What'll do me in, I wonder?

At the transit center yesterday, a middle-aged white man wearing combat camouflage walked around the station, saying something to each obviously homeless person. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but after he'd said it, one-by-one most of them got to their feet and walked toward the parking lot. 



& links

Nov. 7, 2022

The man in camouflage didn't invite me, but one of the homeless men did. "Free hot food from the van," a black bum said to me as he walked by, smiling, with almost as many teeth missing as me.

I looked, and parked in the lot was a white van, rear door open. Camouflage man was already back there, his backside sticking out of the van while he rummaged for something inside, and half a dozen hungry men were lined up, more on the way. 

I watched, and should've had warm-hearted thoughts about the kindness I was seeing, but my reaction was suspicious and uncharitable. First off, the food was being served from a plain white van, exactly like in The Candy Snatchers, the stereotypical vehicle of kidnappings and creeps. If someone hates the homeless, all he'd have top do is poison the food and hand it out. Will that be the headline tomorrow, I wondered? 15 homeless men found dead.

A few minutes later, that smiling black bum walked back into the transit center waiting area, carrying a styrofoam carry-out box with a steaming cup balanced on top of it. "What's for breakfast?" I asked him, because it was 8:30 in the morning.

"Sausage and eggs, oatmeal and coffee," he said. "There's plenty if you want some."

"Hope it's good," I said and smiled and meant it. 

The next day there was no news of dead homeless people, so I guess his breakfast was good, and I'm a rat bastard for having those frigid thoughts. I'd have no suspicions about a soup kitchen, or a meal for the destitute in a church or at a school. The while van, though? Kinda creepy looking. At least put a magnet-sign on the side or something.

My flatmate Dean made spaghetti sauce again, and it smelled great, again. He'll be the first to tell you he's a great cook, but I'll be the second. He really is a good cook, and he makes spaghetti sauce once a month or so.

"I'll put the leftovers in the refrigerator," he said, "and you can help yourself any time." He was stirring his really big pot, a foot tall, with spaghetti sauce simmering almost to the rim.

"Well, I appreciate that, thanks," I said.

"There'll be lots," he said. "I don't do small batches." And I knew that, because he says that every time he cooks any sauce or stew in that giant pot.

As promised, there was lots, and I do appreciate the kindness of offing to share, but I didn't have any.

The next morning, it was still on top of the stove, cold, uncovered. We still have some some autumn flies in the kitchen, and one was floating on top.

By that nightfall, 24 hours after he'd cooked it, the spaghetti sauce was finally in the refrigerator, but still uncovered. The fly had either been plucked out or had sunk to the bottom.

Over the next several days, since we share the same fridge, I watched as Dean's spaghetti sauce dried out, and cracks formed across the top. Dean made spaghetti every second night and topped it with his homemade sauce. Robert had some, and twice more Dean offered that I could have all I wanted, but I'd already had all I wanted, which was none.

This morning was the seventh day since he made the spaghetti sauce, and the pot was about half emptied. This afternoon it was gone from the fridge, so I guess he dumped it. Which is better than last time, when it got moldy, in the fridge. And in a week it never had a lid. I'm not sure Dean even owns a lid for any of his pots. He's a good cook, but it's everything he does to the food before and after that scares me.

 So I guess I've turned down free food twice in a week. I'm not going hungry, though. Grazing all day, when I really should be dieting.

What'll do me in, I wonder? It's something I think about more than I used to, as I get older, wrinklier, closer to death.

It's noticeably more difficult getting out of my recliner than a few years ago, probably because I gained fifty pounds during the pandemic.

I get sneezing fits, which never happened until quite recently. 

Coughing fits, too, once or twice a week for no reason I can guess.

Sometimes my eyeballs hurt, just a little.

Cutting my toenails requires huge bolt-cutter-style clippers and a lot of effort.

My nose never drips except after a nice meal in a restaurant. It'll start dripping midway through and keep dripping for an hour.

There are occasional ear and ankle pains, and I've stopped even wondering why.

Got some new bumps on my tongue.

Sometimes there's a headache that lasts for days.

There's one hair in my eyebrow that's started growing an inch a week, so I gotta scissor it every Sunday or it curls down and gets into my eye. 

There's a patch of dry skin on my right buttcheek,  and repeated applications of fists full of shea butter make no difference.

When I try to masturbate, sometimes I can't get where I want to go. That never happened before, either.

And that reminds me, Little Doug started twisting upward about two years ago. 

Oh, and three or four times every month I get a fever, and beat it back with aspirin. I'd worry about the fevers, but it's been happening for almost thirty years, since a tooth infection and an incompetent dentist back in the 1990s.

Any of the above could be an early symptom of whatever'll be the end. And if so, well, there's nothing I can do about it, and anyway, it's more likely I'll get a random cancer like my brother or dad, or get flattened while jaywalking, or slip in the snow and bleed out in a gutter.

Quick and painless would be my preference. If it's gotta be slow, make it expensive, and just to piss off the Republicans, the state can pay because I sure can't.

And now, the news you need,
whether you know it or not

Why transit projects cost billions more in America than elsewhere 

• Hiring contractors to do the work in a manner so bizarre it almost seems intentionally designed to drive up costs

• Hiring consultants to design and manage projects rather than having the staff to do so in-house (or not having the necessary staff expertise to manage consultants in a way that keeps costs manageable)

• Haphazardly coordinating complicated work with local utilities

• Viewing infrastructure projects as job programs and therefore hiring more workers than needed (union and non-union, blue collar and white collar)

• Over-designing projects (stations in particular)

• And, on top of it all, having local politicians who micro-manage, slowing down planning at best; changing projects in a way that makes them more expensive and less useful at worst

Height surgery is a booming trend 

Twitter engineer says goodbye 

Study finds 27% of Americans 18 and older have or had cut off contact with a family member 

Of the few people in my life I've gotten close enough to, to have such a conversation, the number is about 40%. That includes my wife, my sister, at least half a dozen friends, a teacher, a boss… and of course, me for many years.

Lab-grown blood given to people in world-first clinical trial 

FedEx, Amazon, DoorDash and other company scale down or phase out robotic prep and delivery 

• DEA's rainbow fentanyl moral panic is making broadcasters, politicians stupider than they already are 

China plans to send monkeys to Space Station to have sex with each other 

What if polluters footed the climate bill? 

That would make sense, so it's out of the question. Instead, the richest corporations will find ways to profit from climate change, and the rest of us will pay with our lives.

And it never stops, never stops, never stops... 

Maryland officials order the re-investigation of about 100 deaths in police custody 

And it never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops, never stops...

Republicans sue to disqualify thousands of mail ballots in swing states 

And it never stops, never stops, never stops...

Links I liked

This is an octobass – it’s so low it will turn your insides to jelly 

Odd headlines from yesteryear 

The time Kurt Cobain partied with me at my house 

Vegetable fashions, 1946 

Rectal dilation as a cure for insanity 

Human–animal breastfeeding

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

• "My Three Sons" by Frank De Vol

• "Time" by Alan Parsons Project

♦ ♦ ♦

The End

Julie Powell 

Sy Presten


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. Obviously, if the camouflage man were just in jeans and a shirt, non-camo, you (and I, honestly) would be less suspicious.

    1. I don't even know what civilian camo is supposed to signify, beyond gosh I love the military.

  2. You're probably uninsured so this is useless to say but, that list of ailments is scarey. I hope you can see a doctor?

  3. No insurance here, as you surmise. The US government has determined that unemployed people don't need it, and who am I to argue? It'll be interesting when I need to see a doctor.

    1. If it gets bad reach out. I might be able to help.

    2. Hope it doesn't get that bad, but thanks.

    3. Doug, man, dude, Washington state has the easiest and best low income insurance I've ever taken advantage of, called Apple Care. You really should look into it. When I was on it a couple years ago, it was a strictly based on current income, didn't matter how much you had in assets or savings. Make under 0 - $1100 per month (or whatever their figure is now) and everything is covered (including some dental and vision). I was between jobs and had a heart surgery 100% covered. I hate doctors, and there's no god, of course, but I was thanking some one or some thing that day, believe me.

      If I remember correctly, their food program, EBT, is also income-based, so as long as you're not working, you qualify. Milk that system for all its worth.

    4. Wow, and thanks. It had never occurred to me. I've never been on any government program like welfare or unemployment, but if I qualify I'll take every benefit they offer.

      And an hour later: Their website seems very friendly, but not user-friendly. It wouldn't let me fill out the forms. I'll try again tomorrow. Thanks again, man. Probably it'll be a life-saver.

    5. I mis-spoke, it's Apple Health, nothing to do with Steve Jobs. But you get the idea.

      Yes, the websites - any websites for this sort of thing - are always terrible and seemingly designed to inhibit as many people as possible. When I was on the program, they had phone or chat operators who could walk you through the process, and better yet you could make an in-person appointment with someone who will sit there in their office and make sure everything's A-OK.

      As long as you promise to donate your body to medical science, I think you get a free ride. Good luck.

    6. I figured out the name of the program, no worries. Now I just gotta block off the time to sign up in person or over t he phone. Dunno why they even pretend to have a website.


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