Monday, December 17, 2007

Heal Thyself

A student asked me the other day whether the only reason I teach logic is so that I can call myself a logician. I explained that I am not really a logician, because although I teach logic, it isn't where my philosophical interests really lie.

"No, no," I exclaimed, "I care about things like meaning and the ontological basis for it, questions centrally located within metaphysics. That's why I'm a metaphysician. You, know, sort of like a physician, but even better, meta!" Or should I say that I am an ontologist? I mean, I can't cure your cancer, but I can tell you whether you exist.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Descended from Apes

Mateo usually has to go out one last time right before I have to go to bed. So, that means that after I have brushed my teeth and--in weather like we have been having--put on my sweats, he has to go for a little walk. Because I don't want to have to get up any earlier than my 6 o'clock alarm, I take him to see if he has to poo.

He's a choosy little devil and won't go on the other side of the street near his normal peeing tree--he has just figured out how to pee on vertical surfaces and I am very proud of his leg-lifting efforts--so that means that I have to cross the street where the exit ramp for the interstate empties into our neighborhood. Since people have just been driving 80 mph or more on the 805, they sometimes disregard the speed limit signs and the stop sign and just barrel into our neighborhood. This makes the late-night dog walk a dicey undertaking.

So, on Wednesday last, I had taken Mateo out for a successful visit to a patch of grass a few blocks away and was returning triumphantly to our condo and bed, when I had to re-cross the 805 ramp. I looked, and the nearest car was a good hundred feet down the ramp and not moving too quickly, so I began to cross, Mateo in one hand and the results of his walk in a plastic bag in the other.

The driver, however, didn't seem to be too concerned with the fact that she was entering a neighborhood or that their might be actual people and not just other cars about. So, though I was in front of her with dog in tow, she didn't stop. No big deal, I suppose. I quickly jumped back and pulled Mateo behind me, but she remained oblivious. She continued driving.

But let me tell you this, it is amazing what a well-aimed bag of dog feces can do to make one realize that she should really look more carefully and actually stop at stop signs. And, in case you're wondering poop against a window makes a pleasing sound.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Aesthetic Judgment: Holiday Edition

The first seven people to put a Christmas wreath on the front of their Cadillac or Jeep or station wagon were clever, clever, clever people. The kind of people of whom you think: "Just what will she do next; I sure hope I'm there to see." All of the rest of you, and even the first seven when they went for a repeat performance, are just jackasses.
The same goes for people who put those bull balls on the backs of their trucks. Except in that case, even the first seven don't get a pass.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Highlight of My Weekend

On Sunday, just before I was getting ready to head out on an errand with Fernando and Mateo, a very drunk and very homeless (there are degrees of homelessness after all) man took advantage of one of the semi-private semi-alcoves of our building, using it as a privy.

My natural emotion in almost any situation is anger. It is part of why I am so charming. But at the same time, I don't really like confrontation--in the past I have relied on being threatening to get around actual confrontation. I am like one of those brightly colored but harmless insects. My buzzed head and bigger than average size and the way that I look angry and menacing when I am trying to remember where it is I was going scares people who don't know me, when in fact I am harmless. So, though part of me wanted to yell at him and I muttered something about the police, I wasn't really going to do anything. Off on the errand.

When we got back about an hour and a half later, the man was still in our alley, sleeping off a drunk on the porch of the building across the way. Dutifully--I am on the board of the damned HOA--I dug around in the recycling until I could find a suitable piece of cardboard to scoop up the feces and then I got to scooping. Having scooped, I sprayed down and went to wake the man. I couldn't be too angry, though I had just nearly vomited inside the shirt I had pulled over my nose as a makeshift mask. I asked him to move along and then he wandered away.

But, then I thought, what kind of pseudo-society do we live in where there's not even a place where people can go to the bathroom. Even that little bit of dignity--a private place to take a shit--is removed from people, unless they are a paying customer. Now, I know the arguments against having public restrooms or making restaurants and other businesses open their restrooms to whomever. It raises their costs; it's an unfair burden on the restaurants; whatever. For what it's worth, I didn't much enjoy having to clean up what I did, either. But, I wouldn't want to be that guy.