Marking Time

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. 

Pay Unto Caesar

Thirty Pieces of Silver

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!


1900 Stock Ticker

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?

Pieces of Eight

Pieces of Eight

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.”

Money, Money, Money

George Washington Looks Upon the NYSE

High atop the front steps of Federal Hall, where he was first inaugurated, stands a statue of George Washington. He looks down on Wall Street and across it upon the New York Stock Exchange. This is the financial center of the world. This morning, we headed out to West County to visit our broker and our own little financial center. Afterwards for lunch, we dined out at Yen Ching. At the end, we got fortune cookies. Mine said, “An important discussion involving you will take place today.” This seemed more like post-diction than prediction. Anne’s said, “Your luck will soon be at a high point.” To which she quipped that it is all downhill from here. Our diagnostic meeting confirmed that our finances are in order and as far as retirement goes, everything is going according to plan, but as they say, past performance is not indicative of future results. Continued vigilance is required, but at least we are on the right path for now. 

The Rot Has Set In

Unusual Brick Erosion at Fort Zachary Taylor

Pictured is part of the ceiling of one of the enclosed ramparts at Fort Zachary Taylor, which is located in Key West. Shown is some unusual erosion in the ceiling’s brickwork. Normally, the mortar around the bricks erodes first, but in this instance the reverse has occurred, the bricks have eroded, leaving raised rings of mortar still standing around each one. Fort Taylor, once a 19th-century coastal fortification, is now a state park. So, what we see here is a situation where the center has rotted-out first, leaving just a crumbling shell. I offer this oddity as segue to a discussion of our current administration’s plight.

Roiled since its inception, President Trump’s Whitehouse is now facing daily defections. This soap opera has played out accompanied by the steady drumbeat of the Russian investigation. Trump’s lashing out in frustration on Twitter serves only as counterpoint, but recently a new wobble has developed. First there was DACA and then gun control, in both cases Trump had first publicly adopted a position counter to GOP orthodoxy, only then to retreat in the face of blowback.

Now, he has moved on to tariffs. Yesterday, he proposed new tariffs on metals. The markets immediately panicked. Next week’s deadline for implementation allows plenty of time for this latest self-inflicted crisis to dominate the news and then generate opposition, before it also cravenly slinks away. However, unlike guns or DACA, which both required congressional cooperation to succeed, Trump can impose these tariff unilaterally. Always on the hunt for a win, no matter what, he might just pursue his course and let the world be damned.