The so-called “new normal”

everyone can toil from home?

social distancing instrumentsIt may well be true, but I bristle at the term the “new normal”. It seems so defeatist. Meanwhile, I make my peculiar weekly trek to the grocery store during the “old people’s time” of 6 to 7 a.m.

What I’ve observed is this: People walking their dogs tend to head to the street when I am strolling on the sidewalk. I appreciate the effort. Perhaps they have friendly canines who want to be petted. That would mean I might get too close to the owner.

The irony in physical distancing is that little old ladies still avoid me. But it’s not because they think I’m going to mug them, but because they think I might infect and kill them. Progress, I guess?

I’ve spent so much effort doing a pas a deux with the folks stocking the produce that I manage to forget to get bananas. (“COVID-19 makes me bananas.”) Meh, still no TP. Heck, no paper products of any type. I may actually NEED some by the end of May.

And my checkout mojo’s all out of whack from social distancing, as I wait until the person in front of me is nearly done before putting my items on the conveyor belt. I almost neglected to get my discount card scanned, and I nearly forget to put the credit card in the appropriate slot.

Work all day

The ability to learn from home is great and remarkable. But because the technology is available, my wife was scheduled for THREE hour-long meetings one day this past week. One was canceled, but still. Just because you CAN schedule meetings does not mean you must.

My wife is working harder now online than she did as an in-person ENL teacher. Between the noon and 2 pm meetings, a parent returned her call. She barely ate lunch. Oh, and she also had a church meeting that night, with our pastors canceling their long-planned sabbatical.

Newsweek suggests that the coronavirus will “change how we work forever.” And not necessarily for the better. If everyone can ostensibly toil from home, then we won’t need as many snow days. It may make us more “productive”, but at what cost? Americans in general already suck at the work/life balance thing.

Mic check, please

Part of my “new normal” regimen involves press conferences, on television every single day. I do not watch them. I’ll get the gist of them from print news. This is entirely a health issue.

If I see him lying that he didn’t say what he said two weeks ago, it will just upset me. If I read that he’s prevaricating, it’s much less toxic to me. No less reprehensible, just less aggravating.

Besides, if he’s going to boast about TV ratings, as he berates the media as thousands are dying, why watch? Some of my friends want media outlets to stop covering him. I’m ambivalent. For every four bits of dissembling, he says one thing actually useful and more or less true.

And for those who worry that Dr. Anthony Fauci is being silenced or that Dr. Deborah Birx is being too conciliatory, know that they are hostages. But they have what djt wants — “credit, adulation, the appearance of scientific expertise. And their survival means our survival.” So if AF is less prickly or DB more diplomatic, they’re playing the long game of being heard.

Sherwin-Williams emails

Viva retirement?!

sherwin-williams.explore colorTime to start answering Ask Roger Anything questions. Judy, who I’ve only known since 1977, asked:
Isn’t it great not having to adapt to a different work environment? Viva retirement!

Well, you’d think so. But what’s different is that my wife and my daughter are home. And they are actually working too. My wife’s a teacher. She had to go into work on Monday and Tuesday last week, which I thought was crazy. Subsequently she’s been checking email, responding to requests. My daughter still has homework, which was due Monday, Wednesday and Friday last week.

So it’s a negotiation of using the two computers for the three people. My job is to wade through the influx of new emails. An article from eMarketing last week spoke to this:

Email overload

Social media users [are] marveling that every brand they had ever done business with was writing them to talk about COVID-19 and what those brands were doing to help. Email marketers do seem to have sent these messages to every address they have permission to use…

So, if you roll your eyes at that next email, try to remember that it’s probably important to someone else who’s wondering whether a product or service they regularly use is going to be available—or potentially endangering workers and consumers.

I may not have cared about each of the 100-odd marketer emails I received about the pandemic over the past week or so, but there were some I was waiting for anxiously… I didn’t need to hear from Sherwin-Williams that my neighborhood store would be offering curbside pickup for safety—but I know there are workers in my community who did need that message.

Look at it this way: There is an influx of brand emails being sent, but at least you have plenty of time at home to clean out your inbox.

My “Sherwin-Williams” emails

Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services. My primary doctor’s office has a COVID hotline.
The CDTA buses are operating on a modified weekday schedule resembling the Saturday service. But they’ll add several routes that do not normally operate on Saturday that serve medical facilities, grocery stores or other locations to which essential trips need to be made.
Are my bank and credit union changing their hours? Somewhat.
The videos I took out from the Albany Public Library aren’t due until the library reopens. Indeed, the return slots will be closed.
Early (6-7 a.m.) hours at the Price Chopper/Market 32 supermarkets for senior citizens. Like me, whippersnappers!

My Congressman Paul Tonko’s phone lines for the DC office at (202) 225-5076 and Albany office at (518) 465-0700 remain available for constituents to contact staff.
Tax day has moved from April 15 to July 15. That’s good because we’re about a month behind in preparing, in large part because of my FIL’s illness.
Free Pandora for three months. A lot of things that were behind paywalls are not, for now.
The SBA is providing low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.
Smithsonian Open Access is where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking.

A pleniloquence about coronavirus?

Social distancing, Flatten the curve

Texas coronaYvonne Abraham wrote in the Boston Globe: “The week that the coronavirus changed everything.” And it’s true.

“One after another, the touchpoints of our lives have been falling away. The subtractions came slowly at first: flights from a handful of countries, conventions, political rallies, Little League tryouts. They’ve picked up speed as the week — has it really been only a week? — wore on. We are a danger to each other, our public spaces suddenly menacing.

“Who are we without all of the things that bring us together?

“We’re about to find out, as the coronavirus pandemic separates us, leaving us alone with our trepidation and, if we’re lucky, our loved ones.”

It’s gone from my church congregation sharing hugs and handshakes (February) to expressing love from a distance with a smile, a deep nod and a Vulcan greeting (March 1) to the doors being closed (March 15). While understandable, the transition is really difficult for me.

As an information junkie, I found that I have actually watched less news about COVID-19. This is not to say I KNOW less about it. It’s that the information overwhelms me from so many various venues.


My travel agent site recommends that I talk to my health care providers, plus “checking the CDC website, understanding how travel insurance works, and keeping informed with our coronavirus updates.” Airlines, hotels, cruises, and tour companies are “relaxing their change and cancellation policies to offer travelers a peace of mind.”

Almost every one of the canceled public gatherings I might have attended provides me with statistics and disease prevention protocols. Meanwhile, there is a battle against the spread of fake coronavirus news articles and unscientific products and advice.

Vanity Fair promised “binge-worthy shows for quarantine”. Entertainment and sports news is filled with disappointed, but understanding, folks, reacting to postponements and cancellations.

There’s a whole new vocabulary. Social distancing. Flatten the curve by staying home. Stop touching your face.

I suppose I should be worried. Someone posted conditions to be concerned about. I qualify on half of them.
If you’re over 50
If you have diabetes
If you have a heart condition
If you are overweight
If you have a compromised immune system
If you are a smoker

But as Mark Evanier noted: “I am not worried about the virus. I’m worried about not doing the right things in a tricky situation… If it turns out that this thing takes a lot fewer human lives than the Worst Case projections, I hope we don’t hear people saying the reactions to it and all these cancellations were foolish and unnecessary.

“I hope they say the fatalities were kept down by swift, smart action and responsible parties erring on the side of caution. And I really hope they say that it was an act of appalling negligence that we weren’t better prepared for this and that we won’t make that mistake again.”

Violating self-quarantine

We’re not going to get through the coronavirus issue unless we think of ourselves as part of a larger community. I most worry about those creatures with the XY chromosome. If you’ve been to most men’s bathrooms in 2019 or earlier, you’ve likely seen guys who wash their hands for two seconds, rather than twenty. Or often not at all.

Worse, from the March 6 Boston Globe: “A New Hampshire man who’d recently returned from Italy and had symptoms of the novel coronavirus had been told to quarantine himself, but instead attended an event last Friday at the Engine Room in White River Junction, Vt. A few days later, he tested positive for Covid-19…” Hey, we have to be in this together.

John Oliver.
Mel and Max Brooks.
He lies, again.
Years of Austerity Weakened the Public Health Response.
My Corona ~ Kevin Brandow (Parody ~ My Sharona by The Knack).
Facebook was marking legitimate news articles about the coronavirus as spam due to a software bug. The company is fixing the posts and bringing them back.

March rambling: don’t be an idiot


sign at the gas pump
Why India’s Muslims are in grave danger.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Coronavirus advice: ‘Don’t be complacent, and don’t be an idiot’ and Medicare for All.

Everything looks fine until it doesn’t.

Weekly Sift: Coronavirus Reaches My Town.

Why retirement insecurity is the new American epidemic.

Rules for Addressing Panhandlers.

The Inclusive Internet Index 2020.

Does Anybody Know Who’s Electable?

What Are Those Strange Things You See Floating In Your Eye?

Bye, Chris Matthews.

Was Jeanne Calment the Oldest Person Who Ever Lived — or a Fraud?

Cookie Monster breaks the Internet.

Touching a camera for the first time in three months.

James Lipton, animated host of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’, dies at 93.

Max von Sydow, Legendary Seventh Seal Star, Dies at 90.

RIP Earl Pomerantz

My wife’s aunt, Emelia Olin obit.

What is Bipartisanship, Really

Racism, Retaliation and Othering


He Bears Full Responsibility for Botched Response to Coronavirus in U.S.

Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller Wrote His Coronavirus Speech That’s Tanking Markets and Spreading Falsehoods and Fear.

The Daily Show video: Pandumbic. Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump Contradicts Experts as Coronavirus Is Declared a Pandemic.

A limerick by Catbird

There once was a POTUS named trump
Whose mind was as sharp as a stump
“It’s perfect!” he crowed
“Test kits? We’ve a load!”
And now we’re all down in the dumps.

Pressed on the ACA, his rhetoric takes an incoherent turn.

How should Democrats fight against a president who has no moral or legal compass?

Newly obtained documents reveal more Secret Service payments to Trump properties.

He Installs Homophobic Racist Tea Party Birther Who Promised to Send Obama ‘Home to Kenya’ as New Chief of Staff.


What is the difference between appoggiatura and acciaccatura? Appoggiatura is “a type of musical ornament, falling on the beat, which often creates a suspension and subtracts for itself half the time value of the principal note which follows while acciaccatura is a short grace note (theoretically taking no time at all), occurring on the beat occupied by the main note to which it is prefixed.”

Definition of meliorism: the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment.

Words That Describe Incredibly Specific Things, such as erinaceous, jentacular, nudiustertian, qualtagh, and especially floccinaucinihilipilification.

Words Fossilized In Idioms.

Geez, jeez!

12 Regional Slang Words From Across the U.S.

The Origin Of “Piss Poor” And Other Popular Sayings.

Insight of the Day.

Now I Know

The Tampons That Fought Back By Adding a Spine and The Color of Flying Calmly and The Beyond Gold Medalist and A Blockbuster Parenting Move and How Much is a Buttload, Exactly? and The Somewhat-Silent Explosions Made for Dogs and The Snack You Had to Commit a Crime to Try and Why Stop Signs Have Eight Sides.


Philippa Duke Schuyler performing Bach.

Homunculus C.F. by Julia Perry.

Fidelio overture by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Coverville 1298: This Day in Covers: February 25, 1985.

God’s Counting On Me – Pete Seeger.


Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes. Obit: Lynn Evans Mand, singer of hits with the Chordettes, at 95.

K-Chuck Radio: The Invasion of the Break-Ins.

The Archive Of Contemporary Music — And Its 3 Million Recordings — Is Leaving NY.

Johnny Cash thought his recording career was over. Then he met legendary producer Rick Rubin.

I’ve got the coronavirus blues

“We have contained this” doesn’t work.

coronavirusI’ll admit that I am now terrified about the coronavirus spreading in the United States. But it’s not just the unknown nature of the disease. It’s the abysmal United States strategy in dealing with it from the very beginning.

The administration has known about coronavirus since at least December 27, 2019. “It did nothing until January 29, when the White House posted a memo announcing President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force.”

Then Vice-President Mike Pence adds top economic advisor Larry Kudlow and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin to the Task Force, making clear what the actual goal is. That is to spin the news so that the stock market might be bolstered.

At the CPAC conference, chief of staff Mick Mulvaney Accused the Media of Hyping Coronavirus to Bring Down Trump: ‘That’s What It’s All About’.

Junior’s rant

Trump Jr. Accuses Democrats of Hoping Coronavirus ‘Kills Millions’ to End President’s ‘Streak of Winning’. THIS is why I’m worried about the potential pandemic. The people in and around the administration seem more obsessed with the politics of the issue than of the health concerns.

To DT Jr.’s idiotic comment, let me make it clear that I don’t want “millions” to die in order to make anyone look bad politically. I want a robust response from the medical community, bolstered by the government. I’m not seeing that yet.

Here’s an economic truth. If we actually contain the coronavirus virus, the stock market, which tanked all last week, will rebound. No spin from the White House will work.

“In a muddled, dishonest, rambling news conference from the White House press briefing room…Trump…lied. He twisted the truth, [and] displayed little grasp of basic facts.” As usual, “he didn’t let the experts run the show. He instilled no confidence Wednesday night. The markets on Thursday rewarded his efforts with the DOW posting the largest single-day loss in history.”

Hey, I want the market to keep going up. I’m a retiree. My 401(k) took a bath at the end of February. But trotting out Larry Kudlow to say “we have contained this” doesn’t work. When he lies, “I won’t say ‘air-tight,’ but it’s pretty close to air-tight,” it creates greater fear, not less.

Dismantling units designed to protect against pandemics

This is a government that has regularly shown it doesn’t believe in science. In fact, according to the hardly-liberal Foreign Policy site from late January, the current administration has sabotaged America’s coronavirus response. “As it improvises its way through a public health crisis, the United States has never been less prepared for a pandemic.”

If Bush (either one), or Obama, or Clinton (either one) had been in charge, I wouldn’t be nearly as nervous. Meanwhile, A Guide to COVID-19 for Public Libraries.