My daughter-in-law Asia and I are very competitive with each other. She has been tested for Covid-19 four times this month. She has had no suspicious contacts and is remarkably healthy, maintaining her strenuous daily workouts. She tested negative all four times. I have never been tested for Covid but I have already had the Pfizer Booster. She claims she will not get the the Booster shot because she is not afraid of the Coronavirus. She will undoubtedly change her mind when eligible because she does seem afraid of it and/or she is addicted to free stuff. I also love to be tested. I have my patience tested every day. I fish for compliments every time my blood pressure is tested. I enjoyed getting the Booster ahead of everyone I know. I was texting about it while sitting in the holding pen to make sure my claim was time stamped. A volunteer asked if I needed a complimentary bottle of water. I said yes but then was embarrassed as she approached because she might see the half dozen full water bottles littered inside my car. I felt better when the lady in the car behind me began grabbing waters and bars as if she had nine starving children in her SUV. Amazing how anxious we are to hoard free stuff. As a kid, I hated getting shots and tried to avoid them at all costs. But now I am a professional vaccine competitor. I cannot believe they want me to wait a couple weeks before getting my regular flu shot. I may have to sneak one early under my pseudonym Hugo Afterme.
Fourth Grade is the first time students are allowed to run for Student Council at my granddaughter Zofia’s elementary school. Her class elected one boy and one girl. As near as I can tell, almost every student ran for the office. Since they all vote for themselves, the boys end up electing the girl representative and the girls determine which boy goes to Student Council. This is likely an unintended consequence of the overarching plan to have both genders equally represented. The election is a clever exercise where candidates write a two paragraph speech and deliver it in front of the class. They are doing schoolwork without realizing it. My daughter-in-law told me to stay out of the process even though I fed Zofia’s father several celebrated lines in his successful student elections. Some of my quips were censored in the approval process but I like to take too much credit for the opener in his speech for Student Body President: “I want to represent the best high school in the state of Kansas [pause for cheers], but since I cannot do that, I want to represent you!” Zofia wrote an excellent speech on her own although generally parents were involved for good and bad reasons. One girl was promising a Fidget Spinner to everyone who voted for her until her parents scrubbed that from her speech. Apparently the seeds of election corruption spring up organically. The election results were cleverly revealed right before Friday dismissal. Zofia shed tears. She lost and did not even get a Fidget Spinner. It might have been worse if one of her closest friends won. Apparently the system worked because if Zofia had not voted for herself, she said she would have voted for Stella, the ultimate winner.
I always wanted to be taller. I have been punished for being frivolous because I am actually shrinking. Oddly, I never sought to weigh more or have a bigger waist. I would not be a better basketball player even if I were taller. Was I affected by expressions like Tall, Dark and, Handsome? Cowboy boots make me look taller. I tanned myself to a darker color until skin cancer excisions made my face less handsome. I should be going for Healthy, Happy, and Kind but I am too vain for that. Plus Kind ruins the alliteration Handsome would provide. And what about Smart, Humorous, and Rich? Where do those fit in? I should have straightened out my priorities when I was young enough to mold myself into the me I wanted. I still have not lowered my now exaggerated height on my driver’s license and live in fear of being caught in that lie at my next traffic stop. But I also leave my weight higher. Why do I not care about changing the record to the more flattering current weight? Wait. Who cares? I just nodded off while typing. I will get some caffeine while you break into small groups to analyze our obsessions with measurements. Miles per gallon for the car. Square feet of the house. Scores like IQ, SAT, and GPA. Sports are competitive, so we have golf handicaps, batting averages, and race times. Even our days are numbered with life expectancies, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. This is going to sound weird but I even obsessively check how many visitors like and follow my Blog! Funny how we resent being treated like a number when we define ourselves by numbers.
In over five years of Blogging, I have never tried to add a Tag until today. I am not sure how people found me before but I expect that readership will explode now that I have found this new tool. It took me four years to get a photo gravatar and five years to try paragraphs. Why does it take me so long to do things in my own best interest? Five answers: (1) Laziness; (2) Contrariness; (3) Stupidity; (4) Old Age; and (5) I forgot the last reason because I did not write it down or I wrote it down and put it in the freezer. At age 74, you would think I would not be dragging my feet since time is a scarce commodity. I do not have the luxury of a ten year plan. This post is short because I spent a great deal of time locating the “tag” button. And if no tag appears, I failed to execute (see item 3 above).
My brother Kevin had a ritual for assigning blame. When tensions were high over some family disaster, he would direct the arguments into an apportionment of blame game. I recently lost my wallet by throwing it in the trash. So I admit to 1% of the blame for losing it. I assign equal 33% shares of blame to my wife, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter who were distracting me. The argument and negotiation over percentages of blame focuses everyone on sharing blame and can diffuse tension with laughter. Or it can escalate the argument into rage. So far I have increased my offer of blame acceptance to 10%. Still I have been inconsolable over the loss of my driver’s license, my credit cards, my Medicare and supplemental insurance cards, my Senior Parks pass, and my card that says: “I am a very important Catholic; In case of an accident, please notify a Bishop.” But today, I had an epiphany. I did not lose my ability to drive a car. So why am I pouting? I did not lose my credit. Other people have real problems. I did not lose my health insurance. I did not lose my right to visit National Parks. I do not need the Last Rites just because my wallet was buried before me. I did lose $200 in cash but I can write that off as a Blogging business expense. Wait, I think it was $300.
My wife and I were driving on a Sunday date night when daughter-in-law Asia called about a neighbor lady who asked if we had seen her chicken. We were taken aback by the oddity of the question and relieved the call was not about festering family problem. In 23 years, we have seen deer, bobcats, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, quail, moles, hummingbirds, eagles, geckos, mice, and bats in our neighborhood. But we have never seen a chicken running loose or in a coop. Asia and the lady were trying to communicate in English, not the first language for either woman. The neighbor kept making three points over and over: (1) the chicken was the only thing keeping her husband alive; (2) she had seen the chicken on our property; and (3) she wanted to look in our backyard. Asia granted permission, notified us, but did not warn her husband Matt and their daughter who were startled when the neighbor interrupted their Badminton game. Matt had the same conversation with the woman. I do not know if she thinks we stole her chicken and is appealing to us to return it to her ailing husband. Or maybe she has a chicken-savant administering lifesaving medical treatment which is helping her husband. But I do know the chicken is not going to survive in the wild with predators and dogs running around. Then again, I do not know if our neighbor even has a husband or a chicken. But I am initiating no contact unless I actually spot a chicken.
The Red Tricycle website recently reported on studies identifying benefits of sending children to visit their grandparents. I consolidated the findings into five general categories.
(1) Grandparents provide unconditional love which is apparently good, although my granddaughter plays the game I remember her uncle loving when she asks whether I would still love her if she killed so and so. Luckily I do not answer hypothetical questions.
(2) Grandparents who babysit allegedly have a “37% lower mortality risk” than those who have no caring responsibilities. But do studies control for the variable of health condition? Maybe grandparents who die first are ones too sick to take care of grandchildren. Plus I will need an Accounting Professor explain what exactly a “37% lower mortality risk” means. If my friend Goktug has a 100% chance of dying, does that mean I only have a 63% chance of death?
(3) Grandparents want to show grandchildren the world. They showcase culture by exposing children to museums, art shows, musical theater, and even skip-gen trips. Or in my case, the culture is digging for worms, watching scary movies like The Fly and The Quiet Place, and going on Lazy Man Zoo and Aquarium Outings to nearby pet stores and fish markets.
(4) Everyone can be part of a “village” team. Grandparents can be sounding boards. Their role allows them to be less judgmental and offer empathy. Theoretically this produces happier and more secure children with less emotional and behavioral problems. But I can prove exceptions do exist.
(5) Children can learn about the past as grandparents share pictures and stories. According to scientists, understanding what life was like in the past can help children see the possibilities for change in their future. My sharing helps my grandchildren get plenty of sleep.
The movie Two for the Road includes contrasting restaurant scenes. Young lovers joyously engaged with each other are juxtaposed with the somber disengagement of older married couples. At least that is what I remember from watching it fifty years ago. I do not know how well my wife and I have avoided the aging stereotype over the decades but we try not to project it in public! After a recent Sunday morning walk, we stopped to eat outside at a restaurant. The only other patron we could see was another older couple. They never spoke to each other. He made a few curt replies to questions from the waitress. Otherwise he was casually playing with his phone or eating. His wife was working through a large salad with avocados at a deliberate pace. They were both dressed casually but fit the image of a well heeled couple. I did not sense they were fighting or in the middle of a phone emergency. I rarely have a meal without a phone emergency but in such cases I usually leave the table and I am definitely talking about it with my wife in between calls or texts. Usually we are saying things like: “Let’s call Bobbie and tell her to list our house. We can have her arrange to put any possessions we leave behind into storage. As soon as we pack up the Toyota, we can sneak away in the middle of the night and hit the road. And remind me that we need to change our Wills.” Of course, we sober up and wait patiently for the next emergency to erupt. .
Joaquin Alcaraz Gracias was a 45 year old man who died immediately after winning a beer drinking championship in Spain in 2013. He drank six liters of beer in twenty minutes but began vomiting and went into cardiac arrest. Local officials believed alcohol consumption was a factor. That impressive understatement did not prevent the suspension of future festival plans. Other factors in the death included a bladder as full as my Bucket List, a brain as shriveled as my sense of decency, and a genetic predisposition for early death. I have removed “winning a beer drinking contest” from my bucket list but still hope to score on “winning a multi-million dollar lottery.” More troubling is the discovery of a bucket list in my name but which I did not compile. On Wednesday, I wandered into a medical clinic looking for a restroom and was directed to the Urology department. That is one of the “ologies” that I would never voluntarily select. Nothing could make me more uncomfortable. Wait, the doctor used a witness to record a transcript. That did make me even more uncomfortable. I wonder if she typed in all my witticisms. I bet she was smiling behind the curtain she pulled when we got to the X-rated portion of the show. I asked if the pingback of her transcript had space for followers to like and comment. Lack of response probably meant they have heard it all a million times. Wow, a tough audience compared to the Blogology office where I work. I cleansed with as much beer as I could drink in 20 minutes.
Kaley Cuoco and Karl Cook “shocked the world” when they announced on September 3rd that they were divorcing after three years of marriage. When I skimmed this article in the September 20th issue of People Magazine, I wondered who these people were and how I missed the world’s shock. Finally I recognized Cuoco from the Big Bang Theory television show. I also recognized that I cannot have it both ways. I cannot subscribe to tabloids like the National Enquirer or purchase the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and pretend to be surprised by what I get. And I cannot be objective. If I do not disparage People’s overstatement about the World’s shock, then I have to admit to being out of touch. What could be worse than an “out of touch” Blogger? Maybe September 3rd was a slow news day. I peeked back and found Biden’s response to Texas abortion law, Hurricane Ida death tolls, Georgia DA indicted for mishandling Arbery killing, Virginia Supreme Court position on a Robert E. Lee memorial, Booster shot timelines, Taliban clashes with Panjshiris, California forest fire predictions, Capitol rioter ordered to jail, and release of an ABBA album. I realized I am in a daze wandering through daily activities, hiding behind a keyboard, and certified as shock proof. I am fiddling with Fantasy Football transactions while Rome burns. But I am not going to cancel my People Magazine subscription until after I find out who Kaley Cuoco’s new boyfriend is.