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Playing God

The snake convulsively curled and uncurled around the mass of pulped organs that used to be its stomach.

It wasn’t a big snake, maybe a foot and a half long at most, which probably explains why it lost so badly when it went up against a car tire while trying to cross the road.

I found the snake at the end of the nose used by Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, as he sniffed his way through his latest walk.

The snake didn’t look good at all. Most of its middle was smushed along one side, as if the car had only crushed one side of it as its massively heavy weight rolled over the small reptile.

My heart broke for the snake.

Yes, really.

I’ve always had these strangely timed bouts of empathy. Which goes a long way toward explaining the Incident Of The Flounder On The Floorboards.

See, I’d gone river fishing in St. Augustine with my Dad and a dude I’ve known since grade school, who I’ll call. . . um. . . John.

Anyway, we were pretty successful and managed to pull in a couple of pretty good eating fish. The prize of which collection had to be the A flounder is a fish with a bit of a mutation concerning its eyes. Because it is a bottom dweller, the flounder faces danger only coming from above so it evolved to have both of its eyes on the same side of its head so it can look up all the time.nice flounder I pulled off the bottom of the river and into our boat.

To keep the fish alive, we slid a twine into their mouths and then out their gills, effectively leashing them to the side of the boat, while still allowing them to breathe enough to survive. Eventually, we’d caught enough fish and headed on home. We put the string of fish on the floorboards in the car and headed out.

And I kept looking down at the Flounder and it kept staring up at me. With both eyes at the same time. Flounder are creepy that way. My heart broke for the flounder. So I took a wet towel and dropped it over the flounder, not to hide its face from me, but to give it enough water to keep it alive for a bit longer.

To keep it alive. I was trying to keep alive this fish that we were about to gut, then cut off its head and then fillet it before cooking it and eating it. No, I didn’t think it through all the way, that’s for sure.

All of which flashed through my brain when I stepped up next to the snake. There was no way the reptile was going to make it, especially considering that the midsection of its body was, essentially, glued to the cement by its own body gunk.

The only thing it could do was to die slowly, in agony, writhing on the hot cement of the roadway.

Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, was bored. Since I wasn’t going to let him eat the snake, he had wandered off to sniff some bushes and maybe scent a few himself.

I stayed with the snake, lending it some of my shade, and thought about the flounder. Buzz tugged at the leash harder and harder, impatient to get going.

I picked up my foot, ready to turn and leave, when the flounder’s face flashed through my brain again. Good? Bad? Indifferent? Right? Wrong?

Did it matter in the face of a short lifetime’s worth of unending agony? My heart broke for the snake.

 

I slammed my foot down onto the road, crushing the snake’s skull.

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One Is The Loneliest Number, And Also The Number Of Bills In Your Wallet

Loneliness doesn’t only prey on your soul, dudes, but it also might prey on your finances.

I thought about this as I was down in Florida basking in the sun, the surf and the good friends, along with the memories they bring and the memories we form each year.

It’s not like I have a life filled with friends. I’ve got acquaintances, and lots of them, but very few actual, close friends. And that’s rather the way I like it.

Which means that I’m not all that lonely, for which I am thankful quite often.

And a good thing, too. Because, according to some rather recent research, people who define themselves as lonely are more likely to make risky financial decisions.

People who feel socially excluded tend to make riskier financial decisions than their popular peers. The effects are so marked, says the scientist who led these studies, that major financial decisions such as choosing a mortgage or pension should never be made in the wake of a major social upset, such as a relationship break-up or even a serious argument with friends.

Rod Duclos, assistant professor of marketing at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the findings, which he presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Hawaii, “should come as a word of caution to consumers” and singled out older people as being particularly vulnerable.

Many patients find that it’s a good idea to bring along a friend for an especially important medical appointment, someone who can listen with a bit more detachment to what the doctor is saying. This second pair of ears can often hear the important things that a more emotionally involved patient might miss.

In the same manner, Duclos recommended that people might want to bring along a friend to important financial appointments. Not so much as to provide a second set of ears and eyes, as in the medical model, but so that the feeling of belonging could combat any sense of loneliness, which leads to making risky decisions.

There’s your practical application. But what’s really going on here?

Duclos explains that in a world where there are two basic means to get what we want, popularity and money, the unpopular place a stronger emphasis on cash to smooth their path through life, and are thus more willing to take big risks that carry bigger potential rewards. His findings add to a series of studies from all over the world, showing that our love affair with money varies according to how socially connected we feel.

Compared with the “in-crowd”, those who feel socially adrift are less inclined to donate to needy orphans, show a stronger desire for money, and feel more anxious when thinking about their last spending spree. The lonelier you are, the more likely you are to splash out on accessories signifying group membership, such as branded clothing or leisurewear with sport logos, to boost a sense of belonging. Fascinatingly, that anxiety and stress can be partly relieved by allowing people to touch real money.

A very important bit of advice there. I’m thinking the young dudes and dudettes might need to be insulated from this a bit. Not that we should sit them down and tell them they need to make sure they’re popular so they will make good financial decisions, or, even worse, the opposite. Can you imagine?

“Son, you’re not a popular kid. In fact, most of the other dudes run the other way when you come near. So I’d like you to be especially careful when you decide to spend or make money. Okay? Good talk. Good talk.”

Bad parent. No cookie for you.

Still, it might be something for us, as parents and as people, to keep our eyes on.


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Another Peek At The Future

by Richard

The future keeps breaking through into the present, usually in ways we never thought it would.

For instance, today I’m getting ready to take Sarcasmo on a trip to Idaho for a look at another bit of education. I’m coming back. He’s not.

Hyper Lad is away at Camp Cheerio.

The only one of the young dudes still home is Zippy the Monkey Boy, who just returned from a near-month-long trip to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia (makes me wish I was one of my own kids) and is getting ready to head off to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in just about a month.

So we’re down to one kid, two adults, two cats, a dog and a bird.

Yeah, the nest officially is getting a little bit emptier.

Especially considering Zippy the Monkey Boy is the type to sleep in until someone goes into his room and tips his bed over onto the floor. Mornings are going to be pretty quiet for the next little while.

I guess it’s something I’ll have to get used to.

When school starts up Aug. 27, it’s going to be quite real and quite quiet.

Hyper Lad is off to school by 8:30 am and that’s it. Nothing to do with kids until he gets home near 5 pm.

Still not sure how this is going to work. I mean, I haven’t had to cook for only three people (one child) for a long, long time. I have a feeling I’m going to be making a lot of accidental leftovers for the first couple of months.

Maybe I can buy that huge storage fridge I’ve had my eye on for a while. Get a place to put the stuff away . . . Well, realistically, never look at it again. Making leftovers? Yeah, I’m good at that. Serving leftovers? Not so much.

Of course, with Zippy the Monkey Boy leaving the house, our grocery bill will almost immediately come down a substantial amount since I’ll no longer have to buy his, and his alone, normal ration of 2.5 gallons of milk per week.

Ah well. That’s in the future, which is only waving hi this week. I’m sure it’ll be coming for a much longer visit next month.

Until then. . .

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