Saturday, May 9, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 54: 'I Should Write a Book About This Novel Coronavirus'


Dear Diary,

I'm beginning to think I should be writing a book instead of keeping notes in this diary.

The shit that's happening daily has all the makings of a thriller. I know there's been other virus outbreak movies and stories in the past, but nothing to compare with what we're all living through right now.

The book would go something like this:

The most corrupt president in American history is faced with a massive pandemic. When intelligence reports start filtering in about a growing pandemic coming from China, the president does everything he can to deny it'll be a problem for the United States because he doesn't want the economy to be hurt.

Months later, with over a million cases in the country and an increasing death toll at 80,000, chaos reigns. Meanwhile the president is stopping scientific recommendations coming from the CDC on how to safely re-open the country because he wants people back to work now - safe or not - because he's worrying about being re-elected.

The press is exposing the president and his puppets corruption, but nothing seems to stop them. The president's attorney general, and cabinet members have sworn fealty to the president who would be king.

I could describe how the courts fought constant battles in the defense of the Constitution that the president was hellbent on destroying. Vignettes of some of the real dastardly White House staff and other politically appointed goons, would flesh out the storyline.

I would have to end it with the evil president and his cronies being overthrown in a general election by a country that had enough of their crap.

But, for now, I'll keep making my daily entries with observations and opinions, hoping that we'll all have a storybook ending this year.

On the Homefront-Medford, Oregon
**Beery sad - Brian Whitehead, owner of Rusty Truck Brewing didn't want to throw away the beer he couldn't sell (before it went bad) so he gave it away. That's right free growlers as long as they lasted!

Yesterday, when I Googled to see how far away Lincoln City (where the brewery is at) was from where I live in Medford, it was a four-and-a-half hour drive away. No beer is - in my humble opinion - worth that long of a trip. Even for free. So I passed.

**I watched a flotilla of helicopters circling around in the valley yesterday, and found out there were going over hospitals in a salute to nurses. How nice.

Meanwhile, those same nurses, hailed as heroes, are now facing a new reality in Oregon. Cash-strapped hospitals are cutting their pay and their hours.  

**Wines for the Front Lines
(Photo by Michael Alberty-For The Oregonian) 
Gotta love this! 154 wineries donated wine as part of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association project to hand out wine to hospital employees at the end of their shifts!

What was described as a "little snowball" of an idea placed a million dollars worth of wine in the hands of health care workers from Eugene to Portland.

Quote for the day; "A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading." - William Styron 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 53: Pandemic Dominates News Cycles No Matter What Stories Come Out

Dear Diary,

In another time, the news about the government admitting there's UFO's and even releasing videos shot by stunned American pilots, would DOMINATE the headlines for days (at the very least).

Not now.

Trump sounded a bit in awe when the Pentagon made the startling announcement one month ago yesterday. 

It was a fleeting moment of celebration for UFO hunters who have been marginalized for decades. An episode out of the X-Files where the government comes clean. Alien life enthusiasts were exonerated by fuzzy videos.

But the UFO story wasn't even the lead headline on April 7th. Or, the next day, or the next. It faded away in a spectacularly short time. Buried by Trump's Coronavirus Task Farce's infighting on facts.

No story can compete with a COVID-19 linked report. I get it. On one level. A pandemic of this magnitude only comes around every 100 years or so. On another lever, I don't see anything wrong with reporting ALL THE NEWS.

I wonder how many people are aware that the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released it's report on Russia's interference with the 2016 election? The committee concluded Russia not only interfered but that Trump and minions welcomed the help.

Just yesterday the House Intelligence Committee released transcripts from 57 of the committee's closed door hearings from the panel's two-year investigation.

There were revealing interviews with key members of the Trump team and the President's family, including Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Brad Parsacle and Carter Page.

So why aren't the talking heads running with this big news? Instead, the Russia investigation results are playing second fiddle to Trump getting rid of the healthcare experts on his Coronavirus Task Farce.

All I'm saying is there's a lot of shit happening every day, both nationally and internationally, that needs a lot more exposure and attention by the mainstream media and cable news.
On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon
**The big news - Gov. Brown is opening up the state May 15th under a new coronavirus plan. That should be interesting as we've only done a minimum of testing.

**The mask controversy goes on - Gov. Brown says to wear a mask when we go out if we want to be considerate of others. Forgive my jocularity at this "suggestion" which most people will ignore.

Some businesses will be required to have employees wear face masks to reopen. Not all though. From Trump on down the vaguely enforced mask rules have been a mockery of safety.

**In related news Oregon health officials are saying the coronavirus antibody tests are too unreliable to analyze for public health purposes. In other words state officials are taking test results by not examining them! Truly pathetic.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 52: Chasing Away the Blues and a Treatment for COVID-19 - Llama's to the Rescue!

Dear Diary,

In my entry yesterday I mentioned a special Llama who cheers old folks and shut-ins up during the pandemic.

 His name is Caesar the No Drama Llama.

A lot of viewers thought Caesar was pretty cool. In case you missed the video on him here it is

To my delight, I read another story about a Llama yesterday whose helping out during these hard times. His name is Winter, and he could turn out to be an unlikely savior against COVID-19.

The global search for a novel coronavirus treatment has led to a cocoa-colored Llama whose blood could hold a weapon to blunt the virus. 

In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Cell, an international team of scientists reported they harvested Winter's petit antibodies to engineer a new antibody that binds to the spiky proteins that stud the surface of the novel coronavirus "neutralizing" its insidious effect.

It's just a preliminary study -albeit positive - so don't think we need to start hoarding Llamas nationally!

More studies are needed, but I think it's damn interesting how scientists are testing animals to cure a pandemic that some believe started with an animal. Bats.

Llamas have a built-in cool factor. Just don't get too close or they may spit at you! Nothing personal. It's just one of their quirks.

Some people say the spitting is a self-defense measure, but that's not entirely true. Spitting is a gesture for Llamas which they originally use with each other. 

"How you doing, Winter?" SPLAT!

"Just fine, Caesar" SPLAT "...back at ya!"

On the Homefront - Medford Oregon

**COVID-19 stats - 115 new dead, as cases climb to 3,000 confirmed. Thus far, 68,000 Oregonians have been tested for the coronavirus.

**Some good news - 31,000 Oregon businesses got $3B in second round of coronavirus recue loans.

**Hard times - there's still thousands of Oregonians whose jobless claims are still pending because of an ancient computer system. Memo to Gov. Brown: "What do you think? Time for new ones?"

**I voted by mail today. My vote went to Joe Biden in the Democratic primary. The rest of the ballot was full of local elections. Note: Oregon has had voting by mail for 22 years. The rest of the nation needs to do the same this November. Better safe, than sorry.

Quote for the day: "A man without a vote is a man without protection." -Lydon B. Johnson

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 51: American Masquerade - 'Take That Mask and Shove it!'

Dear Diary,

The latest coronavirus controversy is about wearing face masks.

In the rush to open things up in the country, face masks have become a flash point... to wear, or not to wear? 

The mandate to wear masks is being interrupted as government overreach by Trump supporters, fringe militia's, and some desperate businesses.

The result has been escalating tensions that have turned into protests, rebellions, fights, and even two deaths; one by stabbing, and the other - a security guard in a Michigan Family Dollar Store - was shot point blank in the head over asking someone to obey state orders and to wear a mask in the store!

The rest of America (according to the most recent poll 82% of Americans) are willing to sacrifice and wear face masks as long as it takes for personal and societal safety.

I see a parallel between fact and fiction in Edgar Allen Poe's fictional short story...

"The Masque of the Red Death,"

and how the Trump administration responded to the pandemic.

(Illustration by Harry Clarke. On front cover of Edgar Allen Poe collected works and The Masque of the Red Death)

In a nutshell, the story follows Prince Prospero's attempts to avoid a dangerous plague, known as the Red Death, by hiding in his abbey. 

The prince and other wealthy nobles got bored after a while and decided to have a masquerade ball.

The abbey had seven rooms, each decorated with a different color. In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through each of the rooms.

In the end, Prospero dies after confronting this stranger, whose "costume" proves to contain nothing tangible inside of it. The guests, as one would expect, also died.

On the Homefront - Medford. Oregon
**No new deaths from the coronavirus as of today. The count still stands at 109. No new cases reported in Jackson Country where we live.

**Out of the ordinary visitor - I've been reading (and watching videos) about family members standing outside of nursing homes for the elderly trying to cheer them up and help keep them feeling connected to their world.

How about a Llama visitor? Here's a link to Caesar the No Drama Llama, visiting The Oaks at Sherwood Park care facility in Keizer.

I hope that suddenly seeing a live Llama outside their window doesn't freak out some residents and make them think dementia is knocking at their door!

Quote for the day; "The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces." -Salvatore Laccona

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 50: It Looks Like I May Become a Vegetarian... Whether I Like It, Or Not!

Dear Diary,

When I walked down to the little meat market less than a half a block away from our house a new reality hit me in the gut when the owner said they weren't taking any more orders right now!

The reason?

Apparently there's been a rush on meat because of national headlines reporting a broken supply line in the country's major meat-packing plants.

In response, everyone in the Rogue Valley decided they had to stock up on meat the last few days! Our meat market was no exception. It had to stop taking orders yesterday, the demand was so high.

For six years, Shirley and I have patronized them because we wanted to support a family-owned operation (who were also our neighbors), and they also have the best meat in the county (a secret that seems to have slipped out recently).

Now I don't know when we'll be able to order meat from them again. The meat supply in local supermarkets is also quickly dwindling, and I read that Costco is limiting how much meat a person can buy right now.

To be clear; I'm a meat-eater. 

A proud carnivore.

A man who enjoys bacon, a good steak, or hamburgers.

The idea that no meat may be available - even if for only a brief time - leaves me cold. Frozen with the prospect of being a vegetarian... whether I like it or not!

First it was toilet paper. Now, it's meat. I don't even want to think about what may be the next shortage because of the pandemic.

On a hunch, I may stock up on coffee. If I ever run out of my java fix there's no longer any reason to get out of bed in the morning!
On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon
**COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen to a new low since the state started reporting them.

There's been a significant drop since April 8th, the first day state officials disclosed active hospitalizations for confirmed cases.

**As of yesterday, the state has identified 2,680 Oregonians who have been infected with the virus and 109 people have died from it. 

**Shirley and I have concluded this pandemic is going to be around for awhile - despite Trump's magical thinking - and have decided to stay-at-home for as long as it takes.

With the exception of a monthly supply run - food and prescriptions - we've settled into what may be the new normal for the rest of the year. We're thankful for a roof over our head, and the fact that we can purchase needed supplies. So many Americans can't these days. 

Quote for the day; "Be thankful for your allotment in an imperfect world. Though better circumstances can be imagined, far worse are nearer misses than you probably care to realize." -Richelle E. Goodrich

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 49: Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! Trump Saved America...Right?

Dear Diary,

You can be excused for believing the worst of the Pandemic is over and everything will return to normal by Christmas if you watched Fox's Special Town Hall event featuring Trump and a Fox reporter last night sitting in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

In my mind's eye I can still see Dubya (on May 1st, 2003) declaring victory in Iraq aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier with a giant sign behind him that read, "Mission Accomplished."

You may not remember, but Bush became the first sitting President to arrive in an arrested landing in a fixed-wing aircraft on an aircraft carrier. The plane, a Lockheed S-3 Viking, was dubbed Navy One as the aircraft carrier lay just off the San Diego coast.

It was a dramatic entrance that his critics never let him forget. 

As history inconveniently points out the war in Iraq wasn't going so well and that in fact guerrilla warfare in Iraq was increasing. The vast majority of casualties, both military and civilian, happened after Bush's infamous claim.

Which brings me to Trump and last night's Town Hall on Fox. If I drank the same Kool aid that many Fox viewers enjoy, I would have been pumped up and ready to break every safety rule there was to LIBERATE AMERICA!

"USA! USA! We're going to die anyway!" 

It was a moveable feast featuring Trump.

I was disappointed that Trump didn't make some kind of grand entrance - one that would have upstaged Dubya's - but he played his cheerleader role in true Trumpian fashion with a juicy selection of promises and lies designed to gin up his base.

Main talking point
If not for Trump's incredibly rapid response to the oncoming invisible enemy everyone in America would currently be sick, dying, or dead. Period. End of story. 
On the economy
Only Trump can save every business, large and small, in the nation. Only Trump's policies will revive the economy, and by next year America will be richer and more powerful than every before. Period. End of story.

On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon
**Health officials reported 45 more infections yesterday raising the state total to 2,680. Yesterday was the first day since April 22 that the state has not reported any new deaths. The latest death toll is 109.

**Gov. Kate Brown extended the state of emergency stay-at-home order for 60 more days. It does allow her to terminate it earlier if deemed appropriate.

**A couple of hundred supporters protested the stay-at-home order in Salem this past weekend.

(Photo by Beth Nakamura for The Oregonian)

What stood out to me were the Trump supporters, alt-right members like the Proud Boys, and the right-wing militia members strutting around like stupid peacocks looking for trouble.

The protest was a snap shot of where we're at in America during a pandemic that is changing the way we live forever. No unity against a common enemy.

Quote for the day, "The destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees." -T.H. White 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 48: Credibility Lost: Biden's Accuser's Multiple Stories Don't Add Up To Truth

Joe Biden and Tara Reade
Dear Diary,

The way I see it, if I were a woman and a man stuck his hand up my dress in public (corridors of the Capital) I would have shouted out in anger!

But I'm a man. So, assuming a woman would let that happen and not report being sexually harassed because she was afraid to - or whatever reason - is a leap of faith. Still, I believe every woman should speak out if she's manhandled by some pig bastard.

The only thing I require, in order to make a reasonable judgement of a "He said, she said," argument is proof. For or against. I realize that's not always possible in situations like this so one has to try to understand the dynamic between the accused, and the accuser.

Going with what's already been reported two years ago (taped AP interviews), and recent reports, it's obvious Tara Reade (Biden's accuser) has changed her story numerous times. Which story should I believe?

It just came to light yesterday (after the AP released the tapes) that she never reported a sexual assault or harassment to anyone - in spite of an earlier report that she claimed to have gone to a Senate personnel office and filed a complaint.

I recall Reade telling the AP last year in an interview that Biden touched her on the shoulder and made her "uncomfortable."

Alright then. That's a long way from being sexually assaulted. Up until this last interview in 2019 there was no mention of being sexually assaulted.

So what happened this year that changed those original charges into a something a hell of a lot more serious?

Is it a coincidence that the Trump campaign and Republican puppets are busy making up lies about Biden, and just happened to seize on this questionable avenue in an effort to discredit Joe?

Here's the thing - we now know that Reade never filed a sexual assault complaint with any government agency. This story/lie was exposed yesterday by her own admission when confronted by an AP reporter. She attributing the latest change in her story to a suddenly faulty memory.

I suspected something was "rotten in Denmark" when the Republicans pounced on Biden for not revealing his records with the University of Delaware. They would not have found a thing about Reade, but they would have gained access to a treasure trove of sensitive notes on conversations with other lawmakers and world leaders that could be used to a political advantage.

Three things to consider 
One - it's common for current Congressional members (and those who have not retired from political life) to have their records (in any university) closed until they retire. Ask Mike Pence who had his records closed in 2016 when he decided to be Trump's stooge.

Two - Universities DO NOT want personnel files. They are only interested in speeches made, and historical documentation on a lawmaker's life. They don't want dirty laundry. I say this because Trump's minions are acting like Biden is hiding something in the university files.

Three - It's a fact that member's personnel files can be found in the Senate and the National Archives files. It's also a fact that Biden asked both to search their records of any complaints made by Tara Reade.

In summary, the aspects of Reade's revolving stories suggest she's never been honest about being sexually assaulted by Biden. Her stories have changed over the years for reasons we may never know.

I think it's a hell of a reach not to suspect Republicans are behind Reade's sudden accusation of being sexually assaulted when Trump is trailing in the polls. 

For the record, I don't believe in coincidences, especially if Trumpies are involved!

Here's an article by Michael. J. Stern, a columnist for USA Today, on the same subject of Reade's credibility. The author's work experience (and research) far exceeds my knowledge on the subject. 
On The Homefront - Medford. Oregon
**Not much to report today.

**COVID states have barely changed since yesterday. I keep telling myself this must be good news. Perhaps Oregon has flattened the curve.

**I'm not sure if it's a good thing, but I've lost my taste for alcoholic beverages. Wine. Irish whiskey. Bourbon. Vodka. Tequila. Beer. 

It's not like I've been a heavy drinker and my kidneys are praising me for suddenly stopping... it's just since I was stricken with loss of balance (3 weeks ago) and weakness all over my body, my taste buds are out of whack.

Now that I'm feeling better, I have no desire for booze. Don't ask me why. It's damn strange. Hopefully this new affliction will go away some day soon!

Quote for the Day; "There are people who have legitimate concerns about false accusations and the impact that can have on a person's life when they have been falsely accused. Kirsten Gillibrand and I are not unaware that it is an issue we need to be concerned about, and that's why we have made changes in the legislation to address not just the rights of the victim, the accuser, but also of the accused." -Former Senator Claire McCaskill

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...