Thursday, October 30, 2014

Inter-library Loan

I'm a reader. I like books. Reading is important to me. But for awhile, I had fallen into a slump, where I couldn't really find anything good to read. I read, but I wasn't really enjoying most of what I was reading.

I tried dozens of books I had randomly checked out from the library, but for the most part I couldn't really get into any of them. Even looking over the list of every book I read over the past five years, most of them were nothing special. I've read very few great books, and many mediocre ones.

I realized the problem is that many of the books I am most interested in reading are not available at any of the public libraries in this city, so I've been settling for second best. I don't buy books, everything I read I get from the library, so I'm limited to what I can get there.

Well, I've been spending time perusing goodreads.com and amazon.com, researching different books, compiling an ideal reading list for myself, and like I said, most of the books that I'm interested in reading are not available at my library.

So I finally wised up, and realized, hey wait a second, I can read every single one of these books, all I have to do is utilize the public libraries inter-library loan service, which will retrieve a copy of the books I request from another city. The only limitation is that you only get the book for three weeks, can't renew it, and cannot request the same title twice in the same year. So, if you can't finish the book in three weeks, you're out of luck, better luck next year.

I've only utilized the service twice in my life, once in Wisconsin in my late teens, and once shortly after I moved to Arizona. I remember the books clearly as if it were yesterday. The first was Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Alexandra David-Neel. The second was The Biggest Secret by David Icke.


I've decided I'd like to read everything by William S. Burroughs and Charles Bukowski. There are others as well, but that's what I'm focusing on first. Just requested two books last week: The Job: Interviews with William S. Burroughs. And You Can't Win by Jack Black, which I read somewhere as being William S. Burroughs' favorite book. I got a notification yesterday that You Can't Win is ready for pick-up. Never thought it would arrive that fast. I'm still in the middle of reading Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim, which I cannot renew, but I've picked up my reading pace, and should have it finished by tomorrow, and then I can start the other book.

Now there are no limitations. I can read anything my heart desires. The focus from this point forward will be on quality over quantity.

Am I Up To IT?

Moments ago I stubbed my toe. It happenned because my cat was laying in my way, and I attempted not to step on him, so I stubbed my toe really bad once again. A good round up for an odd day.

I'm broke. Okay, without getting into explicit details, times have been hard, but I found a windfall, a gift card out of the blue, arrived in my mail box, and I hadn't a clue.

Long story short, I road my bike to TJ's, and encountered two negative events.

Firstly, just starting out, I witnessed some kind of a tanker truck pass by me, with a long hose, probably twenty feet long, dangling loosely on the road behind; an accident waiting to happen. Shortly after I noticed it, it, meaning the truck and a couple of men dressed in bright yellow safety vests, pulled over and addressed the situation.

Moving on. The traffic was really bad, but everything for the most part went smoothly. The more I ride, the stronger, and braver I become.

Secondly, I do my shopping. Everything is good there. No problems whatsoever. But on the way home, within a few blocks of the final stretch, I'm cruising at a fast speed of 18 miles per hour through a busy intersection, and a bee get's caught in my bicycle helmet vents. I can hear it buzzing, trapped in my helmet, hoping it doesn't sting me, I rush to the side of the road, and struggle to get the helmet off as fast as I can, and the bee escapes, leaving me entirely unscaved. That is a first. That has never happenned to me before. So that's number two potentially bad situation.

Number three, rounding out the night, is a terribly painful stubbed toe.

And by the way the title of this post was randomly selected in reference to the question I posed to myself, about whether or not I am up to posting this post. Apparantly I am. There you go. Another obligatory status report sent out into the ethers, like a message in a bottle castaway at sea, toward the virtual sea of anonymity.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Interconnectedness

"No one is ever really alone. You are part of everything alive."

Got that from a William S. Burroughs book, Queer, that I recently read.

That's pretty much the point I was making in my post about the difference between solitude and loneliness. A person who interprets solitude as a positive thing, doesn't feel alone when alone, in the sense that they have established a positive relationship to the larger world beyond people.

However, an important point to add in response to this quote, is that no matter how interconnected we all are, if we don't see it, if we don't feel it, it will seem as if we are seperate, as if we are alone, no matter what the larger reality actually is; we create the illusion of seperation.

Two people alone, seperated by the distance of thousands of miles, one person feels lonely, the other person doesn't feel alone and is enjoying their solitude. The difference is determined entirely by each person's interpretation of events. We are all part of everything else, but if you don't feel like it, than that is how it will be, even if that feeling is an illusion. This is an example of how a person creates their own reality. Reality is what it is, but we only see what we are willing to see.

It takes more than the absence of people to feel lonely. A lonely person is not only someone who is unable to make a meaningful connection with others, either due to their actual physical absence, or due to the more subjective absence of being unable to connect mentally and emotionally with them; it is a feeling of seperation, both real and imaginary, a seperation that breeds feelings of alienation and despair, a seperation not just from other people, but from the rest of the world. In this way loneliness is closely related to depression and mental illness.

On the other hand, people who feel part of everything alive, who feel a sense of belonging and kinship with the greater world beyond themselves, including the trees and the clouds and the sun and the moon and the stars, with mother earth and father sky, with nature and the cosmos, will never feel alone, with or without people, so long as they not lose that connection, that state of mind and feeling of reverence and interconnectedness with all that is.

But it's not enough to talk about it, to write about it, or even to think about it, you have to actually feel this connection in your heart. Anything less, will be hollow and illusory.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shpongle

How is it that I grew up listening to techno and world music, and never heard of Shpongle until today?

It's mind boggling, actually. Well, I've been revisiting William S. Burroughs, which lead me to this book about psychedelics, which referenced the band, and that's how I made the discovery.

The ripple effects of random internet searches leading to new books, to new music, to new blog posts, and to life changing experiences.

I've been off music for awhile, probably because of an overexposure to bad music, can't stand about 90 percent of it, in all honesty mostly enjoy the sounds of nature, not pre-recorded but live, but I've always prefered instrumental music, and think this may be one of my new favorites. Love the cover art, too. The Ineffable Mysteries was done by Storm Thorgerson, who also did most of Pink Floyd's album covers, among many others, and I pretty much love everything he ever designed.

Here's a small sample of the music, with cover art and links:

Ineffable Mysteries From Shpongleland

Wikipedia | YouTube | Amazon.com



Tales of the Inexpressible

Wikipedia | YouTube | Amazon



Now for a throwback to 1995 raver culture.

Before there was Shpongle, there was Hallucinogen.

This is probably one of the best techno albums ever released. Seriously. You could do some serious cardio to this. Or just relax and dream. It works both ways.



Buy Hallucinogen - Twisted on Amazon or read about it on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More

Hopefully, you are nothing like me, and you live a full life, and don't spend the last couple hours of each night watching television.

TV sucks, and yet, I keep coming back. Is it just me, or do people seem to becoming sillier and sillier. Like, most people have either a computer, a tablet, a television, or a smart phone, and many have all of those things, and yet, they don't seem any wiser because of it. If anything people, to me, seem to becoming less aware.

They have more information at their disposal, and their technological vocabulary has been expanding, but for the average person, it's more so a matter of repeating without really understanding, without really knowing. Yeah, their fast, their manic, their hyperactive, but very similar to parrots hopped up on amphetamin, repeating a script, addicted to speed, to screens, to constant stimulation, to always being on, but not really thinking, other than thinking about how they can make more money, and buy more stuff, and always being online, or looking at screens, playing games, chatting, typing, always on, but never really here. Entrapped by the script of other people's expectations.

I guess that's a symptom of our industrialized world. Where material progress is valued higher than spiritual enlightenment. Where it's all about the bottom line. Making money, spending money, acquiring more and more material goods. Yes, work, the production and consumption of material goods, is a fact of life, a necessary reality, as unavoidable as our need for oxygen, our lives depend on it, BUT it is not everything. There is more. More than earning money and establishing a successful career. More than finding a partner and having children. There is more to life beyond material success. It's mental. It's spiritual. And it's personal. It's about self-awareness. Self-realization. Waking up. Thinking. Knowing what really matters. Understanding the bigger picture beyond survival. Beyond society. Beyond politics. Beyond technogical progress. There is more.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Everything Worked Out

Okay, really shitty day today. I usually go to Trader Joe's on Sundays, because the traffic is lighter. And so, even though I'm pretty much broke, expecting a check next week, but in the interim, I just had a few dollars, and wanted some beer, so I decided to ride my bike to TJ's, which is pretty much a ten mile round trip. Yeah, that's right, even though I live within walking distance to a big box grocery store, I opted to ride my bike ten miles for a six pack of beer, simply because I like it, good taste, good price, and it can't be found anywhere else.

Problem number one. Had a helluva time inflating my presta valve tires today. Don't know why but I just couldn't get the pump connected right. And yes, I have done this before. I finally got it, but it took me forever, presta can be funny like that sometimes. For your information, the best way to prevent a flat tire, is to maintain recommended tire pressure at all times, which means you must have a tire pressure guage, and alway test before every ride. Your bike will lose tire pressure just sitting there after a couple of days. This is normal. It doesn't mean you have a slow leak. So yes, I inflate my tires often. Haven't had a flat tire in years. True story.

Problem number two. About one minute after leaving on my bike, it starts to rain. Then it stops, but coming back, I got caught in a torential down pour, a thunderstorm, with hail, and a stiff headwind, which had me going from 15 miles per hour down to 8. On the way back I took shelter at a park under a ramada, but then I look up, and I notice a sign, which says, not suitable shelter during a thunderstorm, seek shelter elsewhere, so I get the hell out of there, figured, what the hell, I've got to get home as soon as I can. Though I did have a rain coat, I generally felt completely like shit. I'm not used to riding in the rain.

Problem number three. Let's rewind a bit. When I get to the store. I park, lock up, get my stuff, wait in line, which was a very slow line, as the store was quite busy. I was only buying beer, so it was a quick in and out, should have taken less than five minutes. Well, I'm checking out, they scan my items, I'm prepared to pay, but then the person asks for my id, which I apparantly completely forgot to bring. Shit. Hey, I've been over 21 for over 15 years, I shop here every week, I rode my bike here, it's a ten mile commute, there's a thunderstorm coming, please. I had to step aside, talk to the manager. They weren't going to do it. They required by law to card me. They cannot sell me beer without any id, even though I am clearly over 21. Well, after what felt like a long ordeal, whatever I did worked, they sold me the beer without ID, even though I embarrassed myself completely. How could I be so stupid?

Coming back the weather deteriorated. I'm thinking I could get struck my lightning, or hit by a car, get knocked unconscious, and I would have no identification on me, nothing at all, to verify who I am or where I live. Nothing. Not a library card. Not an address book. Not a journal with my name in it. Not a phone, or even a camera.

I made it home alive, but I felt really shitty, and I still do.

So, that was today's ordeal. Will never make that mistake again. That's for sure.

Do you know how annoying that would to ride ten miles for beer, during a thunderstorm, to forget your ID, and be told you cannot buy it, even though you're well above 30? Well, yes, it's extremely annoying. The pitfalls of looking young, and being a habitual beer drinker.

A smart person would have just waited for a more fortuitous time. Not worth killing yourself over a six pack of beer, especially since I'm going back there on the bike in a few days for normal groceries.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is a great book, and is one of my all time favorite autobiographies. The main reason why I enjoy it so much is precisely because I admire his dedication to personal development which I believe is best exemplified by these 13 virtues.

If you haven't read the book, add it to your 'to read' list. And whether or not you've read it, study these virtues, make them a habit, take it as a simple prescription for better living that doesn't cost you a dime, but just a little bit of patience, self-discipline, and time.

An Outsider Looking In

I don't read celebrity gossip magazines, romance novels, pornography, or the National Enquirer but my one guilty pleasure, in regards to literary material, are books about the 'hood life' in the ghetto, predominantly the black ghetto culture, involving pimps, prostitutes, gangsters, drug dealers, drug addicts, and all manner of criminality and vice, that are largely fueled by a multi-generational culture of poverty and hardship.

I haven't read a lot of this subject matter, but the few that I have, have been very entertaining to me.

Although, I primarily prefer the stories where the protagonist rises above it all, gets an education and becomes an all around better person. But I also enjoy the stories with an unhappy ending too, so long as it's realistic, a story that is true, or based on real experiences, that show the authentic reality of life in the ghetto.

My favorites so far, are: Mama Black Widow by Iceberg Slim, and Black Boy by Richard Wright, and the Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley.

I just finished reading Black Gangster by Donald Goines. This was the first book I read of Donald Goines, having just recently discovered him. While it was a quick and easy read, overall I thought it was nothing special. However, I am looking forward to reading his book Dopefiend, which is a story centered around a heroin addict, and the ghetto culture of 1970s Detroit. It is said to be autobiographical. As Donald Goines was a junky, a criminal, a pimp, and convicted felon, who started writing in prison, and wrote over a dozen novels to ultimately support his addiction. He was murdered in 1974, along with his girlfriend, at the age of 37.

That's the same age as me. But our worlds couldn't be further apart.

I'm not a drug addict or a criminal. I've never been to jail. I've never used heroin. I've never been part of the criminal ghetto underworld. I just like reading about it.

Although, I did grow up in a city, which despite having a population of under 100,000 people, had a fairly large, primarily black, inner city ghetto. I lived on the other side of town, but passed through it on the bus, and knew a few people who lived on the fringe of it, and so I had some exposure, but mostly from a distance. A lot of crazy crackheads and outward hostility toward white people. That's what I remember. This was back in the 80s and 90s mostly. Yeah, I had some experience with the ghetto up close, mostly when I was a teenager and started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, which gave me a feeling of invincibility to go to places and associate with people I wouldn't ordinarily, but for the most part, I was an outsider looking in. Typical clean, sheltered white person, isolated from the reality of the ghetto, looking at it from the point of view of a tourist, reading about it from the safety of home.

Yeah, the next ghetto book I plan to read is Dopefiend, and than after that I'll read Pimp the autobiography of Iceberg Slim.

And also plan to revisit the beats, read some of William S. Borroughs and Charles Bukowski. Yeah, I like reading tales of alcoholics and drug addicts and moral degenerates and freaks, but I wouldn't ever want to know them. That's pretty much where I stand. Kind of like you and this blog. Welcome to another voyeur's peep show, dishing it up effortlessly one post at a time, and deleting them just as fast and effortlessly and without regrets.