Category Archives: Thoughts @ Large

Thoughts @ Large: 75

• Not that I want a libel suit from some real-estate developer, but my guess is that if you buy a house on a street called “Timberly Waye” in Richmond, Virginia, you have probably bought more marketing than you did house.

• Netflix seems to have turned into the Lifetime Channel, only more violent and featuring better-known actors.  Apparently, their current business model is to flood the site with mediocre titles so that viewers ultimately click on one, any one, out of sheer entertain-me frustration.  But do we still subscribe?  Yes — for now.

• • • • 

I once had a goldfish named Sad
When having a fish was a fad
But one day its scales
Turned a white shade of pale
Then it floated upside-down without rhyming or anything.

• • • • 

• We recently set out on the internet to arrange the (perfect) house rental in our area for a six-night stay in June, so that our children and grandchildren could visit us and have their own space — and so none of our tchotchkes get broken and peace prevails.  We signed up for one promising property, which looked to have a backyard play area for the grandkids, based on the posted photos.  A few days later, after we obtained the address of the rental, we did a drive-by and saw the yard was filled with weeds and poison ivy.  We contacted the owner who admitted, no, they never venture into the backyard due to the poison ivy.  Long story short, we cancelled the reservation and, after much persistence on my spouse’s part, we got our deposit back, including (finally) the non-refundable AirBnB service fee.

The reason I’m telling this story is that the idea of renting a property at location-unknown, as AirBnB forces one to do, is stupid.  This gives all the advantages to the landlord and puts the renter in the position of buyer-beware, in the name of what?  To avoid drive-bys, informed choice and comparison shopping?  Yes, exactly.

• I have taken stock and decided that, for much of the pandemic, I was in Meatloaf Mode.  That is a state of mind dominated by comfort foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, metabolically-charged junk foods like Arby’s and Cheetos, and passably-comforting drinks which are nonetheless drunk.

In Meatloaf Mode, various things are ingested to take the place of warm smiles, grasped hands, upper-body embraces, laughter, spontaneous conversation and jokes, and all the other tokens of the ordinary commerce of human interactions.  When this commerce is thwarted, some of us turn to — meatloaf and its comestible cousins.

In Meatloaf Mode, folks try to make up for all the sensations they have missed by stuffing a lot of stuff down their throats.  It works, sort of, as a short-term distraction.  But your gut soon informs you that what you’re eating isn’t a ticket to Happy Land.  Your body knows what works even when you don’t.  It pleads, don’t mistreat me just because you’re lonely.

• In the United States, we have a baby-bird model of hospital care.  Unless a baby bird stretches its throat up as high as it can, to get attention and show its vitality, it is less likely to get fed and survive.  Patients in U.S. hospitals are treated like baby birds.  They need proxies who stretch their necks out on their behalf.

• In the United States, we have a better idea where our Uber driver is and what time we will be picked up than when, if ever, the hospital nurse/doctor who needs to attend to us will show up and answer our questions.  Perhaps this is the future: Uber Health Care.

• If someone offered me a dollar for each one, I could probably name 700 or so baseball players. (Many more from the past than the present.)  For football, I might be able to list 200 players.  Golf, probably 100.  Basketball?  Maybe 25-30.  Tennis, about the same.  Hockey, I can think of 10.  And soccer, there was Pelé, Messi, Beckham and Wambach.  And I had to think hard about Wambach.  That’s it.

• Oh, I forgot bowling.  Wasn’t there a bowler named Anthony?  So him, and The Dude.

• No one really wants to walk down Memory Lane with you unless they lived there too.

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•  From now on, when I’m making out my grocery list and I need to buy half-and-half, I am just going to write down half.  Because I think I can remember the other half.

•  Know who cares which team won the Super Bowl three days after the fact?  Pretty much no one except those who played it.  Ditto for so many other heavily-touted achievements and awards in our celebrity culture.

•  We were about to sell a car on Craigslist, and my spouse and I were reviewing the text of our ad.  One angle we came up with: $2oo off the asking price, for liberals.  We were really tempted to throw that in, but it would have alienated most potential buyers in these parts.  (As it is, we did sell it for asking price, 16 hours after listing it, and had to turn away ten other interested parties.)

•  Faith in Humanity Department: When we handed our car over to the buyer, I forgot to remove our garage-door opener clipped to the visor.  We called the buyer a few hours later, and he told us that he had already stopped at the post office to mail it back to us.  We got it the next day.  My guess is that the buyer was a liberal and that we owe him $200.

•  So, we bought our first new vehicle in over a decade.  It has a back-up camera and other modern safety features — very happy about this.  But it has an “infotainment panel” rather than an everyday radio and CD player.  I’ve driven the vehicle 120 miles now and have not yet dared to turn on the radio or play music.  I’m sure I’ll figure everything out sometime.  Gosh-darned newfangled technology.

•  When I was a kid, my mom would walk into my bedroom, or the den, or wherever it was I happened to be reading, and turn on most of the lights in the room.  “It’s too dark in here to read, you’ll ruin your eyes!” she would say.  As it turned out, I guess she was right.

•  By that I mean, one of my eyes doesn’t see colors so well anymore.  My other eye makes up for it.  I guess I have the COVID-19 virus to thank that I can renew my license without a trip to the DMV for an eye test which I may no longer be able to pass.  (But who knows?)  Passing the DMV eye test and getting my license renewed has been a worry of mine for a few years.  But you all need not worry, I see fine to drive and I won’t be crashing into you, or anyone else.  I wouldn’t bring it up otherwise, he says defensively.

•  Meanwhile, as I fret about my driver’s license, right-wing militias plot their next moves.  If the government has priorities, they should be going after the danger that is me.

•  Love is sharing finger-food without a thought.

•  Thanks largely to my spouse’s diligence, I had my first-of-two COVID-19 vaccinations yesterday at Walgreens.  I said to my spouse, Thanks, Biden —  as otherwise, my spot on our health department’s waiting list was April or May.  I was never so glad to get a shot.    It feels like a corner has finally been turned, not that normality is knocking on our doors.  But still, it was an eye-waterer.  Damned newfangled technology.

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•  Say you have a couple of years of extraordinary medical expenses, enough to surpass the 7.5% income threshold that lets you deduct some of them on your U.S. income tax return.  Then the next year or two, your medical expenses are still high, but not quite high enough to meet the deductibility threshold.  As a taxpayer, you can’t help but feel a bit disentitled at that point, even though you should be thinking, thank goodness I didn’t have as many medical expenses.

•  Lest you feel too sorry for yourself, consider: our friends in Great Britain can’t deduct any medical expenses from their income tax returns.  Because they have none to deduct.

•  Although this seems to come naturally to every dog-walker on the planet, I shouldn’t have to befriend your dog in order to make friends with you.  (That goes double for your cats.)  We’re human beings.  We evolved larynxes and language.  We shouldn’t have to rely on voiceless four-legged intermediaries to help us strike up conversations.

•  My spouse thinks our country needs a Robert Kennedy and that Biden is “too ho-hum.”  While I wouldn’t argue, I say we liberals can’t afford to eat our own at this point.  Biden did exactly what we needed him to do, which was to get Trump out of office.  That alone will satisfy me for a lifetime.  I cried with joy watching Trump’s plane take off for Florida.

•  I enjoy the satirist-commenter Bill Maher.  I like his observations and the way he crafts his jokes, even if his tone often misses my mark.  (Too many sex/scatological references — I don’t do that world.)  Thing is, whenever I mention Bill Maher, I always feel like I need to add a disclaimer about not agreeing with everything he says.  Probably because he once hosted a show called “Politically Incorrect” and is known to depart from the liberal line.  Nonetheless, Maher did an excellent piece the other night on how U.S. citizens’ lives are really improved — not by mobs wearing Guy Fawkes masks and wielding spray paint but by dedicated people who spend thousands of hours working on and within the system.  This totally-unexpected display of patriotism on his show almost brought me to tears.

•  My spouse bought us a ticket for the $730 million Powerball Lottery, but it was won by someone in Maryland.  That’s OK.  Swearing in two new Democratic U.S. Senators from Georgia and having a Democratic voting majority in the Senate feels like I already won.

•  When this song by Daft Punk (remember it? remember them?) was played on the radio way back when, I thought sure (and I’m not alone) that its title was “Mexican Monkey” and wondered what the hell that was all about.

•  It’s February.  Can you believe it?  A year ago at this time, Trump was being impeached.  No one was wearing masks.  The nation was divided.  Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, signaling an early Spring.  450,000 U.S. citizens had not died yet.

•  Headwear as signifiers of good, evil and authority.  Compare and contrast:

People with headgear, representing good, evil and other attributes

•  Not to embarrass my spouse (I would not dare do that, with Valentine’s Day coming up and all) but I appreciate her more every day.  We have been getting along better than ever,  even in these confined quarters.  For my part, I have been trying to be more aware of when I’m being a pill so I can stop being so.  For her part, as far as I know, she hasn’t had to be anything other than who she always is and d0 what she always does.  What hasn’t killed us has made us lovers.

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