Month: February 2016

Saving Egan

Don't flush your life away. Call We Care Line!

Don’t flush your life away. Call We Care Line!

I was snoozing away at the Suicide Prevention Hotline, where I volunteer. Suddenly my supervisor shook my shoulder and woke me up.

“Tippy, take line three. It’s Egan. He’s a regular. I think I can trust you to handle this guy.”

Egan Obendorfer. I’d never heard of him before, but I was fairly new to this job.

“We Care Line. Tippy here. What’s up, Egan?” I yawned, while wiping my bleary eyes.

“It’s in my hand right now. I’m ready to do it.” the shaky voice on the other end said.

I felt my heart explode into overdrive. This was a real one. This guy really meant it. How could an idiot like me possibly talk him down? I just wanted to throw down the phone and quit, right then and there. But I couldn’t. A life was on the line. A drop of sweat dribbled down my neck.

“Let go of it!” I gulped. It was the only thing I could think of to say.

“Oh no, I’m doing it. I’m lifting it up to my mouth right now.”

“Wait! Think of your wife!”

“I don’t have a wife. She divorced me. I’m opening my mouth wide now.”

“Your children! Do you have children? Think of them!”

“My children hate me.” this insufferable self-inflicter said. Why do people have to be so difficult? Then I heard a dog bark.

“Your dog! What would your dog do without you? Think of him.”

“Her. And she bit me this morning. I’m putting it in my mouth, right now.”

I heard a kind of slurping sound, like he was sucking on the end of it. I plugged my ears, anticipating a loud bang. But then I realized I had to listen, in case he had some final words. And he did.

“There, I did it. And I’m going to do it again if you can’t talk me out of it.” he finally spoke.

Did what? How do you commit suicide twice?

It took a few more minutes of dialogue for Egan to explain that he has an eating disorder. He worries that he’s eating himself to death, so when he goes on a binge he calls the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

On this occasion he had a bucket of Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Buttah ice cream in front of him. Delicious stuff. Even his dog was begging for it, and all cause to bite him earlier in the day had been forgotten.

This gave me an idea, and I convinced Egan to share his ice cream with his dog. And this renewed his relationship with his best friend.

Egan only ate half a bucket of ice cream that day, and his dog got the other half. So I was pretty successful, if I say so myself.

There are many Egans in this world. Suicide isn’t always a sudden event. Some people commit it slowly, whether by eating, drinking, drugs, smoking, or maybe by just not taking care of their health. Their deaths are not usually entered into the suicidology statistics. They’re sneaky at killing themselves.

But at least I was able to help this one person. And after the call, I felt content enough to catch a few more z’s. It had been a good day.

Disclaimer: My Suicide Prevention Hotline is fictional. If you’re feeling hopeless and would like a skilled, trained counselor to talk to, try calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They’re real, and available 24/7.

Hillary’s Generic Grandiloquent Speech to Wall Street

The initial rough draft of Hillary's speech

The initial rough draft of Hillary’s speech

Bernie Sanders points out that Hillary Clinton has made $200,000 a pop for delivering speeches to Wall Street. He implies that these speaking fees are nothing more than bribes from Wall Street executives, so that she will do their bidding once she becomes President, and he’s challenged Hillary to release transcripts of these speeches.

But it seems Hillary will not be releasing these transcripts. But don’t worry. I managed to bribe a disaffected Wall Street employee, who works in a mail room, and he has provided me with the very transcript that Bernie has been asking for.

And yes I use the singular, “transcript,” because as it turns out our former Secretary of State was lazily giving the same generic speech over and over again. C’mon Madam Secretary, for 200 thousand mazumas you couldn’t write a fresh new speech each time? But that’s how it is. There’s only one transcript. However I must admit, it’s a grandiloquent stemwinder. Here it is, because I want to share it with you so I can become rich and famous in the interests of the greater public good:

HILLARY’S GENERIC GRANDILOQUENT SPEECH TO WALL STREET (final draft)

For scores and several hundred years, ya know, our mothers and fathers brought forth on this continent new corporations, conceived in profit, and dedicated to the proposition that I’m gonna get 200 large for a speech, any speech, even if it’s one I lift from Abe Lincoln.

Now we are engaged in a great business transaction, testing whether any big corporation can long endure paying this much money for a speech. We are met at a great auditorium of one of these corporations. We have come to dedicate a portion of that corporation’s profit, as a final resting place in my purse. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this vast sum of money. The brave employees, still working and laid-off, who struggled at this corporation for a fraction of what I’m getting for this piddly speech, have consecrated this money, far above my power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember this speech–unless Bernie Sanders insists on a transcript–but it can never forget what I’m being paid. It is for $200,000, to be directly deposited to my bank account, which the employees who have worked here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is for me, to be here dedicated this great sum of money—that from these honored employees I have increased devotion to that cause for which their bosses gave the last full measure of payment—that we here highly resolve that these employees shall not have worked in vain—that this corporation, under my Presidency, shall have a new birth of profits—and that corporations of the stockholders, by the stockholders, for the stockholders, shall not perish from the earth.

Parole

"Prisoners Exercising" by Vincent Van Gogh

“Prisoners Exercising” – Vincent Van Gogh

My wife and I would like to live a few more decades before the natural ebbing of life takes us to another world. We want to avoid being stabbed to death.

“He got parole!” Jay’s mother gleefully announced.

Jay was a dangerous man. He’s also our nephew. How could the state of California do that?! What the hell are those guys thinking, on the parole board?

“Help me, help me, please!” Jay moaned, lying in the front yard of a complete stranger. A woman peeked at him through a window and summoned her husband from another room. Jay was a teenager barely two months into adulthood. Beneath his veneer of desperation lay a darker desperation. Jay was in a blind, drunken rage. He had decided to kill the first person he saw, and he hoped to draw someone from the house.

Why the rage? Was it because he imagined he was jilted, by a girl he had a secret crush on in high school? No, according to the transcript it went much deeper than that. This was merely the trigger.

Was it because he’d been raised by a mother who had abdicated ordinary parental supervision, losing herself in a fantasy world of Wicca and hoarding? Perhaps, but his rage also plumbed deeper than that.

Was it due to living in a house with boxes piled to the ceiling, blocked off rooms, and narrow aisleways between the junk, crowded in with his mother and brother? Claustrophobic conditions can be stressful, but there were even deeper depths to Jay’s rage.

Was it because his brother, who was six years older than him, still lived at home? This same brother who had molested him at a young age, and who bullied him throughout his life? Certainly this could produce rage, but there was still more.

There was also a father who’d been tragically killed in a car accident when he was only two years old. A good father, who would have protected him from his crazy mother and deviant brother.

So Jay had sipped vodka from his hidden flask, while at high school, then walked home feeling angrier and angrier with each step. Normally alcohol calmed his rage, but this time it was like throwing gasoline upon a fire. At home he drank more, until his vodka-fueled rage propelled him from his house like an unguided missile, and with murder on his mind. He vowed to kill the first person he saw.

Her husband left the safety of their front door to assist this prostrate stranger in his front yard. She watched him lift Jay off the ground, then saw the young man draw a knife from his waistband. A bloody struggle ensued, as Jay plunged the knife repeatedly into her husband’s body, and slashed at his defensive arms and hands.

Had Jay been sober, her husband would not have stood a chance. But he drunkenly lost his balance, and in that split-second her husband grabbed a large rock and clobbered Jay over the head. Dazed, he broke off the attack and staggered away.

Within minutes an EMT team staunched her husband’s bleeding and saved his life. Over the next few months and years, surgeons repaired much of the damage to his arms and hands. But he will never be completely whole again, either physically or emotionally.

Deputies tracked Jay’s muddy footprints to his house and arrested him the next day. Initially he plead not guilty by reason of insanity. But later he changed his plea to guilty and received seven years to life. The DA promised he’d never be released.

But now, after just ten years behind bars, he’s being released.

Our fear was that he was crazy enough to hurt someone again. Perhaps us. We’d never harmed him, but neither had the stranger he stabbed, who was simply trying to help him. Suppose one day he showed up at our front door, asking for help? Would we dare let him in? Would we dare to even open the door?

How could the parole board possibly release someone as crazy as Jay? Especially when it was his first try for parole? It’s rare to release anyone with a life sentence on their first time up for parole. What the hell were they thinking? I contacted the parole board for an answer. They sent me a transcript of the parole hearing. I read every page.

Jay has spent the last ten years doing everything possible to reform himself. He’s kept out of trouble, for the most part. He’s stopped drinking, and attended substance abuse and self-help classes in prison. He’s reflected deeply on his crime and his childhood. He’s developed an impressive philosophy about life. He seems truly contrite and empathetic with his victim and victim’s family. He has a detailed plan for earning a living outside prison. And he plans to stay away from his mother and brother after being released.

Here is a man who has not lived in denial. He’s confronted his crime and his childhood with candor, and with determination to change his life.

He made an unusual impression upon the parole board, which they admitted.

The parole hearing occurred several months ago. If Jay stays out of trouble, he will be released before the end of this year. He will settle in a city far away from his victim, and far from where my wife and I live.

After reading the parole transcript we feel less worried about Jay’s upcoming release. But still, who knows?

Only time can prove the wisdom of the parole board’s judgment.

LIGO

A Black-Hole

A Black Hole

I’m trying to wrap my head around the latest astronomical discovery. On September 14th of last year, the scientific world was gobsmacked when astronomers at the LIGO observatory detected the gravitational waves of two colliding black holes.

They converted these gravitational waves into audio waves, and it sounded something like a drop of water from a dripping faucet.

By the way, LIGO is not to be confused with LEGO. LIGO is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. LEGO is what you step on when trying to take a leak in the middle of the night. LIGO is the only such observatory of its kind. Except that it’s actually two observatories that work in conjunction with each other; one in Washington state and the other in Louisiana. It’s been operating since 2002, while detecting absolutely nothing worth anything. But that all changed last September, when it picked up the drop heard ’round the universe.

Somehow, this drip-dropping noise proved one of Albert Einstein’s theories related to relativity. This is the theory that my relatives are the ones who forget to tighten faucet handles. However, they say that the “sound” produced by this black-hole collision released three times more energy than all the galaxies in our universe combined. This to me is further proof of relativity, because some of my bumptious relatives can actually shout that loud.

The black holes collided 1.3 billion years ago, at a distance of 7,625,404,800,000,000,000,000 miles from Earth. They were both about 30 times the size of our sun, and were spinning around each other at several thousand revolutions per minute. That’s a pretty reckless speed for two objects of such Pantagruelian proportions, so naturally these lumbering titans had to collide sooner or later. Good thing we Earthlings kept a safe distance.

Now the question I have is, what happens when two black holes swallow each other? Shouldn’t it create some sort of anti-black hole, and force them to regurgitate up everything they’ve been consuming for billions of years? Back in my math school days, I learned between naps that a negative number multiplied by a negative number always equals a positive number.

So I have a positive attitude about this black-hole collision. I think they’re going to spit up all the stuff they’ve been stealing from the universe, and we’re going to recover lost property. Who knows what sort of wonderful marvels may emerge from the site of this cosmic accident? We should send a space exploratory mission to the site of the crash. Hey, what’s a few extra trillion dollars added to our national debt?

As you can tell, I’m no Albert Einstein. My thinking about this is about as far-off in outer space as the black-hole collision itself. But after 13 years of listening to nothing, then becoming elated when they heard the sound of a dripping faucet, I draw this conclusion about the astronomers who made this discovery:

Scientists are easily entertained.

My Apology Here

With great embarrassment and contrition, I’m writing this post to apologize for yesterday’s post. Yesterday I posted a sign in the widget sidebar that said, “Your Ass Here.” I intended that sign to read “Your Ad Here,” and have now corrected the spelling. I can explain this mistake, and I hope you’ll be kind enough to hear me out.

It is not my policy to post profanity on my blog. At least, not in such a conspicuous manner. This is a family blog, and children read my posts.

By the way, the following message is for any child who saw yesterday’s post:

Ass=Donkey

Ass = Donkey

Kids, the sign you saw on Uncle Tippy’s blog that read, “You’re Ass Here” was about donkeys. Just like the donkey named Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. Did you know that “ass” is another word for donkey? So that’s what my sign was about. I wanted to see pictures of donkeys on my blog.

Now stop reading. The rest of this post is for adults only.

Alright, let me continue. I’m sorry for misspelling the word “Ad” yesterday. It’s nobody’s fault but my own. I’ve been having a bit of trouble in the nether regions lately. Seems I’ve developed an allergy to Preparation H, and my hindquarters have been foremost on my mind these days. The best way I can put my finger on it is, I felt an itch at the exact moment I created the sign, and the wrong word must have slipped into my spelling.

I’m a real asshole for allowing that to happen. And I’m definitely a shitbird for not proofreading my post. I mean, fuck me to tears, this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.

I hope you’ll forgive me, and I promise never to let it happen again.

Your Ad Here

Your Ad Here

I have a new widget in my sidebar that I hope will not bother you. It’s a message that says, “Your Ad Here.”

Some people find messages like this disturbing. They want bloggers to be above this sort of thing. We’re supposed to put everything we have into our work, and not get anything in return. So let me make this clear. This blog is no charity, and I’m no saint. I want a piece of the action, baby!

If you share my ambition to be rich and famous, consider the opportunity presented by my sidebar message. Imagine all the exposure you’ll receive, from what you put onto that space. And think of the revenue you can generate. I guarantee you’ll be excited when you see your bottom line, and people keep entering your business.

Now if you’re a purist blog reader who doesn’t like this sort of thing, what goes in that space over there may really stink. But I encourage you to examine it carefully, and respond in a positive manner if you honestly like what you see. Who knows, you may enjoy it so much you’ll want to buy what’s being offered.

Don’t sit on this opportunity. With my blog, you’re poised to crack the market wide open. Get the exposure you’ve been dreaming about, and let the world discover everything about you.

Note: Unfortunately, I misspelled the word “ad”. Click here for my apology.

A Suicide Disclaimer

"Le Suicide" - Edouard Manet

“Le Suicide” – Edouard Manet

I mention a Suicide Prevention Hotline several times in my About pages. And I’ve posted about it. You may be wondering, is this real? You may also wonder if I’m making light of suicide. Perhaps it’s time for a disclaimer.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death. It’s a serious problem.

One of my blogging buddies, Elyse, at FiftyFourandAHalf, once posted about her own attempted suicide many years ago. It’s a funny post, but also a serious post. It’s a detailed description of an involved set of circumstances that eventually led to a sudden decision to kill herself by tetherball. Elyse points out in this post that many suicides are spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Suicide is a heavy subject, and one that many people don’t like to think about or discuss. I don’t blame them. Nothing gets gloomier than the idea of taking one’s own life. But it’s important to think about if you want to avoid being suicidal. So I try to lighten the topic with humor.

I believe suicide begins long before any impulsive decision to commit it. It begins with a mindset. The mindset we allow ourselves to fall into can lead us down a dark path toward a precipitous brink.

We turn ourselves into time bombs, waiting for just the right set of circumstances to trigger the explosion of suicide. I believe that many suicidal people have no awareness of the dynamite lying dormant in their psyche. They don’t recognize their own self-destructive potential.

My Suicide Prevention Hotline shtick is about revealing the kind of mindset that leads to suicide. For example, my Donald Who? post concerns itself with people who take politics so seriously, they easily become disappointed and depressed. Such people are suicidal, in my view, whether they realize it or not.

Suicide prevention begins when we recognize we’re on the path to our own demise. We all get on that path from time to time. The earlier we notice, the sooner we can change course. That’s why it’s important to be able to think about it. (And I mean think, not contemplate.)

I also believe suicide isn’t always such a bad thing. We all have suicidal tendencies to some degree. It’s a necessary part of human nature. For example, who wouldn’t risk their own life to save someone they love? What we have to guard against is taking our suicidal tendencies to an irrational level.

When we can recognize the mindset that leads to suicide, we learn how to avoid getting into such a frame of mind. Staying out of that frame of mind makes us less suicidal, and a whole lot happier.

And now, here’s the disclaimer:

Disclaimer: My Suicide Prevention Hotline is fictional. If you’re feeling hopeless and would like a skilled, trained counselor to talk to, try calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They’re real, and available 24/7.

The Grid

My hermitage about 10 years after I sold it. Years ago, it was razed and a modern house built over the site. Kind of symbolic.

My hermitage about 10 years after I sold it. Years ago, it was razed and a modern house built over the site. Kind of symbolic.

I could have been penpals with Ted Kaczynski. At the same time the Unabomber intrigued against modern civilization while holed up in a remote Montana cabin, I too isolated myself from civilization in a remote cabin. And while Ted’s activities were of the “underground” nature, so were mine. Literally.

That’s because my cabin was built underground. Well, mostly. As you can see from the photo, it was a log cabin dugout, with a roof that protruded a few feet above ground.

I resided with scorpions in the walls and rattlesnakes under the eaves. I held out against modern society for as long as I could, in this fastness of mine, beneath the desert floor. But at least I didn’t hate modernity as much as Ted, who got the lame-brained idea of mailing bombs to those at the forefront of technological progress.

Ted Kaczynski after his capture in 1996.

Ted Kaczynski after his capture in 1996.

These days they call what Ted and I did, “living off the grid.” But Ted wanted to do more. He wanted to get rid of the grid. That was not very brainy, especially from an erstwhile university professor. Ted grossly underestimated the scope and power of the grid.

There are all kinds of grids. There’s the electric grid, for instance. And some say if you put up solar panels, you are going off the grid. “Bushwa!” Ted would scoff, I’m sure. Because there’s also the water grid, which supplies you when you turn on the tap. There’s the internet grid, the highway grid, the grocery grid, and a whole gridiron full of grids.

A grid is any kind of modern system that supplies the masses with their wants and needs. And the grid is the insanely complex structure of modern civilization that you get when you overlay and interconnect all grids together.

It’s pretty hard to rid yourself entirely of the grid. For example, I didn’t like shooting wild critters. So I became addicted to the grocery grid. And Ted relied upon the postal grid to deliver his special packages to his victims. I wonder how thoroughly Ted pondered over that.

Things got pretty lonely for me out there on the gridless Mojave. Also my bank account was dissipating into dust. So after a few years, I sold my cabin and decamped back to civilization. I’ve been deeply embedded in the grid ever since.

I’ve learned that the grid is not the reified monster that Ted and I imagined it to be, so many years ago. Nor is it heaven on earth, as boosterish promoters of modern living might have us believe. The grid is actually just people. It’s the folks who keep the juice turned on, the water flowing, the trucks rolling, and the comestibles and consumables selling at the market. It never works perfectly, because people aren’t perfect. But with all its kludgy intricacies, somehow it usually comes through for us.

People can live cold, isolated lives in the middle of this great grid, not fully appreciating the value they receive from their neighbors and community, nor even the value they contribute back. Whether we realize it or not, we need each other very much.

The grid is very human. We are the grid.

Donald Who?

2 Out of 3 Lives Saved, at We Care Line!

2 Out of 3 Lives Saved, at We Care Line!

Ring! It was my turn to pick up the phone at the suicide prevention hotline, where I volunteer.

Me: “We-Care Line. How may I help you?”

Caller: “Hi, I’m calling from the Make America Great Again campaign. I’d like to speak with you about Donald Trump.”

We get these calls all the time during an election year. Usually they’re robocalls, but this one happened to be a real live human being.

Me: “Who? Donald Rump?”

Caller: “Trump. Donald Trump.”

Me: “Never heard of him. So what about him? Is he having a personal crisis right now?”

Caller: “No, not all. We’re calling to make sure you get out and vote for him in the primary, and encourage your friends to vote for him, too.”

Me: “So, this Donald . . . Grump . . .”

Caller: “Trump. TRump! Donald Trump. I can’t believe you’ve never heard of him. Everyone knows about Donald Trump.”

Me: “Trumpet. Gotcha. Used to play one in band when I was a high schooler. So, tell me. Why should I vote for him, and what’s he running for?”

Caller: “He’s going to make America great again. And he’s running for president.”

Me: “You know what else is great?”

Caller: “What?”

Me: “God. God is great.”

Caller: “Oh yeah, yeah, sure. God is great. And Grump, I mean Trump, is gonna make America great again too, just like God.”

Me: “God is great.”

Caller: “Yes sir, I know. Now can I count on you to support Gonald Dump. I mean Donald Trump?”

Me: “Perhaps. But first I want you to chant with me. Chant: God is great. God is great. God is great.”

Caller: “God is great. God is great. God is great.”

Me: “Allah akbar.”

Caller: Silence.

Me: “Allah akbar!”

Caller: “Uh, wait a second sir, are you Muslim?”

Me: “No. But that means God is great, in Arabic. You know, God is great in any language. So would you be willing to chant Allah akbar with me?”

Caller: “I think not.”

Me: “Then I won’t be voting for Ronald Dump, or whoever he is.”

Caller: “It’s Dronald Tump, I mean Donald Trump, and I can’t believe you’ve never heard of him!”

Me: “Sir, your voice is shaking. You seem upset.”

Caller: Sniffs. “I am kind of upset. I’m having a bad day. Do you realize how hard it is to call people all day long and ask them to vote for Gonald Ronald, or, ah shit, whatever his name is?”

Me: “Tell me about it. Tell me more.”

For the next fifteen minutes he poured his heart out to me. I listened carefully and then gave this poor man some wise counsel. I advised him that political activism is the most frustrating job you can ever take on. I told him that politics is very unpredictable, and that even if this Donald guy got elected, he’d probably do things differently than what his supporters were hoping he would do. That’s politics. It’s depressing, and it sets you up for disappointment.

By the time the call was over, I had convinced this poor soul to put the phone down, quit his volunteer job, and walk out of the Make America Great Again headquarters. I don’t know where he is, or what he’s doing right now, but I hope his new-found freedom from political activism will open bright, exciting doors to his future.

And then he can make his life great again.

Ahem! Excuse me.

Ling & Buttons02

Ahem! Excuse me, please. I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Tippy Gnu (pronounced Guh-new). This is my first official post, on my new blog, Chasing Unicorns.

I’m very excited about this new blog, and plan to post very frequently. At least once per hour. But I’m also extremely lazy, so it’s going to take a lot of self-discipline to keep up such a hectic posting pace.

I’ll try to keep my daily posts polished, well-researched, and credible. That way, once every other day you’ll be able to count on me to provide delicious provender for your mind.

When my weekly post appears on your reader, please take the time to read it, even if it seems to be a first draft. I’m a busy guy and take lots of naps. I don’t always have time to ensure that my subjects have preceded my predicates, and all that other sentence-structure folderol.

Besides, you’ll only be hearing from me once a month. It takes a while for me to do the legal research required to ensure I don’t get sued for some of the lies facts I want to tell.

Now, when my annual post comes rolling up your reader, please peruse it carefully and submit a thoughtful comment. I really want to hear from you. Even if it’s just a smart-ass remark you want to make. Your thoughts mean the world to me. Yawn. I promise you I’ll have something snarky and mordant sophisticated and considerate to say in response.

So, I encourage you to follow my blog, read my post that will eventually arrive, and then engage me in smart-alecky comment repartee.

I promise it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.