A penny for your thoughts.

The Mask

I picked up a discarded mask laying on the parking lot’s asphalt top. It had been there overnight and I saw it on the same spot today. After going to the loft for proper protection, rubber gloves, something I rarely use, relying now mostly on washing hands instead, or viricide if soap and water is unavailable. But the necessity of gloves was necessary for the task, I use a mask stepping out of the front door of the loft religiously and without thinking, it has become a part of my wardrobe. So equipped, I grabbed a plastic container from our recycle bin and went on my way to carefully collect the offending mask. After placing it in the container, I disposed of it, together with the gloves, it the appropriate trash bin. It’s my good deed of the day, a small gesture without little consequence, and I felt good vibes from it. Carolle is online trying to buy coffee filters. Apparently, there is a shortage of coffee filters, and if I had to bet, masks have a play in it. I doubt folks are drinking more coffee, specially when they are told to stay confined. Not that coffee consumption has declined, as I’m sipping a cup now, one of our daily diet, but some folks may not want to be energized when there is little to do. Unless the recent uprising is comprised of people so pumped up on caffeine that their energy is turning them into violent thugs, from all the coffee they drink. Doubtful, they are only a minority. The good thing now, something those thugs have miscalculated, is that there is so many clear images of all of them, that, for sure, they are catalogued in a government database. It’s inevitable with the face recognition system the world has adopted and it’s ironical that a group of folks intent on breaking the government to ‘regain their freedom’, and breaking the law all the while, would assemble like pins in bowling alleys, to be identified and prosecuted, worse, to be declared a home terrorist group, and loose all liberties. Perhaps that’s what the president has in plan. In any case, I’m pretty sure the protesters will be watched closely. They should all have worn  masks, one of the mandate some were protesting against. Mark Twain would have made some humorous remark on the protesters and their mottos and banners, and the nonsensical messages they convey.  He would have found the whole affair ridiculous and fertile with anecdotes, albeit the seriousness of covid, to spin yarn onstage in his one man shows around the world. He would have been very distraught as well, furthering his dim view of humanity in general.
The Opera today is another Richard Strauss work, Elektra adapted from Sophocles, a Greek tragedy involving untimely death and despair. Compared to that, our lives are pretty rosy, or it was before covid descended on us. Our stimulus check from the government has not arrived. Carolle says she will start a GoFundMe for our local food bank and use the money as a seed. I’m not sure that I can give the whole amount, but I can make a contribution. That’s if we get any money, we should as we are below the limit, but who knows. I only believe I ’have’ money when it’s in the bank, learning from the experiences of having made or sold stuff and never been paid, that promises are cheap, specially when they are never kept. We will see if the promises of adequate testing for covid are kept, but so far, what we see from our confinement, is utter confusion, litanies of statements often refuted by health experts, while governors are scrambling to keep their citizens safe and try to restart business. I suspect that we will see a second wave of infections in the coming weeks. I want very much to be wrong about that, it would make me extremely happy to have erred on that assumption, my humble ego would not be chattered. But I would be surprised, specially if travel resumes and folks think they can move freely. Would New York want visitors from states that still have a covid problem, without properly testing the visitors? Should only people who have been tested negative be allowed on planes or other means of transportation?

Unfortunately we don’t hear much about details and although some states are syndicating, there is no coordinated central effort, and while those states have taken measures to combat covid, others are anxious to reopen the economy, tossing aside the health risk and hoping for the best. The gamble could undermine the work done in the lockdown states if covid is allowed to travel. Imagine the Apprentice on a grand scale, the United States Of America is the stage, the States are the players and we are collateral. And the show host is passing the blame.

Thirty five people died in one nursing home in our state, twenty six in only one week. The facility was vigilant, checking workers for signs of contamination and careful about cleaning, but perhaps too late to stop covid from spreading. At least four news reporters have gotten sick with covid, First responders, some complaining lack of protection at work, are also catching the virus. The death toll in Connecticut is approaching 1500 and there are 20,000 confirmed infected folks. Country wide, the number of death is over 45,000, with 824,00 covid patients. There is no good news on the spread of the virus, for now, it’s part of our lives.

The economy’s near future is in serious jeopardy, a problem made worse by the flagrant greed exposed during the distribution of the PPP money. The details are in the news and have been checked, trickery was used for the large corporations to syphon a big part of the money to their coffers. And people wonder how we have gotten ourselves into that quick sand, when the answer is right in front of everyone’s eyes, today, as covid flushes out the generosity and the greed, it’s evident generosity did not place us in the situation we are facing today. Greed takes the blame, sometimes masked as benevolence by the propaganda machines, but greed is the culprit.
We see it now with the PPP program when corporations worth billions of dollars are using loopholes to grab as much wealth as they can while the small businesses, the heart of or economy, are left with an empty purse. There lays the source of our problems, the road of this brand of capitalism is plagued with potholes and has led us dangerously close to the cliff. We don’t need socialism, in fact it’s already here in one form or another, we need a better capitalism with a better distribution of money.
First pay folks living wages and provide universal healthcare, notice that there is no reported food lines in Europe like there are here. It goes hand in hand with the lack or underfunded social services in the USA. Adding insult to injury, the money is sucked by the runaway capitalists, aided by the government in generous tax breaks gifts. The solution is simple, scrap this capitalist system working for the few privileged and replace it with a capitalism that benefits all. Greed is not in our country’s interest, it undermines our social fabric.
Twenty years into our millennium and our system of capitalism is still anchored in the twentieth century. Hopefully, our kids will boot it out soon when they see the poisoned fruit their elders left them with. It’s in their interest, for their society’s future, and for their own well been.
I am afraid the calls to reopen the country is more linked to greed than to necessity, the irony is that it probably will not work. Covid is now scaring people, I may be overly cautious but I don’t see myself out of lockdown for at least another month. My trips to restaurants will only be memories until an efficient medication or a vaccine is developed.

Today is Earth Day. Carolle marched at the first one, in New York City, fifty years ago in 1970. I remember a customer coming to the store we had downtown, her and her late husband had a shoe store in Greenwich Village, during the march, and she told us about selling a lot of ‘earth shoes’ at that same time. It had been three decades but the two of them remembered the large crowds and the significance of the event. Fifty years later, our president is doing his best to walk back on conservation and preservation efforts erasing safeguards to protect nature and people, all in the name of greed. One step forward, two steps backwards, Sisyphus is dangerously close to ground level.

The sun has come back this morning and the tree outside our widow is showing more bloom, not peeking yet but putting on a better show. April can bring strange weather patterns, today, Mother Nature sent us flurries together with rays of sunshine. It lasted only a few minute but the white blossoms of our tree and the white flakes seemed to work in unison to add to the confusion, making the scene an optical illusion of blossoms floating towards the blue sky. Mother Nature is playful on this Earth Day and the spectacle lifted my spirit.
After watching La Tosca, another Puccini Opera where the main characters die in surprisingly quick deaths, we took a walk that was shorten by the cool air pushed sporadically by the breeze. The sun on our shoulders was not enough to keep us comfortably warm,  had we not been walking, the shadowed part of the sidewalk with a noticeable drop in temperature would have felt like winter was still with us, that’s the weather in New England. We both wore masks and it helped keep our faces warm, a small perk for a rather annoying obligation in the days of covid.
The weather kept us inside for a couple of days and I have not gone grocery shopping in a week. I suspect we will be fine for a few more days. Carolle has bouts of cabin fever, and our walks are an important routine to attenuate the feelings of imprisonment we all experience. To keep an illusion of normality, we dress everyday, make the bed everyday and have kept our meal schedule unchanged from the time before covid. The discipline seems to work and the days past without too much changes from our ordinary life. The thought is a bit unsettling, probably placing us squarely in the boring folks section of the population spectrum. The motto “better bored than dead” fits perfectly for curing cabin fever, and we are intent to stay alive and working hard at it.
As the day fades, new figures from the covid Pandemic in the USA are posted online,
covid-19 cases total: 802,583,

covid-19 deaths total: 44,575

There is no way to mask the tragedy.