Posted by: johnhourihan | March 27, 2012

Pinsetting and the Warming Earth

This was, in part, first posted in March , but I thought it might be of interest now.

With a presidential candidate making jokes about global warming as if the warming earth is just so much bull fodder, and with a multitude of people laughing along with this small-minded fool at a Republican convention, I have to ask where they think they will go when the storms get so bad, and the floods get so deep, and the tornadoes so strong that there is no place on the continent to hide?

Eighty degree days in March in New England are wonderful, aren’t they? I don’t think so. Not really. (photo by John Hourihan)

Global warming worries me.

Not just that it is happening, but that so many are doing relatively little about it. And, as if in the exposition of some B-rate Scifi movie, our leaders laugh at those who are.
The addiction to energy is making our planet uninhabitable, and we find rational reasons why we stagnate in the face of the life-altering changes we are causing.
It reminds me of the cigarette game and avoidance-avoidance conflicts.
I was pretty good at the cigarette game.
No I wasn’t. I’m lying.
My sister Patty says it was because I had a brain, and something about this avoidance-avoidance conflict thing.
When I was about 16, I got a job at a bowling alley.
OK, now don’t laugh. I was a pinsetter.
It was before the machines.
Harry got me the job, but he didn’t tell me the rest of the pinsetters were like cartoons. Not like people at all, and, of course, this is where I learned to play the cigarette game.
Just a few days spent with Harry, Big Iggy, Dave Sneed, and Hump, and I was
having visions of Pinocchio at the carnival trying his best to be a real boy amidst the attractive distractions.
Big Iggy was, well, BIG. At 16 years old, he was a full 6-4 with a black Fred Flintstone mop, weighed at least twice as much as I did and sported half the IQ of a mollusk.
Harry was skinny, my size, with a face twisted by a hard birth, tiny green eyes, sparse blond hair like a chicken, and a crooked laugh.
At 17, Dave was a small bald boy with a big head full of bruises and bumps, a phrenologist’s dream.
And Hump was an over-dressed, slicked and oiled black DA hairdo, collar up, camels in the sleeve, bonafide 1950’s JD with a gold tooth.
We were paid 10 cents a string to climb up on a perch between two alleys wait for the ball to go rumbling through and scatter the pins.
Then we’d jump down and pull out the dead wood or reset the pins.
Candlepins were the worst because the pins spun through the air and hit you a lot.
Sneed wore a football helmet to protect his head.
It didn’t work.
On Fridays, the pin boys would put up a few bucks of their pay, and three strings later someone took all the money.
The first time I won, Hump told me about the cigarette game.
We each stood at the end of our alley, faced off, extended our right arms and placed them firmly on the pit perch so my fist was beside his elbow and vice versa.
Iggy lit a Tareyton and wedged it, filter first, between our arms about half-way up.
Whoever moved first would lose.
It would continue until there was a winner or the cigarette went out.
At first it was easy. You could feel the warmth and still act cool. We stared into each other’s eyes, doing our best James Dean.
I noticed there was nothing behind Hump’s eyes at all. There was no sense of a single synapse, just vacant space.
Slowly we started feeling the heat, but no one moved. Sort of like when we first noticed the ozone hole.
It got a little worse and we started to sweat.
Then it began hurting.
A few seconds longer and you could smell the hair on your arm burning. Then came the smell of burning flesh.
But still we remained stock-still.
This is the avoidance-avoidance conflict. It was a bad thing if you moved. You wanted to avoid people laughing at you and the loss of 12 bucks. But if you didn’t move, your skin started melting and blistering, and you wanted to avoid this too.
Avoidance-avoidance. It sometimes makes you do absolutely nothing.
I’m pretty sure that is why we don’t do anything about destroying our climate and leaving an uninhabitable planet for our children.
It would hurt to buy a new hybrid, stop using so much electricity, stop using so much gasoline, and to do what we have to do to stop the destruction of our planet.
But of course the alternative is face the hurricanes, tornadoes, arctic melt, rising sea levels, scorched earth and it has the same effect of the cigarette game: We do nothing.
I remember pulling away when the sting turned to fire shooting up my arm.
I stared into Hump’s face and shouted something I would now like to reiterate for those who feel climate change isn’t a big problem.
I pulled my arm away and shouted, “What the hell is wrong with you?
Are you insane? This isn’t a game. This is stupidity. Why would you do this to yourself for a few bucks?”

No matter how rich we become, no matter how much money we make, we can’t buy a new planet.

And Mitt Romney thinks it’s funny.



  1. Reblogged this on johnhourihan.

  2. John,
    when the floods come I’m going to Mitt’s house… I understand he has an elevator that will handle all of us.

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