Don’t Call It A Recap…

Especially when recrap would be a much better way to sum up 2020.

And since it’s 2020 we’re talking about, I’m just going to talk about the last two months – really, the last month, outside of an early November mention. The whole year would run 20000 words, I’m sure.

Truth be told, I’m just going to bitch about a few things that broke down and then express a little post-holiday gratitude. This shouldn’t take long,

All in all, I’d summarize 2020 as a year in which if it didn’t break, it probably died.

Here’s a few things that gave it up in the last weeks of the year:

My laptop. As I geared up for NaNoWriMo in early November, my laptop started shitting its pants whenever it stepped off a high curb. I’d planned a non-fiction piece about job searching in my fifties. Fortunately, after a few hours of online tutorials, I was able to coax my laptop back to the land of the continent. That NaNo project, though…never did quite manage the download from brain to laptop. The Silver Fox stood by helpfully – virtually – while also acing his best friend duties by offering up the MacBooks he saw at Costco as a potential solution. I thought about it, even looked at one online in my most frustrated moment, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. The Costco offering was ~$800 and an Air model. In hindsight, that would have layered in what turned out to be unnecessary excuses for not tapping out a NaNo entry this year since the Air just doesn’t have the memory for writing like the Pro does.

New Pros run $1500-2400 and a used one is gettable for around $400. That’s what I did last time I replaced my laptop. I ended up with a refurbished model that was a year newer than my old one, so on balance I’m netting up two years of use…and counting.

After that brush with disaster, it looked like smooth sailing.

This being my life, that didn’t last long. The second and third weeks of December made week one of November look like a snowball next to their avalanche of misery.

Let’s see…

This is probably a clunky segue after my snow analogy, but it started to rain in the second week of December. Hardly a surprise in the PNDub, but I mean it rained. Like, people were walking around with expressions that said, “All that pandemic home improvement we did and we didn’t think to add pontoons?!?”

That type of rain.

I didn’t really notice it outside hearing things like “two inches in the last 36 hours” on the radio.

Until…I came home from running errands one day, took off my shoes, kicked up my feet to watch some Seinfeld for a couple hours and then – when I put my shoes and socks back on so I could go drive, my socks were wet. Flipping over my shoes, I was greeted with the thought, “How long ago did I get these?!?”

Walked the hell out of them, I did.

Off to NikeTown I went.

I was shocked by a couple of things:

First, my new shoes were only $130. I say “only” because that is about what I remember paying for my last few pairs – further reinforcing my suspicion that I haven’t had these last shoes that long. In reality, I recollect it being about 2 1/2 years, so they had more of a life than old Phil and his shareholders would like.

Second, the kid who helped me with my purchase was both unnecessarily tall and flirty. I’m not mad about that last part.

Next, as I rushed to get to the Festivus episode of Seinfeld before Christmas, my TV crapped out on me. It just started shutting off after an hour or two of play. I’d reboot it and it would come back…for a couple days. Then it just stopped powering on altogether. Haven’t been able to revive it yet using the same Internet U continuing education resources I did with my laptop. I might need to actually get someone on the horn to figure it out.

Then again, the other U – as in Universe – might be trying to tell me it’s all for naught. Last night, my final ride was a pick up at Video Only, a local electronics chainlet. While I waited in front for my passenger to emerge, I had prime seating for the TVs playing right inside the door.

Also, now I know that my car will hold a 65″ TV.

But in a fit of mixed messages, the guy wasn’t a tipper, which I’d interpret as the Universe steering me away from a new TV after putting me in front of Video Only’s temptations. And this is a rather significant sign since on top of having to figure out the logistics of getting a large object into a small space (merry Christmas, Diezel) this ride was from the far north end of town – literally, the Oregon border – to the far southeast quadrant of town…over 30 minutes, thanks to an accident on the crosstown. Yeah, by all means, feel free to drag your huge TV away from that scenario with no feeling of gratitude.

Let’s see…laptop, TV, sneakers…what else?

Oh!

Angela. This would be Pat the Patriot’s replacement from last February, who I don’t write about often because she doesn’t spend an average of a week in the shop each month like Pat did. Still, the other day – Christmas Eve – I got in the car to drive a bit and my low tire pressure alarm went off. Looking at the vehicle status screen on the onboard, I saw that the back passenger tire was the issue, but it was only a half PSI off of the next closest pressure level. I chalked that up to the morning being rather colder than the more recent days and planned to monitor it as I drove and fill it when I parked later. Sure enough, as the tire warmed up, the pressure crept up but still needed an eventual top off.

Undaunted, after eight rides, the Universe tossed me another grenade.

I pulled to a stop at a freeway exit and while I waited for the light to change, Angela made a sound I’ve not heard before. Let me tell you, I love the onboard computer, but the alarms are not subtle.

Everything is DEFCON 4.

“Hey, dummy…get gas!” makes the same sound as “Low Tire Pressure”. That’s also the same sound as the warning for low outside temperature…which is triggered at an unalarming and balmy 37 degrees.

However, the sound Angela made at that off ramp made me debate running away from the vehicle. On top of that, I was treated to my dash display and my onboard console display both changing screens to tell me my brake pads needed replacing.

It was rather a stimulation overflow.

Hell, with all that fuss, I’d have thought the wheels had come completely off the vehicle.

Nonetheless, I managed to both proChristinate getting gas and filling the low tire, so when I got in my car later that day – to go searching for wrapping paper, which was harder to find on Christmas Eve than crapping paper was in March – I was treated to a deafening cacophony of alarms that lasted about two blocks.

Sweet Jesus, Germans…calm the hell down.

But, as of Christmas morning, the only alarm still regularly greeting me is the brake pads warning. It is, however, pulling double duty. I hear it when I start the car and again when I switch it off…so, someone is looking out for my C.R.S. Hoorah?

Not for nothing, I check my mail midweek, generally. Last night, for whatever reason, I checked it when I came home.

Yeah…pretty sure that’s a ticket. The city is pretty good about screaming the purpose of its mailings if you pay attention. Sometimes it’s as easy as seeing the bold type that screams “City Arts Tax Statement” and others, it’s just knowing that the mailing address is the County Health Clinic just down the way. Not that I’ve ever gotten a letter from them…

The vagueness of this letter – only a “Response Requested Within Thirty Days” to guide me – made me think “request” was meant to trick me into opening it. Like I’m getting invited to the Mayor’s re-election party or something. And I do remember driving one night and seeing three strobe like flashes out of the corner of my eye. I looked at my dash and saw I was doing low 40s in a 35 MPH zone, but wrote it off as paranoia since I was also on an old state highway versus at an intersection where one usually sees red light cameras.

Heck, I don’t even know if Portland uses photo radar for ticketing. I can’t wait to find out when I open this sometime next July.

Now, just to make sure that you’re not all looking longingly at your own balconies or googling “macrame nooses” – that might just be a Portland thing – remember, I did get a pair of new sneakers out of the ordeal.

Plus, then there’s the actual good things that happened in the last few months, no wait…weeks, no…wait hours of the year. Optimistically, I’m choosing to accept these as net positives despite the fact that the Universe tends toward Lucy behaviors to my Charlie Brown existence.

For instance, when I checked my mail last week, I got a Christmas card from Little Buddy.

I know it’s hokey and completely against my typical on-brand bitterness, but just look at that grandpa playing Santa with his grand baby! It just made me tear up again!

Also mail related: when I checked my mail last night, I found that the City of Seattle had gotten its shit together and sent me some unclaimed money.

Mind you, Portland had theirs resolved weeks ago. Like pre-Thanksgiving. But on the upside, I was expecting $100 and got a check for $123, so…I’m not complaining. Hopefully that maybe-ticket isn’t too much more than that. Actually, if the maybe-ticket turns out to be a not-ticket, that check can go right into my New TV Fund!

The actual bummer here is that I don’t want a New TV Fund. I’d been hoping to have January bills squared away last week so I could maybe splurge on a Peloton-like bike for home. My 2021 non-fiction project is going to be a bit of a redux to my Fitfy blog theme. I figure that will nicely close the loop on my aging series of non-fiction: dating, working and fitness.

Anyway, I digress. Now we’re up to Christmas Day!

I’m not kidding when I – again, against my Early Onset Grumpiness brand – say that seeing my sister and her family of three for the first time this year had me feeling things. My attendance at family Christmas was (secretly) predicated upon the size of the gathering.

Our Thanksgiving had been four – mom, dad, youngest bro and I – from three households. State guidance was no more than six – pass! – from two households – fail! Those guidelines held for Christmas, too.

That said, Christmas was set to be that same group along with the welcome addition of my sister’s family from central Oregon and the unwelcome addition of Black Sheep Bro and his two teenaged sons, whom none of us have ever met.

From Texas.

If the pandemic weren’t a thing, I’d still have “put my foot down” level issues with this occurrence.

After screwing up my courage – not in an alcohol related way – I took my shot with the parents. It’s not that I begrudge them their parental – and grandparental feelings – which I will never experience first hand, but my shot was that Christmas should be a repeat of Thanksgiving.

I know. This is why people sometimes call me the Voice of Treason.

But I figured not saying anything would be the real problem. And I didn’t want the Christmas follow up conversations to be:

People: What did you get for Christmas?

Me: Dead Family. You?

So, I said it.

What I offered was to do a same day drive over and back to drop off and pick up gifts for my sister’s family…on the additional condition that we all *not* miss BSB for another Christmas. As expected, the results were like my favorite joke* and resulted in BSB being cordially disinvited but my sister still coming over.

That suited me fine enough. Although I was chagrined-ish to run into my brother in law and nephew in the drive when I arrived, on their way out to walk the dog. After exchanging greetings and getting a brief update, my brother in law says to me, “Are you going to wear your mask in the house?” I’d completely put it on out of habit before getting out of the car.

At least I’m consistent.

Now, what you should know about my family is that we are terrible Americans. At least as far as Christmas goes. We have a small family. I’d say our “core” census is seven: mom, dad, sis, brother in law, nephew, brother, me. Even adding in what I’d call the extended family – my uncle’s family in Texas and my 98 year old hermit of a grandfather – only adds five to that.

Then there’s BSB trying to add in his brood of three to our numbers now that the wife he basically left the family for has left him. Allegedly for something that comes with a cork in it. I shared a bedroom with the guy growing up, though, and I’d say the wine was a cure and not the cause my BSB would have us believe.

But that’s another blog.

The reason we are bad Americans at Christmas is that we draw names for our gift exchange versus just buying everyone gifts from everyone. However, the upside is that between breakfast and dinner, we only have to open ~7 gifts instead of four or five dozen, so there’s very little disruption to our holiday feeding frenzy.

On top of that, we make lists. Whoever draws our names basically has a cheat sheet. My youngest brother, as I gather – having not seen his list, even put down websites. That guy came to Thanksgiving prepared!

Me? I came to Thanksgiving oblivious. When I learned the routine for this year, I was stuck completely in “What the fuck do I want?!?” mode.

I vamped my way through my list of 3-5 things before coming up with something useful:

1) Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice

2) Skateboard

Here’s the explanation of those requests. Really, though, I hoped I didn’t get those items because I’m old and hips are expensive.

3) This Tee

And then my brain kicked into gear.

4) An InstaPot.

There had been an InstaPot at last year’s Christmas, but it was a White Elephant style exchange and it got stolen by mom. But I loved the Brady Bunch Inspired gift I brought home…

I present to you the real reason 2020 has been such a shit show!

Now, this year’s rules mandated that the gifts be given anonymously – which I missed, so my brother in law knew I was his Santa – so when I opened my gift, I didn’t know who to check for smirkage.

Because it’s me, and I didn’t just happen, I was completely open to my Santa being someone who knew I’d never buy myself an InstaPot and that I was disappointed to not walk with one last Christmas. Heck, I’d gone rogue and bought my nephew a gift card to a sporting goods store and debated putting it in a box with some rocks to weigh it down, so I couldn’t reasonably expect my Santa to not have had the same notion.

But, not knowing who to scrutinize for tells, I was left with opening up the outer box for verification.

Blammo!

Apparently, not only can you find one for $100 – that’s another rule – you can find one that connects to goddamn wifi and can be controlled from your smartphone. What an amazing time to be alive!

I finally found out that my Santa was my sister. When I told her I was worried my list was either entirely gibberish or over the price limit, she gave me a humblebrag about her ability to “find a deal”. Whether that meant she’s a legit Coupon Queen or threw me a bone and bought the only thing on my list that wasn’t snarky, despite having to bend a rule is unclear. I am pretty sure she honestly found a deal. She is good like that.

Now, I just gotta decide what to make and then screw up my courage to do it!

All in all, it’s a year that makes me think “I should have moved into a unit on a higher floor” whenever I stand on my balcony. Luckily, the year is nearly behind us, so I don’t think I will be worrying whether a four story drop would qualify as a landing I could walk away from or not.

Now, for all of you who waited patiently for the *, here’s my favorite joke of all time:

What do you get when you cross the Atlantic with the Titanic?

Halfway.

Keep in mind, I heard this joke as a pre-teen on the friggin’ Muppet Show. That Fozzy Bear could bring a house down, I tell ya. But four decades later and I’m still carrying his torch!

Don’t Call It A Recap…

I’m A Psychic!

Completely acknowledging that I’ve definitely been called worse. However, as my own most severe critic, I tend to let other people’s gentler criticisms bounce off of me and swirl into the gutter where they belong.

But while psycho might be a more popular moniker amongst my lesser fans, psychic is strictly an internal title. At least as far as I know – as if that’s not an indictment of the very skill I am claiming.

Fine.

Let’s meet in the middle and call this my special version of psychic: preemptive lucky guesses.

The inspirational guess for this entry?

The Silver Fox.

A couple weeks back, he graced me with a visit so he could knock out 300 doctors appointments we could finally finish watching Ozark, which we started before he decamped to Monmouth for the end of the world. Because I’m figuratively an acerbic son of a bitch, I chose to remind him that he packed his calendar and seemed to expect me to make myself available during his free time during the two days he was in town. I also whined about his doctors appointments requiring him to fast the day before, which also eliminated my favorite social pastime.

No, I’m not telling you what that is, you really ought to be able to guess – even if you aren’t psychic like me. Ok, wait…just so none of my more sarcastic friends guess “masturbating”, the pastime in question is beer drinking!

This whining had the intended manipulative side effect of guilting him into staying an extra day – which I also complained about because that was a Friday…big drive day for me normally. But I took the day off to spend time with him.

All of this, by the way, just highlights why I should be exactly as single as I am.

Anyway, back to the acerbic part.

When we met to have dinner and watch the final episode of Ozark’s third season, I greeted The Fox with the accusation question: “Did you manage to meet with your realtor between doctors appointments while you were up here?”

Having spent enough time around me to be infected with my toxic sarcasm, he replied in the affirmative. Because he’s the Silver Fox, his affirmative response was also inscrutable.

I let it lie, but I had to do a little work to maintain my level of denial disbelief.

How does this all make me psychic?

I’m now having dreams that when I check his mail – worst paying job I’ve ever had, incidentally…but I might still add it to the resume since I’m closing in on a year in that position – I find realtor’s business cards on his countertop when I take it into his condo.

For those who have never been involved in or on the periphery of a home purchase, realtors leave business cards in houses they show so the listing agent has their contact info for follow up or whatnot. Additionally, you should just drop into open houses in your area. It’s fun to just look, plus, you may get a cookie out of it.

Anyway, I’m dealing with the dream situation by avoiding taking his mail into his condo when I check it. I’m tossing the junk mail in the recycling and leaving the few pertinent actual mail pieces in his box for now. If it gets too full, I’ll have to decide if I want to bring it over to my place or risk finding out my dreams really were visions…ostensibly, I should be able to handle a blow like that after New Years. Inauguration Day at the latest.

But I know for sure I can’t risk that type of blow in what’s left of this shit show of a year. That would definitely cause me to revisit the cho/chic suffixes I mentioned at the top of this post.

I’m A Psychic!

The Red Shirt Diaries: #25

Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve posted under this theme.

Maybe it’s been 100 years, maybe only 9 months. If I’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that time is excruciating relative.

Another interesting thing about 2020 has been how the mentally lethal distractions that inspired this theme – based off of the pre-credit scenes in the original Star Trek, where some extra in a red shirt always seemed to die after beaming down to a strange, new world – have shifted. Before the quarantimes, these mental deaths were always near misses with my own mortality.

Now?

I’m projecting.

Lunch with my parents?

People emerging from lockdown 1.0, unsure of how to navigate life in “the real world” again?

A friend’s small wedding?

Family gathering in Central Oregon for my nephew’s 21st?

Bubble Boy not texting back in a timely manner?

Yeah, they all died at one point or another in my neurotic mess of a brain.

It’s fascinating that my prochristination has me finally getting this out of draft on Thanksgiving Eve. After shaking my initial misgivings about meeting my parents for lunches on their trips into town, I still get a little heebaliscious when thinking about dinner at their house tomorrow.

I overcame my original disease with lunches after just admitting that with the Silver Fox in isolation with his ex-wife about 90 minutes south of Portland, my own isolation was poised to redefine the term lonely. Knowing that I was either at home or driving made me realize that my parents were likely the only people I would actually see intentionally and with any regularity during the lockdown.

Even though I was driving with Lyft ~20 hours a week, I felt like the table between us was buffer enough, since I was completely masked up while I drove people around. Still, it took a few months before we ventured back into hug territory.

Knowing that dinner tomorrow would be just my parents and youngest brother, I agreed to the pandemic indulgence. I still took this past week off from driving, on a doctor’s advice. Right now, I feel like the biggest risk to our meal is a nosey neighbor calling the cops to report our gathering. The Governor has set a 6 people or less from no more than 2 household rule on the day. We will be only 4, but from 3 households. Since the Guv has gone the shocking extra step of encouraging people to report their neighbors if they suspect a violation of these guidelines, I’m thinking maybe I should pick my brother up along the way.

And because my parents are like poster children for great parents, Tuesday evening I start getting texts about coming out tonight to have a special dinner and spend the night.

It’s quite a nostalgic pull from the days when I lived out of state and would fly in early for holidays. But this year, I just can’t get there. I’m missing the rationalization that would make me comfortable spending that much time in their home, potentially exposing them to my city germs.

Also, there’s Myrtle. She’s kind of a situation.

After getting her, I took the advice of friends and family with cats and left her for the night with extra food – with a healthy 50% bump just to be sure – and went to my parents’. Myrtle being Myrtle, I came home to cat puke everywhere – none “fresh” – and a starving cat.

Stupid animal.

The next phase was taking her out with me.

That was an exercise in animal cruelty. She screamed the entire trip out in her cat carrier. Once we arrived, she stayed under the bed the entire visit. Emerging, from what I can tell, only once for some water and to shit on my parents’ hallway carpet.

It’s not easy being her.

So, for many reasons, I demurred on the invite for tonight. Then I woke up with a sore throat today, because that’s just my neurotic brain having fun with me.

But having skipped my nephew’s birthday, dreading the following two weeks and filling my dreams with sole survivor scenarios where my nephew, younger brother and I were the last of our clan, I wanted to go to Thanksgiving dinner.

But now the dreams are back.

COVID has messed up my sleep schedule pretty good. I won’t mix my syzzurp sleep aid with alcohol, so if I drink I’ve resigned myself to bad sleep. But it’s been next level bad these past two weeks. I’ll stay up too late and then get woken up by Myrtle around 9, after logging 4-5 hours. Or, I’ll go to bed around 10 and wake up around 2, wide awake. On the days I can fall back to sleep, it’s usually not until 5 or 6 and then Myrt still wakes me up around 9.

It’s crap.

I think Myrtle just wants the bed. But still, I don’t want to be at my parents’ house with this crap going on and accidentally wake their dogs with my late night meanderings around the house – because then everyone is up.

But I know that part of my recent sleep problems are due to bad dreams. I just want them to remain bad dreams, I don’t need the reality my brain tries selling my unconscious self.

But overall – and I think this is something I need to acknowledge gratefully – no one close to me has died from COVID. Friends of Facebook friends is as close as its come to touching my life in reality. The back of my mind is screaming that I’m due, but I’m shushing it for all I’m worth.

No one got sick from my nephew’s birthday.

No one died after the wedding I dipped on.

There’s been plenty of non-COVID close calls because people forgot how to live after 1.0 ended, but again, nothing in my direct realm.

Then there’s Bubble Boy.

Just so I don’t bury the lead, he’s still alive.

Lil fucker got himself stabbed, though, so it’s not like he’s coming out of this unscathed.

No. I did not do the stabbing. Well, not the literal stabbing. <wink, wink>

Bubble Boy is someone I’ve hooked up with a few times over the years since I moved back to Portland. No, he is not a part of the Dating Into Oblivion blog theme or subsequent book – since we don’t date so much as we mate. He’s not interested in dating and he’s not boyfriend material if he were. But he’s a hot little nugget of a man, I’ll tell you that.

So when lockdown hit and he was up to meet, I decided – after the first three months – to go for it. It took me that long to rationalize a guy in his early 30s having the discipline to isolate or take reasonable precautions during a pandemic.

Sure enough, we start connecting a couple times a month versus our every month or two pre-lockdown rhythm. Then he goes quiet in August. After one missed assignation and a couple unreturned texts, I arrive expeditiously at the obvious conclusion.

Dead.

Then I spend a week re-isolating, assuming – irrationally, I know – that he is in hospital or dead from COVID and that I’ve been exposed, symptoms lacking be damned. Also 1000% not surprised that this might have been the case that my psyche is trying to make to me.

When he finally blips back onto the radar, my reaction to learning he’d been in hospital was “Naturally” and to mentally pat myself on the back. And to be relieved he survived.

After he misses a couple more text replies and another “date” with the explanation that he’d been back in hospital, I ask if he’s sure he should be making plans to meet.

Oh, yeah. I’m fine, my stitches just keep getting infected is all.

Oh, okaaaay.

But, c’mon. You just know that I had to demand an explanation after that overshare.

Stabbed.

“Oh, is that all?” – Me.  Really, it’s so not shocking I ended up alone.

Sure enough, desperate times did indeed breed desperate measures and he’d been mugged one night on his way home. I didn’t press for details, rather assuming it was from something acceptable like essential work.

Plus, I’m enough of a Portlander to know that we are a stabby lot.

You think I’m kidding.

Poorly, by the way. His attacker stabbed him in the collarbone. Of all the…I mean, I’ve never stabbed anyone, but I think I could do so without my blade bouncing off a collarbone, FFS. Although, admittedly on his 5’3″ self, I’d have to work to get down to gut level and avoid ribs and whatnot.

Ok, I’ve clearly put too much thought into that.

But that’s kind of the point of The Red Shirt Diaries – an overactive and macabre imagination.

To redeem myself, when we did successfully meet up post-stabbing and he interrupted the usual commotion involved in our involvement with a caution to be careful of his stitches, I replied by pushing his face deeper into the mattress with one hand, telling him this was his idea and smacking his ass with my other hand.

My little freaky-deaky f*ckbuddy seemed to rather enjoy that. But I also think he knows me well enough to know that I was, indeed, more careful of his stitches after that.

So…one more day to get through and then a couple weeks of what I know will be a neurotic red shirt-esque death watch and hopefully I can sail into the new year with a still-full compliment of friends and family, despite my relatively empty quarantine bubble.

But let’s face it, this being my life, you just have to know that I’d be the one to die of COVID in my circle. How I can’t get there with the people actually in my bubble probably goes back to being raised by great parents who taught me to be concerned for others…

The Red Shirt Diaries: #25

Lockdown 2.0

Welp. Here we are, it’s round two of stay at home orders here in Oregon.

Two weeks for the state and it’s looking like Portland’s home county – Multnomah – will get a bonus two weeks. Here in Portland/MultCo, we’ve been running about 1/4 of the daily cases for the entire state. Our ICU beds are at over 80% capacity, although in our defense there, we do have either the lowest or damn near lowest inventories of ICU beds in the country on a x/1000 residents basis…

Through that lens, I’d say we deserve the extra two weeks. No, we need the extra two weeks.

Looking at it through the Stupid Americans lens, I’m curious how we will execute the extra two weeks of isolation with the rest of the state resuming its running around like COVIDiots. Ok, we’ve been hit pretty lightly by COVID compared to the rest of the country, but still, Portland proper touches three counties: Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington. How does this compliance pep talk go?

Governor Brown: Ok, everyone but Multnomah county residents can resume Phase 1 or 2 activities, but stay out of Multnomah county unless you live there!

Oregonians: It’s fine, we’ll wear masks if we have to go to Portland!

GB: Wait. Weren’t you wearing masks this whole time?

Oregonians: Well…<looks nervously at Clackamas county>

GB: I’m waiting. <taps shoe>

Oregonians: You’re looking for a “yes” here, right?

GB: …

Nothing has made me more nervous than having rides in east county or Clackamas – with the higher population of morons Trump supporters that live there. Indeed, it’s where the Trump Trucks staged prior to running amok around town waving guns, flying Trump, Back the Blue, Confederate and other racist flags from their trucks while spraying onlookers with bear spray and indiscriminately firing paint balls.

I keep thinking about that wall…I know a decent alternate location.

Anyway, knowing we’d be in lockdown again, with restaurants back to takeout service only, bars and gyms completely shut…I prepared. Once again, I did not run out and stock up on Crapping Paper, nor did I hoard food stocks. Although, I’d found stocking up on my go-to soda difficult. The local grocers usually have Buy x/Get x sales three weeks out of the month, so if I look around, I can stock up on Coke Zero (take that, V!) for a month at a time on the cheap. Not this time. After checking three stores close to me and finding them out of stock, I had to fall back to Diet Coke.

Optimistically or stubbornly, I only got one 12 pack. You decide. Of course, then I come home and settle into the couch to watch both Deadpool movies, binge some SNL, watch movies made in/around Portland (ugh, that means Twilight, too) and play Words With Friends over the next month. Only to be trolled by the WWF ad algorithm. Here I am, ready to ring the alarm about a local shortage of Coke Zero and I’m getting ads like this on WWF.

Bastards.

But I did avail myself to my local watering hole returning to beer delivery. Big Legrowlski is doing $10 crowlers (32 Oz filled on site cans) of their best of Oregon beer taps again. Two crowler minimum. Of course, I got Pallet Jack!

Well, two.

I joked and told the owner I wasn’t stocking up, I was getting one for each hand!

They kept the 22 Oz bottle of another of Oregon’s best – which I liberated from the Silver Fox’s fridge last time I collected his mail – company. Honestly, I thought they wouldn’t last the night when I picked them up last Tuesday.

I’ve surprised myself, though. One on Wednesday night. The second last night (Saturday) with my pizza night. Both nights, I expected to deplete my stock. You know what, though? That pilfered 22 Oz bottle of Breakside is still literally chilling in the fridge.

Yay, moderation!

But I really did intend to support Big Legrowlski with a 2x/week order, so I’d best get busy getting back to form. Or I could be perfectly content drinking less.

I did supplement my first order with the possibly limited edition Big Legrowlski face mask!

I hope The Dude abides. He didn’t seem too put out by my current favorite mask when I visited a few weeks back.

Still, now I can suck up to The Dude when I pick up next week’s order, right? I washed the BL mask before using it the first time. I gotta say, it felt like a Speedo for my face! It’s so sleek. Maybe I’ll save it for special occasions. Regardless, it does increase my mask inventory by 25%, so now I have more options when a couple are in the wash.

Not that I’m going anywhere anytime soon, but I’ve got a “Little Black Mask”, now…just in case I get invited anywhere formal once we are released from Lockdown 2.0, so there’s that.

Plus, beer delivery! Ok, just beer, I guess, since I pick it up.

Lockdown 2.0

Ohai…

No wrong answers here, but did you miss me?

Look, procrastination takes a lot of effort, ok? So I’ve been busy…not being busy.

I’ve somehow managed a few words here and there on my NaNoWriMo project for this year. Few being the key word. I should probably be closing in on 40k words and I have barely cracked a fifth digit.

Less surprising is that I’ve watched Ally McBeal, The Last Ship and the most recent season of The Crown in their entireties. Plus a few less memorable other series, I’m sure. And I’m current on season two of The Mandelorian. Not to mention starting Brooklyn 9-9 and restarting 30Rock.

And…even less surprising, haven’t found the mojovation (Chrisism) to exercise or bother with a blog entry in the last six weeks.

To that end – and to further my open secret procrastination goals – I’m committing to posting a blog entry each day this weekend. And seriously, with my mixed results enthusiasm for portmanteaus, you’d think I’d have come up with prochristination before now!

With all that in mind, and not wanting to hurt myself by starting out with too heavy a topic right out of the gate, let’s talk about my Murderous Myrtle. I promise, we’ll get to the Stupid Americans and Red Shirt Diaries posts I’ve been kicking around soon enough!

Last week, Facebook was kind enough to remind me that it was mine and Myrtle’s Cativersary. A nice welcome back to the platform after sitting out the election cycle as part of a study on how social media influences information sharing.

She was such a cute lil new and newly abandoned momma kitteh when we met. We’ve both piled on a few body positivity pounds in the ensuing five years we’ve shared. I’m sure there’s a hashtag around here somewhere if you want to track our misadventures together.

Hint, hint: it’s #MistressMyrtle

To mark the occasion – and put the $150 Amazon gift card I got for participating in the aforementioned study to good use – I got Myrt a new cat tree. Behold: cat tree 2.0!

Let’s face it, it needed to be done. Cat tree 1.0 had seen better days!

Her original, five years abused (and already once recovered by my sister) cat tree was a “welcome to your new home” gift from the Silver Fox. Seriously, look at the shredded rope on the lower post and just wonder why I sometimes call her Murderous Myrtle. Now, imagine what my lower legs look like.

Anyway, don’t be too surprised that I haven’t gotten the old cat tree out of my unit yet. I still have my retired area rug to get rid of.

This is the rug I bought in the Spring of ’19 – not to be confused with the Spring of COVID-19 – to replace the rug Myrtle ruined during our first two years together. That first rug was a nice coco-fiber number that I’d had for…almost two decades?!? Is that possible? Yeah, I think that’s about right. I bought my house in the Spring of ’99 and bought the rug shortly thereafter. I pitched it after growing tired of cleaning up balls of shredded coco-fiber from Myrtle sharpening her claws on the damn thing. Plus, the bald spots were trip hazards for my often over-indulged ass. The newer rug was just an uninspired industrial low pile affair in geometric grey shades. It lacked the rewarding claw sharpening experience, so Myrtle used it as a “powder room”. I could spot treat the affected areas so they didn’t stink or stain, and yet she persisted, so I just rolled it up to remove the temptation – extra emphasis on the “p“.

Both it and the now redundant cat tree 1.0 need a trip to the basement of my building for disposal. But as one of my still unfinished Red Shirt Diaries entries would establish, I have developed a growing fear of falling down as I’ve aged. Those stairs to the bowels of my building are steep!

And narrow!

I’m not sure adding carrying bulky things to them is good for what my doctor calls my apparently surprising condition: Persistent Survival.

So here they sit.

For her part, Myrtle gifted me a new wallet for our cativersary. My old one was nearing critical wear and tear.

The tearing from the top edges was only millimeters away from meeting the poked out holes in the corner seams. Luckily, upcycled bicycle tire tubes are surprisingly resilient.These tears had been slowly growing over the years. But this wallet by Alchemy Goods – in case you can’t see the company name on the card – has lasted since about 2007, so we had a good run.

Myrtle must have noticed the same Night Out style wallet on Amazon while approving the new cat tree options and added it to the cart before I checked out. Sneaky lil cat. But the replacement is in use and performing beautifully!

Everything you need for a night out, right? A window for your ID, in case you get carded – how retro – and a pocket for your credit/debit cards. That’s all I carry, so this is a great style for me. Plus, “night out” is a great way to shorthand my lifestyle.

So here’s to another 13 years of wear and tear. For my new wallet, from me; not from Myrtle to me…just to be clear. Since Myrtle is ~7, now, I figure this won’t be her last new cat tree. Still, I’m not sure we have another 13 years together, so her cat tree 3.0 or 4.0 might be bought by whomsoever takes over her care should she succeed in facilitating my demise in any of her possible future sneak attacks on my lower legs…

In the meantime, after a few uncertain examinations, Myrt seems to be warming up to her cat tree 2.0.

And, finally

Although, that last shot might have taken some covert dried salmon treats to accomplish.

Ohai…

Stüpid Uhmericnz

I can beat this drum all day. Not because it’s fun – although, often it can be funny to witless witness – rather, because it’s quasi therapeutic to not let these moments pass unrecognized.

Also, I like that people are coming around to my way of thinking. It’s about damn time. One is, after all, either a part of the solution or else part of the problem.

I’ve been kvetching about how cities protect themselves from skateboarder liability suits for over a decade. You know those little metal pucks that cities put on the corners of railing/benches/dividers to keep sk8ers from doing tricks on them?

Yeah, those gotta go.

If for no other reason than cities haven’t managed police reform to protect their BIPOC citizenry from police brutality – and they are willing to suffer those wrongful death or excessive force suits without taking action to correct the problem. I say “Why? Why, then shall we protect the city from lawsuits from injured skateboarders?”

Let’s face it, skate culture is – in my observation – largely a white guy thing. And they choose – free will and all that crap – to perform tricks on these public constructs, using them in a manner that is not intended. Without helmets, I might add.

For that matter, I haven’t seen one person get ticketed on those e-scooters for violating the terms of use and riding helmetless, either. But the City hasn’t outlawed e-scooters.

But, no…these little metal pucks are somewhere on virtually every block downtown. Not in neighborhoods, mind you. Liability there rests with homeowners. On public property, though, the City is potentially liable for injuries on its property, so it protects itself from frivolous lawsuits from parents of brain damaged teens or spouses of the paralyzed father of their children (proving that we really need qualifiers for parenthood beyond the almost involuntary ability to attain an erection) by installing these pucks to help prevent injury.

No, what we need here is a justice system that is a little more bitchy.

Hold on a second…you raised a child without enough common sense to wear the recommended safety equipment and bought them the skateboard and let them out of the yard unsupervised and they hurt themselves on City property. Now they are a vegetable and We The People are expected to shoulder the blame?

Yes.

Ok, bitch. First of all, the correct answer is “No”. “Hell no, even”. Secondly, the key phrase there is “they hurt themselves. Periodt. We The People had nothing to do with it, this is totally a “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” moment.

And, lastly, We The People think that we owe it to ourselves to ask if you need a date to the Darwin Awards, because we have a feeling you’ll be invited…and we’d really like to go!

Seriously, there really should be a public ceremony – if those are ever allowed again – actually awarding the families of people who improved humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool.

Maybe then we’d stop seeing unqualified humans released into the world unsupervised. Just a couple generations ago, we’d lock our less fortunate family members away in an attic to protect them from themselves and the family from the fallout of any potentially untoward behaviors.

Now, we lack the commitment to our families and our neighbors and buy them skateboards or smartphones, which allow them no end of potential trouble. And then we sue a third party if when shit goes sideways.

Also, now…we have these skateboarder-type people who cheated death and survived what likely should have been last words – think “Hey, watch this!” – and grown up.

And <shudder> procreated. Because wearing condoms was as much a violation of their rights as wearing masks during a pandemic is.

And, worst of all, 70 million of them have now been duped into thinking they were qualified to make an informed opinion about who should lead our country.

Why am I surprised? How long have we been putting the Surgeon General warning on cigarettes…40…50 years? Yet I still see people in their 30s and 20s smoking.

Like I said, I’ve been a proponent of letting Darwin sort it out for quite sometime. Alas…

But that affords me the opportunity to observe and report on the stupid things we do as a culture to help – or exploit – those poor, stupid, Stupid Americans.

Luckily, what I see is usually more entertaining than watching anti-maskers during a global pandemic or white supremacists vote.

Don’t believe me?

Maybe that’s for the best, since now that I’ve made the sad supporting case, the things I’ve ruefully chuckled about when I’ve witnessed them over the past weeks are <poof> gone. I knew I should have taken pictures.

The vagaries of aging…

Things like the sign I saw on the side of a cart in the local Kroger outlet, Fred Meyer. It was on a piece of merchandise handling equipment for an employee gathering online orders:

Free In-Store Pickup!

Um, isn’t that always the free option?

Mentally bending over backward, I know what they were attempting to say. F for execution, though. I get it, you’re trying to differentiate your online shopping/in-store pickup service from say…restaurants, right? When you’re too lazy to cook and order takeout or – for those of you old enough to remember – go to a restaurant to eat, you pay a premium to have the work done for you.

An example of this from my personal history:

I love pasta. It’s a genetic trait passed from mother to child, as far as I can see. Hehe.

But sometimes I just don’t want to expose myself to my own lack of discipline by preparing a full batch of pasta – which I always do, because who wants half a package of pasta in their cabinet and a half jar of sauce in their fridge? And what if you improperly dose out the sauce and don’t have enough left for the second batch?

Ergo, I cook it all up. Because pasta is one of those few foods that I will eat as leftovers. But then…I eat the whole pound of pasta in one sitting.

So to me, it’s sometimes worth paying the markup for a single serving.

To my ex (Rib), though – a chef – it was a non-starter.

I’m not paying $15 for something I could make at home for $.25!

I feel the same about eggs, so I get it. Although, when someone else is buying, I shut up and eat eggs! He stuck to his guns, though. I think I successfully ate pasta in a restaurant once while we were together. Hehe.

So what Freddy’s is saying is that they will shop for your groceries for you and not charge you extra like that chef that boils water for you does. But as far as marketing goes, I wanted to stop and argue with the cashier that made me pay for my groceries.

But, but…it says “free in-store pickup and here I am! Why are you making me pay?!?

Buncha meanies.

Although, since I was picking up cat food and a plant, arguing that I had “groceries” might have been tough.

The plant was “free”, because I’ve long wanted a fig but didn’t want to spend money on one, thinking Myrtle would just eat ruin it anyway. This fig – working name Figly – represents 300 recycled cans and bottles, of the Coke Zero (take that, V!) and craft beer variety, save the occasional fizzy water bottle. Thus, it was “free”. Since all of my Myrtle-free Zones are either too small, too dark for plants or already occupied by other plants like Cornelius, my corn plant, I had to improvise to protect Figly.

I’ll figure out something better. First, I need to get dear Figly a permanent pot, then I’ll rearrange furniture to create a better Myrtle-free Zone. Right now, I’m busy not spending money on a pot for my new plant that I “picked up in-store for free”.

In other stupid news, there have been a few public works projects around my home specifically tailored toward protecting our dummies.

First, with our new trend toward outside dining to protect against COVID spread while also supporting the restaurant industry and also definitely not curbing our right to not prepare our own food…I’ve noticed some issues.

Mostly, I love the City responding to the public need by allowing restaurants to use two to three parking spaces adjacent to their doors as outdoor dining areas. A few non-essential side streets have been turned into on street dining plazas and beer gardens. This has allowed restaurants and bars to add not just seating, but in order to create a dining “experience”, some restaurants have added foliage to their street dining rooms. Now that the weather has turned from False Fall to Actual Fall, sided tents and heaters are being added to the mix – just in time for Lockdown 2.0!

Hey, it even helps the air…plants take CO2 out of the air and release oxygen. That’s a bonus, even though I couldn’t say with any scientific certainty that COVID particles ever get absorbed into the plantings with the CO2. It’s pretty, and that’s enough for me.

But then I see this bar next to my house setting up their outdoor area. They’ve built picnic tables and benches, built planters and then stained them so patrons have a nice area to enjoy their fare.

Then they posted this sign to help people not get stains on their clothing.

On a GD tree. Gourd help us all. I doubt Bob Ross was actually responsible for this apparently recently-painted tree.

Mind you, they built all this on a day they were closed, so they wouldn’t have been ruining customers’ clothes. Just lazy bastard passers’ by clothes who copped an entitled squat on the bar’s work in progress arts and craft project.

More global city-wide cures for stupid that I’ve seen recently involve solutions for one-way streets.

Personally, I think these signs should be replaced with something like…

If you haven’t seen the original Total Recall, the head explodes right after this warning. I think drivers going the wrong way down a one-way street should be prepared for something equally damaging.

But, not Portland. No…

In our bicycle-friendly little burg, where cyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road, we’re creating bike lanes on both sides of one-way streets.

Why?

Well, so we have a bike lane for travel in each direction…on a one-way street.

For the cyclists that are supposed to follow the rules of the road.

Sidenote: the song Warning Signs just came on my Of Monsters and Men Pandora station. My Pandora app isn’t even open while I’m working on this?!?

I’m not sure it’s perfectly clear here in the 4:30 PM darkness, but this is a two lane one-way street. See? No yellow line down the center. It used to be a three lane, but in order to protect retired skateboarders cyclists from their own inability to follow rules, the City removed a lane and added a second bike lane for against flow riding. The left-hand bike lane is inexplicably bordered by yellow stanchions instead of white, as on the right-hand with traffic flow bike lane.

Please. How is this possibly expected to work? We’re trying to protect a public who refuses to put forward an accountability for their own well-being.

Note of interest: yes, I was standing in the door of Portland’s oldest strip club – Mary’s Spot – as I took this pic.

Not to be outdone by cyclists, I saw a traffic accident the other day. I was getting on the freeway and a Trump Truck pick up truck exited the freeway on the on ramp I was attempting to use, experiencing a solo spin out and coming to rest pointed the wrong way against an overpass pillar and canted out into traffic so it blocked one lane and almost all of the second lane.

Good citizen that I am, I squeezed by and continued on my way, leaving the situation in Darwin’s capable hands. I also wanted to confirm my recollection that the next ramp on this freeway was actually to – or from in the case of this particular idiot – another freeway. Either this joker successfully drove the wrong way on not one, but two freeways before unsuccessfully exiting on the on ramp I was trying to use or he (I just chose the dumbest gender, I didn’t see that the driver was actually male) drove for multiple exits on the one freeway going the wrong direction.

These are our people…

I do not like them.

Not one bit.

But I like even less waiting for them to show me that their heads are full of shit.

What do you think, do I have a future as a Dr Seuss For Dummies author?

Why can’t families go back to locking away their embarrassing shortcomings, both genetic and/or rearing failures? I figure it’s a toss up, should what I ask for come to pass. With 70 million voting age Americans voting against rationale, science, basic rights and common sense, I know it’s almost as likely that I’d be the one living in my family attic.

At least there’s more than just books to keep me company. I would have the interwebs and social <shudder> media. Words With Friends and I could even take up video gaming!

Hell, maybe that should be what my long game is. My sister has a much nicer home than mine…maybe I should give into it!

Stüpid Uhmericnz

The Word of the Day is: Myopic

No, no…not a Mayo pic.

Myopic.

I’d dare say not many would accuse me of lacking imagination. And thanks to my mother’s apparently favorite game when I was growing up – What If – I think that I’ve a well-nurtured sense of foresight, and I’m on the look out for all the possible outcomes I can imagine. Also courtesy of my parents and their desire to provide me with a good education and hold me accountable to a respectable return on their educational investment, I think I have an above average grasp of intellectual insight.

All of this provides me with the wherewithal to ask with a straight face:

What the fuck are you people doing?!?

It also provides me with the ability to analyze my own history of asking such challenging questions and determine from the past patterns of behaviors what the response will be.

And yet, knowing that…I still ask.

I think being raised the way I was, having the values instilled in me that my parents and education provided and then living the life I have as an adult keeps me from writing these stupid, stupid Americans off as a loss as so many do. And encourage me to do as well…but I can’t.

When even Melania Trump gets it enough to even articulate if not fully understand her own First Lady branding, well…I guess with that low bar I expect just about anyone to understand how to Be Best.

Or better. Or whatever the hell slogan she puts on the hats on her website.

Ah, found it. It’s Be Best. And here’s a picture that sums up the execution of her own initiative about as well as anything else that this administration has done:

Although, I particularly enjoy this iteration, too…

So, why am I rambling on about myopia?

Honestly, it’s mainly because I continue to be broadsided – and I mean that I’m a completely genderless manner – by people pursuing their own myopic interests, usually in an overtly selfish manner. But on occasion in a super nice looking cloak of larger social issues. Even if that cloak doesn’t actually go with the rest of their outfit, if you know what I mean.

For.

Example.

Exhibit A:

I was just caught off guard by this guy chatting me up on A4A while I was responding to a message from a guy I’ve been trading platonic, neighborly messages with since he lives down the street from me and the Silver Fox seems to have abandoned me. (By the way, SF, you’re out of everything again…😂)Remember the guy I was there chatting with? He’s close to me, just like I am to this guy. Perhaps my failure to demand to see his junk has somehow retarded the advancement of our friendship. Nah, I kid…it’s because he doesn’t drink.

Anyway, I declined this Hungjock1995’s offer to view and assess my junk, assuring him I was a fair and modest representation of my race and gender. He didn’t want to take my word for it.

See how he throws out himself as representing “the normal” of The Gays as a pejorative? Our prior few messages were all one word replies from him, which is the challenge you see at the top of the frame in the first pic. As his criteria for engaging are: attractive, nearby and big dick, I can’t disagree with that assessment, I just won’t accept it and speak out against it when I encounter it.

Honestly, I don’t know what I expected from someone whose screen name is Hungjock1995 and can’t muster the fortitude required to have a face pic on his profile. It seems like my habit of telling people my name when I engage with them and unabashedly decorating my asocial media profiles with a picture of my face makes me unique.

And that was my catalyst for finally tapping this out. This guy can’t see past the tip of his own dick far enough to act like a normal human being. Nor can he muster any sense of shame or appropriate mortification for his behavior when it’s pointed out to him. He just sinks back into the cesspool of collectively acceptable human behaviors, indicating that other people let him get away with it so it’s ok.

Quite a dichotomy at work there: unapologetic about crap behavior, smart enough to at least not associate his image or sully his good name with those same behaviors.

Seems like he is hung in the “all frank, no beans” way. Cuz his cowardly behavior clearly indicates the absence of a set of balls.

His myopic world vision is at least self-serving in an immediate way: he wants to get his (apparently sunflower seed sized) rocks off.

Other people’s recent nearsightedness has had a more immediately dangerous impact. Actively treating others with disrespect in pursuit of your own selfish desires only demonstrates the minimally acceptable behaviors to the people who’s paths you cross, setting an example for them to live down to. Given my parting shot before – I assume – getting blocked, people don’t experience bad behavior anymore and think “I didn’t deserve that”. Nowadays, they look at those experiences and the takeaway seems to be “Ok, so that’s what I can get away with, too!”

Exhibit B:

There’s this local activist whose Instagram profile I came across as I’ve been witnessing my anarchist jurisdiction of a hometown’s protests from the mostly safe distance Instagram provides. So I followed him. When I see good content, I want to keep seeing it – and these protests are too important to not see. Yes, I just worked Nazi into this example that is centered around police brutality.

Then he followed me.

Then he followed me from a secondary account.

Instead of making a nice veil out of that red flag to match the dress and continent dragging train I’ve made with the other red flag behaviors men give me, I just took it at face value and let it lie.

See? Sometimes I can be chill.

Ok, maybe I called it out a little and accepted the response that one was his personal page and the other was – and I’m paraphrasing here – more of his brand page where he could catalogue his participation in the protests. Just like he didn’t overreact when I observed that his accounts both seemed to like each other’s social media activity quite a lot.

That’s the way it’s done.

Gawd, I really loathe that rationale.

But I’m chill. I let it go.

He’s got good content on his protest page. The messaging is responsible and he’s not glamorizing any of the more destructive elements of our local protests – which makes his content a lot more focused on the point than the news seemed to be able to do.

And as I watch his feed for the next few months and we trade messages that are sometimes nearly long enough to qualify as a conversation, I begin to feel a familiarity. Like we’re people who could meet in real life and have a not-awkward conversation…yes, this is the bar these days.

Of course, then he starts working in videos of his remote viewing experiments and I think, “Oh, here we go…all aboard the Crazytown Express”. Not too long after that, I see him on the Grindr and am not even upset that he’s a Top/Vers, because I’m not thinking like that. However, I also see his profile blurb and wonder why men even bother to speak. Gay men in particular seem to do nothing with their mouths of any value unless their lips are wrapped around a – well, never mind. His profile ends with him imploring people to “be realistic”.

The implication there not being that it’s not realistic to expect him to be polyorgasmic or ready to settle down on the first date. No, the implication was more, “Look how desirable and hot I am! If you aren’t as hot as me, don’t bother.”

I may have only nearly avoided experiencing a remote vomiting episode.

Which is really disappointing after the effort he’s put into polishing up that turd of a personality on his other social media profiles. But I get it, it’s 2020. People compartmentalize their needs in order to meet them expeditiously. Truly, I believe that compartmentalization is part of how people become so myopic. They forgive themselves their shitty behaviors by locking them away, out of sight and view themselves only through the filter of their better qualities they keep on public display.

For instance this guy’s Grindr profile presumably meets his sexual needs as well as his need to posture and establish himself as superior to others.

But I let that go. I thought about calling it out, because, really…it’s one sentence. How hard could it be to edit it out or carry on with the burden of ignoring advances from unworthy and unrealistic people? But I’m chill, I let it go.

Then last night I saw him attending a wedding on his Instagram.

In Texas.

I’d only recently gathered that he’s from Texas, as a story from the day before was his family singing happy birthday to him – so I also assumed that was the reason for his trip. I get that. I’ve experienced the familial pull to come home when living away.

But, in a pandemic?

To Texas?

And the birthday story seemed to be evenly split between people who take their health for granted and people whose age puts them at risk on top of any other underlying conditions that may be present.

I kept it low key with a private response to his post…

He seemed so much smarter than that level of behavior. He consistently wore his mask while at protests – not even doing that dumb thing people do where they pull down their mask to talk.

But here he was, traveling to Texas and immediately exposing his family to whatever he brought in from Oregon as he loaded up with whatever the Texas fam had to give him to bring back…by not wearing a mask at either the birthday party or the wedding.

And then he publicly posts my private message to him on his story.

It was super nice of him to block out my profile pic – which is just the cover of my first book, including my name but no picture of mine truly. His response was…uninspired.

And after that, I was done with the conversation and went back to watching The X-Files. If he’s in that headspace where he’s defending his brand over his individual wants and whims, I have heard that song too many times.

That’s his nearsightedness. I didn’t really feel the need to let him practice his validations and rationalizations on me.

Little did I know, he wasn’t done. When I checked back in before bed, he’d added like four new thoughts to what had become his one sided conversation. Apparently, he was going to practice his PR regardless of input from me.

So, I spared my words in response and gave him the “Sure, Jan” and “Live Long & Prosper” emojis and went to bed.

It’s amazing how hard someone will work to defend their actions instead of thinking, “Geez, people will probably have an issue with this action…maybe I shouldn’t post it until a future date, if at all”.

One path certainly seems like less effort.

But also…less attention.

You know how in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is saved by people clapping? I think that’s what it is, clapping…it could be something else. And not to draw any unintentional lines between The Gays and stereotypes like Tinkerbell…but that’s what’s going on here. This guy can’t not do the right thing and not engage in risky behavior by attending a wedding in Texas – which was certainly a myopic decision in and of itself by the bride & groom. Nor can he not get the attention – positive or negative, because he comes right out and says that he knew people would take issue with his decision – for participating so he just throws out his videos for the world to lavish him with attention in any form.

Look. The Fuck. At. Me.

I see you.

No, no…I see you.

Your validation for going is that it was your best friend, who apparently holds you in such high regard that he invited you to his Hot Zone Wedding. You back that up with some Swiss cheese pseudo-scientific BS about keeping your masks on until picture time – and I’m sure that the virus would certainly respect your need for photos at this wedding and not take advantage of your naked faces. Just like smoke did in bars when it was permissible – it never made anyone’s clothes reek of smoke but the people who actively smoked inside.

Riiiight.

For good measure, he reminded me that he’s a social worker and that two of his friends that attended are teachers and parents.

That didn’t make me feel any better at all for the future. Actually, it made me feel low key bullied…so I haven’t engaged with him about his going on three day layover in Seattle on his way home from Texas – so much for that quarantining he assured me he was going to do when he returned.

Please, be realistic

Exhibit C:

I’m taking a break – I’m exhausted reliving this…should I mention it all happened over the course of 30 hours? From the first Exhibit, which is actually C, to now – the point at which I need a break because my eyes are crossing from reliving these experiences…

BRB.

Aaaand…it’s been two days. Trust me, Exhibit C is just continuing to make me believe that we are going to “evolve” into nearsighted cyclops.

Cyclopses? What the hell is the plural of cyclops? Moreover, should I just know this by this point in my life?

I don’t know…

So, longtime readers/followers should have a ton of problem picking out my triggers from this post I found on a friend’s Facebook feed. Wait, I guess it’s my feed, but the friend’s post appeared on it.

Anyone want to go first?

No? Ok…<deep breath>

First, generalizations. All non-cis-male and non-white people were rioting prior to RBG’s death. ✅

Second, they attacked white cis-men, while not acknowledging that up until maybe two years ago, they enjoyed that label, even if only as a product of other people’s assumptions. ✅

Third, they are using emotionally charged words and absolutes. Also, misusing the word “literally”. Absolutes OM particular are credibility dealbreakers for me. When people say things like “everyone” or “all the time”, etc, I pretty much crack my knuckles and prepare to slap my trust buzzer. Hard.

Fourth, and there’s no way you could have known this – they posted this shit from Norway, where they enjoy dual citizenship thanks to a parent with the poor judgment to move to Amerikkka during the Bush 2.0 years. When it got too stressful here, they booked a trip the fuck outta here, so…yeah, tell me again how you’re out protesting the state of America before the white cis-men?

Fifth – for extra credit – yes, it only took two comments before the impact of the potential damage this inaccurate shitpost could create became clear: a commenter asked them to make it shareable and by the time I screen shot this, it had been shared 3 or 4 times. So, basically, this inaccurate and emotionally malignant post was being shared as some sort of internet wisdom.

My comment – which was third – was exactly

Generalize much?

That earned me only a 😡 reaction from the poseur poster, which I had to call out along with enumerating my issues with the factual and moral issues I had with this post. The response I got was basically “What I meant was” followed by the same inaccurate statement including absolutes and emotionally charged words. But in all caps, apparently for clarity.

We’ve gone back and forth for three days now. And I say “we”, but really, it’s been me engaging three friends of theirs, two of whom blocked me after responding, which earned them the nickname of Seagulls since they just flew in, shit on me and then flew off again.

Have I mentioned that using the block button usually signals to me that someone knows on some level that they have no valid position to argue, so they don’t. But instead of admitting their error, they just block the person who pointed out their error.

Very mature, I know.

Anyway, this original poster has popped in twice after his all cap non-response. Once to reply only “Yikes” to a rebuttal of mine to one of their friends. The other to comment something like “Yeah, see?!?” to another friend’s comment to me – which was basically a personal attack like “This is why no one likes you”.

This example of myopic behavior – nothing matters but my rights and I will tell you if you’re supporting me wrong – is particularly bothersome to me. The implication is that they aren’t happy and the cost for that is that no one else can be happy.

Only then will things be right.

In this case, the wronged party is a trans woman, whose deadname I respectfully forgot – also CRS – in spite of the fact that their chosen name reads like syphillis. Even though I know their chosen first name represents the Earth in Norse mythology and is also the wife of Thor.

Humble, no?

People who fancy themselves social activists need to be responsible. The theme of the rebuttal comments were basically targeted at the gall I displayed by daring to challenge a minority group member’s inaccurate language.

Imagine. Me, an old white man. I seemed to be the only one concerned with how close this post came to demonstrating that equality wasn’t the goal, punishing people who had more or got more sooner was the only acceptable outcome.

These individuals had zero problem setting aside the fact that we were members of the same subculture – that being the LGBTQI+ community – and how dare I call for unity when I am white and cis-gendered.

Really?

I most certainly made a comment that they – the original poster, not all commenters (gender neutral pronouns are sometimes real head-scratchers in conversation) – were behaving immaturely as evidenced in both their irresponsible choice of words and their intractable stance at how potentially destructive they were. But I followed that up with the fact that despite how often I see posts that I feel miss the target, I’m still supporting my community with my vote.

Not because they prove through their words and actions that they deserve equality – they don’t, as a matter of fact, Pride season any more just makes me want to stand on a corner holding up a cardboard sign saying “What have you actually done to feel proud?” because I can’t tell what it is anymore – but because equality is the right way to vote.

Despite the fact that marriage equality – since it was the example used in the post – isn’t something I vote for for my own selfish reasons, as my marrying ship has sailed. I vote for candidates who espouse continued support of that right and others – DACA, Roe, ObamaCare – because the rights of younger generations with their futures ahead of them deserve these rights.

Despite the fact I’ll likely not personally avail myself to them.

In spite of the petty manner in which they demand these rights and the manner that they destroy their own culture from inside in pursuit of them.

I vote for what’s right.

Sometimes I feel like our country can be divided into two factions that are beyond politics or religion:

Binocular Vision vs Monocular Vision?

That seems like a fairly safe way to phrase it. It’s only vaguely threatening to a myopic citizen’s ego.

It’s certainly safer than a more overt but nonetheless accurate Adults vs Children. Not that it matters, regardless of how one labels the two factions, I’m not sure the adults can stop the children from what I’m convinced will be a pyrrhic battle to get their way.

I’m sad and scared to think of how much further into the bowl this country can swirl before it disappears.

The Word of the Day is: Myopic

What Year Is It?

If I can paraphrase the prophet, Morris Day…

Who, by the way, played a house party gig at the frat that tried to recruit me into their coven house in college.

Pike for life!

Anyway, 2020 has been a hell of a decade…so far.

I believe it’s day 11 of smokepocalypse (credit to The Kids for bringing that moniker to life) and to be honest, the last 11 days feels longer than the last 6 months.

I can’t see the sun.

One day, things look like they are improving to merely unhealthy air quality, the next we’re bitch slapped back into hazardous air quality by a Mother Nature who seems quite clearly to have had enough of our shenanigans. On the third day of smokepocalypse, the day the high east winds stopped, there was blue sky over Portland. For whatever reason, the smoke bank was cleaved in two and sat over Salem and Vantucky. It was like that for two days, both ended with the smoke rolling back in as dusk fell.

On the third day – day 5 of smokepocalypse – the smoke bank stayed and hadn’t left since.

During the pandemic lockdown, I was able to escape my daily detente with Myrtle by hitting the road for 10 rides and a few hours. As lockdown wore on, those 10 would become 15 and then 20 and once even 30 as people ventured out on missions of essential work or restocking.

Sidebar: I’m finally down to my last roll of crapping paper – having split a Costco pack with the Silver Fox back around December ’19…if you ever wonder why I seem full of crap, apparently it’s because I pace myself?

Anyway, I’ve discovered something that will finally get people to obey Stay Home orders – and even mask directives, for the most part – over the last 11 days: living in the city with the worst air quality on the planet. Seriously, I celebrated having an AQI under 300 yesterday – normal is <50 – only to have it rocket back up to the high 300s after dark.

It’s too bad, though, this sudden willingness of people to stay home. Not only has my escape from solitude disappeared. No longer can I escape to my strictly social, non-alcoholic happy hour in my car. These days, going out means as long as 20 minutes between rides…and I’m lucky to get 5 before my eyes burn from the smoke entering the car as people get in and out.

On top of that, the trips are short! Like, “I’m so glad you’re driving so I didn’t have to walk (3 blocks) in this” short. While I’m glad they don’t have to walk in this either, those bitches and bastards and whatever similar label is appropriate for non-binary folx that resent heteronormative labels could bother to tip.

I mean, if they really did appreciate my effort. I’m not filling the tank with a half dozen minimum fare rides. I didn’t expect tips when I started driving, but now they motivate me by representing a real-time report card on my efforts. There’s a star rating – that I’ve managed to maintain at a 5-star level over my ~2300 rides.

However, since it defaults to 5-star if the rider doesn’t specifically override it, I don’t consider this much of a barometer. So I gauge my performance off of the percentage of riders who tip. 50% is what I call “needs improvement” and normal for me is around 65%.

Sadly, there have been too many days like this

Thank the Lyft Lords for that Lux ride, but do much for that 10:05 ride. I never mind picking up peeps at strip clubs – although, I find the performers to be far better company than the clientele – except when it’s a 35 minute closing-time ride with a woman hating Eastern European woman hating man. That $5 tip was not enough to unhear the crap he spewed.

Ugh.

But, in his defense, he was one of two tippers that night. Overall for the day, less than one-third…if I bend over backward far enough, I can convince myself that tip levels like that are a micro-factor of the overall economy.

It’s easy enough to believe. Shit is pretty bad in a service industry town like Portland these days.

Which could also be a factor in why people are staying home – smoke or no.

Fortunately for the sake of my (in)sanity, I’ve mentally edited a couple of writing projects I’ve been working on. Meaning, I haven’t actually done anything.

But I’ve also indulged in some creative problem solving. Here’s my prevailing theoretical solution for Portland’s smoke problem – since the weather people can’t seem to conjure any rain:

The 2020 Proud Boy of the Year Awards

Yes, it’s still 2020.

Think of it, this faux ceremony could draw even the Grand Dragon in Chief himself! Something like this is about the only way to lure Trunt to liberal Portland.

Because of the numbers I expect, we would need to hold this outside, even though that skirts dangerously close to following guidelines for larger gatherings. Maybe the event could take place at Waterfront Park. I know the Proud Boys like to hang out there…at least when liberal groups announce they are holding a rally there.

Note to self: get BLM supporters to volunteer as ushers.

Of course, no masks would be expected. Not wearing them would be encouraged.

And that’s the brilliant part! These stupid mouth breathing lame-o-sapiens Americanus would filter the smoke out of the air while hate screaming their assundry – is that not a word? – and mind boggling mantras.

Then they would all go home and die of emphysema or asthma or whatever lung related terminal malady you prefer. Rasping with their last death rattled breath,

See? I told you COVID was a hoax!

Poof.

Clean air in Portland once again and fewer harmful minds reproducing and replicating their ignorance just because unrestricted coitus is their right.

Damnit.

So, yeah…how are you passing time in the smokepocalypse?

What Year Is It?

Hey, You!

Yeah, you. Can you…not, please?

I know I haven’t been writing much. It’s a thought that occurred to me just as I was trying to decide what to do with my night. My knee jerk, rationalizing and disabling thought was “Well, it’s because I’ve been driving so much lately”.

Now, there’s a thought I’ve been having often lately.

Every time I do, I pop open the app, ready to pat myself on the back for my epic drive times.

Also, every time I open the app I see I’ve driven less than 30 hours that week.

It’s nuts, it certainly seems longer. But maybe that’s just a factor of how raspy my throat is from nattering at passengers for <30 hours. Possibly with a little or a lot of “my ass is sore as hell” mixed in. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn Diezel to keep it clean here. Really, it’s just my right butt cheek that’s complaining, for whatever reason – and, no, it’s not my wallet.

But that same thought comes around whenever I’m amazed at how many passengers I get from out of state. It’s just a factor of how much I’m driving.

Except it’s not. And yet, copious visitors there are.

Visitors from COVID-denying hotspots.

Recent red state refugees that landed in Portland.

And when I realize how few hours I drive and how often these folks present themselves, I am amazed at the inverse relationship. Assuming that how out of control the situation seems can be extrapolated based on the number of rides I give people each week.

Of course, it can’t. This is all just me entertaining myself – and since I don’t feel mentally up to anything more seriously grumptastic than this, this is what you get.

Another highly unscientific method for tracking these – and I don’t want to channel Trump here, but – visitors and transplants from less than desirable locations is just observation. This weekend, I drove Friday, Saturday and today. Three days in a row is unusual. I needed to make up for taking Monday and Tuesday off while the Silver Fox was visiting. Each of those three days I witnessed at least three license plates from Arizona.

Just Arizona.

I didn’t see any Texas or Florida plates…but maybe they are just less noticeable.

Still, 9+ Arizona plates in ~15 hours seems like a lot. Let’s call it 18 hours of driving, which errs on the high side. Seeing an AZ plate every two hours seems pretty frequent.

I could just see the virus swirling around the vehicles like dust around Pig Pen.

Fortunately for my recreational hypochondriac, I’ve got my vents set to recirculate. I know it’s better to be letting in fresh air, but I drive through tear gas zones a lot and don’t want to rely on my reflexes to save my eyes and throat. So when I want fresh air, I put the windows down.

Simple pimple.

Now, because for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, last night I had a group of soon-to-be college kids in my car (not like that, Diezel). It was a 4-some, three guys and a girl with hiccups. Now, Lyft asks riders to certify that they will wear masks and not sit in the front, so imagine the hernia inducing restraint I exercised when one of these shitheads kids got into the passenger seat.

You know you’re all supposed to sit in the back, right?

Pretty mild on the passive-aggressive-o-meter, right? The kids says “Yeah” and closes the door.

Okay, then.

Next, I exercised restraint by not volunteering that they were obviously not going to be adding a tip onto their parents’ credit card.

When I asked what they were up to on a Saturday night, one of the guys said that my front seat mate was leaving for college the next day.

Do you even need more than one guess?

Arizona State.

Why?

Ok, with the restraint I’ve exercised up til now, my incredulity here is forgivable, right? Something about not winning them all…

“They have a great business school”.

Wharton is a great business school…

<crickets>

From the backseat, “Hey, can you make a stop along the way?”

You know what, Arizona can have these entitled, clueless punks. I hope this kid survives long enough to put his business degree to use.

I don’t mean to paint Arizonans as universally bad people, mind you. I mean, could anyone with this plate be entirely bad?

No, no they could not be. But could these flaming patriots stupid Americans just stop running amok with all of their Pig Pen-ish virus?

Hey, You!

So, How’s Your Monday?

You’d think I’d know a good sign or minor omen when I saw one.

Not this guy, nope.

When I woke up at 3 AM in a manner that caused Myrtle to not just jump off the bed, but land outside the bedroom…that’s not a sign, right?

That the cause of my sudden consciousness was that I’d dreamed I had been bitten by a snake while sleeping in my actual bed wasn’t a symbol, right?

In the dream, the snake had latched onto the outside/pinky edge of my hand and was not letting go. It was also making eye contact with me in my dream whilst doing so. After what seemed like a minute in my dream, I reacted…by shaking my hand until the snake was flung clear of the bed.

Or so I thought.

But I was distracted from checking by Myrtle crash landing in the living room, so I forgot about the snake as my brain woke up.

I called out for Myrtle as I realized my hand still ached where the dream snake had bitten me and wondered if Myrtle had been the actual perpetrator. That would explain why she wasn’t answering my call – like she ever does.

Then I felt something scrabble up my neck and into my hair. I shook my head and loosely ran a hand through it to free it of any critters that had become entangled in my mane.

Realizing my error, I jumped out of bed, flipped on the light and then flung back the sheets in search of any blood sucking little predators.

Nothing.

Heart pounding and semi wide awake, I turned to go to the bathroom. And then a snake…of hair flipped forward on my face.

Now, wide awake and fortunately still needing to use the bathroom, I answered nature’s call. I tried unsuccessfully to calm my nerves while washing my hands, examining the one for what I hoped would remain phantom injuries as I did so.

Failing at a return to normal breathing, I stopped at the freezer on my way back to bed and took a shot of ice cold tequila right out of the bottle.

Might not help, couldn’t hurt that much.

After a little tossing, I hear Myrt looking for a new place to sleep. She’s trying to open the drawers on my dresser to nest for the night. When I finally grow too frustrated listening to her to focus on my own sleep, I get up and shoo her under the bed.

She’d succeeded in opening two of the eight drawers, but she’s happiest in the third tier, explaining why she hadn’t gone silent.

But as long as I was up…I fed Myrtle her breakfast so she wouldn’t wake me too early.

And took a second shot, to be sure I’d not be awake too early.

Worked like a charm.

I woke at 8, thinking I’d like to sleep more, but knowing the daylight would fight me. Hardly a surprise, given the dawn I saw breaking through the windows when I fed Myrt.

So, I got up. Only to be rewarded by this.

I hate that cat.

Sometimes…I swear I added that in my mind as I typed.

Seriously, I know dinner was late because I didn’t get home til 8 from mom and dad’s…but it was Father’s Day! Cut me some slack. You’re really gonna eat breakfast when you aren’t hungry just because I put it out? And then puke it up while I sleep?!?

What a loathsome creature.

I clean up Myrtle’s un-eating and brush my teeth. Rib had been texting me about a cappuccino machine he thought he’d talk his hubby into getting – the exact machine he already has, but with an integrated milk frother, which is so him – so I was painfully aware of my lack of coffee or energy drinks in the house. Throwing on a hat and sneakers, I’m off because obviously, a trip to Nossa Familia was in order.

You can barely tell I’ve had a rough night and soon to be rougher morning. I arrive on the sidewalk to this.

Just come the fuck on.

I’ve had these tires about a month.

Luckily, I wasn’t planning on driving. I stomp to the cafe, telling Rib I had dibs on their old machine as I went along. When I arrive, I order and the barista asked if I want to use my free drink that I always forget about.

Yes! Yes…but add the $5 back as tip!

If Monday has it in for me, at least I can try to get in good with Karma by tipping well.

Worth it.

I go back home, water the Silver Fox’s plants, grab his mail and then steal his Dyson handheld to go vacuum my car while I try out the compressor that came as a GWP with Angela.

Worked like a charm – only took about 5 minutes, too! Now to shower and run up to Les Schwab to see if they can patch up or replace the tire they sold me. Hopefully, they can resist the urge to tell me I should replace all 4 tires again – which I fell for last time. Since these have less than 4K miles on them, hopefully my x-drive suspension won’t notice that one tire has 0 miles on it.

Gawd.

I hope that $5 tip worked. I don’t want to spend $250 on a new tire, let alone another thousand on all 4…wish me luck.

So, how is your Monday treating you?

So, How’s Your Monday?