Monday, October 31, 2022

October Tweets of the Month


• I live in a house with 3 sassy women. I teach a class of undergrads raised to be hyper-sensitive on any number of topics. And I'm under a constant barrage by boneheads eager to engage me in provocative political and social arguments. I hold my tongue so much it's a wonder my fingertips don't have tastebuds.

• Some gifted writers enjoy gilded reputations, movie deals and widespread approval. They are famous authors. Others are considered dangerous, yet still secure movie deals for their illicit work. They are infamous. Then there are guys like me. We have none of that. We're unfamous.

• Hearing people judge those who attend hurricane parties always cracks me up. This is Planet Earth 2022. Climate change, drought, injustice, partisan rancor -- and most of us remain by choice oblivious to it all. It's one big Hurricane Party and we're all standing in line while the bartender cuts citrus fruit garnish. Party on.                         

• The Metric System has been the dominant unit of measurement in England since about 1680. The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964. Pete Townsend wrote the hit single "I Can See for Miles" in 1966, one year before setting foot in the USA. Question: In the 1st draft of the song, did Townsend try the lyric, "I Can See For Kilometers and Kilometers and Kilometers …"

• John Lennon was killed in 1980. George Harrison died in 2001. Paul McCartney is 80. Ringo Starr, 82. I'm not wishing any ill on either, but if the actuary tables are to be believed The Fab Four will one day soon have a heavenly reunion. I have to think there are already lines forming at the ticket windows.

• I drink too much. Laugh too loud. Lie to dodge tedious tasks. And at the end of another week when it could be argued my greatest achievement was not dunking the  phone in the toilet, I forgive myself my sins. Indeed, I put the human in humanity.

• I was stuck at an interminable red light wondering about all the things that take so damn long. Things like waiting for the computer to boot up, TSA lines, and getting stuck on IT hold. Our busy lives are consumed by mini-eternities. Want to know something that goes by like lightning? Sixty years. 

• It’s sadly ironic that in a day when social media creates disposable "stars" that light pollution is resulting in the visual obliteration of actual stars in the heavens.

• Reuters headline reads "Russians attack Ukrainian cities during rush hour." They still have rush hour? Traffic on the 4s? Beep 'n' creep? If ever a situation called for suspension of rigorous work duties, I'd think "Sovereign Country invaded by Russian Army" would top the list.

• One of the many oddities of my existence is that by most demographics I'm considered working class, yet few would consider what I do to be actual work and if I  have any class at all it's not readily apparent even to me.

• Say what you want about their leadership abilities, but if nothing else at least TRUMP, BIDEN and PUTIN would  make dandy Wordle first guesses.

• What salient fact on one of the day's biggest stories did nearly every news organization get wrong? They all declared Alex Jones was ordered to pay "nearly $1 billion" in damages. Pardon, but it was $965 million. That's not nearly a billion. It's off by $35 million. That's a lot.

• Some have suggested I'd sleep better if I stopped worrying about things over which I have no control. I get it. I can't stop wars, reverse climate change, etc. But it could be 50k years from now & I'll still be fretting about kids running w/wrong crowd. And we'll be in Heaven!

• I read because I'm convinced the more I have in my mind the less I'll have on it.

• Seeing a vivid rainbow over Latrobe this morning reminded me of the Sunday school lesson that the phenomena was God assuring that everything's going to be all right. It's good to know on these days when so many feel truly godforsaken, like He's Holy Ghosted us.

• I’d like to one day report on malfunctioning picnic ware litigation so I could without exaggeration describe it as a real basket case.

• My fear isn't that when the robots show up they'll take over my job. My fear is that when the robots take over my job no one will notice I'm gone ... Wait.  The whole premise is absurd. C'mon! Me? With a job? Who am I kidding!

• The Swedes must cleanup in the fish Olympics. I mean, who's their competition? They are the only nation that has organized their fish in the whole pescatorial realm.

• That scientists say Earth is 4.5 billion years old only adds poignant urgency to the timely challenge of reversing Climate Change. Anything that's 4.5 billion years old and still seems too young to die is bound to be pretty special. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

When did chocolate milk become nutritionally evil?


(683 words)

I couldn’t tell whether the stranger was mocking me or we were on the verge of bonding over my breakfast beverage of choice.

“You don’t see many grown men who feel secure enough to order one of those in a crowded diner,” he said.

We were sitting at the counter in the Youngstown Grille, just up the street from the Tin Lizzy and the best breakfast place in Westmoreland County — and I’m not saying that just because they put posters of me and my books up on the walls (although that doesn’t hurt in the rankings).

So what was I drinking that was so childish it startled the stranger?

Hawaiian Punch?

Apple & Eve juice box?

Pedialyte with a twist?

No, it was chocolate milk.

And although I can’t be certain, I think it had just two ingredients, chocolate and milk. So it isn’t being cunning or trying to conceal its composition. It’s the Gin & Tonic of breakfast libations.

When did it become a dietary object of ridicule?

I looked at my place setting. There was nothing else there that, to me, would draw mockery. There was no sippy cup. No loopty-loop straw popular with the 4 year olds. I stopped using those  when I turned 50 and decided it might be time to try to at least appear mature.

In fact, there was no straw at all. There never is. The efficient and pleasant Youngstown Grille staff all know not to ever bring me a straw because they’re trained to understand this bedrock characteristic of my conduct.

No straws. I don’t suck.

I should have known ordering chocolate milk would one day become controversial the day my wife felt compelled to share her nutritional insights in ways befitting a supportive spouse.

“I can’t believe you still drink chocolate milk,” she encouraged.

It was like the day she busted me removing from the freezer what would qualify as a sunrise staple in my college days — and that’s higher edoocation!

That’s your breakfast?”

That was Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, an ice cream delicacy created by Vermont alchemists who one day divined caramel, marshmallow, chocolate ice cream and tiny chunks of fish-shaped milk chocolate would hit the same spot in the craving brain as bacon and eggs.

Try it!

And invite me! I’ll even bring my own spoon, the one with the happy, little dinosaurs on the stem.

I already know the rap on chocolate milk. It’s high in calories and sugars that lead to obesity and heart disease. The internet usually conveys the news accompanied by pictures of grim-looking doctors with stethoscopes draped around their necks.

But the pro-chocolate milk people tend to use drawings of cows with reassuring grins that seem to say, “Love me! Eat me! Drink me! I’m yours to plunder!”

I’m not kidding when I say I felt the stranger and I were about to bond. I was disposed to liking him immediately. Why?

For one, he was reading a book. A major league book.

Yes, it was hard cover. Mine are all softies, which is only one step up from the cardboard kind teething toddlers gnaw on or as I call them “Read ’n’ Chews!”

We talked about where to find the best breakfast in the area.

“I live in New Stanton,” he said, “and I’ll drive a long way for a great breakfast. This was a long way but it was well worth the drive. I’ll be back.”

I showed remarkable restraint by not pointing out the posters and books on the shelf were mine.

Before departing he thoughtfully poked his head in the kitchen and said loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear, “Thanks, men. That was the best breakfast I’ve had in years. I’ll be back.”

I hope he is and soon. He seemed like a great guy.

I won’t even mind if he ridicules me for drinking chocolate milk. He could tell me healthier options and I’ll tell him to shove off. 

He can go Phish.

But only on the days when he doesn’t feel like driving to Youngstown for breakfast.

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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Just not a B'n'B kind of guy


(610 words)

My disdain for the Bed & Breakfast option nearly surfaced when the sweet West Virginia proprietor told us she’d had some guests from Pittsburgh the previous week.

I almost blurted out, “Oh, and how did they taste?”

But I bit my tongue, unnerved by the prospect that our hosts might be biting it later on.

I’m not going to contend all B&B operators are cannibals (well, they are in the slasher movies) but I’ve never stayed in a single one where I didn’t move all the furniture in front of the door.

What kind of people would want a bunch of towel-stealing strangers roaming their halls day and night?

It’s just weird.

Besides the fear of being eaten and served to the other guests, staying in a B&B prevents me from doing two activities I enjoy in my own home.

That would be farting and having sex.

What? You thought I was going to say Yahtzee?

Farting and screwing are two reliable home pastimes.

I say farting and having sex like the frequency of the two are neck-and-neck. Alas, the count is lopsided. I do a whole lot of the one and comparatively little of the other.

I won’t keep you in suspense: for every 15 or so farts, I probably get lucky once or twice.

Those of you with a nose for statistics may sense that all that farting is to blame for the romantic tally coming in a distant second. To you I say, you’d be wise to keep your nose out of my business, especially when the topic is flatulence.

But let’s stipulate I fart. A lot.

Just not when I’m in stranger’s home, which is the essence of your average B&B. Farting in the dining room after a big meal is considered rude. So is farting on the back porch even when frogs from the nearby pond can camouflage the offense.

Heck, you don’t even feel comfortable farting in the bathroom. And even in the fanciest B&Bs, the bathroom is where they always put all the toilets.

I know. Go figure.

Yes, I’m even reluctant to make any typical bathroom noises in a typical bathroom.

So, in the end, I wind up succumbing to a sort of self-imposed constipation. 

Sex? Forget about it.

Sure, you can have polite sex, but what fun is that?

Polite sex is when a stealthy hand signals the foreplay has begun and it’s time to whisper what kind of condiment you want poured onto your tummy.

Me, I usually go for the spicy brown mustard so I can imagine we’re doin’ it during a rain delay at the Bucco game, which I recommend every couple try at least once. PNC Park is a great place for quiet intimacy because there’s never anybody in the stands — especially if the Pirates are playing a home game.

I prefer really rowdy sex. Roof-rattling sex. Cat. 4 sex. Sex so tumultuous that when the cops kick down the door you just know they’ve brought folding chairs and the bargain bags of kettle korn.

You just can’t get away with that in a B&B.

I feel sheepish mentioning all this because we wound up having a lovely time at our secluded little B&B. It was relaxing, scenic and we weren’t hoodwinked into dining on the remains of the tubby Clevelanders who’d stayed there the previous week.

We got home safe and sound and full of memories and, of course, full of the accumulated compounds from a weekend’s worth of captive gas.

It mattered not because there’s no place like home.

Even when it’s full of fart.

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