WTF?

This makes me absolutely ill. What in the world makes these people think that Christmas spirit and guns go together? And posting this just days after yet another tragic school shooting incident…it’s beyond the pale. Why oh why do the voters in Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district, in northern KY along the Ohio River, think this person is a good representative for them? This picture kind of sums up everything wrong in American politics.

Grinning idiots

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against gun ownership. I’m against gun fetishism (see picture above) and proliferation (We have 1.2 guns per person in the US (!) – that includes children and infants – does your two year old have his/her AR-15 yet?).

Gun ownership should be taken seriously – gun owners should be vetted, trained, and licensed regularly, just like operators of other dangerous equipment (commercial vehicles, aircraft, autos). Anything capable of killing people en masse if/when misused. Folks like these are just playing to the crowd that thinks someone wants to take their weapons and that Everyman is Rambo.

The amount of poor judgement and poor taste shown by the parents of these kids is incalculable.

Tequila sunrise

I have another song ear-wigging my brain this morning, courtesy of the Eagles.

“It’s another tequila sunrise

This old world still looks the same

Another frame”

Very fitting, as we imbibed more than our share of tequila yesterday. Occupational hazard here in Cabo, I guess. And today’s sunrise was, as usual here, lovely. Even through the brain fog.

It’s our last full day in Cabo, and we plan to have a healthier day. We need to get COVID-tested to return to the states, I hope to get some exercise, and other than that we have no plans or ambitions. A lazy vacation day.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

It’s been an interesting day, in the Chinese Curse sense of the term. Countries are shutting down, travel rules are changing daily, and our SA/Antarctica trip is in limbo. All because of the Omicron variant.

I’m actually not too worried about this mutation, because viruses tend to mutate toward greater infectiousness and lesser mortality. Viruses need a host to live, and they mutate in that direction. Omicron is probably more infectious and less dangerous.

But that doesn’t stop governments from over-reacting and making travel impractical. That may happen with our SA destinations for January – we’ve already seen a bit of that, and it will only take a little more rules/regulations/constraints to make our trip impractical.

We’re evaluating day by day right now. Could be no issue, or could be that we’ll get the entire month of January back for something other than a cruise.

Thanks to D. Bowie for the post’s title. Great song.

Lucky

Sometimes you get lucky and an event lives up to or exceeds expectations. That happened last night when we tried a new restaurant within walking distance of our resort, The Wine Bar. I had hoped for a good wine list and some decent food, and wow! What we found was a wonderful Mexican and Italian-centric wine list and superb food. Probably in our Top 10 meals ever.

We worked our way through 4-5 small plate servings (shared) of the parent restaurant’s menu (Romeo y Julieta, a great Italian restaurant here at the end of the continent) and two fabulous wines. The star of the meal was the Casa Madero 2016 Grand Reserve Malbec paired with an artichoke gnocchi. I’m not normally a big Malbec fan, but this was a superb wine. Smooth, creamy, fruitful and a bit dry. A solid 99 rating. Casa Madero, the oldest winery in the Americas, comes through again.

Every dish we tried was great. The gnocchi, some risotto with asparagus, a fritto misto and even a small portion of lasagna. With fresh made onsite bread to soak up all the sauces of each dish.

Our second wine wasn’t quite as good as the first – a tough act to follow – but it was still a 90+. A Syrah from Casta de Vinos in the Guadaloupe Valley, one of our favorite wine regions.

All-in-all, it was a memorable evening and meal. But today I think a healthy day is in order. One can only take so much fun.

Why we travel

We travel because at some point in our lives we become aware of our own mortality. We won’t be here forever, so we need to get busy doing things we love while we have the time and the ability. For the athletic and adventurous, that might be mountain climbing or running the bulls in Pamplona (nope, not for me). For the introspective, that might be exploring places and learning things you’ve never encountered before (yep). Everyone has something that speaks to their soul, and when you start seeing the end of your runway, you go after that something to the extent of your resources and ability.

Perhaps some people realize this early in their lives, but for me it took about 40 years. Travel, exploration and learning are about the only things really worth doing other than being close to your family. And your friends. Everything else is just passing time.

I mention this because someone I knew a bit died yesterday – a good man who had lived a long and, as far as I know, a good life. Rest in peace, Rajah. And that’s after my football buddy Joe who I knew quite well died a month or two ago. Recognition of one’s mortality – that gets your attention.

Yesterday’s Cabo sunset is featured above. Rajah’s last day on Earth. That sunset is a fitting sendoff.

Saturday night SITREP

This was the longest, toughest door-to-door trip to Cabo in 20 years. Thanks, COVID!

Everything was slow, inefficient, late and frustrating. We did have a few Special Circumstances – a two-kid family behind us on the flight that took their behavioral cues from the old Tasmanian Devil cartoon, an hour waiting on baggage (!!), and a check-in process at the resort that can only be described as Escher-esque. One step forward, three sideways and two back. What used to be a relaxing transition from Socal to Cabo has become a long, patience-challenging slog through lines, risk management forms, and good service gone bad. One more example, our room service dinner order – we didn’t want to go out and brave The World again – is an hour late. Not just “it’s been an hour”, but it’s been an hour longer than promised. Two hangry travelers.

Yeah, OK, this is a (very) first world problem, but living in the first world used to mean something. So far this trip it means wait, wait, wait…and test your patience. Happy to say my patience has held up quite well in all my interactions with The World, but it’s challenging. No casualties thus far.

Heading south

Today is a travel day. An hour to the airport, a short two hour flight to Cabo and about an hour to the resort. By 430pm Cabo time we hope to be watching whales and a sunset. Sounds pretty good to me.

Between the increasingly bad news about the South African variant outbreak and the continued dry, fire-danger Santa Ana weather in Socal, I’m a bit stressed out. Can’t do anything about either of them, but…perhaps a change of venue will make a difference.

It seems odd that traveling 1000 miles south would be a remedy for someone sick and tired of hot dry weather, but the ocean climate in Cabo is a far cry from the oppressive dry heat we’ve got in Socal. A smaller home in Point Loma, PB or even Oceanside is starting to sound a lot better to me.

I *am* looking forward to exploring the capabilities of my new Fuji S-X10. Some long photography walks are on the agenda.

Black Friday

Black Friday, indeed. So far today the stock market is down 900 points (about 2.5%) on the news that a new, vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant has emerged in South Africa. This news triggers lots of questions:

  • Is this situation now permanent? Are we stuck with SARS-CoV-2 in one form or another for decades? (Yes, probably).
  • Is the overly agile mutation ability of COVID-19 natural or (a frightening thought) designed by humans in the Wuhan labs?
  • Given that we’re probably going to see many more variants, how many people will COVID-19 actually kill before we get back to some new balance? We’ve recorded five million deaths worldwide so far (probably low), so where will we end up? 10M? 15? The Black Death (bubonic plague) pandemic of the 14th century killed between 75 and 200 million people, so COVID still has a ways to go to become the deadliest ever.
  • What will authorities and risk managers (governments and corporations) do in response? Will we need to wear masks in close quarters (like on airplanes) forever?
  • Is there something unusual going on in South Africa, something that generated the new variant?

On the last question, the answer is yes, probably. South Africa’s vaccination rate is really low – 28% of the population has had one dose, 24% two doses. So their population is pretty much wide open for virus spread and mutation. A large rise in cases, if not a variant, is predictable.

Sadly, this news will probably just adds fuel to the anti-vaxxer fire, as one of their favorite arguments is that “you can still catch COVID after vaccination, so why bother”. Perhaps we should just rename the variants as a different disease.

And the timing of this event is pretty bad for yours truly. We’re about to leave on trips to Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. On one hand I don’t want to over-react/panic, but on the other hand…yikes! Is international travel stupid at this moment?

And if you do travel, take your vitamin D! This NIH study showed that vitamin D deficient people are 80% more likely to catch COVID than those with sufficient vitamin D in their systems

All this will be in the back of my mind as I spend today watching sports – The Match, which should be an entertaining golf event, a UK basketball game (go Cats!), and the Duke-Gonzaga basketball game (go Zags!). There’s nothing I can do about this unsettling Black Friday news, so might as well be entertained.

Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving Day, an American holiday that is a little less warped by commerce than most. Thanksgiving was always and maybe still is my favorite holiday, with lots of food, football, relatives and naps. These days there’s a little less of each, but the basic outlines are still there, intact.

There’s a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2021. First, I’m thankful that it’s not 2020, an absolute shitshow of a year. The pandemic emergency is winding down, the disease isn’t the death threat it was a year ago. We have vaccines and therapies for those intelligent enough to get them. It appears we’ll never be rid of COVID-19, but it’s not the mysterious existential threat it started out as.

As always, I’m thankful for family and friends. One of the only good things that happened (great thing, actually) in 2020 was Jesse’s birth, so the immediate family welcomed a new member. He’s a joy, and so is grandson #1. And on that subject, very thankful that the pandemic that’s taken 800,000 American lives (!) has so far passed by my immediate family. Knock on wood. Get the booster. Wear masks, wash your hands. Whatever it takes.

I’m definitely thankful to be healthy (mostly) and strong, not something every 65+ person can say. I’m not really doing my part to stay that way, so that needs to change. And I’m especially thankful that my mind is still sharp. Now that I have time to reflect on life (post retirement), reading, writing and thinking are a real pleasure.

I’m thankful that Kathryn and I have the resources to travel and enjoy retirement. We live a privileged life, in the literal sense of the word. We worked hard to get here, but so do many others who still struggle. We are fortunate.

2021 was a much better year than 2020, and 2022 looks to be even better. Kathryn and I will venture to the top and bottom of the world in 2022, crossing North and South polar boundaries. In between we’ll see the grandkids a lot and try to stay healthy. That’s a lot to look forward to.