Category Archives: photo paffoonies

The Benefits of Having a Virus

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To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of a single recommended use for a virus, either the computer kind or the kind I have right now that floored me for the past five days.  The computer kind damages expensive hardware and ruins expensive software, and serves no purpose I can fathom beyond usefulness in acts of evil.  And I do not recommend getting sick with a virus.  Every viral illness I have gotten over the past two decades has been, for me being a diabetic, potentially fatal.

But the book that Raggedy Clown and Baby Clown are displaying here in a vain attempt at marketing was written during a continuing siege of virally-induced bronchitis… Six times in four years.  Writing benefitted from lost work time and extended usage of sick days from my teaching job.  Some of my most creative work has happened because of bizarre dreams dreamed while having a fever.

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Idiotically I leaped out of bed with a feverish inspiration in the middle of a mostly sleepless night to write down a song, as if I had any business trying to be a songwriter.  I had listened earlier in the evening to a compilation of sad songs on YouTube obtained by typing the words “sad songs of the 80’s” into the search box.  I listened to a totally gawd-awful mess of weepers because in the book I am now writing, Sing Sad Songs, the main character Francois sings almost exclusively only sad songs.  That listening session must have caused just enough brain damage to make me think I could somehow compose a worthy sad song of my own to horrify readers with as an original song written by the character in the book.  Clever idea.  Impossible to carry out with my croaking toad-like musical abilities.  I can probably polish up the poetry to an acceptably awful level, but the tune half-heard in my dream is now completely lost and inapplicable.

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So, on the whole, I would have to say I have been decidedly unwell.  But, overall, it has not proved to be a barrier to my creative work.  It has really only served to make the strange little imaginary realm I live in a little bit stranger.

This is, of course, not a medical dissertation, or any sort of health and wellness advice that I am not qualified to give.  But it would be ironic if lots of people suddenly re-posted this essay and it ended up going viral like my post on visiting a nudist park did.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, healing, health, humor, illness, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

More Powerful Than a Potassium-Rich Banana

20141204_133754It is a time when we need a hero to step forward.  We lost one when Senator John McCain .headed off to Valhalla this week.  I didn’t agree with practically any of his political positions.  But the man stood up for what’s right and what’s wrong.  He took stances routinely that went against some of the worst drivers of Republican actions.  He prevented them from doing a lot of worse evils.  My Republican friends in Iowa disparaged McCain just as Trump did as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).  But he stood up for  us with the thumb down gesture when the evil Republican Oligarchs were voting to take away the gains in health care that we made under Obama.

It is a time when we need a hero to step forward.  Of course, we are always in need of heroes.  There is so much in our little lives that depends on the strong among us to shield us from the darkness that fills the universe.  And heroes come in many forms.  There was a time when I needed a hero to step forward and deliver me from evil in the Emergency Room in Pearsall Texas.  I was there because I was suffering from a severe lack of potassium in my bloodstream.  You don’t realize how important balanced potassium in the bloodstream is until you don’t have it.  The shakes, the pain, the fog interfering with my cognitive functioning would all have overwhelmed me permanently if the banana doctor had not run a potassium-rich IV directly into a vein in my arm and then proscribed bananas and apples in my diet when he let me go home without an expensive hospital stay.  I never learned his name, hence the epithet of “banana doctor”, but he was a hero to me when I needed one.

I think the real point here is, though, that we are forever needing heroes to step up.  More than once, as a school teacher, it was me who was called on to step up and do the hero job.  Talking on the phone late on a Saturday night to a suffering, suicidal teen, getting between two middle school girls and a leering stranger on a field trip in San Antonio, facing down a berserk child with real metal ninja throwing stars in a school hallway and getting him to run away rather than pursuing his target… gawd, looking back, I should’ve been scared out of my wits.  Don’t tell my mother that those things really happened.

And maybe that is the only place we should really be looking for heroes, inside ourselves.  Believe me, there is no Superman or Wolverine in the real world outside of the one in your own heart.  And that one will step up and answer the call if you sincerely need him… or her.  Take it from a guy once known in high school as “Superchicken”.  Now there’s an inspiring superhero name!

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Filed under action figures, Avengers, commentary, heroes, humor, insight, photo paffoonies

Sunflower People

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Sunflowers can be beautiful.  They are the State flower of the State of Kansas.  They are also weeds.  I know this because as a teenager I had to walk up and down beanfield rows in Iowa and pull them out of the ground by the roots.  They were slightly harder to be rid of than the hated button weeds and cockleburrs that made up the bulk of farm boy plant war enemies.

To be clear, a weed is a plant that grows where you really wish it wouldn’t.  Weeds can aggressively take over in places that are outside their natural environment.  They can, like sunflowers, be volunteer crops that come up amongst the desired plants, aggressively and with malice, to take away the moisture and the nutrients from the plants you are trying to cultivate.

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A picture from Holmes Seed Company… some people pay for sunflowers.

But sunflowers can be a useful plant in their own right.  As a farm product they can produce edible seeds, and sunflower oil, like soybean oil, has a multitude of food and industrial applications.  Plus, as flowers, sunflowers have a certain hardy and steady beauty that metaphorically symbolize happiness and hope.  It is probably the reason Kansas chose it as a State flower, more than the fact that Iowans hate it as a pernicious weed.

People can be sunflowers.  I know at this point you expect a little Trump bashing, as both Trump himself and Iowa Congressman Steve King are examples of sunflower people.  They thrive where you really don’t want them, and they are very hard to remove from your beloved country crop field.  But hopefully, the system will pull the racist weeds out of the soil by the roots so they don’t grow back right away.  Robert Mueller as special counsel has his farmer gloves on and he is already going up and down the rows.

So, enough about the weeds.

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Let’s talk about the sunflower people we all know and love.  They can be weeds, at times, too, but the most important things about them have to do with their basic flower-ness.  Just because they tend to vote Republican does not make them weeds.  They are all about a primary color.  Yellow.  That is the color of warmth and sunshine.  One thing that always holds true about sunflower people is that they definitely love the people they love, and while living in rural farming communities full of sunflower people, you will be warm in the embrace of a culture that knows how to keep you fed and happy.  Yellow is also the color of happiness.  Sunflower people know how to celebrate.  They get together in large family reunions with lots of grilling and lots of potato salad.  They can sing country western songs, and often play the guitar.  The women get together in quilt-making clubs that produce beautiful works of blanket art that makes you happy on cold winter nights.

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And sunflower people have smiles that radiate who they are in the same way a sunflower does, mirroring the firey orb in the sky the flower is named after.

But make no mistake either.

Sunflower people can burn you with the force of their angry fire if you don’t do the right thing.  Their frowns and displeasure can wilt you under righteous heat.  And they can do it with just a disgusted look, leaving you as sunburned as a day at the nude beach without sunscreen.  They can take root in your life and take hold in a way that eventually takes over, like the sunflowers dominating the flower garden.  You had better pay heed, or your other blossoms are lost to you.

Well, that being said, I’ve already written too many words about it for today.  I know many sunflower people.  I live with some and was raised by others.  And you are probably surrounded by similar blooms yourself.

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Filed under artwork, flowers, humor, insight, metaphor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Scary Uber Stories

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After driving for 45 minutes today, I discovered that I had earned only $4.16.  And this after having the air conditioning give out once, having the engine overheat twice, and having to change which direction I searched for building number 210 three times before I found the guy’s second-floor apartment and delivered his 40 chicken nuggets and two large orders of McDonald’s fries.  Normally when it takes that long to deliver food over more than 10 miles of city driving you make more for the effort.  But they don’t start paying you until you pick up the food, and from home to Ronald’s place in Irving, Texas was easily eight of the ten miles.

Really scary story, huh?

But that’s what Uber driving is like.  It is benign sort of slavery where you use your own car and gas money, your own car insurance to protect you from Texas Bubbas in Chevy pickups, and your own wits to survive and deliver hot food in the punishing Texas summer heat.

meethxx234569The worst experience I got from this summer’s food delivery came at the hands of a fellow school teacher.  I had to deliver faculty lunch to an elementary school in the last week of summer school classes.  It was a large lunch with two bags of burgers and a tray loaded with drinks in flimsy cardboard cups.  It was a short drive from the restaurant to the school.  But when I got there, it was a school with many entrances and kids playing on two different sides of the building.  I went to the door I thought the Uber navigator was directing me to.  I knocked.  When I got no answer, I called the lady who ordered everything.  I told her I was at the west door.  She told me that I had to find the main door on the south side of the building.  So I managed to juggle the two sacks and the easily spillable drinks to three different doors on the south side, all locked.  I called again and was told I must have the wrong building, so I went to the school building across the street and found an office building with only kindergarten and daycare kids present.  I called again.

“How can you mess it up so badly?  Our food will be cold and we have no time left to eat it.  And you are at the wrong building!  None of the other Uber drivers had this much trouble.”

So, after having been called an idiot, I quickly found a playground guardian to ask and was directed to the proper door on the NORTH side of the building.  I apologized and delivered the food.  She made complaints to Uber and told them that my behavior was unprofessional and the food was late.  So my job as an Uber driver was briefly in jeopardy.  I called the Uber driver masters and offered to refund my four-dollar fee to the customer to make amends.  They told me they appreciated the sentiment, but they NEVER give the money back.  So I went home grumbling, dripping gallons of sweat, four dollars richer and an hour’s worth of misery wiser.

I hope you appreciate that I waited four weeks to write this horror story.  It was the only way I could write it without profanity or bad words.

 

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Computer Woes

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For the last week and a half, I have been visiting my parents in Iowa.  That came to an end on Monday with a fourteen-hour drive back to the Dallas suburbs.  That should have been a normal enough thing.  I have made that trip two ways over a hundred times in the years I have been living in Texas while still having family in Iowa.

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A mere car trip like that shouldn’t have had a major impact on my writing, this blog and my novel in progress neither one.

But, unfortunately, demons of a darker day had to have their say.  The computer that I have used to write six published novels and all of the blog posts I have written since 2013 died from battery depletion in the trunk of my car.  Of course, my pessimistic nature had made me purchase a backup laptop some time ago.  But it didn’t have Microsoft Office on it, nor any other word processor.  I also didn’t remember dozens of passwords for necessary writer websites, and email, and bank accounts, and on and on and on.  Needless to say, I have begun to write recently changed passwords down on paper somewhere secret.  …And will very likely forget promptly where I hid them.

So yesterday was wasted getting my entire life back up and running on the computer and online.  If you have been searching for my daily blog posts the last few days and finding that your search was fruitless, this is the reason why.  Of course, not all fruit is good for you. You should probably be getting fresher fruits and vegetables from better sources than the internet.  Although there are plenty of old Mickian blog posts out there now that have totally fermented and become somewhat unfortunately fragrant over time, today’s post is proof that I am still hopelessly addicted to writing and still not quite dead.

So, now that I am back up and running, expect more Mickian rants and colored pencil Paffoonies.  I have lost time to make up for.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, photo paffoonies

Painting on the Rocks

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The Rowan Public Library has a storm sewer drain near the parking area on the west side of the building.   How do you prevent cars from parking on top of it and risking significant damage to two different things?  The librarian’s solution?  Make a rock garden around it so that only extremely stupid people would still consider parking there.  And what better summer activity than to invite kids and senior citizens to come in and paint the rocks for decoration’s sake.

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The goofy spotted frog and the Star Wars rebel flying goose are the rocks that I chose to paint.  You can see that I had more fun than I did artistic epiphanies.  But that is the thing about art.  Bob Ross says that it can bring good things to your heart.  And it does even more so when you share it with kids and other people.

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So I had a relatively good time just painting rocks for fun and cracking simple, stupid jokes to make little kids laugh.

Mom had fun painting flowers and smiling suns on a rock next to her good friend Annie and Annie’s great grandson.  You see them in this picture taken by the little boy’s grandmother.

And my daughter really got invested in the zen experience of putting paint on rocks.  She took the longest of anybody to finish her second rock.  And, of course, her little dragon-obsessed creation was easily the best one of the day.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, coloring, commentary, family, goofiness, homely art, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Morning Comes to Grandpa’s Farm House

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Superman has his Fortress of Solitude.  Batman has his Batcave.  Every Superhero needs a place of his own to reflect on the trials and struggles of the never-ending battle for truth and justice and the American way.  I achieved another dawn today, waking up at sunrise on Grandpa Aldrich’s farm place.   It is for me a place of safety and quietude where I can rest and regenerate, plan, plot, and create the story of my life.

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It is a place far older than me, a family farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years.  It connects me to the past and the people who’ve come before me, not only the family I have known and loved, but those who came before them that were gone before I was born.

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It is possible that it is unwise to reveal my secret lair and my connections to such an important place.  Will my enemies take advantage of the fact? No, probably not.  Most of my enemies are ignorant people who do not read, and so, will never uncover this secret I have now shared with you.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, family, homely art, humor, Iowa, photo paffoonies, self portrait