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Archive for January, 2014

I really wanted to title this “Lazy-Assed Fucktards and the Stupid Shit They Do That Makes Me Want to Bury Them in a Red Ant Hill and Cover Them With Honey,” but there wasn’t enough room for that. So now that you have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to be ranting about, you can take this opportunity to either sign off and look at more cute kittens, or get a cup of tea and some chocolate and enjoy the show. Hey, this is more for my therapy than your entertainment, anyway.

So there I was, out in public once again. Since we’ve been down to one vehicle for TWO FRICKIN’ YEARS awhile now, I do most of the household shopping on the weekend. Which is, of course, the worst time to do it, since all the villages and their idiots are also loose. It’s like the circus is in town, without the organization. You have the animal trainers (it’s Southern California and apparently you’re not allowed to go anywhere without a pocket puppy), the trapeze artists (because it would be too much trouble for mom to get off her cell phone and keep the kids from climbing all over things), the danger acts (nothing like a good ol’ domestic dispute right in the middle of canned goods), the jugglers (one parent, two carts, six kids…), and let’s not forget the clowns (People of Walmart. ‘Nuff said).

And that’s when I realized what the real crux of the matter is for me: it’s not the people, it’s the stupid.

I could deal with the crowds, the cars, the noise, if so much stupid weren’t going on. For all the heights of brilliance humans can achieve, those feats are only outdone by the lows of our rudeness and idiocy. Here are a few examples of what I’ve seen repeatedly on my forays out into the world:

1) Cigarette flicking – yeah, you know what I mean. That last drag followed by a sour face and a toss onto anything but a trash barrel or an ashtray. What few smoking friends I have don’t do this – they field dress their butts and dump them in an approved container – so I know it’s possible to smoke and not be an ash-dumping ass. But it seems oh-so-rare. Just flick it into the street, crush it under your foot on the sidewalk, leave it smoldering next to the trash can, or – my favorite – toss it out your car window as you drive down the freeway. Hey, fuckwad – SoCal is experiencing its worst drought since they started keeping records. To say the entire region is a dry-as-a-desiccated-desert-bone tinderbox is an understatement. If you didn’t want “that smell” in your car, you shouldn’t smoke. As of this writing, the California Department of Forestry has already had seven incidents just since the beginning of 2014, for a total of nearly 3,500 acres burnt. And we still have eleven months to go. And since the US National Park Service estimates that 90% of wildfires are caused by humans, the chances are good that your cigarette will light us up like a Burning Man bonfire. I’ll be sure you get the bill.

2) Diaper changing – I know this needs to be done when you’re out and about with your younglings, so I don’t have a problem so much with the actual act of changing, as long as you’re not doing it while I’m trying to eat or in the middle of a grocery aisle. It’s what you do with that dirty diaper once you’re done with it. Like leave it sitting in the parking spot you just left. It’s especially fun on those 110° days at the height of summer, when that smell meets you at the corner and haunts you all the way to the main doors. Don’t want it in your car? There are these things called trashcans. Most businesses have them in their lots or by their front entrances. Too lazy to walk that far? Too fucking bad. You had the kid, and the mess is part of the package. Get a diaper bag, get a shopping bag, get something, but don’t leave it for me to experience because I will hunt you down and leave it burning on your front porch.

3) Careless carts – this one really gets me, because it’s so common. Shopping carts left helter-skelter, anywhere, everywhere, over here, over there, over hill, over dale, but don’t dare get near the cart rack. The grocery store I shop at has cart racks about every ten parking spaces, so it’s not like you have to hike down the block to put the thing back. But not even that helps. There was an SUV parked right next to one of those sad little botanical strips that seem to be so popular in parking lots, and on the other side of that strip was the cart rack. A man unloads his groceries into the SUV and then looks like he’s headed for the rack, but what does he do? He tips the front end up onto the strip and then gets in his vehicle and drives away. The cart is now partially into the driving lane, not three feet from the rack. THREE FUCKING FEET!!! Just how lazy do you have to be to not manage three feet? It’s the “it’s not my job” mentality. The public doesn’t think it has to clean up after itself because somebody else will. Well, you know what, asswipe? I was taught to clean up after myself because that’s what personal responsibility means, so get off your high horse or the next time you come out of the store, your car will be surrounded by carts three deep just waiting to scratch your paint.

4) Cell phone parenting – another fan favorite. Kids running rampant through the store while oblivious parent is glued to their cell phone exchanging gossip with their sister/BFF/husband/mother/whatever. I have yet to overhear (and you can’t help but overhear, since the only volume seems to be LOUD) a conversation that was so important it had to be taken care of that minute. Unless of course, you think (enter name here)’s sexual exploits/(enter name here)’s drunken tirade/(enter name here)’s explosive diarrhea/(enter name here)’s secret Mom shouldn’t know is that important. Instant communication has made us a culture of rude, stupid and careless morons. My cell phone is for my convenience, not yours, and I don’t have the Pavlovian response so many of you do when the damn thing rings. Get off the phone and be a parent. Stores are not playgrounds. The next time I see your kids bouncing down the aisles playing with toys they just ripped off the shelf, they’ll see what it’s like to meet the Sorta Wicked Witch of the Pacific Northwest and her stew pot.

I could go on and on. Being a bit OCD, lots of things set off my dumbfuck radar. But these are the ones that I keep experiencing, time after time, day after day. Most of you reading this will probably understand and nod sagely in agreement, while the ones who really need these lessons won’t think they apply. If you’re one of the latter, guess what – you’re a lazy-assed fucktard and you’ve pissed off the wrong crazy cat lady. Beware incoming hairballs…

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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Humans are arrogant sons-of-bitches – as individuals, in our teams, our tribes, our cultures, our countries, as an entire planet. We think we know everything and we are the end all and be all of the whole universe. We, of course, couldn’t be more wrong. But that doesn’t stop some of us from shouting our arrogance from the mountaintops. And usually it’s the stupidest among us shouting the loudest.

I recently read an article shared on Facebook by two friends I consider polar opposites in most of their political views. That fact alone was enough for me to hit the link and see for myself what had spurred these two into such action. The article is entitled “The Death of Expertise,” written by Tom Nichols for the Federalist. You can check it out for yourself here. It really struck me. It hit on a point that I have witnessed and worried about for some time. Mr. Nichols expresses the concept much more eloquently than I, but the gist is that our society has rejected giving weight to the educated opinions of experts (read: scientists and the like) and declared all opinions equal, regardless of actual facts. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, all opinions are not created equal. And freedom to have your opinion doesn’t equate to freedom from consequences as a result of your opinion.

I have directly experienced this problem. I have a degree in music education from one of the best music universities in the nation. I was trained to be an instrumental music teacher, and, as such, can play any standard band or orchestra instrument at least at the basic level. I also know music history, theory, composition and conducting. I started noodling on the piano at two, playing tunes by ear, and later spent a good many years actually making money as a performer. So, it could be considered that I am an “expert” in music.

A friend of mine, who has exactly none of my experience or education, declared one day during a conversation on music that the violin and the fiddle were two different instruments. When I informed him that they were indeed the same instrument, just played differently, he proceeded to argue the point with me for the next hour. He insisted that I was wrong in my opinion. He would not accept my expertise in the field of music as being valid because he had heard the differences, and there just wasn’t any way possible they could be the same instrument. He had made up his mind and that trumped all my years of experience (three of which were actually solely on violin)[1].

This is, sadly, a common problem with humans. As Mr. Nichols states in his article:

“…it’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says, in sum, that the dumber you are, the more confident you are that you’re not actually dumb. And when you get invested in being aggressively dumb…well, the last thing you want to encounter are experts who disagree with you, and so you dismiss them in order to maintain your unreasonably high opinion of yourself.”

Sound familiar? Political pundits seem to fall into this more than most, but any one of us can probably point to several people within our circles of relationships that fit the definition to a tee. If they take Stephen Colbert seriously, instead of recognizing his entire act is sarcasm, then they might have a problem. Opinion and fact are two entirely different animals, but our polarized political environment here in the US has blurred the lines beyond recognition.

As a writer, – and, more specifically, a science fiction writer – I do my best to support my wacky future ideas on actual science. That means I do a lot of research. That research depends not on opinion but on fact. Let’s look at that word – fact – for a minute. Dictionary.com defines fact thusly:

1.  something that actually exists; reality; truth

2.  something known to exist or to have happened

3.  a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true

4.  something said to be true or supposed to have happened

Facts are determined by observation, experience, empirical testing and supported by evidence. It is a fact that my hair is now mostly silver instead of brunette. It is opinion that the silver is prettier than the brunette. You can support the former statement by direct observation of my hair, while the latter can vary from person to person.

But facts long accepted by the majority are now suddenly under attack by right wing extremists. Science has been declared so much hokum developed only to attack the truth as determined by a book of allegories written thousands of years ago. And yes, there are those in the scientific fields that are as equally convinced science is the only true path. The mentality is “there can be only one,” a declaration I find interesting because I don’t believe the two have to be mutually exclusive. Science answers questions of the real world, while theology serves to answer the questions of spirituality and faith. They are two sides of the same coin. Science hasn’t answered everything yet, so we must depend on faith for the rest.

This is where that human arrogance comes in. Each of us is convinced, in our own little worlds, that we are absolutely right, we know everything, and everyone else is an idiot. Sorry, folks, but that’s not the case. We are barely motes in the grand scheme of the universe. Yes, we’ve mapped the human genome, but we still have no idea what most of it does or how which part relates/affects/negates others. We’ve traveled to the moon and by remote to Mars, and yet we still haven’t figured out how to get off oil and not pollute the only place we have to live.

For us to progress as individuals and as a species we must be open to possibilities. Steadfastly holding on to opinions that have no support in facts stifles growth. Declaring an opinion and then refusing to accept the consequences such opinion might bring, is an ignorant close-minded approach to the world.  Real democracy requires real dialogue, and real dialogue requires open minds. We can’t be afraid to have our ideas challenged. We must encourage debate, and we must have that debate supported by facts, not ideological fantasies.

Most importantly, we need to get over ourselves and accept the fact we might be wrong.

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.


[1] For the record, violin and fiddle are physically one and the same, and Diffen.com has a nice explanation for you.

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So, I follow this crazy guy named Chuck Wendig, whose blog is called terribleminds. Besides being a total wack-a-doodle with a major potty mouth, he’s also a pretty darn good writer. Read his fiction for a rollicking profanity-laced escape, or his non-fiction for helpful writing tips in between imaginative (and often disturbing) invectives. You’ll probably need to go to confession afterwards, though.

Anyway, he posted a flash fiction writing challenge last week. The idea is to generate a random title using dice or a random number generator and then write a story to match the title. It’s been so long since I played with my gaming dice, I had to do it just for the excuse to dig them out and roll them across my desktop. That, and I’m trying to find ways to dig out of my rut step out of my comfort zone and challenge my skills. So I decided to take on the task.

The random title that came up was “Flight of the God.” I was quite unimpressed with that one. I had hoped to get something colorful that might spark something, but I’m not one of those people who keeps rolling dice until I got the numbers I want, so I stuck it into the Mobius loop of a brain I have and let it fester for a few days. I came up with the first line and the last line pretty quickly. The rest kind of wrote itself.

Tell me what you think. And, yes, it’s pretty obvious now that I need to be on more medication.

Flight of the God

It all began when Harold declared the game over.

“You’re just pissed because you’re not winning.” I sighed, glaring at him as Bast rolled her green eyes in frustration.

“You’re cheating!” he growled. His eyes glowed redder than usual.

“How can we cheat when there are no rules?” Loki asked. He was perched on the back of the couch between Harold and Bast, cradling a bowl of popcorn in his lap. “It’s not our fault you have no imagination.”

“Everything has rules,” Harold sputtered. “Even chaos has rules. How can a game have no rules?”

Max – we called him that because Camaxtli was just too much – leaned forward in the wing-backed chair he always claimed as his own, his gaze intense, and gave Harold a smile that was more warning than support. “Think of it this way: having no rules IS the rule.”

“You’re not helping,” scowled Harold. His cologne smelled like sulfur and only got worse as he grew more agitated. Wrinkling her petite nose in distaste, Bast eased her slim form off the couch and slinked to the bar in the corner.

“Mebd, dear, remind me again why we invited him?” she purred, popping the top on a fresh beer.

I dropped my face into my hands and let loose a groan. “Because the boss said we all need to mingle more. Something about gaining new understanding and acceptance.”

“I think Harold’s a fine addition,” Loki grinned. He clapped the brooding hulk on the back. “He just needs to loosen up a bit. Bring him a beer, won’t you, Kitty?”

“You know I hate it when you call me that.” Pulling a couple more bottles out of the mini-frig, Bast casually strolled back to the couch, her almond-shaped eyes narrowing in silent threat as she handed over the beer. Loki only grinned larger.

“Maybe we should have started with something more normal,” Max ventured. “Risk, or Civilization, maybe.”

“Fizzbin,” said Loki, his eyes twinkling with mischief. “Fizzbin would have been perfect.”

“That’s little better than Calvin-ball.” Bast returned to her favored spot on the couch, tucking her feet up beneath her. She always looked so regal, no matter how she moved or what she wore and it really annoyed me. “But I think Max is right. We should try something simpler. To help Harold get up to speed. He hasn’t been out much, so we should be more sympathetic.”

“You’re right,” I nodded. Glancing at the three of them sitting across from me, I couldn’t help but think the start of a good joke was there somewhere. “How about Risk? I have the Lord of the Rings version.”

“Oh! Dibs on the elves!” from Loki. “I’ll clear the table.” He rose to his bare feet and handed the popcorn to Harold. “Try some. It has real butter.”

Sullenly, Harold accepted the bowl and dug his ragged nails into the kernels.

It took me a while to figure out exactly what happened next, it all happened so fast. Loki had barely cleared the coffee table when a flock of white doves erupted from the bowl of popcorn, right into Harold’s face. I’ll never forget his expression. A mixture between horror and surprise and rage. In his line of work, I could almost understand.

The next thing I know, Harold had Loki by the scruff of the neck and his shorts and launched him out the nearest window. Didn’t even bother to open it first. We could hear Loki cackling all the way down to the rainbow bridge.

Harold stormed out, bits of skin sizzling from where the doves had touched him. He left quite the cloud of sulfur behind, and slammed the door so hard it broke off the hinges.

Max sighed and shook his head at me. “I warned Loki about initiating Harold. I told him to pass on this one.”

“Like Loki listens to anyone,” yawned Bast. She blinked at me, unfazed by the outburst. “So, Risk?”

I sighed and nodded, and went to retrieve the game from the hall closet.

Needless to say, that was the last time Harold came for gaming night. Demons just have no sense of humor.

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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My head is still mush from being sick and I’m having a hard time concentrating on even the simplest of things, so please forgive me while I recycle another article from my days with Examiner.com.  I chose this one and gave it a polish because I need the reminder. Hopefully it will give you something to think about as well.

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Must of us aren’t lucky enough to make a living off being a full-time writer.  And, quite honestly, most of us probably aren’t good enough, either.  The luck part we can’t do much about but the good part we can.  Writing is as much skill as it is talent.  To develop and maintain a skill means working at it every day – learning, training and doing – as seriously as one might train for a marathon.

But we all have reasons why we don’t write everyday.  Work has been a nightmare.  The kids are sick.  There are chores to be done, dogs to be washed, bills to be paid and families to be fed.  There’s always something that makes it to the top of the list, constantly pushing writing down and down and down into the basement of our priorities until it nearly disappears.

It’s time to stop coming up with excuses.  Here are some reasons to put it at the top of your task list:

10.Extra money:  Bloggers, bloggers everywhere and not a writer to read.  The Internet has caused an explosive demand for content, so much so that you don’t have to be really good to get web-published.  While the pay for individual articles, blog entries, reviews, etc. is not spectacular, there is a lot of opportunity and that $20 or $30 here and there can quickly add up.

9.   Practice:  Like the old joke that asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” with the answer “Practice, practice, practice,” writing everyday keeps you mentally nimble.  Even if you manage only a paragraph or two in the beginning, you’ll find each day gets a little bit easier.  Before you know it you’ll have a finished project and a glowing sense of self-satisfaction.

8.   Because you can:  You aren’t just skilled, you have talent.  Time to share it.  Whether it’s just for your family or the public forum, you need to let it out and show off.  Give us the beauty of your words.

7.   You have something to say:  We all have that occasional epiphany that just might make the difference for someone.  Or we’re going through something that is easier to deal with when shared.  It doesn’t have to be anything more complicated than discovering a new way to fold socks for your toddler, but in today’s busy world where moms are juggling a thousand things at a time, that new way just might be the time saver someone needed.

6.   Memories:  It used to be pictures and clipped hair in a baby book.  Now it’s digital video on a computer.  But words still need to go with that.  You need to explain for posterity who was there, what was going on, when the event took place, where you were, why it was happening and how you felt about the whole thing.  Some day you’re going to look back at that video and you won’t remember all the details.  And if you don’t have video or pictures, then what?

5.   Self-discipline:  Interestingly enough, there seems to be some indication that if you can develop a regular routine in just one thing in your life, adapting a new routine for another aspect is easier.  Giving your writing a set time every day could lead to the rest of your life becoming better organized.  Maybe you’ll even start that exercise program you keep talking about.

4.   Therapy:  Every now and then we just need to vent and it doesn’t always require a trip to the counselor.  Anger, depression, frustration – whatever the issue, writing about it can often exercise the demons and allow us to develop a strategy to face the situation in a more positive light.

3.   To support the cause:  In our instant-gratification, short-attention-span-theater world, good writing is a dying art.  E-mails and text messaging, with their versions of shorthand, have taken the place of handwritten letters and notes.  Don’t let this brusque, life-less form of communication take over.

2.   To be an example:  You put your children on a schedule; they get up for school, go to soccer practice, take their piano lesson, do their homework, and go to bed at the same time every night.  They are our future.  And they watch you.  What do you want them to see?

1.   If you don’t you’ll die:  It’s not a literal death, but the psychological death of a thousand cuts.  You didn’t choose to write, you HAVE to write. If you don’t get those words out, they will fester inside until you explode.  Not using them destroys you a little at a time.  Let them out to nourish you instead.

Each of you can probably find more, but these are the reasons that immediately came to mind.  Whatever your reasons for not writing, there are just as many and more TO write.  Take some of these, find your own, do whatever, just get those words out.  Everything else will be so much better then.

  © 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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