CSotD: Marooned on an Accessible Island

Ivan Ehlers captures my mood as I watch the nation’s dialogue degenerate into what seems like a contest to see who can screw things up more: Protesters who increasingly seem like rebels without a plan or politicians determined to turn molehills into active volcanos.

I feel like a spectator, unable to either reason with the players or slap the stupid out of them, in what may be the final act of this farce and this country.

And the dark laugh in this cartoon is that the world has become so dynamically interconnected that there’s no place to flee to.

In the days of the boat people following the Vietnam War, I made friends with a former senior diplomat from Cambodia, who explained his nation’s shifting alliances by saying there were no truly non-aligned nations, that everybody had to choose an ally/sponsor among China, the USSR or America. He explained that America was the farthest away, which made them the best choice.

Distances, however, don’t matter anymore, and there are no good choices unless you decide to go Robinson Crusoe and spend your days on some remote island. Tristan da Cunha looks good, neighboring Inaccessible Island looks even better.

Never mind. Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.

Not everyone wants to play out their days somewhere remote, and this F-Minus (AMS) is sadly true.

When my elder son finished his apprentice training in the Navy with high marks, thus earning a prime choice of assignments, his classmates said, “You’re lucky! You won’t have to go overseas!” which puzzled him since he assumed people joined the Navy with just that in mind.

But, sure enough, whenever his ship put in at a port-of-call, many of his shipmates would quickly find a Burger King or similar place nearby, while he would head for a local restaurant and tell the waiter “Bring me what you would order for yourself.”

I gather there’s a lot of culinary isolationism amongst American tourists as well, which makes it equally puzzling that they bother leaving home at all.

There is, near as I can tell, no Burger King on Tristan da Cunha, and certainly not on Inaccessible Island.

Speaking of what’s for dinner, today’s Lockhorns (AMS) jibes with a conversation I had yesterday about grocery shopping, and specifically about wives who send their husbands to shop.

My opinion is that the cook should do the shopping, and during my married-with-children years, I cooked nearly all the meals and did nearly all the shopping.

But I’d see men with lists, the horselaugh being that many of them would wander back and forth throughout the store because they were getting the items in the order they were on the list rather than in the order they were in the aisles.

Once cell phones entered things, it got worse. Though I’ve never seen anyone livestreaming their shopping like Leroy, I certainly see them on the phone checking in with headquarters to make sure they get what they’d been sent for.

Things are getting better: I see a lot of young men not only shopping sensibly these days but often with toddlers in the cart. I’m guessing these guys also do a fair share of the cooking, and they may even be able to tell which is the washer and which is the dryer.

Ben (MWAM) has been doing a story arc about his son-in-law turning 40, which he — and, obviously, his kids — see as nearly the end of the line.

I hope that’s an outdated concept, or at least that he’ll realize things aren’t so bad, because my 40s were my favorite decade: I had a terrific girlfriend, a job I liked and the vigor to still enjoy life. My boys, contrary to his, were nearly grown and thus capable of mowing the lawn or shoveling snow.

I’d do my 40s over again in a heartbeat.

Speaking of outdated concepts, the Flying McCoys (AMS) left me scratching my head not because I don’t get the joke, which I like, but because I wonder if I even own a pair of cufflinks anymore.

Mind you, this guy is intended to be a stuffed shirt, or I should say, a stuffed bespoke shirt, because it’s been a very long time since I bought a shirt with French cuffs.

You used to have to go to England to find bespoke shirts, because over here we had custom-made shirts instead. “Bespoke” is one of those Britishisms that has snuck into our language. It’s the same as “custom-made” but costs 30% more.

I suspect that “bespoke” is considered a silly word even in England. Language is, as Humpty Dumpty said, a matter of who is to be master, and, to use another Britishism, I’m leaving “bespoke” to the “toffs.”

Along with their cufflinks.

Frazz (AMS) raises the question of what dogs eat and why they eat it.

A more interesting question is what dogs won’t eat, aside from pills. A lot of dogs refuse to see veggies as food, others chow down on them eagerly, and I’ve had a couple of dogs who wouldn’t touch chicken giblets, which is puzzling given the ghastly things they find to eat outside.

Gary Larson raised the boredom issue years ago, and my theory is that, given that they have an extra smell-detector in their mouth and can sense one part in a gazillion, they must be more or less tripping continuously, even when they don’t have their heads out the car window shotgunning smells.

It’s possible that, while dog food seems bland to us, it’s fabulous stuff if you can detect the wonders it contains, as the little girl suggests.

It’s also possible that dogs are tripping hard enough that they don’t realize it’s the same thing they had yesterday, which somewhat fits Frazz’s hypothesis.

It being Saturday, deAn offers a more concise interview than you’ll hear this morning on Morning Edition, which goes particularly artsy-fartsy on Saturdays.

I could picture this as a Monty Python or Beyond the Fringe skit, but there’s an advantage in graphic humor in that you can get in and get out quickly without belaboring the gag.

Then again, there is delight in a mock interview stretched to absurd lengths, particularly if it concerns things that a dog might eat but that I would not.

12 thoughts on “CSotD: Marooned on an Accessible Island

  1. I wish to defend the man on the phone at the store.

    She has a preference. The store doesn’t have it. At the very least, he needs to set her expectations that he will bring home a substitute. And yes she broke the rule about the cook doing the shopping.

    And to lay the sexist subtext of this trope to rest, I will note that if I break the rule and she is shopping for me, I can likewise expect a deluge of texts that follow the formula of “they don’t have X, they only have Y, will that do?”

    And it doesn’t matter how well I know a store’s map, if I don’t follow the list in the order presented, I will forget something, even if it’s my own list.

    1. I pointedly follow the list, which is not in the order that the grocery’s shelves are laid out, for the benefit of walking more. Long ago I willingly submitted to the tyranny of a phone app that tracks my movements during the day and warns me when I’m being too sedentary (it also credits my bicycle time, which is why I tolerate it). I hate walking for the sake of making distance, don’t mind walking when I’m actually doing something. So I’m not necessarily into efficiency of movement when grocery shopping.

    2. Nothing sexist about it. I wouldn’t have expected then-wife to do the shopping since she rarely did the cooking. And when she did cook — which she was very good at — she did the shopping for that meal because she did have preferences and could make whatever substitutions were required.

      I don’t object to one phone call every three or four times you go. I’m talking about phoning five times in a single trip or just keeping the thing on your ear the entire time. As noted, younger guys seem a lot less helpless at this stuff, but the bottom line is that if you send someone to the hardware store who doesn’t know the difference between a crescent wrench and a pair of pliers, that’s on you.

  2. Just write the list in at least roughly the order in which things appear in the store.

    1. “Rewrite” the list, you mean. The list is generally written in the order needs are recognized. It could evolve over a week. Another reason why the person who wrote the list should fulfill the list.

  3. In our house, since we both hate to grocery shop, the fairest solution is that we do it together. If nothing else, this has given both of us some really good insight into each other’s preferences, to the point that when scheduling demands that only once person is available on (Wednesday) grocery day, that person can fudge the other’s preferences with about 90% accuracy – which is completely acceptable.

    Maggie, however, has just changed the CVS at which she pharmacy tech’s. Which means there’s going to be a change in schedule, which means her automatic Wednesday’s off may not continue. If this happens I’m going to be doing the majority of the grocery shopping. No real problem, although it’ll mean I’ll be hitting a rotation of the four grocery stores within bicycle commuting distance (we use the car, however, due to load carrying), rather than the one closest to the house which is where she’ll shop all the time.

    Your opening comment on the Ivan Ehlers’ comic really hit home, to me the most profound thing you’ve written in a while. My sister and brother-in-law are seriously considering leaving the US depending on how the election goes. My reply to her comment was, “You’re lucky. You can afford it, and have enough equity that another country would be willing to take you, even at your age.” (We’re all seniors, she’s seven years younger.)

  4. I was going to say the only reason I eat at places like Burger King is because they’re cheaper than actual restaurants, but than caught myself because that clearly isn’t true anymore.
    I only eat there because they send me a TON of coupons as junkmail…

    The “men don’t know how to shop” is every bit an offensively sexist stereotype as “women know zilch about cars”, but is actually funny. Damn you, Henry Slinkman! YOU AND YOUR OYSTERS!!!

    I’m going to be 40 in a couple of years, which is baffling because I certainly don’t feel it.
    The 30s have actually been some of the best years of my life. It was my 20s that sucked hardcore. I get the notion that my 40s will be even better.

    We had a cat that my mom would get several varieties of cat food for. Chicken, fish, beef… the only thing he refused to eat was liver, so we stopped getting it for him.
    However, and I swear I am not making this up, he would go absolutely NUTS for corn. Whenever my mom would make some with dinner, he’d totally lose it. After serving it she would give him some leftover and he’d scarf it down in seconds.
    Never ever seen a cat go so crazy for any vegetable before.
    I miss him…

  5. For grocery shopping try a cross-platform app, such as To Do, with a shared list. That way both people can add items which automagically appear on both phones. Check things off as you go.


    1. And if you’re concerned about whether random list app X is legit (a real, if uncommon issue), and you have an android phone, you probably already have Google Keep Notes installed, which is really all you need for a grocery list.

  6. Our dog is on a special prescription low-fat diet because she has the pancreas of a bicycle, which is to say virtually none. We find this hilarious because one of her favorite pastimes is eating old flat crap off the ground. We chide her, “Hey, that’s not on your diet!” and she looks at us like “I yam what I yam!” The only thing she absolutely refuses to eat is black olives, which, fine, everyone’s entitled to like what they like but, again, she eats old flat crap off the ground and I have to believe olives are better.

    You wrote something long ago that I think of nearly every time we dog walk, to the effect that with a dog’s acute sense of smell, they’re living in an entirely different world we can’t imagine that must be like a 24/7 acid trip. That bush may look the same as it did yesterday to you or me, but it obviously smells completely different, and after a rainstorm OH BOY! A whole new universe of rainbows! Two symbiotic species, totally different experiences.

    My 30s and 40s were all right, although I didn’t much care for my jobs in those decades. Really, my 50s were prime for me. Kids were successfully launched, my career was in an agreeable place, I was still in good shape and about as healthy as I’d ever been. In my head, I still feel like I’m about 35. I think what changes as you age is palpable realization that the clock is ticking. “This too shall pass” fits every situation.

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