KingMidget's Ramblings

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There Are No Words

A week into my two week vacation, I had an epiphany. It wasn’t really an epiphany. It’s something I have known for some time now, but this trip sealed the deal for me.

The trip started with almost a week of traveling through central Oregon and Washington, culminating in a few days at Moses Lake. There is a lake there, but it is high desert. Dry and dusty and, just not the most beautiful of scenery.

We left Moses Lake a day early. We had run out of things to do there and smoke from wildfires was starting to fill the air. We headed to our next destination.

Astoria. A small town at the mouth of the Columbia River, where it pours into the Pacific Ocean. As soon as we made the decision to do this, I felt better. There s just something about the ocean and the coast that runs from San Francisco to Washington.

It’s where I breathe. Where I relax. Where a whole lot of troubles and issues melt away. It’s clean and clear and crisp and cool. And there is so much to see. Those are the words I come up with, but really … there are no words that truly describe how I feel when I am on the coast and the ocean is in front of me.

From the North Head Lighthouse looking south

Head’s Up

Just a head’s up for my friends in the blogging (and Twitter) community, I’ll be out of action for the next couple of weeks. It may be that I’m going on a little vacation. It may be that said vacation will involve two weeks of driving through Oregon and Washington. It may be that said trip will include a week along the Oregon Coast. It may be that said trip may include a stop in the town where I was born. It may be all of those things … or none of them.

But for the next two weeks, you may see nothing here other than pictures from my trip. Or you may see nothing at all. Who knows?

All I know is … I am out of here!!!

See you soon. Stay safe. Stay sane.

You Can’t Fix Stupid

I’ll quote a family member I’ve just been involved in a text exchange with on this topic:

“The general level of intelligence and education in this country has never been more exposed, at least during our lifetimes. The stupid have a mouth piece and it won’t shut up.”

Donald Trump claims that he was solely responsible for how quickly the vaccine was developed. Operation Warp Speed was his baby. (Narrator: this is not actually true. Much of the work on the technology for these vaccines was done before this virus ever showed up on planet Earth. And I’m relatively confident that any President facing this virus would have done the same thing as Trump did — throw resources at the development of the vaccine to get it in people’s arms as quickly and safely as possible.)

Which begs the question, of course. Why if this is Trump’s vaccine baby and he has received the vaccine, are so many of his true-believing followers unwilling to get vaccinated. According to one source over 184,000,000 Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while almost 160,000,000 are fully vaccinated. That still leaves a whole lot of Americans who haven’t got a single shot, let alone both shots.

And why aren’t they? I do believe there are legitimate concerns regarding the vaccine, just as there are with any medical intervention. (Narrator: for example, the author of this post is suffering from an odd rash that has been bedeviling him for months. The doctor has suggested he take a more powerful antihistamine that requires an injection every four weeks. All of the materials on said drug warn in every other sentence about the risk of anaphylaxis. The author of this post is extremely relucant to start this new drug regimen given that risk.)

But here’s the deal. Over 33,000,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus. Of those, over 600,000 have died. And thousands more have been hospitalized with serious complications. Thousands of those are now long-haulers, experiencing months and months of debilitating side effects of the virus. I have a couple of acquaintances who have gone through this. They both contracted the virus around the end of November. One of them is still struggling, all these months later, with serious side effects.

So, on the one hand you have a virus that has killed hundreds of thousands and debilitated thousands more, versus a vaccine that, as of yet, has no known serious side effects that have been traced to it. Yes, there are theories and speculation. The latest being possible nerve damage from the J & J vaccine. There have been other rumored risks, but here’s the thing…

Almost six times more Americans have received the vaccine than the number with confirmed COVID diagnoses. If the vaccine was as dangerous as the virus, that would mean we would be hearing about 3.6 million Americans dying because of the vaccine and hundreds of thousands more suffering from serious side effects.

Guess what? That’s simply not happening. IT’S NOT HAPPENING!!! The vaccine isn’t anywhere near as dangerous or as risky as the virus is. Whether to get the vaccine is as much of a no-brainer as there is.

And yet … the vaccine has a chip in it, special delivery from Bill Gates. It will magnetize you. It will damage your fertility. It will cause you to grow hair on your fingernails. It’s about your freedom!!!!

And this is what this all comes down to. So much of the debate in this country these days is about “freedom.” In the fever swamps of the right-wing, Q-Anon, Fox News, Newsmax, Tucker Carlson world of righteousness, this freedom appears to mean the freedom to be stupid. The freedom to not have to care about your neighbors, your co-workers, your fellow citizens. It means the freedom to believe anything you want to believe … EVEN IF THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO FACTUAL BASIS FOR THAT BELIEF!

I really can’t take this much longer. Tens of millions of Americans are refusing to get vaccinated based on their desire to believe stupid things other people throw at them. Other people who actually don’t care about them, but instead are only intent on sowing chaos and discord in this country. I wonder how many Fox anchors and talking heads, how many Newsmax reporters, how many QAnon honchos, how many Republicans pushing the “freedom” angle … just how many of them have actually gone out and got vaccinated, while pushing this crap on the gullible and the stupid.

As I said to my family member referenced above and which prompted her reply that I quoted:

“Everything that has happened since Trump first came down that escalator in 2015 has been a demonstration of just how stupid so many Americans are and how willing they are to be misled. It’s disgusting what has happened over the past six years.”

Americans continue to be put at risk, and continue to die, because of this stupidity. When will it end? Will it end?

I Don’t Care

As I write this, I’m watching the Men’s Finals match at Wimbledon. I used to watch these tournaments religiously, but not as much anymore. What I learned this morning is that drop shots never work, yet they keep trying them.

But … as I watch Wimbledon, I get messages from friends about Branson’s journey into “space” and my wife gets a call from her mother who is watching the coverage and thinks it’s fascinating.

I don’t care. To me, the whole Branson thing and the Bezos thing and the Musk thing is that it’s just a bunch of billionaires playing with toys. Although I will say that at least with Musk he is doing productive work with his toys — putting satellites into orbit, for instance. But the whole Bezos-Branson thing is just rich boys playing with toys. It’s kind of like a rich boy version of the Karsashians. It’s not the Real Housewives of Orange County. It’s Real Rich Guys Spending Their Billions.

Maybe it’s because of the way I was raised, but I’ve always thought pretty small about how to go about adventuring. When we took vacations, we towed a trailer and traveled around the United States. Our only foray into Mexico was a cross-border trip to Tijuana for a few hours. We never went to Europe or Hawaii, or anywhere that required getting on a plane. My first flight ever was when I was 29, and it was for work. I didn’t get to Hawaii until I was in my early 40’s and only got to Europe when I was 54.

My idea of a great vacation would be to travel a part of the United States. Spend a couple of weeks seeing the history and the towns and the people, the monuments and natural sights. And then keep doing that until I’ve traveled everywhere there is to go in North America. I have no burning desire to travel to other parts of the world, let alone fly to the border of space.

But here we are. Some portion of the world is transfixed by this. I wonder just how many people really are, or if this is another one of these things we are being fed by the media — we are being told that it’s something we must care about. Like the Kardahians, like the Royal Family, like the year Schwarzenegger was elected Governor and sensible people went ga-ga over his arrival in Sacramento. Like all of these things and more, I sit back and pick the lint from my navel, read a book, and wonder why so many are fascinated with celebrity and fame and wealth. Maybe it’s the wish that they could be in that place — to be wealthy, to be famous, to be able to fly to the moon, or to be on television. And so people live vicariously through the people who who actually are.

But I don’t care about that stuff. I have no interest in wealth or fame or celebrity. I have no interest in going on death-defying adventures. I just want to live my life, be alive in the world, and spend time with my friends and family. I want to read a book, write and paint, cook and have a beer. Go for a ride or a hike. Just be me, in my small little world.

My Top Three — Jewel

Before I get to Jewel, I just need to share this. My last post included some feedback on The Dime from a friend. He continues to read the book and just texted me to complain that he was tearing up reading the story and “how was [he] going to explain teary eyes” to his family. This is so perfect. I made a reader feel something!!

Anyway … on to Jewel.

Like Melissa Etheridge, I went through a Jewel phase in the mid-90s. Her first few albums were a part of the soundtrack of my life back then. Pieces of You, This Way, Spirit, and Goodbye Alice in Wonderland (which actually came out in 2005, so this extends beyond the mid-90s). In the in between moments, she also released a christmas music collection and a dance music album. Both of which I pretty much ignored. But those four albums have some really good stuff on them. After Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, she kind of got a little too country for me and I haven’t really listened to her for a long time and really haven’t listened to the several albums she released after Goodbye Alice.

At one point back then I had the opportunity to see her perform live. It was one of the first concerts I went to where it was just the singer, her guitar, and her voice. Acoustic. No band behind her. The kind of concert I’ve grown to enjoy. It was in a small theater at a nearby Indian casino. It was … wonderful.

I thought this top three would be easy. Well … yeah, maybe. Here are some contenders that didn’t make the cut:

Deep Water

Life Uncommon

Innocence Maintained

The New Wild West

Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime

1000 Miles Away

Goodbye Alice In Wonderland

Stephenville, TX

And likely a few more, but here are the top three…

Break Me (A perfect example of what I might have seen at that concert I went to)

Absence of Fear (This is chill-inducing)

Til We Run Out of Road (Sadly, I couldn’t find a live version of this)

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