A Brief Reasoning: On the COVID-19 Vaccine

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

I recently came across some internet knowledge stating some people believe that the COVID-19 vaccine contains a microchip made by Bill Gates that can track and control us. The microchipped vaccine believers have expressed an anti-vaccine opinion and will most likely choose to forgo the vaccination. I found this surprising and alarming. My alarm is obviously about people not wanting a Bill Gates microchip, not in the microchip conspiracy itself.

Think about it. Bill Gates, a multi-billionaire, designs a microchip to implant into YOU! For starters, it should make you feel special that someone of that kind of financial magnitude has any interest in you at all. But my want, or rather need, for the vaccine goes well beyond that. The moment I am given a microchip through Bill Gates vaccine, I will have Bill Gates’s property inside me. It is only logical that Mr. Gates will invest in his property because he has the money and the means to do so. This means Bill Gates is going to invest in me. Will the vaccine work? Probably. He definitely won’t want me getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at the risk of wasting a lot of time and money providing me with the vaccine.

Image by chenspec from Pixabay

I am willing to bet that I will experience positive side effects from the microchip in the vaccine. Maybe my slipped disc in the lower region of my spine fixes itself. Maybe my terrible vision fully returns, allowing me to ditch my eyeglasses. The thought of not having glasses fog up while wearing a mask could be reason alone to take my chances getting the microchip vaccine. And yes, I prefer to be injected with a vaccine and potential microchip than wear contacts.

And what does the world look like in the future once his microchip vaccines are in full force? Well, that’s a simple vision to see (especially after getting the vaccine and receiving perfect sight). At some point, those who think there is a microchip in the vaccine will be able to prove one exists in the vaccine. They will think they made the smart decision not to get vaccinated and act all smug and self-righteous. Then they will demand microchips be removed from everyone because of privacy issues or for some other faulty injustice they think they are trying to balance. However, the joke (and not a funny one) will be on them because, to reiterate, those who are vaccinated are Bill Gates’s investments that have his property inside of them. At the same time the microchip is proven to exist within the vaccinated, all those who were vaccinated will reach their full potential. The vaccinated collective will do everything in their power, which will then include all the advantages given to them by their microchips, to protect their microchips; those vaccinated will be much stronger than those who are not vaccinated. A war will break out. The vaccinated will destroy the unvaccinated and all the threats of microchip removal with them. The vaccinated/microchipped will go on living healthy, productive, PTSD-free lives, happily working the farm with their brand new Windows ME-VAX products.

When the time comes for me to get the vaccine, I know what side of the war I’ll be on (the winning side, of course). Do you?

Author’s Note: This post is part of my “A Brief Reasoning” series in which I use my knowledge and instinct in the form of a hasty stream of consciousness to draw conclusions on topics relating to conspiracy theories. If you would like me to briefly reason one of your favorite conspiracy theories, leave a request in the comments or send me an email!

A Brief Reasoning: On Votes from Dead People

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

There is a lot of news lately dedicated to accusing our otherwise previously faultless voting system of allowing dead people to vote in the 2020 election. The number of deceased people that voted in my home state of Michigan alone is estimated to be about 10,000. This number is alarming. In 2018, over 98,000 Michigan residents died. If an amount similar dies in Michigan every year, then it can be assumed that only 10% of the population that died in 2020 voted. That would also mean that only around 1% of the deceased population in Michigan over the last decade voted. Votes from the dead are a grave problem. I wonder why there are not more votes cast by the deceased. It is time our country takes a look at deceased voter suppression.

The deceased voter turnout is almost insignificant compared to that of the living, which saw a voter turnout of more than 66% in the 2020 election. One would think that the dead might be disinterested in American politics. But some argue that those beyond our living realm are just as invested in American politics as the living. As a nation, we need to do a better job of making sure we count all votes from anyone dead, no matter when they died.

Some would argue that counting all the votes from the deceased would disproportionately benefit Democrats. This thought originates from the theory that once dead, a person is much more aware of their wrongdoings in life and how their actions while living harmed the well-being of others, causing them to have a slightly more liberal outlook. You know, kind of like how Jacob Marley comes back to warn Ebenezer Scrooge about all of his selfish wrongdoings in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I know it’s not an American tale, but the story is still relevant to Americans. But I would argue that there are enough dead people to leave how they vote up to chance in every election. Take the Civil War for example: 620,000 Americans died during the Civil War. That total comes from both sides. The majority of votes from people who died from the Civil War are more likely to benefit Republicans. The northern deceased would probably keep voting Republican, the party of Lincoln. The southerners who died during the Civil War will surely vote Republican, too. They will likely find the slightly more racist tendencies of modern Republicans over their Democrat counterparts appealing. There is no way to predict with full certainty how a larger deceased voter turnout would affect an election. The best way to know is to make it easier for the dead to vote and ensure we count their votes.

It does not matter what side you are on. The point is, dead or alive, you are American. Your vote should count.

How will you help make votes from dead people count in the next election?

Author’s Note: This post is part of my “A Brief Reasoning” series in which I use my knowledge and instinct in the form of a hasty stream of consciousness to draw conclusions on topics relating to conspiracy theories. If you would like me to briefly reason one of your favorite conspiracy theories, leave a request in the comments or send me an email!

Reviews for Moon Puppets, Also Sandwiches

I received my first review for Moon Puppets! I avoided the whole nervous trope thing–making someone else read it first because I was afraid of what it would say. Instead, I couldn’t click the links in the email fast enough to read it. I was super excited to see my work reviewed by a stranger and posted on such a wonderful site like Indies Today. Here’s part of the review by Nicky Flowers:

“Flora Figglesworth is an adventurous young girl with one ambitious goal: Flora wants to broadcast shadow puppets on the moon for the entire world to enjoy! It’s a tall order, so she will need a little help and a lot of ingenuity. Moon Puppets uses a rhythmic method to convey a lovely story for young children. Vivid illustrations add a touch of whimsy to a well told story of a child reaching out to achieve a goal.”

You can read the full review of the book here: Moon Puppets by Baxter Bramatti | Indies Today

Moon Puppets also recently received a five coffee cup review by the Caffeinated Reviewer. Which is great, because the coffee cups are like stars but better because they are filled with coffee. Yes, I’ll take five cups of coffee, please. The Caffeinated Reviewer is a fantastic site for authors, including indie authors. When Kimberly, the Caffeinated Reviewer, reviews picture books, she reads them to her grandchildren to get their reactions too. Kimberly says Moon Puppets is “delightful, educational and imaginative” and you can read her full review of the book here.

On the same day that Indies Today posted my book, I noticed that my good friend, Molly, over at her lovely blog, Belle and Roses, gave my book a nice shout-out, saying, “It’s a rhyming book, which is so fun, the pictures are delightful, and my girls constantly choose it as their snack time story.” Thanks for the support, Molly, and I’m glad your girls like it! Even better than my book being on her post is the mention of her new found love of cucumber and peanut butter sandwiches. I love sandwiches. Please, everyone, share all of your sandwich recipes and ideas with me.

Sandwiches. Yummy sandwiches. Gimme. But I’ll take that whole one. Not gonna mess around with that half-sandwich nonsense…unless it’s to finish it and then eat the other half.
Pic source: Belle and Roses

If you’re interested in owning a copy of Moon Puppets, you can purchase it anywhere books are sold online or just click here for the Amazon link. The ebook is also free to download if you have Kindle Unlimited subscription. Not sure about grabbing a copy? Why not make yourself a sandwich while you think about it?

If You Are

This is part of the 5xFat series. The 5xFat series is a collection of musically inspired writing. I listen to one selected music creation by DJX on repeat while I write until I have some semblance of a finished piece. DJX posts a new creation each day so you can check out his YouTube page daily for more beats; I’m not that efficient so check back here often for new works. Feel free to be inspired by the music or words and do your own thing. We would love for you to share your creations with us in the comments here or DJX’s YouTube page.

You plant your feet on the ground. You tilt your chin up, adjusting the angle of your face to better absorb the sunlight. You feel the gentle breeze caress your cheeks. You smile.

The breeze grows stronger and with it, your smile wider. You hold the arm straps of your pack tight. You start to feel a soft pull at your back at first. The force tightens. You can no longer resist; you can no longer remain stationary.

You are pulled backwards. Your feet slowly scrape along the dirt and gravel. You do not panic. You continue to grip your arm straps and smile, eyes closed and your eyelids sopping up sunlight.

The ropes are fully taught. You don’t need to check them. The force of their pull replaces gravity. The wind takes over, opening the parachute and hauling you into the sky. 

There is no more ground beneath your feet.

You rise above the earth. You open your eyes but you don’t look down. You scan the heavens. You smile wider.

You float. The wind pushes. Your parachute ascends. You are a dandelion seed, if you are anything anymore.

You reach your destination. The parachute descends like a feather to your feet. You smile your biggest smile. You grab the ropes of your parachute and slowly, carefully, pull it towards you. You fold it neatly and gently place it in your pack.

You cannot remove the backpack. The arm straps will always be there. The parachute is at your back, if you wish to use it.

But you won’t.

Image by RENE RAUSCHENBERGER from Pixabay

Accordion Streets

This is part of the 5xFat series. The 5xFat series is a collection of musically inspired writing. I listen to one selected music creation by DJX on repeat while I write until I have some semblance of a finished piece. DJX posts a new creation each day so you can check out his YouTube page daily for more beats; I’m not that efficient so check back here often for new works. Feel free to be inspired by the music or words and do your own thing. We would love for you to share your creations with us in the comments here or DJX’s YouTube page.

I walk the same lonely streets
on loop.
Silent canvas shoes 
soften concrete.
The people here
are placeholders of time
occupying present memories
without feeling;
without a destination.

I walk the same lonely streets;
the accordion streets.
They stretch thin–
I cross with one
G    I    A    N    T       S    T    E    P
They grow wide–
I’m
        dodging
| c |     | b |     | b |
| a |     | u |     | i |
| r |     | s |     | k |
| s |     | e |     | e |
|    |     | s |     | s |
They gush and ripple–
I’m            hop-            -ping
                   on
                  logs,
r     ing t    e                   e riv
   id         h     fl         f th        e
                          ow o                 r

I walk the same lonely streets
until I                        stumble;
until I sink beneath concrete;
until my lungs fill with stone;
until I pull myself up;
until I purge dust and sand from my being;
until I reach my destination. 

Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

Two Trains

This is part of the 5xFat series. The 5xFat series is a collection of musically inspired writing. I listen to one selected music creation by DJX on repeat while I write until I have some semblance of a finished piece. DJX posts a new creation each day so you can check out his YouTube page daily for more beats; I’m not that efficient so check back here often for new works. Feel free to be inspired by the music or words and do your own thing. We would love for you to share your creations with us in the comments here or DJX’s YouTube page.

This piece is intended for both beats. Listen in any order.

Two trains
move at different speeds.

The first barrels down the track.
It hopes nothing stands in its way. 
It hopes to avoid the inevitable destruction
it will cause.
The precious cargo it carries
is hope.

The second is cautious.
It moves slowly as to not wake the sleepy dreamers
in their cozy beds,
moonlight smeared across their faces.
But the train is old.
It rattles;
it shakes the dreamers awake.
The hazardous cargo it carries
is fear.

Two trains
or is it one?

A look to one side
and you are lost
in open wilderness.
Mountains backdrop meadows
of wildflowers
and peaceful beasts.

The view across the train
displays towering cityscapes
and pressing concrete walls
with frantic, hasty graffiti
you cannot read.

Two trains
conducting your mind.

Image by Ein Kaffee from Pixabay

A Quarantined Book Release Party

I want to preface this post by acknowledging that a lot of people, a lot of families are struggling and suffering in terms of physical and mental health and finances due to the COVID19 outbreak. This post is in no way meant to be a “woe is me–I couldn’t do the thing I want to do” kind of thing. On the same note, I do believe we can complain and sit in our own self-pity about whatever we want. Our lives are constantly affected in new ways and I do my fair share of complaining these days, especially about the country’s toilet paper situation.

But no complaints here. This post is a “thank you,” a tribute, an acclamation to my wife.

Any fantasy I’ve ever had about releasing a book and throwing myself a party to promote and announce the work (but most importantly, to receive pats on the back and congratulatory nonsense from friends and family because hey, I did this and I’m allowed to be thrilled about it) died on March 13. That was the day the state of Michigan started promoting staying at home, and it was eleven days before my book was set to be released. Should I change the date? I thought about it for a little while but decided I didn’t want to do that. Too much time and energy and late nights and editing and revising and creating had gone into getting it ready for that date. The release was already delayed a few times for technical reasons. I was sticking with March 24 knowing that none of my fantasies about the launch would be realized.

And trust me, I’m a dreamer, so I have fantasies about everything. I imagined all of it: the miraculous sale of millions of copies of my book; #1 spots at the top of best-selling lists; the dreamt-about-too-many-times instant contract with Disney to turn my work into an animated short or feature film; and a friendly invitation to appear for a guest spot on Sesame Street. None of those things were going to happen, you know, because of COVID19 (and only because of COVID19, right?).

But something I never imagined took place instead: I got a surprise book release party with my wife and my kids.

I knew my wife had something in the works when she ordered me to spend an hour or two away from her and the kids and quarantined me in another part of the house (which I have to admit was nice in and of itself since alone time for any of us is rare these days). But I didn’t know exactly what they were up to until the big reveal that night.

What I didn’t know is that something greater than anything I imagined was going to take place.

When I was called to the basement for the big surprise, my kids jumped out of their hiding spot (after I pretended not to see them hiding under a desk, of course). They were wearing purple shirts, the same color Flora wears in my book, Moon Puppets. And they taped yellow cut-out stars to their shirts to make them look even more like Flora. I couldn’t believe it. Not only were they just as enthusiastic as I was, but the fact that they left the paper stars on and didn’t destroy them right away (the younger one lost hers while dancing a little later) and were genuinely excited to wear and show them made me feel better than any contract with Disney could have made me feel. So I felt emotionally richer, obviously not financially richer, okay? Let’s not kid ourselves.

My wife hung banners that she made with the kids to celebrate the release of the book. And she baked chocolate chip cookies to represent the moon and made star-shaped grape Jell-O cutouts.

“She’d use the cookies as the moon and the Jell-O as the sky. Her first attempt proved scrumptious, I gave both of them a try!”
That’s for all you Moon Puppets fans out there!

Then my older daughter presented me with a gift. When I opened the box I found a small pipe cleaner model of Flora herself. I couldn’t believe that she made the fragile little doll. It made me so proud to see that she was inspired by something I created to create her own special thing. The moment captured the true essence of the whole self-publishing process for me: create something positive and put it out there without fear of judgement.

I mean look at this! The kid doesn’t even know what Etsy is!

I couldn’t believe the detail to their party, it didn’t matter that no one else was there, that I wasn’t sharing the moment with more people, strangers even. It mattered to my family, to my wife, to make sure I got a book release party for my first book. A party so good, I’m not sure I deserved it.

How to Announce a Book Release to Family

This past Christmas Eve, as my family gathered around the Christmas tree after eating way too much Middle Eastern food (which has become a Christmas Eve tradition among my Italian-American family…garlic, yum), I finally broke the news to everyone that I was going to be self-publishing my first book in 2020.

Talking about doing so, especially with close family, is a lot different than writing about it to a bunch of strangers. Strangers don’t ask many questions, if any at all. Strangers take information in and then they continue scrolling through their social media feeds. Family on the other hand, they want to know things. While I was excited to make the announcement to my wife, children, parents, and the rest of my loved ones, I was still apprehensive.

I figured the best way to get it over with was to tell them the truth: I had to tell them the story about how the book came to be.

I told them that in the previous spring I met someone special online. And then that special person and I started to develop a relationship. It was fast-paced and exciting at first, but then naturally slowed enough to where we began growing comfortable with each other. Then I hit my family with the big news: that about nine months after meeting this person, he and I were having a baby (I admit my wife knew about the book and played along well, she had this serious look on her face and she just kept nodding in agreement to what I was saying, which was hard for everyone else to figure out if she was excited or disappointed with what I was sharing).

I got raised eyebrows from my family members. I got questions about who the person was and what exactly I was talking about, which worked well to avoid questions about my writing and about the book.

The only logical thing to do next was to tell them that I had a picture of the ultrasound. I handed my mom an envelope. She hesitated to open it, even trembling a little, afraid to view the contents. Inside the envelope, though, was a print out of the book’s cover and the first page of the story.

They were happy for me. As was expected and as it should be. I then answered their questions about the book as best I could, and about the very special someone I met online, Taylor Graham. Taylor was amazing to work with and his beautiful art has brought on a bigger life for Flora FIgglesworth and her adventure than I ever thought was possible.

Now that my family knows about the book, I hope they buy it.

Illustrations

Some people have asked me why I did’t create the illustrations for my upcoming book, Moon Puppets, myself. Well, you know what they say: pictures speak louder than words. Trouble is, my pictures scream nonsense at you.

This is Mort McClaw. I concocted him when my daughter asked me to draw a “fighting wrestle monster.” He was supposed to have the power of moving rocks with his mind but instead he ended up thinking about chocolate chip cookies. I’m thinking about chocolate chip cookies now too. You too? Good. Send me some.

I’m happy to leave the illustrations for Moon Puppets to the super talented Taylor Graham.

Sick Joke

Clearly the savage who placed the box of Kleeex on a table doesn’t know that the proper placement of Kleenex boxes are on the top of toilet tanks.
Image by Alberto Adán from Pixabay

You’re on your third week of having a sinus infection (you know your mom’s right, you should go to the doctor) and the most soul-crushing and hurtful thing you have to go through is dealing with the last few tissues in a box of Kleenex. You wonder what heartless individual working at Kleenex had the sick idea to wad up the last ten tissues in the box and make it impossible to retrieve just one in a civilized fashion.

Oh, but just pull one out slowly,” they say. “You know they do that because it’s supposed to let you know that the box is almost empty and it will soon be time to replace it,” they tell you.

But you can’t pull it out slowly when you have a newborn-baby-mustard-poop-like substance Niagara Falls-ing out of your nostrils. You’re ripping those tissues out of the box like your grabbing cash in a fan-flurried money booth. And since you can’t pull it out slowly, in one quick movement you’ve managed to fling the box across the bathroom as you watch the bottom wad of Kleenex descend like white-winged angels upon the back of your toilet seat. You look at the fallen tissues, your nose tingles and your eyes water. You can’t use them. Wait, when was the last time you cleaned the toilet? It wasn’t that long ago. But you did pee recently. You’re aim is decent but the last time you went you sneezed, causing your line to stray from its intended trajectory (if you were standing), or causing increased pressure to create the possibility of too much splashing that you can’t say for certain doesn’t exist (if you were sitting). You can’t use those tissues. They are trash now; wasted opportunities at breathing freely. Try not to cry as you throw them away, it will just make your nose run more. 

So now you look down at your hand, and oh look, what’s that you’re holding? One tissue! It’s the one you ripped out of the box so violently. Good for you, you hung on to it. But yeah, that is, in fact, the last one. I guess you are aware now that it’s time for a new box of Kleenex; their plan worked!

You open a new box, if you’re lucky enough to have another, and you realize that the Kleenex packaging engineer did the same thing to the first tissue in the box. If you take your time with it, you’ll be able to pull out the top one without ripping it and cram the rest of the opening wad back into the box at the same time snot uses your philtrum as an irrigation ditch to get to your mouth.

So yeah, it’s time to call the doctor and get that antibiotic.