Diagnosis: Insanity

There is being cautious in the time of danger, and there is complete overreaction. This is the latter. We have lost our collective minds.

We have had Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu, the regular flu, and Lord knows what else in my lifetime. There is a new, unknown threat every two years (conveniently consistent with election years.) This is the first one that has canceled events, shuttered businesses and locked everyone in their houses, wearing masks and hoarding toilet paper.

What has changed? A number of critical issues, which I believe over time have weakened society.

Overprotection is Bad

We’ve had a full generation that grew up over-protected, and now they’re freaking out.

Think back to when you grew up. Were you driven to a school that was three blocks from your house? I rode my bike or walked the mile to school until I switched to a school fifteen miles from my house and rode the school bus. Did you have to wear a helmet to ride a bike? I didn’t. Did you need knee pads to wear skates? Could you go beyond the end of the block without your parents reporting you missing or calling you on a walkie-talkie? Did you get told to “walk it off” at least once? Did you lose games?

If not, you were probably raised overprotected. We have an entire generation or more who never experienced the basic pains of childhood – which is not really that bad. It’s a learning experience. Fall down the spillway, you learn not to walk there. (I didn’t, I fell down twice – the second time, showing where I fell the first time.) Fall off a bike, you learn to pay better attention. Walk to school, you learn independence. Blow out a knee in soccer, you learn to play better. Get some stitches, have a cool scar to build a better story around in old age.

Common Sense is Missing

How have we gotten to the point where we have to tell people, “If you’re sick, stay home?” and “Wash your hands”? Really? Really? Didn’t your parents teach you that?

As an aside, I am basically an hourly worker at this point, even if I’m called an “employee”, so going to all the doctors appointments for my broken ankle and foot recovery, the two days in the hospital recovering from the failed nerve blocker after the surgery, and anything else I do during the day that is not in front of my computer costs me money. I’m pretty sure I’ve used up most of my earned vacation at this point, because I really don’t have sick time. So, I get it. Being sick costs money.

That said, if you’re sick, stay home is not about you. Its for the protection of others. That’s where we have completely failed as a society. We are more concerned about ourselves and our needs than the community at large. This is a major issue.

The other example of the “Me” society is hoarding … anything. You don’t need sixty rolls of toilet paper. You don’t need dozens of masks. You don’t. This is why ERs will be overrun with people who are not sick. Me. Me. Me.

Think It Through

All schools are closed. Except for meals.” DISD has decided to continue providing food to students in need. There will be more than 500 students in the school, but served in the classrooms so they are smaller groups. Uh, if they’re in the classrooms, why not teach them? If these children are from homes that can’t afford food, how are they affording high-speed WiFi to do homeschooling for the rest of the year?

I’m going into isolation. I will just call for food delivery.” Who delivers your food? Oh, yes, drivers on minimum wage and tips. Remember, “if you’re sick, stay home?” That would be the target group for that message.

I’ll wear a mask 24×7 to protect me.” A face mask is for people who are ill, not for people who are well. This is according to the CDC and WHO. Don’t wear a mask if you are well. You look like a putz and you’re keeping a mask from someone who needs it.

I need six hundred rolls of toilet paper.” Review the CDC’s advice on caring for a COVID-19 patient at home. Amazingly, it doesn’t ever say, “Wipe their ass every sixteen seconds.”

My kids are home from school. Guess we’ll go to the mall.” Do you understand what self-isolation means?

I heard garlic can prevent coronavirus.” Uh, Italy?

Keep It In Perspective

I am not saying the spread of COVID-19 is not bad. I’m just saying, there is worse. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm and you will see there is an estimate of 22,000 to 55,000 deaths from seasonal flu in the US. This happens every year. Every fucking year. Just in the US. This is even with everyone able to get a flu shot at pretty much any corner drug store. COVID-19 has 4,613 deaths worldwide, per the WHO.

Why does the US not shut down for six months every year during seasonal flu season? We could save thousands of lives.

I have seen estimates that COVD-19 has about 80% mild cases. So, yes, if everyone in the US was infected, we would potentially lose 20% of our population. What are the chances of that actually happening?

If you are not in the high risk groups, much of the time, COVID-19 will be like a mild flu – stay at home and self-treat. The press never seems to mention most cases are “stay at home, self-treat.” You don’t need ICU time. You don’t need to be on a respirator. You need rest and chicken soup.

Information, Not Hysteria

Ever since CNN went on the air in 1980, there has been a need for constant news. When I was growing up, TV stations went off the air at night, and there was peace and quiet for a few hours. With CNN, there is no escape. Then, they got competition. Now, we have wall-to-wall coverage of crap we never would have known about years ago, as long as it fits their model and the biases of their owners and staff. It is relentless.

So, COVID-19, a disease with a very high survivability rate outside a few high-risk groups (which are generally high-risk for any respiratory disease), is suddenly a “deadly pandemic scourge which cannot be stopped.”

The annual flu is deadly. Car wrecks are deadly. Smoking is deadly. Chicago shootings are deadly. Most probably cause more deaths than COVID-19 has. Not a lot of coverage.

The World Health Organization has information. The CDC has information. Everything else is noise, and most of it is designed for ratings and not to actually help anyone. The more you panic, the higher the ratings. Just turn it off.

Proportionate Response

It’s a pandemic!” Once an epidemic (a rapid spread of a disease within a given population) occurs in multiple countries, it’s a pandemic. That’s the definition. It is a loaded word now, but it quite literally means as soon as there were cases in China, Italy and anywhere else, it was a pandemic. Don’t let a medical term panic you. AIDS is still a pandemic and you don’t hear a lot about it anymore, because it’s mainstream.

Our emergency rooms can’t handle everyone being sick!” This is probably true if everyone goes to the ER at the same time and needs constant care. Also, does everyone with seasonal flu go to the ER? There seems to be more of them.

People will be treated in the hallways!” Here’s a fun fact – that happened before COVID-19 ever erupted. My wife went to the ER in Pennsylvania with chest pains in 2018 and they had marked spaces in the hall for beds. They would bring a curtain when she changed or was examined. This was on a Monday. So, some ERs are already overrun on a regular basis. It’s not news. So, here’s a thought – if you have a cough or a runny nose, go to urgent care or better yet, your doctor. If you have a gunshot wound or a bone sticking out, go to the ER. If you don’t have symptoms, you might not really need a test on day one. Stay home and enjoy your mounds of toilet tissue.

One of the reasons The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was popular was because on the cover, it said “Don’t Panic.” Wise words.

Smokey and the Bandit IV

Every once in a while, you realize how entertainment sometime actually reflects real life. This time last year, I was thinking about Survivor and why I find it difficult to watch. (The same thing happened last night.)

I was thinking about Smokey and the Bandit the other day, a fun movie – not a lot of deep messages, really, but a fun way to kill part of an afternoon. Bandit is challenged to drive to Texarkana and back to Atlanta in 28 hours with some bootleg Coors. (Since some of my fraternity brothers later borrowed my pick-up to drive from San Antonio to Texarkana to get bootleg Busch kegs for a party, I can say the story makes sense. Somewhat.)

Of course, Bandit was not the truck driver, Cledus (the Snowman) was. Bandit was the blocker – a distraction to make sure the truck made it through (and a good excuse to have a Trans Am in a movie).

The corporate world doesn’t really have many blockers, which is unfortunate, since a shield is a good thing every once in a while. Here’s how Cledus would fare in the corporate world today:

Cledus arrived at work one day and was told, “Congratulations! You are our new truck driver!” He was a bit surprised, since he was in charge of the entire factory floor, but management knows best, so he became a truck driver. He anxiously waited for his first assignment. And he waited. Then, he noticed there weren’t any trucks anywhere around the factory. There was just an old beat-up van, parked in the corner. It was either parked almost on top of some tomato crates, or it was up on blocks. It was hard to tell.

One day, about three weeks later, his boss asked why the tomatoes were all rotting in the warehouse. “Why didn’t you drive the tomatoes to Chicago last week? The van is in the back of the warehouse.” Now, that explained the van. It didn’t explain why a van driver was called a truck driver, or how Cledus was supposed to have divined that tomatoes went in the van to Chicago, but at least he had his first assignment.

He apologized profusely, ordered some new tomatoes after going through sixteen levels of management approvals, and drove them to Chicago in the van. He had to do the speed limit, since there were no blockers, and the van couldn’t go that fast, since it was overloaded with tomatoes. Also, one of the tires had a slow leak, so he had to stop and fill it every few hundred miles. Corporate had said they don’t reimburse for tire repairs.

When he got back from Chicago, Cledus went to tell his boss he was back, and the tomatoes had been safely delivered. His boss said, “Where are the sausages?” “What sausages?” “The ones you were supposed to pick up in Milwaukee, on your way back from Chicago.” “Why did nobody mention the sausages to me?” “What do you mean? Joe knew about the sausages. It was discussed in three meetings while you were away. Everyone in marketing knew about the sausages. The web team is waiting to photograph them for the web site. Are you not a team player?”

So, Cledus got ready to go get the sausages. First, he looked around to see if there was any rotting fruit in the warehouse, in case something else he didn’t know about was supposed to go Northbound. Before he left, his boss said, “There are too many sausages for you to carry in the van. You need a truck. You will need at least six people. Take Bob and Phil with you.”

Cledus wasn’t sure how to tell his boss that adding two people to himself was three, not six, and Phil was in a wheelchair, but he set out for Milwaukee. He took the van, since there still wasn’t any truck in sight, and corporate directives specifically forbid renting trucks. He wondered if they would ever get a truck. He wondered when he would have his title changed to “van driver” which would be correct. He knew an actual van driver in another department, but he drove a forklift.

Halfway there, his cell phone rang. “Hey, I need Bob on a different truck in Memphis, tomorrow. You’ve trained him to load potatoes, haven’t you? It came up in our staff meeting this morning.” Now, Cledus wasn’t sure how to answer, since he hadn’t even taught Bob to load sausages yet. Oops.

So, he dropped Bob off at the next town so he could catch a bus to the warehouse where he would load potatoes. First, he stopped by the store so Bob could at least see a sack of potatoes before he left. That way, he could say he trained him. (Cledus asked Bob to call him and tell him if they were loading a van or a truck. Bob called the next day, and said it was a station wagon.) He thought about asking Phil to drive, but the van wasn’t a handicapped-accessible van, and Phil had forgotten his distance glasses, anyway.

After loading sausages for two days, he and Phil headed south. Phil still couldn’t drive the van. It was really smelly in the van.

He got home with the sausages in spite of the challenges, and was pretty happy with the results. He boss said, “There are only twelve dozen sausages here. I called the manufacturer in Phoenix while you were on the way and told them I wanted sixteen dozen. Where are the rest?”

Cledus wasn’t sure where to start. The manufacturer didn’t have any control over the independent warehouse in Milwaukee or his ordering system. Nobody told the warehouse or him. The manufacturer simply was the wrong person to call. Maybe this wasn’t his fault.

No, it was. His boss said so.

So, he was given one last assignment, to prove he was worthy of being a truck driver that didn’t have a truck.

Late that evening, Cledus texted the Bandit, who was working for a different company. The text said “Do you know if there is still a land bridge?” Cledus is a truck driver. He has to deliver a van full of pickles. To London. From Cleveland.

I miss Cledus. You can go really fast in a van, but it’s a long way to jump from the US to the UK. If you don’t make it all the way on the first jump, there’s only so long you can hold your breath, and it’s hard to swim and pull a van at the same time.

Some of his co-workers wanted to name the warehouse in his memory, but he got a really bad final review for drowning a load of pickles and losing a van.

Eastbound and Down has a whole new meaning in the corporate world.

Funding Experiments

I’m the President of the Board of Directors of Agape Broadcasting Foundation, Inc – which most people around here would know as KNON 89.3 FM – the Voice of the People. You can listen online at http://www.knon.org if you’re not in the DFW area. (You can also pledge online, and we’re in the middle of pledge drive. Yes, again.)

However, we’ve pretty much tapped out our core listener base, and we love them, and they are quite generous, but we need new pledgers. This is very difficult to accomplish – especially when there are two PBS stations down the dial with a lot more money to chase money.

It pains me that we have to have a budget to raise money. In the perfect world, people would simply fund us because they believe in the mission of the station (The mission of KNON is to be the Voice of The People in the Dallas area. We provide unique programming to reflect the diversity of the entire Metroplex community.), or they like one of our formats or DJs, or they’re just good people.

This is not a perfect world. 

So, this pledge drive, we’re trying two new ideas.


First, we need the de-icers on our tower replaced – when the tower froze last winter (yes, it gets cold in Dallas), we were off the air – our power was so limited, our transmission area was severely compromised. So, I’m running a campaign outside pledge drive to raise money for that specific project – http://www.gofundme.com/warm-tower – and we’re trying to see if people will actually donate just because it sounds like a good cause.

So far, almost all the donations have been from our volunteers. So, the concept of raising hundreds or thousands of dollars instantly may be overblown, or it may be people care about strangers who need a new kidney or a special night out but they don’t really care about a community radio station.

The irony of that campaign – which hit me after I created it – is that people outside Dallas who contribute could listen over the Internet and so they wouldn’t be impacted if the tower froze over. So it goes. Still, we’re a small operation, we’ll take anyone’s money.

The other new technology is Pledge By Text – since everyone has a cell phone these days (it seems), let them pledge with it.

Text “KNON” to 56512 from your mobile phone, and you’ll get a link back to let you pledge. Choose your favorite show, your favorite DJ or just send it to the general fund. 

We appreciate your support!

Fall Break, 2000

Hmm. I had forgotten I ever wrote these reports. If I keep recycling, it looks like I’m creating. (You know this is really old since it says “both pets”.) Also, it’s been long enough ago that it’s funny. Now. 

Fall Break 2000 highlights: Dad, son, step-mom. Two nights train, three nights hotel, two nights in-laws, no injuries, no arrests, both pets survived bunking at the vet’s. Who could as for more?

Fall Break was a calculated risk – in retrospect, with so much to go wrong, it’s a wonder we’re all still speaking to each other. J. R, Virginia and I decided to try to do something that would make each of us happy in the same week, so we took the train (me) to New York City (J. R.), and then drove out to the New Jersey countryside to visit my in-laws (Virginia).

The train ride was fun – we had the family car from here to Chicago and two rooms from Chicago to New York. It was the full Amtrak experience – we were almost eight hours late out of Chicago since there was a power failure a few hours before we arrived, and the train yard where they assemble the trains was in the powerless zone. Since we were that far behind, we went down the Hudson riverbank (the one portion of the trip I had been selling since early March) in the dark. Sigh. Still, the food was good, the crew pulled an extra shift and served an extra meal without complaining (the staff was pretty impressive, given the stress of the extra time worked), so it worked out well. I thought a power failure in the city was a novel excuse for being late, as well.

New York is still New York – like London, there just isn’t enough time to do it justice, so you will always leave feeling you missed something important (and you have.) We spent most of one day at the Museum of Natural History, and probably could have spent the week there. The Museum of Radio and Television has gotten tired of people requesting the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and just shows it on the big screen regularly.

Here’s an exercise the next time you’re in NYC – go to the Museum of Radio and TV, and check out your favorite TV show from childhood. They have thousands of shows online – you pick four you want to see on a Mac on one floor (they have a room full of Macs!), and then you go downstairs to the viewing room to watch your selections in a “private viewing booth.” (Having spent some time in my misspent youth on 42nd street, I think they may want to rethink that particular term.) The cool part for me was that the shows are intact – when you see the Beatles on Sullivan, you see Sullivan, commercials, other acts and all. It really gives you a sense of the era. (It also gives you a sense of priority – the Beatles finish their last number, take their patented bow, and Sullivan brings out the juggling act to close the show.) J. R. thinks we must all have been dweebs if the commercials had any effect on us, at all. Some of them were pretty cheesy, come to think of it.

We also saw “Stomp” which was a very, very good show, after getting tickets from TKTS about two hours before curtain. I really didn’t expect to get any tickets, but I thought we should go through the motions, since I really wanted to see a show while we were in town. Then, they had them at 25% off. This means the little fart has now seen off-Broadway theatre, so that’s one more thing crossed off his list.

Time spent with the in-laws was a lot of fun. We’re slowly adapting to each other, since I was on less good behavior than last trip, and may actually be myself soon 🙂 Besides, J. R. was the center of attention this trip, so I just hid in the background.

Here’s why I like my in-laws: Her sister decided it would be really funny to take a photo of Virginia with one of her chickens, so Basil the budgie would think Virginia was cheating on him. First of all, what sort of twisted mind would think to blackmail a person with a bird? Secondly, who else could make Virginia (“AAIIGH! Get that thing away from me!!”) pose with a chicken?

Here’s why J. R. likes Virginia’s family: her sister gave him an 8×10 copy of Virginia’s chicken photo.

We flew home into the Sunday thunderstorm in Dallas, circled forever, ran low on fuel, got diverted to Austin in time for its thunderstorm, and got home only six hours late. Let’s see, six hours late on a four-hour plane flight, with one extra bag of snack mix, versus eight hours late on a thirty-hour train trip, with an extra steak dinner. Hmm… Why do I fly?


Apple products are famous for their ease of use and greatness of cost. The cost is actually offset by many by the ease of use (and the “coolness” factor if you’re a dork.) 

Most of the time, Apple products just work. They’re intuitive, they do what you want (mostly) and if you’re not a true geek, you don’t need to ever look at internals or manuals. 

However, this means when they fail, they fail in a spectacular fashion. This is what happened to me. 

Actually, it’s still happening. 

My iPad is apparently full. Usually, I get a warning that I’m almost out of space, and I delete some stuff – the problem goes away. This being an Apple product, you can’t just easily expand the space, which would also solve the problem. You can, however, buy a larger model iPad. 

So, last night, my iPad crashed. Hard. In fact, it wouldn’t turn back on. So, I called it a night. 

This morning, it wouldn’t start. So, I Googled for help, and the Apple site said to reset your iPad, press the Home key and the Start key. I was a bit concerned that “reset” meant “wipe out”, like it does in the rest of the computer world, but this is Apple. It just started up and I was ready to go. 

So, I went to the configuration panel to delete some stuff. As soon as I pressed Usage, the iPad went back to the Home page. Then, it rebooted. 


So, I thought – how do I make this into a hard drive, and I’ll just move some of the files off? 

I attached it to my PC and nothing happened. It mounted as a camera, but there wasn’t anything built-in to download photos. So, my Spousal Unit took over. 

At this point, the universe almost turned inside-out. She is not supposed to be IT support for me. 

She plugged it into her Macbook and Photoshop tried to start downloading files. Then, it crashed. 

I updated iTunes on my backup PC and connected it. It started thinking about syncing, then it crashed. 

Finally, Photoshop started on my PC and began downloading photos. I managed to get about forty at a time (out of over three hundred) before it would reboot. So, progress, I suppose. 

At this point, it looks like I’m going to the Apple Store. Their tech support people are called “geniuses.” I always thought this was a bit over the top. However, sometimes, you do need to be a genius to work around a system that is designed to not let people work around it. 

What is annoying to me is that I AM A COMPUTER PERSON. This should not be difficult. I’ve dealt with out of disk space errors on everything from mainframes to smartphones. Why is this so hard to fix? 

The Spousal Unit said she will take it to the Apple Store, but I really want to go along. I want to learn that if you hold the power button with your left finger while facing Cupertino, pressing the Volume button up and chanting Steve Jobs’ name backwards (“Gates.. Gates…”), the damn thing will just mount as a drive. I would really like to know that. 

I suppose I could also just buy a new iPad, which I think is the actual plan for making you go to the Apple Store to see a genius. 

In the meantime, I have most of my photos off the iPad. So, that’s a start. I guess. 


Saw a photo of the ballpark underwater this morning – well, the dugout, anyway. Had a flashback to earlier storms during games, watching players head for higher ground. If the bench is under water, it may be a wee bit wet on the field.

Rain delays were always a good time to meet the players – the only dry areas are usually where the crowd would be.

I miss baseball. It’s almost time to start the final countdown to the home opener, May 21st.