www.DavidWilhite.com - fortified with 8 essential witticisms and irony
Welcome to www.DavidWilhite.com  David Wilhite is a part-time writer of fiction, humor, satire, and editorials; and a full-time political critic. The content of this web site represents his views, and his alone. Friends and family will, no doubt, keep their distance from any sentiment expressed here.
— Personal —
These are points of personal reflection: ego excursions, if you will (short ego trips).
Title: Parenting Is For the Birds
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/021-ParentingForBirds
Posted Date: 26-May-2009      Created Date: 26-May-2009
David's Comments: Time to rise to a new level of unaccountability.
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Parenting Is For the Birds

As I watched, at first I thought it must be an unusual event. But then I saw it again ... and a third time. This week as I was walking around campus during lunch I repeatedly saw the scene of an adult robin going about the business of hunting bugs, a fledgling robin following it squawking for food, and the adult totally ignoring the fledgling.
I need to learn that trick!
What the bird parents do instinctively it seems we human parents have to learn. My daughter is capable of doing things for herself that I impulsively do for her. Maybe it's because I'm afraid she'll make a mess pouring that drink. Or maybe I think she can't reach that cabinet to get out a plate. Or maybe I'm afraid she'll punch in too much time on the microwave.
Or maybe it's just because she squawks, and I do for her, out of habit.
But she needs to learn these things sometime. Why not now?
Not that I'm considering teaching her how to hunt bugs. (Though that would certainly reduce the grocery bill.) No, I'm talking about her picking out her own clothes, and preparing her own afternoon snack, and cleaning up her dishes, and just generally being more self-sufficient.
So, dear daughter, watch me, and learn how to do for yourself, and stop squawking. I'll do my part and ignore you. Welcome to your tween years!
# # #
Title: Emotional Tree-Climbing
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/020-EmotionalTreeClimbing
Posted Date: 26-Mar-2009      Created Date: 26-Mar-2009
David's Comments: The Winds of Change are starting to blow.
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Emotional Tree-Climbing

I've always been a tree-climber. I still do it on occasion. It hasn't been that long since I climbed 30 feet up in a pecan tree, out into the limbs to shake down the nuts. But no matter how long I've been doing it, there is eventually that scary moment ...
I climb safely. I keep at least two points of support in tested positions before moving on. When moving to a new limb that proves too weak to support me, I still have the tested support in at least two other places.
But of course trees are often not built for climbers. Inevitably there comes a time and place where I have to take a risk, where the reach is too far for me to test. I have to judge the strength of my destination before I move there.
The penalty for being wrong is likely to be a broken appendage. I judged badly once. The price I paid was a sprained ankle that plagued me for two years.
Recent tree-climbing has me staring at another far reach. The previous injury is still fresh in my mind. It scares me. I don't trust my judgment like I used to.
It would be nice if I could just ask that limb how strong it is. In some ways it reminds me of the one that I fell from before.
Some of the other limbs look pretty good. Some have fewer branches. That might be easier. Why not?
No, that would be wimping out. This is the right way to go. "Fear is the mind-killer."
Ready ... Set ...
# # #
Title: Strong Currently
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/019-StrongCurrently
Posted Date: 18-Feb-2009      Created Date: 18-Feb-2009
David's Comments: Is that a lifeline, or a fishing line?
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Strong Currently

What is strength?
My 10 year old daughter told me yesterday, quite authoritatively, that there is a place between heaven and hell, that people go, and have to prove that they are worthy of heaven.
I think she's right.
It's not a fun place to be. Not for the weak. Not for the weary.
In hell you know you're doomed. It's easy to accept.
In heaven ... well, it's heaven. Again, no mean feat to stay there.
But in between, it's a constant upstream swim. Is it the River Styx? I'm lucky if I can keep even with the current, which repeatedly threatens to bash me into something cold and hard. I'm tired.
I'm weak.
There are pools of calm that tempt me to come in and stay. I've tried a few of them. They've turned into eddies that dizzy me and send me off in the wrong direction.
Is a salmon weak if it can't swim against a strong current?
Is a heart weak if it can't stand up to a mountain of loneliness?
Is a liver weak if it can't stand up to a strong drink?
Are these analogies weak if they can't stand up to intense scrutiny?
Ah, well, at least I have a strong sense of humor.
# # #
Title: The Truth Is In Here
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/018-TheTruthIsInHere
Posted Date: 27-Sep-2008      Created Date: 27-Sep-2008
David's Comments: I know how it really happened.
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The Truth Is In Here

The setting is a humble hut in a small village in the Fertile Crescent. The date is 1400 BC. The time is late one spring evening. Our hero, Prophet, sits at a table, bleary-eyed, struggling to see by the firelight, pondering his existence.
Prophet: (closing his eyes, and praying aloud) Dear Yahweh, I have come to a crisis of faith! The elders of my village insist that the world was created by a great dragon, whose bowels became the fertile lands, and whose teeth became the towering mountains, and whose stomach contents became the turbulent seas, and whose breath became the blowing winds, and whose scales became the glittering stars.
But I simply cannot believe their stories. So I come to You. I beseech Thee, oh Father of all, that You tell me ... how did You create the world?
(long silence)
Yahweh: I can see the time has come ... that humankind has reached a point in its intellectual development that you must all finally know the truth.
Prophet: Oh, thank You!
(long silence)
Prophet: Are You still there?
Yahweh: Sorry, I was trying to think how I can explain this so you'll understand ... I'm ready to begin now.
Prophet: (snatching his stylus eagerly off the table) Oh good! I'm ready to write it all down!
Yahweh: OK, it's like this: the multiverse exists as a broad array of universes, each with its own unique set of universal constants. One day I was bored and decided to stir things up a bit. So I nudged your universe such that it collided with an adjacent one, and the resulting collision formed a massive quantum singularity that rapidly expanded as a huge wave of energy to form all that exists in your universe.
(long silence)
Prophet: (staring vacantly at his clay tablet) I'm going to put down "Yahweh said, 'Let there be light.'"
# # #
Title: Know Your Fellow Drivers
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/017-KnowYourFellowDrivers
Posted Date: 21-Sep-2008      Created Date: 21-Sep-2008
David's Comments: I've used male pronouns here for sake of convenience. But these personalities are in no way confined to the male of the species.
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Know Your Fellow Drivers

Don't you wonder what they're thinking? ... other drivers ... when they do the things they do. After years of driving experience, observing drivers for miles at a time on interstate highways, I like to think that I've come to understand a few of the personalities operating in the drivers' seats.
Lefty: For Lefty, the left lane is not just his entitlement, it's his destiny, and his reason for being on the road. It doesn't matter if he's not the "fastest" driver, because in his mind he's driving "fast," and it's the "fast lane" isn't it? Well then he should be there! If you need to go past him then you should use the passing lane ... you know, the one on the right.
Righty: Passing is for speed demons, not Righty. If he has to slow to a crawl to avoid using the left lane, then so be it. Passing is risky; it requires changing lanes; changing lanes is like changing one's mind, being fickle. Fickle is bad. Besides, he's pretty sure he has to take an exit ramp about 10 miles down the road. What if he doesn't have enough time to finish passing before he has to take that exit? No ... it's just not worth the risk. Righty annoys me sometimes ... but only when I'm sitting in his passenger's seat.
Dragster: Dragster likes to drag race. When he meets up with another Dragster on the highway, he squares his car up with the driver in the adjacent lane. His sweaty palms steady the wheel with a grip of iron. He grits his teeth in anticipation of the burst of blinding speed. The brim of his fedora shields his forehead and ears from the harmful UV rays that penetrate the windshield of his 1976 Behemoth sedan. And the drag race begins ... to see who can drag his butt the slowest. Funny how it turns out to be a dead heat ... for miles.
Random-Foot: A good driver drives by feel. It's the only way to go. Random-Foot appreciates that. Sometimes it feels right to drive 90 miles per hour, which dramatically reduces his risk of being rear-ended. Sometimes it feels right to drive down the center line, which dramatically increases his interaction with other drivers ... most will feel compelled to make eye contact with him as they go by ... and some will even be inspired to give him that special single-finger wave.
Vampire: You might mistake him for Lefty. But Vampire is not hanging out in the left lane because he thinks he should be there, nor is he taking his sweet time passing that truck because he has no respect for you who are stuck behind him. Indeed, you must pity this poor soulless creature, as Vampire is deathly afraid to look in the mirror. And don't bother flashing your lights at him; you will simply confuse him as to why his headliner is suddenly lighting up.
Leader: His job is to set the pace for all other traffic. Don't go getting uppity and try to pass Leader; he will increase his speed to match yours ... until he begins passing the next car ... then he will return to The Right Speed, which he can enforce now that he has the passing lane blocked. If you ever do succeed in passing him, don't try to make eye contact, as he has a withering glare that will surely embarrass you, you speed demon.
Follower: You'll only see Follower as you're passing him, or in your rearview mirror (unless you're a Vampire). Once he's behind you, he'll hug your bumper so tightly you'll think he got caught on your trailer hitch. There's no point in slowing down to let him pass, because he doesn't want to. Your only prayer is that someone faster than you will come by and be more attractive to him.
Flasher: No, Flasher doesn't drive naked. But you know who he is ... you've seen him ... there, in the right lane ... with his left turn signal on ... for three miles now, and counting. Every once in a while a considerate driver in the left lane will pause to let him in, but he doesn't go. Obviously he doesn't realize his turn signal is on. Why not? Well, he can't hear it clicking because his window is rolled down or his music is cranked up, and he can't see it flashing because he hasn't looked at his gauges ... for three years now, and counting.
Frogger: He's the one trying to predict the behavior of the drivers in front of him and behind him. You'll easily spot him because he's switching lanes often, as if playing an IRL version of Frogger. Rumor has it that around town he times different routes to find the optimum one. But that's just a rumor. Really. I wouldn't know anything about that.
# # #
Title: Black
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/016-Black
Posted Date: 10-Sep-2008      Created Date: 10-Sep-2008
David's Comments: Thank goodness no one I know reads this stuff!
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I don't look very good in black. It makes me appear even more pale than I already am.
But some insist on dressing me in a black fedora just the same.
Why do you suppose they do that? I don't know. Maybe it's because we naturally assume that when there is conflict, someone has to be the good guy and someone the bad guy.
So how do people decide who's the bad guy? Maybe some actions that a person takes will always show us. For example, if I shoot a dog, I'm definitely a bad guy, right? ... or am I? ... What if the dog is Old Yeller?
If I escape from a burning home, and run to safety, leaving a victim to an unknown fate inside, surely I'm a bad guy ... and a coward. Does it matter that I emerge limping, gasping, and covered in second-degree burns?
I've been wearing that hat for a year now, and I grow weary of it. It doesn't suit me.
However, I'm not the one who gets to decide how others dress me. Maybe someday I'll do something that will inspire others to give me a new color scheme. But quite frankly, if they don't trust my judgment that the dog was too sick to save, other things I do probably won't make much sense to them either. And if they don't trust that I nearly killed myself trying to save the other fire victim, they'll always be suspicious of my motives.
On the other hand, black is supposed to be slimming, isn't it? And is anybody still making movies in the Film Noir genre? Maybe I can get a role in one of those!
# # #
Title: J
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/015-MyGFJ
Posted Date: 06-May-2008      Created Date: 06-May-2008
David's Comments: I might pay for this. Oh well ... don't do the crime if you can't do the time. :)
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She has pretty, big, blue eyes,
   but she doesn't read my stuff.
4000 readers, on the rise,
   yet this one would be enough.
Now I post and risk demise,
   hope she doesn't call my bluff.
If you see her passing by,
   tell her this site's full of fluff.
# # #
Title: Destined to a Fate of Possibility
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/014-DestinedToPossibility
Posted Date: 10-Apr-2008      Created Date: 10-Apr-2008
David's Comments: We can't rely on a Parent for everything.
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Destined to a Fate of Possibility

Every future offers more Paths of Possibility than human imagination can envision.
And yet we fall back on Destiny, an invention of the mind too narrow to examine Possibility; on Fate, an excuse of the spirit too beaten to visit Alternative.
If God exists, surely she tires of her parental role, her shoulder wet from giving consolation to her children, her fingers sore from prying open their eyes, her arms strained from pulling them to their feet to convince them to walk and to run and to play.
# # #
Title: Down on Main Street
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/013-DownOnMainStreet
Posted Date: 18-Oct-2007      Created Date: 17-Oct-2007
David's Comments: Blink, and you'll miss them.
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Down on Main Street


We've all seen them. They're just not quite right. I can tell at a glance that they don't follow the mainstream of society. Of course I'm polite about it: I smile, nod, maybe say a kind word, but keep my distance.

He was the guy I saw in the burger joint. He was dressed within societal norms for middle class casual, but he was seventeen words too friendly, and far too specific about how he wanted his burger prepared. And he was needlessly concerned that I should ask the cashier for the half-dollar coin he just gave her.

Then there was the family out for a drive. My view through their rear window triggered my intrinsic prejudice; by facial appearance, they were a stereotypical family of hillbillies; by dress, bound for Something-Mart. And by the look it, all of the occupants were dead set on participating in the driving.



The real shame is that it's been my loss, and an unspoken insult to them.

Though, to be fair to myself, it's often a two-way prejudice. There was another time I was standing in a long line at a fast food restaurant, and a guy I'd never seen before in my life, ahead of me in line, donned an unapologetic sneer at me. He glared at me for at least a full minute before the switchbacks put us within a couple feet of each other.

His emotional disability was apparent in his facial expression toward me. And my intuition suggested that he had perhaps intellectual challenges as well. I am not a confrontational person, but something told me I should stand my social ground. When we came close together, I held his stare expressionlessly for a few seconds, then half-smiled, and said, "Hi."

Unfazed, his lips parted, and he uttered in a most dramatic way, "I loath you."

Determined not to react emotionally, I asked, "Why is that?"

Continuing his glare, with the same melodrama he returned, "Because of how you look."

"Hmmm," I said, unaffected, "That's a shame."


Friends of a Friend

Then there was a time a friend of mine invited me to a gathering of people I'd never met before. As I walked into the room, my prejudice kicked in. These were clearly not mainstreamers. Choice of hairstyle and clothing were the biggest indicators for me.

But I fought it off. I resisted the prejudice that leapt into my emotions. And now the friends of my friend are my friends. Among my best friends, in fact.


Prejudiced Against Prejudice

"Prejudice" is seen by mainstream society as categorically bad. And yet it's probably fair to say that mainstream society is where prejudice is most prevalent.

I submit that prejudice is neither good nor bad; it's just a conditioned emotional response, and a necessary component of quick response to real emergencies. How we act on that prejudice, however, can be good or bad. I can accept the fact that I had a prejudicial emotional response to the overly friendly guy at the burger joint; but should I avoid him because he's weird? I didn't. I smiled and interacted with him as I would with anyone else I don't know. It cost me nothing to do so, and it brought me no harm.

My tendency is to hold my prejudice close to the vest, and wait for further input. But, sadly, I'm sure that my prejudice colors my perception. The best I can hope for is to be aware of it and try to compensate.

Most of all, I need to fight my prejudice that favors the mainstream. The majority ain't all it's cracked up to be. America doesn't just live on Main Street; and I'm very glad of that.
# # #
Title: Where Do Experts Come From?
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/012-Experts
Posted Date: 28-Sep-2007      Created Date: 28-Sep-2007
David's Comments: At least they got me writing again.
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Where Do Experts Come From?

I've noticed that cable news channels always seem to be able to find an "expert" in any given subject. But how do you go about locating an expert in a niche field like desert survival, or explosive footwear, or stellar cartography?
Then it occurred to me: You don't have to locate them; they locate you. Experts, by definition, have the highest level of knowledge in a particular field. So it stands to reason that only an expert knows enough to evaluate his own expertise.
Typically it seems I encounter an expert when I least think that I need one. And after all, who would know better than they that I need their help? I don't have to ask for advice, because they know when to give it.
Most recently aid has come to me in the form of unsolicited evaluation and advice about a relationship. This has been a very liberating development. While it is true that these experts don't know the intimate details of my life (in some cases not even the non-intimate details), it is intuitively obvious that relationships are highly subjective, and therefore largely independent of facts. All you need to know about someone else's romance you can easily gather through casual interaction, because it is indisputable that a relationship appears from the outside exactly as it truly is on the inside.
Although I can't currently understand the wisdom these experts have imparted, I must have faith that they can perceive the nuances of my values and aspirations. Who am I to second-guess an authoritative assessment? I'm no expert on relationships.
I'm only an expert in the usage of irony.
# # #
Title: Hawkish Grandeur
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/011-HawkishGrandeur
Posted Date: 22-Feb-2007      Created Date: 22-Feb-2007
David's Comments: I'm feeling quite disenchanted with entities who capriciously wield their power over the weak. If you don't care for my dark and cynical stuff, read no further.
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Hawkish Grandeur

It sails gracefully, majestically on the breath of gods.
Its peers are the cloud and the zephyr.
Its challenges are known to itself alone.
Who would not thrill to join its lofty venture?
A tinge of hunger annoying its endeavor, it deigns turn its keen vision downward to the unending plains of grassroots below.
He watches from the ground, at once awed, fearful, enchanted.
He sees the slow spiral of the circling spirit.
He sways with the looping rhythm, dreaming, envious.
But earthly matters distract.
He forages in unrelenting search for sustenance.
He grooms fur, scratches after parasite.
Others of his kin respect his prowess and experience.
He can detect slightest fragrance of thistle.
He can feel barest footfall of approaching danger.
The sun warms him.
He stretches his legs and rolls in the warm dust of the earth around him.
He enjoys the breeze that wafts through the grass leafs.
It is the same breeze upon which the shadow sails.
He peers again into the heavens.
He sees his fate too late.
The shadow grows and darkens on him.
Talons grip him, crushing his chest, expelling his breath, piercing his heart, halting his struggle, bearing him heavenward.
All watch from the ground, at once awed, fearful, enchanted.
His identity is gone, consumed.
His useful chattels are incorporated into its enterprise.
Who would not thrill to join its lofty venture?
# # #
Title: White-Collar Crime
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/010-WhiteCollarCrime
Posted Date: 17-Feb-2007      Created Date: 17-Feb-2007
David's Comments: "Give me a job, give me security, give me a chance to survive. I'm just a poor soul in the unemployment line. My God, I'm hardly alive."
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White-Collar Crime

Welcome to the job market!

Check your humanity at the door.

Our white-collar job market has come a long way since I got my first job. There is no doubt that it has become more efficient. But somewhere along the way it lost its soul.

The Golden Rule: Whoever Has the Gold Makes the Rules

The job market has always existed for the benefit of the employer and not for job candidates. And that's the way it should be. After all, the employer bears the bulk of the expense for finding the right person for the job.

But the job market has undergone some insidious changes. We now have an Internet-centric existence, where information flows freely. The blessing it brings for an employer is that they can now have their choice of a vast number of candidates for a single job. The curse it brings for an employer is that they now have a vast number of candidates for every single job. So the process has mutated from a subjective human process of judgment into an objective automated process of numbers and keywords.


Inhumane Resources

Personnel departments (now poetically named "Human Resource" departments, as if employees are just another asset that the organization owns) are now so overwhelmed by each job search that they often hide anonymously behind recruiters or blind mailboxes, so that candidates cannot contact them directly for questions about the position or its status. And because employers have the advantage of anonymity, and the excuse of large numbers of candidates, they rarely see any ethical imperative to advise candidates about their status.

Candidates must not only be good in their field, they must also learn how to play the job market. One of the new rules of that game seems to be: Don't become emotionally committed to any job prospect.

A conscientious candidate must imagine slipping into that job in order to effectively compose a cover letter and tailor a resume. But no amount of effort, no amount of conscientiousness, will make the employer any more considerate in advising the candidate about the job status. So the candidate is best served to launch an application and forget about it. It used to be that following up on your application was an important way to show your enthusiasm for a job. But employers now make it difficult or impossible to do that because of the way they conduct their searches.


Personnel Experience

I wish I were more proficient at emotional detachment. When I create a cover letter and tailor my resume, I agonize over it to get it just right. Afterward I can't help but hold onto a strand of hope that the job will materialize. But after five months, and dozens of job searches, only one employer has had the consideration of advising me of my status.

That is emotionally taxing for me. It becomes harder and harder to look at a job listing that seems to be a good fit, and then summon the emotional energy to create another well-crafted cover letter and another highly-tailored resume. It's emotionally taxing because I know the greatest probability is that it will end up in the Recycle Bin on the Desktop of some HR department computer. It's emotionally taxing because despite my best efforts I tend to hold onto hope for ridiculously long periods of time. And it's emotionally taxing because I know that enthusiasm, ambition, loyalty, ingenuity, and flexibility are at the bottom of every employer's list of hiring criteria instead of the top.


Do Me A Personnel Favor

If you hold sway over a personnel department, please consider the following: The easiest way to conduct a candidate search is not necessarily the best way. Your method acutely affects the set of personal attributes your candidates will have.

If you seek only objective, quantifiable skills, that is all you will get. If you evaluate character first instead of last, the rest will fall into place. Skills can be learned quickly. Character takes a lifetime to develop.

If you treat your candidates like livestock, you will have a company of sheep and cattle. If you treat your candidates respectfully and with consideration for their time, you will have employees who respect their employer and strive for the wellbeing of the organization.

Spleen vented. Now, back to the grind.
# # #
Title: Mom vs. Dad
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/009-MomVsDad
Posted Date: 31-Jan-2007      Created Date: 31-Jan-2007
David's Comments: Nobody fools Father Nature.
Reader Comments: none
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Mom vs. Dad

Nurture vs. Nature

Whoever first characterized Nature as a mother rendered a grave disservice to Western culture. Have you ever stopped to think about how your parents varied from each other on policy and discipline? Now that I have an eight-year-old daughter whom I am holding increasingly responsible for her actions, I am seeing these issues from a new perspective.
Scene 1: Mom and Dad are chatting in the kitchen. From the den there is a crash, five seconds of silence, and a rising wail of distress from Daughter as she intuits that she is better off acting hurt than guilty.

Mom's Reaction: (running into the den, seeing an overturned chair and Daughter on the floor crying) "Oh, sweetie, are you OK? What happened? ... Poor thing! ... Now, didn't I tell you not to stand up in the chair like that?"

Dad's Reaction: (from the kitchen, calling into the den) "If there's any blood, don't let it get on the carpet. ... Maybe she'll remember this the next time she wants something from the top shelf."

Scene 2: Daughter has allowed the stuff in her bedroom to pile up approximately 40 feet deep because she has not put things away since ... well, believe it or not, this happened in just one afternoon of getting out every toy to play with each one for eight seconds, getting out every book to decide which one to read for story time, getting out every craft item to take inventory of them, and getting out every article of clothing to play dress-up.

Mom's Reaction: (furious) "I can't believe what a pigsty this room has become! You get no TV privileges until you clear a path from the door to the bed!" (Then seeing Daughter's dismay at not knowing where to start) "I'll make you a list of things to put away."

Dad's Reaction: (amazed) "Impressive! Well, you're nuts if you think I'm wading in there to do story time tonight. And there's no way I'm buying you another Barbie doll until you're ready to leave for college."

Scene 3: Mom is arguing with Daughter over what she should wear to school. It's 30 degrees outside. Daughter wants to wear a miniskirt; Mom wants her to wear thermal underwear, jeans, and a parka.

Mom's Reaction: "Absolutely not! You'll get hypothermia, and the school will call me to tell me what a horrible parent I am."

Dad's Reaction: "I don't care what the school thinks. Let her freeze her butt off so she'll know better next time."

We talk of the fury of Mother Nature. But when you were a child, whose wrath were you more afraid of? Mom's or Dad's? And we talk of the unpredictability of Mother Nature. But again, whose reaction were you more likely to be able to predict? There's a reason our culture uses the stereotypical threat, "You just wait until your father gets home!" Before law enforcement professionals made their first appearance on the face of the earth, Mom and Dad were perfecting the good-cop / bad-cop routine.

And surely it's encrypted in our genetic code for Mom to protect her child from every little danger and Dad to incite his child toward every little risk. I can picture Oggalina, the adolescent cave dweller, being scolded by her mom to wear the long mammoth pelt, and then sneaking out (wearing the short mammoth pelt) with her dad so he can teach her how to climb a rock wall and steal pterodactyl eggs (anachronisms notwithstanding).

Maybe mothers are more cautious about the safety of children because they have a better understanding of how difficult it is to make another one.
# # #
Title: Fantasy Eye Lens
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/008-FantasyEyeLens
Posted Date: 25-Jan-2007      Created Date: 25-Jan-2007
David's Comments: Look at the world through my eyes ... if you have no further use for your sanity.
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Fantasy Eye Lens


Is it true that those who can't cope with reality retreat to fantasy? Maybe. But I think instead, those who can't fantasize can't excel in reality.

Have No Delusion about Fantasy

Some people equate fantasy with delusion, but it's not the same concept. Delusion is false belief, and often self-deception; fantasy is imagination, and often hope. Fantasy can sometimes become reality.

Dream Home

When something in my life is unacceptable to me, I might fantasize about an alternative. But that's not because I can't cope with that reality, it's just because I prefer to change that reality. When more things in my life are unacceptable, I spend more time in fantasyland, but I don't totally shut myself off from reality. You may choose to call that a retreat from reality; I choose to call it a planning session.

In my fantasy world, ideas rise and fall, ebb and flow. There is a temptation for me to spend too much time in fantasyland, because there I am quite proficient at creating people, places, things, and circumstances, as I need to. Yet while it's easy for me to create those out of the ether of my thoughts, their existence is like mist blown by the ever-shifting winds of my emotions and the ever-sobering events of reality. Though I form them in the likeness of reality, I am always mindful that they are unsubstantial and unstable.

Despite its tentative existence, I sometimes get attached to a dream. Maybe it's foolish of me to allow myself to do that, but I have found that the realization of a dream seems to require an investment of emotion. Only then can a dream give me the Hope I need to feather my wings for flight. Most often the life cycle of one of my favored dreams ends in fiery cataclysm. The bigger the dream and the higher I fly, the bigger the crater, the hotter the fireball, and the heavier the hail of jagged debris. And having formed an emotional attachment to that dream, at its demise I experience grief proportional to its importance. So my fantasy life and my emotions follow the cycle: Dream, Obsess, Crash, Repeat.

But sometimes ... sometimes ... the cycle goes: Dream, Obsess, Realize. And that's what keeps me going. No matter how spectacular the crash, how deep the crater, how hot the fireball, how heavy the debris ... the thoughts and emotions I have invested are ethereal, not material ... I will eventually emerge miraculously from the crash site, and live to fly again.

# # #
Title: It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ...
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/007-ItsABirdItsAPlane
Posted Date: 18-Jan-2007      Created Date: 18-Jan-2007
David's Comments: If humans were meant to fly, God would have given us an overhead rotor.
Reader Comments: none
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It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ...


I've always wanted to pilot an airplane. Over the years I've gained book knowledge of the principles of flight, and the basic controls for flying an airplane. I've played with flight simulators, and learned some advanced maneuvers. And I've ridden in the copilot seat of my uncle's twin-engine craft. I love the feeling of flying in a small airplane. As you glide past the clouds, above the landscape, you feel like a bird ... like you belong up there.

A helicopter ain't like that. A helicopter is constantly at war with gravity. The engine is all-important. There is no such thing as a dead stick landing, gliding gracefully back to the earth. If the engine fails, the very best you can hope for is to allow the main rotor to keep spinning and reduce the speed of your inevitable crash.

So I've long thought I'd like to try my hand at flying an airplane. But my first opportunity for piloting was not in an airplane; it was in a helicopter. The instructor's first talk with me included a warning about the worst-case scenario, in which the main rotor bites too much air and folds up overhead, guaranteeing an unimpeded fatal drop to the ground. But despite him instilling the fear of death into me, I gotta say I loved the experience.

It was a sobering feeling to have my life and my instructor's under the clumsy command of my unskilled hands and feet. But after a few minutes the experience began to feel less like I was trying to communicate with a dragonfly beast from Alpha Centauri by using semaphore flags and an accordion, and more like I was driving a team of bumblebees by using four-hundred yards of kite string and trigonometry. In other words, I was far from comfortable, but I was at least starting to see something familiar in the controls.

My instructor described airplane flight as basically stable, and helicopter flight as basically unstable. I would agree. I found that if continual adjustments are not made, the helicopter's bearings deviate dramatically from the starting position. In other words you cannot point it where you want to go and just sit back for a while; you have to keep tweaking to remain on your heading.

At the end of the experience, looking back now, I feel confident enough in my ability that if all the helicopter pilots on earth were to die, and the fate of the human race were to hinge on my ability to fly the only vial of antivirus serum across the mountains to the village of the last survivors ... I feel absolutely certain that humankind would have a decent chance for survival.

Don't worry. I won't quit my day job.

# # #
Title: Third Shift Talkativity
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/006-ThirdShiftTalkativity
Posted Date: 14-Nov-2006      Created Date: 14-Nov-2006
David's Comments: Darkness sometimes brings out the civility in us.
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Third Shift Talkativity


People talk. Especially at 4 a.m. when they should be asleep.

I live in a small southern town, so you would already expect the residents to be talkative; but even factoring in population and latitude, I notice a marked increase in talkativity during the wee hours.

Case in point: at 4 a.m. today I venture out to the 24-hour discount store Which Avidly Locates Marketing Around Rural Towns. Why do I pick this hour to shop? Because I have noticed I am out of chocolate milk, and there is a little redheaded chocolate-milk-ivore in the house who will need sustenance in two hours. Or at least that's the excuse I'm using today. Actually I just do a poor job of managing my time, and that store keeps hours just for insomniacs like me.

There is a calm in the air at 4 a.m. Sparse vehicle traffic makes for a quiet approach to the entrance of the megastore. In daylight hours I sometimes move within the herd past the greeter without any acknowledgement of my presence, but at this hour that never occurs.

As I traverse the aisles, culling my shopping list, I encounter stacks of boxes, stock clerks, and floor buffers, all of which pose a challenge to navigating the store. But I am accustomed to the obstacles now. There are few other customers, but those whom I encounter, as compared to primetime shoppers, are far more likely to exchange a greeting or at least a nod or smile. There is a certain camaraderie among wee-hour shoppers; it's a form of validation that we use to reassure each other that although we may be a bit warped to go shopping at 4 a.m., we are at least not alone in our deviant behavior.

There is only one checkout register open, but no line, so I roll on in. The checkout clerk is far more relaxed and talkative than during primetime. She endorses my selection of bottled marinade, and suggests that the teriyaki style in that brand is also good.

On my way out, the greeter gives me the hairy eyeball, and asks to see my receipt. I haven't seen him before. Maybe he's new on this shift, and I fit his profile for suspicious behavior; after all, who would buy a half cart of groceries at 4 a.m.? Or maybe he's just bored.

Out in the parking lot, as I load my groceries into the car, another shopper just arriving calls out to me, "Hey there! It's a great time to shop isn't it?" I chuckle and nod my response.

Back at home as I am carrying groceries in, even the dogs down the street are extra-talkative. They tell me that there's a group of deer shopping for greenery in the neighborhood.

# # #
Title: Virtual Patience
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/005-VirtualPatience
Posted Date: 23-Sep-2006      Created Date: 23-Sep-2006
David's Comments: Maybe I should get a job as a waiter.
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Virtual Patience


Patience truly is a virtue. If you have none, you acquire extra stress in your life when encountering one of the many situations that absolutely requires waiting. A hard-boiled egg takes about ten minutes to cook, no matter who you are ... just deal with it.

On the other hand, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If you have too much patience, the world will beat a path to your door ... then it will continue through your door, up your chest, across your face, down your back, stop briefly to force its collective boot into your rectum, then leave and take with it every last ounce of your dignity and self-respect.

How do I know this? Because I am very patient. Extremely patient. So patient that I can wait in line at McDonald's for 45 minutes for the clerk to process only three orders in front of me, and then not even lodge a complaint. (I'm not kidding ... I am ashamed to say it, but I actually did that.) Patient to a fault.


How much is too much? How much is too little? Obviously I am no expert, so I can't tell you exactly where to draw those lines. But maybe it will be instructive to examine a few situations and responses that are clearly across the lines.

Situation: You are waiting in line to check out at the grocery store.
Too Hot: The clerk stops to bend over and retrieve a dropped coin. You abandon your buggy and stomp out of the store.
Too Cold: The clerk stops talking on the phone to bend over and retrieve a dropped cigarette. You stop smiling politely just long enough to shift your weight to the other leg.
Situation: You are waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right.
Too Hot: You decide it will be close enough to just wait for Mr. or Ms. Right-Handed.
Too Cold: You decide to wait for the right combination of signs: the clouds must part overhead, and a sunbeam must illuminate the scene as a bluebird lands on his or her shoulder.
Situation: You are waiting for the president to bring your family member home from overseas service.
Too Hot: You are unwilling to accept "They haven't even left boot camp yet."
Too Cold: You are willing to accept "They just unearthed a smelly beer can. Could be evidence of those WMDs we've been looking for."
Situation: You are waiting for him or her to be in the mood for sex.
Too Hot: You are unwilling to accept "Not now, dear, the light's about to turn green."
Too Cold: You are willing to accept "Not yet, dear, our child hasn't graduated from high school."
Situation: You are waiting for Godot.
Too Hot: You find your life's meaning by consulting your Magic 8 Ball.
Too Cold: You pass up that job in management so that you can spend more time praying for lottery numbers.

Somewhere between those extremes lies the happy middle ground. Now it's time for me to explore that new territory.

# # #
Title: Loose Lips Sink 'Ships
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/004-LooseLipsSinkShips
Posted Date: 17-Sep-2006      Created Date: 17-Sep-2006
David's Comments: CYNICISM ALERT - caveat reader
Reader Comments: none
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Loose Lips Sink 'Ships


... relation'ships, that is.

[cynicism mode ON]

I'm going to get whiny now, so if you don't like the jaded, bitter me, you should probably not read any further.

Honestly, I Am Frustrated.

Honesty might be the best policy, but it certainly is not the most rewarded policy. After a lifetime of research, my finding is that relationships (be they partnerships, proprietorships, friendships, or courtships ... even citizenships) prefer truth to be administered in carefully measured amounts. Much like mushrooms, they seem to grow best when kept in the dark and given plenty of watered-down fertilizer.

Admittedly, my findings are derived not of the data from successful experiences, but from failures, which seem to be more instructive and surely are more memorable. And certainly my findings are biased, with recent experiences receiving more weight. I am not at liberty to divulge all of my experiential data, but I can disclose some persuasive anecdotes in support of my thesis.

As I related in an earlier article (16-Jul-2006 — Intuition: It's Not What You Think), my experience in sixth grade with speaking the truth to defend myself earned me a full school year of martyrdom at the front of the classroom.

Much more recently I have served many terms of jury duty. On one of those occasions, when I missed my first day because of illness, I approached the judge the next day to humbly explain the situation. He raked me over the coals for my irresponsible behavior, and threatened to throw me in jail. The thirty-or-so jurists who were also absent the first day, but who never appeared before the judge, escaped with no repercussions.

In similar fashion, while operating my business, I learned the hard way that the taxing agencies of our government also reward punctual data in preference to honest data (see article 26-Jun-2006 — I'm Afraid Not).

Personally Challenged.

Experience shows that, likewise, my personal relationships do not fare well in the face of full-frontal honesty. All is golden for small talk and jokes, and even aspersions about third parties. But when disclosing my personal struggles to a friend, with the hope of receiving helpful suggestions or commiseration, those attempts have resulted in subsequent withdrawal of the concerned ear.

I am left with few likely conclusions to draw. One possibility is that friends who will lend a sympathetic ear are a rarity. Another possibility is that I am just not the kind of person whom people like once they get to know me. Despite repeated incidents supporting the second alternative, my self-confidence survives with enough vitality to encourage me to discount that conclusion.

[cynicism mode OFF]

Considering that in the statements above I may have implicitly insulted some of my friends, I realize that there is a significant probability that I truly am the kind of friend who is best held at a generous arm's length. And it might well be the case that my loose lips just sank a few more 'ships (perhaps even readerships). I agonized over the decision to post this article. If it was a mistake, it wasn't my first. And if I am fortunate, it will not be my last, because I intend to go on being honest and candid with those who don't get away from me fast enough. So ... in light of that revelation ... I offer my sincere apologies to those I have inadvertently insulted or alienated (or will offend in the future).


However ... I do not apologize for being me.

# # #
Title: The ARt of Conversation
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/003-ARtOfConversation
Posted Date: 17-Aug-2006      Created Date: 17-Aug-2006
David's Comments: What do you get when you cross an A.R. personality and poor conversation skills? Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Reader Comments: none
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The ARt of Conversation


Me being in an impromptu conversation is like ... well, it's like John Bolton being an ambassador to the United Nations ... only without the Yosemite Sam mustache.


Awkward silence — lots of it — and half-finished sentences, and unintended offenses, all are my trademark results in most any conversation that I haven't rehearsed. So I rehearse a lot of different conversations in my head.

Sad, isn't it?

Most of my preparatory effort toward small talk is spent collecting or composing witty repartee to file away for future use. People think I'm a quick wit, but in reality I just have a good filing system in my head ... and a bit too much free time. Consequently, a joke or clever response can be stuck in there for months, waiting for the right situation for me to use it. What's more, I maintain in memory an entire database devoted to puns. Truth be known, I have even nudged conversations toward one of my talking points just so I could set up a joke.

So, there you have it ... my secret's out.

Getting In Deep

It's not just the small talk that gets me stammering; deep subjects challenge me too. So as life situations present themselves to me, I spend a lot of time imagining various conversations I might have with those involved. For me it's a lot like working a maze, with much backtracking from avenues that lead to likely misunderstandings, or offended sensibilities, or restraining orders.

Some of my rehearsed conversations are highly unlikely ever to occur, and yet are pleasant to imagine, so I run through them just for enjoyment. Does that mean I'm living in a fantasy world? Maybe so. Making a quick count, I see that I have numerous conversations on file that are marked as having "Many Good Outcomes" despite them being within the filing section designated as "Conversations I Shall Never Have." On the other hand, since there are a few of them that do not involve Angelina Jolie, maybe I'm not totally delusional.

Some of my rehearsed conversations yield large branches where all likely avenues lead to undesirable outcomes. Those branches I simply mark "Do Not Enter."

Fiction Science

Not surprisingly, when I conduct one of my rehearsed conversations in real life with the real actual person, it usually strays from the script. But as my former employer used to say, "It's always good to have a plan for your day, even if you can only follow it for the first ten minutes."

So if you're ever in a deep and meaningful conversation with me, and I suddenly clam-up or change the subject, don't worry. It probably just means we've had that conversation before — with or without you being present for it. Trust me, you don't want to go down that avenue.

And if we ever have a deep and meaningful conversation that flows smoothly, you should be flattered — or look into getting that restraining order.

# # #
Title: The Enemy of My Enemy
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/002-EnemyOfMyEnemy
Posted Date: 12-Aug-2006      Created Date: 12-Aug-2006
David's Comments: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Reader Comments: none
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The Enemy of My Enemy


It was a bit like a scene from a horror flick: I noticed one or two ants in the kitchen, then squished them with my finger, and thought nothing more of it ... until I came back a few hours later and found the countertop covered by a swarm.

I'm not phobic about ants, but that was a bit much for me. That incursion was like my own personal Pearl Harbor. So I declared war.

Commencement of Hostilities
WARNING: The following scene may be too graphic for entomologists. Parenteral guidance is suggested.

Out came the spray can! Dishes be damned, I could clean them later. Like Rambo, I began with the obvious invaders first, spraying the entire encampment. The stench of death in my nostrils did not faze me. And when I finished with the ones in the open, I flipped over dishes, and opened cabinets, exposing the insidious infestation, and wiped them out with a swath of poisonous vitriol from my weapon.

But I didn't stop there! No! Out of ammo, I reloaded. Then I tracked them. I followed their trail outside, down the wall, all the way back to their nest. And there I ruthlessly slaughtered them all, even their young and unborn.

R & D

That's when I noticed the other nests. Around nearly every tree in the yard there were ant nests, massive ant nests, with superhighways of ants running up and down the trees. I had been assuming that the invaders were fire ants. To my untrained eye they appeared the same as fire ants. But they weren't acting like fire ants. And they weren't biting like fire ants.

So I did my research. What I found is that these are Argentine ants, another imported species that is spreading rapidly. This type of ant breeds in overwhelming numbers. With 10% of the population being egg-laying queens, when they have a sufficient food source they can generate tremendous numbers nearly overnight. But they are not aggressive to larger animals; rather they are attracted to dead things and sweet substances. In my yard their primary source of food appears to be up in the trees, in the form of certain saps and insect byproducts.


With new eyes, I re-explored my yard. There were absolutely no fire ant mounds anywhere. Had the Argentine ants run them out?

After several unsuccessful attempts at exterminating the Argentine ants from my yard, we have reached a tentative peace agreement. As long as the Argentine ants will keep the fire ants off my property I will not be calling in a professional exterminator.

In violation of the treatise, they still make occasional incursions into the outside garbage can, or into a car where goodies have been spilled. This results in sanctions involving a culling of their population. But I can't remember the last time I had a fire ant bite, so I guess I can live with their infrequent border violations.

# # #
Title: Animal Magnetism
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Personal Reflection      Article: personal/001-AnimalMagnetism
Posted Date: 04-Aug-2006      Created Date: 04-Aug-2006
David's Comments: Ladies, and insects, please check your libido at the door.
Reader Comments: none
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Animal Magnetism

I never realized that a circular saw could be an aphrodisiac.

Ladies, picture if you will a guy working in shorts and T-shirt, outside in 100-degree weather, building a carport, his clothes so drenched in sweat that it appears he was caught in a rainstorm.

Not turned on yet?  Well then, imagine him operating a circular saw, with that whining, grating pitch rising and falling.

Still not doing it for you?  Hrrmph!  Well, it sure attracted the female cicadas to me!  For those who do not know, a cicada is an insect that lives most of its life underground, but immerges and sheds its skin to become something that resembles a housefly on megasteroids.  [click here for encyclopedia article] This final stage of their life, occurring in the dog days of summer, is the time they sit in the treetops and the males "sing" to the females a whining, grating song that bears an amount of resemblance to the sound a circular saw makes.  They do this to attract a mate.  I reckon that's why two female cicadas made the moves on me.

So, after having to beat them away with a stick, I see clearly that I have it: Animal Magnetism.

Title: It Is Better To Give
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/007-BetterToGive
Posted Date: 28-Jul-2006      Created Date: 28-Jul-2006
David's Comments: It's nice to see an old adage demonstrated so clearly.
Reader Comments: none
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You've heard it a buhzillion times: "It's better to give than to receive."  But few times in my life have I had it demonstrated as clearly as today ...

I was driving for six hours today.  Drivers were being about as considerate as they typically are — in other words, not at all.  Somewhere in the vicinity of Greenville, I got into the spirit of things, and cut off another driver.  As a result, I had the ultimate driver's gift bestowed on me.  I received the finger.  That's when I realized that receiving is not all that grand a thing.

Later in the day, out on I-26, a driver cut me off.  As I contemplated how to respond, I thought of my experience earlier in the day, and realized that verily it is better to give than to receive.

Title: What Goes Up
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/004-WhatGoesUp
Posted Date: 04-Jul-2006      Created Date: 04-Jul-2006
David's Comments: Someone is waiting just for you. / Spinning wheel spinning true. / Drop all your troubles by the riverside. / Catch a painted pony on the spinning wheel ride.
Reader Comments: none
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I've often heard the old adage,
"What goes up must come down."
It's plain to see how that applies to most things,
with obvious exceptions like age, body weight,
and space vehicles traveling at escape velocities.
So that's a useful rule of thumb that I keep in mind.
But as I have been an unwitting host to recent
and numerous demonstrations of the validity of that old adage,
I find that I am now far more interested in knowing
whether those things that come down are ever likely to go back up.
Title: In the mirror, I used to see ...
Author: David Wilhite
Category: Aphorism      Article: aphorism/002-InTheMirrorIUsedToSee
Posted Date: 22-May-2006      Created Date: 22-May-2006
David's Comments: Depression is the potting soil of cynicism.
Reader Comments: none
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In the mirror, I used to see a star player hitting home runs out of the park.

Now I just see a disgruntled coach kicking sand on Umpire's shoes.
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