Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Another Setback for the Sacred Thunderbirds

I got my hopes up again. It was looking really good. The prospects were, as they say, ripe.

The television started reporting on a Thunderbird flyby two days ago. It seemed that New York City and Philadelphia were the specific locations of a Thunderbird flyby.

Well! says I. About time that the Sacred Thunderbird gets a good push-out!

Of course I shouldn't be driving to Philadelphia, but there is one place near my house where you can kinda sorta see Philadelphia. There's no such thing as a "high point" in my part of New Jersey, but there is one empty parking lot with a vague view.

So I went to that parking lot about 45 minutes before the worship of Sacred Thunderbird was scheduled to begin.

At first it was just me and two other cars in this big, wide parking lot. But slowly the lot began to attract more people. Not "oh my Gods I'm too close, I have to leave" numbers of people, but significant numbers of people. And off in the distance, over the Cooper River, a pair of Sacred Thunderbirds who seemed to be making their lazy way in our direction.

So many people arrived that I put on my mask. Not that anyone was too close, but there was a subdued excitement. Finally! Thunderbird worship on a grander scale! Should I lead? Should I follow? I had to remember to be humble. Not many people have been worshiping Thunderbirds as long as I have.

And then. Wouldn't you know.


I should have known, right? No respect for the real Thunderbird.

So it was this cluster of planes and then another of Blue Angels. Our tax dollars at work, my friends. Can't get a Covid test, but wow ... look at those planes!

They breezed right overhead, and really low too. I guess it was worth the 1 mile drive. Nice way to get out in the sunshine.

If you're jealous that you didn't get to see the Thunderbirds, take heart. There were 4,000 new cases of virus in New Jersey today. At least you aren't in New Jersey.

I guess the membership in the Church of the Sacred Thunderbird is back down to one. Oh well, at least there's one!

Stay safe, my friends.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dr. Annie's Guide To Beating the Deadly Coronavirus


Hello out there! Welcome to The Gods Are Bored Memorial Hospital! I know you are really interested in quick and easy remedies for the coronavirus. If you didn't see his briefing on April 23, our president offered the wisdom that injecting or ingesting disinfectant can cure the bug.

How about that? A splendid idea! Gotta tell you, my friends, I put out some lines of dishwasher detergent last night and snorted them. All of a sudden, I didn't care if I ever got the virus, or got a cure. I didn't even care to live, to be honest.

I was ready to try the ultraviolet light treatment the president recommended, too. I figured if I were to lay out in the bright sunshine for 8 hours nonstop, I would probably sterilize myself thoroughly. Promise you I'll try it on the next sunny day. It's pouring here in the Great Blue Northeast just now.

But President VillageIdiot is overlooking some other tried-and-true remedies for a novel virus the human body has never experienced before. Are you feeling under the weather? Try the following, and you'll live a long and happy life!

1. Dry Cat Food. Little known fact: Cat food cures everything from the heartbreak of psoriasis to ingrown toenails! Eat one bowl each day. Feed your cat the food you would otherwise be eating yourself. Omit salad.

2. Pothole Water. You know how water collects in those pesky potholes? Drink that right down! In addition to curing coronavirus, this will be a great colon cleanser.

3. Vitamins. Forget One-a-Day. Try One-Bottle-a-Day. Yes, take the whole bottle at once. Coronavirus is a dangerous foe! Halfway measures won't work.

4. Crayons. Hey, the box says non-toxic, right? Chow those puppies down! If you've got the big box of 64, you will be protected from coronavirus for 64 days! The magenta is particularly powerful.

5. Electricity. Since you were a little kid, people have been telling you not to stick a knife in an electrical outlet. Of course! You didn't need to, because you didn't have novel coronavirus! But now you should employ this sensible remedy. The searing pain and heart palpitations are unfortunate side effects, but hey ... hydroxychloroquine has pretty much the same effect.

6. Prayer. Petitions should be addressed to Yahweh and should be undertaken at a mega-church. Many of the mega-churches are open, because remember -- Jesus is stronger than the virus. Pay no attention to the people who couldn't get this to work! They were lacking in faith.

So there you have it. I feel fairly confident of all these treatments, because heck ... I took Health in high school and (if memory serves) passed with a solid C.



Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Joys of Teaching Online

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," banging my head against the wall edition! At the ripe young age of 50 I began a new career as a public school teacher. I've gotten better at it over the years, but it never came naturally. Now I'm in a whole brave new world, "virtual classroom."

Here's what a regular class period looks like for me, in  easy steps:

1. Get students going with a period of silent reading.
2. Get students to write a little something about what they read during silent reading.
3. Entertain the students with hyper-dramatic teaching for 10-15 minutes. In the lingo, this is a "mini lesson."
4. Students do an assignment based on the "mini lesson," while I walk around the room and make sure they are doing it.
5. If time permits, some students share their answers. Sometimes I "check for understanding" by having them tell me on an index card whether they get it or not.

One glance at this list will tell you how little of it can be done online. Basically I post an assignment on Google Classroom. Students can ask questions on their assignment document. There's a chat feature in Classroom. I can post grades on there.

Seemed like enough to me. After -- how many, I can't even count -- four weeks of remote learning, the motivated kids have done their assignments and asked questions as needed. The unmotivated kids (the ones I have to prod individually in the classroom) haven't done anything. It's either all or none.

And of course I have covered my kiester by calling parents and students who didn't do the work.

Now our assistant superintendent (Janie Junebug, I hope you're reading this!) has demanded that we have Meet-ups using audio and video through our computers. Attached to her chirpy email was "directions," consisting of six different documents with about 16 hyperlinks in each document.

It was hard enough already!

Once more I find myself hopelessly adrift in the world of computers. Me! Anne Johnson! The first person at a publishing house to have used a computer to generate encyclopedia entries!

The world has passed me by. I'm obsolete. Jesus, I wonder what it will be like when I'm 70 and still trying to eke a living from teaching? Or will I even make it? That second wave of Covid is going to hit when school is in session. Then maybe it really won't matter if I couldn't master Google Meet.

Okay, self-pity session over. What problems are you experiencing right now?

Sign me,
Clueless Annie

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Wartime Shopping

Hello and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," pandemic edition! The virus is still raging here in New Jersey, and we've got an at-risk household here at Chateau Johnson. May all the Goddesses of all the pantheons known and unknown protect us! (Spreading a wide net as usual!)

I'm trying to stay as far from people as I can in this densely populated state. It's not easy. Go out for a walk, lots of people. Can't go to the park in the next block, it's closed.

Alas, there's no avoiding the grocery store.

In this big and busy county of mine, there are innumerable grocery stores, including Whole (Paycheck) Foods and Wegman's. If you haven't heard of the latter, it's a pinky-in-the-air gigantic place that I wouldn't set foot in even before the pandemic. You couldn't hire me to go in there now. Of course Walmart is out of the question.

The borough of Haterfield has its own Acme supermarket, a very tiny little store in what used to be a Friends meeting house. I have always given this Acme my custom, since its workers are unionized and it's a bearable size. Even though I am now doing two weeks of shopping in one trip, I won't go to the mega stores.

My local Acme instituted senior citizen hours from 7-9 in the morning, which was very kind of them. This morning I arrived there promptly at 7:00, hoping the store wouldn't be crowded. It was crowded. Worse, there were so many things out of stock -- bananas, oranges, salad greens, fresh spinach. The shelves were empty. Forget about toilet paper or paper towels or hand sanitizer. The paper products aisle was emptiest of all.

I was trudging around in my bandanna, thinking about how this is like a war. No fresh tomatoes, but they had the specific brand of apple that Mr. J likes. No fresh poultry products at all. (I think there's an outbreak at a chicken processing plant in PA.) And silly things like Pam spray all sold out.

But the place was crowded, and people weren't following the arrows and footprints the Acme posted on the floor to help with social distancing. Not only that, most of the people in the store were indeed senior citizens, way older than me, and they were buying a little this, a little that. For the love of fruit flies, why?

Then again, I filled two carts with stuff, and it took me over an hour to unpack it all and put it away. I sure wouldn't want to try that at age 80.

But soft! A wee bit of luck! As I was checking out -- a process that took 30 good minutes -- I saw that the green grocer was putting out salad greens and bananas ... eureka! The things I was going to miss the most!

Now it's another two weeks before I'll need any foodstuffs. Still teaching from home, so there won't be any need to biff about.

How do the grocery stores look where you live? I'm not sure my little Acme is typical.

Yours in the trenches,

PS - I have been writing letters to the Monkey Man and getting some back.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Bittersweet Birthday

I have been blessed that both of my daughters have stayed in the Delaware Valley, where they were born and where Mr. J and I live. Therefore we are always together as a family on or near birthdays.

April 15, 2020 bid fair to be the first exception to the rule.

My daughter The Fair lives in Philadelphia, not far from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. So close, and yet so far! We're not supposed to engage in non-essential travel, and it would be dangerous to get near her, seeing as how she lives in a house with a Whole Foods worker and a bike deliveryman.

But damn. Her birthday. And the lilac bush is blooming ... her favorite flower.

So it was that I cut a few lilacs, put them in one of the glass bottles I scavenged from the middens on Polish Mountain, and Mr. J and I drove to Philadelphia.

It took us 15 minutes to get to her house. The traffic was about half what it would be for that time of the day.


We drove to her house. We stopped in the street and turned off the car. There's very little traffic on her tiny street on busy days.

We cried. We kept our social distance. I put the flowers on the sidewalk.

Then we talked for about a half hour, maybe a little more. Mostly about her job situation and pandemic funds and school plans deferred until next year. She looked good and healthy and about as happy as anyone can be in this situation, which is, you know, meh with a heaping dollop of anxiety.

It was the most bizarre birthday ever, and it didn't help when I got home and started going through old photographs just to get them in better order. When do people take photographs? At birthday parties! Those old pictures showed years and years of birthdays, going back to her first, which she celebrated in a bunny ears headband.

The next fraught occasion of this sort will occur on June 1, when the Heir has her birthday. We might have to do the same thing then. I'm really hoping that we will all be able to get together as a family by July 6, Mr. J's birthday. Right now I must say it isn't looking too hopeful.

So, Governor Murphy, if you want to give me a fine, I'll pay it. What price can one attach to missing a birthday when a daughter is a scant 7 miles away?

Yours in the trenches,

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

My Perilous Journey through Haterfield

Are you bored? Many Gods are. Seek them out in this time of trial and tribulation. One of them is bound to be available and easy to please. Our operators are standing by to take your call!

I live in Camden County, New Jersey. It's in the southern part of the state, and therefore not nearly as overrun with the killer virus as other areas. Still and all, there are 1400 cases of coronavirus in the county right now, including a reported 20 in Haterfield, where I live. Eighty people have died.

As contrast, on March 13 when I left my classroom and locked the door, there were 3 cases in Camden County.

I'm a woman of a certain age, married to a man who was hospitalized with pneumonia back before any of this got under way. You can best bet I am heeding all the warnings. It helps to read the New York Times every day, because they are pulling no punches in their descriptions of the course of the illness. To call it a blow-by-blow worst case scenario would be hitting the nail on the head.

When one is confined to one's home, surrounded by foodstuffs one amassed prior to any governmental decrees, one tends to wander into the kitchen to whip up a batch of cookies. Every day. This, of course, has led to the COVID 15, meaning weight gain.

Inevitably it becomes necessary to take a stroll outside.

There's a little county park nearby, but it is knee-deep in mud, and I have the ruined pants and shoes to prove it. Therefore, today I decided to walk through the small Haterfield downtown district. What a disaster.

First of all, everybody is saying that there's so much less traffic than usual. Nobody told Haterfield. The traffic is as bad as ever. There are lots of pedestrians, too. Most of them weren't wearing masks.

I had my bandanna on and my hoodie pulled up over my head, and my sunglasses. I know all that stuff won't protect me, but I am courteous.

Pure foolishness led me through the door of the small CVS on Haterfield's main street. There was an employee right inside the door. She was not wearing a mask.

I asked her, "Do you have toilet paper?"

"No!" she barked. Like to take my head off.

I did a 180 and got the hell out of Dodge as quick as I could. Perhaps it was my "thug chic" attire? Perhaps she has had to answer that question 1000 times? Maybe she's just not a nice person.

So I'm walking back toward home, down a street that I hoped wouldn't be crowded. There was a woman walking on the other side of the street, no mask, talking loudly on the phone. To whit:


I didn't hear the rest because I was holding my breath and sprinting in the other direction as fast as my flabby legs could take me.

Wowsa! The perils of walking in Haterfield!

Stay at home, my friends. I've learned my lesson. Tomorrow and for the unforseeable future I intend to sweep my floors briskly every day. Rake the yard even if it doesn't need it. Make my cookies heavier, so that I'll be working out by lifting them to my mouth.

No more Haterfield for me.

Thursday, April 09, 2020


I always precede posts about Bernie Sanders by noting that I voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election, even though I live in a Blue state and my vote meant less than nothing.

Having said that, I've never admired a politician more than I have admired Bernie Sanders.

He has pointed out the obvious for decades and has voted accordingly. He has never changed his position for the sake of expediency, except perhaps becoming anti-gun over the years.

When a handful of people sit atop mountains of lucre and flaunt their excessive lifestyles while the rest of us struggle with endless debts and uncertain employment, a great wrong is afoot in the country. Bernie called it out. Every damn day.

Don't expect Joe Biden to allude to this injustice. He's going to rely on Bloomberg money and fistfuls of dollars from other fat cats who will want business as usual when November has come and gone. He is an empty suit with a pretty smile, and I am seriously concerned about his ability to express himself. What is he going to do in a debate with Trump? Trump will lie, Joe will say, "You're lying," and that will be that.

Meanwhile the rich will get richer on the backs of the poor. Our younger generations will drown in debt and be unable to participate in the middle class lifestyle of their parents (which, in the case of this household, means having a house we have never paid for and never will).

And the latest tactic of the oligarchs? Pit the younger generation against the older. "Okay Boomer" is exactly what the one percent wants to hear.

As long as we had Bernie, we had someone who cared about the younger generation. Now we don't. Kids, it's sink or sink for you. Your options? I don't know, but whatever you decide to do, this Boomer is with you.

Bernie may be out of the race, but the need for Bernie rocks on. Power to the people.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Gods Save the Queen

She's never been touchy-feely. She's always been stiff and stuffy. At times she has been flat-out clueless.

But today, and always, I am asking the Bored Gods to save the queen of England.

It boggles the mind that Queen Elizabeth II is still alive and able to make a coherent speech, given that she was born in 1926 (five months before my long-deceased mother) and that she bravely contributed to the effort in World War II while a princess and heir to the throne.

I know she's a figurehead with no political standing in the UK. Still, she's a symbol of the continuity of rule by a series of fairly educated and benign monarchs. She may only be an old lady in pearls, but she descends from Queen Victoria and does it nicely.

When you contrast her message to the citizens of the UK with the horrible, dishonest, self-serving and insulting daily briefings our chief executive is offering, you can't help but wonder if we would have been better off if England had crushed the colonial rebellion in 1781.

View the queen's address here:

How are you getting along? I'm having some difficulties.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Go Directly To Jail, Moron Televangelist

Greetings, my friends, and a hearty virtual hug from Pastor Annie at "The Gods Are Bored!" You know, science is a wonderful thing. So is history. And when you're asked to shelter in place during a highly contagious pandemic, you're relying on science and history as your guides!

Of course, your stone cold moron element -- widely represented in America -- respects neither science nor history.

Hot off the press, here's a little tale of a televangelist inviting people from all over the country to a huge outdoor Easter ceremony. He wants it to be of Woodstock proportions, because Christians sheltering from the pandemic are just "pansies."

There are way too many people out there who think Jesus will protect them from anything, even when proven abundantly wrong, time and again. My dad taught Sunday School for 60 years, and Jesus didn't keep him from getting Parkinson's Disease and breaking his hip and dying of a heart attack. Hey, for a brief period in the 1960s I believed in Jesus healing the sick, but my prayers on my mother's behalf did not yield results ... in fact her condition worsened.

Well. I'm no dummy. Pray and don't get results? Either change the prayer, or change the God. Or both.

The particular pastor inviting a national flock for a shindig hasn't been following the news. There has already been one conservative pastor who has died in the prime of life after suggesting the disease is a hoax. And honestly, I don't mind that guy. He didn't invite a festival's worth of people to hug and kiss in the midst of a killer plague.

Mark my words. On Easter Sunday there is going to be a mighty flood of civil disobedience as the stupider brand of Christian heads out to harp and hosanna in numbers. I would say, have at it ... except that these "Jesus will protect me" morons will disperse into their communities and start killing dear old grannies right and left.

Chew on this, morons: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise? Put it another way. Will Jesus still rise from the dead if you don't go hug 300 people in a crowded church?

At least one televangelist has already been arrested, and the Pennsylvania dude in the linked story says he'll gladly go to jail over his big Woodstock Jesus bash. Okay. Lock them up! Menaces to society.

Hey, Christian kids! Are you worried about your granny getting sick if you go to church on Easter? Well, you should be. Let me tell you about religions that respect science and history and would never expect their members to put any human being in the path of a novel coronavirus! Jeez, where should I start? You want the whole list, or just the top 100?

Moron televangelists should go to jail, directly to jail. They should not pass Go. They should not collect $200. Lock. Them. Up.