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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A Salute Before the Storm

This past week our U.S. Navy Blue Angels, an aerobatic squadron performing shows across the U.S. and Canada, flew over north Texas in a fanfare salute to all our front-line healthcare, EMT, police, and fire workers during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The sound, speed, and visual was indeed arousing, uplifting, and a grateful demonstration for our brave workers who have no choice but to put themselves in danger and/or at risk for infection, possibly worse. However, for Texas and the DFW metroplex was this big show a “salute” per se, or a Good Luck Hope You Survive fly-by for what’s about to hit us with a vengeance?

BA over Dallas

I have published a few past blog-posts regarding Conservative Texans and their governmental representatives being either relaxed or intentionally defiant about the seriousness and lethality of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have also posted about some Conservative business-owners protesting and public officials (e.g. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick) acting and speaking downright ludicrous about reopening businesses way too early. I still hold to my original time-frame of late-July or August of returning to business-as-usual. That depends on how well Americans and Texans take serious and endure quarantines and Stay-at-Home orders until the virus is safely under control.

I honestly do not see this happening, particularly when I am forced to must go out in public for essential tasks and items. I have gotten my routine of exiting outside down to once a week, rarely twice. No more.

During the month of March Texans in DFW were doing quite well at staying home, not going to work and working from home, and not flooding public parks and blatantly ignoring social-distancing as reported for days and weeks. The change was encouraging! It seemed we had a decent chance of slowing and kicking wide-spread infections.

This short video shows the first weekend after local Shelter-in-Place recommendations were announced. This is from Well Creative Productions, Dallas, TX – Drone Videography – Cash Sirois:

But that was late-March folks, the first Friday night after Shelter-at-Home orders. After only 6-weeks this footage is no longer representative of today, not even close. Dallas and the state of Texas is seeing an increase in public protests that defy social-distancing and public health and safety. Yesterday afternoon Dallas saw yet another defiant protest of health and safety-for-all in a rally downtown called Set Texas Free. Here is what one of the rally organizers actually said:

“What we, as a people, saw is there are less people dying of COVID-19 than are unemployed.” he [Kevin Whitt] said. “We are losing our economy. There is so many people in Texas that are still unemployed,.”

Sadly, Kevin Whitt doesn’t have a clue about COVID-19’s methods of incapacitation and/or death. The actual numbers of infections and deaths by the virus have at least a 2-week or more lag. Furthermore, if clinics, test sites, and hospitals get overwhelmed by exponential numbers of infections, even serious life-threatening infections, then the death toll will quickly catch-up and surpass in a blink those who are unemployed! What sort of socioeconomic devastation will a 3-5 week hospitalization (perhaps in ICU?) have on those individuals and/or families? For the uninsured, which typically end up being severe cases and longer stays, the cost for the patient and the hospital is near astronomical: upwards of $74,000 per patient. These estimations provided by FAIR Health, Inc. For the insured, though noticeably less, it is still an enormous bill at discharge, about $38,755 or more… assuming the patient lives. Now, try to imagine what those costs would be for a nation of 1.35-million people infected and still rising! And do not imagine those dollar-amounts in just the next few weeks. Imagine them and multiply them for the next 3-6 months for a more accurate estimation!

Then there is the national celebrity Shelley Luther, owner of Salon Á la Mode in north Dallas, and her Republican circus-rally-for-profit. Following is The Texas Tribune’s must read article:

Just last week, Gov. Greg Abbott unfurled the first phase of his plan to reopen the Texas economy. He would allow limited openings of stores, restaurants and movie theaters, but he wanted to go slowly enough to make sure he wasn’t letting the pandemic run loose. Some health experts were nervous, while others were cautiously optimistic. Abbott said he would wait a couple of weeks to reconsider ending other restrictions.

[…]

Others have been pushing for a return to pre-pandemic Texas. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveiled a 113-page report from what he called his “Texans back to work task force.” One of the stated goals was to recommend ways to “safely and effectively reopen and restore our Texas economy to 100% in the not too distant future.”

[…]

Republican state Reps. Briscoe Cain of Deer Park and Steve Toth of The Woodlands crossed the barricades this week to get illegal haircuts in defiance of the governor. Cain could have been prepping for a court appearance: He’s one of Luther’s lawyers.

That publicity stunt went unpunished.
The Texas Tribune by Ross Ramsey; accessed May 10, 2020

On her GoFundMe site Luther has profited $500,085 as of May 10th. Senator Ted Cruz (R) could not resist jumping on her money bandwagon either.

defiant rebel shelley luther

Local semi-retired sports anchor Dale Hansen with his own show Unplugged had this response to Luther and any other Texans defying legal public health and safety orders and laws during this time. Click here. I promise my intelligent readers and followers it is a must watch video-commentary. I’ve had past disagreements with Dale’s opinions and commentary, however, on this day on this topic about this rebel Prima Donna… I completely agree with him! Sadly, Shelley Luther is not the only whacko-rebel…

May 12, 2020 addendum:
Dallas Morning News headline — Dallas law firm fires employee after ‘threatening’ post about his gun, COVID-19 mask requirements.

K Bain Psychosis

Bain’s psychotic message on Facebook

The firm’s chief marketing officer, Kelby Luther, confirmed Monday that the terminated employee is Kevin Bain, who had worked as a document services manager based in Dallas.

[…]

[Kelby] Luther said the firm’s statement refers to a widely shared Facebook post in which Bain referred to the Whole Foods grocery store on Lomo Alto Drive in Highland Park, saying that any business that insists he wear a mask “will get told to kiss my Corona ass and will lose my business forever.” Bain went on to say “It’s time to stop this [expletive],” the post continued. “Do I have to show the lame security guard outside of a ghetto store my CV19 test results? I will show him my Glock 21 shooting range results.”

Yet the scientific and medical reality is this: Infectious disease experts fear coronavirus will spread as more Texas businesses reopen. This is what an overwhelming amount of nationwide medical, scientific, and epidemiologists warn and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

Epidemiologists said they are encouraged Gov. Greg Abbott is assessing data and consulting experts to inform a gradual reopening of Texas’ economy. But they cautioned that for an incremental approach to be effective, sufficient time is needed between each phase to assess its effects on the spread of the virus.

Abbott’s announcement Tuesday that barbershops and hair, nail, tanning and cosmetology salons may reopen provided they follow a strict set of rules came four days after the first phase of businesses, including malls and restaurants, were permitted to begin operating in-person at a limited capacity.

[Shockingly] his decision came sooner than anticipated, as he had previously pointed to May 18 as a possible date for a second phase of reopenings.

Meanwhile, new infection cases in my county and in the DFW metroplex continue to climb in alarming numbers day after day after day, with no sign of slowing. With this fact let’s definitely cheer-on our hyped-up shows by U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Presidential pep-rallies of false information, watching all the non-stop commercials by mega-corporations bombarding us with messages of hope and healing with their corporate logos and self-promotion. And yes, we SHOULD applaud and congratulate our front-line healthcare workers daily for everything they are risking, doing and will risk and do in the coming 6-10 weeks or more! Because in all likelihood they are going to feel the storm hitting their hospital beds, clinics, testing sites, and admissions. They will be overwhelmed because a few of us want to deny what is happening and will happen if we keep ignoring medical and scientific expert’s warnings. For those greedy few—the safety of public health and work-place safety for everyone—miraculously does not apply for them. The minority in a specific demographic of the population are somehow immune from COVID-19 and necessary legal orders of full and/or limited quarantines. But then if none of them are enforced, then what’s the point in any of this? Disturbing isn’t it?

Our Greatest Generation endured over 4-years of unprecedented sacrifice and national unity to get through World War II. This generation, my generation and those younger cannot even last two months! What a legacy. 😔

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May 10, 2020 extension — from The Atlantic:
There’s One Big Reason the U.S. Economy Can’t Reopen — The country faces the same problem today that it did two months ago: There are not enough tests to contain the virus. Written by Robinson Meyer, May 8, 2020.

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Live Healthier — Love Each Other — Laugh Often — Learn Science!

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