Pity party

Midstream 2020 is turning out to be a tough time to stay positive. The news is unrelenting and bad.

  • Scientists in Spain published a study that indicates that herd immunity may not be possible with COVID-19. So there’s one less way out of the pandemic.
  • Trump has gone full-on despot, not even trying to hide his more repulsive tendencies on race and culture. And 40% of Americans will still vote for him.
  • I think there’s a big day of reckoning coming in Q3 for financial markets. The US government’s propping up of citizen and corporate income can’t go on forever, and is scheduled to end in Q3. Many jobs and companies just aren’t coming back. Unemployment numbers will rise again quickly and families’ inability to withstand another 6+ months without income will become yet another crisis. I think the second half of the year is going to be a financial shitshow.
  • We’ve pretty much lost the pandemic battle in America. The huge, 50,000 case per day spike we’re seeing now is due to stupidity around Memorial Day and the start of summer. Right about the time that starts dropping we’ll get an equally large spike in cases due to the same stupidity demonstrated during July 4th. IF (and it’s a huge if) people started behaving rationally we could get some control of the disease and be on a downward trend by October. But that’s not likely to happen, meaning we’ll need to stay in semi-quarantine for all of 2020. And perhaps longer.
  • I don’t see any way that air travel becomes really safe this year. So if I’m going to see my KY family again in 2020, it means another cross-country drive. Gonna have to get mentally tough for that.
  • I don’t see any way that college basketball can be played this year. I know, this is small potatoes compared to the world’s real problems, but I love me some KY basketball. I look forward to it every year. It’s just one more thing to mourn a little.
  • And….my health is really shaky. I can’t decide or know if my constant tiredness is just (a) old age and not enough exercise (increasingly bad knee joint), or (b) an aftereffect of the long unidentified sickness I had during February and March. All I know is a year ago I could walk 18 holes and carry my clubs. Now I’d have trouble walking three holes, clubs or not.
    • Update on health – turns out the knee replacement surgery I had scheduled for April 2020 will now not take place this year. Kaiser is 6-7 months behind on their ortho surgeries, so I’m just going to have to live with significant knee pain for the foreseeable future. I know, not a disaster relative to other ills of the world, but just one more damn thing to deal with. As I think Will Rogers said (I can’t confirm the quote) , “The only minor medical problem is someone else’s”.

So yeah, I’m a little negative right now. Intellectually I know I have much to be thankful for, but emotionally there’s a lot to take in. I’ll chalk this whiny little essay up to getting it out of my system and just move on to a more productive mindset.



Back to the daily grind

I worked hard on my novel during April and May, taking advantage of the early days of quarantine. I spent most of June on my trip to KY and back, therefore got almost no writing done. My focus and energy were elsewhere, deservedly. But now that I’m back in Socal and the need to stay cloistered away is still present, it’s time to get back to writing and complete the second draft of Lost Hope. I have characters to  flesh out, scene descriptions to improve, dead ends to cut out (I *hate* having to reduce the wordcount, but if a section doesn’t advance the story, it needs to go), and structure to add/improve.

Getting the first draft done was a big achievement. I think the second draft will be a little tougher, as I have to fix all the rookie mistakes I’ve made. But I’m looking forward to producing a draft that I wouldn’t mind showing to others. My newfound friend and veteran author David Putnam  sent some kind words my way via Goodreads that has helped get me re-energized to do the work. Looking ahead at my schedule there’s no reason I can’t have the second draft done by the end of July. Wish me luck.

Back in Socal

(Slightly off-center photo above taken proudly by grandson Hudson, using my trusty Fuji mirrorless camera.)

After another marathon three day drive, this time westward, I’m back in Socal. Those driving days are really something – each day has a rhythm that I now understand and can work through. The first three hours are easy. By the end of the second three hours I’m tired and sleepy, and need something to distract me – a phone call, loud(er) music, a great extended NPR story – something. The third 3-4 hours are just an exercise in willpower and staying focused on the goal. It really helps me to have a definite goal/destination/reservation, because otherwise about seven hours in I’d say fuck it, I’m ready to stop. And I would. But my ten hours/day plan worked, I’m happy to say. I’m thankful I only had to do it three days running – each day I was a little more worn out.

I have mixed feelings about this journey. Not either destination, but the drive itself. On one hand hundreds (thousands?) of people do it all the time, aka truckers. So it’s not exactly a monumental human achievement. On the other hand, I’m not young any more and I’m proud that I had the willpower to make the trip. It feels good to have done it, and the journey and the impetus (grandkids) are things I will always remember.

Since returning home, the only notable thing that’s happened is a large leak in our water system. The day after I arrived we noticed water pushing up through the blacktop near the guest house. Not good. After a couple of days of worry and troubleshooting, it looks like that is nothing more than a big root that cracked a two inch PVC irrigation line. It’s getting fixed as I write.

Here are some one-liner thoughts as I mull over memories of the drive west:

  • The simple description of a three-zone country is so accurate. The green zone east of the Mississippi, the Great Plains, and then the western desert. Throw in a mountain or two, and that’s pretty much it.
  • My radar detector was helpful in keeping my anxiety down, but probably not that helpful in actually avoiding tickets. I tended to drive at the speed limit plus 9-10 mph, figuring I wouldn’t get pulled over for that.
  • The BMW’s nav system was super helpful. I now know pretty much all its nuances, and I got a lot of benefit from it both on the open road and in Louisville.
  • T-Mobile’s coverage across the Great Plains is awful. I had long periods with no coverage on a major interstate highway. So much for the “best network”.
  • Costco’s packaged hard boiled, peeled eggs are a great road snack. Same for their dried beef snacks.
  • Who in the hell is Kruangbin? I heard a lot of their music on the road, particularly teamed up with Leon Bridges. I could listen to Texas Sun all day.
  • I also decided I like Tame Impala a lot.
  • The last driving leg into Socal was a real shocker. After 2000 miles of fairly open road, the traffic as I approached Riverside at midday was horrific. Our little part of Socal is peaceful and green, but not far from home – it’s pretty grim. Crowded, hot and desolate.

That’s about it. Happy 4th of July weekend to everyone!