Marveling at the State of the World

As I move through my day, more and more I’m looking around at the world and marveling at human intervention. Humans have taken over everything and they seem to take it completely for granted. In fact they do take it completely for granted. It isn’t even questioned, yet it seems so bizarre to me. I’ll see a lamp post or a sidewalk or a building and think This doesn’t have to be here. But it is and it is because humans have taken over the world.

As we are isn’t natural. We put ourselves in charge when we shouldn’t be. Even this typing and this website isn’t natural; I recognize this. There is so much that humans do and so much time that humans spend that isn’t necessary. We go about our days and live our lives as if any of this is how things are supposed to be, as if it matters more than anything, but it isn’t how things are supposed to be and it doesn’t matter the most. We aren’t supposed to control so much.

More and more lately I catch myself stopping and staring at a thing and amazed that the thing exists, and I realize that the humans who put it there were not thinking how odd it was that they created what they did. Yesterday while using the toilet, I noticed that the buttons on my button-fly jeans said “Loft.” Down each one, Loft, Loft, Loft. Somewhere some human decided that the buttons on pants sold at the Loft need to say Loft on them. That person found someone who could get others to carve this word into these buttons. That person hired others who made the tools to carve the word Loft into those buttons. They hired people to use those tools. They carved the word Loft into thousands and thousands of buttons, popping them out like little coins falling into a bucket, filling a container made through the same process, filling baggies and sending them to the place where jeans are made, sewing them onto those jeans, packaging those, and then mailing them all over the world to sell to the likes of me. Humans set up these immense and complex supply chains. Really, it boggles the mind.

I like my jeans. They’re comfortable enough. They serve their purpose. But seriously, how many people does it take to make a pair of jeans? 800? It seems we have created these immense and complex supply chains to give ourselves some purpose because we’ve lost sight of what our purpose really is. I’m not sure what that purpose was intended to be, but I’m positive that humans taking over the world and making things like buttons with the word Loft on them isn’t it.

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The Gap is so Dumb

The Gap is so dumb.  Okay, I know my even saying that is dumb, but seriously, it is.  I don’t love the Gap.  I don’t like their business practices very much, plus some of their stuff is really expensive for what it is (although I realize their model is to price really high then get people to buy on sales).

Anyway, even though I don’t love them, I will go in there for t-shirts and things because they are one of the few places left that sell t-shirts that are not so thin you can see through them. I hate that trend.  I think the stores want us to think we are supposed to layer them or something, but that’s a load of baloney.  First of all, once a person is past 24, layering a bunch of t-shirts looks ridiculous, like you’re trying to be 19 again or something.  Secondly, if you are more than 98 pounds, layering a bunch of t-shirts just makes you look bigger and if you’re already bigger than you want to be, why would you want to look bigger still?  Finally, I think their pretending like that is what we are supposed to be doing is a load of crap.  Retailers just want to charge the same price for a crappy thin t-shirt as we pay for one that is woven more densely, that way they make more money for less product.  That’s the ultimate point, I think, to get us all used to thin, junky t-shirts so we think the thick ones are a luxury and they can charge more.

Again, anyway.  The point of my saying the Gap is so dumb is that I bought this shirt at the Gap recently on clearance (their model, get you to buy on clearance because that is all their junk is worth), and it had this tag on it that read THIS FABRIC IS PURE SPRING, LIGHT AND AIRY WITH A SOFT SEXY DRAPE.  Wow.  Seriously?  Having worked for my very feminine, gay uncle in his fashion designing business, I have to ask, “What drag queen came up with that bullshit, anyway?”  Pure spring — seriously?  Soft, sexy drape?  Um, no.

Another reason the Gap is stupid is that lately they have been trying out this “sexy drape” thing on many clothing items by sewing in horrible folds and creases in places where there should be none.  It’s like they want to permanently place an ugly wrinkle after wearing something to sleep in.  For instance, they have these tank tops with straps that are bent, then sewn, then bent.  Basically, it makes the strap not lie flat.  I don’t want straps that don’t lie flat because they don’t lie in a straight line either, which means half the time my bra strap is hanging out.  Now, there are tops I will wear with my bra straps showing because that is the look, but this tank top is not one of them.  It looks like a dressy tank top only it has this ugly, weird twisty strap thing going on, and you can’t iron it out.  Unfortunately, when I bought the shirt, I thought the strap was just messed up and needed to be ironed, so I bought the shirt.  Unfortunately again, I bought it with some things I bought for Milla, she carried the bag, and she put the receipt inside the bag.  This means that when we got home and she dumped her things out and I forgot about my shirt for a few days, by the time I remembered it and realized the strap was a big mess, the receipt was lost.  This did, however, provide me with an opportunity to explain to Milla that she should place the receipt in my wallet from now on, so all was not lost in the cause, although I don’t think the lesson was worth $18.99.

In any case, I have this weird label here from another shirt I bought there on clearance.  This shirt was only like $4.99, down from $78 — seriously, Gap?  Seriously?  Are you smoking crack? Do you think ANYONE in their right mind is going to buy this junk for that?  — But I digress.  The shirt in question is made from some kind of drapey fabric.  It is made to wear under a suit jacket or something, which is what I bought it for.  But it too has a weird flap sewn in that makes zero sense.  When I bought it, I noticed the flap and examined it carefully to see whether I could sew or iron it into something normal.  I could, and the price was right, so I bought it.  I had also tried on many others with weird twists or drapes or whatever the hell that I did not buy because they were such big messes, there was no way ironing or sewing would work things out, but this one was okay.  I also tried on some pants where they sewed in messed up, wrinkly cuffs.  I don’t like messed up, wrinkly cuffs.  I like my cuffed pants to have the cuffs lying flat and even all around.  Ewww.  Did not buy those even though they were only $7.99 or something on clearance. The ridiculous cuffs were probably why they were so cheap on clearance.

So I bring home this shirt and hang it in the closet, then take it out to iron the weird wrinkle thing and see this tag and have to wonder about the drag queen who wrote it. Actually, it was probably a committee of drag queens because corporations love committees to come up with stupid things to try and get people to buy.  The drag queens are probably the kind who can’t get a job at Calvin Klein or Prada or whatever, so they are working at the Gap trying to break into the business.  I don’t know.  In any case, they come up with these stupid sewn in wrinkles and flaps then add a tag that says PURE SPRING, LIGHT AND AIRY WITH A SOFT SEXY DRAPE.  Another aside, Gap, if you are going to use the one comma, why not go all the way and use them in other places too, like after the word sexy?  But again a digression.  I had to laugh.  You think you can sew in weird flaps and the clothing item is now going to have a soft, sexy drape?  No.  It doesn’t work that way, especially on mass-produced, sweatshop from China crap from the Gap.

I’m just saying.

Mini Rant Against Retailers

Headline on Yahoo! today:  Retailers Report Weak June Sales.

Well, duh.  Has anyone been to retail stores lately?  Especially clothing stores?  It’s like retailers think we are all rolling in dough or something.  And even if we were rolling in dough, the prices on shitty crap made in China are obscene, especially at stores that like to capitalize on brand names.  Most of the stuff is piteously and poorly made, but it has a label in it, so the store charges a small fortune.  T-shirts that are so thin they are see-through.  Clothes have seams where the threads are already coming out before the clothes have even been sold.  Then the retailers want $50 or $60 for them.  And it isn’t just clothes.  Bottles of plain lotion are $15.  Razor blades–razor blades! those little pieces of metal that cost about .20 cents–are 20 bucks a pack, just so people can have four in a row.  Cereal is $6 a box, when the cost to make cereal is lower than it has ever been. It’s insane.

Here’s a clue stores:  Want to sell more stuff?  Lower prices to an affordable and reasonable level.  Forty bucks for a t-shirt is too much, especially a crappy, see-through t-shirt.  Seventy bucks for pants is ridiculous, especially since you can’t seem to vary your sizes so that people can buy things that fit.  $100 or more for a purse is stupid, especially since, in my experience, the straps or buckles break within a couple of months.  Marking things as “on sale” with a higher MSRP is for fools.  You may have been able to sell your crap for ridiculous prices a couple of years ago, but times have changed (and people were probably buying all your crap on credit then anyway.  Now the bills are due and the job is gone and there isn’t anything left to spend with.).

A special note to Goodwill:  Your stuff is USED.  Trying to sell a suitcase with a hole in it for forty bucks is never going to make you a penny. I can go buy a NEW one for that price, without the hole!  Used clothes for $10 or $15 is too much.  And an old, ratty, smelly couch for $150 is TOO MUCH!  Your racks are FILLED with crap you will never sell because, guess what?  Your prices are too high for used junk.  There was a bunch of flack a couple of years ago about your CEO making too much money.  Stop charging too much and giving the money you do make to the CEO.  Start helping the people you put on your trucks and in your ads in your pitiful attempts to look like d0-gooders and actually charge prices these people could afford.

America the Ugly

Milla’s dad informed me that a store I was looking for was in Longmont, Colorado.  Considering I have explored the south and the east of Boulder fairly well, and also considering Milla was spending the day with her dad, I decided to traipse on over to see if I could find the store and check out the town.

No offense to Longmontites, but what a disappointment.  Longmont is covered in ugly, bland, spread-out big box stores and their smaller corporate cousins.  The houses were modern bland equivalencies, the sort preferred by developers who buy their blueprints from Plans-R-Us.  Maybe I turned around to leave too soon, but I did not discover a prettier town center.  I had to get out.  The place sucked the life out of me.  Like so many truly homogenized American towns, the place had no aesthetics, no character, nothing.  No wonder so many Americans are depressed.

Going to Longmont, Colorado was exactly the same as going to Redding, California, which was exactly the same as going to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which was exactly the same as going to Beaverton, Oregon, only flatter.  With few exceptions, American towns have zero character.  It is impossible to tell you are in another city in another state other than the fact that the license plates are different.  People lament the lack of community in America today; perhaps part of the problem is that we can’t tell one community from the other any more.

Longmont resembled the tri-cities area of eastern Washington nearly identically.  One thing Oregon has that seems to be sorely lacking in both Washington and Colorado is an urban growth boundary.  In both Colorado and Washington, buildings sprout seemingly out of nowhere, randomly placed wherever the landowner had a whim, regardless how well it fits with the landscape or where a town ends.  Lots of developers in Oregon bitch about the growth boundary, but I’m all for it.  It forces people to be creative with the space they do have.  In towns in Oregon where the boundary has been extended, the decimated orchards and fields are replaced with cloned McMansions, cloned townhomes, and hideous utilitarian corporate chains.  In the coming weeks, yards will be filled with hideous, plastic, walmart holiday atrocities.  Wretched.

While I’m not a huge fan of overly ornate, clean has translated into purely utlitarian, which basically means completely ugly.  Who knows, maybe clean wasn’t the culprit.  Perhaps it has more to do with rape and pillage development, make as much money as possible and get out.  Whatever happened to wanting to make something look nice?  Whatever happened to originality?  It was all sacrificed at the alter of the almighty dollar.

There is that Cree proverb that states, “Only when the last tree has withered, the last fish has been caught, and the last river has been poisoned, will you realize you cannot eat money.”  It seems when money is the only consideration or the highest consideration, not only are life and nature sacrificed, so too is beauty.  What a shame.

We should change the name of the song “America the Beautiful.”  It does not hold true any longer.  We are now America the Boring, America the Utilitarian, America the Ugly.  We don’t need some futuristic, sci-fi warning of a world in a plastic bubble to worry about.  We’re already there.

Getting a Great Summer Body

So Yahoo says I can get a summer body in 4 weeks. Wow! A summer body. Just what I always wanted! I’m going to have to get me one of those. I’m not sure if I have to order it from Yahoo or if I can search around for a better deal on the internet. I’m hoping if I shop around, it won’t be terribly expensive, especially with gas prices what they are.  I’m hoping the summer body I find is tall. I like tall bodies. And not terribly muscular, but toned. Yes, toned would be good. Of course, that would mean the body would probably have to be somewhat young so the muscles haven’t atrophied or anything. I don’t particularly care what color skin it has, as long as it’s not scraping off or something like that. I really would like my summer body to actually have skin.  And tan would be good, but not fake orange tan, real tan, if it’s still fresh and not peeling.  I would prefer my summer body has not been mutilated or otherwise defaced. Bodies like that are probably cheaper, but yuck, you know? I wonder what they do to the bodies to keep them from smelling bad. Summer deodorant? And I’ve heard finger and toenails keep growing. I wouldn’t want my summer body to have icky nails. It might be kind of cool if my summer body has hair that has grown longer. I could braid it or maybe even turn it into dreads.

Overall, I’m pretty excited about getting a new summer body. The winter/spring one is starting to decompose and I was considering moving it into the compost pile. This will be a great way to start the season!

Dogs, Blogs, and the Nice Manager at Target

My silly little dog hurt his back leg.  I suspect he injured it while jumping off the couch or the bed.  In any case, it appears to be a soft tissue injury and, while he is limping, he seems to be improving.  He does not like to step on it and walks gingerly.  Today I took him out to go potty and it was hilarious.  He wanted to lift the back left leg which would have forced him to stand on his back right, the injured leg.  He couldn’t do it.  I kept cracking up because he seemed so unwilling to lift the hurt leg to pee, even though he was holding it higher to keep from standing on it than he holds it while peeing.   Poor little guy.  He’s trying to pee and I’m laughing at him.

Now I’m sitting here typing and having to contend with greyhound nose.  Edna’s nose is just the right height to insist upon a pet from keyboard hands.  Yesterday I was practicing my new bass guitar (oh my gosh I’m hooked, it is so much fun!) and Edna kept coming over and nosing my hand while I plucked.  Maybe she wants to play too.  Silly thing.

Today Milla and I went to Target to buy her a new coat.  I normally do not shop at Target.  I think their business practices are as abhorrent as Walmart’s.  However, Milla received two gift cards for Target for Christmas and she needs a coat so I figured we could use the cards that way.  Well, while we were in the store, I put the cards in my pocket.  We found a jacket and headed up front to pay.  I reached into my pocket and one of the cards was gone.  I was so frustrated.  We combed the store looking everywhere, retracing our steps.  We did not find it.  I went up front to ask if the store had a lost and found, but the woman I asked just looked at me like I was a ghost or something and did not answer.  More frustrated, I asked a security guard who was walking by.  I didn’t have much hope it would have been turned in, but it was worth fifteen bucks so I thought we should try.  There was a rather young guy walking with the guard.  He asked us about the card, what happened, etcetera.  He then said he would look in lost and found.  In the meantime, Milla and I had picked up a cheaper jacket we had considered and were in line to pay for it.  While there, the young manager came over and gave us another fifteen dollar card.  I was speechless. We left the store and drove off.  I then realized I needed to go back and tell him thank you so we did.  He was really nice about it.  He said he thought they would find the card during cleanup after closing, but he wasn’t terribly concerned.  That guy earned bonus points from me.  I have never gotten that kind of service from Target.

While typing that my half Lab, half border collie dog, Molly, came over and said hi.  She shoved her nose under my hand for a pet.  I’m here, she said.  Pet me.  Now it’s Edna again.  I love my dogs.  Anyway, that was our afternoon.  Wasn’t that exciting?  And isn’t my life exciting that this is what I’m writing about?  Yep.  I know it is.