Monthly Archives: April 2020

Gov. DeSantis’s plan to reopen isn’t perfect, but nothing is these days

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has announced a partial re-opening of the state of Florida (except Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties). In the re-opening, restaurants can seat people outside if they’re six feet apart and seat inside up to 25% of capacity.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

In addition, elective surgeries can start again. Retail can re-open, also at 25% capacity. And sporting events can begin again, but without spectators.

Bars, movie theaters, gyms, and hair salons will remain closed. Nursing homes will remain closed to visitors, and distance learning will continue for Florida’s schools.

I’ll say what Govenor DeSantis can’t say about this plan: people will die who wouldn’t have otherwise died. Everyone knows this.

Some will die of Coronavirus. Some will die of car accidents. Some will die of freak accidents. But people will die.

We’re experiencing a global pandemic. Death is part of the definition. Just because you want to try a measured re-opening doesn’t mean you’re a soulless ghoul who would trade the lives of a hundred poor people for an extra four cents of profit.

Outside the idiots who storm state capitals dressed like the fifth infantry, the people who want to re-open tend not to be robber barons or their useful idiots. They’re people with families and mortgages or rent to pay. They’re worried and sitting around the house with nothing to do and no money coming in.

In addition, hospital visits for life-threatening conditions like heart attack, stroke, or even appendicitis are down 40 percent. People won’t go to the hospital because they’re afraid to get the Covids.

Also, being shut in, away from people, sunshine, and the outside is difficult when things are good. If you already have a predisposition to mental healthy issues, then they’re like a match to kindling. Although no data is immediately available, leading indicators show there might be an uptick in suicides as a result of isolation.

Much of life is based on choosing the least awful alternative. Regardless what Governor DeSantis–or Governors Newsom, Cuomo, and Whitmer–do, people will die. And at the end of this, a politically motivated group will find the nearest microphone and scream about how they have blood on their hands.

DeSantis’s plan isn’t perfect. But it’s sensible. It doesn’t tie the entire state to the portions with the biggest infection rates. It’s a test run. If we can start back and not see a huge spike, then additional steps can be taken. If there is a spike, then we roll back to previous state.

In short, no one knows with absolute certainty what should happen next. If you think you do, you’re wrong. This allows us to see what’s possible, then move forward or back based on the results.

It’s the best you can do when perfect’s not an option.

Ain’t it awful Wednesday

Monday, Gary and Shannon–the midday hosts on radio station KFI in Los Angeles–decided to open the phones and let people vent about the stupid, endless, cockadoodie Covids. I couldn’t call, so I tweeted my gripe.

And Shannon read it, giving me full credit and invoking much laughter. Here’s the Tweet, a quote from Toby Ziegler on West Wing.

I’ve spend a lot of time in Zieglerville over the past couple of weeks. When I tweeted that, it was almost literally true.

I’ve had it with this stupid horsecrap. I’ve had it with working from the house every damn day. I’ve had it with one trip to the stupid store and social distancing and guess what stupid thing got said today.

I want baseball. I want to work a morning from Panera if I don’t have any calls. I want to go someplace more exotic than the neighbor’s driveway this weekend. And I want to tear the mask off that guy I saw wearing it inside his car yesterday and tell him that unless he drove to Wuhan province in the past few days, there’s not stupid Covid in his car–and if there is HE ALREADY HAS IT!

I want to call up the marketing departments for Domino’s and Papa John’s and tell then that no one at any pizza place touches any pizza as it goes from pizza oven to box because it’s FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY DEGREES! YOU’RE JUST NOT THAT SPECIAL!


Ahh, the feels better. Maybe it’s time to find a creative non-violent way to let that pent-up frustration go.

If you’re so inclined, please feel free to use the comments below.

Ten or fewer cases

In our house, we’ve limited our trips to the supermarket to once a week. Once a week or so, we get take out from one of the local restaurants (and a $20 gallon of margaritas). I’ve decided not to use the local bike path because there were too many people.

Our ZIP code has 10 or fewer cases of Coronavirus. (It’s 33558 and you can check it here.)

I understand the severity of Coronavirus. I understand that we may just be way behind the curve. I understand that while I might not get the Covids, I might infect someone at risk, like my wife.

But…ten or fewer cases.

As I said, my wife is at risk. She has to work in a public setting. Our son works in a public setting and lives with us, meaning he’s living with someone at risk. I can work from my house. That means I understand that when a vaccine becomes available, I’m rightfully toward the end of the list of recipients.

If that vaccine takes 12 to 18 months to develop, then has to come up to production, it could be next Thanksgiving of later before my quarantine ends. I understand and accept that.

But, ten or fewer cases.

I have a job. We have pretty much everything we need. I’m not pushing to get out so I can save my business or pay the mortgage.

Ultimately, my whining about ten or fewer won’t result in my being foolish, I mentally play hopscotch with the line of what comes next.

I can understand why people whose financial health depends on being out might not want to err on the side of safefy.

When you do your best, that’s always enough

More often each day, it’s hard to find something new to say about this whole stupid mess, or even a new way to say the things that’ve already been said.

Maybe that’s okay.

Maybe this isn’t the time to expect to write fresh, cutting-edge content every day. Maybe this isn’t the time to expect ourselves to be fresh or cutting edge about anything.

None of us have seen anything like this before. Every day something discouraging happens, the screws get a little tighter. The walls get a little closer. That band of worry across your chest, the one making it a little hard to breathe constricts a bit.

We’re in a dark time. Excellence is vital. Excuses won’t cut it. You have to go all out.

To say this situation absolutely requires that we give 110% (or more, depending on whose cliche we’re using) is a really stupid and futile gesture.

Chris is right. Psychotic, but absolutely right.

You’re tired. You’re worried. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, let alone next month or next year.

Plyometrics is the hardest workout in P90X. It’s jump training, except one of the guys in the video has one leg. He does the workout on prosthetic leg.

One-legged P90X plyo guy (Erik Stolhanske)

The great Tony Horton points this out, and says the guy’s gonna do his best, and that’s always enough.

It has to be. You can’t do better. And right now, your best might be compromised by extenuating circumstances.

It’s a time to be kind to yourself. To do your best and go to bed content that whatever you might’ve messed up, you’ll get another shot tomorrow.

Sanity lies that way. And sanity is the key to getting through this whole crap storm.

The long game

The beginning of baseball season’s a big deal when you live up north. It’s the first sign that maybe things will return to normal and you might one day enjoy a pleasantly warm sunny afternoon as a warm breeze gently caresses your skin like the first touch of a long-absent lover.

That one year we lived in Chicago, it snowed opening day. Sideways. They managed to get the Cubs game in, but only after they borrowed winter gear from the Bears.

April in Chicago, dere

Winter in Chicago is dark. The sun disappears at Thanksgiving and if you’re lucky, it might come back in time for Easter. You think back to the pleasant Sunday afternoon you enjoyed in September and your mind, being rational, doesn’t understand how that possibly could’ve happened in the same place.

When we lived there, my daughter hadn’t started school yet and I tried my best to get her to playgrounds any time I could. It was kind of a game. As I drove around, I’d look for a new playground for us to explore the next weekend. During the winter the only playground was the PlayPlace at the local McDonald’s.

One time, she wanted to go sledding so I took a day of vacation–ten percent of my allotment for the year. We went down the hill once, after which she turned to me and said it was too cold and she wanted to go inside.

In spite of that, the darkness, and the soakers on your socks when you take off your boots too close to the front door, spring always gets around to arriving.

In the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes says that there’s a season for everything. (The 60s band The Byrds agrees.)

This is the season for suck. A hundred-years suck. A perfect storm of suck. Health suck combined with economic suck and our-growing-inability-to-tolerate-each-other suck. There’s no sunshine anywhere and we’re all trapped inside. And as the latest bad news rolls in, it seems like we’ll never stand in the sunshine again.

But we will.

It’s hard to play the long game when right now is anywhere from a throbbing migraine to a nagging toothache. But the sun’s gonna come out again. We’ll go places and see people. We’ll mix metaphors in freedom and prosperity!

Someone will bring up 2020 and we won’t even need to say anything. Everyone will know–until there are too many people who dismiss it because they weren’t around.

That’ll be annoying as hell, but it’ll be a sign for everyone that summer is here and we can go out for a walk in the sunshine any time we want.

UV rays can fight Coronavirus, but not the way you think

The President, as he does, caused a firestorm this week with comments about disinfectants and UV light in fighting Coronavirus. The purpose of this article isn’t to debate his comments, but to talk about the use of UV rays in killing Coronavirus.

In short, UV-C rays appear to kill it with a short exposure. Although they would maim and kill us, as well, there’s still a lot of promise for their use.

When I Googled Ultraviolet light coronavirus, the first two articles I looked at seemed to contradict each other.

The first was a Washington Post article. It said there UV light might have some use, but there are also great dangers in using it (especially UV-C rays, which are filtered out before sunlight hits the earth). The overall tone of the article, at least based on my reading, is that for most uses, it’s a non-starter.

And if you’re talking about Uncle Joe McGyvering a UV virus zapper in the shed, they’re right.

The second link was a Science Daily summary of a University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) study of the use of UV rays in the fight against Coronavirus. Its conclusion is that UV rays can be tremendously useful against Coronavirus, if used properly.

Before we move further, a little primer on UV light. For the purposes of this discussion, there are three types of UV light: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. The first two are plentiful in sunlight, and while they are also effective in fighting Coronavirus, they take a long period of time, typically a few hours, and won’t fight the virus where they don’t hit.

So that Amazon package that sits out in the sun for a few hours probably doesn’t need a Clorox wipe on the top. It needs one for the bottom and anyplace that was shaded.

UV-C light is tremendously effective in fighting Coronavirus, but is also tremendously effective in fighting people. It can cause burns, cancer, and it’s really bad for your eyes.

According to the UCSB study, UV-C is likely to kill Coronavirus on non-living things, like the inside of a supermarket, inside HVAC systems, and on personal protective equipment (PPE). UV-C provided by LED lighting seems to be very promising in this area, with other uses, such as water purification. Before the pandemic, a projected use was water purification in undeveloped countries.

A study by Seoul Semiconductor in early April showed that their UV-C product showed a 99.9% Coronavirus sterilization in 30 seconds.

In other words, while products like Phone Soap, a small UV-C box you can use to sanitize your phone, haven’t be cleared to say they kill Coronavirus, the early signs are positive.

More research is required before this technology can be used en masse–and ironically, the research has slowed because of (you guessed it) Coronavirus. But while we won’t be able to go to a tanning salon to fight this disease, we might not have to worry as much about the places where we gather being coronavirus incubators.

The people gathering there–that’s a different story.

Covid-free Friday: Last time past the castle

I wrote this more than nine years ago, when my daughter was getting ready to graduate from high school. I don’t know if she remembers the house in South Tampa she called the castle. I’d include a picture of it, but I didn’t take one then and I can’t really take a drive down there because…well, you know.

She had this thing where she was always the last person to leave practice. Even after the coaches. Man, that used to piss me off. But I sort of miss it in a way. It was a worthwhile investment in the woman she’s become.

She’s been overseas a lot since then, the Marshall Islands and mutiple times to Africa. She didn’t go overseas to school, but we were able to help make her life more fully lived than I ever considered.

Later this month, my daughter, is going overseas, way overseas, to visit a college campus for a program she applied to almost on a lark.

This is the same little girl who used to light up like the morning sky if I said I’d take her to the McDonald’s with the indoor playground in the dead of winter. She’s the same little girl who became quite put out when she found out she’d have a little brother rather than a little sister like her friend had. And whose anger evaporated when she held him in her arms for the first time just a couple hours later.

This is the same girl who stood next to me and sang at the top of her lungs when we went to the U2 concert together, and who looks at me with bemused annoyance at any of my plethora of off-color remarks. Fortunately and unfortunately, she’s also the incredible young woman who’s just now starting the most exciting part of her life, her hard work paying off in ways she never imagined.

I used to take her to swim practice and drive through some of the higher-income neighborhoods. She called one of the houses there “the castle” and loved to drive by it. Every Tuesday and Thursday I’d pick her up after work and take her to the pool. Then I’d go to Panera and eat dinner, drink coffee, and write until practice was over. Then, most nights, we’d drive past the castle.

Because of the crush of homework, college applications, scholarship applications, and some other things, I drove her past the castle last week. Considering graduation’s less than four months away, I was a little melancholy when I told her, “This might be the last time I drive you past the castle.”

These are the moments that are most meaningful, bigger than any big idea. They’re real and tangible, and they actually happen.

As someone trying to write fiction, I know my work will be an escape and, I hope, carry some social relevance, as well.

But the pretend battles between good and evil are unlikely to be as poignant as the last time by the castle. That’s what really matters.

Jesus doesn’t give a damn

Jesus doesn’t give a damn whether I attend church at the church building or on my back patio virtually. He doesn’t give a damn whether my men’s small group meets in the spare room at church or via Zoom chat.

The world’s first Zoom chat

Although the letter to the Hebrews says, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do,” they didn’t have Zoom or Instagram live back in the day. The rest of the verse says “encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

If today doesn’t feel a little apocalyptic to you, then you’re either in denial or have an amazing emotional constitution.

Zuul said to choose the form of the destructor. Someone had to think of Pablo Picasso’s golf ball.

Let us encourage one another, especially now.

I won’t claim to have a stellar relationship with the Almighty. For me, more often than not, an all-loving God, the God of the parable of the prodigal son, seems more like an appealing theory than an absolute presence in my life. (If that makes me a substandard Christian, then so be it.)

Return of the Prodigal Son, my favorite painting

As it happens, I’m no stranger to despression and some loneliness. I know what it’s like to stew in your own thoughts until medium challenges seem huge and the big ones seem like harbingers of doom.

Having experienced that, it’s like God has tasked me with helping others see around those feelings, or at least see past them.

If you believe then you believe the trite old saw that God has a plan. The we are each, as Psalm 139 says, fearfully and wonderfully made. We have a purpose.

Mandatory Morgan Freeman reference

As a Christian, I’m not entirely sure what my purpose is. I just do my best (sometimes) and hope he’s pleased. I sure as hell don’t know what your purpose is.

I don’t know how God has chosen to manifest himself to you. I don’t know whether he’s pleased or feels hurt because you’re distanced from him.

I don’t have the tools for that.

I just know what it’s like to feel alone and hopeless, which seems like it might be fairly common right now.

So I’m doing that I can, in some small way, to help with that. This post is part of that effort.

I think Jesus gives a damn about that.

And I hope–actually, I pray–that something unexpected happens to make you feel warm and special inside today. I pray that you feel, if only for a second, deep and powerful love.

It’s a hard year. Be easy on yourself.

I know I have it pretty good.

I’m employed and my children are grown. I’m not trying to home school the seven-year-old and corral the three-year-old while my boss is up my butt to be more productive (with the implied or else). I’m not being coerced to trade sex for rent. I’m not trying to make due in a 400 sqaure foot apartment with one window.

But yesterday, I lost my mind a little. Maybe it wasn’t exactly my mind I lost, but I’m trying to clean up my language. And it wasn’t a little. A quarter box of Cinnamon Life cereal may not have survived the rant.

To be clear, I’m not proud of this. It’s an amalgamation of all of my worst qualities in one spectacular meltdown.

Then again, the world is melting down around us. My bucket list doesn’t include become a character is a Stephen King novel. I suspect yours doesn’t, either.

It’s been a while since I’ve read The Stand. I don’t remember any of the heroes having a full-blown, holy-hell-that-person’s-insane meltdown. Then again, that’s fiction, not real life.

Maybe you don’t melt down. Maybe you cry. Maybe for a couple of hours you become the shrewiest shrew that ever shrewed in the history of shrewdom. Maybe you just shut down, close the door and snap at anyone who dares come to you. Maybe you talk like someone who just drank nine pots of coffee and has no idea what they just said.

The Shrew, as Shakespeare would’ve intended if he wrote for Glenn Gordon Caron in the 1980s.

It’s not good that you do these things. But under the circumstances, it’s okay.

Right now, it’s still early. This has been going on for less than six months. Because we’re still figuring this out, statements like there may never be a vaccine still have weight, because they’re still possible.

It’s scary. You get to be scared. And you get to go around the bend a little sometimes.

Accepting that as part of the current cirumstance, allowing it, and giving yourself grace for having gone there is the best way to (1) not go back as often and (2) help other people not go around that bend.

This is tough on everyone. It’s not a contest to see who’ll have the worst case of PTSD down the road.

If you cry, shrew, stew, or have the meltdown, forgive yourself. Let it go. And move on.

It’s gonna be a hard year. So be easy on yourself.

They aren’t protesters; they’re bullies

In the past week, angry protestors, who seem to believe that freedom means the entire world sees things their way, grabbed all their guns and trekked to their state capitols to protest for…the right to get a haircut, I guess. The President cheered them on, which just encourages more of the same.

A professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a guy named Mike S. Adams, tweeted the following:

It’s reasonable to interpret that Tweet as saying it’s okay to shoot at cops who try to break up a protest in the name of social distancing.

Many on the right have been quick to demand the firing of professors on the left who have similarly overreached–in some cases rightfully so. This man should be fired. And if it didn’t make him a political martyr, I’d be okay with his arrest on charges of inciting a riot.

I don’t know anyone who has the Covid. A close friend might have it. A friend’s family member probably has it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

That doesn’t mean China invented this disease and the Democrats used it to ruin the economy, all to bring down Donald Trump, as a meme I recently saw proclaimed.

Nearly 2.5 million people have been reported as having this disease. More than 170,000 have died. All since the beginnging off the year. There’s no vaccine to fight this disease, and as the detractors gleefully point out, there’s no clinically proven method to eliminate it.

A lot of very rich, very powerful people are losing a lot of money and power over this. If this were untrue, they’d be howling about it, don’t you think?

In the absence of proveable date, sane people find infectious disease experts and listen to them. They wouldn’t necessarily have to agree with the most restrictive things the experts say. And they might even disagree with portions of unilaterally proclaimed orders that seem like an overreach.

The protesters are purposely flouting the social distancing mandates while their armed to the teeth to drive home the message that if you don’t do as they say, they’ll make you hurt.

That’s not the freedom the claim to support. That’s tyranny enforced by heavily armed bullies. It’s mob rule, or the threat of it.

This is a real nice representative democracy you have here. Be a damn shame if something bad happened to it.

Encouraging that isn’t a sign of strength. It’s the sign of an intensely scared man who overcompensates for that fear via intimidation.

If they’re wrong, and I’d almost bet my house they are, grocery clerks, healthcare workers, and the people they claim to live will pay the price for their hubris.