Category Archives: CoronaVirus

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Sunday nights seem to be the worst.

The whole world’s going crazy and it’s getting harder to hold on to a sense of balance. So much going on at home, trying to just hold on to a sense of normalcy in our own bubble. So much to do at work, trying to carry my weight and help where I can for those who need it. So much to do at the hangar as we’re shut down but still trying to survive. So much to going on across our country as actual forces of evil are trying to divide and destroy us from within.

Am I doing enough? Or am I doing too much and will I recognize the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Or does that whole “you’re stronger than you know” thing still apply and I need to buck up, get my ass in gear, and do even more?

Overlying all is a growing anxiety and fear over the COVID-19 virus. We’re still healthy, but know folks who aren’t, and have seen just how bad it can be.

Where’s the center in all of this? Where’s the balance point? Or is there one, or is it constantly shifting and moving?

There’s a little bit of relief on the weekend as we can force ourselves to make time to relax, to watch a ballgame or movie. But even there I feel a constant dread, a guilt, a pressure that time is being wasted when I watch that game or show. Which I know is wrong, but which in turn just feeds into the cycle of angst.

Baseball is back, which is good – but I can’t help but feel that the other shoe is going to drop any day, with a whole COVID outbreak that could devastate a team, teams, or the league. Hockey and basketball return this weekend, and pro football is less than six weeks away. Who even knows if we’ll get college sports in the fall.

So much uncertainty, so much stress, so much impending doom. But tomorrow we’ll tackle it all again and do our best. Mainly because we really don’t have any choice. As the saying goes, “The only way out is through.”

But Sunday nights seem to be the worst.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Deep Thoughts, Sports

Mistaken Identity

I was out at the CAF hangar for a few minutes today to pick up the mail and make the bank deposit. We’re still shut down there and while there were a few dozen folks there working on planes and such, for me it’s masked up, in and out.

It’s not rocket science to figure that my political views are not widely shared in that particular segment of the population. So I was surprised when one person asked (jokingly) how I was going to make it to the Trump rally in Tulsa tonight? Was someone saving me a seat?

Huh?

Then a second person said something odd, then a third, then a fourth. A fifth person finally said something about how he thought that I hated Trump, what had changed?

HUH?

He pointed at the sweatshirt I was wearing.

Talk about seeing what you expect to see…

Yes, it’s bright red with white and blue letters, has sort of kind of “that” layout and font (it’s supposed to, it’s a spoof), and the most prominent word is five letters starting with “Tr” and then there’s a “u” in there somewhere.

But! HUH??!!

That first word isn’t “Trump,” it’s “Trout,” as in American League MVP Mike Trout, center fielder for my beloved Angels. And the second word, “Rendon,” is for Anthony Rendon, free agent All-Star 3rd baseman who signed with my beloved Angels over the off-season. (Which sort of assumes the existence of an “on-season,” but don’t get me started. No, really. Don’t.)

This was going to be our year to take the World Series again before the shit hit the fan and the world went into COVID-19 quarantine. My son got me this as a Christmas present when the Angels’ future for ’20 was bright and shiny.

As for Tulsa… πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

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Filed under CAF, CoronaVirus, LA Angels, Photography

Dragon Flies

It was a huge day for the future of our crewed space program. I’m sure you saw the news and probably saw any amount of coverage.

The launch. The landing of the first stage booster on the drone ship. (I know they want to re-use them a dozen times or so to save money, but wouldn’t THAT one look good outside the National Air & Space Museum?) The crew’s short TV event on orbit.

Tomorrow morning we’ll see them dock with the ISS and join the three crew members already on the Station, one American and two Russians. In thirty to ninety days (depending on a lot of things) we’ll see them come back down and splash down in the Atlantic near Florida. By the end of the year we’ll see the first operational flight of Dragon (this is the final test flight) with three American and one Japanese astronauts. And so on.

Tonight there was a marginal, partial pass of the ISS over Los Angeles very late. I’ve never before been lucky enough to see a cargo ship or Space Shuttle following the ISS, let alone a Dragon. It was low to the horizon, looking into the street lights, and it’s hazy out there. I went and looked anyway.

There was the ISS, not a terrible pass after all. Not great, but not terrible. And there, about 10-15 seconds behind it, co-orbital so it’s on the same path, was a much dimmer but still visible Dragon.

That made it a good day for me, personally, one I’ll remember for a long, long time.

Of course, then there’s the news. And the fact that technically I was potentially breaking curfew by going out as Los Angeles has had rioting, looting, and burning all day. As has Atlanta. And Philadelphia. And Pittsburgh. And Kansas City. And Minneapolis. And Chicago. And New York. And Denver, Seattle, Cleveland, Columbus, Portland, Miami, Rochester, and Salt Lake City.

I’m old enough to remember 1968. I think I may have made some comparisons to that year a while back.

This is worse.

So that’s the other thing that I’ll remember about today.

Some problems can’t be solved so easily, even with rocket science.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Moral Outrage, Politics, Space

Beauty On An Ugly Day

The news is ugly. Our country is being ripped apart. The death toll continues to rise. Too many people continue to be more stupid by the day. Our “leadership” is actively evil and treasonous.

But these orange-ish roses are still beautiful.

I guess no one told them.

I’m not going to be the ones to break the news to them. Besides, there’s a nice new crop of fence lizards living out there.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Flowers, Photography, Politics

Looking Above, Looking Below

Memorial Day weekend, the traditional unofficial kickoff for summer in the United States. What a strange and different weekend this was than what we all would have expected three months ago.

We were supposed to be in Michigan this weekend for a family wedding. That obviously didn’t happen. If we weren’t going to the wedding we could have gone to Baycon in then San Francisco area. That obviously didn’t happen.

We stayed home.

Normally, if we weren’t traveling we would have invited the kids over, and extended family, and maybe some of their friends. The BBQ grill would have been packed. There would have been a dozen or even twenty-plus people here. Lots of food, beer flowing, margaritas being mixed, wonderful conversations, hugs all around.

That obviously didn’t happen.

Down here below there was just us. In our yard. No visitors.

I chatted across the street with the neighbors to make sure their family was all safe. We chatted online with our kids to make sure they were all safe.

But here, it was just us, the birds, the lizards, the flowers.

As I was cooking, above there was a rumble as a 747 passed overhead. Atlas Air flight #715 from LAX to Inchon, climbing through 9,200 feet at 366 mph. Almost certainly a cargo flight.

We used to have a hundred flights a day climbing out of LAX and headed toward the Bay Area, Seattle, Anchorage, Japan, Korea, China. Now it’s a handful. Coming in from the west we used to have fifty or more flights a day heading in to Runway 8 at Burbank. Now it’s maybe a dozen.

The world is so different than it was three short months ago.

In states that have “opened up” there are reports and video of packed beaches, large crowds, and dirt track grandstands packed to the gills. And not a mask in sight. I hope that I’m wrong, but that’s not where the smart money is. I expect outbreaks to spike in two to three weeks all over the country. A lot of those sites (the Ozarks, for example) had cars with license plates from a dozen different states.

The virus doesn’t care. Science doesn’t care. Reality doesn’t care.

Unless we have an order of magnitude more testing, and faster results, and contract tracking, and a plan to isolate those exposed, we’re going to see packed ICUs again. We’re passing 100,000 American fatalities now. (And I will guarantee that figure is low by at least 10% given all of the governors who are being caught deliberately fiddling with the data and not counting nursing home deaths.) I’ve said it before – by election day in November, we’ll be lucky to be under 1,000,000 deaths.

But I can’t change that. Neither can you.

So we stayed home. As I hope you did.

We wore masks if we had to go out. As I hope you did.

We stayed socially distant, with extremely limited contact. As I hope you did.

I continue to do 99% of my work from home. As I hope you are able to.

We wait for someone to make available the weapons we need to fight this disaster. Testing. Medical equipment. Protective gear. A vaccine. Leadership.

In the meantime, we fight with the only weapons we have. Masks. Distance. Hand washing. Isolation. Votes.

As I hope you did.

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Filed under Castle Willett, CoronaVirus, Photography

Unclear On The Concept

There are a fair number of things that push my buttons these days, and I seem to have a lot of buttons. I’m trying to “maintain an even strain,” particularly here (mainly because I fear that once I let those floodgates crack open there won’t be any way to shut them) but an image today has piqued my interest in a special way.

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

I will attempt to be brief and to the point.

  1. I have nothing charitable or nice to say in any way, shape, or form about those who are ignoring the scientific facts with the current pandemic, particularly those who are actively campaigning to “open up” our cities and states.
  2. I’m a “recovering Catholic” who got a LOT of dogma rammed down my throat as a child. While I find theology a fascinating topic in general…
  3. …questioning Catholic dogma got me in a **LOT** of trouble about the time high school rolled around. (It’s tough having Mom trying to get me to be an altar boy multiple days a week when Father Murray is horrified by the fact that I said something like “What a crock of shit!” when he gave me a stock answer to my wise ass question about something that didn’t make any sense at all.)
  4. Points #2 and #3 being a given, just because I thought it was nonsense didn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention. (You never know, that point of doctrine from St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th Century could show up on Final Jeopardy when you most need it!)

So when I see this particular picture, all of this dogmatic trivia coalesces in my brain (sort of like congealing grease mixed with yesterday’s leftover oatmeal, grey and lumpy) into the following thought:

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Moral Outrage, Religion

Sunsets, Flowers, Critters

In posting the white rose pictures last night it became obvious that there has been a somewhat limited range of context here recently.

Flowers. Critters. Sunsets.

Yep, welcome to Day 55 of the official lockdown. I say “official” since that’s when the LA County order became official and we went to 100% work-from-home at the office, but for at least a couple of weeks before that the bars and restaurants had been closed, we had severely limited our outings, and so on.

Flowers, critters, and sunsets are the dominant themes when I tear myself away from my desk (this WFH thing is like doing brain surgery in boxing gloves, everything takes twice as long as it used to) and go outside for a few. It can only be that much more difficult for people holed up in apartments or living in less confined quarters.

And now the cancellations have begun in earnest. The personal ones, not the national and international ones like MLB, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NBA, the air shows, the marathons, Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the Masters, ComicCon, WorldCon, and on and on and on.

We were supposed to be going to Detroit for a family wedding over Memorial Day in two weeks – today was the day to cancel those airplane tickets and rental car. We also got told that our “Hamilton” performance for next month has been cancelled. The LA Phil has been cancelling concerts for a while, as has the Schubert. We were supposed to have a play and a concert this last weekend – nope, nope, nope. Our performance of “1776” has been cancelled for this summer. And on and on and on.

Someday this will be behind us and there will be a new normal. I would like to say “I can’t wait,” but of course, I can. And I will. And so will you. And despite that, hundreds of thousands more Americans will die in the next few months.

Don’t be one of them. Wear a freakin’ mask! Wash your hands! Don’t touch your face! Stay home!

And enjoy the pictures of the sunsets, flowers, and critters.

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Venus In The Pink

Just like “Groundhog Day.” A truly great movie, by the way, but I never actually wanted to live it.

Another evening where I walked away from the mountain of work at my desk and the Deadlines From Hell ™ and took thirty or forty minutes to read and watch the sunset.

Do you see Venus up there? It’s right there in the clouds, but they’re not that thick, so you can see it shining through just below the three power lines, about halfway between the trees on either side of the picture. Click on the image to blow it up to full size – it’s there!

Can you see it now? Like a diamond floating up there in pink cotton candy.

The sunset two days ago was very much orange and yellow where tonight was very much pink and purple.

And as before, and as it will be tomorrow, eventually it all fades to black. I waved to Major who was walking by, disappointed by the absence of the bunnies who won’t come out when I’m sitting out there.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll sit out in the back yard to harass the wrens instead so that Major can spook the bunnies.

It’s the little things.

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Filed under Astronomy, CoronaVirus, Photography, Weather

Sunsets Are A Process

It goes without saying, but if anyone’s going to say it anyway it’s going to be me. Sunset photos are gorgeous, but it’s a process.

You can’t capture them in a single photo, or even a video.

The colors shift ever so gradually. Sometimes there are shades of orange, red, pink, purple, blue, and they all slide and transform second by second, but not so that you can actually see or notice, only feel.

Sometimes with layers of clouds and all of their holes and nooks and crannies (and crooks and nannies) you’ll get brighter moments, and rays, and shadows.

You can’t feel the breeze, or smell those bushes in a picture or a video. You can’t watch the bunnies come out to see if Major’s still around.

I took a break from a work avalanche and sat out reading a book. At one point I heard a buzzing sound from that bush right in front of me and thought it might be one of those HUGE flying beetles, but bigger than I had ever seen before. Close! It was a hummingbird, about three feet from me. It didn’t stick around when I moved.

The only bad part about a real book instead of an e-file on my iPad or phone is that about this point it got too dark to read. Oh, well. Back to generating documents and uploading them to the auditors.


Wash your hands. Stay home. Wear a mask.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Photography, Weather

Fifty Years Ago Today – Not Star Wars

Yes, yes, “May the Fourth…” Maybe next year.

Remembering fifty years ago today:

I was only fourteen, raised in a conservative, Midwest, middle class household. I knew that people were protesting the Vietnam War and a lot of people hated Nixon, but I wasn’t involved. I was too young, had too many other personal, angsty teenager things to deal with, like girls, trying to fit in while being a fish out of water in a new state that I (at the time) hated, missing my friends from where we had moved, and trying to figure out how to get out of being an altar boy seven days a week because we lived across the street from the church.

The perspective has changed more than a little bit for me. (Well, except for the girls thing – still a mysterious mine field.)

I don’t know if I think that the military or police or National Guard today would open fire on a crowd of unarmed student protesters.

But given what’s going on in Washington today, and some of the potential outcomes for November…

Hypothetically, if a certain orange monstrosity lost the election by an epic, historic landslide but still refused to leave the White House next January (like you can’t imagine THAT being possible!) and a few tens of millions of people took to the streets around the country demanding that he go (despite what I worry might be a raging COVID-19 pandemic by that point with over a million Americans dead) and it started to get ugly (think Chile, or Turkey, or the fall of the Iron Curtain)…

Would the military or police or National Guard open fire on that crowd?

I would hope not. They might. But I would bet they wouldn’t.

But would these shits stains open fire on innocent protesters?

michigan lockdown protests(Reuters / Seth Herald)

Even thinking about that brings me right back to the 1960’s (we were living in the Chicago suburbs during the 1968 Democratic National Convention) and 1970’s (“Four dead in Ohio’).

Let’s hope that at this time next year we’re having “Yoda-ritas” and watching Star Wars marathons with actual adults in the White House and Senate and House.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Deep Thoughts, Moral Outrage, Politics