Help Help, I’m Being Repressed

I am a victim of persecution.  On a daily basis, I am forced to tolerate people who think differently than I do.  I am expected to ignore my deeply held beliefs and treat people equally regardless of whether or not they adhere to those beliefs.

In short, I am expected to be a decent human being, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

I demand legislation protecting my freedom to be a jerk.  I insist that my right to be an exclusionary bigot be preserved as a matter of law.  I will not stop until every single person has to bend and accommodate to how I sincerely feel, because believe me, I really do sincerely hold these beliefs, honest I do, you can trust me.

It is an unreasonable burden to expect me to accept that different people think different things, and that my beliefs are not so fragile that the very existence of contrary points of view constitutes a fundamental threat to my mental well-being.  It is a violation of my rights to claim that my belief you will go to Hell for doing a thing does not preclude you from doing that thing, or compel me to sell you anything if I suspect you do it.  I have no obligation to remove myself from this cocoon and accept that I am living in the 21st century, and if you don’t respect that, then you’re on the list too.

Come to think of it, did I even say you could read this?

This persecution will not stand.

Looking for Goldilocks

If there’s anything we Floridians prize highly, above home and family and even the very air we breathe, it’s our air conditioning.  Whether it’s central air, the AC in our cars or some box rattling away in the window, our air conditioning is practically a food group, the stuff of life itself.

Except when it’s trying to kill you like the one in my office is right now.

The saga goes back to Florida’s annual two weeks of winter a few months ago.  We all knew it was cold outside, but our AC didn’t.  It would ignore temperatures dipping into the 30s overnight and remain convinced that it was battling a heat wave of epic proportions.  Meaning we’d come in and find our building nicely chilled to Beer Section at Publix.  Which is great if you’re spending a few minutes picking out a six-pack, not so much when you’re at a desk in it for eight hours.  Our frozen cries for help were heard, fixes were planned, and for the time being, the blowers were shut down so we’d be alive to see said fixes.

Then along came spring.  When Florida often mistakes for summer and lets loose with temps in the mid-80s.  But the fixes hadn’t been finished yet, and now we were all too hot.  Like, um, Parking Lot Asphalt at Publix, if I were to really stretch things.  Our humid cries for help were heard, and the blowers were turned back on.

And boy did they miss us.  They’ve been steadily making up for lost time, our own little Polar Vortex.  We’ve time traveled back to winter, and we’re reluctant to say anything about it lest we be seen as the boy who cried, “It’s too cold!” and they just tear the roof off the place and leave us to the whims of nature until we can make up our minds what we want to complain about.

Until then, we’ll bundle up and think warm thoughts, and hope our AC system has a Baby Bear setting that is just right.  Which would be Snacks and Chips Aisle at Publix on that scale, if anyone was curious.

The Third Man

My 5K this past Saturday was the first one that actually felt like a struggle.  The entire run took place over open pavement, with no trees or shade, and at the end of day where the temperature hit the mid-80s.  And some of that pavement was fairly new blacktop, all nice and toasty and covering most of the last half of the race.  It got to me.  I skipped one of my run intervals late in the race.  But I finished at a run — with a little assist from some well-timed music on my headphones — and while it wasn’t near my best 5K time, I actually managed to finish third out of the men in my age group.

Out of the three men in my age group.

I mention that only out of amusement, not to diminish what I did.  Because yes, you can be all pessimistic and say I was technically last in my age group.  But you know who was actually last?  Everybody who sat on their asses and didn’t run at all.  I didn’t break any records, but I didn’t break either.  I didn’t quit.  When it would have been easy to just give in and walk the whole thing, I kept at my intervals as best I could.  And I finished.  The medal I got for finishing third was nice, I won’t lie, but I could have walked out of there with nothing around my neck and felt like I’d accomplished something.  Beyond nearly giving myself heat stroke.

I’ve got a 10K in about ten days, and the rough patch I had in this last race has me a little bit intimidated for it.  I’ve done the distance before — hell, I’ve walked seven or eight miles plenty of times — but not with a bunch of other people.  And the race schedule shows the run starting at 8:00 AM and the closing ceremony at 9.  Are they expecting us to be done in an hour?  I know I don’t have that in me.  But I do have four 5Ks under my belt now, and It’s early in the morning, so I know it’ll be cooler.  So I’ll buckle down and do it.  It’s a waste of $30 otherwise, aside from the shirt they’re giving us.

And as long as only two other guys aged 45 to 50 run it, I’m guaranteed to finish third again.

Bugged

Last week, it was a coughing fit.  This week, it was a gnat.

At 3 AM — and I really don’t know what it is about that time, it seems to be my witching hour — there was a high whine just outside my ear, like some little dive bomber making a run .  I swatted it away — and landed a pretty good whack on my ear in the process.  If buzzy little friend hadn’t woken me up, that sure did the trick.

And this time neither idle internet browsing or bad syndicated television or local news did the trick.  At 6 AM I gave up any pretense of getting back to sleep and just got out of bed.  Now here I am some 13 hours later, having been awake for three more than that, and I’m amazed I’ve been able to string these sentences together.

So what am I doing right now?  Watching Lawrence of Arabia.  Because that’ll make it a short night.

Stupid bug.

The Waiting

I have a 5K today.  But instead of taking place early in the morning like most of these do, it’s at 6:00 PM.  It’s a weird adjustment; usually it’s wake up, throw on the running gear and dash out the door.  But the venue is a little over a mile from me, so there’s not even that much of a rush.  It’s the laziest 5K I’ve ever done (not that I’ve done a ton of them).

So I’ve been puttering around the apartment all day.  I didn’t want to go anywhere and run the risk of not getting back on time.  Instead, I’ve been doing laundry.  Lots of laundry.  Everything I own is now clean.  Until it gets dirty again.  And every sock matched, so there’s a victory.  Plus, one of the local over-the-air stations has been running all the American-International Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptations, so watching plodding, slow-moving things all day has definitely been an inspiration.

But it still feels odd knowing I’ve got to head out of here in about half an hour to run for another half hour then come back here.  It’ll be after 7:00 by then, but given my past experiences, it’ll feel like the day is just starting.  I’m not worried about the distance; really, the only things giving me pause are my lingering cold and the 80-degree weather.  But I need to get over the weirdness; come November, I’m going to be doing a half marathon in the middle of the night, and that’s absolutely the wrong event at which to feel weird.

As for this race, I feel pretty good about it.  I haven’t been on a regular run/walk schedule lately, but I did two miles on Thursday and did a straight walk last night and didn’t feel too bad, so I should be all right.  Provided I don’t mix up my AMs and PMs, that is.  It’s a fairly flat course through the local community college, and from the bib numbers I saw, it shouldn’t be too crowded.

Then I’ll come home, wash up, and get some breakfast.  I mean dinner.  Dammit.

What I’d Watch 3/20/15

Spring has sprung, and with it springs three new releases offering God, guns and girls.  With guns.  Sorry God, no guns for you, it seems.

Although it would take more than a few good gunfights to get me interested in Do You Believe?  No, I don’t.  There goes any need for me to see this.  But these low-budget (as far as actual cost, not necessarily quality) definitely find their audience.  Or, more accurately, their audience finds them; you’ll see churches and youth groups busing people in for films like this.  Not enough to let it challenge for the top spot, but enough that films like this will keep getting made.  They’re sort of like Tyler Perry films for Christians:  they know their audience, they’re not overly concerned with appealing to anybody else, and they’re inexpensive enough that that audience can sustain them.  They just have fewer instances of men in drag is all.

I’m not sure opening The Gunman, Sean Penn’s effort to make people think he’s Liam Neeson, one week after an actual Neeson action film was a wise idea.  If people aren’t turning out for the genuine established article in Run All Night — and just south of $14 million domestic in six days says they aren’t — I can’t see Penn doing any better as the imitation.  It didn’t cost a whole lot, so it won’t be a disaster, but look at the poster.  Even Penn doesn’t want to be seen looking at this.  It’ll probably be a decent Redbox pickup in a couple of months, but not something that’ll put butts in the seats now that nature seems to be turning off the AC.

Divergent really wanted to be The Hunger Games, but it couldn’t even gross more than the first Twilight movie.  But it broke $150 million domestic, made a modest profit, and did well on video, so here comes The Divergent Series: Insurgent.  Part of me hopes this does well so we can have a third movie called Detergent where it’s just two hours of them making their clothes brighter.  But alas, the last book is called Allegiant, so if this gets that far, so much for my dreams.  If they made the second one, making the third one seems a given at this point, but Lionsgate really has to be hoping Insurgent improves on Divergent‘s box office so the trilogy doesn’t limp to a conclusion.  It’s going to be tough though; Cinderella isn’t going anywhere, and that’s likely to keep the female young adult audience tied up.

So come to think of it, I do believe.  I believe I won’t be seeing any of these this weekend.

Fear of a Smart Planet

When did it become bad to be smart?

Well, at least smart in a way that doesn’t involve being funny on CBS in prime time.  Goofy socially awkward smart people are fine.  Smart people who make our phones and tablets are okay too.  But smart people who are near unanimous in saying we’re doing some screwed up things to the environment?  Nah, they must be in it for all that fat climate change money.

So instead, we get Congressmen who try to use snowballs in the Senate to prove that the planet can’t be getting warmer, or who say human actions can’t possibly affect the environment because that’s God’s department.  People supposedly smart enough to maintain a lawmaking career are espousing Dark Age superstition in an era when we can whip up replacement limbs on a home printer and when we carry around more computing power in our pockets than what sent Apollo to the moon.  The further into the future we get, the more these people want to run scurrying into the comfortable, ignorant past.  Because they don’t see a place for themselves anywhere else.

You know, it’s not really intelligence they fear, it’s imagination.  It’s the ability for anyone to think outside the strictures of That Which They Have Been Told.  If it didn’t come from whatever translation of the Bible they happened to have had beaten into them as a child, it’s irrelevant.  And if it’s irrelevant enough for them, by God, it should be irrelevant enough for you too.  Their minds can’t — or won’t — comprehend any process more complicated than, “Some invisible man made it happen.”  They settle, when there’s so much more out there to be learned, to be discovered.  They’re happy to bow down among the hills when there are mountains just over the horizon.

To Ted Cruz and his friends, and their closed minds and their superstitions and their snowballs, I’ll say this:  if you believe this god of yours gave you a brain, I imagine he might be somewhat insulted by your constant refusal to use it.

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