Department Of Irrefutable Evidence
Now I know I’ve given up: I put away the St. Patrick’s Day dinner decorations.
Moiself and MH had a dinner party planned for Tuesday, March 17, an event that – surprise! – got…suspended. At the time, I told would-be attendees that we were, in an act of delusion optimism, not cancelling the invitation but merely postponing it, and that I would be leaving the dining table decorated. And I did, for two months. Then, gradually, the napkins and plates were put away, and I put the table décor, such as it is/was (think: an eight-year-old’s idea of festive holiday dining), into its long term storage bag but did NOT transport it to its shelf in the attic. It remained on the table, until three days ago.
Instead of deleting the reminder I had on my computer calendar (“Rsch St. Patrick’s day dinner when COVID shit is over”) I have reduced its occurrence from weekly to every other month. The computer prompt, initially a hopeful harbinger of a return to normalcy, came to be a dispiriting reminder of physical isolation: I miss the company of dining and conversing with friends, both long time and recently met, all treasured, and groaning at each recitation of a dreadful (but occasion-appropriate) joke and pun. 
All apologies to the centerpiece: Good Lady Spud, your time shall come again.
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Department Of The Title I Want When I Grow Up
…I’ve carved out this little niche for myself on the internet…
because as we all know, the easiest way to be at the top of your field is to choose a very small field.”
(inventor Simone Giertz, in her TED talk)
Dateline: Monday; listening to a TED Radio Hour episode, titled “Pure Joy.” A description of the episode, as per the TEDsite:
More than ever, we need to make time for joy. This hour…(we)…explore talks that surprise, inspire, and delight.
The first talk excerpted was one given two years ago by Simone Giertz. Twenty-nine-year-old Giertz, the creator of the toothbrush helmet,  is a Swedish inventor and robotics enthusiast. She’s also, and perhaps most prestigiously for her generation, that which most generations never imagined would be a thing: she is a YouTube celebrity ®.
In her talk, “Why You Should Make Useless Things,” Giertz apparently advocates for inventing devices which are “useless at solving the problem they are attempting to solve,” but which serve a higher purpose of overcoming your fear of failure (by working hard at something you know is bound to fail) and teaching you engineering and design skills. I say “apparently” because I was unable, or rather unwilling, to listen to the rest of her talk, after hearing the podcast curator describe Giertz as
“…the queen of useless robots.”
Overcome with both admiration and envy, moiself completely lost interest in listening further. I figured it was better to let my imagination take the wheel as I envisioned the perks and responsibilities of that particular kind of royalty.
* * *
Department of The Neighborhood Guerilla Prankster Strikes Again…
In Her Dreams
There’s a house a couple of blocks away from my street with an attached, two-door, three-car garage set up:
An older couple lives in said house. Depending on the route I take, I often walk past the house in the morning, and I’ve seen it with either or both garage doors open; thus, moiself knows that the smaller, one-car garage is not used as a garage but has been turned into the workshop space of the older gentleman. When the workshop/garage door is open you can see the tool racks and radial saw and other workshop equipment; when the workshop/garage door is closed, you can see a sign on it which reads, MEN ONLY.
When I first saw the sign, and then every time I walked past the house, moiself had the almost overwhelming desire to take a picture of it, then take the picture to a signage shop and order a self-adhesive sign in similar lettering, color and size that read: GIRLY. The plan: early one morning, I would post GIRLY above MEN ONLY.
Alas; the time for that prank has passed. I recently noticed that the exterior of the house (including the garage doors) has been painted, and the MEN ONLY sign has not reappeared on the garage door. Still, I think of it when I pass that house, and remind moiself of the ultimate reason I decided against enacting my prank: the ubiquity, nowadays, of cell phones and home security cameras. Ending up on someone’s YouTube shaming video is not something I crave for moiself , even in the performance of (what would have been) a public service.
* * *
Department Of Just Wondering
Due to the wildfires plaguing the West, I am checking the Air Quality Index several times daily – even though a cursory look out of my house’s (all tightly closed) windows tells me all I need to know about whether or not it’s safe to go outside.
How quickly I and my friends have adapted to using yet another acronym:
“So, what’s the AQI in your town?”
This is so surreal. The air where I live has been smoky-jaundice-colored; the pictures I’ve seen of the Bay Area’s midday, sci-fi/Martian orange skies have a certain, apocalyptic beauty, even as I realized the horrific reasons behind them that had nothing to do with a more benign reason, such as a particularly flamboyant sunset or sunrise. 
In my early morning walks (the ones I used to do before our AQI was at Hazardous level – the carefree mornings before I even knew what an AQI was) I pass by several houses where I often see a smoker out on his front porch, lighting up his first deathstick cigarette of the day. Actually, I smell the smokers before moiself sees them – even from across the street. I’ve come to know which houses they live in and cross to the other side before passing by. (Most smokers seem to not know – or care – how far their effluence travels and how long it lingers.)
From having exchanged pleasantries with them over the years, I know that the main reason these folks are lighting up on their porches is because they are the only smoker in their household, and they’ve been forbidden by their spouses and/or other family members from polluting their domicile and have been banished to puffing in The Great Outdoors ® .
I haven’t done a morning walk since the AQI reached the first level of Unhealthy…even though I didn’t know it had done so at the time. I’d gone out earlier than usual and wore a mask; it was the first morning where the sky looked…suspicious. I decided to end my walk after 30 minutes, and thought I probably shouldn’t walk outside again until I figured out what was going on. On my way back I passed by two of the Porch Smokers, the glowing ends of their cigarettes providing an eerie impetus for me to get back home.
Our current situation: we’ve been warned about the wildfires near and far, spewing particulate matter in the air which, at an AQI in the upper ranges (which we’ve been having in the Pacific NW for days), can aggravate or trigger serious respiratory conditions in otherwise healthy people, even with relatively short exposure.
So, when smokers awaken, and eagerly or furtively inhale the day’s first fumes into their lungs, moiself can’t help but wonder: what’s being circulated in the organ between their ears? Amidst the reports of the wildfire’s devastation – it’s been all wildfires, all the time, for local news reporting – including the loss of life from burns and smoke inhalation, do they consider even for a moment the fires’ victims? Do they find their eyes tearing up with compassion as they think to themselves, “Oh, how awful! Those poor people!” as they suck in their own mini-conflagration?
While we live with the warnings to not go outside even for short periods of time because breathing the air could sicken or even kill you, and smokers continue to expedite that process by lighting up their cigarettes.
We humans are experts at compartmentalization and denial…and, yeah yeah yeah, nicotine is one of the most addictive substance on earth, and addicts are not known for rationality and or introspection thoughts…. Still, it boggles my mind.
The Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society’s annual “quitting campaign,” is on the third Thursday in November. The Not-so-Great American Smoke-In is happening as I type. Aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh.
* * *
Department Of, Of All The Things To Be Thinking About….
2020. The year that, on a national and global shitstorm level, has brought us:
* Year three of criminally negligent governance by a musty scrotal hair of a human being (#45) and his soul-sucking sycophants;
* the Murder Hornet ;
* Too many Americans determined to focus on someone looting a 7-11 rather than face the centuries of systemic injustice which have prompted the (majority peaceful) displays of civil disobedience;
* the apocalyptic wildfires in the US, yet another testament to the consequences of ignoring of global warming…
On a personal level,  my concerns include a friend who fled the wildfires (her town is essentially gone; her neighbors have lost nearly everything); my daughter Belle who, recovering from foot surgery, has developed an allergy to medical adhesives holding her bandages in place; MH’s “sister/cousin”  and her protracted recovery from the heart surgeryand kidney failure after she and her young adult daughter discovered they both have a genetic disorder which has given them, among other conditions, aortal defects; learning that the son of my MIL’s longtime friend and business associate has just lost his son to suicide….
Two days ago, amidst all of these woes and more, I found moiself thinking,
I really hope Mel Brooks doesn’t die right now.
The beloved comedian/writer/screenwriter/playwright/songwriter/director and WWII vet has seen so much in this world, and contributed so much to our culture…and now here’s this shitty year in which Mel had to mourn the death of his best buddy – another national comedy treasure, Carl Reiner.
I just want Mr. Brooks to be able to survive this year. I would so look forward to his commentary on all of this, you know?
Two of my favorite scenes from my favorite Mel Brooks movie:
* * *
Pun For The Day
The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar. It was tense! 
* * *
May we work for the best (even if we suspect the worst);
May we return to the privilege of not knowing our AQI;
May we all be deserving of even the most obscure royal title;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 “What do you call an Irishman with an IQ of 100? A village.”
 A device which you have never heard of because it is “recommended by zero out of ten dentists,” the inventor admits.
 Henry IV, Part 2. I don’t imagine Shakespeare imagined just how heavy – or silly – crowns could get.
 Ash higher in the atmosphere turned the Bay Area skies orange, as opposed to around me, where the smoke was lower. If I can remember some basic physics/light refraction, I think this has to do with the high ash/smoke particles scattering blue light & only allowing certain wavelengths of light – yellow-orange-red light – to reach the earth’s surface.
 It must be time for another footnote.
 This not some Mormon polygamy term; rather, she is cousin who is more than a cousin but not technically a sister – she came to live with MH’s family when she was an adolescent, after both of her parents died.
 I’m sorry, but there is no room for a seventh footnote.