Like many across the country, our home is practicing social distancing and being quarantined at home. I thought I’d share our situation and perhaps you might share yours in the comments below.

Quarantine tape spread out

Normally I am on the road working disaster response and recovery at the location of the event, but not this time. Last Wednesday I was informed that I would be separated from the Hurricane Maria and Earthquake disasters I was working in Puerto Rico (and where I was supposed to be returning to this past Monday) and would instead be virtually deployed to the COVID-19 disaster declaration that was granted to New Jersey. I began working remotely from home on Thursday. We are currently working 10 hours a day 7 days a week. I am pretty much glued to my work laptop and work phone.

Currently, I am sequestered in the front family room with all my equipment set up. Amber, who is also required to work from home, is set up in her bedroom. Abby, who is required to do virtual schooling, is set up either in her bedroom or sometimes the living room.

Cindy is the one working the hardest of all of us. She does the shopping, runs the errands, prepares the meals (Amber and I have lunch at different times, so she even makes us separate lunches), oversees Abby’s schooling, still creates products for her business and delivers them to nearby customers and, when she has a few minutes to catch her breath, sits quietly in the family room where I am to read or take care of online contacts, just so we can see a little bit of each other throughout the day.

We try to have dinner together once I get off work, around 6pm, and watch a movie (last night it was the first Avengers movie, so that was fun) or if they want to watch one of their chick flicks (I AM outnumbered here) then I leave them to the living room and go read or write like I’m doing now in the family room or our bedroom. Sunday I was exhausted and didn’t even eat dinner; I just shut down my work laptop and went to bed. I needed the rest.

For me, this is VERY different. After 13 years, I’ve grown used to working alone in a hotel room when it was needed, doing what I want after work and enjoying the quiet. Social distancing was pretty normal for my everyday life. But I’ve had to make adjustments to being in a houseful of other folks, even ones I love.

How is it for you while being quarantined at home? Are you making adjustments to this new normal? Or has your day to day living situation not really changed that much?

Are We Overreacting to COVID-19?

Tuesday , 17, March 2020 Comments Off on Are We Overreacting to COVID-19?

Coronavirus QuarantineInteresting timing on this article (go read it, I’ll wait here) as just yesterday I had a friend of mine ask (via text) a lot of these same questions, which essentially boil down to, “Is this all just a huge overreaction?”

It’s a fair question and, given some of the extreme provisions that have been implemented, understandable. Especially when those implementations affect us personally. Those kind always elicit a feeling of “going too far” and, again, is understandable.

But my short answer to my friend yesterday was, “No, we’re not overreacting.” In fact, given the progress of COVID-19 across the world, I wish this administration had instituted these measures 2 or 3 weeks ago. I feel like we would be a lot closer to slowing down the spread of this thing here if we had.

Healthcaregivers assisting patient on groundThis virus is highly communicable and, in some cases, deadly. Especially so to those who fall in the demographics of being older and/or have underlying medical conditions. The whole purpose of the “social distancing” advice is to reduce the communicability of COVID-19 so that fewer people overall contract the virus and thus fewer people infect others and ultimately reduce the pressure on the healthcare system to deal with those who are sick. Doctors, nurses, hospital beds and medication (when it becomes available) are all finite. So the fewer people who fall ill, the better for all of us.

In Italy, ventilator shortages (because so many people were infected) cause healthcaregivers to make horrendous choices as to who would get a ventilator and who would not, ultimately resulting in the death of the person who did not get a ventilator.

“Some doctors have said that they sometimes make the call on who gets treatment based on the age of the patient.”

I fear that, where countries like Italy are NOW is where the United States WILL BE in another 2 weeks. Those who feel we are “overreacting” may have a change of heart if the decision about who to treat comes down to their parent, grandparent, older sibling or loved one. I am hopeful that, if we fully implement and adhere to these measures that some view as “overreacting”, we will find ourselves in a much better position. The more we do, even if bothersome or painful, the closer we’ll get to flattening that curve we all keep seeing on the news.

Coronavirus Flattening the Curve Graphic

If not, I think people a month in the future will be feeling that we did not “overreact” enough. I hope I’m completely wrong.

Novel Coronavirus

Monday , 16, March 2020 Comments Off on Novel Coronavirus

Coronavirus SignWhen I first heard about the Novel Coronavirus, I thought it was new book about a worldwide pandemic.

Turns out, this is a “book” I don’t want to read.

But we’re strapped into our chairs with our heads belted into position and our eyelids held open against our will as we’re forced to watch this horror unfold in our country and across the world.

Hopefully, the words “The end” will be written sooner rather than later. It’s time for this story to be over.

Long-Time Listener, First-Time Voter

Friday , 13, March 2020 Comments Off on Long-Time Listener, First-Time Voter

Today marked an auspicious event in my oldest grandson’s life. This long-time listener and observer of world and American politics exercised the rights afforded him by turning 18 years of age back in June of last year and became a first-time voter this morning during early voting in Florida. He’s been eagerly awaiting this opportunity for a long time.

Congratulations Mikey!

I’m especially pleased that exercising his right to vote is important to him. I know that, for some people, it is not. And I even understand some of their reasons for that.

Vote (I Did!) stickerBut it has always been important to me, especially in presidential elections. I could not vote in a presidential election until I was 21 because of my how my birthday fell in relation to national election years, so it excites me that he could do so this soon after his 18th birthday.

Mikey doesn’t like to have photos taken of himself, but I asked his mom if she could try and get him to let one be taken of him this time for the importance of this occasion (and yes, so granddad could see his oldest grandson voting for the first time) and thankfully he agreed. The only stipulation was I could not share it on social media, so I can’t show it to you. But he looked very proud holding his “VOTE (I Did!) sticker in front of the polling place, and I’m proud too.

Flying The Friendly Skies of COVID-19

Thursday , 12, March 2020 Comments Off on Flying The Friendly Skies of COVID-19

CoronavirusA week from tomorrow I fly from San Juan to Orlando, a flight I’ve taken many times in the past almost-two-years that I’ve been working here on The Enchanted Island.

Regardless of whether I’ve taken the 5am flight out or the later 6:20am flight out, one thing has remained consistent; the plane is always full. And I mean completely full or one empty seat.

That’s it.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. There is, and has been for 30+ years, a large Puerto Rican population in Orlando. Friends and family members travel back and forth to visit all the time.
  2. Disney World, Universal Studios and, to a lesser extent, Sea World. Families come to Orlando all the time to visit the theme parks. They are what keep the Central Florida economy moving, as we found out when 9/11 happened and tourism in the area dried up to almost nothing.

Disney World

 

So I’m curious to see what effect COVID-19 will have on my usual flight home next Friday.

Empty airplane seatsWe’re hearing anecdotal stories from other flyers in the U.S. that their flights, when available, are not flying with the usual number of passengers. I’m wondering; will the plane be full as usual or only partially full? Will it even be half full?  Will families decide not to take their children to theme parks in an effort to reduce exposure to the virus? Will grandparents opt of visiting their families because they (the grandparents) are more susceptible to the virus?

Or will everything be more or less…normal?

People in airport with COVID-19 maskaIt’s something I won’t probably know until next Friday morning when I arrive at the airport, unless something else happens in the next 7 days, which is entirely in the realm of probability. This thing is blossoming all over the world and the U.S. so quickly that we really don’t know what the next week will bring.

But we’ll find out in a little over a week. See you then.

Happy Leap Day and Happy Birthday Superman!

Saturday , 29, February 2020 Comments Off on Happy Leap Day and Happy Birthday Superman!

Leap Day

Today is that day that only rolls around every four years; Leap Day. In school we were taught that every year has 365 days…except Leap Year which occurs every four years on February 29th. The reason is that February 29th every four years helps keep our calendars aligned with planet Earth’s rotation around the sun.

Mike Lombardi, who leads the Time and Frequency Services Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and is a timekeeping expert explains, “A year is about 365.25 days long, so adding one extra day every four years is necessary to keep the calendars accurate.”

Six hours doesn’t seem like much difference, but after four years we’d be an entire day behind. A decade down the road our calendars would be 2.5 days off. So February 29th is essential to our keeping measurements of time in sync.

Superman’s Birthday

But, more importantly, February 29th is the day Superman celebrates his birth. Now, I know the first comic book Superman appeared in was published in 1938, which was NOT a leap year (that would come two years later in 1940), but we’re talking about the characters’ birthday and that has been established by the company that has been publishing comic books with Superman in them since that historic date.

Back during the Silver Age of comics (the best Age, in this writer’s mind) editor Julie Schwartz stated on a number of comic book letter pages that Superman’s official birthday was on February 29th. At the time it was as a sort of lark on his part to “explain” why Superman could still appear to be young, since his birthday would have come around every four years instead of every year.

That declaration stuck.

When “Time” magazine published a story about the character in 1988 that story stated the character’s birthdate was…February 29th!

There was even a story in Superman Annual #11 that showed Superman’s friends gather to wish him a happy birthday on…February 29th!

Page from Superman Annual #11

Here’s a link to an article that goes into much more detail about the subject, if you have an interest in this sort of thing.

So, Happy Leap Day to all and Happy Birthday to Superman, the greatest hero of all time!

Fellow superheroes wishing Superman a Happy Birthday

The Heart Knows What The Mind Does Not

Thursday , 27, February 2020 Comments Off on The Heart Knows What The Mind Does Not

The 17th century philosopher, Pascal, wrote “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.” that I have paraphrased as the heart knows what the mind does not.

It’s been a nasty couple of days and my mood has reflected it, though I wasn’t quite sure why.

Yesterday afternoon I had some unpleasant news shared from my employer, not for me specifically but for all of us, that soured me a lot more than I expected it to. An incident in the office also found me reacting more harshly than is usual for me. Sleep last night was fitful and this morning… well, as I put it to Cindy, “I’m very short-tempered and I don’t like that.” I know I have not been my usual self around my co-workers, but they have been gracious enough not to mention it. And I have tried to purposefully be my best, but I don’t have a poker face and sometimes my sarcasm will not be reined in, lol.

When I ended our usual morning call with Cindy today she closed by saying, “Whenever you’re feeling aggravated and frustrated today, please remember that I love you.” And some people might laugh, but those words and that concern from her heart lightened my own heart quite a bit.

Then, later today, the fact that the heart knows what the mind does not was borne out when I realized during a walk to lunch that it was 10 years ago tonight, February 27, 2010, that my mother passed away. Sometimes my grief and sadness manifest itself in the exact feelings I described above. I’m not proud of that, just acknowledging that it happens. Even when I’m not conscious of the “why”, they still pop up.

Mom in 1990

I wouldn’t say that realizing the sad anniversary was on my mind even when I wasn’t consciously thinking about it has removed all of my nasty mood, but at least I think I know now why these things that I can usually “roll” with have instead heavily pulled me down the past couple of days.

Because the heart knows what the mind does not.

Misssion Rehearsal Training at the NETC

Tuesday , 11, February 2020 Comments Off on Misssion Rehearsal Training at the NETC

FEMA Emergency Management Institute logoLast Sunday, February 2nd, I flew to BWI to attend a week of Mission Rehearsal Training at the National Emergency Training Center/Emergency Management Institute located in Emmitsburg, MD.

After a 90-minute bus drive with about 30 other students, some for the class I would be in and some for other classes taking place that week, I arrived at the intake center, got my room assignment and went to the dining hall for dinner before returning to my room in time for the the Super Bowl.

It was a good week of classes on leadership skills, lessons on emergency management processes, exercises that honed our abilities we have gained over the years, and an enjoyable time of catching up with friends and fellow emergency managers (some whom I hadn’t seen in a few years as we have been spread across the country) and finally meeting others I’ve only known by reputation.

Below is a video I made of a few photos from the campus and several selfies I took on the last day of class with many of my old friends and new ones. Even so, I missed getting pictures with some that I wanted to include. Maybe next time. 🙂

 

You know that thing you say you’ll never do? And then how you feel when you do it? That was me yesterday afternoon.

Don’t be like me; prepare yourself for the inevitable.

Uber LogoWhile I’ve been deployed to Puerto Rico I have been “Ubering” back and forth from the hotel to the office. It’s much more convenient than using a rental car for many reasons. Drivers here in San Juan are, with all due respect, Keerazy! Traffic is, as in most metropolitan areas around the world, jam-packed. And parking is a nightmare, not to mention expensive.

Occasionally I’ve gotten into the back seat of my Uber ride to find something left behind by a previous customer. A book, a wad of dollars bills, and a half sandwich have been among the treasures left behind. But most of the time it’s a used tissue or Kleenex and usually it’s stuffed into the recessed door handle. Because yeah, people want to be dicks.

And, drivers are supposed to look in the back seating area when you get out, but these folks are hustling for the next ride so I get that they don’t always do that.

Anyway, since I usually only have my backpack and my two cell phones (one work, one personal) with me I normally concentrate on being sure the work one is in my pocket or my hand and that the personal one is in my belt holster or my hand when I get out of the car.

Yesterday afternoon I was scrolling though social media on my personal phone when we pulled into the hotel driveway, so I unbuckled my seat belt, slid my phone into the belt holster, picked up my backpack from the seat, told the driver “Thank you”, exited the car, strolled into the lobby, took the elevator up to my room, walked in and placed my backpack on the couch, then emptied my shirt pocket. My shirt pocket is where i keep my Bluetooth earpiece and when I removed it from my pocket I thought, “Well, I’ll just go ahead and put it in my ear and turn it on so I’ll be ready to talk to Cindy when she calls.”

But when I turned it on, instead of hearing the usual words “Phone one connected” I heard “No phone can be located.”

My hand immediately slapped down to my belt holster, which of course was empty. I remembered then that when I was placing my phone in the holster on auto-pilot it sort of felt funny but I just assumed it was because I was moving to get out of the car at the same time. Turns out I had not really put it in the holder.

Cell Phone in seat of car

Panic.

Not the kind of panic I felt a few years ago when I realized I had gone snorkeling for 30 minutes with my phone in my bathing suit pocket, but a high enough level that I know my blood pressure spiked, lol.

So I immediately grabbed my iPad out of the hotel room safe and started to Google “phone left in Uber” and while I was doing that my co-worker from HQ called about something work-related and when I mentioned what I had done and was doing she related that plenty of her friends have done the same thing and it’s easy to just go on the app and report it.

So I start downloading the app to my iPad while we’re talking about the work-related thing and just about the time we finish our conversation the app finishes downloading. The first thing it wants is your mobile number and when I enter that it helpfully says “Please enter the code that was sent to your phone.”

Arghh!

The app does not have any other way to log in (like using your username and password) until you enter that code.

So, back to Google. OK here’s a number you can call, so I call it. It’s a recording that basically says, “You’re SOL if you’re not a member of this high-falutin’ club for special subscribers.”

I’m not, so I am.

Then I go to Twitter, look up Uber and follow and then I get a recommendation to follow another Uber account if I’ve left something in a car. Eureka!

I follow it and DM them and within seconds they DM me a link to a site when I can log in with my username and password. My last ride pops up and I click a button that connect me by phone to my driver!

“Hi Jeff, yes you left your phone in the backseat. I dropped you off at BLANK, correct?”

“Yes, you did.”

“I can be back there in about 40 minutes.”

“Thank you!”

Man on psychiatrist’s couch saying “My smart phone thinks I’m an idiot”Now, when you use this link it says that drivers are busy and it may take a while and, to make up for their lost time in taking you something you stupidly (my word, not theirs) left in their car, an additional $15 will be tacked on to your fare.

Fine with me, ring it up!

I go sit in the lobby by the door and I’m expecting him to drive up and I’ll run outside and get the phone but in about 25 minutes here he comes walking through the door. He had parked to come inside!

I jump up to greet him, seeing he is holding my baby (“I’ll never let you go again, sweetie. And tonight, instead of being on the nightstand next to the bed, you can sleep in the bed with me and we’ll cuddle.”) and I smile my best smile at him while he is extending my phone toward me. I take out my last $20 bill and hand it to him as he hands me the phone, then shake his hand and tell him “Thank you” as he looks at the $20 and says “Thank you” and we both smile and go our separate ways.

My 45 minutes of horror, has ended and all is right with the world.

So, instead of thinking it will never happen to me again, I have now installed the Uber app on my iPad as well so I can access it from a secondary device if I ever need to and be prepared for the inevitable

And, big thanks to the Uber Twitter account folks and to my driver who was kind enough to bring my phone back to me.

By the way, Cindy thought I was just trying to get another phone, but I’m really waiting until the new ones come out later this year so mine will be better than hers, which she got by trying to fall off the jetty in Palm Beach last year!

Gif of cat looking for something n bed sheets

“Old Man Bob’s Young Boy Days” – Book Review

Monday , 13, January 2020 Comments Off on “Old Man Bob’s Young Boy Days” – Book Review

A short, but powerful, book that looks like it is meant to be a children’s book but is in reality a book for all of us “more mature” readers and the child that remains within each of us.

Book Cover of “Old Man Bob’s Young Boy Days”

Bob takes us on a journey to his own childhood, remembering events and occasions from his life as a boy. A time when, as the book’s description states, “We played outside with friends. Life was slower and closer to where we were. No video games or smart phones. No Internet or large flat screen televisions. Computers were as big as a house and telephones had cords.”

These are Bob’s memories, but really they could be anyone’s memories and that, in point of fact, is the purpose of the book. When you get to the end of the book and Bob’s reminisces, he invites you to take the same journey within your own memories.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Rosanna Arias with a whimsical yet realistic style that reinforces the way Bob remembers himself and, likewise, how we remember ourselves.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Bob is a friend and co-worker of mine, but I purchased this book at full price myself and this review is my own.

You can order this delightful book HERE