Category Archives: angry rant

Evil People

I have always maintained that people are basically good. I believe we are born good. All capable of empathy, good morals, and, most importantly… Love. In order to be anything else in life, a hard-hearted criminal, a manipulator, a murderer, a corporate CEO, the 45th President of the US, you have to be taught to do evil.

So, if all people are basically good, and most of us believe in a loving, benevolent God, why are we on a downward spiral of climate change grinding out the eventual extinction of all life on Earth?

You have to be taught to be evil. But there is more to it than simply having a father and a grandfather who were deeply involved with the KKK. You can be taught evil things by circumstances you simply can’t control due to their complexity and unsolvable problematic nature. Being raised in poverty is a big one. Being raised in poverty and having your fears and disappointments massaged and amplified by the propaganda on FOX News is an even bigger one. Intolerance, bigotry, and, most of all, hatred are a very human reaction to personal suffering, and they become an evil thing if you don’t properly place the blame on the real causes of things and then solve those problem-perpetuating causes.

Greed and narcissism are real causes of many evils that largely go un-dealt-with. In our modern world unregulated capitalism means the worst offenders have an automatic incentive to choose increasing profits over the well-being of the general population. Paying carbon taxes and taking carbon out of manufacturing emissions don’t help profits as much as being able to simply pour the waste into the air we breathe and the water we are literally made of. The temptation is simply too great to those raised on excessive wealth and privileges. In fact, it can be too much for those who built their own fortunes without being evil too. Staying good is not always a choice that wealth allows. Few are altruistic enough to give away an entire fortune once they have it in their hands. Whether they see how it affects them or not.

I can see these things are true, but I also have no power, no magic wand to wave, to solve these miserable problems. Evil is a feature of being human. And only our collective will can solve it. We are not inherently evil, deserving of every bad thing that’s coming to us. But even the worst villains think of themselves as the heroes of their own story. So, how do we solve it all? You tell me. And then we’ll solve it together.

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Who Do You Listen To?

There was a time when you could turn on the TV news and listen to what you were fairly confident was actually news.  Walter Cronkite on CBS always seemed to really “Tell it like it is.”  He never seemed to put a spin on anything.  No one doubted anything he said when he reported space missions from NASA or the assassination of JFK.  You never had to wonder, “What is Cronkite’s real agenda?”   His agenda was always to tell me the news of the day.

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The question of politics and ideas was always one of, “Which flavor tastes best in my own personal opinion?”  Because I was weirdly and excessively smart as a kid, I often listened to some of the smartest people accessible to a black-and-white RCA television set.

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William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal were both identifiably smarter than me.  I loved to listen to them argue.  They were equally matched.  They respected each other’s intellect, but they hated each other with a passion.  Buckley was a Fascist-leaning conservative ball of hatred with a giant ego.  Vidal was a self-contradictory Commie-pinko bastard child of liberal chaos  with  an equally giant ego.  I never agreed with either of them on anything, but their debates taught me so much about life and politics that I became a dyed-in-the-wool moderate because of them.  They were the key evidence backing up the theory that you needed two sides in the political argument to hammer out good ideas of solid worth.  And, though I didn’t trust either side of the argument fully, I always trusted that both were basing their ideas on facts.

George Will

When I was young I identified as a Republican like my father, and thought George Will was a reasonable opinion-leader.  After all, a man who loves baseball can’t be a bad guy.

Then along came Richard Nixon and the faith-shaking lies of Watergate.  The media began to be cast as the villain as they continued to show the violence and horrors of Vietnam on TV and tell us about campus unrest and the terrible outcomes of things like the Kent State Massacre.  The President suggested routinely that the media was not using facts as much as it was using opinions to turn people away from the Nixon administration’s answer to the problems of life in the USA.  I tried to continue believing in the Republican president right up until he resigned and flew away in that helicopter with his metaphorical tail between his legs (I am trying to suggest he was a cowardly dog, not that I want to make a lewd joke about poor Dick Nixon… or is that Little Dick Nixon, the man who let me down?)

And then along comes Ronald Reagan, the man acting as a “Great President” because he was a veteran actor and knew how to play the part.  And with him came Fox News.

Roger Ailes, a former adviser to Nixon, got together with media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a man who would commit any crime necessary to sell more newspapers, and created a news channel that would pump out conservative-leaning propaganda that would leave Joseph Goebbels envious.  I make it a rule to only listen to them and their views on anything when I feel the need to get one-foot-hopping, fire-spitting mad about something.  So, since, I am a relatively happy person in spite of a long, hard life, you can understand why I almost never watch Fox News.  They are truly skilled at making me mad and unhappy.  And I suspect they do the same for everyone.  They deal in outrage more than well-thought-out ideas.

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News media came under a cloud that obscured the border between facts and partisan opinions.  And conservatives seemed to have a monopoly on the shouty-pouty angry news.  So, I began to wonder where to turn for a well-reasoned and possibly more liberal discussion of what was politically and ethically real.  I found it in the most surprising of places.

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I turned to the “Excuse me, this is the news” crews on Comedy Central where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were busy remaking news reporting as a form of comedy entertainment.  It is hard work to take real news and turn it into go-for-the-chuckles statements of fact that make you go, “Hmm, that’s right, isn’t it?”  Stewart and Colbert consistently examine how other news organizations  hurl, vomit forth, and spin the news, and by so doing, they help you examine the sources, get at the truth, and find the dissonance in the songs everyone else is singing.  And these are very smart men.  As I said, the intellectual work they do is very difficult, harder than merely telling it like it is.  I know because I have tried to do the same myself.  And is it really “fake news”?  It seems to me like it is carefully filtered news, with the poisons of propaganda either surgically removed, or neutralized with antidotes of reason and understanding.

So, Mickey listens to comedians to get his news.  Is that where you expected this article to end up?  If not, where do you get your news?

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Anticipating the End

I apologize for talking about preparing for the end of the world, but that is exactly what this post is about. I don’t anticipate that the world will end while I am still alive, but the prospects brought about by politics in this country makes me think once or twice about that conclusion.

After enduring the four years of the Trump administration, I thought we had lived through the terrible episode. Especially after the Pumpkinhead lost the 2020 election and I had personally survived the Covid 19 Pandemic that his incompetence allowed to grow out of control. (The man threw away Obama’s pandemic-response guide, the one that prevented an Ebola Pandemic, just because he hated Obama.) At this point, we have put in two years of trying to recover from the damage the orange one did in four long years, and suddenly it appears that midterm elections will put the control of Congress back in the hands of the greedy, corrupt and malevolent Trumplican Party. They will spend the rest of the Biden administration trying to revenge-impeach Grandpa Joe and undo the climate-control legislation, as well as stop any new measures that might keep the economy from being destroyed (because, of course, it is not in the political interest of the Trumplican Party to allow Grandpa Joe to get credit for fixing anything.)

A Texas election official hard at work.

But now the Republican… er, Trumplican Party is probably going to win lots of elections, not because of representing the will of the people, but because they cheat by gerrymandering districts, denying certain voters access to easy voting conditions, and apparently whose election results will be accepted and whose will be rejected.

Realistically we have until 2050 to repair and reverse man-made global warming. If we don’t meet that deadline, the world will die… oceans will become acidic, the air will become too hot for life, and all life on Earth will go extinct. It will be total game over.

And the government we will be handing power to will undo everything and delay all progress except for giving tax breaks to billionaires. No more Medicare or Social Security. Any sexual preference besides cis-gender white heterosexuality will be illegal. Black history will be illegal (it already is in Florida and Texas.) And all of that won’t matter because all intelligent people will be dead. A good portion of those who are too stupid to realize you can’t just hole up in Walmart with the air conditioning on high and survive for months or years will soon realize that Walmarts without supply trucks coming in daily are not worth saving.

So, although I may be dead before this year is out, government collapse will follow soon, and I may live to see it. Climate refugees are already a thing. Floridians will need to grow gills in a couple of years. The prospects are not good, even if foolish voters abstain from voting for Trumplicans.

Fare thee well, world. We shall soon see if there is an afterlife or not.

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Being Excessively Creative

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It is an unusual position to be in as a kid in the school room to be the creative kid.  First and foremost because you will forever be known as the weirdo, the spaceman, the egghead.

How do I know that?  Because I was that kid.  And I grew up to teach that kid.  And now that I am retired as a teacher, I am still that kid.

If there was a problem to be solved, a picture to be drawn, a group assignment that required somebody to actually think, I was the kid that everybody wanted to be in their group or be their partner.  (That time that Reggie and I blew up the test tube of copper sulfate in Mr. Wilson’s chemistry lab doesn’t count because, although I am the one who dropped it, he’s the one who heated up my fingers with the blowtorch.  Honest, Mr. Wilson, it is true.) But if it was picking teams on the playground, I was the last loser to be called, even though I was pretty good at softball, pretty good at dodgeball, great at volleyball, and usually the leading scorer in soccer (of course we are talking an Iowa schoolyard in the 60’s where soccer was a sport from Mars.)  And as an adult, I enjoyed teaching the creative kids more than the rest because I actually understood them when they explained what they were doing and why, and I was even able to laugh at their knit-witty jokes (yes, I am including those jokes made of yarn with that pun).   Creative kids speak a language from another world.  If you are creative too, you already know that.  And if you aren’t creative… well, how foo-foo-metric for you.

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And another unfortunate side effect of the creative life is that you make stuff.  You don’t have to be seriously infected by bites from the cartoon bug or the art bug to be like that.  My daughter is making a suit of armor for herself from a flat sheet of aluminum that she is pounding out by hand, painting with spray paint and painter’s tape, and edging with felt.  After she’s done with it this Halloween, it will go on one of the piles of collections and models and dolls and stuffed toys and… Of course, sooner or later one of those piles is going to come to life and eat the house.  There is no place left to display stuff and store stuff and keep stuff that is far enough away from potential radioactive spider bites.  I have scars on my fingers from exactor knife accidents, oil paint, and acrylic paint and enamel permanently under my fingernails.  Shelves full of dolls rescued and restored from Goodwill toy bins, dolls collected from sale bins at Walmart, Toys-R-Us, and Kaybee, and action figures saved even from childhood in the 60’s are taking over the house and in an uproar, demanding to be played with rather than ignored.  (Didn’t know dolls can actually talk?  Haven’t you learned anything from John Lasseter?)

Anyway, it is tough to go through life being excessively creative.  I have art projects growing out of my ears.  And book publishers are calling me because my award-winning book is not generating sales in spite of two awards, 5-star reviews, and generally good quality, but the only solutions they have cost ME money I don’t have.  Oh, well, at least it isn’t boring to be me.

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Today I Feel Like Complaining

Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Albert Pujols are all potential Hall-of-Famers. This season was probably the last for all three. Certainly the last with the Cardinals. But they are swept out of the playoffs in the very first round by the wild-card Philadelphia Phillies. I am bummed.

And yesterday I woke up with flu-like symptoms (though my last Covid test was negative.) Today I am down and out, sick in bed. The appointment with the eye doctor had to be rescheduled. I am double-bummed.

And I have watched more of the January 6th Committee hearings. There is so much evidence that Donald Trump is guilty of election manipulation, fraud, obstructing justice, and citing an insurrection while trying to overturn the last election. There is more credible evidence, testified to by Republican officials than got Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed for treason. It leads me to grumpily wonder why the orange one is not also on trial and destined to be executed. More people testified against him than the Rosenbergs. More people directly died from the insurrection violence than died from the transmission of nuclear secrets the Rosenbergs allegedly enabled. Maybe that will change if Putin uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, but Trump has ties to that too. He had nuclear documents about the defenses against nukes from some unnamed country (possibly France) that Putin would pay handsomely to see. The stolen documents in Mar a Lago scandal is only one more reason to try and execute the malevolent orangutan.

And why are you so angry at Trumpalump today, Mickey?

Well, duh… I am sick. I have a low-grade fever, a headache, and the bleching blahs.

And as I try to mend while watching TV, all the talking heads are bemoaning that, though Biden’s presidency has done a lot to repair the damage the orange president created, and he has given us many benefits that no one reasonably expected, the Republicans will take back the House and the Senate and proceed to try endlessly to impeach Biden, until a Republican wins the Presidency again in 2024. And then public schools will be privatized, the fossil fuel industry will be deregulated, Medicare and Social Security will be legislated away, and the entire planet will become a lifeless, post-industry hellscape.

I feel awful today.

But not just because I am ill.

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How Things Are Changing

The picture, “That Night in Saqqara,” is about youth and age, life and death. One of the things I intend to discuss as a change is the way my life has tilted on the scale of life and death. The weights are health problems, environmental problems, and social problems. And all of those weights seem to go on the death plate of the scale.

My scale has arthritis, diabetes, high risk of heart attack or stroke, and diabetic depression on the death plate. By contrast, the pharoah above only had advanced age and death prior to the picture on his death plate. Of course, the fact that he’s already dead should be a heavier weight than any of mine. But obviously the pharoah also has mummy-necromantic magic working in his favor on the life plate of the scale. And me, being now a serious Christian Existentialist (an atheist who believes in God,) I can’t even claim a faith in some mythical afterlife where I will have wings and a harp and can be a nudist all I want since many artists have depicted angels as nudists.

But the boy in the picture is faced with the same weight imbalance as both me and the pharoah. He has youth and health and a brass ahnk necklace that symbolizes life on his life plate. But if he’s alive today, his prospects for life are skewed too. Climate change may cause his death from heat or storms at almost any point between now and the climate Armeggeddon that the Koch Brothers have been nurturing with their fossil-fuels-carbon emissions in order to score higher profits before everybody on earth dies (something that won’t affect their lives since they both plan on being dead before it happens. One of them is already dead.).

And, of course, in the United States generally, and Texas especially, there is the whole gun-rights debate that loads massive lead weights on the death plates of young and old alike. After the Newtown and Uvalde shootings (excuse me… 15-minute break for weeping… I spent 31 years being a teacher) not even elementary-school classrooms are safe places for children.

This, of course, is a very significant change in the way the world is. More than half of my teaching career occurred before the Columbine school shooting. Before that point we had no plan for dealing with an active shooter on campus. Afterwards we discussed, changed policies and procedures, and practiced what we were supposed to do… lockdowns, hiding kids, keeping them silent in the dark… and deciding for ourselves, “They will not kill my students until after I am already dead.”

This is called “Magic Carpet Ride,” though it could be called, “No Fortress is Safe Anymore.”

So, what are the current changes I am bemoaning in this post?

I am currently closer in fate and time to the pharoah rather than the ahnk-wearing boy. I will not be around for more than another decade at the most. But I am not alone being under threat.

The world is ending in flames and hurricanes because of greedy people valuing their wealth over everybody’s lives, I hope you all live long after I am gone myself. But I have doubts about how long we collectively have.

And politics and gun-culture have grown toxic. We could be ended by a bullet at any time, in any place. And it is a scary thing that we have no power over that at present.

As always, I prepare for the worst, and I then hope and pray it doesn’t happen that way.

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So, What’s Wrong With Mickey Now?

I know you read the title and immediately thought, “Oh no! Not another self-reflection post where maudlin Mickey complains about what he thinks is wrong with himself and is usually eerily right on the money, although it is strange and bizarre and will probably never be corrected.”

But it is what successful authors do. I have seen Stephen King reflecting on his own career and writing process. I have seen Seinfield complain endlessly about every little thing that happens around or to him. And so, I plan to do it too. Though I probably will do it wrong and be terrible at it, so it will work the same way as my terrible poetry, making great poets better by comparison.

That which is pretty bad about me now includes the fact that my productivity has really fallen off. In the last decade, from 2012 to 2022, I have written and published 21 books. I have written this daily blog almost every day, and I have drawn, colored, or painted more pictures of various kinds than I could possibly ever keep track of.

But my storytelling has slowed in a molasses of forgetfulness, confusion, and lost thoughts. My drawing has slowed by arthritis pains in my fingers and hands. And if I can claim that less output is made up for by distilled and concentrated power, maybe I can pull out of the triple-bummer tailspin I’m in. But I am also pressed to prove that the concentrated stuff is actually better.

My following on WordPress is dropping as more and more I reveal the real me in these goofy little essays. I am being followed more and more by nudists. But the more nudists follow me, the more normal people who wrongly believe nudists aren’t normal people will unfollow me and swear off following any more Mickey-like nudists. And the irony is that less and less, because of health conditions, can I be actually naked. But more and more I am being emotionally, spiritually, and candidly naked. Naked in my beliefs. Naked in my soul. More and more leads to less and less which become more and more again. Maybe my followers on WordPress will do that too. I am linked to and followed by the AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) and https://histonudismo.wordpress.com/. I seem to be making more sales of my nudist stories thanks to Twitter nudists who gleefully share everything they like about nudism.

And I have been really having a time about being the unluckiest human being that somehow managed to survive every dark turn in 66 years of life on earth.

The car that I was hoping would be the last one that I would ever need was destroyed by a Dallas pothole. Its replacement is giving me a hefty car payment I was hoping to never have to pay again. My wife’s bedroom ceiling collapsed on her bed. The plumbing in our house is seriously malfunctioning and beyond my pocketbook to repair. As is the bedroom ceiling. So, the luck part of my personal mojo is up to its lifelong bad old tricks.

But the baseball Cardinals have won their division this year. And Aaron Judge hit 62 homers in the American League this season. It ain’t all bad.

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Good Versus Evil in Today’s World

Innocence, Purity, and Courage are Good

It is the goal of those who write humor to reveal truth and make you laugh about it. Unexpected truth is funny. It is also the main reason that far-right political kooks have no sense of humor Simply put, for the evil and stupid people who are taking over this country, truth is not funny. It is the enemy.

The fact that so many who are quick to argue cannot be quieted by a joke anymore means that the conversation can’t end until they’ve owned the libtard, or punched him in the face… or worse, shot him dead with their beloved Second-Amendment Rights.

And a source of that evil is the whole conservative-bubble propaganda wheels that never stop turning on Fox News, Breitbart, One America News, and Stormfront publications.

They take up arms against the things they fear. And they fear those people that their propaganda wheels identify for them as the “other.” That means people of color, Democrats, liberals, ANTIFA (which stands for anti-fascists, and as far as I can tell are mostly fictional… which prevents me from joining them,) and intellectuals (meaning anybody that is smarter than they are… specifically me.)

Yes, White Priviledge is real, though they will complain you’re being racist if you say it out loud.

The most frustrating thing about the armies of evil is that they are made up of good, basically God-fearing, fine-hearted people who would do anything for you if you are identified as a member of their group by the color of your skin or your support of their glorious leader Don Cheetoh Trumpaloney. Unfortunately the consumption of propaganda from their fear-centered and conspiracy-theory-prone propaganda wheels stimulates the fear centers of their amygdalas (also known as their lizard brains) and suppresses their natural empathy to the point of being able to do violence in the name of leaders who are basically robbing them, conning them, and laughing about it behind their backs.

Enthusiasm for an idea like this… good or evil?

And the leaders who are doing all of this, they are the primary beneficiaries of corporate greed and control of politics to the point that they can make more profits than ever from fossil fuels at a time when the planet is dying from green-house gasses that cause fires in the western States and the ferocity of Hurricane Ian in Florida.

So, what are people who would rather see good happen than have the world die in fire and a hail of bullets going to do about it?

We can vote. Here are the names of some people who support evil ideas and have made lots of money in their respective offices; Ron DeSantis (Mickey Mouse’s new nemesis), Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Greg Abbott (Evil Emperor of Texas,) Marco Rubio (enemy of immigrants everywhere,) and basically anyone who rules with a Maga hat on, or calls himself a Trump Republican.

We have to keep fighting for public education, fair and equal and well-funded, free of book banning in school libraries that target classic works of black authors, gay authors, truth-tellers, and authors of science books that include climate change and evolution as scientifically established, and willing to treat kids as valuable learners no matter what color, religion, ethnicity, culture, or sexual orientation they are blessed with. Kids are kids and deserve love and respect (even the naked ones, though I am not advocating for nude schools… that’s just a joke.)

We have to treat the aggrieved and fearful members of the evil armies not as evil, but as our misguided brothers and sisters, neighbors, useful members of society, and people who can be reminded that they do have good hearts, and only cold-hearted lunatics and despots are truly evil.

And I will continue trying to open eyes and hearts with humor. Hopefully the kind that brings smiles and laughter. But also the kind that brings tears and self-examination as necessary. (Of course, I can’t promise to be good at it. Funny is in the brain of the laugher after all.)

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Filed under angry rant, education, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, kids, politics, red States

The Diminishing Man

We get smaller as we age. Both physically and mentally and in terms of property…. smaller is what we get.

The car problem was solved by buying a new car (a new used car.) I bought a 2015 Ford Focus that I am quite happy with in spite of the fact that I will have to pay for it for 72 months and may well have to give up driving for medical reasons well before that.

But then the car problem got significantly complicated when the insurance company, instead of totaling the car that hit the pothole and giving me the current value of it less the deductible, decided to okay the repair of the transmission, in spite of the fact that the total cost couldn’t have been more than a few dollars less than the total value of the car. So, I will pay $800 to get back a beat-up car that I no longer want or need.

As a writer, I am also diminishing in my ability to produce output on my laptop keyboard. My mind is still churning out story ideas and daily progressions, but my fingers, arthritic and covered with numerous band-aids, can’t seem to control the typing anymore. Just typing this paragraph forced me to correct letters that seemingly for no reason appear in the wrong space, even in the wrong sentence, paragraph, and wrong page. How does that work? Muscle twitches? Not remembering where the proper letter goes? Or possibly the curser is simply wandering for no reason, highlighting and deleting things at random.

Just as the fairies I have been obsessively telling stories about lately have diminished from human-sized in the Middle Ages to three inches tall today, so too have I become much smaller as a storyteller than I was when I was teaching. I used to have 6 captive audiences 5 days a week. Now I have had 28 pages read on Kindle in the last week, and only made $2.25 in the last month as a writer. Definitely not challenging James Patterson for space on the Walmart bestseller display.

So, I am tiny now. Less well known than I was as a school teacher. Less wealthy than I was two weeks ago. And, if you measured me with a yardstick, probably shorter than I used to be too. Only three inches tall before you know it. And not even any magic to overcome my disadvantages with.

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Bad Day Friday

Some days simply nothing goes right. Some days things go so wrong that a couple of bad days turn into a bad week which then morphs into an unlucky, really bad month. So it is on a bad Friday.

A quick and messy explanation; my hoopy old automobile hit a pothole. The pothole broke the transmission. The repairs seemingly are going to cost more than the car is worth. The insurance wants to total the car. But my son in the Air Force bought my wife’s car a while ago. And he now needs his car to go to his post in Florida. So, my family has gone from being a two-car family to a no-car family in a matter of three weeks. This next week my wife has a job to drive to. My daughter has a class to go to twice in the next city to the East. I don’t have a usable toilet to use in our house, and I need to walk to the nearest public toilet in the grocery store. That’s a lot of Uber and walking we didn’t have to do a year ago.

I am endeavoring to get the destroyed car dealt with. The shop where it is now sitting wasn’t the first choice of the insurance company. So, they arranged a tow to another shop. But the tow truck and the shop where the car currently is had a big misunderstanding and that sudden cancelation became my problem. It took an hour and a half on the phone to straighten out the mess. The car won’t officially be deceased until the 19th. But the coroner will most probably declare it still dead.

And the attempt to get a new car derailed today too. I have been waiting to test drive a Ford Focus I found at Carmax since Tuesday. But, it turns out, the car couldn’t pass a pre-test-drive emissions test, and when they went back to check the paperwork from previous owners, they discovered a problem that requires investigation. So, I have to go through the car search for a used car all over again.

But, although the crisis of the family cars is reaching a double-deadly deadline, it is a bad day that isn’t all bad. The St. Louis Cardinals lead their division by seven and a half games with two weeks left in the regular season. I am pre-qualified for financing at Carmax in spite of having a Chapter 13 bankruptcy from 2017 to 2021 and having no credit rating at all. So, even from the depths of this bad day, I can see future sunshine over the next couple of hills.

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