Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tubes Of Fur

Photo courtesy John Worsley, whose dogs them are
One cold rainy spring, Dave was working a Memorial Day shut-down at a paper mill in a damp, dreary coastal Washington town, and unbeknownst to him, back in Portland it was ninety degrees and not raining for the first time since forever, and every single person in town was out soaking up every sunny minute of it, frying burgers, and slamming PBRs, and generally carrying on. And when Dave emerged from the mists and came back home, everyone on the street was burnt to a crisp. He thought there'd been a nuclear event.

It was just about that disconcerting for us last weekend to walk downtown like it was any other day and stroll into the Park Blocks. What we saw didn't make sense. It was as though while we were sleeping everyone in town but us had been issued the top half of a dog.

Or a Corgi stroll.
What it actually was was a Corgi Walk. There were so many people walking around with Corgis that the occasional Regular dog looked all wrong. I have always imagined Corgis were bred specifically to be visually appealing. It's not possible to ignore a Corgi walking away from you. You might not have previously thought of yourself as a dog butt aficionado, and then those fluffy pantaloons go bopping by and it's all over but the trip to the breeder.

I further assumed that Corgis were developed right around the time of the invention of the coffee table, when Labrador Retrievers proved to be a disaster to the onion dip.

Photo by John Worsley
Actually, however, Corgis are no recent thing. There are two main kinds of Corgis: Cardigans and Pembrokes. Originally they were called the Cardiganshires and the Pembrokeshires, but that got shortened too, of course. The Cardigans are the older breed, having turned up in Wales as early as 1200 BC. They come in a variety of coat colors and button up the front, and they have long tails carried low, because there are no options for Corgis to carry anything high. Many of the Pembrokes have been bred to be tailless or have been whacked into that condition as puppies. Ostensibly this is to keep their tails from being stepped on by whatever they're herding, although I suspect at this point it's more for the fluffy bopping pantaloons effect, which is indeed compelling.

Photo by John Worsley
Even my beloved Vikings had Corgis, as it turns out, and brought them to Wales once they'd gotten the horns bred out of them. Basically Wales has been Corgi Central since before the Romans invaded the Ordovices, and doesn't that sound painful? And they were not bred as speed bumps or ottomans as one might expect, but as herders, first of cattle, and later of sheep. Sheep, in fact, are reliably flustered right into their pens by even the sight of those skittering tubes of fur. And if they aren't, they are subjected to a good heel-nipping.

In fact, corgular nippage is the only plausible explanation for the recent case of a sheep falling off a mountain in Northern Ireland, because sheep are known for their grippy feet. Nevertheless one did fall some distance a few days ago, fortunately escaping serious injury by landing on a boy.

So Corgis are durable and healthy dogs. Even the scourge of hip dysplasia is unknown among Corgis because they do not have actual hips, but just a toe assemblage on a stout stem at each corner. They had become something of a rarity until Queen Elizabeth took a fancy to them. She was presented with her first Corgi in 1933. His name was Dookie, and why not?

Nowadays they are enjoying renewed popularity, as evidenced by the Corgi Walk. They are friendly and loyal and have a reputation for being easy to train. You tell a Corgi to Sit and it does. Or we think it does. It's hard to tell.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Sound Of Silence

There are subtle things about any house. Like its smell. You get used to your own house smell, but other people notice it. It's basement fust, or mold puppies, or fossil baseboard grunge, or termite farts, or sheetrock exhalations, or something. I know my house smells because I sometimes detect it when I come in after it's been shut up for a while, but pretty soon the brain determines it's Familiar and Non-Threatening and filters it out and that's that. I don't know what my house smells like. I only know it's not cleaning products.

Now there's something different about our house. It's subtle too. You have to be in here for a while to notice. About an hour would do it.

Yes. It's the sound of the goddamn phone not ringing.

Pulled the little stinker's umbilical right out of the wall, I did. All of a sudden, just like that. We've been wondering whether or not to ditch the landline for a while. Nobody ever calls us on it who doesn't know another way to reach us. But it's a giant gaping portal for the undesirable commercial world.

Some of the same people have been calling at least once a day with the same routine for years. Years. Same. People. Same. Routine. Daily. Middle of the night, sometimes.

I guess there are reasons to keep a landline. One: the sound quality is better. This is true, but I don't need to hear Jason calling from Windows all that clearly--it's still the accent that throws me. Two: if you call 9-1-1 on a landline, the 9-1-1 folks have a better idea where you are. They can't home in on the cell phones quite as well.

Great. But if I've fallen and I can't get up, and I'm more than three feet from my landline, they're not getting any call from me.

Three: Something something something.

Here's the main reason we still pay for the landline. Our number is cool. It sounds like we picked it out ourselves. It's so cool, it's just one number off from a medical clinic. A lot of people who misdial the clinic are old. We used to try to give them the proper number, but too many of them couldn't understand why we answered the phone if it was the wrong number. Now we just listen and give medical advice.

We got this number in 1978 when we moved in. Your range was only as long as your cord. Mostly people had push-button phones by then. That's a good thing because there are two zeroes in our number--just like my childhood number--and people hated that. It's an easy one to remember, but if you're in a hurry, your finger might sail out of the rotary dial before you get it all the way around and you have to start over. Now, of course, nobody has to remember any phone numbers. Theoretically that should free up some brain space but it doesn't. "Build Me Up Buttercup" will just pour into the vacuum and stay there on a loop.

Oh hell, I'll tell you how cool it is. Privacy be damned. It's 282-4900. Right? Go ahead and call. It won't ring on my end.

(My Social Security number is even cooler. It's

And I haven't missed it at all. I can plug it in if I need to, but I'm afraid. I think there is a whole Fibber McGee closet full of solicitations backed up to our phone cord. It would be like if I answer the door and there are five thousand people on the porch who all start talking at once. A quarter of them are from Windows Technical, a quarter want me to know there's nothing wrong with my credit card, and the rest want to sell me Medicare.

I don't need no Medicare. I'll just call my own number. They give great medical advice.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

It's Time To Light A Fire

We just smashed the record for days above ninety in Portland, and we're not even through August. The historical average is eleven 90+ days each year, unless you're counting just since 2000, which would make it an average of 15,  or since 2014, which pops it up to 22 days, including the previous 2015 record of 29. Can you plot that trajectory, boys and girls? We are not happy. But there's good news. It might not get quite as hot as predicted today because the wildfire smoke is blocking some of the sunlight. Awesome!

Today the sky looks like sun-bleached construction paper, the shade no kid wants to use. Our smoke is mostly coming from Canada and Washington at the moment but it could turn and drift up from southern Oregon and California, where we're keeping our spare fires. California is basically cooked. But there's good news. A lot of the fuel that had built up over the years has been torched so the odds are good that a massive fire won't hit those particular spots again for a while. Awesome!

Wildfires, of course, are another anticipated result of the global warming that has been going on for, primarily, the last fifty years, caused by all the carbon we've porked into the atmosphere, and fire itself puts even more carbon in the air, as does the decaying vegetation left in fire's aftermath; not to mention that the loss of the forests themselves takes away a perfectly good carbon sink that might have helped mitigate the whole clustercaca, so that's a nasty greenhouse feedback loop for us right there. But there's good news. Fire isn't nearly as much of a carbon emissions source as our fossil fuel use. Awesome!

Yes, it's mostly our fossil fuel dependence that has transferred enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to slick the rails to apocalypse. Methane is an even worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but good news! We can totally blame that on termites. Termites and landfills and intensive livestock farming (like when you pack hamburger-on-the-hoof so tight as to rub it bald), and the production and transportation of other fossil fuels, but don't forget the termites, which are not only gassy but 100% natural. Also, a planetary bolus of methane is predicted to belch out of the Arctic any year now, because it's in the permafrost and the permafrost is getting less perma all the time, because of the global warming we created, but good news! We won't have personally put that methane in the air, or gotten any personal use out of it. That's just a collateral-damage kind of thing, like dead civilians in an otherwise profitable war.


Yes, it's true, people have kind of messed everything up, and even though many smart people have been aware of it for a long time and even know what to do about it, we haven't done a single thing, because that would threaten perfectly good money, but good news! The human population is due for a nice culling any time now, what with all the buried legacy viruses that are expected to resurface because of global warming, not to mention the widespread droughts and famine, and loss of water, and war over dwindling resources.

In the face of the clear imperative to move away from fossil fuels as fast as possible, the acting president proposed the exact opposite policy, in statements spiked with random gratuitous insults and racist dog-whistling, delivered in the style of the stupidest kid in second grade--all in all, the most impacted shitwad of sheer brainlessness the world has ever seen, but good news! This probably isn't the apex of imbecility after all!

Because there's always tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

"Screwball Central, How May We Not Be Of Assistance?"

According to news reports, a postal carrier in Columbus, Ohio called a man a homophobic slur and then cut off his mail, as it were. "You homophobic slur!" she almost certainly didn't say. We know what she said. This disturbs me on a couple fronts. Starting with the postal part.

I carried mail for 31 years. The Postal Service, admirably, hires every kind of screwball there is as long as they can read an address, or screwballs with a lot of veteran's-preference-points if they can't. As our friend Stricky used to say, shaking his head at the inane patter du jour, "We've got 'em all down here." And durn near every one of us considered our duty sacred. We even had a name for it: "the sanctity of the mail." So no matter what brand of personal idiocy we subscribed to, we got the mail through.

It's possible this doesn't apply anymore. The job is different. The carriers have bar codes tattooed on their asses during Orientation and are constantly tracked in the system like the letters themselves, which is not a policy designed to elevate morale or foster personal pride or encourage initiative. It encourages trudging, is what it does.

But maybe other things have changed too. Maybe there's some new Religious Jerkwad Freedom Initiative that's allowing letter carriers to discriminate and harass on the basis of the deeply held belief that some people are too icky for mail service.

I watched the video of the carrier in question. It all started when the gentleman tried to reach for his mail when the entire residential gang box was open instead of waiting until he could use his own key. This is a postal no-no. I used to cheerfully remind grabbers that I was so sorry, but I couldn't allow it because of security concerns, which I was sure they'd understand, but I'd be done in a jiffy.

"But you just handed that lady her mail!"

"Yes, but I do know who she is," I'd say, usually without actually adding And she gives me twenty dollars at Christmas time.

But personal animus never entered into it. What I did not do is say "I'll be done in a minute, Spanky Pants, so you can keep your fat pink capitalist hands off those letters, which are my letters until I shut this box, and if you do not take three steps back this instant I'm telling your wife about that little chippy in Accounting, and telling everyone else that you order adult diapers."

Because I am a nice person.

There are a few legitimate reasons to quit delivering your mail. If, for instance, your unrestrained wolf hybrid threatens me, that's it for your grocery circulars and election flyers. Even more fun, I can quit delivering mail for the whole block. That's the trick that usually gets your attention. Unfortunately for me, I'm supposed to deliver a Bad Dog letter to you first, to explain things.

Not sure the Postal Service thought that one through.

So is this incident similar to those poor persecuted bakers who thought making a wedding cake for women was their first station on the train to Gomorrah? Hard to say. If that was an ethical stand, which I contend it was not, this incident falls somewhere below it. This is just an asshole on a power trip. Mail carriers don't have many ways to power-trip, so ripping someone's name off his mailbox and stomping off is about the limit. And it should be a firing offense.

The second thing that was disturbing was that the asshole in this case was a black woman, which goes completely against the narrative. I count on black women to have a much better grip on matters of justice, and although it is never fair to generalize, I'm still disappointed. If some representative of the Postal Service is going to go rogue like that, I want that person to be a recognizable deplorable of some kind. Any of your standard villains. Or at least a man.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Meeting The Neighbors

Hi! Yes, nice to met you, too! Carl, did you say? Oh sorry. Kale! Kale? Kale! And who is this little buttonhead in the stroller? Enid? What a sweet name! Hi, Enid! Hi, Enid! Aww, Enid's shy. Welcome to the neighborhood, Kale and Enid!

Gosh, isn't that typical, I just meet someone for the first time and I look like I've done my hair with a fidget spinner. Sorry! I usually fix it first thing in the morning. I've got that big cowlick on the one side, and the flat spot in the back, and it just takes a little floofing but I must've gotten distracted this morning. Anyhoo!

Yeah, I'm in between haircuts, so it's a little weird. Right, Astrid? You haven't even had a haircut yet, have you, honey? Cute little button. Oh, Enid, right, sorry.

The garden? Thanks! I try. It looks a little funky now because the spring bulbs are all done and it's just a bunch of brown crap, and the fall perennials haven't really come in yet. I'd have had a nice new mulch down by now but I haven't even started weeding. There was all that rain, and then it got so dang hot, and you know. Yeah, last week would've been perfect, but I had a thing. Monday. And I had another thing Tuesday. I had all the things last week, I swear. Anyhoo.

Sheesh, you'd think I could've gotten that little postage stamp of a lawn done by now, right, Chive? Sorry. Kale. Mower's in the shop. Four weeks out. Swear to God, every year. You think you're going to get to it, and then the rains come, and all of a sudden it's up to here, and you haul out the mower and she's-a no work. I called a company and you know they want eighty bucks for that little patch? I don't think so. Kids used to do a whole yard for three bucks when I was coming up. Yeah, that was a long time ago, you're right about that.

Anyway, nice to meet you, Chard--no, I'd better not shake hands, I've been in the chicken shit. Ordinarily you wouldn't see me out in public in an old shirt and torn pants and these clodhoppers, but hey, you caught me just when I was thinking about getting to some of these weeds. No sense being a fashion plate in the garden, right? Be nice to get all this done and shower up and put on a nice outfit and enjoy the place. You all should come back in a few days. Bring your wife too. Pardon me? Gerald? Bring Gerald. We'll sit out back and have a beer. Not for you, Aphid! Ha ha! You're too little!

Enid. Swear to God, I've got a mind like a, like a, you know. You drain your spaghetti in it. Mind like a cauliflower.

Colander! Yeah, that's what I meant. Hey, why don't you and little Edna pop inside for a second, and I'll write your name down so I don't forget it, because otherwise I totally will, and I'll give you my email. Come on in. No, no, no need to take your shoes off, I'm going to have to vacuum soon anyway--obviously!--it's usually a lot more picked up in here, but I had that thing. You want some water or something? Sure. Hang on. Let me just rinse this glass. I've got a note pad around here somewhere. It's under that stack of mail, I think. Don't trip on the laundry basket, I was just getting around to that. Let me shut that door--no one needs to see my sewing room while I'm in the middle of something! I'll just shut this one too.

Help with all this? I never really thought about it. I mean, why pay someone to do something I'm perfectly capable of doing? Huh. Your mom, you say? Oh, your grandma. Well sure. She'd be a lot older than me. She's how old? Oh. Huh. Every other week, huh? Sure. I'll bet it looks real spiffy. You know, if you're into that kind of thing. Sometimes I think people care a little too much about appearances, if you ask me. I mean, no matter how much you clean, it just gets dirty again. We're all going to drop dead soon enough anyway. Bam. Finito. Here's my email. Thanks for dropping by! Careful of that door on your way out. Wind gets ahold of it and it can have a helluva kick to it. Smack you right in the fanny.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

When Mars Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie

After reading about astrology I've realized how important it is to keep tabs on the planets (not to mention the moon and sun and the Black Moon of Lilith, which is not even a thing). Otherwise you won't know what they're up to and will be forced to let life proceed along as it will, without any supervision.

My advice? Keep an eye on Mars in particular. That's one aggressive sumbitch.

You probably saw the exciting news the other day on the internet, the world's greatest source of content. Mars was going to get closer to Earth than it had been for 60,000 years and would look as big as the moon! There was even a picture of Mars as a giant tortilla in the sky. Any closer and it would dribble its canals on us. Mars is a very masculine planet and wouldn't think twice about doing that. This was going to go down on July 27th during the full moon. It was going to veer our way sudden-like, go "boogah-boogah," and then peel off to see other planets.

Alas. As is often the case, this was old, recycled news, like when you find out some actor died but he actually did it fifteen years ago. The real authentic tortilla hoax happened in 2003, when Mars made another close approach. It hadn't been that close since giant sloths slowly roamed the Earth, and wouldn't come that close again for 35,000 years. Don't bother to mark your calendars. We'll have been gone as a species for 34,850 years by that point.

The sky show was nevertheless a fine thing to watch. People should always watch planets, or at least track them on the internet, so they're not taken unawares. For instance, Mercury is in retrograde again. I know, I know. Happens all the time. Somebody should explain to Mercury that nobody's falling for that shit anymore.

This explains everything.
Unfortunately for everybody, good old Mars is also in retrograde. Didn't even hear about that did you? Planets are in retrograde when, from our perspective, they appear to be moving backwards. They aren't, they're just trundling around the sun as usual, but because the goatherds of yesteryear thought they were backing up, we have heritage anxiety about it to this day. We can blame a number of things, from flabby thinking to pox to bad sex, on planets being in retrograde. Or we could just crack a textbook.

But wait! There's more! Six planets are currently in retrograde. That's probably one asteroid shy of sending the whole solar system off the rails. Basically you should hole yourself up indoors with cable TV and lay low for a while. It's like when all the women in the dorm get their periods at the same time. Same advice applies.

Well, I'm sold. I got my natal chart done by the Googles. That's it, right up there. I have a Taurus Ascendant. The body of a woman with a Taurus Ascendant, it says here, will tend to develop as the archetype of the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite. The breasts may be larger than average, and the hips may be wider. I don't know. I do know just about everything on my natal chart is below the belly button. Even my zodiac chart is sagging.

I made sure to check on Mars. My Mars is in Virgo, or would sure like to be. Now that the horny bastard is in retrograde, I am informed that this can be a tough time for us Libras. I was advised to try to relax. "When Mars glides back into Capricorn on the 12th of August, expect inner anxieties to come out. Try to decompress a bit by taking long walks and mindful meditation."

Duly noted. After the 12th, I'm going right back full bore into reckless driving and overeating.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

All Dressed Up For The Brawl

We'd walked all the way downtown anyway, so I said, Well heck. Let's go watch the rallies.

What rallies, Dave wanted to know?

That would be your Patriot Prayer rally, with guest appearances from the Proud Boys, plus the other contestants, Antifa and a group of Reg'lar People like us.

Who are the Proud Boys, Dave wanted to know?

I'd looked them up. According to Wikipedia, they're boys who are proud of being white, and also they don't masturbate, in case that prevents them from getting off the sofa and going out to find a real woman.

Dave elected not to pursue.

Patriot Prayer is a right-wing group based in nearby Vancouver, Washington, where people from Portland go if they want to escape the tyranny of taxes and decent civilization. "Patriot Prayer" is one of those names you cook up if you want to rattle the opposition with otherwise inoffensive words. Like if I started a group called "Divine Uterus."

We walked along the waterfront; I'd heard that was where the action was. There were blue flashing police lights in the distance. The closer we got, the more people seemed to be wearing outfits. Everyone gets an outfit! We were puzzled. Some of the people--all right, they were all men--were wearing American flags. Some of them had bandanas over their faces. Some had, what do you call them, flak jackets? Big puffy vests anyway--not at all slimming. Everyone was playing dress-up.

"I can't tell who is who," I told Dave. The folks who had cut up flags into clothing might appear to be our vaunted Praying Patriots, but maybe the flag was being worn ironically. There didn't seem to be much violence in the air at this point, just a lot of milling about, although the Patriots had promised to come packing.

Per my query, a gentleman explained he was wearing a bullet-proof vest to protect him from the counter-demonstrators.

"Couldn't you just stay home?"

Evidently not. They were here to demonstrate free speech, or something. I'm all for it. ACLU supporter and everything. Their little get-ups looked more like a provocation than protection but in either case that's free speech too. I'm not sure why they're worked up about it. We do have free speech. Could it be they think free speech means nobody is allowed to object to it?

The gentleman next to the large bullet-proof fellow was saying something about the state of our country that--I'm sorry, I know it's not polite--made me laugh out loud at him. Kind of a lot. Also I may have blown a fart noise at him. Twice. Whereupon he loudly informed me that I'm in fucking denial.

"Language, son, language!"

I believe the inciting comment was "It was Obama who divided us, as soon as he got in."

Huh. Well, he did flush out the bigots pretty fast, I'll give him that.

But, sonny! Why get all het up about free speech and then spend it on profanity? Never mind. I have other questions.

Why call yourself Patriots and then turn around and desecrate the flag?

Do you have star-spangled underpants on too?

About that Prayer. Didst thou know thou art to enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly? Of course thou did. Everyone knowth that.

Isn't this a beautiful day? Isn't it nice to get out of the basement for a while? Did your mom pack you snacks? I hope your mom packed you snacks.

Dave began to steer me away. He is not a macho dude and has never, and would never, intervene in any fight I might want to pick. Unless he senses I'm in actual danger, which hasn't happened yet. Nevertheless, he doesn't care for my interest in picking fights with Nazis.

We walked a bit from the epicenter of things and only then discovered that all of the dressed-up boys were far-right types, and then there was a four-lane street with police in it, and then on the other side was the crowd of anti-fascists and Reg'lar People like us. It's like the Revolutionary War. Everyone gets spruced up in their uniforms and colors, and then they stand in a line and face each other, and maybe there will be some blam-blam. It always seemed like a silly way to conduct a war, albeit orderly. When Dave and I came up on the backside of our merry Patriots, we were accidental guerrillas.

Far out.

Anyway that was the whole problem. Here we were, just a little late for the ceremony, and there wasn't an usher to direct us to the correct side of the aisle. Our friends were over there, and here we were with the batshit brigade. Oh, well. Do you, Dave, and you, Murr, promise to defend the Constitution and fight the forces of autocracy and hatred for as long as you both shall live?

We do.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

My Stars!

Let's hear it for the Babylonians, who either invented or discovered astrology, depending, a long time ago. The Babylonians worked it all out just before being obliterated by Cyrus the Great--bummer they didn't see that coming!

But there's something to the idea that mere antiquity gives a philosophy weight. After all, rumors still persist that even before the invention of the written word, the primordial Wakka Wakka people were well on the way to proposing a Grand Unified Theory of particle physics, when unfortunately their oral tradition was disrupted by the terrible Tongue-Eater tribe bent on expanding their woolly-rhinoceros hunting territory. Such a loss.

Astrology, however, continued to thrive long after the Babylonians failed to, because it is fun. You get your own chart. It's your chart! Not really like anyone else's! You feel like a five-year-old with her first backpack that has her very own initials on it. It's very specific, and just as good at explaining your life as anything else. You can open a can with a car tire, too.

An acquaintance practices the occult arts for a living. Shortly after we met, she asked me my zodiac sign and I made her guess. She finally fetched up at "Libra" eight signs in. "You know how I knew?" she said, triumphant.

She has since explained various aspects of my personality to me, although I rarely recognize any of them as being my traits, and when I squinch up my eyes and say "Well, not really, I'm just the opposite," she tells me that it's because probably my moon is somewhere or other. Else. In a house. There are a bunch of houses. That moon could be anywhere. You can't trust it.

The idea is that the position of the planets (and moon and sun) at the very moment of your birth determines a lot about who you are and what you may become. Your whole natal chart is thrown out of whack if you're off by a couple hours.

Doesn't he look thrilled.
My mother was clearly aware of all this, which is why she had me induced one week before the school cut-off and two weeks before my due date, so that I would grow up to be the kind of kid likely to enter first grade at age five instead of age six and ultimately leave home altogether as soon as possible, because she and Daddy were getting on in years.

Astrology worked well enough to be considered a science for a long time, but there were always things that didn't quite add up, until, finally, the missing piece showed up in 1930, when Pluto came on board and straightened out the whole franchise. Unfortunately, he later retired as a planet, and now just does consulting part-time.

I'm not certain what mechanism the planets use to influence our psyches. Evidently it has to do with energy, which will remain undefined out of respect for its mystery. All the planets have different kinds of energy. I don't know which one holds the most sway over me. But the smart money is on a gas giant.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tycho Is In Da House

Welcome out, little dude! Bright out here, innit? That was probably a rough few hours there but now here you are and everyone's in love with you. There's so much love out here, you couldn't pack it in any tighter with shims and a mallet. And you haven't even done anything yet. Go ahead and take it--it's all yours. You can't mess this up.

That's not an excuse to be aggravating.  You should probably get that stuff out of your system now while you can still get away with it. In fact, some of the stuff you're going to get out of your system in the coming year is pretty dreadful. Here's a suggestion. Take it easy on your folks, they're good people. Jump all over the potty training thing first chance you get. Everyone will be amazed. Proper containment of personal effluent is much admired in the very young and very old. Your parents are not elderly but they're not shiny new, either. That's going to work to your advantage because they're going to be calm and steady and completely there for you, but maybe just a little too tired to supervise you every dang minute, so you will get a chance to go make a bunch of mistakes and figure things out. That's good.

In fact, if you really want to blow their minds, try being completely uninterested in screens. Phones? Tablets? Don't even give them a second glance. Mess around in the dirt instead. They won't know what to make of it. But then they'll totally need you in their old age, when all the communication systems of the world have foundered in ways we can't even imagine, and they'll need to learn how to grow their own beets and lettuce, and there you'll be, seeds and spade in hand and way ahead of the game. Oh, Dad, you'll say. The potatoes are underground, Dad. Go ahead and roll your eyes at him, but do it with love.

Your papa's a button-nosed beauty and your mama's a freakin' Viking. You're going to be real good-looking unless I miss my bet, but try not to ride that pony too hard. You're already lucky in love. You even have a third grandma, if you count me, and you don't even have to worry about getting any of my genes on you. I am an honorary grandma, which is what you call a grandma who isn't getting anyone named after her. Speaking of that, you might be the only kid in your class with your name. You were named after a 16th-century astronomer, because he was born first. Never forgo love. You really can't have too much of that. Doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want. Just the opposite, actually. That'll make sense later.

There used to be an oldie that went "What the world needs now is love sweet love." Oldie? Tough concept for a newborn. Let's see. About thirty years from now you're going to hear a song that will be written fifteen years from now, and that will be an oldie. It's all about perspective, and yours is very short now, though it's wide. Anyway there was a lot of truth to that oldie. The world still needs love sweet love but it's not the only thing that there's just too little of. We're missing a bunch of stuff. The guy who wrote the song thought we don't need another mountain, because we had enough to last till the end of time, but he'd never heard of Arch Coal, and had no idea people would just blow mountains apart to get at the insides, burn that up, and leave all the crap in the air and streams. He couldn't even imagine that. There's an awful lot of unimaginable things. You'll see.

Going to have to apologize for that right now. We probably couldn't have messed things up any worse if we'd made a point of it. Every generation thinks the world is going to end on their watch, of course. The generation that polished off the last mastodon thought that, but they were only just getting started. We just happen to be the first generation that's right about how bad things are, but that doesn't mean life isn't worth living. In another ten years you'll read about tigers, and rhinoceroses, and all kinds of different fish, for instance, but you never knew them, just as I didn't know a world with billions of passenger pigeons, enough to darken the skies for hours. You only know what you know. You get used to it.

Anyway we're all really sorry about things, but we still got wiggly bugs and music and rainbows and your namesake's stars and peanut butter, and the most amazing clouds--just look up!--and maybe a few salamanders will hang on too. Life is extraordinary--just you wait and see. Maybe you'll be the one to solve everything. Soak up all that love and do loving things with it, little dude. We're all counting on you.