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 www.charlemos.net. Now that you’ve met Clemencia through my blog, you need to meet her properly. I don’t know if you’ve noticed…but she always betters me in the stories I put in this blog. In fact, she is even better in real life. While I’m a doofus, she is a shining star!

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

A Sad Reality…

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

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

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


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

Tom

Day 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

#alonetogether

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.


“Unprecedented”

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.

Tom

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

#alonetogether

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.

Tom

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

#alonetogether

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).

Tom

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!

Tom

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

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

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

#alonetogether

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


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

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

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

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


What I think is Funny from The View from Jeff

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

What I Always Think Is Funny from Chickenman

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


But, in Reality…a bit of Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

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

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

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

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

When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

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

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

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

Author Unkown

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

Tom

Day 37 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Among the few things we can agree on these days, there is probably one: where we get our news matters. Never has this been more true than now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 – Live to Blog from a Quiet Place

#alonetogether

It’s not actually all that quiet here. Somebody is mowing and weed-whacking outside. It is amazing how well the sound carries when there is not much activity on the street below. In truth, it is a welcome sound because it says there are people in the world other than me, Clemencia, the Girls, Bert & Ernie, Beto & Enrique and that handsome jerk, Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum.


Feeling guilty about your children watching too much TV while sheltering-in-place? Just mute the TV and put on subtitles. BOOM! Now they are reading!


Where do you get your news?

Among the few things we can agree on these days, there is one: where we get our news matters. Never has this been more true than now.

Just so you know, I try to get as much of my news as possible from the ideological center. This is tougher than you might imagine because the “center” may be in the eye of the beholder. The Pew Research Center found there is a big difference among consumers of news (see image and click on it to go to the Pew Research article).

The center is a pretty small place these days but I do think it is important for all of us to do our best to find it. The University of Michigan Libarary has put together a webpage designed to help consumers find the center, “Fake News,” Lies and Propoganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction. This is a great starting point.

One of the resources the Michigan site led me to is Allsides. Allsides does something quite interesting and unique. It features the same story told from three perspectives: the left, the middle, and the right.

The Allsides folks assert their Allsides Media Bias Rating method is science-based and nonpartisan. It starts from this assumption: unbiased news does not exist, which seems a reasonable starting point. Though its rating system is not perfect, it is a good place to go to build one’s media and news literacy.

I usually depend upon three news sources. According to Allsides, one of those, BBC News, is considered by both conservatives and progressives as centrist. National Public Radio (NPR) and the PBS Newshour have been rated as almost centrist. However, among those who are most consistently conservative, all three are more distrusted than trusted, according to Allsides.

This is important information for you to have about me, especially when I go off the rails which I occasionally do. This way you know where I eventually come back to. It is also important because of the next segment.


In Reality…Are the Numbers Off?

I’ve been reading a story today posted on the National Public Radio (NPR) website about U.S. government Coronavirus projections. At best, it is concerning. At worst, it is terrifying.

I won’t recap the story here because you can read it for yourself at the link above. It is worth the five minutes it takes to read because it raises serious concerns about the projected number of cases and deaths in the United States from COVID-19. Based on documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, the article describes the internal projections made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These documents provide the most complete picture of the assumptions to date which have been informing the government’s response to COVID-19.

There are three things about the projections that grab me by the collar and shake me up.

  1. We have not been hearing much, of anything, about these. Instead, we’ve been hearing about projections and data from Johns Hopkins and IHME. In fact, the DHHS projections are not quite as severe as earlier ones that have been cited, those suggesting over 2 million people in the U.S. dead from the virus. However, they are far more severe than the bright and happy picture that Mr. Trump is trying to paint each day in the White House Coronavirus Updates.
  2. Now that they have become public, other data and modelling professionals have expressed fear that the DHHS projections are too optimistic. Yowzer! That is not what I want to hear! And, probably, neither do you!
  3. It appears we are “re-opening America” too soon and suggests our leaders know it. That doesn’t surprise me. It only confirms one of my nightmare scenarios.

Take a few minutes with the NPR article. Read it thoughtfully and consider it for yourself. For me, it will not help me sleep any better tonight.


More from Shirley Serban…Who, You Ask?

Shirley Serban is a school principal and freelance music writer from New Zealand who, like the rest of us, has nothing but time on her hands. Instead of writing drivel like me, she is producing some really fun and beautifully sung videos about hygiene in the age of COVID-19. You’ll remember I featured one of her videos already – the Sound of Music parody – but I’ve discovered she’s got a bunch of them! You can follow more of Shirley’s work on Facebook – @shirleyserban. Not only is she talented, but she is incredibly prolific as well. I wonder…does she even sleep? Here’s another parody of a great Neil Sedaka tune:


Chickenman – Episode 6

First, I just want to say thank you for indulging my love of Chickenman. I realize he is not for everyone. Every time Clemencia listens to one she looks at me with the most beautiful brown eyes of curiosity and deep sympathy…actually, more like pity…but I’ll go with the sympathy. Still, I persist in my appreciation and love this most hapless of super heroes.

In Episode 6, Benton Harbor, the White Winged Weekend Warrior Chickenman, races to the Police Commissioner’s office to demonstrate his ability to respond quickly in a crisis.


Stay safe. Be well. Keep calm. Keep washing your hands. Keep wearing your mask. And keep coming back, especially tomorrow to learn what is next.

Tom

Day 9 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – Live to Blog from Our Deck

It was a Sock Offensive close call. Last night I had just gotten ready for bed and put Bert (left) and Ernie (right) on the deck where, as I explained yesterday, they hide out from Clemencia until the next morning. We were watching the early local news (10:00 PM, WBAL, Baltimore) when she exclaimed, “What’s that noise?” and, before I could stop her, she jumped up and quick stepped to the deck. (BTW, the Quick Step is a ballroom dance that she and I do but not nearly as well as you will see in this clip. Her quick step to the deck was simply a fast walk.)

“Oh, great!” I thought to myself. “Bert and Ernie were probably chatting too loudly again and now they’re going to be discovered.” I know, socks don’t usually talk. But after a full week of being worn and unwashed, even socks begin to take on some new characteristics.

Dolly’s Clueless Innocent Face

Then she called out, “Tom, come out here!” (Oh crap! I’ve been caught!) I reluctantly got up from my easy chair and shuffled tentatively onto the deck wearing the most clueless innocent face I could muster…kind of like the one Dolly gives me when she has been up to something. When I arrived at the deck, as late as I possibly could from 10 feet away, here’s how the conversation went:

  • Clemencia (inquisitively): Did you hear that?
  • Me (sweetly): Hear what, mi amor, mi corazon, mi cielo?
  • Clemencia (surprised that I would answer with so many Spanish expressions of love): What?!? That noise, that’s what.
  • Me (still sweetly but innocently clueless): What noise?
  • Clemencia (with a bit of impatience): THAT noise…from down below!

Momentarily I panicked. I thought Bert or Ernie had fallen off the deck.

  • Me (anguished): Oh, no, it can’t be!
  • Clemencia (really looking puzzled now): What?!? What can’t be? We have animals around here and they make noises. I heard something growling or barking and, just now I thought I saw two animals of some kind go under that car.

Fortunately, out of the corner of my eye, I had spotted Bert and Ernie still safe where I had put them for the night. I strategically moved to the railing of the deck to position myself so Clemencia would have to turn her back to Bert and Ernie. I looked to where she had pointed.

  • Me (with a hint of relief): Probably a coyote.
  • Clemencia (with more than a hint of disbelief): A coyote?!? We live in the middle of a highly populated suburban area. What would a coyote be doing here?
  • Me (exerting my authority on all things animals because I grew up on a farm in Iowa, even though we didn’t raise coyotes): Well, you know, coyotes are not strangers to the suburbs. Besides, I’m sure I saw a coyote one day when I was on the walking path.
  • Clemencia (increasing disbelief): You SAW a coyote? On the walking path? Really? When did this happen?
  • Me (now trying to nonchalantly win the argument with a bit of grace): You know, a couple of years ago. I told you about it but it was a really busy time for you and I bet you just forgot.
  • Clemencia (a bit more disbelief): Really? YOU saw a coyote? On the walking path? OUR neighborhood walking path?
  • Me (now feeling slightly desperate and resorting to more Spanish): Si, mi amor. And I think we should get inside in case it is a coyote.
  • Clemencia (now highly suspicious): WE are in danger of being attacked by a coyote? On our FOURTH FLOOR CONDO DECK?!?
  • Me (slowly moving her to the door while she stared – well, kind of glared – at me, which was perfect because then she didn’t see Bert and Ernie): Si, mi corazon, si. They are known to be really good climbers and sometimes they even fly.
How Coyotes Climb Fences…and Sometimes Fall Off Them

Our night was pretty quiet after that. Clemencia spent the rest of the evening at the far end of the couch doing a lot of Googling on her phone. Occasionally she looked over at me, studied me for a moment, and then emitted a long, slow, “Hmmmmm…” Researchers are curious people, eh?

Clemencia’s birthday is in two days. After last night I better make a really good gluten free brownie birthday cake. And, since we can’t go out, maybe we can watch a short feature about flying coyotes.

I’m one of the very fortunate people who can work from home and my work continues despite COVID-19. Today I was in a Zoom conference call with social service providers in New York City. Even as they try to connect their clients with resources and services under shelter-in-place orders, they are also trying to shelter-in-place themselves, and be teachers, comforters, and playmates to their own children.

The social workers are trying to find food, diapers, and the basics of life that low-income families with infants and children need to survive – not hoard. As a result, they cannot always shelter in place with their own families. They have to find ways to help their clients, even if it means going out to use public transit to get to the homes of their clients.

We have a group of heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic which we readily recognize for the risks they take in doing their service: doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters, police, and even pharmacists, to name a few. Let’s not forget, though, there are other heroes who are equally at risk of infection – if not more so – because they are not a priority for protective gear or testing. These are social workers, child care providers, janitors, grocery store stockers and clerks, drug store personnel, and the people who provide the core services in our communities. They often make far less money than those we already laud as heroes. However, these overlooked heroes make it possible for me, and many of you, to shelter-in-place. It bothers me that we don’t also see these folks as heroes on the front line of COVID-19. With no disrespect to the heroes we already honor, let’s also honor these, and the many other unsung heroes. They all make possible for many of us to have the privilege of sheltering-in-place.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember the overlooked and unsung heroes among us.

Tom

Day 4 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Day 4 of COVID-19 Sheltering In Place. An update on the Sock Offensive and a magical gift. Come on in!

Thursday, March 19, 2020 – Live to blog from my kitchen table

Today’s blog is inspired by my friend Ned White, who has beaten me in every game of pool I’ve ever played with him. Not that it bothers me, though. Ned’s real claims to fame are that he is an author, crossword constructor (watch for his next one in the NY Times), traveler, cook, and husband to one of the most creative and decent of all persons in the world, Carla White. For a long time Ned wrote Journeys Over a Hot Stove, a travel, cooking, and occasionally opinion, blog for the Bangor Daily News in Maine. Be sure to follow the link to the blog’s archive and some wonderful recipes.

My friend Jeff Logan (Calgary, AB) is a humorist and artist. Maybe in another blog I’ll tell the whole story of how this image came to be. It doesn’t have anything to do with my love of oatmeal but my spiritual and religious practice of Quakerism. Still, it was a great place to use the picture. (Hint: Check out the Quaker Oats guy carefully.)

I’m writing from our kitchen today because I had to whip up another batch of my baked oatmeal. Approximately every two weeks I bake two square nine-inch pans of oatmeal. Each pan produces eight rectangles of oatmeal and I have one rectangle per day for breakfast (358 calories). I love oatmeal and always have. I think oatmeal is the perfect food but Clemencia disagrees. She has a strong belief in beans and rice as the perfect food. She argues that when they are eaten together they provide just the right balance of protein, nutrients, and, you know, healthy stuff. As a scientist, she has logic and facts on her side but that doesn’t matter. I have irrationality, personal preference, and pure stubbornness on mine. So when it came time to stock up for this extended stay in our home, what did we buy? Well…let’s see…it seems we have more beans and rice on hand than oatmeal.

Nonetheless, I’m still completely dedicated to oatmeal and my belief in it. Hey, I just remembered, I actually wrote a piece years ago about my love of and faith in oatmeal. I submitted it to National Public Radio when the “This I Believe” series was revived. I hoped it would get selected for broadcast. Let me see if I can find it…(clatter, bang, shuffle, shuffle, slam, honk-honk, thud)…here it is!

From Sometime in 2006: Addicted to the Magic of Oatmeal

I love oatmeal: plain (with a little a salt to bring out the flavor); not so plain (with a touch of vanilla and cinnamon); exotic (with walnuts, apples, craisins, lots of cinnamon, more than a touch of vanilla, and freshly ground nutmeg). In fact, I eat the exotic oatmeal everyday for breakfast. I love oatmeal made in the traditional manner on the stove top and I love it baked. By the way, I’ve got some great oatmeal recipes. Let me know if you want to give them a try.

Just to be clear, if I’m ever invited to have oatmeal at your house, be advised that I have at least three oatmeal limitations. First, I’m not a fan of microwaveable faux oatmeal. It contains so many chemicals that I always worry about a universe-ending explosion when cooking it. Second, my oatmeal has to be made using the “old fashioned” rolled oats, not the ground-to-a-pulp “quick” oats that have no substance, taste, or reason for existence. Third, I won’t eat oatmeal without salt. The salt (which is always listed as an optional ingredient on the box) is what makes the flavor “pop.” Warning: most restaurants and hotels with the complimentary breakfast buffets don’t put salt in their oatmeal. Such an inhumane action is probably not worthy of a boycott or class action lawsuit, but do be aware that you’ll need to salt your own oatmeal. However, it should be a criminal offense when they (and you know who you are!) try to pass off the faux oatmeal as “homemade” or “freshly made.”

Shortly after moving to the East Coast, I wrote of my passion for oatmeal in a piece that I submitted to National Public Radio’sThis I Believe” project. I now believe they didn’t care much for it because it was kindly rejected in that soft-spoken NPR way by someone with one of those delightfully inimitable NPR-type names, like Dharma Chung-Nunberg. Nonetheless, I liked the piece and I’m going to publish it here anyway. (Ha, take THAT, Dharma!) 

I believe in the magic of oatmeal. My palate prefers the old-fashioned, whole grained oatmeal, but the magic of oatmeal transcends its form.

As a child, a steaming bowl of oatmeal, generously trimmed with farm-fresh cream and mounds of sugar, seemed to warm the kitchen of our Iowa farmhouse. On frigid February mornings the oil-burning stove at the end of the kitchen strained against the toe-numbing cold. Yet the oatmeal warmed me inside-out and seemed to mystically radiate throughout the drafty house. On those mornings of school bus windows frosted-over for the entire ride into town, I still remained warm and satisfied until the noon bell signaled my daily race with my best friend Mark down the steps to the basement lunchroom.

As a young man and new father I introduced my baby boy to oatmeal’s magic. Having wrestled him into his high chair and locked him into place, I’d begin the morning breakfast routine. He’d strain against the unyielding high chair and vocalize his hunger. I’d mix his oatmeal with just enough water of just the right temperature. As the first spoonful of the oat concoction reached his lips he’d begin to emit a low “mmmm” sound. He would eat and coo, and I’d whisper to him of his goodness and strength and my love for him. For the next several minutes we were connected, father and son, by the warmth and satisfaction of oatmeal. These early bonding moments have been built upon through the years as he grew and became a man and I, well, became just an older man.

Today, for the first time in my life, I live far from both the farmhouse and the son. Preparing to move from Des Moines to Washington last December I gave away nearly every food item in my kitchen. Except my near new box of oatmeal. Upon arrival I unpacked it and shelved it in a cabinet where I couldn’t miss it. The following morning it became my first meal in my new home.

Middle age demands I eat oatmeal more for its physical benefits today and, sadly, trim it less generously now, using limited amounts of brown sugar and skim milk. As the morning’s first spoonful triggers my taste-buds, it also triggers my memory. It takes me back to winter mornings in which I remained warm despite the bitter cold. Even more it warms me with the memory of being a dad. It transports me back to a series of wonderful mornings when my son and I became a part of each other through the magic of oatmeal. I can close my eyes and recall the sounds, sights, smells, and smiles of those moments. When I open them I realize it is only a memory and, even more, realize it won’t happen again.

Or will it?  Who knows…in the latter stages of my life I may be the one who coos as my son lovingly feeds me my oatmeal. By then, cream and sugar really shouldn’t be a factor in my longevity…so be generous, my son.

Uh oh. I just realized my baked oatmeal recipe will have to wait until tomorrow because this blog is getting too long. My apologies to Ned and all.

Two quick things in closing…and yes, I will include the recipe tomorrow:

First, Sock Offensive news. There really isn’t anything new. Three days straight I have worn the same pair of socks and Clemencia has not noticed. I shower, get dressed, make hot water for tea and coffee, prepare my oatmeal, and, then, when she gets into the shower, I put on Bert (my left sock) and Ernie (right sock). It just seemed right to give them names since I’m spending so much time with them.

Second, really, there is magic in oatmeal. Friends of ours, a husband and wife, were diagnosed with cancers at the same time. They also discovered that oatmeal was one of the few things they could eat during chemo treatments. I started making them baked oatmeal and they fell in love with it. It not only nourished their bodies but their spirits. It was also great comfort food. Happily, their cancers are in remission now. The oatmeal probably didn’t heal them, but I hope the love it conveyed helped.

If I could make baked oatmeal for you during this time when we all need nourishment of spirit and comfort, I would. I can’t so I hope you will try the recipe and will feel the love I’m sending you. If you do, pass the recipe and love on.

One last thing…we had our first Virtual BYOB Coffee Break/Happy Hour today. Ten people showed up from California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Ontario, and Washington State. We talked, we laughed, we made new friends, and we broke the tension over COVID-19 for a little while. We’re doing it again next week, Thursday, March 26 at 5:00 PM. However, I’m changing the name from “BYOB” to “BYON” – “Bring Your Own Nose” because in these times, everyone needs to be wearing a silly clown nose just to evoke smiles from others. Today we shared the most memorable complement we’ve ever received. Next week our conversation starter will be “With the knowledge you have now, what would you have done differently?” The connection information is below my signature. Hope you can join us!

See you tomorrow…with the recipe. In the meantime, stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and think about someone you know who needs the magic of oatmeal and your love.

Tom

Day 3 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Join me for Day 3 of my COVID-19 sheltering-in-place journey. I’m coming to you live to blog from my recliner today. See you there!

March 18, 2020 – Live to Blog from My Recliner

Very early today I talked to a friend by phone…very early, sometime around 5:00 AM. The call went something like this:

  • Friend: “Tom?”
  • Me: “Yeah…what do you want? Are you okay? Do you know what time it is?”
  • Friend: “No, I don’t…hey, what time is it anyway?”
  • Me: “Never mind. You seem okay so what do you want?”
  • Friend: “I don’t know. I’m just…well, I’m a little confused. What day is this?”
  • Me: “What DAY is it? Am I ‘Time and Temperature’ now? What’s going on?”
  • Friend: “No, really, what day is it?”
  • Me: “It’s Wednesday, March 18th.”
  • Friend: “Ohhhhhhh…”
  • Me: “What do you mean, ‘Ohhhhhhh…’? What’s going on?”
  • Friend: “It’s just that…well…I mean…this is the first time in 30 years that I’ve been awake and sober before noon on the day after St. Paddy’s day. I didn’t realize what it was like…”
  • Me: “Ugh!” (Click)

Since I was up early, I decided to take Dolly and Madison (the Girls) on their first walk of the day. We were out early enough that we, thankfully, did not run into anybody. Today I noticed something quite different: the sound of silence. Not Simon & Garfunkle but real quiet. Quiet is very rare where we live. We live almost exactly half-way between downtown Baltimore and downtown Washington, DC, – a distance of 22 miles each way – about a mile off Interstate 95. We are in the approach/takeoff pattern for BWI airport and the flight path for helicopters carrying people between DC to Fort Meade. Typically I hear trucks and commuters on I-95 and commercial jets and helicopters flying over head. Today, I heard mostly silence and when I listened carefully, I could hear birds singing. It almost made me glad for having to shelter in place.

Dolly and me giving a warm social distance greeting to one of our neighbors.

It is Day 3 of this blog and Day 2 of my Sock Offensive. Clemencia did not see me put yesterday’s socks back on this morning. It was pretty easy, actually. I just waited until she was in the shower and – TA DA! – I got them on. Victory! YES!

After work today I took the Girls out for another walk. It was quite nice outside though a little cool. We had a happy experience and even ran into some neighbors whom we greeted appropriately.

Fun Fact: I have eaten baked oatmeal nearly every morning for breakfast for nearly 10 years.

According to Me

Actually, I’m nearly out of baked oatmeal and it is time to make some more. I’ll probably do it tomorrow…if I think of it. Also, if I think of it, I’ll post my baked oatmeal recipe. I think you’ll like it.

My good friend and colleague, Forrest Alton, president of 1000 Feathers, has always impressed me with his clear-headed, pragmatic thinking. A couple of days ago, just as offices and stores were beginning to shut down and move employees to remote work, he posted this blog, We Get to Work from Home…Now What? Take a few minutes to check it out. I loved his suggestions and I think you will as well.

Finally, I got a response to yesterday’s blog from a long-time friend that snapped me back to our new reality. She told me that members of her extended family had contracted coronavirus. Shortly after that I heard from a client who has an employee with the virus. Then I heard from a third friend and colleague that a neighbor had contracted it too. These reports were not all from within a “cluster” of the virus, such as Washington State or New York City. They were from three very different and distant parts of the country. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would know someone who had the virus or was close to someone who had it. If the projections are accurate, we will all know someone who has contracted COVID-19…soon. It isn’t too early for us to be thinking about how we will respond with empathy and love, and how we can still provide support but from a distance.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, and keep washing your hands. Physically avoid everyone and still find a way to be connected to your brothers and sisters on this journey with you. We’re all in this together, together we are stronger, and together we’ll get through it.

Tom