Archive for the 'Nonclassified Nonsense' Category

Thunder on the Arkansas

14 June 2020 at 10:11 pm
by Jonah

I spent this weekend working as a corner marshal. That meant I wore a long sleeve white shirt, tan pants (I need to get some white ones), and stood all day in 99° heat in La Junta waving flags at cars.

Standing yellow means do not pass

In exchange for my service, I get to camp in a parking lot. We were awoken at 6 a.m. on Thursday by the sound of bulldozing concrete.

It’s loud.

At one point a car’s engine blew up on the track, leaving a giant track of oil. We had to go out and pour floor-dry on the oil and sweep it off the track. No one wants to race on a track slick with oil. Then another car’s engine blew up on the track. I was watching it happen. A Volkswagen Beetle in full Herbie colors started smoking profusely and pulled off into the paddock. He left behind another giant trail of oil. As we were sweeping, I mentioned that the situation reminded me of that scene in Cool Hand Luke. Someone laughed and said, “Calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.”

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

We ate at a restaurant on Friday and Saturday night, which is the first time we’ve been in a restaurant since March 11. The restaurants have every other table without chairs, and I think you’re supposed to wear masks until you’re seated. The first night we went to Boss Hog’gs, which has a $14.99 steak special but, more importantly, ice cold AmberBock on tap. The second night we went to the Mexico City Cafe. All the dishes there come with beans and vermicelli. The vermicelli tasted like spaghetti with Rotel. Is this a Mexican thing?

I prefer Mexico City Cafe over Boss Hogg’s, but neither one can compare to Lucy’s Tacos, which is, unfortunately, just a taco truck.

Berck came in second to last in all his races, but he completed them all, and didn’t run off the track! Well, in the last race, his fellow Formula Vee drivers Andy and Eric let him get in front of them, even though they’re faster. Eric tried to pull in front of Berck right before the checked flag, but Berck said he took his last corner so well that he finished in front of Eric anyway.

But they’re in different classes anyway, so Berck still came in 2nd to last.

On Saturday, some clouds mercifully rolled in, but right after the racing had ended for the day and I’d cracked open a beer, we were hit by an intense haboob. The wind was so intense that the only thing keeping the porto-potties flying away was the cable holding them to the ground, but that didn’t keep them from becoming airborne and turning sideways in the air.

Our tent and sheets were full of dirt. Then it started raining. Berck got on the phone and got us a motel room for our last night. Also we had showers. There wasn’t any hot water, but I wanted a cold shower anyway because I was so hot.

This race wasn’t supposed to happen. The first Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing race of the year scheduled for May got cancelled. The second one was supposed to be in Pueblo last weekend, but the city of Pueblo hadn’t allowed the racetrack there to open yet. But at the last minutes this race in La Junta got scheduled. Unfortunately, even though we got three inches of snow at our house in Divide on Tuesday, it is already full-on summer in La Junta.

The organizers cut all the races for today short, and I didn’t hear anyone complaining. We were glad to finally get out of the heat. Berck’s run group was first, so he was almost done packing everything up by the time I was done for the day. We had time to stop by Lucy’s Tacos one more time before leaving town, and I got a giant ice filled horchata for the ride home.

Taking up all the parking at Lucy’s Tacos

I tried to wear a mask and stay apart from people in the volunteer meetings. But it was really nice to do something fun after being at our house for so long. More photos here.

What I hope remains

10 May 2020 at 9:29 pm
by Jonah

We stop shaking hands.  (This was always a huge disease spreader for things like the common cold.)

We work from home more.

We go on fewer business trips.

We treat medical professionals, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, and truckers like heroes.

We make more home cooked meals.

We garden more.

We do things that are inconvenient for ourselves to try to protect the most vulnerable among us.

We reach out to our friends and loved ones more, even if we can’t do it in person.

There are more science stories on social media.

Dogs get to go on more walks.

Parents are more involved in their children’s education. 

There are fewer people in movie theaters and more people reading books.

There are fewer people watching sports and more people playing board games together.

“Stay safe” replaces “Have a good one”.

No paywalls for important news.

The feeling that we’re all in this together.

Delivery cocktails.

Dear Ian

1 April 2020 at 11:59 pm
by Jonah

Dear Ian,

Happy 16th birthday! I bought you a present, but I got an e-mail today from Amazon saying that they had tried to deliver your package to your PO box but that they couldn’t because there was no one there to sign for it.  I kind of think they’re not being quite truthful with me, but who knows these days.  At least I tried. I should be able to get it to you eventually. 

Uncle Berck and I are both working from home, which we can both do as long as we have our computers and the Internet. There are only two people working in my normal work office, and I offered to come in so that one of them can work from home but I was told they didn’t want that because I have a sore throat.  My throat has been slightly sore for the last two and a half weeks.  I’ve been happy to keep working.  I’m one of the best people at what I do in the state of Colorado, which I’m pretty proud of.

To see if he has a fever, Uncle Berck has been checking his temperature regularly with the kind of thermometer that you rub against your forehead.  He’ll do it about five times in a row, and each time it says a different temperature.  Then he comes over to me and interrupts whatever I’m doing and rubs it on my forehead. Each time he looks at he display and says, “Hmmm.”  I’m not sure this thermometer works all that well.  But we feel fine for the most part.

One of our favorite restaurants just closed. King’s Chef Diner served massive portions of delicious, greasy food topped with spicy green chili. They were always packed on weekends.  After all the restaurants were ordered closed, they tried to stay open for take-out only, but they announced last week they were closing.  I hope they aren’t closed for good.  I worry they are closed for good.

Three days ago a country singer named Joe Diffie died of the virus.  He had a song in the 1990’s that I liked called “Third Rock from the Sun”.  He was 62.  Today a member of a band I really like called Fountains of Wayne died of the virus.  He was 52.  That’s just six years older than I am, and a lot younger than Nana and Pop. A lot of people have died of the virus, but for some reason this particular one made me really sad.

Uncle Berck decided we should hole up in our house the day after your mom and dad decided to. I did the day after that.  It turns out that was a wise decision. 

I know this situation won’t last forever, and I hope this is the only year you don’t get to have a real birthday party.  I’ve been trying to keep positive.  I know from history that most of us will make it through this OK and we’ll collectively celebrate our victory one day.  But history also seems to indicate this crisis won’t be over anytime soon.  

Well, after writing this, I guess I won’t send it to you.  Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions, and I can’t seem to write about anything today except how said I am. Maybe I’ll go read some articles people have been publishing about how it’s OK to grieve in these times. 

Again, have a happy birthday, and I’ll see what I can figure out what’s going on with Amazon.  Maybe they’re too busy delivering hand sanitizer, which I guess is OK with me.


Aunt Joanna


30 March 2020 at 9:20 pm
by Jonah

Today is the start of work week three of our self-isolation. Sometimes I feel sorry for people who live alone. And then there are days where I feel like living alone might be nice.

We might live in the best place in the world for self-isolation. We have a beautiful view. We have more books than we will probably ever read. We have a barrel with 55 gallons of beer (well, the beer evaporates, so it’s less than that).

I’m used to being home and not going anywhere. I homeschooled. So sitting at my desk doing work while another person sits at their desk doing their work isn’t unusual for me. When I was a kid, my little brother, who wasn’t doing school work, would taunt me from the banister up the stairs. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I’d run upstairs and tickle him to try to get him to stop.

These days Berck works at his desk. I either work upstairs at the dining room table or down at my desk, depending on which place is warmer. If the sun is shining, I like to be upstairs. Today it was snowing, so I came downstairs and sat at my desk closer to the fire.

On a normal work day, if we left for work, the cat excitedly greets whoever gets up first. When that person leaves for work, the cat then goes to the corner of our bed and pouts. He lies there with his appendages tucked under him, stares straight ahead, and won’t react to anything. It’s heartbreaking. When we come home in the evening, he runs to the window and shouts at us through the glass. In the summer, we can hear him meowing loudly. In the winter, all we can see is his little jaw flapping. Then he runs to the door and jumps into my arms or onto Berck’s shoulders and rubs his face furiously against us.

It’s enough to make you guilty for leaving the little guy all day. But you know what he does on the weekends? Around midmorning he starts his nap. Then he gets up grumpily around 6ish. So it’s hard to feel bad for leaving him all day when all he’s going to do is sleep anyway.

But we haven’t been anywhere for the last two weeks, except to go to the store for a grocery pickup and to get the mail (Berck begged to go with me both times so he could drive somewhere… anywhere). And most of the time the cat naps. But today was an especially short nap.

His nose is cold.

Today Professor von Neuamann wanted to walk on keyboards. And he wanted to climb on shoulders. And just like my little brother used to do, he climbed halfway up the stairs and taunted me from the banister.

Some cats like laps. Ours likes laptops.
Mostly, he likes shoulders.
Working hard

At some point, I needed to make a phone call to one of my clients, so I went into the guest bedroom and closed the door. About halfway through the phone call, I could hear the cat yowling from outside the door. Our cat resents closed doors.

Once I finished the phone call, I hung up and opened the door. The cat was not right outside the door waiting to be let in, like I expected him to be. He had used his litter box, which is currently located in the second bathroom, then jumped onto the bathroom counter, switched on the fan, and was perched on the counter screaming. He screamed until I finished scooping out his fresh poop. It was pretty stinky, so it was nice of him to have turned on the fan.

Professor von Neumann knows how to turn on the fan in the downstairs bathroom because he does it to try to annoy us. When he was a “teenager”, I decided to teach him not to wake us up at five in the morning, since every morning he would start caterwauling at 5:00 a.m. on the dot. He apparently thought that was when we should wake up. So for a very long time, every morning he would start singing the song of his people, I would get up, grab him by the scruff of his neck, take him downstairs, and lock him in the downstairs bathroom. This is in no way cruel in any way, but it was quite effective because he hated it so much. He would express his displeasure by banging on the shower doors and screaming as loudly as he could. But because he was downstairs and our bedroom is upstairs, we could barely hear him. He eventually taught himself to turn the light on and then how to turn the fan on. He would scream and turn the fan on and off and on and off, and I would turn over, so my good ear was against the pillow and my deaf ear was exposed, and go right back to sleep. Berck, with his two functioning ears, isn’t as lucky.

The Professor has learned not to wake us up in the morning anymore (at least not by caterwauling). But he has apparently kept his fan-turning-on skills sharp. I still don’t know why he turned the fan on today, other than to express his displeasure at me locking him out of the guest bedroom. I guess I should take him with me next time I need to make a phone call.

Today, after he was being as annoying as he could be, I tried to distract him with a shoelace for a while, whipping it back and forth with one hand while typing with the other. When he got too annoying, I did this.

This slowed him down, though he did start trucking around like a tank.

He was happy to swat at the shoelace through the slots in the upturned laundry basket for a while. But then he gave out a couple of mournful yowls that indicated he was sad that he was trapped. Because he might be smart enough to turn the bathroom fan on and off, but he can’t figure out get out from under a laundry basket.

Maybe I should just give him more practice.

Tuckered out from a hard day of work

Birthday Eve

22 March 2020 at 6:40 pm
by Jonah

Tomorrow is my birthday; I turn 46. I was looking forward to going to Carlos’ Bistro. Usually, he’s closed for the month of March, but he announced a couple weeks ago that he’d be open starting March 18.  Now he’s closed.  Every restaurant in Colorado is closed.  But even if the restaurant were open, we wouldn’t go now.

Fortunately, we have enough cake flour from last year for Berck to bake me a cake.  It’s only been expired for like a month, which counts as fresh in my house. Berck cooks me whatever I want for my birthday, and this year I chose meatballs, because Berck doesn’t like meatballs and won’t cook them normally.  Meatballs are one of those things that can be really bad… or really good.  I love good meatballs.  Heck, I love decent meatballs.  My favorite sandwich at Subway is the meatball sandwich with everything except olives, salt and pepper, oil and vinegar, yes, banana peppers, yes, jalapenos. But I only get it if if I can eat it sitting at a table because it makes a huge mess.  We fortunately have enough ground beef to make meatballs.  Our vegetable options, on the other hand, are limited.

We’ve self-isolated since Friday, March 13 and have been working from home. We have plenty of toilet paper because I bought a Costco pack a couple of months ago.  We’re running low on milk.  This morning I put in an order at the grocery store for pick up, but the website said I couldn’t pick it up until Wednesday.

I haven’t been allowed to return to work because I have a sore throat.  Other than a sore throat and some congestion first thing in the morning, I’ve felt fine.  I’ve been working remotely 8 hours a day on weekdays.  I’ve been trying to get sunshine and exercise (shoveling snow).  I’ve been leaving Zip-Locks of sourdough starter outside for neighbors to pick up after a discussion the neighborhood Facebook page because everyone is bored and staying home.  I wipe the Zip-locks down with alcohol before I leave them outside.

But today I don’t feel good.  I feel like I just want to lie in bed and read.  I feel cold.  I’m not coughing or running a fever. But I have no appetite. I don’t even want meatballs. 

I’m not afraid, and I’m not anxious. I moved most of my 401(k) assets into bonds and money markets a couple of years ago. I have a full pantry and fridge.  My cheese drawer is as intimidating as always. I am ashamed that we are out of peas and kidney beans (though we have dozens of cans of all the other beans).  Last year Berck bought a UPS for the pellet stove and a generator.  I’m also not afraid to die, though I was kinda hoping I was only halfway through life.  The news keeps talking about how young adults, age 20-45, are less likely to die of COVID-19.  Which means tomorrow I am more likely to die.  And am no longer a young adult. 

Which I find a little insulting.