Archives for posts with tag: God

Still Genesis 4: 1- 25

Cain Destabled

“Nod” — a tuneless song (thanks, JC)

Well, you wonder why I’m marked and walk this way,
Why I never work a job more than a day,
And why my laughter sounds like someone else’s moan
Well, there’s a history to the scars that I have borne.

I wear my marks for the poor and beaten down,
Living in the hopeless, hungry victims’ side of town,
I have them for the prisoner who misunderstood her crime,
But stays because she’s a consort of her times.

I wear the mark for those who never read,
Or listened to the words the Maker said,
But I heard the words he spoke with love and charity,
Back then, you know, He was talking straight to me!

And I’m doing what I can in tattered clothes,
As I walk on rocks and feel them in my toes
Though I’m haunted by the wicked sound of skull bone being cracked
Every time a person shouts at me “Get back!”

I wonder if my questions will get old,
Unworthy me or a universe so cold?
I wander Nod just fixed on what there might have been
If a judgment never came to Mom or two young men.

So, I wander for the women who have died,
Believing that the Lord was on their side,
I wander for another hundred thousand castes who cry,
Never told or knowing why they’re cast aside.

But words won’t make things right, that much I know,
Like Mother’s ambushed innocence or Abel brought so low,
And not until I justify what is wrong and what is right
Will I ever see my shadow as my light.

Oh, I’d love to sing a rainbow every day,
And know that there’s a fairness to the game that’s being played,
‘Til then I’ll wander solo, scarred image on the sand,
‘Til God’s a little fairer, I’m the bitter, angry man.

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Still Genesis 4: 1- 25

Cain Destabled

“Nod” — a tuneless song (thanks, JC)

Well, you wonder why I’m marked and walk this way,
Why I never work a job more than a day,
And why my laughter sounds like someone else’s moan
Well, there’s a history to the scars that I have borne.

I wear my marks for the poor and beaten down,
Living in the hopeless, hungry victims’ side of town,
I have them for the prisoner who misunderstood her crime,
But stays because she’s a consort of her times.

I wear the mark for those who never read,
Or listened to the words the Maker said,
But I heard the words he spoke with love and charity,
Back then, you know, He was talking straight to me!

And I’m doing what I can in tattered clothes,
As I walk on rocks and feel them in my toes
Though I’m haunted by the wicked sound of skull bone being cracked
Every time a person shouts at me “Get back!”

I wonder if my questions will get old,
Unworthy me or a universe so cold?
I wander Nod just fixed on what there might have been
If a judgment never came to Mom or two young men.

So, I wander for the women who have died,
Believing that the Lord was on their side,
I wander for another hundred thousand castes who cry,
Never told or knowing why they’re cast aside.

But words won’t make things right, that much I know,
Like Mother’s ambushed innocence or Abel brought so low,
And not until I justify what is wrong and what is right
Will I ever see my shadow as my light.

Oh, I’d love to sing a rainbow every day,
And know that there’s a fairness to the game that’s being played,
‘Til then I’ll wander solo, scarred image on the sand,
‘Til God’s a little fairer, I’m the bitter, angry man.

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Mi nombre es Roberto, but most who know me call me Sorrow.  I used to be a joiner by trade, first in Habana and then in Miami, working on stores, homes and boats, and anywhere else a door or window might be appropriate.  It was a good job, a trade to be proud of.  I had money in my pocket and I often used it to help people.  Many times I was said to be foolish.  Still, as an orphan I’ve come to think little of names.  How wrong is it to lend a hand?  Like when Jimmy, El Pescadero,  went straight and got a job and a punch card in the textiles in Hialeah, his family– the wife and five kids– went broke quickly and would have lost their apartment.  I lent them enough for two months’ back rent and two months ahead.  I felt good helping even if it all went sour when Jimmy took the money and fled.  How was I to know?  He had a punch card.  He had five children.  He had a pretty wife, Lydia, a redhead and hermosa even after the fifth birth.  I went to console her for Jimmy’s abandoning them.  Soon after we were lovers.  Lydia cried often.  When I touched her she shivered and laughed.  The more intimate we became the happier she seemed, until she just disappeared one day, probably off to search out Jimmy.  After she’d left, I took her children in with me. They were the first of my odd, lost family.

Walking home from a library job near Le Jeune one evening, I heard a boy crying.  I am not a man to pass by the suffering without trying to help.  The sobbing boy was one of the local toughs.  He’d lost the money his mother had given him for groceries.  There would be a serious beating when his father found out, he told me between tears.  He showed me bruises and scars across his hard and narrow back.  “Ayudame,” he cried. I gave him the grocery money in cash.  He jumped up howling like a lottery winner, and ran across the street to his gang who had been watching all along.  They split the cash in front of me.  Folly?  Perhaps, but I believe that they earned the money.

I was something of a soft touch, and people had many needs.  “Sorrow, my abuelo is dying in Patterson and I haven’t got the money for bus fare; I’ve been demoted to boner at the slaughterhouse, Sorrow, and I can’t keep up my debt payments; my house burned down and my pet store beside it.  Oh, mi hermano, I am so alone.”  I gave what I could, not as a hero, but as a human in an oppressive world.  When I was twenty-eight, some distressed mother left her year-old infant at my door with a note to say I was a good man and she was an addict so please love her child.  I did.  Why not?  People are often in great pain.  They do bizarre things.  There is such suffering that even the lies eventually become true.  Besides, fatherhood was just fine with me.

Born the only son of a wealthy couple during the time of Bautista, I lived well until burglars broke into our Veradero apartment and killed mi madre y padre when I was seven.  The killers were caught and imprisoned but I was bereft nonetheless.  The state sought a ward for me and found my aunt Letty.  I now believe that it was my dear aunt Letty who then robbed me of my inheritance and sent me away to San Dolores.  Why else would she have, from the day I entered the gray walls of the orphanage until this very day of our Lord, whatever it is, sent me a stipend of twenty pesos/dollars a week?  I admit it was quite a sum for a young boy in an orphan’s uniform, but it has lessened in importance through the years.  Still, twenty weekly afforded me luxuries like books and desserts and these I shared gladly.  But there were other children with more specific needs who simply asked for money, and this is where my philanthropy began, I suppose.

Later in life, after I had made my way to America before Fidel took over everything, I was sometimes on the verge of losing my apartment or furniture, or my children went hungry, because I had given away too much and kept too little.  Some days depression overtook me.  Who was I to give my money away and put my family at risk?  But what was so morally wrong with giving?  I knew a lawyer in Miami Beach whom I could speak to.

He said “You are a good man.  It’s written that it is better to give than receive.  And even though you say these people are happy receiving without giving, you must be so much more happy giving since you keep giving even when it hurts unmercifully.  You will be rewarded a window in heaven,” he said, “from which God will let you look down on the sinners in hell to savor their punishments.”

“I wouldn’t want that,” I told him.

“Whatever, then,” he said, waving away the whole picture with his big,

manicured hand. “Maybe you’ll get endless supplies of ice cream.  Who can know?  At the moment you’re a joiner.  So go join.”

There was a time when I wanted nothing more than to pack up my family and leave, anywhere and quickly.  I was, in fact, doing just that, packing up, when my landlady caught me.  She had come to borrow more money, ninety dollars for plumbing repairs which I knew we tenants would never see.  I told her that as I was just packing to leave it would be impossible to lend her the cash.  The old lady rolled up her glaucomic eyes and keeled over onto my floor, wailed “Dios mio,” and fainted entirely away.  Two of my daughters attended her with light slaps to her cheeks and sips of water to her lips.  My six-year-old son walked up to the landlady’s peaceful face and flatulated over it with a deft squat.  My daughters left their patient and the room, but the old lady sputtered to consciousness soon after, sitting up from my carpet and pointing at me firmly, saying “You need a good woman.  One who will make you want to stay. No one leaves Calle Ocho if they are in love.”  She coughed once then gathered herself and rose from the floor.  “I know just who!” she sing-songed, and left the room.

The landlady brought Cordelia to meet me the next day.  A robust brunette, nearly voluptuous, with a wide, toothy smile, Cordelia was everything Shakespeare never intended.  The men could not tolerate her critical tongue, and she would surely be condemned to solitude, the landlady said, if I did not take pity and make her a bride.

“It seems my life has come so far as to be begged off into your arms, Sorrow,” Cordelia told me.  “I could do worse.  You have seven tax credits.  I can use them.  And together we can rent a larger apartment with a bigger back yard.”  Then she smiled.

I turned to my children and told them to unpack; we would be staying after

all.  The landlady was ecstatic and nearly fainted once again, but for my son’s rousing her, like one of Pavlov’s breed, by his presence and the sensations it recalled.

“You bring home a good paycheck I’m told.  I’ll take control of it,” Cordelia said.  “If you don’t trust me, then why get married, eh?  Tell me si o no.”

She was a successful cheese vendor.  She had an absurd but effective herd of milk cows and goats in the tiny back yard of her first floor apartment.  She sold a hundred pounds of cheese a week and lived off it.  How could I argue with her business acumen?  I was a simple joiner.  I had no other prospects.  Maybe there was some happiness in it for me.  I signed my paycheck over to her.

She smiled and said “If you don’t become any more of a cabron than to do what I say, perhaps we will do well.”

I was glad to hear her say that.

The wedding ceremony was inside a donut shop.  I had done framework for the owner.  He insisted on setting up the place with his bakery foil and decorations.  The men drank espresso in hot milk laced with scotch.

“She is a fine woman,” I heard one say.

“Yes,” another replied.  “She has sex a lot, with men and women.”

It was an odd, rocky moment for me.  Men, women, and a lot.  What was I to do?

We danced, Cordelia and I and everyone else.  When the scotch and coffee ran out we ate donuts and éclairs.  Someone brought a case of rum and a box of Cojibas fresh off the boat.  I danced with a young lady schoolteacher.  Cordelia danced with the county commisioner.  She held him close.  But she held me closer for the next dance.  She pushed her hips into my groin.

“Maybe I can make even you happy, Sorrow,” she said.  “I was huerfano, tan bien.”

We drank a toast to her parents, then we accepted the gifts: a coffee maker, a vibrating stick, towels, a coupon for piano lessons.  There were also three bolts of cheese cloth.  I laughed, though now I don’t know why, except that I was drunk and exhilarated.

Making love with Cordelia was like being the nail between a hammer and the wood.  She rode the bed with me just coincidentally involved.  Or she crushed me in leg locks that took my breath.  When I was wasted she would get dressed in the dark, turn on a soft lamp, and leave for the night, looking for more.  I would be sore and bruised the next day at work.  In short, I was happy for what I could get.

Four months later she gave birth to twins.  All her friends came to see.  My children loved the babies dearly.  Cordelia decided not to leave so much anymore, except for her cheese production, which my daughters had begun to take over anyway.  She told me she would be having her partners come to the house.  She said I could join in at any time, except when she was with Caramela.

I felt a need to go somewhere and pray.  I asked directions of an elderly woman to the Catholic cathedral.  Her thin finger poked my chest.

La iglesia won’t do you any good, mi hijo.  Every one of your thoughts is a prayer, every action a prayer answered.”

She walked away slowly.  When she was gone from my sight I started for home.  My thoughts were my prayers.  The elderly woman had given me something marvelous and precious.  But it was invisible, so I’ll never know exactly where or when I lost it.

As I entered the lobby of the Las Palomas building we had moved into since the wedding– with more grazing area in the back yard– the lanky janitor took me aside into the staircase tower.

“Your wife has been at it all afternoon, Sorrow, her rich friend, too, them wailing like alley cats.  And those cows mooing.  And the goats. There have been complaints.”  He asked “How do you live like this?”

What could I say to him?

As though he understood, he cuffed me across the shoulder.  “How do they keep it up?”

“I think they’re laughing,” I said.

“I asked her for sex myself once.  She turned me down flat.”

“My wife?” I said, facing him.

The janitor looked down on me puzzled.  “Yes, Sorrow, of course your wife,” he said.  “How can you take offense?  How can you live like that?”

People had begun coming out into the hall to watch.  “It’s your place, Sorrow,” one of my neighbors called out.  “You have the key.  Go on in!”

“Yes, of course,” I said, reaching in my pocket for the key.  The janitor tried to step into my living room with me but I closed and locked the door on him and the rest pressing behind from the hall.  I sat on the sofa.  By Cordelia’s order, the children were out of the apartment for the afternoon.

“Papaya!” I heard from the bedroom.  “It smells like papaya.”

Cordelia laughed a laugh that made me smile listening to it.  Five minutes later I stepped back into the empty hallway and left again.  I was an intruder, no matter the semantics of ownership.

One afternoon Cordelia kissed me on the cheek.  “Tonight you dress nicely, Sorrow.  Caramela is taking us to a supper club near the design district for dinner.  She thinks you’re the best husband on the planet.”  Her finger brushed my forehead.  “Who knows?  Perhaps she’s right.  Dame su dinero.”

I gave her the one hundred sixty three dollars in my wallet. And a spare quarter from my right pocket.  “I thought you didn’t want me to meet…”

“Well, now you interest her.  Go rent a tux,” she said.  “Charge it.”

The restaurant was bright and swank.  The waiters, in short tuxedos, were all women.  There were mirrors everywhere but I could always see only a part of me in reflection because of the crowd.  The supper show was glitzy and full of leg and breast.  The steak was rare, almost sweet.  And Caramela seemed to be the center of all things there.  A strawberry blonde with a strong build, she was wealthy in all the small things, the pearls and platinum.  She smiled with warmth and she seemed to like me.

“So many beautiful women in one room,” I said.  “It’s a little overwhelming.”

“You’d prefer another man by your side, then?” Caramela asked.

I smiled.  “It might help,” I said.  “But then it might also spoil everything.”

“This is heaven to you, Sorrow.  Admit it,” Cordelia said.  “Men are sluts.  You want every woman in this room.  And you probably do too, Caramela cara mia.”

Caramela laughed.  “Only the beautiful ones,” she said. Then she turned to me.  “Cordelia wouldn’t recognize heaven if she saw it,” she said.  “Anymore than she knows a good husband when she has one.”

I felt a shoe caress my pant leg beneath the table slowly.  I looked over and smiled at Cordelia.

“I know Sorrow’s worth,” Cordelia said.  “He’s worth so much that he gives my money away to total strangers.”  She looked at me.  “Yes, Sorrow, I saw your handout to that little girl yesterday. Derrochador.”

“Ah, but she needed…” I began.

Cordelia waved a hand.  “She needed,” she mocked.  “They all need.  You need.  But you don’t need them!”

“Who’s to say?” I asked.  “Even you have your good side.”

The shoe was snooping my thigh, but by the way she sat it couldn’t have been Cordelia.  I felt a tingle in the small of my neck.

Some weeks later I was helping an elderly woman unload her groceries from a taxi when Caramela strode up to us on the sidewalk.  She was wearing a black dress clasped at the waist with a thin gold belt.  She slipped a twenty-dollar bill from her small purse and handed it to the cabby.

“Take care of tia,” she commanded.  “Come on, Roberto.  She’ll be fine.”

“You called me Roberto,” I said.

She told me there was enough sorrow in the world already, then pulled me away as the cabby bent to pick up the brown bags.  The elderly lady’s face watched us go with a look of horror, like something awful would happen as soon as she was alone with the cabby.  I lost sight of her when Caramela led us to a recessed doorway nearby and pressed herself to me.

“Let’s do it, Robertico” she said as she tugged at my old leather belt.

She forced me on her there in the doorway standing up.  I got a splinter in my palm from leaning so hard against the worn wooden casing.

When we had done I asked what we were to do now that we had done it.

“Well, I don’t know what you’re going to do,” Caramela answered, “but I’m going to your place and tell Cordelia about it.”  She skipped away down the stairs swinging the gold belt from her hand saying “I tell her everything.”

On the sidewalk where the elderly woman had been were a dozen eggs broken and a wet piece of brown paper bag stuck to the pavement.

“So, if isn’t Sinful Sorrow himself,” Cordelia said when I got home later that night.  “You two-timing hijo de puta. I’ll tell you right here and now we can’t share her.  She’s mine or she’s yours. But she’s not ours.  If it weren’t for your tax credits, I’d throw you out right now.”

“What are you talking about?” I said.  “We had sex, that’s all.  We didn’t elope.  Who are you to get jealous?  You who have evicted my children from their own home in order to glut herself on sex.”

“Their home?  This is my home.  Esta es mi casa. You pay the bills, but the mortgage is in my name.  I own the cows y las cabras.   Even the furniture is mine.  Surely I love the twins and some of your children as much as you, but let’s not confuse love and ownership here.”

“But I don’t own Caramela,” I said.

“Good.  Then you give her up?”

“With whatever rights I own to do so,” I answered, thinking to end this.  “But you’ll have to allow the children to stay in their home from now on.  Even my youngest already knows what you are doing in there.  It is still their home to them and they don’t like being put out.”

Cordelia smiled and took my hand.  “They can stay, Sorrow.”  She tugged me forward.  “Now come to the bedroom and show me more of that tough guy hiding inside you.”

And so I did.

postmodernlogo_pmd1        One of the maxims of Dr. D has to do with the quantity of fish a farmer tries to grow within a given volume of water.  This is an extremely important concept as it speaks directly to the business plan of the farm as well as the personal philosophy of the farmer.  Simply put, the more fish in any given area the more chance of problems (See Erlich’s The Population Bomb for a more expansive, perhaps historically inaccurate in the timing of its predictions but nonetheless excellent gateway into the density challenge as it pertains to humanity in its closed-system planet). The amount of life per quantity of living space is referred to as biodensity.  It is important to understand that we aren’t talking about the number of fish necessarily, but the total weight of the fish in the water.  A farmer with a million minnows or fingerlings will have fewer problems as a rule than one with a thousand four pound fish in the same amount of water.  This is because the larger fish need more of everything, especially oxygen and feed, and produce more waste.  So keeping track of biodensity is vital.  In fact, biodensity is truly a calculation not simply of the stress on the system, but of stress on the farmer.  The more fish, the more stress.  How much stress any farmer wants can be calculated and adjusted in this way.  I can keep one fish alive in a badly designed system forever.  But I can’t keep a lot of fish alive in that system.  And where my personal health in keeping the fish alive is affected, I am concerned.

The density of fish in a system is a calculation of desire for production of final product, which is one of the factors of profit.  America’s big agrobusinesses spend much money on creating the highest biodensities any system can maintain without killing the animals or crops.  Thus, livestock may live their entire lives indoors standing in their own filth being force fed grain shoulder to shoulder with the next animal.  This life stresses an animal and stress causes immune system failures.  When an animal’s immune system goes down, that animal is susceptible to disease.  Disease in a crowded farm is a potential disaster.  So along with that grain is fed antibiotics and often growth hormones.  You can take your own view of this system; it does feed the world.  I don’t envision that degree of density as God’s ideal farm.  God’s farm maintains a balance between what an animal can naturally tolerate in density and what a farmer needs from his crop in terms of yield.

Is the farm a net profit maker and if so by how much?  What Dr. D and I by extension as his acolyte recommend is to build on the cheap, utilizing used equipment and whenever possible self-made solutions to design challenges.  The old joke in the aquaculture industry goes like this:  How do you make a million dollars in aquaculture?  You start with four million dollars and lose three.  It is a clever joke until you begin farming and expenses seem to rapidly outstrip the growth of product.  Thus, when fish are finally market size and you feel the smoothness of cash cross your palm for that first hundred pounds of fish sold, it will be a natural reaction to think, the more fish sold, the more quickly I get out of debt.  Dr. D recommends a farmer never get into debt so that he or she never feels the need to get out.  I and my co-op farmers are alike in being somewhere in the middle class working scale, from technicians to real estate salesmen, teachers to carpenters (like that original fisher of men).  All of us went into debt to learn to raise the Jesus fish and build our versions of God’s perfect farm.  As God would have it, my wife and I represent the last farm operating of the old co-op, everyone else having gone under due almost exclusively to sales not matching debt payments, although one highly successful farm went under through deceit and divorce.  Still, profit is a huge consideration and a motivator toward wickedness in the growing system.

Keep the density of fish low to begin with.  Live off the tilapia as food at least four times a week.  Tilapia is such a clean and mild meat it can be made into anything wonderful from breakfast burritos to dinner crepes.  And the protein is great for you and your family.  It is also becoming one of the more expensive items to buy at the store, what with 90% of the ocean fish high on the food chain having disappeared.  So use your farm (even if it is only a backyard pool full of fish) to reduce family food costs.  There is something intuitive, something of the ancient native, in pulling out fish from your system, cleaning them, seasoning them to taste, and cooking them up to place on the dinner platter, that fills a man or woman’s spirit with the grace of God.  So little in our modern world offers us the connection to our primal nature; in fact, to a great extent only sex and violence still offer this primal connection as everything else has been packaged and commercialized and so has removed us from our original divine design of doing for ourselves with our thumb-opposed hands.  When is the last time you cleaned a fish, red blood puddle before you, scales flying, one stuck to your cheek like knight’s armor, the fish’s digestive system carefully removed from the body, life in all its complexity and fragility literally slipping through your fingers, life taking becoming life giving?  Cleaning an animal for your own consumption, to feed your family, is one of God’s intentions for humanity.  It is maybe not for the squeamish, but God did intend for the others of us to feed the blessed squeamish as well.  This is controlled slaughter for food and it is a sacred moment.  I find it fulfilling to thank the fish for their sacrifice just before I begin the cleaning ritual much as the Native American tribes were said to have done in their eco-perfect times before Western civilization destroyed their Eden and them along with it.

Keep the density of your fish as low as possible every step up your learning curve.  Tilapia will forgive many mistakes in farming.  They can tolerate amazingly low levels of oxygen, their stomach acid is so low that they can remain healthy in water with diseases that would kill other fish. They can tolerate salt water to a certain extent which few fresh water species can, and they can eat and digest almost anything so that errors in feeding are even forgiven. Yet, even eating human feces, as has been experimented in some places, the pathogens do not embed in the comestible meat. Tilapia are designed by God to allow the farmer to make mistakes and still not lose the farm.  So give yourself the leeway of God’s forgiveness, but build in a little extra contentment by sacrificing a little profit and keeping the stress levels down, theirs and yours.

 

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1) You are the most valuable asset the company has.  And the more responsibilities you take on and perform, the more valuable you are to the company.

2) Understand management must always press for more from you and the labor force.  It is your job to find the more to give.

3) Understand management generally considers labor overpaid and under-achieving.  It is your job to dispel this belief constantly, in order to retain the balance of mutual respect between labor and management.

4) Be aware that management doesn’t handle stress as well as you do, because they don’t have to.  They have you to take it out on.  You don’t have labor to take out your stress on.

5) Don’t take criticism personally, even when you know management is wrong.  Hell, they’re always wrong.  Forgive and get on with the job at hand.

6) List your employee needs for personal reference, things like raises and maybe toilet paper in the restrooms, but go after them one by one.  Management doesn’t like feeling as though it is giving in to too many demands, even if the needs are critical and fair.

7) Remind management occasionally of your employees’ good records in safety (“More than fifteen minutes now, boss, since the last maiming!”), because accidents cost the company a lot of money and that money unspent is money the company gets to keep.  It’s bottom line stuff.

8) Keep your tongue under control.  Slighting your superior often results in some form of vindictiveness later on.

Example: Boss: “Remember how you called me a stupid motherfucker with the I.Q. of dried cow shit yesterday?”

You: “I think I said pig shit, sir.”

Boss: “Well, you’re fired.”

You: “Thank you, sir. You dickhead.”

Boss: “No.  Firing isn’t enough.  You have to keep working.”

You: “Here?”

Boss: “Exactly.”  (Cackles malevolently)

You: “God, nooo!”

(9) Make your suggestions in the form of a question whenever possible.  This gives management an escape from confronting your suggestion outright (since they’re not generally bright enough to respond off the cuff), while offering them the role of wise advisor.

10) Be very patient.  Wait your opportunity to make your point.  In the time you’re waiting, make sure in your mind that the point you want to make is both valid and positive.

11) When you attend a meeting, have not only your side of things worked out, but also consider management’s side to give you perspective.

12) Management can be frivolous with you.  You can be frivolous with labor.  Never be frivolous with management.  They are way too insecure to handle it.

13) Unless you have a specific agenda, say as little as possible during meetings.  But always contribute at least five sentences to any hour-long meeting, otherwise you become invisible.

(14) Someone, maybe Thoreau, said “Less is more.”  No, he said, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”  But, anyway, less is more. So say less and mean more.  You will seem wise and knowing.  You will seem knowledgeable and humble.  You will not put your foot in your mouth so often.

15) Management doesn’t appreciate the value of PMI.  Your machines do.  Please the machine, but don’t pamper it.  Did I just say ‘Please the machine?’  It’s time for a drink.

16) There.  Much better thought process after four rums straight up.  Much more coherent.  Much…zzzzz.

17) Appearances mean much.  That’s why ass-kissers prosper.  Don’t kiss ass, but always show respect.

18) Notify management of any employee who might be planning to confront them with a problem.  Management hates these kinds of surprises.  But never get in a foot race to the office.

19) If you can get a budget, stick with it.  If you don’t have a budget, keep your own eye on expenses.  Be a miser, but spend when you must (See PMI. See also Drinking Mass Quantities on Weekends).

20) Management believes in professional experts but you don’t necessarily have to.  Management pays experts, while you will suffer from them.  All experts are merely people with opinions that happen to be in vogue.

21) Be careful of managers who want to supervise.  They don’t have the time to be good supervisors, nor the tact to handle unwilling workers (they’re all unwilling), and those types of managers are apparently not doing their own job of money laundering, er, management and planning if they’re out on the floor fucking with your people.

22) Don’t screw your boss’s wife.

23) Don’t screw your boss.

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All things die.  It seems our genetic codes have some sort of fuse that ticks down and wears away the life force that keeps our bodies vital.  There may come a day when mankind through the science and curiosity God has implanted in His divine creations will discover a method for slowing, halting or even reversing that ticking genetic fuse and controlling the march of time itself given that we in our limited perspective judge time by the progress of our aging.  At that point we will be faced with a choice we haven’t seen since the original Garden of Eden.  Shall we eat from the tree of life?  If we learned anything from the first choice and the devastating results of our decision to eat from the tree of knowledge, we might consider stepping away from the capacity to offer eternal life on earth.  That would be a fundamental shift in the concept of mortality and it would signal a challenge to God’s power rivaled only by the one third of the angelic masses who rose up behind the Archangel and were cast out.  Challenging God has no good track record.  A single heretofore undiscovered microbe could suddenly emerge and wipe out the planet.  An asteroid or part thereof could slam into the spinning globe and nudge it from its axis or warp its elliptical orbit and destroy the atmosphere for living beings.  A nuclear war or worse could…  God has many weapons at hand.  They are what we dismissively refer to as the threads by which life hangs.  When man can, however, he will.  That choice is hard-wired into our psyche.  We know it.  God knows it.  The fountain of youth and eternal life will be discovered through genetic manipulation and we will meet God’s justice just as we did as Adam and Eve so long ago.  Forgive us, Lord, for we know not what we do.

For now, we face mortality.  We grieve our losses, especially those cut short which come before the last tick of the internal genetic fuse.  A life foreshortened is untold precious moments unlived and opportunities for good untaken.  Even in the animal kingdom, long life is treasured.  The old alpha male will fight his last fight with every ounce of strength within him, and some supplemental power that comes from a wellspring of the life force which refuses to go gentle into that good night.

For farmers, animal life span is measured in its service to mankind.  Beasts of burden work until they can no longer.  The farmer may then slaughter the animal or put it out to pasture.  In either case, the life of the animal has run its full course. Food crop animals are raised for their contribution of protein to mankind.  We are omnivores and thrive on protein.  The farmer and cattle man serves this need as the hunter did once solely for the tribe (and let us have no illusions: just as we are peaceful gatherers, so we are the most lethal of hunters. Our teeth, both grinders and canines, define us.).  A food source animal has lived its full life when it has grown to maturity and is ripe for slaughter and consumption.  Many people balk at the idea of butchery and slaughter, and do this while chewing a fast food hamburger.  We are complex and paradoxical creatures who demand our wants and needs and often will not face the processes required to obtain those very items. Among us are few willing to step, sharpened ax in hand, through the abattoir door and into the process of butchery, just as fewer still are willing to stand beside the scaffold’s trap door gripping the latch handle which would send a condemned murderer to his death. Yet the many expect there will be and depend upon the few who will. So the farmer and rancher toil toward their ends.

When a farmed animal dies before it can be sold for slaughter it has not lived its full life.  The farmer grieves the loss of stock, the loss of money, and in his or her heart the loss of a life snuffed too early.  The farmer takes grave not of the death, unlike the urbanite who drives past a hit and run animal on the roadside unconcerned but for a certain sense of disgust and a wish that the animal control department would do its job more quickly; the farmer looks into the death and sees to it that others do not die of the same thing.  The death means something in its warning heeded and steps taken to preserve other life.  Would that the urbanite cared so deeply.  Would that mankind could look into the face of global famine, disease and war with the same eye toward analysis, and action toward prevention.

Death is not without its communicative skills.  It announces itself first in an utter and profound lack of communication.  The silence of the grave it has been called and grave indeed is the depths of its refusal to commune further with the living.  Once knowledge of the third bank of the river is attained, no further need of communication with the living is deemed necessary.  It is probably a kindness that the back and forth terminates, we poor inadequate beings so unskilled in interpreting the messages from beyond, the depths of profundity achieved in the utter void we perceive, a void we  allow ourselves to interpret, a void which is in fact knowledge expanded out to the universal and in to the infinitesimal, the elements of atoms and the structure of galaxies being equal and far beyond our mortal grasp.  Oh, what a kindness to find death’s first allowance as the rescinding of knowledge, the apple being only the first bite of kenning while the complexity of the tree continues denied us in God’s great awareness.  We simply could not have handled the more.

Yet death communicates further once silence is established.  Smell is a clear signal, a sign of death, a sign life has taken over and turned what once was into a new degenerative process odiferous and bold on a microscopic scale, bacterial and majestic, consuming what was and is and becoming already the basics of what can now be, what needs to be, for the future of growth and life.  The smell of death, so repugnant to our sensitivities, is itself beyond our frail understanding, a sign from God himself that all things go on and become one and one squared and one times the speed of such a thing squared and that is the whole of it in our nostrils and we recoil from the knowledge and appreciation of the grand plan.  Not, surely, the message we want, but the one we need. The olfactory message accepted/rejected, we focus and continue on in the present, content with the tiny space before us, our minds and hands to work saving the school, the flock, the herd, us, and happy to know no more of the passing beyond because the immediate presses upon us so heavily and absent the quick cannot matter now.

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There was once a young Marielito with wondrous olive skin.  His eyes were jet black and burned with an inner fire.  His shoulders were broad and his waist narrow.  His teeth were large, white and straight.  He was tall and stood with a pride some whispered bordered on arrogance.  But this was a slight misrepresentation. El Rey de los Marielitos, as he was called, lived on the side of Hialeah west of Palm Avenue.  His followers, La Pandilla Oeste, gathered offerings from local businessmen, and dealt in illicit powders and herbal medications, carnal social services, and the occasional wagers and loans.  El Rey and his cadres as one worshiped a scar-faced god of local legend, a product of cinema based loosely on the Capone of Chicago mythology.

An older but nearly as regal man led a following with similar interests in the land east of Palm Avenue.  They worshiped an ancient God spoken of only in the dark shadows of night.  The god’s name was Bautista and his central concept was flagrant consumption.

The Chief of Police in Hialeah, Chief Juevosagre, was fond of chasing the two groups around and shaking them down for remuneration.  He presented the activity to local businessmen as crime control and enlisted their money and time in his pursuits.

The businessmen were not ignorant, having seen many of these same activities in pre-Castro Cuba.  So they decided upon a plan to limit their losses.  They hired a bounty hunter of their own to track down as many members of both sides of the Palm Avenue syndicates as humanly possible and deliver them to the Chief, thus effectively emasculating the Chief’s protection racket.

The bounty hunter was ex-CIA and very well-connected and good at his commissioned job.  In a matter of weeks he had locked up in various warehouses across the city a great number of both of the pandillas.  He then went to the Chief and invited him to visit at any time to take in as many or few criminals as needed for that week’s news media release.

The Chief, delighted by the convenience, visited often, gathering huge numbers of suspects one day for a front page spread, and deciding upon fewer arrests other days to maintain a plausible balance.  As time passed this new system came to cost both sides of the Avenue a great amount of money in bail and bribes to release their followers from holding cells.  In this way, the Chief recovered and even surpassed the money lost to the no longer necessary protection of the businessmen. This new arrangement hurt both pandillas deeply financially; but more importantly the great pride of the criminals was injured. So the two powerful leaders decided to meet to talk things over.

On a beautiful, breezy day at the now-defunct Hialeah horse track, El Rey de los Marielitos and his counterpart met over mojitos and contraband Cojiba cigars.  “Padron,” El Rey said. “Many of our people are being incarcerated at great expense to us both. We look bad and recruitment is down. Que pena! Suppose we break through this bounty system and work directly with Chief Juevosagre?  We can offer him as many people as he needs to perpetuate the myth of his greatness, be rid of this hideous bounty hunter, and reduce cost overall, with greater control over our own affairs which have been so disrupted by unexpected arrests.”

The leader of the east side syndicate agreed. “Es una idea con cojones, Capo,” he noted. So a lottery was set up to serve the needs of the Chief and cut out the bounty hunter who was found one night with a mint leaf sprouting from a hole in the side of his head.

El riesgo da vida as it was called continued flawlessly for a long time with the names of all involved in either organization in the lottery box and at risk for being chosen. One day, however, the name of the mistress of the east side leader was chosen at random and she was to be offered up.  Chief Juevosagre had always had an eye for this young beauty and he was eager to take her into his protection for at least one night.  The woman pled her case to her lover who, unbeknownst to her, had taken another mistress more resembling his own wife when she had been younger.  Thus was the innocent woman surprised to hear her lover say “Your number is up.  You go as the rest. Es el riesgo da vida, mi amor.”

Shocked, the woman rushed to the west side and begged El Rey for mercy.  “You are a victim of Latin passion,” he told her.  “I will take your place in the lottery for the sake of divine mercy.” Here is the mysterious wonder of the wicked. In his heart he felt he carried many of the dark scars of sins against his own wife.  He was, after all, un Latino con machismo. This noble gesture of personal sacrifice gave him the illusion of contrition, compensation and repentance.

And so, on the appointed night, Chief Juevosagre was duly appalled to find El Rey and not a beautiful and vulnerable young woman waiting for him in a motel room beside the Miami River off Okeechobee Road.  El Rey, tired of the abuses of the Chief and feeling he could work more effectively with a certain Captain Caribineros who could easily be promoted through election to Chief, dispatched Juevosagre with a single blow from a sugar cane machete.

A controlled war erupted between local law enforcement and the two syndicate groups.  One day the pandilla leaders met again for umo y refrescos.  The leader from the east said “I never saw such kindness and mercy as you showed my ex that night.  Nor such gall and blood-lust you presented the old Chief. You have revealed to me a softer and more subtle side of leadership. Suave, muy suave.”

“Until now,” replied El Rey, and promptly shot his rival between the eyes with a small bore .38. “The good deserve better,” he told the corpse, tapping gently the long ash of his cigar to drop it in the gathering pool of blood.  “And the bad deserve much worse than they get.”