Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


So yesterday afternoon I was watching CSPAN-2, mostly because I couldn’t fathom leaving the house because of weather and lack of money, motivation, and purpose, and also because all of the other channels I get on my half-assed bootleg cable setup were either showing infomercials, college football, or hunting programs. Anyway, I was watching some kind of award dinner where some group was giving George Bush (the first one) some kind of American patriot award. Even though I hate GBI, I was watching because they were showing some historical retrospective slideshow of his life. And the narrator said “Only 42 other people have known what it is like to be president.” WHAT THE FUCK? GROVER CLEVELAND WAS NOT TWO PEOPLE! I knew about this in the third grade, and someone who makes twice as much money as me can’t look this shit up in an almanac?

Okay, I did look it up in an almanac just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Cleveland was the 22nd president in 1885-89 and the 24th in 1893-97. Other trivia about Cleveland:

  • He had oral cancer from cigars, and had a tumor removed secretly; an operating room was set up in a yacht in the Potomac, and he had the surgery while he was allegedly on his way to vacation.
  • He allegedly fathered an illegitimate child in 1874 with a woman named Maria Halpin. During the 1884 presidential campaign, he never disproved that the child was his, but he never admitted it either. He did, however, offer financial support to the mom and kid.
  • He drank a lot of beer. He also had gout, which is directly related.
  • He was the second-heaviest president, behind Taft.
  • There’s some conspiracy behind his 1908 death, and some modern doctors think he may have had Alzheimer’s. He had a rapidly deteriorating mental state, but some say it was probably too rapid for Alzheimer’s.

I found an excellent site here that has a lot of information on the health of presidents. After reading it, I think it’s pretty clear that every person who was President had pretty severe medical problems. Even JFK, who was supposed to be a young and healthy guy, was on more prescriptions than my grandma took when she was 72 and months from death. I think Carter is probably the healthiest president. Maybe Ford. And I didn’t know Clinton wore hearing aids. Guess I missed that one.

Anyway, nothing has been going on here. I haven’t left the house all weekend, although I think I might go to the book store in a little bit here. It’s just been one of those weekends where sitting around and playing SimCity for 7 hours straight is more interesting than getting out. I don’t know if it’s weather or depression or what, but all I want to do is sleep. And read the almanac. It’s the ultimate zero attention span book. I just wish I had a newer one – this one is the 1999 edition, which means it was really written in 1997 and the most important stuff was updated in 1998.

OK, I need to finish my canned peaches and find my shoes. Oh, I’m also pissed and a bit freaked that MTA might strike in a week, because there’s no way I can walk 4 miles to work in December, or pay $20 each way for a taxi. More on that later.