Thank the Greeks it’s Friday

A Historical Friday Haiku

The Greeks named today

“Hemera Aphrodites”

Aphrodite’s day.

Monday’s Solar Eclipse

Let me get the Public Service Warnings out of the way:

  • Do not stare at the sun or eclipse with the naked eye. Damage to your vision could result.
  • Do not look at the sun or eclipse through your camera’s viewfinder withiut an approved solar filter on the lens. Damage to your vision could result.
  • Do not take pictures of the sun/eclipse with your camera or smartphone without an approved solar shield. Damage to the electronics could result.

Be aware there are unscrupulous people selling “protective” solar eclipse eyeware that doesn’t protect you from shit. Amazon has been policing the sutuation, but many have already been sold.

That said, I’m really ticked at my ADHD procrastination. I saw solar eclipse glasses for sale at American Science and Surplus back in March when we were buying fun items for our kids’ Easter baskets.

I regret not buying them then because now they’re impossible to find. But then, if I had bought them, I wouldn’t remember where I put them these five months later.

Yesterday, I saw a sheet solar eclipse film for $27 that you could cut to your specifications. I figured I could cut them up so we could wear them on our faces, as well as buy an SLR 58mm empty filter to glue the film to and screw over the SLR camera’s lens.

But when I hit Add to Cart, I kept getting errors. Later, when I finally seaeched again, the price had jumped to $67! I hate the law of supply and demand.

So, I guess we have to go to the old school, tried and true method of putting a pinhole in a cereal box and watching the eclipse’s reflection through that.

Or, I could just go on FB and view the millions of FB Go Live events everyone will be posting.

Well, there’s another total solar eclipse expected on September 14, 2099. Maybe I should buy them Tuesday and out them away.

Fahrvergnügen

You remember the old Volkswagen ads, right? Fahrvergnügen! Which means, “driving pleasure.”

Tomorrow, we (specifically my wife) get to once again enjoy Fahrvergnügen!

We will be picking up our new 2017 VW Jetta SE. I don’t expect much sleeping tonight as we wait in restless anticipation like it’s the night before Christmas.

Our first car as a couple was a Jetta. Great car that we drove into the ground because neither of us are mechanics.

Weird thing was, it had no lap belts. It did have a shoulder belt. The salesman at Ernie Von Schledorn (“Who do you know want’s a car?”) told us that a lap belt was unnecessary because the dash was heavily padded to protect our knees in a crash.

And we believed the asshole.

Anyway, it was still a great car and we were fortunate never to have tested the padded dash.

But we wondered as we test drove and finally decided to welcome this new Jetta into our family, why it took almost 25 years to look at another VW?

My son and I were thinking of naming the Jetta, Jarvis, because that’s a good German name. My wife is leaning toward Jean-Luc, because … Piccard. And really, Star Trek and Patrick Stewart trump a Marvel AI anyday. Sorry, didn’t mean to trigger anyone by saying trump. Dang. Did it again.

And no, I’m not unhappy with my Fiat 500 already. In fact, here’s a

Gina Update

My Fiat 500 is still the most fun car to drive I’ve ever owned or even test drove. I have no idea where all the bad reviews come from. I haven’t experienced any issues at all and still find it an extremely enjoyable ride. In fact, no one shoukd be allowed to enjoy driving this much.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Well, maybe for a 500 Abarth, that little scorpion badge is pretty cool. Or maybe a 124 Spider. But that’s several years away.

I am thinking of adding a throaty performamce exhaust at some point though. I think Gina would sound good with a growl.

Weigh-In Friday

Yeah. Sorry. I forgot to weigh myself again. Don’t worry. Wednesday I see my doctor for a regularly scheduled annual checkup and I’m sure his scale will tell me I’m still a fat slug. It always does. No matter what my home scale says, I can always count on his scale to add several pounds. That scale hates me.

Update on Zagg

Last week i ranted about Zagg making hard screen protectors for the Samsung Galaxy S8 that are for shit. They only have glue along the two curved sides, which causes several problems.

One is they create an airgap between the screen and protector which inhibits touch sensitivity, forcing the user to press harder.

The second is they just fall off because there isn’t enough adhesive holding the protector to the glass.

My wife’s just fell off. My son’s didn’t fall off when he dropped it but the Invisible Shield itself cracked.

I invoked their warranty, which is a free replacement whenever you damage it. They send you a replacement screen protector and a prepaid envelope in which to send the damaged shield back. I suppose that prevents people from submitting endless claims, getting a free reolacement, and selling them to others.

The other day I received an email from Zagg. “We received your damaged shield. Thank you. And we charged your credit card on file for $10.99 for shipping and handling.”

That isn’t free! I call that being charged. Bastards.

The Alt-Right

Fuck them. Fuck all of them. Fuck the Nazis. Fuck the neo-Nazis. Fuck Nazi sympathizers. Fuck Nazi apologists. Fuck the KKK. Fuck white nationalists. Fuck white supremacists. Fuck fascists. Fuck racists. Fuck misogynists. Fuck bigots. Fuck homophobes. Fuck Islamiphobes. Fuck anti-semites. Fuck TheRump. Fuck Bannon. Fuck all the fascists in the GOP. Fuck anyone who rationalizes hate, prejudice, or who blames “both sides.”

Because there is no middle ground here. Both sides aren’t to blame nor are the radicals on the right and left cut from the same mold. The responsibility lies solely with the alt-right. They don’t plan “peaceful” protests or rallies. They come armed to intimidate and provoke fear. They come to spread their loathsome message of hate in an attempt to win over new converts who get a hard-on for these primitive chest-pounding threat displays. These are nothing more than recruitment rallies and the more media attention they get, the more successful they are. That’s how bullies work.

And the only way to stop a bully is by standing up to them, refusing to back down, refusing to be intimidated. And by answering with force if need be.

If anyone tries to spread the blame to both sides, if they try to make claims that the alt-left is just as guilty as the alt-right, explain to them there is no alt-left.

There is no alternative to denoucing hate, prejudice, and racist beliefs. In the end it comes down to this: you either support hateful, fascist slime or you stand with the rest of the human race. There is no middle ground.

An Alt-Right Haiku

Ignorant beliefs

Hate, prejudice, racism

We stand against you.

And how about some classic Anti-Nazi songs?

anti-Nazi Songs

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Friday is like Yeah!

A Friday Haiku

Friday is like Yeah!

A mix of Boo-yah & Boom!

Ready to explode!

Look to the skies

August is just hopping with big astronomical events.

On August 12th, we can expect the annual visit of the Perseid meteor shower. But this one is different! Astronomers say it will be the brightest shower in recorded history. Some might even be visible in the daytime.

If you miss it, you’ll be crying 96 years because the next one won’t come around for another 96 years.

The second event will be the coast-to-coast solar eclipse. Get your protective glasses now before they sell out.

It will sweep across the United States on August 21st. This is the first time the mainland has seen a total eclipse like this since 1979.

However, most of us will only see a partial eclipse. The lucky ones live along a narrow diagonal track that cuts from Columbia, SC up to Portland, OR.

So enjoy. Unless, of course, you don’t believe in science and think these are omens sent by the gods to warn of mankind’s impending doom. In which case, have fun with that.

Writing is like a drug

My current work in progress (WIP) is finally nearing its completion. For the most part, I’ve been very enthusiastic about writing it. When the ideas are flowing freely and I’m in the zone, writing becomes like a drug. A drug that fills me with happiness and excitement. The whole world seems a better place.

Too bad all those wonderful feels end when the editing starts.

Weigh-In Friday

No change. I didn’t lose weight, but then I didn’t gain either. For the kast few weeks, I’ve reached an unchanging plateau.

I’m beginning to think balony sandwiches aren’t the best lunch when trying to lose weight.

Nah! That’s silly talk.

Sad!

The approval ratings for the orange turd right now range from as low as 33% up to around 41%. If we go by the higher number, that means if you meet 10 people today, there’s a good chance 4 of them are idiots.

Currently Reading

Murder in Manhattan by Steve Allan.

Yes, that Steve Allan of TV comedy fame. I had no idea he had written a series of mysteries starring himself and his wife Jayne Meadows. I’ve always admired him. He seemed like a true Renaissance man.

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A Friday haiku

The week is over
It seemed so long and dreary
Let’s start the weekend!

June Mile-a-day challenge Day 23

I can’t believe I made it this far without waking up at least one morning and going, “Maybe I’ll sleep in and run later.” I’m actually proud of myself for getting this far.

Wednesday I added at 1° incline to the treadmill. The readout says that means I burned an addition 5 calories per run, if you believe in the accuracy of those things.

I did notice my cool down heartrate went up from 114 up to 124 after that first incline run. Today it was down to 119.

Something else I noticed which surprises me. I’m not feeling stiff or have any aches in my joints despite not taking any rest days.

Add in that I also walk an average of 20,000 steps each weekday, so my leg muscles, ankle, knee, and hip joints are always in use.

If you had asked me what would hapoen if I ran a mile a day for a month before I started this, I probably would have predicted some sort of overuse or stress injury. Shinsplints, for example, which had forced me to quit running almost 2t years ago.

But no, I feel pretty good. I’m contemplating keeping this up as a regular daily activity. Maybe I’ll even bump my distance up, gradually, and start July running 1-1/4 miles each day. That means I would have to get up 5 or 10 minutes earlier.

Hmm. We’ll have to think about that.

Music and running

When I first started treadmilling, I’d put on a record. A record. Yes. Some of us still call them that and for a very good reason: I still have a vinyl collection and a quality turntable — a classic, refurbished AR XA.

Anyway, when I was starting out, I could listen to one side of a vinyl record and my run would be over before the record was. Each side of a vinyl record usually has a pkaying time anywhere from 15 to 22 minutes.

Once my runs went longer, I switched to watching something on TV because otherwise you have to jump off the treadmill, lift the needle from the record, flip the record over, then tey to gently place the needle down despite shaking hands from an elevated heartrate. It just wasn’t worth it risking a scratch.

So television. I found coverage of Track and Field events were the best motivator, but unfortunately, they’re few and far between.

Since I’ve now been running just a mile each day, my treadmill time is less than 10 minutes, which means I can go back to enjoying one side of an album.

Yesterday, I put on Boston’s eponymous (I always wanted to use that word) first album and listened to side A. Today, I ran to Side B.

And I discovered something. Running to music makes the time seem to go by faster whereas watching an episode of television seems to make the run drag on and on.

I wonder why that is?

And commercials last forever!

Weigh-In Friday

I’ve managed to drop below the 200 pound wall again. I’m at 199.4 now. And my average fat went down -0.7% while my average muscle went up +0.5%.

Life’s Good = LG

We’ve been with US Cellular for almost two weeks now. So far, despite my problems with all my previous phones, my LG V20 is holding up nicely. By now, my other phones would have been starting to show signs of glitchyness trying all day to find a crappy Verizon Wireless signal here in my Faraday Cage we call a building.

But so far, the LG is working flawlessly. I always have a 4Glte signal (knock wood) and I can place phone calls from nearly anywhere inside the building. Even it’s battery lasts for most of the day. All my other phones needed to be recharged after just a few hours.

I’m not claiming the LG is the best smartphone out there, but on the US Cellular network in downtown Milwaukee, it is greater than any Verizon Wireless phone I’ve ever owned.

So glad I made that switch.

Gina update

I’ve been driving our 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge for about 2 months now. Usually, by this time with any newer car I’ve owned, the newness and novelty would have worn off. I’d become, if not jaded then bored with it.

Not this car. I’m still having a blast driving it around town. I actually look forward to driving to and from work.

I’ve read many a review on this little Fiat and the majority of them are, if not downright negative, at least less than praising. I can’t help but wonder if they’re talking about some other car. Or possibly, years of driving and reviewing dozens of cars has made those automotive journalists jaded or possibly they just don’t appreciate the fun someone can have driving a minicar; they only value cars that have peel-your-face-back acceleration along with a throaty growl.

I feel sorry for them. My Fiat still is bringing a smile to my face.

Welcome to the new dark ages

Anyone else beginning to feel triggered just seeing TheRump’s face or hearing his voice?

Anyone else feel that, “OK, things couldn’t possibly get any worse?” And then it does? How many more rights, how many more safety and environmental regulations can they dismantle?

How much more power can they give to the rich and corporations? How much further can they erode the middle class’s ability to make ends meet?

How many more lies will the American people swallow before they finally rise up and scream, “ENOUGH!”

Resist.! None of this is normal. We don’t have to accept it. The revolution must begin now

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

because this land was made for you and me, not the corporations, not the robber barons, not the elites, and definately not some ignorant, bigoted Orange Turd.

Woody Guthrie – This Land is Your Land

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Freya’s Day

Welcome to another action-packed Friday blog! Let’s get started, shall we?

June Challenge Day 16

I’m still running a mile every day and still doing it in the morning. I know, right? Me, getting up early and running fifteen days in a row? Inconceivable!

I’m not sure what gains I’ve made. I do feel more erect when I walk, so it must be benefiting my core, which is good because I sit at a desk all day at work slouching.

And my legs feel more muscly, less flabby. And as I mentioned before, I feel more sure-footed carrying my elderly, 70-pound dalmatian upstairs at night.

Cardiovasularly, it’s hard to tell if I’m making strides (strides… Running… Ha!). If I push myself to a pace of over 6.7 mph, I tend to start gasping and I’m not sure if that’s helping or hurting my progress. 

I’ve always heard that you should be able to carry on a conversation. Well, that’s only going to happen if I jog at a slow pace, not run, and what’s the fun in that? Besides, I run solo; who am I going to talk to? The television?

Photographic Proof of Bigfoot?

I think I should have taken some semi-naked photos of myself before I started the June Challenge so I could compare and see if I’ve had any visible physical changes. I really regret not taking any “Before” pictures a year and a half ago so I could see how far I’ve come. (I imagine they would resemble a hairless version of the infamous Bigfoot picture.)

Oh. OK. Nevermind. Now that I see him, Bigfoot looks in better shape.

The photos would be helpful because now I look in the mirror and I don’t see much change, but considering I’ve dropped 30 pounds, there must be a change. Photographic evidence woukd have been nice to verify it.

The tape measure, after all, only shows minimal changes in size and that always depresses me. How is it possible that I’m now down to a 34 inch waist in my pants but the tape measure still shows it is 38 inches?!?

Weigh-In Friday

I’m down a pound from last week. I’m at 201.8. I’m still above my lowest weight of 198.6 from back on May 12th.

However, looking back, in the last month I’ve dropped -3.4% in average body fat and gained +2.3% muscle mass. 

So why can’t I lose the weight? Because I love junk food, that’s why. I love salty snacks, especially cheddar and sour cream potato chips. Don’t leave that bag near me or it is gone. Put a few in a bowl and I’ll be fine. Wait. It’s empty already. Just one more bowl.

And last night, I baked the Bigfoot-sized bag of frozen Jeno’s Pizza Rolls for dinner. Sorry, not sorry. Had a craving. Usually I’m good with portion control for dinner, but last night I went a little overboard stuffing those delicious little pizza-filled wonton-like things in my mouth. It was like the old Alka-Seltzer commercial:

https://youtu.be/VFKifpMtlNs

On Becoming an Auto Geek

I’ve never really been a car guy. By that, I mean, a guy who fusses around his cars, spending entire weekends in the garage massaging and oiling and pampering them.

Sure, I like cars. One day, I’d love to get a classic muscle car and attempt to restore it, except we haven’t the garage space for that and to me, a header is the thing at the top of a document.

The closest I came was my 1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z. I did change its oil. And I hand washed it. Applied polish. But to be honest, I never understood the process. 

Did you know that polishes and waxes are two totally different things? I didn’t. I learned washing from my dad, who also wasn’t a car guy. You got a bucket of hot, soapy water (dish soap, why spend money on car wash soap?). Then you’d dry it with old beach towels. Then lather on some Turtle Wax. Voila. Done.

And after the Daytona, I kind of lost interest in band washing, mostly for two reasons, 1) We were living in an apartment without access to an exterior hose, so automatic car washes became a habit, and 2) None of our cars really had a very impressive looking paint job.

And up until recently, my philosophy on car washes had devolved to, “If the rain can’t get it clean, it ain’t getting clean.”

That changed when I got the Fiat. Part of the reason I was attracted to it was the paint job, olive green metal flake that sparkles in the sun.

So I’ve been researching how to detail a car to preserve and protect that shine. I’ve spent hours on sites like Autogeek.net watching videos on car detailing.

Thursday, my order from Autogeek.net came. I can’t wait to take my new random orbital polisher and the detailing products to our Vibe and see if I can’t make her shine again. She’s got a bad case of neglected, oxidized paint. White? I thought she was supposed to be dirty dishwater grey?

Stay tuned.

Making Baseball Great Again

Did anyone watch the Congressional Baseball Game last night? It was very enjoyable, and not because the Democrats destroyed the Republicans 11 to 2. 

No, it was enjoyable because you could sense, despite the athletic competition they were in, that there was a sense of comraderie that probably hasn’t been evident in Congress for a long, long time. 

Sad that it took a shooting to make everyone realize that, despite our political beliefs, we’re all still human beings.

And who knows how long it will last.

The part of the game I found touching was (and I swear there was something in my eye), at the end when the Democrats received the trophy for winning, they called out the manager of the Republican’s team and gave it to him to put in the office of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana to keep until he recovered from his wounds.

That’s the spirit of cooperation and civility we should all be living every.single.day.

Currently Reading:

The Complete Guide to A Show Room Shine by Mike Phillips

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Randomosity

It is Random Friday, where I cover a lot of topics in a short time. Hang on.

Fuelishness

When I first started driving, I got into the habit (some might say weird compulsion) to keep a notebook in the car to keep track of fuel and mileage. Its something my mom did, and still does. Whenever you fill up your car with gas, you note the date, odometer reading, how much gas you put in, and then you can figure out how many miles per gallon you’re getting.

This is useful because it often can indicate if there’s a problem with the engine if the MPG starts dropping radically.

I got away from this a few decades ago, but I just started up again recently. I found a phone app called “Fuel Buddy” and it tracks all the fueling information and even calculates the MPG for me so I don’t have to wear out any brain cells.

Fuel Buddy also allows you to track several vehicles and has options to automatically sense what gas station you are at. You can set service reminders for various components, like the battery, engine oil, spark plugs,  tire rotation, etc.

So far I’ve found on our last fill up that our 2004 Pontiac Vibe got 26.27 mpg, which is pretty good for an older car that does primarily city driving, and the 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge got 33.35 mpg. I might have been driving it a little aggressively since I first got it, so I’m going to see if I can better than on the next fill up.

First Outdoor Run

Yes, you read that correctly. Tuesday, I went out for the first outdoor run of the year. We finally had nice weather, no rain, and it was in the low 80s.

I wore my Hoka One One Clifton 3 and they were so cushiony, it felt like I was running on a wrestling mat instead of a cement sidewalk.

I did fairly well, and ran well over a mile and a half before I had to rest walk for about half a block or so. It seemed like I was always running uphill. How is that possible? I’m pretty sure M.C. Escher did not design my neighborhood.

I’ll have to relearn to pace myself, but it was nice being outside instead of on the treadmill watching TV.

I ran a total of 3.14 (pi!) miles in 36:13. Way off my personal treadmill best of 28 minutes and change for 3.11 miles (5k). My average speed was 5.2 mph, which isn’t bad since I had about 4 walking breaks thrown in there. And my fastest pace was 9.1 mph! Call me The Flash! Or maybe The Flash’s older, out of shape brother, The Slump.

The only drawback to outside running is my shoes got dirty. They don’t pick up dirt and grass and debris when I run on the treadmill. I’ve grown accustomed to having my shoes looking like new, so seeing the sole no longer pristine white sort of depressed me. Oh, well.

Took the Plunge

My phone did, that is. Fell right off my belt and took a half gainer into the toilet bowl at work. I guess the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge really is waterproof because it wasn’t harmed at all.

Luckily, the water was still disinfectant blue from when it had been cleaned the day before, meaning no one had used it yet.

I wiped it off, smeared some hand sanitizer on it, and it was good to go.

Weigh-in Friday

Sorry. I didn’t weigh myself this morning, which is probably just as well. Despite returning to salads for lunch this week, (the last several weeks I was eating PB&J or lunch meat sandwiches), I ate a lot of junk food the rest of the time: pizza (three times, restaurant and frozen, and leftovers), burgers  (twice, both at restaurants), a shake, cheesecurds, and heavily salted snack foods. So I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d climbed back over the 200 pound mark.

First Place!

Thought I’d mention it, since nearly every baseball pundit predicted we’d be in last place,  the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place in their division, leading the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.

Nyah! Nyah!

Star Trek Discovery

By now, most trekkies have seen the first real trailer of Star Trek Discovery and pissed their pants. Amirite?

Or you’re in a state of quiet uncertainty. You dont want to get too excited in case it sucks, but you’re still eager for anything new from the Star Trek franchise.

Or you’re one of those skeptics who are trying to figure out, if this is supposed to be in the Prime timeline 10 years before Kirk, why does all the equipment and special effects look like they’re from the Kelvin timeline?

I’m actually part of a fourth group. The ones who are angry as Hell that CBS isn’t airing Star Trek Discovery on over-the-air network CBS, but instead has chosen to hold the franchise hostage and extort money from loyal fans by forcing them to watch their pay service, CBS All Access.

I don’t know about yoo, but I don’t deal with terrorists. Why should I pay for a service that has only one watchable show on it? I mean, I can’t even name another television program that airs on CBS.

Fuck you, CBS.

If I have to, I’ll wait ten years for the show to make it to Netflix.

How the Elimination of the Fairness Doctrine Fucked Over America

I read something appalling recently. Although that the approval ratings for the Orange Turd are the lowest in the history of approval ratings, there are 96% of those who voted for him, STILL SUPPORTING HIM!

Are you fucking kidding me?

So you have to ask yourself Why? And the only answer possible is they are uninformed on the issues, they only hear one side of the argument, the side they already agree with. There is no critical thinking involved. They are spoon fed their opinions from Fox News, Breitbart, and conservative talk radio.

There was a time in America where the people were better informed. They could make better decisions because they were more knowledgeable about current events and understood both sides of an issue.

If you’re old enough, you probably remember when news programs had Point-Counterpoint discussions where they’d discuss both sides of an argument.

They did that because it was an FCC  requirement.  They had to give equal airtime to opposing views to keep their broadcast license. During elections, if they had one candidate on, then the station was required to give equal time to their opponent.

It was called The Fairness Doctrine and it became law in 1949. And it worked. Most Americans, if they regularly watched the news, had a basic understanding of issues and could make informed decisions. It helped Americans to think for themselves.

But then, in 1985 under Ronald Reagan, that rule was rescinded. Without the requirement to present both sides of an argument, conservative talk radio was born and its angry,  one-sided ignorant rhetoric quickly found an audience among white bigots who felt disenfranchised by a progressive America.

Talk radio hosts were able to inflame these white Americans into believing all their supposed woes were because of illegal immigrants, non-Christians, libtards, feminazis, ecoterrorists, gays who were forcing their lifestyle upon them, and the like.

And their hate and ignorance continued to grow because now they could feed their ignorance by listening to only one side of the news–conservative–and they lost the perspective to see things from the other side. It became easier to name call than have an open mind.

And the Orange Turd found he could capitalize on their hate, their bigotry, and their ignorance, and he road a massive wave of racial, homophobic, sexist prejudice into the White House.

And despite his every lie, every scandal, every illegal activity, his supporters still love him because they are completely uninformed about these activities and have the opinion (handpicked by the Orange Turd himself) that everything negative said about him is “fake news” and all part of a witch hunt to tear him down.

And that is why we need The Fairness Doctrine back: to try to bring some sanity back into politics, to gradually re-teach people how to think for themselves, and to inform them of all sides of the issues.

Resist to stay informed.

/rant over

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A Cautionary Tale

I wrote the first 400 words of this six years ago, but never could figure out what to do with it. Until now. Its a short story of a dysfunctional future. Enjoy.

The rains came, sizzling as it passed through the still burning radioactive atmosphere, creating more steam and more fog to cover the planet.

Ort stood in the mouth of the cave listening to the rains. It reminded him of the sound meat makes it’s cooked over an open fire. He made a gesture and his young son appeared next to him. Ort pointed out into the distance.

“Look, Hokins, how the falling rocks carved a new world last night. That cliff on the edge of Blu Mountain is gone, battered into a ragged pile of rock.”

“Why do the falling rocks come, father?”

“They come from Troompah, the Bringer of Fire, son.”

“Is he mad at us?”

“Mad? No. Troompah is mad at the Prahgs. That’s why he throws rocks at them.”

Ort’s son nodded. He knew that Prahgs were evil creatures that lived in the earth, were one with the earth; they protected the trees, rivers, and animals. Prahgs often attacked his people, the Ahltryts, especially preying upon unwary children. At least those are the tales his mother always told him. “Stay out of the crater fields or the Prahgs will get you.” “Don’t stay out past dark or the Prahgs will get you.”

“Think he’d learn better aim.”

“You watch your mouth, boy, or the Prahgs will get you!”

The boy stood slightly behind his father and mouthed the expression along with his father. He was sick of the Prahgs, sick and tired that they prevented him from having any fun.

“What are my two boys doing?” It was Hokins’ mother, calling from the back of the cave.

“We’re just watching the rains, hon,” Ort answered.

“Well, don’t stray from the mouth of the cave. You know the rain brings out the Prahgs. If you aren’t careful they’ll get you.”

The boy mouthed the words then found himself on the ground, his ear stinging.

“Don’t you ever mock your mother, boy!” Ort was furious and stood shaking in anger above the prone child.

Hokins picked himself up, holding back the tears, and ran to the back of the cave. “I hate the Prahgs. And I hate you, too!”

He passed his mother, who turned to give Ort a stern look. “You didn’t have to hit him, you know.”

“I’m sorry, Jyn,” Ort said.

“Don’t apologize to me.”

Ort stared into the darkness that was the back of the cave. He could hear Hokins sobbing. He should apologize; the boy was just being a boy.

“He’ll get over it,” he said, finally.

“Ort, you know he’s reaching that age where he needs ‘The Talk.’”

“I don’t want to give him ‘The Talk.’” Ort sighed. “It makes me uncomfortable.”

“Ort, if you don’t tell him, he’ll learn it from his friends. Is that what you want?”

“That’s fine. That’s where I learned it.”

Jyn made a wry smile and shook her head. “Exactly my point on why he needs ‘The Talk.’”

“Why don’t you give it to him then?”

“Now, Ort. You know it’s always been like this. Fathers give ‘The Talk’ to their sons; mothers give it to their daughters. Now just go and get it over with.”

“Fine.” Ort looked like he had eaten a glow frog from down by the killing waters.

Slowly he strode to the back of the cave.

“Hokins? Can I talk to you?”

“It’s a free country.”

“That’s what I want to talk to you about.”

“What?”

“Our past, as it’s been handed down father to son for generations beyond knowing.”

“Is it about how we got the sacred words?”

“Yes. It’s about how the sacred words came to be.”

Father and son both glanced at the cave wall where a faded blue sign rested in a carved-out depression to hold it. The sign showed signs of age, and an attempt to destroy it at one time; it’s edges were blackened and ragged.

They both came to attention, arms raised in a palm down salute, and recited, “Troompah Maikee Aimrisa Grehaht Agaheen.”

Then Ort began his story.

“There was a time, ages agone, when there was but one people, united in thought and deed. Those people achieved great things, created a glorious, shining kingdom. And the people were happy.

“But gradually there came the grumblings. Some of the people weren’t happy. They wanted more. They felt not everything was fair for all. And they felt many of the old ways were wrong, even hurtful to many people, and this started the divide. The Prahgs wanted change, wanted new ways of doing things, of thinking about things, while the Ahltryts believed the old ways worked best, that the changes proposed by the Prahgs would destroy the very way of life that had made the kingdom great.

“As the Prahgs grew in strength and number, they began to instill their ideas and the Ahltryts watched as the kingdom changed, becoming unrecognizable to them.

“And soon there grew intolerance. And hatred. And the Kingdom grew divided. The Ahltryts believed the Prahgs were weak when it came to outsiders, allowing these others to enter the kingdom at will.

“Soon, hostilities between the two came to a head. The violence between the two grew and soon the uprising began as many gods of the Ahltryts fought for dominance, for the chance to lead their people back to greatness. But one stood above the others. He embodied all the primal energy of the people. Within him raged all the suppressed hatred and anger his followers had been forced to suppress for so long. His name was…”

“Troompah?” his son interrupted excitedly.

Ort nodded. “Yes. When the dust cleared, our great God Troompah was triumphant, ready to lead the way, but first he had to defeat the champion of the Prahgs.

“While the Ahltryts gods fought, so too did the Prahgs champions. Kings and a Queen fought for dominance, but whereas the Ahltryts stood united and powerful, no longer hiding, joined as one behind Troompah, the Prahgs were very much divided and unhappy with their choice. Many chose not to fight, and because of their inaction, Troompah and his followers were triumphant. For how can a mere queen stand before the angry wrath of a god?

“And the Ahltryts celebrated and now it was their turn to send the Prahgs into hiding.

“But Troompah wasn’t satisfied with just sending his enemies into exile. He wanted to also destroy the outsides. He taught us that the outsiders were to be fears and they wanted to destroy our way of life.  And he launched an attack against them. But our outsiders had power as well, and launched a counterattack. The skies and waters were on fire. And the Kingdom burned.

“And that is why we and the Prahgs live as enemies. They could have joined us, but Troompah taught us their ways are evil, they are sinful while we live in his glory.

“And that is why Troompah still punishes them with his blazing rocks that he hurls from the sky.

“One day, we’ll again live in the glory of the kingdom. Maybe you or your children will see the dawning of that bright new day.”

Ort wiped a tear from his eye. “The Talk” always left parents emotionally drained.

“OK, you two, dinner time.”

The pair rushed from the back of the cave. Mother was carving the great bald fire bird.

“Uh, uh, uh,” Jyn said, wagging a finger. “You know what day it is. Put on the dye.”

Father and son exchanged glances and shrugged.

“Oh, for the love of . . . You just gave him ‘The Talk!’ It’s the Day of the Ascendency when Troompah won the kingdom.”

“Oh.”

Gyn shook her head, but wore a smile. She watched the two dip their fingers into the dye and apply it to their faces in preparation of the feast.

When they finished, all three turned their now orange faces toward the cubbyhole. All three saluted and spoke the sacred words.

“Troompah Maikee Aimrisa Grehaht Agaheen.”

Before sitting down to the feast, they took a moment to silently reflect upon the sign in the cubbyhole.

The fading blue sign with white words, written in a language they could no longer read or understand, stared mutely back:

Trump: Make America Great Again.

-30-

The death of Hostess Suzy Q’s

As an older human, there are many disappointments in life. Many of them are economic. For instance, take Cracker Jacks. Oh, sure, the candy coated popcorn with peanuts still tastes as good as I recall, but the prize inside is just shit now. We used to get real toys. Toys you could play with. Not just crappy stickers or body tattoos.

Or look at other candy bars. They’ve shrunk over the years, fooling us with the cardboard inserts. Coffee used to come in one pound bags, but gradually, as the price has risen, the size of the bags has gotten smaller until now it’s served in 11 or 12 ounce bags.

My latest disappointment? Hostess and it’s supposed return. “The sweetest comeback in history.”

Today, I found they’ve finally rereleased Suzy Q’s, which were my one and only Hostess weakness.

I saw them in the store today and I was very, very happy. And I immediately bought a box and brought them home.

But then I opened the box and took out one of the Suzy Q’s. I could tell right away, this was NOT the Suzy Q that I knew and loved. It was smaller. Nearly half has wide as it used to be. And they used to pack so much cream filling into a Suzy Q, that it would ooze out and smear against the wrapper.

These new ones hardly have any filling at all. Maybe a dab. Certainly not the thick spilling over the sides amount they used to give us. This was not even enough to reach the edges.

And the cake used to be very moist. Biting into a Suzy Q was an experience of epic proportions.

Now? It was like biting into a dried out, tasteless slab of blech.

This was my biggest disappointment in a life filled with disappointments.

Hostess has broken my heart and it can never be repaired.

2016-06-23 15.54.13

The new DISAPPOINTING crap version of the Suzy Q.

Fuck you, Hostess. You’re dead to me.

-30-