Why Can’t Anyone See The Big Trump Picture?

In the ongoing bullshit-apocalypse that is modern American politics, it is de rigeur to point to any of our new president’s many faults for purposes of fear mongering or mockery: “He’s provoking China to start a nuclear war!”; “‘Great’ is his enormously favorite word!”; etc…

However, between social media and a number of news outlets (most recently this article on mic.com) we have in the last couple of weeks been inundated with weird stories about how the president uses scotch tape to secure the tails of his ties. They aren’t just stories, though, there is ample video and photographic evidence to prove it’s actually happening.

Predictably, virtually every response swings either to fear-mongering (“A Howard Hughes style nut has his finger on the nuke button!”) or mockery (“He doesn’t know how to shop!”; “He’s so cheap he won’t buy a proper tie!”; “He’s obsessed with his appearance!”), and both, of course, entirely miss the point. The most practical of the responses simply note that it “isn’t very presidential”, but this misses the point too.

The tie-tape is a silly thing, but it speaks volumes about the thought processes of the man supposedly leading the free world. Forget being “not presidential”, this is “not anyone-who’s-older-than-twelve-ish”. Think about it. Is this the act of a wealthy, successful businessman, or of a not-so-wealthy-as-he’d-like-us-to-believe but nonetheless successful con-man (the two apparent extremes of current political thought on the man), or is this the act of that kid who totally forgot it was class picture day and faked it at the last second with whatever he could borrow or scrounge from the bottom of his locker? Think about it. This is the kid who always astonished everybody by not studying for tests, but then wheedling a better grade out of the teacher after the fact. Every. Damn. Time.

This is the act of a man tho just doesn’t care about anything of substance. A man who lives his real life like it was a ‘reality’ TV show, where nothing matters as long as you can get one camera angle that looks good enough to sell the scene.

My concern here is that all the superlatives and overwrought hand-wringing the media direct at Trump distracts from this essential fact, that the man is just useless. His sole motivation in public view is to find some angle to present that looks OK so he can go back to screwing around and pretending he knows what he is doing. If Donald really does start World War III, it seems far more likely that he will do so through inattention than malice! Where Bush was accused of being a “useful idiot”, the Donald is a “useless slacker”.

What can evil men do in such a vacuum of concern?

Posted in For Facebook, General, Political | Leave a comment

The Magic of Winter

It is once again time for my annual recitation of the love I feel for the season!


The Magic of Winter

Evil, heavy, wet, and cold
they sit upon the ground.
They clog the air in scads untold
and muffle every sound.
A snowflake is a pretty thing
its facets sparkling bright,
But in its ultimate demise
I find a great delight.
For snow has made my life like hell,
my back to ache, my arms as well.
And travel, you can just forget,
my car’s a ski, can’t land a jet.
The upshot, friends, it’s sad to say,
our day’s deprived of light.
There’ll be no joy outside today,
forget about tonight.

Posted in For Facebook, Geeky, General, Personal, Uncategorized, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Yes. “Happy Holidays”, you schmuck!

joyNo, I’m not Jewish. Or Christian. Or Muslim/Hindu/Buddist/Jain/whatever! I did, however, grow up Catholic in a Jewish neighborhood. Maybe that gives me a little more perspective than most. Maybe not. But you know what’s most important to the discussion of “Happy Holidays”? I can fucking count! The people continuously posting stupid things like “It’s not ‘Happy Holidays’, it’s ‘Merry Christmas’!” apparently cannot.

Let’s say, for a moment, that I were a poorly educated, small-minded idiot that was only capable of recognizing holidays from my own Christian religion because the other ones “aren’t real”. If I could count, I’d still know that Christians alone have fifteen holidays just in December, and another seven in the first week of January. So even if I were this hypothetical idiot with the crudest of math skills, I’d “know” that everyone I greeted in the holiday season had multiple holidays coming soon, and all were church mandated holy days. Given all that, why wouldn’t I say “Happy Holidays”?

But let’s say I was a really ignorant idiot, who only knew about one of the holidays my own religion had in this season. Even then, I’d know that the secular holidays of New Year’s Eve/Day were one week afterward. So even my utter-idiot-self with the crudest of math skills would know that everyone I greeted in the holiday season had multiple holidays coming soon. Yet again, why wouldn’t I say “Happy Holidays”?

Now let’s say I had average intelligence and maybe read books, so I was aware I lived with countrymen of not only secular backgrounds, but even of other religions? Well then, in that case, I’d know about The Jews’ Hanukkah, the Buddists’ Bhodhi Day, the Hindus’ Pancha Ganapati, the Pagans’ Yule, etc. Maybe I’d even consider that sometimes, the people to whom I was talking didn’t know for certain that I was Christian, and wanted to wish me well without offending/confusing me.

Still confused? You can look this all up for yourself here.

In other words: Get a fucking grip. Take everyone’s well-wishes at face value, and stop being such a fucking schmuck! You’ll have lower blood-pressure…

Posted in For Facebook, Geeky, General, Philosophical, Rational | Leave a comment

Domestic Terror (No, not that kind)

Welp, we at the Hartley house had a hell of a weekend. Three days of hard labor, topped off with a little terror and a trip to the hospital.

After 2.5 years of having a child in the house, our “stuff” has exceeded our capacity. We can’t throw anything out, you see, because we’re going to need it for the next child, but in the meantime, we need more “stuff” for the current child, and have nowhere to put it. We could get rid of some of our older “stuff”, but that means spending months we don’t have sorting it all, to decide what to get rid of. As a stopgap measure, the decision was made to erect an 80 square foot storage building in the yard to house the “temporary” overflow. I believe this means we have officially become a Typical American Family ™.

Pursuant to this plan of action, the Hartley clan spent the long weekend assembling the aforementioned shed, a Home Depot monstrosity comprised of several hundred parts and tens of thousands of fasteners (hyperbole only just barely required for this description), all of it primarily composed of sheets of incredibly thin, sharp sheets of metal. The work was endless, thankless, frustrating, hand-slicing (yes, we had gloves), and supremely boring to a two-year-old, who vacillated between “helping” by moving things that were needed to places that were unexpected and hindering by producing an astonishingly productivity-hampering stream of sundry noises, questions, demands, leg-entanglements, and outright bawling!

By day three, we asked one of Dashiell’s babysitters to come and take him off our hands for a few hours, providing us the time and peace we needed to finish off the job. This seemed like a smart move at the time. However, after cajoling said babysitter into bringing him back outside to play, the boy managed to work himself into a playtime frenzy that involved darting recklessly from place to place while chasing a ball.

Needless to say, one of these dashes (no pun intended) led directly through our construction site, into the now 90% completed shed, over the eminently toddler-tripping door-track, and via an all-out power-dive into the unfinished rear-wall floor frame, which as previously mentioned is composed of diamond-edged sheets of doom-metal. As might be expected, much of this observation was realized by the adults present long after the fact. What we actually experienced at the time was a brief blur of motion accompanied by a crash and followed by shrieks of pain and abject terror. This was, by far, the most terrifying moment of my life as a parent thus far.

I immediately jumped down from a ladder and scooped him up, bringing him to Momma for examimation. On initial inspection, he had a welt on his forehead from where he had slammed his face into the wall, but seemed otherwise unharmed. As I have learned, however, Dashiell is quite capable now of telling us what may be wrong with him, so I asked him to “show me the boo-boo”, upon which he help up his clenched hand, opened it, and provided me with a new most terrifying moment of my life as a parent thus far. For lack of better description, as the hand opened, blood tumbled out of it, as though he were holding a cup that he had tipped too far and was spilling all over us. In a split second, I was drenched with it, and galvanized by the terror I saw in his mother’s eyes.

In less than a second, as near as I can tell, Daddy had clamped down on the hand to staunch the flow while Mommy had snatched up the boy. Thus entangled, we ran for the house, climbed a flight of stairs, dodged toys and babygates, and got to the kitchen, where the bright lights and first aid supplies live. The first thing we found was that the direct pressure was, in fact, preventing more bleeding, which downgraded the terror alert from “someone could die” to “OK, take a breath and get a look at it”.

What we saw, in the brief moment I removed pressure and replaced my hand with a wad of paper towels, was a half-inch long gash in the inside of the primary joint of our boy’s right pinky. It was deep; Deep enough I began to worry the tendons might have been cut (I’m not a doctor, but it happened to me when I was eight, so I have some experience). I managed to get him to flex his hand, proving there was no fully severed tendon, but the screaming that followed did little to allay our fears!

Now less panicked, we cleaned up a bit and drove directly to urgent care. This turned out to be a mistake. After spending fifteen minutes driving the wrong way (we discovered) to our doctors’ urgent care facility, and another fifteen answering questions that could as easily have been answered during or after an examination, in an act that has me seriously considering the need for a change in family doctors, a nurse told us, “Oh, well, if it’s a cut that might require stitches, we can’t do that. You should go to the emergency room…” The nearest emergency room, of course, was ten minutes from the house in the opposite direction from urgent care.

And so began our little slice of hell, wherein an hour and a half from the original accident, we began the waiting…

We actually got in and examined rather quickly. The PA determined that in fact the tendon was undamaged and that sutures would be utterly traumatic, and thus unnecessary for such a young child, so she stuck him back together with super-glue. We were told to wait right there (on a gurney in a hallway, since they had no beds available) for a nurse to come and put a protective bandage over the hand to prevent picking etc.

Two hours later, I found myself begging a random nurse to find it in her heart to finish up my child’s treatment, if for no other reason than so that we could stop covering his ears to protect him from the terrified crying and moans from nearby beds. Just as I finished this request, the woman in the bed parked next to us in the hallway stopped breathing and was whisked away to the “crash cart”, while my son tried to look around us to see what the commotion was all about.

I should perhaps point out at this point that both my wife and I lost our mothers to terrible diseases that involved years-long hospital stays while we were still in college, and have rather raw feelings about hospitals in general, and specifically about this particular hospital, where my father passed from cancer six weeks before our son was born there. We were both absolute emotional wrecks at this point, our now perfectly happy and curious son actively trying to determine what was wrong with Momma’s eyes.

I was literally moments from beginning a furious tirade at the nurses’ station (one which would obviously have been misplaced, but try telling that to caveman-daddy-brain), when a nurse bustled up to us with copious apologies, wrapped the bandage, and gave us our discharge papers.

We went to McDonald’s for dinner. Dashiell chose. Incomprehensibly enough, it went a long way toward making everything better. Also, he is now addicted to pencil-top trolls, a fad I had assumed died somewhere in the early nineties!

As a side note, our son was little affected by this whole thing. By the time we were at the “hopipal”, he had decided he needed no help holding the paper towel clenched in his hand, and was happily running around the waiting room asking for snacks and climbing things. He charmed every person he met, and although in clear pain, only even cried during treatment when the saline syringe they used to irrigate the wound first opened its seal, spraying out with a pop that startled him.

We got him home, put him happily to bed, curled up together, and cried and shook far more than he had.

This morning, when I woke him up, he asked me if we could go back the the doctor, because he wanted a matching bandage for his other hand. When I told him he didn’t need to go back to the doctor, he asked if we could go to a different doctor then. I love my boy…

Posted in Family, For Facebook, General, Personal, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh, Hell…

I just need to put this out there, for what it’s worth. Our two-year-old went out for his first real trick-or-treating in our neighborhood this Halloween. He came back with a giant load of candy, a huge, exhausted smile, and an odd little plastic bag that held a couple of pieces of what as kids we called “beat candy” and a tiny book.

HellFortunately for my family, I vaguely recognized the tiny book from pictures I’d seen online years ago, and intercepted the bag as it came out of the pile. It was what’s known as a “Chick Tract”, one of a few-thousand little religious propaganda cartoon books published by a fervid, puritanical nutjob named Jack Chick. I gave it a quick read to confirm.

This hateful little tome tells the story of a child being beaten and sexually molested in a foster home by filthy, evil atheists, and how he is saved by a crusading cop and a foster home full of Jesus freaks (with a weird side trip into how the UN tacitly approved the rape and murder of millions in Rwanda, because they’re filthy *European* atheists, of course), who teach the boy he’ll only stop feeling guilty for being molested if he prays for his molester’s soul, but it’s OK, because once he’s forgiven them, God will make sure they have a terrible accident or heart attack, die young, and go to hell.

Needless to say, I first threw away the candy, lest my child discover it was laced with something by the detestable purveyors of this monstrosity, then spent the rest of the evening keeping my rage from showing to my family. All I could think was, what if he were five, and gave it read it on the way home before I saw it? What if I never caught it, and this poison were poured into my impressionable child’s head with no counter-information from us? How many children actually saw and read this poison that night, and how many were mentally mature enough to filter out the hatred and perverse sex-obsession and see it for what it was?

I’ve been sick with seething hatred of these loathesome creeps for days, and needed to say it here to get it out of me. In one sense, I’m glad I have only a vague idea of the block it might have come from, as I really don’t know how I’d handle myself if I could go bang on their door. In another sense, I hate that I don’t know, because I can’t do anything to prevent my child from being exposed to their depravity in the future!

I suppose at least, in the unlikely event there IS an afterlife, I can take some comfort in the fantasy that wherever I end it up, it won’t be wherever they are!

Posted in Family, For Facebook, General, Personal, Philosophical, Rational, Uncategorized | 2 Responses
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