Archive for April, 2020

Black Hole
04 25th, 2020

Last evening at our neighborhood’s outdoor Happy Hour I was reminded that the weekend was about to start. I am so excited realizing what portion of the week I was embarking on that I woke up early. Happy Saturday, and yes, I’ve already had my first slug of coffee.

”Can’t believe it’s already whatever day it is now.” ~ Chuck Ross

Happy Hour – These weeks, time has both stopped while at the same time it’s slipping by; every day is “Ground Hog Day”. Way down deep you do realize something is different, but tune in and the same dour faces are spewing forth their identical daily list of details, using an unknown term now familiar to even every Kindergartener: Covid-19.

So, last evening fifteen or so of us stood in the middle of Burton Woods Lane, each loaded up with an Adult Beverage of choice. We were properly spaced and happy to see folk we thought had disappeared.

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I just want these specialists to know that my personal curve has now completely flat-lined. And, that unless that ‘flat-line’ quickly starts to get a few ‘hills’ and ‘valleys’ I will do what the ladies did in the ‘60s; only I’ll be burning my facial Bra.

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Then, take note of Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee this coming week as these states lift their ‘lockdown’. See how long it takes for them to achieve ‘Herd Immunity’ (another term I’d not heard before). And, also of interest, how many small businesses will or won’t reopen. This might be a bit of a guide pointing towards our future.

Black Hole – I think that I’m fairly accurate by saying that the nearest Black Hole to earth is 7,500 light years away. But, yesterday when our President signed the latest half-Trillion ‘stimulus’ package I had seen something no Astronomer had ever seen – the formation of a ‘Big Bang’ and a ‘Black Hole’ simultaneously. I’ll explain!

In the meantime, remember the rallying cry of the Great Recession of 2008, “Shovel Ready Projects”? Can you name even one project started and completed from that venture? I can’t. So now we’ve experienced the first $-multi Trillion ‘stimulus’ package. Yesterday the second piece was signed and the planning for number three and number four is underway.

Each of these does have some monies for their designated purpose, but have no doubt; a better half is pet project ‘Pork’ (the other word for ‘Pork’ is WASTE). So that is the ‘Big Bang’ we just witnessed. The ‘Black Hole’ our grand-children will see the full effect of when those borrowed dollars come due.

Positive – One thing that is happening for the first time in my lifetime is occurring and I think it positive. We’ve always been told of our nation being a ‘Grand Experiment’; a series of states which hold the power and a minimalist Federal government. That idea had long ago disappeared as more and more of the power is being concentrated in Washington DC. A slight crack in that formula is creeping in. President Trump in a brilliant move is diverting many of the ‘next steps’ to the Governors of the various States – the true pieces of our Grand Experiment.

Birthday – Jason had one of those strange Corvid-19 birthdays. We talked on the phone and since there was a slight dampness in the air (not quite rain, but dampness which did stay on my hoodie) Marcia decided to stay home while I went over to their house to both hum ‘Happy Birthday’ and bring his gift. After all, Marcia had delivered him in the first place and was totally familiar with the whole birthday thing.

So, we sat outside on the front porch, properly spaced as we were told. It was a good visit with happy chatter and laughter. But, I missed the raucous behavior as we would gather as family in some warm place eating unhealthy, but oh-so tasty, pub foods – and I am certain Jason did too.

Shopping – This week I had to swing by our Kroger grocery store. Blue gloved ladies were scrubbing down the handles on carts. Plastic shields at the registers and masking-tape lines on the floor. None of that really piqued my interest. What did catch me was the wide array of home-made face masks. As I explained to Marcia, for a moment I felt as if I were on the set of some old Western Movie with all the bandanna variants.

Fini – I came across this old cover and thought of my mother, our ‘Omi’. And it’s so true, she really lover her fried chicken. And, to her, Colonel Sanders was indeed the sexiest Chicken Salesman around.

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Today, back in 1961 Robert Noyce was granted a patent for the integrated circuit, or microchip. To our kids and our grandkids computers coupled with the internet have been around forever. But, the earliest opportunity to even contemplate all we take for granted electronically began only a mere 59 years ago.

It’s springtime here and in The Netherlands. This is what the fields of tulips look like prior to the bulb harvesting start-up.

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And yes. The weather was great. And our now nine year old Viliami burst out with the fact that he had a great Birthday (even though no kids were present).

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Also today, back in 2014 the city of Flint began sourcing water from the Flint River and with that began a debacle which brought to the forefront incompetence and cover up on multiple levels. Meanwhile the citizenry of Flint is still paying a price.

It’s beginning to look more and more like the only thing I’ll be doing in Canada is pay our Property taxes. The border between Canada and the US is closed and from what I read, Prime Minister Trudeau is in no hurry to open it. Fingers crossed – maybe Trudeau is waiting for Black Fly and Mosquito season to pass first.

While out on my walk I passed a UPS Store. Got a bit of a chuckle when I spotted the Amazon driver dutifully standing in line (#5 from the front door) to either deliver or pick up. No favoritism shown here.

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Make it great week, stay safe and be healthy!
Dirk


liberté
04 18th, 2020

It’s early Saturday morning, a coffee time to cherish. And probably with little guilt, I’m drinking it without a mask!

This week America awoke; awoke from weeks of sullenly obeying. The nation arose. I don’t know the ‘why’ for this despotic ongoing virus crackdown. I do know that I’ve lived long enough to have developed a pretty decent BS meter, and it’s going crazy.

”It is not that we don’t have enough scoundrels to curse; it is that we don’t have enough good men to curse them.” ~ G. K. Chesterton, known as the “prince of paradox” was a poet, lay-theologian, philosopher, arts critic, and oh yes, an author

Loss of wit – This whole WuVirus business has my disposition hanging on a thin tether. I have noticed the beginnings of a loss of humor and this cannot be. So when the dear lady at the YMCA called me (note; I am a member) to ask if I needed anything; “Medicine or a food perhaps”? I answered; “no”. “Anything else then”; came the response. I answered that I’d stopped talking with my wife long ago and that possibly having them send me a comedian would be good. This only caused a snicker at the other end – there was no verbal response. I don’t think I’ll see my requested comedian.

Bernie – I believe it was last Saturday, but possibly it was earlier that week that my phone rang. I got to it just as it clicked into Voice Mail mode, but in time to see the screen which read, “Team Bernie”. It was a sad moment. I had just missed a great opportunity to have an hours-long discussion, uplifting, of substance, and possibly inspiring. Marcia took note of my whining and labeled it, “bizarre.” Notice how well we’re making do in today’s new world?

liberté, égalité, fraternité? – Finally we’re seeing the first instances of civil disobedience. We have a large number of competent Governors in a variety of states. There are others who have used the Corvid-19 opportunity to turn their states into ‘Police States’. Most of these latter types have issued their dictatorial edicts under the banner of; “following the science”. Peel away and what’s left is an onerous array of edicts which justify nothing, but promulgate their own narcissistic, power hungry, and political favoritisms. Dental work or a knee replacement becomes “unnecessary”, a liquor store staying open or an abortion on demand is a necessary health item. A ‘weed’ store is fine, a walk on the beach is a no, no. Insanity!

America is different because of our early beginnings and our Bill of Rights and its implicit freedoms. Unlike our European brethren and their acceptance of more governmental cover (France even has this thought embedded in their motto: “liberté, égalité, fraternité”), we have always wanted Government out of our lives wherever possible. Although the push towards ‘Globalism’ over the last decades has made us different from what we had enshrined in our beginnings. The turn towards Globalism has chipped away at the ideals of our historical backdrop and has inserted an ever larger intrusive governmental dependency into our daily lives.

Even so, it is in America where we see an outburst due to people having ‘enough is enough’ by demonstrating in a number of places, most notably this week’s occurrence in Lansing, MI.

Interestingly, on the heels of Lansing’s outburst came their Governor’s ghoulish response; a ridiculous response issued under the umbrella of Covid-19 necessity, an edict which had caused the people to rebel in the first place – i.e. do this again and I’ll do it more.

Fish – Last Tuesday, mask and all, I headed into town for Take-out Tuesday dinner. It had been a good while since stopping by Alabama Fish Bar. The place normally holds five people max, standing, shoulder to shoulder (no groping allowed – EVER). I mentioned the latter since the proximity issue always made digging around for one’s wallet a bit of an issue; “sorry just getting my wallet” and a hint of a smile.
Now, we did the socially responsible distance thing, and each person waited outside on our carefully positioned designated piece of Blue masking tape affixed on the sidewalk. By the time we made it inside the Fish Bar we had become so used to communicating with people around us done through a face-covering mask that placing our order to another person wearing a mask was now a new normal.

     

Eyes Open – This whole Wuhan virus thing is not yet finished. In fact it’s just beginning. Remember the name “Shi Zhengli” when it starts to become more visible as details of the Wuhan laboratory start to unfold. Couple the whole virus affair with China’s Communist Party apparatus subterfusing any international efforts to discover the cause of the pandemic. Then there is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cow-towing to and parroting of China’s propaganda. The whole history of the WHO is questionable, beginning with this statement from Brock Chisholm, the very first Director-General of the WHO (1947 –1953)

”To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men, their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism and religious dogmas.” ~ (from) a Speech given at the, Conference on Education, Asilomar, California, September 11, 1954

As late as January 23rd, 2020. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (the current Director-General of the WHO) declined to declare the China virus outbreak as a global health emergency. Even after travel to China the WHO did not release independent advice to the International Community; only Chinese issued details were shared. All this caused weeks long and possibly months long delays in dealing with the virus issue – think lives lost, misery caused. This focus on the WHO is not over yet.

Excellence in Television – Being homebound does mean that we’ve enjoyed some very fine specials, such as Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid Hope show and audience-less Grand Ole Opry performances.

     

     

Fini – Later today it’s off for our first ‘real’ venture. It’s patio time and a cookout celebrating Vili’s Birthday. No masks, but proper Social Distancing for you worry warts.

Dia’s mom, in her mid-nineties, was tested for the virus and is negative. CONGRATULATIONS. I’s a shame that it’s such a heavy handed approach which dictates no visitors to our elderly in residential facilities, A careful routine with controlled numbers, yes but, mandating ‘no visitors’ for these folk is just cruel. I remember visiting a hospitalized friend several years ago. His cancer treatment had killed off all his white blood cells and donated cells had been inserted. At the time he had no immunity! A carefully overseen clean-up and garbed routine allowed my visit – it is possible and safe if done properly.

A neighboring Condo unit had an internet issue and so Spectrum came out. Things did not go well and eventually there were three trucks out in front (a crew and a called in supervisor). As work progressed, we too, lost our internet. I just knew that this crew had it all confused and in reverse – no masks, but shoe booties. When they finally left I realized that it was just good to have people in the place normally, meaning without masks (I just couldn’t get used to those silly blue booties).

And probably a first, Kirstin home-made great looking jars of Dill Pickles complete with dill-seeds.

Make it great week, stay safe and be healthy!
Dirk


John 3:16
04 11th, 2020

It’s Saturday morning, still dark, and at 37° a vast difference from the 80+° the other day. That day, April 9th, was our annual Winston Churchill Day; a day set aside to recall the moment when the former Prime minister of the United Kingdom was officially declared an “honorary citizen of the United States”. I raise my fresh mug of coffee to, what is probably my most favorite historical character, Sir Winston Churchill.

”There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.” ~ Winston Churchill

TeleHealth – From my pre-retirement world I am still connected through a few publications. One, which I always check, is called strategy+business. The latest contained an article on TeleHealth, and per happenstance, last Sunday my Neurologist’s office called to see if my appointment could proceed via an on-line face hookup. I was all ‘thumbs-up’ and ready; Tuesday afternoon was the moment. Now, time for a (bit lengthy) quote from strategy+business;

“Technology is poised to flip healthcare from scarcity to abundance. Think of this in the context of Google Maps. A couple of decades ago, a map wasn’t exactly scarce, but you had to trudge to a store and pay money for a physical product that was printed in limited quantities. Today, every owner of a smartphone can tap a screen and get a map instantly for free, and that map does vastly more than the old physical maps — it can even route you around traffic jams. Technology moved maps from being relatively expensive and hard to get to being free and available seemingly out of thin air.

That’s the power of shifting something that was physical and bound by geography to a digital and cloud-based format. This dynamic has transformed industry after industry: media, retail, music, banking, and education.

Its healthcare’s turn, and the coronavirus crisis looks like it could be a turning point.”

Recently the Trump administration waived some rules about cross-state TeleHealth. Here’s the potential plus; “so, if there’s too much demand in New York, for instance, the system could tap doctors with open time in other parts of the country. Doctors could see patients at all hours, without keeping an office open. And patients wouldn’t need to waste time in waiting rooms, sitting elbow-to-elbow with other sick people.”

My Doc told me he “loves it”. It satisfies for first visit and follow-up contacts especially well and using it (even in the early stages of the new cloud-based technology) satisfies 80% of what he hopes to gain from each visit. Me? I felt comfortable, interactive – to us even reviewing my recent scan, and it was super-efficient. A Five-Star all Thumbs Up!

One of our local hospitals, St. Elizabeth in nearby Edgewood, KY, said that a year ago they managed between 250 and 300 TeleHealth appointments. This year it’s over 20,000 sessions.

Just think, it hasn’t even reached the point where Artificial Intelligence has really crept into the equation. It won’t be long before AI takes over the pre-primary care. Especially once it auto-connects to our wearables collecting our vital details. It’s a new world staring us in the face.

Flatten the curve – Does bring its own set of quirkiness. On the plus side is Wimbledon. They apparently paid $2-million a year for pandemic insurance for the past 17 years (Total $34-million). This year’s cancellation payout will be $141-million.

NBC News stated that the US reported 1,264 deaths of the virus in a 24-hour period. That same period China (where it broke out) reported zero [remember Tiananmen Square? China also never reported a single death there].

Evolution to a degree that Darwin would be proud:
1) “Trump giving Americans false hope
2) Trump peddling snake oil
3) Trump made a couple drink fish-tank cleaner
4) Hydroxychloroquine might, maybe, be helpful
5) Trump is in it for the money”          (Prof Margaret Cleveland)

A vast majority of doctors concur that Hydroxychloroquine & Zithromax might be effective for the virus. The media starts blasting that it’s unproven! Fake! And not backed by science! These same ‘wizards’ insist just as loudly that we Must! listen to a high school dropout Swedish kid.

The numbers, both hospitalizations and deaths, are fractionally of the predictions, predictions which are downright garbage and forced our economy to shut down and grind our celebrations to a halt. We’re in lockdown. In Kentucky Police are recording the automobile plate numbers of churchgoers, and in Michigan it’s forbidden to travel from one residence to another. So far we’ve willingly watched as our freedoms and our Bill of Rights are torn. Maybe it’s time to act like the Buffalo which face the storm and head straight for it; not cower and run away as do cattle.

So, back to the positive. It appears that Texas Governor Greg Abbott is working for business to re-open beginning next week; “restore livelihoods… aggressively…but safely”. Leave it to Texas to display some common sense!

Final Numbers – are in. Last Wednesday evening Mother Nature put on one amazing spectacle. I sat in our sunroom absolutely mesmerized as sky, cloud to cloud, lightning blasted across all points of the sky without ceasing for about an hour. My phone alarm went off and tornado sirens wailed – a couple of different times.

By morning we were informed that 70,000 were without power and that 7 tornados had touched down in the counties east of us.

Friday evening happening – Marcia noted on our Neighborhood site that there was activity a ways away by The Belvedere. It was dusk and I took to the street. I’m still not sure exactly what transpired; but with lots of cops, detectives, Crime Scene vehicles, and a Coroner’s wagon I can make a pretty good guess. With all the face masks and milling about I didn’t think it appropriate to let them know that I was just being nosy. I guess that soon we’ll find out exactly what went on; it doesn’t look good.

I just heard an Owl, so I deduce a bothersome Owl was not the issue.

     

Fini – April 14th, 15th, and 16th, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the moon will appear together and all should be visible to the naked eye (or try a decent pair of binoculars).

To help entertain the little tykes as parents walk them around the block, Marcia has ‘hidden’ bears in the windows of the sunroom for them to discover. She also placed a doll Vai and Dinah always deemed “creepy” in the same window, sitting complete with a knitted face mask. Kids still see it as ‘creepy’.

On this day in 1976 computer hobbyist Steve Wozniak hand-build and offered to the public a new machine dubbing it the Apple I.

As one who enjoys Jazz, I came across this photo of many of the really big names in Jazz. This from Esquire’s 1959 Golden Age of Jazz photo shoot by Ari Kane.

With music on my mind. For the past three or so weeks the various neighborhoods I walk through are abuzz with contractors. I’ve discovered that well before I get to a place being worked on I can tell about the work crew. If the DeWalt radio is pumping out modern country, not the ‘King of Swing’ Bob Wills or even Merle Haggard stuff, but the current Country genre; they’re probably from Kentucky.

If I hear a thump-thump base and then soon recognize the ‘lilt’ of some Rap-Crap I know it to be an Urban crew. Latino music is just as recognizable. And I’ve also come to realize that it’s this style that has me strain for more as I walk on past and it fades – just a little bit more please.

Lastly, do keep a journal documenting this WuVirus; Corvid-19. The loss of family contact, the face masks and the isolation, the constraints and the 6-foot rule; record it all before this event too fades into the history books. Based on all that I read, Corvid-19 will eventually be viewed as an average flu-like event, no worse and no better, and no more or less dangerous. An event, for whatever reason, exacerbated by a global panic, which then turned into a global recession (or possibly a global depression).

I’m hopeful that now that Easter is here, we’ll begin to see our leadership focused on a path forward.

Donald Trump, US President; ”We built the greatest economy in the world, I’ll do it a second time!”

I hope!

Make it great week, stay safe and healthy!
Dirk


Insanity
04 4th, 2020


It’s Saturday morning and I am tired. Tired, of being subjected to the constant stream of hyperbolic intensity over Covid-19. Tired, of being coerced, sheep-like, into a behavior pattern which changes constantly. Tired, of feeling like a lab-rat. Tired, of watching life as I know it careening down some demon roller-coaster. Tired, of the general malaise and grief exhibited by those cooped around me.
And, I don’t think this needs to be thus.

”Funny how everybody with a degree is sitting home right now and the trades are running this entire nation.” ~ Sandy Schneider

January and February we were told that for the citizen on the street Face Masks were of no benefit. This past week we’re advised by these same ‘experts’ that the only sure way to avoid the dreaded virus is hand washing plus the wearing of a Face Mask (only now these items can’t be found anywhere).

Churches are closed – the new and improved sacrament is ‘virtual’. Even with a funeral those grieving are limited to ten (the ten very best grievers) and they are properly spaced graveside. At the same time, a few blocks away, an abortion clinic is operating in ‘business as usual’ fashion (3,000 guaranteed deaths a day nationally).

Two hours a day are taken up with the ramblings of our President, who insists he mix ‘hope’ with ‘hopeful-projections’. The shoring up specifics he leaves to the experts; these, by and large, are ‘expert’ at painting only the worst case scenarios. They have already been installed as our new WuFlu Rock Stars – have you gotten your Dr. Fauci Bobblehead or a magnificent imitation Dr. Birx scarf yet?

Really now, could we not also have input from the nation’s best constitutional law and Economic experts. I’d like to get a more complete picture. And, while at it, how about some experts from the field trying out experimental ways to take the bite out of this virus (think of Hydroxychloroquine trials being conducted) – the silence on this subject by the CDC, NIH, and the like is deafening.

This well-staged event is then followed by an hour of Junior High Journalistic trainees who confuse the gathering and reporting of news with their 3rd hour debate class – through wildly swinging raised arms and, “me, me, me”; all the while looking for a ‘gotcha’ bit.

Flatten the curve – and we’re all pulling to do just that; even though the whole curve thing is based on a projection of a single model. Yet, for most of the nation the hospitalizations model has little reality. Our hospitals here aren’t under stress. Yet the Ohio National Guard filled up a parking lot with equipment in order to transform our convention center into a 500 bed hospital.


Hours of overtime were issued in order that the Mercy and Comfort (both 1,000 bed hospital ships) could be made ready and positioned ASAP. By mid-week all was a go. Yesterday the one had 12 patients and the other 3.

A day ago the head of our board of county commissioners held a press conference. She started by saying that overnight she was, “gut punched” by the news of two individuals dying due to Covid-19 – the first Covid-19 deaths in an area of almost a million people and after the virus running rampant for 3-months. After all was said and done, almost as an afterthought, it was mentioned that both had “underlying causes”. Sad, but good grief.

I have lived through other stressful world events: HIV, H1N1, SARS (had to fill out paperwork enroute upon returning stateside), mass shootings and 9/11 and our response to all of these was never a total shutdown or even a partial one other than air travel for a short period after 9/11.

Remember when President Obama and Joe Biden held daily briefings on the H1N1 pandemic? Neither does Andrew Pollack who presented that insight. [More than 12,000 Americans died of H1N1 US in 2009, and 275,000 were hospitalized]

On the scanner, Marcia reported that there is now a stream of calls revolving around stabbings, fights, and domestic altercations. It must be the pressure stress and of being cooped up. Thursday, close to the nearby Belvedere building, a guy was beating up on a woman in the middle of traffic. He could be heard yelling; “pay me my money!” The police came and that situation was resolved.

It’s not easy to ‘flatten the curve’.

Tale of Two Cities – Social Distancing is the only way to go when talking with all my neighbors and friends; and we all practice it (we’re very good sheep). Ok, the distance fluctuates between 3 and 6 feet, but we do it. Why, yesterday was an organized a neighborhood 5:00PM Front Porch Pour Happy Hour. Chairs placed on porches and in yards and a new ‘togetherness’ ensued.

Meanwhile the ‘homey-boys’ in a nearby house threw a party, guys wearing saggy-pants streamed in. The music thumped, hugs and secret handshakes ensued. Eventually the ladies started porch twerking. However, it was when basement-wall urination started taking place that Police were called. A while later a strapping policeman pulled up on his bicycle (cruisers seem to have also been affected by Covid-19). He dealt with the situation with good-nature and (for a while) things broke up and some left – high-fiving the cop on their way out. Social distancing apparently is interpreted differently. Will the outcome also be different or is it all part of the ‘soup’ we’re in?

But we try – As gloomy as our news is and as our outlook is (or so the TVs blare). People want the best. Parents with little ones walk by and wave. Even at 6+ feet the nods are a bit more frequent. And, it’s Springtime and hope does spring eternal. Even banners of hope have been positioned.

Collective Grief – It’s Kirstin who steered me onto an amazing interview with David Kessler on Grief. Kessler co-authored with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross dealing with her ground-breaking work on Grief and Dying.

The collective national grief we’re currently part of is dealt with head on, and the Podcast (attached) should be part of your weekend. Enjoy!

David Kessler and Brené Brown on Grief and Finding Meaning – Unlocking Us with Brené Brown

Fini – This week it’s one of those Birthday specials; Dia and Jeanne P.

Walks are as invigorating as ever. And, now that I’ve discovered the new walkway to our old part of town I can be seen on it at least every few days.

In music, we lost Bill Withers this week. Songs such as “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t no Sunshine” are iconic.

Under the ‘Really?” column; this headline from The Guardian in the UK; “Nightingales at risk due to shorter wings caused by climate crisis”. Seriously?

Under the “smile” column; “New York To Raise Taxes On Coronavirus Causing It To Flee State” (I presume primarily to FL). And also, a sign next to a Meeting Hall: “Procrastinators Anonymous Meeting Postponed Indefinitely”.

Lastly, some good things happening in the World:

Make it great week, stay safe and healthy!
Dirk