des moines, Faith and Values, humor, Iowa, People

HOT SHEET: The joy of mother’s cooking when we can’t be together

Seconds, please.

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, 24th Street bureau, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONLY: I ate my mother’s food on Thanksgiving Day.

This simple declarative sentence would be unimpressive in any other year.

But we know damn well this is not any other year.

This is the year of COVID, social distancing and lockdowns.

Parents 2.0, the kindly east Des Moines couple who raised me after my parents died, delivered turkey with all the fixings to my apartment at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

I greeted them in my robe, slippers and, of course, a mask.

They wore masks, too.

Mom 2.0 gave instructions on reheating.

I took the box lid full of food in my arms.

My parents drove off to make similar deliveries to others in the family.

We didn’t hug.

We didn’t bump elbows.

That’s not really our family style.

The love was in the box.

Mom 2.0 called about a week before Thanksgiving. She discovered a frozen turkey in the basement deep freeze of their stately east Des Moines manor.

She decided she would cook a big dinner with all the fixings. She and Dad 2.0 would eat at home together and then go delivering meals to the family.

Thanksgiving is fellowship and family. COVID stole that from many of us this year.

Our family is old-fashioned. We like turkey on Thanksgiving and we listen to doctors when they tell us to social distance and wear masks in a pandemic.

I have not tasted my mother’s cooking in nearly a year. We gathered for Christmas. I got pneumonia in February. COVID and social distancing came in March.

My parents are healthy, but they are both 71. I am 45, obese with occasional asthma.

The desire to get together grew with each passing week of the pandemic. It just seemed like a bad idea.

I couldn’t live with the idea that I brought potentially life-threatening sickness to Parents 2.0, these beautiful souls who rescued me in my mid-teens when I was so vulnerable and alone.

In the strictest sense of the word, I was alone Thanksgiving Day.

But if I closed my eyes, I could see my mom as she streaked through the kitchen, checked the turkey, chopped the veggies for the salad, mixed the stuffing, stirred the gravy and yanked the scalloped corn out of the oven just as the top layer got crispy.

I could see my dad, too. There aren’t many roles for others in my mom’s kitchen. She is both maestro and orchestra.

But there are a thousand honey-dos. Set the table. Bring the cook a glass of water with ice. Run the beaters through the mashed potatoes to knock out the last of the lumps.

And, of course, cut the turkey with the fancy double-bladed electric knife. Dad 2.0 is a wiz on that thing.

I ignored my mom’s admonition to reheat. The food was still warm enough and my desire outpaced the time it would take to put it on a sturdier plate for the microwave.

The first bite of gravy-soaked dressing answered a prayer I did not know I had whispered.

I tried to pace myself, but I cleared the plate of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, gravy and tossed salad in Italian dressing faster than I wanted.

I spent time with my slice of rhubarb pie.

The only thing I made myself was the cranberry jelly. All that took was a can opener and a spoon.

I texted my folks a picture of my empty plate with the caption, “Seconds?”

True to parental form, they answered, “You’d be sorry if you did.”

My belly full, I drifted asleep during the dull football games.

On Wednesday, I sat down at this computer to type an upbeat holiday column. I struggled. My life is rich and full in many ways, but I am greedy. I miss my family and friends.

So, I wrote a few Thanksgiving jokes and went on with the day.

But by the holiday’s end and after that lovely meal, I had no trouble counting the things I was thankful for.

Believe it or not, he’s walking on air. He never thought he could feel so free. Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer, who could it be? Believe it or not, it’s Daniel P. Finney.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, humor, Pop Culture, TV

HOT SHEET: How does that Mormon marshal on ‘Fargo’ keep his carrot sticks so crispy?

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: The following Hot Sheet contains language. Reader discretion is advised.

ITEM TWO: This Hot Sheet may be recorded for training and assurance purposes.

ITEM THREE: Watch “Fargo.” It’s the best thing on TV. Also, after you catch up on “Fargo,” can somebody tell me how U.S. Marshal Dick “Deafy” Wickware keeps the carrot sticks he carries around so crisp?

ITEM FOUR: Four more jokes to learn and say on Beggars’ Night:

Q: What do cats eat for breakfast?
A: Mice Krispies!

Q: Why do fish always sing off key?
A: Because you can’t tuna fish.

Q: What kind of horses go out after dusk?
A: Nightmares!

Q: Did you hear about the fire at the circus?
A: It was in tents!

ITEM FIVE: Something you will never hear the ol’ Paragraph Stacker say: “I could go for some more Red Hot Chili Peppers.” That’s true both of the band and in food.

ITEM SIX: The ESPN sports shout show “Pardon The Interruption” recently celebrated 20 years on the air. The show, which stars former Washington Post columnists Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, is the best of its kind. There are many imitators. Almost all of them are terrible. But Kornheiser and Wilbon have stood the test of time. The typist expects ESPN to fire them at any moment in budget cuts.

ITEM SEVEN: The FieldTurf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, is the ugliest in the NFL. It looks like shag carpet from the 1970s, the kind you raked instead of swept.

ITEM LAST: The ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s beloved Chicago Bears play a pro football contest at the Los Angeles Rams tonight. The Bears are inexplicably 5-1, despite an aggressively mediocre offense. The Rams are 4-2 with flashes of excessive mediocrity as well. It should be a perfect game for a nap.

Daniel P. Finney helped her out of a jam one night but guesses he used a little too much force.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Pop Culture, sports, TV

HOT SHEET: Calamity for Hawkeyes, Cyclones; World Series Dad 2.0 jokes; and more jokes to learn and say for trick-or-treat

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: The typist slumped into his over-stuffed recliner shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday with the idea of flipping between the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State game and the Iowa vs. Purdue game.

The memorial service for Grandma Lois earlier that day and the heavy brunch of blueberry pancakes, eggs and bacon at Jethro’s exacted their toll and a deep nap soon swept him away.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones both lost in his deep slumber and he awoke content, having missed nothing important.

ITEM TWO: The typist and Dad 2.0 used to watch the World Series together in the fall when he was a boy. Many years have passed since the pair last met to do so in person.

The recent deaths of family members and illnesses of friends left the typist in an atavistic mood. He did not wish to risk an in-home visit in the pandemic, so on a whim he texted his father.

Dad 2.0, a retired printer, is a quiet man, but he occasionally unleashes a savagely funny one-liner when the mood strikes him, which it did during the fourth game of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays.

On the Dodgers’ shaking their hands after a soft base hit, something they call “barrels are overrated,” which means hard-hit balls are overrated:
What’s with the monkey imitations?

On the Aflac duck commercial with Nick Saban:
It’s the beginning of the end when you see the ducks clapping.

On the great baseball name of the Dodgers’ Max Muncy:
That must be his stage name.

On a broken-bat single by one of the Rays:
That bat is coming out of his paycheck.

On Verizon Wireless’ incessant 5G commercials:
That’s too much “G.”

ITEM THREE: Game Four of the World Series provided one of the finest unofficial Fall Classic games the typist had ever witnessed.*
*As every Iowan of a certain age knows from Frank Miller editorial cartoons, an official World Series must include the New York Yankees.

ITEM FOUR: Four more jokes to learn and say on Beggars’ Night in Des Moines:

Q: Why was the broom late?
A: It over swept.

Q: Where do hamsters go on vacation?
A: Hamsterdam.

Q: How do you communicate with a fish?
A: You drop it a line.

Q: What did the music teacher say when her students asked if they could sing their favorite song?
A: “Of chorus”

ITEM FIVE: The typist can’t stop listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Folklore,” which two readers gifted to the Hot Sheet when it was released.

The album is melancholy and goes places Swift’s previous albums didn’t. Her work enthralls the typist. She’s a good writer and her presentation is perfect.

Swift seems to be genuinely interested in her fans having a good time and communal experience at her concerts. And she shows kindnesses big and small to fans, especially young girls.

The typist is an admitted grouch. Swift’s generally upbeat work would not seem to fit with his daily dourness.

Well, people can surprise you whether they be singers or paragraph stackers.

ITEM LAST: Try to get a nap in today.

Every breath Daniel P. Finney takes without your permission raises his self-esteem.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, Pop Culture, sports

HOT SHEET: Will the endless parade of ads for Joni Ernst and Theresa Greenfield end before we all lose our damn minds?

Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: The Senate race between incumbent Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield could decide the balance of power in the Senate, per CNBC. The campaign packed in the usual cartoonish bitterness. Ads for Greenfield showed alleged Republicans who believe Ernst is a liar. Ernst ads displayed Democrats who believe Greenfield wants to burn down small businesses and end law enforcement testimonies. Both candidates made use of grief porn. Ernst is a domestic abuse survivor, thus she cares about domestic abuse laws. Greenfield’s first husband died in an industrial accident, thus she cares about Social Security. One might argue that a candidate for office could have enough empathy for their fellow humans that they would care about Social Security and domestic abuse without personal experience. One can certainly argue that personal experience with said issues does not necessarily qualify either to be a good lawmaker. That said, in a race that has so much importance, it’s a shame that regardless of who wins, any Iowan with a TV is already sick of both of them.

ITEM TWO: Worth a click: The Omaha World-Herald points out that both Nebraska and Iowa have Republican governors soft on mask orders and restrictions during the pandemic, yet Iowa deaths are 72% higher per capita than Nebraska’s. Give Henry Cordes’ deliciously titled piece “What’s the matter with Iowa? Why COVID-19 deaths east of Missouri River are so much higher” a read.

ITEM THREE: Dark money — political spending by not-for-profit organizations such as special-interest activists — already dominates our state and national politics. The cash now swamps President Donald Trump’s selection for the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Big money has been spent by groups that support Trump, groups who wish abortion to be abolished and groups who fear Barrett’s ascension to the high court will result in abortion’s abolishment. This is gross, but not unexpected. If anything proves true in American politics, it’s that anybody can be bought.

ITEM IV: The reign of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV ended after its assault on the cubicle of Item Six failed. Four teenagers and their anthropomorphic dog thwarted Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV with a half-hour onslaught of frightened running, pratfalls, eating of special snacks and a complex exposition by a girl in an orange sweater. The kid named Fred pulled a rubber mask from the face of Caesar Itemus Aggressivus IV revealing him to be Item Four, who had faked his death by COVID-19 in a grand real estate heist meant to take over the entire Hot Sheet and replace it with a new social media site controlled by the same cabal of algorithms that outlawed bunts and stolen bases in baseball. Item Five, located after a police dragnet, testified as an unindicted co-conspirator to Item Four’s culpability in the scheme. Item Four and Item Five were returned to their regular spots in the Hot Sheet and reprimanded for excessive silliness.

ITEM FIVE: The typist loves free streaming service Pluto TV. It hosts a dedicated channel to classic James Bond movies. The current Bond flick, “No Time To Die,” is mired in pandemic hell with theaters unable to gather the crowds necessary to support true blockbuster franchises. Classic Bond on a loop gives fans a chance to appreciate all the unrealized potential of wristwatches (lasers, grappling hooks, etc.) and the aesthetic masterpieces of underground lairs with great brutalist architecture style combined with the best in mid-century furniture and fur rugs.

ITEM SIX: Congratulations to the Iowa State Cyclones on another victory in the college football season. The typist has no rooting interest in the endless patter about the Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes, however he recants his earlier prediction of misery in Ames.

ITEM SEVEN: They’re playing pro football this Sunday. It should be enjoyable because the Chicago Bears are not playing. The Bears, though 4-1, play the losingest winning football possible.

ITEM EIGHT: The NBA Finals continue today. This is not a misprint. The end of the pro basketball season is in October, but teams in the Big Ten have yet to play a college football game.

ITEM NINE: The Hot Sheet mourns the end of another baseball season, even one as disjointed and bizarre as the 2020 season. The eagle-eyed retired English teachers might point out that the Major League Baseball playoffs continue. This is irrelevant. The typist believes the words of the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Frank Miller, who often said a World Series was only official if the Yankees played in it.

ITEM LAST: A former newsman himself, the typist respects the need for news websites to sell advertisements and have them viewed by visitors. However, even when he stacked paragraphs for a local corporate news outlet store, the typist used an adblocker on his browser because news sites were practically unnavigable with the advertisements interrupting text every few sentences. The typist would like to make a deal with news organizations: He will unblock their ads when they find a way to present the news in a way that doesn’t look like a 1996 GeoCities page assembled by a Doctor Who fan who figured out how to get their cartoon TARDIS to spin and play a MIDI file.

Daniel P. Finney fights for your rights in his satin tights.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help Daniel P. Finney cover expenses as he studies to earn his master’s degree and teacher certification. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

des moines, humor, Iowa, Media, News, Newspapers

HOT SHEET: Bears survive, Old Man Brady falters, Northwood volleyball poster provokes and prayers for Grandma Lois

ITEM ONE: Behold the power of reverse psychology: Hot Sheet predicted doom for the Chicago Bears vs. the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford’s Field. Hark! T’was but a ruse! They typist’s faux bad juju produced a dramatic come-from-behind win for the Monsters of the Midway led by none other than the much-maligned Mitchell Trubisky. Hope bursts for this big-and-tall Bears backer. The joy lasted for the time it took an autumn leaf to unmore itself from tree branch and flutter to the ground. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker is not fooled. These are the cruel tricks the Windy City’s pro football team plays on its devoted throngs. We know — oh how we know — just how rapid the taste of victory washes from our mouth with the foul and fetid flavor of the screw cap wine that is a Bears’ season. The losses shall come, maybe next week. The Hot Sheet shall burn its Trubisky Funko Pop! figure in effigy in hopes of repeating the good vibes that clearly comes from this gloomy smack.

ITEM TWO: Tom Brady looked very much like a man too old to be playing pro football in his debut for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at New Orleans. He threw two interceptions — one a pick-six — and generally looked out of sync and frustrated. Brady threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, but he managed to complete two of three passes to his pal Rob Gronkowski, whom Brady coerced out of retirement. The typist admits fondness for Brady, who at 43, is two years younger than the ol’ Paragraph Stacker and still playing pro football. One gets to be the typist’s age and one starts to have fondness for middle-aged people pushing the sun up into the sky one more time. Hot Sheet isn’t ready to shovel the dirt on Old Man Brady just yet. Childhood hero Joe Montana had two productive seasons in 1993 and 1994 for the Kansas City Chiefs after leaving his longtime home with the San Francisco 49ers. Of course Old Man Joe was six years younger than Old Man Brady.

ITEM THREE: The Northwood-Kensett High School volleyball team created a poster of the girls’ volleyball team posing with local police under the headline “Back the Blue: Whatever It Takes.” The posters were made in August and sold as a way to raise money for the school’s post-prom, reports the Mason City Globe-Gazette. However, some argued the poster was in poor taste given the recent national unrest over police killings of Blacks and systemic racism. A taste of the backlash comes from this Twitter post: “First of all, I am appalled by the ignorance people have for the current environment of the US and second, wtf??” The photographer who took the photo decided not to sell the poster, then changed her mind and offered to obscure or digitally remove any players who didn’t want to be in the poster, per the Globe-Gazette. The poster was not created with district supervision, the Northwood-Kensett superintendent said in a statement. Stripped of context, the typist supposes someone could twist the meaning of the poster to be something more sinister than high school kids posing with their local cops. In context, “Back the Blue” refers to the school colors, which are blue, white and red, as well as the “blue” referring to law enforcement in general, though the cops in the poster are wearing khaki uniforms. “Whatever It Takes” is a longtime slogan of the volleyball team. I suppose in the twisted minds of radicals, this statement could be construed as endorsement of police violence, but the mental gymnastics it takes to get that point are so exhausting one wonders how tortured a mind must be to reach such a conclusion. Hot Sheet rejects the extremist notion that any support of police is akin to racism. It is entirely possible to support both Black Lives Matter and police. The “all-or-nothing” approach to any idea is a pathway to madness and self-destruction. If kids want to have their picture taken with local cops for post-prom, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker chooses to read that as community spirit unless proven otherwise.

ITEM FOUR: Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is quitting as U.S. Ambassador to China after three years, reports CNN. The Leland, Iowa, native was one of President Donald Trump’s first ambassadorial appointees. The New York Times writes: Branstad “found himself on the front lines of President Trump’s trade war and, by this year, a downward spiral of tensions that, to many, has heralded a new era of Cold War-like confrontation between the world’s two largest economies.” The Times goes on to note Branstad visited 26 of 34 provinces, including a visit to Tibet. Hot Sheet was never a big Branstad backer, but felt some sympathy for his fellow Iowan thrust into the madness of Trump’s erratic and irresponsible foreign policy. When Branstad took the gig, the typist was glad to be rid of him as Iowa governor. Still, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker remembers Branstad with some fondness. In decades earlier, we both had tickets to Drake University women’s basketball games and more than once stood in line for popcorn together. Hot Sheet doubts one can run into the former governor of New York in line for snacks at a women’s basketball game.

ITEM LAST: Hot Sheet asks for prayers and well wishes for the typist’s grandmother, Lois Newcomb, who is in the hospital with excessive water in her tissues and a heart ailment. Grandma Lois is the mother of the ol’ Paragraph Stacker’s Mom 2.0, Joyce Rogers, the kindly east Des Moines hairdresser who raised him after his first set of parents died. Lois is 93, a kind and accepting soul, who has seen a lot of social changes play out in her own family. She made special effort to welcome yours truly into the family nearly 30 years ago. For years, Parents 2.0 and the typist ate Wednesday dinner at Lois’ house. And until she moved to assisted living a year ago, Lois made sure to make oyster soup once a year for the typist, Aunt Janice and herself as we were the only three in the family who enjoyed the stuff. At present, Lois is resting and due to COVID-19, visiting is kaput.

OK, let’s close the book on this one. Go forth this week, my friends. Remember to drop a donation if you can. And, as always, behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney has a Runza on his hat and you should, too.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Crime and Courts, des moines, Des moines police, humor, Iowa, Media, News, People, Pop Culture, sports, Uncategorized

HOT SHEET: #OldManStudent update, NFL notes, Iowa celebrates small COVID-19 gain, absentee ballot confusion and police success stories

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Precinct Station.

ITEM ONE: Update on #OldManStudent. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker takes all his classes online via Zoom meetings at Drake University. This format works better than anticipated, but there are pitfalls. Example: Your typist’s bathroom is about 12 feet from his computer. Always remember to mute your microphone when you answer nature’s call because mics will pick up certain sounds one would just as soon remain private.

ITEM TWO: Other Zoom meeting notes: No one looks good eating a sub sandwich on camera. If you happen to have the NFL season opener on in the background, mute the TV and make sure the TV is not in direct line of the camera.

ITEM THREE: The NFL season began Thursday. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans. It still feels odd to say “defending champion Kansas City Chiefs,” perhaps the only good thing to occur in 2020. Then again, I’m old enough that it feels weird not to say Houston Oilers. The Bears also did well Thursday evening. The team owes this mostly to not having played.

ITEM FOUR: The typist turns almost all his sporting attention to pro football. His beloved New York Yankees cling to the eighth seed in the American League playoffs. This spot only exists because baseball executives expanded the playoffs to make up for the coronavirus-shortened 60-game regular season. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker questions the wisdom of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman’s “protect all prospects” approach. The typist grimly notes the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals have won more World Series in the last decade than the Yankees. The Yankee batters may be “savages in the box,” but they’re sad sacks in the standings.

ITEM FIVE: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference to celebrate Iowa dropping from No. 1 in coronavirus spread to No. 3. Wow. What an accomplishment. What did Reynolds do, bus some people to Missouri?

ITEM SIX: Just a day after Hot Sheet warned of absentee ballot confusion from well-meaning non-profits, two Iowa judges ruled absentee request forms that were pre-filled with the voter’s name and address were improper, per the Associated Press. The county auditors in Woodbury and Johnson counties sent the request forms to make it easier for people to seek absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the typist supports efforts to increase voter turnout. However, at some point people must take responsibility for themselves — especially in challenging circumstances. To quote retired Drake University professor Herb Strentz, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

ITEM SEVEN: Recommended viewing for the weekend:

  • Louisiana at Iowa State, noon, Saturday, ESPN. The Cyclones are playing without fans in the stands and the Hawkeyes aren’t playing until spring. Regardless of your allegiance in the Cy-Hawk rivalry, you might as well give ISU your eyeballs.
  • Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Football Team, noon, Sunday, regional coverage. Hot Sheet knows no teams of regional interest play in this game, but we want to see how many times the announcers accidentally say “Redskins” and then fall all over themselves to apologize.
  • The Boys, Season 2, streaming on Amazon Prime: Superheroes with sex, blood and breast milk reheated with heat vision. I’m not making this up.

ITEM LAST: Lest we be cajoled into thinking the local constabulary only makes news in officer-involved shootings or amid racial tensions, Hot Sheet turns your attention to three items of note in the most recent Des Moines city news letter.

  • Chief Dana Wingert promoted Lillie Miller to captain, naming her the first Black female captain in the department’s history. Miller, an officer since 1999, was also the department’s first Black female lieutenant under former chief Judy Bradshaw.
  • Jeff Edwards, a former public information officer and DMPD Medal of Valor recipient also attained his captaincy.
  • Wingert recognized Senior Police Officer Scott Newman, a 21-year veteran and a member of the department’s tactical unit, with the DMPD Lifesaving Award. Newman rescued five people from a burning car wreck on his way home from work early July 5.

The typist takes a lot of heat from liberal extremists for his support of police. That’s fine. Honorable people disagree. And who gives a damn what dishonorable people think? The ol’ Paragraph Stacker recognizes every police department has problems. No one lives in a utopia. But the typist notes that no matter how bad things get, no matter how many people hate them — when the shit breaks bad and the citizenry cries out for help, the police come running.

OK. That’s it. Listen to our podcast. Be careful out there and, as always, donations welcome and appreciated.

Behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney hopes Rick will finally return him to Earth C-137.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

humor, Iowa, Media, mental health, News, People, Pop Culture, sports, Unemployment

2020: Apocalypse Slow or the derecho and the damage done

I thought the apocalypse would be faster.
The Death Star shows up in orbit and “BOOM.”
The deity returns. The faithful rapture. The sinners burn.
Thanos collects the infinity stones. Snap. Half the universe turns to dust.

But 2020 indicates an apocalypse is merely a steadily increasing series of indignities ultimately ending in madness.

The latest example of this ill-fated year came earlier this week when something called a derecho decimated the Midwest with a trail of death and destruction across a 770-mile, 14-hour trek from South Dakota to Ohio.

Wind gusts measured at 122 mph, the equivalent of a Category 2 Hurricane.

The storm snapped power poles, uprooted trees, rended corrugated metal buildings and stripped roofs and generally smashed around like the Incredible Hulk in a particularly foul mood.

Many Iowans are well into their fourth day without power. Some utility companies say it may be up to three weeks in especially decimated areas such as Cedar Rapids and Linn County.

This is another below-the-belt punch in a year that has battered our collective groins like the men in “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

We Iowans can take harsh weather.

Blizzards? Meh.

Century floods? Been there, done that.

Tornados? Scary, but we cope.

But a derecho?

It’s rare for Iowans to have to learn a new word for weather. Most of us think “thunder snow” is made up.

2020 was already the year of COVID-19, the global pandemic that cancelled everything.

Adults worked from home which, after six months, feels like living at work.

The pandemic put more than 30 million people out of work, including your friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker.

This led Congress and the president to engage in fruitful talks to come up with a stimulus plan that benefited struggling America.

Nah, I’m totally kidding.

They did what they always do: Lock down in partisan bickering that accomplished nothing except give politicians a chance for demagogic bloviation in front of the flaccid press corps.

Racial unrest spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody forced our nation to take a long, hard look at itself and a lot of people found our guiding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be empty platitudes.

We can’t visit our elders, who are the most vulnerable to catch and die from the virus.

Our go-to distractions from national misery are cancelled or jumbled up.

Some college football conferences are playing in the spring. Some are playing in the fall. Some aren’t playing at all.

The NFL is busy trying to figure out how to make more money off of all it.

They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.

I’ll type that again for clarity: They cancelled the Iowa State Fair.

There is no greater sign of the apocalypse.

My fellow East High School alumni were so discombobulated by the disruption in their annual gathering at the Bud Tent that they scheduled a series of alternative East Side Nights just to make sure they kept their Busch Light-to-blood ratio at proper levels.

Nobody wants to detox in a pandemic.

I don’t really believe the world is ending.

But this is a one thing after another after another after another.

A week or so ago, I went to make a deposit in an ATM. The first one I hit was out of order. The second ATM didn’t take deposits. The third one, the one closest to my home, had been hit by a truck and would be out of service all summer.

That feels very 2020.

At this point, if it started to rain fire and locusts devoured the fields, I would shrug and say, “Well, that’s 2020.”

The year shows no signs of improvement. The virus marches on and deaths are on the rise. Congress remains impotent.

And, oh yeah, the presidential election is in November.

The current president has suggested he might not leave office if he is defeated.

Maybe that’s more empty banter.

Or maybe that’s for real.

If nothing else, we’ve learned that our government basically runs on the honor system and we, as citizens, have foolishly entrusted its function to dishonorable people.

Regardless, the lead up to the election is sure to be filled with bile, lies, fear and loathing. And those are just the campaign ads.

A friend suggests Nov. 4 through Dec. 31 could be the most frightening period of the year.

I don’t think he was kidding.

In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s right.

And that really does scare me.

Daniel P. Finney, area bald man

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.