Schiff: Intel Committee to probe Hatboro bakers.

BREAKING NEWS: House Intel Committee Chair, Adam Schiff, announced an investigation into possible Russian agents, allegedly posing as confectioneers at Lechol’s Bakery in HATBORO, PA, for attempting to influence the American Election. The plot, uncovered by the American Bakers Association, allegedly involved the baking of 2020 Presidential Election cookies under the names BIDEN and TRUMP.

Schiff claimed that “anonymous baker people” told him that Eric Trump attempted to meet secretly with the Russian bakers this week. When Trump’s visit to Lechol’s Bakery was uncovered, witnesses allege Eric Trump acted as though he had simply stumbled upon the bakery and then threw rock-hard cookies at passers-by to distract attention.

Four people were injured in Eric Trump’s attack. Three had their feelings hurt, and one was struck in the eye by a ricocheting jimmie. Others on the scene accused Trump of abusing the working class by providing incredibly delicious cookies without a proper milky beverage.

First responders claimed it was the worst bakery attack they ever saw.

Schiff also claimed to have called Lechol’s Bakery during the baking process and heard Al Stewart’s “Road to Moscow” playing in the background. AOC called cooking baking “a selfish act of privilege contributing to the death of the planet”.

Nancy Pelosi called for impeachment proceedings to be authorized.

The electoral cookie count was allegedly manipulated by adding beet juice, borscht, and pumpkin spice to the Biden cookie mix. An attempt by this reporter to confront the Russian co-conspirators was ended by a well-aimed vatrushka.

No explanation was provided as to why anyone would have wanted a Biden cookie in the first place.

Eric Trump seconds before his heinous cookie attack.

Understanding Democrats on Taxes in an Election Year

Tax issues and positions are always used as rallying calls by both Liberals and Conservatives in the propaganda wars leading up to important elections. Taxes, the programs they would support, and who will make tax policy are usually central themes of both Democrat and Republican voter outreach.

I am no tax expert, not a financial analyst or consultant. But I know how much in taxes I pay … to Uncle Sam, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Horsham Township, and the City of Philadelphia (for the “pleasure” of using roughly a mile-and-a-half of city roads twice-a-day in The Good Old Days, when we could actually go into work).

To help those who may have difficulty grasping the reality of election year tax claims of Democrats, this post will discuss my personal viewpoints on …

  1. Raising taxes “only on the Wealthy“.
  2. President Trump‘s tax record

Raising Taxes “only on the Wealthy”

Democrats, led by presidential candidate Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, love to tell us how The Rich are not paying their fair share in taxes. They have no qualms claiming that taxing The Rich – and The Rich ONLY – will pay for their heavily-loaded Santa’s sleigh of social and environmental programs.

Here are the most expensive programs Democrats will tell you “taxing The Rich” would pay for:

  • Medicare For All
  • Free college education and the absolution of current college debt
  • Green New Deal

Now let’s look at the estimated costs for just those programs:

  • Medicare For All – $3.2 trillion per year (High estimate taken from the Bernie Sanders model)
  • Free college education – $75 billion per year add in one-time bill for $1.5 billion student-debt forgiveness
  • Green New Deal – $500 billion per year (A very conservative estimate, on which I place a very low level of confidence, used here just for argument simplicity.)

For those not keeping score, that’s a whopping $3.8 TRILLION dollars a year! Don’t forget that $1.5 billion in student loan forgiveness!

That’s a hefty tax bill. But The Rich will pay for it all, right?

Let’s see …

The Biden Plan calls for taxing The Rich only (i.e. those individuals and Corporations with revenues over $400,000 per year). The estimated additional revenue for such a change would be $3.67 billion per year.

That’s Billion with a B, not Trillion with a T! And I will add, the linked article supports the Biden-Harris claim that no one under the $400,000 annual salary/revenue will see increased taxes!

How is such a thing possible?

It’s not … quite obviously. Well, maybe if they are using Common Core mathematics.

Even if Democrats were to drastically cut the Department of Defense budget ($800 billion a year) and abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE … $7.6 billion per year), potential financing via US Budget cuts would NEVER get close to the annual $3.8 trillion Liberal Wish List Price Tag!

It doesn’t take a member of MENSA to figure out where the responsibility of the rest of the price tag falls. That is, YOU and ME!

The kicker? The inevitable increase in Taxes is only part of the nightmare!

Consider these points:

  • Corporations are responsible to Share Holders, and Share Holders like Profits! Where do you think Corporations are going to look to pay for their dramatically increasing tax burdens? Answer: Higher prices to Consumers (That is, YOU and ME!)
  • Remember that Democrats are huge proponents of raising the Minimum Wage across the Nation! Who gets to pay the costs of those increases to wages? Answer: Higher prices to Consumers (That is … Well, hopefully you get the message by now)
  • Democrats have also been strongly opposed to the Trump Tax Cuts, which widely fueled the pre-COVID economic resurgence. Certainly, add the loss of those tax cuts to your family’s budget.
  • Don’t think your State and Local taxes will be affected? If goods and services become more expensive to Mr. & Mrs. Consumer, they were certainly be more costly to our Governments! Who pays that? You know the answer!

Now my arguments may not be perfect. I may have missed a few items that might close the Cost-Revenue gap a bit; and I welcome any viewpoints that might provide a more accurate picture. I would be shocked if anyone can convince me that Democrats can sufficiently close that gap to the point where they can prove that the majority of The Non-Rich will not pay a lot in higher taxes if Democrats control all the levels of Government!

Prove me wrong!

President Trump does not pay his Taxes

No one likes paying more in taxes. Liberals will say they have no problem with paying higher taxes, but I would call bull shyte on such a claim. It goes against Human Nature!

Taxes are a part of Life. They pay for a lot of necessary and critical services. We all get that. But there is a fine line between reasonable tax burdens and economy-strangling tax debt. Just look at how the Trump Tax Reductions lit a fire under the pre-COVID U.S. Economy!

I doubt anyone looks at their annual tax returns and wonders, “Gee, how could I pay MORE to help the (federal, state, local) Government?” Yes, it goes against Human Nature!

I always look to lower my tax burden any way I can within The Rules provided.

In fact, I plan to submit a hefty Tax Rebate request to the good City of Philadelphia to reclaim the wage taxes I paid there while not actually working within the City (COVID-19 wise). The City in past years allowed such claims when Wage Tax Payers spend working hours outside the city (i.e. when traveling for work, normal pre-COVID work-from-home, conferences/training outside Philly, etc.

So, when Donald Trump looks to reduce his immense tax burdens, which he – and his corporations – will have already paid on levels and in amounts Working People could hardly imagine, is he really doing anything wrong?

Note that not a single report suggests The President broke any tax laws, which certainly would have been revealed well before he ran for president the first time. (BTW … This massive IRS breach of private, personal information will be found illegal, and should rightfully concern every U.S. Tax Payer!) Even the lengthy, pre-informed, pre-planned New York Times article specifically states no tax laws were broken.

So what’s all the hubbub about, bud?

OMG! A billionaire looked to avoid paying taxes?!? What is the World coming to?!? Get out the rail, tar, and feathers!!

Please …

This is all about the attempt by Democrats to force a wedge between a very smart business man/President and Working Families, who also do everything they can – year-after-year – to reduce their Tax bite …

Don’t be fooled.

Consider the following:

  • In 2005 alone Donald Trump paid $38 million in taxes. That’s just one year in the life of a man largely responsible for hundreds of millions in real estate and casino developments, as well as his activity in television!
  • In 1995, Trump declared a loss of almost $916 million, largely the result of disastrous business losses in the early ’90s.

Some will look at that report and claim it proves Trump was no business genius. But there is always immense risk involved when conducting businesses all over the world in the financial stratosphere in which DJT operated. Huge losses and bankruptcies are part of the landscape where not all factors are under the control of any business.

So where does this leave us? If you have a problem with Citizen Trump paying only $750 in income taxes, blame the Tax Code, created with the help of many a rich Democrat.

To what extent should any U.S Tax Payer willfully pay more in Taxes than legally required? Trick question, I hope!

When Democrats tell you “only the Wealthy will pay more in taxes”, are they being honest? When “the rich and corporations” pass along the costs of additional tax burdens to their customers, are you OK with paying what is essentially an indirect tax?

The math doesn’t lie when it comes The Cost of Liberal Wishes and Dreams. So who is really trying to fool whom?

The Shame in Where We’re Headed

hqdefault

Shelby Foote

Today I finished the three volume Shelby Foote classic “The Civil War: A Narrative“, a years in the making goal developed from my mid-life interest in the American nation’s biggest challenge to defining its character and identity.  If one period can be recognized as the foundation for all the United States accomplished in the decades to follow, through two World Wars; a global depression; its period of international leadership following WWII; and the social upheavals still occurring to this day, it would be the sense of Nation that resulted through the challenges of The Civil War.

The reasons why the Civil War was necessary are readily apparent.  The men, who created the country from a collection of separate colonies and wrote our Constitution, were inherently human.  Which is to say, they were imperfect and eminently fallible.  Yes, they made mistakes … huge mistakes.  They made a terrible compromise in the name of creating a constitutional republic.

They allowed the possession of other human beings as property to hold the Southern states of the post-Revolution, pre-Constitution confederation.  And that was just their biggest mistake.  Early American politics were complicated, tenuous, and riddled with figurative minefields.  When examined through the lenses of history, humanity, and modern social consciousness, a lot of modern, current day Americans fail to grasp what the expression “grand experiment” means.

150408_LeeBookReview

It’s important to appreciate the extent to which these early American leaders knew they were imperfect and eminently fallible.  For that reason, they recognized that The People needed to be protected from the vagaries of Government, which in all practical matters is motivated and directed by imperfect and eminently fallible men.  The U.S. Constitution protected the States from the power and the potential for abuse from the National Government.

The Grand Experiment – as described by non-slave holder Alexander Hamilton (pre-Broadway version) – was hardly intended to be THE perfect solution to the many problems and challenges those early American leaders faced in creating a new nation.  The necessity of amending The Constitution almost immediately (i.e. two years after USC ratification) in 10 ways – The Bill of Rights – was proof that blind spots had existed when the US Constitution was written.  The Rights of the Individual – only the white male ones at the time – had to be protected as well from infringements by all levels of Government.

The Civil War was the inevitable solution for the most egregious shortcoming of those Founding Fathers.  Though not all were slaveholders, and an argument could be made that many who did opposed it as an acceptable practice, they were an insufficient number inadequately strong – in influence and political power – to exclude it.

All out war in the end was the only remedy.  And yet, slavery was not the ONLY reason the Civil War was fought.  It was however the BIGGEST reason and the impenetrable barrier to a peaceful solution to several issues!

1-Q4Vx5EgE9OyvIRPEbO7NPA

Foote’s “The Civil War: Epilogue” totaled the casualties of setting right the biggest mistake of The Founders:  640,000 Union, 450,000 Confederate casualties.  200,000 total killed in battle; 365,000 total dead for the Union; 256,000 dead Confederates when you include those who died from disease, unrelated crimes, drowning, suicide, etc.  That’s 620,000 military dead from all causes.  Add in another 470,000 wounded (total both sides) to almost reach 1.1 million total war-related casualties.  And that does not include civilian losses.

I would normally write a good bit more about the book in a blog, but my reading of the third and last volume coincided with the egregious death of George Floyd and the latest rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) to such events.  The Floyd death and calls for justice were traumatic enough and certainly understandable.

But then the movement morphed.

FRI.00_03_18_17.Still001

It morphed first into violence and vandalism.  Then avowed anarchist usurped a theretofore justifiable outrage.  It became more about hatred for and retaliation against law enforcement officers; disdain for modern social constructs and government; and a desire to gut American society in favor of certain not-so-grand experiments that have NEVER proved successful in past attempts (e.g. socialism, anarchy, elimination of law enforcement, the overthrow of systems of justice).

As one who admires our history with all its faults, mistakes, and injustices, it’s maddening to see the destruction of monuments to it.  Yes, you can understand the desire of many who want to tear down statues to slave holders; their sympathizers; and their military protectors … as much as I might disagree.  Such reactions are an insult to the our history, warts and all.

If humans cannot achieve perfection, what they create can never be perfect.  Change will ultimately be necessary; and some of that change will be bloody, violent, destructive. How does one learn from history, and prevent the reoccurrence of destructive change, by removing all monuments and remembrances?  How does that help to prevent history’s repetitive inclinations?

Foote’s epilogue contains a quote that appears surprisingly pertinent to recent events. Anaximander, an ancient Greek philosopher, once stated:

“It is necessary that things should pass away into that from which they are born.  For things must pay one another the penalty and compensation for the injustice according to the ordinance of time.”

Ea7Y0hwUYAAFdg7

U.S. Grant helped end the Confederacy threat

No stretch of consciousness should dismiss such a concept.  At some point all our acts will be subject to human judgment through the prism of time and the evolution of Man’s thinking as expressed through social mores and their behavioral expression.  Certainly slavery would fit that suggestion.  Judgment of it as one of the bleakest points in the American Experiment is undisputed.  Those that fought to preserve it as tradition, economic essential, or evolutionary dictate paid the physical price 160 years ago.  But we cannot ignore that the emotional scars and even some social behaviors (i.e. racism) remain to this day.

So I can see why removing Confederate statuary would be a comfort to some … or even a political/social imperative.  But there should be a process resulting from consensus and protected by local government for their removal, relocation, or destruction, providing no lesson for history continues to exist.

“… Providing no lesson for history continues to exist” is the crucial thought.  Can we honestly say American society is beyond its racist past?  Are there not still lessons to be learned about what transpired 160 years ago?  How would current and future generations learn from invisible legacy, if all reminders are swept from view?

There’s a difference in suggesting the statue of Bedford Forest, who was a prominent member of the Ku Klux Klan, should be removed for its obvious racist symbolism; but quite another to suggest the statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, or James Longstreet offer nothing of value in the way of historical or military lessons.  What do we learn from the past, if we erase all physical evidence of its existence?

In this the anarchist, anti-American factions betrayed themselves.  They went far beyond righting the wrongs of racial suppression.  When you cannot tell the difference – or more accurately don’t care – between Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant or Abraham Lincoln, you allow us to glimpse the true purpose of your “protest”.

800

Freedman’s Memorial:  On Lincoln’s first visit to Richmond after its fall in the Civil War, he told former slaves, who bent knees to pay homage to him, to stand up; to kneel before no man; and to kneel only before God.  It was paid for entirely by former slaves!

It’s easier to understand the visceral reaction of the black community to the death of Floyd.  But in essence that movement was usurped by those with broader motivations as we have seen before.  There is no interest there in making America a better example to the world at large.  They simply want America to die with no regard for all the good the country has accomplished since 1776.

This happens not because they cannot grasp the inherent fallibility of 18th century man or credit the foresight they displayed by even attempting such a Grand Experiment!  They simply hate the fact that the system created 230 years ago requires they appeal to The People to make a difference.  Not just some people, but all The People.  They hate that they have to work hard to convince us that their insight is superior, let alone whether such insight offers a better world.

They don’t want to work for it.  They want to convince you to destroy it.  They want to be able to convince you without offering even the remotest idea of what those changes would look like.

For those reasons alone, you know their ideas are bankrupt!

 

 

 

 

My Corona … Day 80: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Air Force

Dear U.S. Air Force:t

At times like these that I have to question the readiness, judgment, and sobriety of our National defense forces!  Though true at such dark times, many individuals will be looking for fresh starts, even seismic shifts in their life paradigm, it appears the USAF has lost all recruiting perspective.

Either that or you have really hit rock bottom in regards to recruit qualifications for chaplaincy services!

IMG_2482

I am not sure what troubles me more.  Is it that you actually send a recruiting offer to a 64-year-old civilian U.S. Navy (nonetheless) employee with 40 years of service?  Or is it the obvious desperation your Chaplain program appears to be in?

Me? A chaplain?

Mark my words, from here on out I will be side-eyed leery of any U.S. Air Force chaplains I might run across after this!

Yours truly,

Cranky Man

 

Memorial Day Remembrances

My Corona … Day 77: A Memorial Day tribute

I am guilty of complaining quite a bit lately about this interminable COVID-19 shutdown.  But such will not be the case on Day 77, as we enjoy a COVID19-stunted holiday celebration. At times like these, it is important to understand what real suffering and sacrifice looks like in the wake of some of the darkest times in our history.

Remember the following and all the rest of these Heroes for the last full measure they have given and what their loved ones have gone through and endured for decades.

image

Charles H. Grubb

Charles H. Grubb from War Eagle, West Virginia looked like a Boy Scout, not so much the soldier he was in his U.S. Army uniform.

Attribution: Aaron Kidd, Stars and Stripes(.com)

“Grubb — who served with Company M, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division — was declared dead a few months later, and his body was never found.

“The Chosin battle of Nov. 27-Dec. 13, 1950, pitted some 30,000 U.S.-led troops against a Chinese force of about 120,000 trying to prevent the allies from pushing north in a bid to unify the Korean Peninsula. Thousands were killed on both sides as troops engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Others perished from the bitter weather.

“Smith — who served with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division — was reported missing Nov. 25, 1950, after his unit was attacked near Kujang-dong, North Korea. He died the following January at a temporary prisoner-of-war camp near Pukchin-Tarigol, according to several Americans who survived the war.

“In July 2018 — weeks after President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the first time in Singapore — the North handed over the 55 boxes purported to contain the remains of U.S. service members from the war. They were then flown to DPAA’s lab in Honolulu for identification.”

Grubb’s younger sister, Glenda Hatcher, waited 69 years for word of her brother’s fate.  Grubb’s mother passed away in 2001, never knowing what happened to her son.  Charles H. Grubb is now interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

10404121_10152078664097823_8863390345067128923_n

A somewhat uplifting storyline accompanied the return of COL Roy J. Knight, Jr., of Milsap, Texas.  In November 2019, 52 years after being declared MIA, then KIA when he was shot down over Laos, his remains were brought home.  His son, Bryan Knight had the honor of piloting the Southwest Airlines flight ( < Click on link for details.) that brought his father back to Texas.  He had last seen his father in January 1967, just four months before his loss over hostile territory.  Bryan was only five years old.

pilot-bryan-roy-knight

COL Roy A. Knight, Jr. in front of his A1-E Skyraider

In July 2019, the remains of 20 U.S. Marines, who lost their lives on the island of Tarawa during the island-hopping Pacific campaign of World War II, were returned to the United States after their makeshift graves were located.

Attribution: David Vergun, US Department of Defense website

“The battle of Tarawa took place from Nov. 20 to 23, 1943, on the heavily fortified island of Betio, which was held by 4,500 Japanese troops. More than 18,000 Marines and sailors were sent to secure the island. When the battle finally ended, more than 1,000 U.S. troops had been killed.

“Marines killed in action were buried where they fell or were buried in a large trench built during and after the battle. These graves were typically marked with improvised markers, such as crosses made from sticks or an upturned rifle. Grave sites ranged in size from single isolated burials to large trench burials of more than 100 individuals, according to DPAA officials.

“More than 3,000 Japanese soldiers were killed on the island, as well as an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers. These men were buried where they fell, or in bomb craters and existing trenches. Their remains are sometimes commingled with U.S. casualties, DPAA officials said.

“Immediately after the final day of battle, landing troops were replaced by Navy construction battalions, known as “SeaBees,” who had little knowledge of the burial locations.

“The Seabees engaged in construction projects requiring the movement or rearrangement of known burials or grave markers. Later recovery efforts found that multiple grave markers were relocated without moving the burials they marked. No record of these movements has been found, officials said, and it’s likely none was kept.”

190717-M-PO745-2033C

Repatriation ceremony for the Tarawa 20

My heart wants to believe their families knew they were killed-in-action; knew where it happened; knew where in general they were laid to rest.  But waiting so long for the ability to say goodbye and assuage their grief sounds marginally better than not knowing anything for decades and yearning for their physical return.

Closure for those still living is a comforting thought.  But you must empathize with those relatives … mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters … who passed away before their loved ones were returned home.  Remember those loved ones – still waiting or now gone – when commemorating those brave American souls who were lost in far flung battles.

american-flag-1

 

My Corona … Day 55: Enough already!

Question:  If we – The American Public – reach consensus in acknowledging that Corporate America is a). “In this together …” with us; b). Are doing everything they can to recognize our “Heroes on the Home Front“; and c) Are willing to do “whatever is necessary” to serve our needs during the COVID-19 crisis, can we dispense with the endless commercials “celebrating” our “shared experiences” in being incredibly annoyed and monumentally bored?!? 

Please!?!

At this point, what Corona America needs right now is relief from the endless Corporate Corona Imaging efforts!

Coronavirus_illustration

On-line image searches suggest the COVID-19 virus comes in an assortment of color patterns. Personally, I like this one best!

So how do I really feel about the COVID-19 crisis?

Like a lot of us, I am pretty fed up with the restrictions, the draconian measures and – as you can tell from the above – flat out getting annoyed with the perpetual message that “Golly gee … Ain’t this a wonderful Community-building opportunity?!?”

As for the crisis itself, I do not presume to know more than scientists and medical experts.  However, based on 64 years experience on this planet, I can offer several rational checks on the emotional responses and the measures taken to protect us Everyone.

My biggest issue here is the premise that ALL people need protecting.  That could be either a pragmatic, experience-based point-of-view or a cynical, sick-of-this-crap response. You decide.

The following might help …

  • Never in my life has anything even remotely similar occurred, where everyday normal life functions have been curtailed by quarantining the entire populace.
  • Swine flu, avian flu, H1N1, Asian flu (Was not considered “racist” at the time.), Hong Kong flu (ditto) never resulted in responses this restrictive and severe.
  • Is it really statistically possible that there has not been a similarly threatening flu or virus flying around the globe since the 1918 Spanish flu. (Something I really have a very difficult time accepting!)
  • People die of flu-type and viral illnesses every year.
  • In general, it’s the same people, who are most likely to die, regardless of the viral type or its virility.  The elderly, the very young, those with preexisting illnesses are always the most susceptible.
  • There are no proven effective measures at stopping a potent flu or virus from spreading, not locally, nationally, or globally.

Now here’s where my particular brand of cynical pragmatism might get me in trouble with some people.

My salute to dairy farmers on the front line.

Exactly what has been gained by shutting down society; crippling economies; and threatening the very subsistence (e.g. meat packaging) of our healthy population? We still have thousands of the elderly dying from COVID-19, despite the measures taken to protect them. In some cases, the very decisions made by government authorities under the powers bestowed upon them under COVID-19 protocols killed more of the institution-bound elderly!

From the perspective of societal evolution, it’s is always the old, the infirm, the weak, and the very young who are most likely to succumb to such health threats. Does that change in any way by forcing everyone into isolation?

And what of the biology of the healthy? We know that the human immune system works to evolve by creating antibodies when new biological threats present themselves. How is this being affected through attempts to keep everyone from being exposed? How does such an approach help should – as some predict – this virus recycles itself as it circles the globe?

Sweden has taken a very different approach to the corona virus, where the social, economic, and vulnerability issues appear more balanced, based on risk assessments and folkvett, a cultural concept that roughly translates to “good manners”, that – colloquially – can be expressed as “act like an ******* adult”. And although some express caution or even open derision at Sweden’s strategy, their objections are largely based on the lack of sufficient statistical data to support the strategy and emotional responses to the threat to vulnerable populations.

Meanwhile, in Sweden …

In my humble opinion, if you take Emotion out of the risk assessment equation, the Swedish example sounds like a much more pragmatic approach. And let’s recall how often Sweden is elevated as a shining example of sound socialist healthcare management! If such is the case, why do efforts to behave closer to the Swedish model meet so much resistance, particularly in our more liberal states?

Risk, fear and emotion will be the biggest obstacles as we emerge from quarantine. My biggest fear – given how risk-adverse politicians are – is the potential for monumentally slow and tentative decisions on how best to get back to normal (whatever “normal” will look like). Many politicians – in their interests to remain employed as public servants benefactors – may very well approach every COVID-19 decision as a three-sided puzzle (please everyone, risk nothing, minimize emotional responses).

 

img_0320Under such circumstances, a productive and fair balancing act is not impossible. Attempting to avoid any and all losses, which are inevitable, will retard the recovery and accomplish nothing more than prolonging the pain for those for whom normal life means survival (hands-on, in-person workers; small businesses; retail, bar and food employees; personal service providers; etc.)

An interesting example of sensationalizing COVID-19 statistics popped up this morning on Lehigh Valley Live.  The article highlighting a new model forecasting “PA coronavirus deaths to TRIPLE …“!

What the authors neglected to leave out is Perspective, in favor of attempts at triggering Emotion and Fear.  As in … If – as this model suggests – Pennsylvania deaths were to increase to 8600, the overall death-per-capita in Pennsylvania (pop. 12.7 million) would be 0.068%.

Those whose health is compromised or threatened we must continue to protect, but frankly, that should have been the primary focus all along, not necessarily a total societal shutdown. It’s always the duty of the healthy to be mindful of the vulnerable with whom they will have contact (family members, friends, coworkers, etc.). COVID-19 did not change what is – should be – a modicum of human decency.

Put another way, we should prudently reopen the country, especially in less dense population areas (e.g. suburban communities) and demand that people act like adults! Now THAT would be an effective use endless Corporate Corona messaging!

And if this proves too difficult a concept for some to grasp, then maybe Society will benefit from their absence on the evolutionary ladder!

My Corona … Day 47**

** I think … At this point I am having a hard time just keeping track of what day of the week it is.

Tuesday, April 28 was an exciting Day 47.  The combined flights of U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds conducted coordinated America Strong demonstrations over New York City, northern New Jersey, and the Philadelphia region to salute COVID-19 healthcare workers.

As a dutiful patriot, this was an opportunity to share with those unable to witness the spectacle first-hand, using my drone’s live-broadcasting capability.  We get very few opportunities to see and record our military’s precision and power on display, especially from the front yard.

94966959_10219241663725593_7566298062633566208_n

Photo Credit: James Beaver

But as Murphy’s Law goes, several aspects of the operation went awry. This due largely to the Navy and Air Force’s inability to be predictable, practical, and cooperative!

Sons of bitches …

Anywho … An intricately laid plan was dreamed up roughly an hour before the scheduled flight down the I-95 corridor towards Center City Philadelphia, then out north towards Doylestown.  A Cranky Man aficionado, located to the northeast of Drone Central in the Langhorne area, was an obliging volunteer spotter. Far enough north – I believed – to give plenty of warning as the DoD’s Finest passed to the east from NYC.  By either sight or sound, I should have sufficient notice to get Little Bird off the ground and into position.

images-1But no … no, not at all …

Our Heroes of the Flight Line evaded my spotter through stealth and a general reluctance to cooperate. Our frustrated spotter claiming to have neither seen or heard our elusive subjects. (Frankly, I think she wasn’t really paying attention.). After waiting five minutes past the expected FOP (Forward Observation Post) alert, I launched Little Bird and took it to its maximum altitude (400 ft).

Expecting – at best – to catch a glimpse of the 12-plane formation zipping down the I-95 corridor somewhere in the vicinity of NE Philly, I trained the drone to the east.  In assuming the flight would be traveling high enough, but likely be too far for Little Bird’s camera to pick them up, Plan B was to look for them heading north up Rt. 611.  The drone’s dedicated WIFI allows me to link my personal devices with the drone camera.  On my iPhone, I could see Center City as a slight rise of tall buildings well out to the southeast.

philly-flightpathAfter 5-10 minutes of fruitless searching a neighbor announced that they were already flying out over West Philly; and I had the sinking feeling that my op was lagging far behind the action.  Plan B was executed, and I scanned the skies to my immediate south, hoping to catch the flight on what I was assumed to be a direct line from Philly towards Doylestown.

Of course this was where the Greatest Military on the Face of the Earth decided to prove –  once again – their complete disregard for best laid plans.

Perhaps I missed an important tidbit of information, difficult as that may be as its a 1000-acre property no more than a 1/4 mile from my house.  Somehow I never considered the potential for a flyover of the largely abandoned Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove.  Also missed was the only military presence at JRB Willow Grove was an Air Force drone facility (oddly enough) and that the Thunderbirds were – ya know – in the Air Force!

Seconds after my neighbors started screeching, “There they go!”, came the realization … I was now at the mercy of events.  Trying to multi-task, a dangerous development, especially when trying to do three things at a time (fly, watch the video, and eyeball a large uncooperative 12-plane formation).  All the while a large formation of military jets speed where they aren’t expected and quite obviously flying a lot lower than predicted.

94889276_10219241664005600_8442047121263165440_n

Photo Credit: James Beaver

Remember the drone?  I had it at 400 ft, as I expected a fairly far-off sighting at altitudes approximating that of the tall buildings of NYC and beloved Philadelphia.

Suddenly the roar of jet engines grows, reminiscent of days-gone -by when JRB Willow Grove hosted airshows with bi-annual appearances of the Blue Angels.  Yep … They used to fly right over the house at treetop level!

Right over the house they screamed, and at that instant I realized Little Bird was in big danger!  Not to mention the potential for damaging a $18-30 million copy of an American fighter … The thought, “How much damage a drone could cause if sucked into an engine intake”, came from my professional though vague familiarity with the intricacies of military jet engines.

I frantically looked to spot the drone, which at that height is visible to the naked eye, but barely.  When I found it, I realized the Thunderbirds had just passed it to the south.  But the Blue Angels were actually flying directly BENEATH IT!

It would have been the Video of all Videos … if only its camera were pointed down, not out.

I do not take lightly the ultimate stupidity of allowing Little Bird to get anywhere near any aircraft, let alone high-performance jets. It was a brief, terrifying in moment.

I take all the blame, but never ever expected to see the fly-bys so low and that close.  I should have known better though.

In the end, the balance sheet has no videos, no photos, no property damage, no federal prison time. Could have been worse …

10154952_834939193186502_1908483848_n

The shot would have been epic, if I had gotten it. On the other hand, the pilot would likely be giving Little Bird a one-finger salute!

 

 

 

 

My Corona! Day 36

18Techfix-illo-mobileMasterAt3xTeleworking is either the bane of our civilized existence or the greatest invention since the beer keg … depending on your personal perspective. Being an old school diehard, I have avoided teleworking, despite the encouragement of the US Navy, largely because I did not trust myself around so many home-bound distractions.

Before big, bad Corona reared its ugly dangerous head, I was forced by Necessity to experiment a bit with the whole work-from-home phenomena when – somehow – The Most Powerful Navy in the World tripped over their Internet cord.  We have many alternate definitions for the acronym NMCI (Navy Marine Corp Intranet), and none of them are flattering.

On such occasions I suggested to Carol that this might be our retirement dry run, as I am painfully close to pulling the plug on my illustrious civilian Navy career. Those practice sessions improved neither my views on teleworking or the prospects for a stress-free retirement. Let’s just say, when you aren’t around as much, people get used to you not being around.

My first mistake teleworking was setting up the Command Center within sight and sound of the Activity Monitor. It was impossible for the monitor to avoid observing – and commenting – on how many “breaks” I took for silly things like eating, drinking, and personal hygiene.

Retirement-wise, I began to wonder what working into my 80s would look like.

z-funny-75-1When Corona confronted me with the prospect of living for WEEKS in constant, uninterrupted work-from-home contact, I knew we had to make this work. If not, one of us – likely me – would end up buried beneath my thick, weedless, pillow-like Best Lawn in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

The first couple of days were tough. You know … The usual “Are you eating again?!?” and “Do you do this at the office?!?”

It was time to get realistic.

So I moved lock, stock, and barrel to the basement apartment. Comes with it’s own half-kitchen, Keurig, fridge, TV and semi-comfy furniture! It also has a bed (wink wink). The benefits in peace, quiet, and unlimited, unjustified man-breaks are a boon to navy supply support!

It’s been an enlightening experience. And I found a solution to the inevitable post-retirement “What the … You’re still here?!?” adjustment period!

I will only have to disappear for 10 hours a day … five days a week!

cg56ac2ac1cde5b

My Corona! Day 27

img_2447As this unprecedented health event hopefully approaches “curve flattening” – if not it’s true apex – continued uncertainty, a myriad of stressors, and a drastic curtailing of normal life, I am trying to look at some of the positive aspects of Life’s disruption.  This is not always easy, particularly when you wake up each morning wondering if that cough, sneeze, or runny nose means anything.

Just allergies, I think/hope/pray.

The biggest positive is the timing of this COVID-19 crisis in the beginning of Spring.  Here in Southeast Pennsylvania the crocuses are blooming; tulips have already pushed up through the soil and are blooming; and the landscapes are a verdant green (assuming of course that you subscribe to Cranky Man’s Lawn’s Program for Lawn Love).  Bought a new lawnmower the weekend before the lockdown hit, and cutting the lawn has been more “fun” than usual!

I’m hopeful that warmer temperatures and how it entices people outdoors could be a positive effect.  It’s a welcome benefit to spend at least an hour or so each day outdoors when temps and weather permit.

Outdoor exercise is always a benefit when the weather is nice.  Carol and I have been taking semi-regular walks together just to get out and about.  It lifts the spirits a bit and invigorates … important when trying to avoid the potential for anxiety and depression, given the constant media obsession.

AdobeStock_195276899

Try a puppy instead of The Media

Here’s a solution for Constant Media Obsession: Turn off the TV. Get off the internet. I don’t even read the newspaper much anymore. Try NOT reading any corona-related stories and see just how quickly you can read a newspaper!

Let’s face it. Ten minutes of COVID-19 coverage and you know all you need to know. There is no (confirmed) cure, no significant flattening of The Curve (yet), no loosening of the isolation standards.

Back to the positives …

  • Although spending a lot of time with family offers opportunity. Spending quality time – even an inordinate amount – with your children can work with a little creativity and ingenuity. Examples abound on social media.
  • Take advantage of your backyard.

Spent early evenings the previous two days (rain today) on our backyard deck and saw more neighbors than you would normally see, even on the most glorious of Spring Saturdays!

  • Working from home?  I have avoided it up to now, actually enjoying my suburban commute to work and the socializing the office provides.  But there are a few extra benefits to working two flights from the bedroom.  And that’s even as I refuse to work in my PJs!
  • Cannot remember the last time I had to buy gas for the car.
  • With everyone under our roof being home all the time and no eat-in restaurants open, home-cooked meals almost every night. (Disadvantage Carol)
  • People are friendlier. Every time we take a walk or step outside, someone is around getting exercise and fresh air; walking the dog; trying to exhaust their pent-up children; doing outdoor chores, etc. And all seem ready with a smile or a wave.

DCIM/100MEDIA/DJI_0129.JPG

Sunset over Horsham (PA) this evening

They say hard times make tougher people, truer friends, closer families.

What I think is that these difficult times force us all onto a relatively common level of hardship, challenge, and vulnerability.  It strips down the barriers that tend to keep us apart and prevent  interaction.

Take advantage of that!  But only from a safe distance …

 

Ma-ma-ma My Corona! Day 9

The-Knack-My-Sharona-1581713180As this unprecedented health event continues to progress with its uncertainty, stressors, and a drastic curtailing of normal life, I dedicate My Corona – Day 9 to a nameless fellow coworker. Let’s call him Bob.

Bob – on one of our last days in the office – attempted to poke fun at my role as office DJ by asking me why I wasn’t playing the song “My Corona”. I told him – somewhat indignantly – that the song was The Knack‘s “My Sharona“. Little did I know until I checked that there actually was a parody song called “My Corona”.

I took the liberty of previewing it. And my recommendation is to skip it; but I link it here just in case you are not already depressed enough being sequestered like a petulant 3-year-old in “timeout”. Remember you were warned.

.

The following version is a bit better … as in a bit better than being stuck in your house with eight of your offspring all under the age of 6.

.

But this extremely short video is by far the best so far …

.

My obvious point here is that with all the stress, uncertainty, hyper media coverage,  doom and gloom predictions, etc., etc. … it will be our ability to maintain perspective; use common sense; and maybe laugh a little at our human frailty are our best attributes that might just help in getting through all this.

Keep safe. Be smart. Enjoy the time with those most important to you … despite how “scary” that might be.