Tag Archives: Seinfeld

2031

In the year 2031, I most-likely will be in prison. Maybe sooner, or maybe a little later, but I just can’t imagine my life’s path detouring in any other direction. Of course, this prediction is only plausible if Lord willing I’m even still around in 2031. It’s not too difficult to see where this country is headed, and I can’t envision any type of escape from what I perceive as the inevitable. I’m not alluding to our deplorable political landscape although I suppose ultimately it will be our government’s justice system deciding my fate in the near future. The reason for my probable transitioning from a law-abiding citizen to a willing lawbreaker will undoubtedly be due to – in a word – technology. Rather, more explicitly, it will be my refusal to embrace some technology that will provoke a prison sentence by 2031.

Many things I disapprove of have become acceptable in today’s society, and that’s okay. However, there’s much speculation that some things I’m opposed to may eventually become mandatory, and that I cannot (will not) accept. One such thing on the horizon is the possibility of being forced to utilize driverless cars. It has been rumored that in the near future we might all be required to surrender our driving skills to “intelligent” sensory control systems. Supposedly, computers are better drivers than people.

The main reason commonly given, for enacting an autonomous vehicles only policy, is the anticipated reduction in collisions on our roadways. I’m sure we could reduce accidents, without banning physical drivers, by prohibiting cell phone use while driving, imposing stricter penalties on repeat offenders, and expanding photo enforcement nationwide. I’m not averse to those who are fond of the new technology, but I am against revoking a person’s choice in the process. I know I for one will not give up my right to manually control my own vehicle. I will continue tooling around town in my laguna blue Dodge Dart regardless of any new laws that may be imposed concerning self-driving cars.

Another thing which might land me in the slammer is in regards to dealing with our beloved government every April. I fill out my tax returns by hand, and I like it that way. That’s how I’ve done it for 34 years, but now the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) suggests (almost demands) I file my returns online. Each year I have to call the IRS to request the most recent instructions booklet, and each year the government’s representative on the other end, not even attempting to conceal his disgust towards me, argues his case for why I should file via computer. Each year he loses. However, I’m painfully aware my preferred choice of filing will one day be taken away. The day I have no other option than to file my tax returns online is the day I no longer file tax returns. This will surely pose a problem for me, and it may very well be the reason I’ll likely be sporting state issued, black and white striped attire in 2031.

If neither my refusal to get on board with driverless cars, nor my intentional refraining from filing tax returns electronically, sends me to the big house then possibly the contempt I have for drones will. I despise the uprising of drone enthusiasts, and I think it’s sort of ridiculous for anyone to own one solely for personal use. The preceding sentence reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld when Jerry, during a family dinner conversation at Manya’s house, amusingly says, “I hate anyone that ever had a pony when they were growing up.” Of course, the elderly Manya immediately divulges that she had a pony as a young girl. Can you say awwwkwaaard? My apologies, if I too offended, but let me explain.

Drones have increasingly been showing up on countless Christmas lists, of the young and old alike the past couple of years, and this is quite bothersome to me concerning my privacy. I do not wish any harm on drone owners, but I don’t want their voyeuristic robots anywhere in the vicinity of my residence. The lion’s share of drones have both photo taking and live streaming capabilities. It is my understanding a drone can legally invade my home’s airspace, but it’s illegal if I see fit to capture it or shoot the hovering nuisance out of the sky. I don’t think I can play by those rules; hence, appointing myself as judge and jury in the matter could realistically result in me being fitted for an orange jumpsuit by the year 2031. I live in Arizona. It’s hot! I should be able to shed my clothing in my own backyard without having to worry about an uninvited drone joining the party. I will not give up my constitutional right to privacy.

This past decade I’ve seen much that is wrong with our country’s infatuation with technology. I’ve witnessed cellphones (and the like) replace meaningful relationships. I’ve seen the blatant discrimination against those who would rather pay their baggage fees at the airport than beforehand online; The airlines charge more if paying in person. I’ve also noticed the obvious bias against traditional coupon clippers and people who prefer to pay with cash. Grocery stores have begun presenting their best deals to only those who are willing (and able) to download digital coupons, and some businesses are now offering consumers more if they pay with plastic instead of with cash. I recently experienced this type of injustice firsthand when putting air in my car’s tires at a local convenience store. Using a credit card would’ve given me 5 minutes worth of air whereas good ole American currency only afforded me 4 minutes for the same price.

We are continuously coaxed (strong-armed), many times by way of a small threat to our pocketbooks, into using debit or credit cards and managing all of our finances and business transactions online. Why go that route? The last I knew, one’s identity cannot be stolen or their life hacked into when using cash. For convenience? In my household we use the tried-and-true envelope system, so online banking would actually be a great inconvenience to us. Do we kowtow to every technological advancement simply because we want to appear as though we too are hip (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) and to avoid pompously being accused of “not being with it” or “still living in the horse and buggy days”?

To each his own I guess. I know it’s much easier to conform…to society…to the government…to the world. There just comes a time when enough is enough. For me, I can never accept commuting in driverless cars, submitting tax returns online, or drones invading my personal space. I may be in the world, but I am not of this world. My hope is I’ll be able to joyfully sing like Paul and Silas, knowing God holds the key, while locked behind prison doors in 2031.


Oh Brother

I was born a brother. I did not have a choice in the matter. That decision had already been made for me, two and a half years prior to my entrance into this world, when my parents had a daughter. My first memory as a younger brother (actually, my first memory in general) is of my sister and I wandering about the backyard of an empty house my parents were interested in buying. The spacious yard, at least in the mind of a 3 year-old, had two levels. The levels were separated by a small rocky embankment and a set of cement steps. The lower level contained a modest patio and a couple of large trees while the upper level boasted a few lilac bushes, a patch of daylilies, and a pear tree, but to me the main attraction was the large doghouse positioned smack-dab in the middle of the yard.

Fido’s home resembled a miniature house for humans, complete with white paint and dark shingles, and it made for a challenging yet achievable climb. The doghouse disappeared immediately after my parents purchased the home. I guess that makes perfect sense because my family did not own any four-legged friends at the time; however, I reckon the disappearance of the doghouse had more to do with the safety of my sister and I than anything else. We did manage though to enjoy the backyard for many years to come: climbing the towering maple trees and pogo-sticking on the patio. We learned how to ride our bicycles on the lower level, and my father religiously planted a garden each spring on the upper level.

At the age of four I became an older brother, and once again I had no say in the matter. With the addition of another sister I soon felt like an Oreo cookie; I was the exciting crème filling in between two dull chocolate wafers. In actuality, I really don’t have a recollection of too many things that occurred when there were just the three of us siblings living under my parents’ roof. I do recall when my brother was born, two years later, because our household then became evenly proportionate amongst girls and boys. What a relief…life seemed a bit more fair at that point. I found there to be an instant comradery with my little brother, and why wouldn’t there have been. We had the same “parts” for goodness’ sake.

I believe most women know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason why the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus has sold more than 50 million copies. Ladies tend to recognize the significant differences, between the two sexes, more so than most of us clueless men. I presume Elaine Benes, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, from the hit television series, Seinfeld, was speaking on behalf of women everywhere when she proclaimed, “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things,” during the hilarious episode titled, “The Shrinkage.” It apparently makes sense why women seemingly stick together, through thick and thin, and why guys eventually felt compelled to counter with the saying, “Bros before Hos.” Anyway, being a younger brother was alright, but being an older brother was definitely better. I quickly learned how easy it was to manipulate my younger siblings. Isn’t that what big brothers are for?

My brother was especially susceptible to my less than noble suggestions. We both collected Topps baseball and football cards, but most of the time we lacked the funds to purchase any. I know what you’re probably thinking, but no I did not try coaxing my brother into stealing some. I wasn’t that bad of a brother. I simply recommended he take some money out of a white envelope tucked away in my mother’s drawer. The ordinary envelope had “belt money” written on the outside, and it contained approximately $4.50. The money was received as a refund when my mother returned a belt, for whatever reason, my brother had received as a present. I think she was waiting for the store to get a different size or a different style of belt.

I’m sure I rationalized that technically the cash was my brother’s, and his to do with it whatever he pleased, which I assumed he would want to share with his loving brother. He did! We dipped into the stash just a little bit at a time as to not arouse my mother’s suspicion. One summer we made several trips, just the two of us on our bicycles, to the Tastee Freeze to satisfy our Topps craving. One pack of baseball cards for my brother and one pack of baseball cards for me. What could be fairer than that? Eventually, only .50 remained in the “belt money” envelope, so our brotherly bonding time had to come to an end. I did figure that leaving something in the envelope was probably better than nothing, and hopefully maybe our mother wouldn’t notice. She did!

Over the years my brother and I had each accumulated an impressive baseball card collection which came in handy after I invented an indoor baseball game. I would transform our small bedroom into a Major League Baseball stadium: using four coins as the bases, a brownish pencil as the bat, and a Ping-Pong ball as the baseball. I also placed a long strip of masking tape, high up on the bedroom door, to act as the homerun fence (resembling that of the Green Monster at Boston’s Fenway Park). After preparing the field my brother and I took turns choosing our line-ups from the stacks of baseball cards in front of us. The home team would position their all-stars out on the field’s artificial turf (carpeting), and the visiting team would then send their leadoff hitter up to the plate. We did not sing the national anthem, but we were now ready to drop to our knees and throw out the first pitch.

The pitcher would toss the Ping-Pong ball towards the batter, and if he swung and missed or if it landed on the catcher it was a strike. If the batter hit the ball and it landed on one of the cards in the field of play it was an out. The outcome of all other hits were determined by slowly moving the runner and the fielders at the same speed. If the runner got to a base before the fielder (or his tossed ball) he was safe, but If not then he was out. Most of the baseball cards used in our games took quite a beating. We never used any of my cards, so whether or not I won the game on the homemade field…I still won. My brother’s ball cards sustained considerable damage (ala bent corners) while my collectibles remained in mint condition. Coincidence?

Another time I persuaded my little brother to do something, when he had to have known it was not normal, was during a cold December day in Iowa. I convinced him to join me in stripping down, to just our skivvies, before heading outdoors to become “human sleds.” This winter activity could only be performed under the strictest set of circumstances. The snowbank in our front yard, meticulously formed by my father’s snow shoveling expertise, had to be both firm and slick. It also had to be dark enough outside, so the neighbors couldn’t see us, and my parents had to be anywhere except at home. I, in my fashionable Dallas Cowboys underwear, and my brother, in his Superman Underoos, climbed atop the icy heap. We laid on our backsides and quickly slid down the snowbank into the softer snow awaiting us at the bottom of the mound.

Three trips up and down the slope was apparently our limit because we began losing feeling in our extremities. We were fearful of becoming amputees at that point, so we went back inside to warm up. I think I made us daredevils some hot chocolate. My parents eventually found out about their sons’ outdoor adventure, frolicking in the snow while only wearing their tidy whities, and they halted any future “human sledding” endeavors. Nosy neighbors! I suppose forgetting to turn off the porch light, before partaking in our escapade, wasn’t too bright on my part. I can only imagine what my siblings must think of me. Oh brother.


Death

I almost died recently, or maybe I didn’t depending on how one regards the situation. Two weeks ago, before the crack of dawn, I was driving through a residential neighborhood, on my way to Starbucks, so I could do some writing. As I was approaching an intersection a pick-up truck not only ran through a stop sign, right in front of me, but it was also traveling at an extremely high rate of speed. I did not have a stop sign, so a mere second or two sooner and I would not have been able to avoid being hit broadside. Death does not discriminate. It knows no sex, race, age, or good from evil. We don’t always know when to expect it, but we do expect it because it is the circle of life, and no one is immune.

I remember my Grandpa Nolin telling me, when I was in my early twenties, how quickly time goes by. It was around that same time when I used to think, after hearing someone had passed away in their fifties, “oh well, at least they had a good, long life.” Now that I’m older, and getting painfully closer to that magic number, I no longer believe fifty is old. I’m also well aware my grandpa was absolutely correct about life being so fleeting. I know a widowed Christian woman who loves God, and when she was in her fifties had said she would rather be with her Savior sooner than later. I can appreciate her sentiment, but she still has good health, employment, children, and grandchildren. Maybe I’m a little selfish, but I prefer being on this earth for a much longer time, if possible, experiencing all of the good things our Creator has given us to enjoy. I would also like to grow old with my wife and have the opportunity to one day spoil some grandchildren.

I do not know when I will take my last breath here on earth, but I do know I will be in Heaven afterwards. I once had a non-practicing Jehovah Witness friend who had said about Christians, among many other things, that they believe in Heaven only because they are afraid of death. I rarely agreed with most of the things he had to say, but as a Believer I do take comfort in the knowledge of where I will be someday. That apparently is not the case for George Costanza in an episode of the beloved television comedy series, Seinfeld, when the gang decides to volunteer spending time with senior citizens. George, the neurotic worry-wart of the bunch, is paired with a spry 85 year-old man, and as the two are having coffee, at a local diner, George gets concerned after the man claims he is not afraid of dying. Volunteer Costanza questions how an 85 year-old cannot be afraid of death since he himself is already worrying about it, and he is only in his thirties.

George continues his interrogation, and he keeps persisting the elderly man’s time on earth has to be just about up. He then declares the senior citizen is really pushing the envelope, but the old man’s reply is that he is grateful for the time he has, and he just doesn’t think about death all that much. Mr. Costanza keeps pestering the senior citizen, insisting he should be worried about his nearing demise, with more astounding comments such as, “How can you be grateful when you’re so close to the end,” and “You’re not stupid, you can read the handwriting on the wall.” The 85 year-old has finally had enough of George, as he gets up from the booth to leave, and tells the worry-wart, “Life’s too short to waste on you.” I hope my disposition about death, as I grow older, is closer to that of the elderly gentleman’s than to George Costanza’s viewpoint on the matter.

My first experience with death, except for the loss of a pet or two, was around the age of thirteen when my great uncle passed away. My parents insisted the whole family go to the visitation although only my mother and father would be attending the funeral service. I didn’t know the deceased all that well, and as a teen I had no desire for wasting a day off from school by driving out of town to mingle with some “strangers.” I admit the thought of seeing a dead body also kind of freaked me out. I tried pleading with my parents, in hopes of them allowing me to skip the visitation, but to no avail. Therefore, I resolved to take matters into my own hands. Shortly before the dreaded time had come, for us to leave, I made an escape out my bedroom window. The breakout wasn’t all that easy either: not with the window in the corner of the room being so small, my bed acting as somewhat of an obstacle, and then a short drop down to the ground below.

My daring feat was absolutely exhilarating. As I ran free down the street a sense of relief came over me, but it was almost immediately replaced with the fear of knowing I would be facing my father’s wrath when returning home later in the day. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy my new found freedom since I spent the entire time fretting and pondering what the punishment would be. The sentence ultimately handed down was much worse than the grounding, or the possible whoopin’ I had anticipated, because I was now being forced to attend the funeral service of my great uncle, and I knew escaping this time was not an option. Oh yeah, while my father was closing my bedroom window, in utter frustration and anger, he had broken the glass, but guess who had to pay to have the window replaced? Life is a journey filled with experiences and lessons learned. Death is a part of life, and without death we would never be able to fully appreciate life.