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Tribute To A Dead Celebrity Supreme Court Judge

Is this Ruth Bader Ginsberg, or is this RBG? (image via wikimedia)

A famous Supreme Court Judge died a few days ago, and I normally wouldn’t care, but I live with a political junkie who is trying very hard to reform.   Unfortunately, this celebrity Supreme Court Judge’s death has added a bunch of fuel to political fires, and this country’s political/cultural climate could get uglier because of it.

I’m calling this judge a celebrity because I’ve seen a bunch of media stuff celebrating her recently.  Before her death, she had been celebrated way more than any other Supreme Court Judge that I’ve ever seen.  Her fans don’t even use her real name.  They referred to this Supreme Court Judge by her three initials.

If I ever have to appear in court again, I hope my judge doesn’t refer to himself or herself by his/her initials.  It seems a bit informal for a judge.  I’d rather have a judge who stands proudly behind his/her several middle multisyllabic names.  It’s tough to take an abbreviated judge seriously, but I wouldn’t say that to the abbreviated judge’s face.

Usually, when a celebrity dies, people feel sad, but since this celebrity Supreme Court Judge is also viewed as a political figure, everybody went straight to anger.  People got mad at her for dying at this moment in future history.  People got mad at her for not retiring early.  People got mad at politicians for their plans now that she’s dead.  Some people are mad at others for getting mad.

And then you have some who are always mad so her death didn’t really matter.

The family of the dead celebrity Supreme Court Judge must feel weird.  They have to be aware of all the enraged political arguing over their family member’s death.  Nobody even pretended to grieve for this dead judge.  Everybody went straight to anger and political maneuvering.

There’s nothing new about instant political maneuvering, but that should be left to the politicians.  Everybody knows that politicians are despicable.  Now you have normal people acting political.  I don’t want to see normal people acting political.  It makes normal people just as unlikeable as the politicians, and I don’t want to be around them.

Even though I’ve been emotionally connected to politicians before (and that was a mistake), I’ve never gotten angry (or cried) when any of them passed.  I’ve never even watched a political funeral.  Now celebrity politicians get multi-day funerals.  I’m trying to get to the point where I don’t care what politicians do, either way.  I want to be aware but not care.

Even this tribute doesn’t seem right.  I’ve written the occasional vague celebrity tribute, but I’ve never written a tribute to any deceased relatives.  Several of my deceased relatives deserve a tribute.  Maybe all of them do.  Maybe instead of writing a tribute to a dead celebrity Supreme Court Judge whom I’ve never met, I should write a tribute to relatives who have had an impact on my life.

Maybe I’ll do that.   Maybe I’ll write a tribute to some dead relatives.  I have a small list to choose from, and I hope it stays that way.  I’m hoping that particular list remains static for a very long time.

I don’t think I’ve ever even met a famous politician.  My wife worked for a famous politician before that politician became famous.  My wife couldn’t stand that famous politician on a personal level but believed that the politician was effective.  When it comes to politics, I guess effectiveness justifies horrible interpersonal behavior.  That’s why I don’t like politics.

That politician for whom my wife worked is still alive and still in office.  When she dies (and I hope it’s not for a long time), I probably won’t write a tribute to her.

*****

What do you think?  Do you care that the celebrity Supreme Court Judge died?  If you care, is it because you value her life or because it might change the political landscape?

Lame Nonfiction Books Nominated for 2020 National Book Awards

Oprah has promoted this book, so it’s probably a scam.

People complain about how bad 2020 has been, and book publishing this year might be a part of that.  Books published in 2020 have been so lame that I’ve stopped reviewing them.

Even so, 2020 needs book awards, no matter how lame this year’s crop has been.  So here is the list of nonfiction books up for the 2020 National Book Award (complete list can be found at Here Are The 50 Books Nominated for 2020 National Book Awards ):

  • Is Rape a Crime?: A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto by Michelle Bowdler  (Is rape a crime?  Yes…  This should have been a very short book.)
  • The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. (This book should have been called Some Undocumented Americans because the book probably doesn’t talk about every single undocumented American.)
  •  If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future by Jill Lepore. (This book title is nonsense.  The future was invented way before Simulmatics came around)
  • The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne (First of all, Les Payne is a fake name.  Second of all, just read The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Nobody knew more about Malcolm X than Malcolm X)
  • Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory by Claudio Saunt (At least the title used the word Republic instead of Democracy, but then the publishers used the word Indian.  Aaaarrrgh!  Sensitivity readers, where were you?)
  • My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland (Haha! The author doesn’t understand what an autobiography is)
  • Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathon C. Slaght (If the world’s largest owl wanted to be found, it would let you know.  LEAVE THE OWL ALONE!!)
  • How to Make a Slave and Other Essays by Jerald Walker (In today’s tense political climate, teaching people how to make a slave is a really bad idea.)
  • Afropessimism by Frank B. Wilderson (Aw, quit being pessimistic!  At least you got a book deal and an award nomination.)
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (The caste system the author refers to doesn’t seem to apply to the publishing business.)

As you can tell, 2020 was a lame year of carelessness in the publishing industry.  And these are the books that are up for awards!  Just think how lame the books NOT nominated are.  I should know; I tried to read a few of them.

*****

What do you think? Have you read any of these books nominated for the 2020 National Book Award?   Have mainstream nonfiction books always been this lame, or am I just now noticing it?

Childhood Ghost Story: Lying By Omission

(image via wikimedia)

According to conventional wisdom, what should you do when you have a ghost in your house?

Leave.

Second question: When you sell the house, should you tell potential homebuyers about the ghost?

Of course not!  You don’t want to hurt your property value.

That’s probably bad advice.  I don’t mind moving when you have a ghost in your house, but I think you need to confess about the ghost.  To me, omitting important details is just as bad as bad as lying because you’re still not speaking truth and you usually have bad intentions when you omit crucial information.

Getting back to the ghost, I admit that my ghost story is different from other ghost stories.  Most ghost stories are about living humans trying to figure out the ghost, or defeat the ghost, or help the ghost find its true path.  I didn’t do any of that.  I just left the ghost.

Yeah, sometimes my stories are anti-climactic.  That’s how life is most of the time.

At any rate, we had lived in our house for almost three years (you can get more details at Childhood Ghost Story- The Prologue ), and it was time to move.  My dad was finished with his job in the rural town (I might go into more details about that job another time), and we already knew who was going to move into our house.  We had rented/leased the house, so we weren’t going to profit from the sale.  I wonder now if the owner had known about the ghost and had never told anyone.

The only other thing I remember was that a kid five years younger than me would take my bedroom.  I think his name was Timmy, but I’m not sure.  Timmy seems like such a generic name for a kid that I think my mind has to be making that up.  I know that the brain fills in gaps with details and that the details can be wrong, so Timmy’s name could have been Fred and I’d never know.

I’ll never know what Timmy’s real name was.  I’m okay with that, not that I have a choice about it.

My dad didn’t like Timmy, and I thought it was funny that Timmy was about to be terrified by a ghost, and my dad would have thought it was funny too, but I couldn’t share the joke with him.

Even if we’d liked Timmy, there was no way I could have warned him about the ghost anyway.  If I’d done that, all the parents would have thought I was just scaring him.  One time I imagined that night the ghost would make its first appearance in Timmy’s bedroom.  I laughed out loud over Timmy’s possible reactions.  I think I was by myself when I laughed about it.  If you’re laughing at something you can’t share, it’s better to be by yourself.  So I stayed silent.

Nowadays, they say silence is compliance.  Back then, silence was a survival skill.  When you’re taught that certain behaviors are survival skills, it’s tough to reprogram.

Anyway, my parents weren’t involved with this lie by omission because I had never told them about the ghost in the first place.  If a future family ever found out that small house was possessed, it wasn’t my parents’ fault; it was mine.

Maybe I was selfish for not telling anybody about the ghost.   I didn’t want any backlash from my parents.  That’s not the worst reason for omitting information, but it’s still selfish, maybe.

I never said goodbye to the ghost.  First of all, I didn’t know which appearance would be the last one for me because he showed up maybe once every couple months.  I kind of wanted to tell the ghost to scare the crap out of Timmy for fun, but I didn’t do it.  I didn’t want the ghost to then scare the crap out of me for having bad intentions.

I still don’t know how ghost stuff works.  Up to that point, the ghost had been benign (unless it was a pervert ghost who liked staring at boys), and it was still in my best interest to keep it that way.

The ghost wasn’t that big of a deal because the move itself was much more important.  I was leaving friends behind.  Back then, I actually had a lot of friends (and had no idea that was about to change).

And my hound dog was far important than the ghost.  We had to leave my hound dog with a neighbor that the dog trusted because the hound would have been miserable in our new town.  The hound dog was used to roaming freely through the rural community and the surrounding forests, and there was no way to keep her locked up in a house with a small suburban yard.  She’d dig her way out or howl all day.

Plus, she got car sick, and it was going to be a two-day drive to our new location.  That might have been the real reason my parents wanted to leave her.  If so, I don’t blame them.  Nobody likes dog vomit in the car.

Leaving that dog was emotionally brutal.  I had been the first person she trusted when she’d been a stray, and she’d been with me during a couple tough times that I barely mentioned in the story.  Like I’ve said, there was other stuff going on that was more important than the ghost.

But the ghost was unusual.  Not everybody can say they had a ghost in their house.  The other stuff that I went through was bad but not that unusual in the 1970s.

I remember saying goodbye to the hound dog and petting her one last time .  She chased our car down the highway as we drove away.  That doesn’t mean she knew we weren’t coming back.  For three years she’d always chased us down the highway, and we’d kind of laughed because we knew we’d be back in a few hours.

It was always cool to see that dog sprint along the highway shoulder.  I think I smiled a little bit through tears as I watched her fade away for the last time as we drove off.  I didn’t laugh, though.

I hope our old neighbors took good care of that hound dog.  And I hope Timmy (if that was his name) wasn’t too scared by the ghost.  Looking back, I think I should have warned him.

The World Makes Sense (in three simple steps)!

This scene looks chaotic, but it kind of makes sense.  You might, however, want to stay out of situations like this. (image via wikimedia)

I’ll keep this short.  Otherwise, I’ll end up rambling and sounding like a mad man.

A lot of people think the world is crazy right now, but I think the world has always been crazy.  If that weren’t true, there would be no reason to follow history.  Crazy is what makes history interesting, but most people don’t really want to live through crazy interesting times.

Unfortunately, when I thought the world was crazy, I was anxious, frantic, maybe even borderline depressed.  Whatever you go through when you think the world is crazy, it’s probably not good.

So here it is.  The world is not crazy.  The world makes sense to me now.  I feel pretty good about things.  I was going to keep quiet about my realizations, but maybe, just maybe, if this makes sense to me, it can make sense to others.

Here are three realizations that have made life much easier for me.  And if I sound like a mad man, at least it’s on my own blog.

1.  Every institution is corrupt.

God is great (say it with me, everybody!), but religious institutions are corrupt.  If they weren’t, why would they hoard money (and sometimes hide pedophiles)?

Military defense is important and noble, but the military as an institution is corrupt.  The Civil Rights movement has a lot of important ideas, but the organizations and their current leaders are corrupt.  Education is important, but the system is corrupt and teaches weird stuff.  The list goes on indefinitely.

Now that I see everything big as (probably) corrupt, the world makes sense.  It’s the institution and (maybe) the people in charge who are corrupt.  Most non-powerful people working for the institutions are probably decent people, and it’s possible to work in these systems and do some good.

I worked in one of these systems for 30 years and did some good, but I saw some corruption as well (that’s for another blog post).

2.  All famous public figures are con artists who scam normal people.

This is especially true for politicians.  Donald Trump is a scam artist (and probably always has been).  Barack Obama is a scam artist (but maybe didn’t start off that way).  Joe Biden WAS a scam artist (but probably doesn’t even know what he’s doing now).  The organizations that are pretending that Joe Biden is mentally fit are all proving they’re corrupt (as if we needed more proof).

The 2020 election intensity probably isn’t going away after the ballots are counted because each side has supporters that think their candidates are honest/sincere and that their opponents are evil/stupid/racist.  Those supporters have fallen for the scams.

That’s important because whoever loses will be really angry, and whoever wins will be angry at the loser for being mad.  I won’t be mad, no matter who wins or loses.  I have a plan if one side wins, and I have a slightly different plan if another side wins, but I’m not emotionally attached to either side.

My wife thinks I’m cynical.  I think it’s a relief.  Everything around me makes sense when I see con artists deceiving normal people.

I’m not even angry at the scam artists, whether they’re celebrities or political figures.  They see it as my responsibility to see through their deceits, and I kind of agree with them.  We normal people have to agree to the scams in order for them to work.

When enough normal people recognize the politics (and other stuff) as money-making schemes, the normal people won’t act as crazy… unless the normal people decide they want vengeance against the con artists.  Vengeance-seeking can cause huge problems.  Just so you know, I’m not into vengeance.

3.  We can’t save the world.

I know people are taught that they should want to make a difference in the world.  Unfortunately, that kind of well-intentioned narcissism leads to anger, bitterness, and frustration when our efforts don’t mean much.

Instead, I focus on my family, friends, and neighbors.  When stuff hits the fan, anonymous people with similar political views won’t watch my back.  It’s my family, neighbors, and true friends (who don’t care if I’m an amateur conspiracy theorist) who will look out for me (and vice-versa).

Life has become easier and much more relaxing since I’ve come to these realizations.

I’m not trying to convince anybody else to agree with me.  I’m just thinking out loud and working through ideas.  Plus, I had to see it for myself.  And once I saw it, I thought, “Oh, now I get it.  Now it all makes sense.  Well, most of it makes sense.”

I’m telling you, man!  You gotta believe me!!!

I hope I don’t sound like a madman.

*****

What do you think?  Which of the three statements/steps do you agree (or disagree) with the most?  Which one needs the most clarification?  Most importantly… AM I CRAZY?????

My Daughter Said She Might Not Go To College

(image via wikimedia)

A couple days ago my daughter proclaimed that she might not go to college next year.

This would be a big switch of plans. My daughter is starting her senior year of high school next week, and for the last couple years, she has been making lists of colleges she might want to attend.  We’ve toured the campuses of of a bunch of universities within 500 miles of our home.  She’s been writing essays and taking practice College Board tests.  She’s been stressed.

But now she’s mad at college.

My daughter has been watching YouTube videos of current freshmen students being quarantined on major college campuses, and her favorite is a YouTuber going to New York University.  My daughter knows that we can’t afford NYU, even with financial aid, but she’s still fascinated with the university.

From my point of view, NYU is also too far away, and it’s New York City (which is a huge negative), but almost every high school student loves New York City.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), New York isn’t even New York anymore.  A bunch of businesses have shut down.  A lot of people with money have moved out.  Crime is skyrocketing.  Even if my daughter wanted to go, I wouldn’t send her there.  Not even if it was free.  Not even if they paid me.

To make things worse, college isn’t even college right now.  Students are quarantined.  Classes are online or limited.  Social contact is very limited.  Everybody is walking with a face covering  outside, outside even with social distancing.

I’m glad my daughter has come to this conclusion on her own.  I’ve kept my mouth shut about this while watching the COVID-19 stuff over the last few months.  I haven’t kept my mouth shut about much, but I have for this.

I’m not a big believer in the college system right now.  Yes, I graduated college, and so did my wife.  I went into the field my degree prepared me for.  My wife did not.  I accumulated a little bit of debt that I paid off within a few years.  My wife accumulated a lot of debt that we paid off after we got married.

I don’t want my daughter accumulating a lot of debt.  We’ll help her out, but she’s going to do a lot on her own.  It’s not a bad situation.  If we were capable of paying her way completely, my daughter would be less careful about her decision.  I like that she has some financial stake in her college decision.

At any rate, the College Board has ticked her off with the way they handled Advanced Placement exams last spring and the way they keep changing standardized test dates.  She thinks that since grocery stores can figure out how to distribute food without spreading COVID-19, College Board should figure out how to do tests.

(She might have gotten that previous thought from me, but that’s okay because I agree with it.)

Plus, if she can’t have the full college experience, my daughter doesn’t want to pay the full college price.  She might not even want to go.

My daughter has other options.  I don’t mind if she stays home and works and saves money.  She could take online classes part-time and still work.  She could work while getting certified in something like real estate or insurance.

I’m not saying those are all great options for her, but they’re options.

Even if college goes back to normal next year, she still might consider these other options.  She doesn’t miss taking classes all day long.  She likes working (she’s been working two part-time jobs during the pandemic).

The scam tendencies of the university system aren’t going to go away with COVID-19 fears.  I’m glad that my daughter recognizes the scam-like tendencies of college, the piling on of debt, the unnecessary rules and expenses.  I didn’t even have to tell her.

I know my daughter isn’t the only potential future college student who recognizes this.  If the university system doesn’t get its act together, it might find itself short on students.

At least, it might not get my daughter.

Awkward Moments in Dating: I Met My Wife and Didn’t Know It

Neither of them look like us. (image via wikimedia)

I met my wife in a bookstore in late November of 1994.  It was a Saturday night, I was in my late 20s, and I was supposed to meet a woman I had talked to a couple times on the phone.

This might sound weird, but before online dating, singles could meet through personal ads in the newspaper.  Some of these personals were more like prostitution solicitations, so I stayed away from those, but the city I lived in had a weekly newspaper for professionals, and its personals were legitimate.

I had heard about these personals through a woman I had dated for a short time.  After this particular woman found out I was a cheapskate, she ended things quickly, so  I wrote an ad about myself, and a few women responded (I might write about them another time).

Since the women contacting me weren’t working out, I responded to an ad written by a woman who claimed to be “attractive.”  I don’t remember exactly what else it said anymore, but the personal was very well-written, and I thought a self-proclaimed attractive woman who could write well couldn’t be too bad for a date.

Oddly enough, our phone call wasn’t the awkward part.  Her name was Heather, and we had an easy, pleasant conversation, so we agreed to meet at a bookstore.  Back in 1994, there were a lot of bookstores, so we decided on a local bookstore in the semi-artsy part of the city.

While I was waiting at the periodical stand by the bookstore entrance, I noticed an attractive dark-haired woman flipping through a magazine.  She kind of met the description Heather had given me (dark-haired, attractive), but Heather had said she’d be wearing a black jacket, and this woman was wearing a red sweater.

I couldn’t just talk to this woman.  If she wasn’t Heather and Heather walked in while I was talking to this other woman, it wouldn’t be a good start.  So I kept my mouth shut and waited for a black jacket.

After a few minutes the woman in the red sweater wandered off, but I hung around the magazine stand for another fifteen minutes.  I was pretty sure I was being stood up when the woman in the red sweater returned.

We made brief eye contact, and I smiled because I thought maybe she was Heather after all, but she looked down, and I thought, that’s not Heather, so I hightailed it out of the bookstore.  The woman probably believed I was some creepy guy with a leer, I thought.

Not ready to return home, I wandered into the neighboring music shop (this was back when people still bought CDs in stores). I browsed through the new releases and found myself in the reggae/ska section.  When I looked up, I saw the dark-haired woman gazing at me from across the bin.  Then she turned and strolled to the R&B section.  I thought maybe I should talk to her, but I had no idea what I’d say.

Since there were no new ska releases, I decided I’d at least buy a book and I returned to the bookstore.  After a few minutes, I picked out the new Tom Clancy novel (I was in my 20s, okay?) and found myself standing in line next to the dark-haired woman, holding a Toni Morrison novel.  I glanced at how she looked in her jeans, and of course, that’s when she noticed me.

I had to talk to her.  This was the third time running into her.  We were in a line.  There was no escape in a line.  It was talk or be shamed.

“I promise I’m not stalking you,” I said.

“You don’t look like the type who listens to ska,” she said.

I was wearing a plain brown sweater and nondescript jeans.  “I used to dress like I listened to ska, back in college.  You like ska?”

“No,” she said.  “It’s okay.”

“I would say that you look like the type to read a Toni Morrison book,” I said, “but I don’t know what that would mean.”

She smiled and didn’t lecture me, so I took that as a good sign.

“You know what goes good with a book?” she said.  “Ice cream.”

“In this weather?” I said, and then I mentally kicked myself.  “I mean, I feel like ice cream too.  Maybe I’ll see you there.”

“Or maybe we could just go together.”

At that point, I knew.  Maybe I should have figured it out earlier, but a blind first meeting like this was high-stress.

“I could have sworn you said you’d be wearing a black jacket,” I said.

“I said red sweater.”

I didn’t want to argue with her about that right then.  I was just glad that neither of us were getting stood up.  We never did agree on what she had said over the phone, though.  Neither of us had recorded the phone conversation, so we couldn’t go back for the proof.

When I found out later that she actually had a black jacket in her car, I figured that she’d had said black jacket, but I didn’t want to press the point.  Maybe she had said black jacket on purpose and then worn the red sweater in case she wanted to bail out.  If that were the case, a single woman couldn’t admit that to a single guy.  Single women can’t reveal their little tricks; otherwise, the tricks wouldn’t work.

Plus, I don’t want to think my future wife started off the relationship by being dishonest.  Either way, the story isn’t over.  When it comes to my wife, this was just the first awkward moment in our relationship.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told To Alex Haley (Book Review)

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley is a great book.  I liked it a lot.  That’s the short version of my book review.

Plus, I finished it.  If I finish reading a book, I consider it a very good book.  In fact, I’ve finished The Autobiography of Malcolm X twice and have read portions of the book several times.  That makes it twice as great as most books that I’ve finished reading.

I don’t finish reading many books anymore.  I usually read a few pages and think, “This isn’t very good” or “I think I’ve read several books like this already.”  Every once in a while I read a few pages and realize I’ve already read the same book before.  At least I still recognize when I’m reading a book I’ve already read before.

With all the crazy stuff going on, it’s good to read a book about a time that was even crazier in a lot of ways. I occasionally need to remind myself that times have always been crazy.  Craziness is nothing new.

Crazy times or not, The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a great book, so here is my spoiler-free (I think) review:

I Made Fun of COVID-19, and Then I Got Sick

They’re wearing masks for the Spanish Flu (1918), but they’re not social distancing. Losers. (image via wikimedia)

I didn’t publish this blog post when I wrote it in early March, 2020.  A week earlier I had written about how much I’d appreciate a quiet Coronavirus panic because everybody would leave me alone (It was called An Introvert’s Thoughts On The Coronavirus (and other international scares) .

A few days later a real panic happened, people started dying because of COVID-19 (maybe), and I figured then wasn’t the time for a second humorous COVID-19 post.

Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe that would have been the perfect time to write a second humorous post about COVID-19.

*****

I MADE FUN OF THE CORONAVIRUS, AND THEN I GOT SICK

(originally almost published in early March , 2020)

I should have known this would happen.

Last week I wrote a blog post making fun of the possible Coronavirus panic.  I wasn’t making fun of Coronavirus.  I know it can harm people.  I was making fun of the panic.  There are a lot of things more deadly than Coronavirus out there, and nobody is panicking.

So when I felt cold symptoms hit me a few days ago, I kept my mouth shut.  I didn’t want anybody saying “Coronavirus” to me.  It’s not Coronavirus.  Whenever somebody coughs or sneezes, a bunch of co-workers jokingly say “Coronavirus.”  But they’re not joking.  They’re secretly wondering, “Could he be the host that will infect us all?”

Just so you know, I don’t have Coronavirus.  It’s a cold.  I get these twice a year.  I know how the symptoms of a cold affect me.

When I went to the local pharmacy to get a decongestant, the good kind, the one you have to sign for, the one you can make meth out of, the pharmacist gave me a list of free shots that she could give me.  Free shots?  Nowadays, I’m suspicious of anything that’s free.

What’s that conventional wisdom about consumerism?  When you have to pay for something, you’re the customer; when you get something for free, you’re the product.  I don’t want to be a pharmaceutical product by getting free shots.  Who concocted this free vaccine. Bill Gates?  The government?  The same government run by that president everybody claims to hate?  And I’m supposed to accept free vaccinations?  I’d ask for a list of what’s in the vaccinations, but I wouldn’t understand any of it.

Anyway, I noticed that all the cleaning products had been cleaned out of the store/pharmacy.  I guess everybody feels like cleaning houses when they’re Coronavirus panicking.  I have a cold, and I don’t feel like doing anything. My wife probably wishes that I’d get Coronavirus panic too just so that I’d clean the house more.  I do my share, but I’m not going to clean out a store shelf.

Hand sanitizer was gone too, but there was still plenty of soap.  People are panicking enough to keep their hands clean, but they’re lazy about their methods.  Hand sanitizer is for chumps.  I believe in soap-and-water, and I’ll sing “Happy Birthday.”  I might even sing it three times.  Happy Birthday is a good song.

I mean it.  “Happy Birthday” is musically more complicated than most stuff I hear on the radio today, and there’s no innuendo or double entendres in the lyrics.  I know Marilyn Monroe almost ruined it on JFK’s birthday, but that’s what you get when you mix the perverts of Hollywood and the perverts of Washington D.C.

Toilet paper was also gone.  I don’t want to know.

Even though hand sanitizer and toilet paper were bought out, there was plenty of cold medication, even the benign stuff that you don’t have to sign for.  I don’t know if regular cold medication will help with Coronavirus, but I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.  Maybe panickers have the same attitude about hand sanitizer, except I don’t want hand sanitizer.  It feels greasy and unclean.  I think it’s a trick.

Some conspiracy theorists claim that Coronavirus is a hoax to sell hand sanitizer.  I don’t know because too many other businesses are taking a hit with the cancellation of travel and lack of major events.  I don’t think Big Hand Sanitation has that kind of clout.

My family still plans to travel over Spring Break.  We might even get cheaper rates because of the Coronavirus panic.  I should be okay by then.  I don’t want to still have this cold when I get on the airplane and then have to explain to everybody that it’s just a cold.  It’s not Coronavirus!!

If I don’t write another blog post, however, then you’ll know that something bad happened, something that indicates that I should have panicked more seriously.  I know that this just a cold, however.  I’ve taken my decongestant, those meth-lite red pills and I’ve had a few cups of coffee, that meth-lite dark liquid, and I’m feeling a lot better.  I know this is just a cold.

I really hope this is just a cold.

*****

UPDATE-

It was just a cold.  We didn’t go anywhere for Spring Break.  We haven’t gone anywhere for the summer either.  The cheapskate in me is glad we saved the money.  The introvert in me was glad not to have to talk to strangers.

What do you think?  Should I have published this in early March?  Should writers ever hold back In these situations?

Childhood Ghost Story: Proof of Supernatural

(image via wikimedia)

I didn’t obsess over the ghost as much as some people might have.  Don’t get me wrong; the ghost still ruined my night whenever it showed up.  I felt weird with some strange old guy with a night cap staring at me while I was in bed.

Not being able to talk about made it worse.  Even back then, I knew adults weren’t going to listen to a 5th grade kid who complained about a ghost.  In order to talk about the ghost, I felt that I needed some proof.  Before I could prove it to others, though, I needed to prove it to myself.

I decided to conduct a ghost experiment.  This had nothing to do with science, which was good because science was my weak subject in school.  Even though I liked science fiction and reading in general, I’ve struggled to retain anything I learned in any science class throughout my life.

My science experiments in class were always a disaster.  I swear I could measure chemicals precisely and still cause an explosion.  Some students were scared to be my lab partner.  A few brave peers liked being my partner because something crazy always happened.  I think there’s something chemically wrong with me.

Even today, I can’t boost a car battery without causing sparks.  I’ve had experts watch me attach the booster cables properly, and the battery still sparks.  Nobody can figure it out.  Maybe the ghost knew about my baffling spark power and I just haven’t thought of that until now.

Anyway, I knew that my ghost experiment required  something measurable, predictable, and repeatable.  I probably couldn’t measure a ghost, but maybe I could predict it and repeat it.

The key was my hound dog, who always stayed in my room at night.  She followed me everywhere, including to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Whenever the ghost showed up in my doorway, though, the hound dog would be gone.

“Where do you go?” I’d ask her the next morning.  “Did that ghost scare you off?”

I’ve always talked to dogs like they’re rational humans.  I’ve never used high-pitched voices for pet mumbo-jumbo.  I just say stuff like, “It’s good to see you again, you fine beast.”  Sometimes I sing to pets, though.  I never sing to humans.

“Do you leave before the ghost gets here?” I’d ask.  “Or do you run when the ghost shows up?”

“I really hope the ghost isn’t your former owner,” I said to her once.  I didn’t like that idea, so I’ve never repeated it until now.

The problem was that all this ghost-to-dog activity would happen when I was asleep.  Nowadays, I could set up a camera every night and watch what had happened, but back in the 1970s, that wasn’t possible for a family like mine to do.  And even if it had been, I would have had to confess that I thought there was a ghost in our house.

Still, I had my plan.  If I knew for sure that the ghost scared off my dog, then I could at least be confident that something supernatural natural was going on.

A lot happened over the next couple years while I conducted my ghost experiment.  My older brother graduated high school and moved out of the house to go to college.  My dad was trying to quit drinking, and work was keeping him from being home, but when he was home, his mood could still be unpredictable.  My older sister was getting into trouble all the time, so there was constant arguing until she ran away.  Then, it was kind of quiet most of the time, but we were worried about where she was, and that was tense.  This was the 1970s; you heard stories about runaway girls getting murdered, but you didn’t have an internet to make it so obvious.

It wasn’t the ghost possessing my family to cause all the turmoil, I was certain.  Things had been crazy before we’d moved into this house.  If anything, my family’s loud conflicts had probably kept the ghost from hanging out with us more often.

After a couple years, I was pretty sure we had a a ghost.  The ghost had shown up 14 times in two years, and my dog had disappeared each time.  The only other time when my dog had left the room was once to barf in the hallway, and then she’d cowered in a corner because (we think) a previous owner had beaten her for stuff like that.

That was a good dog.  Today I have a dog who pukes indiscriminately.  And a cat who pukes exclusively on hard-to-clean fabrics and then looks at me defiantly afterward.  That cat and my hound dog’s previous owner probably deserve each other.

At any rate, I had my evidence.  It would never stand up in court.  It might not even convince my family and friends.  But it convinced me.  By that time, I was in 7th grade, and I knew I had a ghost in my house.  I knew it.  Unfortunately, I still knew nobody would believe me.

To be continued!

Or you can start at the beginning with Childhood Ghost Story- The Prologue .

The Comic Book That Should Have Taught Me A Lesson (but didn’t)

I should have learned my lesson from this comic book.

I learned a lot of stuff from comic books as a kid, I think.  I picked up an above average vocabulary by reading a ton of cheesy dialogue written by Stan Lee.  I learned the basic plots of a bunch of classic novels by reading Classics Illustrated comic books.  I improved my writing skills by using some of the tricks I saw in comic book exposition and dialogue.

But the video below, (which was meant to merely be an old comic book review) inadvertently tells the story of a lesson I should have learned but didn’t.

Just so you know, I blame me, not the comic book, for me NOT learning the lesson.

Stay tuned until the end for the shock ending.