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January 23, 2022

© 2022 Michael Tomano / Fossil Entertainment Group

The Quarantine Diaries

Friday, January 21, 2022

Wednesday, I arrived at the radio station pre-dawn and noticed my nose was runny. Shortly after beginning my show, I visited the bathroom and, in addition to relieving coffee-fueled urine that spurred said visit, I lapsed into a sneezing fit.

Being the concerned, compassionate co-worker that I am, I warned my on-air partner Rob of my symptoms and, mid-show, asked our manager, Tammy, to lay one of the Covid tests on me. It came back positive, I cleaned the studio, gathered my stuff, and headed home. (Rob has tested negative. Full disclosure: Because he is Vulcan.)

Located in the north-end of my house is my bedroom, attached to my library, which has its own bathroom. It is within this triumvirate of rooms that I have been sequestered since Wednesday morning, my wife and daughter leaving medicine, vitamins, meals, water, ginger ale, and warm wishes at the door. I am visited by my beloved feline, Buttercup, as well, who snuggles, flops over for belly rubs and purrs in blissful content as I brush her ever-shedding coat.

I grabbed several books, and have been binging on YouTube videos, a variety of questionable movies and on-line Words with Friends. Phone calls from friends have provided welcomed interruptions to the monotony of reading, sleeping, and internet surfing.

Covid has changed the world. Understatement of the century, sure, but it’s the levels of change that send one down a path of ponderance during isolation. Obviously, it’s an aggressive virus that has caused a great amount of death.

Beyond that, it has destabilized economies, grown billionaires, destroyed careers, alienated families, and dominated the news cycle going on three years. It has become the arena where future battles of personal freedom, health care, politics and class structure will be fought.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

When you’re bedridden, the day seems divided into napping, medicine taking, and finding activities to pass time . Imprisoned in my bedroom, I’ve been awakened several times by neighbors’ dogs barking from being left too long in the cold, the odd motorcyclist challenging winter and the thumpity-thump of hip-hop from bass woofers that cost more than the car they are installed in.

I suffer from Misophonia, my triggers being slurping, chewing, plate-scraping, dog barking, loud car stereos, and revving engines. I’m sure the list will grow. Some sufferers of this condition panic at certain sounds, others become irritated or enraged. I belonging to the latter. The latest addition to noises-that-set-me-off list is the p.a. announcement tone at Goodwill. Why so loud?

There is no medical consensus on the causes of Misophonia, but there are treatments and disciplines one can apply to deal with it.

There are actual conventions that take place in Oregon and California for sufferers, my fellow “Misophoniacs”. I never could attend, due to “crowd murmur” being one of my triggers. Not that I’d attend one in the first place.

As he (she? they?) is apt to do beginning each year, The Grim Reaper is workin’ overtime, snatching Louie Anderson and Meat Loaf from the Earth.

Closer to home, Bill Jackson passed away.

Bill was a very creative cat who produced and hosted a couple of classic Chicago television kids shows from the late ‘60s through the ‘70s, The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show and Gigglesnort Hotel.

The BJ & Dirty Dragon Show, with awesome grotesque characters such as Dirty Dragon, The Old Professor, Mother Plumtree and Weird, was a staple of my young viewing. Jackson wrote and produced the shows. In addition to portraying the “mayor” BJ, he also designed the puppets and built the sets for the show.

Interspersed into each show’s plot were cartoons like Underdog and Popeye, and the carving of the town’s monument “Blob”, a mound of clay, into something like a house or airplane.

In the mid-70s, the more education-based spin-off Gigglesnort Hotel debuted with most of the same characters and a few additions. (Jackson cited Fawlty Towers as an influence.)

I remember my father taking me to Ford City Mall for a BJ and Dirty Dragon appearance. The center court was packed with families. As I must have been four or five years old, the memory is a blur, other than the throng of attendees. I also seem to remember streams of smoke coming from Dirty Dragon’s nostrils, in addition to the dozens of people smoking inside the mall. Shopping malls in the 70s had floors littered with cigarette butts. Back then, mall maintenance included butt collection, conducted by a worker with a long broom on a swivel. Wonder how the Mall Butt Sweeper gig paid.

Bill Jackson was a polymath and a craftsman whose work during Chicago’s Golden Age of Television is legendary. He is part of a Chicago television legacy that includes Frazier Thomas and his Garfield Goose & Friends and, of course, Ray Rayner. Bill Jackson built a world of imagination filled with characters he created, a very early influence on my dreams of shaping a creative career.

I saw a news item that stated George Clooney and Julia Roberts have fled a movie set in Australia after a Covid outbreak found crew members “dropping like flies.”

I’m interested in the origins of idioms, so down the rabbit hole I went. “Dropping like flies” means a “decrease in large numbers during a short period of time”. The earliest printed occurrence of the phrase dates to May of 1902 in The Atlanta Constitution newspaper. The phrase refers to the short life span of a housefly, which averages twenty-eight days. The superior, and more formidable, horsefly can live up to sixty days. Both eat poop. In fact, many insects practice Coprophagy, or poop eating. Most are flies or beetles. Mother Nature’s clean-up crew. Believe me, you could spend a lot of time researching the role of insects, and poop, in nature.

Termites build their nests out of their own excrement. Ironically, they live in a shithole while attempting to turn your home into one. Other insects utilize systems of waste removal. Leaf-cutting Ants dump their waste outside of the nest, which removes hazardous pathogens from the colony. Ant colonies divide their labor force between foragers and waste management, reducing contamination of the foragers. To paraphrase Bob Hope, "I wanna tell ya, that's some wild shit! Is that shit wild?"

Dung Beetles live on poop. Some dung beetles are “rollers.” There job is to roll shit into large round balls for the big feast. Next are the “tunnelers” of the Dung Beetle Factory (great name for a band!). Tunnelers bury shit for meals, egg depositing and upcoming holiday gatherings.

Along wif the ol’ rollers and tunlas are the “dwellers.”

Dwellers don’t roll or bury feces, for their commitment to the cause is transcendent. Our beloved dung beetle dwellers have forsaken the athletic feats of rollers and cast aside the pragmatic practices of the tunneler. The Dweller has taken the Dung Beetle gig to the Zen state of living in it. Isn’t that what it’s all about.

There is a giant metaphor within the construct of the dung beetle variety. We’ve all been The Roller, gathering up as much shit as we can. Shit, he works hard, he deserves it. The Roller is the Ayn Rand of Dung Beetles.

"What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can't stand still. It must grow or perish.” - Ayn Rand

The Tuneler is utilitarian. The Tuneler is burying what it finds for meals and for females to lay eggs in. The Tuneler diversifies only slightly in its shit porfoltio. The Tuneler is the Warren Buffet of Dung Beetles

"Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing." — Warren Buffett

And, older and wiser, we become The Dweller. Here’s my life, I’m livin’ it. I shall thrive within the confines of my shit world. That’s the spirit! The Dweller is the freakin’ Buddha of Dung Beetles!

African dung beetles utilize The Milky Way to navigate travel and orient themselves. Who among us can do that? Talk about having your shit together.

In closing, I offer a fun fact about dung beetles: A single dung beetle can drag 1,141 times its own weight, which is the equivalent of a human being pully six double-decker buses.

And we were taught eating spinach made us stronger.

Touché Popeye.

Peace, MT.


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