Archive for the ‘Pandemic’ Category

Service of When Outdoors is Really Indoors: NYC Restaurants Fooling Themselves

Monday, November 30th, 2020

These bubbles, steps from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, are fully closed.

Some adults remind me of the young child who denies eating chocolate with evidence smeared all over her face and fingers. Who are they fooling?

I predict these structural interpretations by restaurant owners of the pandemic rules that permit outdoor dining in NYC will soon need to be modified either because covid-cautious customers won’t come or inspectors will shut them down.

The fourth side of this tent, which opens to the restaurant, is wide open.

There are plenty of outdoor restaurant additions closed on three sides and open on the fourth. The photo at left shows two of three closed plastic walls. The fourth side that opens to the restaurant’s front door, is wide open. However I’m not sure about the fire safety implications of plastic enclosures combined with heating elements.

I took the photos of some of the most blatant examples within walking distance of my apartment.

Would you eat at an outdoor space during the pandemic that is more closed in than not? Have you seen examples of outdoor restaurants that you’d be comfortable visiting health and heat wise this winter? Do you think restaurants will maintain their outdoor spaces long after we’ve controlled the pandemic?

 

Bryant Park Grill

Service of Making the Comfortable Decision: Thanksgiving 2020

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

 

Photo: patch.com

I like being in control. That’s one of the terrifying things about the deadly virus. At the moment, it has us all by the short hairs and will until most of us have been injected with two doses of vaccine so it can follow the demise of smallpox and all sorts of other  worldwide plagues.

There’s hardly a newscast that doesn’t warn about Thanksgiving 2020 whether it involves traveling–don’t–suggesting that college students think twice about returning home and recommending that folks celebrate exclusively with those in their households.

In accordance with my response to the 2020 census, that would be me.

Nevertheless I plan to make the usual: sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie as, until recently, I’ve done for decades. Don’t yet know about the poultry. [I hear an outcry from balanced meal enthusiasts who wonder “where is the green vegetable?” Answer: I’ll eat a ton of salad the day before.]

And as always, I will relish Friday’s leftovers.

Grow up people. Traditions are off kilter this year. Get over it.

Food lines 2020 Photo: reuters.com

I feel no sympathy for those who whine about giving up their traditions of celebrating at their Colorado condo or visiting a brother in Cincinnati. One woman wailed on Facebook that she’ll be alone with her husband, not entertaining her 10 grandchildren and their parents. She could send a check for the cost of the dinner to a food pantry while counting her blessings that she has a husband to share dinner with and a lovely family she’ll hug next summer–if we’re lucky.

Tyler Perry donated dinners to 5,000 hungry people in Atlanta over the weekend. There are countless charities desperate for help. Yesterday NPRs Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviewed Katherina Rosqueta, founder and director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, in a segment “How To Give Back During The Coronavirus Pandemic.” The focus of high impact philanthropy is to improve lives of others rather than maximize tax benefits or honor someone. The major takeaway: cash is better than goods as its more flexible under circumstances where volunteers to distribute food or other goods are hobbled due to the pandemic.

Leftover lunch on Black Friday Photo: foodandwine.com

It doesn’t soothe my Covid-19 anxiety that the president is distracted about his lost election and isn’t watching the store. The one hour he gave to join the virtual G-20 summit this weekend, with Covid-19 high on the agenda, was hardly enough. During his “attendance” he tweeted about election results in Michigan according to John Follain, Arne Delf, Ilya Arkhipov and Josh Wingrove reporting for Bloomberg.com.

In addition, the angry pandemic is raging again. It’s time to stay within our safety comfort zones and to focus on what we’re thankful for, not on what we’re giving up. My cup runneth over. Speaking of cups, I might buy a very nice wine to sip during dinner and while chatting with friends and family. I am blessed with a vivid imagination and will hug my family members and friends virtually. They don’t love me more or less because I’m not with them.

What are your plans? Do you feel pressured to give up your Covid cautious routine or do you think it’s all a lot of hooey and that people who are ducking tradition this year are pitiable?

Food Lines 2020 Photo: theguardian.com

Service of Fear II

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Photo: training journal.com

This morning an NPR listener characterized the choices of the 2020 electorate as driven by fear. I agree.

Many voters were terrified by the shoot-from-the-hip performance of the incumbent. What would be done to control the deadly Covid-19 if Dr. Fauci was fired, another symbol of disrespect for medical science as bad as the relaxed mask and social distancing stances? How much more damage could one person cause to the environment and our standing in the world? Would this person be concerned about the welfare of all citizens or only his devotees?

The blueprint for the next four years was drawn by the last four.

Photo: ted.com

On the other hand people voted for the incumbent for fear that they would be crushed by taxes; police would abandon them for lack of funds and their homes and family would be in danger; the country would limp from foreign invaders –some claimed they were communists–breaking down our borders, stealing our jobs and socialism would smother capitalism.

In fact only those making $400,000+ would be impacted by Joe Biden’s proposed tax increase; nobody wants to live in a place without a trained, well-funded police force; many of the jobs taken by immigrants are rejected by American citizens and millions of Americans benefit from government-run programs like unemployment and social security, the latter an example of an 85 year old socialist program. According to cbpp.org, “Over 64 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in June 2020. While older Americans make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or were young survivors of deceased workers.” [In fact, the incumbent has spoken of cancelling the payroll tax which funds social security, therefore strangling it.]

Talk is cheap and politicians say what their constituents want to hear. I nevertheless appreciate one that recognizes the chasm between us and wants to cool the rhetoric and lower the emotional temperature. I fear the one who enjoys the heat of conflict and creates more.

Did fear impact your vote?

Photo: heysigmund.com

Service of Masculine Stereotypes & How They Impact the Election

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

Photo: famli.com

I suspect whatever your sexual orientation, you have an idea of masculine characteristics that appeal. Athlete? Tennis, football, hockey, soccer, basketball or golf fan? Opera, jazz, rock, hip hop, rap or country music lover? TV watcher or reader?

What about bravery?

Photo: shotstash.com

Are you masculine if you’re macho, reckless, wild, shoot-from-the-hip, a womanizer and loud or empathetic, cautious, friendly, a family man, nurturing and mild-mannered? The candidates for President represent these characteristics, both easy to satirize or exaggerate which each has done in speeches, via commercials and amplified via spokespeople. Comedians have also had their way with the contenders.

I don’t recall thinking about masculinity regarding candidates in previous elections but today tolerance,  appreciation or intolerance of the various traits of these competitors will impact many a choice at the ballot box. You’re a real man if you don’t wear a mask or if you stick your finger in the eye of the pandemic and you’re a scaredy-cat if you wear one and are Covid-cautious.

We’ll know the answer to the country’s choice tomorrow or soon thereafter.

Are masculine stereotypes bunk? Do you agree that the styles and interpretations of being a “real man” impact voter choices about the 2020 candidates or are the issues paramount?

Photo: videohive.net

 

Service of Surprises that Cost Little and Make a Day

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Photo: twitter.com

A small gesture or effort, an unexpected tweak, can make a person’s day. I’ve written about these often. It’s fun to be on either side–recipient or donor.

In Vino Veritas

Since March I’ve bought wine at a local store rather than at the discounted Trader Joe’s that’s 25 blocks away. Each time I visit there are different clerks, all nice, mostly men. I buy inexpensive wine–two bottles at a time–as the store is my last stop on my way home. I’m already loaded up with groceries and still have four blocks to go.

On my last visit Sussex Wine [photo above] was empty and the clerk and I chatted. She could tell that this was not my first visit. She asked me if I was in their system: by sharing my phone number and name I’d be registered in their awards plan. After 300 points a customer gets a $10 discount. They’d never call me, she promised. The men hadn’t told me of this benefit before. I “enrolled.” As I left she told me she’d started me off with 200 points. Wow!

Milking It

There wasn’t a quart of fat free or 1 percent milk in Gristedes, the local grocery store. I walked to the front–milk seems to be as far from the door as possible in every store–and found a clerk sitting on a box restocking the lowest shelf. I asked if they expected a delivery later in the day. He jumped up, said he thought the truck had just arrived, dashed outside and came back with a quart of skim. Golden service! As I left I saw that they hadn’t yet brought out a hand truck to unload the order.

When Everything Goes Wrong

There were two clerks at CVS drugstore both of whom were having time-consuming problems checking out their customers. The manager came, spoke with each and just before he opened a third cash register to alleviate the growing checkout line a floor clerk said she also needed him.

He started to enter my order at the third register–we too ran into a hitch–when he left to again help the two cashiers whose customers had already been there for far too long. I didn’t see him again for quite a while. When he came back to me he apologized profusely and often and looked gloomy. He expected to hear me rant about the delay.

I smiled, said I saw that he was stretched beyond reason and not to worry. His relief and gratitude was palpable. It was a joy to see his mood change to cheerful. As he handed me my receipt he was overjoyed to tell me that I had a $6.00 rewards coupon.

Have you received a happy surprise or been able to please someone unexpectedly, at little cost? Does the stress over the pandemic and/or the election have something to do with some people-helping-people in important small ways?

Photo: myanxiousworld.com

Service of When You Lose, Let Go

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Photo: yoursalesplaybook.com

I’ve been on the losing side of a board vote. It’s not easy to let go, especially if you spent hours researching the argument for “your side.” The immediate choice: support the majority’s decision or leave the board.

The country did that in 2000 after the Bush vs. Gore election. A large percentage of the population gritted its teeth and moved on when Gore won the national popular vote but lost the electoral college according to the Florida vote recounting.

I am concerned that there are too many militia groups prepared to show their displeasure in violent ways should this president not win a second term.

On Friday Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning on WOR 710 radio, a station with largely a conservative Republican point of view, interviewed Brad Garrett, ABC News Crime & Terrorism Analyst, former FBI agent, media consultant on crime & terrorism and private investigator. He shared his thoughts about the arrested plot by a militia group to kidnap, try for treason and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and to overthrow the Michigan Statehouse.

Michigan Statehouse Photo: michiganradio.com

Garrett said that the hate groups were “serious and were really going to try it.” Berman asked him “are there lots of kooks and groups like this around the country?” Garrett replied “Yes.” He said it is a locally-driven phenomenon and that he is concerned because “they really like President Trump” and “feel that he is in their corner.” My concern, said Garrett, is that if he loses they must “take care of their guy.”

Mary B. McCord in a New York Times opinion piece, “The plot against Gretchen Whitmer shows the danger of private militias,” identified a range of laws that “point to a single conclusion: there is no right in any state for groups of individuals to arm themselves and organize either to oppose or augment the government”

Three Percenters Photo: adl.org

The former acting assistant attorney general for national security wrote: “now, more than ever, state and local officials must enforce these statutes.” And “Those groups, like the Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and others they claim to be ‘patriots’ but answer to their own interpretation of the Constitution, are likely to hear the presidents unsupported claims about election fraud as their license to deploy to the polls to ‘protect’ or ‘patrol’ the vote.”

The president didn’t contact the Governor to see if she was OK after the foiled attempt on her life. Instead he wrote three  tweets, [excerpts follow], in which he claimed the Governor “has done a terrible job,” and he commended the Federal Government’s “tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan.” He added “…. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist–while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burned down democrat run cities…” In the third tweet he wrote “Governor Whitmer – – open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

Craig Mauger in The Detroit News wrote: “Along with federal authorities, state and local law enforcement officials were also involved in uncovering the plot against Whitmer.”

In addition Mauger  reported: “Trump also falsely tied school and church closures to Whitmer. Schools decide for themselves whether to have in-person instruction in Michigan. Churches have been exempt from many COVID-19 restrictions in the state, and many have been holding worship services.”

Have you lived with a decision or vote you disagreed with? How have you handled the disappointment and frustration? Do you think all will be hunky dory after the election if Donald Trump loses? Are you planning to stay home the day the winner is announced in case there is violence?

Photo: boardmember.com

Service of Dreading the End of a Beloved Book or Series

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Belgian Neuhaus chocolates

As I reach the end of a much-loved book or Netflix series I dread the anticipated feeling of loss. I’ll miss the characters I’ve befriended, fiction or non. With options to mingle and in-person entertainment cut off–especially for the covid-cautious–it helps to have something to look forward to if there isn’t a good movie on Turner Classic, a scheduled live online concert or event or reruns of a favorite series like “Blue Bloods” or “Law & Order.” [I miss Jerry Orbach.]

The only reason I dislike e-books is because I can’t gauge when the end will happen–how many pages or chapters I have left. So how can I slow down so the book lasts longer? I want to pace my reading as I do consumption of fancy chocolates. I try to eat only one a day.

I borrowed Erik Larson’s “The Splendid and the Vile” from the New York Public Library at a busy time and hardly started it when the library took it back. I’m now #195 in line for 255 copies. I haven’t mastered the pace and timing of borrowing. When I select a few books they all seem to arrive in my virtual book box at once.

I try not to binge watch episodes on Netflix of “West Wing,” “Call My Agent,” “Broadchurch,” and “The Crown” that I save for late night. I even split into two nights a good flick “The Half of It.”

E-books at the NY Public Library

I was disappointed by the first episodes of Darren Star’s new series, “Emily in Paris.” Maybe I’ll become fonder of the characters as I continue to watch.  He also created the iconic and fun “Sex and the City” among others. While the City of Lights never looked better and the fashions are terrific, so far the dialogue is predictable and characterization of the Americans and French clichéd, the former optimistic, friendly and creative, the latter luddite, unsociable and grumpy. Paris is also a highlight of  the “Call My Agent” series but the characters and situations are quirky and funny. [One of the actors called her agent because the director insisted she lie nude in a casket. The nude part was OK but being depicted dead in the altogether not so much.]

What entertainments do you look forward to during the pandemic? If you borrow e-books from a library how do you time your reservations so you don’t end up with either none for days or too many at once? Can you recommend some books–e, audio or traditional–TV series, movie or programs on a subscription-based streaming service? How many services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, or Disney do you subscribe to? Which is the best? How do you find time for more than one?

Emily in Paris. Photo: netflixlife.com

Service of Standing Up to Power When Health is Involved

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Photo: drivesmartgeorgia.cm

Why does someone charged with upholding rules cave?

Most people follow the rules. You brake at red lights, stay within the speed limit [pretty much], especially at school crossings and in bad weather, wear a seat belt and don’t smoke in public places. If stopped you apologize to the authorities who catch you and do what they say.

There would be chaos if most didn’t react to warnings and requests to comply. Yet some act as though they are exempt and unstoppable regardless of the stakes.

Chris Wallace Photo: foxnews.com

Jason Abbruzzese, a blogger for nbcnews.com, wrote that the moderator of the presidential debate last week, Chris Wallace, “noted that Trump’s family members present at the debate did not abide by the mask mandates put in place by the Cleveland Clinic.  ‘The interesting thing was that the Cleveland Clinic said that everybody in the hall with the exception of the president the vice president and myself had to wear a mask,’ Wallace said.”

The Center for Disease Control [CDC] is clear: it “calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread.” In a July 14 CDC press release: “There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.”

Abbruzzese continued “Trump’s group wore masks as they entered the hall but took them off when they sat down. According to NBC News reporters who attended the debate, a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic tried to offer some of the group masks but was waived away.” In addition, this group had arrived late to the debate and were not tested as was the rest of the audience.

Photo: businessinsider.com

On Sunday, Fox News Sunday anchor Wallace grilled Trump Senior Advisor Steve Cortes asking, about the Trump family, “why didn’t the rules apply to them?” Cortes accused Wallace of haranguing him as he did the president during the debate. Wallace said that the Commission on Presidential Debates revised its rules: anyone without a mask will be kicked out, ejected next time.

Clearly nobody followed CDC guidelines in the Rose Garden at the White House regarding social distancing at the Supreme Court nomination ceremony on September 26 for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Hugging and handshaking happened as though it was 2019. Reckless gathering happened at a reception indoors as well, mid-pandemic, where few masks were worn. Video clips of the garden show none who have subsequently tested positive wore a mask: Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, Republican Senators Thom Tillis, N.C., Mile Lee, Utah, Ron Johnson, Wis. and Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. president of Notre Dame. Who knows where the first lady and Donald Trump were exposed.

At least Rev. Jenkins apologized. According to a Facebook posting by America Magazine: “‘I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,'” Jenkins wrote in a Monday letter to students, faculty and staff. ‘I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.'”

Anyone else? Yesterday, on Face the Nation, Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller complained “Biden uses masks as a prop.”

The mountain of doctors on the steps of Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday, some of the best minds in the world watching over the president’s every breath and course of illness, show that they are turning their attention and expertise to cure a sick chief of state. However I thought of the 208,000+ dead citizens who didn’t enjoy such care during the months the administration downplayed the severity of coronavirus and scoffed at the protocols and measures science claims will help stop it. Will Congress take a second look, before it takes further steps in November to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so during the crisis, if not the future, millions maintain insurance stability for the little care they currently get?

When compliance can mean life or death, should the Cleveland Clinic doctor have insisted–or someone come on a loudspeaker to announce–that those who refuse to wear masks please leave the auditorium? Why didn’t this happen? What are people afraid of? What are the rules for if anyone is exempt?

How come the White House ignores CDC protocols and guidelines for its guests and visitors and why do the latter play along? Who do they think masks and social distancing are meant for? Do you think those who before didn’t believe they served a purpose will do so now? Can we expect enforcers to put more muscle behind mask wearing and social distancing no matter who refuses them?  Have you witnessed other examples of people who think they are above the rules and of someone who stood up to them? What is the worst that can happen to the person who does?

No masks at 2020 presidential debate Photo: news.yahoo.com

 

Service of Online Dating During a Pandemic: Where There’s Hope

Monday, September 28th, 2020

Photo: medium.com

While most social occasions to meet a potential companion, such as weddings, special events and dinner parties or opportunities like travel and work have been scotched by the pandemic, internet dating is thriving according to Mary Meisenzahl of buinessinsider.com. She wrote: “Match Group’s second quarter 2020 earnings report shows an increase in subscribers and downloads over pre-COVID-19 levels, and users are back to paying for membership at the same level they were before.”

And who can blame people for valiantly continuing to search for the mate of their dreams to ward off loneliness, especially now?

Match Group encompasses 45 brands and represents 60 percent of the internet dating market–10 million subscribers of which Tinder claims 6 million reported Meisenzahl. Some other familiar ones are Match, Hinge, and OKCupid. Meisenzahl identified as “most promising” that the economic crisis has had no impact on average revenue per user which after April’s lull has steadily increased and “even surpassed pre-coronavirus levels.”

I’ve been to two weddings made possible by online dating and each has led to long and happy unions.

Photo: theknow.denverpost.com

There are the obvious concerns about people meeting during a pandemic when they are unfamiliar with the habits of strangers potentially catching or spreading Covid-19.  And how many of these relationships are destined for tragedy because they are based on settling, no more than a hasty antidote to extraordinary loneliness during a period of working at home? Once the pandemic passes, half of these couples might get hurt.

This gloom and doom perspective is more than conjecture.  History books are filled with tales of quick fix connections that were made during wartime that dissolved soon afterwards. I know of just such an instance that happened eons ago.

We were stationed for two years–the typical term–on a Turkish base. Some couples lived in base housing and airmen, most of whom were young bachelors, lived in barracks. If they were married, airmen lived in apartments off the base. A couple we knew broke up immediately on returning to the states. The husband told his devastated wife he’d only married her so that he didn’t have to live in airman quarters and admitted he didn’t want to be alone, so far from home, for 24 months.

Do you know folks who continue to date on the Internet through the pandemic? Have any met the ONE? Do you think desperation not to be lonely may impact the longevity of some of these relationships?

Photo: ctvanews.ca

Service of Hoarding III

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Photo: quora.com

I can see everything in my freezer–it’s no longer overstuffed–I have three rolls of paper towel and of TP and love that it all fits under a sink. In the small cabinet in my diminutive kitchen, for the first time in six months, there’s room for a few more condiments, pasta or other non-refrigerated items.

The space in which I stored the overflow in my apartment last March is taken. It’s my home office since I no longer rent elsewhere.

Photo: fickr.com

We broke a record with 200,000 dead from Covid-19 and there’s already a new spike of cases in Europe. “Europe Passes U.S. in New Covid Cases, Returning as Hot Spot,” Thomas Mulier reported in Bloomberg.com 10 days ago. Earlier this week the UK increased restrictions for six months in an attempt to quell an alarming rise in cases.

We anticipate a resurgence in winter that will exacerbate the usual flu season.

“Currently, travelers from 35 “hotspot” states and territories must quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut,” according to nbcny.com on Tuesday. On September 22 New York Governor Cuomo added Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

So am I taking a chance by not stocking up on the brands I like or do you think the country has overcome its shortage challenges? Have citizens here controlled their tendency to hoard? Is this an issue that only impacts people who live in compact spaces?

Covid-19 memorial for 200,000 who died by mid September, 2020

 

 

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