Zoom Technology During the Days of Corona!

So here we are in Florida staying home and keeping our distance while trying to stay in touch with family and friends.  I hear regularly from everyone I know via text and email wanting to know how I am doing.  I assure everyone I am home and go out maybe every ten days or two weeks only to shop.

Yesterday I ordered face masks for myself from Amazon; not surgical masks mind you but ordinary masks which will protect some one else should I be asymptomatic and sneeze or speak with them in person.  No surgical masks are available until at least July anyway and they are needed elsewhere by front line folks.

My eldest daughter is a prosecutor for the state and is currently working from home. She is attending virtual meetings via the app Zoom.  Apparently use of the app has increased dramatically for virtual business meetings.  She suggested I download it so that we could stay in contact via video chat.

Of course as an old out of touch geezer, I am totally unaware of these things.

I found it in the app store (its free) set it up on my new magic phone and we talked this morning, actually seeing each other for the first time since the beginning of these days of separation.

Technology during quarantine!

So of course she took my picture while we talked, me with my quarantine look.

Shaggy hair, which will continue to grow longer and unshaven.  No reason to shave.  No one is coming around any time soon.

So here it is.  Warts and all.

Toritto ugly!

🙂

Stay safe my friends!

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Geek Love – Poem #42 – From the Archives

What are we you and I?
I mean really?
What are we made of?
Mostly water.

Lots of Carbon.
A bit of zinc.
A touch of Calcium.
A dash of nitrogen.

We think
therefore we are.
Maybe.
How do we think?

If one looks at a brain
on a slab or
still in a head
it’s only a couple pounds of meat.

Doesn’t look conscious
or that it ever could be conscious.
But it is.
Or was.

Are we more
than the sum of our parts?
Those parts existing since the light
blazed forth eons ago?

We like to think we are but
it doesn’t mean we are.
It could be we are less
than the sum of our parts.

At least some of us.
In a sense we have always existed.
At least our parts
have always existed

so the physicists say.
If my parts are
thirteen billion years old
I wonder

where were these parts
before I got them?
And where were yours?
Exactly how used are they?

In this form we exist
until in the blink of an eye
these forms exist no more
and we no longer exist.

Our parts will continue to exist
sort of like an old transmission
or alternator at the junkie.
The car is gone

but the parts remain
and our parts will take new forms
some day
in an eon or two.

Will they think?
Will they love?
Will they try to write poetry?
Maybe not.

Maybe they will just be.
Like asparagus.
A new form for a new being
made of recycled parts.

Sorta like being reincarnated.
Definitely green.
But it is your current form
that I truly love.

I only hope our parts meet again
in the eons to come.
and that we recognize each other
in our new forms.

With my luck you will still be gorgeous
and I will be asparagus.
Promise that you will look
for me.

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A Lucky One

This morning I rose at about 8 A.M., earlier than with  the alarm perpetually set at 8:30.  I showered, didn’ tbother to shave, brushed my 11 remaining teeth, put in my denture, smiled at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, checked my glucose level, took my insulin shot and prepared breakfast and coffee.

Swiss Muesli this morning.  Had my second cup o’joe outside on the lanai.  Song birds were out this morning as well as a warm spring sun and a breeze sending the palm trees a clattering.

I am in many ways a lucky man; a retired member of the white collar class who has the privilege of no longer having to work for a living and who is able to keep his distance from other human beings.

I am not a 77 year old living alone in a tiny apartment in New York with no view of green, sea or sky.  I am not living without cranes or song birds.  Though not rich by any means, I have no worries about paying my bills.  I do not have to ride subway trains or line up at a food bank for my next meal.

Lucky indeed.

I grew up in New York City, closely sharing the physical space with strangers one will never know.  How strange it must be to now have to consider everyone – family, friends and strangers – a potential carrier of a deadly virus.  How jarring it must seem to see a bustling, living city grow quiet, while everyone who can retreats to their rooms.

Those who can work from home are indeed privileged while the millions who have lost their jobs and the millions yet to do so try endlessly to file on line for desperately needed unemployment checks to pay the rent.  Those of us who don’t have to w0rk at all are the most privileged.

Yet of course I have worries, primarily about my own children and grandson.  And for my family still in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  We check in with each other regularly.  Two have been ill but are in recovery at home.  One is elderly, like me and having a tough time of it.

Clark with his new toy while in hibernation!

My brother and sister in law and my niece, her husband and their new baby are locked up in their Manhattan apartments.  Brother Al ventures out once a week, walking to his office on Wall Street.  His last text to me was “Stay safe!  They won’t waste a ventilator on either one of us!”

Likely very true.

If you live in New York and don’t know anyone who is sick, you eventually will.  It’s strange, but for such a big place you always seem to run into people that you know from the past.  A kid who was in your high school class or the mother of an old girlfriend who broke your heart.  Even here in Florida I will encounter people I knew from my working years in the city.

When you ask someone how they are doing, its usually something like “Things aren’t great but we’re doing OK.”  Seems like things aren’t great for anyone these days and for the most vulnerable are certainly not OK..  The virus has laid bare the economic inequalities and systemic insufficiencies which have always existed.

Ten million have applied for unemployment insurance these last two weeks, heath care workers don’t have access to protective gear while the wealthy have fled to their summer homes or here to Florida by the beach.  Meanwhile the poorest among us clean out empty offices or deliver groceries to ur front doors.

So indeed I am one of the lucky ones, living in a comfortable home in a small gated community in the midst of palm trees, cranes and song birds.  Money magically appears in my account monthly, I have no where I have to be and can keep my distance from everyone.  No one comes to my door unannounced or uninvited.  I have no appointments I have to keep; I have my television, music and my computer.

Perhaps something good will come out of this.  Maybe there will be more thought about climate change, health care, unemployment insurance, paid sick leave.  Maybe we will learn to be a little kinder and gentler with one another, a little more grateful, a little more thoughtful about the way we move about in the world and interact with the people in it.

Meanwhile let us wait for the day when we can all step outside again without masks, look around at everyone else doing the same, without fear.   It will be a beautiful day in the neighborhood indeed.

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Captain Brett Crozier – U.S.N

The commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt has been removed after saying the US Navy was not doing enough to halt a coronavirus outbreak on board the aircraft carrier.

In a letter, Capt Brett Crozier had urged his superiors to act to prevent US troops dying outside of wartime.

But Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, a Trump temporary appointee,  said the commander “exercised extremely poor judgement”.  He said the letter created the impression that the Navy was not responding to is questions.

At least 100 people aboard the vessel have been infected, reports say.

“It creates the perception the Navy is not on the job; the government is not on the job. That’s just not true.”

Captain Crozier  had warned the Pentagon that the outbreak aboard his ship was “accelerating” because crew members were living in confined spaces.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” stated the four-page letter, dated 30 March.

Capt Crozier had called for “decisive action”, saying uninfected sailors had to be removed from the ship and isolated.

The letter was later published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Two days after writing the letter he was relieved of his command.

Our Commander in Chief, the same one who insisted that the Navy take no action against a war criminal. said nothing.  Why?  Because Captain Crozier had criticized the Navy’s lack of action in a scathing letter while the President was still calling the pandemic a “Democrat hoax.”

Captain Crozier was watching his men fall sick. knew the virus was on board and was greatly concerned for their welfare and the welfare of their families.

But he criticized the lack of action and by inference, the President’s political position that the virus was “nothing to worry about.”

He risked is career in defense of his men. And this is what they thought of their Captain

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Visions – Poem #39 – From the Archives

 

It must have been two in the morning
both of us on the living room floor
the flickering of a late late show casting shadow and light
in black and white

after a blazing July day at the shore
with little worn over young sunburned bodies;
holding hands casually touching each other
in the air the magical essence of sweat, salt and Coppertone.

Alone in the room with our excitement
parents asleep upstairs;
in our arousal
we threw caution to the wind.

We weren’t wearing much on that heavenly Summer night
the delight of flesh, quickly bared between half opened clothes
the intoxicating vision of it coming to rest
some sixty years later here, in words.

Loving each other
eyes wide open
silently pleading
not to make a sound.

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Thoughts While Social Distancing

Totitto social distancing.  There are worse places to hunker down.

Well its another day sitting at the keyboard at home during the time of the virus, pondering what to write about. So much to ponder.  Yesterday I ventured out to the local grocery donned in latex gloves and did two weeks worth of shopping.  It was early and the store was virtually empty of people as were the roads.  I got just about everything I needed, save toilet paper which is still being hoarded.  I have enough for me for now.

Our Governor, a Republican finally issued a “stay at home” order effective Thursday at midnight.  Essential travel only for groceries or to a doctor or pharmacy.  It doesn’t affect me much since I’ve been living like that for the last couple of weeks.  On the other hand, it might result in furloughs or uemployment for my youngest daughter and a son-in-law.  We will see.

Speaking of unemployment, some 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the last week on top of the 3.3 million the week before,  a staggering collapse of economic activity.  And I fear this is just the beginning.  The month of April 2020 will be etched in memory of those still young for a long time to come.

Over 1,000 people died in America yesterday from the new plague.  We currently  have more confirmed cases than any country on earth and this too, I fear is just the beginning.  And in the richest country in the world by far, we have shortages of masks, paper gowns, test kits and ventilators.  A private plane owned by the New England Patriots will arrive in Boston tonight with a million masks from China.  We look at each other and ask “How is this possible?”

What started as “We’ve got this under control” and a “Democrat hoax” is now being taken more seriously by our Great Leader.  Governor Cuomo’s brother is now ill and legendary jazz pianist and teacher, Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of the great New Orleans jazz family and father of Wynton Marsalis is dead at 85 from the virus.

Rush Limbaugh continues to spout his vitriol, claiming the great American economy is being destroyed “under the guise of saving lives” and threats on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s life have resulted in his security guard being stepped up.  Dr. Fauci is the face of the battle against the virus on national television and he has had the gall to gently correct the President when he was feeding us feel good bullshit.

Meanwhile out in Texas the great heartland the oil industry is near collapse.

Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry believes that the oil industry could collapse because of the dramatic decrease in demand worldwide caused by the coronavirus outbreak and a steep decline in prices.

“Our capacity is full. The Saudis are flooding this market with cheap oil,” Perry told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night. “I’m telling you, we are on the verge of a massive collapse of an industry that we worked awfully hard, over the course of the last three or four years, to build up to the number one oil and gas producing country in the world, giving Americans some affordable energy resources.”

Many U.S. states and countries around the world have ordered their citizens to stay home in order to contain the spread of the virus. And airlines have dramatically cut back on flights as the number of passengers has fallen off. Fewer cars on the road and planes in the sky means far less demand for oil.

Coupled with a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia that resulted in an oil surplus, the price for crude as well as gasoline has plunged. The national average for gas in the U.S. is now below $2 a gallon.

Perry, a former governor of oil-producing Texas, said that could destroy smaller, independent companies and hurt the people who depend on them for jobs.

“There’s this host of Americans who their entire future – taking care of their family paying their mortgages – is tied directly to the energy industry,” Perry said. “It’s a driver of a massive amount of our American economy.”

And he said the loss of those smaller companies would have long term consequences for the American consumer.

So much for our “friends,” the Saudis.  On the other hand the air appears a lot cleaner in many cities.

The preachers are coming back out.  Religious services will be deemed “essential” activities here in Florida.  One local Elmer Gantry was arrested n Tampa last week for holding  services and “laying on hands.”   Of course if there was one among the congregation with the virus and not showing symptoms, these folks could leave church and spread it around their grocery.  Just remember, if one of you or your mother dies, it was God’s will.  Don’t blame the athiests.

Meanwhile two Holland America cruise ships with four dead passengers and sick aboard, denied entry everywhere have pleaded to dock in Florida.  Looks like they will be allowed to dock in,  Ft. Lauderdale.  The sick will be quarantined or hospitalized. .  Everyone will be tested; foreigners sent home via chartered jet.

Who is dumb enough to take a cruise at this time in these petri dishes?  Vessels should be moth-balled for the foreseeable future.  That business is not going to return for a while.

So as the plague continues to spread, the number of deaths rise, the economy is collapsing, millions have lost their jobs and income and the likelihood of a serious recession becomes more inevitable, our President again took to the six o’clock news to give us his now daily  update on the current situation and what he is doing to stem this calamity.

He spent half of the time touting his new war on drugs.

President Trump opened the daily coronavirus briefing by touting an “enhanced counter-narcotics operation” aimed at keeping drug cartels and other terrorists from exploiting the pandemic crisis.  Trump announced the program at the top of the briefing

: “As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there is a growing threat that cartels criminals, terrorists, and other malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain, and we must not let that happen. We will never let that happen. Today the United States is launching enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics. We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives.”

He announced the war on the cartels, mentioning Venezula and Maduro by name and detailed the deployment of the navy and coast guard in force into the Caribbean and Mexico’s Pacific coast to intercept drug shipments by sea.  On the stage were three or four admirals who were going to protect America from the drug scourge.

One would think it might have been easier to protect America from drugs by directing the  navy against American pharmaceutical companies.  But hey, what do I know.

Further to the war on the Coronavirus we were warned Iran was using our preoccupation with the pandemic to plan an attack on our soldiers, promising the mother of a responses.  Let Iran beware.  Like Iran doesn’t have enough problems right now.

How about as a humanitarian gesture we offer Iran what help we can in fighting the disease?  Nah.

Now all of this tripe is clearly  aimed at changing the headlines, as a diversioon.  Have any of you out there currently locked in your homes been thinking about the looming danger of the drug cartels this week? I didn’t think so.

What we have been thinking is that how is it that the United States of America, the richest country in the world, can find itself in such deep doo-doo having to buy its paper hospital gowns from China?

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Pennsylvania Station – Poem #37 – From the Archives

I saw her on the platform
sitting waiting for the train
the same as I remembered
little changed from Soho days.
We spent our days in Soho
loving through the afternoons
but we wanted very different lives
too great a gulf to compromise
and so we went our separate ways
our paths now crossing for a moment
‘neath the Pennsylvania clock.

That’s how I remember it
she maybe saw it different.

She saw me too and smiled at me.
“How are you!” A warm embrace
two former lovers face to face
and it felt so good to see her
looking every bit the part
a successful and established man
heading home to wife and child.
Over coffee in the diner
we caught up on years gone by
She never saw me in a suit
remembering the sax instead
playing blue notes Friday nights
“Still composing sharps and flats?”
Trading gains and option rights
“And what of music your first love?”
She knew what made me happiest
the music I had given up.
The publication of her novel
New York Times Best Sellers list
My marriages and children
water under all the bridges
while fingers touched across the table
until the time for her to go.

And as she kissed me on the cheek
she saw that look upon my face
and put her fingers to my lips
to silence words I aught not say
whispered in my ear “Be happy!”
disappearing in the crush.
And when I lost her in the crowd
I knew what I had missed the most
I missed her boundless faith in me
that made me feel
when she was near
so much more than what I was
That she could see
what I might be
even when I couldn’t.
Her boundless faith went with her
when we parted long ago
leaving me to doubt my choices
pondering the road I traveled
a moment from “The Way We Were”
with me as Hubbell Gardiner.
That night I played my saxophone
dreaming dreams that might have been
if I had been as brave and bold as she.

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