Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Dinner last night was a giant pretzel and a glass of beer at the Biergarten in Olbrich Park.  It probably wasn’t the healthiest dinner I’ve ever eaten, but it was one of the most enjoyable.  I shared the pretzel with My Darling B. They weren’t kidding when they used the word “giant.” I felt stuffed after doing my best to finish off my half.  It was the opening day at the Biergarten and there were maybe a dozen customers at the various tables, with about a half-dozen staffed. I think they were expecting more people for their opening day.  

Dinner tonight was leftover mac & cheese and a few slices of Italian sausage.  I think I’d better switch to salads for the rest of the week.

Demolition of the office building we used to work in has been going on for about two weeks now.  I’ve been watching it from my window. At first, there wasn’t a lot to see, but about a week ago they knocked holes in the walls on the fourth and fifth floors, and all this week I’ve been watching a couple of pint-sized bulldozers push cubicle walls and metal shelves and every kind of office appliance out the holes into a big pile at the base of the building, where an excavator scoops the mess up and loads it into trucks.  Today they were pushing chairs and couches and heaps of ceiling tiles out through the holes. By the time they’re finished gutting it, there’ll be nothing left but bare concrete.

in the garten | 6:43 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, April 30th, 2018

Our office building has a multilevel parking garage.  We park in our assigned spot on level six and usually take the elevator down to the ground floor.  This morning B must have relied on muscle memory to press the button to go to the third floor; she works on the third floor of the office building.  It’s not connected to the parking garage on that level, or any level.  The Monday Monster got her good.  

third floor | 7:24 am CDT
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Sunday, April 29th, 2018

The garage door failed catastrophically after I started the garage door opener as My Darling B and I stepped into the garage to go to brunch this morning.  I thought the door sounded a lot like it was being torn apart by the garage door opener, but no matter how long I gaped at it, it stayed in one piece and nothing seemed wrong with it.  Not until it was fully open did B notice the pulley on the floor at her feet. At the same time, I noticed the broken cable dangling from the corner of the door. It was the cable that helps pull the door up, and it had snapped, whipping around atop the metal garage door and flinging the pulley against the back wall (good thing B didn’t catch that with her face).  That and the cable flailing around is probably what made a noise like a thousand trash cans being dropped into an empty alley.

So fixing the garage door was one of my tasks this afternoon.  Lucky for me garage doors are surprisingly easy to fix. I bought a new cable at the local Menard’s store and installed it in about fifteen minutes by following the directions on the back of the package.  The door worked perfectly on the first try.

That left me the rest of the afternoon to do whatever I wanted, so I put the kayak on the little trailer and dragged it down to the beach at Frost Woods Park, launched it and paddled around the bay, then down the river and into Mud Lake where I took a left turn at Nine Springs Creek.  I’d taken this particular left turn last summer but got no farther than the train trestle that crosses the creek about 200 yards upstream. The water level was at least two feet lower than it was back then, though, so I could just squeak under the trestle by leaning forward and hugging the deck of the kayak.  After passing under the trestle, I could go another 300 yards upstream until the creek broadened and the water became so shallow that the kayak’s bottom scraped along the mud as I desperately tried to turn it around. And I did manage to get it headed back downstream, but not without a moment of panic that I might have to get out and drag it. 

cable snap | 7:31 am CDT
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Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Last night we watched the first two episodes of season two of The Handmaid’s Tale, the Hulu television series based on the book by Margaret Atwood.  It’s a deeply troubling story about an ultraconservative revolution that overthrows the US government and, among their other bad attributes, literally enslaves fertile women, forcing them to bear children through ritualized rape.  

The series has been flashing back to the life the main character, June, had before the overthrow. The flashbacks are almost more troubling to me than the story of what comes after, because the characters couldn’t see the overthrow coming even though the signs of increasing, radically conservative thought that pervade their society seem so obvious to the watcher, and yet I see a lot of the same signs in our real world right now that make us shake our heads and say, “What the hell?” but we do nothing about it because we deny to ourselves that it can get as bad as the ultraconservative society portrayed in the television show.  When you’re living in a dystopia, at what point do you face reality and say, that’s it, I’m out? 

dystopia | 7:37 am CDT
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Thursday, April 26th, 2018

I had hoped the weather yesterday would be warm enough for me to break the kayak out of its winter cocoon and take it for a paddle around the bay while B was at yoga last night, but alas, it was a bit too chilly for that.  Temps just barely crept up into what is considered warm in Wisconsin after a long winter but not warm enough for me to wander around in shorts and a t-shirt, much less sit in a kayak in what until recently was a frozen-solid lake.  

I took a walk down to Metcalf’s grocery during my lunch hour to enjoy their Wednesday sushi special.  All the people in the courtyard outside my office window were not wearing jackets or coats, so I left the building without mine and almost immediately regretted it.  

not warm enough | 7:39 am CDT
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Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

I think summer came to Wisconsin yesterday, and maybe if we’re very lucky it will stay for a while.  It may even stay all weekend.

Yesterday was the first day I walked around outside in shirt sleeves.  Other people were doing it when temps hit the 40s and 50s, and I may have run from the house to the car in that weather but I wasn’t walking around comfortably in it until yesterday.  Yesterday I even had my sleeves rolled up and I dawdled, even strolled as I walked around in the sunshine. Yesterday was the day I remind myself of in the middle of January when it’s so cold outside that frost builds up on the hairs in my nose.  

It was so beautifully warm outside that we enjoyed a dinner of falafel and hummus on the patio at Banzo on the east side of town, across from the park, and revelled in every moment of it. After we went home, I got my bike down out of the rafters in the garage where it hangs all winter and took a short ride around the neighborhood, not too far, because I’ve been cooped up all winter and I didn’t want to overdo it.  

And now the sun is coming up and it looks like another clear day is on its way.  It’s going to be hard to keep myself from gazing out the window at the clear blue sky all day long.

dinner on the patio | 7:42 am CDT
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Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Tim went with B and I to the Comedy Club on State Street last night to see Hari Kondabolu, always a good time.  Hari’s opener was the hilarious Carmen Lagala from New York. I’ve never seen her act before but enjoyed it immensely.  The host was Greg Bach from Milwaukee, who was entertaining and occasionally funny.

Part of the price of admission is a two-drink minimum.  Fortunately most of their drinks are not very strong, but Tim ordered a martini that was at least five ounces of gin.  He got a tiny bit looped that night.

Hari | 8:18 am CDT
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Monday, April 16th, 2018

Michael Cohen, the man Trump calls his personal lawyer and who everybody else calls his ”fixer,” was arraigned in federal court yesterday where he named TV talking head Sean Hannity as one of his clients.  The only other client Cohen has had is Elliot Broidy, a big donor to the Republican National Committee, who secured Cohen’s legal services to pay $1.6 million in hush money to Playboy model Karen McDougal after she began pregnant with Broidy’s child.  Coincidentally, Coehn also paid $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star also known as Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about her affair with Donald Trump. So there’s a lot of speculation about what Cohen did for Sean Hannity.

Which prompted Twitter user @drskyskull to post this masterpiece: 

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape for Sean Hannity

Not a surprise
Sean doubles his lies on TV
I’m just a poor boy!
Cohen gave advice for free!

Because I’m easy come easy go
Cohen I barely know
Any way his trial goes
Doesn’t really matter to me
TOOOOO MEEEEEEE

Mama
Just lied again
Polished a big orange turd
Shilled for him with every word

MAGA had just begun
And now we’ve gone and peed it all away!
MAMA
OOOOOOOOH

Didn’t mean to make you cry
If I’m not back on the air tomorrow
Carry on, carry on
As if I had advertisers

Too late
My time has come
Send shivers down my spine
Mueller’s calling all the time

Goodbye everybody
I’ve got to go
Heading to a place with no extradition treaty

MAMA
OOOOOOOOH
Don’t want my show to die
Don’t want to be like Bill O’Reilly!
*guitar solo*

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Michael Cohen Michael Cohen
Will you shut your fat mouth-o
Search warrants of writing
Very very frightening me

Vladimir-o Vladimir-o
Vladimir-o Vladimir-o
Vladimir-o save us all, magnifico!

I’m just a big prick and nobody loves me
He’s just a big prick broadcasting shit TV
Spare him his life from going to the pokey

Treason come treason go will you let me go?
Fuck you Sean! No! We will not let you go! (Let him go)
Fuck you Sean! We will not let you go! (Let him go)
Fuck you Sean! We will not let you go! (Let me go)

Will not let you go let me go (never)
Never let you go let me go
Never let me go ooo
No, no, no, no, no, no, no

Oh Robert Mueller, Robert Mueller, Robert Mueller let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
For me
For meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
*furious banjo guitar solo, Sean dances like the whitest guy ever*

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN SUBPOENA AND TAP ALL MY LINES
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN ARREST ME AND TRY ME FOR CRIMES
OH BABY, CAN’T DO THIS TO ME BABY
JUST GOTTA GET OUT JUST GOTTA GET RIGHT OUTTA HERE

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters nothing really matters on Fox TV

 

easy come, easy go | 4:41 pm CDT
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Saturday, April 14th, 2018

I have to say, Spring is not going well this year. The rain that started yesterday kept on pissing down all night and this morning, but we’re pretty lucky to get nothing worse than that.  Not much farther north, they’re talking about having to shovel several inches of snow, drifting, and other unpleasantness.  I’m pretty sure if I’d looked out the window and seen snow this morning, I’d have just gone back to bed.

[Added: Spoke too soon about “nothing worse than that.” Light snow flurries began to fall after the lunch hour and continued through the afternoon, but without accumulation, thank goodness.]

not going well | 1:46 pm CDT
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Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

After I rolled out of bed this morning and started the morning pot of coffee brewing, I checked in to Twitter to see what’s new in the world and the first thing I see is OH MY GOD TRUMP IS GOING TO BLOW UP SYRIA!

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia,  because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

I’m not all that worried, really.  The rest of Twitter responded with “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” as if Trump hasn’t done this before.  He needs to do this every so often to “look presidential,” because nothing gets the pundits to say dumb shit like “this is the moment he finally became president” as blowing shit up.  And that’s pretty much all he’ll blow up, after he gave literally everybody in the world plenty of advance warning by tweeting it. Any soldiers, Syrian or Russian, at whatever target he agreed ahead of time to hit will be long gone.

Cynical?  Oh, a tad.  

Trump followed the “get ready” tweet with:

“Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”

“There is no reason for this,” I love that.  As if threatening to shoot missiles at a Russian ally wouldn’t be a good reason. And then he bats his eyes and asks, “Stop the arms race?”  Because why wouldn’t they? Aside from the aforementioned attack, of course. Sort of justifies my cynical feeling that the pyrotechnics are only there to make everyone go “Oooo! Ahhh!” and repeat the inevitable drivel that Trump is strong and bold and presidential.

get ready | 8:48 am CDT
Category: current events, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Monday, April 9th, 2018

B noticed yesterday that the thermometer in the fridge was indicating sixty degrees and the food wasn’t cold, which is sort of the opposite of what you want in a refrigerator.  I’d noticed the night before that the beer I grabbed from the door wasn’t as cold as the one I’d drunk the day before that, so I’d adjusted the setting but apparently that hadn’t worked.  We’d had this problem before and I’d fixed it by using the vacuum cleaner to suck great big wads of dust out of the radiator that some genius designer wedged into the inch of space under the fridge where all the dust bunnies in the world go to die instead of on the back where all other fridges have their radiators.  That’s where it’s easier to clean them, that’s where they get more air. It’s where the radiator should be, dammit. I’d really like just one minute alone with the guy who stuck it underneath our fridge. No, three. Three minutes, coz I wouldn’t be able to strangle him in just one minute.

So once again I had to spend an hour or so flat on my front, cheek to the floor so I could see into the cramped space under the fridge as I wiggled a little extension hose attached to the vacuum, trying to suck bits of dust out from between the coils of the radiator.  When I was done, I couldn’t tell whether I’d gotten all the dust out or most of it or hardly any at all because I couldn’t really see much from where I had my head cranked around as far to the left as it would go, but I had to stop because if I spent five minutes more in that position it was going to get stuck like that, and I couldn’t go through the rest of my life explaining to everyone why I was perpetually looking over my shoulder.  

The temperature settings on the fridge go from one to seven, with seven being the coldest, so before I went to bed last night I turned them all the way down until the digital indicators showed a dash, which I took to mean that the compressor was off and it wouldn’t cool at all, but it did.  There was still frost on the cooling fins when I got up this morning to feed the whiniest cat in our bunch. I unleashed a broadside of my most powerful cusses but that alone didn’t fix the problem, so I wrestled the fridge out of its niche far enough to reach the plug, still cussing the cussiest cuss words I could think of, until I finally wiggled the plug out of the wall and the fridge went silent and dark.  Then I brewed a pot of coffee because there’s no going back to bed after my heart rate has been elevated by that much cussing.

While the coffee brewed I rigged up B’s blow dryer so it blew a steady stream of hot air into the fridge to melt the accumulated frost off the cooling fins.  I knew it was working when I had to sop up a big pool of water off the floor. I left the fridge off for about an hour after that, then plugged it back in and walked away.  Either it would work or I would be shopping for a fridge today. It worked. I get to watch movies today.

frosty | 9:28 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, housekeeping, Our Humble O'Bode
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Friday, April 6th, 2018

After I got out of bed this morning and went to the bathroom to dress because B was still sawing logs in the bedroom, I found this note waiting for me on the top of the toilet tank: “Be careful – there might be a dead mouse somewhere.”

B gave me the full story later on: Last night she heard Scooter and Sparky hissing at each other in a way that was not normal.  When she went to investigate, they were playing keepaway with a mouse under the dining room table. By the time she got back with something to scoop up the mouse, Sparky had stolen away with the mouse to the living room, where he was flipping it in the air by the tail and batting it around on the floor.  Try as she might, B couldn’t distract Sparky with anything to get the mouse away from him, and that’s when she wrote the note. Then she either came up with a new idea to distract him or he got tired enough of the now-dead mouse, and B threw it away, forgetting about the note.

careful! | 10:31 am CDT
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Thursday, April 5th, 2018

When we get orders delivered from Amazon, we usually leave the open boxes on the living room floor for a couple days (okay, weeks) for the cats to play in. The latest Amazon delivery came three or four days ago and Scooter’s been having one hell of a time jumping in an out of the box we left open for him. Trouble is, we found out just this morning that he’s been jumping in and out of the box to pee in it.  I noticed the other day there were little brownish spots in the newspaper we piled in the box.  (I know, I know; it’s like we were asking him to pee in it, right?) On the bright side, he could have been peeing elsewhere. At least he’s been peeing in a box. Okay, I’m reaching.

So I folded the box up and threw it in the trash, and Scooter just had to get over not having a box in the living room to jump into any more.  A couple days later, B asked me, “Have you seen that new tablecloth I ordered?”

“No,” I said, genuinely ignorant of the tablecloth in question.  “What tablecloth?”

“The one that was delivered just last week,” she said.  “Came in a box?  The one Scooter peed in?”

“Well, I threw the box out,” I said, thinking this was a perfectly reasonable thing to do with a box the cat peed in.

“Did you take the tablecloth out?”

“Nope,” I said, “and I’m assuming you didn’t either, which means the cat peed on it, as well as the box.  Did you want to use a tablecloth that’s been peed on?”

In the end, she did not, so the search for the tablecloth ended almost as soon as it began.

Scooter did something almost like this a few months back. We have a plastic wash tub in the kitchen sink to pile dirty dishes in, just to keep them all in one place and to one side. There are typically always a couple of dishes, cups and glasses in there but every once in a great while after I unload the clean dishes from the washer and load up the dirty dishes, the tub will be empty for as long as an hour or two, and then someone will have lunch or a cup of coffee and it’ll start to fill up again.

Well, Scooter apparently saw that plastic wash tub and it made him think of his plastic litter box, because he jumped in there are least a couple times and marked it as his own. I didn’t notice until he also marked a corner of the sink.  I was tempted to throw the wash tub out, but after scouring the sink clean I decided to soak it in chlorine bleach, just to make sure, and I figured, why not try that with the wash tub, too?  Everything gleamed a bright white afterward, so I kept the tub.  Sprayed it with vinegar, though, to keep the cat out of it.  He hates that smell.

scooter | 8:52 pm CDT
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Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Saw this rubbish on Facebook:

These two short sentences tell you a lot about our government and our culture:

1. We are advised not to judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge All Gun Owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.

And here is another one worth considering.

2. Seems how we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare running out of money? What’s interesting is the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn’t.

Profound isn’t it … Think about it … Pass it on.

Not all that profound, no.  More than a little bigoted, yes.  Let’s see if I can explain why I think so:

Point number one implies that if we are advised not to judge all Muslims for the actions of a few, then we should be advised not judge all gun owners for the actions of a few, which I believe is an odd thing to have to imply because we should all have been advised that both are a no-no.  I can’t cite sources and frankly I don’t think I should have to; surely one or two responsible adults have offered the sage advice that not all gun owners are to blame for the actions of a few.  Nobody can reasonably claim that advice hasn’t been uttered once in the defense of gun owners.

Point number one also implies that since we are encouraged to judge all gun owners for the actions of a few, then there is nothing wrong with encouraging us to judge all Muslims for the actions of a few.  See how bigoted that sounds?  And not only because the meme flips judgment from gun owners onto Muslims in particular, but because it flips “advising” with “encouraging,” which is not a small difference at all.

I’m willing to believe that some people are shallow enough to encourage us to judge all gun owners for the actions of a few, because I’ve seen people do that in person and on television.  It’s not a hard premise to swallow.  But I have also seen and heard people encourage us to judge white supremacists based on the actions of a few white supremacist lunatics, which I believe is much more to the point.

Point number two is bigoted because it judges people who collect benefits guaranteed by law as lazy moochers, saying they don’t do any work while they collect those benefits.  Although it allows that Social Security beneficiaries “worked for” the money, the air quotes imply they didn’t really work.

Saying you never hear that welfare is running out of money is just being willfully ignorant.  If you haven’t heard that welfare is running out of money, you’re trying not to hear it, or you’re conveniently forgetting you heard it.  It’s a constant refrain with the small-government conservatives.  I hear politicians say “we’re broke” or “we can’t afford it” all the time when they talk about cutting benefits.

two things | 4:05 pm CDT
Category: yet another rant | Tags: ,
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The first 12 tweets I read this morning and my reactions to them, for no reason whatsoever:

@brookingsinst: “Empirical evidence rules out high and rising inequality as a cause of the Arab Spring uprisings. Was the Arab Spring a black-swan event?” I wish I knew more about the Arab Spring uprising, but my first thought is: When people take to the streets in large numbers, inequality is typically the motivator, so I distrusted this tweet immediately and I didn’t bother reading the linked report.

@AFP “Stephen Hawking’s funeral will take place in Cambridge, close to Gonville and Caius College where the British scientist worked for more than 50 years.” This tweet made me feel guilty because I still haven’t read A Brief History of Time. It’s been on my TBR pile for years, but I haven’t summoned up enough courage yet to dive in.

@chrishayes: “This is sci-fi-future-dystopia-level creepy” with a link to a YouTube video titled “Local TV forced to denouce ‘one-sided news’ by America’s largest media company” which shows local news anchors all parroting an identical disclaimer about biased reporting and a promise to do their best to be unbiased, now that they’re all owened by the Sinclair media group. I wasn’t especially creeped out by this because television news has been so sensational or so bland and has been reported by identical-looking Ken and Barbie bots for so long that I stopped watching it years ago. And the sci-fi dystopia? It’s here, Chris. We’re living in it.

@charlesbblow: “LOL…” followed by a link to a story in Cosmopolitan titled, “Stacey Dash Withdraws from California Congressional Race.” No reaction because I don’t know who Stacey Dash is or why her withdrawal from a congressional race would spark mirth in Charles M. Blow’s heart. Wait, I do have a reaction: I’m glad to see Charles M. Blow happy. He doesn’t LOL enough on Twitter.

@FoxNews: “A little girl celebrated finishing up two and a half years of chemotherapy treatment by ringing a special bell created for such purposes.” The tweet is accompanied by a photo of a child wearing a t-shirt with “I DID IT!” printed across the front and she is in fact ringing a brass bell, but there is no link to a story. It’s just a bit of fluff you’re supposed to re-tweet or favorite because who doesn’t like good news about kids? And a re-tweet or a favorite puts the FoxNews icon in more Twitter feeds, or is that being too cynical? I don’t think so. I think lazy fluff like this deserves the full force of my cynicism. You’re welcome.

@iwriteallday: “I am still laughing about this” followed by three laughing emojis and a retweeted story from the New York Post, “JUST IN: @PageSix sources confirm Sanaa Lathan was the actress who bit Beyonce.” I’ve seen this story referenced many dozens of times over the past couple of days but apparently I am not enough of a Beyonce fan to understand why it would be funny that someone bit her.

@aravosis: “Retweet if you’d like to know whether the @NRA has been coopted by Vladimir Putin.” I would, but I frankly doubt that retweeting this tweet will satisfy my curiosity. I did not retweet.

@chicagotribune: “Man in wheelchair robbed of cellphone at Blue Line station on Near West Side” with a link to a story titled “Man accused of robbing man in …” and what looks like a mug shot. Is it a mug shot of the robber? Don’t know, didn’t click on the link because if I read every story about every petty theft in Chicago, I’d lose my mind.

@thedweck: “‘Taylor!’ *everyone turns around*” and a retweet of a post from @phillipindc: “The White House has released this photo of Trump with White House spring interns. Diversity this ain’t.” Of the 91 interns, two appear to be African-American and one, maybe two could be Asian (it’s a very small photo, so it’s hard to tell). Is it unusual that the two African-Americans are together in the corner?

@cmclymer: “When you put on pantyhose and don’t realize until 10 minutes into the ride to your destination that there’s a hole in the calf. How did I miss that?” I can’t speak to the pantyhose thing, never having worn them, but I’ve gone all morning with my underpants on backwards and noticed only after I hunted around for the fly for a solid minute on my potty break.

@zachweiner: “Dance like no one is looking! *dances while shoplifting*” No reaction. Just repeating it here because I thought it was funny.

@ppppolls: “He won Vice President twice Irene I hope that doesn’t trigger you” in response to a tweet from @obzerve51: “that poll is the stupidest god damn thing I have ever seen. Biden could not win dog catcher.” I get such a kick out of snark when it’s so obviously deserved, even needed. I mean, a statement like “Biden could not win dog catcher” is so stupidly false that it begs for snark.

tweet and response | 8:06 am CDT
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Sunday, March 18th, 2018

The best weekend things:

Drinking 63 cups of boiled coffee: I drink one, sometimes (but rarely) two cups of coffee a day, because being jittery at work hinders more than it helps me.  I make the coffee for B and I drink a cup in the five minutes or so I have after finishing my morning chores and putting on clothes, mostly just to fill the time and because it’s there, but during the week I mostly drink tea.  Early Grey.  Hot.

But on the weekend I like almost nothing else more than making a big pot of coffee first thing after getting up, and drinking three or four cups while I read a book or scroll through Twitter or type up drivel like this.  And it doesn’t make me jittery.  There must be some way to explain that, but I don’t know it and honestly I don’t care enough to dig into it.

Likewise, I have no idea why I especially enjoy drinking coffee that’s been sitting on the burner for hours until it’s acquired a satisfyingly metallic tang that reminds me of sucking on the end of a nine-volt battery.  I know that makes me some kind of freak but it’s my very favorite kind of home-brewed coffee.

The best weekend things | 10:44 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, March 17th, 2018

As I watched the sun rise the other day, enjoying the warmth of its golden rays I thought, “If I was doing this on the moon right now, my face would be melting. “

Melted | 12:24 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Scooter the cat shows affection to Barb: He snuggles up against her chest and buries his face in her neck.

Scooter shows affection to me: He scratches my knee to get my attention and when I reach out to pat his head, he turns around and shows me his butthole, hoisting it high in the air so I can get a good look.

scooter | 8:15 am CDT
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Someone cut the cheese in the elevator we took down from the top floor of the parking garage Wednesday morning.  Whatever he ate must’ve died inside him because that elevator still reeked by the time it climbed up to our floor and we got into it.  All the way down B whispered under her breath, “Please don’t stop, please don’t stop, please don’t stop.”  She was terrified someone would get on and think one of us had done the dirty.  I wasn’t as worried, but I don’t like taking credit for other people’s handiwork, so it’s just as well the elevator didn’t stop to pick anybody else up.

stinky cheese | 8:00 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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A coworker was very alarmed to learn that my ears have been ringing non-stop for the past twenty years.

When I overheard him mention he’s been losing sleep because one of his ears won’t stop ringing and he couldn’t figure out why, I thought I’d rib him a little, throwing in my two cents by saying, “Oh, that’s called just getting old.” He wanted to know what I meant by that.  “My ears ring all the time,” I said.  “They’ve been ringing for years.”

“Wait, what?  Not literally for years, right?”

Oh shit.

“Well, yes.  Literally, for years.  It’s called tinnitus.”

So then he wanted to know what the ringing sounded like (like when your ears ring after a loud concert) and did I have it in just one ear, like he did (no, in both ears), and exactly how many years was I talking about?  I couldn’t answer that last one without going back to my medical records, but when I told him I remembered joking about it with a friend who also had tinnitus back in 1998, he damn near cried.  I felt pretty bad about that.  I only meant to crack a joke about falling apart as we get older, you know, as you do.  Based on his reaction, I would guess he’s still too young to have the gallows humor most people develop after their 50th birthday.

Ringing | 7:28 am CDT
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Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Let me tell you about one of the fun things we did on the boat. A guy named Travis McElroy hosted a sing-along on the main stage on Thursday night. I’d never heard of Travis before this cruise but a sing-along sounded fun, especially as it was billed as a Disney sing-along. Turned out Travis had a couple hundred song videos from Disney cartoons on his laptop which he projected onto the big screen of the main stage. It sounded like a great idea, but the technology wasn’t entirely with him at the beginning. The opening number was Part Of Your World from the cartoon The Little Mermaid. The video was working fine, but there was no audio the first time he tried to get it going, so he stopped it, which made the audience go “AWWWW!” It didn’t work the second time, either, but that didn’t stop the audience from singing the first couple lines of the song before Travis talked them into stopping while he fiddled with the computer a bit longer. Third time is usually the charm, right? Wrong. He still had video but no audio, and the audience wasn’t going to wait any longer. When Travis realized they were going to sing the song with or without him, he grabbed a microphone and joined us in an a capella version, which was pretty wonderful.

Eventually he figured out the technical glitch and the rest of the sing-along went even better than that. Travis invited other members of the on-board talent to join him on the stage to sing their favorite tunes. The last guy was Jim Boggia, a singer-songwriter from the east coast who chose When You Wish Upon A Star as his favorite song, and when I say “favorite,” I can’t convey just how much he liked this without mentioning that he was wearing a light blue suit jacket spangled with white stars and a matching pair of pants. He provided his own music instead of singing along karaoke-style to a video, coaxing as sweet a verision of the song as I’ve ever heard from a ukelele he held in the crook of his arm. The audience ate it up.

There were lots of other excellent musical performances on the cruise, but the sing-along was probably the most fun.

sing-along | 8:33 am CDT
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Chem trails.  One of the cab drivers we ran into in San Diego spent fifteen minutes or so telling us about how chem trails were controlling the weather over the city.

Have you ever heard of this conspiracy theory? When weather conditions are right, trails of water vapor condense behind aircraft.  Some nutjobs think these are trails of chemicals the government is clandestinely slipping into the gas tanks of commercial aircraft.  Other nutjobs believe military aircraft that have been converted into high-altitude cropdusters are spraying chemicals into the sky.  The reasons for this seem to be as varied, but the one I like best is that the government is spraying mood-altering stuff that turns us all into sheeple, to make it easier for them to manipulate us.  As if Twitter and Facebook aren’t already doing a bang-up job.

We listened politely to our cabbie’s weirdness for five minutes or so, then I changed the subject by asking a question about the neighborhood we were in. He answered, then went right back to chem trails. He was really into it. The idea seemed to appeal to him in a very visceral way.  I might’ve been worried about where he was taking us, but luckily we were circling our destination when he started talking crazy talk.

I don’t run into these conspiracy whackos too often, but when it happens my reaction is immediate, like suddenly coming across a snake.  It’s all I can do not to jump and run away.  There’s one exception: I talked with a couple of guys who believed the moon shot was faked.  I was so utterly gobsmacked by the idea that real, sentient human beings could somehow believe something so outlandish that I talked to them as long as they kept talking.

sheeple | 8:32 am CDT
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Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Here’s a somewhat strange, wonderful, cool thing that happened to me just thing morning: I was flipping through my Facebook notifications while waiting for the coffee to brew and among the usual likes and comments from my more familiar Facebook friends I saw one in particular that stood out: Hari Kondabolu liked one of my comments and replied to it.

Hari Kondabolu is, among other things, a stand-up comedian whose performances are hilariously funny to me. I stumbled across his work more or less accidentally while I was watching comedy videos on YouTube and ended up binge-watching every video of him I could find. There aren’t many comedians who I think are laugh-out-loud funny, but Hari is definitely one of them.

Not long after I watched the videos of his stand-ups, he appeared at the local comedy club. Barb thinks he’s hilarious, too, so we snagged a handful of tickets and invited Tim to go with us. All three of us were in stitches by the end of the night.

Fast-forward to last December: Hari (or maybe someone who works for Hari, but I like to think it was Hari) posted on Facebook, “Where should I tour in 2018?” I answered, “Please come back to Madison WI! We enjoyed your show so much!” I pretty much forgot about the post and my reply after that, even though he scheduled another performance at the comedy club and Barb snatched up another handful of tickets for it.

Then this morning I got a notification that Hari Kondabolu replied to my Facebook comment, and I was
like, Huh? As soon as I pulled it up I remembered, but what made it really cool was he hadn’t answered just my comment, he’d answered every comment from someone who asked him to come to their city with the dates of his performances. So not only is Hari really funny, he’s pretty cool, too.

Hari cool | 9:09 am CDT
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Sunday, February 11th, 2018

I just got over a pretty nasty bug that seemed to be hitting just about everybody I worked with. One after another, my coworkers would drop out of sight for a day or two and when they came back, they had tales of a ‘stomach flu’ that kept them on their toes. Some of them looked as though they had made a full recovery, but some of them looked like they had just come in from a thousand-mile death march through freezing rain.

It was vitally important that I didn’t get sick just now, so of course this bug got me. It got me even though I kept an arm’s length from everybody who came to talk to me, I pumped gobs of sanitizer into my hands every time I touched a door knob, and I held my breath all day long. None of that mattered to this bug. I probably couldn’t have dodged it if I’d gone to work every day in a space suit. Which I totally would have done if I had a space suit because if I had one I would wear it every chance I got.  “No, I’m not an astronaut, I’m just a nerd with a space suit.”

Lucky for me, if you can think of this as luck, I caught my bug a little more than a week ago, so I’ve had all week for this thing to go through me. And it went through me like nothing’s ever gone through me before. I’ve taken prescription laxatives that went easier on me. My stomach growled like a jungle animal, my guts wrung themselves out like a dish rag, and for the first day or two I didn’t dare wander any further than a quick trot from a toilet.

After two days my guts were empty, but if I drank anything but water or any anything that wasn’t as bland as bananas, I was just asking for trouble. After four days I would have murdered for a hamburger. Thank goodness there are these things called restaurants. We went out to eat Thursday night and I ordered a cheeseburger as thick as a city phone book (does that metaphor work anymore? I don’t care, I know what it means) and wolfed it down as if it didn’t matter whether I dumped it an hour or so later.  Turns out it didn’t matter, because I didn’t dump it. I was already on the mend.

I had only one or two relapses since then but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it beat now. I’m not constantly mapping routes to the nearest bathroom and I’m not worrying over what to eat. I went out to brunch with My Darling B Saturday morning, and we had biscuits and gravy for dinner that night and I gobbled it all up without any ill effects. No pun intended, but there it is anyway.

buggy | 9:25 am CDT
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Saturday, February 10th, 2018

I dropped a piece of toast on the floor this morning, bobbling it in midair as I was transferring it from the toaster to my plate. Picked it up, waved it around a bit, blew the germs, and trusted that the 5-second took care of the most deadly pathogens.  Buttered it, cut it in half, but didn’t eat it. By the time I finished the other piece of toast, I had spent too much time thinking about the cat hair and food spills and god knows what that had been on that floor, and I talked myself right out my faith in the five-second rule. Does this mean I’ve come to my senses or that I’m old?

When I told this story to my Mom, she responded: “Old has nothing to do with it. It’s WHAT’s been dropped. Yesterday at the library I dropped a peanut butter cup on the floor behind the counter. Imagine the army of germs dwelling back there. But it was a peanut butter cup. There was no hesitation, no fear of disease or death, I just blew on it a little and ate it.”

toast | 7:25 am CDT
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Saturday, January 6th, 2018

And now, a few words from the American president, Donald Trump:

Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.

Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.  Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everybody knows, went down in flames.  I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try).  I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!

Genius. Trump thinks becoming a “top T.V. Star” makes him a genius.

Hey, Genius, first try? Did you forget the time you ran for president 2012? How’s that memory working for you?

Actually, there aren’t a lot of “VERY successful” businessmen who know how to bankrupt the casinos they own, so maybe Trump is sort of, like, really smart.

Here’s what I think is really smart: Saying Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a hoax perpetrated on the American public.  Nice going, genius.

like wow | 9:04 am CDT
Category: random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags:
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Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

While I was taking a shower the other day I sneezed and a two inch long greyish-black booger came shooting out of my nose and landed in the far end of the bathtub. I actually felt it pop out, as if a chunk of my head suddenly broke off, and I watched it go flying away.

I couldn’t help but stare at it for a minute or so.  It was so large I half-expected it to crawl toward the drain under its own power, like something from The Upsidedown.  It never made a move, though, so I figured it was safe to point the shower head at it to wash it down the drain.  I hope I haven’t made a terrible mistake.

booger | 7:00 am CDT
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Monday, January 1st, 2018

I dreamed a friend asked me to be the official photographer at his wedding.  I said sure, I’d be honored. Then my friend asked another guy to also be the official wedding photographer.  Not only that, he paid the other guy 500 dollars.  When I asked my friend why the other guy got 500 dollars, he told me the other guy was just someone he knew from the office, but I was his friend and I was doing it as a favor to him.  I said no, I wasn’t, and got the hell outta Dodge.

pro bono | 8:33 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, dreams
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Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

If the furnace goes out today, I just want to say it’s been nice, because that’ll be the end of me.  The rescue team will probably find me frozen solid in my chair at this keyboard, icicles dangling from my eyebrows like Jack Torrence.  I’m not even going to try to get to the corner store and hang out there all day because frankly I doubt I’d survive to walk the quarter-mile or so.

As usual, I’m exaggerating a tiny bit.  It’s cold here today, about two below zero this morning, but not as cold as it gets in, say, Fairbanks, Alaska, which I hear is a lovely place but one in which I don’t think I’d survive for long.  Cold weather is not my friend.  I cannot abide feeling cold.  I don’t know how I’ve lived in Wisconsin for as long as I have.  Come to think of it, I don’t know why I didn’t move to Arizona after I retired from the military, when I had the chance to be warm for the rest of my life.

Actually, I do know why: Because Arizona is hot, not warm, and if there’s one thing I can’t abide more than being cold, it’s being hot.  I’m comfortable only when it’s about seventy-two degrees out, sunny, and maybe forty percent humidity.  The problem with my condition is, the ideal place for me to live is a terrarium.

 

shiver me timbers | 7:26 am CDT
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Monday, December 25th, 2017

I had to look up the word “unabashed” today.  My dictionary told me the definition of “unabashed” was “not abashed,” which is Webster’s way of saying, “look up the word ‘abash,’ you dolt.”

Abash: to destroy the self-possession or self-confidence of; disconcert; see embarrass

So not only was Webster’s telling me to look up “abash,” they were trolling me, too.

Well-played, Webster’s.  Well-played.

abashed | 6:30 am CDT
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Sunday, December 24th, 2017

I’m seeing a whole lot of dumb shit about Santa on the internet:

Worst was a explanation for how Santa visits so many houses in a single night.  Explanation included a lot of noise about velocity and crap you would have heard in physics class if you’d been paying attention. (Props to anybody who was awake and did pay attention.  Wish I’d been one of you.) This is a dumbshit thing to say because SANTA IS MAGICAL.  He does not travel from house to house at any speed.  He squeezes his fat old elf butt and his magical sack of presents down your chimney no matter how small it is.  He lingers long enough to carefully stack the presents under the tree and stuff them in the stockings and eat the cookies and drink the milk everybody leaves out for him, and then he levitates up the chimney by laying a finger aside his nose.  And he does that in every single house where children believe in Santa at exactly the same time: MIDNIGHT. Can’t convince me there’s no magic involved in that.

A local sheriff’s office will track Santa across Wisconsin, starting at nine o’clock this evening. What?  Who doesn’t know Santa comes to your house at midnight?  Duh.

NORAD continues to claim they can track Santa.  Using what, exactly?  Like radar bounces off a magical elf?  I don’t think so.

dumb shit about santa | 9:19 am CDT
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Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

From my keyboard in front of the window here at Drivel HQ, I can see it’s snowing at the lazy rate of about 6 snowflakes per second.  At this rate, it will take ten thousand years for us to have a white Christmas.

(That’s a wild-ass guess. I did not do the math.)

slow snowfall | 10:01 am CDT
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Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Mike Pence is a colossal suck-up.  But don’t take my word for it: Here he is, in his own words, sucking up like the suckingest thing that ever sucked:

Trump: Mike, would you like to say a few words?

Pence: I appreciate it, Mr. President. As I told you last night, shortly after the Senate vote: I know I speak on behalf of the entire cabinet, and millions of Americans, when I say congratulations and thank you, thank you for seeing, through the course of this year, an agenda that truly is restoring this country. You described it very well, Mr. President: from the outset of this administration, we’ve been rebuilding our military, putting the safety and security of the American people first; you’ve restored American credibility on the world stage; we’re standing with our allies; we’re standing up to our enemies.  But you promised economic renewal at home.  You said we could  make this economy great again, and you promised to roll back regulations, and you signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any American president in history. You’ve unleashed American energy, you’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records, but you promised the American people in that campaign a year ago that you would deliver historic tax cuts and it would be a middle-class miracle, and in just a short period of time that promise will be fulfilled.  And I just I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here.  Because of your leadership, Mr. President, and because of the strong support of the leadership  in the congress of the United States, you’re delivering on that middle class miracle.  You’ve actually got the congress to do, as you said, what they couldn’t do with ANWR for forty years.  You’ve got the congress to do with tax cuts for working families and American businesses what they haven’t been able to do for thirty-one years.  And you got congress to do what they couldn’t do for seven years in repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare.  I know you would have me also acknowledge the people around this table, Mr. President.  I want to thank the leaders in congress once again for their partnership in this.  I want to thank your outstanding team: your secretary of the treasury, Steven Mnuchin; for Gary Cohen; for Ivanka Trump; for your great legislative team; all the members of this cabinet who partnered to drive your vision forward over the past six months after you laid out that vision for tax reform.  But mostly, Mr. President, I’ll end where I began: I want to thank you, Mr. President.  I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of, and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of  your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more, and we are are making America great again. Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.

Trump: Thank you, Mike, that was very nice, I appreciate that, thank you.

That is some primo ass-kissing right there. I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t roll their eyes at a display of brown-nosing as obvious and ham-fisted as that. And the whole time Pence was groveling, Trump sat with his arms folded tightly across his chest, clearly channeling Benito Mussolini.

suck up | 9:39 pm CDT
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Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

When you can’t think of anything to write, post a photo of a cute kitten:

sparky | 9:26 pm CDT
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Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

I can’t walk into the kitchen without two cats following me. Three when Boo is hungry (not so much these days). The other two are always hungry, or at least they’re always interested. If I stop in front of the kitchen cupboard where we keep the kitty kibble (now that’s a lot of alliteration!), they swarm around my feet and I have to be careful not to trip over them or, if it’s early and I’m still having trouble focusing, just stepping on them. Which I’ve done. It pisses them off, but it hasn’t stopped them from swarming my feet.

That’s really all there is to our relationship: I’m the guy who feeds them. Or in Scooter’s case, I’m also the guy who pats his butt. He’s one of those cats.  Their only other interest in me is incidental, like if I happen to be around when they want to get into a room behind a closed door; then they think I’m there to open it for them.  They’re usually disappointed when they believe that.

feeder of cats | 6:30 am CDT
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I woke myself up from my dream last night by spitting on myself.  First time that’s ever happened.

In my dream, I’d dropped a drinking glass while I was standing in line on the sidewalk outside a movie theater.  I picked up the biggest pieces and threw them in a trash can some distance away, but there were several smaller pieces that could really hurt anyone who accidentally stepped on them barefoot, so I went back, picked them up one at a time and put them in my mouth to carry them to the trash.  It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

When I got to the trash can, I stuck my tongue out as far as it would go and gently peeled each of the pieces of glass of it and let them fall into the trash.  Then, because I’d just been carrying glass in my mouth, I hawked up as much spit as I could, rolled it around on my tongue, and spit, thinking that would clear my mouth of any stray shards of glass.

Funny thing: When I spat in my dream, I also spat in my bed.  Woke myself up from a sound sleep.  Had a great big loogie stuck to my face.  Not a great way to wake up.

hawking | 5:42 am CDT
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Monday, December 18th, 2017

PERSIFLAGE (PER suh flazh)

from the French persifler, “to banter”

Light banter; idle, bantering talk; a frivolous style of treating a subject – The New Century Dictionary 1927

A light, flippant style – Funk & Wagnalls Practical Standard Dictionary 1942

852. RIDICULE, derision, irrision, raillery, mockery, banter, persiflage, bandinage, twit, chaff; quiz, quizzing etc. v.: joke, jest; asteism; irony, sarcasm; sardonic grin or smile, snicker or snigger, smirk, grin, leer, fleer; scoffing etc. – Roget’s New International Thesaurus 1956

‘whistle-talk’. Irresponsible talk, of which the hearer is to make what he can without the right to suppose that the speaker means what he seems to say; the treating of serious things as trifles and of trifles as serious. ‘Talking with one’s tongue in one’s cheek’ may serve as a parallel. Hannah more, quoted in the OED, describes French p.l as ‘the cold compound of irony, irreligion, selfishness, and sneer’. Frivolity and levity, combined with gentle ‘leg-pulling’, are perhaps rather the ingredients of the compound as now conceived, with airy as its stock adjective. Yeats said of it that it was ‘the only speech of educated men that expresses a deliberate enjoyment of words. … Such as it is, all our comedies are made out of it.’ – Fowler’s Modern English Usage, 2nd Edition 1965

frivolous or lightly derisive talk or manner of treating a subject – Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary 1969

persiflage *bandiage, raillery bantering or banter, chaffing or chaff: ridiculing or ridicule, twitting, deriding or derision – Webster’s New Dictionary of Synonyms 1973

882. BANTER, bandiage, persiflage, pleasantry, fooling, fooling around, kidding or kidding around, raillery, rallying, sport, good-natured banter, harmless teasing; ridicule 967; chaff, twit, jest, joke, jape, josh; jive; exchange, give-and-take – Roget’s 4th International Thesaurus 1977

persiflage | 6:30 am CDT
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Saturday, December 16th, 2017

I’ve got to stop reading Twitter first thing in the morning.

One of the first things I saw when I flipped through the stream of comments this morning was a phrase in Russian: “Everything’s much worse than it was yesterday.”

My first response to seeing this was a self-satisfied frisson of joy: “Hey! I understood that!” Because it’s been a few years since I’ve read a phrase in Russian that I understood from beginning to end without grabbing a dictionary.

My second response was: “I’ll bet that’s a phrase they’ve been saying for a while,” because it sounds like something Russians would say almost every day when, for instance, old friends ran into each other in a bread line.

My third and final response was: “What a perfect phrase for Twitter,” because if there’s one place on the internet you can go to feel as though everything is worse than it was yesterday, Twitter is the place.

The next thing I saw that sent me to a bad place was a video of Senator John Kennedy interviewing Matthew Spencer Peterson, one of the five nominees submitted to the Senate as a candidate for US District Court judge.  Peterson’s testimony was a train wreck.  He couldn’t answer a single question, and the two times he tried to snow Kennedy under with a blizzard of verbiage about his job at the election commission, he hemmed and hawed in fits and starts so badly that I don’t know why he wasn’t heckled, or at least laughed at by the people in the visitor’s gallery.

I’ve lots seen excerpts of congressional testimony before but never watched a senate review from beginning to end, so I can’t say this kind of debacle isn’t par for the course; maybe it happens all the time. I’d like to believe, though, that candidates such as Petersen, who will become federal judges for the rest of their lives if confirmed by the senate, have been thoroughly vetted by someone, rather than being chosen by how ardently they campaigned for Trump in the last election.  Not that I’m implying that’s the case here.  Okay, I am.  That’s exactly what I’m implying.

Just for fun, here’s a transcript of Petersen’s testimony:

Senator John Kennedy: Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?

Matthew Spencer Petersen: (raises hand)

K: Have you ever tried a jury trial?

P: No.

K:  Civil?

P: No.

K: Criminal?

P: No.

K: Bench?

P: No.

K: State or Federal court?

P: I have not.

K: Have you ever taken a deposition?

P: I was involved in taking depositions when I was an associate … when I first came out of law school.  [“I was involved in” is pretty common double-talk when padding a resume; it usually means “I was at the meeting where the subject was discussed.” In this case I’d guess it most probably means “I had to proof-read the depositions.”]

K: How many depositions?

P: I would, ah, I would be struggling to remember.

K:  Less than 10?

P: Yes.

K: Less than 5?

P: Probably somewhere in that range.

K: Have you ever tried taking a deposition by yourself?

P: Ah, I believe, no.

K: Have you ever argued a motion in state court?

P: I have not.

K: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?

P: No.

K: When’s the last time you read the federal rules of civil procedure?

P: The federal rules of civil procedure? I, ah, in my current position I obviously don’t need to stay as, ah, y’know, ah, invested in those on a day-to-day basis but I do try to stay up to speed. We do have, at the Federal Election Commission, roughly 70 attorneys … [Petersen continues to ramble, badly, haltingly, for thirty seconds, avoiding the question.]

K: I’m sorry to interrupt you but we’re only given 5 minutes for five of you, so: When’s the last time you read the federal rules of evidence?

P: The federal rules of evidence all the way through? Well, comprehensively, would’ve been in law school. Obviously, I would have been involved in, when I was an associate … [Continues to ramble again, winding down the clock.]

K: Well, as a trial judge you’re going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert Standard is?

P: Ah, Senator Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal, but I would happy to take a closer look at that.  That is not something that I’ve had to contend with. [*eye-roll* Petersen is testifying before the senate and answered a question with, “I’ll have to get back to you on that?” Which is another way of saying, “I don’t know.”  He used thirty-one words to say “I don’t know.”] [By the way, the Daubert Standard is a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of expert witnesses’ testimony.]

K: Do you know what a motion in limine is?

P: Yes, ah, I have, and, again, my background is not in litigation [rambles for a full minute about his job at the election commission before Kennedy interrupts him]

K: I’ve read your resume. Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?

P: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition here at the table. [A motion of limine is a motion, discussed outside the presence of the jury, to request that certain testimony be excluded.  Full disclosure: I have no training in law.  I googled this stuff.  But these questions, especially this one, seem to be pretty basic questions of law.  I could be wrong.  These could be really esoteric, arcane rules that lawyers rarely encounter.  I sort of doubt that, though.]

K: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?

P: I’ve heard of it, but I … [Stops dead.] [A Younger abstention is used by a court to refuse to hear a case if hearing the case would potentially intrude upon the powers of another court.]

K: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?

P: No.

Federal courts use the Pullman abstention to avoid decisions of federal constitutional questions when the case may be disposed of on questions of state law.  Again, I have no training in law, but the honorable Mister Petersen has and, as he’s been nominated to become a federal court judge, I would’ve felt a bit more confident about him if I thought maybe he’d at least googled the most basic questions of law he might have been expected to answer.  I mean, it’s not like he didn’t know questions like this would come up.

Finally, George Carlin would love this: In a meeting at the Centers for Disease Control, CDC officials who oversee the budget have told policy analysts there are seven words or phrases they may not use when writing any official documents: those words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”

This would be laughable if it weren’t so dire.  Honestly, when I was a young airman learning about Soviet oppression from expelled dissidents, we had a pretty good laugh about this same exact kind of thing, mostly because we believed we were part of a society that would never tolerate this kind of behavior from its government.

And yet, here we are.  Writers of future CDC publications must find a way to write about fetuses without using the actual word “fetus,” a ham-fistedly obvious way to get them to use the term “unborn children.”  And there is apparently no such thing as a transgendered person now.  I’m guessing there’s no politically-correct term to use instead of “transgender,” but I haven’t looked.  The ban against “entitlement” is odd, as right-wingers use that one all the time.  I’d have thought it would be a shoo-in.  But the loss of “science-based” and “evidence-based” is especially egregious.  As a replacement for “science-based,” managers suggested “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”  In other words, whatever you want to believe.

Everything’s much worse than it was yesterday.

much worse | 8:36 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Thursday, December 14th, 2017

The lights are on once again in the kitchen of Our Humble O’Bode.  About two weeks ago, I started a weekend project to install track lighting in the kitchen, a project that never got any farther than taking the old light off the ceiling and pulling the wires out of the junction box.  That’s when all the insulation crumbled and all I was left with was bare wires dangling from the ceiling.

I am the rankest of amateurs when it comes to electricity.  I’m pretty confident I can swap one light fixture for another, but when it comes to bare wires dangling from the ceiling, I’d be betting my life if I tried to fix that.  So I called an electrician, who turned out to be a guy about my age named Tom.  Tom made a frowny face when I showed him the dangling wires.  I figured that was a frown that was going to cost us three, maybe four hundred dollars.

Tom got his ladder and poked at the dangling wires, pulling one and then another all the way out of the ceiling without checking first to see if they were hot, which I thought was pretty trusting.  I mean, I told him the circuit was off, but he didn’t know me from Jeffrey Dahmer.  For all he knew, I’ve got a whole basement full of fried electricians stacked like cordwood.

It only took him a half-hour to clear out the old, burnt-out wires and replace them with shiny new wires.  “Do you have the light fixture you were going to install?” he asked me.  I fetched the track lights from the basement and, after looking them over, he wired them up, hung the track on the ceiling, and installed the lights.  And for all that, he charged me only two hundred bucks, way less than I thought he would.

No more gloomy kitchen!  In fact, the kitchen is about the ungloomiest room in the house now.  There’s enough candlepower blazing from the three new lamp heads to make us want to put on sunglasses.  Luckily, there’s a dimmer switch, so we can turn it down a bit until our bat-like eyes get used to the glare.

fiat lux | 9:06 pm CDT
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Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

This was kind of weird: I dreamed I found Paula Poundstone stuck in a paper tube, the kind paper towels are rolled up on.  The tube was shoved into the middle of a box full of packing peanuts, and I had to pull a handful of wadded-up plastic wrapping out of the end of the tube to find her, but when I did, she popped her head right out!  She took the cup of tea I offered her after pulling her arms out of the tube.  We had a nice chat while we sipped our tea.  When we were done, she slid back down into the paper tube and I packed her back into the box.

I don’t even want to know what that dream means.

tube | 7:55 pm CDT
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Saturday, December 9th, 2017

Flashback to December 15, 2005, when I answered the phone in the Credit Services department of the now-defunct AnchorBank in downtown Madison:

I get a lot of strange requests, but none stranger than the one I got today.

“How do I remove a child from the screen?” a caller asked me. No hi, how are you, no lead-in at all, just that. For all I knew, she was with the Child Extermination Division of Orkin Pest Control.

My gut reaction was to hold the receiver at arm’s length and ask, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” That kind of response doesn’t demonstrate effective telephonic skills, however, so I took a deep breath, counted to three, then said, “I’m not sure I understand your question.”

“I’m working on the family screen,” she explained rather urgently, “and when I hit ‘enter’ to remove a child, I get an error message saying I’m not allowed to do that.”

Ah, a computer question. What’s really weird is that I felt guilty about not being able to answer her question. “Is this really a question for the Credit Services Department?”

“Credit Services?” she asked. “I’ve got the wrong number!”

   

extermination | 9:34 am CDT
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We’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale for a week or so. I think My Darling B wanted to binge-watch the whole think in a weekend, but it’s a hard show to watch, or at least it is for me. I can watch one episode a night at most.

The story is set in a dystopia that seemed so far-fetched when I read the book in college.  Men are in control of everything; women aren’t allowed to do anything but be wives, aren’t barred by law from owning anything at all; they can’t even have money.  When I read that so many years ago I thought: What if?  As I watch it now I think: When?  How much longer have we got before we’re living in that world?  Is it even months away?  Or here’s a crazy thought:  What if we’re already living there?  What if our society is at the tipping point the story started at, it’s just that the other shoe hasn’t fallen yet?  Now that I look at it from my present-day perspective, when men are being called out every day for the abusive behavior they’ve been allowed to get away with for years, it doesn’t seem to be such a far-fetched story at all.

We have only a few more episodes until the end of the first season.  B seems to think it will end well for June, the main character.  I’m pessimistic about June’s chances, particularly after I heard there will be a second season.

nolite te bastardes carborundurum | 6:53 am CDT
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Friday, December 8th, 2017

So the umpty-millionth congressman, and so far they have all been men, has decided to resign effective immediately from that august body because he repeatedly asked at least two of the women on his staff to bear his children. Not in a lewd and lascivious way, of course: he asked them to lend him their wombs under contract, offering one of the women five million dollars if she got the job done. In the inevitable non-apology he issued following the announcement that he would resign, he claimed not to realize such a proposition might possibly make his staff members feel awkward or uncomfortable.

I can’t contemplate a subject like this without wondering about the context. How do you bring up a subject like this with the people in your employ? Were they standing around the water cooler in a lull after discussing the outcome of last weekend’s game when he blurted out, “speaking of being a good sport, have you considered the prospect of surrogacy?” Or did it come up even sooner than that, like at the job interview? “You know, this job comes with many perks, one of them being that you become eligible to receive millions of dollars in exchange for giving birth to my offspring.” Maybe he simply called them into his office one at a time to sound them out in a short interview:

“Janet, you’re a woman.”

“um. Yes?”

“Are you planning to get pregnant in the next twelve to eighteen months?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“Because I mean if you weren’t going to be using your womb in the immediate future, I could make it worth your while to bless me and my wife, who is totally up for this, with a child.”

“um.”

“Or two. Bonus if you deliver twins.”

“Yeah, I think I hear my phone ringing.”

Surrogate | 8:31 pm CDT
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Thursday, December 7th, 2017

I was shocked to notice there was snow on the ground this morning. Not a lot of it. Mostly the leftover stuff that the wind swirled into the places where the wind wouldn’t be able to blow it out into the open again. And there was snow blown into long, curlicued shapes on the thin skin of ice that formed on the Yahara River.

I didn’t notice any other snow on the way to work, and forgot about it completely until I went for a walk during my lunch break. I walked across the open field of the park behind the office building and notice there was still quite a bit more snow in the grass that I would’ve thought there might be at noon on a sunny day, even thought it was well below freezing and the ground was hard as rock.

This shouldn’t shock me. We live in Wisconsin. I was born here and grew up in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, where snow is more than a seasonal effect, it’s practically a landscape, like hills and valleys, lakes and rivers, ice and snow. Nobody who lived through the winters in Marquette, Michigan, could possibly conceive of a world without snowbanks up to your eyeballs any more than someone from Florida could conceive of a world without an ocean.

Even so, I was still a tad bit upset there is finally snow on the round, where it will stay until February, possibly March. There is no denying it any longer. We will be bundled up for many months.

frosty | 8:31 pm CDT
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Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

I had to apologize for jabbing B in the ribs last night. Scooter was sleeping smack up against my back part of the night, which I don’t mind if he lets me have enough of the covers to keep me warm. It’s when my butt sticks out that I have to object. Or when he lifts a leg and starts noisily cleaning his butthole, as he did last night. I don’t see why I should have to put up with that, so I gave him an elbow in the ribs. He kept on licking. I gave him another jab. He didn’t even break rhythm; kept on cleaning. The next time I put a lot of weight into it. I wanted to either stop him or pop him right up out of bed like a ripe zit, only my aim was a little off, as it will be when you’re half asleep, and I jabbed My Darling B in the ribs. Hard. Really hard. She took it well; just rolled over and didn’t yell or scream at all. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had. I thought maybe she never woke up, because one of her superpowers is being able to sleep through anything, but when I asked her about it this evening she said, “Oh yeah I remember that!” And that’s when I had to apologize.

delbow | 9:26 pm CDT
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Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

In my dream, I was an astronaut on my way to Jupiter with two other guys.  We were stopped at a space station about halfway there to get out of the capsule for a while and stretch our legs.

The capsule was about the size of a canoe and it appeared to be made of the kind of cheap fiberglass you can shine a light through.  One of the guys fixing it was doing that so he could find the cracks more easily.

I didn’t want to get back into the capsule ever again.  The astronaut in command of the mission to Jupiter, who reminded me a bit of Apollo astronaut  Frank Borman – he wasn’t Borman; he didn’t even look like Borman; but for some reason that’s who I thought he reminded me of – was trying to convince me to get back into the capsule with some “importance of the mission” talk.  I wasn’t buying it.

But eventually I did get back into the capsule, although it wasn’t easy.  I had to wedge my butt into the space between the bulkhead and the commander’s seat, wiggle a lot until I slipped through and settled in to the narrow space between his seat and the wall, and fold my arms across my chest to fit into my own chair. And that was only after dropping a couple of downers with a glass of water so I wouldn’t get claustrophobic. Not exactly what I imagined being an astronaut would be like.

Then, off to Jupiter!

Capsule | 9:16 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel, dreams
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Monday, December 4th, 2017

I am fresh out of underpants.  Sorry if that’s too much information, but it’s at the front of my mind tonight.  Actually, I am on the cusp of no longer being fresh out of underpants, if that makes sense.  I was *fresh* out of underpants at five o’clock this morning after I grabbed my last pair of clean underpants out of my dresser drawer on my way to the shower.  I remember thinking, “I’ve got to wash more underpants,” and then not thinking about underpants at all until just after I finished eating dinner.  Suddenly: Underpants!  But we were watching Drunk History and that’s something that just cannot be interrupted, so I stayed parked on the sofa enjoying Drunk History while at the same time trying to remember that I really had to wash my underpants before I went to bed.  And I did!  I remembered!  I washed my underpants, maybe a dozen of them, and they’re in the clothes drier as I type these words.  And so are my jammies, which will have to be dry before I can put them on, so I can’t go to be until the clothes drier finishes doing its thing about an hour from now.  So that’s why I’m writing a blog post that’s basically the word “underpants” repeated over and over.  Trying to fill time.  Welp.  Guess I’ll go pester the cat now.  Kay, bye.

pants | 9:11 pm CDT
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Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

I saw a meme on Facebook last night that was, according to the results of a fast Google search, a shortened version of a 2007 book called 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School, Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education, by conservative columnist and radio host Charlie Sykes. The meme listed only 11 rules, probably because, like most Facebook memes, somebody shortened it for quick and easy digestion.  Whoever shortened it also got the source wrong; it said, “Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a high school about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school.”  So it could be that these 11 rules are in no way like any of the 50 rules in Sykes’ book.  If so, I offer my apologies to Charlie until I get the time to read his book and compare it to the meme.  Until then, though, I couldn’t stop myself from responding to the 11 rules that supposedly nobody will ever learn in school:

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!

Way to inspire people, Charlie! This is a great way to start a list of “rules” you want everyone everywhere to learn and live by.  Who wouldn’t look at a rule like DON’T EXPECT FAIRNESS and not feel a surge of hope for the future and a desire to go on, besides practically everybody?

Strictly speaking, though, Charlie got it wrong.  Life is absolutely fair.  Life makes no judgments at all.  If Life were biased and took into consideration how you lived, then people who dedicated their lives to helping others would all live long and happy lives while wicked, selfish people would perish horribly of pestilence and rot.  It doesn’t work that way, though.  There is nothing more impartial than Life.  You’re born, you live, you die, and you get the same chance to do good or bad with your life as anybody else.  Totally fair.

If, on the other hand, Charlie’s talking about whether or not you get a fair shake in human society, and I suspect he is, that’s all about how people treat one another, which is a part of life, but not all of it.  Maybe that’s what Charlie meant:  People will not treat you fairly.  It’s not entirely wrong, but “life isn’t fair – get used to it” seems like one hell of a cynical take on that message.

I would suggest an alternative to Rule 1: Be fair with people, always. They may not always be fair to you in return, but it’s the right thing to do, and at least you’re bringing some fairness into the world.

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Charlie’s first two rules are DON’T EXPECT FAIRNESS and NOBODY CARES WHETHER YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF.  I don’t know Charlie, but if I had to form an opinion of him based on these two rules, I’d have to say he seems like kind of a cynical person.  I hope he eventually got a friend or a dog or somebody who was nice to him.

I think I get the direction Charlie’s going in: I think maybe he’s saying that doing good work leads you to feel good about yourself.  If he had said that and only that, I would have to agree with him.  However, Charlie might also be saying you don’t deserve to feel good about yourself until you do good work.  He didn’t say that exactly, but that’s how it sounds to me after “the world won’t care about your self-esteem.”

The idea that people do not care whether or not you respect yourself is, frankly, bullshit.  That’s not my experience at all, and I doubt it’s Charlie’s experience, either.  I think Charlie probably knows as well as I do that people will judge you harshly if you hate yourself.  People expect you to hold yourself in high regard.  People care very much about your self-esteem.

And this is just my opinion, but caring about other people’s feelings, whether those feelings are joy or anguish or anywhere in between, is a big part of being a decent person.  My Rule # 2 would be: Bring some compassion into the world in whatever way you can, small or large.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

This is a bald-faced lie. Some people WILL make 60K or more right out of high school. Some will already be unbelievably rich BEFORE they start high school, or junior high, or grade school.  That’s just a fact.

I’m guessing Charlie didn’t make 60K and, for some reason, he doesn’t want you to think you will, either.

Here’s my rule # 3: Don’t listen to anybody who tells you what you won’t do. In all likelihood, people who dump shit like this on you are probably still pissed they weren’t making 60K their first year out of high school.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.

“Wait until you get a boss” sounds like another way of saying “if the boss you get is anything like the boss I got, he will make you more miserable than your teacher ever did.”

I didn’t think my teachers were tough.  I’m not even sure what Charlie means by “tough.”  I thought most of my teachers were pretty great.  Some were boring, a few were jerks, but most of them were good at inspiring me to do good work, challenging me to do better work, and expecting me to do my best.  That’s not “tough.”  That’s nothing more than you would do for a good friend.  I’m not saying your teacher or your boss has to be your friend to be good; I’m saying a good teacher or a good boss will know how to inspire you.  A “tough” boss will just order you to do it.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

And the theme seems to be: Charlie had parents, teachers, and bosses who were “demanding.”

Flipping burgers for minimum wage – and it will ALWAYS be for minimum wage – will never be anything but a smelly, sweaty job nobody likes and everybody wants to get out of as soon as they can. Flip burgers if you have to, but when a real opportunity comes along, say to prepare a good meal for somebody who will appreciate it, jump on that.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

I’m in the awkward position of having to agree with this rule on a technicality, because “learn from your mistakes” is good advice. So is “don’t whine.” If Charlie had said, “If you mess up, don’t whine about it; learn from your mistakes,” I’d stand one-hundred percent in agreement with him, but the oddly specific don’t-blame-your-parents vibe gives me the feeling maybe Charlie made some parenting choices that resulted in more pushback from his kids than he thought he’d get.

I disagree with this rule on principal because it’s wrong.  Parents do lots of things that result in kids making mistakes.  Just one example: Hitting kids makes some of them think hitting kids is a thing they can do.  That’s a mistake.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

YOUR PARENTS ARE BORING BECAUSE OF ALL THEY DID FOR YOU! THINK YOU’RE COOL? YOU’RE JUST A LOUSY KID.

I hate this “rule” so much.  The clunky metaphor in the last line is bad enough, but the way Charlie wrote this rule to turn raising kids into a huge guilt trip ought to be a hanging offense.

First of all, those bills your parents paid were never the kids’ bills.  They were the parents’ bills.  Kids don’t owe parents that money.  When parents brings kids into the world, it’s entirely the parents’ duty to feed, clothe, and shelter their kids without any conditions.  There is no, “Well, okay, I’ll do this, but only if you pay me back later.”  Parents pay the bills because it’s what they’re supposed to do! 

And listening to you is not a chore, like washing clothes.  Listening to kids hatching their plans to save the world is also what parents are supposed to do.  Listen to them and talk with them to help them develop those ideas.  If they acted like it was a chore, they were doing it wrong.

Finally, at some point all kids start to act like they’re too cool for their parents.  That’s how they let their parents know they’re getting ready to hit the road.  Good parents recognize this and don’t sneer at their kids because of it.

So if your parents are boring now, chances are excellent they were always boring. You certainly didn’t make them boring any more than they are the root cause of your mistakes. Shove that in their faces next time they trot out Rule #6.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

There is so much wrong with Rule #8.  The idea that there have to be losers, for starters. You don’t have to make everything a competition to feel good about yourself and if you do, I won’t be your loser just because we both want the same thing.

I don’t know how I feel about grades, but I’m all for giving a kid as many chances as he needs to get the right answer. What’s it matter so long as he gets it right? If you think a kid should get only one chance to get the right answer, and be labeled a loser if they don’t, you’re a special kind of warped son of a bitch who needs to fuck all the way off to the other side of the universe.

As far as school bearing any resemblance to real life: Well of course it doesn’t. School is supposed to be the place where you get all the chances you need to get the right answer before you have to go face “real life.”  It’s supposed to be a place to practice for what comes after.  (Whether it is or not is an entirely different rant.)

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

What the hell does that even mean, “life is not divided into semesters?” I suppose Charlie doesn’t divide his life into weeks, either, and spend his weekends in front of the television drinking beer and watching the football game, or whatever he does for fun.

As far as “finding yourself” is concerned, I don’t even want my employer messing with my personal life. If my boss tried to give me personal advice, I’d politely tell him to mind his own goddamn business and let me get back to work.

Here’s my rule # 9: People who don’t take time off from their jobs now and then are considered workaholics who end up guzzling Maalox straight out of the bottle to control their acid reflux.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

I don’t know when these rules were written but I suspect it was before people started hovering over their laptops in coffee shops all day, making money. Kids, you may disregard rule # 10. It’s another bald-faced lie.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Two things:

Either Charlie’s a nerd and this is a warning that he’s looking forward to revenge for all the times he was pantsed, or Charlie’s not a nerd and this is a warning he’s passing along after a boss or two of his got revenge on him for pantsing them back in grade school.

Either way, I thought you were supposed to be nice to others because that’s how you would like others to behave towards you.  (I’m not sure if the Golden Rule applies to people who like it when others pick a fight with them.)  You’re a total shitheel if  the only way to get you to be nice to people is to warn you you might end up working for a person you used to treat like shit.

 

fuck your meme | 9:10 am CDT
Category: damn kids!, random idiocy, this modern world, yet another rant
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Friday, December 1st, 2017

This is not drivel. Or maybe it is, I don’t know. I’m just marking the date here. This is the date the U.S. government will vote on the tax reform bill, not that it needs a vote. The Republicans control every branch of the government, so they’ll do what they want, and they want this tax reform bill so bad it literally doesn’t matter what’s in it. It might be a knock-knock joke scribbled on a bar napkin. We don’t know. We literally don’t know, because the text of the bill hasn’t been released and the substance of the bill can’t be discerned from the news we get from any medium, be it social, radical, or mainstream. One side says it’s one thing, the other says it’s exactly the opposite thing. That’s not exaggeration. That’s what they say, and they’ve been saying it for weeks. I would say I despise them all but, as I pointed out, the Republicans are in control of every branch of government. If they wanted to, they could give us the straight dope on what’s going on, but they won’t, or they can’t, or they just don’t know. It’s hard to tell, and they’re not making it easy to figure out, so I despise them until such time as the Democrats are in charge. Then maybe I’ll despise them. But that’s then. This is now. I despise now. I would really like now to be over.

belt | 9:02 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Somebody on Twitter asked, “Are you a sock-shoe-sock-shoe person, or a sock-sock-shoe-shoe person?”

Another somebody answered, “What kind of MONSTER does sock-shoe-sock-shoe?”

Well, I am that monster.

At least I am in winter, when the thick calluses on my feet dry out if I don’t slather them in some kind of moisturizer. Usually one of the creams with a dairy cow theme. I’m currently using Bag Balm, made by the Dairy Association Co. Inc. of Lyndonville, Vermont. After rubbing a generous dollop of unguent on the heel of my foot, I quickly slip the foot into a sock so it doesn’t get on the floor or anywhere else. And then, because the balm is undoubtedly soaking through the sock, I slip my foot into a shoe to keep everything where it’s supposed to be.

And that’s how I became that monster all of Twitter feared.

monster | 7:30 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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