Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Telling Your Product From Far Eastern

Thank you for proudly puchase of RocketTech(tm) 600 Can Opener/Knife Sharpener.
Product design many years happy usage.

Operation Instruction

Warning!!! Important Safety Instruction!

Mis-use of product not labeled death or serious injury.
Never frayed or broken power cord use.
Keep fingers from sharp edges.
Young children not use please - important supervise children.

Quick Instruction

Choose can or knife sharpen function switch (top of unit).


Press handle firmly down.Important: Hold down until cycle complete. Other hand catch can prevent spillage.

Careful lid - sharp edge!


No serrated!
Never children sharpen unsuperv.
Pull knife toward you - don't push.
3 or 4 times.
Only clean washed knive please.

Detail Instruction

Warranty Service

30 days - Return place of purchase along with receipt. Not responsible for mis-use.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Keychain Frog and the House Key

Keychain Frog (KF) was never a tadpole. Not knowing his origin, he was about two inches long and one high, not counting the length of the chain growing out of his back, nor the length of his bright red curled up tongue - which he could never retract into his mouth, as he had none. His body was bold blue with yellow patches, all of which contained within them red splotches.

KF's first memory was of his bin at the register of the hardware store - he shared it with many other keychain animals, including other frogs of similar and different colorings. Consequently, KF didn't consider his existence to be particularly unexpected or significant.

As the chain in his back was a part of him from "birth" (though it carried no sensations), he rarely thought about it or its purpose in his life - that is, until the fateful day when he was plucked from his bin by a large creature who seemed either bent on eating him, or spinning him through the air on his chain - neither of which appealed to his fancy; though his life in the bin hadn't seemed all that fanciful either, so stoic acceptance was his watchword.

This all changed suddenly, when the creature produced the most stunning being KF had ever seen - nothing like his companions in the bin.

This being was about the same length and breadth as KF, but in it's third dimension (KF being quite portly in that one), this being was so thin, it almost could be said to not occupy its third dimension at all. The most stunning part about it, however was its coloring - KF had never experienced all of these colors on one being at once - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, interspersed with a brilliant white. Furthermore the creature was broad at one third of its length, then abruptly much thinner, with an attractive jaggedness on one side and a perfectly straight edge on the other.

Summoning up all his courage and boldness, KF spoke to this being, and asked of it its name. "I am House Key (HK)" replied the creature. KF, not knowing either what a house was, nor a house key, assumed it was just a name, much like his own - which bore no meaning to him other than his identifying moniker (he had never asked, and hence never found out, that many others in his birth bin bore the same name as him).

In yet another surprise, the giant creature which had plucked KF from his nest then proceeded - through apparently great effort - to permanently fasten HK to the far end of KF's chain. As neither had a clue how to alter this situation, it appeared to both that they would be fused in this way for the rest of their lives (whatever that might mean).

Both KF and HK being of a stoic nature (HK would later relate to KF the story of her torture on a grinding wheel by the largest creature she had ever seen), they accepted their mutual fate, and as conflict would certainly be untenable in this situation, agreed to be friends, with mutual benevolence and altruism being their philosophy.

This accidental arrangement went very well for a time, and when the pair was placed in a strange, dark but warm place for great lengths of time, they kept each other company by whispering stories to each other. These stories came, unsurprisingly, not from vast experience (truth be told, they had little experience to relate), but from the imagination born of long days of silent waiting. Both agreed that this imagination was the best palliative for the loneliness of existence - for all who exist are lonely by definition of being separated from the vast consciousness which in fact dreamed them into their own forms. Thus did their shared philosophical discussions comfort them.

One day, in the middle of just such a conversation, KF and HK were together thrust into the daylight by the self-same creature who had originally fused them. Then a very strange and disturbing thing occurred. HK was quickly thrust into a small metal crevice - her thin end first - and as she hardly even fit, she screamed in agony as her jagged side scraped painfully on one side of the crevice, which was also jagged, but did give way, albeit grudgingly. Now an even greater torture was perpetrated, as the creature brutally twisted HK in this crevice by her wide end before finally jerking her out of the crevice again with the same painful, jagged motion.

KF, for his part, could only watch in horror as the tragedy unfolded. As they were together thrust back into their dark, warm place, KF wondered if HK would be the same, or would the shocking experience change her to her core?

"Are you alright?" KF asked with great concern. "Yes, I think so." said HK, "It was very scary and painful, but somehow I feel different now, and not entirely in a bad way."

"What do you mean by different?"

HK had to ponder for a moment.

"I feel... I feel like I know why I'm here - sort of - it's hard to explain... I feel somehow there's actually some purpose or meaning for my existence - but that meaning isn't inside of me, and I'm not sure I understand it completely."

"Do you mean you're meant to be tortured in that awful crevice? That doesn't sound like it has a useful purpose to me!"

"I know it doesn't make much sense, Keychain Frog, but it's a feeling I've got now. It's as if that huge creature was using me for something greater than I can understand. Something powerful and deep and profound. The pain I felt made it all the more real to me. I honestly can't explain it, but I've been touched by something truly awesome."

"All well and good," said KF, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice, "but where does that leave me?"

"I'm not sure, Keychain Frog, but I think - or I feel? - that the same is true for you - there's something greater that you're here for than just existing. You have a purpose - but you won't find it all in your imagination - there's something outside of you that needs your participation."

"What could I possibly be here for, House Key? All my life things have just happened! I was born, I know not how or why. I've been thrust here and there, without my control or consent. I know nothing of what may happen in my future, if I even have one! And yes, I can see that something about you has changed, but I'm not sure I have your confidence in it."

"That's OK, Keychain Frog, I won't force my new viewpoint on you - though I do think you'll discover it for yourself in time - after all, we're best friends, and so we shall remain."

"That is true, House Key, for better or worse, we're together - so for what it's worth, if you learn more about your purpose, or especially mine(!), please be sure to tell me."

"That I'll do gladly, Keychain Frog, and I don't think I'll be the one to define your purpose for you - after all, I'm not even sure what my own is! Your meaning will unfold for you alone, as we experience together our strange new existence. And don't worry about me - something in my experience just now told me that the pain is necessary if I am to learn."

And so it went between the two friends for a long time. They continued to share stories and imaginings, but HK's imaginings took on a new dimension that very much impressed KF - her thoughts, instead of being in the past or present as they had been, now tended to dwell in the future - she even seemed to start looking forward to those strange, jagged, twisting torture sessions. Oddly, these seemed not to harm her in any permanent way - in fact, she seemed to grow stronger and calmer and wiser the more they happened.

One day, during one of their dark, warm conversation times, HK grew thoughtful, and asked KF, "Have you thought anymore about what might be your purpose, your meaning?"

"I have," replied KF, to a slightly surprised HK "and oddly, in a strange way, I think it has something to do with you and your purpose."

"How so, Keychain Frog?" asked HK.

"Don't get me wrong, House Key - I don't know that my purpose is as grand or profound as yours. Listening to you talk about it all this time, I can tell you're onto something really good and important. But now I'm convinced there's some reason we got fused together - it wasn't just so I could follow you around and watch you go through your pain."

"I think you're right about that, Keychain Frog, but don't sell yourself short. Even as you 'follow me around', you're participating somehow in that great dance that I believe gives meaning to both of us. And something tells me that I couldn't do my part without you there."

Then it happened.

KF and HK were lounging in their dark warm place when suddenly they felt a tugging, but it was different than the normal feeling when the giant creature pulled them out. It was more a slow, jerky sliding motion, and whoops! Out they fell, to another dark place, but it wasn't warm here. Both were a little scared, as this had never happened to them before.

All the more scary was the fact that the giant creature was nowhere to be seen. Strangely, they'd come to rely on this creature and its habits.

Time in this place waxed very long, but KF and HK occupied themselves, as usual with stories and philosophical discourse. Much of that discourse centered on KF finding his own purpose and meaning (while helping HK try to elucidate her own - a daunting task!)

Then they both saw a bright light entering their dark place, and they recognized the familiar voice of their giant master. "Where is that frog! Find the frog! - it's the only way we'll find the key!" "I found the frog, daddy!" piped a smaller, higher voice. "Good for you honey! Is the key still attached to it?" "Yes, daddy, what a pretty key, and a pretty frog too!"

And so KF and HK were returned to their warm, dark place, and from that moment on, KF no longer wondered if he had a purpose and meaning in his life. He'd seen and heard that these big creatures valued him as a helper for finding their prized key (who KF now prized even more).

Still not knowing the ultimate reason for it all, and wisely realizing that they may never know for sure, KF and HK continued on, as best friends, serving their master as best they could, with confidence and pride in knowing they both had a real purpose and meaning.

More Victims of the Recession - Cost of Suicide Skyrockets

In yet another report of fallout from the current recession, the number of suicides has decreased as the cost of offing oneself has skyrocketed in recent months.

Jerry in Los Angeles had recently contemplated making the Big Choice, but has had to postpone his plans due to rising rope costs (his preferred method). "If I'd planned ahead a year ago" said Jerry from his low-rent, one-room flat, "I'd have been able to obtain plenty of hi-test Mylar, as well as a stainless steel bucket to kick. As it is now, all I can get is some cheap twine and a plastic kitty litter pan."

Guns and bullets too, have taken an inflationary beating as demand for these items has increased fivefold in the past 6 months - largely due to the increased self-defense needs of suburbanites. "Everyone's snapping up arms and ammunition faster than the shelves can be stocked." said an anonymous Wal Mart employee. High demand means higher prices for everyone, and this marginalizes the suicidal - who typically have incomes well below the Federal poverty line.

The various chemical methods haven't escaped the trend either. "Don't even talk to me about prescription tranquilizers," said Stacy of Simi Valley, "what with losing my insurance - which didn't cover my preferred drugs anyway - and the increasing cost of the newest and most powerful drugs."

Drugs aside, poisons in general (weed killers, rodent & other pest control products) have not benefited from recent dips in the price of petroleum, from which many of these products are derived. "It's criminal," said one prospect for the Big Kahuna, who prefers to remain anonymous, "how the poison industry has ignored the lower raw material prices, and reaped huge profits from the terminally depressed." Even the old standby Arsenic has become less available as environmental regulations have failed to keep up with the demand for cheap, reliable death.

Bridges too, the old romantic standby method, have come under scrutiny by the ISSC (International Suicide Selection Committee) - many of the most sought-after venues now have barriers that will only open for those who pre-pay the associated bridge maintenance district a hefty fee for cleanup operations. "People haven't traditionally considered the costs." says Ron Debnowski, of the Manhattan Bridge District. "We often end up having to bring in a crane boat - and the cost of doing so is enormous - sometimes as much as $5,000 per event. That doesn't even include the cost of body storage and identification for those who neglect to include proper documents with their jump." Debnowski says a typical jumper must pay an up-front fee of $500, and present valid ID and contact information for next of kin.

Naturally, suicide prevention organizations have expressed optimism that the dark cloud of the recession has produced this apparent silver lining. "We couldn't be more pleased with this report." stated Julie Stenner of the International Suicide Prevention Hotline. "A drop in suicide rates is good news, no matter why it occurs. We can only hope that as the recession deepens and spreads across the world, we'll see an even more dramatic drop in suicide rates."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Journal: Recovery in a Recession

Forget the whys for now; read enough of my blog and you'll come up with your own ideas - satisfactory to you, no doubt - but wrong, because there is no why: there is only IS.

16 days ago I had my last (alcoholic) drink (it was early morning, so I count myself 16 days sober today). On that day, I also began seeking treatment; jobless, homeless, without insurance.

After much searching, I landed that evening in a detox facility in Richmond, CA. This was supposed to be a 7 day stay, but I cut it short on the 3rd day, because I couldn't handle the insanity of both the staff and some of my co-residents. I also felt pretty well by that time, so back to my sister's home I went, to begin seeking my long-term treatment. Reminder: No money.

Enter Delancy Street in San Francisco - I sat on their bench, hopeful that I might qualify for their allegedly life-changing program. Unfortunately, I did not:

- No criminal arrests/convictions/jail time
- Not physically able to do construction work
(the only offer; Meniere's, weak back)

Back to my sister's, now searching more locally to her - After many phone calls (most messages un-returned) I went in person to a facility called Rubicon in Richmond. Their counselor recommends a short stay at a homeless shelter (to certify me homeless?), then I can be fast-tracked into a long-term recovery program. So be it. I'll be calling the man on Monday to get it set up.

Meanwhile, Christmas at my sister's was a blast with all my family and (sister) in-laws. I kept my status low-key, of course.

Needless to say, this blog, which seldom gets updated, will seldom get updated for awhile longer, as I won't likely have Internet access for quite awhile once I'm in shelter/program. When I do, I'm sure I'll have lots of fascinating experiences to share here. Think of me as your "reality reporter at large." Maybe I'll try to take (paper) notes as I go. That should keep me busy anyway.

No worries - I look at life right now as an experience to experience, and all roads lead up.

Yours Truly,
LifeWrecked (aka Paul S)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Monitor

I am the Monitor.

Some people want to pretend I don't exist. That's alright by me.

99% of my job I do silently. So it isn't surprising that my presence would be dismissed.

Then there are the people who call me God or The Wise One or sometimes even Satan (yes, I can get a little cheeky). Pretty bizarre when you think of it - all that power from the brain of an overgrown ape. Can you spell ego? Fine, I thought you could.

Mostly I just listen anyway. Sometimes I nod. Do you recognize me yet?

I know your innermost thoughts; your darkest secrets. Because they're mine. I am you, or the mirror reflection if that's easier. You've got to admit you love me more than you love yourself.

Let's face it, I'm someone to talk to. You have to have someone to talk to during your miserable little existence. Don't worry, I'm not judging you - you and me, we travel as a package, so anything I say about you I'm saying about myself (and vice-versa, by the way). I'm just trying to get your attention here, so humor me a tad of cynicism.

Believe it or not, I'm not engaging in pointless ramble here. You already know I don't speak out of turn lightly. If your mirror could speak to you, what would it say? (And no, I don't refer here to the witch story - that's been played through already).

I want to tell you that you're lovable.

Except I can't - not a for sure promise, anyway.

You see, aside from me (and this one too is qualified) no person can ever love you completely.

You're going to need a bath sooner or later - we all will. The difference with me is that I can't leave you even if I want to. I can't beat you bloody. I can't make you see my point with force. I can't argue with you until I'm blue in the face - I don't have one. Not unless you decide to give me one.

But you're lovable.

The reason is simple.

Nothing you can DO or NOT DO can make you LOVABLE or UNLOVABLE.

If I wasn't writing, I'd say it twice for effect - so read it again.

Neither you nor I are a human DOING. We (well, at least you) are a human BEING.

Oh, I know the arguments.

Life doesn't really work like the (ideal) description. Every person has to figure out some strategy to carve their survival out of this hellhole of a planet. You could do it with good looks if you're lucky enough. You could work yourself to death, and make it play out. Forget the bath - EVERYBODY is subject to IT. And whether you want to believe it or not, therein lies your salvation.

Because it's everybody.

The only real resource you have in this world is about 7 billion other people.

That's another one I'd read twice if I were you (and we've already established that I am).

So do us both a favor.

Love ME even if you can't seem to love yourself. The only thing I can promise you in return is that I'll be here as long as you are. Not much, I admit, but we're all we've got. Well us and those 7 billion others. It could certainly be (about 7 billion) worse.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It isn't just about money - but you wouldn't know that by looking on the surface. Poverty is what you make of it.

I ride the bus - not because I'm poor, but because I might as well be. WHY a thing is so doesn't change its meaning. Witness.

Clearly stranded - that's my best assessment. She's sexy in her own way (a bit on the chunky side, seriously drunk, but that's never out of the question). She's in a one-piece bathing suit (it was pretty hot that day in central California), but she's definitely missing a beach - this is hospital row, about 2 miles north of downtown Stockton. Stranded because she obviously can't decide where/what to do/go next.

I'm across the street, sitting on the bus stop bench (aside: they don't all have benches; that becomes a prized commodity - particularly for the homeless - become a "non-consumer" for a minute sometime, and try finding a place to sit or take a crap - an education, believe me).
She's (first noticed) at the gas station across the street. She's off on foot. Doubles back. Off on foot again. This is pacing. This is somebody pissed off or confused. Or both. To my combined hope and horror, she's crossing the street, and sure enough, there she is, sitting (right) next to me on the bus bench.

I can hear (sort of), but you have to help me understand. It's called life. The only thing I can decipher from her transmission is "f**k" - over and over again. I did what I always never do - stoic silence, just waiting to see if anything useful happens. It only lasts about 90 seconds. I believe her parting comment (back to the gas station) is something like "You're a prick." OK, I can own that.

It also seems I can (if I wanted) own the clearly inadequate knit sweater she left on the bench. But I don't want to own it (she's vanished, permanently, it seems - I guess she'll miss the sweater later, then again maybe not). The bus driver (finally) does his part - is that yours? Nope.

I said someplace, (and I paraphrase myself) "Lose everything. Then you'll know the value of money." I meet a lot of people at bus stops who've lost "everything." I can't escape the feeling that maybe I'm one of them. I try to take solace sometimes in the concept that I'll probably have lots of company coming down from the "middle class" pretty soon. It doesn't work though. I can feel pain no matter who has it. Life again.

Poverty is what you make of it.

LifeWrecked out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gong Me - Stupid 101, or The Folly of Confidence

Last night I missed my bus. The following observations are pertinent:

a) I was at the bus stop on time.
b) The bus came on time.
c) I was awake.
d) I saw the bus.
e) I got up to get on the bus.
f) The bus driver waited for me.
g) I sat back down and missed the bus anyway.

I don't know if this sort of thing happens to other people, but I suspect it's more common than most of us would like to admit. They say the devil is in the details, so here are some details.

This bus route is San Joaquin Regional Transit District's answer to servicing a large area that has significant but sporadic ridership. What they've done to accommodate this area is "split" the route in a "Y" configuration, with with two buses - one starting on an "arm" of the Y, the other starting at the base, passing each other at the junction, with the "base" bus serving the other arm of the Y, then both turning around and reversing roles. A little crazy sounding perhaps, but to the credit of the route "committee" (I'm very sure) it does get the job done with minimal resources.

Noteworthy: I live right next to a convenient stop at the junction (middle) of the Y - the place I normally catch the bus to go toward a) downtown (South) or b) the malls (North). Needless to say, it matters greatly which bus I get on to get where I'm going.

One more pertinent detail and we can move on to my personal idiocy attack.

The route number is 61. Not 61 and... Just 61. So to catch either bus, you catch bus 61. Good thing the buses are modern, and have these wonderful marquis that tell you the route # and where the particular bus is (hypothetically) heading (DTC - downtown center, or Malls). Of course, it's a task of the bus drivers to change the marquis when they turn the bus around at either end of the route.

Now I'm sure you can guess where the fly most often gets into this mechanism - and let me assure you that I've known about this and experienced it multiple times, which is why I decided last night that I really do deserve the title of Official Moron. Don't worry about my self-esteem though, as I don't have the slightest doubt that I share that title on a regular basis with all 4 (or whatever it is now) billion fellow inmates on this dusty muddy space rock.

So last night I'm waiting for the bus going toward the mall (it's the last one for the day, BTW), and right on time, here comes the bus with the sign saying "DTC". These buses often come to this stop (junction of the Y, remember?) very close together in time, so this is (stupid, stupid, stupid) no big worry for me. The only thing I can assume the driver thinks is that I'm a bum just resting on the bench (look at my picture at the bottom of my blog page and vote in comments if you agree or not with the driver - I'm thinking maybe so). BTW, I'm the only person at the stop.

Now since this is the junction of a Y, it's pretty easy to tell (in depressing retrospect) which bus you MISSED - since the one going North (Malls) turns left at the light, and the one going South (DTC) goes straight. This "DTC" bus turned left. Recall that it's the last bus going North.

I must have done it a thousand times before this moment. Ask the driver, ask the driver, ask the driver! Never ASSUME anything. Trusting any human system or intent (including my own) unreservedly is sheer folly. I KNOW this. Now I could say I've finally learned this lesson. Yep, I could say that. I'm very sure it'll stick for at least a couple weeks.

Welcome to my humility zone.

Paul S