Any Functioning Adult

Any Functioning Adult – 2020

We got out yesterday, for a walk with a purpose. Anne had produce four of her DIY face masks. She packaged them with some of the newly rediscovered professional masks, dredged up from the depths of our dungeon. We trooped up to the post office, to mail her package. While, I waited outside, Anne ventured into its confines, all the while trying to maintain a safe social distance. Inside, she met an NYC medical school student, now home for the duration. He said that the school had just last night graduated its senior class, throwing those students into this developing firestorm. I hope that her meeting doesn’t come back to bite us?!? The poor postal worker was wearing a face mask and gloves, all the while complaining about her heart condition. Immediately afterwards, I doused Anne with hand sanitizer.

It was such a beautiful day that we decided to extend our walk. A neighbor and former colleague hailed us as he drove by, as he was coming home from work. He turned his truck around so that we could talk. I lamented to him about all of our travel plans that are now kaput, while he filled me in on the goings on at Boeing. Any employee who can work from home is now doing so. The classified nature of his work makes his working from home impossible.

Consequently, he has been dubbed an “essential” employee. A designation, which still allows him to work. There has been some illness about, but so far only in other buildings. There is a lot more tele-conferencing going on and meetings are now limited to ten people. He expects that this will all change, once the first case arrives in his area.

The mail had arrived, by the time that we had returned home. Among the junk, there were two items of note: Yet another glossy cruise catalog (Really?) and a postcard entitled, “President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.” This was in all caps and in the largest font printed on the card. It was actually from the CDC, but that fact was relegated to the card’s lower right corner. The message on its back was a laundry list of personal health actions that have been oft repeated throughout this epidemic (You should know them all by now.) and have been contravened by many of Trump’s own public statements.

In this vein, news has come to me that Trump’s reelection committee has issued a cease and desist order, directed at a Democratic PAC’s advertisement (See below). In this ad Trump in his own words voices over a graph that shows the number of Coronavirus cases in America versus time. Including statements like, “This is their new hoax”, “We have it totally under control”, “It’s one person coming in from China”, “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear” and “When you have 15 people and within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” It ends with his statement, “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”

The US will in two days¹ have more COVID-19 cases than either China or Italy.

  1. Today—Is this what Trump always meant by “America First?”

Who Was That Masked Man

Jason Mask

Yesterday was a day, but we got through it. Thank you, for all of the messages of condolence. They really helped. Life goes on and we shall carry on too.

Speaking of carrying on, they’re back. The water company that is. After being off for more than a week, the water company resumed their work. Last week they were off because of the rain and this week they were off because of the plague, but today they returned with a bang and then another bang and another. Did I mention that this all started before seven? A modern descendent of the classic Mike Mulligan style steam shovel was pile driving the pavement, right outside our house. There wasn’t just the noise, but the whole house was shaking, as each pile drive broke up the street in front of the house.

After being off so long, the construction workers attacked their work with more than their accustomed vigor. I eventually ventured outside. Today is garbage day and with yesterday’s rain, I hadn’t yet put any of our carts out to the curb. I had to time my placement of the carts with the swinging bucket of the steam shovel. It was busy dumping asphalt into a dump truck that was waiting on our side of the street. With each swing of the shovel’s bucket, chunks of asphalt went flying everywhere. In the end, I only put out one cart. The others didn’t seem worth it.

Anne has temporarily suspended her regular knitting and quilting projects to begin making face masks. A call has gone out to anyone who has a sewing machine and knows how to use it. She has plenty of decorative material, has found patterns online and has begun sewing her heart out. Before this epidemic really got going here in America, I bought a package of twenty commercial face masks. We will be looking at layering these with Anne’s home made ones. Anne also got the idea of checking out the basement. Over the years, with plenty of past painting projects, there are way too many nearly empty old paint cans down there, but we also found a few other face masks. Unused and in their original packaging they still look pretty good, even if they are of unknown age. Among this lot were a few of that holy grail of face masks, the N95 kind. We will triage them and then be distributing most of them in the days to come.

We also found this Jason style Halloween mask that somehow got mixed in with the regular kind. Dave got this mask and last wore it when he was still young enough to go trick-or-treating. That ought to give you an idea of how old the other masks are. We went out with a friend, who was dressed in a business suit, with tie and brief case. He was going as Dave’s lawyer. Dave wore the hockey mask, a Blues jersey and a pair of roller blades, which we wore as he scrambled up-and-down all of the front steps in this neighborhood. With his lawyer in tow, Dave was going as the lawsuit yet to happen. They made for a truly scary pair.

White Aster Flower

White Flower

Yesterday, I crowed about Dan’s involvement in his newly released movie, Blow the Man Down and how great I thought that it was. I still do. In this movie, the protagonists are the two Connolly sisters. Coincidently, weeks ago, I had agreed to host a pair of real world Connolly sisters for a night, on their journey from Chicago to points further west. Saint Louis is always on your way to somewhere west. I guess that’s why we call ourselves the gateway to the west. I had become increasingly concerned about this rendezvous, as the epidemic continued to grow. Today, the Illinois governor issued a statewide shelter-in-place edict and I reached out to one of these sisters, to see if she still hoped to travel. Fortunately, through a miscommunication, they had abandoned this trip long ago and we just were not informed. I will sleep much better now tonight. Thank you, very much.

This cancelation pretty much clears our schedule. All of our outstanding theater tickets are well on their way to cancelation. We are free and clear to shelter in place. I’ll shop until I feel that it is too dangerous, then I’ll switch to delivery.

Anne and I spent hours on the phone today, speaking with Harry, Dan & Britt, my Dad and Alice & Chris. The big news of the day came from NYC. Move over Seattle, the Big Apple is now #1, the national Coronavirus hotspot. Dan and Britt might have already come down with and then survived the virus. Both of them were ill this last week, but with only mild flu-like symptoms. They have both recovered and are now self-quarantining themselves. Some co-workers were more seriously ill, but now also appear to be on the road to recovery. They won’t likely know for sure, for quite some time. This is because New York is now limiting testing to only healthcare workers and people who have been hospitalized. So much for anybody who wants a test can have one and all of the other bullshit that is being spewed daily from the Whitehouse.

On the left coast, my Dad and brother Chris are sheltering in place and because they had stocked up on enough food in anticipation of our visiting them, they have not had to go shopping for some time. We both agreed that our cancelling of our trip out there was the right thing to do, especially since the governor shut the state down only hours after we would have flown out. Talk about the last flight out. Frank, my other brother is a county supervisor and is very busy these days. Even though his rural county has reported no Coronavirus cases yet, he is working seven days a week preparing for their arrival. 

We offer you this nine minute diversion from all this. Anne loved it as did I. Her testimonial carries more weight though, with this video being about a first grade teacher and Anne having just completed an extended stint in that grade. I might also tout her expertise in teaching math, but that would just be piling on. Enjoy!

Spanish Flu / Pangolin Revenge

Chinese Headband with Bat Design – Made with Kingfisher Feathers, 19th Century

We walked this afternoon. It was almost fifty and I was surprised at how many people were out walking around too. Kids were out playing together. Dog walkers were everywhere. In our neighborhood, there are sidewalks on both sides and along Wydown, the main drag, there are also additional lanes. When another walker approached, we simply switched sides. Ours and others dancing in the streets was all unspoken, but I think that our actions and that of some of the other pedestrians, were obvious to all. We were able to maintain our safe social distance, but still I was concerned. With warmer weather and nothing else to do people will migrate outside in greater numbers than usual. If the epidemic progresses as it has in Italy, the authorities might even prohibit this modest release from cabin fever.

Cycle Zydeco, our planned April bicycle trip to Louisiana, has announced that it is offering vouchers for next year or refunds. It hasn’t cancelled yet, but… Our 2020 vacation schedule is quickly collapsing.

The outdoor floor show that is the water company’s replacement of the water main continues to amuse. They’ve paved over the portion of the street, where plastic pipe was laid, with concrete. Our street has always had asphalt paving. Maybe the concrete is there to protect the new pipes? What do you say, Jay?

I had a little bird, its name was Enza.
I opened up the window and in flew Enza.
— 1918 children’s rhyme

I made the mistake tonight of watching the episode of the PBS series American Experience on the 1918 flu epidemic, the so-called Spanish flu. It is freely available to watch, just Google it. It was the last year of World War I, when the epidemic began at an army base in Kansas. One day, first one soldier became ill, then soon hundreds of them did and they started dying even soon after. Unlike our current epidemic, where the elderly are the most susceptible, this flu was most deadly to young adults. This was a time, when we didn’t even know there was such a thing as a virus. This show was produced on the centennial of the epidemic, so the few people who were still alive, were only small children back then and only had a child’s memory of the events. The hopelessness that the people felt back then was horrible, but the disease burned its self out after a year or so and was soon forgotten afterwards, until this next time.

The 1918 pandemic was most commonly known as the Spanish flu. Not that this flu originated there, it didn’t, but in 1918 all of the other first world countries were at war and also under strict wartime censorship. Neither side reported their epidemics, leaving only neutral Spain to shoulder the burden and the blame. It is believed that the Corona virus originated in a so-called wet market in the city of Wuhan, China. The virus is thought to have originated with a bat, but in order to facilitate its transmission to humans, an intermediary animal is hypothesized. The most likely candidate for this intermediary is also the most trafficked animal on the planet, the Pangolin.

Clara Barton to the Rescue

Clara Barton’s Ambulance, 1898

Saint Louis area officials have banned all gatherings of fifty people or more. The CDC is recommending that these types of bans remain in place for eight weeks. All area schools will close this week. Anne’s school is already closed for spring break and now will not reopen afterwards. These school closings are only scheduled to continue for a few weeks, but likely will last longer, possibly for the remainder of the school year. Illinois had already closed all of its schools statewide and this week will close all restaurants and bars. Missouri is contemplating similar closings and I expect will soon follow suit.

We have already lost two people dear to us this month. We don’t suspect that either of them had succumb to the Corona virus, but they were both members of our “OK, Boomer” generation and the causes of their deaths are still unknown. It is always one of the first questions asked, “What did they die of?” It is sometimes a sensitive question and in the end the result is the same. Anyway, a person’s life is more important than just their end. As we await the tsunami that has already washed upon our shores, my dark thoughts cannot be held at bay. I apologize for them here, but it helps me to vent.

Much has been made of the President and his government’s bungling response to this epidemic. Mistakes were made. There is the problems with the testing, the mixed messages from the President and the testing debacle. Did I mention testing? I certainly have not been shy about heaping scorn upon him and he certainly deserves his share of blame, a share that he seems unwilling to accept. I hope come November, he pays the price for his hubris, but I fear that the American people will have to bear a much greater price before then.

I broke quarantine this morning, to go to the grocery store. I have been limiting my visits there and had not gone since last week. I went early, hoping to beat the maddening crowd, but the parking lot was already full. So much for my plan to avoid any interpersonal contact. Was there a snowstorm or something that I missed? Some of the shelves were fine, but many were bare or nearly so. I got in and out as quickly as I could, all the while lathering myself with sanitizer.

Word is that now the grocery stores are curtailing their hours, making it so that we customers have to squeeze together even more than before. Most of Galleria has closed and the zoo has closed too. I expect that the other attractions around town will be closing down soon too.

Powerful Medicine

Lakota Doctor’s Bag, 1890

Love in the time of corona. I’m going to wash those germs right off my hands. I will survive! All possible future blog post titles in these most unusual of times. Now, for the news. Dan texted us that his carpenter/reality TV gig in LA is still a go. They messaged him, asking for his apron size. We both had the same initial response, aprons come in sizes? Who knew? He may have to up his wardrobe game, for this job, but on the other hand, maybe just add a few new accessories. That apron ought to hide a host of sins. Wardrobe! We have an emergency here.

In other news, the Oceana Cruise Line has been sending me catalogs for years now. They are always colorful and glossy, with fantastic, to die for photos. Now literally. They come regularly. At the height of the cruise booking season, I must get a new catalog from them every week. I don’t know how or why I got on their mailing list. I’ve never taken a cruise, I’ve never had much interest in taking one and these days, even the thought of cruising makes me want to run to the sink to wash my hands. This week I received not one, but two Oceana catalogs. The first one featured cruises around Italy and the second one—wait for it—was all about cruises near China. For years, I’ve dismissed these catalogs as simply junk mail, but now I’m afraid that they might be out to get me.

Today is Pi Day, so named in honor of today’s date, 3.14. Anne is celebrating the day by wearing her new Pi t-shirt. It was a Christmas present from her sister Jay. It is mainly green, with many of the infinite digits of the number pi written all over it. It also features the Greek symbol π in white, emblazoned across her chest. Because it is a green t-shirt, it would also be suitable for St. Patrick’s Day.

Unfortunately, both of the Saint Louis St. Patty’s Parades have been cancelled, due to the epidemic. Likewise yesterday, the County forbade all gatherings of over 250 people. This closed the remainder of our theater series. The Earth Day festival was cancelled, except for some sort of virtual incarnation, making it the first carbon neutral Earth Day that we’ve ever experienced here in Saint Louis. It looks like Netflix and chill will be the order of the day, for days to come.