Are Europeans cooler than Americans? In normal times, I would say, ARE YOU KIDDING ME HAVE YOU SEEN EUROVISION???  ; however, in these times of global pandemic, I’m thinking that Europeans are way hella cooler than I ever thought they were. I was listening to Sylvia Poggioli report for NPR about the corona virus from Rome and she ended her piece by translating something she saw on a city wall, courtesy of a local graffiti artist:

The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.

This is high class graffiti, if you ask me. I think this is beautifully sad, and sums up our shared COVID experience, but is particularly meaningful for what we in America are going through, not because of the disease but because of, well, you-know-who turning our nation into a shithole country.

The line is  from Antonio Gramsci (January 22, 1891 – April 27, 1937), an Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician who wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. He attempted to break from the economic determinism of traditional Marxist thought and so is considered a key neo-marxist. He died in prison, having been brutalized for over a decade by the Fascists because “For twenty years we must stop this brain from functioning”.

Gramsci wrote the above line while in prison, in 1929.

Our Dear Reader Steve, an American living in London, has reported on his blog  Shadows & Light,  that someone has been walking around North London wearing a Plague Doctor suit:

This, too, sticks me as a very classy, European way to make a comment on life during COVID. Fun Fact: The face mask is shaped like a bird’s beak because the doctor wearing it would fill it with sweet-smelling flowers and spices to counteract the evils in the air during the Plague of 1656.

Can you imagine what would happen if someone walked around New York City with that get-up? Nobody would get the reference, and I’m pretty sure they would get beat up, because tensions are high and people are irritable and this outfit is scary.

You can buy a Plague Doctor suit from Walmart on-line for $66.98.

For fun, I googled “COVID graffiti” and the inter webs did not disappoint.

This is more graffiti from Rome:

Wetteren, Belgium:

Nairobi, Kenya:

Madrid, Spain:

Sale, Morocco:

Glasgow, Scotland:

I don’t get the Pulp Fiction reference, but all around the world we all wear face masks and we all know what the virus looks like and it makes me feel that we really are all in this together, except for these dip shits:

I personally don’t know anyone who is out there bitching about governmental over-reach. The people I know are delighted to follow the order to stay home and stay far away from everybody. I myself am having a whale of a time. I haven’t made a To Do list in weeks, I live every moment as “Present”, and I experience time much the same way as our early human ancestors did — as an un-numbered, unhurried flow of days and nights that give life a pleasant rhythm of sleep and wakefulness, doing and not doing.

The only thing I have to show up for is my weekly Korean class and this week I got the biggest thrill. This is my current level of reading comprehension:

If you’ve ever learned a foreign language, you know that in the beginning it all feels random and impossible, and nothing makes sense, and everything whizzes past you at a terrifying speed. And then one day, something clicks and you begin to recognize a pattern or a word or two, and then a whole complete thought appears like magic and you think, Wow, I’m almost fluent! And then it goes away and you’re confused again, but for that brief moment you had a glimpse of what being inside that language will feel like, one day, and it’s enough to keep you going.

That’s where I am this week. I can read!  Now, let me see if I can say this in Korean:

못쓰게 만들다 Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Footnote:

We in the US have a TV show called Ozark and the actress Julia Garner won an Emmy for her role, and yes, she actually did say, on that show and in character:  “I don’t know shit about fuck.” That’s the kind of witty repartee we have in America.

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you Wednesday, and in the meantime, ignore the monsters. Go have a nice glass of wine. It’s still good to be alive.

 

 

 

 

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My breakfast is a cup of tea and a nice piece of toast, which is how I ensure that I begin each day in a good mood before, you know, life comes along and fucks it up.

I love toast. It’s my favorite food that isn’t pizza, so I am particular about the bread I use for my toast. I use a “short long ciabatta” from a boutique grocery store bakery here on the north shore of Long Island that makes it every hour, and I like to get there when the loafs are still warm from the oven. At home, I put it in the toaster oven on a “bake” setting until it’s toasted to a golden beige, and then I  butter it with Beurre D’Isigny demi sel from France, and I top it all off with a sprinkle of Himalayan salt (the pink stuff, for whimsy).

Top Cat did the weekly shopping and came home without my short long ciabatta — he said the bakery was sold out. So the next day, I was going to make a special trip back to the boutique grocery store to get my ciabatta (yes, I know, “privilege”), and Top Cat told me, “Maybe you want to try the brioche? It looked pretty good when I was there.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t care for brioche.”

And I thought, Jesus, my 10-year old self would never have imagined me one day saying something like, “I don’t care for brioche”. When I was growing up, we did not go to restaurants. The only Chinese food we ever ate came from a can — does anyone remember La Choy chicken chow mien? We did not buy bread from a bakery — we ate store-brand white bread and when we felt fancy, we’d put a few slices on a small plate for the dinner table so we could have bread-and-margarine with our canned stew. We didn’t know people who went “abroad”; that was only in movies (Sabrina and American in Paris).

No, no way could 10-year-old me have thought that one day, during a global pandemic, I would be turning up my nose at brioche, but this is the kind of person I have become. I think 10-year-old me would be rooting for me.

I did go to the boutique grocery store and I got my loaf of ciabatta, but I also got two onions, nice big Spanish onions, for cover. That way, I could look as if I were actually shopping for basic foodstuffs, the humble root veg of the people, and not defying lockdown orders just for one fancy fresh-baked Italian baguette.

BTW, this loaf is unusually puffy, so it’s a bit too fat to fit easily in my toaster oven and this morning’s toast was a bit burnt, so, karma.

I’m sure we’d all rather dwell on toast than think about the orange shit stain in the White House,but anyway, here’s today’s round up for your entertainment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now go have a nice piece of toast and I’ll see you all back here on Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s cold and gray today here on the north shore of Long Island. I would complain that it’s May for christ sake and we shouldn’t have to wear Winter coats for the one hour that we are allowed to be outside, but I’m trying to change my ways and be a happy hamster for once.

Thank you to everyone who left a nice Comment about last week’s story of my general uselessness in times of woe such as these. This week I’m feeling pretty righteous, as I have been doing my duty to my fellow Americans, above and beyond just staying at home. I’ve been driving Top Cat to the train station every morning so he could take the LIRR into Manhattan to do his essential work there.

This week his company is printing mail-in ballots. We’re going to need millions of them. A judge told New York State that it must hold its primary on June 23, even though the Republicans have cancelled putting their ticket up for approval because, Duh, they are still kissing Donald Trump’s ass, and the Democrats have pretty much settled on Joe Biden as the eventual nominee. Our governor had previously cancelled the primary on the grounds that it was mostly symbolic anyway and it was still too risky to send millions of people into small rooms during a pandemic to vote, but those shits, Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders, sued to have it reinstated.  So there goes Top Cat, back into the epicenter of the plague, upholding democracy, printing mail-in ballots for a completely disengaged populace for a totally stupid primary, and there goes me, driving him to the train station at 7:18am every morning. In any other year, this would be kind of funny, but this year…it’s not.

Apart from driving to the railroad station every morning, there is very little that I have to show up for. (Thank you, COVID-19.) And still, I find it hard to fit all the not-doing I have to not-do into my days. (Thank you, growing sense that “languid” is the new black.)

The current challenge, speaking of making castles, is to make this roof out of paper:

 

The problem is that all four sides of the roof have to turn up at the ends, while also fanning out in a slope. This is because evil spirits can only travel in straight lines so such a roof will ward off demons. (Thank you, Buddhists.)

So far, I know four ways of not making it. So last evening I finally called upon an outside consultant, an expert in paper and 3D design, namely, Top Cat. We sat at the patio table (it was a rare mild and sunny evening) and he drew some plans, and cut some strips of paper, and taped stuff together, and re-cut etc, while I kept company with a fine pinot grigio. And by George, I think he solved it. As soon as I hit “Publish” on this I will go to work and see if I can re-create what he created. And then, I have to see if I can do it 23 more times — I plan on making a really complicated sky-scraper castle because I have nothing else to do.

Last week, Top Cat asked me to mail a stack of envelopes. He still pays our bills by check because he actually enjoys the process, everything except for writing our return address on the outer envelopes because it’s nobody’s business where we live, so I walked to our post office and dropped about seven envelopes through the chute marked Out Of Town.

Well, turns out that when Top Cat says “Will you please mail these for me?”, he also means, “And don’t forget to put stamps on all of them.”

So our cable got turned off last night for non-payment, and now my phone won’t let me access the latest pictures of Taffy sleeping (I’m sure it’s retribution).

So you’ll have to make do with this until next Friday and when we get our good names back:

 

 

By the way, since every day is pretty much the same as the day before or after, I’ve decided that every day around us here at Taffy Acres is Cinco de Mayo. I’m open minded. I can memorialize the 1862 Mexican victory over the Napoleonic enemy with an Italian wine or a Swedish vodka. There are no rules anymore.

Except for, oh yeah: Fuck Trump.

I fact-checked this, and it’s almost completely true. Here’s the skinny:

  • The largest recipient of COVID-19 bailout loans, Trump campaign donor Monty Bennett, announced Saturday he would return all money received through the Paycheck Protection Program.

 

  • Bennett’s conglomerate of 128 hotels received, collectively, more than $58 million through the PPP.

 

  • The Ashford Group of Companies said in a statement to investors it would return all funds due to the Small Business Administration’s “recently changed rules and inconsistent federal guidance that put the companies at compliance risk.”

 

  • The news came just hours after Democratic nominee Joe Biden blasted Bennett in a tweet, demanding he return the money so the government can “give it to the small businesses that need it.”

Jesus. I hope somebody gets prosecuted once we get a Democratic president in the White House.

On with the show:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. If you see an Andrew Yang or a Bernie Sanders supporter, please punch them in the face for New York, and for America.

 

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The 2020 class of North Salem High School in New York is going to be holding a social distancing graduation next month in a drive-in movie theater in Amenia (39 miles to the northeast). Grads and their families will park their cars in one of 103 designated bays (it’s a small class). The valedictorian will present her speech on the movie screen and the principal will distribute a diploma to each senior via one of those long-handled gripper things your Grandma uses to get the Wheaties off the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet.

Afterwards, everyone will watch the perfect movie for this time of pandemic isolation.

Groundhog Day.

I think this is the cutest story to come out of COVID.

I did not go to my own high school graduation, but then, I went to four different high schools so I never got attached to any one of them. But for kids who spent their lives in one place, I understand that it is a rite of passage to say one last Good-bye to childhood and, if necessary, a big F U to the hometown at graduation. So I hope everyone as fun, and will have one good memory of 2020 to hold in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

And maybe we will all get one such memory for us to cherish when this is all over.

Mine might be the lovely, meditative two-hour afternoon naps I’m starting to take, when the world is silent in the middle of the day and I have n o t h i n g else to do and my mind is at ease and I can finally escape from over-thinking every damn thing in my life. Or maybe it’ll be my new addiction to internet porn. One or the other.

And, oh yeah. Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as promised, I have some thoughts to make you ponder.

This is for you, word nerds:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See you on Friday.

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Dedicated to Dear Reader Alexandra McKenzie.

I went into self-quarantine on March 15, the day my gym closed, so today is my 48th day in isolation. The reason that I have  not kept a journal of this time is because when I exiled myself to Taffy Cat Manor, I did not think this would not last longer than three weeks, max.

As I stocked up on vodka, ground turkey, and raisins (my staples) for the “long haul”, I also had no sense of history. I did not suspect that this would be a turning point in the history of the world. I didn’t anticipate that we’d go deeper into the evil heart of Republican politics. I didn’t foresee the trauma that has come to be an everyday misery.  I had no inkling that this was going to leave so many of us, and so many of our institutions, permanently damaged.

Nope. I just didn’t think of it. If the thought had crossed my mind, I’m sure I would have dismissed it as being way too far-fetched.

But here we are.

Another truth that has come to light: This pandemic has confirmed that there is not an economy in the history of the world in which I would be considered an essential worker.

Because here’s what I know how to do:

Grade diamonds.

Authenticate Faberge.

Appraise rare timepieces from the 16th – 20th centuries.

Cut up old books and make castles.

The most recent work-in-progress.

I have felt bad about being such a trivial person. I would like to be doing my bit to keep our society functioning, even at this low hum. So here’s what I did last week: I applied to the grocery store where I shop, the local Stop and Shop, for a job. I told the HR manager that I was ridiculously healthy and fit and, I quote, ” I’m ready to do anything where I don’t have to interact with customers. I can clean and take out garbage and stock shelves but I’m not good with the public.” I think we can all agree that I was being modest. I should have said, “I fucking hate the public and I would do permanent damage to your brand if you put me in the front of the store.”

Well, I haven’t heard back from them yet, but any day now, I could become a hero.

Taffy has got his lockdown life down pat. Below are pictures I took this past week. I swear, they were taken on many different days, but as you can see, Taffy’s Monday doesn’t look a whole lot different from his Friday:

 

 

 

 

And let’s give Bibs some love today. He doesn’t like to get his picture taken, but he sat still yesterday so I could get this:

That’s the news from My Life In Quarantine.

And, oh yeah. Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is why we love Helen Mirren, who posted her Before and After Quarantine pix:

This is from a real restaurant in Austin, Texas:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a special edition of The Times and Life of Being Bored. The other night, I was lying in bad at 2am, scrolling through my phone, and I found a lot of interesting stuff about language, such as this:

 

I also found this:

 

If you think this kind of stuff is worth a minute or two of your time, you’ll definitely want to meet me here on Wednesday.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay inside. Stay healthy. sSay away from Michigan and Georgia and Texas. Enjoy the beauty of every waking moment.

Stay as far away from this guy as possible:

 

 

 

 

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This (above) needs to go into a thought bubble for these guys (below):

One of Top Cat’s co-workers, someone everyone liked because he was so energetic and helpful and good at his job, and who was also a very fit guy in his 50s who lives in New Jersey and works at the New Jersey facility, got COVID earlier this month. He was rushed to the hospital on the third day of symptoms. He died last week. Yesterday, COVID-related deaths hit a number that exceeds that of the American losses of the Vietnam war.

Approximately 14 million people can’t apply for unemployment benefits because antiquated computer systems have crashed. Kim Reynolds, the Republican governor of Iowa, has announced that anyone who refuses to return to a job when the state lifts its lockdown on May 1 will be considered to have quit that job willingly — and thus, be ineligible for unemployment benefits…giving all other Republican governors cover. (NOW you know why all those Republican governor are rushing to re-open their states.) The Commerce Department predicts that the U S economy, which has declined more rapidly in the last quarter than it did in the Great Recession of 2008, will be “the worst economy in our lifetime”. If you think the lines at food banks are long now, just wait.

I don’t want to get into it, but you know and I know that there is a lot of misery out there. I thought I should acknowledge that these are terrible times, and often I feel bad for not having it worse than I do, for not doing my fair share of suffering. For me, this lockdown is a free pass to watch Netflix all day and permission to drink a little bit more than I would in ordinary times, and so I feel like Marie Antoinette and it’s the eve of the French Revolution.

But when it comes time to storm the Bastille, I promise to be there on the front line. Don’t know what it will look like, yet, but I will be there. For this pandemic to have any lasting meaning, it has to be as the beginning of the end for all the evil that the Republicans have done to the people of our country since Trump got elected, since Mitch McConnell became Senate Majority Leader. This has to be the end of the Republican party.

That is all.

In lighter news, I got this in my Twitter TL this morning:

Yang…

 

Fuck you, Sean Hannity. I hope you had to pay a load of money to get your lawyers to write a 12-page whine.

I also got this:

…Meet Yin.

The weather has been mostly shitty here on the north shore of Long Island these past two weeks. Last week, when I made my grocery store outing and had to yell at some old fart who wanted his 90 cent “reward” at 6:30 in the morning in the middle of a pandemic, I was wearing a winter coat. It’s been so cold and rainy, the kind of gloom that makes the whole house icy even when you crank up the heat, that Top Cat made a fire last weekend and we turned on the sparkle lights that are still on the mantel since Thanksgiving, and we pretended that we were snowed in and had comfort food for dinner (mashed potatoes and more mashed potatoes, with cheddar cheese mixed in) and lots of vodka.

I really didn’t want to be playing “Blizzard” when it’s almost May, but the vodka wasn’t half bad.

It’s cool and drizzly today, but yesterday was spectacular. So our neighbor’s house cat got out and came into our yard for a visit:

 

This is Antoinette, who got spayed last week. Her people put her in a Onesie to keep her away from the stitches, which is so damn cute you can’t believe it. While her dad came and got her with a leash and she was led safely home, we chatted in the years. About two feet apart. It felt weird. I mean, to be talking to another person.

So that’s lockdown this week here on the north shore of Long Island.

 

 

 

 

Ad, oh yeah — Ken Jennings — even Ken Jennings, the Mormon who won Jeopardy’s Grand Champion Of All Time earlier this year — says: Fuck Trump. (Not in so many words, but we get it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

k’

 

I think it’s appropriate for us to take a minute and think about how well this song, and Rick Astley, have aged:

Click here and have a great day.

And of course:

 

 

 

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I got quite a few emails and a phone call about Wednesday’s post. Everyone’s nerves are frayed, I get it, so I want to assure you all that Top Cat and I are not getting divorced. That thought, no matter how long and vigorously we fight, never enters our mind. We’ve been together for 16 years…wait…17?.. years and we stopped fighting about the big stuff a long time ago because those issues are done and over and laid to rest. We only fight about little, stupid stuff, or when we are in (on?) Orkney. And we’re never going back to Orkney. And I thought the fight was funny.

***Ten minutes later***

I just checked in with Top Cat and asked if he’s still mad at me about the ice cube tray incident. He said he didn’t remember it. (He didn’t read Wednesday’s post.) So there, life goes on in these fraught times, with a blip every now and then that reminds us that this is not the “new normal”, this is Bizzar-o World.

For instance, I went grocery shopping yesterday — my big outing of the week — at 6:30 in the morning because the local Stop and Shop opens from 6am – 7:30 am just for people over 60. Now, I would never EVER put myself in that cohort under any other circumstance except for when I need pizza dough and cabbage and I want to get to the store while the shelves are reasonable full, so, there I was, in line for check out, at 6:30am. That’s just weird.

Face masks are required for entry, and the aisles are marked one-way, and there is a very elaborate distancing system where everyone lines up in aisle 15 and waits for cashier availability on the other side of the store. It’s just so weird.

So I get the wave from cashier #2 and I drag my tote bags full of cabbage and pizza dough to her counter. But there’s an old guy standing there, checking his receipt, so I have to wait at a distance while he’s reading his receipt. And he says to the cashier, a middle aged lady just like him (but NOT ME BECAUSE I LIVE IN MY OWN WORLD WHERE I AM STILL 29), “I didn’t get my points. I spent $49 and I didn’t get my points.”

I don’t know what he’s talking about but I assume it’s some lame cash-back program from when times were normal and people could use “points” to buy stuff during reasonable store hours.

I look at the cashier and I say, “He’s kidding, right?”

The cashier, who is behind a plastic partition and wearing latex gloves and a face mask and a plastic face shield, says, waving her hand in front of her extensive PPE,  “Sir, I can’t see too well so ask the manager.”

The old guy is still complaining: “I should have 90 cents back on my receipt!”

So of course I am riled up. I mean, Jesus, this guy should be on his knees thanking this lady for just being there and not hassling her for his goddam 90 cents. So I tell the old guy: “Are you serious? This lady got up at 5 this morning to come to work at 6 and you want to bother her about 90 fucking cents?”

He says to me, “Hey lady, I was a Marine in Vietnam…”

And I talk over him, “Nobody gives a shit, mister, nobody gives a shit, nobody gives a shit.”

The cashier interrupts our tete-a-tete to tell him, again, to just go to the manager, and he says something about my attitude and finally gets out of the way so I can pay for my cabbage and pizza dough.

I tip the cashier $10 and say, “Thank you for being here.” She thanks me so profusely that I wish I had given her a twenty.

And I wish I had offered that old guy a dollar to fuck off about his 90 cents.

Then I went home and made cabbage soup. I didn’t yell at anybody for the rest of the day. My cats love me.

Well, I think they do.

Taffy and Bibs switching it up, napping on the living room couch.

 

This is their normal hangout.

This is them at 11:16am Friday morning:

So life in lockdown goes on. And on. And on. But tonight there’s pizza!!

Hang in there, Dear Readers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Don’t watch the news. Stay inside. Stay alive. And for god’s sake, stay away from the Clorox.

And, oh  yeah:

 

 

 

 

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Denver, Colorado:

Somewhere in North Carolina:

Tennessee:

Lansing, Michigan:

Buffalo, NY:

Fun Fact: The Liberate New York protest took place in a traffic circle in Buffalo, the state capital. About 50 cars and trucks drove in a circle for about four hours. Twitter called it The Moron 500.

Pennsylvania:

Sydney, Australia:

 

Top Cat and I had our first COVID-quarantine-induced argument yesterday.

I  was at the kitchen sink, cracking an ice cube tray for our evening V&Ts. We have crappy ice cube trays, so I was struggling to get the tray to work right, and the ice was chipping and breaking into shards and I was annoyed. By the way, I do not have a poker face.

I heard Top Cat come into the kitchen so I turned to glance at him.

Top Cat stops short and complains, “Why are you giving me such a dirty look?”

This surprises me, so I insist: “I wasn’t giving you a dirty look — it’s the ice cube tray! I hate it!”

But T.C.  isn’t buying it. “No, no, no, you’ve been in a bad mood for days and I’ve seen that look before.” He’s actually getting mad.

I try to reason with him: “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?? Didn’t we just had a really nice “date” night on Saturday?”

Top Cat shoots back, “No, that was Thursday and you’ve been pissy ever since.” And he storms out of the kitchen (as much as a guy on crutches can “storm” out of a room).

I went into the living room and tried to explain what just happened but it only made T.C. more irritated…it didn’t help that I thought it was funny and he was dead serious. So we had cocktails in separate rooms. I’ve never heard Top Cat use the word “pissy” in any situation before.

This is what happens when you are cooped up too long.

Things here in lockdown on the north shore of Long Island are still, for the most part, OK. I finished my Chinese historical drama and finished a 24-episode of a Korean historical drama that was SO SAD, which is Standard Operating Procedure for any Korean love story but especially true when it’s set during the Japanese Occupation of 1910 – 1945 (brutal, just brutal). So now I’m sworn off of K-dramas and I might even READ A BOOK this week.

Let’s meet on Friday and compare lockdown sob stories.

And, oh yeah: Fuck MAGAs.

jkl

kl’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Even as a long-term work-at-home castle maker, this lockdown has warped my sense of the passing of time.

I’m not sure it’s finished, so I haven’t mounted it onto a book yet.

Top Cat and I lost a whole day this week taking care of his semi-broken ankle. If you stopped by here mid-week, you got the story of how he fell off a ladder in the back yard on Saturday and saw his GP about it four days later. To get into the doctor’s office for the 9:30 appointment, we had to have our temperatures taken in the lobby by a nurse in a haz-mat suit, and were given a wrist band with the result. Every other seat in the waiting room had a sign taped onto it that, due to social distancing, this seat must be left empty. Things are not close to normal out there, Dear Readers.

Luckily, Top Cat got an appointment to get an X-ray that same afternoon, so we came home. I did my 5-mile trot, had a quick lunch, and we got to the radiologist at 2PM. Again, we had to have our temperature taken by a different team of haz-matted nurses, and in this building we weren’t allowed to clutter up the waiting rom at all. We were asked to wait in our cars.

That would have been OK but for the fact that just as T.C. was about to get his up, there was a FIRE DRILL. The medical building was huge, so it took about an hour to get everybody out, to have everybody mill about in the parking lot while keeping a distance, and then herd everybody back in the building.

I had a good book to read. When reading made me sleepy, I took a nap. When I woke up, I turned on the car (we have a hybrid so calm down, I wasn’t polluting) and listened to a Korean R&B CD.  I daydreamed. Time passed.

We got home at 5.

T.C. has a badly sprained ankle and excellent meds.

The only thing that made Wednesday different from Tuesday, or Thursday, or today, was that I spent so much time in a parked car. Otherwise it was pretty much the same thing as I do all day, only in the house: I internet like crazy. I read a little.  I glue stuff together. I listen to a CD. I Netflix. I daydream. Then I make a big stonking V&T and sit alone in a slowly darkening room pondering entropy.

 

The teacher of my next level Korean class told us that in preparation, we should come to the first class knowing our numbers. There’s two number systems in use in Korea: Chinese numbers for counting some things, and Korean numbers for counting other things. The difference between what you count in Sino (Chinese) and what you count in Native (Korean) seems as arbitrary as what makes nouns, in French, either masculine or feminine. So, OK, I’ve dealt with whimsical linguistics before. I can handle that.

Then you find out that Koreans rarely use Native to count any higher than 60 (for some reason) and for the really big numbers they use Sino. But wait, there’s more. Because 100 Korean won (money) is worth 8 cents — yes: EIGHT CENTS — Koreans use really big numbers everyday. A pizza can cost 30,000 won. A pair of Levi jeans (ew, who wears Levi jeans?) goes for 74,000 won. Average monthly net salary is 2.7 million won.

That would be OK except that Koreans don’t count like you or me. Everything is fine up to 9,999. But after that, they count in units of 10,000. So they don’t even have a word for “million”; they call it “one hundred ten thousands”. Until I learned the word for it in Korean Sino, I could not have told you that one million equaled 100 x 10,000. I had no clue.

Indignant that I would have to do math in order to say 713, 213.81 (average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seoul), I googled Why The Fuck Does Korea Count in 10,000s and discovered something that I never knew about the history of counting.

A unit of 10,000 is called a myriad. Yes, that myriad, the one you’ve probably used one or twice in your life when you’re being fancy.

It comes from the ancient Greek myrios, which was “the greatest number expressed in one word”. It was the Romans who fixed the value of myriad (they called it myrias) at 10,000. When the word migrated into the English language in the 16th century it lost its meaning as a number and was treated as a noun that meant “large quantity”. Today it’s commonly used as an adjective, as in : There were myriad people fighting over the last package of Charmin at the Piggly Wiggly today. For some people, hearing people use myriad as an adjective offends them as language purists, but we don’t have to be friends with those people.

Maybe this lockdown is getting to me, or maybe I never knew how stupid I was, but I was charmed to know that when I count in Korean Sino I will be counting in myriads. This is a skill that I never knew I needed, or that it was a skill in the first place, but here we are. When I count off a really big number in Korean Sino, I’ll be doing more advanced mathematics than I’ve had to do in decades. Maybe it will make me smarter.

P.S. Japan also uses myriads, as does China. On the standard Scholastic Achievement Test that most high school kids have to take to get into college, the mean Asian American score is 598, the highest of any ethnic group. I’m just throwing out this random fact so as to not appear to be endorsing a stereotype.

Maybe it’s good timing that I decided to learn Korean in 2020. Seems like it’s the perfect  year to stay home and do homework. I hope you all, Dear Readers, have something that gets you through the day that isn’t fattening, frightening, addictive, or illegal. It’s going to be a looooooong year.

 

 

 

And, oh yeah…

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s end this week’s visit with two of our favorite ladies, because we all need to remember There Is Nothing Like A Dame:

Have a great weekend.

Stay inside.

 

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This will have to be a quick one today, Dear Readers, because last Saturday Top Cat decided that it was a good time to fall off a ladder in the backyard and do something very bad to his ankle. We just got back from his primary care doc — impressive social distancing going on! We had  our temperatures checked at the door and were given a wristband with the result (I’m at 96.7 today), and we’ll be heading back out to get X-rays shortly.

The really big news is that we’ve acquired a new member of The Herd. He stops by to annoy Steve in our front yard, and then he drops in on the neighbors to see what’s on offer on the patio buffet. This is my neighbor’s cell phone pix:

This is our Bibs, protecting the neighbor’s property from the new Mr. Fluffy, who we call Leo:

I’ll have to save until Friday the chat I had planed for today, so as to not keep you waiting for the regularly scheduled Fuck Trump session.

And, oh yeah, Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See you Friday.

Stay off ladders.

 

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