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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

I was 8 years old when I got her.  A friend was trying to place her kittens in good homes, and I begged and begged my parents to let me have one.  On Mothers Day 1995, my wish was granted. 

I named her Tigger for her stripes, though I knew she was female. I learned that it was uncommon for females to have such defined stripes, so already I knew she was special.  The name suited her just fine, thank you, I didn't care what others said. She was mine and that was her name.

I played with her a lot those first summers. I discovered she didn't ALWAYS land on her feet, didn't like going frontwards OR backwards down the plastic yellow slide in the backyard,  and couldn't kick her addiction to the Chicken O' the Sea. She never learned that she couldn't catch the red dot of my laser pointer; she attempted tirelessly and in vain every time.  It wasn't ever about the prize for her,  the chase was all that mattered.  Never seemed to care much about cat nip.

At night she would sleep at my feet. Sometimes she'd crawl up and nudge me in the face while I slept. Sometimes she wandered around looking for a way under the covers. Whenever she did find a way under,  she always bit my toes.

I told her secrets, because she wasn't going to tell anyone.  She watched me laugh, she watched me cry, and she stayed by my side unless she saw something shiny. But that was fine I guess. 

Tonight she left Earth too soon, like all good things do. She was old; not as careful, not as quick. The spring in her step had faded over the last few years; her skin a little too saggy, her fur not as shiny.  She was run over on accident by a car, and after a painful struggle was graciously euthanize and freed from her pain. I didn't know when I last saw her that that was the last time I'd see her.  Had I known I would have said goodbye, spent some time holding her, remembering those adventurous summers long ago. Instead, she slunk by me on her way outdoors, pausing to look up at me only briefly.  And that is all I have left of her.

So Tigger, this is my goodbye. Though you'll  never read this, or know it exists, it's here.  Forgive me for putting you down the slide, for testing laws of gravity with you in the tree house, and for pushing you off the bed when you bit me.  May this entry stand forever; a record of your existence, a memory of your life. May it outlive us all, captured in the cloud.

Heaven gained a great soul tonight. 

The rest is silence.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Writing Music Again

With my wife and daughter out of town for the weekend, I finally got around to writing, recording, and mixing music again; something I haven't done for a very long time.  I've always loved doing it, but with work and school and family it just has been near impossible to do.  So!  Here they are.  The two songs that I wrote, recorded, and mixed this weekend:  Corridors of Stone, and Fairways and Greens.



Corridors of Stone
Jake Garrett - 7.28.13

I'm living with fear
that it's here when I wake
Tell me does that mean
I'm becoming just like them?
Paranoid, and seeing what?
It's these visions in my head
That toss and turn me now
I let them grind me down
Oh how they grind me down

If I lose them they will find me
Confuse them but they bind me
Let down; criticise me
Refusing to let go
If it's not one thing than another
Call me when it's over
Pull the strings that make me sing
Then leave me in the corner

So I'll swim for the present
And hope for a future
Of empty dreams and darkened sleep
Void of any color
As the green fields wither
Preparing for winter
I'll store away the season
That I let them grind me down
Oh how they grind me down

If I lose them they will find me
Confuse them but they bind me
Let down; criticise me
Refusing to let go
If it's not one thing than another
Call me when it's over
Pull the strings that make me sing
Then leave me in the corner

Still waiting when I rise
In the corridors of stone
Beckon me forward into the gray unknown
Rotating eyes; the glass disguise
If it keeps safe the unsafe
That dwell inside
If it keeps safe the unsafe
That dwell inside

If I lose them they will find me
Confuse them but they bind me
Let down; criticise me
Refusing to let go
If it's not one thing than another
Restart it when it's over
Pull the strings to make me sing
Then leave me in the corner

If it keeps safe the unsafe
That dwell inside
If it keeps safe the unsafe
That dwell inside



Fairways and Greens
Jake Garrett 7.27.13

In Memory of Richard Bruce Garrett 1937~2004


Memories of fairways and greens

A breath; photograph
All I keep
The leaves changed
and so have we
We aged and moved away
What would you say?

What would you say,
If you could say anything?
Isn't she beautiful this little girl of mine?
The way she would have laughed at you
I can only imagine

I can't say I blame you
Who hasn't made mistakes?
Maybe you knew
And you did it anyway
I know you had regrets
But we're now all that's left of you

What would you say,
If you could say anything?
Isn't she beautiful this little girl of mine?
The way she would have laughed at you
I can only imagine

Going on ten years now
I'm taller; a father
I'm imperfect but stronger
Than the boy you left behind
Torn up inside
Hoping you'd see this day
Wondered what you'd say

What would you say,
If you could say anything?
Isn't she beautiful this little girl of mine?
The way she would have laughed at you
I can only imagine
The way she would have laughed at you
I can only imagine

So memories of fairways and greens
A breath; and a photograph
Are all I keep
After the leaves have changed
And so have we
We aged and moved away
What would you say?
What would you say,
If you could see her now?
See her now?
What would you say?
Can you see her now?
Can you see her now?



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I Should Have Been A Weatherman.


I was just looking at the weather and according to weather.com, it says it is currently 91 degrees but it "feels like 90." I wonder how much the person gets paid to say what they think the weather "feels like".  I could do that job, "Whooo, man, it feels like really hot out here tonight, I'm gonna guess based solely on how much I'm sweating, it's gotta be at least 100 degrees." 


Money in the bank. 


But then I thought to myself, do I really wanna be the guy who disagrees over one degree? "Yeah Bob, I see that the thermometer says 91, but it just ain't that hot out tonight. I'm gonna go ahead and say it feels like 90, because come on, 91?  There is just no way.  I've felt 91 countless times in my life, and this? This just isn't a 91 kinda heat." 

I guess it depends on how much they're paying me to be a jerk for a living.

I wonder how a job interview for that position would go? I imagine it to go something like this:

"What makes you qualified to feel weather?"
"I don't know, ever since I was a kid I just kind of had a knack for it, you know?"  
"I thought I felt something just now...do you know what that was?"
"That was probably indigestion."
"Very good..."

Then they would test the candidate's ability to feel things by blindfolding them and having them touch random stuff.  

"This feels like a dead rat."  
"That is correct.  And this?"
"Definitely a shoe string dipped in peanut butter and...sprinkled with oregano."
"That is also correct. And this?" 
"The object with which you slapped me across the face was a live herring."
"Gooooood..."

The weird thing is you know that that person probably has a masters or doctorate degree in something.  

So I browsed around on the website for a little longer, and saw this thing that says "15 Minute Details."  And you know what?  I'm not so sure that I want this job anymore.  The Feels-Like weatherperson has a grueling job!  Every fifteen minutes he/she has to be confrontational.  Right now, for example, science is declaring that the temperature has dropped down to 83 degrees,  but it "feels like" 81 degrees.  "Yeah Bob, I know it says 83, but I have an instinctive habit, a Pavlov's dog, if you will, that I put on a light wind breaker at 82.  I have put on my windbreaker, and I wouldn't do that if it didn't feel like it was sub 82.  I have zipped it halfway and put my hands part way in my pockets, which means it's gotta be an 81 right now, Bob."  Man, I would hate working with someone like that.

Predicting weather is kind of a sham anyway. It's been less than 100 years since meteorologists have been tracking weather patterns that could influence chance of rain. Since they don't have that much to go on, it's still a work in progress.  That's why when they say there's a 10% chance of precipitation and I plan on a big outing outside, it rains like crazy all day and I have to stay inside.  And with global warming becoming more and more of an issue, that's gonna throw some crazy outlier wrenches into the cogs of statistics.  What they should do, is the "Feels-Like" weatherperson could wear two hats, if he/she has time, and be the guesser for rain.  "It feels like 50 degrees, and maybe some rain, I don't know.  That's a funnel cloud over there.  I just felt a small cat strike the side of my head, I'm thinking a tornado.  Ok, there is definitely going to be some crazy stuff going on, so don't get out the barbeque just yet."

Ok, I guess maybe I don't want to be a weatherman.  Being confrontational every 15 minutes and getting struck by flying felines would just bring me down.  Plus I'd have to go through all that extra school, too. 

I can't help but feel bad for Bob, too.  





Thursday, May 9, 2013

The State of the Unions


In response to a prompt from my Labor Relations professor, here is an expert from my answer on labor relations:
I don't think that unions and management will ever achieve a state of total cooperation.  Capitalism is not, and has never been, kind to workers.  If you are on top, it is extremely generous, but if you are on bottom, you can work your hands to the bone and still be below the poverty level.  Management focuses a lot on lean processes, including getting more out of employees for less.  As long as that type of relationship exists, I don't think it's possible for unions and management to achieve a state of total cooperation.
The Preamble to Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World states: "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people, and the few who make up the employing class have all the good things of life...We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers."
Management sees unions as a hindrance to productivity and higher profits, while unions see management as looking for every possible way to cut corners, even at the expense of its employees.  These two attitudes may never disappear.
I have to say I cringe whenever I hear someone talk about the "haves" and the "have-nots".  Labeling people who have money and people who don't have money perpetuates the myth that money is the only factor that defines the worth or success of an individual.  There are coal miners, train operators, construction workers, etc. who enjoy what they do and would not want to be CEO of a company.  They are happy where they are at.  The problem with labeling people as "haves" and "have-nots" is that it leads people to believe you are only as successful as the size of your bank account.  It bothers me that there are so many people who see blue collar workers as inferior or lazy.  I worked on the production line of  a factory one summer, and the people I worked with had a lot of integrity and a hard work ethic.   They were not lazy, and they did not see their job as demeaning or dishonorable.  Now I have a "desk job", but I'm still below the living wage for a family of three in my state.  The textbook talks about unions for white collar workers, and I see a need for that.  I know workers who have masters degrees and make $16/hour, and yet,  the average wage for a nonsupervisory construction worker in 2008 was $21.87/hr.; and they only need a high school diploma!  The degree that was supposed to put these office monkeys ahead financially has instead put them in debt for a career with little potential.  Universally, management demands expertise and higher education, and compensates pitifully for it.  
Blue collar workers are not lazy; they should be treated with respect and compensated fairly for their hard work.  And more and more I'm beginning  to see that the same is true for white collar workers with higher education.  They should be treated with respect and compensated fairly for their expertise and greater knowledge.


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Myth of Absolute Rights

I heard recently a phrase that bothered me a great deal,  that of "absolute rights". "Absolute" meaning irrevocable, fixed, and universally accepted as truth.  That is,  of course,  absurd -- there are no absolute rights.  There may be rights that one believes to be absolute,  but they contradict reality.  Let me clarify my original claim: there are no absolute rights under government. 

Each "right" that we Americans enjoy is actually a conditional privilege limited by governance.  The forefathers shrugged off an extremely oppressive government to establish a less oppressive government.  Government, in itself, implies suppression.  To govern is to control.  When we establish government,  we enter into a social contract where we give up what in a state of nature would otherwise be our "absolute rights", and in return, we are given conditional privileges.  Often we forget how limited they truly are,  simply because we're left alone when within the confines of the law.   Allow me to explain.

Here  is a widely known phrase, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."  Unalienable,  of course,  means inseparable and irrevocable.  These are basic rights that most humans can agree are inherent.  The irony is that all three are traded in by the social contract, being subjected to governance. 

Example 1: a convicted murderer is faced with the death penalty in a court of law.  How is that possible? Does he/she not have an unalienable right to life?  Governance decrees that he/she forfeited that right by disobedience to law,  and the person is put to death.  Example 2: An elderly man is in need of a transplant, but the merciless free market insurance companies and bureaucracy of government fail to provide a transplant,  resulting in his death.  Did he not have an unalienable right to life?

Liberty is also given up in the social contract.  Liberty by definition is the freedom of autonomy. The ability to act however one sees fit.  But that won't do with government,  because government controls.  Therefore, complete liberty cannot exist, and conditional privileges are granted instead.  A convicted murderer,  again, forfeits the right of autonomy after breaking the law.He/she cannot leave the prison cell whenever he/she sees fit, cannot eat whatever he/she wants,  etc.

The Pursuit of Happiness.  How could a term so broad be assumed an absolute right? Many things that make some people happy are illegal,  and offenders who are caught can have restrictions put in place to prevent them from seeking what they view as happiness.

These three rights are considered unalienable and absolute, but are in reality conditional under governance. "Conditional" contradicts "absolute", being by definition in opposition.

If, therefore, the very basic of human rights are transformed into conditional privileges through the social contract of government,  how can any other so called right be more absolute?  In other words,  how can any part of the Bill of Rights be more absolute than the conditional privileges considered to be the most fundamental of all human existence?  I submit that they are not and can not.

"Free Speech" is not absolute.  It had it's limits just as other "rights".Government programs control what can and cannot be seen and heard on TV and radio, the McCarthy witch hunts, even recently at a whitehouse celebration an artist was escorted off for singing a song against the president 's policies.

The fifth amendment can be waived in cases of national security,  like that of the Boston bomber.

The second amendment already has limits.  The public does not have access to all military type weapons  because the amendment,  like the others,  is conditional.  Felons should not have access to weapons because rights are, and always have been, conditional under government.

No right is absolute under government.  Each is conditional and subject to control by the government established by the social contract.  If any rights are to be made absolute, government ceases to exist, and the state of nature will claim its own.   Governance comes at a price: the willing forfeiture of absolute rights. Both cannot exist together, and present reality thus proves that there are no absolute rights.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Petition to the White House

I started a petition, please read the details below, and sign it.


WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

End civilian casualties resulting from Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (Drones).

Between January 2006 and April 2009, 687 innocent Pakistani civilians were collateral damage from drone strikes. During that time, only 14 terrorists or suspected terrorists were neutralized. That is 49 civilian casualties per terrorist. The United States government should not continue a program that takes the lives of innocent people in other countries. That is inhumane and unAmerican. President Obama, please end civilian casualties as a result of drone strikes by discontinuing the use of unmanned combat air vehicles.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Robots Making Robots (Made In The USA)

      For those of you who know me personally, you probably know how I feel about drones.  I got into some hot water on Facebook because a friend of mine is in the military.  She has a different point of view, or from what I gathered, misinterpreted my view.  My original statement had to do with a simple question: "Why is it that when another country attacks us from the sky, it's terrorism, but when the US attacks another country from the sky, it's 'National Defense'?"  Then a big discussion took place about how the US are not terrorists and that we're justified and blah blah blah.  Her take on the comment was, would I rather risk a team of six or seven American soldiers on a mission in hostile territory, or send in a robot to take out the target?  Of course I wouldn't want to risk American lives.  But we shouldn't be there in the first place.  No WMDs, Bin Laden is dead, Saddam is dead, why are we still there?  

      Is the collateral damage worth it?  Look at Pakistan.  "60 cross-border predator strikes in the period from January 2006 to April 2009 killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders and 687 Pakistani civilians."  So for that time period, and only in Pakistan, the US killed  about 49 innocent people per terrorist.  Innocent people are getting blown up in the streets, in their homes, in the marketplace...if that's not terrorism than I don't know what is.   I don't like loss of life.  I was upset that they killed Bin Laden.  Before I start getting hate mail, I want to clarify that statement.  Bin Laden deserved to sit in prison for his crimes against humanity.  Is it a fitting end for his body to be eaten by fishes? Sure, why not.  I believe he'll face consequences in the next life for the things that he's done, because that's what I believe in.  But I also believe that he deserved to face justice in this life by sitting in prison.  No matter how screwed up our fellow humans are, they are still humans, not mosquitos.  But unlike mosquitos, they can be punished for their crimes through the monotony and solitude of prison, reflecting on the decisions they made that landed them there.  Even if he thinks what he did was right, he will know the reason his personal freedoms have been taken away, are because he killed innocent people.


      Back to the drones, though.  Apart from civilian casualties, another of the most alarming things about America's obsession with drones is that the government is  killing people in countries that we are not at war with.  And in an action that parallels the infamous "Patriot Act" (have to love their word choice for such a despicable display of ignoring inalienable rights), the executive branch has taken upon itself the war time powers that are reserved for, you know, war.   The powers extend even to targeted killings of American's abroad that could possibly be terrorists, though little to know intelligence is required to confirm the validity of terrorist activity.  So if you're an American traveling abroad, and you attended a meeting of anarchists in college one night because you thought it would be funny, that's enough grounds to have you blown up as you walk outside of your hotel.  


    So why are we still there?  You ask a Washington insider, they'll say it's national defense.  Get them before they get us.  "Good guy with a gun vs a bad guy with a gun" scenario.  But is that really it?  Is it because of oil and special interest groups?  Is it the military industrial complex?  Is it because manufacturing of weapons provides jobs in a failing economy?  Is it a personal vendetta?  Maybe the US just can't let go.  Maybe we have too much aggression.  Maybe we do it to prove to countries that can actually defend themselves that we are a force not to be reckoned with.  Maybe we like to prey on the weak.  Maybe it's to show North Korea what will happen if they try anything.  Maybe we're bored.  Maybe it's because we care so little about our own people that we enjoy being distracted by explosions.  Maybe we watch too many Michael Bay films.


     This topic has been on my mind for a long time.  In fact, I tried several times to write about it before scrapping what I had in frustration because I couldn't quite say what I wanted to say about how upset it makes me.  So here it is, attempt number whatever number this is.  And after listening to a lot of Rage Against the Machine and the Flobots, I put together a string of couplets that I named Robots Making Robots (Made in the USA), that says a lot of what I want to say but can only say while rhyming, apparently.  So, here it is:



Robots Making Robots (Made In the USA)

we are machines making machines
running on electric caffeine
designed only for the construction
of new age tools of destruction
we've been programmed to make clones
of each new batch of master's drones
we bid farewell to our new brothers
and if they die, we'll build some others
programmed to rain hellfire from the sky
and film the casualties of those who die
program them to feel no remorse
or to flinch at the sign of a corpse
be it the target, a woman, a child
store it away in a federal file
we machines build machines for our machine king
fueled by power, greed, and political caffeine
--Jake Garrett

So remember kids: eat dessert first; you never know when you might be a casualty in a drone strike.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Clams


"Are you happy?" asked one clam to the other
"What is happy?" it asked, so the first asked another
"Don't people say we're happy clams?"
"They do said it so, though I don't know if I am."
"Then why do they say it? cuz they say it a lot."
"I suppose it's because they don't know that I'm not."
--Jake Garrett

Like a Rat


From my cage where I sit I can see the outside
The wind blows softly while the sun shines
The air could be cleaner and fresher out there
But how can I know if I am in here?
I run all day long inside of my wheel
But when I look back I see I'm here still

From my cage where I sit I can see the outside
I see birds flying free and living their lives
And long to be out and about just like them
But I've been forgot and remain here locked in
So here I will sit and watch them go by
And imagine that some day, like them, I'll fly
--Jake Garrett

Vampires Used To Be Creepy


I remember when Vampires were creepy and weird and deadly
long before they were vegan and sparkly and friendly
they would take shapes like bats and dogs and fog
and not be depressed, aloof, or socially odd
they walked in daylight and purchased real estate
stayed out early and slept in late
visited zoos and insane asylums
and were their own species, genus, and phylum
lived in big mansions and preyed on house guests
and converted their victims by tearing open their chest
yes, those were the times when vampires scared
and people gathered by the fear that they shared
but it will never again be the same
because Meyer made vamps lame
--Jake Garrett