File this one under something for nothing is still nothing. Remember last fall when Congress sent out a second round of stimulus check in the amount of $600 per person? It was just prior to the election and at the time I thought that they were just trying to buy my vote, but free money is still money. We got our checks and have already spent the money, new bed and printer. Today our tax refund was finally deposited, light $1200. After much consternation, I figured out that my tax preparing software (TurboTax) had factored this Recovery Rebate Credit into our refund, with the idea that we hadn’t actually received our checks, which we had. Unfortunately, that created a false or higher than normal refund amount. It could be a case of operator error, but TurboTax leads you around by the nose, so I feel that it is their fault. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I guess that all this rigmarole also explains why it took the IRS so much longer than normal this year to refund my taxes, since I was claiming an extra $1200. Somehow I feel better now, after I’ve figured out that it was me trying to cheat the government, instead of the government cheating me. Me bad, but all’s well that ends well.
So far this year, we’ve started off with an insurrection, followed by an impeachment and then there was the inauguration. Those were the first three Wednesdays. This week’s Wednesday, yesterday, we had GameStop. What?!? You know the video game retailer, who hasn’t been doing too well as of late. The sharks of Wall Street, hedge fund managers, had planned on profiting from its down luck, but something happened on their way to the bank. Seeing GameStop down, these hedges decided to push it lower, by shorting its stock, wagering that its stock price would go even lower, but things didn’t work out for them as planned. Individual investors are often derided as “dumb money,” destined to lose their lot against the professionals who trade stocks for a living. But recently, many of these individual investors, followers of a popular Reddit page called Wall Street Bets, have upended the pros. Banding together these small investors put the squeeze on two hedge funds that had bet that GameStop’s shares would fall. These fund’s shorts, became a short squeeze and they were left in a pinch when their markers were called. I’ll leave you with comedian Avalon Penrose, who can explain it much better than I.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Anne and I are still waiting for our vaccines. We wait here in Missouri, which is fiftieth out of fifty, of states in vaccinations per capita, dead last. But heck, we have Josh Hawley, our own little Ted Cruz. What more could you want? Well, I want a shot, better make it a double, two rounds for the house. Alice and Chris have both had their shots. Alice is a doctor and Chris participated in a vaccine trial. He only had a 60% chance of getting the real deal, but has since learned that he lucked out. He even gets paid to get his shots. My brother Frank has gotten his first shot, but he has political pull. Anne’s father is scheduled to get his first shot on Monday. I’m trying to get a shot for my father. Where he lives, the county has a webpage, where one can sign up for an appointment, but they don’t have any spots left and there isn’t any way to even leave a name. To help him, I’ve hired a bot who will every five minutes look for any new appointments, if and when they become available. Anne and I are signed up through both our county and our doctors. They have taken our names, but we haven’t heard squat from them, but then we live in the state that is dead last in immunizations.
It snowed yesterday, only a couple of inches, but our first measurable snowfall of the season. Overnight, it turned quite cold, down into the teens. So, any snowmelt that we might have had turned to ice. Going out for the paper this morning, I slipped twice and fell once. Fortunately, I had my hand on the handrail, when I went down and landed without harm. A neighbor called out a warning to another neighbor, but that warning was already too late for me. So, how many more weeks of winter are there until spring?
Another day,… Which day is it now? They’ve all run together as in a blur.
Today, Friday (I knew which day it was.), is the 75th anniversary of V-E Day. The V-E stands for Victory in Europe, this is the day that the Nazis surrendered on, after six and a half years of fighting and suffering in Europe, during World War II. We however, after only about six and a half weeks are ready to throw in the towel, get up off of the couch and return to the life that we all once knew. Quarantine be damned! Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Joking aside and comparing our “sacrifice” to those of the Greatest Generation, is laughable.
Still, some people are unable to even to do so little. The wimpiness being exhibited by these people is pathetic and no joke. With cries of live free or die, clueless of the irony of that statement, some “very fine people”, read gun toting thugs, Nazi sympathizers and generally deplorable, run around waving their Confederate flags and call themselves patriots and think that they are brave.
Of course El Stupido, the agitator-in-chief, has egged on these people, simply because he believes that their actions will help his reelection chances. His advocating the reopening of the country will not change the direction that our economy is heading. It’s going down, down, down. Today’s 20M+ jobless numbers for April, that gives us a 15% unemployment rate are not going to be reversed anytime soon. It is just magical thinking to believe this. You might as well be seeing unicorns. Through his bumbling inaction and mistakes we has wrecked the US economy and it won’t be put together again before November.
The worse part of his plan is that we will be squandering the efforts that we have already made. The virus will be again unleashed and all of the people who have died, will soon be joined by many more. It will get a whole lot worse than it has been, but the Donald may not be around long enough to see all of the damage that he has wrought. Yesterday, it was announced that his personal valet had tested positive and today a Pence staffer also tested positive. In a Whitehouse that doesn’t practice social distancing, how many more infections will there be?
I cannot believe that the President, such an epitome of physical fitness will fare well, when he gets infected. Of course there is plenty of bleach around. Watch his twitter feed over the next few weeks, if there is a halt to his telltale hateful tweets, then we’ll all know that he has gotten it.
April 15th is tax day, except this year it isn’t. Because of the pandemic, this year the tax filing deadline has been delayed. I however filed my taxes way back in January and got my Federal refund shortly afterwards. It only took three years, but this year I finally got my state taxes settled to the point that I didn’t have to pay any penalty on them either. I still had to pay, but it was a mere pitance, thanks to finally getting my quarterly payments right. I didn’t have to, but yesterday, I went ahead and paid that pitance and because I was unsure as to whether today’s tax holiday extended to my quarterly payments for next year, I made that payment too. So, I’m good with Missouri now. It is probably just serendipity, but we got our stimulus checks today too. They were electronically and individually deposited, so I didn’t have to witness any signature from that person who shall-not-be-named. No, not Voldemort, but that other evil guy.
In other good news, I read an article today on how an Ohio couple has gone a long way in addressing our nation’s critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). A few weeks ago, the engineer husband and doctor wife were discussing this problem over the dinner table, when an idea hit them on how to clean used N95 face masks. With lightning speed, their eureka moment led to the development of a system do just that. Using a steel shipping container that has racks setup in it for hanging the masks, it is then filled with a hydrogen-peroxide gas that bathes and sanitizes the gear. A cycle takes about four hours, but by running it twenty-four hours, each unit can clean up to 80,000 masks a day. It is calculated that a mask can be cleaned in this way up to twenty times and still remain effective. Three units have already been deployed to the virus hotspots of NYC, Seattle and Boston. This week the Pentagon signed a contract for the deployment of sixty units. Plans are underway to see if these systems can be used to clean other types of PPE. An example of American ingenuity at work!
I saw this Western Union stock ticker, circa 1900 in the Smithsonian last year. I knew that when I snapped its picture that a day such as today would eventually arrive and the need for this image would become evident. With the largest point drop ever, in the 268 year long history of the NYSE, today was just such a day. This precipitous drop triggered the market’s circuit breakers, briefly halting trading. but their relief was only temporary. I’m sure that this crash was caused by all of those Democratic naysayers, who have sown fear and panic and has nothing to do with the policies of our illustrious Dear Leader. Not!
Trump holding a fundraiser for himself today as the stock market crashes and Coronavirus cases increase is a symbol of his entire presidency. After his golfing weekend, I am reminded of this 2014 Trump tweet, “It is almost like the United States has no President—we are a rudderless ship heading for disaster. Good luck, everyone!” That tweet didn’t age well. All it needs is for this metaphorical ship of state to be a Princess cruise ship, to make the irony complete.
Closer to home, the father of the woman first diagnosed in Missouri with the Coronavirus broke quarantine this last weekend, when he took his other daughter to a father-daughter dance. Two high schools are now closed to help quarantine his disregard for public health. Health officials have warned this Ladue man that any further containment infractions will meet with criminal action. It is a quirk of Saint Louis that one of the first questions that one is asked, when meeting another resident is, what high school did you go to? Not being a native, I was initially taken aback by this question, until I broke the code. This query is shorthand used to stereotype a person’s social-economic class. The two high schools that are closed are both high end private schools and Ladue is one of the wealthiest communities in the area. All of which leads me to believe that this individual is wealthy, self-entitled and doesn’t care about anybody, but himself. Does this sound like anyone else that you’ve heard of?
Anne and I are on Medicare and this week, I had my “Welcome to Medicare” physical and boy was it through. I won’t be sharing any of its details, except to say that when I finally returned to the front desk, the two receptionist were surprised to see me. They both thought that I had left the office long ago. I left feeling that I had been thoroughly poked, prodded and examined. I expect to be certified if not exactly healthy, at least grossly normal, when all of the tests are compiled. The only blip was that our longtime doctor announced his retirement.
I was checking the state of our exchequer and was pleasantly surprised to find that we are running significantly under budget for the year. I attribute this to two things: 1) Switching to Medicare, with its lower premiums than Obamacare and 2) Spending two months with the in-laws. We certainly paid our fair share of expenses at the cabin. I can still hear Harry complain about not being able to pick up all of the tabs, but both cost sharing and the low cost of living helped.
Hurricane Dorian has certainly made its presence felt. I hope that its intensity and erratic behavior does not signify that something else is going on, like Climate Change! It’s a good thing that Dorian “unexpectedly” swerved north, missing both Mar-a-Lago and Alabama.
The pictured Spanish doubloons are part of the Mel Fisher sunken treasure trove that is on display in Key West. Spanish treasure galleon Atocha was the source of the loot. It was sunk in a hurricane. The captain’s last words were probably something like, “I wish I had gone to Alabama instead.”