Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Totally Under Control

I stopped by the house today to pick up mail, etc. 

I also realized that I've been watering a fake aloe Vera plant for the last six weeks. No wonder that soil always seemed so dry. 


Monday, November 29, 2021

The Return of Mr. Perfect

Thanksgiving sucked. Let's just get that out of the way. It was really tough, because I was supposed to be eating with Gloria, and she's gone, and it was bad. 

Eli 20.4 had friends who all chipped in a dish (he made pie), and they had a nice Thanksgiving dinner at Oxford, which made me very happy. That was the good part. 

I had to go back to the bank today. I have a list of other things I'd like to write about today, but every day is an octopus right now, and I've temporarily lost control of my own life. 

After I'm done editing the book, that is. Until noon, I'm able to work. Then everything turns into a dumpster fire. 

I returned to the bank because I needed them to do something simple: move the money from Gloria's bank accounts into an estate account. This is a standard thing to do when someone passes, and I had the court order appointing me Eli's special representative for the estate. 

The bank, for some bizarre reason, couldn't get it approved internally. I was annoyed. "I'm not applying for a loan, you guys. This is a court order. There's no refusal here." 

Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Basically, there legal department wouldn't approve it because the scanner in the local branch couldn't pick up the gold notary seal on the court documents. "Does this sound like anything that should be my problem?" I asked. 

Finally, I had to resort to The Glare. 

I inherited this from Mom 91.8, who has wielded it with awesome power at necessary times during her life. Like her, I only use it for good, and only when I'm pushed into a corner, but today, with the bank being ridiculous, I applied its fearsome power. 

I was also fully masked, which focused The Glare even more fully. 

I never raised my voice. I just pointed out how their internal problems were not my problems, that I had a court order (and six days was more than enough time to execute it), and that somebody needed to get something done. Immediately.

Mr. Perfect had stopped using "perfect" by this point. He really lost his fastball for a while there. 

With a careful application of The Glare, the bank manager was suddenly making phone calls. Twenty minutes later, problem solved. 

Well, solved to the point of opening an estate account and giving me printouts of the last year of statements for Gloria's accounts. Now I have to review all her bank transactions for the last year and make a list of everyone she paid. Every single one, because it all has to be transferred or cancelled. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's an excellent read, it's Study: Tracking spiders as they weave their webs reveals detailed “choreography”. This sounds like something Eli 20.2 and I would do: Best prank ever, putting a cardboard cutout of yourself in a convenience store. This is amazing: Neuroscientist Explains Memory in 5 Levels of Difficulty

From David Gloier, and this story is amazing: The Quest to Shoot an Arrow Farther Than Anyone Has Before. Also, and this is a fascinating read: An Archaeological Dig Reignites the Debate Over the Old Testament’s Historical Accuracy.

A bevy of quality links from C. Lee, as always. First, and this is a wonderful story, it's How I Got into Gaming :: An Old Lady discovers a Wonderworld. This is thought-provoking: Is the U.S. Really Less Corrupt Than China? This is bad: Wheelchair users can face hefty costs not covered by insurance. I've actually read a book about this guy: He made a Fortune in the 1920’s Transplanting Monkey Testicle Tissue into the Ballsacks of Millionaires. This is fantastic: What Does "The" Mean? This is absolutely terrific: The Strange, Dark Life of Edwin Arlington Robinson

From Wally, and I saw another survey that said Michigan's favorite side dish was "roll": The Most Popular Thanksgiving Side in Every State


Thanks to everyone who sent in costume counts this year, and I swear I'm going to compile them. 


So that Mr. Perfect post was supposed to go up today, but I forgot to set it to auto-post, so it posted immediately instead. 

No surprise. Many plates are spinning right now.

I'm posting Friday Links tomorrow, because some of you may be having a Thanksgiving where you're looking for something to distract you, and I'm happy to oblige. 

Mr. Perfect asked me yesterday if I had any "fun Thanksgiving plans." 

Read the room, dude. Read the room.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Mr. Perfect

I've learned two things about what I'm calling "death appointments," which are meetings you have to have with a bank, financial advisor, etc., to gain access to accounts and funds related to Gloria's estate. I've learned three things about these meetings:
1. Everything you think you're going to get done results in at least three additional things you have to do in order to get the first thing done. That secondary layer of three things to do can then result in nine things to do. Etc.
2. These meetings are absolutely soul-sucking. 
3. It helps to have something to root for. 

Let me explain #3.

In the meeting I had with the bank today, the person assisting me, who I'll call "Duke," liked to say the word "perfect." He said it so often that I started making little tick marks on my notepad, because it gave me something to root for, which made the situation marginally less unbearable.

How often would he say it in half an hour? What would his PPM(Perfect Per Minute) ratio be? Has anyone even done this before?

The end result: 33 perfects in 30 minutes, for a PPM ratio of 1.1. Stellar. 

The best part is that these came in bunches. He would say "perfect" three times in ten seconds, on occasion. 

It was a stupid little distraction, but a good one. 

Look Everybody, It's a Committee!

Well, this is certainly bold:
The Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) Board of Directors today announced that it has formed a “Workplace Responsibility Committee” (the “Committee”), initially comprised of two independent directors, to oversee the Company’s progress in successfully implementing its new policies, procedures, and commitments to improve workplace culture and eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination at the Company.

A committee! Well, I guess everything is good now, move along.

I still think this is a very desperate, last attempt to save Bobby Kotick's ass, even though it's clearly not worth saving. Oh, and here's another little snippet that's very funny:
While the Company, with the Board’s support, has been making important progress to improve workplace culture, it is clear that current circumstances demand increased Board engagement. 

Translation: Oh, shit, Bobby was even worse than we thought. Better spin up the PR machine pronto.

I mean, I thought he'd be gone by now, so I could be totally wrong about this, but I'm guessing that Activision actually has other incidents of Bobby's behavior that haven't been made public. If they decide they want him out, those incidents will get leaked and the board will say they "had no choice."

Monday, November 22, 2021


I was sitting in the socially distanced waiting room of my doctor (annual physical results: nothing appears to be falling off). 

In the next pod, a woman's phone rang, and "Eye in the Sky" by The Alan Parsons Project started playing. Specifically, the lyric 
I am the eye in the sky, looking at you

It was her ringtone, as it turned out. Slightly disturbing, because here's that section of the lyrics:
I am the eye in the sky, looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules, dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind

The obvious question here: who was assigned that ringtone? Spouse? Parent? Employer?

I really had to hold back to stop myself from asking her, because I desperately wanted to know. Discretion won, but only barely.

It Seems Like a Lot

How introverted am I? I'm the person who would want to make an Irish exit from their own party.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Friday Links!

My email is a dumpster fire (again). I'm working on it. In the meantime, have a great weekend.

Leading off this week, from Eric Higgins-Freese, and I know how he feels: Squished Monkey Balls Win 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.

This is an absolutely fantastic article: A physicist studied Ben Franklin’s clever tricks to foil currency counterfeiters

From Wally, and this is excellent: Why this "falling rocks" sign is more important than most. This is a wonderful story: The Hans Island “liquor wars” between Canada and Denmark may be the cutest dispute in history. This list looks a little suspicious, but there's some interesting data in here: The best cities for book lovers in 2022. 

From Meg McReynolds, and it's very, very clever: '90s Dad Thrillers: a List. Those are so brilliant (and #3 is an instant classic): 15 Disturbing Vintage Holiday Cards.

From Hennie, and I agree with all of this: I'm an American who immersed himself in the Cricket T20 World Cup and these are the 7 things I wish baseball would take from the sport.

From David Gloier, and it's odd: There's an asteroid following Earth, and it may be from the moon

From C. Lee, and it should surprise no one: The Great Organic-Food Fraud. Amazing: How a Safecracker Broke Into Prince's Locked Vault (they estimate that Prince has 8,000 unreleased songs). This is remarkable: The Boy Robot of 1774. This is fascinating: The 27 Inch Dolls that Saved Post-War Paris as the Fashion Capital. Who knew? Meet Lilli, the High-end German Call Girl Who Became America’s Iconic Barbie Doll. Amen: This is just to say...

After Six Years, You Think I'd Learn

I went out for what I was expecting to be an hour walk today. It was reasonably comfortable when I started.

I forgot, though, that I live in Michigan (Canada).

After about five minutes, the wind started blowing, and I swear the temperature was dropping with every single step I took. Cold fronts in November-February are downright angry, and this one was fierce. The wind was like a face slap repeated every second.

I made it through thirty minutes, and then it started snowing. That was a quick "Hell, no" from me, and I cut things short and went back. By the time I got back to the apartment, the wind chill was 24F.

A moose would not have surprised me. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


I mean, we all knew Bobby Kotick was a prick.

Until now, though, no one really seemed to care. What finally moved the meter were more allegations this week, including one that Kotick left an employee a voicemail where he threatened to kill her. 

Well, that seems healthy. 

The other mind-blowing revelation this week was that Fran Townsend's entirely despicable email in responsible to sexual assault allegations against the company was actually written by--drum roll, please--Bobby Kotick, and sent out under her name. Here you go: Bobby Kotick Actually Wrote Fran Townsend's Deranged, Company-Wide Email. Unbelievable. 

There are plenty of other reasons to not like Fran Townsend, but this isn't one of them. It does make you wonder, though, what made it worth it for her. It was a truly terrible email, and she's been dragged to every corner of the universe (including by me). How much money is compensation for utter humiliation?

A lot, probably. 

I'm going to plant a stake in the ground here and say that Bobby Kotick will be gone from Activision within the week. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's before the weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

A Memory

I was going through a closet that had some of Gloria's clothes in it and came across her wedding dress. 

That was a real gut punch. 

After we were divorced, I was always hoping she would meet someone who would make her very, very happy. Seeing that dress reminded me that she wouldn't be able to now. 

It's hard to know how to deal with that kind of feeling. 

Monday, November 15, 2021


Man, these days now. It's just one gut punch after another. 

Here are some beautiful images from Oxford, taken by a university student who is very familiar to all of you: 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Friday Links!

This is a remarkable story: Pixar lamp and Mystique inspire novel approaches to shapeshifting materials

From Joshua Buergel, and it's amazing: This LEGO build will blow your mind

From David Gloier, and it's a fantastic read: Discovery of Pompeii slaves’ room sheds rare light on real Roman life

From Chris Meadowcraft, and these are beautiful photos: Photos of the Week: Goth Weekend, Dark Moon, Dead Sea

C. Lee, brilliant as always. First, and this doesn't sound good at all, it's Trash and Burn: Big brands' new plastic waste plan. Small badass of the week: 9-year-old unlocks her dad's phone with his face to call 911 as carbon monoxide filled her house. This is terrific: Sid Meier's Gettysburg! Nightmare fuel: Architect Says Billionaire's Dystopian Dorm Design Is a Dangerous Social and Psychological Experiment. This is entirely awesome: NASA Wants Your Help Improving Perseverance Rover’s AI.

From John W., and the skill level is ridiculous: The four-year-old footballer scouted by Arsenal while still at nursery

From Patrick Maura, and all I can say is brace yourself (it's really, really clever): Vank Walen - "Your Jumpin' Heart". This one is fantastic, too: James Hetfield and the News - "Hip to Be the Sandman"

From David H., and this is one tough-ass kid: Meet the 15-year-old blind quarterback hoping to reach the NFL.

From Wally, and this is excellent: What I Learned While Cataloguing an Entire Library of 19th-Century Schoolbooks. I feel like this shouldn't be possible? Vegan Haggises of Glasgow, Ranked. I think we've officially run out of ideas: Heinz Debuts ‘Marz Edition’ Ketchup Made With Tomatoes Grown in Mars-Like Conditions. Incredible painting technique: Dragon. This is a very happy way to end the week: A happy puppy with a big smile.

What I've Learned (two things I forgot)

One, remember that you're in a situation that is more triage than control. Let that help guide your priorities. 

Second, if you have a therapist, get in to see them as soon as possible. If you don't have a therapist, the hospital has social workers and grief counselors, and it's important to talk to someone who has specific experience guiding people who are going through this. Chaplains can be helpful as well. 

It's a little different, talking to someone you might not know, but what people who have this kind of experience do is offer perspective in some small way, which is incredibly helpful. 

An Actual Sentence From an ESPN Announcer

"He's a gamer, he's a baller, he's a winner."

I Don't Know What to Think About This, and Perhaps, Neither Does Satan


In case it's small on your device:

Honestly, that seems like a lot of God aggro (God-gro?).

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

An Extremely Accurate Representation

If you want to know exactly what it feels like to write a book, just watch this (I'm the eagle):

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

What I've Learned

Let's see if I can get through this. 

These are the kinds of things that it's easy to forget when something terrible happens and you can't breathe. "Do you know what it's like on the outside?" is exactly what it feels like, and while it's happening, it's happening to you every second of every day. It's suffocating to a degree that I can't even explain.

Then there are the other things. 

The first time I needed to cross a street after the accident, the street looked a mile wide. I just stood there, staring at the crosswalk, until finally I could force my way across. I still struggle with it now.

When I was about to leave the apartment in the morning to go to the hospital, I'd start crying at the door and have to go back in for a few minutes. 

When I slept at night, which wasn't often, I was in mortal fear of the phone ringing, because it would be the hospital, and no good news ever comes from a hospital in the middle of the night. 

The entire week was a slow decline from despair into hopelessness.

Because of COVID, only two people were allowed to be in the hospital room with Gloria. I was one. The other person was her best friend, who had been crossing the crosswalk with her. 

No one else was allowed, although they did make an exception when Eli 20.3 came to say goodbye. 

I've learned some things, and (god forbid) if you're ever in this situation, maybe this well help. 

I lost six pounds in three weeks. That's bad. You won't think as clearly when you're losing weight at this rate, and you have to make decision after decision, all day long. My problem was twofold: I never thought about eating, and I wasn't hungry when I did. 

I recognized, though, that losing weight at this pace was unsustainable, so I put my eating on a schedule. I had plenty of protein bars, and I set a timer to go off every few hours. I had to choke them down, most of the time, but at least I was eating something. 

It's not easy to stay hydrated in a hospital during COVID. So many places are closed or not easily accessible inside the hospital. You need to have a big water bottle with you, and you need to keep drinking. Don't depend on hospital vending machines, because they break (personal experience, trust me). 

On the fourth day, I finally, fully understood how wrecked I was. I bought one of those stupid Garmin watches so I could monitor my heart rate, because I felt like I needed to be more aware. My resting pulse is around 60, and it was consistently in the 90s (with spikes into the 100s). When I would notice, I would close my eyes and try to breathe deeply for thirty seconds or so. It wasn't much, but it was something, and it stabilized my anxiety to at least a small degree. 

Yeah, you're not sleeping. There's nothing anyone can do about that. Try, though. Even laying in bed for a few hours and just trying to breathe deeply and be calm is a good thing.

Doctors will take time with you and answer every question you have, but you're probably only going to see them once a day. You need to have a notebook with you, and you need to write down every question you have during the day. Organize the list before they come by, and have space to write down their answers. The doctors I talked to were exceptionally helpful, and having a detailed list of questions was very, very useful. 

Talk to the people who you think will help you. Some will know exactly how to do that. Some will want to, but won't have a clue. On a personal level, though, reach out to the people you care about, because they will make you feel better. They certainly did in my case. 

There's another communication layer that's much more complex, and that's notifying everyone about the accident. I felt like many people deserved to be called, and so I called them all, and it was a mistake. I didn't understand how much pain I would absorb when I was already in terrible pain. I broke the heart of everyone I called, and it make me hurt even more. 

If you want to contact people personally, think about using a pod system. Gloria had pods of friends, and I would contact one person in a pod and ask her to contact everyone else in the pod. I eventually just gave updates to her best friend and had her contact the pods. It took some weight off my shoulders. 

When this happened, I thought I could manage it all, and keep everyone satisfied. I couldn't. 

Tragedy reveals character, but not always in the way you expect. Some people will amaze you (Gloria's brother, who has various struggles with mental health, has been the most incredibly gracious, supportive person). Some people won't, and it's guaranteed that someone will be hurt and disappointed by you, even though you're doing absolutely everything you possibly can while you're in inconceivable pain. 

You need to accept that it's going to happen, and you need to let it go. People respond differently to tragedy, and some will respond in a really unhealthy way, and you might be in the crosshairs. Acceptance is hard, but in the context of the tragedy that surrounds you, it's not important. Set up whatever boundaries you need to, but do everything you can to let it go. 

This was the most difficult for me, and I think it's true for most people. So be prepared.

I don't know if this works for everyone, but this is what Eli 20.3 and I are trying to do right now: when we have a bad moment, we let it happen. We feel everything in that moment, and when it passes, we go on. Not having to choke anything back is a relief, really, even though it's painful. And it lets some of the unbearable pressure inside you escape, instead of staying where it could eventually explode. 

I'm much, much more aware when I'm driving now. I see pedestrians and monitor them much more quickly (there are lots where I live, because it's very walking friendly). I'm eating more healthy and making sure I get more exercise. I don't want Gloria's death to not have meaning. Eli and I are already talking about how we can affect other people's lives in a more meaningful manner. 

In that vein, I'd also like to mention organ donation and how it saves the lives of many people. In this case, two kidneys that will give people the chance to continue their lives. 

I don't know if this will help any of you. I hope none of you ever need it. 

Monday, November 08, 2021

The Hammer

The Hammer has been discussed in this space several times previously. 

Here's a text exchange with Eli 20.3 today (he's in italics):

You know that guy in the movies who cuts
hair at a million miles an hour, so you can
barely see his clippers, and then boom
perfect hair cut? Well, I just had a guy who 
THOUGHT he was that guy, but he indeed
was not. I have suffered from The Hammer
of hair stylists. 

Oh my god, I'm laughing so hard. The 
Hammer is everywhere, and you must
constantly be on guard.

And I suffered the consequences.

The Hammer [noun]
The Ham·​mer | \ ˈha-mər\

Definition of The Hammer
1  : a person who evaluates his performance
in a skill based solely on a secondary aspect
which is more immediately impressive but
ultimately less substantial.


Thursday, November 04, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off, and fifty years between novels is incredible, it's the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka Discusses His First Novel in Nearly Fifty Years.

Boy, do I know his this feels: Tripping

This is amazing: Lidar reveals hundreds of long-lost Maya and Olmec ceremonial centers

This is stunning, if it can be replicated: 5-Day Brain Stimulation Treatment Highly Effective Against Depression, Stanford Researchers Find.

This is one of the very few things that made me laugh out loud this week: Schrodingers Cat.

From C. Lee, as always. Well, this is incredible, and not in a good way: Children poisoned by birthday cake decorations loaded with lead, copper. It seems like almost every creature is smarter than we think: Spiders are much smarter than you think. A historical badass: The One-Eyed African Queen Who Defeated the Roman Empire. I believe these are accurate: Six Truths About Video Game Stories. This is a terrific episode of This American Life: An Audience of One: Watching Movies During Lockdown. So much is wrong here: A lost hiker ignored rescuers' phone calls, thinking they were spam. Achievable goals: Man announces he will quit drinking by 2050

From Wally, and this might be useful (except I haven't even heard of most of these breeds): The Naughtiest and Best-Behaved Dog Breeds, According to Instagram. This is thoughtful: Nine-10ths of a Triumph: On John Steinbeck’s “Murder at Full Moon”. This is a fascinating read: The Strange History of the Worst Sentence in English Literature. This is long and super interesting: Board Games of The Ancient World.

A Very Brief Post

I've limped through the week and the Friday Links post is written. Right now, I'm going to call that a win. 

I hope everyone has a good weekend. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

85 Years Later, A Close Resemblance

One of Eli 20.3s tutorials this fall is on George Orwell. 

I've been reading along with him, because I've read Orwell's "classics" (1984, Animal Farm, etc.), but missed out on some of his earlier work. 

Right now, he's just finished Keep the Aspidistra Flying, which is where Orwell wrote some of his most memorable passages (to me, at least). The protagonist (Gordon) works in a seedy lending library with all kinds of semi-lewd content, and one of the books is titled The Man She Trusted.

I burst out laughing when I read that, because of its close resemblance to The Man You Trust.  Eli did, too. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

A Bit of Good News

I was going to mention this a month ago, but then everything went to shit. 

Eli 20.3 is playing hockey again, and he's the starting goalie for Oxford. And it's been great. There are quite a few guys who played juniors, so the team might be pretty good. Oh, and three Rhodes Scholars. 

One of the things I talked to him about five years ago was how VR was going to revolutionize training. Now, it has. He has an Oculus Quest 2 and uses a program called Sense Arena. It's incredibly impressive, and lets him work on all kinds of scenarios that he might not see in practice. 

He's playing two other sports, too. I'll tell you about those some other time. 

Monday, November 01, 2021

The Weekend

I started writing the initial post about how manage a situation like this if it unfortunately happens to you, but I didn't get very far before I had to stop. It's still way, way too hard. So I'm going to limp along for a little while until I feel like I can write it properly. I'm really hoping it will help some of you. 

I woke up without a headache for the first time in three weeks on Sunday. That was good. And I thought the weekend was going to be terrible, since it was the first weekend Eli 20.4 was back in the UK, but it wasn't. It was slightly less then terrible, and I'll take that for now. 

I went over to the house and gave out Halloween candy. Gloria always decorated the yard with all kinds of Halloween items (the witches stocking sticking up from the garden has always been my favorite), and it was so nice to see happy kids getting loads of candy. Over fifty costumes for the Costume Count. 

I couldn't describe what I've been feeling until last Friday, when I suddenly knew exactly how to explain. There's a Bee Gees song (incredibly) titled "New York Mining Disaster 1941." It's actually about Welsh miners trapped in a cave-in, and it's incredibly poignant. One of the miners is talking to another one, both buried beneath the ground, and he says, "Do you know what it's like on the outside?"

That's the feeling. There's another world out there that somehow I'm not a part of right now. I'm in this new, different world, where "normal" doesn't have any meaning anymore. 

I'm going to make a concerted effort to not talk about this too much here. It may take me a week or so, but besides what I hope will be the helpful posts, I'm going to make a conscious effort to write about lighter things. 

Just hang in there with me. 

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