The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

For starters, let’s not jump to the conclusion that the title implies I’m giving stuff away. As Milton Friedman liked to say, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Everything has a price.

The “free” in the title of this piece refers to “free-flowing;” you know, random thoughts, aimless, catch as catch can, spitballing. Remnants that never made it into posts.

And just as the old “free lunch” saying goes this post, like all posts by all bloggers, carries with it a price; your time. I hope it’s well spent. This post is an experiment of sorts.  If Fabulous Friday Free Stuff falls flat (say that 3 times) then this will be a collectors item as the first and last edition.

Getting a poke
A week from today I’ll be getting my first COVID vaccination. California just expanded the eligibility for that coveted nectar to those 65 and over. You see, there is some advantage to getting older, though I’d gladly trade age for a lower spot on the injection hierarchy.
I managed to get my appointment in relatively easy fashion. A friend of mine texted me that he was at the dog park with his dog Jessi. The dog park is our semi-regular meeting place, where we get a chance to chat, tell tall tales and discuss the issues of the day.  And while I have a dog I go to the DP without Lexi, who’s been put on a lifetime ban, by me, from going to the park.
Lexi was a regular at the DP until she got into the habit of sniffing out a spot where she would stop, drop and roll; turning herself into a glob of hair, mud, brambles and brush (and on one occasion – poop). It takes a good hour or more to brush all that crap out of a long haired dog. The only exception to her DP ban is on days when she’s going to get a bath. Below: Portrait of a dog park criminal.

Nothing like a comfortable shoe

When I arrived at the DP yesterday, my friend was on hold with Kaiser (our HMO). He’d been on hold for an hour and a half, listening to a loop of elevator music, Kaiser PSAs and a repeated warning, accentuating the obvious, of “longer than usual hold time.”
He finally got through to a real person. After setting up his own appointment he passed his phone over to me. Got my appointment with zero hold time.
I don’t know whether I’m getting the Moderna shot or the Pfizer. Does anyone out there know which shot has the Bill Gates microchip and which one has the George Soros microchip? And as a follow-up is 5G required for the chips to be activated? Asking for a friend.

Shutting down the BS
That whole microchip thing is one of the fables running rampant on the internet and rattling around in the walls of America’s hollow heads.
This morning I had an epiphany. I’m closing off the bullshit.
I’m no longer going to entertain the myths and legends that have been in circulation.
I’ll get into a discussion about the pandemic but as soon as the subject turns to hoaxes, “plandemic,” the “tyranny of masks,” and the anti-vax nonsense, it’s end of discussion.
The only way that the baloney is going to be stopped is to stop the baloney in its tracks. What possible end game is there in debating nonsense with suckers?
The same is true of politics. I love political discussion and I’ll gladly debate Trump foreign policy versus Biden foreign policy but as soon as the debate turns to the “stolen election,” I’m out.
After all, I don’t waste my time getting into discussions over the shape of the Earth, the notion that the Earth is only 10,000 years old, or the existence of unicorns. Over the past four years I’ve allowed myself to stray away from the philosophy that there’s nothing in it for me to argue with toddlers and imbeciles.

The literary corner
I’m an avid reader, mostly of non-fiction; history and politics. Who would’ve guessed by my previous posts – right? Our bookshelves are packed with history, current events and political science books, most of them dog eared and highlighted. I’m currently buried in two books:
Lyndon Johnson – Master of the Senate by Robert Caro, is book three of a four part series about the 36th President. I’m guessing that all four books add up to about 2,000 pages. Getting through it is sort of like an expedition. Fun fact: For those who say that there has NEVER been a fraudulent election, Google “Box 13 election scandal” and you’ll find that if it were not for some good old fashioned Texas election skullduggery in 1948, LBJ might not have been elected to the Senate and probably wouldn’t have been elected president. (No, this doesn’t lend credence to the Trump fables).
Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South by Stephanie McCurry discusses the politics of the Confederacy. In her book, McCurry scoops up the popular bullshittery promoted by the “it’s our proud heritage” crowd, and gives it the burial it deserves.

That’s not to say that I don’t read nonfiction. It’s nonfiction that revives me after books like Hillbilly Elegy and Deer Hunting with Jesus; books that I read to try to understand why regular people and poor people voted for Donald Trump.
Every now and then, when I feel like I’m stuck in historical quicksand I set down the serious stuff to get reinvigorated by detective stories and murder mysteries; The Dave Robicheaux detective stories by James Lee Burke; the Bosch series by Michael Connelly; the Longmire books by Craig Johnson and the works of Dennis Lehane.
Recently I got hooked on a book titled Stranger at Sunset and breezed through it in three nights. The author is Eden Baylee who followed through on an aspiration that many of us have but never fulfill; she left a twenty year career in the corporate world to become a fulltime author. I discovered her work through her blog, which is appropriately titled Eden Baylee. And yes I’m envious.

Detectives don’t appeal to you? Looking for something a little weightier without tackling Charles Dickens or Herman Melville?

Cormac McCarthy. I’ve read all of his works. When someone asks me about Cormac I simply respond “The man can flat out write.” I have only one complaint about Cormac and it’s that he’s 87 years old.

Yukio Mishima. Probably the most important writer Japan has ever produced.  His Sea of Fertility tetralogy—which contains the novels Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, The Temple of Dawn, and The Decay of the Angel, is an absolute masterpiece. The day after completing The Decay of the Angel, Mishima committed seppuku. (Spring Snow might be the single best book I’ve ever read).

Naguib Mahfouz won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1968. His stories are vivid paintings of 20th century Egyptian society. Midaq Alley is a story about the narrow streets of his youth and the characters who inhabited them. The volumes of The Cairo Trilogy; Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street deal with three generations of the Abd al-Jawad family and take place from 1917 to the final days of World War II.

Finally, free photos of Lake Tahoe.  Well free if you want to purloin them.  I don’t watermark my photos or insert the “don’t rip off my photos” boilerplate because, well, nobody really takes the boilerplate seriously. It’s an honor system thing.  Publish my photos if you wish but please give credit where it’s due.

Incoming weather at Lake Tahoe. (The flare is intentional)


10 thoughts on “Fabulous Friday Free Stuff

  1. Jane Fritz says:

    So many great book recommendations. Thanks, Paulie. And congrats on the upcoming jab. But surely you haven’t entirely given up on the possibility of a unicorn??!

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you Jane. If you happen to read any of them I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
      Unicorns. According to an old folk song appropriately titled The Unicorn, by the Irish Rovers those magnificent beasts missed the sailing of Noah’s cruise ship and perished in the flood. I’d say that I’m giving away my age with that reference but since I’m eligible for the vaccine I guess I already spilled those beans.

      1. Jane Fritz says:

        You’ve hardly spilled your age beans as much as I did with my post today! I know the Irish Rovers and the song well, and I’m not giving up on unicorns yet. Did you know the the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland?! It must be the Scottish blood in me. 😏

  2. Yes Paulie, I agree–a nice selection of book recommendations.
    I did look up the “Box 13 elections scandal” and was not aware of that one. Suspicious Texas voting scandals notwithstanding and his back door entry to the presidency, Johnson had political clout in a way I can appreciate. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a product of his influence which we can be thankful for in the 2020 election along with the Georgia senatorial runoff.
    If you ever have an inkling to read mysteries by Vermont authors I can recommend: Archer Mayor, Joseph A. Citro (ghost stories & paranormal) and Howard Frank Mosher (less mystery and more local color from the NE Kingdom). Maybe something to prepare for your next expedition to this corner of the US.
    With a little luck I’ll complete my Corona inoculations by end of February. Yay!

    1. Paulie says:

      Stewart, By and large LBJ’s presidency gets very high marks. Had he not erred so badly with Vietnam I believe he would be just behind Lincoln and Washington in the so called rankings.
      He developed his political skills very early in life and honed them each step of the way. He was meticulous, he was driven, and when he gained entry into a body, be it the House or the Senate he learned the ins and outs of the system and just who to ally himself with. When he first entered the system, one of his first inquiries was, “who knows where the bodies are buried.” That he got the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act passed in the 60s in the face of the influence of Richard Russell and the Southern Democrats is quite a testament to LBJ’s political instincts.
      All of that said he was something of a jerk. He treated Lady Bird horribly.
      As a comparison, when Obama was elected, I had some misgivings, not because I thought he wasn’t qualified but because his tenure in the Senate was so short. Given Joe Biden’s long tenure in the Senate and the relationships he’s cultivated I have some hope that he’ll be more successful in getting legislation passed.

  3. eden baylee says:

    Get the hell outta here Paul! I just read this post and saw your reference to my book. You are much too kind — MUCH! Thank you.

    Ok, enough of that, back to the serious shit! Hahah….

    Congratulations on getting the vaccine shortly. I hope you feel no ill effects from it. I’m looking forward to getting mine sometime this year (probably in August).

    I agree with you on shutting down the BS.

    One of the most ridiculous beliefs from recent years is that all points of view are equally valid, that Joe/Jane Citizen is as equipped to judge as the experts, and their opinion should be granted equal merit.

    Fuck that.

    I’m an expert in very few things. Let me repeat—VERY FEW. But in those areas, my expertise is hard earned through study, work, or experience, and not through Google University or something my cousin Dwayne told me. ( FYI, I don’t have a cousin Dwayne). Unless someone is an expert in exactly the same areas, their opinion is not as valid as mine. They’re in for a bitch slap if they tell me otherwise.

    And by that same logic, my opinion is not as valid as experts in other fields. That’s why THEY are the experts. I always seek answers from those who are smarter than me. It’s ignorance to believe that one’s guess is as good as anyone else’s.

    My blog is not the place to discuss politics, nor do I talk politics publicly (FB, twitter, etc). That said, I love reading your blog and your take on what’s going on in your country. You are a critical thinker and an intelligent voice in the quagmire, so I hope you don’t mind my comments.


    1. Paulie says:

      I enjoyed your book immensely and my mention really doesn’t do it justice. I would do a book review piece but those aren’t exactly a forte of mine; not without revealing that it was Colonel Mustard in the conservatory. Your book was an entertaining break from my political/historical reading. I don’t know how you fiction writers do it.

      I enjoy reading your brief takes on politics and I do applaud your ability to avoid driving your bus into that ditch. So no, I do not at all mind your comments. Quite the contrary I value them and invite you to keep commenting and if you ever think a post is full of it, please say so.

      My own blog didn’t start out as a platform for politics. My original goal was an autobiographical blog, free of politics; something difficult to do since my political addiction started when I was a child, hearing dad call then V.P. Nixon a goddamned sonavabitch. It turned out that there would be a long line of goddamned sons of bitches, enough that I became a hopeless junkie.

      I was successful in my apolitical aspiration for some time until a year ago when the nuclear fusion of COVID (a pandemic a political pawn?) and Trumpism occurred. The change in direction has altered my audience quite significantly and I’ve lost more than I’ve gained which doesn’t necessarily bother me. I write for my own enjoyment – keeps me from day drinking I guess. But now my challenge is to determine the future of this blog – cuz I ain’t startin’ over with a new one.

      If there’s any satisfaction though it’s that my most heartfelt pieces Nana and Everything Happens For a Reason, received more views and positive feedback on this site and FB than the cold political pieces combined
      Thank you again for reading.

      1. eden baylee says:

        Hi Paul,

        Thank you for reading my book. Reviews are never mandatory, but your honest feedback is very much appreciated. I used to believe the main difference between writing non-fiction and fiction was that fiction had to make sense. This past year has proven that truth can be even more nonsensical than fiction.

        As a I write this, I received a news alert that McConnell has publicly accused tRump of provoking the crowd of Jan. 6th. I’m guessing he’s pissed he’s no longer majority leader, and it’s probably damage control for the GOP as well. Whatever it is, the strange days of reality will continue for a while.

        As for the direction of your blog, I think the key is that it’s YOUR blog, so you can write whatever you like. I’ve been blogging since end of 2010, and the direction has changed several times. It started as a blog to promote my writing and that of fellow artists/writers. It served its purpose to connect me to like-minded people. As an unknown writer, it was a way to become part of a community. Now, I write to share what interests me, and if it interests others, that’s great. If not, that’s fine too.

        Ultimately, we need to be true to ourselves to attract the right audience. I look forward to delving into more of your non-political pieces.

        Sending good thoughts to you and your country on the eve of inauguration.


        1. Paulie says:

          I’m absolutely certain that McConnell is pissed. The president who he enabled and shilled for drove the party into a ditch and helped to lose the presidency, the House and the Senate; all in a relatively short 4 years (even though it’s seemed like an eternity).
          Turning 79 next month I think McConnell’s going to go into legacy mode after having spent six years as the leader of a Senate that’s done nothing but be a production line for conservative judges.
          If there was a god in heaven and McConnell croaked today he would be remembered as the most party bound, obstructionist, filibustering leader of a body that’s had a pretty shameful history of being a graveyard for law and progress.
          It’s my guess that he might be on the fence about running again and ending his career at 91 should be be reelected in six years. I’m hoping that he’s going to steer his party to a more reasonable place and try to work with Biden and Schumer in getting things done. Otherwise his legacy will be shit.
          Thanks for the thoughts on blogging. I’ve had those wavering moments when I’ve leaned towards pleasing what I’ve thought of as “the masses,” only to come to my senses and stick with my own interest.
          Keep commenting. I value your thoughts.

  4. Scott Blake says:

    Yes, the baloney is BS and not worth the effort to read it or react to it. I’ve realized that the whole deal has made me very weary. Blue vs. Red, Dem vs GOP. fuhgeddaboutit. How about what they want to do to help this country and fix the problems? I don’t care about their political affiliation, all I care about is their affiliation as an American. Everything else is window dressing. Glad that you’re getting the jab. I look forward to the day I get it and even more look forward to the day when people wearing masks do so for Halloween and Mardi Gras.

Would love to hear from you