Thursday, April 30, 2020

Sniffles, Gluttony, Virus

Part 30 of 30

It’s never part of my self-image to think of myself as a born loser. But what a month! The virus came in like a roaring lion and went out a defeated foe, and it really wasn’t that hard. Our political leaders led the way from victory to victory. They had what we haven’t seen in a while, good old fashioned selflessness, taking no account of themselves or future, but acted with just selfless giving, single-minded direction toward the common good. It’s been a blessing to behold, such a spirit radiating out from those at the top and continuing as an inspiration for everyone, from the cabinet, our representatives, all the way down to the lonely bum on 8th street. (I should take him a tract and convert him.)

I have to say, though, I'm busting with a great pride I feel for everyone -- what a country! What a world! -- but I do feel a little shame, a lot of shame and even existential revulsion that there was a time I was in a constant stir, a panic.There were times when I had my doubts, and not just split seconds of it. I was in constant mortification and desperation, oozing sweat, gallons of sweat. “What’s going to become of me? Am I lost? Is this my last hurrah? Will I die early in the month, only to have my rotted carcass blocking the door when the undertaker comes? They’ll have to push through, moving my body slowly toward the wall, blood and other bodily liquids making a mess of the living room and further shrinking the low property value the place already has. People will pass by crossing themselves, 'That’s where they found that bloated guy.'"

I should say in my defense, I am a lonely old man, single, all by myself with my fears. My imagination always gets the worst of me, and my paranoia is so crazy, running rampant to the point that with the slightest noise at the door I know I’m done for. But being old should be a reminder to me that, “What am I living for?” Am I living just to live another terrible day? No, that can't be right! Instead it's to be bold, to have the kind of mindset that I can do it, whatever it is. If others can live, breathe and prosper, why not me?

Just let me rank the enemies I’ve faced all month -- and thank God the virus is gone after today and I can get back to normal. The enemies included the sniffles. Right away when there was a toilet paper shortage at the beginning I convinced myself -- my paranoia -- that I was sure to get a runny nose. And just like clockwork, there it was. The sniffles were so bad, the sniffle molecules multiplied faster than usual, making it a torrent. I was trying to conserve toilet paper so I was using my sleeve, which tainted things even worse. I had to dig into my stash of toilet paper and took out just three or four squares. But those were quickly overwhelmed. Not being able to staunch my tears, I was completely overcome. Excuse me for saying this -- I’m usually a holy person -- but “Gosh darn them sniffles!”

Then there was gluttony, the deep seated feeling in me that I should eat more than my fill. We couldn’t get toilet paper, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have plenty of food. Canned goods, which never goes bad, except maybe after a hundred years. Every time I had the slightest pain, even my typical sore knees, I thought the remedy was another can. So I ate my fill. And with the eating only felt greater hunger, meaning I was up to my neck in empty cans. At night, after all the viral ghouls of the Big City passed by, I threw the bags of cans in the road.

Then last I faced the greatest enemy of all, the Virus itself. I made the mistake of not taking the discarded cans farther from home. Meaning the ghouls became three times as bad, craving the off scouring and even putting 2 and 2 together that the cans came from my house, so they were banging on the windows. Virus to the left, also to the right, and trying to pry into the basement and on the roof. I could do nothing but shout, “Virus! Virus!” The universal cry of taint drove them on to the next house.

In short, it was a terrible month.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Virus Is An Imp

Part 29 of 30

I’ve always been one attracted to those who know what they’re doing, knowing the ins and outs of life and are certain beyond belief, and even expand belief until it's certainty for all. Naturally, I’m talking about religion, where it’s sketched out “In the beginning” blah blah blah all the way to what is revealed at the very tip top pinnacle of the end. Everything's resolved...

The weird thing, actually, is that we know all the stuff from the beginning to the end, but we still maintain, at least fictionally, a little doubt as to how it affects our day to day lives. When, as common sense tells us, if you already have the beginning and the end, all drama should then be gone from the interim bits. If I had anything to do with it, anytime someone came to me with a problem, we’d review the opening, then the end, and the person would be immediately convinced that the interim’s OK.

But as it turns out it’s not always like that. My own suspicion is it can’t be that simple because everyone has to make a living. And what better way to make a living, perpetually, than by allowing doubts to grow up and thrive, and finally see worry ester and spill out everywhere, bearing bitter fruit. So that people are like dry plants in the desert when they should be sprouting and budding, alive with moisture and certain faith and knowledge.

It’s a self-perpetuating machine -- and there’s always room for someone else to jump on -- whereby we could, if only we wanted (and it’s easy to get crowded out if you pose the slightest threat), settle everything once for all in just a few seconds. I tend to see all sides of everything, then choose my answer and keep it to myself. Because I don’t like the threats of entrenched interests, never have, probably never will.

We always think religion is “so good,” that virtue is the default behavior. Big mistake. Every time you hear some guy in the public square calling the whole thing into question, then proposing a simpler understanding, notice how he or she’s always gone the next day. Our quick assumption is that they have such a grand message that they’re wanted in other towns, with a big demand. No, these spiritual vampires against the truth are up late at night, hustling people on to their reward, whether by drowning, stabbing, overloading them with poisons, basically everything except “God bless you.”

But thank goodness there’s still a few who not only understand it but put forth the true doctrine for people’s good, like this one guy I know whose prayers are immediately effective. His teaching is that believing your apparent symptoms is always wrong, positing as he does a never-ending series of “imps,” whom we might think of as devils or germs, but germs with a consciousness. Of course all germs have to eat, but do they have to be gluttons? No they don’t. And when they are, that’s when they need to be confronted and cast out.

His quick prayers are the prayers of power, big enough to end the virus in a heartbeat. Were it not for the others, those whose interests are behind the persistence of evil! They’d milk it forever, whereas my guy, he puts an end to suffering. People arise immediately from their so-called "bed of affliction" and march forward in newness of life. So won't you plan on it? To meet me in a dark alley near here, and bring your best offering, and I’ll turn you on as to this guy's whereabouts. Satisfaction guaranteed or a small portion of your offering will be donated to your favorite charity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Best Urn For Me

Part 28 of 30

We’re getting near the end of this dreadful series and I just want to dedicate it to the sweetest lady that ever lived, my dear Mother. When it came to ladies, I mean forget about it. She knew all the ins and outs of life and taught me the facts of life. Not just the reproductive stuff -- which has been done to death, Amen? -- but the real lowdown, the real scoop, everything from how to cut the legs out from under the other guy to how to hide the evidence.

You really gotta love her, the mind she had, able to see the details of every scheme without missing a beat. It's with fondness I remember coming home from school one day and she was on me like a ton of bricks. The teacher caught me copying another kid’s paper and I ended up with a big fat red F for my efforts. Mom was pissed, totally P-offed, and put me in one of those baby chairs where you’re trapped in the middle and encircled by a plastic tray four foot in diameter. Strangely, though, all she did was withheld my dessert, and in its place impressed me with stern eye-to-eye instruction and wisdom. “I have told you and told you, a million times, ‘The getaway is the number one priority, not the loot!”

And that’s a piece of wisdom that was attained at a high cost, missing my desert that night, so I’ve never forgotten. To help my memory, I wrote it on a 3 x 5 card and memorized it, and even swallowed it in case I forget what it said. A cough, a quick paper towel run over it and it’s good as new: “The getaway is the number one---” and so forth.)

So say I’m getting ready to scheme out a plan, you know, a job, perhaps a swindle, I think about the getaway. Some of the easiest marks in life are guys who think they know it all. Which I love. Pawn shop dealers come to mind. These guys are so cocksure that they know it all, they’re the easiest mark. They make a huge mistake with their feeling of certainty. Naturally I don’t know what their mothers taught them, and how often they’ve swallowed that advice, but it obviously wasn’t the same as mine. They’re probably thinking of the points along the way in scheming -- which generally works -- and not the getaway. I got in, already picturing my getaway and they didn’t know what hit them. I’d love to see what they upchucked. It was probably their mom saying, “The getaway is…” then there’s a gap, where she must have been on the phone and forgot her train of thought, now with the meat-of-the-goody of her advice missing.

Anyway, Mom was great and still lives in me, her richest advice as close as a cough. And I’ll never forget one of her greatest jobs -- she saw the future -- when she swindled a funeral home out of a bunch of urns, our family being quite large. We used the biggest urn for her, then since her getaway was a priority we took out her ashes and scattered them to the four winds. Whoever in the family’s responsible for my ashes, someday, whichever urn's the best, that’s what I’ll have. This might even be coming up, say the Virus gets me.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Self-Quarantining With "Men"

Part 27 of 30

The warnings have been pretty clear, the more we self-quarantine the safer we’ll be. To be alone is safer in the sense of the germs others have not getting on you. That much is common sense. But it’s still up to each of us -- having the virus as a common enemy -- to take care of ourselves while we have a fighting chance.

Of course families have to stick together. Having a family gives the benefit of being able to look after each another, a kind of holding each other to account. I heard it many times growing up, "The family has to stick together." Or as the soldiers used to say, "We need to hang together lest we hang apart." I always heard that, and that's actually one of the biggest reasons I never "served," I didn't want to hang apart. On the battlefield that'd be a lonely death until they came across your carcass one day -- three weeks dead -- hanging apart, and after three whole weeks, very much alone.

In other words, this is serious business. And that’s the way it must be dealt with, 1-2-3, stepping through it, having a certain discipline and sense of perception about the threat. It's no time for half measures or treating such serious business with anything but a serious response. Speaking for those around me, we've taken the serious path, huddling together, watchful for additional threats but for the most part optimistic that we'll make it through. You'd be proud of me. Four months into the pandemic, I got my first face-mask yesterday!

And we've had fun, actually, sheltering in place. I can well imagine such togetherness will have its additional rewards. As, say, nine months from now when the virus has passed and new people will be raised up to replace the old. (None of them will be mine. I knew it'd be tempting so I dipped my undies in wet cement, the fast-setting kind.) But for the others, this is the way of life, holding great promise for tomorrow and -- who knows? -- maybe facing a different virus on a different day. Because if you get one, there could just as easily be another million coming. God forbid, I know.

But not all of us are surrounded by people, friends or family, but instead are alone, the minutes passing slowly as they rouse into defensive posture every time they hear someone passing. "Are the hordes here to steal what’s mine, my toilet paper, my canned soup, or worse, my paper towels? Will they take my life? They may as well. Without my stuff what would I be? Withering on the vine until the grim reaper makes it official, 'He’s dead.'"

Anyway, I meant to say, all this breeding is happening where those equipped to do it are doing it. Meaning we’re just 7 or 8 months away from the dawning of the Q Generation, the Quarantiners in their youth. Their generation marked by the forever compulsion of stocking and restocking, "We never have enough! Take care of yourself with the uttermost caution. Plan way in advance. Anything can happen!"

For those who are about to pass on -- never to see the glorious days of nine months from now, let alone the adulthood of that future generation -- pass me that old copy of “Men.” Even if I'll never be a father, I can dream.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

I'd Leave If I Could

Part 26 of 30

A few years ago I had a life like this, traveling the country, camping, and roughing it. I thought that was the way to go, but, like always, my paranoia got the best of me and I decided to transition out of the more hectic lifestyle into the more sedate life of The Big City.

Of course Grandma’s place was out of the question, as it had been a house in shambles, completely rife with mold, other bacteria, smelly stuff, and rot. Then the City condemned the it and helped me (they insisted on it while still charging me) tear the place down and haul it to the landfill. And believe me, it was tough watching bulldozers cover the last of the place under the soil. The only revenge of the house against them was when one workman was scratched by a rusty nail and ended up losing a toe. You take small victories wherever you find them.

Between the landfill, then, and the Big City, there was that camping/roughing it period. And I should have stuck with it. Because if there’s the slightest trouble -- and say everything else is OK with your truck, camper, health insurance, issues getting your mail, knowing how to file taxes, etc. -- you can always pull up stakes and go somewhere else. In short, any little thing can go wrong and you’re stuck. Stuck? You’re screwed. I don’t know how people do it long-term, although I’ve seen a few who have; they’re just not worrywarts like me. O! if I could do it again, but the money’s all gone...

So now the Big City has to be the focus when it comes to dealing with the virus. We’re crammed in by the millions. I see people walk by my place everyday, people I’ve never seen before. And do they all look healthy? Not by a long shot. It’s painful that there’s so much traffic. At Grandma’s old place, way back when, it was at the edge of town there weren't 20 people walking by in a month. There’s 20 or more an hour in the Big City. But where they’re going? I don’t know. I keep thinking I should follow them and find out. But I’m afraid they’d notice and I’d end up with house guests, which would be certain death.

When I was scrounging for aluminum cans a couple years ago I met a guy and talked to him. He invited me on his porch to visit and get some cans and so I did. Then he told me, with trepidation, never step on his property unless he was there and invited me. Because his son is totally crazy and would kill me just-like-that. I still drive by that guy’s house and wonder about his son. Is he watching, is he waiting? Big deal, his loss! The chances that I’d stop there now even if the dad WERE home are zero. I don’t know what the son looks like, but he about has to be huge and ugly.

OK then, here I sit, with all the dangers of the Big City and nowhere to go. Say the virus breaks out in full force: I’m dead. But say it doesn’t, say we become the safest place in the world. Then everyone will want to live here, including those with the faintest taint, and then -- because of our great success -- the virus will return and we'll end up dead.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Make Hulk Great Again


Part 25 of 30

It looks like there’s a lot of work to be done, if we’re up to the challenge. The world’s in a sorry state, it’s gone downhill with a vengeance. Whether by neglect or incompetence or too many bean eaters and not enough bean counters, everything’s gone to hell. I look out the window and of course it looks fine, the same old same old, as usual. But then there’s all those places where I don't happen to be, and unfortunately, due to worldwide communications, I’m able to hear how things are going, which lately has been uniformly terrible.

Certainly we’re having trouble getting people honest enough and hardworking enough to take the reins of leadership and commit themselves to doing a halfway decent job. A lot of halfwits and dumb-asses looking to enjoy the trappings of power, and of course after everything they can grab, instead of acting responsibly to do a good job with any decent ideals in mind. The way to look at it is that the world needs stewardship, good spirits doing a good job for the common good, at least a helping hand, but what we see instead is "Every halfwit for himself!", with the new standard being you’re entitled to everything you can steal and finagle for yourself. If you see it differently, of course you're one of the plunderers, or -- let's say you're not one of the plunderers (fat chance) -- you're at least tempted to put a crowbar through the hardware store window and steal something.

Yeah -- dammit -- it’s really too bad I'm not seeing the kind of pitch-in and help ideals I remember when I was a kid. Say the river overflowed and flooded the baseball field, every kid in town was down there carrying buckets of water back to the river. Then fan-drying the baseball field. Those were the days when you joined the scouts and you got a lot of merit badges. They worked us to death but we loved it. And along the way learned to tie our shoes, recite most of the numbers between 1 and 50, and could build a fire rubbing two sticks or burn ourselves trying. We learned the difference between different fish. And we could pitch a tent. Unfortunately there were a few prima donnas who could also pitch a fit if they were denied a single thing. But the good old days were good. We had a virus back then, we squished it in the dirt.

These days, the virus has some friends in high places, of course the usual crooked ones lining their own pockets from the common purse, all under the cover of being responsible, ha! Yeah, that’s how it is, but they’re not fooling me. I’m just not in much of a position for putting the clamps on 'em. I’d certainly insist on a fair trial, but then once found guilty, you know how it’d go: I'd insist on perfect justice, reparations, and prevention measures for the future. Make an example of the rapscallions and do away with their sort now and forever. And live happily ever after, dealing in the future with viruses (if any) according to wisdom and the common good, all hands on deck, with the usual cast of slimeballs sidelined once and for all.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Even Lincoln's Dissolving

Part 24 of 30

We know from the news on the current virus that there’s apparently no one wholly immune to it. But of course that doesn’t mean all is quite lost yet. You can get it and hope with all your might that someone just now -- preferably in your town, preferably on your block -- has come up with the antidote or cure.

The way my life goes, that never happens, but anyone else could be the first. You might remember, it seems like I blogged about it last year about this time, how I had a flat tire on the interstate. I felt the tire going rickety split and next thing I was on a particularly unforgiving narrow strip of blacktop about a mile from the next exit. I’m often afraid that’s how it’d be if I caught the virus; just my luck I'd be sidelined only to be passed by and nearly run over in the wild commotion.

Of course I have friends. And they were all very sympathetic to me when they heard what had happened. One especially helpful person said she had me in her prayers, even though the incident was past when I wrote about it from home. Still, it’s the thought that counts, and there’s no reason to open new wounds by scolding her for her callous misplacement of timing. I clearly indicated it was a past tense situation. So she’s still a good friend. But friends can’t be everywhere at once. And in that case, sidelined as I was on the interstate without notice, naturally none of them were there to help. I just don’t want that to happen with the virus.

The virus doesn’t care if you’re me, you, the last Nobel winner, the last Pulitzer Prize winner, or Moe, Larry, or Curly Joe. The virus is like the plagues of Israel, except it’s not looking for blood on your door before turning away. The virus doesn’t take breaks, coffee breaks, doesn’t stretch out in the bathtub in a hot bath, isn’t blackmailed or influenced by payoffs or bribery. It’s a steamroller, baby, guaranteed to blow your mind. Then when your mind’s blown, and you’re daydreaming all kinds of colors, visions, with such reality that you’re reaching out to them like treats from your kindly grandpa on your birthday, only to be clawed across the face by a rude viral swipe and left on the floor steaming, foaming at the mouth, and spinning in circles. Finally, you’re able to stand one last time, writhing against the wall, until you collapse and turn into a puddle of psychedelic foam, everything once straight and normal now seething and apparently distended.

Our illustration of Abraham Lincoln -- born solely to become my personal spirit animal -- is to portray this sad truth. You can be the best person in the world, or you can be half-ass, or you can be whomever-the-current president is, the virus doesn’t care. Check out his arms, the molecules are crazy, although the colors have a certain beauty; regardless, none of it bodes well for his health or future. And I might need a new spirit animal.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

BOOM! A Big Bang

Part 23 of 30

The sky was as empty as the day of creation, barely anything but a thought before The Great Mix-master, seeing nothing mixed up, bore the fruit we came to love, existence. Without fanfare, boom! Just another explosion, apparently -- a few angels went deaf -- although in this case it was the Big One and the damage was done. Existence happened, as we know it, coming into being and simultaneously also passed from being, at least in the mind of its maker. (We exist betwixt the two ends.)

So it was just another day, with the freshly minted sky showing the first word on the horizon -- BOOM! -- and everything appeared to be destruction. But it wasn't. Soon to come, then in a lingering phase, everything was an eyeful and earful, as all things were declared good in relation to nothing at all.

The same sort of thing thing happened just recently, giving us at least this month to suffer our bad fate -- O the joy of preceding generations and the misery of ours! Who knew the miseries we’d be compelled to suffer? I actually could probably come across with numerous “I told you so’s,” but if the lesson wasn’t learned the first time around, it’s unlikely that succeeding generations will know any better either.

Regardless of warnings, regardless of the spot we’re now in, what our destiny is and could’ve been, here we are. As I write this I sit in a cement chair in a thick bunker, itself encased in hardened wood, hoping to expose myself to society again someday and become once again the fount of confidence, spewing hope and grace to all who shall receive. The healing will come, and on that point I am sincere. This too shall pass, my father used to say, and a bright day of new possibilities shall be seen.

Yes, the virus is bad, plaguing the cities, plaguing the countrysides, making a mess of all our surroundings, and nothing can mask the truth. We must abide, though, whether hidden or exposed, perhaps never again to take for granted our lives and aims, until someday when it’s all passed and a new generation -- probably equally as cocksure of themselves -- shall rise and surmount our present fears.

Until then, until the blast has passed, may each of us find ourselves a secure place, apart from the rest, and do our flat-out best to pass the time, surviving, yes, but then, bit by bit, pulling together, to flourish once again! Amen?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Virus: No Crowding Please


Part 22 of 30

Right this minute it’s Virus time at the OK Corral, the whole world, all of us gathered together, trying to avoid contact with the most minute creature, ants, roaches, people. Even eye contact’s discouraged because it’s a slippery slope, mostly with people. It leads to speaking and speaking to french kissing and french kissing to the rest of the slippery slope, crashing and burning at the bottom of a smoldering heap. I know if I had burning at the bottom I’d have it looked into, but with the virus it’s too late.

It’s one of the things we depend on in life, though. Not exactly the slippery slope but the many beneficial ways one things leads to another. We depend on it and make lists to remind us of the many one things that lead to others. Or we just know by experience. I don’t need a list to run my TV, although it’s a lot harder than it used to be, so many channels on numerous sources. And most of the things I eat I already know how to fix them, but if you have to juggle a dozen different things for a party, it'd certainly be a good idea to have a checklist. The more depressing the task, the more you need a list.

But also the more depressing things get, the more I’d rather deny it, change it, abandon it, and finally get the hell out of there. If they suddenly put me in charge of a prison during a pandemic, as a wild example, I’d be so freaked out I’d get the hell out of there right away. But being a prison, where they could lock you up, and say they had to poor judgment to put me in charge, maybe I’d have no right to object. In which case I’d confer with a few trusted associates and see what we could do to shut the whole place down and get out while the guards were busy shooting prisoners, essentially a free-for-all.

Like in the movies, then, I and whoever else was involved would be yelling in crazy celebration of our success while leaving, speeding past the sign at the outskirts of town, “Home of The Same Prison That’s Been Here for 100 Years.” I’m very paranoid about that prison, I think this is the second time I’ve mentioned it today. It’d certainly be a bad place to be during an epidemic, which is a given since it’d be a bad place to be anytime.

Obviously no one’s crowding in to be infected by the virus. Not now, not ever. We have a drive in us, usually, to keep going, always hoping for tomorrow and often even living for tomorrow. Which may never come, but since it always does, tomorrow will be no exception. Someday when it doesn’t come, I’m assuming I won’t notice, and my place will be taken by someone else waiting for it to come and it will. The key thing betwixt hither and thither is to avoid whatever plague there may be that’d squelch our desires. Be it plague, be it virus, even be it someone I don’t know’s birthday party that I’m inexplicably trapped into attending. That’s not going to happen, I know. But … what if it did!? The ugly fickle arm of fate would spell it out for me: “NEXT!” And there’d I go, No Crowding Please.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Virus Suddenly Much Worse

Part 21 of 30

The virus is here, of course. I think about it, a collection of germs with a nucleus, whatever, and how famous it is, even infamous. And yet in its little world it’s oblivious to its fame and the destruction we see from our point of view. In a weird way, however bad it seems to us, it’s going through its life or liveliness merely as it's compelled by its nature.

And so it goes. I sit here at this old typewriter, thinking over a few thoughts. Run to the kitchen for another pot of coffee, then I’m right back, click clack clack bing, another line of viral wisdom to calm the masses, trying with all my might to put what's going on into some context and of course struggling to make sense of what seems senseless at first blush. But it’s only senseless if our own lives of running to the store, carrying things home, fixing dinner, and going to bed at night are senseless.

We really ought to have the upper hand against the virus and probably do, if nature’s what we think it is. That is, benign and passive even if perceived to be against us. One rule has to be, yes, it’s driven toward ends, but they’re not likely conscious ends, a kind of thought like, “I need to infect 12 more people before nightfall.” That'd be terrible, the goal-driven life for viruses! With merit medals and all the rest.

We’d expect that, though, if there were aliens from outer space terrorizing us. And I’m not saying there’s not, even though I don’t believe there is. Wouldn’t that be a great talent if we could see everything revealed exactly as it is? Meaning I'd immediately discern there’s a slime monster virus on my house, not small or subtle but about a mile thick and also encompassing the Big City. If everyone could see it, we'd have an all-points bulletin, “Exercise all caution, This thing multiplies and expands based on the attention we show it.” The sergeant explains the facts of life to me and I ask the natural question, “Should we be discussing it?”

Good news, I just checked the roof and everything seems normal. None of the surroundings, nearby houses, lawns, appear to be under any unusual pressure. The grass isn’t moving in strange reactive ways. There’s no unnatural shadows. The wind is blowing and moving things slightly but nothing out of the ordinary, normal as our usual boring day.

However, I do seem to be coughing more than normal. And when I came back from the bathroom, the typewriter suddenly seemed to fall from the air and hit the table. Sort of a freakish thing to happen, but no doubt explainable. And it’s suddenly not quite as sunny out. In fact I can’t even see the light of day... And there’s big psychedelic corpuscles up and down the skin of something! It’s oozing, grasping, pressing in! The light fixtures are filling up with what looks like fruit juice! Send help, I think I’ve stumbled on something!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Flee The Medical Profession

Part 20 of 30

I'm giving a big shout-out to all the doctors, nurses, orderlies, and med aides out there helping us in this terrible time of Virus. You’ve been great and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that in many ways you’re risking your own good health for the benefit of others. I believe I know how you feel, “Damn Hippocrates and his stinking oath! I could’ve been an architect, or a plumber, and when a pipe goes bad you unscrew it and put in a new one! We’re not trying to save the stupid pipe; it has a lifespan and when it’s over it’s over!”

True, true. But quite foolishly you chose the foolish path anyway -- it’s terrible the ideals we dream up when we’re kids -- and now it’s too late to start over in plumbing school. It’d take an awful lot of bad pipes and a lot of misery catering to homeowners trying to talk you down to a bare nothing just to pay off your medical school debts. Not to mention your embarrassment with parents, loved ones, and your easily depressed children, vulnerable little anemics: “I thought Mommy was a hoo.”

OK, we get it, you’re stuck in a rut. And the politics of the profession, along with the reputation of the hospital -- run by cutthroats that thankfully the rest of us never deal with -- is all at stake. And you shall do this dirty business during the Virus because you have no real choice. Say you didn’t have parents, friends, children, etc., you'd really have some options for escaping, disappearing one night and going somewhere. Say everyone knows you’re from up north, you go south, and vice versa depending on how tricky you think it’d be. Then you find an aged plumber, befriend him, and use your medical skills to somehow off his wife and children sequentially and with real stealth, and you take over the business.

But the complications are obvious. It’s like a surgery, where it’s tough to mess up, especially with witnesses, and scalpels bugged with microphones and tiny cameras recording every little thing. You’ve been so pent up with the Virus that it’s easy to go out drinking, then show up the next day -- the place overwhelmed with the Virus and yourself overwrought with worries and all these “I coulda been a plumber” regrets. It’s too much for anyone, especially with the do-gooder reputation you’re supposed to have.

Then there’s the drugs, and that’s a biggie. Pharmaceuticals, I believe is one of the in-group code-words for it. Maybe you can escape tomorrow with a little dose of something, a little mind nookie for a bad day, who’s gonna know? They’re not filming you at home. And say you unscrewed that light in the backyard, you could vanish anywhere, as long as you can shimmy over the concrete blocks stacked up between yourself and the street with the broken streetlight. Then stop by a bar and try to get in in with the real pharmacy. Now you’re lost in your own reverie, Virus be damned! See that? You’re not as trapped as you thought you were. Let the world deal, you’re free!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Afterlife's Pretty Cool

Part 19 of 30

O the beautiful afterlife we're all looking so forward to. I get up every morning wondering if I've died in my sleep. I look around and if things aren't heavenly and sparkly I get up and take the dog out. It’s a huge thing with me and proves I'm above-average optimistic. And it's only natural when everyday we're facing viruses and death is the main off-ramp. Or you survive and "get" to carry on with the same old drudgery, paying the bills and washing the dishes.

Then what do we do? Put on our mask and hit the local hospital to comfort a dying friend, standing 20 feet away across the room and wishing this could be one of those hospitals that doesn't allow visitors during a pandemic. And there I am, standing, my fingers rubbing my nose, trying to shoo away the virus. A nurse comes in with a glass Jello dish and it falls and cuts your foot really bad. Just another place for the virus to take root and kill me. I finally decide, next time I'll send a card.

All of us are facing the death penalty, though, sooner or later, whether we're 15 or 50 or 75. So it may as well be the virus, or a traffic accident, or we meet someone who gives us a massive hickey and turns out to be a vampire. I was surprised a few years ago to learn how many people are literally into vampirism. It makes you wonder what other abominations are out there. Although if they're doing it with safeguards, not literally sucking your blood, etc., then I’m sure it would be an interesting kink. We’re all looking for interesting kinks. Check that, my kinks are much more innocent, involving me not leaving my house and you being perpetually disease-free.

I’m fairly old here, older than average, for sure. But there’s older yet out there. I saw one old guy in the store the other day, and with the virus flaring up all around us I had to wrestle him in the aisle for the last roll of toilet paper. I was “that close” to extricating it from his feeble hands, bulging vessels, the works -- and pretty close to calling for the jaws of life against him -- when he clutched his heart and played the old heart attack ruse. The booing of other shoppers and the way the store manager ran in shrieking at me that the police were even now on the way -- they sit outside the door playing cards smoking -- helped loosen my grip. Short story end, I got up, cussed out everyone involved, fingered them with some speed, insistence and prejudice and got the hell out of there. There was a kid that took down my license number so now I’m banned. But look how nice I was. I didn’t fight till he had a heart attack, they all made sure of that.

Anyway, the afterlife’s out there. And whether you go now, today, or wait a few days, or maybe your appointment is still years away, it’ll be over before you know it. I think of it everyday when I sleep. Say I sleep eight hours at night, an obscene amount of sleep for our mortal bodies to demand. That’s a third of your life right there. And the afterlife’s always on the horizon! Then another third is spent watching TV, fixing meals, taking the dog out, etc. With the other third being spent, for those who have jobs, making enough money that you’ll have a bed to waste the first third and all the stuff needed to waste the other third on dogs, meals, and TV. Essentially life is vain, but it’s the best we’ve got.

Once we get to the afterlife we’ll likely find it’s no bed of roses either, but something else to manage the best we can. Ultimately I hope it’s not all in vain, lots of stupid tasks to waste your time. I know it’s forever -- eternal -- but that doesn’t mean we’ll use the time wisely.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Bacilli -- The Whole Set

Part 18 of 30

I may as well confess, it’s been a long time since I did coursework in bacteriology and immunology. But when I did it -- a solid 10 semesters plus a half-page essay -- I was good. I went from bar to bar and party to party and never caught a thing, truly while having my way with the best and worst of them. You might remember my thesis: "If We Can't See It, It Ain't There -- Why Is Society So Damned Stupid?"

Of course I knew that viruses are real. One particularly bad strain of pneumococcus was going around and I followed the directions to a T: “Put a banana peel in your shorts before the party.” Nothing vague about it. That was the year the banana flu killed virtually an entire generation. My saving grace was I had the caution to wrap the peel in plastic. I needed it to keep my shorts clean, but it also kept the fatal absorption in my tender undercarriage at a harmless minimum, sparing my life while leaving me in the hospital until a healthier shipment of bananas arrived from down south. Now I’m immune.

It’s really an exciting field to be in, getting the latest lowdown on disease bacilli, especially if you load up on life insurance. I had my entire family as beneficiaries, and you wouldn’t believe the various strains they were setting by my napkin at the dinner table. But I remained well-read on the subject and thwarted all murder attempts. I developed such a confidence that I could tell you precisely how much of the most dangerous things you could eat and keep in your stomach till they needed to be expelled to save your life. But all fun things come to an end, like when friends try to go for the world record and end up dying. Unfortunately, I was never their beneficiary, keeping me as poor as ever.

These days, now that I’m much older, it’s harder to keep up on the latest specimens and research. But I keep up on it as much as I can. See the one that looks like a purple seahorse? It looks fairly benign, but it’s as dangerous as they get. Then look at the large-mouth orange blob at the top. Looks like it might eat you alive, but it’s relatively harmless, living on dandruff! So just comb your hair near it and it’s your friend for life. But let’s say you’re one of those unfortunate people without dandruff. That angers it and it’ll crawl up your nose. But don’t fret quite yet. A friend with dandruff can still save you, although, absent a friend, it explodes in 10 seconds and goodbye head.

Looking around the gallery I’m filled with lots of memories. They’re not all dangerous, you know, if you catch them out of season, if you don’t breathe too heavily, and if you have a lucky charm, like one of those pennies that’s smashed into a Lord’s Prayer. Anything like that, while not foolproof in saving you, is still better than nothing. As you’re passing on -- just like with our current virus -- the prayer and a touch of faith might keep you from burning. But your time on earth is certainly over.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Great Bacteriums

Part 17 of 30

Right up front I need to put out a disclaimer on this one, that, perhaps, what I seem to recall as “The Great Bacteriums of Old” may not have existed. They're telling me that. Yet I seem to remember the elders talking about them when I was a kid. But this other guy I know, whose great grandparents were a prominent fixture in the 1800s supposedly never told their children and their children’s children about such affairs, because this other guy never heard of it.

I’ve been mulling it over, googling to no avail, and I always thought they had such a reliable service, but so far it’s all coming up empty. And yet it just seems to me that my grandfather, who was born in the late 1800s, had said something about something that his grandfather reportedly mentioned in some context, the exact quotation now lost. As I can put it together -- and there are blanks -- I’ve got the syllable “-teriums and the fact that one of my grandfather’s cousins died of bacteria. Poo poo it if you like but it’s ballpark close, close enough to go with.

So there it was. When people were lucky to live into their 30s and would often defer marriage till they were 35 just to be on the safe side, thanks to inheritance issues and whether ladies or guys were marrying each other for their money, they had these bacterium exhibits. With my understanding being that loving couples used these sideshows to settle inheritance issues for their combined wealth, killing two birds with one stone and hoping neither lover would die in the process. But if they did die too soon, you understand, one family would be left destitute and the other family (his) would make off with the loot. A little complicated.

I based my artist’s depiction of the bacterium based on other sideshow exhibits, leaving out, of course, women with stockings up to their thighs because our tastes these days are less carnal than they went with back then. Personally I have no issue with it, but sometimes there’s issue if I view it long enough. Depends on how hot it is, and some of those east European ladies -- thighs as big as a horse’s -- were immediately hot. Our grandpas had it made, making me wonder why all the grandmas I’ve seen, including my own beloved grandmas, had more modern thighs. My family obviously didn’t range far, or have as high of standards when it came to mating. And I guess it’s still that way. I like most things that move.

Imagine though, getting back to the bacteriums, how tough the folks of old were when it came to viruses. They weren’t fooling around. The showed the virus who was boss, and those who weren’t pushy enough, presumably, died. We could draw a certain parallel with today, too, and probably be pretty accurate. Although one of our modern prejudices is not to easily accept responsibility for our problems. But it’s definitely something to think about, how tough we are, and how supposed tough the virus is.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

O'Topsys On The Dead

Part 16 of 30

Looking back over my life -- the whole range of experiences, everything from baptism to premarital fooling around -- I’ve lived a good life. I suppose if I were to come down with something, say the Virus, I’d be completely bummed out and given to thinking about my life even more, the good, bad, and worse. Including this blog. I suppose the Smithsonian would want it. But my main focus has to be on not getting sick.

And, yes, I am very sympathetic to everyone who suffers, whether it's all the various infections, viruses, congenital diseases, etc., itself a huge range of things, everything from dog breath to Italian breath to game toe, really the sky’s the limit, something falling from the sky and killing a guy in a freak accident. It might be a plane, it might be the engine falling off a wing, a tire, a bird sucked in the turbines and shot out the back. It falls and wraps itself around your neck and you choke to death. For me that’d be terrible for my family, since we used to go out hunting for birds (pheasants, and partridges at Christmas), and what kind of karma would that be with a bird falling out of the sky and killing me?

They’d likely do an o'topsy on the situation, which they always do when it’s critical to know the cause of death. If you’re an old guy at a nursing home and die quietly in your sleep at the age of 192, naturally they forego the o'topsy, or if they do one there’s no charge, usually a newbie doing his first o'topsy as part of the practical training at o'topsy school. The way I understand it, though, and my understandings of things tend to be accurate, they keep it lighthearted so no one gets sick. “If you need to turn away,” the old doctor says to the young, “don’t be embarrassed. And remember, that plastic bag dispenser on the side of the bed isn’t just for looks.”

By the time you’re in o'topsy training, of course, you’ve mastered all the preliminary courses, passing with at least a 70% score. Everything from draining to manicures. Again, if you’re old, 192 or up, you won't need an o'topsy, so there’s some benefits to living to a ripe old age. It is obviously a benefit lost on the patient, but it’s of real comfort to the family that their loved one’s passing was without controversy.

You may recall that I mentioned in the past some of the tours I’ve taken, and one of them actually was to a school for morticians. I wasn’t queasy, nothing to that degree, and made it fine. It was for a class. It was interesting, but more interesting for the creepy/funny reactions of the others in the class. There was one guy who was so eager to see it and get the full scoop on everything they did. They took us to a closet, maybe bigger than a closet but not much, where a body was kept, and that guy was so excited about seeing a dead guy that it amused the whole class!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

No! No! No! Mad With Virus

Part 15 of 30

Ha, ha, forgive me, I always chuckle when I see this picture. I had it for my screensaver for about a year and used to see it all the time. I’d go to the kitchen to make a cup of cocoa, then come back and the screensaver would be on, and I'd about spit my pants, dribbling cocoa on them when I sat down. Then I thought, you know what, I'm going to save this pic for the future, like if I ever do a series on something lighthearted, a virus or something. Well, today’s the day!

And we’ve all known someone like him. He has the world's greatest sense of entitlement, by cracky, and if anything or anyone thwarts his expectations, Katie bar the door! He’ll be on you in a flash, like stink on doo doo, barking out complaints, shaking his meaty fists in your direction, and apparently quite the fearsome complainer, with most people easily able to get his way. They see the derby and formal wear and assume he’s among the upper crust, better than you and me. But he knows how life goes; you complain with authority, that’s the biggest secret to getting your way. One day I did it and reduced the clueless clerk at the thrift store to jelly when she didn’t know about the 10% senior discount on dollar books. I was so upset, stomping like this guy, having the 90 cents cash in hand and this clueless clerk -- clueless! -- objected. Terrible stuff.

I also love the stars around him, clouds of dust, lightning, and the various symbols of his contortions, along with enough anger wrinkles to scare his own mother. He shrieks, “No! No! No!” Like “I’m here, I’m the Big Man on Campus, and I’m not taking any crap off anyone!” If I saw him coming -- say I was the thrift store clerk -- I’d pull the old “It’s time to take my break” ruse and put him in his place. Then he’d be like Rumpelstiltskin, so irate he might put his foot through the floor, perhaps breaking his foot, but for sure rolling up a huge bill on getting the floor fixed.

Anyway, picture him as you will. You might see him as the average guy who thinks he has the virus. He goes to the doctor, and they’re all standing back against the wall in full gowns and masks. And he, His Royal Highness, expects them to roll him in for an immediate test. The rest of the waiting room is cowering in the corner, not knowing if they’re more afraid of the virus or the simple fact that he actually could be Rumpelstiltskin. He continues complaining, on and on, and finally the orderlies come to lead him out. They’re immediately stricken by the virus and fall dead. So now it’s serious. They get him to a room and get him cured. But they get the final laugh, not billing his destruction of the floor to insurance but putting it on his tab, every last cent. And hospital floors, like everything else there, are over a thousand dollars!

One helpful note: If you’re going to the hospital with the virus, there’s no benefit in putting on a fancy suit. If fact, if you can find the old winding cloth like they used in the plague in the Middle Ages, they'll truly take your case seriously. First in line or in the back, they will get you in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Grandpa, Is That You?

Part 14 of 30

Here’s the problem with too many killer diseases, too many people getting killed all at once. It’s sort of the opposite of killing, like too many people being born at the same time or taken. We remember hearing about the Baby Boom, of course. It wasn't that long ago but it’s receding more and more into the vastness of the distant past. You get enough people doing humpa-humpa without protection and next thing you know there’s another million people going “Here I am, deal with it.” Then one by one dropping off.

I don’t think, on average, that more and more people being born is a huge problem. It might be a bigger problem if there were all born the same day. Say there was a big conspiracy of a million couples to plan and plot to have their babies all born on the same day -- December 25 -- just to put a famous birthday out there. With enough math skills and maybe some computer help, you could figure out precisely the best day for their common conception. It’d take someone smarter than me, and of course that pool is minuscule.

OK, let's assume that’s all accomplished and a million would-be mothers are taking care of themselves, not lifting more than 500 pounds at any one time, etc., eating right, getting all the nutrition they could, bulking up in the various ways, the right foods, the fetus waxing stronger and stronger, taking up his or her given room and encroaching even further to be ready-teddy out the chute when the time’s right. The hospitals are at their wit’s end, complete facilities tearing their hair out, doctors calling in sick but then compelled by an act of government, all hands on deck, whether right or left handed. Going by your personal preference.

The hospital parking lots are full to overflowing. There’s doctor’s cars illegally parked through the neighborhood, which is often a big problem at the hospital metroplexes we have today. But given the nature of the crisis, and an edict put out by the president, affirming the governor’s consternation, the illegality of parking for any length of time on these side streets is negated, sidetracked, overturned, and maybe just simply ignored for the sake of those precious ones, the baby boom to end all baby booms, millions of little crying mouths, families overrun with new responsibilities, and while not given to putting their hands out, are embarrassed by their lack of planning and receiving stipends.

I like it. I always like it when we’re working together, with decent ends in sight, the common good, mutuality and goals. What’s that have to do with Grandpa’s ghost? Just as it’s hard to keep track of millions of souls -- computers would help -- so it’d be tough keeping track of the millions of people who’ve died, were they to start reappearing. It’s a tenuous thing, identifying those you haven’t seen for 40-50 years once they’re passed on. I worry about it a little, What if Grandpa or even Grandma showed up in my bedroom. I’d have to wonder, Is it really you?

Monday, April 13, 2020

Midnight, Where's My Gun?

Part 13 of 30

I may have touched on this theme -- my every other thought is on guns and my right to pack heat -- and it may come up again. Because we’re such a gun-happy society. If it threatens us, let’s shoot it, that kind of attitude. It’s long been my argument that we’re better off without so many guns, but, on the other hand, don't take mine. If I needed a gun and didn’t have one, that’d be bad. Even as it is, with the whole rack of guns in the back window of the truck, and those locked, it'd be hard to get one in the event of an actual shootout. But no matter, we had countless societies going back to the Garden of Eden when we didn’t have guns, so who knows. I can well imagine, though, in the old days everyone was a lot more trigger-happy, like back when continental drift was a big thing, they might’ve said, “Pa, the continent’s 5 foot farther out than it was yesterday, where’s the gun?”

With this virus scare, though, who knows? People get desperate and know you have a bottle of aspirin or paper towels or a couple garbage bags and they want it. You cry out, “I have no aspirin!” And one of the mob finds the receipt from yesterday in the garbage. You think fast, “I took them all!” Then they point out the side effects, you would’ve bled to death by now. So the jig’s up. You step out with the gun, your short wife holding you back. You even look at the gun and down at the wife and say something like, “I knew the gun was sawed off, but what happened to YOU?!” (Really, a little height would come in handy against the virus, since it’s my understanding that even germs are subject to gravity.)

Anyway, whether she’s of adequate height, there’s nothing you can do about that when the crisis is plum crazy. Whether she comes to your knees or the top of your shoes, it’s too late to worry about it now. She’s better than nothing, and maybe half the mob will trip over her, although their own lack of height could be such that you’ll both trip over them. The gun goes off and accidentally blows away their leader, they disperse and you’re both saved, which is about the best you can hope for.

They do know something, though, that the virus is no way to die, nothing anyone wants for themselves. And that’s the way it is today. Each one of us, holed away behind our door in our homes, knows that a crowd perplexed can go plain loco if they think you have an edge on survival that’s somehow escaped them. And one thing is certain when it comes to the human race, Without the good sense of some species, giving up when the jig’s up, mankind wants to hold on to survival against all odds, even if it means taking someone else out to do it. Is that the way I’d be? I’d like to say no, no, hell no! But probably, at least maybe. I’d try to do right by everyone, but, I guess so, I might rush your door and take a bullet through the head.

It’s nothing to brag about, naturally, but it’s better to try to save yourself than die like a dog, no offense to them.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Super Criminals & This Virus

Part 12 of 30

This virus -- are you with me so far? -- is not just happening, OK? That’s a big statement, and probably one I'll get a lot of flak over. I understand that. And I can deal. But I’m just concerned about those out there -- a lot of people -- who won’t deal with it if we don’t take it completely seriously. So I’ll put it out there again, it’s not just happening.

Is it a huge conspiracy? I don’t believe it's that huge. It’s just like this, that in particular localities there are agents -- it’s tough to prove because a lot of these shady characters stay in the shade. But it makes complete sense how these agents are acting. Doing their dirty work (1), then slinking back into the shadows to look out from the shadows and behold the evil fruit of their doings.

And you see how effective their plans are, at least in the short-run. Because we will get them. This is something f I can see it, our leaders can see it, and they'll shut down the whole thing.

So we are indeed looking at local agents and national agents and probably global agents at their filthy task, whoever they might be in the particular places. It's a lot easier to see in local situations because the networks on the larger scale, while like the local in many ways, have a lot more ways of disappearing, and shifting blame.

And I haven’t merely been sitting here writing this, OK? I’ve been out, particularly at night, listening at doors in alleys, exchanging certain goods for certain information. Then filtering it through the software in my massive VIC-20 brain. It takes a lot of doing, but I've got all the time in the world (to do good).

So far, then, I’ve narrowed the local scene down to four agents, perhaps one of whom is the biggest threat, while taking into account that if they're in cahoots they’re even more powerful. I’m going to sketch them out with the helpful apparatus of four aces, and we’ll be going the typical left to right in the all important list of their identities and motives. First, we have the town drunk, Skidrow Sal. There’s nothing that’s not observed by Sal. Sal sees the weak links in every scene and gets his booze by reporting to Mr. or Ms. Big.

Second, there’s furniture store owner Martin Van Bureau. Who's really the point man on information, very useful in the ‘hood. It seems that Bureau has run up quite an electronics bill for eavesdropping equipment; he shut down the last few electronic stores in the area. If you’ve said anything about anything, or have bought furniture in the last few weeks, Bureau has you pegged.

Third, we can't leave out the owner of the Third Reich Bar, Alois Himmler, aka “Big Al,” who started out a WWII re-enactor but is now head of the local Nazi protectors. Not only is there a lot in it for him, the virus, the virus is this ace’s ace in the hole.

And lastly, we can't leave out Baby Face Walter and his child bride Lucinda. Baby Face isn’t just a baby in the face, but baby all over, wiry, slippery, able to show up unnoticed, always keeping his crying down lest he be caught. With Lucinda satisfying him continually, his mind is completely free of carnality, making him a super computer of information.

So there we have it. Sal and Bureau have their necessary role in this cabal, but it’s Himmler, virtually bottle-fed by Baby, who’s the number one purveyor of the virus. I’d say bring the pillars and walls down around Himmler and we’ll finally catch a break, spelling the last days for his viral reign of terror.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Crowds Looking At Crowds


Part 11 of 30

This is the before picture, before the virus took hold, but to be perfectly frank it could easily be confused with the after picture.

Of course it was entirely safe to be in the public concourse before, when we dwelt in ignorance, the virus fully present, infecting the first few crowds.With that taint, however, it was immediately obvious that we should shrink back, with the crowds to be diminished and possibly never restored, depending on the scope of the pandemic.

But anything that’s anything has to be witnessed, otherwise how would we know there was no one there. I know when it happened, my first thought was I should stay home, but then I thought, "How will I know if everyone stayed home unless I go see?" Well, great minds think alike. And the neighbors saw me pulling up my truck's anchor and shoving off. They all know how careful I am, probably, so they figured, ‘If he’s going to see it, it must be safe.’ And really, how will you have bragging rights in the future unless you're bold now? Who wants to rely on secondhand gossip?

Just the sight of the concourse, the pavilion, filled to overflow proportions gave each of us a renewed confidence. It was just another false alarm. The word went out, “It indeed IS another false alarm!” Meaning, anyone paranoid enough to stay hunkered down with their little supplies of toilet paper and canned soup is a sucker of the meddling government! When you put it like that, what choice do you have? Plus, the wind was blowing the germs out to sea, or whatever islands there are betwixt hither and thither.

You can sort of see it in the way our noses work, filtering out the germs of our immediate presence with the tiny hairs. On the macro scale, that’s what trees are, nose hairs without a nose. The wind blows from one tree to the next, each with its marching order -- germs incoming! -- and the filtering both begins and ends like inhalation and exhalation, the next breath cleansing the previous breath.

That day has passed by now, of course, and we’ve had some iffy days since. A number of the people I knew that day have fallen victim to optimism or stupidity, even now flitting about in the afterlife, living with regrets on those virus-free shores. It may not have been the best behavior but I’m still alive, my nose a little plugged up but my left leg's fine. I’m still kicking...

I implore you -- my entire healthy left side implores you -- be socially responsible in this time of terrible virus. You may live to see tomorrow, or, equally possible, you might not.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Serial Killer's Regrets

Part 10 of 30

Full Disclosure: I’ve never been a serial killer, not even a suspect. I’ve never known a serial killer, and I’ve never known anyone (knowingly) who’s known a serial killer. It's possible just by the phenomena of coincidence that may have unknowingly been in the same place as a serial killer, because I go out in society, to the grocery store, other stores, parades, and other events, and a serial killer, unknown to me, may have been there. Hell, he or she may have stood right next to me, and for all I know may have sized me up as a victim in a particularly desperate spree. I just don’t know, although I definitely hope not. Oh, if only serial killers were a little more open about their intentions and their whereabouts, without actually killing us it'd still be useful for law enforcement. Note: I do live in The Big City, so it could be that every other person I see is a serial killer, but so far they’ve been apparently very secretive.

Even now, I could look up online for the basic character and methods of operation that the typical serial killer has or uses. But that would not fit the purposes of this blog, since that’s information anyone could also look up if they’re interested. If you’re the type of person interested in such things, and maybe a little too interested, I will offer a friendly request to you not to try to get to know me. Let’s just part as friends, and not really even friends, two strangers bound to stay that way. I’m happy on my own with my own interests, and the fact that I’m writing this blog doesn’t mean that I have any abiding interest in the subject.

One could, however, well imagine some of the personal distinctions of a serial killer. Whose personalities would no doubt have quite the range, everything from the newbie serial killer, who meant merely to be a one-off killer but it got the best of him and he went too far, to the more hardened hombre, who watches scary movies while laughing, then goes on his rounds much like a plague but with a human purpose and drive. Scary stuff.

The virus is a kind of serial killer, but naturally, insofar as we know, without a purposeful drive to kill. It’s a combination of factors of that which kills coming into contact with that which can be killed. Bacteria, chemical combinations, body parts susceptible to molecular conflicts, a quick-acting or slow-acting agent that attacks without discernible purpose but appears to have but one goal, the complete break down of tissues, sinews, vessels, bells and whistles, and the other body parts that doctors know about but the rest of us are clueless concerning. It’s disgusting at one level -- body parts on the fritz -- naturally, but it’s technically nothing other than the breakdown common to beings with finite life, where eventually one thing or another gets you.

The big difference between our misunderstood friend, the human serial killer, who may have at least fleeting regrets such as “Why? Why? Why?” and nature, is nature has no qualms about doing its thing, regardless of how we feel about it. And probably usually the human serial killer -- being a nasty sort -- is more like nature in that regard.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Drive Carefully, Should Go Viral

Part 9 of 30

Are you traveling the fatal track? For sure, I hope my trajectory isn’t on the fatal track, although of course we’re all going to die. (This is an unproven statement that still could be false, but don’t bet on it.) I myself have missed many of life’s pitfalls and troubles, and sometimes against all the odds, but I’ve noticed old age is inexorable and when they say, ‘It’s only a matter of time till you’re worm-food,’ I've come to believe them.)

The key thing on the fatal track is just to avoid wrecking as long as you can. Just like driving a car on normal roads. You can be on the interstate and make a fast, drastic right hand turn and take out yourself and any number of other victims, but usually there’s not a good reason to do so, and certainly no great call for it to happen. When I go somewhere, helping friends to the hospital or whatever, I drive responsibly and with the best awareness I have, making sure we make it there safe and the same going back. It's a thing that comes with old age.

But in fact, it always seems like people are intuitive enough even when they're going 70 mph to notice my good example and emulate it right then and there in real time. I can easily imagine them saying, “Wow, that guy’s one heck of a driver. I think I’ll be more like him.” I notice them thinking this and double down on my game, very vigilant with the turn signals, tapping my brakes when called for, and so forth. One of the things I’d absolutely love, and it’ll probably never happen, is for my car insurance agent to just happen to be on the road at the same time, see my carefulness and complete maturity behind the wheel, signal me to the shoulder and cut my rate in half right then and there. These are the things I yearn for.

But there’s plenty of incentives to be a careful driver. If you’re incautious and reckless, you know that if you collide with someone they can sue you for everything you have? We’re always hearing people complaining about the number of lawsuits there are -- and some of them are superfluous, entirely unnecessary -- but I have to concur with legal experts on the validity of most lawsuits when it comes to traffic fatalities. Running someone off the road, squarely colliding with someone pulled over with a flat tire, or even seeing people on the sidewalk and willfully leaving the road to track down and take them out, these are things good people don’t do. And if they sue you down to your last pair of underpants, you deserve it.

There’s similarities with the virus, which are probably so elementary and obvious that to explain them would be a clear waste of space and time. But the prize is often withheld from the timid, so I'll get into it. The virus is always looking for victims, so are psychotics behind the wheel. The virus could affect anyone, so could psychotics behind the wheel. And the virus, as terrible as it is, will someday fade away. Would that it were the same for psychotics behind the wheel! My one plea, Don’t be like psychotics behind the wheel. And don’t be like the virus, for that matter. Instead of fading away, if you’re doing something wrong on the road, please stop it immediately or sooner.

Note: I may have gotten a speeding ticket yesterday. I still don't know. The guy had one of those speed guns tracking everyone, and I was at least a smidgen fast.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Chair's Chair Virus

Part 8 of 30

Anyway, as I said yesterday, my once-nice-brown-haired Pa had the virus known as cancer and died. Immediately having gone to heaven, his soul, we later buried him on the hill back home, with his mortal remains remaining there with his hopes of being resurrected someday. My own thought on the religion of it all is that the body will likely remain there till the end of time but that his soul/spirit did indeed majestically flit-flit-flit its way to his reward, a fast flit and more or less instant.

He also had a nasty cough. I seem to remember it was in his lungs, a terrible way to die. Which might be like the virus today, since we’re all afraid of being touched, having the breath of strangers or loved ones on us, I think. I know they put up plexiglass dividers at the grocery store to keep the nastiness of customers off the checkout people. It’s all extremely serious business, and even when the virus is no more, I would guess the plexiglass dividers will remain forever. They're industrially fastened. So no more handshaking even after this is over. The new greeting upon meeting someone will be to step back three feet and bow, but not such a deep bow that we’re breathing on anything that’s settled near the floor.

So Pa died, with his light brown hair, around 20 years ago, leaving behind a bunch of furniture that Mom (still alive at the time) wanted to get rid of. Dad’s personal den had a chair and ottoman that were gorgeous in their time, procured by my family after another guy died and they were on sale at a garage sale where he lived. Dad knew they were used but accepted them anyway, having no scruple at that time about sitting in a chair that a potentially infected person sat in. (These days, with the virus, we’ll avoid all floor models that aren’t sold or even sitting in them for a test.) As for Pa, it was never known definitively whether his lung cancer was a result of a prior infection of his chair or something to do with an old ashtray he used to use.

Once Pa flitted off to his heavenly reward -- my inspiring post yesterday, and I’ve already heard that a few souls have been saved based on it -- that left us with the quandary of what to do with his filthy old chair. You sell it at a garage sale, you’re open to legal action if someone gets lung cancer from it. Or who knows what other kinds of cancer! I do remember one of the dogs sleeping on its back, then wriggling around in a dream, and falling out and getting hurt. The dog's attorney tried to make a federal case of it, but they settled for a few biscuits and a red squeeze toy.

Sorry to tell you now the chair’s gone. We did indeed put it on the curb with a sign, and it was snatched up actually before the ink on the sign was dry! So there’s someone out there -- no doubt now dead -- willing to live dangerously, with basically nothing left to live for.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

My Heavenly Visions

Part 7 of 30

I do a lot of meditation. And I’ve had vivid images of heavenly glory, most of them involving gigantic tables of great food, spread out as far as the eye can see: big roasts, salads with lettuce that doesn't wilt, and of course spaghetti, the most delicious cheap thing you can make. Mostly I see things from when I was a kid, when I was learning about life: Wars, plagues, cleaning fish, Grandpa clearing his throat, Grandma talking flea market dealers down on canes, and of course vivid dreams of Heaven.

The last one, I’d love to have dreams like that now that I’m old, but it just never happens. One of the reasons, probably, and I’ve mentioned it before, is that like Jimi Hendrix I might have a vision and slip into the alpha jerk state and slip into the hole and die before my time. Although, whereas he no doubt had future classic albums that were never made, what have I got? Nothing, just this blog, which, while it’s extremely influential on all seven continents, I'm “just not fed” by the constant acclaim. My time is near.

Still, if I could recapture the glory of my youth, these dreams of Heaven, I think I’d appreciate them now even more. Back then, they were so vivid -- I saw the whole judgment! -- I’d wake up with cold sweats and my mom thought I was peeing the bed. I told her no, I wasn’t, and tried to blame the sweats on God, but, you know moms, the supernatural always escapes them.

The graphic today portrays something of Heaven without quite showing it in its fullest accurate detail. I do concur with the graphic on one point -- and this is a major truth -- there are no broom closets in Heaven. You don't see a single one. So nowhere to hide. The rest, except for nonessential details is basically true. And who’s this I see? Pa! The old man, his cancer a thing of the past, with even his bald head covered with the light brown hair. That’s so good to know, illustrating what is clearly portrayed, Justice, sweet Justice, among the other golden trappings of the grand hallways.

It’s a great vision to have in these days of the virus. That filthy thing, that devilish virus, seen under the microscope in its full hideousness, a lot of jagged edges and tiny little infecting handles, has no place in this grand vision. The fear that people have -- including me, naturally, in my weaker moments, almost 24/7 -- will not be sustained in that vision's fulfillment. The way it brings people low and just outright kills them around the world cannot stand in the grand vision. I see the numbers. And more importantly I can picture in my mind the terror -- again, 24/7 -- and know that it’s no good. Like the cancer that took down Dad. And whatever it was that took down Grandma and Grandpa, heart troubles and miscellaneous, respectively, these filthy devils shall not stand.

Please be encouraged, the comfort and best wishes are real. But if reincarnation turns out to be the afterlife, buckle down next time and set a few goals for the next go-around. Buy paper towels early, toilet paper, cheese, whatever.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Softening My Image

Part 6 of 30

These viral times are indeed trying times. I went out to mow my yard for the first time since winter and it took 30 pulls at the handle, nearly to no avail till, finally, it turned over and started. I was starting to sweat from embarrassment, not wanting the neighbors to see me in such a state of futility. Then there’s the virus, and children perhaps in all kinds of trouble, I don't know the full extent of the danger, but, forget about it, it's not good.

But it's not all bad. I give thanks for my neighbor, one of the Pavlona sisters from the old country. She used to travel quite a ways, not just around the three county area but out in the pretty far flung areas in a carriage. Her dad was one of the good old traveling minstrel types who could con the gullible out of their life savings, a fascinating thing. So Marie's one of the few neighbors I trust intrinsically, because she was totally upfront about her scheming thieving past and said indeed it was past. I put a 5 dollar bill on my dresser once in a while to test her, but of course she’s on to that old ruse.

These are the people, some of the neighbors -- the children and Marie Pavlona -- I have in my heart in these depressing days of this terrible virus. The children, naturally I want them to walk freely and to run and play freely. And Marie, she holds me in her prayers, she says, and someone with such a checkered past, if she says she’s praying for me, I believe it. That’s really the way it goes with folks like her. They may lie through their teeth when it comes to conning someone, but when they’re your friend they’re as good as gold. And kids can be the same way, usually conniving little monsters, but these kids, her extended family -- they’ve had nothing for so long -- they’re simply good. But offer one of them a fudge brownie and you better have one for the others! Fudge brownies are always a hit.

I mention all these children and Marie not so much for their own goodness, etc., but to soften up my image for you the readers. A few of you, according to the comments, think I appear to be “cold and aloof," I guess when it comes to stuff like that, and things about the virus, which I do take seriously. I have a mask, true story. And I want to assure you and put your mind to ease that I’m really an old softie. Which you about have to be when east European Roma are your friends; they’ll do anything for you. And then, naturally, the kids, every one a born thief but lovable as pumpkin pie.

Anyway, in these sad days of the virus -- dire days! -- it’s good to keep your friends close, etc., and look out for one another. Remembering, it should be remembered, to wash your hands and use about a gallon of antiseptic on everything they touch. It’s actually better to keep the kids outside or at least at arm's distance, wiping down any touched surface and all the rest to keep them from infecting me. These are things I’ve learned at the grocery store, which just recently put up an industrial strength plexiglass wall between the cashier and the customer. Prayers for them too.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Politics Rears It's Ugly

Part 5 of 30

For such a tragic affair and life as we know it up in the air, it was wonderfully inspiring to know that some things are locked in place, secure, and just as we knew them to be. Part of the inspiration is having certain things we can count on, no surprises, the foundations we take for granted securely set.

After all, what would it be like if we couldn’t count on anything staying the same? It’s hard to imagine, really, that anything could be in such disarray that all of our suppositions would be in question. The facts of life as we know them. Were it that bad we would’ve given up, thinking there’s nothing we can do about it, the foundations have crumbled.

But as it turns out, we needed not fear that all hope was lost. Those among our betters came through just when we needed them. Throwing off all restraint -- and they could’ve been so tightly held down as to be unable to breathe -- they muscled their way through the pain and suffering toward, perhaps one last, free-for-all for their most ardent supporters, not to mention themselves, putting Number One ahead of all and reminding us how things stand.

This was great, because the crumbling foundations -- aforementioned -- might not have held long enough for their great task to be accomplished. And to think of them going at it with the diligence they had, we’re reminded of what a potential sacrifice it was to muscle their way through -- with all the stick-to-it-tiveness of baby pigs seeking those life-giving nipples of the mother sow that their nourishment should not be denied. I used to see it at farms in the neighborhood, actually to great extremes. Did you know that if you slip in a pigpen you can be eaten? It’s true, I lost two classmates like that, a downer for the birthday boy who had us out to his farm for the party.

But when you have a party -- getting back to our topic -- that’s when you can really have a party. “These are desperate times! If we don’t act now -- and I mean with everything we have -- it’ll be too late.” And God forbid anyone get in their way. If the confusion of a viral plague isn’t enough cover to suck up whatever there is to be had, there will never be cover at all. This is the time to rise up, and with everyone’s sight obscured from the confusion of seeking shelter, managing the ins and out of quarantine, and scheming to get just one more roll of toilet paper, the time is right for government to quench their thirst (temporarily) for more more more.

Stand back, there’s more incoming, a turgid blast, nothing held back, obscuring the way, and like we said, providing cover for whatever rapine there is to be had, basically whatever is left to claim.