Sunday, May 24, 2020

FREEDOM PRESERVED -- LIVES ARE SACRIFICED

United States Navy Band plays taps – a 24 note melody, 150 years old – honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of freedom -- especially remembered Memorial Day. 


"This version of taps was recorded by the United States Navy Band at the following locations: Display Ship Barry, Washington Navy Yard U.S. Navy Memorial, Washington, D.C. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.”

The first war in my lifetime, WWII which began when I was a child, is forever imbedded in my memory.   I believe that without a doubt the existence of this country, free, as we know it to be, depended entirely upon our forces prevailing in that war's outcome. Fortunately, allied forces did prevail. 

Our challenge is to safeguard those freedoms with balanced powers among the branches -- executive, legislative, judicial as described in our constitution -- needing to be monitored by public support of a dedicated to truth non-partisan Fourth Estate press.

My only still living cousin who served as a Wave is 96 years old.  My older brother who served in the U.S. Navy submarine service survived the war, but like increasing numbers of aging veterans died in recent years.   

My only brother and sibling focused his later years on Internet searches for reports of naval subs, ships and crews who had been lost at sea during the war.   Some vessels with their occupants had begun to be located in the ocean depths those many decades later and some yet  today. 

My brother was well aware he could easily have been one of those lost at sea.   The enemy fleet had been alarmingly spotted streaming through the Pacific Ocean in the direction of Australia.   At the last minute his commanding officer determined his communication skills were most needed ashore, so reassigned him from the submarine he had expected to be aboard.  That submarine with crew stealthily launched but was never heard from again.   

Regrettably, we have had more wars, more lives lost.    A PBS News Hour special report reveals by clicking on that link how many Americans have died in U.S. wars.  We pay tribute to them all.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

THE FUTURE -- CLAIRE ROTHENBUHLER TRIBUTE

So many vital matters relative to sustaining life and freedom happening as our nation’s leader  creates chaos, allegedly fosters corruption and insanity with too many poorly qualified incompetent subordinates,  defies common sense, rejects scientific facts, appears to consider citizen lives expendable, mouths crocodile tears over health care workers for whom many believe he has not taken adequate actions to provide PPE, allows the travesty of inadequate Covid-19 tests lacking accuracy, promotes like a snake oil salesman a vaccine timeline if met could potentially have questionable reliability, is supported by politicians or legislators, not statespersons, who lack the courage to question him or their other leaders, but I will resist writing about all these matters this time. 

Some aspects of life in this day of the Covid-19 virus do seem like we’re going back to the future.  Remember that 1985 science fiction adventure comedy movie starring Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd?   Fox is a teenager, Marty McFly, who travels back in time from 1985 to 1955 where he meets his future parents.  

I recall my life in the eighties had been so harried and hectic there had been no time for my attending movies for several years.  My young son began prevailing upon me to see this film saying he just knew I would like this story.  So, we went to that movie which he was thoroughly enjoying seeing for the second time – he was so right – I delighted in the movie, too!  

Years later, in real life, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s which may have altered his acting career, but he has continued appearing admirably in a number of entertaining TV series roles and promotes finding a cure for this disease. 

My cousin’s husband, Walter Rothenbuhler, had his career -- University teaching and research in the genetics of bees for which he received international recognition -- cut short at his peak by Parkinson’s.   He once told me the first indication he had a problem occurred in his speech when he was lecturing one of his classes.  I still have a small piece of beeswax left that he gave my mother decades earlier when she bemoaned her sewing thread fraying and tangling during the WWII shortage due to the war effort.  Walter served in the military, but during WWII, beeswax was so much in demand for coating planes and weapons that some beekeepers were deferred from service. 

Walter died in 2002, his wife Claire died May 3 this year, age 95.  Family who ordinarily visited many times daily sadly were no longer able to do so her final days due to the Covid-19 quarantine.  I had last enjoyed a lengthy visit with her four years ago.  She was the last older family member I still had living with whom to reminisce.   She was warm, friendly, loving, a very accomplished person who treasured family, 4 children, and also taught chemistry when she and Walter were at Iowa State and Ohio State Universities.  Claire will be remembered by many.  She will be missed.   

Many years after Walter died, I recall one particular patient with Parkinson’s I provided swallowing therapy who had been the recipient of a brain stimulation implant which was new then.  Some benefits occurred for him and I couldn’t help wishing this had been available for my family member those years ago.  Fox has had some brain surgery, is said to want no more, but later he is reported to have had spinal surgery after a fall slowing his plans to return to planned television series. 

Today, some communities are going back to the future with the re-emergence of drive-in restaurants with car hops – usually young girls who deliver food and beverage orders to individual cars.  Some drive-ins years ago had car hop girls on roller skates though I was never served by any skaters.    

Drive-in movie theaters were once very popular, reported to number in 4000 with only about 300 remaining now.    Existing drive-ins, a few still here in Southern California, have taken on new life in these viral days with social distancing.  People must remain in their individual cars, thus easily maintaining the recommended distance from other patrons while enjoying a large screen movie much like the indoor experience.   

The sound quality has been improved since I last attended a drive-in movie.  They have done away with those boxes we hung on our windows for the sound.  We can still utilize our  individual car radio system now if we don’t mind draining our car battery.  Talkie Man describes a preferable alternative system: 

“Modern drive-in movies use FM transmitters to transmit the audio from the movie to the folks watching.”  Antenna on a quality portable FM radio “....can give you the full-on immersive audio with sound effects you’d expect from a cinema”.

The last drive-in movie I recall our family attended was nearby, but that screen and parking area has long since been replaced by a shopping center.   We saw the movie “Star Wars” so the nighttime outdoor setting was most fitting since the screen bled into a sky filled with stars – just a visual extension of many of the film’s space scenes.  Reminiscing with my now adult children recently I learned the movie made more of an impression on me than them.  They reclined on their tummies in our station wagon, peering through the windshield over the seat back, awake throughout the whole film, but not as impressed as I was apparently.  

Years later when my granddaughter was a teenager, I located one of the few drive-in theaters remaining in our area on one of their visits.   My daughter and I took her to the drive-in movie so she could have the experience before such venues became extinct.  I don’t recall now what movie we saw as it was quite unimpressive, but then that hadn’t been the point of our going there. 

Television home screens video and audio can be so large with such high quality now, I think most people might prefer the convenience of just staying at home to traipsing off to a drive-in unless the feature was one they couldn’t expect to see elsewhere any time soon.   

Would you want to go to a drive-in movie now in these shelter-at-home days?   
Do you have memories of any drive-in movie experiences 
     – at least any that you would want to share here?  
Are there any drive-in theaters remaining where you live, or do you even know

Sunday, May 10, 2020

MOTHER'S DAY BEGINS CELEBRATORY WEEK

As if we don’t have enough on our minds with the coronavirus, Murder Hornets seem now to have supplanted Killer Bees as some of the latest creatures with which we must contend.  I’ve also read that the number and variety of insects in our environment are diminishing so their demise may eventually deprive some creatures a food source.  

We humans aren’t the only ones having to adjust our lives to changes, including food availability, though we’re assured there is no shortage.   Such environmental issues impact all life on earth since we are connected.   Our world ecosystem is described by You Matter.    

Survival is the name of the game for all.   Like most of you, I care about the issues above, coupled with others with which we’re faced today, but I periodically must take a respite from thinking about the seriousness of living.  So, I racked my brain to come up with something to celebrate this week in addition to the many benefits and privileges for which I am personally thankful. 

V. E. Day – Victory in Europe, celebrated May 8th when World War II ended with a victory over fascism, was a momentous day in my young life 75 years ago.  Great Britain though subjected to devastating bombings, other hardships and sacrifices, was determined to never surrender.   Other assaults can threaten a nation's people in addition to war's violence and destruction. 

Dame Vera Lynn, a popular singer, also morale builder of that time, still living at 103 today, reminds us “hope remains in even the most difficult of times” as she is recently quoted by the BBC.  Here she reminds us "It's A Lovely Day Tomorrow".   I still tear up when I hear “White Cliffs of Dover” from those WWII days.  Another of her favored songs has taken on new appreciation and significance now in these days of Covid-19, when we are so separated from one another –“We’ll Meet Again".

Dame Vera Lynn, known as the "Forces Sweetheart", performing at age 77 during a concert aboard the QE 2 on 6 June 1984, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.  Walter Cronkite, veteran U.S. Broadcaster introduced her.



Further thought has provided me with no unique or original celebratory ideas, so I’ve resorted to referencing the National Day Calendar which provides a multitude of celebratory choices for every day in the month, every month and year. 

Today, of course, is Mother’s Day – the second Sunday in May.
This day honoring mothers has been special all the years of my life.  I’ve paid tribute to my mother in years past on this blog.  I still miss her, always will.

According to the calendar, the day is also National Clean Up Your Room Day – seems fitting, especially to anyone who has or had children. 

I decided to arbitrarily select a celebratory listing from the calendar for each day of this coming week. 

Monday, May 11th
National Twilight Zone Day

My favored identification to celebrate is the classic Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone television series first aired decades ago.  These stories have a unique twist with some plots eerily significant to our present lives.

There is another more bizarre connection that comes to mind for me.  This is a sense that we’re currently living in a twilight zone with the current U.S. federal government administration and coronavirus turning our lives upside down and inside out.


Tuesday, May 12th
National Limerick Day

Limerick’s are nonsense verse, simple, sometimes silly, humorous, often risque poems.   Nature Center Mag reminded me of Ogden Nash’s version of The Purple Cow:  

I never saw a purple cow
I hope I never see one,
But I can tell you this right now:
I'd rather see than be one.

Interesting Literature offers this:  

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean  
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

Then there’s William Stone, M.D. who writes medical limericks like this about the Hantavirus:    

If you plan a trip to Yosemite
There’s a virus in that vicinity
It is carried by deer mice
Their excretions aerosolized
Can infect those in their proximity

Wednesday, May 13th   
National Apple Pie Day 

My mother made the best apple pie I ever ate.  Some of her secrets were the type apple she used, preparatory techniques and adding a teaspoon or so of brewed coffee in the center of the pie before baking.  I like to add a dollop of vanilla ice cream on a warmed slice of baked apple pie.   

Thursday, May 14th
National Decency Day

Vocabulary definition:    

decency. The personal quality of decency is one of honesty, good manners, and respect for other people. ... When a criminal or dictator does horrible things, people assume they have no sense of decency.”

Seems to have been a lot of decency lacking in our White House the past four years.  Fortunately, many Americans have retained their sense of decency which I celebrate.


Friday, May 15th
National Chocolate Chip Day

This is a tasty way to celebrate, with a good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie.  I don’t mind if macadamia or other kind of nut is added to the cookie dough. 


Saturday, May 16th
National Do Something Nice For Your Neighbor Day
National Love A Tree Day

I decided to have a dual celebration to wrap up my celebratory week.  I value my interconnectedness with others whether next door in my immediate neighborhood, or with those in the world community – including those in this virtual community.  Cherishing all life forms to which I'm also connected, I do love trees as symbolic of our planet’s environmental forces significant to my life.   

Do you have a favorite day celebration you would choose from my list above, or a special celebration of your own for this week?

Sunday, May 03, 2020

MAYDAY -- AGE DIFFERENCES


MAYDAY

The first day of May brought to mind a term that probably could have been applied when the virus with which we’re now coping emerged to become a world pandemic.  “Mayday” is that term which is the international distress signal used mostly by aircraft and ships.  

The term’s adoption in English was in 1923 as described in Merriam-Webster’s Word History:

“Owing to the difficulty of distinguishing the letter “S” by telephone, the international distress signal “S.O.S” will give place to the words “May-day”, the phonetic equivalent of “M’aidez”, the French for “Help me.”
---“New Air Distress Signal, “The Times [London], 2 Feb. 1923”

Most of us likely became familiar with that Mayday term and meaning in dramatic story sequences we read in books or saw in movies.   We now contend with a different type of drama as dissension surfaces over whether or not we need to continue wearing masks and  sheltering-in-place.  Meanwhile, we each adapt and protect ourselves in our own way despite what others do.   I continue to mask and stay in my home though some may choose to do otherwise.


AGE DIFFERENCES SIGNIFICANCE

The other day thoughts came to mind causing me to recall some instances in my life when I’ve been sensitive to age differences.   I thought about some of my friends married to contemporaries with both still living and I admit to feeling a bit envious.   Perhaps, if I had married someone my age I wouldn’t be alone now.  Of course, I know that’s all fantasy thinking, that numerous other scenarios could have occurred. 
   
I recall in my mid-twenties dating a guy who was developing a widow’s peak hairline leading me to assume he was older than me, a belief he reinforced.  When he finally revealed that he was, in fact, several years my junior, I was not only surprised but bothered by that difference, partly because he had been less than honest with me.  I’m not sure now why our age difference concerned me, beyond the fact he mis-lead me in the first place, though I did wonder what else he might avoid the truth about.   But for some reason I do recall being bothered that he was younger which seems not to matter to me now.   In the long run it wasn’t an issue since we eventually mutually ended our relationship. 

Then, there was the occasion when I was in my seventh decade, continuing to work.  I periodically interacted at my work site with a much younger person that was especially enjoyable for several reasons, including we shared a similar sense of humor.   I was pleased when in time that person’s administrative skills and talents were recognized, resulting in their advancement to a responsible higher level position.  We continued to kibbitz as before on those generally less frequent occasions when we met. 

Then, one day our conversation somehow resulted in my incidentally, but casually, mentioning my age.  I’ll never forget the startled look on my friend’s face, who after a long pause, commented, ”I thought you were about the same age as me.”  I don’t know what significance this difference made to my friend as nothing was altered for me.  I had always had a variety of friends on the age range spectrum. 

I do know that from that day forward, whenever we came in contact the person became very formal, kept the interaction brief.   So, I respected the invisible line that was being drawn for whatever the reasons. 

Have you ever encountered an individual or situation when age difference had significance to you, them or both of you? 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

CONTROVERSY -- ENVIRONMENT -- SQUIRRELLY


CONTROVERSY
The Stanford study findings as reported in my previous post have created a lot of controversy.  Now a Los Angeles study supports the results of the Stanford study.  Neither of these studies have been published yet to receive peer reviews.   These reviews are vital critical steps in research to examine study elements replicability, credibility and reliability to determine if they are valid to also support the conclusions. 

These studies do indicate the virus is much more widespread than has been thought.  Additional information suggests the first U.S. West Coast cases occurred earlier than believed, possibly in California, not Washington. 

Questions are being raised about the reliability of the study tests used.  Another source of bias was the manner in which social media was used to obtain participants. 

This information is pertinent in determining what is best for each of us to consider in order to prevent our contracting or spreading the virus as discussed in this Modern Health Care Associated Press (AP) article.  Pertinent cautions are offered for individuals and government officials formulating policy including: 

"Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, said the tests are not well validated and they overestimate the number of people who have been infected. Some may conclude that if that many people have been infected without symptoms severe enough to seek a test or medical attention, it's not a major threat.
"The problem is they've given a false sense that this is not a bad virus after all," Topol said. "It's bad math, bad tests and bad outcomes for the confusion that it engenders."
Meanwhile, more people are gradually being tested but so many more should have been tested earlier and still need to be now. 

Most recently critics of the Stanford Study include Travis Gerke, an epidemiologist and visiting scientist at Harvard who discusses another of the study authors, John Ioannidis, also a highly regarded epidemiologist.  He “... has wondered if Ioannidis should consider rereading his own most famous paper, “Why Most Published Research Findings are False.”

“His current study fits most of the high-risk criteria for falsehood that he outlines, such as publishing in a really hot scientific field with few corroborating studies, using a small bias sample, [and] reporting provocative findings in a politically charged arena,” Gerke said.”

This all matters because decisions about how we best protect ourselves, whether or not we shelter-in-place or freely resume business as usual, moving somewhat safely about in our communities, are highly influenced by the results of these studies and more to come. 

Incidentally, the next time we read articles on any topic citing research studies we might be wise to consider if any high-risk criteria for falsehood might apply to their study conclusions.

ENVIRONMENT
One upside positive effect of this virus is on our environment here in So Cal.   Los Angeles now has some of the clearest air in the world since we have so few polluting autos on the road.  Air is cleaner elsewhere in the world too, including China and India cities.   More wildlife creatures are making their appearance on the streets in surrounding communities since fewer humans are infringing on what was once the animals’ habitat.  Mother Earth may be sending us a message, but will we listen?

A downside is that this virus is (just as are organized violence. riots, insurrection) a wanna-be autocratic leader’s dream, offering the opportunity to legally take more control of a country, all in the name of securing health, safety and security of the citizens.  Fostering confusion and chaos helps create an environment conducive to being able to take such action with the approval of many citizens.  Maybe even justifying declaring martial law. 

Controls will all seem quite justified and acceptable to the people as they relinquish their freedoms – but with that kind of leader they may never regain those freedoms in the future.   In fact, citizens may lose even more freedoms – truth will become obscured, the press will parrot only the government’s view, dissension will not be tolerated.  History tells us this has happened repeatedly in the past and in our lifetime even now. 

We might want to keep that in mind during our Cornonavirus in the weeks and months ahead.  Can we count on Congressional oversight and our Constitution to insure we would regain any freedoms if we have any taken from us expecting them to be returned?    


SQUIRRELLY
Anyone following this blog knows that as shelter-in-place due to the coronavirus was initiated, simultaneously I was without my internet connection and phone land line for almost a week before a repairman was able to come troubleshoot the problem (glad I also had a cell phone).  Fortunately, he didn’t need to come into the house which neither of us wanted.   Seems as I wrote then, he diagnosed, then repaired lines outside my house because some critter – likely a squirrel – had chewed my wiring, creating my communication life-line catastrophe.

My affection for these bushy-tailed squirrelly rodents has been gradually decreasing through the years due to their escalating misbehaviors increasingly outweighing, in my mind, the cuteness of their behaviors.   The past few weeks I’ve repeatedly had to retrieve from the patio cement, items that I had to return to the patio table where they belonged.  I couldn’t understand what was happening with these objects.   One afternoon I glanced out the glassed-in-door-window from my living room to see a switching fluffy-tailed squirrel in obvious deep  thought as he reclined on my lounge chair next to the patio table.  My detective-self pondered the evidence, then thought, aha!

While he/she squirrel was not actually caught in any malevolent acts, I am firmly convinced that squirrel is attempting to move in and take over my residence.  First, the attempts to sever my connection to the outside world.  Then comes the repeated mysterious disorienting relocations of my possessions on the patio table as he moves closer to accessing the interior of my house.  So, there he was, reclining in my lounge chair, plotting his next move.  I carefully moved to unlock my door to confront him but Squirrelly instantly departed upon hearing my lock’s click.  We will likely have a  day of reckoning in our future.   

As if I don’t have enough on my mind with this CORVID-19, though I can take comfort that isolating the past five weeks in my home isn’t getting to me.  I only talked to that web designer spider once, but now they say a possibly worse virus rebound in the fall accompanied by the flu is a possibility, then we may have a food shortage in another year.  My mind reels.

I wonder if I should start a raised garden in my backyard – but what about the squirrel – will he come with his pals and even invite the birds?  The raccoons, possums and skunks can't be far behind.  I’ve noticed the mockingbirds flitting about as they follow my every move when I go outdoors, I suspect calling reports to one another in ever-changing song language codes.   Meanwhile I haven’t lost my sanity – I’m only paranoid, or maybe that's a virus transmitted from our nation’s leader.  I’ll have to take each day as it comes.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

REOPEN BUSINESS, SHELTER-IN-PLACE, MASK?

Lots of controversy about whether or not we need extreme shelter-in-place requirements with many businesses closed during this Coronavirus.   I’ve been pretty convinced based on health, science conclusions and recommendations the answer was a resounding “YES”!    Then, as I was readying for bed the other night I heard a name mentioned on the news that I recognized.  Seems he had been involved with conducting some research that was bringing the necessity of closed businesses and sheltering-in-place into question.   

“Via Stanford's Hoover Institution -- Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine at Stanford University. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a senior fellow at both the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute.

His March 24, 2020, article in the Wall Street Journal questions the premise that “coronavirus would kill millions without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines.” In the article, he suggests that “there’s little evidence to confirm that premise—and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.”

Dr. Bhattacharya was asked “in this edition of Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson to defend that statement and describe to us how he arrived at this conclusion. We get into the details of his research, which used data collected from hotspots around the world and his background as a doctor, a medical researcher, and an economist. It’s not popular right now to question conventional wisdom on sheltering in place, but Dr. Bhattacharya makes a strong case for challenging it, based in economics and science.”

Here’s Dr. Bhattacharya youtube interview discussion of test results for COVID-19 conducted “in Santa Clara County, California, one of the most active hotspots in the country”.   Another study recently completed with results to be released soon was done in partnership with Major League Baseball.  He mentions even another recently completed interesting-sounding study with results soon to be released. 

There is discussion of “some signs of hope, and specifics about how the economy can be restarted safely and efficiently.  Dr. Bhattacharya also gives some (unsolicited) advice to Dr. Anthony Fauci, California governor Gavin Newsom and president Donald Trump.” 


Well, what to think now about opening up our businesses and how we safely go about it?  How much do we need to shelter-in-place?   Should we continue to mask?  There is so much still unknown about this virus. 

No matter what develops on businesses reopening, I remain convinced this U.S. President, his Administration, have failed and continue to do so in seeing that our medical community has the potentially life-saving PPE (personal protective equipment) needed.  There must be accountability when the immediacy of the challenges we face now have reached some level of resolution. 

Considering Dr. Bhattacharya’s present research results, I look forward to the eminent reports to come.   Confessing to being a news junkie, I’ll be interested in what actions our California governor, Los Angeles mayor and that of our own City Council take in the days and weeks ahead.  Certainly, the words and actions of our nation’s President will be of concern as well as what other states’ leaders do, and how residents react. 

Ventura County California is expected to become the first area in our state to loosen restrictions including opening golf courses and allowing more access to their beaches which were never completely closed.  People age 70-75 and older are still recommended to stay inside.    

I live in northeast Los Angeles County and continue to stay inside my house.   I wear my mask whenever I venture out to occasional drive-thrus, or as I did today to pick up pre-ordered items brought to my car.   Only a half-block from my home I returned when I realized I had forgotten my mask.   Thinking of the virus I was reminded of the businesses reopening issue, controversy of need to shelter-in-place since Dr. Bhattacharya’s research. 

My thoughts wandered as I started recalling that upper elementary school boy and his younger brother that I used to give rides to school on rainy days.  I remembered when they reached high school, took national tests making such high grades they received a great deal of So Cal recognition, that they had gone on to attend college, Jay at Stanford, that he became a doctor.  I lost track of his further studies but have since learned they were in economics. 

Now I read he has also focused some of his work on aging issues associated with older people.  When last I spoke with his mother we hadn’t discussed our children or grandchildren.  Neither of us have been out in the neighborhood for a while but there will be much to talk about when next we meet.   

Meanwhile, if I kept an isolation diary it might read something like this I poached from another blogger whose name or blog I apologize for forgetting. 

Isolation
Day 31:  I had a conversation with a spider today.  She seems nice – is a Web Designer. 

There seems to be no one unified message so what do you think about businesses reopening, sheltering-in-place, everyone continuing to wear masks, older people being expected to continue staying in? 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

WARM HUGS


These days, especially when we’re focused on staying in our homes, can present an opportunity to engage in activities we enjoy and to explore some new ideas, too.  So, when a family member told me her good friend, Melissa R. Phillips, had launched a unique website, in memory of her mother, 
“The Warm Hug Project” (click on link) I was curious to visit, where I read:   

The Warm Hug Project provides donated handmade knitted or crocheted shawls to both men and women living with dementia. When the hugs of Caregivers, Nursing Home Staff, or Family are unavailable, The Warm Hug Project shawls are there to wrap the memory-impaired person in a soft sanctuary of reassurance.”

I noted there was even a helpful link to a YouTube video demonstrating “how to” make the simple stitch needed to create those colorful “warm hug” shawls for those wanting to acquire a new skill some may have always wanted to learn. 

Perhaps The Warm Hug Project is a site and activity you, too, will find to be of special interest.  These are times when we all likely seek comfort, but especially as we maintain distance from one another these shawls will convey their caring message.   Receiving a tangible warm hug shawl for many will continue to be welcomed long after our current health crisis resolves.

Currently, many family members are separated from one another due to COVID 19, able to interact only via technological means, or some only able to engage from opposite sides of a window.  For those individuals with dementia circumstances now could be most confusing with reassuring warm hug shawls most valued.

We often begin to fret as we enter the last half of our age span whether the little forgetful events we occasionally experience indicate we’re developing a serious mental problem.  We fear having a dementia which can result in our having varying degrees of diminishing abilities, also sometimes altering our personalities in unexpected ways.

The most dreaded dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease which ultimately robs a person of themselves in every way.   Friends and loved ones experience having the relationship being stolen from them. The extended period of time this disease progresses is sometimes described as “the long goodbye”.  The individual’s personality gradually erodes as their cognitive skills and memory are lost, along with functional abilities including communication. 

Caregivers are challenged physically and mentally to adapt to a person with Alzheimer’s.  For loved ones this can be especially difficult.  There are inevitable changes that can stress a caregiver’s patience to the extreme.  The caregiver must take care of themselves during this time to maintain their own physical and mental health – easier said than done. 

Not everyone will develop a dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but meanwhile research for treatment and prevention continues.  

I wonder, is there anyone who doesn’t personally know or know of someone who has developed dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease? 

Friday, April 03, 2020

JAZZ CELEBRATES ELLIS MARSALLIS' LIFE

L.A. MASKING

We have now been told to wear cloth (cotton) masks we can make ourselves – NOT to use the N95s and respirator masks that should be for hospital doctors, nurses, health care workers being exposed to COVID 19. 

Soon after, today's TV news interviews with Los Angeles County health officials recommending we wear masks which could protect against the larger COVID 19 virus molecules Californians began taking action.   

I lamented in an email to a friend my sewing machine to make a mask was in need of repair.   She forwarded a link to this Karen S. Kloset video her son had just sent her that will show you how to quickly and easily make your own mask with no sewing required.   

Here's a link to another "zero-stitch mask" designed by Runa Ray that creates a pocket allowing insertion of a filter should you acquire any.
                                    
Shortly after emailing me my friend devised a cloth mask for herself without sewing.   She used her granddaughters’ hairbands for hooking around the ears and cut up a colorful old nightgown for fabric, sending me an email photo wearing her mask that I jokingly characterized to her as “bandito” that I won’t share here in respect for her privacy!

Just as I was chuckling at her photo my doorbell rang.  Opening my door I saw an Asian couple I didn’t recognize standing at some distance in my driveway.   These limited English speakers offered me a small bag with free face masks which I appreciatively accepted.   The bag was left for me to retrieve after closing my door to provide the social distancing we maintain.  What a thoughtful generous gesture from unknown to me caring people.

We're being told by some health care professionals to anticipate several more months ahead much as we're experiencing now.  Stay well all!

Addendum:

This is the last from the U.S. National Institutes of Health in 2013 testing the efficacy of homemade masks against influenza for what it’s worth:  “better than nothing”.

For any interested in comparisons of masks worn by doctors, nurses, healthcare workers from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM)  at the University of Oxford.


JAZZ CELEBRATES ELLIS MARSALLIS' LIFE AS MUSICIAN AND EDUCATOR 

Born: November 14, 1934 New Orleans, La.     
Died: April 1, 2020  New Orleans, La, -- Complications of COVID 19

Pianist, patriarch of a renowned family of jazz musicians including internationally famous Bradford and Wynton plays his composition - "Homecoming" on his 80th birthday at Lincoln Center in this NPR video.  



Sunday, March 29, 2020

SO CAL -- COMMUNICATION -- TECHNOLOGY

  
Writing here becomes increasingly challenging for me to avoid discussing the issue dominating in the USA today as it likely does in other nations around the world.    Most specifically in the state of California and county of Los Angeles where I live, escalating COVID 19 is spreading through all ages bringing the obvious potential for mild to severe illness, even the possibility of life and death.      

As a former health care worker in U.S. medical settings I am raging angry at the politicized medical distortions promulgated from the White House for too long, minimizing the seriousness of this COVID 19’s effects on our nation’s citizens -- the neglect of timely preventative measures to slow the disease spreading, including lack of availability of diagnostic tests – the failure to effectively provide personal protective equipment and adequate working medical equipment, including respirators and ventilators for nurses and doctors use to save patient’s lives and their own as State governments have sought help.  

Should you wonder about the meanings of some Coronavirus terms such as those last two prominent now, click on this Vox site link.   

Following the Administration’s lead the echo chamber of one national media outlet and other ill-informed broadcasters continue their pattern of all too often dispensing misleading manipulative reports masquerading as factual news which I find dangerous and insulting as people capable of critical thinking recognize.  Efforts to contradict accounts from those medical workers who are actually providing the patient treatments, also blaming responsible press reporting those actual facts as hyping is nothing short of criminal distortions of truth.    

Here in California, So Cal, in keeping with sane precautions we’re increasingly being ordered to stay inside our homes.  We stay in our yards, may walk on our streets in a limited manner but basically confine ourselves.   Pacific Ocean coastal beaches, piers, parks and hiking trails, including those popular in my city, have had to be closed since too many individuals frequented the areas compromising voluntary social distancing requirements.  Trips for essentials at grocery stores, pharmacies, drive-thru restaurants are still acceptable.   

We’ve had only one person diagnosed with COVID 19 in my city to date.   We’re about 30 miles east of Los Angeles with multiple cities in between all running into one another, some of which have residents with the virus.  An immediately adjacent city is the location of one of our hospitals where the first Los Angeles County virus diagnosed patient died.   A student at one of our city’s five undergraduate colleges and two graduate schools was diagnosed with the virus.  Immediately all colleges cancelled on site classes for the remaining semester with students leaving campus and the city as their dormitories closed. Airports such as Los Angeles (LAX) are virtually vacant as few people are flying commercially.

The United States Navy Hospital Ship “Mercy” docked at L.A.’s San Pedro, like USN’s “Comfort” recently docked in New York, is accepting non-COVID 19 patients from hospitals to free bed availabilities for expected inundations of infected patients in April needing admission at those facilities. 

Take a video tour of the USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) hospital ship. The Mercy class of hospital ships are converted supertankers now used by the United States Navy as naval ambulances. In this video: Interior medical spaces, engine room, pilothouse, and various other spaces.”



Californians hope the proactive preventative measures instituted by our Governor Newsom and L.A. Mayor Garcetti, if followed by citizens, will minimize the adverse consequences COVID 19 threatens.  Would that our Federal Government’s leaders had been and would still be more concerned for citizens welfare, be capable of implementing more effective problem-solving actions other than belatedly reacting in a hodge-podge manner.  

Despite how well we plan for ourselves and our families, unexpected events can even upset our best efforts.   Recent news in the Los Angeles area reports a community that has had an extensive power outage still being repaired as I write this.  Families are lamenting the lengthy outage duration has resulted in their losing refrigerated food they had purchased to use through this COVID 19 isolation period creating a variety of problems for them. 

On a more positive note, individuals all over the country are sewing masks, though not usually designed to meet the N95s medical filter level status, they do function with varying degrees of protection.  These are being distributed to hospital staffs in the creators’ areas.

One of several mask creators in the L.A. area most recently catching my attention is a Downs Syndrome man who initiated the idea with his sister who has joined and assisted him in making masks for doctors and nurses.  Are there individuals or groups where you live aiding as those sewing masks, for example,  in combatting this COVID 19?

My thoughts are with each of you who read here, wherever you are in the world.  I do hope you are safe, have been able to amply prepare to nourish yourselves adequately and stay well, especially if confined indoors.  For those of us who have friends and loved ones living elsewhere that we can’t unite with in person, we can be glad for technology that offers us various ways to interact. 

Friends of mine who have a large family scattered about So Cal and Nevada typically have family gatherings at varying family members’ homes on several holiday occasions each year.   Plans are being made for them to have an audio video collective group gathering at a designated time on a web site offering such capability this next holiday.   I may propose something similar to my much smaller family unit, but one scattered from coast to coast and north to south borders. 

What technological approach would you propose using or recommend?   For example, I have Face Time on my Apple devices.  My friends may use Zoom.   This recent New York Times article discussed this very topic.

What innovative ideas do you have for bridging the separation gap from others?
What togetherness activity as my friends plan appeals to you with friends and loved ones?   
Might you consider such a get-together in the future? 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

LIFE'S INTERRUPTIONS -- CRITTERS, BUGS -- HOPE


INTERNET RE-CONNECTED – FINALLY!    
Thanks to some little critter chewing on my internet and landline phone wire connections outside my home I lost the service of both the day after my previous posting.   

Five days later was the earliest I could receive service, so I had to depend on my cell phone and texting necessitating using a keyboard for which I have the greatest animosity – several alphabet letters on each key – what a pain!     I briefly reconsidered possibly acquiring a lsmart phone but again concluded I presently don’t need or want one. 

Thanks to my all-news Los Angeles radio station, KNX, coupled with my erratic TV programming I could keep up with the rapidly changing issues evolving with the spread of the Coronavirus -- local, state and federal official associated actions – to determine how I would be affected.  My antenna TV reception was inconsistent due to signal interference caused by our rainy weather atmospheric conditions.  

There are typically few occasions when our weather conditions are such that I’ve experienced this TV signal interference, so this has not proved to be a problem generally – one that only began when broadcasting changed from analog to digital transmissions initiated a few years ago as described by clicking on this site.

SAFER AT HOME
All the world knows now that due to COVID 19 community spreading in Los Angeles County and our entire state, residents are being ordered to voluntarily stay in our homes referred to as Safer At Home.  Most small retail businesses are closed as are restaurants except for carry-out or drive-thru.  Farmers Markets are reported to be good fresh food sources.

I think progressive changes have been gradually moving us toward what has the potential for requiring even more strict requirements if the situation worsens as some project.    All this in an effort to thwart the most severe COVID 19 spreading effects to our citizens necessary to lessen demands on a health system reported to be inadequately equipped to address such a problem. 

I’ll share my experiences for whatever it might or might not be of interest to others.  The last time I was in a grocery store was a week or two ago before the first person in Los Angeles County died locally from the Coronavirus (refer to my previous post).  I had gradually purchased the final few items that week to add to my earthquake emergency preparedness kit – now my Coronavirus kit.   Even when I shopped so early hand sanitizer liquid and wipes were no longer available, so I still have none.   I anticipated if the virus progressed here as it had in other countries I did not want to be out in stores, knowing humankind would likely devolve into just the sort of rush on stores we’ve seen with shelves being stripped clean of products. 

No doubt some people are hoarding, also a few may be hoping to make a buck by selling items at inflated prices – they will be aggressively prosecuted if their asking price is increased by more than ten percent.  But I think most people, especially those with families – children, older and special needs family members, maybe a few who might be shopping for others, for example – are simply trying to purchase needed items they hope will last for the unknown duration of this event so they won’t have to leave the safety of their homes to even go to the store – which is also my intent.  Some stores have recently setup a special time period for oldsters and disabled to shop before opening to the public, also have started limiting the number of some high demand items that can be purchased. 

I have only left my home twice to go to drive thru businesses – a nearby pharmacy, though my regular pharmacy provides free delivery service  which I’ve used too.  I realized despite my planning I had no acetaminophen, only another type of anti-inflammatory pain reliever said not to be best to use for the COVID 19.   I thought I’d just order some on the net, but they were basically sold out with only one source at inflated pricing, so was pleased my drug store had a bottle for me when I phoned them the next day.  My previous medical work has had me well-prepared to engage in lots of hand washing, plus I have a box of gloves purchased years ago. 

NEIGHBORS
The first day after the initial stay-in-our-homes announcement, especially older people, two  younger neighbors arrived at my door independently of each other bringing me containers of delicious home-made soups – chicken tortilla and minestrone – I’ve only now finished eating the last servings.   Both offered help should I need it and would purchase store items for me when they went out.  I consider myself extremely fortunate they’re concerned for me and another contemporary living alone nearby though she does have family in California which I do not.   We do observe the staying 6 feet distance from one other and I have no one entering my home.

I do find myself thinking of what I could do for others if I was more able.  I am unaccustomed to being on the receiving care end, but I know how important it is to caregivers for the care recipient to kindly and graciously accept offers of assistance – not to be too demanding.   When I retired a few years ago I never imagined my physical activity would have been slowed as has  occurred.  I fully expected to be hopping around with much more agility as some others older than me who are in their nineties or more seem able to do – my possibly volunteering to aid others at a time like this  But, we all age differently I remind myself and I am where I am, so adjust and adapt to my body’s dictates, continuing to value my sleek blue cane companion. 

TAXES
I’m pleased we have a reprieve until July 15 for filing our federal income taxes.  Our state income taxes previously extended to June have now been aligned with the federal July date for submission both of which I must complete.   I don’t lack for ways to occupy my time while this stay at home order prevails. 

FAMILY
My children and I keep in contact across the country now that I have internet connections again.   I’m relieved they are able to work from their homes, one independently, the other whose company supports doing so, a grandchild in pharmaceutical graduate school studying at home now -- required necessary lab work postponed until a future semester -- meanwhile part time work in a pharmacy causes me to hope grandchild has access to protective items available for use.  Other elementary school grandchildren are adapting to being home all the time – as are their parents.  I sent them some jigsaw puzzles and a couple hands-on exploratory-type kits.   

COVID 19 PREVENTION
I’m distressed the advance preparation for this Coronavirus has been decidedly negligent at the Federal level.  Clearly this rests at the feet of the highest level of our government despite all the excuses, blaming of others our prevaricating leader utters.  If this isn’t critical to ensuring the security of the American public, I don’t know what is, once again revealing incompetence and betrayal by this President to his oath of office. 

We must focus on weathering the full fury of this infection.   When the disease peak finally passes, there must be an accounting for the negligent preparation, delayed initiation of preventative efforts and even timely production of protective gear and equipment -- not only for our caregivers but ordinary citizens – including the continuing absence of adequate numbers of tests to even establish the presence of the virus. 

DENIERS
I’m constantly amazed at the attitude of a longtime friend (age 89) who has been an ardent supporter of our current national ruling regime.   She is angry and resents being told we are being confined to our homes.   In fact, she took no responsibility for her own behavior, making a point of walking about many stores the day before the request to stay home had to be made an order.   She has perceived the threats of this virus as being overblown echoing our nation’s leader, but now resents being unable to go about her life as usual.  A cult-like mentality willing to engage in self-destruction seems to prevail with some, lacking in critical thinking, or understanding of even basic science.  They can jeopardize their own lives if they choose, but, unfortunately, all of us are affected.

She demonstrates no effort at her workstation to provide protective germ-killing cleaning between clients.  Many of her clients have cancelled appointments as I have done.  She lauds  this government’s actions confronting the viruses danger, excuses all the obvious previous shortcomings and never seems to mind all the blatant lies told by our leader – some actually contradicted by the facts -- such as everybody could get a Coronavirus test, and ignores respected scientific experts having to clarify a certain medication was not yet proved to be a safe, effective treatment for the virus contrary to our leader’s assertions.

Just because our self-proclaimed genius leader said he “feels” use is supported to counter the virus because he knows he’s been right about so many things does not make it so.  Who can believe these bizarre pronouncements, respect such a person, or want to follow this kind of leader? 

The debt this nation will incur to aid our citizens, as we should,  results in this leader  successfully leading our nation toward incredible deficits  --  which, coincidentally is what he  accomplished most in his own personal business career – multiple bankruptcies.  What would revelations from his hidden tax returns show?      

BIRD WORLD
Big Bear Bald Eagles finally gave up expecting their eggs would hatch and left them overnight during the time I was without Internet service.  Reports are that the ravens moved in and ate the eggs contents.   Jackie and Shadow, the parental eagles, have surprised everyone by bringing more twigs and fluff to the nest.  This leaves researchers studying them wondering if they’re planning to lay some more eggs this late in the spring, or are they just indicating an intention to remain a pair who will return to raise a family next season?   

Heard on the news the past afternoon that the Big Bear mayor has tested positive for COVID 19.  So, the mountain elevations are no hinderance to the virus activity,

PPE
We continue to have a drastic shortage of personal protective items, masks and gowns especially critical for our health care providers.   A continuing need for equipment, especially ventilators, is ongoing.  It is just incredible to me that only today do I hear our nation’s leader finally announcing he’s ordering release of some additional masks for our health care workers.

Reports I read earlier stated many stored reserve masks dates indicate some have expired.  You can read about the implications on this 3M worker safety website and on this Business Insider website specifically addressing the n95 face mask. 

Doctors and Nurses report on TV they’re running out of protective gear such as masks, gowns, goggles, are pleading for more if community has any they can donate.

GOOD NEWS
FDA has approved the first rapid response test offering results within hours instead of days NPR reports. 

L. A. area Long Beach Community Hospital is being reopened adding more beds to be available for Coronavirus patients. 

St. Vincent Medical Center is reopening with more beds for Coronavirus patients.

L.A. County Sheraton Fairplex Hotel near where I live is making their 244 rooms available to quarantined Coronavirus patients.

I perceive our state’s Governor Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti initiating meaningful preventative actions to address issues here, contrary to the often foot-dragging reactive actions that have prevailed at the national level.  Given that California has the fifth largest economy in the world and a large population the challenges here are not small. 

Frequent press conferences independent of each other from our Governor and the L.A. Mayor inform us of the truth and reality of our dynamic constantly changing situation as they take a pro-active approach to our problems.  They provide needed information that I experience as offering an expectation they are doing what can best be done, adjusting and adapting as circumstances dictate. 

I am prepared for the situation to become worse before it gets better but may not be as bad as it could be if our citizens cooperate with the guidelines we’ve been given as our responsibility.  I have hope and look forward to our future.