…To use a pseudonym when Blogging? Last week my youngest son Matt had a Zoom job interview with several members of a law firm. The ranking questioner came on camera while reading my Blog and observed that quite a few people were commenting on it. Matt usually claims I am his uncle but lying to interviewers is considered bad form. So I need to clarify for Blog readers and potential employers that Matt would be a brilliant addition to (read only the one that applies):
(1) any law firm, especially since his father’s Blog followers are constantly in need of legal help and are very wealthy;
(2) any day care facility, since he is a loving father figure to a daughter and two step children and knows how to get out of the way and let their mother be in charge;
(3) any elder care facility, since he lived at home before he got married and convinced his dates that he was caring for his elderly parents;
(4) any job in theater or philosophy, since he majored in the former at Tulane and in the latter at Seattle Pacific University;
(5) any ski resort, since he is an expert skier and would rather be on the slopes than practicing law or babysitting children or parents;
(6) any video game company, since he would be willing to work 15 hour days and ski on weekends.
Anonymous made some provocative quotes during her lifetime. One of my favorites is the one about hell being the end of your life when the person you could have become meets the person you became. Motivational speakers use this concept to scare people into self improvement. But this concept works in reverse for me. I tend to envision the person I could have become as one all alone, hungry, addicted, and in jail but for the love of others.
My ex-sister-in-law Colleen was divorced from my now deceased brother so I am assuming “ex” is a proper designation since my outdated Emily Post etiquette book is no longer a reliable source. Colleen said praying made her feel like she was doing something positive and concrete to help in a situation where she was otherwise powerless. In some arguments, adversaries have told me, “We are all worried about you. I will be praying for you.” To me, the “we” was some unverified consensus designed to bolster my opponent’s argument. And the offer of prayers seemed like an insincere debate tactic to claim the high road and undermine my position. Yet I feel uncomfortable ever rejecting prayers. I suspect my Mother prayed for me more than I ever knew. Or maybe not. I would be flattered either way. Cardinal Bernardin taught me to pray when you are healthy. He wrote that he found it difficult to maintain his prayer regimen when he was fighting pancreatic cancer and could not always focus normally. When I began dealing with grown up issues in my life, I realized I had to abandon praying for the trivial like a World Series championship for the Seattle Mariners. The redirection of my prayers has led to a 45 year drought for the Mariners. [Spoiler Alert: I tried to make up for it in the book Suicide Squeeze.] Sometimes I backslide and instinctively pray to avoid the Queen of Spades during an important hand in a Hearts tournament. But holier people than me must inhabit the Table because they take great delight in teaching me a spiritual lesson by dumping that deadly card on me.
In Chapter 2 of Landscapes, Ballad of a Franciscan Troubadour, Larry Gosselin writes lovingly about his boyhood home in Sumner, Washington. But he does mention its location in the Seattle/Tacoma beltway that he claims is ranked number one gloomiest large metropolitan area in the United States. He provides no citation so I was forced to do my own research. According to Joe Roberts on the move.org site (12/7/2020), Anchorage, Portland, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are all gloomier than Seattle based on annual cloud cover. Other lists may include factors like culture and precipitation but I am in a bit of a funk and too lazy to search further when I can make up funnier stuff. Besides, “data” is often contaminated with subjectivity. For example, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Nashville, and Phoenix have been the gloomiest cities this week as their football teams were just bounced from the NFL playoffs. But the move.org list says Phoenix is the least gloomy big city. Results vary by individual. Some people care not one bit about football. They may be gloomy because Bachelor Clayton took back Cassidy’s rose. I think the gloomiest place is my garage where our only bicycle is broken, my collection of tiles blown off my roof is growing, and all three hand saws are rusted beyond usefulness. I am definitely not buying another rusted one no matter how cheap the price. Even the mice are too lethargic to migrate from the garage to the house. I named the big one Gloomy Glen because I am alliteratively more creative than the Happy Houligan comic strip creator who introduced Gloomy Gus in 1900. The popularity of the name Gus then shifted from humans to fictional characters and animals.
Weather delays and labor disputes meant we went four weeks without recycle and yard waste collection, starting December 23rd. Garbage was picked up once and my wife dropped off some of the other overflow at the waste management site. Most neighbors let the excess accumulate and optimists left the bins and extra bags and boxes out round the clock, even though the company website and television news reported that nothing would be picked up. Managing three bins has been a constant frustration. Years ago, I converted the kitchen into a mini garbage dump by lining up three containers with the labels: Garbage, Recycle, Food Scraps/Compost. I hoped to eliminate confusion, laziness, and mis-filing of waste which I thought might be caused by a garbage can under the sink, a recycle bin in the garage, and the yard waste bin outside. We no longer have seven full-time family residents, probably because a Waste Management Enforcer (me) runs a kitchen dump. Yet any sorting continues to be random. My 18 year old grandson is a special needs student who is so smart he operates the television remote control for clueless me. Still he does not grasp that a plastic container cannot be recycled with food caked all over it. My youngest son visits often but cannot recognize that a big bag of McDonalds waste contains three separate types of disposables. So I resort to a re-sort when dumping the kitchen containers into the bigger bins. This allows me to recover perfectly good food. If the family wants me to stop eating out of the garbage, they need to start sorting properly. This type of threat used to work but apparently everyone has made peace with my descent into inappropriate eccentricity.
I recently signed up for Ancestry 24, the next generation DNA test where you send your money to a laboratory for analysis. My first money tested ambiguously, so I sent more dollars for the premium AND test which reverse engineers the process. I passed with flying colors. It turns out that I am not related to anyone in my family. In fact, I am not related to myself. The Ancestry 24 people think I am some kind of god. This is obviously not possible because I have been cursing people since the 1950’s and not one of those curses has come to fruition. Of curse, I have lost contact with some of those people because of all the restraining orders. So I cannot account for every spell I tried to cast. I call them misspellings. Although in this age of political correctness, I should probably address them as misterspellings or msspellings. Ancestry 25 release is scheduled for the Spring and will hopefully shed light on my current gender, verify my credit score, and determine if I am dead or alive.
I watched Kahlil Pimpleton, a Central Michigan University wide receiver, give an upbeat postgame interview after he played a key role in a football victory. The interviewer referenced his relatively short height (5’9″) in a sport with giants. Kahlil responded, “Heart over height.” My acclaimed research team is very thorough. They discovered that Heart Over Height is the title of a book written by Nate Robinson, a 5’9″ former NBA basketball player from Seattle. My fact checkers also noted that Marcel Proust was only 5’6′” when he wrote In Search of Lost Time. He was casual about punctuation and one sentence in that work ran longer than any two of my posts mashed together. You can imagine what Phil Huston would say about that wall of text. But I will tell you anyway: “Stamper, you ain’t no Proust.” Which is no insult to an unsophisticated bloke like me who cannot read French even when written in English. In my youth, I was six feet tall. All these short people make me feel guilty that I never reached my full potential with the height advantage I had. This post wandered away from Kahlil Pimpleton but it was a well punctuated search for lost time that you will never get back. I am gambling that the Pimpleton Title is better click bait than Nate Robinson or Marcel Proust.
When I tried to replace the cracked windshield on my wife’s Toyota Rav4, I expected high prices. But I was shocked when I contacted the auto glass business that installed the current one in 2017. They told me they could not get one. What if my windshield completely shatters like the back window did on my son’s car a decade ago? Well, I could check back in a couple of weeks. Welcome, Geoff, to the Pandemic Era everyone else has been living in the past two years. I keep myself insulated from all the background noise of supply chain issues, staffing shortage closures, and Covid-19 related delays. My wife removed me from grocery shopping duty over a decade ago when I came home with ten off brand jars of barbecue sauce I found for a buck apiece in the close out bin. Or maybe it was a garbage bin. She left town this week and I was forced to wander into a grocery store to replenish perishables. Why is there no organic skim milk in the store when I used to find competing brands? Why has management strategically placed a few 24 packs of bottled water to disguise an entire half aisle of shelving is empty? Wow, the fruit sure got expensive over the years. I feel like the first President Bush returning to private life after 12 years as Vice President and President of the United States. He was out of touch with carrying cash, pumping gas, and dealing with supermarket barcodes. I am one of those people famous for not appreciating the complaints of others until I become the victim of a similar inconvenience or disaster. Then I become a world class whiner!
Over the years, I have watched dramatic videos of houses sliding off cliffs in California and in various neighborhoods around Puget Sound. But I thought of Mudslides mostly as drinks with Irish cream, vodka, chocolate liqueur, chocolate syrup. When my wife and I go walking in other neighborhoods, we often point out vulnerable homes and smugly shake our heads in disbelief, wondering why people build or buy homes so close to a bluff when Mother Nature has taught us so much about erosion. Actually we know why. We ourselves live on a steep hill because we love the view. Our neighborhood was developed about sixty years ago and I am not aware of any history of slides. We had a triple murder in 1994 but no home slides. Until last Monday when a neighbor on the other side of our hill had his home collapse after an eight inch water main broke. Gushing water sent mud cascading down the hill. The house was on my regular run/walk route. So I turned into Looky Lou and ran through the mud, knowing the policeman could not leave his post rerouting cars and start chasing an old man. Nothing good could come of that. I know all the back trails in the woods. I could live off the land for weeks. Okay, I wandered off point and could not get close enough to see the most impacted home until the next day. Seven houses were red tagged and the residents evacuated. The older couple in the collapsed home seem apparently lost everything. I now have another reason to avoid downsizing and purging our hoard. A mudslide might do it for us. But I also discovered one more thing I get to worry about.
My wife now has a Tile that allows her phone to beep her keys. And her keys can beep her phone. What a genius reciprocal feature. Except she can outfox any failsafe system. She is capable of losing her phone and keys at the same time. Sometimes they are not even in the same place. We plan to put our television in charge of beeping the remote because we cannot easily misplace the television set. The universal remote connects us to the universe. I want to order car keys that beep when we pull into the driveway and keep sounding off until deposited in the key drawer. Just like the technology for seat belts which beep until buckled. Since we pay tens of thousands of dollars for these vehicles, they should come with five sets of keys. But I think we are actually headed for keyless systems. One unnerving technology anomaly I have noticed: If my wife is on her cellphone in the house when I turn on the car in the garage, bluetooth will transfer her conversation onto the car speaker. It will remain with me while I turn around in the driveway and until I am several houses away. Same thing happens when I return. I am waiting to catch her complaining about me to her sister but they never talk about me. Apparently I am not the center of their universe.