Just for the Hell of It…

Let’s talk about Hell. Oh, I’m not interested in debating whether there actually is a Hell. If there isn’t, I wasted a lot of time of being terrified when I was young. Now that I’m older, I figure the die has been cast, and I’ll just have to see what number comes up.

We know from the writings of Dante Alighieri and John Milton that Hell is no fun. I wouldn’t suggest otherwise, despite the insistence of my favorite band AC/DC that “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be.” Oh, hell, no, unless you’re a hellion. Then it’s probably hellacious.

I say the word “Hell,” but I rarely write it. It just doesn’t usually fit in legally writing or correspondence. I’m always torn about whether to capitalize it. It’s a proper noun, I suppose. Then again, capitalizing it seems to give it more dignity than it deserves.  I have elected to capitalize it when discussing the place (you know, lake of fire, brimstone, eternal torment, etc.). I don’t capitalize it when using as just a regular curse word unless the context requires it. Fortunately, I rarely write curse-filled missives. By “rarely” I, of course, mean “frequently.”

I grew up in a home where you didn’t say the word “hell,” unless you were my Dad and, even then, only when you were really mad. Until the day she died, my mother chose to spell it out–H-E-L-L–rather than ever say it. If you wanted a one-way ticket to Hell, saying it would get you to the front of the line. Needless to say, I got over all that at some point.

For Hell to be such a bad deal, we like the word “hell” or at least I do. We can have a hell of a good time. Some  things hurt like hell. As bad as Hell is, you sure as hell don’t want the hell beaten out of you. I’ve raised hell. “Oh, hell!” perfectly sums up some situations. I know people who say “Holy hell!” I don’t know what the hell that means.

It’s a hell of a thing, though, how it’s used. “Hell’s bells” is a favorite. Are there bells in Hell? Maybe they ring all the time just to add to the general misery. There may be no better curse than the classic “Go to Hell!” Those three words pretty much sum up one’s feelings. You’re telling someone go to worst place there is. “Go straight to Hell!” is even worse. You’re not countenancing even the possibility of avoiding the trip by some last ditch effort at salvation.  You can go to Hell in a handbasket, too, which makes no sense but sounds horribly unpleasant.

Sometimes, you have to give people hell. Of course, you’re liable to catch hell, too. Hell fire, you might end up going hell-bent for leather. There’s no way in hell to predict. Of course, we’ve all been through hell at some point in our lives. It’s a hell of a thing when you think about it.

There are people who live in Hell’s Kitchen. I’d say most of them are Hell on wheels. What exactly does that mean, anyway? I guess the idea that Hell could be mobile and roll about is pretty terrifying when you think about it. It’s easy to see how all hell could break loose under those circumstances.

There can be hell to pay. Or some things play hell with you. You can have a hell of a good time, but remember–the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, which shouldn’t be confused with the Highway to Hell, another fine AC/DC tune.

It gets hotter than Hell around here in the summer. Sometimes, it’s hotter than the hinges of Hell. Of course, it’s been cold as Hell, too, whatever that means.  One day there will be a cold day in Hell. On that day, a hell of lot of things are going to happen that people didn’t count on. Same as when Hell freezes over.

I’ve been all over Hell and half of Georgia looking for my car keys some mornings. I’ve walked through Hell on few occasions, too–just for the hell of it, of course.

I’ve had bad days, and then I’ve had some days that were shot to hell. You know those days–they end up in a hell of a mess. You don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell on those days. You better run like a bat out of Hell. The hell with all that.

I guess it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge before there’s hell to pay.  See you in Hell.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

AUSTRALIA: CAULDRON OF EVIL

Everyone knows I love being an American. As I write this, Donald J. Trump has just wrapped up two weeks as President of the United States. Weird, right? In that time, he has threatened such diverse enemies as Mexico and Chicago, Illinois with intervention by “troops” and “feds.” Since the President makes most of his announcements via Twitter, we’re not sure what any of that means, but we know he’s serious. Hell, he seems serious about everything. He doesn’t seem to be a fellow who enjoys a good joke.

In years past, I have beseeched our leaders to crush our international threats, primarily Canada and the allegedly “Great” Britain. I even went so far as to draw up complex nation-building plans. My warnings went unheeded, and today we remain at the mercy of our Anglo overlords. Many have no doubt wondered why I haven’t addressed the third side of the Triangle (or “Tri-Anglo,” as I call it) of Terror, the demon state Down Under.

The so-called “Commonwealth” of Australia is an island nation located somewhere way far away from civilization, unless you call Papau New Guinea and New Zealand civilized. Maybe it’s not island, just a small continent. In any event, Mr. Trump had a heated phone call with the Prime Minister of Australia–whose name escapes me–about an agreement for America to accept refugees from Australia. According to Presidential tweets, this agreement is “dumb” and he’s not having any of it. If  I know Mr. Trump–and if I don’t, who does?–he won’t stop there. I’m still uncertain if he knows who our friends are, but he knows our enemies. In fact, no President in recent memory could make enemies faster.

With President Trump in office, I have new hope. Australia is as good a place as any to start. I say accept every refugee we can hold from Australia, as long as they aren’t actual Australians.

I know what you’re thinking: Hey, those Aussies are like Americans. A lot of them are blonde. They speak English. If you’d bother to even lightly scratch the surface, you’d see this for what it is–a subterfuge hiding threats to our very way life.

A common and deadly conceit lulls most Americans into inaction when it comes to foreign lands. We believe that foreign people must look and speak differently in order to be threats. While these are certainly telling signs, they tell only part of the story.

Any  similarities between Americans and Australians are mere historical accidents. Like the United States, Australia was founded when England sent its undesirables to another continent. In the case of Australia, they were really undesirable–mostly a bunch of convicts. The Brits probably thought they were sending them to Austria where they would fit in. Regardless, they ended up being shipped off just about as far away as possible. Shouldn’t that be a clue, people? On the other hand, our country was settled by a bunch of buttoned-up, glum religious nuts. That alone makes us superior and them a dangerous criminal element.

Here is Australia:

australia_political_map

Major cities include Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. It speaks to the intellectual paucity of the inhabitants that they soon exhausted real names and simply made up names for other cities and towns. Thus, the land is littered with names such as Wollongong, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bong Bong, Cock Wash and Mount Buggery.

What I know of Australia comes from movies and Wikipedia. It should come as no surprise that I’ve never been to Australia nor do I intend to go. Let me explain.

As we examine Australia, let us consider the three characteristics which make any country worth its salt:  1) Its language; 2) Its sports; and 3) Its people.

LANGUAGE

Australia has no official language. Think about that. What kind of savages can’t even settle on a language? Most Australians speak English, which will come as quite a surprise to you if you’ve ever heard any of them speak.

To be precise, they speak “Australian English,” which combines normal English with an accent that can only be attributed to the country’s well-known love of alcohol. They sort of sound British but not really. Where the Brits sound haughty and intelligent, Aussies come across as menacing and quite possibly insane.  “G’day, mate!” is an acceptable form of address as is vomiting on the ground when staggering out of one of their many road houses. Here is a typical Australian exchange:

Bloke No. 1: G’day, mate. I’m stoked to hit the turps, but I’d need a mate’s rate for a slab.

Bloke No. 2: Fair dinkum. I’ll drink with the flies. You gotta make a quid.

Bloke No. 1: Everything’s costing big bikkies. It’ll come good once I give it a burl.

Bloke No. 2: Good on ya.

Here’s a pointer when trying to interpret their speech: Just assume they’re talking about drinking.

I will admit that Australia gave us Mad Max, and that’s no bull dust as they might say. When the original Mad Max was released in the United States, the dialogue was re-dubbed into English. That’s right. English was dubbed into English. That’s all you need to know about this “language.”

SPORTS

Three popular sports in Australia are cricket, Australian Rules Football and something called net ball. The irredeemable nature of the culture of this nation is best explained by a brief description of each.

Cricket combines croquet with the more boring aspects of baseball. The pitcher is called a bowler. They throw the ball and one-hop it to the batter. The batter hits it with something akin to a flat-sided baseball bat. Players run back and forth and scores (runs) are made at some point. After several hours, the game or match or whatever the hell they call it mercifully ends.

In the nascent days of ESPN, the Worldwide Leader didn’t have rights to baseball, basketball, football or any other sport followed by the modern world. As a result, it broadcast Australian Rules Football. Like cricket, it combines several perfectly sane sports into one. American football and soccer with a touch of rugby (okay, that one’s not sane) are rolled together in face-paced game which appears to have no rules whatsoever. The only redeeming feature is that it is often violent. I have no proof that the players are all drunk, but they should be.

Net ball is a game where a metal hoop is secured to pole, and players try to throw a ball through the hoop. The hoop has a net attached for the ball to pass through. Sound familiar? You might call it basketball, if didn’t look like this:

net-ball

Seriously? I watched it on TV once. Once. No dribbling. Awkward passing. White people. That’s right. It’s 1930s basketball played in the 21st century.

THE PEOPLE

I’ll admit the we have common ground with the Aussies. We, too, weren’t welcome in England and had a God-given right to terrorize and subjugate the native dwellers in our new land. That’s where the similarity ends.

Coming from the questionable gene pool of convicts, the degradation of the Australian people is etched into their leathery, sunburned faces. True, they gave us Mel Gibson, a handsome man by any standards.  Despite our best efforts, they haven’t had the common decency to take him back.

The native Australians are the Aborigines or Aboriginal Australians. They were there first. They’re now relegated to what they call the “Outback.” Outback is another word for “barren wasteland.” It’s kind of like a gigantic American Indian reservation. One place they live is called Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara. Okay. I guess they came up with that on one of their famed benders.

Their idea of a good time is to drink beer until nauseous. They eat things called quandog, muntries, goanna and witchetty grubs. Are these plants, animals or something else? I don’t know, and I’m not interested in finding out. They love vegemite, a goop they spread on toast. Vegemite is made of leftover brewer’s yeast combined with vegetable and spice additives. It is described as salty, slightly bitter and malty. Yum. Politics aside, President Obama summed up this delicacy with this reaction:

“So, it’s like a quasi-vegetable by-product paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast – sounds good, doesn’t it?”

I know little of their undoubtedly bizarre religious practices. I recall reading somewhere that they have a high percentage of atheists. What does that say about a land so vile that it destroys one’s belief in the Almighty? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

I know nothing of the literature or art of Australia. That’s just as well.

As noted above, Australian cinema gave us the Mad Max films. That’s good. If you want to know what Australia is like, just watch one of those films. They could be documentaries as far as I’m concerned. The latest one didn’t even star an Australian. Brit Tom Hardy and South African Charlize Theron were the stars. They didn’t have much dialogue but at least I understood it.

What about their music? AC/DC, I’ll give them that one. Angus and Malcolm Young grew up in Sydney, but they were Scots. What about Men At Work, the band with the popular 1980s song “Down Under?” True, they were an Australian band, but lead singer Colin Hay was also Scottish. Seems Australian music is more properly Scottish music.

Back in the 1980s, they sent us their most famed comedian–Yahoo Serious. Yes, that was his name. He was just about that funny, too. We sent him back. Here’s an Australian joke:

What’s the difference between an Australian wedding and an Australian funeral?

One less drunk at the funeral.

They have all manner of odd animals. The emu is a bird that can’t fly. The koala is a bear that’s really a marsupial. It’s like a raccoon or some other varmint. Of course, the place is lousy with kangaroos and crocodiles. I know that doesn’t have anything to do with the Australian people, but it’s worth nothing for some reason.

Queen Elizabeth II is the not only the Queen of England, she is also the Queen of Australia. Why? Who knows. Her reign there makes as much sense as it does in England.

WHAT NOW?

You may be surprised that I do not advocate immediate military intervention in Australia, as I have with Canada and Great Britain. The Brits took care of this problem for us by sending these misanthropes way the hell to the other side of the world. I’ve looked at a globe, and I’m not even sure you can get to Australia from here.

We don’t have to do anything. Iran recently tested a missile, and the President put them “on notice.” Let’s do the same with the Aussies. You’re on notice, you Foster’s chugging, vegemite-eating bunch of convicts. So, there.

Step out of line, and we’ll build a gigantic sea wall trapping you on your island Hell.  Oh, and guess who’s paying for it? You’ll all be living out in Woop Woop then, mates. Until then, hooroo!

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

I’m Baaaack…maybe

Someone recently asked me why my flood of postings has slowed to the mere occasional drip over time. One answer would be that I have written all that I know to write, and it is time to move on. Not true–c’mon, isn’t obvious that I know a lot of stuff? Perhaps I burned out on my blog. That’s a good theory but also untrue. The truth? Writer’s block. That’s a real thing. In the 1960s, writer Joseph Mitchell wrote a fascinating book, Joe Gould’s Secret. Mitchell then spent the next 30+ years going to his office daily without ever publishing anything significant again. Scott Fitzgerald suffered from it. So, too, rumor has it, that Herman Melville quit writing for the same reason. I’m in good company it seems.

I don’t know when or how it happened. It didn’t affect my work. I’m a lawyer and frequently write. Legal writing, though, is a bit different. I regurgitate or recast facts and apply existing law to them. It’s more analysis than entertainment, if one can call what I’ve done here entertaining.

How could this happen to the author of the seminal work on small talk? My screed against Aunt Bee is so legendary that I’ve received emails from people both agreeing with and castigating me. I don’t even know how these people got my address. Who else would posit the theory, as yet unchallenged, that Dennis Rodman was, in fact, the President of the United States? My most popular piece, with almost 30,000 views, is about my hometown. It prompted this comment:

2017-28-1-21-57-36

A man or woman who can stir this kind of fervor in the reader cannot be silent–or maybe he should remain forever silent.

Over the years, this silly blog has viewed tens of thousands of times. Just today, someone in Sri Lanka looked at it. Why? I don’t know. I might not be Stephen King, but people do look at this. I guess anything on the Internet is worth at least peak. Hey, people get bored in Sri Lanka, too.

Over the last couple of years, I started many posts only to give up and delete them. I just hit a wall. That’s the block.  Imagine you are reading something, hit a word and you can’t read anymore. You know you can read but you still can’t. The words are there and you recognize them, but they don’t make sense. That’s writer’s block or something like it.

It’s frustrating. I was BLOCKED during the Trump-Clinton election! Donald Freakin’ Trump ran for President–and won–and I couldn’t come up with a single interesting post! Maybe it’s just as well. I’d hate to be subjected to a vicious tweeting or find myself on the wrong side of the Trump Wall in a few months. Folks who love Trump do NOT like jokes about him, almost as little as he himself likes them. (I can almost guarantee at least one nasty comment about how they do like jokes about him and that I am a socialist.)

Now that I’ve written this, I’m on my way back. It’s short and–for me–relatively concise. That’s a start. I’ll take it.

So, like person on an all-kale diet, I’m starting feel unblocked. A have a few ideas now. We’ll see what happens. Time will tell. In the meantime, peruse my archives. There’s something there for everyone. And more to come…

©2017 http://www.thetrivialtroll.com

BREXIT EXPLAINED IN 10 QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS!)

As I write this, it’s been almost two weeks since Brexit. I initially called in the Brexit but was quickly rebuked for doing so. Brexit occurred on June 23, 2016. On the off-chance that future generations have electrical power to access this blog, they will doubtless be horrified by my rudimentary understanding of this cataclysmic event which will have been taught in all schools, if they are any schools in the future. By the time you read this, Europe will have descended into total chaos, cannibalism will be commonplace and the United Kingdom will have been discarded in the ash bin of history. I write this for my contemporaries in the hope that I can explain what happened and what is to come.

  1. WHAT IS BREXIT? 

It is the BRitish EXIT from the European Union. Get it? BR-EXIT? It’s a clever portmanteau borrowed from the earlier Grexit, which was the GREEK withdrawal from the EU which didn’t happen. Brexit is actually just a vote which took place in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2016 to approve the UK’s leaving the European Union. By the way, the United Kingdom is made up of a bunch of countries besides Britain or Great Britain or England or whatever the hell they want to be called. This should be called Ukexit, but that sounds too much like a Baltic country. Plus, that has the added disadvantage of being pretty much unpronounceable.

2.  WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?

That’s a damn good question. The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,324,782 km (1,669,808 sq mi), and an estimated population of over 508 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. Is that clear enough? HAHAHAHA! I copied that from Wikipedia. I have no idea what any of that means.

3.  WHERE IS EUROPE?

All the way across the Atlantic Ocean but before you get to Russia. England is actually an island, and I’m not sure it’s really part of Europe (with or without Brexit). Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, probably Switzerland and Portugal and a lot of other countries are over there.

4. IS AMERICA PART OF THE EU?

Another excellent question. The simple answer is “no.” If you Google it, you’ll see that America isn’t in Europe. Oddly enough, some members of the EU aren’t in Europe, either. Americans aren’t going to be part of any such foolishness as this. Remember, too, that we made our own exit from Europe in 1776. Nevertheless, we should go ahead vote to exit the EU right now, just to make clear that we’re not going to be part of these shenanigans. Before we get too high and mighty, bear in mind that we are about to elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton president. Maybe we should vote to exit our own country.

5.  NOW THAT BRITAIN IS GONE FROM THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Whoa, whoa. No one has left the EU. The UK only voted to leave. Oh, and the vote isn’t binding. It’s more like a strong suggestion. It’s like telling your wife you want a divorce. Well, hell, so do a lot of people, but you have to take some action. Now, they have to work out the details. Or not. They can always decide not to do it. That’s right. They can stay in or leave. Pretty much the same position they were in before the vote.

6. OKAY. ASSUMING BRITAIN EXITS THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Hard to say. People who fear an apocalyptic one-world new order say it’s all good. Those who embrace a world economy say it’s bad. Young people hate it. Old people like it. Scotland hates it (for the most part). A bunch of things will happen. The British pound (that’s their goofy money) will suffer or not. The UK will break up or stay together. Germany will probably try to take over the world. (That’s not really part of Brexit. It’s just something the Germans like to try every now and then). People will buy gold, because that’s what people do when things happen.

7.  WILL OTHER COUNTRIES VOTE TO EXIT, TOO?

That seems doubtful mostly because there’s no cool names to use. France would Frexit. That’s okay, I guess. Germany would Gerexit. No good–sounds too much like Jurassic and they don’t want litigation with Steven Spielberg. Spain with the Spexit? Nah. The names for the other countries are equally uninspiring. They’ll all have to stay put.

8. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT AMERICA?

Ah, this is perhaps the most important question. The immediate effect was twofold: 1) the stock market dropped sharply; and 2) millions of Americans went on-line to find out what Brexit means. I was told by three people that the stock market would drop at least 20% in the next week and that it would take years to recover. It dropped a few percentage points and recovered in a week. So, I guess you never know about Brexit. I’ve been told that it’s a sad time for Anglophiles (who, by the way, are not people with sexual interest in geometry). The dollar is now worth more in England, which would be great if they sold anything I like. It might be a good time to hire a butler or a chambermaid on the cheap.

9. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EURO?

The Euro, of course, is the EU’s weird-ass money. I guess Euros are kind of like dollars but with pictures of foreigners on them. Get this–England doesn’t even use the Euro. Why are they bitching? They still use pounds and shillings and farthings and quid and other dubious forms of currency. Regardless, the Euro will most certainly be affected, more or less, to some not inconsiderable extent. It definitely bears watching.

10. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

The future is a frightening place, full of great possibilities and even greater dangers. Your greatest failures always lie there. I am a male in my 50s. With rare exception, people my age view the future through a prism of despair. The world is falling apart, young people are useless and the future is bleak. In another, they have become their parents.

Things will happen. People will claim to have predicted these things. Blame will be assigned and credit taken. As the old song goes, “There’ll always be an England.”

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

 

MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE: Five Changes You Must Make

When I was a young lawyer, one of my aged partners suggested that our firm should be like the “Athenian youth” and strive to leave the world a better place for our having been here. That is certainly a laudable goal. Who among us doesn’t want to make a difference? Too often, we while away our time on personal, even selfish, pursuits. I hold to the belief that each of us in our own small way can make a positive difference in the world.

You make think it unrealistic to expect to impact the world as whole. You may be right about that. After all, many of us have limited skills and even more limited work ethics. If our efforts require much in the way of ability or effort we likely will fall short. Do not despair. There ways–simple ways, in fact– each of us can make the world a better place. If we can have a positive impact on just one person, we will have made a difference.

The person with whom we should start is me. That’s right. I deserve a better life as much as anyone, maybe more. If you can do even one thing to make my life easier, you will not have lived in vain. You will have helped me. I can think of nothing more commendable.

Here are five things you can do, starting today, to improve my lot in life. Let’s get started

  1. DON’T DRIVE A CAR

The environmental damage from automobiles is well-known. Even electric cars require all manner of minerals for their construction, the mining of which is always controversial. If, like me, this doesn’t persuade you in the slightest to give up your car, consider the effect of your car on me.

Maybe you’re one of those people who always drive 10-15 mph below the speed limit. You’re annoying me. When you look in your rear view mirror and see the line of traffic, just assume I’m in that line. Why inconvenience me? I have to be somewhere–and soon. Besides, the way your drive, you’re close to walking anyway. Just go ahead and hit the pavement.

Even if you drive at normal speeds, you still need to park that car. Traffic stresses me out. I have places to go, things to do. Put bluntly, you’re in my way. Public transportation is perfect for you. Better yet, stay at home. What is so horrible in your home that you are compelled to leave it? Stay there and address your disturbing domestic problems.

Speaking of parking, if you drive you will eventually park somewhere. I need that parking spot.

Of course, some of you drive for your livelihood. By all means, continue to do so. You may be delivering something I need. Plus, someone must provide transportation to those who no longer drive. It certainly won’t be me. I’m busy trying to get somewhere.

2. DON’T PLAY THE LOTTERY

All over our great country, there are outlets available to buy lottery tickets.  PowerBalls, MegaMillions  and other variations beckon. The dizzying selection of scratch off games sit spooled like toilet paper waiting to be ripped loose by cholera-ravaged unfortunates. Riches await. Our nation’s vast network of convenience stores are the prime culprits in separating you from your money.

We all know that the odds winning big in the lottery are astronomical, on par with getting a chance to walk on the moon. Every day, untold thousands of people waste their hard-earned money on these games of chance which amount to nothing so much as a regressive taxation system. (Honestly, I have no problem with a regressive tax. The progressive tax system has never done me any favors. That rant will have to wait for another day.)

These are compelling reasons to avoid the lottery. The most important reason, though, may be less obvious. The next time you are purchasing your tickets turn at look behind you. That is me standing in line. I have patronized this convenience store for–you guessed it–the convenience of it. I know that prices are higher than at the grocery store, often considerably so. I have selected this store for the speed and, again, the convenience of it.

You, guided only by your avarice, have robbed me of the one commodity I value at that moment–convenience (are you sensing the pattern yet?). In fact, there is nothing more inconvenient than to stand in line with a cup of coffee while you negotiate a transaction only slightly less complex than currency arbitrage.

The odds of your winning the lottery are remote, at best. The odds of royally ticking me off, though, are virtually certain. Please, move along.

3. SPREAD THE WORD–SOMEWHERE ELSE

I have no problem with your religion, unless you use it do great harm to others. Even then, my problem is likely to be with how you practice it, not the faith itself. Regardless, I don’t want to hear about it. This comes from someone who has always been fascinated by religion. I’ve studied religion from various perspectives, both the faithful and skeptical. If I’m curious, I’ll get the information.

When you want to tell me about your religion, I’m very likely to be somewhere between disinterested and down right hostile. This is true even if I agree with your views. Why am I so obtuse? Religion (or spirituality, if you prefer) is a matter of faith, not argument or persuasion. Nagging or yammering at someone won’t bring him around to your views. When that someone is me, it may cause the person to adopt contrary beliefs simply to frustrate your efforts.

You might assume that I am directing this solely at Christians. You’re wrong. If, like me, you are an American, you probably live in America where most people claim to be Christian. Naturally, most of our contact is with Christians. Regardless, I implore people of all religions to follow this lead. For example, if you are Hindu do not concern me with your views of Vishnu or Shiva. I know a Buddhist, and I sincerely hope that he does not tell me of the proper path to the Middle Way. I’m comfortable with where I am, leaning much more toward indulgence than asceticism.

Nor are you atheists excluded. As a matter of fact, you’re especially not excluded. I  know you’re proud to be an atheist. Consider me to be on a “need to know” basis. I have no need to know. Here’s idea: Find a vegetarian and you two can “one up” each other on the solid, empirical grounding of your views.

At this point, some readers are preparing comments to enlighten me on why they will not be silent. You’re really missing the point, which is simply to make things easier for me. Your comments won’t do that. Plus, I’m not asking you to be silent. Just be silent around me, and assume that I am always around.

4. VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE–QUIETLY

Everything I abhor about hearing about your religious views applies with even more force to your politics. Unlike religion which is driven (mostly) by genuine belief, political drivel is often impelled by the desire to be in the know and perhaps a bit smarter than others. These are repellent characteristics. More importantly, they annoy me and can diminish my enjoyment of such important pursuits as surfing the Internet and mindlessly watching television.

I’m well aware that there is only so much I can expect here. Politicians and talking heads are inescapable. But, ask yourself: “With all this political discourse, what could I possibly add to the conversation, given my obvious limitations?” I’m sure you’ll agree that you run a much greater risk of annoying me than contributing anything meaningful.

If you are truly committed to improving my life, you will take this to heart. That door you knock on with a fist full of campaign literature could be mine. It could be me who reads one of your wrong-headed screeds on social media. It’s not that I don’t respect your views (which I may not, of course). It’s just that I don’t care. Isn’t it unfair and more than a tad selfish to inundate me with tripe that only you and others care about it? You’re better than that–or at least you should be.

You’re angry about the state of the world. I get it. If I were you, I’d be angry, too. But I’m not you. I’m me. It does no good to have two of us angry.

5. RAISE YOUR OWN FOOD

Modern agriculture has changed the world. We feed far more people than was thought possible even a generation ago. Our grocery stores brim with foods of all kinds. Sadly, the price we pay is high one.

Additives, preservatives, chemicals and the like endanger our food supply. Our farm animals are fed steroids. Genetic modifications have made many foodstuffs risky. Most important in our daily struggle is the cold, hard fact that I frequently go to the grocery store to buy this stuff.

I like my food chock full of preservatives. I want it preserved as long as possible. Chemicals don’t bother me. I like huge, mutated chickens pumped full of steroids. I want my beef dyed red. I want my fruits and vegetables sprayed down with insecticides. I don’t want to eat bugs. In short, the modern grocery store is exactly what I want. You, on the other hand, need to make changes. Why?

You’re the person with 11 items when the sign plainly limits the checkout lane to TEN FREAKING ITEMS! You position your cart in the aisle where I can’t get by on either side. You pay with checks, like some troglodyte who just emerged from his subterranean lair. Why not see if they’ll take pelts? You use coupons. Think about this: If you need to use all those coupons, isn’t it just possible that you can’t really afford to buy food in a store?

Grow your own food. Raise chickens. Buy a cow. Even a modest quarter acre lot will accommodate at least a couple of cows. Get a hog. Grow something. Your ancestors foraged for their food. Get off your high horse (you can eat those, too, by the way) and quit acting like you’re better than your kinfolk.

Since you won’t be driving a car, raising your own food makes perfect sense. It will be convenient for you and, critically, ME. The world will be a better place–at least for me. 

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

The New Year at the Gym: Here We Go Again…

The new year is upon us, 2016 to be exact. As always, many folks have resolved that this is the year they will lose those unwanted pounds and get in top shape. How do I know? I’ve belonged to a gym for many years, and I see these folks every January. Today is January 1, and I saw them at the gym. Oh, they weren’t working out (after all, it’s a holiday). They were getting tours of the gym, meeting with trainers and signing contracts. Soon though, they will descend upon the gym like New Years Eve revelers.

I used to rail against the Resolvers, scoffing at their half-hearted efforts knowing that they would fall by the wayside within a few weeks. I’ve changed. I welcome them. Everyone should exercise. I am 53 and in quite good condition, especially compared to my peers. I feel good, both physically and mentally. Why should I begrudge that to others just because they get in my way for a few weeks?

Rather than resent the Resolvers, I want to help them. Understand that I am not an athletic trainer. I am not an athlete. I do, however, go the gym quite often–6 or 7 days week. If I’m on the road, I find hotels with gyms. If I can’t find one, I find a local gym that will let me workout for a small fee. I’ve been to gyms all over the country, from New York City to Hawaii. I know the rules, both written and unwritten. If you’re a Resolver, please read on. It will save us all some grief.

BE REASONABLE 

If you haven’t worked out in a while, act like it. “In a while” also means “ever.” Most people in the gym have been there before. They have workout routines that reflect their experience. You, on the other hand, need a routine that reflects your years of sloth. That may sound harsh, but it’s true.

You’ll see people who look like you want to look, with trim waists and rippling muscles. It is tempting to watch what they do and copy it. Stop. These people are working out like trim-waisted, rippling-muscled people. You need to work out like a flabby, doughy person. There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way. Your ideal may be doing 30 pound curls. You might need to do 5 pound curls. Do them.

You also must squash your ego. This is especially true for men. We want to throw around weights like they’re pie pans. We can’t, of course. Don’t worry about how much you bench press. Sure, it’s a tad deflating to realize you can only bench 50 pounds. Hey, 50 pounds is better than nothing. People aren’t watching you. The people who can really lift are concerned only with themselves. They don’t care what you lift. Note how often they look in the mirror. Trust me–they (we?) aren’t trying to catch a glimpse of you.

A good way to learn reasonableness is with a trainer. Trainers vary in skill. Some aren’t very good, but all of them know how to get a new person started on an exercise regimen. Maybe you have a friend who works out regularly. He or she can help you. Start slow. Workout warriors weren’t born that way. Neither were you.

LEARN BEFORE THE BURN

Gyms are full of equipment. A lot of it is strange looking and not easily understood. This doesn’t stop the novice from climbing aboard and fumbling about. Usually, there will be an illustration on the equipment demonstrating proper use. If that doesn’t work, ask a gym employee. Again, a trainer can help.

If you don’t use a trainer, educate yourself on how to exercise. Weightlifting, in particular, requires certain routines for maximum results. You might work different muscles on different days. Rest is important. Strength training is different than toning or even muscle building. You have to know the differences.

Several years ago, I made the acquaintance of a former NFL player who also spent some time in prison. He described what he called a “jailhouse workout.” By that, he meant lifting with no program–a few curls, a few reps on the bench, a few random leg exercises. He said prisoners don’t have enough equipment or time to do it right. Hey, if you’re jail, do what you can. Otherwise, get a plan.

If you’re grossly overweight, you really must learn first. I know–it’s not good to say that people are overweight or “fat.” Come on, we know that’s the case. Losing weight is a process, not an event. You have to attack it a pound at a time. Becoming a crunch beast won’t help much if your six pack is buried under a foot of fat. Talk to a doctor. Get a trainer. Just get to work.

ETIQUETTE

Your new gym will have an array of rules about attire, use of equipment and sundry courtesies. These are all good, but most gym etiquette is just common sense. Here are the big rules:

Clean Up: If you use free weights, re-rack them. It’s simple. Put them back where you got them. They’ll be on racks in ascending order from lowest to highest weight. An idiot can do it, but you’ll be surprised at how many idiots don’t. If you can help it, don’t be an idiot.

Seriously, Clean Up: No one wants to use equipment drenched in your sweat. There’s just no debate here. Wipe down the equipment.

Look But Within Reason: I direct this to my fellow men. Most gyms today are co-ed. Every gym has attractive women wearing attire not normally seen in public. It’s pretty cool. You can look. To some extent, it’s expected perhaps even welcome. Don’t go full-on perv. If you follow a woman around so that you can maintain a good view, it will be noticed. Much as it might surprise you, they aren’t looking back at you.

Silence Is Golden: I’ve been going to the same gym for years. I’ve gotten to know some of the regulars. We’ll occasionally talk, but it’s always brief. Regulars are there to work out, not chat. You should do the same. Most gym regulars are glad to share pointers or answer questions, but we aren’t there to socialize.

Cover It Up: By “it,” I mean everything. No one is comfortable around naked people, even in a gym locker room. There’s no need to be naked for any extended period. Don’t strike up a conversation while you’re naked. Don’t get naked and then start rooting around in your locker. There should be absolutely no bending over. Don’t get naked and stand and watch TV. It’s just weird, and people hate it. Those who parade about naked are also men who shouldn’t do so anywhere. They are usually old guys with a variety of obvious physical flaws which are wholly unappealing.

Of course, I speak only of the men’s locker. Like all men, I imagine the women’s locker room populated by super models who wear skimpy towels when they aren’t showering together. An objective look at most women in the gym reveals that they may have the same unsightly issues as the men.

Dress The Part: Even being clothed can be done wrong. Jeans, khakis, work boots and other fashion failures must be avoided. Look the part. A t-shirt and shorts will work. Sweat pants are perfect. A middle-aged man in a wrestling singlet is not welome anywhere. Bicycle shorts, short-shorts and skin-tight apparrel must all be evaluated with an eye toward aesthetics. What is athletic–even alluring–on one person is vile and revolting on another. In these politically correct times, I realize that it is frowned upon to say that any one person is more attractive than another. Some people look better than others. Get a full-length mirror and judge for yourself.

STICK WITH IT

I believe that no one stays with exercise if he or she doesn’t like it. Experiment with different routines. Maybe you prefer cardio work to weights. That’s okay. Better to do cardio alone, than nothing at all.

Nothing ends an exercise program as quickly as an injury. Injuries are different than some pain. If you haven’t worked out in years, you’re going to have some aches and pains. When you get to my age-53 at this writing–you’re going to have some aches. If you over do it–lifting too much weight, for example–you will get injured. An injury will shut you down. That’s the quickest path to quitting. Even if you get injured, there’ll be other exercises you can do. Do those.

So, there you have it. I welcome you to my world. Now, get out of the way, and let me work out. Good luck.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

2015 in review

Here’s my Annual Report. I don’t know which more interesting–that so many people viewed this silly blog or that ONE person in Iran did. Weird.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.