Archive for the ‘Restrictions’ Category

Service of Who Would Have Thought

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Photo: ewastedisposal.net

Facts can tell an unexpected story.  Some balk at facing them while others are surprised by them.

Who’d have thought that the incidence of coronavirus infection would ever be lower in New York City than in other parts of the country or that in spite of the unfortunate dramatic increase in customers that the funeral business would be unprofitable?

Even though we’re sick of wearing masks and social distancing the facts suggest we must and that even though more and more states are loosening their restrictions on businesses, we’ve not yet closed the door on the virus.

Is Anyone Listening? Don’t Spoil it Now

Photo: livescience.com

The threat of Covid-19 isn’t nearly over but too many people in my neighborhood, three days after NYC opened just a crack in Phase 1, act as though it is. I’m unhappily surprised.

I was in awe, in the thick of it, at how many New Yorkers followed recommendations of the CDC. Most wore masks and kept their distance for months. We are told that’s why we are in such good shape earlier than hoped for.

The sudden behavior reversal I witnessed isn’t promising based on other states that have loosened their pandemic belts. Oliver Milman wrote on June 9 in The Guardian: “A total of 14 states and the US territory of Puerto Rico have recorded their worst week yet for new coronavirus infections, with Texas hitting a record high in Covid-19 hospitalizations, all while restrictions to curb the pandemic are being relaxed across America.

“According to data tracked by the Washington Post, since the start of June……..the states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.”

The Governor of Arizona, a state that Milman reported showed “one of the largest jumps in the country,” attributed it to more testing.

He wrote: “As states in the north-east experience drops in new cases, states across the south and California are seeing increases even as they loosen social distancing rules designed to prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus.”

Photo: concordmonitor.com

Kids will be kids is no longer acceptable when the outcome is potentially deadly. “Point Pleasant Beach was ‘treated like an absolute toilet,’ mayor says after thousands gather for pop-up party” Anthony G. Attrino wrote on nj.com. “Mayor Paul Kanitra took to Facebook on Wednesday and said the youthful partiers left ‘trash everywhere,’ drank alcohol and smoked marijuana in public, changed clothes in residents’ yards and were seen ‘urinating in bushes.’” On WOR 710 radio this morning the Mayor said that masks were not part of the scene. In 14 days we’ll see the result.

Too Much Business Doesn’t Translate to Profits

In light of brisk business due to Covid-19 deaths alone you’d think that funeral parlors would be doing very well. Because cremation–which costs less than a burial at graveside–and the elimination of wakes during the pandemic, the opposite is true.

Barbara Kemmis, executive director of the Cremation Association of North America told USA Today:  “More people are choosing cremation because they can’t have a funeral.” Kemmis told Bloomberg News: ” The rate of cremations now may be as high as 80% in some parts of the country where they’ve historically been less than 50%.

Jef Feeley of Bloomberg News wrote: “The viciousness of covid-19, with the U.S. death toll topping 100,000, is upending cherished traditions in the $16.3 billion funeral industry. Services where hundreds once mourned now offer a sad tableau of 10 family members at a grave site or cremation mausoleum. Satin-lined caskets carrying price tags of $10,000 or more are replaced by $300 cremation urns ordered online. Drive-by and video viewings are required in these socially distanced times.”

Feeley wrote: “Another drain on funeral-home resources is the need to provide masks, heavy gloves and protective clothing for workers handling bodies.”

Because businesses are opening up do people you know act as though we’ve seen the last of Covid-19?  In spite of recommendations by doctors, have citizens in your city or town become lax in social distancing and wearing masks? Were you surprised that the funeral industry, with the dramatic uptick in business, has taken such a financial hit?

Photo: krtv.com

 

Service of How Does a Company with Nasty Rules Attract Employees?

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Photo: businessinsider.com

The US unemployment rate is at 3.6 percent. If it truly reflects the numbers of unemployed then workers can afford to be choosey especially in a place like New York City that is crowded with low pay opportunities.

Jonathan Stempel’s article, “Starbucks settles New York probe into illegal sick leave policy,” opened my eyes to another nasty practice of some employers. The Reuters reporter wrote: “Starbucks Corp agreed on Thursday to pay restitution and accept greater oversight to settle a multi-year probe finding that it had illegally required New York City employees to find substitutes when they needed to use sick leave. ” The amount: $176,000.

Officials said Starbucks violated New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act from April 2014 to February 2016 by requiring employees to find replacements before using sick leave, or else face possible discipline including termination. [In the third quarter of 2014 the economy grew at a record pace.]

Who came up with this punishing concept? Picture you sick at home with the flu. You can barely call in sick much less call around to find someone to take your place.

In addition to continuing to deep six the mean sick leave practice, Starbucks must also clearly explain its policy to its more than 8,000 New York City employees, and detail its compliance within six months to regulators, Stempel reported.

In January 2018, Starbucks adopted a nationwide policy granting employees one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. That equates to roughly seven or eight days a year for a full-time employee.

Have you heard of over-the-top employment practices? Do you think this one came about because the company felt that too many employees called in sick simply because they didn’t feel like working and it wanted to discourage the practice?

Photo: insider.com

Service of Did You Know That When You Bought or Rented It?

Monday, July 9th, 2018

1966 Ford pickup. Photo: classiccars.com

I once rented a glorious apartment with a view of the East River and Manhattan out the kitchen window; a working fireplace; large living and dining rooms; two bedrooms and a skylight in one of the bathrooms. I soon discovered it had a serious paucity of electric plugs and closets so shallow that when we closed the doors one shoulder of every jacket was crushed and wrinkled.

I was so taken by the rest of the place that I paid no attention to these flaws.

Photo: pinterest.com

Some NYC co-ops don’t permit washing machines in apartments which could be a deal-breaker if you have young children. Suburban communities often don’t allow people to hang laundry outdoors which if this is important to you, you want to know before moving in.

The subject of Douglas Belkin’s Wall Street Journal article, Luke Lambert, soon discovered that he wasn’t allowed to park his pickup truck outside–in his driveway or on the street–when he moved to Flossmore, Ill. The ban, which caused the man’s dad to borrow a sedan to visit him from Wisconsin because he got a ticket when he parked his pickup in his son’s driveway on his first visit, is one of many restrictions in this Chicago suburb.  Aboveground pools, dog leashes longer than 8 feet or grass taller than five inches are also prohibited. Residents have 24 hours to hide garbage cans after pickup.

The outlawed pickups must be stored in a garage but Lambert’s 1966 Ford was too big to fit so he parked it at his grandmother in laws’ house 10 miles away. Flossmore citizens think that theirs may be the last American community with such a residential restriction and Lambert wants to reverse it. Currently pickups are allowed outside of businesses and in church parking lots and for a few minutes outside homes to unload contents.

Lambert built a Facebook page in his effort and collected 300 signatures. The opposition suggested that people “Build a bigger garage or buy a smaller truck and park it in your current garage. No one who is not using it for business ‘needs’ a giant truck.”

According to Belkin, after a fall referendum, the trustees will make their decision. The mayor can’t predict the outcome and thinks it will be close.

Have you ever moved somewhere only to learn too late about problematic, inconvenient imperfections or rules? Do you think the conservatives in Flossmore are out of step or that Lambert should leave well enough alone?

Photo: learnwithkak.com

Service of Crowds: What do Guns Have to Do With It?

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Photo: pinterest.com

I avoid crowds. I don’t like being one among hordes whether in a stadium or an indoor or outdoor venue. I learned, in writing this post, that I attributed to my dislike something else about mobs relating to gun violence that turns out isn’t true. Please read on.

When I saw the fans on “60 Minutes” last Sunday cheering feverishly for American star soccer player Christian Pulsic—the 19 year old is on the professional German Dortmund team [photo above]—I shuddered while I think I was supposed to admire. Thousands dressed largely in team yellow and black colors stood and cheered, then jumped up and down while squeezed shoulder to shoulder. [Pulsic was remarkable, but I digress.]

I loved the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall last year but even that gave me pause. The capacity is 6,000+. Ticketholders are scrutinized by security airport style–wand and all–but still.

I see countless images and mentions on Facebook of folks either at or returning from a glorious rock concert or exhilarating game. [I love concerts–in moderately sized halls.] In supersized stadiums or open spaces I fear stampedes and not being able to get out of a packed place.

Now, after the latest massacre by guns–in Las Vegas–I thought I had another reason to question whether it’s safe to produce/attend events at venti-sized stadiums or heavily subscribed gatherings in smaller spaces until we have a better way of vetting venues for nasty perpetrators.

Photo: drawception.com

Turns out that where being fish in a barrel for gun-toting killers is concerned I’m wrong to worry about humongous  venues–statistically anyway. The Washington Post reported “People killed in mass shootings make up less than half of 1 percent of the people shot to death in the United States. More than half of gun deaths every year are suicides. In 2015, more than 12,000 people have been killed by guns, according to the Gun Violence Archive.” [I highlighted part of the quote.]

Put another way, that means that two years ago, almost 6,000 people died from gunshot wounds that weren’t due to suicide and mostly didn’t happen in stadiums and outdoor music festivals. “Twenty-seven percent of the mass shootings occurred in workplaces, and 1 in 8 took place at schools. Others took place in religious, military, retail and restaurant or other locations.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.com

So I was wrong about massive crowds being targets, but guns are not off the hook. The government protects us from unsafe prescription drugs, cigarettes, and from harm by having passengers remove their shoes at airports—so why not from citizens with guns?

A Vox.com article subhead is “In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a uniquely American problem.” Shouldn’t Congress mount a program to correct misinformation and misplaced anxiety and simultaneously put in place ways to verify the sanity and objectives of people who buy guns in future? Shouldn’t there be a gauge to determine the appropriate type of guns a citizen should own for non military/police-related purposes? Common sense tells us that there must be a suitable number of guns for sportsmen and women to own. Why not do for guns what we do for cars–register them so that homeland security in every community is aware of citizens with an excessive number? Everyone appears shocked to learn that the latest murderer had so many rifles. We should never be surprised. Nothing’s perfect–car fatalities are caused by people whose licenses have been revoked–but does that mean we shouldn’t address the problem?

Photo: slate.com

Service of Following Instructions

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

following-instructions

On a recent Sunday, Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, spoke to the C-Span audience of “Washington Journal” about three who were killed by falling into a waterfall at Yosemite National Park. On the program, “State of America’s National Parks,” Jarvis noted that there were barricades and signs indicating the dangers and that the three ignored all warnings, climbed over the barricade, slipped on the wet rocks and plummeted to their deaths.

So I got to think about instructions especially because I live in a city with roads increasingly painted with bus and bike lane lines with giant white lettering that umpteen taxis and commercial vans ignore, a city where millions cross the street wherever they may be when the light turns green, faghedabout crosswalks.

hot-stoveSome young children must touch a stovetop regardless of how many times they are instructed not to put their fingers near the heat. They continue to test rules into adulthood. Surely successful entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians and corporate chiefs share the trait–they must test and question, usually for the good, though sometimes they get burned. A friend’s brilliant brother–full scholarship at MIT in engineering–blew off all the fingers of one hand when setting off fireworks in high school: Experiment gone bad.

reading-instructionsMany ignore instructions that come with appliances and devices and wonder why, when they click the “on” switch, they don’t work. [I’ve always thought that if many of these companies cared about their instructions they’d hire me or someone like me to write them as most are impossible to follow, but now I’m off point.]

follow-instructions2I took the photo [right] in a doctor’s waiting room. I swear I didn’t style the shot by moving the soda bottle and napkin next to the sign: “Please do not eat or drink in our waiting room we appreciate your cooperation.”

And how many times do able-bodied people slip into a handicapped parking space “just for a second,” to run for some milk, a paper or to buy a lotto ticket?

rxHow many follow instructions that come with pharmaceuticals or doctor’s orders about lifestyle and diet?

What about recipes? Do you strictly adhere? I think it matters when baking, though I got away with brown and white sugar mixed because I didn’t have any light brown sugar to make devil’s food cupcakes the other week.

Are you the type that follows instructions? Have you paid the price when you haven’t? Is there something telling about the personality of a person who consistently does or doesn’t?

follow-instructions-2

Service of Restrictions

Monday, November 8th, 2010

restrictions

As you read it, you’ll notice that this post could also be called, “Service of Mixed Messages.”

I get the restrictions on liquor and cigarettes for children under a certain age but I wonder, no doubt due to my love of Crackerjacks and happy memories of tiny tops and other surprises hiding in those boxes of toothsome caramel popcorn, whether a city or state should also protect children from high calorie food with toys.

The Board of Supervisors will be protecting the children of San Francisco in this way, which you no doubt heard or read about on TV, radio, on the Internet–everywhere last week. As of a year from next month, a restaurant meal and drink can’t include a toy if its calorie count is more than 600. And less than 35 percent of those calories can be from fat.

Maybe we should ban bubblegum too. Family lore has it that I picked up some chewed bubblegum from a NYC sidewalk and popped it into my then two year old mouth which no doubt happened to thousands of others. Think of the potential choking and disease!

school-lunchroomWhile San Francisco is banning Happy Meals and their equivalent, did you know that 23.5 percent of high schools offered fast food from chains? Lesley Alderman, in “Putting Nutrition at the Front of the School Lunch Line” shared this statistic from the Centers for Disease Control, identifying Taco Bell and Pizza Hut as examples.

While too much food is going on, Alderman notes in The New York Times, that “School lunches must meet a minimum calorie limit set by the government, but it’s up to individual schools to decide how the calories are apportioned. If a meal has not reached the limit, the cook can toss on extra slices of bread to bring up the count.” So some kids aren’t getting enough calories? Shouldn’t we focus on them too?

pizza2And since I’ve digressed to the secondary theme of mixed messages, what about the front page story in the same paper, “While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the same place that warns people about eating high calorie foods laced with saturated fats, helped Domino Pizza revitalize its recipe by adding both calories and fat in the form of additional cheese. The result, a dramatic sales spurt. Along with the formula makeover, Dairy Management [part of the Department] “proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign” according to the writer Michael Moss.

Do you think that the government should influence what we buy to put into our mouths unrelated to cleanliness and safety? Does the increasing government involvement in health care give the government the right to interfere–in a “He who funds, runs” sort of way?

 unclesameating

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