Pressurized

Shortly after getting home, my wife called, “Can you go down to the drug store and pick up the prescription I just phoned in?”

“Sure,” I said as I grabbed my keys and beat feet out the door.

Once there, I had to wait around for them to get filled. Bored with walking around the store, I sat down to wait.

That’s when I saw the blood pressure machine.

“What the hell,” I thought as I sat down to get myself a reading.

One-fifty-five over 81 read the screen. Once again, I took it, but the numbers weren’t much better.

“Well,” I thought, “these store machines are notoriously miscalibrated. I’ll go home and take it the old-fashioned way.”

Once home, I pulled out my old stethoscope and pressure cuff and took my B/P a third time. The numbers were worse than ever, 171 over 90.

One-forty-four over 77 is normal for a man of my age. So, yes, dangerously high, and I immediately called the VA and scheduled an appointment.

The irony of ironies — I was at the drug store to pick up my wife’s blood pressure medication, which she’s been on for the last decade.

Rented Danger versus my Dented Ranger

Because she needed her car as she didn’t have a ride home from work, and I didn’t have a way to deliver newspapers, my wife did the deed, renting a vehicle for me. Since I usually drive a 1998 Ford Ranger, she got a 2022 Ford Ranger.

While they call it a mid-sized truck, the newer beast is a giant compared to my old truck. I found this out the hard way as I exited the vehicle only to discover I was like 12-stories off the ground.

Thankfully, I grabbed the door frame, preventing myself from falling. I would do this twice more, plus catch my foot on the step under the door, something my truck does not have.

Aside from all of that, this new Ford is all electronic, meaning the damned thing is more intelligent than me. It has a backup camera built into the dashboard, flashing lights in the side-view mirrors to warn of cars caught the blind spot, and a noisy whine that lets the driver know when they are too close to something with the front bumper.

Unfortunately, I still have yet to figure out how to preset the radio or figure out what all the buttons with their neato graphics do. And I will never get the chance to learn either as it goes back to the rental lot on the sixth day.

While delivering papers and parked in a casino lot, a man drove by and yelled at me: “Go back to California!” That’s because it’s registered to that state and the license plate reflects this.

I laughed at him and his 1970s orange VW Bug with his Oregon license plate and expired registration tags.

Seeing Yellow

Since the sun rises earlier during these days, it has become easy to see the many large-sized skidmarks left on the asphalt from semi-trucks, most loaded with rock, gravel, or dirt, as the drivers of these trucks must brake hard to prevent running a red light. I’m not talking about one or two, but several showing that the truck’s operator, who was traveling over 55 miles per hour, had to bring their vehicle to a stand-still or end up in a crash.

Of course, no one at NDOT would listen to the public, which warned the agency about the danger. After all, no one is a better engineer than a planner seated behind their desk in a comfortable chair.

Hopefully, the pencil-necked lughead who formalized the decision is happy with themselves and will remain so even after someone gets killed when one of these big rigs fails to stop in time. And I hope it isn’t me that gets killed.

Unelected decision-making bureaucrats are nothing but a menace to society, no matter at what level of government they work.

Podcast Update

“Guilty as charged, your Honor,” I said as I pointed an accusing finger at myself.

For this, I am the Judge, jury, executioner, and defendant. Okay, so I’m blowing everything out of proportion, but what is a little exaggeration amongst friends?

Since mid-April, I have not recorded a podcast. But I do have my reason for not having done so, and here it is in a nutshell: audience indifference.

No, I am not blaming you. Audience indifference means I have not found a subject interesting enough to cause you to want to listen.

For some reason, I thought podcasting would come easy to me than it has. Sure, I could go the talk-radio route and piss you off with political rants, but that would leave me with one less listener, and that’s not a good business practice.

In the end, I stare at my microphone, and it stares back at me, and together we get nothing done.

Keycarded

It finally happened. And I was not only mad at myself for it, but I felt pretty stupid for having done it.

I drove thirty minutes from home to the radio station and forgot my key card to gain entry to the building.

What makes this so bad is I raced home to get the card, which I have attached to a red and yellow “1-800-Marines” lanyard, and then could not find it. Talk about being in a panic.

As I stood in the front room, wondering where I might have left it, the thought came to me: the car’s center console. And that’s where I found the damned thing, but still, I was fifteen minutes late to work.

Now I wear it even when I sleep.

The Day Long

Work, eat and sleep. Those are the three ingredients that make up my life at present.

It’s not a complaint but a statement of fact. I’m up by 4 a.m. and out of the house thirty minutes later, heading for the radio station.

Two stops an hour to present, first the traffic report and then the weather report is not a hard job.

My wife and I have been carpooling out of necessity since my truck remains in the shop. It isn’t anyone’s fault, just an unfortunate run of “bad luck.”

I don’t believe in luck, so you know it’s grim when I resort to using it to describe that situation.

The truck is nearly a quarter of a century old. It has become hard to find parts when it needs repairing.

By 8 a.m., I finished, and not a minute later, I am out the door and heading home as I have two newspapers that need written articles. That entails about 4,000 words per edition.

Tuesdays are my deadline for the papers.

Thursdays and Fridays, I drive 45 miles to print the newspapers I write for and then deliver them, driving around 160 miles, in addition to my morning air shift. They are my long days.

By 7 p.m., my bedtime, I am as worn out as a Marine recruits toothbrush after being used to clean the head.

Bogged

Something tells me that I might best return to writing fiction stories rather than churning out little diatribes about daily life. Not even poetry, or what supposedly passes for poetry in my mind, seems to be attractive to you.

It is a case of being caught between a rock and a hard place. I thought it would be easier to write as if I were doing a newspaper column, but my creativity has run into a mud-flat, where it has become bogged down and hard to move forward.

If you have ever ridden a bicycle along a riverbank or a lagoon or lake that is dependent on an outside source to keep it full, you know what I mean.

Until I figure out what next to do, I’ll keep pedaling like hell.

Broken Arm

Whose arm is that? I think I know.
Its owner is quite sad, though.
It is a tale of woe,
They watch him frown. She cries hello.
He gives his arm a shake,
And sobs until the tears make.
The only other sound’s the break,
Distant cars and birds awake.
The arm is broken, swollen, and deep,
But he has promises to keep,
Until then, he shall not sleep.
He lies in bed with ducts that weep.
He rises from his bitter bed,
With thoughts of sadness in his head,
He rejoices at not being dead.
Facing the day with very little said.

Diner

The empty passenger cars
joined by the rotting diner.
It too is empty, bare
and abandoned, desiccating
In hot summer sun.
It is of that one greater generation gone,
How I mourned the awful sight.
Down, down, down into the darkness of memory’s tunnel,
Quickly it goes by, obscured, forgotten, a shadow.
Pay attention to these rolling ruins,
They shall never come ’round again.
How soon we forget the one-time living.

Comme Ci, Comme Ça

Update on my arm — upper left radial and lower humorous adjacent to the elbow. Damn, it hurts!

Since I cannot type with one hand, I thought it would be okay to remove my sling and the forearm supported by my desk and set to work banging out four-thousand words in various news stories.

It worked very well, thank you. I will say that my arm was slightly sore once done, but other than that, Comme ci, comme ça.

Then my wife asked me to bring a 24-can case of Pepsi into the kitchen. Without thinking, I lifted it with my left hand, attached to my left arm, and yee-ow-za!

The pain was blinding. After getting the case to the kitchen counter, I quickly sat down and let the sweat drip from me.

An hour later, my son and daughter-in-law came over for a visit. With them, they brought Honey, their dog.

With it being 80 degrees and the dog wearing a sweater put on her to battle the morning chill, I decided to remove it. That is when my left arm, still in the sling and yet in use, made an audible pop, and I nearly passed out from the pain.

Yup — I broke the effing thing. It is one more thing on a list of many things that have not gone well this year.

Glitch

Recently, I encountered a mountain lion as I was leaving the print shop one late night. Then the fed’s trapped one near Genoa, some 30 miles southwest of Virginia City.

While we don’t know if it is that cat, we did do some speculating that it could be. A news story about the capture and how I had seen one made the Comstock Chronicle, one of the papers I write for and print.

Bringing an extra copy home, one leftover from my delivery route, my wife took note of the story.

“You never told me about this,” she said.

“No, I didn’t,” I said. “I’m stupid, but not dumb. I figured it was better that you didn’t know since I had to be up there after dark the next week.”

“Oh,” she said. “Thank you, and I love you for that.”

I’m still wondering if there was a glitch in the matrix.

Friggatriskaideka

Yes, Friggatriskaidekaphobia is real.

For me, the date and day usually hold good things. The last Friggatriskaideka was no exception, but my good fortune did not come to me in the usual way.

While delivering newspapers, it is often hard to find a parking spot. Visitors and business owners tend to take up the available spaces.

There are five kinds of parking spaces — curbs without markings, curbs with red, yellow, or green paint, paid parking lots, and far-away parking spots.

The plain ones are the hardest to find. The red ones mark fire hydrants, the yellow is for deliveries, and the green, 15-minute parking.

Unfortunately, I pulled into a green spot the wrong way as a shop owner’s car and an antique bicycle blocked the use of the closest yellow zone. After delivering to a nearby saloon, I saw law enforcement roll up with flashing lights.

I let the pair in the car know I was delivering papers and I would be moving along in a minute.

That was not satisfactory as one got out of the unit and said, “I’m going to cite you for driving the wrong way.”

“You can’t do that,” I said. “It’s a misdemeanor and you have to witness me doing it to write me a ticket. I am parked in the wrong direction though, so you have every right to ticket me for that.”

“We have ourselves a lawyer,” the other said.

“Let me drop these off and then you can cite me,” I asked. “But when you do, will you please print both of your names and rank on it so I can write an article about how you are protecting the citizens of this town?”

“A threat?” the one with the ticket book asked.

“No,” I said, “I jus’ wanna explain how you two overlooked the two violations across the street since nine this morning only to ticket me while working.”

Both looked at where I pointed, “I’m sure it’s on surveillance somewhere, including how you’ve managed to ignore both since beginning your shift.”

The one with the citation book snapped it shut, saying, “Make it quick, then move on.”

Yup, Friggatriskaideka has always been good to me.

The Power of the Christian Hypocrite

Weeks back, I attended church with my son and daughter-in-law. It was a ‘Share Your Testimony’ Sunday, and being moved by the Holy Spirit, I did.

Unbeknownst to me, the entire service was video recorded for later Internet streaming. Anyway, I expressed how God talks to me like a drill sergeant would a Marine recruit, meaning he cusses and can be harsh when I fail to heed his direction.

My testimony offended many people attending through the superhighway, telling the preacher that God does not talk like that. So the powers that be edited me from the stream to quell the outrage.

It was easy to see the hypocrisy.

Then I learned the preacher also addressed the issue with the congregation, agreeing with the complainants. If I see this so-called preacher, I will ask about the old saw, “God meets sinners where they’re at” and how can anyone righteously judge my relationship with God, speaking for Him?

Actions like these are why I do not like organized religion and stopped attending church years ago.

Shifting Places

While I survived changing a tire without hurting my back, I did manage to trip over our front porch steps with both feet and fall. Fortunately, I did not break the arm I extended during the tumble.

And I’m unashamed to say that I lay on the cement for a few minutes than needed, enjoying its coolness. This evening though, I’m sorting an ice pack and sling.

Being a quick study, I’m learning how to type with one hand, finding it serious business but feasible. Drinking whiskey to deaden the throbbing of my heartbeat as it pounds through my arm is also doable and every bit as earnest.

My opinion is that I am no longer simply adulting but have taken up the more significant mantle of senioring.

Pliers

It is nice when I can find some humor in a situation I don’t particularly like.

Namely, I had to help my daughter-in-law change a flat tire on her already wrecked car. And as usual, it did not go smoothly for me.

First, I have to take care not to hurt my already fragile back any further than what sitting, standing, and laying do for it. Secondly, being rear-ended, the compartment holding the spare was crumpled.

On top of that, the screw securing the spare in the tire well was bent, and I could not get the fly-nut off. After pounding at it with that thing claiming to be a jack-handle, I asked my daughter-in-law if they had a pair of pliers.

She looked at me puzzled, “What do they look like.”

I suppressed a chuckle as I sent her to their apartment to find one.

She soon returned without the pliers, but by then, I had used the jack handle as a lever to loosen the fly-nut and pry the tire out of place. Within minutes I had the flat off and the donut on, and I did it without hurting myself.

Robert ‘Robby’ Van Dusen, 1962-2022

His last words to me were, “Very. Fung. Shway.”

It was a comment from Robby on a painting I had finished and posted to my social media site. Like everyone else, I had no idea it would be the final time I’d hear from him.

Before I get there, let me go here.

Fifty years before, we thought we had lost him. I say “we” because it was a small town, and our school was even smaller, so when tragedy struck, it felt like the world had crumbled on everyone.

Robby Van Dusen had drowned, was revived, and on life support. Reports were that he’d been in the water for over 20 minutes and that doctors had called time-of-death and were walking away when he coughed himself back to life.

It wasn’t his time back in the day, but that changed on Thu., May 5, when, for a second time, when doctors removed his life support. On that day, Robby returned home again.

Once he returned to school, Robby seemed slower than the other kids. He had to relearn to eat, walk, and talk before being released from the hospital.

While it seemed unfair and hard to watch Robby struggle, he was at peace with it all. He would later say that he had seen Heaven, a claim that elicited snickers and unmerciful teasing.

A few days ago, Robby fell off a ladder, breaking his pedicle, or partes interarticulares, of his axis vertebra, or the second cervical vertebra. The process is colloquially known as a ‘hangman’s fracture.’

At times like this, I tend to question God’s judgment, asking Him, what is the effing point?

Jus’ the Fax, Ma’am

It was another late night of printing the newspaper. It took about seven hours to finish up, meaning it was about 11 p.m. as I headed to the car and home.

Yes, I am still having my truck worked on. Once the price tag had reached the five thousand dollar mark, I decided I may as well break the bank and have the repair go through the aging beast with a fine-toothed comb.

At any rate, operating on only four hours of sleep, I managed to do my radio show, which I can’t find on the Internet and now feel compelled to ask about, and I delivered all of my papers. Then I did my best, and without breaking the law, to beat feet back to the radio station for a staff meeting.

Five minutes late, I arrived to learn of its cancellation, and an email dispatched telling me so. An email — I never thought once to check my email when a text is so much more common these days.

I’m surprised no one sent me a fax.

You Can’t Debride Some Memories

While in the Air Force, before the Marine Corps, I was called up by my squadron commander, Capt. Smith to help out at Brooke Army Medical Center because I had paramedic training. They had received a fight from Okinawa of 20 or 25 Marines severely burned in a JP4 fuel fire. Between studies and drills, I reported to the Army’s premier burn center to assist in debriding the dead or necrotic skin from these injuries.

The duty left me mentally scarred but gave me the desire to become a Jarhead myself, though I had no idea of this then. Odd, I know.

Then my wife came home from work with a deep burn to her left upper arm. She refused to go to the hospital, leaving it up to me to clean and dress.

While I did my best for her, she will have one hell of a scar once it heals. Third-degree burns are like that.

It was hard not to think about how those Marines sang the Marine Corps Hymn at the top of their lungs and shouted encouragement to one another as they endured the scrubbing and picking until raw, healthy flesh was all that showed.

Root Word

Ever since moving to Nevada and learning who Alfred Doten is, I have been an admirer of his. Known for his diary, Doten chronicles life in Nevada in general and the Comstock in particular from when he arrived around 1849 till his death in 1903.

With all that said, I have kept a journal since 1969. I say “journal,” because a friend of mine teased me severely once — “Diaries are for girls and sissies, which are you?”

It is only today, being this many days and years, and decades-old, that it dawned on me that journal is the root word for journalist. Duh!

Morning Show

Since beginning my so-called radio career in 1976, I’ve never been “good enough” to do a morning show. Sadly, my ego has always been at odds with that.

Finally, after 46-years, I am doing a morning show and doing it solo, meaning I have no one else in the studio with me. All I am doing is fulfilling the technical aspects of a radio jock.

Technical aspects? Yes, call letters or imager in and out of all spots-sets, where commercials play. I back-announce the song jus’ played, maybe say my name, tease two or three artists and then provide the weather or traffic.

It is a simple, music-oriented show and not personality-driven. It suits me fine as I don’t have a rapid-fire speech pattern, and I do not enjoy providing small talk unless I am face to face with another person.

Gaslit: Match is Struck

Having come home, I found the chip bag and the dip container on the kitchen counter and the missus with her arms folded beside them in the most menacing style.

Thankfully, she does not own a rolling pin.

Our next-door neighbor saw me put trash in her garbage can sitting at the curb in the street when I walked by it. She removed it from the can, presenting it to my wife unceremoniously, and told her that “he better not do it again, or I’ll call the cops.”

Not only is my wife unhappy that I gaslighted her, but it also left her embarrassed that I involved our shitty neighbor. I have whatever she’s got in store coming to me.

In practical jokes terms, this is called a bomb. And it has dropped on me.

BOOM!

From Dead to Killed

Decided that I needed a new electric razor. You know your razor has turned to the dark side when it begins nicking you to the point you bleed.

“I am your razor, Tom!”

“Nooooo!”

Okay, enough with the Star Wars-like dialogue.

Spent twenty bucks on one that I believed would last me at least a couple of years. Once home, I plugged it in and let it charge.

Twenty-four hours later, I unplugged it, flipped the tab to the on position, and nothing. Plugging it back in didn’t help it either.

Again nothing.

So I put everything back in the bag, including the hardened plastic that took me fifteen minutes to cut through, and took it back to the store. Finally, I get to the return counter and explain how it does not work.

The woman looked at the hardened plastic, back at me, then back to the plastic casing it was packaged in, and said, “We can’t take this back the container is too damaged.”

“Say what?” I shouted.

The assistant manager heard and asked, “What’s the trouble?”

The returns woman explained, I explained, and the assistant manager explained, “I’m sorry, but she’s new here. Come down here, and I’ll get you your money back.”

I felt suddenly killed with kindness.