The Zombie Apocalypse

In the last 24 hours, everything about the world, as we know it, has abruptly changed, stripped of meaning. We are now facing a threat unlike any other. We must exercise radical self-acceptance and cope the best we can, while knowing our chances for survival grow more perilous as each hour passes. Our species is at war with a rapidly mutating virus and this virus manifests itself by becoming a parasite that feeds on the living, until they dwell in complete darkness, void of meaning. 

These mutants are indefatigable opponents, and our entire species is at imminent risk for annihilation. Our chances for survival without a vaccine to make us resistant to the rapidly spreading and evolving mutation are almost impossible, nil. 

The mutants have appeared suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, over a matter of hours, and Chaos and disorder rapidly spreads. Humans are scrambling to survive and seek the nearest refuge where their safety (for now) may be guaranteed during the rapidly evolving virus of this outbreak. But the mutants are gaining momentum and our species is at a critical juncture. This may be (most likely) the end of the world as we know it. 

Institutions (corporations, etc.) have been preparing for such a crises for years and rapidly secure the perimeter of their interests and their survival. This places enormous pressure and strain on those who seek to survive and whose chances of doing so, diminish minute by minute. But some get lucky (or at least they think they are) for they have been gifted with an opportunity to seek shelter and protection (for now) at the gates of one of the top medical and research institutions, which is based in Baltimore. In addition, this world-famous facility dabbles in real estate, and has agents who amass real estate to ensure that their stability is never threatened. 

Ground zero for this outbreak, luckily, is Baltimore. The source of this mutation sits and watches television and eats junk food and drinks Diet Coke most of the day and is less than an hour away from Baltimore. Occasionally, he’ll call his buddy and say: “Are we still good?” And his buddy never fails to put him at ease. This helps him maintain clarity and focus, knowing he has the full approval of his buddy. 

His intelligence comes directly from a foxy station, which he watches religiously, and this places him in an induced trance. Between the junk food and the Diet Coke, and while in this stupor, his level of genius increases exponentially. He processes and calculates complex information, equations, inaccessible to all others. 

He is a solitary and isolated figure who must remain so, so that his brain may be completely free of any trace of debris that may tamper with the building blocs of the complex equation of the virus, the calculations, the exact formula, to ensure it is iron-clad, impermeable, and will be  released into the atmosphere. By the end of the day, his lower face is stained orange. He has been gorging himself with enormous quantities of Cheetos. This, however, is the stage where he is fully inspired. 

Few scientists will argue that the scientific brain, above all, uses logic for problem-solving. Most will agree intuition provides flashes of insight, the missing pieces of the puzzle, which hold the key to everything. Eureka! That’s it! But even they are no match for this extraordinarily rare form of genius. He is almost unmatchable. 

The toxins for this virus are slowly released by this single most powerful man in the world. And though many may argue this man’s leadership skills are compromised, he is nonetheless unmatchable, and no one can argue that this man’s source of power is ultimately released from his tiny hands and extraordinarily nimble fingers. 

This has top nuclear physicists flummoxed : “What is the source of this man’s ability to release these deadly toxins, the building blocs of this virus, in less than one minute, and, in less than 120 characters, throughout the entire world? And, on the most secure network? Even more secure than the NSA? And, ensure the purity and integrity of its molecules and their meteoric speed are intact?”  

The nuclear physicists at Argonne Laboratory in Chicago are scratching their heads. They have worked round the clock for almost a century, to determine the speed and effectiveness of atomic particles as they race through the labyrinths of their subterranean tunnels below the city of Chicago. 

“Y’a mean this particle reaches Tibetan monks faster than ours does?”

Ahem.  

“Houston, we have a problem.”

But what those who are tirelessly working on a vaccine and who are looking for that needle in the haystack don’t realise is, the formula which will ensure the survival of our species is just a click away. 

This is the one and absolute antidote to the virus. Not surprisingly, although it’s foundation may interest mathematicians, it is easily accessible to all and is as brilliant as pure gold. 

There, there is but one artist (not surprisingly) in the world whose brilliance was and will be eternally unsurpassed. None before or after her will ever reach the heights and depths she reached, which have transfixed listeners for decades through her passion and beauty, and brought them to a place they had never been before. 

She, alone, drank from the sacred springs of Beauty and emerged a giant among peers. She, alone, possesses the key to this spring. 

She, alone, is the antidote of this virulent strain, for even the living dead cannot escape from such divine presence and bow in humility before her. 

She, alone, can crush the code of this deadly equation with a single bolt of lightning – in no more than 3 strikes of a minor key. 

She, alone, can crush the particles of those tiny hands, so they are then sucked into a Black Hole at a speed that is still unknown to us. 

And that, my friend, is the voice of Art.  

And she is everywhere. 

To Hell and Back Through Letters

Couldn’t help but share my experience in response to Robert Stokes Missive:
“Could not stop laughing at the Robert Stokes Letter.
I had a similar experience, but mine was a mere prelude to service, not an entire symphonic piece. Plus, my language was restrained. Last July the paper had published an opinion piece of mine, so I thought: Why not try again?
They thought about it for a couple of hours, and the editor got back to me and referenced the lovely language transitions, but the piece, she said, “is not quite right for our pages.”

I puzzled over that part of the response, as I had shared the piece with a friend and her response was: “Hilarious, terrifying, and insightful.” It reminded her of a British satirist, whose name she could not remember, and that she, too, had been to hell and back with Comcast. Others told me the reason they thought they had not published it was because Comcast is the King of the Internet in Baltimore, and the paper probably generated a lot of advertising revenue from the mouth of this King. There are more. However, they coexist in harmony, and support their territorial rights.

One comes from Saudi Arabia, for example, and though his influence appears to be essentially financial, it is remotely powered, for such a King would never actually set foot in Baltimore, unless absolutely necessary, and then would land here on a helipad.

Nonetheless, his influence cannot be ignored. An entire wing is dedicated to, and named after, him. In addition, it is impossible to ignore his presence, for upon entering one wing of this major medical institution (which similar to the Vatican, as in a city unto itself) one is overwhelmed by the godly dimensions and the size of his portrait. This act of vanity, however, would unleash the wrath of the Gods for its degree of hubris. Athena, for example, would pierce such a man with her gaze, alone, and thereby expose the hollow nature below the shell.

But I digress…
I cannot attest to the veracity of that conclusion, since I am still waiting for a response from the Editor-in-Chief of the paper, after composing, in a low key, my sense of bewilderment over that one phrase. In addition, I hinted how others had perceived the rejection, without ever revealing the seed of their conclusions. But most importantly, I asked him a simple question: What does that phrase actually mean?
It’s amazing how the most simple questions are often the most difficult to answer.”

“The Stokes Letter”
“Dear Cretins: 
I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your four-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, telephone, and alarm monitoring. During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions. Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative and seek to rectify these difficulties or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office.

My initial installation was canceled without warning, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website.

The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools — such as a drill-bit and his cerebrum. Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After 15 telephone calls over four weeks my modem arrived, six weeks after I had requested it — and begun to pay for it. I estimate your internet server’s downtime is roughly 35% — the hours between about 6 PM and midnight, Monday through Friday and most of the weekend. I am still waiting for my telephone connection.

I have made nine calls on my mobile to your no-help line and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals who are, it seems, also highly skilled bollock jugglers. I have been informed that: a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answering machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman, and several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore. Frankly I don’t care. It’s far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue. I thought British Telecom was crap; that they had attained the holy-pot of god-awful customer relations; and that no one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That’s why I chose NT and because, well, there isn’t anyone else is there? How surprised I therefore was when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum, incompetents of the highest order.

BT — wankers though they are — shine like brilliant beacons of success in the filthy mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy. Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver. Any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief and will quickly be replaced by derision and even perhaps bemused rage.
I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cat’s litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit — they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL and its worthless employees.

Have a nice day. May it be the last in your miserable short lives, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twits. 
May you rot in Hell, 
Robert Stokes”

Chronicles Of A Weary Traveler: Enterprise Rent-A-Car Review

In order to place this experience in its proper context, I would be remiss if I did not explain what precipitated my eventual arrival at Hertz, and the disastrous financial consequences of that fateful encounter, upon my return to the States, following an 18+ month period of living abroad –
It began with Enterprise.
Once I had booked my flight to the States, I knew I would have to rent a car to get to my hotel from Dulles International Airport. And I would have to do that, using my debit card, the only card I had. Airport locations further had specific rules that only applied there, and not elsewhere. In order to rent, you needed to show that along with your arrival, there was a scheduled departure date, listed on your ticket. These were the conditions for securing a rental.
The first call I made to Enterprise, I was not told this. Instead I was told I could not rent a car with a debit card. I had to have a bonafide Credit Card.
When I mentioned this to someone I knew in the States, he questioned that, and encouraged me to call Enterprise again. “Under what conditions can I rent a vehicle from an airport location using my debit card?” And sure enough, the agent said that as long as my itinerary showed I had an outbound flight, I could then rent a car, so I booked one.
Still uneasy, however, an intuitive red flag shook my confidence, so I was determined to verify once again what the Enterprise agent had told me, so one week before I left Europe, I called Enterprise to confirm the terms, and again I was given a green light.
But when I arrived at the facility, the Enterprise Representative was determined not to allow this to happen. He immediately began nitpicking.
“I see your departure date here is not until September, and yet you only want a rental for 2 weeks,” he said.
“That’s correct,” I said. “I don’t need a car for the entire period. I just need transportation to do what I have to do.”
This, apparently, was problematic for him.
“And you want to return the car to BWI (Baltimore International) instead of here, at Dulles,” he said.
“That’s correct,” I said. “Look I’ve made these arrangements ahead of time and asked the questions I had to ask and was assured there would be no problem. And besides, the sign here clearly states that Enterprise will accept a debit card as long as you show you have a departure date. It doesn’t state that there are additional conditions.”
But he would not budge.
“The BWI location is more convenient for me,” I explained, “and I was assured this would not be a problem.”
“But how do we know we’ll get our money?”
Now this was a prescient question. I never imagined there would be a situation where the funds would not be available. In retrospect, I now know this guy lacked the shark instincts I would later experience at Hertz. They knew better. “Because I honor my agreements.” I said.
That, too, did not satisfy Tamer, the Senior Customer Assistance
Rep, at Enterprise. “But you could go and withdraw your money tomorrow!” He added.
“I suppose I could. But I have no plan to do so.”
The final nail in the coffin was the address on my Driver’s license. That listed my last known address in the States and did not correspond to the address on file with my bank. THAT had been my European address. But now that that address had changed, days before I left Europe, I updated my banking information to reflect my new address in the States. Logistically, there was not enough time to do that with the MVA, and it was the first thing on my list of things to do, even before securing mobile service, the day following my arrival in the States.
This further distressed Tamer.
“Ah, how can I rent you a car if the address on your license doesn’t correspond to your debit card address? I just can’t do that,” he said.
“But I was living ABROAD. I JUST arrived. I STILL have to go to the MVA and update my information.”
But this sequence, though logical and sensible, did not register with the Tamer who faced other challenges, and he declined my reservation, further telling me that even though I had secured a reservation, those people who made the reservation didn’t actually work for Enterprise, but other car rental agencies, brokers, you might say, and therefore didn’t really know the Enterprise rules about renting a car using a debit card.
How could I possibly respond to that?
Though severely jet lagged and sleep deprived, I mustered whatever strength I had and pointed to the sign. “The sign clearly says I can rent a car using my debit card, as long as I have departure flight. It clearly states that. It lists no additional conditions.”
But Tamer would not budge.
And that’s how I landed in the front seat (Remember OJ Simpson? He was the celebrity face for Hertz Corporation’s rent-a-car advertising campaign, which, incidentally focused on airport rentals, before sinking into infamy) of a Hertz contract, one of the darkest periods of my financial misfortunes.

A Woman In Line

JOKES
A Woman In Line
To get an audience with the tax collectors in Athens, you have to get in line, as early as 5AM, to get a piece of paper with a number – your personal number – penciled on it. It’s the line for the hottest show in Athens, where citizens who provide amusement for those in Power are part of every act, – “Shades of The Greek Government”
(A WOMAN IN LINE)
“It’s a Thursday. And it’s February, so I didn’t have to get here at 5am – which is good, you know – but I was here before 7am, and it’ll be an hour before I get my ticket, and I can get outta here for a while.”
(LATER)
“Where exactly are you now?”
“Well, now, I’m gonna head back there and probably wait for another hour-and-a-half before I
actually see anybody. And then, maybe they can help me. But you never know.”
(ONE DAY LATER)
“Yeah, well, yesterday didn’t go so well. So, yeah, I’m still in line.”

The Hypocrite – Symptoms and Detection

The Hypocrite
Symptoms and Detection
The Hypocrite, unlike the Bureaucrat, who is a master of resistance, sees a fool in every room, and therefore has a lively and energetic mind, and is constantly engaging those around him or her, with constantly developing and evolving strategies, on how to best hide behind his or her duplicity, undetected. 
The Hypocrite, unlike the Bureaucrat, who has no need to be charming (indeed is adverse to any such notion, repelled by it) is the epitome of charm, always engaging and feigning interest, especially with those who may have reason to expose him or her for who they actually are. The greater the possibility for exposure, the more animated and engaging they become. The goal is to protect their secret, especially once it has leaked through the cracks of their fortified (or so they thought) tower, that tower, being the machinery we call the Brain, and attempt to plug the holes, which have rendered them vulnerable to ridicule. 
The Hypocrite cannot tolerate ridicule. The Hypocrite has painstakingly built whatever fortification is necessary to prevent such exposure. The Hypocrite combs his or her reputation with mathematical precision, to remove any knots (for there will be many) embedded in their carefully coiffed image. Indeed, they spend lots of time admiring and checking themselves in the mirror, to ensure their image has not cracked. 
Hypocrites can be found in all walks of life, but the most prolific ones are usually are at the top, so beware, lest you reach the top, and find yourself frequently admiring your reflection in the mirror, for some hitherto fool will certainly detect the cracks in that fine-chiseled visage of yours. 

The Human Imposter

The Human Imposter
Part 1
Beliefs
Evolution
Bugs
One day I discovered that where our tails had once been, scales now began to appear and develop. The rest of my flesh was still intact, but for how long? While most prefer to think in terms of evolution, I was forced to consider de-evolution as an alternative to orthodox doctrines. Could I be going backwards? How far had I evolved if this were, in fact, the case? Did I evolve into a worthwhile specimen?  
Instead of ascending to higher planes, I was returning to that cosmic pool where everything – at least in our world began – 
The Cosmic Soup. 
And if that were the case, would that be the end, or would that merely begin the entire cycle again. And what would the journey backwards consist of? Would we go back, using the same route? But first, back to getting here …
If that were so, that would mean that at some stage, we were anything but human. We could’ve been dogs, tigers, elephants or mastodons. But what would those who had become mastodons, for example, having faced extinction – what would become of them? Would there be a hidden door, hitherto unknown, to becoming human – just when we thought we had figured out the puzzle, a piece would then dislodge the entire frame of thought?  
Would they ever get here? –
Was there a door, or some other type of latch, whose existence we had not been privy to, and which would then require yet another adjustment?
Or would they simply stop and become Soup?  
If that were so, then how did that influence those others who became what we are? – 
The ones who completed the entire cycle? Would a person who had once been a tiger, for example, now be a danger to others? Who would the rats that populate our cities and countryside become?
It seems that if this were so, we would have to rewrite biology (and other) textbooks, to explain the enormous shift in scientific thought, to explain how this freshly picked bulb proved the entire body of knowledge and thought completely wrong. Everything would have to be rewritten. 
If that were so, then we could place each version side-by-side, and study the errors in thought we had made and how those errors yielded false conclusions. And we would always have to leave space for that knowledge we still did not possess, and may never possess – Ignorance, the knowledge of The Unknown. 
Now that kind of job would interest me – reviewing the lineage of flawed ideas, knowledge, perceptions, and perspectives, and their application in the world I live in. 
____________