Warning Shots

The truth is, I don’t want to have the flu.  Like so many things in my life, not limited to but oh-definitely including specific kinds of food, I can get irrationally romantic without thinking things through.  How nice it would be, I will sometimes think, to have the flu, forced to take it easy and wander through the Netflix library, family members bringing me juice and feeling my forehead.

This never works out; having the flu is miserable, and the past couple of times I’ve had something resembling it I’ve tried to force myself to remember.  It’s no fun to be feverish, repeat after me.

So I didn’t resist getting a flu shot back in November, even though it felt funny, as if my doctor didn’t really ask my permission.  Just gave it to me, along with a whooping cough shot, as if imagining that even an idiot wouldn’t want to be sick.

I take things seriously these days, particularly being called an idiot.  So yesterday morning was ominous, a slight cough that felt like the flu, then that goofy, warm feeling that can lead to no good.  Since we’ve had a couple of days of constant rain, and it was dry at the moment, I went outside and took a walk, assuming I’d either feel better or worse, a couple of miles only, then stared at an impending afternoon of lots of work and kept feeling my forehead.

I couldn’t find a thermometer, which might have told me something, and had an interesting discussion with John about the merits of walking (in the rain, now) to the drugstore while sick to find out how sick, but I decided to try some ibuprofen.

So it was that, or my superhuman powers of immune system control, or more likely no influenza bug floating around my system.  I’m not saying it was a great day, but manageable and I got done what I needed to do, and there was nothing romantic about it at all.

——-

I had lunch last week with friends, and even though the discussion covered several topics one of the usual ones came up, and it made me wonder.  A generation ago, would a trio of men our age spend any amount of time talking about this particular subject?  So I wondered in print.

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Wednesday Archives

Wednesday has been Column Day for 11 12 years, and over 11 12 years some stuff will happen. My rule of thumb is that one should not re-read oneself unless one is willing to pay the emotional price, which usually involves groaning, but at least it’s some sort of record of what I was thinking, or not thinking. Some of these are collected in my books, but I’ve decided to ignore that for the time being and just find one from the past, every Wednesday, and post. If not for your edification, then mine. Groans are acceptable.

From January 31, 2011

——-

My son turns 21 next week, a good age to be at any time, although the statuatory importance is lost on him.  There’s nothing legally kosher now that he has any interest in doing, but it still feels like a big deal.

To me, at least.  I now have spent more than two decades in the presence of my own personal cheerleader.

He’s always been this way.  He’s had interests and lots of challenges, but over the years he seems to have naturally developed some sort of imperative to buck me up.

“Your hair looks great today,” he says (my hair?), or he compliments me on the color of my shirt or the spring in my step.  “I love to see that smile,” he says when something amuses me.  Really, it’s strange; young men and their fathers are supposed to be dueling levels of testosterone, one peaking and one waning, but I live with a guy who seems committed to cheering me up.

A few years ago, a time when I was working at dropping pounds and actually exercising, he might as well have been using pom-poms.  One day, after I’d finished a workout and walked into the room, dressed in shorts and a T-short, a walking sweat generator, he went overboard.

“You look GREAT,” he said.  “Like an Olympic athlete!  Seriously, Dad, you look fantastic.”

Which, of course, I’m always glad to hear, but he continued.  “You look like you have a young man’s body that somebody stuck an old guy’s head on.”

He also has a thing about honesty.  He’s the total package.

I was 31 when he was born, and if you’ve ever been 31 and now you aren’t, you will understand perfectly my delusion that I am still 31.  The changes have been minor, insignificant and hardly worth mentioning.

But a 21-year-old sees it another way, sees an old guy who has always been old, even if he has a killer body, a nice smile and great hair.

And he’s not the only one.  In my 40s, friends in their 70s would scoff at my gripes about age and make jokes about my youth and inexperience.  Now that I’ve passed the half-century mark, though, they think we’re contemporaries, and they wave me over to the recliner so we can reminisce together about our favorite doctor appointments.  I’m now one of them, and it’s a little weird.

On the other hand, apparently there are advantages.  A friend of mine from college, who lives in the Sun Belt, talks about the time of year when young women start wearing fewer clothes in public.  “No one minds when I stare,” he says, “because I’m over 50.  I’m invisible.”

I accept it all, gray hairs and less hairs, aches and pains and colonoscopies, all of it.  The only thing that bothers me is that I can’t explain what happened.

And I can’t.  Smarter people than I have tried over the centuries and failed.  The late Kurt Vonnegut used to get annoyed when young people wanted him to explain how the world got to be such a mess.  “I just got here myself,” he’d answer.

But I’ll give it a try.  Let’s assume you’re 25 years old and for some reason you’re reading a newspaper (humor me).  I will explain what it’s like to get older.

You’re minding your own business, daydreaming, when suddenly it occurs to you that you can remember things from 30 years ago.  Very clearly.  And slowly but surely, you realize that it’s not 2011 but 2036.  Someone your age is president of the United States.  You have grown children, gum disease, a giant bald spot and only a faint memory of what an iPhone was and what it was used for.

And just as you begin to panic, you wake up.

It was only a dream, a bad one, and with relief you head into the bathroom and look in the mirror.

HA.

Surprise.  Staring back is a 50-year-old.  You only DREAMED you were dreaming.  You are, in fact, old.

That’s what it feels like.

It feels like a cosmic prank played by a universe that resembles a fraternity house without the charm.  It feels like an “Inception” spoof on SNL in which dreams are built layer by layer until reality is questioned and your eyebrows start growing like crazy.  It feels like a mistake.

And it will happen to you, in that exact way.  You think it won’t but it will.  One day you’re young, the next day you’re turning the music down and the heater up.  It’s inevitable.

As I said, I accept it, mostly because I don’t seem to have a choice, but also because I still feel 31, I still like rock ‘n roll, I still love pizza and hot sauce, and I look fabulous in this shirt, I do.  Or so I’ve been told.

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Private!

We know now that in the early years of the 20th century, this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man.  – Orson Welles, opening the Mercury Theatre’s Oct. 30, 1938 radio production of “War of the Worlds.”

 

It took a few years, and intelligence is hard to quantify, but of course we’ve been watched.  My mother worked in retail, at a large department store, and pointed this out to me often.  Still, it’s odd how rarely it crosses my mind, that I’m being observed, if only by a camera.

I thought about it the other day, putting gas in the car.  Looking around, trying to imagine how many security cameras from various businesses around the gas station might have me in their lenses.  I gave up at a dozen.  Probably more.

So there’s that.  It’s hard to hide in urban areas, so pick your nose carefully.  Easier, maybe, outside of cities, but ever take a look at that Google Earth thing?  Amazing.

Aside from the cameras we all now carry with us in our pockets, this is nothing new, or all that alarming.  It takes at least one person to watch another person; we can do the math.  And security is often a two-way street; what’s left is what we choose to negotiate in terms of liberty, and privacy.

Forget the cameras, though (you will anyway).  And forget the digital revolution, Big Data, your intimate financial, occupational and other personal details nicely gathered, usually with your help.  Technology isn’t cyclical; this is how we live.  As above: All that we have is negotiation, and most of us are too busy.

It’s privacy I’m thinking of, and the kind of privacy clamoring that pops up every few weeks, mostly on Facebook.  If you use social media, you’ve seen the variations, and most of them are quick to point the finger at the Big Bad.  It’s Zuckerman, Inc.  Those bad Facebook people are making it harder to hide.

Like any number of things that have to do with Mr. Internet, this is backwards.  Facebook is actually strengthening their privacy controls.  You have much finer detail manipulation than you used to.  It’s sometimes awkward, agreed, and clumsy to find, but work has been done and I assume more will be.

But that won’t stop the horror of privacy invasion, so let’s just be upfront here: Picking your nose carries a price.

In fact, as soon as we moved from the farm to the apartment, we lost a lot of privacy.  Arguments were overheard, living rooms glimpsed, flushes flushed.  Cook with garlic and everybody knows.

I get frustrated.  Facebook, it’s been said, is now the new commons.  It’s where we go, many of us, to check in, hang out, say hi, and do whatever it is we do.  If for some reason you don’t want pictures of your kids loose and available online, here’s a start: Don’t post them.  Also check your settings; seriously, you have a lot more control than you might think.

More frustration: I’ve picked at a few friends lately, almost against my will, pointing out that they’re spreading totally made-up stuff online.  Most of this was essentially harmless, but if we don’t police ourselves, it’s not going to get done.

Rules for living, then, or living online, just to release some tension this morning.

  • STOP.  Before you copy and paste, STOP.  Every single time.  Think of this as spreading disease.  Maybe wash your hands before you consider it.  I mean it.  STOP.
  • Ditto for forwarding emails.  STOP.  THINK FIRST.
  • Nobody gets anything by you pressing “like” except an analytics boost.  No lives are saved, money raised, puppies sent to good homes.  Nope.  Never happens.
  • Nothing is free.  If it sounds free, it costs more than you want to pay.
  • If something you read confirms your biases (even if you don’t think they’re biases), research first.  If it seems so shocking, so terrible, so indicative of a world heading for Hell, take a moment.  Google is your friend.
  • While it’s hard to pin the origin story down (I think it’s here), some version of this quote is starting to drift across our online consciousnesses, and it’s important to think about: If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.  Facebook and Google and Twitter and Yahoo and all the rest: They’re enticing you into a room with promises of free airline tickets to sell you time-shares.  It might be worth your time, but know what you are and what’s being done, and it’ll save you a lot of privacy grief.

And, again: Enough with the picking.  Get a room, you guys.

 

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Taking The Cake

I want to use the word “venal” here, but I need to be clear that I don’t really know what it means.  I sorta know what it means, but my wife has left for work and she would know.  And for some reason I’m avoiding taking 5 seconds to look it up.  Sort of a prideful thing.  Also, it just feels right.  Venal.

It’s possible it means something other than I think it does, the way some words do.  You might know the definitions of “erstwhile” and “bemused,” or you might just think you do.  Context can be confusing, too.

And I’m not good with adjectives either.  I’d probably make a lousy novelist, too spare, but not in the Raymond Carver way.  In the boring way.

But venal it is.  I made some venal cake yesterday.

It’s the oldest excuse in the book: Really, Officer, I didn’t mean to bake.

I just wanted to take an easy day.  I didn’t go to church.  I took a nice long walk in some pretty soft rain.  But something about this idea, which JK brought up a week so ago, how there is this cinnamon-chocolate cake at Starbuck’s that is just so delicious, burrowed around until it just broke through on my restful, thoughtful, soulful Sunday.  “Delicious”?  That’s a fighting adjective.

So after the walking and the showering, I looked up a recipe, made some commonsense adjustments, followed one direction I would have been better off ignoring, got the ingredients, spent a godawful amount of time measuring and mixing (and then cleaning up), and out came venal.

Or dastardly, maybe.  Whatever.  This was the most delicious thing I’ve ever put into an oven and then pulled out.  You could taste every ingredient, from the truck load of butter and sugar to the pinches of ground cloves and ginger.  This was more than cake. This was a metaphor, an omen, an Ark of the Covenant that should never, ever be opened unless you’re looking for special effects.

It was good, really.  I only nibbled on it but I could tell.  And Julie had a look on her face…

——

“It’s Complicated” (2009) seems to have a nice run going in terms of continual rentals, I read somewhere.  People seem to like it; maybe because it’s a grown-up rom-com and it’s really funny.  I’ve seen it a couple of times, and laughed.

There’s a scene in it, in which Meryl Streep’s character, a Martha Stewart-ish bakery owner, takes Steve Martin, who’s becoming her love interest, into her bakery late at night, after a party, and offers to bake him anything on the menu.  He picks a croissant thing, I think; at any rate, I was rolling my eyes as Ms. Streep rolled out the dough.  You know this thing would take at least 12 hours.  Anyway.  Suspension of disbelief.

But then she watches him eat it, and we watch him eat it, and we see the look in his eyes as he chews and gasps at the same time.

Now that I think of it, there’s a similar scene in “Stranger Than Fiction,” which is a similar successful recent grown-up rom-com.  Featuring a baker.  I’m going to have to think about this.

But Maggie Gyllenhaal offers Will Ferrell some cookies, and he gets that same look.  A look you won’t get with just sugar, or sauce.  Can’t get it with meat and/or vegetables.  Or even ice cream.  Has to be baked.  It’s a baked look.

—–

That’s the look I saw on my wife’s face.  That’s why, when yesterday I said I wanted to take the day, I wasn’t just blowing smoke.  Just maybe unclear on how I would take it.

And venal?  Just looked it up.  I was totally off base.

But then, you didn’t taste the cake, now did you?

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I Will Take This Day

I wish sometimes I didn’t like coffee so much.  It feels indulgent, to look forward so much that I want to go to bed early, just to make it and drink it the next morning.

I’m not much of a fan of indulgence.  I appreciate the thought, the philosophy, the playfulness, the whole-heartedness of it.  I just think it’s not much for me, too scary, too much history.

But coffee?  If we learned anything from reading science blogs in 2012, we learned that football is very, very dangerous, and that we can pretty much drink all the coffee we want.  Science is cool.

Coffee is my favorite time of the day, another fear.  Rely on regular comforts and one can start to rely on routine, and routine, again, makes me wary.

But damn.  This is particularly good coffee this morning.

And now I am going to take this day.

——-

I don’t have much of a desire – and that’s aside from all sorts of practical reasons – to delve, blog-style, into soul issues, personal soul I mean.  But it’s been a wild few weeks.  Not depressing; I know something of depression.  Just a sense, creeping, that there’s part of me I can’t touch anymore, and all the endodorphins in the world (and I try) haven’t quite delivered me.  I’ve been fooling around lately with dumb things I can, playing with music and words, looking up recipes, pointing my camera at still lives, something, to get back somewhere I can barely remember.

Last night I felt better, too.  My son pushed me outside, into the rain, because he’s smart and he knows me.  “Walk,” he said, and even though I always walk, it was rainy and I’d already done some exercise and still, he does know me.  So I took an hour in sort of wispy rain, which will get you wet over the course of an hour but not so much by the minute, and he was right: I felt better.

And then the two of us took another walk, where he bought a pizza and I bought cream and half-and-half, because he’s been after me to make some vanilla ice cream.  I realized I’d forgotten to get chocolate sauce (part of his indulgence), but I had some Dutch-processed cocoa and I made some spectacular chocolate sauce, I mean, spectacular.  Have you seen “Chocolat”?  You would know something about this sauce then.

I didn’t eat any of this, despite my resolution failure.  I wasn’t in the mood for ice cream.  I was just in the mood to hang out with my son, and have our conversations that we do, and entertain him with something he wanted, but really?

I wanted to make something.

And now I’m going to take this day.

———

Just a little break, I think.  A day for me.  More walking.  I’m not going to ignore anyone – as in the Robert Frost poem, I’m not going to lean on my hoe and shout across the field, “What is it?” when my friend stops his horse.  I’ll do what needs to be done.

It’s just that I had a couple of hours of peace last night, and I remembered it, and I thought, you should take a day.  Not go to the movies or to the beach or watch old Bogart films or read new books.  Just take a day to regroup, maybe.

This was the whole purpose of trying to save these days, right?  This journal, this blog, these routines (ouch).  I may have been approaching it wrong, I wonder.  Anyway.  Just going to take the day.

The wrong way, you see, may be categorizing and logging and listing, trying to remember, and I should know better than to trust memory.  What I was trying to do, if you insist, is institute some change, and so now I think I will just take this day, and remember Mr. Thoreau, who at least one time had it all figured out:

Things do not change
We change.

And back here tomorrow, of course.  Routine, and all.

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Having A Nice Day

You know how it works.  In fact, it’s common enough that I’m not even going to Seinfeld it and be cute and say, “Did you ever notice…”  Blah.  You know.

Sometimes you get up earlier than you think you did.  You don’t look at the clock, it’s winter and dark a lot, you wake up and get up and make coffee, and only then realize it’s 3am or something, and by then you’re up.

It’s not personal.  I got up at 7 this morning.  Just thought of the analogy today.

Something disorients you, throws off your entire day,and suddenly, maybe, you get a sense that today – and only today – and maybe only before you take a nap, if you can – you can be a different person.  Because you essentially started out that way.

And some days, regardless of when I get up, I think I might be a mean person today.

You may not not know this about me, but I am not a mean person.  Which does not let me off the hook at all.  I’ve said plenty of mean things, particularly to people I love.  I’ve done mean things.  I’ve felt mean, and I’m talking A LOT.

It’s just that I daydream, occasionally, on odd, disorienting days, that maybe I could be given free rein to be mean.  To tell that person who consistently writes haiku on Twitter that it almost certainly is objectively HORRIBLE.

And other things.  I stop now because you never know who might happen to stumble across this, and then actual meanness might result.  I don’t feel mean at all.

But sometimes I just wonder what it would feel like.  For a day.

——-

And then I think of a guy I know, who’s incredibly smart and accomplished and as far as I can tell, rich.  Rich enough to not really run a business anymore.  So instead, I found out the other day, he’s working with the neediest among us.  The children, lost in our miserable foster care system.  I’m sure he could fill his day with other stuff, but he does this.

Then I not only feel ashamed for my little fantasy about Mean Day, I get a little overwhelmed with the goodness of people.  And I suspect this guy is, spiritually speaking, probably an agnostic type.  He hasn’t been reminded of goodness once or twice a week in church, studied up on it, learned how to do it properly – which, to be fair, I think we could all use, in a busy world.  He just is.  Because why not?  He was born into a good family that from what I gather was pretty much what we would now call the working poor, and he got scholarships, and he is super smart, and so on.  It’s not so much that I admire him as that I get enormous pleasure out of knowing he’s in the world, and that there are others.  Maybe things aren’t as bad as we think, if we think that.

Not a mean bone in my body.  I swear.

——-

And if some of you think he’s going to Hell because he doesn’t care much one way or the other about God, then I dunno.  I still like you.  I think you’re crazy, though.

——

We are 26 days, or getting there, into 2013.  One of my goals was to trim down so that I could make this movie in the summer and not have to suck in my gut, although I wasn’t exactly obese.  A few pounds heavier than I wanted to be.  As I mentioned to a friend at lunch the other day, as the three of us 50-somethings were eating sensible meals, with vegetables and stuff, having weighed 272 a few years ago I can live with anything under 200 pounds pretty comfortably.

But trimming wasn’t a bad idea, and the one solid New Year’s resolution I made was to give up ice cream for a year, which is going fine depending on if you define a year by 11 days.  Some ancient cultures might, you know.  A sore throat led me away from resolve and into the carton, although I’ve been pretty moderate.  Ice cream sits in my freezer right now and doesn’t call me at all.  But I didn’t make that resolution.  No grief here.  Good ideas sometimes don’t work out.

As far as the rest, January has been OK.  When I got on the scale January 1, I suspected it showed me a figure that was about three pounds higher than I really was, just based on eating late at night for the past week.  Now it’s the opposite; I believe my scale shows me about three pounds lighter than I actually am, but I’m not sure why I think that, other than a natural tendency toward being conservative in these matters.  At any rate, I’ve lost about 14 pounds, or maybe 11.  I’ve averaged 1700 calories a day, and slightly less than 600 calories burned in exercise, both of which could have been better but aren’t bad.  By July I can probably be OK, depending on whether I get any more sore throats.

And feel free to laugh at me for failing the ice cream test, but know how mean that is, and unless it’s your particular special day I think we should all just focus on doing better, you think?

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Halfway To Kansas

You know the story, if you’ve read this far, but to recap: After a year of keeping little iPhone app data on routines, I decided on the first day of summer, 2012, to keep an actual log/journal of sorts, just to remind me of what was going on.  Mostly trivial, completely uninteresting to anyone else, although I’ve password protected it just out of habit (so no sneaking around!).

And about a month later, as I turned 54 and completely invented a conceit, and not for the first time, I decided to document my last year of statistical significance (before I became a demographic ghost rider, 55 and older).  Mostly it was a device to warm up my fingers and see if I could get juiced, creatively speaking, first thing in the morning.  I had some idea that I’d take note of the outside world and what I think of it, but frankly the outside world doesn’t energize me all that much.  And when it does, I have good friends and a lovely wife to hash it out with.

What I ended up with, then, was just more of the same on a daily basis.  I haven’t gone back through it, for the most part, as I seriously doubt I’d find coherence or anything resembling narrative.  Just me, a keyboard, a few paragraphs.

But I’ve done it, dammit.  Today is #184, which means I’m starting the second half of the year.  Maybe I’m just hitting my stride.  Maybe I’m starting to twist in the wind.  Maybe I have no idea what will happen.  Maybe duh to that.

Here’s to consistency, anyway.  Dear Lord, I could have used consistency in my life up to this point.

The empiric evidence is amusing, if you’re into that kind of funny: Despite the reliability of this daily blogging, almost no one reads it.  I have tens of thousands of weekly newspaper readers, and about…10?…regular blog readers, something, depending on how aggressive I promote a particular post.

And as we all know, I’m not an aggressive guy.

But I thought I’d note it, this half a year of daily typing, and promise to try not to miss any of the next six months.  Because I will let you in on a leetle secret – the next six months or so?  Maybe the next year?

Gonna be interesting.

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Ode to Oaths

The first MacIntosh computer went on sale today, January 24, 1984, something that occasionally comes to mind when I happen to read it on Wikipedia.

We’ve been both Mac and PC households, and I could argue for both.  Lately, as my cheap but functional laptop (a Lenovo; don’t dismiss them, they’re making some waves in the inexpensive PC market) has been acting up, never a good sign, always a challenge, and these are the times I gaze at the Macbook Air with lustful eyes through the window of the Apple Store.  It would be so easy…

But there are other things, and, again, I use my personal computer the way I use my dishwasher.  It does what it’s supposed to do, assuming I remember a couple of things, and it doesn’t break the bank.  You want to give me a Mac?  I will take it.

——

And speaking of nothing in particular except the 1980s, I turned my little anniversary on Monday into a column, playing off something Pres. Obama said in his inaugural address, almost a throwaway line.  We all of us tend to take oaths from time to time, formal or less so, make promises do uphold some philosophy or other, and while I’m not overreacting here (I think), it makes me happy to think that a promise was somehow made 30 years ago, and still being made, and kept.

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Wednesday Archives

Wednesday has been Column Day for 11 years, and over 11 years some stuff will happen. My rule of thumb is that one should not re-read oneself unless one is willing to pay the emotional price, which usually involves groaning, but at least it’s some sort of record of what I was thinking, or not thinking. Some of these are collected in my books, but I’ve decided to ignore that for the time being and just find one from the past, every Wednesday, and post. If not for your edification, then mine. Groans are acceptable.

From January 19, 2005

——-

Writing about the weather in western Washington is only slightly less risky than trying to predict it.  There are just too many variables.  This is the meteorological equivalent, maybe, of rugged individualism; what happened at my house may not have happened at yours.  So one has to be careful.

I do think we can all agree it was a little nippy there for a while.

And I had some snow, just a little.  Again, maybe you did, too; I don’t want to assume.

I like snow.  I know that to some of you, this is like saying I enjoy traffic jams or flight delays, but it’s my romantic side.  When it snows, I remember my 3-year-old daughter, bundled up so tightly she could barely move her arms, trying to form a snowball.  I remember the first house my wife and I lived in, 7000 feet above sea level in the mountains of northern Arizona, with six-foot drifts on the front lawn and a fire in the woodstove.  I have nice memories of snow.

So I can get a little obsessive come winter.  I watch the weather reports, looking for that magical combination of Arctic air and moist stuff.  I’m almost always disappointed, but I got a little taste a couple of weeks ago, and it occurred to me then that maybe in addition to obsessing I get…I dunno.  A little weird.  I’ll give you a couple of examples.

First, there’s the snowman my neighbors made.  I didn’t see them do it, but it was a classic.  Branches for arms, carrot for the nose, everything.  It was, in fact, a very well-constructed snowman, the kind an engineer might build, which may very well be the case; these are new neighbors and I don’t know them yet.

It’s been a remarkably durable snowman.  The snow on the lawn disappeared pretty quickly, but the snowman’s hanging in there.  Almost two weeks, as I write, and he’s still looking good.

A little too good.

Snowmen melt ugly.  They decompensate, they drip from the top down, like the Nazis in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at the end.  You want to turn your head and not think about that Frosty song.

But somehow, in this weather, this snowman is giving up the ghost gradually, and in a subtle way. 

He’s getting thinner.

It’s like The Snowman Who Cut Carbs.  The Snowman on the South Beach Diet.  The Snowman Who Got Stapled.  Or else he’s got some sort of degenerative illness.  Because I’m pretty sure he ain’t been exercising.

It’s really amazing.  I’m almost tempted to walk up to him and say, “Man!  You look great.  What’ve you dropped, 50 pounds?  You’re a RAIL, a stick.”

So I’m thinking maybe a few brain cells there got frostbitten.  Maybe more than a few.  I mean, you can contemplate a snowman’s metabolism only so much before your local mental health professional starts taking copious notes and talking about lithium.

That’s not the weirdest part, though. 

As I said, I can get a little obsessive.  Several times a day in the past week I was looking at the forecast, mostly because they kept talking about snow and that’s all it was, talk.  Talk is cheap, I say.  I want to see results.

I’d look at one of those weather pages online, the ones with the extended seven-day forecast, with each day having a little box with a graphic: sun, clouds, rain, snowflakes.  And underneath the picture would be two numbers, right on top of each other, the high and the low.

This confused me a little, although normally I’m not much of a weather watcher so maybe I don’t know the right terms.  But when it says the day’s low will be 32 and it’s currently 27, what’s that about?  So I was thinking, maybe they don’t mean the traditional day, but the next 24 hours or something.  Or maybe the overnight low for the next night.  I spent a fair amount of time on this.

And then it occurred to me: They don’t say “high and low” by the numbers.  They don’t even say “hi and lo.”  They just have these two numbers, one in red and one in blue.  So it struck me that maybe I was looking at those numbers wrong.  I thought, how do I know which one is supposed to be the low temperature and which is supposed to be the high?

I swear.  I thought about that for maybe a minute.

Maybe you have to think about it for a minute, too.

Oh, well.  It’s back to wet and warm, same ol’, same ol’.  I seem to be a little more coherent, but it’s still winter.  I’ll keep my eyes open for maybe one more snow, just so I can sit on the sofa and watch.  In the meantime, though, I’m back to concentrating on my own waistline and staying away from weather reports, watching the gutters drain appropriately and making sure the roof doesn’t leak.  I’ll be normal again, then, as much as that’s possible.

But I might sneak another peek at the snowman.  Just to make sure he’s not jumping rope or something when I’m not looking.

 

 

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Sick Day

It is my opinion, sharpened through decades of pouring over medical records, and on at least one occasion having them poured over me (Christmas party that got out of hand), that visiting a doctor is over-rated, other than purely socially.  Most things get better all by themselves, and the things that can’t probably won’t be helped much.  In our future of electronic interaction with the medical community, which I see happening already and cautiously approve of (no scales!), what little we need – the occasional antibiotic or pain medication, a referral to a specialist, a specific sort of imaging technology – I suspect we’ll get healthier.  Every time I see someone who regularly visits the doctor, I suspect I’m seeing a person who’s about to get sicker.  There’s always something to find.  We’re all dying.

Anyway.  I’m sick today, and have been, minor in the big picture or even the minor picture.  I’m still dying, but not today.  Don’t get too close, is all, and we’ll all be fine.

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I watched the President’s speech yesterday, short and fine, struck more by a sense I got that he was more relaxed than I’d ever seen him.  Presidents age and weaken in office, we’ve all seen this, it’s a tough job, but he seemed stronger and more comfortable.  Maybe it’s all that working out.  Maybe it’s because his kids are getting older and seem to be doing OK in the spotlight.  Maybe because he’s given up working with the crazies and will stick with the opposition who want to get things done and forget the rest.

Or maybe he’s finally realizing his Marxist, Islamist dream of turning the U.S. into a Greek-like, Sharia law-inspired fascist, Godless state.  I mean.  You see what you see.

Me, mostly I turned it off after so I didn’t have to listen to David Gregory and Brian Williams hear themselves talk, which was my good deed for the day, but as I say: I’m a little sick.  I’m sure I’ll be better tomorrow.  Maybe all of us, too.

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