The following are gleaned from the blogs of “Don Vargas” posted under the pseudo handle of pistinabq a few years ago (before his misadventure in the Valle Abajo—see The Tower of Il Serrohe by RJ Mirabal for more details) in a forgotten corner of the Internet (now deleted, but preserved here for your edification).
I know I have neglected this feature of this web site, but I will be digging around for more of Don’s “jewels” to share. Stay tuned!
It’s hard to tell if he’s “pist” as in “pissed off” or in the British sense of being drunk… probably both. Note: the views expressed here are Don’s alone and not necessarily that of the author… me!
“Happy Daylight Stupidity Time!!” by pistinabq, March 10, 2008.
I have some other names for this extended time of the year (which is now longer than the old DST; in fact, it’s longer than “standard time” which means standard time isn’t standard anymore!). How about Daylight Satanic Time or Daylight Sh—but I digress.
It is a plot by the morning people of the world to get the rest of the rational and tired people out of bed even earlier at a time when the sun is just starting to come up at a decent time. Who made these people Pope? It’s then submissively accepted by the other minority, who are either retired or have the good fortune to have a later arrival time to work, like say, 9:00 am or later. They don’t care because it’s light out when they get up.
If these people really have to “save” daylight (more on that in a few seconds), why not wait until everyone can still enjoy daylight in the morning and late afternoon? If we must scam ourselves into thinking we’re adding daylight to the day (the sun does that no matter what stupid idea we create to artificially measure time, that’s why it’s called “summer”), then let’s do it starting with Memorial Day and end it with Labor Day (two Mondays that most people have off and when the sun is happily shining for the majority of hours in the day). Of course in the Southern Hemisphere, they can pick the equivalent dates that fit their solar schedule.
That, or these morning people, who are usually in charge of making idiot decisions like enforcing a time change (because they get up in the dark to hatch their evil plots), can just get up an hour earlier (quietly and without enforcement) every day to greet the darkness with relish while the rest of us get more sleep.
And here’s the real thing that pisses me off about this Stupidity: (1) they say it saves energy. Really? Careful surveys of energy use show the opposite is true in the early months and later months of the DST period (it’s called the “dark of winter” for good reason!). We have to turn on the lights earlier when we get up in middle of the night to get ready for work or school and it still gets dark early in the evening!
(2) They say it allows for more outdoor activities in the afternoon when people get off work. Oh? Like more time to check your personal email, play with your smartphone, iPad, play videogames, take a nap… Hmm, those seem to be indoor activities aren’t they? Forget the tiny minority of people who walk, jog, or sweat doing something outside. Nothing, including darkness will stop them from getting their endorphins. The people who do real work outside all day want to be inside when they get home. If they really want to be outside, take a flashlight or go where they have outdoor lighting (it doesn’t take that much energy compared to what we have to use in the morning anyway).
And finally, (3) I say (and I’m backed up by objective scientific studies) it disrupts sleep which is not good for you for dozens of reasons such as heart attacks increase at this time of year when we have to force our bodies up earlier, depression increases (it’s dark outside, hello?), causes disruption of digestion and other body cycles. Also there are more traffic accidents, more children walking to school or waiting for buses are harmed in accidents, etc. We lived hundreds of thousands of years without Daylight Stupidity Time, so why start now? Just because we can?
If you want to extend something, just extend your middle finger to those who want to keep enforcing this violation of nature and go get yourself another hour of blessed sleep in the morning while it’s still dark.
“Shut up and Drive or Park and Yak!” by pistinabq, March 9, 2010.
I have become increasingly disturbed by the appalling lack of attention people pay when driving. It is always a problem that occasionally results in “accidents” though it seems hardly an accident when someone, who is not paying attention to the traffic, road, and environment around them suddenly finds themselves the cause of a crash or some other mishap while driving.
Personal disclosure: I am not a professional driver, nor am I a highly adept driver, but I consider myself fortunate to have developed the ability to pay undivided attention to what I’m doing and what is happening in traffic when I drive. I claim no special skill or happy result of genetics. I do it because I don’t want to get hurt or die while driving nor do I want to do the some to anyone around me.
It’s not hard. There are many distractions but the biggest is a cellphone. You cannot even think of having a cellphone turned on while driving and certainly not talking on it or, worst of all, texting. Many suffer the illusion (called multitasking which means doing many things very poorly at the same time) of paying attention to their driving while talking on the phone because, after all, they are “watching” and have one hand (or even both) available to steer, etc. But the odd thing about talking on a phone is that it occupies portions of the brain that demand high attention. You can have traffic in your sight, but the phone takes away the ability to quickly react to unexpected situations even though your eyes are open.
What are “unexpected situations”? A traffic light changing (from red to green or vice versa—which I have observed many times while stuck behind some brainless idiot yammering on their phone while not noticing the light has changed to green). Cars leaving their lanes nearby, up ahead, or worse yet, oncoming traffic that has decided to enter or cross your line of travel. A car in front stopping suddenly (or even predictably because the light has gone to red or a stop sign is ahead). A pedestrian or bicyclist making a move to cross the lane in front; children playing near the road; etc.—all are unexpected if you’re not paying attention.
Yet these are normal events in most any drive unless you are out on a country road completely by yourself.
Driving is not an automated activity.
If we increase the lack of attention the potential for disaster goes up by a factor of ten or more which happens when you are texting while driving. You not only have your conscious attention diverted, but chances are your eyes are on a screen, 2 by 3 inches in size, down at your lap. The amount of time it takes to look down and back up—about 3 seconds—means your car will travel about 100 feet at 30 mph and over 250 feet at 60 mph with your eyes off the road.
Go out to a street or road someday and stand by the side when there is some traffic (it doesn’t even have to be rush hour). Measure out both 100 (35 paces) and 200 feet (about 70 to 80 paces) and then watch traffic and what happens as they cover that distance. If someone were not watching the road for that distance, what could happen? Miss the changing of a light? A stopped car up ahead? A child crossing the road?
Keep in mind that texting involves an amount of time considerably more than 3 seconds when a message is read or tapped out.
3 seconds is only the time to look down, then back up.
Of course, this is insanity.
I know something about addiction which is not the subject of this diatribe, and I know some of you are addicted to texting and/or talking incessantly on cellphones. If you aren’t addicted, stop doing it while you drive! But if you just gotta talk, then park and talk… or hang up and drive.
If you are addicted, you need to look at a typical 12 step program and adapt it to cellphone addiction because if not, your life, the lives of your passengers, and the lives of people all around you in traffic is in serious peril every second attention is diverted.
Same goes for any other distraction that takes your mind off driving. Be alert, pay attention, and think.
(The following may be of special interest due to the recent Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. The more things change, the more…)
“Amish Tragedy May Spark Resolution to Find a Solution… or Not!” by pistinabq, October 11, 2006.
It’s been over a week since the senseless killing of five school girls and the wounding of five more girls. It happened on what should have been a quiet, routine day of school in a little one room schoolhouse in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. As with other school shootings, the usual talking heads sprout up across the media saying we need to control the sale of guns while others argue “people kill people, not guns,” ad nauseam.
The problem is not all the constraints we try or fail to set up to “prevent” such horrific acts. The problem is our lack of action until something well out of the ordinary happens which those in the media pounce on like vampires with iron-poor blood. Why do ten children, all girls, have to be terrified and shot before it becomes a problem we should attend to? Isn’t the murder of anyone reason enough to evaluate what we allow in our semi-free society?
All the issues of freedom, safety, personal and social responsibility are just as critical when one child or adult, for that matter, is murdered. What did people know about the murderer before they went on a rampage whether it was a killing spree leaving one person dead or five, or ten, twenty, thirty, or more? Why is it families and friends of seriously unhinged people are unable (or unwilling) to do anything about someone of questionable sanity or a strong amoral bent?
Certainly laws that were meant to protect one’s freedom have now gone so far as to protect any nutcase from being restrained or medicated enough to protect the rest of us. No, we don’t want to lock people up or give them brain-addling drugs “just because.” But do we really want to let clearly dangerous people loose like unchained rabid dogs? These are the unintended consequences of a movement to protect someone’s rights even when they will endanger the rights of everyone around them.
And don’t even get me started on the leniency of our justice system which can barely bring itself to slap the back of someone’s hand for a horrific crime. That will be the subject of another rant… er, blog.
I supposed we could try to tightly control guns like many countries around the world, but then if you have mass or even a single murder on your mind, is a thing like a rule or law going to stop you? This country has a long tradition of gun ownership with millions of weapons everywhere. Can our police round them all up without leaving just enough in the black market to supply the needs of anyone who really wants one? Have we controlled drugs very effectively?
Sure, you can set up qualifications, background checks, etc. But that mostly controls the law-abiding, relatively sane among us.
Maybe the best solution is dong nothing outstanding including barely reporting on all the murders whether there is one victim or many. Unstable, dangerous people are more influenced by media coverage (indeed, macabre glorification) of these incidents than the rest of us who are sickened and outraged. Notice these kinds of incidents come in clumps because the publicity incites the unstable as well as showing them how much attention and notoriety they will achieve. Any publicity is good publicity especially for murderers, particularly mass murders.
Violence in our entertainment sets us all up to become accustomed to horrific acts. Though for most of us, we are always shocked to a much higher level when it is real violence as opposed to reel or game violence. When some of the brain circuits for social and moral behavior are not quite wired right, violence in entertainment is no different than real violence; in fact, it’s all quite fun and exciting.
So do we lock up all the crazies including the borderline weird among us? Do we take everyone’s guns away (followed by knives, ingredients for bombs, and tough plastic forks) thereby disarming the sane to make it easier for the truly dangerous to maim and murder? Do we turn all entertainment into variations of “Barney”? Do you think we can really do that?
Of course not.
We have to take care of ourselves and those around us while seeking solutions a careful step at a time trying to avoid the steamed up reaction that always is called for when the numbers of victims gets high enough to create a media and social frenzy. It’s the frenzy (and political leaders who take advantage of it) that is our problem. Why not deal with it one incident and perpetrator at a time who may live next door to us or in our own towns?
Then we can gradually work our way to workable solutions, not a patchwork of Band-Aids which benefit hardly anyone. Away from all the attention and mass expressions of grief, it may already be working anyway because the number of deaths from violence is actually decreasing even in “violent” American. It’s the media drama that’s increasing.
“Health Scares and Advisories Discredit Themselves!” by pistinabq, July 21, 2010.
Once again the major media outlets have alerted us to a new danger or bit of advice concerning our health. Does it matter what the topic is this time? No.
We could be warned of the dangers and confusions arising from mammograms or PSA tests (for us guys). Of course, these are the headlines. Read the details and maybe you’ll decide it’s a valid warning for you… or not at all because you fit a profile that strongly advises you follow the recommendations your mother and doctor gave you years ago.
It’s all a good excuse to make news more entertaining while making the informative aspect confusing and contradictory. Eat more meat! No, eat more vegetables! Meat made civilization possible. No, veggies will make you giddy and ethical! Eat raw meat! No, cook it well done, you idiot! But if you cook it on a grill (yum!), the seared meat contains carcinogens that will make your genitals fall off while dying a painful death before you’re 40 years old!
See how hysterical it gets? Look into the facts behind all the hysteria and you’ll find conflicting studies and opinions among scientists (not as much fact as you would like, for sure!). Is much of this new information? Not really, unless something truly ground-breaking has been uncovered. Most medical and scientific research is slow and painstaking. Ignore the bleating talking heads on the TV, the Internet, and popular press and pay attention to your common sense to question the titillating headlines.
Read the article. Don’t just listen to the babble.
And remember this: no matter what you do, how you eat, what kind of exercise you get, etc. we’re all suffering from a terminal disease called Life and Time ultimately calls the shots.
Is wine good for you? Who cares, it can make you feel good, heart healthy or not. Or whatever it is that brings you pleasure. Enjoy life, eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow…
“They’re Dogs, Not People!—A Diatribe on the Humanification of Canines” by pistinabq, November 11, 2005.
Though you might find me in a windowless college classroom in a large Southwestern city or lounging about a large home in an expensive neighborhood in the same city, I grew up in the country on a crappy little farm where all the chores had to be done largely by me or my father when he was sober which was almost never. I had dogs throughout most of my childhood and there were always cats around to earn their keep controlling the rodent population. But my constant companions around the farm and along the dirt roads I rode on my bike were my dogs. Jack was my last dog who took me from the sixth grade through to my second year of college.
I knew dogs as buddies on the hunt for jackrabbits, swimming partners in the irrigation ditches behind our farm, cowboys rounding up our milk cow, and companions on untold adventures all across the countryside of Los Padillas, my Middle Rio Grande home town. I could share anything with my dogs: my imagination as well as the ups and downs of life with a bastard for a father. Yet, not once, did I view my dogs as people. I didn’t care much for people, still don’t in most cases. Yet I didn’t transform my closest friends into something they were not.
Dogs don’t philosophize nor do they make value judgments of their humans, they simply become attached to us and act accordingly. But they don’t share our taste for food, clothing, hygiene, religion, or family relationships. To them, we are either a member of their pack or we’re not. Pity the asshole who gets bent out of shape around a dog who perceives him as an enemy to his pack. However, if you’re an accepted member of his pack, then you have a good buddy and protector. Generally, the key humans in a dog’s life are his alpha male and/or female and their accepted associates. And that’s the end of it.
If you like steak with all the gourmet fixings, your dog will approve without thinking about it. Even if you’re a vegan, they will tolerate it, but I guarantee they’re not enthusiasts of such foolishness. In my experience with dogs on the farm when I did not impose any preference on them, they showed a strong attraction to any kind of shit. To them it was irresistible comfort food. Some kind of “gourmet” dog food that most humans would find a luxury doesn’t really ring their bells. But a fresh pile of bullshit is heaven on a platter. In fact, observe the most citified indoor hand-bag dog when he comes in range of a fresh turd produced by a fellow canine. He’ll go for it like it’s fresh chocolate.
And so it is with all human preferences and our rather overly self absorbed musings. They don’t give a shit… actually they do give a shit for shit, but not for our other “essentials of civilized” life. Stop with all the grooming (except enough to prevent matted and smelly fur); the dressing them up in sweaters and other clothing (did they have clothing when running across the tundra in their previous wolf and coyote lives before we bred out their natural thick coats?); the references to them as “members of the family” unless you mean “members of the pack”; and intimations of their benevolent philosophy. They’re benevolent to you and members of your “pack” but hardly anyone else.
Do them a favor: let them be dogs and they’ll let you be a human-alpha-pack-leader. They know you’re different from them, but do you?