Out

A soft drizzle played with light and horizons outside the car windows. Across the valley, sunlight was reflected over new spring growth — wineries and fields.

We drove about. What businesses are open? How is traffic?

The Subway sandwich job was open. Yumberry Yogurt. Grocery stores (Albertson’s, Safeway, Shop n’ Kart, Market of Choice, Minute Market). Pizza places and coffee shops had open signs annotated with “Take Out”. The grocery stores were moderately busy. Didn’t see customers at the rest.

Deer were plentiful, as if they appreciated people not being around. Cars plied the roads (maybe like us, or maybe people still working), but it was about twenty percent of what we’d usually see, making it pretty empty. (No traffic knots today.) (We don’t really get ‘traffic jams’ in our small city, except when roads are closed for parades.) The schools were silent and shut. A few pedestrians walked the sidewalks. Runners (in their twenties, males). We wondered, are those runners related? They’re not six feet apart. What’s their take on the coronavirus and flattening the curve?

We’d communicated with relatives in Florida. They’d spent the previous day visiting with friends and walking the beach. Had they stayed six feet apart? No. They’d had dinner at another friend’s place. We’re shocked. Yet, more came: a friend, bored up north, had come down and was staying the night with one. SOH. 

Up Laurel, past a church. People were lined up. Backpacks were on many. Some looked like a shower or bath would be welcomed. In the church’s courtyard, a table was set up, the line’s terminus. Hundreds of stuffed brown paper bags filled the table. Two women stood behind it. Meals and supplies being given out to the needy, we assumed.

Around the corner, and then we descended into the park. More deer. One man walking. Three porta-potties had been set up, along with two wash stations.

Up to the plaza, onto the main drive. Businesses were closed and dark (except for a few restaurants). Parking was plentiful (yeah, dark humor).

The streets and sidewalks seemed clean, tidy, and expectant, as if they waited for everyone to come back. When would that happen? We wondered, driving home, the short tour ended.

Back in the car, the car’s interior and outside door handles were wiped down. Gloves, shoes, and jackets removed. We hadn’t been outside, just in the car.

Still, we hear, something could be in the air and settle on the surfaces. Better be safe.

Sunday’s Theme Music

Well, from sometime yesterday, out walking in the hills, admiring the sunset’s effects on the northern mountains, came some lines from the Styx song, “The Best of Times” (1981).

The headlines read, “These are the worst of times”
I do believe it’s true
I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide
I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise

h/t to Genius.com

Yes, the helplessness and frustration that seems to permeate so much of life sometimes can make it seem like the worse of times. It’s not for me, of course, but stress, and that sense, comes from that lack of control and the inability to steer things, to be able to take action and change the course before we wreck.

I’m sure most of us have experienced it at least once in a lifetime, where we said, “I know where this is going, and you’re not going to like it.” Then it happens, and all the misery you predicted comes to pass and others ask, “Who could have seen this was going to happen?”

Well, hell, many of us do see these things, but we’re ignored. We don’t get used to that; it’s just frustrating.

Then it all passes, and the courses that you thought should have been taken are, and things go great for a while.

No, I’m not a master prognosticator. I just color my memories with the best of times.

 

Friday’s Theme Music

Just riding the day this morning, surfin’ the news and the web, maintaining my balance, trying not to wipe out and crash.

From that, yeah, “Surfin’ Safari” by the Beach Boys (1962) plunged into my mental musical stream. It came out when I was six. Don’t know when I first heard it. Simple lyrics, etc., so it was easy to learn and memorable. Today, it seems like music from a kinder era. But then, I peruse my limited memory of U.S. history at time, refreshing myself with, oh, yeah, those protests against that war, and that war, itself, and that cold war, and an assassination the next year, and the air pollution.

So, back to surfin’ the wave of the day, trying not to wipe out.

Monday’s Theme Music

West coast. We wake up to news of stock market plunges, oil price wars, cancellations, and falling gas prices. They’re talking about $2 a gallon gas in Florida as a real possibility, ignoring that falling demand drives that price.

COVID 19 cases are up in Oregon. As other governors have done in other states, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency this week as they scramble have people tested and monitor the situation.

Amidst all of this (and my dreams) one song popped into the stream and stayed:  “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” by George Harrison, 1973. I chose the video from a concert that celebrated George, with Jeff Lynne (ELO) singing.

The Stock Market

There was a 2,000 point dip in the stock market (yeah, that’s a fun dip, innit) earlier this week. President Trump was quick to step forward with his insights.

“I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage, making fools out of themselves, and they say, ‘If we ever have a president like this,’” Trump said, referring to the most recent Democratic presidential debate held in South Carolina. “When they look at the statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect.”

h/t to Vox.com

Trump made those comments on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. The Democratic debate was the previous night. As others pointed out, the stock market posted their losses and closed on Monday and Tuesday before the debate.

Let’s ignore that the debate happened after the losses. Trump seems to have a poor view of people trading on the stock exchange. He’s essentially suggesting that they’re so ignorant and weak-willed that a debate between the Democratic candidates to be POTUS would worry those traders and send stocks plunging.

The second aspect of it is that he’s discounting his own ability to affect the stock market. He’s in charge, but he thinks this debate between candidates to be the nominee has greater influence than him.

Wow. Talk about a lack of confidence, and high levels of desperation.

What most analysts (and non-analysts) believe is that the spreading coronavirus is affecting supply chains, travel, and productivity. They worry that a spreading virus (here’s a nifty site where you can track it) and the threat of greater quarantines and less travel will affect companies’ profitability. They base this on companies like Apple and Pepsico already warning that the coronavirus is negatively affecting their earnings, that they’re playing soccer games in empty stadiums in Italy, that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is in danger of being cancelled, and that Delta Airline slashed flights to and from South Korea this week. With travel down, tourism will drop. So will consumer spending. It’s all connected.

President Trump doesn’t believe any of that, of course. He’d rather escape responsibility for anything bad that happens while he’s POTUS. So much easier to blame others.

It doesn’t bode well for the future, does it?

 

 

 

Thursday’s Theme Music

Looked out the window and saw a sun-drenched landscape showing evidence of spring  under a powerful blue sky. “I Gotta Feeling” (Black Eyed Peas, 2009) roared into the stream.

Yeah, I gotta feeling that today’s gonna be a good day. Sure, more folks are worrying about the coronavirus and the U.S. response to it. Of course the DOW doesn’t like what the virus is doing to supply chains and profits. That’s sinking stocks and pension plans.

Naturally, many are worrying about the upcoming elections in the U.S. Or they’re fuming about Trump attacking a juror or his attacks on Supreme Court justices.

Others are worried about climate change, rising sea waters, stripped environmental protections, and safe drinking water. Ongoing hostilities in other countries will sober you up with a sigh, too, as you peruse the news of death, destruction, and displacement.

More locally, racism and sexism flare up in numbers as disturbing as the coronavirus spread.

Yes, I worry about these things. But strip it all down to the bare metal of my existence, and the tiny piece of me that I can do much about, and my life, and I gotta feeling, today’s gonna be a good day, despite news to the contrary.

 

The Smells

Once again, we’re faced with some lies being spread. This time, it’s being claimed that Bernie Sanders said that he thinks black people smell.

First, WTF is off with our society that we carry the whole smell thing so far? We’re so aghast at gas from a fart, appalled by BO, etc.

Bad smells coming from somebody can be signs of things gone wrong, like emotional problems, economic strife, and health issues. Besides, as others have noted, everybody farts; everyone has odors. Eating black beans (which I love, damn it) (and pinto beans) will guarantee that I’ll fart. So will grapes (which I also love).

One lowpoint in my military career came about because of another’s body odor. A large white man working in another section and suffered from excessive sweating, which carried a pungent odor.

He came to me one day asking for advice, explaining his problem and breaking down in tears as he did. He’d been dealing with this, and with the taunting and bullying and looks that came with it, since he was a child. While talking with him about the multiple possible causes, I referred him to medical assistance. He’d already been there, of course.

The young officer who supervised him visited me a few weeks later, asking about the same problem. I pointed out at that time that the issue wasn’t really that the man had a sweating and odor problem, but that we had a problem dealing with it. I wasn’t forceful enough, though, looking back.

(Of course, our whole thing about smell is probably a defense mechanism carried to an extreme; smelling foulness off of another probably harkens back to diseases and are encoded in us.) (That’s just my speculation.)

Second, no one group smells more or less than another.

I’ve been with a number of races. None seems to smell better or worse than another to me. Nor can I declare that one sex or one political group or religion smells better or worse than another, as a group. It’s an individual thing. I, a white man who sweats often (and farts after eating certain foods) and walks several miles a day, can be the odor in the room, despite regular showers, clean clothes (well, they were clean when I put them on),  decent health, and deodorant. Deal with it.

Third, Bernie Sanders never said that he thought black people smell. The race card is being played, once again, and it’s a lie, once again.

 

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