Flexible Complexity

I love the sound of that title phrase, and so I’m using it, and now I just gotta come up with some stuff to go with it. Trying to fill in a post with what one might expect to find under such a title seems banal, so let’s just explain that I haven’t posted in a while (because of busyness, tiredness, March) and want to get back in the ol’ saddle of blogging, so to speak.

So here are some recent things I’ve learned from my observations:

1. Any minister who says “I’m just jokin’, I’m just jokin'” at a funeral, in the context of no perceptible joke, may not be doing a good job of funeralizing. Also, it may not help to remind the surviving spouse — in the middle of a prayer — that he’ll be facing lots of loneliness and dinners for one in his coming weeks and months.

2. I know I’ve spent too much time in my rural county when I travel one county east and am amazed at how beautiful strip malls can be. A Starbucks, for Pete’s sake, seems a like an oasis in the commercial desert that is my home county.

It’s not just me that thinks my home-county is getting decrepit. A local newspaper, the Oregon Republican Reporter, last week printed a “Public Voice” letter written by someone who “grew up” in a local town but who now resides in a much nicer Chicago suburb, which letter advises Oregon’s “park district, school district, realtors [sic], chamber of commerce and the city .. to get together now and do something about [t]he decaying downtown district, decline in school enrollment, too many houses for sale, no new houses being built, and no new industry.” Also, “the community also needs young families with children and something needs to be done about that now.”

This is the kind of thing that is easier to publish once one has already left. One’s neighbors tend not to appreciate such critiques. Of course, it’s far easier for one to up and leave than it is to stay and struggle. But what are ya gonna do? Just because it’d be nice if some kindly developers would come along and gentrify everything in Ogle County doesn’t mean they will.

3. Other great titles I’ve heard lately, for which works should be created:

a. Sounds Like, Might Be, Coulda Been (said a waitress, describing how she wrote what might have been the name of the person who ordered food over the telephone)

b. Like Vinegar, and Betrayal (from a restaurant review in the 24 March 2014 New Yorker magazine)

c. Mid-Op Transsexuals (does anybody need to name a punk band?)

d. Staying Awake Makes You Sleepy (said my wife today)

e. Calm Down, Sensei! (said one of my students in study hall to another student who had just done some kind of quasi-martial-arts kick)

f. The Last Thing This World Needs Is Another Me (said one of my students last week)

g. Hey, Your Elephant Has a Really Nice Trunk (as one of my teacher colleagues said, as a facetious example of finding things to praise about a child’s drawing)

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