Essential Services

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When our state came up with their plan to shut things down, it was interesting to see what businesses were deemed essential, and thus allowed to remain open. Some were no-brainers (grocery stores) and others were head-scratchers (golf courses).

It was also interesting so see how these services adapted. Most of the local grocery stores in my area opened early and reserved the 6:00 – 7:30am time slot for customers who were over sixty and/or immunocompromised. Shortly thereafter they placed directional arrows on the floors and the aisles in an attempt to direct traffic a certain way. Most hospitals I know of, including ours, pretty much cancelled all elective procedures, and treated only true emergencies and COVID patients. Telemedicine ruled the day as far as seeing a doctor was concerned, and no dentist offices were opened.

As the novelty of this wore off, it became clear to me what industries and services were more essential than others.  This discovery was not based on scientific analysis or anything like that, but instead was based on my observations of places I have been, and whether they were filled with or had lines of people waiting to get into the establishment.

Other than grocery stores, although the traffic in these buildings aren’t nearly what they were in the beginning due to the proliferation of business that buy and deliver your groceries, the three most essential services I’ve witnessed are gun stores, package stores and the medical marijuana dispensaries.

I don’t own a gun and have no desire to, however during my travels at the beginning of the shut down I was driving along a street in a busy commercial area and noticed a long line of people meandering from the front door into the parking lot. It was the first time I had seen anything like it, and I was naturally curious. Glancing at the name of the business I saw it was a place that sold guns and ammo, and immediately thought, “Uh oh”. I haven’t been by there or any other store of that nature since, but it made an impression.

The smaller package stores I’ve driven by always seem to have a handful of people waiting in line to get inside. The larger one I frequent doesn’t require people to wait in line, or have one person at a time enter the building, but masks are a requirement (they ask you to leave otherwise) and they have those same directional arrows on the floor that the grocers do.

The dispensary had by far the longest line of folks waiting to get in. The first time I experienced this, I figured it was the day of the week (Saturday) and the time of the day (10 in the morning). Since I’m not the most patient guy in the world, I decided the next time I went it would be early on a week day. Anyone purchasing items from the place is required to pre-order and specify a time and date of pick-up, which allows them to have everything prepared ahead of time and get folks in an out of the building ASAP. So the day I selected wound up being early on a Friday morning, about an hour after they opened, and it also happened to be a grey, dreary, drizzly day. So I naturally figured I would be in and out in a heartbeat.

Boy, was I wrong. There were fifteen people already waiting at the door when I arrived, and that line almost doubled in size shortly after I arrived. We were all standing six feet apart, on a dreary, damp and overall nasty day waiting to score our supplies. It took twenty minutes for me to actually enter the building, and five minutes to obtain and pay for the goods. There were no more than three customers in the building at any one time. I haven’t been there in six weeks but will need to make a trip soon. It will be interesting to see if the experience will be different or more of the same.

Guns, booze and weed. What a great combination! Not sure if this means anything, but I have to shake my head at the implications. If I was the cynical sort, I’d conclude that people need to self-medicate to escape reality/boredom, and they also are ready, willing and able to blow anyone away who threatens them.

It makes sense when you consider there are two distinct camps who view the pandemic in a totally different light, that the forces of hate and fear are becoming untethered, that we are more politically polarized than ever, and that stories about excessive police force with tragic consequences are sadly becoming commonplace.

Who could blame anyone who wants to get blasted to escape the madness? Hopefully these same folks have the good sense to keep the guns under lock and key and out of reach while they are escaping.

God help us if they don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts 2

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Normal?

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One of the benefits of following and reading other bloggers’ work is that you can sometimes steal an idea and run with it, which can be handy if you’re racking your brain trying to come up with a topic.

Such was the case for me this week, as it was one of those weeks where the time to sit and type was approaching, and I had bupkus for a subject. Then good ol’ Superman ended his Playing the Card piece with a question that is the title of this one. That question struck a nerve, and I instantly knew I had my topic. So thank you, Billy Mac.

“Normal” can be judged on so many levels: health, looks, intelligence (perceived or otherwise), attitude, what we do for a living, and personality, to name a few. I could throw politics into the mix, but I reserve the right to revisit that down the road because our current political climate is anything but normal. Today’s challenge is to be brief and concise, as I could rant and pontificate forever about this topic because it really annoys me.

I hate the word “normal” as it applies to people because implies that someone who isn’t has something fundamentally wrong with the them, and is less of a person.

I have Multiple Sclerosis, which obviously places me in a minority status, but I have hopes, dreams, desires and fears like everyone else. I don’t want to be treated differently, pitied, or viewed as something less of a person, and I certainly don’t want anyone to lower their opinion or expectations of me simply because I have a hitch in my giddy-up. I also don’t want people who see me for the first time to go out of their way to avoid me. Unfortunately, some of us who live with a disability help perpetuate this stereotype by playing the victim card, which I abhor, and give people a reason to avoid them because they are so annoying.

Nidan is pursuing a career in Human Services, so I have had the pleasure of learning about and meeting many people, mostly kids, who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome, ADHD and conditions of that nature. They are genuinely kind, unique, wonderfully quirky individuals who have an interestingly different point of view compared to us neuro-typical folks. Unfortunately, their black and white thinking often leaves them clueless when it comes to nuances and shades of grey. They are oblivious to social cues, and are often unfairly judged and shit upon by both peers and adults because they appear odd.

School districts aren’t kind to them either. Some don’t know how to teach the kids or how to assimilate them into the student body, and turn a blind eye to the constant and often vicious bullying they are subject to. And if you happen to be a kid who is clinically on the spectrum but is very high functioning and looks “normal?” Well, something must really be wrong with that kid, and they are treated accordingly.

While no school administrator would admit this, I suspect more than a few would like nothing better than for these kids disappear or be home-schooled. Either that or persuade their parents give them drugs to make them compliant zombies. It would certainly make their jobs easier.

People fear what they don’t understand, and often don’t take the time to learn about something unless it affects a loved one or family member. It is easier to remain ignorant and shun people we aren’t comfortable being around because they have problems, and could be a bad influence on our kids.

Our collective attitudes toward anyone or anything that does not fit our model of what should be has become progressively cruel, and it doesn’t help when our President sets the example by openly mocking and ridiculing someone with a disability. Perhaps this a symptom of an all-about-me society that is becoming increasingly narcissistic. Perhaps it a by-product of an evolving U-Tube culture that thrives on being sensationally controversial.

Does living with anxiety issues make you abnormal? Are you abnormal if your IQ is below average? Does being an atheist make you a warped, twisted individual? Does not being blessed with good looks, or having significant weight issues make you less of a person? I think not!

It feels like we have become increasingly intolerant and unkind towards anything different, and we gleefully put down anyone who is. It seems we have become so insecure that we have to tear others down to prop ourselves up. How sad is that?

It’s also misguided because nobody is perfect. Let’s be honest. We all have issues of some kind. Some are more visible than others, and some of us hide it better than others. But if we accept that premise, then what is normal?  Everything, or nothing?

The reality is we are all flawed to some degree, which makes us all the same. And in the final analysis, does it really matter?