Fifteenkey

A place to indulge my narcissism... and write stuff...

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The Onion

I caught myself staring at the one sweet onion that my daughter picked up for me at the grocery store yesterday. She and her fiancée, Mike are shopping for me. Is it too dramatic to suggest she’s trying to save my life? I don’t think so, but it’s also not healthy to think too much about our mortality right now, so let’s get back to the onion.

It’s just an onion, but I was thinking “how can I get the most out of it?” How many meals can I stretch it for? A few feet away from the Allium cepa sits a bowl of black beans soaking in water. I bought beans and Jasmine rice over the past few weeks, preparing for the “shelter in place” situation I knew was coming. Thinking about maximizing the utility of an onion got me thinking about my grandmother and other people many of us knew that lived through the Great Depression. I remember thinking how silly her frugality was. From my naïve perspective back in the 1970’s, life was plentiful – and wasteful.

Today, none of us can take for granted dropping into the grocery store whenever we feel like it. We are literally risking our lives to do so. Jesus. I’ll cut this post short before I trigger a different kind of depression in myself and anyone who may read this. Here are 11 Life Lessons From The Great Depression Everyone Should Learn that may help us today.

Oh, and crying is natural. Don’t worry. It’s just the onion. It’s ok.

“In all things it is better to hope than to despair.”
– von Goethe

Chinese Easter Bunny

Easter 2020 in the US

Other working titles of this post were the Kevin Baconesque, “6 Feet of Separation” and “2.4 Million Weddings and About the Same Amount of Funerals.” I do feel for the graduates and blushing brides who will have their day postponed, but hopefully they’ll simply be grateful that their fate is better than those dying from COVID-19.

The title I chose juxtaposes our “Dear Leader’s” Easter delusion with the global-political competition between the US and China. I think there’s a “rest of the story” regarding the origin and arc of COVID-19, but we may never know the truth. What is apparent, at least to me is how much Donald Trump and some of his supporters have worked to spread the narrative of “the Wuhan Virus” to place the blame on China. An inconvenient truth is that there were cases in the US as early as October closely resembling the symptoms of COVID-19. Hopefully, testing of those individuals will reveal whether that had the deadly virus.

So, China and the Easter Bunny. I think what Trump and stewards of “American Exceptionalism” are most worried about is not the mounting deaths across our country, but that China seems poised to restart their economy since their outbreak in the Wuhan province began weeks before ours, and because they “shut it down” through government-imposed social distancing and mass testing, they seem to have stopped the spread to the point they can resume some semblance of normal life – including economic activity.

Meanwhile, in the (Far From) United States of America, Trump’s denials, downplaying and just general dumbness and petty vindictiveness have the country on the edge of a human and economic disaster. He and his administration received intelligence reports in January, but Trump, amplified by Fox News downplayed the threat into early March.  Now here we are. “Opening things up” by Easter is a fantasy, but also an indication by Trump that he’s willing to sacrifice American lives to not fall behind China in the Global Economy.

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
Donald Trump 02/28/20

Yep. Let’s hope we can make that miracle a reality on Tuesday, November 3rd.

The Land After Time

Friday nights usually don’t involve cooking or cleaning, but as I was loading the dishwasher with what held the quiche and soup, the following conversation took place:

Me: “Dude, I’m exhausted and I’m going to plant it on the couch. It’s been a long week. Do you want to watch something with me?”

Kyle: “I hate to break it to you, but it’s only Wednesday.”

Me: (I had a quick moment of terror before realizing it was indeed Friday.) “Dude, It’s Friday.”

Kyle: “Wait. What?” (He went to his room to grab his phone, and upon his return,) “How did that happen?”

Exactly. How did that happen?  The days are so long it does feel like Wednesday.

Next Wednesday.

So now I’m on the couch and about the only thing I can handle right now is “Family Guy.” There’s really never been a better time for “Family Guy.”

Sewing Protective Masks

I saw this in my company social media site:

“Do you know how to sew or cut fabric? A public health student at Lahey Hospital is coordinating a project to sew protective masks. You can fill out this form if you are able to help:

More info: https://patch.com/massachusetts/burlington/coronavirus-lahey-hospital-seeks-volunteers-sew-masks

My fiance is also working with a team at Lowell Makes (https://lowellmakes.com/) and a nurse at Lowell General to 3D print respirator masks. Please let me know if you have any expertise or resources to add to that conversation.”

Thoughts During a Pandemic

This may be the best I look for quite some time.

What if the plant-based “meat” I’ve been cooking with lately is actually Soylent Green?

Mass shootings should go down.

I may look like “The Dude” when this is over. I already have the sweater.

Just thinking about going to the grocery store is terrifying.  My daughter is shopping for me and I’m ordering some stuff online

Sorry, Tom. I don’t give a shit.

Most everyone is over the “I don’t want my video camera” on during this [insert online meeting platform here] call.  It seems seeing other human faces was a little underrated.

If my experience is typical, corporate online communities are having their 15 minutes, though the days are considerably longer.  In fact, the value of “Community” is painfully being realized.

My left knee is aching. I think I overdid it on the elliptical. I’m taking a break until it improves. I’m actually ahead of schedule on the 61-pound weight loss goal for 2020. As of this morning, I’m down 16.4lbs, but have a long way to go. I still have ample moobs.  Yeah, gross.

Kyle is ellipticaling and this week he’s done 6:27, 7:34 and today 9:21! I’m proud of my son and I think he’s feeling pretty good about himself. Tomorrow we’ll shoot for 10!

If you’re not meditating yet, give it a shot. We’ve got a ways to go.

Down in the Hole

Or holed up in the house. We’re all there. Well, hopefully most of us are so we can stop the spread of COVID-19. With all this time on our hands and darkness surrounding us, there’s never been a better time to start a meditation practice.

I did my usual workout yesterday, but it was hard. Mentally. It’s a slippery slope we’re all on right now and the Coronavirus is just one of the worries. Each of us, no matter what our mask may show to the public, walks around with a very fragile psyche behind it. Right now we need to protect not just our bodies from a deadly contagion, but our minds from despair.

Arthritic hips and knees don’t appreciate it, but my exercise routine begins with stretching and yoga. The pigeon pose days are over, but the cat pose and some gentle rocking of the hips loosens things a bit before 30 minutes or so on the elliptical machine. Exercise is critical right now for body and mind. I’m even pushing my son, Kyle to get in a daily spin. The first day he couldn’t make 4 minutes. Sunday he managed 5. Today we’ll add 60 seconds more. He gets pretty bad allergies, so the lungs need expanding. Yours do too. Take a walk. Get some fresh air.

As I lay face down on the Gaiam mat, my mind began to drift toward blackness. We all are well aware of the monochrome thoughts invading our minds right now, so it’s pointless to share mine. Here’s the thing. I quickly caught myself and shifted focus to my breath, just like meditation practice teaches. I stayed on the breath. The darkness dissipated, and I carried on. I’ll be relying on that learned skill for the next few… Well, however long it takes.

Years ago, before I meditated, I’d fall helplessly down in the hole. My resulting demeanor would adversely affect everyone around me. Now, just like in a movie, I’m able to reach out and grab an elusive vine to catch me from falling. (Note, it doesn’t have to be a vine. It could be like when Luke Skywalker falls down the hole in The Empire Strikes Back, but saves himself by grabbing what looks like an antenna…) You get the idea.

Just breathe. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Stay focused. Dark thought? Fuck that. Go back to your breath. What’s going to happen with this virus? Get the fuck out of here. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. OK. Now I feel better and need to get some work done.

Breathe.

More on meditation with links to great resources that got me started:

The Pursuit of Happiness

Thankfully Behind the Waterfall

COVID Operations

Man. What a shitshow, except shit isn’t really a COVID-19 issue, so why the run on the tissue?  I’m trying to find the silver lining in an otherwise terrifying time, and all I’ve got for you is:

My hands are cleaner than ever.

I also won’t have to commute for a while. I thought I’d really enjoy the full-time work from home gig, but I miss the peeps. If you’re in a new work-from-home status, it’s important to reach out to your teams and colleagues, and use video if possible to increase the human connection. That goes for non-work connections, too. Life is hard enough without adding social isolation to the mix. My buddies Dave and Jeff and I have a three-way (hey, get your mind out of the gutter) text message thing (well, we always do) to help keep us sane. Don’t forget to use Facetime for iPhone or Duo for Android (and Duo for iPhone) to do video-calling.  My 17-month-old grandson and I stay connected that way, usually while he’s in the tub.

Other than that, it’s a very scary time. One person whose hands aren’t clean is Donald Trump. Who knew that a nepotism presidency led by a reality-show cretin and his inept sycophants in the White House and Congress could exacerbate a global pandemic, but they’ve managed to. Yep, little dirty hands Donnie inherited $400M from his daddy, proceeded to go bankrupt 6 times, and now has his son-in-law making life and death public health decisions after he gutted the CDC team responsible for managing pandemics in 2018:

Is it hyperbole to suggest this inept administration will bring down the entire country with their criminal unpreparedness for and management malfeasance with the COVID-19 outbreak? The ignorance and lies promoted by Trumpers and right-wing media may kill millions. I mean, the Donald was downplaying the COVID-19 threat from the beginning, ignored early warnings and has misled the public leading to the unnecessary additional spread of the disease. And he’s not the only one. This was today:

It’s beyond ignorance and incompetence. It’s a fraudulent misleading of the public by the POTUS and his sycophant supporters for political gain that will result in the deaths of countless Americans. As for Trump himself, there’s no Trumanesque accountability coming from that coward.

“I don’t take responsibility at all.”
– Trump. March 13, 2020.

I wonder if Mitch and the Senate Republicans are rethinking their impeachment vote.  Sadly, as one of my Twitter connections responded, “While there’s still money to be made? Doubt it.” Speaking of money to be made, the COVID-19 bill currently awaiting a Senate vote (Mitch McConnell took a long weekend), exempts large companies (500+ employees and up) from providing sick-leave to their employees. Finally, this…

What a disgrace.

 

Coronaparanoia

Yesterday was peak freak for me with the COVID-19 “Coronavirus.” My daughter told me she was sick but said my 18 y/o granddaughter would take her pre-teen cousins to meet us at our local Friday night pizza place for dinner. Here’s what my mind did:

  • Megan somehow got COVID-19 (even though there’s no evidence it’s in our local area).
  • She infected the girls.
  • They’ll infect me.
  • I’ll die and will never be able to watch “The Big Lebowski” again.

I canceled Friday Night Family Dinner, breaking a streak of many, many weeks.

WTF? Why?

Well, I consume a lot of information and am only a few years away from needing my 401K, so the news over the past 2 weeks has been, uh, unsettling. Plus, I read there was a run on Oat Milk.

Saturday morning I read, The Real Danger of the Coronavirus in Medium. I recommend it. It encourages us to take precautions, but live our lives, noting “the power of fear is a far greater threat than any virus.” It goes on to make what in my mind is the key point, “For the media, whose life-blood is a dramatic story with minute-by-minute developments, the coronavirus is a gift.”

My near constant news feed gave me Coronaparanoia. Of course, to magnify the news itself is the sheer incompetence of Donald Trump and the sycophants surrounding him in the Executive Branch, and the medias gleeful reporting of Trump’s conflicting messages and mismanagement of the crisis.

Yesterday morning, after placing a COVID-19 statement in the header of the online community I’m responsible for, I went out and did normal Saturday errands. Overall, I observed traffic to be a bit lighter than usual, but at some local retailers, the disinfectant wipes seemed to throb with attention grabbing neon as I walked in the door. It is nice some stores offer those wipes at their entrances and I used one every time. In an attempt to battle my Coronaparanoia, last night we went out to dinner.

COVID-19 is dangerous, no doubt and I think it’s going to get much worse before it gets better. If I were older, had a compromised immune system, or was in otherwise poor health, I might be more ultra-cautious. I may still get there depending on the progress (or lack of) managing this outbreak but living in fear is a self-imposed limitation on living.

Now I must wash my hands.

“And it’s too late…”

“…to lose the weight

you used to need

to throw around.”

“Dogs” – David Gilmour / Roger Waters

It’s weigh-in day and I missed my goal by 0.8 of a pound, but it’s OK…

  • Good habits are becoming well, habits.
  • Frequency of exercise is increasing.
  • Eating mostly vegan is not at all unpleasant.
  • My jeans are beginning to fit like those of a Norge Repairman.

I’m determined.

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