Grandpa? 2022

Today, a little kid asked me, “Are you a grandpa?”

I laughed. “Gosh,” I said. “As of yesterday, no, but I have two boys, 19 and 15, so sooner or later I’ll likely be one.”

And that got me thinking because that’s what I do. I think, then overthink, then worry I’m overthinking then sit down and think about how much thinking I’m doing.

But I didn’t hate the thought of being a grandpa.

I mean, hell, there are a lot of negatives about getting old. I have hip pain., I can’t remember who sat beside me in grade 12 math, and all sorts of things are sagging in ways that are terrifying.

All of that, and more, was supposed to be offset by wisdom, yet even if I have some, no one wants to hear it. No wonder all the old guys sit on the porch and complain about the weather, the kids these days, and how much it hurts to get out of a chair, no one wants to hear their wisdom.

Now don’t get me wrong. Every so often I get asked for my wisdom or advice. The other day The-Youngest came to me and told me about a story he was writing. Then, God bless him, he asked what I thought.

Brilliant idea, I said. Who’s your protagonist? What gets in his way? What’s at stake? Where’s it set? Why does your protagonist have to act now? What’s your theme? What’s your character’s first setback? Did you tie your end into the beginning? What’s your subplot? Is it romance? I love a good romance subplot? Are their unicorns?

I would have gone on, but I ran out of breath. Old age, you know.

“Hold on there, Stephen King,” he said. “My story is 5 pages long. Double spaced.”

Right. Maybe there’s a reason no one asks me anything, it’s like leaping into a hive of intellectual bees with big, opinionated stingers.

Last time he tried to get some Joe-wisdom, he made the mistake of asking me to help him understand how WW2 started. After running around the house, screaming, “OMG, OMG, my dream has come true,” like a little girl who got BTS tickets online, I sat down and gave him my best explanation.

See, the Germans were pretty upset with reparations and territories they lost after WW1, but to really understand why the Allies made them pay so dearly, it’s not just about the devastation and carnage on the battlefield, you have to look at the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, when the Germans imposed even harsher peace terms on the French, all because the French Emperor, Napoleon III wanted to be like the original Napoleon and kick the snot out of the Prussians, who eventually morphed into the Germans, but who, interestingly enough, kept the original Prussian military tradition of Frederick the Great, that one could argue comes from the ancient and somewhat brutal tribes of Germania that fought the Romans. So maybe we start there?

He left at some point before I finished. He mumbled he was getting some milk, but he never came back, and when I saw him, he’d run to the bathroom, “Sorry, Joe, emergency!”

Anyway where was I?

Wait, is this another reason no one wants to hear my wisdom? I go off on a tangent.

Gosh, I’m having some eye-opening moments here.

But back to being a grandpa. I would love to be a grandpa. I’ll get to play with toys, again, and everyone will smile and go, “isn’t that adorable?” as opposed to now when people look at me and judgingly shake their heads.

I know I’ll spoil my grandchild like a Chinese emperor.

And, for at least a few years, they won’t be able to run while I talk about how the Americans won their war of independence.

In other words, I know I’ll be a great grandpa. Wait, that didn’t come out right – not a ‘great-grandpa’, an amazing grandpa.

Now, where is The-Oldest? I need to find him a wife.

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Another First Feb 2022

Being a parent, you kinda need some good things to balance off all the challenges (like, “For the love of Gandalf, will you get off your phone and take the garbage out!”)

To me, a lot of those good things are sharing the ‘firsts’. First words (which I missed), first bike ride, first concussion, first broken bone, first broken heart, first time driving, first rollercoaster, first concert… well, you get the idea.

So I was super excited to have another first in our family.

The-Youngest applied for a job.

The-Oldest never had the need. He concentrated, quite rightly, on his music. He earned scholarships and grants and even the odd paid gig. However, he just didn’t need any money. He’s about the least materialistic person I know. Heck, he doesn’t even want a new piano – he just fixes the old one.

Not The-Youngest, though. He wants the best of everything.

It’s born of obsessively watching YouTubers who aren’t content with a mountain bike from Canadian Tire, oh no, they need a $25,000 bike that is about as light as a sparrow’s fart and has the suspension of a Rolls Royce.

“Mom, can I get the Gold-plated Snoop Dog Diamond 2000 mountain bike?”

“Do you have $25,000 in the bank?”

“I have $5.67.”

“Have you taken out the garbage? You get paid for doing it.”

“What? I didn’t catch that, I’m on my phone.”

However, one cure for wanting the best stuff is getting a job.

When I was his age and wanted something, I had to work to get money for it. My first real job was working on construction sites, cleaning up, and doing all the horrible jobs no one else wanted to do (like wire-brushing the black soot off of burnt beams).

I hated it, but man, did I love the cash.

Now, to be fair, the rules nowadays don’t allow children to work at the age of 3, so The-Youngest had to wait until he was 15. On his birthday, he immediately looked at all the jobs he could apply for, which is to say, one.

He wanted to work at Cineplex – where some of his friends work. I mean, for him, it seemed like the perfect job. He could get free popcorn, he could watch movies for free, and he wouldn’t have to do all the cruel work assignments like we had for him.

Ok, he’d only get a small bag of popcorn for free, couldn’t watch any movies while working, and would likely be forced to work a lot harder than at home, but let’s not put water on his fiery passion to work in a theater.

Unfortunately, there were no jobs in early 2022.

Until yesterday.

He’d been watching the Cineplex site waiting for the moment they posted a job opening. Then, when they posted, he filled out the application so quickly, I think his keyboard actually started to smoke.

But here’s the extra cool thing. He had researched all the right buzz words, knew the Cineplex lingo (like ‘guests’ for clients, and ‘floor’ for cleaneruppers), and referenced all the people who worked there and said Cineplex was awesome.

I was super proud of him. Super proud. If he doesn’t get that job, I will be gobsmacked. Yes, you heard me. Gob. Smacked.

But once the money comes rolling in, he’ll be able to start saving for that Gold-plated Snoop Dog Diamond 2000 mountain bike without having to, you know, take out the trash at our place.

See, freedom is taking out the trash at someone else’s place.

As always, thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this. Please share so I can build my readership and one day sell a book for a billion dollars.

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What To Do in ’22

Oh, the fun of being tested positive. Not that it’s like this at all. Nope, there’s no one testing you, you test yourself with a swab and a petri dish.

What do you do when Covid comes a-knockin’?

On Jan 26 (apparently), it was the 2-year anniversary of the 1st confirmed Covid case in Canada.  So I guess it was just fate that The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I officially caught the Omicron variant of Covid on Jan 26th, 2022.

Yes, this was despite masks, despite being vaxxed and boosted, and despite all the clever precautions we took like house cleaning, watching lots of informative videos, and flapping like an angry penguin if someone got too close.

Sigh.

I guess it really was inevitable. Over the last two years, I knew only a handful of people who caught the earlier variants, but this Omicron… well, I know only a handful who haven’t caught it.

Omicron, I tell you, it’s everywhere.

So what do we do, now?

Well, neither of the boys tested positive, so we banished them to their rooms as the adults isolated themselves. We ate in our rooms, we wore masks when we’d be near each other, and everyone doped themselves with vitamins.

Maybe it was overkill, but we wanted to keep the boys from being infected. The-Youngest was still recovering from a concussion so he could be kept home from school just in case he caught it from us.

The-Oldest, however, couldn’t afford to be isolated from college. So we took those extra precautions for him – even though, from the first day of the outbreak, he has been going through the world like a germaphobe surrounded by apocalyptic plague zombies.

We tried to make the best of this lockdown, so I decided to binge-watch a few shows. If you’re stuck in a similar circumstance, may I offer some viewing advice?

If you’re super nerdy, The Expanse is fantastic. Utterly fantastic. The attention to detail, the deep characters, the engaging plot, and, oh, did I mention they invented a new language? Beltalowda happy.

For a laugh (ok, and a bit of a cry), check out Ted Lasso. My god, this is good. It’s one of those shows that when it comes to an end, you’ll be sad. It’s 5 stars good. 10/10 good. Even 5 chocolate donuts good. It’s one of those very rare shows that you could watch again and again…and still get something out of it.

Lastly, Yellowstone. It’s Kevin Costner at his most Kevin-Costnerly, which is to say, he’s a grumpy, old, tough guy but he’s backed up by an incredible supporting cast – from the hypnotic Beth Dutton, to uber-tough-guy, Wheeler, to my favourite character, Chief Thompson, this show will not disappoint anyone who likes cowboys, a good fight or tender lovey-dovey moments. A must-see.

While I binge-watched TV until the whole world became a bit blurry, like literally blurry, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World took on a crocheting task of creating a blanket – and not just any blanket, oh no. She’s doing a line a day, and the color of that line is the color of the temperature outside. If it’s 0 degrees, she’s using ice blue. If it’s 10, it’s olive green.

As you could probably guess with weather being as erratic as a drunker roller skater on ice, the colors are all over the place, but hey, it’ll be like woolen memory of what 2022 brought our way.

Anyway, I hope everyone else is getting through this tough time. Oh sure, we’ve had personal supply chain issues like no Timmies coffee or eating at Earls, but life remains good here.

I have to remember this as I look out into the world and see a coming war with Russia and China, empty shelves in grocery stores, and a school that has put out cat litter boxes for kids who identify as cats. Life is still good here. Really good.

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10 Things You Need To Know To Vote (That You May Not Know)

Each time we have to vote, the government sends out something that tells us what we need. It’s only two things, really –  A voter card and some form of ID (and I’ve worked at the poll stations, so everyone tries very hard to find something that works).

However, there are a few things they don’t tell you.

Thatsa why I’m here.

1. You have to wear pants (or at least, something to cover your underwear or naughty bits). You might have to wear a shirt, too. Maybe shoes. Heck, it could be the whole ‘no pants, no shirt, no shoes.’ things, but I’d need a volunteer to test out that theory.

2. Unlike the blood bank, you don’t get a sticker, a cookie, or a small carton of apple juice. Personally, I think this is a mistake. Our reward for being good citizens (other than, you know, getting a government that works) is a nice feeling. Add a few donuts, a nice cup of coffee, or a Porsche, and you’d increase voting % by orders of magnitude. Heck, even the used car guys don’t have a sale without at least a big blow-up gorilla or something.

3. You have to mask up and social distance. It might say that on the voter ID card, but I forgot to check mine before handing it in. However, no vaccination ID is required.

4. Remember to take a breath mint if you’ve just had a cup of coffee or eaten pickled onions, or else you’re breathing your own horrible breath for a while.

5. You have to bring a cell phone or a book or something to do if you’re in line for a while. In the old days, you might chat with someone about the weather or if Sam was really the hero of Lord of the Rings, but now, with social distancing and masking-up, you’ll be on your own.

6. Be nice to the people behind the voting desk. Like I’ve said, I’ve been there, and it’s stressful. In other years, there were two people there to make sure everything was done right, but this year, it looks like there’s just one, and if they’re like me, they’re muttering don’t ‘f*ck up, don’t f*ck up, don’t f*ck up,’ inside their head a lot (and sweating like they’re at a job interview and first date at the same time).

7. Don’t wear squeaky shoes. You have to walk through a gym, and when there’s only you and your squeaky shoes, you sound like a window washer using no washer on a window.

8. Don’t bring your dog inside. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but why would you do that? Also, it turns out that you can’t leave your dog with the people in the front. However, adding a dog handler may also fall under the ‘how could they make the experience more rewarding?’ thingee.

9. You can’t bring snacks into the voting area. Again, it would help if you got some coming out, but I guess they don’t want crumbs on the floor, anyone slipping on spilled coffee, or people taking their masks off to eat a McMuffin.

10. Voting matters. I know it’s hard to believe sometimes. I know that the individual gets lost in the metadata that governs our world. I know you may think one vote doesn’t matter, but have you ever seen ants make a bridge? That bridge happens because a bunch of individuals get together and say, you know what, we can make a difference here. So, please, take the time to vote.

And that’s it from me. I voted and will write my MP about having coffee and cookies next time.

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Pandemic Aug 31st 2021 – What to do?

Matthew McConaughey
All right, all right, all right.

Shouldn’t the pandemic be over?

Nope, it keeps going on and on and on like some bad four-hour director’s cut of Blade Runner.

So, what do we do now?

Well, it’s time for me to channel the great philosophers like Socrates, Gandhi, and Dave Berry to answer that question.

First, where are we in the world?

In the US, the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was so horrifically f’d up, that it made the Vietnam withdrawal look like a well-organized Bob Hope Christmas show. Meanwhile, Australia has a 0 tolerance lockdown that makes North Korea say, “Oi, mate, that’s a bit much, isn’t it?” And, in Canada, we have an election no one asked for and no one wanted.

Super fun times.

Locally, after nearly two months of BC burning, the fires and evacuation orders are ticking down. Finally, some good news!.

Our government, though, after implementing restrictions on the unvaccinated, advised people to call the police if they have a confrontational person in your store or bar or dog spa. Totally doable if we properly fund the police, but it’s like asking the firefighters to fight a dozen fires with just one dude from their calendar who looks great with his shirt off.

It feels like too many people are doing what they feel is right, rather than what might actually be scientifically right… or heck, just using simple common sense. Sort of like me thinking I can breathe in space because I saw Bugs Bunny do it.

Which leads back to me. As do all things, really.

The more I think about this, the more I think thinking has become viewed as a bad thing in our society.

Ok, sure, thinking too much led to the atomic bomb. Thinking too much led to censoring ideas we don’t like. Thinking too much led to wide-ranging conspiracies theories like 9-11 was ordered by George Bush, there are parasites in the vaccines, or the world is flat, or square or rides on the back of a turtle led by Elvis.

But what do we do if we don’t think at all? Rely on feelings?

That’s even worse.

Feelings ignore facts the way I ignore yellow lights. Feelings lead to fear and fear leads to hate and hate leads to becoming Darth Vader.

Feelings ignore doing what might be in the common good.

So, what do we do if we can’t overthink things, and can’t rely on our feelings?

What else is there?

Wait, wait, I know this!

Hold on.

We discuss and listen, not to be right, but to understand.

I mean, hey, Matthew McConaughey learned this while listening to two men talking in a bar, and when he took a side, one said, “It is not about right or wrong. It is about ‘Do you understand?!’”

Cool right?

By listening, we can discover why people are afraid of something like the vaccine. By accepting they are afraid, rightly or wrongly, we can offer support and advise them, and maybe sneak in a fact or two.

By not having to be right, maybe, just maybe we can come to understand that they want the same things – to be safe, to be free, to live a life without constant fear.

By understanding, we may just slow the hate a bit and that’s a good goal, right. No need to post nasty hate on Facebook or spread intolerance, hate, and misinformation on Twitter so those companies can sell more advertising, but instead phone a family member and see how they’re doing, text a friend and set up a tea date, write an email to someone who inspired you to be a better person.

Cavlin and Hobbs love
Just be nice

To get through this, overthinking isn’t going to help. Listening too much to your feelings isn’t going to help. Being the best person you can be in these times, well, that kinda is.

Now I have to run. Matthew McConaughey and I are going to discuss the nature of the wind because, you know, it’s harder to talk to Gandhi and Socrates about stuff.

Posted in Blogging, Covid, Covid19, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will You Miss Anything Once the Pandemic is Over?

Pandemic July 4th

Beginning of the End?

Is the pandemic over?

You know what, it kinda seems like it is, so let’s see where we’re at.

Can we travel in BC? Yup.

Do we have to wear masks? Nope, but it’s SUGGESTED we do, which is kind of like suggesting we exercise regularly or eat more broccoli (which is to say, I see that whole ‘wearing mask’ thing slipping badly.)

Can we eat in a restaurant? Yuppers. Have at it.

Can we go to a movie? Hell, yah! We went and saw the new Guy Ritchie movie, which was underwhelming, but did feature a bucket of buttery popcorn (and for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, Jason Statham).

Have we all had a second shot? Errr, ah, not so much. Some don’t even want a first shot. Even if they are offered a free lottery ticket.

Are people still getting Covid? Yup. Plus, there’s a new variant out there. Delta. It’s kicking people’s butt in the UK and India.

Are people still dying from Covid? Seven day average in Canada is 20. Here. So, yes, but the numbers are not bad. Not bad at all.

So I guess it’s difficult to say the pandemic is over, as we have only reached stage 3 of a 5 stage reset model. (Stages here.)

But finally being done with Covid got me a-thinking.

Would I actually miss anything about the pandemic?

And, you know what? I came up with a top 5 list.

  1. I sorta liked the social distancing thing. I would like that to continue, please.
  2. I loved having arrows on the store aisles. Oh, the order, the disciplined flow of the crowd, the beauty of the human race all going in one direction. Gosh, I will miss that.
  3. I will miss having the pandemic as an excuse for super bad eating, not exercising, and binge watching Love, Death and Robots.
  4. I will hate not being able to take the dog for a walk in my PJ bottoms, bunny slippers and cat-eared toque. Already I see a sad lack of people in sweat pants and headbands.
  5. I will miss being super judgmental about everything anyone does. No mask, no vaccine, walking down the aisle the wrong way, buying 2 rolls of toilet paper when the freaking sign said one per customer… Oh, the list is long and detailed.

Wait, hold on, do I really have to give up being judgemental?

Anyway, I hope that everyone is getting back to a sense of normal, perhaps hugging that grandma (or grandchild) you haven’t seen, perhaps getting on a ferry and visiting friends, perhaps playing D&D or going to see a movie.

Much of our old life is returning, and that makes me happy.

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Pandemic April 9th, 2021

Vaccination

I had thought that me getting the vaccine would end the pandemic. It didn’t. So much for the world revolving around me.

But let’s ignore me for the moment and see what’s happening around the world. Dow is at 33,799!!!! (an all-time high), but gas here is $1.50 (which seems like an all-time high). There are no shortages in the grocery stores, though the cost of lumber has DOUBLED in the last year. Yes, doubled. I haven’t done a scientific check but seems like a lot more is costing a lot more.

Here in beautiful BC, we have soaring Covid numbers as the new variants take hold. Pretty much all of the Vancouver Canucks are infected, and we’ve seen a rise of 50% in the number of hospitalizations.  Restaurants have been shut down again, and we’ve been advised to avoid indoor gatherings and travel. Schools remain open, as do (much to my surprise) the massive big-box retailers like Costco who are more packed than football stadiums.

However (yes, however), over 1,000,000 vaccines have been jabbed into people, and more are on the way. On Friday, April 9th, they were doing 60+ but suspended AstraZeneca for people under 55 due to some very, very rare blood-clot complications.

For 55-65, though, they opened up those shots for us!

I guess us tail-end boomers don’t get blood clots. I guess we’re tougher than those under 55 young punk kids. It can’t be that we’re tougher than the 65+ though, because our Baba is 97 and has survived the great depression, WW2, cancer, multiple surgeries and the loss of her husband, and she can still spend a day cooking perogies or quilting a quilt. That’s hard for my generation to beat since we had no great war, no great depression, and the worse thing to happen was the destruction of the Star Wars franchise.

So, yeah, it must be that the data for blood clots says we’re ok. Data never lies, right? Right?

Anyway, they sent out a whole ton of vaccines to the drugstores to administer. Sadly, not all pharmacies got those doses, but here in the lower mainland, we had a pretty good selection and so I signed up right away. I mean, why not? I’m not at all worried about the shot or the blood clots and this is my chance to get to a 59-86% immunity.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World passed along some good advice from friends who’d done this – Sign up on multiple pharmacy sites and when you get a reservation, cancel the other ones.

That made sense, so I booked 6 of the nearest. None had slots available, but after filling out the on-line paperwork, I got an email saying that I hadn’t buggered it up and they’d let me know when a slot became free.

Then, Tuesday, I got the notice. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World was super excited, like I’d won the lottery or gotten my new book published, but me, I was just meh.

Don’t get me wrong, vaccines are a good thing, but even with the vaccine, I can still pass along the virus, so I will still be masked-up, unable to go and visit my friends and family on the Island, and apparently, not sit and write at my favourite restaurants.

No matter, on the day of my appointment, I went down to the pharmacy, stood in a properly social distanced line, and waited for my turn. As I waited, I marveled at how many types of condoms there are these days. Not something I usually shop for but it was as varied as getting a coffee at starbucks. I’ll have a double ribbed, extra large, non-latex, glow in the dark, strawberry flavour one, no whip cream, thank you.

When my name was called, I had to answer all the same questions I’d been asked on-line, then I rolled up my sleeve, looked away and clenched my sphincter. To my surprise, the needle hurt less than giving blood. I had to wait 5 min in case I had a bad reaction, but I didn’t – and that was that.

Two days later, unlike some people, I’ve had no bad reactions. No sweats, no chills, no growth of alien spider eyes. The worst I had to deal with was exhaustion. For two days, I felt like I’d worked a week on a farm. In the cold. With no food.

But by April 9th, I was fine, and glad to help out society in some small way.

Posted in Parenting | 1 Comment

Pandemic March12th 2021

I usually love to celebrate anniversaries. I celebrate June 6th D-Day by watching Saving Private Ryan and staring at my collection of unbuilt tank models.

I celebrate the day I met the boys with a special present for them. I try to do something amazing for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World on her birthday. And on the day we met. And on the day we got engaged. Aaaand, on the day we got married (which, being old, I often get confused with the day we got engaged – due to them being 2 days apart).

Seems she’s a pretty important part of my life.

But anniversaries are important. They are a reminder of life-changing events.

Some dates, though, I don’t so much celebrate as honor: Aug 4th, 2003, the day Firefly was canceled. Nov 11th, Remembrance Day. Dec 14th, the day my wife died.

But right around now, a whole bunch of pandemic anniversaries begin. If you ask the officials, it’s officially official, the date the pandemic started on March 11th. We had over 100 cases at that point.

But is that the best date to remember?

On March 8th, our first Covid death occurred. Is that a better day to remember? Or when we reached 1,000,000 deaths world-wide on Sept 29th, 2020? Or when I decided to grow my hair to hippy length, April 15th, 2020 (spoiler alert, I can nearly make a man-bun now, how attractive is that?)

Or should we mark our personal pandemic party on March 13th – a year from when we had to quarantine?

I’m not sure.

So, instead, let’s take a speed run through the last year.

Winter early 2020: Epidemic. Pandemic. Scary warnings. Panic buying. Empty shelves. Quarantine. Lockdown. Travel restrictions. Flattening the curve. Stock market crashing. Gas at 78 cents. No sanitizers. No TP. Riots in the States.

No Ukrainian Easter.

Society collapsing?

Seemed like it.

Spring 2020: Social distancing. Masking up. Banging pots for brave front-line workers. Binge eating. Binge buying. Binge watching rom-coms. Numbers getting better. Bonnie Henry becomes a superstar. Spring break turns into summer break. F…ing murder hornets arrive. The-Oldest graduates – virtually.

Summer 2020: Visits with family. Small gatherings allowed. Good weather brings bad behavior – big parties, no masks, no care. Clusters. Community spread. Numbers rising. Eating at home. Isolation. Doom-scrolling. Zoom sessions.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s friends make a happy birthday video for her 50th.

Fall 2020: Schools reopen. Churches remain closed. Retirement homes locked down. Some sports being played. Hockey for The-Youngest has no games. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World returns to the library. The-Oldest starts college – online. Markets back up. Unneeded BC election. Gas price at $1.36. Biden elected.

Winter late 2020 early 2021: Hope. 90% effective vaccinations coming online. Numbers rising again. No big family Christmas. No family New Years. No Ukrainian Christmas. Gretsky’s dad dies. UK bans the word breast-feeding (it’s now chest-feeding? And what I am supposed to cook for supper now, skiness, bonesless chicken chest???)

Everyone’s getting fed up, like people waiting in line too long for a milk shake at the drive thru.

But I feel like it won’t be long until we’re past all this so if we celebrate anything, let’s celebrate surviving a damn tough year. Let’s thank the front-line workers, teachers, and everyone who had to work – for being heroes. Let’s remember those beloved moments we lost (the hug from a Baba, the drink with a friend, the laughter of family) as well as the people we lost during this pandemic.

And let’s celebrate like hell when we can all finally be together, again, no matter what date it is.

Posted in Parenting | 1 Comment

Pandemic Feb 4th – Hello World

Hello World

Ok, so it’s now February 4th.  How are we doing, world? Doing ok? Getting lots of sleep? Hydrating well?

See, the reason I ask is that you’re looking a little ragged – like a hungover sixteen-year-old who’s just staggered out of the bathroom after spending the night hugging the toilet and praying for death.

Lie down on the couch. Tell me all about it.

So what’s happening lately? Upset that some rich, entitled asshats decided it was a good idea to head to an isolated community and jump the line to get a vaccine? (Here) I totally get that they should be buried up to their necks in frozen seal pee and have polar bears gnaw on them, but that’s not likely to happen. I’m sorry people can be such selfish pricks.

Are you worried about what’s happening in the stock market? Concerned some hedge funds getting their butts handed to them by a bunch of Reddit groupies that decided to use a form of crowd-funding to make some money? (Here) I totally get that it’s like some nerdy pirates seizing a ship and then turning its guns on the fort.  Fun stuff. And who couldn’t kind of root them on? Likely it’ll end badly, but mad props to the pirates, right? – they’re fighting a rigged system by trying to re-rig the system.

Is it that you can’t get on a plane, go to a sunny, beachy place and sip colored drinks with umbrellas in them? (Here) Is it getting you down you can’t plan anything fun? I totally get that. Me? I would love to see Ireland, again, though there’s less sun there, in fact, no sun, and the last time I asked for an umbrella in my drink, the bartender replied, “Not in a fooking whiskey, you donkey-faced gobshite.”  I feel your pain, though.

Or are you thinking that censorship is getting way out of hand? Google going after 100,000 posts against Robin Hood Brokerage who are protecting the rich? Trump banned from Twitter? I totally get your concern that free speech is in jeopardy, and not from the government, but from unelected billionaire technocrats who have decided what you can or cannot say or do.

Let me paraphrase something written in the US Holocaust museum. First they came for the Trump supporters, and I did not speak out because I didn’t like them much, either. Then they came for the Reddit nerdlings in chat rooms who wanted to reshape the stock market, and I did not speak out because what the hell is Reddit? Then they came for anyone who disagrees with their political views, and I did not speak out because I was watching cat fail videos on YouTube. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

You’re right to be worried about those things, world. It’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. Here’s a glass of Irish whiskey. No umbrella. Drink up.

Better?

I thought so. It’s easy to focus on the moron who’s told that a restaurant has a no-mask-no-service policy, then yells and screams at the staff like a 2-year-old being told they have to put on pants to run around outside. Sure it’s easy to focus on the Governor of NY covering up the true death toll at the retirement homes or that Tom Brady plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But take a deep breath, world. Avoid looking at the big clusterf*cks. Look at the little things. Look at a father who had to stay home due to Covid and now has the chance to walk his kids to school. Look at how I’ve learned to wear a mask without it fogging up my glasses. Look at how some of us (well, not me, but others) have bettered themselves by volunteering, donating to charity, leaving painted rocks with inspirational messages on the walking trails or simply doing the right thing because it’s the right thing. Look at the dew on the flowers, the frost on a spiderweb, the way the sun sets fire to the horizon sometimes.

There’s goodness and beauty out there, world. I promise you. Look no farther than the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

Now, here, take the bottle with you. I’ll send you a link to the cat fail videos. (Here)

Posted in Parenting | 3 Comments

Pandemic Jan. 18th Hello 2021

Dear 2021,

How’s it going?

I know you started out like a 4-year-old leaping onto the ice, thinking they can skate then falling flat on their face. That’s a tough way to begin, but don’t give up just yet.

I mean, hey, I totally get that the US seems to want to try out being a banana republic with people storming the Capital Building and big tech deciding to censor anything they don’t like in such a way that even the Chinese are asking, “Dude, you really did that?”

But there’s still time to turn things around.

Do you have a plan, 2021?

If not, can I suggest a few things?

Maybe a good slogan? “21? Time to drink!” probably isn’t the right one, but how about “You’re #1, act like it.” Or “As long as you’re alive, you can start over. And get coffee.”

Maybe have a chat with the universe and see if you can find a way to reduce the amount of stupid out there. Flatworlders, Antivaxxers, people who text as they walk or think Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is a good movie… they all kinda need to rethink their positions.

Maybe have a few more nice sunsets, or if you ask The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, more movies where the Rock takes off his shirt (which, to be fair, is all his movies.)

Open up travel as soon as you can. It’s like the sardines in the can are alive, have piranha teeth and have had enough of being crammed together. See, we need to be able to see the Eiffel Tower again, or feel the sand between our toes on a Hawaiian beach or, if you’re The-Youngest, get that rollercoaster rush while screaming at the top of your lungs.

You can do it, 2021.

Make it ok for people to see my muffin-face smile because right now, all they see is a masked someone staring at them like they’re about to kill them. Make it ok for me to go swimming or to grunt in the gym while lifting light weights as if they were heavy weights. Make it ok to shake hands, again, because me standing there trying not to shake someone’s hand, twitching like I’ve been tasered, is not a good look for me.

Hey, make it ok just to get out.

Bring back theaters and, for The-Oldest, concerts – though he’s talking about Chopin and Mozart, not Bieber or the Butthole Surfers (yes, that’s a real band.) Personally, I miss theaters like The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World misses massages. I love sitting in the dark, engulfed in sound, and eating my weight in buttery-heart-attack-inducing popcorn. I think what that says about me isn’t good, but whatever, I want to see movies on the big screen, again. As God intended.

But if you do nothing else, bring back family and friends.

I miss my friends, even if I don’t tell them that I miss them. The Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World misses hugging her Baba (and all of her family and friends, and even the odd stranger.) The-Youngest misses goofing on a couch with his friends, watching pool-diving fails, and burping out the alphabet after drinking a litre of root beer. The-Oldest misses the whole college/university experience, where you hit on girls, hang with your friends, play crazy jazz, discuss the meaning of life, find out what it’s like to wake up in your own vomit, or create a band like the Beatles, but with longer songs, more piano and so many dissonant notes that no-one really wants to hear it.

So, it’s not too late, 2021. Get your butt in gear. Focus. Make this a great year.

Your friend,

Justjoe

Posted in Covid, Covid19 | 1 Comment