Things I'd rather not talk about

Sometimes my mom wonders to me, why I'm generally unwilling to talk about myself and what little is going on in my life. "It's like pulling teeth to get information out of you," she says.

And she's right. I'm one of my least favorite topics to talk about, especially with family.

We have breakfast together twice monthly. It used to be every Saturday, but there were endless questions from Mom about where I was working. My feeling was and is, it's only work, and only temporary work, and when we have an hour together I'd rather talk about almost anything else.

This I explained many times, but Mom wouldn't stop asking, so in self-defense, I halved the breakfast schedule to twice-monthly. It's helped.

Another thing I'd rather not talk about is my birthday. I try not to get evangelical about it, but every year as the day of my birth approaches, the "Happy birthday!" texts and calls and cards begin, and I mention again what I'd like most for my birthday is to have nobody mention it, as if it's just another day. Which it is, to me.


#427  [archive]
JUNE 1, 2024

Well, by quirk of the calendar, breakfast with the family landed on my birthday, and only a few days after starting a new temp assignment. Knowing that those would be the two topics at the table, I considered canceling today's breakfast, but what the heck. They're family, and there's no escaping.

At the restaurant, my brother Clay and and sister-in-law Karen arrived first, and immediately wished me happy birthday. They insisted on buying me breakfast, and I'm poor so I didn't argue. My mom, my sister Katrina, and Katrina's friend Adelle arrived next, and they all said, "Happy birthday!" but Adelle at least added, "I know you don't want to hear it, but I wanted to say it."

We talked about other things all through the meal, but my birthday was a recurring topic. And after we'd finished breakfast, two of the waitresses came 'round with a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie à la mode, with a burning candle stuck in the pie, and they led the table and the entire restaurant in singing, "Happy Birthday to You."

It was Mom's idea, and the pie was terrific, but I don't know how she knew that strawberry rhubarb is my favorite.

Nobody asked about my new temp assignment, until we started saying our goodbyes. That's when Mom said, "As a special birthday present, we never asked once about your new J-O-B," but of course, now we were talking about it. Clay immediately echoed, "Yup, never a question about your new J-O-B, but we're all wondering. Can you tell us where it is and what you're doing?"

No, I didn't and wouldn't. There's a history in the family, of Mom and others showing up unexpected at my workplace, just to see me, and I hate that. Once, when I had told the family only that I worked at an insurance company, my brother Clay went through the yellow pages and called insurance companies, asking for Doug Holland please, until he found me and his call rang through to my desk.

So yeah, like my mom has noticed, I've become more and more reticent to volunteer info about myself.

When I share the smallest bits of who I am — like, not wanting birthday celebrations, and not wanting to talk about my work — it's ignored, so why would I ever offer bigger bits of myself?

The stuff that really matters to me — my hopes, and dreams, and loves, and politics, and beliefs, and principles, and my happiest memories — those are things I keep to myself, or perhaps share here on the website. But I'd never share such things with the family at breakfast.

Ty Cobb is no longer the big-league baseballer with the best lifetime batting average. Now it's Josh Gibson, which is the only piece of good news I've noticed this week.

Whenever there's coverage of a climate change-driven heat wave, like this week in Pakistan, the media reports the temperatures (129° this time), and perhaps mentions that it breaks a record.

What's never said is that the records won't last long. The climate will keep getting hotter, and whatever records are set this week will be broken soon, then broken again. The climate is never going to stop getting worse.

These are the good old days, even in Pakistan.

So, the Seattle cop who killed an innocent woman as she crossed the street in a crosswalk, the cop who was going 74 mph in a 25 zone, without sirens, without an emergency, the cop who wasn't disciplined or prosecuted, but was issued a traffic citation that he still hasn't paid… 

That cop had previously been fired as a rookie with the Tucson Police Department, for "failing to meet minimum standards."

Atlanta-area cops are, of course, openly harassing people who've publicly opposed the construction of the city and county's absurdly huge 'police training facility', derisively called "Cop City."

Discrimination is a thing of the past, Republicans like to lie, when they mention discrimination at all.

Whoops, but a Texas tech company ran an ad for IT help, white and US-born only. For this, the company gets to pay an undisclosed and presumably minuscule fine, but nobody's charged, and it never would've come out if the company hadn't been clumsy about posting the ad.

And even after the company posted the ad, it took 14 months for the Department of Justice to do what little they've done.

Possibly useful for those not raised in or often exposed to the wingnut Christian movement, here's "a glossary for the confused," explaining kookerific Christian concepts like philosemitism and postmillennialism. It's a fairly accessible list, but as always in mainstream media, it's "just the facts" even about clearly non-factual concepts.

Would it be so hard, in defining Christian nationalism as "The belief that America was founded as, and intended by God to be, a Christian nation," to also add that what they believe about American history is factually untrue?

Here's a quaint, outdated question from an old guy who wants to get older: Does anyone reading this have a COVID mask they recommend? 

The disposable masks I've been buying are no longer available, so I'm looking for a replacement. Ear straps are painful with my Dumbo-size ears, so the mask has to have full-head elastic straps, but I can't find any that don't have the manufacturer's logo and lettering over my mouth.

I'm not interested in getting COVID again, but also unwilling to wear advertising on my head.

Any ideas?


The U.S. finally passes an internet privacy law… for rich jet owners  

To those finally examining police overreach due to Scottie Scheffler's arrest: Welcome. 

Golden Gate Bridge: Building a San Francisco icon, in photos 


    Basic Human Needs
by Wavy Gravy with Ace of Cups

    Hello It's Me
by Lou Reed

    King of the Road
by Roger Miller

    Political Science
by Randy Newman

by Chuy Flores

⚰️  DEAD PEOPLE  ⚰️ 

Destiny Deacon
artist, activist 

Doug Ingle
rock'n'roller, Iron Butterfly 

Jim Martin
publisher, Flatland 

Bette Nash
flight attendant 

Bill Walton
basketballer, UCLA Bruins


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 the AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Chuff, Dirty Blonde Mind, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, Lemmy.world, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, Mr Souza's Happy Place, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration.

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

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