Mike Cornelison

Letters from the Lunar Outpost

The Last Town on Earth

The Last Town on Earth, by Thomas Mullen, 2006

Written fourteen years before this current global pandemic, Thomas Mullen’s debut novel, The Last Town on Earth, is set during the height of the Spanish Influenza in 1918.

As you travel back in time with this book, you have to marvel at how often we hear the phrase “unprecedented times” used to describe our current pandemic. Globally, the Spanish Flu took the lives of 50 million while another 40 million lives were falling victim as The Great War raged in Europe. Those times make our current crisis look like a walk in the park.

Completely detached from the story that fills the rest of the book, the first two pages set the scene in horrific detail.

The sun poked out briefly, evidence of a universe above them, of watchful things—planets and stars and vast galaxies of infinite knowledge—and just as suddenly it retreated behind the clouds.

The doctor passed only two other autos during the fifteen-minute drive, saw but a lone pedestrian even though it was noon on Sunday, a time when people normally would be returning home from church, visiting with friends and family. The flu had been in Timber Falls for three weeks now, by the doctor’s best estimation, and nearly all traffic on the streets had vanished. The sick were condemned to their homes, and the healthy weren’t venturing outside.

“No one’s been down this street yet?” he asked the two nurses he was traveling with, both of whom had husbands fighting in France. He was a thin, older man with spectacles that had been dirtied by the wet coughs of countless patients.

“No,” one of the nurses said, shaking her head. Amid the swelling volume of the sick and dying, they hadn’t yet reached those this far outside of town, a lonely street where the poorest derelicts and most recent immigrants lived.

Neighbors had reported unnerving sounds coming from within one of the houses, but no one had been willing to go inside and check on the family.

The doctor parked beside the house, a two-story structure at the base of a slowly rolling hill. The ground was all mud, the wheels sinking a few inches. It even looked as if the house were sinking into the earth, its roof sloping to the right. The house was the last of five narrow buildings that seemed to lean against each other in their grief.

Before leaving the car, the visitors fastened gauze masks to their faces, covering their noses and mouths, and pulled on thin rubber gloves.

The doctor knocked on the door. There was no reply so he knocked again, harder this time, and identified himself.

“Look,” one of the nurses said. In the window to the left of the door they saw a face peering through the sheer curtain, a child no more than four years old. Her eyes were large and she appeared ghostlike, neither frightened of the masked strangers nor particularly interested in them. The nurse lifted a hand to wave but the child made no reply. The doctor knocked again, motioning to the door, but the child just stood there.

Finally the doctor turned the knob and walked inside. All the windows were shut, and the door clearly had not been opened in days. He noticed the smell immediately.

The little girl at the window turned to watch them. She was wearing an adult’s flannel shirt over her dirty nightgown, and her thick blond hair was uncombed. She was frighteningly thin.

The parlor was a disaster, clothes and toys and books strewn everywhere. A rocking chair was lying on its side, and a lamp had shattered on the floor. As the visitors stepped into the room two other girls emerged from the chaos, one younger and one slightly older than the girl in the window. They, too, were oddly dressed, dirty, wraithlike.

The doctor was about to ask where their parents were when he heard coughing, dry and hoarse. He and one of the nurses followed the sound down a short hallway and into a bedroom.

The other nurse stayed in the parlor with the children. She knelt on the floor and took some slices of rye bread from her bag. The girls raced toward her, hands extended, fingernails ripping into the food. In seconds there was nothing left, and all six eyes were again gazing at her expectantly.

In the bedroom, dark curtains were pulled over the window. The doctor could see the two beds, both occupied. Intermittent coughs came from the figure on the right, whose head rested on a pillow stained a dark red. The earlobes, nostrils, and upper lip were blackened with dried blood; the eyes were shut and the lids were a dark blue, as was the skin around them. The doctor saw a hand lying on top of the sheets, the fingers the color of wet ink. The small table beside the bed was streaked with blood, as was the Bible resting upon it.

The man coughed again and his eyes opened, unfocused, for no more than a second. The nurse knelt beside him to perform the meager duties her training dictated, even though she knew they were worthless now. It was better than looking at the figure in the other bed.

The woman lay on her side, facing her husband, her lips frozen in a rictus of pain. Her thin blond hair spilled across the pillow, some falling over the side of the bed and some caked in the dried blood on her face. It was impossible to tell how long she had been dead, as the Spanish flu’s corpses looked unlike any the doctor had seen. The blueness that darkened her husband had fully consumed her, making it impossible to guess her age or even her race. She resembled the burn victims the doctor had seen after a horrific mill fire years ago.

She was probably about the age of the nurses, the doctor wagered, for the flu seemed to be taking only those who were in the prime of their lives. The children may already have been recovering, but the flu had smothered their parents. This was entirely the opposite pattern of most influenzas.

They heard more coughing, from another room. The doctor and nurse looked at each other, surprised, then followed the sound into a bedroom on the opposite side of the hall. Here the window was curtainless, and as soon as they entered they saw two bodies lying on a large bed, both of them coughing. They were young adults, the sheets bloody near their heads. They sounded exactly like what they were: two people slowly suffocating to death.

There was a sudden movement between the bodies, tiny hands. A raven-haired child no more than three years old had been napping between her dying parents. She appeared tranquil for a moment, but the instant the girl opened her brown eyes, she started to scream. Whether terrified by the strangers in the masks or her nearly motionless parents, the nurse wasn’t sure. The girl kept screaming. It was as though the three silent children in the other room had found a voice in this one girl’s horror.

That Girl of Mine

I’ll be recording my seventh album this year. With the other six, I recorded almost all the parts myself, programming the drums, laying down the bass, slogging through the guitar parts and singing the melodies with a voice that was often more of a miss than a hit. While I’m proud of the songs, I never gave an honest effort at promoting the music because frankly, on production value, those recordings just were not ready for radio.

With the seventh album, I’m going to abandon my one-man band approach and focus on remote collaborations with top-notch musicians from around globe.

This song was written about a woman I used to date who was a real life version of the nursery rhyme about the little girl with the curl and we would always laugh about that. I’m looking for a singer and a drummer and wait til you hear the guitar player I have lined up.

The intro will start with a reading of the nursery rhyme:

“There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle
Of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad
She was horrid.”

That Girl of Mine

That girl of mine is at it again
So self-content it must be sin
When will she learn? Will she ever learn?
That girl of mine is at it again

Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth

That girl of mine
That girl of mine

That girl of mine is at it again
She is the girl with the brown curl
When she is good, she is very good
When she is bad she’s lovely to see

Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth

That girl of mine
That girl of mine
That girl of mine
That girl of mine

(guitar solo)

Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth
Get it out, get it out, get it out of your mouth

That girl was mine, she once was mine
That girl was mine, she once was mine
That girl was mine . . .

The Armenian Genocide

On today’s date, 105 years ago, we mark the horrific beginning of the slaughter of the Armenians at the hands of the Turkish Muslims. The death toll is said to be at 1.5 million.

1,500,000 people slaughtered for no other reason than their ethnicity.

It’s such a hard number to wrap your head around it reminds me of the Stalin quote, “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”

Let’s try to really, honestly comprehend what a slaughter of 1.5 million people looks like.

Have you every been to Dodger Stadium with a pretty full house? It looks like this:

Dodger Stadium, attendance somewhere around 50,000.

That’s a whole heck of a lot of people. 50,000 people is a number you can comprehend as you sit there in the stands and look around you and see 50,000 people of all shapes and sizes and creeds and colors and types. 50,000 people is a number you can comprehend as the game comes to an end and you see 50,000 trying to make it to the exits. I can comprehend 50,000 people.

But it’s very hard to imagine what 1.5 million dead people look like, so let’s return to Dodger Stadium.

Picture the horror of a packed house at Dodger Stadium and every single member in attendance slaughtered by some terrorist method like a chemical weapon. Picture that entire stadium and all 50,000 people slumped over in their chairs and laying dead in the aisles.

It’s about sixteen times the death toll of 9/11, a nightmare beyond belief, but I can visualize 50,000 dead in that stadium.

Now if you really want to visualize the scope of the Armenian Genocide, imagine that full house of dead people at Dodger Stadium, and then beside it, another Dodger Stadium full of victims, and then a third, and a fourth, and a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth, a ninth, and a tenth and that would make for half-a-million corpses.

Now imagine three times that, thirty full houses at Dodger Stadium, thirty packed houses full of 50,000 dead people in each and that might give you a visual of what 1.5 million dead people looks like.

If I recite to you the dry fact that the Muslim Turks slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians 105 years ago, it’s too big a number to even register, but if I told you they slaughtered a capacity crowd at Dodger Stadium and then did it 29 more times, maybe that might help bring home the magnitude of what the Turks did to the Armenians.

And oh by the way, a big fuck you to the previous president and all those who continue to NOT CALL IT A GENOCIDE.

It Turns Out That . . .

Black Widow Stepmom

Some people get evil
When money’s on the line they just lose their mind
I know you and I see
Those crocodile tears but they don’t fool me
I can’t claim you’ve no love
I know that there’s some love inside your heart
Your doggies, you love them
Well Hitler was a guy who loved his dogs, too

Black widow stepmom
She did a dance when my daddy died
Black widow stepmom
If she told you she loved him you know she lied
Black widow stepmom
Filled with venom and filled with hate
Black widow stepmom
Karma and you are gonna have a date

She’s ranting and raving
It’s only when she yells that she feels alive
She’s screeching and screaming
You pray there might be peace but you’re just dreaming
Each visit a nightmare
A battle where the words are like sticks and stones
You’ve entered the war zone
And driving home we’d shake with PTSD

Black widow stepmom
She did a dance when my daddy died
Black widow stepmom
If she told you she loved him you know she lied
Black widow stepmom
Filled with venom and filled with hate
Black widow stepmom
Karma and you are gonna have a date

Black widow stepmom
She did a dance when my daddy died
Black widow stepmom
If she told you she loved him you know she lied
Black widow stepmom
Filled with venom and filled with hate
Black widow stepmom
Karma and you are gonna have a date

Black, black, black widow
Black, black
Black, black, black widow
Black, black
Black, black, black widow
Black, black
Black, black, black widow
Black, black

alpha Chik’n Fajita Burrito

Lean protein – nothing fuels you better, nothing keeps you feeling full for longer. When it comes to lean protein, my go to’s have always been tuna, turkey and a nice lean steak or lean ground beef. However, one of my new year’s resolutions is to try getting more of my proteins from plants and less from the meats. With that in mind, I decided to try the alpha chik’n fajita burrito. (For the record, they brand themselves with the uncapitalized “alpha”.)

It’s a little pricey. For $3.99 you get a 5 oz. burrito. By comparison, you can get *eight* 4 oz. El Monterey beef & cheese burritos for 60 cents less. I do want to eat less meat, but that’s a pretty high price to pay.

Sticking with the El Monterey comparison, alpha’s burrito is a little more protein packed, 11g protein from 330 calories (1g per 33) vs. 8g protein from 280 calories (1g per 35) from the El Monterey burrito.

So how does it taste? The filling is freakin’ deliciious! Unfortunately, for me, a 5 oz. burrito equates to four bites and the first bite was all tortilla. Yes, this could be a quality control issue with this one burrito (and I can only impagine the plight of the burrito wrappers at the factory and the quotas they’re supposed to hit) but even if the filling was spaced out evenly, there was still too much tortilla and too little filling. If you’re going to make a four dollar burrito, one, it should be bigger, and two, every bite should be loaded with that delicious filling.

The verdict: The filling is tasty enough to convert a meat lover, but until alpha offers a bigger, fuller burrito, I’d rather spend $3.29 on a 7-Layer at Taco Bell.

The Debate Between Low-Fat and Low-Carb Diets Is Over

For decades, Big Sugar and the Corn Syrup Industry worked hard to keep America focused on the intuitive idea that less fat in your diet would equate to less fat on your body. Unfortunately, the hidden trade off was that for almost anything advertised as low-fat, the “low-fat” translates to “loaded with sugar”.

Low-carb diets on the other hand, rely on the counter-intuitive idea that you can get thin by eating more fat.

With every new diet that comes out, there’s a sense of hope and excitement that with this latest diet, modern science has finally delivered to us the magic diet that will outperform all the diets that came before it. Currently, the Keto and Paleo Diets are hailed as the latest and greatest, but it helps to remember that these diets are really just spin-offs from the Atkins diet of the 1970s and low-carb diets themselves can be traced back to 1825.

Here’s an interesting thing I learned on the way to my yearly resolution – if you want to drop some pounds, the debate as to which diet will give you the best shot is over. When it comes to low-fat vs. low-carb, a recent Stanford study shows that neither one is any more effective than the other! That’s right, for all the focus diets place on the types of calories we consume, it’s really not the quality but the quantity.

The study took 609 participants aged between 18 and 50 with a roughly equal split of men and women and randomized them into a low-fat group and a low-carb group. They were then instructed to maintain their diets for a year and from the 80% who managed to stick with it, here are the results:

For all the faith I had placed in different diets at different times, what a shock to see the results between the low-fat dieters and the low-carb dieter nearly identical.

Diets will come and diets will go, but there are three axioms worth holding:

• There is no magic diet and there is no magic pill.
• Stay active and burn more calories than you consume.
• Avoid the processed foods and shop the outside perimiter of your grocery store.

Pro tip: Journaling with an app like Cronometer can do wonders in helping you track your calories burned vs. calories consumed.

h/t: Netflix Explained, S1 E6


I have a soul to share,
I know it’s around somewhere,
Always I’m feeling I’m all alone,
I’m calling Sweet Jesus, “Won’t you bring me on home?”

I have no time to spare,
Feel like I am almost there.

Transform me once again,
Lift me up from all this sin,
Hollow’s the feeling I only feel,
So empty of a feeling that it doesn’t seem real.

I have no time to waste,
Wipe this blank look off my face.

The time has come, it’s time to go,
The damage has been done, it’s time to go solo,
I’m going solo, you know that it’s true,
Nothing you say is going to change what I do,
Gotta make a clean break, gotta lighten my load,
Gotta the hell out and get on that road!

repeat chorus

One more day in the books,
One more day avoiding looks,
When did we share our last loving glance?
How long has it been since I took off your pants?

I have no urge, it’s true,
And there’s not a thing to do.

If feel the mental strain,
Every move’s against the grain,
Nothing to see, we’ll just move a long,
There’s nothing left here but the words to this song,
Two hearts with different Gods,
Two peas in our separate pods.


Crab Spinwich Recipe

What’s a “spinwich” you ask? A “spinwich” is my term for a sandwich using spinach & egg white slices as a substitute for bread. I coined the word because for purists, it’s not bread if it’s not based on some form of flour and while the slices could be likened to a frittata, a frittata is primarily egg-based with all the fillings mixed right in.


Use cheesecloth to drain all the spinach from a 27 oz. can, getting every drop you can into a separate bowl. The drained juice makes for a healthy, tasty drink, ensuring you’re` getting all those good nutrients as they’re listed on the can.

(You can tell from the photo that this recipe features some pretty thick slices of spinach – just call me Popeye because I can never get enough! If you prefer a ratio with a little more filling, cut the spinach and egg white in half by using a 13.5 oz. can of spinach with 80 grams of egg white.)

In a 6.5″ x 8.5″ pyrex baking dish, thoroughly mix the drained spinach with the egg whites and then press down into a single layer. Bake at 425-degrees for 30 minutes. With a metal spatula, first pry the edges away from the dish and then work the spatula underneath, scraping out the entire layer of spinach.

Cut this layer of spinach into two halves and toast in a toaster oven. You may even choose to toast your slices twice, with the main goal being to get the slices dry enough to hold together like a sandwich.

Mix crab and monterey jack in a container and microwave for 30 seconds. The monterey jack binds the crab into a unified filling and is mild enough to let the crab flavor shine through. (You can substitute shredded mozzarella or mayonnaise for a keto-friendly recipe as well.)

Layer sliced tomato on top of the filling, season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Living Garbage Free

Recently, I was taking an Uber to the airport when a car pulled right in front of us, causing my driver to slam on the brakes, skidding and missing the other car by inches. The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us.

My driver just smiled and waved at the guy and he was friendly and sincere in doing so. I asked him, “How can you smile and wave at that guy? He almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!”

This is when my driver taught me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck”. He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you.

He said, “Don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well and move on! Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, on the streets or at home. The bottom line is that stress-free people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.”

Life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love on the people who treat you right and pray for the ones who don’t. Life is ten percent what you make of it and ninety percent how you take it!

Have a garbage-free day.

~ Author unknown

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