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!

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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

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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.