Thursday, April 28, 2011

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Adaptation of the Species became controversial from the beginning. He came up with the idea after making a trip to the Galapagos Islands where he observed some of the weird animal life in that remote place. There were birds without wings and other oddities. That was way back in 1836. The Theory was introduced in his famous book on the subject and became a real hot topic after the famous Scopes or Monkey Trial in 1925.

The writer, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote a humorous book called Galapagos in which he described a tour boat on its way to the island when everyone else in the world died, but the folks on the boat survived. When they reached the island they started to adapt and evolve back to lower forms and their offspring, a million years into the future, had taken on many animal features and developed a much smaller brain because the big brain wasn’t needed anymore. Mark Twain, in a similar theory, said that man had descended from the monkey.

All these guys may have been right. We have been messing with Mother Nature in a big way and as a result we are going through some strange adaptations. We have overpopulated the planet and the human species has made some peculiar adaptations. People have a hard time getting along with each other and as a result we have wars to keep the population thinned. Another change that has occurred is the increasing role of the woman to be a breadwinner because of the need to afford all the junk we buy. The woman’s increasing role as a breadwinner and worker have taken her out of the home and business of child bearing. Her new role is a natural form of birth control. The career development path for women has also made child bearing occur at an older age, thus limiting the number of children in a family as well as producing a whole new set of diseases that have weakened the species.

Homosexuality is another form of population control that is a form of adaptation for our species. We are the only species of animal that practices the act of homosexuality. The other animals have predators that keep their population trimmed. Humans have no predators except for themselves. As a result, Mother Nature has taken care of the problem by increasing the number of homosexuals to control reproduction.

Darwin, Vonnegut and Twain all make sense. Maybe as we continue to descend from the ape to lower forms we will have predators that will help take care of our population problem. The government that has been our source of strength has now grown into a monster that threatens to consume us. So, we are adapting to control our population explosion through government intervention in our lives. Mother Nature is also helping with the earthquakes, tsunamis and tornados.

So, I think we are evolving and adapting to control our population growth. I differ from Darwin in my belief that we are descending rather than ascending from the ape.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My back is killing me. We are in the process of moving and I have been packing books all day. Fortunately, a very strong young man is really doing most of the work and I have just been sorting and handing him the books that he rapidly packs into boxes. The boxes now fill a large room and I have given several boxes to the Salvation Army.

It’s hard to believe I have read a lot of those book and my wife has also read a big share. I wish I had retained a fraction of the contents. Just about every genre is represented. There are biographies, history, and every type of fiction including; science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and historical novels. I have a wide variety of chidren’s books, cook books and books on gardening. There are how-to books on just about every subject from plumbing to auto repair. I have many books on religion and a large collection of Bibles. I am most proud that I have the complete works of Mark Twain by several publishers and large collections on the Civil War and the History of Medicine. In addition I have many medical books and textbooks from college and medical school.

All these books are like old friends. I reminisce as I carefully handle each one. They are old friends I have known for well over half a century. They have informed me, but more importantly they have entertained me. They have helped me take flight into other worlds and some places that exist only in the imagination or a dream. Through these books I have solved mysteries with Sherlock Holmes fought battles with Robert E. Lee and sailed around the world with Tristan Jones. Over and over again, I have laughed at the humor of Mark Twain and savored his satire and view of the world. I have explored the imaginary worlds created by Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien. I have done all these things without leaving the house. Many of these books accompanied me as I passed through the valley of death recovering from cancer surgery. Yes, indeed they have been my good friends.

As I packed the books I occasionally thought about how much they had cost. I could have retired a few years earlier if my money had not been spent on the habit of reading, but yet I may have earned much less if I had not acquired some of the knowledge contained within the pages of my library. Anyway the inventory of my books as we pack them is worth the pain in my back.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

During my life, I have been fortunate enough to sit on some fairly important Boards and be advised by several knowledgeable people. All that has now passed. I now live a life of relative obscurity. My wife and children are my main advisors. Now, outside of the family my Barber would have to rank as my top advisor and primary source of information. I had rather sit in his shop and listen to him and his customers than for any Board meeting I could attend.

My barber is really a great source of useful and entertaining information. He is better than the internet, Wall Street Journal, local newspaper, CNN, Fox News, People magazine, Sports Illustrated and just about everything else combined. He is more accurate than most polls and is always correct in predicting the outcome of an election or the winner of a sporting event. What I like about him is that he is not the least bit arrogant about his encyclopedic knowledge. He also advises me about my yard, the weather and a host of other things pertinent to everyday living. Not only does he fill me with a head full of information and gossip, he makes me look good in the process. He administers a perfect haircut and trims all the excess hair growing form my eyebrows, nose and ears. I get a shoulder massage and a touch of hairspray to boot.

I only wish President Obama, Governor Rick Perry and some of our politicians could have him for a barber. I believe he would be able to help with some of our economic problems. Unfortunately, most would not buy into his recommendations because they would stress honesty and hard work.

The 12 dollars I pay for a haircut is well worth it. It’s a lot more than the 25 cents I paid when I was a kid but it’s much cheaper than a visit to a psychiatrist office or to a movie where I pay that much for a bag of popcorn and a coke.

My barber is growing old along with me. He now sits down to cut hair but does a fantastic job. Going to his shop has become one of the few reasons for me to leave the porch. I always come back looking a little better and a whole lot smarter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

As we prepare to move to a new home we are in the process of trying to downsize. That is a very tough job. Parting with some of the stuff we have collected for over 50 years can be very emotional. I save a lot of stuff for sentimental reasons, and other things I have collected thinking they would increase in value after they were no longer made or easily obtained. It seems that everyone my age has been doing the same and the world is now overrun with collectibles. The baby boomers have now reached retirement and folks are just living longer, so there is a lot more of this collectible stuff. It has become worthless and of little value. It also fills a lot of boxes when packing.

As I sit here at my desk, typing this blog, I’m looking at little figurines and bust of some of my heroes like, Mark Twain, St. Luke, Hemingway, Shakespeare and Asbel Smith. I have a nice metal coaster with the emblem of the State of Texas and some other assorted junk. I might get about 50 cents for the whole lot of stuff in an estate sale. When cleaning out my attic I found a Life magazine published when JFK was assassinated with his picture on the front cover. I saw one of these recently in a junk store and it’s value was less than the original price. Gold class rings, silver tea sets and other such metal objects are now worth more melted than in their molded state of beauty.

I thought my kids might want some of my priceless stuff, but they have their own collection of junk that will be in need of disposal. I don’t think there is enough landfill space to take care of all the trash everyone my age has now collected.

I’m throwing away as much as my nervous system can stand, but we will be moving far move than necessary. All I can do is hope that the eventual estate sale will give someone a little satisfaction. I only wish I could discover someway to convert everyone’s collectibles and other junk into fuel. It would definitely solve the energy problem.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Henry David Thoreau has always been one of my heroes. He built a small cabin adjacent to Walden Pond near Concord, Mass. He lived there by himself, several miles from civilization, and communicated with nature for a couple of years. He lived very simply with just the very basics for life support. He walked through the woods, and rowed on the waters of Walden Pond, as he observed nature and wrote about it in what was to be one of the greatest books in American Literature, Walden. He was a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the other intellectuals in Concord. Thoreau died when he was only 44 years old. As he was dying, someone ask if he had made peace with God and he said, “I didn’t know we had argued.”

Thoreau’s main message was to simplify your life. He would not be proud of me. We are in the process of moving and are trying to throw away tons of useless, unessential garbage we have accumulated in over 50 years of marriage. The audio visual stuff including; reel to reel tapes, tapes cassettes, 8 tracks, vinyl 45 and 33 1/3 records, VHS, CDs and DVDs is enough to make Thoreau throw up. Most of my electronic equipment, including a box of old cell phones, belongs in the Smithsonian. We have a dish antenna on the roof beaming a picture to four television sets with news about who killed who in Waco and Killeen. I’m addicted to the computer with things like e-mail and facebook. I am literally saturated with unessential information and have crowded out space for treasures like Walden.

As we prepare to move into our new home there is a part of me that longs to be a Thoreau, and be content with moving into a simple one room house with a bed, a writing table and a fireplace. At one time I had a cabin, almost like Thoreau’s, located in the piney woods of East Texas. The house did have indoor plumbing and running water, but it was as divine a place as I have seen on the planet. It was like a porch that was a permanent dwelling place. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Enough daydreaming. It’s back to packing. I have a book collection that is large enough to start a small Library of Congress. There are some paperbacks that are so ancient the pages are brittle and yellow, but throwing them away would be like shooting an old friend. Even Thoreau wouldn’t want me to throw them away.