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George Boardman: The year’s favorite observations from a monkey mind

I met a woman recently who said she is a regular reader of this column, especially the observations. “They make me laugh,” she said.

That’s not a bad thing these days, a time when the social fabric is being stressed by the disruption to our daily routines caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the increasing polarization of our political discourse. Anything that can trigger a chuckle or laugh is worth the effort, in my mind a better stress reliever than a shot of booze or a toke.

I originally started observations as a way to offload random thoughts and observations that could never be developed into a column — waste not, want not, as Ben Franklin once said. The feature turned out to be more popular than I expected. Some people tell me it’s the first thing they read (anything to get them in the tent) and others say it’s the only thing they read (thanks, I guess).

I use the word “random” to describe observations because I have what some people call a monkey mind, always jumping from one subject to another. News sites that try to tailor the news feed to my interests are wasting their time because I’m interested in a wide variety of subjects, except maybe really complex science.

Observations can occur to me at any time of the day, but most of them come in the morning when I go through my routine of reading The Union and The Wall Street Journal, scanning The San Francisco Chronicle, and then looking at three or four other news sites.

The things that occur to me end up in a file called “Future Stuff,” which also contains column ideas and articles that might be useful in columns I’m thinking about writing. When I sit down every two weeks to actually write observations, about 98% of the thoughts I saved get tossed out.

What survived are some of my favorites from the past year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

George Boardman lives in Nevada City. His column is published biweekly on Tuesdays by The Union. Write him at boredgeorgeman@gmail.com

Observations from the center stripe

Wee, the people

WASTE MANAGEMENT’S crackdown on overstuffed recycling bins may motivate the lazy to flatten all of those Amazon boxes…IF YOU want to prevent more fast food stores in “Burger Basin,” change people’s eating habits…YOU CAN furnish a small house with all of the stuff that’s “free to a good home” if you spend enough time driving through residential areas…I AM amazed at the number of people who walk along the narrow edge of Banner Lava Cap dressed in what is essentially camouflage. They seem to be daring inattentive drivers to hit them…HOT MARKET: The sale of a house in South Lake Tahoe that went for $35,000 above the asking price closed on a day when then town was deserted because of the Caldor Fire…THERE ARE a lot of local drivers in a hurry for an area where people say they like the slower pace of life…I DON’T know what’s worse: The short offramp from East Main Street to southbound Highway 49, or the clueless drivers merging into the traffic…ANOTHER SIGN that the end is near: I couldn’t buy my granddaughter pink popcorn at the county fair. They don’t make the stuff anymore…THERE’S NOTHING cool about rap music with lyrics straight out of Compton serenading little kids while they’re kicking balls around Pioneer Park…JUST IN time for Father’s Day: The old Northridge restaurant property in south county is being turned into a 62-unit “hobby condo,” a combination man cave and storage unit for his toys…SENIORS WHO complain about the extra walking they’ll have to do if cars are banned from Mill Street usually need the exercise…WHO GETS to write up the table scofflaws on Mill Street? Is that why you became a cop?…A WORK crew I saw recently on Banner Lava Cap reminded me of a rumor that Japan has an invention that will put them out of business: A shovel that stands by itself…OVERHEARD AT the Burger Basin Safeway two days before Thanksgiving as a woman pushed a cart full of food toward the exit: “Woo, woo. Now I get to cook all day.”

I have questions

ARE PEOPLE who work for Tesla called Muskateers?…WHY AM I skeptical when I see a handicapped license plate on a car that only a limber, healthy young person can get in and out of?…CAN YOU get French’s mustard in Dijon, France? Probably not…IS IT deceptive packaging if a pound cake doesn’t weigh 16 ounces?…HAS ANBODY ever actually killed two birds with one stone?…WHY ARE we putting so much effort into perfecting artificial intelligence when human intelligence is so short of that goal?…WHY DO pod casts remind me of AM radio after midnight?

The Prez

THE EARLY media coverage of the Biden administration has a “Ding dong, the witch is dead!” vibe to it, but the honeymoon won’t last. Just ask Obama and Clinton…SEVERAL POLLS show Biden losing support because of his handling of the pandemic. It’s his fault that 30% of the population is too stupid to get vaccinated?…I KNEW I was getting old when I realized Bill Clinton was the first president in my lifetime that was younger than me. I’m feeling younger now that we have a new president who is older than I am…HUNTER BIDEN is the Billy Carter of the Biden administration, but at least he’s not peddling bad beer…PEOPLE ARE apparently blaming Biden because they’re having trouble buying junk they don’t need from China.


ONLY TWO members of California’s Republican Congressional delegation voted against the anti-Asian hate crimes bill that had bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. I’ll bet you can guess who they were…MIKE PENCE is being hailed as a hero for doing what the Constitution said he was supposed to do. No wonder he’s a pariah with Trump and his supporters…REPUBLICANS are being disingenuous for opposing impeachment because it will be divisive. They were silent for four years while Trump did everything he could to foster an “us” versus “them” environment…REPUBLICANS VEHEMENTLY oppose cancel culture, except when it comes to Liz Cheney…WHY DO I think Gov. Newsom’s stimulus and renter assistance programs are attempts to blunt his recall?…THE REPUBLICANS hammered Democrats in 2020 over the issue of defunding the police. The Dems will get hammered again next year over critical race theory if they don’t distance themselves from this new version of a quota system…AT LEAST three of the defendants charged in the Capitol insurrection now say they were led down a dark hole by right-wing conspiracy theories. When are the rest going to admit it?…CONSERVATIVES WERE furious over the bank and auto industry bailouts, even though the money was paid back. Why aren’t they complaining about the Trump airline bailout that will never be repaid?

Scattered thoughts

HERE’S A tip for dealing with bureaucrats: The longer the title, the less important the job…I’LL BET there’s nothing important enough on their cell phones that requires people to hog the gym equipment while they scroll through their messages…TOO MANY drivers treat their turn signals like Christmas lights: They turn them on once a year…THE FOOD found in the typical service station is another source of gas…SOMETHING to think about: The COVID-19 virus is always looking for new hosts, and will zero in on people who are not vaccinated…WHY DOES the “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do” crowd even care that others choose to wear masks?…THE ANTI-vaxx quacks polluting social media with their false and misleading claims couldn’t be more helpful to our enemies…WHY WOULD I give credence to mask and vaccine opponents who get their medical advice from the talking heads at Fox News?…IF YOU don’t need that $1,400 stimulus check and have grandchildren, you should give them the money. They’re going to pay for it anyway…”STIMI” IS the slang term for your stimulus check. If it sounds like play money, maybe it’s because we’re financing it with more debt…AFTER WATCHING a year’s worth of TV interviews from the homes of people, I’ve concluded that 90% of Americans have white, built-in book shelves…THE AIRLINES got a big bailout from Congress so they wouldn’t have to lay-off a lot of workers. Why don’t they have the workers they need now?

Dead wrong

SHE MAY be new, but Rep. Lauren Boebert shows the potential to become the biggest looney in Congress since Michele Bachmann retired…(Actually, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene won that distinction going away.)

Right On

GIVEN THE county’s historically low vaccination rate, don’t expect us to escape the clutches of COVID-19 or its variants anytime soon…

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