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.

Ash Monday

April 25, 2022

Looking NNW from the road to the Sandia Tram.

You’d never know it from this pic, but the whole state of New Mexico seems to be on fire.

Meanwhile, Hal reports snow up to Weirdcliffe. Go figure.

The air has been a little chewy here the past couple of days with 20 or so fires doing the business. But the temps and winds have dipped a tad, and if we could only get just a little bitty bit of what Hal’s getting up north the firefighters (and asthmatics like Your Humble Narrator) might get some breathing room.

Meanwhile, the gov’ has hollered emergency, fires are banned, and fireworks may be next. Sayeth the gov’:

“It’s going to be a tough summer. So that’s why we are banning fires. And that is why on Monday I will be asking every local government to be thinking about ways to ban the sales of fireworks.”

Good luck with that. The Stupid is strong among our people, and if they can’t get fireworks, well, they’ll just break out the smokepoles and try to shoot down the moon.

Mirth Day

April 22, 2022

High there. …

On yesterday’s ride I noticed an electronic billboard cycling between judgments: “It’s Miller Time” and “You’re too drive to high.”

Ohhhhhkay. So, it’s fine to pop the top on a(nother) can of watery industrial lager while happily motoring through The Duck! City, but burning one is right out?

In any case, I suspect that if I’d been beered up or baked, I’d have crashed trying to decode that second one. Stone cold sober I nearly careened off the bike path and into the weeds.

Fence ’em out, not in

April 19, 2022

All in all it’s just another tree and a wall.

Good fences make good neighbors, they say. (Hint: Fences work best if the neighbors keep their gates closed.)

Fences, walls, and gates seem to be keeping deer and Russians out of the yard. But how do we keep the Russians — along with Elon Musk, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ron DeSantis, and the Kardashians, this last a species more invasive than deer, Russians, or kudzu — out of our heads?

A few of us were discussing this via email recently, and I chimed in thusly:

As a lifelong news junkie I hate to say it, but we should all try to pay a little less attention to what they call “news” these days.

Fully half of it is nonsense, and a quarter of it is something we can’t do anything about. The final 25 percent may have some bearing on you and yours, concerning something you can actually get a handle on. It will probably be local news. If you can find any.

What people like me used to call news 40 years ago was still pretty overwhelming on the supply side. We whittled it down and sold it in 24-hour doses, like allergy meds. It could boggle the mind at times, but most folks could take it, learn a little something, form a few defensible opinions.

Now anyone trying to keep up feels like a dog with his head out the window of a hopped-up Honda Civic doing 110 mph coming into the Big I at drunk-thirty on Friday. There’s just too much going on out there for one poor mutt to take in

Imagine my surprise when an industry bigwig agreed with me. Ken Doctor, a media analyst and consultant who is a longtime contributor to Nieman Lab, wrote that he too is trying to fence out the wider world with all its horrors while he focuses on nurturing a startup local news outfit in Santa Cruz, Calif.

I recently talked to an old friend about a project we were working on together. He could hardly engage, so troubled was he by the news from Ukraine. What’s going on in the broader world is bleak, more than enough to depress and deflate us. I’ve put all that in the back of my head because I have little time or room to address national or global issues on which I can have little impact. I’ve been working on Lookout now for more than three years, and it’s the hardest, most consuming thing I’ve done in a 47-year career. But as I, and my peers, focus fiercely on rebuilding our little parts of the planet, we focus on what we can change.

Well. Just goes to show you even a dumb dog can dig up a moldy Milk-Bone now and then, if he can just keep the deer and the Kardashians out of his yard.

The sneezin’ season

April 16, 2022

The maple is leafing out nicely.

I’ve seen it twice now, at the NPR website and in the AARP Bulletin, so it must be true: Allergy season is getting worse.

(I’ve also seen it in our Kleenex consumption, if you’re looking for empirical evidence.)

The gist of it is that warmer temperatures mean your sneezing starts earlier in the spring and lasts longer come fall. And the hotter the climate, the bigger the pollen output.

“This is another unintended consequence of climate change that hasn’t been explored that much,” says Allison Steiner, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Michigan and an author of the study. “It has a big impact on human health.”

Warmer and drier also means more fires, and we have several going on at the moment, the worst of them down at Ruidoso. The McBride Fire has taken more than 200 homes and at least two lives, and thousands are under evacuation orders. There was zero containment as of last night.

“But it’s not even fire season yet!” you exclaim. You’re looking at last year’s calendar, Hoss.

Ruminating

April 14, 2022

“We’d like some port and cigars, if you don’t mind.”

We have visitors again. At least I don’t have to cook for this lot. Our back yard is their commissary. Also, their latrine.

They finally got on the neighbors’ last nerve the other day, waltzing in through an open gate and noshing on some choice bits of this and that, so we’re beefing up perimeter security here in the cul-de-sac.

This will require blood, toil, tears, and sweat. Also, probably, money. A mule deer can sail over an 8-foot barrier if there’s something to eat on the other side. We don’t have any 9-foot barriers handy, so in hopes of avoiding a pricey trip to Lowe’s we’re trying to dazzle ’em with bullshit. What the hell, it works on people.

Meanwhile, the deer had a high old time, strolling around the neighbors’ terraced gardens, leaping back and forth across our shared wall, and chasing each other around and about like very large hooved puppies. We should’ve shot some video — video cameras we got in spades — but we were having too much fun watching.

R.I.P., Gilbert Gottfried

April 12, 2022

Gilbert Gottfried, one of the least predictable comics ever, has left the stage. He was 67.

The family says only that he died “after a long illness,” though his publicist told The Washington Post that the cause was complications of muscular dystrophy. I thought he seemed unwell (or at least ill at ease) in Neil Berkeley’s “Gilbert,” a look at the comic’s other life as a family man circa 2017.

The dude never saw a line he wouldn’t cross, and it cost him occasionally. But he kept crossing them, and at the 2001 Friars Club roast of Hugh Hefner, when boos and cries of “Too soon!” spurred Gottfried to pivot from a 9/11 bit to a particularly vile take on the inside joke captured in “The Aristocrats” documentary, it reminded everyone who was in charge here — the little fella with the big voice.

“OK. A talent agent is sitting in his office. A family walks in. …”

“It was arguably the dirtiest roast the Friars had ever done,” said roastmaster Jeff Ross, who knows from filth, believe you me.

But Gottfried’s bit was more than just a dirty joke — OK, so, more like a filthy, grotesque, eye-popping juggernaut of preposterous vulgarity — it was a joyous, raucous reminder that some scumbag may be able to take your life, but only you can let one take your laughter.

I still can’t watch that bit without heehawing like a donkey. What a gift Gilbert Gottfried gave us.

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.

April is the cruellest month

April 8, 2022

“This is not the Door into Summer,” observes Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

One of Robert A. Heinlein’s lesser-known (and mildly creepy) novels, “The Door into Summer,” takes its name from the protagonist’s snow-phobic cat, who is forever looking for same.

“This will do nicely. You may go now.”

We have one of those, too. Miss Mia Sopaipilla has never been an outside cat — she tours the yard on a harness now and again — but she does love a nice sunny indoor spot on a cool April morning. And after she’s had a nibble, a nap, and another nibble, she insists that I escort her to one with all possible haste.

Thing is, Miss Mia is almost always a few steps ahead of the sun, which doesn’t really give us much love until around 9 a.m. this time of year. So we have to visit the living room, the spare bedroom, and the master bedroom to take sun samples until, like Goldilocks, she finds the spot that’s just right.

Piece of Cake

April 7, 2022

OK, I know you folks floating around out there in the Innertubes are dying to know all the deets about the exotic life of the retired velo-scribbler.

So, hold my fake beer and dig this:

Yesterday I went to Lowe’s for some lawn soil to spread over the recently seeded bare patches in the yard and gave ’em a good watering, then mowed the healthier bits of grass. Later I cooked up a big ol’ pot of jambayala.

This morning I toasted and tea’d Herself, who has a full day at the lab. Then I fed and watered Miss Mia Sopaipilla, giving her a few head-bumps in a sunny spot for dessert, and emptied her litter box.

Next I got a loaf of bread going and set about watering a few shrubs and one tree out front, using SuperDuper! to back up The Main Mac to an external drive, downloading an OS update, and washing the breakfast dishes (two cups of strong black coffee and one of strong black tea will lead to multitasking).

And now the garbage is going out. Boom! You can’t stop me, so don’t even try.

I hate to go all Hollywood on you little people like this, but I figure the few of you who still have jobs deserve to know how I’m pissing away your Social Security contributions on my rock-’n’-roll lifestyle.