Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Stop that potus before he wrecks the world! (Happy Holidays from ApacheDug’s Teepee)

spectre4Y’know, I began reading comics in the late 1960’s; not yet my own, but my brother Duke’s friend Jeff Tewell & his books (his mom worked at GC Murphy’s and he got free comic books: unsold ones, minus a 1” strip off the top of the front cover).  He had quite the collection.

I can still remember the first time I saw this cover of Spectre at his house and how it made my heart beat real fast, just like my ticker does now every time I turn on the tv, it seems.

Watching an unhinged Donald Trumb these past two years (let alone these last 2 weeks), his need for attention, the chaos he creates daily with his ignorance and corruption of power—it reminds me of this Spectre story, a comic I haven’t seen or read in close to half a century.  

You can’t help but wonder if things in the White House are going to come to an end before we do;  Wall Street certainly hasn’t been optimistic, my retirement portfolio has taken a giant beating these past couple months and my slated annual withdrawal isn’t happening in January, that’s for sure.  But I know I’m still more fortunate (luckier, more like it) than most out there who aren’t middle-aged white men like me. 

Back in early November, I took a lot of comfort in the fact that the Democratic Party would be taking control of the House in 2019, now I’m not so sure.  Trump holding government workers paychecks hostage to get his STUPID BORDER FENCE PAID FOR WITH AMERICAN WORKERS HARD-EARNED DOLLARS may become his modus operandi if the Dems give in.  Today it’s the National Park Service, EPA & NASA; who knows who he’ll go after next?  Nancy Pelosi, hang tough! 

Dad Christmas 1982Christmas 1982, Dad watching the news and looking like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  I don’t know what he was thinking, but I know how he feels

I’ve often wondered these last couple years what Dad would think of the news today.  Sometimes I’m almost relieved he’s not here to see it. 

And sometimes, I have to admit I wonder what side of Trumb’s lame “steel flats” fence he’d be on.  My youngest sister (a Trump supporter for crying out loud) almost had me convinced he’d support the office of the President regardless who was in it.  No… I can’t see it.  My dad was no liberal, he had his prejudices, but he was Democrat thru n’ thru and always insisted Republicans “had it in for us”.  I don’t think that’s ever been more apparent than today.

(BTW, I showed this photo to my friend Danielle and said “My dad was 45 here, he looks older to me than he should” and she replied “Everybody looked older back then.”)  

Well, I don’t really have anything to say here (I’m sure it’s obvious), I just wanted to put something out here and wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy—no HAPPIER New Year.  I for one could do with less kidney stones & Republicans in the year ahead!

And if things get bad enough, I have this shiny “Star Trek Pizza Cutter” my sister Shawn got me for Christmas.  I went on Amazon to read some of its reviews, one wrote “Be real careful with this thing, it’s sharper than a straight razor!”   Hmm… one good swipe under the chin should do it. 

Happy Holidays

Star Trek Pizza Cutter

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A fond farewell to my outside reading room

readingA couple days ago, my sister Shawn emailed me & told me of a friend’s sister’s plight; the young woman’s jalopy had broken down on the interstate, was beyond repair and she was in desperate need of a new (used) car. 

Was I still interested in selling mine?  

Shawn asserted she was NOT trying to sway me one way or the other, she was only asking as I’d mentioned recently that I was thinking about selling my car.  Still, I replied “no, sorry” and she said okay.

Then I put on my Spock ears & decided to think about this logically.

I’ve owned this car for 16 years, ordered it direct from the Honda factory in the fall of 2002.  Even though I was 39 at the time, it was my first car; I’d been living in the city since the 80’s and got around pretty well without one.  But after my dad died in 2001, I told my mom I was going to get my license & a car so I could visit her regularly, without having to rely on others to bring me down from the city & back.   And that’s just what I did.

Y’know, I’ll never forget what my driving instructor said to me the day of my first lesson:  “It’s been my experience that older women who learn to drive make the best drivers but older men, just the opposite.  They never get comfortable with it.”   I asserted I’d be fine (and I wasn’t THAT old) and then began pumping the parking brake.  When she asked what I was doing, I said “priming the engine, isn’t this what you have to do before you take it out of park?”

ANYWAY—I hate to admit it, but that instructor was right; I was nervous everytime I got behind the wheel.   For the first year or so, I forced myself to drive it for simple errands, but I was just too used to walking to these places.  So the car was soon used exclusively for trips back home.  And then these last couple years… even that became increasingly frustrating.  (My vision isn’t what it used to be.)

So I’ve pretty much left it alone in it’s parking space, aside from going downstairs twice a week to run the engine for 30 minutes to remind the poor thing it wasn’t dead.  I always took a book along with me while it idled, and it became my outside reading room.   (Geez I’ve read a lot of good books in that car… I can’t believe I’m sharing this!)

So I emailed my sister again and said yes, I’ll sell it.   She said “Don’t do it unless you know it will make you happy!  And if you change your mind at the last minute, I’ll just tell her the deal’s off.  It will break the girl’s heart, but… it’s your car!”  I said that selling it wasn’t going to make me happy, I have great affection for my green bean.  But I’ve probably driven it 3 times this year, and it deserves a real driver.  

(Plus I’m paying $40-50 a month for parking & insurance!)

I talked briefly with the young woman who’s purchasing it (at a pretty fair price too, in the range of it’s Kelly Blue Book value) and she couldn’t have been nicer or more appreciative.  She assured me it’d be going places—in Atlanta, Georgia where she now lives.  Gulp… I guess I can forget about visitation rights.

Ah my little Civic Coupe.. I think you’re going to love your new owner.  Now I just have to find a new place to read.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

He isn’t Goldfinger, but the man can still work that laser

here comes the laser  

This past Monday (November 26) my urologist’s office called & said “Hi Doug, how would you like to have laser surgery tomorrow on your kidney stones?  Dr. Turner is aware of the issues you’ve been having with your urerteral stent, and he has an opening tomorrow to do your laser lithotripsy and stent removal.  If you’re not available, we’ll have to wait until December 21.”

“Oh & one more thing, you’ll have to come to St.Margaret Hospital in Apinwall, and you’ll need to be accompanied or go home with someone who can stay with you for 24 hours.”

Yay!  And damn.  As grateful as I was for the stent (which was helping me pee and alleviating the kidney stone torment), it had been a constant, painful feeling in my groin (and in my lower back when I peed) since Thanksgiving.  Still, I’d handled things on my own so far, and didn’t want to pull anyone into my medical drama… but what could I do.  I told my doctor’s office, yes, YES.  I’ll be there.

My friend Danielle arranged for my one-way trip there via Uber (I really need to start thinking more about getting a smartphone) and my sister Shawn generously offered to drive to Pittsburgh on a black icy night to take me home.  (She did that & more, thanks Shawn.)  And it couldn’t have been in a nicer community hospital, as they went out of their way to be friendly, informative & make me comfortable until Dr. Turner (the surgeon) arrived.

Even Dr. Turner seemed different than our first encounter (the stent placement at Mercy).  He sat on the bottom of my bed for a few minutes, told me about his wife & 2 kids, and how much he enjoyed living in Pittsburgh.  He asked if I had any questions:

Me:  Why does the anesthesiologist need to insert a breathing tube down my throat?  At Mercy I just got a gas mask…

Him: The stent placement was only a 30 minute procedure; the uteteroscopy lithotripsy will probably take a couple hours.  We need to keep you under for a much longer timeframe.

Me:  Speaking of that lithotripsy, why am I getting lasered?  My sister had kidney stones a couple years ago, and got shockwaves.  I know that’s no walk in the park either, but it’s not as invasive, right?

Him:  Well Doug, the stones can only be up to a certain size for shockwave treatment, and yours are too large.  I’m also concerned about your stones densities.  Using the laser is a more practical solution, where I can break them into small enough pieces to collect into a tiny basket.   This will allow me to study their mineral content as well.

After he left to prepare for surgery, a tiny, spry woman named Ima came into my room and explained my life would be in her hands for the next two hours.  She would be my anesthesiologist.  She asked me to show her how far I could bend my head back and how wide I could open my mouth, and it seemed no matter how wide I opened, she whispered “just a little more, a little more”  and I began to worry.  I explained to her I had TMJ (or TMD, a jaw disorder) and if I opened too wide I could rupture those discs in my jawbone’s joints again.  (FYI, they can take a year to heal.)   She promised to keep that in mind.

The operation was a success.  Dr. Turner later called and told me he hadn’t found three stones in my left kidney, he’d found six.  He managed to break them all down & collect most of the pieces.  Now for the bad news:  to guarantee I passed any pieces he’d failed to collect, he had to put in a new stent.

He also informed me (what I already knew) “Your right kidney may not be giving you issue right now, but it contains stones too and we’ll have to address that sooner or later.  But for now at least, your left kidney is clear.”    Thank you Dr.Turner.  

I’ll be going back to Mercy on Monday morning to have the second stent removed, and to hear what the good doc has to say about my other kidney’s future.  Sadly, my damn TMJ has returned.  I think the combination of things from the last 5-6 weeks was too much for my finicky jaw to bear. 

God, if you’re listening… let the TMJ stuff pass quickly this time, okay?  

(And if You’re really listening, my brother-in-law Jim is getting his hand operated on this week, and unlike myself, is as Christian as they come—and one of the good ones.)

Thanks & amen.

medicine wheel

Friday, November 23, 2018

Lord, have mercy! Well, for another couple weeks at least...


It sure is funny how some things can sneak up on you.  This past Sunday (Nov 18) I got up at my usual time, made my usual cup of coffee, whipped up a chili sauce marinade for a couple of pork chops I’d be having for dinner that evening, and watched the previous night’s Saturday Night Live.

A couple hours later I thought I’d share an old Thanksgiving photo on my blog with the backstory behind all the smiles.   (Well, I thought it was funny…)

And an hour or so after that, my left flank & back erupted into a burning, suffocating pain. Not again!  I’d just suffered this godawful kidney stone pain a couple weeks earlier, November 5-6.  So I paced back & forth in my apartment for 3 hours, determined not to call 911 again like the last time.  But it just became too much to bear, and the next thing I know, I’m in an ambulance headed to Mercy Hospital. 

Several injections of good stuff like morphine & Dilaudid later, they explained I had a 5mm kidney stone blocking my bladder from my left kidney, and both organs had reached their swelling points.   They drained my bladder with a catheter (ulp) and kept me overnight to see how things looked in the morning.

Monday was a drugged up, dopey daze where a nurse encouraged me to eat a runny egg and ice chips.  But the day was relatively pain free (aside from that catheter between my legs).  They decided to keep me another day.  Why not.

Tuesday morning a urologist greeted me—she looked like a 20 year old contestant for a beauty pageant.  I told her she looked suspiciously pretty for a urologist, she laughed and said “Thanks Doug!  Maybe it will make things easier for you when I’m examining your prostate on a future visit.”   She then went on to explain that my kidney stone only had a 50/50 chance of moving on its own, and it was up to me if I wanted a ureteral stent put in.  “But I should warn you Doug, you’ll be trading one pain for another.”

Feeling a bit more like my old self, I said I was the eternal optimist and was sure I’d pass the stone; she said to come back if the pain returned.  The pain DID return, 2 hours after I got home, and so did I—back to Mercy Hospital.  This time they decided enough was enough, and after another CT scan, informed me that stone wasn’t going ANYWHERE (and there were now 2 other stones directly behind it, to boot—and one was 11mm.)  They’d be performing surgery in the morning, to implant a ureteral stent.  

After a couple weeks, it’d be removed—along with some laser-blasting of all three stones. Ya gotta love technology.   Anyway—another night in the hospital.

I awoke Wednesday morning around 3:30 with a start—the pain was back, in full force.  I begged for more of that good hydromorphone, but was told they couldn’t give me anymore.  When I asked if they were concerned I was becoming a morphine addict, they said  “Douglas your body is already saturated with narcotics.  You’re one good injection away from a fatal overdose.”   Oh.

They packed my lower half in ice while I awaited my 9:00am surgery.  (That ice was actually pretty helpful.)   And right on time, a team of medical personnel show up to wheel me to pre-OP.  After arriving, I’m asked my birthdate, religious preferences, if I had a desire to harm myself or others, any hidden objects in my body and if there’s any illegal substances I abuse.  11 times.  By 11 different people.  The last one is an anethesiologist, who says “Doug, we’re going to have a fine time in the operatng room!  We’ll talk & talk, but you’ll have no memory of it or anything else that happens in there.  Now breathe into this oxygen mask while we wheel you down the hall…”

Zany, colorful dreams.  I awaken with a wet face, my groin on fire and a heavyset woman sitting at a desk beside my bed.  Bathroom… I whisper.  She says “I told you Doug, we have no restroom facilities in post-OP!  Now here’s that ginger ale and pack of snack cookies you asked for…”   Er… I didn’t ask for anything, I just woke up?  The last thing I remember is that black rubber mask going over my face.  “BATHROOM”  I grunt louder, and feebly rattle the rails on my bed.  My God I’m about to explode!   The woman says “Fine, we’ll take you to the public one in the hall, is that what you want??  Stacey, help me carry Doug into the hall please!”  

As these two women prop me up and walk me to the restroom, I look down.  I have some sort of papery mid-riff on, and naked from the belly down.   Standing in front of a toilet, I pee what feels like an army of tin soldiers, and when I look down into the water—lots of odd, red junk.  I’m about to black out.

When I awaken again, I’m in a real hospital room, dressed in a hospital gown & robe, in bed with a grilled cheese sandwich and bowl of tomato soup on the bedside table beside me.  I haven’t eaten in 2 days, and I wolf it down like—well, like a man who hasn’t eaten in 2 days.

And that’s where I spent Thanksgiving Eve & Thanksgiving Day, in that hospital bed eating fairly bland (but still good) food, staring out the window and walking my IV thingie with me to the bathroom every 10 minutes.  (This stent inside me gives me the constant, painful urge to pee in the worst way, and if I ignore the sensation for more than a couple seconds it starts peeing on it's own.)  The nurse on my floor supplied me with a pack of maternity pads after I got my discharge papers, and let’s just say that they’ve been very helpful today. 

I sure am hoping it eases up in the days ahead, because right now I don’t dare leave my apartment!  Well, I’d better get going… again.

To be continued


 it never ends

Sunday, November 18, 2018

November 23, 1978: Happy Thanksgiving from the Morris Family

1978 November

Here’s a pic of myself & my siblings, Thanksgiving 1978.  From left to right is Donda, aged 9.  That’s me in the green flannel shirt, 17.  Steve, aged 12.  Courtney, 3.  Shawn, 15.  And finally, our oldest brother Duke (aka Donovan to the outside world), home from his sophomore year at the University of Pittsburgh, aged 19.

Aren’t we a happy looking bunch?  Here’s the truth behind this picture.  We were all getting ready to sit down & dig in, when Mom said “Wait—I want a picture of all you kids.  Duke, Doug, Steve—go stand behind your sisters.”  

Us boys got up, stood behind the girls.  Mom pointed her camera at us and said “Okay… say TURKEY you turkeys!”   (She was very fond of calling everyone turkeys back then.)  We all murmur “turkey…” and continue to sit or stand there.  Mom says “Jesus Christ, you look like I just told you the dog died!” 

My brother Duke said “What do you want us to do?”  and Mom said “Look like you’re happy the dog died!”

My dad said “Mother!”  and we busted out laughing.  Mom got a pretty decent photo.  And on that happy note…

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I’m about to blow my guts out: goodbye cruel world

lots of laxatives

In my quest to figure out what’s wrong with me (from the belly down, my head’s another story)  I had my first visit at the gastroenterologist’s office in Oakland, at UPMC Presbyterian on Veterans Day. 

I’ve never been at this facility before, it was more like a mall than a hospital.  HUGE.  Hundreds of people milling about, a food court, shopping.. shopping?   After I found my way to the 644th floor and the doctor’s office, a nurse asked some questions, took blood and escorted me back to one of their patient rooms.  A few minutes later, a very petite Asian woman in a white lab coat and stethoscope entered and promptly sat down at a computer monitor. 

And without looking up from her screen…

DOC:  Misto Morris, good morning.  I am Doctor G.  Excuse my tardiness, unexpected paitent alway show up Monday mornings.

ME:  Good morning Doctor.  Er… tardy?  My appointment’s at 10, it’s 10:02.

DOC:  So what is this problem we have Misto Morris.  Beside you being overweight.

ME:  Well, on October 25 I got a sharp pain in my gut, more like a stabbing pain that lasted 90 minutes, right here.  Doc, are you looking?  Right here.  Then my abdomen swelled--

DOC:  Whoa!  According to your PCP chart from August 2016 and your visit to Passavant Hospital 2 week ago, you put on a lot of weight!   Are you aware of this numbers?

ME:  Yes.  I developed a jaw disorder in 2016 and had to give up exercise & ate a lot of soft foods like mashed potatoes and eggs.  Ok, ice cream & pudding too.  If it helps, I’ve lost about 13 lbs in the last 2 weeks.  Because I’m unable to eat more than a couple forkfuls in one sitting.  

DOC:  You don’t see this as silver lining?  So what you think the problem is?

ME:  Well, I’ve been doing a lot of googling of my symptoms and it could be chronic gastreitis, diverticulitis, early onset diabetes, impacted colon, not enough good bacteria in my intestines, pancreaitis, peptic ulcer, stomach cancer… the ER doc last week said it could be gallstones or my fatty liver.

DOC:  Haha, you an armchair physician!  You had the SAME gallstones and same fatty liver in 2015, so is not that.  If it was that, you would KNOW it.  If you had diabetes you would know it too.  Your x-rays from Mercy last week look normal, but there could be things hiding.

ME:  What about my CT scans at Passavant a couple days before Mercy’s x-rays?

DOC:  Whoa!  You had CT scans?!  Be back in flash. 

(She exits and I hear her yell “Ruth!!”)

20 minutes later…

DOC:  Oh these scans are excellent.  Not you I mean.  Your body, it is what it is for overweight man in his 50s.  Some good some bad.  But I see everything now.   Look—here your intestine!

ME:  It doesn’t look very happy, but what do I know..

DOC:  Oh a minute ago you knew so much!  Here is the plan.  You will return next week for barium drink one visit, and eat radium eggs on other.  DO NOT MAKE PLANS ON EGG DAY, you will be here 5 hour.  In lab downstair.  We will track a radium dot thru your digestive tract to see how fast your body process food into waste.

ME:  Gulp.. ok.

DOC:  I see a colonscopy and endoscopy in your future.  Probably around Christmas.  Until then… I think we need to… WAKE UP your intestines, and colon.  Do you take laxatives?

ME:  My mother gave me 2 teaspoons of Milk of Magnesia in 1969.

DOC:   Ah, you an armchair comedian too.  I want you to go to drugstore.  Buy Dulcolax pills and 238 grams of Miralax.  Then pick day this week and take 4 pills at noon with water.  At 5pm, mix whole bottle of Miralax with 64 oz. of Gatorade.  Drink entire concoction over 2 hours.

ME:   Waitaminute, you want me to swallow a half gallon of Gatorade and a half POUND of laxatives??  Then what?

DOC:  Don’t go nowhere.  You’re going to clean your intestines REAL good.   You going to shout WAKE UP to your colon.

ME:  This sounds pretty traumatic.

DOC (smiling):  Yes…  I know. 

So, today is the day.  I just swallowed 4 Dulcolax pills with a glass of water, I hope my body is ready for this.  I asked Dr.G if I could eat anything between the pills and the ENTIRE BOTTLE OF MIRALAX at 5pm, she said “Sure why not—have a piece of fish!  But nothing else, no green beans.  Last thing you will need is fiber.”

Thanks for the tip.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

It’s not good up here when it’s not good down there


It may be awhile before my next post; I’ve been dealing with some health issues and right now they’re all I can focus on.  And thanks to 21st century medicine, I have to begin jumping thru hoops (aka “specialists”) before I can get some answers.

While writing my last post (about escaping from the Planet of the Tromps—heh) I’d been experiencing several days of discomfort & abdominal swelling, unable to eat more than a couple forkfuls of anything.  (On Halloween, I was barely able to get down half a scrambled egg; on my birthday!) 

So later that blog-day I made some rice & broccoli, consumed 2 forkfuls—then called my PCP in a panic after my stomach closed up and my head turned red-hot.  She directed me to the nearest emergency room, which turned out to be a CLOSED emergency room.  (It had been converted into an “Urgent Care Unit”  for sore throats & boo-boos in 2010.)  


The following morning my sister Shawn & brother-in-law Jim took me to UPMC Passavant, who in turn took blood, urine, cat-scanned me and said they didn’t see anything, other than gallstones & a “non-alcoholic fatty liver”.   Could that be what’s causing all my abdominal issues?   “It could!  You should drink a lot more water.”

After a worrisome and uncomfortable weekend, this past Monday the left side of my body burst into flame—well, that’s what it felt like—forcing me to call 911 to take me to the Emergency room.  I grunted to the paramedics I’d just been to UPMC Passavant a couple days before.  The one medic said “You mean UPMC Pass Away?  If you have a real emergency, you should go downtown to Mercy.”   Mercy it is!   We arrived in no time at all, and my stretcher was parked in the hallway for 4-5 hours before someone could see me.   But by then, the pain had pretty much dissipated; they still took x-rays, blood & urine though, and suggested I see a urologist and a gastroenterologist.

(When I told them about going to UPMC Passavant on Friday, one of the nurses said “Oh that hospital is so pretty!  I hear every patient gets a room of their own and sees a doctor right away” and my doctor said “Well, you didn’t get that here but city hospitals are more up-to-date.”)

I thanked them profusely, and wearing the surgical scrubs and oversized Mercy Hospital t-shirt they gave me (after the nurse splattered blood on my clothes) I walked down the street into downtown Pittsburgh, just in time for rush hour.  I watched as office workers & professionals hurried home, some taking quick glances in my direction as they moved along.  With my baggy outfit and hair sticking up at all angles, I looked like one of those homeless people that seem to sprout up everywhere from 5-7pm.  I wanted to yell “I’M NOT A HOMELESS PERSON!  A FEW YEARS AGO I WAS ONE OF YOU!”   

I made it to my old bus stop (the last time I caught a bus there was my final day of work, nearly 4 years ago) as a 19L pulled up, and I stumbled on.  Clutching a wad of dollar bills, I shakily tried to slide 3 ones into the machine while people and their Connect Cards waited behind me, shaking their heads.  

I know, people—I know! 

As I took my seat and watched weary bodies get on, I recognized several faces from my former working days.  (Wow, I was shocked how much older they looked, compared to the days when I rode with them daily.)   A few recognized me too and nodded in my direction, while a couple of them did double-takes; based on my appearance, they probably figured I’d fallen on hard times.  

I suddenly missed my old working days downtown very much.

When I got home, I called my sister to tell her of my big hospital adventure, then plopped on my couch in relief; I figured the worst was behind me.  Well, I hoped it was.  Boy was I in for a surprise!

On Tuesday (the day before yesterday) I woke up—made a cup of coffee—showered & hurried downstairs to the church next door to cast my vote, and joked with the workers there about coming back later to cast my second ballot.  Then I casually ambled back to my apartment, just in time for my left flank & lower back to bloom into painful flame.  It was even worse than the day before.

Sonofabitch!   I paced my apartment the entire day, sure that it was a kidney stone.  (I have a feeling, given the last week or so, it’s been more than one.  Maybe they’re in battle with my gallstones.)   As I debated going back to the ER for my THIRD visit in 4-5 days, I remembered a prescription for Flo-Max I’d gotten 18 months prior for a kidney stone.  I ran & swallowed one, and a good pee later, felt the fire in my flank & lower back die down.   I watched the Democrats take back the House in relative peace.

And now, 2 days later I sit here feeling shaky, sore (and other than occasional jabs and an annoying sensation in my abdomen) mostly pain free.  I’ve been guzzling a lot of water, and reading up on bus routes for next week when I visit a gastro specialist on Monday and a urologist on Thursday.  Different hospitals, different parts of the city.   I’m praying I don’t hear the “c” word, but if they tell me they can’t find anything wrong I’m gonna be plenty sore!

The Specialist

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Making it my mission to “Escape From the Planet of the Tromps”

The Spaceship Apache

Starlog 2018.11.1:  It’s been almost 2 years since I found myself stranded on this bizarre version of planet Earth, which I’ve named the Planet of the Tromps. 

I am desperate to return home.

This all began when I completed construction of a device I call the Infinitor, which would allow me to visit parallel universes—rather, parallel Earths—to see how they differ from my own.

Little did I know the first Earth I visited would also be my last; I’ve been unable to make the jump back, or to another one.  I think it has something to do with this planet’s global warming and polluted atmosphere, which doesn’t seem to be a priority of its ruling classes. 

(I hope they’re all good swimmers, because after these polar ice caps melt…)

While this Earth is much like my own, the layout of continents, oceans & the like, this world has not one but TWO sentient species.  Humans, like myself—and a strange, dangerous race known as the Tromps.  They eat and breathe and speak like humans, they wear clothes and raise families and go to work and shop and do all the other things that humans do—but at the same time, they couldn’t be more different.

They harbor anger, fear & resentment towards beings that don’t think and behave like themselves, and many of them have a scary affinity for firearms (much like the ‘Wild West’ era of my own Earth). 

It doesn’t help that they seem to lack attibutes like compassion and common sense. 

Please!  No more!

A reporter asks a Tromp couple for their thoughts on Muslims, gays and other minorities—clearly repulsed, they insist he stop talking about such aberrations

Their leader is a frightful, amoral character known as THE TROMP.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this figure lacks any redeeming qualities.  Humans warned the Tromps early on, but they reveled in his demented rhetoric, gathered en masse & elected this buffoon to rule over all.   And why wouldn’t they, he’s just like them.



Their leader (pictured here) shouts ludicrous nonsense like this to angry crowds of Tromps; I believe the irony is lost on them

THE TROMP is obsessed with cartoonish rallies where he seems to thrive on the hatred he instills in his followers.  He spews a constant stream of ridiculous and anger-filled lies (he seems incapable of doing anything but) to incite violence and division towards the humans.  

Lest they discover the truth, he warns his followers not to believe anything they see, hear or read unless it comes from him or his cronies on some psuedo “news” channel.  On my Earth, they’d be laughed right off of television.

Tromp News Channel

“See no humans!  Hear no humans!  Don’t speak to humans!”

Weirdly, he delights in screwing over humans and Tromps as he takes from the lower & middle classes to deliver larger profits to the wealthy, all while convincing his followers that it’s in their best interest. 

They’re only too eager to comply.


“The Tromp works hard to strip us of evils like healthcare, and vows to stop imaginary caravans of terrorist humans from crossing our borders!  All hail the Tromp!”

Isn’t this the craziest shit you’ve ever seen?  I watch it every day from my grounded spacecraft (camouflaged to look like a one bedroom apartment).

And the sooner I get out of here, the better.  I know it sounds like the makings for a crazy-ass science fiction movie, but you can’t make this kind of stuff up!

I’ve come up with new coordinates to enter into my ship’s Infinitor, however due to atmospheric disturbances I won’t be able to make an attempt until Stardate 2018.11.6.

Hopefully on this date I can use the data below to make the jump to another Earth; it may not be the one I remember, but perhaps one that’s more civilized, and a saner one too.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

My solitary confinement is showing… just doing some thinking out loud

alone in here

I’ve been on my own for a long time.  I lived with my family until 1980, bounced around and went to college, then my sister Shawn & I shared our grandmother’s old house from 1982-1986. 

From 1987-88 I lived with my former best friend Dan and his wife Jean, a girl named Fay, and a roommate named Bill after I moved to Pittsburgh. 

Bill married his girlfriend Shelly & moved out in August 1988, a couple months shy of my 27th birthday.  So this past summer marks my 30th anniversary of living alone.  I read recently that while 48% of Americans are single, only 1 out of 4 households are single households.   So there’s a big difference between being single & being on your own.

I suppose I should feel lucky this isn’t the 1920s (where only 5% of people lived alone) or the 1950s when 3 out of 4 people shared the same roof.  Would I have been married in 1925 or the town oddball?  In the 1950s I might’ve been branded a closet homosexual or communist spy for being single or having my own space; I’m not handsome, suave or urbane enough to be a confirmed bachelor.   

What have I got against marriage?  Nothing, honest. 

Anyway, I’m glad I came along when I did, allowing me to just be “Doug”.  And being middle aged, I’m long past caring what anyone thinks and I’m long past anyone caring what my story is.      

(Unless you’re reading my blog, and you’ve been here before.)  Smile 

For the most part, I’ve been generally okay with my solitary confinement.  In the 1990s I dated quite a bit, and my sister Shawn would often come up for the weekend—we’d see a movie, go out to dinner (or I’d cook) and sit up late and talk.  The only part I didn’t like was Sunday afternoon, after she left—my “aloneness” would suddenly come crashing down all around me, and I wouldn’t be able to shake it off until the next day, when I’d go to work at my noisy office and see my friends. 

In the 2000s, my dating life had slowed down considerably (and my sister’s weekends were now busy with her new husband) but by then I was more set in my ways, and appreciative of my alone time.  There were times here & there when I’d hear about a married friend’s weekend or vacation or wedding anniversary, and I’d suddenly feel alone and wistful, and wonder what led me down my own narrow path.  But I always shrugged it off.

And then yesterday morning I’m sitting on my couch sipping coffee, hear the loud booms of drums, look outside—it’s my neighborhood’s annual Halloween parade, with a couple of marching bands and a hundred kids wearing costumes, rain be damned.  I put on some long pants and shoes and grabbed my windbreaker, and hurried downstairs to watch.  A couple beside me was waving at the kids (I’m guessing one of them was theirs) and the man asked the woman if she wanted to go to breakfast after.  And without looking at him she said “you’re not getting out of cooking today” and I had to smile & wished I was cooking for someone today too.

I come back upstairs, and my tv (which I left on) is reporting on the “just now” shooting of people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, 10-11 miles from here.  8 men, 3 women dead.  6 wounded.  I sit here and digest this madness alone, and hear the muffled conversation between Ronnie and his girlfriend next door, and wonder if they’re watching this too, and talking about it.

A couple hours later, damn—the return of those mysterious stomach pains I had a couple days ago.  Hot & severe, I sit here and take shallow breaths for 90 minutes, waiting for the pain to calm.  Aside from sipping water, I’m afraid to eat anything for the rest of the day.  My (normally hungry) stomach doesn’t seem to mind.  I wonder if I was married or living with someone, would they be saying “Okay buster, turn off the tv—we’re going to the hospital”.  I’d probably say the pain has let up, let’s wait until it’s a real emergency.  Besides, UPMC Mercy must be dealing with a lot of very real tragedies right now.  

But I live alone, the few people in my life are busy with their own lives and weekends, so I sit here and wonder what is wrong with people like this killer filled with hate, and with me.  

Sometimes it can be pretty difficult being alone.  Shalom.Star of David

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Am I George? I hope I’m not George (at least there wasn’t a bite taken out of anything)

George and the eclair

Do you remember the episode of ‘Seinfeld’ where George is at his girlfriend’s mother’s house, shows some chivalry and carries the dirty dinner dishes into the kitchen?  

He opens the kitchen wastebasket with his foot, sees a chocolate eclair with a bite taken out of it in there, takes it out and eats it—just as his girlfriend’s mom walks in. 

I can still remember the first time I saw this, I laughed so hard I was choking—and when I called my mom to see if she was watching, she couldn’t talk--she was choking too!

A little bit ago (around 11:30pm)  I was writing an email to my sister Shawn when it occurred to me I hadn’t gone downstairs to get my mail today.  (I had a terrible stomach ache earlier in the day, not sure why.  All I had to eat was a slice of wheat toast, a hard boiled egg and some cherry tomatoes for breakfast.  I’ve had nothing since and I’m still not hungry.)    

ANYWAY—I take the elevator downstairs to the lobby, retrieve my mail, take a quick look in the package room (behind the mailboxes) to see if my coffee pods from Amazon had arrived yet, and saw a styrofoam container on the “give away” table.  You know the type of container I’m talking about, square with rounded corners and a lid, for take-home from restaurants.  I look behind me to make sure I’m alone, then take a peek inside… wow, 3 desserts!  A slice of cheesecake, and what I believe to be a slice of chocolate cheesecake and a pretty steep hunk of tiramisu.

When I bent down to smell them, I could tell they were pretty cold—whoever left them there had to have done it minutes before I found them.  

Did someone leave these here because it’s the give-away table?   Or were they picking up a package and put it down and forgot?  I’ve seen paperback books, costume jewelry, old sunglasses, even a string of xmas lights and a small box of golf balls left on that give-away table; but never a fresh container of restaurant desserts!

I thought “Well, I’ve got a sore stomach—plus a chocolate cupcake upstairs I bought myself yesterday and haven’t gotten around to eating yet...”

And even if I DID want this, I don’t know where they came from!  And what if I ran into the person who was coming back to get them on the elevator? 

So… I used the stairs instead.  Yes I took those desserts!  I’m a guy—it’s my birthday next week—and I’m George!  Good night!


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Halloween 1975: Yep, I think I’d like to go back to being short again

Halloween 1975--I'm 14 years old

My niece Sophia recently celebrated her 14th birthday (it was a real gala from what I heard, the social event of the season) and I couldn’t help but remember my own 14th birthday, a literal lifetime ago.

It was in 1975, Halloween Day to be exact.  It was a more modest celebration, but I certainly wouldn’t say it was a less happier one.  Here’s a couple things I remember most from that time:

1)  My mom got it in her head that I should go trick-or-treating with the other kids “one last time”.  I insisted I was too old and besides, I didn’t go the year before on my 13th birthday either!

She said “Honey if you wear a mask no one’s going to know you’re a teenager.”  Haha, that was the LAST thing I wanted to hear.  I said no, and she still got me a Batman mask in case I changed my mind.  

What I didn’t tell Mom (or anyone else), I was in the second month of my “prayer-thon”, a personal plea to the Big Man Upstairs to make me a couple inches taller.  At the start of the school year, our Phys-Ed teacher remarked how tall many of the guys had gotten over the summer.  He looked at me and joked that I went from third shortest in the class to second.  I was never self-conscious about my height until then!  (It took awhile, but in a couple years I’d become the towering figure of 5’8” I am today.)

2)  Also at the start of that school year, a foster-girl named Penny had moved in with the Davises, our neighbors up the red-dog road from our house.  She was short, curvy and a year younger than me.  I was in love with her the first time I laid eyes on her at our bus stop, and the day after these pics were taken…. well, you’ll see.

Doug, Courtney, Donda Lin

Holding my baby sister Courtney, and that’s my sister Donda Lin wearing our brother Steve’s Evel Knievel Halloween costume. 

Notice the Batman mask hanging on the fruit bowl? 

Getting back to my birthday, I remember asking my mom for a ‘homemade’ birthday cake that year, like the one she baked for my Dad that summer.

I wanted a german chocolate cake; I’d never had one before, but my brother Duke was taking German lessons after school (with a paid tutor—WHY) and verdammt, I was going to have something German too!

But what I wanted more than anything was a REMCO STAR TREK PHASER.  It had just hit the store shelves and was more than some toy, it was ‘transistorized’.  This sucker was the very first ‘Star Trek’ item with lights & sound, and from the commercials on tv, it definitely looked regulation size and then some.  (It also included a secret compartment with ‘light-discs’ of various spacecraft you could beam on a blank wall, a ‘Trekkie lightshow’.)  

I was at the age where I was pretty much done with toys, but if I was getting out, I was going out with a bang—or a phaser burst!  I had to have this in the worst way.

Remco Star Trek Phaser

My mom came through of course, and I was blown away; it was bigger and even better than expected.  (It’s considered a real collector’s item today and verdammt, what happened to mine??)  Along with this gorgeous gat I got a pack of artist notebooks & pens (I went thru a LOT of drawing paper back then) and an awesome set of ‘monster candles’—a ghost (which she plunked on top of my cake), a bleeding skull, a witch & vampire. 

Along with that weird chocolate cake, it was a good haul.  Smile 

The day after my birthday (a Saturday), I was sitting on the stoop in front of our house with my new phaser, marveling at the size and… heft of the thing (and wondering if I was too old to pretend I was Captaiin Kirk in my back yard) when I heard:

“What is that?”

I look up— Penny!!  The new foster-girl from up the red dog road, she was on her way to get the mail (our rural mailboxes sat together on the main road). 

I said “It’s um… a replica of a weapon from a science fiction show...”  I thought for sure she’d laugh and say I was too old to be playing with toys, but she didn’t.  She asked where I got it, and when I told her it was a birthday gift from the day before, she said “You were really born on Halloween?  That’s the weirdest thing I ever heard!”

 In love  Heh!

She asked if the phaser did anything, so I played her some of its annoying sound effects and explained it could also shine various spaceships on the wall, too bad we didn’t have a dark space to bounce images off of.  I tagged along with her to our mailboxes, and after retrieving her mail, she left her box’s lid open and said “Hey, shine your gun in there!”   I nervously fumbled the first light-disc into its slot and narrowed the beam.   

We both peered inside.  U.S.S. Enterprise, Klingon ship, UFO….  our heads were so close together our cheeks were almost touching.  If I thought I loved this girl before today…  I swear to God if I had a ring handy (especially a diamond one) I would’ve got down on one knee & proposed to her right there.

The following Monday morning at our bus stop, I secretly handed her this note:

Penny, will you be my girlfriend?   Signed, the Halloween Boy

That same day after school on the bus ride home, Penny handed me a note:  it said “Dear Halloween Boy, yes I will be your girlfriend.  Love, Penny”   JOY!  RAPTURE!

A week later we began sitting on the bus together, a week after that we began holding hands, and the weekend after THAT I went on my first hay-ride with Penny & her church group.   Oh, there’s a lot more to tell but I’ll save it for another time.  Until then…

Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 12, 2018

Give me a break lady—a little bit of steam never hurt anybody!

Fly my prettys, get those Democrats!

Growing up, before we moved to the farmhouse, before we even moved to Cumberland Street in the late ‘60s, we lived on East Franklin Street in Waynesburg.  We were the first house on the block.  

Directly behind our long row of older but neat houses was a steep hillside that led up to High Street, the main drag in town.  It could be a real shortcut too.  You didn’t have to climb up that hill, a row of wooden & concrete steps took you straight up or down.  Go up, turn right and you were on your way to ‘uptown’, or Main Street; turn left and you were steps from Huffman’s Cleaners, McCracken’s Pharmacy, Henderson’s Barber Shop & East Franklin Elementary.

There was only one obstacle in your way… and according to my big brother, it was deadly.

When you neared the top of these steps, up against the side of Huffman’s Dry Cleaners, was a wide metal pipe jutting from the wall and some sort of exhaust pipe that pointed downwards, directly over your head.

huffman_steampipe[2]At regular intervals, there’d be a loud WHOOOSH! like the sound of a steam locomotive, and a heavy white cloud would be expelled. 

This pipe just intrigued the heck out of me.  I remember one time my Dad coming home from work covered with dust (he worked in coal shaft construction) and someone (Dad or Mom) joked he should go up and stand under that giant steampipe.  I was around 7 at the time, and it made perfect sense to me.  When I asked my brother Duke if standing under that pipe would really ‘steam-clean’ your clothes, he said “DON’T EVER STAND UNDER THAT PIPE!” 

Why??  To this day I don’t know if Duke was trying to scare the crap out of me, or if he actually believed what he was saying, but he said “That steam is deadly!  It’s a thousand degrees and full of chemicals, it will melt the skin right off your bones!”    

I was shocked; how many times had I come so close to death?  I should’ve just asked Mom or Dad if Duke was giving me the business, I guess I assumed it had to be true as I knew how smart Duke was. 

I still used those steps pretty regularly, but I’d go three quarters up--wait on the landing for the next WHOOSH--then barrel up the rest of the way.  Ah, made it!  I’d live to see another day.

The Visible Man model kitThis was a popular model kit in the late 1960s, every time I saw it on display at GC Murphy’s I thought “That’s how I’ll look if I get caught in Huffman’s steambath”

The reason I’m sharing this story is because on Thursday as I was heading into my apartment building, I passed Jack sitting in the lobby reading his newspaper.  (Jack is 79 years old and a giant, he looks twice my size.  Long retired from the military, I think he was a tank in the Korean War.) 

Jack said “HEY CHIEF”  and I waved in his direction as I headed towards the mailboxes.  He said “YOU MISSED ALL THE COMMOTION CHIEF.”  What’d I miss?  “I GOT RID OF A COUPLE OUTSIDE, THEY WANTED TO PUT SIGNS OUT FRONT.” 

The front of the Tiffany
The front of our apartment building, we usually have an American flag up that flagpole

He explained they were political campaign signs for Keith Rothfus for Congress (the GOP candidate running in the 17th District, a sure loser) and Jack didn’t think it’d be fair as we have 100 residents here. 

I told Jack, GOOD!  He nodded his head and said “Mary didn’t have a problem with them.”  (A woman by the mailboxes glanced in our direction then went back to sorting her mail.)  Jack said “So you’re not voting for Rothfus, Chief?”  I said “No way.  Rothfus is a Trump toad.”  (Well, he is!)  He laughed and said “I take it you’re not a fan of Donald Trump?”  I said “I think anyone who supports Donald Trump is out of their fucking mind.”  Jack roared with laughter and I immediately regretted saying it.  Oh well.  “Mary” was now gone and I told Jack I’d see him later.

As I headed towards the elevator, I noticed it’s doors were open.  I looked inside and saw Mary and her mail, with her finger pressing the DOORS OPEN button.  She said “Going up?”  I said “Were you holding that for me?  Hey, I’m sorry if you overheard me and Jack, I got a little riled up back there.” 

She said “Didn’t bother me.  But you should look around next time you decide to go flapping your gums about our president.”   

I said “Yep, you’re right.”   She said “I’m not saying I’m right or you’re wrong, but you sound like these Democrats, they like to make things up so they can vent steam about our President.”  

I said “I’m not making things up or going around venting steam, but I AM a Democrat.”  She said “Democrats are getting more dangerous everyday.  I hear it all the time.”   Lady, what the hell!  She was right about the dangerous part though, because I wanted to knock her on her keester.  I said  “Sorry again about my choice of words.  Listen, I really am done talking.”  She said “That’s fine I said what I had to say.” 


Getting back to my ‘Steam Pipe of Death’, one Saturday morning my grandma (for awhile she was living in a cluster of mobile homes across from us) sent me ‘up the steps’ to McCracken’s to pick up her perscription.  While waiting for her pills, a girl from my class (Robin C.) entered the drugstore.  She was the only black student in our class, but she was one of the smartest and nicest girls too.

Anyway, Robin asked me where I lived.  I told her on East Franklin, “right over there, down the steps by Huffman’s Cleaners” and she said to show her.

steps by Huffman's CleanersNow a ‘Treasure Shop’, this was taken when it was a shuttered Huffman’s Cleaners. 

If you look closely in the lower right corner you’ll see those steps leading down.  Notice the big pipe running down the wall? 

We walked over to the concrete steps and I pointed at the L-shaped death-pipe below and told her what my brother told me.  I think Robin thought I was teasing HER.  She went down the steps and just stood there.  WHOOOOSH!!  She got blasted by a cloud of steam!  She came back up and I DO remember her smelling a little like bleach, but that was it.  I felt like such a dope!

So is there a moral to this blog?  Nope, I just like to reminisce and I needed to vent about Mary—you know us Democrats, always shooting off steam!  I suppose I could say it pays to be nice to people as Robin ended my fears about being melted alive.  To this day, when I visit Waynesburg and drive past there I think of that pipe—and Robin.

As for Mary… what can I say.  I hope she melts.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Let’s get down to business: meet my spiffy Retirement Manager

Me, in June

It’s hard to believe, but in 3 months I’ll have finished my fourth year of this “early retirement” experiment.  (Yep, I’m still calling it an experiment—too reliant on the stock market, too young to collect social security.)  But recent health crisises aside, I feel I’ve been pretty lucky… well, in the finance dept at least. 

My first year of retirement I didn’t even touch my investments.  I lived solely from my checking & savings, and watched as things took a tumble in my stock portfolio.  That was not a good sign!

But the market recovered, and I feel like I still have a good chance.

Back in July 2016, I set up a pretty rudimentary spreadsheet to track my withdrawals and wrote about it here:  The bows & arrows of not so outrageous fortunes.  It was based on my plan to “withdraw 4% of stocks every year or 95% of the previous year’s withdrawal, whichever was greater” and that’s still the idea, more or less. 

(Since then, I’ve modified my portfolio to include all liquid assets.)

But I was still scribbling reminders, due dates & lots of numbers down on paper and needed to come up with something better.  So I set up this “Retirement Manager”, a 3 tab excel file to keep me on track with spending, income and a Roth ladder (for parking IRA withdrawals penalty-free until I’m old enough to get my grubby hands on ‘em).  So let’s take a look.

ApacheDug’s Retirement Manager



When do I update it?   Once a year, hopefully in January.

What do I update on it?  My portfolio’s value (when I’m ready to make a withdrawal) in Col B, then my annual withdrawal in Col F.

Everything else is automatically calculated:  after I enter the amount of my portfolio, Col C shows me 95% of last year’s “recommended withdrawal”, Col D calcs 4% of this year’s portfolio.  Col E compares Cols C & D and gives me this year’s “Recommended Withdrawal Amount”.

Cols G-H show my age at the start of the year & end, Cols I-L calcs the percentage of my actual withdrawal, what the amount would be if I chose to withdraw 4.5 or 5% and a running percent average of my withdrawals to date.  I really need to keep Col L under 4.5%!

Tab 2


What is this?  INCOME

When do I update it?  Every December, or I can update it quarterly when I get dividends from my taxable (non-retirement) investments. 

What do I update on it?  The profit/loss incurred from the sale of stocks (Col B), quarterly dividends from my taxable investments (Cols C-F), interest from savings (Col G), job earnings or IRA withdrawals (Col H).

Col I is a running subtotal for the year. 

Col J shows the current Fed Poverty Level.  Col K calculates 138% of said amount, and Col L reports the minimum amount I still need to convert from my IRA to my Roth to ‘up’ my MAGI & meet ACA’s minimum income rule.  (I need a MAGI of at least 138% of the Federal Poverty Income to buy ACA Health Insurance.)

Col M is the actual amount I converted to Roth (if any)—and COL N reports the final total, my MAGI.  Did ya get all that?

Tab 3


What is this?  ROTH LADDER

When do I update it?  The last week of December.

What do I update on it?  The sale (transfer) of stocks from my IRA to my Roth (Col B).  I do this to create taxable income without incurring early-withdrawal penalties for being below retirement age. 

It MUST be equal or greater than the amount ahown for the same year in Col L from my INCOME table (Tab 2).  It’s only to have the income required by Obamacare.   Once I hit 59 1/2 years old, I can just withdraw from my IRA without doing these Roth conversions, or I can keep converting.

BTW, as long as I’m under 59.5, I have to pay Federal –and- state taxes on these converted anounts.  But come 2021, just Federal.  (There is no state tax on IRA withdrawals or Roth conversions for people 59.5 or older in Pennsylvania.)  Woo-hoo!

The one negative about these conversions is, every time I do one, that year’s amount cannot be touched for 5 years

(But the year you do it in counts as an entire year.  My first conversion was Dec 23, 2015; I get to include 2015 in my 5 year count.  2015,16,17,18,19.  I can withdraw that first years conversion in January 2020.  2016’s converted amount can be taken in January 2021, etc.)   

The PLUS about having a Roth account is that any gains from investments aren’t taxed.  For example, from 2015-17 I converted $31,000 to my Roth—but its current market value is $38,700.  I’ll pay no taxes on those gains (provided they’re still there) when I choose to sell. 

And there you have it, my Retirement Manager.  Isn’t it swell?  It does most of the work so I don’t have to.  And it should, because I’m retired—I think!  now what

Friday, September 28, 2018

Ford vs. Kavanaugh: I can’t believe I watched that whole thing


I went to bed sick to my stomach Thursday night.  It was my own fault.  The day before I ran & did errands, bought groceries, answered some emails, cleaned my apartment—all to ensure I had nothing on my schedule so I could park myself in front of the tv Thursday morning, and listen to Christine Ford’s sexual assault testimony & Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s response.

I thought it’d run for 2-3 hours, not 9!

It was both what I was expecting & wasn’t; I thought Doctor Ford was a credible witness, but at the same time she sounded almost purposely timid.  Then again, what do I know?  I’ve never had to sit in front of a roomful of senators and answer questions with a television camera on me.

But at the same time, she DID sound honest, civilized, sincere.  I thought her Republican “hosts” were gracious enough, and the Democrat senators who lined up to tell her what a hero she was were all too obvious in their grandstanding.  Still, it was a civil affair.

What soured my stomach was 6 hours into this “television event” when Judge Kavanaugh took his seat at the table.  He comes out looking miffed (can’t blame him), lines up those papers on the table in front of him, adjusts the “Honorable Judge Kavanugh” placard over & over again, making everything just so.

And then he opened his goddamned mouth.

Here’s what I thought, after all was said and done.  Regardless of the sexual assault allegations, the man is GUILTY OF BEING AN ENTITLED, CONSPIRACY-NUTJOB JERK.    

He was belligerent, disrespectful & a lazy liar.  Ugh, lazy liars are the worst!  

I sat here, incredulous that this whackjob was even a judge in the first place, let alone a Supreme Court nominee.  What were we witnessing here?  Someone only a couple years younger than myself, with the mindset of a privileged 16 year old.  I wish I’d turned it off after his opening rant, a 20 minute temper tantrum.

I’m sure it sucks to be in your fifties and have to explain or defend who you were as an 18 year old—but he sure didn’t seem to mind.  As he prattled on about his preppy school days more than anyone cared to listen, he knew damn well what those childish yearbook references (“boofing”, “Devil’s Triangle”) meant.  No one was accusing you of boofing, Brett—but it would’ve been simpler to say “I don’t remember” then to try and attach G-rated definitions to them and expect people to just take you at your word. 

To watch him do this over and over with that bored look of contempt… it made me nauseated.  If it’s that easy to sit there & conjure up phony things to make his younger self not look so bad, how simple is it for him to lie about bigger things in the present?


Blubbering, shouting, sneering—at least we didn’t have to see him boofing

I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be accused of something and be forced to defend myself in a courtroom or courtroom-like setting. But I’ve seen enough real-life defendants—later found guilty or innocent—that showed a LOT more restraint than this spoiled, immature character.  

And to think he’s THISCLOSE to being a judge on the US Supreme Court.. sickening.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Slow down, you move too fast… you got to make your childhood last

Sophia Aug2018

This is my 13 (soon to be 14) year old niece Sophia.  The picture was taken on August 27, 2018, her first day of school.  It was also the day before her mom’s birthday (my sister Shawn) and the day after my visit with them.  They had a small cookout to celebrate the last day of summer vacation, and I used the occasion to surprise my sister with a birthday cake.

I know I’m not being impartial here, but isn’t this kid beautiful?  She looks like she’d fit right in on one of those beauty or teen fashion magazine covers.

Anyway, it had been awhile since my last visit so kidding around, I said “Hello Sophia, I’m your mother’s brother.. your Uncle Doug.”  

Without missing a beat, she said “Yes I know, my mom’s told me all about you.”  

Next we did the “Look How Tall Your Niece Has Grown Since Your Last Visit” while Sophia stood next to me looking a smidgen taller than her uncle (ulp) and my sister confirming said fact.  Then Sophia said “Mom, wait!  I’m in my bare feet, Uncle Doug still has his shoes on!” 

Shawn replied  “Alright, we’ll measure again after he takes his shoes off!”    Thinking smile

smshwncake (2)

The birthday cake I brought for my sister, she always goes out of her way to get everybody a cake on their birthdays so this one was long overdue

I then went on a tour of the estate to check out all the home improvements (a new back porch & curved walkway, Sophia’s playroom converted into a college girl’s dorm room—her words, not mine) and when I asked “So what’s next on your Home Improvements list?”  my sister replied “Nothing!  We’re all done” and Sophia said “WHAT??” 

That poor kid!  She was born in the middle of a bathroom renovation, reared on HGTV and weekly trips to IKEA or Lowe’s to check out what’s trending in lighting & kitchen backsplashes, she doesn’t know any different!

Sophia has turned out to be a remarkable young woman though—she’s always made straight A’s, a star athlete in soccer, softball & basketball, active in her church & community, a real ballet dancer to boot.  She also has this thing for amassing wealth, when I brought some odds n’ ends for my sister to pick over (a sofa pillow from Wayfair, some scatter rugs from IKEA, a pack of undersized t-shirts, a too-small wristwatch from Amazon, etc.)  Shawn said “Alright, we’ll see what we can use” and Sophia said “Why can’t we just sell all of it!” 

Haha!  This kid’s going to make her first million before she’s 30.

backporchTheir new back porch with Shawn’s newly painted rockers & reconstructed steps—these guys don’t fool around

Later on, while Shawn & Jim grilled hamburgers, hot dogs & vegetable shish-kabobs (note to self, eat more veggie shish-kabobs) I watched as my niece played in her backyard with some goofy twins who live next door, a pair of toothy girls a year or so Sophia’s junior.  

It killed me, I felt like I was watching a gazelle cavort with a pair of chipmunks.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it; like I said earlier, it’s been awhile since my last visit (mostly due to the long drive and some medical issues which I’m sure I’ll be sharing in the near future, who doesn’t want to read about someone’s health woes, right?) but it was a great day and I’m glad I finally got to see my favorite Cover-Girl again.cover girl