Day 77 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I have learned that I am full of drivel – enough to fill 77 daily blogs. In this period I have written more blogs than I did in the previous seven years. Since March 16th I’ve written nearly 90,000 words for this blog. By comparison, my doctoral dissertation was a mere 65,000 words.

Sunday, May 31, 2020 – Live to Blog with No Regrets and a New Focus

I can’t believe I’ve made it! No, not that we are still sheltering-in-place for 77 days. Frankly, I expected that. My personal epidemiologist (Clemencia) has repeatedly warned me this was going to be bad – really bad – and that we needed to get ourselves prepared mentally and physically for the long haul. What I can’t believe is that I made it through 77 consecutive blogs.

Looking Back…

When I started writing this blog series, I thought it was going to be for 14 days. That’s how long we thought the sheltering-in-place was going to last. I don’t know what the reality of being locked down has to do with quantum theory but it does seem to have messed with my sense of time. On the one hand, it doesn’t actually seem like it has been 77 days. On the other hand, it sometimes feels like it has been an eternity. All in all, the evidence around me, provided by the changing of the season, tells me it has been a significant period of time.

So what have I learned along the way?

I have learned that I am full of drivel – enough to fill 77 daily blogs. In this period I have written more blogs than I did in the previous seven years. Since March 16th I’ve written nearly 90,000 words for this blog. By comparison, my doctoral dissertation was a mere 65,000 words.

I’ve redisovered my love of writing. All of my life I’ve had to write – curriculum, reports, proposals, papers, dissertations, more proposals, more reports, blah-blah-blah, yada yada, ad nauseam. When I wrote my dissertation it felt like I had nothing else left to give. Ever since then writing has been even more onerous. In writing this daily drivel blog I’ve found joy again in the word play, creativity, and silliness that comes with writing what I want.

It’s been a great exercise for my brain. It has pushed me to creative experimentaion, especially when I have seemed to be running low. There were many days when I didn’t think I had anything in me to write. On those days, I’d just start writing, stream of consciousness, to see what came out. Sometimes it was weird as heck, but it made me smile, giggle, and sometimes laugh. So I’d just go with it. I have come to love the challenge of creating something out of nothing every single day.

My writing is more interesting and at its best when I don’t try to write for others. Truly, I started this COVID-19 blog because I needed to do something to manage my own pandemic anxiety. I decided to write for myself – as in a journal – whatever was coming up for me. I was surprised to find people reading the blog and responding to it. Some people tell me it is the first thing they read when they get up in the morning (it is automatically sent each day at 8:00 AM Eastern). Some people come to my website to read it, others just read it in the format in which it appears in email. I’m stunned and humbled to realize how many people are actually reading this drivel blog.

I can sometimes put into words what others think and feel but cannot articulate. I did not fully appreciate until now what an important thing that is. I’m honored to be able to do that. I’m even more honored when my voice has given permission to or empowered others to use their voices.

I’ve learned much more about how to use Word Press, which is where my blog and the Tenacious Change LLC website are housed. I would not say that I’ve been expert at it but I can do most things now without first watching a tutorial or Googling it.

I don’t want to stop. I really don’t. I’m having too much fun. I’ve realized that I could be immensely happy doing nothing but writing a daily blog and then calling it a day. Unfortunately, I can’t do it that way. I still have to work for a living…a lot…but…

Looking Forward…

Still, I’m not going to stop, though it will be a little bit different than it has been. Here’s what to expect.

First, here is a sneak peek at the new name and new masthead you will see at the top of tomorrow’s blog:

Second, I am going to do my best to write a daily blog, even if it is just a few lines. Since I will continue working from home for the foreseeable future, it will be easier to carve out a few minutes to tap out a posting. However, if I miss a day here or there, be sure to check back.

Third, the The Daily Drivel will retain some things I think are important and that I enjoy. For example:

  • The blog will continue to be a retrospective, like a journal. No breaking news here. The news will have already been broken, but I may have opinions about it.
  • Stories of COVID-19, under this or a new title, will now become a section of the blog that I will write as needed.
  • Chickenman will continue. There were approximately 100 original episodes of Chickenman and we are only about halfway through.
  • Winthrop Dykstra-Baum will appear occasionally because I just can’t rid of him. I expect he and I will continue to irritate one another occasionally.
  • Bert Left and Ernie Right…well, they may reconstitute themselves if I decide to do another experiment in non-stop sock wearting.
  • For better or worse, my occasional rants will continue because, more than anything else, this blog is still a means for me to stay sane in the midst of an increasingly insane world. Letting off steam here helps me maintain some perspective.
  • Stories of my life – past and present – will appear because the process of writing tends to remind me of stories and then I just tell them. I really can’t help myself, actually.
  • Cartoons and drawings from my friend Jeff Logan will also continue for as long as he is willing to let me publish them. (Hint, hint, Jeff.)

What will be new in The Daily Drivel will be occasional essays (which, of course, are just calmer rants), a little more integration of my professional life and work, and odd bits of trivia. Trivia has always fascinated me but not the kind of useful trivia you’d want to know for a game like Trivial Pursuit or trivia night at your local pub. I really enjoy totally useless, weird trivia which, when you throw it into a conversation, people look at you funny and say, “Huh?!?” Then they go silent because they really don’t know what to say or maybe they are just wondering if it is safe to be near you.

I would also like The Daily Drivel to be a place where we can have some open, honest dialogue about things that are important but not easy to discuss. I’m not exactly sure how to make this happen, but it is something I am going to work on. I may not always get it right, but I’m going to try. I am open to your suggestions.

In the end, what I want this blog to be is a place to have a dual purpose. I want it to be a place where people can come each day to have some fun to start their day or to end it. And I also want people to learn, to grow, and to feel motivated and encouraged to join me in making this world we share a better place for ALL of us. What greater good can we do together than this?

See you tomorrow!

Chickenman – Episode 44

Chickenman is hot on the trail of the Mayor’s favorite kite – the one with the rocket ship on it. Along the way, Chickenman is mistaken for an elephant.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and please keep meeting me here.


Day 70 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Do not imagine for a moment that they are asleep…though I must admit a couple of folks do look very relaxed.

Sunday, May 24, 2020 – Live to Blog (kind of) from Quaker Meeting

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

We attended Quaker meeting again today via Zoom. I’ve been impressed with how seamlessly people have adapted to the new environment for Meeting for Worship. Thanks to Zoom, Clemencia and I have been able to attend Quaker meeting more than usual. She’s a bit camera shy so she sits off to the side but I am usually on camera to represent us both. Besides, being on camera is my incentive for avoiding nodding off.

So, Can You Gather with God Over Zoom?

This is the question the New York Times asked on Friday, May 22. To answer it they focused on unprogrammed Quaker meetings where Friends (the other term often used for Quakers) gather for worship. The article in the New York Times is filled with photos of Quakers sitting in silence with their eyes closed. Do not imagine for a moment that they are asleep…though I must admit a couple of folks do look very relaxed.

What Quakers all around the world are finding…no, rediscovering…as a result of their Zoom worship experiences is something we learned from George Fox over 300 years ago in his Journal:

The Lord showed me, so that I did see clearly, that he did not dwell in these temples which men had commanded and set up, but in people’s hearts … his people were his temple, and he dwelt in them.

George Fox, Journal, 1694

Quakers have held since the beginning of their movement that God inhabits the hearts of people, not buildings or other sacred places. You can imagine this did not endear them to the Church of England, which the Quaker movement initially sought to revive and reform. In more recent years we may have drifted a bit from that ideal as our ancient Meetinghouses have caught the attention of various historical societies and become state and national historic sites. Our own Meetinghouse is a beautiful 200+ year old building which seems to breathe on its own infused by the lives of so many who have gathered there over the past two centuries.

The Zoom experience seems to have reminded us that God’s real address in our hearts – not at 17715 Meeting House Road, Sandy Spring, Maryland 20860. While many churches and faith communities around us seem anxious and distressed about whether they can worship outside their buildings, we are rediscovering one of the original tenet’s that sets Quakers apart from many other groups. We don’t need a building to commune with God because God is present in our midst whenever – and how ever – we gather in worship.

This in one of my favorite depictions of Quaker worship. All wait in silence yet one person, a woman, is hearing the still small voice of God. It is unclear, of course, whether this is a message for all, or a message for her alone. Throughout our history, the voice of women in worship has been welcome and encouraged. This painting is by James Doyle Penrose, 1864.

So when we gather we sit silently and listen for that of God within us to speak to us. Sometimes the messages we receive in this gathered meditation are to be shared aloud with others. Many times, though, the messages speak very individually and personally to our condition in that moment. In the years I have attended Quaker meeting I have rarely spoken in worship. However, I have been spoken to many times through messages from others and by the still small voice of God that whispers to me in the hush of the Meeting for Worship.

When I learned of the New York Times article today in the announcement period that typically follows Meeting for Worship, I wanted to capture a picture of our meeting to share with you. Taking pictures in Meeting for Worship is something we do not generally do nor do we allow. Fortunately, a Friend offered a way for me to capture a photo that was agreeable to all. Friends who did not want to be pictured in a screenshot were given a few seconds to turn off their cameras. When it seemed every one still on camera was fine with having their picture taken, I grabbed the screen shot below. Thank you to my friends and Friends at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting in Sandy Spring, Maryland for participating in this photo and allowing me to post it here.

On May 24, 2020 there were more than 40 Zoom sign-ins for the 11:00 AM Meeting for Worship with Sandy Spring Friends Meeting. Because several couples were on camera, attendance was likely well over 60. This is a sampling of those present.

The Passing of a Friend

A few weeks ago I shared with you that a friend had passed from complications of COVID-19. She was special to us because she was among the first people we got to know at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting when we first started attending. Actually, we met her at the Passion Bakery Cafe after Meeting for Worship where she and we loved to eat. It is less than 200 yards from the Sandy Spring Friends Meetinghouse making it a convenient place to stop for lunch after Meeting. In my previous posting I did not give her name.

Nora Caplan – A Friend to All – 1927-2020 – Source: Washington Post, May 22, 2020

On Friday, May 22nd the Washington Post ran a wonderful article about our friend Nora Caplan. I hope you take the time to read it. It is quite brief. The article did a wonderful job of capturing her as we knew her. What I didn’t know until I read the article is that Nora was a native Midwesterner like me. She grew up in Springfield, MO, just a few hours south of where I grew up in Southeast Iowa. When I read that in the article I immediately understood her friendliness. We Midwesterners are, often to a fault, very friendly. Nora’s friendliness left a mark on us. It assured us it would be a good thing to return to Sandy Spring Friends Meeting. She left us on April 25, 2020 at the age of 93.

For Dog Lovers…

Ever wonder what your dog does when you aren’t at home? This dog owner, training his new Labrador puppy, Lucy, to handle being alone at home, wondered what would happen when he took Princess (his other dog) out for a walk but without Lucy.

The View from Jeff

Jeff Logan is my friend and was my cohort-mate in the doctoral program at Eastern University. He lives in Calgary, Alberta and is a cartoonist, educator, linguist, and co-pastor’s a Baptist church with his spouse. He has graciously allowed me to share some of his cartoons here. Enjoy!

Jeff explains: I thought of this joke while sleeping and thought it was hilarious… Woke up and realized it’s just a mediocre pun based on the word “admit.” But it still made me laugh.

The Adventures of Chickenman

How about a double shot of Crimefighting Chicken Goodness to “celebrate” Day 70 of our sheltering-in-place?

First, we have Episode 39 of the original Chickenman. He has finally found the Teddy Bear he has been tailing. But what will come of that?

Next we have a cartoon version of an early episode of Chickenman from animator Michael Wahlberg. Enjoy!

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep the faith – in whatever ways you express it.


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

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

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

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

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

It’s a Mambothon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Adventures of Chickenman

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

¡Charlemos con Clemencia! Is Now Live!

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

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

A Sad Reality…

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

#alonetogether but are we ALL in this together?

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

In Other News…

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

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

There you have it!

Trying It Again…Instacart

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

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

A Reminder to Reach Out Others At This Time

The Adventures of Chickenman

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

In Reality…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Day 64 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

The kiss was so light that most people thought it was an insect that briefly landed on them or may the wings of butterfly passing too closely.

Monday, May 18, 2020 – Live to Blog NOT from a Venutian Spaceship


Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum, radio legend and Matt Damon doppelganger here. This is another edition of Truth Be Told. The source of COVID-19 is now known, and I’ve got the scoop.

On Thanksgiving Day in 2019, while millions of Americans were eating their turkey and pumpkin pie, a Venutian spacecraft hovered over Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province. While the citizens of Wuhan went about their daily shopping, an invisible landing party of 13 Venutian’s beamed down. They immediately began to infect people with a virus in the city’s wet market by running up and kissing people lightly on the forehead.

The kiss was so light that most people thought it was an insect that briefly landed on them or even the wings of a butterfly passing too closely. It would not be long before people became ill and the scientist’s would begin investigating. By the time the Novel Coronavirus was discovered, many more were ill, some were dying, and the virus began to spread outside of Wuhan.

Truth be told, COVID-19 was planted on earth by the Venutians as the first wave of an interplanetary plot to take over the earth and enslave all human kind. If we are to…

Artist’s rendering of Winthrop being beamed aboard the Venutian ship.
  • Me: WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Winthrop, what the heck are you doing? I’ve told you before, many times, you are not welcome in this blog unless you are invited.
  • Winthrop: I know and I wouldn’t be here except it is a matter of life and death. I’ve not only discovered the source of COVID-19 but I have the cure as well.
  • Me: No you don’t, Winthrop. You have some idiotic story about invisible Venutians kissing people on the forehead. That almost as far-flung as some of the conspiracy theorys floating around out there.
  • Winthrop: No, it’s different. It is verified.
  • Me: What?!? Wait…wait…How?
  • Winthrop: By me!
  • Me (rolling eyes, shaking head): Of course it is…how did that happen Winthrop?
  • Winthrop: It’s a secret.
  • Me: What do you mean “it’s a secret?”
  • Winthrop: I can’t tell. I promised I wouldn’t.
  • Me: Who made you promise, Winthrop?
  • Winthrop: I’d rather not say.
  • Me (sarcastically): Oh, I get it. I suppose the Venutians made you promise?
  • Winthrop: How’d you know that? Who told you?
  • Me (now wanting to have some fun of my own): Who do think? The Martians! They always outsmart the Venutians, don’t you know that?
  • Winthrop: Who said that?
  • Me: Winthrop, I’m only messing with you. I made that up. I didn’t talk to any Martians because there aren’t any. And you didn’t talk to any Venutians because there aren’t any of them either.
  • Winthrop: Yes, there are.
  • Me: How do you know that?
  • Winthrop: They beamed me up in their ship. They had heard me on the radio and wanted to make sure a reporter had their story.
  • Me: Oh, yeah, that makes ALOT of sense now.
  • Winthrop: Good! I wasn’t sure you’d believe me.
  • Me (exasperated): Of course I don’t believe you, Winthrop! Why should I believe you? Look, buddy, I think the stress of all this is getting to you.
  • Winthrop: No, it’s not. I know what I know. You know what else I know?
  • Me: Oh, I can only imagine! What is it?
  • Winthrop: They told me the cure in case I got infected.
  • Me: Let me guess…I’ve heard this somewhere before…is it you drink Clorox or you inject Lysol? Maybe swallow a flashlight?
  • Winthrop: Those are all ridiculous and some would even kill you! No, it’s “Baby Shark.”
  • Me: What? That obnoxious children’s song?
  • Winthrop: Yeah, it is. You hold hands with one other person and you both sing it together three times. You’re cured!
  • Me: Okay, that’s it, Winthrop! Leave my blog and go take your temperature. Your fever must be really high today.

On Theories Like Winthrop’s

On the Media is a weekly radio program broadcast on many National Public Radio stations and a podcast. The May 15th program is titled Communication Breakdown. There were two segments which really grabbed my attention. One (Mixed Messages in the Heartland) is about the absence of Federal data and directives concerning COVID-19 in the Heartland of the U.S. This is something we have heard personally about from Alonzo and Starlee, our good friends from the Heartland with whom we have Saturday morning Zoom coffee. Both work in professional positions where that information is vital and it has become clear they are not receiving it. It is distressing to say the least. The other (What to Say When a Loved One Shares Pandemic Disinfo) is on conspiracy theories, and other whacky ideas, about COVID-19. Within that segment is advice on how to engage with friends and family who are convinced by them. You can find and listen to Communication Breakdown here on the On The Media website.

Just Sayin’ – Sheltering-In-Place Works

Everyone knows it is a real pain to be confined to your home for such a long period of time. But does it matter? Recent research from the University of Iowa College of Public Health found that stay-at-home orders do seem to be making a difference in the spread of COVID-19. The study compared five counties in Iowa along the Mississippi River with five counties on the other side of the river in Illinois. The five counties in Illinois issued broad shelter-in-place orders back in March while Iowa has not yet issued similar orders. When comparing the two sets of counties, the Iowa counties had 30% greater increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. This research is consistent with research that is beginning to emerge from other studies.

Hmmm…You Either Laugh or You Cry

This three minute video was produced by The Atlantic.


You know comedian Jim Gaffigan. He is almost instantly recognizable. He does a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, usually in the closing minutes. This past Sunday he did a commentary on living in unprecendented times. It is fun, funny, and a bit wistful. Enjoy!

The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 33 – The Invisible White Winged Warrior is receiving treatment for his invisibility as the Policy Commissioner is being asked by Washington to summon our Hero to help in a national emergency.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and don’t allow yourself to be kissed by any Venutians.


Day 62 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I got in the driver’s side and he, of course, rode in the passenger’s side. Though seatbelts were now mandatory in all vehicles, Boomer refused to wear one. I waited, like my driver’s instruction manual said I should, for him to buckle up but he didn’t.

Saturday, May 16, 2020 – Live to Blog from the Deck with Argumentative Socks


Okay, new HVAC system installed. The house is quiet again. Everything is working just fine. I awakened to a beautiful day, went to the deck, and then it happened.

The Sock Rebellion – Part 2

As you know, Bert Left and Ernie Right are retired each night to our deck. They are gently hung up on the back of my Amish Made Poly Adirondack chair to dry and air out. I’m surprised at how many readers inquire about Bert and Ernie’s well being. In fact, they are doing very well given they are being worn daily and are still unwashed for 62 days. I’m rather surprised. In fact they may be holding up better than me and I am washed daily.

The downside of this great unwashed experiment is that Bert and Ernie have become increasingly belligerent and irascible. A couple of weeks ago they wanted to get away from the house. I had to put my foot down and tell them no. Today I ran into more trouble with them when I went out to the deck to retrieve them to start the day with me.

  • Bert: Hey bonehead. What are you doing?
  • Me: Me? I’m doing the same thing I have done every day for 61 days. I’m coming out to get you, put you on, and go work.
  • Ernie: Yeah? Well, we ain’t budgin’.
  • Bert: Yeah, that’s right. We ain’t goin’ nowhere.
  • Me: Wait a minute…two weeks ago you two were trying to bully me into taking you out of the house for a movie or dinner, or something like that.
  • Bert: So what, bonehead? We can do whatever we like. And now, we ain’t budgin’.
  • Ernie: Yeah. We ain’t budgin’. Nope.
  • Me: Look guys, what’s going on here? You’ve never had a problem being moved from the deck until now.
  • Ernie: Well, bonehead, that’s cause it hasn’t been warm and sunny until now. Did you know the sun was out yesterday and it got to be about 90 degrees?
  • Bert: Yeah, man, that felt so good! And today it’s going to be in the 80’s!
  • Ernie: Look, I’ve already started to get a tan.
  • Me: Socks don’t tan.
  • Ernie: Who says, bonehead? That’s a tan line if I ever saw one.
  • Me: No, it’s not. It’s a dirt line. It’s right at the point where the top of my shoe comes up on you.
  • Ernie: I’m not going to argue with you, bonehead. I know it’s a tan line and I know you’re stupid.
  • Me: Look, Ernie…and Bert…I’m getting tired of your complaining and your calling me names.
  • Bert: Really bonehead? Isn’t that your name? (Ernie laughs outloud.)
  • Me: Bert, you know it isn’t. Come on, guys, be more civil, will you? We’ve got too much incivility in our world right now.
  • Ernie: Whoaa! Fancy word, bonehead! “Incivility,” I like that!
  • Me: Apparently you do. In fact, I’ve never known socks to be so incivil.
  • Bert: Well, thank you very much, bonehead! We appreciate that!
  • Me: I need you two to come off the chair now and get to work.
  • Bert: Why? Are we going somewhere today?
  • Me: No, of course not. We still have to shelter-in-place.
  • Ernie: So then what’s the hurry? You ain’t goin’ nowhere. And we ain’t done soakin’ up the rays, man.
  • Bert: Yeah, we’re still chillin’. Hey, Ernie, what did I do with my sunglasses?
  • Ernie: They’re already on your face, dummy!
  • Bert: Oh, yeah, how’d I miss that? Okay, ready to sing?
  • Ernie: Count us in, Bert!
  • Bert: One, two…one, two, three, four…
  • Bert & Ernie:I wear my sunglasses at night, So I can…

Some days it just isn’t worth the fight. So I closed the door to the deck, went to my closet, and got out a pair of sandals. It’s supposed to rain tonight. I think they can just stay on the deck! Ha!

Driver’s Ed with Boomer

Earlier this week I introduced you to my brother-in-law, Boomer. In that earlier story you learned that he was a biker, a street fighter, and a father figure to me. In addition to his bike, he loved fast cars. He had a 1968 Plymouth Road Runner that he would drag race (if you are only familiar with RuPaul’s Drag Race, you may wish to look this one up). Boomer’s car was no longer “stock.” It had been upgraded to make it go even faster and look even better.

This 1968 Plymouth Road Runner looked very much like the one Boomer had and which he let me drive…once..but what a ride!

The Plymouth Road Runner was named after the famous Warner Brother’s cartoon character and its horn would make the character’s “Beep-beep” sound rather than the usual blaring car horn sound. I always liked that feature!

Shortly after I got my learner’s permit, Boomer let me drive his Road Runner. At that time in Iowa you got your learner’s permit at age 14. I got in the driver’s side and he, of course, rode in the passenger’s side. Though seatbelts were now mandatory in all vehicles by that time, Boomer refused to wear one. I waited for him to buckle up, like my driver’s instruction manual said I should, but he didn’t. When I asked why he wouldn’t buckle up he replied, rather loudly with at least one swear word, “Why should I do that? I pay taxes! If I’m in a wreck, the ambulance drivers need to come find me. I’m not going to make their jobs easy by strapping myself in!” Boomer was a fount of such irrefutable logic.

By the time I drove the mile to the edge of town I was so nervous I was already sweating through my tee shirt and sticking to the vinyl seat. As we pulled up to the stop sign near the Shell station, Boomer said, “Let’s go West on 78 and see what you can do.” So I turned right onto the highway. State Highway 78 is a two-lane highway that goes over rolling hills with only a few curves. (Yes, much of Iowa is actually rolling hills, not flat prairie like Nebraska.)

Having successfully made the turn and started down the highway, I was careful to observe the speed limit. After a minute at about 60 miles per hour, Boomer, apparently bored with the slow pace, swore again and said, “I said let’s see what you can do. Open it up!” So I began to press the acclerator down.

The speedometer (which registered all the way up to 155 miles per hour) slowly climbed…70…75..80…90…I was really beginning to sweat now. I glanced over at Boomer. He nodded and said, “Keep goin’.”

95…100…110…I glanced over again as my heart pounded. He said, “Yeah, that’s right. Go on!”

115…120…125…and on the next hill I felt the car begin to come off the ground as we topped it. I couldn’t take it anymore. Plus I was scared of what Boomer would do if my frightened bladder gave way on his car seat.

I let up on the gas and when I did I heard a string of expletives come out of Boomer’s mouth and then this assessment, “Oh my god, I could crawl faster than that!”

SCTV’s Take on Perry Como

Perry Como was a crooner whose career spanned seven decades. He was known for his beautiful, smooth baritone voice. If you have never heard of him or heard his voice, it worth listening to his rendition of “And I Love You So.” Once it starts to play, you may remember it. His longevity inspired SCTV to create this interesting “tribute” to him. It is one of my favorite sketch’s from the SCTV archives. Eugene Levy, most recently of Schitt’s Creek fame, plays Como in this sketch.

The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 31 the Police Commissioner breaks the news to Midland City of Chickenman’s accident with the Chicken Dissolver.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep avoiding arguments with incivil, irascible socks…and the people in them.


Day 59 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

I love that we have so much wildlife on the golf course. Except for some of the human wildlife, none have ever been agressive.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under Velociraptor Threat


People send me things. No, I’m not saying you should send me things. I’m just saying that people do send me things. Whenever I possible I like to share them in this blog.

From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

One of the things sent to me by a reader was a link to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I love the tag line for the site: “Daily humor almost every day since 1998.” It makes me think of this tag line for this blog: “Daily attempts at humor that fall short every day and end up as drivel on your shirt.” Actually, that may be too long. Perhaps just, “Daily attempts at humor” or just “Drivel on your shirt.”

Seems I’ve distracted myself. Back on task…

The specific link I received was to a wonderfully clever piece written in response to Mr. Trump’s death defying act of re-opening the country despite warnings from public health officials and others who actually do know stuff. I’m not going to reprint it here to respect McSweeney’s copyright but I do encourage you to read the piece, “Sure, the Velociraptors are Still on the Loose, but that’s No Reason not to Reopen Jurassic Park.” There are no pictures but it does have popular culture references and dinosaurs. Enjoy!

Turkey 1, Golfer 0

Golf courses here in Maryland reopened a week ago. I am an avid golfer and I found the perfect golf course just three miles from my house. As a “senior citizen” I get to play all day for $12, which would be great if I really could play all day. In reality, I’m lucky if I can get out once or twice a week and then for just a couple of hours. I love the golf course because it is not a push-over. It is very hilly so it is a tough course to walk, but that’d good for me. The greenkeepers have a weird sense of humor that borders on sadistic as evidenced by their pin-placements on every darn green. And the golf course is also a protected area for wild life. In fact, it is a monarch butterfly sanctuary! How cool, huh?

My golf course is taking COVID-19 seriously from check in procedures to rules about masks and single cart riding, for those who ride carts.

I love that we have so much wildlife on the golf course. Except for some of the human wildlife, none have ever been agressive. Just beautiful! However, that is not the case everywhere as I was reminded by a video I saw on Instagram earlier this week. It was a video taken by a golfer’s “friend” who was observing him fighting with a turkey. The turkey had staked its ground near the golfer’s ball and refused to let the golfer get near it to take his next shot. You don’t need sound for the video, just watch it. In fact, I think the sound detracts from it…except at the end when you hear the turkey give out a victory gobble.

Not Quite Like Being Live

Yesterday I did a 90-minute webinar for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs. The webinar was for a group of grantees whose funding is ending on June 30. The topic was sustainability and OPA allowed me to “flex” it a bit to also discuss organizational resilience. There was, at the peak, about 147 people on the webinar which is a respectable number given it is a very specific audience.

I really enjoyed doing the webinar. Truth is, I am pretty comfortable being on camera and, in fact, I probably have just a little bit too much fun when I am. I also seem to talk a lot with my hands and make some pretty weird faces. Bottom line…I really loved doing it.

Winthrop Dijstra-Baum here. “Truth is” Tom is not only a bonehead he is also a wannabe stand up comedic and a lousy one at that. He hasn’t met an audience he didn’t like…as long as they were paying attention to him. Now THAT’s truth be told!

Excuse me just one moment…That’s enough, you hack! I’ve told you before, stay OUT of my blog unless I invite you in! My apologies for that interruption from Winthrop. Sorry for the yelling.

As I was saying, I really loved seeing the names of attendees popping up in the participant list. I was surprised at how many of the names I knew. Even more, I was honored to know that so many of the participants were also colleagues and friends…and they still showed up!

Zoom is great and I marvel at how much better and safer it has gotten in the few short weeks since everyone started using it in mid-March. Still, as good as it is, it isn’t the same as really being in the room with people. We will make it work though because it is the next best option we have.

Before I leave this topic in order to avoid another interruption by Winthrop, I just want to say how proud I am of all the people who have made the transition to video conferencing. Many (perhaps most?) are the same people who, in early March, would have sworn they would NEVER, EVER attend meetings or conduct business via video conferencing. You see what we can do when we try?

In the Current Absence of Baseball…Who’s on First?

Abbot and Costello gave us one of the very best comedy bits we’ll ever see. Enjoy and dream of peanuts and Cracker Jack!

The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 28 Chickenman tests the Chicken Missle. But what is the Chicken Missle? More importantly, what is the Chicken Missle Receiver?

In Reality…

Today Governor Hogan announced we’ll be entering into Phase 1 of re-opening here in Maryland. Everyone, that is, except for people who live in Montgomery and Prince George’s County where the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise.

We live in Prince George’s County. As a county we have more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than 29 states and territories. We have more deaths than approximately 25 states and territories. Doesn’t seem like much curve flattening going on here. So we will continue sheltering-in-place for a while yet. We are now at 59 days and counting. Do I hear 60? 65? How about 70? Gimme 75? No end in site. Lucky you! More drivel to come!

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and don’t mess with turkeys (actual or human).


Day 58 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

He’d select the craziest of the conspiracy theories it parodies and then pass that theory off as fact just for fun. Did I mention he loved to mess with people and pick fights?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 – Live to Blog from Atop a Harley-Davidson


Is there an unlimited supply of drivel? Apparently not because I’m still delivering it. Occasionally I wonder if I’m running low. Just when I think there is nothing else to write about my mind wanders and – boom! – there it is. So, dear friends, you have no reprieve. Let the drivel flow!

I Was a Biker Baby

I know very little about the family into which I was born. I know my dad was born in 1913 and my mom in 1916. I know little about their their lives prior to their marriage in 1935. I know even less about their lives between 1935 and 1954 when I came along. Apparently we weren’t big on talk story…or stories…or talking.

For me the history of my family begins in 1953 when my oldest sister married Boomer. Boomer is one of the most memorable and influential characters in my life for two reasons. First, he lived a far more interesting and dangerous life than most people I knew in my hometown. Second, he was a father figure to me. From as long as I can remember, I spent as much time, if not more, with him and my sister as I did with my parents. In fact, my oldest sister likes to remind me that she practically raised me and often says she tends to think of me more as her child than as her brother. Seems reasonable. Her daughter, my niece, is barely three years younger than me.

Boomer came roaring into my sister’s life on a motorcycle. He was a biker. Not a biker like you’d see in Born Losers, the movie that introduced the character of Billy Jack in 1969. His time and style was definitely early 1950’s, Marlon Brando, and The Wild One.

Boomer was the wild one in our lives. He even looked a little like Brando, especially in his biker outfit. Boomer was four years younger than Marlon Brando. Both were born and raised in Iowa (Boomer) or near Iowa (Brando). Brando was from Omaha, which would have been in Iowa if weren’t for the Missouri River. Oh, and they were both commonly known by only one name. Actually, “Boomer and Brando” might have made a good name for a pair of tag team wreslters.

After seeing me atop his hallowed bike dressed like this, Boomer made sure I was properly attired. Dog unknown.

I have a vague memory of having my own leather biker jacket, leather hat, and “motorcycle boots” – compliments of Boomer. I don’t remember what happened to the jacket and hat, but, man I loved those boots!

A less vague memory – probably because of the sheer terror of it – is riding the Harley with Boomer and my sister but inside a rear saddle bag. My niece was placed in the one on the other side, probably to make it easier to balance the bike. Boomer really liked to lean low into the corners which gave me a spectacular view of the ashphalt.

Boomer with his #9 dirt track “stock car,” circa 1959. I spent many Saturday nights in the summer with my sister at the dirt tracks in South East Iowa where I grew to love the sounds and smells of dirt track racing.

Even after Boomer got into dirt track racing, he loved and rode motorcylces. Of course, for him, there was only one – Harley-Davidson. He loved to “mess with” people and did it constantly. When Yamaha and Kawasaki motorcycles began to make their way onto American highways he loved to irritate their owners by imitating their bike’s high-pitched “ERRRING-ding-ding-ding” sound and laughing derisively at it. He often suggested, to the riders, that such a whiney, pathetic sound was indicative of their manhood. (Oh…did I mention he was also very good at picking fights?)

So, why am I writing about this drivel today? While the sheltering-in-place orders means automobile traffic has gotten less around our home, the motorcyle traffic has picked up, especially as the weather gets warmer. The sound of high pitched motorcycle engines seems to surround us at times. I can’t help but think of Boomer and his “ERRRING-ding-ding-ding” everytime I hear one.

If Boomer were still alive, I think he might be a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist. Even if he really wasn’t one, he’d love reading this Facebook posting I got from my friend Beth Howard today. He’d select the craziest of the conspiracy theories it parodies and then pass that theory off as fact just for fun. Did I mention he loved to mess with people and pick fights?

A Conversation: Leading In Crisis

In late March, as the Novel Coronavius pandemic was triggering a plethora of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, I began to collaborate with a group colleagues. In record time we produced blogs and videos to encourage, support, and, hopefully, guide nonprofit leaders through these difficult times. On Friday, May 8th we met via Zoom to film one of our conversations about leadership in the midst of crisis. That video is now ready and can be viewed below.

There may be some additional collaborative work that emerges. For this moment, though, I just want to say thanks to Forrest Alton and Cayci Banks of 1000 Feathers, Charles Weathers of The Weathers Group, and Patrick Jinks of The Jinks Perspective. Each entered this collaboration with spirits of giving, caring, and conviction that we needed to do all we could to be of service to nonprofits and their leaders right now. If you haven’t already done so, please stop by their websites to learn more about them and how they help nonprofits accomplish the greater good in their communities.

The video below is a conversation among the five of us, facilitated by Forrest Alton. It is about 50 minutes in length but it moves quickly. I hope you enjoy and find it useful. Please feel free to forward it on to others whom you think would benefit from it. You can also find this video, the previous ones, and links to other free resources in the special section, Work in the Time COVID-19, on this website.

The Adventures of Chickenman

In Episode 27 Chickenman stops a robbery, only to discover he may have also shattered a man’s dream and caused the world the opportunity to have an irving.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep wearing a helmet if you are a biker of any kind.


Day 57 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

All this to say, Dr. Swan is not a wacko. Still, flatulence as a carrier for Coronavirus…I don’t know…sounds like some weird idea Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum would come up with.

Monday, May 11, 2020 – Live to Blog in a Well Ventilated Room


There are so many things we don’t know about COVID-19…yet. Some things we are learning are quite serious. Other things…well, you be the judge.

Does Passing Gas Spread COVID-19?

Catching up on episodes of The Late Show with Stephen Cobert over the weekend I learned of some new scientific research on the spread of COVID-19 which could have serious implications for all of us who love beans. According to Cobert, scientists in Australia have been studying whether the Coronavirus can be spread through flatulence.

I wasn’t sure whether that was an actual thing or if it was part of the comedian’s schtick for the night. Turns out the New York Post reported on April 20th that Dr. Norman Swan said in his podcast that people may pass COVID-19 when they pass gas. When you navigate to the New York Post site in the link above, be sure to watch the brief video so you can hear Dr. Swan make his case personally.

Dr. Swan, it turns out, is nearly the counterpart in Australia to Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN here in the U.S. Gupta is a neurosurgeon in Atlanta who actually does practice medicine, performs surgery, and teaches at Emory University School of Medicine. If you’ve been following Dr. Gupta during the COVID-19 pandemic, his coverage and reporting has been some of the best. He is my “go to” guy on television for information when Drs. Fauci, Birx, and Redfield are nowhere in sight. Dr. Swan is a medical journalist though it does not appear he is currently practicing medicine.

All this to say, Dr. Swan is not a wacko. Still, flatulence as a carrier for COVID-19…I don’t know. Sounds like some weird idea Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum would come up with.

When I am filled with uncertainty I go to the source of all knowledge – Google, not Winthrop, to be clear. I asked Google to search for answers to a question worded exactly like this: “Does passing gas spread coronavirus?” Here’s some of what came up in the search:

USA Today: Fact check: We know about coughs and sneezes. But can coronavirus spread through farts?

Forbes: Can Farts Transmit COVID-19 Coronavirus? Here Is What Is Being Said

The Sun: Load of Guff? Doctor says coronavirus could be spreading through farts – but experts aren’t so sure

The Jarkarta Post: Smelly and dangerous? Scientist, doctors on whether farts transmit COVID-19

I hope you took a few minutes to look through some of those articles. Really, it was an education at so many levels and in so many ways.

So, does passing gas also pass the COVID-19? There was some research conducted and reported in the British Medical Journal back in 2001. It had to do with passing gas into petri dishes, really. I think you’ll have no problem sniffing out the article. Once you open the link above (or the next one) just scroll down the page and keep your eyes open for Hot Air? Ironically, the research presents a compelling case for why wearing a face mask helps prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Because, you see, in the case of flatulence, our pants are also masks. If you know people who really can’t understand the value of wearing a mask, share this article with them…seriously…maybe they’ll get it then.

Of course, these days, whenever we need a lift from the news, we just turn our ears and hearts to the music of “Frozen.” Enjoy!

The Adventures of Chickenman

Rhyme is running crampant in Midland City and the call goes out to the Fearless Foul for help.

In Reality…

We know far less about COVID-19 than we think we do. For months millions, if not billions, of dollars have been invested in learning its origins, how it spreads, and what it does to the human body. While we have learned much, there is still much we do not know.

Yes, we had some fun with the question of whether it COVID-19 can be spread through flatulence. The truth is nobody really knows for sure. Just when we think we have a handle on the virus, we learn something new. So, as ridiculous as it sounds, and as much fun as Cobert and other comedians have had with the topic, the most honest response is to check the box “Unknown” for right now.

In the meantime, there is some really disturbing news about COVID-19 that is being reported. On Sunday The Washington Post reported that doctors continue to discover new ways COVID-19 attacks the body.

Today, there is widespread recognition the novel coronavirus is far more unpredictable than a simple respiratory virus. Often it attacks the lungs, but it can also strike anywhere from the brain to the toes. Many doctors are focused on treating the inflammatory reactions it triggers and its capacity to cause blood clots, even as they struggle to help patients breathe.

Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post, Sunday, May 10, 2020

Despite the occasional therapeutic diversion into the absurb, let us never lose sight of the fact that this is a real disease that is killing many people. On February 29 the first COVID-19 death was reported in the United States. In the 72 days since there have been (up to this very minute) 80,238 more deaths.

That is 8,023 people per week; 1,114 per day; and 46 people per hour. Think about it…people in the U.S. are dying from COVID-19 at a rate nearing 1 per minute. And we still don’t know how and why it is they are dying. We though we knew…it was respiratory. But now…is it circulatory? Or it something else altogether?

This is why I believe we are in this for the long haul. We still know too little. For this reason, it still makes sense to do things that protect ourselves and others: keep physical distance, wash our hands, don’t touch our faces, cough into our elbows, and wear a mask anytime we leave the house. None of that seems so onerous does it if it means we help save lives?

Lessons from Mom Needed

I’ve been getting a few responses to the question I posed yesterday: What lessons have you heard from your mother in the past that are now good lessons for staying safe in a pandemic? You can respond by leaving a comment on this blog below, you can respond to the posting on LinkedIn or Facebook, or you can follow this link to a Mother’s Lessons for Being Safe in a Pandemic (a Google Form) where you can answer the question. Later this week I’ll share (anonymously) what I’m getting from folks.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and, remember, your pants are a mask for your hiney.


Day 56 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Wow! Over the past seven weeks several hundred folks have found this blog and now follow it through various media. I’m honored and stunned. I never knew there was a such an appetite for drivel!

Sunday, May 10, 2020 – Live to Blog with Three Mothers

Dolly, Clemencia, and Madison

Indeed! There are three mothers in our house! There is Clemencia and there are Dolly and Madison. Dolly and Madison were both breeders in a puppy mill before they rescued us. Of course, we also have good reason to believe Dolly is one of Madison’s pups. So, all of this to say, Happy Mother’s Day all around!

Lessons Our Mothers Taught Us On How to Survive a Pandemic

Our mom’s probably never imagined we’d be living through a pandemic (unless our mom was a germophobe conspiracy theorist). Think about it though. All those things our mom’s kept telling us not to do, or to stop doing, now come back to us as our best defense against the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.

  • Keep your hands to yourself!
  • Don’t touch anything! I said ANYTHING!
  • Eww! Stop picking your nose!
  • Do NOT wipe snot on your sister!
  • Stop spitting in your brother’s face!
  • Don’t pick that up! Leave it on the sidewalk! You don’t know where it’s been!
  • No, you cannot chew her used chewing gum!
  • Stop trying to belch in my face!
  • Don’t lick your hands!
  • Don’t lick her face!
  • Don’t spit at me!
  • Stay away from your brother!
  • Keep your mask on! We don’t want anyone to know who’s kid you are! (This one, of course, is specific to Halloween and Trick or Treat night.)
  • Will you PLEASE stop wrestling with each other!
  • Just stay away from him and he’ll stay away from you!

I asked Clemencia to review this list and offer additions. She read it thoughtfully, shook her head slowly, and gave me another “Que gueva!”

  • Me: What? Why? What do you mean “que gueva?”
  • Clemencia: Mi amor, these are from the mother of a son. Not a daughter!
  • Me: Wait a minute, do you mean to tell me that only sons would do these things?
  • Clemencia: You were a son and you are writing from that perspective. It just isn’t accurate for daughters…besides, honestly, you still do many of these things, mi amor.
  • Me: That sounds a bit…What? No I do not!…You sound a bit sexist for a progressive sociologist, don’t you think?
  • Clemencia: No. Not if its true, and it is. My sisters and I would never have done anything as gueva as these.
  • Me: Okay, fine. Then what are the kinds of things mothers would say to daughters?
  • Clemencia: That’s easy, mi amor. There is nothing.
  • Me: What do you mean there is nothing?
  • Clemencia: Mothers would not have to say any of those things to their daughters. We just don’t do them.
  • Me: Oh, come on! Give me a break! None of those things? Nada?
  • Clemencia: Si, nada.
  • Me: Why not?
  • Clemencia (smiling mischievously) : Because it is Mother’s Day and today we are perfect.

Okay, we need some help settling this. I’d like to know two things from you. First, are you a son or a daughter? Second, what lessons have you heard from your mother in the past that are now good lessons for staying safe in a pandemic? Follow this link to a Mother’s Lessons for Being Safe in a Pandemic (a Google Form) where you can answer the question. I’ll share responses, anonymously, in a few days.

The View from Jeff

I have always loved the Sunday newspaper comics! In honor of that, and because I don’t see this sheltering-in-place ending any time soon, and because I don’t want to over tax Jeff who is also in the midst of dissertation writing, I’m going to share his work each Sunday instead of everyday going forward. This will also be a way you can keep time during a this period when time seems to have been altered. You’ll know it is Sunday if there is a piece from Jeff Logan.

Jeff explains: We take our social distancing seriously in Canada!!

The Adventures of Chickenman

Episode 25: The Winged Warriors Mommy, the Maternal Marauder, calls the Police Commissioner to negotiate a new pay scale for the services of Chickenman.

Let’s Start the Week with Some Good News

Thank you…that’s it, just thanks.

I really don’t know when it happened but I’ve got several hundred folks now following this blog through a variety of media. I’m stunned and honored. I never knew there was a such an appetite for drivel! Of course, not everyone is reading the blog each day but even the daily readership is slowly rising. I don’t know what to say, really. Thank you for sharing the blog…and feel free to keep sharing it. Thank you for reading. Thank you for making me feel like I’m doing something that is helpful to others in a time when it is so easy to feel helpless.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and remember to listen to your mother!