Monday, August 23, 2010

What is Random?

This is my first post. I thank my longtime friend Pam Hermanson Camel for challenging me to write about my obsession with randomness. I start by answering the question, what is random? First there is the dictionary definition (meaning: proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern) and there is my definition. My definition of random are those things that happen to us that either break our concentration during a serious or solemn occasion, (think someone coughing during a test, or if you are into lowbrow humor someone in church passing gas) or events or things however small that somehow impact you or someone else when the reasons given are based on ideal visions of the event. Now the second part of the definition needs some examples and I provide two dissimilar events from history.

November 9, 1620 the Pilgrims (actually they didn't call themselves that but that is another story) running low on beer go ashore on what is now Plymouth Bay leading to the establishment of a colony and eventually the basis for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

January 29, 1979 Brenda Ann Spencer opens fire on a San Diego elementary school killing two people and wounding several others. Her rationale as told to police was that she didn't like Mondays.

Two unrelated events, but caused by something really insignificant. The Pilgrims and their beer emergency led to the establishment of a colony and New England, and became the basis of America’s unique holiday Thanksgiving. The other event, a murder by a 16 year old girl based on her dislike of Mondays, (Yes, I know there was probably something more to it, but really sometimes you have to accept a person’s reason at face value, and a dislike for Monday fits the definition of a random reason.) foreshadowed something more sinister growing in our culture that sadly has become to be seen as normal.

Contrary to popular belief, history is riddled with examples of random ideas, events and things that have caused larger things or events to change our world. To ignore randomness comforts us, because people like to think big things shape us and not little things. Big is often seen as better. Many like to think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted with others; it bothers us that one man with a random grudge could change the world.

Many people hate randomness and the small things, but I love it. I like to have fun with it. I loved TV shows that based their premise on well off white people taking in orphan black kids to raise as their own. Okay, one orphan show had a struggling photographer raising a girl but you get the idea. These things mattered to me, and for others it might be reality TV, music, the Internet or anything but lets not pretend that we were affected in some way.  Accept it. 

 I loved the small and random things of my childhood that truly shaped me. It wasn’t my folk’s actions that defined me but rather their lack of actions. Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job in providing for me and my siblings, but my folks were drama free. No abuse, no drinking problems, or other strangeness, rather they loved us, cared for us, protected us and did a great job. They were boring and I love them for that and again thanks Mom and Dad.  I owe you tens of thousands for the food you bought for me.  Let me get rich quick and I promise to make a payment.  Someday.  Oh, let me get back to my topic.

What filled the gap were events from my youth, which I will explore in future posts, where such things as visits to other peoples home.  When my folks visited their peers for whatever reason I often I was expected to behave, fair enough, but also play with the other children.  Yet, I often was scared out of my mind because how do I put this, I found most of them disgusting. I don’t care how young you are, your bedroom shouldn’t smell like urine, sweat and other fluids ever.  What the hell where these kids parents doing.  Okay, rant over and more details in future random posts but still.  Other traumas were as a kid being invited to birthday parties and being disappointed because the kid’s parents thought carrot cake would satisfy a child’s sweet tooth. Another defining event was my next door neighbors who entertained me and my family with cops, open infidelity and other poor behavior.  I could go on, and will in due time.  Lets just say, your environment does matter. 

Other random loves of mine are current events. I love reading and watching current events, but not for the reasons we see or think about. An example is a little noticed story on the Taliban and what people see from the drones and find on Taliban abandoned laptops. I will explore this topic in a later post but from the words of one military official describing the Taliban most are absolute perverts.  Who knew that a group of people who pride themselves on piety and oppression of women would have some interesting personal and Internet viewing habits. 

It’s my love of sensational news events, horrible TV show ideas, pop culture, the cultural ramifications of the 1983 US Festival, Different Strokes, the Cosby Show, Facts of Life, wedding dance songs, and details that are really minor and other things that lead me to study, discuss and hopefully educate everyone on random things and have fun while doing it. However here is what will not be discussed in this blog. Really, you can’t avoid these topics completely but they will be downplayed to a great extent.

The biggest taboo will be Politics. This blog will be for the most part a politics free zone. If a politician is ever discussed it will be in the context of their actions and small or random detail. A made up example will be that politician with a rich background buying food at a McDonald's and only ordering a salad and not fries. I love it when such people who are more accustom to eating sushi decide to try greasy ribs, cheesesteaks or fried Oreos. Entertainment with a capital E.   Will a sex scandal be discussed?  Depends on what it is, how kinky and if the person is interesting at all.  If it involves Guatemalan poolboys then the answer will probably be yes. 

This blog will refrain from overtly personal attacks. I hate it when a writer or a TV personality calls a particular person stupid or questions their intelligence. It speaks to the inability of the writer to articulate a reason for their dislike and shows that the attacker is the one who lacks intelligence. If I don't like a person or think I will tell you why and in detail. You the reader are free to disagree with the reason or reasons, but at least I gave you one. However, if I do make a comment I will try to be humorous, civil or at least short. Lets try one.  OJ Simpson got away with murder and is a horrible person.  Did it work?  You decide. 

Finally, this blog is designed to be fun and get you thinking. I hate sites that seem to take themselves so seriously that they forget that the goal of any writing is to engage the reader and keep them coming back. No one wants to be scolded, to be lectured (unless you like that thing) be insulted, or bored. You want some entertainment. Hopefully I will do that for you.

I love a good story, a good insight, humor and insanity. So you will find stories about Scientology (one of my favorite topics), America, and discussions on politically incorrect subjects like the joys of smoking and drinking. Name one article in the press that has discussed drinking or smoking in a positive light. Yes, it’s unhealthy, but some people enjoy it. Why not talk about it. Why not talk about how stupid the stranger danger thing was in the 1980s. Or as I like to point out, some kids did get kidnapped, but I didn’t and odds are you didn’t either so I guess it really wasn’t as big as deal as you thought. Look I don’t know anything. I really don’t. I am still learning, living and enjoying life. I hope that as we move along that we all have fun, get our juices flowing. Oh, if I don’t anger someone during this process I will know that I have failed. I don’t want to be loved or seen as a messenger. That’s what egotistical people say when they are insecure.  As Groucho Marx said, "I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member."  I want to be just a facilitator in a journey of our experience. In short, I want you to come back. How random of me.


  1. Hey Vic--Congratulations on the exciting new blog!
    "Luck" is nature's explanation for the randomness of the universe."
    Look forward to more blogs.

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  3. Hey,
    When you start your Random American Life podcast I want to be on the show!