VOTING EARLY IN UXBRIDGE

Just as I suspected, the parking lot was almost empty when we got there around noon today. It was post doctor and post laboratory. Garry needed labs for his appointment on Friday and I needed them for my appointment today. It wouldn’t have taken nearly as long if I had any veins, but each year they get more difficult to find.

I take so many medications — bunches of blood pressure meds and pain-killers and anti-migraine stuff — that every now and then the doctor figures he needs to see if I have functional kidneys. I occasionally wonder myself.

It’s a very medical couple of months. Garry and I both have appointments this week. I have a phoner tomorrow and my cardiologist (annual checkup) at the end of the month.

One of Garry’s hearing aids — not the cochlear implant; the other one — stopped working over the weekend. I think it has been going bad for a while because his hearing has gotten worse. I didn’t know why (and neither did he), but he has also been complaining that this aid seemed to need an awful lot of batteries. So something was wrong. The question is what — and how expensive will it be to fix?

Also, my (our, actually) doctor wants to send me to his favorite pain clinic. Although everyone has already told me there’s nothing they can do for  me, he says these people are miracle workers. I’m definitely up for a miracle. I’m just wondering how they are going to get the information they need when they can’t take an MRI because of my metal, magnetic Pacemaker. That should be interesting. I have nothing to lose but money — those Cat-scans and other tests can wind up expensive and we are SO broke. Still, maybe they can come up with an answer. Or something that helps. Anything that would help me get a night’s sleep would be really nice. It is so ironic that the pain is worst trying to sleep. I should probably sleep in the recliner, but I like going to bed. Cozy comforter, soft pillows, and the warm bodies of dog and husband  are just not available in a chair.

I like this early voting thing. Especially out here in the boonies, it make voting SO much easier! AND it isn’t mail-in voting. This way, at least I know the vote actually made it to the poll and don’t have to worry about whether or not the postman forgot to deliver it.

We even took some pictures and as soon as I can force myself to download them, I’ll find something appropriate for this and at least one more post.

GETTING OLD IS GETTING OLD By RICH PASCHALL

GETTING OLD IS REALLY GETTING OLD, by Rich Paschall

When you think of all the things you want to be when you grow up, “old” probably is not on the list.  You may think about being a doctor or nurse.  You may consider lawyer or politician.  Fireman or police officer may be on your list.  In fact, in your elementary school days you may have changed your mind many times. It is OK to dream about the future and fantasize about what you should do some day.

If superhero is on your list, you may have to give that one up rather quickly, unless you are Robert Downey, Jr.  He is still playing Iron Man past the ripe old age of 50.  I guess that is a commentary on keeping yourself in good shape.  Of course, he is just play acting, like we do as kids, and he certainly has a stunt double.  Your own life does not come with a stunt double, sorry.

If we give it any thought at all while we are young, of course we want to live a long life.  Therefore, we do want to get old.  If accident or disease does not rob us of life too soon, then we will indeed get old.  It is all the things that go with it that I am not too pleased about.

Contemplating the years
Contemplating the years as the sun sets.

I did notice the changes in my grandparents as they got older.  I am certain that I threaded needles for both my grandmothers at some point in time.  I knew they could not see as well as when they were younger, but I never thought about that being me some day.  Yes, I can still thread a needle, but I probably have to hold it at just the right distance in order to do so.  In fact, I really need trifocals, but I have settled for two pair of bifocals instead.  The bottom part is the same on each, but one pair is strictly for the computer.  The top part of the glasses are set to optimize the view from where the monitor should be, a little more than arm’s distance away.

This is not fooling anyone, of course, not even myself.  People can see I switch glasses in order to see.  I should have gotten the same style glasses so it would be less obvious.  When I am on Skype, and can see myself back on the screen, I really do not like the look but I am stuck with them for a while.  At least glasses have gotten better and these are not as thick or heavy as ones I wore years ago.

72-LensCrafters-Auburn-Mall_22

As my grandfather got older, I noticed he sometimes used a cane to help him get up, or walk around.  When he was in his 80’s, he never left the house without the cane.  He just might have too much trouble walking while he was away. Sometimes when I walk past a window or mirror, I think for just a moment the reflection I see is my father or grandfather.  My stepmother once said that I should take it as a complIment that people see me as my father, since he was so handsome, but I began to think they saw me as they saw him later in life.  That is, old.

When you see pictures of me, you generally will not see the cane.  I set it down for the shot.  Years ago my doctor sent me to a sports medicine guy for a foot problem of still undetermined origin.  Maybe I was playing sports in the park long after a time when I should have moved on.  Maybe I suffered some trauma that came back to get me.  Maybe it was related to some disease I contracted.  In any case, I had it operated on, which did not help.  Years later I had another operation.  That did not help either.  I had many procedures in between.  Was it just an issue of getting older?  We will never know for sure.

I have heard it said that the aches and pains we feel as we get older are not a natural part of life and we should not just accept them.  Perhaps some accept them when they could feel better, but I have never accepted them.  I have spent a good deal of time getting to know my doctor and all that goes on in his business.  Yes, I might as well interview him a little, he interviews me a lot.  Together we have looked for solutions to my various problems.

The Gabapentin for the foot nerve pain does not seem to eliminate the problem, even if it lessens it.  The Lidocaine patch may numb the pain, but I cut the patch down because a completely numb foot is not a good thing for walking and creates a dull pain, which actually is not much better than a sharp pain.

My doctor does not like my diet or my cholesterol.  He seems to cast a skeptical eye at my insistence that I watch the cholesterol rating on the food I buy.  That does not include restaurant food, however.  Or what John cooks for dinner.  Statins did not work.  They created muscle and joint pain I could not stand.  The non-statin anti-cholesterol pills are not as effective, but hold less side effects, apparently.  Other problems and medications have come and gone. Parts wear out, you know.

Recently a high school classmate of mine wrote to say he had finally gotten in to a senior center he had applied for a while ago.  He had a variety of health issues in recent years and needed to get into such a community.  I wrote back that I could not imagine that any of us would be talking Senior Center, because it seemed like just a few years ago we were in high school together.

With any luck at all, old age will catch you some day.  You will probably feel it coming.

Related: Share If You Are Old Enough To Remember (humor)
To Not Grow Old Gracefully (Sunday Night Blog)

LIFE, DEATH, CANCER, AND DIGNITY

I don’t talk much about the “reality” of having cancer. It’s not the same for everyone and my cases (two, one for each breast and each different from the other) were relatively mild. The lymph nodes were not attacked, the tumors were (relatively speaking) small. The bigger one in my right breast was the size of a small lemon and the other was half the size. I was assured they were slow-growing but at the same time, I was also warned that it only took a single wandering cell to make it grow somewhere else — probably my lungs.

I had a choice between two complete mastectomies or just having the tumors removed. But I had highly cystic breasts. Figuring out what might be cancer and what was “benign” was going to be very difficult for everyone, especially me. I went with the mastectomies.

To keep the hours of surgery down, I had two surgeons working, one on each side, then two plastic surgeons. A previous hospital had told me they couldn’t give me implants because I had so much scarring from earlier surgeries. I went to a better hospital with more experienced doctors. Seek out the best, most-experienced surgeons you can find. Try to find one who has done hundreds of surgeries like yours. This is not the time to give a newbie her first opportunity. And find a surgeon who listens.

Prefer women. They understand. They have the same parts you do.

Dana-Farber Cancer Hospital (local outlet)

The odds of my getting cancer in both breasts at the same time were staggeringly small. I pointed out that I probably didn’t get them at the same time. I had one and over the years when my doctor forgot to send me for a mammogram, I grew the second. Even though my mother had died from metastasized breast cancer, neither of the tumors was genetically linked. There are lots of genetic linkage involved, but they only know a few of them and insurance will only pay for one test. Pick your tumor. It’s the cancer lotto. Men don’t get our connection to breasts. They see them as a removable piece to get rid of a tumor, not our connection to our womanhood. Where we nursed our babies.

Breast cancer is frighteningly common. There’s a theory that if you live long enough and your were born female, you will get it. Men get it too, by the way and it often gets missed. They aren’t trained to feel for lumps.

When I woke up from surgery, I already had two breast implants in place. This was an act of extraordinary generosity by my plastic surgeon and her associate. Usually they wait for the original surgery to heal, but they felt I needed to be able to look at myself and know I was still a woman. I am deeply grateful. With all the other madness you are going through with cancer, it is good to have surgeons who are also concerned with how you feel about your body and are willing to help.

They don’t keep you long in American hospitals. There’s a rumor that it’s because insurance companies don’t want to pay the money, but the true reason is that there are so many diseases in hospitals that the moment they can get you out of there, they send you home. I’m not talking about poverty stricken hospitals out in the country, but top-notch research and surgical facilities. They want you to leave healthier than when you arrived — and that means getting you out as fast as possible. Also, the odds of your getting edible food are better at home — even if it comes out of a can.

Honestly, I don’t remember much. I know I was in pain, but I was taking so many drugs, my brain was very blunt.

It has been ten years since the original surgery. I have no sign of regrowth, but that doesn’t really mean much. Because of the heart surgery and my metal pacemaker, I can’t have another MRI, so it could have spread. My grandparents, on my mother’s side, both died of pancreatic cancer as did my brother. Just because you’ve had one kind of cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another. My first husband had kidney cancer, but died of heart disease. It’s all a game of craps. Some of us get everything yet we live on for many years. Others seem completely healthy, get one bout of pneumonia and die.

Moral? Be nice to everyone. You just don’t know what’s coming around the next corner.

So for anyone struggling with cancer or heart disease now, do the best you can. Within the realm of reason, follow your doctor’s orders, but if you don’t feel that the treatment you are on is working for you, speak up. Sometimes medications make you so sick, you have to stop taking them. If you don’t tell them, they may not realize things aren’t going well. When they ask how you feel, tell them. Icky and unpleasant as it is, they need to know and sometimes, small things that don’t seem important to you may be much more important than you realize.

None of us want pity, but all of us want support, sympathy, and kindness. If you don’t know what to say to a sick friend, you aren’t alone. Potentially lethal disease tends to leave us speechless.

FAMILY TOLL OF BIPOLAR DISORDER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I never paid much attention to the Kardashian family and I certainly never thought I had anything in common with them. But now I suddenly have a connection with Kim Kardashian – we have both experienced the chaos of life with a bipolar spouse. I know this because recently Kim’s husband, Kanye West, publicly announced that he is running for president and gave several off the walls, extremely manic rants on TV. Kim later publicly apologized for her husband and asked for understanding because he was off his medications and suffering from a severe manic episode.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

Boy, could I relate to that! Most discussions about mental illness focus on promoting compassion and support for the person suffering from the mental illness. Fortunately, the stigma that used to exist around mental illness has diminished as we now understand the physiological basis of mental disorders and put them in the same category as other physiological ailments. We also understand that it isn’t the patient’s ‘fault’ and they can’t just ‘will themselves’ back to mental health.

Less has been written about the incredible strain and hardship suffered by the families of mentally ill patients. In my case, my ex was bipolar (or Manic Depressive as it is also called). He was more manic than depressed so most of my experience is with the manic phase rather than the depressive phase of this disorder.

Initially, many families go through a period when there is erratic, irrational, often volatile behavior but no diagnosis. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, this period with my ex lasted thirteen years because knowledge about Bipolar Disorder was in the dark ages then compared to what we know today. I insisted we go to a marriage counselor and she tried to analyze what I must be doing to provoke the unpredictable rages and paranoid fits my ex would have. I had a sense that his behavior was dangerous, but I had to go along with the idea that every marriage is a 50-50 proposition and therefore that  I had to be a big part of the problem.

One night my ex came home and went into an angry tirade about what a selfish, uncaring, inconsiderate wife I was because there were dishes in the sink when he came home from work, after I had fed my two kids. He threw a pot at me in front of the kids. The next night, the kids and I made sure that the dishes were done and the sink was clean when he came home. But my ex still went into an abusive rage, this time because the basement was cluttered. We couldn’t win.

The manic phase of Bipolar Disorder can manifest itself in many different types of behavior .This complicates diagnosis. Mania can show as paranoia, ‘irritability’, volatility, and irrationality. Extreme rages, way out of proportion to the alleged provocation, are often accompanied by verbal and/or physical abuse, the physical aspect applying to property as well as people. Mania can also be periods of unrealistic grandiosity, crazy schemes, uncontrollable spending of money or compulsive traveling. We once took thirteen trips in twelve months, many with the kids and many without, and many for just a few days each. It was very disruptive, as was the wanton spending.

The unpredictability of the manic phase was one of the worst features, especially for the kids who need consistency, security and routine. The kids and I would try to talk the their father before he came home from work so we could gauge what ‘mood’ he was in and figure out what to expect when he came through the door.

Family events and holidays are particularly fraught for families with mentally ill members. Our family stories revolve around which kind of ‘scene’ Dad created at which holiday and why and when Dad stormed out of which family gathering. He once left me and the kids stranded at my sister-in-law’s house in New Jersey when he impulsively drove the car to the train station so he could go back to NYC. My sister-in-law had to leave the festivities and drive with my son to the train station to pick up the car so the kids and I could drive ourselves home.

We were greatly relieved when my ex was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 1987. But the relief was short lived because, unfortunately, a common symptom of the disorder is a denial that you have it at all. My ex, as with many others, refused to believe he needed medication, though the Lithium he was prescribed actually worked very well and kept him significantly more level and stable and eliminated his manic phases. Also like other Manic Depressives, my ex refused to stay on his meds for more than a year or so at a time. He’d stop the medication without telling anyone, even his therapist, and he would gradually devolve into worse, more extreme and more and more frequent manic episodes until he was manic basically all the time. That’s when he would hit rock bottom and often had to leave the house because he was so out of control and destructive. Then we had to wait six weeks for the Lithium to kick in once he finally agreed to start taking it again. This is the roller coaster of life with Bipolar Disorder.

I understand exactly what Kim Kardashian is going through. She’s hoping to get Kanye back on his meds but knows in her heart that he won’t stay on it for long. How many times is she willing to go through this crazy cycle? I waited 25 years, until my kids were 14 and 19 before I decided that I had had enough. Knowing what I know now, I would not have subjected my kids to the irrationality, tension and chaos that marked their childhoods. But I was also traumatized and terrorized by the ups and downs of our lives as well, which limited my ability to be strong and confident and take charge of the situation. I was also financially dependent since I had given up my career when my first child was born, but that’s a whole other story.

So my advice to Kim Kardashian is: Get out now while your kids are still young and too much damage hasn’t already been done to them. You have the money to leave and continue to live your upscale lifestyle without the drama and trauma of Kanye’s mental illness in your everyday lives.

SHARING MY WORLD: WHEN DO THE REPLACEMENTS ON MY BODY MAKE ME SOMEONE ELSE?

Share Your World – 8/18/2020


Share Your World Meets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter can speak to snakes. If you were able to have conversations with any one animal, what animal would you like to speak to? What would be the topic of your first conversation?

Dogs. I would love to know what the Duke is thinking about. And the birds and squirrels. I wonder if they even think in the sense that we mean it?

The portraits in Hogwart’s dormitories can talk. If your graduation portrait could speak to people passing it by, what would it tell them?

I will take the fifth on that one. I’m sure it would be gibberish.

Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger use the Pollyjuice Potion for finding new clues for the happenings at Hogwarts. (The Pollyjuice Potion is a magic potion that allows your body to form into that of another and live their life for a few hours.) If you could transform into another being, who would you chose to be? What would you hope to learn?

Nope. Not going there. I hate rumor, gossip, and loathe eavesdropping. Pollyjuice manages to combine all three.

No one hears anything good by eavesdropping. Rumor-mongering isn’t an official mortal sin, but it ought to be. From rumor-mongering comes blackmail, extortion, and great statements like “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” which to me means that if it looks like “he did it,” assume he did. Out of which you wind up with lynchings and online attacks that make teenagers commit suicide. Shame on those who do it and shame on anyone who encourages it.

There was a flooding in the girl’s bathroom where Moaning Myrtle resides. What has been the most dangerous (or comical) ‘flooding’ where you reside?

There’s nothing funny about flooding. If you can’t afford to have a company come and clear up the mess, it takes months to make your home not stink of rot and mold. There’s nothing fun or humorous about it.

Mundane or “Muggle” Questions

(Serious one which is rather creepy):  How do you think you’ll die?  IF you do think about it?

Considering how hard I’ve fought to stay alive, I do not think about dying. I have enough issues and I’m sure one of them will eventually take me out. In the meantime. life just is and I’m glad to be part of the living.

What’s the best online screen name you’ve seen? “Best” might mean the oddest.

I come up blank on this one. Sorry.

What’s invisible that you wish people could see?

Odor. If people could see how they smell, they might do something about it!

If over time you replace parts on a car, at what point does it stop being the same car you bought? How many parts do you need to replace to make it a new car?

I have so many spare parts in my body, I’m beginning to wonder at what point I stop being me and become someone else, a “miracle of modern medicine.”

As for cars, we can’t afford old cars. We can’t repair them. When the price of your monthly repairs comes close to or exceeds what you’d pay for a new or newer car? Replace it. As for my body, I think I’m out of spare parts.

BACKFIRE: THE BIG MISCALCULATION

From the Battleground, by Rich Paschall


“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China,
and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
– Jan. 22


From the very beginning, DJT has not understood the gravity of the situation. Just like he has done with his many failed businesses (13 but who’s counting), and ones that sought bankruptcy protection (6 more), he has miscalculated and mismanaged the pandemic in ways that could only be considered epic, as in epic failure.


“China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts … on behalf of the American People, I want to thank PresidentXi!” – January 24


That’s right. He thanked China, but when things started going poorly in the US, he blamed China and began making racist statements against the Chinese.


“Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” – Feb 10.


He told the American people what he wanted them to believe. The lies and misstatements were just campaign rhetoric. He did not research. He did not study what to do. He made campaign statements.


“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” – Feb 24


It was important to his reelection process for the economy to look good. So he told his followers that everything was fine. It wasn’t. Did he think that things were just miraculously going to fix themselves and his campaign statements were actually going to come true?


“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”  – Feb 27


That seems to be what he thought. The passage of time was just going to make things better. It didn’t. Things only got worse. Instead of taking charge, he blamed everyone he could think of.


“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its
semi-considerable power … to inflame the CoronaVirus situation.”  –
March 9


It is his style to lash out at others when things are not going his way, which is more and more often lately. The statement above was made as the stock market was falling, the virus was starting to spread and people were dying. The following day, the same day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the orange one had this to say:


“We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” – March 10


Basically, they weren’t doing any type of job unless you consider that blaming others was his job. Yes, politicians often do that, but denial and lies were not what was needed in a time of national crisis. It is what we got, however.


“This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.” – March 15.


Contrary to the orange’s one assertions that everything was going well, things were clearly moving in the wrong direction. On March 16th the Orange one announced a guideline for “15 days to slow the spread.”


“We want to have very — as few deaths as possible. This is a horrible thing.” – March 17


One hundred and eight were dead and the numbers were trending the wrong way. Five days later he was getting tired of the whole mess.


“America will again, and soon, be open for business — very soon — a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. A lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” –  March 23


Now it was 557 dead. Trump wanted businesses to reopen. On March 31 Dr. Fauci warned in a task force briefing that 100,000 Americans could die from the disease. There were 3,874 dead. On April 3 the Center for Disease Control recommended Americans wear masks when going out in public. Trump responded:


“It’s going to be, really, a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don’t have to do it.
I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that’s OK.”
– April 3


There was no firm guidance, no leadership, no clear path to success. Trump’s briefings seemed to be an exercise in contradicting the guidance of medical professionals. When Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx were present, they had to walk a fine line between speaking the truth and not making the orange one look like an idiot. A strong contradiction would have gotten them fired.


“Today I am instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess [its] role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” – April 14


Cover-up? WHO declared a pandemic on March 9th. They certainly were not responsible for the Trump administration’s lack of response, but they became the latest scapegoat in the Trump blame game.  607,670 U.S. cases, 25,843 deaths

This was the beginning. A path to nowhere. A solution to nothing. A failure in the making. Donald J. Trump tried to lie the pandemic out of existence. That didn’t work. He tried to force states to open or re-open. That made things worse. He desperately wants a good economy to help his re-election. His push to put things back to the way they were at the beginning of the year has backfired in historic proportions.
With disease on the rise throughout the country, some businesses can not reopen. Others have been destroyed by the long lay-off. The amount of disease is crippling production. America is seen, to use a DJT phrase, as a “shithole country” in other places around the globe. He is directly responsible for that.
Americans are banned from 35 countries on earth. The number is likely to rise as the coronavirus pandemic is out of control in much of America. Since we can not go to their countries, there is no reason for foreign countries to fly here. There is no reason for US flag carriers to fly to many countries. This chokes the supply line on both sides. Companies were used to goods getting to foreign markets in 1 to 3 days, not one to three weeks, if at all. They were used to quickly receiving supplies from overseas, no more. This is all on Trump.
In a touch of irony, Mexico has closed the border to all Americans unless considered essential workers. So has Canada. Thinking of going to the Bahamas for vacation? You’re not going from a US airport with a US passport. I have gone to France for the last ten years. I can not get in this year with an American passport.
Forbes reported on June 30th that “new research from Goldman Sachs suggests a national mask mandate would slow the growth rate of new coronavirus infections and prevent a 5% GDP loss caused by additional lockdown measures.”  This would save the economy a trillion dollars. Do you think that will ever happen? As of this writing, there are over 4 million cases in this country and 146,000 deaths. Meanwhile, 45 is returning to daily briefings because his ratings were good. Heaven help us!

DOOMSDAY BOOK BY CONNIE WILLIS

I read this for the first time when it was first published in 2008. It wasn’t available as an audible book yet, though it would be soon. So my first reading was words on paper.

It’s the story of the plague, the Bubonic Plague in England. In addition to the many light-hearted stores Ms. Willis has written, she has written a four book series about Time Travel and this was the first of the series. She’s not very technical. Her idea of time travel is to take a modern person and move them in time back to a part of history when something unusual was happening and then watch this “modern” human interact with the real inhabitants of that period.

This is either the best or worst time in history to read about Bubonic Plague. On one level, it makes COVID-19 sound like a walk in the park. Bubonic Plague is a powerful disease, borne of a bacteria rather than a virus. Which means you can’t create a vaccine against it and in all these years while Plague has been coming and going around the world, there is no vaccine. These days, it usually can be beaten back with heavy doses of antibiotics, but not always. It still kills people and it pops up all over the world, including in the United States.

In 1348 when the plague hit England and killed at least half the entire population and in some areas, killed everybody leaving towns deserted, everyone knew what we know:


WEAR A MASK. DON’T GET CLOSE TO OTHER PEOPLE.
AVOID “THE HOT SPOTS.” 


The wealthy who had homes far out in the country went there and locked the gates. Those who had no recourse — peasants and merchants — did the best they could. Everyone wore masks until people started to get crazy and say “I’m going to die anyway, so I might as well have fun in the meantime.”

Just like now.

Basically, the Black Death rampaged through England, Europe, and Asia for a few hundred years The 14th century was the biggest hit, but not the only hit. It lurked, so when a new generation was growing up, it struck again. Which is why you see remnants of the plague hitting in the Gobi Desert in prehistoric times, the Justinian Plague in Roman times, then the big one that came in with infected rats to Italian ports and ultimately, everywhere in Europe and England..

This book deals exclusively with 1348 to 1349, the years that the Plague arrived and did its best to kill everyone. It did a pretty good job. No one really knows what proportion of the human population was killed during the plague years, but it was no less than 50% and might have been as high as 75% — and in some areas, as I said, It involved the complete elimination of the entire human population and entire towns and regions. Areas that are regarded as having not been hit by plague were indeed hit, but they only lost 15 to 20% of the population — not enough deaths to even put them on the map.

Ponder that.

Today, we have a problem with freight and moving goods in the world as the Pandemic wreaks havoc. They didn’t have freight or shipping. They barely had roads. Instead, they lost so many peasants there was no one left to grow crops. So in addition to dying of plague, many died of starvation.

I found it more relaxing to read than watching the numbers of new COVID cases on the news every night. This is history. It happened. It’s over. COVID is right now. We are not free from it and we do not know when or if we will be free of it. Although it isn’t as fast a killer as Bubonic Plague, it’s still killing a lot of people and beginning to take a toll on younger people who were supposedly “immune” to it.

Even though, way back in 1348, everyone knew there was no immunity unless you just got lucky, they were as stupid about caring for themselves and each other as we are today. Supposedly they were so much less knowledgeable … but in the end, the answer was exactly the same then as now.


Social distancing and masks.


People were stupid in 1348. They are equally stupid in 2020. Times change. People don’t.

THE TWO PANDEMICS – RICH PASCHALL

From the battleground, by Rich Paschall

COVID-19

All of us are acutely aware of the novel COronaVIrus Disease (COVID-19) that has swept the nation. It has devastated businesses, overwhelmed hospitals, and inundated social services. In comparison to the last great recession (December 2007 to June 2009), things are much worse. According to the Pew Research Center, “The rise in the number of unemployed workers due to COVID-19 is substantially greater than the increase due to the Great Recession when the number unemployed increased by 8.8 million from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2010.”  The Great Recession happened over a couple of years, not a few months.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics pegged the number of unemployed at the end of May at around 21 million. That was actually a slight improvement as some temporarily laid-off workers were called back to work. The rise in employment came in ” leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade.” This may be in anticipation of things opening back up. Some of these businesses are in for a shock.

The head of the World Health Organization has issued a dire warning. “Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up,” he said. This might seem contrary to what an orange politician has to say. He might lead us to believe that the numbers are improving in the US. They are not. While numbers here are averaging 53,000 new cases per day (as of July 4th), Dr. Anthony Faucci, Director of the National Institute of  Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has told a Senate committee that numbers could reach 100,000 per day. “Clearly we are not in total control right now.”

The orange one wants to fool you into thinking that increased testing is the cause of more positive cases. If that is not a lie than it is the statement of an incredibly uninformed individual. His job is to be informed. ProPublica looked at a seven day average from Memorial Day to the following Tuesday. In states like Illinois, New York, and Indiana where testing increased, the number of positive cases fell.  This rewarded their early and strong lockdown measures. In Florida, Arizona, and Texas, along with other red states who were too eager to reopen their economies, the number of positive cases exploded.

Stupidity

If you are reading or listening to the real news, not the Faux News the orange one watches, then you know there are plenty of examples of people who scoffed at the virus, and then died from it. We went down that road with you when we pointed out how “Stupidity Rears Its Ugly Head.” Then we mentioned a Virginia pastor, a Texas priest,  a Texas mom, and an evangelical pastor who all took the virus lightly, then died from it.

There have been more examples since that article ran. A lot more examples. And yet there are still people who want to believe that this is all a hoax or at least exaggerated. A death toll of 132,000 is not an exaggeration. It is a fact.

A leader of the ReOpen Maryland protests got so sick he had to go to an Emergency Room. I guess I do not have to tell you what he has. Now he refuses to help contact tracers. “I will not share anybody’s information with the government. I will not do it.” The governor is encouraging people who came in contact with him to get tested and to stay away from vulnerable populations. This is how grandma gets sick and dies.

In Michigan, where the so-called POTUS was encouraging anarchy by suggesting gun-toting right-wingers liberate the state, karma has struck. In East Lansing, they may have been able to enjoy a cold beer or two, but many won’t be doing that this week. One hundred fifty-two (yes, 152) cases of coronavirus were linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub. The number keeps rising. Contact tracers show this moving into 13 counties. Those infected at the bar range from 18 to 28 years old, but there are nineteen secondary cases with ages ranged 16 to 63. That’s how grandpa gets sick and dies.

A student has returned to New York from Florida for a graduation ceremony for Horace Greeley High School. She got sick and since 4 others from the graduation are sick. She had returned from a Florida COVID-19 hotspot and contact tracers are now on the case. Hopefully, grandma and grandpa stayed away.

Eight Trump campaign workers were reported to have the virus after the rally in Tulsa. Two Secret Service agents tested positive and dozens of agents are in quarantine. Oklahoma Watch reporter, Paul Monies, tested positive. Former Republican candidate Hermain Cain also has it. He’s 74 and hospitalized. As for other attendees, time will tell us soon. Hopefully, grandma and grandpa did not attend.

Photo: Washington Post

You probably know I could go on and on. New cases show up every day as certain red states find the situation out of control. And despite all of the news and all of the examples and all of the numbers, some people still prefer the words of a self-centered orange politician over that of medical professionals. Stupid.

Unlike an orange politician, I do not make up my facts. Therefore, here are my Sources: “U.S. could see 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, Fauci says,” by Helen Branswell, STAT, statnews.com, June 30, 2020.
Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession,” by RAKESH KOCHHAR, Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org, June 11, 2020.
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — MAY 2020,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, bls.gov, June 5, 2020.
WHO Chief On COVID-19 Pandemic: ‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’,” by Scott Neuman, NPR, nopr.org, June 29. 2020.
No, President Trump, Testing Is Not Causing Case Counts to Rise. The Virus Is Just Spreading Faster,” by Charles Ornstein and Ask Ngu, ProPublica, propublica.org, June 25, 2020.
A leader of protests to reopen Maryland says he is ill with COVID-19,” by Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, nbrnews.com, June 27, 2020.
Re-OpenMaryland co-founder catches coronavirus, won’t help contact tracers,” by Lee Brown, New York Post, nypost.com, June 28, 2020.
Coronavirus cases traced to East Lansing Harper’s Brew Pub rise to 152,” by Andrew Mullin, M Live, mlive.com, July 3, 2020.
NY student sparks COVID-19 cluster after returning from Florida,” by Melissa Klein, New York Post, nypost.com, June 27, 2020.
Eight Trump Campaign Staffers Test Positive for Coronavirus After Tulsa Rally,” by Jamilah King, Mother Jones, motherjones.com
Secret Service agents quarantine after Tulsa Trump rally,” by David Aaro, FOX News, New York Post, nypost.com, June 25, 2020.
Reporter at Trump’s Tulsa rally tests positive for COVID-19,” Associated Press, apnews.com, June 26, 2020.
Former Presidential Candidate Herman Cain Hospitalized with COVID-19,” by Adam Carlson, People, people.com, July 2, 2020.

The orange one doesn’t read but if you have gotten this far we know you can. There is plenty to read above. Stay educated, stay home, stay safe.

See also: “Stupidity Rears Its Ugly Head,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, May 24, 2020.

A THANK YOU NOTE TO AMERICA FROM THE CORONA VIRUS – BY TOM CURLEY

Hi America. This is the coronavirus. I’m writing you this letter to say thank you for all you have done for me.  I know I’m just a microscopic organism, literally the simplest life form on Earth.

I’m just a single strand of RNA enclosed in a protein sheath. Whatever the hell that is. But even so, you all have seemed to have gone way out of your way to make sure I survive. I and my billions and billions of copies want you to know we really appreciate it.

You may not know it, but it’s not easy being a pathogen. We have a hard time doing what we have to do, which is to make more copies of ourselves. Sadly, the only way we can do this is by finding our way into a “host.” Usually it’s an animal, like a bat or a rat. We’re also popular with certain insects, like fleas and mosquitoes.

But every so often we get to live in you humans. When we get inside you we burrow into one of your cells that is particularly tasty and we replace that cell’s DNA with our own. Then we make the cell stop doing what it was supposed to do and instead start making hundreds and hundreds of copies of us!  Pretty cool, right?

Then those hundreds and hundreds of copies invade other cells and before you know it, there’s millions of us inside you!

The only problem is, we tend to kill all the cells we invade. After a while we run out of host cells.

That sucks.

On top of that, all you hosts have an “immune system.” It’s a bunch of asshole cells that attack us and kill us.

Fuck you T-cells!

Fortunately, a lot of you are old or sick and your immune cells either can’t do a very good job, or they are busy attacking other cells, like cancer cells.

Sadly, no matter how good or bad your immune systems are, you either force us out, or you die. That sucks for all of us.

So, in order for me and my billions of buds to survive,  we need to find new homes.  New “hosts.” And for us pathogens, that can be a problem. Most of us can only survive for short periods of time outside our “hosts.” Some of us can survive in water and you can drink us. Some of us can live in fleas and mosquitoes. If they bite you, we get a new home! Let’s go Team Fleas and Mosquitoes!

But the best way we get to find new homes is when you find “hosts , breathe us out and new “hosts” breathe us in. That’s the way we get around.

I don’t want to brag, but right now I’m the envy of all my fellow pathogens. Yeah, that’s right, we talk.  Ebola, Smallpox, the Bubonic Plague, the Spanish Flu, Pink Eye.  We’re all still around.

They all had great runs. But right now, it’s my time to shine.

And they’re all jealous.

I can’t blame them. I got it just right, for a pathogen. I don’t kill most people I infect. Like Ebola. I mean, yeah, Ebola is a serious badass.  But when you burn through all your “hosts” really fast, before you know it, you got no place to live. Bad ass, but stupid. I, on the other hand, only kill about 20% of the “hosts” that I live in.

The bad “side effects” of my living in you don’t even show up for at least two weeks. That means I get to live in more and more and more and more of you before you even realize I’m living in more and more and more of you!

The only thing that fucks up my traveling to newer and better “hosts” is when you all start doing things like wearing masks and staying far enough from each other that I can’t get into your nose or eyes. You do that, and one moment I’m spreading like crazy and the next moment I’m homeless.

Fuck that!

The other thing you do is “quarantine “hosts” who have me! Not fair!

And that brings me to why I’m writing you this thank you note. An amazing number of you are refusing to do anything to stop me from finding newer and newer homes! Around the world most of you are a bunch of dicks doing every thing to make me go away . But not in something called “America.” You guys are awesome! You started out as real dicks, but then you realized how much that was hurting me and you stopped.  You were wearing masks and staying away from each other. Until you weren’t!

Irony is on speed dial

All of a sudden you went back to going to weddings and funerals and churches and bars and clubs! You sit real close to each other and you sing and scream and shout and sneeze and cough! AWESOME!

That’s exactly what I need! I’ve heard that about 19,000 of you are all going to pack yourselves into an enclosed space to hear one of you tell the rest of you that I’m just a hoax and I’m just going to go away!

I love you guys!!

So, that’s basically it. Thank you America. It’s hard being a global pathogen but you have all really gone the extra mile to help me out.

USA!

USA!

PS: I know a lot of my “hosts” are wondering how I can be writing this blog. Or how I even know what a blog is. My answer is

How the hell should I know??!! I’m a fucking virus!

GIVING UP, NOT IN – Marilyn Armstrong

I almost quit any number of times. I didn’t smoke a lot. Less than a pack a day and eventually I got it down to five or six a day and sometimes less. The problem with cigarettes is that one day, for no special reason, you realize you smoked an entire pack. You just sort of forgot you had quit.

In my long and checkered professional career, I had many bosses. One of them had, in a former life, been addicted to heroin. It wasn’t a secret. We all knew because he told us. I had the feeling he was proud of having kicked drugs and was now the owner of a software development company. I asked him how he did it, how he got free of his addiction.

“You know,” he said, “It really wasn’t as hard as you might think. Mostly, I had to get away from the people, from other junkies, and the world of drugs. After I stopped hanging out with those people, getting off drugs was relatively easy. It’s the culture that pulls you in even more than the drugs.”

“I wish,” he continued, a touch of wistfulness in his voice, “It was as easy to kick cigarettes. When you hang out with junkies, you know it’s illegal. You sneak around. You are careful. But cigarettes? No problem. They’re legal. Grab a buddy and go for a smoke. It’s a social thing.

“You don’t hear heroin addicts saying to each other ‘Hey, anyone want to go out back and shoot up?’ but you can stop by another smoker’s desk and say … ‘Hey, want to go have a butt?’

“I’ve had a much harder time quitting smoking than I had quitting heroin. Much harder,” he said and reached for the pack of cigarettes in his pocket. He did soon thereafter, quit. He decided having kicked narcotics, he could kick cigarettes too. So he did.

I was a smoker myself, then. I had been trying to quit for years. I’d quit, then I’d be somewhere where other smokers worked. I’d get sucked into it. It wasn’t the physical addiction that lured me. I understood how bad it was for my health, disastrous to my budget and getting more costly each day. It made my clothing and hair smell like a dirty ashtray. It was the social connection that got me. Hanging out with other smokers. The rhythm of smoking. I’d write, then take a break, grab a smoke. It was part of my process.

I was never as heavy a smoker other people I knew. I lit many more cigarettes than I smoked. But I enjoyed smoking. I liked the smell of fresh tobacco. I liked standing outside on a crisp night, watching my smoke curl up and away into the sky.

I did a lot of my thinking on cigarette breaks. When I was writing, if I was stuck, I’d have a smoke. By the time I was halfway through it, I’d know what I was going to do and how I would do it.

Smoking-Burning-CigaretteIt took me years of quitting, backsliding, and quitting again before it finally “stuck.” Years before the smell of tobacco brought back memories without triggering a desire to smoke.

I am sure today, after more than ten years if I were to smoke one cigarette, I’d be a smoker. Again. It’s not unlike being an alcoholic. One drink and you’re a drunk again.

It’s not because I’m physically addicted. After all these years of not smoking, I’m obviously not addicted to nicotine, if I ever was. Yet on some level, I will always be addicted to cigarettes.

It would probably be easier to quit now since most offices are smoke-free. That being said, it’s not that I don’t want a cigarette. I just don’t smoke.

STUPIDITY REARS ITS UGLY HEAD – RICH PASCHALL

The View From Here, by Rich Paschall

Living Fearlessly

You have probably seen plenty of examples of this. There are those who need a haircut no matter what the risk. Some must have a party, no matter what stay at home orders have been issued. Others absolutely have to go to the beach, even if it is crowded. Those dying to get out and about don’t believe that they will be dying because they went out and about.

This week I saw two grade-school kids riding their bike down the street. They had no masks on. I did not recognize them as living nearby so perhaps they were just riding around the neighborhood. A day later I saw two different kids riding up and down the alley behind the house. They had masks but were not wearing them across their faces, just hooked around their ears and across their necks. They were probably told not to leave the house without them, so they didn’t. The two boys in the alley stopped to talk to an older girl. She did not have a mask on either. Recently I have been to two different convenience stores. As I went into one, a man was coming out sipping his coffee. He did not have a mask. A postal worker was buying a batch of Lotto tickets. She had no mask. As I was checking out, I mentioned to the checker that every single customer in that store did not have a mask. She and I were the only ones. A guy without a mask behind me in line got a piece of my mind. He did not say anything but he did back up a few steps. At another convenience store two young guys behind the counter were not wearing masks or gloves. I walked out.

I have seen the same sort of thing at the supermarket and the pharmacy. I tried to go to them in the first hour on a Tuesday or Thursday when it is Seniors only. Despite the signs on the doors, people enter who are not wearing masks. Some are not even Seniors.

You may have seen on the news, if you have the stomach to watch the news these days, that there are plenty of people out protesting for their right to congregate any way they wish. They even intimidate lawmakers by showing up at the state capital with automatic weapons. Many do not seem to think that any of their fellow protestors might have the coronavirus.

On our local Chicago news, we saw that business in neighboring Wisconsin had reopened. Despite bars and restaurants being encouraged to maintain social distancing, scenes from a crowded bar were broadcast. One of the people interviewed was a nurse from down here in hard-hit Cook County, Illinois. She has seen plenty of COVID-19 patients. Now she’s sorry she was interviewed at a bar.

Instant Karma

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead – John Lennon.

Perhaps you heard of the Virginia pastor who vowed to keep his church open unless he was in jail or in the hospital. He’s in the cemetery. He preached to a crowded church on March 22 and died on Easter of the virus. Parishioners and preachers have died of the virus because they thought they would be safe in a crowded church. An elderly priest died in Texas recently, but they seemed to dismiss this because he was old anyway. Some of his parishioners tested positive.

A Texas mom of two boys who declared the virus a “media hoax” died from it. So did an evangelical pastor who went to Mardi Gras. There are plenty of such cases. Some who contracted it have recovered after attending Mardi Gras, or a crowded party. Some didn’t.

Survivors of near-death experiences think we are moving too quickly to reopen businesses. “People don’t really understand how serious this is until they know somebody who’s going through it,” one survivor’s girlfriend claimed. I have seen enough of this type of interview on the news. In general, the survivor is very sorry for attending____________ (insert crowded event here).

In red counties that had strongly supported Trump, and have pushed to reopen businesses, the virus is on the rise. Four days after the Republican governor of Maryland started opening up businesses in the state, they had the largest number of positive tests for one day so far. Coincidence or karma?

Living In Fear

The sort of thing you see above in “Living Fearlessly” are the reasons that so many of us who are older or have suppressed immune systems live in fear. We can not count on going to the store and have all the patrons follow the rules. Some of us qualify to go to the store during the Senior hour, but that means nothing if the store is afraid to enforce the rules. I shop at stores that have large signs posted to wear masks, and certain hours are Seniors only, but it doesn’t matter.  If people are so willing to violate these rules about the store, we can probably guess that they are willing to break other rules too. Do we want to be in the store with them?

The lieutenant governor of Texas may believe that Seniors are willing to lay down their lives for the economy, but I have news for him. He can go out and take risks, but we don’t feel that way. We want to be around long enough to vote that sort of politician out of the political office or keep them from getting in.

I live in a two-flat house. My much younger neighbor upstairs had been very careful, wearing a mask and gloves to the stores. He was always cleaning and sanitizing. He gave me a special mask around Christmas time that not only covers nose and mouth but ears too. We had some bad winters in the past. I use it a lot now.

He has contracted the virus. He’s had girlfriends over to spend the night. There is more than one, I think. He probably trusted they were just as safe as he was otherwise. He was obviously wrong. Now he is sick. We have a common front hall and front door, common basement area with a common washer and dryer. We could touch a lot of the same surfaces in a day. He is not intentionally trying to kill off his older neighbors. Sometimes people just don’t think about it until it is too late.

Instant Karma Sources: “VIRGINIA PASTOR DIES FROM COVID-19… 3 Weeks After Holding Packed Service,” TMZ, tmz.com April 13, 2020.
Parishioner of Louisiana Church That Defied Virus Lockdown Dies From COVID-19, But Pastor Claims It’s a Lie,” by Rachel Olding, Daily Best, thedailybeast.com April 17, 2020.
Texas church cancels masses following the death of priest possibly from coronavirus,” by Meredith Deliso, ABC News, abcnews.go.com May 18, 2020.
Family Of COVID-19 Victim Who Criticized ‘Hysteria’ Around Virus Faces Online Attacks,” by Kelly McEvers, WBEZ 91.5, npr.com May 15, 2020.
Texas woman claimed COVID-19 is a media hoax & can be stopped by “faith.” Days later she died.” by Bil Browning, LGBTQNation, lgbtqnation.com April 7, 2020.
After enduring ventilators, body aches, fever, coronavirus survivors say states shouldn’t be reopening.” by Rick Jervis and Kameel Stanley, USA Today, usatoday.com May 18, 2020.
COVID-19 continues spreading into counties with strong Trump support,” by William H. Frey, Brookings, brookings.edu May 20, 2020.
Maryland Reports Largest Rise Yet In Coronavirus Cases 4 Days After Reopening,” by Bill Chappell, WBEZ 91.5, npr.com May 19, 2020.
See also: “Absolutely No Absolute Rights,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com April 8, 2020.

MY DAY AT THE HOSPITAL – Marilyn Armstrong

After a day during which we got up early because I had a hospital appointment, the day after Bonnie quite literally barked all night, it made this into a very long day. Garry hadn’t driven in so long, we missed the turn into the hospital.

When we finally backtracked, they had the entire parking lot roped off and there are a lot of places you can’t go. Like the front door to the buildings. Since they won’t let the caretakers of people in, Garry had to wait in the car. It turned out he could have waited in the lobby, but when we asked, no one knew anything about anything.

One building was all COVID-19 cases — it used to be an extension of the daycare/heart unit and presumably will be again. I fell on my way in, really because those shoes have a ribbed sole that has a tendency to catch on cement. I scraped my knee, which was only a very small part of the problem. The rest of it was getting up from the ground. I can do it myself, but I need something to grab.

And suddenly, there were nurses and doctors and lawyers everywhere. “She fell on hospital grounds!” they said. I guess they assumed I was ready to call a lawyer.

I said, “If this is the most serious problem I have this week, it’ll be a great week.” They still had to check me out, realized when I said it was no big deal, I meant it really was no big deal. They cleaned it, didn’t bother to bandage it. Tomorrow everything will hurt, but in the meantime, they checked my battery (I sometimes sound like one of my electronic devices) and unlike the last time they checked it when I had maybe two years of battery left, this time I had 6-1/2 years left. I guess quarantine got me fully charged.

There wasn’t much traffic but there was more than I expected. A lot more.

The nurse explained that they aren’t worried about people who need help because basically, everything is closed. I pointed out that I didn’t hurry for this exam. They called me because it had been more than a year since I was checked. Which is a long time for someone following heart surgery, especially with so many implants.

She looked at my records and said, “Oh. yes. I can see.” She then pointed out that the mess they’d made at the hospital was way above her pay grade. And she reminded me that they have a building full of tests for Coronavirus, but they aren’t using the tests because they are saving them.

I didn’t even bother asking what they were saving them for because I already knew that was  WAY above her paygrade and maybe the head of the hospital’s paygrade.

Outbound road

They sent me the test results and I have to say I have no idea what they mean. None. The only thing I could say for sure is that there were no “flags” indicating a specific problem. So that battery works and there’s nothing terrible going on.

As we turned into the driveway, I asked Garry to stop so I could take pictures of the garden which has gone from a dead, muddy pile to something resembling a garden. Amazing what sunshine can do. I’m supposed to get a box soon, when our very backed up post office manages to hire a few more deliverers who can find their way around the Valley. It will — via Bluetooth — continuously interrogate my Pacemaker and send the information electronically. I may not have to go to the doctor more than once a year, but it is a bit creepy.