Today, some pandemic-related perusings:

    • My wife and I have been doing our best to support local eating establishments that are only able to serve their customers via takeout and delivery services during the governor's executive order.

    Early last Friday evening, as we sat on the patio discussing dinner plans, my wife took note of the fact that China Moon had reopened that very day after a lengthy closure. Agreeing that some General Tsao's chicken, fried rice and something noodly sounded particularly appealing, my wife grabbed her phone to make the call.

    "I bet they're swamped," I said.

    A few rings in, an answer:

    "Yes, I'd like to place an order?" my wife said, followed quickly by an awkward, "Uh, OK."

    So what was the other half of that brief conversation?

    "China Moon. Too busy. Call back tomorrow."

    Oh, well. Our El Gordito feast more than sufficed.

    • What should I catalogue the following anecdote under? Perhaps, "Even at 50, I can still bring the popo.” (For anyone over the age of 40 or so, that's a slang term for the police.)

    I turned 50 on a recent Sunday. The day before, our two sons, plus a girlfriend, surprised me by coming home. For a few hours, with a small Bluetooth speaker playing music nearby, the five of us enjoyed each other's company around a bonfire in the backyard. By around 8, the crowd had dwindled to three. By around 10:30, we were down to two. The music was still playing and I was doing most of the talking; and, yes, I know my voice has been known to fill a room. Possibly an entire yard.

    By midnight, it was over. The fire was reduced to some glowing embers, the music was silenced, and I was inside, surfing the web while everyone slept.

    And then two Crookston Police cruisers pulled up in front of our house. A neighbor had called in, reporting a "party,” one of the officers told me when I greeted him on the steps.

    Even at the half-century mark, I'm still a bad-ass.

    • For someone who wrote in this space a few weeks ago that maybe it's not a literal life and death situation if sports fans during the pandemic can't spend hours upon hours watching live sports on TV every week, I must admit that leading up to the NFL Draft that started on April 23, I must have devoured 50,000 words in the form of countless written draft predictions and prognostications, more than I ever had, by far. (That's saying something, considering this is coming from an NFL fan so devoted to the game that when he was a kid and the draft was 12 rounds long, his parents would let him stay home from school to watch it on ESPN. When the Vikings drafted Derrick Alexander instead of Warren Sapp, I choked on my Frosted Flakes.)

    So, yes. I want live sports back. I need live sports back. It's part of who I am.

    But if live sports return to television with teams playing in front of empty stadiums and arenas, I think sports fans need to prepare themselves for how shockingly different the viewing experience is going to be. It will be a diminished experience.

    Except for golf. I am going to absolutely enjoy the heck out of watching PGA tournaments on TV without some guy who's been drinking warm, flat beer for six hours screaming "BABA-BOOEY!" after every tee shot he witnesses.

    • We don't often get mail from the Internal Revenue Service. And who would want to? It's the IRS, after all. Most of us have direct deposit with our checking accounts, so even if we're fortunate enough to get a federal tax refund, we're not going to receive a check in the mail from the IRS.

    So imagine the tinge of dread I felt one recent day when I reached into our mailbox, pulled out its contents, and among that day's offerings was an envelope from the IRS. Were we being audited? Oh, the horror!

    But, audit. It was a letter, from President Donald Trump, with his freakish signature on the bottom that looks more like the readout you'd see if he took a polygraph test.

    The president was happily announcing that my wife and I were the recipients of federal stimulus checks. We knew this, of course; they'd been direct-deposited into our checking account several weeks prior. But Trump wanted to confirm to us our good fortune anyway, while also implying in his pathetic, obvious manner that he somehow had something to do with us being tossed a couple of Milk-Bones from Uncle Sam.

    I think I'd rather be audited. (Just kidding, IRS!)