Monday, April 6th, 2020

From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 4:50 am:

There were 1,280,046 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 69,789 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 337,646 confirmed cases, twenty-six percent of the world’s total and 25,401 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 9,648 deaths from COVID-19, fourteen percent of the world’s total and 1,145 more than this time yesterday.

3,048 U.S. deaths – thirty-two percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 2,320 confirmed cases, 192 more than this time yesterday, and 75 deaths, 15 more than this time yesterday.

39 deaths – fifty-two percent of Wisconsin’s total, and ten more than this time yesterday – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 1,190 confirmed cases, fifty-two percent of all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

In Dane County, there were 280 confirmed cases, 11 more than this time yesterday, and a total of 9 deaths, 1 more than this time yesterday.

jhu update 10 | 6:14 am CDT
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Sunday, April 5th, 2020

Trump, selling a new kind of snake oil at tonight’s press briefing:

The other thing that we bought a tremendous amount of is the hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, which I think, as you know, it’s a great malaria drug; it’s worked unbelievably; it’s a powerful drug on malaria and there are signs that it works on this, some very strong signs; and in the meantime, it’s been around a long time; it also works very powerfully on lupus, lupus, so there are some very strong, powerful signs; we’ll have to see because again it’s being tested; now, this is a new thing that just happened to us, the invisible enemy, we call it, and if you can, if you have a, uh, no sign of heart problems, the azithromycin, azithromycin, which will kill certain things that you don’t want living within your body, it’s a powerful drug if you don’t have a problem, a heart problem we would say; let your doctor think about it but, as a combination I think they’re going to be, I think they’re two things that should be looked at very strongly; now, we have purchased, and we have stockpiled, 29 million pills of the hydroxychloroquine, 29 million; a lot of drug stores have them by prescription and, also, and, they’re not expensive; also, we’re sending them to various labs, our military, we’re sending them to the hospitals, we’re sending them all over; I just think it’s something, you know the expression, I’ve used it for certain reasons: “What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose?” and a lot of people are saying that, when, and, are taking it; if you’re a doctor, a nurse, a first responder, a medical person going into hospitals, they say taking it before the fact is good but, what do you have to lose? They say, take it. I’m not looking at it one way or the other, but we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early, but we have some very good signs, so that’s hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin; and, again, you have to go through your medical people, get the approval, but I’ve seen things that I sort of like, so, what do I know, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doctor but I have common sense; the FDA feels good about it; as you know, they’ve approved it, they gave it a rapid approval, and, the reason, because it’s been out there for a long time and they know the side effects and they also know the potential; so, based on that, we have sent it throughout the country and we have it stockpiled, about 29 million doses, 29 million doses; we have a lot of it; we hope it works

Although he’s barely intelligible at the best of times, that could only have been an advertisement.

more snake oil | 9:12 pm CDT
Category: current events, Life & Death, yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Trump, selling snake oil at yesterday’s press briefing:

Last Saturday the FDA also gave emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and, the hydroxychloroquine is a, I hope it’s going to be a very important answer; we’re having some very good things happening with it, and we’re going to be distributing it through the strategic national stockpile; it’s going into the strategic national stockpile to treat certain patients, and we have millions and millions of doses of it, 29 million, to be exact; in addition to that, we’re making it, and we’re also getting it from various other locations and countries and, in one case, I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning; they make large amounts of hydroxychloroquine, very large amounts, frankly, and I said, they had a hold because, you know, they have 1.5 billion people, and they think a lot of it, and I said I’d appreciate if they would release the amounts that we ordered, and they are giving it serious consideration; but they do make, India makes a lot of it; but we have already 29 million, if you look, and that’s a big number, 29 million doses, we’ve got millions of doses that are being made here and many millions of doses that are made elsewhere that are being shipped here, and it will be arriving; we’re just hearing really positive stories and, we’re continuing to collect the data but, I’ll just speak for myself, it’s been out for a long time; it’s a malaria drug; it’s also a drug for lupus and there’s a, there’s a study out that people with lupus aren’t catching this horrible virus, they’re not affected so much by it; now, maybe that’s correct, maybe it’s false; you’re going to have to check it out, but there’s a lot of very positive things happening with that; that’s a game-changer, if that’s the case

Even if this didn’t make him sound as if he and everyone he knows has bought up all the stock in companies that manufacture hydroxychloroquine (and it really does sound like that), how is it at all ethical for the president of the United States to go on television and repeat an unfounded rumor that people with the autoimmune disease lupus aren’t affected by COVID-19 because they’re prescribed hydroxychloroquine? He’s been selling this snake oil since mid-May, and now it’s going into the national stockpile? If this doesn’t turn into the biggest insider trading scandal of all time, I’ll eat my boots.

snake oil | 12:06 pm CDT
Category: current events, Life & Death, yet another rant | Tags: ,
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From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 6:26 am:

There were 1,216,422 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 65,711 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 312,245 confirmed cases, twenty-six percent of the world’s total and 33,787 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 8,503 deaths from COVID-19, thirteen percent of the world’s total and 1,344 more than this time yesterday.

2,624 U.S. deaths – thirty-one percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 2,128 confirmed cases, 116 more than this time yesterday, and 60 deaths, 9 more than this time yesterday.

29 deaths – fifty percent of Wisconsin’s total, and 5 more than this time yesterday – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 1,069 confirmed cases, over half of all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

In Dane County, there were 269 confirmed cases, 17 more than this time yesterday, and a total of 8 deaths, 3 more than this time yesterday.

jhu update 9 | 7:16 am CDT
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Saturday, April 4th, 2020

From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 5:52 am:

There were 1,131,713 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 59,884 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 278,458 confirmed cases, twenty-five percent of the world’s total and 32,885 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 7,159 deaths from COVID-19, twelve percent of the world’s total and 1,101 more than this time yesterday.

1,867 U.S. deaths – twenty-six percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 2,012 confirmed cases, 264 more than this time yesterday, and 51 deaths, 13 more than this time yesterday.

24 deaths – forty-seven percent of Wisconsin’s total, and 8 more than this time yesterday – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 1,023 confirmed cases, over half of all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

In Dane County, there were 252 confirmed cases, 14 more than this time yesterday, and a total of 5 deaths, 2 more than this time yesterday.

The April primary election will be held on the 7th because the GOP-controlled legislature blocked the governor from issuing absentee ballots to every eligible Wisconsin citizen and extend the deadline to return them so voters would be able to vote by mail.

Poll workers in more than 1,000 municipalities, the majority of whom are senior citizens, have refused to expose themselves to potential exposure to the coronavirus, prompting the governor to call out the national guard to administer the election.

jhu update 8 | 7:00 am CDT
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Friday, April 3rd, 2020

From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 5:02 am:

There were 1,026,974 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 53,975 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 245,573 confirmed cases, twenty-four percent of the world’s total and 28,851 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 6,058 deaths from COVID-19, more than eleven percent of the world’s total and 921 more than this time yesterday.

1,562 U.S. deaths – twenty-six percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 1,748 confirmed cases and 38 deaths.

16 deaths – forty-two percent of the Wisconsin total, and 4 more than this time yesterday – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 869 confirmed cases, about half all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

In Dane County, there were 238 confirmed cases and a total of 3 deaths.

jhu update 7 | 5:42 am CDT
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Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 5:21 pm:

There were 1,011,490 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 52,863 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 242,182 confirmed cases, more than one-quarter of the world’s total and 28,810 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 5,850 deaths from COVID-19, about eleven percent of the world’s total and 1,093 more than this time yesterday.

1,397 U.S. deaths – twenty-four percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 1,743 confirmed cases and 38 deaths. 16 deaths – almost half – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 869 confirmed cases, about half all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

The southeast region of the state remains the hardest hit, with 1,184 cases and 23 deaths: Waukesha County has 120 cases, 1 death; Kenosha County has 67 cases; Ozaukee County has 47 cases and 5 deaths; Washington County has 46 cases and 1 death; and Racine County has 35 cases.

In Dane County, there were 238 confirmed cases and a total of 3 deaths.

jhu update 6 | 6:13 pm CDT
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From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 4:21 am:

There were 941,949 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 47,522 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 216,722 confirmed cases, almost one-quarter of the world’s total and 27,089 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 5,137 deaths from COVID-19, about eleven percent of the world’s total and 1,056 more than this time yesterday.

1,374 U.S. deaths – twenty-seven percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 1,573 confirmed cases and 28 deaths. 12 deaths – almost half – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 780 confirmed cases, still about half all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

In Dane County, there were 232 confirmed cases and a total of 3 deaths.

jhu update 5 | 5:30 am CDT
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Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 5:05 pm:

There were 932,605 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 46,809 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 213,372 confirmed cases, almost one-quarter of the world’s total and 29,189 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 4,757 deaths from COVID-19, about ten percent of the world’s total and 947 more than this time yesterday.

1,139 U.S. deaths – twenty-four percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 1,556 confirmed cases and 27 deaths. 12 deaths – almost half – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 780 confirmed cases, still more than half all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

The southeast region of the state remains the hardest hit, with 1,059 cases and 19 deaths: Waukesha County has 107 cases, 1 death; Kenosha County has 54 cases; Ozaukee County has 46 cases and 5 deaths; Washington County has 44 cases and 1 death; and Racine County has 28 cases.

In Dane County, there were 215 confirmed cases and a total of 2 deaths.

jhu update 4 | 5:57 pm CDT
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From the Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 5:14 am:

There were 873,767 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 43,288 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 189,633 confirmed cases, almost one-quarter of the world’s total and 25,223 more than this time yesterday. The U.S. accounted for 4,081 deaths from COVID-19, about nine percent of the world’s total, and 911 more than this time yesterday.

1,096 U.S. deaths – twenty-seven percent of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 1,412 confirmed cases and 25 deaths. 11 deaths – almost half – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 710 confirmed cases, more than half all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

There were 214 confirmed cases in Dane County and a total of 2 deaths.

jhu update 3 | 6:07 am CDT
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Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

It’s twelve hours since the last time I checked the Johns Hopkins live map; let’s see how the world’s doing. (This info comes from the update at 5:05 this afternoon.)

There were 855,007 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 41,654 deaths.

In the U.S. there were 184,183 confirmed cases, almost one-quarter of the world’s total. The U.S. accounted for 3,810 deaths from COVID-19, about nine percent of the world’s total. 932 U.S. deaths – almost one-quarter of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 1,412 confirmed cases and 24 deaths. 11 deaths – almost half – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 710 confirmed cases – more than half all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

There were 214 confirmed cases in Dane County and a total of 2 deaths.

12 hrs later | 5:40 pm CDT
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Asked whether Americans should be prepared for 100,000 people in the U.S. to die from COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said point-blank, “The answer is yes.”

“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it. Is it going to be that much? I hope not. I think the more we push on the mitigation, the less likelihood it would be that number. But, as being realistic, we need to prepare ourselves that that is a possibility that that’s what we will see.”

the answer is yes | 6:43 am CDT
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Missed yesterday’s covid-19 update. Oops.

The Johns Hopkins live map, updated at 5:30 this morning, indicated there were 800,049 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world and 38,714 deaths.

At the same time in the U.S. there were 164,410 confirmed cases, almost one-quarter of the world’s total. The U.S. accounted for 3,170 deaths from COVID-19, about eight percent of the world’s total. 914 of U.S. deaths – almost one-third of the U.S. total – were in New York city.

In Wisconsin there were 1,285 confirmed cases and 24 deaths. 10 deaths – almost half – were in Milwaukee County, where they had a total of 617 confirmed cases — just shy of half all the confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

The southeast corner of Wisconsin has been the hardest hit; beside Milwaukee County, Kenosha County had 30 cases, Ozaukee County had 36 cases and 3 deaths, Racine County had 21 cases, Washington County had 34 cases, and Waukesha County had 93 cases. Including Milwaukee County, the region accounts for 831 cases – 65 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin – and 13 deaths – 54 percent of all deaths in Wisconsin.

There were 192 confirmed cases in Dane County and a total of 2 deaths (1 more than reported on Sunday).

missed | 6:38 am CDT
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Sunday, March 29th, 2020

It’s Day 15 of shelter in place at the O’Folks Home, counting from the Sunday after we flew back from Florida. We are both still free of any of the red-flag symptoms of Covid-19, and I’m pretty sure we owe that to the fact that we’ve stayed in our little red house virtually 24/7 since our return. It’s not that we never leave; I go out periodically to stretch my legs and get some air, and we’ve both gone out a handful of times to buy necessary supplies. That’s pretty much it, though; we don’t eat out any more, we’ve stopped making trips to the convenience store for cookies or chips, and I haven’t been to a book store since we came back, not that they’ve been open.

My Darling B made a trip to the co-op for groceries yesterday. We usually shop at the Willy Street Co-Op, a small neighborhood cooperative in Madison where they seem to be doing their best to make shopping for groceries as safe as possible. They open at ten o’clock and the first hour is reserved for senior citizens and people who are immunocompromised. Two people stand at the door, counting noses, and let only 30 people into the store at a time. At eleven o’clock they start letting in anybody else, but allow only 50 at a time to enter. You have to stand three feet back from the counters and bag your own groceries.

After B got back from shopping, she burned her clothes and took a shower. Kidding. She didn’t burn her clothes, but she did immediately take a long, hot shower. Then we put away the dozen or so bags of groceries she brought home with her. I think we can hunker down with the food we have for at least a month, if it came to that. I don’t think it will. I think it’ll get bad, but not so bad we won’t be able to go out at all. But I might be wrong about that.

Day 15 | 12:00 pm CDT
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Trump, insinuating at a press conference that medical professionals are squandering or selling the supplies being sent to them to deal with the pandemic:

“Many of the states are stocked up, some of them don’t admit it, but they have, we have sent just so much, so many things to them, including ventilators, you know, there’s a question as to hoarding of ventilators, some hospitals and independent hospitals and some hospital chains, as we call them, they are holding ventilators, they don’t want to let them up, we need them for certain areas where there’s big problems, can’t hold them if they think there might be a problem weeks down the road.”

“For years, 10- to 20,000 masks, okay, it’s a New York hospital, it’s packed all the time, how do you go from 10- to 20- to 300,000, 10- to 20,000 masks to 300,000 even though this is different, something’s going on and you ought to look into it as reporters, where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000, and we have that in a lot of different places so somebody should probably look into that ’cause I just don’t see, from a practical standpoint, how that’s possible to go from that to that and we have that happening in numerous places”

smdh | 5:58 am CDT
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1,441 more people tested, 0.64 times more people than yesterday.

123 new cases, 0.84 more than yesterday.

14 new cases in Dane County, 0.56 more than yesterday.

No new deaths.

I get these numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which posts them on their web site at about two o’clock each day. A disclosure on the web page indicates these are the numbers reported at 9 pm the previous day, so there’s a seventeen-hour lag built into them.

At the same time that WI DHS was reporting no new deaths, the web site of Johns Hopkins University was reporting 17 deaths in Wisconsin.

alternate | 3:36 am CDT
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Saturday, March 28th, 2020

2,239 more people tested, 1.3 times more than yesterday.

147 new cases, 1.1 times more than yesterday.

25 new cases in Dane County, 1.3 times more than yesterday.

No new deaths.

Nationwide, the 1st recorded death from COVID-19 was on 2/29.
The 1,000th death was 3/26, two days ago.
Today saw the 2,000th death from COVID-19.

rainy | 5:23 pm CDT
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Friday, March 27th, 2020

1,692 more people tested, 1.05 times more than yesterday.

135 new cases, 1.1 times more than yesterday.

19 new cases in Dane County, 1.4 times more than yesterday

5 more deaths, 1.6 times more than yesterday.

ramping up | 3:17 pm CDT
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Thursday, March 26th, 2020

1,616 more people tested, 364 fewer people than yesterday.

122 new cases in Wisconsin, 6 fewer than yesterday.

26 new cases in Dane County, 1.6 times more than yesterday.

2 more deaths, both in Milwaukee County.

less is more | 7:12 pm CDT
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Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

Q: Mister President, you tweeted earlier, linking the closing of the country to your election success in November. Is this Easter timeline based on your political interests?

A: What do you mean, my election success?

Q: You said that the media wants the country to remain closed to hurt you —

A: Yeah, no, I think the media would like to see me do poorly in the election.

Q: Sir, lawmakers and congress on both sides of the aisle have said that reopening the country by Easter is not a good idea. What is that plan based on?

A: Just so you understand — are you ready? I think there are certain people that would like it to open not so quickly. I think there are certain people who would like it to do financially poorly, because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me in the polls. And, I don’t know if that’s so, but I do think it’s so that there are people in your profession that would like that to happen. I think it’s very clear that there are people in your profession that write fake news. You do. She does. There are people in your profession that write fake news. They would love to see me, for whatever reason, because we’ve done one hell of a job, nobody’s done the job that we’ve done, and it’s lucky that you have this group here now for this problem, or you wouldn’t even have a country left. Okay.

Source

barking | 6:11 pm CDT
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1,980 more people tested, 1.6 times the number of new tests reported yesterday.

128 new confirmed cases in Wisconsin, 3.0 times the number of new cases reported yesterday.

16 new cases in Dane County, 1.2 times more than yesterday.

1 new death, reported in Dane County.

jump | 5:16 pm CDT
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Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

corona virus in Wisconsin1,228 more people tested, 1.4 time more people than reported yesterday.

41 new cases, 1.2 times more than yesterday.

11 new cases in Dane County.

No new deaths reported.

Trump wants to lift restrictions by the end of the week because the economy’s not making enough money. Sick and dead workers don’t make money, you derp.

slow rise | 2:11 pm CDT
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Monday, March 23rd, 2020

855 more people tested.

Thirty-five more confirmed cases.

One added death in Milwaukee County. No new positives in Dane County.

The governor ordered all non-essential services shut down tomorrow and told everyone to stay indoors.

Working at home again this week. I’m not sure how much I like this working from home. On the one hand, we don’t have to drive on the beltline, and we’re home the minute we clock off. On the other hand, our home used to be my refuge from the stress of work, and now it’s not.

#safeathome | 8:29 pm CDT
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Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

1702 more people tested.

One-hundred more cases today over yesterday’s total, a thirty-six percent increase, can probably be attributed to more testing but is right in line with the daily thirty-three percent increase seen in other countries.

No increase in the number of deaths, thank goodness.

Source: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/outbreaks/index.htm

thirty-six percent | 3:54 pm CDT
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Saturday, February 29th, 2020

So long, Boo. I miss your crooked little tail already.

So long Boo | 2:45 pm CDT
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Sunday, January 26th, 2020

I went to the eye doctor yesterday afternoon because my prescription seemed a little out of whack and it had been about five years since I’d had my eyes checked last. The office I went to last was in a Shopko that closed last summer, but the office moved to a strip mall about two blocks from our house so I guess even that minor catastrophe had a silver lining.

Before the doctor did her examination, a tech took me into a side room to check me for glaucoma with that goddamn machine that hit my eyeball with what they always describe as a “puff” of air, and which I describe as being punched in the face by an evil spirit. She had another machine that projected an image on the back of my eye but she didn’t say what that did; and she had a camera that took a picture of the retina of both my eyes. She had to take two photos of my left eye but she didn’t say why.

Once the tech was done with me, the doctor took me to a separate examination room and did the usual examination with the goggles that flip between better and worse, then she got behind a scope that shined a bright light into my eyes so she could examine the retinas live, one at a time, under magnification. She spent a bit longer looking into the left one than the right one before she explained that she was looking for a whitened area on my retina that showed up on the photos. It was probably totally normal, she said, most likely a myelinated nerve fiber layer and probably not A CANCEROUS TUMOR, but the only way she could be sure was to look at it live under magnification. Trouble was, it was in a part of my eye that at such an acute angle to my pupil that she couldn’t see it without dilating my eyes.

Luckily for both of us, I walked to the examination, meaning that driving home with dilated eyes wasn’t even part of the equation. Therefore, yes, please, go ahead and dilate my eyes so we can find out if one of them is full of cancer or it’s only a benignly myelinated nerve. I am only too happy to have this cleared up in exchange for having to squint all the way home.

And it turned out to be the benign thing, whew. So what might have turned out to be a slightly more exciting day than I had planned was instead routine. All I got out of it was a new prescription and a new pair of glasses.

myelinated | 11:17 am CDT
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Monday, December 9th, 2019

I called mom last night and one of the topics of conversation was my upcoming 60th birthday, which is in fact a year and three days from now but I didn’t correct her because, you know, 59, 60, what’s the difference?

She brings it up the topic of my age more often than she used to because she can’t get her head around the idea that the child she gave birth to seems to be as old as she is. “You can’t be 60,” she said. “I’m 60!” I totally get what she means. I usually feel like I’m about thirty years old, until I throw my back out bending over to pick up a cat toy, or stop to catch my breath as I’m scrubbing the bathtub. Being 59 (or 60, whatever) feels like that shouldn’t happen, but it does.

Fifty nine | 6:04 am CDT
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Friday, November 29th, 2019

It’s about quarter to nine on Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, and my sinuses are still stuffed full of whatever nasty goop sinuses fill up with when they’re infected by whatever nasty bug I got infected by. I got a pretty solid six, maybe seven hours of sleep last night before I couldn’t breath through my nose any longer; I can’t sleep when I’m forced to breath through my mouth, so I passed a half-hour or so rolling from one side to the other, loosening up the gunk that was plugging my head. When it was finally ready to harvest, I rolled out of bed, toddled off to the bathroom, yanked a couple yards of toilet paper off the roll and blew and blew and blew and blew and blew and I still didn’t get all the gunk out. It’s going to be an all-day project.

stuffed | 8:55 am CDT
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Sunday, February 24th, 2019

A few random thoughts about climate change, in no particular order:

I don’t “believe in” climate change. I’m not entirely sure what the phrase “believe in” means. It’s most often used in the context of “believing in” god or supernatural phenomena or something for which there is no hard evidence. Until I see some hard evidence, I don’t believe phenomena that are supposed to be supernatural. (You know what they call supernatural phenomena that is supported by hard evidence? Natural phenomena.) (I wish I could say I came up with that myself, but I didn’t. I believe Tim Minchin did, but I can’t find the quote right now.)

Which is why I don’t “believe in” climate change. Climate is not a supernatural phenomenon, and the changes which have been described by thousands of people who have been studying climate their entire lives are supported by hard evidence. I believe the evidence and I believe the warnings that our industrial activity has changed the climate, and I also believe that if we continue to be as active industrially as we have been, we will continue to change the climate in ways that will make our planet inhospitable to human life.

It really isn’t a hard concept to understand. Humans have been polluting the earth, air, sky and water we need to survive for as long as we have been walking the earth. When we were doing that in the ways that every other creature walking the earth did it, this wasn’t a problem, but when we started doing it on an industrial scale and the pollution started to mount up faster than it could decompose, then it became a problem. And because we have done, and continue to do, almost nothing to mitigate the problem, it has grown into a bigger problem year after year.

Those are facts. That is really happening.

And now, some things I believe should be happening to reduce the effects of climate change, but aren’t happening and, sadly, probably won’t happen:

I believe America should lead the world in converting to energy production that produces no carbon dioxide. I believe this is not only possible, and that it can be done in the near future, I believe this is the easiest thing we could do. It wouldn’t even be our “moon-shot” to mitigate climate change. The technology to do it has already been developed and proven, we only have to scale it up. I also believe this will not happen any time soon, if it happens at all, because narrow-minded greedheads like Trump are going to be in high office for the foreseeable future. No, I don’t have a time machine and I can’t foretell the future, but most countries in the world are being run by narrow-minded greedheads these days. It seems to be a trend.

I believe America should lead the world in converting to mass transit that produces no carbon dioxide. I believe this is also possible. I believe it could be done almost as quickly as converting to zero-emission energy production. And I also believe this will never happen because everybody likes their goddamn cars and trucks too much. Honestly, how does anybody justify driving to work by themselves in a truck the size of Nebraska? That ought to be criminal.

I believe American politicians should be engaged every single day with politicians from countries around the globe to find ways to lessen the effects of climate change. And obviously this will not happen because politicians are not really representatives of the citizens of the United States. Politicians do what lobbyists pay them to do, and the lobbyists with the biggest bucks are generally in favor of doing things that cause climate change. Oh shit, I stepped up onto my cynical soapbox. So sorry.

climate change | 11:44 am CDT
Category: current events, Life & Death, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Here’s how I know the anti-vaxxers are full of shit: I got shots every week when I was a kid. Every. Single. Week. Or at least, that’s how I remember it. This was all part of the 1960’s optimism that medical science would someday wipe all disease off the face of the earth. Our teachers used to show us newsreels, a primitive form of video made by shining light through crude images hand-carved in stone, or something like that. The images showed doctors inoculating children in far-flung countries, and for some reason that was why we had to get shots, too. Every week. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My Darling B remembers it that way, too, and she was only a couple years behind me in school. It seemed like the teachers were constantly herding long lines of us into the gym, where grinning nurses in white lab coats waited with trays piled high with GREAT BIG SYRINGES! HUGE SYRINGES! WITH NEEDLES AS LONG AS YARDSTICKS! At the sight of those syringes, half the kids in the line (that would include me) would break down cry for mommy, or help, or just bawl hysterically, pathetically, unceasingly until our faces were glazed in tears and snot. The teachers, forearmed with bales of Kleenex, worked their way up and down the line, trying against all hope to calm us, but no matter how kind or sympathetic or determined they were, they had no chance of soothing our fears, because at least one in every three kids in the gym screamed bloody murder when they got jabbed, and the blood-curdling sound of that scream not only pierced everyone’s ears and made the hairs on the backs of their necks stand up, I swear it sent shock waves through the floor that the rest of us waiting in line picked up with our feet. Try to counteract an all-encompassing effect like that by softly cooing, “there, there.”

This scene played out in elementary schools across the nation EVERY SINGLE WEEK!. Hundreds of thousands of kids — nay, MILLIONS were vaccinated. Yet somehow we survived.

I have no idea what they were inoculating us against. Probably the usual: measles, mumps, diphtheria, anthrax. I didn’t know then, and I never will know. If they kept records of that stuff, I’m pretty sure the records have been shredded by now. Either that, or they’re kept in a huge underground vault in the Utah desert for whatever nefarious purposes they do that sort of thing. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a bunch of college-age spelunkers accidentally stumbled across a cave lined with filing cabinets filled with the vaccination records, DNA samples and microchip frequencies of millions of America’s children, took photos of the whole thing, and posted it on Instagram. What an X-Files moment that would be.

vaxed to the max | 2:57 pm CDT
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy, story time
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Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

A fair wind and following seas to you, Dick Gordon, and thank you.
Dick Gordon

Command Module pilot Dick Gordon in his spacecraft (NASA photo)

Fare thee well, Dick Gordon | 10:06 pm CDT
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Saturday, February 11th, 2017

It seems this would be an especially appropriate time to talk about why I believe rounding up undocumented people and deporting them is so revolting to me.

Right out of the gate I’m going to refuse to use the term “illegal immigrants” or its shortened form, preferred by lunch-room lawyers and pundits, “illegals.” People aren’t illegal. Their actions can be illegal, but people themselves never are. Describing a person as illegal has got to be about the most revolting way you can possibly treat them. I’m going to stick with “undocumented” because my experience tells me it’s the most accurate way to describe them.

Here’s why: We Americans were raised to believe we are citizens because we were born here, but that is no longer true. We are citizens only if we can prove we were born here, which a shocking number of American-born people can’t do, or at least I think it’s shocking. One is shocking. If only it were just one. I go to work every day to help American citizens prove they are who they say they are. It’s literally in my job description.

The standard of proof is usually a state-issued driver’s license or identification card. When I was just a lad, it was pretty easy to get a driver’s license. I filled out an application, I took a test to demonstrate my knowledge of the rules of the road, and voila! I was licensed to drive. But now that a driver’s license is more than just a license to drive, every state of the union requires you to show documented evidence of your birth, usually a certificate issued by the state. If you lost your birth certificate or never had one, you can get a replacement, but the state usually requires you to show photo ID. How’s that for Catch-22?

Just a note here: For a lot of American citizens (way too many, again), birth records simply don’t exist. There are various reasons for this, but the most common are: the state lost the records (fire, flood, incompetence), or the parents didn’t record the birth, sometimes because the parents didn’t believe in or bother with the legal ins and outs of life, but often because they were so poor they didn’t have the resources to travel to the county seat. If you were one of those people, you could record your birth now by going to court, which takes time, money, and the stamina to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops.

It doesn’t end with your birth certificate, by the way. To get a driver’s license you also have to prove your identity, which is different from proving your birth. Most people show a Social Security card to prove their identity. If you don’t have one, guess what you have to show the Social Security Administration in order to get one? See “Catch-22” above.

What I’m getting at is that there are way more undocumented Americans than you know. By the letter of the law that I hear practiced daily by lunch-room lawyers and television pundits, these Americans reside here illegally, because they have no documents to prove they were born here, and a lot of them would not be able to produce documents if you gave them all the time in the world to get them, because they don’t have the resources to do so.

This is relevant to the conversation about people who come to America from other countries without documents because the only thing about their situation that is different is, they weren’t born here. They came here because they wanted a better life for themselves or for their children. That is literally the American dream. Know-it-alls who say immigrants are welcome but only if they jump through the bureaucratic hoops set up to do it legally are speaking from the position of Americans who were born here.

It’s a great privilege to be born in America. You are instantly a citizen. You don’t have to do anything at all to be one. You can literally coast through every step of your life, skip school, duck out of work, do nothing at all for your community or society at large, and still be a citizen. Or, you can excel. Either way, there’s no test, or there wasn’t until you had to show your papers to get a driver’s license. (You watch; eventually American-born citizens will be swept up in these “enforcement actions” for the sole reason that they didn’t have the required documents.)

To the naturalized Americans who jumped through the hoops, good on you. You applied, you paid the money, you took the test. I admire your determination to be a naturalized citizen. I also admire anyone who has the determination to walk here from Central America, then work the rest of their life cleaning toilets in a hotel or deboning chickens in a processing plant so their children can live a longer, fuller life. Whether or not they got naturalized or got a green card, American dream achieved. Documents don’t make us Americans. Determination to live a better life in a better country makes us Americans. Kicking people out of the country doesn’t make it better.

documented | 12:19 pm CDT
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Monday, September 5th, 2016

At what point do you believe push-ups have occurred? I ask because My Darling B says that we do push-ups when we yoga, but I don’t think we do. We plank, which it the top of a push-up, and we chadurunga, which is lowering from a plank to the floor. I would argue that that is not a push-up because there is no actual, you know, pushing up. We never plank and chadurunga, plank and chadurunga, plank and chadurunga. We could, I suppose, but I have never been to a yoga class where they did that.

Sometimes we chadurunga and up dog, which is lowering from a plank but stopping before our bellies touch the ground, then straightening our arms while leaning forward, while at the same time doing a back bend, looking up at the ceiling. And although we are lowering ourselves down, then pushing ourselves up, that is definitely not a push-up the way I learned to do push-ups in gym class, or in the military.

What I learned was this: Push-ups usually start in the up position. I don’t know why, but I suspect it had something to do with the sadism inherent in gym instructors and sergeants. Hands are directly under your shoulders, arms straight, back straight, feet flexed so you’re on your toes. Then you lower yourself, still with your back straight, until your chest just touches the floor, but never so that it rests on the floor. Your arms should always bear all your weight in a push-up. When your chest touches the floor, you push back up until your arms are straight again.

That is one push-up. But push-ups are never done singly, that I know of. In gym class, I’m pretty sure we never did less than ten push-ups, and in the military I think the minimum number was 25. Whatever the minimum is, push-ups are definitely always plural, and any number less than five seems kinda wussy. So my guess would be that push-ups start at no less than five.

push-ups | 8:39 am CDT
Category: Life & Death, yet another rant
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Monday, April 20th, 2015

The lawn mower didn’t start when I pulled the trigger on it yesterday. The blades were very hard to turn by hand, so I thought that maybe the bearings on the motor could use a touch of oil, and that meant I would have to take the engine cover off. I had wanted to do that last year, because somewhere under that engine cover there was a mouse generator. Every time I used the lawn mower last summer, mice would erupt from the openings where the handle connected to the deck. Sometimes they would run up the handle straight at me. I would finally get to see what a mouse generator looked like. Well, I’ve seen one now and I never want to see one again.

There’s a lot of room under the engine cover. The motor itself is about the size of a soup can. I thought it would be a lot bigger. All of the deck space that wasn’t taken up by the motor was filled with bits of trash, fur, lots of mouse turds and two mummified mice. Yuck. And it was all glued in there somehow. I don’t even want to know what glued it all together. None of it fell out by simply upending the lawn mower. I had to dig it out with a stick, then use the shop vac to get it all out of the cracks and crevices. When I was done, I washed my hands in scalding water, twice.

mummy | 7:38 am CDT
Category: Life & Death, yard work | Tags:
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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

As I was saying, the biggest thrill of the weekend was the mouse that came up the stairs into the kitchen on Sunday night. I’m not kidding. Don’t judge us. We don’t get out much.

The little booger literally came up the stairs. I’m almost one-hundred percent certain of this because when I turned on the lights to go downstairs Friday night, there on the second-to-the-top step was a mouse, frozen in mid-step. Hm? Where was I going? Me? I was, ah, just going to the bathroom! Yeah! That’s the ticket! The toilet downstairs is backed up, so I was going to use the one upstairs, if you don’t mind! Yeah! What? You do mind? Well, then, heh-heh-heh, I guess I’ll just go back downstairs and piss in the corner again. See yah!

When I spot a mouse in the house, my reaction is just a little manic. I hope nobody ever records it, because I don’t want it to be immortalized on YouTube for the rest of recorded human history. But here’s what it sounds like in print: “I SEE YOU! I SEE YOU, YOU LITTLE BASTARD! I’M GONNA STOMP YOU! YOU CAN RUN, BUT I’M GONNA GET YOU!” It goes on like that for pages as I scramble around, huffing and puffing until I have to stop to catch my breath. I’ve never caught a mouse this way. Really, there’s probably nobody who spends more energy on not catching mice than I do.

But if I have a cat as my wing man, then I can get things done. Boo spotted the little invader Sunday night after it tried to sneak under the stairway door into the dining room. She happened to be ambling by, headed for a bite of kibble from her bowl, which was probably what the mouse was thinking of doing, too. Boo let us know what she’d found by leaping into the air, scrambling back and forth across the floor, and finally sticking her face in the crack between the base of the oven and the linoleum, snorfling up more air than a Hoover vacuum cleaner. Subtlety is not Boo’s way.

When we went looking for the mouse to see if it was, indeed, trapped, My Darling B spotted it between the oven and the fridge before it scurried to relative safety behind the oven. So we worked out a way to catch the little vermin: I would sweep under the oven with a stick while B made sure that Boo wouldn’t wander away. Her attention span can be a little short sometimes.

But it didn’t take long to flush out the mouse. One or two quick sweeps with the stick and the mouse popped out from under the oven like it was shot, straight past Boo and through B’s feet. That’s when she squealed like a girl and jumped back three feet. I thought that was something that happened only in cartoons. Her reaction wouldn’t have surprised me more if she’d lifted the hem of her petticoat, jumped up on a chair and squeaked, Eeeek! A mouse!

The mouse made a hairpin turn to the right and I thought at first that it headed for the stairway door and the safety of the basement, but for some reason it went instead into the living room where Boo chased it back and forth across the floor like two of the Three Stooges. Whoo-woo-woo-woo! and Why I Oughta! would’ve been the perfect caption to the photo I didn’t get a chance to take, because I chased after them, making sure that the mouse couldn’t find another hiding spot. I had to move one piece of furniture away from the wall so Boo could get behind it, and twice I had to play goalie, slapping the mouse back into play with my foot when it tried to run for the hallway, but Boo did most of the work, finally pinning it down by the front door, the perfect place for me to slap a plastic tub over it. It was late and I didn’t want to keep it overnight, so I suspended our usual no-kill policy and that particular mouse went on permanent sabbatical.

Boo can move pretty fast for such a tubby cat. She’s usually the epitome of a princess-like cat, mincing across the floor in carefully measured steps, but when she saw that mouse, she went batshit crazy, and she scrambled across the living room like a maniac. It was hard not to be impressed.

yelp 2 | 6:07 am CDT
Category: Boo, entertainment, housekeeping, Life & Death, O'Folks | Tags:
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Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Good night, Bonky-boy

dsc09487

Alas, Bonkers | 4:00 pm CDT
Category: Bonkers, Life & Death, O'Folks | Tags:
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The Toyota garage we take our car to for service appears to be staffed entirely by children.

The guy who acted like he was in charge had to be in his early to mid twenties. If I had to guess based on the context, I’d peg him at twenty-four. If I had to guess after just a glance at his baby face, though, I’d notch him down to eighteen. Not older than twenty.

The gal at the front desk making appointments and printing up invoices could’ve been sixteen.

No doubt this is a sign of my encroaching decrepitude and old age, and I’ll soon be getting a drink by dunking my face in a great big bowl, then tipping my head back and gulping, slopping water down my neck and all over the floor as I do.

kid world | 9:41 pm CDT
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy
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Sunday, July 28th, 2013

new smart phoneAs I mention earlier, we replaced our dumb phones with smart phones. We made up a lot of reasons that sounded good for doing this but the real reason we did it is that SMART PHONES ARE AWESOME!

The dumb phones we had were the pay-as-you-go type, which were fine for making phone calls. In fact, they were better than the land line we still have but will soon be getting rid of because the only phone calls we ever get on the land line are from telemarketers and political action committees. I’d put up with daily in-home harassment if the land line was amazingly cheap, like five bucks a year. Or, I’d be happy to continue to pay them whatever overinflated price they wanted for their very dependable service if they would guarantee that I would never receive another call from a telemarketer. I’m pretty sure that neither of those options are going to materialize in the near future, though, so we’re going to drop the land line.

We already stopped paying for the dumb phones. They were good, as I said, for making phone calls but obviously they don’t do any more than that and besides, we weren’t ever completely sure how much we were paying each month for our dumb phones. As it was somewhat inconvenient to find out too late that I couldn’t make a call because I’d forgotten to top off my account, I gave them my credit card number and said, “Here, take out ten bucks whenever I’m running a little low.” Like running a tab at the bar, I didn’t think about how much I was paying because I didn’t have to. My Darling B did the same thing. When we reviewed the costs of keeping a land line and topping up the dumb phones, though, it seemed a little silly to keep on paying that when, for a bit more, we could have SMART PHONES!

They were delivered last week Wednesday, if memory serves, and I use the word “delivered” very loosely here. The FedEx guy was supposed to drop them off after seven, which would have given us more than enough time to get home after our dinner at The Wise if he had, in fact, stuck to the plan. When we got home, though, there was a note from the FedEx guy on our door that said (paraphrasing): “I gots here at 3:30 – Where Was You?” We jumped back into the O-Mobile and burned rubber to get to the FedEx facility on the north side of town just ten minutes before they closed.

When we had dumb phones, My Darling B put a happy face sticker on hers because otherwise they looked exactly alike. Remembering this, when B ordered the smart phones she got a white phone for herself and a black phone for me. That girl’s always thinking. I don’t know how her brain doesn’t get musclebound from all the thinking she does. In case you care, she ordered the latest model, Samsung S4. All that means to me is that they’ll be obsolete in about six months, if they’re not already. That, and they’re not real. They’re science fiction, completely make-believe. Or, as Arthur C. Clarke, one of the greatest science fiction authors who ever lived, put it, they’re magic, as in “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Even Captain Kirk would have thought so. All he could do with his communicator was make phone calls. It was a dumb phone, really. He couldn’t use it to look at a map or search the ship’s computer. Spock would have killed for a smart phone. The one I’ve got beats his tricorder all to hell. It’s smaller but it’s got a bigger screen and I can tuck it in a pocket. It doesn’t hang from my neck on a leather strap. Way more handy than that boat anchor he had to carry around.

And it’s one hell of a lot smarter than Spock’s tricorder, too. Thirty seconds after I turned it on and told it my e-mail address, it knew way more about me than probably my own mother does. Our phones use the Android operating system so they’re connected to The Google, and The Google, as everybody knows, is more powerful than all the nimrod politicians in the world and probably more powerful than every branch of the military. Man, are those guys going to be surprised when they figure that out. If The Google lets them figure it out.

So probably because I have a gmail account and because I’ve been using The Google’s browser, Chrome, for a while now, my smart phone autoloaded everything The Google knew about me. My list of contacts – everyone I might call on the phone or send e-mail to – was imported from my various on-line e-mail accounts. My photo gallery – the folder of photographs in my camera-ready smartphone – was suddenly filled with all the photos I’d ever uploaded to the net. And so on and so on. This thing called “privacy” that you think you have? You can forget about it. The Google knows all about you. If you have never in your life sent an e-mail message, placed an order on-line, or used a cell phone, then I suppose it’s possible that you might have managed to evade The Google’s all-seeing gaze, but if you have ever experimentally dipped a toe into even the shallowest of social media, you are in for a shock when you activate your first smart phone.

And do you want to talk about distraction? A smart phone is literally all the distraction in the world gathered together in a package that you can hold in one hand. It has these things called “apps” that are hot buttons of one kind of distraction or another. All you have to do to be distracted is tap one. If and when the distraction of that app runs out, you can tap the next one. And you will tap the next one. You will keep on tapping the next one until you fall asleep sitting up, and when your head hits the table, waking you up, you will tap the next app to be distracted some more, because going to sleep is boring but a distraction is, well, distracting. You will not notice you’re tired. You would not notice conquering armies invading your city. Not that I’m suggesting smart phones could be part of an elaborate conspiracy to keep tabs on us while distracting us from the coming subjugation of an invading army. In fact, I’d like to go on record as saying that even if this were a thing, I for one welcome subjugation as long as I get to keep my apps. How bad could that be?

smartphone | 11:58 am CDT
Category: ch-ch-changes, current events, daily drivel, damn kids!, Life & Death, Our Humble O'Bode
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Friday, January 13th, 2012

The question that biological anthropologist Barbara King is pondering on the science blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture is just this: burial, cremation, or donation to a body farm? Strangely, she did not include what I’ve always considered to be the non plus ultra in postmortem disposal: detonation.

When I learned about cremation, I realized we could do something more daring with our bodies after death besides box them up and bury them in a trench. Something exciting. One last hurrah. So I thought about it for quite a while and decided that, what I would most dearly wish my family would do with my body after I die would be: Set it atop a small mountain of explosives and blow it to teensy-weensy little pieces. Vaporize it, if possible. An atomic blast would be ideal, but if vaporization could be done the simple way with good old-fashioned dynamite, that would be just fine with me.

The next most appealing option would be to have my body frozen and cut into many thin, bologna-like slices that would be mounted between glass panels like that guy at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, except that I’d want the panels used as walls for bus stop shelters across the city. When we didn’t have a car and I had to take the bus everywhere, I remember being monumentally bored with nothing to do while I waited for the bus. This would give people something to do.

Because I doubt that anyone I know will seriously consider either of those options, I guess the body farm would be okay. If you don’t know what a body farm is, wait until after you’ve finished eating your breakfast to find out.

the end | 5:57 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, Life & Death
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