Slightly Off Center

Numbers Game

By Dennis Hinkamp

New stats to track

Every day is Groundhog Day for dogs. The same meal, the same treat, the same walk and the same complaining humans. The most amazing thing about dogs is that they tolerate us. They will discuss this at dog parks as the era of human dystopia.

Like many other non-canines around town I have been spending a lot of time walking the dog, thinking and noticing.
I’m noticing that I hear numbers all day. We are currently obsessed with numbers. One fewer death than yesterday is somehow the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the absence of sports, we are breaking down the COVID-19 stats to into a bracket competition between countries, states and even counties. “Will Cache County make the top 10 best or worst?” I imagine unemployed sports journalists saying. “Stay at home, wash your hands and tune in tomorrow.”

On campus there is one cookie left in the vending machine and nobody is playing team sports.

I’ve been an internet junkie from early days of free AOL disks in the mail every other day. I pride myself in being able to sort through jillibytes of information. However, the noise level of everyone trying to help me out is making want to go back to Morse Code.

Everyone whom I have ever bought a paper clip from and who has my email address is sending messages assuring me of their steadfastness during this time of COVID-19 malaise. I truly appreciate the crafted mass mailing sentiment, but unless you want to send me free toilet paper, hand sanitizer or tequila, you are just adding to my stress. This goes double for anybody who wants me to attend their webinar on almost anything. I know you are trying to help, but I already have enough screen time. Just put it on YouTube and I will find it if I want to. Or, better yet, just send thoughts and prayers; they take up no bandwidth.

None of this can replace a hug and arguing politics in person over a lunch table, but thanks for trying.
Like everyone else, I’m a little on edge. I got in an argument over if lottery tickets in Franklin, Idaho were essential or not. I personally don’t have any more interest in lottery tickets than greyhound races, but I have been going to Franklin, 13 miles across the border, for alcoholic beverages on Sundays for 38 years. Even though we have all these state boundary COVID-19 things going on, Cache and Franklin counties have always had a symbiotic economic relationship. Crossing each other’s borders should be declared essential. I’m not sure what the consensus is on Wendover and Montello, but I also enjoy those neighbors as well.

When I escape from the indoor screens, I notice too many things. The real-world stimulation is now almost too intoxicating.

My least-loved sport of golf now reminds me of normal life. I guess tennis and pickleball would be spacial distance-allowable so long as you don’t play doubles and rush the net.

I look up at the sky and see nearly zero aircraft or contrails. I hear squirrels, birds and rustling strange things almost as well as our dog.

I notice a grim biker hunched over his handlebars every morning at the same time on the same route. Of course, I notice him because I am doing my same thing on the same route at the same time every morning. We seek comfort in routine.

My personal numbers: I have spent zero cash in the last six weeks. Cash just seems suddenly dirty. The little dog rest stop I built at the end of our driveway is going through an epic number of poop bags. I will just assume they are all being used for dog poop, but in these curious times you never know.

Dennis Hinkamp would like to remind you to embrace your inner introvert and continue to stay home.

This article was originally published on May 2, 2020.