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?”

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.

Smile When You Say That

Fluorapatite in Calcite

Pictured above are two elongated, six-sided fluorapatite crystals that have grown within orange calcite and were exposed when the calcite was trimmed away. Both teeth and bones are made from a closely related mineral, hydroxyapatite. I had a dentist appointment today and if my teeth were the color of these crystals, he would have been very upset, but since the sixties that is what the addition of fluoride to drinking water has been all about, turning natural hydroxyapatite enamel into harder, more decay resistant fluorapatite.

Today has been rather dismal. It was very foggy in the morning. This changed to a downpour, while I was coming back from the dentist. I am going to look for a new dentist who is closer to home. When we first moved to Saint Louis, we had a young dentist, whose practice was close to us. Eventually though, he moved to way West County, but we continued seeing him. We has retired now, but before he quit, he joined another dentist’s practice which was more robust, but also even further away. Now it is time to make a change and find another young up and coming dentist, who practices is closer to us, so I don’t have to drive so far.

Smile When You Say That – Temnospondyl

What was even more depressing than the weather and the dentist were the stock markets and the epidemic. Regarding the stock markets, the defensive position that I took in took in November 2016 is now paying huge dividends. Some of our savings accounts, the ones that are mainly equities have been roughly battered, but for those accounts, this doesn’t matter too much. It will be years, before we touch that money. Plenty of time for them to recoup. The account that we have been living off of and will continue to do so is only down about 5%, not including today’s loses, which is still pretty good I think, considering.

I watch the news, to hear when our theater season ticket series will be shutdown. It is only a matter of time now. These series cater to a grey haired clintele, who really shouldn’t be risking it, by going to large audience performances. Sports has already pulled the plug and on Broadway the arts too have called it quits. Here, like I said, it is only a matter of time, before our shows are closed too.

BREAKING: Saint Louis City Mayor has banned all gatherings of 1000 people or more. So, no Hamilton at the Fox this spring for us.

We made the mistake last night of watching the Oval Office pronouncements. It was Teleprompter Trump who was on, but he was so stilted and tenous in his delivery that I was not surprised to learn that the market’s curcuit breakers had been tripped, practically before he was done talking. Putting aside what he said or rather misstated, how he spoke was unnerving enough for me. It was sad.

Stinking Toe Fruit

Stinking Toe Fruit

If the shoe fits, wear it. The Stinking Toe fruit, is the fruit of the West Indian Locust, the largest tree in the Caribbean. The fruit is contained within a large brown-shelled pod that is shaped somewhat like a toe. Stinking Toe fruit is roughly 5 inches in length, oblong and slightly kidney-shaped. The inner flesh of these stubby pods do indeed stink like smelly feet. On our ranger guided hike to Reef Bay, the ranger cut one open and allowed everyone taste the pulp. It wasn’t unplesant and was actually rather tasteless. It tastes similar to dried milk and is normally mixed with other ingrediants for better taste. Although, island children will often eat it raw, just as we had.

Yesterday, was Election day and Anne worked the polls as an election official. These are always long and grueling work days. This was our Presidential primary election and there was only one item on the ballot. I was queried as to which party’s ballot that I wanted and then my individual ballot was printed out. I was directed to a table, with cardboard privacy screens, where I completely filled in the box for my sole vote. The supplied pens were all ballpoints and I think that a felt-tip would have worked better. Come November, when there is more than one vote to cast, using a ballpoint would be rather time-consuming. Once completed, I took my ballot over to be scanned and that was that. This is a new voting system that has replaced the old touchscreen based voting machines that I guess were viewed as too hackable. I like this new method better.

Since, Anne had left early to go to the polls and taken the car, I had to walk to the polls. My walk was a little bit longer than normal, because the Heights, my regular polling place is undergoing renovation. Sanitation was the word for the day, with Purrell dispensers everywhere. I heard on the news that a poll in the City was attacked, when some crazy man came in and splashed bleach on the voting machine and some of the poll workers.

Tuesday’s results came out as expected and it now appears certain that the race for the presidency is going to come down to a certain two septuagenarian men. Both of whom are prime candidates to succumb to the Coronavirus. The November election may come down not to which of them got the most votes, but which one is still left standing. Stay healthy, Joe!

#TrumpCrash

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?

Storm Personified

Thunder God, Katsushika Hokusai, 1847

Last Sunday, we attended a potluck dinner party. We were one of six couples there. Seated around the table were a cadre from our army of bike buddies. All of us still are or were members of the Kaldi’s Bike MS charity team. We talked cycling, travel and then I touched the third rail, politics. The demographics of this discussion was pretty homogeneous. We were all white, upper middle class, heterogenous, empty nest boomers and most importantly, Democrats. So, although I did touch the third rail of politics, there really wasn’t that much danger of causing that many sparks.

As of last Sunday, we had just endured a pretty bad week for the Democrats, what with a less than satisfactory conclusion to the impeachment trial, the unholy spectacle of the State of the Union address and the debacle of the Iowa Caucus. We were united in opposition to Trump, so most of the discussion had to do with a comparison of the Democratic candidates vis-à-vie their chances of beating him. The metric for choosing seemed to be for someone who could win.

Neither of the two frontrunners, Bernie and Buttigieg, seemed to garner much enthusiasm. Bernie was judged too liberal to win, likewise Warren. Buttigieg being gay was viewed as an impediment to victory. Biden, already wounded by then, seemed to have been most people’s candidate, but his show of weakness seems to have made people turn away from him. Everyone wanted a winner. There was some talk of Klobuchar, but since she hadn’t shown herself by then, it was only lukewarm at best. Most of the enthusiasm seemed to be reserved for Bloomberg. This gave me the chance to recite a New Yorker cartoon caption, “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s the good billionaire.”

The Missouri presidential primary isn’t until the week after Super Tuesday, so a lot of water will have flowed under the bridge by then. However, Anne and one of the couples will have to absentee vote before then. Anne will be working as an election official on primary day and this other couple are traveling to India. They are planning on delaying as long as possible. There is nothing worse than voting early for a candidate, who then drops out before the primary. Bottom line, everyone is looking for that person who will win in November and the positions that they espouse are only important in how they effect their electability.