Riding with The Man

The pandemic has been half the time wondering if it’s too late to drink coffee and half the time wondering if it’s too early to drink wine”

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

The Omicron variant has grabbed the world by the balls. And is applying a little pressure. And it’s taking a toll. Too many unvaxxed dipshits fighting for their right to put themselves and everyone else at risk because they won’t be coerced, manipulated, dictated, ordered, or duped into getting a life-saving vaccination. They have rights dammit.

Infections are up and hospitals are once again flooded with patients. Flights and holiday travel are cancelled. People are hunkering down—afraid to mix and mingle and share holiday cheer. There’s an evil feeling in the air as we bounce from natural disaster to COVID surges to insurrections and attempted coups and Karen’s on planes.

Is it the end of days? Perhaps. Most likely not. We’ll probably all have to get re-incarnated a few more times and come back in time to go down with this ship called Earth.

A somewhat depressing cap to the end of a year that started with optimism. In January we got to see Trump kicked to the curb and Biden sworn in. And vaccines were imminent, which we were led to believe would pop-a-cap in the ass of COVID once and for all. It didn’t. We miscalculated for the 100th time the depth of ignorance of humanity. Hand them the key to escape a dire circumstance and they turn away.

But we must persevere. Remind ourselves of the steeliness and resolve we know is in our DNA but has become elusive in recent decades. Find ways to be content and even happy with less movement and less involvement. More stillness and reflection.

Brittany and I cancelled our long awaited escape to Amsterdam to visit S&O. Netherlands is in lockdown and it just didn’t seem the best time to take this trip. 

Coming off of 2020, this year had nothing but potential for improvement. But the gains were minimal. Politics of our country continue to disappoint as we cannot seem to find any mechanism to help the most needy. Massive defense budgets fly through Congress unimpeded while bills to help those less fortunate die on the vine. Joe Manchin is the current villain of our dysfunctional Congress, but he is just one of many.

Slow Joe was not my 1st choice for president. Or 2nd or 3rd. But he isn’t Trump. So a marked improvement. I remain loyal to the Bern movement but he will be too old to run again. So we are stuck with a super old white dude trying his best to hold it together and his naive inexperienced side-kick who also is not exactly killing it in her VP role. 

I recognize the dichotomy of Bernie also being an old white dude. But he is so much more than ole Joe.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to drag the GOP through the mud and they continue to gleefully follow. A few are showing tepid signs of Trump fatigue but they are without testicles and so cower in fear of falling out of favor with the Orange Nutcase.

Politically speaking, the next few years are likely to be entertaining. Depressing, but entertaining. 

I did manage a few trips this year. Britt and I went to Akumal and Tulum in May. That was a great trip. I went mountain biking with Shane and Mark at Zion and slipped in a short trip to Pocatello to visit. Then back to Pocatello for Abel’s funeral—this time with Brittany. A sad occasion to send off my old friend, but of course it is always good to mix it up with the old rugby crowd a bit. 

In June I bought 18 acres on top of a mountain in Central West Virginia so we’ve been there a lot. It is remote and beautiful and had a small cabin which I am now in the process of remodeling into a good sized getaway. I have re-named it to Black Dog Ridge in honor of my little old best friend. Hopefully the major work will be done by April or May of 2022.

I moved from Cleveland to Somerset in early July. Initially I stayed with Terri but finally got moved in December to Melissa’s house. So I am back with my own things around me now. And that is good. It’s a good place. A good fit for me.

I wrapped up the MRI implementation at Brookfield and a few weeks later started a new project at UMass Memorial Health in Worcester. That is shaping up to look like a good project. So work is busy, but I am always respectful of finding good work. Prachi is joining my team which is great.

I bought a beautiful new Triumph motorcycle and didn’t wait too long to give it a good tumble. Stupid riding on my part which resulted in some cosmetic damage to both me and the bike. Broken arm and surgery for me and some replacement parts for the Triumph. Probably a $10,000 incident between bike and body damage. Fixing the human body and material things is a complete rip-off in our bloated society, but what am I to do? Move to Costa Rica?

I briefly shared space with an older canine named Pops. His person died and I inherited him for a couple of months. But ole Pops turned out to have some demons that were simply too unpredictable and too dangerous. He bit Terri and Yvonne and my house-cleaners son, snapped at multiple other people and launched a couple of savage attacks on my neighbors’ dogs. It was just too much and after consulting with the vet and the adoption agency, we decided it was best to let Pops move on to whatever comes next. A hard decision to take for an otherwise healthy animal. But he was big, around 65 lbs, and it seemed inevitable that he was going to hurt someone or kill another dog. 

We’ve continued our poker tradition on Tuesdays with the boys and that has been good. We’ve become a tight group. Of course I’ve made time for good meals and drinks and some day-drinking escapades.

As the year winds down, and I take a look back and try to capture the vibe in words, I find myself lacking. It was not a terribly good year or a bad year. Just sort of getting through. Getting by-on-getting by. But hanging with Brit has been good and Black Dog Ridge may yet prove to be an enduring spot to hang out in a beautiful natural setting. So I am generally optimistic about coming days. 

Always the bit of paralyzing fear about mom. But that’s irrational as she is very healthy. Always in motion. Always doing something for someone else. Nothing for herself unless she is forced. 

On my last trip to Worcester, I managed to save a baby. So that was pretty cool. I exited the rental car shuttle and headed for the escalator to the gates, as one does. Focused and hurried and followed by a gaggle of minions on their own journey. Just ahead of me, a lady pushing a stroller and pulling a roller had gotten on the escalator. But at the last second, her toddler chose to not get on the escalator. So as the mom traveled upwards, burdened by the stroller and a roller that had now fallen over and blocked her path downwards, the toddler suddenly started to realize her attachment to the world was disappearing. I came along about 10 seconds later, when the mom was perhaps 1/2 way up. Mom was freaking out and the toddler was now fully melting. I swooped up the toddler and we rode up together and at the top the family was reunited and all was well with the world. Crisis averted.

I had a little swagger as I moved along to TSA and my flight. 

It’s hard to be a hero but I accept the title.

No other news of note on this next to last day of a year I wasn’t quite sure I would reach. It’s a fair long stretch all the way back to youth, but here we are. So making the best.

Most of these photos are this past year–some are not. They just wanted to be remembered.

Humbly Submitted.

Well I stumbled in the darkness

lost and alone

though I said I’d go before us,

to show the way back home

there’s a light up ahead, I can’t hold on very long

forgive me pretty baby but I always take the long way home

Tom Waits

The dogs on Main Street howl ’cause they understand

If I could take one moment into my hands.

Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man.

And I believe in A Promised Land.

The Boss

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