Funny Travel Woes

Some things are kind of funny – funny strange and not funny haha. With the state of the country right now, plane fares and hotel rates are crazy sweet. I did a few random searches, and prices look so good they’re hard to turn away.

Now, here’s the funny part. All of the places where I might want to visit have restrictions on public gatherings. Some of them have banned visits from outsiders. Los Angeles, Seattle, Pasadena, Knoxville, and San Diego are but a few of them. Internationally, Costa Rica, Paris, and Cabo San Lucas are on my list too. All these places have implemented bans or complete restrictions. It’s not that I really will go given what’s going on world-wide right now. But I’m merely making an observation.

It seems rather moot to have all these lower rates and fares with all of these restrictions. On my plane back home from San Francisco, there were many empty seats. That alone loses the airline money. Then with the reduced fares, that adds to the loss of money. They think the lower fares might show an increase in ticket purchases. But that’s not happening.

I still have plans to visit New York twice, Philadelphia, and an overnight Baltimore visit over the next several months. Hopefully the situation will improve by then. Things will eventually revert to normalcy, but I don’t expect it will be any time soon.

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SF Chinatown

When I was in high school, I took French for two years. Prior to this, I took an exploratory language class, which included general instruction in French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese. I sure could have used Chinese this past week.

I just returned from my San Francisco trip. It was great, and I’ll detail it in a separate post. One afternoon, I hung out in Chinatown. It is quite massive, covering many blocks. I stopped in one corner pub and asked the proprietor what kind of wine she had. “Red and white wine.” was her response. I was trying to get her to tell me the brand of wines she carried. I’m a wine snob and am usually quite picky with wines. But I could never communicate with her well enough to find out the brands she had.

“I have red wine and white wine.” is the only response she gave me. She was obviously becoming as frustrated as I was. So, I asked for white and called it a day. The only Chinese word I remember from that language class is, “Nî hâo.” That’s hello. Too bad I couldn’t recall anything else. The wine was alright, probably a B-.

As I was leaving, the woman said, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t understand what she meant. Now I do, several days later. She was apologizing for the communication lapse. I must have seemed like a jerk, because I didn’t reply in kind. I should have apologized too. But, I didn’t realize until now why she apologized. Communication is a two way street.

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NCIS: New Orleans

Once in a while when I’m on vacation, I stumble upon a television show that I never previously watched. Well, it’s happened twice. The first time was back in 2004. When I vacationed in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I had the television on while getting dressed, and I saw the TV show, Monk, for the first time. I fell in love with the show and I always watch it.

It happened again this past week when I was visiting San Francisco. I found another new show, NCIS: New Orleans. I say new, but it’s not really a new show. It’s just new to me. I’ve always enjoyed this genre of show (shows about the police, law enforcement, or the military), and it’s surprising I never watched it before. Well, I do know why. For me, TV shows are like friends and family. I tend to stick with what I know and what I am familiar with. Besides, when I try to watch a new show, I’m usually disappointed. Many new shows are lacking in quality, acting, and the flow of the storyline. I realize that if it doesn’t capture my attention in the first few minutes, I’m done. But I never even tried NCIS: New Orleans till now. Shame on me. It’s a very good show that’s well-written.

I love this show, and I’ve been binge watching old episodes since I’ve been back home from my trip. I have been watching old episodes, almost at an obsessive level. But there is good reason. There are many references to past events and ongoing investigations that I learned about from watching those old episodes.  I needed to catch up so I would know what was going on.

Maybe this is a lesson for me to be more open to new shows. I’m sorry I’ve been missing this one for all these years.

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It Wasn’t A Big Deal

It doesn’t take much to make people uneasy, especially when they are on an airplane. Let me tell you what happened on my recent trip to San Francisco.

On my Delta flight, as the plane nosed up to lift off the ground, there was loud bang, which sounded like an explosion. That bang was followed by a series of subsequent smaller, little booms. Several people gasped and screamed in fear. I would have been one of them if I hadn’t been sitting in the front, row 2, close enough to see what was really going on.

A latch on one of the cabinets in the kitchenette came loose, and all the contents fell out and were flying all over the small space. The noise was the sound of the cabinet door slamming open against the wall and the items inside falling out hitting the floor and the walls. After reaching cruising altitude, the flight attendants got up and began picking up all of the items (boxes of sugar, creamer, almonds, and other food and drink items), and one of them mentioned how she reported the defective latch many times, but it remains unfixed.

Even though I was sitting there in view of what happened, it was still unsettling initially. It really did sound like something evil was happening. Thankfully it was just a minor issue.

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 What Is That?

Sometimes I make notes to myself to try and remind myself of one thing or another. That’s how I keep track of important things, like what I want to write here in this blog. I make lots of notes to myself. Then, I’ll go back over my notes, and I have no idea what I meant. It’s either my choice of words are too cryptic for me to decipher or I cannot read my own handwriting. Most of the notes I make are on my phone, but occasionally I make a note in longhand, and everything ends up being gibberish. That just happened. I’m sitting here reading what I wrote a few days ago, and I’m so clueless what I intended.

My penmanship is really bad. I recall this being a big problem when I was in grade school. When studying and doing homework, I would make notes on the things I read for class, but afterwards, I couldn’t read my own written words. Nothing has changed. I still make notes sometimes that I cannot read. Looking at the few words I can decipher, it must have been some very interesting I had in mind.

Too bad I can’t remember what it is.

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The Golden Gate Bridge

When you read lists of wonders of the world, you’ll see several iconic things. The Golden Gate Bridge is not on the list. But, it sure ought to be.

I visited the bridge on my vacation, and it’s breathtaking. It’s an enormous structure. I don’t know why this doesn’t get more recognition than it gets. If I had a say in it, this would be one of the wonders of the world. I stood in awe looking at it, speechless. Not only is the bridge itself a sight to see, but the surrounding area is beautiful, very scenic. Picturesque.

I did many things on this trip, but seeing this bridge was the highlight. I almost opted not to go see it. That would have been a bad decision. If you have never seen this in person, make it a priority to do so soon.  You’ll thank me afterwards.

 

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The Surgeon General of the United States

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams

Antonia Novella, C. Everette Coop, and Joycelyn Elders wore the hat of  US Surgeon General when I was young. These individuals made a name for themselves, and I recall them vividly. They’re the only ones I recall clearly, though. Since then, I have little memory of others. Do you know the name of the person who holds that position now?  I didn’t know. I had to look it up. His name is Dr. Jerome M. Adams. More on him in a moment.

I only thought about this because with the magnitude of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, you’d think the Surgeon General would more prominently be making public announcements and advisories. But there’s very little compared to what Surgeons General of years past have reported. But over the past few years, it’s been the same loud degree of silence from the Surgeon General’s office with other outbreaks. Ebola, MRSA, Swine Flu, and Bird Flu, are just a few I recall from recent years. But this Coronavirus is so major, it should have risen to a high enough level to warrant more guidance by the US Surgeon General.

The Surgeon General is supposed to be the chief medical advisor to the Secretary of Health and the President and to the American people during a public health emergency. This Corona virus outbreak certainly fits that bill. So many events are getting postponed or cancelled. The remaining NBA and NHL seasons have been cancelled. I have tickets to see Tony Bennett in concert this Sunday, 15 March 2020. I just got an email this evening informing me that the concert is being postponed to some future date “due to the most recent recommendations from health officials and state government regarding the Coronavirus and gathering in a space with a capacity as large as the Music Center during this period of time.”  I received a separate email that all events at the Kennedy Center are cancelled through 31 March 2020.

Is it overreaction or a wise precaution? Either way, plenty of things are cancelled. All of these cancellations and postponements signify to me what a big deal this evidently must be, which is why I would expect the Surgeon General to have a more proactive role. While he has had a presence in information sharing, it’s not as widespread as I have expected it to be. Perhaps the prominence of the position of Surgeon General isn’t what it used to be. Times do change.

The current Surgeon General is Dr. Jerome Adams.  He’s a Vice Admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Dr. Adams received bachelor’s degrees in both biochemistry and psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; a master of public health degree from the University of California at Berkeley; and a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine.

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I Completed My Census2020 Survey

I got my Census docs in the mail today. It took me only about seven minutes to complete. I was anticipating this; I wrote about it not long ago in a post titled, Big Brother is Watching. I can’t remember much about my last time doing it. I think I may have completed it with my touchtone telephone. Today, I did it online. It was quick and easy – and yes, the question about citizenship was stricken from the survey, as well it should have been.

It really is an important tool for allocating funds throughout our community for schools, transportation, roads, healthcare, and other critical services we need to keep everyone safe, secure, and whole.

If you get yours today or within the next few days, go on and fill it out. It’ll only take you a few short minutes. Just do it. It’s your civic duty.

 

 

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Déjà Vu

August 2013 photo of me hanging out with dad. He passed away three months later. (8/21/1933 – 11/30/2013)

 

Something just happened to me that also happened to my dad when I was a small child. I changed the ceiling light bulb in my kitchen. I replaced the bulb, put the light cover back over the light fixture, and began to get down off the ladder. Before I could reach the floor, the light cover came off and hit the floor. Glass went everywhere…and I do mean EVERYwhere. I bet I’ll be finding glass pieces for weeks to come.

 

The very bizarre thing about this is, I have worried about this happening since I was six years old. The same thing happened to my dad. He replaced the light bulb in the kitchen, replaced the light cover, then began to get off the ladder. But as he stepped down, the cover came off, just like it did with me. The only difference is, in my dad’s case, the light cover fell on his head. He had to get several stitches. I’m sure his injury is why I can remember that day so vividly. That’s likely also why I have often worried about it happening to me as well all of these years. It’s basically Déjà Vu.

 

It’s funny the extent to which trauma can linger in a person’s mind. Domestic violence victims, sexual assault victims, former military members who lived through a war, and others who were victims or witnesses of violence and trauma hold onto that pain for decades. I always wondered why we don’t retain positive, pleasant, and happy memories as clearly.

 

I’m glad that the light cover didn’t hit me in my head like with my dad. I just happened to be standing there with him in the kitchen. He was a little dizzy and leaned on me to keep from falling down. There was nobody there for me to lean on if that light cover had fallen on my head and made me dizzy. Dad is gone on to glory now. Maybe the light cover falling was letting me know dad came by to say hello. Maybe that’s why the light cover didn’t hit me. He didn’t let it.

 

There are blessings that come in surprising ways. I love all blessings, big or small.

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What, Me Worry?

Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman

Alfred E. Neuman was the face of a favorite of mine, Mad Magazine, when I was a kid. I even had a subscription for a long time. It’s still around in some form today, but it isn’t the same. Neuman was known for the phrase, “What, me worry?” I’m a lot like that in most instances.

A lot of people are very worried and paranoid about this Coronavirus. I’m not one of them, though. But, I can understand everyone’s fears. My team at work is scheduled to go to a workshop in San Diego in mid-May. One lady today told the boss and I that she’s not going. She seems incessantly concerned about this virus. Fueling the anxiety are the frequent emails my employer sends out about the possible signs of infection and internet sites with more details about it, such as this one on Coronavirus — Prevention and Treatment and this one with general information about the Coronavirus.  A few people told me they think I’m rather brave to travel to San Francisco while the virus and the uncertainty of it are abound. Wild horses couldn’t keep me from taking my trip. I wouldn’t say I’m brave. I’m just continuing on with a normal life.

A coworker today told me of a cruise ship passenger who died while traveling from San Francisco to Mexico; the ship was quarantined until all the passengers can be tested to see whether they are infected. It would give me a spooky feeling knowing I was in the same space where someone just died, regardless of the reason for the death. So, I understand the concern that people have. I don’t want to minimize not one bit the level of anxiety that exists for some folk; however, I am not going to hunker down and hide because of it. That’s no way to live. If the CDC were to launch travel advisories, that would be one thing. But I’m not going to sit at home in fear.

Let me tell you this story about the late Steve Irwin. About a year or two before his accident and untimely death, I had the pleasure of meeting him at one of the annual Travel Show expos in New York City. He was just as high energy and gregarious in person as he was on television. I feel confident in saying that if he could poke his head in here today, he’d tell you that he has no regrets about the way he died. He’d say he was living his life, and that’s what any person true to their self ought to do.

On any given day I encounter anti-government protesters in front of my building when I come to work or go out during lunch, or when I leave for the day. Some aren’t just anti-government but some are also just lunatics (in my opinion) merely exercising their right to the freedom of assembly. They have megaphones and poster boards and fliers marching up and down the sidewalk. Occasionally there’s a lone person out there, but usually it’s a group.  It makes you feel like you’re breaking a picket line of disgruntled workers as you come and go. A few of them are rather menacing. I’m more afraid of those protesting nuts than the Coronavirus. Those people often seem very volatile, and you never know what they may do.

I also think back to around 2002 when the snipers, Lee Malvo and John Mohammed, terrorized the Maryland, Virginia, and DC areas, and people were really scared – present company included. There was a heightened fear in everyone, and people were scared to leave home. It was very eerie in the beginning, because nobody knew who was behind it. The discrepant descriptions of the suspects and the getaway vehicle further confused law enforcement. You’d go to the mall, and see people running between their cars and the store (a fast moving target is harder to hit), especially if you went to a place where the snipers had already targeted. It was a scary time, and many businesses and restaurants suffered because people weren’t going out and about like they normally would. Although I was very scared too, I didn’t change my routine. The Coronavirus is no different.

I’m told that there’s an $8 billion spending bill on Trump’s desk aimed at thwarting the spread of the Coronavirus. I expect that much of that will be used for research and development and the creation of a vaccine. That’s a step in the right direction. Additionally, approximately 81,000 people worldwide have been infected with the Coronavirus worldwide, and no antibiotic exists yet that has proven effective at treating it. That means, it’s all up to each individual’s own immune system to be the healer. Consequently,  the Coronavirus has caused approximately 2,800 deaths. That’s about 3.5% of those infected. That fact is worthy of noting. Also worth noting, the deaths have been mostly identified in persons with other medical conditions, such as heart or lung problems, and in those with compromised immune systems.

Nonetheless, I’m well aware of the inherent risks, but life goes on. I take care of myself, I keep sanitizing wipes and gels, and I pay attention to my hands and what I do with them. Just like Adrian Monk, I also reach for one of my sanitizing wipes if someone shakes my hand (a few people act offended just like when Monk did it, but most people understand). That’s all I can do. I feel if I stayed home living in fear, my quality of life would be quite low. So, it’s business as usual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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