Mysteries of the dumpster

When I want to remember something but don't have a piece of paper handy, I use a pen to write a few words on my hand.

This is yet another example of white privilege. It's something black people can't do, especially dark-skinned black people.

Saturday's breakfast with the family was peculiar. I guess all the breakfasts with my family are peculiar, they're just peculiar in different ways.

There were four of us — me, Mom, my sister Katrina, and Katrina's friend Adelle. Adelle is always talkative, and reliably fills any moments of silence, but she was extra talky on Saturday. Which is OK with me. I never have much to say, and Adelle's stories are usually interesting.



& links

Jan. 25, 2023
Mom was getting frustrated, though. She's always happy to interrupt when she has something to say, but Adelle is immune to interruption because she's old like the rest of us, but harder of hearing. Interrupt Adelle, and she simply doesn't know she's been interrupted, so she'll kept talking.

The best example of this was when Mom interrupted to ask me, "Are you eating less?" I didn't have to answer, because Adelle was talking and I kept my focus on her.

Of course, I am eating less, trying to lose some weight. I used to order breakfast plus a side of hotcakes, but now I just order breakfast, with no sides. I figured Mom would eventually notice and say something.

But I don't want to tell her about the diet. See, if I tell Mom that I'm trying to lose weight, then every time I see her she'll ask How's your diet going? and Have you lost any weight? and What are you eating at home? and we'll have to talk about it for five minutes, every time. And between the times she sees me, she'll text me the same questions. And if my diet fails and I go back to overeating, the questions won't stop,

I don't want to play Twenty Questions About My Diet for the rest of my life, so when Mom asks again, I'll flat-out lie and say I'm not on a diet. Just can't afford a side order of hotcakes every Saturday, I'll say, or something like that.

It's a rule of nature, no less than summer follows spring — if I provide a fact from my life to my mother, she will ask about it, always. So I'm picky about the facts from my life that I'm willing to share with Mom.

I also didn't tell her that I've found a job. I won't mention it until I've been working there long enough that it feels stable. 

The most interesting thing at breakfast Saturday wasn't at our table, though.

There's one bum who's always in the neighborhood around the diner — black guy, skinny, a little wild-eyed but generally well-behaved. I've written about him a few times, given him a few handouts, but never really talked with him.

Well, on Saturday that bum came into the diner, accompanied by a youngish white man, who said to the waitress, "Table for two, please," and they sat down.

There were several tables between the bum and my family, so I couldn't overhear any of their conversation, but the white guy did most of the talking. I fear that he was talking about Jesus, that this was some kind of missionary outreach, trying to save the bum's soul. But I hope it wasn't. I hope it was just someone being kind. The world needs more of that, and less of Jesus.

How their breakfast ended, I didn't get to see. I got distracted into one of Adelle's stories, and when I glanced at their table again, it was empty.

Twice in my life, I've been kind enough to treat a bum to a meal. It's been a great many years, though, and I wouldn't do it today. I've become more hardened in my hermit's ways.

I don't mind giving a bum a five dollar handout, and if I was in a terrific mood some day I could see myself handing a bum enough money for a meal — but I wouldn't want to share that meal.

And I don't think that makes me an ass, because I'm already an ass. But I'm an ass who eats alone, or with friends or family. I ain't taking a bum to breakfast.

Speaking of me being an ass...

The landlord put a lock on the dumpster a few weeks ago. He thinks our neighbors or passers-by were dumping their trash into our sacred dumpster, so now there's a key hanging in the laundry room. When I take out my trash I gotta grab the key and unlock the dumpster.

It's not a big inconvenience and I'm not trying to be an ass, but when I dump my trash in the dumpster, I haven't yet figured out how to re-lock it.

There's a chain and a padlock, but what goes around what and how to chain it shut hasn't made sense to me yet. And it's winter. I'm not gonna stand in the cold and spend much time pondering the mysteries of the dumpster, so I've been leaving it unlocked.

"Someone's been leaving the dumpster unlocked," is how Dean started his conversation with me this morning. The kitchen had been empty, but as soon as he heard me, he came out of his room to talk at me.

After he'd told me what an ass someone must be to leave the dumpster unlocked, he started talking about cooking, until I'd finished tossing my salad. Then, same as a few days ago, I went into my room and closed the door while he was still talking.

It's a shared house, but Dean wants a conversation with me every time we see each other. I don't. He's never going to understand that, and I'm done trying to explain it.

On the sidewalk beside the house beside ours, there's a dead rat. It's been there for about two months now. The first time I saw it, when it was fresh dead, I wondered if someone might pick it up and toss it into the dumpster, but that's never yet happened.

Every time I walk by, there's a little less of the rat. Its skin and fur is entirely gone now, but there's still its stomach, which is a large and surprisingly white bag of flesh. I haven't poked at it, but there seem to be some innards still under the stomach, and the tail remains a recognizable tail.

It's educational watching the rat decompose, and I wonder how much longer it'll be before it's gone?

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Nevada Supreme Court ends 'qualified immunity' for police 

Idaho law allows church to continue killing children 

Florida teachers told to remove books from classroom libraries or risk felony prosecution 

The true extent of global warming has been hidden, scientists warn 

Climate change heightens the risk of attacks by polar bears 

How are Wisconsin women doing under the 1849 abortion ban? 

T-Mobile hacked for the eighth time in five years 

Employees at TikTok apparently have a secret button that can make anything go viral 

Tennessee refuses federal money for HIV testing because Planned Parenthood would get some of it 

Doomsday Clock moves closer to midnight than ever 

We are teetering near the brink, no doubt about that, but the 'Doomsday Clock' is only PR bunk. They've been ticking it forward and backward since before I was born, and I am old.

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going




Clicks ahoy

How Johnny Carson saved Twister 

Early abortion looks nothing like what you've been told 

How Mission Control's big displays worked 

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

A Daisy a Day — Jud Strunk 

Fill Your Heart — David Bowie 

No More Lies — The Moody Blues 

Star Trek Suite — Jerry Goldsmith 

You Haven't Done Nothin' — Stevie Wonder 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Sal Bando 

Les Barker 

Bruce Gowers 

Edward R Pressman 

Peter Grose 

Edie Landau 

Jean Veloz


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.
Special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. Ah yes, Jud Strunk! My dad had the 8-track of the A Daisy A Day album. Somehow, I have zero recollection of him listening to it or anything about the album other than the guy's name was Jud Strunk. --Arden

    1. He was a one-hit wonder, but that song still chokes me up.


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