From Rope to Threads

Well, as much as I’d rather post something more comical, scientific, or spell-bounding intriguing… this quick post will be simply a matter-of-fact report (rant) on current goings-on with me, those around me, and stuff in the U.S. If you were wanting/needing a lift-me-up blog-post, best you go somewhere else this time. I’m a realist as well as a hopeful optimistic realist. 😉

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Dallas, TX has very recently experienced over one week of triple-digit temperatures. Today’s expected high (yesterday’s) was a cool frigid 93º Fahrenheit. A happy respite from the 103-106 temps the other week. Most of those days we were also under National Weather Service “Excessive Heat Warnings” and “Air Quality Alerts.” The latter is basically a warning of high levels of ozone air pollution from man-made machines, factories, and refineries to go along with methane and CO² up there. This also includes dust/dirt in lower strata from heavy construction equipment, state-sanctioned (roads & highways) and/or private-sector contractors everywhere in the DFW Metroplex. That pollution is distinctly worse during windy days.

I watched this afternoon, about 1 or 2pm, out my front window three (3) Dallas Police Officers (all white), in two squad-cars, and one of the onsite property managers remove two different residents from my building who were apparently delinquent on their (daily?) monthly rent. One resident, a male perhaps in his late 30’s, packed up everything he could into his massive backpack and rolling suitcase, more things in bags under one arm, and walk out to the street. He then walked down the street until he was out of sight. He may have continued on to the busy 6-lane intersection a half-mile away, under a state highway bridge, with some 6-8 other homeless people (6-8 on a daily basis that is) holding cardboard signs walking out into and around stopped vehicles.

The other residents, a couple perhaps in their late 20’s, began packing up their little beat up used compact car—which was already quite full with tons of other belongings—eventually evacuated the property under watchful eyes of police and property management. As they left, their vehicle’s exhaust was visibly blue smoke; oil leak(s). I doubt their car would pass the state inspection laws in order to obtain liability insurance, required by law to own and operate a vehicle, assuming of course they owned it and possessed current, valid liability insurance minimums. The last 6-8 months I’ve witnessed these sorts of evictions take place. What is glaringly obvious are the vast numbers of homeless people everywhere on our busy street corners and intersections the last 12-24 months. It’s impossible to not notice.

This past week I’ve tried to help this neighbor three doors down. About 2-weeks ago his compact vehicle had a major breakdown. Jumper cables didn’t help. A tow-truck came to haul it off to some repair shop. His only source of income is his job as a Lift/Uber driver. He pays his rent week to week, for obvious reasons. Yesterday I drove him 8-miles to the shop his car was being worked on. It’s in a “sketchy” part of town at a very rundown business building of many old used vehicles scattered everywhere outside. They fill-up the make-shift parking lot.

When he returns to my car where I’m waiting—to make sure his car REALLY IS fixed/ready—with an obvious down-trodden face he tells me There’s a snag, a hangup. Can you wait a bit longer? I tell him of course. Ten minutes later he returns with all of his belongings to go straight to work, and tells me the part that was sent to them had stripped threads. He soon told me with an upset tone that he’s sure THEY (the shop) fucked-up the refurbished replacement part. I must take him back home… without his vehicle (for income). This foul-up has now cost him another full-day of income, making it the 5th day without making money. Today, to help him out at least a tiny bit, I go to the management office and pay for one night on his room/place. That’s all I could afford given my own strapped situation.

I literally just received the THIRD Amber Alert in as much as 7-9 days! This doesn’t count the significant increase in Amber Alerts we’ve had in Texas so far just these last 7.5 months! They’ve been going off noticeably more ever since COVID-19 quarantines and businesses and schools shutdown. By the way, that also includes most daycares for working Moms or Dads.

As many of you know, I am a sports fan, particularly a soccer/football fanatic. If any of you in the U.S. are sports fans as well, you know painfully that ALL of our professional and collegiate sports seasons have either been cancelled, postponed, or undetermined. As a result and for the first time in my entire life, I have become a semi-fan of the South Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), watching a few games at 4:35am… because most of this spring and summer there has not really been any other sports viewing-choices right now or there hasn’t been in the U.S. for several months! And I’ve NEVER liked baseball until my son got into it seriously at age 10 over nine years ago. Pfffft, KBO? Seriously!?

If any of you have followed the current American MLB shortened season going on, its season and teams are an organized mess because of COVID-19 infections popping up in at least 4-5 different team’s club houses at different times. The New York Yankees just had 1-2 games postponed because of positive CV-19 tests. More postponements or cancellations might be happening. The entire league’s 60-game season it is said will have a HUGE asterisk attached to it and its October World Series (if it happens?) because of this unprecedented time America and Americans are going through.

I watched two interviews over the past 2-3 weeks that I thought were poignantly revealing summaries of what our country has been put through. Sadly, it did not need to be this bad, not even close! Had our federal leadership heeded all the warnings coming from all the domestic and global experts back in Dec. 2019 thru mid-February 2020, this continuing crisis could have been shortened SIGNIFICANTLY and with much less economic tragedy. But then it happened again this past May over Memorial Day weekend and in another spike July… over 4th of July celebrations and holidays. Here’s what wealthy mogul and former Microsoft owner Bill Gates said about the handling of this pandemic by our federal government and leadership:  Bill Gates on GPS: “Testing insanity” is unique to U.S.

The other interview was by Christiane Amanpour of PBS with former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. It is well worth the 3-minute watch, I promise.

Personally, I have been COVID-tested twice now because both times I was experiencing 6 of the 11 symptoms for the lethal virus. Fortunately, both results were negative. But my last CV-19 test, inside Dallas County (one of the worst hot spots in Texas) took almost 5-weeks to return a result. The only reason my two results have been negative is because #1) I stay at home alone as much as possible. #2) because since early March I have social-distanced like an OCD MoFo, I wear a mask anytime I go out in public, I wear rubber gloves when I go into any places of business doing my BASIC shopping for essential items and/or grocery store items. And #3), if I don’t get out of my vehicle, that’s because I’ve shopped online for curbside delivery done by only ONE worker to my car… that is, a car parked over 8-10 feet away from any other vehicle!

And yet, after near 7-months of this consistent distancing, preparation, and wise, considered caution anywhere I go… this has become a change from “doing well enough” in April 2020, to making things tighter and stretching out longer in July 2020—going from a stabilized ship in a horrible storm at sea—to grasping for ropes to cling to as the HMS Titanic goes down, and to now desperately seeking THREADS that might hold me above the surface of a self-created (by my nation & its leaders) Level-5 hurricane I and everyone around me are getting sucked into. And yet there’s more.

Day before yesterday I ran out of one of my two high blood-pressure meds. When I requested the pharmacy to contact my primary care physician’s office for the refill, the next day they called back stating his office denied my request. I know why. I haven’t gone to have my blood lab-work done yet. It costs me $135 (no insurance) to have it all done, plus the tele-visit or video-visit with the doctor to initiate it. Plus on top of that the cost of the generic prescriptions. It’s money I do not currently have because of several other pressing priorities due to COVID-19 affects and consequences on businesses.

Oh well, hopefully life gets better for everyone and reduces hypertension and high blood-pressure—that if chronic, inevitably leads to heart disease and other medical problems. HAH! 😆 That’s a subject Dr. Sanjay Gupta covered in his extensive 1-hour documentary on HBO called One Nation Under StressIn the documentary Dr. Gupta uncovers the root causes of why American life expectancy, that is primarily Caucasian’s life expectancy, is falling and is now shorter than all other major developed countries. It is a disturbing revelation of our nation’s true health. Here’s the trailer:

So what’s the rub? Can we Americans make it until November 4-5? Can we survive with minimal casualties in this raging, unforgiving storm/hurricane of a crisis that could’ve been lessened significantly, probably avoided in many ways? Because this pandemic virus has affected and infected so many socioeconomic and healthcare sectors and lives, that not even I could’ve anticipated, it could get much worse and last much longer! And I am a HUGE nerdy science guy who tries his utmost to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. But this shit is going to outlast even my own predictions back in February. I told everyone then this pandemic and its ripple-effects would last till late-August or early-September before a downward trend and gradual respite occurs. It appears my prediction is coming up wrong and well short. 😔😷

I wonder… how in THA HELL did our Greatest Generation (of America) do it for well over 5-6 years during World War II  on top of coming out of the Great Depression!? Holy crap they must of been truly “E plurabus unum” (like superhero MoFos)… like we stamp on all of our coinage. HAH! Is it really a United States of America rather than a DISunited States of America, “One nation, under stress, and very divided!” as our new revised Pledge of Allegiance the last 4-years might be uttered today? Other nations around the world handled and managed the pandemic SO MUCH BETTER than the U.S.! That’s undeniably true.

Ugh, my rant is done. Tired I am. Everyone keep being safe, being well, and safely distanced. Try to keep going and hang in there! I hope I can too. 🙄

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P.S. One last thing. Have I ever expressed my rising annoyance with most everything electronic, internet, streaming, or WiFi-based over the last decade or more? And with that near boiling-point annoyance of said electronics I am quickly approaching the brink of ‘going postal.’ Have I expressed that? And how many times all my electronic devices I have ever owned (especially the last 10-12 years!) get overly spammed, hacked, and breakdown into some cyber-neurotic psychotic tantrums after ONLY 24-months from their purchase? Then I am forced to purchase a new cutting-edge “newer” device. Imagine that!

Does anyone else experience this incredibly frustrating, cyclical consumer entrapment on a society addicted to an electronic-everything world? Just a passing thought.

I really miss those days (in the 80’s and 90’s) when items, machines purchased would last a good 10-15 years, easily. Now, most mega-corporate business models are structured to generate what they call “perpetual revenue” and repeat consumers that appease, gratify share-holders for many quarterly P&L reports. Ugh, I so love hyper-capitalism.

That last sentence was extreme satirical sarcasm by the way. 😠

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Every Single Cell-Phone

Last night on PBS NOVA, Decoding COVID-19, the award-winning science show since 1974 aired a most intriguing, informatively packed episode about our current progress and fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. From their website introduction:

In an unprecedented global effort to understand and contain the virus—and find a treatment for the disease it causes—is underway. Join doctors on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as they strategize to stop the spread, and meet the researchers racing to develop treatments and vaccines.

Life and Survival vs. Loss of Privacy

In the latter portion of the show doctors and scientists discuss how all biophysicists, epidemiologists, virologists, geneticists, pathologists, everyone around the world in these scientific fields are racing to find a vaccine. A vaccine that can take up to 2-years of testing and manufacturing before it reaches the Earth’s population.

Meanwhile, the only defense we humans have at the moment is monitoring, managing, then restricting our social behavior. In Wuhan, China, the first epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, on April 8, 2020, Chinese authorities reopened the city and province for business. Residents were allowed to travel and move about in public with face-masks. The emotional, mental, and social benefits for Wuhan residents was enormous. However, life in Wuhan was/is nowhere near back to normal.

Wuhan residents, healthcare doctors,  and government officials have a serious concern and fear of a second resurgence of COVID-19 infections soon after reopening. This is justified. And so many restrictions are still in effect there. For example, anyone entering or leaving a building, property, park, or space are required (by law?) to use their cell-phone to scan in, upload special location-marking codes to a regional database. Gates of complexes, condominiums, stadiums, malls, entertainment events, parks, all have entry and exit stations, policed by security guards where every single person must scan a QR-code using a phone app at all specific entry/exit points, with your specific health condition, and based upon everyone else’s health-data condition that has been near you at the same time. Your color-coded COVID-19 warning-status is constantly updated. Green? You’re good, free to move about as you please as long as you have not been near another risk or high-risk person. Yellow or Red codes mean you will not be allowed to enter or exit before medical attention arrives. For those two color-codes, further medical testing, removal and possibly immediate quarantine may be required.

These measures in Wuhan have seemingly been very effective in squashing new outbreaks. They also have further benefits in conjunction with widespread testing. Everyone with a cell-phone will get multiple notifications of anyone who has been in near-contact with you wherever you’ve traveled. Without a doubt, for a lethal pandemic such as SARS-CoV-2 this level and complexity of monitoring is ideal for public health and safety until an effective vaccine arrives.

Therefore, here is my question for you, my readers and followers:

Is your own personal privacy more important than other people’s life and well-being?

In this day and age of hyper-sophisticated electronic technology and the fact that almost all of Earth’s human beings possess a cell-phone packed with GPS monitoring data for wireless providers and other mega-corporations to purchase and to use, is your personal privacy, movement data, and social activity more important than stopping and reducing COVID-19 from wiping out millions of the human race, possibly even taking your life, or someone dear to and deeply loved by you? Would these type of Chinese-inspired data-sets and phone apps help incompetent American leadership in any way for tracking COVID-19 infections, its hot-spots, and then assisting in testing kits and potential hospital admissions?

Yes? No? Maybe? Unsure?

Share your thoughts and feelings below. When is it right to Take One for the Team, the Village, and when is 24/7 electronic intrusion too much and goes too far for some group of questionable people of greed and control?

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Live Healthier — Love More — Laugh with Family/Friends — Learn More Science

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In-Your-Face Independence, Texas Style

I could easily write eight to ten, 5,000-word blog-posts explaining to my readers extensively and factually why many/most modern Texans are stubbornly, ferociously audaciously proud to be from Texas or to be a born-n-bread Texan. Foreigners on other continents may not be aware of how many Americans in other states basically know or know all too well how very boastful modern Texans can be. Since the advent of radio, TV broadcasting, and the internet we Texans have built-up for better or worse—frequently worse in my opinion—a national, if not international, reputation of having large things in Texas. It is true. There is no shortage of BIG in the Lone Star State.

I for one, as an 8th-generation Texan, am often sickened and nauseated by this “big” attitude. It is audacious self-promotion. And here is the BIG reason why I feel this way.

A bit of Texas history about one of its earliest flags. In my header above the flag on the left is a well-known and long taught highlight in Texas schools’ Social Studies classes between 4th-grade and 12th-grade. The spirit of that independent rebellion against Mexico, before being annexed by the United States only a few years later, represents how BIG Texans boast of their freedoms and liberties, even against Washington D.C. and a liberal United States. But calm down, don’t worry, the history of our long embedded (or inbred?) arrogance is for another later five or ten blog-posts. (wink)

In my local newspaper The Dallas Morning News, they reported yesterday how Dallas residents, as well as the DFW Metroplex are contributing to slowing or “Flattening the Curve” and eventually stopping the deadly COVID-19 pandemic:

What happens when a percentage of the population ignores government lockdown decrees or pleas for social distancing?

“It’s true that under normal circumstances, you’ll have a lot of people who are resistant to government dictates and control,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “Under emergency conditions, those people become dangerous.”

“But if you have people who are talking about a ‘deep state,’ or socialism or a government takeover — while we’re trying to cobble together from the local level to the national level a response to an absolutely unprecedented pandemic — those people are not just foolish,” Jillson said. “They are dangerous.”

Government leaders have to “be as straightforward and direct and truthful as possible with the American public,” Jillson said. “So that the 90 percent of the public that is reasonable can rally to those instructions and bend the curve on this virus.”

White Rock Lake in Dallas on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

White Rock Lake in Dallas on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – image by Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer

I must be fair, however, about over-generalizing and faulty identification of who is “Texan.”

Since 1963 and more so the last decade and a half Texas has been one of the fastest growing populated states in the country:  currently #2 in GDP and #4 in economy size. This means over the last decade or so many currently living in Texas were not born here. Because of three attractive, compelling reasons non-Texans move here or have recently moved here years ago. Those are 1) many new corporate businesses move and headquarter here, i.e. jobs, 2) no state income tax, and 3) cheaper housing by national comparisons. The point being that anyone living here who wasn’t born here are obviously not natural Texans. Consequently, I shouldn’t include those non-Texans in our long history and why we are so audaciously, arrogantly proud, right? Yet, in the big picture of our current world-wide, deadly pandemic, where one was born or how many multiple generations preceded you here is irrelevant. Or is it?

Despite the measures, the city received at least 853 calls about large gatherings in the past week. According to the mayor’s office Tuesday, authorities gave out 150 violation notices, which are similar to warnings before a citation is issued.

The U.S. Surgeon General warned Monday that rebels and scofflaws of social distancing put their fellow Americans at risk.

“I want America to understand — this week, it’s going to get bad,” Dr. Jerome Adams said on NBC’s Today show, denouncing those not obeying social distancing guidelines.

“This is how the spread is occurring,” Adams said.

flatten the curve diagram

Flattening the Curve – Image: © CDC

Any rational, well-educated person with a solid grasp of medical sciences in microbiology, virology, methods of airborne infectious diseases, and how highly contagious those are shown repeatedly throughout humanity’s post-classical and modern history, would ask and should ask these flouting rebels, skeptics, and deniers What the F*CK are you doing and thinking!? Apparently they’ve forgotten or ignored America’s 1918-1920 Swine Flu or Spanish Flu that was also an airborne, highly contagious virus like COVID-19 and in one single month killed 200,000 Americans. In the end, it claimed 675,000 Americans and an estimated 50-million world-wide. Perhaps our President should keep mentioning those 50-million victims of “The American Virus” in his press conferences? Pompous Texans should too.

Why are so many Texans ignoring the factual, confirmed histories of deadly, fast-spreading pandemics? Did those preceding generations of your Texas family not pass down the horrendous details or show you the actual death-certificates from your family tree?

Outdoor concerts and festivals are banned in most locations. And those restrictions weren’t sitting well with Rev. Horton Heat, a popular Dallas-based rockabilly band, which posted a livid message on its Facebook page about a week ago.

“Reverend Horton Heat is NOT cancelling ANY gigs because of COVID-19.”

The band made it clear that it wasn’t their call to cancel its gigs, and encouraged fans to “push back,” in a post trumpeted on its Facebook page.

“I encourage everyone who lives in a jurisdiction where local governments are restricting rock and roll to push back,” the band said. “Write emails and call your local government agencies to remind them that we have the right to assembly. They can’t stop rock and roll!”

TX motto t-shirt

Widely popular meme in Texas, especially by Sons & Daughters of the Confederacy

Co-founder and current member Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath guitarist and lead vocal of the band is a native-born Texan. He does indeed represent that audacious, arrogant historical Texas rebel pride.

But it isn’t just three-generation, five-generation, or six-generation native Texans flouting their rebel disobedience to county and state authority, it is even our Lt. Governor Dan Patrick as well, who like all of the Bush’s is not a native-born Texan!

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick agreed, saying Monday the country should go back to work, suggesting “grandparents” like him, who are at higher risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19, should sacrifice to keep the country out of economic trouble.

“My message is that ‘Let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it,’” Patrick told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “And those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”

I am both stunned by the medical-virological ignorance and denial here, and yet at the same time not too surprised by many fellow Texans showing off their cockiness in the face of ‘too much government intrusion,’ a popular opinion over the decades by most established Texas families and businesses making up this Red-state.

There are factual data-sets in several parts of the world—not just in New Orleans, Louisiana—supporting those restrictions ordered by government leaders listening to and heeding epidemiologist’s desperate warnings and admonishments to why it is critical to social-distance as well as follow all washing, disinfecting protocols while at home. As reported by Sky News yesterday, this is what happens when citizens, businesses, entertainers, and governments do NOT take epidemiological science serious. The headline:  Coronavirus: Champions League match a ‘biological bomb’ that infected Bergamo, experts say.

That match was between Italian club Atalanta and Spanish club Valencia. As a result, not only did Italy become the epicenter of COVID-19 infections and deaths, but Spain is now experiencing the same and soon will catch Italy’s mortality rates. The Sky News article goes on:

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known. No one knew the virus was already here. It was inevitable.”

More than 7,500 people have died after contracting coronavirus in Italy, where there are more than 74,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

More than 650 people have died in the last 24 hours in Spain, taking the total past 4,000.

Cases there rose by more than 8000, bringing the total to more than 50,000.

To the overly proud rebels, skeptics, and deniers in Texas by Texans, if you don’t care to believe the actual medical data, science and virology, or the long repeated world history of known pandemics and the hundreds of thousands of deaths from plagues, or how highly contagious and lethal airborne flu viruses are then perhaps it will only take the death of an immediate family member, perhaps your own child or parent, to wake you up to reality. Why even risk it? Why… when by all your rebellious behavior all of you could easily cause are hospitals overflowing beyond capacity, the supplies and medical items which raise your safety and your loved ones’ safety… run out? Or the oxygen-breathing machines to fight the deadly pneumonia from COVID-19 are all in use and no longer available for yourself, your children, or parent like many are experiencing right now in Italy and Spain? Why?

Why chance it? To prove what a proud, independent, Come Take It From Me, cocky native Texan you are? How would that epitaph look on your gravestone or your 8-year old child’s or one of your siblings? There quickly comes a point when self-absorbed ignorance and pride can never outweigh a loved one’s life, premature life when you were informed in time of avoiding it. Imagine that regret for the rest of your life.

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Supplement March 28, 2020:
Crowds Flood Dallas Trails During First Weekend of ‘Stay Home’ Order — Allie Spillyards, NBCDFW.com reporting (the actual camera footage in the news video is not just astounding, but very disturbing as well; watch it)

Supplement April 3, 2020:
With visitors still bunching up in parks, Dallas officials plead: Don’t make us shut them down — “It looked like a Mardi Gras party.” Hayat Norimine and Obed Manuel, Dallas Morning News reporting

Some Businesses Using Loopholes To Stay Open During Coronavirus-Related Shutdowns — Ginger Allen, CBS Local.com reporting

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