A Moving Experience

Moving during a pandemic. What could go wrong?

I was moving from a two-bedroom to three-bedroom apartment . I was

going to have a home office and a man cave. And since I had moved more

than a few times before, I figured I had the logistics well in hand.

I would move the boxes, carefully labeled so when they reached the

new digs, everything would fall into place. The heavy stuff was left to the

moving company, which is, after all, what 18-year-old boys are good for.

I was careful to label the boxes, “Important Stuff,” “Not so Important

Stuff” and “Misc.” My sense of organization astounds even me at times like

these.

The problem started as soon as the last of the boxes arrived at my new

home. I labeled the boxes, all right, right on top. And therein the first

problem arose. I had neatly stacked the boxes one on top of another. You

can see how this quickly became problem.

There were a few things I needed right away. Like TV remotes. I have

lots of TV remotes because I had decided that I could get along without

cable and needed the remotes for all the streaming services I was going to

use. The three TVs remained silent, as I foraged for the remotes and,

although some technical people said I could use the TVs by pushing buttons

on them, I was not going to admit that I couldn’t find the remotes.

That problem paled in comparison to the missing checkbook and bills.

At the old place, I always kept the checkbook in the same night stand next to

the bed. But when I went to look for it at the new place it wasn’t there. As a

matter of fact nothing was there. I seemed to recall dumping all the night

stand stuff into a box. Which was the good news. I couldn’t remember

which one had the checkbook, which was the bad news. I didn’t know

whether to be concerned about the bills because I figured if they didn’t get

paid, the credit card companies were pretty good at keeping track of those

things and would be sending me reminder notices in the not so distant

future.

Then there was the stove. I didn’t move the good old-fashioned electric

stove because the new place had a good old-fashioned gas stove. This

became a technical deal until I figured out that by lighting a match and

holding it near a burner, the burner would ignite.

You will be glad to know that I didn’t blow up my new apartment. And,

after a friend showed me how to turn the burner switch all the way around

and to light the burners, I was well on my way to making breakfast.

By the way, the garbage disposal doesn’t work here in the new place.

But I figure it will sort itself out, once I find the remote for it. It’s probably

next to the checkbook.

Toronto Moves on Buffalo

The big news in these parts are that Major League Baseball is coming to Buffalo, New York, sort of.
The Toronto Blue Jays are being kicked out of their home park because the Canadians think that having people coming into and out of the Rogers Center is a virus problem.
Better, I suppose they’re thinking, that Buffalo have a virus problem rather than the largest city in Canada.
Fans will not be allowed inside the Buffalo Ball Park, now called Sahlen Field, named after a hot dog. Buffalonians, you should know, love their hot dogs charcoal grilled, burned almost to a crisp.
Since Toronto has a population of eight million and Buffalo has upwards of 14 people living there, it is much easier to keep Buffalonians out of the ball park than the hoards from north of the border who would no doubt storm the gates any time the Blue Jays take to the field.

Come to think of it, Buffalo Blue Jays has a nice ring to it.

Nevertheless, Toronto tried to play their home games in Pittsburgh or
Baltimore, cities that rejected the Blue Jays because they already had Orioles and Pirates there.
There is more to this story than meets the eye. The last time Buffalo rolled out the red carpet for visitors was during the War of 1812 when the British burned the city down. There was no baseball that year.
To get even, the U.S. burned down the City of York, which was rebuilt as Toronto. You can see right now that playing baseball is a lot more complicated than what you would expect. This leads us to Baltimore.
After the Battle of Baltimore in that very same war, Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner.” Now, our national anthem certainly puts to shame the Canadian anthem, “O Canada.” Ours is much longer, is far more difficult to sing and has bombs bursting in air and the rockets with red glare. There are no bombs bursting and red glaring in the Canadian anthem, which explains whey they have been jealous of us for most
of history, except the last three years.

So it’s easy to see the invasion of the Toronto baseball team into Buffalo could amount to a surreptitious attempt to take over what they couldn’t grab in 1812.
This time, however, if the Blue Jays of Toronto try some funny stuff regarding burning our ball park to the ground, Buffalonians will be prepared for them. We’ll have our hot dogs at the ready.

S

The Mental Acuity Test

President Trump bragged recently about taking a mental acuity test that

revealed he had a brain. It did not reveal how well that brain was dealing

with reality, however.

I, not so long ago, took what I believe was the same test at my doctor’s

office. It was a surprise test, one I was totally unprepared for. I am not

going to reveal the answers, because I don’t want to be accused of giving

away the answers. Sort of like what happens to you if you get the answers

to the SATs before taking them. You get to go to Harvard.

The pop quiz started with the nurse’s assistant warning me that the test

was coming up. I figured I must have said the wrong thing when I checked

in or put the wrong date on the co-pay check. My palms got sweaty because

in college I hated pop quizzes. I hated them more than the “compare and

contrast” questions on essay exams.

But I was in the office and there was no backing out.

She gave me a blank sheet of paper.  Draw the hands of the clock

But I was in the office and there was no backing out.

She gave me a blank sheet of paper. Draw the hands of the clock when

the time is (blank) o’clock. She did not say blank. She gave me a

me a specific time. I learned to tell time more years ago than I can

remember, so I figured to knock this one out of the park.

You can practice this one on your own and I am not going to tell

what time to draw the hands of the clock because there are a lot

of times to pick from during the day. If you’re young enough and use

a digital clock, you could be in trouble here, I’m warning you, so you

should probably learn how to tell time the old-fashioned way.

Very good she said, as she reviewed my answer. Now, she said, count

backwards from 100 by a certain number, for example

by fives. I can’t, of course, reveal the real number. But, if you remember

the song that we all hated growing up entitled “100 Bottles of Beer on the

Wall” you are well-prepped for this question.

To ease your mind, you will not be asked to count backwards from 100

by Pi to the sixth place. I know Pi has a lot more than six places, which is

why this question isn’t asked.

Nevertheless, the hardest part of the test came next. “I’m going to say

three words,” she began, “and then leave the room. When I come back, I

want you to repeat those words.”

Without warning, she gave me the three words. I was terrified I would

forget them. She left the room. The bottom of my feet got sweaty. I kept

repeating the words in my mind. She was gone for what seemed like days.

In a couple of minutes she came back. I wanted to blurt out the words,

but I figured I had to play the cards that I was dealt.

“What were the words?” she asked. Very calmly, and cooly, I spoke

the words.

“Okay,” she said. “The doctor will be here in a minute.”

“That’s it?” I thought. I spent all that time in a mental frenzy and all I get

is an “Okay.” No genius designation? No “You’re okay, Al” ?

It was a trick, I decided. The doctor was going to ask me the three words

to check on the work his assistant did. I wasn’t going to forget those words.

I kept repeating them.

The doctor came in. “How are you doing, Al? he queried. “I’m fine,” I

parried. He then proceeded with the routine exam.

I left, disappointed that he didn’t ask me about the three words

but secure in the knowledge that I was okay.

Six months after the exam, I remembered what the three words were. I

repeated them a few times a day in case someone popped a surprise

mental acuity test on me.

A year later I had forgotten the words. But I sure as hell knew I was

dealing with reality better than Trump.

An Out-of-This World Zoom Conversation

As a full service blog, it is our mission here to keep you informed of the latest scientific discoveries so you can be ready for whatever the future holds. To that end, we call attention to two recent discoveries that have come to our attention that could have a tremendous impact on the future.

First, scientists have reported a new radiowave burst from outer space called a Fast Radio Burst. It occurs every 157 days, not 156 as first thought, and comes from a dwarf galaxy, not Sun Valley, Idaho, some 3 billion light years away. Sun Valley, of course, is much closer, but the folks there spend too much time lollygagging around drinking vodka martinis and watching Jeopardy to send radio waves forth.

Second, scientists report that there might be 36 intelligent civilizations in our Milky Way Galaxy. It is unclear whether this total includes Earth, but I suspect not because, well, you know about how our intelligence has gotten us to where we are now. The scientists, however, report that due to the time and distance involved in communicating with these 36 civilizations, we may never actually know if they exist or ever existed.

I, myself, have been in contact with these civilizations and I can tell you that the reason they have not come forth to reveal themselves is that they have been practicing social distancing.

While some might consider 3 billion light years a bit much, I am sure that once we reach stage 4 in the reopening scenarios, these civilizations will come much closer even, perhaps, joining us at the outdoor patios for an adult beverage or two. They will be wearing masks for sure but, because they are so funny looking, it may take a day or two for our mask manufacturers to come up with the right design.

Communicating with our alien friends has been made much easier, I can attest, because they have Zoom.

Zoom was invented by multi-headed aliens so they could all get in the conversation at the same time. A problem arose, however, when some of them developed multi-personality disorders. You can see how there could never be a screen big enough to handle multi-headed aliens with multiple personality disorders.

Fortunately this problem was solved when they invented a mute button for the video. And this led, of course, for a mute button on the audio. Things could have worked out much quicker if they yelled at each other, but they didn’t figure that out until recently.

The aliens, by the way, think we’re pretty funny looking, at least me, so it is a good thing that I wear a mask all the time. I have heard them talking amongst themselves when discussing us and they are making plans to drop in on us soon.

Unfortunately, they are aiming for Sun Valley. I have already sent them directions on how to make a vodka martini. But they still need help with Final Jeopardy.

My Lucky Day


Today was going to be my lucky day. I was going for a walk in the

woods and I feel lucky each time I go out to enjoy the blessings of nature.

But things quickly got out of hand from there.

As I was walking along the path, I looked down and there on the

ground was a crisp $100 bill. I like nature as much as the next person

but finding a $100 bill increased my enjoyment of the wonders of the earth

immeasurably.

I picked it up, having done my morning stretches so I could bend over

to grab it, gave it a quick look and stuffed it into my back pocket. You

probably want to know why I didn’t put it into my wallet. The wallet, it

turns out, went missing some place in my apartment.

So, walking along, I tried to figure out the answer to my great

dilemma. Do I try to return it to its owner?

I thought about putting an ad in the lost and found section of

our local weekly newspaper: “Found: $100 bill on path in local state park.

Yours if you can describe it.”

This was not going to work, as I quickly surmised, because most

people know what a $100 bill looks like. Some people call them “Benjamin”

so that tips you off as to whose picture is on it, in case you haven’t ever seen

one. And Benjamin, by the way, does not refer to your brother-in-law who

has yet to return your socket set he borrowed six months ago.

I thought about standing at the entrance of the path yelling “Who

lost some money on the path?” but not too many people were walking that

morning so that wasn’t going to work either.

Out of options, I did what all of your probably would do. I

started thinking about how I was going to spend my windfall. A hot fudge

sundae came to mind, as did an apple pie. I would probably have a little

something left over, so I contemplated my luck that day right up until the

time I got home.

I pulled the bill out of my pocket and gave it a closer look. It had

a strange orange tint on it. I looked at it even closer and read the fine print.

“For Motion Picture Use Only,” it said. And then it said “This Note is Not

Legal Tender for All Debts, Public and Private.”

My lucky day came crashing down. I was shattered. No hot fudge

sundae. No apple pie. I did have a nice walk in the woods, but the day

wasn’t going to be the same, particularly because when I was going to

regale my friends about my find, they would probably characterize

me as a doofus for not recognizing my Benjamin was a phony.

As I sulked around the apartment, I began my search for

the missing wallet. I went to the very last place I remember seeing it

which was next to my computer. I checked the floor. I checked the

little night stand next to the computer and found a box of staples I had lost

long ago. While the staples have their use, they would do me no good at an

ATM. Alas, I could not find the wallet in my office.

I went to the bedroom and checked the night stand drawer where

Iusually put my wallet after using it. I am very careful to do this so I don’t

lose it and drive myself crazy looking for it.

No wallet. I felt myself inching closer to crazy. Alas, in desperation,

I went looking for the sweat pants I was wearing when last I had it. They

were on top of the washer drying out. I plunged

my hand into a pocket and with a great sense of relief pulled out the

wallet. It was slightly damp, but none the worse for wear, which is

why, the next time someone talks to me about laundering

money, I’ll have a story to top theirs.

Re-opening a Home Office

Having a home office in a spare bedroom has posed many

challenges since the pandemic has started.

Fortunately, being in the right phase of reopening will mean


I will have to take matters into my own hands to make sure I am not

surprised by the Reopening Police when the government allows me to

reopen.

To make sure I’m doing this right I have written a Plan for

Reopening my Home Office, taking into consideration the Government’s

Guidance Rules.


Here is the Protocol

1. Employees (meaning me) who can work from home are


encouraged to do so. Since my bedroom office is very much attached to the

rest of the apartment, I should be able to do this. There are times, however,

when I have headed to the kitchen for a snack and I will wear a mask when

going to the fridge.

2. All employees reporting to work will have a non-contact

temperature check upon entering the office. I haven’t been anyplace in

eight weeks, but I have a non-contact temperature device. I tried it once and

I was normal. Some of my colleagues, I’m sure, would doubt that, but they

aren’t referring to my temperature.

3. Any employee who is sick or not feeling well is required to

stay home. As long as there is food in the kitchen, I am okay with this.


4. A second temperature check will be conducted in the

afternoon.

 

I haven’t done anything in the afternoon for eight weeks, so I should

be able to squeeze this in, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my nap.

5. Any employee who is sick or not feeling well is required to

stay home. A piece of cake.

6. Common work areas such as the staff kitchen, coffee station

and lounge area will be restricted in use. Here, I have a problem.

I don’t know how I’m going to restrict use of my kitchen. It is one of

my favorite places. And if all my clothes didn’t suddenly get tighter, I

would show you a picture that proved that I have never ignored my

kitchen.

Furthermore, government rules state the use of the microwave

  

coffee machines, etc., are restricted. Here’s the kicker: Use of these

appliances is restricted to two times a work period. If I read this correctly, I

can only use my coffee machine twice a day.

The solution to this is obvious: I will re-define my work period to


two hours at a time, which should keep me sufficiently infused with

caffeine. I once tried to talk to someone who hadn’t had a cup of coffee.

He talked so slow that he couldn’t finish the conversation within the

allotted time.

7. All conversations must be held while participants are six

feet apart. This will be a challenge.

Since my conversations are held via the internet, I measured out

where I have to be to be in compliance with this. Six feet from my computer

will put me either out in a parking lot or standing up on a dresser, three

feet off the ground. Now, the parking lot isn’t so bad because someone has

just placed a basketball hoop in it, giving me a chance to practice

free throws instead of rolling my eyes at each inane thought my colleagues

have.

On the other hand, standing on a dresser would pose a problem

because my sense of balance is not what it was. On the dresser, I

would have to place my feet between an array of photo equipment and

a stack of CDs. One false step and I’m on the floor buried under a

stack of my favorite music. While that would make for a great picture,

I’m not sure my health insurance would believe how I got a broken

ankle.

8. Use of the on premises restroom will require the user to thoroughly

sanitize the restroom before and after each use. This includes sanitizing

all handles, countertops, doors and anything else contacted. This is not

something I would jump on.

Constipation never looked so good.

The Jelly Jar Dilemma

      A great dilemma has arisen that has only recently come to the fore
during these unsettled times.  That is, can you have two opened jelly jars at the same
time?
      This is no laughing matter, particularly when you have been
brought up by a mother who drilled it into your head that you could only open a second
jar after the first was absolutely clear and there was not a single jelly dollop to be had.
     This question happened the other day when with about a
half-inch of jelly emaining, I opened a kitchen cabinet door and staring at me was an
untouched jar of  Pure Peach Marmalade or “Marmelade de Peches Pure,” for those of
you who speak French.

I acquired this marmalade on a trip to Canada and had forgotten about it,
but when I moved the coffee, there it was.  It reminded me of my carefree days in
France when I would wile away the hours  while sipping coffee and eating
croissants on the West Bank. In the interest of full disclosure, I think I may
have wiled a few minutes away in Paris but that was about it.
          Freud would probably say something about this but my mother would

check the refrigerator frequently and the cabinets more so to make sure there
was only one jelly jar open at a time. That’s how I remember it.
      The lectures I got about opening a second jar paled in comparison
to the lectures I got about what would happen to me if I impregnated a girl, but there
was as much chance of that happening as there was a hippopotamus crashing through
the front door of our second floor Chicago apartment.  Looking back, I think there
was a hippopotamus at the Lincoln Park zoo, but I’m sure there was no
chance he would hop on a Chicago Transit Authority train and find his way
to Drake Avenue.
           I was not, however, disinterested in the girls I went to high school with. They
would wear these fluffy angora sweaters that I though were the cat’s meow but, alas,
ogling was as far as I got and I was reasonably confident that ogling wasn’t going to bring
me to a pre-mature fatherhood situation.

So, with all of this going through my mind, it wasn’t long before another situation
had arisen calling for further reflection.
      When it comes to drinking water, I try to sip during the day, filling a glass and

letting it sit on our dining room table, as I sip, until it is empty and then I refill it.
What could possibly become an issue? 
Well, there are some people who believe (and I am not going to mention her name) that
after you take a sip, you must immediately put the glass in the dishwasher. Therefore,
you go are forced to go through a thousand glasses a day, risking elbow injury as you sip,
throw the unsipped water down the drain and put it in the dishwasher, even though it’s
perfectly good for further sipping.
    You can see how this is a waste of natural resources, what with the unused water
going to waste, the extra loads of dishwashing that have to be done, along with the
cost of thousands  of dollars worth of dishwashing detergent that must be
used.   And here, dear reader, I have to ask, “Who is right?”
     Which, quite naturally, leads us back to the jelly jar situation. I have managed
to overcome that challenge by forgetting Freud and opening up the second jar while
the first jar still has some jam in it.
        After all, marmalade is very different from jelly, and I wasn’t going to frustrate
myself during this stay-at-home situation by just ogling. I’ve had enough of that to
last a lifetime.

Boy-Girl Parties and the NFL

     The National Football League is thinking about taking an idea that
originated in my childhood and using it to improve games.  The explanation
is complicated.
      The internet and quarantine have given all of us ample opportunity
to re-connect with various people.  Some of these people are Bonnie, Jinger
and Sharon.
      The last time I saw Bonnie, Jinger and Sharon could have been at our
30 year high school reunion, which was about 35 years ago.  So you’ll understand
if my memory is a bit shaky.
      So a few days ago an issue from our childhood came up after we figured
out how to re-connect, no easy task for the male in our group.
      Someone wanted to know if we remembered “boy-girl” parties
that were held in the basement of someone’s home.
 
     I don’t remember exactly the party the girls (now grandparents)
were talking about, but I remember what the parties were like, more or less.  We were
driven there by our fathers, dropped off and told to be ready to leave in a couple of
hours.
     Sometimes the fathers drove both a boy and girl to the party in the same car, but
we sat on opposite sides of the back seat. (This, by the way, is where
safe-distancing originated.)
      Once we got to the party, the girls would stay on one side of the
basement talking, presumably about the boys and how cute they were.
The boys, on the other side of the basement, would congregate and talk
about baseball cards.
      Our conversations were way more interesting because a debate over
whether Willie Mays was a better player than Mickey Mantle could erupt at
any time, far surpassing the level of discussion on the other side of the basement
about whether Stuie was cuter than me.
 The drama, what little there was, came when the discussions ebbed,
the slow music started  and a boy slowly, tentatively approached a girl and asked
if she wanted to dance.
      I pause here to relate an incident that has remained indelibly etched in
my mind.  There was another time when we were standing around when Marv
approached a girl and asked, “Would you like to dance?”  She gave him the
once over and replied, “With who?”  
      You can see why you would never forget something like that, which
also led to a hesitancy to interact with women that lasted well into my 40s.
      Back to the slow dancing music.  Eventually the boys and girls put
aside their childlike discussions, paired off and, if you were lucky, you could
rub against your partner.  That’s from a boy’s perspective.  I don’t know what
the girls were thinking, but none of them, if I correctly recall, ran screaming
from the basement yelling about over-rubbing.
      Which brings us to the National Football League.  The NFL is thinking

of using a “sky judge,” someone who sits high above the action and could

overturn any obvious erroneous calls downstairs.
      We had a “sky judge” in those days.  The judge was called “mother.”
She would come down the stairs from far above and say something
like, “You kids having a good time?”  It turns out she wasn’t interested
in us having a good time. That was the last thing she wanted.  If you
were having too good a time in the rubbing situation, she would call
 your name and ask if you wanted some crackers.  Mothers knew
 how to kill a good mood, much like an NFL referee killing a good
play because of a penalty.
      As the evenings grew later, mothers on the cracker patrol would
return with greater frequency.  When the crackers ran out, it was time
to leave, as the fathers would be at the front door to put an end to the
boy-girl parties.
      I don’t know who’s going to be the first NFL “sky judge.”
But it wouldn’t surprise me if they came with a bowl full of crackers. 
     
     
 

The Llama Cure

There may be some good news on the way in the fight against the virus.

Scientists are studying if blood from a four-year-old llama named

Winter could produce a special disease-fighting antibody that could put the

kibosh on Covid-19.

This is actual news.

Winter lives in Belgium with 130 other llamas and alpacas. Winter

also lives near Buffalo, New York, but Buffalo’s winter produces only snow

and gray skies, not quite as useful as we’d like.

Nevertheless, early tests show that the antibodies that

Belgium’s Winter produces may block the virus from entering and

infecting cells.

As a public service I have done a bit of research on the lives of llamas and

what might be transferred to humans if they got a touch of llama DNA in the

inoculation process.

Because we would have to use domesticated llamas, not the kind that run

wild, you should be aware of some llama behavior that could cause problems in

humans. If the llamas are over-socialized by humans when they are young,

they treat humans as they would treat other llamas – by bouts of spitting, kicking

and neck wrestling.

Now, I’m not one for kicking and spitting, but I used to do a bit of

neck wrestling myself when I was 16 and I came to enjoy it, to tell the truth.

She moved on from that, however, leaving me alone in the front seat

of my father’s 1952 Plymouth station wagon. The Plymouth was not quite as enjoyable

after that.

But that is not the only thing we humans might pick up from llamas.

It turns out that when llamas mate, the male may participate for 20 to 45

minutes. I consider this the very, very upside of a llama vaccine, so sign

me up.  And, I suppose, there are women out there who would also

consider this a plus. I’m not asking for anyone out there to name names,

this being a family blog.

You are all aware, I’m sure, that the capital of Belgium is

Brussels. And, if Winter turns out to be as valuable as we’re all

hoping,  we might well be on our way, despite our aversion, to the

next great vaccine using another of Belgium’s great resources.

Brussels sprouts.

UFOs and North Korea

      Two news items recently came to my attention, and while
you think they were unrelated,  just wait until you hear what I’ve discovered.
      First, the head of North Korea,  Kim Jong Un, the overweight guy with
the bad haircut, hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks.
       Second, the U.S. Navy has just released film of Unidentified Flying Objects,
taken by genuine Naval aviators. The film shows dark spots on the navy planes’
radar, which certainly look like UFOs.  Or maybe dust spots on their cameras.
           In any case, it is apparent to any critical thinking person, that Kim Jong
Un was aboard one of the UFOs and is now floating around the sky keeping
track of what’s happening here on earth. This makes perfect sense.
            The virus has kept everyone on lockdown and so if you were cooped up in
North Korea and getting antsy,  you’d want to get out, too.  Actually, most
everyone wants to get out of North Korea, even when there is no lockdown
because there is nothing to do there.
            There has been much speculation regarding what has happened to
Kim.  He could be alive, comatose or dead.  Frankly, I’d opt for the first,
if I had a choice.
           We know Kim wants North Korea to be like the United States for a variety of
reasons.  First, we have video games.  In North Korea, the children have to
study 36 hours a day and are not allowed to join youth soccer leagues.
             Second, North Korea does not have a good delivery service.   Did you
ever try to order anything from North Korea? Did you ever try to sell anything to
North Korea? The only thing North Korea wants to buy from the United States
is ballistic missiles and they can’t get those because Amazon doesn’t have cartons

big enough to package them in.

How Kim got to be on a UFO is open to speculation and conjecture,

two things I am particularly good at.

             First, he could have been abducted by aliens who want to know what they
were up against if they decided to invade. Why they would pick Kim to study is
unclear, but I suspect they made a wrong turn at Paris and wound up in North
Korea.
              Second, and more likely, is that Kim, himself is an alien, who was placed
in North Korea some time ago to study humankind.  Since we have not heard
an SOS from any of the spaceships, it seems clear Kim is at home with his fellow
aliens, enjoying the perks of first-class travel, the free slippers and bottled water
that come with the special guest status he would have.
            What is he looking for, you might ask, as he circles the globe? That’s
easy.  Just like many of us, and just as needy, he’s looking for a barber.
                                                                 *   *   *
Editor’s Note:  Within the past 72 hours Kim has been spotted in North Korea.
He was walking into a beauty salon.