S-day

Well, it’s finally here. Surgery day. Can’t think of anything witty to say. I feel a lot like I did last year when I jumped off the Oceanside pier (for a charity event; I’m not completely deranged). Made the decision, climbed up on the rail and nothing left to do but jump. That’s actually a great analogy, because the swim back to shore (in this case, the PT and rehab) was much tougher than the jump. Here goes…

Things to look forward to

I fully expect the summer of 2021 to be awesome. First, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to travel again, by air, at least in the US. And, my repaired knee should be in fine shape by then. Get ready for some passengers, SW Air.

Second, Season 4 of Yellowstone is scheduled to start on the 2021 summer solstice, June 20th. Can’t wait.

Weekend notes

I’ve been watching the World ‘O Meter stats lately, and the US has settled into a predictable rhythm of 50K new coronavirus cases per day and 1100 deaths per day. Unless something in our behavior changes, I suspect this pattern will continue until there’s a vaccine. If that is the case, then by the end of 2020 we’ll have 322,000 Americans dead of COVID-19. That’s an awful thought, but right now I don’t see any way to avoid it.

My surgery day is coming up fast, and I have to admit, it’s messing with my head. Lots of introspection and “what ifs” happening. Odds of a worst-case outcome are small – one in 200, or 0.5% – but, that doesn’t stop the wondering. Sometimes an active mind and imagination aren’t a good thing.

My friend Gary sent this happy article about yet another California disaster-in-waiting, a cyclical great flood that’s due again any day now. It’s an interesting read, and it explains why CA’s giant Central Valley is such a rich agricultural region.

In sports news, I am anxiously awaiting two decisions from the NCAA. One, will college basketball happen for the 2020-2021 season? And two, will the NCAA allow Olivier Sarr to transfer to KY for the upcoming season?

On the first question, I think it could happen if the games were to start in early 2021. A lot depends on vaccine and other therapeutics status.

On the second question, the NCAA damn well better approve that transfer. Big Blue Nation needs some good news, and you don’t want to piss off BBN.

Final thought for the morning, son-in-law Greg and his wide-eyed teaching assistant (pictured above) started the school year earlier this week, teaching high school remotely (thanks, KY Gov!). We’re all proud of him and his little TA.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse

I try hard to be an optimist, but right now it’s tough.

First, there was the horrific scene of 1500-ish unmasked people crowded together on the White House lawn last night for hours. This was pretty much the dictionary definition of a super-spreader event. And an historic Hatch Act violation.

Second, there’s this terrifying article from NY Magazine about the ongoing CA fires. Two quotes stand out:

“This past week, in Death Valley, a global temperature record was set, at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The next day, the forecast predicted 132. That is the temperature of steak cooked medium rare.”

“In just five days, more land had burned than in all of 2019. And the number kept growing—well past a million acres to 1.25 million.”

2020 is a year unlike any other in my memory. It feels Old Testament biblical.

And then there’s our new friend, Asteroid 2018 VP1. Thanks, 2020!

Thursday by the numbers

Six million Americans officially infected with COVID-19 (that means it’s more likely 60M, given our incomplete and incompetent testing program).

Over 183,000 US COVID deaths, officially.

173 days since we started staying home and taking protective measures.

74 days until the election, in which we might get rid of one of our plagues.

127 days to the end of a wretched 2020.

14 straight days with the daily high temperature over 90 degrees here in Fallbrook, with most days setting an all-time record high (historically, should be low to mid 80s).

4 days (!) until I get my knee hacked.

Zero days since the Trump crime family committed a crime.

10 years ago today I was in Washington DC, lobbying the FCC to provide private spectrum for the utility industry. And met up with my good friend John Coble at a nice restaurant.

Bad start to a Monday

Well shit. Just saw this:
Amazon’s Culture TV Series No Longer in the Works

Clever lead-in from the article: “They did it. They canceled Culture.”

Ian M. Bank’s Culture series is one of my all-time favorite book series, by one of my all-time favorite writers. It would have made a fantastic TV series, along the lines of The Expanse.

Also, I hate the new WordPress block editor. It’s now forced upon WP users unless you spend $300 for a plugin that disables it. Something that would have taken me seconds (creating this small post) now takes me quite a while fumbling around in the new (worse) UI. Thanks, WP – a perfect lesson in how to disrespect your users.

The quiet retired life

Featured image above shows where we were on this day 11 years ago. We were in Woodinville WA for a Jackson Browne concert at the beautiful Chateau St. Michelle outdoor venue. Front row center seats and one of the 2-3 best concert experiences of my life. What a memory! (Apologies, the photo isn’t up to my normal standards – it was taken handheld in low light after at least a bottle of St. Michelle red wine. So all things considered, it’s not bad.)

Back to 2020, wow, there’s a lot going on in my supposedly quiet retired life.

First, it’s now nine days until my knee replacement. Lots of MD appointments to get ready, some changes in meds, and getting some things done now that will be tough to do in recovery. And a self-imposed no-drinking rule for the next 3+ weeks.

Second, we’re trapped in a seemingly-endless heat wave. The longest and hottest in memory. Every day for the past ten days we’ve set a new all-time high temperature record. Every day! And this heat wave is predicted to stick around at least another week. Somewhere around 97 degrees every day, with atypical humidity.

Third, my Dad’s assisted living facility just got a clean bill of health after one of their workers tested positive for COVID a couple of weeks ago. But now all the residents and workers have tested negative two straight weeks, so…whew!

Fourth, we sold my Dad’s house back east and should see the proceeds in September. That’ll be a big help in paying for their long-term care.

Fifth, I pulled the trigger on my next vehicle, a used BMW X5. Bought it yesterday. My 5-series lease is finished next month so I needed something afterward. My original plan was to buy a new electric truck – a Rivian, to be precise – but that vehicle won’t be ready until sometime in 2021 and I couldn’t wait that long. So starting October, no car or lease payments.

Sixth, I’m scheduled to do some serious proposal writing over the next ten days. I can’t procrastinate on this task at all. (1) There’s a firm deadline. (2) I’ve got to get my part done before surgery. So it’s my least favorite kind of thing – have to do it, and have to do it now. Blech.

I could go on, but I think I need to stop blogging and move over to some proposal writing.

Three months later

Three-plus months ago on May 4th, I wrote this:

“The final US death toll from COVID-19 is very hard to predict, but one thing that isn’t hard to predict is the new minimum number.  We’re at about 70,000 today, and I sure don’t think we’re at a peak. IF we were at peak, we’d see about the same number of deaths coming down the curve as we saw going up. So given that and given that many states are now relaxing restrictions, I’d put the minimum 2020 death toll at 150K-250K. The minimum.”

We’re at 175K deaths today, averaging about 1000/day right now. So by mid-September, we’ll be at 200K official deaths. Unfortunately, my May prediction will end up being low. And to put this in perspective, the official death toll from the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki Japan was 135,000.

This is a number that Democrats should hammer mercilessly into everyone’s mind as we approach the election. 200K US citizens died due largely to the Trump administration’s bumbling, ineffective handling of the pandemic. A large percentage of them might have lived if not for this criminal mismanagement. Most elections, “it’s the economy, stupid”. But not this one. This time it’s the dead Americans.

That grim scenario aside, here’s something I didn’t predict three months ago. I’ve been trying to get knee surgery scheduled all year, as my mobility and pain are pretty bad. I had absolutely no luck until suddenly, yesterday, a slot opened up in my preferred surgeon’s calendar for August 31. So now I’m scheduled for a new right knee in 12 days (!). Exciting but a little scary – this is a high stakes bet. And while yes, knee replacements have become common, all the fears of complications, bad outcomes and surgery in general are suddenly and acutely relevant to me.

Finally, with about 75 days left until the election and 138 days left in a strange and miserable 2020, I find myself busier than ever. A new proposal to write for one company. A new consulting gig for another. A novel to rewrite. Several big home projects still to do. And soon a lot of painful physical therapy to work through. I thought retirement would be different, but I’m grateful to have productive things to do with my time.

 

Just another manic Monday

Headline cred to The Bangles.

Well, it’s this guy’s birthday today. Happy 3rd birthday, Hudson! (Pictured above, the facemasks are due to some extended family being at the party.) We were with you for birthdays 0, 1 and 2, but we’re COVID-blocked from attending your 3rd. Another crummy loss for 2020. His parents and Louisville extended family managed to give him what looked like a great little party, and he was talkative when I called him today. He said he missed me, which was simultaneously great and horrible.

I spent some time this morning making calls and knocking a few things off my to-do list. While I did that, I explored the audio and video legacy of Kruangbin online, via Youtube. They’re definitely my favorite new music, and watching them live is mesmerizing. I’m no music pro, but they look and sound like three instrumental savants who were lucky enough to find each other and share a vibe. There’s a comment on one of their Youtube videos that sums their act up perfectly: “The bass swayer, the guitar slayer, and the beat layer.” You’ve gotta see them to get it.

I’ve always loved guitar solos, great guitarists, and this dude (Mark Speer) is spectacular. There’s gotta be a reverb shortage in the world after he plays a set.  So far I’m loving their NPR Tiny Desk concert, and their long, beautiful live set at the 2018 Best Kept Secret show. Highly recommended. And the Netherland-based Best Kept Secret concert/festival looks like a fantastic event. Sort of a Euro-Coachella.

Today is the start of the Democratic National (online) Convention, another thing in 2020 that normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but the combination of COVID and Trump make it one of the biggest deals ever. Time to send the Orange One packing and start to repair the incalculable damage he’s done to the country, economy and reputation. Selecting from many possibilities, the daily outrage for August 17 is this headline. Sure, let’s open up one of the last pristine wildlife refuges to oil drilling – what a great idea! I don’t know where to start, except acknowledging that this administration seems to look around for the worst possible thing to do at a moment in time and then make that their mission.

Thursday trivia

I read this today on the always-informative Heather Cox Richardson’s daily news report:

“Enthusiasm for the Biden-Harris ticket brought 150,000 new donors to the Democratic campaign. In the 24 hours after Biden announced that he was tapping Harris as his vice president candidate, the campaign raised an eye-popping 26 million dollars.”

That is great news, but Heather might reconsider the phrase “…Biden announced that he was tapping Harris…”. Just sayin’. And yes, it’s a sophomoric pun. Deal with it.

In local news, I received a nice sticker in the mail from a neighbor who learned I was from Kentucky. The sticker says it all. I knew there was a reason we bought property in Fallbrook. Gotta love it.

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In “I wish I was traveling” news, I’m enjoying the Golf Channel’s coverage of the US Amateur Championship from Bandon Dunes, Oregon. I’ve been fortunate enough to play Bandon’s courses three or four times. It’s a golf adventure, par excellance. The picture below shows a water buffalo me teeing up on one of the holes at Bandon, maybe the Old Mac course (there are five courses). Not flattering, but memorable. Love that place.

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Golf at Bandon isn’t smooth or easy.  The elements are against you – wind, rain, tall grass, gorse (the yellow vegetation in the picture above), and gravity. And you walk every hole – we walked 36 holes every day for 3-4 days on the latest trips, maybe ten miles per day. I can’t do that right now – I need to get my knee fixed so I can go back and play there again. Running out of time…I’ve got maybe 5-6 years left where it’s reasonable that I could play a course like Bandon. It’s back on the bucket list.

Finally, let’s just leave this for later, please. After the election.