coronavirus, Pandemic diary

A pandemic diary: Writer on duty. Call now.

August 24, 2021

Row of tombstones in cemetery.
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Friends, have I got an offer for you. Because SEO isn’t my specialty, I’m asking you to share this post with your network immediately. Don’t sweat: I won’t steer you wrong. This is the real deal, but for reasons I’ll explain directly, y’all need to act right away.

Here’s what’s on the table: My services as a writer for that once-in-a-lifetime occasion when a cheap hack or your unemployed English-major nephew won’t do. If you’re the kind of person I’m trying to reach, you don’t want to trust this to the jerks in the MSM either. I’m talking about your obituary.

What makes me think you need one? Well, you swear you’ll never get a Covid shot. You don’t care that the vaccine is now fully approved. Freedom is your middle name. You’d boo Donald Trump if he urged you to get vaccinated, like some of your buddies in Alabama did the other night. Sure, you’ve always been healthy, but the way things are now, with no immunity and of course no mask, you might not even make it to football season. This is the reason for the urgency I spoke of before. It’s time to get this duck securely in the row.

I’m not being morbid. In the news business, where I worked for many years, it’s standard practice to prepare obits in advance for newsmakers, and people like you are in the news every day. If you’re wondering about my qualifications, my LinkedIn profile will show you that I’ve handled all kinds of assignments under tough deadlines (no pun intended).

This is a serious proposal. In the spirit of public service and bipartisanship (since the great majority of you are Republicans), I’ll write your last chapter at no charge. I promise to be respectful and thorough. Here’s a taste of what your loved ones might read.

“(Your name), who loved life, worked hard at his job and even harder at being a great husband and dad, died Wednesday on a ventilator in a jammed Covid ward. He passed moments after his devastated wife said her final goodbye over the phone. He was 34.

Unlike other vaccine skeptics who’ve recently died, he never wavered in his belief, expressed last week on Facebook, that the Lord and a healthy lifestyle would protect him from the virus. Friends said he’d been excited about taking his children, Tyler and Jen, to their first (your school) game next month.

If you think I’m exaggerating or being snarky, here’s a real obit. It used to be said that one’s name should appear in print just three times, at birth, marriage, and death. Please don’t make me write yours too soon. Take care and be safe.

humor, life, men and women, new old age, retirement

Holiday greetings for 2016

Author’s note: My wife and I relocated in 2016 and we do own an old sword. Most of the rest can be taken with a few grains of salt.

***********

Hello all! This won’t be a typical holiday letter because we sure haven’t had a typical year! As you know – if you read my earlier message, and we so hope you did, otherwise why am I WASTING MY PRECIOUS TIME and few remaining brain cells writing this stupid – sorry, we’re still a wee bit touchy after all we’ve been through!

What I started to say was that we’ve had a big, joyous experience in our lives: moving and downsizing! We sold our old house and are settled in a lovely, smaller one in a new city. We just couldn’t feel more sublime! But of course, it’s been challenging too, at times, in a few small ways. Rather than bore you with details – and there were a ton of details, plus about EIGHT TONS OF JUNK THAT NEARLY FRICKIN’ KILLED US (oops, sorry again) – we’re focusing on a few special moments in our year, our journey of change and discovery.

We started with a moving sale – a wonderful way to clear out clutter and meet people! Until one of our neighbors saw the antique political buttons we were selling and compared Trump to Spiro Agnew, whereupon another neighbor tried to run him through with my grandfather’s ceremonial Masonic sword! Our discovery? Nobody wants used sweaters with fresh bloodstains on them, even if they’re really pretty small. But we persevered!

Next we had to move out, find a new house, and move in there. But there was no despair, just more discoveries along the road! For example, we found that after all the work, travel, decisions, and slightly stressful days, we can fall asleep any time in any old place, including the line at Starbucks. And the dentist’s chair! And any hotel in the world, except that one with gunshots in the parking lot at 2:00 a.m!

Another time, I discovered some old muscle relaxants when I was sore from moving boxes and since they’d “expired” I took six all at once. I’m told I staggered into the living room wearing wifey’s pink thong (and nothing else), said “Haaar oooom glub shrog iffshaam zowk,” then walked right through a (closed) screen door and plunged into the pool! Thank goodness our brilliant real estate agent, who saw the whole thing, was an ex-lifeguard! Of course, we had to pay for her ruined dress and shoes but we persevered once more! Hooah!

It’s been hard – why can’t we stop saying that? – but speaking of muscles, we discovered some we didn’t even know we had. We’re a real Power Couple! My back is so much stronger – well, I don’t usually use those words; it’s actually “tighter than a cable on the Bay Bridge.” A little massage would fix that IF we can find the damn massage book or EVER FIND ANYTHING IN THAT WRETCHED PILE OF BOXES AND – but we digress, again!

Do come see us for the holidays and remember, if we fall asleep, it’s not the company!

2016 election, Clinton, life, Politics, Trump

I approved this message. Please listen.

A polarizing Republican, both loved and reviled for his views and his record, widely suspected of dark misdeeds. A game but weakened Democrat, lacking the passion and charisma of other Democrats and struggling to overcome campaign blunders. A young voter unhappy with those choices.

I know this sounds too familiar. But I’m not talking about Trump and Clinton in 2016. “Young voter” means me, and no one except a kindly 90-year-old would call me young anymore. This was another election year, when I made a decision that I regret to this day – which I hope with all my heart that no one who reads this will repeat in November.

It happened the first time I was eligible to vote. I had no intention of going Republican because of peer pressure from college friends and classmates, and because the candidate repelled me as he did millions of others. For reasons I can’t fathom now, the Democrat seemed flat, unimpressive, unlikely to deliver on campaign promises, and not worth my support. The nominees’ gaping differences – in policy, demeanor, integrity, and fitness for office – just didn’t register.

In a moment of 18-year-old smugness and blindness, I decided not to cast a ballot for either side. Though people I knew worked to register Democrats and get them to the polls, I didn’t join them. On Election Day I stayed home.

The year was 1972. The Republican was Richard Nixon and the Democrat was George McGovern. My one vote would’ve been buried by the 49-state tsunami that handed Nixon his abbreviated second term. But McGovern, rest his soul, was definitely the better man and despite his failings as a candidate would have been a far better president.

If you weren’t around back then, the legendary Hunter S. Thompson summed up the situation pretty well: “McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for. Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?”

I’m still embarrassed that I couldn’t figure this out. I wish I could say I stood for something and used my precious voting power to help my country. I can’t.

But I haven’t missed an election since. And I can say this: Whether you’re 18, 98, or somewhere in between, please, please, put down your phone and VOTE. Help us avoid a disaster worse than anything Nixon wrought.

Don’t be a self-righteous schmuck like I was in ’72. Be a mensch instead.

I’m David Swan and I approved this message.

humor, nature

Frogblog update: They come knocking!

It was the kind of Southern summer night that makes you long for winter in Minnesota. The heat was enough to wilt Trump’s rug, and the air was so thick you could cut it with a sharp tongue.

Tree frog.Suddenly on our sliding patio door, there appeared a primordial being. Not a mere raven, tapping, tapping, oh no, but a hyla cinerea, peering, leering at us with massive eyes and gripping the glass with four elastic, futuristic feet.

What was his purpose? Maybe he’d seen me capturing and relocating some tadpoles a few days earlier and wanted revenge, or just a status report on the young ‘uns. Of course, frogs don’t usually show any “parental investment” beyond mating and laying eggs, but with my luck, maybe I’d ticked off the new age dad of those tads.

frog_ridersmallOr maybe he was just looking for bugs, but if so, one of them found him first.  This is sort of a twist on the classic song “Straighten Up And Fly Right,” by Nat King Cole and others, which begins “The buzzard took the monkey for a ride in the air/ The buzzard told him everything was on the square.”

In any case, our visitor soon tired of trying to breach the defenses and hopped off into the night.  It was just another little reminder that even here in tranquil, perhaps over-civilized suburbia, we’re not the only or even the original tenants.

Unfortunately, these guys may not be around forever.  Will we be?