Fifth Friday footnotes, follow-ups and far-flung fripperies:
• I listened to President Obama’s speech Monday night and Speaker Boehner’s response and I was reminded how much of Washington D.C.’s daily chores are being run by 20-somethings — including, apparently, speechwriting.
• Passing the debt ceiling would be easier if we first could agree to a floor, below which no American should ever have to sink. We’ll have to work up to that level, because all I heard on Monday sounded like debasement.
• Every U.S. president spends several years learning how to sound presidential. It’s no different than a queen learning to wave. Obama’s over-articulated locutions sound scolding to our ears, because we cannot separate the man from the power he wields.
• Does it seem like everything around us is unraveling faster than it raveled in the first place? It’s probably nothing to worry about.
• “Don’t get me wrong” has all but eclipsed “do get me right.”
• This might be definitive proof that I have too much of it, but I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately.
• I read recently that dogs’ brains don’t need to manage memory the way humans do, because they use smell as their primary sense and scent dissipates over time, so passage of time in conveyed in perception, not conception.
• How much of our quality of life is derived simply from knowing how long things take?
• I often warn graduates to consider commuting time when relocating for their first job. Two hours of commuting every workday for 40 years adds up to just a little less than two and a half years. Of course, the same could be said for jogging.
• I have a sneaking suspicion that weight gain results from our not believing we can extend the dimension of time we experience. Why try extending our life’s length (or our depth of awareness), when extending our width is available right now and it tastes so good? (Note to self: a suspicion won’t remain “sneaking” after it’s been told to 150,000 readers. Also true for notes “to self.”)
• I can’t shake my belief that time cannot penetrate certain objects. Anything in a can, in a freezer, or especially in a can in a freezer, must last forever.
• Speaking of suspended animation, I saw “Tree of Life” twice. It’s no regular movie. It’s as if the Old Testament book of Job was brought to the big screen by the producers of Disney’s “Fantasia.”
• Don’t try to make life come out even. Life is demonstratively odd.
• I worry about the people who have their minds made up about more things than they’ve thought about.
• I became a better person when I learned to add a five-word phrase to the end of my wild-eyed assertions. Lately “but I could be wrong” has morphed into “and I could be wrong.”
• I recently realized that in 15 years of marriage, I never learned what women really want from men regarding the toilet seat. (This confusion may explain why I’ve now been single for almost as long.)
• Master bathrooms commonly have two vanity sinks, so why have I never seen a home with a urinal?
• Bill Moyers told Jon Stewart: “What people want to keep hidden is news. Everything else is publicity.” I’ve never heard it plainer.
• Euphoria Chocolate Co. owner Bob Bury asked on Facebook why the late-morning lift-off of the Space Shuttle shouldn’t have been called a “braunch.”
• To raise self-reliant children, shouldn’t we allow them to play in the streets? “Look both ways” has turned into “do not cross.”
• Remember life as a youngster when almost everything felt “way far away”? Now almost nothing does, except the last time I used that phrase.
• My friend’s 7-year-old wonders why we swat outside mosquitoes. If it’s inside, they’re trespassing — breaking the rules. But outside, reducing the pest population by one or two makes no difference. Insects aren’t deterred by the fate another receives. So hunting overabundant-but-unlearning insects must be an act of human vengeance, leveled against the world as it is. Send that 7-year-old to Washington! Never mind arguments to “pass the debt.” Pass the DEET.
Don Kahle (firstname.lastname@example.org) performed improvisational comedy in Chicago from 1979 until 1984. He published the Comic News in Eugene for ten years. Now he writes a weekly column for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com, among other things.