Friday, April 21, 2017

The woo woo

Die hard skeptics call beliefs in the paranormal and various faith-based healing things and all that stuff "the woo woo." (In fact, many of them wouldn't call themselves skeptics, which implies they haven't made up their minds and could be convinced of things, but simple non-believers.) 
The phrase is a dismissive one and disrespectful to believers, and the Complete and Total Loser is all for it. In his teens and early adult years he was a strong believer in ESP, telekinesis, levitation and the like, and read books on them and kept an open mind. Decades of inquiry, however, turned up nothing and now the Loser is on the side of those who call it "the woo woo."
healthy knees
If these were the Loser's knees, you wouldn't be reading this.

And yet. The Loser, for some reason, has a bad hunch about the outcome of the knee replacement surgery he'll have three days from now. He's attributing that to the general anxiety anyone has before major surgery, but the feeling is there nonetheless. If you're reading this and it's the last entry, or close to it, perhaps some of the woo woo is more than random chance making the supernatural look real.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Shopping, remembering

When no one loves you and you don't really have any good friends, getting ready to be housebound for months is hard. 
Although his surgery is a week away, the Complete and Total Loser has stockpiled prodigious amounts of stuff. Over one hundred and twenty bottles of water, lots of butter, bagels he's halved and frozen, six jars of peanut butter to put on those bagels, two dozen rolls of toilet paper, bath soap, aspirin, microwaveable meals, a variety of meats he's wrapped in foil and frozen, two cases of beer. He has much more to buy. Nuts, pickles, tofu, instant coffee, eggs, chicken sausage, juice. Some of this he's waiting until closer to the date so the food won't expire. Fortunately, the Loser is smart enough to know that most foods last well beyond their assigned expiration dates.
gorilla hoarding food
A gorilla hoarding food.

But no matter how much he buys the Loser knows that he'll miss something essential. Something dumb like salt. Paper towels. Toothpaste. 
Meanwhile, the knee that will be replaced seems to know it and is hurting as much as it can. In a way, this is good. It will keep the Loser from coming up with an excuse to avoid the operation. It's also making him think of a woman he knew over thirty years ago named Marlys. 
Marlys lived in the same house in Minneapolis the Loser lived in after college. The house had been divided into efficiency apartments and was inhabited by five people, all well under thirty except for Marlys, who was in, probably, her late fifties, the age the Loser is now. Life had been neither kind nor unkind to Marlys. It just ignored her completely. She'd never married. She made the Loser uncomfortable because she was clearly one of those people who simply never got it, something he at that age hoped wouldn't apply to him forever.
The Loser could hear her snoring through the thin drywall between their apartments in the otherwise solidly constructed house, which had been built to withstand harsh Minnesota winters. (The sound depressed him; he moved his bed away from the wall.) Of the few conversations they had, the one the Loser remembers now is of Marlys having trouble one day getting a taxi to take her back from the supermarket. "I certainly can't walk that far," she told the Loser, her expression one of stupid wonder that anyone could. It was her knee. The Loser, an unwrinkled 23-year-old, listened politely, concealing mild contempt. That store's just five blocks from her. It's a ten minute walk, if even that. 
With age and decrepitude comes understanding.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Now you know almost everything

The oldest email account the Complete and Total Loser has uses his middle name. An elderly woman who has the same last name as that mistakenly emails the Loser an occasional update on her goings on. The Loser informed her of this some time ago, yet the emails continue.
Dorothy Gale Wizard of Oz
Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz.

The latest:
My day!
I was writing a very detailed account of my appointment and it suddenly disappeared!  Now I’ll write the nitty-gritty.
 Kevin took me to the Clinic.  After I finished, he came and got me and took me to the Imaging Center to have an Xray done.  While I was doing that he just sat in the parking lot and waited for me then took me to Walmart to pick up my medicine.  The longest part of that experience was standing in the pick up line only then did I find out it was an over-the-counter product which cost $2.00 and they paid the tax because they had pennies there!
 Now back to the Xray.  The girl who got all my information asked if I lived at College Square.  Well, her grandmother lives here. The Tech who did the Xray said I looked very familiar and did I go to Woodland Heights. Of course I said I did so we had a nice little visit.
 When we got back to College Square I decided to go down for
“supper” since I didn’t go down at lunchtime.  During that time Channing came by to tell me that you had called. Then Kathleen came by to tell me you had called, so I returned to my apartment and removed my phone from my purse which was in my closed closet.
 Before taking my shower and getting ready to go to the doctor’s office I knitted a bit.  Did no unravelling!
 Now you know almost everything.  If you have questions please ask.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting ready

The Complete and Total Loser is getting ready for a total knee replacement, which will happen the 24th of this month (April, 2017). He is not looking forward to it, even though his knee has hurt for years now. 
woman bather using shower chair
A woman using a shower chair.

The Loser is even trying to find excuses to cancel it, like his sore hip, which will need replacing in a few years. He knows he'll go through with it and put up with the intense pain and probably not be as good at the rehabilitation part of it as he should be because he has no one in his life who loves him and will make him stay motivated. And he also knows that before he's at all recovered and back in shape something else will come up, like prostate cancer, and he'll probably be killed by it before he's even had a chance to enjoy the painful surgery's benefits.
Meanwhile, he has bought a shower chair. It cost $55, a lot for a cheap plastic device, but the Loser knows he'll probably need it again before long.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Constant losing

Life has never been more dull for the Complete and Total Loser than it is now. The Loser has a strong hunch that he has started a post before with that exact sentence, which says much about his life in general.

right knee x-ray
An X-ray of the Loser's right knee.
The only thing of note is that at the end of April he will have knee-replacement surgery on his right knee. He doesn't look forward to the intense pain that will follow that, or the disability status, or the clouded thinking the pain and drugs to alleviate will cause, but it is necessary. The joints last from ten to fifteen years, he's been told. That seems like a short time: The car the Loser drives is nearly twenty years old and most of its original parts work fine. The Loser doesn't, however, see himself living to be over seventy, so he's fine with that estimate.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sally died

The Complete and Total Loser reads the death notices in his local paper every day. Today, he learned that a woman who was a year behind him in college died. Her name was Sally.
The Loser was stunned. 
He went to her house in 1976 because her parents were holding an event for area high school seniors to learn more about the college, which is in Ohio, far from the Loser's suburban Philadelphia town. Sally's father went to the college and Sally would have been there but the Loser doesn't recall meeting her at that time.
He met her when he was a sophomore and she a freshman. The college was (and is still) a small one and kids from the same regions tended to find one another quickly even if they'd never met in high school. Sally was pretty, funny, smart and talented. She sang in the school's female a Capella group.

The Loser went to an all-boys school, Sally to an all-girls one. A clear memory the Loser has is of talking to Sally about his senior year prom (only seniors at these small private school had proms), which he did not attend because being a loser, he knew no girls, and never went to social events in high school. Sally told him she'd gone with a classmate of the Loser's named Frank.
Frank and the Loser had been childhood friends, largely because they lived in easy walking distance from one another. The boys were very different, though, and Frank and the Loser were merely acquaintances from third grade on. 
Sally said she found Frank terribly dull and didn't enjoy the evening.
"Then why did you go with him?" the Loser said.
Sally looked puzzled by the question. 
"He asked me," she said. "I'd have gone with you if you'd asked me."
The Loser was taken aback. He imagined himself at the prom, with Sally. He couldn't dance, but he'd sit around and talk with her, they'd make jokes, tell her how nice she looked. He'd introduce her to teachers and feel almost like a normal boy. 
She moved back and settled in the area after college. The Loser lived elsewhere for the next nine years. After he'd returned, he'd heard from a mutual friend that Sally hadn't married even though she'd wanted to very much. She kept her looks; the Loser saw her on television once as she was participating in a fund drive. She knew how to talk to men and had boyfriends in college who were invariably handsome, nice young men the Loser thought well of.
Although he never felt well enough about himself to get in touch with her, somehow the Loser always thought he'd see Sally again and perhaps even become friends.
It's too late now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

To his anonymous friend

The Complete and Total Loser got something his uninteresting and poorly written blog seldom gets: A comment. 
Here it is:

Dear B.,
I am young but like you. How are you certain that god does not exist?


The Loser answers with this:
Dear Young Anonymous person,
Thank you very much for your kind words. The Loser rarely hears others say they like him. Usually, people tolerate him but of course no one says that. (Have you ever put a recording device in a room with people you know in it, left the room, come back later and listened to it? The Loser has and he found it quite the learning experience. He ended up sorry that he did it. There are some things you're better off not knowing.)
The Loser is hesitant to discuss religious matters with you. We all reach our own conclusions in our own way, and the way the Loser decided there was no deity involved in the affairs of humans, animals, snowflake design or anything else are likely different in many ways from the way an estimated one billion other atheists drew their own conclusions. 
A saying you'll hear when methods of investigation are discussed is "Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence." That's a wise rule, but in some cases it doesn't pass muster. If, for example, you spend a lot of time trying to determine whether or not the Loser has ever been in Moscow and find sound explanations for every instance of his whereabouts and not one of them indicates a trip to Moscow, you can be ninety-nine percent sure that the Loser has never been to Moscow. (You can never be one hundred percent sure of anything, including that you and everyone you know are not merely figments of a remarkable being's dream, but the sane among us behave as though we are.)
The Loser is old and he envies you. You have access to a wealth of information at your fingertips to gather information on this topic with. Take advantage of that. But be sure to talk to real people, both believers and nonbelievers. A member of the clergy, teachers, your parents and relatives, friends. Listen to both sides. Do your own thinking, make up your own mind. One argument in favor you may hear is that without belief in a higher power that has a grand design and we participate in it, life is purposeless and subsequently meaningless. Don't fall for that one! The one doesn't follow the other.
A young person who hears the Loser's opinions on this may think his mind is closed on this matter. It's not. However, as the Loser is now in the end of his sixth decade on Earth and nothing has convinced him to date, it would take a good argument to convince him. 
The Loser wishes you well in your search.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The New Year, 2017

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II.
The Complete and Total Loser spent the holidays feeling alone and useless, as always. He got out of all but one family gathering, one on Christmas Day, during which he drank too much and said a few things he later wished he hadn't, but nothing damaging.
The Loser finds that as he ages and extends holiday greetings and New Year's wishes to people his age, he tells them he hopes the coming year will be a good one for them. He's always said a variation of that but now he's increasing aware that these new years for him and his peers—people in their fifties nearing their sixties—may well be full of little more than the death of elderly loved ones and increasing health problems for them.
Meanwhile, the Loser waits for the newsflash that will tell him that England's queen has died. While no fan of the Royal Family, the Loser nonetheless has always liked her and it will be sad to see someone who has always been there wave her final goodbye.
The new year, 2017, will be a bad one. The question is only, how bad?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher 10/21/1956 — 12/27/2016

Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher.
If she hadn't been born into Hollywood royalty, if she'd been born in a mid-sized city in Massachusetts or Ohio, Carrie Fisher's death would likely have been marked by a relative few. 
But the Complete and Total Loser thinks she would have probably been a stellar citizen and good parent. A local leader active in her community. At this point of her life she may have headed up her book club, and would choose challenging novels and have insights into them that would benefit her fellow members.
This sounds like faint praise, but the Loser means it to be the opposite.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The last to die

mother and baby in doctor's office
A mother and her baby wait in doctor's office.
The Complete and Total Loser's aunt died yesterday. It was not a surprise: she turned one hundred years old in September. She was the oldest of five siblings, the Loser's mother being the youngest, and the last to die.
Her death solidifies the Loser's standing as the older generation in his family, even though just one cousin is younger than he is. He thinks of the thoughts and speculations he had of his mother and father's generation when he was young (What was it like to be twenty when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor? What did they think the year 2000 would be like? What diseases did they worry about? What was it like to have only radio and print to tell you about the world?) and wonders what his nieces and nephews think of his own generation. 
Actually, is unlikely they think much of him at all. He never married, had children or even had a long-term relationship and never had an interesting job. There are more interesting and successful people in the Loser's family tree for them to contemplate.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Not here, not now

red fox hunting red squirrel
A red fox hunts a red squirrel in a suburban back yard.
The red fox in this photo is going for a red squirrel, which you can see on the tree. The photo sucks because it was shot through the glass of two doors with a telephoto lens by the Complete and Total Loser.
If the fox had caught the squirrel he'd have enjoyed a warm, tasty, raw bit of meat for his Thanksgiving Day dinner. But no. As expertly as he hunted, the squirrel decided—for reasons known only to him—to climb up the tree, out of reach of the fox which, after waiting fifteen seconds or so for the squirrel to descend closer to ground level, sauntered off.
red fox
A red fox learns what it's like to be a Complete and Total Loser.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Moderation

Volvo with pro Trump bumper stickers
In the Loser's day, you wouldn't have thought you'd see a Volvo with pro Trump bumper stickers.
The Complete and Total Loser has had a falling out with a friend over the recent election of Trump. The friend seems to think Nazi Germany is due a little over two months from now. The Loser disagrees, though he agrees that it will be a bad four years and he still has trouble with the phrase "President Trump."
He's already backed down on Obamacare, The Wall, the Muslim ban, and prosecuting Hillary Clinton. 
That was all in less than a week. 
By all means, fight the power, but calm down a little.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Buy lottery tickets

man buying lottery tickets from machine
A man buys lottery tickets from a machine in a Pennsylvania convenience store.
Buy lottery tickets. Not so many that you go broke, but buy them. You won't win, but buying them makes you think of winning. The Complete and Total Loser's guess is that anyone buying them these days will think of moving if he or she wins big. New Zealand's nice and their social structure is progressive. Also, it's about the healthiest country on earth—lots of people go to gyms and exercise regularly. They need more obese people like us Americans there to round things off. Maybe if there were more heavy people there they wouldn't have so many earthquakes. We fatties could weigh things down a bit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

All his fault

The National Enquirer used to fun. It was the original weekly tabloid for dumb people who believed in UFOs and Bigfoot. It'd have articles in it about people with tumors the size of Volkswagen Bugs, reunions of long-lost relatives and friends, what wholesome movie and TV stars said and did when intoxicated. Smart people would buy it for yuks.
National Enquirer cover
Most people who buy it can't even pronounce the word "Enquirer."

Now look at it. Catering to its base: Uneducated morons with no critical reasoning skills. It's not fun anymore, it's just mean-spirited and stupid.
The Complete and Total Loser voted for Clinton, by the way, which is probably why she lost.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dull happenings

The Complete and Total Loser has been in a long-term funk since mid summer. Blame the loss of the bird. Blame the constant physical pain. He sleeps too much and does nothing productive when awake. 
Boring notes on the past six weeks:
  • The Loser went to his aunt's 100th birthday party. The party was in Connecticut. She seemed well, considering, but as the Loser's brother put it, he's not making plans for her 101st.
  • The Loser had his annual physical in late August. His PSA number has risen substantially, up to 5.2. The Loser is all for doing nothing about it, should it turn out to be cancer, even though he's two years shy of turning sixty. Let it kill him. Two decades of no orgasms and incontinence? No. Not interested. He goes back in November for a retest.
  • On the last day of August, the Loser had a cortisone injection in his bad knee. His doctor referred him, saying that his wife goes to the same guy and gets an injection that lasts a year. The knee doctor said it would take 48 hours to take effect and sure enough, two days later the Loser's knee felt great. He thought he'd start swimming again, perhaps even bicycle. On the third day, however, it started to hurt again and now it feels as bad as ever.
  • The Loser will quit his crappy part-time retail job soon. He'll be dead of cancer in a few years anyway and he can't imagine working the upcoming full-time holiday schedule like he did last year.
  • Two nights ago after work, the Loser was standing around with a half dozen coworkers. The topic of snoring came up. "I have no idea if I snore or not because I've always lived alone," the Loser said. Everyone seemed sad.
  • Today, the trash haulers threw out the Loser's trashcan. He is baffled about this. It was a perfectly functional trashcan. Also, it had as much sentimental value to the Loser as a trashcan can; he'd bought it for his father, who died five years ago, because it had wheels and his father was wearing out the trashcans that didn't by dragging them up and down the driveway. Despite the wheels, the Loser's father dragged this one too and there was a hole in the bottom of it. This made the Loser love his father. This morning, as he took out the trash, the Loser used the wheels because it was very full and he thought about his father. Now the can is gone and there is one less thing around to make the Loser think of his father.
  • The Loser is reading the book Grit, by Angela Duckworth. There's a test by which you can measure your level of grit in the book, also easily accessible online. The Loser took the test and, unsurprisingly, learned that he has close to zero grit.