This will (hopefully?) be one of my shortest blog-posts in a long while. Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of my regular Followers laughing, Pffft-ing, rolling their eyes, and tossing bouquets of flowers to me on stage for my acting/writing performance of not just lying through my teeth, but flowering me about my illusions of grandeur thinking I could actually write a brief, quick blog-post. Touché. You might win. But I’m going to try. Show your kind approval and praise if I pull it off, will ya? 😉
Yesterday evening I put in a pickup order at a nearby taco-texmex restaurant that is literally 130-yards away from my complex. It’s quick and easy. It’s also a fairly popular mid-range, affordable, family restaurant chain. I was about 5-10 minutes early picking up my dinner (6:00pm). While waiting at the counter, grabbing some lime-wedges to go with my delicious Modelo Negra beers at the self-serve drinks, ice, straws, napkins, etc, wall a STUNNING curly-haired blonde, hair up in a twisty, tight black shorts, summer cork heels, and tight black halter-top, no bra because she was quite endowed and full in the bust-size… walked by, out the front door, past the two gentlemen outside with their survey-stand—for the restaurant or the strip-mall, I wasn’t sure—who couldn’t stop gawking at her as she went by and stepped into her parked navy blue or black Jeep Cherokee for something. I thought she was leaving.
Nope, after about 30-40 seconds she got out and walked back into the restaurant, by the two men again, and down the long walkway in the middle of booths/tables, and to the back near and across from the men’s and women’s restrooms. She rejoined her equally stunning dark brunette lady-friend(?) or dinner companion. She stood up, my breathing paused, and was wearing a skin-tight workout, black with blue accents (in “key places”) shorts and spandex top, also accentuating her model-esque voluptuous physique. Yes, needless to say OR to expound upon they were both hubba-hubba. Your powers of deduction are correct reading what I’m explicitly and implicitly saying and can continue on your own! I mean, everyone in the restaurant would watch them as they moved around, especially the men, much longer than the women inside, patrons or staff. I tried to not be obvious. HAH!
Within 1-2 minutes of those Lookers rejoining each other at their back booth, a young man, say late twenties, early thirties in a tight workout tank-top showing off his finely sculpted neck, shoulders, biceps, triceps, tatted-up, and most likely well-defined abs underneath walked across the entire glass window-front of the taco eatery, pulled open the door and entered. I thought to myself as I watched him, “Is there a gym, yoga, boxing club in this strip-mall?“ No, of course not. The entire strip-mall, every single place of business was already leased. Has been for a long time. Then, instead of walking through the ordering or pickup line as I had done, that very buffed man, glued to his cell-phone as he walked by outside and now inside… went straight to the back where the two super hawt women were sitting. They began to chat, quietly, as if they had been friends for years.
Ahhh, then it all clicked. Everything made sense.
I chuckled at myself and did a mental pat-on-my-back for NOT being glaringly obvious I was taken by and intrigued(?) by the blonde I had seen first. Okay, VERY intrigued. When I was in my youth, I would have been a very gullible, horny Neanderthal boy. I readily admit it. But many life-lessons of love and eros—often not simultaneously I should confess—have since paid off for me. Saved me in some instances. Plus, at my heightened age and wisdom now, I have learned and mastered my healthy, jacked-up blood-flow that once emptied my cranium and flooded south, engorging my groins, thus incapacitating my broader, smarter, more patient cerebral cortex while ignoring the opposite, more primal creative fun cortex, which seemed to be way south. Today, these random encounters of thick eros oozing everywhere, no longer have the kryptonite impact on me they once possessed. It all strokes my ego a tiny bit, makes me proud of my maturity and wisdom presently! It’s damn near foolproof—but I’ve also learned “Never say never.“
As I walked out of the restaurant with my food and beers back to my residential complex, one of the earlier gentlemen outside the door there (in his 40’s or so) looked at me, I acknowledged him chuckling and said:
“I’ve rarely witnessed “female solicitation” that was so blatant, let alone when their “business manager” walks in and doesn’t bother to be discreet, glued to his phone, and sits with his two staffers, workers, I’ll say Courtesans, and all three of them pretend they own the restaurant.”
The surveyor gentleman replied “Yeah, blatant for sure, huh? It’s the oldest profession in history.“
I laughed in agreement and returned a similar sentiment:
“Yep, and not that I have ever thought prostitution should be illegal. It shouldn’t at all! One way or another, we all pay for what we want; monetarily and otherwise.”
He laughed and we parted ways. I heard him say from around the corner “Ain’t that true!“
Here’s my rub on life’s most ancient profession—the genders, orientations today don’t matter. Many people are more than willing to throw down loads of cash, credit, assets, emotional investment, whatever it is for that long-term, mid-term, or short-term feeling, dopamine fix all the time. Neurologically human nature will not change for many a millenia. But today, in a conservative, semi-pious or hyper-uptight pious society? There are pros and cons any way you examine it.
Legally, under our county/state marriages and family law, it costs us an insane amount, much more on all levels than you could imagine!!! That might be just fine, but it doesn’t disprove my intimate understanding of human eros and love. Some romantic relationships are great investments with very acceptable ROI’s. Others? Eh, not so much. And some are down right horrific, nasty, and disastrous in divorce court—children aside or not. Am I right or am I very right? Perhaps it is time for human society to evolve more? Be stronger and know we can learn from mistakes of the heart, mind, and the libido, huh? 😉 😛
I welcome any and all feedback, as usual. Just remember, good etiquette and be a little open-minded. A GREAT sense of humor is most definitely encouraged!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Today’s blog-post is going to be slightly out of blogging character for me. Well, in the sense that I don’t often unveil amorous secrets behind the curtains of the Professor’s heart, today I am sharing a portion of my private, romantic, sentimental side. WARNING! For any Alpha-hyped He-Man reading this, if you have aversions to being swept away in passion and raptured in the moment, then look away! Read no further! This will not be your pitcher or keg of beer. Sorry mate. No bowed-up pectorals or brawling here.
It may or may not come as a surprise to some of you who follow my blog that I am a sucker for serendipitous enchantment on matters of the heart. If this beguiling moment includes windows of history, windows I’ve been enamored by since I was a boy, then just count to three and ring the bell because I am out, done, a goner. I will be so lost you’d think I was hypnotized or lobotomized. Add aspects of time-travel in the story and like Richard Collier, I will never return. Yes, with hands in the air I confess; my propensity for moments when time stands still is my kryptonite.
Who is Richard Collier you ask?
Funny you are wondering. Elise asked the same question, sort of, and she could barely take a breath waiting for the answer. But I will come back to this moment in time a bit later, hah, apropos teaser intended. What I want to first spill is how our long-awaited family trip unexpectedly came about.
For over two years Mom has been itching to travel somewhere. For several years she has yearned to see Australia and her Great Barrier Reef. This has been a long-time dream of hers and her closest sister, her now late sister, unfortunately. Recently though if it was with her domestic partner, or a close friend, or with me and my sister, it didn’t matter. She’s wanted to go before it’s too late, at her advancing age, and medical issues make it impractical. The last three years she has been reminding us how thrilled she’d be to go and experience another part of the world, somewhere, anywhere she hadn’t experienced.
Lately we’ve been pummeled, so to speak, with her getaway-gestures every month, if not every week. The getaway bug-n-itch had had a grip on Mom for some time. I’d say it no longer itched, it turned into a damn rash! Her pleading was unrelenting sometimes! Yep, Mom’s former years as an Eastern Airlines flight attendant (above image) had been reenergized with a vengeance! Mom was once an Eastern Airlines Flight-attendant in 1958–1962, based out of LGA, JFK, and EWR, New York and New Jersey respectively. She wanted to fly a lot longer, but a special surprise from her then boyfriend (my father) stopped those plans after their very “romantic weekend” in San Antonio, TX in the former Robert E. Lee Hotel downtown. But I am rambling and digressing; apologies. Back to our story.
For years we had been tossing around destinations, but never made a final decision. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic along with the predictable outcomes and repercussions the last two-plus years. Pfft, no more elaboration needed on that world catastrophe.
Moving on. Fast-forward now to February 2021, but skipping over our two hellacious winter storms that came within a few hours of wiping out Texas’ entire electrical grid for a long, long, very long time.
With mass production of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc, vaccines finally rolling out once competent federal leadership in D.C. took office January 20th, followed by mass distribution scaled much higher and wider than the previous Administration ever cared to do, getting the vaccines into cold-storage, out to sites, and proper staff to stick Americans twice, our family getaway was back on and indeed probable. Hold your horses cowboys and cowgirls! Now comes a number of new stumbling blocks. I had the honor and privilege to temper Mom’s jet-setting excitement, if that was even possible.
I explained to her and sister that if we were going to make this dream-trip happen and safely, our first major hurdle was going to be full vaccinations for all three of us, in a timely immediate manner at that. Easy? No, not really. In fact, I thought I might have to persuade Mom to postpone our excursion for another year—ugh, after having just done that in 2020 due to the pandemic. Moreover, I knew how formidable it was going to be to motivate my sister to get fully vaccinated soon. I would have to hound her even more than I was already doing! Mom and I have received both our shots, my sister received her second shot this past week. Done! First couple of hurdles behind us.
Skipping back a month, when the three of us were able to finally coincide our three different schedules/calendars and meet for a weekend in mid-April 2021, we toss about places such as the Grand Canyon National Park, Glacier National Park, Sequoia National Park, Gatlinburg, Colorado Springs, Nags Head North Carolina, Portland in Oregon, The Finger Lakes in Upstate New York, and Augusta, Maine. Then I threw into the pile of possible destinations, one of my personal wishes: Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. To my dismay my sister and Mom became very intrigued. Mom was immediately sold on the Lilac Festival and the Butterfly House & Insect World, and my sister to the fact that it was an island completely unlike a hectic 21st-century tourist bee-hive rat-race with way too many rude people scurrying by you and over you. After all, she did suffer from panic-anxiety attacks easily triggered by too much perceived chaos. My sister is also an artist and art fan. She still paints when time allows. Mackinac Island has a sizable artsy twist as well, with art shops and an art museum. It seemed I had hit a homerun with my longstanding longshot, teenage dream destination! They had all sorts of questions. They wondered too how I even knew about this island lost in a bygone era. Answering their curiosity, I return to the beginning of this blog-post.
I admitted to them that I have always had a weakness for serendipitous romance, history, the Victorian-Edwardian Eras, and a very soft spot for time-travel stories, books, and films. Re-enter Richard Collier and Elise McKenna:
“Is it you?” Woah, I get goose-bumps every time I watch that scene because of what Richard Collier went through to get there with Elise. This 1980 cult-classic “Somewhere In Time” was filmed on Mackinac Island, Michigan because the Grand Hotel and island’s Tourism Bureau vowed to freeze time and banned all modern, polluting, combustible-engine vehicles as well as other “modern” developed fossil-burning machines in order to preserve its uniquely vintage history—its Victorian-Edwardian Age on Lake Huron. There is no other island like it within the United States proper. The island is seemingly and delightfully stuck in time. Needless to say, I was and I am beyond myself, ecstatic to be traveling there with Mom and sister in just a few weeks.
If any of you are unfamiliar with the timelessness of Mackinac Island, MI, then I give you a quick photo-montage (below) followed by a link to the island’s Bureau of Tourism. I hope you too can see why I have always held a special place in my heart for this island… lost Somewhere In A Time not so long ago when finer things in life were patiently appreciated, savored, sought, enamoring, and embraced. I start with images from the movie with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve at the Grand Hotel. Following those images are current photos of the small Victorian-Edwardian town, popular sites like the Butterfly House & Insect World—the place where Mom and sister will spend many hours—tea houses out on grand patios, Al fresco dining spots, Fort Mackinac where I plan to visit, and one location Mom and I plan to lounge many times: the Grand Audubon Wine Bar.
Should you be interested in more details and information about this incredible island, visit the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. There you can also view online their 72-page guidebook which introduces you to the island’s historic splendor.
We will return home after eight nights and nine days there. Travel will take two half-days. I do hope to bring back with me many photos of our getaway on Mackinac Island. This might be my last blog-post until then, after we return to Austin, TX, then I back up to Dallas. In the meantime, the anticipation is mounting, ugh, as if time is slowing down. Imagine what time will be when we are there!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Before I “publish” my next post about our upcoming, exciting family trip and getaway, I have to first publish this post. Why? Because I have a hunch this sort of story or round-about is something most all of us can empathize with in a wide variety of ways and emotions.
I will not set the stage by going all the way back in time to when computers, electronics, the internet or world-wide-web, WiFi, and artificial intelligence in the early-1990’s began slipping into our human lives and every aspect of our daily and nightly affairs both awake and asleep and whatever affairs are outside of and in between those two states of conscious and unconscious existence. I will spare all of you the gory details of how frequently I’ve had to swap or replace my cell phone and why. That would be a Rated NC-21 by the MPA; not pretty. No, recalling all of my dealings with computerized non-cellular “help” and their stages of actualization, their causes, then one or more effects and sub-effects of those causes and further actualizations these last 26-yeaars would just take-up too much of my brain capacity and waste all of you fine people’s valuable time. “You’re welcome,“ not “Your welcome” (expletives whispered) as my friendly, get-under-your-skin-like-poison-ivy H. Brawny the Editor corrects me down in his compassionate comment below! 🤨
Instead, I am going to share my most recent dealing with our hyper-techy computerized society, our fun business world, and our ever decreasing private personal lives within both those sectors. Sit back, enjoy, relate, and hopefully laugh at my expense.
THE MAD JOURNEY BEGINS WHEN…
…my old Dell laptop simply could no longer keep up or function properly or efficiently with the non-stop monthly tech advances and weekly, sometimes daily software and hardware “updates.” Yes, I had only owned my laptop for a whopping two years, five months. Remarkably this apparently made it prehistoric, if I was lucky. No, I’m kidding. I bought my Dell laptop in 2015 so it had a supposedly long, happy, hardworking life and was ready for AARP, Medicare Supplements, Social Security payments, and a date with the silicon mortician. Six years people! And if I’m honest, barely five! It was getting decrepit with a walker in 4 1/2 years then wheel-chair its last 12-months. The world had simply passed it by. Well, I’m no Chuck Yeager speed demon and Einstein, but the world actually blew past my geriatric laptop going about Mach-10. The subsequent sound-barrier BOOM was heard last month.
As is the custom in the U.S. and the West, it was time to toss it in the proverbial grave-garbage for a nearby landfill. No, kidding again. I can give the laptop to an electronics retail chain for proper carbon-footprint disposal. Last March and April I began my painful shopping and research for a new, nuclear-powered, light-speed CPU, 800-TB (trigabyte/terabyte) internal memory with accompanying 500-TB hard drive with MS Windows 20.2467. This is apparently what is now required for all modern laptops and cell-phones to manage the out-of-control mandates of internet sites and graphic processors with hyper-hungry memory and resource demands. I haven’t even gotten into the vast amounts of bandwidth required to conveniently stream anything online with your phone or laptop; operative word there: convenient.
Now, skipping ahead to my nightmare ordeal with having my brand new Space X powered laptop shipped via UPS 3-day delivery to my residence. Why 3-day? Because it was only an extra $17 USD. I had chosen and purchased my new Space X powered laptop on a Friday afternoon. I wanted it delivered as soon as possible because my old Dell was literally on a breathing-machine and near comatose. Very little movement or twitching from not-well Dell. But paying more for a Saturday delivery was outrageous so I decided to be patient and wait for a Monday delivery by 7pm or before, guaranteed says UPS for a mere $17.
Because delivering to my residence is within a community complex, tricky for visitors or first-time guests, I registered with my retailer and UPS for text and email updates on the status of my In Transit laptop or Out for Delivery in UPS’s verbiage. I’m very excited and anxious to sign for—or the receptionist downstairs in the lobby to sign for—the taking of responsibility for the package/box away from UPS hands and possible liability claim. I wait. I glance at my phone text messages. I glance at my emails. No status changes or updates. At 3pm and then 4pm the same thing. Five o’clock, nothing new. I take a break, relax and start prepping dinner and pour myself some hot sake. This will go well with my Chinese dish and Japanese sushi. The receptionist downstairs is in fact there at her post. I checked.
It is now 5:54pm and I check the status of my package on the UPS website. This is what it reads:
Delivery failed.The UPS driver attempted to deliver your package, but was unable to.Reason:No one available to sign for package. Another delivery attempt will be made the next business day. Please have someone available to sign for the package.
Logged at 5:29 PMby UPS driver
Quite irritated I went downstairs to the lobby and reception desk to inquire why the UPS driver only just minutes ago found no one here at the desk. There was also another gentleman (resident) sitting on the lobby couch. As is sometimes the case, when the receptionist—who also has other required duties by her employer—must leave temporarily her post behind the desk, so they place a very noticeable legible sign on top of the desk, informing visitors to pickup the phone headset, right there next to the sign, and Dial “0” for immediate assistance or help. I’ve had to do it maybe once or twice myself. The receptionist either answers the phone call or quickly appears back at the desk. Simple, right? However, before I had a chance to do this the courteous lady comes out from the back to help me. I asked her “Did the UPS driver come in the lobby, to the desk here about 15-mins ago?“ She replied no, but she had to step away for about 5-6 minutes. In that time no one called her with the desk-phone there as instructed. She went on to say that the drivers of FedEx, UPS, DHL, USPS, etc, all know to pickup the handset and dial zero when they have stepped away.
Overhearing our conversation the gentleman sitting on the couch in the lobby said the UPS driver had indeed come inside, stood at the receptionist desk for a minute or so when he explained to the driver the sign, and to call/dial zero. Apparently the UPS driver said nothing and continued to stand there another minute or less. According to this helpful man on the couch, he then turned around, walked out and back to his UPS truck and drove off. The receptionist returned to the desk never knowing UPS had just been there with packages… for no more than two, maybe less than 3-minutes until I had come down to talk to her. If my blood was already simmering, it was damn well boiling up now.
Ready to give someone at UPS a piece of my tempestuous mind, I returned to my 2nd floor residence straightaway, spending 15-20 minutes searching, reading, rereading, and wallowing through the mass jungle that was the UPS website of Where’s Waldo information for a correct 1-800 Customer Service and/or Package-Tracking Assistance phone number which finally reached the precise UPS department. I had no other choice of departments to voice my complaint. It’s now about 6:20pm. The extra $17 USD is fast becoming a total loss.
After dialing the eleven-digit number, listening through the 6-7 different options to press on my 4G Android phone, I get to the next computer-voice to listen to those four different options leading me to the Promise Land of UPS satisfaction. Only this computer-voice tells me that I must speak my selection into the phone, therefore, sending me on my way to further computerized direction with the hope of distant(?) satisfaction. The AI voice asks me to speak my 10-12 digit tracking number. She accepts it then a second or two later gives me now just TWO options, A) submit a Lost or Damaged Claim form at their website’s said page—she gives me the URL address—or B) go to their Track A Package webpage with your tracking number. At no time am I given the option late in this juncture to request speaking with a living human being at UPS. If I refused to choose A or B, she politely disconnects with me; hangs up. This happened three times as I was interpreting the computer AI instructions making sure I didn’t misunderstand something. To my further advanced tempestuous mind and rising blood-pressure I did not misunderstand anything I was told by their computer AI and according to all available options, I was indeed stuck in UPS limbo in the machine loop of Never-ever Land, not the Promise Land. Back to square one. It is now past 7:00pm.
I took 10-minutes to breath and slow my pulse as I could feel my blood-vessels in both temples throbbing. I grabbed a lime-wedge, a pinch of salt, and poured myself a double shot of Don Francisco Javier’s Sauza Hornitos Reposado tequila and downed my Elixir de tranquilidad. A few minutes later I was ready to go hunting at UPS again.
Long story and rant shorter, with sheer angered persistence I managed to get a hold of an actual live person “Hassem” at UPS to speak about their lazy-ass, don’t want to do my job delivery driver! After about 25-minutes of discussing everything with Hassem I told him, because I knew our phone conversation was probably being recorded for “Quality Assurance” and his management team and hopefully their management team above them, I said to Hassem in a slightly more intense tone “If I could’ve simply spoken with a LIVE human at UPS from the very start, I would not have wasted near 2 1/2-hours wallowing everywhere on the UPS website and inside the never-ending loop called UPS computer AI-voices that never implicitly deduced the most efficient solution to my problemcreated by UPS!”
When all was said and done that Monday evening, late, when I threw away $17 USD for Monday delivery and nothing but UPS computerized torture, I could not convince Hassem or his Supervisors to make that lazy-ass delivery driver come back out to my residence with my new Space X powered laptop. I was told by them I would have to wait until tomorrow evening, Tuesday, a full day later for my package delivery… oh yeah, by 7pm, “Guaranteed” to be late by 24-hours, higher blood-pressure with advance AI computerized annoyance, and heavy drinking caused by humans who don’t seem to want to deal live with other humans. That’s just the way it is, huh—how our 21st-century hyper-techy American society runs: electronic-driven cold-blooded AI silicon devices, droids, and programs? Pffft! What tha hell was I thinking? That’s change my man, for the better, driven by technology! That won’t change, I guess I’ll que the song…
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
I am very happy to report that I finally qualify for my COVID-19 vaccines! My first (Pfizer) dose is scheduled for this Saturday, March 20 and my second dose Saturday, April 10. I am thrilled, to say the least!
But will my vaccinations be enough come April 30th, 2021? Or June 30th, 2021 when either the U.K. variant arrives in Texas and DFW (assuming it hasn’t already) or other future variants which mutate into a strand resistant to current vaccines? By the way, I have no idea WHY WordPress would not offer a button feature giving an Image with text wrap-around, so aesthetically this “block” looks utterly ridiculous!!! But hey folks, this isn’t my oversight. 🙄🤦♂️
Anyway, back to COVID-19 vaccinations and the stupidity that is Texas government by our Governor and his party. Prepare yourself my regular readers, I am not going to restrain my honest thoughts, opinions, or language for this post. I am tired and frustrated that a lethal virus turned world pandemic in the earliest stages whose impact could have been greatly lessened and its duration greatly shortened, was not achieved or even sought after. Most of all, thousands upon thousands of premature deaths by coronavirus, of all ages, never had to happen. Smarter prevention should have started as early as December 2019 or January 2020!
Oh, another thing. I am honestly sick and tired of blogging about this virus and the too many Americans and Texans not taking its effects and protections-against seriously. I so want to blog about other subjects, happier funnier, artful and intriguing subjects instead of this far reaching ripple-effects of a deadly virus. A virus that was politicized at the expense of ordinary families and individuals, i.e. America’s moderate, struggling or hard-hit, economically disadvantaged, middle and lower classes/demographic that make-up 85-90 percent of the U.S. population. They are the Americans I do not want marginalized, overlooked, or treated as inferior or as cannon-fodder for this virus and its evolving variants!
So I’ve been compelled to blog about it, not because it’s admirable or needed, but because it has also impacted me and my standard of life greatly! It must be discussed. This is the case I think with all Americans, or rather mostordinary, moderate Americans. In a way, how can one avoid it or pretend as if an unprecedented event and pandemic didn’t happen to yourself or to anyone else? Answer, you can’t. So perhaps for therapeutic reasons I’ve journaled about a virus that never had to be this bad. In the Spring of 2020 I had hoped I wouldn’t have to journal about it or blog about it for an entire year… and still counting, still ongoing. Tiring. Frustrating. Appalling. Saddening. Those are words partially expressing 15-months of American and Texas life in a politicized pandemic which has taken over half a million lives. Does that many dead bodies even compute!? And a large significant number of those deaths did NOT have to die early—for children and teenagers, they died way too early! How did (in 2020), and how do American political leaders live with that genocide atrocious fact and sleep at night? Are they human? Do they even have a heart?
So yes, I have blogged about this shameful travesty and a virus/pandemic that did not have to be so catastrophic and so unnecessarily protracted! If we had had intelligent, empathetic, and principled government leadership with citizens possessing the same traits, how very different these days would be. Ah, but alas… that has been a dream of another place, another time, in another Universe likely filled with an unfamiliar(?) superior species, isn’t it.
But enough torture and Shakespeare. What alternative reality am I living in Professor, you stupid man! Time to wake from that silly “American dream,” right? Dreams aren’t real are they?
A RETURN TO THE AMERICAN REALITY
A serious question:will my scheduled vaccinations be enough to relatively protect me come April 30th, 2021? Or June 30th, 2021 when either the U.K. variant arrives in Texas and DFW (assuming it hasn’t already) or against other coming future variants that mutate into a strand more resistant to current vaccines? And if the SARS-CoV-2 virus is always given non-stop opportunities to spread faster and mutate throughout people, populations or political groups defiant to simple, easy health-safety measures? Those easy to do measures such as wearing a mask, social-distancing, and avoiding crowds and huge social gatherings?
In doing those simple safety measures Americans/Texans greatly reduce or stop new variants from latching on, forming, then build resistance to our initial vaccines. Will our vaccine research, development, legal-approvals, and distribution be able to ever catch up to where the latest up-to-date doses are ahead or neck-n-neck to a virus constantly adapting and resisting COVID-19 vaccines? Can Americans and Texans do what must be done to eradicate this deadly pandemic and constantly mutating virus? The biggest way the virus keeps mutating is because of defiant humans (Republicans?) not wearing masks and not social-distancing. People, that is how it survives, spreads, evolves more intelligently, and therefore NEVERgoes away.
Another way more dangerous, new COVID-19 variants pop-up and survive is because too many defiant, indifferent humans refuse to avoid big gatherings or crowds, e.g. sporting events, patronizing pubs-bars, conventions, or attending family reunions without masks or staying 6-feet apart. Am I driving this home by repeating what hasn’t been done and what must be done? I hope so; let’s do it some more!
It is a no brainer what will happen if Americans/Texans behave as if the deadly pandemic is over. What follows that selfish thinking will be another sixth, seventh, or eighth spike or resurgence in COVID infections across America again. Then hospitals fill-up again near or above operating capacities just like what is happening in Manaus, Brazil. This indifference and/or defiance only perpetuates restrictions, lockdowns, and more mandates longer causing all the same economic ripple-effects all of us in the U.S. have experienced the last 14-15 months. Please wake tha F*CK UP people and use your scientific brains!
Yet, nine days ago our Texas Governor blatantly ignored warnings from health officials, epidemiologists, virologists, and a whole host of Texas nursing groups urging him to not do it, unanimously stating it is way too early!
My readers/followers, I know I sound like a broken record here and in many of my previous blog-posts. I’m not sure I should apologize though. It seems however, at least for those who either don’t listen, don’t care, or don’t understand virology, epidemiology, and how infectious diseases/viruses function, survive, and adapt… I must keep beating this drum. When a society/nation does not learn from their mistakes, and learn them permanently, then it is cliché, but history repeats itself. What happened for 12-months in 2020 just continues, it happens again and again until one of two things happen: either no more humans, or all humans out-smart COVID-19 and all its following variants! Duh, right? No, not so fast Professor.
Does over 47,000 dead Texans (as of March 17, 2021) from coronavirus not mean anything to you Governor Abbott? There are now two more infectious, more lethal variants on the way. They may already be in Texas, or will be in large spiking numbers by the end of March if most Texans do not wear masks or social-distance until it’s safe to do so. A premature reopening will defeat the previous gains made this year against COVID while also gaining ground with increasingly more Texans and Americans getting vaccinated. In turn, that will better contain possible newer variants from forming. Why jeopardize 14-months of pain, toil, and exhausting efforts made to getting control over this pandemic spreading? Why play Russian Roulette and chance killing thousands of more lives uselessly and prematurely with this idiotic decision? Wait only 3-5 more weeks, two months, or whatever it takes to halt the recurring of newer and newer variants!
Alright, enough imploring, enough ranting, enough reminding. Time for the science.
Scientists in the United Kingdom yesterday reported that a small number of B117 variants have developed the E484K mutation thought to help SARS-CoV-2 partly evade immunity, and today another UK group said their lab experiments suggest the mutation added to B117 may dampen the impact of vaccination after one dose.
Overall, the vaccine is likely to be effective against B117, though its efficacy is somewhat affected. Though they found wide variation among individuals, on average B117 required a twofold increase in serum antibody concentration to neutralize the virus. However, when researchers added the E484K mutation, substantially higher antibody levels—on average, a 10-fold increase—were needed for neutralization.
I highly recommend you read this article and stay tuned in to the ongoing results from vaccine boosters. CIDRAP was founded in 2001 with the University of Minnesota’s Office of Research and Public Health.
As is the case with anything brand new, a break-through discovery or invention, they have to be taken in those first days with a grain of salt and without knee-jerk reactions, right? Don’t jump to premature conclusions, right? Medical research is a long, sometimes slow process. In this field doctors and scientists must get it right. So here’s a “balancing” article from the Poynter Institute regarding the new COVID variants and the breaking news surrounding them relative to vaccinations, also a good quick read: “New COVID-19 variants could be more resistant to vaccines, but let’s not jump to conclusions.“
As a side note, the Poynter Institute is the parent company of PolitiFact.com, a fact-checking website I utilize often.
Get ready for my long sentence; take a deep inhale folks. If Americans, including our federal leadership and Congress/Senate (in Jan. 2020), and a specific political, socioeconomic demographic in this country (including Texas)… had listened closely, heeded the vehement recommendations from public health and medical advisors regarding what HAD to be done, nationwide, for public safety, and how this COVID-19 pandemic could and would devastate our economy IF we did not follow their protective guidelines… then we WOULD NOT BE in these shitty circumstances, the multiple recurring spikes or resurgences, and dealing with unprecedented unemployment and crippled economy for over a full year! And need I mention the over 552,400 (and still counting!) premature deaths by COVID? Actually yes, I probably do. 🤦♂️
The minute Gov. Abbott announced his total lifting of COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, many Texans could not wait to dash out of their homes or jobs as if nude. What I saw when I had to go out in public here in North Dallas and nearby affluent areas of Dallas, Plano, and Addison, Texas, almost no one had masks and frequently I witnessed lots of close-up gatherings and groups as if we had suddenly returned to normal. I couldn’t help but imagine those starting-gates at the Kentucky Derby or Belmont Stakes when the bell rings, the gate-doors slam open, and the race horses leap out of their tiny stall. I mean, here you’d think we were all in prison cells for years and near bonkers to be let go, celebrating liberally. Whoops, I better not use that word! Might offend thousands of Conservatives. 🙄
And yet we are still dealing with a deadly virus that could’ve and should’ve been much better managed, controlled, and near eradicated. But here we are in mid-March 2021! Are you effin kidding me people!? What an embarrassing track record we Americans and Texans have and continue to show the world. We are a bunch of self-centered, self-absorbed Prima Donnas who cry “freedom and liberty” for ourselves, ME, ME, ME when asked for the sake of public health and safety to—like our need for speed limits on highways, roads, and in school zones—just wear a simple, easy mask out in public, to social-distance, to avoid huge crowds indoors/outdoors close-up, and get vaccinated ASAP when available and qualified.
America’s Greatest Generation (or G.I. generation) would unanimously reply “Piece of cake!” Well yeah! Think long and hard about what all they had to handle, go through, and successfully came out victorious, for the most part. What a shame 2019-2021 America. What a shame Texas we have forgotten or lost those principles, endurance, and helping community caring for each other!
For all the rest of you level-headed, scientifically-based and educated readers: CONTINUE BEING SAFE, COURTEOUS TO OTHERS, and PATIENT till the very end of this pandemic. An “ending” when say there are only 9 or 10 Americans with COVID-19, any variant. And also an “end” when the qualified experts tell us it is safe to say, “COVID-19 has been eradicated enough. You may return to normal, if you’ve been fully vaccinated.” Will that day arrive? I do hope so. I hope that day actually comes very, very soon despite all this stupidity, indifference, and defiance that surrounds me. I also hope this ME ONLY behavior and mentality changes and does so permanently. Agreed?
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT & FOR YOUR FUNNY-BONE
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Curious to know what exactly is SMSD Disorder? You will not find the definition in an electronic software manual today nor will you find it in the DSM-5 or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. At least, not yet. However, after almost 28-years, the last ten being the most disturbing illuminating, there will probably soon be a SMSD Disorder officially entered in the psychiatric DSM-5. I will answer your curiosity later. Meanwhile, allow first a preamble.
I watched a provocative, telling interview segment earlier this week on PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff and Jeffrey Brown. Brown was asking author Jia Tolentino to introduce and summarize her new published book entitled Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion.
The book and interview caught my interest primarily because of my under-grad studies and work background in psychology, particularly my previous work-experience at an inpatient Psych/A&D hospital. Self-delusion in psychology is a mental-illness I am familiar with firsthand while employed at the hospital. But the NewsHour segment also caught my attention because of its now greater relevance with the deplorable events surrounding the January 6, 2021 attack by domestic insurrectionist on our U.S. Capitol building and Congressmembers. The insurrection was undeniably incited by the former President and planned on a host of social websites days/weeks prior.
Jia Tolentino is a staff writer for The New Yorker as well as a contributing editor to several popular acclaimed publications. Jia’s newest book is a collection of nine essays addressing our nation’s critical problems with and our reckless consumption-digestion of mass social-media platforms. The specific topics Tolentino examines in those essays are the “scammer culture,” and our intellectually gullible internet culture over the past decade. It also examines one of Jia’s personally resonating subjects: modern feminism. Here is the PBS NewsHour 5-minute Now Read This segment with Jeffrey Brown and Jia Tolentino:
“Yes, the internet’s magic“ Jia states. Due to the relentless, now one year lasting COVID pandemic kept alive by hundreds of thousands of Americans defiant and indifferent to masks, to public health and safety, to the safety of coworkers, and to their own family members, the pandemic has been continually given steroid shots to remain here taking more American lives for the foreseeable future. Those rebels have fueled this killer virus by spreading it and feeding it non-stop with their social contempt.
Besides surpassing the death-toll of all modern U.S wars combined, excluding at the moment the Civil War, another consequence has been the unprecedented number of confined Americans pushed online and onto social-media platforms for much, much longer timespans. Tolentino says this current internet’s virtual world and its “…weird currents of aggression and loneliness[are]evidence of the way that the Internet is, at best, kind of a poorsimulacrumof real life.“
I have to say, “a poor simulacrum” is a soft benign way of describing the sheer potency and addictiveness the online social-media platforms hold on us. Their software algorithm-machinery’s ability to move us, incite en masse thousands of naïve, internet addicts, many of whom possess poorcritical-thinking skills—let alone a modest legal understanding of our Constitutional (elected) democracy operating within a tri-equal branched government—and possess an inability to distinguish what is reliable, factually-based, verified data, news, or knowledge versus what is not. This politicized condition of scientific biological ignorance has reached alarming, lethal manifestations made glaringly visible Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
The vicious jargon was apparent the 9-weeks following the Nov. 3rd elections. The former fake President vomited daily unfounded, unproven claims/Tweets (and over 60 lawsuits) of widespread election fraud, all of them empty. The days following the Georgia state Senate runoffs in which their legal, multiply-verified results injected continued insane, inflammatory conspiracy theories spewed from the White House and echoed on extreme Right social-media platforms. The Twitter fiasco reached unparalleled volume and frequency not seen from any POTUS in American history. Trump and his ardent vassals supporters suffer from SMSD Disorder.
Attention moderate, sane, middle America, you… the vast and sensible majority of this country, it is past time to wake-up to the Coup-sirens! This disturbing, domestic, self-deluded thinking and behavior is no longer sporadic. No longer is it a tiny, trifling gecko lizard. It is a full-blown Godzilla and he is obscenely pissed and hungry. What is distressing though, is that the symptoms of the cyber-disorder in a shark’s tank with many shark’s teeth has been observable and rogue for several internet years. The once captivating Information Age is now The Disinformation Age.
Arab Spring vs American Winter and Free-Speech
Between 2010–2012 social-media was a catalyst for The Arab Spring throughout North Africa and the Middle East. It was widely held that the anti-authoritarian, anti-government protests were in large part the result of “free speech” over social networking platforms. The armed rebellions promoting free elections, regime-dynasty changes, democracy, and a number of other sociopolitical virtues were jubilantly celebrated in the U.S. Many in the West characterized these fights for freedom as evidence of global change for human rights and self-determination. The Arab Awakenings were praised in the West as reflections of the free world with free-enterprise producing technology for an imagined better, more informed, autonomous life as we live in the United States.
In the end and as a whole, only modest changes occurred in the regions at the estimated cost of 61,080 people dead. To this day, countries affected by the Arab Spring are greatly divided between those preferring the status quo and those who seek democratic transformations. Violence and hate-speech actually weakened and undermined the hope most ordinary Arabs envisioned for their country.
What took place in America November 2020 and leading up to Jan. 6th, 2021, an American Winter if you will, cannot be compared to The Arab Spring, not in an already democratic context. An Authoritarian regime fighting for its preservation is not an American Winter fighting for civic virtues and sovereignty it already possesses and was established almost 245-years previous. What is arguably identical between the two “people’s protests” was the violence, hate-speech, and the unrewarded loss of lives to murderers. And finally, all the erroneous screaming about censorship, Second Amendment rights and free-speech are only an individual’s right as an American when it is on outdoor public squares or on public property. It does not, nor has it ever applied to the private sector or privately owned social-media companies. The radical Right is sorely lacking in its comprehension of Constitutional Law. They have slipped into nothing other than very perilous, poisonous Populism disguised as the Republican Party.
Monetize the FUCK Out of Personal Internet Identities
As Tolentino was saying, “the internet is magic.” But it has become more. It is now as much white-magic as it is black-magic. Both are exploited by hungry internet consumers. Social-media has become a dopamine addiction for people craving human connection. It was further amplified by COVID-19’s necessary constrainments for public safety and health.
The evolution of the internet from Web 1.0 (1999) to the currently operating Web 3.0 we engorge today provide almost unlimited avenues of profit/revenue for the corporate tech-industry because they monetize the bejesusout of your personal data and tracking your browsing activity and GPS movement. The consequence for many American internet addicts and gullible consumers is what is now emerging. I would like to coin it as SMSD Disorder:Social-Media Self-Delusion Disorder.
Like Tolentino, Dr. Gonzaga also gives another soft benign description of the dopamine fix of the social-media drugs for consumers with SMSD Disorder. However, when does too much liability and criminal accessory, let alone the loss of moral and democratic principles, outweigh or justify excessive monetizing greed? When is too much, too much? Did Twitter, Facebook, and the other social-media companies wait too long to ban the former President? Did he have special, profit-generating privileges for Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube subscribers that thousands of other banned members did not have and could not generate?
Internet social networking is in some ways a marketplace of Human Futures for Corporate drug-dealers. In other words, the cyber history and personal tracking database are the commodity and consumer attention spans are the revenues and products targeted by the social-media companies. The gullibility of the American internet consumers with unbeknownst, undiagnosed addictive personality risks have been exceptionally depicted in the Netflix tech-opic/documentary The Social Dilemma.
One of the computer scientist interviewed and consulted for The Social Dilemma tech-opic documentary was Stanford University grad Tristan Harris. He is a former Google employee who pioneered Google Inbox that quickly rocketed the tech-Giant into the stratosphere. But while Harris was at Google from 2011–2015 he felt all the American social-media tech-Giants should “feel an enormous responsibility to make sure humanity doesn’t spend its days buried in a smartphone.” They listened, but did nothing. If you can spare a brief 17-minutes, watch this online Collision Conference presented by his cofounded and present non-profit organization the Center for Humane Technology, a progressive group addressing the ethics of consumer technology, governance, and the fate of society as we now have it:
Has history taught us nothing? America is losing many Gen X’s, Millennials, and now Generation Z’s to a plethora of phone apps and addictive cyber-networking algorithms. The mental-disorders growing among these three generations—not surprisingly a timespan covering the internet and tech-boom from Web 2.0 to 3.0—are proportionally associated with social-networking platforms. This is our history ignored for the sake of hyper-monetization.
Is it past the time to regulate, monitor, and hold accountable the social-media megabots before they turn into a repackaged Nazi propaganda machine for megalomaniac Authoritarians? Has our collective memory suddenly taken a nose-dive off the cliff of reason and rationale thought? Can we not, or at least the vast majority of us, no longer recognize and stop a treacherous direction, a cult, its Cult of Personality, and their utilization of any and all mass media platforms to pervade gullible brains. History’s deadliest, most sinister, covert, power-hungry cults of personalities are littered across our world continents within historical records of all cultures, including numerous dark times in our own U.S. history.
When will we learn? When human symbols, alphabets, and writing were invented 5,500 years ago, news, political propaganda, sales and marketing, bookkeeping, fine arts, along with lies and half-truths among social groups began. When Gutenberg’s printing press was invented in 1440, mass publishing, at least on a quicker wider scale, more information began reaching individuals, not just kings, queens, and nobility. When the telegraph then AM/FM radio was invented in the 19th and 20th centuries, all of the above was magnified exponentially to the world, to nations, to any group, company, or family home that could afford such technology, including more political propaganda, sales and marketing, lies and half-truths. By 1933 Joseph Goebbels and Hitler’s Nazi Germany seized total control of all German radio stations in order to censor and hide their atrocities, genocide, and war crimes from the ordinary non-Jewish German citizens. Instead, Goebbels fed the people daily with blatant lies and half-truths for over a decade. The German people believed every fanatical, inspiring false word, to their demise in May 1945.
When the computer and world-wide-web (internet) were invented in 1989, everything aforementioned above was further disseminated, amplified, and exponentially multiplied, limited only by the number of homes which could not afford a computer and modem, later to become cable-internet or satellite WiFi/internet. The once unfettered Wild Wild West frontier of lawlessness in the early and mid-19th century America was reborn in the Wild Wild West of unstoppable, lightening-speed, mass information and insatiable consumption never before imagined. Like alcoholism or drug addiction, its moral-ethical consequences and impact could not have ever predicted or reeled in the speeding uncontrollable train train-wreck we have today. And yet:
When we do not pause, take a moment to think rationally after hearing or reading shocking information or news before speaking, acting/reacting, or writing, we risk and possibly deface or sacrifice our own integrity and dignity. When we impulsively blurt-out vocally an idea, thought, or reaction without first verifying or confirming its validity or without doing the required legwork/homework before speaking, acting/reacting, or writing, we risk and possibly deface or sacrifice our own integrity and dignity. Case and point:
That was in the late hours of January 6, 2021. Today Rep. McCarthy has done a complete 180-degree reversal of his moral integrity and once again is an ardent Trump vassal. This is a symptom of SMSD Disorder of not only online conspiracy theories, but also of being enslaved associated, in bed with a Cult of Personality. Both are dangerous simpatico concoctions. Unfortunately, the same gullible American internet consumers forgive and forget repeatedly political offenders or criminals as long as they make a public apology, no matter how many apologies they’ve made in the past. Too many apparently suffer from chronic dementia when it comes to repeating offenders by public figures and government officials. What sort of precedent does that behavior set? Did Nixon or Reagan set it? Do American voters even know who Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan were?
The “Sexual Free-for-All” Promoted by Social-Media Platforms
In 1997 while inside an electronics store for televisions, stereos, etc., and crude computers by today’s standards, a salesman who was apparently a subcontractor by the store, approached me with a brand new, cutting-edge service called the world-wide-web. After his 3-4 minute sales-pitch, I told him it sounded fascinating, but no thanks. Why did I turndown his “ground floor bargain price“? I couldn’t honestly tell him what I thought at the time about his offer and the earliest concepts promoted of the world-wide-web, or internet, and its networking potential and perceived promises. However, I can say it here.
What I thought back then in 1997 and have repeated ad infinitum, ad nauseum to this day is this. The internet is like a wild, 24/7, 365-day world orgy where seemingly limitless pleasure (dopamine & connection) abounds for everyone online, but without condoms, IUD’s, spermicides, and other protections from unwanted pregnancy and STD’s. The internet is a modern Roman Floralis Ludi, if you will. Is it wise to ignore all the risks and promote only the benefits? Some large number of social-media users are absent-minded, wear rose-colored glasses, and are reckless with those they engage and sleep with at the risk of very serious infections. Very little has changed, I think, since 1997. I still hold firm to my 24-year old assessment of online social-media given the rise and growth in America of the psychological SMSD Disorder.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always