Archive for the ‘Plague’ Category

Masque of the Read Death

July 19, 2020

Always nice to see the smarties having a word.
Even if they can’t spell it.

Well.

I guess he told us.

I’m not sure what he was saying, exactly. But whatever it was, he sure told us.

‘We’ll be right back after this message. …’

July 15, 2020

Down time.

The question very much not on everyone’s mind is: “Whatever happened to Radio Free Dogpatch?”

My little podcast was ticking along nicely there for a while, with episodes popping up semi-regularly since the first of the year.

Then the broken ankle took me down in February, and The Bug® put the boots to me in March.

And that, as they say, was that.

A podcast, even a low-rent, one-man, half-assed model like mine, takes time. Thought. Quiet.

It’s quiet out there. Too quiet.

All those things were suddenly in short supply when Herself joined me in working from home.

If any of you have been doing likewise in lockdown, you know the drill. Zoom meetings. Phone calls. Speakerphone calls, with voices that often fail to harmonize with the ones in my head. Skypeing. Messaging. Texting.

And it all starts at stupid-thirty, ’cause Herself is an early riser. By the time I crawl out of my coffin around 6-ish she’s already brewed the coffee and fed the cat, and is two-three phone calls into her day.

Which is rigorously planned. She has a List. Items will be checked off same or she will know the reason why. Any gaps that appear unexpectedly between chores will be filled with … more chores. Herself is a Tasmanian devil of relentless functionality and accomplishment.

Me? I just, y’know, kinda, like, fuck around, an’ shit. See what happens. If anything.

Ho, ho. Too bad for me. Her gig is the one that makes it rain around here. My contributions to the general fund have become a little less laughable since I started collecting Social Security in April, but next to her mighty fiscal Niagara my revenue stream remains the dribbling of a very old dog with prostate issues and a bladder stone the size of the Hope Diamond.

Shucks, the podcast never brought in a dime anyway. In fact, it sent dimes out, in the form of dollars. Many, many of them. An essential worker it is not. Like Adolf Twitler’s “presidency,” it is primarily a cash-burning vanity project.

So if anybody is going to STFU around here for a minute, or even for months, well … it’s gonna be Radio Free Dogpatch.

I take solace from learning that I’m not the only voice to develop a little situational laryngitis in The New Weird Order.

For instance, parents who podcast are finding it tough to get their Ira Glass on with herds of unschooled munchkins free-ranging around the home studio, according to Caroline Crampton of the “Hot Pod” newsletter (scroll down).

Writes Crampton: “[F]or those who work in audio and need to edit for long periods, or record links and tracking to the highest possible standard that the moment will allow, there’s the extra challenge of finding the space and quietness to do that.”

The short version, from one anonymous podcaster: “Take after take just gets nuked.”

(Insert sound effect of Trinity atomic blast here. Oh, wait, we’re doing text now, not audio. Never mind.)

Happily, my primary distraction is not a horrifically bored, runny-nosed, ankle-biting, boundary-testing expense that a dozen or so years down the road will call me a fleshist at my own dinner table for not pledging some of my hard-earned Imperial credits to the Robot Liberation Army. She’s an income-generating asset, and right now, too.

So if Herself screams “GRILLED CHEESE! GRILLED CHEESE!”, she’s gonna get some grilled fuckin’ cheese from yours truly. We call it a quesadilla around here, but still, whatever you wanna call it, she’s gonna get it.

Radio Free Dogpatch is not the new toilet paper. It may be in short supply, but that doesn’t mean the punters are throwing hands over it at Libsyn. If I have something to say, I can always slink off to where the old toilet paper is, close the door, and squeeze out a quick blog post.

And yes, I’ll turn on the ceiling fan and wash my hands afterward.

Who was that masked man?

July 13, 2020

A lot of nothing.

Today marked the re-enactment and expansion of various Bug-related restrictions, among them a requirement that New Mexicans wear masks while exercising.

I can’t be certain that this was behind the empty parking lot at the Piedra Lisa trailhead, but damn, I haven’t seen that sucker empty since, well, ever.

Meanwhile, during this morning’s 90-minute trail hike I encountered 10 people, only one of whom was wearing a mask. And she was walking a dog off-leash.

So much for the rule of law.

I was obeying its spirit, as the letter seemed to have some wiggle room. I haven’t seen anything specifying the type of mask to be worn, so I had a bandana looped around my neck, ready to be pulled over my gob and snout as the need arose, which mostly it didn’t.

NPR health correspondent Maria Godoy had my back:

If you’re doing something like running or biking outdoors and you’re alone or just with the people you live with, it’s OK to have your mask down if there’s no one else around, says Abraar Karan, a physician at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Massachusetts COVID-19 response team.

As long as you haven’t been touching stuff along the way, like benches or rails, you haven’t had a close conversation with a stranger, it’s OK to use your hands to pull it down. If you see someone coming, put up your mask until they pass. And if you’re running and passing someone, give them at least 6 feet of space.

I also had an actual mask tucked into a pocket, because quién sabe? When cycling I carry two spare tubes and a pump for the same reason.

Even this relaxed approach to masking during exercise took some of the pleasure out of my hike. But it was miles better than not going out at all.

A hole in one

July 12, 2020

“Say, did one of you guys fart
or is it just my burger breath backing up on me?”

Kurt Vonnegut’s picture of a “president.”

Curchief

July 9, 2020

Who was that masked man?

Well, the bad news is, faced with a rapid increase in the number of plague cases related to an outbreak of the dumbass, the gov’ has ordered that everyone who leaves home, even for exercise, must wear a mask.

The good news? I’m gonna save a shit-ton of money on sunscreen.

Sick and tired

July 2, 2020

The governor is not amused.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham didn’t bring the BFH* yesterday. But she pointed to the drawer where she keeps it and said, “A lot of y’all lookin’ like nails to me.”

No real surprises there. New Mexicans are acting like The Bug® has had its ass kicked. Nope. The caseload is rising, the numbers are even worse in a couple of neighboring states, and any further tiptoeing toward what passes for normalcy around here has been put on hold.

This is bad news for Herself the Elder, who would like to see some relaxation of restrictions on assisted-living centers. She’d enjoy an in-house sitdown with Herself, or maybe a short outing for some shrimp fried rice, that sort of thing.

Nope again. Not this week. Not as long as New Mexicans insist on wandering around in clusters with their faces hanging out, acting like preschoolers who won’t eat their vegetables.

The gov’ is sympathetic, to a degree. She sez to us she sez: “We do have isolation and COVID-19 fatigue. Everybody wants this to just go away.”

And despite all evidence to the contrary, she said she remains “cautiously optimistic … assuming people wear their masks and limit their traveling around in their communities. Let’s do this together.”

But she kept glancing at that drawer.

* That would be the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel, a.k.a. the Big Fucking Hammer.

Glide path, v2.0

June 30, 2020

“We’re coming in hot. …”

James Fallows, himself a pilot, wonders what the National Transportation Safety Board might make of Adolf Twitler’s response to the pandemic.

In the previous two decades of international public-health experience, starting with SARS and on through the rest of the acronym-heavy list, a standard procedure had emerged, and it had proved effective again and again. The U.S, with its combination of scientific and military-logistics might, would coordinate and support efforts by other countries. Subsequent stages would depend on the nature of the disease, but the fact that the U.S. would take the primary role was expected. When the new coronavirus threat suddenly materialized, American engagement was the signal all other participants were waiting for. But this time it did not come. It was as if air traffic controllers walked away from their stations and said, “The rest of you just work it out for yourselves.”

“We’re approaching our final destination. Please return your tray tables and seat backs to their fully upright positions, place your heads between your legs, and kiss your asses goodbye. And thank you for flying Trump Air.”

View, with alarm

June 27, 2020

Herself enjoys the view from the topside
of the Sandia Peak Tramway in 2016.

It’s a pretty view, a’ight.

Pretty enough to get me into a Sandia Peak Tram car with 19 other dummies in plague season?

Nope.

I wanna get up there, I’ll ride the ol’ bikey bike up the other side. It’ll hurt like hell, and it’ll take a lot longer than 15 minutes.

But at least I’ll know where I’ve been, and how I got there.

Welfare check

May 11, 2020

Herself chats with her mom jailhouse style,
on the phone, through a pane of glass.

We swung by the Dark Tower yesterday, bearing gifts.

Herself the Elder had requested huevos rancheros for Mothers Day. So we ordered up the takeout from Weck’s and ran it on by.

“You’re spoiled!” exclaimed a staffer. Dern tootin’. As spoiled as one can be in an assisted-living facility under lockdown in plague time, anyway.

Ain’t nothin’ a couple sacks of mulch and a cat statue can’t fix.

Afterward we continued a ongoing backyard-cleanup project. I’m a lifelong asthmatic with a personal, portable plague of allergies, the most severe of which is to yardwork.

But the space was starting to look like a tumbledown Tinkertoy tower of rusty playground equipment, a bullet-riddled ’63 Rambler American on blocks, and a three-legged pit bull with bowel issues would actually constitute improvements.

So, yeah. Yardwork.

Up north, where the yards are 35 acres, my man Hal forwards a Colorado Public Broadcasting piece about how gig workers there — including him — are getting the runaround from the plague-jiggered unemployment system, such as it is.

“This is exactly what happened to me when I applied,” he said. “I apparently need to call there. But of course cannot get through.”

Well, you can always get through here, bub. What’s going on out there in Greater Dogpatch? Are you digging holes and filling them in again? Redistributing wealth? Fetching takeout to shut-ins? As the Year of the Plague drags on toward Memorial Day, we want to hear how our readers are getting by. Wag your tales in comments.

Masque of the Red … Revolution?

May 7, 2020

¡Viva la huelga!

I’ve been wondering when someone in the mainstream media would write something about the potential for increasing union membership and labor strength in the Year(s) of the Plague.

Here’s a start. It’s short, focused largely on the so-called “gig economy,” and written before a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that indicates some laid-off and furloughed workers may be overly optimistic about whether they will be able to return to their old jobs.

How does an activist pitch a union to a worker with no job? Is a patchwork of small, decentralized, tightly focused labor organizations preferable to One Big Union? Are people ready to rethink their notions of who is an “essential” worker? Will stock clerks trump stockholders?

Nick French at Jacobin gives us a look at the protests that arose shortly after the Great Depression took hold. He argues that radical groups, among them the Thirties-vintage Communist Party, forged a bond of solidarity between the jobless and those still working that helped make FDR’s New Deal possible.

The conditions are different today, he concedes. But the public-health issue may give workers more leverage this time around. Writes French:

By forcing sick people to come to work, or by unnecessarily exposing people to coworkers or customers who might be infected, employers are hastening the spread of the coronavirus and putting everyone at risk. This means that all workers, employed or unemployed, have a common interest in these workers winning their demands.

Boy howdy. Dead broke is bad enough. I hear dead is worse.

• Addendum: As white-collar types join workers from the restaurant, travel, hospitality, and retail industries on the sidelines, experts say there’s no way to calculate how many jobs might come back as states consider lifting shelter-in-place rules. according to The New York Times.

Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.

“We don’t know what normal is going to look like,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist and a labor market expert at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative.

• Addendum the Second: How should unions organize? From The Nation.

• Addendum the Third: Comrades, identities, and attachments. Also from The Nation.