Author Archives: Gary Johnston

Plan A and Plan B

Some people always have excuses for not showing up when they plan to do something with me.  They will promise to be at a place at a certain time, and then not show.  Their excuses are valid, but they always have excuses.  They insist that they want to see me and do things with me, but they rarely do.

I used to get upset because I would set aside my plans, to meet them for whatever we were going to do, and then they didn’t show.  I no longer get upset.  I stopped expecting them to keep their promises of showing up. When these people are my Plan A, I always have a Plan B.

I make another plan when these people plan to see me. If they show up, then okay.  If not, then I carry on with Plan B.  To paraphrase Alexander Pope, those who expect nothing can never be disappointed.

Extraordinary Moments

My life is a series of extraordinary moments, but sometimes I forget this.  Actually, more than sometimes I forget this.  I allow superficial circumstances to distract me from the miracles.

What miracles?  Reading and writing come to mind.  You are reading black marks on a screen that I first put down on paper with a pencil.  And then I typed and posted them.  Time and distance separates us, yet I am still able to communicate my thoughts to you. The same applies when we read a book of black marks written by someone from a distant time and place.  Time and distance cannot stop communication.  Isn’t that extraordinary?

I don’t appreciate the extraordinary moments when I get annoyed because I don’t get a seat on the crowded subway.  I forget that I am traveling distances and speeds my ancestors could never have conceived of.  I get irritated at standing in a line at the grocery store instead of focusing on how wonderful it is that I can walk and stand.  I worry about not having enough money forgetting that I have always survived by money showing up out of nowhere, and through the generosity family and friends.

It is in my best interests to look past the daily trivialities, and be grateful that every day my life is full of extraordinary moments.

Phloem

In all my banana-eating life, I always called those stringy things on bananas stringy things on bananas.  I never knew their name was phloem (pronounced floem).  They are like veins and carry nutrients to the banana.

How did I learn this?  Today while I was doing some Algebra, a voice in my head said, “What do they call those stringy things on bananas?”  The Algebra problem I was solving had nothing to do with bananas.  I was not eating a banana, and there were no bananas in sight.  So I said to the voice, “I’m dividing polynomials.  What made you ask me a question about bananas?”

“I don’t know,” said the voice. “Obviously you don’t know the answer.  Why don’t you google my question?”

I did.

“Wow!  I never knew that.”

“See?” said the voice. “Aren’t you glad I asked?”

“Yes.”

Those stringy things on bananas never bothered me.  I always ate them.  But some people gag when they see phloem.

I knew that we peeled bananas the wrong way by snapping the stem.  The myth is that monkeys peel bananas the right way:  by pinching and peeling from the bottom (which is actually the top).  What I didn’t know is that you will not get any phloem on bananas if you peel them the right way.

Amazing!  I learned about phloem and how to prevent it while dividing polynomials.

https://pilotonline.com/life/columnist/grammar-school/did-you-know-those-banana-strings-had-a-name/article_c02a0a79-3d2d-5a80-bf3b-6d161a49d906.html

https://youtu.be/P8svUCSuMS4

It Was A Plot!

It was a plot!  The wireless at the library and the computer gremlins conspired to make sure that I had difficulty trying to post anything yesterday.  I finally managed to post an out-of-order sign and the leave the library.

Once I left the library, the Gods conspired to make sure I got caught in the heavy rain Saturday afternoon.  They had made sure I got caught in the heavy rain Friday night.  And they made sure I got caught in the heavy rain this morning.   Will this be a daily amusement for them?

So, I was in a most foul mood when I went to my parents’ grave yesterday after it stopped raining.  I went to honor my father’s birthday June 18th.

I stood at the grave and remembered my Mommy and my Daddy. I didn’t cry, but sometime during the memories my most foul mood left. I don’t know where it went.  My parents’ plot undid the effects of the plot by the library Internet, computer gremlins and the Gods.  I left the cemetery feeling peaceful.

Two Shootings

On Wednesday June 14, James T. Hodgkinson shot Congressman Steve Scalise in a baseball park in Alexandria, Virginia.

On Wednesday June 14, Jimmy Lam shot and killed Benson Louie, Wayne Chan and Michael Lefiti at a United Parcel Service (UPS) facility in San Francisco, California.

Two shootings in the United States on the same day.  These shootings were not the lead stories on some radio and television news broadcasts, and did not make the front pages of some newspapers.

What if James T. Hodgkinson and Jimmy Lam had been Muslims?  Would both shootings be lead stories on radio and television news, and on all front pages of newspapers?  Would leaders around the world condemn the shootings, and express sympathy for the victims’ families?   Would people around the world hold vigils for the victims and state, “We stand in solidarity with the people of Alexandria and San Francisco.”?

The UPS shooter was identified as Jimmy Lam.  Was his first name James?  The baseball-park shooter’s first name was James. Should authorities pass laws against, and arrest and imprison all men whose first name is James to make sure that their violence never happens again?

Fortunately, neither James T. Hodgkinson nor Jimmy Lam was a Muslim.  We can assume this, but we don’t know because their religion was never mentioned.  So, there is no need for the media to report much more on these shootings; there is no need for world leaders to address the violence in Alexandria and San Francisco; there is no need for any worldwide vigils for the victims; and there is no need for authorities to pass laws and arrest and imprison anyone since both Hodgkinson and Lam are dead.  And the victims’ families feel good knowing that their loved ones were not killed by Muslims.

The Trigonometry Excuse

 

It’s been a week since I have written anything.  I always look for excuses not to write. Trigonometry is a good excuse.

I have mentioned before how I am teaching myself the math I avoided learning in high school. For the past week, I grappled with the basics of Trigonometry.  Even though learning is fun, I still resist learning new things—especially the math I hated in high school.  I wanted to quit because I was not understanding the concepts, but I kept grappling.  And finally, I got it!

Wow! I understood!  I understood!  I understood sines, cosines, and tangents.  I understood cosecants, secants and cotangents.  I understood how the Greek letter Theta (zero with a line through the middle) represents the degrees of an angle.  I understood!

What a natural high finally understanding Trigonometry, and solving Trigonometry problems!  If they ever make Trigonometry illegal, then I’ll get arrested for sure.

I’m like a child who has just learned to walk on his or her hind legs.  I’m stomping around laughing and enjoying my new-found power!

So there’s my excuse for not writing: I was learning Trigonometry.  Deep down, I know that I still could have written while learning Trigonometry.  But please allow me to fool myself into thinking that learning Trigonometry took all my energy, and I had none left to write. Thanks.

 

https://youtu.be/X5uFqpypDy4

The End Is Near?

 

 

My power of attorney is done.  My will is done.  Am I ready to die?  I’m not planning on it, but you never know.  I could go to a doctor for some reason, and he or she could kill me—accidentally of course.  Or I could get hit by a truck delivering health food.  Or I could perform standup comedy and die on stage.  Who knows?

Death fascinates me.  I love walking through cemeteries, reading the residents’ tombstones, and reflecting on their lives.  What were their concerns?  What made them happy?  What made them sad?  Did they know that a tombstone would grow after they were planted?  Did they know that one day, long after they were gone, someone would be reflecting on their lives?

I want to be planted so a tombstone will grow.  I like the idea of someone reflecting on my life long after I am gone.

When I was in my teens, I played with a Ouija board.  The Ouija board said that I would die during the first week of August in 2018.  If the Ouija board is right, then I have just over a year left.  Am I worried?  Not yet, but ask me again on July 31, 2018.

 

Power of Attorney

 

It is done.  My daughters have powers of attorney.  They can act on my behalf should I become incapacitated. If they decide to leave me hooked up to machines, then that’s okay.  If they decide to pull the plug, then that’s okay.

“But what do you want, Dad?” they ask.

“I want you to do whatever will make you feel better.  That’s what I want.”

The same thoughts apply to my funeral.  I have certain wishes, but they are only guidelines and do not have to be followed.  My daughters have to carry on without me.  If my funeral wishes make them uncomfortable, then they can change them and not feel guilty.

I have mentioned before how a deceased’s funeral arrangements have caused his or her loved ones more stress.  They don’t agree with the arrangements, but go along with them out of guilt.  For example, no sadness or crying.  The loved ones try hard not to be sad and cry, but cannot help breaking down.  And then they feel guilty.  Why not allow our loved ones to grieve the way that makes them feel better?

It’s okay for sadness and crying at my funeral.  (The income tax people will be weeping the most.  Another taxpayer bites the dust.)  It’s okay for joy and laughter.  Anything goes.  It is a FUNeral.  I won’t care because I will be too busy trying to dodge the huge flames.

A long time ago I made a deal with Fate.  It was so long ago that I don’t remember the terms of the deal, but I embrace these terms no matter what they are.

And Justice for All

(The following is a true story, but the names have been changed to protect me.)

None of George’s friends have ever seen George angry.  You could not ask for a more laid-back guy.  George is also kind and generous and, therefore, easily taken advantage of.

And on the subject of taking advantage, there is Martha.  Martha is violent and manipulative.

George and Martha lived together at George’s place. George wanted Martha to leave once they started having serious problems.  But Martha had no place to go, and George allowed her to stay despite her violent tendencies.

George called the police many times because of violent arguments with Martha.  The police offered to remove Martha from George’s place, but George felt sorry for her because she had no place to go.  He allowed her to stay.  Sometimes she would leave for a period of time, but she would always return.

During a time Martha was living elsewhere, someone spray-painted George’s car and flattened the tires. George knew it was Martha, but he could not prove it.  He called the police.

While the police investigated the damage to George’s car, Martha claimed George had assaulted her months before while they were still living together.  The police had attended at the time of the alleged assault, but Martha said that she was too afraid to say anything. Now that the police asked her questions about the damage to George’s car, she said that he assaulted her.  She also reported two other assaults by George that occurred in the past

Police have no discretion with domestic assault and arrested George.  He co-operated with the police and gave police a statement. When asked, George told police that he had punched her leg in one of the assaults, but denied the other two.  In hs nervousness, George did not explain why he had punched Martha in the leg.  The police did not ask why.  They only asked, “Did you do it?”  George answered, “Yes.”  When police asked about the other two assaults, George said that she was making them up.  Police charged George with 3 counts of assault. He spent the night in jail before being released on bail.

One of the conditions of George’s bail was that he stay away from Martha.  Martha had to leave George’s apartment and live somewhere else.  So George was finally rid of Martha

Someone damaged George’s car several times while George was out on bail.  No one was ever charged.

Here is why George punched Martha’s leg:

George and Martha were in bed and started arguing.  George did not want to argue and turned his back to Martha.  Martha started kicking George’s back.  George got up out of bed to go sleep on the couch.  Martha pulled him back on the bed and grabbed his testicles. George punched Martha’s leg, and she let go of his testicles.

George called 911.  He had to barricade himself in the bathroom to keep Martha from assaulting him.  The 911 operator could hear Martha screaming and pounding on the door.

After being charged, George requested a copy of the 911 call.  Police sent George the wrong incident. George told his lawyer and his lawyer requested the information.  For unknown reasons George’s lawyer never received the information, or received the information and never used it. George’s lawyer suggested that George plead guilty and not risk being convicted of all three counts of assault after a trial.

On May 31, George pled guilty to one count of assault.  It was the one where he had punched Martha’s leg.  George’s lawyer tried to get the Crown (prosecuting attorney) to agree to withdraw the charge, and have George enter into a Peace Bond.  Even Martha was agreeable to have George enter a Peace Bond.  But the Crown was a crusader and was not about to allow a violent man, who had assaulted a defenseless woman, get off so easily.  The Crown had to protect society from this abusive man to make sure that he never abused anyone again.  The Crown would not agree to an Absolute Discharge, but did agree to a Conditional Discharge with the following conditions:

  • Probation for 1 year
  • Stay away from Martha and not communicate with her in any way.
  • Not to own or possess any weapons
  • Complete an anger management course

Oh, the irony!  George taking an anger management course?  That’s like having Martin Luther King take a course on race relations! One of George’s friends said, upon hearing how he had to take an anger management course, “What?  Is George going to teach the course?”

Plea bargains save time and money by avoiding trials.  George just wanted to get it all over and save time and money.  He agreed to plead guilty.  Once again the judicial system worked, and there was justice for all.

I was with George in court for moral support.  After court, we went back to George’s place and watched … And Justice for All, the 1979 film starring Al Pacino.  George agreed that this movie accurately portrays the judicial system.

http://lawfacts.ca/criminal/peace-bonds

http://lawfacts.ca/node/60

http://lawfacts.ca/node/82

https://youtu.be/sQzYNoLANrg