Obscure Principles

I signed up for an annual online subscription with the New York Times for $96 extracted in $8 monthly increments from the payment source I provided. After one year, the monthly charge automatically doubles to $16 unless I remember to cancel. So I have to put notes on my calendars reminding me to cancel just because I hate that technique. The car dealer provides me a three month free SiriusXM subscription on my radio with the catch that I am agreeing to take the initiative to cancel it or be automatically charged the going rate of Exorbitant every month until the Mariners win the World Series, whether I am alive or not. I have to reject good deals and offers I might like because I do not like to make the technique successful. I never buy or sign anything from anyone who rings my doorbell because if that type of solicitation bears fruit, more are sure to follow. If a Cub Scout came to my door with a petition directing the State of Washington to waive property taxes for all certifiably cranky old men, I would refuse to sign it on principle. I cannot remember exactly which principle, maybe the Principle of Least Action.



Donald Trump criticized cowardly police officers and said he would have rushed in unarmed to save students and teachers from the mass shootings at a Florida high school if he had been present. If Captain Sullenberger had died in the cockpit while Trump was on board, the Donald also would have safely landed Flight 1549 on the Hudson. Trump would have earned the Medal of Honor if he had served in the military and he would have refused to move to the back of the bus if he ever rode one. So whether we agree with his political beliefs or not, Trump would at least like us to universally honor him for his bravery. And for those who dismiss his boasting as hypothetical, we should remember that he claimed he would be elected President of the United States if he ran for that office.


I once thought that roughly half the population suffered from narcolepsy because so many people were falling asleep when I was talking. Eventually I learned that some of my victims were feigning sleep in the unfounded hope that I would stop speaking. Others did not have full blown narcolepsy but rather an understandable intolerance for boring monologues. My friend Jim once tried to spare my feelings by indicating that Rob, a fellow I put to sleep at a party, was a known narcoleptic. Decades later a very close friend of both Jim and Rob ridiculed my assertion that Rob was a narcoleptic. I tried to explain that Rob’s narcolepsy was a deep secret that I only revealed because I have no respect for the rules of confidentiality. But she fell asleep while I was patiently defining the term neuropeptide orexin.


I understand why people who have known me for fifty years do not read my Blog. I know they have heard every story or perspective of mine over and over. But it always surprises me when the youngsters feel the same way. Recently my 17 year old granddaughter was giving me a hard time in the kitchen for my scrupulous washing of some strawberries. I began my reply, “Well I had a friend…” She cut me short, “Yeah, I know all about your friend Nick who worked in a grocery store.” This is good and bad. Good that my granddaughter actually remembered one of my stories. Bad that I am embarrassed to be repeating stories that no one wants to hear any more. Good that we both can speak in shorthand so I do not have to repeat the indelicate reasons I like to wash my fruits and vegetables.


My vegetarian daughter-in-law sent me a link to a BBC news feed that promoted one of the articles with the headline sentence “Why you shouldn’t eat octopus.” The great news for me was that I did not have to bother reading that article because I am already on board with not eating octopus. The great news for you is that means I only have enough knowledge on the topic for a very short Blog. I do not even know if the controversy over the plural of octopus has been settled except that my spell check rejects octopi.

Arming Students

Arming teachers may make sense but I think arming students should be subject to an age restriction of at least eight and a rigorous background check. Someone wrote that sentence in a comment on the New York Times website in response to an article titled Trump Proposes Arming Teachers. I am reprinting the comment here with the permission of the writer who surely wants to remain anonymous because he is a self-effacing individual who enjoys sharing his wisdom with others without any credit cravings. And I am fairly certain he does not own a gun.

Rear View Mirror

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I still have football playing strength in my left shoulder. I have not played on a football team since I quit in the preseason of my junior year of high school after contracting a severe case of the Wimpiness Flu. But earlier this month, I stretched across the front seat of my truck attempting to close the passenger door and leveled the rear view mirror with such force that it ripped the rear view mirror right off the window, taking a sliver of glass with it. And my shoulder does not hurt one bit. I would not mind driving with the mirror dangling except that when I go over a speed bump or jump the curb, the mirror swings violently into the inside of the windshield. So I have attached two strings that stabilize the mirror when tied to opposite sides of the cab.  My middle son once ripped my mirror off the windshield so I could tell you how much it costs to fix this problem. But my data would be useless because I always walk into auto dealers and repair shops with a sign around my neck that says, “I know nothing about fixing vehicles and I have money.” This eliminates the time consuming cat and mouse game used to set prices.

Opposite Day

My six year old drives me crazy with Opposite Day. If this were just a once a year event like April Fool’s Day, I could deal with it. If it were just a day you wear your clothes backward or inside out, I would be amused. But at our house, Opposite Day strikes at inconvenient times at the whim of a Kindergartner. If she asked for strawberries on her cereal, she can change her mind by invoking Opposite Day and requesting removal of the strawberries you just cut up. If I get annoyed, she can say she hates me which I take as a compliment on Opposite Day. But that was not her intent at all. So the day turns ugly. Once I had Opposite Day confined to Mondays but that did not work when I discovered that Tuesday is the opposite of Monday, although I argued that Friday fit that definition better. My new defense is going to be construction of sentences like, “I am never going to not love you on Tuesdays that do not fall on the seventh day of October unless the sun is not out and the Seahawks are losing a game that is not being played in Kansas City.” That will teach that pipsqueak to mess with me.


I am reading The Misfit’s Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch but I am just reading it for a friend and not for me. Actually I am reading it for most of my friends and family members. By twisting credible facts and insights in legitimate books and fitting them into my own flawed philosophies, I think I can help all the people who enjoy hearing me pontificate about how screwed up they are and what actions they need to take. As a bonus, they can also avoid the expense and time involved in reading the actual books. Chapter 3 of The Misfit’s Manifesto explodes the myth that suffering makes you stronger. Consequently I have decided to stop suffering and recommend that strategy for everyone. Chapter 8 talks about bodies that do not fit. My own body has always been extremely awkward and uncoordinated and yet in my dreams I move with the fluidity and grace of a professional athlete or dancer. So I am going to dream more. And I suggest others follow my lead.


The February National Geographic examines the explosion of satellites, cameras, and phones that track everything on today’s planet. Even George Orwell’s house on Canonbury Square in Islington is within view of several closed circle television cameras. The disappointing loss of privacy has been tolerated by a public also interested in benefits like identifying the Boston Marathon bombers, preserving evidence with police body cameras, securing activity inside and outside of residences, and monitoring environmental threats. The younger generation will grow up more comfortable with the lack of privacy because it will not be a foreign technology to them. They live from birth in a society that already tracks our thoughts and impulses through our computers and phones. My six year old granddaughter was mystified by the unexplained movements around the house of our Elf on the Shelf. She recently positioned her older brother’s phone across from the Elf and it caught her mother on video moving the Elf. So in addition to Big Brother tracking our movements, our privacy is being compromised by Little Sister!