Monday, September 1, 2014

The Godmother

The Complete and Total Loser bumped into his godmother the other day while shopping at a supermarket he doesn't usually go to. 
A lovely woman, she was a childhood friend of the Loser's mother, who died nearly three years ago after some years of decrepitude. The Loser's godmother is as lively as ever at 82, clear-eyed, energetic, optimistic and fun. It surprises the Loser when he meets people like this; he tends to define people that age in terms of his mother.
His mother's friends sometimes had pasts the Loser never heard about until they died. The woman pictured, for
This woman rode Seabiscuit when she was a girl.
example. Here, she's on a New Jersey beach (Avalon) in 1963 or so. Another longtime friend of the Loser's mother, he always liked her and was friends in childhood with her son. The Loser attended her funeral a decade ago and read in a handout that among other interesting things she had done, she had, as a child, frequently ridden a retired racehorse. That racehorse was Seabiscuit.

Seabiscuit.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Too thin?

The Complete and Total Loser had coffee with a young ex-coworker today. The two hadn't seen each other for a little over a week. She said he looked too thin.
He is not. His face is thinning with age and his muscles are deteriorating now that he's in the second half of his fifties, but the Loser gets on his scale often and knows that his weight is what it's been for years: Ten pounds heavier than it should be.
He is, however, taking good care of himself as he always does when he's unemployed. He exercises regularly, eats very little meat of any kind—smoothies for breakfast, salads for dinner all summer—and hasn't had any alcohol for a month now. He sleeps a lot, probably too much. But he's healthy.
Seventy percent of Americans are overweight. Seventy percent! Go where good produce is being sold and you'll see a higher percentage of thin, healthy people.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shutting up

Last week, while the Complete and Total Loser's car was in the repair shop getting minor damage repaired, the Loser went three days and seven hours without saying a single word to anyone. No phone calls, no "Thanks" to cashiers. Nothing. He spoke to the koi in the little pond in the backyard, but that doesn't count. Even if they were sentient, they wouldn't be able to hear him. 
The only thing that troubles the Loser about this is that it doesn't trouble him in the least, and he knows that's unnatural.
People yakkity yak a streak and waste your time of day
But Mister Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Loser of the Week 8/17-8/23

The Loser of the Week Award this week goes to anyone who believes things like the below, which is from Yahoo!'s site. It's a list of the old saws about drinking coffee, volunteering, and having great sex with a few current things tossed in, like not sitting too long. 
Are you going to listen to someone who misspells "benefiting"?

1. Run for five minutes a day. That’s it. Just five minutes. In a large study of 55,137 adults, runners lived, on average, three years longer than non-runners. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running: Those who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week.

2. Drink coffee. An April 2014 review in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at 20 studies covering nearly 974,000 people. The overall findings came out in favor of java: Drinking coffee—especially three or more cups a day—was associated with lower risk of death by any cause. And now we know that if you do not have headaches, abnormal heartbeats, anxiety, or gastric upset from a cup of coffee, you are “genetically a fast metabolizer.” Fast metabolizers get all benefits from coffee, while slow metabolizers get all side effects.

3. Take responsibility. Research from the 1970s shows that it’s never too late to take responsibility for your own health and well-being. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that nursing home residents who took on responsibility—for instance, caring for a plant or choosing the flick for movie night—lived longer than those who relied on staff to make their decisions for them.

4. Volunteer. It’s estimated that 27 percent of Americans volunteer—and they may get back as much as they give. A review of multiple studies found that people who volunteer have a 20 percent reduction in mortality, plus lower levels of depression, higher life satisfaction and generally enhanced well-being. The researchers determined that the quality of life enhancements hinged on volunteers feeling like they’re benefitting emotionally from the work.

5. Have great sex. Duke University research spanning 25 years found that one of the most significant predictors of longevity for women was how much they enjoyed sex over the course of their lives. That, along with high health satisfaction and good physical function, helped add 23 years to women’s lives, on average.

6. Look on the not-so-bright side sometimes. A positive attitude is a powerful tool in your wellness arsenal, but so is a little healthy pessimism. People who are more realistic—that is, less idealistic—about their lives are more cautious, more prepared for difficulty and they tend to live longer than their optimistic peers.

7. Stand up! In a May 2014 study, researchers analyzed data from the Canada Fitness Survey and found that, for people who don’t exercise regularly, more time spent standing was linked with lower mortality from cardiovascular disease and death from “other causes” in a linear fashion. In other words, more standing, less dying.

There are people all over the world, especially in Asia, who sit for eighteen hours a day meditating and live long, healthy lives.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Loser origins

The Complete and Total Loser is at last going through old stuff in the house, thanks to being laid off last month and having no real prospects. Ninety-nine percent of what he's finding about himself is depressing. Things like evaluations by high school teachers (the Loser graduated in 1977) that say things like, "[The Loser] shows promise, but unfortunately seems unwilling to do the preparation needed to truly master the subject matter." 
Yep. That's him all right.
More disheartening is direct evidence of what the Loser himself did, like the picture below. The Loser took it on a rainy day in June of 1975. He didn't know the girl or boy in the picture. Creepy? You bet. Why did he take it? The first answer is simple perversion; the Loser was a creep even then. The more complicated answer is that the Loser knew no girls then and wouldn't for another two years, when he went to a coed college. His classmates, all boys. His teachers, all men. His brothers, all ... 
Somehow, when the Loser took pictures like this (this is not the only one but the only one he didn't throw away years ago) he felt like he was included, even if for just 1/125 of a second.

Who are they? Where are they now? Who knows?

The Loser remembers this day, incidentally. He was in a blue Maverick driven by his childhood friend who rarely did much together by this time but were still neighbors. The two had gone to a small hospital to donate a pint of blood (or plasma, if the type weren't a match) to a girl neither had met who had Aplastic anemia. Many high school kids were doing the same as the girl was popular and from a locally prominent family. When the Loser and his friend got in the elevator to go the third floor, a doctor rushed in. The Loser's friend pushed the button for the third floor. The doctor tried to stop him but it was too late. Later that day, the Loser learned that the girl had died that afternoon. She was sixteen years old. Given the size of the hospital and the timing, it was probable that the doctor was hurrying to her bedside.
The Loser never found out if the blood went to the girl in her dying moments or to someone else.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Surprised?

The Complete and Total Loser hasn't had any alcohol for over two weeks now. He is eating lots of fruit and vegetables, not eating bread or sweets, avoids chips and other salty snacks, not eating meat, sleeping well and exercising regularly. 
If it weren't for not having a job, family or anyone in his life who cared about him as he grows old, his life would be pretty good.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Loser on the Beach

This is the Complete and Total Loser on a beach in Avalon, New Jersey. The year was 1965 and the Loser cast is from the second of the four leg surgeries he had because of a rare bone disease only complete and total losers get. He doesn't remember being on the beach then and getting sand in a cast must have been a bitch. It's nice that his parents took him to the shore despite his condition.
The Loser is perhaps hoping that the tide is going out.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Loser of the Week Award, 8/10--8/16

This week the Complete and Total Loser gives his Loser of the Week to Harry S. Dent Jr., president of the H.S. Dent Foundation. The Loser came across a audio version of The Great Depression Ahead, a book he wrote in 2009 in the dollar bin at his local public library. 
Harry S. Dent, loser.

Dent's predictions were:
  • Stock prices start to crash again between mid-to-late 2009 into late 2010, and likely finally bottom around mid 2012--between Dow 3,800 and 4,500.
  • The economy enters a deeper depression between mid 2010 and early 2011, likely extending off and on into late 2012 or mid 2013.
  • Asian markets may bottom by late 2010, along with health care, and be the first great buy opportunities in stocks.
All wrong. Keep up the good work, Harry!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nonsense about the moon

There are those who still think a full moon causes odd behavior. Rubbish, of course. First off, the moon is always "full" whether or not it's at an angle which reflects a maximum amount of light from it to Earth. Hell, it's even full during the day! It's all there, with the same tug of gravity. 
Second, there is no weird quality to the reflected light of the moon that drives sane people mad. The only correlation the Complete and Total Loser's ever read of has been that when the moon is bright, people outdoors feel a little friskier because they can see better, so they'll go charging over lawns, skinny dip, spend more time outside and start fistfights. 
In the Loser's part of the world summer is much cooler than usual. It's mid-August, but it feels like New England around Labor Day. And though the Loser is in the polluted Northeast, the skies have been clear.
This is a picture of the moon the Loser took last night. Clearly, it is made of cheese.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Philology

Every day the Complete and Total Loser gets a word a day from dictionary.com. There will be several days in a row when the words are simple ones, but then there will be many days when they're words he's never heard in his life. Words like taradiddle, rident, garboil, and adret. His spellchecker flags these words.
Today's word is philology and its designation as "obsolete" made the Loser shake his head sadly and smile.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to spot idiots right now

Idiots are easy to spot. They will be the ones who, with the death of Lauren Bacall today so soon after the suicide of Robin Williams, will say, "Bad things come in threes. I wonder who's next?"
Yes, that's right. There are still people in the world dumb enough to believe that there's a mysterious, invisible force that will now find a well-known person to kill because two well-know people have recently died. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shields up

When something like this happens, the death of a well-known comedian, the Complete and Total Loser has to be careful of what he looks at on the internet. 
Too many mean people will use the chance to disparage the deceased. Internet tough guys. In this case, the Loser counts himself among those who often tired of Williams's standard style of humor, but the man seemed like a decent one and he had a wife and children. Kindness is called for or, failing that, silence.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Goodbye, Klimt

As the zero regular readers of the Complete and Total Loser know, the Loser has a no-pets/no-people policy toward life. He's bad with both and doesn't cope well with loss. 
The Loser has said, however, that he may get a puppy or a kitten when he's eighty-five years old or diagnosed with a terminal illness that will kill him within a decade, a more likely scenario.
Yesterday, a friend of the Loser put her 19-year-old cat to sleep. She had named him Klimt, after the artist. He was a good cat. It will always amaze the Loser how a brain that would fit in a tablespoon can have an entire personality and enough survival skills to enable a naked, small creature to survive outdoors in all kinds of weather. 
So long, Klimt.
Klimt the cat lounges on a carpeted floor in 2011.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Unemployed Men

Yesterday, Thursday, the Complete and Total Loser went to the service station a friend a friend had dropped his car off at for its annual state inspection.
The two ate breakfast in a diner and the friend talked about family events since his mother died a few weeks ago. The Loser and his friend were laid off from the same job just before that. 
They joked about how it's been days since either had been up and about at that hour. They went to various stores and looked for Blu-ray discs that were on sale. They went to a mall and strolled with mothers, old people, and kids off for the summer. Around noon, they went to a coffee shop and talked about the ins and outs of filing for unemployment compensation and how to keep records of the jobs for which you've applied. 
It's all still restful, the Loser's time off, and his friend is grateful to have days to can sell things and figure out how to settle his mother's estate. 
In time, days of meandering will become soul-crushing. The Loser knows this, and dreads the future even while he's trying to get his own business going and remaining positive about it.
Three boys use coin-operated massage chairs to take a break from a busy day at a shopping mall.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Car Accident

The Complete and Total Loser was just in a car accident. Very minor, in a parking lot. Her fault, of course. The Loser was waiting for a car to back out to get its space and she backed into me, despite my honking the horn and shouting. "I have four kids in the car," she said, after the Loser said, "What were you, on a cell phone?" She apologized but the Loser was still mad. 
Big SUV, so of course looking out the back wouldn't have mattered (don't they all have cameras back there now?) but all she had to do would be to look out the side mirror and there was the Loser. Idiot. 
Not to judge, but the four times the Loser has been in accidents, they've all been the other person's fault and the other person was a woman. But not to judge. 
Cracked driver's side mirror housing, scratch on door. Sore knuckle on left hand from punching her car from driver's seat.