Out Shopping

Get ready for an old man rant. That’s how it sounds in retrospect. Let it fly.

“Let’s go shopping,” my wife said. “Plan a day when we go out so I can get new exercise clothes. I want to go to my exercise class in person on April first, and I’d like to do it in something other than the clothes I was wearing two years ago.”

Yes, I agreed, because I knew what she was talking about. We’ve been strong isolationists, social distancing, zooming, vaccinated, masking, almost living like recluses. Well, recluses who have television and streaming services, computers, telephones, and safe friend pods. Maybe not quite recluses. Maybe, that’s an exaggeration. Maybe.

But we went through this before, where mandates were lifted, places partially opened. We took advantage of that. Our concern is that there will be some sort of new worrying spike and mandates and shutdowns will roll in anew. So we went out shopping and ate in a restaurant. Masks were worn while shopping. We wore masks until we were seated in our isolated, plastic walled table at the restaurant. We went early, to avoid crowds, but risks remain. The masked were the minority by far.

It’s been a while since I went shopping. I think it’s been a year. I saw some blue jeans. Levi’s. I thought, hey, they’re nice. Maybe I’ll buy a pair of denim pantaloons. The price stopped me: $69.50. For jeans? Off the shelf jeans? Levi’s? I remember when they were the jeans of the poor and downtrodden. And that at J.C. Penney’s.

Looking at shoes, I was appalled about how ugly and clunky men’s shoes have become during the pandemic. Lot of red, white, and blue stuff, too. I thought, I’ll have to watch people, see how many are actually wearing these. I suppose I’ll need to focus on the young, those who have not yet counted past forty years.

Wrigley’s gums come in Peppermint ‘Cobalt’ and Spearmint ‘Rain’. WTF? I read their ingredients: they looked like gum with a new name.

My superpower held solid, so I managed to find the worst checkout line possible at Target. It’s good to know that I can depend on that power. I perused magazines at hand. Know how much a magazine costs? $12.99 USD. What? Why, that’s how much a book used to cost. Now, of course, a book is $26.00 for a hardback, $16.00 for a softback. That’s why I buy used books or go to the library. Of course, many used books are now over $10.00

Then there was my beer: $7.25 for 16 ounces of Blue Moon. My entree was $11.99. My drink was over 50% of the price of my meal. That’s frigging stunning. They asked me if I wanted a 22 oz beer, but that would’ve probably topped my credit card’s limit. It only goes into five digits.

I guess it was all a shocker. I’ve seen food prices. We laughed about paying $50 at grocery stores and walking out with two light bags. Filling the gas tank on the Mazda was $45.

Stunning. I feel for the people on the edge. I remember when I had people working for me in the military thirty years ago, and the cost of childcare. It basically almost equaled those young people’s take home pay. I hear it’s become worse. Looking at the small sampling which I experienced, I believe it.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Today is Wednesday, March 23, 2022. I’m still processing my friend’s death yesterday, Mike. It’s remote and abstract to me at this point, astonishing and bewildering. My neurons follow paths for what it must be like in Ukraine as people lose their friends and loved ones suddenly to gunfire and explosion. That life is so treasured to us, that people’s deaths leave such gaping holes, that we work so hard on medicine and health, exercising and dieting to prevent sickness and death, and then that humans kill one another for bizarre fucking reasons when other avenues of co-existence are available, renders me to sighs and head shaking.

A faded azure sky embraces the sun. Full spring is in effect. Sunrise came at 7:09 AM and sunset will take at 7:26 PM. It’s 56 degrees F right now, on its way to a 68 F high. Should be a lovely day.

My beer group is meeting tonight. Mike was a large part of that. Plans had been made for me to hand off a book that was loaned to me, giving it to Mike because he was visiting with the book’s owner. Now, change.

Meanwhile sick cat steadily declines. Eating is next to impossible for him due to tumors. I have the back door open, and he made his way out to sit in the sunshine on the patio. Papi has made a solid recovery. I had the door open yesterday afternoon, and that boy galloped in and out, tail up, playing hide and seek with me. Tucker is solidly recovered, too, reclaiming his space on the bed by my head last night, talking to me this morning about his food and drink requirements, and eating with gusto.

My cheeky neurons are playing Del Shannon’s “Runaway” from 1961 in the morning mental music stream. I was five when it came out, but it was a big hit and part of the AM rock and roll rotation for years.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask as needed, and get the vax.

Quasi-Military Dream

I dreamed that I was in a class, being taught quality management and statistical process control. I’m familiar with these things as I was taught them in the military as part of my career’s final leg, becoming the Quality Air Force Advisor to my unit commander, while I was teaching others, and helping units and groups with QAF initiatives. Although QAF is considered a failure because it became abused and misunderstood, my base achieved impressive success with instituting changes. Or maybe I just want to remember it through rosy glasses. Either way, I received multiple accolades and wide recognition for that stuff.

Taking the course in the dream, I became amused, because I was intimate with the subject. I was the age that I really was when I did those things, a quarter century past. The instructor said that since I seemed to know the material, why don’t I do a presentation in the next class? So I prepared for it, developing slides. As I did, my dream self remembered the real details, a fascinating process to watch. I told the other students that this is about PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Adjust, and showed them the cycles, and how people can naturally fit them into their lives and their organizations, and how creating organization and a personal vision can work with PDCA to improve your situation. As with everything, mindfulness, balance, and discipline are needed.

It all went well. I think the dream was a subconscious exertion of conscious wishes to be part of a better time for me personally, when I was surer of the world, who I was, and where I was going.

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