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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Santa's Many Helpers

 As a kid, did you believe in Santa? Or were you one of those smart-kicks who questioned how Santa would be able to visit all the children of the world in one day only?

Early on, and in anticipation of my inquisitive mind, my parents had made me aware of that Christmas is not necessarily celebrated everywhere on the globe and that some countries had Christmas on the 24th while other kids, mostly in English speaking countries, would first be served with gifts on the 25th. It sure stopped a barrage of further questions to my parents. Albeit, what I didn't know then was that the gifts had to be delivered on the MORNING of the 25th, which wouldn't give Santa much of a leeway to reach across from country to country. And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer wasn't even known in Germany in those days. But in spite of all these obstacles, I was a believer in Santa for the longest time. Guess my parents made sure of it. 

Nowadays we know the real reason for Santa living up to the task. Santa has a large group of helpers all over the world. Yes, folks, that's the way Santa manages to get all over the world. There is a modern word for it: Outsourcing! Young dynamic managers fresh from school have been promoting this for years. It's the reason that if you order an item from say Amazon, it's not really coming from Amazon, but from China or Bangladesh. The moment your order is received at Amazon, it will be forwarded to China where the item goes into shipping. Obviously, shipping from China takes a bit more time than shipping. from say North Pole, AK. I have first-hand knowledge of this, as I ordered a pack of red Christmas candles from Amazon. They did sent me an email telling me that the item is coming as an "import" and that that would be the reason why Christmas and Santa would be gone before I would be able to stick the candles into my Advent decoration. But who would have thought that candles are not available directly within North America?

The difference with Santa's old-fashioned outsourcing compared to Amazon's is that Santa has it's own transportation system of reindeers, and not enough with that, once the Santa helpers come to your village they also use bicycles and some have big red trucks with lots of room for big hard parcels



We were lucky enough that we met a whole group of biking Santa-helpers coming along here. So, of course, we now know how Santa is getting the job done.

Just be on the look-out and you might see some as well.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Between Two Nuts

It's the 3rd. of Advent and I am sitting with the lighted Christmas tree. 

A bowl of walnuts is in front me. It's customary to crack nuts during Christmas. We've always done it and we continue to do so. It's kind of not getting to be Christmas without it. And while I am cracking a nut I am thinking that the English language has a special word using nuts as in, "You are nuts" meaning you are crazy. No other language I know (and I am only knowing 5) uses the nut for "crazy". Now, I don't need to delve into the origin of the saying, maybe YOU can come up with an explanation. Meanwhile, following the meaning of "nuts" being "crazy" I must think of what is still happening in the US. "Nuts" seems to be the word of the day. Repeating a falsehood does not make it become the truth, regardless of how often one says it. But the soon-to-be-gone president of the US doesn't get it. And the cult-goers are loving his lies. If this spectacle would have played out in 2016 staged by the democrats, the other side would have been outraged, and quite rightly so, I dare say. An election is held to make one side the winner and the other a loser. One side is smiling, the other will be disappointed, and those are the rules of the game.

Hiding in the White House, sulking and scheming about new ways to disturb and derail due process is unamerican, unethical and quite frankly disgusting behavior, not worthy the office of the US president. A disgrace to the country while the world leaders are watching the unfolding theater in disbelief. But even more "nuts" are those State reps. who co-signed an amicus letter supporting the presidents outrageous lies.

What the attempt to overthrow a legal election with the help of the US Supreme Court also showed us, is that the further existence of the US democracy was hinged on the forthrightness and clear view of a few people at the court. If a democracy is allowed to degrade to that low level that it can get to the very brink of extinction, and be saved only in the 11th hour, there ought to be a number of other failures prior to that.

Comparing the base build of the American democracy with that of a few other countries in Europe, the main difference is that Congress has granted way too much power to the office of the president and the executive branch. It is completely unthinkable that f.ex. German Chancellor Angela Merkel could rule through executive orders. It is the German "Bundestag" (Parliament) and the "Bundesrat" (compare to the Senate) who decide absolutely every thing (without any exemption) happening on the federal level. It would be unthinkable that the President of the "Bundesrat" could block anything from being voted upon (like "Moscow Mitch) What ever legislative initiative comes from the other chamber must be voted upon. The German Bundespraesident has representative functions only without any legislative power. Thus Germany built up a functioning democracy, something America has failed to create.

Sad to watch a neighbouring country failing and with so many (74Mill) being "Nuts".

I rather grab another walnut to crack. It's Christmas after all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

What A Busy Day!

 I had a hunch that we would get a busy day today. The furniture store in the big city had told us that our new 3-Seater would be delivered today. Now, "Delivered" does not mean it would get to our front porch. No Sir, there are no deliveries to Campobello Island. Especially not during these Covid times as no company would send their employees through the US to deliver anything. We are in a truly remote area of the country and there is a price to pay for such luxury. What was set out to happen today was that we would have to drive 60 miles to meet the furniture truck in St. Stephen for transferring our sofa from their truck to our van. And we had been informed (warned) that the delivery guys would not help us re-loading the sofa into our van and that we would have to stay away from them. 

OK, it's a Covid measure and anyway, I had no intention of giving these guys a hug. LOL.

Since we needed a lot of extra kitchen supplies for the coming holidays Bea would drive the small van (with Dixie being a passenger), while I would drive the long van where the sofa would fit it. Of course, yesterday, I had removed 3 rows of seats from the bus to make room.

So this morning we were in contact with the store which let us know that their truck was already in St. Stephen. So we got in a bit of a hurry loading ourselves behind the wheels and heading towards the border.

Bea was ahead of me and I watched her passing through the CBP checkpoint. Then it was my turn. The CBP officers are always extremely friendly and ready to make a funny comment. So when the older officer asked me about where I was heading I told him that I was going to St.Stephen for a sofa pickup.

"How many vehicles are needed for a sofa pickup"? was his comment. "I'm just curious".

We both had a good laugh of it and I explained that Bea would have to do some shopping in town, while I would be returning with the furniture right away.

When my phone rang, it was the truck driver wanting to know a meeting time. 

As agreed, we met with the truck about 75 minutes later. They unloaded the couch, then pulled away, and Bea and yours-truly slid the package through the rear door of the van. I had put a couple of planks on the floor and it made the loading really easy.

For the return trip to the island I took over Dixie which would save her from waiting in the van while Bea was doing her shopping.

Another 60 miles and 75 minutes later I again had passed customs on the island. 

I backed the bus straight up to our porch and, using the planks, I could slide the thing right onto the porch deck.

Of course I had a ball with lifting and pushing the sofa through 2 door ways, and when Bea came home it was almost done.

So tonight we are tired but happy campers with our new sofa.




Sunday, December 6, 2020

Ms. Dixie Has A Sleepy Day

 We have gotten another week towards Christmas and this Sunday is the 2. of Advent. We have never been great Christmas shoppers and rather preferred to enjoy being home or venturing out into nature, and this year will make no difference. So for us current Covid restrictions won't make us feel restricted or limited in any way.

Today the focus was mostly staying in a warm and cozy house, as the weather did not invite to extended hiking adventures. 

Matter of fact it has been pouring from a dark sky since yesterday evening, and it was a challenge to get Ms. Dixie out the door this morning. She hates rain and wind and plainly refused to stay outside. Alternatively, she cozied up on her dog bed for hours to pass.

However, after lunch, most of the rain stopped, and it was time to load Dixie into the van for a trip into the woods. The winds were still quite strong, but the dense forest gave enough protection. 

As soon as we released Ms. Dixie onto the trail, she spotted a black labrador and the two had a typical dog meet chasing each other round and round. 

Ms. Dixie loves other dogs, regardless of their size, so we never worry about her starting a fight.

Upon our return home, she went straight back to her dog corner and fell asleep again. Ms. Dixie is the calmest dog we've ever had. She can sleep for extended time without ever making a sound.

And for us it was time to make up for lost calories so my home-made chocolate Advent-cake came in handy.

                  Our Christmas tree stands readily decorated.

A couple of days ago we received message that one of new sofas had arrived at the furniture store so we had gotten busy removing our old set. We had a hard time to get it out of the house as construction changes in our house has made it more difficult to get big pieces of furniture through the doorways. Eventually, we got it all out on the porch. Only hours later 2 ladies appeared with a pickup truck moving the 2 couches to a new home. 

What I didn't notice that day was that the lifting and cajoling with the heavy couches had strained a few tendons in my left shoulder. The next morning I could hardly get into my shirt. Now I am afraid that the pain will not subside before the new couch will have to be brought into the house. It's a 3-seater and I just hope it will prove a bit smaller than the old one. The love-seat, we also ordered, isn't scheduled for delivery until January, which offers some grace time for my shoulder.

           The new set at the LEONS store in Saint John

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

US Democracy Survival Not Granted

Our Democracy’s Near-Death Experience
Now is no time for complacency. The next Congress must shore up our institutions.

By Susan E. Rice
Ms. Rice is a former national security adviser.

Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times


It appears that our democracy dodged a bullet — or, more precisely, multiple concerted efforts by the president of the United States to torpedo its very foundations.
While President Trump rages relentlessly about election “fraud,” many Republican leaders continue to parrot false denials of the validity of President-elect Joe Biden’s clear victory. Yet, so far, our democracy has withstood the greatest stress test of our lifetimes.
Mr. Trump and his political allies have been employing nearly every weapon at their disposal to try to retain the White House, notwithstanding the will of the people.
First, the Trump campaign labored (largely in vain) to concoct bogus conspiracy theories to discredit Mr. Biden by falsely smearing his son Hunter. To do so, Mr. Trump and his associates solicited foreign assistance from Ukraine and China and relied on Russian agents to disseminate disinformation.
Second, Trump supporters worked assiduously to suppress the vote by denigrating the legitimacy of mail-in ballots during a pandemic, limiting access to ballot drop-boxes and polling stations, flooding social media with messaging to dampen minority voter turnout, blasting robocalls to deceive voters about where and when to vote and manipulating the postal system to delay ballot delivery.
Third, some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters intimidated voters at the polls. Heeding calls to “stand by” and “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” they deployed, sometimes armed, in Black and brown communities under the guise of ensuring no fraudulent votes were cast.

Fourth, in the run-up to Election Day, Mr. Trump dispatched an army of litigants to enlist the courts in curtailing access to the polls. Since the election, his legal team has tried repeatedly to halt ballot counting and toss out legitimately cast votes that most likely favored Mr. Biden. Ultimately, Mr. Trump summoned Michigan’s Republican leaders to the White House, apparently in an attempt to coax the state’s Legislature into unilaterally appointing Trump electors.

Despite these machinations, the worst fears about this election failed to materialize. Defying the combined challenges of the pandemic, a chaotic primary season, foreign interference and presidential sabotage, the 2020 election proved to be one of the cleanest and, according to senior U.S. officials, the “most secure” in our nation’s history. The American people voted in unprecedented numbers, risking their health and foiling efforts in many states to make voting as difficult as possible. African-Americans, especially, braved countless barriers to casting their ballots.
There is no proof, nor even credible evidence, of significant voting irregularities, much less fraud. Republican and Democratic state and local officials largely adhered to their legal responsibilities, conducting the tabulation and certification processes honestly and transparently. Federal officials, sometimes collaborating with the private sector, effectively minimized the impact of Russian electoral interference.
The mainstream media duly prepared the public for a protracted counting process, refrained from rushing to call the outcomes in key states and resisted amplifying false allegations of fraud, thereby helping to temper public anxiety.
There has been no significant election-related violence. Supporters of Mr. Biden celebrated joyously, while supporters of Mr. Trump protested a week later without major incident.
Countries around the world have accepted the result, almost uniformly congratulating Mr. Biden on his decisive victory, with many expressing eagerness to renew relations with the United States.
For now, our democracy has held.
Still, the lesson we must learn is not a reassuring one: A determined autocrat in the White House poses a grave threat to our democratic institutions and can severely undermine faith in our elections, particularly when backed by partisans in Congress.
Perhaps only when the stars are optimally aligned — when voters turn out in huge numbers, when the outcome is not close, when state and local officials and the courts adhere to the rule of law, when foreign interference is thwarted, when the media behaves responsibly and when people remain peaceful — can our democracy endure its greatest tests.
Mr. Trump will leave office on Jan. 20, whether he acknowledges defeat or not. Yet, if his Republican enablers in Congress retain a Senate majority, they will not hesitate to reprise the politics of power at any cost, even by again subverting the democratic process.
So, bolstering our democracy depends in large part on the people of Georgia voting out their incumbent senators on Jan. 5. If the Senate flips to Democratic control, Congress will be able to apply the lessons of our democracy’s near-death experience.
It would enact the For the People Act to combat corruption, strengthen ethics rules and improve voter access as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the protections of the 1965 legislation. Congress would pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act to constrain the power of future presidents who deem themselves above the law and finally adopt long-stalled legislation to shore up our election infrastructure against adversaries, foreign or domestic.

Now is no time for self-congratulation or complacency. We must act with the unique urgency and courage of those who know they are living on borrowed time.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Thoughts For The 1. Of Advent

 

It’s that time of the year again and we are at home at the fireplace and from the speakers we are listening to dearly loved traditional Christmas songs. 

And my thoughts are wandering far, so far into the past. I can see mother at her Grand Piano playing and singing these very same Christmas songs. She did it for us and her very own enjoyment as well. And may I say she was extremely good at it. Later she did a number of records with friends in that old stone church of the country village where my parents spent their retirement.

Was she aware that her performance did so much more than just being entertainment for an afternoon? It wasn’t just the loved tunes of her music that echoed deep in our heart, it connected with so much more, the time of the year, the family life, our home….building roots for a future life of work and happiness. How I would love being able to thank her today.

But my plane landed too late. She went to her creator before I reached home.

Wishing you peace!

Friday, November 27, 2020

Not Disappointed

From the Miami Herald:
by Leonard Pitts Jr.

I am not disappointed in Donald Trump.

For there to be disappointment at childish behavior presumes an expectation of adult behavior. No such expectation exists where Trump is concerned. So his weeks of sulking and floating bizarre conspiracy theories since he lost the election, while embarrassing in the extreme, doesn’t really let me down so much as confirm what I already knew. One might as well be disappointed in an infant for soiling his diaper as to be disappointed in Trump for soiling his office.

But I must admit that prior to this I did harbor some tiny, flickering expectation that, if pushed to the limit, the Republican Party, the party always lecturing the rest of us on patriotism, would stand up for the country. I did expect — or maybe it was just a vestigial hope — that when rubber met road, the GOP would finally put America . . . ahem, first.

Well, call it expectation or call it hope, but it’s dead. And it died, quite literally, in silence.

That silence descended four days after the election when every major news organization declared Joe Biden the winner and, more to the point, Donald Trump the loser. Soon, news broke that Trump’s General Services Administration was refusing to allow the presidential transition to officially get under way (a blockade it did not lift till Monday). Experts said this would hamper the incoming president’s ability to conduct foreign policy and manage the pandemic. They called it a threat to the nation. The GOP’s response?

Silence.

That silence persisted as Trump tried to steal Michigan’s electoral votes by pushing to discard ballots from majority-black Detroit. As he and his allies filed dozens of lawsuits and failed dozens of times to prove allegations of corruption. As he denied the incoming president access to classified security briefings. As he openly undermined the democracy he was sworn to protect.

Almost three weeks later. Trump retreats ever deeper into his delusions about election fraud — the resemblance to Hitler in his bunker, ordering non-existent armies into action, cannot be denied — yet it is still news whenever some lonely Republican musters the guts to refer to the president-elect as the president-elect. Even more so when some still-serving party member rebukes Trump.

New York Rep. Peter King said it was inexcusable, in the summer of 2014, for President Obama to wear a tan suit. Yet about Trump’s subversion of democracy, he has said nothing. Monday, on Twitter and CNN, respected reporter Carl Bernstein named 21 GOP senators — including McSally, Grassley, Cornyn, Collins, Rubio and Rick Scott — who in private, he says, “have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump and his fitness to be POTUS.”

Yet almost none has been willing to say so publicly. Why? Well, they’re scared Trump might tweet at them. That could even cost them an election. But if fear of losing your job keeps you from defending your country, you don’t deserve the job. Frankly, you don’t even deserve the country.

We are a people of notoriously short memories. But one hopes we recall the stink of this cowardice for a very long time. At a minimum, let Republicans never again presume to lecture the rest of us on patriotism, a concept they plainly know nothing about. Because when it came time to put muscle behind that pretty word, to risk something for the country they purport to love, they swallowed their tongues, lost their voices, fell mute. This is a display of gutlessness historians will be dissecting for years.

And yes, I did expect better. Obviously, I was wrong.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Let The Repairs Begin


I don't envy this man, but I am certainly wishing him, his Vice President, and the American people all the best for the future.

After Trump finally has given in and authorized his agency to begin the formal transition, President-elect Biden can now begin the long process of repairs to the country. The workload must feel crushing for any man. But I am sure Joe Biden will be hiring the very best qualified people for the job. 

The long road to normalcy will begin with containing the virus. World leaders are already looking forward to restart normal relations with the United States. Trade wars will come to an end. Regulatory environmental damage done by the Trump administration can be undone. The many vacant government positions from the last 4 years can be filled again. Immigrant children can be released from cages. Honesty from government agencies will return. No more "alternative facts" at press briefings. 

If you want to know more about your new president I recommend to read the book he wrote about the year Joe and Jill lost their son Beau "Promise me Dad"

Congratulations to your new President and First Lady.


Friday, November 20, 2020

The Pandemic is Real Folks!

If you think that the pandemic is a hoax or just a tool to control the people or that the virus is going to be under control any time soon, I recommend you read the story published first by THE ATLANTIC. As much as this story might scare you, the overall daily case numbers in the US have almost reached 200,000 with 2000 deaths, and it is still rising fast. The overall accumulated world case number stands now at 58mill with whereof 12mill Covid cases are in the U.S. , a sad record of negligence. 

Republished


Hospitals Know What’s Coming


Ed Yong  THE ATLANTIC

Perhaps no hospital in the United States was better prepared for a pandemic than the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

After the SARS outbreak of 2003, its staff began specifically preparing for emerging infections. The center has the nation’s only federal quarantine facility and its largest biocontainment unit, which cared for airlifted Ebola patients in 2014. The people on staff had detailed pandemic plans. They ran drills. Ron Klain, who was President Barack Obama’s “Ebola czar” and will be Joe Biden’s chief of staff in the White House, once told me that UNMC is “arguably the best in the country” at handling dangerous and unusual diseases. There’s a reason many of the Americans who were airlifted from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in February were sent to UNMC.

In the past two weeks, the hospital had to convert an entire building into a COVID-19 tower, from the top down. It now has 10 COVID-19 units, each taking up an entire hospital floor. Three of the units provide intensive care to the very sickest people, several of whom die every day. One unit solely provides “comfort care” to COVID-19 patients who are certain to die. “We’ve never had to do anything like this,” Angela Hewlett, the infectious-disease specialist who directs the hospital’s COVID-19 team, told me. “We are on an absolutely catastrophic path.”

To hear such talk from someone at UNMC, the best-prepared of America’s hospitals, should shake the entire nation. In mid-March, when just 18 Nebraskans had tested positive for COVID-19, Shelly Schwedhelm, the head of the hospital’s emergency-preparedness program, sounded gently confident. Or, at least, she told me: “I’m confident in having a plan.” She hoped the hospital wouldn’t hit capacity, “because people will have done the right thing by staying home,” she said. And people did: For a while, the U.S. flattened the curve.

But now about 2,400 Nebraskans are testing positive for COVID-19 every day—a rate five times higher than in the spring. More than 20 percent of tests are coming back positive, and up to 70 percent in some rural counties—signs that many infections aren’t being detected. The number of people who’ve been hospitalized with the disease has tripled in just six weeks. UNMC is fuller with COVID-19 patients—and patients, full stop—than it has ever been. “We’re watching a system breaking in front of us and we’re helpless to stop it,” says Kelly Cawcutt, an infectious-disease and critical-care physician.

Cawcutt knows what’s coming. Throughout the pandemic, hospitalizations have lagged behind cases by about 12 days. Over the past 12 days, the total number of confirmed cases in Nebraska has risen from 82,400 to 109,280. That rise represents a wave of patients that will slam into already beleaguered hospitals between now and Thanksgiving. “I don’t see how we avoid becoming overwhelmed,” says Dan Johnson, a critical-care doctor. People need to know that “the assumption we will always have a hospital bed for them is a false one.”

What makes this “nightmare” worse, he adds, “is that it was preventable.” The coronavirus is not unstoppable, as some have suggested and as New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, and Hong Kong have resoundingly disproved—twice. Instead, the Trump administration never mounted a serious effort to stop it. Whether through gross incompetence or deliberate strategy, the president and his advisers left the virus to run amok, allowed Americans to get sick, and punted the consequences to the health-care system. And they did so repeatedly, even after the ordeal of the spring, after the playbook for controlling the virus became clear, and despite months of warnings about a fall surge.

Not even the best-prepared hospital can compensate for an unchecked pandemic. UNMC’s preparations didn’t fail so much as the U.S. created a situation in which hospitals could not possibly succeed. “We can prepare over and over for a wave of patients,” says Cawcutt, “but we can’t prepare for a tsunami.”

A full hospital means that everyone waits. COVID-19 patients who are going downhill must wait to enter a packed intensive-care unit. Patients who cannot breathe must wait for the many minutes it takes for a nurse elsewhere in the hospital to remove cumbersome protective gear, run over, and don the gear again. On Tuesday, one rapidly deteriorating patient needed to be intubated, but the assembled doctors had to wait, because the anesthesiologists were all busy intubating four other patients in an ICU and a few more in an emergency room.

None of the people I spoke with would predict when UNMC will finally hit its capacity ceiling, partly because they’re doing everything to avoid that scenario, and partly because it’s so grim as to be almost unthinkable. But “we’re rapidly approaching that point,” Hewlett said.

When it arrives, people with COVID-19 will die not just because of the virus, but because the hospital will have nowhere to put them and no one to help them. Doctors will have to decide who to put on a ventilator or a dialysis machine. They’ll have to choose whether to abandon entire groups of patients who can’t get help elsewhere. While cities like New York and Boston have many big hospitals that can care for advanced strokes, failing hearts that need mechanical support, and transplanted organs, “in this region, we’re it,” Johnson says. “We provide care that can’t be provided at any other hospital for a 200-mile radius. We’re going to need to decide if we continue to offer that care, or if we admit every single COVID-19 patient who comes through our door.”

During the spring, most of UNMC’s COVID-19 patients were either elderly people from nursing homes or workers in meatpacking plants and factories. But with the third national surge, “all the trends have gone out the window,” Sarah Swistak, a staff nurse, told me. “From the 90-year-old with every comorbidity listed to the 30-year-old who is the picture of perfect health, they’re all requiring oxygen because they’re so short of breath.”

This lack of pattern is a pattern in itself, and suggests that there’s no single explanation for the current surge. Nebraska reopened too early, “when we didn’t have enough control, and in the absence of a mask mandate,” Cawcutt says. Pandemic fatigue set in. Weddings that were postponed from the spring took place in the fall. Customers packed into indoor spaces, like bars and restaurants, where the virus most easily finds new hosts. Colleges resumed in-person classes. UNMC is struggling not because of any one super-spreading event, but because of the cumulative toll of millions of bad decisions.

When the hospital first faced the pandemic in the spring, “I was buoyed by the realization that everyone in America was doing their part to slow down the spread,” Johnson says. “Now I know friends of mine are going about their normal lives, having parties and dinners, and playing sports indoors. It’s very difficult to do this work when we know so many people are not doing their part.” The drive home from the packed hospital takes him past rows of packed restaurants, sporting venues, and parking lots.

To a degree, Johnson sympathizes. “I don’t think people in Omaha thought we could ever have something that resembles New York,” he told me. “To be honest, in the spring, I would have thought it extremely unlikely.” But he adds that the Midwest has taken entirely the wrong lesson from the Northeast’s ordeal. Instead of learning that the pandemic is controllable, and that physical distancing works, people instead internalized “a mistaken belief that every curve that goes up must come down,” he said. “What they don’t realize is that if we don’t change anything about how we’re conducting ourselves, the curve can go up and up.”

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts once again refused to issue a statewide mask mandate. He promised to tighten restrictions once a quarter of the state’s beds are filled with COVID-19 patients, but even then, some restaurants will still offer indoor dining; gyms and churches will remain open; and groups of 10 people will still be able to gather in enclosed spaces. Ricketts urged Nebraskans to avoid close contact, confined areas, and crowds, but his policies nullify his pleas. “People have the mistaken belief that if the government allows them to do something, it is safe to do,” Johnson said.

There are signs that citizens and businesses are acting ahead of policy makers. Some restaurants are ceasing indoor dining even without a prohibition. Parents are pulling their children out of schools and sports leagues. “I have heard from more friends and family about COVID-19 in the last two weeks than I have in the previous six months, expressing support and a change in attitudes,” Johnson said.

But COVID-19 works slowly. It takes several days for infected people to show symptoms, a dozen more for newly diagnosed cases to wend their way to hospitals, and even more for the sickest of patients to die. These lags mean that the pandemic’s near-term future is always set, baked in by the choices of the past. It means that Ricketts is already too late to stop whatever UNMC will face in the coming weeks (but not too late to spare the hospital further grief next month). It means that some of the people who get infected over Thanksgiving will struggle to enter packed hospitals by the middle of December, and be in the ground by Christmas.

Officially, Nebraska has 4,223 hospital beds, of which 1,165—27 percent—are still available. But that figure is deceptive. It includes beds for labor and deliveries, as well as pediatric beds that cannot be repurposed. It also says nothing about how stretched hospitals have already become in their efforts to create capacity. UNMC has postponed elective surgeries—those which could be deferred for four to 12 weeks. Patients with strokes and other urgent traumas aren’t getting the normal level of attention, because the pandemic is so all-consuming. Clinical research has stopped because research nurses are now COVID-19 nurses. The hospital is forced to turn down many requests to take in patients from rural hospitals and neighboring states that are themselves almost out of beds.

Empty hospital beds might as well be hotel beds without doctors and nurses to staff them. And though health-care workers are resilient, “many of us feel like we haven’t had a day off since this thing began,” Hewlett says. The current surge is pushing them to the limit because people with COVID-19 are far sicker than the average patient. In an ICU, they need twice as much attention for three times the usual stay. To care for them, UNMC’s nurses and respiratory therapists are now doing mandatory overtime. The hospital has tried to hire travel nurses, but with the entire country calling for help, the pool of reinforcements is dry. “Even before COVID-19 hit, we were short-staffed,” says Becky Long, a lead nurse on a COVID ICU floor. Of late, there have been days when the hospital had 45 to 60 fewer nurses than it needed. “Every time I’ve been at work, I’ve thought: This is going to be the final straw. But somehow we continue to make it work, and I truly have no idea how.”

Before COVID-19, Long worked in oncology. Death is no stranger to her, but she tells me she can barely comprehend the amount she has seen in recent weeks. “I used to be able to leave work at work, but with the pandemic, it follows me everywhere I go,” she said. “It’s all I see when I come home, when I look at my kids.”

Long and other nurses have told many families that they can’t see their dying loved ones, and then sat with those patients so they didn’t have to die alone. Lindsay Ivener, a staff nurse, told me that COVID-19 had recently killed an elderly woman whom she was caring for, the woman’s husband, and one of her grandchildren. A second grandchild had just been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. “It just tore this whole family apart in a month,” Ivener said. “I couldn’t even cry. I didn’t have the energy.”

Until recently, Ivener worked in corporate America as a retail buyer and inventory manager. Wanting to help people, she retrained as a nurse and graduated this May. “I’ve only worked as a nurse during a pandemic,” she told me. “It’s got to get better, right?”

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Christian Hypocrisy

It is a few years ago that one of my readers suggested that Trump was sent by God to rule and govern the United States. Of course, I knew why the person was saying that. She was one of the evangelicals whose world view is dominated by their very own interpretation of the bible. 
However, it is most amazing how the view of these people varies depending on which person they are talking about. 

Here is a 2018 article written by NC Christian Pastor John Pavlovitz:

Dear White Evangelicals,

I need to tell you something: People have had it with you. They’re done. They want nothing to do with you any longer, and here’s why:

They see your hypocrisy, your inconsistency, your incredibly selective mercy, and your thinly veiled supremacy.

For eight years they watched you relentlessly demonize a black President; a man faithfully married for 26 years; a doting father and husband without a hint of moral scandal or the slightest whiff of infidelity. They watched you deny his personal faith convictions, argue his birthplace, and assail his character — all without cause or evidence. They saw you brandish Scriptures to malign him and use the laziest of racial stereotypes in criticizing him.

And through it all, Christians — you never once suggested that God placed him where he was, you never publicly offered prayers for him and his family, you never welcomed him to your Christian Universities, you never gave him the benefit of the doubt in any instance, you never spoke of offering him forgiveness or mercy, your evangelists never publicly thanked God for his leadership, your pastors never took to the pulpit to offer solidarity with him, you never made any effort to affirm his humanity or show the love of Jesus to him in any quantifiable measure.

You violently opposed him at every single turn — without offering a single ounce of the grace you claim the heart of your faith tradition. You jettisoned Jesus as you dispensed damnation on him. And yet today, you openly give a “mulligan” to a white Republican man so riddled with depravity, so littered with extramarital affairs, so unapologetically vile, with such a vast resume of moral filth — that the mind boggles.

And the change in you is unmistakable. It has been an astonishing conversion to behold. With him, you suddenly find religion. With him, you’re now willing to offer full absolution. With him, all is forgiven without repentance or admission. With him you’re suddenly able to see some invisible, deeply buried heart. With him, sin has become unimportant, compassion no longer a requirement. With him, you see only Providence.

And white Evangelical, all those people who have had it with you — see it all clearly. They recognize the toxic source of your duality. They see that pigmentation and party are your sole religion.

They see that you aren’t interested in perpetuating the love of God or emulating the heart of Jesus. They see that you aren’t burdened to love the least, or to be agents of compassion, or to care for your Muslim, gay, African, female, or poor neighbors as yourself. They see that all you’re really interested in doing, is making a God in your own ivory image and demanding that the world bow down to it. They recognize this all about white, Republican Jesus, not dark-skinned Jesus of Nazareth.

And I know you don’t realize it but your digging your own grave in these days; the grave of your very faith tradition. Your willingness to align yourself with cruelty is a costly marriage. Yes, you’ve gained a Supreme Court seat, a few months with the Presidency as a mouthpiece, and the cheap high of temporary power — but you’ve lost a whole lot more.

You’ve lost an audience with millions of wise, decent, good-hearted, faithful people with eyes to see this ugliness. You’ve lost any moral high ground or spiritual authority with a generation. You’ve lost any semblance of Christlikeness. You’ve lost the plot. And most of all you’ve lost your soul.

I know it’s likely you’ll dismiss these words. The fact that you’ve even made your bed with such malevolence, shows how far gone you are and how insulated you are from the reality in front of you.

But I had to at least try and reach you. It’s what Jesus would do. Maybe you need to read what he said again — if he still matters to you.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Are YOU OK With This?


Donald Trump’s Deadly 

Last Stand

By Greg Gonsalves THE NATION

The Republican delay in acknowledging defeat and facilitating the transition will be literally fatal to thousands of Americans.

There are now fewer than 70 days to go until the inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States. No matter which candidate you supported in the Democratic primaries, many of us breathed a sigh of relief as the election was called for the former vice president four days after people went to the polls.

As an epidemiologist, watching this pandemic unfold in this country with a ferocity that is still unabated, a weight was lifted off me and others in public health. Finally, we had actually turned a corner. With the announcement of President-elect Biden’s Covid-19 Task Force, which will put a roster of well-known, solid leaders in health at the table, the prospect of normal competence in our pandemic response was—is—now tantalizingly close.

But then. President Donald Trump refuses to concede. He has blocked any transition activities from happening, meaning the usual communications and discussions between incoming and outgoing administration officials isn’t occurring. In ordinary times, this would be a scandal; no sitting president has refused to concede an election and blocked the transition of power like this. Even in normal times, such petulance would be antidemocratic, putschist.

In a pandemic, when time is of the essence, these delays are catastrophic. Cases of Covid-19 are skyrocketing in the United States. On November 10, we had close to 140,000 new cases—an almost 70 percent increase from the previous two weeks and with cumulative cases now passing the 10 million person threshold. We’re well over 1,000 deaths per day now, too, with close to 1,500 as of November 10 and with cumulative deaths now just over 240,000 men, women, and children in our country Instead of breaking with the president, even as world leaders congratulate Biden on his victory, almost all of the GOP members of Congress, the Republican Party—and our own Russia Today, Fox News—have indulged Trump’s antics, risking a protracted stalemate on a transition that drags on for weeks. Count the dead: 1,000 per day, to be conservative. In a week, there will be 7,000 dead. In two weeks, 14,000 bodies buried in the cold, hard ground.

Many of us have been saying for months that this winter was going to be grim. Such predictions were not difficult to make in the context of a complete abdication of federal response to the pandemic, with mini-me Republican governors aping Trump’s nonchalance around the country. But although winter doesn’t actually start until December, the flood of viral transmission we expected—with cooler weather driving people indoors, with all of us tired, just exhausted and frustrated with social distancing measures, and with no visible support from our leaders—is here now.

It’s not clear people recognize the new danger in our midst. As the election returns intimated, many Americans have experienced this pandemic as an economic and social disaster—not an epidemiological one. Many people in the United States still don’t know someone who has contracted SARS-CoV-2, let alone died of Covid-19. So even news reports of a viral resurgence aren’t having the same effect as the first reports of the pandemic in the late winter last year did, prompting many people to shelter in place of their own volition. Right now, most new infections are happening in small social gatherings at home. As the holidays approach, as we crave the social connection we’ve all missed for most of this year, the chance for the virus to party-crash Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s celebrations is high. Set another chair for SARS-CoV-2.

As if the last 70 days of the Trump administration couldn’t get any worse, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that he has no appetite for pandemic relief of any useful size, telling the press: “I don’t think the current situation demands a multi-trillion dollar package. So I think it should be highly targeted, very similar to what I put on the floor in both October and September.” McConnell, of course, hasn’t crunched the numbers with epidemiologists, physicians, public health experts, or economists at his side.

Most people who actually know anything about the virus and its downstream economic and social effects recognize that a massive relief package is needed right now to put into place the public health measures that the current administration has ignored. We desperately need to get real, substantial support to ordinary Americans—not to the corporations who dined so well on the last pandemic relief bill.

Of course, McConnell doesn’t really care about the pandemic. He will continue to dance his one-note samba of political destruction, seeking to bring down the other party at all costs, even as the dead from Covid-19 pile up around him and the economy lies in ruins. While Trump himself may be gone in January, McConnell has high hopes of still being the majority leader in the Senate. If he is, the relief many of us in public health felt a few days ago will evaporate.

Yes, Biden can try to do things through executive order, to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to urge Americans to follow public health guidance. But the scale of the response we need right now to confront the pandemic and its economic and social costs is nothing short of a domestic Marshall Plan. Right now, McConnell is the one thing blocking our road to recovery. He is even deadlier than a virus.

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Naughty Boy Doesn't Want To Play

I never thought that I would be reminded of my very young days when I was playing outside with the boys from our neighbourhood. There was always one or the other who didn't like to lose the game we had set up and he made a face and went home pouting, instead of rather staying with his friends. 

But I'd be darned if that isn't exactly what we are seeing from the US-President these days. Trump can't stand to lose the election, and after unsuccessfully trying to throw a wrench into the game, he is now pouting in the White House, ignoring his presidential duties and the terrible spread of the Coronavirus. He was so distraught that when he showed up in the rain at Arlington cemetery to honour the fallen war heroes, he saluted under the National Anthem instead of putting his hand on his heart. Besides, he  also showed up 30 minutes late letting military officials wait in the rain. Since then, nobody has seen him nor heard him speak. But twittler is still active on his tweeting account, continuing to spread his unbelievable falsehoods and outright lies. And the deplorables still believe him. A neighbour just told me about a conversation  she'd had with a female Trump voter. She had asked why she hadn't voted for Biden/Harris. The answer will blow you away: "Because I've heard that Biden is a pedophile". I mean this would leave me speechless. Without a shred of evidence these trumpites believe any rumour they come across in right-wing media, but blissfully ignore the truth they could have found in world renown news outlets. So if they can believe Biden is a pedophile, they certainly have no problem believing the election fraud lies coming from the mouth-hole of Trump himself, again entirely ignoring the lack of any evidence, even if Trump's own Department of Homeland Security confirms that the 2020 presidential election was the securest in the history of the U.S. which even some GOP officials have confirmed.

So how is Trump gonna leave office?

Here is what an opinion article said about it:

In order to avoid federal prosecution, Trump has only one viable option. Trump would have to resign even before his term is officially over. The purpose of it being that Pence could pardon the president, as he can't pardon himself.

An interesting thought, but is it possible? Can Trump be pardoned even before federal charges will be levied against him?

The next month will show us what will happen. 

Meanwhile, we have some time to prepare for Christmas.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Denial

 It is a human characteristic to be in denial over a shocking event. Some people have to go through a period of denial when their partner suddenly dies, or they have been diagnosed with a deadly disease. But denial is usually limited to a certain time period, until the unavoidable reality sinks in.

But narcissists can be different. They have problems being confronted with reality and will stay in denial for good.

Trump is such a person. Trump cannot lose. Trump is a narcissist. If he loses he's gonna "die". At least that is how he feels, and that is the reason why he won't accept his election loss. For his part, I am not surprised.

What is more astonishing is that the GOP still hasn't realized that they are passengers on a sinking ship. Trump is gonna be entirely useless for them and if they wouldn't have nominated this moron, they could have won the election fair and square. Well, denial can be a bad thing, as it leads to disastrous decisions. The future will show them where they went wrong. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Almost Done!


 CONGRATULATIONS!

Even though the formal announcement has not been made yet, we all know who is gonna be the 46th President of the United States. 

CANADA celebrates with you and Canadians have been glued to the screens of computers and TVs since Tuesday evening. We have lost sleep on your behalf and we are overjoyed that you have managed to take your country back from the brink of destruction. No doubt, your vote for Biden/Harris has saved your democracy. And the world is letting out a breath of relief. 

What you pulled off, has saved you from seeing your health care being wiped out by a gang of criminals in the White House, and their daily lies will not be part of your lives any more. Instead of further division you will see unity return, even it may take some time.  Humanity will prevail. The Nation can now retake its seat in the international community and rejoin international treaties.  Respect for the United States can now be rebuilt. Your friends in Canada will be eager to re-visit your country. 

Beginning with the formal announcement, your flag will fly for 3 days and 3 nights from our front porch. It was put away in a dark place 4 years ago. It will be out in the open again soon.

All the best...your neighbours in CANADA!

Update: It's only been a few hours when the announcement about Biden's win came on the news. I went to the flag closet and took out the American flag. It is now hanging off of our porch. Americans should now use the time to rebuild neighbourhood relationships. Also, if you have family members who didn't talk to you since Trump split you apart, call them, invite them and heal together. Time will help you to overcome the division which has kept you apart. Work with your local and state government for the common good and build bridges together.
Remember, life is too short to fight all the time. Be kind and enjoy and you'll be happy!




Sunday, November 1, 2020

Maybe Texas Should Be Kicked Out Of The Union

 


During the heydays of the Wild West, bandits came riding on their horses to stop and rob the stage coach, and more often then not they got away with their booty. But when not, the next gallows weren't too far away.

In Texas, those days are still very much alive. Difference is the way they stop their prey. Instead of horses they came with scores of Trump-decorated trucks. In a dangerous highway maneuver those would-be cowboys stopped a Biden-Harris campaign bus on the I-35 between San Antonio and Austin the other day, the campaign crew whipped out their cell phone and called 911. Local law enforcement had to get out and accompany the bus to its destination.

If Texans think this was an appropriate  action they do not deserve to be part of the Nation and should be kicked out the sooner the better. Alternatively, they can re-commission the hanging-tree outside of the courthouse and start removing those highway idiots from the face of the earth.

The story tells us that American democracy is under attack. Trump has riled up the dumb and uneducated masses of the country to play cowboy on the highway. America is rotting away from within, a destiny which it shares with the Roman and Greek Empires, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Soviet Union. 

Congratulations! The world leadership will now be shared between the Chinese and the Russians. That's what you wanted, right?

Saturday, October 24, 2020

You Are A Canadian Snowbird, So What Are Your Plans?

 Leaving Canada during the long and cold winter has been a Canadian staple for decades. Thousands have gone south before winter came to their town or village. Florida and the South-West have been the most popular destinations. Starting in 2005, we did it ourselves until the winter 2013/14. Then our dog got old and didn't like to travel, so we stayed home. But dialing back to 2008, we had sold our property and became fulltimers. During that time plans were discussed to continue full-timing, but ultimately we ended up buying another property in Maritime Canada. And we started to enjoy celebrating Christmas at home. It was fun too.

Meanwhile, many of our friends continued with their snowbird commute, and of course some times we thought about doing it again as well, and this year we bought an RV again, making plans for a trip south to the desert of the South-West. But then Covid-19 came making any further thoughts of a warm winter in the desert pointless.

Just like us, tens of thousands of Canadian Snowbirds will have to accept the new harsh reality. And those who have a comfortable home, like us, may still have a  tear in one eye, but at least can settle in with a homey fire in the oven instead  of sitting by a roaring campfire. 

But what about the others? Those who were fulltimers before Covid turned the world upside down? Some might trek over to Vancouver Island or the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, both places are known for milder winters. Some have to rent an apartment or move in with family and relatives.

When we considered going full-timing for good Bea argued that we could be in trouble if one of us gets sick, preventing us from going south. The fact that an outside enemy like the Coronavirus would play the deciding role never occurred in our thoughts. But here we are getting ready for snow and another winter up north. Not a tragedy, of course, just not what we had in mind.

And what is the outlook for the winter 2021/22?

Right now I would advise anybody not having a winter home, "Get One". We feel very strongly that we will have to stay yet another winter away from the desert dunes. The fact that the United States does not even make a serious attempt to rein in the spread of the virus and that daily infections will reach 6-digit numbers in a very short time and that the total death toll will go to 500.000 during the first 4-6 months of 2021 with no distributed vaccine available until earliest June 2021, would make it still quite questionable whether a snowbird winter 2021/22 is realistic.  Even though it wouldn't be what we want, it would still be doable for us.  And come summer we have our trailer rented out to make us $$$.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hero Of The Week: Ms. Savannah (GUTS) Guthrie

"YOU ARE NOT LIKE SOMEONE'S CRAZY UNCLE. YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT!"

The now famous statement came from Savannah Guthrie, who was moderating Trump at the town hall meeting in Miami, when reminding him he as the president should refrain from retweeting any and every statement he sees on twitter.
But after 4 years of practicing, president "twittler" will most likely not change his "crazy" behavior. He truly enjoys his role as someone's crazy uncle.
Ms. Guthrie had the guts to confront Trump in the most direct way and was able to uncover that Trump indeed is America's crazy uncle, who throws out wild statements when he is getting most desperate to lose the election.
There have been many WH press briefings when Trump had been confronted by journalists on certain topics, and where he has either just left the stage or ignored questions or even insulted the asking journalist. But what Ms. Guthrie performed was long over due. Her relentless questioning, not letting up while Trump tried to evade answering, showed the weaknesses of this so-called president.

If the circumstances wouldn't be so sad this townhall actually was great entertainment while at the same time showing the American voter the insanity of Trump.

Friday, October 9, 2020

America On The Brink Of Civil War

Is CIVIL WAR coming to America?

The FBI has charged 13 men who have been plotting to kidnap MI-Governor Gretchen Whitmer and "putting her on trial". At the same time we hear Trump demanding to arrest President Obama and Joe Biden for "high crimes". We also heard him call Kamala Harris a "Monster". Trump is still riling up white supremacists and private militias to start a civil war. A threatening letter has been sent to people who have Biden lawn signs out front. Homeland security has already warned the public of wide-spread unrest.

According to reports, the letter warns: "If you are a Biden-Harris supporter, you will be targeted. We have a list of homes by your election signs. We will not comply or give anything up, especially our guns."

The letter also threatens to shoot and kill former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt against her in Arizona which went on to leave six people dead. She has since gone on to launch the anti-gun violence group.

This is serious behavior which should not be tolerated. If US law enforcement is not clamping down on any such violation, it will end in a civil war. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada must prepare for "public disruptions" in the US, but refrained from weighing in on US politics.

The Canada border is currently closed because of Covid-19. After the election it might still stay closed because of an outbreak of civil war in the US.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Thursday Walk With Dixie

October is between the most windy months of the year here on the island, and today we got another proof of that. I am pretty sure that we had about 50 mph. wind speeds this afternoon. But you what? It was sunny. Yes, we had a beautiful sunny day, though it hadn't been looking like that early on. But more often than not, the clouds gave way to the sun and there was nothing holding me inside anymore. So when I suggested a "family walk" in the woods, we got all ready in a heartbeat. I mean, Dixie is always looking forward to an outing, us humans tend to be more lazy at times. 


We went to "Fx Farm" in the Roosevelt Park. It once was a site for  - yes, a fox farm. From there a brand new  trail leads through a small valley, then going on through a tall forest which eventually ends in a huge bog higher up in the terrain. 



Underway, we saw moose tracks. Luckily, not fresh tracks, probably a few days old. I wouldn't want to meet "The King of the Forest".

Bea was on the outlook for birds she could get a picture of, while I was enjoying the serenity of nature. Down on the trail I couldn't feel much of the storm going on, but the treetops were swaying and there was quite some swishing in the forest. 

These mushrooms are "False Chanterelles" not poisonous, but taste bitter and can cause an upset stomach.

Leaves were falling everywhere. Our good old maple tree in our driveway is gonna be bare of leaves this weekend. But the tree is very old and had been showing signs of its old age for a couple of years. The bark at the lower end is damaged by frost and I guess it can't get enough sap into its top branches anymore. We are facing reality and that we might have to take it down before its becoming a hazard during a powerful storm.

Monday, October 5, 2020

What A Great Day For Yardwork

 Looking out the window this morning, I wasn't too optimistic. A grey sky looking like rain was imminent, was not what I had expected for today. However, checking the weather forecast I eyed some hope as it predicted sunny skies a bit later.

As always I took Dixie along Herring Cove Beach for her morning walk. The new herring weir which has taken several weeks to build, was now finished.

I had a little job for a neighbour, so tending to that was my first task of the day. And lo and behold, I wasn't even quite finished when the sun broke through the clouds.

My spirits lifted immediately and I decided to mow the lawn for another neighbour. 

By lunch it was so warm that I threw off my jacket and started working on my snowblower. I mounted the new pull-start which had arrived in the mail yesterday. The  next thing I expect to arrive by mail is a new carburetor. After that the machine will be ready for a snowy winter. 

Looking around our yard, I found that a last lawn mowing should be in order. So I started my ride-on and had that done in no time at all.

While I had been doing all this, Bea had thrown herself over her garden and harvested many pounds of green tomatoes and carrots. 


Some of those carrots have real strange looking shapes.

Already yesterday, she had made tomato preserves in jars, made chutney and apple sauce for delicious meals during winter. 

What a feast! So much fun to have a garden.

The beauty with all that is that we are never too busy to also take a seat on the porch with a coffee and  a few cookies. Life is good indeed! We love this place and have never regretted to settle out here on the fringe of Canada!

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Gull Has Left The Rock

When the gull has left the rock, it is time to head back.

The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world and when you live along the bay you gotta watch the tides. 

Campobello Island sports one of the oldest lighthouses on the Canadian East Coast. Yearly, The lighthouse attracts around 20,000 visitors. But visiting the beautiful place comes with a challenge as the 5 buildings are located on a separate little rocky island, and to get there you have to deal with the tides. That means you have to wait until upto 25ft of water have vanished exposing a gravel bar, thus offering a way to walk over to said island. This always happens about 2 hours before the lowest tide and lasts for 4hours. With other words, one has to get back before the water is again washing across the gravel bar. Also you have to balance your body along a narrow trail between rocks and slippery seaweeds. To make that trip a bit safer the "Friends of the Head Harbour Lightstation" are offering a collection of walking sticks at the ticket kiosk. Volunteers of the association have worked hard over the years to repair and staff the lightstation. 

When the summer visitors are coming over there are usually knowledgeable volunteers at hand to tell the story of the lightstation.

One day, a couple of years ago, 2 elderly ladies volunteering, were taking a rest on a bench. They had been busy with a variety of maintenance issues and were now just immersed in enjoying the peace and beautiful view across the bay. A lady from Michigan was also on site and the last visitor that day. She too was still admiring the surroundings, when one of the volunteers suddenly shouted: "Oh gosh, the gull has left the rock, we have to rush back". They quickly informed the Michigan lady about what was going on preparing for their hasty departure.

That day, the 3 ladies got their feet wet. But what is it about the gull leaving the rock?

Well, rocks are exposed at low tide, but as the tide comes rushing back the water will swallow them. And that's when the gull too has to leave the rock where its been sitting. When the gull is leaving, it is already a bit too late. You gotta leave before the bird has left the rock. The water rises at 5ft pr. hour.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Summary

 Trump's desperate hours: He was contemptuous of the virus — now it has him trapped

Trump was convinced COVID-19 was nothing — and now it's in the White House. He's a desperate, dangerous man.

LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV

Imagine you're dreaming, and it's a really, really bad dream. It's night, and something is chasing you down a dark street. You're running and running and running, trying to get away. All the windows are dark. No lights are on in any of the houses and apartments along the street. You bang on doors, but no one answers. You try the door handles, but the doors are all locked. When you cry out for help, no words come out of your mouth. No one can hear you. You keep running and running and running…

This is why Donald Trump is awake at 2:30 a.m., rage-tweeting. When he sleeps, he dreams, and his dreams are nightmares. He's a frightened, desperate man. Every day, he turns on his television, and the death count from the COVID-19 virus keeps going up. The economy — the precious economy, the one he's so proud of for no particular reason — is tanking. His poll numbers are down. His approval ratings are down. He's losing to Joe Biden in national polls and in every important swing state. Nothing he does is helping.

He has tried everything to beat the virus. First he denied it was a problem. You remember the quotes from February and March: It's only a few cases. Like magic, it will just go away. Then his people convinced him it wasn't going away, and he had to do something. So he trotted out a string of corporate execs and golf buddies onto a stage in the Rose Garden and declared a national emergency. Surely that would fix things!

But the virus kept spreading, and people were dying. The NBA canceled its season. So did Major League Baseball and NASCAR. Businesses started closing … General Motors, Ford, big businesses — and then small businesses like restaurants and retail stores and salons and barber shops. Unemployment numbers skyrocketed. Six million. Then another five million. Another six million. And those were just the people out of work who actually applied for unemployment benefits.

The virus kept spreading, and people kept dying. Trump called together a "task force" to confront the problem, and he put his vice president in charge. So Mike Pence started holding briefings in the White House press room with input from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the one with the shoulder scarves. When all the networks started covering them and the ratings were through the roof, Trump took over the briefings himself.

But things kept getting worse. The virus was everywhere. Hospitals were running out of protective gear like gowns and masks, emergency rooms were overrun, there was a shortage of ventilators. They had to do something, so they printed up a bunch of cards with "guidelines" for something called social distancing that was supposed to last 15 days.

Then Congress got involved and passed some emergency bills. First it was in the billions, then it was in the trillions. Small business loans, hundreds of billions — gone in a matter of days. And still the unemployment numbers went up.

Then they hit the end of the 15 days, and the death count kept going up, so they extended the "guidelines," and he started pushing a cure his pals were talking about on Fox, some malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine. "What have you got to lose?" he crowed from the podium at the briefings.

Apparently, a lot. People started dying from the hydroxychloroquine, something to do with their hearts. So he stopped pushing the pill, and he pivoted to "opening up" the economy. Away went the "guidelines," and up popped the tweets: LIBERATE Michigan! LIBERATE Virginia! Let's get those businesses up and running! He put out new "guidelines" for opening up the economy. Three phases! Real simple! Just get your numbers of new cases down for 14 days, and everything can start getting back to normal!

About half the states announced relaxation of rules, and businesses began to reopen. But the virus kept spreading. Now it was in rural Georgia and Arkansas and Iowa, all those precious red states he could point to that were "doing things right," that didn't need to be "bailed out" like "Democrat states."

The death count kept increasing, and some idiot in the CDC came up with the theory that sunlight and ultraviolet rays could kill the virus. Bleach and other disinfectants definitely killed it (on countertops, that is), so Trump pushed the "light" and the disinfectants "inside" and his whole house of cards fell apart.

They were making fun of him! All those pundits and newspapers and networks he had been having so much fun yelling at during the briefings … they were laughing at him! So he decided he'd show them! He canceled a few briefings, then he showed up for one and walked out after a few minutes. Then he decided he would announce that he was phasing out the "task force." A day later, he was back in front of the cameras saying he hadn't realized how "popular" the task force was, so of course he'd keep it going — not because the task force was accomplishing anything, but because it was "popular."

But behind the scenes, Trump was getting briefings. Terrible briefings. Really awful stuff. His own campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who was reported to have spent his hefty paycheck from the Trump campaign on condos, a luxury boat and a Ferrari, met with him and showed him his internal poll numbers. They were terrible — worse than the public numbers according to some reports. He blew up at Parscale. He was in a rage, screaming at the poor guy at the top of his lungs. All the stuff he'd been doing — all the briefings, all the guidelines, all the trillions in relief money, all the magic cures — and look where it got him! Nowhere!

This week came the private briefings on the economy. They were terrible, according to NBC News. "Some of the projections showed the unemployment rate skyrocketing above 30 percent and the widespread collapse of small businesses, according to multiple people familiar with the briefings." One projection had more than 50 percent of American small businesses collapsing if the country did not get back to work.

"The projections have infuriated Trump," one source told NBC. "He lost it."

He must have "lost it" again on Friday morning when it was announced that unemployment in April hit 14.7 percent. "I think the real number is probably around 23 or 24 percent. It's devastating," said Neal Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, on the "Today" show.

Trump got away from the White House for the first time this week, traveling to Arizona (a state where his numbers aren't where he wants them to be) to visit a factory that makes face masks. Hovering over a worker wearing a mask who was making masks, Trump didn't wear one. Aides later explained he thought he would look "weak" and "ridiculous" in a face mask.

By Thursday, it was revealed that one of Trump's valets had tested positive for the virus. This is the person who serves Trump his meals and brings him his Diet Cokes. On Friday, we learned that Katie Miller, an aide to Vice President Pence — who is married to Stephen Miller, Trump's most nefarious adviser — had tested positive for the virus. Pence was conspicuously unmasked last week during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, flouting the clinic's rule that everyone wear masks.

Donald Trump has consistently shown contempt for the coronavirus. Now the virus, which has infected 1.3 million people in this country and killed more than 78,000, has made its way into the White House. Experts were saying on Friday that the virus has probably spread completely through the West Wing. Of course it has. Sources told MSNBC that "no one" in the White House has been observing social distance rules or wearing masks.

Trump's arrogance and dithering and denial has cost tens of thousands of American lives and will cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, more. He is the president, and he is supposedly in charge, and nothing he has done has worked. His scattershot plan to "reopen" the economy won't save him. Blaming China or Barack Obama or Joe Biden or anyone else won't save him. He is a defeated, desperate man. We still have to vote in the election in November, but he has already lost. The virus beat him.

And now Trump is at Walter Reed Hospital for contracting Corona Virus. And several of his aides including his campaign manager have the virus. The West Wing is in chaos, and so is the country.