It’s Been Six Days

I tested positive for Covid-19 last Sunday, so today is technically day 7 of the illness. My biggest issue now is waking up with a very dry mouth and a dull headache, likely a sign of dehydration. I’ve been drinking plenty of fluids, but the combination of having the heat on and mouth breathing from a clogged nose is causing trouble. Will this ever be over?

Damned Virus

I expect to return to work on Tuesday of next week. According to the Department of Health who phoned yesterday, I should be ‘uncontagious’ after seven days. Since I’m off Sunday and Monday, that puts me back to work on Tuesday. I have to go back, no matter what. It’s the principal of the thing that old broads can recover from their illness and carry on. Right?

So is this as good as it’s gonna get? Have I reached a health plateau with nowhere to go but down? If so, that really requires some new thinking about priorities and the future. When do you ever know? If you knew your time on this planet was limited, how would you spend your final, healthy hours? Guess for me that means returning to writing as much as possible. That will certainly require some thought about working. More discussion to follow.

Deadwood with a Bit More Life at the End

I think I’ll wait until I finish watching all the episodes of Season 3 of Deadwood to discuss it. After all, there’s three or four more to go and the climax of the story has yet to happen. Sounds like a buildup, huh? Sorta. But here’s my point – according to David Milch’s autobiographical book Life’s Work, there was no intention to end the series after Season 3: John from Cincinnati was in the works and he couldn’t write two series at the same time. So Deadwood ended, only to return years later as a movie. Haven’t seen that one yet either. So best to wait to opine about this series that I failed to watch when it was new in the early 2000’s.

Then what’s to talk about? Planning for the New Year and deciding to beat this infernal illness. Is there anything more vital than that at this time? If there is, I can’t think what it might be.

It Finally Got Me

Well, I tested positive for Covid this morning. After Erik got it about ten days ago, I guess my chances of escaping it were about nil. Sadly, I have the flu first, so that made wearing a mask difficult. Now I call home Germ Central, and am plotting GPS coordinates for my ashes to be scattered next to the pond. Just kidding..I hope.

Paint Mixing 101

So my perfect attendance record at HD is shattered. Ah well, couldn’t last forever, not at my age, right? I really could use a rest anyway. So much for my career as a paint maven. Tomorrow I have a pre-interview for a construction company. No illusions about how it will turn out, but it’s all copy, right?

If I felt better I’d write a post about Deadwood, the HBO series Aunt Jopie and I have been watching for months. I have lots of thoughts about the series, but right now it’s just not in me to collect those notions. Later.

It’s a New Year

January 1st of 2023 – seems like it sure took its time getting here. All the reviews of 2022 referenced the war in Ukraine, how badly the mid-terms didn’t go, and the current economic trends. You know – you’ve seen it everywhere in major media. So what will ’23 be like?

The New Year

Let’s start with the economy: will there be a recession or will we stumble through without it? It’ll be hard to say as there are so many conflicting signs. Not enough workers means the effect on unemployment will likely be negligible. Demographics and lack of immigrants will greatly affect that element. So what’s a recession without a significant increase in unemployment? Wage stagnation? Not likely. Young people will job hop for a nickel an hour raise. I suspect business will finally begin to see that the trend they thought was temporary is here to stay. Wages will stay firm, but inflation will keep us all at about the same place. Do we care? Likely not. What will we care about?

Get Thee Hence, Covid

I know what I’ll care about – finally being rid of Covid-19. Erik got it last week. Son-in-law Colter has it this week. Fortunately, granddaughter Kiernan with the dodgy ticker has escaped its wrath so far. So my New Year’s resolution is for the family to remain Covid-free. That’s more a matter of luck than skill now that whichever variant we’re on is so highly transmissible. And there’s no Fauci any more to explain where we’re at. People: we’re on our own. The little dude left for a well-deserved retirement.

Gonna Try Cane Sugar – allegedly not Sugar?

Second goal? Reduce my sugar intake and work on improving dental health. Found a new dentist that is terrific, so it’s time to work on making sure good oral health is a top priority. New front teeth for starters. My current ones are 45 years old, so it’s well past time for a change. They were lost in a tank accident about that long ago. No, not a Sherman, a rolling grain feed silo on a rampage. Is there really a correlation between Alzheimer’s and sugar consumption like the pop docs would have you believe? Who knows – just know too much sugar is bad all around. So water instead of soda. Can’t hurt – can only help.

What else? Keep working on my goal of learning to be a better mother. It takes a whole lot of effort and I surely don’t ever succeed at every juncture. But the goal is out there, so I’ll keep working on it. It’s really important.

Time to Wrap This Up, People

Anything else people? Oh yeah: pray the war in Ukraine is over soon before any more havoc is wreaked on the innocent families of that country. Vlad the Invader lost the PR war the first day when Zelensky stayed. Putin’s power is slowly coming to an end. Time to get it over with and let Russia find a new way to live, using Ukraine as a model. Otherwise, nobody wins.

Dinner with Five Presidents

I saw a headline the other day for some website asking the question, if you could have dinner with five presidents, who would they be?

I took it to mean five American presidents, so I went with that – simple, I know, but let’s not get too cute, huh? So here’s my list: FDR (of course), Teddy Roosevelt, his cousin, Abe Lincoln (duh!), Barack Obama (huh? Bear with me – you’ll see why), John Adams and Player to be announced (patience, grasshopper)!

The presidents and I are seated around the table, and everyone is relishing their meal. After the soup course, I clink my water glass, saying “OK, let’s get this party started. First topic: state of affairs in America today. Discuss.”

2nd President of the US John Adams

All of them start to talk at the same time, then start arguing with each other and getting red in the face. I shout over the din, “Hey! One at a time. John A – you’re the oldest guy here – you start. John glowers at the assemblage. “Things today are no different than they were back in my day. Why, I was commenting about that just the other day to TJ – oh, gee – where is Mr. Jefferson? Did he not merit an invite? How interesting. I let it be known to him before I left that he’d not been invi..”

“Hey, John,” I say. Please stay on topic.” John smiles, saying, “Yes, very well. The same debate is going on today about whether the federal government or individual states have the overweening power. That debate will likely never be resolved. When I talked with Abigail about that yesterday – by the way, why wasn’t she invited to this soiree? There are no women here, and she would likely be considered America’s first feminist.”

“Certainly that’s true, John,” I reply. “But I’ve talked with her elsewhere, along with Custer and Crazy Horse.”

John says, “Madam, I know you’ve mentioned those people in the outline of that sequel you wrote to Suffer the Children, but she’s still in outline form. She’s been waiting to speak now for over a year. She asked me to tell you to get on with it, please.”

Thank you, John. Now, let’s see, who’d like to offer their opinion on..”

“Are you doing this chronologically? If so, I believe Mr. Lincoln has the floor.”

I sigh. “Yes, thank you, John. President Lincoln, you’re looking well.”

Abe Lincoln, 16th President

“As well as a man can with a hole in the back of his head. But let’s not dwell on all that. The state of American affairs today is so very much better than the America I inherited in 1860. You and your ilk have no appreciation of how difficult things were back then. Relatively speaking, the country is in pretty good shape today.”

“I concur,” I say. “But now that you have the floor, I’d like to ask you a question. What were you thinking when you listened to Frank Blair and called for a hundred thousand troops to put down the insurrection after the attack on Ft. Sumter? I would argue you started the Civil War.”

Abe sighs. “I was new to the presidency. Everyone hated that I’d won – you know, Doris G and that guy Tagg both got it just right in those books about how everyone in the country hated me. Blair was the father of the Republican party, and since he helped get me elected, I felt obliged to listen to him. Boy, was that ever a mistake. But I hung in there for four years, and what was my reward for saving the union and freeing the slaves?” Abe turned around for the assemblage to see the back of his head. “Thanks a lot for nothing! Molly was so distraught about the turn of events, and I ..”

Teddy interrupts Abe. “With all due respect, Mr. President, if I’d been in charge, the whole thing would have been over with in two weeks. Why, when I charged up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders, the day was won and ..”

“Thank you, Teddy. But I’d like to hear from President Lincoln about the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. They certainly changed the course of American history, wouldn’t you all agree?”

Frederick Douglass

There was mumbling and grudging assent from the group. Abe smiled. “Actually, Congress had already passed something similar to what was in the EP, as I liked to call it. But when they did it, nobody paid any attention. When I did it, everyone howled like scalded cats. It went too didn’t go far enough. I never could catch a break. But credit must be given to my friend, Frederick Douglass. He was the one that got behind the EP, and persuaded a hundred eighty thousand or so of his fellow Negroes to join the Union Army. It made the difference, generals be damned. We just wore Lee and the South out. As for the Thirteenth Amendment, that was just politics. Spielberg got it right in that movie. That Day-Lewis fellow did a pretty good job of playing me..I..”

“Thank you, Mr. Lincoln. Let’s move on as we’re nearly finished with the main course, and there’s lots more to hear from others. OK, Teddy, you’re up. What do you have to say about the state of affairs in this country today?”

Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President

Teddy thoughtfully cleaned his round glasses. “Corporations. They’re back. I thought I’d gotten rid of them with my trust busting. But they’re like cockroaches – you can never kill them all. That British PM Truss got run out of office by the power of corporations. They’ll be the downfall of the world with their greed and ruthlessness. I say gut them all..when I was in charge..”

Adams interrupts. “Abigail says what happened to Liz Truss would never have happened if a man had been in charge. Sexism, pure and simple. I agree with her. Now, as for ..”

“Thank you, John. Thank you, Teddy. Now let’s hear from your cousin Franklin. Mr. President, I see you’re still in your wheelchair. I thought heaven was supposed to fix all ills.”

FDR in typical pose

Franklin thrust out his chin in typical FDR fashion. “I was fine until Eleanor showed up. She was the one that persuaded them to put me back in this chair so she could keep up with me. I think that was payback for Lucy Mercer being with me when I had that stroke at Warm Springs. She was a very jealous woman, my Eleanor.”

“I can only imagine how that must feel. But if you would, please describe what you feel was your greatest accomplishment over your four terms as president.”

“Well, technically, it was really only three. I’d only just got started on the fourth when I left. My greatest accomplishment? Hmm..there were so many, it’s hard to say which was the greatest. I didn’t free any slaves..My economic policies after the Depression were iffy at best – the war saved the economy, not me. I’d say my greatest accomplishment was keeping my proverbial powder dry until Pearl Harbor, so the America Firsters – those traitors in sheep’s clothing – were thoroughly discredited. Without America, things would have turned out very differently in that Second World War, and America today would look very different with much bigger problems.”

“I beg to differ..” A voice came from the shadows..he steps up, looking around the table. “Any dessert left? Ah – Viennese torte. Thanks, I’ll have that with some Irish coffee, if you please. Don’t get that much over there – Jackie says it’s bad for my asceticism.”

John F. Kennedy takes an empty seat next to John Adams. “Move over, Lyndon.” He nudges Adams, who explodes, throws down his napkin and stomps out of the room.” Kennedy laughs. “Just as touchy as Johnson.” He digs into his dessert. “I heard about this dinner party, and knew it wouldn’t be complete unless I showed up. You and I have already talked, so we can mostly dispense with whats already been discussed. When I was forced to escalate the war in Vietnam, I knew it was a big mistake soon after. When I tried to scale it back, those crazy right wingers got me – I known Lyndon knew about it and was in on the plot. He still won’t admit it, but his karma is ruined, so that’s proof. He walks around all day, muttering ‘credibility gap’, and ‘Gulf of Tonkin Resolution’. Ha ha. But nobody is talking about what’s happening in Ukraine. I’m pretty sure that crazy bastard Putin is so desperate, he’s gonna nuke ’em. I knew sooner or later that would happen..but who would have imagined that the Russians would use it on themselves?”

The group is silent, trying to digest their rich dessert and Kennedy’s words of armagedden. Finally, the last guest speaks. It’s Barack. “Am I dead? What the fuck?”

I reply, “No, Mr. President, you’re just dreaming.”

He looks hard to at me. “Who the fuck are you – and why are you in my dream? I don’t know you.”

I reply, “Could you have written a better blogpost? No? Then shut the fuck up and eat your dessert.”

Hud is a Hero?

I was watching the Ethan Hawke sorta documentary about Newman and Woodward last evening. Ethan did a pretty good job, though the pacing is a bit slow and it’s a kind of name droppish with all his friends doing voiceovers – watch it, ’cause I don’t wanna ‘splain more.

Note the Poster says Newman IS Hud

Because that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’d have to watch it again to see if it was the director Paul Schraeder or maybe Martin Ritt who said when the movie Hud came out in 1963, they got letters saying Hud was a hero, the old man was a grump and the kid was a wimp. They were surprised, but whoever said this then added until those same people elected Reagan in ’80.

Well, I must admit I’ve never watched the entirety of Hud, tho’ I will fix that this week since it’s streaming on the Roku channel. But I saw enough of it back in the day to know that Hud was, to be generous, the beginning of the anti-hero. That archetype was picked up and run with by Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino and the most emblematic of them all, Clint Eastwood. So Paul Newman, who had toyed with bad guy roles before Hud, started the trend.

How were his reviews at the time? A walk back through movie history says Sidney Poitier beat him out for the Oscar by playing a good guy in Lilies of the Field. Guess good guys – at least back then – did finish first. But the genre was just getting started, and his competition started sweeping the Oscars with roles like Jake Gittes, Michael Corleone and Harry Callahan. Paul was just a little ahead the curve.

Clint as Dirty Harry Callahan

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m still thinking about the end of patriarchy motif I started with the Bodily Control post. Is it possible to correlate the beginning of the end of male domination with the early days of the Vietnam War? Hey, let’s talk about that some.

Hud came out in ’63 when the war hadn’t really taken off yet. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution wasn’t ’til August of ’64 and the increase in troops didn’t occur until July of ’65. Nonetheless, there was awareness of the war, and nearly half a million men had been drafted in those three years. Casualties were low in ’63 and ’64, but I think everyone knew, or had a sense of what was coming.

Hendrik Hertzberg was at Harvard in ’63 and wrote a review of the movie. Here’s a quote from that review:

Just how devastating a critique the film is can be seen in the reactions of, say, high school students to the character of Hud. He is a dynamic, attractive human being. But judged by his actions, he is an unmitigated bastard, motivated solely out of self interest: he sleeps with other men’s wives, he drives his Cadillac over flower beds, he tries to have his father declared incompetent so that he can get control of the old man’s property. Yet high school students have adopted him as a hero; they admire his bravado, his coolness, and they either ignore his amorality or admire that, too.

Young Men Opposed to Vietnam War

Interesting that back in ’63 it was noted by a guy who went on to write for The New Yorker that high school students thought Hud was cool. Not college students. So that puts the age at, say, guys born in 1947 to 1949. They would be subjected to the draft in ’65 to ’67.

Aha! So these were the guys primed to self-absorption and then shame when they weren’t able to live up to the image set by their fathers. Long hair. Bell bottom pants. Musicians are the heroes now. Remember? Protesting, burning draft cards and fleeing to Canada put these guys in a completely different category than their fathers, who purportedly went willingly to war and did their duty. At least that’s how it went in the movies, right? And isn’t that how our popular perceptions are formed?

So that says to me that the beginning of the end for patriarchy came earlier than we ever thought. I’d argue what we’re seeing now is the last gasp of that death. If women rule, and they likely will soon, how are things likely to change?

Women in the Professions

First: women will take over the professions. There are now more law and med students than men. Engineering lags behind, of course, and, sadly, I’m not sure that will ever change. But won’t it be enough that woman will run medicine, law, business and politics?

Second: once they take over politics, the laws will change again, with more balance toward work and family, reproductive and sexual rights, and frankly more balance toward results. There’s actually a name for this It’s called productivism, and it’s a new paradigm starting to get noticed. The old ways, run by male bean counters, aka MBAs, forgot that workers are consumers. So when they shipped all that production to China to save money on labor, they impoverished all those parts of the country that are now called red states. That was unsustainable, and it will only begin to change when women take over the country.

I’m really sorry to be the one to tell you guys, but you are toast. Get over it. Stay home and watch the kids. Forget ‘hold my beer’; now it’ll be ‘hold the baby: I’m changing the American workplace’. I just hope it isn’t too late.

The Bear is the Best

The FX show The Bear is getting rave reviews and they are all deserved. Without reservation, I’d say it’s currently the best show on television, now that Season 1 of Sarah Lancashire’s HBO Max reincarnation of Julia Child is over.

Sarah Lancashire Becomes Julia Child

I’ve watched six of the eight episodes, savoring what is left. I missed it when it was broadcast on FX, so I’m watching it on Hulu. If you don’t have Hulu, get it, even if it’s just for a month to binge watch this show.

So what about it is so great? First: it’s about food. The camera work on the chopping, braising and mashed potato-making is thrilling – yes, I said it: thrilling. Brilliant. Fabulous. Second: the storyline is fresh and incredibly well cast, with one exception. I’ll get to that in a minute. Third: It has Oliver Platt. Who? Oh good grief. Oliver the fluffy guy who was incredibly verbose in Lake Placid to Bill Pullman’s straight man routine. Oliver who was the useless husband to Laura Linney in HBO’s The Big C, another great show from years ago. Oliver, who now plays Uncle Jimmy, a character of questionable background who is anything but stereotypical. He alone would make this worthwhile. But wait! There’s so much more.

The Standard Image for the Show

The main character called Carmy is a guy who uses a family tragedy to escape the mental pressure of foody work at a fancy New York restaurant. We know that from snippets of flashback where he’s being tortured by a sadist of a chef boss. Carmy tries to bring his knowledge and the ways of New York French cuisine to the family sandwich shop in Chicago, and the culture shock is hard on everyone, but especially on Carmy who is struggling with the loss of his brother Michael. That character isn’t even shown until Episode 6, and is played by the incredible Jon Bernthal, lately of the newest series from The Wire guys on HBO about Baltimore’s police corruption. Hope to see more of this character in Season 2.

This Guy Steals the Show with His Over-the-Top Personality

But the guy who steals the show in this series is Ebon Moss-Bachrach as the wild and crazy cousin Richie who thinks the place really is his. But Richie is a fossil, stuck in the old ways when Michael was running the place into the ground, physically and financially. Michael’s drug problem is mentioned but you the viewer have to make the connections to resulting money and relationship issues. This makes the plot rich without patronizing us. How fresh and unusual!

The one fly in the oatmeal is the dynamics in the relationship between Carmy and Sugar, his sister. Their dialogue doesn’t work, as it fails to help us understand why Carmy avoids Sugar and Sugar is so angry. Abby Elliott, formerly of SNL, plays Sugar and she just doesn’t work in that role. Oh well, everybody has a blind spot.

Jon Bernthal with five minutes of Screen Time

The Bear has been renewed for Season 2. There is no reason why a second season shouldn’t be as successful as the first, as there is so much more plot to explore. As previously mentioned, I hope Bernthal will be back as he is a force of nature that fits perfectly into the cast. So I, for one, am looking forward to another round of this show. So watch it, people! You’ll like it.

Let’s Get This Party Goin’

I’ve decided to start putting my book together on August 12th. Which book is that? Why, My Year at the Depot is the tentative title. It will reflect my one year stint with the world’s largest home improvement retailer in the world. I have already gleaned a lot of material for it.

Apparently a rapper called Fifty Cent – who knew? Not me

Why August 12th? Because that will be my six month anniversary of employment there as a mixer of paint. Will there be a party to celebrate? Not likely. I am getting a fifty cent an hour raise next month, but not just me: everyone in the store is getting a raise. Why is that?

Empty Flooring Aisles – of Help, that is

I think HD is worried about the turnover in the ranks. We are apparently woefully short-handed, and it appears to be a bit of a revolving door, per some employees with whom I’ve spoken. They describe a situation where there’s too much real estate to cover and too few associates assigned to cover it. That is true for flooring in particular. Every time someone catches me over there and asks for help, it’s nearly impossible to find anyone that knows anything to assist – even if they work in that department! Revolving door.

There’s a new person in the department I’ll call “J Prime”. That’s because there’s another “J” that works there, so I don’t want there to be confusion between the two. This is a delightful young lady who wants to learn and work hard. Imagine that! Gal after my own heart.

So gradually we’ll become an all female department. M with the sparkly eyes is back after a short stint in another department. Not sure she’s happy to be back but well, there it is. She had to take a leave for personal reasons, so the change was inevitable. Not fair, but hey – that’s business, right?

Data App

Well, maybe. At the meeting where the store manager announced the raises, I commented that I need data to do a better job. He referred me to something called “Pulse” which is available on the phone. At first glance it was hard to decipher, but at least I know it’s there and so I’ll start to dig into it. Already surprised to know that plastic sheeting and buckets are the second biggest sellers in the department. The biggest sellers vary depending on time frame, but sheeting and buckets is always second. Which is really pretty amazing, considering nobody can ever locate the stuff. Goes to show, huh? What? Oh, I haven’t any idea. But I’ll be looking into it, that’s for sure.

Dynasty Paint – Top of the Line and Most Expensive

Had another return of Dynasty paint, with the DIYer saying it didn’t go as far as advertised. That is a recurring theme with that brand, the most expensive in the fleet. I looked at a YouTube video with a professional evaluating the brand. He affirmed the problem. I’ve had to give discounts twice on Marquee, which I and Consumer Reports thinks is the best brand. But these days it’s hard to say about feedback – especially on Facebook. I think there are fake testimonials on there about paint – all positive about Sherwin Williams, all negative about Behr. Then when you click on the testifier, it looks like they are fake personalities. They have a few pictures, but that’s about it. No details. No life history. Very odd, not to mention suspicious. Who can you believe any more?

I know, I know. I’m starting to sound like a crabby old broad. Well, get used to it. But this is not a rant. Way back in the beginning, I vowed to avoid rants, and with one exception, I have stuck to my vow. So just call it observations. OK?

That’s it for now – August 12th. Be ready.

The Day After

As is often the case, the day after I wrote a blog piece, someone else contributed something to a media outlet that complemented what I’d written. Such was the case with yesterday’s “Bodily Control”. An opinion piece came out in The New York Times comparing banning abortion with the enactment of Prohibition in the 1920’s. It was written by a history professor from Georgetown University. His conclusion was slightly different from mine, in that he focused on the part I wrote about how unenforceable the newly-enacted state laws will be. He didn’t talk about the fact that the Supreme Court as an institution took a major hit to its credibility. John Marshall is rolling in his grave at the moment. If you find that confusing, just google John Marshall or Marbury v Madison. You’ll figure out what I mean when you read what’s written.

Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the US

The last time a major Supreme Court decision was ignored was in 1832 by President Andrew Jackson. John Marshall was still there, and the case involved Native American sovereignty in Georgia. As there was no social media in 1832, the impact was reserved exclusively for Native Americans. Relatively speaking, that was a small part of the population, in this case about forty six thousand versus nearly thirteen million whites. This time, the Supremes have upset fifty one percent of the entire population of the country – and there is social media that isn’t going to let this go. So we have another unenforceable decision, upsetting half the entire population of the country. And I’d argue the Supremes aren’t done with us yet.

When they overturn cases that uphold the right to contraception, gay marriage, affirmative action, control over gerrymandering and … uh oh .. interracial marriage? Might that last one hit close to home for one of them? Let’s talk about that.

The Case that Could be Overturned

The case of Loving v. Virginia was decided in 1967, overturning state law that declared intermarriage to be illegal. The basis of that decision was a violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. You remember the 14th – the one enacted after the Civil War to grant citizenship to former slaves? Well, kiddies, one could argue that equal protection for women and their bodies might be found in the 14th amendment. Since the Supremes didn’t find that protection there, wouldn’t it follow that this case was wrongly decided as well? After all, white and black couples getting married have nothing to do with slaves being granted citizenship, right? Uh oh. Clarence Thomas, darling – you could be hoisted on your own petard. Wouldn’t that just be too ironic?

The People’s Court in Nazi Germany

I think we’re going to be in for some very interesting times in the next few years. the chaos that results from roiling established law will further the national estrangement. My prediction has always been – and will continue to be – the geographic breaking up of these United States. We shall be united no longer. We will be enclaves, likely in four to six different parts with mass migration of like-minded people. Social and culture issues have undone many a civilization in the past. The “People’s Court” was set up in 1934 by Hitler after he was dissatisfied with the acquittal of defendants charged with the Reichstag fire. There was no presumption of innocence in front of that group of judges. Might the reverse happen here? If the Supremes keep overturning settled law, the result could be adding more judges to the bench – or creating a whole new court like Hitler did. Or each region having its own “People’s Court”. But this time, it would be designed to act as a buffer between the rogue Supremes and the region. Now wouldn’t that be a real kick in the head? God help us.

The Disunited States of America

Bodily Control

The thought occurred to me this morning: remember the late 60’s, early 70’s? Probably most of you young’uns don’t, but you know it from the history of the Vietnam War. What did we do? We protested. What did we protest? The draft. What was the draft? Young men losing control over their bodies. Start to see some irony here?

Vietnam Era Draft Protest

When guys didn’t want to get drafted, men and women marched in the streets. Men burned their draft cards, went to Canada or – in the case of the scion of a famous Bush family – became a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard. What was the result? The end of the draft and the beginning of the lottery. Of course, by then the war was winding down anyway, so a guy’s chances of being selected, trained and sent to southeast Asia were nil. But since then? No draft. Only an all-volunteer army.

Harry Blackmun

Women marched in the streets too – for something called women’s lib. It took many forms, but one outcome was a decision by Justice Harry Blackmun in a case entitled Roe vs Wade out of Texas. Of course, out of Texas. Norma McCorvey, a less than stellar candidate for motherhood, became the face of women’s right to choose whether to have a child or not. Justice Harry decided to find a right to privacy in the Constitution to allow – under certain circumstances – a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

We all went along for forty years assuming it would always be there. But then it wasn’t. Now it isn’t. There was never really a right to privacy in the Constitution. Justice Harry just made it up, because before he joined the Supremes, he represented doctors at the Mayo Clinic. It was about those guys’ right to practice medicine without government interference; to have control over their profession. Begin to see some genuine ironies here? No? Geez – OK, I’ll spell it out for you.

Roe v Wade was decided to benefit doctors, who were predominantly men back then because med school discriminated against women. Eliminating the draft benefitted men, because only men could be drafted. Who benefits from overturning the right to abortion? Certainly not women. But how does it benefit men?

Notice a Pretty Definite Slope there?

Sigh. It really doesn’t. Nobody wins from this one, not even the ideologues who think they are protecting ‘the unborn’. If the unborn were protected, the birth rate would go up. But the birth rate won’t go up. It will most likely go down, below where it is today. And where is it today? 1.7, less than the ‘replacement’ number of 2.1. There will be fewer babies because women will abstain more from sex or use the morning after pill more or stockpile the abortion pills. Fewer babies will be killed, yes. But fewer babies will be conceived. So what have we accomplished here?

What is the Court without Enforceability?

We have made a large number of women angry. Very angry. And a lot of those women are in positions of authority now that weren’t in those positions before. Which positions you ask? District attorneys. Police chiefs. Prosecutors of all sorts. What if they refuse to enforce the law? What happens to the credibility of the Supreme Court, making a decision that is simply not enforced? I think you know the answer to that one.

I think Chief Justice John Roberts knows the answer too. He also knows he’s now saddled with a kamikaze court, thanks to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the newbies on the court who are just flexing their new-found ideologic authority. Oh, but the consequences. Everyone is focusing on the financial implications. As it is, women’s participation in the workplace has dropped because of Covid and child care deficits. So what will be the result? No child care – no child. Duh. Further drop in the birth rate.

China began to realize the error of the one child mandate and, ironically, enforced abortions a few years ago. Their demographics are a disaster. So will ours be within the next ten years. Reversing the reversal won’t fix it. Women will understand they never really had control over their bodies. So they will take control. Over Everything. Watch out, fellas. You’re about to become obsolete.

Lemmings Doing the Deep Dive

Ah, there’s too many people for the earth to sustain anyway – been that way since the ’80’s. This is just another step on our way to becoming those lemmings that jump off cliffs.


a customer the other day  needed to come back with a particular color for her dinged-up cabinets. She agreed to do that; then told me she would wait until I was on duty again, as she didn’t want anybody else to wait on her. At first I was touched by the sentiment – in fact, I gave her a hug. Well, that’s probably a big fat NO..No for HD associates, so my first thought was, “Well, won’t be long before I get fired.”

But then I had a second emotion on my way home: guilt. I am a fraud. I act as though I care about the needs of my customers, but do I really? Or is this just about ginning (sp?) up interactions that lead to anecdotes for my book? I went home and mentioned my feelings to both Ray and John. Ray, Lee Ann and Jopie are visiting, taking care of Florida business en-route to relocation. But I digress. Anyway, I mentioned it to those two guys. Ray’s response was what difference does it make what your motive is if you give good service and the customer is happy? I agreed that was true. Later on, as John and I were watching Adam Sandler’s movie The Hustle, I shared those feelings with John. He reminded me: everything is copy. So my feelings about feeling guilty for not being a true “HD” person are just another chapter – or maybe a subchapter – in the book. Wow. Now let’s think about that for a minute. The implications are obvious. EVERYBODY that works at HD is effectively doing what I’m doing. Does M the Elder care about his customers? Most assuredly not – and he doesn’t really try to hide that fact. Does M the AM (parse that one out for yourselves) care, or does he just want more profitability (there’s your hint as to what an AM is). So really, it’s ALL just performance art. Huh? Yep – performance art. What the f is that? Another aside – my friend Margie just wrote a whole piece about swearing – really cool..I should put a link to it if she agrees. Update: she did. Click on the word ‘swearing’. Back to the point. Wikipedia says “Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants.” So we’re in a tableau. Question is: who’s the artist, what’s the art, and who are the viewers? Oh my, pithy questions that deserve more examination. So when you go to the paint department, you the customer are the viewer of performance art. My associates and I are the performers. The book will document the event, so I guess that makes me the artist? But it’s really more basic than that. You the customer want a nice paint color, and want someone competent to help you achieve that end. We the associates and managers want to sell you the paint and brushes and rollers and tarps – you get the idea. We want to add profit to the HD ledger and retain our positions. So let’s get legalistic now. It’s a contract. We make an offer (the paint), you accept the offer (carry the can to customer service), you give consideration (put the cost of that paint on your HD credit card). A contract, executed hundreds of times a day between willing buyers and sellers. But wait – there’s more. At a training earlier in the week, it was stressed that we must ‘upsell’. What is that? That’s where we sell you the customer a higher grade of paint that is more profitable to the store. Well, now – haven’t been told that before. Why? Because the profits were there doing things the way we were before. What’s changed? Covid is over, the season is over and inflation is likely going to depress sales. So the suggested solution is to upsell. Can I do that? Reflect back on my second really nasty confrontation with a customer who accused me of doing just that – upselling her when she didn’t need what I was selling, even though she had specifically requested it. So there’s the dance – knew there was one. An empathetic (or empathic) customer will know when they’re being upsold. I always do, being one. When I encounter it, I recoil and generally do not return to the scene of extortion. So that means every encounter must be quickly evaluated to see if the additional profit is worth the risk of alienating a customer who will know we’re trying to sell them something they may – or may not – need. A dance. My co-worker I made a comment yesterday afternoon that M the AM would likely fire him because he was selling too much low-priced paint. He is sensitive, but not empathic. However, he’s had enough experience to know how to do the dance. Not sure about the others. Time will tell. That’s all – gonna go ask Margie if I can link to her article. If she says yes, you’ll see a hot button above. Later!