MY BAD NEWS BUNKER IS OUT OF SPACE – Marilyn Armstrong

Every morning, I get up and hope that there is something positive in the news today. Something that will give me hope. Not another soppy story of all the great people helping other people because those stories are true, but have little to do with us and our lives. I admire the carers and wish I were one of them. Maybe then I could feel as if I was doing something useful in this terrible world.

I want to hear about something that — to put it bluntly — might help us. Help get our lives functioning again. Offer to deliver groceries, lower fuel rates.  or car insurance. Someone in this town offering to help people who are physically unable to do it all for themselves anymore.


I have yet to see anything positive. Maybe there are heroes elsewhere, but none of them seem to live in Worcester County. It’s just bad news, start to finish and frankly, it’s depressing. I really want to see something positive. I want to see our government do ONE GOOD THING. Together. As if we are all “One nation, with or without God.”


Is it possible the Trump really is the antiChrist? It’s as if he took office and ever since, every day since, has been working day and night to take whatever was part of the American dream, stomp it flat, shoot it dead, and finally, flush it down the toilet.


Why does he not care about this country he is leading? Why is so unconcerned with how many of us have died or are likely to die? Is power THAT important to any living soul? Was he truly born without a soul or even a basic understanding of right and wrong? I think Stalin had warmer feelings for his people than Trump has for his.

I only read one article and I didn’t finish it. It was the 202, the daily summary of events from The Washington Post. Here are some bullet points from it.


  • More than 40 million Americans have filed claims for jobless benefits in the past 10 weeks, including 2.1 million new claims last week, according to Labor Department data released this morning.
  • Trump tweeted this morning to acknowledge the grim milestone, but his public schedule this week contains no special commemoration, no moment of silence and no collective sharing of grief.
  • Trump is poised to sign an executive order today that could roll back the immunity that tech giants have for the content on their sites.
  • With no evidence, Trump has suggested five times – this month alone – that individuals and entities may have committed treason against the United States.
  • Attorney General Bill Barr, who career prosecutors say has politicized the Justice Department for Trump’s benefit, continues his push to investigate the president’s investigators.
  • Meanwhile, another Trump tweet plunged Congress into chaos – and thwarted the renewal of vital authorities needed by law enforcement to keep tabs on potential spies and terrorists. 
  • Trump has also, almost single-handedly, transformed the simple act of wearing a facial covering into the latest battle in the culture wars, dividing his own party in the process.
  • Some businesses around the country are now kicking out customers who wear face masks.
  • Quote of the day: “There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a polio survivor who is up for reelection. (Politico)
  • Civil unrest is a real danger. The second night of protests over the death of George Floyd turned deadly.
  • Police chiefs around the nation responded with disgust to the news of Floyd’s death, seeking to reassure their cities.
  • There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away.
  • Trump could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people by delaying citizenship ceremonies until after November.
  • The FDA temporarily loosened food labeling rules for the fifth time during the pandemic.
  • Millennials are the unluckiest generation.
  • Public schools face a fall with a lot more costs and a lot less funding.
  • Meanwhile, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she will force public schools to share their pandemic aid with private ones.

This is just about half the bullet points. There were too many more and I couldn’t finish the article. There was no room in my heart or brain for everything. No more room. So if you ask me “how old do you feel?” I think my answer is older than history, older than the planet, older than any person should ever feel. My bad-news-bunker is out of space.

It really is difficult to “have a good day” with the world’s catastrophes looming over you.

For me, the worst part of our ongoing catastrophe is that there is so little I can do about it … and how awful the world will be for our younger citizens.

KEEP TALKING – BY TOM CURLEY

A weird thing happened this week. Other than that last week was “Peak Death Week.” (Sorry, I didn’t get anybody a card).

For the first time ever I didn’t immediately mute my TV when the Covidiot-in-chief comes on to do the daily “5 O’clock Follies” and spend two-hours doing what he normally would do at his hate-filled rallies.

A Distorted View. Neil Davis – one of Australia’s greatest war correspondents was one of the most vocal opponents of these events. Between 1965 and 1968 US television networks distorted the view of the war. They portrayed it as a romantic, heroic struggle. They uncritically accepted the version of events presented to them by US generals daily at 5pm. The Allied public was lead to believe they were winning the war. How could he know better than the generals and the other journalists?

Up until now I, like most folks, would just scream at the TV.

THAT’S A LIE!

THAT’S A BIGGER LIE!!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?????

Then I just muted the sound till the real news came back on.

I have been livid that the news networks all take these propaganda briefings in full. It’s just him campaigning.  Doesn’t Biden get equal time? Now, the cable networks, except for Fox of course, routinely break away to fact check the verbal diarrhea that spews forth from everybody on the podium except for Dr. Fauci.

But this week it changed. I suddenly remembered a funny meme that my cousin Jackie sent me a few weeks ago. It was a sign that said:

“When someone tells you to ‘Keep Talking’ and you realize what he’s really saying is ‘You Better Shut the Fuck Up Right Now!”

She added a comment “That was Uncle Tom’s go-to move.” That was my Dad. I laughed for almost ten minutes when I read that.  Because it was so true. When my brother and I were kids and we were trying to talk ourselves out of whatever thing we did that we shouldn’t have, he would just look at us for a long moment and say

“Go on, keep talking.”

At that point, we’d realize we’d been busted and we would shut the fuck up.

That’s just what is happening with these propaganda rallies. He is just playing to his base like he does in his cult rallies. The only problem is that everybody is watching. His cult followers will believe anything and everything that he says. But the rest of the country and the rest of the world are all screaming at their TVs.  His utter madness, his utter contempt for human life, his unimaginable stupidity, his utter lack of empathy is being shoved down the world’s throat every Goddamned day. I think the democrats are being smart. Let him keep talking.

He says he has the absolute right to open the country even though he doesn’t

Keep talking.

He says “I take no responsibility” for any of the mess we’re in.

Keep talking.

He says he has absolute power. He doesn’t

Keep talking

“The testing is going just fine.” It’s not.

Keep talking.

“We have one case, soon it will be none.” We didn’t. It wasn’t

Keep talking.

“It will be gone by April.”  Hmmm. Last week was peak death week. Well, in New York at least. This week, it’s Massachusetts surging.

Keep talking.

So, for the first time, I actually listened to him. For a few minutes. Until I threw up in my mouth a little. I still mute the TV for most of the Follies.  But now, as I watch I keep hearing my dad.

Go on,  keep talking.

What China didn’t do to Donald Trump, Coronavirus did – THE SHINBONE STAR: A REBLOG

A pretty good summary explaining why we get nauseated when Trump shows up on the news and we feel obliged to turn off the television. These days, no TV at all is sometimes the best TV.


 

THE SHINBONE STAR

A body wrapped in plastic is unloaded from a refrigerated truck outside a New York City hospital. Trucks are being used outside several hospitals in the city as bodies pile up. — AP Photo/John Minchillo

This story was going to be about Donald Trump’s new persona. He tried being caring and humble for a few minutes in a daily broadcast featuring dead bodies being loaded into the refrigerated trailer of an 18-wheeler at the Elmhurst Medical Center. That’s all it took for the news media to speculate that Trump was taking a new path to America’s heart.

The horror show Trump saw happened in the borough of Queens where Trump calls home. He got misty eyed on TV relating his horror at seeing the corpses being loaded into cold storage after expiring from the novel coronavirus pandemic that is attacking humanity. There is no nobility in sheet-wrapped corpses.

News accounts…

View original post 1,066 more words

TWO OLD WHITE GUYS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? WHAT A SHOCK! By Marilyn Armstrong

“Everyone wants change,” said Garry, “until they get to the polls and then it’s the same old game all over again.”

We were both bummed at how poorly Elizabeth Warren did, how far Bloomberg’s money didn’t take him, and that in the end, we are going to have a battle between two old white guys.  Well, that never happens in America! Oh, wait, that’s what usually happens. Sorry.

Garry said it better than me. I said I had read that a lot of people didn’t vote for Warren because they didn’t think she could win. He said we never think anyone different can win until they do win. You can’t make changes without voting for change.

I don’t much like Bernie and I doubt he can — should he win — get much done. He doesn’t have numbers, doesn’t have a plan, and worst of all, he doesn’t have allies in the Senate. He’s a great rabble-rouser, but is he going to find a way to “sell” his plans? Or is he going to just make everyone even more discontented and overwrought? Can I survive another four years of overwroughtness? Of endless battles between the supposedly “equal components” of our government?

Biden is old. Bernie is old. Bloomberg is old. Even Warren is no spring chicken. My favorite loser was Yang. I really liked him. He’s smart. He makes the numbers work. He has a grip on what the future looks like.

But what we have are two old white guys. A big surprise, isn’t it?


A final note: Owen talked to a lot of people yesterday. A lot of them said (and this is a quote): “The election is rigged. What difference does it make?”

If anyone is rigging these primaries, it’s us. We are our own worst enemies.

OMG By Marilyn Armstrong

Have any of us ever calculated the number of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and even WordPress that start out with OMG or something like it? The sentence which follows might — or might not — have anything to do with the opening OMG. My personal favorite is when the author tried to fully engage the excitement, shock, horror, fear, loathing, and paralyzing awesomeness of his personal “event.”


She says, “OMG! I’m 25! That’s so OLD!
What can I do NOW?”


I would expect, given that she or he has lived 25 years of life to its fullest, surely it’s time to make burial plans. Buy a plot of land and a nice casket or arrange for a ceremonial burning. Any amount of time living life past 25 would be an obvious waste. Really, hasn’t she done it all? Any activity from this now on would be mere repetition

While we were out on the water with Tom and Ellin, there was an emergency in progress. A man had fallen in the water and apparently was “swept away.”

That doesn’t make a lot of sense as the water was dead-calm. It was low tide with water running into shore, not out to sea. But we’ll skip all that for now. I’m pretty sure Garry has more to say about the story. He can do news and probably never said OH, MY GOD, in all his years of reporting.

What we saw were people on jet skis closing in and apparently hoping to find … what? A living guy? A dead one? If you find a floating corpse while zipping around on your jet ski, what’s your next step? IS there a next step? Can you call the Coast Guard from your jet ski? Do you watch him float away while you zip back to shore to Tweet your friends about how you saw the “totally OMG coolest thing in the WORLD in the WATER?”

However much we may feel that the news no longer really is the news, at least not like was, if you consider how the news would be done without professionals? It makes me nearly collapse with laughter.

AWAY FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS … Marilyn Armstrong

We are taking a few days off, leaving in a few hours. I have posted new material while we are away, but it’s possible I won’t have time to answer comments. I’ll try, but not making any promises.

There’s a LOT going on around here and we’ve been very busy, especially since we aren’t normally busy. We actually need and use an alarm clock.

Owen will be here to care for the pups and make sure the birds are fed. And just for reference, it turns out if you feed the squirrels separately, everyone eats and I don’t have hanging squirrels trying to get into the feeders. The problem is, we feed the squirrels on the ground, so I don’t get any pictures. Oh well. I think they are happier not hanging from the feeder and the birds are less agitated. Cooperation works well with birds and squirrels, too.

Back by the weekend, so if I’m not in touch until then, have a great rest of the week!

THE ANGRY MOB by GARRY ARMSTRONG

 Many years ago, our 7 or 8-year-old granddaughter was venting her anger over the loss of her favorite salad bar at a local restaurant. We did our best to explain the issue and somehow placated her. She thought we should tackle the issue head-on. “Let’s,” she said, “form an angry mob and storm the place!”

She reminded me of all the high-profile, controversial stories I’d covered in my more than 40 years as a TV news reporter. I never backed down! I was relentless!!  I had to do something!

Gradually, the hot button issues faded away. Gramps was now in retirement. I’d hung up my guns. We’ve often laughed about the “angry mob issue” through the years. When something comes up that bothers us, someone yells, “Let’s round-up an angry mob!” Giggles all around.

I heard the familiar refrain again, today, in the middle of grocery shopping. I started to laugh and stopped quickly. Two very angry people confronted me. I just stared, trying to make sure they were talking to me. They were shouting!

“We need to round-up an angry mob. That’ll get their attention!”  I continued to stare as my brain shifted into second gear. They — the angry duo — clearly wanted to do something about the state of our nation. I almost squashed the tomato I was holding.

“I’m retired,” I tried to reason, but they wouldn’t have it. It was just the beginning for me. I was still picking tomatoes a few minutes later when I heard it again.

“This is crap!! We need to do SOMETHING! I’ve had it with this guy!”.  It was a store employee I’ve known for several years. We’ve discussed politics, the economy and local environmental issues between my getting tips on what’s good in the supermarket on a particular day. No such tips today. He was angry — and it had nothing to do with the price of tomatoes.

“Nobody wants to get involved! We need to do something, Garry. This country is in big trouble.” I bit my lower lip and nodded in agreement, hoping to appease what I saw coming.

“Garry, you could do a special report. You know people. You have clout. People respect you!!”.

“I’m retired,” I said slowly. Dolefully. He shook his head as if he didn’t hear me, didn’t believe me … or it didn’t matter.

“We need to get people involved. We need people to make things right. We’re running out of time, Garry!!”  I bit my lower lip. More people had gathered around. I realized we had a small audience. People were nodding, red-faced, shaking their fists.

I surveyed the crowd. I shook my head solemnly and said it louder. “I’m retired!” They shook their heads in disbelief. I could hear mumbles of anger and confusion. I should have anticipated what would come next.

“We grew up watching you on TV. You always told us what was happening. We’ve told our kids about you …” It was the guilt card, face up. Ouch.

“I’m retired,” I repeated again. They couldn’t accept it. They moved in closer, fingers poking in the air. Of course, I understood. I understand. It’s hard making sense out of what’s going on with the current administration. The real news is called fake. Fake news is being analyzed as if it’s real. There’s no precedent for this in my lifetime. I have no war stories to share about dealing with the type of people who are now in charge. I covered presidents from JFK to Bush Number 1. There was lots of crazy stuff over the years but nothing like what is happening today.

I dodged several more small crowds and made it to the checkout counter. I was feeling pretty good because I had found some fresh fruit Marilyn wanted. Head down, I spread my groceries on the counter, glancing at the young woman bagging the stuff. I thought I was free as soon as everything was tallied and bagged.

Free at last?

No! I felt a hand on my shoulder. An elderly man, maybe 80 or so grinned at me. But it wasn’t a happy grin, but a grin of anger. I’d seen this many times before. I braced myself.

“Garry, why the hell aren’t you out there, telling the public about this guy? Everyone’s angry!! You’ve done it before! You’ve done it with them other bums. We could always trust you!”

“I’m retired.”  I said it slowly.

I politely extracted myself from the elderly gent’s strong grip and wheeled the groceries outside. As I loaded everything into the car, I saw a couple of people approaching me. I double-timed the rest, got in the car, put the pedal to the metal and beat it out of the parking lot.

In my head, I could hear my granddaughter.

“Gramps, let’s round-up an angry mob and storm the place”.

OLD PEOPLE WATCH CABLE NEWS – BY TOM CURLEY

I watch way too much cable news. Which is odd because I don’t really like the news. I worked for CBS News for over 40 years. I had to watch the news. I was making the news shows. It was my job.

If I had a choice, I would rather watch the cartoon network  But now I watch cable news all the time. I seem to be morbidly fascinated with the steady decline of America and what the ass-hole-in-chief did today.

I have noticed one interesting thing. Well, interesting to me.


Only old people watch cable news.

How do I know this? Simple. The commercials. They’re the same. Fox, MSNBC, CNN and for the most part CBS, NBC, and ABC.

By “all the same.”I mean the same advertisers. They break down into a few categories: drugs, medical products, drugs. Medicare supplement plans, drugs. Life Insurance and annuities, drugs, walk-in bathtubs, stair lifts and, oh yeah, drugs.

Every last one of them is depressing as hell. Most of them, I simply don’t understand.

Let’s start with a drug supplement that is supposed to help your brain think better. Why does it make your brain better? Well, they proudly tell you it’s because of an ingredient found … wait for it… in JELLYFISH!

Yes, jellyfish.

Because, you know, when I think of something that involves brains and intelligence, the first thing I think of is a jellyfish! Billion-year-old multi-cellular organisms who float in the ocean waiting for food to become entangled in their floaty dangling tentacle-like thingies. Also, they have no brain.

Then I got to thinking about it and maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe jellyfish are the most intelligent, intellectual philosophical thinkers on the planet. You know, like those advanced omnipotent species that show up on Star Trek.

I mean, what else do they have to do all day? They just float around.

JELLYFISH 1: I think, therefore, I am.

JELLYFISH 2: Free will is an illusion.

JELLYFISH 3: Hey! Some food just bumped into my tentacle thingies!

Next, reverse mortgages.

This is where if you own your house you can sell it back to the bank. They pay you a monthly payment until they buy your house back. Then you have no place to live. So, you’re betting you die before you become homeless. And older.

Is that a bet you want to win?

Then there are all the companies that want to buy your life insurance policy. The pitch goes something like this: “We needed more money for our retirement. We found out we could sell our life insurance policy. Now we are set for life.”

UNTIL ONE OF YOU DIES and the survivor has no life insurance to collect and live off of!!! Isn’t that the reason you bought life insurance??

Isn’t that what happens when the person holding the policy dies??

I guess you could room with the guy who just became homeless. Except, oh yeah, he doesn’t have a home.

Then there are the catheter commercials almost always being hawked by a guy who looks like a middle manager for an insurance company.

Actual catheter guy. And they all have the same mustache.

They all start out with the guy saying, “I don’t like pain when I cath.”

WHAT? Are there people out there who like pain when they cath? And when the hell did “cath” become a verb?? If you don’t know what a  catheter is, Google it. I’m not going to explain it.

Having said that, here’s a true story.

Back when I was a college freshman I worked as an orderly and an ER technician for a hospital. One of my jobs was catheterizing patients. I had only done the procedure on old guys who were unconscious or in a coma.

One day the head nurse gave me a cath kit and told me to do it to a 45-year-old wide-awake guy who was being prepped for surgery. I walked in the room and said I had to catheterize him. He asked me what that was. I explained it to him. When I finished there was a really long pause. All he said was, “You gotta be kidding me.”

It was at that point I realized that:

    1. I had never explained the procedure out loud to anyone before. And —
    2. He had a point. 

So I went back to the head nurse and said “Not doing this one. You’re on your own.”

Finally, drug commercials.

Lots and lots of drug commercials all of which are incredibly annoying because they take a beloved song from my youth and pervert it into shilling their drug. They all tell YOU to ask your doctor if whatever drug they’re selling is right for you.

Shouldn’t your doctor already know that? If he doesn’t, have you considered getting a new doctor?

Here’s the main take away from all drug commercials.


DON’T TAKE ANY OF THESE DRUGS!!!

For God’s sake, listen to the list of side effects they describe in each of them.

        • Explosive diarrhea!
        • Sudden stroke!
        • Sudden death!
        • Rectal itch!

There’s actually a commercial for an anti-depression drug where one of the side effects is suicidal depression!

The drug side effects are worse than the disease you’re trying to treat. Except maybe for the one with rectal itch. I just don’t remember what disease it was treating.

So, to all you young folks out there. If you want to see where your life is going to end up, watch a cable news station for a day.

Me, I think I’m going to go back to watching the cartoon network.

STATE OF MY NATION – Marilyn Armstrong

STATE OF MY NATION – RDP SATURDAY


I have forbidden television viewing today. It’s the Republican opportunity to deny everything and I don’t think I can handle it. Worse, this might be the broadcast that finally makes Garry kick the TV until it shatters. Since we need to fix a broken toilet and the floor under it, we can’t afford a new TV so we’ll have to hang onto this one. This part of the impeachment will have to wait for the evening news roundups and late-night comedies.

Watching it will make us crazy.

Trump has only been in office for three years, but it feels like at least twenty. Maybe more. It isn’t only what he has done. It’s what he has tried to do, his twisting of reality and constant blatant lies. He has been the first president in my lifetime to make me wonder whether this country has a soul, conscience, or any aspirations other than the gathering of money and “things.”

Someone — and I really have no idea who — said that no one goes to their grave wishing they’d spent more time at the office. It goes hand-in-hand with all the wealthy people who have the money to buy everything they ever wanted yet feel as if there’s a big, empty hole in the middle of their life. They are lonely, bored, and feel unloved. They (who ARE they?) actually did a survey on this which has been on the national news for the past few nights. The rich don’t have friends. Making money hasn’t been nearly as satisfying as it was supposed to be. No amount of publicity, plastic surgery, or fashionable clothing fills that hole.


I have come to believe “The American Dream” is just a soft-focus, rose-colored version of greed for all.


With all the issues we have got, I am not lonely. I wish we had more in-person time with friends, but as we have grown older, so have they.  Our contemporaries mostly don’t like long drives anymore. Distances that weren’t a big deal even five years ago seem much longer now.

I always hoped we’d somehow find a way to stick together, but life has taken us in the opposite direction. Retirement to warmer climates and/or moving to wherever our kids and grandchildren live has spread us all over the map. There have also been too many deaths.

With all that, I’m pretty sure that if I died tomorrow, there would be at least a dozen people at the wake who cared about me. It wouldn’t be a crowd of people with whom I “did business,” but people I knew, talked to, and loved.

This nightmare through which we are passing has not only caused individual personal fear but has breached many friendships and family relationships.

Where we used to disagree and were willing to “agree to disagree,” we can’t seem to do that today. I don’t think I had a lot of Republican friends, but maybe I did. I never checked anyone to make sure they agreed with me politically. We didn’t talk about politics all the time. You were allowed to believe privately and in peace.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

There is so much anger, frustration, confusion, and hatred everywhere. You can feel it prickling your skin. If we don’t manage to get Trump and his trashy pals out of office, the future looks grim and frightening.

Worse, I’m ashamed of being white, and ashamed of my nation, and seriously wondering if we will ever find our way back from this mess. I never thought it could come to this.

SORRY, WRONG NUMBER – By GARRY ARMSTRONG

People of a certain age will recall the title from a popular radio drama that became a film noir classic with Barbara Stanwyck as the damsel/wife in distress and Burt Lancaster as the spouse with mayhem on his mind.  You can also dial “M For Murder” with the same theme: the telephone as a nefarious device and weapon.

A friend just wrote a piece, extolling the virtues of the telephone as a personal link in the impersonal age of social media. Good point. You need to be able to talk, hold an intelligent and coherent conversation on the phone.  Social media doesn’t require those basic skills.  Courtesy is also another trait required on a phone conversation even when you’re dealing with unpleasant matters.

My wife, Marilyn, rises to heroic stature dealing with insufferable customer service, health care reps, local business people who lose the check and fail to show up. Credit card hackers who’d love a little personal information and the idiots who’ve dialed the wrong number but keep redialing anyway.

I hate the telephone!  It stems from all the years of unwanted calls from the TV station that employed me for 31 years. Three o’clock in the morning calls demanding I grab my gear and immediately report to the scene of a grisly crime, awful weather, deadly fires, criminals running amok, traffic accidents with myriad, mangled bodies and the latest gangland or drive-by shooting with multiple victims.  All breathlessly awaiting my presence to round up the usual suspects for eye-witness accounts and/or to go banging on doors asking parents “how they feel” about the recent death of a loved one.

Hey, how do you feel, Pilgrim?  All of this hurled at me in fleeting minutes once I picked up the phone and heard a familiar voice with the phony excuse of waking me up out of my warm bed.  I usually cursed myself if I answered the phone.

Marilyn normally took the calls because of my hearing problems.  I couldn’t blame her. Nor could I hurl expletives at the person calling.  You can’t shoot the messenger in the TV news biz.  Being called into work goes with the territory.

Instead, I blamed the inanimate object.  The telephone. Outraged, I yelled obscenities at it.  Meanwhile, the telephone sat there quietly,  probably mocking me. After all, the phone was just doing its job. Nothing personal.

Statehouse on Beacon Hill

During my bachelor years when I had to take these calls, I frequently hurled the phone across the room during my tirades against the telephone company, its employees, executives, and Alexander Graham Bell who I imagined as Don Ameche from the old biofilm.

Why did they seemingly always call me?  Why was someone always picking on me?  Frequently, I’d envision conspiracies to target me. Racism? Envy because I was on the tube every day, outshining other folks? Political target?  I had an ‘attitude’ with some local pols. It was me against the giant telephone conglomerate.  I was riffing Dwight Eisenhower’s warning.

Truth time.  Early on in my Boston TV news career, I let it be known I was ‘always available’ for major, breaking news stories.   I envisioned the scoop on that major story that would shoot me to stardom and a mega-contract.  I put myself on the spot that assignment editors love. An eager-beaver young reporter with stars in his eyes and experience not yet absorbed.

Veteran reporters scoffed at my enthusiasm even as I sauntered around the newsroom full of myself at landing big stories that had me prominently featured on every newscast of the day from sunrise to midnight.

In my glee over the big stories I always forgot how it began.  Always the damn phone call.  During my saner moments, I knew I was my own worst enemy. That logic didn’t sit well with me.

During long lunches as everyone congratulated me with my face and story on all the monitors, I realized I was in a catch 22 scenario.  Hero of the hour absorbing lots of congratulations while my brain kept reminding me that it was that early phone call that made all of this possible. I continued blaming the phone for interrupting my sleep. I would go on shooting the messenger for years.

One time I lived up to my vow to avert the phone call-to-arms.  I answered the call. Heard the voice and slowly said, “Sorry, wrong number.”  I grinned to myself, returning for a good night’s sleep.

I was still smiling as I awoke and turned on the radio in the morning.  The all-news station was frantically blaring out details about a massive fire, building collapse and the loss of many lives.  It was such a big story that the networks were in on coverage.

My smile turned to a scowl. The potential ‘story of a lifetime’ had been lost to my erstwhile, “Sorry, Wrong Number.”

Oops.

THIS MORNING’S HEADLINES WITH MORE TO COME – Marilyn Armstrong

From the LA Times and Washington Press come this morning’s headlines:


D.C. attorney general sues Trump inaugural committee over $1 million booking at president’s hotel


Democracy Dies in Darkness


U.N. calls for investigation of Saudi crown prince’s alleged involvement in targeting Jeff Bezos and opponents


Senate adopts ground rules for trial, delaying a decision on witnesses


Chief justice admonishes impeachment lawyers, telling them to ‘remember where they are’


Trump threatens Europe with fresh tariffs in Davos, deepening a rift with longtime U.S. allies


U.S. screenings for the coronavirus expanded to airports in Atlanta and Chicago


Senate rejects Democratic measure to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mulvaney for testimony in Trump’s impeachment trial


Chinese coronavirus outbreak reaches the U.S. 


These are just this morning’s headlines. Many more will come and they will all be as bad — or worse — than these. No wonder we are stressed!

SHARE MY WORLD – JANUARY 20, 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong

Sharing My World  on 1-20-2020

QUESTIONS:

Where do you get your news?

I have a subscription to the Washington Post. I also read newsletters from the L.A. Times, Newsweek, Huff. And I read The New Yorker and Garry sends me a lot of clippings from the New York Post. We also watch the news to see what’s happening locally. We don’t spend a lot of time watching national and international news. I’d rather read about it. I find reading less depressing than watching.

What ‘old person’ thing do you do?

Go to bed late and get up late. I got up very early and was out of the house every day by 5:30am or 6am for 50 years. Now, I sleep in when I can and stay up until Colbert is over or whatever else I’m watching is finished. Then I go to bed and usually listen to an hour of audiobooks.

A Kindle and a Bluetooth speaker for listening to audiobooks

When was the coldest you’ve ever been?   The warmest?

I think when we used to go sledding when I was a kid, I was always frozen — which didn’t stop me. It didn’t matter how much clothing I wore, either. Also, they didn’t have the same level of warm clothing then that they have now. Fleece boots have really helped me live a better life.

Woods and fence

Back then, my feet were always blocks of ice as were my hands and face. These days, when it’s that cold, I don’t go out, yet I still need a heating pad to defrost my feet at night.

As for warm, we had one summer in Israel where the temperature topped 44 degrees (Celsius). A friend of mine didn’t drink enough water and was in a coma for more than a week from the heat.

None of us had air-conditioned homes.  Usually just getting out of the sun was enough because the air was so dry. That level of heat, though was more than many people could handle.

Do you eat food that’s past its expiration date if it still smells and looks fine?

It depends on what it is and how long past its expiration date. A yogurt a day over is fine. A week over? Not so much. On the other hand, I think a can of peas is permanent and probably will have the same food value in 100 years. I’m not sure it has any now.

OVERCOMING MY NEWS ADDICTION – By ELLIN CURLEY

I confess. I became a news addict. A true junkie.

The first thing I did every morning is to reach for the phone and check out the Washington Post to see what Trump has done while I was sleeping. The headlines tell me whether I’m going to have a peaceful day focused on my own life, or a stressful day glued to the 24-hour news shows on TV.

My husband, Tom, is worse than I am. He has MSNBC on the TV or his computer playing in the background, if not the foreground, pretty much all day. He only takes a breather when he’s playing video games or Beat Saver (an exercise game). On a big news day, we often drop everything and watch one pundit heavy show after another. I’m not proud of this but it seems to make me feel more in control – like I actually have a handle on what’s going on. I am clearly suffering from Trump Trauma and Anxiety, which is a form of PTSD that psychiatrists are calling a real syndrome that they see regularly in their practices.

I didn’t think I’d be able to break my news habit. On some days I wondered how I had survived before 24-hour cable news came into being. When I had to run errands or have lunch with a friend, I’d listen to MSNBC on the radio and grill Tom when I got home to catch up on anything I might have missed while trying to have a life. I’m exaggerating a little, but unfortunately, not that much.

Weekends were not looked forward to but dreaded. We’re retired so the only difference for us between weekdays and weekends is that we can see our friends who work on the weekends and the cable news shows are mostly repeats. So we don’t get our weekday news fixes. We manage to get through most weekends without any ill effects, though we do long for our regular news anchor friends to return on Monday. Did I mention that I can tell what time it is by which anchor is hosting the MSNBC show of the moment? And I can do this from just the voices – I don’t even have to look at the TV! Again, not something I’m proud of, but there it is.

Then my daughter came to visit from LA for three glorious weeks in December. I didn’t realize that she would be my own personal twelve-step program. I wanted to spend every minute I could with her and she is well informed but not a news junky. So I had to go cold turkey. During the days we hung out, went visiting, shopping, and did projects around the house.

I played lots of gin and double solitaire. In the car, the radio was set to a music channel, not the news. In the evenings, we binge-watched Amazon and Netflix series and watched movies – no news. Not even my favorite, Rachel Maddow. I was having such a good time with Sarah, I didn’t miss the news at all. I noticed that when Tom mentioned some new development and I had no clue what he was talking about, I didn’t care!

“So this is how normal people live,” I thought.

Many of my Facebook friends are also Progressive/Liberal. They religiously keep abreast of what’s happening in the world and we regularly share articles of interest. We also share our outrage about Trump and what he is doing to our country. So I found myself skipping Facebook for days at a time. I got my daily quota of cute animal videos on YouTube.

My news blackout was complete, except for my morning survey of the newspaper headlines. I limited my reading to the headlines and didn’t read any articles.

Sarah and me, December 2019

I wish I could say my three-week detox program had a lasting positive effect on my behavior and my outlook. Or on my habits and my psyche. But it’s too early to tell. I do feel a bit calmer and more positive. Without the daily dose of man’s venality, mendacity, and hypocrisy, my general outlook may have a chance to revert to normal, which is sunnier and less pessimistic.

This is all good.

Sarah has only been gone for a short time and I haven’t watched cable news yet or obsessively read article after article in the papers. My radio in my car is still set to the ‘Broadway’ channel and I’ve decided to get back into baking when I see friends, instead of buying desserts as I have been doing for several years. Baking used to be something I loved, but since I was on Prednisone for over a year and a half and gained ten pounds, I have been on a constant diet and stayed away from cooking and baking as much as possible.

Now though, I wanted the fun of baking again. Of sharing my desserts with friends. I’ve also started working on updating my photo albums – a humongous task involving close to a thousand photos spanning sixteen years.

I see my new interest in these projects and activities as a way to enhance my life apart from the news. It’s good to focus on everyday things that I enjoy doing and bring my daily life back to ‘my’ world and not the national and international world represented by the news. I’m going to work on doing my own thing more and worrying less about our society and the planet plunging into darkness.

I hope my new perspective lasts past the next Trump crisis!

OUR WORLD BALANCED ON THE HEAD OF A PIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry was a working reporter for more than 40 years, so you have to figure I have an interest in the news. I never watched all the news. I didn’t think every shooting or fatal car accident was news. Just because something happens doesn’t make it newsworthy. Even if it’s tragic. News directors believe in bad news. Good news rarely makes the cut.

I was never a news junkie. I wasn’t — and still am not — addicted to the news, but I like to know what’s happening. Not just about things which directly affect me, but how goes my town,  city, state, nation, and world. From wondering who was going to fix our local potholes to which war we are currently fighting even though I never understand why we are having another (or the same?) war.

Film at eleven!

As far as elections go? I like to get a good, long look at candidates. If you don’t watch candidates during their campaigns, how can you know who to vote for? Having enough time to get that look at candidates is probably the only advantage of our ridiculously long election process. One of the many things you can learn is if that person has a moral center, something to which I think we’ve previously paid far too little attention.

There may be more …

Right now, as I’m watching television, it appears Iran has shot a dozen ballistic missiles at an American base in Iraq. So all of this could be a moot point. For all I know, we may be in the middle of nuclear war tomorrow or by the end of the week. I asked Garry if we should call all our friends (there aren’t that many) and say goodbye.

Maybe I don’t need a new boiler after all. Well, that’s a relief. There’s always a silver lining. You just need to look for it.

Missiles from Iran to U.S. installation in Iraq

When people said: “Oh, I don’t watch the news,” Garry took it personally. After all, he was on the news almost every day. Meanwhile, he read three papers a day as well as working fulltime for a network news affiliate. To be fair, half of that reading was sports, but we all need hobbies. He knew the candidates personally because he worked with them. He knew their records. He was really good at predicting elections. He had better than average resources and by definition, so did I.

Australian fire – clouds and embers

I never read three papers a day. I spot read one and never missed the comics or anything about archaeology. I watched and recorded Garry’s daily piece. Nonetheless, I knew what was going on. I voted almost every year. I missed a few. I never missed a presidential or senatorial election, but sometimes I’d let the local elections slide because I didn’t know anything about the candidates. When you don’t know who the candidates are, voting is like scratching a lottery ticket. It has the same resonance. I can’t throw my vote to the most appealing face on the ballot.

These days, I feel like our world is balanced on the head of a pin.

REUTERS/Noah Berger – Fires in California last summer

It’s a big, blue ball and a very tiny pin. There is no room to make a mistake. A bit of imbalance and that big blue ball will crash. Given one thing and another, it may crash regardless, but until I know it has, I’ll do the best I can to make a difference. In the course of our lives, we don’t get much opportunity to influence anything outside ourselves and maybe our family. The magnitude of the world in which we live has dwarfed our efforts.

Montecito Mudslide – 2018

This little blog is what I can do. If there’s any purpose to blogging daily, it’s because maybe I can help someone. Change someone’s mind. Show them a choice they didn’t know was available. Whenever I’m tired of the whole thing, I remember that there’s a chance I can help. Maybe I’m not just spinning my wheels.

I think everyone has a minimal obligation to have a fundamental understanding of the world in which they live. I find it appalling in a time when all our lives are on the line, that so many people still hide their heads in the sand or willingly believe lies because they feel better than the truth. Then they complain when things go wrong.

It was generations of head hiders who got us here.