Archive for the ‘Plague’ Category

Spring broke

March 28, 2021

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you had a birthday. Big whup.
There better be a grand-do and foofaraw when my birthday
rolls around in August, is what.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla wants to know if all this birthday bushwa is over and done with.

The only birthday that counts as far as she is concerned is her own, which falls sometime in August. Miss Mia joined us in late October 2007, almost immediately after the passing of Chairman Meow, and Herself recollects that she was 10 to 12 weeks old at the time.

Miss Mia, not Herself. Herself is younger than me, but not that much younger.

Meanwhile, now that spring break is over — sorry, kids! — it seems we’re in for some tasty weather, with highs in the 60s and 70s over the next 10 days. Thus cycling of the outdoor variety is strongly indicated. I may even collect a few long-overdue tan lines. We’ve been short on shorts weather in the high desert so far this year.

All in all, it seems a fine time to be childless, with education completely out of sight in the old rear-view mirror. Albuquerque Public Schools will reopen on April 5, for a full five days per week, but students have the option of continuing with remote learning until the school year ends on May 25.

This must be a fun choice for the parents. If you choose school learning, you’ll probably have to transport the kiddos to and fro yourself, because APS expects to be short of bus drivers. If you choose remote learning, you get to continue being an unpaid teacher’s assistant.

Unless your boss calls you back to work. And what if you’re not one of the lucky people who can work from home? How does a teacher handle a class that’s have actual, half virtual? Many questions, few answers.

It’s going to be educational, in more ways than one.

Nothing but blue skies

March 26, 2021

Puffy clouds to the north, above the garage.

Wednesday’s snow tamped down the pollen for a while, which is a pleasant respite for the snotlocker.

It’s still not warm — 39° at the moment, which would be 10 in the a.m. on a Friday morning — but as we’ve noted before, nobody who lives in the desert should complain when it’s cool and damp. Because it never lasts.

Sleepy Joe held his first presser yesterday, but I had to bail on it after just a few minutes because I kept hearing Dana Carvey’s spot-on impression of him in my head and couldn’t focus on what the real Joe was saying. I know, I know, bad citizen, bad bad citizen! 

But from what little I saw, and read afterward, I feel confident when I say that Sleepy José is unlikely to challenge his predecessor’s score on the Loon-O-Meter® anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Herself is slated to get her first jab today. She and a colleague will each get a dose of Moderna, and then if the weather permits they might find some nearby bistro for a socially distant bite of something and perhaps a celebratory shot that doesn’t go in the arm.

And I am scheduled for round two in late April, at the same place that stuck me on Wednesday. Round one left me with an achy arm and a touch of fatigue, though the latter could have been weather- or allergy-induced. As far as I know my DNA remains unchanged, I am not shedding mutant viruses, and I have not croaked. Yet.

Or is that just what “they” would have you believe?

Stuck

March 24, 2021

My sticker sticker.

It practically goes without saying that on the morning when I was to drive a dozen miles northwest and a thousand feet down to get my first shot of Kindly Old Doc Pfizer’s Sho-nuff Genuine Bug Killer, it would be snowing sideways from the northeast at 40 mph, the power would be yo-yoing, and the cul-de-sac would look like the top of a Marie Callender’s coconut cream pie fresh from the freezer.

The wind, the power outage(s), and the cat clued us in at about 2 a.m. that it would be an interesting morning indeed. Ordinarily we’re talking about a 15-minute drive here, most of it in fifth gear. But traffic lights were out all over the place, with transformers on fire, and I had my doubts about whether we would even be getting out of the garage.

But I noticed that two neighbors had laid down tracks in the pie — pardon, the snow — and when I checked various weather cams around town I was all like, “Say what? Are these shots from yesterday?”

Nope. The fabled Albuquerque Snow Hole was in full effect. And so, by the time we slalomed through the whiteout and one pileup (not us) to the corner of Tramway Boulevard and Tramway Road, it was smooth sailing all the way down to the Presbyterian COVID-19 Vaccination Hub. The wind wasn’t even blowing down there, and we were seriously overdressed.

We were also about 40 minutes early, which turned out to be perfect. Seriously, the whole deal took about 45 minutes, including standing in line, passing through various checkpoints, getting the shot, and spending 15 minutes afterward waiting to see whether I’d turn into The Incredible Hulk or just explode in a manky cloud of pink stink.

Everybody involved was cheerful, helpful, prepared, and efficient. It was the finest example of the American Health Care Machine in operation that I’ve seen since … well, since forever. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Bravo and chapeau to everyone involved, including Herself, who came along to make sure I did not soil myself (I hate needles, unless I’m the one doing the needling).

Spring broken

March 1, 2021

There’s the signpost up ahead … you’re about to enter the McDowell Zone.

Can you be both stuck and unstuck, at the same time?

Dern tootin’, podnah.

Case in point: Last year, I had planned a March trip to McDowell Mountain Regional Park, to (a) get the hell out of here, and (2) get the hell out of here.

Well sir, God, He got wind of those plans and had Himself a good old hee, and also a haw. And the next thing you know I had a broken ankle, a dead cat, and a strongly worded suggestion from the State that I (and everyone else) stay put while the Plague sorted itself out.

So I was what you call stuck.

Now, a year later, we have a vaccine. And by “we,” I mean … well, what I mean is that there is a vaccine, and some other people have gotten it. But I haven’t. And I don’t know when I will get it.

Thus I am, you might say, unstuck. Which means I’m stuck.

Which in turn means that you get the needle. Because yes, yes, yes, it’s time for another medicinal episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: Once again we go to the Comedy Closet for this one, using a Shure MV7 mic and Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. Editing was in Apple’s GarageBand, with a sonic bump from Auphonic. Music and sound effects courtesy of Zapsplat with an Apple loop or two from iMovie and GarageBand. House call by kindly old Doc Firesign. Now just turn your head and cough.

Vox clamantis in deserto

February 21, 2021

If you’re feeling the strain of a year spent sheltering in place, occasionally pulling on the mask(s) and nitrile gloves before carrying your 10-foot pole into the grocery store like Little John facing off with Robin Hood over the last sack of whole-wheat flour in Sherwood Forest, you’ll appreciate this week’s episode of Desert Oracle Radio, “Out of Our Holes.”

Ken Layne talks about the urge to join the coyotes on the night shift, the struggle to write in an age when the word has faded, and the joy of finally coming out of our holes to once again tell strange stories around the fire.

Down in the dumps, or up in the air?

February 1, 2021

Didn’t know Kal-El had a white-trash eejit cousin, didja? Now you do.

Some people never learn.

And yes, I’m looking at me.

It took slightly more than nine months, and it was a breech birth, like all the other little bastards.

But baby, here we go again — yes, yes, yes, it’s another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: Acoustic considerations (Herself doing paying work right next to my “studio”) dictated that I change locations yet again (to her walk-in closet). This time I used a Shure MV7 mic and Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. Editing was in Apple’s GarageBand, with music and sound effects courtesy of Zapsplat and Freesound. No DC Comics properties were harmed in the production of this podcast. If “Justice League” couldn’t do ’em in, nothing can.

‘Atmospheric River’

January 30, 2021

Ghost anglers in the sky.

Can you fish an atmospheric river? Maybe. But you’ll need a strong casting arm or a flying longboat.

What Ken Layne has is a leak in his roof (or two, or three). But he’s fishing that atmospheric river anyway from the pier at Desert Oracle Radio. And he wants us in that celestial skiff with him.

“So get a bucket or a cereal bowl or something and we’ll all paddle to Hell together,” he sez. Row, row, row your boat, gently down the sky. …

Goin’ down

December 31, 2020

In the loo and adieu for you.

Hoo-boy. Pee-yew. That’n looks like a double-flusher to me. Might have to break out the plunger. Or a stick of DuPont Extra.

But it’s gotta go, come hell or high water, and I won’t miss it once it’s gone.

Twenty-fuckin’-20.

We put an old woman in a home. My foot in a splint. My cat in an urn. And our lives on hold.

We’re alive to bitch about it, which has to count for something. [Insert thunderous sound of knocking on wood here.] Plenty of other people aren’t.

Also, I finally made it to Social Security, so, yay for me. Plus Herself remains on the clock in a real big way, so, bonus. We want for nothing. Call it a lamp so that we need not curse the darkness from beneath our designer masks.

It feels greedy of me to miss my cat. Running. Road trips. Hot springs. Random acts of shopping. Long bicycle rides. Stand-up comedy. My favorite non-alcoholic beer. Bookstores. Mexican restaurants. Living in a country that helped defeat fascism, not resurrect it.

You know. The little things.

Still, I miss them. I do. And I don’t expect to get a lot of them back just like that, with a simple change of calendars, or administrations.

Especially my cat. Not unless Stephen King gets involved, and that’s a bridge too far for me. Turkish v1.0 could be scary enough.

We already have plenty to be scared of, thanks all the same.

Nevertheless, here we are, on the threshold of a new year. That I am not optimistic is not helpful. Time to show the affirming flame. We must love one another or die.

More, late*

December 21, 2020

A little light and a lot more tunnel.

“Pandemic Deal by Congress Provides Economic Relief, for Now,” reports The New York Times.

But it’s too little, too late, and perhaps the last of Uncle Sammy’s pennies in the ol’ tin cup for a while, adds The Old Grey Hoor, in an analysis by Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley.

The injection of money comes months too late for tens of thousands of failed businesses, however, and it may not be enough to sustain unemployed workers until the labor market rebounds. Moreover, it could be the last help from Washington the economy gets anytime soon.

Call me cynical, but I think we need some brighter bulbs on this job.

*Apologies to Chris in the Morning.

Climb every mountain

December 15, 2020

The southern end of the Candelaria Bench Trail.

My work, such as it is, is done for the year.

Actually, I’ve already shipped the first cartoon of the New Year to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. That hole in the back of the book won’t fill itself, after all. Especially since all the hate mail goes up front.

I should’ve celebrated with a bike ride, but I didn’t feel like pulling on all that winter kit, like some elderly knight gearing up for a quest. So instead I went for a short march through the foothills, figuring I’d finish breaking in the low-rise Merrell hikers I’ve mostly been using for street wear.

Looking west along Comanche.

El Rancho Pendejo sits at the bottom of a cul-de-sac and endures considerable shade on its eastern and southern sides, especially when the sun is low in the sky, so I always think it’s going to be colder outside than it really is. And our little weather station said 32 degrees with a brisk wind out of the north.

But once I got out in it I enjoyed myself immensely, in large part because it’s harder for the shit-flinging monkeys of the media to draw a bead on a moving target.

The lightweight boots felt great on the trail, so I scampered up a couple short climbs just for giggles. While I was up there I took a nice long sight along Comanche at all the country I haven’t been able to visit this year.

Hey, at least I was outside. Forty-five minutes, an hour, hour and a half … they’re not much, these little expeditions of mine, but they’re a whole lot better than nothing at all. A small thing, but oh, how very, very necessary.

And now that the vaccines are rolling out, maybe it won’t be long before the people who’ve been locked down for real, for months, in nursing homes, group residences, and assisted-living facilities, will be able to get a breath of fresh air. Even if they have to take it through a mask, in a wheelchair, on a sidewalk.