COVID isn’t breaking me, presently

Standing in line


I noticed an odd thing amidst the Omicron surge. COVID isn’t breaking me. At least not presently, even though some say it’s the 681st day of March 2020.

I attribute it to being so damn vigilant over the past two years that the normal things felt, well, special. Our church was meeting in person from Father’s Day until Epiphany. And I attended, in person, all of those times when I was in town. The fact that we’re now experiencing a “pause” in in-person worship, while mildly disappointing, is totally understandable.

I hadn’t sung in the church between March 8, 2020, and December 12, 2021. Then I got to sing on Christmas Eve! So I know I won’t go another 21 months again. Right? I’ve been to films in movie theaters, and I saw a musical. Not going again right now. But eventually, yes?

My daughter’s district has gone remote for a week and a half. Yes, being in school is better; we know that. But when 25% of local school infections targeting are teachers and staff, it becomes logistically difficult to sustain. In any case, my daughter can con her loving father into making her lunch.

Testing, dammit

But I remain mystified by how inadequate the testing continues to be. With at-home kits largely unavailable, I decided to go to the NY State rapid test site at Crossgates. I entered my ZIP Code and the first result was for White Plains, NY, only two hours away. The next suggestion was for somewhere in Texas. Finally, I secured Wednesday, January 5.

The website said that walk-ins would also be accepted, so I got in line when my bus got me to the mall at 9:17 for a 10:10 appointment. The instructions that I should get there 15 minutes early. I’m 30th in line. EVERYONE is wearing a mask outdoors which is both unusual and comforting. For about 10 minutes, the line wasn’t moving. And it’s literally freezing out there – 32F according to my phone.

A few folks actually went to the front of the line, who I assumed had earlier appointments. But I wasn’t really in a hurry until 9:45 when I was still 10th in line. A guy wearing shirt-sleeved scrubs – did I mention it was 0 degrees C? – came out and said there should be TWO lines. That’s one for those who are registered, and another for those who aren’t, but that they need to register too. Note about giving instructions: YOUR left when you are facing us is OUR right. I’m certain that many of the folks in line had TRIED to get into the system earlier, but they wouldn’t have had the location code.

Who’s in charge of logistics?

By now, I’m third in the registered line. The guy in the scrubs, who had a face shield, asked if everyone could hear him. I’m 10 feet away and I can barely make out what he was saying. So I turned and barked the info to the two dozen people behind me.

Finally, I get inside at 10 a.m. The venue was a defunct Ruby Tuesday’s. We’re directed to some restaurant booths, where they take our registration info and give us each a slip of paper with a code. Then we move to the bar and subsequently another set of booths. Lots of jokes by us about the setting; someone asked when the buffet would be ready, e.g. I get my swab and leave at 10:25, instructed not to go into the mall proper until I received a negative test.

And within 30 minutes, I received the negative results, which is positive. My experience was much better than a friend of mine who spent 2.5 hours the day before and never did get tested.

I suppose I didn’t really NEED to get the swab. But the day before the test, I discovered that someone with whom I had contact tested positive, though asymptomatic, only a few days earlier. Then I learned two more people likewise were infected.

What is the definition of close contact? “Close contact through proximity and duration of exposure: Someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person [check] for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” [Well, no, fortunately].

Slowly I turned, step by step…

Niagara Falls

Slowly I turnedHere’s an odd stream of consciousness piece, I suppose. Back in the mid-1970s, I was in a local production of Godspell in New Paltz. At some point in the dialogue, much of the cast is chanting: “Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch, until…” I knew it had to be a reference to something, but I had no idea what. I didn’t bother to search YouTube or Google, since they didn’t exist at the time. So I forgot about it…

…until I was reading Arthur’s recent stories about the COVID protocols in New Zealand, specifically The next steps have been announced. “Critics, as the Prime Minister pointed out today, will complain that the government didn’t move fast enough, or that it’s moving too fast.” And somehow, my mind conflated the “next steps” and “too fast” into “Slowly I turn, step by step…” What IS that a reference to?

As it turns out, it’s a bit by the Three Stooges called Niagara Falls, which you can see here. It’s part of the 1944 short film Gents Without Cents. But the routine has been used for decades, going back to vaudeville. See the variation on I Love Lucy.

I was never a big fan of the Three Stooges. Their comedy seemed mean-spirited when I’d occasionally see them on Saturday afternoons growing up.

Where everybody knows your name

But they are the punchline to one of the most memorable pieces of dialogue on the sitcom Cheers. It’s from the episode entitled What’s Up, Doc? which I have not seen since it aired in March of 1989. A therapist says to Sam Malone (Ted Danson), “You’re an aging lothario who uses sex to cover up massive insecurity, a fear of true intimacy, fear of a relationship…”

Sam believes the diagnosis. “Come on, answer the question. What do I have in my life that isn’t women or sex?” His friend Rebecca notes his job bartending, his car, and sailing, but Sam notes these are all ways to meet women.

At the end is this dialogue:

Rebecca: What about the Three Stooges?
Sam: Oh, yeah, great. I like the Three Stooges. That helps a lot.
Rebecca: Wait a minute, Sam. Think about this. Do women like the Three Stooges?
Sam: No, they hate them.
Rebecca: All right. Are women impressed that you like the Three Stooges?
Sam: No, some of them even think they’re stupid.
Rebecca: When you’re watching the Three Stooges, do you think they’re sexy?
Sam: No, when you watch the Three Stooges, nobody has time to think about sex or women. Hey, wait a minute. That means I do have another interest in my life. I like the Stooges for themselves. Hey, whoa, I’m okay. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

It’s funnier in full context.

The only person wearing a mask

Unpopular opinion;

Unity MaskA segment on NY1 highlighted the return of in-person networking events.

Neil Gordon was quite possibly the only person wearing a mask there, which is why he was chosen to be interviewed. As Gordon posed in his newsletter:

“Was the segment about my area of expertise? No.
Was my contribution in any way related to my area of expertise? No.
Did they identify me as a ‘messaging expert’ when I was on-screen? No…
Please remember that, sometimes, having a media presence can be the result of simply showing up in the world.”

I guess there is a benefit in wearing the mask. Besides fighting a deadly virus, I mean.

Back in September, Mark Evanier paraphrased a New York Times article. “Let’s say you’re in a roomful of people who are not wearing masks during The Pandemic. Are you any safer if you wear one?… You’re better off not to be in such a room but if you are, Masked is better than Not Masked.”

And while I would never have purchased an N95 at the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve bought a handful of them recently, which I find more comfortable than most of the others I’ve used.

No problem

Kelly has an unpopular opinion about masks. “Here’s the thing: I’m fine with wearing a mask. As in, I’m genuinely fine with it. Not only does wearing one not bother me, but…I honestly kind of like it…

Like it? Well, I’m not in THAT group. I’m one of those people who he described thusly. “Hey, I hate wearing this thing, too! It sucks! I hate breathing through it…but I grit my teeth and do it because I’m a part of society!”

He’s in another category. “In truth, I get to the point now where I forget the thing is even on my face to begin with. There have been moments when I lift my coffee mug to my mouth only to forget that I have to lower the mask to sip the stuff.”

I’m not there. Instead, I’ve become That Guy who wears the mask on the chin, so it can be pulled up when I go onto the bus, enter the grocery store, or feel as though there are too many people around me at a street corner.

Also, I don’t understand what some people who wear masks are saying. And some don’t suss me out either unless I over-enunciate my consonants. This is particularly remedied if I speak with a bad British accent. 


Le Messor has a Controversial Opinion: Masks Don’t Work. It’s a bit of a ruse, and that’s all I will say about it.

I have started keeping about five unused masks in a bag inside my backpack for those folks who forget that particular accessory. And I’ll be thrilled to give them up, but I don’t foresee that happening until 2023.

Nov. rambling: down the rabbit hole

ancient board games


Does the red pill have an antidote? Why do previously reasonable people go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, and what can be done to bring them back?

The vaccine tore her family apart. Could a death bring them back together?

Pharmaceutical messianism and the COVID-19 pandemic

Why WHO skipped ‘nu,’ ‘xi’ for the new COVID variant, omicron

Trump believed his press secretary when she told him he’d win ‘because’ of COVID

Nations Fiddle While the Earth Burns (and Floods)


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Union Busting and The Power Grid 

 Wealthy Americans get paid leave. Shouldn’t the rest?

The scary rise of private intelligence companies 

What your smart devices know (and share) about you

 Public-Private Partnerships Are Quietly Hollowing Out Our Public Libraries 

Parents are scrambling after schools suddenly cancel class over staffing and burnout. (It’s happened at least twice in Albany this fall.)

To Catch a Turtle Thief: Blowing the Lid Off an International Smuggling Operation

An Extraordinary 500-Year-Old Shipwreck Is Rewriting the History of the Age of Discovery

Land Back and The Third Reconstruction: A Truth Commission with the Shinnecock Nation 

Can a Doughnut Heal Our World?


etymologyAn Indigenous chef is putting her heritage on the menu with landmark restaurant 

French dictionary adds non-binary pronoun

Sesame Street debuts Asian-American muppet

Lee Elder, first Black golfer to play in Masters, dies at age 87

How to wake up early, even if you’re not a morning person

The link to Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library book talks 

Some People Can Literally See Time 

Your 2 Step Guide To Creating Mindfulness Gratitude Practice

Ancient Board Games, even more ancient than I am

Ken Levine’s 250th podcast: For Those Who Love Lucy

David Brickman and Stanley Tucci are not the same person

RIP, laugh track 

The Love Boat video shows every single guest in alphabetical order.

Now I Know:  What Does the Fox Spray? and How Ben Franklin Killed the Competition and The Boy Who Shared His Wish and  The Somewhat-Fake Sausage That Saved Lives

Heart-pulling Christmas commercials


How Great Thou Art, performed by Carla Fisk

A Pile Of Dust – Voces8

Fanny Mendelssohn 

Peter Sprague Plays Miles Davis

Romanian Rhapsody #2 by Georges Enescu

Come A Little Bit Closer – Jay and the Americans

Barnyard Boogie – From Acoustic Rooster’s Barnyard Boogie: Starring Indigo Blume

Overture to Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin

Future Past (Visualizer) – Duran Duran

Symphony No. 3 by Aram Khachaturian

J. Eric Smith: Be Thankful for What You’ve Got

Latke Recipe – the Maccabeats

Coverville 1379: Cover Stories for Lorde and Taylor (Swift) and 1380: Covering the 2021 Inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft – Carpenters

October rambling: doing an impression

old blogger, newish home


The ivory-billed woodpecker, 22 other species extinct.

Pandora Papers:  The largest investigation in journalism history exposes a shadow financial system that benefits the world’s most rich and powerful.

How decades of security blunders led to the formation of the TSA and forever changed the way we fly.

Texas’ Sweeping Abortion Ban Gives New Meaning to Oft-Misused Handmaid’s Tale Comparisons.

The Big Lie Refuses to Die.

Your gas stove, your health, and climate change.

The American West is running out of water—and Big Oil, of all things, can help fix it.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:  PFAS and  Voting Rights. Call Your Senator to Support the Equality Act

I saw the stories about the Facebook outage but kept reading it as the  Facebook outrage.  How Facebook’s Response To Whistleblower Could Make Their Crisis Worse. Incidentally, when Facebook was down, I went to Is It Down Right Now but it TOO was down. I ended up using Down For Everyone or Just Me and Is Your Website Down Down Right Now?

Why Is the U.S. Housing Market So Out of Whack?

Garbage odyssey: San Francisco’s bizarre, costly quest for the perfect trash can.

Inventions That Changed the World

Ted Koppel pays a visit to Mayberry (Mt. Airy, NC)

You’ve just been ‘ghosted’ after a job interview. Here’s how you should respond.

New York Public Library is ending fines on overdue materials forever. Albany Public Library did that a couple of years back.

Butt-dialing 911 is a challenge for police dispatchers

Why Seinfeld is the Worst Sitcom of All Time

The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry (born 1934)

The medical ward

Pandemics are beaten by communities, not individuals. This describes my risk/reward calculations pretty well. 

How Jared And Ivanka Botched Trump’s Pandemic Response.

Combating Anti-Vaxxers and Vaccine Hesitation.

Why Mandates Make Us Feel Threatened.

Albany Med prize winners: Coronavirus vaccine was years in the making.

Cognitive Bias Is Influencing Forensic Pathology Decisions

I had gone to the dentist this month to get a tooth uncapped because a cavity developed. It is one of those things that might have been prevented but for COVID. Anyway, they said, “We’re going to do an impression.” I knew what they meant, but my mind wandered to Rich Little doing John Wayne or Richard Nixon.

More Empathy Means Better Care, Less Medical Liability.

A Gene-Editing Experiment Let These Patients With Vision Loss See Color  Again.

People with vitiligo debate whether to treat or embrace their condition

Race in America

Calls to Ban Books by Black Authors Are Increasing Amid Critical Race Theory Debates

Origin and Meaning of Critical Race Theory.

How Do We Dismantle Structural Racism in Medicine?

Manhattan Street Names Tied to Slavery Listed from A to Z.

Meet The First 2 Black Women To Be Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Bruice’s Beach in California can return to descendants of a Black family in a landmark move.

Byzantium Shores, no. ForgottenStars, si!

I’ve been following Jaquandor at Byzantium Shores for well over a decade. He’s another upstater from the other end of the Erie Canal.  His birthday is 45 years to the day after my late father’s.

He started blogging in 2002, over three years before I did. Eventually, he’s let the pseudonym go. Now Kelly Sedinger is blogging at, where he promotes his books, two of which I have. He knows a ton about classical music, many of which I have linked to.  I don’t quite get the pie in the face thing, but that’s OK.

Now I Know

dog portrat The Problem with Space Pirates

Why the Ace of Spades is So Darn Big

 The Worst Way to Get People to Watch a Movie?

Why Teams Wear Gray When Not At Home

How South Korea Massages Its Workforce

The Road Where Seat Belts are Banned

The Oldest PhD.


You’re Not Alone album by Roy Buchanan.

Feeling Good – Nina Simone.

Eine Alpensinfonie by Richard Strauss.

Coverville 1374: Cover Stories for John Mellencamp, Bob Geldof, and Chrissie Hynde.

The First Moonwalk? Bill Bailey tapping to an instrumental version of the Larks’ hit “The World is Waiting for Sunrise” performed by the Paul Williams Quartet

Autumn Leaves  – Ebene Quartet.

Stuck in the Middle with You -MonaLisa Twins

Capriccio Italien by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Robert Russell Bennett’s Selections from Camelot. (Lerner and Loewe)

I Am Waiting – Ollabelle, a cover of The Rolling Stones song

The Final Act. 60 Minutes story on Tony Bennett.

Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2021 will be on the road, maybe in a town near you, between Nov 26 and Dec 23 with Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler, and… Rebecca Jade!