Monday, May 25, 2020

Counting Days

I'm sure I've written about how much I dislike the counting of the Omer.  Or not. 

Signing the tenai'm document.
For those who do not know, I'll explain. We got Ziggy's diagnosis of terminal cancer on the first day of Passover, the morning after the first Seder in 2009. Seven weeks later, he decided he wanted to see my folks for his birthday which fell on Shavuot that year, and Rabbi Allen arranged for the Junior Son and his then fiancee to have tenai'im, an old-fashioned betrothal on that Sunday so Ziggy could sign the document...and we all signed around him. He had the poor form to leave us  exactly one week later on the 16th day of Sivan, 5769 (2009) right after sundown. To all of  us, it seemed the counting of the Omer was the counting down of the last days of ZIggy's life. Because of that ritual, it's like a sledgehammer, reminding me daily that there are so many days left before his yahrzeit

But Ziggy's is not the only yarhzeit in Sivan. Grandpa Moishe, for whom the Senior Son is named, passed away with my dad holding his hand 41 years ago today, the 3rd of Sivan, 5739 (1979.) Uncle Budgie, Mom's younger brother, just stopped talked sitting in the waiting room at the podiatrist on the 15th of Sivan, 5775 (2015,) which happens the day before Ziggy's yarhzeit. 

As you might expect, Sivan is not my favorite month on the Hebrew calendar. It's a month of remembering. A month punctuated by yahrzeit candles. A month of wishing that instead of Little Miss visiting Saba at the cemetery for the first time, she was running to show him her first double-headed dandelion so she could get a hug. Little Miss and Young Sir will never know their Saba but through stories. And that breaks my heart the same way it broke my Dad's heart that Grandpa Moishe never got to see his grandsons. Dad thought Little Miss was the most  beautiful baby ever, even if he couldn't see her very clearly. We  talked about the unfairness of his holding her hand and not Ziggy holding her hand.  And Young Sir would have sent the whole lot of them into outer space with his corkscrew blond curls and infectious laugh. 

On the political front, Feckless Leader made a fascinating observation while he was touring the Owens & Minor distribution center in Allentown, Pennsylvania:
Don’t forget, we have more cases than anybody in the world. But why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They [the media] don’t want to write that.

Well, I've been told I'm also part of the media, fake news  or  othewise and I am happy to write about this on behalf of Feckless Leader: He's spot on right. If we did not test for COVID-19, we would  have no cases to report. That is absolute fact, and may very well rank as the truthiest statement he has made to date. At the same time, I would love to hear his explanation as to why the US has had 99,427 deaths since March 4th, 2020 from an illness with shared symptoms.

The firing of more Inspector Generals and the replacement of the heads of various agencies with people uniquely unqualified is nothing more than a harbinger of things to come. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Wear a mask and social distance yourself.
Now is NOT the time to become lax.

Flattening the curve does not mean the danger is  over;
it means  there are beds available in the ICU.

Monday, May 18, 2020

When Nothing Makes Sense.

I am trying to find joy in unpredictability and the ever-changing landscape that constitutes reality. It’s rough; I’m finding it hard to plumb a straight line on the truthiness meter, one that hangs at that perfect, precise point between spin and total fiction, the point that says, “this is the real thing.” It is exactly that point which should be the launch pad for how we process information in our new reality. I dare you to find it.

We've been told by the news media that we've lived through epidemics before. Never did have bird, swine, or SARS flu. Had chicken pox but not measles. In fact, I had to get an MMR vaccine before I went to Italy in 2018. But there is one epidemic I do remember in snips and snatches....the one I survived: polio. 

Yes, I am a polio survivor. No, I didn’t need an iron lung and no, I did not wear braces on my legs. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have it...I did. I was just one of the lucky ones whose problems were less visible as a child but developed into bigger issues as an adolescent/young adult. The reason I bring this up is because I was infected in one of the “lesser waves” early in the summer of 1955...when everyone thought the worst was over because the vaccine had been released in April.

The vaccine was released. 

Focus on that phrase. The first effective vaccine was developed in 1952. It was tested on a small group of children and adults on March 26, 1953. Trials were not concluded until the end of March, 1955 and the vaccine released officially on April 12th, 1955, the 10th anniversary of the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the most famous polio survivors. 

Truth is, I was young enough not to know what was going on, but old enough to have some fleeting memories of the experience. The memory that, to this day, terrifies me the most, is one that I know to be true: I shared this disease with our next door neighbor.

I shared this disease.

This was not a good thing. We both survived, but he did a stint in an iron lung and had braces on his legs for years. 

Which makes me watch all these open-up demands with a slightly different understanding of how an epidemic works: there is nothing between you and COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet. There is no established, fool-proof treatment for COVID-19. The little we do know about how it works is how it spreads. 

For example:  one positive COVID -19 person attended a church service near Sacramento. He/she shared this disease with his co-religionists. A week later, 71 of those people who had been at the service were sick. 

It’s not gonna go away. It's going to spread further and faster because people are proving to be cattle when it comes to social distancing and respecting boundaries. Removing the rules will mean a return to the old normal. Only the old normal temperature won't be and there will be spikes in every state. As of this moment, just look at Florida. 

COVID-19 might slow for a time, but it will come roaring back in late fall or winter. All it takes is one person sneezing or coughing in the wrong place. What scares me the most is that we have scientifically progressed enough to know this is coming back but few want to recognize it for what it is: virulent. 

Russell Senate Office Building
Washington.,D.C. July 19, 2019
CNS Photo/Tyler Orsburn
Not all that long ago, not in a galaxy far, far away, but right here in this country people were all wrapped up protesting about the treatment of immigrant children by ICE. Arrested, denigrated, and mocked at rallies by Feckless Leader, lots of these folks went to jail just like other civil rights protesters have done for the last six or seven decades. For the most part, these folks weren’t threatening government officials or workers with bodily harm. Most of the time they were staging sit-in type activities. That’s not to say barbs were not exchanged or insults hurled at others, but there wasn’t a whole lotta violence going on. That would have been counter-intuitive to the purpose. These were folks advocating for life safety at places were large numbers of children separated from their families were inhumanely treated. Our government, led by a cadre of a miscreants, labelled these people enemies of the state. For voicing their objections to inhuman treatment of children. That treatment has  not stopped, in fact, it has been escalated.

Michigan State Capitol
April 30th, 2020
Reuters: Seth Herald

Ten months later, armed militias stormed the state house in Lansing, Michigan, legally carrying a variety of guns and armaments.  and instead of mass arrests, the capitol police did nothing. A week later, when the protesters were coming back, the in-session Michigan legislature closed up shop and ran away. Once again, they were not arrested. They will not be prosecuted. Look at the picture: is that the US...or some country in South America? 

This collection of walking, talking assholes stood in the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing and by their very presence, threatened the government of a state. Not because they were upset about the treatment of other human beings. Not because they were concerned about a pandemic. Not because they were worried millions of people are out of work and have lost health insurance. But because they could not go out to a bar. Or get a haircut. Or a tattoo. 

Clearly, they don't give a shit about Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa. The only thing that matters is beer. And tats. 

Welcome to New America. 

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., Feckless Leader has prescribed himself some hydroxychloroquine. The stuff has a lotta side effects: 
·      slow heartbeat
·      symptoms of heart failure (such as shortness of breath swelling ankles/feet unusual tiredness unusual/sudden weight gain)
·      mental/mood changes (such as anxiety depression rare thoughts of suicide hallucinations) hearing changes (such as ringing in the ears hearing loss) easy bruising/bleeding signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away fever)
·      signs of liver disease (such as severe stomach/abdominal pain yellowing eyes/skin dark urine) muscle weakness
·      unwanted/uncontrolled movements (including tongue/face twitching)
·      hair loss
·      hair/skin color changes.
I doubt anyone would notice.  We can only hope...they don't.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Wearing a mask only works if you cover your nose AND mouth. 
Leaving one orifice exposed sorta negates the whole deal.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Yurtle versus MIL: She Wins, No Contest

Last night, in the waning light of Mothers' Day, I lit a yahrzeit candle for my mother-in-law. She died the day after Mothers' Day, one of the few kindnesses she ever showed her son. Even though she wasn't Jewish, we had a shiva candle burning for her at the house the week she died. (I remember how shocked Ziggy was when he went to Hodroff's on Snelling to get it, and they refused to take money for a shiva candle. "We take care of our community," the man told him.) In a way, the shiva candle was an act of defiance against her not-always-so-subtle expressions of antisemitism. But she was his mother and we agreed that her memory would be recalled in the traditional ways. Every year at the end of Mothers' Day, Ziggy lit a yarhzeit candle for her. 

The last time he did it, he was dying and he knew it.  Without my daring to ask, he turned to me and said, "I'm not planning on looking for her, y'know. I"m going straight to Aunt Ruthie's for a martini." I loved him extra-much when he said stuff like that. Not because he wasn't going to look for his mother in the Olam ha'Ba (World to Come) but because he was going over to my family where he always had a good time. Anyhow.....

My mother-in-law was a former US Naval office/gym/health high school teacher who really wanted to be teaching American Civics and History. Marilyn read history like other people read cereal boxes. And she retained what she read...which was kind of a miracle. She was a devoted fan of not just the Founding Fathers, but of the statesmen who crafted the Constitution and, by extension, this country. She had an opinion for everything and she was always right, whether she was or not. Didn't matter. I can't help but wonder what kind of rant she would've delivered on the pandemic, the federal response to the pandemic, the response of the Executive Branch of government on the pandemic, and why someone like Yurtle-the-Turtle McConnell keeps getting elected. Seriously, she would be carrying on BIG TIME as to why the entire DNC isn't focused on getting rid of that jackass from Kentucky. She would point out that it doesn't matter who the president is, but that POS running the Senate needs not to be. During Reagan's first administration she told me he was a jackass actor but he was just the president. The real power, she insisted, lay with the two morons running Congress: Strom Thurmond in the Senate and Tip O'Neill. Thurmond was a Republican and O'Neill was a Democrat, but he was Irish...she was 100% Welsh so she hated everyone else from that part of the world. However, the older I get, the more I think she was right about how this country is actually run.

It should be pretty clear to everyone on the planet that Feckless Leader isn't running anything except his mouth. And even though he claimed he was going to stop having briefings, the only thing he's done is move them to the Rose Garden and call them something else. What should be the world's single most embarrassing humanoid not only has a following, but one that believes he's doing a good job.  This is a hint, people.

Recently, a horror movie is making the rounds called PLANDEMIC. It's so chock full o'baloney that Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo have all removed it from their respective platforms. I actually watched part of it, and stopped because I thought I was having the big one. There are a lot of people who actually believe what this crazy lady says...and a lot of them of ardent supporters of Feckless Leader and his cabal. This is another hint, people.

If you really wanna have a good time, you can pop over to Wikipedia's List of Conspiracy Theories page. You cannot possibly believe some of the stuff people believe! Okay, I'll admit I listened to Revolution #9 backwards a whole bunch of times, but I was a kid. I wasn't a grown up heading into a voting booth. The point being that some people just believe what they hear within a certain context. It's not just Paul McCartney (who to date is very much alive and married to yet another Jewish woman) but The Lubavitcher Rebbe who some people say is the Messiah, or Hilary Clinton and her cannibalistic child-pornography ring. It doesn't matter how stupid/dumb/outrageous/ridiculous something is; it's all a matter of As Seen On TV and we just saw that up-close-and-personal in live-action during the bleach-drinking/UV up the butt press conference. Poison control lines were flooded. I mean, really?  We saw it happen. We all watched it. And people are still calling to find out how to drink Clorox safely. Plandemic is right up there with the rest of the crazies. And the Feckless cabal is loving every wacko minute of it.

Which sends me right back to my hard-drinkin'/golf-lovin' mother-in-law who absolutely maintained that the way to fix this country was to elect a Congress that was interested in actually doing the work. She believed passionately that the president was no more than a figurehead like the Queen of England...whom she admired greatly.  As I watch the machinations of the House pitted against the Senate, I am grudgingly ready to admit she might be right.         

Nothing is going to happen or get fixed in this country as long as Yurtle-the-Turtle is running the Senate. He happily admits he does not send on bills that have been passed in the house. He gleefully makes up rules (like the one about an outgoing president doesn't get to pick SCOTUS Justice. Or that the federal government is not obligated to help "Blue" states.) If We, the People wanna take back this country, screw Biden and the jackasses of the DNC. Go for the Senate. 

Feckless Leader is Toothless Leader if he doesn't have the Yurtle running the Senate to back him up. The Super Pacs have bolstered Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina because they are the seats currently in play. But don't discount Kentucky where Yurtle is currently in a tight poll race with Amy McGrath, whose nomination is not yet a done deal. 

It is not outrageous, considering the current state of affairs with COVID, the jobless rate, and a looming pork shortage, to think that flipping the Senate is a possibility. It can be done much the same way our House district elected Angie Craig: outreach to the communities you are least likely to turn. 

Talk to a political strategist if you want to learn how it's done. But to even have the conversation, the position to be taken is one in which all sides are heard. All citizens are invited to the table, and all citizens are treated with the utmost respect even if their views are diametrically opposed to yours. If you are unwilling to raise up the tent flaps to let everyone in, you are condemning yourself to another 4 years of inaction. 

The time for polarization is past. It's destroying what's left of this country. If you insist on posting inflammatory garbage on your wall, remember this simple adage: 

I changed my mind because I saw a meme on Facebook....
said NO ONE ever. 

If you really wanna change the discourse, change your discourse.
If you really wanna change the polarized politics you're hearing, don't repeat crap.
If you really wanna change how America is viewed globally, act locally.

Nothing will change unless we begin at the bottom and slowly work up the stalk. Since no one is happy in our country at the moment, try listening to why someone is unhappy. You might hear something you didn't expect. You might try banding local folk together for a local common cause across party line. Make friends. Make inroads.  Most of all, surprise someone - maybe yourself - listen to another opinion. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
From Dr. Thomas R. Frieden
former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
under the Obama administration:
"We’re not reopening based on science. We’re reopening based on politics, ideology and public pressure. And I think it’s going to end badly."

Monday, May 4, 2020

Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die

It's a bit early in the Jewish year for breast-beating, but the last couple of weeks have set an ear-worm off in my head and I can't seem to shake it. 

On the High Holy Days of Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, We, the Jews, recite Unetanneh Tokef, a liturgical poem that has been around from at least the 8th century, if not earlier. In other words, Jewishly speaking, the concept's got legs. 
All mankind will pass before You like a flock of sheep.

Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed –
how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created;
who will live and who will die;
who will die after a long life and who before his time;
who by water and who by fire,
who by sword and who by beast,
who by famine and who by thirst,
who by upheaval and who by plague,
who by strangling and who by stoning.
Who will rest and who will wander,
who will live in harmony and who will be harried,
who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer,
who will be impoverished and who will be enriched,
who will be degraded and who will be exalted.
But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severity of the Decree.
My Grandma  Bessie  used to whisper Unetanmeh Tokef lest she accidentally put a magish (hex) on someone. Even Ziggy took this one especially seriously. (But that's a story for another day.) As for me, I am terrified every time I recite it during the liturgy. It's seriously scary stuff. Outside of the High Holy Days, I avoid  thinking about Unetaneh Tokef. By the time the Gates of Heaven are almost closed at the end of Yom Kippur's Neilah service, I am ready to put the terror aside and go on with living. 

Who by upheaval and who by plague?

Apparently blue lives do not matter.
Credit: Getty images

Recently, some of We, the People, have concluded that their freedom to infect outweighs others' freedom to live. It's okay to pretty much spit on other people even though you don't know if you're a corona virus carrier or not. These people are angry because the government is telling them what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. 

Um...welcome to having a vagina. People do it to us all the time. All you fine people have no problem insisting the government legislate what to do with our bodies, so why can't the government tell you?

The difference is, we're not talking about an embryo here,  we're talking about the public arena. This isn't some big philosophical debate. This is about being served by others. Mani-pedis are not an end-of-life decisions. Getting a haircut is not a live-or-die scenario, neither is getting your hair colored. Drinking in a crowded bar is not on the same necessity plane as breathing. 

The above mentioned are all choices. Breathing is not.

People who want face-to-face, skin-to-skin contact with strangers who, like them, may be totally asymptomatic but highly contagious and capable of spreading COVID-19 apparently are unaware of the consequences. This is what entitlement looks like: people expecting other people to be okay with dying because they are, fundamentally, servants. 

A sign at the demonstration outside the Michigan capital building read: 
"Tyrants get the rope."

Tyrants don't legislate in the interest in the public good. They don't tell you to stay home so you won't pick up corona virus. Tyrants don't do that sort of thing. No. They legislate to benefit themselves and their cronies. But we're not talking about that right now.

Part of the deceptively low numbers of confirmed COVID-19 infections are due to the lack of testing capability. That's changing. The number of confirmed cases will, obviously, rise dramatically....but watch for the spikes over the next 2-3 weeks. See where they are happening. Watch states like Michigan and Georgia. 

Like I always say, you can't fix stupid. Nor can you fully grok Darwinism until you manage to come around to the axiom, 
Survival of the fittest really means the demise of the dumbest.

Who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer?

The protesters are considering the bigger picture. They don't seem to understand that regardless of what they think, say, or feel, people will get sick and die. They claim they understand this and can live with that reality, but the really important question is not being posed to them:

Can you name two or three people you are willing to let die 
for the sake of getting your hair cut?

Not exactly Sarah Palin's version of death panels, is it? You remember those, where the GOP insisted the ACA would have death panels to decide who got treatment? Well, that never happened. No. Now we have a pandemic for that...and those death panels are turning out to be less about ventilators and more about assholes who don't understand social distancing and lockdowns are about saving lives. No, they think it's about trampling on their right to get their bangs frosted. 

Isn't that really the core issue here? Who are you willing to let walk over the rainbow bridge because you are choosing to ignore what we already know to be successful prevention in a pandemic?

The New York Times ran a devastating article about non-medical hospital workers, the lowest paid on the staff, who interact with staff, patients, and visitors and were never provided adequate protective gear. They are dying at a high rate. Do the protestors think this is an okay trade-off? 

Those who protest at state capitals across the country are not protesting to save lives or even really to save jobs. They are protesting because they can't have a good time. Is that really who we are....or worse, who we have become?

Grandma Bessie 1900-1977
Grandma Bessie, born in 1900 lived through pogroms, the Spanish Flu pandemic, World War I, The Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust, the birth of the State of Israel, the polio epidemic, the anti-war movement, the Kent State Massacre (50 years ago today,) and me getting married to Ziggy. She traveled  by horse carts, trains, ocean steamer, trollies, trams, subways, cars, airplanes, and even saw a man walk on the moon. I cannot see how she, or anyone else from that generation, would see social distancing as a hardship when it means saving lives. 

I also suspect none of this selfish behavior is surprising. We, the People, elected someone like that to the highest office of the land. It should not be a shock that his cabal behaves that way. One can only hope the disease hits close enough to home for all of them. Only then will affordable health access and responsible social behavior become real-life issues for them.  

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Do Bee a good citizen and friend to all...
stand 6-feet apart.

Don't Bee a total asshole and get in people's faces
even with a mask on