The Man in the Mirror

I don’t know what it’s like for other writers, but I have to be inspired to write anything for my blog. My inspiration appears to come from my Muses. That’s what I call them. I don’t know who or what they are, but without them I probably wouldn’t be able to write anything except my name.

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I’ve written about my Muses before. They’re loosely based on the nine Muses of Greek mythology. I sincerely doubt that any of the mythic Muses are the actual source of my inspiration. I just like the idea of scantily clad hot babes frolicking around inside my head.

I have also written about my experiences with thought insertions. These can be fairly random experiences for me, except when I write. As far as that goes, I seem to become a vehicle for whomever or whatever it is that wants to be heard. In my blog. That hardly anyone reads…

I know, right? You’d think they would’ve been smart enough to pick a better vehicle.

Case in point, I’ve been trying not to write this post for at least a month now, but the only ideas I get about writing revolve around a subject I’d rather not touch. In the past, my Muses have tended to throw me under the bus in these circumstances. That’s my primary reason for not wanting to write this. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not going to be able to avoid it, so I might as well get it over with.

* * * *

One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is look in the mirror above my bathroom sink. The medications I have to take are in the cabinet behind the mirror.

I take something for hypertension so I don’t have a stroke. I take an aspirin a day to prevent a heart attack. I take Omega-3 to slow the progression of dementia, which I may or may not have. The definitive diagnosis of dementia is done at autopsy, and I’m not ready for that yet. And I also select a variety of analgesic meds depending on my level of pain.

And that’s when the music starts.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Me: I suffer from Involuntary Musical Imagery Syndrome. There is always a song running through my head. This condition is sometimes referred to as an earworm. It’s a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind.

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Today, it’s The Boston Rag by Steely Dan. On the bright side, the DJ inside my head seems to have good taste in music.

* * * *

I’m fairly certain everyone has had this happen to them before, but I don’t know if it’s a daily occurrence for most people. Like unto the ringing in my left ear, most of the time I don’t even notice it. I’ve gotten used to it. Sometimes it’s annoying as hell, like the time I had a McDonald’s® jingle playing in my head for over a month.

* * * *

Man in the Mirror is a song by Michael Jackson. It was released in February 1988 from his album, Bad. It was his tenth number-one single, and Jackson said it was one of his favorite songs. It’s one of the few songs Jackson recorded that he didn’t write, and it’s especially ironic when you consider just how weird of a human being Michael Jackson was.

The song is about making a change and realizing that it has to start with you.

The phrase …you should look in the mirror, isn’t usually meant to be taken literally. It’s more of an allegory to suggest that you need to take a long, hard look at yourself. You need to do some soul searching. You’re probably going to have to do some agonizing reappraisal. It’s a process that’s probably going to suck. A lots.

* * * *

rac·ism
/ˈrāˌsizəm/
noun
  1. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

* * * *

Racism. It’s the other big headline in the news this year. Racism isn’t new. It’s been around since, well, forever. In and of itself, racism doesn’t sound like an ugly word.

Puke. Crepuscular. Smegma. Those words sound ugly. But if you want to make 9 out of 10 people feel uncomfortable in a conversation, bring up the topic of racism. I’m not even talking to anyone, and I feel uncomfortable writing about it. Almost everyone has some racial biases lurking somewhere deep inside of their souls. Almost none of us are proud about it.

If you ask someone from my generation if they’re racist, they’ll probably stumble all over themselves when they try to explain themselves. At best, you might get this response, “Well, I used to be…” At worst, you’ll hear this answer, “Oh hell yeah.”

My dad was a racist. He wasn’t an in-your-face racist, he was more of a behind-your-back racist, which tells me he wasn’t proud of his beliefs either. I’m sure he inherited his biases from his parents, and right or wrong, he passed them on to his children. 

* * * *

No one knows when the concept of racial superiority first emerged, but it appears that pretty much every ethnic/cultural group of people on the planet has at one time or another thought that they were superior to every other ethnic group of people.

The US has been the hotspot for racial tensions recently, but it’s hardly the only place where race is a major issue. The English feel superior to the peoples living on the European continent. The Germans feel superior to the peoples of Eastern Europe and Russia. And the French feel superior to, well, everybody.

I’m sure there have been a lots of studies exploring the origins of biases and discrimination. If you’re interested, you can look it up on the Google®. For my money, they originate from ignorance and fear because that’s where all of mine came from.

* * * *

Knowledge can be defined as information you acquire as you grow. Wisdom can be described as as the application of accrued knowledge. Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. Stupidity is the absence of wisdom. 

These aren’t the actual definitions of these words. They’re my definitions.

* * * *

In the 1600’s, scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism came into vogue in Europe. At best, it was  a pseudoscientific belief that empirical evidence existed to support or justify racial discrimination. In other words, it was a bullshit philosophy. There isn’t any evidence to support this line of thinking.

Despite that, racism is alive and well on this planet. And it’s not just racism that afflicts the human race. There are a plethora of biases that you can choose from if you want to discriminate against others.

People may discriminate against others based on age, social status and class, height, criminal record, weight, religion, physical appearance, disability, intelligence, family status, gender identity, gender expression, generation, genetic characteristics, race, marital status, nationality, profession, color, ethnicity, sex and sexual orientation, political ideology, dietary preferences, and personality.

See? I told you it was a long list, and the list I just detailed is by no means complete. The most ironic form of discrimination is based on religion. I believe in God, but the idea that the invisible entity someone else worships isn’t the real Invisible Entity is just… crazy. Additionally, Jesus Christ repeatedly said that you should love everyone, no matter what. I’m not sure how some of the people who claim to believe in him missed that integral part of his message.

The Apostle Paul believed that the love of money is the root of all evil. Maybe that’s true, but the misuse of religion is the root of the greatest evil. You can quote me on that. In my opinion, the only people who should be able to discriminate based on religion are atheists, and they’re probably the only people that don’t.

* * * *

I’m not sure who came up with the idea that people with white skin are superior to all of the people that aren’t white, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the person who did –was white.

I see this concept as a combination of Creationism and Evolution — two schools of thought that mix together like oil and water — but it goes something like unto this: white people are superior to everyone else because they’re the children of God. And all of those inferior darker-skinned people — they descended from apes.

* * * *

When I was in nursing school, I met John. He was a patient at the St. Cloud VA. John was an older black man who spent hours in the bathroom staring at his reflection in the mirror. The thing I remember most about him was the look of shock and…horror…on his face as he stared at his reflection.

“I don’t know what happened to me,” he said in a voice so low it was almost a whisper. “I woke up yesterday, and I was…black!”

“Um, I don’t know how to say this, but isn’t that, you know, normal?”

“Hell no it’s not normal! I’m WHITE!”

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* * * *

I went to a lots of Catholic schools when I was young. I received an excellent education, and I was taught to be a morally upstanding person, something that would take decades to take root inside me.

I was taught to love everyone no matter who or what they were. I didn’t. I’m not sure I even liked many people back then. I spent a fair amount of time living in small towns in Minnesota when I was very young, and again after I was discharged from the Army. These were towns where a racially diverse neighborhood meant Swedes and Norwegians lived on the same block.

I was around ten years old the first time I remember hearing the word nigger. I had no idea what the word meant, but I remember I laughed when I heard it. I thought it sounded funny. 

I’m pretty sure I thought all of the common racial slurs were funny. Wop. Chink. Beaner. Kike. Gook. They all cracked me up. I can’t remember when I realized that none of them were funny. All I know for sure is it took a helluvalot longer than it should have.

Once I got to know people of color, I discovered they didn’t fit into the preconceived ideas I had, so something had to change. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet a real, live black person face-to-face until I was in high school. I hope I didn’t look at him like he was some kind of animal that had escaped from a zoo, but I probably did.

And I hope I didn’t call him a nigger out loud, but I know I was thinking it.

It wasn’t until I was in the Army that I was exposed to a lots of people of various colors, races and creeds. The black guys were all so damn cool. They could dance, and talk shit gooder than anyone I’d ever met, and they were funny! They had a sense of humor and style that I didn’t possess. They didn’t fit into any of the misconceptions I possessed. They actually made me feel inferior to them.

I suppose I could have hated them for that, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt superior to anyone. That whole not being good enough thing was something I was very familiar with. Come to think of it, I probably still feel that way.

Added to that, it was Basic Training — black, white, brown — it didn’t matter, we all felt a sense of unity because we were all being made to feel miserable, and in the Army there was only one color that mattered.

Olive drab green.

* * * *

Two of my best friends after I got out of Basic Training were Hispanic. Johnny Gonzalez and Raoul Sanchez. They were two of the smartest guys I’ve known, and they taught me so much about how the military worked. I probably wouldn’t have survived the Army without them.

They were so proud of their heritage. Both of them were from Texas, and they took me home to meet their families more than once. I learned to love Mexican food because of them. And I also learned to have a very healthy respect for Hispanic women because of them.

I’ve written a few stories about some of my adventures with Raoul. You can check them out if you don’t have anything better to do.

* * * *

The Army taught me that I didn’t know everything, and most of the things I thought I knew about people were wrong. But there was one group of people that I still couldn’t abide.

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For the longest time, I really didn’t like gay men. I didn’t hold any ill will against lesbians, so sexual preference wasn’t my issue. I had been sexually abused by my uncle when I was a kid — that was my reason for hating fuckin’ queers and faggots.

I was probably the most homophobic person on the planet when I was in my twenties. I hated Richard Simmons. I didn’t like Elton John. It wasn’t until I became a psych nurse that my homophobia finally subsided. 

Many of my patients were gay. Because I was their nurse, I had to talk to them. And I discovered that most of them were decent guys. Two of the nurses I worked with at the Minneapolis VAMC were gay, and they weren’t just decent guys, they were damn good nurses.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Nurses and Nursing: it’s a profession where your performance determines what kind of person you are to other nurses. Seriously. You can be the sweetest person on Earth, but if you’re a lousy nurse, your co-workers are probably going to think you suck.

From my point of view, if you’re not a good nurse, there’s almost a zero chance that I could ever be your friend.

Conversely, you can be an absolute disaster area of a human being, but if you’re a good nurse, your co-workers will probably love you, at least some of the time. In this aspect, nurses are a lots like unto cops. Cops judge other cops in a similar fashion.

* * * *

It was only after we moved to Arizona that I worked in a very diverse workplace. The Psychiatry Department of the Minneapolis VAMC was about as vanilla as it could be. The was one black psychiatrist, and one black nurse. I can’t remember working with a single Hispanic person, but there were three Native Americans on staff.

Everyone else, was white.

Arizona was a whole ‘nother story. I wish I could say that by this time in my life I had gotten past all of my biases based on color. But in all honesty, I’m sure there are times when it still happens…

It doesn’t happen as often now, and I catch it faster, and tell myself to get my head out of my ass.

In my mind, Phoenix and Minneapolis are probably equal when it comes to racial diversity. I’m not sure how to explain the differences in staffing when I compare the hospitals in the two states. One major difference was funding. The Federal Government has a lots more money than any hospital does. As a result, the VA hired only nurses to work the floor. There was no separation of duties at the VA. You were a nurse. You did everything.

The healthcare system in Arizona was vastly different than the system I was used to in Minnesota. All of the hospitals I worked at in Arizona employed Registered Nurses and Behavioral Health Technicians. The majority of the BHT’s were people of color. The BHT’s checked vital signs and basically controlled the environment of the unit while the nurses passed medications and did paperwork. A whole lots of goddamn paperwork.

It didn’t take me long to realize that a good BHT was worth twice their weight in gold, and the color of their skin was their least important attribute. Our patients were much more marginalized than the relatively benign guys I was used to at the VA. It could be a much more dangerous climate in Arizona.

* * * *

Some of the nurses I worked with in Arizona rarely left the nursing station. One nurse didn’t have any idea how to even use the blood pressure machine!

“That’s a BHT job.” she said.

I fuckin’ hated working with her and her lazy-ass attitude. The really weird part about this is I also worked with her in Minnesota, at the Minneapolis VAMC. I expected better things from her.

* * * *

I was seriously injured only once in my career as a psych nurse. I’m not sure I’d even be alive right now if it weren’t for the BHT’s in Arizona. Those guys saved my life more than once. So, thank you Bob. And James. And Anthony. And Devon. And Luis. And Antonio. And anyone else that I’ve forgotten.

You are among the best people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and you are some of the best men I’ve ever known. I’m a better person because of my association with all of you.

I hope you all can say the same about me.

* * * *

Hatred. It sounds like an ugly word, but the sound of it fails to adequately describe the depth of its hideousness.

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you’ll know that I do not like Donald Trump. One of my friends went so far as to say that I hate Trump. His comment hit me like a slap in the face because that’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about a lots of late.

Can that be true? Do I really hate President Trump?

My first response was, Hmm, I’m not sure that’s possible…

However, upon further review I realized that I hate Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham — and William Barr — so I’m clearly still capable of hating other human beings.

There’s a reason for that. Those three crepuscular blobs of puke and smegma have bartered their souls to support Donald Trump. There’s no doubt in my mind that all three of them know exactly what they’re doing, and that they also realize the full extent of how much they’ve compromised their principles in the process.

I don’t know how those three cocksuckers can look at themselves in the mirror.

Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, misogynistic, slob of a pig of a human being who is also the most corrupt and criminal President that has ever sat his fat ass in the chair behind the big desk in the Oval Office of the White House. And yet, I don’t think that I hate him.

There’s also a reason for that. I’m not sure that The Donald has complete control of his mental faculties anymore. I think he might have dementia, and because this is clearly a matter of national security, I think the best thing to do is perform an autopsy on him immediately, and settle this matter once and for all.

Come to think of it, we should also perform an autopsy on Mike Pence, just to make sure he actually has a brain.

* * * *

There are over 400 types of dementia, and they all suck. Dementia is a group of conditions characterised by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgement. Common symptoms include forgetfulness, of course, as well as limited social skills and altered thinking abilities that can be so significant that it interferes with daily functioning.

And there’s another thing you should know about dementia. It’s terminal. Yep, it’ll kill you to death and you’ll probably be so fuckin’ out of it that you won’t even know you got dead.

* * * *

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If, and only if the dementia factor is real, then Donald Trump suddenly becomes someone who is more far deserving of pity than he is of scorn and contempt. That said, it doesn’t acquit him of the criminal activities he has committed as President. When it comes to that, I think he knew exactly what he was doing.

Nor does it excuse his inflammatory words and discriminatory attitudes. That’s his baseline. Unfortunately, if he does have dementia, it’s only going to make those qualities worse.

And, he’s also a narcissist. So I’m sure this is what The Donald sees when he looks in the mirror:

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* * * *

I had been working as an RN for about a year when I was assigned to work with my first dementia patient. He was old white guy named Del who spent a lots of time standing in his bathroom staring into his mirror. One day he called me into his bathroom to tell me something important.

“Look! My friend is trapped in there, and I can’t get him out!! You’ve got to do something!!!” Del pointed at the mirror on the wall and his “friend.” And I had no idea what I was supposed to do. There’s nothing in the textbook that covers this.

Seeing how I had no idea what I was supposed to do, I did the stupidest possible thing I could have done in that situation. I tried to explain to Del that he was seeing his own reflection in the mirror. His “friend” wasn’t trapped in a parallel universe. His “friend” was him. And he was looking in a mirror.

While this might appear to be a reasonable response, Del looked at me like I was speaking to him in Chinese. And I was just standing there, not doing anything to help Del or his “friend.”

Seeing how I wasn’t going to do anything, Del reached up and ripped the mirror off the wall with his bear hands. It’s not an easy thing to do because the bathrooms on Pysch Units are designed to withstand being hit by a small nuclear bomb.

That’s when I did something. I took the mirror away from Del and turned it away from him so he couldn’t see his reflection anymore, and pointed at the wall.

“Look! You saved your friend! Damn! That was amazing, Del! Good job, buddy!”

* * * *

I have no idea how to end this post. It’s time to cue the music and let the band take us home. Fortunately, I have a song in mind. Today, it’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

The Year of Living Dangerously

If 2020 doesn’t end up being the strangest year of the New Millennium, it can mean only one thing. There’s another year, lurking somewhere out there in the darkness of the unforeseen future, that is going to sneak inside of the house, raid the refrigerator, trash the place, fuck everyone in the ass, then walk out the front door without even saying, “Thank you, have a nice day!”

Yeah, I suppose it’s something to look forward to. Just between you and me, I hope I’m not here to see it. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy the anal sex part.

* * * *

2020 has been fraught with peril for most of its existence thus far, and it’s only June! And it has come equipped with an impressive array of options designed to kick your ass. First, there was the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its attendant quarantines, lockdowns, restrictions, health precautions, and stuff.

There’s a huge list of reopening protocols for schools, businesses, and everything else that almost no one completely understands, so there’s a good chance you’ll get dead from this once it starts being rolled out in earnest.

In mid-April, some people grew tired of waiting to get dead from the Coronavirus, and started the anti-lockdown protests to speed up the process of more people dying to death. The protests were — believe it or not — worldwide.

In the United States, protesters opposed the shelter-in-place orders in their states for various reasons. Many said they wanted their businesses reopened so they could go back to work. Others insisted the lockdowns were a violation of their constitutional rights. I’m sure there were more…

The most publicized US protests were in Michigan where militant white “protesters” armed to the teeth with semiautomatic assault weapons stormed the state capitol, and shut down the legislature. These heavily armed patriots were, by and large, Trump supporters. A lots of them wore MAGA hats…  In response, The Donald said this in one of his tweets: …they seem to be very responsible people to me, and called them very good people. 

* * * *

But wait, there’s more! On April 17th, Trump fired off three tweets in rapid succession:

LIBERATE MINNESOTA!

LIBERATE MICHIGAN!

LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!

Those three states are led by Democrats. When interviewed about his comments, President Trump said his tweets weren’t meant to tell the states to lift their stay-at-home orders, but added some elements of the states’ plans to halt the spread of the virus had gone too far. I’m not sure if he ever tried to clarify what he meant by that last part.

Regarding his last tweet Trump charged that in Virginia, “…they want to take their guns away.” The state’s governor, Ralph Northam, had signed several gun-violence prevention measures such as requiring background checks on all firearms sales.

The governor didn’t sign any orders to confiscate so much as one firearm, but we all know what’s really going to happen, am I right? So The Donald was correct in his defense of 2nd Amendment because of all the issues that have presented themselves this year, gun violence in America hasn’t been one of them. Well, most of the time…  Am I right?

Donald Trump can rationalize his words and actions any way he likes, but the fact remains that the sitting President of the United States actually encouraged the American people to disobey a government mandated lockdown.

* * * *

Widely Known Fact About Law and Order That The Donald Obviously Doesn’t Understand: Those who uphold the law cannot themselves rebel against it.

* * * *

Remember the Murder Hornets? I know there was a lots of talk about them…  If there’s any good news about 2020, murder hornets are it. For something with a name that sounds like it came from the lowest level of Hell, they’ve probably been the only thing that won’t kill you to death this year.

* * * *

Ahmaud Arbery, Georgia. Breonna Taylor, Kentucky. George Floyd, Minnesota. They are only three of the names of people of color that have been killed to death by white vigilantes or police this year in the United States. The sad thing about this list is I’m sure it’s a helluvalot longer. The even sadder thing is this isn’t the only year I could make a list for.

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Ahmaud Arbery                                 Breonna  Taylor                                  George Floyd 

In truth, there have been 400 years of of racial inequality and injustice that black Americans have had to endure and overcome. Slavery. Jim Crow laws. The Civil Rights Movement. And wherever the fuck we are now. I’m not even sure how to describe it. It’s certainly better than the Slavery Era, but it still falls far short of All men are created equal, and liberty and justice for all.

For the record, I have no idea what it’s like to be black. To the best of my knowledge, I have never been discriminated against because of the color of my skin. I’m probably the last person who should be trying to tackle this issue.

Be that as it may, it’s about goddamn time that all Americans start speaking up and doing something to change the status quo. If you think having to endure a lockdown is violation of your civil rights, there are fates way worse. How would you react if you knew your children had a better than average chance of being murdered on any given day simply because of the color of their skin?

* * * *

In February of this fucked up year, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man, was shot to death while jogging in a neighborhood outside of Brunswick, Georgia, after being pursued by two white men in a pickup truck.

Those men were Gregory and Travis McMichael. They told the police that there had been “several break-ins” in the area recently, and they were trying to protect the neighborhood. Records from the Glynn County Police Department do not validate their claim. In more than seven weeks before the shooting, the only reported theft in the area was a 9mm pistol taken from Travis McMichael’s unlocked truck. 

Evidently these two very responsible, very good men started patrolling the streets in their truck, looking for the person that had walked off with Travis McMichael’s handgun, even though they had no idea who that person might be.

So, the father and son duo of half-cocked vigilantes were patrolling the streets. They saw Ahmaud Arbery jogging and demanded that he stop so they could question him. They would tell the police that they had planned to make a citizen’s arrest related to the string of burglaries.

Both of the men were armed, so Mr. Arbery wisely chose not to comply with their…request, and tried to run away from any trouble. The McMichaels pursued him in their truck, blocking off his escape. There was a struggle between Ahmaud and Gregory. At least three shots were fired, the fatal shot being fired by Travis.

The video is available online, if you have the stomach to watch it. After it was posted, it created an immense uproar that ultimately led to both of the McMichaels being arrested and charged with murder on May 7th — more than two months after the shooting occurred.

I can’t find any evidence that Mr. Arbery had a criminal record, or was even considered a person of interest in any ongoing investigations. He appears to have been a decent man who liked to jog. He wanted to become an electrician and open open his own business. He was 25 years old.

* * * *

On March 13th, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by three white plainclothes officers on the Louisville Metro Police Department while she was sleeping in her bed. The police were serving what they call a no-knock warrant, and were searching for drugs.

The police were investigating a known drug dealer named Jamarcus Glover, whom they already had in custody. Taylor and Glover had once dated each other, but that relationshiphad ended several years ago, and the two of them were no longer romantically involved.

According to the police, they thought Glover was using Taylor’s apartment as a drug/money delivery house. That’s why they decided to raid it in force in the middle of the night.

Breonna’s current live-in boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, thought someone was breaking into their apartment on the night in question. He called 911, grabbed his handgun which he has a license to carry, and fired at the intruders in the living room. He hit one of the officers in the leg. Walker says the police didn’t identify themselves after they smashed in the door with a battering ram, and he was only defending himself.

The police say that they absolutely, positively identified themselves as police officers after they entered the apartment. When Mr. Walker fired at them, they returned fire, discharging their weapons at least twenty times, yet somehow managed to miss the man who had fired at them every time. However, their hail of bullets did hit Breonna eight times. She died in the hallway of her apartment.

I don’t want to diminish the seriousness of this event in any way, but if this had happened on TV, or in a movie, we would immediately know who the Bad Guys were because they are always really bad shots in a gunfight.

There’s going to be a HUGE lawsuit over this incident. There two are vastly conflicting accounts of what happened that night. At this moment in time, we don’t know exactly what happened, but we do know this: someone is lying.

No drugs were found in the apartment. Kenneth Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer and assault. Those charges have since been dropped, so that should tell you something. Prior to that night, neither Breonna Taylor nor Kenneth Walker had any criminal history or arrest records.

None of the officers involved in Breonna’s shooting have been relieved of their duties at the time that I write this. None of them have been arrested or charged with any crimes, but the entire Louisville Metro Police Department will undergo a thorough “top to bottom” review of its policies and procedures.

No doubt wholescale changes will be instituted when it is completed. And Breonna Taylor’s family is going to end up owning half of the city of Louisville.

Breonna Taylor was a certified EMT who was working as an emergency room technician and was planning to go back to school to become a NICU nurse. By all accounts, she was a good person who lived to help others. She was 26 years old.

* * * *

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, died in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed face down in the street.

Two other officers further restrained Mr. Floyd, and another stood by, preventing onlookers from intervening. Throughout the arrest process Mr. Floyd repeatedly said that he could not breathe. During the last three minutes of the arrest Mr. Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, but officers made no attempt to revive him. Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck even as EMT’s attempted to treat him. 

George Floyd was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. There’s going to be an equally huge lawsuit as a result of this incident, too.

There were several videos of Mr. Floyd’s arrest and death posted on social media. Protests of his killing spread all across the nation, but in Minneapolis the protests quickly escalated into riots.

Again, I don’t want to diminish the tragedy of this event, but 70% of the people living in Minneapolis have already finished their Christmas shopping.

And it wasn’t just Minneapolis. At least 12 major cities declared a curfew on the evening of Saturday, May 30, and as of June 2, governors in 24 states and Washington, D.C, had called in the National Guard, with over 17,000 troops being activated. 

Stores were looted. Buildings were burned to the ground, including the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct — the police station where the four officers involved in the death of George Floyd were headquartered.

All four of the police officers involved in the death of George Floyd were fired the following day. Today, Derek Chauvin was charged with one count of second-degree murder, and the three other officers on scene during the killing of Mr. Floyd were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

* * * *

Lea and I used to live in South Minneapolis. The former 3rd Precinct building is one and a half miles from our old house. The scenes of the destruction to the area we know so well have been extremely distressing and heartbreaking for us to watch. To say that we are saddened by these events is a major understatement.

Speaking for myself, I can’t condone the actions of the protesters — the looting and destruction of property — two wrongs don’t make a right, but I understand their anger and their outrage. And I sure as hell cannot condone the murder of an unarmed man by police officers. If the police had handled their responsibilities better, there wouldn’t have been a fucking riot.

* * * *

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I can only hope that the right people are listening now, and are motivated to make critical changes to yet another American system that is in serious need of being overhauled.

Unfortunately, the one person that needed to hear this message most seems to be incapable of understanding anything that doesn’t revolve around his perception of his approval ratings.

In response to the Ahmaud Arbery murder President Trump said this, “I think it’s horrible and it’s certainly being looked at by many people – I’m speaking to many people about it…” But he added this, “You know, it could be something that we didn’t see on tape,” suggesting that something could have happened off-camera that contributed to the shooting.

And that unseen thing would make the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed man who was jogging down the street somehow less horrible?

I can’t find anything Trump said or tweeted in response to Breonna Taylor’s death.

In response to the Minneapolis riots, which were a response to George Floyd’s death, Donald Trump had this to say on the Twitter:

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Look! The Twitter almost grew a set of balls!

* * * *

In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” during hearings about crime in the city he was supposed to serve and protect.

Little Known Fact About Walter Headley That’s Probably Not Too Hard to Believe: He had a long history of bigotry against the black community.

* * * *

When questioned about his statement, The Donald had no clue about its origin or history, which leads me to believe that he thinks he invented it, and was probably very pleased with his cleverness as he wrote it, sitting on the toilet in Oval Office.

After realizing that he had fucked up yet again, The Donald tried to redeem himself by posting this tweet:

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See? I tried to warn you! You stupid people

* * * *

Heavily armed Trump supporters protesting the lockdown terrorize the Michigan legislature are very responsible, good people. Unarmed people in a Democratic state protesting the death of unarmed black man by white police officers are THUGS, and the President threatened to shoot them down like dogs.

The scary part about this is some of the more unhinged, lunatic fringe Trump supporters might interpret this as a call to arms. If that happens, we’re all going to wish we could go back to the good old days when all we did was complain about being locked up in our houses so we wouldn’t get killed to death by an imaginary pandemic.

* * * *

But wait, there’s more. As usual with The Donald, he couldn’t screw up just once. And also as usual, it gets worse.

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What?!? Did they run out of candy already?

On May 31, the lights inside the White House were turned off for the first time since 1889, and President Trump, the First Lady, and her son, Barron, took shelter in a reinforced bunker under the White House when anti-racism protesters laid siege to the presidential estate.

This is the same guy who, in 2018, said he believed he would take courageous action in an active shooter situation, even if he didn’t have weapon. President SuperDonald has a new nickname now:

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I like leaders who don’t hide in a bunker. I’m very disappointed in Donald Trump

Officially, the Secret Service said they decided to move the President to the bunker to protect him from the unarmed group of protesters that at no time tried to breach the White House grounds. The Donald had quite a bit to say about how impressed he was with the Secret Service while he was hiding in the bunker with his teddy bear.

You can look it up.

Not to mention that the White House is probably the most well-protected piece of real estate in the the world — Trumped actually bragged about what would’ve happened to the protesters if they had tried to enter the White House.

You can look that up, too.

On June 1, President Trump re-emerged from hiding to speak in the Rose Garden as peaceful protesters were violently expelled near the White House. Law enforcement teams used chemical agents, flash bangs, and shields to disperse the demonstrators.

The crowd was cleared to open a path to St. John’s Church, a historic building slightly damaged by a fire amid Sunday’s clashes between police and protesters. In front of the church Trump spoke and postured with a Bible in his hands — and denied that he ever retreated to the bunker.

Yes. That was his message of comfort to the grieving citizens of the United States.

And then, officially, just like that! President SuperDonald Trump wasn’t hiding in a bunker. The Secret Service didn’t move him for his protection. He was inspecting the bunker…during a riot… because, you know, “…someday you may need it.”

* * * *

When Donald Trump was running for President, many people looked at him as a breath of fresh air. He wasn’t a professional politician, he was a businessman. He was a Washington outsider who wouldn’t play by the rules! It couldn’t be any worse than the same old/same old bullshit of the previous administrations, and seriously, how bad could things get?

We should all know the answer to that question by now.

Yes, he was a businessman, but he was a businessman that declared bankruptcy four times. And one of his businesses was a fucking casino! How bad do you have to be to lose money with a casino?

The house always wins. Anyone who has ever been to Las Vegas knows that mantra, and there’s a reason for that.

It’s true!

Among world leaders, Donald Trump has proven himself to be a laughstock and a national embarrassment. He has insulted every other world leader, except two: Vladimir Putin, dictator of Russia, and Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea — two men who would kill every man, woman, and child in their countries if it meant they could stay in power for five more minutes.

The Donald loves these guys! He can’t say enough good things about them, and he kisses their asses every chance he gets.

President Trump has bailed out American farmers twice to the tune of $28 billion, something he had to do because of his disastrous trade wars with China. After he bungled his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he bailed out the entire country with a $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

Anyone want to take a wild guess how we’re going to pay for that?

Roughly $500 billion went to American households in the form of $1200 checks that were supposed to support families for ten weeks, or more. The rest of the money went to small businesses and large corporations. The Donald spent far more money saving Wall Street than he did Main Street.

When asked about racial inequality, President Trump stated, “… there’s no racial tension [in America]. We have a fantastic relationship with the African American community…” And when he was given the opportunity to be a leader to people who feel that they’ve been betrayed by every leader since Abraham Lincoln, Donald Trump threatened to shoot them to bits, then fled into the nearest secret bunker to hide like no President before him ever has.

When he finally emerged to present himself as Comforter-in-Chief, he unleashed violence on the people he has a fantastic relationship with so he could have a photo opportunity in front of a church with a Bible in his hands. A Bible that he can’t name a single verse out of.

I’ve got a verse for you, Mr. Trump. It’s the shortest verse in the Bible, so even you should be able to remember it.

John 11:35.

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Jesus wept

Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons

Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons is a collection of essays, reviews, short travel accounts, and human interest stories written by Kurt Vonnegut. He was one of my favorite authors back in the day. He had a wicked sharp sense of what is called black humor in the Biz.

He’s one of the few authors that made me laugh out loud when I was reading his work.

Just in cases you were wondering, a wampeter is an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve. Foma are harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls. A granfalloon is a proud and meaningless association of human beings.

I’m not sure if any of those things are going to end up being in this post. I haven’t been writing much lately. I haven’t even been trying to write. At this point in time, I’m not sure I’m ever going to finish this post. And, of course, there’s a reason for that.

* * * *

I bruised my coccyx on the golf course on May 17th. I could try to explain what happened, but it was a tricksy mishap that involved one golf cart, one wrong turn, and something like unto a ski jump.

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It was like unto this, except I ended up with a golf cart halfway up my ass

Ever since that happened, I sit down as carefully as a hen incubating a nest full of vials of nitroglycerin. I try to plan every set of moves I make, hoping I won’t put any undue pressure on my coccyx. It’s been surprising to me how many movements do. It’s also made writing this post all but impossible.

Have you ever tried writing anything of substance when you’re not sitting down?

* * * *

Another reason that I’ve taken a break from writing is I’ve been writing way too much about American politics in general, and Donald Trump in specific. And that’s pretty much the last thing I wanted to do when I decided to start writing my blog four years ago.

Unlike The Donald, I fact check everything I write when I make disparaging comments about him, or any other politician for that matter. Being an investigative reporter looks like a lots of fun on TV, but the reality of it is much less glamorous.

Research, like unto cunnilingus, is dark and lonely work. And it’s a lots less fun.

And in the case of Donald Trump, it’s probably pointless. His supporters won’t believe anything negative about their awesome leader because their faith in him is absolute. And his detractors will believe anything that puts The Donald in an unfavorable light because their contempt for him is equally absolute.

Nothing really changes. I’m wasting my time, and I know it. But one of the things that doesn’t change is the fact that Donald Trump is the most corrupt President in the history of the United States, and he needs to be held accountable for all of his crimes.

And I cannot stop myself from protesting his presence in the Oval Office. I will continue to voice my opposition to him until he is no longer the President. So I really hope that happens this November.

That said, here I go again…

* * * *

I know I’ve said this before: I don’t understand how anyone can support Donald Trump — unless you’re a rich white man — then, it’s understandable. You can say what you want about The Donald, but he has gone out of his way to take care of that demographic. But the above stated qualifier eliminates probably 95% of the people who hang on his every lying-ass word. Maybe more.

Additionally, if you are a Trump supporter, there’s no sin you can commit that’s too egregious for The Donald to pardon. You can look it up if you’re interested.

But the most confusing group of all the non-rich Trump supporters are women, and the even more most confusing group of Trump-supporting women are white, Christian Evangelicals. These women are not known for their laid-back attitudes about, well, pretty much anything.

Forgive and forget? Forget that! Live and let live? Only if you’re a God-fearing member of the Antioch Baptist Church. All the rest of you goddamn sinners can go straight to Hell where you belong!!

And yet, despite their well documented hatred for everything not Biblically endorsed, they love misogynistic Donald Trump like they love Jesus, their grandchildren, and apple pie.

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It’s too bad she didn’t actually say this. I’d take back some of the things I’ve said about her

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, white evangelicals are more likely than other Americans to say the term morally upstanding adequately describes Donald Trump despite his numerous marital infidelities and his even more numerous allegations of sexual impropriety.

They see Donald Trump as honest, even though several reputable news organizations estimate that President Trump has made close to 20,000 incorrect statements and outright lies during his time in office. Compare that to Barack Obama who averaged a little more than two falsehoods a year while he was President.

Almost two-thirds of white evangelicals see Trump as at least somewhat religious, despite his use of profanity, his sporadic church attendance, and his evident unfamiliarity with the Bible.

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This is beyond mind boggling, it’s nothing short of mind blowing

* * * *

One of my very Christian female friends posted something on Facebook about the Democrats being absolutely giddy because: the American economy has tanked, unemployment numbers are somewhere out in the stratosphere, and Trump’s popularity ratings have plummeted. All because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

Oh, and we all need to pray for President Trump because he’s God’s anointed — the greatest leader of the greatest country since David was the King of Israel. And Donald Trump has to lead America out of the hazards created by this…plague. So the Democrats don’t end up in the Oval Office again, or something…

* * * *

Evidently Little Known Fact About King David and Biblical Plagues: There are approximately 120 times the term plague is used in the Bible. David was mentioned 971 times, the second most for any person.

Every time God decided to unleash a plague, He did so because He was almighty angry about something and/or someone. Therefore, every time He sent a plague, He sent it as a punishment.

David was Israel’s greatest king, and was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was beloved by God, and this is how many plagues God sent to punish David: Zero. None. Zilch. Nada.

As noted earlier, Evangelicals are capable of ignoring facts whenever it’s convenient for them, so it’s not inconceivable that they could also ignore this Biblical certainty.

* * * *

I doubt that God was paying any attention to the election in 2016, but if the Coronavirus pandemic was sent by him, He’s clearly not pleased with much of anything going on down here right now. And that would include everyone’s favorite President and part-time golfer, Donald Trump. Oh wait, I forgot. The Donald doesn’t take any responsibility for this mess. This is all Obama’s fault!

Let’s reverse engineer the above mentioned Democratic gleefest: the Republicans wouldn’t be giddy if this had happened to President Obama? Yeah, right. I’m going to buy that when American politics has essentially become a partisan team sport. The Elephants vs. The Donkeys. The winner gets the White House and the losing team tries to steal the winning team’s signs so they can get an advantage in the next election.

One of my female friends is not a devout Christian, but she is a devout Republican. She hates all things and persons of the Democratic persuasion. Her comments on my political posts on my Facebook page have been scathing. And, well, stupid.  How we’ve managed to stay friends is beyond me. She said she was planning on coming down for a visit, but now I hope she was just talking out of her ass and never shows up here.

The bottom line is this: the partisan divide is going to be the thing that destroys America. Not the Coronavirus. Not the Great Quarantine. Not Rock and Roll music. Not the hippies. Not the Russians. Or the Chinese. Or even the Mexicans.

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Americans are going to destroy America

It’s so fucking stupid I lack the words to describe the idiocy of it all.

* * * *

Can anyone explain the Folgers® commercial to me? I don’t know which commercial is showing in the States, but here in Mexico we’ve been seeing the one with the woman walking to the shower on Canadian TV.

You’ve got something up your sleeve  Seriously, her expression indicates that she’s planning on doing something in the shower that would make a pornstar blush.

What you didn’t know was you were surprising your father-in-law, Steve  Who just happens to look like he’s in an ambulatory coma. If her husband takes after his father, that would help to explain what she might have had up her sleeve…

So much for Plan A. Thank God that choir of people popped up in her bathroom and poured her a cup of coffee.

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If seeing this doesn’t make you want to buy Folgers®, I don’t know what will

I’ve seen a lots of stupid commercials in my lifetime, but this one just might be the best of the worst.

* * * *

I don’t know what you’ve been doing to occupy your time during the lockdown, but when I haven’t been injuring what’s left of my spinal column, I’ve been randomly watching videos on the YouTube®.

One of them was an educational video about a large breasted woman buying a bra. I know, right! I didn’t know I’d be interested in that kind of stuff either!! Somewhat Interesting Note: women don’t call their breasts tits. That appears to be more of a guy term. Women call them boobs, or boobies.

And there’s another thing I didn’t know: If you have regular sized boobs, bras are beautiful, lacey, gossamer creations with adorable names: The Penelope. The Cassandra. And The Cherub’s Kiss.

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See? I told you

If you have an epic set of tits, bras are utilitarian, steel-belted, substantial contraptions, and the adorable names are gone: The Iron Curtain. The Grand Coulee. And The Arnold.

And a well made bra is not cheap. Given the amount of material needed, they are ridiculously expensive. It just goes to show you never know what you’re going to learn on the Interweb. 

* * * *

Another thing I’ve started watching is automobile restoration shows on TV, which is ironic. I became a nurse because I had no interest in becoming a mechanic. I know nothing about fixing cars. I don’t even know how to check the blinker fluid. But much like home renovation shows, which is another skill I don’t possess, I’m fascinated by every aspect of car restoration.

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🎼Baby, you🎶 can fix🎶my car🎶

Wheeler Dealers. All Girls Garage. FantomWorks. The Guild Garage. I love them all. They almost make me want to buy a whole lots of Snap-on® tools, a couple of welding goldarn things, and build a garage.

Maybe I’ll be an auto restoring/home renovating/rockstar/psych nurse in my next life. I have no idea how reincarnation really works, but it probably doesn’t hurt to do a little planning for the future.

I’ve been really lucky considering that I didn’t make many plans for much of anything in my current life. But you should never rely on being lucky all of the time.

Luck has a way of running out on you, just when you need it most.

The Waiting Game

Waiting Game is a hit song by the English pop group, Swing Out Sister. Rumor has it that Swing Out Sister was the only thing the members could agree on when they were trying to come up with a name for their group, and all of them agreed that they hated it.

SOS has had a number of hit songs over the years: Breakout, Surrender, Twilight World, and my personal favorite, Am I the Same Girl?

The answer is: Yes I am, yes I am. Just in cases you were wondering.

Their songs have catchy melodies. And Corinne Drewery has some serious pipes. I have several of their songs in various playlists. You can find their videos on the YouTube® if you’re interested. Or bored, which is highly probable.

My lovely supermodel wife was so bored yesterday that she washed both of our cars. It’s something she hasn’t done in more than a decade.

* * * *

How’s it going out there in Quarantine Land? Today is the 175th day of the month of April. Yeah, that is what it feels like. And I actually like staying at home. Vehicles equipped with loudspeakers have been cruising the streets here in the Lakeside Area broadcasting messages in English and Spanish, telling everyone to stay at home. But if you must leave your home, you better have a facemask on to avoid infection, fines, and death.

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Have a nice day! ¡Que tengas un buen dia!

Lea made masks for us a couple of weeks ago. She said they were easy to construct, and she was happy to do it. Good thing. We might be using them for the rest of the year. Maybe longer, you know, like, the rest of our lives.

The world has changed, has it not? And when this whole Coronavirus thing ends, it will not return to the way it used to be. I don’t think any of us can yet see the full impact this is going to make, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be significant.

I was skeptical about the Coronavirus initially. I thought everyone was overreacting when they started talking about social distancing, isolating at home, quarantine precautions, and cancelling every interesting sporting event on the planet until further notice.

I’m no longer skeptical, but I am bummed out that March Madness, the Masters, and, yes, every other sporting event for this year has been cancelled, postponed, or will be rescheduled for a much later date. Even the Summer Olympics!

Many of the articles I’ve read talk about extending the precautions, not shortening them or, God forbid, ending them. I’m sure this will all end someday, but I’m no longer sure that it will end soon.

We’ve been planning a trip back to the States. We were originally hoping for April. Then we were shooting for May. It’s starting to look like June, but it might not happen until July or August the way things are going.

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These advertisements sum up the current state of affairs very succinctly

A couple of our friends were planning on coming down to visit us this year. Maybe they’ll be able to get here by September, but possibly, not until next year…

* * * *

One of the things you have to adjust to when you retire is suddenly having a lots of idle time on your hands. I guess some of you could think of this time as a preview of what your retirement life will be like. If you find you’re not enjoying it much, do yourself a favor and start rethinking your plans for the future now.

Todd, Lea and I have been trying to keep ourselves busy with various projects and hobbies. Todd has been working on several goldarn things in the workshop. I know because he’s been using a variety of power tools.

Lea has reading books on her Kindle®. A lots of books. And she instituted Operation Opossum. She feeds the herd of opossums that stroll through our backyard at night. Fortunately, opossums eat almost anything, so they’re easy to feed. She even named two of them: Ollie and Opie.

If you want to know anything about opossums, ask Lea. She’s probably read two books about them by now.

* * * *

Todd created Operation Oranges for Orioles. He started by hanging oranges in the tree where Lea has her hummingbird feeder. That worked great, until the goddamn squirrels started devouring the oranges.

So we built a small wooden platform and put it in the triangle garden at the far end of the swimming pool. The birds are happy. The squirrels don’t dare come that far into the yard.

Mischief managed.

* * * *

Todd and Lea have been cooking their asses off in the kitchen. Let me tell you something, it is hell having to be quarantined with two chefs!

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The Swedish Chef and Christy Turlington. She really does look like Lea

Kind of by accident, I started listening to cooking shows on TV. I’ve listened to all the home improvement shows multiple times, and I was getting bored with them. I don’t actually do any home improvement, so it’s not like I needed to master any of the things they do. I don’t actually cook either, but Lea and Todd started watching the cooking shows. And they say things, like, Ooh! That looks like that would be fun to make!

Maybe it wasn’t an accident…

* * * *

I’ve been making sure everything is clean and tidy, and running smoothly here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We’ve had a couple of issues with the pool. All I have to do is call our property manager, Jaime Mendoza, and let him know something needs to be repaired, and he takes care of everything else.

The solar heater for the pool seems to be about as reliable as the LG refrigerator we used to have. It’s been repaired once already this year, and needs to be repaired again. The guy who installed it, and already repaired it, is supposed to be here today. We’ll see if he actually shows up. Then we’ll see how long it takes to get the heater running again. And finally, we’ll see how long this repair will last…

We’ve been hanging out on the patio a lot lately, and seeing how we’ve all been spending so much time out there, Todd and I put our heads and resources together, and we constructed a stereo system on the patio to listen to music while we do stuff outside.

I had an Aiwa® receiver/CD player, but no speakers. Then Todd remembered he had a big box with two sets of Sony® speakers and a subwoofer, somewhere. All we had to do was figure out where he put them.

We did. The patio stereo sounds pretty damn good, but I think we need at least two more speakers to make it perfect. Four would be better, but I’ll settle for two. Todd hasn’t had anything to say about my idea because Lea thinks I’m out of my fucking mind, and he, wisely, doesn’t want to do anything to piss her off.

* * * *

For me, this quarantine experience has been like unto Retirement 2.0. I have idle time that I can’t fill with any of the activities I used to do because I had nothing else to do. Like, golf. My golf course closed at the beginning of April. It will reopen again when the lockdown ends, whenever that might be.

I’ve had to resort to gardening to fill the hours until we’re given the green light to resume our lives again. I’ve written about my experiences with gardening before. In short, it involved drinking beer and playing in the dirt.

Now, it’s just playing in the dirt. And it’s become a bit of an obsession for me. It started innocently enough. I repotted a few plants on the patio because I hadn’t paid enough attention to them and they were more or less dead.

That’s on me. I never should have ignored my responsibilities for my plants. Our maid, Monica, waters the plants when she cleans the patio, but I think she’s kind of hit or miss when it comes to watering. Her main focus is cleaning.

I’ve got my mind right now. I’m refocused, and I won’t falter in my duties again. I replanted the patio plants that weren’t completely dead in the backyard gardens, and it all went downhill from there. I spent all of last weekend working in the gardens, which was just about the stupidest thing I could do.

My back and my right knee filed for divorce from me on Monday.

* * * *

My back has been a major pain in my… back… for about the last week. Normally, it’s my lower back that bothers me. Now, it’s almost my entire spine from the third thoracic vertebrae my to my sacrum and coccyx.

I can’t sit for more than a few minutes. And moving around doesn’t always do much of anything to decrease my level of pain. I eat Motrin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It helps, but nothing makes the pain completely go away. Swinging a golf club appears to have been doing my back far more good than I realized.

I’ve been working on this post for five days because I can only write one or two paragraphs at a time, and then I have to take a break. If I’m fortunate, I might finish it sometime this week.

* * * *

Okay, back to gardening…  I’m not a master gardener. I’m more of a Chance the Gardener — from the Jerzy Kosiński novel, Being There. It was also made into a movie starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine.

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If you’re not interested in reading the novel, you can watch the movie. I love it

For those of you that don’t know, Chance was the original Forrest Gump. They’re both slow-witted, kind-hearted guys, and they both unwittingly influence everything that goes on around them. I resemble two of those three attributes.

I’m not a smart man, but I know a couple of things about playing in the dirt. Annual flowering plants are a quick way to add a lots of color to your garden. If you buy mature plants. And in a temperate climate, there’s a good chance these plants will automatically reseed themselves from year to year.

Further proof that I’m neither smart, nor a master gardener: I didn’t buy plants. I bought a bunch of packets of seeds. I’ve had some impressive results with marigold  and delphinium seeds down here, so I figured I’d have equal success with other flower seeds. All you have to do is sow them and abracadabra!

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See? I told you

I don’t know what kind of flower seeds I bought. The descriptions were in Spanish, and I was too lazy to translate the words. But the pictures showed pretty flowers. And that’s what I wanted. Pretty flowers with a lots of splashes of colors.

I picked three prime spots in the gardens, and I call them prime because other flowers were already growing around them. I cleared the areas, carefully planted my seeds, and watered them daily for a week. And not one flower sprouted. It’s probably closing in on two weeks as I write this, and I still haven’t seen anything that looks like unto a fucking flower shooting up out of the ground in those areas.

Todd says it’s possible they’ll sprout later this year, or even weirder, next year. I don’t doubt that he’s right, he knows far more about this stuff than I do. However, marigold seeds do not behave thusly. You throw them in the ground and they start growing immediately! All I know is that I’m incredibly bummed out right now.

Seeing no need to make any special preparation for my remaining seed packets, I picked a neglected corner of the gardens where nothing was growing – not even weeds – and dumped all of my remaining seeds on the ground, and watered it periodically.

I ended up with two hundred flower sprouts growing in about a ten inch by ten inch area. Yeah, of course that method worked. So, yes, I had amazing success, but no one needs that many flowers growing in a small area in a part of the garden that no one can see without a map and a pair of binoculars.

That’s how I ended up working in the garden for the entire weekend. I spent hours moving random groups of baby plants to multiple areas throughout the gardens. And I water the gardens daily. In a few months, maybe more, our gardens are going to look better than they ever have since we moved in. Maybe better than they ever have, period.

* * * *

Another thing we don’t do is go out to eat at any of the fabulous restaurants here in the Lakeside Area. We did that once after the Coronavirus precautions went into place. Our youngest daughter, Abigail, grounded us. On social media. From Minnesota.

* * * *

Social media has been both a blessing and a curse for me during this time. It’s been a blessing because I can stay connected to everyone that doesn’t hang out with me here in the living room. It’s been a curse because not all news is good news.

* * * *

Our very good friend from Arizona, Nikki Scheidecker, had a stroke last week. That came as a huge, unpleasant surprise to everyone that knows her. She’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and she’s only 45. It was described as a minor stroke, but she spent the better part of a week in ICU on IV medications trying to get her blood pressure under control.

I’m not a real nurse, but this doesn’t sound like a minor stroke to me.

Her husband, Justin, has been sending out daily updates on her status via Facebook. She was moved out of ICU today, and now her rehab can begin. We wish you the best of success, Nikki. And know that you are in our thoughts and prayers for a complete recovery.

* * * *

The other Curse of Social Media has been all of the political posts. I’ve been trying to decide how deep I want to wade into the mud, slime and ooze in this post. I just took a shower, and I’m loathe to get dirty again.

I don’t post a whole lots of political posts, but if I see something funny, I’ll probably share it. I’m not a political expert, I see myself as more of a political dilettante. I despise Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsey Graham. And all the rest of the Republicans. But I’m not in love with the Democrats by any means. I think both political parties suck ass, and all of the current members of Congress need to be sent packing.

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I found this newsflash to be especially outrageous, and shared it on the Facebook

The average American household lives paycheck to paycheck. The $1200 stimulus checks that some families will receive is a drop in the bucket compared to what they really need to keep their heads above water if they are unable to earn a living during this crisis.

If you make more than $99,000 to $198,000, depending on how you file your taxes, you’re not even eligible for a stimulus check. Unless you happen to be one of the above noted select number of millionaires.

President Trump fired the man who was supposed to oversee the disbursement of stimulus funds. And he has gone on record saying that he will not adhere to a portion of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would authorize an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent.

* * * *

I foolishly thought that something The Donald did would have to backfire with his supporters. I figured this would be the something that even they couldn’t ignore.

I was wrong.

Donald Trump owns his supporters; heart and mind, body and soul. He could take a shit on their living room floor, and they would have it hermetically sealed and preserved to proudly display on their mantle. And their friends would be envious.

His hold on his supporters is bulletproof against logic, facts, and the truth because there is only one arbiter of the truth. Donald Trump. And EVERYONE else is lying. I don’t know what he put in his Kool-Aid, but that stuff is 100 proof.

Today, The Donald suggested injecting disinfectants into your veins as a possible treatment for COVID-19. This is his quote: “…And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.”

Roll up your sleeves and bend over, bitches. Trump supporters, you can jump to the front of the line. We don’t mind. After all, this is your boy talking here, and he can do no wrong.

I can’t wait to see how Dr. Donald’s Miracle Treatment works on you.

* * * *

There ended up being a fair amount of discussion on my Facebook post, both pro and con. And then the personal attacks began from the Trump supporters. It’s what their hero does all the time, so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same.

One guy chimed in that I live in a shithole country, and I should just keep my mouth shut. He’s never been to Mexico, but he’s heard a lots of stories…

A couple of people wondered if I was going to get a stimulus check. The answer is no, there are people who need the money far more than I do, like, a forty thousand millionaires who need to keep making payments on their McMansions, and their vacation homes in the Hamptons. And they have car payments on their BMW’s and Mercedes.

Someone suggested that I was jealous. Nice try, but I live in a gringo mansion in the middle of Paradise, that came equipped with a gardener and a maid. And I pay less for all of that a month than you do for the house you live in that doesn’t have a support staff.

I covet nothing. I have nothing to be jealous of.

I understand the need and the hardships that people are going through. We’ve made donations to more than one of the local food banks, as well as more than one of the local organizations that are trying to help all of the people that have been unable to provide for their families because they can’t work right now.

Hey Jealousy, can you say the same?

That same person added that some Mercedes and BMW vehicles are made in the USA. They’re probably made in China, too. What’s your point? Our Buick Encore was made in South Korea. It doesn’t mean, or even prove anything.

* * * *

Pop Quiz!

Pick the American car company because you want to Buy American:

A.) Toyota

B.) Mercedes

C.) Chevrolet

D.) BMW

Please take the quiz and leave a comment. I’ll post the results.

* * * *

And then the guy that suggested I was jealous implied that I was having sex with our maid. This guy has been a friend of mine since the 1970’s. We’re probably still friends, but it’s not the same anymore. I doubt it ever will be.

So, well done, my friend. You successfully defended a man who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you if you were on fire. And he sure as hell wouldn’t let you be a member of any of his country clubs.

Big deal! I don’t play golf, so I don’t care!

No, you probably don’t. And once again, you’ve missed my point entirely.

I’m a guy. I might forget that you hit me below the belt, Bill. But I will never forgive you for doing it.

¡Que tengas un buen dia, pinche culero!

Blind Faith

Blind Faith was an English rock supergroup featuring Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech. Just in cases you didn’t know, these guys aren’t mere rockstars, they are rock superstars.

The band was eagerly anticipated by the music press in 1969 as a continuation of Clapton and Baker’s former group, Cream, and Winwood’s former group, Traffic. They produced one goddamn album before disbanding to pursue other projects. But it was a pretty good album.

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The original, controversial Blind Faith album cover, which was replaced by the featured image of the band members above

It was probably the last time the words ‘blind faith’ had any kind of positive connotation.

* * * *

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I posted this on my Facebook page the other day because I just can’t wrap my head around a couple of things about The Donald and his presidency. The first is I can’t believe that anyone would support him. The second is the unshakable devotion of his supporters.

Most of the comments on my FB post were from my friends who aren’t Trump supporters. There’s a reason for that. I unfriended almost everyone on Facebook who supports Trump, unless I actually know them.

One of my friends who supports Trump, Deb Gessell Gammon, had this to say:

Really, I follow Trump because he can at least say the name of Jesus. We all have said not a perfect human being, not even close. Neither am I but he at least tries. Jesus is my King…..Trump is my president. I will pray for him in Jesus’ name. Amen

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Me: I am a registered Republican. But I haven’t voted for a Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan. So for all of you that think I’m some kind of bleeding heart liberal pinko commie bastard, you’re wrong about most of that.

* * * *

Deb is my cousin. She’s probably my favorite from that group of cousins on my mother’s side of the family tree. She’s kind of a smartass, like me, but she’s probably nicer than I am. Because I like and respect Deb, this post is going to be my rebuttal to her statement on my Facebook page.

I doubt that I can be completely objective in my argument, but I’m going to try. I hope that anyone reading this will also try to be objective. And I also welcome comments and points of view from my readers who have anything to add.

I invited the handful of Trump supporters I have in my Friends List to read this when I finish it, and I’ve had a few people tell me they’re looking forward to it with eager anticipation, so I better get my ass in gear…

And Deb, just so we understand each other, I know that nothing I say is going to make you change your mind or the way you feel. So you don’t have to feel bad because you still think I’m full of shit.

* * * *

We all have said not a perfect human being, not even close.

That appears to be the closest Trump’s supporters can come to admitting that The Donald has any faults. In that regard, his supporters are far more generous and forgiving of President Trump than those of us that don’t. We see him as a corrupt, dishonest, manipulative, racist/sexist piece-of-shit-pig in a suit.

That’s how the Fake News portrays him, and you snowflakes are just a bunch of sheep that believes anything!

I’ll concede the point that fair and unbiased news reporting is something that doesn’t exist anymore, and it probably died with Marco Polo. But I have a question. Was the news media always a corrupt bunch of liars, or is that something that only happened after Trump was elected? I can’t remember any other US President ever saying that before.

If this is a new phenomenon, then prior to The Donald all the news media did was kiss the ass of the President and they never, ever criticized anything that any of the previous presidents ever did. Except Obama. The press sucked his cock, too.

I think even Trump supporters have to admit that the press has taken their fair share of potshots at everyone that has ever sat behind the big desk in the Oval Office. It’s their job.

But before you all start complaining that there’s some huge conspiracy by the news media to make Donald Trump look like a fool, be careful, or you’ll find yourself in the same boat as all those people who claim they’ve been abducted by aliens. Or Bigfoot.

Or me. I’m the guy who believes God is flying through the galaxies in a spaceship.

No one has to do anything to make Donald Trump look like a fool. All you have to do is put him in front of a camera, and he does the rest. And I want you to consider something about the way The Donald blames the media for making him look bad.

He does it every time he gets portrayed in an unflattering light. He doesn’t do it every now and then. He doesn’t do it once in a blue moon. He does it every fucking time.

Imagine, if you can, that you are married to Donald Trump and this happens:

Deb: “I heard you were at the bar last night.”

Trump: “Oh yeah? Who did you hear that from?”

Deb: “My mom. And three of my sisters. And our neighbors. They said you were drunk and making out with Audrey Farber.”

Trump: “That’s fake news. It’s bullshit. Honey, I swear I wasn’t there and I didn’t do it. Who are you going to believe? Me? Or your mom and your bitchy sisters? You know they never liked me! They’re just trying to make me look bad!”

You get the idea. Now suppose something like unto this happened almost every day. If you were Mrs. Trump, how many times would you believe that your husband is the only one telling the truth about what really happened at the bar he wasn’t at?

Donald Trump has cheated on every wife he’s ever had. That’s not fake news, that’s a fact. He was paying hush money to a pornstar he had an affair with. Another fact. I’m a guy. I can actually understand some of the things he’s done. But consider this: I might be able to forgive my spouse if she had one affair. I know I couldn’t forgive more than one. 

Could you?

I have freely admitted that I’m not a good Christian. Trump’s supporters tend to identify themselves as people who are at least trying to be good Christians, and they are apparently ahead of the curve when it comes to accepting the flaws of other people and forgiving them when they fall astray. Except when those flawed people are Democrats.

Trump’s supporters appear to be staunchly anti-abortion because every life is sacred, right? They all want to be good Christians, and abortion is bad because the Bible says it’s bad. Even if it doesn’t, every life is sacred, especially lives lost when a Democrat was in the White House. I know that’s right because Trump supporters are still incensed about the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi when Obama was president.

That happened eight years ago. Does anyone even remember their names?

Trump’s supporters also tend to be huge supporters of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. Some of you might be aware of the problem the US has had with mass shootings and gun violence. But whenever there was a mass shooting, I don’t remember seeing many posts on social media about the tragedy and the loss of life from Trump supporters.

They appeared to be more concerned that no one better try to take their guns unless they wanted to get their goddamn ass kicked.

As of this precise moment in time 14,762 Americans have died from the Coronavirus, and I have yet to hear even one peep of outrage from Trump supporters about their deaths. Not. One. Fucking. Word.

So, do all lives matter or not?

Some of my anti-Trump friends want to blame the President for all of those Coronavirus-related deaths. I’m not one of them. Someone with a much higher pay grade than mine can sort that out. And I’ve already put in my two cents worth on how The Donald has mismanaged the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’m not here to provide you with all the answers. I’m here to give you a few more things to think about.

* * * *

As for whether or not The Donald is a criminal, it all depends on how you define the word criminal, doesn’t it. He is only the third President to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Hold it right there, Little Miss Muffet! He wasn’t impeached!

Yes, he was. That’s another fact.

Presidential impeachment is a two stage process. The House of Representatives meets to decide if any laws were broken. They did, and Donald Trump was charged with, and found guilty of, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress by the House on December 18, 2019. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can look it up yourself. 

The second stage of the impeachment process only happens if the President is found guilty by the House. Then there’s a trial in the Senate to determine if the President needs to be removed from office.

There is at least one thing you should know about impeachment. The US Constitution mandates that all senators take an impeachment oath, in which by Senate rules it is stated, “I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”

Prior to the Senate hearing even starting, Senator Mitch McConnell said there was “no chance” the Senate would convict Trump and remove him from office. Senator Lindsey Graham said this, “I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here … I will do everything I can to make [the impeachment trial] die quickly.” 

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I have no words to describe the level of contempt I have for these two assholes

* * * *

When Bill Clinton was impeached for getting a blowjob in the Oval Office, the White House provided more than 90,000 pages of documents and other information ahead of his trial.

In contrast, the Trump White House refused to comply with subpoenas for more than 70 records, and blocked at least 12 potential witnesses from testifying. Again, I’m not making this shit up, you can look it up on the Interweb.

* * * *

On February 5, 2020 the Senate voted to acquit President Trump of all charges, and all that means is he wasn’t removed from office. It doesn’t make his impeachment by the House of Representatives magically go away. What it probably really means is all the people that want to prosecute Donald Trump for all of the high crimes and misdemeanors that he’s committed as President will simply have to wait until he’s no longer President in order to do so.

I don’t think I have to be a prophet in order to predict that.

As of this precise moment in time, Donald Trump has appointed 193 federal judges to the bench while he’s been in office. When you consider what might happen when he’s no longer President, that number starts to make a whole lots more sense.

* * * *

Trump has enthusiastically denied any wrongdoing in any of his activities that have resulted in investigations into his behavior. No collusion, no conspiracy! No quid pro quo! It was a perfect conversation! Read the transcript!

I have another question. How many of you Trump supporter friends of mine have read the Mueller report? Or even a synopsis of it? How about the fabricated document that Trump called the transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy?

What? None of you have read any of them? Why is that? Because…Trump told you he wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing…and that’s all you needed to hear?

But all of us snowflakes are sheep…

Yeah, I see what you mean.

* * * *

Could we pick up the pace a little here? This quarantine isn’t going to last forever, and I have stuff to do. Donald Trump is not a racist. Or any more sexist than any other guy on the planet.

Once upon a time, way back when Deb and I were kids, the Gessell’s were the host family to a couple of foreign exchange students from Mexico, I think. I can’t remember their names, but I remember that I was an insufferable prick to those two kids. I teased them so much I made one of them cry.

I was probably around twelve years old at the time. I wasn’t being racist when I made fun of those Hispanic niños. I was an asshole, and I thought I was being funny at the time.

* * * *

Yes, I still remember that, Deb. That’s one of the downsides to being me. I can’t forget any of my sins. I’m pretty sure you and your sisters all wanted to kill me back then. So I have to admit I’m confused why you aren’t outraged by Trump’s behavior now?

Much like you, I admit to being a flawed human being. I’m sure I’ve done all of the things that I’ve pointed out as flaws in Donald Trump’s character, and probably worse. I’m not offended that The Donald is flawed, I’m offended that he’s unapologetically flawed.

You said in your Facebook post that at least you see him trying. I’m assuming you mean he’s trying to be a better person based on the context. I don’t see that. I see someone who, seriously, fucks up everything he touches, then blames someone else for the results. I don’t see the at least he tries person at all.

Maybe I do need new glasses…  And yes, I know you don’t agree with anything I’ve said so far. But you’re going to want to hear the next thing I have to say.

* * * *

As one of my former bosses used to say, It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Maybe all of them said that to me…

The Donald has called Mexicans a bunch of drug dealing crime lords who rape and murder people, like, you know, white people. The Donald frequently insults people of color by making remarks about their low IQ and intelligence. He calls women names. Fat. Ugly. Lowlife. Horseface. 

And recently he started calling the COVID-19 virus the Chinese virus because it comes from China. Like his clothing line…

Maybe The Donald can say those things without being perceived to be a racist/sexist pig by some people, but none of the rest of us can. Maybe it’s okay that Trump insults Mexicans and Blacks. I mean, those people have it coming, right? And women? Don’t get me started on those bitches! Why can’t they just go back to sleeping their way to the top, and bringing us coffee like they did back in the good old days?

You’re just offended because Trump is tough on immigration! And you don’t even live in America anymore. You have no idea what we’re dealing with here!

Okay. You might have a valid point there. But Donald Trump also made fun of a disabled man. And before you say, He did not! You’re making that up! It’s on the YouTube®. Millions of people have seen it. You can watch it too.

If only there were only some way I could I could make this point on a personal level, like, if only there was someone in our family that had a serious physical or cognitive disability…

Take a deep breath, Deb. I know what I’m doing, and I promise to be careful.

* * * *

I have a very large extended family. My mom had eight kids. Her sister, Noreen, also had eight kids. All of their kids had kids, and all of those kids are making more kids. Between my mom and my aunt, I’m related to almost two and half million people living in Minnesota.

One of those people is Ethan Och. He’s one of Stephenie’s kids. Stephanie is one of my nieces on the Gessell side of the family tree. Ethan has SMA — Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  It’s a genetic disease affecting the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and voluntary muscle movement. I think it’s a form of muscular dystrophy, like unto the family of diseases Jerry Lewis used to have his Labor Day Telethon for, if you remember that.

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The MDA Telethon used to be a huge deal. Millions of dollars were raised for Jerry’s Kids

Ethan is in a wheelchair. He requires a high level of care and assistance to live a ‘normal’ life. He probably has more brains in his little finger than all the rest of the people related to him, combined. He’s enrolled at the University of Minnesota and will probably graduate at the top of his class in aerospace engineering.

Deb might disagree with my intelligence assessment of Ethan, but she’d probably agree that he’s at least smarter than everyone on the Rowen side of the family tree.

Or, there’s Wesley Rowen. He’s Matthew’s son. Matthew is one of my nephews from my dad’s side of the family tree. Wesley has Down’s Syndrome. He has full mobility, but is still a special needs child. Wesley isn’t in college. I think he’s maybe seven years old. But even if he were seventeen, I don’t know if this kid will ever attend a university.

* * * *

Okay, Deb. Are you ready? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Let’s imagine for a moment that our nephews are reporters at the White House. And Donald Trump made fun of Ethan and Wesley. You’d think that was okay, right? I’m sure James Och would laugh his ass off when President Trump made a joke about his son’s disability. I mean, that’s some funny shit, right? Okay, maybe he wouldn’t think it’s funny, but he’d forgive the President because, you know, Donald Trump isn’t perfect, but he’s trying.

By the way, James Och is Stephanie’s husband, and he’s one of my Facebook friends who supports Trump. James and I aren’t close friends. In fact, I’m not sure we’ve ever met in person, and if we did there’s a good chance that I was drunk at the time, so I have no memories of him.

But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that James would have a considerable amount of difficulty seeing anything funny about someone making fun of his son who has had to fight so hard to get where he is today. And it would have to be a very cold day in Hell before he forgave anyone for doing that.

I know guys. We might forget why we hate someone, but we will never forgive them.

I know Matthew Rowen wouldn’t see anything funny about anyone making fun of his beautiful son. And Matt’s wife? Becky would rip that person  apart from limb to fucking limb.

Well, like I said. We’re not good Christians.

* * * *

That’s not fair! And besides, Donald Trump didn’t actually insult anyone in our family. You’re just trying to do one of those stupid Jedi mind tricks on me! But I’m not going to fall for it, so there!

You’re right. Donald Trump didn’t personally attack anyone in our family, but all those people he did attack — they were all a part of someone’s family. And there’s one message that has been repeated over and over as the Coronavirus pandemic has progressed.

We are all in this together.

Doesn’t mean anything to you? Fair enough. When it comes to 99.9% of the people living in the world, I couldn’t care less about them either. How about this: Remember the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25? You’re trying to be a good Christian, right? You remember how that story goes, don’t you?

Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.

You remember it now, don’t you.

Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. That picture you painted of President Trump is hanging a little crooked now, isn’t it.

WWTDD? (What Would The Donald Do?)

2020 has been a year to reckon with so far, and we’re only three and a half months into it. In my opinion, it’s been like unto getting a root canal and a conscious colonoscopy simultaneously. And maybe having a kidney stone, too.

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I need a crash cart, and a catcher’s mitt, STAT!

2020 would have been a hallmark year anyway. It’s a Leap Year. It’s an Olympic Year. And it’s an Election Year in the United States. It already had major significance written all over it.

And then the Coronavirus thing happened, and the whole world seemed to go ape-fuckin’ batshit crazy overnight.

Whether or not we all die to death from the widely and wildly hyped Coronavirus global pandemic, one thing has become painfully obvious. We are all going to be greatly affected by it.

Seeing how almost everything has been ground to a screeching halt as a result of the precautionary measures to prevent its spread, even here in bucolic Mexico, I decided I’d try to examine the evolution of how we ended up here. I’m going to do it by outlining Donald Trump’s responses to it because his lack of action, and actions, are the easiest things to find on The Google®.

If you want a different approach, do your own goddamn research. That said, you might as well read my post. You’re probably not doing anything, or going anywhere right now either…

* * * *

The first thing everyone needs to remember about this crisis is President Trump disbanded the National Security Council directorate team for global health and security and bio-defense in 2018.

When he was asked why he did it, he said, “I don’t know anything about it.” In his defense, he also said this: “This is something that you can never really think is going to happen.”

And he has a point. Never, (The Black Death) in the entire history of our planet, (The Spanish Influenza) has there ever (SARS) been (Ebola) a global (AIDS) pandemic. No one (The Andromeda Strain) has ever predicted (Outbreak) that this (The Walking Dead) was (Jurassic World) something (The Center for Disease Control) that was even (The World Health Organization) remotely possible. 

* * * *

Donald Trump was aware of the Coronavirus way back in January of this year. At that time he said, “We have it totally under control…  It’s going to be just fine.”  White House acting budget director Russell Vought said this: “Coronavirus is not something that is going to have ripple effects.”

* * * *

Does anyone know when people started hoarding toilet paper? Better yet, why? Who was Hoarder Zero, and how did everyone else come to the conclusion that five hundred rolls of toilet paper would keep them safe?

Of all the weird things that have happened so far, this is the most mystifying event to me. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, not a gastrointestinal bug. Even if it were cholera on steroids, I fail to see how stocking up on toilet paper would help much.

I am a psychiatric nurse, so I welcome the input of other medical professionals who understand internal medicine, disease processes, and medical treatments far better than I do. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this reaction was caused, in part, by the fact that a great many people have no idea how medical issues work.

Case in point, there are some people that believe sugar causes diabetes. Additionally, when asked why they were taking medications to manage a medical condition, a great many of my former patients had this response: “My doctor told me to take it.” They couldn’t even tell me the name of the medication.

From my point of view as a mental health professional: If you bought a truckload of toilet paper because of the Coronavirus, your best bet would be to insert an entire roll of toilet paper up inside your ass. Sideways.

While some people might have assholes large enough to easily accommodate this, the vast majority of us do not. I couldn’t get a shampoo bottle up my ass even if I wanted to, and I don’t want to. Back when I was a psych nurse I knew several people that put shampoo bottles up their asses without any problem. But I doubt even they could get an entire roll of toilet paper up their asses.

* * * *

In late February of this year The Donald said this: “[The number of people infected is] going very substantially down, not up.” “The 15 [cases] within a couple of days, is going to be down to zero.” And he said this: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA…  Stock Market starting to look very good to me.”

[Note: Two weeks later on March 11, according to the people that compiled this timeline, there were over 1,000 confirmed cases in the United States.]

More late February: During a campaign rally in South Carolina, President Trump likened the Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to the new Coronavirus outbreak to their efforts to impeach him, saying “…this is their new hoax.” During the speech he downplayed the severity of the outbreak, comparing it to the common flu.

Also in late February, The Donald said this: “It’s going to disappear one day, it’s like a miracle.”  The next day his son, Eric, added: “In my opinion, it’s a great time to buy stocks or into your 401k. I would be all in . . . let’s see if I’m right.”

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From what I can tell, he was wrong.

In late February, the stock market started going into a free fall and probably crashed a couple of times. I could be wrong. I understand the stock market about as well as I understand how cold fusion works. Maybe this is a good time to buy stocks…  It’s probably not a good time to own stocks…  That said, I also welcome the input of financial advisors about this issue.

* * * *

Okay. We have the situation under control. It’s not a big deal. There aren’t that many cases. The stock market is doing well. Anything else?

Well, there was March…  This is where The Donald stepped up to the plate and started to shine.

He appointed his Vice-president, Mike Pence, to head the Coronavirus Task Force. Prior to this, the only thing Pence had been noted for in this administration was his ability to kiss his boss’s ass in just the right spot. I can’t find any documentation that supports this, but Mike Pence’s first statement was allegedly a call for prayer. Which is what the Republicans ask for every time there’s a mass shooting or something.

In early March, The Donald said there would be a vaccine — possibly even a cure — available very soon, like, you know, a couple of months. That is untrue. There isn’t a vaccine, and it would realistically take eighteen months or more before any reliable vaccine would be ready to go on the market.

But wait, there’s more:

“Well, I think the 3.4 percent (The global mortality rate estimated by the World Health Organization for COVID-19), is really a false number. Now, and this is just my hunch, and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this. Because a lot people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor.

“You never hear about those people. So you can’t put them down in the category of the overall population in terms of this corona flu and — or virus. So you just can’t do that. So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work but they get better.”

* * * *

Maybe The Donald is right about that, although I have to admit I have a difficult time following his rambling logic. I think a lots of this shit has been blown way out proportion, too. That said, most world leaders don’t tend to rely on their hunches when they’re dealing with a crisis. They rely on their expert advisors because no one person can know everything they need to know about something they probably don’t understand at all.

Oh, wait. Trump fired most of those experts. But he did keep the guy that thinks windmills cause cancer…

* * * *

And then there this statement from The Donald:“I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. . . . Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

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Dr. Trump’s Genuine Indian Snake Oil Coronavirus Elixir! Only $25,000 a bottle!

And then he said this: “I didn’t know people died from the flu.” I’m not making this up. He actually said everything I’ve quoted him as saying. And he’s pretty sure the Coronavirus will collapse on itself in April because the temperature gets so fucking hot in April…

“Anybody who wants a test gets a test.” That statement is total bullshit. But another thing to consider is testing for this illness has been woefully inadequate in pretty much every country on this planet, so there’s that.

And then something really weird happened. To combat a hoax of a pandemic that wasn’t a very big deal and was totally under control, The Donald went into shutdown mode. He had previously closed the border to China because this is a foreign virus, then he closed the border to Europe because, “the free flow of people throughout mainland Europe makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

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I’ll give him that point

The Donald is also contemplating shutting down the southern border with Mexico, and he’s probably got a few more measures he’s going to institute, but he doesn’t know what they are yet. So stay tuned to your local news channel for updates as they occur. There’s sure to be a few hundred more of them, and you’re not going to have anything better to do.

Today, President Trump had this to say about the Coronavirus situation: “I’ve always known, this is a real — this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do was look at other countries…no, I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”

Oh! Another hunch? I have no doubt The Donald believed himself when he said that. So maybe I should start taking this thing more seriously. But I doubt that Trump has any serious regard for the people that have been or may become ill because of the disease. I’m guessing he’s far more concerned with how it has damaged his economy, and how much it will affect his personal ratings.

That would be a very serious thing indeed.

* * * *

Just to put this into perspective: As of this precise moment in time, there have been just under 200,000 Coronavirus cases reported worldwide. Just under 8,000 people have died, worldwide.

As of this moment, almost the entire US has shutdown. Schools have closed, more probably will. Businesses are closed, more will follow. Sporting and entertainment events have been cancelled. And it’s not just in the US. This is happening on a global scale. It’s even happening here in the Lakeside Area.

This isn’t a ripple effect. This is a motherfucking tsunami.

Good thing/bad thing? Beats the hell out of me. But it does seem a little drastic coming from a guy who has repeatedly said he had the whole thing under control and there was nothing to worry about, then denied he ever said that, and then claimed he knew it was a serious pandemic all along.

Well, at least something is finally getting back to normal…

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Keep making America more better greater, Donnie Boy

People in America are essentially sitting at home squeezing their Charmin®, and stocking up on guns and ammunition just in cases the Coronavirus comes knock, knock, knocking on their front door. Yep, gun and ammo sales are way up. You gotta love the way some Americans think.

* * * *

I have no real idea how History will view President Trump, but it’s my guess that it won’t be kindly. He won’t be known as the leader that not only made America great again, he was the great leader who saved the country when it needed saving most.

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The Donald doesn’t seem destined to go down as America’s favorite President, even though he claimed he was in several of his Tweets. He’ll probably be remembered as the man who didn’t act fast enough when disaster struck, or he’ll be the man that totally overreacted when he finally decided to do something.

That’s one of the perks of being President. It’s a thankless job, and you get blamed for everything that happens once your ass sits on that chair behind the big desk in the Oval Office. Ask any former President you happen to see, they’ll tell you.

The world may never know if the Coronavirus was a serious pandemic of apocalyptic proportions, but we definitely know this: there are far more stupid people on this planet than there are smart ones.

Maybe when the next pandemic appears, and there will be another one; maybe we shouldn’t do anything to stop it.

From A Million Miles

From a Million Miles is a technopop/electronic dance song by the Australian trio Single Gun Theory. I’m not a big fan of the genre, but I do have that song on one of my playlists. If you don’t have anything else to do, you can listen to it on The YouTube®.

It’s kind of a catchy song. And the title more or less sums up how living in a foreign country can sometimes feel when you miss your family and friends. And stuff…

 * * * *

How’s everybody doing? I hope you’ve all been able to stock up on toilet paper, bottled water, and hand sanitizer so you don’t get killed to death by the Coronavirus. We’re safe here in Mexico because we drink Corona® beer. It contains all the antibodies you need to develop immunity to the pandemic that’s wreaking havoc everywhere else on the planet.

Honestly, I have no idea what’s really going on out there in the real world. I don’t watch the news. Social media seems to be the most effective way to spread misinformation. Ever.

I figure most of us will survive this latest crisis, much like we’ve survived everything else that was supposed to destroy the world. Or we won’t. And life will go on.

The bottom line is this: there’s a bunch of rich, white, seventy year old men in America with dementia and intransigent political alliances, and they are going to fix everything.

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What could possibly go wrong?

* * * *

I am seriously embarrassed by the current state of American politics, and if you aren’t, you should be. Even if you’re not an American. I’ve come to the conclusion that the current system of government isn’t just broken, it’s FUBAR. For those of you that are unaware, it’s a military acronym that means: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair.

I’d like to be able to blame Donald Trump and his political sycophants for destroying the country of my birth, but all they did was drive the final stake in its heart.

It’s no secret that I dislike President Trump. He has taken being a hypocrite to a whole ‘nother level. A hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, or principles that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie their stated beliefs.

The Donald is more of a triplocrit. And here’s how he does it: 1.) He says or does something outrageous. 2.) He denies that he did or said anything. 3.) He smugly admits to doing/saying that which he had previously denied, but says it’s not a big deal. Or it’s not illegal. Or what are you going to do about it. Or something…

I haven’t been following his antics as closely ever since my Twitter account was permanently suspended last year. I still get updates from my friends on Facebook about what The Donald has been up to. Okay, they despise Trump, too. So they never have anything good to say about him. 

Trump, if nothing else, has clearly defined the lines of divisiveness that separate the two major American political parties. He probably used a Sharpie®…

The People With Brains, my name for the people that oppose Trump, are absolutely mystified how the Walmart Intelligensia, my name for the people that worship Trump, can be so taken in by this two-bit charlatan.

There might be an explanation in the Bible: “…they look but do not see, and they listen, but do not hear nor do they understand.” Matthew 13:13.

But one line in the Bible can be used to support almost any argument.

“They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. I could claim that this bit of scripture prophesied the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2018.

God, if He had anything to do with Donald Trump being elected, is clearly working in mysterious ways because that’s apparently the only way He knows how to work. And if this is going to be one of His lessons for humanity, there are going to be a whole lots of dunces facing the corner wearing funny hats when this is over.

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As I’ve said before, guys are not typically known for their profound thoughts. Guys are simple creatures. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. That’s a guy thought. If it is broken and you can’t fix it, it’s time to get a new goldarn thing. That is also a deeply profound guy thought.

It’ll probably require another American revolution to fix this goddamn goldarn mess of a thing, but that political/socioeconomic battle won’t be fought until long after I’m dead.

I tried to warn the Millennials, but they haven’t heard me yet. It’s time to vote every fucking member of Congress from my generation out of office, and put them out to pasture where they belong.

I’m not going to tell you little bastards that again.

* * * *

One of the best things about living in Mexico is we don’t have to watch or listen to any American political ads if we don’t want to. We did have to endure Canadian political ads last year. Yep. They were annoying, too.

I love living here. The climate is temperate. The people here are genuinely sweet. The food is amazing! The cost of living is doubly amazing!! We live in a beautiful gringo mansion that we wouldn’t be able to afford back the States. I get to hang out with the love of my life and enjoy spending this blessed time of our lives together. And we have kit-tens!!

Some of my Facebook friends have told me they are fascinated by my decision to live in Mexico. Well, if they’re that interested, I hope they start reading my blog. That’s right, Ryan McKenzie, I’m talking to you.

He was my first boss at Aurora Behavioral Health in Glendale, AZ. I accepted the job because of him. He was highly regarded and recommended by my co-workers at St. Luke’s Hospital in Phoenix. I decided to find a new job after my first work wife, Deb Goral, left the Evening shift and started working Days. It wasn’t as much fun without her, so I decided to move on.

Ryan is the Program Director of the SAGE Unit now. That’s the Gero/Psych unit I worked on at Banner Del Webb Medical Center in Surprise, AZ. As one of the doctors I worked with at Del Webb told me when I left there, “It’s a small world in Psychiatry here in Phoenix. We’ll probably run into each other again.”

He was right about that. I worked with him again at Aurora.

* * * *

If you’re one of the seven people that have ever read any of my blogs, you might have noticed that I changed the title of my page. I originally started writing about my career as a psych nurse, and I called it Reflections. As time has progressed, I’ve been less reflective about my nursing career and more reactive to just about anything. I’m all over the spectrum with what I write now.

If I can’t think of anything else to write about, I tend to ramble on about living in Mexico, so I decided to add that to the title to emphasize it a bit more. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea about what they’re going to find here.

* * * *

As much as I love living here, life in Mexico isn’t without its challenges. Case in point, the fireplace in our living room.

In my last post, I mentioned we were shopping for a gas insert for the fireplace in the living room. We have three fireplaces here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. They all have gas lines installed, but none of them have the requisite inserts that make them functionable.

We found an insert at Baja Grills, and Lea was able to negotiate a sweet deal on it with Kat. It was one of those Just Between Two Supermodels Things…  Lea bought the insert for less than five hundred bucks, which is about half of what you’d usually pay for one down here.

However, before we bought it Lea wanted to know if the gas line to the fireplace actually worked. I suppose I could have just turned one on, you know, to check. But I don’t like playing with gas, so I decided to call our property manager, Jaime Mendoza.

And there was this: I thought Lea was being ridiculous because the gas lines were already in place! And who would be stupid enough to run a gas line to the fireplace and not hook it up to the propane tank???

So, I talked to Jaime, and he talked to Lord Mark. He’s the guy that owns the house we’re renting. They were both pretty sure all the fireplaces worked because Lord Mark’s parents had burned wood fires in all of them. When I asked again about the gas lines, Jaime couldn’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t work.

Based on that information we bought the insert, but when the guy came to install it we discovered that none of the gas lines to any of the fireplaces worked. At some point in time in the past, the original gas line had been replaced with a new and improved gas line. But the new line ran from the propane tank to the water heater for the bathrooms in the North Wing of the house.

And the fucking fireplaces had not been reconnected!!!

The installer from Baja Grills was a Mexican guy named Saul. He took one look at how the new line had been installed, and said, “Fucking Mexico.” And then he said, “It takes a Mexican to fix a Mexican problem.”

l love that because truer words have never been spoken.

Saul gave us an estimate to run a new gas line from the propane tank to the living room fireplace. Fourteen thousand pesos. That’s roughly equivalent to $700 US. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s more than Lea or I wanted to spend on a house that we don’t own.

So I talked to Jaime again, and he came over to eyeball the situation for himself. Jaime said he didn’t know about the replacement gas line. And if Lord Mark had known about it, he had forgotten all about it. And Jaime had had the same thought I did. He couldn’t imagine the gas lines not working either.

However, Lord Mark thought it was important that the living room fireplace actually worked like a fireplace, so he agreed to pay for the installation of a new gas line. And it would be much cheaper than the estimate Saul had given us. “I think that guy gave you a gringo-face price.”

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I had never heard that term before, but I don’t doubt that it’s true, too

It took Tacho, our general fix-it guy, two days to hook up the new gas line. Tacho loves working here because I let him use any of my tools that he needs, and I always tip him well for his services.

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And there you have it

One working fireplace! I don’t know if Lord Mark would’ve been willing to run new gas lines to all the fireplaces here. I doubt we’d ever use the other two, and we love it here, so we don’t want to create any undue expenses for stuff we don’t want or need.

We painted the fireplace in the master bedroom to make it pop! Seriously, you wouldn’t have known it was even there before we added the accent color to the chimney. They both turned out great and we’ll probably never have to mess with either of them again.

* * * *

Mexico. The land where things that you think will be easy to do or find end up being Herculean labors of frustration. And things that you think are going to be almost impossible to accomplish end up being easier than tying your shoes.

That’s what happened when we found this house. And when we needed to get a new car. Lea and I are changing our living status in Mexico from temporary to permanent this year, and once we do that we are required by law to drive a Mexican plated car. 

In order to be legally registered and licensed in Mexico, every car has to have been manufactured in Mexico, Canada, or the United States. I think it’s part of the NAFTA treaty, or whatever it’s called now. Our American made Buick Encore was actually assembled in South Korea. We couldn’t get it licensed here even we we wanted to.

Buying a car in Mexico isn’t the same as buying a car in the States. Prices for almost everything in the States are fixed, except cars. You can negotiate the sales price of the vehicle you want, and salesmen will literally kiss your feet if means getting a sale. In Mexico, a lots of prices are flexible, except cars. The dealer has one price, and if you don’t like it, well, that’s too bad for you.

On the bright side, cars are about 40% cheaper in Mexico than they are in the States. Yep, you read that correctly. The car we’re thinking about buying will cost us roughly $18,000 US.

In America, no one pays cash at a dealership. Cars are financed, and you have a monthly car payment for years. In Mexico, financing is something they’re still trying to figure out. If you really want to buy a decent car, you better be able to pay cash for it when you go to the dealership.

And, you should have a reputable mechanic look over any car you want to buy here because not everything is as advertised. Odometer readings are often changed to reflect lower mileage, so if nothing else, there’s always that. Additionally, cars that have damaged by floods in the US are frequently shipped to Mexico to be sold. So there’s that, too.

We hired a local guy named Antonio Regalado to find a new car for us. He owns and runs a business called R &R Car Sales and Rentals to help gringos find good cars, and comes highly recommended by everyone we know that has done business with him. He’s kind of a mercenary car salesman — he doesn’t work for any dealership — but he works with a few of them and they usually pay his fees for hooking up gringos looking for cars with dealerships that have a lots of cars to sell.

Antonio does all the talking to the salesmen, the managers, and anyone else who might be involved in the sale at the dealership. And he kept us updated on everything that was happening.

We met with him Monday for about half an hour at his office, and told him what we were looking for. We gave him a list of the options we wanted and the year, make, and model of the SUV’s we were interested in. Half an hour later, we had a list of six SUV’s to choose from, along with Antonio’s perspective on which was the best buy.

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These are our top two choices

The first is a 2017 Kia Sportage GT. It has 45,000 kilometers. The GT package means it has a bigger engine and comes with a fair amount of bells and whistles. The second is a 2018 Nissan X-Trail. It has 59,000 kilometers and it has almost every bell and whistle available for that model. And it’s red.

Antonio drove us to Guadalajara today to the dealership to take a closer look at both of them. Personally, the only thing I care about in my automobiles is that they have a great sound system, which makes me the least qualified person on the planet when it comes to buying a car. So it’s a good thing I have people around me who know what the hell they’re doing.

This process has transpired a helluvalot faster than any of us thought it would. I thought it would take a couple of weeks at least, not two days! Our financial planner didn’t think it would happen this quickly either, so she has had to scramble to get us the funds we need to buy Lea’s new dream car. 

There’s an unwritten rule for shopping in Mexico: If you find something you like, buy it. It won’t be there the next time. We’ve failed to do that enough times that we don’t question it anymore. Lea loves the X-Trail. And it has a Bose® stereo sound system. Done deal.

And here’s where the really weird part comes in. Before a Mexican dealership can sell you a car, the Mexican government requires that you have to prove you actually live in Mexico. And proof of residency, according to the government, is a utility bill. An electric bill. Telephone, TV, or Internet. All you need is a bill with your name on it, and you could buy a whole fleet of cars if you wanted to.

We don’t own the house we’re living in. None of the utility bills we pay have our names on them. We have a signed copy of the rental contract, but the Mexican government doesn’t recognize it as legal proof of residency. They don’t recognize driver’s licenses either.

Yeah, go figure on that!

Seeing how we live here, but don’t have the required documents of proof, we’re trying to figure out how to make this work. A bank statement will suffice, but first we have to open an account in a Mexican bank, then wait until we receive our first bank statement. This being Mexico, and assuming that will be an easy thing, it could take months for that to happen.

But we do have an Antonio. And as everyone knows, it takes a Mexican to fix a Mexican problem.

Social Misfit

Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings from Mexico!

I wish it felt more Christmassy this year. As I am constantly reminded by every Hallmark Christmas movie, this is a time of snow, family, and love. That’s one of the downsides of living in a temperate climate. Thousands of miles away from everyone in your family. In a foreign country.

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To be honest, I’m not sure anyone in my family would visit me even if we lived across the street from each other. That’s probably my fault. I burned a lots of bridges back when I was drunk all the time.

Some fault also has to be allocated to my siblings. We’re all fairly fucked up, and almost everyone in my family has decided it’s way easier to just keep drinking than it is to try to fix all of those broken personalities and relationships.

That’s just one of the many upsides to living in a temperate climate, thousands of miles away from everyone in your family, in a foreign country.

* * * *

Speaking of burning bridges, I’ve discovered that I don’t need to be drunk to do that. For those of you who placed bets on how long it would take for my Twitter account to be permanently disabled, if you picked December 4, 2019, you win.

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Even I thought it would take me longer than that.

I wasn’t a big fan of the Twitter. It was the domain of mystic poets and nude selfies. I fucking hate poetry and no one wants to see me naked. Including me. Twitter is the social media equivalent of a moral wasteland. I never understood the language of the Twitter, which no doubt makes me the Ultimate Twit.

So? What did you do to piss off the Twitter police, dude?

According to the Twitter police, I was guilty of engaging in a pattern of hate themed speech, which was a repeated violation of the community standards that Twitter sometimes takes seriously.

In the interest of transparency, I am totally guilty of everything Twitter accused me of doing. But there was another person who consistently violated Twitter’s community standards, and he did so without any fear of repercussions.

Donald Trump consistently lied about his accomplishments, blamed his political opponents for his failings, and fired off endless insults, taunts, and disparaging names at anyone that didn’t kiss his ass.

I pointed out Mr. Trump’s pattern of inflammatory fabrication to the Twitter police more than once. They had a response. If I didn’t like the things that Mr. Trump wrote, I should simply stop reading them.

That was their official stance on the matter.

That was something I couldn’t do, so I called out The Donald every time he bragged about a success, or projected his shortcomings off onto others, or insulted Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, or any of his Democratic opponents.

Donald Trump is a pathological liar. I could live with that if not for one, small, tiny, insignificant detail. He’s also the President of the United States. Because of his status, I find his actions morally reprehensible, even though I have often stated that I don’t have any morals or ethics.

Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make any sense to me either.

Unfortunately, and I honestly feel it was an unfortunate course of action on my part, I tended to end the majority of my rebuttals to Mr. Trump with …you lying cocksucker! Or, …you motherfucking piece of shit!!

My Twitter account was temporarily suspended three or four times for saying bad things about the 45th President of the United States.

I was a psych nurse for thirty years. The one thing I hated more than anything was when someone started name-calling. I’m sure that can directly be tied to all of times I had to endure it when I was a child. That, and spitting. I really hated being spit on.

In a nutshell, because it was something I wouldn’t want to happen to me, I should never have engaged in that sort of behavior toward someone else. Even a fucking douchebag like Donald Trump.

Christians call it The Golden Rule. Everyone else calls it not being an asshole.

At some time during the day of December 3rd, I called Melania Trump a whore. And a mindless cunt. There’s probably not any evidence supporting my claim that The Donald ever literally sucked any cocks or had sex with his mother. And for that, my Twitter account was temporarily suspended several times.

However, there is a veritable ocean of evidence that indicates Melania Trump is both a whore, and a mindless cunt. And because those accusations were true, Twitter shut down my account forever the very next day.

I’m okay with that. I was engaging in behavior that I would never condone in another. Besides, getting into a Twitter war with The Donald isn’t just stupid, it’s a fruitless cause, and I already have one of those.

It’s called Golf…

* * * *

I’ve been a social misfit almost all of my life. I may still be one, but there’s one major difference between the old guy me and the young kid me. I no longer care what other people think of me.

Being an outsider looking in was easy for me when I was a kid. I was almost always the new kid in town. We moved a lots when I was in grade school. Minnesota, at least twice. Michigan. South Dakota. Arkansas. North Dakota, twice. California, twice. Missouri. And finally, Montana.

Eleven different school districts to complete eight years of school. I was either so far ahead of my classmates that they thought I was some kind of genius, or so far behind them that everyone thought I was a total moron.

Moving from one place to another in the Midwest was bad enough, but moving from the North to the South was absolute hell. Not only are you the New Kid in Town, you’re a Damn Yankee to boot. And back then, the only thing white southern kids hated more than damn Yankees was niggers.

Yes, I know I’m not supposed to say that anymore. But as I write this, it’s 1963. I was in the second grade when we moved to Little Rock. I was picked on so much in Arkansas that I shit my pants in school. Twice.

I vividly remember both of those incidents. What I don’t remember is why it didn’t happen more often. It’s possible that my heartless tormentors started feeling sorry for me, but it’s far more likely that they thought they might end up covered in shit, too.

Third grade, we were living in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was the only time I was considered the most popular kid in my class. And the only reason I know this is because my teacher whispered it into my ear one day.

I wasn’t the most popular kid in my class in Michigan. Or South Dakota. Or at either of the schools I attended in California. And I wasn’t even close to the most popular kid in my class when we moved back to Grand Forks because we lived in a different school district on the other side of town. 

1967. I was in seventh grade. That was the worst year of my grade school career. I started out the school year in Minnesota, spent something like six months in Missouri, then finished up the year in Montana.

Missouri might have been even worse than Arkansas when it came to being bullied because I was the New Kid/Damn Yankee in town, but that was one of the school districts where I was so far ahead of my classmates that even my teachers were in awe of me.

* * * *

There were no anti-bullying initiatives way back in the Middle Ages when I was a kid. As I reflect on this period of abject humiliation of my life, it’s a good thing my dad didn’t own any handguns.

I doubt that I ever would’ve been able to shoot anyone, but I’m pretty sure I thought about it. When I was a kid, there were probably a dozen different Western TV shows. Bonanza. Gunsmoke. The Rifleman. Conflict resolution was usually handled with a six-shooter.

But it’s far more likely that I wouldn’t have been able to hit the broad side of a barn even if I had access to a handgun. I got my first pair of glasses when I was in the third grade because I was essentially blind, but I refused to wear them because it was just another thing the other kids could use to make fun of me. I didn’t want to give them any extra ammunition.

That changed when I started the eighth grade. My new teacher introduced me to my latest set of new classmates. And then she said this, And class, please remind Mark to wear his glasses. His mother told me he doesn’t like to wear them, but he really needs to wear them… 

It was something like that. I stopped listening when I started playing for God to quit fucking around and kill me to death for real this time.

* * * *

It was probably around the time that we were living in Missouri that I started utilizing a few defense mechanisms that would keep me and all of the people around me alive.

The first is called a reaction formation. It’s a complicated Freudian concept. In essence, negative emotions or impulses which are mastered by substituting the opposite emotion or impulse. The substitute reaction is usually overly exaggerated.  I’m not an expert in psychoanalysis, so I’m not sure if this is commonly used or not. I do know this: my substitute reactions are not overly exaggerated, and I’m pretty sure that’s not very common.

Another is mirroring, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. One person unconsciously imitates the gestures, speech pattern, or attitude of another. Almost everybody uses this, especially with family and close friends.

And the third is humor. People are less likely to want to punch you if you can make them laugh.

* * * *

When I was a freshman in high school, I achieved the dual distinctions of being both a genius and a moron in just a matter of months. The first semester of the year, I was in the Honor’s Math class where I struggled to get D’s. My math teacher actually announced to my entire class I had no business being in his class, and told me to get out of his classroom.

I didn’t need a second invitation. I picked up my books, walked out the door, and kept on walking until I got home, five miles later. I’ve told this story to my lovely supermodel wife. She said I must’ve felt humiliated. I suppose I did, but what I mostly remember is feeling relieved.

I was called into the Principal’s office the next day. I fully expected to be suspended or expelled. Instead, I received an apology and I was placed in a different math class. The second semester was an entirely different story. I was a straight A student in the Math for Morons class.

I’ve tried not to make a big deal out what happened to me on that day so long ago when Father Weiss told me to get out of his classroom. I’ve tried, but I still hate math.

* * * *

I didn’t really have a best friend until my freshman year of high school. That’s when I met Dave Nelson. We’re still buds. I didn’t have a girlfriend until my senior year. That’s when I fell in love with Maureen Browne. I think we’re still friends.

She asked me if I was going to attend our fifty year class reunion in 2024. I told her I was thinking about it, but I was terrified of seeing her face to face again. She said I should be. And then she said she was joking.

I told her I wasn’t. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Dave and Maureen both gave the best gifts I have ever received from anyone. Acceptance. Friendship. Love. They were the first people outside of my family that showed me there was also beauty in the world.

* * * *

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That might be true, but from my point of view at this precise moment, examining your life doesn’t increase its value by any appreciable amount.

I’m not sure what the point of this post is supposed to be. No doubt there’s an Aesopian moral of the story that’s supposed to enlighten me. There’s only one small, tiny, insignificant problem.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t write it.

My writing process isn’t this organized. Nor is it usually this specific. My Muses apparently have a much better idea of what they’re doing than I ever will.

I hope they’re happy. Maybe they’ll take some time off for the holidays. My lovely supermodel wife and I are going to Mexico City. I’d like to be able to to enjoy it.

But you have any ideas for the moral of the story, leave me a comment.