Terminal Thoughts

The other day I made reference to the fact that I would be unlikely to be flying anywhere in 2020, and might only do so in late 2021 — and for the first time in my life, I said to myself, “…should I live that long.”

I think the most depressing thing about getting old is that you get wary of making long-term plans — the old joke “I’m so old, I don’t even buy green bananas anymore” is a perfect example — and it can be depressing.

It doesn’t have to be, of course.  A friend of my own vintage recently embarked on a business venture which involves a massive construction project, and when I asked him when the whole thing will be finished, he said airily, “About fifteen or twenty years’ time.”  If that is true, he would be around eighty years old at completion date.

I’m not sure I would do anything like that.  At the same time, I’m still buying green bananas, so to speak, so there’s that.

At some point in a person’s life, you become resigned to the fact that you’ll never climb Everest, or race at Monaco, or make a billion dollars, or sleep with some famous beauty (maybe because she just died).  Those are the big dreams, of course, and mostly — realistically, even — just pipe dreams.  Still, their disappearance is a little of a jolt;  which is probably a preparation for a much bigger disappointment when you realize that your age precludes you from doing something that you did only  little while ago.  As an example, I’m most likely never going to be able to go deer-stalking in Scotland with Mr. Free Market, Doc Russia and Combat Controller again, because the trudging over the uneven ground of the Cairngorm Mountains is, to put it mildly, unthinkable.  I made a joke about that with the guys during a telemeeting, the other day, and said that if I were to do it again, I would only ever shoot at a distance no further than 50 yards away from the Land Rover — i.e. close to the road — whereupon Mr. Free Market said bluntly, “Then you’re never going to take another shot” (because most of the stalks now involve a prospect of a mile or two’s scrambling before the deer even come within a respectable shooting distance, assuming they haven’t moved in the interim).

So goodbye to all that, then.

It’s even more poignant when you think of your approaching end with regards to family and friends, especially family.  New Wife’s elder son has given her a grandson;  my own kids’ prospect of doing the same is becoming more and more remote with each year.  That, actually, doesn’t bother me too much as I’ve never been one of those parents who pushes their kids to provide grandchildren — in fact, I specifically told mine that I would never push them that way, and I’ve kept my promise.  But it also means that I’ll never be able to do the grandfather things with grandsons that my own grandpa did with me, and that’s a little sad.

If you reach that point where you start making a mental list of “things I’m realistically never going to do”, two things are going to happen:  the first is that you’ll give a mental shrug about some of them and say, “Oh well” and realize that the left undone isn’t important — I’m never going to fly an ultralight aircraft again or take my first parachute jump, for example.

But for the others:  do not be surprised if some of them hurt (as in the grandchildren scenario above, for example).  I will in all probability never meet up with some old and valued friends ever again, simply because of geography.  I will never hunt bear in Alaska (see “Scotland”, above, for reasons) — in fact, I may never hunt anything again, except maybe high birds with Mr. FM next year — and even then, I’m going to need to save a bunch of money to be able to afford the trip, money that I’m not at all certain of making (see:  Chinkvirus and similar disasters for reasons).  And I might need not one but two years to save that money, at which time I’ll be nearly 68 years old.  Fuck.  I might not even be able to make the walk from the Range Rover to the shooting positions at that age, and my already-shaky and fast-deteriorating eyesight might make the whole proposition impossible anyway.

As one gets older, one’s options start to shrink.  I watched a feature about Paul Newman the other night;  he only started auto racing in his early fifties, and won his last race at age eighty.  That doesn’t give me any hope at all, mind you, because Paul Newman was also a zillionaire, and lots of money does have an annoying tendency to make dreams come true a lot more quickly.  For some old guy drawing a meager Social Security check and needing a side gig to make ends meet, those — maybe any — kinds of dreams become increasingly unreachable.

All of which makes the picture in my masthead a lot more poignant even than it was when I first chose it.  I am wonderfully blessed by having found New Wife so that at least I can share the rest of my life with someone I love;  but figuratively speaking, our age might just cause us both to be confined to that lonely bench because with age, options disappear, horizons shrink and dreams fall apart.

And what happens when you can no longer afford green bananas?

Silver Lining

If anything good has come out of the Chinkvirus pandemic, it’s this:

A comprehensive study of behaviours and attitudes since the outbreak began found that three in five people will stop greeting friends with a hug and a kiss, and will also avoid crowded places in the future.

Include me in that number, although I hardly ever did it anyway.  This modern thing of men hugging other men who are not family has always given me the heebies.  I hug my son — and not even that often — and occasionally my friend Trevor (who insists on doing it because he knows it bugs me, and I don’t kill him because he’s my friend).  Other than that, ugh.

I don’t mind shaking hands, however, because I was brought up to do that with men, further affection being communicated by a punch or slap on the shoulder.

But not with women.  Unless it’s a business thing, I’m always tempted to turn a handshake with a woman into kissing her hand;  mostly, it’s greeted with giggles and sighs.  If I add, “Sorry, but I was brought up to love and respect women,” the response is universally positive.  Hugging is too intimate;  kissing a hand denotes respect.

As for hugging and kissing women I know… well, I’m never going to stop doing that.  (At the doctor’s the other day, I complained to his nurse practitioner — whom I’ve known for over fifteen years — that I wasn’t going to molest her as I usually do when I visit.  She shook her head sadly and said, “And I always look so forward to it, too.”  Aaah, Texas.)

Ultimately, though, I think that for the next few years we as a society are going to be more comfortable about keeping other people — and certainly strangers — at arm’s length, so to speak.  And that’s a Good Thing.  But as time passes, we’ll forget all about pandemic behavior and relapse into over-familiarity, which isn’t.


The other night I watched a little movie on Netflix entitled simply “Itzhak”, which unsurprisingly was a little mini-biography about virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Some background is necessary before I go any further.  I attended a classical concert in Chicago many years ago, and the “house band” was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then and now one of the finest orchestras in the world, conducted by Georg Solti, one of the finest conductors ever to wield a baton.  The opening piece (if I remember correctly) was something by Beethoven, and the CSO played it wonderfully.

Then Itzhak Perlman came to the stage, painfully hobbling along on his crutches, his polio-ravaged legs waving helplessly as he made his way to the First Violinist’s chair.  He sat down, rearranged his legs with his hands, then waited while the CSO began playing Brahms’s  Violin Concerto in D major, which is characterized by a lengthy introduction before the lead violinist plays a note.  Then it came time for Perlman to play… and the CSO took off like a fighter jet.  In other words, one man’s playing grabbed the already-magnificent orchestra and literally propelled them into a performance of unbelievable virtuosity.  The standing ovation from the audience lasted nearly as long as the performance itself, and several of the orchestra’s violinists dabbed at their eyes with tissues, so moved were they by the experience.

Itzak Perlman was and is a force of nature.

So when I saw this movie on Netflix, I hit Play with gleeful anticipation, and was not disappointed.

Itzhak Perlman is no ordinary man.  Quite apart from his virtuosity with the violin, he is a man of infinite compassion — his charitable works and teaching violin alone would set him apart from most people — he’s been married to his priceless wife Toby forever, is a devoted father to his large family, and loves his pet dogs almost as much, I think, as his children.  He is also wonderfully funny — his description of looking up something Jewish on the Internet as “Jewgle” made me guffaw for several minutes.  I have always loved Perlman’s playing — who could not? — but this was something different:  the longer the movie went on, the more I fell in love with this incredible, singular man.

But, of course, he’s Jewish.

And this would make him a target for all the assholes in the world:  the Muslims, the alt-Right, the academe and intellectuals (especially in Europe) and people like the loathsome Labour politician Jeremy Corbin who are infected with their foul brands of anti-Semitism.

Make no mistake:  to these people — think of Hitler and his Nazis as just the extreme embodiment — this man Perlman, this extraordinary, wonderful man who has been one of the greatest gifts to civilization ever, would be just another Jew to harass in the street, another Jewboy to kick and spit on, and just another Untermensch to load onto a train to be sent to Auschwitz.

Almost two years ago to the day, I wrote these words:

Pound for pound, the Jews have contributed as much or more to Western civilization than any other group — it’s even called the “Judeo-Christian tradition”, FFS — and to discount this contribution deliberately, to me, shows a shallow intellect at best.  (At worst, Hitler, but I’m not going to go there.)  Of course, I know that many Jews are socialists, communists, progressives, one-worlders, and all those things that are not only themselves distasteful, but are contradictory to Western thought.  Ending slavery in the Western hemisphere (an action performed solely by Western nations, lest we forget) is not the same as allowing Western culture to be perverted or submerged by inferior cultures — and let’s be perfectly honest, when compared to Western culture, all other cultures are in general absolutely inferior to ours.  To say otherwise is to be ignorant of history, or to be able to consciously deny the fact of the matter despite all evidence to the contrary.  Judaic culture, by the way, is not inferior to, say, Western culture and civilization because in no small part, theirs is almost indistinguishable from that of Western Europe because of their commonality.  That Israeli liberals seem perfectly prepared to help bring about the destruction of Eretz Israel was always a mystery to me until it was explained to me (by one of my good friends, an Orthodox Jew) that these liberals hate the state of Israel because it is culturally closer to Western European democracy than it is to Eastern European socialism.  And the liberal Israelis have camp-followers all over the world:  in Europe, Britain, the United States and anywhere that Jews can be found in any numbers.  Does that mean “conspiracy”?  Sure, if you’re a moron, because there are many, many Jews who are conservative, too — but somehow, the Conspiracy seems to have passed them by?  Not credible.
So:  am I pro-Israel?  You betcha.  I’m even more  supportive of Israel when I look at the nations of assholes who want Israel destroyed.
Do I think that a lot of Jews are liberal assholes?  You betcha, again. (Don’t even ask me about Jews and their support for gun control, unless we also mention JPFO, who also seem to have missed the memo.)
Am I prepared to become an anti-Semite because of The Great Jewish Conspiracy?  Think again, Adolf.
Would I stand aside if some anti-Semitic pricks started playing their little neo-Nazi reindeer games with Jews in the streets?  Not only would I not  stand aside, but I’d be standing between the two groups, telling the anti-Semites that they’d have to get past me first.
Ich habe Dachau gesehen.
And as long as I have breath in my body, “Never again!” will not be just an empty phrase, even if that seems to be the case with some Jews(!), who think that their tribe’s survival of the Holocaust was somehow irrelevant in today’s world.

Today, coincidentally, is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this post is dedicated to all my Tribe Readers especially, but also to all my Jewish friends and acquaintances all over the world.

After watching the movie about Itzhak Perlman, a rage descended on me that has not dissipated in the days since, and I’m not sure it ever will.

So here’s what I’m going to do.  Winging its way to me on the wings of the USPS is a yarmulke (kippah) — something not purchased, but given to me by a Jewish friend because, as I explained to him, it would mean more to me coming from a friend than if I’d just purchased it somewhere.

It’s going into my jacket pocket, to be carried everywhere I go.  And from now on, every time I walk around in an area which might be regarded as anti-Semitic — majority Muslim, majority Black, majority alt-Right, whatever  — I’m going to wear the yarmulke, not because I’m Jewish, but because I’m sick to death of this bullshit.

And to anyone who may take issue with me over this:  fuck with me at your peril.


I have the best Readers on the Internet, bar none.  That’s not sucking up, that’s a statement of fact.

When I put out my call for help last week, I had no idea what the response would be, mostly because everyone’s having pretty much the same kind of trouble I am, and let’s be honest, this blog is pretty thin gruel as a platform on which to base an appeal.

This is not a blog which offers legal advice, or medical advice, or even soft stuff which feeds the soul like movie reviews or stuff like that.  All you get for your visit is, well, all the stuff you see if you hit the “page back” buttons at the bottom:  guns, women, anger, commentary, vitriol and the occasional review of stuff I like that others may not be aware of, e.g. Dutch metal, an unknown artist or some obscure gun.

What I was not prepared for was the generosity and the breadth of your response to my appeal, which has been, in a word, astonishing.  Just so you know, you’ve basically kept the wolf from the door by enabling me to pay some large and unexpected costs, most especially a massive medical bill for New Wife, and a couple more of similar magnitude.  Were I still Ubering, I could have taken care of most of that just by working longer hours (as I have in the past), but with the Uber business drying up completely, that was no longer an option.

Instead, I can breathe freely for the next few weeks until the insanity is over and I can get back to work again.  And if all goes well, when the self-isolation and lockdowns go away and life can creep back to normal, New Wife can finally get a job so we can actually start saving.

We can but hope.

So on behalf of both Angie and myself, please accept our humblest and most grateful thanks.  Whether by small Patreon contributions or by larger single amounts, you my Readers have taken untold stress out of our life.

In return, while I’m still self-isolating (not splendidly, by the way — how ironic is that title now?) I promise to continue this blog with even greater zeal than I have before.  One Reader used these words (paraphrased, lest he be embarrassed):  “When your old website went dark before, I missed it badly — and if I can help it, that’s never going to happen again.”  Others said similar wonderful things, and all I can say is that you made New Wife cry, because she doesn’t know you like I do and was completely blindsided.

And using my isolation to good effect:  in a couple of weeks’ time, I will have completed a long-promised but creatively-blocked novel, which I will put on sale through Kindle so that everyone reading this can get one, for about the price of a lottery ticket.

It’s often said that “Words cannot express my gratitude” and that’s very true, but I’ve nevertheless tried to do so here, and I hope I’ve succeeded.

Thank you all, and bless every one of you for your generosity, kind words and support.

More Doubles

In a long-ago post (worth a read, BTW) I bemoaned the fact that my age-addled brain is having difficulty telling people apart.  Now there’s a new one:

Left:  Oz actor Hugh Jackman, and right:  Brit actor Richard Armitage.  I was watching The Stranger*  on Netflix the other night, and when Armitage first appeared onscreen I thought that Jackman had given up X-Men and was getting into Brit TV roles.

*Kim’s ranking:  5 out of 10 because the plot has more gaping holes than the 10pm dockside shift during Fleet Week.

Not-So-Splendid Isolation

Sorry to start the day on a downer, folks, but this Chinese virus [cf. POTUS]  is screwing with my life, bigly.

With no travel going on and people working more and more from home, my Uber income has fallen off the cliff.  From a seven-hour workday net (after expenses) income of around $20/hour, the past few days have seen it fall to nearly zero.  I mean zip, zilch, nada:  two hours’ waiting between calls, on a good day, and those trips are all short ones — nurses to and from hospitals, etc.

I’m not the only one, of course.  The Son&Heir, who’s the F&B manager at a large restaurant, told me yesterday that their hourly staff (waiters and hosts) are having their hours cut by 80%, and layoffs may follow in about a week’s time — and I have to think that other similar establishments are faring even worse, as his place does significant home- and office delivery sales.

I, of course, don’t have any of that kind of thing to fall back on.  New Wife had her residence application finally (!!!!) approved and got her temporary green card;  not that it helps, though, because she works in — ta-da!!!! — elementary schools, and guess who’s not hiring at the moment because Chinese virus?  At best,she’ll be hired in July for the new school year, but until then…

Frankly, nobody is hiring at the moment, of course, so even if I was able to, I can’t find any kind of full-time work.  (I’m kicking myself for not getting my trucker’s license many years ago — supermarkets in the area are experiencing supply bottlenecks because of a driver shortage.  That’s why there’s no bogroll in the stores.)

So I’m doing what I swore never to do again, and asking for financial assistance from you, O My Long-Suffering Readers.  Without that, our modest savings will be drained and we face financial ruin within two or three months.  (Forget indulgences like takeout food or trips to Boomershoot;  we’re talking rent, car payments and utilities here.)

I know that everyone is suffering at the moment in one way or another;  but if you can see your way to helping us out over the next couple of months until sanity returns to our world, all contributions will be most gratefully received.  You can contribute a small amount monthly via Patreon (over on the right-hand side of the page under Links), or with one-time amounts through PayPal or by check to the sooper-seekrit mailing address.

I hate to have to do this, but I have no other alternative.