I’m sure I’m not alone with such an experience, nor was it my very first. It happens, though, to be a memorable occasion facing the reality of a market-driven (I had no concept of that at the time) choice.

In one of the publications I turned to those days, the market showed me something new and shiny. I had to have it! Had to!

My search began. No hope on the Iron Range. A stab at Twin Ports stores did no better. Luckily, a family visit to far-off Chicago yielded results. I’d saved, yes I did, for these modern, not-to-be-seen-on-any-other Ranger feet. I was the proud possessor of stylish Italian shoes, pointy, black, with small gold medallions. Months of search and dream fulfilled. Then (as the Earl of Oxford possibly put it) the rub.

I had the coolest most with-it shoes of any 15-year-old on the east Range. Soon as I put them on (in private, never public) I realized I wasn’t pimp material.  

Ever since teenage me had that experience I’ve been more personally aware of the power of the shiny marketing dangle. Effective marketing sells (by playing to our wants and weaknesses). The question is how much do I have to buy? I try to hold back, not be taken in. But selling is everywhere and then some.

Whether teenager shoes or retiree investing, the folks selling a new “product” are ones making me go “WHOA!”  

You know you’re far enough down the track to be near the station when people say of you “sharp as a tack.” Even worse when “still” precedes “sharp.” The intent may be kindly, but the message is that of the grim-reaper in a shepherd outfit.  

Before he died, Mark Twain was a strong promoter of the type setting device known as the Paige Compositor, a brilliant machine with tens of thousands of parts. Brilliant, but also brilliantly unreliable. Twain lost a fortune backing Paige brilliance.

I’m reminded of too many devices these days that insist on doing too much, much of which I don’t want, need or have asked for. I think no small appliance should be smart, ever. A respectable toaster makes toast and that’s it, period.  

Had an interesting conversation (call it that or a lecture) on privilege. I get the concept, but the judgmental tone is religiously zealous enough to put me off. No thanks. Please don’t act as if your interpretation of my life is the one I have to accept. No. Can’t do it. Here’s part of why.

My mother, large family, lost her father when she was twelve. He died of heart failure at work. To save her shoes from wear she walked barefoot to school until she got close. Maybe she lied about being poor. Eight years later she was working night’s dong piece-work (that’s one to look up) at a bindery.

Around 2 am coming home she was robbed, refused to part with her engagement ring (working nights was to build a nest egg for marriage) and was stabbed. Uninsured, her family and fiancé covered the expenses. Not sure those details fit a popular narrative.

And then shoal waters of danger. Before racial privilege was a topic there was (cast aside some time ago) talk of racial burden; some groups seen as providing more than others. Privilege and burden are not identical, but might be related concepts. If one is invalid so might the other?  

Do you remember LSMFT? I’m reminded of those letters fairly often.  

Isn’t it ironic? I mean just about everything seems to get there. Take diversity. In practice this looks like conformity to a set of behavioral rules. Or take hate speech. How hateful is hating hate speech? Does a pronoun define or represent me? In a limited, convenient way, OK. But beyond that? Pronouns don’t say much.

But to get ahead of the curve I bought a title and can be called Lord instead of by name. Ironical use of a noun as a pronoun.  

I was recently offered insurance to cover a passive lint collector for a washing machine. Basically a nylon mesh, such as a panty-hose but smaller. There are no moving parts to insure for breakage or failure. When the filter filled up and effectively stopped working it would mean it had done its job. What exactly the insurance was for escapes my understanding, but interesting to note it’s offered and scary to consider some will buy it.  

We forget, well back in time, pre-America, both the Chinese and Europeans put special emphasis on the de-gendered (early form trans?) as eunuchs and castrati. (Neither the first or only.) In imperial or clan households a eunuch could rise to considerable authority and power. The castrati were revered for their singing ability. Far as I’m aware no eunuch or castrati ever regrew what they cut off.  

I suspicion that some (perhaps many or most) of those fretting over carbon from gas stoves and furnaces don’t see many (or any) zero and below nights in their world and are rather oblivious to the concerns of home heating in favor of keeping the AC on in their workplaces and condos.  

I was and still am fond of and supportive of higher education. S’ far as I know I was first on either side of the family to get a four-year degree. But here’s a thing. Higher ed. was a good fit for me because I wasn’t good or suited for much else. I had, you might say, no practical value.

And, oddly, in the university environment of my ancient day it was widely recognized that the holders of some degrees were going to end up frying burgers due to insufficient demand for clinical psychologists and modern dancers. You get the idea, one not lost on my parents who (until I swung over to something with earning potential) wondered aloud and often what I’d do to support myself as something other than a naturalist camper.  

Law enforcement aimed at parents would be safer than going after drug dealers.