Taking Note of a Few Things: The Moving On Edition

Listen to this article

Five days ago, I arrived in Chico, California. If all goes well, the next time I move will be a one-way trip to the morgue. My crazy 2023 ended with my third move of the year. As with the previous two moves, not everything made the voyage. Boy, I sure underestimated how much crap I collected in my ten months in Oxnard.

Thank God for E-signing. It takes a forest to purchase a house with all the paperwork. E-signing documents made it a breeze. When I actually had to physically sign the final set of documents, I realized I no longer knew how to sign my middle name and by the time I was finished, I couldn’t do much better with my first or last names.

A great realtor can do wonders and mine was Wonder Woman. When it was all done and we finally met in my new driveway so I could get the keys from her, she actually said I was the easiest client she ever had  Huh?

Once all my stuff was moved inside, my new place was furnished with my bed, two folding lawn chairs, and empty crates. I’m too tired and sore to want to shop for furniture. I’d really like Samantha Stevens to drop by and twinkle her nose and just finish the job for me.

Today was my first day here that I saw blue sky. It’s been cold, wet, and an instant reminder of what winter is like here in the north state. The trees, which there is no shortage of, are ginormous and minus any leaves. There’s a park just a five-minute walk from my place that normally would be the largest park in most any city. However, since Chico is home to Bidwell Park, one of the largest urban parks in the nation, the one around the corner from me seems small even though it took almost half an hour to walk it.

Did I say I ache? This move has only reminded me just how old I feel. In 1979, when I pulled into the dorms at Chico State, I had all of two suitcases. I wouldn’t have minded if that were the case this time around.

Now that I have an actual address that the Post Office recognizes, I can set about ordering things and know they will make it to my house. I just need to convince myself to hire out help from time to time, but the cheapskate in me refuses to do so and my body ends up screaming at me.

I have never lived anywhere that is as quiet as this place. Other than the mailman and a UPS truck, the only sound I heard on my street was a neighbor’s dog barking at the new kid on the block. He made it quite clear he was in charge of the street, all ten pounds of him.

There’s no doubt Chico has grown quite a bit over the last 40 years. Still, once you drive past the north/south corridor on highway 99, there’s nothing but open land. It will be decades after I am dead before it connects to Oroville to the south and Red Bluff to the north.

Geese at Lake Miramar Park in San Diego (Tim Forkes)

Homelessness is quite evident here. The bicycle path that runs the length of the community is filled with encampments which I find baffling. It was 35°f last night and it has rained quite a bit since I have been here. It will drop below freezing tonight. Why on earth would someone choose to be homeless and living in a tent that backs up to the freeway is not within my comprehension.

I saw a headline the other day claiming that one-third of the nation’s homeless people live in California. That figure may be on the high side, but when you consider how conservative states like Florida and Texas are and how much colder the rest of the nation is, I would not be surprised if that figure were the case. A liberal state like California can lead a horse to a homeless shelter in every city, but they can’t make them stay in it.

Even homeless shelters have rules for people to live by. They usually entail no fighting or drug and alcohol use. Many will provide a warm meal and a cot to sleep on. You have access to bathrooms and in some cases, much-needed medical and other social services. I can only come up with three reasons why a homeless person would choose not to remain in a shelter; either he suffers from a mental illness, doesn’t want to stop doing drugs, or is avoiding the law.

Homeless shelters are to communities today what prisons were in the 1980s. People want to see more of them provided, but they don’t want to see them in their community. We’d rather hire more police and pay them to simply round up those on the street and drop them off somewhere else.  I’ve never met a cop who said he went into law enforcement to rid the world of homeless people.  We’d be wiser to pay well trained people the same salary as a police officer to treat the homeless with respect.

I can also understand why no homeowner wants to see someone walking down their street pushing a shopping cart filled with their entire life. No shopkeeper wants to see the homeless camped outside their business when they go to work every day. Outlawing homelessness only creates a backlog in our courts, overcrowds our already crowded prisons, and does nothing to solve the problem.

Better mental health services and more addiction services is a start. Paying people a livable wage so they can at least afford to rent an apartment would help. An improved education system that is not tied to test results, but rather focuses on readying students for adulthood will go a long way. A prison system built around rehabilitation and job placement can do wonders. There are many areas where we as a society are contributing to the problem and our simplistic approach to quick fixes has only made the problem much worse.

Pretty much everything I just pointed out on homelessness applies to our immigration problem.

I have no intention of using the term unhoused. It’s just another example of soft language that George Carlin used to rail against. Living in a tent is housing. It’s also being homeless. Breaking into a vacant home is being housed, but it is not legal. Conservatives like to steal terms and redefine their meaning while liberals try to rid us of terms they are offended by and replace them with words that are more palatable. Both are equally wrong.

It looks as if I will be moving on from Home Depot, once and for all. Other than the Palm Springs water park where my credit card was hacked for the first time in 1994, Home Depot has been the only source where my credit card information is stolen. This time, it only took my initial purchase in Chico for someone to steal my identity and run up thousands of dollars in charges. Two vacations and multiple other big-ticket purchases were charged to my card.

I have a new tag line for Home Depot: “What we lack in service we make up for with thieves.”

What’s in a name? Why is it whenever I read something in the news and a story quotes what someone posted on X, it’s always followed by the line, “formerly known as Twitter?” It reminds me of when a certain singer was known as, “The artist formerly known as Prince.”

The king of one liners, Henny Youngman, used to joke, “Call me anything you like, just don’t call me late for dinner.”

I think Elon Musk should have changed the name Twitter to Drugs since most of what people post on X is the result of someone being high. Think of the reaction when you say to someone, “While I was on Drugs, I read …”

South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been released from prison and placed on parole after serving half of his sentence for murdering his girlfriend. He is better known as Blade Runner after competing in the Olympics as a double amputee. I mention this only because it sometimes seems it is only in America where convicted killers are set free rather than spending their remaining years behind bars.

Now it is time for a bad joke. Feel free to skip to the next thought, but this is a “killer” joke. Had Oscar Pistorius been represented by Johnny Cochran, we would be hearing a defense of, “If the legs don’t fit, you have to acquit.”

I could go on with jokes like Oscar having had more than a leg up on his competition, but then what’s the point?  I’m already going to hell.

The world has changed since Pistorius was a star athlete. When he competed, there were complaints he held an advantage being a double amputee. People actually claimed his prosthetic legs weighed less than full human legs, allowed him to train more and need less recovery time, and made a mockery of Olympic competition rules. Apparently, complainers were tired of stories about drug cheats.

Today, we are too busy complaining about the advantages transgender athletes have over female athletes in competition. No one cares if your legs are made of carbon fiber just as long as you were not born with a penis and moved on to a vagina.

There was a time when cigarettes were considered a performance enhancing drug. Endurance athletes used to numb their bodies from pain by consuming alcohol laced drinks while adding to their energy levels by using cocaine during events like the Tour de France. Limits of caffeine levels, red blood cell counts, diuretics, and testosterone are just some of the things drug testing looks for. There are even tests that can see if there are trace levels of the plastic used in IV bags to deliver performance boosters which has resulted in the use of old fashioned glass IV bottles.

Cheating is not just a competitive sports issue. The wealthy cheat when it comes to their income. In fact, we all do because who wants to pay Uncle Sam more in taxes? How many of you have cheated in some form at work? Did you ever take credit for something someone else did? Have you lied about why you could not make it to work? Did you fire someone under false claims simply because you didn’t like the person, or you wanted to give a job that was not available to a friend? Did you overcharge someone for services rendered? Or did you just steal their identity because they were dumb enough to shop at Home Depot?

Wayne LaPierre has decided to step down as the leader of the National Rifle Association (NRA) as his trial for civil corruption nears. Forget the fact he is morally bankrupt, LaPierre has done more harm to this nation than any single citizen I can think of. As the leader of the NRA, he has actually succeeded in normalizing school shootings. In fact, he has normalized mass shootings across our culture. Thanks to him buying off politicians and turning them into cowards, Americans kill more people every year with guns than pretty much all the rest of the nations combined.

The man can literally sell shit to flies. Under his leadership, he has convinced the most paranoid people in this nation that they need to go out and buy more guns after every mass shooting to solve the problem of too many guns in the hands of too many sick individuals. For LaPierre, mass shootings are the best form of advertising for gun sales.

I spent about four hours working in the yard today. The entire time was a labor of love as I have missed doing yard work over the past year. I didn’t even mind when an old rose bush I tugged on decided to impale itself on my forehead. I continued on and just dabbed away with the sleeve of my hoodie at the blood dripping down my face.

I have been dog proofing my yard which must mean I am getting set to find a dog or two to keep me company. Tomorrow I plan to check out a couple of ranch dogs.

Even on a very cold, wet, and dreary day, I was amazed at how beautiful the land is north of Chico. Almond orchards, walnut trees, oaks, and endless open space left in its natural state are just ten minutes up the road. It’s easy to see why this part of the state fights so hard to keep it from becoming overdeveloped.

As it turns out, I couldn’t say no to the two ranch hounds I visited. It was raining, cold, and I admit, I am a softie when it comes to dogs I named them Laverne and Shirley and Laverne is definitely the instigator while Shirley took about five minutes to realize sleeping in my lap is better than sleeping outdoors on a ranch.