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Dad has been in the hospital since Tuesday.

His colectomy surgery to address lingering problem from his 2018 diverticulosis episode had originally been postponed because the hospital was full of COVID patients (but they later found room after calling in support from the National Guard). Measures designed to prevent the further spread of COVID within the hospital mean that he is allowed only one visitor per day. COVID is stretching hospital resources so thin that staff have been forced to leave Dad lying on soiled sheets because clean and sanitized sheets were not immediately available.

One thing I cannot blame on COVID is Dad's hallucinations, presumably resulting from a combination of medications and lack of sleep. In the midst of a waking dream, he removed all his catheters and drips and tried to tear out his drain. This last bit may have damaged his sutures. He's now subject to a more robust watch by the nursing staff, which in practical terms doesn't mean as much as it might because the staff is already overtaxed tending to patients suffering from COVID*.

The point here is that I'm finding it increasingly difficult not to be rationally furious at every idiot who has participated in extending this fucking pandemic that for 18 months and counting continues to make life both more difficult and more perilous for everyone on the planet.

As I waited to pass screening into the hospital yesterday, the lady working the front desk was trying to be apologetic about the hospital's restriction procedures. "Numbers have been going down the past two weeks. It may be over soon," she said. I said, "I've heard that before." She gave up trying to make small talk with me, a lesson everyone should probably take to heart, at least until we can all talk to one another safely without masks on.

*UPDATE: I've been sitting in the hospital room all afternoon, and the staff couldn't be nicer or more attentive. I should not impugn their Herculean efforts. The COVID era sucks for them, too.

UPDATE 2021-09-26: Today, Dad developed a case of hospital delirium and escaped from the hospital on foot. Full credit to the entire staff, including the nurses who were bowled over by a fleeing, bow-legged senior citizen and the security guards who peacefully returned him to his bed. I mention this so specifically because the hospital staff continues to do a great job under the most trying circumstances. (Personally, I would have let him just keep running, which is the best argument for why I should never work in a hospital.)

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My father was supposed to have surgery this past Tuesday to finally address complications resulting from his diverticulosis in October 2018. It didn't happen.

We've spent most of the past three years dealing with his heart issues, which made doctors uneasy about intestinal surgery. First an artificial valve, then a pacemaker, then another pacemaker.... Now that those are resolved, Dad was all set to finally put (most of ) his abdominal issues to rest. Unfortunately, things continue to work out not as planned. This time, the hospital had to cancel. It seems they ran out of room.

Late this week, Piedmont Hospital Newnan was forced to call in the National Guard for help against the latest surge against COVID-19. They didn't need that help back in January, so that tells you how bad this wave is. According to one report, they are booked to 125% of capacity, with the Emergency Room waiting room converted to temporary overflow COVID-patient holding.

(Side note: They say that most of those currently ill with the Delta variant weren't vaccinated. I wonder what the overlap is in Georgia between those who chose not to vaccinate and those who have no health insurance? I'd ask a high school student to draw that Venn diagram, but masks are optional in Coweta County schools, and I don't want to end up in the hospital myself.)

Both Dad and I like to think that one day he'll finally be fixed enough to avoid his current monthly visits to a urologist and surgeon. Maybe so. But the way things are going, it doesn't look like it's going to be any day soon.

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I typically say something snarky here, but I'm proud of that pasta

That there, that's homemade spaghetti. And I made it! And it tastes great!

Yeah, I know. People have been making homemade pasta — essentially just flour and eggs — for centuries, maybe millennia. But none of those people have ever been in my kitchen.

As it happens, my father gave me the pasta roller/cutter and drying rack you can see in the image above for Christmas... Christmas 2019. (I might even have asked for them.) Which means I've had them throughout the pandemic of 2020-21. Despite all the "free" time that gave me away from restaurants, I never made any pasta until now. Why not? I guess I was intimidated. I thought it would be a lot of work. Turns out it is.

I got the recipe from my favorite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, and I used advice I've picked up over the years watching Joe Bastianich criticize would-be Italian cooks on MasterChef. ("Salty like the ocean!") I understand now why that show always has so much footage of people struggling with pasta rollers. While the dough itself is a breeze, the little home consumer counter-mounted pasta roller is a bastard. I christened mine "Mussolini's Revenge."

So it is all a lot of trouble, but it might be worth it. I can now attest firsthand: fresh pasta is good eating.

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My father has problems with the way I communicate, but it's not always my fault.

I'm just a soul who's intentions are good.

I was texting some do-it-yourself instructions and tried to type the phrase "easy peasy."

My autocorrect changed it to "eat pussy."

If that's what my autocorrect thinks I should be saying, who am I to correct it?

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My father's aging (10+ year old) DIRECTV satellite receiver finally died, so he called AT&T for a replacement. That was the easy part. The new receiver came within 3 days, and Dad installed it (correctly!). He then visited the url the device displayed on screen for remote activation. That link re-routed to a page that told him to call a telephone number, so he did.

The first customer service representative he spoke to tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Repeatedly. Dad ultimately had to abort this attempt for a pre-scheduled doctor's appointment. Afterwards, he had me try again in the hopes that I would be better able to communicate with the technician. The customer service representative I spoke to also tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Then she hung up on me. I don't think it was her fault. She was using AT&T phone service, after all.

At this point I stopped waiting for a customer service representative to suggest what I suspected: that the problem might be in the receiver's access card. The receiver was reporting an on-screen ID number of "0000-0000-0000", which happens to be the default number if there is no card installed. When I opened the panel, I did indeed discover that whoever had inserted the card before shipping had installed it upside down. The old receiver model took cards face down; the new model required face up. I pulled the card, turned it over, plugged everything back in, and called DIRECT a third time. This time, the customer service representative was able to activate the receiver on the first try.

The terms for the new receiver required the old receiver to be shipped to DIRECTV for recycling. Again, the url that DIRECTV provided for generating a label was outdated, redirecting to *another* page that returned a 404 page error. After a little creative Googling, I found an AT&T electronics recycling link that appears to do what the suggested link was supposed to have done. By this time I was not surprised when the website instructions (and generated label) made it clear the receiver was to be mailed via USPS but the downloaded file called it a "FedEx Shipping Label." AT&T seems to have a real problem with modernization.

Hopefully, Dad will get credit for returning his receiver as instructed, though given how hard it was to do almost everything else, I'm not holding out strong hope. I'm starting to feel like I'd have a better chance if I sent a telegraph to the company to tell them it was coming and personally handed the box to a Pony Express rider.

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Dictionary.com made news this week by defining "supposably" to mean "as may be assumed, imagined, or supposed." That's the same definition typically ascribed to "supposedly" ("according to what is accepted or believed"). There was a time in my life I would have been bent out of shape about this.

Where I come from, "supposably" is not a word. At least, it's not that word. According to my trusty Websters New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (2nd Edition), "supposably" should mean "in a supposable manner." However, it has been used as a mispronunciation of "supposedly" for so long that some 21st-century lexicographers have finally thrown up their hands in defeat.

I have a personal connection to this word because my father has always uses supposably when he means supposedly. In his case, I think he does it because it bothers me. Dad's a real tease that way. (See? It's not my fault. I have been trained to be argumentative by a parent who thinks its fun to fly red flags in front of bulls!)

The reason I'm not a raving basket case over this new definition is because A) I've been reading a lot lately about the bizarre and often counter-intuitive developmental history of the English language, and B) the world is in such a state that if I let myself get worked up over words these days then I'm really going to need to start drinking. The meanings of English words have been meandering for centuries and will continue to do so for so long as someone is still speaking the language. I need to remember that the important part of language is understanding one another, not clinging to arbitrary rules of pronunciation.

That said, I will continue not using "supposably" in my own writing. Even in the 21st-century, a man's got to stand for something.

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Actual conversation:

ME: If America was a corporation whose CEO had run it the way America has been run for the past 6 months, would you renew the contract of that CEO?

DAD: Yes. I think America is doing great right now.

ME: Right now? A year ago, maybe. But not right now. Right now, things are terrible. (Points at television.) For example, there are riots in Wisconsin right now.

DAD: Donald Trump sent the National Guard into Wisconsin.

ME: If the presence of the National Guard is an indicator of greatness, why weren't they in Wisconsin last year?

DAD (looking at me like I had two heads): They didn't need them last year. There were no riots then!

You can't argue with logic like that.

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Superman might not have time for movies, but I do. (Have you seen what's on television? I can only watch so much of that.)

First off, let's knock out these five at once:

58. (1712.) Mystery 101: An Education in Murder (2020)
61. (1715.) Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder (2020)
71. (1725.) Flower Shop Mystery: Dearly Depotted (2016)
75. (1729.) Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance (2020)
91. (1745.) Flower Shop Mystery: Mum's the Word (2016)
94. (1748.) Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek (2020)

There's not a whole lot to say about these individually. Most of them are fair to middling mysteries, nothing to write home about. Ruby Herring is still getting better with each installment, while Aurora Teagarden has given up on even acknowledging its red herrings. The others are good enough for watching with your mother when there aren't any game shows on.

74. (1728.) Comrade X (1940)
Imagine if they set a Cary Grant romantic comedy against the backdrop of the Communist revolution. It goes out of its way to intentionally misunderstand the revolution its satirizing — girls can't be boys! — but it does have its moments.

76. (1730.) Taxi Driver (1976)
I've been avoiding this for years because I thought I wouldn't like it, but I finally gave in... and discovered I was right. I felt slimy for watching. (Fuck Natural Born Killers. This is how you inspire murderers, as Hinkley Jr proved.) However, it does look and sound great. If any one movie is responsible for the feel of Fight Club, it's got to be this one. Probably not the best choice in the current political climate.

Drink Coke! (Taxi Driver)
You drinkin' from me?

77. (1731.) Our Miss Brooks (1956)
Eve Arden and her radio/television show of the same name are great, but this film isn't. Ninety minutes is simply too long to sustain the man-hunter plot.

78. (1732.) Peter Rabbit (2018)
My Dad said he hated this because that rude rabbit Peter killed old man McGregor, which I really think says more about my father than this movie. I thought it was cute, especially thanks to the antics of the good bunnies, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.

More to come.

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I've been wondering how I will remember these dark days when we come out the other side. Travel restrictions, face masks, food shortages.... Frankly, we probably should have experienced it before now. America has been continuously at war with someone or other since 2001, and the public hasn't experienced any hardships like what happened in previous wars. Would we still be in Afghanistan if Americans had to share rolls of toilet paper in 2002?

Waaaaay back in the first week of March, when it became clear to everyone that this Covid-19 thing was going to be a real problem for neo-isolationist America, I rather naively believed that if everyone hunkered down, it would all blow over within two months. What a sucker I was for assuming everyone in the country was taking the plague very, very seriously. Like, prison solitary confinement seriously. However, I failed to take into account that no one can tell an American that they can't enjoy a Big Mac while test-firing their AR-15 inside the church of their choice. 'Merica!

It's now quite obvious that this thing isn't going to be over any time soon. I'm no president, but even I recognize that we can't start to relax restrictions until we know actually who has and who can spread the disease. Two months in, we've managed to test less than one percent of the country. At the current pace, it will take another sixteen years to test the rest. That speed will inevitably accelerate, but by any metric, we're still many months away from where we need to be for resuming what used to pass as "business as usual."

Personally, I'm still terrified that I'll catch the disease and give it to my family. Last month, I broke my piggy bank to renew my UGA football season tickets, but I cannot imagine that I'd attend any of those games if something doesn't drastically change in the next five months. Given the pace of progress, I'm beginning to suspect those games won't be played at all, at least not with fans in the stadium. I don't know what I'll do without football — specifically college football, that is. If the NFL doesn't play this fall, it may be a good excuse for me to give it up. It's not like the Dolphins have been all that entertaining over the past two decades.

I don't have much of a reputation for "staying positive," but I'm trying. Fewer cars on the road will help with global warming. Families will have time together they otherwise never would have experienced. People can explore new hobbies. For example, I'm now delivering what groceries I can find to my father, who is spending his time writing Trump fan fiction. Such is life in 2020.

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There's been not much else to do lately other than watch movies.

27. (1681.) Naughty Marietta (1935)
In this musical romantic comedy in the vein of Taming of the Shew, opera-singing Marietta (not her real name) is "naughty" in the same sense as a headstrong child, not a burlesque dancer. I only figured that out once I realized they were all singing that high-falutin' opera stuff. (Opera fans don't care for titties.)

29. (1683.) Girls Trip (2017)
Stealing every scene and delivering all the laughs, Tiffany Haddish deserves her status as breakout star in this, an otherwise unremarkable raunchy sex comedy. Which is not to say that it's bad. Raunchy sex comedies by their very nature aren't trying to break new ground in cinema. The genre is dependable comfort food, much like Coca-Cola for the eyes.

Drink Coke! (Girls Trip)

What's that, you say? You think a disposable cup in a street scene isn't intentional product placement? Ok, fine. How about this?

Drink Coke! (Girls Trip)
Case Closed.

30. (1684.) Pygmalion (1938)
Once upon a time, my father, discovering I hadn't seen My Fair Lady, said, "Aw, just tell everyone it's a remake of Pygmalion." Now that I've finally seen Pygmalion, holy shit. It's exactly the same film, minus the songs. I always thought Rex Harrison was a dick in My Fair Lady, but that's not his fault; it's the part. Sorry, Rex.

31. (1685.) Manhattan (1979)
An utterly beautiful movie better watched with the sound off. Woody Allen goes out of his way to make his own life miserable in almost all of his movies, and he doubles down here, dating a child and sleeping with his best friend's mistress. Yeah, that's going to end well.

32. (1686.) The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
I suspect that the reason Ryan Reynolds' roguish charm works in this film is due in no small part to Samuel Jackson doing his best to one-up him. They seem like they're having fun, and that's often infectious for the audience.

34. (1688.) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
While I really appreciated the cynical comedy in this, it's the ending that really sticks with you. Is this a Shakespearean comedy, or a tragedy cut off just before the fine act? A good conversation piece.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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