The seven things successful people don’t want you to know!

  1. 3:50 AM give up, go take pee, look at clock, wonder if you’ll get back to sleep before alarm goes off
  2. 5:00 AM wife shakes you, says “your alarm” which would be unnecessary, since you’ve been awake since 3:50, except you can no longer hear the first couple higher-pitched cycles of the alarm so, ok. You turn it off and get up.
  3. Let in cats. Feed cats. Close 2 doors so sensitive cat is isolated from the less-sensitive cats and can eat in peace. Turn on coffee machine. Open windows to air out downstairs.
  4. Go check the trap line. It’s still dark. One dish of beer has a few slugs. On the way to the other 2 dishes over by the echinacea a slug somehow gets into your Birkenstock. You do the “A slug got into my Birkenstock” dance but he holds fast so you take off the sandal and flick him into one of the beer traps, kerplunk. A dozen or so of his buddies are in there too.
  5. That’s fewer than usual lately, maybe you’re making headway. Maybe they’re hunkered down waiting for the hot weather to pass. Maybe they’re on the tomatoes.
  6. You’ll never know cause you have to go eat breakfast (slice of rye bread, butter, ham, Greek yogurt with blueberries + honey)
  7. One cat wants out. No not that door the other door. Then another cat wants out, but not the door the first cat went out, the other door.
  8. You tiptoe around while you do all this so your wife can sleep.
  9. But she gets up to make sure you don’t forget to throw lettuce and blueberries out the window for the tortoise.
  10. Throughout all this you have the idea of distance in your head. Maybe you had a dream. Distance between galaxies is the same as distance inside atoms, between the nucleus and the electrons, it’s mostly empty space, you think. And yet we find each other.

A cat licked my wife’s dish

It was my first day of freedom following the expiration of my quarantine. The others still had a day or two to go.
We were sitting on the terrace chatting after eating noodle soup for dinner.
We were talking about dreams.
We talked about dream architecture. I mentioned my theory that houses in dreams represent aspects of our minds. Generously, no one mentioned that everything in our dreams represent aspects of our minds. Everyone described houses and other buildings they had dreamed of.

Houses I have dreamed of: repeated dream of standing on the street looking at a suburban single-storey green house in which a family has been murdered. Repeated dream of (imaginary) sex club in Seattle that, the last time I dreamed of it, had gone out of business. One-time dream of a friend’s house in which I was fighting a stranger to the death and he Would.Not.Die. no matter what I did, including stabbing him in the jugular with a shard of glass; a frustratingly thin stream of blood sprayed out.

Alpha went inside to talk to someone on the phone.
A cat took that opportunity to lick our soup bowls clean.
I told Gamma that, regarding the shirt-shopping nightmare I had described earlier (two understocked shirt shops that overlapped such that one could not tell where one shop ended and the other began, nor even where the real entrances were, and which carried no really nice shirts, just mostly factory rejects or oddly-styled and funnily-sized strange-fitting shirts with unusual or ugly patterns that I did not want) that I had yesterday been thinking about Uferlosigkeit and Grenzenlosigkeit (and wondering whether there was a significant difference between the two). (Something that is uferlos is unbounded, and grenzenlos would mean without borders).
Inside the house, Alpha said something that sounded as if she were wrapping up her conversation, so I carried the soup bowls into the kitchen and put them into the dishwasher so the cat wouldn’t get in trouble; but it turned out she was not done with her conversation after all.
Gamma asked me how my first day out of quarantine had gone. I said I had forgotten how to drive. When I took my car into the dealer for a check up, I had drifted too close to the shoulder, for example, and was not paying as much attention as I should have. And while at the dealer waiting for my car, I looked at Humans of New York on Instagram and the stories made me cry. I imagined an apprentice mechanic asking the mechanic, Gee did someone give Mr. Living his bill already?
That’s all I did today. Plus a little work. Plus I went grocery shopping and the cashier had to remind me to enter my PIN code.
I was going to take a walk but it’s too nice in the hammock now.
I’ll take a walk tomorrow.
I didn’t gain weight in quarantine (actually I lost a little) but my belly is fatter, which I guess means muscle mass is down.
Washing dishes, taking walks. Life is an endless struggle against entropy.

Things I learned this week

1. One thing you don’t want to hear yourself say while measuring chili powder into a marinade for kebabs you are making is, “oops”. We subscribe to weekly pre-measured recipe boxes from an organic farm in Vienna and I realized today that the spices sometimes are delivered in larger quantities than recipes require, which can result in pepper spray-levels of capsicum released into the air when you toss the mix into a hot frying pan.

2. When everyone in your house has been quarantined and is waiting for the results of their COVID-19 test, the kind thing to do in this situation is explain to them that you, and now they, are all coughing because you just pepper sprayed them, and then go open windows.

3. The test takes much longer when it is being done on you than when you are watching someone else being tested. Time is relative. 30 seconds is not such a long time when someone else has a probe up their nostril, but a very long time when it’s your nostril.

4. When the health office calls you after waiting 3 days and tells you your test is negative, that’s a very good feeling.

So my wife found my sunglasses

Like many people, I have no idea what is going on right now; all I know is, my wife found my sunglasses in the trunk of her car.
I mean, like many people, I have no idea what is going on right now. Like very few people, all I know is, my wife found my sunglasses. Even now, after you have read this, very few people know she found my sunglasses, because let’s be honest, I check my stats, very few people read this. So, no matter what I write here, very few people will ever know it.
Unless, like, I write something lots of people already know, or something lots of people will find out about somewhere else. What I’m saying is, if a lot of people know something, it’s not because they read it here.
Ok start over:
Like many people, I have no idea what is going on right now.
Things are very confusing.
Chaotic. No one is following rules of procedure because this is all new. Or new-ish. Like, we haven’t seen anything like this since 1918, or 1938, or 1968, etc.
Lots of people out of work. Lots of people sick. Lots of people getting their heads cracked by police. Crazy man nominally “in charge”.
And lots of billionaires making money hand over fist.
That is because billionaires are clowns, by and large.
A Russian I once got really fucking drunk with at a vodka bar (never drink vodka with a Russian. Or a Pole for that matter.) with divided people into clowns and cucumbers. Cucumbers follow rules, clowns do not. So you’re going to find a higher proportion of clowns among billionaires than among the general population. (“Clowns and cucumbers” strikes me as how a sociopath might describe sociopaths vs non-sociopaths). Anyway, he said that was a Russian expression, clowns vs. cucumbers.
So, I imagine you become a billionaire by bending rules or making up your own (or by inheriting a billion dollars). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that billionaires might thrive in a rule-light environment such as that we are currently experiencing.
And if you’re kinda suffering, it might be because you are not a sociopath.
BUT: this unruly situation also might be a great opportunity to make up new rules. For us to make up new rules. Lots of people know this already, right? I’m stating the obvious? But yeah, still: it’s sad and scary out there, but lots of people – LOTS of people – are in the streets, making new rules as we speak.
They had a Black Lives Matter demonstration in VIENNA yesterday, they expected a few thousand, and 50,000 showed up. In the rain.
One can debate the wisdom of holding such a large gathering during a pandemic, but that’s an impressive number.
Maybe something good is happening.
Usually, when I think that, I’m wrong.
But maybe I’m right this time.
Maybe I’m wrong.
I have no idea.

Lockdown Bingo

My card is nearly full. Omitting all the relationship items for privacy reasons (and all the awesome things other people did, they can list them in their own blogs), I learned to knit and finished three scarves. I trimmed my own moustache. I established a workout routine and stick to it, mostly. I walk a great deal – in fact, of all commuters to Vienna who use the walking app I use, I walk the furthest (or the second-furthest, someone named Inga is tough competition. The app ranks you overall and by district, and includes a “district” for out-of-town commuters). My first attempt at rye bread was perfect. How perfect was it? When I talk about my excellent scones, everyone says, “you really must bake rye bread again. The crust was perfect.”

    (The secret to very excellent scones is to grate frozen butter into the flour mixture and cut it in, rather than just cutting in cold butter. I don’t know why, but these turned out with a nice crisp surface. I think the secret to the rye bread crust is to bake it hot the first 20 minutes, 250C, then reduce that to 200 for the last 40 minutes, or whatever. As always, don’t take my word for it, consult a cookbook.)

I cooked a lot in general. I cooked General Tso’s Chicken for my birthday. I made rhubarb jam, and lemon marmalade, and two different kinds of elder flower jelly.
I learned that inactivity makes you depressed, but it’s a depression preferable to that caused by working and commuting.
I planted the raised beds (not, however, to my lasting dismay and even more to her lasting dismay, in the layout planned by my wife). I pulled a lot of weeds and mowed the lawn a lot. About all I have left on my list is something creative I had originally planned to spend all my extra time doing – like photography or writing – and a pull up, for which I currently lack the upper body strength and the pull up bar. I could go to a playground or the local park and try to work my way up to a pull up there on the lower children’s bars, but I imagine I would make nannies uneasy and I don’t want to be the one people are talking about when they tell their therapists twenty years from now, “I don’t know if it’s a real memory or somehow implanted but I remember a man with a bushy white beard and white hair up in a scraggly bun, wearing a business suit (the man, not the hair) hanging at a 45-degree angle beneath the children’s pull up bar in the park. That bun haunts my dreams yet.”

On Hearing

Man: (enters kitchen in the morning)
Woman: (looks up from phone) The cave bears were vegetarian.
Man: (Blinks, turns to leave) Hang on, I don’t have my hearing aids in yet.
Man: (Returns with hearing aids in place) Okay, I beg your pardon, what did you say?
Woman: The cave bears were vegetarian.
Man: Ok.

Pulp fiction and asymmetrical political debate

My father was a Greyhound bus driver and used to bring home books he said he found on the bus. I read them when I got my hands on them, like any other printed matter in that 1000 square foot house at the end of a long driveway with nothing else to do but dig holes, run around in the woods, saw scrap lumber into smaller pieces, hammer nails and set things on fire.

I remember two books in particular. The most memorable concerned a sex robot and featured my first exposure to the use, in literature* of the gusto-sodden phrase, “fuck me, fuck me, fuck me!”

The second-most memorable had two details I remember: a high-powered rifle that could (and did) shoot through the engine block of an automobile and the walls of a house containing men shooting, for a while, out of the windows at the man with the rifle; and a black box everyone was trying their best to get.

The black box didn’t do anything. Intelligence agencies had their best scientists study it, but they couldn’t figure it out. It was obviously of value, because everyone was doing their best to get their hands on it. But scientists hit it with hammers, or ran energy into it but no matter what they did nothing came out, it didn’t do anything. It was a mystery.

(Spoiler alert) The black box was designed by the Russians to waste the time and resources of other countries’ intelligence agencies. It was a weapon designed to waste their time and resources.

I think about this book every time I log onto Twitter. In particular, every time I read the tweets of leftists, or liberals, especially people tweeting, “45 said a stupid thing” or “45 did something horrendous.”

As if pointing out his bad spelling or fundamental evil will have any consequences.

There are more productive or effective uses of your time. 45 exists to occupy you. To waste your time and resources. To divert you from those more productive or effective forms of protest and action.

__________
*or anywhere else