On Stupidity

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything of substance here. Of course, after you read this you may determine I still haven’t posted anything of substance. You be the judge…but I don’t necessarily need to hear your verdict. 🙂

In fact, I’ve been awaiting a shipment of Drivel. Turns out it has been sitting in a cargo container at the Port of Baltimore for quite some time. The COVID-19 pandemic has been messing with a lot of things in our supply chain, eh?

You might remember the story of this blog. I started it right after a National Emergency was declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You also might remember that one of my first rants was about stupid people. Truly, no insult is intended when I suggest people are being stupid. When someone is stupid, I argued then on the basis of a definition from Google Dictionary, it is because that one is “showing a great lack of common sense.” That definition has recently been updated by Google Dictionary from the Oxford Languages to read as follows: “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.

No insult is intended because, in fact, all of us have been stupid at some time. There is no sin in stupidity, thankfully, because I have been among the stupidest of the stupid. Indeed, I have been the Prince…no, make that King…no, make that Emperor of Stupid. I won’t go into the details. You’ll have to trust me when I say that I’ve been truly stupid at times. Because I have to count myself among the stupid, it is hard to point fingers at other stupid people.

Still, it is important for us to talk about stupidity because of its danger.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and minister who was also concerned about stupid people. His interest in stupid people grew as he watched Adolph Hitler come to power in Germany prior to World War II. His observations grew into a Theory of Stupidity. Now, I’m not going to try to explain it because this video from Sprouts School does it so much better than I ever could. Before you read on, take the next 6 minutes to watch it. You won’t regret it.

Welcome back! Pretty fascinating stuff, huh? You can read the excerpt from Bonhoeffer’s papers that inspired this video and I hope you will. The video uses much of that text word-for-word. It is useful to have the text in front of you for your reflection. But let me pull a couple of interesting quotes from that text and include them here.

You’ve probably noted already that Bonhoeffer could take issue with one aspect of the Oxford Languages definition. He might not agree that stupid people can be lacking intellect. On the other hand, though, he might agree because he also writes:  

The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect, but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

The reason for their stupidity, Bonhoeffer argues, is that they are made stupid or that they allow it to happen to themselves. Indeed, people may not only sacrifice their common sense but their intellect to others. How and why that happens Bonhoeffer wonders.

Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or of a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity…The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This quote reminds me of a video I saw on both Twitter (not always a reliable source) and in Newsweek (a usually more reliable source) during the past few days. Here’s the gist of it from the person who posted it on Twitter:

End Times preacher Sharon Gilbert says that an alien imitated her husband, and then it tried to have sex with her, and then it claimed to be Xerxes, and then Jesus got involved, and then the alien turned out to be a reptile with a posse of gargoyles.

@hemantmehta

I know. You are wondering if this is an accurage rendering of the clips. I did too. It is but, really, you need to go back to the links above and watch it for yourself just as I did to be sure.

Two things are noteworthy to me in the video clips. First is the banner that runs under the video. You can make a donation and receive The Great Delusions dvd set by Josh Peck. Uh huh. Second, at the end of the video that same Josh Peck, who is one of the two guys listening to this story and nodding along in rapt belief says, “Well, the Bible says…” and then the video cuts off. Don’t you also want to know how in the world Josh Peck connects ANYTHING she said with the Bible?!?

However, this behavior from Josh raises an even bigger question: Can Josh Peck even recognize a great delusion when it is sitting six feet from him? Of course, this distance calculation does assume they are practicing “social distancing” and why wouldn’t they, right?

Sharon Gilbert is an evangelist who specializes in End Times fear mongering. She talked about this close encounter of an alien hook-up on Jim Bakker‘s television show (yes, he still has a show). Now, consider who she is and what she wants in light of Bonhoeffer’s quote about “every strong upsurge in power” whether of a political or religious nature. I’m not sure which kind of power she is craving but it could, of course, be both. Do people listen to her and follow her, thereby granting her power? According to her Twitter account, over 6,700 stupid souls do follow her. Again, “stupid” is not an insult. These are people who, in Bonhoeffer’s words, have been made stupid and allowed this to happen to themselves. I’ll let you count for yourself the number of people in that one video segment (including Jim Bakker whom you only hear) who are clamoring for so much power over others.

Stupid people are on my mind again because we are now over two years since the Novel Coronavirus first appeared on the scene in China. We are 20 months…yes, 20…since the National Emergency began. Through 2021 we have all been yearning for a return to “normal.” Yet, we learned this week COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. in 2021 are higher than they were in 2020, even with vaccines widely available, accessible to most Americans, and usually free. Look, I know there are legitimate reasons why people cannot take the COVID-19 vaccines, but stupidity should not be one of them. Let’s be honest…stupidity accounts for millions of people refusing the vaccine.

Yesterday, as American’s were celebrating a mostly “in person” Thanksgiving, news was breaking about a new “heavily mutated” COVID-19 variant in South Africa, Botswanna, Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel that is scaring the pudding out of epidemiologists and researchers. Overnight, European countries that were reopening are closing again to travelers from South Africa. Earlier today, Friday, November 26th, the World Health Organization named the new variant Omicron. In the same article New York Times reports the U.S. is closing its borders to seven countries in Africa. Curiously, though, we are not closing to Hong Kong, Belgium, and Israel. Hmmm.

Bear in mind what Bonhoeffer said about stupid people. They are more dangerous than evil people.

Why is this?

When people become stupid they relinquish their intellect and common sense to another person who needs them to do this so they can feel powerful. Whether it is an End Times preacher, a spouse, a colleague, a boss, a leader, a politician, or even a president it matters little. The effect on the stupid person is the same: they give up the ability to think critically for oneself. They become a mindless clone for person who seeks to control them like a puppet. As the Bonhoeffer video illustrated, they even begin to sound like the person who has taken their intellect, sense, and power. Hence, they become a weaponized minion of the powerful one.

If we are to find our way out of the pandemic, we’ve got to help free the people who are stupid about the pandemic. Bonhoeffer writes,

Yet at this very point it becomes quite clear that only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity. Here we must come to terms with the fact that in most cases a genuine internal liberation becomes possible only when external liberation has preceded it. Until then we must abandon all attempts to convince the stupid person. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Frankly, I’m not sure what “external liberation” looks like in this situation, especially in an age when social media holds so many people captive to the unadulterated, unmediated crap it flings at us.

I do believe in the power of relationship to help people find a way out of stupidity. Daryl Davis, in his TEDx Talk, gives us some hope for how to use relationship to liberate people from their stupidity. However, like Davis, we have to find the will to act and the courage to engage.

If you liked this TEDx talk, you may also enjoy the longer documentary from PBS about Davis, Accidental Courtesy.

Remember, as Bonhoeffer wrote, “The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other.”


Farewell to Facebook…er the Meta-verse

In case you hadn’t heard, Facebook has a new name. The new name for the company that we used to know simply as Facebook is Meta. The name change came at a time shortly after Frances Haugen (aka The Facebook Whistleblower) went public with everything she knew about the nefarious company and its leadership. At a time when the company is being seriously questioned about its power and its abuse of power, it decides to announce that it desires even more power…you know, Meta power! Sigh. Now, doesn’t THAT give you confidence in the leadership of Meta?

For me, that was it. I decided to leave all things Facebook in October. Honestly, I can’t remember when I’ve felt better! It’s a great feeling to be unhooked from that time, brain, and soul sucking platform. Okay, so that’s how I experienced those platforms it and I respect you if that is not your experience. Just don’t try to Messenger me. You can still reach me through this blog or in the following ways:

Leaving all thing Meta means I won’t be sharing this blog on Facebook, What’s App, Messenger, Instagram, etc. You are welcome to share it in anyway you like. I’ll still speak to you and count you as a friend. But my divorce from Meta is now final.

545

This. Makes. Me. So. Angry.

National Public Radio and news outlets throughout the United States and world reported this number today. What is the number? Why is it significant?

You will remember that Trump and his minions, in 2017, decided it was a good idea to deter the flow of undocumented people from Latin America countries south of the U.S./Mexico border by kidnapping their children. (Thank you, cowardly lawyers and Trump sycophants Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein for making it “legal” for the U.S. to get into the kidnapping and human trafficking business.). In 2018 the ACLU sued and a court ordered the reunification of children with their families. However, there were about 1,000 families which were not covered by that order.

Of those approximately 1,000 families, there are 545 children whose parents still cannot be found according to the U.S. Justice Department and the ACLU. NBC reports that some of the parents who have been found elected to leave their children in the U.S. with family members or sponsors for fear of their child’s safety back in their home country. Yet parents of 545 children still cannot be found. Look at that number again: 545.

There is little news that I have a physical reaction to these days. Sadly, my tolerance for the inhumanity, cruelty, stupidity, and evil of the Trump administration has grown some and I’m less likely to get sick to my stomach when I hear about the latest act of barbarism. Not today though. I was made physically ill by this news.

I am struggling to reel in my rant at this point. I am so outraged, so angry. However, as respectfully and calmly as I can, I want pose a question to my friends who are thinking of voting for Trump because he is “pro-life” and “pro-family.,” Can you please tell me how “losing” these parents, likely making each of the 545 children orphans, is either “pro-life” or “pro-family?” Really. I’m not baiting you here. I’m asking.

Many Latin American families I know (and I am part of one) deeply love their children and are committed to their safety, well-being, and sense of family. From what I know and have observed, that is “baked in” to the culture.

For any child who is missing their parents and has no idea what became of them the hurt must be nearly unbearable. As a parent, this news makes me sick to my stomach, but it is my heart that hurts. Any parent who has known the pain of separation from a child knows that hurt. For many of us the hurt is temporary. That is not likely the case for these parents and children. They may never be with one another again.

Shame on you Donald Trump! Shame on you Jeff Sessions! Shame on you Rod Rosenstein! Shame on all of you cowards who suck up to such stupidity and evil each day!

And shame on you, my friends, if you dare give any more support to such evil.

June 19, 2020 – Juneteenth & the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Today is June 19, 2020, also known as Juneteenth. In my June 18th blog (which got posted late due to a technical glitch) I wrote about Juneteenth, provided several links to excellent resources about the holiday and focused on the anthem which is associated with it, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

This date is also significant for something that happened 99 years later, on June 19, 1964. After a 54-day filibuster, the United States Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by a vote of 73 to 27. The House passed the legislation by a vote of 290 to 130. President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2, 1964.

President Kennedy had pushed hard for the passage of the Civil Right Act in the Fall of 1963. When he died by assassination in November 1963, President Johnson took up the cause of its passage and moved quickly on it. On March 26, 1964 the Senate debated the bill. On that day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X both showed up to watch the debate. The two men met for less than a minute. It was the first and only time the two would ever meet.

Despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 fifty-six years ago, there has not been the progress made that was hoped. Today, however, there is some hope that an inclusive, just, and equitable society will finally emerge.


stories of covid-19

There is no good news on the Novel Coronavirus front today.

We are approaching 120k in the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Today, at this moment, we stand at 118,695 deaths. Over the weekend it is likely we’ll hit the mark. IHME is now projecting over 200,000 deaths by October 1.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Washington Post that we are still in the first wave of the pandemic. He explains it this way:

The one that we’ve been dealing with over the last few months has been what’s called “mitigation,” namely to, in a very dramatic way, separate the virus from people by the so-called “physical separation” of one person who might be infected from another. That’s the reason why we talk about the distances of physical separation, wearing of a mask, washing hands to interrupt that interaction between the virus and society that has been successful to help contain the onslaught which we’ve unfortunately experienced, which has been very severe, with now 120,000 deaths . . . in 2 million cases in the United States, which is extraordinary. That you would consider a wave.

How do you go from one wave and not have another wave going? Well, first of all, unfortunately for us, we still are in the first wave because even though there’s variability throughout the country, where some places like New York City are going very nicely down, staying down so that they can start to reopen, simultaneously, we’re seeing in certain states an increase in cases and even now an increase in some of the states of hospitalization. What that directly is related to is complicated. It’s a combination of testing more, but not explained completely by testing more, because some of the states really do have a real increase in the percent of the tests that are positive.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, The Washington Post, June 18, 2020

The World Health Organization is reporting that the pandemic has entered a “new and dangerous phase” and the pandemic appears to be accelerating. Yesterday (Thursday) 150,000 new cases were reported worldwide, a new one-day record. Almost half of the new cases are in the Americas.

Just ahead of Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma scheduled for tomorrow night, the state reported a surge in new Novel Coronavirus cases. Yesterday (Thursday) 450 new cases in a single day were reported, which outdistanced the previous one day total 259 by nearly 200. Tulsa had 82 new cases and Oklahoma City saw an increase of 80 cases.

Despite this and warnings from public health officials, Trump is forging ahead with the rally. In do so, he also adds fuel to the country’s other pandemic – racism and discrimination. There are protests planned for the rally and Trump has responded by saying that:

“Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,” 

Trump, USA Today, June 19, 2020

When you read the full article, be sure to read the response to this threat by William Kristol, former editor of The Weekly Standard.

God help us all. God save us from the Stupid (having or showing a great lack of common sense) and the Ignorant (lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.)


salsa friday

One of our favorite performers is Carlos Vives, who, like Clemencia, is a native Colombian. Anytime he has been on tour in the DC area over the past several years, we’ve been in the audience. Of course, live shows may not be around for a while so we are becoming content with recorded music and music videos. Carlos Vives is best known for the revival of villanato, a nearly lost style of Colombian folk music. Don’t imagine it to be anything like American “roots” folk music. In this recent release, Vives is performing with RubĂ©n Blades a very danceable salsa. Enjoy! It’s a great way to dance into the weekend!


chickenman – episode 63

The Hummer, the Crowned Prince of Wordless Silly Songs, is still on the loose. The Winged Warrior is hot on the trail…kind of…if he can only get into his chicken suit.


Day 73 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

For every Stupid Person who ignores the rules that keep all of us safe, another person cannot enjoy the freedom that Stupid Person feels they alone are entitled.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under a Sunny Cloud of Disappointment

Keeping Social Separation
Keeping Social Separation in the Time of COVID-19 – #alonetogether

Clemencia threw me out of the house today. Well, it wasn’t THAT dramatic! Actually, she invited me out of the house to go golfing. The golf course I play has been open since May 15th but I’ve been reluctant to venture out because of our risk level and the incredible spread of the pandemic in our community. However, with her encouragement I decided go play golf.


Join Liz Weaver and Me for Tenacity, Humility, and Collaborative Leadership on June 2nd

I’m honored to be joining my good friend and colleague, Liz Weaver, on a Tamarack Institute webinar titled Tenacity, Humility, and Collaborative Leadership. The webinar will be on Tuesday, June 2 from 1:00 to 2:00 PM Eastern via Zoom and it is FREE! All you need to do is sign up here.

Liz is the Co-CEO of the Tamarack Institute, an amazing social and community change organization based in Waterloo, Ontario. Their work on poverty reduction in Canada is extraordinary and if you don’t know them, you need to know them. Liz and I have collaborated on articles and projects in the recent past, but this is the first time we’ve done a webinar together. Anytime I get with Liz by phone or on Zoom, I always learn something new and come away with a stronger “can do” spirit. I’m honored and excited to be doing this webinar with her. Please check it out and please plan to join us. (P.S. Liz told me today that there are currently over 400 signed up. Come on in! The more the merrier!)


The Golf Outing That Wasn’t

When the golf course reopened on the 15th of this month I drove over to see how they were handling the re-opening. I was really impressed. No one was allowed in the club house. Golfers with memberships checked in on one side through a window and those who paid by the round signed in and paid at a window on the opposite side of the building. Everyone was required to wear a mask and everyone did. Distancing was practiced quite well by everyone. You could share a cart only if the person you were sharing with was someone who lived with you (e.g., spouse, child, family guinea pig, etc.). They were carefully following the protocols established by the state and the county. Remember, the golf course is in Prince George’s County which is the hottest COVID-19 hotspot in the hotspot that is all of the Metro DC area. Ironically, it is located less than a half-mile from the state’s COVID-19 temporary morgue, which you’d think would be a powerful reminder.

From that experience I decided it would be okay for me to try to play when the weather was warmer and I had a free day. That day was today. Early this morning Clemencia asked if I planned to go golfing. I was a bit non-committal because even though I did, I have been concerned about the risk and, even worse, bringing the virus home to her. When I got dressed, though, it was in golf shorts and shirt. By noon I was strongly leaning toward giving it a try. By 1:30 PM, after I had finished the “must do” work items for the day, I was actually anxious to go. Sensing that (well, actually, she caught me wearing my golf shoes in the house), Clemencia invited me to get out of the house. After I asked her “But are you sure?” about seven times, I finally left.

The parking was nearly full at the golf course, which was surprising for a Wednesday afternoon when most people are working. But, then, I realized many people were not yet back to work. In all, I was glad the golf course was getting the business.

However, as I got my equipment out of the car and started walking to the club house I began to notice the absence of masks, the absence of distancing, and the abundance of really Stupid People. I saw people whom I strongly suspected were not related sharing golf carts. I saw people standing and sitting around the club house in groups and without masks. To get to the check-in window I would have had be in the midst of them.

Then there was the straw – you know, the one that broke the camel’s back? One of the golf course maintenance workers was disinfecting the cars (which was good) but his mask was at or under his chin. It made for a lovely decoration but it was non-functional as a mask.

Without hesitation, I walked back to my car, loaded my golf bag, and drove back home. It was a deeply disappointing experience. I’m happy to report, I didn’t cry like a baby and pitch a tantrum. But a tear did trickle silently down my cheek.

What’s really amazing and which really infuriates me about this time we are in is not just that there are Stupid People – but that many are also selfish, self-centered, and seemingly entitled. For every Stupid Person who ignores the rules that keep all of us safe, another person cannot enjoy the freedom that Stupid People feel is their entitlement alone. Golf is not the only sport with Stupid People though. Tennis, pickleball, and basketball all have people who find ways around the rules to get on the court and play their games. This makes the also prime candidates for the Stupid People Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, while Stupid People think only of themselves…

Today, at about 5:00 PM Eastern, the death toll in the United States from COVID-19 hit 100,000.

After all the Stupid People I saw last weekend in the news who were on the beaches and at parties, after all the Stupid People I saw at the golf course today, and after all the Stupid People I heard about this week, I am losing hope that we will get out of this without a death toll rivaling the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919 (which was 675,000 by the way).

God help us? Maybe. But maybe we could help God out by being less stupid.


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 41 – Join Chickenman as he christens the new Midland City Hall…kind of.


Song Parody Wednesday!

Cheryl from Pennsylvania, and avid reader of this blog (or so she says…oh, wait, maybe I paid her to say that?) wrote me to say how much she likes the song parodies. So, Cheryl, this is for you and everyone else that likes these as much as you and I do.

Let’s kick it off kids with Chris Mann, whose song parodies I’ve featured before, a singer and musician who came in 4th in the 2012 season of “The Voice” (another reality TV show I’ve never watched). Mann is originally from Wichita, Kansas where he turned down a really great offer to be a lineman.

This is a first time in the Fabulous Five for the Holderness Family. They are, well, a family that specializes in making music and music parodies and a bunch of other stuff. Strangely, they seem to make a living at it. More power to ’em!

The Kiffness, from South Africa, is no stranger to this blog though he does seem to be a little “stranger” than some of the other performers featured here. But then, they are all just a bit strange in their own way. This a fun one gang!

Whoa, look at that, the Holderness Family has another in this week’s Fabulous Five. I’m not really a fan of Disney music but this was fun to watch. I loved the costume changes midsong!

Finally, rounding out our Fabulous Five for this week is RaĂşl IrabiĂ©n, from Mexico, who does one of the best COVID-19 parodies of Bohemian Rhapsody (my favorite song) that I’ve seen. IrabiĂ©n has a terrific acapella group Invoca you can check out as well.

Why stop at five? Here’s a bonus parody from Randy Rainbow, perhaps the most prolific and political of the song parody-ists. (Is that a word?) And remember, DO NOT ingest household chemicals!

Stay safe, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep an eye on the numbers as they go up. They aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Tom

Day 72 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

At about noon there was a knock on our door. I looked through the peephole and didn’t see anyone. I assumed it was a delivery left in front of the door as it is usually done these days. I opened the door and there they were – Bert and Ernie sitting there looking up at me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 Live to Blog from the Laundry Room

Keeping Social Separation
Keeping Social Separation in the Time of COVID-19 – #alonetogether

Thank you for allowing me to stray from the drivel track yesterday. I had to get it off my chest. I’ve been thinking a lot about character and ethics recently – for reasons I’ll explain below. Now, back to the drivel.


Idiocy Abounds!

When we last heard from Bert Left and Ernie Right, they were refusing to come in off the deck. There has already been so much loss and sadness in our world that I had been waiting for the right moment to tell you that Bert and Ernie had been lost. Last Friday morning I went to the deck to try to coax them back onto my feet but they were gone. There had been a strong breeze all Thursday and well into the night. I assumed they had been blown off the deck and were lying about somewhere in the Maryland National Memorial Cemetery, about a 100 yards from our house. I didn’t want to trespass over the holiday weekend but decided I’d go hunting for them today.

But I didn’t have to. At about noon there was a knock on our door. I looked through the peephole and didn’t see anyone. I assumed it was a delivery left in front of the door as it is usually done these days. I opened the door and there they were – Bert and Ernie sitting there looking up at me.

  • Ernie: Hey, bonehead! It’s about time you opened the door.
  • Me: Bert! Ernie! I thought you had been lost! How’d you get here?
  • Ernie: Nah, we ain’t lost. We know exactly where we are.
  • Bert: The Uber driver dropped us up here. Nice lady! But you should give us a key, you know.
  • Me: Uber driver?!? What were you doing in an Uber?
  • Bert: We had a little trip.
  • Ernie: Yeah, we got tired of just hanging on the deck and we definitely did not want to get back on your smelly feet.
  • Bert: So we went on a little trip.
  • Me: Oh really? How’d you get off the deck?
  • Bert: We just wiggled out of the clips and the wind carried us gently to the ground. Then we called an Uber.
  • Ernie: And the Uber took us to Ocean City, baby!
  • Me: Wait…you’re telling me you went to Ocean City? To be the beach? When did this happen?
  • Ernie: Real early Friday morning. We had all weekend at Ocean City!
  • Bert: Yeah, all weekend, bonehead, and it was great. You should’ve seen all the gorgeous yoga and tennis socks over there! Hey, Ernie, what was that cute little striped number’s name again?
  • Ernie: You mean Chloe? Or was that Maria? No, wait, it was Keisha, yeah, that’s right…Keisha! Oh man, she was somethin’ bonehead, but she wasn’t your type, you like wool socks.
  • Me: Are you guys telling me you spent the whole weekend on the beach?
  • Bert: Yeah, what’s it to you, bonehead?
  • Me: What’s it to me? You’ve got to be kidding! What’s it to me? Tell me something, did either of you geniuses wear masks and keep six feet apart from people?
  • Ernie (giggles): Hey, Bert, did you wear a mask and keep your distance from Keisha?
  • Bert (giggles back): Oh, yeah, Ernie I stayed just as far away from her as you stayed from Yvette.
  • Bert and Ernie erupt in laughter.
  • Me: Okay, I get it. So you did the same thing alot of other Stupid People did over the holiday right?
  • Bert: C’mon man, you’re really too uptight about this thing. I mean, jeez, it’s not a big deal. Look Mr. Trump doesn’t wear a mask and he’s always getting close to people.
  • Me: I really don’t care what Mr. Trump does because he doesn’t live here. You do. And now you can’t come back in the house until you quarantine for 14 days.
  • Ernie: What? What are you talking about? Where are we going to stay?
  • Me: I don’t know, but I can’t bring you into the house just to take you to the deck. You’d probably just wiggle free again.
  • Bert: Hey, that’s not fair!
  • Me: You know, I’m getting really tired of you two complaining that things aren’t fair for you. What’s fair for me and Clemencia? We are doing everything we can to stay safe and avoid infection. Then you two pull this crazy stunt. You are no different than some of our neighbors who don’t wear masks. You are the same as all those other people we saw in the news who went to parties and the beaches who didn’t wear masks and didn’t keep a distance. You are selfish and self-centered. And now, you leave me no choice.
  • Ernie: What do you mean no choice?
  • Me (lowering a plastic bag to the floor): Get in the bag. You’ve ruined it. I have not choice now but to wash you.
  • Bert: No you can’t do that! We are living beings! We are you!
  • Me: No, you aren’t me. I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier but I’m not stupid. You were safe here. You blew it. Get in the bag.
  • Ernie: No way! You can’t do this!
  • Me: Yes, I can and I will. You now pose a risk to us. In the bag. And if you don’t get in it willingly, I’ll nudge you in with my shoe.

By 1:00 PM Bert Left and Ernie Right were transported from the washing machine to the dryer. They were good friends to me and I miss them already. I’m very sad, though, for their stupidity. They were, too, in the end, apologizing profusely to me. Still, they had to be washed and disinfected. To be clear, I did not spray them with Lysol nor soak them in Clorox. They just needed a good washing. In fact, I think they appreciated it. I swear I heard Ernie say to Bert during the wash, “Hey, Bert, this ain’t so bad. In fact, it is little bit like that roller coaster we rode on last Saturday.”

If the opportunity arises for them to return, they’ve promised me they will. The next time, though, I hope they will be a little nicer to me and bit more humble. But we’ll see. For now, rest in peace in the sock drawer, Bert and Ernie – March 16, 2020 to May 26, 2020. Aged -I mean really aged! – 72 days. They will be missed but their stench – and attitudes – will not.


Pondering Character

Character and ethics have been on my mind a lot during the pandemic. I’ve been reading a couple of books and finishing up a long-over due project, which probably explains why.

One book I’m reading is a textbook entitled Ethical Leadership: A Primer. It is a college level book that examines and compares a variety of ethical theories. It is not the light reading I do at night before bed…but it is very interesting.

The other book I’ve been reading in a rather meditative way is David Brooks’ The Road to Character. It is a great book for reflective reading because the book is a reflection by Brooks on what he has learned about character. Brooks is a New York Times bestselling author, a writer for the New York Times, and a regular commentator on the PBS News Hours on Fridays. When I attend Quaker Meeting I sometimes need meditative reading material to help focus my mind and quiet my spirit. The Road to Character has been very good for this purpose.

The other thing that has been causing me to ponder character and ethics is work I’ve done recently to finish a project I started over two years ago. It was the WWJD Redux Project. I decided to self-fund a study to understand more clearly how people view the leadership of Donald Trump in light of the ethical and moral lapses he has been accused of. The study was accepted for presentation at the 20th Global Conference of the International Leadership Association meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida in October of that year. I had promised, as I was doing the study, that I would send the results to everyone who participated. However, that promise got away from me in the busyness and business of life. Over the past few weeks I shot a video of that presentation and am now am making good on the promise. This link, WWJD Redux Project, and the one above, take you to the project page on the Tenacious Change LLC website where you can find more information. If you are interested in watching the video presentation (its roughly 29 minutes in length), you can watch it on that page or below on the Tenacious Change LLC YouTube channel.

If you take time to watch the video and learn about the study, I’d be interested in hearing what you think. It is still relevant to our time…perhaps even more so in the midst of this pandemic.


A View of COVID-19

This image was taken from the website of the Johns Hopkins project that is tracking COVID-19. The view is of “Cumulative Confirmed Cases” worldwide. There is an old expression that seems appropriate here…let’s say it together: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 40 – Chickenman has followed the Teddy Bear into a party in the hotel, only to discover he is at a costume party hosted by the Teddy Bear. The Teddy Bear is, in fact, Scarfce O’Banyon, a highly respected Midland City dentist. When it was time to unmask, though, Chickenman found himself in a difficult position. But could he just fly the coop? Or just fly?


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your face, keep wearing your mask, and, please keep being smarter than Bert and Ernie.

Tom

Day 68 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Friday, May 22, 2020 – Live to Blog from the Beginning of a “Holiday” Weekend

Keeping Social Separation
Keeping Social Separation Together in the Time of COVID-19

Ah yes! The Memorial Day Weekend! The unofficial beginning of Summer! How shall we celebrate? I’m going to fire up the grill and cook up some bratwurst. Then I’m going to sunbath on our deck – with apologies to all my neighbors. And, once again, I’ll try hitting a few golf balls off the deck. No. Actually, I won’t be doing any of that. I’m going to be at home watching the second season of Homecoming on Netflix.

Instacart Success!

I’m happy to report that my second attempt to grocery shop using Aldi and Instacart was an amazing success. Everything went like clockwork! The delivery window was 10:00 AM to Noon today, and it arrived at 10:07. We had the most delightful delivery person. Her name is Oluwafolakemi but she goes by simply Kemi. She was amazing! She was careful, thorough, fast, and efficient. She got a five star rating and a good tip! I wonder if Instacart allows you to ask for specific delivery people? I’ll have to check into that as I don’t see us going to stores again anytime soon. (P.S. I did not accidently double our order this time.)

COVID-19 Gets Closer

If you’ve been faithfully reading this blog (and, of course, I know you have…who wouldn’t want a daily shot of drivel?), you know that we live in the midst of one of the three biggest COVID-19 hotspots in the U.S. Don’t be jealous…there will be more! Honestly, it is difficult to see the rules relaxed around the country and our state when we see the devastation of the virus all around us.

Today our county, Prince George’s, has over 13,000 cases and nearly 500 deaths. If our county were a state, we’d rank 27th in the number of coronavirus cases, between Mississippi and Alabama.

COVID-19 got close in other ways as well this week. Two days ago I learned that a young colleague in one of my work projects was very ill with COVID-19 for several weeks. Late last night I learned that the mother of a good friend died of complications of the COVID-19. We heard that a woman in the building next to ours tested positive for the virus.

And still…people are being stupid. Look, I’m not talking about the people who have to go out to work. Most of the people I’ve seen doing that are wearing masks, especially if their work means they have to be inside buildings. Today Kemi from Instacart was masked up. Words cannot express how appreciative we are for her not only wearing a mask but also doing the shopping for us. Instacart better be treating her well. We did our part.

No, I’m talking about the people who refuse to make even the smallest concessions to preserve the health and well-being of others. If I could get all those people in a room together (of course, they wouldn’t be wearing masks…but some would probably be carrying guns…go figure), I would say something like this:

Look stupid people. It’s not about you though you think it is. It’s about you and everyone else. Maybe you think you’re immune. Fine, everybody is entitled to any delusion they like. Maybe you don’t believe this is a real thing. Okay, you also have a right to be wrong no matter how right you think you are. Maybe you don’t care if you get sick. Well, fine to that too. Even though I think you are stupid, it doesn’t mean I want you to suffer and die, but it is your choice. I won’t try to save you if you don’t want to be saved. However, remember, this is not about only you.

You have no idea whether you are an asymptomatic carrier and neither do I. That’s the problem with this virus. We actually can’t see it coming. For this reason, you and I both need to wear masks when we are in public and still keep a distance from each other. When we each give up a little bit of freedom by wearing masks, we can all have a lot more freedom to come out of our homes and resume a something-closer-to-normal life.

Is that really too much to ask that you faithfully wear a mask when you are around other people and keep a distance from them? Really? If it is, I pity you. You have not only misunderstood what it means to be free in America, you are clueless about what it is to be a decent human being.

A reader sent me a link to this article in The Atlantic, The Real Reason to Wear a Mask. It is an insightful, thorough, and instructive article. If you already “get it” and understand the most important things masking up does, you can skip the article. However, please forward it to anyone you know who doesn’t seem to get it yet.

A Drivelous Idea?

Here’s a thought…probably half-baked. People are dying and the economy is in shambles. What if we had taken that $3 trillion allocated by Congress and simply divided it equally by the total population of the United States? This would mean every person would get an equal piece of that humongous pie. If my calculations are correct, that would be $9,175 per person ($3 trillion/327 million). This would have enabled the vast, vast majority of people in the U.S. to shelter-in-place for a number of weeks and only the most essential workers would have needed to go out.

Now, if everyone who received that money but didn’t really need it, because they could work from home or were essential workers, refused it, think of the potential. Then the families that really needed it would have that much more money available to shelter-in-place, shop for groceries online, order in food, hire online tutors for the kids, and stay out the stores where they wouldn’t be tempted to buy up all the dang toilet paper. We could have extended shelter-in-place even longer. Instead, the money got sucked up by a lot of organizations and businesses that didn’t need it. They wouldn’t have needed it either, if the money could have been put back into the people’s hands so they could have purchased their goods and services.

I know. I’m not an economist, I should stay in my own lane, and this may be the purest of drivel. I can’t help but wonder, though, what if we really believed in and practiced the Golden Rule or even just a Golden Rule? What if we really believed in helping our neighbors? What if we really lived by an ethic in which others were at least as important as think we are? Just wondering.

This video is required viewing by MBA students in my classes. We have to remember that the possession of money changes people. It is a very thought provoking video. That is why I assign it.

Funny Things from This Week

How tough has the sheltering-in-place been when a frozen pizza tastes like a fresh made, right-out-of the oven pizza?

No, I don’t mean a baked frozen pizza, I mean an actual frozen, frozen pizza.

In a Zoom meeting this week with about 25 people I asked this “icebreaker” question: “What is something you are learning during the pandemic that you hope to take forward and use in the new normal?”

One young woman, who is balancing working from home with homeschooling her children immediately responded, “How to ‘carry the 1’.” I’m guessing there are a lot of parents strengthening their math skills during the pandemic…as well as building their history, science, geography, and social studies knowledge.


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 37 – Chickenman is tailing a teddy bear and contending with an obnoxious operator.


To End the Work Week…Some Good News

Well…not really. I was getting ready to run the 8th, and as it turns out, final episode of John Krasinski’s Some Good News. This has been a free YouTube show that relied heavily on contributions from fans – who were not, as far as anyone knows, compensated for their contributions. He sold the show to CBS after a substantial bidding war and, of course, that means a lot of money. At this time, I haven’t been able to find out how much he made on the deal. Krasinski won’t be involved in the show except as an Executive Producer.

When I first heard about this show, I had doubts that a well known couple (his wife is actress Emily Blunt) could actually do something so selfless. Turns out my doubts were well founded.

Many fans, including myself, are not pleased. Of course, Krasinski can still redeem himself. Maybe he can share what he made on the deal with the many people who shared their stories and sent him their own material? Maybe he can donate his profits to organizations providing meals and other relief to families who won’t be selling shows to CBS and may not have incomes anytime soon. I’m a fan of Krasinski’s TV and movie characters, but I’m less a fan of him as a person today. Shame!


Okay, we are closing in on Day 70. Let’s see…OMG, that is ten weeks! How are we going to celebrate? How about this…

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and, this Memorial Day, remember the nearly 100,000 people who were in our collective lives in January but who are no longer here because of the pandemic and it’s horrifically bungled management.

Tom

Day 67 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Doing the mambo count up, we get to Mambo No. 8, again with PĂ©rez Prado and his orchestra.

Thursday, May 21, 2020 – Live to Blog with Mambo on My Mind

Keeping Social Separation
Keeping Social Separation in the Time of COVID-19 and #alonetogether

Clemencia and I love to dance. In 2006 we started ballroom dance lessons and learned to love a wide variety of dances. Unfortunately, all of the ballrooms are closed in our area so it will be a while before we are back out on the dance floor. Our favorites are cha cha, rumba, quick step, merengue, samba, and a little bit of salsa – which also encompasses the style known as mambo. Today I’ve got mambo on my mind…specifically Mambo No. 5!


It’s a Mambothon!

Let’s kick it off with the King of the Mambo PĂ©rez Prado! We’ve got Prado’s version of Mambo No. 5 (don’t worry the Lou Bega version is coming up). I really love the choreography that PĂ©rez Prado did with his orchestra. Not sure I’m wild about the outfits, but, ah, yes, great choreography and dancing!

Of course, there is the Lou Bega “Mambo No. 5” that was a huge hit in 1999. Bega’s version is a remake of the PĂ©rez Prado’s instrumental version you just heard. A couple of interesting factoids about Lou Bega. First, he is German (of Sicilian and Ugandan descent) and, second, his stage name is a respelling of his birth name: David Lubega. Bega was 24 years old when he got us all moving with “Mambo No. 5.”

At the risk of inundating you with too much Lou Bega and Mambo No. 5 (that’s really not possible is it?), you need to see this one…Lou Bega with AndrĂ© Rieu, live in Maastricht, Netherlands. AndrĂ© Rieu is an amazing musician. You’ve maybe seen him in concert with his Johann Strauss Orchestra. Rieu’s hometown is Maastricht and each year, in early July, he does a free public performance in the main square of the town. In 1999 I got to spend some time in Maastricht as part of a study experience and I fell in love with the city. I’ve often said that if I could live anywhere in Europe, it would be Maastricht. It is ancient city…it has 2,500 year old ruins dating back to Roman occupation. The square, which you’ll see in this performance, is magnificently beautiful. One of things on my bucket list is to be in Maastricht for one of Rieu’s homecoming performances. If you haven’t wanted to dance yet, this one will do it to you!

Doing the mambo count up, we get to Mambo No. 8, again with PĂ©rez Prado and his orchestra. This appears to have been made for a movie. The set, costumes, choreography, and dancing is just a little bit more polished. Enjoy!

Rosemary Clooney, auntie to George, popularized “Mambo Italiano” in 1955. It was a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and France, going all the way to #1 in the U.K. It was hastily written by Bob Merrill in an Italian restaurant in New York – which explains the Latin/Italian fusion, right? He was under a recording deadline so he actually “phoned it in” from a payphone – lyrics, melody, etc. Mitch Miller was the conductor and producer for the song and he managed to put together a winning combination. The song is actually a parody of mambo music and utilizes a number of nonesense lyrics. Still, it is fun, the beat is good, and the tune is catchy.

This last selection was a tough choice. Both Perry Como and Nat King Cole recorded “Papa Love Mambo.” I’m a fan of both. However, I featured a beautiful Perry Como song in an earlier blog so I had the easier choice of going with Nat King Cole. This man makes anything he sings better, doesn’t he? Clemencia tells me that Nat King Cole is beloved in her native Colombia and many other Latin American countries because he was one of the few Americans to produce a Spanish language album. He made the album in 1958 and in 2007 it was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame. Clemencia tells me that his Spanish was not very good but nobody cared. They appreciated his effort and loved hearing his silky voice interpret some of their favorite music. You can hear the full album here. This says alot about simply making an effort doesn’t it?


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 36 – Chickenman undergoes surgery…and the infusion of chicken soup…in an effort to regain visibility, while the whole of Midland City eagerly awaits the outcome.


¡Charlemos con Clemencia! Is Now Live!

Mi jefe (my boss) Clemencia gave a “thumbs up” to her new website. You can find it at www.charlemos.net. Now that you’ve met Clemencia through my blog, you need to meet her properly. I don’t know if you’ve noticed…but she always betters me in the stories I put in this blog. In fact, she is even better in real life. While I’m a doofus, she is a shining star!

And, of course, if you’d like to study Spanish, she is enrolling students for the Summer Session.

A Sad Reality…

Research out of Columbia University, reported widely this morning, indicates that a single week of inaction on the part Mr. Trump’s administration cost as many as 36,000 lives. This news comes as we are approaching 100,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19. This same article reports researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst estimate 113,000 deaths by mid-June.

Throughout the article linked above there are some staggeringly sad numbers, estimates, and models. Despite having this information in hand, Mr. Trump plans a visit to Detroit (indicating he doesn’t intend to wear a mask despite executive orders by the Governor of Michigan, who just happens to be a Democrat); he is pushing Charlotte, North Carolina to move forward with plans to host the Republican National Convention; he is encouraging states to go forward with in-person voting for the primary elections; and he keeps self-medicating with hydroxychoroquine.

You know what is really sad? All of it. Everything. To the “Nth” degree.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and try a little mambo today!

Tom

Day 65 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Honestly, I can’t help but feel that our country is sleepwalking into disaster. Do people not really understand that this is not the same kind of pandemic we’ve faced before?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 – Live to Blog NOT from Anywhere But Home

#alonetogether but are we ALL in this together?

For quite a while now the news has been COVID-19 24/7. And this is as it should be. We are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and it is only appropriate. However, in the meantime, there have been other things happening in the world – some related to COVID-19, some not, and some that are just…well…interesting.


In Other News…

I’ll give you the headline and you can click on the link to take a closer look if the story grabs you.

Tractor Day Offers A (Slow) Dose Of The Freedom Every Teenager Longs For
Police hunting for a man who seems to really dislike fuel pumps…
This Guy Found Something Very Unexpected Staring Through His 3rd-Floor Windows
2 Men Rob Convenience Store Wearing Watermelon Rind Disguises: Police
Virginia Tech gives honorary doctorate to service dog
Oregon Police Remind Residents: Don’t Call 911 If You Run Out Of Toilet Paper
‘Trump Death Clock’ counts preventable US coronavirus deaths
Bouncing back: Restaurant debuts ‘bumper tables’ amid COVID-19
90-year-old ‘Gaming Grandma’ dubbed world’s oldest gaming YouTuber

There you have it!


Trying It Again…Instacart

We are still under shelter-in-place orders here in our community. We are running low on groceries but it has taken a while a for that to happen. You may remember that a few weeks ago, in my first experiment of shopping online for home delivery, I accidently submitted our order twice. As a result, we received, only forty-five minutes apart, two Instacart deliveries from our local Aldi store. Clemencia found a way to get all of the perishables into their appropriate places in the refrigerator and freezer and we just went with it. (Okay, I was pretty embarrassed and didn’t want to send the second order back.)

It actually worked well. We have not had to do any grocery shopping for nearly four weeks. Now, though, it is time. Wish me luck!


A Reminder to Reach Out Others At This Time


The Adventures of Chickenman

Episodes 34 – Chickenman (now invisible) reports for duty at the Police Commissioner’s office in Midland City. However, it appears has had too little sleep.


In Reality…

All you have to do is read the abstract of this study published five days ago in the BMJ to know what a fool’s errand Mr. Trump is on. This particular study showed no positive effect of hydroxycloroquine in a treatment group of COVID-19 patients when compared with a control group who did not receive the drug. Even more, published on the same day is this study that concluded, “Adverse events were higher in hydroxychloroquine recipients than in non-recipients.”

Still, Mr. Trump has somehow convinced his doctor to give him a prescription for it and he has been taking it for more than a week. How frightened must Mr. Trump be of this thing he insisted was just like and no serious than the flu only a few weeks ago?

Nonetheless, there is Mr. Trump and then there is the rest of us. Just as something was working, maintaining “social distance” (which, of course, was actually physical distance), Mr. Trump decided it was time to open up the country.

Honestly, I can’t help but feel that our country is sleepwalking into disaster. Do people not really understand that this is not the same kind of pandemic we’ve faced before? In this moment there are 91,570 deaths in the U.S. as a result of COVID-19 and we are headed to 100K and beyond. When that happens, in just a few days, we will have passed the number of deaths attributed to the 1968 flu pandemic. Then we will be closing in on the 116,000 that died as a result of the 1957-58 flu pandemic. What is next after that? The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19. In that pandemic there were approximately 675,000 lives lost in the United States. God help us that the COVID-19 deaths don’t reach that level or beyond.

Indeed, God must help us because help doesn’t seem to be coming from anywhere else. We might be #alonetogether but I’m not convinced we are all in this together.

A breadline during the Great Depression.
  • If we were, everyone would be wearing a mask.
  • If we were, we’d have plenty of tests, ventilators, swabs, masks, gowns, hats, etc. to go around everywhere they were most needed.
  • If we were, major corporations and large nonprofits (which really should know better) would not have scarfed up all of the relief money that was intended for small businesses.
  • If we were, we’d be finding a way to help people do meaningful work and pay them for it after they lost their regular jobs.
  • If we were, we’d not be seeing food and meal lines form to feed so many people out of work.
  • If we were, we’d come up with more bi-partisan, innovative, and truly unprecedented solutions to ensure people were cared for in all ways – mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually – during such an unprecedented situation.
  • If we were, Mr. Trump would stop promoting voodoo solutions and politicians on both sides of the aisle would shut up, sit down, start listening to one another, and work together to provide leadership that would benefit the whole of the country – not just their consituents.

Well, we know this last thing is NOT going to happen. It is an election year. What’s a few tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of deaths that they should – God forbid – get in the way of re-election? So we’re all in this together, eh? I don’t think so.

I don’t know if I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or what. I know I did wake up at 4:30 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I do know that today, when I read the real news, it is hard for me to see that all of us are really in this together. Tomorrow I’ll try to get up on the other side of the bed.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep trying to see a bright end to the pandemic of idiocy that is fueling COVID-19.

Tom

Day 50 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

From this day forward, May 4, 2020 shall forever be known as the day that many people throughout the country were given permission to pee in the community swimming pool that is the United States of America.

Monday, May 4, 2020 – Live to Blog from A Kiddy Pool

#alonetogether

With apologies in advance…I’m going to use a word today you may not prefer and some imagery that you may wish to forget. It is in the interest of the greater good. Frankly, it is far less offensive than many things you’ve heard come from the mouth of the current President of the United States. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Today is National Pee in the Pool Day!

From this day forward, May 4, 2020 shall forever be known as the day that many people throughout the country were given permission to pee in the public swimming pool that is the United States of America.

Okay, not literally…I’m speaking figuratively, of course. I’m talking air, not water and COVID-19, not urine. But the idea is the same. Why May 4? Because this is the date when many states indicated they would start lifting the shelter-in-place orders that have been lessening the spread of COVID-19. Might I highlight again that those orders were working?

Very few of us would climb into a swimming pool knowing all swimmers were free to pee in the water whenever they felt the need. For decades common sense and decency have said you don’t pee in the public swimming pool. However, on this date many states are easing sheltering-in-place orders, thereby giving people permission to “pee in the pool” and put themselves and others at risk of causing COVID-19 to spike again, or resurge, or simply continue to grow at a steady pace. At least in a real swimming pool, all of the water is confined to the structure of the pool. Not so with COVID-19.

There are a dozen states which have not relaxed the shelter-in-place orders. I live in one of those and, frankly, I’m glad I do. We are not done with COVID-19 and it isn’t done with us.

However, Pennsylvania (to our North) partially reopened on May 1 and West Virgina (to our West) started on April 30th. Isn’t that just great? Here we are, in Maryland, doing our best to keep our part of the pool pee free. But, no, Pennsylvania and West Virginia say, “It’s okay…we’ll just pee in this corner.” Really? If I know a bunch of people are peeing in the opposite corner of the pool, I still don’t want to get into that pool. Would you?

I know I brought this up before, but this is really important. Take a look at this report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, COVID-19: The CIDRAP Viewpoint. It’s very readable, very short, and very compelling. The three scenarios it lays out for the future, plus the new case and death estimates released just today, should give us pause. But, nope, we are peeing away in the pool as if we just drank two gallons of tea.

I know the argument about the economy. My family and I are impacted by it too. Life has changed for us and not for the better. I want people to get back to work, too. I want the economy to recover. I want restaurants, movie theaters, stores, malls, golf courses, clubs, bars, music venues, etc. to re-open. Our Congress and Administration has allocated $3 trillion (give or take a couple of billion cause they’re so small and easy to over look) to help people get by during this time.

Unfortunately, in the COVID-19 Great Money Grab, the funds that were intended to keep people employed seem to be missing in action, quite possibly scarffed up to satisfy the “needs” of banks, large corporations, and their stockholders. Here’s the thing: According to the Small Business Administration, there are 30 million small businesses in the United States, comprising 99.9% of all businesses in the country. These small businesses employ (or used to employ) nearly 59 million people, which is 48% of the total workforce. The CARES Act allocated $377 billion to small businesses. Still, there is not much evidence this relief is getting to the small businesses and, more importantly, to the people they employ. It is no wonder people are feeling restless because, in fact, they are feeling ripped off again, they are feeling scared, and, now, they are getting hungry.

We’ve got to fix this and we need to re-open. I got it. But before we do, we need to see fewer Stupid People (people without common sense) out running around and even fewer Ignorant People (people without knowledge or awareness) leading them. Until we do, I fear we are going to be back in this same place in just a matter of weeks.

Fortunately, the Stupid People are becoming more obvious because they are self-identifying. How do we know them? They are the people without masks and who refuse to maintain physical distance. They are everywhere! Including in our neighborhood. I spot one or two Stupid People when I go out for my daily walk. I even know some of them by name. The Ignorant People are a little harder to differentiate from the Stupid People but we still see the fruit of their labor. They are the ones who are organizing and leading the Stupid People in the protests against the shelter-in-place orders.

There is a pretty simple solution to being able to re-open and also be mostly safe most of the time, which may be as good as it gets for a while. We know it because it has worked in other countries where there are, apparently, fewer Stupid and Ignorant People. What is it?

The solution is for everyone to keep physical separation and mask up all the time and everywhere…but it requires all of us to agree to do this and then really follow through like real patriots would do.

I can hear the Stupid and Ignorant whining already, “Why do we all need to mask up?” Let’s talk about pee again.

  • Imagine for a moment that you are standing in a swimsuit, near that pool we’ve been talking about, and a little boy runs over to you, drops his pants, and pees on your bare leg. He has now exposed you to anything that has been lurking in his urine.
  • Now, imagine you are standing by the pool in long pants. That same dang kid runs over, drops his pants, and pees on you again but, now, because of your pants, not as much pee gets on you and it reduces your risk.
  • One more time. This time you are standing by the pool in long pants, the same really irritating kid runs over to you, and pees at you, but this time he forgets to pull down his pants. Ha! Nothing gets on you, it all stays with the kid…who richly deserves it since he is being such a brat.

This is exactly how wearing a mask protects you. Your mask protects others; their mask protects you. That’s it. Pretty simple, eh?

So, can we re-open the country and remain safe? Yes, but only if we act like reasonable, responsible people (including the Stupid and the Ignorant among us). It means we must be willing to do three things every day for as long as necessary and everywhere we go:

Clemencia and I are masking up – everyday and everywhere; for ourselves and others. Join us!
  1. Keep a physical distance of at least six feet from every person we don’t already live with (and if we or they are sick, keep away then too). Even when we are in groups…keep at least six feet away from others.
  2. Wear a mask every day and everywhere, even if it makes us look goofy or less cool than we want others to think we are.
  3. Religiously, even fanatically, wash our hands and sanitize them when we can’t wash.

Honestly, is this too much to ask? If we really want to re-open the country, if we really want to stay healthy, if we really don’t want to make our loved ones sick, if we really want to be patriots, then we do what science says is necessary now and we keep doing it for our country until everyone is safe, even if we don’t like it and it is inconvenient. So, is it too much to ask? You know our answer.


The Adventures of Chickenman – Episode 19

Chickenman (aka Benton Harbor, shoe salesperson during the week and Feathered Fighter on the weekend) is being joined in the fight against crime in Midland City by the Masked Maternal Marauder (aka Mildred Harbor, his mother.)


A Grizzled Old Man in Jeff Logan’s Video Conferences

Jeff explains himself: During this time of social distancing I have relied on web conferencing for classes, meetings, and social gatherings. At least three times a meeting I am frustrated by the grizzled old man that constantly interrupts when I click to speak… only to realize that it’s me!!! I guess I don’t often have to look at myself talking.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and don’t pee in the public swimming pool!

Tom

Day 48 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

It all gives me a screaming headache…which is a shame on such a beautiful day. If I had some hydroxychoriquine I’d take a dose and lie down to rest. I’m fresh out, though, so I guess I’ll just swig some Lysol.

Saturday, May 2, 2020 – Live to Blog Almost From My Deck

#alonetogether and together alone

So far in 2020, this has to be one of the most beautiful days we’ve had. It is a little on the cool side or I would be on the deck. The Amish Made Poly chairs are wiped down and are ready for our hineys. I can’t wait!


Blue Skies, Blue Angels & Thunderbirds

Today the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds did a flyover Baltimore and Washington as a salute to the frontline workers who are caring for COVID-19 patients. It was a nice gesture and we expected we could get a very close view of them. At the link above you can watch the fly over from Baltimore in a 10 minute video. There is no sound, though, so you can enjoy their flight without the noise of the jet engines.

At 11:45 AM they were scheduled to fly from Baltimore down into Prince George’s County to fly over one of the hospitals just outside of Washington, DC. Laurel, and the UM Laurel Medical Center, the state’s only exclusively COVID-19 hospital, are en route. We were ready and waiting at 11:30 AM as the flyover began in Baltimore. By 11:40 AM we were standing on the deck. We thought we might even hear the jets before we saw them. We heard nothing but kept scanning the skies. At 11:43 I spotted two flocks of birds in the distance to the East. They were flying an unusually tight formation and heading due South. I picked up the binoculars and saw it was the “flyover.”

Indeed it was a “flyover” but it was far more like a “fly past.” They completely missed coming by the Laurel hospital, and the Laurel Gardens Ice House which is serving as the state’s temporary morgue for COVID-19 patients. I was deeply disappointed and mildly irritated.

I always enjoy watching the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds perform but that’s not why I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that the people working in these two facilities apparently don’t count. It’s not that they haven’t been front line workers during the pandemic. The UM Laurel Medical Center was being prepared for closure. It was to be razed and replaced with a new building. Operations were at a minimum. The people working there now, and at the Ice House, were likely reassigned from other UM facilities where they gained their experience in caring for COVID-19 patients. They have been on the frontline but, now, they are forgotten and disrespected.

As disappointing as this is, I’m not surprised. The flyover was purely political and part of the “smoke and mirrors” game of which we’ve become much too accepting over the past few years. It is yet another in a series of things designed to make it seem as if something of real substance and importance is being done…when only the bare minimum, if anything, is actually being done except when it benefits a select few.

It all gives me a screaming headache…which is a shame on such a beautiful day. If I had some hydroxychoriquine I’d take a dose and lie down to rest. I’m fresh out, though, so I guess I’ll just swig some Lysol. As I’ve heard somone on TV who plays at being a doctor say, “What harm could it do?”


The Adventures of Chickenman – Episode 17

In our next exciting episode of Chickenman, the Fantastic Foul is, finally, summoned by the Police Commissioner to fight the diabolical forces of evil in Midland City that are wreaking havoc.



For all the Boot Scottin’ Garth Brooks fans!

To my friend Howared in Indianola, Iowa: Remember when we did our best to learn to line dance to this? My knees still hurt!


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing a mask, and don’t get too close to your imaginary friends either!

Tom

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