Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Taco Bell And The Morlocks

Sometime in the mid 1960’s, when it was a big freakin’ deal to have a movie shown on TV! It meant either NBC or CBS was showing it in prime time, and I had to finagle permission to stay up past my bedtime. A big hit for me with lots of long-lasting memories was “The Time Machine.” Made by George Pal and starring Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux in 1960, the pre-teen Paul was very impressionable and large parts of the movie scared the crap out of me. (It seems I wasn’t alone.)

What really scared me was when the air raid sirens went off and the peaceful, dull, childlike Eloi all went slack jawed and started marching zombie-like into the caves of the Morlocks, where obviously the Morlocks were going to kill them and eat them. We were living in Kansas City at the time (remember, huge Chiefs fan here!) and tornadoes were not uncommon for about six months of each year. When they got close, the air raid sirens went off to warn folks to take cover. Needless to say, the summers after seeing “The Time Machine” had a whole new interpretation of that!


Skip forward fifty-six or fifty-seven years, to 2022. You’re watching television and a Taco Bell commercial comes on:

  • There’s a beach party, a young lady skips off into the darkness to snog that sexy young dude in the dark. A buoy tips over, causing a “bell” to ring (the signature and no doubt trademarked Taco Bell sound), and your hormonal teenager turns into a zombie, leaves Boy Wonder on the beach wondering what happened, and she marches off to Taco Bell to get something disgusting.
  • A subway platform, a geek dude cosplaying some sort of elf warrior with a shield spies a geek girl with the exact same costume and shield. Their eyes meet, they step toward each other, her shield hits a metal trash can, we hear that “bell” sound, she gets glassy eyed and wanders off to Taco Bell.
  • Two dudes are going for the all-time high score in the universe on Dance Dance Revolution at which point the machine music makes that “bell” sound, they stop mid-game, and head off for some brodude Taco Bell munchies.
  • The high schooler with the purple hair is at the back of the orchestra with a pair of cymbals, waiting for her one big moment, when someone tips over a music stand, it hits the tuba, makes that “bell” sound, and half the orchestra wanders off in search of greasy ground beef and runny fake cheese.

Aside from the fact that I’m not a fan of Taco Bell’s food, all of these examples remind me constantly of one thing – THE ELOI!!! The protagonists in every one of these ads act exactly like the Eloi in “The Time Machine!”

So, Taco Bell’s advertising agency and marketing gurus, look how you’ve made me think of your food!

I’m about to have the romantic, hormonal, passionate night that I’ve always fantasized about and which I’ll remember for the rest of my life – until I turn into an Eloi and march into the Morlocks’ cave to be killed. And YOU’RE the Morlocks!

I’m a lonely geek who’s suddenly found my soulmate, only to have her snatched away into zombieland just feet away from my embrace. And YOU’RE the zombies!

You get the drift.

Obviously, I’m not the target market for these ads, both because of my tastes in food and because of my age (and probably a half-dozen or more other traits), but jeez louise!! Did NO ONE look at these ads and think, “Wait…maybe…”

Or, worse, did they look at it and think, “Whatever! As long as they spend money at our place!”

Go find a taco truck, or a mom & pop style Mexican place with real food. And hoist a margarita and a burrito to Yvette Mimieux, who passed away at age 80 this afternoon.

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Abandonment Eve

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” – Paul Valery

“A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.” – E.M. Forster

“Books are never finished – they are merely abandoned.” – Oscar Wilde

It seems that Valery said it first, in French, but you get the idea.

I would note that the same applies to many, MANY things in life. In my particular case tonight, I note that large, complex business projects often fall into the same category.

Would this have anything to do with the meeting tomorrow, annual budget, December financials, and various other miscellaneous documents?

Mmmm…maybe. Is the Pope Polish?

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First Monday

First Monday of the new year.

First Monday back (for most folks, not me) after a bunch of days off of work.

First Monday of a “regular” five-day work week after what was, for most folks, the previous two weeks of three or four-day work weeks, and maybe three of the past six weeks being short.

Still breathing?

Still calm?

Already looking forward desperately to Friday night?

Already holding on for dear life?

It’s okay. You can do this.

You may or may not like it. But you can do this.

And then there’s that, “Oh, shit! I still haven’t {insert panic item here}!!” moment.

GOTO “Still breathing?”

Repeat as necessary.

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No Context For You – November 20th

RED!

Love.

Lust.

Anger.

Passion.

Hatred.

Excitement.

Desire.

Frustration. (Maybe. Actually frustration might be more like a faded orange. “Red adjacent,” but missing the urgency, the life, the adrenaline, just keeping the bittersweet memories.)

So many strong emotions, so much energy spent keeping them in check, hidden, safe, not allowing the danger out of control.

A red day…

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Randomness

How much of our world is random? How much can be planned for and foreseen?

(Image from RandomOrg app)

How much control can we have and how much do we just think (incorrectly) we have?

Despite all of our best efforts and intentions, how much is every decision just a bet with incomplete information and inaccurate assumptions?

And most importantly, does it matter? Do we just need to push on, doing our best, getting up when we’re knocked down, refusing to give up even when we know the game is random at best, rigged against us at worst, because for all of that it’s still the only game in town?

Yep, one of those deep thought nights. Sorry for being boring and “emo.” Just doing the best I can and pushing on.

But it would be nice every now and then to get a clue that it’s all working and not just a completely random outcome of 13,700,000,000 years of molecular Brownian motion and a handful of laws of physics.

I guess that’s what religion is for, and we all I know I’m not going down THAT road. Been there. Done that. It’s worse.

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Define ‘Deadline’

As I may have blathered on and on about for the past several weeks, it’s been one of “those” times when I’ve been up to my eyebrows in 24/7/365 (or is it “25/8/366” for these?) deadlines on several fronts. Primarily at work and then at the CAF SoCal hangar and from there all of the other little daily deadlines.

Tonight I finished the fifth and (for now) final of the “super gigantic mega oh God we’re all gonna die!” deadlines. I made them all, but it got me thinking about how some folks need to be more explicit about the exact details of the deadline. You know, for people like me!

One of them at work was quite clear – we have a 17:00 meeting on this day with a number of VIPs and it would be “very bad” if we didn’t have that stack of documents ready.

No sweat! After weeks of work, I printed out the final versions for me and emailed them to others on team a full eight minutes before the meeting started. There may have been some hysterical laughter released at the absurdity of it all.

At the other end of the spectrum, the CAF project had to be done “by end of day 9/20/21.”

There’s a fair amount of wiggle room there in my universe. Business day? Or am I still good at 23:59:55? Pacific time zone or Central? That’s important, gives me a whole three more hours!

That got done tonight at 22:20 PDT, so by my definition, I made it by a full 1:40! If that doesn’t fit in their timetable and they meant 17:00 CDT, well, whose fault is that, huh?

Hopefully I’ll finally sleep well tonight. MaƱana, y’all!

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Adrift On The Calendar

I’m so glad that my watch and phone tell me what day and date it is. I realize that I’m now totally dependent on them to keep track of such things since my brain and body and schedule are so overbooked that I can’t spend the energy or the brain cycles to track such things myself.

In some ways I feel like the crew of that ship in “WALL-E” where they’ve forgotten how to walk or move independently. And like in that film where there’s a malicious, evil entity that has manipulated them to go down that road, we have the GQP and the Death Cult right-wingers and conspiracy nut jobs who are pushing us to spend so much time stressing over their bullshit that we’re losing our ability to keep track of little things like the date. We have so many bigger fish to fry.

Do you remember a “M*A*S*H” episode where BJ Honeycutt was messing with Winchester’s clothes, subtly a little at a time having them taken in or let out, convincing him that he was gaining or losing weight? That’s what our electronic devices could do, adding a few minutes to the work day here, taking a few days off the holidays there, putting an eighth work day into the week (“Wait, wasn’t it Tuesday a couple days ago? Why is it Tuesday again? Whatever…”) Forget about “watching the watchers,” is anyone watching the watches?

The only reference I seem to have is, “How many days until that next deadline? And the one after that? And the two next week? Wait, they’re THIS week?! Shit!!!”

The good news I guess is that I’m more or less keeping up with the deadlines, at least the ones that are critical and for which I’m getting paid. The volunteer gig? Might be letting a few slip there.

I think the French have a phrase for that.

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Make Art – August 29th

For those of us who will have an “interesting” week ahead and may experience moments of incredible stress.

When those moments come (and they will), you can “Set SCE to AUX” (and that might well be the correct action to take out in the real world) but in your head, think of a scene like this or some other peaceful place you would like to be, perhaps with who you would like to be there with, and take a deep breath, hold it, let it out, and then get back to the crisis (it will still be there, unfortunately).

You will persevere and succeed.

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No Context For You – August 25th

“Set SCE to AUX”

If you know, you know. I don’t think I’ve shared that story here yet, but it’s not hard to find online if you’re curious. It’s fascinating. For this context, let it suffice to say that NASA and the Apollo 12 crew were seconds away from having a very bad day, but that command saved the day.

It’s been one of those weeks so far. No one’s dying or anything like that, but some days you just work way more than 8 or 9 hours and during all of that time it’s like you’re trying to fit ten pounds of pickles into a five-pound pickle bag. So you can start screaming…

…or you can set SCE to AUX.

And some days you’re flicking that switch between NORM and AUX until your fingers are blistered.

Still standing, still fighting, still upright & taking nourishment. Until tomorrow!

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Complex Textures

High level perspective – a bit of worn and extremely weathered log from the Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Closer perspective – an almost infinitely complex, fractal-like surface formed by strictly random, natural forces.

Alternate perspective – part of the biological cycles of an infinitesimally small speck of a planet, third rock from the primary star in a semi-deserted, backwater part of a completely average galaxy, one of a few million billion trillion completely average galaxies, returning nutrients assembled together over a century or more back to the soil and the next generation of plants and critters.

Private perspective – stunning beauty “hidden” in the world around us, “hidden” only by the fact that 99.99% of my fellow hikers walking by don’t even bother to look, let alone see.

Personal perspective – getting this wrapped up in grokking a rotting log, using all five senses, and then feeling the imperative to share with everyone probably indicates to most that there was (or is) “mood enhancing” medicinal self-medication involved. Nope, just a natural high, that John Denver school of zen, getting in touch with the Universe on a very personal and intimate level.

Or it was oxygen deprivation from being at 8,500 feet.

Either way, it was the finest kind.

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