Thursday, February 7, 42 A.B.

Brain Swabs

I'm feeling a tad confused today.  Well, ok - I feel a tad confused every day.  Today's tad just happens to be bigger than most - almost 6" stem to stern, which is almost big enough to completely eclipse my shrunken consciousness.  Guess I should have spent more time expanding that consciousness when I had the chance, eh?  Yes, well, I should have bought Microsoft when it was selling for $5 a share, too.  Such is life....

Now where was I?  Oh, yes - confusion.  I'm not sure to what extent my confusion is a by-product of the rapidly replicating virus I've unselfishly opened my head to and to what extent my confusion is merely an accurate reflection of a confused external reality.

Consider: It's allegedly Feb. 7, yet I have dozens of daffodils coming up while oak trees to my east and west still have brown leaves dangling from their branches. Some homes still display Christmas decorations.  So, exactly what season IS it??

Superbowl Sunday did not help clarify matters any.  I don't know much about football, having never watched a game in my life, but one thing I thought I did know was that the Superbowl is always played on the third or fourth Sunday of January.  This year, however, it was played last Sunday - Feb. 3.  Why??  Was it delayed for some reason?  Is my understanding of football even shakier than I knew?  Or is the Superbowl, in fact, played on a random Sunday every year and a majority of those Sundays in my lifetime have just coincidentally happened to be in January?  I wish I knew.  But then I also wish I knew why I didn't buy Microsoft when it was selling for $5 a share.  Such is life....

Actually, not being a greedy person, much less a capitalist, my main wish right now has nothing to do with the stock market but with paper towels.  I have a cat, so I buy a LOT of paper towels, and - miracle of miracles - it sometimes happens that I have two or more unused rolls of these towels on my pantry shelf at a time.  Sometimes these rolls were purchased at different times.  What I really wish to know is this: When it comes time for me to refill a suddenly empty paper towel dispenser with one of these rolls, which one should I chose?  Should I select the roll which is nearest the front (and thus minimize the amount of wear and tear my body must experience) or should I select the roll which is furthest to the back (and thus maximize my chances of using up the oldest roll before it goes bad)?  If you have an educated opinion on this matter, please be sure to pass it along!

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes - confusion.

Although I failed in my earnest attempts to acquire a case of pneumonia Tuesday night, my head's new tenant (Mr. Cold Virus) must have sensed my deep desire to be of service to as many poor, lonely microbes as possible.  Unable to recruit any on short notice, Mr. C.V. took it upon himself to replicate as many copies of himself as possible while I slept.  The result: Yesterday I awoke positively full to overflowing with cute little infectious agents which consider my body to be a perfect paradise.  I have rarely felt so loved or so needed!

Alas, there IS a downside, I guess, and confusion might be one of them - I'm simply too befogged to be sure.

Or something.


*Aimlessly drumming fingers on desk until I'm virtually self-hypnotized*

Oh, hey!  I know what I wanted to say!  Something rather noteworthy happened yesterday. And I even took extensive notes so I wouldn't forget what it was.  These notes are on my desk right under my drumming fingers.  What are the odds of THAT happening??

*Taking my cue from Olympic swimmers, I rush to shave off my chest hair so that I might swim through these notes with as little drag as possible*

It was yesterday - Wednesday - about 10am.  I was reading the newspaper when Mr. C.V. actually spoke to me!

"Hey, kid, could you lay off the Comtrex already?  It's hard enough to enlarge your lazy spleen without having to fend off chemical attack at the same time!"

You can speak!

"Well, DUH.  Considering all the linguists, English teachers, speech writers, and radio DJs I've infected over the years, I'd have to be a pretty stupid virus NOT to be able to speak."

Sorry - I didn't mean to offend you.

"Yeah, well, 'Sorry' doesn't constitute reparations," he told me, his words reverberating around my sinuses.  "If you really want to get back on my good side, go sit in a draft.  AFTER running around without your shoes and socks, of course."

Umm, sure.  Can I finish the paper first?  I'm almost done...

"Oh, sure, sure.  I'm only gonna be here 7 to 10 days, but go ahead - take all the time you want to satisfy your silly little selfish desires before paying attention to the world's neediest little creatures.  I expect no less, you being an American and all."


"Oooo, nice bristling!  It's been SO long since I've been in a nice, bristling body. Good job!  Now settle down before you overtax your heart and the decomposition bacteria end up squeezing me out.  Geez, I hate it when they do that!  There oughta be law."

It's just that if anyone around here is going to attack me for being an American, it's going to be me - not a guest in my own head.

"Take it easy!  Take it easy!  Fact is, I actually like Americans.  After all, I'm here, aren't I?  Over 6 billion non-Americans on earth and yet I chose YOU to infect and raise my kids in.  You should feel honored - not insulted."

Oh??  Well, I'm... I'm really touched!

"You should be.  You know, it's amazing how insecure you Americans can be.  Fact is, even the least among you tend to be way fatter, slower, and less likely to suddenly die on us cold virus types than even the best Third Worlders.  And you've done so much to wipe out our competition!  Oh, after a single day in you, I'd NEVER go back to 95% of the people I've been in.  Too much dysentery edging us out!  Too much malnutrition for us to really thrive!"

Gee... Thanks.

"Not that it's always a bed of rose-red membranes with you guys.  There IS a downside - don't kid yourself.  Do you have ANY idea how hard it is for the head colds among us when EVERY head we enter is still protected by the innocence and ignorance it came wrapped in the day it was born?"

I BEG your pardon?!

"Oh, ok, Bub - YOU'RE an exception, of course.  But just look at that paper you're reading there.  First it runs a story about Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai saying that U.S. special forces have repeatedly killed the wrong people in his country.  Just last week, 18 died due to a 'targeting error.'  Now look here - the very same paper runs an article about Hamid Karzai's fashion sense!  Yep, that 'U.S. raids killed allies by mistake, Karzai says' headline is soon followed by a bigger one proclaiming 'Afghan prime minister generates style buzz.'  The first story gets 11 column inches of text.  The second gets 14!  AND it includes a color photo of Karzai in all his green-robed splendor.  NO photo of even one of those poor people killed by mistake.  HA!"

Well, it IS a family (i.e., robe-friendly, corpse-adverse) newspaper, after all.  And there's only so much bad news one can take in a year unless it's leavened with a bit of pizzazz and glamor....

"And there on that page....  Is the fact that Dick Cheney still refuses to reveal who he talked to in the course of formulating U.S. energy policy part of the pizzazz and glamor necessary to family happiness?  Or is it the fact that his administration has released TONS of information about the similar private communications involving Clinton and Gore?  Seems to me that if he's truly trying to protect the privacy that the executive branch allegedly needs to function properly, he'd be as protective of the secrets of his predecessors as he is of his own - but I guess pizzazz and glamor require a certain amount of hypocrisy, eh?"

I'm afraid I'm not following you I told my increasingly rude tenant as I slipped my paper under the couch and switched to reading my Newsweek.

"Well, look there then - page 8.  It says that when Bush signed that education bill last year, he vowed that only 'scientifically proven' methods of instruction would get federal funding.  His supporters ate that up because that meant funding for those 'scientifically proven' phonics programs they love.  But then Bush just this week boosted funding for abstinence-only sex ed programs even though the only programs scientifically proven to work include information about contraception! Hee!  If THAT doesn't add pizzazz and glamor to the American way of life, at least it's spicing it with a delicious pinch of the absurd!"

You know, for a little virus, you sure hold a very big attitude....

"Well, I might have to buy an annex for some of it after reading that other story there on the very same page.  Seems Jeb Bush's daughter, Noelle, has been busted for calling in a fake prescription for Xanax.  You know - Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida?  The president's brother?  The same Jeb Bush who is opposing a Florida referendum which would mandate treatment rather than jail time for first-time drug offenders!  Wanna bet that Jeb graciously stands by while Noelle is subjected to his state's 'tough love' policy and is hustled off to prison??  HA!  As Dick Cheney might say, 'Better to be a hypocrite than suffer the painful consequences of your own silly principles.'"

Oh, look!  A clever ad for Toshiba copiers! I exclaimed, flipping the page and wondering if I had any medications in the house which list viral rudeness among the symptoms they relieve.

"WAIT - what's THAT story??  The Red Cross is giving about as much money to 4,000 New York limo drivers inconvenienced by Sept. 11 as it's given since 1998 to alleviate the suffering of the 2,500,000 Central American victims of Hurricane Mitch?!  See, THIS is why I love to infect you Americans - you're just SO much more entertaining than those Oxford dons my mother kept urging me to get into!"  

But enough about that part of my Wednesday.  Besides notes recording the numerous impertinent comments of a certain ill-mannered infectious agent living in my head, I also have these which cry out for attention -

-----  GE has come out with a new light bulb which has 25 colors painted on its surface.  At long last even the least artistic among us can turn a plain white lamp shade into a stained glass masterpiece just by changing a bulb!

-----  Water that's heated to 130 degrees will burn our flesh in 30 seconds, but water heated to 140 degrees will burn in a mere 5 seconds.  Now, what kind of sense does that make??

Really, it's no wonder I'm confused, is it?  Mouthy viruses...  Pretty lamp shade deprivation...  Water as untrustworthy as people who have acquired too many degrees....

I think I need a nap.

Or more cheaply acquired Microsoft stock in my past.

Time to aim for the latter but settle for the former.

Be a peach and wake me when non-confusion returns, ok?


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(©Twice by DJ Birtcher in the hope that two
half-assed attempts add up to a single success)

My Nebraska itches - will you scratch it for me with your cursor? Please?

This chart not only shows the prevalence of influenza across the U.S. as of last week - it also shows the pretty colors anyone looking at the back of my throat would see RIGHT NOW!  Miracle OR coincidence??  YOU decide!

To see more detailed information about current flu outbreaks from the Centers for Disease Control, click on the chart.

To see exactly when "RIGHT NOW" might be, click on RIGHT NOW right now.
(Well, if you have time for a sweet little 168k download, anyway.)

To see the cough syrup spill I found next to my bed this morning which looked EXACTLY like the Virgin Mary towering over the Tokyo skyline, click on your own own feverish imagination.

(Just don't blame ME if Time, an irate Mother of God, or a unit of U.S. Special Forces strikes you dead for clicking on anything when you should be doing something productive with your life.)

 (You know - like asking Dick Cheney if he'll agree to tell Congress everything he knows about Enron
if he's allowed to wear one of Hamid Karzai's sexiest robes while he does so.)