RW117 - Disaster Coffee

This week, Dan and John talk about:

  • John changing the way he sleeps in his bed (Sleep)
  • Kava Instant Coffee (Food and Drink)
  • Visiting a coin shop (Objects)
  • Follow-up: The tweaker burglary at Dan’s friend’s house (The Burglary)
  • What keeps us from losing it? (Philosophy)
  • John's neighbors from across the street (House)
  • Dan's former neighbors (Dan Benjamin)
  • John's apartment where his neighbors could hear everything (Early Days)
  • Dan's neighbor with their barking dog (Dan Benjamin)
  • The way of our current civilization (Philosophy)

The show title refers to John's instant coffee that he keeps in his disaster bag in preparation for the apocalypse.

It is warm in Seattle, but not too hot. John has an air conditioner but he doesn't turn it on unless it is one of those crazy days.

John changing the way he sleeps in his bed (RW117)

John is always slow to wake. He got almost eight hours of sleep last night, which is plenty, but it was a strange swimming through the purple clouds of various adventures and scenarios and so he is a little groggy. It was an interesting sleep journey, surfing in and out between dream and memory, which is becoming the new normal. John has a lot on his mind and that is appearing in his dream world.

Last night John tried sleeping at a different diagonal in his bed, because he felt it was time to reorient the hypotenuse. Normally his head would be in a South Wester lead direction, but last last night he headed into the South East. When you are laying in bed with your head facing to the South, your left elbow is catching the future before your right elbow as the Earth is spinning. For the last decade John has been sleeping with his head to the South, but normally he would prefer to go into the future with his head first. By sleeping with his head to the South, he is hanging by his feet upside down the entire time.

John does not use lavender on his pillow, because it would be a major distraction and would mess him up. He is no super-taster, but he is in the family of sensitive smellers and tasters who can smell a dead squirrel from across the street when nobody else is bothered by it. Dan is in the same boat when it comes to that kind of thing, but Lavender seems alright. John can support a little dab of lavender behind the ear as a scent, but putting it on his own pillow intentionally would not soothe him, but he would end up having to put that pillow in a special place like a closet downstairs or out on the street.

Kava Instant Coffee (RW117)

John had a coffee catastrophe. His Keurig was broken and no matter what setting he would set it to, it always did just a small cup. The next day his trusty Toastmaster coffee grinder broke. It is the cheapest little coffee grinder you can buy at a drugstore and which had never failed him once before. A lot of his fancy friends have Bur grinders or are grinding their coffee with a leather strap and a Civil War sword. They were extremely contemptuous of John's Toastmaster because it did it wrong somehow, but this thing cost him nothing and John beat the shit out of it for 12 years. It failed the day after the Keurig failed and now John was standing there not being able to make normal coffee either. He didn't have his dad's old manual coffee grinder thing.

John busted into his disaster supplies, his duffel bags full of apocalypse scenario. If you want to live on spam, you should check out John's mom's disaster bag because she thinks spam is great disaster food. John took a case of spam to the food bank the other day in a big load of other stuff and he was telling the guy that a couple of these things were a little bit expired, but that was no problem because canned goods are good for a long time after their expiration date. Spam in particular is probably good 70 years after its expiration date. John's mom was right all along! It is the best disaster food there is, it is its own universe.

John went into the disaster bag and pulled out some disaster coffee called Kava. There is no relationship to the Kava Kava root supplements, but it is just normal instant coffee that they have been making since the 1950s. It is low acid instant coffee, it is powerful stuff and it is not messing around. The photo they have on the kavacoffee.com website has to be a Photoshopped cup of coffee because it is impossible to pour a cup that full, and why would you?

Given the nature of his work, John consumes a lot of instant coffee. It is necessary to do his business and you don't always get the coffee that you want, but you go to war with the coffee that you have. Kava really packs it! John served a cup of Kava to his pal Adam Pranica who came by the other day. He is a young-ish food snob type, but he thought that this was actually good. John said it is not just good, but it gives you a weird day-long buzz. You drink a cup of this and you are still chewing nails at 6pm.

In South Korea they drink instant coffee called Maxim that comes in a red container with a very pretty Korean woman on it. They also do it in yellow, but that is the mild one. Dan was very surprised when he went to South Korea 15 years ago that there were no Starbucks or anything like that around and the coffee you got there was typically instant coffee with non-dairy creamer and a ton of sugar in it. They had coffee vending machines everywhere that in the US there might be a coke machine or a water machine and it would brew the hot water for you and deposit the creamer and the Maxim and the sugar in it for you.

This was at the height of Dan's coffee ridiculousness where he was learning to roast his own beans on a pan in the oven. He had a Bur grinder and a french press and he had the best espresso machine he could afford. Dan was into it and he was serious about it and he cared deeply about his coffee, so this was blasphemous to him and he was repulsed by the idea.

They explained that for them coffee is a lot like tea: You have hot water, you put something in it, and you drink it. Instant coffee fits into that scenario perfectly! They weren't very much about brewing stuff at the time, which may have changed. When Dan came home after a couple of weeks and tried his regular coffee at home, it was missing something and he had to go out and buy the instant stuff.

John learned to love instant coffee in Europe, a place where you would think they have the best coffee in the world. They got little Douwe Egberts coffee machines all over the place and when you stay at somebody's Pension, you were as likely to get instant coffee as you were to get good coffee in the morning. John came to really love instant coffee and he started to hoard it because he was afraid what would happen if he didn't have access to it. In situations where he could pocket a couple of extra little instant coffee packs, he would put some inside his jacket just in case.

That is where John's Kava disaster coffee came from, because when you are putting together your disaster duffel, you do need food, but what is the thing you consume that you love the most that you need the most and that you couldn't imagine a day without? It is not even food, but it is your best friend coffee! You got to find a way to have coffee in the future after the gun nuts finally start their gun nut revolution and all of the supply chains will be busted and nobody can get any fresh fruit or vegetables anymore. John is not going to be sitting around drinking black tea, but he is going to be enjoying his delicious Kava!

Kava has nothing to do with the Kava Kava root supplement. They continue to talk about that for a while and Dan mentioned that he has been in a Kava Kava bar in Austin, but he never had one of those drinks. The bar had a lot of artwork on the walls that needed explanation. Those paintings were for sale, but they were no Renaissance paintings of of a guy with a halo, but someone needed to explain why that person had antlers and why they were stabbed by a ghost.

The place was deserted and Dan has a rule that if he is going to a restaurant at a normal time of day when you would expect people to be in a restaurant and there aren't people in the restaurant, he will turn around and leave because the spook is on that plate and something happened to it. If you go to that same restaurant when they first opened an hour before the lunch rush, you can't expect anyone to be in there, but if you go at peak time and there is no one in there, that is a bad sign!

Visiting a coin shop (RW117)

In July of 2018, John was at the DMV waiting in line with his mom and his daughter and they were bored. Some DMV in Washington are run by contractors and are not actually a state operation, but somebody just throws out their shingle, they get authorized and then they are running a storefront DMV. Most of them feel like family operations that have been in business for 60 years. They still have big hand-painted signs from back then, like "No pipe smoking", strange little throwbacks to a long ago world where people were getting titles for their boat trailers.

In this particular mini mall where this DMV is, there is also an old coin collector shop and so John asked his mom to take the baby over to the coin collector shop to sit around and browse while he was waiting at the DMV. His mom gave him a look, like "Are you serious? I'm not going to go browse in a coin shop!", because she has a sense of who coin collectors are. They went anyway, but came back immediately because this place was full of old men as she had predicted, and a coin store full of old men is not where she was going to spend one second of her life.

After John finished at the DMV he wanted to go to the coin shop himself, because his little girl has never been in a coin shop and it is one of the places in the world. There were still some old men in there, but as soon as John's family came in, they broke off their conversations and scattered. Suddenly they were all gone, maybe because there was a woman in the store and they couldn't talk about coins the way they had been talking. John showed various different coins to his daughter and explained what they meant to him and why people cared about them and why they were wrapped in plastic and what all the writing meant. His little girls is game to whatever.

John realized that when he was a teenager and into collecting coins, his mom would take him to the coin shop and drop him off. She may have never been in there and she might have decided years and years ago that she wanted nothing to do with this culture, but John thinks that everybody should take their five minutes in a coin shop.

Follow-up: The tweaker burglary at Dan’s friend’s house (RW117)

Dan'd friend's central Florida home was broken into (Article 1, Article 2) by someone kicking a hole in the outside through the plaster of the wall, getting into the house, kicking a hole from there into the garage so that he could load stuff into the car which he then also stole. They did catch the guy who was not just in their house briefly, but he was living in the house for a period of days. Neighbors reported hearing very loud music coming from the house at different hours of the day and night. The guy was smoking cigarettes, eating food, watching TV, and presumably sleeping in the beds.

The violation of someone breaking into your house or your office is one thing, but the idea that he wasn't just there to take stuff, but he was there to live and spend some time in their house is much worse. That favorite cushion of the sofa where you like to sit at a night to watch your TV or read your book? He was there and that was his spot while you were gone! This guy is a real scumbag! The cop who arrested him had a body cam on him and the whole thing of him getting arrested and tasered is on video.

They were already on the lookout for this guy because he was a rapist. As a cop passed him in the store at a gas station, the officer noticed that the man was turning his face away from him and while he was in the store the officer ran the license plate and it said that this was stolen from a home invasion in Miami. He ordered the guy to get on the ground outside while another officer came over trying to get handcuffs on him, but he jumped up and started running away and they ended up tasering him twice!

He has got charges of home invasion, sexual battery, kidnapping, and rape. He is connected with a rape where two women were having a girls' night in and the man was armed with a knife, broke into their apartment, raped one, kidnapped both of them, took them to a Publix to take money out, the women escaped and he went on to go live in Dan's friend's house. When they did the report on the house invasion, the housekeeper discovered holes in the walls of the home which was disheveled, there were cigarette butts in several rooms and the family's 2013 Toyota Highlander was missing from the home's garage.

The kitchen had been used to make food and drinks, and loud music was heard coming from the home. The neighbor said it was pretty scary to think this guy was in their neighborhood and nobody knew. The worst part of it all was that someone lived across the street and didn't even know that Dan's friend and his family were out of town. If so, they would have been a little more cognizant of what was going on. John says that you have to tell your neighbors across the street when you are going to be out of town for a week. If a rapist kicks through the back door and is in there listening to loud music, it is not us! Call the cops!

The resolution of finding the culprit had cleared a lot of the bad vibe out of having John's house broken into. It was so awful to think that someone you will never know was in your space and took your things! Finding out that the person was addicted to drugs and went to jail closed the circle. In Dan's friend's situation, a bad person was living in their house, but he is in jail now and you can put a face to it and you can go clean up, throw away the sheets and start over.

The scene of him being tasered is very gratifying to watch. John had seen tasers at work before, but this taser really incapacitated him. You will see body cam photos of black kids getting shot by cops for less! It is interesting that the cop pulled out is the taser in this situation where he knew going into it that this was a wanted felon. The taser malfunctioned, he was still at a run, recalibrated his taser and shot again. Contrast that with all those situations where it is just some kid walking down the street and a cop goes "What are you looking at?" and the kid goes "Nothing!" and the cop just shoots him.

This is really a study in contrasts, because you won't see body cam videos of the 100.000 traffic stops that happened today. You don't just sit and watch them all in their mundane glory. If we reviewed them, we would see that most police work is what you would expect: It is routine. John would really like to see all the taser videos because those aren't the ones that make it up to the top of the Twitter indignation froth. In this particular video, John was rooting for the taser, because it is nice to see a criminal apprehended and thrown in the cooler.

We don't know if this throws John's whole tweaker anecdote into the bowl, but he does also seemed like a tweaker. Had he been casing out the house? John's tweaker assumption did explain why he felt comfortable enough to hang out in the house, but this went beyond that and he was full-on living there. How did he know they weren't going to come back? How are you comfortable enough to just be living there and what had happened if they had come back? Would he have killed them? If he is sleeping in the bed and somebody walks in, what happens next?

What keeps us from losing it? (RW117)

Most of the time we live in a bubble of normalcy with the expectation that other people are going to behave in ways that are dependable. Because that is true 99% of the time, it is super-hard to remain vigilant against the 1% of the time where you are dealing with somebody that is not. John saw a little GIF of the dog-whisperer Cesar Milan who has a TV show where he calms down unmanageable dogs and teaches owners how to make their dogs calm and submissive. John's sister was a big fan of this show. The video seemed to be about a mild mannered, normal looking golden retriever with a look of concern on its face, but the style of look of concern that a golden retriever might get when you had a squeaky toy that was squeaking and the dog was curious.

Cesar Milan was in his normal position crouched down with his hand out for the dog to smell and the dog was looking around, probably stressed out by the camera crew that is probably also there, and all of a sudden he turns on Cesar Milans hand and just bites it 50 times. Cesar Milan is famous for knowing what a dog is signaling. Even in the case of damaged and mentally ill dogs, there is always going to be one that even Cesar Milan is not going to know. Either it was so close to the breaking point or there was no border ground between normal and a breaking point and the dog was always at breaking point. You go through life walking down the street and at any point somebody could flip out and there is nothing keeping anybody from just killing you at any moment. With any interaction you are having with another person it is not impossible to imagine.

In the 1980s John was reading a book about a Russian fighter pilot who defected with his jet to the United States. It was the kind of thing that he loved as a teenager: The Russian defecting with the Top Secret! The pilot had no experience of America, but he was high-value as a defector. After having defected, after having delivered the jet and having been debriefed, he no longer had any additional value. The Russians knew he was in America, the Americans had gotten everything they could out of him and he was happy to volunteer it, but he couldn't go home and they had to put him up in a house, give him a job and a new identity and he was just a cost.

Maybe the jet he brought was worth enough that they were willing to give him a middle class life for the next 20 years in exchange for it, but it sounds like a pretty long tail of obligation. He wrote a book in which he recounts standing on a Highway overpass at one point, watching the Freeway traffic moving in both directions, and saying to his American handler: "Who keeps all these people from just going wherever they want?" and the American handler replied "Nothing! They could all just go and do whatever they wanted!" It was unfathomable to him that you could set all these people free like this. What if they all just wanted to not go to work tomorrow and just drive to wherever they wanted?

Coming from an authoritarian place, he couldn't know that each one individually feels super bound by their credit card debt, their mortgage, their wife's mother and all their other obligations. Just because we are lacking mass authoritarianism doesn't mean we are not all surrounded by petite authoritarians that keep us on the straight and narrow. Sometimes John has that same feeling: "What keeps everybody from losing it?" The answer is: "Nothing!" He feels that culturally there are more people on the edge of losing it right now than at any other time in his life. You keep hearing reports of people just coming unglued by some little provocation. It is not "coming unglued and shooting at a post office", but "coming unglued and shouting at people in a post office about immigration or about whatever, man!"

The guy who broke into Dan's friend's house is just a bad criminal, but it reminds John that there is a tenuous threat and it never used to feel that way. It always felt like we were bound together with the ropes of our morals and expectations, but what are the ropes we share? For them to work as social glue, one person has to bring one side of the epoxy and the other person has to bring the other side of the epoxy. If you show up with your half of the epoxy and the other person is pulling tissues out of a tissue box and throwing it at you one sheet at a time, that is not going to glue you together. It is not hurting, but it also not helping!

John's neighbors across the street (RW117)

John's neighbors across the street have broken the social bond that they had with him by buying two Pit Bulls and putting them in a cage at the far end of their property where the dogs just pee on themselves and bark 22 hours a day. For ten years these neighbors had lived 100 yards from John and maintained a friendly neighborly cordiality, even though it never extended to speaking to one another more than about ten words a year. "Hey how are you? Good! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!", but they pass each other every day and there was always a smile and a wave.

When others would complain, John would always defend his neighbors as being great and as holding everything together and everybody would be "Yeah, I guess!" There are a lot of people living in that house and they also run a car repair business out of the back of their house, which is not legal but it is also not noisy. The only thing it does is add some extra cars to the street, but in John's neighborhood there are plenty of houses with 7 cars parked out front.

As the whole city gets busier, neighborhoods close to town will gentrify, while more people will move in to neighborhoods further away from town like John's. Nothing is gentrifying really, there are no people buying an old house and fixing it up, but a new family is moving into the house while the old family didn't move out and now there are two families in the house. There are lots of houses with 7 cars out front and John's neighbor's house has 12 cars on the property, but they have a big fence and you don't hear tools during the day. It has never been a problem.

What has been a problem is that they have a lot of little girls at the house screaming in a bloodcurdling way. When John's daughter screamed when she was little, he told her that a little girl screaming is a thing that we disincentives in our family. There is no sweeter sound than a little girl laughing, but a little girl screaming at the top of her little lungs in a way that would bring migrating birds down out of the sky is a sound that we are going to try to modify into a different sound or maybe no sound.

Perhaps the little girls across the street are being raised in a in a culture where little girls are treasured such that even if they let out bloodcurdling screams all day long as a part of their play, the people in the family go "Isn't that darling?", a behavior that is true for many families and it is true of dogs, too! The screaming little girls never really bothered John that much, because although he doesn't like them bloodcurdling screaming, he does like the sound of children having fun.

For ten years they had a Northwestern style neighborly bond. The fact that they lived a hundred meters from one another and never really spoke or exchanged any pie might seem to be not very neighborly to a Southern listener, but John's neighborhood is the most diverse ZIP code in America and what that means is that a lot of his neighbors don't speak English or speak it only a little. Yet, they don't all speak the same language with one another either. They don't have a block party vibe and also: The Northwest just isn't like that, but they are a little bit standoffish in a friendly way.

As John's neighbors got these dogs, the whole castle came crashing down. They think that their property is a space station and the rest of the neighbors are just the vacuum of space. It is the kind of inconsiderateness that John can't get his head around and Dan is 1000% with him. John just doesn't understand! He was raised to always be thinking about how his behavior is impacting others in social interaction with strangers.

John has communicated with his neighbors about their dog, but they say they have a right to own a dog. Although you can not have a dog bark all night, the city of Seattle has bigger fish to fry and there is not a dedicated two-officer team driving around Seattle, citing people for barking dogs right in the middle of the night. There it an elaborate process where you have to document the source of the noise, you have to submit that to an office and wait for up to six weeks. If you haven't heard from the office by that time, you have to submit it again. It is a six month long process before you can get a police officer out there to knock on the door for some complaints about the noise. John is not somebody who was dialing 911 in the middle of the night and you don't want to be one of those people calling 911 about your neighbor's barking dog.

Now the covenant between them is broken and it is severed permanently. John does not wave or smile at them anymore. The screaming little girls have now all grown up and are in High School. Back when they were 10, it occurred to John to tell them: "That scream is indistinguishable from a scream of pain or distress. You are giggling because somebody splashed some water on you and that is your response, but you need to calibrate that sound because it is a Boy Who Cried Wolf scenario. If you were in real trouble over here screaming for help I would ignore it because I wouldn't be able to tell the difference"

It was not just bloodcurdling screaming, but they were playing with their friends going "Help! Help! Help!" because their little brother was doing something and not even as bad as squirting water on them. It is a conversation John wanted to have with them at a certain age, but then there was the problem of strange neighbor pulling the daughters aside and saying "Hey, here is a hot tip: Don't scream like that!" So now they are in High School and every once in a while one of them screams like that and John just hopes they are not in trouble, because he wouldn't know how to tell the difference. There is no way they could be in pain or distress and scream any louder or crazier than they already have.

There is no friendliness left between John and his neighbors which is a tragedy after 10 or 11 years of good neighborliness. The rope that bound them, the epoxy that John felt they had both been bringing their halves: It turned out that they didn't ever feel that way and it was just luck that they were minding their business and John was minding his. At one time they had a rooster which was rude and against the law in the city, but John let the rooster slide because they are from Mexico and roosters have some symbolic importance. Maybe they are getting eggs from the chickens, but you don't need a rooster for that. It is a thing you keep because it means something to you. It was an irritation that John got used to, but he can't get used to two barking Pit Bulls.

Dan's former neighbors (RW117)

Dan once lived across the street from a very old beat-up house, three stories tall that was falling apart and should have been condemned. It was occupied and full of people. They would play Mexican music at night time and until the very wee hours of the morning each Friday night, Saturday night, sometime even Sunday, and sometimes during the week, too! It sounded like polka music, but in Spanish, and Dan is not incredibly tolerant of that kind of thing, but it is incredibly ignorant, rude and disrespectful! He and his wife both worked, other people on the street were regular working people, many of whom had kids, and they all disliked this.

At some point somebody would inevitably wind up calling the police for noise disturbance and 3 out of 10 times they would arrest somebody, not because they had been doing something wrong then, but because there was a previous warrant out on them. It really sucked because it ruined the whole experience of living in this neighborhood for lots of people. Dan doesn't want to perpetuate stereotypes, but the guys in the house worked construction and there would be some beat up El Camino pulling up at 6:30am, honking the horn and whoever made it down to the car in the next 10 minutes of beeping would go to work construction that day.

They had construction hats and workmen boots on and in the back they had paint rollers and ladders. Imagine that this was just "Okay" for them!Dan almost would have respected it if they would have said: "Screw you, neighbors! We don't care about you! We're doing this! Middle finger!", but they were just oblivious.

Dan almost was a little bit envious because he can't do that, although he would want to sometimes, but he can't bring himself to do something when he knows that it is going to bother somebody else. Dan uses a different bathroom in the house at night so he doesn't flush the toilet right by his kids' room. He would never in a million years think of doing something like that! Even in college when he had a guitar and an amplifier, he would turn that thing down super low or he would use headphones because even back as an idiot college student he was programmed into not bothering other people.

John's apartment where his neighbors could hear everything (RW117)

John lived in an apartment one time where there were a couple of twin girls living upstairs. John and his friends were probably not noisy, but they were drunks, there were three of them living there, and they always had three other people crashing there at any given moment. The twin girl became so sensitized to the noise that when John was sitting in his bedroom at 9pm, playing plinkidy plink on a Gibson SG electric guitar that was not plugged in and the sound was barely audible across the room, they would stomp on the floor.

It was testament to how badly the building was insulated, but it was an old building that was not made out of paper and it was infuriating because she had become a jerk after John's friends had driven them to madness with the fact that it always smelled of marijuana smoke and they must have been tired of listening to Biz Markie. They had reached the end of their rope and John was really inhibited by the prospect that this girl could hear his very lightly strummed completely unamplified guitar.

It was one of the great things about about moving into a house, but John is still conscious of hopefully never intruding upon his neighbors at all. He planted bushes all around his house precisely so that people could not look in and that he could be in his yard and not be seen, but he would never take a boom box out to his yard on the warmest summer day playing Brian Adams, first of all because he wouldn't' be playing Brian Adams at all, but second because his desire to hear music in his yard does not trump his desire to not have his neighbors hear his music in their yard.

John and Dan are probably exaggerated cases and there is a comfortable place in normal human life where you can be in your yard with a boom box listening to your music and your neighbors can hear it and everybody is fine, because your next door neighbor either like the same music or they are playing their own music some other time. In most cases like that, the person playing the music will say "It is not illegal to play music" with the justification that they have a right to play music on their property. This is their mentality rather than "Well okay, you have a right to, but is that really how you are living? You are asserting your legal right to play your music even if it irritates your neighbor?" Even if you don't like your neighbor, why would you be happy or even comfortable causing them distress?

Dan's neighbor with their barking dog (RW117)

Dan has never owned a dog and will never own a dog as long as he lives, nor will anyone who lives with him. At the end of the day dogs make noise and unless Dan is on 50 acres (200.000 sqm) and the people who live near me him also have 50 acres and their houses are at the center of those 50 acres (meaning the houses are 450m apart), he will never have any kind of animal that could displace somebody else's enjoyment of their life. Dogs always do this! Even the best, most well-behaved dogs still periodically bark and crap on your neighbor's lawn, unless you get one of those weird barkless dogs, which would be better.

Generally speaking, dog owners are not Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer, but they are people who say "Oh yeah, I think it was the dog barking. Better go check and see if it needs to come in.", but: "No!" The dog should never ever be outside of your house unattended, unless you have 50 acres and your neighbors also have 50 acres. That is where Dan would draw the line on that, or maybe if you have a sheep dog that needs to be outside and actually do work.

People say: "Wouldn't it be fun? I love dogs! Let's get a dog! The kids would love to, and it will protect the house!", but what happens is that the dog is outside in the backyard barking all day. The dog needs activity, it doesn't want to be cooped up in the house all day, it needs fresh air, it is an animal, so they let it out. It barks a little loud, but that is what dogs do!

Dan had a neighbor who would let their dog out around 6:30am, it would start barking and it was in a state of very high anxiety all the time because it was not clear to the dog that anyone else ran the family except the dog. The dog had to take leadership in the family because the mom who lived there would never think of disciplining her baby and the husband wanted nothing to do with the dog and had no interaction with it whatsoever except of being angry at his wife.

The dog would begin barking at 6:30am, it would bark any time that Dan's family dared to go outside of their own home or if a car drove by and it would bark continuously on and off throughout the day. Some dogs bark in a way where you feel like they are guarding something, or they are warning you not to come by, but this dog was in a state of high anxiety at all times and its bark was sort of pinched like a golden lab type dog. To Dan that is a horrible, very anxious kind of noise and he hated it!

Eventually Dan got fed up and talked to the guy about it, but the guy said it was his wife's dog and there was not much he could do. Could you just not leave it tied up on a rope all day long every day? They never wanted to change it because that would involve doing some work. If the kids loved the dog so much, why don't they spend time with it in the house? They were never outside! Eventually the thing got off its leash and was struck by a car. Dan is sorry that it got hurt and he was thinking the accident was maybe going to quiet it down, but it came back to its full self! It was back, it was fully healed and lived out the rest of its life there!

It is not like they didn't know it bothered Dan as a whole family. Dan was very polite about it, but he told them that this is really a problem because it wakes the whole family up in the morning when they let it out because it is standing right outside their bedroom window. They knew it was a problem, but they just continued to do nothing about it. If they don't know that it is bothering you, they are just being irresponsible ignorant fools, but to know that it bothers you and to keep doing it, that is the part that Dan can't wrap his head around.

The way of our current civilization (RW117)

Hopefully all the work John and Dan have done in the podcasting realm has at least gotten inside the heads of some young people who one day will teach their children to keep moving and get out of the way, to not bother their neighbors, to be polite and tip their hat when they come across somebody walking through the countryside, and to pull right when they are driving. All these things are based on the assumption that this is how you live in civilization.

One of the amazing things about walking through the Netherlands was that the Dutch have a very complicated and fairly strict sense of community standards. They are renowned for being a permissive or freewheeling society in regards to prostitution and drugs and so forth, but that does not actually reflect the Dutch inner life. The Dutch are permissive because they believe it is logical to be permissive, but they do not live like "Do what you want" at all. They adhere to standards and codes and expectations of how to behave.

In the front window of a Dutch house there are lace curtains that allow you to see a bit into the house. You never walk past a Dutch house and see the lights all on and mom and the kids are working at the kitchen table, but you look in and it is framed in lace. On the front window windowsill there are little delft figures of windmills and little people, a little selection of little cute things. It communicates that their house is open, light and airy and they have nothing at all to hide, so keep moving, there is nothing to see. It is extremely effective and you don't have any desire to peek in because you know what you are going to see, some little delft windmills.

Because the Netherlands are a small country that was a fairly homogenous culture until recently, you still have these strange community standards that you would never notice unless you were looking for them. This had to have been true in the United States of the mid 20th century as well. In some little town in Iowa, everybody was practicing a community standard, whatever those were. Seattle very definitely had community standards!

Seattle had blue laws that meant you couldn't buy alcohol on Sundays or after 5:00 pm. Bars that didn't have a restaurant connected to it could only be a tavern. There were all kinds of rules around consuming alcohol and food that made Washington sort of a Nanny State. A lot of those laws were in effect until very recently and all the liquor stores were state-run until just a few years ago.

Costco spent millions of dollars to get the right to sell alcohol and somebody did a cost analysis of it and realized that even if Costco sold all of the liquor they would never make back the money that they had spent lobbying the state to overturn that ban, but it was just symbolic for them. Now you can get booze other places and we can thank Costco for that!

Nobody thought they would look toward the future and see that our desire to be free and unencumbered has led us to a place where we interpret that to mean that we no longer have obligations to our friends and neighbors, and that we no longer need to behave in a way that doesn't intrude on them. It is the classic American 21st century story: "Nothing can intrude upon my freedom! I have a right to do these things! My freedom is sacrosanct and if my freedom bothers you, that is your problem!"

Was this our ambition? Was this our goal this whole time? This is what we were building all these years? A situation where you just get to act like an animal? That is what freedom means? John has gone on the record feeling the same way about casual Fridays, because in a way they were the beginning of the end. He gets a lot of angry letters from people who say that their elastic waistband makes their workday a lot easier. Fuck you and your elastic waistband! They have a right to take their sandals off on an airplane because they need to air out their wet feet. Fuck you!

There are many places in the world right now where you can connect our macro scale problems to these micro scale problems. It is almost comical for John to say that the day that you could wear flip-flops on an airplane was the beginning of the end of civilization, but it is not unrelated! Why would it even occur to someone that that is an option? Whatever it is that leads a person to think that that is okay, it would never in a million years occur to Dan to just wear flip-flops anywhere.

John has flip-flop-wearers in his own family and it is a source of a lot of intra-familial strife. John keeps finding flip-flops and keeps throwing them in the garbage. Then members of his family will be asking for their flip-flops, but John is "Beats me! Maybe in the garbage?" and they tell him to stop throwing their flip flops away and John will tell them to stop wearing flip-flops. They are not appropriate foot wear for anyone unless you are literally walking from the locker room into the shower or around the pool.

Dan says that if you can touch a body of water, you can wear flip-flops, like a pool, a very large pond, or an ocean. In a public bath you would wear them for sanitary purposes, because being barefoot would be acceptable, but it would be disgusting. As soon as you are dried off, those are off of your feet and into your locker or bag and that's it! There is no wearing them out of the building, there is no wearing them home, and there is definitely no wearing them to the office or the airport!

Of course John is against wearing socks together with sandals, because he is a person with any standards, but he would rather wear socks and sandals than just bare feet and sandals. Dan has a pair of sandals and he has worn them as a test on a day when he was going to be outside all of the day and not going any places. That was pushing his luck on sandals and what he would do with sandals, but Dan would never wear sandals to an office! He would never fly with just sandals on!

There is this whole culture now of young people dressing up fancy like people used to dress. It is the Mad Men phenomenon that has passed beyond Mad Men: Fancy dresses and young men in suits. John supports it, even though it is cosplay, because it reflects a desire to recognize and respect the act of appearing in public. Going to work isn't just seen as a drag or a completely valueless obligation that only brings you money. Instead, you are headed out the door, you are meeting other people, you are going to see a bunch of people today in your path from here to there, you are going to be out at lunchtime interacting with people. The whole thing is an opportunity for you and you will be on stage the entire time, whether you like it or not. Respect that and acknowledge it!

Lots of people are not interested in fashion, but just wearing a black T-shirt every day solves that problem. Even that is a recognition that there is a problem to solve and if your uniform is Black T-shirt: Right on! You are at least trying to navigate it! But don't walk out of the house and be so self-centered as to feel that the world is you and you are carrying the world onto oneself and everyone else is in their little bubble and their bubble doesn't touch yours. It is basically "If you don't talk to somebody then they can't see you", like a little infant's impermanence syndrome and the fact is: That is not true!

You don't have to talk to somebody, but they will still see you! As soon as you leave the house, you are interacting with people whether you want to or not. There is a lot to be said for understanding how important it is to give proper respect, because interacting with other people is a thing worthy of respect. Even if you only pay it a nominal amount of respect, as long as you acknowledge that it exists you are on your way. As soon as you stop splashing mud on other people's pants, you have joined civilization a little bit more than you were as a child.

Dressing up for work is is the logical extension of that. We have made a lot of progress from a time when clothes were restrictive to the point that women couldn't work or the quality of the beaver that went into making your top hat determined whether or not you would get into the loge section at the opera. If you feel like eliminating those things has made the world more equal and accessible, John can hear that theory. He respects it and responds to it, but he does not extend that theory to a place where we do not maintain a feeling of obligation to one another to put a bow on it, to walk out of the house and feel at the minimum that other people have to look at you and at a maximum they have to smell you and touch you and walk past your desk 50 times today.

Do you have empathy enough for other people to make yourself seem professional and to carry yourself as though you are in a shared space? That is what it boils down to: Unless you are in your own basement with the doors locked and the windows down, you are in a shared space! If you are in your backyard with your stereo playing, it is a shared space because the air above your fence is communicating that sound! We share the space and we have commitments to one another. We are draining out the bottom of the pool we are living in, and John doesn't know what is going to remain when it is gone.

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