Life Will Go On!

Papa House Finch, Feeding His Fledglings at Sarobia

Week 10 of self-isolation has begun, although my staying at home all the time is not happening. I would have been taken away in a straight jacket by now, had it not been for outdoor trips to exercise in close proximity of my apartment at least 4 times weekly.

Are you tired of hearing about the pandemic? So am I, but it makes good fodder for another tirade.

Friday, I went to Neshaminy State Park (Sarobia), just a few miles up the road, and attempted to avoid the crowds along the pathways, ending up in the wooded areas mostly off the beaten tracks while bird-watching and photographing what I could.

Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf, also on Friday, had declared another 12 counties to move into the Yellow Phase of his commonwealth-reopening plan, which will take place on May 22nd. At that date, 49 out of the 67 counties in Pa. will have the stay-at-home orders rescinded, converted to “aggressive mitigation” which had been explained in a previous post. We’re not included.

The latest map which will be in effect on May 22nd.
Both graphics above were borrowed from FOX43, Harrisburg, PA.

Last week’s rave spotlighted a conversation I had with a resident of my apartment complex, his asking me if I knew anyone who had been infected with the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately for my circle of friends and acquaintances, none have tested positive to my knowledge. The second map of Pennsylvania above shows the total cases recorded in each county as of May 15th.

Bucks County, where I live, has the 4th largest amount of cases reported in the state with 4,325, so somewhere the potential for the so-called invisible enemy to strike is prevalent in people. Delaware County is ahead of Bucks. Montgomery County comes in 2nd, while Philadelphia County had the greatest total of cases, all of which comprise the Philadelphia region.

Our metro area consists of over 6,000,000 residents, making the total of 31,266 new-coronavirus cases .5% of the population; albeit, over ½ the commonwealth’s number of infected people reside here, creating quite a hot spot. The current tally statewide as of Saturday at 12:06 p.m. is now at 61,611 reported cases since the virus hit, with 4,403 deaths, according to the FOX43 website.

My collection of washable cotton masks has reached 13. Two have fallen apart from the first batch I bought and had to be thrown out. The second set of 5 are better made and should outlast the others. Since we’re going to have to wear masks in public as part of our “New Normal,” I’m going to order another 5 or so in the near future.

It’s no wonder our area is a hot spot. I’d guess that 2 out 20 people I see during my outdoor treks are wearing masks. While at Neshaminy State Park the other day, approximately 5 out of 100 persons wore masks, me being one of them; most of whom were scattered about at Logan’s Point, sunbathing and recreating in chairs on the Delaware Riverbed at low tide. Kids ran around everywhere, playing close by to each other. People weren’t socially distanced very well at all.

What was interesting, in my opinion, was how the unmasked ones appeared to look at me as if I were contagious like a leper would be if found nearby. Leprosy, incidentally, is spread the same way as the coronavirus. The former bunch took great lengths to avoid me, where I in turn made great strides to avoid them. I heard someone refer to me as “Batman,” because of my black mask, presumably.

To make matters worse, it’s now tick season, which has started off with a bang. Due to the unseasonably warm temps this winter, the new batch of nymphs are horrendous, foreshadowing another plague of sorts for this summer. I picked off well over a dozen while hiking around Sarobia’s back 40. I hate to think how mosquitoes will ravage us as well.

Topping things off, we’re also in the Hurricane Season now, with the first tropical depression having formed off the Eastern United States:

However, the season starts officially on June 1st, but it’s no surprise to me it began half a month early. After all, this is 2020, the year that has been kicking our asses since it started. Pardon my vulgarity. Aren’t I like a ray of sunshine?

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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Please Throw This Dog a Bone Occasionally, Will Ya?

Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf extended the commonwealth’s “Stay at Home” orders for the Philadelphia area until June 4th. They were set to expire at midnight on May 8th, but no cigar. That’s not surprising to me.

Philadelphia, Mongomery and Bucks Counties are hot spots with 23,605 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,715 deaths, compared to 51,845 positive cases and 3,106 deaths throughout all of Pennsylvania. However, 24 counties in the north-central and northwestern part of the state have moved into the “Yellow Zone,” which carries less restrictive, preventive measures as outlined in a prior tirade, The remaining 43 counties are still under the red labeling.

Lately on the weekends, I don’t dare move my car from the parking lot. Guaranteed that if I do, no spaces will be left upon my return; and I’ll have to park on the street. If it’s after 4 or 5 p.m., forget about it. None are available there either. One time I had to park at the clubhouse, which is about a half-mile away.

Last Saturday I walked over to Glen Foerd Estate, directly over Poquessing Creek: the border between Northeast Philadelphia and my apartment complex in Andalusia. Staying indoors all the time gets old fast, never mind the lack of exercise which is not healthy.

With my camera equipment in tow, mask readily available to wear when others are nearby, I spent the day basking in the warm sunshine, photographing and smelling the May flowers; got some nice shots of the Andalusian osprey, and the resident black vulture who lives in the old water tower, etc. The following video contains photos of the visit plus footage of the full Flower Supermoon from the 7th, if you care to see it:

On my way back, a man who was exiting one of the apartment buildings commented about how it was a beautiful day to be out and taking pictures, asking me if I had been by the river. After putting on my mask and telling him about my journey to Glen Foerd Estate, I said it was nice to get outside instead of being locked-down in my flat because of the pandemic, and worrying about wearing a mask in public.

That got him started, dissing the health department and government officials, claiming the pandemic is a fake, started by the Illuminati to suppress the masses and control their movement.

“Don’t be fooled by all of this. Do you know anyone infected with the virus?” he said.

“No, and I don’t want to know anyone who has it.”

“See, that’s just my point.” It’s all made up. Nobody is sick. People die yearly from the flu. Hospitals get funding for COVID-19 patients, and they have been reporting their miscellaneous deaths as being attributed to the virus to get the money,” he said. “It’s all bullshit. The confirmed cases and death counts are overinflated.”

That was enough for me to walk away. These pandemic deniers are a threat to the general public’s health. “Got to go” I said. “Have a great day.” Not even looking back, I thought about people who died because of COVID-19. John Prine came to mind, along with Adam Schlesinger: founder of the band, “Fountains of Wayne.” What about the people who reported they tested positive for the virus? Prince Charles, Tom Hanks and his wife, Jackson Browne, Pink, and N.Y. Governor Cuomo’s brother Chris and his wife are just a few.

I’m surprised that guy wasn’t wearing a tinfoil hat. He must be a load of fun at parties, if we’ll ever be able to attend them again during this forthcoming post-pandemic era. I’m so stressed out over this, hoping it will be over soon so I can stop cutting my own hair, looking like the “Wreck of the Hesperus,” and be able to visit a professional barber; although, we probably won’t be safe until a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus vaccine is formulated. Then what happens if the virus mutates, like it’s been doing, and a new plague develops, creating this craziness all over again?

Music takes my mind off of these worries. Rie Waits and I just finished a new duet that I think is pretty cool. No one else seems to agree. All my so-called followers on Twitter, where I posted it, have kept any comments, likes or retweets about the song to themselves, except for a friend who was kind enough to tweet something. The others won’t even throw this dog a bone and offer something nice to say. Why is that? Will it kill them to acknowledge my hard work, even it the song stinks?

I don’t know why I’m posting it here either, but maybe someone will like it. Who knows? Surprise me:

Thanks for your continued, albeit silent, support.

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The New Normal

Scenes from the Delaware River at Lardner’s Point in Philadelphia, Pa.

Got my stimulus check in the mail yesterday. Twelve hundred bucks is a nice chunk of change to use for whatever, but most who received it will be depositing or cashing the subsidy to pay bills, back rent or mortgage payments overdue from their loss of revenue by not working during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The stimulus money is meant to be thrown back into the sagging economy to benefit retail businesses, so I wonder if it will help the cause that much. Unemployment in the U.S. has skyrocketed to 30 million people. According to Bloomberg:

The number of claims, assuming each person is counted as unemployed, could imply a jobless rate of around 22%, which would be the highest since the Great Depression in the 1930s. That’s also far above the peak of 10% reached in 2009 in the wake of the last recession.

Not everyone out of work has received unemployment compensation yet due to a snafu system in many cases, so the stimulus check will be used up before anyone notices it is all gone. Most lockdowns and business closures, like in Pennsylvania, have been in effect for at least a month and a half. The $1,200 paid to Americans will barely cover a family’s housing expenses combined with food.

Forget about entertainment. Besides what’s available on the Internet or TV, taking daily walks around the neighborhood and parks—that’s if the latter remained open during this crisis—and playing bored games (no I didn’t misspell that), is all we’ve got to do. Thank goodness for photography, bird-watching, wildlife, and playing my musical instruments to help prevent me from going stir-crazy and mentally insane.

My self-imposed quarantine is now into week eight, better known as “isolation,” considering I’ve been going outside a lot to exercise alone, buying groceries about every two weeks, and hanging out along the Delaware River and public parks, another blessing for me since they’re all relatively close by.

Authorities have been suggesting that people should keep journals about how they are getting along during the pandemic, for historians in the future. My local newspapers have invited readers to submit portions of their blogs and journals for the former to share in their publications. Hell, I’ve been keeping a weekly journal for years, and even sent info about my diatribes for their use. Think any of it gets much response, or has been published? Don’t think I have to answer that.

Perhaps my perpetual complaining doesn’t fit into their idea of peachy-keen journalism, living always with a positive edge to inspire the masses, like on Social Media with their cats and puppy dogs, uplifting memes and smartphone pictures of clear, blue skies with landscapes reflecting in cool, crisp rivers, lakes and bubbling streams; and sunsets over rolling hills or mountaintops. Everyone nowadays is a photographer.

Much of my work lately portrays what is established as the “New Normal.” Where we once congregated freely with large crowds for music festivals and concerts, sports, theater, worshiping, schooling and public events, the foreseeable future will allow gatherings of only ten people or less, still socially distanced by six feet apart, wearing designer masks and carrying bottles of hand sanitizer. We’ll still be washing our hands multiple times daily, until the skin becomes dried out and raw, prompting us to bring along moisturizing lotion as well.

Pen Ryn Estate in Bensalem, Pa.
Pennypack Park on the Delaware River in Philadelphia
Toilet-tissue aisle at my neighborhood supermarket.
Andalusia, Pa.
Bristol Borough Wharf, Bristol, Pa.

Getting back to the stimulus check, I’ve been daydreaming about how I’m going to do my duty and spend it by throwing the funds back into our contracted economy.

Will it be spent on that 12-string Epiphone guitar and hard-shelled case that I’ve been eyeballing; a new camera lens; putting the money towards a new clutch for the Cooper; a couple of cases of toilet paper (just fooling); giving a large portion of it to my favorite charities—although, that won’t help the economy much; new clothes and sneakers, black engineer boots, a new leather jacket, but that’s when the stores reopen (not dissing the big-box stores, but their clothes are undesirable to me and wear out too quickly, in my own opinion); who knows?

I avoid buying clothing online because the only dressing rooms are virtual, and the garments never fit properly. Otherwise, it’s like Christmas in May, just in time for my upcoming birthday on the 11th.

So much for another tirade. What, it’s not’s as peachy-keen as you would like it to be? Sorry, maybe next week I’ll post some cats with masks on. Thanks for stopping by, and for your continued support.

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Gimme Three Steps

Rushland, PA, Adult Female Bald Eagle

It’s now week seven of this crazy state of isolation and social-distancing, and the bald-eagle population is thriving in my neck of the woods. All the nesting pairs I keep tabs on have spawned young this time around. I plan on making another corny YouTube video soon with their statuses.

Saturday I ventured a little farther away than the 15 minutes of travel that officials have suggested to be one’s boundary during this lockdown in Pa. Incidentally, the “Stay at Home” orders have been extended until May 8th, for which I’m betting they’ll be stretched out even longer. The COVID-19 curve hasn’t flattened completely yet, although its spread appears to have begun slowing down in these parts.

My excuse for traveling up to Langhorne, which is about 1/2-hour away from my home, was to buy some fresh produce at a farm market. Snacks ended up in my grocery basket as well, something that’s really a bad idea considering my weight-loss program is 10 pounds short of the goal. Not being as active lately, due to my staying at home mostly, has made it difficult not to gain any excess poundage, kilograms, or stones, depending on where in the world you may live.

While up in the area, I swung by the Rushland bald eagle’s nest and was pleasantly surprised to find that two eaglets had hatched that I wasn’t aware of. In fact, I thought the bird was mateless, not having seen any young, nesting or mating behavior prior to yesterday’s visit:

One of Two Rushland Eaglets
Both Eaglets

After taking over 250 photos, I headed to Lake Luxembourg for seeing how the nesting pair there were doing. Lucy was perched above the nest upon my arrival, joined by Louie before I left. The following is a family portrait taken from Woodbourne Rd, about a 1/4-mile away. Two eaglets are in the nest:

Lucy on the Left, Louie at top, two eaglets in the nest. Click on the photo for a full-size view.

Cloth masks have become part of my wardrobe, taking one along with me whenever I leave my apartment, like stuffing a handkerchief in a breast pocket. All convenience stores, supermarkets and essential businesses that are open have signs now on the entrances, stating the PA Department of Health requires masks to be worn inside the buildings.

It breaks my heart to see everyone wearing protective covering over their noses and mouths, making me feel like this is the apocalypse while looking before leaving the establishments that zombies aren’t waiting outside to devour me. Can’t even see people smiling anymore; although, there’s not much to smile about nowadays.

Pennsylvania Governor Wolf remains cautious about reopening the state for general commerce and gatherings, but is planning to do so in three steps, starting on May 8th with the northwest and north-central parts of the commonwealth, going from the heavy restrictions presently in place, to a less-restrictive state where stay-at-home orders will be rescinded in favor of aggressive mitigation (sounds wonderful, eh?); in-store retail outlets will reopen. Bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and spas, casinos, etc. will remain closed, except for carryout and deliveries in the case of the first two on the list. Large gatherings of over 25 persons will be prohibited.

The third and last step for reopening the state’s economy will create a so-called “New Normal,” under which all businesses must follow CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines; Aggressive-mitigation orders will be lifted; All individuals will have to follow CDC and PA Dept. of Health guidelines, and public-health indicators will be monitored to adjust orders and restrictions if necessary. Face mask may still be required in public spaces.

The governor didn’t express any specific timetable or dates for all of this, but maintained his plan would start as COVID-19 cases stabilize, and a region or county will need to average fewer than 50 new positive cases of the virus per 100,000 residents for 14 days in order to begin moving out from under his statewide lockdown.

He also mentioned that the southeastern part of the state, where Philadelphia and Bucks County are located, will most likely be the last section to have restrictions eased.

Thanks so much for all the fish. When’s the next spaceship to Mars scheduled to leave? I’d like to buy a ticket.

By the way, I forgot to include Rie Waits’ and my latest duet in last week’s entry, as promised during the preceding week’s tirade. I’m sure you were devastated from not finding it. So, to make amends, please accept my apology for not doing so, and allow me to share it now:

Having mentioned Governor Wolf’s three-step program for reopening Pennsylvania’s economy with the dropping of social-distancing and aggressive mitigation reminded me of the following tune:

Still I wonder why those who upload videos to YouTube always cut off the endings. That annoys me to no end.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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Pandemic Isolation: Week Six

The cloth masks arrived from Amazon last Wednesday. It’s a good thing they did. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, signed an order on that day, requiring all workers and customers at essential businesses that are still operating in the commonwealth, to wear masks while inside the building. Enforcement of the order is to begin at 8 p.m. tonight, Sunday the 19th.

With the new mask mandate, I’d be afraid to walk into a bank like this:

Selfie

At the beginning of all the COVID-19 uncertainty, I opted to do my food-shopping online and get the groceries at the market’s pick-up location, for which a three- or four–day wait to obtain the items was prevalent, saving me from having to mingle with potentially infected people in the store. That wasn’t such a big deal; but now, the waiting period is well over a week, forcing me to go inside last Thursday to buy needed supplies.

People tend to keep their distance from someone who’s wearing a mask, it seems. At least they did with me while I perused the supermarket aisles with mine on. I have to commend the workers there for performing a well-needed service in these dangerous times, and send kudos to the store’s management for keeping their shoppers safe.

By the way, as seen in the following photo, people are still hoarding toilet paper:

Fortunately I still had some left and wasn’t obliged to buy the nine-pack.

Riverton, NJ, Ospreys
Pennypack Park on the Delaware River’s resident nesting pair of bald eagles and eaglet.
Actually there are two youngsters, but the other one’s hidden,

Needing some exercise and fresh air from staying indoors mostly, I went to Pennypack Park at the Delaware River in Philadelphia on Friday, taking pics of the scenery, checking up on the local ospreys and resident bald eagles. As I was photographing the Riverton ospreys, a voice from behind me said, “Hey, where’s your dog?”

“I don’t have a dog.”

“Oh, I thought you were the other guy with a big lens, but he’s a birder.”

“What do I look like?” I felt like saying, considering my passion for taking photos of our fine-feathered friends; but I said instead, “You must mean Frank.”

“Yeah, yeah, Frank,” he said.

“Frank died.”

“Oh yeah? When was that?”

“Last April.”

“Nah, not him then. I mean the bird-watcher with the small, white dog.”

“Oh, you’re talking about Pat. He’s the one who carries his tripod and scope on his shoulder.” Meanwhile, I stepped back to maintain social distancing. He was getting too close.

“Yeah, Pat, but his lens looks different than yours.” The guy began to step closer while eyeballing my camera.

“Stay back, please. Keep your distance.” I had put my mask on during our conversation.

He looked startled for a second and said with a chuckle, “Ah, Corona. That’s what the last guy I was talking to said to me; and I told him, ‘COVID-19, now you’ve got it.'”

What a jerk, I thought and began to walk away. That’s not something to really be joking about. He then said that everyone is panicking for nothing, and that the “so-called pandemic is all hype, made up by the media and liberals.”

That did it. I normally keep my political leanings to myself, but this guy overstepped his boundaries. “You know, I’m sick and tired of hearing that reasoning by right-winged deniers, especially damned Trumpers!” I said to him. “If you want to get sick and die, go ahead; but don’t take everyone with you.”

Surprised the man wasn’t wearing a MAGA hat, I continued on my way, glancing back to make sure he wasn’t coming after me. You never can tell about these crazy people.

My apartment complex’s management sent out a mass e-mail to all the tenants, telling us someone who lives here has tested positive for the COVID-19 disease; but, because of privacy-protection laws, they said don’t bother to ask them where the infirm individual is located. Come on, dagnabbit, give me a hint so I stay away from there. Why tell us about it and promote paranoia? That gives me another reason to wear one of the new masks whenever I go outside of my flat now. Thank goodness the parcel contained 10 of them.

I purchased some mixed nuts and gummy bears at the market. The latter treats all disappeared during my binge throughout the course of yesterday, which brings me to my last question. Since the entire contents of the bag weighed 12 oz, why is it I put on 5 pounds overnight? It doesn’t seem fair; but then again, I was never promised life would be. I better eat the nuts sparingly. That bag weighs a pound.

So much for another tirade. Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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Lent’s Over: It’s OK for Me to Complain Again

Easter Sunday at Rome’s Colosseum (pre-COVID-19)

Into Week Five of socially distanced isolation, my normally easy-going temperament has become a bit edgy, lacking in patience for ordinary idiosyncrasies that otherwise are overlooked or tolerated.

Back in 2000, I had posted about being housebound for a period of a month and a half during to a fictitious snowstorm, which had my emotions boiling over like an overfilled tea kettle. Beware if you click on that link for extremely vulgar language.

Not exactly outrageous as portrayed in the Live Journal entry mentioned above, my everyday complaints have become more noteworthy, perfect as fodder for another weekly tirade. Where shall we begin?

How about this topic? I’ve had a couple of people asking to use my photos recently for various project of theirs, which is quite flattering for me, considering I get very little response about the pictures otherwise when posted on various Social Media platforms.

The following is a thread that dates back to February 2020, listing the correspondences from messages left on Pinterest, where I post all my work:

Hi Mike,

I’m a volunteer on the (ship’s name withheld). We are a non-profit that takes kids out on the Delaware to teach them about the river, ecology, history etc. I’m putting together an ad to go in Camden County Heritage Magazine and would like to get your permission to use one of your pictures in the background.

(My response) Which photo and will you keep my watermark on it?

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/273945589817271234/?lp=true This photo is of the Ben Franklin Bridge. And yes I will keep your watermark on it.

OK, George (not his real name), you can use the photo. Would you let me know when the ad is going to run? I’d like to pick up a copy of the magazine for a keepsake, if at all possible. Thanks and good luck.

Thanks Mike. If I could have your email that might be easier to communicate. Mine is ******@hotmail.com if you want to shoot me a quick email.

I sent him back an e-mail that read:

Hi George,

I hope my photo helps to attract attention to your fine organization. As you can see by my pictures on Pinterest, the Delaware River is just about my favorite spot in the world. Helping kids to get out of the city, into nature and sailing is a wonderful gift to share.

Take care,

Mike

Well that’s the last I heard about it. I just sent him an e-mail with regards to whatever happened to this project. As an afterthought, with the COVID-19 lockdown in New Jersey and Pennsyvania, perhaps his ad was put on the back burner.

Another request for using my work (for free, I might add) came earlier this month. Here are the respective messages:

Hi, Mike!

I’m a local TV meteorologist in Philly. I’m working on a short, fun video for Facebook to keep busy during this crazy bizarre time of working from home. I would love to include a small portion of a video/images you have on YouTube of the Winter Solstice from Camden in 2017. I can certainly credit you any way you like. I Imagine the station would want to upload to our website as well. Hoping for your permission— take care and hope to hear back from you soon!

-Magnolia (not her real name) – Sent on April 3rd

Hi Magnolia,

Sure, take what you want. I’m happy that you like the photos. Please use my real name for crediting: Paul Michael Bergeron – Mike Slickster Productions. I’d love to see your final product. Kindly send me a link as to where I can find it.

Thanks,
Mike – Sent on April 3rd

Great, thank you! Heads up it will likely be in Spanish 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

-M
Sent from my iPhone – Sent April 5th

You’re welcome. Looking forward to your finished clip.

Take care,
Mike – Sent April 6th

Again, that was the last I heard from Magnolia. I did a search on Facebook for her page and found it with the video which included some of my footage from Youtube. It was nice of her to notify and let me have the link of the completed project (not!). I haven’t e-mailed her back to raise Cain about it, however. I’m just going to let it slide like water off a duck’s back.

This is the clip on Youtube to which she was referring:

A couple of years ago I received an e-mail from a woman who asked to use one of my photos on Pinterest, taken of Bristol, PA, to be used (for free) on a website she was putting together for the borough. I thought that would be good exposure for me and said go ahead, as long as my watermark was left on the image, and a link to the site upon completion would be provided.

She agreed, but I never heard back from her again either.

What is it with these people? Why can’t they have the decency to do what they agreed upon? It’s like they get what they want to serve their agenda, and to Hell with me afterward.

I’m becoming so calloused that I may never agree to share my stuff again without asking for monetary compensation before letting whomever use my intellectual property.

Enough of that. I feel better now, getting that off my chest. Happy Easter, by the way. I have other complaints, but they can wait for another diatribe to express my animosity. Thanks for your support and putting up with my whining.

Incidentally, I’ve remixed a cover tune done with the multi-talented Rie Waits, which I’d like to share with you. She is also in COVID-19 lockdown in Japan, and will be working with me to make another duet soon. In the meantime, here’s the old ditty originally recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kay Starr:

Any responses or comments would be greatly appreciated, for which complaints about a lack thereof can fill up a whole other weekly entry.

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Going Stir Crazy

It’s now into week four of isolation. Thank goodness for the Internet’s ability to instantly communicate with others in real time. Present-day life without the Net and our electronic devices would be incredibly debilitating and lonely for those with no live-in companionship during stay-at-home orders issued by the commonwealth or state, county, city, township, and surrounding communities.

Fortunately we’re allowed to go outside for exercise and walking our dogs, going to the market for food and essentials; but the paranoia of catching this dreaded coronavirus lay heavy on one’s mind. At least it does for me. Social distancing is the new norm for the populace, except for those inconsiderate individuals who think they’re infallible of becoming infected with COVID-19.

The other day I was in the post office for mailing in my federal and state tax returns, to make sure the envelops possessed the correct postage. The majority of the people who waited in line maintained the prescribed six-foot distance between each other, but as the line exited the building, people were standing only a few feet apart.

While I walked out after finishing my business, an obnoxious woman was almost stepping on my heels in her haste to leave, like an annoying tailgater on the highway. She probably was in a hurry to go shopping next.

“Would you be considerate enough to observe the social-distancing mandate?” I said, while almost feeling her breath on the back of my neck. In the postal center’s vestibule, people stood barely an arm’s length apart on the entry side, making me hold my breath and exclaiming to them, “That goes for you too.”

The arrogant person behind me shuffled past while mumbling under her breath. I was happy to be rid of her. What is it that people don’t understand about this pandemic’s gravity? Are they so wrapped up within themselves and their own needs, not to think about others?

How horrid the early-20th-century Spanish Flu pandemic must have been, lasting from January 1918 to December of 1920, during which time one-third of the world’s population (500 million people) were infected, resulting in roughly 50 million deaths. Five hundred thousand died in the United States.

U.S. health officials are now predicting between 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities from COVID-19 in this country are possible, provided the social-distancing guidelines and stay-at-home mandates are followed. Hard to image what that total would be otherwise.

At the beginning of this horrific anomaly, the CDC claimed that wearing masks wasn’t necessary for avoiding the virus, if we remained socially distanced. The latest recommendation is for us to wear non-surgical cloth masks while outdoors and in public, especially at the grocery store. I wish they would get their act together.

Trying to find some is a hassle. I placed an order for 10 reusable (washable) cotton masks at Amazon on Friday, after reading about the new, voluntary recommendations for wearing them. The earliest delivery date I could get is for April 19th, which is unusual to wait so long for items purchased from that online retail outlet.

I’ve got a few dust masks leftover from when I was doing some wood sanding that will have to suffice for the time being. Maybe I’ll break down and make a few. Many tutorials are available on the Net for doing so.

During the 1918 pandemic, mask-wearing was mandatory in many areas of the U.S. San Francisco was the first to implement the regulation:

The Red Cross established an awareness campaign whose slogan read, “Wear a Mask and Save Your Life! A Mask is 99% Proof Against Influenza.” Jingles were recorded with lyrics such as, “Obey the laws, and wear the gauze. Protect your jaws from septic paws.”

Other cities in California followed suit with the mandate, including many states throughout the U.S. France and England established mask-wearing policies, as did many countries in Europe. So why did American health officials wait so long to decree the acceptance of masks for impeding the spread of the novel coronavirus this time around? It seems like everyone is trying to wing it.

I’m thankful for the foresight of Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf with following scientific data and establishing policy to “flatten the curve,” one of this pandemic’s catchphrases for harnessing the skyrocketing of newly confirmed cases.

Everything that’s broadcast on the news, printed in newspapers and the Web mostly deals with COVID-19, making me wearier as each day passes. Being in isolation draws me to reading everything written about it, following the progress closely and hoping that soon we’ll be able to resume living life again as we knew it.

With that in mind, please allow me to list some things done impulsively before the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Licking envelops closed
  • Getting a professional haircut instead of butchering it myself.
  • Shaking hands
  • Hugging dear friends
  • Driving my car out of the apartment complex’s parking lot to find a space available upon my return
  • Not having to park the car a block away from my flat
  • Finding toilet paper on the grocery shelves
  • Not singing “Happy Birthday” to myself while washing my hands to make sure 20 seconds has transpired.
  • Sitting at the bar, eating wings & drinking beer
  • Going to a baseball game
  • Watching baseball on the big screen (or watching any sports at all, period)
  • Touching my face to scratch an itch
  • Taking a leisurely walk around the mall
  • Visiting a Bucks County Park (all of which are closed until further notice)
  • Going to a concert
  • Eating a good meal inside a restaurant
  • Etc.

The list could go on and on, but my essay’s self-imposed 500-word quota has been surpassed, and I don’t want to bore you any longer.

By the way, another musical great, Bill Withers, passed away on March 30th, not of COVID-19 complications, but of heart failure. My sincere condolences are sent out to his family, friends and fans. With all the extra time available while staying at home, I decided to record a cover tune in tribute to Bill:

It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, and hope to begin recording some more regularly. The old neighbors from Hell downstairs moved out. A new couple moved in, whom I met and are very nice. Telling them about my occasional drumming and making music, I asked when they would be gone to work so I wouldn’t disturb them, adding if I do bother them to please let me know and I’ll stop. They said not to worry about it and asked the same of me.

I’ll never match the quality and greatness of those being covered, but it’s enjoyable for me to do it. Who knows how long these stay-at-home orders will be in effect? A need to fill the long hours exists, so kindly give them a listen once in a while and make a comment now and then. I’d appreciate it.

Thanks for your continued support.

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