Category Archives: General

Oh Elon…

If you’ve followed me here for a while… yadda yadda…

Welp, you know I drive a Tesla Model 3. I’ve been driving since 1982/3 or thereabouts, my first car being a 1981 Ford Mustang. In the (too) many years since I first started driving, I’ve driven all kinds of vehicles, good, mediocre, and terrible.

But nothing –nothing– to my mind is like my Model 3. I’m absolutely floored by the car and the tech behind it. I love the car. Moreso: I’m positive I will never again buy another internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle ever again.

I love just about everything about the car and wish the other car companies would follow Tesla’s lead and jump on board the EV revolution… these cars are truly the next level.

But…

Man, does Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, make me sometimes scratch my head. He’s clearly a very sharp/smart individual. Getting a company like Tesla, much less Space X, off the proverbial ground and making them create such astounding things (cars and spacecraft) is nothing at all to sneeze at. It takes large investments and considerable brain-power (not just Musk’s, but employing smart people to make these things a reality).

The fact that he has potentially upended one industry -the automotive industry- and may well lead them kicking and screaming into the EV market is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Yet we get moments like this one, presented on gizmodo.com and written by Matt Novak, wherein we find that…

Elon Musk Tweets “Free America Now” as his Coronavirus predictions prove very wrong

Elon -I can call you Elon, can’t I?- Why dude?

Why would you go around saying things like this? I’m tired of being locked in. I wish we could go back to the way things were. Yes, I know Coronavirus isn’t, say, Ebola and that the percentage of people who contract it and subsequently die is a low percentage, around 3-4% and often those who succumb are elderly or infim…

…however…

In just a few months, we’ve had worldwide deaths linked to Covid-19 at 225,000. In the U.S., that number is as of April 29th an astonishing 61,421.

That’s a lot of fatalities in what amounts to, what, 2-3 months at most?

There are some indications that the self-isolation has helped the numbers come down, but there are many, including Musk, who clearly are itching to have industries/stores/etc. open back up to full.

I can’t help but wonder if maybe they feel the fatalities aren’t that big. But consider this: In one year between 3000 to 49,000 people may die from the flu. Pretty startling numbers but, again, this is for a year.

Covid-19 is simply a far more deadly virus and the idea of opening everything up, frankly, scares me.

We’re risking a lot more lives and the possibility of once again seeing a jump in infections and hospitalizations.

Do we really need that? Isn’t it safer to hang back, economically painful as it may be, to try to tramp this down as much as possible and/or hopefully buy time to develop effective treatments?

I know, I’m just another voice out there and a small one at that.

Someone noted that the self-isolation was like jumping out of a plane and pulling open a parachute.

We’ve slowed down the descent yet there are people who feel now they can release the parachute even though we’re not even halfway to the ground.

Might they be right?

Coronavirus Diaries 15: Staying Insane Edition

Ho boy…

After plenty of …uh… push back to this incredibly insane suggestion that people should somehow “inject” themselves with some kind of cleaner -Which, let’s be perfectly clear: WILL INJURE AND/OR KILL YOU!- “President” Trump now claims he was being “sarcastic”.

Here we have an article by Daniel Dale presented on CNN.com which pretty much debunks that claim:

Fact check: Trump lies that he was being “sarcastic” when he talked about injecting disinfectant

Of course, Fox “News” is trying to spin this but… its horrifying.

This is our “President”, and clearly he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about.

Worse, we haven’t, as President Obama stated, no clear path to dealing with the Covid-19 virus from the federal government… even to this point!

It’s the local Governors and Mayors that are dealing with this versus the Federal Government which, I have to say: I don’t know what they’re doing.

We hear about shortages of supplies, of supplies being snatched away from states/cities. We have a “President” who doesn’t seem to know or understand medicine, much less the numbers of dead and infected.

Nor does he seem to care.

Has he even once noted or said anything about the horror medical hospitals are facing? Has he expressed any sympathy at all?

What we get are increasingly ridiculous ramblings. What we got yesterday was a sure way to put yourself at risk of actually killing yourself.

How does one defend any of this?

If you’re a masochist, here’s some more, also from MSNBC’s Morning Joe show:

This is our leader, folks.

Coronavirus Diaries 14: Staying Sane Edition

I mentioned before that if there was one positive about this whole Covid-19/self-isolation situation its that I’ve been afforded much more time to devote to my writing.

This morning it occurred to me that I look forward to getting on the computer and typing away. The process allows me to take my own personal flights of fancy, moving away from the realities facing everyone.

While this is my own personal escape, I sincerely hope everyone else out there has found their own little hideaway to escape to, whether it be in catching up on reading, movies, TV shows, knitting, drawing, playing video games or board games, listening to music, playing your music, etc. etc.

Each day I do wonder when we’ll get out of this self-isolation and each day it seems to me that day lies further and further in the future.

Sadly, until there comes an effective treatment -a vaccine likely will not be ready until at least next year- we’re in this for a longer haul than anyone would like.

Oh, and to those who are spending this time reading my stuff, a sincere thank you.

It’s most appreciated and I hope to have a new book for you soon!

Coronavirus Diaries 13… The Inmates Are Getting Restless…

I suppose it was a matter of time but, as the heading above tells you, there is evidence all this social distancing/self-isolation is starting to make some people crack.

Sadly, we have a “President” who feel the need to use this to his advantage, so desperate is he to get re-elected.

First up, in Michigan some yahoos protesting against the supposed harshness of self-isolating decided to protest. Among other wonderful things they did was block access to a hospital with their barricade of vehicles.

Read all about it in this article by David Neiwert and presented on dailykos.com:

Fringe right closes down Michigan Capital with ‘gridlock’ protest against coronavirus measures

Thankfully, it appeared that no ambulances involved in an emergency situation were slowed/delayed in arriving at the hospital but it could have easily happened. Imagine you or a loved one desperate to get to the hospital because of some emergency (whether Covid-19 related or not) and you’re delayed by a bunch of idiots blocking the streets.

Worse, some of these protesters, like these…

People take part in a protest for "Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine" at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 15, 2020. - The group is upset with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's(D-MI) expanded the states stay-at-home order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Weren’t following proper distance from each other.

The irony of this whole situation is that the self-isolation/social distancing measures were not created to screw with people’s freedoms. It is intended to keep people -even these people- from getting sick and spreading this disease around.

By doing what they’re doing, they’ve just endangered themselves and their communities.

All because they can’t handle being indoors a little more than usual?

And these same right wing heroes are the ones that bash liberals as snowflakes?

…Hmmmm…

Anyway, “President” Donald Trump added fuel to the proverbial fire by tweeting a bunch of shit about “freeing” Michigan and other places and…

…sigh…

You know what? You want to go out and hang around with people and don’t fear getting sick? You’re convinced the Coronavirus is a liberal scam? Then by all means hang out with your fellow extremists.

It’s Darwinian selection at its finest, I suppose. The only negative is that these fools may give the disease to others who did observe proper precautions. All because of their selfishness and carelessness.

*****

Speaking of which, over in my home state of Florida, our “Governor” decided to allow Jacksonville beaches to open though there are certain restrictions.

Welp, though there were plenty of people cheering and frolicking on the beach, these scenes, presented in this article by Lee Moran on CNN.com, sure do make me sweat…

Yup, here we got a bunch of people hanging around really close to each other, most without masks or any sort of protective gear.

I wonder how many new cases of Covid-19 are going to pop up in the next two weeks.

I suspect we’ll see a rise.

But, hey, at least these separate groups of people have the comfort of their guns and beaches.

Coronavirus Diaries 11

Saturday, nowhere to go other than a few places to stock up.

First, though, we do a little exercise, walking a few miles. Thankfully we have a nice park nearby and there aren’t too many people around.

We then proceed to Costco, intent on buying just a few things, but of course we wind up getting far more. Costco opens very early on Saturday, used to be 9:30 AM but now they open around 9 AM. I guess. We arrived just a few minutes after nine and there was a line of people already waiting to go in.

Since the last time I went to Costco, they now allow a certain number of people in at a time, then stop the line and make people wait for others to leave the store. Further, they have created a long line area which keeps people separated. You’re asked to stay behind your cart and its a prudent measure for sure.

Once inside, it was a breeze looking through everything and buying stuff for the week -or longer. Today they had both toilet paper and paper towels (!!) so we took advantage and bought. There is a limit, however, of only one of each per customer.

Mind you, we have enough for ourselves but we’re no hoarders: We bought extra a week ago for one of my wife’s co-workers who had surgery on his ankle and can’t get around too well… and was running out of toilet paper.

This week we bought for her parents (they’re elderly and are isolating almost completely) and they’re running out of the stuff.

It was also, I might add, the first time we entered one of these stores with both gloves and a mask. While I’ve made it a habit in the last week plus to wear gloves when out to a store, we decided it was prudent to go the extra step and wear a mask as well.

We weren’t the only ones.

The other thing Costco is now doing is only allowing two people to enter the store per membership card so my daughter, who accompanied us, headed back to my car and hung out there while we did our shopping.

I suppose that’s one of the good things about having a Tesla: There’s a lot of entertainment/video games to spend the time with there.

Regardless, we made our rounds, picked up a bunch of stuff and headed out…

…and stopped at Target.

Target is on the way from Costco back home and since it was still pretty early (maybe 9:40 AM by that time) there weren’t all that many people at Target.

Like Costco, it appears Target is also counting the number of people within the store but, at least when we went, it wasn’t very busy at all and entered without waiting in any line.

We had a few more odds and ends to pick up (including food for the pets) and, again with mask and gloves, we finished our major shopping and headed home.

On the way back, it occurred to me the reality of the situation is certainly becoming real to many.

As I mentioned, most if not all the people in both Costco and Target had at least gloves. Many also had face masks and, thankfully, they all kept their distances from each other… and we certainly did the same.

But a weird sense of paranoia does begin to enter one’s head, doesn’t it?

You’re looking around, making sure there aren’t people coughing and making sure the guy/gal just over there doesn’t get too close.

And if they do, even if its unintentional, one can get annoyed and stop moving and/or move away, grumbling about how careless these people are, especially if it seems they’re not being proactive in their social distancing.

Social distancing. Self-isolating.

Two terms that were -to my mind anyway- never used much if at all have become the terms of this era.

Now and again I like to think about how much longer this is going to go on.

In the last entry (you can read it here) I figured we would be self-isolating and social distancing into May and likely the summer months as well.

My opinion hasn’t changed much.

I strongly believe April is gone in terms of the possibility we emerge from this.

If -and its a HUGE if- some kind of medication/treatement is discovered that deals well with Covid-19, then maybe we start emerging from this self-imposed exile in May. But if not, add May to the list of months we’ll be practicing both self-isolating and social distancing.

Two full months.

I suspect by then we must reach a point where the virus has gone through most communities and the larger number of people will have been affected and -hopefully- most will be through with it and essentially immune.

Hopefully –hopefully– the number of dead will be on the low end of the estimates and we can perhaps start to emerge a little from this daze.

But, again if there is no clear medicine or treatment available, we may see June and July join in the exiled months.

As always, keep safe out there.

I know there are those -especially on the Fox “News” and in this current administration- that tried to soft-pedal the disease and make it seem like it was no worse than getting the flu.

They’re changing their tunes but we still get stories like this one, by Matt Novak and presented on Gizmodo.com:

Georgia’s Idiot Governor says he didn’t know people could spread Covid-19 without symptoms

Yikes.

Keep informed -and stay away from anything that uses the two word combination of “Fox” and “News” together and we’ll hopefully get out of this fine.

Hopefully!

April 1st, 2020 and Coronavirus Diaries 10

April Fool’s Day.

Not be be a downer, but it sure seems like there’s not much to have fun to be had today and I truly hope no one out there decides it would be really funny to do some kind of Coronavirus-type joke.

“Coughing” on your friends, etc.

The other day the Trump administration finally seemed to admit the reality of this situation, that if everything goes well, we can expect some 100,000 to 250,000 dead.

I know there still exist those out there who aren’t taking this very seriously and, truly and honestly, I hope they come out of this unscathed.

But given the ease in which this virus seems to be transmitted, the odds sure seem like they might catch up with you. And sadly, it doesn’t end with people catching the illness, it continues as they spread it to others.

*****

Last weekend, it was our intention to take a mini-vacation, ie something that would last maybe two or so weekdays and the weekend. We had marked the date and were planning to do some Florida driving, including going to the parks (Disney World, Universal).

Obviously that didn’t happen.

We also were considering taking a longer vacation later on, perhaps a week or so, and fly up to New York and visit that area. Maybe even make our way to Boston.

Obviously, that’s not going to happen now.

Today, I feel like we’re going to be under a lockdown through this month, April, and likely the entirety of May. The disease will still be out there, but by that point the raging fire will have spread through and, hopefully, care will be easier to provide.

Even so, we will continue to be isolating, I feel, well past May and into the summer months.

It feels like the world itself has hit the pause button and we’re just keeping our heads down and hoping for the best while fearing the worst.

Coronavirus Diaries 9

Some random thoughts (!) here:

Nintendo’s timing in releasing Animal Crossings may well have been incredibly fortuitous for the company. I don’t mean to step on the misery and misfortune brought on by this pandemic, but when locked up and isolated, one hunts for anything to pass the time and Animal Crossing’s release was a godsend to many.

******

With the good comes the very bad. We’re starting to see many celebrities who have contacted the Coronavirus, including big names such as Tom Hanks and his wife Rita WIlson, Idris Elba, Prince Charles, etc.

More depressing is that like many other “regular” victims, some celebrities have fallen to the Coronavirus.

Christie D’Zurilla at latimes.com offers a list of some of the celebrities who have fallen from this virus:

Celebrities who died from Coronavirus

******

Now for a bit of better news, also found on latimes.com and in an article written by Sonia Kelly:

Powell’s Books rehires more than 100 employees as online orders soar

The article’s title says it all and, I wonder, if maybe this event will truly transition people from “going out” to buy certain items and, instead, they realize its not worth going out to pick up some things.

Granted, I’m not talking about all things here.

But in recent times I’ve noted that I no longer have much of a desire to visit bookstores. While Amazon.com makes me nervous about their overall size and monopolistic bend, the reality is that whatever book/comic book/graphic I may want, there it is.

And I don’t have to order physical copies of them. I can order the digital version and be reading the book/comic book/graphic novel in a matter of seconds.

Same with music.

Same with movies (though in this case I tend to use VUDU).

Same with video games (though I don’t seem to have as much time nowadays to play all that much as before).

The reality is that going out even before the Coronavirus for us tended to be so we could a) eat out/buy food and/or groceries or b) see a movie (that’s done for now) or c) buy clothing.

Otherwise, there really wasn’t much of a need to go out at all.

That was obviously for us.

Will it be like that for others now?

Coronavirus Diaries 8

Funny how time becomes fluid when you’re locked up inside.

Two weeks ago -roughly- and in the first couple of weeks of March the U.S. seemed to finally wake up to the fact that the Coronavirus was something to take seriously.

We had sporting events cancelled, large parks (Disney, Universal, etc.) shutting down. Airlines essentially stopping foreign flights, cruise ships grounded. Restaurants no longer seating people inside but doing take-out or delivery.

Clubs, bars?

If you’re smart, you’ll forget about that.

Sadly, not everyone is taking this as seriously as they should. There are those I read about in the news who just have to have a party or have to have their services with crowds. Jerry Falwell Jr., staunch Trump supporter and right-wing Born Again fanatic, stated Liberty University, his university, would press forward with regular classes.

I suppose he bought into Trump’s original “it’s a hoax” line and, frankly, I fear for the students.

Now, at the end of March, it feels like a morbid quiet has settled over us here. While we read the terrible stories of Hospital ICU’s overwhelmed with patients, especially in the denser cities like New York and Chicago, we go to stores to buy our basic needs -food being the biggie- but try to keep our distance from others.

Where once you’d see one or two people with gloves and/or masks, the majority of people now seem to be using these items and its rarer now to see people walking around stores (those that are still open) without some form of protective gear.

Back in March 13 (Friday the 13th, I might add!) I wrote the first of the Coronavirus Diaries (click here to read it!) and I wondered:

How long will this go on? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the economic impact will be both very negative and incredibly huge.

Welp, two weeks later the economic impact is becoming clearer. Unemployment is literally through the roof and this is hardly surprising. When restaurants and Hotels, airlines and the Cruise Industry, and any shop not deemed “essential” is forced to close up, this leaves those who run these businesses in a tough spot. If your business is idle/closed, you aren’t making money. You cannot keep paying your employees so they have to be laid off. They sign up for unemployment but the rent is due. Bills have to be paid.

It’s a scary, scary time, to say the least.

And the worst thing about it all?

I don’t see the end.

China, where the Coronavirus first appeared, seemed to get a handle on the virus and, a few days back, opened their cinemas.

Ominously, the very next day they closed them again.

Another thing I said in that original Friday the 13th post was:

The biggest hope is that scientists figure out in relatively short order a vaccine and/or effective treatment against this pandemic before it becomes far, far worse than it already is.

It seems to me the entire planet, all nations of the world, are effectively hitting the pause button. We’re all hoping we can weather this storm as best as possible, keeping the worst numbers, those who get very sick and/or fall to this illness, low.

We’re all hoping for that effective treatment, for the vaccine that rids us of this pandemic.

Pretty obvious stuff, I concluded in that Friday the 13th post.

It feels like we’re closer to the beginning than the end at this point, and one wonders how long it will take to get to normalcy.

If ever.

Coronavirus Diaries 7

You have absolutely no reason to believe me but I had a conversation with my wife a week or so ago and at the onset of the self-isolation craziness and the enormity of the Coronavirus was becoming all too real, wherein I wondered whether I, and a few people I know around me, had contracted the Coronavirus earlier in the year and didn’t know it.

Bear with me here because I know what I’m about to say may sound crazy but…

Early in the year, in early January, I recall my father got very sick (he’s since recovered) and he was sick for an awful long time, perhaps two or so weeks, and had a hard time getting rid of whatever he had. A friend of ours, another elderly man, also got sick around that time and for him, too, the illness lasted an unusually long time. He coughed a lot and had pain in his lungs but, over time, he finally got over it. Yet another person who works for us also got sick and it also took a long while to get over. One of my sisters also got sick. She’s a pharmacist and noted this cycle of getting sick was going out of hand. We started cleaning up around us and disinfecting all because it seemed like we couldn’t quite kick the illness.

At around that time, perhaps later January, I too got sick but the illness didn’t last terribly long for me and it wasn’t particularly hard hitting. What I do recall was that I felt it was strange to catch what I thought was the flu (the symptoms seemed to line up with that) since I had my flu shots for the year done in October or so. My wife, as far as I can remember, didn’t get sick.

I also recall experiencing -and I verified it with some of my January and early February posts- being awfully tired at the end of work weeks, to the point where I would literally collapse in bed from exhaustion and greatly welcome the weekends.

See, when I’m not working on my latest novel, my family works in the tourism industry and we have contact with people from all over the world.

Including China.

Could what the people immediately around me and I have been experiencing at that time, in January and into very early February, been the Coronavirus and we simply didn’t know?

Before you think I’m certifiably nuts, check out this article by Lindsay Holmes and presented on Huffingtonpost.com:

Is It Possible That You Had The Coronavirus Earlier This Year?

Seems like I’m not the only one who thinks maybe he was exposed to the virus early on.

Thing is, and as the article notes: There is no way to test someone to see if they had the Coronavirus before, just if they have it now.

Which means that even if I was exposed to it or had it, I, and everyone in my circle of family and all my friends, even those who were sick earlier in the year, need to continue being incredibly cautious and self-isolating.

Still, it is a scary thought that maybe, just maybe I might have been already exposed to this virus before the news of the pandemic truly broke.

Terrifying, really.

Coronavirus Diaries 6

With plenty of you out there home and not going out, if you’re interested in watching the progression of the Coronavirus, especially in your country and/or state, check out this interesting link to 91-Divoc:

An interactive visualization of the exponential spread of COVID-19

The information is rather… depressing, I guess, showing that the U.S. is essentially following the same line of infections by time passage that many other nations have shown. While others have managed to get control, however, we’re still on the upswing of things.

Speaking of which, its even more depressing to see comments by right wing pundits -over-eager, it seems, to please Trump- starting to talk about “opening up” businesses, ie ending the self-isolation many have been doing lately, and simply stop doing it and allow people to congregate.

Seems like a great idea… if one wants everyone to catch this virus and for certain overwhelm all hospitals and, as a result, have many more people who will not be able to get access to ventilators die.

Yep, classic pro-business, anti-people thinking.

Here’s a lovely story by Daniel Burke regarding a lovely pastor who defied the governor’s mandate to not have groups of more than 50 people -itself a rather large figure!- and claims to have held mass for 1000 people!

Then there’s Britt Hume of Fox News (who else?) saying it’s “entirely reasonable” for the elderly to risk getting the Coronavirus to aid the economy (the link is to an article by Matthew Rozsa and preented on Salon.com):

Fox News’ Brit Hume: “Entirely reasonable” for elderly to risk getting Coronavirus to aid economy

Sigh.

These are the same people who were outraged at Obamacare because it supposedly (it didn’t) create “death panels” for medical services. Now, some of them are actively urging people to risk their health and/or life for the sake of keeping this economy going.

Speaking of which, here’s another scary article presented on laeater.com and written by Matthew Kang:

Cheesecake Factory Tells Landlords Across Country It Won’t Be Able to Pay Rent on April 1

Most people in the U.S. likely are familiar with the Cheesecake Factory brand. They are a restaurant chain that serves a plethora of foods but their specialty is (c’mon… guess!) cheesecakes. They make many different types and most are quite delicious filled calorie bombs.

Just writing the above makes me want to go to a Cheesecake Factory and pick up a slice of something…

Anyway, this very large, successful chain of restaurants, like I’m sure many, many other restaurants out there, faces harsh economic issues and, as the article makes clear from the headline, they will be unable to pay any of their rents come April 1st, a few days from now.

I suppose this is what gets the right wing riled up and wanting to “force” people outside and not in isolation, the idea that many businesses are on the fringe of collapsing because they no longer have the large client base -and the money provided by the same- to count on to survive.

As I said in one of my first posts regarding the Coronavirus, this is the second very big issue one has to deal with, the first being one’s health: The Economy.

It’s going to be hurting.

Bad.

And for some time. I suspect the “end the isolation” movement is going to fade away as we hear about more and more hospitals that are overwhelmed with patients and more and more deaths reported.

On the somewhat plus side, it was reported that the Coronavirus does not seem to mutate rapidly (you can read an article about that here, fromn washingtonpost.com and written by Joel Achenbach). This is good news because it means that when an effective vaccine against the Corornavirus is developed (early trials are already in effect), people can get the vaccine and, likely, the virus will be done.

However, realistically an effective vaccine will not be available at least until next year some time (it takes that long to go through effective trials), so we’ve still got a while to deal with this.

The end of it can’t come soon enough.