Trivial Thursday

First Christmas present of the year received – The Matrix Resurrections debuts December 22nd. It’s shaping up to be a great Q4 for movies. The trailer looks very, very good.

Almost simultaneously, a new movie in one of my favorite genres (end of the world, comet on the way, how do we react?) will be released on Christmas Eve. Titled Don’t Look Up, it has a cast of…well, pretty much everybody: Leonardo DiCaprio (!), Jennifer Lawrence (!), Timothée Chalamet, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep (!), Gina Gershon, Cate Blanchett (!), Ron Perlman, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Rylance, Ariana Grande (?), Tyler Perry, Michael Chicklis, and Kid Cudi. I can’t imagine how they got that entire group to sign on – shoujld be interesting.

I suppose it was inevitable, with all the traveling and visiting done last week. I was around a lot of people including a few sick people, and I’ve come down with something since returning. Classic cold symptoms, but I’ll get a C19 test just in case. Sitting, reading and writing are all within my capability at the moment, but anything else and I’m wiped out.

After buying and assembling three of them, I’m a big fan of Zinus beds and bedframes. We now have two in the new KY house and one in CA. Great value, comfortable and convenient. I’ve always *hated* the shopping process and the price of traditional mattresses and stores, and Zinus disappears both those problems. Online shopping rules!

I’ve arrived back in Socal just in time for a heat wave – gonna be mid-90s the next few days. Good time to hunker down with my cold and stay inside.

Another McSweeney’s classic: A SHORT QUIZ FOR MY STUDENTS IN LIEU OF ASKING ABOUT THEIR VACCINE STATUS OR REQUESTING THAT THEY WEAR MASKS.

On one of my Southwest flights yesterday, I sat among a large group of 40-something guys who were traveling to a golf outing. They were boisterous (that’s fine), but they also pretty much ignored the mask requirements during the flight (not fine). I was surprised that the SW flight attendants said absolutely nothing to them.

Rainy day, no blues

It’s Wednesday, a travel day. Today I fly back to Socal after a few days in KY. Got to spend time with my Dad, the kids/grandkids, and honored an old friend who died too young. Got to see Hudson on his first day of school (picture above).

And it’s raining today, a nice steady rain with a few claps of thunder. That’s one of the things I love most about KY – the water. It rains a lot, there are lakes and streams everywhere. It’s a plant paradise – everything grows here with abandon, fueled by the warmth and abundant rain. The groundwater is soft, filtered by limestone. Your skin feels great after a shower in soft KY water.

The water situation in Socal is exactly the opposite. It’s a desert; almost never rains. The groundwater is hard, full of salts and minerals. And other than a few native species, plants struggle to live on a miserly 5-6 inches of rain per year.

There are a lot of great things in Socal – sunny weather, mostly temperate along the coast, the Pacific coast itself and lots of inland rugged topography. And when watered, things grow well there too. But water is becoming the weakest link in Socal life. Not enough water for agriculture, not enough water for drinking in some areas, and lack of rain drives the relentless wildfires. Streams have dried up, and aquifers are disappearing. Man-made reservoirs drying up must faster than they can be replenished.

In a nutshell, KY is rich beyond belief with water, and Socal is bankrupt. That makes it strange going back and forth, from one extreme to another. I grew up with no understanding of dry climates; I childishly assumed everywhere was kind of like KY. But after traveling the world, I can recognize that KY is almost uniquely abundant with wildlife and water, four distinct seasons. There’s a reason that the native Americans (the Indians, from my original education) considered KY a sacred hunting ground, to be shared and not claimed.

Vote for me

The infernally stupid California governor’s recall election comes to a close later this week, hopefully with the current Governor allowed to stay in office with just a little less money to spend (it’ll cost about $276M to hold the election.) That’s $276M that we won’t get to spend on roads, healthcare, education, clean water, etc.

The law that allows these recalls to happen need to change. Current law allows 12% of voters (by collected signature) to demand that 100% of us pay for a recall. Newsom received 62% of the votes during the last official election, so it’s not like the election was even close. But in what is now true American democratic style, the minority (12%) rules over the majority (62%). It’s insane and a tragic waste of time and money.

On a lighter note the recall ballot asks two questions. First, should we recall the current Governor? And second, if the Governor *is* recalled (with a majority voting Yes), then who does your vote go to?

There’s a long list of politicians, celebrities, gadflies, charlatans, and nut cases who have officially filed to be the next CA Governor. And then there’s a spot for a write-in vote. I am happy to announce that I have received two official votes for CA Governor (my own and my wife’s). That’s one bucket list item I never expected to check off, but…it’s a strange world. So feel free to vote for me just in case, and if I become Gov the first thing I’ll do is change the idiotic recall laws. And move the CA capital to Fallbrook, because I don’t want to live in Sacramento.

Old times

Spent the day today reconnecting with some high school friends and in particular, some members of my HS football team. We had a really nice memorial service for Joe Hall, one of our band of brothers, and I hope people say half as many nice things about me post-life as we said about Joe. He *was* special.

I’ve never been to a HS reunion; I’m not really much for that sort of thing. But this was nice. A few of my friends hadn’t changed much at all, and others like me don’t much resemble our youth. So it goes.

Everyone regretted not staying in closer touch with friends after high school, same as me. I suppose that’s universal. But for a day at least, we set those regrets aside and remembered when we were young. It was pretty great.

WTF, Texas?

Texas is trying hard to show us what a dis-united states of America would look like. Vigilante-ism. No regulations, no laws. Rule by gun and intimidation. In just a few weeks here’s what the crazed TX legislature and Governor have done:

  • Passed a law that prohibits abortion after six weeks (actually, after a fetal heartbeat is detected), before most even women know they’re pregnant. Worse, they’ve included a bounty (!) for any citizen who reports someone assisting a women getting a post-six-week abortion. Random people with no standing in the matter can sue any participant they allege is part of the activity. Clinics and MDs will be overwhelmed by frivolous lawsuits incented by the new law. Pure vigilante. Chaos.
  • Passed a law that allows allowing all Texans to own guns (not a problem) and “to carry them in public, without a license and without training”. So now any dumbass with no training, no license, can carry a weapon anywhere in the state. That’ll help our nation’s gun violence problem.
  • Passed executive orders that prohibit mask mandates of any kind, in schools or otherwise. The rallying cry behind this is “my body, my choice”. Texans seem to fail to see the irony of this with reference to the abortion law.
  • From Digby: “On Tuesday, the Texas legislature passed the final version of the Republican voting bill that bans drive-through and 24-hour voting, both used disproportionately by voters of color; imposes new limits on voting by mail, blocks election officials from distributing mail-ballot applications unless specifically requested; gives partisan poll watchers more leeway to influence vote counting; and places new rules and paperwork requirements that deter people from helping others to vote or to register.” In other words, anything that makes it easier for people to vote, they’re against. And vigilante “poll watchers” are empowered. I detect a theme here.

I hope all those Californians who moved to Texas to take advantage of favorable job and housing markets, along with favorable tax rates, are happy with their new vigilante home. When an unlicensed, unhinged nutter tries to enforce his “understanding” of voting laws or school mask requirements and draws down on them, they’ll understand what it really means to be back in the wild, wild west.

This situation is not going to end well.

Hello September, goodbye Joe

The transition month begins with a lot of memorable news.

  • Yet another massive hurricane cripples Louisiana and the Gulf coast. It’s hard for me to understand why people continue to live in the low-lying areas there – they flood and get crushed over and over.
  • The Texas governor and legislature continue their attack on citizen’s rights, from voting suppression laws to a weird but effective (if left in place) repeal of Roe v Wade.
  • The forever war ends due to a courageous move by the Biden team. Yes, people died in the process but this is and was a war zone. The critics don’t have any better ideas; they’re just critics. I just read that the forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost us $300 million per day, every day, for twenty years! Imagine if that money had been spent on US citizen health, infrastructure, R&D and other constructive causes.
  • COVID-19/Delta continues to burn through the US. It’s now driving hospitalizations and deaths at the same rate as the worst days of 2020, before vaccines. Nature is a bitch.
  • My old friend and football team mate, Joe Hall, has his memorial service this weekend. I’ll be there.

It’s that last bit that I’ll elaborate on. Joe Hall died way too early of stage 4 cancer at age 63. Joe was an integral part of our championship 1970s high school football team, one of the players that kept our spirits high. He was funny, lovable, and tough as nails. I remember the time that Joe, playing linebacker, hit another player so hard that he bent his steel faceguard inward, very visibly. We were all shocked – those things just don’t bend. But Joe just carried on.

Joe was an orphan, raised in a group home (maybe the Ramey Home), so his high school buddies were pretty much his family. Joe married his high school sweetheart, Dawn Forrest, and they eventually settled in Florida. We’ll see Dawn this weekend. I spoke with Joe a few times over our adult years, but never visited (big regret there). He became a scratch golfer, which I was envious of. But good for Joe. I think the last time I saw Joe was at the 2003 reunion of the team at the high school, but I’ve combed through my pictures and don’t have any of him. I broke my yearbook out for the first time in years to see a few pictures of Joe. They brought a smile.

I suppose I’m at that age when more and more of the old gang will say goodbye to this life. Joe being one of the first is hard to take, and is a stark reminder that our time here is limited. Too short. But Joe is remembered, and this weekend his teammates and I will show up from all over the country to honor him. RIP, buddy.

News 8-31-21

Today is the actual 1-year anniversary of my knee replacement. I guess the warranty period is over.

In more interesting news, it’s actually raining today in Fallbrook. I can’t remember it *ever* raining in August. We have a wet monsoon coming up from the south causing this unexpected rainfall, lightning and thunder. It’s a nice surprise.

In more important news, the headline from MSNBC: “Joe Biden ended the war in Afghanistan after 20 years.  That’s a BFD. ” I agree completely. Argue if you wish about how the exit was conducted, but Biden made the hard call and got the job done. We have no business trying to build democracies in the Middle East when our own is crumbling. Take your last shots at Biden over this and then let’s get on with doing something useful here at home.

Tomorrow it’s September, the transition month between summer and fall. For our KY home, that means the beginning of cooler weather, harvest time and leaves turning from green to red/brown/yellow. For our CA home, that means the beginning of hard-core fire season and Santa Ana winds. Fall in Socal is very different than Fall back east.

Negative news

Hurricanes and floods. Pandemic part two (or is it part three?). Fires in CA, including close to home. Extreme heat across the US. A sad end to the endless war. The polar ice caps melting. Political corruption and incompetence. Constant evidence of man’s inhumanity to man. (Or woman. Or pick your noun/pronoun.)

It just doesn’t pay to watch the news these days. A constant diet of that and you wonder “…what’s the point of it all?”. Nihilism creeps in, when in fact there’s plenty to be happy and thankful about in the world. There needs to be a news channel that isn’t all disaster-porn.

Why *do* the news channels all focus on the worst of the world? Obviously, they do it because it sells, it makes them money, but why? What attracts the masses to a constant feed of negative news?

I’m sure one of my psychologist friends could come up with a good explanation. For now, I’m just lumping this in with my general disdain for people on average. On average or viewed in large numbers, people have very disappointing behavior. To be clear, there are plenty of people I like and respect a lot, but en masse…not so much. Homo sapiens have some very rough edges.

The absence of pain

In just a couple of days I celebrate the first anniversary of my knee replacement. Time flies; much has happened since August 31, 2020. I thought of this because today I’m heading out to play golf, and I’m walking the 18 holes. A year ago that wasn’t possible – too much pain.

Having a pain-free knee really is life-changing. I knew I had to get the surgery when I was in KY in late spring last year and I had to turn back on a short walk with the grandkids. It became clear that I could not / did not want to be the weakest link in our family outings. I wanted to be able to keep up with the grandkids. Hence, the surgery.

Great surgeon, dedicated rehab regimen, and it all turned out well. My right knee is now the strongest part of my body. It does get stiff if I fail to stretch it for a few days, so it’s a good reminder to get up and do something, to move around. But this week I celebrate the absence of pain, gratefully.