Archive for May, 2020

The new “normal”

Author: admin

A lot of people in our country have spent many years wishing they were living in 1950-1970. Good times. Good music. Good friends doing fun things. They want all that. Again.

The other day at the grocery store, I heard a woman say to the checker, “I’ll be so glad when this virus thing is over and we can get back to normal.” “Normal?” She said “Normal.”

I guess, to her, she meant as life was last February. Or March. Or 1963. “Normal?”

The same word – normal – seems to be what those armed protesters wanted when they stormed a couple of statehouses the other day. “Open up.” “Give us back our freedom.” “Open the bars and restaurants.” “I need a haircut.” “Open it all up so we can get back to ‘normal’.”

Well, let’s see what a piece of our future “normal” will look like after whenever COVID-19 and Trump are no longer threats to our lives. Let’s take just one example: airlines.

There’s a little desert town a few miles from us: Marana, Arizona. You’ve probably never been to Marana, Arizona. But, if you go one day, several miles Northwest of Marana, you’ll find Pima Airpark. It’s got a very long runway, but no control tower. No navigation system. No landing lights. Daylight flying only. A small building for a few workers. Private.

Now, look at the picture above. That’s most of Pima Airpark. Note the little white things. It’s a picture of mostly commercial airplanes and a few, smaller regional aircraft. Jet aircraft. All of ‘em.

They’re being “mothballed.” They’ve been cleaned out inside. Anything that would deteriorate by heat or direct sun has been removed and all windows have been covered by some sort of film. They’re all but abandoned. Asleep.

I count 70. But, the picture is a month old so there’s probably more sitting there now in the same condition. Abandoned. Asleep.

Some belong to United Airlines. Despite being paid several billion dollars in bailout tax dollars last month, United has told employees the company will cut 30% of staff and equipment in October. You see, the bailout had a clause that said United had to keep the present employees for six months. October is the sixth month. Then, CUT.

I don’t know what new work an unemployed flight attendant can find. Same for all the pilots suddenly dumped on the market. But, it doesn’t stop there. Every airline in the country is doing the same. Cutting employees and “mothballing” or outright selling planes to whoever wants one. Or more. At reduced – greatly reduced – prices.

Besides Pima Airpark, there are at least a dozen more just like it in Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada and Southern California. All of ‘em – all – are getting planes to park. Spokesmen for the airline industry verify the numbers and, further, predict no airline will ever return to the size, either in equipment or employees, as they were prior to COVID-19. Additionally, many – many – commercial flight routes will be cut.

Now, how many more airline companies are going through the same downsizing at the moment? And how many sub-contract companies? General Electric, maker of jet engines – and all their suppliers – are laying off. Nobody’s buying jet engines. How about those flight meal providers who will either cut back or close? And the other companies that do regular major FAA-required overhauls of commercial jets in this country and abroad. Thousands of jobs worldwide in just that one support industry.

And, we’re just talking commercial airlines here. What about cruise ship companies and the thousands of businesses that provide the necessary support? Where do a few hundred unemployed first mates or pursers go looking for a job?

You can multiply all this downsizing – and resulting staff reductions – by as many career fields as you can think of. And by any industry/service companies. Whatever your eventual answer, it’ll be anything but “normal” out there. And it’ll be bad in many ways. We already have 35-million out-of-work. How many more coming?

I’ve never been good at predicting the future. But, I can tell you this. Anyone – anyone – who thinks we’re going to see a return of whatever their version of “normal” may be is going to be disappointed.

Life as we remember it – even January or February of this year – that life is gone. Something new awaits. In just about everything.

Between the pandemic and Donald J. Trump, it’s going to be very different. The next eight months – and some years beyond that – will bring great changes. Upheavals, if you will. Governance, industry, science, commercial business, travel, health care, education, society in general – all will not look like we’re used to.

What will our new “normals” look like? How will our lives be different? How far from 1950-1970 will we be?

Will those commercial jets mothballed at Pima Airpark ever fly again? None of us know.

But, here comes our new “normal.”

Selective thinning

Author: admin

Several days ago, Kevin Vesey, a young “reporter” for a TV station in Commack, New York, was sent out to cover a gathering of anti-lockdown folks at the county court house. A rather routine assignment.

I should also note, when he got to the court house, he was the only person present wearing a face mask.

As his cameraman started to shoot, the assemblage of some 50 people – many wearing Trump hats and shirts – turned on our young reporter.

He was confronted with raised, angry voices calling him “fake news” and “libtard” and told to “get out of here.” etc.. Several leaned over the temporary barrier the county had set up and got right in his face until he retreated a few steps. He tried to reason with them but that was a wasted exercise. He got his video and left.

I’d like to report this was out of the ordinary. But, you already know of the armed confrontations at the Michigan and Wisconsin state houses. And there have been more. Florida, Illinois, several in Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma, and here in our desert oasis.

Fact of the matter is, these aren’t peaceful protests. Many border on outright physical confrontations. They’ve become more “in-your-face,” ugly, loud and threatening than we’ve been used to. Most attendees appear to be between 30 and 60. Some carrying sidearms or heavier weaponry. Nearly all include Trump wear and Trump signs.

But, the thing I can’t get my head around is they’re being given tacit approval by the President of the United States. More than that, verbal outpourings of encouragement. Trump didn’t start these angry scenes. But, he lit the match that started the fire. And he seems O.K. with that.

In several confrontations, the anti-lock downers have been joined by the anti-vaxxers. Now, there’s a marriage made in Hell. Nothing good can come from that.

Maybe the most damning evidence of ignorance represented by these cretins is their refusal to accept hard scientific facts in either case. For the anti-lock downers, scientists tell them the most effective thing they can do – short of a proven vaccine – is to just stay home. For the anti-vaxxers, the same learned medical community says evidence proves denying their children typical vaccinations can expose them needlessly to dangerous diseases or even kill ‘em.

And the really hard part is, neither group will listen to the experts – the educated people armed with hard facts. The oft-proven evidence the science is right.

If, like me, you’re occasionally venturing out for groceries or a prescription but, otherwise, staying home, I’d bet you’ve already found “life on the outside” has changed. In some stores, masks are mandatory. Signs on the floors tell you where to stand and clerks remind you to observe “anti-social distancing.” Grocery carts on one side of the entrance have been “sanitized,” the rest haven’t. Most “self-checkout” stations have been shut. And there’s a cover protecting the keypads on credit card machines.

Admittedly, we live in adjoining communities of about 90-thousand seniors. So, a lot of folks are used to staying home. That means, even though movie houses are reopening, there are lots of empty seats. Very few takers for the brew pubs now back in business. Not even lines at Golden Corral.

But, that’s not the case everywhere. Seems there are plenty of others willing to test their immune systems against COVID-19. Traffic on our streets is back to its hectic – and dangerous – level. Newly reopened stores seem filled with the adventurous. Parking lots are busy. Looks almost normal.

Many seniors hereabouts are ignoring the “back-to-business-as-usual” entreaties of our pres-ee-dent. Most folks, I’d guess, are in the Dr. Fauci camp, awaiting more scientific disclosures. We want to hear more about vaccine development and testing. We’re awaiting the flattening of more of the important statistical curves being watched by the medical folks.

We’ve already seen hard evidence brought about by those who’ve taken this Coronavirus business too lightly. In Texas, where the top two officeholders are Trumpers, the early openings of a few weeks ago, are coming back to haunt them. Their curve is ascending while the one in New York – the most devastated state yet – is beginning to flatten.

Other states would be wise to follow daily events in New York. Hit harder than anyplace else, authorities there have used many effective tools to get things under control. More than 19-million people have begun to turn things around. There are many important lessons to be learned from their experiences.

Americans are not used to being cooped up. We’re unaccustomed to having our “liberties” curtailed, even if told “shelter-in-place” is the best advice. We, more than any other nation, are a mobile society, used to responding to our urges.

This “stay-at-home” business is not some sort of “deep state” plot. It’s not the Clintons or the Obamas running some scam on society.

In a few weeks, we’ll know a lot more about resuming our normal activities. We’ll have statistical evidence from those states that have opened up. We’ll know more about the likely contagion – if any – brought about by being part of the crowds we’re seeing today. A few weeks will tell us a lot.

Trump is not the “pied piper” of the nation he thinks he is. Oh, there’ll be those who continue dancing to his melodies. They’ll continue their protests and confrontations. They’ll do so in their loud and angry crowds. The sorts of crowds the experts have told us to avoid.

Maybe we’ll see some “selective thinning.”

A post-coronavirus world

Author: admin

Ever sat in a constitutional law class taught by a sheriff? No? Didn’t think so.

But, here, in our cactus-littered state, several of said lawmen have declared the governor’s “stay-at-home” order unconstitutional and say they won’t enforce it. Scholars? Probably not.

In a small, rather independent community about 30 miles Northwest of us, three restaurants are serving meals despite said order. Confronted by local cops, one of the owners – proud of her “Trump 2020″ shirt – said she’d keep serving because she, too, believed efforts to close her joint were “unconstitutional.”

Amazing how many regular folks have read – and understand – our Constitution. Just amazing. I’ve been waiting for one of what passes for reporters these days to just ask “Which part of the constitution do you find fault with? Which section?” Alas, it hasn’t happened.

Lots of other businesses are ignoring our Guv. In fact, it’s pretty close to “normal” around here. Seems those in charge of enforcement are part of the problem, too.

By now, we’re all familiar with those armed idiots who charged into the Michigan Statehouse. Got right up in the faces of the masked state troopers who held the line. Got right in their faces.

A Facebook friend calls such armed nutcases “ammosexuals.” I think he’s got it right. AK-47’s and large handguns seem to loosen the same endorphins or whatever is felt during an amorous adventure. I can see them, sitting around the bars they so badly want reopened, saying “Mine’s bigger than yours.”

People from coast to coast are out frolicking about as if the disease that’s killed more than 80,000 is gone and “happy days are here again.” When an officer in Texas tried to get a crowd to “socially distance,” they pushed him into a lake.

The scary thing here is a distinct minority has forced a spineless set of politicians to put every damned one of us in a much larger majority at risk of dying! Since when does some “ammosexual’s” right to belly up to his favorite bar become more important than security of the rest of us?

History scholars tell us when the social pendulum swings too far in one direction, it eventually swings too far in the opposite direction, That being said, when our current pendulum begins to move back towards the center, where will the center be and what will that look like? Things are not going to return to “normal,” whatever your definition of that word may be.
Case in point: United Airlines. UA received several billion dollars in our last Coronavirus “relief” bill with the stipulation it keep all employees on-board for six months. With that being agreed to, UA has notified several thousand employees – 30-per cent of the workforce – they’ll be terminated in October and UA will, henceforth, operate on a much smaller basis as it sells off a major portion of its aircraft.

UA makes permanent cuts and General Electric, which makes jet engines, does the same because UA and other airlines won’t be buying new planes. So, suppliers of parts to GE around the world are laying off thousands more. And Boeing. And Airbus in Europe. And their suppliers.

That’s just one example among many, many more. There will be no return to “normal” when the virus goes away. We’re entering a period of profound change – in nearly everything.

Education: the way teachers teach and the way kids learn. The current period of “distance learning” via the I-Net is living proof. It’s also proof a large portion of kids don’t have I-Net access. That’s got to change. And it will. So, methods of instruction will have to adapt.

Homelessness and people without even basic health care. Those things will change. They must! Because providers – society as we know it – can’t survive the economic costs of millions of people overwhelming our systems of health care.

As we change in protecting our personal lives brought on by COVID-19, it’s foolish to believe all the other amenities of life won’t have to undergo major overhauls. The way we buy cars. The life-altering way we use the I-Net for shopping, medical care, entertainment, personal contact, banking, social activities. And more and more. And more.

But, as all this whirls about us, what about the “ammosexuals,” the small minorities to which politicians genuflect? The “base.” How long will we allow the malcontents, the few loud voices, the dangerously uninformed and the deniers of facts to intimidate the much larger majority?

Someone – or hundreds of someones – who shove AR-15’s in the faces of law enforcement can’t be allowed to do such things with impunity. Politicians, who react in fear of these cretins, can’t be allowed to remain in positions of authority when that authority bows to civil disobedience. We, in the majority, must end that.

We’re facing a much different world – a much different living environment – when this worldwide pandemic is over. A year or two or three or four from now. However long it takes for this incessant, life-threatening virus to be eradicated.

How far will the pendulum swing in the opposite direction? How far will the majority let it go before it silences the voices of discontent? Of dissent. Of ignorance.

How far?

Just thinking

Author: admin

Between our deadly pandemic and Trump’s pathological bloviating, there’s not much air left in the room. So, this is sort of a mental grab bag of disassociated thoughts.

I found it odd when Jared K took to the “boob tube” to announce the “good” news that “victory” has been achieved in our intensive battle with Covid-19. Apparently the deaths of 64,000 Americans because of that virus was an acceptable loss. “Victory?”

Jared, my boy. Your daddy’s HHS department just ordered 100,000 new body bags. Can you make the connection? “Victory?”

At last count, the publicly known deaths among medical personnel on the front lines totaled 21. There are probably more. Dedicated to their work and dead because they took on the virus face-to-face. Not sure how Jared would spin that but he’d find something.

Though no responsible agency around our parts will tell us exact numbers, we know about 120 citizens in our triple 55-plus retirement communities have been infected. That’s 120 out of about 90,000 gray hairs. Don’t know exactly how many have died but likely some have. One thing we do know. There’ll be more.

It’ll be interesting – and terribly sad – a few months from now, when we see the national and worldwide numbers of how many were affected by the virus. And how many perished.

We noted the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds have been buzzing various big city hospitals in a salute to front line health care workers. Not to be outdone, residents of Sun City West came up with their own special way of honoring the same. Did so with a parade of golf carts. Some 300 of them. Many with flags and banners. You shoulda seen it.

Unlike a lot of other Republican governors, ours has kept the lid on until mid-May at the earliest. I asked wife Barbara last evening if she’d go to church Sunday if allowed. My always thoughtful spouse, who takes a moment to consider her responses, immediately snapped “NO!” To which I silently agreed.

Our Pres-ee-dent has called the armed protestors demanding everything be opened up “good people. Some guy, with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder, demanding his favorite bar be unlocked, does not qualify as a “good person” in our neighborhood.

Odd how some of those “good people,” who’ve been screaming about immigrants “taking their jobs,” are now demanding some of those same folk leave the safety of their homes to clean “citizen” houses, mow their lawns and take away their garbage. Just odd.

Governors who’ve chosen to throw the doors wide open are pretty pleased with themselves right now. Doing just what their “leader” wanted. Downright pleased. Well, in a few weeks, those same governors may well find themselves complaining about the rise in hospital admissions. And renewed demands for front line medical supplies. And renewed death counts. Just saying.

Grocery stores in these parts have begun stocking up on occasional TP and paper towels. Somehow, in our preparations for staying put, we’ve got about as much TP in the garage as a Hilton hotel. Guess we didn’t coordinate our shopping lists in March.

In our occasional runs to the store for perishables, it’s been a joy to have so little traffic on our excellent roads. Not only are other seniors around us hunkered down but many of the Snowbirds have “flown the coop.” Canadians have to get home now because their visas are only good for six months. The other “birds” noted the 102 temps last week and decided the Dakotas, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois environs were more suitable.

Most seniors hereabouts are wearing face masks. That’s good. But, if like me, you have to occasionally rely on lip reading, makes it tough to order a latte with just the right ingredients.

We’ve adjusted to “attending” church online. Some medical appointments have been cancelled. But, on the whole, this penned-in life has not changed things a lot. At least not until you get the sudden urge for a burger and a beer. Just not the same in your own kitchen.

We sadly note some 35-million people have filed for unemployment support. Many others have tried to do so but haven’t been successful. The important questions now are how long will this shutdown last and how long can states keep sending out those checks.

Some at CDC are seriously predicting this Covid-19 bug may be around for a year or two more. Very bad news! Many states are already on the edge of bankruptcy. The fed can’t keep printing money to meet continuing demands. At some point the till runs dry.

What then?

As I said at the top, some disassociated thoughts. That kind of describes all of our lives these days. Disassociated. We keep hearing the bad medical news and having to listen to our truth-challenged occupant of the White House using TV time for medical updates as platforms for “distanced” political rallies.

His son-in-law may believe we’ve achieved some sort of “victory” in our Coronavirus fight. But, the final body count isn’t in yet. The war’s not won.