I was standing next to the bed. Blinking. Rapidly. Garry looked at me. I must have appeared to be in pain or something because he said: “Are you okay?”


“Yes,” I said, blinking and frowning. “I was putting the gunk on my rash? So after that, I washed my hands. I must not have washed them enough, because I think I touched my eyes and now my eyes are burning. I suppose I got some of the gunk in my eyes.”

By then, I was trying to rub my eyes with the back of my wrists since apparently my fingers were not nearly clean enough.

Garry started to laugh. Then I started to laugh. We both kept laughing.

“One thing always leads to another,” I cackled.

He went back to watching the movie. I found the eye drops. Everything is hilarious. Of course, I suppose it could all be tragic and dramatic.

It’s a matter of perspective.


Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”

Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.

Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college  in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or a life worth living. I knew it in the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?


The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like a rock. Unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone can find out about our misdeeds, even those from Kindergarten. Kind of like Wikileaks for every living human being. What an appalling thought!

All anyone anywhere needs to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! Every evil we have done through our life will be revealed.

So, here’s the deal.

Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s hundreds of million of records to keep on file for eternity. Maybe trillions, zillions or gazillions.


I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and an immortal gatekeeper who decides if we may or may not enter, he or she will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand.

That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut biology class in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.

Sorry pal. Your permanent record finally caught up with you.



The following anecdote is not rigged by the crooked media — or the straight media.

I was exiting our local supermarket and noticed a young lad, maybe 10 or 11-years old staring at me. I know that look. Maybe you have to be a person of color to recognize that look.


72-garry-at-river-bend-ma-10172016_03To me, given my particular history, it means one of two things. Someone thinks they recognize me and they probably do, because I used to be someone. Or they are wondering what this dark-skinned guy is doing here.

In this case, I knew he couldn’t have seen me on TV because I retired before he was born. So, living as he does in our fair (and very white) town, probably he had never seen a real, live not white person.

Finally, I seized the awkward moment. I smiled, said: “Hi, How are you doing? Isn’t this a beautiful day?”

The lad beamed at me.

I am personally on the road to making America great again. Trust me.


I have a lot of stuff to do right now. Doctor stuff, computer stuff, promises to keep, books to read because I owe reviews to publishers.  There’s not nearly enough time in my day to do it all and I have fallen way behind on most of the stuff I usually do for Serendipity. Lucky for me it’s October and there are lots of pictures to post, otherwise, there wouldn’t be much here, either.


I’m going to have to delete a pile of notifications. I’ll never get to them. Please accept my apologies. The “JUST two hands and one head … ” rule applies. If I add one more thing to my “to do” list, I’ll disintegrate into a mass of ones and zeroes and be permanently sucked into some virtual reality.

At least I’m still managing to write a bit. It’s going to be a while, but I’ll be back as soon as I can dig myself out of this hole I’m in.



Like the flowers before the spring? Or the Resistance during the big war? Or, maybe, the trains that rumble underneath most major cities.

drone spy

These days, it often means “hidden” as it “off the grid.” Not discoverable in the usual ways. Without an electronic footprint in the virtual universe. And good luck to you in achieving it. Got a Facebook account? Twitter? Snapchat? Do you blog or comment on others’ blogs? Do you use email? How about a credit card?

I’m not sure I was ever underground. I certainly never went to any lengths to keep my life a secret or hide whatever I was doing. As soon as there was an Internet, I was on it. The price of admission to the virtual world, the online society is personal privacy. Not every single bit of your privacy.


To the best of my knowledge, what we do and say in the privacy of our homes and cars remains there, barring some blabbermouth posting it somewhere. Otherwise, the minute you sign on up for your first social media account, you are in the net, on the grid, part of the web, and fair game for every organization who’d like a piece of you.

Is it annoying? Yes. Is it inevitable? Definitely.

You can rant, rail, whine, and moan about how the government is watching you and you would probably be correct. They are. They will. They always have done, only now, they can find you much more easily. Computers and cell phones have made spying on citizens a whole lot simpler.

And, of course, advertisers are targeting you. Scammers will find you.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth notwithstanding — what did you think was going to happen when you put your life online and made it public?



Photographs: Garry Armstrong

I don’t hate hunting season because I cried when hunters killed Bambi’s mother. Though I did cry and I personally can’t shoot things even if I like the way they taste roasted with some rosemary and garlic. No, I hate hunting season because the people with the guns are not nearly careful enough about not shooting near homes and other populated areas.


Every night between now and the middle of November, I hear the guns. Bang. Bang. Bang. I worry every time my dogs are outside and I continue to worry until they come home and no one has a hole somewhere they shouldn’t.

I always will remember,
’twas a year ago November,
I went out to hunt some deer
On a mornin’ bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.
I was in no mood to trifle,
I took down my trusty rifle
And went out to stalk my prey.
What a haul I made that day.
I tied them to my fender, and I drove them home somehow,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.
The law was very firm, it
Took away my permit,
The worst punishment I ever endured.
It turned out there was a reason,
Cows were out of season,
And one of the hunters wasn’t insured.
People ask me how I do it,
And I say, “there’s nothin’ to it,
You just stand there lookin’ cute,
And when something moves, you shoot!”
And there’s ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now,
Two game wardens, seven hunters, and a pure-bred Guernsey cow.


I don’t object to hunting on principle, at least not if you eat what you kill. Trophy hunting makes me queasy and killing endangered species should be a felony. But so should polluting the air and water. Let’s be fair. Anyone and everyone who is working industriously to destroy our planet for a few extra bucks or so they can hang a head or antlers on their wall? They need to experience suffering.

Otherwise … if you hunt, aim carefully. Please.


As Michael Valentine Smith used to say, “Waiting is.” Because we are all waiting for something or someone.

Bonnie and Gibbs are waiting for me or Garry to give them their next treat.72-bonnie-scotties-10172016_08


I’m waiting for Garry to rise and shine.

72-Marilyn At Canal-GA-042716_154

It’s my day to see the doctor, so he is waiting for me.

Death cust serv

The guy with the scythe is waiting for all of us … and Halloween is just around the corner!