Equinox sunset at Salk

Monday, April 6, 2020

Verlon Thompson and Jorma Kaukonen

Criitical diversions

It's been raining all day. I am sick of being in the house, sick of laying on the couch, sick of the stupid computer, sick of snacking, pissed that I don't have any ice cream, nothing to read, my body feels like crap from inactivity, going out of my MIND! I just watched the local weather. Five o'clock Wednesday night we are due for an hour of sunlight, then back to the deluge. All week.

I imagine that many of you have killed countless hours this past month on YouTube. I know I have. What have been your favorite diversions? What's the weirdest thing you have eaten during your confinement?

It's weird, I'm not even that much of a hockey fan but for a solid week I watched hockey fights. Not the games, the fights. Domi, Probert, Kocur and McSorley, McCarthy, Brashear and Wendel Clark. I'm kind of over that now. Domi was a psycho.

What else? I watch Ari, my favorite polyglot. He was in a chinese VR chat room last week when he realized that all the cute little girl bunnies and unicorns were really males, who for some reason liked to play girl in virtual land. Accepting as he is, he got the heck out of there.

I watch Max, the pet lynx. Max is beautiful and likes to dig in the snow. It is amazing how many people have pet bobcats and even pumas in their apartments. You watch one video and they eventually all roll in. Canadian lynx are beautiful.

I've been trolling the comments section at Fox a little bit.

I've watched a lot of famous performers give house concerts from their living rooms during the global crisis. Graham Nash, Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, Fogerty, Paul Simon. They pretty much all sound awful. I watched Jorma the other night from Fur Piece Ranch and he sounded pretty good as does Joan Baez but some of the other music was unlistenable.

I watch Eric Rosen kill everybody in chess. And Agadmator. Lets see, what else. Scammer Revolts goes into fake Indian call centers and deletes all the files on the Benchode's computers. That is kind of fun.

I watched Pistol Pete Maravich score 68 points on the Knicks yesterday, without a three point line. What a performer.

What else? Ice fishing for muskie and pike. Zatoichi the blind swordsman. Judo videos. Cape buffaloes going at it with lions. Zit popping. Poker vlogs. Honey badger vids. Early Cassius Clay fights. Efren Reyes shooting pool. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring goals. And on and on. Crap and more crap. Four or five more days of rain, watch me go freaking nuts.

What have you been doing?

Nothing is easy

He's back!

Like a bad wart or a nagging case of herpes, he was destined to slither out of whatever rock he has been hiding under. Ever wonder who put the information about the untested malaria drug under Trump's nose?

From the Washington Post: Giuliani, a familiar voice in Trump’s ear, promotes experimental coronavirus treatments.
In his newly fashioned role, Giuliani — who was widely praised for steering New York City with a steady hand through the 2001 terrorist attacks — has solicited medical tips from a controversial Long Island family doctor with a following in the conservative media, as well as a former pharmacist who once pleaded guilty to conspiring to extort the actor Steven Seagal.
So Trump would rather listen to a deranged lawyer turned politician who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a questionable family doctor on Long Island than his own pandemic experts? Beautiful. 
“We’ve got to take a little risk, god dammit, if we want to save lives. We are looking at a slaughter.” Rudy Giuliani
Rudy was on television recently hawking Hydroxychloroquine but he called it Hydroxyquintalone (sic). He said it was 100% effective and Twitter then blocked him for promoting falsehoods. Hey, he was close on the former anyway. Rudy had heard about a small study on the anti malarial drug done in France and rushed to tell the President. Unfortunately the lead researcher has a history of manipulating data. This study has been highly criticized in the scientific community. 

The president is famous for listening to people who know absolutely nothing about their subject. God help us. His minions sound very desperate. Their decision making is both irrational and ill advised.
Giuliani said that he has not discussed the treatment with Fauci, but that Trump agrees with him. “I’m sure he thinks I am an ignoramus,” he said of Fauci.“They’ve thrown cold water on it because they are academics,” he said of scientists like Fauci. “ ‘You can’t blind test it.’ I know you can’t blind test it. But we’ve got thousands of people dying, sweetheart. And by the time you blind test it, we’ll have 100,000 people who are dead. Why don’t we get in the real world of being a doctor instead of being an academic?”  
Next time you get sick and need help, call Giuliani or a social scientist or economist like Peter Navarro. They are obviously much more knowledgeable than medical doctors.

Real doctors at Mayo Clinic issue sudden death warnings about off use of malaria drug for patients with cardiac issues.

Pastor:  Trump has god's authority, so listen to him over his experts.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

How a Virus Spreads So Easily

Alex sent this to Bill, who sent it to me...

Hooded oriole

It is supposed to start raining pretty hard later today in my little corner of Southern California.  It's been dark and cloudy all day. I got up early to put the oranges and jam out for the orioles. And saw the pair for the splittest of seconds and then they disappeared into the senegalese date palm in a flash.

I sat down and watched the daily show at the bird feeder for about an hour. First to show were the white crowned sparrows, then the towhees, like clockwork the lesser goldfinches made their grand appearance. Couple scrub jays made the scene, then a house finch or two. The doves fluttered in, there is a definite pecking order at the feeder. And of course you get the guys who glean the ground for left overs too.

But the orioles never showed again. And since they eat fruit and not seed you normally don't see them near a feeder. But mine have been eating grape jelly for three days and I thought they would allow me at least a picture or two. Hey, a little gratitude!

Truthfully, they are the most furtive of birds, very cautious around humans. Bit ostracized from their avian cousins too, if truth be told, they tend to hang on distant branch.

And I started to think about them today. Could it be that they have a self awareness of their extraordinary beauty that seems to set them apart from the other birds in the yard and their world?

Little Kelly LeBrock's, don't hate me because I am beautiful... Is it possible that these birds have an attitude, an innate narcissism, a knowledge that they are the prettiest bird on the wing?

Are we dealing with a textbook case of Oriole superiority complex?

My spouse and I went for a walk, perhaps the last exercise we would get before the evening deluge.

I espied the oriole (not the one you see in the picture, that is from my files) on top of an orange tree in my yard, seemingly looking at me and taunting me.

Ha ha, you want to see me, it will be on my terms, pal.

So be it.

Down on the farm

Interesting article at CBS today - U.S. farmers are "gonna be in trouble" without foreign labor during the coronavirus pandemic. 
...Seasonal foreign labor, mainly from Mexico, always harvests Brim's crops, but this spring, he could be 200 workers short. The coronavirus crisis has delayed the U.S. government's processing of their work visas.
Brim is facing a series of harvest deadlines. The first one is April 15 for squash. May 1, it's cucumbers, and he better have his pickers in place, he said."When we start harvesting squash, we've got just days to pick it," Brim said. "So if our workers don't show up here on time, then we're gonna be in trouble." Jeremy White is in bigger trouble. His blueberry crop is days away from harvest. He needs 100 pickers and packers, but they're stuck in Guatemala, where the borders are sealed because of the virus. "We need 'em now. Absolutely, we need 'em now," White said. "As you can see, this fruit's turning blue and it's not waiting on anybody."More than $1 million worth of blueberries could rot in the fields, he said, and he has no plan B."Domestic labor just don't want to do this kind of work. It's unfortunate to say, but they just don't want to get out and do hard field labor anymore," White said.
Without foreign labor and with the border shut down, farmers are having a very difficult time harvesting their crops. Losses will be enormous and time is short. Ironic that an administration that came to power vilifying and villainizing latino immigrants as rapists and criminals now needs them if they want an adequate supply of food in this country. Couldn't make this stuff up.

Rock bottom

Google News brought me this headline from Newsweek this morning:


And I'm thinking, please don't tell me that I just read that. We are going to drop a long standing tradition of clinical trials and testing in this country because our great leader has a hunch? Now hydroxychloroquine may be the next best thing to mother's milk, I don't know. But that is not the way things work, are supposed to work, or used to work in this country. We listen to doctors and scientists, not lay despots with absolutely no training in medicine who happen to have a hunch.

One who thinks he knows better than the whole medical establishment, and his own experts for that matter, because Hannity and the right wing media machine has been on a bender of late extolling the virtues and efficacy of this unproven drug coupled with azithromycin. The conservative troops think there is a grand conspiracy in place to deny them a cure. The administration's top expert and point man, Dr. Fauci, says, not so fast.
On Friday, the federal government's top virologist, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, specifically warned what further studies are needed to determine whether the drugs touted by the president will work against COVID-19."We still need to do the definitive studies to determine whether any intervention, not just this one, is truly safe and effective," Fauci said during an appearance on Fox News.
It shows how desperate we are. and how utterly unprepared we were for a pandemic of this nature, and there were repeated warnings. Trump himself admits that he is not certain that his hunch is correct.
"So I want to keep them out of ventilators, I want to keep them -- if this drug works, it will be not a game changer because that's not a nice enough term. It will be wonderful, it'll be so beautiful, it'll be a gift from heaven if it works, because when people go into those ventilators, you know the answers, and I'm glad you don't write about it."
So he's willing to gamble with the health of our nation, roll the dice and back off on ventilators in favor of a very big if, an untested drug combination. Very sad.

I honestly feel very helpless and hopeless that we have reached a place where we are listening to an uneducated madman instead of people who have trained and studied their whole lives in order to solve just these sorts of problems.

As I mentioned yesterday, there are a myriad of potential cures in the works, undergoing trials. I have no doubt that we will find an answer soon to this microbial crisis. But let's proceed scientifically and not on a sociopathic narcissist's wild hunch.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Continuing medical adventures

I have a cold. Not terrible, just sniffles, runny nose, congestion. Your basic cold. And I've never been so glad to have one.

You see a week ago I traveled down to Hillcrest to get my immunotherapy treatment and they wouldn't give it to me. It turns out that I had an infection of some kind. I was told that the infection would render the cancer fighting BCG's benefits moot. I was prescribed a new antibiotic for the week, very strong.

I had forgotten to tell them that a week prior I had experienced a bad fever the night of my treatment, 100.7 degrees, nausea and vomiting. It was a not so good couple of days. I finally confessed.

So I get down there yesterday and give them a piss sample and it checks out this time but the nurse decides to take my temperature again and lo and behold, I was still running a fever. I honestly had no clue. Only 99.9 degrees but I had just told her how great I felt and she eyed me suspiciously and said, "Wait here."

Now let me set the scene a little bit. I am naked from the waist down, laying on an operating table, looking at a florescent light on the ceiling and the geometry of the plastic baffle in front of it. They are about to take a large syringe, stick it in the end of my penis and insert a passel of lydocaine gel. They then attach a clamp to your crank. After a period of time the doctor comes in and takes a large greased tube, slides it through your dick, past your prostate, about two feet in to your bladder, which is not exactly comfortable or a walk in the park and finally injects the inoculated tuberculin vaccine, which is supposed to save my bladder and life. You then find a place to roll over in every direction for an hour, to coat your bladder surface, unless of course you forget to do it like I did yesterday because there is no place to go and you have to wing it.

But I am getting ahead of my story. I am sitting there staring at the ceiling and I am thinking, "Oh fuck, I'm asymptomatic, low grade fever, what was that tickle in my throat, they are going to tell me that I have covid - 19. Who have I infected? Oh, jesus, what about the used mask I gave away to the Mexican guy in front of Thai Thai? Did I just sentence that poor bastard to death? Maybe Leslie is asymptomatic too. Did I get her sick? She's strong as a horse..."

For what seemed like an eternity I lay there. Thinking this is how the downhill slide starts. My mind was racing with worst case scenarios. Then the doctor and nurse came in. Poof! None of that. Obviously the full dose of treatment was too strong, I was reacting to it two weeks ago and I got sick. They cut the dose to twenty percent yesterday. Talk about relief.

So now I have a cold. But it won't kill me. Hoorah!

The crazy case of the fourth knight

An amazing chess puzzle. Solved by the incredible wizard of Riga, Mikhail Tal.

Trouble ahead, trouble behind...

3:10 from Seligman
I think I should note that I just passed nine thousand blog posts, making this number nine thousand and one. Not that nine thousand is any more important than six thousand three hundred and ninety seven or number one or even ten thousand in the great scheme of things but I tend to mark my steps and keep track in round numbers.

I guess I should say that I thought at some point that I would write a book, or write more of the short speculative fiction that I love but can never quite find the time to pursue.

It turns out that my literary fate instead has turned out to be more of scribing a running commentary on the day to day life we blasters face and the world we live in. And I guess I'm cool with that.

The most important thing is to have you on board and there are many of you, and many of us have been traveling this road together for a long time. If you didn't listen, lurk, comment and contribute it would, of course, be meaningless.

Thanks for being along for the ride.

Blast on and blast off. See you at ten thousand.

Faux news contagion

Widespread Panic

The lead guitar player is one of my favorites, Jimmy Herring. Nice job. And nice lead vocals by what's his name John Bell. Actually a lot of beautiful covers of the great Bill Withers tune out there.

Master of disaster and the birds don't care

It has been an interesting day, a mixed blessing. Leslie bought me some Smuckers grape jelly and I hollowed out a half an orange, filled it with the jam and stuck it on a metal point on my bird feeder last night. The hooded orioles went crazy for the stuff. When I went outside this morning they were on the tree next to the feeder.

I ended up buying an oriole feeder on Amazon with spare credit card points. Going to take a while to get here. Will try to snap some pictures of the beautiful birds in the interim.

These are pictures of a little bird that are called scaly breasted munia. It is a finch, first described in 1758 by Linnaeus. They only started hanging around my feeder last year.

Natives of India and southeast Asia, they started to be seen in California sometime in the 1980's. Very cute little guys.

Everybody is happy in the yard, including the lesser goldfinches.

I went into work this morning hoping to cut through my application nightmare on disaster relief. I had no success with unemployment. The EDD online portal asks you for your last W-2 and I haven't had one since 1993. So even though they now are supposed to grant benefits to the self employed, the web portal simply isn't set up to. So I will wait, hopefully someone is fixing the problem. I know I am not the first but I dashed off a couple letters to them anyway.

I managed to get ahold of someone at SBA who knew what they were talking about. The good news is that she found my EIDL submission, which had a first number that started with 2. The bad news is that it was never assigned to a lender and was now effectively moot. So nice to talk to someone in government who was knowledgable and that I could rely on, for better or for worse.

So the very nice woman held my hand and directed me to the proper place and I refiled my application, which now starts with the number 3. (If you filed previously and have a number starting with 2, forget about it. It is dead. refile) Here is the app link. She was emphatic in making sure that I wrote the number down that I was assigned at completion because there is no email confirmation this time (not like the last one did any good.) You give them your banking and routing number and presto, supposedly if all is copacetic, money ends up in your bank account. Warning: You cannot file both EIDL and the PPP at the same time. One or the other according to the rep. Try it and you might just get them both tossed. 

Anyway hoping someone out there can benefit from my troubles and tribulations. That is why I am recounting my journey. So now I am refiled, have my number, have my fingers crossed and we will all see what happens.

Good news on the covid front

It is not all doom and gloom regarding the Covid - 19 virus. A lot of brainpower is going into beating this deadly microbe. And things actually look very promising.

Scripps Research may have found the virus's "Achilles heel."
...Wilson examined an antibody that had been taken from a SARS patient years ago and noticed that it latched onto a specific place in that virus.The team then discovered that the same SARS antibody latched onto virtually the same spot on the coronavirus. The antibody did not grip it quite as hard, but it helped identify the spot as a possible weak point in the makeup of the virus.“That high degree of similarity implies that the site has an important function that would be lost if it mutated significantly,” Scripps Research said in a statement Friday.
A common parasite drug called Ivermectin has been shown to kill the coronavirus in a laboratory setting in 48 hours. It also has potential as an anti malaria drug - Lancet. Here is the technical paper.
"Ivermectin is very widely used and seen as a safe drug. We need to figure out now whether the dosage you can use it at in humans will be effective—that's the next step," said the study's leader Dr. Kylie Wagstaff in a statement."We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it," she added.The exact manner in which the drug is able to kill the virus is not yet known, although Wagstaff said it was likely done by "dampening down" the ability of host cells to clear the drug.
A potential corona vaccine candidate has been developed by a team of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh. I am not sure if this mirrors the Scripps work but the cellular geography sounds very similar.
“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” said Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-senior author of the study, in a statement.Researchers used mice in the study, delivering the vaccine to them through a “fingertip-sized patch” that they claim “produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus.” The mice began to develop antibodies against the novel virus two weeks after receiving the shot, according to the study.
An HIV drug named leronlimab is moving to phase II trials at the FDA and has been shown to improve the health of coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
CytoDyn, developer of leronlimab announced in a press release that after 3 days of treatment with leronlimab, 8 patients with COVID-19 who are seriously ill have shown an improvement in several important immunologic biomarkers, including cytokines, interleukin (IL)-6, and a trend toward the normalization of the CD4/CD8 ratio.5
There are actually at least 44 different Covid 19 clinical trials underway at this moment in the United States - Business Insider. Along with the BCG information I posted earlier, I think that there is good reason for hope.

Cheap gas

I paid $2.04 for gas yesterday in Escondido. Fifth and Centre City. It was a penny less across the street but the place was packed. So I splurged. What's a penny to a rich guy like me?

This may not sound cheap to the rest of the country but we pay notoriously high gas prices in California and even more so in Fallbrook. Fallbrook Shell is currently $3.19.

For the life of me I can't figure out why Oceanside and Escondido can sell cheap gas but we always get gouged? A cartel?

Guess it is whatever the market will bear. Joys of capitalism.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Wear a mask

When I drove through Fallbrook town this morning I saw a lot of people walking around without masks. I think that is foolish. At this point everyone should have at least a cloth mask and be wearing it in public.

There are currently at least six known covid -19 cases in Fallbrook, we are not immune. Do you really want to play Russian roulette with your life? And since so many cases are asymptomatic, how do you really know that you are not endangering others? Masks work both ways, you know.

It is not just about you, it is about all of us. Masks make a difference and you know better. You can make one with an old t-shirt and scissors, there are a million how to's out there. The six foot distance is not enough and experts now say that the virus can be transmitted by normal talking.

I even know some of you but rather than bust you here on the blast I want to exhort you to please wear one in public. I have been and it is not a big deal and actually makes me feel much more secure. I don't go out in public without gloves and a mask. Neither should you. Especially at Major, Grocery Outlet and Albertsons. Don't even think of breathing on the rest of our food.

I found it interesting that on the same day that the first lady Melania tweeted that every American should be wearing a mask her husband said that he would not be wearing one. Don't be like her husband. You're much smarter than that. Flatten the curve.

Orange abomination

I don't know if you have noticed but I am taking the gloves off. It is too hard to not call them as I see them in these incredibly difficult times. You are entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine. If you are offended by my rank partisanship I certainly apologize.

But I must say there is something so incredibly rich and ironic in Trump today forbidding the export of certain types of medical equipment overseas, including to Europe, Canada and Latin America. This is happening the same week it was discovered that his own USAID was sending protective masks overseas gratis while we were rationing them here at home at the Veterans Administration. Palm meet forehead.
“To ensure that these scarce or threatened PPE materials remain in the United States for use in responding to the spread of COVID-19, it is the policy of the United States to prevent domestic brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries from diverting such material overseas.”
3M thinks the move is inhumane and incredibly shortsighted.
“The idea that we’re not doing everything we can to maximize deliveries of respirators in our home country – nothing is further from the truth,” Roman said.The company said in a response to the president’s executive order that the Trump administration “requested that 3M cease exporting respirators that we currently manufacture in the United States to the Canadian and Latin American markets.”But “there are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies” to health care workers in those countries, where 3M is a “critical supplier of respirators,” 3M’s statement said.“In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done,” the company said.
This is so typically Trumpian, so reflexive, reactionary and short sighted. Alienate an American company that has ramped up production and is doing their best so that you can look decisive. A company that makes two thirds of its masks overseas. Limited attention span, just grab for the nearest hanging fruit and try to hang on. Find a new enemy at every opportunity. For a supposed great businessman, he shows such a lack of preparedness, a complete lack of self awareness and an inability to either get along with others or to multitask. No wonder so many of his companies and ventures went bankrupt.

I rarely agree with conservative columnist Marc Thiessen. But he has a recent spot on column about the pandemic that asks some very important questions about how we were so utterly unprepared to deal with the crisis we find ourselves in today. The problem started long before Trump.

Shaky ground

We just got hit with a pretty strong shaker. I guessed and told Leslie I thought it was 4.7, close, it was a 4.6 4.9. Couple strong rolling aftershocks too. Epicenter located 17kn e-se of Anza. 11km deep.

The storm is coming

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem doesn't want her citizens to get too worked up about the Corona virus. "South Dakota is not New York City," she said at a Wednesday news conference.
"The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety," Noem said. "They are the ones that are entrusted with expansive freedoms. They're free to exercise their rights to work, to worship, and to play. Or to even stay at home, or to conduct social distancing."
"Our sense of personal responsibility, our resiliency and our already sparse population density put us in a great position," she said, "to manage the spread of this virus without needing to resort to some of the measures that we've seen in some of these major cities, coastal cities and in other countries."
Famous last words? I am not a doctor, a governor or even an epidemiologist. But I think she is making a big mistake. They seem very ill prepared. The state health lab already ran out of test kits last week. Read this article, Virus spreads through South Dakota family's close ties. And consider the point made by the experts in this story. Rural populations may even be more at risk. Something about reading this struck me.There may be less people in rural America but they have a history of heavily relying on each other. And that could prove to be a real problem with this pandemic.
Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday said the state's sparse population would slow the spread of the virus, factoring into her plans to not issue stay-at-home orders and instead to rely on voluntary compliance with recommendations to halt group gatherings. But Caterina Scoglio, a professor at Kansas State University who studies how viruses spread through rural communities, said small towns can have unique vulnerabilities that cities don't have.“In rural areas, there are normally fewer contacts with people but those contacts are based on strong ties,” she said.That's why health care workers in South Dakota are emphasizing that family members should help each other by staying apartIt's counterintuitive for some people, said Misty Rudebusch, a physician's assistant who runs a clinic in the town of Howard.“We have generations of families that make those communities," she said. “Everyone learns to rely on their neighbor.”
I hope that these people don't learn the hard way. But they just don't seem to get it.

Disaster Relief

When the San Diego County Covid 19 portal provided me with a link for SBA disaster funding two weeks ago, I took it, as did several of my friends with my prodding. A lifeline. I filled out a voluminous application and received not one but two emails back from the SBA telling me that my application was under review and providing me with a 10 digit reference number.

I have been waiting for over ten days to hear back from them but no big, they are busy. Beggars can't be choosy in times like these. I appreciate any help I can get. Still it was a little disconcerting yesterday when I read in Newsweek that all of these pending disaster loan applications would be thrown in the trash and that I needed to start over again. Behold, there are new programs. Is this true? Who knows...

I called SBA twice yesterday for clarification. You can imagine how long it took to get a hold of a live body. I received two completely different answers from the two different representatives. Start over and just wait. What do you do?

I kept looking for info today, see I have a lot of questions. Do I get any benefit for having been in the queue? And why do I have to read about it online, wouldn't you think the government would email us and tell us that it was time to start over? Because a lot of people might not get the news or even know exactly what to believe? Is it possible that my original application is still in some bureaucratic hopper somewhere with a remote chance of success?

The new program from Bank of America doesn't exactly fit a sole proprietor with no employees who's shop has been open for twenty three years, being based exclusively on payroll. I guess I will push every button I can tomorrow if I am feeling up to it, the chemo wipes me out for a day or two.

What a ridiculous way to roll out a program but I guess that is what happens when you are making it up as you go along and doing everything on the fly. But it would sure be nice to hear from somebody official regarding my previous submission. Or is that an unreasonable level of expectation? Not just me of course, thousands more like me...

This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)

short takes

Orwellian response 101 -
“The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile.” It’s not supposed to be the states’ stockpiles that they then use.” Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner took a lot of flack in the media last night for claiming that the Strategic National Stockpile's reserves are the property of the federal government, not the states. People were rightly wondering, well then who exactly are they for? The royal plutocracy? Mar-a-lago? In fact the DHS text characterizes them as the "nation's largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out."

Well, wouldn't you know it. Today the old text was scrubbed and replaced on all germane federal websites. The new description describes the role of the National Stockpile as "to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies. Many states have products stockpiled, as well. The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available.” Horrible conceptually and grammatically as well, especially the second truncated sentence. It all seems like a quickly and poorly worded cover your ass add on.

George Orwell said that he who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. This type of instant literary sleight of hand and doublespeak on the part of our leaders is not reassuring.

Commodore Pellew - Hornblower
Navy Captain Brett Crozier was summarily dismissed from his command of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt today. 

He briskly walked down the gangway and saluted his troops, who cheered mightily for him. 

But he had the audacity to call a spade a spade, and not respect the chain of command. 

You see the higher ups were doing nothing for his men and those men he commanded were being quickly lost to an on board plague of Covid 19 virus in a horrible battle of attrition. Career, poof...

I was not there but I am betting that if this man had not spoken and become a squeaky wheel, nothing would have been done for his charges. They would still be sitting out there in the middle of the drink infected. So he did something. He made sure that their voices were heard. Made the Acting Navy Secretary and the admirals look bad. But the people on board that vessel know what he did for them and also know that this man sacrificed his whole career for their lives. I'd give him a medal. He acted for something bigger than himself. Why don't you ask them? My bet is that they will be grateful until the day they die.

Grandma's Hands

Lovely assassin

I had to go the pharmacy yesterday to pick up a script for Leslie. First trip out in two days.

When I came back and was just about to turn in to my driveway I thought I espied two birds on the telephone wire, right above my driveway, one showing a reddish chest.

I pulled in and there was this red shouldered fellow, watching my bird feeder like a hawk. Which is understandable, considering.

Along with his pal, the mockingbird. Just happened to have a camera on my seat.

As you can see, the mockingbird decided to scram. Why stick around?

Red shouldered and Cooper's hawks like to eat little birds. This was quite brazen for him, a new perch.

The sun had not yet risen when I shot the picture on the masthead of the mother hawk sitting on her clutch.

Handheld, shot at iso, 4500, it was pretty noisy and the bird is not in perfect focus.

Will try to get a better one off the tripod soon.

One hundred years from now

This album was released in August of 1968. It featured new member Gram Parsons, who did not mesh real well personally with Roger McGuinn but was a phenomenal singer and performer. Parsons had a legal dispute with another producer and it forced the Byrds to scrub his voice off many songs on the album, including this one. Chris Hillman and McGuinn share the lead but they were not entirely successful in wiping him off and you can still hear Gram's beautiful voice in the background if you listen hard enough.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

BCG and Coronavirus

Jon Harwood sent me this incredible article on BCG and Covid-19. Apparently in countries where it is being used as a vaccine there is a pronounced lower rate of covid 19 sickness. I am currently undergoing BCG treatments for my bladder cancer and was part of one of the earliest study groups in the 1980's. BCG is a tuberculin vaccine which boosts the bodies immune system in ways that are still not totally understood. I happen to be getting a treatment tomorrow morning.
The study published on medRxiv ( a site for preliminary medical reseach, finds an interesting correlation between countries that require people to get Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine and those showing fewer numbers of confirmed cases and deaths from Covid -19.
Does it give me extra protection and added immunity against the coronavirus? Hope I never find out but if so, I will take it, in any case.
‘It’s like the BCG vaccine creates bookmarks for the immune system to use later.’
Of course this is speculative right now but still a very intriguing avenue for further research. Unfortunately there is already a huge demand for the vaccine which is not being met adequately globally. Honestly, I always thought BCG was a wonder drug. Saved my ass this time for sure.

More from Mother Jones:
In a 2015 meta-study, researchers analyzed hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations in Spain that occurred between 1992 and 2011 and found that 10- to 14-year-olds who had received the BCG vaccine at birth saw nearly 70 percent fewer hospital visits due to non-tuberculosis infections than those who had not. In 2018, a study of more than 3,000 hospitalized adults in New Zealand showed that having previously gotten the flu shot decreased the severity of illness and hospitalization time for people who ultimately contracted the flu—even for strains they hadn’t been protected against. The average vaccinated patient, the study found, spent four fewer days in the ICU for flu-related infections than their unvaccinated counterparts. (The flu vaccine also reduces your risk of hospitalization in the first place.) And in 2019, a small study led by researchers in England suggested that the typhoid vaccine, made with a weakened form of salmonella, might also help combat the flu by giving the immune system a “boost” to fight other pathogens.

The ol' blame game

There's so many fingers pointed every which way it is hard to assign proper blame for the coronavirus. What's a person to do? Dr. Birx and Ivanka Trump say it's those damn millennials. Millennials blame old people. Senator Cotton blames China. Beth Cameron blames John Bolton. John Bolton blames both China and the angry left. Tim Morrison blames Obama for leaving the pandemic response unit with "bloat." Mitch McConnell blames democrats and their damn impeachment. Hannity and Ingraham put the blame on the shoulders of a liberal media doomsday cult. Breitbart blamed scientists for not "being good communicators." Limbaugh blamed wimp politics, which is liberalism. Preacher Hank Kunnamen blames abortion, for triggering god's wrath. Pence wants to blame the CDC. And Trump wants to blame everybody but himself. States, doctors, media, governors, past administrations, hospitals, democrats, Americans, General Motors, etc. As usual.  He's the bizarro world Harry Truman - The buck never stops here. I put the words Trump Blames into the Google search engine, got eleven full pages of citations...

Do this, don't do that, can't you see the sign?

As I have previously mentioned, the amount of people at the top of our road out hiking has been staggering. For the most part they have been well behaved and decent enough but there are always some people. Found trash, condoms.

I think many of these people don't realize that residents actually live near their playground. Some of them drive cluelessly on the road down to the river, a narrow two lane affair, not easy in the best of circumstances. We have had to dodge several of them, on our side of the yellow stripes, mostly young and on their phones. It gets very dangerous.

The day before yesterday the narrow road was blocked by a large white truck. I couldn't get through. The occupant, a young tall kid, was jawing with my neighbor. Later I was told that he had been driving recklessly up and down the road at top speed and had got himself stuck. She was giving him hell when I drove up but I really didn't know what was transpiring. He told her it was a public river and he would do whatever he wanted. It's not.

When he left, he tore out past me and sprayed rocks all over my car. With a smile. Like a total a-hole. I had nothing to do with their conversation, learned later he had been speeding up and down the road like hell with his little blond girlfriend. Hope that I run into him again.

So it was cool today to see the sign at the head of the trail. Trail closed.

There was a no parking sign parked on the Wildlands Conservancy property too. When I came back there were three cars parked there. Right in front of the sign.

Because people feel entitled.  And act so irresponsibly. Now if we could only close the road too.

Strapped to the mast

I went into town to pick up a prescription. Stopped and got some takeout from the Thai restaurant. It would be Leslie's first meal "out" in three weeks. I was singing this song to myself the whole time. After our meal and I was done doing dishes, I realized that I was still whistling the tune. Then I opened up my email and Kathie had sent me this link. Funny synchronicity. Always my favorite Jack Bruce song. Call me a Homer.

Salvos from the hinterlands

My blog has been getting an inordinate number of hits from Ukraine today, near 11k 22k at this point. They emanate largely from an address with acunetix in the url.

While I am not so narcissistic as to be flattered, or worried in the least, since the Google blogger platform is essentially bullet proof, I do think I am being probed for a large spam attack of some kind.

The more paranoid Robert wondered for a brief second if it could be politically motivated but quickly dismissed the notion. Was it something I said? Doubtful.

Or who the hell knows? In the words of McCoy, Damn it Jim, I'm a gluttonous writer who sells art for a living, not a computer scientist!

Do you see the tiny boot shaped country bottom left of Ukraine? That is Moldova, land of my mother's forefathers. It has been passed around a lot and was once a province of Romania. My grandfather Mordko Wainrober was very poor there and did what he had to do to survive, an employment record that apparently included smuggling wheat, stealing horses and working as a furrier.

He lived in a small shtetl called Yedinitz, also named Edinet. Edinet is the area shown in red. When he left in the early 1920's to join his brothers in Providence, Rhode Island, he was forced to sign a letter to the King of Romania promising that he would never return. It was a horrible place for our kind, why would he want to?

He never did and I don't think I shall ever either.

I was making small talk with a Romanian the last time I was in Europe. He spoke wistfully of other cultures, said that Romanians were different, they had a clear propensity to stab each other in the back. Dog eat dog. No loyalty, no brotherly elan. Every man for himself. Odd that he should volunteer that.

I just checked the little location tracker on the left column of the page. Funny enough, the calls aren't emanating from Ukraine, they are instead coming from Moldova. Bastards won't leave us alone.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Circles in sand

Surf shots

Tyler Wright - Trestles Pro

Jonathan Hill asked me to post some of my favorite surf pictures. I really don't take very many but let me see if I have a couple packed away somewhere.

This shot was taken the biggest surf I can remember in the north county of San Diego, Swamis Beach - December 5, 2007.

The streets of Encinitas were packed like sardines with people looking for a sight of the large waves.

I had pretty antiquated gear back then so I don't have great surfing shots but thought you might like a shot of the lineup.

Dropping in at the Wedge, Newport Beach, August 26, 2014.

surfer - Huntington Beach Pier

Swamis soul surfer 10/4/2015

Igarashi - Trestles
Otton - Trestles

I don't think my surf pictures are necessarily any good but I do think my approach is a little bit atypical. Perhaps one day I will have an opportunity to perfect my craft. I now have a drop in circular polarizer for my long lens. That should help.

Coco Ho - Trestles Pro 9/8/16
Bethany Hamilton - Trestles Pro

Light and darkness

Someone landed on this shot today on the blog, I don't remember when I shot it but I do remember I liked the value range. This is a very low resolution version, perhaps I will find my original one of these days and take another look at it. Properly fix it up.

I was listening to KNX this morning and I heard a new phrase for 2020. Or at least new to me.

A firm that was advertising was there to help your company with your "hyper convergence technology" requirements.

Corona zips

San Diego County released a covid 19 chart listing number of cases by zip code yesterday. My zip code, 92028, is currently listed with four. Hillcrest, 92103, is now getting hammered with 57. La Jolla, 92037, isn't doing so well, either.

This might be because of the large number of medical facilities in both places, I am not sure. But they are locales, like all locales, where people need to be very careful.

But Hillcrest is also where I travel weekly for my cancer treatments. Leslie is now accompanying her friend Melissa to chemo treatments too.

I need to find two cotton masks, for my wife and I. If you know anybody making or sewing them, please let me know.

postscript: Leslie and I were given four beautiful hand sewn masks today, thank you! Hers is purple.

Infectious happiness - bakadesuyo

$162.00 ventilator?

Newly discovered September 2019 White House report Mitigating the Impact of Pandemic Influenza through Vaccine Innovation

Navy scuttles sailors.

Anytime an earthquake goes off there is a guy from St. Louis on the internet named Michael Janitch who screams doom and gloom and  needlessly triggers everybody. Because he knows when they are coming... Guy has been banned from YouTube. The latest Idaho earthquake caused the magma flow of the normal cassandra like bleatings. Yellowstone was going to blow up. Except it isn't. Thanks, I will listen to the geologists, vulcanologists and seismologists. And if you scream every single day, chances are you will be right once or twice. It is called the law of averages.