Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Surgeons for Sale

Shelter-In-Place Involuntary Quarantine, Day 8:  More housecleaning today.  No one's ever accused me of being Housekeeper of the Year and when I contemplate using some of my Trump flu free time to clean the house, the entire task gets overwhelming - vacuuming, mopping, bathrooms, dusting, appliances, windows . . .  it's all too much.  So I mentally divided the house into seven separate sections and decided to clean one section per day.  Yesterday, I cleaned the kitchen.  Today, I deep cleaned the dining room.

And when I say "deep clean," I mean on my hands and knees, scrubbing the tiles floors with PineSol and scalding hot water, and taking each and every little knick-knack and tchotchke off the cabinet shelves and dusting and cleaning each one individually (and there's a lot of them).

Two rooms down and five sections to go, and then I'll start over on the kitchen again.

One thing about this pandemic - it really exposes the flaws in late-stage capitalism and makes you hate the rich.  First, we have piece-of-shit Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and Richard Barr short-selling the American public by dumping stocks based on insider information from closed-door Senate briefings on the Trump flu pandemic (while publicly saying there is no crisis and everything's under control).  Now we have Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale getting elective surgery at a time when medical equipment and protective gear are in critically short supply and the public is told that for them all elective surgeries are otherwise to be discouraged.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a Red Sox fan and I like Chris Sale, although I was pretty disappointed when he lost two games to the Astros in 2017, eliminating the Red Sox from the post-season that year.  He did, however, make up for that to some degree with some clutch pitching in Boston's 2018 World Series victory, although he did have to pitch his way out of a lot of jams into which he had gotten himself.  But I'm a fan and not a fanatic, so when he got Tommy John surgery this week, I was glad the operation was successful and that Sale is healthy, but I'm also angry that once again, celebrities and the rich get to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us.

The Red Sox front office said they were concerned that Sale's surgery might take resources away from the battle against the pandemic and wanted to make sure that there would be no negative consequences, but provide absolutely no concrete evidence of how it didn't.  Two doctors had been seeing Sale, one in Florida and one in Los Angeles, and the Florida doctor refused to do the surgery at this time as it was elective and violated the edict against such surgeries during the pandemic.

But the L.A. doctor saw no problem and rationalized it by saying that if the surgery would extend Sale's career by a year or two, then it wasn't merely "elective," was it?  It's been reported that he told the Red Sox front office that the surgery wouldn't take anything away from the pandemic response, but I saw no description or explanation of how it wouldn't.  Just the good doctor's word for it.

Look, Chris Sale is a multi-millionaire - after several successful and lucrative seasons, he got paid $15,000,000 for the 2019 season alone, and is under contract to get another $20,000,000 for 2020. The man and his family are taken care of - we don't have to worry about their well being.  While he could make even tens of millions more playing additional seasons, it's not like he's in dire straits if he missed a season.  Meanwhile, working class manual laborers are being forced to accept physical therapy and rehab and continue to work in pain that could be fixed with the surgery they're being denied until the pandemic passes.

It's been argued that the surgeons and clinic that performed the surgery weren't otherwise involved in the coronavirus response, so no resources were taken away from the crisis.  But the surgeons used latex gloves and face masks that are otherwise in critically short supply.  I don't know, but a ventilator might even have been there on standby in case the patient went into respiratory arrest.  And why weren't the high-priced L.A. surgeons  out on the front lines fighting the pandemic, anyway?  Couldn't they leave their BelAir homes and Beverly Hills clinics, roll up their sleeves (so to speak), and pitch in.  Hell, rock star Jon Bon Jovi was washing dishes in a soup kitchen last week.  Why couldn't the Surgeons To The Stars delay their high-priced services for a few months until the rest of the world had stabilized a little bit?

We all know the reason why.  Money.  Pure and simple.  Sale has the potential for another $40 to $50 million in salary if he can be back in shape whenever baseball resumes, and I'm sure the surgeons didn't exactly hurt themselves with the medical fees and charges earned during the procedure, not to mention the future referral opportunities as word gets out that they were the ones that fixed Chris Sale's arm.  With that kind of money on the line, it's easy to convince yourself that no, there's no conflict here, it's not elective, this is a perfectly ethical thing to do. To paraphrase Mark Twain, if your livelihood depends on you not understanding something, it won't be understood.

NBA players, sometimes whole teams, get covid tests even though they feel perfectly fine, while test kits and lab access are meanwhile in incredibly short supply in the rest of the country.  At the same time, their working-class fans are coughing up blood but are told they aren't eligible for testing as they're too young, or don't exhibit all of the other symptoms, or just fuck you, you're not getting the test, you blue-collar loser.    

Look, no one died because Chris Sale cut to the front of the line and got elective surgery at a time when others couldn't.  But no one was otherwise cured or treated, either, and no nurse or front-line medical services worker had access to the protective gear and clothing used during his procedure. 

What it is, though, is just another glaring example of the economic inequality in America, of how celebrity culture favors the rich and famous, and how if there's enough money to be made, greed takes over and ethics are given the back seat.

In closing, yesterday was also Chris Sale's birthday, so Happy Birthday, Chris!  You monster, you!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Doomed, I Tell You! Doomed!

Shelter-In-Place Involuntary Quarantine, Day 7:  Deep cleaned the kitchen today - floors, counter tops, stove, inside the microwave,  etc.  The task consumed a large percentage of my remaining paper towel supply, but once I got started there was no stopping and beside it was probably worth it.  Also, I finally completed the 2020 Census form.  

This covid-19 pandemic (the "Trump flu") is probably the biggest thing that’s happened in America since 9/11 and like 9/11, I don’t think things will ever be quite the same again. This will probably be the defining event of Millennial's young lives.

According to the best science I can find, right now Georgia has 10,500 hospital beds available.  That number is expected to increase to about 18,000 by mid-May as new emergency space is brought on line and hospital tents, etc. are built.

How long this will last depends entirely on how well people behave and observe social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. Even with three months of social distancing, it is expected that hospitals will become overloaded by April 20 (the City of Atlanta is already reporting that its ICU capacity has been exceeded).  Required hospitalizations will finally drop below capacity by the end of May, with peak crisis in mid-May when more than 92,000 required hospitalizations will far exceed the state’s capacity of about 18,000. The people in excess of 18,000 will have to be turned away and left to die, with a predicted total of 158,000 deaths.

If little or nothing is done, it will all be over sooner,  mainly because so many will have died first. The models predict that with only limited action, it is expect that hospitals will exceed capacity by April 9 and that 214,000 people will die in Georgia alone.  By early May, the number of survivors requiring hospitalization will finally drop below the hospital’s capacity and we'll be out of crisis mode, but at the cost of all those lives.

It’s grim. Despite Trump’s press briefings, there’s no sugar coating it.  Of course, there would be almost no deaths if we enforced three months of strict Wuhan-style lockdown, but that’s not going to happen (“muh freedoms,” “the stock market”).

Stay home and stay safe, folks.  Think about this: if you’re out and about and have a car accident, the hospitals are overloaded, overcrowded, under equipped, and understaffed. It’s almost like we all have no health insurance right now, because there’s no reliable health care system available. Pray that you don't have a stroke or a heart attack.

By the way, if you want to check out the old hard data yourself, my source is Coronavirus Act Now. For what it's worth, they recommend that to prevent hospital overload, Georgia must implement state-wide shelter-in-place measures between April 6th and April 11th at the latest. The sooner we act and the closer we adhere to the measures, the more lives we save. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

We're Doomed!

Shelter-In-Place Involuntary Quarantine, Day 6:  People in WEIRD countries tend to be individualists, while people in non-WEIRD countries tend to be collectivists.

In WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) countries, the rights of the individual are considered equal to if not greater than the needs of society as a whole.  "I have a right to own a handgun," it's thought in WEIRD countries, even if there's an on-going epidemic of gun violence.  "I have a right to free speech," even if that speech hurts others.  Society, in short, exists for our benefit, to help us reach our own goals and desires - otherwise, what's the point?

In non-WEIRD countries, a collectivist mentality holds that societal needs are greater than the needs of any one individual.  Collectivists feel that we need to share common resources, we need to make sacrifices as necessary for the greater good, and all glory goes not to our selves but to the nation or tribe or clan or whatever level at which the society is organized.  We exist, in short, for the betterment of our society - my success is measured by that of the larger whole.  

I'm not saying one is better than the other.  In my opinion, the "perfect" society balances a little of both.  Too much of one and we have anarchy, too much of the other and we have authoritarianism.

But right now, people, we could use a little more collectivism.  We've all seen the graph by now of how social distancing and self-quarantine can "flatten the curve" of this deadly pandemic sweeping across the globe.  Sure, it's a sacrifice, and might be uncomfortable and inconvenient for you, but without us collectively taking some action, the pandemic could kill  hundreds of thousands, millions by some estimates.  

Here in Atlanta, like so many other places, the mayor has issued a "shelter-in-place" order in an attempt to reduce the pressure on our overloaded hospitals and health-care system.  As of Friday, the city's ICU capacity was at its limit.  No more beds available for flu victims, or anyone unlucky enough to have a heart attack right now, or get shot, or get in a car accident.  But if we can break the chain of person-to-person transmission of the Trump flu by staying indoors and isolated for 14 days, the pandemic won't disappear, but the doctors and the hospitals can save many more lives and make fewer triage decisions about who gets a ventilator and who gets a bed and who doesn't.

Businesses are closed and non-essential shops are shuttered.  Most people are not at work, either with or without pay, and are told to stay inside, avoid contact, and if it's absolutely necessary to leave home (groceries, etc.), maintain a six-foot distance from others.  And wash your hands frequently and try to avoid touching your face.

The mayor closed all playgrounds and the parks are also closed, but so that people can have some exercise, allowed the Beltline to remain open.  Signs are conspicuously posted along the trail reminding people to remain six feet  away from others, which is difficult as most of the trail is only 14 feet wide.

Well, the good individualists of Atlanta aren't having any of that.  They are packing it in on the Beltline (the picture above was taken on the Eastside Trail on Saturday).  When I last walked the Northside section on Friday, there were plenty of people out walking in groups, clustered much closer than 6 feet apart.  Worse, the large groups were nearly impossible to pass - in either direction -  without violating the 6-foot rule.

A young man, shirtless, came running down the center of the trail, leaving an invisible trail of air-born sweat and an aerosol of droplets in his wake.  Groups of young men and women were sunning themselves on blankets spread out on the grass.  Others were playing frisbee or tossing tennis balls for their dogs.  Mothers watched as their children played on the swings and other playground equipment, ignoring the "Playground Closed" signs but taking advantage of the fact that there was no enforcement.  It can't be that bad if I can get away with it, right?

This is not sheltering in place.  This is not social distancing.  This is not flattening the curve.  This is how contagious diseases are spread, and the behavior I saw and that has been reported elsewhere in the press means that this pandemic is going to be around for a long while, and lots of people whose death could otherwise be avoided will die.

But staying inside is for other people.  You shouldn't have to stay indoors and should be able to go out strolling with your friends, shouldn't you?  You're special - you're a true individual!  

It gets worse. A Facebook friend posted a selfie of her outside in a lawn chair with the caption stating that she was out on a date but maintaining six-feet separation.  And she's a health professional!  She may (or may not) have maintained her distance for the duration of the date, and may (or may not) have avoided transmitting the Trump flu with that one person, but she's outside, touching lawn chairs, touching beverages, and sharing her personal microbiome with folks unknown, folks she may not even see.

This is not sheltering in place, etc.

Worse, someone even closer to me, someone I know and love, decided to enjoy the weekend by going out to Athens, Georgia, which is also in lockdown, to spend time with another couple there.  What is it about "stay inside, stay away from others" that people can't seem to understand?

People on the Nexdoor neighborhood app are all asking and giving each other advice on places still open that they can take their kids to,  setting up play dates for their children, and generally scheming on how to "beat" the shelter-in-place edict.  

Ha, ha, it's funny because they're all going to die, and their parents are going to die, and their children are going to die.  Fun-ney!

But at least they didn't have to be alone and still and quiet for a while and face the existential emptiness of their meaningless lives.  

We're doomed.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Dreaming of the Masters

Shelter-In-Place Involuntary Quarantine, Day 5:  For those of you keeping score at home, there are now 2,198 confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia and 65 deaths.   It's after the end of the world!  Don't you know that yet?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Daddy Has A Cough! What Do We Do, Kids?

Shelter-In-Place Involuntary Quarantine, Day 4: Not much unlike Day 3, or Day 2 for that matter.  Sunny day, high forecast at 87⁰.   I got a rare good night's sleep last night, lingered over morning coffee, had lunch, took my daily walk on the Beltline trail (3.5 miles today).  

Some people still don't get shelter-at-home.  The Beltline trail is open for walking, as long as social distancing is observed (stay 6 feet away from everyone else), but the playgrounds are closed.  All those metal surfaces on swings and jungle bars, all those children's hands touching the germy surfaces - nothing good can come of using those playgrounds right now.  There are signs up along the Beltline trail stating not to use the playgrounds but still, I saw kids on the swings and playing on see-saws, and their parents or guardians were there watching (but ignoring the signs).  I didn't intervene because I knew I couldn't stop them anyway and besides, social Darwinism?

Had a little dust-up with my former employer (for whom I'm still doing some at-home freelance work).  They want me to ride to a job site with them and do a walk-through and visual reconnaissance but I'm refusing, at least for now.  Nothing good could come of getting together in an enclosed car with three other guys and whatever viruses and germs they've picked up from others, going to the job site, signing in with security, meeting our site escort and walking around for the day. Residents are allowed to leave home for "essential business" during this shelter-at-home quarantine, but I don't think getting a jump-start on the next project qualifies as "essential business."  

I told them I would think about a visit after the 14-day shelter-in-place period is over, but even that depends on the status of the pandemic, CDC warnings, etc.  I've been getting the silent treatment from them the rest of the day, so all is good.

Ten more days to go.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Day 3

Shelter-In-Place Involuntary Quarantine, Day 3: Oh, no!  Not tested yet because so few test kits are available, but my daughter Britney has headaches, general fatigue, and is coughing up blood.  No fever, though.  She's almost sure it's coronavirus, and she works for CDC so she should know.

My friend Nick here in Atlanta reports headaches, general fatigue, respiratory congestion, no appetite, and nausea.  His wife felt the same way for a day or two, but recovered - he's still sick, though.  I don't really know all that many people, but just yesterday I learn that two of the few that I do know are probably covid positive.

Is this really the part when we all die?

Another perfect spring day today here in Atlanta, another walk on the Beltline.  3.3 miles today, 3.1 miles yesterday.  Walking helps relieve the tension and stress, and it's good to get a little exercise.

Today, in a normal world, I would be in Knoxville by now for the first day of the Big Ears festival. At this hour, about 8 p.m., I would have already seen Terry Riley's solo organ set at St. John's Cathedral by now and would be halfway through Patti Smith's Words & Music set.  But the festival was cancelled, like almost everything else these days.  I was able to get the cost of my four-day, full-access, VIP pass refunded, although I prepaid for my hotel stay and Live Wire is basically saying, "Tough luck, it was a non-refundable rate."  

And now, your moment of Zen:

"Is it me the raven  calls
From the world of shadows
This vernal morning?"
- Shukabo (died at the age of 58 in 1775)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day 2

Shelter-In-Place Involuntary Quarantine, Day 2:  Beautiful, sunny day today, temps in the high 60s/low 70s - a perfect spring day.  After two days of rain, I couldn't stay cooped up indoors any longer, so I took advantage of the exemption in the mayor's order that allows walks along the Beltline trail.  It was fairly crowded but at least along my stretch of the trail, the underdeveloped northwest portion, people were pretty good about complying with the social distancing rule of staying 6 feet apart from others.

Neighbors two houses down from me just put a "For Sale" sign up in front of their home.  I don't know anything about the circumstances, but I can't imagine a worse time to put a house on market than during a two-week "shelter-in-place" order.  I hope they're well.

Another neighbor a few doors further down was out tending to her yard.  We exchanged brief pleasantries from a distance, and assured each other that we were both healthy and fine.

I'm going to run out of paper towels before I run out of toilet paper.  The  sad thing is, you can substitute one for the other, but not the other way around.

I've been hearing the sound of children playing outside the past several days.  It's a cheerful, delightful sound, but different - children had been in school prior to the pandemic, and on weekends they were apparently involved in all their organized activities (sports, lessons, or wherever it is parents take their kids these days), so I didn't much see or hear from them.   But with schools closed down and extra-curriculars deemed "non-essential," the kids have been making do by playing out on the street.  Again, it's not only fine but something I enjoy hearing.  Really. 

Twelve more days to go.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Atlanta Shuts Down for Covid

I knew it would happen - on Day 10 of my self-imposed quarantine, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announces a 14-day shelter-in-place order, effectively quarantining the entire city for two weeks.  The executive order took effect at midnight last night and will last until April 7.  My 10 days of isolation will be 24 days, at least, before this is all over.

Individuals can leave the house only for essential activities, including grocery shopping, pharmacy visits, etc.  City parks and the Beltline trail will remain open, but people are advised to maintain social distancing measures, including staying at least 6 feet away from others.  

Publix supermarket announced special 7-8 a.m. hours for seniors only to shop without crowds of potentially infected people and while the stores are freshly cleaned and the aisles stocked.  I went this morning, and even though I got there right at 7 sharp, there was no toilet paper, no soaps or disinfectant products, and no fresh meat.  I'm still well enough stocked to make it through the next two weeks even if I don't return to the market again, especially after this morning's shopping, but can imagine others getting panicked about bare pantries and empty shelves.

Here are some pictures I found on line (not my photography) of Atlanta in shut-down mode.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Notes From the Pandemic

Millions of people across the country are under order to stay at home. The economy is collapsing and many who don't do the kind of work that can be done from home are losing their jobs.  And along with their jobs, they're losing their health insurance, just when they need it the most.  This is one reason why coupling health care with employer-provided for-profit health insurance is such a bad idea.

And those that don't do the kind of work that can be done at home turn out to be the very heroes that may save us from this pandemic.  The truck drivers, the people who stock the grocery shelves, the farmers, the utility workers and city services, the nurses and the medial technicians are actually the ones preventing civilization from collapsing.  Politicians, bankers, and pundits aren't helping things at all.

On Saturday, The New York Times ran an editorial condemning Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler and North Carolina's Bill Burr over their insider trading.  "On the very day of the (Health) committee’s coronavirus briefing," they write, "(Loeffler) began her own stock sell-off, as originally reported by The Daily Beast. Over the next three weeks, she shed between $1,275,000 and $3.1 million worth of stock, much of it jointly owned with her husband, who is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. Of Ms. Loeffler’s 29 transactions, 27 were sales. One of her two purchases was of a technology company that provides teleworking software. That stock has appreciated in recent weeks, as so many companies have ordered employees to work from home."

The Times further notes that even as she was shedding shares, Ms. Loeffler was talking down the threat of the coronavirus. "Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on Coronavirus readiness," she tweeted on Feb. 28, assuring the public that the president and his team "are doing a great job working to keep Americans healthy & safe.”  And even as anxiety spread, she talked up the economy. "Concerned about the #coronavirus?" she tweeted on March 10. "Remember this: The consumer is strong, the economy is strong & jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle #COVID19 & keep Americans safe.”

"There may, of course, be perfectly reasonable explanations for what, initially, appears to be illegal — and morally reprehensible — behavior," the Times rationalizes.  "Mr. Burr and Ms. Loeffler deserve the opportunity to provide those explanations. The Senate should initiate an ethics investigation of all accusations, and, if warranted, refer relevant findings for criminal prosecution."

The real scandal here, the Times concludes, is the way in which these public servants misled an already anxious and confused public. "In times of crisis," they write, "the American people need leaders who will rise to the occasion, not sink to their own mercenary interests."

Mercenary interests: Ten years ago, Loeffler and her CEO husband bought a 15,000-square-foot mansion (ideal for social distancing!) named Descante on Tuxedo Road in Buckhead for $10.5 million, which was the most expensive real estate transaction ever in Atlanta.  Modeled in the style of an old European estate, Descante is a stucco, steel, and limestone structure that boasts Versailles parquet in the dining room, a library with a secret passage to the living room, and a nineteenth-century pool house from France.

We need more cooks, garbagemen, telephone linemen, ambulance drivers, and security guards to save America.  Politicians rarely do any good for anyone (except themselves).

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Crisis Du Jour

It turned out not to be that big a deal, but just when I think March 2020 can't get any worse, what with the global Trump flu pandemic, the economy in free fall, no sports, and a full one-fifth of the nation under mandatory lockdown, this morning the power goes out.

It's bad enough that I'm under self-imposed quarantine (today's Day 9) and that I'm going through this solo - the equivalent of home solitary confinement - but at least I have television and the internet as my companions.  Or at least I did until 8:07 a.m..  

I was awake, snoozing through the clock radio's NPR morning news broadcast, when suddenly the radio stopped and the heat cut off.  I knew instantly that it was - I'm grown accustomed to it.  The power  was out again, and it wasn't even raining.  

Looking out the front door, I didn't see any trees down.  No power company trucks.  On my phone, the Georgia Power website didn't give any indication there was a problem in the area until I filled out the Report A Power Outage form, and then suddenly it popped up - over 1,000 homes in the area were in the dark.

I went back to sleep (what else was there to do?) and just as I got up again a little after 9:00, the power came back on.  See?  I said it was no big deal.

But that one hour . . . wondering if response time would be delayed because of personnel shortages at the utility due to the pandemic.  Thinking what a day alone in self quarantine would be like without electricity, without the radio, without television, without the internet, without lights.  Oh my god - without coffee!

But the lights came on and everything's fine.  It's as if the power company was just reminding us who was really in charge of things around here.

Okay. What fresh hell do we have next?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Dreaming of the Masters

Fiery saxophonist and living legend Archie Shepp wasn't all incendiary solos and free-jazz freak outs.  To calm everyone down and soothe frayed nerves during this Trump flu pandemic, here's the soulful and melodic Down In Brazil, the closing track from Shepp's 1975 LP, There's A Trumpet In My Soul, featuring Bill Willingham on vocals.  

In my college years, I often played this record late a night and would fell asleep while this song was playing on the turntable.  

Friday, March 20, 2020

Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) Is A Piece of Shit

Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, it should be remembered, cheated his way into office by continuing to act as Secretary of State while running in the very election his office was in charge of supervising.  As Secretary of State, it should be remembered, Republican candidate Brian Kemp nullified the registrations of thousands of voters, mostly black and Latinx, while he was running against a woman of color (the formidable candidate Stacey Abrams) for governor.  Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, it should be remembered, ran a campaign ad where he pointed a shotgun at a teenage boy. Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, it should be remembered, ran a campaign ad where he said he may have to use his pickup truck to round up "illegals" on his own.  Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, it should be remembered, campaigned as the "trumpiest" candidate in the race, as Georgia's home-grown version of the Donald.

So many of us were surprised when, after Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson's abrupt resignation due to health reasons, Republican Governor Brian Kemp didn't appoint Trump's preferred replacement, Rep. Doug Collins, and instead appointed a relative unknown, Kelly Loeffler.  Few Republicans, governors or otherwise, go against Trump's wishes, and Kemp, the "trumpiest" of candidates in the gubernatorial election, is one of the last persons you'd expect to go against our so-called president's directives.  What I'm saying is he's no Mitt Romney.  He was taking a huge political risk, so getting Loeffler into the Senate must have been very, very important to him.

And now Kelly Loeffler is being accused of insider trading. After a closed-door meeting when Senators were first advised of the potential health and economic impacts of the Trump flu pandemic, she sold millions of dollars of stocks, and invested in on-line telecommunications.  She claims that the two events are unrelated and she sold the stocks merely at the advise of her financial planners.

Riiiight.  Give us a break, Loeffler. She is a sitting U.S. Senator (for now) and her husband is the CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange and a chairman at the New York Stock Exchange.  People like that don't just blindly allow "third-party" investors to handle their financial portfolio. The advisers and brokers may execute trades on their behalf and they might provide some advice, but it's always a negotiation.  If you think the way the world works is chairmen of the Stock Exchange and U.S. Senators let financial advisers dictate what to buy and what to sell and not the other way around, well, bless your heart but I'm sorry to tell you, you're probably poor.  

Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) did the same thing and is also in hot water, but I'll let the good people of the Tarheel State deal with their own.  I'm here to kick some Georgia butt.  

I'm retired and am reliant on my stock-based IRA to keep me solvent through my golden years.  I don't have the privilege of closed-door briefings on upcoming events to tell me what to divest and what to acquire, and in just the past two weeks, I've lost a lot of money which may or may not come back. I may or may  not be able to live in my own home years from now; I may or may not be able  to afford groceries and other essentials if my IRA doesn't recover.  It's a very real, existential issue to me.  A system that allows the rich and powerful to profit from insider information while others lose their life savings is the very definition of corruption.  

I've often wondered if the many crises of the Trump presidency, mostly self-created, are just a redistribution of wealth from the remains of the middle class to the very rich.  Every time there's a crisis - Trump leads us to the brink of war with Iran, Trump starts a needless trade war with China, etc. -  stocks tumble and my portfolio loses value, but the already wealthy and the inside traders get richer.    It's a reverse Robin Hood - robbing the poor to benefit the rich.

Fuck Donald Trump, and fuck Bill Burr, and mostly, because I get to vote her white ass out of office, fuck Kelly Loeffler. 

As Karl Marx once said, "We'll hang the last capitalists with the rope they just sold us."

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cat World

It's the first day of spring - the vernal equinox.  Day and night are of the exact same length, balanced, in equipoise.  The equinox holds the promise of warmer temperatures and better times ahead.

To be frank, winter 2020 sucked.  It started here in Georgia with incessant, non-stop rain, the ceiling started leaking and I had to replace my roof, and then the CV pandemic kicked in and the economy crashed.  Other than that, though, it's been a delightful winter.

But I don't want to bellyache about the rain or the flu today.  Locked up as I am in "social distancing" self-quarantine, I'm reminded that although I think that this pile of bricks on a hill is my home, I'm reminded during this self-imposed isolation that it's really Cat World and I'm just living in it.

My two companions during this quarantine are two cats and as I watch them, I realize that they aren't concerned at all about the rain outside or the cost of a roof replacement (although the noise of the roof replacement was a pretty big deal to them).  They're blissfully ignorant of the Trump Flu pandemic.

But there are things going on in Cat World that I can barely comprehend.  For several months now, one cat, Izzy, would not go into my bedroom no matter what.  Sometimes, if he wanted something while I was in there, he would sit and wait patiently at the door for me, but he wouldn't come in.  The other cat, Eliot, had no problem with entering the bedroom - in fact, at nights I have to close the door to keep him out.  

But for some reason, there was some Cat World rule that Eliot and Eliot only could enter the bedroom, but Izzy was forbidden.  I have no idea why.  If I picked Izzy up and carried him into the bedroom, he wouldn't freak out or protest, but as soon as I put him down and let him go, he would dart right out.

And then the roof replacement started.  The noise, the strange human voices, and pounding and the thumping on the roof, terrorized the cats.  Eliot put up with it but was clearly distressed and unhappy, but Izzy would have nothing to do with it.  He darted for cover, first behind the sofa and then, as a refuge of last resort, into the bedroom and under the bed.

It took a roof replacement to get him in there, but once there, he apparently realized that whatever it was that had made him stay out wasn't such a big deal after all - there was no boogy-dog in the closet waiting to eat him.  He finally came out from under the bed after the roofers left, but ever since then, he's had no fear of entering the bedroom any more.  He now comes in every morning when I get up and open the door, and he's even spent some sleepy afternoons on the bed.

That's  just one example of Cat World rules and issues that I don't comprehend.  But here comes the biggie.  

As everyone knows, with the panic buying over covid-19, the supermarkets have been stripped clean, especially of toilet paper.  I didn't hoard - I didn't get the chance to, the stock was already gone before it even occurred to me - but I was reasonably well set with at least a six- to eight-week supply, maybe longer, already in place.

Enter Cat World.  This being the absolute worse time they could have gotten it into their heads, one of the cats (I suspect Izzy - it's so like him to do something like this), figured out how to open the cabinet beneath the bathroom sink and discovered my TP supply.  Examining the goods, he also discovered the joy of shredding the  toilet paper, and he completely destroyed at least a half-dozen rolls of precious, irreplaceable  toilet paper.  I didn't even realize this had happened until I reached into the cabinet for a replacement roll and found instead a big huge pile of shredded paper.  

Normally, it wouldn't be that big a deal - they've shredded far worse (like my $4,000 Pottery Barn sofa).  But of all the times for the cats to decide that toilet paper might make a good toy with which to sharpen their claws, why now, when replacement stocks are probably a good four weeks off?

Despite their best intentions, I still have enough rolls to last me (and only me) through a 14- to 21-day quarantine, but after that, I'll have to use Kleenex tissues.  When that runs out, strips of magazine paper (where are newspapers when you need them?).  

If that doesn't work, I swear to god, I'm going to use a 14-pound grey-and-white cat to wipe my butt. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

This is serious.

Unlike other viruses, but like SARS and the swine flu, the covid-19 coronavirus is a new virus and there is no human immunity to it.  There is no vaccine yet and we’re a year off, at best, from one being available.  This virus has a higher mortality rate than most other viruses, particularly for the aged and those with underlying conditions.  Finally, it is highly contagious – not as bad as measles, but worse than most other flus.    

The last time a new virus emerged with similar properties and under similar conditions was the Spanish Influenza of 1918, and somewhere between 17 and 50 million people died.  

Without a vaccine and without more knowledge, the only thing we can do is try and mitigate the damage though quarantine, breaking the person-to-person chain of exposure.  The U.S. isn’t set up to enforce martial law and shut down entire cities or states like they did in China and thank goodness for that, so the best we can do is subscribe to voluntary “social distancing,” enforced to some degree by mandatory closings of non-essential businesses (restaurants, bars, etc.).

In particular, those who live with elderly relatives should avoid going out and and potentially bringing the virus back into the house.  Just because one can still get an appointment with a hairdresser or a tax preparer doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go, or safe to do so.  The virus could be on any hard surface at any of those places – desktops, pens, armrests, doorknobs, etc.  Any person who came through there, much less the workers, may have left the virus at those places for one to pick up and bring back home, potentially infecting their elderly relatives.  

Not only that, but its hard to convince the elderly to stay inside and self-quarantine.  If one tries to tell them not to go to Walmart as one is on their way out the door for their own appointments, you can't blame the elderly for not taking it seriously.  

This virus has a particularly long period between infection and symptoms – even if one feel fine now, one could  still be carrying the virus and infecting others with it.  A friend said that we should all just assume that we already have the virus and not act as if we’re trying to avoid catching it but act as if we were trying to avoid spreading it.

One could think of it as patriotism – the so-called "president" and his Coronavirus Task Force are calling for Americans to self-quarantine.  In today’s press conference, Trump compared voluntary social distancing to the sacrifices an earlier generation made during WWII.  Yes, one can go out as absolutely essential for food supplies or medical emergencies, but that's about it.  

If we wait until there’s a mandatory shut-down, it’ll already be too late and it will be just like 1918 all over again, and so many people will unnecessarily die.  

Please be well, wash your hands, and stay inside.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse

For years now, Americans have been hearing about foreign diseases and epidemics and have received dire warnings about those diseases and epidemics.  But by and large, those illnesses didn't come to our shores, or did so in only limited numbers.  Zika, Ebola, SARS and other viruses didn't really affect most Americans, and we became complacent and assumed that we were protected by two great oceans that would somehow continue to keep global epidemics away.  

The Buddha once taught that there were four types of horses. The first is startled on seeing the shadow of the rider's crop, and thereafter follows the wish of its rider.   The second is startled when the crop touches its hair, and thereafter follows the wish of its rider.  The third is startled only after the crop touches its flesh.  The fourth is awakened only after the touch of the riding crop is felt down to its bones.

The Buddha explained that the first horse is like the person who hears about the death of someone in a distant land and immediately seeks solace in spiritual matters.  The next horse is like the person who hears of the death of someone within their own community and only then seeks solace in spiritual matters.  The third horse is like the person who has to hear of the death of someone near and dear to them before they seek solace in spiritual matters.  The fourth horse is like the person who doesn't seek comfort in spiritual matters until their own body experiences sickness and suffering.  

To put this into the current situation, the first horse is like the person who hears about sickness, disease and epidemics in distant lands and feels compassion and empathy for those affected.  The second horse is like the person who hears about sickness, disease and epidemics in their own nation, and only then feels compassion and empathy for their fellow citizens.   The third horse is like a person who has to hear that someone in their own family has contracted a sickness or disease before they feel any compassion and empathy.  The fourth horse is like the person who doesn't feel compassion or empathy until they themselves experiences sickness and suffering.

Judging by the media and the comments that I see on line, most Americans in these days of Covid-19, the coronavirus, are like the fourth horse. 

Seriously, wash your hands.  Be kind to each other and animals, and don't use riding crops on horses, okay?

Monday, March 16, 2020

When The World Is Sick

The latest data released Monday from the Georgia Department of Public Health states that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia is now 122, a 22% increase from Sunday’s 99.

The first case of coronavirus was reported today in Greenland. Greenland, people.  And for some reason, there are still no reported cases in the state of West Virginia, the only state in the U.S. without a reported case.  Fun fact:  apparently, dogs are immune to Covid-19.  At least, I think it's a fact, but I read it on the internet so who knows?  Also, what kind of monster tries to give a dog Covid-19 in the first place?  Lab mice are also immune, and that's slowing down research as scientists are having to breed and genetically engineer new strains of mice for coronavirus testing.

This morning, I rescheduled a cleaning appointment I had for later this week with my dental hygienist to mid-May, and I also postponed an appointment with my tax preparer.  I'll file for an extension and take care of the taxes sometime this summer when hopefully this pandemic will have blown over.

The song in the video above is by Silver Mount Zion, or more fully, Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band.  The band consists of members of the post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor.  The images are pretty much random pictures that found a home somewhere on my hard drive.

The mournful, repeated stanza is the closing section of a much longer song, God Bless Our Dead Marines, and has been going through my mind for days now.  I felt obligated to share it with y'all, but didn't want to ask you to sit through the entire song just for the part I wanted you to hear.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Aftermath

We will survive this and in the best-case scenario, the United States will emerge as a better country than we were before.

One day back on 1996, when the Olympics were in Atlanta, we stopped at the local Kroger’s supermarket on our way to the games.  A tour bus was parked outside and the driver, an elderly gentleman of color, told us that if we saw any Russians inside to tell them that they had to leave NOW, the bus was already late for the next event. “They trick me every time,” he said. “They tell me they will only be a few minutes but once inside, they stay for hours.”

“They’re gonna make me lose my job,” he said.

Once we were inside, we couldn’t help but notice several old pasty-faced couples in humble, raggedy clothes just walking up and down the supermarket aisles looking at all the groceries on the shelves. They were amazed, and that’s when I realized that those were the hard, lean, pre-Putin years in Russia and they simply had no conception of the abundance and diversity of shopping choices in capitalist America. The cheeses, the breads, the pre-made meals, the desserts and ice cream, cleaning goods and hair-care products - just looking at all the overflowing shelves was more entertaining to them than the Olympic Games.

I always took it for granted, the abundance and diversity of shopping choices, limited only by how much I was willing and able to pay.  Empty shelves and limited choices seemed third-world or iron curtain problems, not something we experienced here in America.

I think about this now only because yesterday, when the coronavirus panic finally hit Atlanta, the stores suddenly had no more toilet paper, or fresh meat, canned beans, pasta, and or course, no hand sanitizer or soap.  A friend of mine here in Atlanta posted this picture to her Facebook page:

Unfortunately, it appears all but inevitable that many people will die as the virus plays out across the land - that's the sad, undeniable truth of the matter.  Not to sound callous about it, but on a large enough time scale, we're all going to die eventually anyway.  But it looks like many of us, the vast, overwhelming majority of us, will survive this pandemic, and what will life be like on the other side?

As a nation, the U.S. got just the briefest of glimpses over the edge and into the abyss of what life might be like without wealth, without privilege, and without a social infrastructure of support.  Might this result in a tad more empathy for the plight of the homeless and the immigrant, the refugee and the disadvantaged?

This will all be over in a few weeks and we’ll come out of this a better, stronger country, I believe. That which does not kill you makes you stronger, etc., plus as a nation I think a little adversity will do us good. Remind us of our own mortality, so that we can appreciate life a little more while we still have it.  

When it’s over, we’ll be sharing stories for years of Good Samaritans, people sharing food and stuff (even toilet paper) with neighbors in need, acts of random kindness and bravery, and American ingenuity and generosity.  Some others will have exhibited bad personality traits during the crisis, hoarding resources, price gouging, and exploiting the unprepared and the gullible.  We’ll shame the greedy, the hoarders, and the exploiters, and sing songs praising the generous, the helpful and the empathetic.

I may be wrong (I’m ever the optimist), and perhaps the one with the most toilet paper will become our next king. Maybe we’ll come out of this even crueler and meaner and more adversarial than before, but I hope not.

Could the health scare finally awaken people to the fact that human health is a shared, mutual commodity, that we're all in this together, and that health care should be available to all, not just the fortunately employed  and the wealthy? 

Could this be the event that turns us around from a nation of rugged individualists, each looking out for our own Number 1,  dogs eating dogs, and transforms us into a more collectivist society with the knowledge that the benefit of the many is the only way to sustain the success of the few?

Probably not.  But I do believe that on the meter of the national zeitgeist, the needle will deflect to some degree or another away from greed, hatred and ignorance and toward compassion and mutual cooperation and the angels of our better nature will emerge.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dreaming of the Masters

In these times of a global coronavirus pandemic, a crashed stock market, empty supermarket shelves, a president mentally breaking down before our eyes on live television, and non-stop incessant rain and flooding in the deep south, what this weary nation needs right now is witch doctor Archie Shepp and the magic of ju-ju  to turn things around.  Put this song on repeat, play it loud, and keep it going until the sun breaks through, the viruses are inactive, everyone has toilet paper, and the president vanishes.

Recorded in 1968, Archie Shepp's fiery tenor saxophone is backed on this track by drummers Norman Connors and Beaver Harris, Frank Charles on talking drum, Ed Blackwell on rhythm logs, and Dennis Charles on other  percussion.  The bassist is Reggie Workman.  The trumpet and trombone at the end are by Martin Banks and Mike Zwerin.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday the 13th

Of course it is.  How could we have not seen this coming?

I'm pretty well stocked on food and groceries, but I still needed kitty litter and cat food in case we get locked down by the authorities.  I thought I'd be smart this morning and hit the supermarket early to avoid the crowds stocking up for the weekend.  I was wrong - at 10:30, the parking lot was near capacity and the store was packed.  The entire toilet paper aisle was completely empty, there was no ground beef or other meat in the coolers, the soap and disinfectant shelves were pretty thoroughly picked through, and there was no more water.  

Even worse, everyone was in panic mode, rudely cutting each other off along the aisles as if they were on a Black Friday shopping spree and this was the last Walmart on earth.  As I was placing my groceries on the conveyor belt at the cashier, the "gentleman" behind me started loading his groceries before I was done so that there was no more room for mine on the belt.  When I looked back at him wistfully in silent protest, he coughed with his mouth open, not even attempting to cover his mouth with his sleeve.  

"You should be staying at  home, sir" I said, curtly.  He replied, "Sure, whatever you say, bro."  I terminated the exchange before it escalated any further, or before he had more chances to infect me.

Home, I showered immediately and have washed my hands at least three times with three different hand  soaps.

Natuarally, the rain is still continuing.  By now, and I mean this literally, all that they're forecasting from here on in is rain and more rain - eternal, endless, unceasing rain, rain that never stops.

The so-called "president" gave  a speech about the coronavirus earlier this week, and the stock market responded with the biggest collapse since the crash of 1987.  He's scheduled to speak again this afternoon - I shudder to think what might come in the aftermath of a second address on the Friday the 13th of March.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Notes From The Year of the Plague

The first COVID-19 death in Georgia was announced today.  Republican Gov. Brian Kemp (who, it should be remembered, as Secretary of State cheated and stole the gubernatorial election from Stacey Abrams) said the victim was a 67-year-old Cobb County man who also had “underlying medical conditions.”

As of today, Georgia has 31 confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus, but without widespread testing, no one really knows the total number.  Add to that the fact that many people will only experience mild, flu-like symptoms and may not even seek medical attention, and you realize the pandemic may be much more wide-spread than anyone realizes.  And  since nobody really knows how many people are actually affected, no one knows the real mortality rate. 

Test kits are still not widely available and our so-called president seems more concerned about the effects of the pandemic on the stock market and his re-election prospects than he does about the health of the American people.  At a time when the nation desperately needs someone they can trust to give them reliable information and hope, Trump's malignant narcissism couldn't be more obvious or distressing. 

Trump appeared visibly uncomfortable reading off the teleprompter in his Oval Office speech yesterday.  He announced, among other things, that his Administration has struck a deal  with the health insurance industry so that all co-pays for testing and treating coronavirus will be waived. On the surface, that sounds like a good thing but insurance industry spokespeople were quick to correct the record and say that actually co-pays would only be waived for testing, not for treatment - you're still on the hook for co-pays on that.  And since testing is not available anyway, they're graciously waiving fees on a service you're not likely to get in the first place.  So, in short, the "art of the deal" guy got absolutely nothing from the insurers.  I wonder what they got in concession for their offer from him? 

The NBA has suspended its season and the NCAA announced today that it is cancelling the men's and women's basketball tournament, aka, March Madness.  Minor League Baseball is expected to announce suspension of the season any day now.

The University of Georgia and Atlanta Public Schools are closed.  State workers were ordered to telecommute and work from home.  

I haven't left the house in three days, although its been the incessant rain and soggy weather that's kept me i as much as contagion fears.  I have enough pasta, rice, and beans to last two weeks if necessary, although I wouldn't look forward to that diet.  If anything drives me to the market, it will be kitty litter and cat food - I forgot to stock up on that and you try explaining to two hungry cats why they won't be eating or pooping in a clean box.

At this point, I'm resigned that we're all going to eventually come down with the coronavirus - the majority of the population will eventually become infected.  The only question is will we experience "mild, flu-like symptoms" or will we be on the unfortunate end of the bell-shaped curve?

The end is high.  There is no cure and our leaders are corrupt and inept.  We are doomed.

Go wash your hands.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

No Anthony Braxton. No Patti Smith.  No Terry Riley and no Damo Suzuki.

At least not for me.  At least not this year.

I was really rather expecting this, what with SXSW and Coachella already cancelling or rescheduling, but today the organizers behind Knoxville's Big Ears formally announced the cancellation of this year's festival due to coronavirus concerns.

Unlike the other festivals, Big Ears is going the class route and offering ticket holders full refunds. The other festivals are either saying "tough luck," or offering to credit the ticket price toward future events, but I should get all the money I spent on the VIP-level "Sonic  Explorer" pass back.

The hotel (which was even more expensive) is a little dicier.  I paid in advance, and Hyatt has already announced that they will not be refunding pre-paid cancellations, even if due to coronavirus.  Instead, they will be offering 10,000 "World of Hyatt Bonus Points" in lieu of a stay.  I have no idea what 10,000 WoH BPs gets you.  Four free night stays, the same as I had paid for, at some other Hyatt in the future?  Complimentary beverage service?  Subscription to their in-house magazine?  

It's sad that the festival was cancelled, but it's the responsible thing to do.  Nothing good could have come from bringing that many people from so many locations together at the peak of the pandemic.

Now, go wash your hands.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Krog Street Tunnel, March 10, 2020

For the uninitiated and for the uninformed, Atlanta's Krog Street tunnel is an underpass that for some reason has become not only a gallery for urban graffiti, but also an important message board for the underground.

Seriously, wash your hands.  Now.

Monday, March 09, 2020

And Now It's 11 (and About to Explode)

I wake up this morning.  It's not raining (strange), so hooray for that.  I check the forecast for the day on my phone and see the rain's about to start in an hour, and will last all week and maybe even until next Wednesday.  

Do I hang myself now or wait for the cabin fever to get me first? 

Of course, if I were to go outside, I'd have to worry not about cabin fever but coronavirus fever getting me.   Four more cases of apparent, presumed covid-19 have been reported here in Georgia, bringing the total up to 11.  And a busload of passengers from the infected Grand Princess cruise ship is heading this way, with at least 34 people from here in Georgia and now, it's been announced, more people from other states as well because why not?

Then, just when I think it couldn't get any worse, this news bomb drops:

An undisclosed teacher at an undisclosed Fulton County school has been confirmed with coronavirus, so the entire school system is now closing down tomorrow, at least for the day.  Since it's almost impossible to keep school-age children home for long, soon they'll be out, on the streets, in the parks, and at the shopping centers, spreading the infection further.

The number of infected persons in Georgia is about to explode.  I heard an epidemiologist on NPR explain that once you hear about the first fatality, that means there's at least 1,000 people already infected.  With a 2 to 4% mortality rate, if one person dies that means that at the very least around 100 more people have the illness.  And as it takes a couple of weeks to manifest and to cause a fatality, that means it's been out there multiplying for those weeks and the 100 cases could have increased to 800 to 1,000 cases.  Fortunately, there haven't been any fatalities in Georgia yet, as far as I know, but I wouldn't be at all surprise if by the end of the week the number isn't up to 1,000 or more.

Several conventions and events have already been cancelled and several bands have cancelled their tours due to coronavirus concerns. Austin, Texas' massive South By Southwest music and technology festival has been cancelled, and petitions are circulating for and against closing Coachella down next month.  

Today, the Big Ears festival in Knoxville, Tennessee released the following announcement:
We have received some inquiries about the potential impact of coronavirus, specifically COVID-19, on the Big Ears Festival, and we want to assure you that we are monitoring the situation closely. 
With opening day for Big Ears still two and a half weeks from now, we are continuing with our preparation and planning to produce the festival as scheduled. 
The safety of festival attendees is our top priority and we will make prudent and thoughtful decisions as the situation develops.  We will, of course, follow the guidance of health professionals and public officials.  We believe that all decisions related to producing the festival should be rooted in facts, not fear.  
None of our festival attendees - according to our ticketing data - are traveling from countries where there are travel restrictions in place. We also know of no plans to cancel any of the public events scheduled throughout our region - theme park openings, arena concerts, sporting events of all kinds, and other concerts.  
The standard industry policy is that tickets are not refundable unless an event is canceled. However, we recognize that this is an exceptional situation, and we do not want any one taking risks that would endanger their own health or that of others, so we will be discussing how we might modify this policy appropriately in the next few days. 
We will of course be continuing to watch the situation as it develops and will certainly keep you informed of any significant changes that may occur. We appreciate your patience and understanding - and we wish everyone the very best in these difficult times.
I'm not reassured by the tone of this message.  The promoters obviously have a lot of money tied up in the event, and may not recover much of  their investment from insurance if they decide to cancel the event themselves.  They need to have the event ordered closed by the authorities - it was the Mayor of Austin who ordered SXSW shut down.  

But the Big Ears promoters are trying to reassure us that as far as they know, no attendees will be coming from countries that currently have travel restrictions in place. But that list of countries is growing, and besides, there's no way the promoters could know where every attendee has traveled to in the past month - maybe a ticket holder from NYC was at a fashion show in Milan last month. They also seem to be content with leading from the rear - we won't shut the festival down until every theme park (cough, Dollywood, cough), arena show and "other concerts," and sporting events "of all kinds" have cancelled first.  

I do hope the show goes on and I will attend if it does, but I hope they make their mind up soon, as it's difficult to get a refund from a hotel with less than a week's notice of cancellation, and I've got a lot of money reserved for my stay in Knoxville.

On a happier note, while looking for info about Big Ears' status on their web site today, I just noticed that Jaimie Branch, whom I recently called "an exciting new voice in modern jazz," will be playing this year (if the show does indeed go on).   I said that it's literally been decades since I've been this excited about a new voice in jazz music, and if it means that I have to go brave a global pandemic in order to hear her perform, then this pic will be me at this year's Big Ears festival:

Sunday, March 08, 2020

And Then There Were Seven

Another collection of pictures lifted from the r/Atlanta sub-Reddit to remind myself what a lovely city I live in.

Just last Friday, I was saying that there were only two cases of coronavirus here in Georgia - the father and son of a family that just returned from a trip to Milan.  They managed to shut down two separate schools in Cherokee County by sending their kids to classes there despite the illness in their family, but so far there have been no reported cases of transmission by that inconsiderate clan.

But since Friday's post, another, separate case of coronavirus was reported here in Fulton County by another, unrelated person just back from a trip to Italy.  And then there were reports of another two cases, unrelated to the other three, of covid-19 here in Georgia, bringing the total to five.  The source of these two cases is still unknown, and suggests that the number of cases is so low in Georgia more due to a lack of testing than to anything else.  As test kits become available, the number is sure to skyrocket.

But wait, there's more!  According to the news today, there are now an additional two "unconfirmed" cases of "probable" coronavirus in Georgia.   That's now seven for those of you keeping score at home.  For those of you self-quarantining from the social isolation of your panic rooms.

It was also reported today that 34 of the passengers quarantined on the ill-fated Grand Princess cruise ship are native Georgians and will be returning here tomorrow or Tuesday.  They will be kept for further quarantine at Dobbins Air Force Base, about 20 miles northwest of here, until testing can determine who is infected and who is healthy.  

Today is the first day of Daylight Savings Time, which means that we gain an additional hour of rain.  Actually, we've had three sunny days here in a row now, following the first four rainy days of the month.  However, the current forecast is for eight days of rain starting Tuesday. At least I finally got that new roof installed.

But weeds flourish and flowers fade.  At least I still get to live, and to live in such a beautiful city at that.