The PVP Diaries #69

Sanding the deck has been like doing a jigsaw puzzle. The Italian and I work on it when we have the time, sometimes together, sometimes separately. We’ll look outside after a while and say “woah, looks like you got a lot done today.” And last night, when I was driving home with the kids after soccer practice, I realized I was going to be a little annoyed if she got to be the one to finish it.

Percentages. Deaths were hovering at about 7% of positive cases for a very long time. I imagine the 4.7% will continue to drop. And 13.5% of positive cases seeking hospital care certainly sounds high to me, but I have no idea. This does not appear to be the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, is all I’m saying.


Mary Rowlandson is a strange read. Being captive of the Indians seems to have been an unpredictable blend of torture and ease. She seemed to be able to wander their camps fairly freely, entering any wigwam she wanted to at any time, and even invite her owners to “dinner” if she scrounged up enough food to share. But then also she received beatings at random times, had her food stolen from her pockets as soon as it is given to her, and was sold between families. Maybe it was that frenetic unprdictability that fueled her peculiar habits of capitalization and italicization:

“The Woman, viz. Good wife Joslin, told me she should never see me again, and that she could find in her heart to run away. I wisht her not to run away by any means, for we were near thirty miles from any English Town, and she very big with Child, and had but one week to reckon; and another Child in her arms two years old; and bad rivers there were to go over…”

“English” and “Indian” receive frequent, but not consistent, italicizing. And capitalized words from that passage like “Town” and “Child” are written un-capitalized as often as not. Old timey stuff, whatever. I’ll get over it. I am not a scholar of the grammar and mechanics of the 17th century Engrification.


Have to run – cutting it short. But not without reporting that as it happened, the Italian did not finish sanding the deck while I was away at soccer practice last night. But she very nearly did, excepting an area that was soaked the day before – collateral damage from yet another battle in the Coronavirus Not-So-Dead-End Street Water Wars of 2020. A fight that escalated (as they always do) from balloons to water guns, which leads to the positioning of several 5-gallon buckets (both Home Depot orange and Tru Value white) in various spots around the neighborhood for resupply and reloading, until someone finally says, “Oh just to hell with it” and takes control of the nuclear arsenal by grabbing the hose. Naturally this is when the shouts of “that’s not fair! begin, answered by a bloodthirsty, 9 year-old cry of “F*** fair! THIS IS WAR!”


Capital capitalization, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #68

Maybe bring paddles back to the classroom, too.

Let me bring this back for a minute:

We’ve been having a small uptick in deaths to go with the large bump in positives. The graphs are predictably startling. But “tons more people being tested everyday,” and all those mitigating factors, and whatever. I don’t know what this thing is, how serious or grave, but it’s certainly still here. That it is being artificially buoyed to some extent by politics is undeniable (or so I think), but who knows how much. And as I look at graphs with a marked upswing in the last couple of weeks – tests, positive results, deaths (not so much an uptick as a steady presence), I then come across the graph for new hospitalizations:

There appears to be a sort of diminishing of severity to go along with the surge in occurrence, such that you wonder how much we still have to fear. Some of you will say “there was nothing to fear in the first place,” some will say “don’t let your guard down,” and others will give it the ol’ “a little of both, somewhere in the middle.” All I know is that I don’t want to homeschool my son again.

The parents at The Boy’s school started a long email situation the other day, prompted by a Dad linking to an article about outdoor classrooms – some nod to yesteryear, open-air learning environments, the benefits thereof, etc. A dozen or more emails followed, all laser focused on that subject. The next day a friend, Mom of one of The Boy’s classmates, texted me privately and said that if they don’t – first and foremost – get a solid, complete plan in place for remote learning, they’ve failed. She sent an email to the school saying the same. I couldn’t agree more. Whatever the Coronavirus might actually be on the sliding scale of Vast Government Conspiracy to Global Death Sentence, the likelihood of being in the classroom in the Fall is close to zero (at least here in Washington). And this is the 21st century. I like the idea of outdoor learning as much as the next guy, but we’re not paying all that tuition to send our kids to a 1907 model of education.


The reading’s all been somewhat one-dimensional. And I also forgot to mention that my first post-4th of July read was “In the Heart of the Sea” as a follow-up to Moby Dick. I say go and read it. Twice, even. But under no circumstances are you to watch the movie. Do. Not. Watch. It. The book was written by a man with the most New England name I’ve heard since Hester Prynne: Nathaniel Philbrick. You’ll see some references to the whale stories in my hockey novel, if that ever comes to pass (no, it isn’t actually a hockey novel). Highly recommend.

To mix things up, and because my not-a-hockey-novel is set in a fictional Massachusetts (OMG I spelled that right on the first try) town, I’m starting today on Colonial American Travel Narratives. It begins with Mary Rowlandson’s story. The introduction (yes, I repeat, you have to read the introduction) goes a bit predictably academic when Rowlandson fails to mourn the death of her captors’ baby:

At the same time, the religious framework that mediates Rowlandson’s suffering makes her blind to the suffering of those who don’t share the same cultural assumptions.

Christianity and cultural assumptions? TARGET ACQUIRED. Please, Professor, do go on:

Rowlandson’s inability to extend sympathy suggests that her survival instinct outweighed the Christian admonition to be charitable.

No, it didn’t. In fact, I don’t see how her survival instinct had anything to do with it, or Christian charity. Rowlandson had already seen “seventeen family members and friends butchered before her eyes.” The people who did the butchering kidnapped her, and at some point lost a papoos of their own to sickness, about which Rowlandson simply said “I confess I could not much condole with them.” It would take something like a humanities professor to translate that reaction into cultural insensitivity or religious hypocrisy. For my part, I find the fact that Rowlandson did not outright celebrate the child’s death, and characterize it as an act of divine retribution, to be charitable in the utmost. Christian, even.


I take the kids to the doctor today for an annual checkup. I have no idea if this will involve any sort of a traditional flu shot, or if we’ve dispensed of that cute little ritual altogether. Seems kind of like going swimming in a raincoat at this point. I’ll certainly ask.

The PVP Diaries #66

Fourth straight zed. You know me, I don’t get all conspiratorial and pull a full 1984, but sometimes the government is all, like, “hold my beer.” Seattle now has a hotline for reporting businesses that don’t comply with the new mask law, and has created an ominously named “Education and Outreach Team” to handle businesses that are in violation. It is a part of something called “The Department of Finance and Administrative Services’ (FAS) Consumer Protection Division,” which has been granted “enforcement authority over businesses that violate the mandate.” That sounds pleasant It is my understanding that we’ve always had a hotline for reporting violations of the law, but in fairness, that one’s 3 digits long and really hard to remember.


Small entry today, as we’re packing up and heading out this morning. 5-ish hours to the destination, and everyone’s goal is to make it without having to use the bathroom at some virus-infested backwater rest stop in the sticks. Much of the drive will be wide open countryside – Eastern Washington and that part of Idaho is not very populous, to say the least. It should be a beautiful drive. Bio-anatomically, The Boy and I shouldn’t have any trouble in the case that nature calls, but the ladies might struggle a bit. We did get a portable toilet – a sort of short TV Table with a toilet seat for a top, to which one can affix a “liner.” It isn’t very inviting. Smart money says that if it comes down to it, they’re going to opt for the rest stop. We have plenty of hand sanitizer and gloves.

My wife (family members need nicknames on blogs. Maybe I’ll call her The Italian) will be doing most, if not all, of the driving. She gets car sick easily, so driver is the best position for her. I’m not complaining. As the passenger I can reach back and punch the kids easier when they complain too much. Maybe I’ll keep the laptop handy and type up countryside impressions on the fly. Live-blog the pee breaks.


Karamazov is complete. I do appreciate the ending, the way it contrasted two different deaths and triggered thoughts of the novel’s first death much earlier on. How does a person’s life influence their death, and what do we learn from any of them? What constitutes a tragedy? Who deserves our respect and who among the living is even worthy of offering it?

Lighter reading for the trip this week, as I’m bringing the Mr. Rogers book, Kindness and Wonder. So far it’s just biography. The introduction was very off-putting, with a bunch of PC virtue signaling by the author over climate change that was very much not in keeping with the concepts of either kindness or wonder. But considering that the rest of the title is “Why Mr. Rogers Matters Now More than Ever,” it’s predictable that things might get a little preachy. It’s that “now more than ever” phrase, signalling compliance with the notion that at any given time, we live in the worst of all possible times. I’m just one guy talking here, but I don’t think Fred Rogers would agree that the need for kindness and wonder varies in degree from day to day, and depends on the state of the ice caps. But what do I know?


Don’t pee there, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #65

Still not dying. I didn’t look very long, but I couldn’t find the data on age distribution. I hear tell that the median age for infection is dropping quickly, which probably (but what do I know) accounts for the increase in cases alongside the decrease in deaths.

An employee at our Trader Joe’s has tested positive, awakening all kinds of brilliant commentary. There’s something like 80,000 people in West Seattle. People are going to get sick. I am no great denier; I take precautions and work to keep my family safe and uninfected as best I can. But still I believe 100% that our problem-to-panic ratio is grossly unbalanced. Every time an employee of some local establishment tests positive, the pitchforks get lit and the torches get sharpened. Suddenly this previously cherished business is accused of failing the community. It’s absurd. In fairness, there are those that come out in support as well. “TJ’s has done a great job from the beginning, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t guarantee that nobody will get sick.” The world’s got a lot of sensible people in it, too, they just don’t head to the comments section quite as often.

It appears the vaccine conversation has already been soundly stratified into two camps: “Inject me yesterday,” and “full Anti-vaxxer.” A few people have expressed a desire to be, perhaps, cautious in adopting a brand new vaccine, its effects being naturally unknown, and they’ve been labeled dangers, threats to public health, and even (no kidding) flat-earthers. Me? I like caution and restraint. I do, however, believe that one part of the reason that vaccines take so long to become available is due to the rigorous and lengthy testing process. It’s not a guarantee of safety, but really there’s no such thing.

One person who said “I don’t want to be injected until I know it’s safe,” was met with “then your decision will result in many more people dying.”

I’m no logician, but I don’t think it works like that. The only trouble I have with the original comment is that it makes everyone the canary in your coal mine. Hard to decide whether it’s wisdom or selfishness.


After a short total news quarantine I decided this morning to check the internet for lies about things up on Capitol Hill. It turns out they’ve changed the name from the mockably effeminate CHAZ to something that more accurately bespeaks the violence within: CHOP. The Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. Looks like they’ve been doing quite a bit of shooting up in there, so they might as well skip to the end and change the name, finally, to Chicago.

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I forgot how much I like Marcella. It’s been a long time since season 2 on Netflix, so I had forgotten about it. It’s British detective stuff – DCI this and DS that, and the 3rd season hangs out almost entirely in Ireland. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but there’s enough difference and depth, especially in the Marcella character herself, to separate the show somewhat from the thousands of others in the genre.

Marcella: Season 3 – Review | Netflix Thriller Series | Heaven of ...

Now I’m on to season 3 of Dark, which gives me my sci-fi fix. It’s German and subtitled and has a pretty convoluted storyline. After a few episodes I think I’m going to go back and watch the first two seasons again, in order to get my mind back on track with it.

Dark: Season 3 – Review | Netflix Series Finale | Heaven of Horror

But first and finally, Karamazov. About 60 pages remaining, so I need to head out to the porch with a coffee (it’s dark and rainy today) and finish that tome once and for all. I was going to read it last night after everyone went to bed, but it got to be too late, what with watching “Worst Cooks in America” with my daughter, and catching the end of “Back to the Future” with The Boy. All I could do after that was go to bed. I was already there, anyway.

Later we pack for the trip. My wife was planning to buy the groceries at Trader Joe’s today. We’ll see if she changes tack due to the Wuhan worker.


Music again? Same as yesterday – it’s all about the sound. Reader Marica and I had a brief chat about tidy madness a while back (wow, that was 46 entries ago). She sent me down a rabbit hole involving some kind of landscape theory that I actually pursued for a couple of hours, but my memory drops everything that I don’t revisit almost daily. As for this ditty below, I don’t actually feel the morbid panic and woe in the least, but I appreciate the access to the emotion. I feel some actual joy, instead, from the marriage of the sound to the sense, the words to the way the energy rises and falls, speeds and slows. And in snatches, the poetry’s quite perfect:

WAIT – I just realized I’ve posted it before. Here’s something else, that fits all the same. The madness is plenty tidy:

Dead weight under my feet
Peeling up my honesty

Somehow I forgot what it was worth
but I’ll follow his notes
to the edges of the earth.

Creatures of the deep
Keeper of my memories
I’ve come to take them back from which they came,
A man who disappeared and left me with his name

And unless you’re honestly
coming back home,

I wish you the worst sea sickness
I hope you can feel it up inside your head
and down in your stomach
Remember to breathe
when under the water
Then you can open up your mouth
and sink to the bottom of the earth

And we’ll raise our limbs like lifeless tools

The reaching hands of your pride
are twisting up your insides,
But before you anchor your line
just give me some time.

And I will be with you until time is no more.

You can’t stop me now,
I’m a fickle raging bull
In a red caped calming crowd
You can’t stop me now
My devil’s claw is hooked
and the road I raised will send me to my grave.

Hey boy,
Don’t let go
You’re gonna find what you’re looking for
Even if that means this whole damn sea
will be turned upside down.

Hey boy,
Don’t let go
Keep your hands on that dirty rope
And an eye on things ’cause the sun’s setting
and the winds are picking up.

Hey boy,
Don’t let go
To the hand of your father’s ghost
Because up ’til now
You believed you were talking to yourself

Hey boy,
Don’t you know
that you could never come back home?
And you will die here all alone.


Vaccinate the vaccine, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #64

Did he say “Moby Dickness?”

It’s been this way for a while now. Lots of new tests, lots of new positives, but dying’s gotten unpopular. I hear buzz that the country in general is seeing a lot of new cases, and even that New York is in the unfamiliar position of doing better than just about everyone else. I guess they paid cash up front on the principal, and are kicking back while the rest of us are shelling out for the interest.

We’re still going to Idaho this week.

I’m comfortable in a mask, we’re doing more things away from home, and the overall sense of doom has slackened somewhat in the world. There’s still a degree of normalcy that we haven’t come close to reaching, but life in the Wuhan world has reached a level that I would call “soft whatever.”


True, I haven’t posted in a while. That’s just because I haven’t really wanted to. I’ve also been sleeping in somewhat – 7-7:30, thereabouts, meaning the house is mostly active, and I don’t like writing in company. Solitude, solitude, solitude. The kids are up now, and they’re all “Hey papa,” and, “Guess what the cats did last night,” and, “Do we have any more Pop-Tarts?” And I’m all:

Image tagged in memes,shakey - Imgflip

I’m on page 600-something of Karamazov, and wanting badly to finish it before our trip. This came out of it yesterday, fitting in too nicely with all the things I’ve always said about people enjoying tragedies and wanting so badly to be connected to them:

“There are moments when people love crime,” Alyosha said pensively.

“Yes, yes! You’ve spoken my own thought , they love it, they all love it, and love it always, not just ‘at moments.’ You know, it’s as if at some point they all agreed to lie about it, and have been lying about it ever since. They all say they hate what’s bad, but secretly they love it.”

Lise, in B.K. Book XI, chapter 3, A Little Demon

Oh, the lying. Don’t get me started on the lying. And not even the lying so much as the comfortable dismissal of truth. The Moby Dick-ness of reality, being something that most people won’t track down and face, knowing that the Ahabs of the world will keep the whale busy enough, and be turned into a kind of joke in the process. It devalues honesty and truth so effectively that it feels ridiculous to waste any hope on them.

Or maybe bad things are just easier. Inner peace doesn’t make the news. Maybe, in our terminal averageness, horror feels more significant than joy. But if so, how and why? Just because it’s louder? It might be that simple. And anyway, the allure of being on the winning side has long since eclipsed any interest in being on the right side. The winning side tends to be the one that blows more things up.

Anyway, I guess if there’s one great complaint I would lay on humanity in general, it is that we don’t put enough effort into being truthful, and we don’t demand it enough from each other.


I take my music the same way I take my visual arts. Scrap the theory and analysis and intellectualizing. Easily 98% of what matters to me is whether I like the way it sounds. That’s all. I’m simple. Last year I was doing some work outside, wearing headphones (earbuds, whatever), when a song came on that I’d been listening to for years. Love the way it sounds. The headphones gave me a chance to hear the lyrics a little more clearly, and I paid closer attention, and it turns out that they were saying really stupid things. For at least three or four years I’d been hearing that song in my rotation and bobbing my head to it, being happy when it came on, and last year out in the yard I found out that it was full of garbage.

Sounds good though, and I still listen to it.

The song below isn’t full of garbage, but also I’m no youngster struggling with the drama of loves tried and failed. The words don’t mean much to me, aside from being neatly constructed and pleasant to hear, so it isn’t as if I relate or anything. But my God, does it sound good. So I listen to it:

Moving in slow like the smoke
From your cigarette
Every step closer’s a step
That we both will regret
Keeping a tally but who can keep track?
Your overreacting is taking me back
To a time better left alone

Holding on to the phone
Holding on to this glass
Holding on to the memory of what didn’t last
Waiting for betters words; they’ll never come
So dry your eyes, it’s better now it’s done

Keep a tight grip like a child
Holding onto a swing set
Waiting and hoping to find what i can’t figure out yet
Please don’t, unless this is something you mean
Another nightmare instead of a dream
Better left alone

Holding on to the phone
Holding on to this glass
Holding on to the memory of what didn’t last
Waiting for betters words; they’ll never come
So dry your eyes
Holding on to the phone
Holding on to this glass
Holding on to the memory of what didn’t last
Waiting for betters words; they’ll never come
So dry your eyes, it’s better now it’s done

I never lost so much
I never lost so much
I never lost so much

Holding on to the phone
Holding on to this glass
Holding on to the memory of what didn’t last
Waiting for better words; they’ll never come
So dry your eyes
Holding on to the phone
Holding on to this glass
Holding on to the memory of what didn’t last
Waiting for betters words; they’ll never come
So dry your eyes, it’s better now it’s done

The PVP Diaries #63

The people you meat

Two days ago I an around telling everyone “tomorrow’s my dad’s birthday!” I know my wretched memory, and it was my way of making sure that I don’t forget. Yesterday, I forgot. Sorry, Dad! I hope you got some cake. I’ll get the kids together and we’ll FaceTime later. Right now, one of them is sleeping under a cat on the couch, and the other is having chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon toast for breakfast.

“He who loves men, loves their joy.”

-The Brothers Karamazov

We had another one of those “-1” death days yesterday. I’m not really sure what they’re doing out there. But I do know that masks are now required by law in Washington state. It’s a “public health order,” anyway. In his presser, Inslee said something about it being a misdemeanor to not wear one indoors in public, or anywhere outdoors that social distancing isn’t possible. Enforcement is likely to be scant, of course, what with the ever-present mantra of “our police have more important things to do.” LIke pulling body parts out of suitcases. I, of course, have no idea how many people, if any, are guilty of the big hypocrisy, but there is an unmistakable coexistence of the calls for enforcement of mask wearing, at the same time as calls for the defunding of the police. One commenter wrote that we should be “quizzing” people about the masks they’re wearing.”When was the last time you washed that?” That sort of thing. Yes, that’s the world I want to live in.

Gonna put this in here for posterity, too, because I hope that reading this in 20 years just sounds ridiculous: I’m not paying much attention, but there’s enough white noise to infer that the city of Seattle is starting to get a little sick of the whole CHAZ experiment. Apparently there’s been a few shootings, and of course there’s no police allowed. The mayor or the police chief or someone said “It’s time for everyone to go home.” There’s a slow, collective facepalm developing in all the offices that opted to let this particular situation go unchecked. Yes, I’ve seen the conservative websites saying that CHAZ is all violence, drugs, and mayhem; and I’ve seen the liberal websites saying it’s a summer of love. That’s all very predictable and meaningless. None of it fully true or fully false. We no longer have the luxury of being able to understand the world through information.

I admire the clumsy struggle to get things right, but weep for where we end up in the process. Every sign-waving protester wants to be the next Gandhi or MLK, but those guys were like Gordon Ramsay in Kitchen Nightmares – once their work was done, the restaurant may not have been perfect, but there was simply no longer a call for that level of intervention. A little unspectacular management is enough to keep the ship afloat, but we believe that anything short of mutiny is slavery.

We could do with a few precincts worth of Mother Teresas.

Mother Teresa and Mr. Rogers. My family gave me “Kindness and Wonder” for Father’s Day. I’ve only read the introduction so far, but I’m a sucker for messages of joy, so I have a feeling that I’ll be tearing through that book with some zeal. And saying embarrassingly cheesy things here on the blog.

Joy

As long as we define ourselves
			by all that we’re against



we’ll have to go on wondering
			where all our happiness went.

Phase 2. I took The Boy to a real, live soccer practice yesterday. They have it very ground down and structured – I couldn’t watch because spectators aren’t allowed inside of the complex. We have to wait in the parking lot, or come back later, or have kids old enough to drive themselves. This morning I’ll be taking The Girl to a soccer practice of her own, 45 or so minutes to the south in Auburn. I’ll say this: It was nice, last night, to go somewhere outside of West Seattle. Outside of the very few places I’ve been for the last 3 months. It really is staggering and defeating to think of how limited my movements have been. Half a dozen trips to Home Depot? It’s a mile from home. I’ll take this trip to Auburn and back, breathe a little on the highway with the windows down, read some B.K. in the parking lot, and come back at lunch time for a very likely stop at the Habit Burger drive thru.

My biggest move so far has been a drive South to Burien last week, 10-15 miles. I was on the quest to retrieve the meat we ordered months ago. A quarter of a cow – 100 lbs of beef. It comes from a farm somewhere in Eastern Washington, and I picked it up in an odd little spot: an Australian meat pie company. It was not a glamorous operation, not a very “foodie” type of a place. Too spare for even any hipster love. I screamed my name through a mask and over the hum of refrigerator compressors until that became too frustrating for both me and the guy trying to hear me, then I pulled the mask down and said it again. Worked the first time. The police did not come. But the beef did:

Beyond the obvious joy of an abundance of beef, there’s the pleasure of having cuts that I might not normally think to buy – London broil, tri-tip, that sort of thing. There’s also short ribs, soup bones, lots of good stuff. And one very large brisket that I can’t wait to spend a day or two cooking sometime soon.

Things keep happening, even if they aren’t.


Happy late birthday, Dad!

The PVP Diaries #62

Viral Protestations

Had you asked me my mood when I clicked on “My Soundtrack” in the Amazon music app this morning, I would not have answered Clair de lune. Alas, Amazon knows me better than myself, because it turns out that DeBussy was the perfect choice for the first few minutes out here at Sharky’s West. Twin Cedars is abuzz with morning squirrels. It’s a heck of a day right now, if a little later than I would normally get started:

Saved a seat for you

I kind of 3/4 fixed my picture migration problem, meaning that I can get them from phone to PC, but not as seamlessly as before. Something must be done.

Yeesh, the transition to Rhapsody in Blue was not smooth. Alexa, she hardly knows me.


Seven? That’s a noteworthy jump from the zeroes and twos of the past couple weeks. It’s also strikingly coincidental to the note from the DOH yesterday about having removed precisely seven deaths from the total count, due to them being, well, not related to COVID-19. Seven gone, seven returned, and the beat goes on.

It does make me wonder if this might be the bell cow for the protest spike. I didn’t think there would be one, but I’ve been foolishly nonchalant about this thing from the start. I just don’t really believe in the existence of illness and danger that don’t come from mankind’s own conscious irresponsibility. I figured that this bug was just a bug, a natural thing that, while released (probably) through human malice and/or stupidity, would fade out quickly no matter what we did.

The second best way for me to know that I am being honest is by admitting that I don’t know the answer. The first is by admitting I was wrong. Everything else is preening.


Did I say something about good news yesterday? I did. An online literary journal in New York City called Whatever Keeps the Lights On is going to publish one of my poems. It’s an old one that I’ve always loved for its sound and hated for its obscurantism, but it fit the bill for what they were looking for and what they do. There’s irony in it; their theme is work – desk jobs, labor, the grind. I have no work to speak of. No boss, no paycheck, no claim to anonymous cog status. But for one thing, I have known it. For another, though there may be no paycheck, no kept hours, no humiliating servitude (well…), life is still work. It still grinds.

It’s my only published piece outside of a couple that were printed in Seattle University’s literary magazine. As much as I frown upon the impulse to belittle one’s own achievements, I do know that the number of submissions at Seattle U is always pretty small. I am proud of those published pieces, and have kept copies of the books in a safe place, but it almost seemed like a certainty.

A million thanks to the good people at WKTLO. When I read the acceptance email, I forgot I was sick for a few minutes. I’ll provide all the relevant info once they’ve put it on their site. Now when I write my little bio I can have a line that says “his work has appeared in…” And that’s pretty cool.


Here’s how the texting went yesterday, with the friend I’ve been trying to go see since Sunday, prevented thus far by my head cold:

“Are you feeling better?”

“I’m not 100%. Some lingering congestion and stuffiness.”

“You want to bring the kids over at 6:30?”

By that I gathered that he was comfortable with me coming over. Our wives were at a gathering somewhere else. We went, took our own drinks and snacks, and the kids bounced around in the trampoline. Their son and daughter are the same ages as ours (their boy is a year younger, whatevs), but they haven’t hung out since March at least. Probably February. I love how good kids are at acting like nothing’s happened. You’d think they all just saw each other the day before, and the day before that. Their new-ish black lab ran around the yard chewing on all the things we own and giving us a chance to realize that we probably care too much about them. The boys threw each other around inside the caged trampoline, the girls made “routines” of absurd movements, adding a new one to the end each time it was their turn, in a kind of Simon game, where they had to keep remembering all the previous moves each time. It was graceless, ridiculous, and awesome.

Could hit 80 degrees here at Twin Cedars today. Let’s get some sun!


Oil the lamps, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #61

Just when you thought…

I’ve been nursing a head cold since Saturday or Sunday, I can’t remember which (insert joke about the days being indistinguishable “in these weird times”). It’s the annoying congestion somewhere between the ears, a little scratch in the throat, almost a sinus headache but not quite (Yes, I’m aware that the CDC says that all of those, along with toenail fungus and mosquito bites, are COVID-19 symptoms). I’m on a steady dose of alternating Sudafed and DayQuil (gotta modulate the phaser frequency when you’re dealing with The Borg), but can’t do any more NyQuil. One of the great benefits of being a non-drinker is that there’s really no such thing as a rough morning anymore. NyQuil greatly reduces the certainty of that. Anyway, it’s all very, umm, common, if puns are allowed (though I think they’re a symptom now, too). But now, even though I know it isn’t The Big One, I feel like a danger to humanity. I have that “sick person voice” that would have people in a grocery store emptying their pockets like pirates tossing treasure and rum overboard so they could run from me faster. We used to joke about ourselves and the children getting sick: “Going to school’s like swimming in a petri dish, haha!” “It builds immunity!” And the suddenly unspeakable “can’t avoid it forever, you know.” It appears that we believe we can.

But it’s been pushing back, day by day, my plans to take The Boy to go see a friend. His friend’s dad and I (my friend; I can say that, right?) haven’t spent any time together since February, and they blew some of their refunded summer camp money on a nice, big trampoline for their backyard. The Boy and I were supposed to head over on Sunday. Then it was Monday, then “later this week.” We’re now scheduled to go tonight for some bouncing and grilled food. Six months ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. It’s just a little head cold. Somebody’s always got something, right? But now I have to worry about pariah syndrome, especially as the only known conservative in our circle of friends (much more important to them than it is to me, of course). If I show up somewhere with a sniffle I’ll be that Billy-Bob MAGA-tard who hates science, still says “Wuhan,” and never believed in it anyway. I doubt they’ll invite me to their grandma’s funeral, after I’ve killed her with my denial.

Which leads us to this odd place:

Typing that minus must have been hard for someone to do

I understand there are “data corrections” leading to those negative numbers. Something about adjusted zip codes or addresses, unincorporated areas. And speaking of adjustments:

How are you changing the way you identify deaths caused by COVID-19?

At present, we count all deaths to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. We will change the way we report COVID-19 deaths in two phases. Phase 1 will take place on June 17, and Phase 2 will roll out over the next few weeks.

Phase 1: Remove deaths where COVID-19 did not contribute to death from our death count. For Phase 1, this will result in seven deaths being removed from our current death count, including two suicides, three homicides, and two overdose deaths. Four of the deaths are from King and three are from Yakima. Additional non-COVID-19 deaths may be removed throughout the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.

More phases! I’m all phased out. This document has it all! It’s short and surprisingly direct. Like, embarrassingly so. But you can have that combination of brazenness and insouciance about your ineptitude when consequences don’t exist, and the people depending on your expertise have stopped believing in your expertise. Somehow I think that seven might be a slightly conservative number. Since what, March? How did that even happen anyway? And by “that” I mean being told by weeping parents that they found their son hanging from a beam in the basement, and reacting by saying “mark it up as COVID.” That’s some hard core agenda conformism going on.

“What about this one, Gary?”

“I keep telling you, COVID. They’re all COVID.”

“Sure. But – look, Gary, I don’t want to be annoying here or start any trouble or anything -“

“COVID, Mike.”

“I know, but, well, did the head come in with the charred torso, or haven’t they found it yet?”*

It’s probably not exactly like that. Knee-jerk skepticism is often confused with careful reasoning, but sometimes they make it pretty easy for that doubt to well up.

*Gary? Mike? It sounds like a cast of all white males. No women, no POC’s. Go lynch me on Twitter. But they’re being both stupid and morally bad, so it’s actually right. Right? I swear I don’t know what to do anymore.


On to kinder things tomorrow. I have some good news to report, and I’m counting on better weather to turn things around for us.


Turn it all off, and LIVE, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #60

Driven

Death seems oddly binary sometimes. You are or you aren’t. There are some or there are none. I don’t think anyone’s paying attention to the body count anymore.


We had guests! Four of my wife’s friends came over last night for a happy hour. It was the official christening of the patio, and they did it right. Lots of snacks and drinks and laughs and normalcy. It was the first time in 3 months that we had a few hours that didn’t feel restricted or confined. Or, as The Boy would say, “detaining.” My God, it was liberating. Except for the notable absence of hugs.

After they all left, we did some cleaning up and settling in, then the two of us headed out for our own bit of quiet time on the patio (we’re still working on a name for it). It’s a peaceful oasis, to be sure. The boy sniffed out the marshmallows that my wife brought out (no s’mores, just the marshmallows), so he floated out and took up his usual position:

We’re in the city, and our neighbors’ houses are stacked close by, but there are a lot of large cedars and maples, as well as some rather lush landscaping that allows us to feel distant and alone when we’re out there.

My iphone and my Surface laptop have stopped shaking hands on photos. I have the icloud app on the laptop, and until a few days ago there were no problems. All the pictures I took on the iphone were automatically sent to the photos app on the laptop. It’s a surprisingly significant inconvenience to have that relationship broken up. Now I have to email pics to myself from the phone, then save, upload, etc. I need to get this hammered out today.

Speaking of pics, here’s the boy’s finished owl pellet project. We pulled together as much of the vole skeleton as the pellet and our patience allowed, then emailed the picture to his science teacher. One more school box officially checked:

He is the only kid left on the block who is still in school. You can imagine this causes some consternation. But I’m taking these last few days pretty lightly, and as is normal, he’s complaining about his detention while actually enjoying an enormously greater amount of free time than he should be allowed right now. I love kids.


We are going on vacation! We’ll be spending 4 or 5 days around the 4th of July in Sandpoint, Idaho. My wife still has a great deal of concern over the Coronavirus, being a natural germophobe, and was reluctant to give this trip the go-ahead. But a couple of her friends that came for happy hour last night have already taken some similar trips with their families, and they did me a great service by reassuring her that it is all very possible to do in a clean and healthy way. I could see her, quite visibly, getting more comfortable with the idea, and last night over roasted marshmallows she started asking me my thoughts on rental houses vs resort lodgings. This morning it is a done deal. My God how we need this.

It’ll be a 5-6 hour drive, but I haven’t had a good road trip in years, so I’m excited. The kids have always done well in the car. We’re meeting friends there – they have twin boys around our son’s age. We really, really like these people. This is going to be fantastic.

Slinging a few episodes of the Plague Diaries from lakeside in Idaho will be a nice change.


Freedom is the fearkiller, Comrade Citizen!

The PVP Diaries #58

Which Horseman are we up to?

These quotes are getting long. Wait until you see tomorrow’s.

“Oh, how well he understood that for the humble soul of the simple Russian, worn out by toil and grief, and, above all, by everlasting injustice and everlasting sin, his own and the world’s, there is no stronger need and consolation than to find some holy thing or person, to fall down before him and venerate him.”

– Dostoevsky, The Brothers K

The problem, Fyodor, is that we don’t have time for holiness, so we find some criminal charlatan, and venerate him instead. (He said, in an election year, during race riots.)

The toil and grief:

Not much left to say here. It was interesting to go to the KING 5 news website yesterday to see poor Governor Inslee and the Coronavirus buried deep, deep, and barely visible beneath a pile of violence, fire, and retreating police.

More West Seattle businesses reopened yesterday.

The everlasting sin:

I don’t know what to say here, as far as the police and the rioters go. It’s too obvious to point out the idiocy of running around and burning things, then becoming indignant when the police show up. In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the police just left. They’re still around, still mildly present, but they boarded up and abandoned the precinct building. That might have been the smart move. The mature move. I have two children who fight with each other all the time, both of them being irrationally intractable and far more wrong than right, making it obvious to any 3rd party observer that the best course of action is for the smarter, stronger one to shrug, walk off, and let the other have his tantrum.

And it’s all very childish, isn’t it? Every time. The rioters are mad at the cops, so they do things to deliberately draw out the cops. The cops come and do hard, mean things to the rioters because the actions of the rioters demanded it, the rioters point and say “see?” and somehow nobody feels as stupid as they should. Or they actually do, and like all children when they start to feel their own guilt, they double down on the crookedness.

This is a questionable choice, though:

The mayor said previously she hoped the crews would help to clean up the area daily. The city is also maintaining chemical toilets in Cal Anderson and will add a new bank of toilets outside Seattle Central on Broadway in a bid to avoid the health problems that dogged the neighborhood’s Occupy camp nearly a decade ago.

Capitol Hill Seattle

They made this bed. Don’t clean the sheets for them.

The article also said that the rioters had rearranged barricades to block traffic. Cars and trucks are having to turn around. That’s nice, because we all know that businesses create their own goods on Star Trek replicators in the back room, and never have to be supplied by deliveries from the outside.

Perfect opportunity for a siege, if you ask me. Starve ’em out. Their little urban p-patches, fertilized as they are by patchouli and vanity, won’t be near enough to feed them all.

It’s important to note, just once, that equality and justice are the rallying cry, but as with everything else that mobs do, the true driving force behind all of this is the simple fear of not being able to take credit when something significant happens. “I was there.” Doesn’t really matter what that something is. We are driven by fear and loneliness more than anything perhaps. Surfing a human tsunami anonymously as it wipes a city away is preferable to having to say, afterwards, that you only saw it on snapchat. Lots of little nobodies are paddling in a panic out there, because fortifying your house against the flotsam-riddled wave is too much work, and lonely.

Anyway, it’s all fear and momentum now. People feel the advantage building for the other team, so loyalties will be shifting, and an embarrassing sequence of bad political decisions and dangerous policy choices is sure to follow. Votes uber alles. Seattle may get its experiment with real socialism sooner than later. The corporations that pump blood into this city and keep it alive are no doubt already working on their bugout plans. Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, etc. They’re the most generous, philanthropic, socially conscious and justice-oriented entities this city has ever known, but socialism’s about criminalizing the success of others, so it’ll be “off with their heads.” If you don’t think Bezos and Bill are fully prepared to wag a middle finger in the rearview without skipping a corporate beat, you’re more naive than I am. And folks, you read these pages, I’m pretty bad.

The humble soul:

It was my daughter’s last day of 6th grade yesterday. Felt like nothing happened. They had a Zoom class or two, then it was just over. Nothing changes much for me, either. She’s independent – gets herself up and fed in plenty of time for classes, so that was never part of my routine. The school tried to signify things by sending out a few high-energy emails full of great ideas for the summer and commiserations over the “weirdness of these times,” but in the end it’s just a few months without classes. No big to-do. I imagine we’ll all be out and about in a fairly normal, pre-Wuhan way sooner than later, because as hard as sudden homeschooling may have been for people, it at least had structure and requirements and a schedule, to some degree. Summer’s just chaos, and families are going to be clamoring for the progression of recovery phases to continue with as much haste as possible. We need to go from 1.5 to 4, like today.

I cut The Boy’s hair yesterday. I haven’t done that in years. His mom gave him a little trim a few weeks ago, but no kind of a lasting scourge like the one I laid on him in the bathroom, under the humming clippers after school. He’s got wild hair, he does, and I may not be particularly proud of my tonsorial handiwork, but he was perfectly pleased:

“Thanks for giving me a good haircut. I look a lot more like you. I like looking like you.”


Wax your plywood surfboard, Comrade Citizen!