Shingles Shot

I went back in time yesterday at the point of a needle. As the Walgreen’s pharmacist pushed the needle in, I was transported back to Doc DeYarman’s office in Morning Sun, Iowa.

Doc DeYarman’s office was on the second floor of one of the buildings that lined our single main street in Morning Sun. I don’t remember him clearly. He gave me my childhood immunizations and was my doctor until I was about 10 years old…then he moved away. I’ve always felt a little responsible for that in the same way that I’ve felt responsible for the death of my piano teacher. I had one lesson…then she died. I must have been a really hopeless student and, perhaps, all the wailing and kicking I did in the doctor’s office disqualified me as a patient, too. Happily for me, he only moved away.

Because I saw him so early in my life I do not have many clear memories of him. I do remember laboriously climbing the stairs to his office. With each step I took, my feet seemed to get heavier, my anxiety and dread escalated, and I would begin to whine that I was feeling much better and didn’t need to see him after all.

I’m sure this was the Doc’s coat. But could this be Doc too? https://www.historicalemporium.com/

I also remember his scary white coat. Seriously…I really think it was just like this one, with straight up collars, like mad scientists wear in the movies.

In fact, now that I think about it, this could be a picture of Doc because I don’t remember what he looked like. As far as I know, he may actually have been headless.

The only other thing I remember was the needle he used. I’m pretty sure there was just one that he used on everyone and it was just a sharpened Slurpee straws. Okay, that may be an exaggeration…it was probably a sharpened plastic coffee stirrers. Whatever it was, it was gigantic and it hurt.

Which brings me back to Walgreens. I can’t say that getting shots is my favorite experience (Gee, THANKS, Doctor DeYarman!) but as I’ve grown up and older, I find it a much more tolerable experience. Until yesterday.

As soon as she started pushing the vaccine into my arm it began to hurt and I feared I’d flashback to being a child in Doc’s second floor office. However, except for a moment when I imagined throwing myself on the floor and wailing like I was being attacked by a million honeybees, I was just fine. I stood up, thanked the pharmacist, walked out of the little medical privacy area (where such procedures are performed), and made my way through a crowd of people who had raced over to find out what was going on. (Perhaps my wailing was not imaginary?)

I did ask the pharmacist why the shot hurt so much. She explained that the vaccine for shingles is a slightly thicker liquid than for flu or pneumonia and many other vaccines. In fact, it has to be mixed by the pharmacist before it can be administered. Of course, I had to get the last word in so I said, “Okay, I get that. But does it still have to be as thick as maple syrup?” She laughed maniacally, as she pulled at the top button on her mad scientist’s coat, and said, “You know there are two shots you have to get for shingles now, don’t you? Just wait until you get your second shot, funny man!”

By the middle of the day yesterday my left arm was really sore. By nightfall I was not feeling well and by the time I went to bed I was updating my Last Will and Testament. I had a lousy night’s sleep and today my brain is not much good for anything except for writing a blog. Lucky you, huh?

Clemencia, my delightful spouse who possesses an infinite amount of optimism, reminded me regularly throughout the day “the pain of shingles is far worse than the discomfort of the shot.” I just hate it when medical people (of which she is a retired one) say, “This is going to be a little uncomfortable.” Then, of course, it hurts like H-E-Double Toothpicks, right?

Unfortunately, as in most things, she is right. Shingles is a horrifically painful disease and the “uncomfortable” shots are a preferred alternative.

Aside from being in a post-shingles vaccine delirium, why am I writing this today? Because everyone has a big decision to make about the COVID-19 vaccine when it is finally widely available. It will be important for as many Americans as possible to get vaccinated if we want to eventually live pandemic free. I know some folks are not comfortable with vaccines on principle. Some folks don’t like needles and getting shots. I’m in the latter group myself but this is really important. As Clemencia would say, “a little discomfort saves a lot of pain.”

The pain of COVID-19, as we now know so well, is not measured in sore arms and a lousy night’s sleep. It is measured in destroyed organs, the inability to be with loved ones in their final moments, and, of course, death.

Whatever your feeling about needles, shots, and vaccines in general, I hope to see you in a COVID-19 vaccine line sometime, somewhere soon.

Day 54 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

This blog series was started 53 days ago for one purpose…to provide a brief diversion to people who needed to take a small break from all things COVID-19. It seems to have succeeded for several people – well, okay, at least me…and Clemencia…and the Girls, but then, they are dogs and may not count.

Friday, May 8, 2020 – Live to Blog from Weekend Euphoria (Wait! Is it actually the weekend?)

#alonetogether

I feel funny today. No, not sick funny but funny funny. You know…it’s the way you feel like you want to be funny and think you are funny even if nobody else does? For too many people this is usually associated with having one too many drinks of an adult beverage. Me, I’m just drinking generic diet soda and still feeling funny. So, without further delay…let’s get on with “What I Think Is Funny Friday.”


COVID-19 Humor I Think is Funny from BoredPanda.com

A wonderful COVID-19 take on Grant Wood’s classic “American Gothic.” This one is for my friend Beth Howard, a former resident of that famous house and whom you met earlier this week.

What I Think is Funny from The Tonight Show (but with Johnny Carson)

This is a comedy classic. It makes me laugh everytime. Jack Webb was famous for his deadpan delivery on Dragnet. Here, working with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, his deadpan makes this whole sketch work.


What I think is Funny from The View from Jeff

Jeff and I met in the doctoral program at Eastern University. Reading, research, and writing are the three primary activities of any doctoral student – for years. Jeff captured the most frustrating of that triad of tyranny.

What I Always Think Is Funny from Chickenman

Episode 23 – Chickenman attempts to give two scoff laws (his grandparents) a parking ticket. How does that go down?


But, in Reality…a bit of Perspective

This blog series was started 53 days ago for one purpose…to provide a brief diversion to people who needed to take a small break from all things COVID-19. It seems to have succeeded for several people – well, okay, at least me…and Clemencia…and the Girls, but then, they are dogs and may not count. It is not intended, however, to distract us from our current reality. God knows there are a few people who work about 20 miles Southwest of me who would like nothing better than to do that.

Throughout this period we need to maintain perspective. I will not lie and say that it has been easy for me to do this. I tip off the rails too like many other people and sometimes it is a bit challenging to right myself. After all, we are in the midst of the worst public health crisis of our lifetime. Many people are dying. As of this moment that number is 76,368 in the United States. More than 325 of those are from the county in which Clemencia and I live. Over 275 of our neighbors in our small zip code have tested positive for COVID-19. Still, all of us have to find a way to move forward with our own lives.

Keeping perspective is something that helps us do this. One helpful perspective is this: we may be alone at home and we are sharing this experience together with many others who are staying at home too – either by choice out of fear or by mandate. Another perspective that we haven’t considered as much is this: we are not alone in history. I was reminded of this recently by something shared with me by my friend Cynthia. I tried to find a source for it but cannot trace it back to its origins. Each place I have found it also credits the author as being unknown and I will do the same here. Even if you have seen this before, it is worth revisiting. It reminds us that those who have come before us, including some of our parents, have “been there, done that,” survived, and we will too.

Imagine you were born in 1900. On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war.

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33.

The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish.

At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict.

On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, should have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.

When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that?

When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art, refined as time goes on, and enlightening like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s try and keep things in perspective.

Author Unkown

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing you hands, keep wearing you mask, and keep prespective.

Tom

Day 34 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

We couldn’t stand it any more. We could both smell them and we didn’t want to be near them. It was time. So I prepared the water and the soap, and Clemencia rounded up Dolly first. The Girls got a bath! (What? You thought I was referring to Bert and Ernie? No way! They are doing fine…unwashed for 33 days and counting!)

Saturday, April 18, 2020 – Live to Blog from the Bath

Dolly and Madison Come Clean

The great thing about sheltering-in-place is that we get to do all those things we should be doing more regularly but usually don’t because we think we’ve got better things to do. Bathing the dogs is one of those tasks that becomes unavoidable when we can’t leave the house. We did avoid it for five weeks but that seemed as far as I could push it. “Would you like to help me give the Girls a bath?” was Clemencia’s siren call that I could not resist. Nor would it be wise for me to resist any longer.

Madison enjoying her post bath treat while giving me the stink eye for bathing her.

The Girls are pretty good about getting baths though it is not their favorite way to spend a Saturday. Today I got the water at just the right temperature and I think they found it quite soothing and relaxing. You know how dogs, when they are getting a bath, always seem to the do the wet dog shake from head to toe at just the wrong moment? It only happened once today…with Madison…who is usually looking for a way to best me anyway.

From what we have learned, we believe Madison is Dolly’s mother. Both were rescues from of a “backyard breeder” puppy mill in Ohio. The breeder specialized in parti-colored miniature schnauzers. In this case they are “liver” and white. “Liver” – what a horrible name for a color! (Great with onions though!)

Miniature schnauzers are considered to be hypoallergenic dogs because they shed very little and their coats are generally safe for people with allergies. This is because they have hair rather than fur. Madison’s hair is extremely fine, soft, and full. In fact, it feels almost like fluffy cotton balls. Dolly has the more traditional miniature schnauzer hair – is it short and a bit wiry, kind of like mine these days.

Madison came to us in 2008. She had been, from what we could learn before she “disappeared” from the breeder’s website, the star breeder. Her disposition is incredibly sweet and her coloring is beautiful. We suspect she was so popular because of the color and composition of her hair. She was bred nonstop from the earliest age possible. Her pups were sold at a premium, probably to pet shops. She had been over-bred by December of 2007 and her uterus prolapsed. She nearly died birthing her last litter and they had to be taken surgically. She was of no more use to the breeder and so was scheduled to be put down. However, the dog rescue was able to convince the breeder to let them take her and find her a new home. They agreed, spayed her, scrubbed her AKC records, and she was removed (shortly after we got her) from their website.

When we met Madison, we did not pick her. She picked us. Actually, she picked Clemencia. We were sitting on the floor and she walked over to Clemencia, licked her face, and then stood guard – not allowing any of the other dogs to get close to her. That was all it took.

Dolly enjoying her post-bath treat while Madison stands by…in case Dolly leaves anything behind.

A year later we went back to get Dolly from the same rescue. Clemencia had found her on the rescue’s website and fell in love with her. Dolly was about a year, maybe two, younger than Madison. Because we were given no paperwork from the breeder, we’ve never known their ages for sure. On the website she also looked very much like Madison. Clemencia, Madison, and I made the trip to see Dolly. However, we didn’t recognize her as the dog on the website. She was an incredibly homely dog and looked nothing like that dog and nothing like Madison. But Madison recognized her. She went to her and began to care for her like a mother cares for one of her pups. Again, Madison made the choice by choosing the only dog in the room that was likely one of her first puppies.

We later found other evidence of their mother/daughter relationship. First, there was their names – Dolly and Madison. Dolly’s name was originally spelled “Dolley” on the paperwork. They were named, apparently, after the former First Lady, whose name was spelled the same. We don’t believe their names were a coincidence. Then Clemencia’s research found that Madison had been bred to Dolly’s father. And, finally, we watched their interaction. It was, from the beginning, very loving and they have always been inseparable. In our minds, all of this says they are mother and daughter and that is how they are introduced.

Like any rescue animals, Madison and Dolly came to us with “issues.” Neither knew how to play and, to this day, they play very little. Both had been debarked by the breeder and they had all the other things done to them to give them the unique miniature schnauzer look. We call Madison a “pillow” because her favorite thing to do is to lay next to either of us or sit on our laps (well, more accurately, mostly Clemencia’s lap). Dolly is more high strung and anxious. We believe she had been maltreated by children because she gets very anxious and frightened around them. Hence, we have always made sure she has maintained “social distance” from children. Dolly is considered “my” dog because she is more inclined to hang out with me than with Clemencia…though she is usually – even as I write this – laying near Clemencia as she works in her office.

By the way, Dolly has become a beautiful dog. We don’t know if that is because she has physically become more beautiful or if she has become more beautiful in our eyes. I suspect it is a little bit of both.

Madison is 14 now and Dolly is soon to be 13. Over a year ago Dolly was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and has been on daily medication for it. However, the medication only postpones the inevitable for about 3 years. We are watching her slowly deteriorate and know that it will not be long before she will need to leave us. Our commitment to our pets has always been death with dignity and without pain when the time comes. This is part of the Iowa and Colombia farm ethic we both grew up with. When we know the time is near, and before she suffers, we will call our friends at Peaceful Passage, and let her go as we hold her in our arms of love, comfort, and appreciation. Wouldn’t it be nice if we humans could transition with so little pain and yet so much dignity and grace?


Coffee with Alonzo and Starlee

We started our Saturday morning with Alonzo and Starlee again over coffee on Zoom. We’ve decided to make this a standing weekly engagement since none of us are going anywhere on Saturdays for a while. We talked bidets again only briefly but long enough to let them know we had been inspired by them and had ordered our own. For fun, we explored the topics of epidemiology, why some people test negative for COVID-19 yet still have the symptoms (is the test bad?), how to determine if public figures have a particular psychopathology or are just intrinsically evil, and comparisons of COVID-19 infection rates and death rates in their part of the world and ours. Overall, a very light conversation indeed! Next week we’ll try to be much more serious. Promise.


The Adventures of Chickenman – Episode 3

Chickenman (Benton Harbor) has a problem with his costume and needs the assistance of Ms. Helfinger (the Commissioner’s receptionist). Tune in to find out what happens when Ms. Helfinger tries to fix the Winged Warrior’s costume with Scotch tape.


SCTV Presents High-Q

Here’s a great weekend treat from Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe from their television show appropriately titled SCTV. This sketch appears to have come out of it’s first season, in 1976 and 1977. Each of the cast members you see in this clip went on to fame as actors and comedians. See if you can recognize them!


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep valuing the pets in your life for joy and love offer, especially in difficult times.

Tom

Day 33 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

We live in zip code 20707 in Maryland. According to data from the State of Maryland, we have 85 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In the five contiguous zip codes next ours there are an additional 449 cases. Hence, we are living in the midst of 534 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of this moment (7:00 PM Eastern) today.

Friday, April 17, 2020 – Live to Blog from a Hot Spot

Pardon My Rant

Add to this we live in Prince George’s County which has 2,966 of the 11,572 confirmed cases statewide – the most of any county. Our county also has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the state – 77 of 425. As a result, we live in the midst of a “hot spot” in the State of Maryland which, as a whole, is becoming a hot spot nationally. We are in the midst of the peak and nothing is leveling off yet.

Add to this both Clemencia and I are considered to be part of a vulnerable popluation. Our age makes us vulnerable. Underlying health conditions we both have add to our risk.

So, what are we to do?

We stay at home. When we have to go out – usually to walk the Girls or to go for a real exercise walk – we mask up, we avoid people, and when we get back home, we take off our shoes and put them back in their place outside our door. Then we wash our hands. Then we hope the Girls don’t have to go out again for a while so that we don’t have to do it all over again. It’s a pain in the neck and sometimes we even have a lower opinion of it.

But we do it. Why? Four reasons:

  • First, helps to keep us safe.
  • Second, it helps to keep our neighbors safe.
  • Third, it is the ethical, right thing to do.
  • Fourth, it is a genuine act of patriotism.

To every Stupid Person who has been showing up to protest the shelter-in-place, stay at home, or “lockdown” orders from their governors: You are not being patriotic, you are just being Stupid. (Remember, I’m not being insulting, I’m just making an accurate observation that you are showing a great lack of common sense.)

  • You are not being patriotic. You are just being Stupid.
  • You are not being brave. You are just being Stupid.
  • You are not being funny. You are just being Stupid.
  • You are not acting like a real American. You are just being Stupid.
  • You are not really exercising your right to freedom of speech. You are just being Stupid.
  • If you are showing up because you’ve been incited to do so, you are not being independent. You are being manipulated and you are just being Stupid.

I don’t wish COVID-19 on anyone, not even Stupid People. However, there is a good possibility that several of you (or your parents or your children) will have been exposed through your protests. You or they may test positive for it. You or they may become ill. God forbid, you or they may die a horrific death and, possibly, all alone.

When any of this happens, I suspect you will suddenly become very smart. When that happens, I hope you also have the good sense to use your freedom of speech then to speak up and tell your friends how Stupid you and they have been. That simple act of honesty will be your redemption for being so very, very Stupid.

In a national emergency, the patriotic thing to do is anything and everything we can to pitch in and help. Neither of us can work on the frontline of medical care because we do not have the appropriate training. Clemencia can sew masks. We both can (and do) reach out to people to check on them and offer whatever moral support we can. However, the most important thing we can do is stay home and when we have to go out mask up, keep a distance, and minimize our time outside.

Frankly we still have way too many Stupid People running around not paying attention to the risks of COVID-19 or the proposed public health remedies. We also have too many Stupid People encouraging them to do blow off the risks and the remedies. Please don’t be one of the Stupid People. Be a real patriot.


Uh oh, the White House Coronavirus Task Force Update just started…there goes another 2+ hours. Okay, I choose not to exercise my freedom of speech about that but, instead, my freedom of silence.


And now, back to our regularly scheduled dose of daily drivel.

Day 33 of homeschooling: Only three students. Two suspended for fighting. The third called in a bomb threat. One teacher about to be fired for drinking on the job.


Chickenman – Episode 2

Benton Harbor (aka Chickenman) introduces himself to the Police Commissioner of Midland City and reports for duty. Take a 1 minute 41 seconds with Chickenman!


And now for Some Good News!

John Krasinski, who was a cast member on The Office and who is now playing the title character on the Netflix series Jack Ryan, recently began a live-from-home YouTube series titled, Some Good News. He’s using this platform to remind people that in the midst of this pandemic, there is still some good news. The link below is to his first episode. It is about 15 minutes in length but it does give you a nice alternative to the reality of the day. It won’t disappoint! Enjoy!

Some Good News with John Krasinski – Episode 1

Coronavirus M.A.S.H. Up

The groundbreaking television show M.A.S.H. educated a new generation about the realities of the Korean War through the powerful genre of dramatic comedy. There has been a YouTube video going about that uses clips from the TV progam to remind people about the things they need to do stay safe during the pandemic. Please take a look and share.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing a mask, keep away from Stupid People and choose to be a real patriot.

Tom

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

Friday, April 3, 2020 – Live to Blog from My WFH Space

#alonetogether

Our next door neighbor (with whom we share a wall) alerted me to a new problem that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic (like we needed another one, right?): the noisy people who are supposed to be working from home (WFH). It seems to be an issue especially for people who live in apartments and condos. The loudest problem sounds are coming from people who are new to working at home. They either don’t know they are being loud or don’t care they are being loud. Let’s assume good intentions though. As a public service in support of all those who are being disturbed, I will use this posting to educate the noisy among us to the etiquette of working at home.

To do this, I decided to turn to an expert in working at home, Clemencia. So I went to her office where she has been busily working to prepare her Zoom Spanish classes for next week to engage her in an interview.

Authentic Cowboy Boots
  • Me (walking into her office, sitting on her couch, and kicking off my boots): Mi amor, sorry to interrupt but I need your help on the blog I’m writing today.
  • Clemencia (looking up, slightly annoyed): Que, que? Really? Now, what are you going to write about me?
  • Me (sweetly): Oh, mi amor, only the most wonderful, truthful things you could ever imagine!
  • Clemencia (with a raised eyebrow and a long pause): But I get to approve it first, right?
  • Me (with my hand over my heart): Absolutely! I promise!
  • Clemencia: Fine then. So what’s this about?
  • Me: I want to interview you about what it is like to work at home.
  • Clemencia: Cielo, you know I’m retired, right?
  • Me: Si, me amor, but you have been working on preparing your Spanish classes and then teaching them online from home. It seems to me you are working nearly as hard as you did when you were at the University.
  • Clemencia: That’s sweet of you to say. So, what do you want to know?
  • Me: You are an expert at working at home but not everyone is. What’s it like to try to work at home and have noisy working neighbors?
  • Clemencia (puzzled): Cielo, we don’t have noisy neighbors. Everyone on our floor is retired, except you and the woman across the hall, but she works at home all the time…like you say you do.
  • Me: I know and it would be GREAT if you could talk about how you manage the noise that comes from her place, since your office shares a common wall with her unit.
  • Clemencia (now looking suspiciously at me again): Tom..she isn’t noisy.
  • Me (disappointed): Are you sure? I think I can hear her.
  • Clemencia: That’s not her. That’s the snoring dog under my desk.
  • Me (still disappointed): Oh. Well, I was wanting to write something about the etiquette people should follow when working at home. You know, so they don’t disturb others.
  • Clemencia (sudden engaged): Oh! That I can help you with! What do you need to know?
  • Me (excitedly): Just give me some basic rules of etiquette people working at home should follow so that they don’t disturb their neighbors, who may also be trying to work from home.
  • Clemencia: Okay, here’s the first one: Don’t blast the radio news in the morning, even if it is NPR.
  • Me: Great! That’s a good one! What else you got?
  • Clemencia: Don’t stomp across the hardwood floors in your cowboy boots.
  • Me: Yes! That’s right! What’s next?
  • Clemencia: If you haven’t played your alto saxophone for nearly 50 years, this is NOT a good time to take it up again.
  • Me: Oh, yeah! Your on fire! Keep going!
  • Clemencia: Do not yell from your office to other people in your unit when you’ve got a question for them. Get up and go ask them. You need the exercise anyway since you can’t leave the house…but don’t stomp across the floor!
  • Me: That’s really good…it has a positive health message too!
  • Clemencia: Here’s my last one…Do not interrupt people with stupid questions, period. Do not open the door and walk into their office without knocking. Do not call them on your cell phone or text them. Just let them do their work in peace until they come out and join you for lunch, as was discussed and planned less than 30 minutes ago.
  • Me: Oh, mi amor! These are excellent! Thanks so much! I think I’ve got what I need. You’re great.
  • Clemencia (with an impatient smile): I’m glad to help, cielo. Now, I really need to get back to what I was doing.
  • Me (pulling on my boots): Absolutely! Thanks for your time! I’ll see you at lunch in about 15 minutes.
  • Clemencia: Yes, cielo, I’ll be out for lunch soon. (Pauses, sniffs) Have your boots always smelled like that?
  • Me (hurriedly pulling on the last one, forgetting I had exposed Bert and Ernie): Oh, yes, yes, they have. They are cowboy boots you know. These I got in San Antonio and they were made to recreate some of the authentic fragrances of the farm and Old West.
Radio that gets only National Public Radio

I left her office, stomped across our hardwood floors, turned on my radio to NPR, sat down to write this blog, and, just before starting to write, yelled out to her: “Mi amor! I forgot again…what are we having for lunch?”

BYON Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour, Thursday, April 9, 5:00 PM. Send me a comment or email if you’d like to join.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember to be a good neighbor while you work at home.

Tom

Day 18 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I’m also grateful to have retained my presence of mind to avoid playing with filters or special visual effects while on Zoom today.

Thursday, April 2, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under a Computer Screen

Remember to stay connected even if you are alone. #alonetogether

I’m Zoomed out today. For a full seven hours I facilitated or participated in Zoom meetings today. Don’t get me wrong…I’m grateful for the work and to be busy. Sitting in my chair and staring at a screen for 7 hours, only to dash to the bathroom or to the kitchen during breaks is a bit tedious. Still, I’m grateful. However, Bert (left) and Ernie (right) were complaining. They didn’t get a walk today. Between you and me, they can be a little self-centered and demanding.

Lizet Ocampo during an unfortunate Zoom accident.

I’m also grateful to have retained my presence of mind to avoid playing with filters or special visual effects while on Zoom today. I might have become a potato head like Lizet Ocampo. I’m also grateful that my work computer is a desk top model so I can’t take it into the bathroom with me. (This really happened but I’m not going to post the link from YouTube because I’m not sure the young person who carried their lap top into the bathroom during a Zoom meeting has had the same sense of humor about it as did Ms. Ocampo.)

BYON Coffee Break/Happy Hour: We had our third gathering today and we will be continuing to meet on Thursdays at 5:00 PM Eastern for the near future. If you’d like to join up next week, send me an email at twklaus@tenaciouschange.us. When I receive your email I’ll send you the Zoom link and our conversation starter.

In Reality. We’re #1! We’re #1 Nothing like putting America first! Globally we hit a milestone today. We now have over 1 million confirmed cases AND the USA is solidly #1 in the world for the number of confirmed cases. Let’s hear it again: “We’re #1! USA! We’re #1! USA!” Come on, I can’t hear you…where’s you pride now? (With tongue firmly in cheek.)

I know there are folks who are having a hard time wrapping their heads (potato or not) around this pandemic. Some minimize it, choosing to believe instead that it is no more serious than the flu. Some have chosen to believe in one of the weird conspiracy theories that are out there. Some think it is a hoax because they don’t personally know anyone who has COVID-19 and don’t know anyone who has died.

To all these, I say, just give it time. The proof you need is coming…sooner than you know.

I’m happy to say that I don’t personally know anyone who has died. However, I know several people who have friends, colleagues, or loved ones who have COVID-19. It has come close to us as a family but, fortunately, all of us have been spared so far. However, we know that may not always be the case. We are preparing for the possibility of infection but we are doing everything we know how to avoid infection. I hope you are doing the same thing.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing you hands, and keep doing everything you can to avoid infection.

Tom

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Day 15 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Good news, bad news time. The good news is Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place has been renewed by Mr. Trump and by Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland. The bad news is…well…it’s the same. So, here we are…Day 15 headed to Day 46 on April 30.

March 20, 2020 Live to Blog from Under an Executive Order

Good news, bad news time. The good news is Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place has been renewed by Mr. Trump and by Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland. The bad news is…well…it’s the same. So, here we are…Day 15 headed to Day 46 on April 30.

This afternoon we went for two walks. One with the Girls for their afternoon constitutional. One without the Girls so we could actually walk at a normal human pace and get some exercise. There is a 2.12 mile walking path around our neighborhood that passes behind the homes. It was a beautiful afternoon – 70 degrees, no breeze, perfect for golfing, except Governor Hogan has closed down all the golf courses. He must be a bowler.

There is one portion of the walking path that uses a sidewalk behind a group of houses. On that sidewalk some creative soul had written messages of encouragement. They were a lovely surprise and I’ll be sharing them throughout this blog randomly…since they were presented rather randomly on the sidewalk.

Show Compassion

Sock Offensive Update: I’m suspicious that Clemencia has heard the mumbling on the deck and might be figuring things out. This morning I walked into the kitchen to eat my daily baked oatmeal. In the middle of the floor were two socks laid neatly side-by-side and Clemencia was sitting at the kitchen table sipping her morning tea.

  • Me (nonchalantly): “What’s that?”
  • Clemencia: “Que, que? What’s what?”
  • Me: “THAT on the floor!”
  • Clemencia: “Oh, that’s Beto and Enrique.”
  • Me (surprised and a bit suspicious): “Beto and Enrique? Are you okay? Did you do your Coronavirus temperature check yet?”
  • Clemencia: “Si, mi amor. I’m fine.”
  • Me (curiously): “Sooooo….when did you start naming your socks?”
  • Clemencia: “Oh, I don’t know. It just seemed like a good thing to do.”
  • Me: “Are you getting bored? Going a little stir crazy? What’s going on?”
  • Clemencia: “Nada, mi amor, nada. I’m fine and all is good. Muy bueno!”
  • Me (playing along): “Okay, then. May I pick up Beto and Enrique so I don’t step on them.”
  • Clemencia (smiling sweetly): “No, no. They are fine. They wanted to be there so they could enjoy the morning sun coming through the window.”
  • Me (now concerned): “Ohhhhh. Well…o…kay. Whatever they want, mi amor.”

Later in the morning I heard a lot of mumbling from Bert (left) and Ernie (right). I think they were not pleased that Beto and Enrique had a such a prime place in the sun.

#alonetogether

BYON Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour: Looks like we’ll be adding a few weeks to our Thursdays at 5 pm (Eastern) gathering by Zoom. Join us if you can and if you like. Connection information is below!

In Reality: After about two weeks of trying to get people in Maryland to stop doing stupid things, the governor finally had it and made home confinement mandatory. We can only go out of the house for essential things to essential businesses which will be open only at essential times. It is a real pain! However, it is necessary because people are being stupid. I know. It is not polite to call people stupid but it does happen to be true.

I’m not being cruel. I’m being accurate.

Maintain Social Distance – 6 feet – Yes that means YOU, Stupid People!

Google Dictionary has a wonderful and incredibly accurate definition of the word “stupid” for this time. It means “showing a great lack of common sense.” But it was Forrest Gump who taught us the most practical one: “Stupid is as stupid does.” By either measure, there are a lot of Stupid People where Coronavirus is concerned. You see them everywhere.

  • They get together in groups of 9 because they think the Coronavirus can count and will stay away if the group is less than ten.
  • They are capable people who refuse to learn alternative, safe, and FREE ways to stay connected with people without actually being face to face (e.g., Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, FreeConferenceCall.com, Facetime (Apple), Duo (Android), phone, and text).
  • They go for walks in groups, taking care to stay away from each while awaiting their walking companions to arrive – then they pair up side-by-side, touching shoulders as they walk down the sidewalk.
  • They have COVID-19 parties. No explanation needed for how stupid this is!
  • They only let family come over to their house on the weekend because, heck, they know they wouldn’t infect them – they’re family!
  • They only hang out and play cards with really close friends because they know their real friends couldn’t have COVID-19 and wouldn’t pass it to them!
  • They blindly follow wolves in sheep’s clothing who profess a love of God while utterly disrespecting the Imageo Dei of humans. They stupidly bow to their false prophets and allow them to fill their minds with their COVID-19 conspiracy theory-of-the-moment. They obey their “men of God” whose edicts to attend meetings and services put them at risk but only serve to satisfy the avarice of wolves in preacher’s clothing who live for an audience and personal glory (e.g., Tampa, Florida and Baltimore, Maryland).

Do you know who is NOT stupid? Anyone who absolutely, positively, must leave their home because they have essential jobs. There are a lot people who have to risk contracting the virus every day because they do the work of:

  • caring for those that are already ill,
  • restocking our grocery stories (which stupid people continue to panic raid everyday),
  • making medical supplies and medicines available for us,
  • providing necessary mass transit,
  • providing emergency services,
  • doing the case management and investigations of social work to protect the most vulnerable of our society,
  • cleaning and maintaining buildings,
  • operating utility services,
  • delivering groceries and necessary personal items from stores, and
  • a myriad of other things.

In short, these hardworking, caring, brave, and heroic people make it possible for Stupid People to sit on their butts at home until it strikes their stupid fancy to do another stupid thing that could expose them to the virus.

Look Stupid People, it’s time to stop whining, to grow up, to be adults, and to do YOUR part to protect others…even if you think you are invulnerable. Your exposure is OUR exposure to the virus. Do you just not really get it or are you too selfish and self-absorbed to care about anyone else? Please, take a few minutes and watch this eight minute video until it sinks in.

Frankly, we have YOU, Stupid People, to thank for an additional 31 days of home confinement. Thank you Stupid People! At least do this: If you are going to continue to play stupid games with your health, please, do it away from us, okay?

To everyone who is not stupid…stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember at all times to avoid stupid people and doing stupid things.

Tom

Day 14 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Sunday, March 29, 2020 Live to Blog from A Social Distance

The term “social distancing” seems to really bother Clemencia. After walking the Girls (our miniature schnauzers) today we returned to the lobby of our building, punched the elevator button with an elbow, and waited for the doors to open. At about that same moment, the son of one of our 3rd floor neighbors was coming into the building carrying a box which, apparently, he was delivering to his parent.

Hilarious Colombian Hand Gestures #3: The Mucha Gueva Face
mantarayatravel.com/blog
  • Clemencia said, “Let’s give him the elevator so we can keep the distance.”
  • “Fine,” I said, “but I did take a gigantic risk of exposure to the Coronavirus by pushing the button with my elbow and now you’re asking me to take that risk again.”
  • “You didn’t push the button, mi amor,” she responded. “That was my elbow.”
  • Oh,” I said, but not wanting to lose the point, immediately retorted, “Yeah, but, somebody will have to push it again and it will probably be me and I could get exposed.”
  • At this point she gave me one of those looks that Colombian’s are famous for and even verbalized it for me, “Mucha gueva!” (Loosely translated it means, “What an idiot!”)

Putting my elbow in harm’s way nonetheless, I pushed the elevator button. When the elevator arrived, we stepped in, and Clemencia used her elbow to push the 4th floor button. Then, she turned to me and said, with a slightly indignant voice of authority, “It should never have been called ‘social distancing’ because that’s not accurate. It should be ‘physical distancing.'” Ever the scientist seeking precision of meaning and expression, the term social distancing apparently had been bothering her for some time. Having trained and worked as a therapist at one point in my career I thought this was an invitation to explore this with her. “So, how do you feel about that?,” I asked. Before she could give me the Mucha Gueva Face again, the door opened onto the 4th floor and the dogs pulled us out.

We shared dessert with good friends from Kansas over Zoom after dinner. Why not share dinner, you wonder? Because we are people of a certain age who don’t eat heavy dinners anymore, we eat early, and we eat what Clemencia calls “personal food.” (No, this is not another Colombian thing, as far as I can tell. It is a Clemencia thing but I’ve adopted it.) “Personal food” are those things we love to eat that may not hold an appeal to anyone else or that are exceedingly messy. For me, fried or whole rotisserie chicken and most pastas are “personal food.” I make such a mess with them that I don’t want to be seen eating them in public, so the only time I eat them is at home. Liver and onions and chicken gizzards are also my “personal foods”…not because they are messy but because Clemencia…and most other people I know…cannot stomach them. All things considered, and our tendency to eat more “personal foods” during sheltering-in-place, it seemed a good idea to simply focus on dessert (ice cream, brownies, and pie, by the way).

We had a wonderful time! We laughed, reminded one another of stupid jokes we had learned from each other years ago, got caught up on our kids and families, and, of course, ate dessert. Naturally we had to spend some time on COVID-19. Though we are now entering Week #3 of sheltering-in-place here, only yesterday the Kansas governor gave shut-down orders to non-essential businesses and people began to seriously shelter-in-place. I guess it makes sense that Kansans are only now doing this. If you notice on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard, the virus is clearly, slowly, and continuously moving West across the country. Rural states like Kansas, and my home state of Iowa, are only now really beginning to see the exponential growth of it.

In Reality. No, wait, did I just write, “I guess it makes sense that Kansans are only now” sheltering in place? That’s NOT right…NONE of it makes ANY sense…not for the Kansans…not for any of us.

  • It doesn’t make any sense at all…given we have known pandemics start slow and, before we know it, they are overwhelming us. It took us 41 days (January 21 to March 2) to go from the first case to 100 cases. It took only 2 days (March 2 to March 4) for the next 100. In less than a month (March 4 to March 29), we are over 124,000 cases. No, that’s not because we have so much more testing going on…because we are STILL far behind on it.
  • It doesn’t make any sense that this Administration, or any administration, would ignore the National Security Council’s “playbook” for preparing for pandemics. (Yes, a summary of this playbook is now in the public domain and you can read it here.)
  • It doesn’t make any sense that our leaders would be warned in early January, and again in February, about the pandemic and the need to take steps then to curb the spread of the virus, but chose to wait weeks, until mid-March, to take any substantive action.
  • It doesn’t make any sense that any Administration would delay invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure needed medical supplies for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
  • It doesn’t make any sense that the United States, with a population of 328+ million would have 124,000+ confirmed cases of Coronavirus when China, with a population four times that of the U.S. (1.4 billion), have only 82,000+ confirmed cases (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard at the writing of this blog). Even if, as some suggest, the Chinese have not been honest in reporting, the disparity is still staggering.

This disparity between the U.S. and China only makes sense is when you consider that the four previous statements don’t make any sense but are stunningly true.

Our country’s response to the Coronavirus was too slow, it is now too little, and it may be too late. Overall, it has been a mind-boggling failure of our leaders to trust expertise, possess an imagination for the worst case scenario, and to perform their ultimate duty to protect and serve the people of this country.

The couple we had dessert with last night have been in my life since I was a teenager. We grew up together in rural Iowa, attended rival high schools, became friends through an extracurricular youth program, and have been fast friends ever since. Their youngest daughter and my son were born in the same year. I performed her wedding and they attended his last Fall. Through the two darkest periods of my life, they remained fast friends. They found a way to still believe in me and extend grace to me when I could do neither for myself. I consider them to be my most trusted friends. I have often regretted that we live so far apart at this stage of our lives but, as we are all discovering in the past few days, video conferencing allows us to bridge the distances. In reality, they and we are all in that highest risk group for contracting, and dying, from Coronavirus. We are boomers, but we are not keen on being removed quite yet.

In this blog I mentioned a friend had told me of a new term for the Coronavirus – the boomer remover, which is definitely a thing. This weekend Clemencia found a thoughtful response to it from a Pulitzer Prize winning commentator, COVID-19 as “Boomer Remover?” Let’s Talk About That. I hope you will take time to read it, whether you are a Boomer, a Gen Xer, or a Millennial.

Thursday, April 2nd BYON Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour: Regardless of your generation, you are welcome to join in. See the connection information below.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, and keep washing your hands, keep sheltering-in-place, and keep remembering we are all in this together – regardless of our politics, our age, our gender, our race, our ethnicity, our faith, or our generation.

Tom

Day 13 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Saturday, March 28, 2020 Live to Blog from Under an Umbrella

Dear Winthrop,

I learned last week that Tom places Bert (left) and Ernie (right) on the deck overnight to give them a rest and to hide them from Clemencia. However, last night it rained and curious minds wonder: What happens to Bert & Ernie when it rains and are in their mumble spot on the deck? Thank you!

Curious Mind

Dear Curious,

Winthrop here. Thank you for asking this important question. Frankly, I have not been pleased with Tom’s treatment of Bert (left) & Ernie (right) given their amazing, sacrificial service to him. In fact, I’ve been inclined to report him to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Socks, better known as the ASPCS…

Stop it, STOP IT, STOP IT! This is NOT your blog, Winthrop, and nobody wants to hear from you. Just…just…just SHUT UP!

(Deep sigh.) My sincere apologies, friends. I don’t know what Winthrop’s deal is. Now he’s opening my blog app and reading comments. In fact, I did receive that question as a comment. So, here’s the real answer…

Dear Curious,

Example of Using Clothespins to respectfully, kindly, and gently hang socks. (Representation only, not actually Bert & Ernie.)

Thank you for reading and for asking about Bert (left) and Ernie (right). They mumbled very excitedly, almost audibly, when I read your question to them. Our deck is on the forth floor of our building but it is a covered deck. Hence, rain and snow do not fall directly on them overnight. To make sure a breeze does not carry them off the deck, I take great care to use clothes pins to carefully and comfortably secure them to the back of an Adirondack chair. To ensure they can enjoy conversation with one another throughout the night, I make sure they are hung no more than about 6 to 8 inches apart. Hence, they can mumble in a whisper and reduce their risk of discovery, especially after such a close call earlier this week.

Each night I intently watch both Tom Tasselmyer (WBAL TV 11, Baltimore, Chief Meteorologist) and Topper Shutt (WUSA TV 9, Washington, Chief Meteorologist) to get the weather forecast to the North and to the South of us. (We live exactly 22 miles from either downtown Washington and Baltimore so we are in both TV markets.) Once I have assessed the risk to Bert and Ernie, I take the necessary steps to ensure their safety and well-being from the elements. Last night, per their predictions of substantial overnight rain, I took extra care. Bert and Ernie were each given their own quart-size resealable plastic bag to keep them dry. Each bag was left open just enough so the rain would not get in and so they could breathe easily. Also, the open seal assured their ability to continue their mumble chats.

I can assure you, Curious, that Bert and Ernie remain in good hands and on healthy feet, regardless of what Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum says. He may think he’s a public radio personality, but he is not and he certainly does not know truth from fiction. He is a “journalist” in name only, despite his high-falutin name and sophisticated, bordering on arrogant, tone. As always, please ignore him and his really fake news.

Sincerely,

Tom

The Therapy of Fun: This blog series started as a way for me to manage my own anxiety about the growth of COVID-19 and being a person at high-risk. In just 13 days this dumb blog series has become a larger-than-life joyful diversion for me. It has refocused my imagination from the worst that could happen to the possibilities of imagination all around me…even though I’m confined, like many of you, at home.

Until I sit down to write this blog I have no idea what it is going to say. Sometimes it isn’t written until late at night when I’m already exhausted from the long days I’ve been working. Sometimes it is written in the middle of a sleepless night. Sometimes it is written when something serendipitious happens, like getting that wonderfully funny question from Curious Mind, who is a real person with a real name that I’m not using because I haven’t asked his permission.

Never before would I have considered writing such an odd blog series. In the past all of my blogs have addressed serious topics and issues. (You can see them on this website if you wish.) This one is about nothing in particular except that which catches my attention in the moment and makes me giggle. I didn’t start the series with the expectation that anyone else would read it. Writing is a type of therapy for me which I’m usually content to do privately when I have the time and space to do it. I have never done it for as much fun as I’m having right now. Actually, I really don’t have the time to do it, but I need the therapy of fun so I make it a priority.

I’m delightfully surprised that people, like Curious Mind, are spending a few minutes each day reading this blog series. Maybe you take the time to read my drivel because you also need the therapy of fun. Or you are a masochist; but I prefer to think you need the therapy of fun. I find myself wondering how many others facing down COVID-19 with us also need the therapy of fun through a bit of daily drivel. For this reason, I’m going to ask you to share this blog with others whom you think would appreciate it’s strange humor. I promise…you won’t be exposing them to cussin’, spittin’, or runnin’ with people who do. There may be a little bit of rantin’ but I try to keep it reeled in, and I try to keep it nonpartisan to boot. You can share it via social media using the social media buttons at the bottom of this blog page. You can also share it by cutting and pasting this link into an email: https://tenaciouschange.us/2020/03/17/day-1-stories-of-covid-19-and-sheltering-in-place/ Include a personal note of invitation, if you like. In this way, I hope together we can provide the therapy of fun to a few more than the 7 (including Bert and Ernie) who already read this blog. 🙂

BYON (Bring Your Own Nose) Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour: One of the unintended consequences of this blog has been the formation of a weekly gathering (Thursdays, 5:00 PM Eastern, via Zoom). It has been a wonderful way to make new friends, hear how COVID-19 is impacting life in Hawaii, Ontario, California, Washington, Colorado, Baltimore, New York City, and other points throughout North America, and, especially, to laugh together. If you’d like to join in, just use the link information provided below.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember to keep your appointments for the therapy of fun.

Tom

Day 12 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Friday, March 27, 2020 Live to Blog from My Recliner

Tom goofed. He thought he had his Day 11 blog set up to post at 8:00 AM yesterday. Instead, it was set up to post at 8:00 PM. When the bonehead found the mistake, he posted it immediately at 7:31 PM. However, if you didn’t notice, don’t worry about it. You didn’t miss anything. I’m Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum and this has been a public service announcement.

Dang it, Winthrop! Just be quiet and stay out of my blog. That, of course, was Winthrop Dijkstra-Baurm, my public radio alter ego. He is a pretty entitled guy, for sure. Please, just ignore him, especially if he begins to ask you to donate to his pledge drive.

Have you noticed, less than two weeks into the sheltering-in-place phenomenon, how days seem to be blending together? Come to think of it, the week and weekend seem to be merging as well. Something else may be merging. I’ve worn Bert (left) and Ernie (right) long enough that they are becoming a part of me. Well, not really a part of me but I’m wondering if they have absorbed enough of my DNA to start cloning me…or somebody…or something!

Earlier this week I told you the story about hiding them on the deck at night and fearing Clemencia could hear them chatting with one another. Chatting may not be the most accurate description. They don’t exactly talk…they mumble. I’m not paranoid but I can’t help wondering what they are mumbling about. I wear shoes that are extra wide so it can’t be that they are cramped. I always give them a premium spot on the deck. I keep the birds and squirrels and laundry away from them. However, I’m feeling just a bit suspicious of the mumbling.

Actually, if Bert and Ernie are getting a bit ripe, I can’t know it.

True story. Years ago I lost all sense of smell and taste. Eventually I ended up going to a neurologist. The doctor spent about 30 minutes giving me an exam that involved taking a whiff of (supposedly) really nasty smelling things. The fragrances were kept in little glass tubes which he kept in a box tucked away in a cabinet. Who knew anybody actually manufactured those things!

One by one he’d hold a tube up to my nose and say, “Breathe deeply.” So I’d breath in. He’d ask, “Smell anything?” I’d say, “Nope” and he’d say, “Huh!,” occasionally punctuated with “Hmmm, interesting.” After I had smelled nearly every tube in the box he said, “Okay. here’s the deal. You have anosmia.” Now there’s a diagnosis that begs the question I asked, “What’s anosmia?”

Okay, wait for it. Bear in mind this was a specialist and his hourly rate was probably more than my weekly income at the time. No, I said wait for it. He had just given me one of the most unusual exams I’ve ever taken and the only thing he said for 30 minutes was “Huh!” and “Hmm, interesting.” No, wait for it, I said. He just made his pronouncement of my diagnosis with the utmost clarity and authority. His answer to my question, “What’s anosmia?”:

“It means you can’t smell anything.”

Brilliant Neurologist Who Shall Remain Nameless

I so wanted to go all Lewis Black on him, “WHAT?…WHY?…WHO?…WHAT AM I DOING HERE AND WHY…HOW MUCH…NO, WHY DO I HAVE TO GIVE YOU MY WEEK’S SALARY JUST SO YOU CAN TELL ME WHAT I ALREADY KNOW???” Of course, that was my inner Lewis Black having that particular rant. Outwardly I said, “Oh, that’s interesting. How come?”

That’s when he explained to me that some time (he couldn’t say when) and some how (he couldn’t tell me how), I had had a virus that messed with the cells in my brain that control my sense of smell and taste. (No, stop it…that’s not nice, Winthrop…it was not the coroNOSEvirus!)

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THEY MESSED WITH CELLS IN MY BRAIN? AND YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHEN OR HOW OR WHY? HOW DO I KNOW THAT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN? AAARRRGGGHHH! screamed my inner Lewis Black.

To the doctor I said, “Thank you. What happens next? Is there a cure?”

“Nope.” the doctor explained.“In most cases, in about a year or so, you will begin to regain 70 to 80 percent, maybe more, of your sense of smell and taste. In some cases, though, it doesn’t come back all.” “Oh!” he said with a chuckle, “You know the funniest thing? Some things that always smelled and tasted bad to you before, may smell and taste good when your senses come back. Other things that always smelled and tasted good before, may smell and taste bad in the future. Isn’t that interesting?”

“INTERESTING?!? SERIOUSLY, INTERESTING?!? NO, THAT’S DEFINITELY IS NOT INTERESTING. IT’S WEIRD, SCARY, AND IRRITATING BUT DEFINITELY NOT INTERESTING TO BE STUCK WITH THIS FOR NEXT YEAR AND MAYBE THE REST OF MY LIFE! DUDE, I LOVE PIZZA, APPLE PIE, BREAD PUDDING, THE SMELL OF LILACS, AND LOTS OF OTHER THINGS AND NOW I CAN’T ENJOY THEM!” That was, of course, my inner Lewis Black again.

So I said, “Thank you doctor. Now, where may I pay my week’s salary to you?

Truly, there are things far worse than losing one’s sense of smell and taste. Mine did come back to, oh, about 75% or so. I’ve never gone back to the doctor to have him measure it precisely and I never will. It is what it is.

One of the worst things we can experience is happening right now as the Coronavirus continues its march across the country and world. Today, in the United States, the number of confirmed cases went over 100,000. In fact, as I write this posting the number is 104,007. Okay, the doubters and real fake news followers will say, “Well, these numbers could be inflated by all the testing we are doing.” Nope! In fact, testing has never been at the level it should be and it still is not today. Without the testing we cannot find all the case that are really out there. What amazes me is that there are still people who think this might not really be as serious as it is. Earlier today I received an email from a friend who is an immunologist at a major research university medical school. She sent me this eight minute video, What this Chart Actually Means for COVID-19. It is a clear, concise, and even entertaining video that explains what it means to “flatten the curve” of the virus and why this is important. Please share it. Share it with everyone you know who is still living in the fake news and false belief that this isn’t. The video explains why in my home state of Iowa (a flyover state in the middle of the country where at least one of our nation’s leaders assures is doing just fine) that the number of confirmed number of Coronavirus cases went from 147 two days ago on March 25 to 235 today. I know, that’s not New York. But when you understand exponential growth, which the video explains, you’ll understand how Iowa, and everywhere else in the country, is only a few days and a few doubters from becoming New York very soon. Please, watch the it, share it, and keep sharing it until more people understand.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember to watch the video and share it.

Tom