STUPIDITY REARS ITS UGLY HEAD – RICH PASCHALL

The View From Here, by Rich Paschall

Living Fearlessly

You have probably seen plenty of examples of this. There are those who need a haircut no matter what the risk. Some must have a party, no matter what stay at home orders have been issued. Others absolutely have to go to the beach, even if it is crowded. Those dying to get out and about don’t believe that they will be dying because they went out and about.

This week I saw two grade-school kids riding their bike down the street. They had no masks on. I did not recognize them as living nearby so perhaps they were just riding around the neighborhood. A day later I saw two different kids riding up and down the alley behind the house. They had masks but were not wearing them across their faces, just hooked around their ears and across their necks. They were probably told not to leave the house without them, so they didn’t. The two boys in the alley stopped to talk to an older girl. She did not have a mask on either. Recently I have been to two different convenience stores. As I went into one, a man was coming out sipping his coffee. He did not have a mask. A postal worker was buying a batch of Lotto tickets. She had no mask. As I was checking out, I mentioned to the checker that every single customer in that store did not have a mask. She and I were the only ones. A guy without a mask behind me in line got a piece of my mind. He did not say anything but he did back up a few steps. At another convenience store two young guys behind the counter were not wearing masks or gloves. I walked out.

I have seen the same sort of thing at the supermarket and the pharmacy. I tried to go to them in the first hour on a Tuesday or Thursday when it is Seniors only. Despite the signs on the doors, people enter who are not wearing masks. Some are not even Seniors.

You may have seen on the news, if you have the stomach to watch the news these days, that there are plenty of people out protesting for their right to congregate any way they wish. They even intimidate lawmakers by showing up at the state capital with automatic weapons. Many do not seem to think that any of their fellow protestors might have the coronavirus.

On our local Chicago news, we saw that business in neighboring Wisconsin had reopened. Despite bars and restaurants being encouraged to maintain social distancing, scenes from a crowded bar were broadcast. One of the people interviewed was a nurse from down here in hard-hit Cook County, Illinois. She has seen plenty of COVID-19 patients. Now she’s sorry she was interviewed at a bar.

Instant Karma

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead – John Lennon.

Perhaps you heard of the Virginia pastor who vowed to keep his church open unless he was in jail or in the hospital. He’s in the cemetery. He preached to a crowded church on March 22 and died on Easter of the virus. Parishioners and preachers have died of the virus because they thought they would be safe in a crowded church. An elderly priest died in Texas recently, but they seemed to dismiss this because he was old anyway. Some of his parishioners tested positive.

A Texas mom of two boys who declared the virus a “media hoax” died from it. So did an evangelical pastor who went to Mardi Gras. There are plenty of such cases. Some who contracted it have recovered after attending Mardi Gras, or a crowded party. Some didn’t.

Survivors of near-death experiences think we are moving too quickly to reopen businesses. “People don’t really understand how serious this is until they know somebody who’s going through it,” one survivor’s girlfriend claimed. I have seen enough of this type of interview on the news. In general, the survivor is very sorry for attending____________ (insert crowded event here).

In red counties that had strongly supported Trump, and have pushed to reopen businesses, the virus is on the rise. Four days after the Republican governor of Maryland started opening up businesses in the state, they had the largest number of positive tests for one day so far. Coincidence or karma?

Living In Fear

The sort of thing you see above in “Living Fearlessly” are the reasons that so many of us who are older or have suppressed immune systems live in fear. We can not count on going to the store and have all the patrons follow the rules. Some of us qualify to go to the store during the Senior hour, but that means nothing if the store is afraid to enforce the rules. I shop at stores that have large signs posted to wear masks, and certain hours are Seniors only, but it doesn’t matter.  If people are so willing to violate these rules about the store, we can probably guess that they are willing to break other rules too. Do we want to be in the store with them?

The lieutenant governor of Texas may believe that Seniors are willing to lay down their lives for the economy, but I have news for him. He can go out and take risks, but we don’t feel that way. We want to be around long enough to vote that sort of politician out of the political office or keep them from getting in.

I live in a two-flat house. My much younger neighbor upstairs had been very careful, wearing a mask and gloves to the stores. He was always cleaning and sanitizing. He gave me a special mask around Christmas time that not only covers nose and mouth but ears too. We had some bad winters in the past. I use it a lot now.

He has contracted the virus. He’s had girlfriends over to spend the night. There is more than one, I think. He probably trusted they were just as safe as he was otherwise. He was obviously wrong. Now he is sick. We have a common front hall and front door, common basement area with a common washer and dryer. We could touch a lot of the same surfaces in a day. He is not intentionally trying to kill off his older neighbors. Sometimes people just don’t think about it until it is too late.

Instant Karma Sources: “VIRGINIA PASTOR DIES FROM COVID-19… 3 Weeks After Holding Packed Service,” TMZ, tmz.com April 13, 2020.
Parishioner of Louisiana Church That Defied Virus Lockdown Dies From COVID-19, But Pastor Claims It’s a Lie,” by Rachel Olding, Daily Best, thedailybeast.com April 17, 2020.
Texas church cancels masses following the death of priest possibly from coronavirus,” by Meredith Deliso, ABC News, abcnews.go.com May 18, 2020.
Family Of COVID-19 Victim Who Criticized ‘Hysteria’ Around Virus Faces Online Attacks,” by Kelly McEvers, WBEZ 91.5, npr.com May 15, 2020.
Texas woman claimed COVID-19 is a media hoax & can be stopped by “faith.” Days later she died.” by Bil Browning, LGBTQNation, lgbtqnation.com April 7, 2020.
After enduring ventilators, body aches, fever, coronavirus survivors say states shouldn’t be reopening.” by Rick Jervis and Kameel Stanley, USA Today, usatoday.com May 18, 2020.
COVID-19 continues spreading into counties with strong Trump support,” by William H. Frey, Brookings, brookings.edu May 20, 2020.
Maryland Reports Largest Rise Yet In Coronavirus Cases 4 Days After Reopening,” by Bill Chappell, WBEZ 91.5, npr.com May 19, 2020.
See also: “Absolutely No Absolute Rights,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com April 8, 2020.

KIDS SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS – Marilyn Armstrong

My kid will turn 51 in May, but he still says the darnedest things.

“Why,” he asked me, “When I was a kid didn’t you tell me getting old was going to be such a bummer?”

“Because we didn’t know. We weren’t old yet. What we also didn’t tell you was that you were going to get a job and no matter how tired of it you got, you’d have to keep working until you got old. We don’t tell kids that because if we did, they’d never get out of bed in the morning.”

He was only three

It’s not that sometimes you get lucky and you get a job you love. I had some high times with my career when it was great. Garry had a lot of great years when he felt he was on top of the world. But the thing is, even the great job lasts a lot longer than your best years. Even great jobs get to a point where you are tired and you really want to stop. Your job slogs on even when you are weary, worn out, not feeling well. When your back hurts, you’ve got a migraine, and realize you still have to work.

And then he turned 50

And, as my son pointed out, it’s even worse when you’re the boss because you can’t call in sick. You are the one to whom everyone else calls in sick. I pointed out that it’s even worse when not only are you the boss, but it’s your own company and you don’t give sick days.

You just can’t tell your kids this stuff. They would find it demoralizing. And they might give up before they even try to find a profession which makes them happy. Nonetheless, I wish I’d known getting old would be such a bummer. I might have been better prepared when it showed up.

RUMORS TO THE CONTRARY NOTWITHSTANDING, I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

You’re probably shocked to know that there is another opinion other than mine which might be worth hearing. It turns out, I’m imperfect. I hate to admit it, but there it is. Life marches on but one must consider the alternative should life fail to march on.

CONVERSATION 1: THE THERMOSTAT

My thermostat no longer works. It started when I finally reached menopause but didn’t end there. Although my husband is a man and therefore not subject to the full Monte of mind and body altering experiences this special Time of Life engenders, he seems to have a broken thermostat too. It’s just another of the many fascinating things that happen as we age. Neither of us is sure if it’s hot, cold — or us.

“Is it hot or is it me?”

“It’s hot.”

“Oh, good. I’ll turn on the fan.”

The other version:

“Is it hot or is it me?”

“It’s not hot. It’s a bit chilly.”

“Maybe it’s hot and you are chilly.”

“Possibly, but you asked. All I can tell you is what I feel.”

“I’m turning on the fan.”

“I’m putting on a sweatshirt.”

You can see how important it is to get a second opinion.

CONVERSATION 2: WHAT?

“What did he say?”

“What did who say?”

“The guy, the one with the hat.”

“The guy on the left?”

“No, he’s not there anymore. The one who had the gun. Before.”

“They all have guns.”

“Oh, never mind.”

Aside from these minor details, I know everything. Okay, nearly everything. Ask my husband. He will say, “She knows everything.” And that is an official second opinion.

EITHER, OR, AND WHATEVER by Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Either, Or, and Whatever

I don’t want to complain. Okay, I really do want to complain.

I was just beginning to feel a little optimistic about the house. We got the rotting door removed the side of the house. It’s a lot warmer without the draft. The front door has been insulated, finished and if we get it painted, it’ll be perfect. We put up a set of gutters which, with a little luck, will help our roof survive.

Home. With snow.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a banging sound and I could never figure out where it was coming from. I thought it was outside, that the drain pipes from the gutter were banging against the house.

It turned out to be the boiler. It was replaced was in 2009. Which turns out to have been 10 years ago. Ten years?

2009 was ten years ago? How did THAT happen? I calculated last night that our boiler was 12 years old when we bought this house in 2000. Which meant that our boiler is 31 years old. We’ve been pretty good about getting it serviced regularly. The parts we’ve replaced have all been parts that normally need replacement. Sort of like the boiler version of changing the oil, replacing brakes, tires, and windshield wipers.

Thirty-one years for this boiler is a lot. About 10 years longer than this system was supposed to work, since it was an inexpensive unit. While I was busy congratulating myself on having somehow, with the grace, love, and caring of friends, the boiler was quietly aging.

In addition to all the other indignities of getting old, you get to outlive your “stuff.” Your new roof gets old.

It’s not fair! I still maintain that one roof is the only roof you should ever need. You shouldn’t need three front doors or four hot water heaters. The shed shouldn’t rot. The Hollyhocks shouldn’t die. The well shouldn’t need major repairs. Having fixed the septic system, it should survive us.

Whatever deities you may worship, Murphy’s Law rules them all. How in the world can I save up five or six thousand dollars for a new boiler?

Okay. I’ve complained enough for one day. Maybe for an entire month or two. And there really is no way to live without central heating in this climate. I’d love to say we’re going to save up the money but there are still other things that need fixing. I guess something will work out.

Either this, that, or some other thing will happen. I have to believe. It’s the only option I have.

I REGRET NOTHING – Rich Paschall

We all have regrets, that’s for sure.  You can not lead a life without them.  You may regret your first stumble and fall — if you remember it.  You may regret dropping that toy or that cell phone.  You may regret letting go of the balloon or a house that rose dramatically in value right after you sold it.  You may regret throwing away food, furniture, or clothing.  But why cry over that?

As you grow, I guess there are plenty of things to regret.  How about the day you did not do your homework?  How about the time you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar, literally or figuratively?  How about the time you were grounded for not doing _________ (fill in the blank).

School years can be filled with regrets.  Many of them will actually have to do with getting caught, rather than what you did.  Of course, if you fell off old man Jones’ garage and broke your arm, you will probably regret that.  If you picked on someone smaller and got your butt kicked, you probably regret that too.

When you could not work up the nerve to ask Sally or Janie or Billy to the prom, you may regret it years later.  This especially stings if you find out the person you wished to ask, liked you too and was hoping you would ask him or her out.  There are a lot of friendships, especially at the high school level, they may have developed into something, if only you had the courage to move forward.

This is especially tough for gay boys and girls who feel they may be the only gay ones in their class and are afraid to approach anyone on this topic.  Recently, I learned a high school classmate was gay so I went back to look at his yearbook picture.  I wanted to see if he was the person I remembered.  He was smart, handsome — someone I would not have thought I could approach.

Adult life may be filled with a series of sorrows over decisions made.  Should you have gone to college?  If you went, did you pick the right school?  The right major?  It is easy to spend time at the fraternity parties and local bars.  Will you later wonder if studying harder would have made a difference in later life?

There was a good friend of mine through elementary and high school who also went on to the same University as me.  We took many of the same classes.  We frequently studied together.  Many times, our studies started with a trip to a deep-dish pizza place where we would order pizza and pitchers of beer.  Since deep dish pizza took a long time to make, we might get 30 to 40 minutes of studying done before the pizza was delivered.  After that, it was just pizza and beer.  I guess I don’t regret this one too much.

After college, I cultivated many groups of friends.  A lot of these friendships revolved around hanging out local bars watching sports and drinking beer.  In later years, it might involve karaoke.  We enjoyed our nights.  As I look back on those years, I am not sure I remember who came along or what occasions were special.  They were just nights out. It was more about killing time than fulfillment.

Then, of course, it would be easy to regret all the money we spent in these various places.  Some nights, we poured money over the bar just as fast as they poured drinks into our glasses.  Buying drinks for others, especially if they did not have a lot of cash, seemed like a great idea.  They probably do not remember me, just as much as I do not remember them.

dead leaves

My mother spent a lot of time in the local lounges, one in particular in my lifetime.  The time spent took up more than 50-years of her life and all of her spare money.  At these places, I am convinced she felt she made a number of deep friendships.  It was important to get to these places on Friday or Saturday night to see her “friends.”

When she had a stroke at 73, a couple came to see her once or sent a card.  After the first few weeks, over the next 16 years, we never saw any of these people.  I wonder if she regretted the time spent at the lounge. I will never know.

If you married the wrong person, you may have deep regrets. If you joined with several incompatible partners, you could pile up many regrets. Falling out with family members always leaves plenty of regrets, even when there’s nothing to be done about it. Friendships and marriages are often chosen in haste. They need to be corrected and forgiven (at least forgiving yourself) rather than regretted.

Then, there’s Edith Piaf:

The thing about regrets? There’s nothing to be gained from them. You should learn from mistakes, but regrets aren’t worth anything. You can’t get back time lost. You can’t get back money spent.  You can’t undo a painful history. There’s nothing to be gained from dwelling on mistakes.

Take the lesson. Move forward. Dump the regrets and find a more positive approach to life.


Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course

Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.

Don’t look at yesterday when today encourages you to look ahead. You can never change what already happened. Maybe you don’t really want to. Everything you’ve done — good and bad — is part of you.

That’s true too, but not necessarily the healthiest way to go.

OLD ACQUAINTANCES – Garry Armstrong

We meet once a month.

I slug the Google calendar with “Ol’ Farts Luncheon” to schedule the event, time, and location.  We usually meet at 12:30 pm and wrap maybe two hours later. It’s an event full of old war stories and a few well-worn memories as we eventually go our separate ways.

Our group is mostly retired broadcast news people — predominantly cameramen as well as a reporter or two, and a few newspaper folks.  We all used to cover the mean streets of Boston, from the last days of non-electric typewriters and film to current day electronic media. We’ve all been around from old Remingtons to mini-cameras emitting images that air instantly while watching the rise of social media and purported news writers who post stories that are raw. Unchecked for truth or validity.


Our friendships date back half a century or more. Once, we were the young Turks, ambitious and breathing fire to bring fresh air and relevance to television news we thought was maybe too stiff and formal.  The old guard regarded us with suspicion,  annoyance and I suspect, a little envy because they’d been the same way a mere few decades earlier.

We’ve shared triumphs, tragedies, marriages, divorces, births, and deaths. Lately, we’re bonded by attending too many funerals of people who used to attend our lunches. We know that sense of mortality we so casually dismissed to the old guard in earlier years.  Now, we are the old guard.

It’s interesting to follow the thread of how our lives have changed in retirement,  away from the daily spotlight of events on the center stage of public life.


A relatively small gathering for our latest luncheon.  Nine very mature gents around the big table. Seven of these fellows are retired (or semi-retired) cameramen, video technicians, van maintenance, and uplink pros.  All have worked at least 40 years in the TV news biz.  That’s at least 280 years which is a pretty a conservative tally — untold days, nights, weeks, months and years. Collectively, we’ve covered just about all the major news events over the past half-century.

Although Boston-based, we’ve followed stories around the world.  We were there when the Vietnam War became an awkward part of history, when Watergate brought down a president, and when the Berlin Wall tumbled. We were there when Three Mile Island became a national scare,  when sexual abuse scandals ripped through the Catholic Church (including a prominent local Archbishop), and when court-ordered school desegregation put Boston in a very uncomfortable international spotlight.

All of us were there for these events that, like a thousand tiny paper cuts changed our world, our neighborhood, and how we view ourselves.  Their cameras delivered images that have become part of history.  History not often covered in textbooks — paper or electronic.

Most of these unassuming fellows have taken home multiple Emmys, Pulitzer Prizes, Murrow Awards and other honors recognizing their bodies of work, most of which they have done their work in relative anonymity.


One suit, with typical executive lack of respect, called them “button pushers”.  That suit’s tenure was relatively brief.  Ironically,  we worked for many suits who simply did not respect the quality of the work or dangers faced by pros “just doing their job.”

Preserving anonymity, one of my colleagues dealt appropriately with a suit who endangered all the lives of techs and talent in a TV remote van.  The suit, in the middle of a thunderstorm with huge bolts of lightning, insisted the signal rod be kept upright so the van could transmit a news report.  If the exec’s order had been followed, there was an excellent chance that lightning would blow up the truck with everyone inside.

So one of these fellas ignored the suit’s order, suggesting that lives were in jeopardy and, perhaps the suit would like to come and put up the rod himself.  Newsroom applause drowned out the suit’s expletives as he stomped back to his corner office.

Another of these “gents” braved jail time with his reporter rather than reveal a source for a high-level story.  Like some of the Pols on the Impeachment Inquiry, the suit didn’t grasp the meaning of “confidential source’.’  He didn’t comprehend that the source and his family’s lives would be in jeopardy if he was identified.

So “the button pusher” and his reporter opted out for adjoining jail cells rather than yield to high pressure from yet another suit who probably should’ve been working at a car wash.  The suits and the company lawyers blinked.

There are multiple, similar stories around this table. I was around for many of them.  Often, I hid behind them as they took the brunt of self-serving, second-guessing suits who seemed oblivious to the complicated life on the streets.


It bears repetition that these under-appreciated news people — reporters without microphones — are responsible for most of the hardware I’ve taken home.  I’ve always felt obligated amid the warm applause at award ceremonies to thank the folks behind the cameras for cleaning me up, straightening me out, and making sure we always had the full story.

It’s a joy to spend time with them.

REGRETS, I’VE HAD A FEW – Rich Paschall

But Then Again, Why Mention?

by Rich Paschall

We all have regrets, that’s for sure.  You can not lead a life without them.  You may regret that first stumble and fall, if you remember it at all.  You may regret dropping that toy.  You may regret letting go of that balloon.  You may regret throwing food on the floor.  You may also regret spilling the milk, but why cry over that?

As you grow, I guess there are plenty of things to regret.  How about the day you did not do your homework?  How about the time you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar, literally or figuratively?  How about the time you were grounded for not doing _________ (fill in the blank).

School years can be filled with regrets.  Many of them will actually have to do with getting caught, rather than what you did.  Of course, if you fell off old man Jones’ garage and broke your arm, you will probably regret that.  If you picked on someone smaller and got your butt kicked, you probably regret that too.

When you could not work up the nerve to ask Sally or Janie or Billy to the prom, you may regret it years later.  This especially stings if you find out the person you wished to ask, liked you too and was hoping you would ask him or her out.  There are a lot of friendships, especially at the high school level, that may have developed into something, if only you had the courage to move forward.

This is especially tough for gay boys and girls who feel they may be the only gay ones in their class and are afraid to approach anyone on this topic.  Recently, I learned a high school classmate was gay so I went back to look at his yearbook picture.  I wanted to see if he was the person I remembered.  He was smart and handsome and someone I would not have thought I could approach.

Adult life may be filled with a series of sorrows over decisions made.  Should you have gone to college?  If you went, did you pick the right school?  The right major?  It is easy to spend time at the fraternity parties and local bars.  Will you later wonder if studying harder would have made a difference in later life?

There was a good friend of mine through elementary and high school who also went on to the same University with me.  We took many of the same classes, not all.  We frequently studied together.  Sometimes, OK many times, our studies started with a trip to a deep dish pizza place where we would order pizza and pitchers of beer.  Since deep dish pizza took a long time to make, we might get 30 to 40 minutes of studying in before the pizza arrived.  After that, it was just pizza and beer.  I guess I do not regret this one too much.

After college I cultivated many groups of friends.  A lot of these friendships revolved around local bars to watch sports and drink beer.  In later years it might involve karaoke too.  We loved our nights out, at least we thought we did.  As I look back on those years, I am not sure I remember who came along or what occasions we enjoyed most.  They were just nights out, killing time.

Then, of course, it would be easy to regret all the money we spent at these various places.  Some nights, we poured money over the bar just as fast as they poured drinks into our glasses.  Buying drinks for others, especially if they did not have a lot of cash, seemed like a great idea.  They probably do not remember me, just as much as I do not remember them.

My mother spent a lot of time in the local lounges, one in particular in my lifetime.  The time spent took up more than 50 years of her life and all of her spare money.  At these places, I am convinced she felt she made a number of deep friendships.  It was important to get to these places on Friday or Saturday night to see her “friends.”  When she had a stroke at 73, a couple came to see her once or sent a card.  After the first few weeks, we never saw any of these people again over the next 16 years.  I did wonder if she regretted any of the time spent at the Lounge.  In her case, I just don’t know.

dead leaves

If you married the wrong person, you may have deep regrets. If you married several wrong people, I guess it could be a lot of regrets. Friendships and marriages are sometimes chosen in haste. They need to be corrected rather than regretted.

The thing about regrets? There’s nothing to be gained from them. You should learn from mistakes, but regrets aren’t worth anything. You can’t get back time lost. You can’t get back money spent.  You can’t undo painful history. There’s nothing to be gained from dwelling on mistakes. Take the lesson. Move forward. Skip the regrets.

Don’t look at yesterday when today offers you the opportunity to look forward. You can’t change what happened. Maybe you don’t really want to. Everything you’ve done — good and bad — is part of you.

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.