• The water reservoir on my WaterPik is leaking and I need to replace the rubber stopper. WaterPik’s online store wanted $2.99 plus $3.95 shipping for one stopper. Various sellers on Amazon wanted $12.99 with free shipping for 6 stoppers. Cheapskate Craig spent the next 15 minutes in an internal debate between paying $6.94 to fix the problem at hand vs. buying stoppers in quantity and getting a 69% discount per stopper. What would you do?
• I was trying to play a Beatles CD on my computer and make a copy of “Blackbird” so that I could learn the guitar chords. My PC was able to play the first track (“Back in the USSR”) and the second (“Dear Prudence”) but when I tried to skip to “Blackbird” the media player kept hanging up. At first I thought that my Windows Media Player might be out of date, so I downloaded another CD player. Same thing. What in the world? Did this CD have some weird kind of digital copy-protection? Well, after a half-hour of various attempts to play it, I finally unloaded the CD and saw the crack in the disc.
• My answer to the WaterPik stopper dilemma was this: I figured I would have to replace the stopper once more, at most, before it was time to discard the unit and buy a new one. Therefore, buying just one stopper, and taking the chance that I would need no more than one additional replacement, seemed to yield the lowest probable cost. All that calculating just to save $6.05. I hope the calories that my brain burned made the effort worthwhile.
• My spouse and I just saw a good theater movie, The Invisible Man with Elisabeth Moss. Afterward, we stopped in at a local upscale hotel bar to have a drink and a burger. The bar was busy, it being Saturday night, and various characters filed in and out, it being a hotel. Halfway through our drinks, two men started trading barbs from opposite sides of the bar (it sounded like a continuation of an earlier exchange) and the bartender had to intervene. One of the men was sitting next to us. We continued our conversation, ignoring him.
Later, when our dinners were served and my spouse’s ordered-rare burger was delivered well-done, I remarked to her how this was the second time in a row her food was overdone in this restaurant. This prompted the jerk-next-door to crane his neck around and ask, “So this happened to you before?” I’m not sure what corner of my brain this came from, but I met his bleary gaze and said, “We’re having a private conversation,” and I turned back to my spouse. And that was that. The jerk turned into The Invisible Man and eventually left the bar, unnoticed. Straw Dogs II did not ensue.
• I bought a new guitar earlier this year, officially my Christmas gift from my spouse and the first I have owned since college days. Feeling enlivened, I signed up for some lessons, as I have never been able to do anything with a guitar except strum. The lessons are okay but aren’t exactly what I expected. I thought they might be like golf lessons, where the first things you learn are the fundamentals like posture and grip. But instead, we have gone directly to songs (“Blackbird” and “Wildwood Flower” thus far) which have mostly served to highlight how bad my fundamentals are. Perhaps my instructor figures I’m too old a dog to learn new ways and she may be right. Nevertheless, I persist.
• Needless to say, I don’t buy into claims that Democrats and the “liberal media” want the coronavirus disaster to worsen in order to bury Trump’s 2020 re-election chances. But I do believe that Big Media has a vested interest in heightening their viewers’ anxiety about the pandemic. The more we fear, the more we watch; the higher the ratings, the greater the network ad revenue. Sandersian as this sounds, liberal media is not the problem — corporate media is.
• It’s astounding how many aspects of once-ordinary life now look radically different when viewed through the lens of our coronavirus stance. Television commercials for Caribbean cruises. Vacations to Italy offered on “The Price is Right.” Any group of people shown in close proximity, whether celebrating a victory or supporting a political candidate. I have never been a social butterfly but the recommended person-to-person distancing feels like a virtual coffin.
• Employing the same decision-making tools I used in the Great WaterPik Stopper Debate, I decided this is a good time for people like me to utilize our capacity to entertain, as there are plenty of dour commentators and despairing lamenters as it is. So, for the next month or so, I will be posting various non-coronavirus-related features here, as if this surreality did not exist. Call it a survival mechanism.