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Scientific Discovery of the Day

April 21, 2020

No, it has nothing to do with COVID-19.

What I discovered today was that if Canada geese eat cattails then their poop will have white fluff, like the white fluff inside cattails, on it. I found that out this morning when I was out for a walk and stepping lightly around a checkerboard of some odd-looking goose poop and then a few yards further on reached the path that winds through a marsh with a goose buffet of yummy cattails.

You wouldn’t know it by talking to me today, but years ago, back in the early 80’s, I enjoyed camping. The more I camped the more I wondered if I could actually ever survive in the wilderness so I bought some wilderness survival books to see what it was all about and to find out what Rambo knew that I didn’t. The books  were interesting enough, and I only mention it because I learned in those books that cattails have many uses in wilderness survival for more than just food for Canada geese. You can use cattails for tinder (the starting a fire tinder, not the dating tinder) and you can make rope out of the cattail leaves and you can eat them in a bunch of different ways, including like corn on the cob. I also learned how to distill your urine using a solar still. Turns out that wilderness survival was more attractive in my imagination than in reality, so my skills were never put to the test. I’ve never distilled urine and I’ve never eaten cattails or used cattails for anything other than taking photos of them.


Neigbors Redux

April 20, 2020

A little over three weeks ago, on the day Minnesota went under a ‘stay at home’ order, after a nice walk around the block, I posted about my neighbors. All kinds of neighbors. Neighbors I never knew I had. Neighbors everywhere. Neighbors I was somewhat fascinated with. Three weeks later and I’m seeing more and more neighbors and to be honest, enough is enough. I have enough neighbors at this point. And considering there were a lot of neighbors three weeks ago, and since I haven’t seen any ‘For Sale’ signs, how can I have more neighbors now?

Where are they coming from and where are they living?

And if that’s not mysterious enough to make you watch your back on a neighborhood walk, dig this: Back then there was a girl who rode a hoverboard and wore a cape and had an old black lab with a grey muzzle and belly. I haven’t seen either of them for three weeks. I have no idea where they disappeared to.

And this: There was a quaint elderly couple I was seeing in the mornings. No sight of either of them in three weeks.

And this: There was a woman with a crooked shoulder or neck and who didn’t seem to be very happy the times I saw her but then who can be too happy if they’re in pain, right? No sight of her either.

They’re all gone.


Where are they all going?

And who are the new neighbors I see who are replacing them?

I haven’t seen any unusual vegetation or delivery trucks so I’m ruling out pods. I’m ruling it out for the time being at least and I’m reserving the right to revisit that theory in another couple of weeks if the neighbors continue to disappear and grow.

Maybe I was right to be a little suspicious of Mr. White Van. This is the neighbor with the large white van that has no side windows and who always has his van backed up to his open garage in the mornings with the motor running and the headlights on. Despite seeing him and his van a bunch of times now, it’s impossible to see what he’s loading or unloading. Three weeks ago I speculated that maybe he was unloading the bodies he’d collected overnight for whatever grim experiments he’s conducting in his basement. (Seriously, sounds goofy, I know, but you see that sort of thing all the time in movies and on TV shows so why not just down the block in suburban Minneapolis?) As the weeks passed and I kept seeing him at the same time in the morning, I decided that he was a contractor who supplied a line of vending machines around the cities and what he was loading in the morning were cases of chips and candy and the reason he was backed up so close to his garage was to A) save himself some walking, and B) not let anyone else see that he had 20 cases of Butterfinger candy bars stashed along with shelves of uber-tasty Whoppers malted milk balls and a passel of potato chips so they wouldn’t want to become his friend and eat him out of house and garage. But that was then and in these rapidly changing times I’m back to thinking about the grim experiments.

Experiments that are possibly being performed on a young girl and her dog, a quaint elderly couple and a woman with a crooked shoulder. And worse: experiments that could possibly involve the creation of new “neighbors” to walk the streets. And as I’m writing this on Monday April 20th at 2:25 pm and looking out my window, I just saw another “new neighbor” walk down the street. This guy was wearing jeans and a blue stocking cap and a bright orange vest like people wear when they go hunting. What’s he hunting? I can’t tell you what his face looked like because I closed my blind so he can’t see me see him. Until I know what, or whom, I’m dealing with I have to assume that they have superb (read: other-worldly) vision.

And if this isn’t enough, when I went for a walk earlier this afternoon I saw a baby garter snake. Isn’t there some mythology out there that tells us that snakes accompany bad things? And then there’s Yig the snake god.

Distressing times indeed.


Sick House (Terrible Poetry)

April 15, 2020

For this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest Chelsea asks for “a parody of a popular song on the theme of COVID-19” (maybe a little inadvertent terrible poetry on Chelsea’s part there with “theme” and “19”? Anyway . . .)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sick House
(To The Commodores’ Brick House)

<<Funky bass and drum groove. You know the kind: the one that makes you get up and dance with the window shades open because you don’t care who sees you doing your thing, even if you haven’t worn anything but underwear for the last month.>>

Mmm, mmm, mmm…

Oh, it’s a sick house.
He’s just wearing underwear and letting it all hang out.
Ah, it’s a sick house.
Coronavirus, means he can’t go hustle about.

Oh, it’s a sick house.
Those funky symptoms makes her have to quarantine
Yeah, it’s a sick house
Makes her stop and think about her hygiene.

They know they got everything
that a couple needs to ride this thing out.
Toilet paper, wipes and bleach
and 36 pounds of frozen lake trout.

Cause it’s a sick house.
They make a porridge with broth and crushed black beans
in their sick house
cuz they read it cures COVID-19

Oh, it’s a sick house.
Nervous break
Nervous break
Nervous break
Nervous breakdown.

Need a mask
and some gloves
and a gown now

Nervous break
Nervous break
Nervous break
Nervous breakdown.

Need Purell
Need some bleach
Need Lysol
Gonna bawl now.

Nervous break
Nervous break
Nervous break
Nervous breakdown.




Random Thoughts #36: What’s the Time?

April 14, 2020

I’m not sure that I’ve ever blogged later than 6:00 PM on any day.

The inevitable questions that always get asked

April 14, 2020

It always happens. You tell someone you eat a plant-based diet and they inevitably ask, “But how do you get your protein?” Tell them you enjoy the Grateful Dead and they’ll say, “Oh… I never got into them; I didn’t do drugs.” Apply for a job and you get asked, “What are your weaknesses?” Reveal you’re an introvert and it’s something like, “But don’t you get lonely?”

Reality: It’s easier to get protein on a plant-based diet than it is on other diets. I don’t do drugs either and it’s not a requisite for enjoying the band’s music or their non-drug influence. Everyone has weaknesses and that’s a stupid interview question that doesn’t reveal anything meaningful. Introversion doesn’t equal loneliness.

I bring this up because I had to go to a Microsoft Teams meeting this morning and I got there a few minutes early and one of my work colleagues was also there early and we’re engaging in the typical inane chat that no one really cares about and then we move on to staying at home and working from home and he says, “All this must be easy for you.”

“What’s easy for me?” I said.

“Working from home and not going out.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you’re an introvert. You’re used to it. I’m crawling the walls here to get out.”

So what do you do? We’re on camera so I can’t stick out my tongue or make a face like I might think to do if he wasn’t looking at me, and I’m not crazy about arguing with anyone about something so meaningless, and now there are two more people in the meeting. I smiled in my usual half-smile sort of way and said that being an introvert doesn’t mean a person doesn’t necessarily like being isolated. “Oh, okay,” he says in that tone of voice that might lead one to believe he doesn’t believe what you just said.

I like to think of this guy – or maybe anyone who thinks they understand introverts because they’ve pigeonholed us into some easy-to-understand figure of a pale, scared, non-communicating, negative-leaning, retreating, shrinking violet – as driving down my block and slowing way, way, way down when he passes my house so he can roll down his window and lean his head out and try and look past the blinds to see what I’m doing in there all by myself. And maybe wondering to himself, ‘What’s he building in there?’ I know the thought would drive him crazy.

“What’s that tune he’s always whistling?”

TV Night (Carrot Ranch)

April 14, 2020

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s challenge.

April 9, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that declares, shield your face. It can be a knight of old, a doctor, or a senior citizen. What is the circumstance? Who makes the declaration? Go where the prompt leads!

= = = = = = = =

TV Night

Derek stood up and jumped in front of the television. Blocking Fannie Flagg’s answer to a Dumb Dora question, he grabbed the collar of his t-shirt and ripped, revealing a sunken chest and a round belly fueled by pizza, soda and Big Macs.

“Whatcha gonna do,” he growled wide-eyed. “When Derekmania runs wild on you.”

Jessie nuzzled closer to her mom on the couch. “What’s wrong with dad,” she whispered?

“It’s the sheltering at home, kitten. I think it’s finally gotten to him. Don’t worry.”

“But that –”

“He’s only having fun.”

“It’s weird.”

“Just shield your face, dear.”


(Stay at home, everyone; wash your hands and be safe and healthy)


Watching paint

April 4, 2020

In 1975 I spent about eight months selling paint. Indoor and outdoor house paint, you know the stuff. It wasn’t a bad job. Mixing colors was pretty fun and putting the can on the paint shaker was a lot of fun. The worst part of the job was unloading cases filled with four gallons each of paint from the delivery truck. Paint isn’t something that a lot of people buy every day so for the most part the job was a lot of sitting around watching paint.

Watching paint dry is an idiom for something that’s boring. Like, “Hey, I’ve got an extra ticket, you wanna go see Train in concert tonight?”

“Train? Seriously? No, man, I’d rather watch paint dry.”

I’ve never watched paint dry, but sheltering/working at home I’ve discovered something equally as boring and that’s watching my beard grow. The first day working from home I woke up and started going through my regular routine. I even made my lunch. It wasn’t until I started to shave that I thought, what am I doing here? I’m not going anywhere and the only people who are going to see me for the foreseeable future are work colleagues on daily video meetings and the occasional grocery store cashier, so why shave, you know? It’s not like razors are as valuable as toilet paper or disinfecting wipes, but why waste them? And then there’s that lifelong worry I’ve always had about having an uncontrollable sneeze when shaving and accidentally slicing my neck wide open. Why take that risk when health workers are tied up with more important things than a slashed jugular vein?

So I watch my beard grow. I watch it in the morning and I watch it when I brush my teeth and pretty much any time I wash my hands. When I went to the grocery store 12 days ago I watched it in the reflection of the automatic door. And when I was out for a walk yesterday I watched it in the reflection of my mp3 player. Yes, I still use an mp3 player.

Realization: watching my beard grow is boring.

It’s also a little bit depressing because this isn’t the reddish brown beard I grew 1985 or again in 1996. This beard has a lot of white in it. What the hell?!

My beard doesn’t scream agony from clinging ice like that Aqualung guy, and it’s not rustling like Glen Campbell’s was when he sang about things that were gentle on his mind. And no, there aren’t any stars in my beard like in that T. Rex Mambo song (which for what it’s worth, is one of the best love songs out there).

No, it’s just a regular beard.

It’s nondescript.


March 27, 2020

If you would have asked me two weeks ago about my neighbors, I might have told you that I didn’t think I had any. On my block are two small condominium complexes and a couple dozen single-family townhomes, and while I’ve always seen a lot of cars, and heard a few vocal dogs, I’ve never seen any people.

But I’ve learned this last week that I have neighbors. Lots of neighbors and a good bunch of them seem to be friendly. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for a long time and I’ve never received as many smiles and waves as I have this week. Except for that one woman who has a crooked shoulder or neck, she’s not friendly at all. But I’m not sure she feels well because of her shoulder/neck so I cut her some slack. I’ll keep waving and smiling and maybe before this whole thing is over she’ll respond in kind.

There’s this one neighbor who raises a little suspicion. He has a large white van with no side windows and every morning when I’m out for my first walk I see the van backed up to his open garage with the motor running and the headlights on. I have no idea what he’s loading or unloading and I just hope it’s not bodies he’s collected overnight for heaven only knows what type of grisly experiments he’s running in his basement. During the afternoon the van is gone. Yeah, I know: hmmm…

There’s also a girl who rides a hoverboard and wears some sort of cape and pulls her black lab along with her. Sometimes she runs with the dog and he doesn’t seem to like that because she sometimes has to give him a tug. He’s an old dog with a good amount of white around his muzzle and belly.

There’s an elderly couple I see occasionally and I like them because they’re quaint and they walk slowly and we’re at the point now where he and I exchange a curt little head nod and a half-smile.

And there’s the neighbor who goes to the grocery store or Target every day. Every. Day. I don’t get it and I don’t know what part of ‘stay at home‘ he doesn’t get. I bet he only washes his hands for 15 seconds, too.

If I sound like Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched, I’m really not, these are just some of the people I see when I’m out walking, and people who walk, run and ride past my window.

Opening Day :(

March 26, 2020

Happy What Would Have Been Opening Day.

Yeah, after five and a half long months of hoping and wishing and dreaming, today is Opening Day for all 30 Major League Baseball teams.

Unfortunately, life had other plans, and with 7.5 billion people huddled in the shelter of their homes and admiring their 200 rolls of toilet paper, the 2020 MLB season is postponed.

Big frowny face goes here.

It’s not bad enough that we’ll have a shortened season, but this was the year that just about everyone* predicted the Minnesota Twins would win the World Series.

That’s it, that’s all I have to say. Now I’ll go for a walk and stay six feet away from everyone else going for a walk. Then I’ll return to shelter in my home and admire my 10 rolls of toilet paper.

And I’ll be grateful that the world has people like Stevie Wonder.

When your sad is bad and your bad is worst
And there’s no who to turn to first
When you’ve done everything you can
No one’s there to take your hand
I’ll be you comfort through your pain
I’ll be your shelter in the rain

* A lot^ of people
^ Some*** people
*** Pretty much me

That Time of Year (Terrible Poetry Contest)

March 26, 2020

This week’s Terrible Poetry Contest from Chelsea: The Topic is birthdays. You all don’t know this, but March and April are our second Christmas around here. Even my birthday is this time of year. So, as a birthday gift to me, write a horrible parody of the classic song you sing for someone’s birthday.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Have a cake made of frosted honeydew,
Happy Birthday to you.

Your birthday is soon,
(Is your favorite color maroon?)
Enjoy being another year older
Happy Birthday to you.

+ + + + + + + +

Hey, listen up, this is a poem.
So sit down and don’t you roam.
It might be kinda terrible.
But it’s still bearable.
And I’ve only got one.
So it’s not spareable.

So I hope you sat down because I got something to say:
The Terrible Poetry woman is having a birthday.
Is that cool?
Better than a sliced boule?
Tell me, what do you say?
Who doesn’t like birthdays?

I’m guessing that jellyfish don’t like birthdays because they don’t have brains so they wouldn’t even know what a birthday is if they even knew when their birthday was.

So the Terrible Poetry woman needs a present.
But not a pheasant.

(Ants probably don’t like birthdays either because their brains are really small)

Something more pleasant.
Like a flower.
Happy Birthday Terrible Poetry Woman (and to everyone else in the TPW’s house)Flower clip art vector

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