Our Getaway


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.

My Mom's Eastern Airlines flight attendant photo, 1958--1962.

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

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Two Worlds


OF WONDER AND SPLENDOR

Just like as in a nest of boxes round,
Degrees of sizes in each box are found:
So, in this world, may many others be
Thinner and less, and less still by degree:
Although they are not subject to our sense,
A world may be no bigger than two-pence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape,
Which our dull senses easily escape.

Margaret Cavendish
Of Many Worlds in This World

There are a number of Earth’s animals, great and small, that care for each other. They seem to have feelings for the welfare of another. They demonstrate an innate behavior to protect their own as a whole rather than and possibly at the demise of themselves. In human terms this is called compassion, empathy, courage, altruism, love, and other inspiring virtues. In scientific terms it is known as eusociality and forms of superorganism behavior. In other words, the greater good of the whole is far greater than the one. Feel free to enjoy the accompanying music while viewing the slides of animal compassion, empathy, and selflessness and our planet’s sheer beauty:

There is an enormous goldmine of virtues to be learned and modeled by these animals and how they treat each other and other species.


OF VANITY AND LOATHING

There is one species on Earth that often regards and treats its own atrociously, let’s say by a form of cannibalism, but also treats its environment, its one and only home, nay even its own kitchen table—their food/water sources, their limited medicine cabinet, and the very air they must breath—with astounding naivety. As such, they carelessly risk their own offspring’s and their future offspring’s very home too in spite of evolving to astonishing levels of intellect. This one species for decades, no, no… centuries has persisted blindly and stubbornly in insatiable consumption, neglecting and biting the hand that feeds it, and with a bottomless amount of vanity. It has too often chosen ignorance or denial, prejudice or violence, and a habit of lethargy to change little, if anything, about its direction. Judging by its historical record it would seem this “superior species” is the epitome of self-defeating obesity leading to self-inflicted extinction. My accompanying tune and tribute to this brilliant, yet endangered species and slideshow:

WARNINGSome images are graphic and disturbing. Discretion advised.

After some 100,000 years of human “civilization,” is it time our species rethink its priorities and values, perhaps overhaul them completely? Is it time we stop exploiting, trashing, destroying, and ignoring our living kitchen that sustains all life on Earth, let alone our own kind? When will it be too late? How much business as usual becomes bankrupt, no more business, ever?

Most likely that deadline is much sooner than you think. Agree? Disagree? Indifferent?



Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Love More

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Growing Variants


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!

Maskless patrons this March at a North Dallas cafe & shop — LM Otero/AP

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 most ordinary, 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.

“To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”

william shakespeare, hamlet

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 NEVER goes 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.

From the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, Feb. 2, 2021. Emphasis mine:

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.

Lisa Schnirring, New variant COVID findings fuel more worries about vaccine resistance, CIDRAP News, accessed March 18, 2021.

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.

MY CONCLUSION

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. 🤦‍♂️

And THEY’RE OUT!!! Texans cannot be held back or told what to 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

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