Chicken Little Called…

I feel like the sky is falling.

Literally.

Which, of course, means figuratively as well as literally in the English language these days, but actually perfectly describes how I’m feeling.

Figuratively

With the chasm between common sense and willful ignorance widening daily, it seems like America – if not all of humanity – is doomed.

People are eagerly and proudly choosing to embrace behaviors and ideologies that are not simply personally risky to them (mask and vaccine deniers) but also threaten the future of living on our planet for very near, if not already present generations.

I truly cannot understand those people. Say it with me, “Stupid Americans”.

Literally

Two things here. The first is that the smoke from our fires in central and southern Oregon has finally rolled back in to Portland. The rest of the country has been getting our smoke – as far away as Minnesota from what people have shared with me personally, but I’ve heard NYC has even seen some.

It’s nowhere near the literal worst air quality on the planet we had last year, but it’s still a climate crisis in progress. But when you can see literal ash debris on your car after it’s been parked on the street a few hours, I’d say that qualifies as “falling skies”, no?

The second is even more heartbreaking to me as a native Portlander. I love our greenery here. Both the actual forests and our urban green spaces. I live on a street named Park that borders five city blocks of park space called the North Park Blocks. Many of the trees on these blocks are as old as our state, if not older in some cases. And they are called “North” because they are in the northwest quadrant of town and there is an even longer string of blocks on the same street running through the southwest quadrant of town. I’ll let you figure out what we call those blocks on your own.

Go ahead, now…intuit.

Anyway, over the summer, I know of four instances in my string of blocks where trees have just dropped branches.

Massive branches.

…and some not too massive. The above pic is not as big around as a small car, but it was a good 25 feet length of branch. There was one that fell right in front of me early in the summer late one night as I turned onto Park after driving all night. It blocked a two lane road from the base of its trunk to almost the opposite curb.

There’s no wind storm happening. And I expect branches to fall during our increasingly common winter ice events.

But in still skies?!?

My thought on this is that the trees are just so dry from our lack of rain – and it’s a drought condition that has been going on since our February snow storm. April ‘21 was the driest on record by one-third with only a half inch of rain for the month – that these trees have become too dry and brittle to even resist gravity.

How sad. Tragic.

But, Portland being weird and still trying to be green, puts a decidedly Portland spin on the situation by creating…a seating nook!

Here’s the branch that fell, about one-third of the tree’s canopy.

And here’s what Portland does…makes it cozy. Not that I know these will be left here long term. Although I wouldn’t blame Portland Parks & Rec if they did decide to leave them. Branches like this become breeding grounds for all sorts of other flora, so it would essentially be a public science exhibit.

But on a less pithy and optimistic note, check out the tree that had to be completely removed after losing part of itself to nothing more than the pull of gravity.

It was taller than the historic five story brick building across from it. Probably older, too.

Now it’s nothing more than a stump that’s basically the size of a BMW.

So sad.

Of course, maybe I have this all wrong. Just because I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly natural. Maybe trees randomly fall apart every 50 years or so.

Or…maybe it’s due to climate change.

Ooooor…maybe there’s a giant cat roaming around town at night that no one has seen yet. I certainly have something similar – albeit on a much smaller scale – happening in my home.

Mistress Myrtle is not taking questions.

Chicken Little Called…

Upcoming Mask Mandate

One of the three counties Portland sits in announced it was implementing an indoor mask mandate, effective Friday, 8/13. The next day, the Governor made the same announcement for the state.

A while ago, I’d have made the joke that I’d prefer a masc man date over a mask mandate, but I don’t think it’s true at this point in my life. I’ve not fully given up the practice of masking up when I leave the house. I definitely put my mask on when entering a business. Well, before entering it – and I think that’s an important distinction.

The Silver Fox is in town for a while, so naturally I’ve been demanding he belly up with me as nightly as possible. Lost time and all.

Last night was no exception. We were sitting at the bar next door and I was low key astonished at how many patrons were walking in without masks and even moving about the restaurant maskless. I had my mask off while seated, which I get is nearly as arbitrary as the “smoking section” of bars back in the day.

Almost.

It’s as if these Stupid Americans have collectively decided to not see the rationale for announcing a start date. Namely, yo allow businesses to ramp to have policies and signage in place by the mandate’s start.

It’s certainly not a new restriction for patrons or businesses, just a return to a prior restriction. Anyone leaving their house should have a pile of these masks ready to go. As a citizen, our ramp should be immediate – although, I have heard stories of people therapeutically trashing their masks after the restrictions were originally lifted. That’s more of an exception, not a rule. Yet, here we are, customers largely running around businesses bare-faced and empty-headed until they are required to do the right thing.

So selfish.

Meanwhile, most businesses I frequent have had their staff back in masks for weeks – despite the latitude they had to behave otherwise. The grace period that I believe is for their benefit is largely unneeded.

At least I’m the businesses I regularly frequent.

This is why we’re all gonna die. Well, maybe. But it’s definitely the reason we’re all gonna be stuck in traffic forever if we do live.

Selfish animals, we are.

Upcoming Mask Mandate

I Joined A Cult

What? I’ve had free time, what did you expect an unsupervised, grumpy, old Xtopher to do…watch Mrs Doubtfire until 3 AM?

Ok, I did that, as well.

Phair warning, Fill – wait, that doesn’t look quite right – you might want to stop reading now. Just this post, though…tune in again next week.

I bought it. I’ve talked about it a little here before with mixed to neutral reactions…but I bought a Peloton.

Because it’s me…well, several things:

Alpha) I bought it used, because I’m cheap – which goes well with me being poor. Well, poor for a gay white guy. Privilege acknowledged.

Beta) I picked it up and took my first ride on April 1st…again, because it’s me and my fucked up sense of humor wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gamma) Crap. I’m having a C.R.S. moment…hopefully, it comes back to me in proof mode.

I’d planned this post for the first of July, just to give it a quarter to get some results under my belt. Then I lost 20 lbs in my first month of riding and could barely hold back posting about it then.

Luckily, my natural apathy and proChristination allowed me to resist that impulse.

But I really felt I needed to give myself a full quarter to develop consistent habits. Seemed fair enough, since I’d been holding the purchase out as a reward for consistency on my New Year’s Resolution of being more active and eating better.

Oh, it’s back!

Gamma) Since I am a grumpy, old man, I wasn’t going to wait 60 days for delivery. I was low-key scouring Craigslist for a used bike to jump the line. Like hell I was joining a club with a waitlist. I don’t do lines.

Anyhoo…slap my ass and call me a meteorologist, because I manifested a perfect storm. I got my bike without waiting and saved $800 by getting it second hand. The poor schlub I bought it off had decamped to his house in Hawaii over the pandemic and couldn’t find a moving company to take his bike from the she-she West Hills to Hawaii…so he just bought a new bike to be delivered there.

Glad I don’t have his unmitigated gall problems.

So, like I mentioned, I dropped 20 lbs in the first month, which I was very happy with. Month two got me to the right (for me) side of 200, which made sense as I started putting mean mass back on in my lil toothpick legs.

Definitely a trajectory I wouldn’t mind holding. That, of course, put me at my colonoscopy month. If you know the prep routine, you know…if you don’t know, I won’t ruin the surprise.

I didn’t expect to hold this weight – again, if you know… – but I could see it on the horizon. Today’s weigh-in put me right at 195.

Not a lot of wiggle room. But I’m getting plenty of salads and veggies – by comparison to the Before Diet, I’m sure my doc and mother would still happily see me eating more – so I expect between that snd continued consistency, sub-190 weights are within reason over the next 2-3 months. It would be great if I could get into the 180s by the six month mark.

See, we shall, hmm?

It’s been a fun <ahem> ride this far. I’m still excited to get on my bike, whether it’s participating in the monthly challenges, following specific crushes instructors, taking Artist Series rides or just the dreaded schlep to the scale that gets me there is a variety I can appreciate. Keeps my motivation from stagnating.

For instance, the first month I rode, I focused on getting Gold Medals in the Miles Rode and Days Active challenges. The thresholds are 50/100/150 miles ridden and 10/15/20 days active. Even taking Bronze in either is a win for anyone, regardless of one’s fitness level.

Month two, I was focused on streaks. In April, I managed a couple low streaks of active days. This was mainly due to my focus on riding versus other classes offered. They offer strength, stretching, yoga, boot camp and…probably some I forgot. In month two, I made sure to add in some strength and stretching classes. And I really needed the stretching! This also enabled longer active days streaks. I set a goal to get to a 10 day streak, and then took a couple days off and went into a 20 day streak.

Which took us to month three. And I’m just gonna say that a 20 day streak may have broken my mojo a tad. My active days dropped by half in July. But like I said, a Bronze Medal in my monthly challenges is better than nothing.

But after a month of “rest” – ie: active 14 days instead of 26 – I relearned something. Rest is a good thing! For the first week of August, I PRed four times out of four active days.

Apparently, not resting on my laurels equated to…

And, yeah…

So, between joining Peloton and doing an Artist Series ride featuring Justin Bieber music…I’d say I joined at least one cult. But considering I’m a native Oregonian, I could have done worse.

Again, if you know

Alright, now that I’m “out” about it, I’m accountable to people other than my own inner voices – who are also totally real people. Even if that also means getting filleted by Phil in the comments. Hehe…I’ll take it, because that also comes with the Silver Fox telling me that if I lose any more weight, I’m gonna need new clothes. Better that than the reality that I had one pair of jeans and two pairs of shorts that fit at the beginning of April…and a whole drawer of tee shirts that didn’t fit. Still working on the fit looking good, but I’m enjoying the “fresh” wardrobe options after burning 30 lbs.

I Joined A Cult

Influencers Behaving Badly

I know, what a shocker, right? Pretty people being petty or selfish?

You can probably guess my feelings on the influencer phenomenon simply from the title. In case you need more, I actually think they have a potential function in society. Sadly, we seem to lack creative independence in this capitalist country, so when influencers worked in a few niche marketing outings, every corner of industry tried to cram itself into that niche concept.

And it was all downhill from that bastardization. Some, I don’t mind – like ginfluencers, who are generally pretty fun to be around and are simply looking more to monetize fun for all. But then there are the ones I call sinfluencers. These are the folks who have gone the completely opposite direction and are basically monetizing erections.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly certain a barker isn’t getting off the ground in the influencer industry…being pretty is a prerequisite.

Fine.

But the folks who think being hot translates to perquisite wealth…hold on, I’m looking around for an innocent bystander I can slap therapeutically. Yeah, those people are the sinfluencers.

And it’s just getting more and more democratized. Our culture has gone from the blithely sexist “Anyone can be President” to a close call with that not being the implicitly sexist case anymore to a swerving into a tree example of just how tragically fucking literal that saying was.

But who wants to wait five, six or seven decades to gain that kind of attention influence? Let alone work for it.

Let’s tilt that trope a bit and look at a similar phrase…“In America, you can be anything you want to be”.

Did anyone see the answer to that careening from Doctor, Lawyer or Fireman to porn star?

I sure as hell didn’t – and, like I said…it’s just getting easier and easier to do. In the old days, you had to run into the wrong guy or get caught up with the wrong crowd. Nowadays, you just need a vague tether to a guy named Bezos.

That’s right, anything you need to shoot decent selfie-porn is available on good old Amazon. Camera mount, ring light, maybe some sexy undies or toys.

Oh, and a trash can for your dignity.

Why am I stuck on this?

Well, a couple of reasons.

First, I spared you any of these thoughts during Pride month – because I find this phenomenon to be particularly rampant in the gay community. Or what passes for community these days. Too many people I follow on Social Media have updated their profiles to include links to their OnlyFans or JustForFans – because, of course this is now a competitive industry – and sought to monetize their hookups and masturbatory habits. And when that doesn’t happen…

(Un)Fortunately, these ventures don’t always fail. I think that’s bad for everyone – the sinfluencers, their “fans” and even the public in general, since this changes what people consider appropriate behavior.

Behavioral changes that I’ve witnessed on Social Media range from starting an OnlyFans to raise money for “moving expenses” after a GoFundMe for the same reason fails. The GoFundMe was aiming to raise $6000…to move from one apartment to another in the same damn city!

Then there’s the more toxic behaviors that occur as an after-effect of these endeavors. These Social Media accounts tend to become less about what used to be a cute or entertaining person and more and more a billboard for their sinfluencer persona. They’ll start using their Instagram stories like a Reddit Ask Me Anything, and when someone asks them a racy question, they tell them to subscribe to their OnlyFans.

Well, that’s just frustrating on multiple levels for me, as a former retailer and as a consumer.

Didn’t expect that, did ya?

But, seriously, those are the fronts on which I’m offended. If someone is trying to sell something and a potential customer asks a question, “Buy it and find out” is not the proper answer. Someone who wants you to pay for something you might not like is merely a charlatan who is counting on you being a rube.

This has all been on my mind lately because one of the few sinfluencers that I still follow on Social Media had a pretty sad comeuppance. I like this kid. By all appearances, he’s a sweet kid – turning 30 next week, so not a kid-kid – that I automatically credit as being smarter than me since he’s Polish and speaks his native tongue, English and several other European languages. He seems to be rather accomplished outside his OnlyFans, too. He owns a photography studio in Poland and is apparently quite the photographer in addition to his work in front of the camera. He also publishes a calendar annually that he sells for…I dunno, $20 that you can pay extra to have signed. That, I find industrious. Not so industrious that I buy one, mind you – where would I put a calendar…by my landline? Hehe.

I started following him a few years back when I was writing under my Fitfy theme because he drinks beer and has abs. Plus, he’s charming.

He also fed my withering wanderlust, since he travels rather extensively. I’d put the estimate at 4-6 trips per year. Some, just around Europe, but others are overseas.

You can do that when you have a thousand and change subscribers at $9.99/month!

Well, last week he and his traveling companions came home to their Spanish vacation villa to find all of their possessions stolen.

Nice humblebrag at the end, there. I don’t think I own $50k worth of possessions in total, let alone enough that would fit into suitcases to move from Poland to Spain for a couple weeks.

The real tragedy to me is that this kid literally hasn’t become an adult. Not only has he not had to deal with adversity in life that would afford him the emotional base to handle this type of left field tragedy

He’s also been released into the world without being shown how to budget or manage money. This guy makes over $10k per month off his OnlyFans, not to mention rent income from his photography studio. Who failed him? Parents? School? Gay Kulture?

I’d be a little embarrassed to pull in over $100k a year and have to beg for money to replace stolen property. Then again, maybe that’s just me falling for his charm and assuming he can’t when the reality could be more that he doesn’t want to pay out of his own pocket to have it replaced.

What’s a 29 years and 51 weeks old guy to do in a case like this?

Obviously. And, I guess you better start plugging that calendar…although if all your photos and computers were stolen, it’s gonna be tough to pull that together in the next eight weeks.

And, finally…

Of course! You can’t even afford a new toothbrush…better leave Spain and head to Germany!

Can you tell his charm has started to fade?

Sadly, I think this is becoming an all too dominant trend. Making others accountable for your actions and problems. And they take cash in a variety of forms, just don’t offer advice or ask questions. They don’t need that kind of negativity.

Influencers Behaving Badly

Compassionate Yoga

Maybe it’s not even a thing…BUT I’M STILL QUITTING.

I’ll recreationally bend over backward to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition – witness, “There is only so much shit up with which I will put” – but I’m not aiming to be flexible enough to shove my own head up my ass. Maybe give it a light smooch, but no more than that.

I have had occasion to be reminded that I neither want to be emotionally flexible enough to reward willfully ignorant people with my silence. I’ll save my empathy for those it can potentially help.

There is, after all, only so much shit up with which I will put.

I know I wasn’t silent by any means during the Trump years, but in regards to COVID, I’ve decided to take a more assertive approach.

Here’s just three examples from this past weekend’s driving as to why:

Case 1:

Nothing new here, this is something I’ve been running up against since Oregon lifted its COVID restrictions in late June. People will approach my car and then either motion for me to roll down my window or actually get into Angela (my car) asking if they need a mask.

“Yes” – you nitwit – “you do”. That’s my retired polite response. I use Lyft as a passenger, so I know how it works. When you first open the app, you’re greeted by this reminder

Then, once you confirm your ride, you get this

Seems pretty hard to miss. Maybe I could see overlooking one reminder, but not two. Because they are magnanimous – or looking out for the safety of their passengers and drivers – they usually even send a text when your driver arrives that contains…a third reminder!

Frankly, I’m amazed my early onset grumpiness patience lasted this long with these Stupid Americans people. My favorite part of these exchanges is when they say they’re double vaxxed. Ok, first of all, you’re vaccinated. It’s potentially a two-shot protocol, saying you’re double vaccinated implies you got two of the available three (in the US) vaccines. But second, you’re expecting me to believe something as unbelievable as you “didn’t see” three reminders about masks…why would I believe you when you swear you’re vaccinated?

You know how many women became mothers believing men when they swore they’d pull out? Get the hell away from me with your feeble nonsense.

So I make them go get masks before I let them in. But last Saturday, I’d just had it. A guy walks out of a bar – you know this is serious, jokes always start with a guy walking into a bar – and pulls the whole innocent act. It’s 1:45 in the morning, I’m tired and working my way home. It’s also a 13 minute ride in the wrong direction, so I just tell him nope.

Compassionate Xtopher would have said, “There’s a 7-Eleven right next door, go buy one and we’re good to go”, but I’ve also noticed these folks don’t usually tip because I’m “mean”. Except the friend of the guy I kicked out of Angela because he called me a pussy for insisting they wear masks…she tipped me $20 up front to reconsider. And that was just an hour-ish earlier Saturday night, so I was already crunchy about the whole mask thing.

Case 2:

I gave an early 20s couple a ride to work on Friday. They work a security job at Nabisco – which is actually named something else now because they got bought by the company that owns Toblerone, but I’m not even gonna try to spell it – and were talking to me about their brutal schedules. I was in awe, and 60 hour weeks for me were nothing when I was working professionally. These youngsters were working six day weeks, 12 hour minimums with frequent extra hours. They estimated their average week to be 95-110 hours.

Then they asked me to tell anyone I know who’s looking to apply to their company, “They only have to be 18 and pass a background check”. We actually spent a good deal of our 42 minute rush hour ride discussing this, given my 30 years of people management. I think they felt good to be heard, and even validated by what I brought to the conversation.

Naturally, I got cocky.

I asked near the end of the ride if I could ask them what they thought about vaccine resistance in their age group. At first, the young woman declined because she said that those conversations always led to her friends yelling at her.

Foolishly, I assumed that they were yelling at her because she thought it was important…but I was wrong.

As we eased into the conversation, she said things that gave away her position. “This is nature’s way of culling the population” and “COVID doesn’t kill any more people than the flu does”.

I’d been gently pushing back against those statements with my own, like “I’m not sure where you heard that, but it doesn’t ring true with what I’ve heard”. As gentle as that response was, I could still see her pouting in the mirror. Young people want to be treated as peers and equals until you disagree with them, then they revert to absolute children. Some – not all, by any means.

Figuring if she were going to pout, I might as well make it worth her while, I loaded up a couple realities for her to think on.

“Look, your assertion that nature is trying to cull our population is certainly not the craziest thing I’ve heard, it’s even pithy, but if that were the case, wouldn’t a smart move be to try to not get culled?”

Her boyfriend laughed at this and she kind of lightened up at my question. Then I hit her with a hard fact. “The flu probably hasn’t killed 600,000 people in the US in the last twenty years. 60,000 would be a tragic year for flu deaths. A closer average would probably be 30,000 and in 2019 the number of US deaths from flu was closer to 20,000. Equating one with the other is just factually wrong. Whoever let you believe that did you an absolute disservice.”

The curious thing to me is that people lack the intellectual curiosity to even check the shit they hear. Of course, that’s a perfect lead in to…

Case 3:

This was a rider I’d had before. A member of my 1% Club, which I call them because my nerdy ass took the time to quantify the frequency with which I see repeats. In case you’re curious, three-peats are about 1/1000 rides and I’ve had one four-time rider in my 5300 rides.

But I digress.

I didn’t immediately peg him as a dupe until he started talking about his work – since I’d picked him up there. I asked what it was that had him working a Sunday afternoon and he told me he worked in radio.

That was when it hit me. I asked if I hadn’t taken him to work once, and remembered it being in the same building my favorite radio station was in. He said that was his other job, he worked for FISH radio out where I’d picked him up – which is a conservative Christian station.

He, in turn, asked me how I was feeling about my own personal safety since he obviously knew I’d been driving during the pandemic. I shared that I felt pretty safe throughout but also wouldn’t be surprised if I’d had a mild case of COVID at some point and couldn’t even presume to think I hadn’t had at least an exposure. The odds just aren’t there.

He told me of his own exposure through his live-in girlfriend – oh, those Christians and their tendency of cherry picking values…really, premarital sex? <gasp> – but that he hadn’t gotten it and was now vaccinated.

That led to a chat about why his girlfriend wasn’t yet. Apparently, she was relying on the natural immunity from having the virus. That perked me up, and I asked if she’d only recently had COVID. Her illness was back in January and I wondered if maybe that was far enough back that she could get vaccinated if she wanted to. He went on about how natural immunity lasts about 9 months, maybe longer. I listened to him, but when he finished I nudged him with “The last I’d heard – and I’m not paying that much attention currently, since we have a vaccine now – was that natural immunity started to fade at 2-3 months”.

He didn’t disagree with me, but veered off into mortality rates to dismiss the importance of vaccines in the first place. That was rather a needle-skip of a moment, but I let it play out. He was rattling off mortality rates of 3-5% for the flu and .004-.006% for COVID. I told him that I didn’t know those numbers offhand, but it seemed backward, causing him to interrupt me with an objection that made me almost drive off a bridge.

“No one knows the actual mortality rate because the numbers are all inflated!”

Me: <blink, blink>

“You shouldn’t count people who have diabetes or cancer or whatever and die of COVID because they were gonna die anyway.”

That old chestnut. I was in the middle of disagreeing when he interrupted me again. This was to be our pattern for most of the rest of the ride. I try to participate in the dialogue and he cuts me off.

“I’m not trying to be argumentative”, he eventually said, seeming to pick up on the rhythm of our conversation…and then I cut him off.

“Really? Because you keep talking over me and interrupting me. That seems like textbook argumentative behavior to me.”

That actually got him to back down a bit and we actually talked for the short duration of the ride. I told him that if I had COVID and died getting hit by a bus, that should absolutely not be a COVID death, which got a chuckle out of him. But I pressed on by suggesting that his own phrasing belies the point he’s making.

“How can you say someone with cancer died of COVID and not see the inherent fallacy? It’s right there in your own words!” He was thinking on that, but whether he was changing his mind or rewriting his talking points is not clear. I pushed on with the reality that, yes, these people could have probably died of their co-morbidities, but they hadn’t gotten the chance because COVID did the heavy lifting in their death. At the very least, COVID shortened their already potentially shortened lives.

“Besides”, I asked, “you surely know the Christians’ favorite argument against assisted suicide, right?”

He did not. So I told him that it wasn’t even that it was considered a mortal sin. Then I shared the argument that a cancer patient might have years of life with treatment, and the argument is that in those years a cure could be discovered.

Silence. I looked in the mirror and he was sitting there with his mouth open, but he wasn’t even trying to make words.

Check and mate.

Personally, these Stupid Americans presently dying from COVID should likely have “Dumb” listed as their Cause of Death, but maybe that’s just their comorbidity.

When I got to this guy’s destination, we were still chatting. I told him that his was the liveliest debate I’d had all weekend and thanked him. Not conversation…debate. But I still appreciated it because I felt like he actually started listening after I called him on his interruptions.

Yeah, he didn’t tip.

I’m wondering if tomorrow I’ll find out that I got my first ever non-5-star rating…

All that being said, even though I’m giving in to my grumpy old man-ness on this issue, I should still probably do some actual yoga. What could possibly go wrong?

Compassionate Yoga

Today’s Menu

Server at Breakfast: What’ll ya have?

Me: I’ll have an order of “Doing Something I Really Don’t Want To Do” with a side of “Too Little, Way Too Late”, please.

Black Sheep Bro: And I’ll have an order of the “Crow”, which I’m just going to push around my plate to make it look like I’ve eaten some of it.

Family is tough sometimes. Just like any relationship.

I understand – in a strictly theoretical manner – that BSB’s decision to come back to the family is something my parents are pretty much powerless against. I often say that parenting is a job you never take a day off from, and my parents certainly do not. I also imagine for the past nearly twenty years, that job has been pretty much shitty pain for them where my estranged brother is concerned.

On the flip side, my other sibs and I are afforded the luxury of viewing this like any other toxic relationshit er, relationship. With all the protection afforded by a hearty Prove It shield.

I’m the guinea pig amongst the sibs. Which is unfortunate, since I’m probably the most prone to a default forgiveness setting and possess a rarely-pays-off sense of optimism.

Remember, I like to gamble.

If you want to get a taste of the past damage BSB has brought to my family, there’s a hashtag around here somewhere.

The menu for the rest of the day is much less choretastic.

At 10 I’ll be hitting the road to visit Little Buddy in the Columbia River Gorge. If you think that’s code for “Wine Tasting”, you’re wrong. It’s not code at all…it’s simply synonymous.

Friend time, wine tasting and eating my weight in charcuterie and 3 foot breadsticks?

Yes, please!

So basically, my day’s post-breakfast menu is all dessert!

Today’s Menu

Uplift

One of the running themes I try to include in my novels is helping others out. Whether it’s direct or emotional assistance, I think that’s important in a society.

Its absence from Gay Kulture is one of my biggest pet peeves about my community. I shorthand that by saying that “there’s no unity in the gay community”.

But that’s another blog.

Last night, I got to see a version of this in play in real life and it made me so happy. And I didn’t even have to leave my block!

I had wandered into the restaurant next door for dinner. I was celebrating completing back-to-back challenge weeks – which equated to two weeks of 135 rides in about 50 hours. For context, a more normal week for me is 40-50 rides in about 20 hours.

Ow, my ass.

I knew from the owner that one of original kitchen staff was returning as of last Friday. I didn’t know that one of the servers was going to be taking over Sunday and Monday bartending duties from the owner starting last night, though.

That was a nice surprise. Apparently, he’d expressed an interest in bartending during his interview and business and timing worked out.

But on top of that, when my friend made it out of the kitchen to say hi, I learned that she’d been hired as a chef and not just as part of the line like she’d been before. She was glowing with pride at that accomplishment.

I left the restaurant with a belly full of good food and drink and a heart full for the professional development this restauranteur has been able to create for two nice humans. So, tonight – to keep up my end of the whole “living in a society” deal – I had to take a moment to pull the owner aside and tell him how satisfying it is to see someone providing true opportunities for people. I think part of my ability to see that comes from the reality that during my retail career, leadership tended to punish people for being effective by not promoting them. Much easier to hire and train one person from the outside versus having two people new to their roles at the same time, right? So selfish.

Funny how I couldn’t sit in my driver’s seat any longer yesterday, but my ass handled a barstool just fine…

Uplift

I Pledge Allegiance

…to the trauma caused by the symbol of America’s freedom.

Is it just me or do other people have a little situational PTSD after the abuse our nation’s flag has endured in the last year? Usually, when I see the flag, I feel a swell of pride or nostalgia.

Nostalgia from the years of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag at the start of each school day. Or – also quite timely – from watching opening or closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

Pride from knowing our country’s history and what we’ve grown into in such a relatively short time as a nation.

But after last year…a twinge of shame and a flash of trauma have replaced those more positive associations.

Not that the shame isn’t somewhat warranted as I’ve witnessed the racial equity protests in my hometown over the past 16 months. Or watched as the GOP politicizes teaching truthful history that would reduce the cancer of white nationalism in America from growing as rampantly in future generations.

Knowledge is power.

Whiteness is not.

But the PTSD…after being caught in so many Trump Truck Parades last year, it’s haunting. People still fly various incarnations of the American flag, the Back the Blue flag or the Trump 2020 flag on their trucks as they drive through town. It’s more prevalent in the suburbs than the city proper, but I still see them on the highways close in and feel a sense of insecurity when they pass by. Also in the subs, you’ll find people flying American flags from their homes or fences in dubious proximity to their neighbor’s Black Lives Matter yard signs.

I truly and fearfully believe that it’s the leading ripples of the divisive wave that our Uncivil War will surf in on…

Our diseased national mental health crisis.

Not even the tiny flags that fire trucks – and I saw an inordinate amount of fire trucks while driving this weekend – gave me a swell of pride. I felt a little hope, but nothing that stuck around longer than it took for the fire trucks to pass by.

Honestly, the greatest hope – and I’m loathe to call it hope – I have for our country is for Darwin to throw an epic and devastating win on the board with vaccine deniers over the coming months. And I feel repulsed by the notion that a massive, locally concentrated death toll is what my “hope” is for these Stupid Americans snapping out of the gaslit hold the Svengali-like GOP and church have on their minds.

Help me, Common Sense…you’re my only hope.

I Pledge Allegiance

cRapture

I keep proChristinating this post, thinking it will become a moot point once this leaves my consciousness. But this song is either in heavy rotation on my local station or I’m simply attenuated to it.

Perhaps finally writing this ridiculous post will jar it loose.

Plus, I’ve kinda been on a Chris’ Musical Musings World Tour lately, so…why not? Add to that I’m getting a little I.V. anesthesia soon and I assume you’ll see my moderate urgency in finally completing this. Maybe.

When was the last time you heard the song Rapture by Blondie? Better yet, when was the last time you listened to it?

High School?

College?

Ask yourself this, were we listening to it or hearing it? Because, I gotta tell ya…hearing it is one completely enjoyable bop. Listening to it however made me wonder if this is suddenly the first time in my life I’ve not been…impaired while hearing it.

Witness:

Fair enough beginning, right? Until the shopping part, you could fairly assume it’s a song about dancing. That spine themed stanza or verse is particularly evocative of dance.

Then this…possibly the first breakdown – that’s what rapping used to be called, kids – in musical history by a white woman. Arguably one of the best – although reading said breakdown may cause fresh arguments on that topic.

Were we collectively high when we were grooving to this? No? Just stupid?

Fair enough.

Who knew Subaru was a plural form of itself? Also, RIP: Mercury Motors. Clearly they didn’t get the celebrity spokesperson memo…

But that breakdown just keeps going. Like it’s finished digging its absurdity hole and decides to pull the dirt in after itself.

Ate all the cars. Switched to bars, but not bars with TVs playing and then went on a guitar diet.

What the heck?

I cannot decide if I need to just admit to myself I was a stupid kid when it came to lyrics like these or if I should fabricate a backstory that includes a little stay at this little place I know of in the desert. That would be a good cover…

cRapture

Update: People Still Dumb

My recent temp assignment ended last Friday. I wasn’t sad about it. Originally, my wrangler told me it was a four week, 9:30-5, Monday-Friday thing.

He knows how I feel about this.

But, having not been on assignment for 16 months, I took it, despite not wanting to commit full-time to anything. My rationale was twofold: first, it’ll change up my pandemic imposed only-driving schtick; and, as an added bonus might serve to get me a future assignment.

Work is about relationships.

Anyway, it turned out that this business was BiPOC and woman-owned, so I felt even better for taking the plunge. Despite the fact that the owner referred to it on day one as a six week assignment.

Once again, sticking it out played into my favor, because after the scope was explained to me – entering eight months of payroll data into QuickBooks – and I was up and running, it seemed like a fine way to go blind pass some time. Once I knew what I was doing, I even asked the owner how many pay periods she reasonably thought I should be able to get through in a day. She replied that two seemed about right…and I figured that I could do two pay periods in about six hours, so suddenly things were looking rather part-time for your favorite grumpopatomus.

Even better was the math suggesting that I’d be done in two week’s time at that pace!

Fear not…it was an interesting two weeks.

I’d drive a little on my way to the office, arriving at 10, well ahead of the owner each of the three times I saw her. Then I’d give a few rides on the way home so I arrived after paid street parking hours – I’m crafty like that. Really, I felt like I was having the best of both worlds, so I was content.

Until…because there’s always another shoe, right?

Oregon lifted nearly all restrictions just before the Fourth of July. The result was that if you weren’t certain where you were, you might think you were in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras.

Seriously, people were out in such numbers that they were packed to overflowing on the sidewalks. There were some corners where cars had to drive single file through a four lane intersection simply to avoid striking someone.

Because, somehow that would be the driver’s fault.

Anyway, I got a call on one such weekend night here in the Alphabet District to pick someone up a few blocks from my home. The pickup was on 14th at Hoyt, about two blocks from where a freeway exit dumps off about a quarter of the traffic of people coming downtown to party on weekends.

Of course these idiots take their full five minute wait time (and then some) to get down onto the street and into my car. Because when you’re getting picked up on a two lane road that close to a freeway off ramp, why would you concern yourself with minor details like how your lack of readiness impacts dozens of other people while your driver is double-parked in that five minute window?

Speaking of details, the app warns people of the company policy to protect its passengers and drivers – specifically, no one sits in the front seat and everyone wears masks. It pops up every damn time you book a ride.

Twice

Naturally, these considerate people are on a double date and ask if one of them can sit in the front. Since I was already done for the night and so close to home, I figured “Why not?”

I could be the cool mom.

Plus, I’d seen that they were only going to 9th and Couch, so it was going to be a quick ride…four blocks over and five blocks down. They quite probably could have walked there in the amount of time it took me to drive to them. Probably they could have even walked there in the six minutes I ended up waiting for them.

Naturally, once these inconsiderate idiots had piled in and we were underway, I saw that none of them had put on masks. After mentioning it, their leader said he didn’t know that was still a thing – and that they were all vaccinated.

I mentioned the above opportunities for him to have realized that it was, in fact, still a thing. Adding in that vaccinated or not, the safeguards were put in place to protect everyone, not just their privileged asses. But not wanting to harsh their mellow, I mentioned sometimes people miss things, like I had when it took two minutes for me to realize they weren’t wearing masks – while I was also driving.

This snot-nosed little shithead suggested that maybe my app needed updating.

Yeah, because this is my main source of income.

Sure

I was telling him that I was just being polite earlier and what a dumbass he must be for missing two reminders of the policies when we pulled up to the club and the line was around two corners of the block.

Two!

“Have fun!” I yelled as they slammed their car doors. I fully suspect they walked right up to the club entrance, pretending they didn’t notice the line.

Idiots.

Sharing this story with the only person I regularly saw at my temp assignment, I got a lil TMI that turned my amused rage into stunned discomfort. This person was the company admin, a real Jane of all trades.

She mentioned never knowing who was vaccinated and who wasn’t – which gave me an opportunity to praise the diligence with which she managed the temperature log for visitors and also tell her I’d overheard her coworker mention to her that her mother had been on her to get her vaccination done.

Thin walls, small office.

This is where the overshare came in.

I learned that the office manager – who I’d never met – was out for two weeks, isolating after her daughter was contacted about a COVID close call. And that she was also not vaccinated.

Then, this woman whose company I had enjoyed in the office during my assignment volunteers that she also is not vaccinated. That’s three of the six other people in the office. The remainders, I didn’t know whether they were or weren’t, but was surprised to realized that I’d just assumed they were.

Like a fool.

I check in to see if she knew that the black community was disproportionately affected by COVID – and she admits that yes, she knows.

I ask if there’s more truth to the distrust that blacks are reported to have of medical science than I’d given it. While she affirmed that those reports of distrust were true, that wasn’t why she hadn’t gotten her vaccination.

She somehow felt it was important to share that in addition to being late 50s and overweight, she also has diabetes and asthma.

I ran out of fingers to tally her co-morbidities on.

“I prayed about it real hard”, she said earnestly. “I figure if Jesus wants me to get the shot, he’ll put it on my heart and I just haven’t felt that.”

Ok, what the fuck.

You don’t trust doctors because they are exceedingly not black…but the old whitey who lives in the clouds is your trusted authority?

I can see the death certificate now. Cause of Death: FAITH.

It was all I could do to not say what I was thinking…I hope Jesus puts that vaccine on your heart before Mother Nature puts COVID on your lungs.

The next week, the owner calls out sick two days in a row and takes a COVID test the third day. It’s embarrassing how permissive people are when it comes to letting themselves look like fools.

Update: People Still Dumb