George Boardman: Take a break and lighten things up after a year’s worth of doom scrolling |

George Boardman: Take a break and lighten things up after a year’s worth of doom scrolling

Two outfits in the dictionary business have declared pandemic the word of the year, based largely on the number of online searches it received.

The announcement is not a big surprise, but pandemic doesn’t do justice to the dread and apprehension felt by many Americans since February. I think there’s a pair of words that really encapsulate the year.

Doom scrolling.

The two words describe a tendency to continue to scroll through bad news, even though the news is saddening, disheartening or depressing. Doing this obsessively is said to impair one’s mental health.

If you live in Northern California, you had ample opportunity to damage your mental health this year: The pandemic, lockdowns, power outages, a record-breaking fire season, and—depending on where you stand politically—the November elections.

But you’ve had enough of that for the year, especially if you survive the latest COVID-19 surge. Now’s the time to lighten things up a bit by partaking in some frivolous nonsense like, for example, my annual roundup of Observations from the Center Stripe.

When I first started writing this column seven years ago, I used observations as a way to use various thoughts and… well, observations that occurred to me but wouldn’t add up to anything resembling a column.

I found that people enjoyed them. Some people told me it was the first thing they read when my column appears (anything to get them in the tent) and others said it was the only thing they read (thanks, I guess). When I went silent for a couple of months last year and then started writing Observations again, a former editor of The Union said he was glad to see them back in the column. He didn’t say anything about the columns themselves.

The following is a selection of my favorites from the last 12 months. I purposely left out the person who occupied more space than anybody else because I’m tired of the subject and he will soon be yesterday’s news. So, take a few minutes that might lighten things up for awhile.

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

Observations from the Center Stripe: 2020 Edition

Wee, the people

COUNTY HEALTH officials lose credibility when they withhold details of local COVID-19 deaths that are available to the public in state records…SIGN At the ReOpen Nevada County rally: “Join the Expendables, Dead GOP Seniors for Freedom.” If they’re really serious, they can accelerate an extinction that has been occurring in California for two decades…YOU WOULD think somebody in the garbage business—like Waste Management—wouldn’t need two weeks to get garbage cans to a new customer…WHAT DOES it tell you about Grass Valley City Council candidates who won’t tell you their age or home town?…A MESSAGE on our TV screen said an incoming call was possibly a scam. It was a robocall from Rep. Doug LaMalfa…THAT CALL came about an hour after another robocall from Rep. Tom McClintock, who still thinks we’re in his district almost a decade after the district was redrawn…THERE’S A lot to be said for old technology like home-delivered newspapers when the latest PG&E blackout knocks you off line…WHY DOES the media keep using a term only a bureaucrat can love to describe a PG&E blackout? Call it what it is…I’M AMAZED that some local businesses are now deciding it’s finally time to do business on the internet. Where have they been the last 20 years?…THAT’S QUITE a billboard greeting people entering Grass Valley from the south on Highway 49: “Puff, Let us roll this one”…THEN THERE’S the homeless person who was sleeping outside the door of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce on a recent sunny Saturday…IT’S UNDERSTANDABLE why Rep. Doug LaMalfa is “very skeptical” of voting by mail. Nevada County is the only county in his district that votes by mail, and it’s one of two counties he lost in 2018…WHY DO political protestors always congregate at Sutton and Brunswick? My guess is the nearby free parking…


I’VE HAD it with stores that insist I have to wear a mask, but won’t stop me if I don’t wear a mask…I’VE ALSO had it with parents who let their children run around in stores unmasked. Don’t they know little children are excellent carriers of the coronavirus?…I BELIEVE in vaccinations, but I’m going to avoid any COVID-19 vaccine “approved” by the Trump administration before Election Day…PEOPLE WHO promote herd immunity should see how well it has worked in places like California’s prisons…BAD TREND: Along with toilet paper, there’s also been a spike in the sale of craft beer, pot and guns…WHAT GOOD are plunging gasoline prices when I can only drive to the grocery store?…AS SOON as people fear a shortage, they create one…ONE POSITIVE from the pandemic: Robocalls and scam calls are way down. Boiler room operations have to practice social distancing too…THE FANTASYLAND in Anaheim isn’t the only one in California. Our elected leaders in Sacramento are hoping the feds bail us out so the state won’t have to make massive budget cuts…PEOPLE WHO refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing are candidates for Darwin Awards…JUDGING FROM the number of school-age children I see out and about during what used to be school hours, I’m guessing distance learning isn’t working out too well…JUDGING FROM the teenagers I’ve seen congregating, I’ve concluded they think social distancing doesn’t apply to them…ANYBODY WHO read “The Jungle” by Sinclair Lewis in high school isn’t surprised by the blatant disregard for the safety of workers at meat processing plants…ANOTHER SHORTAGE: Fishing bait. People who like to fish have a lot more time to do it these days…THE PEOPLE protesting the continued shutdown of the economy give new meaning to the phrase, “Live free or die”…SIGN OUTSIDE a strip club: “Sorry, we’re clothed”…IF YOU want to make sure nothing gets done, appoint a committee of 80 people. That’s how many are on Gov. Newsom’s panel to restart the state’s economy…ONE BENEFIT of sheltering in place: Our cars are a lot cleaner…ALL OF that comfort food I’ve been eating is starting to get comfortable around my mid-section…WASTED MONEY: Charmin toilet paper is running ads online…

The human condition

A LOT of men are rediscovering their families now that there’s no sports on TV worth watching…AVOID A cook who uses the smoke alarm for a kitchen timer…THE TERM “virtue signaling” is a guilt-free way for conservatives to dismiss people who show empathy for others…ANY FOOD item that’s “infused” with something is probably going to be expensive… I FAVOR gas stations with squeegies on handles long enough to cover the entire windshield…WHEN I was younger, my hair was thick and my waist was thin. Now it’s the reverse…TEXTING FEELS like a conversation on the installment plan…

Speaking of Sports

FANS WHO buy tickets to games of the Golden State Warriors are paying a lot to watch auditions for supporting roles on next year’s team…HIGH SCHOOL football in the fall? Professional and college teams can’t get the coronarvirus under control, and they haven’t even returned to the up-close-and-personal part of the game…IF YOU’RE a sports fan, you better enjoy the truncated versions of hockey, basketball and baseball while you can. The way things are shaping up for the fall, they may be the last sports you’ll see for awhile…BASEBALL AND basketball games don’t seem that important without the fans in the stands…REALLY?: An official of the NBA players union said the suspension of games is hurting the players because about one-third of them live “paycheck to paycheck.” The minimum “paycheck” in the NBA is $582,000 a year…

Right on!

GIVEN THE clueless behavior of the average 18 to 24 year old, college dorms will be about as safe as cruise ships this fall…BARBERS SHOULD do a booming business when they reopen. My hair hasn’t been this long since the early ‘70s (the 1970s, that is)…THERE’S A lot of pressure on the government to get the stimulus money distributed quickly. That will be followed by reports of errors because the government distributed the money too quickly…MANY MAYORS have lost reelections because they couldn’t plow the streets after a blizzard. Democrats are hoping the coronavirus will be Trump’s blizzard…

Dead wrong!

GROCERY STORES will be piled high with toilet paper three months from now because everybody now has a life-time supply…

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