Showing posts from March, 2020

We have finally arrived at the last day of March 2020

I missed posting here yesterday because my goal was to finish the book I was reading and in the evening I decided to just flake out and do nothing of worth. I am proud to announce I was successful in both.

I spent as much time as possible yesterday outside on the deck because I knew that today would be like this:

It's another safe at home day here which means I won't go anywhere at all. In fact, I even have on the sweatpants of isolation, a declaration to the world that I will be staying indoors except to venture down to the mailbox.

It's been four weeks since we were in the disaster area with the tornado and now we once again sit outside of the disaster area looking in while terrible things are happening in other cities. The tornado was a short-lived event compared to the images we see from hospitals on the evening news. There is a feeling of dread caused by not knowing what will happen here. Will it get far worse than it is here or will the worst of it stay on our televisions? Who knows. It's a vicious thing, striking people with swiftness and entering their lives silently in many cases via a family dinner or a choir rehearsal or possibly just passing someone on the street.

All we, the ones hiding out and hoping it doesn't find us, can do is proceed as normally as we can. I will start another book today and add items to the grocery list for tomorrow. I'll complete my tasks at work and make plans on what I need to do in the yard once we dry out. 

Forward we go into the unknown. Maybe April will be better?

Present over past

I was trying to force myself to think about the past a bit earlier this morning and I am happy to say I saw no real reason to. Maybe it's wisdom that comes with age. Maybe it's the happy pills. Maybe it's a little bit of both.

I did this because something from the past popped into my mind suddenly and it felt disrespectful to me to outright dismiss it but I ended up doing that anyway.

This made me think about when it is profitable to think about the past and I came up with only two instances and both have to do with positively benefiting the present.

First, reflecting on good memories when something happens in the present that stirs up that memory. This can involve seeing someone you have not seen for a while or hearing a song that makes you recall that good memory.

Second, considering a decision you made in the past when a decision needs to be made in the present. Use your memory of a bad decision or a good decision from your pay may to help you make a good one now.

Aside from these two instances, I see very little benefit in revisiting the past. Those days are done and the weight of this truth should motivate us to make the best of the now that we can as the now is slowly slipping away from us all and we are reminded of that any time we turn on the news these days.

To the newsletter writers

I still think that newsletters are the new blog and I am reminded of that every Sunday morning (my time) when the brilliant newsletter, Orbital Operations, appears in my inbox.

Reading it makes me enthusiastic for the format. It's like when I am listening to a podcast that suddenly inspires me to record an episode myself. Mine won't be as good but that's not the point!

Newsletters, however, are a lot more daunting. I barely have enough to write about here. There is no way I could fill up a newsletter each week with anything close to being worth reading. To even try would make it necessary to sacrifice other creative outlets. I have only so much creative energy to go around.

So, for now, I will look out from the shore toward those who create newsletters with an awe and respect I believe they deserve.

Adapting to the new routine

I walked into Walmart this morning and found mostly full shelves - more full then they have been in weeks.

I think the reality that this is how life is going to be for a long time is starting to hit people and the instinct to hoard things for a week or two of isolation is turning into the acceptance that we are in this for the long haul and life is not going to be the same as it was before just a few weeks ago for a while.

I have the feeling that life after Coronavirus is going to look a lot like it does now. Many stores and restaurants won't survive. Those that could quickly adapt to this new way we do things, such as restaurants with a system for having orders placed online and then delivered to cars, will.

There will always be a need for community and I am hoping to be back at the high school for football games in the fall but I am not 100% confident that will happen. Who knows. I might be wrong. I hope I am.

One thing I have to do now is shift my focus away from constant Coronavirus updates and back to as much normality as I can. We can't stay on edge for days at a time and we've been on edge here, dealing with the changes, for just over three weeks since the tornado.

I have the Kindle charging so I can get back to reading.

The weather is warming up and that means more deck time.

Yard work needs to be done again.

Time spent scrolling Twitter feeds and watching newscasts has to be minimized. Nothing good can come from being exposed to the panic 24/7.

My only hope at this point is that we don't let down our guard as this thing drags on and on. We need to keep isolating. We need to keep washing hands and using hand sanitizer. We need to be smart and make all of this the routine. We can't afford to get numb to what's going on in the world. But we also can't afford to let it bombard our thoughts and take over our lives. We still have to be who we are, still playing the game but with a new set of rules.

So, I will be disconnecting a bit more over the next few days in order to adapt and still grow in this new, strange world we find ourselves in.

Safe at home lockdown hidin' out from the virus check-in

Checking in today. Yes, we are still here. No, none of us have symptoms. Yes, we still have toilet paper. No, I'm not getting out at all today. Yes, all of us here that have jobs (my youngest does not) are still working because we all have jobs classified as essential.

I think the fear of getting this is quite real though. You can only wash your hands so much. People in our area are testing positive. There was a "scare" at my wife's work over the weekend and the whole place was professionally cleaned and luckily, that person was negative. There is a positive case at my oldest daughter's work.

Who knows who I have passed at the Walmart that has it. I work at home but I also am the designated shopper and shopping involves strategy now and I keep a running list of things we will need over the next two or three weeks and I get what I can when I see things in stock. So far, this is working. I find the things we need eventually.

This is turning into quite the mess. Political chaos in Washington has prevented anyone from getting financial help. Pressure from Wall Street and the idiotic politicians who react to that pressure are wanting to end the lockdown and just accept the fact that would allow the virus to run rampant and kill most of the elderly. This virus has certainly shown us what a mess our society is and how far our priorities are out of whack.

The one good thing to me, maybe not to you, about the lockdown is being able to spend more time putting together podcasts and I have a real fun(?) one coming up on In Your Earholes in the next week or so. It is my second Coronapalooza entry and it is a doozie. I spent way too long putting it together so I am quite proud of the finished product, of course.

It's what did ya do Saturday!

What do ya do when you're social distancing and self-isolating on a chilly March Saturday in order to try to take your mind off of the chaos the world is descending into?


That's what I did. I moved around some furniture and cleaned up a lot of corgi hair that gets all over the place and I filled a bag of trash and I put aside stuff to donate to the help center when they reopen in April.


I updated this laptop, my trusty Asus Transformer.

I watched NC State win the 1983 Championship again thanks to CBS showing classic basketball all day.

I looked around the house and made a grocery list of all of the things we would like to get but probably won't be able to.

I tried not to think of the impending doom predicted by tweets so I did my best to stay away from the onlines as much as possible.

I played Dave Brubeck's Take Five album on the stereo in its entirety.

I took care of some work stuff that could have waited to Monday but why not. I'm here now. I'll be here Monday. Nothing else to do.

I decided to update this blog because I am stubborn although I know barely 10 people will even glance at what I wrote.

The dryer just stopped and now I have clothes to fold.

The original wireless

With all of the people working at home and the strain on the internet that has been apparent here at the home office at times, I have been relying more on the original wireless - radio and television!

I put my trusty old Radio Shack radio on my desk and have been listening to some NPR in between podcasts instead of streaming audio which I had been doing for hours daily.

I also have my latest shortwave acquisition, the Tecsun PL-310ET, sitting on the kitchen table for lunch and other times I am doing stuff in the kitchen. What a great radio. I saw it pop up last week on Amazon as an Amazon Warehouse Acceptable listing for $20 off and I took my chances and got what looks like a brand new radio! Winner winner, chicken dinner! Sometimes it just works out. Maybe the Chinese characters on the radio freaked them out. Not me! This radio is fantastic.

And, I have antennas on the televisions in the bedroom and in the living room so I can watch local television if needed without firing up the YouTube TV as much.

I don't know if any of this helps the bandwidth in the neighborhood as I am the only one doing it, I bet. But I feel better and that's what it's all about, right?

Week Three

It's been two weeks since the tornado hit so we are entering week three of no school and rebuilding and also the accelerated spread of the coronavirus and the fallout of the necessary reactions to it.

These are tough, crazy days. I haven't felt like reading much in the last couple of weeks which is a shame because I was on quite the roll. Maybe it will come back.

I like being at home and I already work at home so the shift to isolation is not that tough on me but I see the impact on those around me who had plans for so many things and all of those things are on hold or even cancelled now and there is not much that can be said. I've never seen anything like this in my lifetime and not much happens to me at this point in life for the first time.

You can't really compare this to anything else. 9/11 comes up in regards to the airline industry and the feeling of not knowing what will happen next is similar but in a much more contained way.

We live in a time of mystery now with a disease many of us could be living with while experiencing no symptoms and our interactions could be a death sentence for someone else without us even knowing it. That's a scary and very real thought.

We could be tempted to proceed as normal. Don't panic. Don't buy all the things. I agree with the second and third thought but completely disagree with the first. We can't proceed as normal but we can put a few rules in place and still live positives lives in this new scenario such as washing our hands as much as possible and staying away from gatherings of more than 10 people.

Some people seem to think these and other rules are about restricting their personal freedom or that they violate some sort of religious responsibility to gather in worship. I disagree. We do what we have to do now so we can resume our normal lives sooner but more importantly so additional people do not have to die from this terrible virus.

Finally, I don't like the phrase "the new normal" because there is no real normal. We live in a constantly changing world and this is just one more change we have to adapt to and we will adapt to it and we will be better for it.

Coronavirus Thursday

Another exciting day here in Armpit. I started the early morning off with some shopping and I discovered that the toilet paper aisle at our still under repair Walmart was stocked up but I saw just a bit ago that it's empty now. I got everything I needed food-wise so it's all good at least for now. 

As long as McDonald's stays open, I'm all set.

Seriously, I am trying to cook more, at least breakfast and supper for now so we can minimize being out and about and not just because of the coronavirus but also since clean up and even some rebuilding from the tornado is still ongoing and we don't need to be in the way of that.

School is out again next week for week 3 out - 4 days for the tornado, a full week for spring break and now a week for the coronavirus. Who knows when they will actually get back to the classroom. I can't remember an illness pandemic closing schools in my lifetime so this is all new territory.

Wall Street is still in chaos and I've been leaving CNBC on all day even though I've never been particularly interested in the stock market aside from how my 401K is doing. It's quite fascinating and I am trying not to think about my 401K. I am sure it will bounce back in a few weeks once this thing peaks and then starts to subside.

So, another day with life semi-normal. I work at home and don't mind being at home so it's not much of an adjustment for me, so far.

Eight people read my last post

That's quite the improvement.

It's going to take a lot more readers and me turning on ads to offset the disaster that is my 401K after the last week or so.

Don't worry. Neither of these things is going to happen.

Events are being cancelled left and right here and all over. Restaurants are empty. Streets are oddly fairly empty also. It's weird.

I have a couple of books to self-isolate with so I am looking forward to the weekend once we get through tomorrow night's tornado threat. Oh, joy.

Six people read my last post

That's right, six people read my last post (on the tornado), a post that took me about five minutes per reader to put together. Bang for my buck I am not getting.

This is a problem with Blogger. If you go to the page to click on New Post, you see the readership numbers and mine are dismal, pointless, so sad.

In other news, we are one week out from the tornado and things around here would be getting back to normal if it wasn't for our little friend, COVID-19.

Say hello to my little friend!

It's like double chaos here now with businesses still closed and the possibility of power outages at any moment since work is still being done to fix the power grid. Now we also have to contend with even more grocery shortages because people are freaking out over coronavirus and yes, some of that freaking out is in order because this can actually kill people so we do need to take this seriously. I just wonder if we can take it seriously without freaking completely out.

Will school go back next week? Who knows?

Will roadblocks be set up around town to form a containment zone? Possibly!

Can we maintain some level of common sense or do we have so many reactive people enabled by and possibly created by the bombardment of data (posts, messages, etc) via the internet that common sense is dwindling in supply almost as fast as toilet paper?

And, how about that stock market? And Joe Biden cussing people out on the campaign trail?

2020 is nuts.

Tornado recap

I have been wanting to share a bit of detail about what happened here early Tuesday morning when a tornado passed pretty close to our house and caused terrible damage along a path to the west and east of us that covers 50 straight miles with a bit of a break before another touchdown caused even more damage to our east. Before I go into all that, I wanted to quickly sum up how we fared.
  • We are good
  • No damage to our house or where my wife works
  • Minor damage to where my daughter works but they are back open
  • No damage to our high school but school is closed until March 16th
  • No family members impacted aside from by power outages and all of those are now resolved
We were very lucky. A lot of our neighbors just a mile down the road were not as fortunate. Also, many businesses here will be closed for quite a while. The recovery process will take some time.

Image one – This is the weather radio that gave us about 20 minutes notice. It went off around 12:35AM, maybe a little earlier than that. The details are a little foggy now! It woke me up and I went to the TV and pulled up our local CBS station, WTVF Channel 5. This radio is a Midland 74-200. I have had it for many years. The modern and easier to program equivalent that is sold in many stores is the Midland WR-120, sometimes called the WR-120B.

Image two –  These radar images were all pulled off of Twitter and this is the storm cell as it approaches Nashville. On Channel 5, I watch as the storm was coming into Nashville live and with the SkyCams you can see a clearly defined large tornado on the ground. This is when I decide to call my father since he lives northeast of Nashville and I am thinking that this could possibly move toward his house. 

Image three – I think this way because many tornadoes move with at least some southwest to northeast motion. For example, these are the Moore and El Reno tornadoes near Oklahoma City.

Image four – As I am on the phone with my father and continue to see the radar and the reporting, two things become apparent. First, the storm is tracking nearly due east so my father is going to only get the rain and not the circulation. Second, we have a huge debris ball visible on radar. This tells me that this is going to be really bad for whoever it goes over.

Image five – Channel 5 has different radar views and this is like one of them and it clearly shows the debris ball and wrapped up circulation. This storm is gaining energy and forward motion and will obviously hit the town to my west (Mt. Juliet) and I am thinking possibly go on the north side of where I live (Lebanon) because I am still thinking we will see more northeast motion and I am wrong about that.

Image six – The advance notice of the weather radio gives me time to share the warnings on our Band Facebook and Instagram just in case anyone is up or has notifications on. The phone emergency alert has still not been activated or at least it has not come to my phone. I had checked my phone right before I went to sleep to make sure notifications for emergency alerts were on. I’ve been up 15 to 20 minutes so far while many people are still asleep.

Image seven – As the tornado comes from our west out of Mt. Juliet toward State Highway 109, the circulation seems to be riding I-40 and the debris ball is over I-40. I wake everyone in my house up and get them to the hallway and I call my wife's parents, who live a bit to our north and west, because I realize it will probably hit them if it jogs more to the northeast as it comes into town or us if it stays on the path it is on. And, it’s coming fast at 55 miles per hour. The arrow points into the inflow where the air is being pulled into the circulation so the tornado is in that area.

Image eightI open the back door and the screen so I can listen for it and so I can watch the sky as it is illuminated by lightning and it is not long before I can hear it coming. It sounds far off but it sounds like a leaf blower or even a vacuum on high getting closer and closer and closer.

As it gets closer, I see something very close to this image. This was taken to our west by someone who posted it on Facebook as the storm went through their location. I was not taking pictures. But this is close to what I saw. I can also clearly hear the sound of things being chewed up by the tornado. 

Seeing the size of the tornado in the flashes of lightning, I immediately get my family and dogs out of the hallway and into the smaller, more enclosed bathroom because I know, based on the size of this storm, that the house will be destroyed or at the very least seriously damaged if this is a direct hit.

Why is it important to get to the most interior room of the house? Think of your house as an apple and how we remove the peel and eat toward the core. You take cover in the core because the winds of a tornado and the debris spinning in the circulation will basically peel the structure away from outside to inside and you are hoping that the tornado will move quickly enough that all of the layers of your home won’t be peeled away before it moves away.

Image nine –  How close did we come to a direct hit? Here is the radar as the storm passed our house with an arrow pointing to about where we live. Note that the inflow, which is the air being pulled into the tornado, passed right over our house which matches what I saw from the back door as the trees were pulled by the wind toward the tornado as it passed west to east. The main damage path starts about one mile to the north of our house. It seemed to take about one minute for it to pass our home and then winds died down considerably.

I share all of this just in case someone out there might learn something from what happened to us. The entire event was around 20 minutes start to finish. The storm itself passed in my visible view in probably about 60 seconds. That tells you how fast it was travelling. The more time you have to prepare, the better. That is why I highly recommend a weather radio over just relying on a cell phone.

My February 2020 in books and movies

Books I read in February 2020 as logged on Goodreads

Movies I watched in February 2020 starting on 2/18/2020 as logged on Letterboxd