Chaos Theory

I apologize to butterflies everywhere. They are awesome creatures who change the world. Sorry.

Not that I’ve ever scoffed at the idea that little changes can make huge differences. It’s just seemed theoretical. I’ve never been a person with patience. I want big, spectacular change. Now please.

The last few months, though, have been uncertain. Lots of uncertainty, and none of that having to do with the headline uncertainty we see now. So double uncertainty. And fear, and worry.

So, as I noted before, I’ve found myself doing little routines. Little To Do lists sit on my desktop calendar. I clean the bathroom every Tuesday because the bathroom will not clean itself, because it will not be cleaned by the people I live with, who are either too busy (Julie) or too unaware (John), and because bathrooms should be cleaned. But also because it helps make my life seem manageable. It would be just as clean if I did this on Monday, but Tuesdays are for bathroom stuff.

Thursday is laundry. And so on.

I understand all of this. Routines help, habits help. They eliminate some chaos. And they add up, sometimes (not the bathroom; that resets pretty quickly, I’ve learned).

My little adventures with exercise have changed me. The other day, with some sunshine and time on my hands, I walked to the beach and back. The beach is about 3 miles away, which makes it a decent hike. The beach is, also, apparently at sea level or thereabouts.

My house is not at sea level. My house is, actually, at a fairly high elevation for this portion of the county. So getting to the beach was fun and getting home was interesting, but also fun, considering I couldn’t have hoped, imagined or dreamed of such a walk a couple of years ago. So I’m better now with the walking thing.

But it’s the push-ups. No question. Doing these dumb push-ups has somehow changed me, I think. Yeah, it could be spring. It could be mental illness. It could be somewhere in between.

I don’t want to sit still, though. I don’t want to sit in front of the computer or watch movies or let my mind wander. John has stopped hanging out here in this little den with me because he says I’m not in here as much anymore. I’m not, either.

Funny. This little routine, this little bit of minimal exercise, calisthenics really, a marginal exercise with a benefit mostly, as far as I can tell, of being able to do more push-ups, seems to have pepped me up.

And yesterday, as I was sitting in the waiting room, about to get a haircut, my eyes were drawn to the carpet at my feet. Nice carpet. A nice, wide floor space. Perfect for push-ups.

I’m not sure what the reaction would have been from a hair salon full of ladies at the image of a middle-aged man suddenly dropping to the floor and pumping out 20 good form push-ups. I’m pretty sure, actually.

But I was thinking it. And thinking that push-ups are the new butterflies. One here and there, over time, and pretty soon we’re talking something, dunno, different.

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They Never Said That Edition

“Hello, good evening, and welcome!” — David Frost (I guess not really).

(Frank Langella as Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as Sir David Frost in Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon”)

Creeping codgerhood rears its ugly head, which sounds to my ear like a mixed metaphor but I can’t quite figure that out at the moment.

“That’s not the way it really was,” though, is a sure sign of getting old enough to care about stuff that shouldn’t matter and doesn’t except to old coots who have nothing better to do. I’ve avoided this pretty well, I tell myself, and then I go and rent “Frost/Nixon” and grimace through the whole damn thing.

And feel like maybe my parents when “Happy Days” and its big screen predecessor, “American Graffiti,” were all the rage in the early 1970s (although AG was set in ’62, as its tagline always announced, which we ignored and another thing I really shouldn’t remember). The 50s were what we loved, thought we loved, idolized, lionized, whatever. Do-wop and T-shirts and and DAs, we wanted some please, and my parents’ generation seemed bemused and also a bit critical, even if muted.

“You know, all that is pretty much bullshit,” they’d say.

Add in political nerdiness and “Frost/Nixon” drove me crazy. You’d think that 32 years later Mr. Howard would be allowed to make his movie and do movie things, like compress events and fictionalize things and use exposition and get theatrical, without some guy up northwest bitching about it.

I liked it, really I did. It was compelling. Nice performances, a couple of scenes that were cinematically pretty, even.

But bullshit, historically, and I guess that’s where I’m at. Primarily because Nixon comes off sort of sympathetically and I’m an old 70s rebel who cuts him no slack, of course. And I know a lot, not just from being alive. I’ve got lots of books, read more than that. I had plenty of sympathy, too, and then I didn’t. The man was twisted and just unpleasant, and even though his crimes now seem a bit petty compared to multiple waterboardings and made-up war criteria, he did wrong things and we’re supposed to have laws in this here country.

More codgerhood with that, too.

But don’t take it from me. I’m just an old guy who reads too much, and Ron Howard was actually in “American Graffiti,” so he should know, which is also a mixed metaphor, or a faulty allusion, something, I’m too old to think right now, sorry.

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So, This Is Thursday

I know what makes me tick, pretty much. Life, experience, years, tendencies, narcissism and necessity have forced reflection, and I have a handle on it, I think. I think.

Doesn’t help sometimes. I still do impulsive, compulsive, thoughtless and stupid stuff. I just understand it a little better.

And I get stress. Some stress lately. It’s OK. I need to do better.

Anyway, I suppose I’ll take today and do this reformat thing, since everything I’ve tried has resulted in a computer that still boots goofy and freezes at bad times. I’m pretty sure it will be OK. I have another computer, too.

What I wanted to say, though, as if these were my last words (in a way this is making me smile), is that I’ve read a lot about these torture memos and all the talk in the past week. My thoughts have been expressed before, and others have expressed them better.

I do tend toward shutting up these days, waiting for more information, and I get a lot of this. Scary times, towers going down, unknown and unimaginable threats. Quick decisions, drastic measures. Ticking time bombs, etc.

Not in 2005, though. By 2005 there was more information.

So this is all I have to say on the matter. After reading all this stuff, originals and commentary and commentary on commentary, it struck me today that we actually have an answer. Step back a bit, look at the big picture, grasp the chronology, skip over the morality and the moment, just for right now, and to me it looks pretty clear.

The people who were running my country, people at the very top, our elected officials, sanctioned torture of people, enemies and innocents, no problem, because they hoped that under this terror one or more of them would tell some believable lies that would persuade the American people and the world that going to war in Iraq was a good thing to do. At least at the time.

Really. Seems clear now. I want to go to war. Find someone who will justify my decision.

Hurt him if you have to. No sweat.

Back with a new computer. Or…

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From The Mouths Of Babes

I’m not going to read a lot into this, although at first I was tempted. Taking a few minutes to mull it over, though, I’m sure that a baby who followed me around all day and then mimicked me would maybe not be the funnest thing to watch, although you never know.

Still. Suffer the little children to come unto me, I believe one translation goes, and here’s at least some food for thought. Although I’m probably just preaching to the choir.

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This has been around a while, but in case you missed it…

What happens when you take a 30-year-old sitcom opening, a sitcom that in retrospect seems cursed with bad fortune for the actors involved, and swap out the theme music for something darker?


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Bytes And Pieces

I’ve had computer problems for a couple of weeks now, leading to human relations problems, since it makes me crazy. And I already have crazy issues.

And there is some serious denial going on, by which I mean I’m pretty sure the problem centers around bad memory. I upgraded my RAM, doubled it from 2 to 4G (and yes, I have a 32-bit OS and yes, I know I can’t use all of that), and I’ve noted minor problems ever since, and now sort of major problems.

The denial part is that I don’t want to take it out and put back the factory memory. Which would be, you’d think (you’d think) one of the first things I’d do, after cussing. Because I’ve persuaded myself that the extra memory makes a difference, when I’m pretty sure it really doesn’t.

That’s not the point.

The point is, I have a full and complete backup, or as complete as one can get without a disk image. My important stuff is backed up in two locations, one online. My music and pictures are actually backed up three times, since they’re also on my iPod. And over the past week or so, I’ve accumulated installer files for most of the software I use daily but don’t own disks for (I tend toward open source stuff) and backed those up.

All of this in preparation for reformatting, sending my 1-year-old computer back to the future, meaning restoring my out-of-the-box condition and starting over.

I hesitate. I need to swap the RAM first. I know I’ll forget something, lose something, miss something.

But I’m drawn to it. Starting over? I do believe we have a theme for Mr. Chuck, loud and persistent and reeking of fantasy, but alive and well. We shall see.

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