer list. The last I attributed to him was possibly in its death throes anyway so that one probably shouldn’t weigh heavily against him when he applies for passage through the pearly gates. He just stomped on its head. (Did I say ‘head’?) Besides, any meeting I’d have with poets would have to be pretty short.

Biographers are about as trustworthy as lawyers. Besides, who would read a biography when there are many alternate versions of anything that might, at first sight, seem good and wholesome? Like me.

Since historians are never held accountable, or at least can’t be pinned down easily, you are my last best hope for immortality. SOMEBODY, somewhere, is willing to accept as true and accurate anything they write and classify as history. If you do a good job there might be a whole lot of somebody’s but I’ll settle for reality if forced.

Come prepared for a long meeting. It might take several days to sort out all of my greatness.