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Archive for the ‘Stogies’ Category

I Preminisce no Return of the Salad Days

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

I Know How Don Quixote’s Windmills Felt

In the past, I wondered how it was possible for the Nazis to brainwash the Austrians and Germans and convince them of things that were untrue and even absurd. Now I’m seeing the same thing happening here in America. Leftists are in a state of delusional euphoria over Robert Mueller’s “proof” that Donald Trump colluded illegally with the Russian government in order to get elected. There is no evidence of that, whatsoever, but leftists are all over the web saying idiotic things like “smoking gun” and “treason.”

Paul Manafort has been indicted for activities that had nothing to do with the presidential election. Apparently he violated some relatively obscure laws regarding registering as a foreign agent, and he may be guilty of some sort of highly technical tax violations which may have been inadvertent. According to Alan Dershowitz, who is only a former Harvard law professor, the general policy of the United States government is to refrain from investigating and prosecuting such offenses, if they are offenses, but Mueller is exercising his discretion to single Manafort out in order to pressure him and other Trump associates to sing.

Look at it this way. I have bought a lot of Cuban cigars. That’s illegal. No one has ever bothered me about it. No one ever will. When the government finds out a box of Cuban cigars is on its way to your house, they confiscate it and send you a letter, and that’s it. They don’t subpoena American Express to find out if you ordered them. They don’t sift through your emails in order to find evidence that you knew you were buying illegal cigars. There is no indictment. There is no fine. They don’t care. It’s trivial, and the embargo was an embarrassing joke to them. But what if Robert Mueller had been after someone I practiced law with? If he had found out about the cigars, and the statute of limitations hadn’t run, he would have done his best to indict me. It’s the closest thing to torture a prosecutor can do, so he would have done it.

It wouldn’t mean I was a bad person or that my associate was guilty of anything.

The government doesn’t care about the things Manafort did, and he probably won’t be convicted of anything, but by ruining his life and forcing him to bankrupt himself paying lawyers, Mueller may be able to coerce him into incriminating other people. Mueller may get some scared people to tell the truth or even to tell useful lies which would enable him to issue subpoenas and go fishing in ponds that would otherwise be off limits to him.

When I was in law school, they taught me that a prosecutor has a responsibility to a defendant. He is obligated to protect the defendant’s rights and make sure the defendant is not treated unfairly. I don’t know if Mueller cares about that. Ginning up Rube Goldberg charges to destroy the reputations and livelihoods of law-abiding people doesn’t seem consistent with a desire to protect the rights of the innocent.

Anyway, Manafort’s “crimes” are unrelated to the election, but liberals don’t care. I saw one genius on the Internet claim that Manafort had been charged with “conspiracy against the United States” because he was working with the Russians to get Trump elected. No, bright boy. No. “Conspiracy against the United States” relates to the obscure “violations” involving his taxes and foreign agent status. It has no connection to the election.

As for Papadapoulos, whom I never heard of until this week, he is charged with lying to the FBI. This is something prosecutors love. You find an innocent person, you scare the crap out of him, you ask him questions, and while he’s under pressure, he tells a self-serving lie he thinks you can’t disprove. Then you disprove it. Now it doesn’t matter that he was innocent before you went after him. Now he is truly a criminal. That’s how they got Scooter Libby. It comes close to entrapment. It turns people who would otherwise have gone their entire lives without being charged with anything into bona fide lawbreakers who can be destroyed by criminal courts.

The pundits say Papadapoulos is guilty. Maybe he is, but lying to the FBI is not illegal collusion with the Russians. Liberals don’t care. It proves Trump must be impeached!

Papadapoulos hasn’t committed any other crimes. Had he done so, you can be sure he would have been charged.

It’s scary how little leftists care about the truth. One day we will not have a conservative president and congress, along with a conservative-dominated Supreme Court. When that day comes, the garbage we’re hearing from people of limited power will be coming from people who run the country. It’s like the line from Schindler’s List: “That’s not just good old-fashioned Jew-hating talk. It’s policy now.”

When the Nazis ran Germany and Austria, idiots and losers who had been marginalized before Hitler suddenly had nice uniforms and unlimited power. You had to take them seriously. You had to bow and scrape. If they felt like carting your kids away for medical experiments, you had to stand by and watch. We may laugh at our idiots and losers now, but in a few years, they’ll be riding around in black limos and SUV’s, and Americans will be terrified of them.

In a hostile interview with non-lawyer George Stephanopoulos, Jay Sekulow had to point out something obvious: there is no crime called “collusion.” If it turned out Trump ate blintzes with Putin every morning, and they plotted Hillary’s downfall, it would not be a criminal offense. It wouldn’t even ground impeachment. Liberals don’t care. Treason! Impeachment! Execution!

Think what our lives would be like right now if these nuts ran things. Man. And that’s our future! If I weren’t a Christian, I’d advise people to buy cyanide capsules.

I don’t recall other special prosecutors acting this way. Did they? I can’t say I’m an authority. I don’t recall Ken Starr or Archibald Cox charging people with obscure demi-crimes in order to torture them into playing ball. Maybe they did, but I can’t help thinking I would remember it.

Some pundit–maybe it was Dershowitz–claims that special prosecutors go after lame indictments like these in order to justify their appointments and their budgets. That would not surprise me. Egotists are capable of anything. How many prosecutors are humble and honest enough to say, “We spent a few million dollars, and I didn’t find any problems”? People in law enforcement tend to measure their success in terms of arrests and prosecutions, which is stupid, because proving a suspect is innocent is much more important than proving one is guilty. That’s not just my opinion. That’s a fundamental principal on which our criminal justice system is based. Convicting the guilty is not as important as refraining from tormenting the innocent.

It may be that Dershowitz is wrong about the nature of Manafort’s offenses. It may be that a renowned Harvard law professor made no effort whatsoever to research the law before giving an opinion, and maybe he doesn’t care if law students and hack lawyers all over the US make him look like a fool this week. My guess is that this is not the case. I think he did his homework.

Trump will not be impeached. Liberals need to quit whipping that horse. The only way he will be impeached is if he, like Papadapoulos, does something stupid in response to being investigated over nothing.

Compared to what’s coming, these are the salad days. Enjoy them if you can.

Weird but not Wired

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Unleaded Starts my Day

I think I’m falling in love with decaffeinated coffee. I can get up and drink as much as I want while I start my morning routine, and nothing happens.

A while back, I started feeling I should give up caffeine abuse. I’m attention deficient, and I quit taking drugs about 14 years ago, and when I got to law school, caffeine helped me overcome the boredom and concentrate. It also helped in my practice. But lately it has been keeping me up nights, and I think it makes me crabby during the day.

For a while, I’ve felt like God has been cleaning me up. I had to quit smoking cigars because they kept me awake. Who ever heard of such a thing? But it happened. Now coffee is out. I am a man without vices. It is a strange sensation.

Drugs connect us with the spirit realm, somehow or other. Tobacco was a ritual herb smoked by pre-Columbian heathens. Peyote and psilocybin are used in worship. Hippies used to get high and say they had seen God.

I don’t think cigars and coffee are going to give me visions of demons, but there must be something about them that God doesn’t like, because I really had to quit. I had no choice. Something would not leave me alone, and I think it was God.

Maybe weak drugs are sharp tools Satan uses to open little holes in your temple. Search me.

I suppose this is undeniable: drugs that affect your mind are substitutes for things you should be getting from God. Maybe that’s the problem. God fixes people, better than caffeine ever could. Maybe caffeine was in the way.

I don’t have any reason to think other people should give up cigars or real coffee, but it seems to be true in my case.

Coffee is a comfort drink. If I can’t get up and have hot coffee when I first turn on the computer, my morning is damaged. Decaf solved that problem.

Coffee–even real coffee–is supposed to bring health benefits. So I suppose I’m still getting those.

I have been getting comments about the AR rifle. This has been bugging me lately. I don’t need any more rifles, and I don’t think an AR will change my life significantly, but I feel this nagging urge to get one.

I’ll tell you something weird. I think God is driving his people to arm themselves and prepare for hard times. Over and over, I see it. I’ve written about it before. I have a new friend who works for a religious charity, and she travels the country talking to Christian donors. She says lots of people–and this is not a tea party thing; they’re independently motivated–are getting guns and tools and rural land. She told me she met with two elderly sisters in northern Florida who inherited a ranch complete with a gun range. These women are retired missionaries! They can’t figure it out.

I do not believe God tells people to shoot at the FBI or the mailman or any other federal agent. I don’t think we’re going to have a last stand where we all go down fighting, while Janet Reno watches on cable news and claps her hands. I have no interest whatsoever in shooting people. In fact, I am not sure I’d shoot in self-defense, since a criminal is likely to need time to repent and turn to God, while I’m ready to go. I’d shoot to defend others; that’s a moral obligation. But I can’t swear I’d kill someone to protect myself. Still, I think God is somehow involved in the increasing interest Christians have in firearms.

If we are not intended to use these guns against others, I’m not sure what the purpose is. But I think that purpose exists. I suspect it, anyway.

Getting back to the AR, a commenter says a couple of interesting things.

1. I should get an AR15, because 5.56/.223 is sort of mandatory. I don’t really understand that, but there it is.

2. Good AR15s are “cheap” right now, so I should get a Rock River and then add a Grendel upper later.

I know almost nothing about the AR15. I know there are “uppers” and “lowers.” I think that means the lower is the part we think of as a gun, and the upper is the barrel and some other stuff. But I don’t know how interchangeable these things are, or whether combining parts from different companies is a good idea. And I don’t know what he means by “cheap.” Are prices about to shoot up? Have they been reduced recently? No clue here.

I don’t know why I need a 5.56. I’ve seen people call it a “poodle shooter.” For self-defense, I really like my Vz 58 in 7.62x39mm, which is fairly powerful yet easy to shoot. What are the advantages of the 5.56? Do they really exist, or is it one of those things, like a 1911 in .45 ACP or a .22 rifle, that you just have to have, no explanation needed?

I looked at my PSL last night, and sure enough, the hammer is in backwards. I think the same could be said of my brain. I’m going to reverse it and take the gun to the range, but I’ll need ammunition first. I’m not going to shoot the rest of my 7N1 until the Russians release more of it. I could sell the remaining rounds and buy a Corvette.

I don’t know where I can get cheap accurate ammunition for it now. There is lots of surplus out there, and Wolf is not too expensive, but I would really like something that will do 2 MOA out of an ideal gun. That way, I can work on my shooting without wondering if the ammunition is holding me back.

I guess I could drive over to Samco and see what they have.

The glass for the AR is a problem. The gun itself is not cheap, and I would want a scope which would work well at long ranges. Prairie dog range, in case I ever get off my butt and go varmint hunting. I assume such items are not cheap.

Maybe the urge will go away.

Shooting poodles…isn’t that a public service? Is there some way we could train them to pop out of prairie dog burrows? Just a thought.


To clarify, I would like an AR in a good long-distance caliber, so whatever I get, I want it to work with a varmint barrel and a good scope. But if I also get a 5.56 upper for shorter ranges, do I have to worry that the original lower will not be appropriate for long-range shooting?

Comforter, Teacher, Housekeeper

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

My House Needs Fiber

I had a moment of clarity last night, unfortunately. It can be very relaxing to be wrong and not know it, so it’s always upsetting when I get an epiphany.

I had the TV on because one of the birds was out of the cage, and I happened to see a show called “Hoarders.” It’s about people who fill their houses with junk, until the rats take over and the kids have to sleep on piles of boxes.

The show bugged me. I’m not a true hoarder, but I’m related to one, and I have lots of hobbies, and I’m absent-minded. Put it all together, and you end up with a person with lots of junk, who puts stuff down in the wrong places and forgets it’s there for weeks or months. Hoarding Lite.

I got up and started relocating things. I had a pile of books and gun parts by my bed. I made room in a closet and stored it. I took tool-related items off the dining room table and put them in the garage. I threw out a number of stupid and worthless items.

Of course, I will need all of those items very badly today. That’s how decluttering works. As soon as the garbage truck drives away, you need whatever is in it.

I hate clutter. It’s like living in a little dirty crevice. It probably raises your blood pressure. But I have a clutter-prone personality. It’s like Felix and Oscar are in my head, duking it out like Rock’em Sock’em Robots.

I have a feeling that the Holy Spirit reduces clutter. Hear me out. When you’re not living for God, you do stupid things with your time and money. You will wander down fruitless paths, involving yourself in futile pursuits. That’s because only God can guide you in the direction you’re supposed to take. Result? You end up with stuff you weren’t supposed to have. Not just stuff, but time obligations. For example, you may give up church because your talented kid has sports practice every day, or simply because you want to squander time watching football on TV. You might end up devoting three hours a night to drinking beer. You may find yourself at a strip bar three times a week, blowing your money.

When God takes over, your priorities and desires change with time. Suddenly, you don’t need an entire closet for your porn collection. Or, like me, you may want to get rid of your delicious Cuban cigars. You find yourself selling things and giving things away. Life becomes more streamlined. You start discarding the things Paul referred to as “dung” so you can make room for the pearl of great price.

I still have a rolling toolbox full of gun stuff by the dining table, and a lot of my canning supplies are sitting on it. I have to move that to the garage. I have to throw out or give away some of the garage objects I will never need. I think it’s safe to throw out my old PC cabinet, and I need to Craigslist my brewing kegs.

I really need to get rid of the Super Genie Lift I inherited from one of my dad’s tenants. A guy at my church said they’ll take it, but it may be ten years before they get around to coming for it.

One of the reasons I don’t like Miami is that there is no space here. I’d like to have a home with an outbuilding for my hobbies. Here, that would run maybe three million dollars. A hundred miles north, maybe two hundred and fifty thousand. Cities are for limited people. If your only hobbies are TV and clubbing, Miami is perfect for you. Add three hobbies, and you’re out of luck. You need to move and get more room.

Last night I thought about my grandfather’s house in Kentucky. It had five bedrooms, including a little spare bedroom that held some of his guns and my grandmother’s sewing stuff. It had a big kitchen, a full dining room, a full living room, a big den, a second den in the basement, a second kitchen in the basement, tons of extra basement square footage, a big foyer, and three baths. It also had a tool shed and a barn, plus a carport and a concrete patio.

Mind you, this was not a mansion. It was just a nice red brick home. It brought $120,000 when the heirs sold it.

THAT is living. Bring your tools. Bring your cooking equipment. Buy three smokers. Get four gun safes. Get a bass boat and an RV and five motorcycles. No problem!

My idea of an ideal home is a three-bedroom CBS house with a big commercial-style kitchen, terrazzo floors, and no curtains, with nothing on the walls except maybe NRA calendars. Put a 1500-square-foot building out back with lots of room for musical instruments, tools, and storage. Give me two acres or more to grow food. I’m done. Let me live there until I die. You would have to hold me at gunpoint to get me to leave that house to go to paradise.

Forget antiques. Forget rugs; they hold dirt and stains and smells. Forget hardwood. It rots, termites eat it, and it makes noise. Put a drain in the kitchen floor so I can spill things. Tile the kitchen walls all the way to the ceiling. Get me white dishes and cups from a restaurant supply house, and put in a deck oven for pizza. Kill every plant that isn’t grass or something that produces food. Give me an entire room for Maynard and Marvin. That’s luxury!

The “stronghold” concept is well known among Christians. Satan has spiritual strongholds we have to conquer. The Canaanite cities Joshua destroyed are symbolic of these strongholds. Addictions and bad habits are strongholds. Bad attitudes are strongholds. A physical illness or poverty may be a stronghold. We’re supposed to break these things down by spiritual warfare.

It has occurred to me that God has strongholds, too. Every human believer is described as a house or a temple or an embassy. We belong to the nation of heaven, even though we live on earth. Within us–within our “walls”–God’s ways prevail. And we have to strive to keep Satan out, and we pray in the Spirit to build ourselves up, so there is something stronger than Satan within us, to repel attackers.

Similarly, a Christian’s home can be a stronghold. It can be an embassy of God. That’s what I want. I know life isn’t supposed to be a breeze, but we’re supposed to live in victory, and it seems to me that within our homes, Satan should be relatively powerless. A stronghold home should be a place where a Christian can retreat and recharge. We have to fight the enemy everywhere else. At home, we should have more peace.

A home should be like a military garrison. You defend it and keep it free from invaders, and from time to time, you make excursions into enemy territory and do damage. Then you retreat back to the garrison and prepare for your next assault.

This is what I want. I don’t want fancy furniture or snooty neighbors or a location shallow people would crave. I want a fortress where I can find a little relief.

Before the clutter show, I say a show called American Pickers, about two guys who go around talking old people into selling them valuable antiques below the market price. They went to visit a man who had twelve buildings full of junk. They had a hard time persuading him to sell them anything. He had to be 75 years old, and this stuff was falling apart, but time after time, they would show him a rusty object and ask the price, and he would tell them it wasn’t for sale. It seemed to me that this guy was in the same boat as the hoarders. He’s going to die, and all that neglected, decaying stuff will be loaded up in dumptrucks and destroyed so the new owners will be able to use the buildings. Crazy.

I also caught a few minutes of a show called Intervention. You can probably guess what that’s about. I plan to record it from now own. It’s helpful to see how tough professional addiction counselors are. It reminded me of an important truth: if you don’t fix a loved one who has an addiction–if you withdraw and wait for them to change, and it doesn’t happen–it doesn’t mean you didn’t try to help. It means the addict didn’t try. Every bad thing that happens to an addict as the result of not trying is the addict’s fault. If someone asks you why you’re not helping, say, “Shouldn’t you be asking why the addict isn’t trying?” Don’t fall for blame-shifting. If you accept even the smallest particle of blame, you might as well be handing the addict a bottle of pills.

It’s funny how I happened to tune in to three very instructive shows, on a night when I was just trying to find entertainment while I communed with my pets. Dang these “coincidences.” They are swarming on me.

Nirvana is a Lie

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

But This is Real

It occurred to me last night that during the day, I had had a peak experience. I got to cook perfect Sicilian pizza, in church, while carrying a firearm with night sights. The guy who leads the armorbearers at my church said something about me being the deadliest cook in the city.

I hope he was talking about my shooting and not the food.

I haven’t figured out how to work tools into the equation, but it’s about forty feet from the pizza area to the church’s table saw, so I can always run back there and hug it as needed.

I called Mike to badger him and tell him about my success, which was largely due to his help (as he reminded me). I told him about my great new discovery: Glad disposable containers for dough. It won’t stick to them. He told me he had been using them for a long time. This must be how Luke Skywalker felt when Yoda used to slap him down.

It’s funny; it’s as if God has given me a number of ways to impact the church, so at least one will succeed, even if I am hindered at the rest of them. I have been delayed in my writing efforts; they don’t even use me to edit copy for their website, which is very odd, given my background. Maybe that’s the enemy working to fragment the church, or maybe it’s God, saying cooking is the right thing to be doing now.

So far, the cooking and the armorbearer work are prospering beautifully. Those are more than enough to make me happy and help me feel useful.

I’m glad they don’t ask me to do legal work. A lawyer is like David: a “man of blood,” even if what he does is right. I don’t want to go through life beating on people.

Obstacles and hindrances and wild goose chases have taken up much of my life, and I think it was because I wasn’t following God. Things that should have worked out for me did not, over and over. That’s great. If you succeed at doing something that is beneficial in the short term but ultimately harmful, you haven’t been blessed, so I’m glad I didn’t make it on my own terms. I can think of people who did. Chris Farley. Elvis. John Belushi. Nero. Hitler. They lived by bread alone, and things went poorly for them.

Satan doesn’t have to kill you to win. If he can waste enough of your time and effort, you’ll lose. It’s as good as killing you. God created you for a mission, and distraction and delay are effective ways of aborting it.

If you’re a worldly person, Satan will wave shiny prizes in front of you. Sexy women. Expensive cars. Glory. Power. Advancement. But if you pursue these things, he’ll yank them away before you get them, or he’ll give them to you, and you’ll wish he hadn’t. You’ll regret it, in this life or when you are judged.

Satan is like a drug pusher. He offers you things you want very badly, and he tells you they’ll make you happy. But they cause pain in the end. I think he loves to make people chase his mirages, and he loves tearing the sets down just when we think we’ve made it. I think he enjoys our despair and disappointment.

The movie Bedazzled (either version) is a great lesson for Christians. Satan shows up and makes deals with a fool, and then Satan finds cruel ways to break the deals in spirit while upholding them in letter. That’s what my life used to be like, except that he often failed to stick to his deals in any respect. He can do that.

These days, things work. I want better things, and they are coming to me, on a sustainable, healthy schedule. I will suffer in this life, but overall, I will live in victory and contentment.

I became a Spirit-filled Christian around twenty-five years ago. Then I backed away because I was offended. Since then, I’ve never fit into the world. I’ve been excluded and blackballed, over and over. When I’ve tried to shoehorn myself into the worldly scene, things haven’t felt right. There has always been tension between worldly people and me. I could only follow them so far. They could only get so close to me. Then the barriers went up.

Now I know people I can relax with. People I can work with. That’s a new experience for me. More accurately, it’s an experience I haven’t had since I left the church. If I meet a woman I like, I won’t have to worry about her telling people she thinks I’m gay because I didn’t jump on her when she removed her underwear under the table at a bar. I won’t have awkward social moments when I have to turn down drugs. If I decide to do the godly thing instead of the obvious thing, at a considerable short-term cost, I won’t have to fight with people who don’t get it. If I marry and my wife gets a dubious amniocentesis result, I won’t have to explain why I don’t want to kill the baby. I’ll never face a paternity suit. I won’t have a business partner who insists I work on Sunday or withhold my tithes and offerings. My friends will improve me instead of pulling me down. It’s shocking, how much power you can get from friends who build you up instead of holding you back. A lot of wives should think about that, when they deal with their husbands. A lot of parents should think about it when they deal with their kids.

This is freedom. It’s oppressive to be chained to unbelievers. We’re supposed to lead, and when we’re shackled to worldly people, they lead us. And guess who leads them? The Church Lady could tell you. The chain of command is supposed to go God-pastor-congregant and then on down to Satan, at the very bottom. When you have to follow a worldly person, God can end up at the bottom, with Satan at the top. Then you lose the blessings God intends you to walk into through obedience and faith.

One of the things that makes the biggest impression me is my interaction with Christian women. They are a breath of fresh air. I was so tired of sleaze. I was tired of being told I was obligated to “make a move” by a certain time or lose the woman. It’s bizarre for a man to find himself in situations where he’s the one who has to apply the moral brakes. Women are supposed to carry a lot of that burden; God wired their brains and set up their hormones so they would be suited to do it. Instead, they’re downright coarse. “Ladettes” are everywhere. They’re the norm.

You know what? There is nothing wrong with a man who hasn’t gotten your pants off by the third date. If that’s the only way you can tell you have a strong relationship with a man, you are very, very lost. If sex is that important to you, hire an escort so you’ll only waste a man’s time for an evening, instead of a lifetime. Why should I have to fight preexisting background temptation, as well as the woman I’m with? If she’s not on my side in this battle, why should I expect her to be on my side in any other fight? Support is a wife’s primary function, whether the feminists want to hear it or not. A man can’t fight the world by day and his wife by night and expect to do well.

Life has gotten so sordid; it’s sad that women have become one of the chief mechanisms of the change. Worldly women have given up. Many of them are like the hairnetted ladies you see in grocery stores, calling out to strangers to get them to try free samples of their products. Wow, that’s an inspiring way to live. That’s dignity.

I’m sure there are Christian women who are too weak to do what they believe in, but there are also women who have enough backbone to put love before sex. What do you want? A husband, or a good, reliable goat? It’s easy to whine that all the other women are coming across with the goods. That’s fine, if you think you don’t deserve anything better than the bad results most women get.

I’ve said it before: I used to find worthwhile women hard to locate, and I found it hard to motivate myself to ask anyone out, but now the more likely problem is trying to figure out which worthwhile woman is the right one. I meet great women when I’m among Christians. Aaron said it best: “fish in stocked ponds.”

Life is cleaner and more focused now. I’m glad I don’t have to think about designated drivers any more. I don’t have to go without my carry piece in order to enter a bar legally. I don’t even smell like cigars. I go to bed early, and I rise early. It’s a good way to live. My character is improving; I disappoint and annoy myself less. The things I gave up to get here are garbage. Paul said the same thing.

God did all of it. He worked inside me and changed my desires and strengths. It’s the best deal imaginable. You don’t have to be strong or pure to get this; God will clean you up over time and make you what you should be. You don’t have to deserve it.

I’m going to work on the Sicilian pans and get some pizza stones today. I am going to wake this church up with my cooking on Sunday, or they are going to find me on the kitchen floor, passed out from trying.

Abandoned Babies

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

I Have Cut the Cord

I am in torment. Okay, not really. But I’m a little disturbed.

I haven’t had a cigar since 2007, unless my memory is faulty. Which it is, but still, I think I’m right. I don’t think smoking a cigar is a sin, but they started keeping me awake at night, and I found it harder and harder to find convenient times when I could smoke them, early enough in the day to avoid sleeplessness. Months without a cigar turned into a year. Tobacco-free time piled up, and now it has been nearly two years.

Once I realized it had been a very long time since my last smoke, I felt a motivational barrier between me and my stogies. I just could not reach for one. Sometimes I got them out of the Rubbermaid storage box, but I always put them back.

My sister was diagnosed with lung cancer. My mother and my aunt died from it. Two of my great-grandmothers died from it, although neither smoked. My uncle died from stomach cancer which was probably related to tobacco use. All four of my maternal grandfather’s daughters smoke or smoked.

My family has grown a lot of cigarette tobacco, and I have been against it for decades. I suspect that our addiction and cancer problems are spiritual blowback related to selling a poisonous addictive drug. We’ve killed a good number of people, and we haven’t made much money from it, so we don’t even have the excuse of financial incentive.

For a while now, I’ve felt that it was hypocritical to have cigars around. They’re not addictive, and they won’t make you ill. Not unless you suck on them night and day. But tobacco is a horrible drug. Probably the worst drug man has ever encountered. If I keep it around, I’m going to feel like I’m giving Satan his own little place in my closet. A foothold.

Perry Stone notes that a minor error in one generation of a family can become a major sin for the next. It’s an interesting point. Grandpa smokes a pipe. Dad smokes cigarettes. Junior smokes dope and cigarettes. Junior’s son smokes crack. Things like this really do happen. It has happened in my own family. A family’s morals tend to move in one direction or the other. If I have cigars in my house, wouldn’t it be easier for the young people who see them to accept cigarettes?

Spirits follow families, and they are associated with objects we possess. No sane Christian would own a Ouija board or a Hindu idol or a stack of porn magazines. It’s important to keep a clean house, morally as well as physically. That’s indisputable. So is it okay to keep a big pile of expensive cigars in your closet? How can I pray for my sister to get over her cancer and her addiction when I keep tobacco for myself? Besides, while cigars in moderation don’t cause cancer, they do fill you with nicotine, which renders your body less capable of fighting new cancers that arise from other causes.

Charles Spurgeon smoked cigars. I read about it while making this decision. But Charles Spurgeon didn’t know everything.

My cigars are sitting by the side of the road right now. I have to apologize to Aaron, because I was planning to donate them to his study group. He gets together with other Jews, under the authority of a rabbi, and they talk religion while enjoying good stogies. I wanted to send the cigars to him, but I can’t rationalize taking something questionable out of my house and putting it in someone else’s. So I put 19 boxes of delicious smokes–most of them Cubans–out in the trash heap. It’s like throwing out a stack of twenty-dollar bills.

I feel like I left a baby out there. Oh, my poor stogies. I think I’m having heart palpitations. But the reality is, I am never going to smoke them. Tell me I’m going to survive this day.

Here’s a prayer request:

I am having arthroscopic knee surgery tomorrow. It is on my “good” knee. The other needs total replacement but we are trying to save this one from going down that road. I got up this morning with extremely high blood pressure, probably from anxiety, stress and pain, but I know they won’t do the surgery tomorrow if it is still this high. Please prayer for my anxiety to cease, my blood pressure to be normal and for a good outcome of the surgery. The surgery I am confident of, but I need that BP down. Thanks for your prayers for me and for the many others you intercede for.

Hop on it while I weep for my smokes.

Hog Rises Again

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Medical Insurance = License to Cruise

What a fantastic day. I didn’t always think I was having fun, but in retrospect, I realize I was.

I decided to organize God’s Own Garage, because it was starting to get cluttered, and I still have to stick a 2400-pound milling machine in there. I really opened it up. It felt wonderful. An orderly room is like a beautiful woman. It gives you pleasure just by existing.

Then I decided to clean the mildew off the Harley’s saddlebags. It grew during the roof-problem era, when the garage was damp. I got on the web and looked, and I saw a lot of stupid ideas for killing mildew on leather. Then I realized I already had something that would probably do the trick: iodophor sanitizer. Unlike bleach, it won’t damage the leather, and as far as I know, iodine kills EVERYTHING. So I cleaned the mildew off with rubbing alcohol, hit the leather with iodophor, and followed up with leather conditioner. And the bags looked great. I was shocked.

I never thought that bike was all that good looking when I bought it. The black tins disappointed me, but at that time, you bought the Harley the dealer showed you, or you did without. Today I realized it’s actually a very nice looking bike. It has grown on me.

One thing led to another, and I found myself trying to get her started. I had to drain all the fuel back when I installed the new petcock, so the tank was literally dry. I figured it was time to fire her up. But I had no gas. I did something really stupid. I had a truly ancient container of gas on hand. I decided to put a quart in the tank. I figured it would get me to a gas station, and if it wasn’t the greatest gas on earth, it wouldn’t matter, because I’d be diluting it twenty-to-one with new gas.

I had to use a MAPP torch to get the silly thing started, aiming the nozzle into the carb. When it started running, I thought my problems were over. I decided to take a short spin to see if it was in shape to get me to the gas station. And the bike died three blocks from home. Worse, the place where it conked out was a good two feet lower, and you really can’t push an 800-pound bike uphill. Even a slight grade is bad news.

I walked back to the house, got the torch, and drove to the bike. Got it started. Then it died again. Finally, I had to call my dad. He was the only person available on short notice. He graciously abandoned his dinner, drove to a gas station, bought a gas can, bought a gallon of good gas, and brought it to me. Thank God, it did the trick.

I got the bike home and fiddled with it, and I went for another spin. The acceleration was weak, and it tried to stall at low speeds. I figured it was either the gas or corrosion in the slow jet, which happens when a bike sits. I went and got gas, and on the way home, the bike got worse, surging and farting. Surging is embarrassing. It makes you look like an idiot in traffic. Like you have no idea how to work a throttle.

I got home and ordered some new slow jets on the web (the dealer near me probably charges fifty bucks each for a two-dollar item). Then I decided to play Dr. House. I thought there might be crud in the carb, but I did not want to take it apart and hit it with carb cleaner. But I realized I had a bottle of STP fuel injection cleaner and some Sta-Bil. I figured carb crud had to be just like injector crud. And if the bad gas had water in it, Sta-Bil would get rid of it. I made an STP and Sta-Bil cocktail, poured it into the tank, and hit the started. The bike ran! I got a screwdriver and adjusted the idle speed, and away I went.

It ran like a dream. Great low-end torque, good acceleration, no backfiring, no hesitation, and no surging. It probably didn’t run this well new. Against my better judgment, knowing I was very rusty, I decided to go for a longer ride. I put on my helmet and horsehide jacket and boots, and I tooled through Coconut Grove and onto I-95.

Riding at highway speed is very intimidating when you’re a new rider, and every rider who has been off his bike for months feels like a new rider when he gets back on. So I was nervous. I felt stiff, and every seam and reflector in the road seemed determined to knock me off the bike. I stuck with it, having no choice, and I went all the way to Northeast 95th Street (over 10 miles) and got off. I rode by the house where I grew up, across a busy intersection from Mike’s old house. I rode down by the bay, where we used to waste our time gigging inedible fish.The bike never gave me a second’s trouble.

On the way home, I felt loose, and my Motorcycle Safety Foundation training came back to me.I threw the bike around a little, just to get used to moving the weight. It was wonderful. I had really missed riding, without even realizing it.

Also, I came up with a name for the bike. It made me laugh. Can’t tell you now, though. I’ll spill it eventually. Not all of you will get it.

I plan to ride more in the future. I was always reluctant to ride, because I was worried about having an accident, and I was too cheap to get medical insurance. Actually, I was afraid they’d make me get an exam, and I didn’t want to show up fat and out of shape, and I never seemed to get into the kind of shape I thought would impress the insurer into giving me a ridiculously low rate. When I finally got insurance, all they did was ask questions. I could have told them I was a giraffe. They would have bought it. So I said my blood pressure was 75 over 40 and I had just won a gold medal in the Decathlon.

Not really.

Anyway, I have insurance, so I’m not as scared of the road. Oddly, the thought of paying medical bills scares me less than the possibility that I will be turned into a giant meatball.

It was a magnificent day, all the way around. I realized my milling dreams were doable, and I got the Harley on the road. I can’t ask for more than that. I’ve been thinking I should ride it to church. It’s a long trip on the interstate, on a low-traffic day. Perfect for riding.

I’d look like a freak with that jacket however.

The pastor’s son has a chopper. I guess I would be excused.

I had a problem with the insurance people. Somehow they got the idea that I had smoked fairly recently, and they jacked up my rate. It’s a lot of money. A hundred bucks a month. I called and complained, and they said I could get a blood test and prove I didn’t smoke.

I’ve been thinking about it. I may just let it go. I keep thinking it’s wasteful to spend that kind of money for an occasional cigar. Then I think about the more fundamental issue: freedom. Do I really want to live like an uptight, irrational, self-righteous, liberal smoke Nazi, just to save money? Wouldn’t I be letting them control me?

For a long time, I thought I might want to give cigars up altogether, because I had read a few things that worried me, and I was concerned about using a product which had been a curse to my family. But last week I read up on it, and here is the truth: smoking a couple of cigars a week is one hundred percent harmless. It’s not addictive. It won’t hurt your heart or lungs. It won’t give you cancer. The Jews believe asceticism is evil, and I think they’re right. Maybe it’s wrong to live like a fanatic in order to keep the insurance company from ripping me off. Liberty–even small, nonessential liberties–is worth something. Pleasure is important. Christians forget that. You’re not supposed to be a slave to it, but if you deprive yourself more than you should, you just store up temptation for the inevitable day when your willpower breaks, and you weary yourself of trying to be good, and you reject gifts God intended you to enjoy. One purpose of the sabbath was to teach man he occasionally had to get off the hamster wheel, stop punishing himself, and enjoy things.

I don’t think John the Baptist was a true ascetic. His diet was limited when he was in the desert, but no self-respecting ascetic would even consider eating honey. It’s an extremely decadent food. And we have no idea what he ate when he was in Jerusalem, where he had access to real grub. You can’t compare him to true ascetics, like the Buddhist and Hindu nutjobs who wander the jungle for decades in diapers, living on dirt. We know Jesus and the disciples enjoyed food and wine, and Jesus even let a woman perfume his feet.

I still have time to think it over.