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One Size Never Fits All

One Size Never Fits All

By Curtis K. Shelburne

One size never fits all. If you’ve lived for ten minutes or so, I probably don’t need to tell you that.

But one of my brothers just sent in a text to the rest of his brothers a photo of a government form designed by some nameless bureaucrat or committee of bureaucrats or building burgeoning with bureaucrats (of the sort some folks would like to place in charge of the part of our nation’s healthcare the government doesn’t already control). Form 1040-V (“V” for “voucher”) includes the payment voucher taxpayers are supposed to use if they mail in a check or money order to pay any additional dollars they owe at the end of the tax year.

In some ways, the form, really short by governmental standards, is helpful. Since it’s not long, I assume they put in only information they think is particularly useful and important for the wide variety of folks who mail in payments.

For example, the amount on the right side of your check should be in this format: $XXX.XX. Taxpayers are asked not to use dashes or underlines or slashes. None of this, please: “49/100.”

But the paragraph that my brother circled in the pic he sent to the other three of us gives some information he found especially helpful: “No checks of $100 million or more accepted. The IRS can’t accept a single check (including a cashier’s check) for amounts of $100,000,000 or more. If you are sending $100 million or more by check, you will need to spread the payments over two or more checks, with each made out for an amount less than $100 million.”

I’m glad Gene read that in time, lest he write one single check, fire it in, and inadvertently break a valuable IRS rule. He may need to send two checks. I just hope he gets the number format right and doesn’t use a dash.

This, by the way, proves what a wise accountant once told me. He certainly believed that taxpayers should pay what they owed, but he gave this valuable advice: “Curtis, remember these are bureaucrats [meaning that they barely still have a pulse]. Don’t think that any of this is personal with them. They don’t care if you owe ten dollars or ten million dollars, they just want the right blank filled in on the right form.” ’Tis true. (Yes, let’s hurry to give them the healthcare. That’ll be great.)

It surely is easy to inadvertently break rules. In the midst of this Covid-19 mess, I’ve found myself walking the wrong way down the jelly aisle at the grocery store (against the arrow) on several occasions. Then the only choice for a person of high character (not me, I’m afraid), is to turn around or walk backwards.

Businesses, and churches, in my state are starting to open again. But I’ve been surprised to be surprised that “one size” can’t work for them all. With masks and weird, but mostly sensible, accommodations, it’s going to be a bit strange and less comforting than we’d like for all of us, I suspect. But “all” of us are different.

Our small church “opens” next week. I’m glad, but figuring out how to do this is necessarily, may I say, a serious pain in the tail section. But it’s harder for a mid-sized church a few blocks away; it will take more planning and more time to pull off. And for the large church 100 miles away that another of my brothers serves, well, they’re not even close to being back. Too many folks for one building even if they have a bunch of services. And their area’s virus numbers are presently going crazy. They don’t know when they’ll be able to meet even in masks and each congregant doused in disinfectant. (Just kidding about the last part.) If this mess gets any more complicated, please just mercifully drown me in Lysol.

One size never fits all. That knowledge makes me especially thankful that our Creator knows each of us completely and individually. He knows exactly what we need and how we feel every moment. He even knows the number of the hairs on our heads.

And he never asks us to fill out a form. The love we need to go on in this life and beyond, far beyond $100 million in value, all comes from our Father to us.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne! No mask required.

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Muleona Virus and the Ravages of Time

I must begin this column with an apology and a plea for your patience. This is third column, in as many weeks, in which I mention the coronavirus. Witless, I know. But terror drives people to extremes. (Well, yes, but terror is not my problem; a lack of imagination is, and when a column idea flies overhead, I’ve gotta snatch it, pluck it, and cook it even if it comes in a familiar flock, flight, or gaggle.)

The fact is, I’ve already had a deadly virus in that category and been categorically cured by the finest medical minds. We were keeping three grandkids for the weekend, two of which are ages four and five, at our home in the Greater Muleplex, Muleshoe, Texas.

So when I swooned back-first onto the bed (I always try to swoon in the direction of soft places) and stammered, “I feel really bad! I think it’s the Muleona virus!” and I began to cough and hack in a braying, hee-hawing fashion, I knew help would come.

A city doctor might well miss this, and the patient might quickly expire from lack of critical and specific Muleona care, but I feel sure a country doctor would recognize not just the difference between a mule and a donkey but also between a mule’s bray and a donkey’s bray, and thus nail the differential diagnosis.

I knew my pint-sized medical team would drop everything, grab their toy medical bag, and rush in my direction.

All sorts of tests were run. Pulse. Temperature. Blood pressure. Though the dread diagnosis of Muleona was confirmed—and I’m not sure about a bedside manner with that many giggles involved—I was quickly cured with a shot. Doctor Garrett couldn’t find the “shot thing,” so Doctor Kendall just fired a shot at me using a plastic pistol, and I was quickly released, no worse for the wear and presumably chocked full of valuable Muleona antibodies. I only rarely revert to semi-mulish behavior.

As when . . . my wife and I were sitting in the living room last evening, and I said, “You know, they’re saying that if you’re over 60, you should try to avoid going out a lot. That seems to argue for brewing more coffee or steeping some tea and launching into a good book. In fact, I’m 61! Maintaining good health at my age in this coronavirus crisis must certainly mean barricading myself behind a bookmark!”

The dear lady rolled her eyes sardonically: “You are not 61; you are 63. And you are insane.”

Quick figures. Our oldest granddaughter just turned 13 a week after my own birthday, and I was a very young fifty when she was born, so . . .

“Good heavens! I’d not realized the virus was so diabolically strong! It’s just robbed me of three years of life in less than five minutes, and I’m not even infected! Get me a book and a blanket before it’s too late!”

Even with poor math skills and without a virus, life breezes by. The psalmist prudently asks the Lord to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:14).

Hmm. So far we’ve had in Texas no coronovirus case within 300 miles of me, but New Mexico has had none at all. That seems to argue for skiing this thing out in the New Mexico mountains, just to be safe. I’ll read at night.

Note: Oops! As of a day or two after this column was written, my Texas data is still true, but New Mexico has four cases and counting. By the time this hits print, well, you better check more recent statistics. And I may need to consult my pint-sized medical staff for more advice. Maybe a shot.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Common Cold and God’s Cure for What Ails Us

cold 01

Well, recently, despite my best efforts to keep dastardly viruses at bay, I fell to the common cold.

I’m immensely thankful for today’s medical science. But, I mean, really, it’s 2015, and the common cold is still kicking our tails?

The stats say that most adults in our land will catch four colds a year. That’s three-and-a-half more than I find acceptable.

It’s not just that I’m a wimp. Or that my colds are far, far worse than my wife’s. She gets one, feels rotten, doesn’t like it, but ploughs through. I get one—clearly a much stronger, amped up, very nearly terminal, vicious sort of virus—and, while I’m oozing mucous out of every pore in my body, I rage against the universe and wax philosophical about human suffering.

I make my living making sounds other than those connected with nose-blowing and sneezing. Preaching. Singing. A cold is a slap at my livelihood.

So what to do? Fight the enemy!

I’m no doctor, and my attorney friends tell me to tell you that the following is just me shooting the sneeze (I mean, the breeze) and is not medical advice at all.

Some of the following is advice from physician friends; some is just from my own germophobic brain. But it’s my battle plan. I like to think some of this has shortened my colds. More likely, it just gives me something to do while the cold kicks my rear for the requisite 10-14 days.

Some is preventative. Wash your hands. A lot. Buy hand sanitizer by the bucket. Keep your hands off your face. Avoid sneezers, oozers, and infectors.

When the battle is on . . .

Humidity. Humidifiers. Long showers. Hot water on the wash cloth. Your red nose behind it.

Gargle to pull the virus welcome mat out of your throat. (One smart doc says 1/2 glass water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp peroxide.) I use it whenever I see a virus coming. When it’s hit. When it’s leaving. 

Saline nasal rinse (squeeze bottle or neti pot). Nasal decongestant. (The behind-the-counter “sign for it” stuff that works.) Mucinex. Xlear nasal spray (gentle snot solvent). Industrial nasal spray (as a last resort and not much not long). Zinc lozenges (like Cold-eeze). I’ll swear they shorten/ameliorate it. Vitamin C, echinacea. (Dunno if they work. Probably won’t hurt.) Antihistamine (for vocalists, only if you must). A flood (as in a gallon a day) of water, especially if you needed antihistamine lest you suffocate.

For vocalists, if you’ve gotta sing/speak sick. Slippery elm tea (like Throat Coat Tea), Vocal Zone or other lozenges for singers, honey lozenges (avoid menthol), green tea & honey, and a slow swallow of straight honey before you sing. In concert, talk a little more, sing a little less. It is possible and sometimes necessary to sing around a cough drop. Just don’t suck it down the wrong pipe as you’re going for a high note.

Chicken soup. (Heavy on the pepper.) Fruit. A good book. Lots of sleep. Hibernation heals.

And a little laughter and perspective while you’re sniffling never hurts. We humans tend to be silly creatures. We can’t even dodge cold bugs, much less save ourselves from sin’s infection.

Thank God indeed for his Cure for what really ails us.

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! Did I mention that music is good for a cold!? Well, it won’t hurt.

 

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


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