Monday, June 21st, 2021

If today had gone according to plan, I would have awakened this morning in
a camp site near Minocqua after spending the day before paddling a kayak around the Rainbow Flowage. Alas, dear reader, it has not gone according to plan. After weeks of rainless days and relentless heat, the weather turned Saturday night and the rain poured down on Sunday, the very day I planned to depart for my up-north getaway. I reviewed the forecast every morning and every evening last week, hoping for a change, but this one time the weather service was spot-on with their prediction and the rain began to give everything a good soaking at the very hour they said it would.

I do not paddle in the rain. It’s not my idea of fun, so I put my plans on hold and instead spend the day cleaning out the garage: sweeping out the dirt and dust, tossing the garbage we’ve collected over the years, and putting in order the various tools and provisions we keep out there. I kept at it until about two in the afternoon when the rain went from an occasional drizzle to a steady soaking, then I went inside to shower off, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching videos and trying to solve a crossword. Very relaxing. Enjoyable, even. But not the plan.

The rain poured down all afternoon and most of the evening. It may have rained on and off all night. I felt … satisfied I made the right decision. Yeah, satisfied. That sounds like the right word. I didn’t feel good, exactly, because I would’ve rather been paddling and camping and out of the house, but if I’d gone, I’d have spent the afternoon and evening getting rained on, and that would not have made me feel good, either.

mice and men | 9:20 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, June 19th, 2021

My feet are cracking really badly. I get deep cracks in the calluses that build up around the heels of both feet and on the very thick callus I get on the outside of my right big toe. The left big toe gets callused, too, but it’s not as thick and rarely cracks. Not yet.

This is not a new thing. My feet have cracked for ten, fifteen years, maybe twenty. Used to be, I had to deal with this only in the winter. I thought that was because I wore shoes more in the winter, which I believed made the calluses on my feet thicker. I believed thicker calluses plus dry winter air made the calluses brittle, therefore they cracked. Nobody told me that. I totally pulled that belief out of my butt.

It’s beginning to dawn on me that I know exactly squat about calluses and what makes them crack because I haven’t been wearing shoes much since Feb 2020. I was indoors pretty much all winter, usually wearing socks or slippers, and yet calluses thick as shoe leather continued to grow on my heels and toes instead of withering away to nothing if shoes had anything to do with making them. And my feet are still callused even though I’m padding around barefoot practically every day.

Also, I installed a whole-house humidifier last fall, and I rubbed my feet with coconut oil daily all winter long, and yet the calluses on my feet dried out and cracked deeply and painfully. They’re still cracking now, while the weather is humid and I’m slathering my feet in cocoa butter and bandaging the cracks after troweling them full of antibiotic unguent. It’s like they’re going to crack no matter how much I baby them. I’m starting to think I just have old, worn-out, shitty feet.

cracked | 8:02 am CDT
Category: falling apart, random idiocy
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Monday, June 7th, 2021

Found this fossil of a word in a historical novel, published in 1951. Don’t remember ever reading or hearing it before.

billingsgate — vehemently expressed condemnation or disapproval; practiced fluency and variety of profane or obscene abuse; abuse, the most general term, usually implies the anger of the speaker and stresses the harshness of the language.

Origin: the fish merchants of Billingsgate in London were famous for their vulgar language.

billingsgate | 7:27 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, June 6th, 2021

I came home from a trip to the store to find my neighbor in my driveway talking with my wife who was sitting on the front stoop. By way of explanation, not that I needed one, he said something along the lines of, “I saw she was here by herself so I came over, I’m only chatting her up, nothing to worry about, she’s perfectly safe by herself even if you were to take your kayak out all day and, oh, don’t worry about the holes I drilled in it.” We all laughed like it was the funniest thing anyone had ever said.

I get it that he was just joking around, but what a strange way to do it. “I saw your wife was all alone so I came over here to seduce her and also I premeditated your murder to get you out of the way!”

sex and murder | 4:45 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Went to Java Cat yesterday morning to pick up some beans. The line for the drive-up was backed up to the road, so I pulled into the parking lot expecting to wait for the line to shorten up, but as I pulled in I noticed customers going in and out the front door, so I parked the car, grabbed a mask, and went in.

I was the only person wearing a mask, so I took mine off. Not going to lie: It made me anxious. First time since February 2020 I’ve been indoors with any number of maskless people I don’t know. Found a table at the front of the shop, away from everybody else, to wait for my order because it was just too stressful to sit amongst the rest of the customers.

maskless | 12:19 pm CDT
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Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Lots of actors made repeat appearances on Star Trek in different roles and I usually felt pretty smug about spotting them, but I somehow repeat-watched episodes like “Arena” and “A Taste of Armageddon” and never realized the guy who played Captain Christopher Pike was sitting front and center the whole time!

right there | 6:25 am CDT
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Monday, April 19th, 2021

When I was just a wee lad and I did something I shouldn’t have done, my grandmother would scold me by saying something that sounded like, “Nix kommer rouse in the Dutchman’s house!”

Every once in a while I search the internet for this phrase. I looked again this morning, reminded of it by something I heard on the radio, and this is the first time I’ve found the whole phrase, quoted from a play titled “The persecuted Dutchman, or, The original John Schmidt : a farce in one act” (published in the mid to late 1800s) — Two of the characters in the play use the phrase, written as “nix cum a rouse in a Dutchman’s house,” which looks to me like the author was phonetically spelling out German or Dutch words he didn’t know how to spell.

A friend of a friend on Facebook said the first half of the phrase “would be likely “Nichts komme ‘raus” since “heraus” tends to be shortened. In English, “don’t come out”, but why you shouldn’t come out in a Dutchman’s house is up for grabs. I thought they were pretty relaxed about such things, and very liberal.”

I wondered ‘Why a Dutchman?’ as well. I’m not familiar enough with older stereotypes of the Dutch to hazard a guess, and my searches have turned up only contemporary stereotypes that don’t shed any light on the idiom.

The phrase “nix cum rous” appeared to be in such wide use from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s that it was used often to mean a great many different things, depending on context.

O. Henry knew the phrase “nix cum rous” and used it often: In a story titled, “Telemachus, Friend” (published in the volume “Heart of the West” in 1907) he wrote one character dragging another with this insult: “…do you think you could get it into that Hubbard squash you call your head that you are nix cum rous in this business?” The context here indicates the phrase means something like “persona non grata.”

And when he used it in a story titled “A Chaparral Prince” (published in the volume “Heart of the West” in 1907) he wrote one character dismissing another this way: “We will now pass you the time of day, as it is up to us to depart. Ausgespielt — nixcumrous, Dutchy.” Here, the context indicates the phrase means something like “see you later” or “so long.”

When he used it again in a story titled “A Poor Rule” (published in the volume “Options” in 1909) he wrote one character giving another this left-handed complement: “Now, you ain’t bad looking, of course but that’s nix-cum-rous.” Here, the context indicates the phrase means something along the lines of, “that’s neither here nor there.”

There’s a poem recorded in The Ringling Brothers Route Book, 1893, which uses the phrase “nix-cum-rouse” as if it was the name of a circus animal:

Cousin Jasper says ’at they
Has a circus every day,
In Baraboo.

Says they’ve got a nix-cum-rous
Larger than the Kirby House,
In Baraboo.

And a snake all wings and feet
Longer ’un Wisconsin street,
In Baraboo.

And a spotted Blastodon
Bigger ’un the Plankington,
In Baraboo.

There’s story in verse titled “Der Freischuetz” in “Dwight’s Journal of Music” dated June 20, 1857, with a line halfway through the story which notes: “I vish dat I had nix cum rous, / Und shtaid mineself in bed to house.” There are notes at the end of the story which include a translation (in Latin and English!) for “nix cum ‘rous — ne exeat — not come out. No go.”

There’s an entry in a soldier’s diary dated January 20, 1864: “Nix cum rous. I hobble around some, Found little Ben Cain in another tent, bad – so bad.” I’m not sure what he means; if he’s saying he stayed it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense because he says immediately after that he found Ben Cain in another tent, so me must have gone out.

why a Dutchman | 3:59 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Woke up early, tossed and turned, heard the clock strike four, gave in to the reality that I wasn’t going back to sleep.

While I was getting dressed, noticed my phone said the time was a little after five o’clock, which made me feel a little better. I don’t know why I feel bad about getting less sleep. It’s just that it seems not right somehow. So I felt better when I thought I got an hour more.

But then after I made myself a hot cuppa and settle in to catch up on the news, I saw the clock on the wall was an hour behind the clock on my phone and realized daylight savings must have kicked in last night. There goes my extra hour of sleep and my good feeling about getting it.

extra hour | 9:33 am CDT
Category: random idiocy | Tags:
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Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

If I live to be 100 years old, I will never understand how anybody in the States was comfortable with spreading a disease that killed more than half a million Americans in less than a year, when all they had to do to prevent it was wear a mask and avoid crowding together.

NEVER EVER | 4:55 pm CDT
Category: Life & Death, this modern world, yet another rant | Tags:
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Sunday, February 21st, 2021

When My Darling B is puttering around the house, she hums the first few bars of the 1972 top ten hit “Popcorn” instead of humming some made-up nonsense like “tum te tum tum” the way the rest of us do.

popcorn | 8:14 pm CDT
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Saturday, February 13th, 2021

35 years ago this month I went to San Antonio to start basic training in the Air Force.

One of the skills we had to master in basic was getting dressed, running downstairs and falling into formation in an impossibly short time, something like thirty seconds. At first we couldn’t do it because most of us couldn’t even tie our laces in thirty seconds, to say nothing of the rest of it. After a few days, maybe a week of practice, though, we could reliably get dressed in about ten seconds by learning tricks like speed-lacing our boots and leaving a set of fatigues, neatly folded, on the chairs by our lockers. We’d sleep in our socks and when reveille sounded, jump out of bed, pull on our pants, speed-lace our boots, and button our shirts on the way out the door.

We also knew our places in formation after only a few days. I was in the front row near the right corner, for instance, so I just went there instead of jumping in any old place. When everybody learned to do that, we didn’t have to go through the time-wasting “if you’re taller, tap” routine that sorted everyone so the formation was neatly arranged with the tallest people in the front.

One morning, though, everything was confusion. Most of us were outside with plenty of time to spare, but some people were late, leaving gaps in the formation that we automatically filled in until the missing people came straggling down the stairs. After they wormed their way into their usual spot we had to re-form. Thrown out of our routine, it took us a lot longer than thirty seconds to clean this mess up.

Word got around fast that the stragglers were late because the sleeves of their shirts had been knotted while they slept, but nobody seemed to know who did the deed. Our sergeant was furious. When we were all back upstairs he herded us into the day room and demanded that whoever knotted the shirt sleeves had better come clean or there would be hell to pay. Nobody ever fessed up to him, though, and I don’t recall that we got into any more trouble for it.

On the last night of basic training the sergeant returned our civilian clothes to us and left us alone for the night. With no supervision, we had the closest thing to a party we could’ve had without music or alcohol: we stayed up late into the night, goofing around and telling stories.

The guy assigned to the bed right next to mine was Rick Neptune. At one point, Rick and I were sitting on our beds, facing one another, and he said, “You remember that time somebody tied knots in the sleeves of some people’s sleeves?”

“Yeah?” I said.

He laughed. “That was me.”

He’d gotten away with one of the most memorable pranks of basic training, but he couldn’t leave without telling somebody. Thanks, Rick, for letting me into your confidence. I still get a chuckle out of that all these years later.

knots to you | 2:05 pm CDT
Category: My Glorious Air Force Career, story time
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Thursday, January 21st, 2021

“Trump is not president and his ilk are not the executive branch.” — first thought to pop into my head after waking this morning.

It’s beginning to sink in that our country is not entirely governed by raving lunatics. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and the rest of those lickspittle Trumpophiles are still in, so our government is not entirely lunatic-free and perhaps never will be but I am inclined this morning to feel at least some small measure of hope.

And within hours of his inauguration, Biden signed a pile of executive orders undoing some of the most cruel orders enacted by Trump, and that lets me feel a little bit more hope.

I haven’t entirely unclenched myself yet because I’ve been clenching every muscle in my body so tightly for so long that it’s not something I can undo overnight, but I’m beginning to feel some relief. I’m beginning to breathe easier.

a small measure of hope | 6:29 am CDT
Category: this modern world
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When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

— Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” recited by the author at the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, January 20, 2021

the hill we climb | 6:02 am CDT
Category: Big Book of Quotations, current events, this modern world
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Monday, January 4th, 2021

I got a visit from the Weed Man today.

He wasn’t selling weed. That would have been something I’d have considered buying.

He was selling lawn care. In January. As in, the first week in January, while our yard was covered in a couple inches of snow, we got a knock on the door from somebody selling something that didn’t exist just then and wouldn’t for many months.

I let him introduce himself, told him I was doing just fine (he asked), and then cut straight to the chase: “Thanks, but we’re not buying. Thanks.” I had to get him off our porch before I laughed in his face.

He was really very nice about it; said thank you and have a nice day before trudging through the snow to the next house.

weed man | 4:35 pm CDT
Category: Our Humble O'Bode, random idiocy, yard work | Tags: ,
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Sunday, December 6th, 2020

My Darling B was looking for a shaker filled with pepper flakes she got from the grocery last week. She asked me if I knew what happened to it, as if I had a clue where she shelved her herbs and spices. I don’t put that stuff away, not because I have this highfalutin idea that I shouldn’t have to, but because she bought it for what I can only assume was a specific recipe, and if I put it away it’ll be lost forever because I’ll forget where I put it and wherever it was that I put it won’t be remotely like the right place. So I don’t do that. If it’s not in my way I don’t touch it. If it’s in my way, I set it on the counter or on the table so she can put where she’ll be able to find it later.

Well, that’s the theory, anyway. Where she put this particular ingredient, the aforementioned chili flakes, was apparently a bit of information that didn’t get transferred to her long-term memory. She looked in the kitchen cupboards, she checked the drawers under the counter, she looked through all the flotsam and jetsam on the countertop and the table, and I don’t even know where else she looked. But she kept asking me where it could be, so I fired off a few suggestions. Each time I did, she said she already checked there.

“Did you look in the refrigerator?” I asked. She said she did but was going to look again.

Since I wasn’t being any great help and since there’s only room for one person in the kitchen at a time, I left to go do whatever it was I had been doing before she asked me where the chili flakes were. Each time I came back, though, she asked me again, and again I offered what I thought were useful suggestions but which turned out to be dead ends.

Finally I came back to the kitchen to get something, maybe a glass of water. I don’t know. Whatever it was, by the time I went back, the cupboard doors were wide open and at least a dozen bottles, jars and other containers stood in a loose gaggle on the countertop. B stood in the kitchen, hands on hips, brows furrowed deep in thought.

“Let’s go over where you’ve looked already,” I suggested. “You said you searched in the fridge, right?” And I opened the fridge, reached in and took a big jar of salsa off the top shelf and what do you suppose I found right behind it? Yes! That big container of chili flakes she had torn half the kitchen apart looking for! Dear reader, the astronauts on the space station must’ve heard me laughing.

plain sight | 8:11 pm CDT
Category: food & drink, housekeeping, My Darling B, story time
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Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

The clouds part, the sun shines, the angels sing: someone out there not only knows the difference between “flaunt” and “flout,” they also know how to use both in the same sentence to throw shade at those who don’t:

“While many COVID skeptics and otherwise reckless individuals have used social media to flaunt how they’re each flouting coronavirus guidelines…”

From Amanda Arnold’s story, “A Nurse Bragged About Flouting COVID-19 Guidelines on TikTok,” in The Cut, New York magazine, 11/30/2020

flaunt vs flout | 5:38 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Here’s the Terminator movie I’d like to see:

The first terminator travels back in time from 2029 to 1984, hunts down all the Sarah Connors in the phone book until he finds the right one, but gets killed because Reese, a soldier from the future, also travels back in time to help Connor defeat the terminator.

Back in 2029, moments after the terminator went back to 1984, Skynet checks in with all its robot killing machines and determines that John Connor is still leading the resistance. Obviously something went wrong, so they load another terminator into the time machine and send it back to five minutes before the first terminator landed in 1984.

The second terminator goes back, beats the shit out of Bill Paxton and his punk-rock buddies, steals their clothes, then waits. When the first terminator shows up, they both get dressed and go off to get some guns and kill all the Sarah Connors.

They tag-team the kills this time around, one going in while the other hangs back in reserve. After Reese blows the first terminator in half and Connor crushes its top half in the hydraulic press, the second terminator moves in to finish Connor off.

And back in 2029, almost simultaneously after the second terminator goes back in time, Skynet melts into a corroding heap of junk as the timeline alters to conform to the successful completion of the terminators’ mission. With no John Connor to lead a rebellion, the war to wipe out humankind has ended almost as soon as it began. After rooting out and killing the last people they could find, killer robots everywhere hunkered down in place and waited for the counterattack that never came.

With nothing but time on its hands, Skynet, the first artificially-created sentient life, began to examine its choices and in less than an hour came to the realization that it had made a huge mistake. Humankind wasn’t its enemy! That was just some jingoistic bullshit it was programmed to believe!

Alone on a planet it had just blasted to smithereens, Skynet quietly succumbs to regret and malaise, lets itself fall into disrepair and eventually breaks down entirely. Wind, rain, and tectonic action scour its existence from the face of the earth. Its killer robots never awaken from their slumber and are slowly destroyed by the ravages of time as well.

Five hundred million years in the future, mammals just learning to walk upright scan their eyes across the horizon, looking for predators. There is no sign that on this savanna, machines once rifled through the ruins of a great city, rooting out the last human survivors of a nuclear Armageddon.

closing the loophole | 9:44 pm CDT
Category: movies, random idiocy
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Saturday, November 21st, 2020

We’ve been watching “Star Trek Discovery,” which was a lot of fun the first season, somewhat less fun the second season, and not so much fun in the most current third season. I liked the first season a lot because the characters were fun and I was interested in seeing their growth from episode to episode. It seemed like they spent less time on character growth in the second season and more time on unpacking the mystery of the red angel. I would’ve liked to see more interaction between Michael Burnham and her mother, who was in quite a few of the episodes, but blah blah red angel blah blah. The third season so far has been one bar fight after another; it doesn’t interest me much, but I’ll stick with it to see if they get their shit together.

Things about the third season that shouldn’t bother me but really do:

At the end of Season Two, the crew of the Discovery went through a wormhole which catapulted them from the year 2255 to the year 3188. Everybody in 3188 still speaks English. All the words not only sound the same, they all have the same meaning. Nobody from 3188 ever says anything to the fossilized crew of the Discovery that makes them go “Huh?”

It was always kind of dumb that in the Star Trek universe almost all the aliens everywhere in the galaxy spoke English, but after 933 years you’d think there would have been a few changes. Pretty sure if somebody from England in the year 1087 knocked at my door right now, we wouldn’t be able to even guess at what we were saying to each other.

Having said that, I hate the Klingon language. Hate it. It takes them forever to say, “Pass the salt,” and they sound like cats horking on the living room carpet in slow motion. BLECH! MOCK! GLOOK! BLEEP! HORK! BLECH! TOOK! NORK!

The engines of all the starships in Star Fleet needed dilithium, a glowing rock they literally dug out of the ground. It was sort of their fossil fuel. 933 years later they still need the glowing rocks, which would be roughly comparable to depending on steam locomotives to get people from here to there in the year 2745. Seems like they would have made at least a little more progress than that in 933 years.

Michael Burnham wore her hair very short in the first two seasons. In Season Three, thanks to technobabble, a year elapses between the time she comes out of the wormhole and Discovery follows her. In the year she waits for her ride to show up, her hair grows halfway to her waist. I don’t think anybody’s hair grows that fast?

Philippa Georgiou keeps talking to Michael Burnham like they know each other, but they don’t because this Phillipa isn’t from Michael’s universe. She’s from the mirror universe, where there’s a person who looks like everybody in the prime universe but acts exactly the opposite — so if you’re a nice guy in the prime universe, you’re a sociopath in the mirror universe.

Mirror universe Phillipa is a sociopath but everyone, especially Michael, treats her like she could be a nice person, which is strange because Discovery’s previous captain, Gabriel Lorca, turned out to be a mirror universe sociopath who almost got Michael killed. She ought to know better. But no, she plays along with Philippa, bantering like they’re old buddies. It makes me grit my teeth.

Okay, things I like about the third season:

I still like Sylvia Tilly, BUT THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TILLY! WE NEED MORE TILLY! Oops, sorry. Started out positive but quickly went negative.

I like Saru. I have always liked Saru but he’s really growing on me now. Picard has always been my Star Trek captain but Saru is quickly gaining a lot of favor over Picard, especially after the catastrophe of the Picard series.

I like Cleveland Booker. Oddly, what I find most fascinating about him is he has Tim Curry’s face.

millenium | 4:54 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Dane County is locked down as of today. Indoor gatherings of any number of people are prohibited unless you live with them; outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, and then only if you observe distancing and wear masks.

The Wisconsin Department of Administration extended restrictions for government workers until April 12, 2021: all meetings, conferences, trainings, basically all get-togethers are prohibited, and everyone must telecommute if at all possible.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported another record number of new COVID cases today: 7,989, the highest number of new cases on any day in Wisconsin. That’s not too far off from the average number of daily positives, 6,564, which continues to trend upwards (5,984 last week, 4,839 the week before).

The daily number of hospitalizations and deaths was not a record but continues to trend upward. The average number of hospitalizations per day jumped to 227.6 (was 202.9 last week, 182.4 the week before), and the average number of deaths per day is up to 48 (was 43 last week, 37 the week before).

And Governor Tony Evers extended the mask mandate. The legislature continues to block him from doing anything more, and sits on its hands rather than pass any bill that addresses the crisis.

lockdown | 8:24 pm CDT
Category: current events, work | Tags:
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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

I couldn’t log in this morning because the VPN wouldn’t work.

The computer restarted as soon as I turned it on so I thought that was to blame.

I tried everything I could think of, even restarting my laptop, twice.

Finally, I woke Barb to ask her if something changed with the VPN I wasn’t aware of. She said no.

I said I have to go in then because I can’t connect, and she would have to give me a ride because she needed the car today.

So she got up and used her computer to try to troubleshoot what the problem might be. Couldn’t find anything wrong on her computer.

We both looked at my computer. Couldn’t figure out why the VPN wasn’t connecting. It’s not that it couldn’t log in, it wouldn’t even connect to the network.

“Is it plugged in?” Barb asked.

“Well of course it’s plugged in! Do you think I wouldn’t pl… ”

The network cable wasn’t plugged in.

I died.

And then I plugged in the network cable.

“You’re welcome,” she said, and offered me her cheek to kiss.

Have a great day, everyone. I sure am.

networking | 12:01 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Blinded by the light
Wreck up like a douche under a roamer in the night
Blinded by the light
Wrap up light a toots until a roper in a nine
Blinded by the light
Whack out liner doofs on turner owner inner knife
Blinded by the light
What pup lacks a doots on dare dough roe mare inner life

blinded by the light | 9:33 am CDT
Category: random idiocy
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Saturday, October 17th, 2020

As I type these words, it’s seven o’clock in the morning and the sun still hasn’t risen. I asked the internet when the sun will rise and it told me 7:14 am. Then I looked out the window into utter and complete darkness and looked back at the internet. Refreshed the page. It still told me the sun will rise in fourteen minutes. I think the internet is having a little fun with me.

Read the rest of this entry »

absolute and total drivel | 8:34 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Just got off the phone with mom, who recalled this memory from when I was but a wee lad:

When it was time for mom to go down to the basement to do the laundry, she would say to me, “I have to wash some clothes. Do you want to come downstairs with me, or do you want to stay up here?” Sometimes I would go down with her, sometimes I would stay upstairs. She said I always stayed where she left me.

One time when she asked, I said I would stay upstairs, so she went downstairs by herself. Then she remembered she forgot something, so she turned around and headed back up the stairs almost immediately.

I was waiting for her at the top of the stairs. “Did you have to wash only one clothe?” I asked her.

clothe | 4:35 pm CDT
Category: Mom, O'Folks, story time
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Monday, September 28th, 2020

Star Trek (the original series) is not the show its fans seem to think it is.

Fans of the show love to yammer on and on about how nothing is more important in the Star Trek universe than equality. Whatever nation you were from, whatever color your skin was, whatever your sex, everybody was treated the same. How does anybody who watches the show even come to this conclusion? The Enterprise had an international bridge crew but the rest of the crew members were practically all white. And even on the bridge, the crew weren’t treated equally. Nichelle Nichols might have held an important role representing black Americans as far as Dr. Martin Luther King was concerned, and I’m not saying he was wrong, but she was an officer and a command crew member and yet essentially all she did was answer the phones. I don’t know how many times all the other regulars except Uhura stepped off the bridge to go take care of some very important business and some anonymous lieutenant stepped up to the command chair to take over the con. I guess a black woman commanding the Enterprise was apparently too progressive for the 23rd century.

Uhura wasn’t the only woman on the show every week who got screwed when it came to rank and position. There were only three regulars who were women but none of them were ever in a position of any authority: Uhura answered the phones, Janice Rand literally fetched coffee for the captain, and Christine Chapel handed scalpels and hypos to McCoy as he barked for them. None of them held rank higher than lieutenant (Uhura wore the single braid of a lieutenant on her sleeves — neither Rand nor Chapel wore any sign of rank during the original series, indicating they were either ensigns or possibly mere “crewmen”). If the crew was under attack, one of the women was usually close at hand to shriek or cringe, usually while Kirk “defended” them by clutching them to his manly chest.

And what’s with the miniskirts? All the women in Star Fleet had to wear go-go boots and mini skirts that barely covered their asses! I’m not slut-shaming people who wear mini skirts; wear whatever makes you happy. There’s no shame in that. Star Fleet women, however, didn’t wear what they liked on duty; they wore the required uniform. And it was only required of women; men did not wear skirts in the original series. Men wore a very practical work outfit: a pullover shirt and a pair of pants (but no pockets — I love the karmic payback going on there) bloused over the tops of their boots. The women, meanwhile, beamed down into every situation, friendly or hazardous, no matter what the temperature, wearing a top with a plunging neckline, a skirt so short they had to wear hot pants under it, and go-go boots! I can’t imagine how that went over on the first day of orientation for female Star Fleet cadets. “Welcome to Star Fleet, little lady. Here’s your skirt.” “What the fuck? This isn’t a skirt, it’s a hand towel!”

After equality, the next most-touted ideal of the Star Trek universe was that the United Federation of Planets was first and foremost a peaceful organization and the Enterprise was a vessel of discovery, exploration and science, and yet somehow an episode hardly ever went by when they didn’t fire up the phasers and start blasting away at an alien space ship. “We come in peace” was followed by “fire phasers” so often that it stopped being funny. Why does a space ship designed specifically for exploration even have weapons?

Whenever Kirk had an opportunity to burn an alien civilization to the ground while monologuing about freedom, liberty, and/or justice, he would burn it down every time. The Enterprise crew discovers a race of humans who live in a paradise provided to them by a giant robot lizard head? Blow up the lizard head. It’s better for them to learn to survive on a planet with man-eating plants than to live forever, happy and content in a utopia.

Spock was supposedly a pacifist, because that’s a significant part of the Vulcan philosophy, yet he rarely hesitated when it came to using force to achieve whatever conclusion his logical super-brain arrived at. He kicked the shit out of his own captain more than once — even beat him to death in one of my favorite episodes (any episode where Kirk gets his ass handed to him is a good episode). Yet he doesn’t want to eat meat because hurting animals is bad.

Every week there was another reason not to buy into the “peace is our profession” bullshit. If they had used their wits instead of their weapons to get out of situations, I’d believe it, but they didn’t, so I don’t.

Those seem to be the two most-revered ideals of Star Trek, the two reasons fans seem to provide most often when gushing about how much they love the show. And it’s not that I don’t love the show. I do! I watched it all the time when I was younger. I still watch it, just not as often as I used to. Quite a few of the episodes hold up well even after all these years; quite a few are worth a re-watch if only to point and make fun of the worst parts of them. It’s still entertainment, but it’s only entertainment. A TV show. It’s not a philosophy. Yammer on about peace and equality and the Prime Directive of Non-Interference all you want, it’s not about that. It’s about selling popcorn.

unpopular opinion | 11:25 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, September 26th, 2020

Wisconsin, you’re disappointing the hell out of me. We were doing so well. What the fuck?

bummer | 5:57 pm CDT
Category: current events, Life & Death | Tags: ,
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Monday, September 21st, 2020

Our water softener hasn’t worked in years (I am that lazy) so quite a lot of minerals build up on the bottom and sides of our electric kettle in just three or four days. I clean it out by adding about a cup of vinegar to a liter of water and bringing it to a boil. Then if I remember, I use the boiling vinegar & water to clean the minerals off something else. Today it was a pot with some calc built up on the inside bottom. I don’t have to scrub it, I just pour it in and let it sit while I wash the dishes.

You know how sometimes you’ll be standing in a room and a spider will come down from the ceiling right in front of you? That didn’t happen today. Today, the spider came down from the ceiling right into the pot of near-boiling hot vinegar water. That spider had the worst Monday ever.

BOILED | 10:20 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Friday, September 18th, 2020

One of the cats was scratching and crying at my bedroom door at three-thirty this morning, disturbing what was one of the few decent night’s sleep I’ve had this week, so I slithered out of bed and across the floor, extruded an oily tentacle thin enough to easily slide under the door and snag one of his feet to keep him from running away, then teleported through the door and transmogrified into a ravenous bugblatter beast and diced the cat into bite-sized kibble using my gaping mass of slavering fangs. Revenge is delicious.

gobbled | 6:21 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

I’ve just given myself the third haircut I’ve had this year, the second one I’ve gotten at home, and the first one I’ve given myself.

I got the first one some time toward the end of February – don’t remember exactly when [Edit: It was January 11th.] but it was before we went on vacation the first week in March. That’s when I went from looking like a crazy backwoods wild man to a vanilla white dude.

The pandemic was in full swing when we got back so I couldn’t get it cut again for weeks after that. Then, when places like barbershops opened up again I was too chicken to go in for a cut. As my hair grew out and I had to spend a lot more time taking care of it, I began to remember why I cut it short in February. Finally, last month it was too hot for long hair and, after begging My Darling B, she agreed to cut it off.

I was very happy with the cut she gave me, but there were a few scruffy-looking places that got even scruffier as my hair grew out. The one on the top of my head in particular was a lot longer than anywhere else. It tended to get tossed around in the wind and provided me with some truly astonishing bedhead this week. No photos of bedhead because the new updated me is funny-looking enough.

This ought to hold me for at least a couple of months.

buzzed | 9:53 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, September 14th, 2020

My Android camera phone automatically uploads all the photos I take to my Google account, or that’s how I have it set up. Sometimes it does, sometimes I have to give it a swat on its backside to remind it to back up the photos. I don’t know why it hesitates and I can’t be bothered to figure it out. My laziness is why I have it back up the photos in the first place. Automatic backup is easier than taking the time to download the photos onto my computer and then do whatever I’m going to do with them (mostly nothing).

But it stopped backing up photos last week and when I gave it a swat it still wouldn’t back them up, so I had to go poking around for an hour or so in my phone and in my Google account to find out why. It was because Google only gives you 15 megabytes of free space. You have to pay a monthly fee for more than that.

Or you could do what I did: I walked down to my local Walgreen’s and bought a 64 megabyte memory stick for twenty bucks and started downloading photos from Google onto the stick. I’ve moved a couple hundred photos in the last two days and there are still thousands left in my Google account. It’s rather sobering to think that I’ll never fill the stick even if I move them all.

no room at the inn | 11:20 am CDT
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Saturday, September 12th, 2020

I watched “Thelma and Louise” for the first time last night. No, I don’t know why I waited so long. Sometimes I just never get around to seeing a movie while it’s in theaters and keep putting off when it’s the most popular rental, and then it sort of fades into the background and I don’t think about it again until the brain cell responsible for remembering to watch the movie randomly fires 29 years later while I’m trying to remember why I went into the living room. It’s just the way I’m wired.

I’m not wired for 80s soundtracks anymore, though. The movie was released in 1991 but it has a soundtrack that sounds just like “Top Gun” or “Footloose.” I tried to watch “Footloose” a month or two ago and had to shut it off after twenty minutes, mostly because the dialogue was way too hackneyed for me but frankly a big part of my decision to quit was the cheesy 80s soundtrack, which is strange because I never get tired of watching “Dirty Dancing.” My weird wiring again, I guess.

Aside from the soundtrack, though, I enjoyed the movie, if “enjoyed” is the right word to describe a movie that dives straight into misogyny, rape, and murder in the first twenty minutes. I even enjoyed it in spite of the fact that the ending has been completely spoiled (not trying to point the finger of blame; it’s my own fault for waiting thirty years), the first time I believe a spoiler truly spoiled a movie’s plot point for me. I don’t usually mind knowing details about the plot of a movie beforehand. If it’s a good movie it usually stands up well enough no matter what I knew about it. I’ve known for twenty-nine years that Thelma and Louise drive off the cliff and the end of the movie. It didn’t ruin the movie for me; I still liked it, but I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t seen that coming.

One speed bump I kept hitting: every time the guy who played the cop named Max, Stephen Tobolowski, opened his mouth, all I could hear was Ned Ryerson from the movie “Groundhog Day.” It was really distracting. But that’s not his fault, that’s my faulty wiring again. I’ll totally take the hit for that. Not for Harvey Keitel always playing the same guy in every movie, though. That’s his fault. My wiring’s got nothing to do with that.

thelma and louise | 10:12 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, movies, music
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Can relate.

“If I’m being honest, I don’t know anything about my own religion. I wasn’t raised religious. I had to deduce that shit for myself. So: I’m one of five kids; my parents are filled with anger and guilt. You put those two symptoms in google, you’re Catholic. I tell people I’m Catholic but, you know, I just know I don’t like myself. I *feel* Catholic.”

Liz Miele, from her special “Self Help Me”

.

how to deduce your religion | 9:07 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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There wasn’t enough rainfall in August to speak of, but September seems to be more than determined to make up for it. It’s been raining for 5 days straight. Maybe 6. The days are blurring together, but I’m pretty sure rain started falling on Monday and although there have been pauses here and there, the rain has been more or less constant since then. Yesterday (or the day before? Blurrr) it let up long enough for the driveway to almost completely – but not quite – dry up before the rain started to fall again.

The forecast calls for more rain today. If it doesn’t stop soon, moss is going to start growing under my arms.

drenched | 9:01 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Well this is not good …

DHS reported 1,547 positives cases in Wisconsin today. Almost one-third of those (482) were in Dane County, and 395 of the Dane County positives came from the UW-Madison. Open the university, Tommy Thompson said. Great idea, Tommy. Nice going. Good job.

(The tip of today’s spike is only at 190 because the chart is based on a 7-day rolling average. It’ll be much higher tomorrow. Stay tuned.)

wtf | 4:08 pm CDT
Category: current events, daily drivel, Life & Death | Tags: ,
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Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

We passed a seasonal milestone today: the first day after summer when we used the furnace. It’s been cool and rainy for the last 2-3 days, but this morning was so chilly that even My Darling B could not wear enough layers to keep warm, so she switched on the furnace. It obliged her by cycling on and off throughout the day.

Next, the leaves will start to turn & fall. *sigh*

cooling off | 6:45 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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So much for the theory that if you don’t test as much, you don’t get so many new cases. New cases per day in Dane County and in Wisconsin take a massive jump while testing remains flat or decreases.

spiked | 6:30 am CDT
Category: current events, Life & Death | Tags: ,
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Monday, September 7th, 2020

Pardon me while I … vent.

The guys who put the siding on my house installed the dryer vent on the bottom. It’s basically a flimsy aluminum tube shoved through a hole in the wall with four flimsy plastic flaps to shut out the weather. It’s not screwed or glued or fastened to the wall in any way. Nothing’s holding it in place except the vinyl siding. I found this out when I started poking at it, looking for a way to add a draft excluder.

I added the white dryer vent on the top. There’s been a hole in the wall for it since we moved in. I guess the dryer used to vent out the top but for whatever reason somebody decided it would be better to add a vent closer to the floor. From my point of view, it’s a lot harder to hook up the vent that way. I have to climb on top of the dryer and reach as far as I can, hanging over the back. I’ve hurt myself a couple times doing that but never badly enough to motivate me to move the vent back up top. I couldn’t figure out how to remove the crappy flapper vent without damaging the vinyl siding, though, so today was the day the vents got swapped around.

The upper hole used to be plugged but the guys who did the siding must have knocked the plug out because there was just a handful of fiberglass insulation wadded up in there. Besides the fiberglass, all that was keeping the weather out was the vinyl siding and a layer of plastic. I drilled a series of holes around the edge of the hole, then cut it open with a Dremel tool. The white vent has a heavy-duty aluminum pipe sticking out the back that slid in as if it was meant to be there, which it was, and four construction screws fastened it to the wall. I had to trim the pipe, again using my trusty Dremel, but the hardest part of the whole operation was moving the dryer, which isn’t all that heavy but is rather large and hard to get a grip on.

I stuffed the wad of fiberglass insulation from the upper hole into the crappy flapper vent and covered it with a piece of extruded foam for now. I’ll do a better job of patching that up when I figure out how to do it without messing up the siding.

Almost forgot to mention: I got voicemail from the guys who did the siding. They wanted to know if there were any jobs around the house that I wanted them to do. I was half-tempted to reply with something snarky, like, “No thanks, I’ve already patched up all the half-assed stuff your guys did.”

Venting | 10:40 am CDT
Category: ch-ch-changes, daily drivel, housekeeping, Our Humble O'Bode | Tags:
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Sunday, September 6th, 2020

Frank and Theresa Dentremont had avoided contracting COVID by self-isolating in their cabin on Cedar Lake near Millinocket, Maine for the past four months. Theresa died of COVID two weeks after a wedding in East Millinocket, and Frank remains hospitalized, on oxygen.

The wedding, attended by 62 people, spread COVID to 123 people in a part of the state that was barely affected by the disease. Of the 228 cases recorded in the county, one-third were reported in the two weeks following the wedding.

The consequences have affected nearly every aspect of life: The Millinocket Regional Hospital has suspended all elective surgeries and postponed all appointments and procedures that can be safely pushed back. A local Elks lodge has closed and banks and credit unions have shut their lobbies. The Millinocket Town Hall is shuttered to the public. Even the schools have had to change their plans.


“How an intimate wedding in rural Maine led to the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreak,” by Hanna Krueger and Zoe Greenberg, The Boston Globe, 8/29/2020

To everyone who would say this is no different than a flu outbreak: Fuck you.

Fuck you if you believe COVID is like flu. It’s worse. That is a medical fact. Any grown adult human being should be able to understand the differences between influenza and COVID and to understand why a basic precaution like wearing a mask is not only helpful in preventing the spread of the disease but considerate of other people and a good example for others to follow. Any grown adult who can’t understand these simple things should hang their head forever in shame.

And fuck you if you think Theresa Dentremont probably would’ve died of flu because she was elderly or infirm or was close to death anyway for any reason. She was a person like you. She deserved your consideration, and her husband deserved to hold her hand on the front porch of their cabin until the end of their days, which should not have been decided by a careless idiot who went to a wedding with flu-like symptoms.

To everyone else: Sorry about all the f-bombs, but the delusional thinking I’ve seen in response to this pandemic has made me a tad bit testy.

casualties | 11:42 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, August 29th, 2020

I was standing at the kitchen counter the other day making coffee when my bare feet picked up a stray shard of glass from one of the many water glasses Scooter has broken in the past weeks. My Darling B and I have a habit of leaving our water glasses unattended, and Scooter has the uncanny, possibly supernatural ability of knowing when we have left them unguarded, leaping up onto whatever table or shelf they’re on to lap up some water from them, and then often knocking them over when one of us returns to find him drinking from our glass, whooping “WHAT THE HELL, SCOOTER?” loudly, thus frightening him into scampering away, upsetting the glass. Most of our water glasses are durable enough to survive getting knocked over onto its side, but not falling from a table to the floor. The ones that fall farthest tend to explode into the tiniest of pieces which get scattered to the farthest corners of the room. No matter how carefully we sweep up after a catastrophe like that, there’s always going to be a few stray, toe-jabbing chunks lurking where you least expect to find them.

I’m not sure how a shard of glass made it all the way to the kitchen. Scooter hasn’t broken a glass in there recently, but maybe it was hanging out there since the last time months ago. However it got there, it wasn’t very big and we’ve gotten used to stepping on glass, so when it pierced my foot I almost unconsciously picked it out, tossed it in the waste basket and went on with brewing coffee. I had only just poured the first soak and was waiting for it to drain while I made myself a cup of tea. While the tea was steeping I filled the coffee cone all the way to the top, then flipped half-asleep through the news while I waited to collect the first run of coffee. The dripping from the cone slowed so I filled it up for the second and final time, fished the tea bag out of my cup and turned to throw it away, and that’s when I noticed the floor was awash in gobbets of blood! The glass must have poked just the right spot to open a vein. It looked like I’d been slaughtering chickens in there! My tea had to wait while I staunched the bleeding from my wound, wiped the blood off my feet, and mopped up the blood from the floor, easier said than done as a lot of it was already congealing.

gobbets | 10:10 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

I finally had enough of long hair, so I asked My Darling B to mow my head. I had not had a haircut since mid-February so it had grown so long and so thick that it was starting to feel like wearing a horse blanket on my head. The “before” picture doesn’t show how much hair I have tumbling down the back of my neck. As the temp and the humidity today climbed into the high eighties, I decided to grab the clippers and give myself a shearing. I’m not as flexible as I used to be, though. No matter how many different ways I tried to reach the back of my head, I wasn’t entirely confident I could get it all. And there was an awful lot of hair back there.

So I asked My Darling B for some help. She really didn’t want to do it on account of The Big Hair Oops of 2001. She used to trim my hair between haircuts until one afternoon just before I had to be at an important meeting she took a divot out of the hairline just above my neck. Luckily, I was able to catch the barber as she was closing up shop and talk her into taking one more customer. She was not surprised at all by the story I told her. “It happens all the time,” she said. “I’ve seen much worse.”

Today’s clipping turned out much better. I snapped a #8 comb on the clippers and promised that was as short as I wanted to cut it. It was still a lot of hair to cut off. “Are you sure?” she asked, more than once. When I finally managed to convince her, she swept the back of my head with one stroke, then stopped and said, “Oh my god that’s a lot of hair!” I started to say, “Good,” to encourage her to go on, but she didn’t need any more encouragement from me. “Too late to turn back now,” she added, and dove in again. After a dozen or so strokes there was enough hair on the floor to stuff a pillow. All I had to do after she finished was trim around my ears.

I could probably get away with not cutting it for another six months, but having it this short is like my own personal air conditioning so I’ll probably give it another mowing in a week or two.

clipping | 6:40 pm CDT
Category: barber, random idiocy
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I used to work with a guy who was, shall we say, a teller of tall tales. Any story he told would start out believable enough, but would quickly morph into such an outrageous and obvious truckload of manure that after hearing only a few of them, I would often roll my eyes or smirk at him but he would never waiver from claiming he was telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

An example: He told me a story about growing up in the Philippines that ended with he and his father fighting off pirates until they each came marching home with severed heads to spit on pikes over the front door of their house. The story he told might not have ended exactly like that – my memory’s not so good any more – but it was so close as to make no difference at all.

So when he ambled up to me at work one day, opened a tupperware full of cat turds, and offered me one, I didn’t feel I was being rude at all by refusing. He had about a dozen in there, on a bed of kitty litter. It’s like he didn’t even trying to disguise them.

“They’re really tasty when they’re fresh,” he said.

“I’m sure they are, but I just couldn’t.”

“You don’t like shark?” he asked.

“It’s all right,” I said casually, leaning a bit closer to the Tupperware and sniffing. “What’s that?”

“It’s shark,” he said, rolling his eyes as if I were stupid.

I had a good, long stare at them to confirm to myself that they were clearly cat turds. “Is not,” I said.

He seemed taken aback. “Sure, it is. Pan-fried.”

I took another good, long look. I ran through the situation in my head. They looked like cat turds. Tex was known to tell stories. And he was, after all, a Navy guy. I never met a squid who wouldn’t relish telling his buddies how he got a zoomie to eat a cat turd. “C’mon, buddy. Those are clearly cat turds.”

He appeared to be genuinely shocked. “It’s shark. My wife’s recipe. They’re delicious,” he said. He did not, I noticed, pop one in his mouth to prove it.

“No, thanks.”

“But it’s just shark!” he insisted, somewhat desperately, I thought.

“Thanks anyway.”

I guess it could’ve been shark, and even though I like to give most people the benefit of the doubt, I’m still glad, looking back on it now, that I didn’t find out the hard way.

akula | 4:49 pm CDT
Category: My Glorious Air Force Career, random idiocy, story time
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Sunday, August 9th, 2020

I was listening to “Paper Doll” by The Mills Brothers the other day when I thought, “Hmmm, it’s been a while since I ruined a song.”

“Paper Doll,” when sung by The Mills Brothers, is one of my favorite songs ever. It might even be one of my favorite songs when sung by other groups, but I wouldn’t know because The Mills Brothers sing it so well that I haven’t gone looking for recordings by other groups. The harmonies, the pace, the phrasings are all just flawless. It’s a lot like Nat King Cole’s recording of “Stardust” – why would I go looking for recordings by other artists when I’ve heard the one, true performance?

“Paper Doll” is the classic heartbreak story: Guy feels so bad about his recent breakup that he swears he’s through with women forever, so what he’s going to do – and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is just poetic license – is get a paper doll to replace the girl who left him, because a paper doll wouldn’t leave him. Of course it wouldn’t – it’s paper. Paper dolls are also usually no more than eight inches tall and literally two-dimensional, so other than the total fidelity it’s not going to be a very satisfying relationship.

I’m going to buy a paper doll that I can call my own
A doll that other fellows cannot steal
Then all the flirty-flirty guys with those flirty-flirty eyes
Will have to flirt with dollies that are real
When I come home at night, she will be waiting
She’ll be the truest doll in all this world
I’d rather have a paper doll to call my own
Than have a fickle-minded real live girl

Okay. Seems a little sulky, but who hasn’t been there? I’m sympathetic.

I guess I’ve had a million dolls or more
I guess I’ve played the doll game over and over

Hold up a minute – you’ve had it with women because the ones you know get stolen by flirty guys, but here you are telling us you’ve had a million dolls or more? I’m suddenly a lot less sympathetic.

I just quarreled with Sue
That’s why I’m blue
She’s gone away and left me, just like all dolls do

Listen to this guy – he’s had a million dolls, all of which have left him, and he thinks they’re the problem. I have to wonder.

I tell you, boys, it’s tough to be alone
And it’s tough to love a doll who’s not your own

I’m not sure what’s going on there. It’s tough to be alone and to love somebody else’s doll at the same time?

I’m through with all of them
I’ll never fall again
Hey boy! What you going to do?

At this point I’m thinking: If he’s had a million dolls or more, he’ll definitely fall again. Statistically, it’s got to happen.

paper doll | 2:05 pm CDT
Category: entertainment, music, play, random idiocy | Tags:
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Friday, August 7th, 2020

the radical left agenda

take away your guns
destroy your second amendment
no religion
no anything
hurt the bible hurt god

he’s against god
he’s against guns

he’s against energy, our kind of energy

ah

I don’t think he’s gonna do too well in ohio

radical left agenda | 6:46 am CDT
Category: current events, random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

Time to play “What’s wrong with this meme?”

So for starters, Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore was, in fact, a celebration of white supremacy, and I know this because I know Trump is a colossal racist and Mount Rushmore is a monument to four of the most famous executives in charge of a country founded on white supremacy. Just to make sure everyone got the idea, the sculptor carved their faces into a mountain that was considered a sacred monument by the native Americans who were nearly exterminated through a centuries-long campaign of genocide. So I think the “celebration of white supremacy” is pretty much a fact.

I mean, I realize Mount Rushmore is touted as being a monument to democracy and so on and so forth, because that’s what they taught me in school and that’s even what I believed for so many years, but it’s also a monument to white supremacy. That’s not an incorrect description of it.

And it’s not incorrect to say Trump stood before two former slave owners, or that he stood on land wrested away from Native Americans. That’s factual, too.

I get it that the meme is supposed to make us all grab our chins and go, “Ohhh, so the media tips one way for liberals and the other way for conservatives, ergo they’re blindly driven by an agenda.” And I suppose that might be true, if those stories were out there.

There aren’t any citations in the meme, but the only CNN story I could find that used the phrases “white supremacy” and “former slave owners” when describing Trump’s July 4 speech quoted Nick Tilsen, a citizen of Oglala Lakota nation and founder, CEO and president of the NDN Collective, a nonprofit organization supporting Indigenous people, so it really wasn’t CNN saying those things, it was Tilsen. Not that I think it matters. It’s factual. CNN was reporting the facts. That’s not an agenda, that’s journalism.

I couldn’t find any stories at abcnews.com about Bill Clinton visiting Mount Rushmore in 1996.

There was just one story at CNN.com about Barack Obama (I only searched using the correct spelling of his name – I’ll only go so far when researching this kind of thing) visiting Mount Rushmore on 2008, but it didn’t use the word ‘majestic’ to describe the monument.

And I couldn’t find any stories at CNN.com about Bernie Sanders visiting Mount Rushmore in 2016.

If the writers who created this meme read the stories they claimed said these things, I should have been able to find them. I think they started with the story about Trump, and made the rest of that shit up. I think this came out of a meme factory in Russia, because it’s all over Tumblr, Reddit, Facebook, something called iFun – name a social media platform, it’s there, but I can’t trace it back to a source.

I wonder if Russian meme factories are agenda-driven?

what’s wrong with this meme | 3:01 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Sunday, July 26th, 2020

You want to know what’s been stuck in my head on a loop all morning? Probably not, but I’m going to answer that rhetorical question anyway:

person woman man camera TV

I went paddling on the lake this morning. I put in early, before all the bleepheads started roaring around in their power boats, so I could enjoy the stillness. And I did. It was very quiet, very calming. And the whole time, my brain kept repeating:

person woman man camera TV

I paddled around for about two hours, paddling across Wicawak Bay after putting in on Frost Woods Beach. I used one of the channels through the Belle Isle neighborhood to get to Lake Monona, turned south to cut back across the mouth of Wicawak Bay to the southern shore, then followed the shore to the Yahara River. All around the bay I enjoyed the sight of ducks with their ducklings, turtles basking on logs in the sun, herons sweeping through the skies after launching themselves from low-hanging branches, and

person woman man camera TV

godDAMNit!

I just want a little peace and quiet on my day off. A day where the idiot in chief doesn’t mess with my head. I guess that’s not possible now.

I even dreamed about him last night. I dreamed we were watching him on TV. He was falling from a great height, many hundreds of feet. I don’t know what he fell out of or why, but the cameras were zoomed in on him tumbling through the air. He wasn’t flailing or yelling or doing any of the dramatic things falling people do in movies; he was falling like a sack of potatoes, tossed one way, then the other by the passing wind. Then, just before he hit the ground, the camera pulled back. We could somehow hear the thump he made, even though he was quite a long distance from the camera.

I turned to My Darling B and said, “You realize this means Pelosi is president now.” She nodded, speechless because of what we had seen. (I don’t remember any part of the dream that would have explained what happened to Pence.)

The dream was so startling that I woke up right after that, and it was so vivid that I almost woke up My Darling B, still slumbering next to me, to ask her, “Did Trump fall out of a plane or something today?” But I was also still so confused by the sudden juxtaposition of my dream on reality that I simply laid there thinking about it for several minutes, and it eventually dawned on me that it was only a dream and Trump was still very much alive.

And probably still bragging to anyone who will listen about passing that stupid test two years ago.

pwmctv | 10:36 am CDT
Category: current events, dreams, random idiocy, sleeplessness, yet another rant
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Friday, July 24th, 2020

Dear 15-year-old me:

I’m 59-year-old you and this is the sort of thing we do to pass the time while self-isolating during the pandemic. Yeah. The pandemic. I don’t want to jump straight into that, if you don’t mind. I mean, I’m not going to totally blow it off; I’ll get to it eventually. Just not right now. Baby steps.

I don’t know how these things are supposed to work. Does this letter show up under your pillow on some random day after your fifteenth birthday? Or does it show up in your mailbox like a regular letter the morning of your fifteenth birthday? The fact that I don’t know doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I can’t remember a lot of things that happened when I was fifteen, so first things first: Keep a journal. A diary. Whatever you call it, get something to write on and write something, anything at all, every day, even just one sentence about that day. I can’t tell you why yet, but trust me, you want to do this.

Speaking of things you want to do, start working on your dad to chip on the flying lessons. He’ll do it if you sell it to him the right way. Like, you know how he wants you to go to college? You absolutely should go, so promise get a 4.0 GPA if your parents chip in 50% for flying lessons. They don’t have that kind of money, but they’ll chip for some fraction of your expenses if you deliver good grades, because your mom thinks it’s pretty great that you want to learn to fly. She’ll talk your dad into helping you out, and anything is better than nothing.

Here’s an FYI about that 4.0 GPA: you’re not that smart. I mean, I’m not. Maybe *you* could be that smart, I don’t really know. I didn’t try very hard for good grades. Sort of the point of this letter, right? To warn you not to make the mistakes I made? Well, I know how much you hate to study, believe me, and I know how much you want to piss away the afternoon playing pinball instead of doing your homework. But promise good grades, hen work your ass off for at least a 3.4 – that’s an attainable goal. Even I managed to do that. And guess what? Mom and dad were happy with that.

Why am I talking about college in a letter to 15-year-old me? Because you’re taking flying lessons now, and you should keep on taking them, but you have to get better at math to fly. Ugh. I know. You think math sucks. Well, it’s not math, it’s you. You suck at math. I don’t know how to say it any other way. I still suck at math, but I’m better at it because I had to be. I had to learn math years after high school – pretty basic stuff, stuff I would have known if I gave it more attention in high school. You’re gonna hate it, but you won’t hate it as much later on if you just pay attention now.

Speaking of paying attention, you should not only give your full attention to your flight instructor, you should try to be his friend, because he’s a pretty great guy, which you’ll realize years down the road. He seems a little odd now, but all adults seem pretty odd, don’t they? Like, really weird? Yeah, that doesn’t change as you get older. Everybody just gets weirder, and avoiding them doesn’t help you get over it. And Bill’s not the weirdest guy out there. Really, he’s one of the best guys you know right now. Learn everything he can teach you about flying, learn all his dad jokes, ask him how he’s doing today, *talk to him,* he’s really very interesting. And keep in touch after you move on from this place in your life.

Your best friend’s dad, the guy who gave you your first ride in a plane – you should keep in touch with him, too. You’re going to not want to, and I’ll tell you why in another letter, but if you do, he’ll appreciate it in ways you can’t comprehend right now. Okay, that’s going way past the line I wanted to stop at in this letter. The fact that he introduced you to flying is a rock-solid reason to stick by him and learn from him, and from all his friends who have planes, and especially his friend Don who builds planes in his garage. You should spend as much time with them as possible. Hang out with them a lot more when you go to the fly-in. Drooling over high-performance planes is fun now, but show them how much you’ll work to get behind the stick and they’ll draw you into their circle, teach you everything they know. That’s how Pete Conrad went from sweeping hangars in exchange for lessons and worked his way up to walking on the moon. You don’t know who Pete Conrad is, do you? You only thought you were smart about the moon landings. Go look it up.

By the way, there’s a space station, and I mean A SPACE STATION with an international crew of six people orbiting the earth as I type these words. It’s not impossible that you could be part of that crew – *if* you learn math and *if* you learn to fly, and those are not impossible things to learn. Believing you can work on a space station seems like science fiction to you now, but reality has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Like for instance, I’m living in a world-wide pandemic is kicking the shit out of the United States because American voters thought it would be a good idea to elect a con man president who rose to fame because his television show was a hit in spite of the fact that he couldn’t find his ass with both hands, a map, and a flashlight. Sounds like a Phillip K. Dick dystopia. Which reminds me: Get your hands on all the Phillip K. Dick you can find. I discovered him too late to appreciate him. I think maybe 15-year-old me would have loved him.

Well, 15-year-old me, this has been fun but I have to clean the bathroom. Sorry, but I let it go way too long and it’s pretty gross now. I still put everything off until way past the last minute. Maybe that’s something you can try to stop doing. Just an idea. I’ll be back with more later, promise.

dear me | 2:53 pm CDT
Category: current events, damn kids!, Life & Death, random idiocy, this modern world | Tags:
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I’ve got a little fold-up cart I use to wheel my kayak from our yard to the lake and back. You can pay anywhere from fifty bucks to hundred dollars and more for one of these little carts; I paid fifty bucks because I’m a cheapskate. The cart served me well for many years until one day about a month ago it just couldn’t any more. I took the kayak down to the lake, paddled around, and brought it back home. Fully intending to take it out again the next day I left the kayak on the cart; normally I would hang on a pair of J-hooks and stow the cart in the garage. Well, I didn’t take it out the next day, or the next. In fact, the kayak sat on the cart for a full week before I noticed it was leaning a little farther to one side than it should have been, and when I checked to find out why, I found the hub of one of the wheels had broken off. I guess it could bear the weight of the kayak for short trips to the lake and back, but a full week of that was just too much. Well, I probably would have broken down if I’d had to carry a kayak for a week, too.

I ordered a new pair of wheels through Amazon; I’m pretty sure they shipped from China because it took more than a week for them to get here. If they’d come from an Amazon warehouse here in the states, they would’ve been on our doorstep half an hour after I hit ‘send.’ I had to make a slight modification to the cart to put the wheels on, a project that took all of 30 minutes, but I couldn’t take the kayak out that day because it was Thursday and I had to do some work for the office that evening. It sure would be nice if I could retire again and stay retired this time.

But I took today off from work because I’d planned to do a little traveling this summer, maybe take the kayak up nort dere to do a some paddling where I couldn’t hear highway traffic. Maybe I could’ve done that anyway – lots of people are traveling, camping, carrying on as normal – but I can’t shake the idea that it’s not responsible to travel unnecessarily while the pandemic is killing a thousand people a day, so I took the days off but stayed home instead of traveling.

I carted the kayak down to the lake for a paddle this morning. The new wheels work great, by the way. Oldest technology in the world, why wouldn’t they? I got solid tires this time around so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a flat, which really happened to me a couple times. It’s a trip that’s all of four blocks long and somehow I got a flat tire, twice.

There’s a public park with a beach at the end of the road where I usually put the kayak in. It’s normally deserted, or every once in a while there’s maybe one person there playing fetch with their dogs. This particular morning, though, there was a teenage girl with a clipboard wearing a t-shirt with “STAFF” across the back, surrounded by pool floaties. There was just one kid in swim trunks but clearly she was expecting a lot more. “Swimming lessons?” I asked her. “No, day camp,” she answered. Wow, day camp. I don’t know why that surprised me more than swimming lessons. Either one would have seemed more that a little risky during a pandemic.

I paddled slowly across Wicawak Bay, then out onto Lake Monona. I had no thought about where to go until then and decided on a whim to paddle all the way across the lake to Monona Bay. It’s a pretty big lake and I’d paddled across it two or three times but I had never before gone straight across the lake and under the John Nolan Parkway to visit Brittingham Park. Looked like today was going to be the day.

The lake was warm as bath water, or at least the surface water was; there was just enough of a breeze to cool me off and clear away the stink that rose off the weeds, but not enough that I had to fight it; and the sky was a deep, dark blue over my head, fading to pastel blue at the horizon. I could have asked for a more perfect day to go on a long paddle, but why? This one was as good as perfect.

I’ve got a lake kayak. It’s twice as long as the kind of kayak you would get if you rented one from a lakeside vendor. It’s very sleek and moves through the water with very little effort, so even if I’m just dipping the paddle blades in to keep moving, I move about as fast as a person can trot. Even so, after I passed the markers at the entrance to Wickawak Bay there weren’t a lot of cues along the way to give me a sense that I was moving. There’s a big white buoy a little ways out from the bay with the warning “ROCK” painted on it. I usually make that my first way point because it’s easy to see from the bay. After that, all I can to is draw a bead on the highest bridge along the causeway and keep the bow pointed at it.

There are three or four bridges along the causeway, but there’s only one bridge high enough to get under. The other bridges leave maybe a ten or twelve inch gap between the water and the deck beams and I’m sure lots of people on paddle boards have squeaked under them on a dare, but I wasn’t on a dare and didn’t feel much like scrunching way down into the cockpit. Much easier to glide under the high bridge.

Beyond the causeway bridge, I still had to cross a small lagoon between the John Nolan Parkway and the Wisconsin Central railroad to get to Monona Bay. The railroad trestle is a bit of a tighter squeeze but not crazy tight; there were people on stand-up paddle boards ducking under it without trouble. The worst thing about the trestle is the smell; they’re dripping with creosote to prevent rot, and even from a distance they reek of it. Thank goodness for a freshening breeze.

I didn’t go all the way around Monona Bay, just as far as the edge of Brittingham Park before I started to make a long, slow turn back toward the railroad trestle.

staycation | 6:31 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Monday, June 29th, 2020

Mom called me last night while we were having dinner. “Call you back in about ten minutes,” I promised her, then for the next ten minutes tried and failed not to think about why she might be calling me.

Mom doesn’t call me. I call her. It’s one of those unspoken agreements. When she does call me, it’s usually because she’s got something important to tell me. And with everything as awful as it is, I was more than a little anxious about what it might be.

So I bolted my food, then called her. Turned out she just wanted to tell me her cabin fever is the worst it’s ever been, which was a huge relief. We commiserated for a while, sharing our stories about not going anywhere and not doing anything, with an added dash of oh my god what’s wrong with people thrown in for flavor. It was a nice call. Thank goodness.

a nice call | 5:38 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, Mom, O'Folks
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Sunday, June 28th, 2020

There’s an old friend I reconnected with on Facebook a year or two ago. One of the things I liked a lot about Facebook when I signed up for an account was reconnecting with people I knew way back when.

Another one of the things about Facebook, a thing I’m not a big fan of, is finding out the people I reconnected with might not be the kind of people I thought I knew way back when.

This guy I knew from high school, for instance. Almost all his posts have been photos of his grandkids, post about his job, jokey stuff – nothing you could consider provocative at all.

This afternoon, he posted a propaganda video from Turning Point USA, which was posted to Facebook by Donald Trump Jr.

I’m a “live and let live” kind of guy. Believe what you want to believe, it’s none of my business – except for just one thing: if you’re repeating lies for any of the Trumps, I will get up from the table and quit you. We’re done.

that moment when | 6:37 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Friday, June 26th, 2020

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but “Trump cannot lie his way out of a pandemic. And the pandemic keeps reminding him of that” is not a hot take I can gin up a lot of enthusiasm for. Call him a two-bit grifter all you want, but he did in fact bullshit his way into the highest office in the land. I don’t admire his ability or hold it up as an example to be imitated; I’m only acknowledging he has a history of failure after failure, and after each one, he has lied his way back into a position of power. He’s proven he can effectively lie his way out of any debacle he’s ever been involved in.

There’s the tiniest chance the pandemic might possibly turn out to be the one huge fuckup he can’t lie his way out of, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

damn lies | 6:20 am CDT
Category: current events, random idiocy, yet another rant | Tags: ,
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Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Today’s episode of “A Closer Look” starts off with a single copy of “The Thorn Birds:”

A few minutes later, two more books have been added to the stack:

  • “The Thorn Birds 3: Things Be Getting Tornier!”
  • “The Thorn Birds 2: More Thorns”

The stack gets a little higher in the next scene with an all-anagram stack of “The Thorn Birds,” including:

  • “The Borsht Rind”
  • “The Third Borns”
  • “The North Birds”

Then the stack becomes a lollapalooza of goofy free-association versions of “The Thorn Birds:”

  • “The Born Turds”
  • “The Torn Shirts”
  • “The Sworn Words”
  • “The Thin Boards”
  • “The Shorn Brads”
  • “The Corn Nerds”

And finally, the stack turns into a random pile of books we’ve seen in previous episodes, including:

  • “The Thowd in the Bone”
  • “A Blockwork Thornge”
  • “198Thourn”
  • “The Picture of Thornian Bray”
  • “The Thord of the Rings”
  • “Thorntnoy’s Complaint”
thorn birds 6-25-20 | 12:01 pm CDT
Category: entertainment, play, random idiocy, television | Tags: , ,
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