Category Archives: CoronaVirus

A Three-Day Beard

(After reading this before posting I’ve decided that it might be the most useless, stupid thing I’ve ever put on this site, but I’m too lazy to go check for what might have been even more stupid or useless, and I’m too tired to write anything else. Sorry)

On a 24-year old, it makes him look roguish, rough, sexy, perhaps a little bit dangerous.

On a 64-year old, it makes you look a LOT like one of the homeless guys under the freeway asking for change on the onramp.

In this day and age it might also be a sign that you’re just completely exhausted and putting a sharp object to your throat first thing in the morning isn’t a good idea. But that’s a given and perhaps why you need to do it anyway.

Plus it itches. And tickles. And the little hairs at the corner of my mouth are like a new toy for my tongue to play with, which is annoying as hell after about five minutes.

I always think that this time will be different – it never is.

Just one more frustrating thing in the world right now, one more freakin’ little detail that I would truly love to ignore and let go of – but the alternative is worse.

That pretty much defines the last few years. (Except for that whole “my beloved Chiefs won the Super Bowl!!” thing, of course.)

Thank you for sitting through my not-so-fine whine. I’m cranky.

Wash your hands! Stay home!

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Another Weekend Gone, Another Week To Face

Between the disruption of the “working at home” routine, the fact that this entire crisis has increased my workload by a factor of “way too much” regardless of whether or not it’s exponentially harder to actually do under these circumstances, and the sort of 24/7/365 existential terror that the whole thing has vibrating along everyone’s nervous system, we’re all losing track of time. We’re untethered, adrift, fighting our way through chaotic times as best we can.

So far as I can tell, another “weekend” has past, its essence diluted to a glimmer of its former self by work and worry. That, in turn, means that another “work week” is here with all of its accompanying horrifying news from the hospitals, total shit shows from the White House, and unending crises de jour from all other fronts.

These guys in Cleveland have it right:

The news and the workload may be unrelenting – so must be our resolve, our courage, and our determination. A key weapon on our side will be our sense of humor. Hawkeye Pierce was right – sometimes going a little bit insane is the only way to stay sane when the world has gone totally insane. (We’ll ignore what happened in that farewell episode since it basically proves me wrong.)

Denial – it’s not just for the West Wing breakfast bar anymore!

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Lonely Grill

It’s not “normal” by any means, but perhaps an attempt to have a tiny sliver of normality. If you’ve read this site for any extended length of time, you’ll know that we like to have family over and BBQ.

A normal, “happy” grill has a half dozen hot dogs, a dozen hamburgers, some chicken, probably some corn on the cob, perhaps even some kabobs or shrimp or a steak. We’re usually feeding at least four or six or more.

Tonight it’s just the two of us – no visitors, physical distancing and “Safer At Home” protocols in place. There wasn’t any lettuce or tomato or potato salad or corn on the cob or beans, not because they aren’t available at the stores, but because we didn’t have them in the house already and we won’t make a trip to the store just to get stuff like that for one meal.

So it was a lonely grill, with just the birds that are nesting on the porch to provide entertainment. (Every time I go out back they fly out of the nest above the door and perch on the fence berating me for invading “their” space.) Tomorrow several days of rain move in. Clouds tonight obscured Venus and the Pleiades, as well as a magnificent ISS pass.

But we’re still healthy. I hope you’re the same. (Feel free to use the comments to let me & others know how you’re doing.)

Stay home.

Wash your hands.

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The Best I’ve Got Today

I wrote this earlier tonight on Twitter and I don’t think I’m going to write anything better tonight, so here it is…

I don’t know if I’ve ever written here about my teenage brain’s issues with the concept of Hell (and I’m too tired right now to go check). In short, in my high school naivete I thought that you couldn’t be tortured forever because at a certain point you would just become insensitive to it. Pain or torture or whatever would become the norm. At worst you would just give up and/or go insane. Something like that – it made sense at the time.

I’ve since learned that you can put up with a lot more suffering than I would have imagined back then, whether that suffering be physical, mental, or both. You deal with it, you move on, you keep going.

I understand there are folks whose psyche just goes bye bye and they literally just lose it all. I’m NOT in any way, shape, or form saying those folks are any worse or weaker or in any way less than people who keep going. Don’t go there.

But I keep going. Somehow. So far.

That’s really being tested.

Another thing I’ve always believed is that we’re all much stronger than we think we are. We all hate pain and try to avoid it (which is smart, by the way) and it leads to us not truly being tested to our limits. Which, I repeat, is smart because if it’s a “limit” and you go past it you can “break“! Which is generally not good.

Yet I’ve also found (one of those marathon running lessons) that the limits often aren’t where we think they are. Even the ones that are “soft” or in the “gray areas” can be pushed and exceeded. This is true both physically and mentally.

Pushing your physical boundaries by training for a marathon or a mountain climb or some other event can be good. Pushing your physical boundaries by having the zombie apocalypse chasing you is probably bad.

Pushing your mental and endurance boundaries by getting an MBA in your fifties while also working full time can be good. Pushing your mental and endurance boundaries by living through a pandemic crisis is probably bad.

But you can make it through. Most of us will, although few of us will be the same on the other side.

So I’ll finish with another Tweet, not one of mine, but from someone who I greatly admire. She’s better, smarter, and stronger than I’ll ever dream of and she’s used that to do things that I can only fantasize about. She’s learned a few things through those experiences. We should listen to her.

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. And STAY HOME!!!

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Watch Zoey

This may seem an odd post, but I’m doing it because I’m selfish.

Also because if you’re reading this site you’re wonderful and you deserve to know about the greatest show on TV that you might not have heard of.

NBC has a show called “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” this year – I want you to watch it so that the ratings are good enough for it to get picked up for a second season.

It’s hard to describe. I guess it’s a fantasy in that something has happened to Zoey so that she randomly sees people around her singing to her, often accompanied by elaborate dance routines – but these are songs and dances that no one else sees. And the nature of the songs tell her people’s innermost feelings, their anxieties, their loves, their terrors. Given that insight, she has to help them.

Chaos often ensues.

That’s a lousy explanation since the show is so much more. Jane Levy plays Zoey and she is just amazing and spectacular. The entire cast is almost perfect. Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, Mary Steenburgen, Peter Gallagher, Lauren Graham. All wonderful.

The writing and story is creative and bizarre, yet after having bought into the basic premise, I’ve never once thought that they’ve wandered off the rails. It fits one of my personal tests for what truly makes a show great – in any one episode I can at one minute be delighted and laughing and in the next minute be reaching for the tissues. (Yeah, more likely than not you’ll need tissues.)

It’s WONDERFUL!

But shows I like, especially because they’re quirky or intelligent or complex, never make it out of the first season. (Did you ever hear of a 2012 TV show called “Awake” with Jason Isaacs? Spectacular! They didn’t even show all thirteen episodes they shot, pulled it off the air early…) “Zoey” is doing so-so in a really lousy Sunday night slot, but getting some traction online and in streaming via Hulu and on demand services.

So while you’re sitting in your COVID-19 home physical distancing isolation and you’re looking for something to stream next, go over to NBC or Hulu or online or wherever and find “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” Watch an episode or two – you’ll want to watch the rest. Then you can join us on Sunday night for the last handful of shows (there are eight episodes already shown) through April. Tell your friends, get them to watch.

Then the show will be picked up for another year and it will be a GOOD thing to happen in April. (We’re gonna need it!)

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Meditation Might Be Worthless

Hear me out on this one…

I’ve never been much of a meditation sort of guy. Too much of a class clown. Not a big believer in the “woo-woo” side of life.

But I’ve mellowed with age. I’m long, LONG past the stage where I thought I knew everything and I’m now deep, DEEP into the stage where I’m not convinced I know anything. You know – mid-life crisis and all of that. (Anyone makes a crack about how I’m too old to be having a “mid”-life crisis gets shown the far side of the airlock door.)

(And yes, that is the class clown trying to come out and go all Hawkeye Pierce on the situation to distract from the actual crisis. I’m recognizing it – I just can’t stop it, so that’s progress. See?! There we go again…)

Anyway, where I work now we have Wednesday afternoon meditation sessions. Just ten minutes, but I’ll take the break. It’s actually quite relaxing and pleasant. I look forward to it. At last, I did until we went and had to shut down the office due to the COVID-19 crisis.

But here’s the thing.

On a day like today, because of this, and THAT, and then the day I had, and then… And god forbid you should actually read the news. And then we got word (which shouldn’t have been a surprise, but I still had hope) that the Ahmanson’s production of “1776” this summer is being cancelled. You have no idea how much I was looking forward to that.

And that in turn brought up the overwhelming likelihood that “Hamilton” will also be cancelled. It will be. It should be. The world is shit and millions are going to be dying.

And then one of the little escapes that I was truly enjoying (we’ve been binging “The Good Place”) hit the end of the 3rd season (which was an absolute gut punch) and I was desperate to move on to the 4th season to see how it’s resolved. But it’s not out there yet and probably won’t be until fucking AUGUST!!!

And I shouldn’t be starting every sentence with “and,” but I am.

I fully realize (especially writing this out) how privileged and highly ridiculous my particular whine is, given the magnitude of the crisis facing us all. I’ll own that. For better or for worse, this is where the camel’s back got broken for me today.

And as I’m teetering on the abyss, my brain spinning in circles like a rabid squirrel hopped up on meth, grasping at straws, it occurred to me. “Meditation.” Isn’t that what this is for? Isn’t that a much better solution than tearing off your clothes, covering yourself in raspberry preserves, and running screaming through the streets of Los Angeles at night?

Except…

Meditation is slow. It’s methodical. It’s pastoral.

It’s glacial.

I needed something RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!

So it occurs to me that when the chips are down, when you’re facing your particular existential crisis, unless it’s a slow, methodical, pastoral, glacial sort of crisis, meditation might be worthless. Sort of like having a really good, really accurate single-shot long rifle when you’re suddenly attacked by a thousand rabid squirrels armed with machine guns.

And I now realize that my outlet, my solution, my therapy, my way to release Hawkeye Pierce, is to write.

I think there are about five, maybe six people who actually read this site. I don’t know if this outlet for my Day ‘O Shit would be better or worse if that was five or six hundred thousand.

Maybe that will be tomorrow’s existential crisis.

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You Know Who Else Doesn’t Care About COVID-19?

I’ve pointed out that the birds, bees, bunnies, and blossoms don’t really give a rat’s ass about COVID-19, no matter how much we’re stressing. (And believe me, we’re stressing, but still feeling okay here, hope that you’re doing the same!)

You know who else doesn’t care? If you need something beautiful and some perspective, go out tonight (if you’re on the West Coast and it’s early enough) or tomorrow or the next day and look for the crescent Moon and Venus and the Pleiades and Orion and Taurus and all of the other spectacular objects in the evening sky.

These were taken about twenty-five minutes ago:

Four day old Moon and Venus. This is a 1/400 sec exposure and you can see a bit of detail on the Moon. Longer exposures show Venus better, but the Moon’s details wash out pretty quickly from overexposure.

Another 1/400 second exposure, zoomed in all the way with the 300mm lens. Again, some detail on the moon.

But if we take a much longer exposure, 4 seconds, thinking to bring out the palm trees across the street, we get something special:

Click on the image to see it full-sized. Look in the upper right. Those are the Pleiades, M45, an open cluster of young, hot, blue stars.

If you’ve got a clear sky in the next couple of weeks, go out and take a look. The Moon will be moving, but the Pleiades (and Orion off to the left, and Taurus up higher above the Pleiades) will all be clearly visible to the naked eye. If you’ve got a pair of binoculars, they’ll all be spectacular!


Keep your physical distancing. It’s helping to slow down the inevitable spread of the virus.

Wash your hands. It’s a HUGE help to improve your odds of not getting the virus.

And go look up at the wonders above us. It will remind you of why you want to come out the other side from this crisis.

This too shall pass.

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Filed under Astronomy, CoronaVirus, Photography, Space