The “Uncommon” Common Icelandic Skink*

common icelandic skink


I was driving up the Eyrarbakkavegur to my regular chess therapy appointment at the Bobby Fischer Center in Olfuss, Iceland, when I came across one of these little guys in a hard hat and high-visibility safety vest holding an orange safety flag.

Being from the New York metro area, I was initially annoyed at the delay, but upon closer look I noticed that this “flag-skink” was supporting the annual skink migration from their traditional winter home in Reykjavík, to their summer feeding grounds near Flúðir.

The 100+ km distance is a short 1-2 hour drive by car, but for the Common Icelandic Skink this can be a grueling 1-2 week long trek across many busy (for Iceland) roads and several broad and frigid rivers. Fraught with danger from a variety of sources, both native to the Island nation and of the foreign variety.

Native dangers include hungry puffins, Atlantic salmon, and Supply Chain Management consultants. The latter have become increasingly agitated in their opposition to the Common Icelandic Skink due to the tax breaks the government has given them in the important national transport and logistics market. (There have even been some formal protests and angry language bandied about against what is being viewed by some as cronyism.)

Non-Icelandic dangers, while normally limited to drunken frivolities at the local hot springs followed by a visit to McDonald’s, have been fraying the edges of the social fabric of the skink population. This is because petroleum companies have been paying high wages to have young skinks work for them on the oil rigs in the North Sea, upsetting the delicate ecological balance and traditional family values of the Common Skink.

So this is why, upon reflection, I was so impressed by the skink on the road to Olfuss. He was one of the teenage skinks the foreign oil companies were so avidly recruiting. With the typical aqua blue tail and yellow and black stripes of a young male skink in his prime, here he was volunteering to warn drivers of the migrating herds of skinks! This wasn’t just admirable, it was becoming more and more uncommon. And so, I salute you, and others like you!

The uncommon Common Icelandic Skink.

* not “Spink”

Aikido, Gestalt, and Valentine’s Day

Warning: The following post uses gender-specific concepts like him and her. As a nod to those who may be offended by the premise that there are males and females the author has used italics to support their fragile psyches.


As we approach that festive time of year when the emotional expectations of one half of the population zooms past the perceptual limits of the other half’s reality (which on a good day is bucking for Energy Star™ certification) we have to ask ourselves, “Self, what is my role in this turgid universe of emotion? How do I both adjust my expectations (on one side of this binary equation) and exceed them (on the other side)?” (This assumes you have a binary identity and that binary identity understands how to parse the question in a way that supports a unified answer.) This is why we need to approach the festivities with a Gestalt approach to reality. That the duality is actually a unity and any expectation of “delivering the goods” on this upcoming St. Valentine’s Day is, frankly, a clue to go get some professional help.

For those of you few who are still with me, let me first address those whose effulgent expectations might need sunglasses.

  1. Regardless of his age he is still learning that there is more than one person in the room.
  2. Regardless of how long you’ve been together, he needs to be reminded of the previous point (above) upon waking. (Note: Coffee and a hot shower helps him grok the gestalt of duality faster but if you give him too much time you risk his being lost to the demons of the “to do” list. Practically speaking this gives you a window of about 12 seconds before the full effects of the caffeine and the body wash have restored his sense of singularity. Ideally, you’re there to hand him the towel, while pulling the coffee cup out of his reach.)
  3. If you’ve achieved Satori you’ve realized that a sudden acceleration or deceleration in decibel levels does not support the achievement of Satori in him.
  4. As in Aikido, you must find a way to unify the forces between you and him and “become” one. (See also: Aikido.)
  5. You must have the mental and emotional fluidity to find the “lever” that will help him “see” that there is more than one person in the relationship and that it is to his benefit if he is standing anywhere near a heavy blunt object, thus creating an emotional “win/win” situation.

Now let us swivel and address those who have learned to don the polarized sunglasses of detachment and live in the fun house of mirrors called, the Fortress of Solitude. (Don’t worry, I’ll use short words, dude.)

  1. That blinding light and clanging gong in front of you is another person. They do exist; and no, they are not tools. Nor are they the enemy.
  2. Applying a little Noise Canceling to the ego may help you just make out, “Do you even hear what I am saying?” coming from that other person (stay with me) standing in front of you. (Again; they are not the enemy.) This is the first step toward “sublimation.” (See #5 below.)
  3. Just because you’ve acknowledged her existence in the past doesn’t mean (focus on my voice) you’ve achieved the philosophical goal posts of a “quantum of unity” with her. (Note: As cool as it sounds, quantum is not a word you want to use in relation to her. The chase for the sub-atomic is not a concept that applies to the duality of relationships and is used here only in a negative sense and should not, by any means, be thrown out in the heat of an argument.)
  4. If you’re one of the few, the proud, the sensitive you’ve begun to realize that making two cups of coffee in the morning is better than one, and building a shower big enough for you and her might help this process of integration along. (This is both practical and metaphorical.)
  5. Freud said that sublimation is a sign of maturity and civility. Paul wrote, “husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” (Ephesians 5:28,29) It’s hard to argue with both Freud and the Apostle Paul, so don’t even bother and just go buy the flowers and chocolates.

In the immortal words of Stan Lee, “’nuff said!’


danke schoenToday is Friday, 11 January, 2019. And what boggles my over-saturated 21st Century imagination is why no one has made a sequel to 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Frankly, the time is riper than a squishy avocado to revisit these saucy characters that encouraged us with their revelry and youthful mayhem, and to have a glimpse into their older (and perhaps wiser) selves. Then we can finally stop the endless speculation about whether Jeanie and Garth ever got married. Or if Principal Rooney ever overcame his rage issues.

C’mon Viacom, give the fans of this classic John Hughes teen comedy a shot of cinematic Viagra, and bring back the ol’ gang. If not now, when?