These articles, plus the ones out there about Robert Mercer, put the bow on it all. I’m unsure how much more simple understanding Trump’s rise could be.
Recently, I watched the documentary Blackfish. If you are unfamiliar with this doc, it’s about how a corporation mistreat d wild animals, the animals being Orcas (killer whales). When it comes to corporate wrong-doing, I tend to agree with Mitt Romney when he said that ‘corporations are people too’. When corporations commit terrible crimes or are involved in horrible atrocities, indeed, there are actual evil people behind those actions.
It was evil-doers (people) who made the decision to exploit Orcas for profit and those same people are now trying to salvage their corporation’s reputation and profits with ads ad campaigns that try to persuade us that they are benevolent organizations and that what they do, helps animals in the wild. There’s no sense in trying to hide behind a corporate name when lobbying a defense of the previous actions taken by that same corporation. Corporations can be evil people too, just like us.
To go a step further, I personally helped them conduct their crimes against wild animals – guilty as charged, throw the Crimes Against Wild Animals book at me. During the late 80’s, while living in San Diego, I helped fund those crimes. I purchased a season pass each year so that I could go watch those crimes being committed at Sea World park. If there’s blame to go around, it certainly starts with Me because without my money, they wouldn’t have been able to keep the lights on. When I say Me, I really mean all of us who paid Sea World money – not me alone.
Humans are no strangers to treating animals badly – often times those animals being ourselves (Yes Virginia, we are animals). This article doesn’t convey anything new in that subject area. It’s a bit of a given that we humans can be rather inhumane at times. But what always causes me to cock my head sideways and one of my ears to droop down, is the fact that we know about these things yet we continue doing them… for a long time after having that knowledge. Abuse of animals seems to be a pre-ordained integral part of human life for some of us.
When a bundle of information is presented in a very clear and concise manner, sometimes we listen and on rare occasions, we even take action or cease taking action in the way of not joining in on committing the atrocity. Blackfish was one of those bundles for me. It struck nerves so deep that it made we weep like a congressman confessing to adultery in a press conference – only my tears were real.
This article isn’t so much about how Tilikum, the killer whale (IKR – he really was a killer whale), was mistreated or about how a corporation like Sea World can get away with very bad practices, (yet survive well enough to fund a misinformation campaign via Google), it’s more about how, in the face of absurdity, it can take forever for us humans to wake up and modify our bad behaviors.
Sorry Readers – my normal articles are futile attempts at creating humor. This one doesn’t lend itself to knee slapping yucks. If you’re looking for chuckles and hilarity, you may want to wait for my next article “10 Reasons Why Global Warming Will Actually Be Super Great For Our Planet!”.
After I watched Blackfish I realized I could never go to Sea World, nor any other corporate wild animal park again. The evidence of abuse presented was irrefutable and the fact that I gave those bastards the money to commit those abuses… all I can say is “World, I’m very sorry. It was stupid of me. It won’t happen again.”
Yesterday (January 17, 2014), I listened to a recording of what is believed to be Adam Lanza, the mass murderer behind the Sandy Hook Elementary killings. He used the name Greg to call in to an Anarchist radio show, sometime prior to the killings. As I listened, just like the host, I found myself pulled in to what he was saying and surprised at how well spoken and intelligent sounding he was. Please note the words “intelligent sounding”. Many humans sound intelligent but later go on to do unintelligent things. Heck, Neil Young and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson liked Charles Manson at one time. Sounding intelligent is impressive but acting intelligent is a whole other crème brulee.
What the killer articulately spoke of regarded an animal abuse that had taken place. He recalled how Travis, the face-eating chimp had been raised as a human all his life, even having a habit of surfing the internet. What was most eerie about his presentation was that it appeared that he was speaking metaphorically about his own abuse.
Sure, it’s entirely possible that via a random genetic mutation, something could cause a child to go nuts and kill multiple people but I don’t believe that this is the cause of most of these types of crimes. Most times, we see that it was some form of mistreatment that occurred which later manifested into a heinous crime. Adam Lanza was an adult, age 20, who was 100% responsible for his actions, in terms of legal responsibility.
However, I blame his parents when it comes to moral responsibility. Having learned how his parents treated him, it seems clear that he was the product of a bad upbringing. I believe that when he spoke of the mistreatment of Travis the chimp, he was also trying to convey his own experiences. This in no way excuses his behavior, rather it provides a possible explanation. He should still be made to answer for his crimes.
Let’s discuss Travis for a spell (not my friend Travis, who lives in Coos Bay & who arguably is an end-product of our society’s failure to mold our citizens into respectable pillars of the community, but Travis the face-eating chimp). Adam Lanza was correct in stating that what caused Travis to go nuts was that he had been raised as a human, not as a Chimpanzee. Travis was no different than Tilikum in that both were in less than optimum environments that were not favorable to becoming the animals they should’ve become.
If Adam Lanza was actually trying to tell us where he was at prior to the Sandy Hook murders, in terms of his mental state, then he too could be categorized as an animal that was raised in an inappropriate, less than ideal environment. This of course, is an understatement. In a sense, we are hearing what Tilikum or Travis might tell us, if we’d had the ability to understand them.
Let’s visit the evidence in Executive bullet form:
Tilikum (killer whale):
(Too many attacks to list for Tilikum, so I’ll just list the deaths.)
- 1991 – Keltie Byrne, a 20-year-old marine biology student was killed after slipping into Tilikum’s pool.
- 1999 – Daniel P. Dukes, a 27-year-old was found dead and nude, draped over Tilikum’s back.
- 2010 – Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer was drowned after a “Dine with Shamu” show.
Apparently, Tilikum is still performing today.
- 1996 – Woman says that he bit her hand and tried to pull her into a vehicle as she greeted him.
- 2003 – While riding in a car, unbuckled his seat belt and chased a man.
- 2009 – Went berserk and caused so much physical harm that the woman’s face needed to be transplanted.
Niki & Amadeus (chimps):
- 2012 – Two chimps caged in Africa, violently attack a 26-year-old American grad student, nearly killing him, leaving him mauled for life.
Adam Lanza (human):
- 2012 – Fatally shoots twenty children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut. Kills himself.
What’s your point Mr. Danny? I’m glad you asked Mr. and Mrs. Reader. My point is this: We have plenty of evidence that treating animals badly results in bad things, yet we continue to participate and fund such mistreatments. Even after seeing black & white (blackfish) evidence presented in an ironclad (Iron Sides?) case, we still seem to be unable to process the evidence and correct our behaviors accordingly.
Let’s quickly summarize some things, for a I fear I’m losing your attention.
Mistreatment of animals by keeping them outside their natural environments – still occurs in droves.
Mistreatment of our planet’s resources – hey wait a second! That’s not fair Danny! You were talking about ANIMALS – not The Environment! Well, guess what? When we trash our planet, we’re mistreating a whole bunch of animals all at once, including humans. This, even though we know it’s wrong, still occurs in bushels. Watch the documentary Chasing Ice, then tell me you’re not afraid of what we’ve done thus far. I couldn’t sleep for nights after watching that film.
A recent survey shows that 23% of Americans don’t believe global warming is happening.
Seriously? I sadly confess though – I suspected the percentage of non-believers to be even higher.
How much evidence do we need to prove to us, things that should be rather obvious? Does New York have to flood? Do Orca’s need to start devouring Sea World crowds en masse – LIVE on CNN?
Does Travis need to rip all our faces off?
As for Sandy Hook and gun control, well… this is neither the place nor the article for that discussion. Why? I’m not your typical bleeding heart, red-diaper-doper-baby liberal in that I don’t believe gun control at this juncture will stop or alleviate the stupid, senseless killings that occur. Maybe it would’ve made a difference in the past but it seems there are so many guns now that getting rid of enough of them to taper the number of mass killings with them is impossible.
I’m not an expert in crime stats either but according to wiki, there were roughly 1700 fatal stabbings in the U.S. in 2011. Compared with guns, which boasted almost 8,600 fatalities, knives appear to lose that death race hands-down. Still, a crap load of people died by knives. I’m unsure we could outlaw knives and I’m even more unsure of whether we can control guns now that every other crime-fearing American has one in their bedroom, car or purse.
Even if we outlawed guns altogether, the ability to make the damn things in our garage is here. Several states and municipalities are already trying to head plastic guns off at the pass:
According to Don Thompson (Associated Press) as reported in today’s Manufacturing.net, the “ghost guns” that can slip through metal detectors and be assembled at home without safeguards are spurring efforts in California and elsewhere to bring these weapons and their owners out of the shadows.
Outlawing guns in this country may be a fanciful dream who’s ship has long sailed. I can’t imagine outlawing knives and now that we can make guns in our garages, I have a hard time seeing us able to do the same with guns. I know… I know… my bleeding heart, red-diaper-doper-baby green card just got rescinded but it’s reality folks. Sometimes reality is a bitter shot to swallow – with or w/o salt and lime.
What we have left in our arsenal is in fact, something the NRA (hollowly) promotes – better mental health. Do they also promote raising taxes to pay for better mental health? Nah. That’s not on their agenda. But none of that is my focus. The focus of this article is more about what we should be doing to minimize our rampages into death and misery.
So what can we do Danny?
We can listen. Listen to what Adam Lanza, Travis, Niki & Amadeus and Tilikum were telling us. The old saying that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ is close but not quite complete. A better saying might read:
‘Very disturbed animals often kill other animals. Deal with what causes these disturbances effectively and we just might make some progress.’
Any self-respecting marketing consultant would tell me that my version is too long and too much to comprehend… and they would be correct. It’s even too long for a mission statement. But someone also said that if you criticize something, you need to offer a solution. I believe it goes something like:
‘If you’re not part of the problem, you’re a complete fucking idiot.’
And with that little golden gem of information, wisdom and guidance, I bid you farewell, arrivederci, au revoir and catcha’ on the flipside. Long live the queen! Replace batteries when red LED comes on. Stop draggin’ my heart around. And… let’s make the world a cooler place.
The following resources were used as research to develop this article:
Niki & Amadeus:
DATELINE SACRAMENTO CA – By D. R. Lopez – Special Investigative Reporter, January 15th, 2014 8:34 AM
– Investigative Reporter D.R. Lopez is the current recipient of the widely respected F.J.A.Y., (Faux Journalist of America, of the Year) Award from the prestigious Yos Emite Press Club. In his more than 30 years of faux reporting, D.R. has been nominated for more than 15 famous awards and has won a half-dozen or so not-so-famous awards..
So I quit again. I had stopped smoking cigarettes for a year in 2011, then started up again, quit again towards the end of summer 2013, then started again in September 2013, then quit again on Christmas Day 2013. In summary, I’ve smoked tobacco most of my life. I’ve never been what I call a ‘full-time’ smoker. Rarely have I consumed more than 3-4 cigarettes a day.
I never smoke at work. While my Mom was ill, I began smoking on the drive to and from work but still did not smoke during work. I rarely smoke during the day. At the height of my use, I could put away almost a pack (20), but that was on rare occasions. Most times, my use hovered at 2-3 American Spirit yellow pack cigarettes a night. Convincing myself to quit is a difficult sell to Me as I always think “Gee, you hardly smoke at all, Self: Why are you quitting again?” But Self never answers as Self is Me. I guess that makes me… Self-ish! Ohhhh I slay myself!
A few months back, I decided to look into e-cigarettes as a way of stopping the injection of carcinogenic tar molecules into my lungs (But come on! They’re organic! Doesn’t that mean they’re good for me!?). I went into my local Liquor Locker liquor store, where incidentally I’d found the best deal on my brand of cigs – $5.39!, which was a bargain as they were as much as $7 a pack at other stores. I asked where their inventory of e-cigarettes were and was directed to a glass case of choices.
There were none on display, so I had to look at the boxes that housed them to try and tell what they looked like. The choices were disposable and rechargeable, traditional looking, cigarette shaped devices. Some looked like real cigarettes, some were colorful or all black. I bought two disposables and a rechargeable starter kit. The disposables ranged from $6 to $9 each. The Blu brand rechargeable kit was $35. The black cig with the S is a Saphire disposable.
I took everything home and explored my new nicotine delivery options. What was immediately apparent was that the disposable e-cigs were both physically longer than the rechargeable and the nicotine hit that was delivered, was stronger. I guess the larger battery made for a better delivery of nicotine vapor than the rechargeable. The disposables brands were Blu, Sapphire and one which was strawberry scented made by some other brand that I fail to recall the name of.
The disposables lasted longer than I expected. They say they last 800 puffs but I had no idea what that translated to in terms of how long in comparison to a real pack of cigarettes. Now that I’ve gone through them, they seem to last about as long a real pack of cigarettes. I was now fully invested into the effort of getting my Self-ish self to quit. My strategery: Smoke these silly e-cigs until I decide that they are a waste of time and money, then stop those. This is an important note to you, The Reader. Why is it important D.R.? Well it’s critical that The Reader understand my understanding of what e-cigs were. To me, they were another method of ultimately arriving at Smoking
Cessation Wonderland – a place where no one ever gets cancer, everyone wears nice leather shoes, the sky is brightly illuminated by a beautiful marine blue hue, and Michael Hedges plays fanciful guitar tricks on a busy fretboard while I sleep on a bed of soft green moss. IKR! I was on my way. All I had to do was refrain from buying real cigarettes while simultaneously telling my body “Dude, it’s gonna’ be okay. You’ll still get that same wonderful nicotine kick you so enjoy, it’ll just be coming from a different nicotine delivery device. Okay? We can do this!”.
It took some strong convincing skills but I eventually was able to con Self into embarking intrepidly into this new nic’ paradigm. Since I’d paused before a few times in my life, I wasn’t all that terrified of the process. Not being a heavy smoker, I knew my body wouldn’t go through what a real smoker (One who uses a pack or more a day.) might go through. I wouldn’t be waking up in a puddle of cold sweat. I wouldn’t be yelling at my son for no apparent reason because my body was in a state of nicotine jones.
Nonetheless, it was a challenge set before me that I was eager to take on. I got home and started charging my Blu E-cigs. The two power module delivery devices that came with the kit were already partially charged from the factory but I wanted to see what a fully charged unit’s delivery would be like. To my disappointment, the rechargeable Blu delivery devices… sucked. No matter what I did, I never felt like I was getting the nicotine delivery I needed.
The disposables were by far better at delivery. Even when the Blu e-cigs were fully charged, they never put out the strength of a nic inhale, that my body felt was necessary. ‘But whatev’ I said to myself. ‘I guess this is what it’s going to be like – never really getting much nic or having to use the disposables.’ When the disposables finally ran out, I decided to try and make a go of it with just the Blu brand rechargeables as they were inexpensive and it seemed better environmentally to not have to throw e-cigs away.
I was with a friend at a local bar and was embarrassingly inhaling from my black, LED-tipped, vaporized nicotine delivery device in front, where all the real cigarette smokers sat on cold wooden benches to conduct their nicotine deliveries. I looked across to a young woman sitting with her very drunk friend and noticed she was putting her mouth to what looked like a chrome pot pipe. But it wasn’t making the signature Mary Jane cloud of smoke and she didn’t appear to be terribly concerned as she didn’t look around suspiciously before she inhaled each time (as would most law abiding citizens who might be smoking pot outside a bar – which isn’t’t law abiding at all).
I said, “Excuse me, can I ask what that is you’re smoking?”
She said “It’s vapor.”
“Vapor? Like an e-cigarette vapor you mean?”
“Yeah.” She groggily replied before inhaling from it again. She must have noticed the intensity of my gaze at the apparatus she held in her 28 year old, female hands.
“You wanna’ try it?” She said as she held it out for me.
“That would be great, thanks. I’ve never seen those before. All I’ve seen are these things.” I held up my puny black e-cig to show her. She seemed uninterested in my small-time nic delivery device… and I was about to understand why. I took the marijuana-smoking-paraphernalia-looking device into my hand and gently inhaled. I instantly gasped and coughed. This was not the same as any nic delivery device I’d ever tried. This thing delivered a wallop to the lungs, at least 2-3 times the wallop that a brand new disposable delivered.
“Holy smoke!” I said in amazement. “What the hell is this thing? That was way stronger than these crappy Blu e-cigs.” She said they were made by a company called Vapor For Life. My friend immediately looked up the going rate for them online – about $140.
“Wow, those things aren’t cheap are they?”
“Nope” she said, drunkenly sucking on her pricey nic delivery device. “Try this one.” She said as she fumbled through her large black purse and handed me another device. When she pulled it out, my initial thought was that it looked much like a lady’s vibrator (Yes, I said Lady & I meant it!). It was about the same size and shape and was anodized a light purple color – very similar to so the female pleasuring devices I’ve seen.
I was a little intimidated at first and looked around to see who might witness me putting my lips on what looked like a lady pleasing 8-inch purple vibrator. Again, I was shocked to receive what was the most potent inhalation of nicotine I’d ever experienced.
“How long have you used these things?” Meanwhile, her very drunk and obnoxious fake blonde friend started coming on to me. I wasn’t in the mood for such things that night and honestly found her a distraction to the nic delivery device education I was getting from her friend. But it was cold after all and the fact that she was sitting against me, kept me warmer than if she had not been there.
All I had to do was put up with a little drunk girl talk in order to learn what her friend knew. This proved impossible as her drunk friend wouldn’t stop drunk talking to me. At one point, she hit me on my forehead as a joke. It didn’t hurt but shocked me a bit as I couldn’t recall ever being hit by a female at a bar. But she meant it as a joke and after all, if I couldn’t take a joke, no one could.
“Two years.” Was her friend’s reply. Sorry – I kinda’ went astray on you for a moment. We’re back now.
“You’ve been doing that for two years?” I asked in extreme surprise.
She nodded nonchalantly towards me. I was dumbfounded, shocked, amazed and blown away. Here is why I mentioned earlier ‘This is an important note to you The Reader’. Previous to this night, I’d been of the notion that e-cigs were a gateway or bridge to NOT smoking. I thought that their only function was to help people eventually kick the putrid, disgusting, horrid death-causing habit. Boy was I wrong. Here was a person who clearly had no intention of stopping as she’d been using the high powered nic delivery devices for two years now.
This wasn’t the same as chewing nic gum and it sure as heck wasn’t the same as my newly purchased Blu e-cigs. No, this was altogether different. This was a conscious decision to migrate a habit from tobacco cigs to hi-powered, costly nic delivery hardware. I pondered on this thought for days. What a surprise this was. Why was it that I’d not been informed of this trend? I consider myself ‘hep’ with what The Kids are doing. I’ve even seen the new One Direction movie, so I totally thought I was into what they were putting down y’all. Wassup?
I was horribly blindsided by this discovery and felt that the “now” generation had purposefully held back valuable information and was keeping me in the dark. Having said that though, I’m kinda’ old and should probably be kept in the dark as often and possible. Good for the ol’ ticker to be unaware, ignorant and innocent!
The following weekend I went to a new bar to see my new local favorite band, The Golden Cadillacs. I tend to do things like this by myself as it forces me to meet people and for some strange reason, I almost always do. Whenever I’m with another person, I rarely ever strike up a conversation with strangers. After arriving, I nabbed a seat at the bar and waited for the band to setup. It wasn’t the Cadillacs setting up though and I became disappointed. But your website said you’d be here! Oh well, I’ll stay and watch these guys for a while then go home.
Again, that’s a bit off topic but it’s a just addition to this reporter’s story. While the unfamiliar band played, I got up to go to the bathroom. As I went in, I noticed a draped off back area of the bar. When I came back out, I decided to investigate what was behind the black curtain. What I found was, just like the previous week’s discovery of that girl’s vapor pipes, mind boggling. As I ventured into the small hidden bar area, I came upon a tall clear glass case with clear glass shelving.
On these shelves were various nic vapor delivery devices – all with prices well beyond $100. I then began to notice that some of the patrons of this incognito area were puffing on these devices. There weren’t many people there, so it didn’t really stand out as looking different than a regular bar area. The walls above the bar had hundreds of flavor names that were so small, I couldn’t begin to read them. I retrieved my puny, cheapo Blu e-cig from my pocket, puffed a few times, then went back to the regular bar area to continue watching the foreign band.
Later on that night, I went to the clandestine vapor bar area again and opened the black curtains. What I saw was unreal. There was now a lot more people back there and the fog was so thick, one could barely see to the other side of the hidden bar. It reminded me of when I used to own a retail store that was next to a very old bar, The Ben Parino Club. In the mornings before I opened my store, I would go to the bar and get a cup of coffee. Almost always, between 5:30 am and 8:00 am, the bar would be so filled with smoke that you could not see to the other end of the bar.
The difference between that bar and this vapor bar was that the vapor bar had almost no detectable smell. It was reminiscent of when a DJ powered up their fog machine – which was also little more than water vapor. Again I puffed from my tiny black e-sigs and watched in awe. This was a “thing” now wasn’t it? This wasn’t just people trying to get off tobacco, this was people creating a new lifestyle built around vaporized nicotine – complete with myriad brands, flavors and mixes. What I’d assumed was a way to not ingest tar but still get a nic fix, had actually become this blazed futuristic trail into a thick fog of non-tobacco vapors.
Instantly that night, I made a prediction. Tobacco was soon to be dead. Tobacco wouldn’t be cool anymore with the kids. Tobacco was evil. Vapor was ‘where it’s at man!’ Soon, tobacco use would drop to dangerously low levels. Soon, a person smoking a real cig would be equivalent to a stinky 49’r miner shoving snuff into his unwashed, dirty nostrils. Tobacco was old school. Tobacco was going to be for the uneducated. Tobacco would become a thing of the past, just like Wheel-O’s, Spirographs and cassette recorders. Tobacco… was dead man.
Thank Gawd for developing countries or my Philip Morris stock would be worth pennies soon! This non- tobacco way of life was on its way and nothing we do can stop it. How will the laws treat this new habit? Right now, a bar can openly serve, sell and allow vapor use. But just the other day, it became illegal to use an e-cig anywhere on a school campus. I find this amusing because a college student, who’s vapor use produces no second hand smoke, cannot even vaporize in their own car in the parking lot. Seriously?
That seems kind of senseless to me. Soon, the state ledge will have to outlaw vaporing in bars. Why? Well, it just looks seedy and wrong when you walk in and there is a cloud of what looks like smoke in a bar. It has almost no chance of giving you a nic buzz, it doesn’t have a smell and it dissipates in seconds compared to smoke but none of that will matter because it looks like it’s bad, so it must be stopped. I’d give it two or three years before it’s illegal to vapor in bars and restaurants. Crazy? You just wait.
There will be legal skirmishes and lots of pundits talking on the news but eventually you vapor heads will be back out in the cold, shivering next to a drunk girl to get your nic fix. And this is why I love our America. Because here in the best country like, ever, we don’t do things because they make sense, we do them because we can and that’s sometimes all that matters. We see something that appears to be the same as tobacco smoking, and we outlaw it the same exact way.
My son is almost 5. I imagine that by the time he arrives to be ‘of age’ to smoke cigarettes, kids will no longer know what smoking real tobacco was like. He won’t have knowledge of what it’s like to nearly pass out or to throw up from inhaling too hard on his first cigarettes. He won’t know what it’s like to be asked “Hey buddy, can I get a light?”
And soon, Dad will be saying “Son, back when I was a kid, we would gather up old tobacco cigarette butts we found and make one cigarette out of the tobacco that was left in them.” Or “Son, you’re too young to know this but back in the 80’s, there were these sweetened tobacco cigarettes that tasted like candy. They were called Cloves. You can’t get those anymore because the government made them illegal.” And when I catch him stealing a puff from aunt Megan’s vapor delivery device, then trying to act like it never happened, I’ll think to myself “The Times’ve changed ol’ D.R.. Yes, The times have a changed. But some things never change.”
This has been a SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT:
E-Cigarettes, Vaporizers & Related Nicotine Delivery Devices – No One Sent Me the Memo! WTF?
Regular readers of this blog know that I’m nothing if not a patient human being. I work for the government and I’m raising a 4 year old… I have no choice. But sometimes my stellar patience wears thin, especially during the holidays. As most of us go through ‘just getting through’ the holidays, we are challenged by so many irritations that even the smallest of life’s challenges can become hot points at any given moment.
Let’s say, you just climbed into your car to leave for work on a cold Monday morning. You’re reaching for your jacket which is laying over the passenger seat and your arm knocks over your freshly brewed coffee from the cup holder, spilling the piping-hot, brown liquid across your seat because the lid popped off as if it had never been attached to the cup.
You shout profanities. You get a towel and you sop it up as best you can. The morning now feels assuredly destined to progress poorly and for a moment, you contemplate skipping work altogether but you must carry on because you have a meeting at 9:00 am and calling in sick isn’t an option.
Now you have no caffeine to get you going and you decide to visit the McDonalds of coffee purveyors, Starbucks. I call them this as I do Kaiser Permanente, the ‘Costco of healthcare’. I’m not an activist coffee buyer whom snobs away from Starbucks in order to withhold support for a conglomerate retail coffee chain empire. But I would rather there be a choice of places to get a cup a’ jo.
Unlike those who see Starbucks as the most evil business entity known to America, I see them as a place that employs people at better wages than other corporations and according to some of employees report they are usually treated well. My beef with them is far more mundane and trivial and Wal-Mart is by far way more evil.
To recap, you’ve just spilled coffee everywhere in your car, you had to go back into the house to change your pants and wash your hands, yet you still wreak of coffee. And it’s Monday – the scene is set. Now to move on to my point.
You walk into Starbucks and survey the wait. Oh my god (OMG!)! The line almost extends out of the far door! This is going to take forever! Then, you follow from the back of the line to the front and you realize that the line isn’t nearly as long as you’d thought because for some reason, the people at the front keep stopping miles away from the person conducting their caffeine procurement at the counter.
You think to yourself ‘Gee, if the people at the front of the line were to scoot a smidge closer to the counter, the line wouldn’t be extending out the door of the restaurant’. The door to the restaurant would not be open as long, the cold drafts that blow in wouldn’t cause the people inside to shiver their timbers and the restaurant could save on their heating bill (…and global warming would lessen!)
One by one, people observe an invisible force field that stands a good twelve to fifteen feet away from the counter. But here’s the interesting thing: This doesn’t occur at most other retail establishments. Even at Nordy’s, a line generally doesn’t consist of more than four or five feet of space between the person at the register. And Nordy’s is probably a place where the spacing tends to be even greater than say… the super market.
When was the last time you were at a super market and for some unknown reason, the person in front of you is waiting twelve feet away from the checker? How bout’ like… never? Unless you happen to be standing behind Me and once again, I’m immersed in Google News and didn’t realize the line had progressed, you won’t see this phenomena. Alas, a big space in front of the super market register is a rare event due to those people who are always the first to honk their horn when you haven’t started moving for a green light. “Hey buddy, the line’s moved” is almost sure to be heard in those “Aloof Danny” moments – within nanoseconds.
Yet at Starbucks, it’s not only acceptable to give a Grand Canyon of space between you and the counter, it seems to be an unwritten crowd rule. Some of you are saying “But Danny, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s better to have a defensible space while you’re at the counter”. And to you, I would agree with gusto. I don’t want someone breathing down my neck while I order my triple non-fat latte in my own cup.
No, what I find perplexing is: Why is this crowd policy in place here but almost nowhere else, excepting medical and dental offices (and banks –which I’ll discuss later)? Is buying a coffee a more personal, private experience that requires a generous space behind us? I’ve been inline at Costco and Sam’s Club and could easily fart and hit the person behind me with a direct blow (Useful during holiday shopping rushes).
The other day, I decided to try an experiment while in line at Starbucks. When I got to the front of the line, I completely bucked the unwritten, uncommunicated crowd policy. The line was snaking around the restaurant and was causing a human traffic snarl at the entrance. All the people in front me, one by one, left enough room to run a post pattern play before reaching the counter.
I had the power to effect change.
When it was my turn, I slowly crept past where legions of others that morning had been standing patiently and gained at least three yards, still managing to keep a healthy, hygienic, pleasant, non-privacy threatening distance from the person at the counter. All I had to do now was wait and watch the line behind me and see how they would react to my rebellious coffee house antic.
What do you think the people behind me did? Did they scoot up right along with me, then were followed by the people behind them, causing the line to take up the slack that was in front? Or did they hold back where the imaginary Line Waits Here sign was posted? The answer will follow after this brief commercially sponsored rant:
I’m a funky nutball who’s attention many times focuses on the meaningless details of how a system or organization works. One of those details is how lines are managed by businesses or organizations. I don’t know why but it’s what I do. One of the things that really chaps my… chaps, is when a line is present for food/services etc., and there is no clear place marked for people to wait to be next – a Line Forms Here sign always seems to do the trick. But when that sign is non-existent, things can get ugly and how.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a busy deli/coffee shop/cafeteria/restaurant/bar or the like, and they do not tell people where to start the line. This inevitably opens the door to mischief and hurt feelings as there is ALWAYS someone who will gladly cut in front of people, in order to be served faster.
The worst of these scenarios is when there are multiple cashiers. This sets up the customer for having to wait for an available cashier, only to have their hopes dashed because some jackass makes eye contact with the cashier first and ignores the fact that you were undeniably ahead of them. Some cashiers will call out “Who’s next?” Sometimes this works and other times, the jackass will shout out “I was” or will just walk up and steal someone else’s place.
There are places I’ve shopped where, over and over, people come to near blows over who was supposed to be next. Yet the establishment would rather this chaotic environment be continued before they put up a simple Line Starts Here sign. Why do they refuse to help establish order?
My theory is that it, in their eyes, it takes away some of the quaintness and personality of their establishment. “Oh we don’t want to be that kind of stuffy place that has ‘rules’ for everything. We like to play it casual and low key”. Well the El Problemo with that kind of thinking is that many people are greedy and careless of others. These are the people who cut you off on the way to work, won’t let you in when you’re trying to merge and who would keep the $20 bill that just dropped out of your purse.
I’m so used to being invisible at bars while trying to order a drink, that bars tend to get a free pass with me. I guess they’ve set my expectations accordingly and I have no hope of ever getting served in order of time stood waiting. Plus, bars are usually staffed by male bartenders, who rarely notice that I’ve just been passed up three times for a drink, while other people (hot women) have walked right up and been served. Please tell your favorite establishment to post a Line Forms Here Sign!
This rant was sponsored by http://www.TheBaker.org. Please bake responsibly.
Now, if you’ve made it this far into this blog, you are certainly dying to know what happened at the Starbucks when I attempted to change the way the caffeine starved humans stood in line. To my non-surprise, those that were behind me stayed exactly where they were supposed to stand – right at the imaginary far away Line Waits Here sign.
There was no changing these human’s behavior. It has somehow been engrained into our minds that while waiting for coffee at Starbucks, it is inappropriate to stand closer than 15 feet behind the person being served at the counter. These same people, who later will walk into a post office, Burger King, DMV, state fair, supermarket, Macys, Wal-Mart or medical office, will leave about three to four feet of space between them and the person at the counter. Banks. Those are the only other places where a greater distance is observed (Duh!).
What do I make of this? A hat? A broach? A terrible Airplane movie quote?
I’m not sure why we observe a huge distance at Starbucks but I see no reason why it deserves the same distance as conducting a financial transaction.
But we do and we can’t explain why. And that’s what makes our country so great. We do so many things for no apparent reason other than, we can and we will.
To this I say God Bless America! God Bless Unwritten Crowd Rules!
And… god bless caffeine! For America doesn’t run on Dunkin Donuts, it runs on a bevy of caffeinated product lines, which sometimes cause us to do weird things while standing in line.
Open Letter to The Executives
Dear The Executives,
Recently, a small parcel arrived at my doorstep. Within the parcel, (I’ll make this brief as I’m sure you’re all very busy, planning visions & executing work plans for your organizations.), there was a 3”X5”, 2014 calendar.
The cover page of the calendar read “From your friends at:” Then, printed far off to the right, was a non-profit organization’s corporate logo. I cannot release the name of the organization; for fear that it might black-ball me (What exactly did that term actually mean anyway – “Black Ball”? I assume it has something to do with billiards? The internets told me it meant something far more colorful… (And by the way, it seems like every time I think I know what a well-known term must’ve meant in the past, I’ve been horribly wrong.
Like ‘gift horse in the mouth’ for instance. Believe it or not, the term actually refers to a time when ponies were the preferred animal to practice dentistry on. Those lucky enough to receive a “gift” horse to work on, went on to become high-paid practicing dentists. Those who did not receive a pony, usually had to resort to practicing on large dogs, pigs and the rare monkey. And even then, they could only find work in prisons, cruise ships or Tijuana), from ever again giving bloo- I mean… ever working with them again. For that reason, I’ve one-by-one, painstakingly photoshopp’d their organizational name out of each calendar picture.
I’ll simply refer to them as “Bank of Protein”.
It would be tooting my own horn, raising my own flag, blowing my own nose to share with you how much ‘work’ I’ve done with this organization over the last 30 years. It suffices to say that these people always wanted blood from me… and I willingly gave it to them – And No, it’s not an association founded by all my ex-wives. Let’s just say that if my meetings with them were measured in amounts of liquid, I’d have met with them for a total of 8 or so gallons.
But what this phantom organization’s mission is, is irrelevant to my objective for this paper. It’s a large multi-million dollar, American, corporate-modeled machine that of course, is being run by The Executives. That’s all you need to know about it. Now stop asking or I won’t continue!
That’s all the detail that’s needed to be known as this organization is no different than a gazillion other American organizations of similar size and stature. What they all have in common is that all of them have a common denominator standing stoically in their wheelhouses, ready to take their behemoth ships into the wild open capitalistic waters -and sometimes scurrilous headwinds. This group of older white men and a few token women tossed in for appearances, bravely make decisions about how the organization is run and what kind of coffee will be in the break room (Red Costco barrels of Folger’s or Seattle’s Best?)
I don’t remember what my initial expectation was of the contents of the package. Movie tickets, Yay? Another Togo’s gift cert that I’ll forget about until after it expires? But, when I saw that it was a calendar, I thought, ‘Well now here’s something I can never have enough of.’
Why with only having one on my pc’s OS, one on my phone, one on my ipod, my ipad, my work phone, my work email, my home email, my checkbook, (Yes, I still have one…), my work’s old-fashioned paper calendar that they still distribute to us every year and one calendar even embedded into my refrigerator, I still always look forward to having just one more.
Then I saw the words: “2014 Personalized Calendar”.
Wait a second, they somehow made it personal to Me!? Now this I gotta’ see!
Did they grab pictures that I thought I’d deleted from Facebook, where I was inebriated and ringing in the 2000 new year naked and humping a dolphin-shaped fountain at Sea World? Deer Lord I hope not.
Was it when I had my right foot partially chewed off by a bear in Yosemite, because my hiking partner thought it would be funny to put a Snickers bar in my sock? That actually wouldn’t bother me as I’ve forgiven the bear – just not my hiking buddy. Incidentally, they had to euthanize the bear. It was of great comfort to know that I may have provided its last living meal. What did my foot taste like raw, to a starving Black Bear expecting a Snickers bar?
The point is, I was curious and excited to see what this personalized calendar looked like. I eagerly began flipping the months.
January – A picture of a red ski gondola, photoshopp’d to have my first name on the side. ‘Okay, that’s clever. What’s next?’
February – An overhead of dirt in a garden, with amazingly clean garden utensils at the perimeter. ‘Ummm… okay… that one’s got my name photoshopp’d to look like someone’s arranged my name in planted pink flowers. I’m not sure how I feel about this one but it’s February, my expectations are low’.
March – March kinda’ weirded’ me out. Was it because my name was spelled out in chopped carrots displayed on an old table? Or, was it the fact that the carrots were seconds away from being devoured by beautifully maintained blonde ponies, whom some idiot had left a gate open for, only so they could come and symbolically eat me in pieces?
April – Ah but April made me feel loved again as it was symbolically a jar of honey – cause I’m so sweet. Holy shit! There’s bees winging at me from 2’ O’clock! Like drones high above Pakistan, launching an aerial assault on my sweet honey-soaked terrorist ass, I’ll be a goner’ soon!
May – Nothing says I am someone to admire, like receiving a photoshopp’d arrangement of sea shells in my name. I cried intensely over May as it reminded me of how my Mom’s bathroom always looked. Seriously. She glued seashells to damn near anything that wasn’t a towel or toilet paper. And even those were printed with seashells.
Rest of the Months – I’m withholding all other months because I said I’d make this brief (even though I didn’t actually fulfill that promise, or I wouldn’t have included the sentence I’m writing now). They didn’t make the cut as they were just… well… stupid. Pumpkin pie with – you guessed it – my name on top of it, you all probably smoke what I’m chillzin’ up in here.
But August – That month stood apart from the balance of other months. It’s a beautiful sunset over the ocean and there are seagulls flying over the remnants of an old pier. Centering the orange burning sky, ‘wait… is it?… omg! RTFO! How’d they get those birds to fly in the shape of my name?!’
They must have implanted remote controlling microchips into the brains of all those gulls, so that they could program them all to fly in the shape of “DANNY”! How awesome is that? That had to cost some buckage.
Still, something made me feel odd about seeing my name up in… BIRDS.
It was then that I figured out why I felt so funny inside after leafing through this wonderful 4-color, gifted calendar. It wasn’t the calendar itself that was causing these emotions. It was becoming clear that the twisting of angst within my upper and lower duodenum, was due to knowing that behind the complex process of having an intern or clerical staff person go to a Café Press-like site and enter my name in the field that reads “Enter Subject’s Name Here”, was an Executive that either approved the idea or… Deer Lord… thought of the promotion themselves!
I could vividly imagine how this may have occurred. They were on a flight from Chicago to L.A. and had just finished reading a Sky Mall article on tricks to protect your new ipad from being stolen while in airports. “Never leave your ipad out of sight!” There, in the back of the frequent flyer’s club magazine, where other offers like “The Flex Belt Ab Toner, $199” were all competing for readership, there was an ad that showed the ponies eating “Barbara Simmons”, spelled in chopped carrots. The ad (In fact the entire page, as Executives don’t have time to copy the information or just take the ad) gets ripped out of the magazine and stowed in a briefcase.
Promptly, upon returning to the office the next week, The Executive orders their staff to break ground on the newest of promotional, Thank You gifts. Now, not just anybody got these. I’m the lead Protein Bank representative for my organization. So I’m kinda’ a Somebody there. Regular people didn’t get these calendars. My initial guess was they cost about $3 or $4 each. After extensive internet research, I found the exact style for $3.73 if you bought 500-999 quantity.
I’m sure many of you (Though I highly doubt there are ‘many of you’ reading this), are thinking: “Gee Willickers Danny – can’t you just be thankful for the gift? Yer’ so ungrateful!”
Well, I am and I’m not. I’m grateful that things like this are so affordable now that anybody can buy them if they have the desire to. I’m thankful that Photoshopping has become so easy, a web site can do it.
However if I must be frank, what gives me the heebeegeebees is that somewhere there’s an Executive that works at the Protein Bank, who though that this was a really awesome gift to send their star players. By that thought, I immediately infer that The Executive would most likely LOVE to receive something like this. I found this sweetly disturbing.
I know people like to see their names on credits, lights, bathroom walls, large painted rocks, wooden signs over their porch and license plates. But this… this was something far more whack. Was it the seagulls that sold them on the idea? Were they helplessly kitsch in their own home’s decorations and the ponies drew them in and sealed the deal?
It’s like my Mom’s Christmas presents every year. They were always something that she wanted us to want, rarely things we actually wanted. A marble chess set Mom? Are you truly gone mashugana? When did you ever see any of our family playing chess? Sorry Ma but newsflash: Mexican-Americans generally only play games that involve wagering… or sex.
This Executive wants us A-Teamers to want what they want – which is our own names, made to look like the answer to a crossword puzzle.
All seriousness aside, I would much rather that the “Protein Bank” use “The Money” for this promotion on more valued and treasured purchases. Like, maybe take your staff out to pizza or give them all Starbuck’s cards (with $3.73 as the balance) or, if you really want to impress me, find the bio-scientists that implanted the microchips into those bird’s brains and hire them to program them to fly over Israel, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, so they can beautifully spell out the words:
“Stop Fucking Fighting Already! Share the Land! Be Nice To Each Other God Damnit! And Above All, Forget the Crap That Happened Hundreds…No Thousands of Years Ago and Move Past It!”
Now that… that would be money well spent! (Providing you’re okay with a small number of birds having chips forcibly implanted into their brains, then dying shortly after the event. Peace unfortunately, has its collateral damages).
And without further explanation, here are a few months to quell your curiosity & to hopefully, make your Christian-based, guaranteed by our Constitution, American Holidays just a little brighter!
Merry Christmas, Happy Honda Days & To All Executives, a Good Night!
The following is an excerpt from a first draft of a self-assigned writing assignment I’ve just completed.
The entire essay can be accessed here:
Calling the Cops on Your Mother:
I highly doubt anyone reading this will have experienced what it might be like to call the police on a parent. At least, I hope that isn’t the case. It was during the first week of trying to take care of her while also trying to come up with a workable strategy for her care.
I heard someone on the radio state that people shouldn’t refer to those with mental illness as crazy. Though I agree in that I would never call someone else’s mother crazy.
But my Mom wasn’t about sugar coating terms she’d used her whole life. I knew that when I referred to her as crazy, My mostly sane historical Mother would not have held off using the term. I can hear her voice saying “If someone’s crazy, that’s just what they are”. That seemed to be something my parents both shared, the ability to ignore what the world told them was acceptable.
Did I mention my Mother was crazy? Whacko? Numerous screws loose, truly gone fishing?
Well folks she was and she’d have been the first to admit it… had she been even a little sane during the time she was crazy. She became so crazy that I was literally at my wick’s end with how to deal with the situation. Family wasn’t an option for her care, we couldn’t afford a memory care facility, she wouldn’t have gone willingly even if we could afford it and Kaiser could offer no help. It was a dead end that I felt had no escape route, nobody to call for help except a sister in-law whom was a rock of sanity that I clung to during those times.
There was nothing either myself or my sister in-law could do to manage the situation. I couldn’t stay at my Mom’s house 24/7 and she needed that level of care. She’d refused her medications, so there wasn’t the badly needed medicated state to hope for that might have made caring for her a little less arduous.
The unthinkable idea came to me and I tossed it to my sister in-law. She had no better idea than mine. We both agreed it would be the best thing to do. The sheriff had told us that if she was to call them one more time, they’d have to “take her in”. I remember the phone call vividly.
“Your mother’s been calling us about hearing voices, and dead babies buried in her yard.”
“Yes Sir, we believe she has dementia and we are trying to work with Kaiser to get her help but we’ve not been very successful.”
“Well, here’s the thing Mr. Lopez, we can’t keep coming out to her house. You and your family are going to have to do something.”
“I understand that Sir. We’ve been trying but there’s no one but me who’s able to deal with her like this. And honestly, she’s so far gone, I’m afraid I’m also unable to care for her.”
“Just so you understand, the next time she calls, we’re going to have to take her to a psychiatric hospital. And so you know, those places are not the nicest places to end up. They can be terrible places.”
“We understand that but at this point, that would be a better option than what we are faced with now. We don’t have money to place her anywhere, and the family isn’t capable of providing full-time care.“
“Okay Mr. Lopez. I’m sorry you have to go through this.”
My Mom was still clever in her insanity even then. She somehow knew that if she stated to the cops or the doctors that she was either A. a danger to herself or B., a danger to others, that she would be locked up in the funny farm within hours. She cleverly avoided ever stating those things. In fact, when asked if she thought about or wanted to commit suicide, she would laugh before saying “What? No… I’ve never considered that. No way.”
So, the police and doctors couldn’t perform what’s called a 51/50. I know, you’re thinking the same thing I did, ‘Wasn’t that a Van Halen Album? Apparently it is unrelated (I believe it was the name of the studio the album was recorded in). Either way, it was not an option on the table for us.
It was during one of the last nights I spent at her house, sleeping on the couch while she slammed doors, yelled in Spanish, walked in and out of rooms and generally went berserk all night long. When I woke up, I went out to my car, had an American Spirit or two, then called the cops on my Mother.
“911 Dispatch, what’s your emergency?”
“Hi… my mother has dementia and she just threatened to kill me with a knife.”
This premise had already been decided between my Sis In-law and I prior to the call. She had to threaten me without any grey areas. She had to be a direct threat.
“Your mother has knife on you right now?”
“No, it was about an hour ago.”
“Is anyone hurt?”
“No. I woke up from sleeping on her couch and she was standing over me with a kitchen knife. So I left the house and am now outside calling from her parking lot.”
“Is she still in the house?”
“Yes. She’s in her house by herself. She was up all night acting very crazy.”
“Can I get your name Sir?”
“So, you woke up and she was holding a knife on you Mr. Lopez?”
“Yes.” I could hear the dispatcher typing in the background.
“Do you feel you’re in danger right now?”
“No. I’m outside in my car.”
At that moment, I broke down into an uncontrollable sob.
You can read the rest of this essay at: