Summerâ€™s practically over, and I have nothing to show for it. Not even skin cancer. Oh sure, some of you are just now finally shaking those last few drops of Lake Nacimiento out of your ears from your drunken Memorial Day boat outings, but before you know it, the Fourthâ€™s fireworks will have fizzled, August will have come in like a lion and out like a lamb, and the cold, cruel fingers of autumn and winter will dig themselves deep into all of our souls.
Why should I even bother breaking out the short shorts? Iâ€™m just going to have to pack them pack up again when I unpack the mittens, the parkas, and the other winter gear.
I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™d want to walk around with vast expanses of sun-exposed skin for the next few weeks anyway. After the County Public Health Department announced that a Morro Bay squirrel tested positive for plague, I bundled myself up against fleas, ticks, and assorted annoying pests that could carry the disease. Which reminds me: Has anybody filled in for Silas Lyons at the Tribune yet?
This would be the perfect place to insert a joke about the guy who replaced my favorite fellow â€œjournalist,â€? but I havenâ€™t been paying attention, so I donâ€™t know whether someone was promoted internally or whether the powers that be threw an infinite number of monkeys into a room with an infinite number of typewrites and hoped for a cover story every day. Note to self: Add monkeys and new city editors to the list of possible plague-carrying animals to avoid.
Now, some of you more alert readers may point out to me that the Public Health Department later said that the dead squirrel from Morro Bay actually tested negative for plague, which seems to be an honest mistake to me. If pregnancy tests are only moderately reliable, it stands to reason that plague tests sometimes miss the mark, too. And theyâ€™re so hard to read. Is that a plus or a minus? Is it supposed to be blue?
To you aforementioned alert readers, I point out that the Public Health Department, after admitting that there was a squirrel-reporting mix-up, warned people that plague was still a lurking problem, even if this particular dead squirrel didnâ€™t carry it.
â€œAvoid all contact with rodents and their fleas,â€? health officials said in a public notice. â€œDo not feed rodents. Do not touch sick or dead rodents.â€?
You donâ€™t need to tell me twice. In fact, you donâ€™t need to tell me once. What kind of a chucklehead would go out and pick up a dead rat in the street? The sort who would die of plague, thatâ€™s who.
Just to be safe, Iâ€™ve vowed to never visit medieval Europe. And Iâ€™ve stopped feeding my hamster.
And speaking of swarms of hairy pests, I canâ€™t wait to see this current batch of Cal Poly students off. Isnâ€™t it about time for them to graduate or something? Theyâ€™re so smug, with their cell phones and youthful vigor and fancy degrees.
The journalism students are the worst. Did you see their May 23 Gonzo issue? Of course not. How silly of me.
The staff at the Mustang Daily sometimes puts together a publication in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, with various and sundry results. This yearâ€™s crop of writers and editors came close to grasping the oeuvre of my chosen professionâ€™s most notorious practitioner, due mostly to a big center spread titled â€œBeer Made Easy.â€?
Call me crazy, but the layout and design looked startlingly similar to a certain past meth-related New Times story that shall remain nameless. This cover-that-shall-not-be-named made all kinds of people all kinds of mad at New Times. Someone went so far as to light an issue on fire â€” and I was carrying it at the time.
So whatâ€™s the public fallout been for those rascally college kids and their printing press? Well, about as much fallout as youâ€™d expect from an aging and selfish public that tries to ignore anything related to Cal Poly. That schoolâ€™s the elephant in the middle of the city that nobody wants to talk about, so, as far as I know, nobodyâ€™s calling Mustang Dailyâ€™s Jemma Wilson, whoever he or she is, with death threats.
Also, everybody likes beer. Itâ€™s legal, and it never killed anyone â€” unless you count all those drunk-driving deaths, but, hey, whiskey probably had a hand in one or two of those.
A parting shot
Since interoffice gossip travels like lightning but actual news trickles slowly to yours truly, I just learned that New Times General Manager Bob Rucker and Art Director Alex Zuniga are pinching their pennies after a judge gave them official permission to try to buy ownership interests in the very paper that they both work for.
I donâ€™t have much to say about the subject, except that Iâ€™m glad that at least two people are taking an interest in the New Times. Hereâ€™s a warm welcome to the men who probably could now fire me at whim. By the way, Iâ€™m not the one who takes the last of the coffee and never makes a new pot. Iâ€™m also not the one who threw up in the landscaping out in front of the office after the last company party. In fact, Iâ€™ve never done anything remotely questionable or over the line at all, unless you wanted me to, in which case, I did it all and more. Take your pick. Just donâ€™t take my paycheck away. âˆ†