Archive for March, 2020

Self-Isolate
03 28th, 2020

Saturday morning here in these parts; here we’re in a (partial) lockdown. Now that the crisis of the Coronavirus or Chinese Coronavirus, or WuFlu or Corvid-19 (take your pick) is raging about us, it’s all that can be talked about. Serious? Sure, but the cataclysmic calamity and ruin is mostly raging throughout the business world and thereby our world. As far as pandemic events go along with accompanying loss of life, there have been much worse.

Back to Saturday morning, and this means that it’s coffee for me and a feet-up pre-dinner glass of Jonge Jenever by my friends and family in Europe. All of us, similarly isolated and under lockdown.

Thinking back I believe that about age 14 or 15, I was already ‘self-isolating’ with frequency (air quotation marks inserted here). Now, at the ripe old age of 78 I am told by a similarly aged Doctor, Doctor Fauci, that I must ‘self-isolate’ all over again. The circle remains unbroken.

Dr. Fauci, could be a ‘mini-Ming’ to Ming the Merciless, the arch nemesis character of Buck Rogers movie fame. With Fauci, everything that comes out is ten-times worse than what you thought, but presented with a soft smile and in such a kind manner. I should mention that, giving credit where credit is due, the “Ming the Merciless” connect came from Dennis deYoung, musician and the lead vocalist of the band Styx.

While checking my TD Ameritrade site for a good deal on Cruise-Line stocks I remembered coming across this a week or two ago;

” Can you imagine being so f’d up on a cruise that you’re hoping to hit an iceberg?” ~ comedian Dennis Miller

Meanwhile from the wonderful world of statistics;

”Does it bother you more that there are more (Americans) who blame Trump for a virus; or that 68% of Americans aren’t sure if Corona Beer is the cause” ~ MLB Pitcher Curt Schilling

Sizing up the political and medical scene it’s evident that we’ve lost the ability to use logic and are drowning in historical ignorance. Now I best get back to checking out what the NIH (National Institute of Health) is up to these days, spending $40-Billion a year by artfully skipping past ‘lightweight’ research on things like viruses, instead grinding away at the ‘heavies’; drunken monkeys, soap operas, tailgating, and Shrimp on treadmills.

Safety Net – On March 18, Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune wrote a column titled: “With little or no safety net, jazz musicians watch their gigs disappear as coronavirus spreads”. The article brings to the forefront those on the front lines of economic devastation in these pandemic times (a good read).

The reason for me paying attention is that Reich interviews two Jazz musicians; guitarist Andy Brown and singer Petra van Nuis a husband and wife duo. Petra was a classmate of our Kirstin at SCPA (School for Creative and Performing Arts) and Petra’s mom is a longtime neighborhood friend of ours. It’s a worthwhile article connected to the linked title. The YouTube is 15-minutes of quiet Jazz the two recorded at home now that their gigs have dried up.

Listermann – Listermann Brewing Company is a small, nearby, Craft Brewery serving primarily the Xavier University crowd. With Basketball having ground to a halt and now most students having vacated the grounds, what to do? Well, they’re open, the grill has take-out, and they’re selling beer making supplies. And, most importantly, bring your empty Growler for a refill to then enjoy back at home. Yup, people are making it work these days.

Springtime – I’ve managed to get in a daily walk through the neighborhood and the surrounding areas. It was a good week to manage that since spring had everything in full bloom. And the springtime smells have been heavenly.

     

The Toy Cannon –Thursday baseball great and Cincinnati native Jimmy Wynn “The Toy Cannon” passed. His passing occurred on the very day Major League Baseball season was supposed to open. Wynn’s career centered around Houston (minored with Cincinnati). However, what is remembered in these parts is that once, in old Crosley field, he hit a home run into the history books by hitting the ball onto the nearby Interstate 75 highway.

Baseball – No activity other than Baseball absolutely grinds the city to a halt other than Opening Day here in the ‘Nati. Baseball’s oldest professional baseball team has a warm spot in the hearts of this town and it’s a huge deal. Traditionally the first pitch opening of the new baseball season was handed to Cincinnati. Even now it happens, even if by mere minutes of the start of other games.

However, it’s the lead-up activities which makes most everything stop. Biggest of that is the two to three hour parade winding through the city. The ‘Lockdown” and the postponement of Opening Day and has made it all into a nothing day. The pictures below are from last year, just to give you a ‘feel-good’ moment.

     

Fini – This week Marcia lost her Aunt, Naje (Nellie Jane). She lived healthily and lovingly for 95 years and Marcia adored her. Naje’s sister, Dodie, will dearly miss her since the two sisters lived together during these last years by sharing an apartment at an independent residential center. Aunt Dodie is well, but this loss will be difficult for her to deal with at age 97.

Mid-week brother Art will celebrate his birthday – at home! Even so, have a good one guy.

How low can it go?

And I have my fingers crossed that the trials underway with the anti-malaria drug chloroquine bear fruit. New York has started trials.

Make it great week, stay safe and healthy!
Dirk


Pandemic or Panicdemic?
03 21st, 2020

So, what is it? Haven’t figured it quite out, guess it’s the time of day. But I’ll go with the fact that it seems to be a combination of both; pandemic and panicdemic.

I’ve already poured my morning mug of coffee. This morning its primary goal is as an immune booster.

”(Senators) Loeffler, Feinstein, Burr, and Inhofe. The Four Day Traders of the Apocalypse” ~ Dennis Miller

Meanwhile people such as ‘everyman’ John Bleakley writes;

”Remember all the restaurants and small businesses that you’ve asked for years and years to donate to your clubs, events, and organizations? They’re calling in a favor. Answer the call.”

If true that those Senators did use the Corvid-19 tragedy to line their pockets they should be punished to the law’s full extent; and it does appear that they did.

Marcia and I have decided to order out more often than normal and apply a decent tip.

A new way – Marcia now keeps a calendar listing the special senior hours for ‘Q-tips’ (cotton swabs) like us. A number of places have begun to open early for such as we, to do early shopping ahead of the ‘thundering herds’ hot on our heels. I suggested we set up a little business to take advantage and do some shopping for others. It was voted down.

Tents – Across town an array of large ‘party’ tents have sprung up to perform drive-through virus tests. The initial run on the early ones had the powers-to-be mandate appointments. My plan is to just drive up to one just to see if the F-150 can pass through before I formally set up an appointment – better safe than sorry.

     

Spotted – It would appear that nearly everything catching my eye these days has a medical spin. I see vehicles boldly proclaiming “Mobile Mammogram” or “Bloodmobile” with some regularity. However, this was a first, and I thought the graphics spectacular.

Reminder – That with all the spin regarding this virus is that in fact it did start in Wuhan. It is also a fact that the Chinese authorities arrested 8 people (Doctors and journalists) for “spreading rumors of a local outbreak of unidentifiable pneumonia, previously identifying it as SARS.” That was into December and it wasn’t till January that the Global Times began to write about a new virus. The Chinese initially tried to hide and downplay what they had. They lied!

And, it wasn’t till nearly mid-January that the World Health Organization came aboard to begin detailing what was on hand while still praising China for its ‘transparency’.

Fini – RIP Kenny Rogers. Spinning the radio dial, I’d invariably stop whenever I came across one of his songs, especially “Reuben James”. Also, his interviews as a ‘fixture’ at Willie Nelson’s (plus Neil Young, and John Mellencamp) Farm Aid; especially the 1985 event was a joy to listen to and memorable.

The quarantine plods on. Paying particular attention to the 5-foot rule, Marcia and I have managed a daily walk; she around the block, and me my regular 5-mile jaunt. With the gym closed my lap swims have ground to a halt.

The quarantine and school closures also is difficult on the kids. This note Vili wrote (with some frustration) makes it plain that the days are not a vacation.

Spring is definitely here and many flowering shrubs in bloom, having said that, it’s been raining almost every day. Still, with a gap here and there, it was enough to gets some outdoor time.

Having said that, the other day a Tornado headed straight for us. As sirens wailed there came a point where we were at the door ready to dive into the basement. A couple of miles from us it dissipated – whew!

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Marcia’s aunts, Naje and Dodie and with Dia’s mom. With all the current restrictions on care facilities, it’s not easy on the residents and their families as well as the staff of these places.

Make it great week, stay safe and healthy!
Dirk


Reckoning Day
03 14th, 2020

Well, not quite. Shopping yesterday we did get enough coffee to last through a season in Canada. So, with fresh coffee poured I want to wish everyone a good Saturday morning; even though we’re putting up with the most draconian measures in my memory.

In the meantime, starting in the East there was a run on toilet paper. A recent edition of the Business Insiders thought that maybe; “the apparent stockpiling comes as governments and suppliers have warned citizens not to do exactly that.”

”an Australian news tabloid circulated an issue with an extra eight blank pages. “Get your limited edition one-ply toilet paper newspaper sheets” ~ The Northern Territory News (NT News – Australia), March 4, decided to preempt an inevitable joke about the news industry when the country’s demand for toilet paper rose

All of this possibly due to “fears over the novel coronavirus prompting people around the world to clear supermarket shelves of daily necessities, especially toilet paper” (Business Insider).
Before worry sets in, I best enjoy my coffee first. And No, we’re not considering a one-sheet rule.

Costco – A trip to Costco had been on our horizon. We’d heard the place was busy so yesterday we arrived about 20-minutes after the store opened – to a FULL parking lot and with barely a shopping cart in sight! A helpful customer who did not get toilet paper gave me his. At the entrance we were informed that there was NO toilet paper or paper towels – and there were folk like the guy who gave me his cart, who upon hearing that bit of news turned around and headed back out. Panic is a serious thing.

Let the shopping begin, and off we went into the thick of it without a thought of Coronavirus or even Wuhan. It was Marcia who took note an initiated a brilliant ‘counter-move’. She realized that the line heading towards the checkout actually snaked all around the store by first going the exact opposite way. After discovering the line’s very tail end I put our cart in line – empty, and began the slow shuffle forward. Meanwhile Marcia raced up one isle and down another. Every so often she’d spot me and swung by to make a deposit in our quickly filling cart.

I began (actually by ‘ending’ the line) at the store’s side wall next to the dog foods. Then followed my newly introduced ‘friends’ to the store’s back wall and across to an approximately mid-point. At that instant it was a sharp left, where, in the far distance I spotted the registers. About 30-feet out a smiling Costco employee placed us into a secondary line and we were quickly ‘processed’.

Draconian Intervention – By now you’re all aware that, as a nation, we’re now at a standstill. Schools have closed all sports activities are at a standstill, Library and church doors shut. But is all that necessary?

Social Media and the 24/7 news cycle see the importance of promulgating their ‘news’ and their agenda – more sales, more ‘clicks’ and if Trump can get a whack to boot, so much the better. The politicians are between a rock and a hard place and will get a negative ‘hit’ no matter what, especially our current President who, much like President Reagan, is saddled with a 95% negative media coverage.

Between April 2009 and January 2010, 57-million Americans had been infected by the Mexican Swine Flu (also known as the H1N1 virus). 257,000 had been hospitalized, 11,690 had died including 1,180 children. It wasn’t until October that then President Obama declared it a public health emergency.

Here’s how the AP reported this emergency when Obama decided to play golf that very same day: “President Barack Obama sought to look both calm and in command, striking a balance between informing Americans without panicking them.” See the ‘subtle’ difference compared to how the screeching voices are heard these days?

Its people like Dr. Marc K. Siegel, a Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, a Medical Director of Doctor Radio at NYU, and contributor to a wide array of media whose latest book; False Alarm, Profiting from the Epidemic of Fear receives little solid press. And yet, he’s one of many who view the Wuhan Coronavirus as no more than a serious flu which can be managed and see it not as a new Bubonic plague or another Ebola event. We got to get real and live our lives peacefully, yet in part, by hitting back at the panic and fear mongers.

Oratory Festival – Vili, our third-grader was one of 15 kids (grades 1 through 3) selected to represent their classes in a school wide oratory festival. Topics were varied and represented the urban variety found at his North Avondale Montessori School. Topics as diverse as; “Save the Bees, “bullying”, “Australian Wildfires”, “Why Recess is Important”, “Homeless”, “Having Cerebral Palsy” to “Freedom for People to Wear Their Hair the Way They Want” were put forth front and center. Vili’s topic was “Ocean Pollution”. As grandparents sitting there, pride comes to mind. But it’s more than that, there was also hope. Hope watching these youngsters take a serious topic and address it well. Marcia and I headed home with a smile on our face.

Fini – Remember that today is Pi Day, the day to celebrate the mathematical constant Pi. March 14, expressed numerically, matches the Pi number’s first digits, 3.14.

Then, yesterday was Friday the 13th. With some it’s beware for bad luck kind off day. People having that concern; are you aware that Friday the 6th and Friday the 20th are just as rare? Soon you won’t have a single ‘lucky’ day left.

Brother Art and Jolene were supposed to be here this weekend. Friday they cancelled. There were just too many closures to take a chance following a cross-country trip.

Neighbors and friends Barb and Bulent were supposed to be here next week. The plan being was to travel to Louisville and Bardstown, Kentucky for a few days of Bourbon tasting. Again, closures made that mini-vacation untenable and I cancelled our reservations.

But, there was good news. At Costco I filled up – with a smile on my face. Actually, at the ‘Y’ I was talking with some gents of my age and the question of the cheapest gas we could remember came up. I thought I had it with 25¢ per gallon. One of the group beat me; he had crossed the river into Kentucky and filled up at 18¢ a gallon.

Remember that selling your 401K in a panicked market only lines the pockets of those who don’t.

Marcia, listening the the ongoing blather on the virus asked, who exactly are the ‘elderly’ they keep talking about. Without hesitation I gave her the answer; “anyone who is a year older than me.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Marcia’s aunts, Naje and Dodie.

Make it great week, stay safe and healthy!
Dirk


A Mixed Bag
03 7th, 2020

Well, well, it’s Saturday morning and I should be holding a contest. A contest blending St. Patty’s Day, with Women’s Day, a Lenten Friday Fish Fry, and all of that then coupled with waking up to an array of red lights dancing on the bedroom wall (lights were from some nearby pieces of emergency equipment). Now, turn all of that into a bit of a wonderful ‘cleverty’ for these Ramblings. Oh, and add some brewing coffee to the mix – the pot just signaled that my Java is ready. Actually, to top all of the above with a ‘cherry’, tonight our clocks jump forward.

In any case, I’d be pleased to receive your input on how to blend it all into a readable, cohesive, but fun package. I think I’ve found something that might just work since I am reading Mo Rocca’s latest book, ‘Mobituary’, and it does just that (thanks Adrianne).

Steve Martin thinks that; “Chaos in the midst of chaos isn’t funny, but chaos in the midst of order is”. So I’ll go with that.

”That was a heck of a college football game. I wish we could have made a couple of plays at the end, but they ended up making a couple of plays at the end and we didn’t. We had our shot in the last couple of minutes and we didn’t.” ~ Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State coach) on Bedlam Being Bedlam

Before worry sets in, I best enjoy my coffee first.

Spring is here – I know that for a fact. Not because it’s so noted on printed calendars, but because our local Dairy Queen has re-opened. That is what is making it official!

Bockfest – Last Saturday Cathy, Jason, and I somehow ended up at the 3-day long, 28th annual Bockfest; a festival celebrating Cincinnati’s brewing heritage. With its German beer brewing legacy it’s the largest Bockfest in the nation; Cincinnati is really a city built on Beer. And the Bockfest means that there is no better way to celebrate the start of springtime.

An opening parade, multiple music venues, a 5k run, a beard and sausage queen contest. So what did we do? We drank beer. Actually, it was the tasting of beer ‘flights’ that were of interest. No better way to discover all the small batch craft brews offered. All that while spending a little time listening to James “Chico” Converse, the fiddle-playing and French Cajun vocalist singing Louisiana Cajun music with his local band; Lagniappe. Have a listen. What fun!

                 

     

A new trail – All winter I have pretty well managed to walk between 5 and 6 miles per day. I dislike treadmills so it’s all been outside. I have a series of routes; however, after a while you know exactly where the barking dog resides, where to duck down for a low-hanging branch, who bought the new Tesla, etc.

So, it was with a bit of excitement that I remembered that last summer a new stretch of a county-wide walking/running/riding trail opened. Early this week it was sunny and near 60 degrees when I walked past the Belvedere (an 11 story New York style condominium where my mother lived for a decade), walked past Xavier University, and onto the new trail – Wasson Way. It took me all the way to the Norwood/Hyde Park area.

I can hear it now, a collective groan with; “big hairy deal Dirk.” Actually it is a big deal. I means that in about 40-minutes I can get to Rookwood Plaza, home to the likes of Whole Foods and Nordstrom Rack. Now you see the importance?

Fini – Yesterday Tevita flew to Los Angeles to be at his Aunt’s funeral. Aunt Luisa Fotofili Tu’ipulotu, was Tevita’s dad’s sister. As the representative of that side of the family, Tongan tradition has certain specific roles for him to play out as part of the funeral rite. I know Tevita was close to his aunt and we all wish him strength and peace.

Tomorrow we’re all gathering with Jason and Cathy at their place to enjoy a brunch celebrating Dinah’s birthday. Welcome to ‘teen-hood’ Dinah.

Vili, in 3rd grade, had to make an oral presentation to his class. He chose to speak out about single use plastics. Anyway, he did so well that he was one of three third graders chosen to represent this group at next Friday’s school-wide presentations. Yes. Marcia and I will attend.

Monday Vai and the school’s other 6th graders will leave for a four-day jaunt to Washington, DC. She was quite insistent that Adrianne not come along as a chaperone, she wanted to ‘step’ out on her own. They do grow up don’t they?

Now, Marcia is stressing that we ready for a visit next weekend of brother Art and sis-in-law Jolene. Apparently I’m not the best at cleanup style duties so I think I’ll go manage the wine purchases. I did however get a preparatory haircut a couple of days ago.

And, yes, the corner adventure continues — quietly. The other day leaving there, at the stop sign, was a car, two women and two crusers with four officers. We just smiled and continued on our way. Life goes on.

Make it great week and stay safe!
Dirk