Recent Most Annoying Words, Turns of Phrase

Issue – Apparently, there are no problems anymore, only issues. My inbox is replete with sentences such as, “If you have any issues with the new release, please feel free to reach out to me.” So now if your child misbehaves she’s not a problem child, no no, she’s a child with issues. In the new world things no longer break, no sir, they merely have issues.

Reach Out Happy Wife especially despises this one. Even in professional contexts she too frequently hears, “We will reach out to the patient to… blah blah.” Oh, you mean you will contact the patient (to blah blah)? “Yeah, whatever, that’s what I said.” No, you said…never mind.

As I point out in my book – Number two on Happy Wife’s most-annoying phrases list. Prefacing the point you’re about to make with self-promotion is annoying. I agree. Stop that authors, whoever you are.

Like – I should’ve listed this one first. Listen closely (if you’re able) to a conversation between two modern millennials, and you’ll hear something similar to this – “So like, we were at my car, and he was like, what’s up with your face? And I was like, whatever. And then he like starts walking away and I’m like, screw you. And then, like, he turns around and says, ok, like, I didn’t mean that, and I’m like, ok, whatever, just get in the car. And then, like, for the rest of the day he’s like it never happened.”

No Parking

It was near midnight when HW and I heard the crash. I leapt out of bed, lowered the shade, peered out the window. “Damn, would you look at that, there’s a car in our backyard!” It’s July, midnight, so not totally dark. Even through our bedroom window (closed) I hear loud voices, sounds like people arguing. I lower the shade some more, get a better look. Shit, an eight foot section of wood fence (one of four destroyed) is jacked up in the air, over the hood of the car. The Mountain Ash tree is down (sorry Mom & Dad).

I throw on a pair of shorts and run downstairs, cell phone in hand. HW follows, frantic and pissed, with Black Dog in tow, visibly unsettled. At the base of the stairs, through the frosted glass on the front door I make out what I think is a human form turning to retreat down the porch steps. I find APD (Anchorage Police Department) in my contacts and touch “Call.” (Wait, maybe instead I should phone a community sympathizer expert in conflict resolution? Nah). Then I’m out the back door into the yard. The grass is chilly on my bare feet. I’m bare chested. The lawn is strewn with pieces of fence and car parts (a Chevy Cruze it turns out). I step carefully to avoid the debris, especially rusted wood screws. A Pacific Asian man (as I described him to the APD officer who eventually showed up an hour later ) appears. He sees I’m on the phone, appears to panic, gets in the car, starts it, puts it in reverse and tries to back away. The rear tires spin and squeal on the pedestrian path. No go, ain’t happening, the car is dead stuck, high-centered on the Mountain Ash, the right A-arm is bent, the hood is taco’d, windshield smashed. Suddenly, an overweight woman appears on the path, frantically waving a cellphone and shouting, “There was a dog…in the street… I didn’t want to hit it!” Granted, I was a bit groggy, but that pegged my bullshit meter.

I look at them both, they’re standing together on the path, maybe six feet from me. (And no masks – what’s wrong with these people!). I ask the man, “Can you tell me the license plate number, it’s bent, I can’t make it out, I have APD on the phone.” This last seems to alarm them. Poof, off they go, west, hurriedly down the path. That was last I saw of them. Our neighbor also heard the crash. He later told me he briefly spoke with the woman as she and the man walked staggered past his house. “Rod,” he said, “She was drunk, slurring her words.”

It was later, around 3:30 am, nearly dawn, HW and I are back in bed, Black Dog is resettled on the floor, when we hear the tow truck arrive – Beep Beep Beep – and then the twisting, crunching, moaning of the fence as it collapses around the car being dragged away. A half hour passes, there’s a knock at the front door. I jump up from bed again, HW restless next to to me. I throw on shorts and a sweatshirt, hobble downstairs. It’s the APD officer, she hands me a card with a case number printed on it, we exchange questions and answers. She asks me to reconfirm the description of the perps. I do. She confirms they haven’t been found (yet), but if/when they are, there will be criminal charges for fleeing the scene of an accident. She shares the name of the car owner, tells me he lives on the Kenai peninsula, 150+ miles from Anchorage.

Took all day Friday to clean up the mess and erect a temporary solution to keep Black Dog in – and the moose out of – the backyard. HW spotted a Mountain Ash she liked at the nursery. Estimates on fence repair are a week out at the two contractors I called. Summer’s a busy time for them. I’d repair it myself but figure the party liable for the damage will pay (Ha!), so may as well have it done quickly by the pros. What a fiasco.

Sanctity of the Nose

He prefers Food over electrons – in his bowl, on the floor, in the couch, on the beach, in his dreams – anywhere there is food, there is he, focused. Never have we had a food-centric beast quite like this one. And we’ve had many. But even he needs to recharge from time to time

Cases are surging again all over the country. Some people say it’s because of increased testing. Ya think? So what is the right course of action then. Put our heads in the sand and stop testing? If we did that we couldn’t conclude the number of cases was rising or falling, it would only mean nobody would know for sure. “Even if cases really are increasing, whatever, big deal, I catch the virus, I get a raspy cough, a mild fever, shortness of breath, big whoop, right? I’ve had hangovers with worse symptoms.” I understand people who say this. I understand the rationale of self-interest. But what these people don’t seem to understand, or care about, is the unaligned self-interest of others who do not want to get this disease and die – alone. I, personally, am determined not to get infected with this coronavirus. Respiratory infections I’ve had in the past (bronchitis, pneumonia) have run a very hard course through me. I remember the symptoms were awful and persistent. Being relatively young at the time probably saved me from hospitalization. Now, being over sixty, it might very well be another story.

Your rights end where my nose begins. Libertarianism 101. I don’t see then how your fist is any different from your viral-loaded breath. You are free to twirl in a public space with arms extended all you want, so long as your fist doesn’t intersect my nose (or anyone else’s). You’re likewise free to get sick and spew virus all you want, so long as it doesn’t intersect my nose (or anyone else’s). So keep your distance and wear an effin mask until a vaccine is ready, at the very least until an effective treatment is found.

You see, being I am unabashedly self-interested, I very much look forward to enjoying another anniversary with Happy Wife, like this past one (6/2020), duly celebrated with a vibrant flourish of eye-catching orchids (with Norman for the photo bomb)

Moral of the story: Take care of yourselves, loved ones, friends, co-workers, even strangers in need. In that order.


Ah, carefree co-mingling, remember that? Friends clustered in the kitchen, respiring heavily, festive hugging, packin’ the ol’ pie-hole with cheese fondue, carrying on as if we were all immortal

Yesteryear, those were the days.

It’s been said we are social animals. Human contact is the salve for what ails us. More than that, absent the healing power of Togetherness we’d all just as soon wither quietly, loneliness and despair our indifferent companions. Some say Togetherness is so critical for life you might as well take away air and water.

Then, out of nowhere, like an approaching tornado – “Everyone scatter! Hunker down! Shelter in place, save yourself!”

And just like that, Togetherness, at once a requirement for life is now the very thing that may lead to the end of yours.

Social Distancing AK Style

There are Humpbacks in the bay now. And a week ago our neighbor spotted a pod of Orcas out there. Sure, it’s awe inspiring – if not also humbling – to see whales from the cockpit of a Kayak, though also alarming if they come too close. Calm water today but I always feel a tingle of concern seeing Happy Wife out there all alone, save the Leviathans lurking beneath her. Let’s hope they all got the memo about social distancing.

Newest Sexagenarian!

A novel virus requires a novel defense. So Happy Wife thought to re-purpose B-cups from old bras into face masks

The cup goes on first, then over that she fastens an N95, slips on gloves and a full-length gown and only then does she enter the exam room to greet the patient. That’s on days when she must go into the office for the unavoidable physical exam. Other days she works from home (like I do), providing more impersonal health care via Telemedicine.

There are ~70 >100 cases in the state of Alaska, ~42 ~50 in Anchorage. 1 in Seward, where we are now, a ghost town like so many other places worldwide. The livelihood of many of our neighbors here relies on summer tourism. Today on our beach walk we saw Paul and Linda, our neighbors to the south who run a B’nB, walking their dogs. We chatted a while, keeping our distance. I asked how bad their cancellations are so far. Paul appeared crestfallen, turned the pockets of his Carharts inside out, “It’s like money falling out of my pockets.” All along their policy had been cancel 90 days or more in advance and get a full refund. “We didn’t make that policy for times like this,” Linda said.

Tomorrow is HW’s 60th birthday. Welcome to the most vulnerable class! Septuagenarians and older are really the most vulnerable ones, but technically speaking we’re both cardholders now. Am I concerned? Sure, but I’m not frightened, not yet anyway. But if anything were to happen to her… I don’t know, I don’t even want to think about that


As a molecular biologist of sorts it astonishes me that this worldwide disruption to human affairs was caused by a measly virus 29K bases long. To put that in perspective, there are single genes in the human genome almost ten times that long.


Breathe deep the gathering gloom
Watch lights fade from every room
Bedsitter people look back and lament
Another day’s useless energy is spent
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one;
Lonely man cries for love and has none
New mother picks up and suckles her son
Senior citizens wish they were young

                                      (The Moody Blues – Late Lament)

Right about then I wished I was young. I was on all fours beneath our Nest (it’s why it’s called a crawl space!) shoving a space heater before me as I crawled over dirt and gravel, through puddles of nearly frozen gray water, mindful to keep my head down to avoid banging it against a floor joist. (Why does banging your head make you so damn angry?). Anyhoo…my goal was to get the heater near where the septic line disappears into the ground where I thought maybe, just maybe, it was frozen. We’d arrived earlier in the day to find the tub and toilet had backed up. Worse, I had to remove the toilet because the overflow in the bathroom was oozing from the flange, where the seal had evidently failed. Which wasn’t all bad seeing as Happy Wife has wanted to replace that damn toilet for years (cracked bowl). She and I must’ve used every towel we had to sop up the gray water as it gurgled out of the poop drain (see photo) once we’d removed the toilet. By then it was dark outside, maybe 10ยบ with a 30+ mph north wind. That made the repeated trips under the house to pull back sodden floor insulation to assess the scope of the damage all the more fun. Nothing like gray water flash-frozen to your face to get the weekend started right!