18 March 2015

More From the Tortured Genius and his Views on Superstition and Ghosts and His Learning About an Ex Classmate



“Life's single lesson: that there is more accident to it than a man can ever admit to in a lifetime and stay sane.”  - From the novel V by Thomas Pynchon.

"Run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality" - from Howl by Allen Ginsberg.

Yesterday I wrote about my bizarre contention that knocking on wood serves no real purpose and that I also see no scientific basis for a belief in astrology (as none exists). I’m reminded now of a friend recent telling about his niece having a baby. It seems that when she and her husband got to the hospital and took what she would need out of the trunk they found a $100 bill in said truck. The conclusion drawn by one and all in the family was that it had been left there for them by one of the niece’s grandparents, my friend’s parents. Never mind that these two people are deceased. My friend and his three siblings discussed whether they thought the money was placed there by their mother or father.

This assumes that there are banks in the afterlife. Not to mention that the dear departed can make withdrawals and place money wherever they choose. Questions arise. Why don’t all dead people look after poor living descendants by dropping them some money? Is it possible for ghosts to cause inflation by leaving too much money in this world? Why just a c note?

Well if someone firmly believes that her or his dead parents are leaving cash around or indeed if people just want to believe that the deceased walk among us that's their privilege. I can’t prove a negative so I better just let it go. Mind you I did not contradict my friend’s story no more than I would tell a religious person that their belief’s are a lot of hooey. Strange things and the unexplained do happen. For example for decades I futilely rooted for a particular baseball team to finally win a World Series and they’ve gone and won three in the last five years. Okay, maybe not the same thing.

But speaking of sports I do things all the time for “good luck” when watching one of my favorite teams, whether on TV or in person. I walk a certain route, I wear certain clothes, I’ll sit in a certain spot. I always know that nothing I do impacts the game in the slightest. But the thing about watching sports is one feel so powerless. Sure you can be part of crowd noise but even at that you’re just one voice among perhaps tens of thousands. Really you’re just stuck looking and hoping. So you fool yourself into thinking that you can impact the game. It’s universal too. Sports fans all over the world are the same in this respect and have been probably since the first competitive sports were played.

Also yesterday I shared a story I wrote about a high school romance that was derailed before it really began because the girl in question didn't like my astrological sign. I prefaced the story by saying that the subject of the story is deceased. After publishing the post I googled her and learned nothing other than she died at age 43 and was living in Berkeley at the time. That was it. In looking for more I found about the death of someone else in my high school graduating class. His name was Joe Feller and we were regular classmates from about seventh grade through senior year. I don't recall us ever hanging out together but we were always quite friendly. He was among the many classmates I got along with famously who was Jewish although, I don't know that he was ever devout or ever even entered a synagogue. Joe had black bushy hair, was tall and slender, smiled constantly and was kick ass students. I doubt he ever had many if any enemies. While I was off with others getting high he was hitting the books. While I drank and partied through my 20s he was, well here's what I read about him:

He received a bachelor's in physics from Harvard University and a PH.D in physics at U.C. Berkeley. Joe next served as a physics professor at Columbia University. Realizing that his true passion was environmental law, he left Columbia and attended Harvard Law School, where he served as editor for the Harvard Law Review, a distinction he shares with President Barack Obama. From 1987 to his death in 2013, Joe was a law professor at Arizona State University, where he taught and mentored many students in the field of environmental law. He made and kept friends wherever he went and from all walks of life. Joe was genuinely modest and few people knew of his many achievements, which may have been his greatest achievement of all.

I subsequently read more about Joe and watched a slide show from his memorial that revealed a life that may have been cut short but was certainly not wasted. He was a great outdoor enthusiast who loved nature and travel and seemed to have a close family and large group of friends. The photos in the slide show reveal the same smile I remember, the same slim figure, though by the last half of his life the hair was considerably shorter.

Joe was killed crossing a street. It wasn't the driver's fault, Joe was crossing against the do not walk sign. Damn it! Discovering all this was a good sharp slap across the psyche.

My obituary will say: the idiot had a blog and somehow managed a wife and two children. His hobbies included grumpiness, grouchiness and general irritability. He'll be remembered for colossal mistakes and falling ass backwards into way more good luck than he deserved. He liked dogs though he didn't have one.

Anyway I may have time to beef up that obit although its kind of late in the game to make it really shine.

Son of a bitch, poor Joe.

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