I was enjoying the local newspaper, lit by the sunlight coming through my living room window when a loud rumble disrupted my analysis of my very troubling horoscope and things became very dark.
It wasn’t a storm. The rolling thunder was produced by giant pickup truck towing a trailer overloaded with a mountain of mulch. It pulled up to the curb in front of my house and two skinny guys armed with pitchforks got out and mounted the mulch pile and proceeded, for the next four hours, to spread the stuff around my neighbor’s property.
They mulched the borders around the house, they mulched the garden that hasn’t yet emerged from its winter’s nap. They mulched in mounds and piles and paths. By the time they were done the skinny guys looked as thin as the handles on their pitchforks.
Then another truck arrived to another house in our subdivision and another and another for several days. They were all loaded with mulch and crews of guys with shovels and rakes and pitchforks and cups of steaming Tim Horton’s coffee. They’d toss the mulch around every tree so high the maples and oaks looked like they were wearing mulchy mini skirts.
I get mulch is chemical-free and useful to retain moisture and retard weed growth but there’s so much of it applied it would take a 100 year flood to get the water down to the roots where it would do some good.
We moved to this sub about four years ago and it didn’t take long to catch on to the fact the folks here are apparently locked in a seasonal mulch death match. One resident will kick it all off with a fairly modest mulch application, perhaps even doing it themselves with bags of it from the local garden store. Touche’!
It doesn’t take long before another resident sees this and makes a quick call to a landscape company ordering a load of mulch for their yard that will make the do-it-yourselfer look like a pathetic mulch neophyte.
Then it all cascades into an all-out mulch brawl where homeowners put in their orders for even more mulch and before long there’s a convoy of mulch mobiles clogging up our streets and curbs and armies of mulch men are dispatched to pile it higher, higher, higher! Wider, wider, wider! Hell, pile it so high the damn mulch touches the lowest limbs!
Now I must admit, I do freshen the mulch around my trees and garden..a little! Usually 6 bags does it. I’m done dumping and spreading it in less than an hour and it looks pretty fresh for the season. Truth is, I could grab a wheelbarrow and skim off the first three feet of mulch from my neighbor’s yard and they’d never know it was gone..or maybe they would. Maybe they’re so obsessive they’re mulch measurers!
All I know is the obsession my neighbors seem to have for heaps of shredded bark and wood to the point of shelling out untold dollars for hundreds of cubic yards to cover their yards has me thinking they should rename our sub Mulch Gulch.
And, well, not to be rude, but considering the shape some of these folks are in, perhaps they’re already retaining too much water.
I’ve decided to make an important announcement. Since I no longer physically show up to any of my freelance gigs and only appear digitally on Zoom or Teams or Skype, I am officially transitioning to an NFT—Non-fungible talent.
By definition something that’s non-fungible is unique in digital form. OK. I get you may take it as arrogance by my pronouncement that I am unique, but unless you’re aware of a digital clone out there baring a scary resemblance to me, I think I can check off that box. I’ll also argue that there is no exact duplicate digital presence with my lineage, relationships or resume’. Unfortunately, there may be someone totally as screwed as I in the height department but that would simply be a sad coincidence inviting only commiseration, not exactly duplication.
Now there comes the issue of these ridiculously outrageous auctions for NFTs. Again, I realize desired artwork or a Kings of Leon album may command rich rewards. But those are non-fungible tokens. As a non-fungible talent, I would shamelessly be open to bids from prospective employers promising excellent cryptopay, benefits, working conditions, opportunities and the promise that as an NFT I would never be expected, or allowed, to physically show my face at the work site.
Not only would that negate my status as an NFT, it would expose the fact that in my digital form my wardrobe from below the waist generally consists of cutoffs made from discarded bagpipes.
I hope you’ll support me in my transition and save me a spot in the blockchain.
Just a question. What the hell does it mean when the person the Draft Kings commercial tells me to MAKE IT GREAT. Oh she’s very emphatic about it with those big pauses between words. What exactly am I making great? I imagine it’s Draft Kings’ bottom line because the only money I ever won was way back in the 1980’s.
I was working at CNN in Atlanta and Claus von Bulow was on trial for killing his wife. Somehow I was closest to the day/time the verdict would come in and also correctly bet he’d be convicted. That was good for 25 bucks which I spent on a little wagon with plastic animals for my then two-year old son. Aww.
Oh, I’d won a couple of bucks here and there at the racetrack back in the 70’s and in the slots in Vegas and here in Detroit but overall my betting balance sheet is bright crimson. In short, I’ve never MADE IT GREAT.
I suppose being encouraged to throw away my money on sports by the Draft Kings “hostess” is better than being snarled at by Jamie Foxx in those spots for BetMGM. I know he thinks he’s a pretty cool guy but sticking out your chin, challenging me to back up my hunches by losing my lunch money on who’s gonna knock out whom when just rubs me the wrong way. Then at the end of the spot he kinda rotates his head, holding that sneer as if to say, “hey dumbass. I’m getting paid big bucks to do this commercial, but I bet I just scared you into betting the kid’s college fund on a professional thumb wrestling match in Bulgaria.”
That’s not MAKING IT GREAT. That’s PISSING ME OFF.
Between those two comes the young waif on the Fanduel commercial. I think they gave the poor thing 3.5 seconds to deliver 10 seconds of copy. She’s talking so fast in a practiced monotone I don’t know whether I’m being encouraged to lay down some dollars on a competitive rat wrestling tournament or watching auditions for a new talent show, Zombie Auctioneers.
I know one thing, that young lady wouldn’t screw around. She’d kick it out. MAKEITGREAT! Now if the Draft Kings hostess said it fast like that I might actually WANT to make it great if I could figure out just what I was making great.
Honestly, I would think someone trying to sell you something would say “MAKE IT SNAPPY” but definitely not MAKE IT SNAPPY, which would be irony at best. I mean, who bets on wordplay? Well..I suppose you could. I could see Jamie Foxx staring me down barking, “what’s it gonna be? Paradox or dichotomy? HUH? Double or nothing on parts of speech…back up yo hunch!” Okay okay. A hundred on paradox and gerund. Damn. It came in irony and adverb, which MADE IT GREATLY.
Sorry I haven’t posted anything lately. I’ve spent a lot of time waiting–my mail. Tom Petty had it right when he described waiting as the “hardest part” because it’s a useless waste of the limited time we have on this orbiting marble. Annoyingly half-full folks may giddily laugh off waiting as “oh, it’s just building anticipation.” That, of course, is not true. It’s time spent not doing what you’d rather, or need to be doing.
In my case, I’ve wanted to write a blog post you may feel worth your precious time to read. But I’ve found if I decide to use the time I’ve been waiting for do something more useful or fun, the thing for which I’ve been waiting suddenly happens so the other thing now has to be set aside. That’s also annoying.
In the case of my mail, I waited more than a week to receive any. Oh, I receive some sort of mail every single day and I like that. I don’t care if it’s junk or a bill or a circular from a guy who wants to trim my nose hair, whatever appears in my mailbox is like a little surprise package that alternately delights, disappoints or pisses me off. Doesn’t matter. When I go down to my mailbox I want mail in it. The only mail I don’t like is when it’s not mine. The mail carrier on my route has not yet mastered that trick. Oftentimes I will break into a wide grin when I discover my mailbox is full only to be cruelly disappointed when I discover none of that stuff was addressed to me. Not only didn’t I receive my mail, I now have to shlep down the block to shove the misdirected printed matter in the correct mailbox and hope whoever received mine will act in kind.
Still, I’m no better than one of Pavlov’s dogs. Place mail in box. Arf, arf! I dutifully wag my middle aged ass while lumbering down to my mailbox in hopes of finding a yummy in the form of some dreck asking for money I owe, promising me money I’ll never receive, advertising something I’ll never need or begging me to vote for someone I’d never consider. But there’s a great deal of satisfaction when I can run into the house calling, “mail’s here!” and the family hurries over to see what “gifts” the person driving a vehicle with the wheel on the wrong side has left in our box. As soon as they see what crap it is their gleeful smiles instantly transform into daggers aimed at me, the guy who brought the envelopes of disappointment into our house.
It’s hard enough to know my own family has taken out their disappointment on me, occasionally mouthing “you bastard” when I bring in a circular for a store that doesn’t even have a location within 200 miles of our town. Well, how can you blame them. How frustrating would it be to see an amazing sale on juice boxes or deer repellant knowing you don’t have a shot at scoring the deal without taking a five-hour drive, burning 50 bucks worth of gas.
During the week we received no mail for one reason or another I should have simply taken residence in a motel until the crisis past. It’s almost worse to return from the mailbox empty handed than to bring in a bundle of bullshit. “Whaddya mean there’s NOTHING IN THE BOX! Go back outside and find some!” Indeed, families are helpful during trying times except if their patience is tried while awaiting the arrival of free stuff with stamps.
I’m happy to say I’ve been welcomed back into the house after mail delivery resumed last week on an everyday basis. We don’t always receive mail addressed to us, but the silver linings are we are learning the names of our neighbors and where exactly they live and if any other them are likely receiving social security checks. Good to know.
As for me, I’m now done waiting for my mail since it seems to be arriving everyday again at about the same time. But I’ve learned me lesson. If we receive five things, I’m hiding away at least two in case we don’t receive anything the next day. If someone in my family wonders aloud if we’ll receive mail tomorrow, I allow myself to smile confidently while telling them, “just wait.”
For once it’s great to be an alta cocker. My age makes me eligible to receive a Covid-19 shot. But easier said than done. I’ve discovered when given the opportunity to be inoculated against a deadly virus some senior citizens suddenly become crazed lunatics that look at the process as a mortal combat.
The problem is, even if you’re eligible, you have to make an appointment. But there’s so much competition for the limited number of slots it’s tough to get one, so some serious gaming is going on.
Oh no, you can’t just ring up your doc and say, “hey, I’m old. I want my shot. When can I come in?” You actually have to score an invitation, fill out a form, get on the list, then pray you don’t get infected before being granted the potentially life-saving first poke, then making another appointment for the second.
So far I’ve received several such “invitations” from two health care systems, a discount store chain and my county. I’ve dutifully responded hoping my wife and I will be granted slots by the Vicar of Vaccines or whoever is making such decisions.
What’s really pissing me off are the smug old farts who have somehow received their firsts shots already. I got on social media where I’ve read several posts responding to someone desperately looking for info on how to make an appointment saying something to the effect of “Ha! Me and Shirley got ours yesterday. It was easy, loser. We knew what to do and where to go. We already have appointments for our second shots! Nyahhhhh, nyahhh! Here’s what ya shoulda done…”
I hope they received placebos.
Then there’s the absolute disconnect with just who the hospitals are dealing with. There’s an app some of them use where patients can register, monitor their accounts, make/cancel appointments, read their charts and pay their bills. I’m fine with it and use the app successfully all the time. Ha! I was just a smug old fart. But a lotta seniors aren’t comfortable with technology and so they’re completely disenfranchised when the email from the heath care system screams that the only way to register for, and make an appointment is on the app. What’s with this app? I need a nap!
I was relieved to see, when picking up a prescription yesterday at a big discount store you could actually sign up for an appointment in person at the pharmacy, but even that’s fraught with danger. You ever see a group of seniors vying for a shot at a shot that’ll extend their stay on this planet in the same place at the same time? It’s like Roller Derby–a lotta bony elbows and shouts of “what?”
Well…I’m hanging in there, anxiously awaiting the magic moment when we’re told the Grand Inoculator will grant us a presence. I figure we’ve got a decent chance since I’m now registered in four different places. Should we score multiple invitations, perhaps there’s a secondary market…yeah…shot scalping. Like old time outside Yankee Stadium when I was a kid. “Hey! I got two at county health!” Could be an economic shot in the arm.
Our deranged POTUS has got me thinking. Hmm…maybe I was the victim of a rigged election. If my fifth grade teacher is still alive I just may have to give her a call, or at least send a strongly worded email.
Here’s how it went down. April, 1963. I was overwhelmingly elected by my fifth grade class to be its representative on the P.S. 186 Student Council. I had campaigned hard, on the “no more navy bean soup for lunch” platform but already earned popular support and name recognition for my performance as the Cowardly Lion in our class’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
There were smiles all around as the class president read the votes. I had won by a landslide, 32-1.
Only the guy who played the Tin Man voted against me because he felt my over-the-top delivery of “If I Only Had the Nerve,” clearly upstaged his rather plaintive interpretation of “If I Only Had a Heart, depriving him of the attention of the class cutie, who, incidentally, knocked it out of the park playing Dorothy’s dog, Toto.
I modestly thanked the class for its support and promised I would be a strong advocate in Student Council, fighting like hell for the right to use Number 3 pencils when Number 2’s were unavailable. That got a big round of support and a ceremonial rubbing of gummy erasers.
Yes, I was clearly relishing my big victory but the scowl on my teacher’s face merely telegraphed the bomb she was going to drop on me.
“Edward! I am vetoing your election,” she spat at me. “You talk too much in class and are generally disruptive and that disqualifies you from this honor!”
It’s true I liked to chat with my classmates and occasionally pull the chair out from some of them as they sat, causing much laughter in room 202 as the poor schlubs splatted their asses on the slick tile floor. After falling for the third time one kid whined at me, asking “why you keep doing that?” I could only reply, “why you so dumb you keep falling for it?” I’ve since had similar conversations with a handful of work supervisors, some of whom took my actions as “bold, out of the box thinking.”
Well…of course I was incensed at this injustice, as was the class which implored my teacher to reconsider, but she wasn’t budging. I even played the “Lion card” saying my stellar performance bailed out her butt in front of the principal who thought her previous class plays suffered from “tedious treatments of the Industrial Revolution and the invention of lint, blah, blah, blah.” But the production of Oz was so kick ass it drove one parent to exclaim, “A class play that kept me awake!”
I stewed on being screwed and wrote several notes to the teacher complaining of the injustice and that she had no right to override the class’s clear choice. She just tossed the notes in the waste basket and warned if I kept sending her my strongly worded missives in her next play I would be relegated to a non-speaking role of “Guy tossed by Washington into the Delaware to make room for more salt pork in the boat.”
Since the Tin Man came in second in the voting, teacher appointed him to the Student Council where he failed miserably..indeed not having the heart for the position nor for the fight against navy bean soup.
Should I look up my teacher, and if she’s alive, give her a call giving her hell about depriving me of my duly elected position? Probably not. So long ago. Plus, the very next year my sixth grade class elected me to council and I won the school-wide election as Student Council Vice President. But still, I wonder how that call would go…if I only had the nerve….
I won’t be eating turkey this year. Perhaps I’ll never eat it again…at least until I move to a different neighborhood.
Oh, I’m not against turkey per se. I’m just against eating my neighbors. Shortly after moving to our current location a little over three years ago, we gradually got to know the folks who live in our small subdivision. A few came over with well-wishes and even bottles of wine to welcome us.
We got became familiar with others during our nightly walks through the sub, often stopping to chat or making a fuss over someone’s dog. It’s a small community so it didn’t take long to take complete inventory of who lives where. Then one night we discovered a family we hadn’t yet met.
As I looked out my front window I saw them sauntering in the street and entering a neighbor’s driveway, perhaps to offer holiday wishes and trade non-poultry-based recipes. I managed to capture some of the rather large clan’s approach on video while inviting them to waddle over some time.
A few weeks later I noticed a lone member of the family in the woods behind my house with his feathers fully extended. The object of his flamboyance was about a hundred yards further in the brush out of camera range. The poor Tom was hoping to score a little Tammy on that crisp fall morning. It took him awhile to get there. I don’t know if they did, indeed, hook up, but our whole family was in his corner hoping at least one of them enjoyed some stuffing.
All in all, they’re pretty good neighbors. They pretty much flock together and don’t make much noise except for occasional squawks of pleasure or recognition. Once in a while if a mischievous squirrel or raccoon pisses them off the squawks will take on a little more urgency, but who can blame them.
Look, I’m not a hypocrite. I eat meat and fish and poultry and understand the process, but in this case, I have to put my foot down at eating my neighbors. Besides, if you gobble them, you never know who’s gonna move in next.
In my semi-retirement I’m enjoying my part-time freelance gigs that keep my brain from turning to grits and thanks to this election cycle, I think I’ve decided on my next endeavor. I’m going to be a pollster.
What I’ve learned from watch actual, professional pollsters is it seems like you can make some decent money while never actually being accurate. As a journalist, this goes against all my ethics. Then again, news organizations are among the biggest spenders on polls in order to manufacturer news stories that may or may not be true, but every time the poll is referenced in a story the name or names of the sponsoring news organizations are mentioned, providing some effective promotion.
We’ve seen from both the 2016 and the 2020 presidential election cycles that pollsters can swing and miss by a mile the eventual results. Guess all that victory party planning by Hillary Clinton’s campaign based on polling that she’d wipe Trump’s butt in the election was a big oops. Maybe they should have charged the pollsters the costs of streamers, confetti and caviar.
They blew it again this year, prediction a big blue wave where the Democrats took back the Senate, widened their majority in the House and Joe Biden would sashay into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Dems won’t regain the majority in the Senate, their majority in the House narrowed and days after votes were cast, Joe Biden still can’t tell the post office to begin forwarding his mail as of Jan. 20, 2021, even though it seems inevitable. It wasn’t supposed to be this close…according to the polls.
The irony is, despite their total whiff, pollsters will still make big bucks for what really amounts to an attempt at legal jury tampering. The supposition by political organizations that buy polls is if voters see their candidate as a winner in the pre-election polls, they’ll be likely to support him or her with real votes. Turns out voters may enjoy reading news stories about the latest polls but when they cast their ballots they think for themselves.
If I ran a polling agency I’d be more honest about it. I’d run the poll and report the results with a margin for error of plus or minus 100 points. The client would get the numbers they paid for and if they turned out completely wrong I could always say, well…they were within the margin for error.
I would give my new polling agency the appropriate title, “I’ve Got Your Numbers” or IGYN. Can’t wait to pick up the New York Times and read the lead, “In an IGYN-NY Times poll, 78% of those on the Acela Express Amtrak agreed that railroads take people places. 17% said they wandered on the train looking for packs of Saltines and the rest had no opinion and asked to return to their naps. ‘This poll is conclusive evidence people depend on Amtrak for something,’ said Amtrak spokeswoman Dee Rail.”
See? I think this could work out. In fact I polled my family on the idea. 94% nodded their heads while muttering “yeah, sure,” 2% smirked and 4% asked me to bring them beers. None responded negatively. Margin for error, 100%. I’m goin’ with it.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash is being blamed today for making a bonehead move that probably contributed to his team’s loss in the World Series. You see, he pulled the team’s ace pitcher, Blake Snell even though he was tossing a great game…surrendering to the endless babble of numbers, acronyms and abbreviations known as Sabremetrics…or as I call them….”WTFetrics” Cash just didn’t want Dodgers batters to get a third time at the plate against the guy, even though Snell was basically mowing them down.
As a lifelong fan of the national pastime I was content with knowing a batter’s average, a pitchers earned run average and other stats like how many homers a guy hit, bases he stole and runs he batted in.
I get that things have moved along and we now know esoterica that help managers, owners and players supposedly make better decisions on the field and off. Therefore, I’ve decided to go with the flow and adapt this development to my own life.
I started today at noon with my midday repast. As I lifted my ham sandwich to my piehole I asked my meal mate to take some video on their phones that I could later examine to better understand what I have designated my “Lunch angle.” Could I more effortlessly ingest my ham on rye by reducing the angle at which it enters my mouth? By adjusting my lunch angle, I might be able to keep my mouth shut longer, thereby allowing me to listen to the gossip being offered before taking another sloppy, noisy bite. I love anything that improves cognition.
Another stat I find useful is how I measure and regulate complaining. I’ve set a hard and fast limit by establishing a firm Bitch Count. When I find myself getting too whiny, I cut myself off after four complaints within an 8-hour period. Then I engage in a self-enforced cool-down cycle by swilling two fingers of Jack Daniels on the rocks. The same goes for anyone I happen to be with. Hit the Bitch Count and you’re cut off–forced to join me for happy hour until you calm down. Could take several rounds.
The one baseball stat I find mind-numbing is OBP, or on-base percentage. Here’s now the pros figure it: On Base Percentage (aka OBP, On Base Average, OBA) is a measure of how often a batter reaches base. It is approximately equal to Times on Base/Plate appearances. The full formula is OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies)
In real life one can use a similar formula to measure a person’s inability to use tact or diplomacy or Obtuse Bile Percentage. The formula would be expressed thusly as: OBP= Swear words + Corporate slang + Inappropriate hand gestures / Text messages with angry emojis + Selfish demands + Supportive References to Sean Hannity. A perfect score of 1.000 wins the designation as PTB or Perfect Trump Boor.
My final example is the fascinating, yet polarizing stat known as the WHIF…or Wife plus Husband per Issues Fought. It’s fairly self-explanatory and is considered an important predictor of future evenings bereft of connubial connection.
That’s just a start but I’m sure by the end of the season I will have established a new benchmark for UNR or Useless Numbers Referenced. Play ball!
I know there are plenty of weighty things on everyone’s minds, but a recent story I read in the Detroit Free Press has me really bewildered. I can only describe it as a misinformed, unfair and disappointing diatribe against a completely innocent element of long-standing tradition. Have you read it? I’m actually still reeling from the vicious attack on something that has a potential lifespan longer than obsidian and just as impenetrable. Yes…we’ve all found some in the folds and recesses of our trick or treat bags, car seats and oral cavities.
Yes, in this period of social and political polarity, let’s come together on the benefits and joys that can only be derived from one diminutive source: candy corn.
Sure, the multicolored confection will rot your teeth and expand your gut but man, that’s so half-empty. Let’s start with the whole teeth rotting thing. So what? Your natural choppers erode from the twin forces of attempting to chew the unchewable and being bathed in pure sugar? No problem. Skip the dentist, reach into the bag and as fast as you can say “high deductible” you’ve got an entirely new set and you’ve avoided the cost and pain of the traditional substitutes. Besides, orange and yellow are so much more fun than the boring all white. It’s 2020 man! The year where normal doesn’t exist.
Now let’s address those who advocate for the Second Amendment. Personally, I’m not a gun guy. When I was in the Boy Scouts I was so bad at the shooting range I could use the same paper target over and over again. Not even close. For sure, the targets were safe. Not so sure about my troop mates. Now, be open-minded about this. Swap those hollow-points for Brachs white tips.
Instead of putting holes in a person or animal, they might merely cause an annoying welt before disintegrating. I think that amounts to reasonable stopping power in self-defense situations. I imagine any charges filed would have be reduced from those related to using a “deadly weapon” to merely “firing fattening projectiles.” The use of candy corn rounds won’t provide meat on your table but I find the best hunting in the wild aisles of Costco anyway.
Personally, I always keep a few bags of the stuff in my workshop. Candy corns are small and strong enough for use as shims and for temporarily filling holes in drywall until I can get around to spackling them. The added advantage is, when they’ve outlived their utilitarian uses you can just pop ’em in your mouth—no waste. I love the environment!
An important consideration when discussing sweets is the mess factor. Candy corn doesn’t make one because they don’t melt like chocolate or marshmallow. In fact, they’re fairly indestructible. Little known fact—candy corn is a favorite among those carrying out testing of thermonuclear devices due to their ability to withstand blistering temperatures. The folks I’ve spoken to who work in that field really appreciate the quick jolt candy corn provides after a hard day of testing the stuff that could result in the end of humanity. Come to think of it, eating too much candy corn could pretty much be anyone’s final meal.
All I know is, as a kid growing up in Queens, I never turned my nose up when a neighbor tossed a bag of candy corn in my trick or treat bag. Maybe that’s because I knew they were awesome slingshot projectiles, I could use them as little door stops or to terrorize my parents by sticking a bunch in my mouth, getting my brother to play act that he was slugging me in the face and then I spit them out as if he broke all my teeth. Fun! As a parent I’ve been repaid for my idiocy many times over. Wouldn’t change a thing.
So don’t discount the value of much maligned candy corn. Sure, it tastes like sugary wax but as Jerry Seinfeld once told his father when he thought The Wizard personal digital assistant was merely a tip calculator…….