Monday, April 27, 2020

When Life Hands You Lysol

I have nothing to say today. Well, that might not be exactly true, but it's close enough. 

How can one compete with ingesting disinfectant and shoving a UV light up the butt? You can't.

But I did have an interesting exchange with a childhood friend about this week's stupidity highlight. I'm not certain where her quote originated, but I'm using it anyway without attribution.
ER wrote:  I never heard an argument quite like this before. A somewhat unique reaction to the travesty in the White House. I still hate him with every fiber of my being. Here goes:
“Great summary of the lysol [sic] issue:
Look, he did not say we should inject ourselves with disinfectant. Watch the video. He wondered aloud why, if disinfectant kills the virus outside of the body, doctors can’t come up with a way for it to do so inside the body, the way a child wonders about things. The travesty here is not what he said, but why he is talking at all. Why is he wondering anything aloud? Why is he even there? Now he says he was being sarcastic, but that’s not possible and even if it were, why would that be okay? Why would being sarcastic ever be okay in this situation? He was being genuine, maybe a rare genuine moment for him, just genuinely ignorant and curious. If the virus is mean, why can’t we just tell it we don’t like it and then it will go away? So the issue we should be upset about isn’t that he said we should shoot up Lysol. He didn’t. The issue to be upset about is what we’ve been upset about since 2016. Why is it okay for an obviously ignorant person to be in a position to vocalize his curiosity to the world?”
The WP relied:  I understand what you are saying and went through similar gyrations trying to make sense of it. But here's the bottom line: this is not unlike what happened with hydroxychloroquine. He doesn't listen to what is said and he certainly does not think before he talks. So had it not blown up in his face as quickly as it did, within 24 hours he would be boasting about how doctors think he's a genius for coming up with a cure. How do we draw this conclusion? Within hours of his statement, medical facilities were flooded with calls asking how to ingest or inject disinfectant. He was speaking directly to his followers.

What we didn't know when Feckless Leader was proposing Dr. Mengele-like cures was that this was not original thought. Shortly after that memorable stroll down wacko-thinking, The Guardian published an article about a guy name Mark Grenon who had written to Feckless about chlorine dioxide
 – a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk – is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body”. He added that it “can rid the body of Covid-19”.
Well, at least now we're sure it wasn't some sort of extrapolation from a peer review journal of medicine or even Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Nope. Just another dose of snake-oil. Were you expecting something else?

Rest assured, his loyal minions were looking to try this new cure. Apparently, more than a a few people called poison control. I'm waiting for the numbers on admissions to hospital for disinfectant ingestion to become public. Of course, the talking orange bears no responsibility for any of this since he was being sarcastic. 

Sure he was. As Ziggy would say: evolution in action.

Well, one good thing may have come out of this: Feckless claims he's shutting down the daily bullshit. For that alone. we should be thankful. For the little things.

But where does that leave We, the People? 

Fintan O'Toole of the Irish Times was rather blunt:
Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

Sitting in my study, I wonder if the quarantine will ever really end. I wonder about what changes to society are about to become permanent. And I wonder about how this is going to change life for the grandkids. Talking to Little Miss today, I asked her what was the hardest part about the quarantine. A 5-year old who understands corona and quarantine is a scary thing, but she does and she's given it a lot of thought. "Talking to my friends," she said with great conviction. "I miss being together and hugging." Five-year olds hug a lot. Hugging is a good thing and I don't want that to change for her and her friends.

Lots of people aren't getting hugs right now. Lots of people need them. Lots of people need to know their lives are not going down the drain. Lots of people are unable to feel secure or safe. Lots of people are in real danger of losing everything, losing their grip, or just losing their faith.

We, the People, stand at a precipice. Who we are as a nation, as a people, is about to be determined. By us. By every single one of us. It's time to set politics aside for a moment to look more closely at who we are now and who we want to be. There is that grave possibility that the high road we claim to want will not be chosen, and the nation will go the way of Kentucky. Are we prepared to deal with that reality?

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Don't drink or inject disinfectants of any kind.
There. I said it. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Comparisons Are Odious

I really wanted to write something uplifting and positive today. I worked on this concept throughout the day, but came up with nothing beyond the banality of birthday-caravans, singing from balconies (even if it is Brian Stokes Mitchell singing IMPOSSIBLE DREAM,) and the usual neighbor-helping-neighbor stories. All of which deserve to be shared and praised... except that wasn't what I was looking for. 

Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2, 2019.
(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
But, it's also Holocaust Remembrance Day on the Jewish calendar. in Israel, if this was a normal Yom Ha'Shoa, when the sirens sound at 10:00 a.m., traffic stops. People pull over and get out of their cars.  Why is this day different from all other Days of Holocaust Remembrance?
With mass gatherings still strictly forbidden by measures to slow the pandemic, Israelis are marking Holocaust Remembrance Day differently this time around. Tomorrow, April 21, at 10:00 in the morning, the sirens will sound as they do every year for a minute of silence. Normally, everything in Israel comes to a halt on that moment, with cars stopping on the shoulders of roads and drivers getting out of their vehicles to stand while the sirens sound. This year, people are called to come out to their balconies and stand there for the minute of silence, sharing the significant moment with whoever is around.

I was reminded today that someone I knew here in Minnesota had been a sonderkommando. I also explained to someone else today that by the time I was 6, I knew what a number on an arm meant, and I knew who Adolph Eichman was and what he did. I also remembered that a fellow who worked with my dad, someone I knew very well growing up, has a twin sister and they were Mengele twins. I also knew the reason our neighbor never wore her blouses with the top button open was because she was used for experiments in the Auschwitz and she had terrible scars on her chest. I also know lots more stuff like that.

These things were not abstract to me, they were not stories I read in a book, or saw on 60 Minutes. These were real people living in my world, raising kids, going to the supermarket, sitting in PTA meetings, going to shul, and defying Hitler with every breath they took. 

There aren't too many of them left. Soon, there will be no eyewitnesses at all. There will be no one left to say, "I was there. I saw that. I am still here."

Anne Frank and her family and family friends hid in the attic, the secret annex, for 761 days. That's more than 2 years. Then they were arrested. Then they were sent to the camps.  The only one who survived was her father.  

I made an emergency Target run on Sunday morning. Some emergency. I needed a CO2 canister for the SodaStream. My isolation is nothing compared to hers. 

Come to think of it, nothing in this time of Corona virus compares to the Holocaust. Nazis didn't close golf courses; they sent people to be gassed. People telling you to stay home, self- isolate, and maintain social distance are not Nazis; they are trying to save lives (yours) so people (like you) don't die. That's the opposite of a Nazi. Not the same thing.

But that doesn't stop some people from being assholes. Look, if you want to go hang out in crowds, or whatever, go for it. There's a real good possibility you'll pick up Corona Virus. There's an equally good chance you're gonna be really, really sick. You might survive, but then again, you might not. And when you are gasping for air because you can't breathe, don't blame Feckless Leader or even the Chinese. You were warned, you were provided reliable, scientifically investigated information, and you chose to ignore it. 

Not. My. Problem.

If you're not watching LAST WEEK TONIGHT, you should be. John Oliver is terrific. But it's also kinda sad and scary that it take a comedian to get people to listen to reality. Seriously, if you're not gonna listen to anyone else, listen to John Oliver. He does his homework. 

BREAKING NEWS: Feckless Leader has suspended immigration to fight The Invisible Enemy. The only invisible enemy the U.S. is facing is his brain. Gone, certainly not forgotten. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Wanna go out and party with your buds?
Think of it as evolution in action.

Monday, April 13, 2020


UPDATE: At the time I wrote the blog, Vanity Fair also reported Kushner and Ivanka Trump were on the council. That has changed. See correction below.

Does the word THALIDOMIDE ring a bell? Maybe you have to be of a certain age to remember classmates with flippers instead of arms and hands. 

In the post WWII years, when mothers' little helpers were for everyone, Thalidomide was touted as a non-barbiturate sedative, safe and effective...according to the manufacturer. From a 2009 article in HELIX of Northwestern University.
Thalidomide first entered the German market in 1957 as an over-the-counter remedy, based on the maker’s safety claims. They advertised their product as “completely safe” for everyone, including mother and child, “even during pregnancy,” as its developers “could not find a dose high enough to kill a rat.” By 1960, thalidomide was marketed in 46 countries, with sales nearly matching those of aspirin.                                   
Only there were no clinical trials, no oversight, no collected data. And no mention of side-effects.

Let's back up a minute, just so you know where I'm coming from on this.

The FDA was established in 1906 when President THEODORE (not Franklin D.) Roosevelt, signed the Pure Food and Drug Act into law. Inspired by Upton Sinclair's THE JUNGLE, this was the first US attempt to protect consumers from bad practices in the food chain. Not that it stopped Postville, but who's looking?

In 1938, President FRANKLIN D. Roosevelt signed into law The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that banned ridiculous, unproven claims. Not that it has ever stopped anyone from believing all those vitamin supplements really work...but I digress. 

But thalidomide was different. It caused horrific birth defects that would be traced and linked directly to that supposedly safe-for-all drug. It took the Thalidomide Tragedy to spotlight the need for standardization of drug testing and approval protocols. 

In 1959, Senator Estes Kefauver started holding hearings about the pharmaceutical industry. By 1962, the Kefauver Harris Amendment or "Drug Efficacy Amendment" is an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Thalidomide was the tragedy that forced our government's hand. 

The FDA exists because manufacturers, however noble they think themselves, are basically out there to make a buck. That's all. It has nothing to do with curing anyone of anything. Nope. It's all about making a buck. Just ask anyone who is insulin dependent. The FDA may be slow and in need of an overhaul, but folks, they are all that is standing between us and chloroquine phosphate...the one that's fatal to ingests, but a whole lotta people think because that jackass in the White House said's the same thing. Guess again. But then, maybe that's evolution in action....death to the dumbest. 

Look, the links are all there. I'm not here to give you a history lesson. I am here to tell you that the world biggest snake oil salesman is sitting in the Oval Office and he doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself and his bank account.  Need proof? Here it is. Here is the committee that's going to decide when the US drops its COVID-19 protections and "opens" again for business:


Not even Dr. Fauci is in that group. Come to think of it....not one of them even plays a doctor on TV. And you're gonna trust these people with the health of your family? Really? He coulda appointed Dr. Oz for cosmetics, but he didn't. Not one of these intellectual midgets knows the difference between chloroquine and chloroquine phosphate. 

It is now Tuesday late afternoon and there is still no word on the formation of a council, other than "it is fluid." However, Feckless Leader has announced that as POTUS, he is calling the shots of the states. Last time we looked, he had an inauguration, not a coronation. Someone forgot to tell him he's not running the states' shows. 

More updates as they occur.... We'll see. 

UPDATE: I like the original list better. This new one is just off the charts. Seems to include the head of Carnival Cruise Line and a bunch of sports team and casino owners. Nary a scientist or medical person in the lot. Read the NYT for yourself:Trump Announces His ‘Opening the Country’ Council . If you read it, there is no council announced, just a list of people he's planning on talking to. Which means no one is actually coordinating any information. He'll hear something he likes...and then repeat it. Garbled. Greatest Response Ever. 

Folks, there is nothing, and I do mean NOTHING we can do about this until November. 

Until then...stay home until it's safe to come out. Stay away from chloroquine phosphate. Don't believe what you read on social media...except for me, of course... but even then, do your own damn homework. 

Look, most of us are sitting at home a whole lot more than usual. Use the time wisely. Read SNOPES. Read the Washington Post FACT CHECKER. Learn the difference between asshole conjecture, dangerous talk...and facts. Go to the CDC website. Go to the FDA on corona virus. Just don't listen to the snake oil salesmen. If you hear it and you think it's helpful, GOOGLE it. Don't rely on others to tell you what to think...NOT EVEN ME.

And that's all I'm gonna say about it.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Do you have an actor in the family, 
someone who breaks into song at the drop of a note?
Cherish their passion. 
One day, they will not be there and 
you will long to hear just one more chorus of
David P. Simon (z"l)
Uncle Tevye

Monday, April 6, 2020

Widowness In The Time Of Isolation

Most not all of us .. but enough for the jokes to make sense.
This past Saturday evening, my paternal family Zoomed to Florida to celebrate Aunt Cynthia's 96th birthday. Almost everyone was there; it was amazing to have all those little boxes on the screen...and everyone talking at the same time....just like a normal Schwaidelson family gathering. Some of them saw Little Miss and Young Sir "live" for the first time. Some saw Mrs. Senior Son for the first time. And we met the newest groom in the family ...poor guy had never experienced a room full of us before. Four generations. Aunt Cynthia, my dad's younger sister and last remaining sibling,  pretty much sobbed her way through the best sense of the emotion. I don't need to think...I know this would not have happened in normal times. This was because we are all quarantined away from each other and we all discovered Zoom. I think we all had a need to see each other. If nothing else, I got to laugh a lot with most of my family.  When it was over, I just sat at my desk and grinned for a long time.

The next morning, a well-meaning friend called to check in with me. Our shul has been proactive in reaching out to people who live alone, making sure that they're okay or if they need help. With this strange and surreal Passover almost upon us, this is a good thing to be doing. The conversation was going swimmingly along until she told me how lucky I was to be sheltering by myself, because she was getting ready to kill her husband and bury him in the backyard. All things considered, I know her husband and yeah, I could see her doing that. I doubt any jury would convict her....but that's neither here nor there.

But the remark bugged me and ultimately I told her that however annoying he is, it's someone in the house to talk to, play Scrabble with, to scratch the place that itches one cannot reach, argue with, eat dinner with, and maybe even hug once in a while. I suggested  that she not say stuff like that to other alone people she calls...because it will make many of us sad when we are fighting exactly that along with COVID-19.

It's not about choosing to be alone; it's about being totally alone in your heart. It's different. 

Yeah, as someone editing a new, rather long, complicated novel, this isolation is a perverse kind of writer's heaven. No one bugs me to do anything. I do go for walks, but it's on my schedule. I'm very productive, I've lost weight (not kidding) and my stress level is totally in the basement since I've reduced news-watching to the hour between 5 and 6 pm. I'm enjoying being retired even if I'm not lounging around doing nothing. 

But I'm also talking to the pictures on the walls and having long, in-depth conversations with my characters. The idea of isolation, self-imposed or state-mandated, changes  lots of things. Choices we  make to deal with the low moments are not available. People are  especially busy with their own mishugas. I find I'm digging deep into my happiness reserves to recall specific  happy moments. And I am not ashamed to confess I've actually started looking at the Facebook memories o'the'day page for a cheap smile.

I reached out to several of my widow friends to ask why this feels so different from our usual feeling of isolation/ know...the one where people stop inviting us to stuff we used to go to because they might catch widowness from us? 

One widow put it rather succinctly: hugs. 

Social distancing with your spouse/partner/family under the same roof means you get to hug someone periodically. You get to touch someone. Even if you're arguing, there is in-person human interaction. 


Yes, there are other people who live alone. There are divorced people, and people who just don't want to live with someone else. Yes, there are all sorts of people who choose to be on their own. Everyone has a story, but this is not a pissing contest about whose isolation is greater. This is about world of widows.

When I started this blog almost 10 years ago, I meant it to be a frank exploration of widowhood. I had a couple of widow friends, but as the great Anita told me, "Nobody has an instruction book. You get to write your  own." She had  a great many other pearls to impart during those early days, and I am thankful for that. And I have tried to pay it forward, to say that same thing to others facing that new world. But...

...and there is always a but...

But when a spouse/partner shuffles off the mortal coil and leave us standing there, it's  a  different kind of loss. Loss of the left shoe while you are still wearing the right one. Loss of the guffaw to your bad joke. Loss of the silent communication transmitted in a hand hold. It's a permanent loss you weren't looking for, really didn't  want, and impossible to discuss with the person you need to hear most. Physical and psychic intimacy is severed. There is no repair possible. You are alone.

This quarantine/self-isolation takes that alone and blows it up like a balloon filling the  entire house. Every space is taken up with alone and there is no possible way to welcome a person into that space. It's not wise, it's not safe, and it may be illegal in some places. 

YOU ARE HERE.........................................................THEY ARE THERE.

Meanwhile, you look out the window and see couples walking dogs, mouths moving and although you cannot hear what they are are saying, and your heart longs to have that one person standing next to you looking out the window with you. Instead, there is a space beside you, and not even your imagination can quite fill it. 

And I know I'm not alone in feeling the absence more intently this year....because my widow friends are all saying pretty much the same thing. There is something about enforced isolation that makes many of us especially envious of those sheltering with others. Amongst my crowd, we have all commented on how we miss our life-partners' follies and foibles a whole lot more right now. In my own silence, missing Ziggy is downright heart-rending all over again. And we feel sad. 

Make no mistake about this: sad is NOT depressed. Far from least for me, and most of my widow friends. We get to be sad because we miss our partners. We are entitled. We lived and loved these people and chose to be with them. We did not choose to be without them. And we get to pick our heads up to see the possibilities before us...mostly because we're not dead yet, and have no intention of being dead at the moment. Get my drift?

For those of you who were lucky enough to know Ziggy, you also know that it was on the first day of Passover that we got the diagnosis, and that he left the building a scant 8 weeks later. I cannot help but equate this new isolation with the one I experienced with my husband 11 years ago as he prepared to leave us. There are a number of similarities, a number of differences. But now, as some people count the days/weeks/months of self-quarantine, I begin my annual counting of the Omer...the last days of Ziggy's life. Yes, folks, this does add to my personal sense of isolation. But I know this, too, shall pass. 

The Wifely Person' Tip o'the Week
When venting one's spleen
consider the condition of the recipient of your rant.
Sometimes, it's easy to slice another's heart without knowing.