The Royal Debate

I have outgrown watching the finals of the Presidential Debates. By the time we get down to two candidates, I am always familiar enough with the contenders to know how I am voting. I used to tune in hoping my candidate did not make a major gaffe but rooting for the excitement of the other guy screwing up. Time was always precious but I did not realize how precious until recently. I no longer watch the Stanley Cup Finals. I just click on ESPN to get the highlights. And I can no longer even stomach the the highlights of Boxing title fights. I am still interested that Tampa Bay won hockey’s Stanley Cup but I just need the executive summary. Same with last night’s debate. The recaps and replays are everywhere anyway, so I did not miss anything important or more outrageous than normal. But these debates do not even settle championships like the title games in the sports world. I thought Barack Obama performed poorly in his first reelection debate with Mitt Romney but I am sure many Obama supporters thought he “won” because each side always claims victory. The Presidential debates may be great theater but so is Fiddler on the Roof. I have seen so many versions of Fiddler that I am not watching that musical ever again. Well, unless a grandchild is in it and then I will attend every production in the run. I think we need a fresh debate venue and format to provoke interest. I nominate the Queen of England and the English Prime Minister to engage in courtly discourse to determine which of those two families gets to seat the next King. Unlike Royal weddings and cage fights, I would at least watch highlights of that tussle.


Sure as Shingles

On Friday, I got a flu shot at Safeway because I think the grocery store is the best and safest place to undergo medical treatments. They tried to upsell me a tetanus shot, a shingles vaccination, and a vasectomy but I hate being pressured. So I assured them I was up to date on all three procedures. They correctly contradicted me because Safeway apparently has access to all my records through Facebook. I declined anyway just to see if I still could or if this is another freedom I lost along the way. I usually crave being around food but was relieved to exit the supermarket unimpeded, rip off my mask, and breathe in the still free air tinged with fog, smoke, and pollution for Northwest flavor. Now I am filled with remorse because the power of suggestion has me furiously scratching what I am sure is shingles. The harder I scratch, the redder my blotchy skin becomes. I can feel my jaw beginning to lock up. This is terrifying for a Talker so I was forced to schedule a dental check up with my full service auto mechanic. He is on a luxury vacation but referred me to his locksmith. She is certified by AAA (American Automobile Association) to perform all locking, wiring, and tetanus eradication operations. I sent her a map to my home and asked her to lock me in my room, wire it shut, and apply anti tetanus spray to outside surfaces. Somebody send me a text if it ever again becomes safe to be outside.

Age of Old

People who eat healthy meals and exercise regularly prefer dying at the slowest possible rate, so they eschew the daily enjoyment of sedentary relaxation and junk food. I reduced alcohol intake in favor of standing up fast which is a form of exercise that provides the same sensation as being drunk. But I can no longer get up too fast and struggle with standing up at any speed. Jonathan Swift said something to the effect that everyone desires to live long but no one wants to be old. Some people complain that wisdom that comes only with age would have been more handy in youth. I am not old enough to know better nor has my old age wisdom kicked in, so I am excited not to be old yet. Although I would like to be wise enough to understand this riddle that violates the law of dichotomy: (1) Only people older than me can be considered old and (2) Yet I see so many old people who are younger than me. Item one is both good and bad because it means I can never reach old age. Item two is confusing because the old people born before me cannot all be lying about their age. My preoccupation with aging feels entirely normal considering the sheer volume of age quips. Greeting cards are obsessed with the subject. Robert Brault said, “I complain that the years fly past but then I look in the mirror and see that very few of them actually got past.” How can you not love that humor? Remember laughing is a healthy exercise that requires minimal exertion.

Bozone Layer

My friend Tom forwarded me some winning submissions from a New York Times contest seeking alternate meanings for common words. Sixteen winners included coffee (the person upon whom one coughs), lymph (to walk with a lisp), and testicle (a humorous question in an exam). Another category attracted ten winning words where you add, subtract, or change one letter in a word to create a new word. For example, the “bozone” layer is defined as the substance surrounding stupid people that prevents bright ideas from penetrating. This contest did not have a category for the merging of two words by changing more than one letter but my eight year old granddaughter came up with a potential winner. She was recently describing an event from more than two years ago when a person we will not identify approached a group on the playground and asked, “Where is the ball?” The bewildered questioner was holding the ball. This greatly amused the crowd. My granddaughter still laughs about the incident and now characterizes it as “hysterrible.” She knows the word “hysterical” and could have stumbled on the hybrid “hysterrible” by talking fast. But I am going to give her credit for creating a wonderful new addition to the language. Bozone layers often provoke reactions both hysterical and terrible. And such hysterrible examples can be found aplenty on any all day television news show.


I do not care what food my wife eats unless said consumption results in me driving to a drugstore in the middle of the night to buy antacids. I believe in her right to watch political news shows all day long but object when they make her mad and depressed enough to negatively affect my life. My neighbor’s right to swing his fist ends only where my nose begins. That particular principle always appealed to me because it seemed a generous acknowledgment of the freedoms of others with limited exceptions required for the existence of civilization. My wife has a less wordy description of my philosophy: selfish. We have known each other for about 55 years and have still not melded our own personal belief structures into complete harmony. Although our lively debates continue, we try not to let the theoretical overpower the practical. So, for the record, I did go to Walmart in the middle of a Thursday Night football game to buy her some Tums. She wondered what took me so long. Well, I did have to pick up some important stuff for me like 4×6 index cards, contact solution, and baby shampoo. I never outgrew baby shampoo because it seemed like the safest option for pampering my scalp. Unfortunately, it seems to be causing my hair to fall out. I think warnings should be on the container and I should be entitled to some form of compensation. When I complain about this, my wife just pops another Tums.


People continue to debate the merits of marrying someone of the same race, religion, age, gender, and political party. Are arranged marriages outdated or not? But I never hear anyone mention the importance of handwriting. If you cannot read each other’s handwriting or short hand, this can add incredible tension to a marriage. My wife leaves cryptic notes on the calendar. I ask what does “6pm dinner” mean. She does not remember. I hope we are not hosting a dinner party. At least we know when people will be showing up, so we can leave the house at 5:30pm. Maybe drop in on friends and see if they are expecting us for dinner. I can usually decipher my wife’s handwriting. But if you saw “sand bags” on the refrigerator list, would you come home with sandbags or sandwich bags? Well, you may be smarter than me, but my brain is not trapped in the box. I choose sandbags and she thinks I am the idiot. The plain language seems clear and unequivocal. I see no period after “sand.” Her defense: “Why would we need sandbags?” How about to staunch the flow of water through her hillside garden? Okay, stanch the flow but that is beside the point. The “why would we need” standard is faulty. Why would we need Stevia Extract Liquid or Strawberry Cocktail Caviar? I have no idea. We could debate whether she actually left a legitimate space between “sand” and “bag” but I need to go work on making a sandbox for the grandchildren.

School Bus

At 7:05 on Monday morning, my wife and I watched our 16 year old grandson board a school bus for the first time since March. He is entering a hybrid program for special needs students who are returning to the classroom twice a week while continuing virtual learning from home on the other days. We have had many exciting moments in the last eight school years, like slipping and sliding up and down our hill to meet buses unable to navigate the ice and snow on our side street. But this was the first time he and the bus driver were both wearing masks. I prayed his paperwork was in order and that he would be admitted to class. Every year the process of getting medical forms, signatures, and epipens approved seems more arduous than his mother’s exodus from Poland via Germany on the way to Boise, Idaho. Different entities in the same school system need duplicates of information they already have on file. He apparently has some special rights that entitle him and eligible classmates to return to a classroom before other students. I assume smaller class sizes for his program make it easier to social distance. But as the world grinds cynicism deeper and deeper into my being, I cannot help but wonder if he and his classmates are considered more worthy of being exposed to first risk before other students. But everything is a risk. Sebastian’s hybrid program acknowledges this or he would be returning five days a week. I missed a month of second grade, hospitalized a week for complications from the Mumps. Sometimes you get lucky and survive the risks.


After he reportedly denigrated the memory of fallen soldiers, Donald Trump said, “Only an animal would say things like that.” By isolating that one quote, I could leap to three conclusions: (1) he is not denying his comments, (2) he is insulting animals, and (3) he is identifying himself as an animal. Items (1) and (3) are a stretch but consistent with current standards of political discourse. However, the item 2 damning of animals is too much to bear. Bad enough that deer are rightly charged with stealing food from our gardens. Raccoons justify their thefts by just eating our garbage (although they never clean up after themselves). Bad dogs chew our socks, shoes, and furniture. But they have never uttered unkind words about soldiers. Since animals do not speak, I assume The Donald was actually referring to humans that he considers animals. He is no longer taking my calls, so I hope Bob Woodward will explore Trump’s theories about subhumans in his next interview. Prolific satire and political cartoons are circulating at warp speed. I cringe when I see some of it. I read an open letter from blue states to red states that stoops low enough to make me resist being characterized as either a blue or red stater. I need another choice. However, my own biases show when I instinctively laugh at the one liner: “Ideally speaking, the President of the United States and the stupidest person in the country would be two different people.” The beauty is that it can always be recycled by whichever political party is out of power, so eventually everyone can find it funny.


A Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) is a business that raises money from investors to buy into other companies. It has no real business of its own. Founders do not have to appear on Shark Tank to pitch some product they invented in their basement. Entrepreneurs can ask for the money first and then go find products and companies to buy. You can become instant sharks. The catch would seem to be: How are you going to get people to give you the money? But the blank check concept seems to be working. Bloomberg Business Magazine reports that “40% of 2020’s IPOs [Initial Public Offerings] by volume have been SPACs, raising $31.6 billion.” I need to get in on this booming bandwagon. I wasted too much time promoting my business franchises like Mole Farms, U-Pick Weeds, and Idiots Anonymous. Just give me the money upfront and I will find better ideas. Businesses will come out of the woodwork with products better than mine to invest in. The best part is I am not a scammer but a legitimately safe steward for your money. IQ Matrix claims you need 76 Indispensable Qualities for success. I am brilliant (boiling the 76 down to three), disciplined (a daily jogger and blogger), and sincere (I honestly want to be famous and wealthy). I am younger than both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And healthier than both of them. Donald owns three mini strokes, Joe has dabbled with one or two, but I only take mini golf strokes. The one red flag on my health is a recent relapse in narcissism which I am controlling with mirrors. So if you want to stop living in Biden’s America inside Trump’s head, send me investment seed money but not through the United States Postal Service.

Heard Immunity

A large proportion of the population has developed a heard immunity to truth. They have absolutely no risk of being infected with facts they have heard from sources that tell them something they do not want to hear, no matter how compelling the evidence. To fill the vacuum and satisfy their cravings, they will adopt as true what they would like to believe. I know how that works because I do it all the time. I believe in St. Nicholas because I want him to be real. People believe global warming is a hoax because the alternative is so very depressing. If climate change is real and escalating, we are likely past a tipping point and headed for disaster. And even if fixes are available, they are so very painful to implement in terms of time, sacrifice, and resources. People want to believe the Coronavirus is a hoax. Why would anyone want to get sick, die, lose their job, and have schools close? Nothing good comes from Covid-19 being a real threat or hearing that vaccines are unsafe unless we wait a long time for them. So, of course, people search for and cling to evidence of overblown threats in the past like hurricanes that were overhyped, freezing weather that belies global warming, and erroneous predictions that Y2K was going paralyze computers when the year 2000 arrived. Prophets have been preaching the end of the world at times specific for centuries. It would be more shocking if everyone embraced the disaster scenarios. After all, we have been taught to laugh at Henny Penny and Chicken Little for centuries despite scientific evidence that the sky is actually falling.