fuck this guy

This guy, I declare. This whiny, small-minded, pissy-pants guy. This privileged, lying, unworthy, lazy, ignorant guy. This vindictive, self-pitying, arrogant, despicable guy. This conceited, fuck-witted, always complaining, cowardly guy. This sour-souled, slack-eyed, gorbellied, muddle-headed guy. The fucking guy is still insisting he won the election.

I am SO sick of this guy. I’m sick of hearing his voice — his griping, carping, sneering voice. I’m sick of hearing his name and seeing it on everything from buildings to flags to signs. I’m sick of his hideous presence on television, which he haunts like some gross and malevolent spectre. I’m sick of his ridiculous hair. I’m sick of seeing his face — his slack-eyed, flaccid, pouty-mouthed, jaundiced face. I’m sick of knowing he even fucking exists. I’m SO goddamned sick of him.

I’m sick of his appallingly ignorant and loathsome adult children. I’m sick of his wife. I’m sick of ALL of his wives. I’m sick of his democracy-hating sycophants in the Senate. I’m sick of his ass-licking toadies in the House of Representatives. I’m sick of all his groveling and cringing ‘news personalities’ on television and in the newspapers. I’m sick of his apologists and enablers. I’m completely sick of his fawning, eyelash-batting, lickspittle Press Secretary. I’m sick of every single goddamned person in his easily-replaced, unprofessional, ill-equipped, odious, merry-go-round of a Cabinet.

Fuck this guy. Fuck everybody in his orbit. Fuck everybody who volunteered to work for him. Fuck everybody who campaigned for him. Fuck everybody who planted one of his yard signs in their yard. Fuck everybody who bought and flew one of his godawful flags. Fuck the people who made and sold the flags. Fuck everybody who voted for him. Seriously, just fuck this guy.

There. I needed that. I feel better now. Normally I read the news in the morning, then think about it for a while, calmly and objectively, before I say or write anything. But this morning that I WON THE ELECTION tweet just flat out pissed me off. It’s a bright sunny day and I didn’t want to let this fucking guy ruin it. So I decided to vent. Get the ugly shit out of my system. Now I can get on with my day and be happy and have fun.

Hope y’all have a good day.

empathy triage

I read the news every morning. It’s part of my routine. I do it almost without thinking. Get up, get dressed, check the perimeter, feed and pet the cat, start the coffee, read the news.

One of the first articles listed in my morning news feed was from The Atlantic magazine. It was titled Why People Who Hate Trump Stick With Him. I started to click on it, partly out of habit and partly because The Atlantic usually has solid reportage — but I didn’t. I read the title again and thought, ‘I really don’t care why people who hate Trump stick with him’. I moved on to the next stories — one about a white man in Wichita who threatened to assassinate the mayor for issuing a mask mandate, and one about a black man in Louisiana who was granted parole after serving 24 years of a life sentence for attempting to steal a pair of hedge clippers.

A million years ago I was a medic in the military. Basic military medical training tends to be focused on casualty and trauma care. In addition to the field fundamentals — stop the bleeding, tend the wound, prep the patient for evac, that sort of thing — we were also taught the essentials of triage. Triage is a system developed by Dominique Jean Larrey during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. It’s a way of sorting mass casualties to determine who should be treated first. It’s a method of directing limited resources toward the best outcome for the majority of the wounded.

Dr. Dominique Jean Larrey, creator of the triage system, during the Napoleonic Wars.

Basically, what it means is that during a mass casualty event, some poor bastard greets the incoming wounded and sorts them into three groups: 1) victims who’ll probably live even without treatment, 2) victims who’ll likely die even with treatment, and 3) victims who have a chance of living if they’re given immediate treatment. Your arm is broken in three places? Yeah, it hurts…but it’s not going to kill you. Wait in the hall. Your arm has been blown off? Yeah, we can fix that, go right on in to surgery. You have two traumatic amputations and a head wound? Here are some M&Ms to tide you over until you bleed out. Sorry.

It’s an ugly job. Necessary, but ugly. But here’s the thing about triage: it focuses only on the wound and the treatment, not on any other characteristic of the victim. Dr. Larrey insisted treatment be based on the seriousness of the injury and the urgency of need for medical care, regardless of the wounded person’s rank or nationality. That meant French doctors would treat a seriously wounded British private before a lightly wounded French officer.

The Trump years have been a struggle for folks who care about other folks, who care about strangers as well as for friends and family. My capacity for empathy has been stretched. I’m now performing a warped sort of empathy triage. I’m most focused on folks who are suffering emotionally and spiritually and not coping very well. They get most of my empathy and support. Folks who are suffering but manage to retain their sense of humor and some degree of optimism, they’re the walking wounded; they’re in pain but they’ll recover. Folks who support Trump — those are self-inflicted wounds from which they probably won’t recover. Here are some M&Ms to tide you over until you bleed out.

Folks who hate Trump but stick with him? Dr. Larrey would be disappointed with me, but I’m out of M&Ms.

best purchase ever

Imagine a collection of ancient pottery shards and some twisted lumps of barbed wire jammed inside a bit of stiff, old fire hose. That’s my knees, after years of injury and abuse. They creak, they pop, they snap, they grind, they rasp. They hurt. At some point I’ll have to return them to the shelf and get some new ones.

But mostly, I’m used to them. I know how to deal with them. I can get them to do most of what I want to do. There’s only one aspect of my life that’s been buggered up by my wonky knees. Cycling. Riding a bike. I used to ride a lot; it was my favorite mode of transportation. I used my bike for fun and to run errands. But it hurt my knees. Seriously hurt them. So a couple of years ago, I put the bike away for the winter; hung it from some hooks in the garage ceiling. Never took it down.

Over the river

This summer I bought an electric bike, thinking I might be able to ride it with minimal knee pain. When I say I bought an ebike, I don’t mean I went to my local bike shop, examined a wide selection of bikes, and made an intelligent, informed purchase. I mean I bought a bike online. Which even now strikes me as a phenomenally loopy thing to do. Who buys a bike they’ve never actually seen except in a photograph? Who buys a bike you can’t test-ride, a bike that costs US$1500 (more than any two bikes I’d ever bought), a bike that has to be shipped from Seattle and would require some assembly on arrival? Who does that?

Me and, it turns out, lots of other folks. And I got to say, it’s the best purchase I ever made.

Through the woods

I bought a Rad Rover Step-thru. It’s an improbable bike. Massive. The damned thing weighs about 70 pounds. More than twice what my trusty old Trek mountain bike weighs. It’s a fat tire bike, and when they say ‘fat tire’ they’re serious. Four inches wide. It’s got disc brakes. It’s got a goddamn brake light in back. What sort of bike has a brake light? When I finished putting it together (with the overly enthusiastic help of my brother), I have to admit being a tad intimidated by the scale of the beast. It’s big.

But once I got on it and started riding, that massive beast of a bike became weirdly tame. It rides easily. It’s not what you’d call ‘nimble’ compared to my mountain bike. Because of its size, the turning radius is slightly larger than I’m used to. But it’s rock solid and steady. And surprisingly fun to ride.

They put chairs along the bike paths here.

Best of all? No knee pain. I’d been hoping for minimal knee pain–an amount of knee pain I could tolerate. The notion of pain-free cycling hadn’t even occurred to me. But I’ve had the bike for about three months and I’ve put just over 500 miles on it–and dude, no knee pain at all. That’s because of the pedal assist function. Everything I’d read about ebikes (before committing to the insane act of buying one) talked about this weird techno-magical whatsit called pedal assist. I never quite understood it what it was or how it worked; they just said it made pedaling easier. Pedal assist was the reason I gambled on the bike.

It works. It really does make pedaling easier. Or it can if you want it to. It turns out pedal assist is exactly what it says it is. It provides a measured boost to the energy with which you pedal, which makes pedaling more efficient and effective. You can ride this bike without any pedal assist, but it wouldn’t be easy; we’re talking about a 70+ pound bike with four inch tires, so you’d have to be desperate or masochistic to do so. At PAS 1 — the lowest level of pedal assist — it makes riding a 70 pound bike feel pretty much like riding a normal bike (except even then it’s easier on the knees). I spend most of my riding time in PAS 1 or 2. I’ve used PAS 3 for a few steep or long hills; I’ve had no reason to use PAS level 5 yet.

Shortly before the first tornado siren.

I did use PAS 4 once, but it was an emergency. I’d stopped to visit with a county worker who was doing some obscure chore in what will eventually be a new suburban neighborhood. As we were chatting, the tornado siren went off. He checked his phone and told me it looked like it wasn’t a drill. I’m fairly casual about bad weather, and since I was only 3-4 miles from home and didn’t see any of the usual signs of a tornado, I wasn’t too concerned. I headed homeward, but I didn’t rush. Until a second tornado siren went off. Two tornado sirens is serious. So I began to hurry a bit. The sky got really dark. A third tornado siren sounded. I’d never heard a third siren before. I put the bike in PAS 4 and was easily doing over 20mph through neighborhoods.

I made it home about three minutes before the storm hit. It wasn’t a tornado. It was a derecho — a fast-moving straight-line storm with hurricane-force winds. And I made it home without knee pain. Totally winded, but no knee pain. I’m a big fan of pedal assist.

In the river valley.

Something I hadn’t expected: the bike gets attention. People are curious about it. At stop lights, people will roll down their car windows and ask me questions. People on sidewalks and bike paths often shout out questions as I’m riding by them. Sometimes I’ll stop and chat with them. “How does it work? How fast will it go? Does it have a throttle? Can you ride it without pedaling? What’s the battery range? Can you get a good workout with an ebike? Isn’t it cheating if the bike does all the work?”

Here are the answers. I’ve had it up to about 25 mph on flat ground; it can go faster, but I’ve never had the need to do it. Yes, it has a throttle, which is handy at stop lights and stop signs; even with pedal assist, it can be a struggle to get a 70 pound bike in motion from a dead stop. The throttle makes it easy to get started, and that’s all I’ve ever used it for. But yes, you can ride it without pedaling, using just the throttle like a moped. The advertised battery range is 25-45 miles, but I’ve ridden 53 miles through hilly terrain on a single charge and the battery wasn’t quite dead. And finally, you sure as hell can get a good workout on an ebike. The pedal assist allows you to make riding as easy or as strenuous as you want. By the way, if you bike for exercise, folks tend to ride farther and longer on an ebike, which increases the amount of exercise you get.

Me, I don’t ride for exercise. I ride for the joy in it.

Out in the country.

The ‘cheating’ question always throws me. I’m not even sure what it means. How can you cheat at recreational cycling? It’s not like you’re competing with anybody. Using electric pedal assist isn’t really any different than using 21 mechanical gears to make pedaling easier. If riding an ebike is cheating, then so is riding a bike with multiple gears. You’re still using the energy of your body to propel the machine.

That said, I do feel a wee bit awkward about overtaking a cyclist in spandex riding up a hill on a 20 pound road bike. Awkward, but not guilty.

Every so often I’ll go on a ride that takes me by a two-story fitness center. The parking lot, even during this pandemic, is usually full of cars. I know that some of the people who drove those cars to the fitness center are inside on stationary bikes, pedaling in a frenzy. They’re undoubtedly getting a more efficient workout than I am. They’re using their time a lot more effectively than I am. But I suspect I’m happier in the saddle than they are, and having more fun.

In the fog.

I’ve nothing against exercise, but I ride just for the pleasure in it. With this bike, I get to go places. I get to see stuff and talk to strangers. I get to turn down streets and pathways with no real sense of where they’ll take me; sometimes I get to be lost and have the tiny adventure of finding my way back. I get to be harassed by Canada geese and chased by storms.

I did a 30 mile ride a couple of days ago, the last half of it into a stiff 18-23 mph headwind. When I got home, my legs were wobbly from exhaustion. But my knees? My knees were laughing their ass off. I love this bike.

mawkish memorial day metaphor

Did my bit yesterday. You know…the ritual of tending the graves for Memorial Day. It’s supposed to be a holiday created by a grateful nation to honor the men and women who died while in military service. Some folks are grateful enough to visit cemeteries, large and small in every corner of the nation, to plant a flag on the grave of every veteran. It’s a pretty idea, isn’t it.

But let’s face it, the nation really isn’t all that grateful, and it’s been years since the holiday was about dead veterans. Modern Memorial Day is more a celebration of consumerism than anything else — like most American holidays. But it’s also expanded beyond its original purpose. There’s still a lot of tending to graves, but it’s no longer limited to veterans.

I’m fine with that. It’s nice to have a day set aside for remembering the dead, whoever they are, however they died. That’s especially true now, when the butcher’s bill for Covid-19 will almost certainly top 100,000 in the next week. Maybe next year somebody will plant a flag on the grave of every Covid-19 victim. I think we, as a nation, will need to find some way to express both our horror and our collective grief at the loss of so many lives. Right now it seems we’re either in shock or denial of the enormity of what’s happening. The fact that it’s still happening — that the pandemic is ongoing — makes it difficult to process. Some events are too catastrophic to comprehend until after they’ve finished, until we know how they end.

Yesterday I visited half a dozen different cemeteries — some in the city, some in the burbs, some in the middle of farmland. Some were nicer than others, some better tended, some busy with other Memorial Day caretakers, some weren’t. I helped tend to graves of family and friends, even those of a few strangers, only about half of whom were veterans.

As usual, I shot a few photographs. I generally delete most of the photos I shoot, especially on Memorial Day.  How many photos do you need of gravestones and flags?

This morning I looked at the photos I shot yesterday. I deleted all but a few. Two of them struck me. One, shot in an urban cemetery, was of the rows and rows of flags — a reminder that there was a time when it was common for American men to do a few years of military service, that it was seen as an honorable thing to do. The other photo was of the farmland just outside a rural cemetery, rows and rows of seedlings growing.

Rows of flags, rows of crops. There are metaphors in those two photos. They’re mostly trite, mawkish metaphors, almost embarrassingly sincere, but they’re also honest. Which is more than I can say for a lot of what we see on Memorial Day. 

still standing

I do like an early morning thunderstorm. It’s nine o’clock in the morning and it’s so dark I have the kitchen light on while I drink my morning coffee and read the news. The rain is falling with a sort of steady insistence, like it’s telling us we can stay inside and act like nothing is happening, but it is not going to stop. The cat is looking resentfully out the window at the rain, unfazed by the sporadic thunder. It’s a pretty solid thunderstorm in terms of rain and thunder, but it’s skimping on the lightning. Maybe it’s storing it up and will give us a show later.

The news tells me that on Friday the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives issued guidelines to allow federally licensed firearm dealers to provide drive-up or walk-up gun sales during this period of isolation. Why? To reduce the health risks posed by the coronavirus. The BATF has a dead solid lock on graveyard humor.

On Facebook one of my Christian senator is wishing me a happy Easter and assuring me ‘He has risen’. I hope she’s not referring to that dark, malignant force haunting the White House, ghoulishly presiding over the drown-in-the-fluid-that-fills-your-own-lungs pandemic. Speaking of which, the butcher’s bill in the U.S. will exceed 21,000 deaths at some point today.

This morning the Twitterverse is, as usual, like Jabberwocky written by the illegitimate child of Oscar Wilde and Charlie Manson (just go with me on this; I don’t need a lesson in biology). It’s clever and hateful and funny and malicious and witty and snarky and so incredibly stupid and full of fascinating information and confusing as hell. Twitter is probably like a lot of family gatherings.

~ ~ ~

I’ve forgotten what point I’d intended to make when I started writing this morning. I got distracted by this photograph. I saw it on Twitter. If Twitter can be believed — and I want to believe this is true — this is a photograph of an ICU nurse who has worked 65 hours in the last week. I’ve been looking at and thinking about this photo for about an hour.

I don’t know this woman’s name, or where she works, or who shot the photo. I don’t really know anything at all about her. But I recognize her. I recognize that look. I know she’s on the ragged edge of exhaustion, discouraged, worn down by grief and duty. I don’t know who she is, and I know she can’t save us. But I also know she’ll try. And I know that after a few hours of sleep, she’ll be back at it. So will all of her colleagues.

Today I’ll stay inside, dry and warm. I’ll read my book, I’ll cook some food, I’ll do a little housework, I’ll do a bit of writing, I’ll feed and pet the cat, I’ll continue to check in on social media. At some point tonight I’ll watch an episode of Breaking Bad and maybe an episode of some other show. I’ll fill up every hour of the day, but I’ll never be busy and I’ll never be uncomfortable and I’ll never have to make a decision more difficult than what to cook for supper.

But I know I’ll return, over and over, to this photograph. It’s that powerful; it’s that compelling. Right there — everything that can be said about the power of photography is right there. Everything that’s good and noble about humankind, right there. Everything that can be said about sacrifice and dignity and dedication and love and compassion, right there. Everything that is heart-crushing, that is hopeful, that is beautiful, that is desperately sad and deeply caring and incredibly tough and still tender, it’s all right there.

I hope my Christian senator sees this photograph. I’m glad she finds some comfort and strength in her belief that ‘He has risen’. Me, I’m drawing my strength and comfort from knowing that this woman, whoever she is and wherever she is, is still standing.

ventilate, from the latin ‘ventulus’ meaning ‘a breeze’.

Comrade President Donald Trump is, of course, the worst possible leader in any sort of crisis. Because he views everything through a transactional lens, he’s singularly inept when it comes to a medical crisis. I mean, I understand he dislikes criticism, even (or especially) when it’s deserved. But to delay or withhold critical medical equipment from a state because that state’s governor was mean to you? Jesus suffering fuck, what a petty-minded, vindictive thing to do.

But here’s Trump:

I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’

I have some experience with ventilators. This is how old I am: I was a medic when the military first began developing specialized respiratory therapy units. I was assigned to the first RT unit at the medical center where I was stationed. There were only six medics in the unit, two of whom were senior NCOs whose duties were largely supervisory. The other four of us did the actual work — which meant we worked 24 hour shifts. One day on, two or three days off.

Sometimes we were busy, sometimes we spent most of a 24 hour shift sitting around waiting for an emergency. For the most part, we spent our shifts giving positive pressure breathing treatments, nebulizing patients with asthma, checking on patients getting oxygen through nasal O2 tubes. For critically ill or ICU patients, we also set up and managed the ventilators.

The Bennett PR2, our primary volume ventilator back in the day.

There are basically two types of mechanical ventilators — pressure ventilators and volume ventilators. The ventilators you hear about on the news are volume ventilators, which allow patients with incapacitated lungs to breathe. It’s that simple. Without the aid of a ventilator, patients with badly damaged lungs will probably die.

We had a total of six volume ventilators. We rarely needed more than three. But ‘rarely’ means we sometimes needed more. And there were times during my career when we needed seven.

Bird Mk7 — this is what it used to look like.

You can see the problem. When you have six volume ventilators and seven patients who need them to breathe, somebody has to go without. Somebody dies. The doctors make that decision. They decide that Patient A has a better chance of survival than Patient B.

But it’s the technicians who do the work.

Nobody tells you how do that. Remember, this was a new unit. There was no written process — no manual detailing what to do about unhooking a living person from a ventilator. And the first time we got the order, we didn’t have time to consider how to do it. Patient A needed the ventilator. So we winged it.

I unhooked the ventilator from Patient A, the supervisor moved the ventilator to Patient B, and I stayed with Patient A. Until his damaged lungs stopped working. Until his body stopped struggling to draw air. Until he stopped gasping and making sucking noises. Until his heart stopped. Until he died.

After the first time, that became the process. We felt somebody needed to stay with the patient until the patient became a body. We felt the person who unhooked the patient was the person who should stay. If you’re going to kill somebody, you have some sort of an obligation to stay with them until they’re dead.

I’ve had to do that five times.

Patients die. Sometimes even with the assistance of a volume ventilator, the patient dies. That’s part of the job and you accept that. But it’s one thing to have a patient die; it’s another thing to kill them. Even if you’re following a doctor’s orders, even if there’s logic and reason behind the decision, the fact remains that you’re killing somebody.

What it looks like now.

I’m sure things are different now. That was a long time ago in a military hospital and military hospitals operate under slightly different rules than civilian hospitals. As a medic I was allowed — and sometimes even required — to do stuff that wouldn’t be allowed in a civilian hospital. I’m sure now there are medical ethicists who get involved in the process, and there are detailed written procedures outlining the circumstances under which a patient can be removed from a ventilator. I’m sure it’s a lot more regimented and orderly and lawyerly now.

But when it happens, there still going to be some poor bastard doing the ugly work.

Like I said, it was a long time ago and I haven’t thought about this very often over the last few years. I mean, you see something in a hospital scene on television or in a movie and it comes immediately back. But the sad fact is that killing those five people isn’t even in the top five of my most common ugly memories.

At least it wasn’t until recently. Now, because of the news, I remember those five people a few times every day. I remember sitting or standing by their beds, holding their hands, watching and waiting for their bodies to give up and die. And when I hear Trump say nobody needs thirty thousand ventilators, I think about that thirty thousand and first patient. And I think about the poor bastard who’s going to have to kill somebody in order to try to save somebody else.

a short list of things I’d like to see in 2020

Last year at this time I put together a short list of things I’d like to see in 2019. I didn’t see any of those things. I didn’t really expect to, but still. Seriously, would it kill the Universe to do something nice for a change?

Anyway, it’s been a year so I thought I’d do it again. My expectations remain low. I’ll probably include a couple of items from last year’s list; if so, I’ll put a double asterisk beside them (why a double asterisk? I don’t know; it seemed right). So here, in no particular order, are some things I’d like to see in 2020:

— More greenspaces in cities and suburbs. And not highly manicured spaces, or spaces where they just let shit grow without caring for it, but spaces that are maintained while still allowing nature to take its course.
— Brett Kavanaugh busted for DWI.**
— A remake of the Highlander television show. I generally hate remakes, whether they’re movies or tv show, because the remake is almost always worse and more stupid. But Highlander had so much potential, and it only lived up to that potential about 25% of the time. Which ain’t bad for television, but still.
— A woman president. It would be stupid to vote for a woman for president simply because she’s a woman, but lawdy there are SO MANY qualified women out there. It’s WAY more stupid that a woman candidate has to be massively more qualified than a man in order to be seen as equal.
— Which reminds me. I’d like to see the patriarchy smashed into tiny shards, those shard ground into dust, that dust buried deep in the earth, the earth above it salted so that nothing will grow there for a thousand years. Or so.
— Which also reminds me. Donald Trump and his family of grifters and traitors in handcuffs.**
— Ditto his corrupt supporters in Congress.
— More front porches on houses. And friendly people sitting on them. In rocking chairs. Or swings.
— More electric modes of transportation. More electric cars, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, bicycles, skateboards.
— Streaming services that allow you to buy specific shows without having to subscribe to the actual service. I’ve no desire to subscribe to Disney, but I’d like to see The Mandalorian. I’ve no desire to give money to Jeff Bezos, but I’d like to see Fleabag.
— The end of single use plastic bottles.
— Quiet spaces. Both indoors and outdoors. Spaces specifically set aside in which sounds are muffled or stifled. Businesses that commit to quietness would be given tax breaks.
— A ban on firearm magazines holding more than ten rounds.
— World Bollard Day. A day in which bollards are recognized and decorated around the globe. (I sort of mentioned this last year, but only seeking more respect for bollards; now I want them celebrated.)
— Reality Winner released from prison.
— More dogs welcomed in public venues. Coffee shops, libraries, taverns, etc.
— And, of course, actual usable pockets in women’s clothes. It’s 2020, for fuck’s sake.**

As before, I’m sure there’s other stuff, but this is all I could come up with while waiting for the coffee makings to become coffee.

What about you? What would you like to see in the coming year?

Addendum: Just wanted to include this: More shows/movies/anything starring Merritt Wever. Hell, I’d even watch a remake of Highlander with Merritt Wever as the Highlander. She’s that good.

all the horrible things

I’m kinda down this morning. I had one of my bi-annual PTSD nightmares last night, and this morning it’s gloomy and rainy and cold, and Comrade Trump is…okay, wait. I should probably oughta take a short (honest, it’ll be short) tangent here.

Everything is horrible.

Kinda down is what I have instead of depression. I don’t really get depressed. I used to think I did, until I talked to folks who experience real depression — and you guys, that’s a whole nother thing. That shit sound really fucking grim. Kinda down is basically just a short-term grumbly dissatisfied unhappiness. I’ll be kinda down for…I don’t know, maybe a few hours, tops. Or until the cat does something weird. Or I see something interesting somewhere. I may have an entire day in which…no, that’s not true — maybe an entire morning or afternoon…that’s sporadically, episodically kinda down, but that’s about it. This is how lightly kinda down sits on me: when I get kinda down, I also feel kinda grateful that I don’t get actually depressed. The truth is kinda down is a pretty candy-ass negative emotional state.

So, I’m kinda down this morning because (see above)…and Comrade Trump is still horrible and still POTUS. His POTUSish days are probably numbered because of the coming election, but the bloated bastard is still lumbering around in the White House, and that casts an ungly (yeah, I misspelled ‘ugly’ there, but I sorta like the way ‘ungly’ looks and sounds as a word) shadow on the entire United States.

No, really, things are horrible.

I’m kinda down because yesterday in San Diego a man shot and killed his wife and his three sons, then killed himself. I’m not down because of the murders themselves (though I probably ought to be, because that’s just horrible); I’m kinda down because killing your whole family and yourself doesn’t count as a mass murder. Seriously. The most common definition of a mass murder (and c’mon, it’s fucking horrible that we have to have define it) states the murders have to take place in a public place in which four or more people are killed in a single episode, excluding domestic, gang, and drug violence. This guy killed 1) his family 2) at home so hey, bingo, NOT a mass murder.

And I’m kinda down because Venice is underwater, and the air quality in Delhi is so bad some ‘entrepreneurs’ have opened an ‘oxygen bar’ where they SELL a few gulps of fresh air to folks who can afford to pay for it, while Trump continues to roll back EPA clean air and water regulations, and his mob of MAGAwits are still falling for the lie that climate change is a hoax.

No, horribler than that.

I’m kinda down about an article I read on some Irish news site (yeah, I periodically check Irish news sites because I’ve Irish roots, and Irish news is so much nicer that US news; the Irish are maybe the happiest miserable people in the world, with the possible exception of the Finns because, c’mon, those poor bastards have to live in Finland) about how difficult it is for trans folks to shop for clothes. Shopping for clothes ought to be really easy for everybody. You need a shirt, you go to a store, you find a shirt you like, you buy the damned shirt…that’s it. It never occurred to me how buying a shirt (or a blouse or pants or whatever) would be so massively difficult and traumatic for trans folks. But of course it is. Why doesn’t Target or Kohl’s just create a sort of trans-wear section, like they have for young men or sportswear or coffee pots, for fuck’s sake. You know, just some place where trans folks can buy a pair of pants without having to deal with other folks’ horribleness.

I’m also kinda down because yesterday I picked up my camera and didn’t remember how to use it. I’m talking about my actual camera camera (well, one of them) instead of using the camera in my phone, and when I say I didn’t remember how to use it, I mean I’ve forgotten how to do certain technical things (like use spot metering NOT in the middle of the frame, if that makes sense). Technical things that were second nature to me a year or two ago. And was the menu organization always that cumbersome? Am I going to have to be reduced to using program mode for a while? I mean, program mode? Did gremlins get hold of my camera as it sat idle on the shelf and re-arrange everything while I wasn’t looking?

Also? I’m kinda down because…well, no. It’s over now. I really wanted to get one more horrible thing here — and lawdy, there are SO MANY horrible things — but I got a Twitter notification so I looked away and lawdy, Stephen Fry has posted a photo of himself with something approximating a mustache. And now the cat wants my attention, and there are brownies for breakfast, and tonight I’ll watch the new episode of The Good Place and despite all the horrible things…sorry. I almost said something trite and ‘inspirational’ here, and there’s nothing more annoying than trite inspirational stuff.

So, that’s it then.