One of the more amusing widgets on my new desktop is one that tells me if Mercury is retrograde at any given moment. I believe in astrology about as much as I believe in the leadership capabilities of George W. Bush, but I do believe in easy, stupid explanations for a run of bad luck, and “Mercury is retrograde” works as well as any. (For a time, my friend Mark the Shark started blaming everything that happened in his life on El Niño. This worked well, as it fit in with what everyone else in the world was doing, at least as reflected in the newspapers, where everything from a plague of leopard slugs to a bad losing streak was credited to El Niño.)
After this last couple days of pratfalls, screwups, bad weather and hit-and-run drivers, I need an explanation. I went to the grocery store yesterday and discovered I’d left my wallet at home, having removed it to file my insurance report. I went home and walked the dog. Nothing like walking the dog to settle the old nerves. The leash broke. I drove Kate to school this morning because it was unpleasantly chilly, and the remains of my taillight fell out in the middle of Mack Avenue.
Went home and checked the widget. “Mercury OK,” it said.
Here’s a nice explanation of how retrograde motion happens, if you’re interested.
A nice interlude at the state police post yesterday, sitting in their sterile little waiting area, where there’s nothing to read but pamphlets, but the TV is tuned to the History Channel. I caught the end of a show on Old Las Vegas. In the usual fashion, they kept the titillation for the end, with a discussion of the early topless shows and prostitution on the Strip. Cut to the Las Vegas sheriff, who said with a straight face, “There still may be some prostitution in Vegas, but no more than anywhere else.” I looked around to see if the troopers behind the counter were as wide-eyed with astonishment as I was. They remained intent on their computer screens; it’s just background noise to them.
One of the cops was wearing shades, indoors on a cloudy day. I thought he was just rockin’ the macho cop look, but no — he’d recently had Lasik surgery, and the lights were bothering him. We discussed the pros and cons of this elective procedure, and he said some departments — not his — were making Lasik available free to all working officers. A cop without specs is not fogging his lenses at critical moments, and the prices are now low enough to make it cheaper, over time, than a new pair of $300 glasses every couple years. So far, in Michigan, this enviable health benefit was only available free of charge to — wait for it — state legislators. At least that’s what he said; I have no idea if it’s true, but if so it’s funny, since the distinguished gentlefolk in Lansing are currently displaying extreme myopia, and need all the vision correction they can get.
My first encounter with the Michigan state police came as a teenager in the U.P., where they’re known as “the state boys,” and the less said about that encounter the better. They still drive blue cruisers with a single gumball-machine light on top — none of those pussy high-tech light bars for the state boys. The other day I passed one who had a car pulled over on I-75, three adult men inside, and arrayed on the car’s rooftop — a 40-oz. bottle half-filled with beer and two tall-boy cans of same. The men inside looked glum; the party was over. The state boy sat in the cruiser writing on a clipboard. They say anesthesiology is hours of boredom punctuated by seconds of sheer terror. A cop’s life is 40 percent drunks and 60 percent paperwork.
Do you watch “COPS”? I don’t, but I know men who use it for father-son bonding purposes. Every so often it’s good for a laugh; I’m always amazed at the power of television demonstrated by how many of these Cletuses sign the release to be on TV. I’d think one of the great tensions in a police officer’s life would be the daily confrontation with life’s injustice and ambiguity, seeing how poverty and degradation can thwart even the strongest will, the same way money and privilege can buoy the most clueless morons. Maybe this is why cop-speak tends to be hyper-specific, a place where men and women are males and females, cars are vehicles and booze is intoxicants. The local weekly reports the police business in the language on the report, and so when drunks are pulled out of their cars for sobriety tests, it’s always due to “the strong odor of intoxicants coming from the driver’s facial area.”
Does this entry have a point? It doesn’t appear to, although there’s the strong odor of ass coming from its facial area, so let’s just skip to the bloggage and me to the shower.
Mean Christopher Hitchens on the newly departed reverend: One of (Falwell’s) associates, Bailey Smith, once opined that “God does not hear the prayers of a Jew.” This is one of the few anti-Semitic remarks ever made that has a basis in fact, since God does not exist and does not attend to any prayers, but Smith was not quite making that point. Harsh!
Google Analytics provides evidence that while it may not pay to pick on people more popular than yourself, it does do wonders for one’s traffic:
Another day, another stop at the body shop. Sorry for excessive lameness today; I’m preoccupied.