The Key

It’s a symbolic scrap of flat metal.  It was shaped to perform a function but deeper than simple function–especially when your girl gives it to you.  Golden, cold, she packed it in a used Tiffany box; the light blue container was repurposed and given carefully to him.  Maybe he perceived the care, maybe it was really there, but the delicate handoff didn’t matter as much as the gravity of the symbolism.

Come and go as you like, it said.  I trust you, it said.  I want you here, it said.  You are always welcome, it said.

She knew he understood, but maybe she didn’t know that he understood.

He had to pull the door against the frame to make it turn and the dog always went ape shit at the sound of it.  Each time, when the dog saw it was him, her demeanor changed instantly from guard dog to teddy bear.  He sort of liked her guard-dog nature…it protected the valuables behind the door.  The girl was the only valuable that resided there and the rest of the apartment could have been empty–it wouldn’t have mattered to him.  Everything else, all of it, was just stuff.  The girl and the teddy-bear-guard-dog were the things key protected.  Those two were the symbolism of that key, and he desperately appreciated the gift. She would never know how deeply.


GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 06:  Staff at Woolworths dismantle shelving as stores close across the country on January 6, 2009 in Glasgow, Scotland. People have been looking for last minute bargains as Woolworths stores set to close their doors for the final time.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Retail Is In A Dogfight

The rules are rapidly changing.  The face of commodity-buying is undergoing a major paradigm shift.  Online shopping has gone viral.  Once upon a time, online shopping was on seriously unsteady footing.  People were worried about putting their information out there in the ether, the infant online industry wasn’t trusted, and they didn’t have their shit together in terms of shipping prices and time frames either.  The lack of regulation could mean that you send your card info, get charged, and never get the product you were trying to buy.  But that was yesterday.

Today, even start-up websites are mostly trusted by the general public.  Shipping is often reasonable or free, and time frames for receiving your product have drastically improved.  Typically you can get anything you order within a day or two.  Still too slow for some people, but shoppers are starting to learn how to wait.  They’ll exchange convenience for immediate satisfaction.  Standing in a line at checkout is soo last week.  Who has time for that anymore?  

It may seem counter-intuitive.  We’re not willing to wait in line for ten minutes, but we are willing to wait two days.  Interesting.  But if you break it down, it’s not the standing in line, it’s the time it takes to get in your car, drive to a location that sells the product you’re looking for, stand in line, then drive back.  And then there’s that burden of interacting with someone…I could have been watching hilarious YouTube videos during that time…the price we pay in fuel and time become more of a loss than the shipping charge.  At any rate, on most things, we’ve decided we can wait for the product to arrive.

Some exceptions might be clothing or any wearable that we need to try on to make sure the fit is right, or things we need right away because of lack of planning.  Be careful retailers, when the world can figure out how to get these commodities to you in less than an hour, and when virtual reality can show you the fit of clothing on your actual body, you’re over.

Retail is in trouble.  Circuit City fell apart. Linens n Things, Blockbuster, Sports Authority, and Borders Bookstores are all casualties of a constricting retail market.  Many retailers are thinning down store operations and focusing on building their online presence.  If they don’t, they’ll join the list of ever-increasing casualties.  Additionally, in attempts to save money, retailers have made substantial labor cuts, eliminating associates with expert product knowledge, and creating a void of help to be found on the sales floor while shopping.  Amazon suddenly becomes an even better option since we can usually find exactly what we’re looking for within seconds there.

So what does it mean for jobs in America?  It means that “retail professional” is no longer a play for job seekers.  Service and logistics are on the uptick.  Manufacturing jobs are moving off-shore.  The foreseeable future puts “online product support” in a viable category for inevitable growth.  Virtual malls, the “endless aisle” and low overhead make online selling more attractive to retailers.  Online stores don’t necessarily need to have capital tied up in product, they can modify their purchasing as the order comes in, rather than purchasing product, setting it on a shelf and using an algorithm and a slide rule to calculate turns to decide if the buyer made a good purchasing decision.  They can dictate when they stop selling a product, they simply sell through what stock they do own and then, with a few key strokes, they pull it from the website.  Price changes are a simple matter of data entry.  

Retailers will eventually vanish.  Plan accordingly.

img_1267-3

Pride

When the soul drips and drains from flesh,

And cold slips and wanes one’s breath,

Deeply exhale bright life to death,

Feebly rest, fail, fight, with knife to chest…

~

Words cant quell the shade inside the mind,

Heard echoes fell and fade and lied divine,

Rivets in steel shake loose in quakes,

Divots in fields take roots as lakes.

~

So crawl from scratched and beaten earth,

Or fall from detached, conceited worth,

It makes no difference in the end,

I’ll  take no pittance of a mend.

moon

Our Moon

The full moon is bright, like a giant, curved mirror reflecting the light of the sun down on the Earth.  It actually makes things cast shadows.  The trees in the backyard reach up to it, confused by the lack of warmth.  They know they need the light, they crave it, despite the weakness of it compared to the moon’s febrile counterpart.

Its anomalous.  Light without heat barely makes sense, even to the perfection of nature.  There is something magical about it.  Something that was known but is now lost.  Nature has rules and the moon is more  important than people think.

I have a Farmer’s Almanac from the 1800’s.  Plant potatoes during a full moon in the third quarter.  Onions too.  Grapes, berries, winter wheat.  It sounds like witchcraft.  The practice is old and damn near lost, but it meant something.  It meant healthier crops, and bigger yields.

When the moon is full or new, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun are combined and they pull at the Earth creating tides.  The water sloshes around because the Earth cant hold onto its own water.

In a symbiotic dance, the moon affects us.  It’s an interesting relationship to something that is so far away.  The effect of the moon hits us from almost 239,000 miles away.  Maybe it is witchcraft, maybe it’s science, maybe it’s nature’s way of reminding us that there are forces at work that must remain a mystery.  We think we’ve figured it out, but the only thing we’ve done is learned how to work with some of the forces the moon inflicts upon us.

It is romantic, and it is lonely, but when it is close, or full, or orange, it gives me pause.  It reminds me of my place, reminds me, just for an instant, that it is still possible to stop and smell the flowers for a moment, giving me a flash of wherewithal of mental reflection in this ultra-fast-paced world.

img_1266

In 2017, I Figured Out Life.

Everyone has a self image problem.  I usually say I’m against absolute, broad generalizations like this, but this just might be the only case where it’s appropriate.  I think I’ve always subconsciously known this, I’ve just never really stopped to think about it because I’ve been too busy working on my own self image.  

The problem is so deep.  It’s the reason diets exist, the reason gyms stay in business, the very reason plastic surgery is an actual thing.  It’s the reason for the fashion industry’s existence.  Clothing, jewelry, makeup, body spray, facial cleanser, and the whole beauty supply and hair care industry relies on the poor self images of the masses.

Functionality has crossed over into improving self image.  Cars are barely a source of transportation as much as they are a statement of style and status.  We have forsaken functionality for self image props to make us feel better about ourselves.  Watches are no longer used for the function of timekeeping, they are fashion statements.  

I look around and when I remove the veil, I can see it everywhere.  Why does my neighbor work so hard on his lawn?  Shit, why do I?  Why do I iron my shirts? Why do I brush my hair?  Why do I care if I get along with others? 

A part of me realizes that some of these things are necessary to function within the construct of this self-image obsessed society.  But it sucks you in and then you become a lemming, where everyone cares about the same shit.  There is an illusion there, too, because there are so many products that help with self image, it feels like I don’t care about the same shit other people care about.  I like this brand of <whatever> over this other brand, therefore it’s obvious that we care about different things.  Broaden the perspective, though, and you’ll see.  The same thing everyone cares about is self image.  It’s not the products we choose, it’s not the car we drive, or the new belt we just got from Nordstrom’s that differentiate us.  Nothing differentiates us.  Those individual items are a microcosim.  We’re looking through a microscope when we should be seeing things through a telescope.  The macro zoom makes us look different, but we’re not, we’re clones,  jockeying for position in a pointless race.

We can’t change though, because we’ve been indoctrinated into this over generations.  People are depressed because they feel like they can’t keep up.  If the Joneses have it, maybe I need it too because look how happy they are.  But what we don’t see is that the Joneses are fucking miserable too, and we don’t see it because we watch their lives through an Instagram filter that they chose us to see them through.  None of this bullshit is real.  And everyone’s depressed and in catch-up mode against a fake vision of a utopian destination to which they’ll never arrive.

Those are nice shoes.  That’s a nice suit.  They make you look successful.  They make me feel that I should listen to what you have to say because maybe you’ll tell me something that will resonate, and then I can maybe buy some nice shoes and a nice suit and people might want to listen to what I have to say.  God, it all seems so shallow.  There’s a reason it seems shallow: it is.  We get confused about the motives and what drives this type of thing.  Make no mistake, at the root of it all is self image.  We are always, consciously or not, trying to improve how we feel about ourselves, and none of us ever get the feeling that we are good enough.  And this quietly depresses us.

So, I’m saying that maybe this year, we recognize that.  I’m not even trying to say we should try to change it.  I think by simply recognizing that we all feel inadequate due to society’s drive to improve self image, we can shed at least a little of that feeling of inadequacy, because, shit, we actually are the same.  No one is better than us, no one feels better.  We all, everyone of us, feels like we’re in catch up mode despite the impression these other people try to give us.  It’s a selfie with a filter.  All we see is the one picture they let us see and we are oblivious that they took the picture 80 times in a row to show us the perfect one, and then they try to make us believe it was a one-and-done.  Nope.  Don’t fall for it.  Let’s make 2017 the year of recognizing society for what it is.  I think, maybe, if we can all do that, we’ll realize there’s no reason to be depressed over the idea that someone looks like they have their shit together, because they don’t.  Everyone’s a mess.

Also, and by the way, Muse told me sex sells, so don’t be mad at the misleading blog photo.  Simply enjoy it as a separate entity.  Thank you for allowing me a little misdirection. 😜

img_1265

Chain Reactions

Chaos Theory.

When you realize the world is malleable, when you discover that it is built like a house of cards, it’s easy to see that it can be bent to your will.  The ripples cascade out in all directions.  The whole world reacts to your decisions.  You realize that you are the singularity.  But then you see that everyone else is too.  They just don’t realize it.  

Steve Jobs said something similar:  “We’re here to put a dent in the universe…”  By simply existing, we do that.  It happens in a microcosmic way, everyday.  It’s the butterfly effect.  We just never realize it.  Even if we do realize it, we still have a hard time mentally grasping the bionic reach of our touch.

Simple interactions can change the world.  How can a sneeze in Florida cause a car crash in California?  It caused a series of chain events, it microscopically altered someone’s day, and the ripples bent the universe.  It happens all the time.

If we could study or understand the science of this, we could have deliberately caused that car crash.  Or we could start a peace movement in Liberia.  This universe is a Rube Goldberg invention.  We are the catalysts, the master manipulators and we all have more power than we can ever imagine.