Saturday, January 27, 2007

Devoted reader

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, was speaking to the Association of Republican Governors. I’m not sure of the context of the remark, but I do remember him saying that the average number of readers of a blog is one – the person who writes it.
Nevertheless, we think of the blog as the window to whatever it is within us that we consider worth sharing with the world. Nnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Rrrrrrrrrrrr. Spppt.
My (MY!) spell checker has underlined those three things.
Some of the things that we put in our journals are not intended to be shared. For one thing, some of the entries are crude or childish or otherwise not publish-worthy.
There is still one entry that I’ve wanted to put on the blog. An edited version will surely suffer from a lack of context, but it still is a capsule – for me – of one lots-of-coffee morning sitting here at the kitchen counter. I am telling me – my devoted reader – who I am. It was July 25, 2004. I had been writing about an idea for a story, thinking that I’d send it to Josh for an opinion. Not sure if I did or not. Here is how it ended up:

This is a great day. Very relaxing. I find that I can’t do a damn thing about time slipping along under my feet here, or under my butt – here on the stool. I’ve spent a little time (a lot?) looking at and working on the “Lunchbox” here. What do I think? I think I’m an artist by temperament and training, and go fuck yourself. I make my living as a builder, but today I made Peach pancakes for my wife and myself. I made a lot of coffee and drank it. I made two cups of it for my wife, too. So, there! I made that damn barn out there. Go fuck yourself.
Quit Word.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Along the road.

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Yesterday as I was driving along Route 55 in south Jersey, I heard some numbers mentioned in a radio broadcast.
As I listened, I did some math.
If the 21,500 soldiers that George Bush is planning to send to Iraq were lined up alongside a highway they would make a line 12.21 miles long. At typical highway speed it would take a little over ten minutes to drive past them all. About as much time as it takes to hear Bob Dylan’s “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” or “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” by Traffic, just to give two examples from the Itunes library here on my laptop. Or Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major or the Violin Concerto No. 5, also in A Major.
They’d be there, the soldiers, as you sped by. You might think, "Wow, that's a lot of guys". Even if they weren’t dressed in uniforms you’d have a pretty good clue as to what they were.

If the 3,250 soldiers who have died in that conflict were lined up alongside a highway they’d make a line a little over 4.3 miles long. Some of you might point out an apparent mistake in the math that I’ve done. I’ll explain: I have given the soldiers yet-to-go 3 feet of space to stand in. The soldiers who have been killed are given 7 feet of space. I think we would all agree that the dead soldiers should not be made to stand.

I may not be a reliable narrator. I was able, through incredibly good luck, to avoid serving in the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War, the war of my youth. I was in college – an incredibly lucky thing in itself, regardless of the political situation – and I also had a high number in the lottery that was being used as a means of selecting young men to fight the war. Most of the guys I knew back then were worried about being called up. We'd talk about it around the kitchen table at my mother's house. Vietnam didn’t look like a good place to be. I was very lucky. I guess George W. Bush was lucky, too.
At times I feel what I have to guess is survivor’s guilt. I get very emotional when I see the pictures of the young and not-so-young men and women who have been killed in Iraq.
Having not served, I sit here in the comfort of my warm kitchen and type this meditation on what 21,500 and 3,250 mean.
12.21 miles, 4.3 miles. Along the road.