On Star Trek, And Tricorder Repairmen

We are at a crossroads in America. We no longer have a middle class. It’s disappeared. Poof, gone. You can work in the retail or service sector for low wages, or you can try and get an advanced degree and work in the tech world. There’s almost nothing in between. We cannot compete with the global economy when it comes to manufacturing. Period, game over, it isn’t coming back.

Of course there will be niches here and there we succeed at and offshoring isn’t quite as cheap as it once was. At the end of the day though, you cannot compete against a country whos workers are paid pennies on the dollar compared to the U.S. The sooner we come to grips with that the better off we’ll be.

I was listening to Department of Commerce Secretary Pritzker on a morning show today and she made an astounding comment. When asked what U.S. sectors are doing well right now her answer was “construction, housing, and consumer retail”. That’s it. That’s our economy in a nutshell. Sectors that are based upon low skilled labor and are volatile and bubble-prone. That oughta scare the holly bejeezus out of you. I don’t know about you, but I’m not all that comfortable banking our economic underpinnings on the hope that Americans will continue to embrace the iPhone 9s with a screen size .02 cm larger or the resurgence of the hover board craze (guaranteed fire resistant!). It’s ok though, ’cause you’re going to need a bigger home to store all that stuff – and boy, do we have some exciting new mortgage options for you!

So what will be the economic engine for the middle class in the future? I’m certainly not smart enough to figure that out or I’d already be investing in it. It clearly won’t be the manufacturing of “things”. It has to be a commodity that can’t be easily shipped from overseas. Something that takes development of an actual skill or expertise, yet doesn’t necessarily require years of schooling and advanced degrees. A job that is valued and recession-proof enough that the average Joe/Jane can support a family and, with some prudent saving, can afford to go drink fruity adult beverages with tiny umbrellas on a beach occasionally.

While I don’t know what that sector will be, if I had kids or if you’re just starting out in the job world, I’d make damn sure I was comfortable with data, information management, and device connectivity. Learn how to create a website beyond just using a canned template. Can you connect a device to a network and troubleshoot problems? Can you write simple scripts to connect various programs and do something with their output? Can you take data from a program and do something with it to present it in a compelling way? None of these things take years of advanced math or electrical engineering to understand. These are skills anyone who applies themselves can master.

What is clear about the future is that we will be driven by data. Billions of cheaply manufactured devices will all be connected to various networks and attempting to communicate with each other. Yes, eventually your refrigerator will be not only ordering your weekly groceries, but will be preparing nutritional summaries for your health care provider. My report will be exclusively cheese, beer, and hummus. Beef and pork will be too damn expensive for anyone but the evil one percenters.
medical_tricorder
I’ve  gone the route of helping sick people. There will always be sick people, right? Meanwhile I’ll probably be replaced by an $11 an hour, 17 year old medical assistant wielding a Star Trek medical tricorder. I should have been training to be a tricorder repairman. Or an Obamacare v.12 website administrator.

 

 

On Adventure. Or Lack Thereof.

I am a fraud. To use the vernacular of my 80’s upbringing – I’m a total poser, dude. I’m an armchair adventurer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fully in the Walter Mitty category. I do occasionally go outside and do stuff. But it’s happening less and less often. What’s more telling is that I’m starting to feel more apprehension about activities than I ever did before. My fear of getting hurt, or failing, and the unknown are starting to creep into my head far too frequently lately.

What I’m discovering about myself is that I really, really, like the idea of being adventurous. It’s the doing part that I don’t follow up with. The other day over dinner with some friends we talked about all the things we’d like to do this summer. I was happy to jabber on about road trips, backcountry motorcycle expeditions, climbing and mountaineering, and spur of the moment mountain bike rides. After the drinks wear off, I know that the possibility of my actually doing any of those things isn’t super high.

I’m not sure why that is. Some of it is just laziness. A rolling stone and moss and whatnot. I’ve been gathering a fair amount of moss these days. A lot of it is just caution. I’ve noticed that at the climbing gym, once I’m five or six feet in the air I’m very reluctant to try a move because of a fear of falling. It’s not like I’m going to get hurt. I’d be falling on a soft crash pad. Worse case I get the wind knocked out of me. So why am I so afraid? It must be a facet of getting old.

What gets into my head is that I really want to do these adventures. I can easily spend all day reading about adventure trips and free spirited folks who just do things. Americans have always been enamored with the antihero. The folks who just get stuff done and go out and make adventures happen. Shane McConkey, Jimmy Chin, Cheryl Strayed, Alastair Humphreys, Hank Patterson. These folks decide to do something and just go make it happen. Granted it didn’t always turn out so well for all of them, but they did what they wanted to do. I fear I’m turning into that kid in the commercial who calls his grandma on the phone in the next room for another grape soda.

I’ll spend two hours on the ADV forum following some guy’s two week motorcycle trip across the backcountry dirt roads of Idaho and tell myself, dammit I’m doing that. But that would mean getting the motorcycle running again and buying some more gear. And it’s kinda cold out right now. And I’m directionally challenged so what if I got really lost, or what if the bike stopped running and I got stuck? Besides there’s a couple of episodes of Walking Dead I haven’t caught up on and there’s some yardwork that needs doing. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll think about it again.

I think I’m one of those people who always needs a guide. Someone who takes me by the hand and says we’re going to go do this, and here’s what you need, and here’s how it’s going to work. Once I do it I’m golden. I’ve skied for years at my local mountain without exploring some areas that I knew were there, but didn’t know if they were above my ability or if I’d get lost. This season I finally put on my big boy pants and followed a friend to these places. Now that I’ve seen them and they’re not the unknown I’m happily exploring every off-piste area I can find. Why was I so worried about exploring them before?

Is there a moral to this rambling? Doubtful. I think it’s mostly an internal pep-talk to convince myself to go do stuff and that I don’t always need a “guide”. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll end up with a good story to tell. Then again there’s a bag of chips in the cupboard and 24 hours of political coverage to watch. And I hear there’s a threat of rain today. Time to catch up on my Instagram feed of adventurers and amazing photos.

Ben Franklin Quotes

I’ve been terribly conflicted about Apple’s stance against the FBI order to unlock a phone. Initially I supported them. Government overreach, George Orwell, the $500 million Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), Snowden, and whatnot. However, the more I thought about it the more I think Apple is in the wrong this time.

What changed my mind is a safety deposit box. According to both political parties, if the other party wins life as we know it is over. Armageddon, dogs and cats sleeping together, America is lost. My first thought was that it’s time to bury my gold bars, toilet paper, and zombie apocalypse supplies in the backyard. Unfortunately I live in a designated historic district so that would take approximately 16 months for environmental permits and preservation committee approval. That’s when I realized a safety deposit box was just the ticket!

Every good spy has a safety deposit box stocked with the essential bug-out supplies. So I started reading up on the rules. Turns out, the government does have the right to open up your box. If you’ve committed a crime, or the box is suspected to contain material related to a crime they can obtain a warrant and seize the contents. Isn’t that exactly what has happened with this iPhone? A government agency owns a phone that was suspected to be connected to criminal activity. The FBI obtained an order for that device to be opened. Seems lawful to me. I think Apple is wrong in this instance.

I still agree with the principle of Apple’s argument. If Apple wants to open the phone and hand it back to the FBI, fine. However, the FBI should not be given a set of keys to everyone’s safety deposit box just in case they might need it someday. The government does overreach. Once you cede privacy and rights to them there’s no going back.

I’m not a Cliven Bundy conspiracy nutjob. I don’t think the government has a grand, evil plan to turn us into North Korea. A large percentage of government workers aren’t smart enough to find their way out of a wet paper bag, let alone hatch a vast KGB-like network without spilling the details to Whoopi Goldberg on the View.

However, technology is making data collection and eavesdropping easier than anyone could have imagined. Look at the Stingray and Dirtbox. Even local police are now intercepting cellular conversations. The amount of surveillance being done around Anaheim and Disneyland is disconcerting. Come on now – Mickey friggin Mouse? Wait, a giant mouse that walks around only in odd shorts is kinda weird. What’s the remouseal story behind his name change? Someone needs to keep an eye on that dude.

As Homer Simpson famously said, “A man who would give up a donut today for the promise of weight loss tomorrow, deserves neither the donut or beer.” It was something like that. It could have been Ben Franklin. But his often misquoted statement was related to his appointment by a family who resisted paying taxes to raise a defense against Indian attacks. But that’s a story for another day. I need to start digging that hole in the backyard.

 

 

It Just Ain’t That Simple

I’m horribly conflicted. The dog pants debate has me questioning the very core of my beliefs. No, wait that wasn’t it. It was the possibility that Jar Jar Binks may secretly be a Sith Lord. No, never mind – that’s a level of geekdom too frightening to contemplate. What has me questioning what I think are refugees. I’ll be spending the next few months doing some public health work with our local Somalian refugee population… and that has me wrestling with my thoughts.

The problem is that if you step away from the simplistic political statements, there are valid arguments on all sides of the refugee issue. At the very core is the humanitarian aspect. I wouldn’t be in health care if I didn’t want to help people. There’s such flux right now it’s hard to get an accurate figure, but the world refugee population is well north of 60 million people. That’s a whole bunch ‘o folks displaced simply because they had the unfortunate luck to be born in the wrong place.

When you hear of the conditions, the terror, hunger, and abject poverty these folks endure, as a compassionate human being you want to help. What we consider poverty in the US would be a massive step up for many of these people. Looking at much of the world it’s mind boggling how fortunate we are in the US. Of course I want every kid to have an iPhone 10, selfie stick, and iFetch so you don’t have to actually interact with your dog. Oh, and a pony. We all know immigrants don’t have ponies.

On the other side, this country is almost $19 trillion dollars in debt. The US already gives $50 billion a year in foreign aid and another $70+ billion in private aid each year. By far the United States is the most generous country on the planet. Meanwhile our schools and local infrastructure are suffering. The healthcare system has no capacity for preventative care. Most cities have extremely limited mental heath services, forcing the police to deal with it and incarceration as the only solution. Most schools simply don’t have the budget to keep up with the technological demands of the future. We’ve completely lost the median income, manufacturing base of jobs we once had. If you don’t have the education and skills to compete for a high income job, it’s minimum wage for you. There’s simply very little in-between anymore and the wage gap is a very real thing.

We’re bringing  in roughly 100,000 refugees a year. There are somewhere between 11 and 20 million illegal immigrants in the country (through some magic voodoo, the fed reported number has been 11 million for the last 10 years). The vast majority of these folks, through no fault of their own, have very limited education and job skills. No doubt a better deal than they had previously for sure, just not such a good deal for the rest of us taxpayers. The 2013 estimate for 5 year household costs for a middle eastern refugee is $257,000 (resettlement payments, welfare, food programs, Medicaid, public housing, etc…). Multiply that out and it’s a number with a truckload of zeros.

Ah, but they’ll become good tax paying, productive members of society you say. Uh, nope. The average wage after five years is about $10 an hour. That means they’re not paying state or federal income taxes. Not only that, they’ll be receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit and probably the Additional Child Tax Credit. They will be the biggest consumers of your local support infrastructure, the highest percentage of police/fire calls for service, and will use the local emergency room as their primary care physician. Bottom line, a net fiscal drain on the economy. None of this is their choice – they simply never started out with the advantages those of us who won the ovarian lottery did.

But, but… we’re a nation of immigrants. Give us your huddled masses and whatnot. That whole statue of liberty thing had nothing to do with immigration. It was intended to memorialize our independence. That quote came later and was from a poem written for a fundraiser (yes, really). Regardless, we’re no longer a nation with a vast, untamed west to exploit – requiring no skills other than a good work ethic and a can-do attitude. Things are a tad more complex now and this nation is arguably on the brink of losing serious economic ground in the global economy. Why would we want to continually take in massive numbers of folks who have a very limited ability to help us move forward?

I can convince myself of anything. I’m not sure what I think at this point. I like diversity. I lived the bulk of my life in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. I truly enjoy helping people. Had I won the Powerball, I probably would have adopted every dog I see in those ASPCA commercials. At the same time I’m also tired of taxes and continually being asked to pay more just to maintain an infrastructure that’s barely supporting the folks here today. I don’t like being labeled as some sort of racist if I’m concerned about security and/or don’t fawn over the idea of open borders.

It is an unfortunate truth that we simply cannot solve the worlds woes and help everyone. That sucks and I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make the decision about where we draw the lines. I wish our political discourse didn’t have to be so black and white… because the issues just aren’t that simple. It makes my head hurt. I think I’ll just focus on what’s in front of me and helping some needy folks in the community.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go get me some ethnically diverse food. Taco Bell is authentic south of the border chow, right?

 

A Plea For Trump. And Airports.

We need a president Trump. Wait, wait, wait… hear me out. Recently I went back and read some of the stuff I’d previously written about politics. My god I’m brilliant. Not clear why I haven’t won a Pulitzer yet. Anyway, one of the posts was about last elections debates. I realized that A) nothing changes, and B) I just don’t care anymore about anything these politicians say or the phony outrage they stir up. funny

Firstly, you need to come to grips with the fact that everything your favorite politician says is not real. Fake. Fugazi, fugazi. It’s a wazy. A woozie. It’s fairy dust. (h/t to Mark Hanna)  A politician doesn’t utter a word that isn’t practiced, focused tested, written by speech writers, and paid for by someone. If you think any emotion, anything said or done by a politician resembles anything close to reality, then you’re a tool. Don’t be a tool! (damn, I really need to get those T-Shirts printed up)  Politics is a stage designed by PT Barnum to separate suckers from their money, freedoms, and rights. (holy crap, that was cynical. better check my meds)

Every single politician promises the same thing every election – better wages, more jobs, cut waste, free iPhones, bla, bla, bla. They’re promising stuff they have no possibility of delivering on and stirring the same recycled fears from last election. And folks on [thefacebook] keep getting whipped into a frenzy of meme posting, frantic likes, double-likes, double-secret likes, and defriending relatives who don’t share their views. People: it was the same last election, and the election before that… it isn’t going to change just because your favorite meat puppet got elected!

Enter Mr. Trump. The man is a Vegas show clown. A very, very smart clown, but a clown nevertheless. And Vegas is exactly what politics is to the majority of American voters. It’s bright and shiny. The allure of getting something for near nothing. Excess. Convincing us we need to spend the kids college fund on $5 slots and waiting in a 45 minute line for a $39 all you can eat buffet.

Trump understands Vegas. He’s the master showman. And he’s skillfully played the media for fools. “Wait, he said something about temporarily banning someone? And illegals? He must be a racist xenophobe… let’s give him free 24 hour news coverage. Oh, and complain about all the coverage he’s getting.”  Folks, the one dude who’s a gazillionaire has had to spend virtually nothing yet on his campaign. That’s some ironic, super genius level shit going on right there.

Politics and the media have become a manufactured cartoon that is quickly losing any grip on reality. Have you actually watched non-US news? Shocking, but there’s stuff going on in the world besides the Kardashians. It won’t be long before Anderson Cooper teams up with Kathy Griffin as a hard hitting, prime time, news dynamo. Who better to preside over this circus than Trump? It’s comedy gold Jerry, gold!

Besides, what other choices do we have? An elderly avowed socialist, a bunch of religious nutjobs, a scandal plagued serial liar, or a guy who’s a soft-talker with a really cool velvet painting of him and Jesus (with a very well manicured beard).

I personally don’t think we could go wrong. We’d have great late night comedy, an awesome Trump wall on our border, and all new gold fixtures in the White House. Best of all the media would shit kittens as they tried to figure out how he got elected, while simultaneously creating 24-7 Trump news channels dedicated to discussing the pros and cons of the architectural complexities of the Donald’s comb-over.

I’m voting Trump. It’ll drive people insane. John Oliver will become the rightful heir to The Daily Show. We’ll be making deals with everyone. Great deals. Frankly, the best deals. And our airports will become the envy of the world. That is, if I remember to vote. There might be a monster truck rally on the TV.

 

Sworn to Secrecy. And Nachos

My three faithful followers may have noticed that I’ve been radio silent for a while now. Much has happened and I have many stories to share… only I can’t. I am now ruled by the dark overlord known as HIPAA. This overlord commands the manor known as “Ye olde Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act”. You may be wondering when did the troutdog become an insurance salesman? Or, you may be thinking about cleaning the grout in your shower.

Some time ago I began working at a metropolitan hospital, St. Bacon of Barbecueous. This change of employment is related to a midlife crisis and one late night of too much tequila and poorly cooked fish tacos. Oh, and being accepted into a nursing program. My lawn guy, who’s also an acupuncturist on the side, convinced me that the key to being a good nurse is to, you know, actually work in the healthcare field. Not wanting to dispute such wisdom (the man’s practically a doctor), I went out and got me one of them healthcare jobs.

I have no idea what HIPAA has to do with insurance. What I do know is that I’ve now signed more documents than my last home mortgage – all listing in no uncertain terms that I will be fired, prosecuted, removed from the nursing program, and publicly shamed on Facebook, G+, and Myspace if I ever reveal a single detail of anything I see or hear on my hospital floor. Having no desire to subject anyone to a version of Queen Cersei’s walk of shame, the dude will abide and remain (mostly) mute about what I see. Unless you buy me a beer. Or nachos. I’ll become verbally incontinent for a good plate of nachos.

All this change has made life… complicated. I work nights. I go to school. This means that I pretty much don’t do anything other than work, sleep, study, and eat multiple breakfasts. Coming home from my shift it’s morning, so I eat breakfast. Even though it’s four in the afternoon, what do you eat when you wake up? Breakfast of course. And naturally, what does the hospital cafeteria feature at 2am? Hint, it’s not nachos.

Although I signed an oath (press hard, it’s triplicate) it’s been killing me not to share. There’s too much good stuff that happens on a nightly basis – well, assuming you’re entertained by bodily fluids in frighteningly large amounts and a level of poor personal choices and crazy that I thought only existed in politicians (and Hollywood, but those folks are simply eccentric artists). As Art Mann says, this is TV gold.

We cannot let this dark overlord kill independent troutdog. We will find a way to share. We will dance like a graceful lawyer, pirouetting through the minefields of non-disclosure documents. The troutdog shall not be repressed!

Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The troutdog is  a mythical creature. Comparisons of a popular religions practices of conferring sainthood to a hospital named after pork products was for illustrative and satire purposes only and not intended to offend or incite jihad.

Mediocrity And Whatnot

If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s being average. I’m not trying to be self-effacing. It’s true. I “do” a lot of stuff casually but I’m not really good at any one thing. Except eating maybe. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who can consume bacon like I can. Pork products aside, I just don’t have the drive to master something and that pisses me off. Of course not enough to actually, you know, practice or anything.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve proven that I can be focused and motivated in brief spurts. Recent highlights include:

  • The group weight loss challenge of ’14. Dropped to near high school weight and won the contest. Kept he weight off for approximately 2 days. I’m currently back in the comfortable sweat pants category.
  • There was a brief burst of photography promise. Won critical acclaim from tens of people. Now I only take blurry pictures of the dog with a cell phone.
  • This one time, I wrote a blog post about dogs and cats. Several people laughed. The zenith of my writing career.
  • This one time, I cooked up a really good batch o’ barbecue ribs. That was it. I really like ribs.

Why do I share this you ask? Because all these motivated people on the damn twitter and facebooks are really pissing me off. It’s a non-stop barrage of new year motivational challenges, positive attitudes, and ridiculous encouragement. I’m talking to you Rock with your 3:45am wake up and be the hardest worker in the room attitude. Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of it. I just don’t like the “doing” part of it.

This onslaught of be all you can be enthusiasm does work. I’ll verbally tell everyone that I’m re-embracingrule number 5 (NSFW) then go off and eat large amounts of cheese. Gym equipment, paleo instruction books, and an embarrassingly large REI dividend check all prove that I’m really good at starting something. It’s the follow through part that lacks.

My point? I don’t remember. Probably due to my ADD, lactose and gluten intolerance. I think I was trying to make a new year resolution without actually, you know, committing to anything. I resolve to keep my resolution from last year (or was it the year before?). To be motivated and get good at least one thing. I’m not sure what that is yet. My ’15 goal is to hear from someone who heard it from their non-gender-role-stereotyped cleaning persons cousin – “that troutdog dude… he’s a damn good <insert verby-noun that is at least more interesting than sudoku puzzle solver>”

Meanwhile I’m going to go organize my camera and sporting equipment. Maybe I’ll be inspired to use some of it. Or not. I think there’s a Walking Dead marathon on TV.

This One Time, At Band Camp…

I like to go on walks. And runs. I’ve been told I have a lot of energy, but seriously what’s the point of getting up in the morning if you’re not going to go at mach 7 all the time? Let’s just say that I like to go… wait, was that a bird? It’s a bird, did you see the bird?? Sorry, what was I saying? Oh yeah, walks.

I have some pretty good humans that take me someplace every day. At least I think it’s every day. They don’t let me wear a watch so time gets a little fuzzy. Was that a squirrel? Sorry, I’m getting ahead. It happens. I’ll start by introducing myself. Don’t be intimidated, but I believe I’m some sort of God. I must be as I have humans that attend to my every wish. Like most deities I have many names, but I usually respond to Bodie.  A.K.A The Bodie Zafa – The Enlightened One. I’m also known as Red, Big Red, The Bodster, Monkey Boy, Dammitbodie, Cutie, Sweetie, Bubba, Bodiedog, and Goodboybodie. I’ve heard there’s some human who skis with the same name, but that’s not me.

Anyway, walks. We do something different all the time. Walks in the neighborhood, in the park, running in the hills. I’m attending a school lately where I’m learning to go through tunnels and climb over things. Pretty fun, but there’s a lot of rules. Gods such as myself shouldn’t have to follow rules in my opinion. My favorite thing to do is go up in the mountains where they let me run wherever I want and chase all kinds of things. I love that. Personally I think we should do that all day, every day, but my humans seem to have some sort of schedule they’re forced to follow. I feel bad for them.

So anyway, this one time we’re going for a walk. We get in the truck – which is a good sign as we’re probably going to the hills someplace. But we’re driving and driving and we’re not in the hills. We stop at this building. I’ve been there before. It’s ok. They poke and prod me a little bit, but everyone seems to like me and I get treats. It’s cool. But this time, my humans leave me. What the hell? So… wait, did you hear that? Did you hear it? Did you hear it?

Where was I? Oh yeah, my balls. Did I mention that I’m really proud of my balls? They’re pretty big for my age and I really like the way they swing when I run. I spend a fair amount of time attending to them. You laugh, but a God like myself needs to spend some quality maintenance time with balls like that. Can’t go outside and have them all frumpy.

So I’m at this place and I suddenly needed to take a nap. It happens. When I woke I thought maybe it was just a bad dream… but no, something was seriously wrong. I felt really loopy and there was a giant piece of plastic around my head. And down there – something was not right. It hurt. It itched. And something seemed… missing.

The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.
The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.

It took days before I felt better. My humans were clearly concerned and I got lots of treats and time on the couch. The worst part is this nagging feeling that something is… different. From time to time I look down at these two bags of skin and feel like something used to be there, but I just can’t place what it was. On the plus side, it does seem to take less time and maintenance to get ready in the morning.

The moral of the story? Wait, was that a bug? I swear a bug flew into that bush. Anyway, you need to stay on top of your game. Keep your head on a swivel. Follow the rules. Love your humans. Enjoy life. Because at any moment… you might go for a walk and wake up missing parts.

Puppy Diaries

Day One

9:48 pm
The puppy has arrived! Oh my god, he’s so cute! Look at his big ‘ole paws as he bounds down the hallway. We’re instantly in love with this little creature.

2:20 am
I was sure he’d have slept a little by now. Oh well, he’s still so cute.

Day Two

11:15 am
Wow, this little guy has crazy amounts of energy.

1:45 pm
Seriously? I take him out and he does his business. Less than two minutes later he poops on the most expensive rug in the house.

3:45 am
Doesn’t this thing ever sleep? No, I don’t want to play fetch.

Day Three

2:00 pm
There are approximately 732 dog toys strewn about the house. 700 of them have squeakers in them. What insane person thought that putting a squeaker in a dog toy was a good idea? Is that some sort of cruel joke?

10:20 pm
Grandmothers hand-crafted statin pillow, handed down from generation to generation is now the favorite chew toy. I’m sure she’d understand.

Day Five

Time unknown – daytime I think
Only slept a few hours in the last week. We’ve run out of Band-aids. The little bastard has razor blades for teeth. Wearing knee-high plastic wading boots to protect the last remaining pair of pant cuffs.

Afternoon
The $300 iComfort dog pillow is a shredded pile of memory foam. We’re out of dog treats and afraid to leave the house for re-supply. Currently feeding the puppy the last of the saltine crackers.

Nighttime
Trying to sleep on the couch. Puppy wanted the bed. For the love of god, make the howling stop.

Day Seven

Puppy became self-aware at 3:28 in the afternoon. This may be my last diary entry. I’m hiding in the closet. Puppy does not like subversive activities. We’re sleeping the garage, visiting the house only to attend to puppies fickle wants and needs.

Shush! I think it heard me. I hear paws on the hardwood. And the squeaker…

On Art. And Bacon.

Once I came to grips with the fact that I wasn’t going to win American Idol this year, I had to find something else to do with my time.  Lately its been taking pictures.  Or, ‘capturing photographs’ if I want to sound all fancy.  There is an odd side of me that needs to be creative.  It’s a strange feeling since I have almost no artistic ability (except that diorama I made in 3rd grade – 1st place!) and very little knowledge of art.  As the saying goes, “I can’t tell you what art is but I know it when I see it”.  Or was that pornography? I get them confused.

Posting the pictures I take makes me feel somewhat awkward.  On one hand, what’s the point of taking them if nobody ever sees them?  Am I turning into a Kardashian-like creature desperate for attention and trolling for compliments?  On the other hand there are 2.3 billion (approximately) other people out there doing the exact same thing.  And a fair percentage of them are actually creating stuff that’s damn good.  Heck, take a mediocre snapshot with your cellphone, slap an instagram filter on it and you’ll get a bunch of people on Facebook all liking it and commenting “wow, great shot!”.

So why bother publishing pictures to the various social medias du jour?  I’m never going to be an “artist” (I don’t even own Birkenstocks and I’m not a fruitarian).  I’m never going to be a professional photographer.  Other than baby and wedding photos, I’m not even sure it’s an actual occupation anymore.

From a technical perspective I’m at about a 5th grade level in the photography world.  I have visions of real photographers looking at my stuff and saying (always in a heavy French accent) “how cute,  someone found a copy of Photoshop”.

So why do it?  Because I can’t paint.  I can’t draw.  I can’t sing.  I can’t carve wooden bear statues or ice swans with a chainsaw.  Sometimes I see an image in my head and taking a picture is the only hope I have of getting it out.  Most of the time they don’t match what I was thinking.  But every once in a while… it feels like you get one right.  And if just one person out there sees it and thinks to themselves “hmm, that’s sorta cool” then I suppose it was worth it to share that brief image I had floating around in my skull.

The problem I have, as a non-artist with limited brain cycles devoted to creativity, is that the majority of the images in my head are about bacon (don’t worry, I’m in a twelve-step program for my addiction).  And bacon, while a delicious super food, doesn’t photograph well.

http://troutdogphoto.wordpress.com/