I recall not too long ago hearing one of the Spice Girls being interviewed about fashion. At this point in her career I suspect she would probably be Old Spice (Bada-bum!), but she till seemed young to me. She said something philosophical, something difficult for me to get my head around.
"I don't mind being uncomfortable." she said. "I love fashion."
Wow. I don't get it.
Another fashion quote I recall (from somewhere, or somewhere else) was from a male fashion designer. That is, a male who is a designer of men's fashion. He said, "A man's clothing should always hang from the shoulders."
I can get behind that one a bit more. It sounds comfortable, at least.
I am past fifty years old. Well past fifty. I am not much of a one for clothing, except to stay warm and keep from alarming people unnecessarily. I am sufficiently overweight as to have a personal rotunda, and as a consequence I am at the top end of off-the-rack clothing. Even then, I have to look hard to find clothes that fit.
Having recently received a pair of Lee jeans for Christmas, I had to do a little clothes shopping. Like, returning the optimistically sized pants for some that would fit. It took some looking and a switch to the Carhartt brand. I like their stuff. Sturdy. Moderately priced. Long wearing. Sized large enough that I can find my size (mumble mumble) pants.
I also picked up some suspenders to wear with them. My wife hates suspenders. She doesn't like how they look. I don't like a belt cutting me in the middle. I actually don't care much how I look, but I don't mind looking as good as a rhomboid might in a world of more linear creatures. The suspenders keep my pants where I want them, and don't bind my rotunda while doing it.
Anyway, my clothes now all hang from my shoulders. That fashion guy said it was a good thing. Maybe I am fashionable, after all? Probably not.
I have also discovered another comfort factor in suspender worn pants. I can sit at the computer and unbutton and unzip my pants, to relieve pressure on my abundance while doing whatever it is I do here. If I have to get up I can stand, zip and button all in a single smooth move. The suspenders keep the unfettered pants in place long enough to reestablish modesty and propriety with a minimal effort.
I apologize for the mental image. Three ounces of vodka should be enough to burn it away.
I am a logophile. I love words. In my youth I developed a voracious appetite for reading, and satisfying that appetite led to a significant exposure to words and their applications. I read broadly, though it has (sadly) been mostly in my native tongue of American English. Not exclusively so, and I have tasted and enjoyed words from a number of languages. However, most of my experience is in English.
Over the years I read books from different times and different places. Lots of different words used in lots of different ways. I had a youthful fondness for some of the loquacious styles in which richly flavored words were served in complex and convoluted sentences. I suspect I thought that these effusive writings somehow smacked of intellect, and I fancied myself an intellectual.
Oh, not intellectual enough to focus on my studies and really learn the depth of something. No, I grazed widely, but not particularly deeply. If this pasture was good, the next would be even better. I accumulated words as I grazed, and my vocabulary became a wonder. I admired it greatly, and supposed myself to be a great communicator.
I could score very high on those Reader's Digest vocabulary quizzes. I was erudite in my erudition, and most proud of that. Yes, I could really sound profound.
The passage of time has put my delusions in perspective. My dear wife has often challenged me, and rightly so, on my complaint about the communication skills of others. She points out that my loquacity often causes me to fail entirely to communicate, and that speaking (and writing) from a vocabulary so far from ordinary renders my thoughts opaque rather than clear.
A work associate once called my personal compendium of learning "Doctor Lockridge's Wading Pool of Knowledge." It was quite broad, but not very deep. It's funny, because it is true.
Oh, yes. The "Doctor Lockridge" thing. It is a nick-name given in mild derision of my ponderous vocabulary being lobbed around my place of work. A jail is a rather fundamental sort of place. Plain speaking really does serve better in such an environment, but I had such expansive habits in my speech by then that there was little hope.
It took eleven years of constructive criticism to beat the excessive verbiage from my jail related writing. Oh, the wit was appreciated and the abundance of detail recognized, but it took me quite some time to learn that good police writing is "as colorless as water, as dry as the Sahara wind." That phrase is my own invention, and an example of what my poor supervisors were up against.
Words have flavor, spin, subtle nuance. They are dynamic and alive. They are fun, and particularly inexpensive to play with. On the other hand, if miss-used or poorly applied words can cost you a great deal. Jargon is a blessing and a curse, and specialized vocabularies are serviceable in communication only between initiates. When used to exclude, words are less valuable and often hurtful.
Why my little confession? I was trying to put into words some ideas for my blog, Philosophy on Purpose. The prose were becoming ponderous, and I realized that I danced a fine line. I wanted to communicate my ideas, but poorly chosen words would get in my way. It was starting to look like a logo-jamb, and not a blog of distinction. I needed to think, and thinking gave rise to confession.
My name is Michael Lockridge, and I am a logophile.
I have known people who considered themselves to be intrinsically better than others. Not better in some particular way, such as running or balancing a checkbook. They actually believed themselves better. Superior. Entitled. Worthy of respect just by virtue of their superior existence.
Now, I have actually been better than some other people at some things. Sometimes. Not particularly often. I usually stop trying to advance my skills past adequate. Once you can do something well enough to get by and get on, I don't see much need to aspire to higher levels of performance. It is my adequatitude.
I drive perfectionists nuts. Authoritarians don't particularly like my adequatitude, either. But, hey, if I am doing a thing well, meeting reasonable expectations, how much better can it be done? Hmm? I digress.
What, then, would be the characteristics of a truly superior person? Would they be sexually appealing to just about everyone? Male? Female? Young? Old? They would all lust after this super being.
Perfect hair? Even teeth of exceptional whiteness? What color would their skin have? How heavy the muscles on that perfectly proportioned frame? What is the perfect shape for this man or woman?
How would they speak? The voice, of course, would be perfect in timbre and pitch. What about the content of their communication? What would a super being think and talk about? Could everyone everywhere be compelled to listen to the perfect voice speaking with perfect erudition? How could they not? And, they would understand every perfect word.
At first consideration this being should be quite appealing to be around. Yet, would you want to work next to such a person? They would be perfect, and superior to yourself. Looking better, speaking better. Being intrinsically superior they would always do things better than you can.
There would be one consolation. Since they will always be promoted over you (due to their perfection) they would have to be the perfect boss. After all, this person is perfect in every way!
I, for one, cannot recall ever meeting a superior person. I have been under the authority of persons referred to as my superiors, but I can't recall a one who was superior to myself. Oh, they sometimes had more particular knowledge or a better skills set than I did at the time, but none were truly superior. Not in any way I could see.
That reminds me of a story. Old men always have a story.
A woman of some wealth, and the belief that said wealth demanded others to give way, was shopping in a store. She was growing frustrated with the clerk in the store, as he insisted in meeting her as an equal for whom he was performing a service.
"I demand to see your superior!" the woman finally shouted in exasperation.
"Madam, I have no superiors." replied the clerk, calmly. "And damned few equals."
I don't know about you, but I prefer a world of varied and interesting people, with diverse skills and interests. I also prefer to meet them as equals, in a place where we perform services for one another from time to time. A world where people assume authority with responsibility, not to compensate for their own inadequacies but with the purpose of serving their diverse and interesting equals. A world where people submit to authority for the purpose of working together better, not out of fear or by the compulsion of some inflated ego.
It ain't gonna happen, but wouldn't that be just about perfect? We could all be supermen and superwomen. Equally superior!
Fellow blogger Jerry paid me a huge compliment. He selected me for a blog award. The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award. He placed me in company with Paulz Blog, Year 31, and the life and loves of the bubble bath queen. We were the four blogs he selected after receiving the award himself. This is a pass-it-on affair, with a few stipulations. First stipulation is to pass it on to four worthy bloggers, preferably bloggers who are not nearly as broadly read as they might deserve.
That was a bit of a challenge. I read a lot of worthy bloggers, a few of which I have followed for a number of years. Tioga George ranks high on my list of award worthy bloggers, but he is actually very well known on the Internet. He is especially well known among travel bloggers. Others are worthy but blog too infrequently to receive a recommendation. Two of my final selection are travel bloggers, each with their own style, one is a blog of deep thinking and the final selection is an artful space that is comfortable and fun.
Gypsy Larry is a full time RV'er. He writes well of his travels, and is an excellent photographer. Larry is a cancer survivor, something he has in common with Tioga George. Having followed Larry's blog for some time now, I am convinced that surviving cancer has given him a perspective on life that is positive without being cloying, and a sense of strength that only comes from being tested in battle. His blog has been of enormous value to me, as I will share later.
Stu and Donna are solo travelers who found each other on the road, and have joined together to continue the adventure. They share that adventure through pictures and prose, and provide a lot of great reading for a vicarious traveler such as myself. They have combined the RV travel adventure with motorcycle adventuring, which lends some added interest to their blog.
La is a story teller. Her art form is not fully appreciated in our modern era of endless entertainment, but it is a critical art form for humans. Books, poetry, songs, movies and the like are modes of telling stories. The story teller who passed culture on from generation to generation were the original entertainers and historians. La keeps this art alive. Her blog is a warm and pleasant place, rich and full of fun.
Pliny is a thinker and very good writer. He is also a fair poet who receives high marks for tackling subject matter that does not fit well into the forms of poetry. We are far apart on a number of things we have discussed, yet the discussions have always been civil and positive. His observations are always challenging and interesting, and his opinions always seem to be founded in sincere thought and a genuine compassion for human beings.
Each of these blogs contribute to the quality of my life. I read them regularly, and value the contribution each blog makes to my day a bit better. These people have become Internet friends, and I appreciate them as such.
The next stipulation is to present ten things about myself. This is the kind of thing I generally avoid on the Internet, along with surveys and similar things. Ten things. Hmmm.
1. I have spent the last twenty years in jail. Granted, I wore a badge, and got to go home each day, but I was still in jail. I have been retired for three months, now. I don't really know how long it will take to gain the perspective necessary to properly assess the things I gained by this protracted experience. The career provided the adequate income and stability I sought to raise my family, and I now have a pension. All in all, I guess I won.
2. Being a grandfather is my favorite job. I now have five grand children, the youngest being a week old. Four currently reside in my house, with mommy and daddy, and the fifth (who is actually the first) stays with us frequently. I am frequently buried in children as I sit in my recliner. It makes me feel wealthy.
3. Along that same line, we have four generations living under one roof. It is a bit like Rosanne meets the Waltons. Our senior member is 83, our youngest a week old. For the most part it is very good, but there are days I miss the parking lot.
4. I lived a good part of last year (and a bit more) in the back of my truck in a parking lot. I was working graveyard shift at our south county jail. I did not feel safe driving after being up all night working twelve hour shifts. So, I got a truck tent and set it up in the back of my truck. It was surprisingly restful, quite comfortable, and I enjoyed it very much. I may go camping again, soon, once the rains go away.
5. The whole family loves Disneyland. I have been to the resort twice in the last year, for a total of eight days in the parks. I can't get enough of the place. We have current annual passes, and have had previous annual pass years. My wife and I prefer to fly down, these days. Trying to drive 400 miles in one day is for the younger family members.
6. I have a reputation as being quite good at inflicting pain. I have mixed feelings about the skills and the reputation. I started working in our jail at the age of 37. I realized that I was going to be working in a difficult job during years of my life that lacked some of the benefits of youth. I learned to fight fast and hard. I mastered pain compliance techniques so that I can end battles quickly. I developed even more facility at ending conflicts non-violently. It really is better that way.
7. I have written a fantasy fiction novel. It is not yet published, but finished. I am still assessing publishing options. The traditional modes are time consuming and difficult, but do insure some kind of income. Self publishing options are easier, but more challenging in marketing. That said, the book served it's purpose.
8. I am a depressive. I had a near breakdown several years ago, and sought counseling to correct the problem. Through the counseling I learned of the depression, and developed a system of self-help to overcome the problems. One thing I had to do was start something and see it to completion. As a consequence of that therapy I have a finished novel and depression is under control.
9. My family is of great importance to me, yet I have a deep need for quiet time and an intense wanderlust. To manage my depression I also sought out and followed the blogs of travelers. If I could not be on the road myself I could be there vicariously. In a very real way my travel blog friends have helped to save my life and my career. Google maps with street view has been pretty useful, as well.
10. I am a Christian, trusting in the grace of God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, to be sufficient to pay for my sins and bring me into eternal fellowship with the God of creation. My particular pathway to God came through agnosticism and mysticism. I choose to respect the pathway of each of my fellow humans, sharing with them my own experiences but trusting God to guide them on their own journey.
My Internet friend Willow has a very nice blog. She has 1201 followers at the time of this writing. Her blog combines excellent writing skills with very fine photographs. It is largely about her home, Willow Manor, and her life there. Now, success cannot simply be measured in numbers. I suspect a lot of bloggers have utilized "tricks" to make their numbers stand out. Still, 1201 followers is a pretty impressive number for a personal blog.
Many of the numerically successful blogs I have visited have several elements. The overall appearance is clean, professional and inviting. There are plenty of pictures, and many are "eye candy" quality. The pictures themselves are well composed and attractive. A visit just to look at the pictures is worthwhile.
Another element is good writing. Crisp, well written prose, with a sharing personal quality. You feel welcomed in, and it is like a nice conversation with a long time friend. Not too long, but full enough to seem fulfilling in the reading. If poetry is used, it must be of good quality. Hallmark style poetry (which I think is derivative of some of the works of Emily Dickenson) will not do. Original works are especially appealing.
These places are just nice places to visit. Warm. Comfortable. Appealing.
While I would love to have a massive readership, I tend to write my blogs as a shared mode of exploring ideas. I do not know if that is as appealing as great food images and recipes. Based on numbers, apparently not. However, a larger number of readers could provide more feedback, and aid me in refining my thoughts. That alone makes expanding my readership appealing.
I do know that I value blogs. I like to see things from the perspective of other eyes, hearts and minds.
Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube have opened a level of sharing that is quite rich. It also provides some contact points for linking blogs. Ideas are published raw and fresh and unfiltered. No editors other than the writers. No marketing directors deciding what will be seen by whom. No economics involved, other than the reader deciding where to spend their time.
I would love to have the readership of a mighty newspaper column writer. My erudite opinions out there shaping the world. However, I haven't earned that, in the blogosphere or anywhere else. Those writers usually had to claw their way up through a very competitive industry, eventually earning the print space to do a little of what I can do right now on the Internet.
This would be a great way to make a living. Some try to do that, using tools to draw hits on their blogs and encourage people to click on the ads. Unfortunately, the ads are generally the best content of those blogs. Even though I did include ads (mostly because it was easy, and I actually could use a few bucks) the revenue is not the purpose of my work here.
I love thinking, I love writing, and I love reading. Blogs are good for that.
I have a few blogs in the works, but additional stuff will have to wait. I have more important things to do. Abigail Elisabeth Casey made her arrival last night, and we are busy watching grandkids. I am about to get in the shower and get ready to take my turn visiting the little lady (and her mommy and daddy) in the hospital.
Probably my greatest treasure and pleasure these days would be time with my grandchildren. Abbie will be grandchild number five, and though I am not a small man I really don't know if I will have enough lap for this growing herd. A way will be found, however. Her older siblings and cousin already wrestle over lap real estate, but being so small she wins a special allowance of time and space.
Well, enough Internet chit-chat. I need to go see the new princess.
I have been a book club member from time to time. In the 1980's I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club. For a time I allowed the default books to ship. I received a novel from an established author, and a second choice from an up-and-coming author. Our economic situation was unable to continue the practice for very long, but during that time I received a number of pretty nice books.
One of those books was The Gunslinger, by Stephen King. It was quite different from any other King story I had read, but I found it intriguing. It ended as if beginning a series, yet the next several Stephen King books were not a continuation of the tale. The book faded into the past, and I only occasionally wondered when the tale would be taken up again.
I don't recall just how many years passed until I became aware of the thread being picked up, but I do recall awaiting the following entries with great anticipation. There seemed to be a lot of gaps, filled by other books by Stephen King, but only rarely a continuation of The Dark Tower.
By 1997 or so I was four books into the series, and still anticipating "the rest of the story." In 1999, Stephen King was struck by a moving vehicle while walking along a road. He nearly died that day, and the tale with him. I was concerned about the man, of course. He was badly damaged and his recovery was challenging. However, I was also concerned about the tale.
After all, I had many hours of reading invested, and many years of waiting.
Stephen King recovered. Though his injuries gave him some challenge, he returned to writing. The Dark Tower plodded onward, and the final novel was published in 2004. It had proved to be an emotional journey for me, and via his various other writings I must conclude that it was also emotional for him.
I was unable to read for recreation for six weeks following completing the series. I have read it all twice, since.
Robert Jordan began The Wheel of Time series in 1990. I do not recall just when I began reading the series, but I believe it was when the seventh book was released in paperback. I consumed all of the available novels in the series, and had to start buying them in hardback when they came out to get the next installment.
I met Robert Jordan at a book signing for the tenth volume, Crossroads of Twilight, of which I have a signed copy.
This series has been a huge investment in time for me. Once I was current on the books and awaiting the next release I would reread the prior novels. Thus, I have read the earlier novels a number of times. I am presently rereading the novel Knife of Dreams for only the second time. I am only pages away from finishing.
Robert Jordan died in 2007, without finishing the series. However, the series has a huge following, and the man heroically spent a lot of his last hours conveying the end of the story to his wife and editor Harriet McDougal, and selected follow-up author Brandon Sanderson.
I received the next volume of the series this last Christmas, and am just about ready to begin reading. It will be interesting to see if the tale can maintain the same flavor as Jordan's previous works. If Jordan and his wife had not made this great final effort the end of the tale would have only existed in fan fiction. Even if the flavor changes a bit, we can at least appreciate that Jordan did, indeed, tell the end of the tale.
Some writers are able to generate series fiction that does not leave the various volumes dependent upon reading everything in order. Terry Goodkind does rather well in this in his Sword of Truthseries. Generally he tells the requisite back story well without too much plot exposition by characters in the books. The first five novels are able to stand alone, which is not the case in either The Gunslinger or The Wheel of Time.
Reading series fiction can be rewarding. The epic scope of such works can provide the literary equivalent of the vistas of the Grand Canyon. Huge, beautiful and overwhelming. However, there are dangers. Writers are mortal creatures.
So are readers. I am nearly as old as Jordan was when he died. Something to keep in mind.
When I was growing up images like this one appeared in news reels, movies and other film formats to serve as icons of progress and prosperity. By the time I completed high school images like this represented the rape of the Earth and destruction of the environment.
That is not a huge span of time. Two decades, perhaps a bit less. The period of industrialization was much longer, of course. I just happened to come into being around the time of transition. I have the benefit of experiencing two different states of being. Two different ways of thinking.
I had the benefit of seeing things from two different perspectives.
I have also had the opportunity to see the coming of what might be called the digital era. I recall a time when electronic computers were just coming into being. Computing machines had existed a bit longer, but the computer as we know it (more or less) came into being about the same time I did.
In high school we had a very early computer to experiment with. The available memory was measured in bits, not bytes. We fed in our programs and data with switches or paper tapes on a teletype machine. Additionally, we had access to a remote data processing machine. We attached the phone to cups on the modem, and fed our programs and data into the remote machine by using punch cards.
My cell phone is smarter than any of those machines.
I recall seeing a central processor made of wires and little magnetic rings. It was as big as a Volkswagen van. It weighed as much as a Volkswagen van. It was noisy when it operated, those thousands of little metal rings flipping and flopping between states.
I sit here, communicating with the whole world using my personal computer. I have two, a desk top and a netbook. I have a home network sharing the Internet and other resources between six computers. I have over a terabyte of storage. I take it for granted and at the same time live in constant amazement.
We are probably on the dividing line between major world views right now. Perhaps the transition from fossil fuels to (?). I suspect that (?) will prove to by hydrogen, but I may not live long enough to see the full transition. Lots of other things are going on. Change often appears to be the only constant.
My grandfather, Carl Laatz, was for many years a television repair man. Yep. In ancient days they actually fixed those things. They didn't just throw them out (and recycle, of course). He was there in the era of radio, when enthusiasts were really into that technology. He saw television come into being. Grandpa Laatz had his own shop, and fixing radios and televisions was a decent way to make a living. He saw television go main stream.
I grew up always having a television. Oh, I saw changes. However, I did not experience the transition. I have only one perspective with regard to television, though I have a lot of different opinions about it as a medium.
These are just examples of how our perspective impacts not only the way we think about things, but what we think about. The limits of perspective can often influence our judgement regarding other people in other places and other times. We can sometimes draw false conclusions due to our perspective, and as a consequence never really understand other people and other eras.
In mathematics there exists "perspectives," or frameworks of reference. There are mathematical tools to allow for transforming mathematical perspectives. To transform our perspectives relative to other people and other times we have to use another set of tools. The art of research and more importantly imagination.
I have known people who cherished their own perspectives so greatly as to never allow for any other. I am sure they have their reasons, but I have preferred to expand my learning and apply my imagination for the sake of better understanding people, places and times. Most of the time it has simply been an enrichment of my own life. I live with the hope, however, that on occasion it has made a real difference to someone, somewhere, sometime.
I am currently 62 years old. At present I am a retired correctional officer with 20 years of service. (My real job these days is being a Grandpa.)
I am married to my long-suffering wife, Linda. I have three children; Matthew, Beth, and Jon. I currently have six grandchildren; Alexandra, Madelyn, Wyatt, Lucas, Abigail and Landon.