Monday, December 28, 2020


Early last week I received a text from Local Hospital, saying that my name had come up in the hospital's mysterious vaccination hierarchy, and gave me a date and time to get my COVID-19 shot.

 It was in a part of Grumpyville that, quite literally, I didn't know existed. I assumed there was going to be a secret password or knock, but it wasn't included in the text.

So, at the appointed time, I drove to the secret site, which turned out to be the parking lot of an abandoned strip mall. The building itself, long-devoid of dollar stores, drive-thru liquor emporiums, porn shops, landscaping companies, and crematoriums, was apparently chosen for its massive parking lot, rather than the building itself.


"Are you shitting me?"

Local Hospital had set up a bizarre array of tents, traffic cones, folding tables & chairs, and outdoor heaters. Realizing that putting up a sign that said "COVID VACCINES HERE!" would bring in hordes of people who'd found it after taking the wrong freeway exit, they simply had signs that said "PRIVATE EVENT." This had the intended effect of making passersby think it was simply a large outdoor wedding, the kind that are commonly held in snow at an empty strip mall in the freezing Midwestern winter.

In fact, it fooled me (and most everyone else) judging by the number of confused people who pulled in and asked the heavily-swathed security guard (I'm pretty sure he had a flask of brandy somewhere on him) if this was where the COVID shots were .

 It was.


"No, it's not a cartel meeting, why do you ask?"


So I pulled up to the first table. At this point there was a sign saying to roll down the driver's side window and leave it down. I suppose this wouldn't matter back in my ancestral home of San Diego, but here in Grumpyville it was a balmy 28°F (-2 C) and there was a mild snowfall. And I'm sitting in this, with my car window open.

I pulled up to the table where another unidentifiable person/biped/android checked my hospital ID, driver's license, and appointment time, asked me if I had an elevated temperature (which really wasn't possible at that point), ran through a list of Coronavirus, SARS, and Ebola symptoms to make sure I didn't have any, then waved me on to the next table. It was kind of like being in the line of boats at the beginning or end of Small World, but without the music. And a lot colder.

At the next table they checked my temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Like wearing masks, having someone point a gun-shaped thing at my forehead to check my temperature to go anywhere would have seemed entirely bizarre and creepy a year ago, and is now normal.

Finally I pulled up into the vaccine tent itself and stuck my left arm outside the car window. They asked me to put the car in park, as understandably a sudden lurch forward with sharp objects involved was undesirable. It was also the closest I'd been to one of the giant propane heaters, for which I was grateful.

After a minute, a person in some sort of giant Hazmat suit came over with a syringe and asked to verify my name.



"Ibee Grumpy."

"Hey, Ibee! Good to see you, it's me, Kim McBoob, under all this. Haven't seen you in a while."


Kim and I had gone to medical school together a LONG time ago. She went into radiology, then specialized in reading mammograms, and somehow we'd both ended up at the same hospital in Grumpyville.


Dr. Grumpy: "Kim, what are you doing out here?"

Dr. McBoob: "I was bored, no one has been coming in for mammos between the pandemic and holidays, so I volunteered to give shots."

Dr. Grumpy: "When was the last time you gave shots?"

Dr. McBoob: "Before today? Same time you did, back at the Big City VA."


At this point I was more terrified I was going to lose my arm than have a reaction to the vaccine. Dr. McBoob tried to make me feel better by saying...


Dr. McBoob: "Don't worry, they had us watch some Youtube videos on giving injections this morning. Hold on, this will sting a bit..."

Dr. Grumpy: "Aren't you  supposed to swab the site with alcohol first?"

Dr. McBoob: "Oh yeah, you distracted me. Hang on... There ya go! Now you can pull over to area 51, there, where the guy with the blue flag is."

I pulled over to the largest part of the parking lot. The wind had picked up and it had started to snow more. There a fellow gave me, literally, the following instructions:

"You doing okay? Good. Pull into space 27 there, where the lady with the yellow flag is. You'll need to wait 15 minutes. If you feel like you're having a serious allergic reaction, or you're, like, about to stop breathing, please honk your horn and turn on your hazard lights so we can come help you. Also, remember to leave your driver's side window down and the doors unlocked so we can reach you if needed."

Really, he did.

I pulled into space 27, by the lady with the yellow flag. She handed me a paper with the Lot number of my shot and the sentence "If you develop anaphylactic shock please remember to honk your horn and turn on your hazard lights."


"Pardon me, may I borrow your Epipen?"


So there I was. I've received a remarkable scientific breakthrough, and all I can think about is that my arm hurts, it's freezing cold, and snow is blowing into my car through the window I have to keep open. I was wondering, if I did call for help, would a rescuing nurse, doctor, or St. Bernard be more appropriate?



"You the guy who honked? Hello? Hello?"


Maybe I could ask the security guard to borrow his flask. After all, I'd now been vaccinated.

Faced with my bleak prospects for the next 15 minutes, I did what countless previous generations of Americans did in difficult circumstances: I played Toon Blast. Although my fingers were, admittedly, starting to get numb with frostbite.

After about 10 minutes yellow-flag-lady came over and asked me if I was having any trouble breathing. When I said no, she told me I could leave because they needed the parking space for the next person. I was more than happy to be able to roll up my car window and crank the heater up, 

For those of you who are curious, it hurt for about 2 days, longer than the flu shot, but not nearly as bad as the shingles shot.

And I'm still pretty pissed that it hasn't, to date, caused me to develop cool superpowers.



Also, is anyone else pissed off that Cyborg replaced the Martian Manhunter in the JLA reboot?


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Legal adults

Craig: "What's that?"

Marie: "It's a box of mini-quiches Dad got from Costco. I'm making some for breakfast."

Craig: "Is there more than one kind?"

Marie: "Uh, it says some are spinach and cheese, and some are bacon and cheese."

Craig: "Can you make extras and I'll have some?"

Marie: "Sure."

Craig: "What kind do you want?"

Marie: "I'll just make the whole tray, and I'll eat whatever ones you don't want."


Fifteen minutes later

Marie: "Hey, how came all the bacon ones are gone?"

Craig: "I ate them."


Craig: "You said I should eat whatever ones I wanted, and you'd eat the rest."

Marie: "So you only left me spinach ones?"

Craig: "I hate spinach."

Marie: "You still should have saved me some bacon!"

Craig: "That's not what you said!"

Marie: "But they're my favorite, you dickhead!"

Dr. Grumpy: "Uh, I have to go to Costco today, I'll just get another box."

Marie: "And I get all the bacon ones."

Craig: "I'm not visiting your island in Animal Crossing if you're going to be this way."

Monday, December 14, 2020


It's been about 9 years since BlackDog died, so here's the whole story.

She'd been in declining health for some time. Not visibly suffering, but obviously going downhill bit by bit.

Toward the end she'd gotten increasingly lethargic, and at work one day I suddenly realized she'd died at home just then (don't ask me how I knew, I just did).

So I went home before the kids got there, and sure enough she was gone. She was in her usual sleeping place by the couch, looking pretty peaceful. I got a stethoscope out of my hospital bag to check (I'm a neurologist, so it was the first time in years I'd actually used one).

Obviously, getting rid of a decent-sized (60 lbs) dog isn't something easy to do. She was too big to quickly dig a hole for, I wasn't going to toss my longtime friend in a dumpster, and other things just didn't seem like a good idea:

So I carried her out to the car and called our vet to warn them I was bringing in a dead dog.

When I pulled into the lot the office manager was waiting out there for me, to get me in through the back door. She didn't feel, somewhat understandably, that a guy carrying a large dead animal in through a crowded waiting room would be good for business.

So she led me in through the back and had me set BlackDog down in a room while she went to get some paperwork.

At this point Dr. Hypervet wandered by and glanced in the room. Apparently no one had told her that a dead dog was coming in.

She ran in and began yelling "TECH! I NEED A TECH IN HERE! THIS DOG ISN'T BREATHING!"

Some tech ran in. Dr. Hypervet started listening with her stethoscope. I calmly tried to tell her the dog was dead, but every time I opened my mouth she'd "SHUSH!" me, like she was a possessed librarian.

Finally, I yelled "STOP!"

She looked up at me like I'd just climbed out of the air vent.

"Look. She's dead. I brought her in for cremation, that's all."

Dr. Hypervet looked from me to the office manager, who'd just come back.

"SHE IS? Oh, I mean, of course, uh, yes, she is. Why didn't anyone tell me in advance?"

I said "I tried to."

The office manager said: "I did, but you said you were busy."

Dr. Hypervet carefully put her stethoscope back on and firmly said, "Well, I absolutely agree with you," and walked out of the room.

I think even BlackDog was laughing.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Seen in a chart


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