In a galaxy far, far away, when the pandemic first came to town and we were being advised to make our wills and say our goodbyes, I found it impossible to get my hair cut here in Paradise. So I purchased a Wahl home clipper set and with trembling hands and no expectations I approached the task of giving myself a trim, without knowing whether I could.
Just in case I ended up looking like a concentration camp escapee, I was fully prepared to wear a hat continuously until the hair grew back. Imagine my surprise when it didn’t end up horrible at all, just … amateur-looking. There were some irregularities here and there, but one of the benefits of being a geezer is that there are so few people who could give a rat’s behind about how you look. No one commented adversely nor positively.
Thus emboldened I continued to shear my own locks even after the salons and barber shops of the area were open once again. I’ve experimented with the various attachments with varying success, and now can do the trimming once every week or two without fear. It’s still an amateur job, but acceptable, and I have received a very good return on that original thirty dollars I laid out for the clipper.
The last time I used the set, I decided to employ a slightly shorter comb and ended up with basically the appearance of an octogenaric marine recruit headed for boot camp.
My personal favorite guidebooks to the hiking trails that surround us out here on the Western Slope are written by the husband/wife team of Anne and Mike Poe. I like them because they are not just maps of trails with a scattering of details, but provide much more, including:
- Maps of each trail
- Description of prominent trail features
- Beautiful photographs of points along the trails
- Descriptions of how to get to the trailheads, including what vehicles (car, SUV, 4×4) are best suited to the approaches
- Overall assessment of scenic values of the hike
- All of the trails that are covered spend most of the time above treeline. The Poe’s rationale is that you don’t go hiking in Colorado to walk in a forest. You can do that just as well in other places.
These books all about day hikes, so if you want advice on backpacking you would be better off looking elsewhere. We’ve done quite a few of the walks, and hope to do many more in the future. Some of them involve gaining quite a bit of altitude, but whenever I am up there gasping away, I remind myself that Anne did many of them as a senior citizen, and afflicted with emphysema to boot. (She has alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, an hereditary cause of this disease).
TRY NOT TO GET SICK IN AMERICA DEPARTMENT
A couple of related papers to mull over the next time you have to dig down deep to pay your health insurance premiums.
Let’s face it: The American sickness care industry, with all of its disorganized elements and multiple protected revenue streams, has become a financial behemoth, and at the town, city, county, state, and federal levels, an untouchable political juggernaut. And, unlike anything seen since the US ramped up to fight the Second World War, it is a recession-proof engine for job creation. Who would not be impressed by those achievements?Lundberg, George M.D., Medscape :’They All Laughed When I Spoke of Greedy Doctors’ March 20, 2023
Any questions? Did I hear the word “outcomes”? Uhhhh. A healthy population? Ooooh. Average lifespan of Americans? Efficiency and effectiveness? Quality of living and dying? National happiness? No need for psychoactive chemicals to escape reality? A happy workforce? It’s all about greed, but not only greedy doctors.
- Salve Lucrum: The Existential Threat of Greed in US Health Care
- ‘They All Laughed When I Spoke of Greedy Doctors’
BUCKLE UP BECAUSE YOU JUST NEVER KNOW DEPARTMENT
There once was a comic strip called Pogo. It took place in a swamp which was populated by a variety of animals including an opossum named Pogo. It was political satire … wisdom coated so sweetly that you never even felt the medicine go in until it was too late and you were just a bit more enlightened than you were when you picked up the newspaper.
In one panel, in 1971, Pogo uttered the profound line that opened my eyes forever, and which still resonates today because … guess what … as a species we haven’t improved much.
The line? “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
This past week there were scads of articles and op/eds written about former president cluck’s speech at Waco, and one of them was remarkable for its clarity. “MAGA, Not Trump, Controls The Movement Now.”
The opinion piece pointed out what has been obvious for years now, that Cluck was only surfing on a sea of seething anger and deliberate ignorance. A mob traveling on its collective id, sort of like the Huns without Attila around to control them, because Cluck never did control them , although I don’t think he ever knew it. Still doesn’t.
It’s not like we didn’t know that this bunch didn’t exist. It was called up by Hitler and Mussolini not all that long ago. By Father Coughlin, that lovely old parish priest of the thirties who happened to dislike the same things that Cluck has been foaming about today. By Joseph McCarthy, the esteemed senator from Wisconsin who covered his lust for power with a blanket of faux patriotism. By the KKK, which at one time was a real political force in this country, but which largely has gone away. However, we see that the poisonous tumult that it fed upon never went away, but only waited for a new servant to get out there and open doors for it.
It’s a bit like the Dracula legends, where the monster can only enter a dwelling if it is invited in.
But the members of this mob are just like us. You know that old trope in comics where an angel sits on one shoulder and a devil on the other? In good old you and I, for whatever reasons, the angel is slightly bigger than the demon. In the MAGA mob that situation is reversed. That’s all it takes. But that small shift makes all the difference.
That’s why it is always so shocking when the man next door suddenly says something so repellent you can’t believe your ears. Because up until that moment you thought he was Mister Nice Guy, just like you.
So our struggle against ignorance and hatred will go on for my lifetime for certain, probably for yours as well, and generations after. Each day we get up and round up the “better angels of our nature,” as Mr. Lincoln put it so well. Part of our strength is recognizing that the enemy is not at the gate, he is already inside. He is us.
Last evening Robin and I were engaged in a game of cribbage, sitting at the table in the dining area. Willow came in through the cat door and carried a good-sized mouse to within three feet of my chair and dropped it, whereupon it scuttled into the baseboard heater.
A measure of our hard-won serenity in matters like this is that this time there was no screaming, no climbing on chairs, no gathering of brooms or shotguns. I simply looked at Robin and asked if we should deal with this before finishing the game. She nodded and we both put down our cards and were able to collectively shoo the creature out of its hiding place and into the open where Willow could re-catch it and take it outside.
We then returned to our game, where I was soundly beaten for the third time in a row.