Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 75: Wasted Weekends and Days of Rage

Dear Diary,

Looking forward to weekends was a pre-pandemic routine that celebrated the end of a work week.

Most working Americans use to look forward to a couple of days off spent with friends and family. Weekends were special for a whole host of reasons.

Weekends are wasted now during the coronavirus. For stay-at-home Americans they have blended into the week in one long nightmare where their health and finances are at risk daily.

Instead weekends are lost in these days of rage.

No one knows how many more people will die from COVID-19 in the coming months - or even years ahead. There's talk of having a vaccine by the end of the year, but if history is any guide I doubt it.

Black Americans are dying in disproportionate numbers from the deadly virus that's still spreading from coast-to-coast.

Forty million Americans are unemployed. Thousands of small businesses have been destroyed.

Riots have broken out in cities after a black man was murdered by a policeman. The crime was videotaped from all angles. When days passed without any action protestors burned down a police precinct, and the national guard was called out.

When authorities finally arrested the officer who killed George Floyd after the videos left no doubt about his guilt, he was charged with murder. 

I look around and see a president so unhinged that I fear he may start a war any day, in a terrible "Wag the dog moment" to divert Americans from his ongoing corruption, and how he's mishandling the pandemic response.

Insert into this chaos that's choking our country, a presidential election where democracy, decency, and truth are at stake if Trump gets re-elected.

America is at a crossroad. I expect more days of rage as political battles become more intense leading up to election day. 

I'm hoping that enough days of rage from those fed up with Trump and his minions will be reflected in the ballot box this November, when Joe Biden is elected.

On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon
**Oregon State Parks
announced first list of campgrounds to reopen this spring.
(Photo - Cape Lookout State Park. Photo by Jamie Hale/The Oregonian)
There's a total of 33 campgrounds that will reopen to a first-come, first-served basis.

**Latest COVID-19 stats - There's been 4,086 cases of confirmed novel coronavirus statewide and 151 deaths. 

**Oregon state health officials haven't been disclosing all virus outbreak numbers. The scoundrels' admitted (after getting caught) large coronavirus outbreaks at workplaces were not being acknowledged. 

They claim they're going to stop concealing outbreaks after the latest case - Townsend Farms - became public and 53 workers were infected.

Being somewhat dubious about local governments (actually any government) I suspect there's nasty little reasons for fudging the numbers.

Quote for the Day; "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in the cage." - Billy Corgan

Friday, May 29, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 74: Societal Carnage Amidst the Coronavirus

Dear Diary,

If I were a black man, especially a young one, I'd be more afraid of cops than COVID-19. 

The coronavirus is a new challenge for minority communities who find it nearly impossible to social-distance because of poverty and tight living conditions.

But cops killing young black men goes back for decades. The killings have increased in the last five years where there's been over 1,000 cases (according to FBI records) of unarmed black men being killed while being taken into custody.

In a moment yesterday when Americans were reminded that 100,000 lives have been lost to the coronavirus, they were also confronted with watching a cop murder a non-violent black man on TV. It was an execution.

With onlookers begging the cop to take his knee off of George Floyd's neck - while he gasped for air and pleaded he couldn't breath - three other cops stood by and looked uninterested at what was unfolding before their eyes.

I felt a cold chill watching how indifferent the cops were as their partner crushed Floyd's neck while taunting him to "get up." Floyd later died from his injuries.

The outrage was immediate and culminated two days ago with riots in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where a Target store was burned down and looted. Tension in the city is still high today as officials promise investigations and justice.

The four officers were fired, and are facing an investigation into their actions that could lead to criminal sentences - and possibly death for the officer with his knee on Floyd's neck (although I don't think it would go that far).

What really horrifies me is seeing people murdered because of the color of their skin. There's no nice way of getting around the fact that racism in America is getting worse - not better.

I'm taking note of an insightful article from PBS called Racism in the Era of Trump: An Oral History, because it greatly expounds upon my observations.

On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon
**Twitter talk 
 As Trump was busy attacking social media outlets because they put a disclaimer in a couple of his tweets, an Oregon group that claimed voters' party affiliations were being changed without consent had it's account suspended by Twitter.

To my surprise, Facebook also labeled the group's lying propaganda "partly false" citing information about Oregon's elections system and directing readers to go to fact checking sites like nonprofit Politifact.

My surprise was that Zuckerberg actually took some action. He totally punks out when it comes to fact-checking Trump.

The group - "My party was changed Oregon" - and the Oregon Republican Party launched an effort to gather first-hand accounts from voters who say their party affiliation was changed without their consent.

I wasn't surprised to see that the information they were gathering went straight to Trump's re-election campaign. It was obviously designed to help promote Trump's attacks against voting by mail.

The website Gateway Pundit which Facebook says, "is known for publishing falsehoods and spreading hoaxes" was the original source of the false claim and was picked up by the group.

Quote for the Day; "Racism is a grown-ups disease, and we should stop using our kids to spread it." -Ruby Bridges

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 73: 'Off With Their Heads!' Trump's Social Media War

Dear Diary,

Since America has had to go down the rabbit hole with Trump, it's been anything but a wonderland.

His wanton destruction of norms, laws, ethics, and common civility, has demeaned the office of president.

Taking a look at Trump's latest assault against the First Amendment, we see another example of how far he'll go to suppress free speech he doesn't like.

Because Twitter finally ran a fact check below two of Trump's tweets, the tangerine tyrant lost it and screamed (in essence) "Off with their heads!"

In fact he threatened to "strongly regulate" or even "shut down social media platforms." They're both baseless threats that one would expect from a coward.

This form of bullying, which may have worked when he was a civilian, has met with stiff resistance from the courts who don't think he's above the law.

Nevertheless, Trump's attacks against the mainstream media have effectively inserted a "fake news" element that threatens truth-tellers who speak ill of him. 

Trump is a prolific liar and is devoid of shame. He repeats falsehoods about mail-in voting fraud, and conspiracies' about ex-Republican senator, and now TV host, Joe Scarborough, for news cycles as a diversion to his lack of leadership during the pandemic.

I expect Trump's war on all media platforms will get more intense as the months pass by during what is shaping up to be the ugliest presidential campaign in American history.

All Americans Deserve the Truth

Trump's daily Twitter rants distort facts, and have to be fact-checked constantly. 

The fact that Twitter even decided to take a stand (and fact- check him) surprised the hell out of me! It should be interesting to see how this battle between Trump and social media platforms escalates between now and November.

On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon

**Signs of summer - It was 91 degrees in Medford yesterday. Today is nearly as hot, and tomorrow looks to be the same. But... cool weather is on the way again as spring tries to cling on before fully surrendering to the heat of the summer.

**By the end of spring Oregon cities are going to look a bit more like Paris, Athens and Barcelona's Euro-style street seating to help restaurants reopen during the coronavirus.

Business owners from Portland to Medford have teamed up to craft plans that will allow restaurants and bars to take their tables and chairs out to the sidewalk, into nearby parking lots or even place them directly in the street.

I can't wait to see how this all works out. There might even come a time when I feel safe enough to dine out - outside that is.

**COVID-19 stats: The good news is no new deaths were recorded. The number is still at 148. There are now 4,038 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state.

Quote for the Day; "Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable." -Mark Twain

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 72: SpaceX Launch Signals New Phase for American Astronauts

Dear Diary,

No more catching rides with the Russians if today's manned SpaceX launch works out.

There's no guarantee it will however. The launch has to be in a split-second window (4:33 EST), or it's going to be called off. 

(Breaking news! The launch was called off due to the weather)

Instead of the usual cargo for SpaceX - a private company owned by Elon Musk who has been doing business with the US government/NASA since 2012 - today's payload is two astronauts!

Going from cargo capsules to astronauts marks the return of a space program that ended in 2011 with NASA's final space shuttle flight. It only seems fitting that the pilot of that mission is also going to be returning to space today.

Back in the saddle again. Veteran NASA astronaut Doug Hurley is set to make history again, this time with Bob Behnken. They'll be riding SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on a test flight.

If things don't turn out today, the next try would be Saturday. Liftoff slated for 4:33 EDT.

Trump/aka Cadet Bonespurs, and his puppet Pence will be at Kennedy Space Center with no face masks on to witness the historical moment.

I'm betting that Trump mentions his new Space Farce Force regardless of what happens today. 

The flag that his minions came up with is classical Trumpian - meaning they ripped the triangle logo off from Star Trek and put it on a blue field. 

On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon
**Updated COVID stats - 4,018 confirmed novel coronavirus cases and 148 deaths from the virus.

Stormy Daniels: 
a fictional comic book
and a new comic series

Remember Stormy Daniels?

She had an affair with Trump while Melania was pregnant, and he paid her hush money. The cat got out of the bag however. The case is still waiting to resume after Trump gets his ass kicked out of office.

What's she got to do with Oregon?

TidalWave Productions, a Portland publisher recently announced the arrival of a new biography comic book featuring Stormy Daniels.

"Female Force: Stormy Daniels" was created in conjunction with Daniels, who wrote the foreword to the book and edited the story herself.

In addition:

The Portland publisher is also releasing a comic book series called, "Infamous: Tiger King" another spinoff from Netflix's "Tiger King" series.

As an underground comic aficionado. I'm going to have to purchase these offerings. Maybe someday they'll be worth a lot of money. I've got Fabulous Furry Freak Brother comics from 1967, that start at $100 each.

Quote for the day; "Interstellar travel is like a flight to Australia on acid." -Stewart Stafford

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 71: Hemp for Victory? CBDs Take on the Coronavirus

Dear Diary,

All I can think about today is a recent study that shows strains of cannabis could help prevent or even treat coronavirus infections.
Hemp for Victory
Some plucky Canadian researchers from the University of Lethbridge  conducted a study in April that showed at least 13 cannabis plants that were high in CBDs (short for cannabidiol) appeared to affect the ACE2 pathways the virus uses to access the body.

In other words, CBDs can take on the coronavirus and keep it from harshing our highs.

The results, printed in an online journal Preprints, indicated hemp extracts high in CBD may help block proteins that provide a "gateway" for COVID-19 to enter host cells.

I'm a long-time marijuana user, supporter, and activist, since I smoked my first joint in high school. It's so good watching my favorite plant go mainstream, both for pleasure and for treating health (physical and mental) ailments.

You can take CBDs for chronic pain, or a strain high in THC, as a mood elevator. Now (if the study proves out) there's another way to combat COVID-19; as a preventive and to help fight depression from being forced to stay-at-home for months.

Both reasons for using cannabis are reflected in the abnormally high retail sales during the pandemic nationwide since February, for both CBD products (oils, tinctures, etc.), and dank strains of THC-laced cannabis flower.

One last fun fact about hemp. American farmers grew weed during WWII and it was used for making rope for the Navy. There was even a cool film made called Hemp for Victory

It looks like cannabis is here again, during another of America's greatest challenges.

On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon

**Oregon got 23 more confirmed cases (3,900 total thus far) of the novel Coronavirus, and no new deaths were reported.

**Some retailers are reporting good news. Bike sales have gone through the roof in the last two months. That's no surprise. Bike sales have gone up across the globe according to a Reuters article. 

**Still thinking 
about our Memorial Day Bar-B-Que. 

It was certainly a day to remember in these crazy times. 

We were all doing a lot of catching up, despite the fact it had only been a few months (longer for some).

You can't compare live human contact with skyping, texting, or a phone call. They all pale when it comes to really communicating in person.

Quote for the day; "America's health care system is in crisis precisely because we systematically neglect wellness and prevention." - Tom Harkin

Monday, May 25, 2020

Pandemic Diary Day 70: For Whom the Bells Toll This Memorial Day

Dear Diary,

I hold dear every life given towards preserving our republic since forming a more perfect union in 1776. Today, is set aside just for remembering those men and women who served in our military.

That said, I'm expanding upon the theme by remembering those veterans who've died from COVID-19 during this terrible pandemic.
For Whom The Bells Toll

VA hospitals and nursing homes have turned out to be hunting grounds for the coronavirus which is still raging throughout the country in 24 states, even as the nation began re-opening this Memorial Day holiday.

From what I've seen on the news, Saturday and (especially) Sunday, there was very little social-distancing and masks were scarce. Americans are too independent to follow rules for long.

In the Age of Trump even a pandemic can become political. Wearing face masks now define us as liberals, while conservatives proudly avoid wearing them. This disconnect between science and politics is going to cost thousands of more lives while the worldwide hunt for a vaccine continues.

Finally on this day of remembrance, I must also mourn all Americans who've died from COVID-19. I fear that the chaos is not behind us. I harken to what healthcare officials are warning will happen this winter... a double virus (COVID-19 and winter flu) attack.

If that happens, church bells will be tolling for our stricken society again.
On the Homefront - Medford, Oregon
1st get-together in a long time...
We had our three sons, one daughter-in-law, two grandsons, and our granddaughter, over for a traditional Memorial Day Bar-B-Que. (State regulations allow for gatherings of up to 10 people.)

It was kind of strange for Shirley and I. We've been isolating as much as possible the last couple of months. 

I felt awkward at times when I got too close to someone, even though they were my family. This virus has me on my toes.

I don't want to end up like those other veterans, fighting their last battle alone in a hospital. I survived Vietnam, and I intend to survive this pandemic. 

So, it was a leap of faith, hoping no one was asymptomatic, and unwittingly carrying COVID.

All the good food! A potluck for the ages. I enjoyed everything, but the oysters! Yuck! Seems like everyone in the family loves them, but me. 

It was a nice day. A memorable day. A day in the life.

Quote for the day; "Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it." - L.M. Montgomery 

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...