Fecal Pushers

In July of 2013 I published this post. Given all that has happened in the U.S. and the world since then, especially the last 3-5 years politically, I thought this would be so very apropos to repost today. 😁 I hope you enjoy it (again?) as much as I did; good for a chuckle or two.

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After many years of practice, there are certain types who have mastered the art of shit-pushing and some who have not.  A quick menagerie of the art…


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One of my favorite caught-in-the-act corrections:  I wasn’t kissing your wife Sir.  I was whispering in her mouth!  Then find the nearest exit.

Two industries that most everyone would agree shovel out “pretty” bullshit on a regular basis have to be financial investment companies and sales personnel.  Hello Ma’am, you will be amazed by this latest iPhone…a must have!  Just $299 or $39 for 48 months for FAST 4G speeds and a ba-jillion apps you’ll probably never use!  Or Sir, you are going to be blown away by our new-fangled Hedge-that-Risk-Away fund with a simple monthly direct-debit from your checking account, plus initiation fees, handling, commission, and risk-management fees!

Sound familiar?

I could never be an aggressive sales rep and survive, unless I was selling donated organs to terminally ill patients and their families.  But there are some who can make the stinkiest bullshit smell like a rose garden.  And then there are those whose art is necessary, beneficial yet tragic.

The Clean-up Crew

Imagine living in a community that has no trash pickup and disposal, running indoor water/plumbing, no dishwashers, and no washing machines.  Would you cleanup after yourself, in every manner?  Would you cleanup after others, in every way?

Clean-up crew hard at work
Clean-up crew hard at work

Next time you are served a meal you cringe over, think twice about it because there are insects that would have a feast on your waste.  Actually, they do feast…and not just after humans.  Wherever there is fecal waste, there are most likely dung beetles.  They are life’s natural cleanup crew and they are remarkably resourceful.  They are tumblers, they are spelunkers, and they are dwellers.  They make the most of human or animal waste.

Dung beetles are a critical part of nature’s biocycle.  By eating and burying feces, dung beetles recycle vital nutrients into the soil and bury waste that otherwise attracts disease-carrying pests such as flies.  They also help new trees grow.  For example, in the rain forest, monkeys eat fruit where seeds are sometimes undigested.  When the dung beetle arrives at the aftermath, it packs up the feces into a ball, seeds and all, rolls it away and buries it.  Soon after up sprouts a new tree!  On a given night, one dung beetle can roll and bury up to 250 times its own weight in shit!  Imagine that workout.

But these hardworking necessary beetles don’t have it easy.

Shit-pushing Is No Walk in the Park

Every morning as part of my workout, I briskly walk 2-miles; one mile down, one mile up.  The hilltop I live on has about a 23-degree steep grade up or down for about 70-80 yards.  As I’m heading down the hill one morning, I notice in the middle of the drive a dung beetle perilously rolling his dung-ball across the cement.  Every so often he struggled to keep his dung-ball from turning down the steep hill.  Watching this beetle toil for his hard-earned shit, I couldn’t help but sympathize with his adversity.  I watched in amazement and suspense.  What would come of this beetle’s precarious effort?  Would he succeed and beat the odds?  Or would I be witness to horrific shit and beetle carnage?  The cliff-hanger moment was building with every revolution of his dung-ball.

The hill of dung carnage; blood & beetle parts edited out to protect the weak-stomachs.
The hill of dung carnage; blood & beetle parts blacked out to protect the weak-stomachs.

He crossed the midway point of the drive still pumping those hind-legs over his neatly packed shit.  Five more feet to go.  Can he do it?  Four feet.  I find myself cheering him on.  Three and a half.  Then he and his shit-ball hit a bump.  Should I intervene like the hand-of-God, showing mercy and compassion for the shit this beetle has put up with?  NO FRICKING WAY!  And then as my questions of shit-miracle-ing lingered, everything went south….literally.  I began laughing my ass off.  Everything was out of control.  The “wheels came off” but the rolling kept going, and going, and going!  If Herbert Morrison of the Hindenburg disaster had been there he would have screamed Oh the Bee-manity!

Sorry.  I should be more compassionate.  I should pay homage to this epic dung-beetle’s demise.  Let us bow our heads.

He was a brave shit artist.  The bravest I had ever seen.  He hung on to his shit-ball for five, maybe six revolutions down that hill-of-no-return!  Finally, the cruel speed and momentum….perhaps a killer, dizzying headache too, separated this warrior from his meal.  He tumbled two or three times behind that ball before coming to a most abrupt end.  In his never-say-die attitude, he scrambled to gain his senses, and immediately went searching for his runaway shit-ball.  But it was too late.  I watched that ball roll down the hill…way down the hill about 50 yards – two state lines in beetle distance I think – before bouncing off the drive into the ditch and disappearing in the grass.  It was gone.  Done.  This dung-expert had lost his shit.

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As utterly hilarious as I found this dung-beetle carnage to be, I had to find the teaching moment:  what is the moral of this story?

No matter how good or pretty smelling it is…don’t push your shit up hill.  You might lose it and it will come rolling back on you.

What moral of the story can you apply?  Let me hear them all, again.

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Footnote – on a cool entomological note, it has been recently discovered that these dung-beetles navigate their dung-balls by the stars in the Milky Way galaxy; their GPS if you will.  Click here.

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A Bright Future for Our USMNT

For my handful of fellow footballing/soccer enthusiasts on WordPress like Ark (South Africa & England) of A Tale Unfolds, John Z (Australia & Brazil) of The Superstitious Naked Ape, Brian (England) of Butterflies to Dragsters, Hariod (England) at Contentedness who has unfortunately been absent for some time now, Swarn (Canadian) of Cloak Unfurled also absent from here quite awhile, and any others who are passionate about the world’s Most Beautiful Game, I wanted to post a precursor of U.S. Men’s footballing hopes leading up to the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Africa, this November. Also, to start a bit of chatter and fun banter back-n-forth of our various national teams and favorite players.

USA vs N. Ireland – March 2021 – L to R back row: Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Matt Miazga, Aaron Long, Theoson Siebatcheu, Zack Steffan; front row L to R: Yunus Musah, Kellyn Acosta, Sergiño Dest, Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna

If the U.S.A. starting lineup can remain healthy between now and Nov. 20th when the Cup begins and during their individual club seasons, the Yanks can show very well. Plus, the U.S. is in a decent Group B and should advance to the next round either as the runner-up team of the Group or possibly the winner, if… and this is a huge ask, IF we can beat Iran and Wales, and perhaps draw with England to move on to the Round of 16.

But I must reiterate, if our first-team starters can stay injury-free between now and Dec. 3rd or 4th, then we have a decent-to-good chance of doing well in the Round of 16 and possibly advancing to the Quarter-finals! The Quarters are the farthest the USMNT has ever advanced in recent modern times. The last time we went that far was with our historically best national team roster ever: the FIFA WC 2002 in Japan/S. Korea. We lost to Germany by a score of 0 — 1, but competed pretty well.

Why do we American fans have much to be excited about? Because we have at least seven (7) great starters by any world-footballing measurements. From exceptional-to-very-good, in my professional opinion, best to last, here are our top 7, Tier One U.S. players:

  1. Christian Pulisic (23y/o) – Forward, Chelsea FC
  2. Weston McKennie (23y/o) – Midfielder, Juventus
  3. Giovanni Reyna (19y/o) – Forward, Borussia Dortmund
  4. Zack Steffen (27y/o) – Goalkeeper, Man. City
  5. Sergiño Dest (21y/o) – Defender, FC Barcelona
  6. Tim Weah (22y/o) – Forward, Lille
  7. Tyler Adams (23y/o) – Midfielder, Leeds United

One of our brightest upcoming stars on the world stage of football is by far and away Gio Reyna. Giovanni has recently endured an injury-prone last 12-14 months with a nagging hamstring. But once he is fully healthy and back to full-strength, watch out! Enjoy these highlights of our 19-y/o phenom:

For us to have a good chance of advancing out of the Group stage and out of the Round of 16, these seven players must remain healthy and playing their A-game. Without our big three—Pulisic, Reyna, and McKennie—we stand no chance of going deep into the tournament. If they fall, we could be or will be coming home early. World Cup fans, keep your eyes on these U.S. players. Because if they perform at their very best and link-up, then the U.S. will be a threat for any national team in the tournament.

Moving on to our good potential Tier Two squad players to watch, they are as follows:

  1. Paul Arriola (27y/o) – Forward, FC Dallas
  2. Matt Turner (28y/o) – Goalkeeper, Arsenal
  3. Christian Roldan (27y/o) – Midfielder, Seattle Sounders
  4. Brenden Aaronson (21y/o) – Forward, Leeds United
  5. Walker Zimmerman (29y/o) – Defender, Nashville SC
  6. Jesus Ferreira (21y/o) – Forward, FC Dallas
  7. Antonee Robinson (25y/o) – Defender, Fulham FC
  8. Luca de la Torre (24y/o) – Midfielder, Celta de Vigo
  9. Yunus Musah (19y/o) – Midfielder, Valencia
  10. Kellyn Acosta (27y/o) – Midfielder, L.A. FC

And finally our Tier Three squad players:

  1. DeAndre Yedlin (29y/o) – Defender, Inter Miami
  2. Reggie Cannon (24y/o) – Defender, Boavista
  3. Ricardo Pepi (19y/o) – Forward, FC Augsburg
  4. Sean Johnson (33y/o) – Goalkeeper, NYC FC
  5. Ethan Horvath (27y/o) – Goalkeeper, Luton Town FC
  6. John Brooks (29y/o) – Defender, Hertha BSC
  7. Cameron Carter-Vickers (24y/o) – Defender, Celtic
  8. Haji Wright (24y/o) – Forward, Antalyaspor
  9. Djordje Mihailovic (23y/o) – Midfielder, CF Montréal
  10. Aaron Long (29y/o) – Defender, NY Red Bulls
  11. George Bello (20y/o) – Defender, Arminia Bielefeld
  12. Chris Richards (22y/o) – Defender, Crystal Palace FC
  13. Malik Tillman (20y/o) – Midfielder, Rangers/Bayern Munich

As you may have noticed, as of this date the USMNT is noticeably weakest in defense, particularly center defense with the exception of Zimmerman. Walker is reliably consistent, but he is not prolific with his pace or ball-technique. He is fairly strong in the air. And Sergiño Dest (Left Back) is our best attacking wing-fullback followed by Antonee Robinson (Right Back). However, Antonee is known to be inconsistent with his attacking decisions and he sometimes is too direct and shows reckless abandon with the ball in those moments. This recklessness gets him into yellow-card trouble.

USMNT – Champions of 2021 CONCACAF Nations League, 3 – 2 over Mexico

Our older veterans in the squad, such as Steffen, Yedlin and Brooks, do offer good European footballing intelligence in very competitive European leagues, however, with perhaps the exception of Steffen, none of them are of Tier One quality to impact games significantly.

Despite our rather shallow bench of little elite European experience, I am personally super thrilled about our likely USMNT potential in Qatar this World Cup, as well as our future eight years. So Ark, John Z, Brian, and any other chatty footballing fanatics, what do your Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti minds think? Tell me about your national teams and favorite players. What are your expectations for the sporting world’s biggest spectacle on Earth since 1930? Any predictions on who will be in the Final?

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Play Football!

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Omicron Ba.4 and Ba.5

Since December 2019 I have been hyper-vigilant in following every single viral protocol and government mandate regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its nonstop variants and subvariants. I’ve been glad to do so not just for my own health and safety, but also as a team-player in the ongoing war of national public health and safety for all Americans. Having played team sports all my life, I completely understand why it must be done; been doing it for over two years. I promote the basic ideals of being a TEAM player in this war against an invisible enemy.

For me it was a no brainer, right? January 21, 2020 that (invisible) enemy known as COVID-19 from Wuhan, China, was quickly spreading. There was no doubt whatsoever it was going to hit our U.S. ports of entry. Like a scourge never before seen in human history it was going to hit our shores, invade the lungs and bodies of millions upon millions of Americans and kill them—1,064,207 dead and counting. And as predicted, that’s exactly what happened. It still continues killing today and for the foreseeable future.

On August 8th, 2022, over two years later in my fight against COVID, I lost my undefeated battle-record following a trip to Dallas, TX for my best friend’s Celebration of Life ceremonial funeral. With triple-digit temperatures in DFW and across most of the state of Texas during the entire month of July and into August, everybody was staying inside with A/C for any event or gathering between 10am and 10pm. This included my good friend’s ceremony. No one, not a single person there was wearing any mask or social-distancing despite the COVID Omicron subvariants Ba.4 and Ba.5 spreading like wildfire throughout the entire state.

This general apathy was true again Sunday night, August 7th, at one of my all-time favorite Goth Industrial Steampunk EBM dance clubs, The Church. No masks anywhere, no social-distancing in the least. By Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 9th–10th, I had every single Omicron Ba.4 or 5 symptom listed and I tested positive Wednesday morning. I was deathly ill by then. That night I had hallucinations in my terribly uncomfortable, broken sleep. By that point in time I had already exposed my Mom and sister to the virus over 2 1⁄2 days.

Three days later while I was in my 7-10 day isolation, Mom tested positive. Only by the slimmest, luckiest margins my sister never tested positive the four days she was with us indoors helping with meals and basic daily tasks. Remarkable actually.

This past Tuesday, the 16th, I finally tested negative and came out of my quarantine. I really had no choice because the last four days my sister could no longer come inside with us. The house was a mess, especially the kitchen due to Mom’s fatigue and severe dementia. I had to hit the ground running. Many daily tasks and chores had gone undone for over a week. Mom ends her quarantine this Saturday, Aug. 20th, if she tests negative tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I still have a runny nose presently, mucus-phlegm congestion in my throat and chest, persistent coughing, along with fatigue after extended periods of physical exertion. Our family PPO practitioner has informed me that I cannot get reinfected by the same subvariant I gave to Mom. However, I can indeed get reinfected by any other variants and subvariants of COVID. Each reinfection raises my risks of long-term or permanent health problems with other bodily organs and systems. He also informed me that symptoms can persist for weeks or months after quarantine, possibly (but rarely) for the rest of my life. 😔 I can say this with utter conviction, breathing is more difficult now 3-4 days after testing negative.

I do not wish this virus on anyone. It is terrible and possibly damages your health systems long-term. And myself, Mom, and my sister, we are all fully vaccinated (2 doses) and fully boostered (2 more doses) and absolutely plan to get boostered next month for the Omicron subvariants. I can’t imagine what HELL we would’ve experienced had Mom and I not been maximally protected by those four Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Recently, most all U.S. states have dropped their entire COVID mandates and protocols despite the skyrocketing cases of Omicron infections across the nation. This is a massive mistake! Furthermore, I tried diligently to report my COVID infection as well as my Mom’s, but could not do so. Why? State governments now require that only clinically approved testing sites can report new cases to the county and state agencies, like the CDC. There are likely hundreds or thousands of new cases/infections not being reported because like us, we tested with At Home Antigen Test Kits. These positive results are not accepted by county and state databases. Hence, if your county health center reports for example only 10 new cases in a day or 23 new cases in a week, it is very wise to add maybe 15-20 more cases on top of that… give or take 50 more infected people. 🙄🤦‍♂️ That’s just a random guess on my part given our small populated area/county here in Kerrville. If you reside in a large metropolitan area, it’s wise to add a lot more cases to what public agencies report. Believe me, their numbers are far too low!

This biological war is by no means over, it’s not even in decline. As long as all of us refuse to declare war on COVID by abiding by protocols and mandates, wear masks, social-distance, stay away from large indoor crowds, and test, test, test… this deadly virus will just keep morphing into smarter, stronger new variants and subvariants. That’s simple cytology and biology folks.

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Music To Soothe & Lift Our Spirits

In these present, troubling, and daunting times on Earth, on our various continents, and my own continent of North America and the United States, I often find solace in music; from 18th- and 19th-century classical music to my more modern childhood and teenage years of great music. For the last four days or more I have been compiling many of my own favorites from the 1970’s and many that are mainstream, but not necessarily what I personally would choose as my own. Eh, we must think outside of ourselves at times, right? 😉

Without further ado I present my 170+ classic great songs (more less) from the golden age of 1969-ish to 1979. Hope you enjoy these hours of tunes as much as myself, and my Mom—yes, my Mom introduced me to many of these artists when I was a boy—here or on my YouTube playlist: Great Pop & Rock Hits of the 1970’s

Addendum — Due to YouTube’s/Google’s unknown international playing, viewing, copyright laws, etc., across national-regional borders, some or many songs in my playlist are not visible or playable. To rectify this unintended (on my part) inconvenience, Click here for a complete playlist of all songs & artists. Then should you choose, you may find the track in your country’s YouTube site. Happy listening and dancing!

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Learn Always

Dementia Update

As some of you know or have noticed over the years, I am unable to post on a consistent regular basis as I once did my first decade on WordPress. My commenting and participation on other blogs I enjoy following, sadly has become very limited as well. If you are fairly new to my blog, visiting, or browsing WP, the reason there are much fewer posts is due to my Mom’s Stage 5 Dementia, which is really now well into early symptoms of Stage 6 with fewer mixes now or crossover with Stage 5.

In my December 2021 post about her cognitive decline I listed and briefly explained all the various stages. As of 2022, it seems the general consensus of all the seven stages are known and what the adult children of parents with dementia, or early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, can expect. Here is Stage 6 according to Dementia.org:

Stage 6: Moderately Severe to Severe Dementia

When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:

  • Delusional behavior
  • Obsessive behavior and symptoms
  • Anxiety, aggression, and agitation
  • Loss of willpower

Patients may begin to wander, have difficulty sleeping, and in some cases will experience hallucinations.

Mom shows all of those four bullet-points now, although three of the four on some days and then perhaps two of the four other days. But there is always at least two of four every single day. She definitely needs supervision at minimum 12-16 hours per day with some of that time (1-hr at most) a check-in or Q&A time sporadically with her throughout the day to gauge how she’s getting along.

Friends and neighbors sometimes ask me how I am doing, how I’m managing my own health and social needs. Apparently, Caretakers of elderly parents with dementia or Alzheimer’s are often overwhelmed in a period time if they receive no relief, no break for themselves and don’t become well-informed of the two diseases. Another thing I’ve heard from the support-group I attend once a month is that the role of caretaker is usually a thankless job/role. Since late-stage dementia is basically early Alzheimer’s Disease, Alz.org lists Ten Symptoms of Caregiver Stress. I currently tick 9 out of 10 symptoms. The biggest reason why? I’ve been going non-stop, no break, every single day and night as her full-time, live-in caretaker since mid-August 2021, or over 47-weeks straight with no respite.

Back in late April of this year I was supposed to get a much needed 6-day, 5-night vacation up in Dallas, my hometown where all my good friends still live. We had several plans made and fun, exciting things to do, dancing, umm… and maybe some drinking included! 😉 But here’s what happened that week/weekend that changed everything: In Memoriam to My Brother. Hence, no real vacation for me at all. I spent the vast majority of my time at the hospital sitting with James, followed by waiting (alone) in my hotel room some 4-5 days and nights for decisions and details about his funeral. I had no motivation to go out alone or with friends; I wasn’t great company then anyway.

So yeah, over 47-weeks now and still counting.

Meanwhile, Mom and I march on, day-in and night-out, fighting a cognitive disease that takes a little more brain-space from her than we can actually replace or take back. But we do have our victories here and there. That’s when Mom wants to celebrate big with either glasses of her Pinot Grigio or I make a pitcher of my world famous El Presidente margaritas, which have a good patada de toro to the ass or head, whichever it reaches first. Hah! 🍸🥳 These are our cherished good times and there will come a day when they aren’t possible. And so we enjoy them thoroughly, when we can, and at length for sure. Do you know what I mean? 😍

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Learn Always

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