Thursday, May 31, 2012

The wind still moves the tree






Today I am a stay-at-home dad, by default.  The nanny called out.  I will see what it's like, sort of. Grandma is here to help.  I wanted a taste of what taking care of the baby is like.  I'll get one. 

For the most part I like taking care of little Rhys.  It can be difficult, of course.  It's not pleasant to see him get upset, to want something that I can't readily provide.  To see him struggle against sleep; a thing that is hilarious in its own way, to me, in retrospect.   

Yesterday we sat out on the grass in the backyard watching the sun descend, waiting for mom to come home.  There were hummingbirds and butterflies to marvel at.  We sat in the grass together, happy, watching the day float by.  He was quite taken at the wind moving through the trees, and I with him.



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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Treading water






Treading water took its toll.  It took the whole day yesterday.  Slowly, I started to notice a pain running down my left side.  An old pain that had receded recently, one that has been there for years.  It's a pinched nerve, collapsed vertebrae.  I had an MRI done.  It is bad news.  I suppose the "eggbeater" motion of treading water aggravated it.  I spent the day walking increasingly lightly, favoring the right leg, drinking to kill the feeling.   

"Of all the things I've lost, it is confidence that I miss the most."  

Indeed.


Last night I had a dream.  I was working at Apple, helping a customer.  Things were going along normally but then something went wrong. I suddenly realized that it was my last day.  I told the customer to go fuck themselves, to get out, to get the fuck out.  

I awoke pleased with the feeling, but dismayed that I was dreaming about such a thing.  It was I who had got the fuck out.

"And therein lies the origins of religion, perhaps, the plea to expunge the past and past guilt, to miraculously make the future not reliant upon what has come before."

Indeed.


I felt like I was going to start whining about being old again, so I just went jogging.  It has a way of embedding some feelings and erasing others.  There is the initial shock of pain, then recognition.  If you push through there is more pain, of course, but then an occasional sense of triumph in that pain.  It was only 30 minutes, but long enough to have all of the needed sensations.  My knees will hurt tomorrow but for today I am Mercury, or perhaps Atalanta... or Artemis.


It is impossible not to notice the corollaries between the garden that we've planted and Rhys.  There is the new life sprouting out of nothing; out of what seems to be nothing, I should say.  It is an exciting time, to watch life grow around me, to become.  Out of nothing, something.  It reminds one of the important lessons, how fleeting life is, how fragile.  It has its drawbacks, life, yet it somehow retains enough charm to be affirmed over and over again.  


It is easier after a jog sometimes, easier than before.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A lost poem, re-written







I could almost see ahead of me
a night of drink, perhaps love

how many like me have come home
cold and dead    from such nights
from such love

I could nearly see ahead of me, stars
bleak horizon and the jagged lost line
of inkblack mountain

from that darkness emerged
dark fountains, flowers found,
the faces of women
seem so beautiful,


sensuous us
though half blossomed,
faded and failed
in that nameless instant, now

just us

you and I in this unpieced place
where unknown
we fall into the eye of the unnamed

after all this, death, half-funny
another daze demised

sculpture not carved of stone
but of prayer, and blame,

of glass
anonymous death, half-funny,
half lame.

that much, at least,
was unanimous.

when nothing lasts,
nothing comes
awfully fast



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Proto-Swim




(Looking in the direction of the pool)


I've been trying to exercise every day, for at least 30 minutes.  I've been on a good streak since I left Apple.  I've somehow found the time each day to do some light cardio, occasionally more.  I thought that I wasn't going to fit it in yesterday, but then we took Rhys to a local pool where he had his first "swim" ever.  His proto-swim.  He didn't actually paddle, of course.  We just held him near us in the water, then occasionally holding him out at arm's length into the water.

His joy was evident, palpable even.

But once we were in the water for 10 minutes or so there wasn't much more to be excited about.  I decided to tread water for 30 minutes, since we were there, and I hadn't exercised yet.  I hadn't thought that I would have a near death experience in doing so.

I employed the eggbeater kick, keeping my ears above the water for most of the time.  The first 10 minutes went pretty easily, the next 10 I started to feel like I was working (watching the clock move slower and slower, doing an invisible dance), the last 10 was an all out desperate dash to the motionless finish line.  No, I kid.  It was actually much easier than I remember it being, treading water.  I assumed it was because I've lost some muscle mass and gained some more buoyant flesh.  Fat.

But about 2-3 minutes shy of 30 I stopped paying attention and I inadvertently swallowed a mouthful of water.  Well, about half of a mouthful, but enough to be drowned.  My body reacted before I even knew what was happening.  It all came out in a fine mist, a steady spray that was jettisoned from my throat before it could hit my lungs.  I know that it doesn't take very much water to be drowned.  It is something I repeated as a mantra when I was a child, so I know that it must be true.  But I also know that being in water when you ingest water greatly increases the likelihood of said drowning.  

I can be morbid.  I imagined my lifeless body sinking to the bottom, unable to hear the screams above, the cries for help, the horror.  I didn't imagine this for long though.  I was still in the water, kicking for my life.  I had a minute or two left to go.  Safety was only an arm's length, and 120 seconds, away.


Having a child has made it a little bit easier to remember things about my own childhood.  For many years there was an ever increasing loss, a darkness of memory, descending on my early years as a curtain from the past.  Now, just barely, I've been able to re-access some of those memories.  Miniature glimpses are making their way back through to the light, leaping in, unexpected.  To my delight they're not all bad.
  
There must be a chemical that gets released, a hormone, that grants one access to their own lost memories upon the birth of a child.  The body is filled with regulatory substances that stimulate specific cells and tissue.  It is how the mind remembers how to swim.  The miniature electro-chemical lightning strike that stimulates a long unused motion and its memory.  

Why not?


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Monday, May 28, 2012

"Drug Addicts Have A Future"






A long weekend, an almost forgotten feeling.  For several years now my schedule has been spread out anywhere across all seven days, shifts shifting as needed, often without warning.  Whatever "the needs of the business" were.  A very popular phrase used there.  When you hear it you usually know you're about to get fucked over. 

It's amazing, the things we endure.  


But today I think we're going to go swimming.  We'll take the boy to a pool and see how he likes the water.  A first.  

I remember being "taught" how to swim in Casselberry, FL.  I was pushed into the pool and then kept from the sides.  It was terrifying.  It was at a neighbor's pool, her name was Sally.  She was the mother of two children.  There was no father around that I remember.  She seemed stylish and cool then.  I had a childhood crush on her, I think.  I seem to remember tingly feelings when I thought of her.  Even years later, thinking of her whenever I would climb up a pole and an erection would appear, as if by magic, as if from nowhere.  But it was not from nowhere.  It was from somewhere.  It was from Sally.

That's all that I have to say about childhood erections for today.  Perhaps more on that later.

A friend pulled out her yearbooks from when we were in middle school together the other day.  The Milwee Spartans.  It is difficult to believe at that age that we were capable of being attracted to any of the other students. We were all so hideously awkward.  All of us except Fawn Blankney and a few others.  I forget most of their names now.  But Fawn was hot, she was a "fox"....  I had to stop looking at her picture.  It became uncomfortable for me. 

A friend called this morning. He had sent me a book that I haven't had much time to look through.  It is the history of Lexington's "Narco Farm", a prison meant to help give drug addicts "the cure."  The pictures are harrowing.  Desperate individuals - some self admitted, some sentenced - in this facility dedicated to bringing help to individuals trapped in the tightening spirals of drug addiction.  It was opened in 1935 and then became a state prison in 1974.  Morphine, Heroin and Cocaine rank highly among the problems dealt with there.  But it is also famous for being one of the places that the CIA tested LSD on inmates/patients to determine if the drug had any cold war applications.  They were hoping that they could "weaponize" the drug. 

"In one test case, inmates were maintained on high doses of barbiturates for a year. In return for cooperation in the drug testing program, inmates were given a number of enticements, including better living accommodations, better food, time off sentences, and a small amount of drugs upon their release which they could take after completing a round of testing." -Wikipedia

William Burroughs, Chet Baker and Leona Helmlsey ("The Queen of Mean") all served time there, at one point or another.  Also, there was Wayne Kramer, the lead guitar player of the MC5.  If beat writing, jazz trumpeting and real estate moguls don't excite your interest then perhaps Detroit proto-punk rockers just might do it.  

That it was both a prison and a hospital reflects America's long-standing ambivalence about addiction.

Anyway, flipping through the book is an eye opener.  Plenty of grim images, ironic advertisements and criticisms of the place.  The company Bayer brought heroin into Americans daily lives, naming it thusly in the hopes of reflecting its more heroic properties on the user.  Some people forget.  

Coca-Cola, well we all know that...

I was thinking of phrases to counter or respond to Selavy's "post-normal" assertions.  Post-proto was one that I thought was fitting.  We are at the end of all firsts.  The end of all those asserting firsts.  We live in a post-proto world, one in which there will likely never again be a government funded hospital to help those afflicted with the addictions introduced by the very products that were once sold to us.  It will only be prisons from here on out, as far as they eye can see, and as thin, and just as safe, as the tax dollar can possibly stretch.

Oh, Drug Addicts Had A Future... in the proto world.




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Sunday, May 27, 2012

How to maximize your 401k losses




(future 401k victim)


I got a phone call from an old anarchist friend yesterday, telling me how proud he is of me, to have quit my job without a replacement.  

Earlier in the day I had a similar call, from a leftist - though the nature of this call was purely inquisitive - wondering what my mother in law and wife thought of it.  

Oh, I chuckled, "They don't even know.  Every day I still pretend to go to work."

No.  Do not worry gentle readers.  I plan on working again.  I just need a break.  Surely the system can't be set up to our perpetual dissatisfaction, without periodic cessation?  Who would wish to live in such an unending, hostile economic environment?  One in which they are expected to unceasingly lose?

Yes, there are bills to pay.  There is a baby, a new house to consider.  But I have money, lots of it.  It's just locked away in a place in which I am punished upon its removal, a 401k con.  So be it, I say.  I am rewarded to put the money in this place, then punished to withdraw it.  Those two counter-axioms tell me all that I need to know.  I'm being cheated.  They are using my money to their advantage, then disproportionately distributing far less of the profits to me.  I am meagerly rewarded to allow this, then greatly punished to stop it.  The government is, of course, complicit in this grift.  The structure of the swindle was designed by them.  It's precisely why others are able to quickly remove their money from a failing fund and I am not.  They need to lock suckers in to make the scam complete.  The losers go down with the ship.  

The name of my 401k is Titanic Investments, a behemoth in the Bonds and Money Market industries.

I can be fleeced out of this money at almost any time, of course.  All that is required is that fraud occur on almost unimaginable levels, then the money disappears and I am left without an apology.  They bill me for the theft, in fact.  It happens all the time.  Just read the news.  Rarely is anybody punished.  The system itself is too complicated to blame anybody.  

So, why let anybody do such a thing?  The idea is to get out of a plan that's going south, even if it hurts.  I used the job and the money to get the house.  Now I just need to get the money, whatever there is of it, before they do.


In the meantime...

I am currently open for business, providing technical support to the Sonoma/Napa communities. I have had over 5 years experience at the Apple Corporation, working solely as a technician.  I'm the best.  

I have always resisted doing this type of work while there.  It was frowned upon, moonlighting.  There are lots of frowns to go around there.  But now all that has changed.  I am good, some would say very good, and my prices are reasonable.  My hours are flexible and I'm always willing to help in an emergency.  Cash payments are preferred, but this is only so the 401k gods don't get angry.  I wouldn't want to take the pennies from the mouths of millionaires, nor from the hands of my loving government.

I think this year I'm going to take Warren Buffett up on his offer and pay additional taxes.  I'm just gonna run that idea by the wifey first.



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Saturday, May 26, 2012

(Tales of Courage)






I've learned not to waste too much time writing on the weekends.  Far fewer people visit.  When they do they browse through the last few weeks of posts, mostly.  This would seem to indicate two things.  That most people read this site while they're at work and that the people who don't, or can't, will catch up as they can on the weekends.  I've noticed that holiday weekends bring the fewest new visitors to the site.  So, with that in mind I'll keep it short today.

I've mentioned before that I should have never started looking at Google Analytics, or the Stats page here.   I knew that it would disrupt how I felt and thought about writing here each day.

With that in mind... I've decided to change the tentative title of my middle-years memoirs, the 2nd volume, from "Hookers Don't Count..." to "Bring It On, Retard! (Tales of Courage)"

We'll see.


I went for a bike ride yesterday.  Across Sonoma from west to east on Napa St., from Boyes Hot Springs to 8th Avenue East.  Then south down to Gundlach Bundschu, into their property and up the winery hill that leads to the tasting room.  From the side of the road I snapped the picture above, my heart thumping wildly in my chest, panhandling for mercy, for change. 

Then back down the road that leads in and out at the highest speed possible on a mountain bike.  The highest speed possible by me, that is.  Further south to Napa Rd. (Not Napa St... Yes, it is absurd and self-defeating, I know), then finally turned to head back west from the middle point, the furthest distance from home, in the ride.

There were little birds chasing the bigger birds away from their nests all across the valley.  Angry mothers of a small pile of delicious eggs, I'm sure.  The fields, many of them, had been freshly mowed by large tractors, in preparation for what is to come.  A skunk lying dead in the road, scent being almost its last reporting to the world.  There were vultures already circling above, prepared to receive one further message.  The picture below was snapped on Watmaugh Road as I headed towards Arnold Drive, and the last major turn before heading home, almost due north.  

I struggled to keep a steady pace as the ride wore on.  I was in the flattest part of the valley but my legs begged.  I glimpsed a cow barely peeking its head over a hill in the distance, bored with the weekend before it had even arrived. 




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Friday, May 25, 2012

To retard...






Ah, freedom... If only... 

I am in a lightly foul mood.  My life is suddenly crowded with expectations and otherwise.  All I want is to recede, to relax.  I merely want to lie in bed and read, for years.  To write.  What could be wrong with wanting that?  It is not easy.  There is the boy, and the mother, and all the others' wise.  I would go into details, but here and now is not the place nor the time.  Somewhere else and much later makes more sense, when I will laugh about it all.   

It will all work out in time.  I will bore of this life and will seek to give my life gainful meaning.  I only hope to find something that I enjoy doing, something that challenges me in a satisfying way.  An occupation that has complexity, a relationship between effort and reward, autonomy (even within a "team" setting).  All of the things I didn't have at Apple, etc.

Speaking of being challenged in a meaningless way....

The Belgian retard and I have been at it again over at Selavy (comments section).  I try to be good, oh dear lord, I promise, I try.  Selavy is right, of course.  There is no point in any of it.  Let people think what they want.  There is little chance of swaying anybody from any one thing to any other, and there is no known cure for her particular brand of stupidity, it appears to be a quite persistent condition.  Reason and humor are useless and lost.  But I do so love to argue, I guess.  She will start ranting about America and the death penalty for porn (read back through his posts) and I will finally lose any ability to restrain myself.  

I have, at least, shown moderation in responding to her with quotations.  That should cheer me for a while.

What finally set me off was her criticism of Selavy's work.  It was not bold enough for her, it seems.  She threatened to not like it if he gets too conservative with the poses.  She presumably wants enforced vulgarity and he has not provided it for her, so she sent her dimwitted communique of correction and admonishment.  

There are strong themes running through much of his work - loneliness, vulnerability, feigned modesty, repose, silence, anonymity - that have apparently escaped her all along.  She seems to have seen only the nudity and then the suggestion of whatever else she wants to see there.  It is all there to be seen, to be certain, but it is only a component of the work rather than its sole purpose.  

That is my humble, American opinion, anyway. 

Ok, enough about her.  I have promised not to pursue a quarrel with her on Selavy's blog.  But I have decided to give her a voice here on mine, in this post's comments section, if she chooses.  So, bring it on, my witless dolt .  I've got plenty of free time on my hands now and would love to summon your ignorance out into the light once more, where it can be seen plainly for what it is. 

I'll be okay without what passes for discourse with her also, of course, but it gives me something to write about.  

Also, I am using the term "retard" in the appropriate and expected manner.  It is not a slur, it is a technical term.  I am referring to her effect on art; I am "verbing" her.  She has slowed down the progress of an artist.  She has discouraged him from pursuing an artistic interest and impulse, and he has responded ("Posting a naked boy here was apparently a bad idea. Overwhelmingly people didn't like it.").  By pure definition she is retarding the process of art, making her a retardant.   I have shortened the term only for simplicity's sake.

I mean no harm. I only wish to be clear.  She is a verb, hopefully soon to be verboten.

Ha! :-P




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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thin Differential




(unknown, employee)


Here is the post that I didn't post the other night. I have deleted some of the more vitriolic criticisms. 



Today was my last day at work.  I had put in my two week notice and they got so excited they fast-tracked me into oblivion.  It's no big surprise.  The only real surprise for me concerning this job is that I've lasted as long as I have.  I've had good friends manage me throughout the last 5 years and I wouldn't have blamed any of them for firing me, at any time, without warning or notice - "on the spot", as they say.  I am not what many would consider a model employee.  Most would not even consider me an "employee" were it not for the legality of the thing, the appearance.  I'm certain that many must have assumed that I was a "plant" sent from internal affairs.  Why else would I incite disruption and thumb my nose at both process and authority... 

Why?

It is their obligation to treat me with a modicum of nonsense that makes the world what it is.

I speak at work much like I write here.  You can imagine the effect.  

I should say, I spoke at work... I write here.

They were quite lucky to ever have me work for them.  Truly.  If they could get me to do anything it was nearly a miracle.  I was the standard Apple "genius", only two useless letters more than an Ape, surly and discontented, destined for better things, just minutes away, always condescending (that means "to talk down to"), and ever  pretending that I was proud of being a genius, a real team player.  A brown shirt to the juggernaut of different thought.  

What an insult, the command to "Think Different", nobody even seemed to notice.  

If you ever want to examine the absurdity of something look carefully at its parallel, or its opposite... 

"Act The Same" , "Think Different"

To think at all is the difference.  


Last year the company made $400,000 in profit off of each employee.  That is, if you were to divide their total net earnings between each of us, which they did not.  It was them cutting our benefits in a legendary year of earning that was so galling, so precise, so openly cynical and contemptuous of the very asset they claim to value the most, their people.  Steve Jobs never believed in charity, ever.  It was the first thing he axed when he regained control of the company he founded, never to return in his lifetime.  He honestly believed that making the highest price computer available on the general market was his contribution to mankind.  It shows.   He will be worshipped by those who have never known better, never thought otherwise.  

I have been an attendee to private indoctrination rallies where the blue-shirts chanted "change!, change!, Change!, Change!, CHANGE!  CHANGE!!!

Yet very few among those crowds were chanting for themselves.  They wanted to grant the company they worked for unquestioned access to unquestioned obligation.  Sounds vaguely familiar.  

It seems an odd coincidence that BUY and KILL will be the callings of our culture, our two great national mantras.

Think, Dissidents.

Have you ever noticed how similar the words employee and amputee are...  Estragon and Vladimir.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  Simon and Garfunkel.  Apple and Exxon.  Fight or Flight.  


Good and Eviling.

Thin Differential.


Ok, enough....  One day I might tell the story of an aging innocent among young savages.  If strength is granted, as strength is needed.  A romantic has very little place there.  The most astonishing thing is that they've sold the world on the very opposite of the idea that raises them.  


I feel as if I am entering a bright white room, empty except for me.    

I know this feeling will pass, as it does not reflect reality in any meaningful way whatsoever.  But I suppose that I am blind to the expectations set upon me by those whose expectations I have filled.   

You might laugh.  You might not.  But I am thinking of the next place to take a vacation.  I could use one.  I haven't led a pious life, but neither have I deprived myself of pleasure, even when it was painful.

I believe that money will only come to you if you spend all of your time making sure that it does, and acting that it should.  Otherwise, money will mostly run away from you.  If not run, then it will leak.  That's why wealthy people work so hard.  Somebody must look after the interest.  

Who is going to tend to all of these god-damned breaches....






Poppies






There is a state highway that runs between Sonoma and Santa Rosa, Hwy. 12.  It is a very nice drive up the valley, through the heart of wine country.  Yesterday I decided to go for a bike ride, wanting to get back in the habit of exercising.  Too often I exercise in a routine.  I will ride the same ride, day after day, until suddenly I bore of it and then quit altogether.  So yesterday I decided on a ride that I had never tried before, straight up Hwy. 12.  As I said, in a car this drive is quite pleasant.  It is easy to believe that it is just some gently rolling hills.   

Trying it on a bike grants a very different understanding of the terrain. 

It is uphill almost the entire way there.  The hills do roll gently but that almost makes it more difficult rather than less.  They never seem to roll downhill in your favor for long enough.  I just hadn't noticed how it is basically a long steady incline.  I had chosen a place that I wanted to ride to from driving past in a car.  It is a region called Kenwood, also famous for its wines.  In a vineyard just past the Kunde winery they have planted row after row of red and orange poppies.  Hundreds of them, rows that is.  There are tens of thousands of poppies, perhaps hundreds of thousands.  They stretch from the highway to the hills.  

They are meant to evoke remembrance though I drew a blankness, with nothing in particular to recollect or reminisce, no peace to ponder.

The trip was 18 miles total.  Nine arduous miles there and nine easy, fast miles back.  I felt as if my heart would explode on the last portion of the ride there.  About two miles before I made it to these rows of flowers there is an incline that stretches to the horizon.  No hills, no relief - just a long heart-melting incline to my goal.  I felt like my heart was going to detonate.  Not a bad place to die, I guess, if I had wanted to.




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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Goodbye is too good a word






Yesterday was my last day at work.  After putting in my two week notice they fast-tracked me towards the door, sort of.  They gave me the option of finishing out the week, if I chose to.  I agreed to work one more day, they agreed, all was settled.  Then late last night I decided that I would not go in.  There is nothing left there for me.  Goodbyes, handshakes and hugs are not necessary, nor should they be required.  Now there is only an expanse in front of me, perhaps needing to be filled.  Perhaps.  It is challenging, that feeling of openness.  It is an exciting time for me, perhaps soon to be exacting.

I wrote a post late last night that I thankfully did not publish.  It was a screed, filled with some humor and then a fair amount of open bitterness.  An insider's jab at the belly of the beast; a poisoned apple which produced no sleep, no death.  I watched the company go through some important changes from a front-line perspective.  In the trenches, as they say.  When an employee leaves Apple we refer to it as having been "promoted to a customer"... There is a fair amount of honesty to be found there, an unsmiling honesty.


About five and a half years ago I walked out of the front door of my apartment in New York, never having had a real job before*.  As I stepped down off of the steps of my building, heading towards the subway, I put my entire iPod's music library on shuffle and this is the first song that came on.  It is strange how much music can inform your life.  I knew that I would get the job, even after I went to the interview and flubbed it terribly, babbling about my experience as a dj, assuming others would find me interesting, and perhaps valuable as such.  I retained some charm, I guess.  They offered me the job.  It was life-changing in many ways, not all of them good.

But after last night I've decided to focus on the good.  

After two years of working there Rachel finally decided she wanted to marry me.  She let me know.  We hadn't talked for months. We had broken up and gotten back together so many times that most of our friends chalked us both up to the "doomed" category. We reigned in the men's, women's and couple's division.  Doomed, doomed, and doomed...  We swept all three rounds, gold medals in each.  

We were all wrong, our friends were merely the last to know.

Marriage, a baby, a move to California, a house.  All of it can be traced to working at Apple.  I had never been consistent before.  I had arranged my life to have as little structure as possible, if it can even be called that, arranged.  That all changed.

Now I only hope to find something that I love doing.  I love many things but not all of them easily equate to income, or consistency.  Oh, where is the market for me... where?


I know what you're thinking... God-damn it. Sean Cusick is cool.  Why the fuck does he have Herb Alpert's "Rise" on his iPod?  

It's true, I am cool.  When you think soft jazz you always think... Me. 

I do, anyway.  




* If you've read this blog for any period of time then you would know that I once worked at Popeyes and I might have mentioned that I managed a record store, a specialty shop that dealt exclusively in electronic dance music.  But none of those were real jobs, meaning one with benefits or any long-term potential whatsoever.  Apple was the first, and so far only, "real" job I've ever had.  So, my opinions about working there are derived from a first-timer's perspective.  Some people have been doing that sort of thing their whole lives so they're quite comfortable with it.  For me, it began as quite a shock.  One day soon I'll tell that story too.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Benefits package




(unknown artist, DiRosa gallery)


The clock ticks away at work.  I can almost hear the slow tapping in the distance, the percussive clicks approaching.  The job has become immensely easier than it was before, giving me some insight into the subjective nature of its difficulties.  It seems that nothing can quite touch me there now.  No interaction can cause me the stress that it once did, daily.  It's as if I'm wading through a recurring subconscious ordeal of mine, but that I am somehow not the one doing the dreaming any longer.   The unpleasantness of it all is around me, rather than in me.  

Why can't they make a drug that could provide this feeling each day?  I've tried xanax, many times.  It works but it can not be used the way that I would like to, 5 days a week without any negative effects, doubling up on weekends for recreation.  I suppose any drug that would make you experience life so objectively would have its drawbacks.  I used to eat acid a few times a week and I started to notice that the non-affected world had lost some of its sheen, its natural glow began to diminish and fade.  It gives one insight into the many paths to madness.

None of it is worth it, drugs, when all is said and done.  Because the saying and the doing becomes dull repetition, an empty ritual of self, the practice of intake rather than an act of expression.  I have bored of drugs, or at least regular drug intake.  The occasional reminisce suffices. 


I've sometimes wondered what it must be like to die.  Being an imaginative sort I practice the fantasy in a variety of ways.  I imagine the walk up the steps to the scaffold, that time must slow down so as to be elongated and otherworldly, changing its usual forward march into an amorphous sideways billowing, rippling outwards as curtains in the wind; all sounds must recede into near total silence.  Objects distant might seem precious and unattainable as the impending event is both recognized and denied by the mind, even as you move towards it, with all impressions expanding even as you diminish towards the one.  Thoughts must take flight in the most opposite of directions.  There would be a scattering of faculties and the senses would become engaged on many levels, flooding the mind with perceptions and endorphins.  Life must become quite analgesic in its final moments, when ended this way.

The acute dread and horror upon seeing the tower of the guillotine, and the angled metal blade glistening, must be enormous.  I envision the act of the sharpening, the occasional mishap, the forfeited limbs of mistake - the stray fingers, hands, or worse.  The price of maintenance, the hands of time.

It has been said that Marie Antoinette accidentally stepped on the executioner's foot in her final bewildered daze, she then stepped back and apologized as she was led towards the terror, the crowd reeling with excitement.  

Georges Danton said, "Don't forget to show my head to the people. It's well worth seeing."  


I would likely be in a spasmodic state, excrement streaming down the inside of my pants.  Nobody would want to touch me, they would force me towards eternity with sharpened sticks, disgusted at my shame, not wanting to participate in it in any way.  "Some people simply don't know how to die, do they?"  I would hope that they would have the decency to not turn my head around and show me that I had fragranced myself this way.  To be disembodied and fouled would be excessive punishment, I would think.

I suppose they could make matters much worse for me if they chose to, even then.  Barbarians, each of us.

But they've done away with the guillotine, in the early 80's, if I remember correctly.  It would take a very resourceful murderer with specific ambitions for me to die in that way now.  I have no idea where such a person would even get a crowd under those conditions.  But it is still something to consider from time to time.  Young boys fantasize about these things when they are taught about them, then often for years afterwards.  I suppose that I've never quite grown up.  Not growing up is sometimes much easier than going to work.  The benefits are amazing but the pay is shit.



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Monday, May 21, 2012

The new moon by the light of the sun







As I've mentioned before, new moons tend to have a special significance for us.  We notice them; the lack of the visible.  They tend to correspond to special events in our lives.  I know that it is only the noticing that brings the significance, but it is there nonetheless, the noticing of a thing.

Yesterday we went to a spa here in Sonoma and had a "date day."  We got massages and lounged in the saunas and hot tubs.  Then we sipped champagne afterwards by the pool.  It was the most time that we had been without Rhys, together.  

On the way home we saw a young guy that had set up a makeshift viewer for the solar eclipse.  A solar eclipse can only happen on the day of a new moon*.  So, we watched and marveled as the shadow of the moon overtook the light of the sun.  

We went home and prepared dinner.  Rachel called me up to our bedroom and showed me the wall near our bed.  The light coming from the eclipse filtered through the leaves of the trees and made the mosaic that you see above on our wall, flickering gently before us.  We stood there, amazed at what we saw.  Luckily, it occurred to me to get a picture.  Shortly after this shot was taken the wind picked up and blurred the patterns beyond recognition, never to return.  


Life can be clustered, confused and crowded with emotions ever stacking - difficult to wade through, daunting.  It is so easy to get tired, to be tired, to remain tired, especially once one is already tired.  Sometimes all that I need is a simple occurrence, something to lift me a little, to transport me momentarily to another realm.  I crave some occasional sense of the magical, some marvelous glimpse into the wonder of the elsewhere, revealing to me once again the dancing spectacle of life before me.  Light casting through the trees, carrying with it one of the simple mysteries of the universe.

   






* The Mel Gibson film "Apocalypto" was praised for its studied and accurate use of the Mayan language.  I remember several critics falling over themselves to mention it, though I have no idea how they would have possibly known.  It seemed like information that might have been provided to them by the studio as part of their promotional efforts.  There is a scene in the film where the main character is going to be put to death, but a solar eclipse saves him.  Later that same night he is running through the woods and he glances up and sees a full moon.  Those two events are separated by approximately 14 days.  They occur at opposite ends of the lunar cycle.  So, enough for ol' Mel Gibson's respect of things, like astronomy or science.  We know some things that perhaps he doesn't.


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leaving this way









"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

- Steve Jobs


I finally put in my two week notice at work.  I've not been able to speak directly of my work here because of an NDA I signed when I was hired.  It is a fireable offense.  I was a technician for the Apple Corporation, a "genius" as the designation goes.  It was an interesting and difficult occupation.  It gives one unique perspective into the relationship people have with their computers.  It also gives one unique access to the human heart and its many disproportionate demands.  Perhaps I will write more of it in the future.  For now I am exhausted of it all.  I have been there just over 5 years, finally getting my full benefits only two months ago, then only to leave.  Very typical of my life, either getting involved with things as they are ending, or sticking it out to receive only meager rewards.

The words above are from Steve Jobs' speech to the graduating class of Stanford.  When he passed away I, like many other Apple employees and people in general, took the time to read over some of the highlights of his life.  When I came upon this quote I realized that by his own standards he would have far fewer employees.  But the words kept coming back to me in an abridged form.  I kept saying to myself, "Steve Jobs doesn't want me to work here."  It was a little joke I used to torture myself.  I've had many of them.  It helps slow down time and make it less pleasant.

But quitting felt great.

Putting in my notice felt so delightful that I picked out another manager about 20 minutes later, sat down and did the same, trotting out the whole story, adding a few embellishments and improvements, as needed.  By the time I worked my way through a few of them I really started to feel strongly about the backstory I had given myself.  


It felt right, leaving this way.




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Saturday, May 19, 2012

... all a nothing







I return to work today.  There is nothing at all to say about it.  "It is all a nothing and man is nothing too."

I have lived much of my life with conflicting emotions, but recently I have been both witness and subject to many of those emotions rising within me, with nowhere left to go.  It seems that everywhere I turn there are two separate sets of feelings, neither of which am I able to choose from.  I have exerted much energy getting here and now I question.  


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Friday, May 18, 2012

Throwing Punches






"It is not at all consoling to know that you expected better from a policeman."  - an email from Colin Mason.


I had only adopted the voice of self-righteous indignation because I thought it suited the post yesterday.  It allowed me to laugh along with it a little bit without being too angry.  I don't expect any more out of cops, in fact I always expect quite a bit less.  I was lucky.  I know that things could have been much worse for me.  It's why the conversation changed direction once I got hit.  They gave me a choice and I took it.  When you're surrounded by cops and one of them has already hit you then it can go one of two ways: to get hit even more and almost assuredly arrested, or begin to direct the conversation in such a way that you neither get arrested nor get any further punches, or kicks to the ribs.  I chose the latter and I'm confident that's precisely what they wanted.  It means less work for them and it reinforces the idea that their punching is both effective and perhaps even necessary.   

I owe society for my lack of initiative in this matter.

I didn't go to jail.  That was the goal.  I hadn't done anything in violation of the law, but we know that doesn't really matter.  Once a cop starts punching then he's only one more smart-assed remark away from cuffing, and likely more punching, and kicking.  Resisting arrest always gets thrown in as an extra charge, to justify the use of force, and then all is settled.   The judge looks at it in the morning and decides that no matter what you claim, you had to be arrested, you resisted, force had to be used.  You've just increased your troubles and guaranteed them an easier time with it all.  It's only when you're lucky enough that somebody is taking video of the incident that you might have some recourse.  I wasn't going to count on that being the case.  If you've ever been to the tenderloin district of SF then you'd know that not much gets recorded there for your benefit.

Cops punch people all of the time.

That's why it doesn't deeply sadden me when cops get killed.  Truly.  I don't hope for it, but I accept it as "part of the job."  I hope they do too.  When I hear about a cop getting shot "in the line of duty" I shrug.  I don't care about their families or their children.  Or, at least I don't fantasize about their families and the sadness they must be experiencing as my mother used to seemingly love to do.  They are expected to die every now and then.  It's part of what they signed up for.  It is perhaps the only way they know how to deliver any sense of tragedy or valor to their lives.  I wait for the day in which the city has a "review process" in which they could then deny their family any benefits.  It is only a matter of time.  Eventually it will happen.  It must.  Capitalism demands it.  Budget restraints, etc.  It has already happened to everybody else, why not cops?

I don't wish anybody's death, honestly.  I just don't dramatize the death of a cop.  It is what it is.  Cops kill people all of the time.  When they do they get a paid vacation and a release in work load when they come back.  If they exhibit continued troubles afterwards then they can also get re-assigned to an easier patrol or early retirement.  I mean, why not kill when those are the benefits?  There is too little for them to lose.  They all too often shoot and kill without justification.

If you think cops have respect for the law then just watch them interact with poor people.  They would never speak to a rich person, in their own neighborhood, that way.  There would be a report filed and they'd get taken off duty in that area.   It takes a cop killing a poor black kid for him to get re-assigned out of the ghetto.  It's practically a win-win situation for them.


Selavy said, "They're not all bad" in his comments to yesterday's post.  I think he's probably right.  But if I had to make a choice based on assumption I'd lean towards thinking that most of them are not to be trusted and all of them are to be avoided, if not openly feared.  It is what I will be teaching Rhys, once he's old enough to understand.  If cops regularly surrounded and punched women in the head then maybe Rachel would agree with me.  

I guess they're just too busy with all of the raping.  

When you settle for less than you deserve then you'll get even less than you settled for.  There is no adequate societal apparatus in place to restrain a runaway police force.  Some might say "the law", but consider carefully the use of that law without the police force to keep it in place.  One hand not only washes the other, it's also capable of throwing its own punches.  We live in a society that has two right hands, a pugilist's dream. 



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Thursday, May 17, 2012

San Francisco Police Brutality





Very few people liked to be punched in the head.  I'm not one of those that do.  Let me tell you the story.

A friend of mine and I went into San Francisco for the afternoon/early evening.  We took the B.A.R.T. from Oakland to a wine bar in the Ferry Building, just across the bay, near the piers.  We sat and drank several glasses of wine.  My friend knew one of the bartenders.  We were getting a very good deal on the rather expensive glasses.  When that was over we took a long walk through the streets of SF, looking for another friend at another bar, and then another.  Finally, we were drunk.  We decided to get something to eat.  When we walked into the place I went to the bathroom while my friend ordered from the counter.  I found a table and prepared to feast.  Things went downhill rather quickly after that.  There was an attempt to make it to the bathroom which resulted in a floor spill, then there was a spill of a whole other kind once he hit the the bathroom.  Clearly it was time to go.  I collected myself.  My friend was already outside, waiting.  

As I began to leave they told me that my friend had not payed.  When I saw him at the counter ordering he had his wallet out.  I chose not to believe them.  I walked outside, looking for my buddy.  He was nowhere to be found.  They demanded payment and I said that I neither ordered the food nor was I going to pay for any of it.  After some negotiation I said that if I were to pay anything it would only be for mine, but that I was going to verify with my buddy that he had not payed first.  This was unacceptable to them for reasons I still don't fully understand.  Two of them began pushing me backwards.  I warned them to stop, reminding them that it's not polite to push somebody, and that it is also a violation of the law.

After they determined that the pushing wasn't working they each decided to put their hand on my throat also, not exactly choking me, but threatening to do so somewhat, pushing me at the throat.  I was not swayed by this tactic either.  But I decided that I had had enough.  I told each of them that if they put their hand on my throat one more time then things were going to become much less pleasant, and quickly.  

The cops arrived.

We all chatted about what had happened.  The cops tried to claim that because there were no witnesses there was nothing they could do about the choking.  I reminded them that an incident report could still be filed.  There were 4 cops so I'm not sure which one hit me in the head.  I think it was the angry aryan that was standing towards the middle.  He had already been screaming at various points in our chat for reasons that also escaped me.  He seemed like a real hot-head.  Something that I said hadn't agreed with him, I guess.  I asked the other cops if there were any witnesses to that incident of assault and battery.  Presumably there were still none.  

My buddy returned and offered to pay the bill for dinner.  I'm somewhat fuzzy on the details but I remember taking $15 in cash back from one of them - the restaurant employees, not the cops.  As of yet I do not believe the cops are paying citizens to hit them.  It's still free for them, as a courtesy perquisite to the job.  

In retrospect I wish that I had paid for dinner with my credit card so that my buddy's name wouldn't have been involved in any way.  He's on probation and now I can't even file an incident report against the cops that showed up because it might come back to haunt him if the cops went by the restaurant and found out who paid, then looked into it.  That's assuming that they do spend their time doing something other than bullying people.  Though in truth I doubt I would file anyway.  But I should.  When a police officer attacks a citizen, physically unprovoked, and three other cops watch it, never even suggesting that maybe he should "cool it", then there are real problems.  

Do not worry.  My head has been punched many times, and far more effectively, than by this blonde mustached fool.  This morning I tried to find a bruise and actually had to search around a bit to find it.  So, there was little actual damage done by the punch.  Nevertheless, it is dispiriting to have a cop attack you, and to feel justified in having done so, because you were the victim of a previous assault in his apportioned area.  

I will try to relay a story involving a cop several years ago outside one of my friend's bars.  It was shocking, though not quite as shocking as being punched by a cop.


Ironically, on the drive out to Oakland to meet my buddy I was listening to a lecture by Prof. Richard Lichtman.  In it he catalogued some of the ways in which a seemingly free society becomes what is known as a totalitarian democracy.  A runaway sense of power among those expected to uphold our society's basic laws was one of the more salient points he made, referring both to the U.S. military beginning to function within our own borders, and the rampant misuse of power exhibited in some of the Occupy movement events.  Lichtman also cited the work One-Dimensional Man, which was additionally coincidental, because Selavy had just mentioned it a few days before.


So, beware dear citizen... when the police think nothing at all of punching people in the head to make a point, in front of other cops, then society has lost something very valuable.  If any of you think that those fuckers are on your side then go try your luck in San Francisco's tenderloin district.  They've got a way of changing the conversation down there that just might surprise some of you.  Watch out for the blonde cop with anger issues.  He doesn't seem capable of too much damage, but he sure does seem intent on trying.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

225 lbs.




(Ten Tree Hill)


God damn it.  225 pounds.  We went to the doctor's office today, a regular checkup for Rhys.  He was fine.  I was not.  I've been on what some would consider a difficult diet for months.  I've only lost 7 pounds.  No dairy, no fried foods, no soda.  The no-dairy part many would consider very difficult, if not extreme.  Try it.  It is not easy.  Every restaurant puts butter in their food, even the "vegetarian" dishes, I promise.  Ask any vegan.  

We were there for Rhys to get a regular checkup.  He was fine.  I think I've already said that.  He has grown 6 inches in 3 months, approx.  The boy is the very picture of health, a testament to it.  He daily celebrates growth in millimeters.

But me, I was distraught, inconsolable.  I stood there, staring down at this medieval contraption, this visual torture device.  How could this be?  I adjusted, then readjusted the weights.  The lead told no lies.  225.  I watched the scale balance itself.  225.  I stepped off and stepped on again. 225.  I made sure it balanced out at 0 lbs., tried again.

225.


I don't understand it.  My jeans were fitting better, mirrors had stopped smirking and began smiling at me, I could breathe without huffing.  I stopped avoiding unnecessary stairs.  I had stopped double-guessing beer.  My teeth were whiter.  Hair had returned to its rightful place upon my crown.  I had brought halt to the unceasing guilt.  I was ready to get naked in front of crowds again.  All of that.  

Why me, why now?  I was on the verge of happiness, the cusp of contentment....  Now I must commit to even darker extremities in diet.  I have no idea where the additional prudence will emerge from; from what corner of the spirit I will be pressed to tap, some dark recess of the militant meal mind.  I will eat my own hunger for lunch.


-----------------


I was going to stop there.  I began to re-read these paragraphs, to scan them for typos or errors, when I scanned the first paragraph all I saw was, "We went to the doctor's office today, a regular porkchop...."



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Bok Choy, Pt. 2






Bok Choy.  We enjoyed our first harvest from the garden yesterday.  Prepared with rainbow chard, flash-cooked in a pan together with a touch of oil and salt.  Delicious.  I cooked two halves of a seasoned chicken slowly on the grille.  A few glasses of red wine with it all, and voilĂ ...  success.

I have never been able to cook very well, relying on others for survival.  I have been very lucky to be surrounded by those who do cook well.  I learn things here and there but never practice them myself.  So the knowledge, if it can be called that, is lost before it can germinate.  I am curious about various cooking techniques.  I will sit in a kitchen and watch friends cook for hours, pouring myself generous servings of wine, asking questions about this technique or how best to work with this food, functioning as an assistant to the chef.  All information and observation somehow misplaced later that same evening, like scraps of pocket paper that have been through the wash.  Unpracticed understanding is lost - like unused language, it becomes thick on the tongue, the mind searches for it, the eyes gazing upwards into memory, finding mostly ghosts there.

I have bought Rachel several books on cooking and she has taken them to heart and practice, baking me foods that ballooned me up to 232 pounds at one point.  Julia Childs be damned.  I am not very well versed in restraint.  Restraint, much like cooking, requires practice.  I've often thought that if I had adopted a vast love for culinary preparation then less people would question my occasionally rapid weight increases.  They would suggest unconsciously to themselves that it is merely part of the practice of cooking.  It is to be expected, etc.  Without an otherwise handy excuse available then people will sometimes propose that it is the "empty calories" of alcohol that both contain and unravel the mystery of my dilemma.

The blessed curse of perhaps.



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Monday, May 14, 2012

... a nice, long nap




(Barkley in the distance)


Selavy made a good point to me via email.  I won't reprint it here but the essence of it was that once an issue becomes a social issue then everybody loses their sense of humor about it.  It's true, and I am perhaps the guiltiest.  I have written a few times about the issue of same-sex marriage recently, here and there, and I have made a bit of fun of conservative ideology in doing so, but I forgot to also poke fun at gay marriage.  I mean, gay jokes are funny.  They are.  It's true. Gay marriage jokes are funny.  If I could only find a way of fitting a few of them onto this post.

See?

But it is true.  Once we lose our sense of humor about something then that thing has become sacred.  While I was busy attacking the idea of "the sanctity of marriage" I was also making the issue of same-sex marriage sacred in its own way.  Sacred cow makes the best hamburger, as they say.  So, enough of my tirades against the right.  I will return to my usual irreverent self, laughing at all things freely, but without malice.

I promise.  I solemnly and sacredly vow it, etc.  


Ok, moving on.  Yesterday we had a very nice day: breakfast, a quick visit to the garden, presents, a nap, a bike ride, sitting on the patio watching the shadows float across the lawn, drinks, dinner (scallops), then after-dinner drinks, a chat with grandma, then off to bed.  The very vision of what a Mother's Day is supposed to be, heterosexuals enjoying each other's company, etc.

I counted the empty bottles this morning and I trembled at them, frightened of what they had done to me. 


Today might just be a lost day.  I'm going to go find a spot in the shade, park my car and take a nice long nap.  



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Please read this...



I have several friends who will often refer to astrology as the wisdom of the cosmos, or "readings" as actual guidance, to escort their hopes and dreams through the confusing maelstrom of life.

I beg of all of you... please read this simple article, and consider what it's saying.  Why isn't this a required course in school?


Criticism of Astrology

Astrology has been widely criticised by skeptics who consider it pseudoscience. This page summarizes some of the most common criticisms.

The Theory

Scientists believe that the underlying theory of astrology lacks any evidential support, and in fact is impossible.
Firstly, there is no known force that can cause celestial objects to affect human life in the way claimed by astrologers (the four known forces of nature can all be ruled out). There is no evidence of any other type of force at work, leaving no mechanism for astrology.1
Perhaps there is some mysterious force at work, unknown to science? Even so, such a force could not work in the way astrology describes because astrology is based on a false understanding of the sizes and positions of celestial bodies. According to astrology, the influence of celestial bodies is more or less evenly spread amongst the most obvious visible heavenly objects. If an object appears brighter or moves in an interesting fashion (e.g. stationary, direct or retrograde), it will tend to be given more significance. This would have made sense 6000 years ago but we now know better. We have learnt that objects we perceive as bigger, brighter, nearer or more active are not necessarily so.
Consider this example: If the outer planets have a similar level of influence to the inner planets, this would mean their level of influence is independent of distance. In turn this means that every planet in the galaxy is also influencing us. The effect of those planets would overwhelm any influence of the planets we can see.

The Evidence

Astrologists claim that astrology does work even if scientists say it can't. Their argument is that scientific knowledge is incomplete and scientists simply don't yet understand how or why astrology works. To answer this, scientists point to the evidence.
In a way astrology is scientific, insofar as that it has a reasonably well defined framework that predicts clear, consistent and testable outcomes. For example, astrology predicts that people born at certain times and under certain conditions will share certain personality traits. However, when studies of these traits are undertaken, no such correlation is found. To date, studies continue to show that personality traits are spread randomly across all star signs.3
Another prediction of astrological theory is that an accomplished astrologer should be able to match people with their birth charts. To test this, astrologers are presented with a series of randomized test subjects and birth charts, then asked to match the subject with their chart. To date no studies have demonstrated an ability to do this better than random chance.3,4

Horoscope Readings

Astrological readings tend to be made up of the following:
  • Generalized character assessments that would apply to most people, e.g. "You are family-oriented", "You are mindful of your financial situation", etc.
  • Double meanings that are almost always correct because they cover all possibilities, e.g. "You like to be decisive but sometimes you find it hard to make decisions."
  • Obvious advice that applies universally, e.g. "Work hard and rewards will come."
  • Vague references which could be interpreted in many different ways.
  • Most importantly, things the subject wants to hear, e.g. "This is a positive time for romance".
Using these simple tricks, astrologers can create a horoscope reading that will always apply to the reader. Most advice applies to most people, and readers will naturally tend to interpret the readings as being personal to them. A graphic example of this phenomena was provided in a 1979 study by French statistician Michel Gauquelin. 150 people were given a horoscope reading and asked, along with their friends, to rate it for accuracy. 94 percent said the horoscope accurately described their character, and 90 percent of their friends agreed. In fact they had all been given the same horoscope—that of notorious mass murderer Dr Petiot.

Ethics

A less common but quite serious criticism of astrology is that it discriminates unfairly. For example, it is claimed that a number of prominent business people routinely use astrology to assist their decision making, including the hiring of employees1. This would naturally upset applicants who do not believe in astrology. Such discrimination is illegal in most western countries so people who use astrological methods would be inclined to keep their methods secret, making detailed study difficult.
Resources:
1. Article by Scott Payton in Financial Management (UK), ISSN 1471-9185, 2007-12-01
2. Article by Harry Edwards in Quadrant, ISSN 0033-5002, 1999-05-01
3. http://www.rudolfhsmit.nl/hpage.htm
4. http://psychicinvestigator.com/demo/AstroSkc.htm