Archive for the ‘Things that suck’ Category

A wee bit of civics

June 1, 2023

The backyard maple is trying to coax a bit of rain from those clouds.

June 1. Good gawd awmighty. Three weeks until the first day of summer.

Where the hell does the time go?

It doesn’t feel very summery, not yet. We’re slathering on the sunscreen when we go out and about, but highs have only reached the mid-70s to mid-80s, which are very much bearable.

Thus, we have no excuses for staying inside to watch Sleepy Joe and Charlie McCarthy make the sausage. We’ll be eating it soon enough.

It all reminds me very little of what we were taught in junior-high civics classes. Or home economics, for that matter.

What it reminds me of is gym class, specifically the shower portion, wherein a jock occasionally would pee surreptitiously on some poor geek’s leg while distracting him with conversation.

The geek was usually so astonished to be having a chat with one of his betters that he didn’t notice the augmented fluids coursing down his calf until the giggling began.

And then he couldn’t do anything about it anyway.

The geek didn’t yet know about the sausage. He still thought it was just something mom put on his plate with the scrambled eggs and toast. He still thought Bob Dylan was just singing a song.

On the wings of a dove

April 8, 2023

This year’s tenant.

The Duck! City is something of an aviary all of a sudden.

I’ve heard a couple hummingbirds buzzing around (haven’t actually seen one yet). Quail I have seen, and heard. Finches are hitting our feeders like the working press swarming an open bar.

And we have the usual dove nesting beneath the overhang by the front door.

Speaking of our feathered friends, it seems E. Lawn Mulch must’ve gotten lonely in those Twitter offices he’s worked so diligently to empty. His latest attention-getting ploy is to do a flyby on newsletter platform Substack, which has announced plans to launch the latest Next Twitter Thingie, called Notes.

Captain Free Speech — who croaked his own newsletter platform — has apparently gone all Twitter Über Alles on Substack, forbidding embedded tweets in Substack posts, links in tweets to Substack articles, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

According to Taylor Lorenz at The Washington Post:

On Thursday, Substack writers discovered that they were no longer able to embed tweets in their Substack posts. Writers who tried were met with the message, “Twitter has unexpectedly restricted access to embedding tweets in Substack posts.”

On Friday morning, Twitter began blocking users from retweeting, liking or engaging with posts that contained links to Substack articles. Users also could not pin posts containing links to Substack to the top of their profiles. On Friday evening, Twitter began marking links to Substack as “unsafe.”

Even Substack’s corporate Twitter account was restricted, with users reporting that they were unable to retweet or quote-tweet the handle’s posts.

A number of Substack writers are very much not amused, among them Matt Taibbi, who announced that “beginning early next week I’ll be using the new Substack Notes feature (to which you’ll all have access) instead of Twitter. …”

Judd Legum, Matt Swider, and Laura Jedeed were likewise critical, with Jedeed telling The Verge that she sees subscription bumps “every time Musk does something stupid.”

“I think people realize Twitter is dying and they want to keep hearing from me after it falls apart,” she says. “He’s driving traffic my way by being stupid but, like everything he does, it’s killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”

Hey, dude’s still laying eggs. The smelly brown ones. Anyone promoting an online presence anywhere other than Twitter should probably invest in umbrellas and air fresheners.


April 4, 2023

The Pink Moon, not quite full, glares down through a skylight.

Things are dark enough around here on a Tuesday morning without a bloated fartsack with federal muscle jetting from Mar-a-Lago to Manhattan on Uncle Sammy’s dime to get a kid-gloves arraignment at New York taxpayers’ expense on charges of paying hush money to porn stars, cooking the books, and in general showing all the class of a Hells Angel on a rented electric scooter, or maybe Fredo Corleone in Vegas, before Mikey sent him fishing.

Does this mooch ever pick up a tab?

In a proper world, Your Numble Narrator would be allowed to stay curled up in his toasty puddle of blankets until Old Mister Sun peeps in through the gaps in the vertical blinds, murmuring, “Rise and shine like me! Time for bones creaking, weak thinking, and strong black coffee to set everything aright!”

Alas, no. Herself is a spry young thing who is still on the clock. She arises at dark-thirty most mornings to place her cute lil’ button nose squarely upon the grindstone, that we may have our bacon and beans.

Do not weep for Herself, however. She likes it. She enjoys working and earning and being known throughout The Organization as someone who does not lean on her shovel but rather buckles down and gets the job done.

And if that means getting up at an hour I once considered a reasonable bedtime, well … she’s your gal.

• • •

The air is thick enough to slice for sandwiches.

Some days there is not enough sunshine and strong black coffee in the world, and this is one of them.

I don’t want to pay attention to what’s going down in Manhattan. But I feel obliged to keep one jaundiced eye aimed in that direction, if only because not paying attention is what led us to this sordid back alley of jurisprudence ripe with decades of uncollected garbage.

It’s not fun. Not nearly as nice as sleeping late, sipping a fat mug of joe, and idly skimming the news for lively items about camera-wearing cats.

It’s not even as enjoyable as listening to the wind howling at 666 mph and blowing my nose every 30 seconds because I am among the 26 percent of Americans who suffer from seasonal — ahhhhh-CHOO!allergies.

And though Charles Pelkey and I could probably make a couple thou’ apiece by cranking up the old Live Update Guy machinery to chronicle this mess, we’ll give it a miss.

I mean, where’s the entertainment value? According to The New York Times:

While in custody, he will be fingerprinted, but special accommodations will be made for the former president: He is not expected to be placed in a holding cell and will spend only a short time in the office before his court appearance; he likely won’t be handcuffed or have a mug shot taken.

At the arraignment, Mr. Trump is expected to enter a not-guilty plea himself, rather than through his lawyers, as an act of defiance in keeping with his approach to the day, according to people with knowledge of his thinking. He is also weighing whether to address the cameras before the arraignment, another person familiar with the discussions said.

Just another rerun of “The Apprentice.” Looks like it’ll be a while before anyone gets around to taking out this old sack of trash.

The devil you say

December 27, 2022

“Thank you for calling Satan. Your call is important to the Dark Lord.
Please continue to hold.”

The photo above is probably not of Hell rising, but rather a reflection of the heat boiling up from the unwashed brows of the uncounted hordes of angry travelers camped out in airports nationwide, watching through reddening eyes as flights are canceled faster than mouthy white guys, enduring the endless repetition of tinny holiday tunes while on perma-hold with customer service, and wondering if their gastrointestinal systems can survive another Happy Meal that is anything but.

So, yeah. Maybe Hell rising after all.

R.I.P., Barbara Ehrenreich

September 2, 2022

She took what they were giving ’cause she was working for a living.

Barbara Ehrenreich, the journalist, activist, and author who never lost touch with her working-class roots, has clocked out. She was 81.

Her New York Times obit draws from the introduction to “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” in which she recounts wondering with a magazine editor how the unskilled survive on the wages paid them and then blurting out something that she “had many opportunities to regret: ‘Someone ought to do the old-fashioned kind of journalism — you know, go out there and try it for themselves.'”

Which is exactly what Ehrenreich did, of course, working and living as a waitress, hotel maid, nursing-home aide, and Walmart “associate,” among other things. Then she came back and told us all about it.

And though she would be writing it up, she wasn’t phoning it in:

People knew me as a waitress, a cleaning person, a nursing home aide, or a retail clerk not because I acted like one but because that’s what I was, at least for the time I was with them. In every job, in every place I lived, the work absorbed all my energy and much of my intellect. I wasn’t kidding around. Even though I suspected from the start that the mathematics of wages and rents were working against me, I made a mighty effort to succeed.

She was not, and is not, alone. And in her Evaluation at the end of the book, Ehrenreich proposed that those of us who live in comfort while others barely scrape by should feel not just guilt, but shame.

When someone works for less pay than she can live on — when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently — then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life.

What a gift was Ehrenreich’s life. Peace unto her, her family, friends, and readers.

Stormy weather

July 30, 2022

The AcuRite is wrong.

Yesterday’s power outage apparently electroshocked our weather widget into insensibility, so now come morning I have to step outside for a quick assay of the meteorological situation.

How tedious. A fella could get sunburnt, windburnt, soaked, frostbitten, lightning-struck, run over, or shot like that.

When Herself joined that long line for AcuRite’s online support chat yesterday their people proved less than supportive, shrugging their virtual shoulders and mumbling, “Hey, what could I tell you?”

However, I see from their website that AcuRite will happily give us 10 percent off purchases and keep us abreast of “exclusive offers, new products, and other useful content” if only we will sign up for their email list.

Nope. Let ’em step outside and holler if they have something to say to us. We are currently experiencing a heavy call volume. Please continue to hold (me bollocks).

Smoked out

May 17, 2022

Done and dusted until further notice.

If you think that little slice of New Mexico looks dry, even parched, maybe, well … that’s because it is.

And so, the word has come down that a forest closure order has been issued effective Thursday for the Mount Taylor, Mountainaire, and Sandia ranger districts of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands. The entire Carson and Santa Fe national forests will follow suit.

Says the U.S. Forest Service:

“Fire danger remains extreme with record conditions only expected to worsen over the foreseeable future. The closure will be rescinded after significant moisture has been received and overall conditions improve.”

It’s a bummer, for sure. But so is getting burned the hell up.

I was just out toodling around in the Elena Gallegos Open Space, with an extra-credit lap around the Menaul trailhead area, and the Steelman Eurocross was cheeping like a nest of baby birds by the time I got home.

That ain’t dirt, it’s dust. And nobody wants a forest they can fit into an ashtray. Or so some of us would like to think, anyway. The quantity of cigarette butts I see along the roads and at trailheads suggests that this is not a unanimous opinion.

All aTwitter

April 26, 2022

My final tweet, from New Year’s Eve 2017. Didn’t cost me shit.

OK, pop quiz. if you had $44 billion lying around doing not very much you would:

  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. House the homeless.
  3. Buy Twitter.

I guess I get it, kinda, sorta. I mean, I like toys. I just bought a canister stove for my occasional camping adventures; MSR said they didn’t have the bits to modernize my Bronze Age RapidFire, then offered me 30 percent off on a new burner. So, ’ray for MSR and for me.

But Twitter? Maybe Elon has the bits to fix that hot mess, and maybe he doesn’t. He can certainly throw bales of cash at it until he tears a rotator cuff or finds some other shiny object to money-whip until boredom sets in once again.

Me, I don’t even want to use Twitter for free.

Be here when?

April 10, 2022

The Cuisinart bread warmer/scorcher.

On Saturday I was making breakfast and mulling over Ken Layne’s latest Desert Oracle podcast when I smelled something burning.

The Wirecutter boyos say you can’t buy a proper toaster anymore, whether you spend a lot or a little, and I believe them. If I don’t keep an eye on and make adjustments to this cheapo Cuisinart what I wind up with is either lightly dried bread or a blackened slab that looks like a smoking shake shingle from a lightning-fried cabin.

A little thing, to be sure. Hardly the foundation for a thumbsucker The New Yorker might buy. And never mind writing about it — simply thinking about it may be a red flag, or so posits the Desert Oracle:

If you don’t have any sense of mission or destiny, or religious faith, or really any sort of sustainable lifetime philosophy, then the small stuff is all you can think about. Because no matter where you are in life, at one time or another you are going to have all the usual problems: health, money, sorrow, disgust, anger, gum disease, athlete’s foot, too much house or none at all. Your dog either up and died or it’s neurotic and full of hate and will outlive you by decades. Everybody’s out to get you or nobody pays any attention at all. The entirety of modern technological society has brushed away and marginalized the personal practice of philosophy. So we lose the plot while we’re in it. It’s like one of those Disney “Star Wars” movies.

I’ve had all of these problems, except being outlived by dogs. And that rough beast is bound to come slouching around one of these days, because Herself wants one, even more than she wants properly toasted bread in the mornings, slathered with Irish butter and French spread.

Maybe I should relocate to one of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville-branded “active-living communities,” a paradise for Parrotheads, which is a philosophy of sorts, maybe even a religion.

I had a brief Buffett period, and still enjoy his early works, like “He Went to Paris,” “Cuban Crime of Passion,” and “Death of an Unpopular Poet.” He may have foreshadowed his future as a geezer miner with the lyrics to “I Have Found Me a Home”:

And I have found me a home

Yes, I have found me a home

And you can have the rest of everything I own

’Cause I have found me a home.

I think we’re all bohos on this bus.

That song and the rest of my best-of-Buffett list are from his 1973 breakout album, “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean,” which features, among others, Steve Goodman on acoustic lead guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle, and Thomas McGuane on liner notes (“We are beset by the quack minstrels of a non-existent America, bayed at by the children of retired orthodontists about ‘hard times’ and just generally depleted by all the clown biographies and ersatz subject matter of the drugs-and-country insurgence that is replacing an earlier song mafia,” and if that isn’t vintage Captain Berserko I’m a Daytona Beach Realtor.).

The folks who live in Buffett’s beach-bum burgs out there in Disney country certainly seem to have a philosophy that works for them. In his New Yorker piece Nick Paumgarten quotes Stuart Schultz, Latitude Margaritaville’s head of residential community relations (and a former summer-camp director), as saying that living in a Margaritaville property is “like being in college, but with money and without having to study. You have a great dorm room, you never have to go to class, and there’s always a party.”

Hm. I dunno. An earlier version of me never went to class but took in many a party, so I feel like I’ve done my time in that dorm room. And like the toast from my Cuisinart I have the scorch marks to show for it.

It’d probably be smarter to stay put. Get a philosophy. And maybe a dog.

The old cat meows

December 19, 2021

“Someone flip me over, I’m done on this side.”

Sometimes I feel like an old cat. All I want is a sunny spot and the time to stretch out in it.

But eventually I must arise, if only to hit the litter box, grab a bite to eat, and sharpen the claws on the ol’ blogaroo.

Then comes the popping, snapping, and buzzing as levers and switches are thrown and pressed. Bent tabs lurch into ragged slots; parched bearings thirst for lubrication. Gonna have to use the kick-starter on this sumbitch today, boys. Pass the ether and that big fuckin’ hammer. No, not that one, the big one. Now stand back. Gimme room!

Which is the scenic route toward saying that the WordPress elves have been monkeying around under the hood again, making “enhancements” that I did not request and revising or disabling tools that I actually use.

And after extended consultation with support it appears that I may be compelled to arise from my sunny spot, stretch myself, and read the updated owner’s manual, even perform some hideous experiments on secondary and tertiary WP blogs long forgotten by the world at large. Don’t tell the killjoys at The Hague.

There seems to be a concerted push on to shift all WordPress users to Gutenberg, the block editor (cursed be its name, yes). The few times I have examined it, like a remnant of squashed turd upon one shoe, I have been dismayed, even appalled. I am a simple fellow, and there is nothing simpler than the original WordPress editor. It is the 22R engine, solid front axle, manual locking hubs, and five-speed stick shift of bloggery.

But time passes and things change, not always for the better (may I refer you to the modern Toyota truck, which has become nearly as preposterous as its American counterparts?).

So, if you notice anything off kilter around here in the coming weeks — which is to say, more off kilter than is usual for this joint— please remember, it’s (a) not my fault, and (2) free of charge.