Random Thoughts 2

writers block

Emptying this cluttered mind of idea fragments and thoughts that have percolated the last few weeks.

One of the many things I am fascinated about witnessing is how we as a society and culture adjust to the new reality once this is over. Think back to the World War Two era, where our citizen’s lives were dominated by this cataclysmic event for almost four years. While this episode in our history won’t last that long, I suspect it may take as long if not longer to adjust to the new normal compared to when that war was over, the soldiers came home, and reconstruction began.

The industries that will take the longest to recover, and may never be the same, are: Sports and entertainment; the hotel/guest services industries; the various travel industries. Until a proven vaccine is created and made available to the masses, I can’t see anyone being comfortable in placing themselves among a mass of people. I’m certainly not.

Be that as it may, we know that sports will resume at some point. But what will that look like until the vaccine is available? I think the days of all the seats being filled are gone until then. Perhaps there will be mandated gaps/spacing between seats, and food services will be suspended. Either way it will look and feel completely different. I think the basketball and hockey seasons are over, and I question how much of a baseball season is realistic. The NFL? Coin flip that it starts on time.

It will also be interesting to see how or if the various sports unions and ownership groups play nice in the sandbox as they try to adjust salaries and compensation to account for the loss of gate revenue. I doubt you will see mega contracts that have become commonplace emerge for a few years. Mookie Betts and free agents like him are going to get screwed. They may be better off doing one year deals until this all gets sorted.

There used to be a buffer between the emotions I felt and what I’d show, but not anymore. I find that I am much quicker to laugh, cry, or become angry than ever before. Is that just me?

Perhaps it is because I’m more reflective and am thinking about deeper stuff as events unfold, but I’ve come up with a LOT of good writing ideas. I have at least a half dozen things I can share via this blog. It’s just a matter of taking the time to develop them. For now, I start a post, write the opening paragraph, and let it sit for future development.

I could care less about politics right now, because I really think whatever “campaigning” occurs between now and Labor Day is a waste of time. This virus and how it plays out will dictate the election’s outcome. My only concern and frustration is that the virus issue has become a political football. Those entrenched in power are screwed if the economy is as dormant as it is now, so the pressure exists to end the distancing protocols and get people working again, which would be a disaster should that occur too soon. I mean, how good can the economy be if the virus growth explodes more than it has now , and the fatalities explode with it? Unfortunately, competing camps are getting different directives, which will make it take that much longer to reach the end of this road. In todays ultra polarized environment,  politics supersedes the common good. How sad.

Can we please stop with the lawsuits? An attorney in Connecticut filed suit against our governor over a new requirement to wear masks in public, saying it was an infringement on an individual’s constitutional rights. Can we also stop the mass protesting about “freeing” our people and the economy? Even if you are true believers that this is all overkill, and media-driven paranoia (which I don’t) are you really willing to take that chance and put you and your loved ones at risk? Haven’t you ever heard of science? I don’t get it.

When we do come up with a vaccine, what are we going to do about those who don’t believe in them? I can hardly wait to read the vitriol from those who feel nobody should be required or forced against their will to get the shot. An individual’s right is secondary to the common good in these situations from where I sit, so I say tie them down, give them the vaccine, and drown out the noise.

If you had to bet everything you own on the over/under as to when this threat will over, when would that be? My bet would be November 2021. That’s a long ass time.

Of all the little annoying things that crop up dealing with MS, putting socks on is at the top of that list. I typically do this while sitting on the side of my bed, but don’t have the flexibility I used to, especially first thing in the morning.  I can’t force the issue because if I do I’ll lean forward too far and fall off the bed (it’s happened). I have to put the left sock before the right (my bad foot/leg), because if I do the opposite, the foot slides forward and I find my body falling with it. So what is the solution? Putting them on before I go to bed.

The planet is going to get a break this summer. With less cars on the road, factories not running at full capacity, the air quality should certainly be better as the amount of greenhouse gases released will be significantly curtailed. Cities whose skylines were hard to see due to smog should look clear and pristine by comparison. I wonder if this will have any impact at all on the severity of storms over the next two years. It certainly can’t hurt.

I have access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Xfinity on Demand and a host of other platforms that I can’t think of off the top of my head, and there is still nothing to watch, which is sad given the expense. Guess I’m going to have to give things that appear interesting a whirl, but guess there will four to five duds for every keeper. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

I haven’t filled the gas tank in our two cars in over a month, and neither has much less than half a tank remaining. Bet I’m not the only one saving money like this without trying.

Am I the only one who is drinking more than before?

I was afraid that I’d gain a ton of weight while waiting out this storm, but I’ve actually lost weight. I suspect I am in the minority. It must be the stress.

Be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shit Happens

flood

Where do I even start?

For the past month, we’ve been preparing and gathering items together like bears gearing up for hibernation. The idea was to get enough food and supplies in the house to last several weeks so that when the worst of the virus surge hit, we’d be all snug and cozy in our safe place, with no need to go anywhere. During that time, our internal environment was pristine as no outsider has stepped foot into our house. The way we choreographed this was working to perfection. Then we had the flood.

Last Saturday was a nice spring day, warm but breezy. Showers were forecast for most of this week, so the idea was to seed the areas of our new lawn that had bare spots or were torn up the one time the driveway was plowed. K spread the seed, and I covered the areas with straw, then watered the areas so the wind wouldn’t blow the stuff all over the place. This kind of work is hard for me because I have to keep contorting my body to stay in a position on a surface that is not level, and is very lumpy and bumpy, so my balance stays centered and I won’t fall. By the time I got to the last section that needed the straw, a section directly outside the entrance to the downstairs apartment, my body was protesting. All I wanted was to finish the task ASAP, so I spread the straw, hooked the hose up to the outside valve, then grabbed the hose to water everything down.

As I was watering, I noticed the water pressure wasn’t the same as the last time we used that hose last fall, but didn’t think twice about it because I wanted to be done. The task took about ten minutes, then I shut off the hose, rolled it back in place, put everything else back in the garage, and dragged my carcass inside. After changing, I grabbed a beer, sat in my favorite chair, and got ready to relax for the rest of the day, which began by helping clean the house. I was spent, but content in knowing that I can still be useful, and was looking forward to enjoying the rest of the day now that everything on the to-do list was done. Some time later, the phone rang.

It was my mother-in-law, who said, in so many words, that she just stepped in a large pool of water and that it was all over the place. My initial thought was, “are you kidding me?” The second was an understanding of why the water pressure coming out of the hose was compromised, and all I could think of was “Oh Shit!”

K and I rushed downstairs, and entered the apartment through the basement. As we looked to our right up the hallway, we could see that water covered half of the hallway, and it was deep enough in some places, maybe a quarter to half inch, that you could float a kids toy on it. Instinct took over, and we shut off the water going to that valve, grabbed the large wet/dry vacuum we purchased during the construction process, grabbed every towel and rag that we could find, and started getting the water off the floor. By the time we were done, I had to empty the vacuum container twice. It was filled to capacity once, and was half-filled when we were finished. It’s a good thing that the water leading to the valve was on for just an hour, maybe less, otherwise it would have been much worse.

One entire bedroom floor, the one next to the outside valve, was covered and so was the bedroom closet. The water drained from the pipe and down to the floor, left the room and slowly meandered to the lowest point on the floor before we shut it off, which took it outside that bedroom, into the entrance of the second bedroom, down the hallway, and into the opening of the television nook. It was under beds, sofas, and tables. The entire process took maybe an hour as adrenaline took over.

Afterwards, when the job was completed, the realization of what just occurred set in, and I was livid, sad, discouraged, depressed……you name it, I was feeling it. I mean this is a brand new house! We’ve only been living here for six months. How can this possibly happen? If things aren’t bad enough with the virus, and the fact that it has depressed the real estate market so much that I fear it might take until next year to sell the old place, now we have to deal with this?

After calling our insurance company (thankfully there were no issues there), we had a mitigation team downstairs in less than two days. After using their moisture meters to isolate which walls got the worst of it and where all the moisture was, they cut out a two foot section of sheetrock in the affected areas starting from the floor going up, removed the insulation, then removed maybe a third of the brand new hardwood floor, which was necessary because some areas had started to buckle, and we needed to remove any residual water that may lay beneath it so we wouldn’t have to worry about mold growing.

Once the team was done, they left a handful industrial sized dehumidifiers on for three days. Then the plumber came. Long story short, the valve for the outside water that caused the issue is on the north side of the house. Even though we removed all the hoses and shut off the water going to that valve before winter, and even though it was not a cold, frigid winter, water apparently remained in the valve, froze, expanded and ruptured the pipe leading to it when we turned the water on. Chalk this up to fact that they don’t make parts like they used to, even if was made of copper. We know what to do to prevent this from happening in the future, but at this point who cares?

So we are back in construction mode. The walls are exposed, the floor is ripped up, and the place is unlivable. My mother-in-law has moved upstairs with us and will stay there until all the repairs have been completed, hopefully within the next three to four weeks. The pipe and outside faucet have been replaced, and the insulation guys have already come and done their thing. Then come the sheet-rockers, followed by the flooring folks, who have the hardest job of the bunch. Their task is to repair the concrete subfloor (it was gouged in a variety of places when they had to remove and in some cases chisel the planks off the floor), remove the glue then refit new tongue and groove flooring into the pieces that weren’t touched, and make it look like none of this ever happened. Then the walls get repainted before major cleaning commences.

The worst part of the whole thing is that we were all set up. We had our stuff, and our environment was secure. Now we have workman coming in and out of the place, and I am sure they are just as happy to be here as we are having them. We’ve lost control of the environment, and have to do the best we can as far as safety measures are concerned. At least we have the ability to clear the downstairs out and have the workman there by themselves, until they need to see K, that is. Remember, she was the general contractor as the house was being built, and knows where everything is. She’s also a bit of a germophobe, so you don’t have to guess very hard to figure out how thrilled she is with this.

I was ready to write and vent my spleen last Sunday, when this was all fresh, and was I was filled with despair and anguish, but decided not too because I’d sound like an unhinged crazy man. The rawness of the event has subsided, but the wounds are still fresh. I want to rail against fate, and ask things like why us? When are we going to catch a break? When is this dark cloud that feels like it has been hovering overhead going to leave?

But I don’t because life isn’t fair, and because I don’t want to tempt fate. The Gods are not kind or benevolent, and with our luck, they would sneer at us and say, “you think things are bad, let us give you something to really complain about,” and one of us comes down with the virus. I don’t want go there, so I grit my teeth and try to look on the bright side. We are all healthy, and as long as it stays that way and we emerge safe from this entire ordeal, we can cope with this, as badly as it sucks.

Intellectually, I know that day will come, and believe we will look back on this with a mixture of humor, awe and gratitude that we survived. But emotionally? It’s really hard to see the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel.

 

My Coronabeard

Beard

I have never been a beard guy. Facial hair yes, as I have worn either a mustache or mustache and goatee for more than half of my adult life. But a beard? It’s never been my style.

I grew one during the winter of my junior or senior year in college, primarily because I wanted to see what it would look like and, because I went to school in Maine, I thought it might keep my face warm during the winter semester.

It did keep the face warm, but I got rid of it after a couple of months for several reasons. The first was because it was much redder than my hair. Not carrot top red, but I didn’t like having my hair one color and my beard another. It wasn’t a good look.

The second reason is that my facial hair had the feel and texture of steel wool. If the color wasn’t bad enough, having a face that felt like it was encased in Brillo added to my lack of enthusiasm.

Lastly, I simply thought I looked my better without it, and as a hormonal college student, I avoided anything that might make me look less attractive to the coeds. So off it came, never to see the light of day again. That was close to forty years ago.

As you may remember from my last post, once I learned I would not be able to get my hair cut for the indefinite future, I vowed not to shave either, so the beard is back.  I figured, why not go for the hippie look? That was something I never had the balls to do as a teen because I was not the rebellious sort. I’m still not, but since I am working from home and we aren’t socializing, I’m curious to see how long both can get, and what that will look like.

The hair has a loooonnnnngggg way to go before I can say I have flowing locks because I had a short cut a few weeks ago. I also wonder how “flowing” the locks will actually become. As a person in his early sixties, my hair is much thinner than it used to be, my hairline has receded a LOT, and a bald spot has emerged on the back of my head. So how long can it actually get? Will it flow and look decent, or will it look like I stuck a wet finger in a live electrical socket? I guess time will tell.

The beard has been growing for a couple of weeks now, and it is no surprise that it is  mostly white. At least it blends better with my hair color now. And thankfully it is past the itching stage. For a couple of days it felt like I had ants crawling on my neck, and it was driving me a little cuckoo.

There’s no doubt the decision to grow the beard was an impulsive one, but there is a definite logic behind it.

While I would never consider myself a control freak, the element of control was the primary factor. Let’s face it. Our lives have been turned upside down and we are living in Bizzarro World. How long this lasts, and how much emotional and financial havoc it will wreak is unknown.  Hopefully, if we’re smart and take this seriously, we won’t succumb to the virus and will get past the worst of it reasonably soon. But since a quick and successful outcome depends in large part on everyone singing off the same sheet of music, which we know isn’t currently happening in The States, the truth is there is very little we can control about this situation.

Perhaps the idea of control has always been a myth, and we were living under the illusion that we have some control over our lives and destiny, but that illusion is clearly shattered for the time being. We are adrift and, like a sailboat on the open seas in the middle of a hurricane, we are hanging on the best we can, trying not to get swept up in the maelstrom. Therefore anything we can control, no matter how minute, is a welcome respite in this out of control environment.

That is why I chose to grow the beard. It’s my choice. I can keep it if I want, get rid of it, trim it, change its shape, and essentially do anything with it that I please. Everything about the beard is 100% within my control. It is the only thing in my life I can say that about right now. Of course, if K can’t stand it I might have to reconsider, but that might be a different story for a different time.

The other reason for growing the beard and hair is that when this is finally over, their respective lengths and degree of unruliness will be a living testimony for how long we had to endure. Now that the United States leads the world in verified COVID 19 infections (and we’re just getting started), I suspect I’ll be growing both for a while. New York City is the epicenter of the virus, and guess what state not only borders New York and NYC, but has many residents that commute to the big apple for work?

You guessed it! Connecticut! The southwest corner of the state, the one across the border from NYC, is getting hammered, and the virus is sweeping from west to east, mostly along the coast but its tentacles are inching north as well. We have over 1,200 confirmed cases so far, and that number doubles every two or three days. I believe I read that our state is in the top five as far as the number of infections per capita, which only fuels the belief that it will be a while before the worst is over.

I just hope I don’t look like a geriatric Grizzly Adams when that day comes.

 

 

 

Adjusting To The New Reality

Yawn

Now that I have accepted and come to terms with our new reality, the visceral fear that emerged when it became clear what we are dealing with has subsided, and I’m adapting. My priorities are in order, what is important is clear, and we are ready for the long haul that awaits.

In some ways, I embrace the simplicity of our new daily existence, but I can already tell that the two things that will be the hardest to adjust to are the isolation and boredom that come with it.

Maybe that is why I am calling and texting more. It’s comforting to hear familiar voices and talk about how we are and what we are doing. but it still doesn’t compensate for the fact that our worlds have shrunk and the physical human interaction we crave will not return for quite some time.  Perhaps it will never be the same.

I was never one who thought they would enjoy working from home all of the time, and that has been proven true. Not that I’m not grateful that I can work from home, but I always thought I would feel disconnected from our team, and I was right. I enjoy what I do, and knew I enjoyed the people I work with, but never appreciated how much until now. I miss them.

Boredom is a different animal. I’m in the house for probably 95% of the day on average. I work from home, and only venture to public places when I absolutely need something, so it is easy to get cabin fever and a little stir crazy. There is little difference now between a week day and weekend, which is really bizarre. The rebel in me wants to throw caution to the wind, give the virus the big middle finger, and live my life as though nothing has changed. It’s a nice fantasy, but I’m not stupid.

Perhaps that is why I go outside every day for at least a little while, and why on sunny days I will get in the car and drive. It’s important to see the world and know how people are adjusting to the new normal. The one thing I learned this weekend is that while you don’t see people outside like you used to, the one place you can still find them is at the golf course.

Boredom is also the reason why after months of inactivity, I hit the exercise equipment on most days. I like to feel my heart pumping, the sweat on my forehead, and the ache of my muscles because it makes me feel alive, and is another way to take care of and fortify my body. The results are nice too. My upper body is a little tighter, I feel more fit and I have lost seven pounds to boot!

But other things have evolved. I’m writing more, which is never a bad thing, as another way of feeling connected. I’m evening toying with the idea of starting novel number two in earnest, but we will see how that goes.

I’m trying to follow world events more to stay informed, but am avoiding most national network news programs because I find it depressing. Learning through print media is less sensational and dramatic, and we could all use less drama in our lives right now.

I have also decided not to shave or cut my hair until this is over. The hair cutting decision was made for me, as all barber and hair salon establishments are considered non-essential and have closed in our state. So I figured, what the hell? Why not stop shaving too. I’m curious to see how long everything will grow, and if I can actually grow a ponytail (although I am sure K will ultimately have something to say about that). It will be interesting to see if I look like Grizzly Adams when everything is said and done. It’s a different way of documenting how long our lives were disrupted by this episode in our collective history.

The only downside to this that my beard is almost entirely white, and it is starting to itch like a mother. The white/grey doesn’t bother me because it has been that way for a while. Having said that, I suspect that we will see everybody’s natural hair color when this is over, not to mention different hair styles.

I’m hoping that I will come up with other quirky things like this to amuse myself and combat the boredom, and would love to know if any of you are doing something similar.

Hey, whatever gets you through the day.

Another Line of Defense?

Red Cross

I just got off the phone with my neurologist, who said that besides the fact we know this virus is susceptible to soap (thus the need for constant hand washing), there is also some indication it may be susceptible to heat that exceeds 130 degrees Fahrenheit. So place a towel around your heads, put your head above a bowl of steaming water and inhale through your nose. The theory is that the heat will kill anything that settled into your nasal tract before it can get to your lungs.

I don’t know what the CDC or WHO has to say about this, but it certainly could not hurt, makes sense, and is drug free. I know this will become a part of my daily routine.

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Kind of War

War

When I last wrote, I somewhat flippantly said it wasn’t as if a nuclear blast was imminent, and mockingly asked if people would resort to wearing garlic necklaces. How things have changed during these last twelve days.

I now have enough food and supplies to last the better part of a month, completing that endeavor by hitting the package store and dispensary yesterday. I have been working from home since Monday, for which I am grateful. I am not living like a hermit, and continue to venture outside to get essential items when necessary. I also meander outside the house on sunny days, following the social distancing protocols to the letter.  Still, the experience is surreal to say the least.

What I have experienced more than anything else these last two weeks, is how my perception and perspective of things have changed. I have habitually looked ahead, and planned for stuff months in advance, primarily because it gives me something to look forward to. Now my focus is literally day to day. Many things that were important seem trivial by comparison, and my priorities are where they should probably have always been. I care about what is happening in the global markets, but am not obsessed by it. It sucks that this pandemic hit while I was trying to sell my house, but there isn’t anything I can do about it. At least I have an empty spot to use as quarantine headquarters if that becomes necessary. Sports has always been my passion, but I don’t care when or if any of the seasons resume. I have been diligent in my proactive MS treatment, but am seriously considering suspending all of it for two to three months.

All I care about is the health of my friends and family, and hope that we are all still here come 2021. Talk about a stark, sobering reality.

I fortunately have never had to experience the horrors of war, but lets not kid ourselves. We are neck deep into one. There isn’t any lead flying, and we don’t have to be afraid of the metal hitting the meat when we step outside, but this war involves projectiles that you can’t see, which is more unnerving when you think about it. I feel for those who suffer from anxiety in general because if I were an anxious person by nature, I would be constantly afraid that a person in my line of sight might be one of them, as if they were part of The Walking Dead, or that there was an invisible cloud of viral death lurking in pockets of air outside.  Rationally, I know that is not the case, and that by keeping the appropriate social distance and washing my hands constantly, I am safe. To say however I’m not anxious at all would be a lie.

I don’t blame our government for not preventing this because that was impossible. What I do blame them for however is not taking it seriously, preparing for it and at least ensuring that what was needed to test and treat once this hit was in place. They have failed miserably in that regard, continue to do so, and still mislead the public by painting rosy pictures about drugs that don’t exist, and that help in the forms of supplies and equipment is on the way. As citizens we are dependent on our Governors to take charge, and many of them are rising to the occasion, but it is tragic we have to resort to this. Working in the healthcare field, I know that front line staff is running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) and we still don’t have enough test kits. It feels like we are living in a the midst of a Stephen King novel. I just hope people remember this come November.

Unfortunately, we are not alone, as this brilliant piece by Bojana illustrates. God help us.

I am trying to appreciate the little things in life, like a glorious sunrise and sunset, sitting on our deck, and enjoying what nature has to offer.  As sometime who has been married for over 30 years, I am spending more quality time with K than I have in a long time, and enjoying every minute of it.  I am actually reaching out to friends and family more than before because I appreciate them more and because it is a way to feel connected as we isolate ourselves socially. It’s a pity it took something this catastrophic to make that happen.

I know that the large majority of us will not get sick, and that the majority who do will survive this. But what a sad and miserable way to go for those who don’t. I believe that we will see the good in people more than the bad as we all work together for the common good, and hope that feeling of brotherhood and community survives this crisis. Everyone needs to sacrifice and follow the social distancing protocols so our hospitals don’t get overwhelmed, like they are now in Italy and are starting to in New York City. If that occurs were are all truly fucked.

It is time to hunker down, follow the rules, hope that the worst will be over soon, and most importantly, survive.

I beg you all to do the same.

 

 

 

Preparing For The Apocalypse

Virus

No, this isn’t another post about the 2020 elections….

I don’t typically watch or follow the news that much because of the hype and hysteria that accompany most things considered newsworthy, but I made an exception about the Coronavirus, following its spread throughout Asia and Europe before it landed on our shores. Now that is has permeated our borders, I’ve watched its track from west to east, all the while trying not to get upset about this Administration’s lack of preparedness, their spin that minimizes the risk and characterizes it as more fake news and, well, I’m not going to get into that.

In our state, whenever the forecast calls for snow, even if the projected totals are minor, people go nuts and raid the grocery stores, as if a blizzard is coming and we will all be stuck in our homes for an indefinite span. I typically roll my eyes at this kind of freak-out, and have often wondered what would happen if something really  monumental were to occur. Well, these last several days have confirmed what I thought all along. The apocalypse is upon us. How else would you explain that sales of Corona beer have tanked since the outbreak.

Not that I am minimizing the gravity of what is going on, but seriously. It’s not like a nuclear blast is imminent.

I refused to get caught up in the hysteria as I watched confirmed cases of the virus reported in Florida, Maryland, Washington DC and New York. It was a matter of time before something was reported in Connecticut, which finally happened on Friday. Still, I  didn’t take the bait. It wasn’t until yesterday morning when I read that the Governor of New York had declared as state of emergency that I relented.  Assuming that something similar would occur in our state sooner than later, we bit the bullet and decided to stock up as much as  possible in the event there was a run on the grocery stores, or a state of emergency was declared in this state that curtailed our activity.

I hit several drug stores to find that the shelves that typically contained disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers were empty. The same went for rubbing alcohol. Fortunately, I then traveled to our local grocer’s to see if I could at least find the alcohol, which I did, but also discovered a recent shipment of the disinfectant wipes, so I grabbed a half-dozen of those.

My next step was to go to a Stop and Shop the next town over to stock up on non-perishable foodstuffs and as many paper products I could find. Kleenex was plentiful, but toilet paper and paper towels were not. Bleach was missing, not to mention various cleaners and any Purell or Lysol/Clorox wipes. A lot of the shelves that are normally brimming with items like rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal, were picked over.

Then I went to the local meat market to stock up, and even though I got what I wanted, they didn’t have as much I typically see.

So even though I felt a little silly about buying two months worth of product, I think it will turn out to be a smart idea because the situation I described will only get worse as the numbers of reported cases grow.

Our new reality is very strange indeed. As a society, we are used to to seeing a doctor and getting a shot, but there is no vaccine to be had, and won’t be for months. Instant gratification is not an option, so we have to revert to the old fashion way of treating this: isolate and contain. This makes perfect sense, although I have to admit I would be super worried and pissed if I had a parent in a nursing home and was prohibited from seeing them, as is the case in some states.

It’s a brave new world for most of us, so of course the immediate reaction is to overreact. I read this morning that some manufacturers of sanitizers and wipes said no product will be available until May. I also read where the company that distills Tito’s Vodka implored people not to use it for hand-made hand sanitizers because it only has 40% alcohol.  People really are losing their minds over this. What’s next, wearing garlic necklaces?

Yes, this is a serious thing, but it isn’t a death sentence. Less than 2% of the people who contract it succumb from it, and many believe the percentage is much less than that because not everyone has been identified. Elderly folks (defined as over 60 – when did that happen) and anyone with a respiratory condition are the high risk groups, and need to be vigilant. This puts me in the high risk group, which I wasn’t thrilled to learn. My eighty four year old mother-in-law lives with us in the apartment we made downstairs, and she is more vulnerable than me because she has COPD. So we will be careful with and protect her as much as possible, while I try not to be reckless or stupid.

As someone with MS, I’m not overly concerned about my health because the nature of the illness is an overactive auto-immune system that cannibalizes the body. Given the fact that I rarely get a sniffle anymore, I figured that would provide an extra level of protection should I mistakenly come into contact with the virus. But, I am scheduled for an Ocrevus infusion on Friday, and since that is designed to suppress the immune system, I’m wondering if it might be wise to defer it for a bit, and am waiting for a reply from my neurologist. My guess is that he will say to get the infusion, but work from home for a while afterwards just to be safe. I’m good with that.

So here we are, hunkering down with a house full of supplies as if it were the dark of winter with several feet of snow outside, instead of early March with today’s temps sniffing 70. I admit that I’m wondering how wise it is to attend events with large groups of people. I’m supposed to go to a couple of Red Sox games in April, and wonder how much risk I would incurr by travelling on the T (Boston’s subway system) or attending the game.

I think the decision not to go will be made for me because I would not be shocked if health officials ban the public from attending such events. After all, soccer matches in Italy will go on without any fans in the stands for a month. There have already been a handful of college sporting events here in the northeast that went on as scheduled but the public was prohibited from attending. It makes you wonder what will happen to March Madness, or the Tokyo summer olympics.

It also makes you wonder how political candidates really feel about going to campaign events and shaking all those hands. I cetainly wouldn’t be digging it.

It is going to be a wild ride. I just hope that we don’t get to the point where one can’t go anywhere, stores, schools, and restaraunts get shut down, and people’s ability to get everyday products are compromised. I also hope we don’t see price gouging, or, if things were to get really bad, looting.

Guess we’ll find out. Meanwhile, I really need to stop looking what is happening to the stock markets, my investments and 401K. That will make me sick faster than anything else.

 

 

 

The Long Slog To November

Ballot-box

We are hot and heavy into the primary season, and everybody has an opinion. I get at least a dozen posts every day from various Facebook friends that promote one side or tear down the other, not to mention an increasing number of posts from fellow bloggers.

There are two subjects I avoid like the plague, and political commentary is one of them. Having said that, I felt compelled to share my take one time between now and November, but assumed it would be after Labor day, when things really heat up. Maybe it’s because I can’t think of anything else to write about, but now seems as good a time as any because my beliefs aren’t going to change. Before I proceed, however, here are a few things you should know about me.

I am fiscally conservative but socially liberal, which puts me squarely in the middle. I believe in equal rights, freedom of reproductive choice, human rights and financial prudence. I believe those in need should have a safety net, but am against rampant entitlements. I believe climate change is the biggest single danger facing our planet, and that those who think it is bullshit are either fools or liars.

I value anyone who displays grace under pressure, and conducts their lives and business with integrity. I am not a political animal who eats, sleeps and breathes politics or voraciously consumes political news on a daily basis, nor do I believe in forcing my point of view on others. I generally vote for the person first, then their policies, and typically avoid anyone who is far right or far left. Truth and honesty is important, but I consider that to be a bonus because it is in very short supply these days, and perhaps always has.

So now that you know a little about me, I will get right to the point: there is no way in the world I will vote for the current occupant of the White House come November.

My reasons are not primarily political, because as much as I disagree with most our current policies, there might be one or two that I applaud (don’t ask).  No, my reasons are much more personal.

Quite frankly, I find our current President’s conduct and performance abhorrent. His personality and points of view check every negative box I own. I believe he is a lazy, uninformed, narcissistic buffoon who is more flash than substance, and is more interested in having people toe the line and kiss his ass than working as a team for what is best for the country. This is why he has surrounded himself with sycophants who are often ill-equipped to handle their assignments.

I believe he always has, and always will, be more interested in deepening the pockets of his various business interests at the expense of taxpayers instead what benefits everyday citizens. Why else would he refuse to release his tax returns? He doesn’t understand many of the difficulties and hardships we face, and certainly gives the impression that he doesn’t care to learn.

Unorganized and undisciplined, compromise and teamwork are words that are foreign to him. His uncontrolled ego can and, I believe, has been manipulated by foreign leaders, which makes us vulnerable.

The President sets the tone for the country, and the mood in this country sucks. And don’t blame the press or the opposing party because if the shoe was on the other foot, the press would still be on this like white on rice, and the Republicans in Congress would demonize him to a much greater extent than the Democrats have.  A large part of our collective mood stems from his combative nature, his demonization of anyone who criticizes him, and aversion of the truth.  I’m sorry, but I simply do not trust anyone who routinely lies and always blames anyone but himself for anything. News is fake if it is unflattering, and laws are a nuisance to be ignored it if suits his needs.

As a private businessman, he routinely screwed the little guy and ran various businesses into the ground. Bankruptcy is not a foreign concept to him, and I honestly believe that four more years of this administration will put us on the precipice of going over that cliff. The massive tax cut that was passed was misguided, benefited the financial elite, and made our debt problem exponentially worse. If this trend goes unabated, the day will come that makes what is currently happening to the stock markets, or the devastation of what occurred during the financial meltdown of 2008, seem like a picnic.

I didn’t vote for the guy in 2016, and woke up the morning after the election very fearful. I had never felt that way before, but after the shock of the result simmered a little, I was willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. What choice did we have? Unfortunately, the reality of what has followed only confirmed all the trepidations I held. In fact, the reality has exceeded what I most feared.

I could continue ad nauseam and list every single grievance, but you get the point. I don’t trust politicians, and the phrase “drain the swamp” certainly has it’s appeal. But our swamp is deeper and murkier than ever, and the one thing this experience has taught me is the value of a professional politician occupying the Oval Office, for our national security and world standing if nothing else.

He wants to operate as a monarch, which is simply incompatible with a democratic society. To give him credit, he has cowed his party into toeing the line, fearful his base of carnivores will eviscerate them in their primaries should they show any balls and criticize him. He operates like Michael Corleone, which he would probably take as a compliment.

The Democratic nomination will boil down to two distinctly different choices. I would have a hard time voting for one of those choices, but would hold my nose and do so if it came down to it, because I honestly would vote for Bevis or Butthead if that was the only alternative to what we have now. That is how deep my antipathy runs.

Speaking of Michael Corleone, one of his favorite phrases it that it was business, not personal. I’m going to turn that around by saying my feelings aren’t business. They are 100 percent personal, they are real, they are visceral, and I proudly own them.

Sorry if you don’t like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Winter of Discontent

eeyore

Winter has never been my favorite season. I can’t skate to save my life, and other than a short foray into cross-country skiing that died of natural causes due to lack of trails, I’ve never skied. So the normal diversions fans of winter enjoy to break up these long, cold, dark months have never been something I’ve embraced, not that it would matter now with my leg and balance issues. Winter therefore has been a season to be tolerated, not enjoyed.

This year has not been an exception, but what is different is the funk I find myself in. I’ve  been in such a foul mood lately I don’t even like myself.

As an optimistic, glass-half-full kind of guy. I normally meander through the first three months of the year in hibernation mode at an even keel, biding my time until the temperatures heat up and the buds start to bloom. Not this year, however.  Rather than proactively navigating the stormy winter seas, I find myself trying to steer this ship with a broken rudder and an inoperable compass.

I’m sure the natural letdown from the relentless pace we experienced during the construction and moving process has something to do with it, but it isn’t that simple. There are a number of factors at play that have conspired to suppress the optimism that typically begins to surface as we reach the end of February.

I’m sure the fact the house remains unsold plays a large part in this, but it didn’t bother me too much until now. The peak selling period is on the horizon, so you’d think I have a pep in my step and feel good about getting out from under this albatross. But real estate is one thing K and I have had never had good luck with, and I can’t help but wonder if that trend will continue. I didn’t worry too much about it these last three months because I never expected anything to happen.  But it feels real now, and the thought of being stuck with the status quo is driving me nuts.

Then there is the weather. It’s been a weird winter here in southern New England, because there hasn’t been much winter weather to speak of. There has only been one named winter storm when by now we’d usually have at least a half dozen. Our combined winter snowfall hasn’t even reached a foot where I live,  and it hasn’t been super cold either. In fact, I think this is one of the warmer winters we’ve had in recent memory, so you’d think I’d be on cloud nine.

The problem is that while the winter has been an easy one so far, it has also been a very wet and cloudy one. The sun has rarely been out for extended periods of time and the rain has contributed to a dampness that permeates everything. It’s amazing how one’s mood is impacted by sunshine and brightness, and all this winter has taught me is  that I could never live in the pacific northwest.

We’re going to be putting the house on the market again soon, and I can’t escape the feeling that all the winter weather that we have so far avoided will become unleashed as soon as that For Sale sign goes up. That would be the icing on the cake.

Then there is all the craziness going on in our national politics. Nobody has a good word to say about anyone or anything, a sense of lawlessness exists that I’ve never experienced before, and we will be deluged with this shit for another eight months. The democrats can’t get their act together, and are in the process of squandering a golden opportunity to lighten the mood in this country, while the Republicans are openly disparaging anyone who does not share their world view. This election will be the meanest, nastiest, ugliest, dirtiest campaign I’ve ever witnessed. I wish I could sleep through it.

I also feel fat, even though my weight hasn’t changed all that much since Christmas. I’d like to be ten to fifteen pounds lighter because it can only help my mobility, but I’m not motivated in the least to actively diet. I’ve started working out more, so perhaps that will help, but the fact is snacking at night is one of the few pleasures I enjoy, and consuming nothing but low-fat, low-salt goodies just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s a double-edged sword.

Lastly, the one thing that has always sustained me during these bleak months, the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training, hasn’t been anything to celebrate. Baseball is embroiled in the kind of scandal it hasn’t seen since the 1919 Black Sox, and my beloved Red Sox are getting swept up in it. The investigation into their role in the cheating scandal was supposed be completed by now, but it seems like it will drag out for another couple of weeks because of a “new development”. We’ve already lost our manager, and who the hell knows what other penalties and disdain are coming. It’s put a taint on the magical season that was 2018, and always will regardless of whether our actions pale in comparison to what Houston did.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, we just traded our best player, a generational talent who is perhaps the second best player in all of baseball, because of financial considerations. This coming from a team and organization that is worth billions of dollars. It’s poured buckets of cold water on a season that hasn’t even started, and has resigned most of us into thinking that the team has no chance of winning anything this year. Swell.

Of course, this could, and probably will, be a blip on the horizon come spring. The house will be sold and the economic binds that currently tie our hands will be removed. The skies will brighten, the weather will improve, and since most New Englanders expect the Red Sox to be not only the worst team in baseball, but a joyless team to watch, they will probably exceed expectations and surprise us all. The 2020 elections? Well, three out of four isn’t bad.

But until this becomes reality, my ship will continue to be tossed wildly on the turbulent seas. It will keep taking on water while I try to find something to extricate myself from this neck-deep malaise. Writing used to be an avenue where I could purge myself of whatever was bothering me, but that isn’t working either. All this whining I’ve spent the last hour committing to paper has done is make me feel worse because I’ve never admired people who whine, bitch and moan. My attitude has been to suck it up because nobody wants to hear your problems, and it could always be worse. I need to follow my own advice.

So my quest is to find a way to take the initiative and begin controlling my environment instead if it controlling me. The question is how.

Maybe it’s time for a brownie.

 

 

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Brownies

Brownies

I wrote extensively about my foray into the world of medical marijuana in 2018, but after penning five posts from July 2018 to November 2018,  I didn’t want to come across as the High (no pun intended) Priest of Pot, and haven’t talked about it since. That doesn’t mean I’ve fallen off the bandwagon, however.

During my almost two years of being on the state’s program, I’ve tried a number of what I guess you would call delivery systems. The old stand-by has always been the mini-vapes, primarily because they are the most affordable (which is especially important seeing I still haven’t sold my house), and because I can control the dosage.  My one concern about vaping is the fact that I am inhaling shit into my lungs that doesn’t belong there, so I have tried other forms of the product to see if I could replicate the experience and get the same results.

These other forms have ranged from edibles to pills. Pills, which were almost as affordable as the mini-vapes, were a miserable failure because they were too strong and left me feeling paranoid for a long period of time. The edibles (honey) were expensive and tough to dose.  I would put it in a cup of tea, but either used too much (more paranoia) or too little. So I stopped looking for other alternatives until the other day when I saw something new on the menu.

Hello Brownie Bites! Where have you been all my life?

If it wasn’t for the cost, I would ditch the vapes and gobble these treats exclusively. Unfortunately, they are the same price as the vapes, but where the vapes last a month, the number of brownies dispensed last only a week. Having said that, the experience is far superior to anything I have tried.

The great thing about these bite-sized goodies, besides the fact that they taste great and have no aftertaste whatsoever, is that the feeling you get is very consistent and mellow. The vapes by comparison come on strong, then recede to a pleasant plateau before fading away completely. And if you aren’t paying attention, one can take too much and experience the same paranoia as with the pills and honey, except it doesn’t last nearly as long.

Brownies sneak up on you. You get a warm sensation, and shortly therafter the warmth and relaxation spreads throughout the body. All of a sudden it dawns on you that you have a complete head and body buzz. The feeling isn’t overpowering, and your body and soul are completely relaxed. Talk about Nirvana! Anyone who suffers from anxiety would love them.

The other positive is that the sensation lasts three to four hours and there are no peaks and valleys. It’s like talking a slow, smooth elevator up a very tall building before coming back down in the same smooth, deliberate manner.  You don’t feel sloppy, and could interact with people without acting or sounding like you are stoned. It’s also inconspicuous because it’s food. You could pop one in your mouth in front of anyone and nobody would be the wiser.

And while this could be my imagination, I swear I walked better and more confidently the two times I have tried them.

So I have definitely found a winner, one that I will use to supplement the vapes to give my lungs a break. I just wish there was more stuff like this at a more affordable price. Of course, I could economize and reduce the frequency in which I use the stuff, but why bother? Like the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.