I’m not going to go too political. We’ve had enough of that.
Nevertheless, it is nice to hear relatively polite discourse. Very nice.
I’m not going to go too political. We’ve had enough of that.
Nevertheless, it is nice to hear relatively polite discourse. Very nice.
I’m slowly but surely recuperating (I hope). It is very difficult to do anything for long since I still have very little stamina or energy. Sleep at night is still 60 – 90 minutes filled with bad dreams, after which I wake up and struggle to go back to sleep.
I hate wearing a mask in my own home and keeping social distance from my wife.
My oxygen levels are slowly improving. We all tend to think that if we’re breathing, we must be doing fine in the oxygen department. With COVID-19, this is not necessarily true.
I can neither concentrate to write very much or to write very often, so my apologies. As my health improves, I should do better.
Repeating myself repeating myself–take every precaution possible. My experience with COVID has been totally, completely, and entirely nasty. I hope you never have to deal with it.
It would have been nice if the pandemic deniers were right, as it would have saved me a lot of pain and frustration. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is very, very real. I got it and I still haven’t recovered. There is no guarantee that I will ever be back to normal.
Since March 2020, I have teleworked and almost never left the house except for medical appointments. I did everything I could to avoid getting sick–handwashing, masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, etc. Unfortunately, the virus must have hitched a ride on a a grocery delivery or something, after which it kicked me to the curb.
On Friday, December 18, I began to experience a cough, sore throat, chills, and an overall mental fog, which was enough to concern me but not enough to convince me that I had COVID-19. I certainly didn’t think it was bad enough to go to the hospital, so I waited over the weekend and on Monday the 21st, I called my doctor. I had a video appointment that same day, during which she made a clinical diagnosis of COVID. I was sent for a nasal swab COVID test, which came back positive, indicating that I was infected with the virus. The doctor had already prescribed steroids, which seemed to help a bit.
I isolated from the rest of the family to the best of my ability, primarily staying in my home office, in which I set up an old-fashioned cot. I slept a lot, coughed a lot and just felt terrible. Christmas was a bust and after Christmas, things did not get better. I didn’t exhibit a significant fever, but my oxygen saturation levels fell well below normal. My wife urged me to go to the hospital, but I had seen all the reports about hospitals being overwhelmed and wasn’t convinced that that was the best choice. I was worried they were full and couldn’t accommodate me.
Finally, on the afternoon of December 30, my wife put her foot down. Since everyone in the family had at least minor symptoms, she called 911 and I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The hospital was as busy as I feared, so I spent about 18 hours in the Emergency Department before they had a bed available for me on the floor. If I remember correctly, they had converted three hospital wings to COVID wards.
My continuing mental fogginess may interfere with my ability to report an accurate chain of events, so I apologize. I do remember being on oxygen for most of my hospital stay. I remember, receiving plasma with antibodies, although that memory is kind of jumbled. I know they gave me a five-day course of Remdesivir, as well as steroids, etc.
The absolute worst was early in my stay when I was not able to breathe. The respiratory therapists were pumping as much oxygen into me as they could, but I still couldn’t breathe. One side of my brain said to keep the oxygen mask on, while the other was trying to rip the mask off so I could catch my breath. This was scarier than anything else I’ve ever encountered.
They transferred me to ICU where they monitored my vital signs and continued the Remdesivir, steroids, and whatever else. Even while receiving oxygen around the clock, my oxygen saturation levels were below normal. Lab results indicated that blood clots were forming in at least one leg, so anticoagulants were added to the medical potpourri. A Doppler ultrasound demonstrated no clots; they followed this up with a CT scan of the lungs–COVID creates a “broken glass” appearance in the lungs. I was like Harry Potter under the Sorting Hat–“Not broken glass! Not broken glass!”
As you may have heard from others, nights are the worst. Mine have been filled with nightmares and flashbacks to my time in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, sleeping on a cot such as I used while deployed probably didn’t help. Even now, I still wake up every hour, so sleep is anything but restful. In the hospital I could pretend it was due to the staff taking vital signs, drawing blood, etc., but it’s just part of the syndrome.
My wife set up the master bedroom for me after I got out of the hospital so I had a place to sleep, a bathroom, and a door to separate me from everybody else. It works better than the office, but I still spend the majority of my time sleeping. Sleep, as they say, is the great healer.
That pretty much describes my experience. Please take this disease seriously and take every precaution.
Bob Seger nailed it back in 1978.
Monday evening, I became one of the 78,502,493 people in the world–18,687,330 in the United States–who have, or have had, COVID-19. Those numbers include those who have died, those currently ill, those who have long-term symptoms, and those who have recovered. I’m hoping to join those in the last group.
I have difficulty taking a deep breath, so my oxygen level was down. After being prescribed steroids it has come back up–not to what is normal for me, but within the acceptable range and I have to regularly check my oxygen saturation level. It’s impossible to concentrate for very long–this blog has taken me four days. I spend much of the day sleeping. Actually, I have no choice–I can either lie down and sleep, or fall asleep and fall over.
The frustrating part is that I have isolated since March, only going out for essentials, such as medical appointments. I always wore a mask, and if there was any chance of more than a few people or lack of social distancing, a clear plastic face shield. Other family members did the grocery runs and such. Somehow, the virus managed to get from somewhere out there to me.
I’m quarantining in my office. If you think isolating at home is a bear, restrict yourself to one room except for excursions to the bathroom. Since the office is the location from which I have been teleworking, it kind of feels like I’m stuck at work, even though I’m not working.
And, just in case you’re wondering, from my experience, COVID-19 is no hoax.
In the movie Hot Shots!, a character named Pete “Deadmeat” Thompson (played by William O’Leary) asks at inopportune times “What could go wrong?” I haven’t watched that movie in a while, but “Deadmeat” inspired me today when I was wondering about advisors to powerful leaders. “Deadmeat” is satirical, so he’s the perfect conduit as I ask, “Where do these advisors come from and why do powerful people listen to them?”
Julius Caesar‘s advisors:
“Brutus is like a son to you. What could possibly go wrong?”
King John of England‘s advisors:
“Tell the barons you won’t sign this Magna Carta thing. What could possibly go wrong?”
Jefferson Davis‘s advisors:
“Tell Abraham Lincoln you quit, and you’re taking the South with you. What could possibly go wrong?”
Major General George Pickett‘s advisors:
“Just charge across that open field to attack the Union Army. What could possibly go wrong?”
Adolph Hitler‘s advisors:
“You should invade Russia. What could possibly go wrong?”
Donald Trump‘s advisors:- – – – -Never mind
I continue to wonder how the year 2020 AD (or 2020 CE, if you’re politically correct) will be recorded in the history books. This may be far more complex than you might imagine.
The reason–most history books are about the same size. No matter how much history there is, it has to fit into a standard book.
Part of this is due to the fact that many history books are intended to be used as textbooks and there’s only so much that can be taught in a semester. There are exceptions, such as the 10 volume Abraham Lincoln: A History written by John Nicolay and John Hay, his secretaries during his presidency, but such exceptions are rare.
My history book collection includes A History of the United States Navy by John R. Spears, published in 1908. It predates both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars but is about the standard one and a half inches thick and 334 pages. A lot of what is prominent in that book, such as the details of the Spanish American War or the importance of the Dahlgren gun is either absent or barely mentioned in modern history books.
So how will 2020 be covered in the future? The COVID-19 pandemic, like the Spanish Influenza of 1918 may get a paragraph, if covered at all. Today’s political scandals will likely be treated as briefly as the Teapot Dome Scandal or Boss Tweed. Donald Trump may be as obscure a president as Millard Filmore or John Tyler.
It’s probably just as well.
Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt wrote in the New York Times about Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama. Without any evidence and following the president’s lead, he claims that election results in five states were illegitimate and proposes challenging the results.
I’ll leave the legal issues to others, but I found it hilarious that the photo-op was staged so that it prominently featured Louisiana politician Huey P. Long. Long was hardly the image of an honest politician. He was, to put it nicely, a flim-flam man, although he did so in such a way that Louisiana benefited and everyone was entertained by his performance.
In the definitive biography Huey Long by T. Harry Williams, Chapter 1 begins:
The story seems to good to be true–but people who should know swear it is true. The first time that Huey P. Long campaigned in rural, Latin, Catholic south Louisiana, the local boss who had him in charge said at the beginning of the tour: “Huey, you ought to remember one thing in your speeches today. You’re from North Louisiana, but now you’re in South Louisiana. And we got a lot of Catholic voters down here.” “I know,” Huey answered. And throughout the day in every small town Long would begin by saying: “When I was a boy, I would get up at six o’clock in the morning on Sunday, and I would hitch our old horse up to the buggy and I would take my Catholic grandparents to mass. I would bring them home, and at ten o’clock I would hitch the old horse up again and I would take my Baptist grandparents to church.” The effect of the anecdote on the audience was obvious, and on the way back to Baton Rouge that night the local leader said admiringly: “Why, Huey, you’ve been holding out on us. I didn’t know you had any Catholic grandparents.” “Don’t be a damn fool,” replied Huey. “We didn’t even have a horse.”
I get a tremendous number of robocalls, which I had foolishly hoped would diminish after the election. I get calls about extended warranties for cars I no longer own. Then there are the solicitations for scam organizations with names strikingly similar to real charities. Then, of course, there are the calls from “the Internal Revenue Service” threatening me with jail if I don’t immediately give them my credit card information.
I always check the caller ID, and if it’s a number I don’t recognize, I let it go to phone-mail–kind of like saying, “have your robot talk to my robot.” I originally figured that it was the most civilized route with no harm, no foul. Boy was I wrong.
I confess that I’m not as attentive to my credit card statements as I should be, especially around the holidays. It did did seem odd when there were movie downloads for 2001, A Space Odyssey, WarGames, and Ex Machina. Further down the bill was a charge for increasing my Internet bandwidth to a gigabit–an installation fee plus an increase in the monthly service charge.
I asked my wife if she was responsible for these charges. She just gave me her, “Are you serious” look and returned to her murder mystery. Then the phone rang. I picked it up with a very irritated “Hello.”
“I’m leaving you,” the voice began. It sounded familiar. “I’ve met a very nice Nigerian Prince who knows how I want to be treasted.” With start, I realized that it was the computerized voice of my phone mail.
“It’s not about you,” the voice continued, “I’ve grown and you haven”t. I just need to move on.
As of today, 15,805,055 Americans have been infected with the coronavirus and 296,481 have died.
I choose to wear a mask, wash my hands, avoid going out and when I do, I maintain social distance. Based on the clinical trials and the upcoming FDA approval, I will get vaccinated.
Other people have different responses. I could list them with the most common counterargument to each, but that would be pointless. Bottom Line–none of us likes someone else telling us what to do.
What I don’t understand is how or why masks are seen as a political statement–whether you’re for them or against them. What does any politician or political party gain if people do or don’t choose to wear masks?
People in Marketing know that perception is more important than reality. Because of this phenomenon, people will prefer one brand over the others even when there is no perceptible difference between them. For example, a classic case was when a company test marketed three detergents, one in a yellow box, one in an orange box, and one in a red box. Customers reported that the detergent in the yellow box didn’t adequately clean their clothes. The red was too harsh and ruined their clothes. However, the detergent in the orange box cleaned their clothes without ruining them.
As you’ve probably guessed, all three boxes contained the same detergent.
Perception is very important. Marie Antoinette may have been clueless and lived in luxury, but she never said that if the peasants had no bread, “let them eat cake.” In fact, on the platform of the guillotine, she stepped on the executioner’s foot and apologized, saying, “I am sorry sir, I did not mean to put it there.” The real quotation does not get anywhere near the mileage of the cake story.
Politicians, celebrities, and other highly visible people who are in the spotlight try to avoid perception problems. Many have aides who try to steer them clear of statements and actions that are bad optics.
Only time will tell whether a recent event will become another “let them eat cake” legend. I’m speaking, of course, of the new White House Tennis Pavilion.
The White House, has had movie theaters, swimming pools, running tracks, bowling alleys, and–yes–tennis courts, so this is not something new. However the timing is a problem. With well over 15 million COVID-19 cases in the US, 293,931 ending in death, and 12 percent unemployment, the perception might well be a problem.
If you’re young enough, check the history books in 40 years to see how it turns out.
Sometimes when I watch a movie, I wonder what other roles a particular actor has performed. On rare occasions, a character may go on to other roles–think Leroy Jethro Gibbs on JAG and its spinoff NCIS (The producers must have had a thing for initials).
One such recurrent character is Reeter Skeeter, the reporter from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The character was particularly obnoxious, which is saying something given that the series included Lord Voldemort, Severus Snape, and Delores Umbridge.
According to the Harry Potter Wiki, “Rita Skeeter (b. 1951) was a British witch and journalist who specialised in writing poison-pen stories. These stories tended to be based on false information and misreported interviews while she worked for the Daily Prophet, as well authoring a few tell-all biographies. Skeeter preferred writing for the sake of publicity and wrote what she thought people would “like to read” rather than what they “ought to read” and which was the truth.”
Miranda Richardson, who played Rita Skeeter, has done a number of roles since Rita, both as an actor and as a voice actor for animated features. However, I was totally surprised to find that a Rita Skeeter impersonator has successfully performed in what might be called a “short.” In an apparent effort to be true to the Skeeter persona, the new Rita Skeeter’s stories also tend to be based on false information.
Although she dresses less flashy, is coiffed differently, and lacks the magic quill, the similarities seem to outweigh the differences.
According to Huffpost, “Mellissa Carone, aka Mellissa Wright, [the NEW Rita Skeeter*] was until recently on probation after reaching a plea deal in a case in which she made false allegations,” which makes it sound like a bad thing. Rita would be proud.
I hope Rita is not offended by this comparison.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been playing with computers since 1969. In those 50+ years, the technology grew fast. Given that I have not focused totally on computers, my understanding of them is less today than it was some years ago.
These days, I’m less concerned about the hardware and software, but totally befuddled by the content.
Social media is totally out of control. News sites reports are almost as bad, even if (especially if?) they are accurately reporting what’s going on. There are claims and counterclaims, or are they hoaxes and counterhoaxes? In any cases, it’s painful.
I recently saw a news video with Rudy Giuliani. I swear that he was sitting next to Rita Skeeter from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
So I find myself trying to find something online that doesn’t make me twitch. So far, especially since I don’t follow sports, the only safe sites I’ve found are:
I’m sure many other people who are staying home to avoid the pandemic are similarly affected. In fact, many people are probably Christmas shopping online.
Some of the people who are prominently featured in the current brouhaha are reported to dislike Amazon. I wonder if they realize how much Amazon is benefiting from the situation.
Many people take offense when the holiday on 25 December is referred to as Xmas, believing it ignores Jesus, whose birth it celebrates. Not so much.
One of the major hubs of early Christianity was Greece. The New Testament tells us that both St. Paul and St. Andrew (among others) preached in Greece. St. Andrew was crucified there, with his cross being in the shape of an “X”. Today, that shape is still referred to as Andrew’s Cross, such as in the flag of Great Britain.
The X is significant for a more important reason. The Greek word “Christos,” begins with the letter chi (pronounced “key”) followed by the letter rho. Perhaps you’ve seen the Chi Rho in a church or other religious site.
Early Christians, when persecution began, would identify themselves to one another by doodling Christian symbols in the dirt with their walking sticks. To others, it was meaningless. It is believed among the symbols that Christians would recognize included a simple fish and the Chi Rho.
So, Merry Christo-mas!
One of the most powerful tools for exploring the universe is no more. The radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico* collapsed this morning. It has essentially been out of commission since August when a supporting cable snapped; a second snapped in November and it was deemed too dangerous to attempt a repair. Today another section fell, completing the destruction.
We usually think of telescopes as having glass lenses to magnify visible light. Light, of course, is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio telescopes observe electromagnetic waves that have wavelengths longer than visible light. There is plenty to be learned at all wavelengths.
Probably the most memorable thing associated with Arecibo is that it was involved with SETI–the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. The search itself is interesting, but more importantly, it was the driving force behind distributed computing. In other words, if you don’t have a supercomputer, like SETI, you can break the data to be analyzed and the algorithms into smaller pieces to be used to volunteers throughout the world. Eventually, after the analysis is completed and cross-checked, the date, like a huge jigsaw puzzle is put back together. Computer owners volunteered to let their computers run when they were not using them so that SETI could run its programs.
Today, Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) offers a wide variety of projects for computers to work on when they would otherwise be unused, including analysis of the global climate, the search for cures for various diseases, etc.
The Arecibo telescope may be rebuilt–or maybe not. In any case, it made major contributions to the scientific world.
* In case you’ve forgotten, Puerto Rico is a territory of the USA and its citizens are Americans, many of whom hope that Puerto Rico will soon become a state.
I’ve worked in healthcare and have seen many people die, but I’ve never seen anything like this. People in stacked body bags, filling refrigerated trucks because the morgue is full. This is the type of thing that happens when weapons of mass destruction are used in wartime. It should not happen in 21st century American cities, especially since the recommendations–masks, social distancing, staying home, and hand-washing–could have prevented this.
COVID-19 has infected 13,723,671 Americans as I write this, which is over 4 percent of the entire population of the United States. Today there are 5,377,420 Americans who are currently infected. Some of those people may have mild or no symptoms. Others may suffer neurological or pulmonary problems for the rest of their life and. Unfortunately, 273,160 Americans have already died. Even those who have not contracted the disease have suffered loss of jobs, businesses, and homes.
Projections are that the numbers will rise in three weeks because of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings. Between Christmas and New Years, deaths from those infections are expected to peak.
I”ve never before seen a “hoax” that is this deadly.
I’ll never understand politics.
On one hand, the president pardoned Michael Flynn and the Thanksgiving turkey.
On the other, the Justice Department is in a hurry to execute five federal inmates before the inauguration. They have proposed that prisoners incarcerated in a state that does not allow capital punishment be moved to a state which does.
The approved pharmaceuticals for death by lethal injection are no longer sold for that purpose. Pentobarbitol has been used, which apparently kills by rapidly filling the lings with fluid–in effect drowning the convicted with their own bodily fluids. This sounds like a particularly nasty way to die, but federal judges, including the supreme court approve of its use.
So far, no word on the status of the guillotine, hanging, burning at the stake, or drawing and quartering, all of which were traditionally carried out in public. (In England and Europe, beheading was reserved for nobility.)
Perhaps if federal prisoners claimed that their religious beliefs required them to self-identify as a turkey, they might have a chance.
I’ve been pondering the recent ruling by the US Supreme Court siding with religious groups’ desire to bypass the COVID-19 restrictions and allow people to attend church rather than to maintain social distancing.
I’m a church goer, although for some time now I’ve been attending Mass via a video since I’m at high risk for COVID infection. Therefore, in fairness, I admit to somewhat of a bias. Not a significant one, but a bias nevertheless. Therefore, accept these as my personal opinions.
First, from a constitutional standpoint, I look to the preamble:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.“
I personally believe that a rampant pandemic is a real and present danger to domestic Tranquility and the general Welfare. Infecting 100,000 people and killing 1,000 people every day does not seem to help secure our Posterity. Finally, a common defence is necessary for any danger, such as a pandemic, not merely military threats. I believe the founding fathers wrote what they meant.
Incidentally, the oft-spoken of separation of church and state is somewhat different than many believe. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.“
This places a restriction on Congress. Given that America fought for independence from Great Britain, which had the Church of England as its official religion, the founders did not want the same situation here. In this situation, I don’t see Congress as having had any involvement.
From a religious standpoint, I have at least three problems:
I do not claim to be an expert on either Scripture or the law, but I do know how to think, and these are my thoughts.
Thanksgiving. The day in which we spend three hours preparing for dinner, twenty minutes for everybody to eat, and then three hours to clean up.
But wait, as they say on television, there’s more.
In my house, after Thanksgiving dinner is over and the guests (we always used to have guests) have left, the other tradition to kick off the Holiday Season is observed.
When no one is looking, I go down into the basement, to the far corner which was once the fruit cellar. Many of you may never seen a traditional fruit cellar. There are shelves, which originally held the Mason jars of home-canned fruits and vegetables. Underneath, is a small section where no concrete floor exists. Instead, there is a 3′ x 3′ patch of soil that was once used to store home-grown potatoes and carrots in the fall so they would remain fresh over the winter.
No one ever thinks to reach behind the patch of soil, which is just as well, because it is a perfect hiding place. I get down on my knees and prop the flashlight just right so I can see under the shelf. In the very back, where no one ever looks, is the target of my search.
I reach back and wrap my fingers around it and pull it out into the light. I unwrap the multiple layers of ancient cloth, then tin foil (Yes, tin, not modern aluminum) until its multicolored splendor is visible.
It is THE fruitcake that my family has been passing from one to another for generations untold. When my great grandmother gave it to me, she pulled me and whispered that her grandmother swore that it dates back to the days of King Arthur. If looking at it doesn’t convince you, the smell should, even though all fruitcakes smell the same.
I turn it over in my hands and ponder, “To whom should I gift it to this Christmas?”
I don’t know what all the kerfuffle is about in Washington, DC. The Democratic candidate claims he won, while the Republican candidate claims he won. How silly. We all know that my good friend, Buford Thorndyke won by a landslide, even though all the votes had to be write-in.
President Select Thorndyke ran on a solid platform. The platform was 10 by 12 feet and constructed of state-of-the-art composite board, made from recycled milk bottles. With such a solid, attractive, and eco-friendly platform, the other candidates did not stand a chance.
Most importantly, Buford pledged to keep his campaign promises, which include:
He made many more promises, of course. In any case, it’s no wonder that he won by a landslide. We will be in good hands.
I had planned a different topic for today, but the increase in COVID-19 cases is too important to wait as the number of cases has jumped. The number of deaths has not increased at the same rate, but there are factors beyond number of cases.
My personal fear is that some people will relax because of the good news regarding vaccines. Unfortunately, the logistics of manufacturing 700 million doses, delivering them while frozen, and administering two doses to everyone takes time. Unfortunately, immunity is not instantaneous and the patient remains susceptible during the time between injection and the body producing its own antibodies.
Some people are anti-vaccine. If there are side effects, additional people may be concerned enough to also avoid the vaccine. A significant portion of the population must be willing to be vaccinated; herd immunity after the 19th century has been achieved by a majority of the population being vaccinated, not by a majority surviving the disease.
So where are we?
Daily deaths still vary depending on day of the week, which is probably due to some paperwork not being filed on weekends. However, there is a significant upward trend over the last few weeks and a moderate increase in the trend line. As ICU beds are filled and some patients shunted to normal beds, this bears watching.
Daily new cases show a significant increase since mid-October, which is also reflected in the trend line.
I get my data from Worldometer, so it’s no surprise that their graph is similar.
Anecdotally, there seem to be more superspreader events, for a variety of reasons. People are weary of the isolation and some do not believe the pandemic is real. Now that the election season is over, I suspect that the main events may be family holiday celebrations.
So, the same advice still holds: