Tuesday, March 31, 2020

News from Ed's Tennis Center in New York


Why (older) Black and White Movies are Better

I enjoy older black and white movies, much more than current movies. Part of it is the production code, which forced viewers into becoming watchers. The couldn't show sex, so the movies were often sexy snd smoldering, where the desire had to be shown not just consummated.



And the violence was quick and over. Both Walter and Phyllis were shot, but it wasn't a hospital manual on a bullet wound.  Maybe it is better now that violence is "more realistic". But that just means out of a super-hero movie 66% of it is just stupid ass CGI-fights.

Double Indemnity shoves a lot more desire and deceit into it's 107 minutes than most superhero movies to into two and a half hours.

And the Republican Ass Covering goes On

Idiots.

Because we can all search the internet....

Europe: Pitlochry vs. Sibenik

Quite a battle. Pitlochry is a charming town in Scotland. It is easy to relax in, has a theater festival in the summer and is in the highlands int eh center of Scotland.  Sibenik is a gorgeous Mediterranean town in Croatia, between Zadar and Split.



Pitlochry is a very cute, very quaint little town in the Scottish mid-section. It is probably 2 hours from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Balmoral (so when the Queen invites us we can be there lickty split) and Inverness.  I will say the week we were in Scotland was magnificent weather, so I might be biased.

We hiked, toured nearby castles and ate pub-life. It was calming and super quiet at night.  I also walked past the local, new and high end theater. Apparently there is a yearly theater festival which draws some famous talent over the summer.  The prices are reasonable, but Ed is a bit worried that the weather would bug me.



Sibenik is an Adriatic costal town between Zadar and Split in Croatia. Ed and I toured it with Jane and loved it. Since it isn't as large a port as Zadar or Split, it doesn't get cruise ships.  So the old town is fairly intimate and walkable without the teaming crowds of Split or Dubrovnik.

Ed also had his favorite fish right there. Sibenik is close to some beautiful parts of Croatia including the Krka National Park.

More pictures (all mine)

Pitlochry and Region

Pub Life

Highland Coos

View from our window
Sibenik and Region
Cathedral

Krka Waterfalls

This is all the tourism we saw

Monday, March 30, 2020

Europe Top Seed Kotor vs. Basel

Kotor is probably my number 1 seed overall. But let's take a little tour of both cities.
Kotor Montenegro
Kotor is a wonderful small town on an inlet in the Adriatic.  It is not very large and there are lots of small towns around it to enjoy (including the gem of Perast).  Because the mountains come right down to the sea, you cannot get too much development or tourists.

Now in Montenegro you can actual retire to live if you want. Staying in Montenegro, you just have to buy a condo or something - and you can get a beautiful 2 bed on the Kotor Bay for less than US$150,000 (all prices pre-Covid) and then you can get a residency visa. The weather is a Mediterranean, which makes sense since it is on the Adriatic.

It's much like Southern California with the mountains, the sea, great weather, but without the crowds. All the small cities along the coast have fantastic fish restaurants and the price of everything is cheap.

I have been and l adore the area, from the mountains and valleys right to the coast. It's high on my list. And getting by in English is very easy.

Basel Switzerland
I have never been to Basel, but I do love Switzerland. I thought Interlaken was a bit too small and Zurich too big and Lausanne too French. Basel looks to be just right.

On the good side, they speak French and German so we can get by there. On the bad side, it is fucking freezing in Winter AND Switzerland is not cheap.  But if we decided to retire, not just visit, there, you can buy into the health care system pretty easily.

Basel will not go on, mainly because of price and lifestyle. But I needed to give Kotor a ringer to start with.  More pictures of each.

More pictures of each

Bracketology for Retirement

Well, isolation has made me bored some. Now most of you know that I love to think about retirement. And my big desire is to retire and move to places for 2 - 6 months at a time. This probably won't happen, but I still love the idea.

And so, what better way to decide than to have a playoff for the best place to retire.  So I have made a bracket and will got through an area each week.  On Friday I'll post results of that area.

Here is the overall bracket.  You can always find a post by typing "bracket" into the search field or the city name (with no country).


And here is the European Region, where we will start.

Therefore my next post today will be about the cities of Kotor and Basel.

Capitalism 101

So Trump has blamed hospitals for the shortage of medical equipment, which has pissed everyone off. But, like a stopped clock*, every now and then Trump is correct. This is one of those times. He is his correct in his assumption, but not for the reason he thinks.

The problem is that in the United States our hospitals are designed to make money. They do treat illness, but only to make money.

Now there are some non-profit medical providers.

  • Veteran's Hospitals are designed to both keep our active military healthy and to serve our veterans. 
  • Planned Parenthood is designed to provide basic health care to women (mammograms, birth control, cancer screening - abortions are less than 3% of their work). 
  • There are a few non-profit basic care organizations in almost every city of any size.
  • Many hospices are non-profit, but they are design to ease end of life, not to keep people healthy or alive.


But Hospitals are primarily designed to make money, not keep people healthy. That is a function of a Capitalist society. The United States has world class facilities and cutting edge treatment because these new and improved facilities make more money. Our drug companies design drugs to make money. Otherwise they would be finding cancer drugs, not boner pills.

So no, hospitals will not be stocking up for a national catastrophe. If our medical system was a public good, designed to keep our population healthy, then they might. This is the reason almost all European countries have a better ability to deal with national crisis; they were designated as public goods at some point.

This is the crux of the health care debate. Bernie (and some others) want to nationalize health care. And, in doing so, to turn them from a profit making industry to a public good. Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren wanted to expand Medicare into becoming a "public option". That is, you could pay into them and they would act almost like a union of people to demand better rates - and since the option is provided by the government, they couldn't be broken up. This is how countries like Switzerland and Netherlands handle public health care.

As long as the primary driver of health care in this country is profit, not health, then this is an expected result. It is a trade-off we have all made over time. Historically this has been acceptable for the majority of Americans. Do understand, however, that poor people are constantly aware of this. They don't go to the doctor for most things because they can't afford it.

The young man that died of Covid 19 did go to the hospital (Antelope Valley Hospital). But he was turned away because he didn't have health insurance. (LINK) This happens ALL the time in this country. He was news because he died of Covid 19. If he was turned away and died of cancer or diabetes or heart problems, this would not be news. It is America working as designed.

*The idea of a stopped clock being right twice a day comes from the wind up clock face, that stops at a certain time.  This idiom will continue for a while, even though the example is almost nonexistent now.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

When I'm 61

It's my birthday today. I am 61.

Luckily, I am spending it with my husband and pup.
Unluckily, we are all stuck in the house with quarantine.

Rather than unload on why I am pissed today, I will take a moment to be thankful.

I've had an amazing life. I've traveled all over the world and all over the United States. I've seen buildings, sites, people and history - and shared them with friends.

Thee is always more I want to see and do. I have been able to do that because of a sense of wonder instilled in me by family. I've been able to do that with the love of friends and my husband. I've been able to do that because of Ed. I've been able to do that because of Steve and Clay, years ago. I've been able to do that because of Mark. I've been able to do that with Jane and Gareth and Barbara and the Hunts. I've been able to do that because of Lynn.

It's my birthday and I am thankful. I am particularly thankful that I get to wake up next to Eddie - who encourages my dreams, keeps my bad decisions in check and makes me laugh most every day.

I am ready for my next adventure, something I never thought I would be able to say at 61 years old.

PS - the picture in the picture was purchased my Jeopardy winnings :-).

Friday, March 27, 2020

I Got To Say - Your God Isn't Very Nice

I have to say to evangelicals, your God is kind of a Dick.

He has brought on a virus that kills randomly because (so far):

  1. He hates fornicators
  2. He hates environmentalists 
  3. He hates gays
And the Evangelic Governor of Alabama has decided that the retarded don't need to be saved (LINK)

I mean, that is a Dick move.


My Mother Sent a Lovely Birthday Card

My mother sent me a lovely, funny birthday card.

On the outside.

On the inside it said, "You're Only As Old As You Feel".

How Mean! 

I feel 100.

This Ain't My First Rodeo (It's my second)

The Covid 19 pandemic is the second unknown killer I've been up against. I have to say the difference between this and AIDS is pretty stark.

With AIDS, the virus was discovered before the internet became a thang and trying to understand it wasn't subject to quite as much mis-information.

There was a lot of guessing and wrong assumptions, but the community (in that case, the gay community and a few cities) actively worked to prevent mis-information.

A community group called MotherCares LA came to gay bars to explain what AIDS was, how it spread and how to avoid it. They taught us bartenders, barbers and whoever would listen and dealt with the public.

And, although the death rate was closer to 50.0% than Covid's 1.0%, the panic was contained within a community that had been subject to jeers and attacks for decades. The gay community came together, with a huge assist from lesbians (who were uniquely safe from AIDS), to give out the right information, to protect friends and to stick up for loved ones.

In this crisis, the victims aren't nearly as stigmatized; no one says "they brought it on themselves". But the panic has turned into a constant low level dread. This panic doesn't give us a sense of community, since the way to avoid it is to avoid people.  And, Covid 19 seems indiscriminate and random, so it seems like maybe random fixes work (they are not working).

It's probably one of the reasons I currently LOATH Republicans and the President. They are using this fear to actively tear us apart. In word and deed, it is no better than telling AIDS patients they deserve to die.

Calling it the "Chinese Virus" has its direct lineage from Evangelicals calling AIDS "They Gay Curse". And so that naming infuriates me. It divides people and sets them up to actively hate others.

And the Republicans spinning how the threat is overblown because it hasn't hit their areas yet is anti-human. Literally.

I don't have much to say here, I suppose; but it is important to call out evil deeds when you see them. And to explain why your anger is there. I know I will never change Republican minds. As Taylor said years ago, haters gonna hate. But YOU and I have a choice.

Hate the comments. Stand up for the sick, the scared and the weak. Help where ever you can. We are in this together and don't let people devalue others (even Republicans). That isn't what humanity needs.

Trump has, is and will continue to fail Americans in pulling us together. So let's try to do it ourselves. It's definitely possible.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Quit Quoting Me! I'll Sue!

The Trump Election Committee is suing Priorities USA to pull this commercial. They claim Trump never said Covid 19 was a hoax.  Of course, the commercial ONLY uses his words.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Now this is funny


Where to Turn for REAL Information

To watch and listen to Conservative voices (Fox, Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc) is to get a bit of whiplash. And stupid people are responding to it.

Examples:
First. Trump and Fox said Covid 19 was a Democratic hoax, and so nothing much changed in the Red states. States like Arkansas where a church kept on meeting, and now 35 of them have Covid 19 symptoms (who knows how many have it without symptoms.) LINK

Then. Trump said the hydroxychloroquine would cure Covid 19 without understanding all the previous testing of it (LINK).  But, since people believe Trump, people are overdosing on it (LINK). Old people have also used it in a form that is used in aquarium cleaning and are dying in Arizona (LINK).

AND. Trump has been blaming China for this. Not as in, "the didn't tell enough poeple" but as in, "It might be a bioweapon". United States Senators are parroting this (okay maybe just Tom Cotton, a Trump in training) LINK.

Now! Fox News has asked "Is the cure worse than the disease?"with regards to the stock market. Since Trump thinks that only a great stock market will get him re-elected he has proposed opening business on Easter (April 12th). He has said "Is the cure worse than the disease?" And dopes follow his advice.

  • Evangelical Liberty University in Lynchberg Tennessee (yes, it is actually a city still named after illegally hanging black people) is reopening Monday, despite a growing virus stats in the community (LINK).
  • Lt. Governor of Texas (Texas!) said suggested that Grandparents and old people would willing sacrifice themselves for the sake of the economy. REALLY 

So, to recap:

was Hoax -> then We Have a Cure -> now Old People Want to Die for the Stock Market.

Yay! Second Billing

Usually we 'mos get the blame for evil. But the Head of the White Prayer Group is blaming Environmentalists first! 

Sure, I know that many homos are also environmentalists, but still; not being public enemy number 1 is good! (this is sarcasm, kids).


LINK

(De Blasio) I Still Hate This Guy

I cannot stand our Mayor De Blasio. His insistence on being on TV is second only to our own VSG Voldemort. NOW he wants to close the parks. STFU.

As you can see from the previous post, people are primarily doing well in the parks.

But he is getting a big head from press coverage AND it makes people forget what a dick he was. When this whole thing started and there were rumblings of Covid in February, he was still going to the gym.

And De Blasio can't just "go to the gym" in the City Hall basement. No, he's a freaking "man of the people" so he goes to Brooklyn. So everyday he, with a compliment of police officers, truck over to the Brooklyn YMCA so he can exercise with the people. He visited as late as a Monday a week ago.

The police are like, "Yo, the Brooklyn YMCA is a hothouse of germs, maybe take a few days off." He said no.

One of the many reasons the NYPD (and Manhattanites) hate him.

WTF

Here’s what else you need to know.

  • Mayor de Blasio was considering shutting city parks and playgrounds. He said yesterday that he would give residents until Saturday night to show that they could practice social distancing. If not, he said, he would be prepared to close parks and playgrounds “for the foreseeable future.”

Signs of Covid 19

Begin here in New York isn't a huge deal for me. I was at home about half time anyway, so I am used to this. Ed, who was a bit whingy the first week has settled in now. We go out around mid-day for a walk along the Hudson, people staying far apart.  (see below)


Just when it seemed we didn't see any evidence of the virus, a new tent popped up at Mt. Sinai up the street. And there it has stayed with anywhere from a couple to eight ambulances waiting to take people into the new triage. 

It's a bit scary.
Mt. Sinai's new triage tent. Emergency is full.

We are fine and have been self- isolating for a while, but it's getting a bit more intense around here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Time to Revisit Longwood Gardens

We are taking a look at Longwood Gardens again.  Why? Because if I don't I'll have to write up the latest asshatery emanating from the right.

Instead let us go way back to November and the beauty that is Longwood Gardens Winter displays.

When you first entered you were greeted by this view.

I love the detail on the lights inside the atrium. They were all done when it was DuPont's private Gardens.

This areas is the entrance to the "Children's Garden"

A Whimsical Dragon Fountain in the Children's Garden

You walked under this Phoenix Fountain

Other fountains shooting water over head in the Children's Garden

This wasn't particular anything, but I do love me some Birds of Paradise

They have a tone of indoor greenhouses and they were all beautifully lit

Sunday, March 22, 2020

What if you could always know how close you were to the Covid 19?


Let us say, for shits and giggles, you could wear a watch (Fitbit, Apple watch, whatever) and it could tell you:

  1. How close you were to someone with the virus
  2. If you had the virus
But it also would let the government know if you had the virus and were breaking curfew / isolation. 

Would you wear it?

Do you think the government should force everyone to wear them for safety?

What about when the crisis is over? 
What if the government asked you to keep wearing it, in case of a relapse? 

They could still check on you at any time to be sure you're not carrying the virus. Of course they could also tell:
  1. If you've been to the doctor
  2. If you've been to a Cannibus store
  3. If you attended a rally for a specific candidate
  4. If you've attended a protest
  5. If you've been speeding*
  6. If you cheated on your spouse
  7. If you left your child alone for more than 5 minutes

This isn't sci-fi, we are probably only about 6 months from this, if our governments really wanted to do it. We have the technology to see if you have a fever, if they add some capability to read vitals (like they can already do with diabetes and blood sugar) then this is perfectly possible once they sequence the virus.

And China already does the non-medical items with universal facial recognition.

Of course, then the government could track everyone, where they were at all times and they have supercomputers /AI large enough to track all this data now. 

Tracking is done know all the time with your smartphone and your car. At what point does "public safety" override privacy concerns?

The answer right now, might be different from the answer one gives when we aren't all quarantined.

*Most cars and all rental cars can already do this. If you're ever in a dispute with your rental car company and they want to be dicks, they can download all that information.

Just Because

This is me (the adorable one in the center) at, I think, my grandparents marriage anniversary party. I don't remember it, but that is my father, mother, Uncle Timo, me, my grandmother Honey (back when she still went by Donna) and my Grandfather Quintin DeYoung.
Wow, as they say.

Friday, March 20, 2020

And Now For Something Different

Before the lock-down, Eddie and I decided to go to the New York Subway museum. It was interesting to see the history of the subway, as well as pictures of then and now.


Sometimes I wonder who took all the old pictures of the city. MANY of them were taken by the subway crews. They photographed not just the workers, but nearly all the buildings along the routes. That way, if there was any damage to the foundations, the city could fix it.

It was cool. And then, downstairs, were all kinds of old subway cars from forever.

One of the very early trains.  The upholstery was woven ratan. 



These baby blue trains were "World's Fair Blue" and used as express to the World's Fair.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

PENGUINS

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is closed to people - so before the Rockhopper Penguins settled down to built their nests, the aquarium let them roam a bit.

It's very cute. (A second one on Instagram shows an Rockhopper staring hungrily at the Amazonian fish.)


It is odd...

It is odd in this country how we are all freaked out about giving everyone health care, but have trillions to throw at corporations.


No One Is Enjoying This You DumbAss

Fox... Making Scott's blood boil for 3 decades...


LINK (be ready with a barf bag)

One May Blame Gareth For This....

Monday, March 16, 2020

What The Hell, CBS? (Geography Nerd Posting)

On Saturday, CBS showed a graphic as they discussed expanding the travel restrictions to Ireland and the United Kingdom. Both countries are NOT in the "Schengen Area" where passport free travel is in place. The Schengen countries were all ready subject to travel restrictions.

The map they showed was idiotic in the extreme.

Images of this.

The map (below) is completely stupid for this purpose, as noted below the image:



Why?

  1. The first lump of Red is the island of Ireland without showing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom.  Had this been the only error, I would be okay with it.
  2. Above England they have shaded Scotland with random lines, even though it is part of the United Kingdom.
  3. The blue shaded area above Scotland are the Shetland Islands, part of Scotland and not covered by any unique US policy at all. It's just a part of the UK. It would be like coloring New Mexico in blue when shading the US red.
  4. As for the rest of Europe - just wow! First the Green areas. These are Norway, Sweden and Finland. There is no reason to color them anything separate. 
    1. Sweden and Finland are part of the EU - but there doesn't seem to be EU coloring.
    2. All three are part of Schengen, but so are 22 of the other countries on the map. 
    3. They are part of the Nordic Council (which is not interesting in the context of this story), but then so is Denmark, which is not shaded green.
  5. For an unknown reason, the red/gold areas are called out. These are (left to right) Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark (above Germany). No reason for different shading, they are all part of the Schengen Group AND the European Union.
  6. The gold areas are just coloring for no reason. 
    1. They aren't just Schengen Countries because they include Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Belarus and the Ukraine.
    2. They aren't just EU countries because they include the Balkans (Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, etc.)
    3. With Belarus and part of Russia included, they aren't even EU applicants. 
This is horrible map making.  A better map would simply be of the Schengen Countries and note that we are going to add restrictions for Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Image below.
How tough is this to pull off the net?

Sunday, March 15, 2020

We Weren't Designed (or Evolved) For This

Covid 19 spread too quickly. You know why, we weren't designed for this speed or amount of people. Studies have shown we can only care about 150 people (fewer if you're a Republican*).

And for the first few years decades centuries melennia we couldn't go much faster than we could run.
 


Then came cars and trains - and the first world war.



Then came planes and submarines and faster ships - and then the second world war.



Then came jets and world travel and Covid 19.



I don't think we should stop, but we should at least acknowledge that our eyes are bigger than our bellies to mangle an old saying.

About sums it up