Category Archives: That 70s Journal

Short entries (a few hundred words) on personal observations since turning 70.

Journal Entry: The Gambler and the Thief

September 24, 2023 (Reading time: 2 minute)

Yesterday I was confronted by a stranger at the McDowell trolley stop. He was inclined to chat, so I indulged him, and learned he was bound for some bar to watch a college football game. His manner was the striking thing about him: He was fierce, a bit, and seemed a little angry under his skin. He was also unusually open about himself, admitting to a problem with drink and drugs, and gambling. In the course of a few minutes I’d learned this well-groomed guy had spent time in Tampa, LA, and now Charlotte, and was not presently using. I decided that maybe this underlying anger was at himself, to be headed to a bar where he shouldn’t be drinking, and watching a game he shouldn’t be betting on.

I had another striking encounter last night, in one of those dreams that persists on waking. A different stranger inserted himself into my path and task, which was to shift a vehicle and boat trailer at a sandy rustic marina. This fellow had longer, darker hair, and was taller than the angry guy, and his manner was jovial, engaging and friendly, except he was intent on talking me into handing the truck, boat and trailer over to him. He was larceny with a smile. No matter how I countered his intent, he’d smile and shake his head, refusing to get out of the truck, and reaching for the keys in the ignition. Eventually, I ran him off by summoning the boat yard guard.

Over coffee this morning it occurred to me there was some relationship between these guys, and some reason for their persistence; the focus they clearly command for me.

First, the two of them differ from me in many respects, being engaged in action challenges, while I usually pursue duty and observation. I was on a grocery shopping trip when I met Angry Guy, and was doing my job for the marina when Chuckles, the boat thief, showed up. They were, by turns, tempting personal demons of addiction, and thievery, while I sat there, a foil to their actions.

I’m glad to have met them both, if only for the opportunity to reflect on them, and try to capture them in words this morning. They are both characters, the stuff stories are made of, and their choices, however questionable, are full of life and momentum, and remind me to engage with my demons and the world too, and not merely observe.

Journal Entry: Time for another jab…

September 23, 2023 (reading time; 2 minutes)

I awoke this morning with a notion of starting a journal now that I’m getting comfortable in my seventh decade here on Earth. Modest goals, I thought, just a paragraph or three daily to clear my head, or set down my nightly dreams, or rage against wrong-doings to set the world aright before the important business of solving the NY Times Wordle.

Maybe I’ll post these up on the blog, too, at times. There aren’t many out there who would be so rude as to read them and laugh.

Ann and I are getting over our is it fourth COVID vaccination? (Ann has corrected me: It is our SEVENTH!) My left arm has a knot at the injection site which matches a sore place that remains in my right arm from the jab last year. I’m also apparently due for a flu shot, too. I don’t mind. We’re grateful for the margin of safety from these measures. I don’t do respiratory infections well. Sore arms are a small price to pay.

I’ve had COVID twice now. Thrice if you count the rebound episode the second time, but that was only re-testing positive after an all-clear instance. Or it could have been a false positive. There’s never absolute certainty in a world riven by pandemic, not that you hear that word so much now. The panic has faded. We see masks but not so many. I’ve stopped using one myself, unless asked to. There wasn’t a line for the vaccine this time, and I forgot to ask for the once again free COVID tests. Just last summer they wanted $20 for a pair of them.

And to be clear, COVID hasn’t taken a physical toll on me. We know people who have been hit hard both with their health and peace of mind. I’m grateful for Paxlovid, and for Ann’s and my continuing health. I’m grateful for my physician, Eugene Sangmuah, and for the virologists and microbiologists who curtailed the disaster. Thanks, Gene! Thanks, y’all!

American politics is in a shambles…

American politics is in a shambles, and it’s entirely due to the faction that gave us the former guy, 45, Donald J. Trump.

Long ago in a simpler time when small towns had parades with fire trucks, marching bands, and sidewalks lined with families and kids waving flags, this nation celebrated its simple two-party politics with neither side holding sway too potently, and the losing side of some electoral contest would cheerfully muse, “Well, the pendulum can always swing the other way next time!”.

Today we have a majority of a minority party still capable of commanding a majority of the electoral college (but not the last time, thank God!) who are under the spell of a candidate now facing 91 felony counts on four separate indictments. They are a passionate bunch of folks.

I’ve been talking with a number of former-guy supporters, and you just can’t get them to confront the reality of these pending court proceedings. They either change the subject to “the Biden crime family”, as if that was an actuality, or they discount the importance of the indictments entirely. They are a tribe united in their denial of events they’ve seen with their own eyes, and firmly believe they are entitled to believe lies while knowing them to be lies.

Which is precisely how the RICO statutes in Georgia were used to indict 18 co-conspirators alongside the former guy. Because you aren’t entitled to ACT on a lie you know to be a lie when your actions impact the outcome of a fair election to overturn it in favor of the loser.

These neighbors and acquaintances, as far as I know, aren’t engaged in conspiracies with a direct impact on events. But in so far as they deny reality, and willingly adhere to leadership they either know or suspect to be lying, they act in bad faith.

This time in our history has become the age of bad faith. Too many of our countrymen are willing to adhere to lies spoken to promote the privileges of their faction, to disfavor “the other”, and while eroding and degrading the institutions which made this nation what it once was, a reasonably fair and flexible democracy.

Gingrich and the Neo-cons, and every zero-sum gaming, winner take all pol, player, and office holder since them have brought us nearly to the end of the great experiment of American democracy. And they’ve done it by promoting fraudulent concerns while ignoring real issues and problems.

And, irony of ironies, they’re celebrating closed-mindedness; the adherence to “alternate” facts, and “us vs. them-ism”, against the great “evil” of WOKE-ISM, which I guess means people who are aware of what’s actually happening, is true, and worth attending to, and working towards.

I’m of the opinion that most of these former guy supporters wouldn’t recognize functional government if it reduced unemployment to under 4%, and showed them a faster economic recovery post -COVID than any other nation on earth, because, well, they don’t. Too busy mumbling about the Biden crime family, and ignoring 91 actual felony charges pending against their former guy…

Colorado ‘Rona Episode!

We took a trip to Colorado in mid-July and somewhere along the way I picked up my second bout of the ‘Rona. The Frontier Airbus 321 has seating for about 180 passengers, plus crew. I think I might have picked it up from the stewardess who laughed in my face when I asked if there was breakfast on board.

Even when the fever and sore throat showed up back at home the next week, I’ve got to say the trip was worth it. Both Ann and I arranged to spend time with great friends from our separate deep pasts. It’s not just any old friend who will let you install a ceiling fan with them, dangling from a 20 foot A-frame ladder. And Ann’s college roommate knew some really wonderful places to hike.

I was able to knock off the rest of this year’s professional CE in one lengthy meeting, too. So, all good, mostly.

But Coronavirus is still a damned annoying presence in the world. It’s nothing to play around with, and can set one up for cardiac and vascular complications. Ann and I both showed symptoms within the week after our return, but somehow only I tested positive, and became feverish.

We both were able to obtain Paxlovid on our first symptomatic day, and I can’t understate the importance of that. It is a major game-changer, and will get you out of bed much faster than without.