Notes from the Old Man in the Attic

An analog man in a digital world.

A friend in Hungary sent me an article about Swedes buying online. Swedes have always been very attached to their cellphone. My wife uses it constantly and we get packages each week. I thought she was going nuts buying things, then I realized it was the same sort of things she always gets, but she’s buying online.  We bought a car online. I still can’t believe it. She saw this newish used car on the internet. What was exactly what she was looking for. She arranged a meeting and after a ten-mile test drive we bought it, for the same price as it said online. No haggling? Do they haggle in Sweden? It was strange experience, almost a shock . . . happened so fast. The car’s been good, no problems.

My dad took weeks to buy a car, would look at more than one, and haggle. He out haggled a new car dealer by making him compete with another used car dealer who had the same car, each one lowering their price, and more than once to undercut the other. Manager was angry and said he got robbed after the deal was done. Does this happens anymore, or just a 1950’s memory? I wonder if people have time for it. We can search the Net and see more cars in sixty minutes than my dad could in a month. We can movies, and chat with sellers, videos online.

It’s a little scary for me, a sort of wariness, this digital world. The cell phones are addictive and we keep them with us always and are never out of reach. There is a joke about a man who had a phone installed inside his teeth. Phone rings: “Pick up you bastard, I know you’re there.” I think it’s very much like that now, without the inconvenience of a dental visit. This is not the worst of times to shop from home. Good to stay out of crowds of people, most do not wear masks.

When I was a child people were still talking about Lindbergh. Now we go to the stars and float in space. All this in such a short time, less than eighty years.

I try to imagine how things will be twenty years from now and the mind boggles. I wish Bucky Fuller was still with us, he was good at future. I cannot imagine what will happen next, beyond this electrical hook-up we are into now? Seems like we’re all plugged in. What happens after tattoos and skin piercing? What next? I’m sure will not notice as it happens.

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Notes from the Old Man in the Attic – Have-nots.   22 October 2021

Part One

“As it is in Rome, it is in Athens also.” Love this line but can’t remember who it was that said it, ancient Greek or Roman politician or philosopher, I think. Note sent by on-foot messenger, one colleague to another. “It is the same here as it is there.” I’ve been surprised to see the violence and crime in other places than the USA. We’re used to killings, shootings in Chicago every weekend, the odd murder of interest, high school massacres, crooked politics and greed, offshore accounts . . . the virus and the changing weather. All this happening to all of us at the same time, creating universal stress.

I remember Buckminster Fuller predicting a battle between the haves and have-nots. This would begin to happen in the year 2000. It was in the later fifties when he said it. I was in college at the time and I waited to see if it would happen as years passed. 2000 came and went. It didn’t happen, later years the same. I started thinking Bucky got it wrong, but these last years, I think he saw it comin’. Anger of the have-nots . . . inequality is so much in our faces now. We all have a cell phones and TV.  We know what’s going on, or what we’re told is going on. The things we learn from day to day. Subpoenas: I had thought when someone was issued a subpoena and refuse to show, they got arrested. Happens to most of us, but not for some with lots of lawyers. The rich used to hire thugs to beat people up and make them do what they wanted. Lawyers now, the only change is costumes. They wear suits now.

Extraordinary times; an ex-president makes outrageous lies and causes trouble. Many believe the lies or say they do because the lies justify their cause—make things the way they want. He may be a crook and a liar but he’s our crook and liar, and the end will justify the means. As it is here it is there also, politicians, billionaires.

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Coming Soon

It’s strange about humans

The objects they use

Like this thing for instance

It’s orange and it’s huge.

I don’t have a clue as to why is it here

The same thing appears

At the same time each year

Whatever it’s good for is far beyond me

In a couple more months they will bring in a tree.

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Notes from the Old man in the Attic 26 Sept 2021

Thinking about death as I sit here this lazy Sunday afternoon, just passing thoughts, a growing awareness of age, my own and others. Time. I think of Mother Kali, the frightening Hindu deity with a necklace of skulls and a severed head in one hand. Some think of her as simply symbolizing death, she is not death, death is collateral to Kali. She is Time itself, and true enough, no living thing on earth escapes her.

Cat jumps on my lap to beg for snacks. How many years is he allotted for his lifetime? Fourteen if he’s lucky. Some cats make it to their middle twenties, but not many. Seven of his years are gone already, seven left. He might outlive me—could go either way. Cat notices a mockingbird is at the feeder in our yard. How long has he got? Two years? Three? I look it up on Google. Twenty-five to thirty! Wow, I didn’t know a bird could live that long. He will be here when both the cat and I are gone.

It’s almost mystical, they’re here and then they’re gone forever. Friends and lovers dropping off, so missed, and so important in our lives, the email conversations, photos, news of homeland, friends in common, almost all are younger than myself. I’m eight-four this year and do not read obituaries but we see them on the news. The middle age deaths do not get much notice, bad luck, accidents, and the odd suicide. Deaths happening in people’s eighties get more notice and are not uncommon, movie stars and such. It seems like two or three a month. How many of us in our eighties are there? At Google I find 1.9% of us in USA are in our eighties. A small number.  If we make it to the middle eighties there’s a good chance we will see your nineties, 1.6%.

Would I like to make it to my middle nineties? Interesting to think about. More on this next.

Life is the mother of addictions.

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Seeking America

Published: Smoky Blue Lit Arts & Permafrost 2017. It never ends.

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An old hippy song from Afghanistan. Bet you never heard this one!

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Notes from the old man in the attic – 19 Sept. 2021

  Missing America

“The past is a foreign country.” L P Hartley

Thinking about my past today, and a country turned foreign—almost. I miss the weather. Oh, that west coast weather, LA, Santa Monica, and San Francisco, even Seattle . . . sunny days, warm nights—no snow. The US weather is the same as ever I suppose, except for fires, and heat. I miss a lot of other things about America.

I miss my cognitive map of place, a knowing where things are, sense of direction now folded into memory. I’m still a US citizen but lived in Sweden for the last eight years. I watch the news about America. So much of what once was is gone. So many crazy things have happened. Trump. How did he happen? Told the people they were getting screwed by the government and he was right. Enough were angry and agreed enough to voted him in to someplace that would serve his purpose and enabled him to pick our pockets. So it goes.

Today I watched a capital defend itself against a possible riot—hundreds of police and armored cars and fences. A frightening thing to watch from this prospective. Lies have been so common they are accepted, even expected. The only two forces capable of making things better are too busy fighting with each other over what they think is right, too often for themselves and not so much for others. There seems to be a social gestalt . . . acceptance of the incredible things going on. The things people want, like health care, education and environment simply do not happen.

I never thought about capitalism while I was in the USA. It was normal, the way it was and is. But here, in Sweden, Socialism. Wow, such a change. A visit to the doctor costs about ten bucks. Two days in the hospital? Maybe thirty. Education is free, the infrastructure is excellent, and prices for drugs are nominal.

There are so many political parties here I can’t remember them all. There is a Green Party, Social Democrats, Moderates, a Left Party and a Center Party. The list goes on. There are eight of them. It’s almost humorous to this American, but seems to work. Three or four of the parties must join forces in order to get what they want.

The parties in America do not join forces, simply block each other’s choices. What can people do, with just two choices, and the vote itself is under siege. Seems like there would be outrage, protests against government, but we’re too busy as we protest other things—never the cause. You know all this, of course. Just sayin’ USA’s becoming like a third world county to me even though I miss it and the way it was. I wonder what will happen next.

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Help! I’ve been coned!

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1814   Anne Louise Germaine de Staël  

Sometimes even in the habitual course of life, the reality of this world disappears all at once, and we feel ourselves in the middle of its interests as we should at a ball, where we did not hear the music; the dancing that we saw there would appear insane.

1816   Friedrich  Nietzsche

And those who were seen
Were thought to be insane
By those
Who could not here
The music.

2021   Bruce Louis Dodson

And those who were seen dancing
Were thought to be insane
By those world-wide who were not rich . . . some staving
As they watch
Those very few of us eat all they can . . . and more
Pass on what’s left to oligarchs.

This ain’t no dico.

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Notes from The Old Man in the Attic 12 Sept 2021

A million dollars

I read about a man who asked M.L, King if he could have his notes from the ‘I have a dream’ speech. King gave him then notes. The man still has them and has been offered a couple million dollars for them, but he will not sell. It’s interesting—two million dollars, even a million.

When I was young, the middle fifties, a million dollars was a lot of money. Some people had a lot of millions, but that was about it. By the sixties we were hearing about billions—one thousand million. Harder to imagine.  If you started counting now, nonstop, 1,2, 3, etc. it would take you 95 years to get to a billion.  A stack of a billion sheets of paper would be 83 feet high.  We now have 720 billionaires in USA. Jeff Bosos has 117 billion. Hard to imagine.

We didn’t hear of trillions until this last couple of decades. Now we hear the number mostly in relation to the national debt, the 28 trillion some say will be forever impossible to repay. A thousand billion is so big it’s meaningless although we about it on the news each day, requests for infrastructure, maintenance, whatever. Why not add to a debt we know can never be repaid? And yet, some time, someday, seems like these monetary chickens will come home to roost—or maybe not. Hard to imagine what will happen next or how high debt can go?

Thoughts is passing on this rainy, Sunday afternoon.

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