Moving Into My Second Year Of Pandemic Times

It is hard to believe such significant events keep rolling in. Not just the overwhelming COVID News but escalating, prominent social woes and political occurrences across the US and world.

Again, the following chronicle (Blog) only addresses issues occurring during the recent five weeks. Alarmingly, it by no means covers everything seen; not all major items make it to this posting which within itself is troubling.

The chaos of the Pandemic has fed Social Issues in a cyclic, chicken-and-egg fashion. Today we do not simply collectively seek to flatten COVID the curve, but rather are forced to witness the fanning of flames. Times are truly turbulent.

In my last Blog I opined that at least we had not started another war, yet developments across the world suggest we may be on such a path with beginnings of military ramp-ups and the rapidly increasing warning signs mentioned below.

So, let me again first begin with a few positives to lighten the load as we launch a review of and path into, 2QCY21…

I managed a few fly-fishing drift trips down the Lower Sacramento River before these higher reaches North of Redding (CA) were closed for larger rainbow trout to begin their spawning. The fish were big, strong and plentiful with spectacular bright reddish lateral stipes, dark backs and all caught on light (5wt.) tackle.  Catches typically required 5-20minute battles to get the fish to the boat, grab occasional photographs and release them back.

Over a dozen fish in a day leaves the forearm strained, bulging from the fight with facial muscles and cheeks tired from smiles and laughter.

Stops on the riverbank for rests from rowing and lunch led us to some river island shores strangely infested with new hatches of Brown Recluse Spiders, an unusual, dangerous and unexpected find.

Other banks took us to loosely guarded Canada Goose nests and their egg clutches. Upon our arrival the nesters waddled away, honking to mates, returning shortly when believing we would not intrude closely. One even moved ever closer, following crumbs I set down and eventually fed from my hand. They must have experienced few threats or encounters with other humans.

I also enjoyed a few days up in the mountains of Shasta County fly-fishing the lower McCloud, immediately below the dam outlet. The waters looked some 15’ low up in the reservoir, but the frigid water released at regulated levels below sustains the fishing. Fish were fewer than previous years but much larger. Perhaps this was in some way a function of the lack of fishing that occurred in 2020 because of Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions?

It seemed there were many physical barriers on trails, newly in place or enhanced that impeded or deliberately obscured access. Fishing is legal but the litany of changes implied it was unwanted. Times change, simple freedoms always grow fewer.

This particular trip featured more scrambling down banks and crossing of towering (+30-40’) shear rock faces than previously. The usual hot spots were less fishy, flows seemed to have changed enough to necessitate deeper canyon exploration and riskier clambering into deserted areas visited by very few.

It was fortunately all worthwhile. Enough Rainbows cooperated. I was once visited for ½ hour by an inquisitive river otter that entered my fishing spot, raised up in turbulent water for a full minute and stared at me from under what oddly seemed like large, furrowed eyebrows, wondering who I was and what I was doing in his private world. He slipped away into the deep pool and never reappeared.

Most weekends have been spent sailing on the San Francisco Bay with and without guests. Some trips are blessed with warm early Spring sunshine, but most these days are teased with low, chilled mists driving through the Golden Gate entry and flooding the broad (so-called) slot that runs East over Alcatraz Island. That cold air forces warm to rise, bringing bigger winds; then we see 20-25Knot (~23-28mph) blows causing the few Covid-era sailing vessels to reef sail, or heel >30 deg and sometimes much more.

These runs provide good outings; chilly, bracing and eventful until we return below the Bay Bridge into mostly lighter winds.  Sparse clouds and warming sunshine usually accompany us on the return as we drop sails moving through the shipping channel, leave Jack London Square to port on the Oakland side, then glide to our Alameda dock and home slip.

Other than daily bike rides in improving and mild Santa Cruz weather there are few more pleasantries of substance for me to report. And so, let us dive into many of the notable events strewn across the last 5 weeks…

To begin, a review of World Media outlets finds that most countries promote mixes of good and bad news reports in their output but uniquely the US MSM (Mainstream Media) promotes almost 90% Bad News. Ouch. I believe there IS good News, so why do I see so little, even when I go hunting?

I think I know why. Most folks who watch other than just CNN know that outlet is often prone to Fake News. They have been proven time and again to play with the truth and known facts.

Just recently yet another undercover sting by Project Veritas (PV, founded by James O’Keefe) caught CNN’s Director Charlie Chester on video in a recording bragging about the Company’s accomplishments in this area. You should Google and get your own report on what follows if you find this incredible. It is alarming stuff and yet in the irrefutable words of the CNN protagonist himself.

This sting laid bare that Chester went to CNN “to get Trump out… and we did that … I am 100% believe that would not have happened without CNN.” He spoke further of creating propaganda such as whipping up the narrative that Trump had neurological damage and was losing it, even bringing in dissociated experts to insert an element of reality. They also ran with the known bogus story as fact about Russia paying bounties for American military dead in Afghanistan.

Chester claimed that they wanted to push the story about attacks on Asians but complained that incidents were being inconveniently committed by black perpetrators, so they had to be ignored and overlooked. Similarly, they were able to and do push COVID Death Counts “as that really alarms people.” Correspondingly they actively suppress all negative news damaging to BLM.

Charlie also explained that when the work of driving the COVID Fears Opportunity wanes, they will next ramp up the Climate Change dialog.

Further, Chester bagged of manipulating information to get the desired result. He obviously sees this like Plato’s Noble Lie; anything goes to get the desired result. Apparently using Insinuation, Implication and Innuendo is fair game. The sting video (Chester in his own words) goes on and on. Check it out for yourself. And Charlie is supposedly a NEWSman?

More troublingly, PV Founder O’Keefe has been banned (with suspicious and dubious) claims from using Twitter to promote the sting video. It does appear that Twitter and CNN have colluded to get this avenue of exposure about the latter’s dubious practices shut off. Mr. O’Keefe has a large lawsuit underway in response to Twitter’s action.

It is hard not to believe in Fake News and difficult to deny a common agenda within major MSM outlets.

Next of course in the Southern Border Crisis. Even Biden has finally referred to it as such. The number of illegals CAUGHT totaled 171,000 in March alone and there are 19,000 unaccompanied children with COVID infection rates running over 10%. The Day1 Executive Order (EO) issued by Biden had an immediate and devastating impact.

Normally such devastation is visited by the President and senior leaders out of concern and respect. Nobody in this Administration wants to be caught in a picture anywhere near the scenes that have been photographed in the overextended border facilities… bad optics, don’t you know? It would be image and career suicide.

Biden appointed VP Harris weeks ago to manage the border crisis and she immediately went missing, even getting her picture as MIA on Milk Cartons. She has repeatedly and subsequently been positioning herself as the person who will work the big picture politics with Central American leaders, thus avoiding other than possible visits to border facilities. It appears from her single recent open video conference with NGO’s and Think Tanks she is due to visit Mexico, then Guatemala in coming week(s), COVID restrictions permitting.

Per WH sources there are NO political agreements or plans underway or under consideration (with Central American Countries), as I write. Such actions and agreements can often take years to bear fruit.

The President of Guatemala recently joined the President of Mexico on an MSNBC interview in blaming President Biden’s Day1 immigration acts for the Border crisis. The President of El Salvador (Mr. Nyib Bukele) is refusing to meet with Biden, Harris or their representatives. He says the Open Border Policy is disastrous for his people, with the best educated trying to leave for the US to send money home, while causing drug Cartels to expand into the void. He does not want to be an exporter of people and feels deliberate importation of people is bad for the US, too. Bukele is well-liked and respected for his efforts and results in his homeland.

Texas Governor Abbott is demanding action and review of rampant Sexual Assault allegations in overrun Biden immigration facilities following his (Abbotts) extensive previous deployment of resources to fight on-going immigration, human trafficking, crime and cartel expansion in the region because of this crisis. There are reports of girls as young as 11years arriving pregnant at the border and almost commonplace stories of rape involving unaccompanied females from all age groups.

Within the Administration itself there are reports of infighting to speed Housing to be made available for this completely unstemmed flow of people.

Sources claim that operating personnel at Border Facilities spend up to 40% of their time simply caring for families and minors.

DHS, NASA and other Federal Agency email Inboxes are reportedly flooded with Administration requests for volunteers to take 4 months paid leave absences to work at overrun Government Southern Border Facilities and care for Migrant children.

What can one say? Per the Obama Administration mantra, it was said never let a good crisis go to waste. Unfortunately, this one is self-inflicted and recent polling has this emergency disfavoring the Administration’s role, response and it is quickly becoming the Nation’s number one concern.

Now back to the more mundane, yet of greater direct impact on most citizens. The Day1 actions by EO that lost >10,000 pipeline jobs immediately in the US, and >>1M more for Americans in infrastructure by 2022 has quickly arrived at the gas pump. Oil is still being produced in the same quantities around the world but on the West Coast the price has spiraled so that $4.20/ US Gallon can routinely be found in Gas Stations. Ouch. Voters do not like these prices and self-inflicted wounds are usually unwise.

Do you know what Quantitative Easing (QE) means? Probably not, certainly you should. It is generally referred to in somewhat abstract terms and that is not helpful. So let us peel this onion…

QE (or, Easing) affects your Standard of Living, Prices you see in the stores, your Savings and Investments. Most simply it is a mechanism used by governments to buoy up struggling economies. Its is in-play NOW in the US. It matters. It matters a LOT.

QE is when a Central Bank (Like the Feds) buys financial instruments from Commercial Banks and Financial Institutions. They invest in these companies and bring them financial relief by buying their goods. Simple enough, this brings them monetary relief but causes their yields to be lowered even while injecting money into the financial chain.

Generally, this enables Stocks, Bonds, Funds etc. to flourish. The Markets looks great; this seems awfully familiar. If you have Investments and Retirement Funds things can look surprisingly good. The more you hold, the better things appear.

But under Easing, Staples (Corn, Wheat, Eggs etc.) are OFTEN seen to rise in price, often >10% in WEEKS, not Months or years. There are frequently rapid and significant price increases experienced on staples and consumer goods even when the QE is limited in magnitude.

Easing was originally seen as a Third World Financial Instrument until it was finally used to salvage the Japanese financial crisis in 2001. It was then employed in very carefully capped amounts in 2008 and again in 2010 in the US while Obama was President. LIMITS on the practice have now been scrapped and QE can proceed “as needed.”

Here is the problem. If you have noticed there seem to be price increases going on, you are probably not mistaken. Economists do NOT know, nor can they reliably predict the repercussions of Quantitative Easing.

Problems start when prices keep rising and people find essentials less and less affordable. The Government reports of Inflation (faked a la UK practices with a basket of chosen and changing grocery items) are not representative of what you buy. If you HAVE investments, you notice these increases less, perhaps hardly at all. If you have no such investments, you are at increasing risk.

Easing has the effect of widening the gap between HAVES and HAVE NOTS. Price increases drive away the Middle Class. The swelling of the Lower Income bracket fuels social unrest and conflict. Folks just cannot afford what they once could; expectations and opportunity are crushed. Here lies the liability of collapse.

If this mechanism has such an effect, it drives those most harmed towards Government dependency. They become vassals of Government. Hopefully, obedient wards or things can go seriously awry.

Keeping track of the affordability of your lifestyle is important. When you hear the term QE, it is worth listening to what is going on. It will affect you to a much greater or hopefully lesser extent.

And next comes the DOUGHT. Western States are preparing for historic lows in man-made capture and are already predicting water shortages. The reservoir water-levels I have seen recently in Shasta, near McCloud and more locally at Lexington (all in CA) are universally extremely low. There is reportedly just not enough snow falling in the West and so now here comes the drought with probable rationing rules, to boot… sigh.

MLB decided to move their All-Star Game and Draft activities out of Georgia to appease the Woke Squad objecting to newly enacted local voting Laws. MSM and several major politicians (including the President) falsely and aggressively misrepresented the new laws (particularly Voter ID and Voting Hours) to punish the State and demotivate others to follow their lead. The untruths were blatant and ultimately acknowledged as such by many in the media.

But there were consequences to the move. Georgia lost about $100Million from the pull-out in revenues for predominantly small, black-owned businesses. The MLB Favorability Ratings with (Republican) fans have immediately cratered from a 47 to 12 over a couple of weeks; this is much the experience of the highly politicized NBA which collapsed in its’ turn mirroring the fall of NFL viewership.

In reaction, half-a-dozen Senators (R) are now moving to strip the MLB of their anti-trust exclusion as a monopoly, which has buoyed them up in tough times and allowed stadiums to be built with tax exemption monies. In the past even Bernie Sanders supported this move, let us see what he does this time around.  😊

The penalty for supporting the Woke Mob can be high. MLB is now sitting in Colorado for their All-Star Game; ironically, also a place where voter ID is required. Comically, MLB themselves already requires photo ID to pick up tickets at their Will Call offices.

In a related situation an early April Poll among Black voters shows that 73% believe Voter ID is required to have fair elections. Makes it tough to keep selling Voter ID as a racist symbol from the Jim Crow era.

The latest new Infrastructure bill has been variously described as costing >$2Trillion to as much as $2.7Trillion, by some expert economists. A variation of just $0.5 Trillion has a cost difference of over $3,500 to the typical taxpayer. Ouch.

A new Harvard-Harris Poll shows 80% of Americans are concerned about wasteful spending in this Bill. Folks do not like that only ~5% of the “Infrastructure” Bill is targeted at traditional (roads and bridges) issues and they do not want to be paying increased prices because of the Bill.

Further, some 98% of CEO respondents to their own Poll say that the proposed Corporate Tax increases (to 28%, the largest in the World) needed to support the Bill “would have serious adverse effects on businesses.” No kidding. This cause-and-effect relationship has been well known for 50+ years, Globally. Why would anyone even propose such a plan?

After the first 87 days of the new Presidency a new Gallup Poll shows partisan division has reached an all-time high despite a declared desire and promise to UNIFY the Country. While 96% of Democrats see Biden as a good leader only 10% of Republicans agree. This 86% gap is the largest seen for all Presidents going back to Bush, over 20 years ago. The gaps are at historic highs for respondents by all categories of Education, Sex and Age.

Division rules the day in these times. I suspect this is often both intended and desired.

As I write there has been a halt put on the availability of the single-shot J&J (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines by the CDC and FDA and it will be into May before there can be enough data to proceed. This was caused by findings of rare and serious blood-clotting cases in six women.

The practical set-back is more serious than might be guessed (given broad availability of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) as the single-shot solution speeds the process and was already scheduled for roll-out in many regions where temporary and pop-up locations are planned. The loss of planned capacity puts a crimp in plans, though general vaccination availability for those over sixteen years of age has still since been announced.

Following the Invasion of the Capitol building on January 6th several troubling issues have come to light. Firstly, ample warnings of upcoming the events were actively ignored. I doubt there will be accountability on this front.

Next is the issue of those held as a consequence of their actions. The appointed prosecutor is aggressively trying to wrap maximum sentences and charges (such as Sedition) around all those who entered the Capitol uninvited. It is evident from videos that some invaded with malice aforethought, but many more were likely naive intruders. As I write some 420 persons have been arrested so far.

Troublingly many stories are circulating about the treatment of some internees. Rumors of solitary confinements are reported where individuals are isolated 23 hrs. per day. This is an accepted and established human rights violation. And similarly, if the reported beatings are being administered to those confined, we have indeed crossed into very dark territory.

I have no fondness for those who have transgressed, but if any such frequently repeated stories are true, we are witnessing serious, Government-permitted rights violations. No wonder the recent Trade talks with China resulted in US negotiators being mocked for their own glass houses.

Finally, the autopsy of the Capitol Police Officer has been released and shows that he died of natural causes from multiple strokes many hours after the Capitol events. There were NO SIGNS of bodily trauma so prosecuting anyone for his killing will be difficult to impossible. All this is not what was aggressively promoted in the media.

The death of Mr. Sicknick is no less tragic and painful to his surviving family but apparently the only people who died and were killed at the ill-advised event were Trump supporters, many of whom remain imprisoned.

Turbulent times and events such as these remind me when Ronald Reagan warned, “freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.”

Reflecting towards the Pandemic… the CDC has announced that wiping down surfaces removes less than a 1-in-10,000 chance of Covid infection. Boy, has that science changed its tune.

And the latest report published in the US informs that the COVID mutation discovered in the UK is NOT more deadly (initially believed to be 30% more so) and sufferers have no worse symptoms than those experienced with the original viral form. It is, however, more contagious as reported.

Recent Polling found that fully one third of Republicans Polled believe that people with COVID, but NOT exhibiting symptoms, could not transmit the disease. Unbelievable.

Correspondingly, a recent Gallup Poll of Democrats asked what are the chances that someone with COVID will require hospitalization? The ACTUAL number runs 1-5%. But it seems 41% thought that likelihood would be over 50% and another 28% believed the risk to be 20-49%. So ~70% of these Democrats are wildly off in their understanding and they similarly also greatly exaggerated the COVID Mortality Rate among children. No wonder BLUE States and Cities are in Lockdown, often with Schools partly or fully closed.

It is said, “We are what we read.” But what are people reading, seeing and hearing that has them so out of whack with reality? Similarly, what swill are they being fed?

The latest Gun Control and Second Amendment attack is underway. Realistically it will be almost impossible to enforce. People hold dearly their right to defend themselves against oppressive Government.

Totalitarian regimes like to disarm those they intend, need and want to destroy. The Nazis did not disarm all Germans, mostly the Jews. Similarly, they leaned hard into the Austrians during their early takeover and annexation.

Laws tend to be enforced against those we need to dominate or harm and NOT enforced upon those we consider friendly to our cause. Hence the US has selective enforcement of many kinds laws that are officially on the books; most Nations are the same in this regard.

On the World sports front THE major move in Soccer (and the Global Sports Market) to form a European Super League was thwarted. FIFA threats to outlaw players from International Teams, Premiership and Champions Leagues’ interests, on-going viability of individual European Domestic leagues and oh yes, fan blow-back really left this as a non-starter.

Looks like the half dozen (Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham) tentative and failed Premiership defections are being placated with a tweak to the English Premiership configuration. Its all about money, control, leverage and fear of exclusion. Sorry, the fans are really NOT the issue, folks.

The results came in on the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd. Guilty on all (3) counts as expected after the year-long pressures and political influence (inc. a $27 Million settlement by the City with the family ahead of the trial). I did not follow events in detail, but the outcome seemed inevitable and appears appropriate.

Now what remains is sentencing (concurrent or consecutive jail time?) and the inevitable appeals that can leverage all implied and actual threats made to participants and those many ill-advised, prejudicial actions and foolish public statements made before a verdict was reached.

The immediate rioting and protests planned to follow an unfavorable (“innocent,” in this case) verdict was somewhat abated and sporting event cancellations (i.e., NBA games) did not happen.

FBI Director Christopher Wray recently declined to provide information to the House Intelligence Committee on how Antifa receives its funding. He confirmed Antifa is real, organized, has nodes across the US, trains in different ways but has no overarching structure. The FBI is still following how money moves from where and he declined to comment on it at this point.

This much breaks the idea that Antifa is a “Myth” and an “Idea” as promoted by himself (Wray) and Biden in 2020 during his Presidential campaign.

A YouGov Survey reported by Breibart News has Washington DC rated the worst place to live in the US. When you consider the Southern Border Human Trafficking, Drug Cartel activity and illegal immigration explosion, major rioting in many cities (like Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle) and explosion of crime in numerous other Cities (like Chicago, LA and many more), this is a truly serious damnation of DC.

And ironically, for purely political long-term voting advantage we want to make this same Washington DC a State? Congress is already drafting the paperwork. Let me count my tears.  ☹

Florida Gov. DeSantis will sign into Law H.B.1. which is an anti-rioter Bill that enhances sentences for criminals attacking Law Enforcement, Laying Siege to Public Property or Damaging Monuments. After a year of rioting and looting across the Nation the first States are only now beginning to fight back and protect Citizens and Property.

Further to this action, DeSantis is suing the CDC and Feds over the continuing cruise ship industry lockdown. With the industry closed and idle for a year, vaccines widely available and Florida itself OPEN and fairing the Pandemic especially well, he is suing with the claim that Florida’s rights are being trampled. Closure denies the State access to $Billions in business when there is no longer reason to do so.

It will be interesting to see how Florida’s case fares.

In France, the notable, top Economist Jacques Shapir has announced that Third World Immigration to the Country (and Europe in general) is NOT driving growth in Western Economies as promised. In fact, Chain Migration (one immigrant brings in more family members) is driving the French Economy more negative and further into the red… accurately accounted, costing on the order of 0.8% /year of the GDP.

This is a lesson to Western Europe and all those flooding their Countries with Third World Immigrants.

It seems the US has more money to spend than you might think. Monies are already being set aside by several (NY, CA etc.) States to pay illegal immigrants residing in the US during the COVID impact and now plans are evolving to pay people in Central American Countries to NOT come to the US.

Only in America… money for everyone is available? Really?

Plans have been announced to pay monthly stipends to poorer families in Marin (CA) and Oakland (CA) has similar funds available (a la Universal Basic Income). Sounds useful for those in need but there are stipulations… you must be minority, female and NOT white to apply.

Looks like anyone can get cancelled. Chicago is renaming Thomas Jefferson and Daniel Webster Middle Schools to help purge these slave-owners from local visibility. Moves were made to rename these after hometown Barack and wife Michelle, but this was voted down by the Latino community who will not allow the “Deporter In Chief” this honor.

Obama strangely deported more people than any president in history and those were predominantly Latino removals. This seems incongruous with his Globalist, Open Borders policies. Would anyone care to guess why he did this? There seem to be few logical explanations that are not very unflattering to him; I would be glad to hear the opinions of others on this subject.

Some 2020 election results are still receiving scrutiny in their own districts and States. The seemingly cowardly US Supreme Court will not hear any appeals and claims on this subject, but in Wisconsin half-a-dozen types of fraud are already identified… one County even having more people voting than eligible voters.

Green Bay residents are suing the State for allowing Dem operatives illegal internet access to the election counting process to purportedly commit massive Voter Fraud and an army of Hillary’s Lawyers (led by her lead fixer) headed to AZ to shut down the planned extensive detailed review of Maricopa County voting that is going ahead.

I wonder if results from any of these enquiries and actions (there are many more) will ever see the light of day? Little has so far, even though the election is long-passed and >1,000 affidavits registering Voter Fraud were filed at 2020 election time.

A recent Poll found that >70% of US Voters no longer trust voting integrity. Surprise!   😉

Womens sports have taken a major hit. The NCAA has doubled down on its insistence that biological males MUST be allowed to compete in Womens events. Already about 28 States have or will soon come out in favor of NOT allowing this competition.

However, the Olympic Committee has previously taken a stand (effective Rio, 2016) and insisted Transgenders can compete in Women’s Sports in their events, though no openly (transgender) individuals have yet done so.

Major records have and will continue to fall to biological males, much to the detriment of female participants. Similarly, Scholarships, Funding and Participation will continue to be affected.

In a related theme PC verbiage is moving on…

The term Sex Change eventually became Hate Speech, then Gender Reassignment went the same way. So now it is Gender Confirmation Surgery. Stay tuned.

Continuing along: The UK Government is instituting a hold on Gender Confirmation Surgery for individuals under the age of 19 years. It seems that earlier surgeries for those not feeling they belong in their biological bodies are often finding the SAME feelings persist with their post-surgery bodies and consequently too many are then requesting reversals.

What looked like an approximately 12’ high rainbow-colored reclining version of the US’ Liberty Statue found disfavor in Budapest, Hungary. It only lasted 24hrs before being pulled down. It was apparently not wanted, locally.

After Joe Biden publicly called Putin a killer the Russians immediately moved a further 28,000 soldiers to the Ukrainian border. This act smacks of Khrushchev decades ago pounding his shoe on the podium at the UN and shouting we will crush you.

The Administration tossed ten Russian diplomats, imposed sanctions, complained of the SolarWinds hack involvement in the US, 2020 election meddling and railed about protecting the health of Putin’s poisoned political rival now jailed in Russia. Biden added to this with an unusual EO declaring a National Emergency relative to Russian actions.

A pair of US long-range missile launchers were then run up near the Baltic Sea, launched a couple of trial rockets and shot back overnight to their base in Germany.

Russia responded in kind with similar (diplomatic) actions. Life moves on and hopefully nothing has been done which will cause the previous Russian take-back of the willing Crimea from the Ukraine to spiral further into additional confrontation. Sigh.

I now have this image in my mind of two feeble old men waving sticks and shouting at each other over a shared backyard fence in the hope of impressing, someone (?). This is just sad.

But, if you are compromised as The Big Guy in your dealings with China, you need to deflect elsewhere.

And further East, China has been routinely buzzing and harrying Taiwan. Little comment so far in defense of this US ally. This is scary stuff, especially following on the heels of the emphatic Chinese clampdowns in Hong Kong and the ongoing (CCP) expansion and intimidation across the South Seas.

Biden has committed a few more troops into Germany (500 so far) to placate the local politicians, imply on-going European support and provide revenues from stationed forces to local communities.

After pushing back the Afghanistan withdrawal to 9/11 (a troubling choice of date) it looks like the Administration might be having second thoughts about getting out. The current Afghani President is weak and his coalition seems unsustainable. So, what to do?

It appears as if Afghanistan has the potential to be SYRIA II with Russia, China, Iran and new terrorism organizations likely to jump into the void. After 20 years of US involvement, I am NOT optimistic about how this will play out, regardless of what comes next.

And then there is Iran.

Well, Obama’s plan did not work and Trumps sanctions, existing deal walkout and tightening of relations with the Saudis and Israel never got to play out; most of these elements were reversed almost on DAY1 on the new Administration.

The goal for any approach is that Iran tires of debilitating financial burdens and comes less aggressively to the table, relinquishing weapons class uranium enrichment and seeking to rejoin the WW price-surge in shipping oil. Initial US approaches have stimulated the exact opposite response, which is unlikely to become more pliant with the internal Iranian election approaching in 2022.

The most likely outcome… the US does new a deal that inevitably fuels wealth for Iran (and their funding of Global Terrorism) and works in the shadows to keep sabotaging the secretive Iranian enrichment efforts that will undoubtedly continue. Israel calls this mowing the lawn. Hopefully, this Administration’s fallouts with Israel will not prevent a quiet collaboration.

We are experiencing problems getting everyone signed up for vaccinations. Some folks just do not want them and they have numerous reasons. There will be more about this in coming weeks and months as the Government seeks to influence, coerce and even twist arms.

Somewhat comically MSNBC has its own take on this problem. When Blacks say NO to vaccination it is because science is rooted in white supremacy, but if Whites opt out it is a Public Health issue. Now either or both might hold some truth, depending on the individual perspective… but as a stated, universal position spoken out loud, can people HEAR what they are saying on MSM?

There was a time when people’s reputations meant something to them and they would carefully weigh and judge such statements as a reflection of their own credibility. Times change.  😉

And then there are the numbers. What follows here is not a Political Statement, but an observation…

292,000 US soldiers died in combat, WWII.

550,000 Americans died in ONE YEAR of COVID from a disputed source (now >570,000 and growing).

1,400,000 fetuses are aborted each year in the US.

It seems like there is plenty of room for a LOT of people to be terribly upset. And where is the accountability?

On a different front, there is a body of interest in creating Covid Passports. Many see this as beginnings of Government Intrusion into personal health that will prove to be a thin end of an increasing wedge of controls and restrictions. Certainly, Multiple States are BANNING such vehicles.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have come out against this idea citing that it is not necessary since many are vaccinated, COVID is becoming more like measles and there is no need for National databases and the like. Dr. Fauci ran open loop of his bosses and declared a Government Passport for COVID was not likely as it is something more properly pursued in the Public Sector.

Nevertheless, the idea keeps hanging on in Government circles; it does facilitate more Control.   😊

Tiger Woods wrecked a car and almost killed himself. Details of the accident were not to be released. However, he was driving downhill at an estimated 84-87mph on a winding road posted with a 45mph limit. There were no skid marks at the point he left the road and he had apparently not fallen asleep.

If Tiger offers you a ride, decline.

Pelosi just keeps on rocking with her Insider Trading. I have seen recorded more than a dozen trades on her behalf when she was first Speaker under Obama. Back then trades were itemized as worth some $200-300K each. This NOT illegal and gains are made by the Speaker by either BRINGING or NOT BRINGING issues to the floor for discussion and/or vote…  walks and smells like Insider Trading but said to be NOT ILLEGAL.

Her recent trades and purchases (in inherent legal collaboration with her husband) have been acquisitions preceding exceptionally large Government Contracts going to companies such as Tesla and then Microsoft. Why aren’t these trades all ILLEGAL?  They are all based on pure, privileged Insider Information. When Government representatives are benefiting in such ways can we REALLY be confident that their actions are always aligned with the best interests of Citizens? Is this believable?

And Bernie Madoff is no more. The great Ponzi Scheme magnate who burned 1000’s of investors over decades was given a 150-year sentence. He died in prison aged 82years.

Governor Cuomo (NY) is still around and refuses to resign despite willful accountability for and deliberate lying about many thousands of avoidable Nursing Home deaths, plus numerous (ten, now?) claims of predatory and inappropriate sexual behavior. Clearly, he feels he is entitled to a different standard of law and accountability.

Never trust a man who looks and behaves like the product of incest between the lead character in a Punch and Judy Sideshow and one of Tolkien’s Dwarfs.  😉

In contrast to the abandonment of Gov Cuomo by numerous local and top Dems, Gov Newsome (CA) looks like he will beat his recall petition and continue his long-term run towards the White House. Top Dems are now circling to protect him (Abrams, Sanders, Warren and Harris from the Left, as I write) even since the very recently public news of his on-going cheating with a top aide. When you are anointed and perceived as needed, you operate under different rules.

Newsome is seeking legal access to the identity and addresses of those who signed his recall petition (>2 million signatures were obtained, with 1.5 million being required) as he feels they were coerced and he wants to have them visited in person. Hmmm.

Black commentators are slamming the BLM cofounder who brought a $1,400,000 home in a mostly white neighborhood.  The self-professed trained Marxist Patrisse Khan-Cullors is getting roasted for this and supposedly other property purchases she has made. It is an expense few poor black people can indulge.

Candace Owen was asking “why doesn’t she want to live among black people, especially if she thinks whites are blacks’ oppressors?”

After reportedly >$2,000,000,000 went into the BLM cause with no accountability or traceability, many BLM groups around the country are asking where is all the money? Apparently, they are seeing none.

I am not a realtor, but I have seen the large SoCal house she purchased and it looks worth much more than $1.4M. This reminds me of when Bob Dylan was writing and singing about hard times and social injustice while living in a high-end Hollywood mansion.

Sadly, for Patrisse, senior political voices are now being raised to demand a legal accounting for where all the money has gone.

And the saga of Harvey Weinstein continues. He has been secretly indicted in CA so that legal proceedings can occur quickly without holdups once he is extradited. If convicted, his #MeToo laundry list of crimes can put him behind bars for 150 years.

He was a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton (last campaign, $1,4000,000) and the Obamas. “How could we have known,” has been Hillary’s cry. Apparently, ALL of Hollywood knew if you asked. But if you have run cover for Bill’s antics for decades and are blind to the many Clinton-Epstein (Lolita Express) outings and episodes, I suppose your vision and judgement becomes irreparably damaged.

In seemingly credible breaking news, it was uncovered that the USPS (yes, the Postal Service) has people assigned to watch on-line Social Media accounts. Of interest are those who plan to attend protests and gatherings of some form. No more details or explanations available at this point. Will someone cue The Twilight Zone theme music? 

Finally, we have readied to begin packing SCOTUS. Legislation is written in both houses just a little ahead of the Study getting underway, to supposedly evaluate what or even if this is appropriate. I cannot tell if this is superb Government Proaction, Amazing Foresight or a simple shot at SCOTUS intimidation in case something just does not work out.  😊

And that is a wrap for what has jumped out as News, recently.

Perhaps you can see why I am personally always looking for travel and activity distractions. We all need breaks from this woeful inundation.

Do you manage to get away from the battering delivered by MSM, Social Media Sites and general News sources?

I have had many folks tell me they opt out and just cannot watch it anymore. That is a sad sign of the times. It is likely also an indication you are trying to avoid programming and ideas you just do not want or would not normally accept.

We are all powerfully and constantly manipulated in our modern environment, throughout the entire day.

Ever manage to get away and take a break? Have friends and family who need to close off for a while?

See if you and loved ones can get a complete break, or just find times in the day and week where you (and they) can tune out or be totally distracted. I am certain everyone will feel better for a break. Have yourself some Happy Isolation

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

My COVID-19 Anniversary.

Not an event I would want to celebrate, but this entry completes a full year of BLOG records chronicling experiences during the declared Coronavirus Pandemic. Ouch.

Shockingly, the large accounting of many (not all) the events recorded below occurred or became visible within just the last 4-5 weeks. These are indeed Troubled Times.

And it all started with us needing “just fifteen days to flatten the curve.”

The year was busier than ever and filled with more social upheaval and woes than most I can recall. The only positive… we have not yet (from the US) started another war. Oddly, we recently ramped down a couple but now are perhaps becoming more tentative with this position.

So, lets consider a few positives before rolling out the record of troubles and events that have emerged in this last month.

I recently returned from a first-time Ice Fishing trip to the Northern Midwest. Enough catches to enjoy results and an opportunity to fish with friends and relatives in frozen, sparsely populated local farming landscapes, featuring occasional abandoned homesteads and spectacular clear-sky sunsets.

Ice was two feet thick and established a base for the truck to shield us from chilling (feels like, -6 F) winds and provide the transport for occasional Fishing Hut (Tent) assembly and propane heaters. The only human sounds were ice augers preparing fishing holes and very occasional vehicles driving onto the lake.

The ice itself booms and clicks all day long as it forms and reforms with changing light and winds.

Even occasional, cold dry-air nosebleeds did little to detract from the experience.

Recent San Francisco Bay sailing outings featured a few private sailboats and some occasional motorboat traffic, depending on the day. Weekends now increasingly attract sparse and distant vessel groupings and individual boats making occasional passing’s, while the weekdays remain largely deserted.

The Bay itself has become surprisingly busier with commercial traffic. Fewer tankers but now more container ships anchor South of the Bay Bridge for later passage up to Richmond or into Alameda and Oakland docks, respectively. The customary point-to-point ferries busily crossing the Bay are long-since gone; their rare sightings transport the very few early morning commuters or end-of-business-day workers returning from the City.

In the last several weeks I made a couple of post sunset night runs into the Bay and along the San Francisco waterfront. These proved both picturesque and haunting, brightly illuminated yet chilly moonlight trips much appreciated by occasional passengers that came along.

In my hometown Santa Cruz, the local surfers are now enjoying larger, more prolific Winter waves. Weekenders and visitors are fewer in the water and surfers move along cliff roads on customized, board-carrying bicycles with little annoyance from far less numerous parked cars.

Weekends feature occasional High School and other surfing tournaments at Pleasure Point where locals huddle about the cliffs surrounding organizers’ tents, watching skilled competitors scything through the waves.

And now to the meat of this record. The Hodge Podge of local, National and Global events

Firstly, Texas has been in the wars with freezing temperatures and power outages variously blamed upon excessive new solar and wind conversions, iced-up wind turbines, snow covered solar panels and various other frozen equipment. Opinions of the root problems continue to be offered.

What is certain is that residents I know reported local farm food, dairy and produce shortages which persisted for weeks and cannot fully recover for many months. Chickens froze, spoiled unpasteurized milk was poured away and harvests were entirely lost in a rare frozen wonderland.

A group of attorneys in Germany want to criminally prosecute “politicians and media people” for unnecessary inflammatory language and actions taken regarding the pandemic.

On a personal note, I returned from my Midwest travel expecting my scheduled 2nd Moderna vaccine shot to find supplies were unavailable to proceed at my (2 hr. drive away) local (Sutter Healthcare) provider in Modesto. Either the Sutter Systems blew up, CA States’ system failed, the Providers failed to input availabilities correctly, or Blue Shield’s oversight of the entire operation belatedly inserted by Gov. Newsome) caused a catastrophic reset or, all-of-the above. Who knows?

Lots of finger-pointing here. My arm awaits a 2nd shot, hopefully BEFORE the CDC (currently) recommended 42 days lapse between injections.

Mississippi, Texas and some other States are 100% re-opening, advising any concerned or at-risk citizens to use their learned mask and distancing protocols as and if they see fit to protect themselves and family. Even Vegas is looking to open their shows and facilities sooner than later.

There has been sad, high-level mudslinging between the President and relevant Governors in criticism of these moves towards economic recovery.

Some parts of the UNITED States are at a vastly different end of the spectrum in relaxing COVID Constraints. It is required to quarantine when you fly into NY, LA and SFO. San Francisco has no visible enforcement, but New York pursues arriving (even Domestic) passengers with check-in calls and multi-page forms for completion and submission. Not clear about LA, but I suspect inevitable local mismanagement might ease burdens for travelers despite the heavy COVID-19 prevalence in LA County and its immediate surrounds.

Alaska and Georgia never announced Statewide mask mandates. Many places like North Dakota waved enforcing such measures and some 11 other States never required mask wearing at any time.

New York is already planning passports for vaccinated people to visit large arenas and gatherings. The airline industry is screaming for uniform globalization of such a scheme.

It will be tough and restrictive for some time for those declining vaccination to travel around. Canada has long-since hinted at restrictions upon the unvaccinated and Australia insists no citizen will leave or enter the country without a vaccination; their entry quarantine procedure is very rigorous and managed, while inland there are no masks required, nor are there any real instances of COVID.

England (and much of the UK) is still in hard lock-down with “next month” and “Summer” hopes for people mixing outside of their Social Bubbles, Restaurants and Public Facilities re-opening and the carrot of Holidays to be had. Their draconian public constraints have resulted in ugly pandemic stats quite like those of (say) Sweden who enacted very few restrictions and sports quite similarly miserable results within their much smaller Country.

Most of the Globe (and US) has already or is currently emerging from a spike in infections and deaths.

It is difficult to miss the fact that heavily locked-down States often fare as badly or even worse than those that are much less restrictive. It is noticeable that densely populated regions (big cities, especially) do very poorly when people are forced indoors in proximity with others; this, a result of the close confinement itself, or just signaling an increased need for groups of people to be separated?

The French Delegation Chair is wanting to prosecute current Globalist President Macron for trying to “sneakily re-introduce last minute mail-in voting” when it was outlawed and made illegal there in 1975 for being commonly known as so blatantly open to voter fraud (“too easy to cheat”). Go figure.

Next, Cancel Culture is so rampant that even President Macron of France has very publicly condemned it, asserting the French do not need or want the virulent behavior prevalent in the US spilling into their Culture and Universities. And France already has a particularly colorful history of rebellion, demonstrations, social unrest and rioting.

You cannot make this up:  Harvard Business School recently cancelled a Speaker who was to talk on Cancel Culture, “because someone complained.”

Having recently seen the works of Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss and numerous books (i.e. “Of Mice and Men,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “Tom Sawyer” etc.) cancelled for various reasonings and by varied authority, I am at loss to comment further, but rather offer this YouTube video for your amusement and consideration

Policies of the new US Administration have resulted in a crisis of illegal immigration and activities at the Southern border. MSM is not reporting the calamity but reality is leaking out as numbers of illegal entries grow and openings of new confinement facilities continue.

The situation is claimed to be challenging but being handled.  In 2015 the Obama administration (Biden was part of the Commission) declared that >1k/day illegal Southern Border crossings are the Definition of a crisis. The CDC is already admitting 3-4k/day are routine and some sources report as many as 6k/day.

Media visits to the border have been prohibited by the Administration over concerns about COVID. Correspondingly, there are reports of hundreds of illegals being admitted and routinely released into the US who are known COVID positive.  

As part of this there is a visible explosion of unaccompanied minors at the border, driving the (re) opening of facilities (one with a reported capacity for 13k people) shuttered under the Trump administration. Illegal immigration exploded over 300% in the Rio Grande Valley <6 weeks after implementation of the new Administration’s policies.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a State of Emergency and deployed National Guard, DPS, Marine, Ground and Air force assets to self-protect citizens from problems tied to illegal entry, human trafficking and various drug cartel activities growing in the Lone Star State.

And when will the COVID pandemic all be over? I have read credited expert opinions for the US projecting a return to normal ranging from early this Summer to perhaps a year from now. Some say never and others say the virus and annual boosters will be with us for years to come.

President Biden just suggested he hopes things will be approaching normal a year from now. Many politically Left-Leaners want to rock the pandemic into 2022 mid-term elections. It has often been stated that the COVID Pandemic was the best thing that ever happened for Biden’s career; a chilling thought.

The head of CNN is on-the-record announcing that the pandemic is very good for business as witnessed by the viewing numbers he enjoys.

As for the impish Dr. Fauci, he seems to have gradually worn out his welcome. This inevitably happens to all those who are over-exposed, anyway. But his recent statements that the virus is “not a big deal,” doesn’t inspire confidence in those infected (or deceased) and he is now routinely credited as being “often wrong” with his stated goals and projections for COVID.

The fact that the overly sensitive and seconded primary testing method to identify POSITIVE COVID cases worldwide is finally widely acknowledged as reporting 90% false positives is not helping public perception and confidence in reporting on and understanding of this Coronavirus.

Personally, I AM incredibly happy to hear the current belief that the chances of dying of COVID-19 after just ONE injection of any vaccine (Johnson & Johnson, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, so far) is essentially ZERO. Of course, this is from a medical community that sadly does not know for just how long an injection is effective, OR if annual boosters will certainly be required.   😉

Locally, the much-despised CA Gov. Newsome will probably be recalled as the desired 2 million signatures are currently secured with only 1.5 million required. Him being photographed dining indoors a couple of times and sending his children to private schools while CA education, dining and business is in general lockdown will not help him. A new (Hollywood) wife hell-bent on his Presidency, his cocaine habits of record and fraudulent personal grabs of COVID relief funds do not make him a point of light in the community. This, even without considering his troubling Spending practices and Policies.

I witnessed a young, voting age girl hesitate to sign for his recall without an explanation of if this was a Liberal or Conservative issue. It should be an issue of integrity and competence, but that ship has obviously sailed.

In reality, being recalled and facing a Special Election may still not be enough (in CA) to oust even this hypocritical, and incompetent blot on society. 

They say that gas prices jumped 63cents/gallon in the first 6 weeks of the new Administration. Shutting pipelines, thereby destroying accompanying infrastructure and prohibiting oil drilling will do that, along with loosing about 1.5 million US jobs though 2022. The good (?) world news is that those losses here will be gains for other countries in both jobs and revenues as that oil WILL be replaced (with environmentally dirtier practices) in other parts of the world. BTW- I just paid $3.96 for a Gallon of Regular in a (less expensive) 76 Gas Station in Silicon Valley, CA; reports suggest $4.00/gallon across the US by Summer.

It looks like NY Gov. Cuomo will be held to some level of account for knowingly driving COVID cases back into nursing homes. I personally recall that advisers and medical professionals were “pleading” with and screaming” at him NOT to do this BEFORE it was ever implemented. He apparently chose the medical lobbyists over these pleas despite well-known Nursing Home deficiencies in PPE, Training and Facilities issues having been visibly consequential across the world (in Italy and Spain) and even within the early US cases in Washington State.

The man was lavished with TV Awards and accolades when this was public knowledge and in plain sight. It was actively and deliberately ignored by the (MS) media as they created their darling.

This is the same man who cried wolf demanding 40k ventilators (he had previously chosen not to purchase) and multiple new hospitals. I recall about 7-8k ventilators ultimately being required while 5 purpose-built hospitals went wholly unused. But the cover-up on the deaths… firstly, to avoid Government scrutiny and then again to facilitate his now stalled book publication, is despicable.

With the seven (currently and counting) sexual harassment (and assault?) claims added on top he is failing to control the investigations even in this deep blue State. His career and methodology of intimidation and threats has been exposed. And yet as he inexplicably refuses to abdicate, I wonder how all this will pan out?

I must believe that NY residents who lost parents and loved ones, out-of-sight and alone in those doomed homes will want his head on a spike. I would, wouldn’t you?

It should be noted that four more Governors (3-D, 1-R) willfully pursued the same policy of returning confirmed COVID cases into Nursing homes. One of these (Gov. Whitmer, MI) is already aggressively preventing access to relevant records to aggrieved parties in her home State. This dam might eventually burst, too.

On a lighter note, the Privacy-Seeking (possibly, soon-to-be Exiled 😉), uber-privileged Sussex Royals of California interviewed with Oprah and a support group of 17 Million American viewers. Essentially, they called out the British monarchy as racist; not helpful if you head a Commonwealth community of >>I Billion people and live in the UK with a massively mixed population of racially diverse immigrants.

The Sussex’s are not popular there and have failed to advance their case for likeability. Markle herself (an ex-TV soap actress) has a long series of documented predatory behaviors, ambitions and reported histrionics she seeks and needs to nullify. Good luck with that when there are US reports of her advising PR staff their goal is to help her become the most influential person in the world.

There has been (more than) 1500 years of the English Monarchy. Armada’s have lined up offshore, overhead bombers have destroyed cities and British armies have campaigned across the Globe. I suspect this veiled grasp for more benefits and acknowledgement with zero personal effort will fade quite quickly into the past, but the fickle world of Cancel Culture and instant global opinion can be dangerous.

And troublingly, nobody would make such claims without a complete, planned and targeted strategy backed with a desire for real material harm and/or personal gain.

Still other personalities have come into focus…

Australians are mercilessly hammering Biden’s cognitive decline and have aggressively commented on his frail campaign performances deteriorating further since the Inauguration. They noted his (unelected and so wholly unempowered) wife stepping in to shield him during botched answers regarding an immigration crisis question and the reopening of a (Trump) facility on the US Southern Border. The Australian press is not under the control of the US MSM.

The Pope was in Iraq supporting persecuted Christians who are suffering in greater numbers now than in any other time in history. He opined that bloodshed and War are incompatible with Christian values.

And Law Enforcement has been under constant pressure from early 2020…

Minneapolis is willingly trying to fund new police recruits after their self-admitted failed defunding moves. Portland is seeing violence levels not witnessed in 25 years and Oakland are topping National murder charts along with Chicago and a string of others.

This is good point at which to think HAPPY THOUGHTS.  😊

Even the President of Germany (Angela Merkel) is calling for the restoration of Trumps Twitter accounts, citing that the suppression of Free Speech has become too profound and unlawful. A collaboration of US publishers has coalesced to prevent any-and-all publication of Conservative ideology, particularly from the previous Administration. Students of history will note historical similarities to events in the Third Reich preceding WWII.

Cancel Culture and the eradication of persons (such as Donald Trump) tends to have a backlash, often worse than if no action were taken. Pendulums swing back and the eradicators are often vilified to a greater degree than those they persecuted. Time will tell.

The NBA has chosen to side with China and NOT roil their largest Market. They are backing Chinas play to line their pockets.

The fact remains that China has subdued the rights of Hong Kong residents by establishing law that allows them to take anyone back into Mainland China that they determine is not compliant with their laws and philosophies. There were massive protests growing in Hong Kong throughout 2019. So, China moved in and subdued the populace. This was condemned all over the world and the US (and others) imposed sanctions on Hong Kong and China as a result.

NOTE: Hong Kong was returned to China by Britain (after their Treaty expired) almost 25 years ago as a Capitalist enclave and a Global Market Financial Center.

One NBA GM mentioned solidarity with Hong Kong’ers and the NBA ended up kissing Chinas rear-end so as to not have their broadcasting and merchandising rights pulled from the Mainland by the CCP.

In addition, China has three (3) million ethnic minority Uyghurs imprisoned. Although the one child Chinese Policy is officially gone, Beijing commonly has Uyghur women forcibly sterilized after two births. The CCP does not like or want this ethnic minority around. This policy is also denounced all over the world as the blatant Human Rights violation which it is.

These are not the only Chinese Rights violations and Imprisonments. It is THIS China the NBA defends and will not speak out about in any form.

The NBA has seen its domestic viewership collapse through 2020 because of activism. It’s convenient and privileged allegiances with China simply do not bear moral scrutiny.

Continuing with the theme of RIGHTS

For better or worse we recently celebrated International Womens Day with Biological Girls being newly forced to share Bathrooms, Sports and Teams with Boys. Some folks are placated, some happy, others are saddened and angered.

We are becoming a Nation that satisfies the needs of all. We operate to the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR. After all, the more lowered are the expectations of a populace, the easier they are to control, direct and use.

To this end Boston has just eliminated Advanced Placement Classes. Apparently, they are too white and too Asian. The argument here would be: Do not raise things UP to joint advantage, rather bring everything DOWN to instant commonality.

Let me paraphrase in the modern vernacular how the somewhat now-cancelled Thomas Jefferson might perceive this current world of chaos…

Cities are Blue.

Rural is Red.

If Socialists rule

you’re better off dead.

It seems that the House has been barreling countless partisan bills to pile-up in the Senate with little hope of review or passage. The only practical reason to actively build the logjam and waste Congressional resources in such desperate times is if the endgame is the ultimate removal of the filibuster, regardless of current refusals to do so. Otherwise, what shocking Government waste.

The latest ($1.9 Trillion) Partisan COVID Relief bill passed through Congress. Less than 9% is earmarked for Relief and <1% is set aside for vaccinations. I heard braggadocio; self-congratulatory claims were made about the removal of a $100 Million pork earmark targeted for a San Francisco Subway. Let me explain math. Even such a massive sum is inconsequential with respect to the total burdensome tab.

Mental health issues in teenagers (particularly) have skyrocketed. Self-harm and overdoses increased 91-100% over the last year. Young people are proving “especially vulnerable to mental health issues related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” There is NOTHING in the $1.9T COVID Relief Bill to address this issue.

There will be States preferentially baled-out with these funds from decades of mismanagement that precede the pandemic; money and pet programs for the boys with weighty and consequential debt for the people.  

Too many Handouts make Citizens convenient Wards of Government. And eventually, the checkbook must be balanced.

I am certain we all hope for many just and appropriate inclusions in the $1.9T bill that will address Infrastructure, Social Issues and make worthy Repairs. Fingers crossed. Have trust in Government.

However, the warnings that the US is headed for economic collapse have begun; they are more frequent and numerous than usual. Certainly, the new Administration has spooked investors and broad-based market fluctuations are now underway. My limited personal aspiration is simply that the current incumbents neither start a War nor Collapse the Markets. What desperate and little requirements to have of Government.

At least the Capitol building is now safe, enshrined behind encircling razor wire barriers, mysteriously and inexplicably still guarded by thousands of troops. Had known early warnings of expected unrest simply been heeded, this situation would never have occurred; incompetent security management abounds at all levels yet remains predictably and largely unacknowledged.

It is time to think MORE HAPPY THOUGHTS.  😊

Georgia is now acknowledging and pursuing some 35 affidavits filed regarding Voter Fraud in the last Presidential election. Many States are passing laws and reviewing their Voting practices. It seems that few will raise their voices high for fear of being cancelled.

There were >1,000 more Affidavits filed about the 2020 election. Little profound investigative legal action is visible on this front, though Congress is pushing radical partisan Voting Laws that (currently) cannot stand Senate scrutiny. Action seems late for what has passed and yet contrived for what is to come.

On a different note, I typically receive email notifications of 3-4 wholly inappropriate, but available professional nursing jobs each day. Google has hiccupped on my behalf. Certainly not the caliber of relevant snooping and personal targeting one has come to expect.   😉

The Daily News looms over the Pandemic, fraught with misery and misdirection. When everything feels mired with gloom, I restore my personal faith in the World by listening to Pavarotti singing Puccini’s Nessun Dorma. Try it on YouTube. It really does inspire.

How are you bearing up under the weight of Local, National and International News? Making any time to recharge your batteries? Are you helping friends and family navigate this stressful era?

It might be wise to set aside some personal time and make plans for mentally recharging. Give it a try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

The Strange Case Of 2021 Rollout & California COVID

Curiouser and curiouser becomes the landscape as we descend though February.

How does one remain neutral? Merely reporting facts looks like a condemnation of a position as so much troubling news floods in daily and seemingly all from one direction.

Many must be staggering around searching for a RESET button for 2021, with about as much chance of success as someone under 75 years identifying a COVID vaccination opportunity.

The hypocrisy and alarming news just keep on coming.

So, let me lighten the load with some heartening observations…

The Winter storms have begun in California; always an opportunity for experiencing the natural world.

Rolling wave crests have been licking the undersides of the Capitola wharf and beaches have dispersed into the Pacific, staining the shallower waters for a mile out.

Sandy berms built early by bulldozing County workers have now mostly washed away and bark-stripped trees and branches roll up to the local seawall in Capitola and pile on the beaches down towards Santa Cruz Harbor. The deeply recessed coastal bay down on 17th Avenue floods on each major daily tide.

Hummingbirds still dash between the feeders no matter how heavy the wind or rain.

A break in the storm left a rare and seemingly unharmed immature Sharp-Shinned Hawk dead in the garden without a mark upon his untroubled plumage. A sad find. An unusual event.

Local East Cliff Drive stood flooded to 1.5’ in the hollow down by Dog Beach some 400yds away. High seated pickup trucks ran through the water and declared the road open for themselves. The following night tides and winds carved low winding channels to the water table and the saltwater snaked back through the beach into the waves.

Driving rains upon the cliffs overlooking Pleasure Point emptied the road of walkers; nothing to see here anyway, as the large, unusable mixed-wave ocean had finally lost the interest of surfers. All that remained were a fleet of a few dozen pelicans almost frozen in position and formation, sitting on the powerful updraft pushing up the cliffs from the onshore wind.

In late January I caught a break in weather and drift-fished for trout in the Lower Sacramento River up North at Red Bluff. The day was productive and yielded a good catch of trout from 12-14’ deep holes.

Later I delivered a boat for repairs and maintenance in Richmond, far up the San Francisco Bay, passed the shallow waters behind and East of Angel island. The only vessel I saw was a 60’ Coast Guard Frigate sat up, waiting to escort a large dredging scow emerging from the East Treasure Island docks, just North of the Bay Bridge.

The 12mph winds with possible rain forecasted for the trip showed up as a 28mph blow with heavy showers. Such is the nature of the forecasts, hereabouts. I arrived in a glass-like calm after a 2 ½ hr. passage.

After these positive, distracting experiences let me now return to the realities of everyday news and events…

The spike in COVID-19 cases has largely continued throughout the Western world. The US long-since surpassed 400k deaths and the UK has announced their national lockdown will continue into March.

New strains of the Covid-19 virus have been found domestically and across the globe. An initial mutation discovered plaguing the Southeast of the UK is referred to being much more contagious, but unfortunately is now rated as perhaps 30% more deadly, too.

It is implied that the current array of vaccines should hold good against Coronavirus mutations.

The much-publicized invasion of the Capitol building in DC sparked endless accusations, threats and has centered National politics around retribution, retaliation and inflamed rhetoric.

WASHINGTON DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES – 2021/01/06: Protesters seen all over Capitol building where pro-Trump supporters riot and breached the Capitol. Rioters broke windows and breached the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. Police used batons and tear gas grenades to eventually disperse the crowd. Rioters used metal bars and tear gas as well against the police. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

We have a new President sworn in who pledged himself to Unity and Healing. His Inauguration was largely virtual and chaperoned with 25,000 National Guard troops and riot fencing circling the Capitol. There seemed very few attendees other than those somewhat delicately spaced and placed around the ceremonial platform. The viewership on major National broadcasting channels was high.

Weeks later these large numbers of troops remain in DC, largely billeted in cold parking garages with few and primitive amenities. They apparently declined to “set up machine gun nests” requested by politicians for the Inauguration, as really few physically showed up for the planned virtual event and “troops do not fire on citizens.”

Even now nobody speaks to why these troops are still in place, but they are directed to stay on and are a dramatic show of force remaining within Washington.

On the local front, a week after the Inauguration and as a sudden surprise, Governor Newsome of CA declared to his heavily shuttered State that “we beat it” and can open-up outdoor dining, again. This was a shocking turn of events when COVID infection numbers and deaths did not support the statement. LA County and surrounding Counties remained under a very dark, worsening cloud.

Most people however recognize that at the time of his action there were 1.2 Million signatures in place of the 1.5 million required for his Recall, with still 6 weeks left for collection. Being Governor of the State with the acclaimed most compromised vaccination program might also have entered his calculations (for personal survival).  He has raised the ire of the populace on both sides of the aisle.

Additionally, California recently announced it will be developing software to aid with on-line vaccine distribution and tracking. For a supposed high-tech enclave, this recent announcement is staggering. The vaccine roll-out visibility is many months old. And the need for infrastructure to support the complexities of transportation, distribution, storage and deployment have been obvious for over half a year. Why wouldn’t this development have been begun six months ago or even NINE months earlier? This shows truly staggering negligence and incompetence.

The financial deterioration of more densely populated, heavily locked-down suburban areas (such as in New York, Michigan and California, etc.) is profound. I assume that current and on-going plans for stimulus packages will now drive $billions into their coffers to heal both the ravages of COVID-related closures and decades of prior fiscal mismanagement, entirely at the expense of all US Taxpayers.

Interestingly, statistical data tells us that areas with punitive COVID lock-down requirements during this Winter period have fared similarly (and often worse) than those without such restrictions.

Correspondingly, more lightly populated North Dakota State was recently recognized as the TOP distributor of the vaccines they have available.

On the Political front, apparently the ONLY thing that the Left and Right largely agree upon is that Washington DC is a corrupt swamp. The problem is that we have the inmates running the asylum and why would these same persons WANT to facilitate change?

Most people I meet accept this congenital corruption as inevitable. Yet why would you tolerate self-serving actions and rampant hypocrisy? With the inmates in charge, what options ultimately remain to materially change this degenerate situation?

Still, nobody should feel they live within a storm of corruption and lies.

On the lighter side, we have a Superbowl bearing down upon us. This year there will be notable absences from several traditional major advertisers; folks such as Budweiser are paring down their participation.

Around the US there continue major riots in cities such as Portland, Seattle, Washington and Tacoma. These are self-identified as Antifa-organized and operated, but since they started on Inauguration night, they have basically fallen unreported by MSM. They are also self-proclaimed anti-Biden riots.

Biden himself famously reported Antifa as being an idea or concept rather than a real organization. This outfit is nonetheless placing personnel advertisements for paid jobs on Facebook. The first such (I read) is for a coordinator to drive school programs, promoting Antifa awareness and teachings; the job pays around $60k per annum.

As for BLM, they are up for a Nobel prize. It appears the year-long riots in most major cities across the entire Nation were good for business; certainly, it helped haul in an estimated $2Billion in elusively placed funds.

Crime on the other hand is running unchecked. Pick your city and see the results. LA has rolled out initial Police reforms and funding cutbacks to a backdrop of unchecked growth in major crime. It seems people will increasingly venture out during a COVID lock-down for MAJOR criminal action but them generally staying home a little more helps the incident rates on a few minor criminal activities.

Vaccination distribution outlook is grim. If you are not a Healthcare worker, Caregiver, in a Home, a prisoner or over 75 years old then you are a LONG way from being vaccinated; you CAN get on a list for WANTING to be notified when vaccines become available.

There remain a high percentage of people who do NOT want to be vaccinated; this was running as high as 40% of the Healthcare workers in the early weeks. Why is that, truly? ☹

I am now hearing that Dr. Fauci and the Administration are moving towards the use of DOUBLE masks. I know both Fauci and Kamala Harris have oft been seen sporting double setups. Since mandating masking on all Federal Property was a Day1 priority for the New Administration, perhaps they will move on the double-up situation, shortly?

The on-again, likely-to-fail impeachment of Trump lies ahead of us. This begs the question: perhaps trials of many past Presidents should be considered once one party holds a controlling interest? And as there seems to be no statute of limitations post Presidency, is Obama next on the table? Bush? Maybe SJW’s want the heads of the now sullied Lincoln and Washington?

During his Presidential campaign, Biden wisely made the point, “You can’t legislate by Executive Order (EO) unless you’re a dictator. We’re a Democracy. We need consensus.”  Commendable words.

Unfortunately, during his first week in Office Biden signed over forty (40) EO’s, breaking records.

The Day1 cancellation of the Keystone pipeline immediately cost 11,000 direct US jobs with another 60,000 that will fall out from support infrastructure. Added to that all drilling is banned on Federal land, which will cost >1,000,000 more jobs by 2022.

Strangely, the US Government owns a LOT of land. Through 5 agencies they look after and own some 30% of the entire 3.8Million square miles. This is NOT predominantly comprised of Military Bases, Government Buildings and National Parks, which are a minor part of the total.

Most US Government land acquisition occurred out West as the Nation grew.  Percentages owned include: 80% of Nevada, 63% Utah, 61% Alaska, 53% Oregon, 46% California, 36% Colorado, 29% Montana, 29% Washington and so on. Only the 20% owned of Hawaii is dominated by a National Park. There is at best poor government administration and funding of these vast lands; witness the fires and floods in badly managed areas.

Now, think water, mineral, resource and property rights. The Government owns much and this is controlled by very few of the populace; those very few with power, influence and some Government positions hold the reins. There is big money in Land Ownership. Forget the, “ …Government for the people, by the people…” anecdote; the Constitution holds little sway, here.

Returning to the issue of oil industry subjugation. This is reportedly targeted to suppress Global Warming. But the US absence from an industry only elevates others to take their place in world supply. 90% of the Carbon emissions occur outside of US territories.

Global warming has been with us (and well-measured) for MANY decades. International actions to address the problem are the most important, but they are centered more within the scope of China, highly industrialized areas and emerging Nations like India.

During the last 4 years the US EXCEEDED the emission reduction requirements of the abandoned 2015 Paris Agreement; they are the ONLY nation to do so. And I doubt ANY nation paid their obligations for failing to meet their goals within the Agreement.

Personally, I would be much more comfortable (read, impressed) if I could find a single climatologist that understood and addressed the issue of Precession, Earths (currently high) 23.5 deg axial tilt and Orbital Position in their pontifications, theoretical models and predictions of climate variation.

Changing subjects…

On the (2020) election front, only a lunatic would think there was no substantial voter fraud. There was nothing that would have prevented or changed this (traditional) historical US behavior and activity. The only question is:  How MUCH fraud was there? The answer will be long forthcoming.

I see it is now seemingly illegal and punishable to question the integrity of the last election. Very alarming.

Yet I wonder, what happened to those >1,000 Signed Affidavits alleging separate incidents of Voter Fraud? Claims made were of issues with 1,000’s to 100, 000’s of votes being involved. Surely the complainants should be punished for making libelous false claims, OR people would be tried for their alleged actions?

But there is nothing of note, no real activity either way. How can this be? This null event is the single outcome that cannot occur in a Nation of Laws.

Then there continues the issue of Integrity in Politics. We seem to wave away the compromised trading activities of Pelosi (yet again), this time with Tesla stock.  And the (returned, beloved by both Right and Left) new Secretary of the Treasury, Yellen is immediately raising eyebrows.  Janet has failed to recuse herself in the GameStop trading controversy despite receiving $810k from a major protagonist in the scandal. Sadly, these are hardly rare unaddressed occurrences.

Finally, the Emmy-winning bubble has inevitably burst, highlighting Cuomo’s Nursing Home and general mismanagement scandals. This has emerged almost nine months after his ill-fated actions drove the worst per Capita COVID-19 rates in the industrialized world, while nursing home deaths were being undercounted by over 50%. In all honestly who did not know what was being done and hidden in plain sight? Yet the intentional deceit went on well beyond all credibility.

Generally, the more egregious the sin, the less publicized by MSM, depending on the side being chosen. Recent polls tell us most people do not trust the media and blame them for much.

To quote Mark Twain,” Suppose you were a journalist and suppose you were a liar. But I repeat myself.”

Well, all these events, hypocrisies and anomalies have weighed on me much as I am sure they do on others. So, with little but mostly disheartening news I look for small pleasures and distractions elsewhere…

Just the other day I wandered into a Best Buy, because, well, “they are future.”  I found myself in the camcorder section and absent-mindedly watched a film featuring me on TV for 20 mins. until a large person in blue uniform asked me what I was doing and shooed me away.

Such is life.  😊

I see many others seeking their relief in on-line community newsletters, sharing platforms, exercise and outings. If ever there was a time for distraction.

Are you finding diversions from these Winter Storms? Do you feel the need? Is there anything in your life that eases the burden of National and Local News?

Make the time to find experiences that lighten up living for yourself, friends and family.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

CA Update: Shut Down and Told to Stay Home

Let us start this latest update on some positive notes and then delve into the why’s, wherefores and results that accompany them.

Firstly, if you are fortunate to have savings or retirement funds based in any securities, 401’s and IRA’s you’ll likely be enjoying the positive news as markets are UP and the DOW has surged to record heights.

Next there’s a couple of (US) approved vaccines out there and already in distribution.

Greater clarity is now afforded into the Pandemic risks by increasingly available Coronavirus accounting, which helps us all to better research our own liabilities.

The Christmas Star has been on view across the world, enriching the Holiday Season.

And another US Stimulus Package is hopefully nearing Government-approval for action. (At least it is moving).

So, we begin on a broadly positive footing and have reasons for hope hurtling into 2021.

I have not been journeying out on extended travels recently; rather staying locally in my hometown of Santa Cruz and heading up North for boating out of Alameda on the weekends.

The Financial Market bounce has been stimulated by perceived DEADLOCK in Washington. Although election news drags on the Markets had their needs satisfied quite shortly following the Nov. 3rd polling.

The House has a more balanced party participation and to all intents and purposes a Senate already approximately tied leaves the occupancy of the White House far less relevant. It seems that as politicians are notoriously and primarily focused on retaining their seats in two years, all the big-ticket, controversial bills and positions are already largely “off the table.”

The political desire to be controversial and take personal career risks will wane and so we have practical Deadlock, as near as dammit.

Financial Markets like this Washington Stalemate, hence the surge, which was stimulated further by the promised, expected and predicted arrival of the first Vaccines.

It is sad to reflect that investors are markedly uncomfortable when Government can be more active; a stunning practical reaction and perhaps a condemnation?

Locally I share the California lockdown currently in effect through Christmas with 40 million others. Gatherings of any size are not allowed. Some other States are equally burdened, boding poorly for a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday Season and New Year.

The motivation to travel out of State is lessened as my preferred North Dakota travel destination is currently topping the Infection and Death-count charts for both long-term and 7-day Covid-19 Stats. The ND distinction of just recently being recognized as the ONLY State that grew economically during this Pandemic is quickly receding to the background as it’s minimized closure actions now seem more suspect.

More distant in-State CA travel seems rather hopeless too, as closures are everywhere, dining freedoms are universally rescinded and Essential Travel Only restrictions are back in-play, affecting hotel-stays.

Local restaurants again offer only take-out options, some allowing self-serve in their temporary outdoor facilities and others now dismantling these recently built dining areas to conform with spotty local ordinances.

The surfers still swarm Pleasure Point just down the street, wandering passed the newly posted prominent blue sign asserting STAY HOME ORDER ENFORCED. ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY.

The word ENFORCED was obscured with surfing-related stickers almost immediately and locals mill around the area as usual, largely unmasked. It is unlikely the local Sherriff will police this area at all.

Published Stats say that Santa Cruz County has indeed had a surge in Virus numbers. It has reached a total local death-rate consistent with a bad flu season.

Some people mask-up outdoors as required locally. Mostly these seem to NOT be locals, are elderly or probably have underlying health issues.

I have heard young, mid-20’s service workers say they just wear their masks to keep people happy as there is almost no chance they could die from COVID. They seem willing to guard others, fulfil their job requirements and protect their employer’s conformance interests.

Recent weekends locally feature a 7-man rock band set up on one of the busier Santa Cruz intersections at Portola and 41st. They show up afternoons on Saturday and Sunday, plug in under the canopy of a mostly vacated Auto-repair building and entertain standing groups of 30-40 mostly mask-less people, or whomever shows up.

I suppose this is Civil Disobedience during a period of an enforced Stay Home order.

As I have driven by these performances on at least three occasions I assume no enforcement will be forthcoming.

And so, health risks and dictates are accepted differently in several quarters.

Hereabouts, if you are not in the 70-80, 80-90 or 90+ age brackets, in a care facility or part of the 30% Hispanic population the risks of death from COVID are extremely low. But few people want to be the exception, caught out against the odds.

The Pandemic thrives as temperature drops; this bodes badly for the encroaching and lengthy Winter months still to come when vaccinations are not immediately available. And many other States face far worse weather outlooks than California.

The great majority of deaths in CA occur in just FIVE of the Southern California Counties. Of these LA County is >6x worse than each of the other four. The remaining 53 CA Counties have spotty ups and downs but are largely under the same increased lock-down rulings employed across 5 newly defined regions.

The restrictions placed across California State by Governor Newsome have been poorly received because of his own, well-publicized ignorance of his own edicts. Dining out, keeping his OWN business interests open and making questionable personal grabs on first round COVID-relief funds have won him no friends.

He faces another growing push for his RECALL which might stick in this case, given some from his own party are reportedly showing interest. 

Newsome has a poor image with locals who knew him where he grew up in Marin and he is a nephew of Nancy Pelosi. There is currently rumor he has personal interest in the Senate Seat of Kamala Harris as an escape chute from Recall, should it become necessary.

I used an on-line NYT vaccination queue predictor for my own situation. There appear to be about 120 million people ahead of me in line. Firstly, health workers and those at high risk, also posing politicians and now even incarcerated felons in some States.

Interestingly the outcome of the Presidential Election continues in the news. The Electoral College has already given Biden the nod, but the Citizenry apparently largely (some 70%) accepts that large-scale voter-fraud was in play; yet courts remain unconvinced despite a recent confirmatory Government report and >1000 sworn affidavits being registered in predominantly Battle-ground States.

Even overseas Bookies that make a living on being right offer good odds that Trump’s last day in office will be January 2025. These beliefs are further fueled by VP-Elect Kamala Harris’ continued refusal to vacate her Senate seat.

This is a truly epic Banana-Republic Soap Opera scenario. When and How will it all end?

Internationally it seems that every dog has its COVID Success Then failure (or vice versa) Story.

Once-envied Sweden touted its Herd Immunity approach yet has now replaced that with recent high-level government acceptance that (quote) whatever we did, has failed miserably.  As I write Sweden’s internal lock-down restrictions have just been increased and extended into the New Year.

But now previously underperforming neighbors Denmark, Norway and Finland are claiming successes, based ironically upon their ability to quickly conform and follow instructions, buoyed-up (in Norway) by substantial North Sea Oil reserve revenues fueling their economy.

Germany is now under stringent lock-down restrictions. Schools are closed and those picturesque Christmas Markets are cancelled both there and across much of Europe. Holiday Season celebrations will be bleak or none outside the home.

The UK has detected the FIRST reported Virus Mutation across their Southeast territories, an oddly less-infected region at the beginning of the year. A second variant has subsequently emerged in England; this initially being tied to South African travel.

It seems few Countries test for or can quickly discover Mutations, so who knows where the rapidly spreading first version emanated or will travel next? Virologists claim that more contagious mutations are usually less deadly. As for the Second Mutation, who knows?

Fingers crossed on all accounts; time will tell.

Some European Countries are closing flights to and from the UK. Today the EEC is calling for that practice to cease. Where will this settle?

I saw a Satisfaction Survey polled for Europeans contemplating how SATISFIED they are with their own government’s decisions in protecting them from COVID. The aforementioned Scandinavians (in Norway, Denmark and Finland, w/o Sweden) are currently somewhat happy, with those in France and Spain posting the highest levels of dissatisfaction.

A bright influence on the world has been the Christmas Star, visible low in the Southwest from California soon after sunset and appearing through Christmas day. What appears as a single Star is actually a regular conjunction of the two largest Planets in the Solar system, namely Jupiter and Saturn. Although their orbital proximity happens every 20 years it is rarely seen so bright and close to earth; things last looked this good in 1226 AD. Worth a look, with or without binoculars.

More locally a San Francisco Renaming Committee has decided to ditch a few dozen names from local schools. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s will be gone as she came down on the wrong side of an argument on permitting a Confederate flag to be raised one day in 1984; someone got some long-awaited revenge.

And Lincoln is OUT, too; despite the Emancipation Proclamation he is not sufficiently WOKE, viewed through the retrospective, revisionist lens of time.

Speaking with a couple of still active local garage owners, I am told things are continuing adequately for them. Their Automotive businesses are surviving well enough to keep the lights on, pay rent and avoid layoffs.

Some unusual things flare in the Press. I read a Transgender Activist is pushing for ALL children to receive Puberty Blockers so they can avoid the great trauma of puberty onset until they are ready. It seems a little out there for many today, but 20 years from now, who knows what might be dictated and embraced?

Those people in any form of Care Facility must be suffering in their lengthening separations from friends and loved ones. Even the best Social Media and Communication tools leave us isolated, longing for human touch and contact.

It is a daunting challenge for all Caregivers to satisfy this basic need and fully relieve the misery.

And there are also inevitably many small households across the Globe where the latest STAY HOME Orders have condemned occupants to potentially miserable isolation.

On a personal note, I grow tired of the constant hand sanitizing and masking-up activities required while shopping for essentials but doggedly persist, anyway. I have even received Text Messaged Stay-At-Home Alerts as I have lined up to enter a store, while simultaneously watching un-masked groups of energetic runners stream by.

These days the contradictions are many and diverse. The path to exit this unwanted anomalous lifestyle feels interminable, even with an end in sight.

However, it is now time to figure out WHEN I might expect my vaccination. I am not one of those who will shy away, especially given my distance back in the queue; any short-term vaccine risks will be WELL in the past by the time my turn ever comes around.

And my inoculation will likely soon end up being an official requirement for the travel I so desperately yearn.

How about you? Finding any joy in your life and outlook?

The Holiday Season and New Year are upon us. It is a long way till things return to any flavor of normal. So, are you making enough effort to eke out a level of fulfilment and happiness in your own situation?

There are always things out there to savor. Take a thoughtful look and be sure you are making the absolute best of these challenging times!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

CA COVID: Restrictions, Mandates with an Election on Top

My latest escape to the less-COVID climes of Northern CA highlights some interesting anomalies.

And the results from Federal and Local Elections are still raining their bounties down upon the citizenry.

Firstly, let us consider the travel…

I unexpectedly found my hotel in Red Bluff (CA) to be in a more COVID-restricted town than its larger neighbor (Redding), just 30 miles away. This created the need for a daily commute for indoor dining and services.

Despite the existing local restrictions our arrival at the hotel front desk had reception personnel scrambling to even locate their mask supply when we entered sporting our own, gangster-like facial coverings.

The very visible cleaning staff never masked-up throughout the 4-night stay.

Our Hotel was initially largely empty but picked up activity as CA firefighters and power distribution workers came and went with overnight billeting; local fires were reaching containment.

Most guests wore masks around the hotel.

We were Drift Fishing locally and further South (on the Lower Sacramento River), while driving North for meals, purchases and off-road ATV adventures alongside the Shasta Dam.

No masks were requested or required during either outdoor activities or excursions up to Redding for indoor food and drinks.

There are spectacular views from dedicated ATV trails winding up the towering hills and mountains overlooking the Shasta Lake and Dam. And drift-fishing the Lower Sac for Steelhead and Trout was a treat.

We are already booked for a return visit to this region next week but will stay further North in Redding to enjoy the lesser COVID restrictions and indoor facilities.

And now back to Santa Cruz, my hometown…

The few visitors wander about outdoors with more now wearing masks, while areas mostly frequented by locals feature few facial coverings.

Overall, outdoor mask usage seems to be on the increase though it is not mandated hereabouts. Perhaps there are just more COVID-sensitive visitors drifting down from Silicon Valley to capture the last vestiges of warmer weather as it trails away? Perhaps it is a Pavlovian response?

More local restaurants are featuring restricted indoor seating and those who invested in makeshift outdoor seating areas are beginning to construct increasingly elaborate shelters to protect diners from the coolness of an encroaching Winter clime.

I hear of restauranteurs feverishly scouring the country to acquire outdoor heaters. Their solution may be viable in warmer States but will prove a difficult proposition to sell diners in more Northerly locations.

Temporary windbreaks and propane heaters are not viable business options where cold winds swirl, snow can fall and the indoor dining options are COVID-limited or none.

Today I heard that local restaurants having any indoor seating will be hit with increased social distancing requirements by the weekend.

I recently returned from a weekend journey to Alameda for a regular weekly boat outing.

In that County the accommodations for COVID restrictions continue to expand with outdoor masking requirements still in place.

More tall, wide plastic barriers appear between clients and cashiers everywhere; washbasins, urinals and toilets have alternate stations closed to help enforce separations.

It is common to see people line up rather than enter stores and restroom facilities when they perceive too many others inside. There are often no signs posted to enforce or recommend this behavior; people just do it.

The UK has just entered another lockdown. Public facilities, bars, restaurants etc. are all closed again, for a month. Restaurant food is again take-out only; folks are to stay indoors and avoid all gatherings. Only essential work and shopping is permitted.

They too have seen plastic screens and separation safeguards springing up everywhere.

When people are controlled long enough and required to wear masks, distance, not gather in even small groups, avoid humans from other residences and so on, they become increasingly compliant.

Societies are surprisingly easily moved to new programming standards.

Most humans follow and comply. It is their nature and destiny.

And then, along came the Election…

People turned out in droves, mailed ballots in record numbers and even voted from their graves.

Of course, we do have election fraud. It is as American as apple pie throughout the centuries of US voting experience.

ALL Countries who have permitted voting have election fraud woven through their histories. Even early Romans voting for their Republic experienced these problems.

Surely, everyone knows this?

And mischievously, let me loosely quote Joseph Stalin who said:  I do not care who votes, only who counts the votes.

Election fraud is Inevitable, Expected and Historically Consistent.

The only truly certain thing in Elections is that the leaderships of BOTH sides are lying. The real challenge is to determine exactly How Much?

This current election result remains contested. Did malfeasance determine the outcome? It is unlikely we will ever know precisely. Whomever prevails will write that history.

Our existing voting system is the laughingstock of most Western and Industrialized Nations.

Establishing a more secure, robust, LESS corruptible modern voting methodology and mechanism is relatively easy to accomplish. As a Nation we have repeatedly chosen to pass on this readily achievable option.

Obviously, this approach is simply NOT WANTED by controlling government officials, their prevailing influencers and special interest groups.

So, as I write it appears we have a new leader laying claim to the Presidency. The contest continues.

And the Politics of the Country continues a flirtation with both Socialism and Communism.

I personally come from a background where Socialist and left-leaning policies and practices have held sway from time to time, leaving their legacy and marks.

In fact, most industrialized Nations are at some level already Socialist. If you have national social programs, Welfare, Unemployment benefits, Large Workers Unions, Food Programs, Medical Assistance, Government Mandates and Controls etc., etc., your toes are already deep in the water.

The issue with Socialism is simply how far do you dive in?

To me, Socialism always seems analogous to a Black Hole.

There the excretion spins ever closer to entry, to be eventually and inevitably drawn in. You can never escape back through the event horizon and may only glimpse what was before; the top of the abyss is forever out of reach.

Socialism seems much the same. Has anyone seen a Nation enter and escape? Has anyone witnessed such events and seen other than a general national decline into mediocrity, or much, much worse?

And the comparative failures of Communism are equally strikingly visible to us all… unless you are situated in the very top percentile of privileged beneficiaries.   😊

Then there are also those warning signs that foretell Cultural and National decline.

Certainly, our Domestic Chaos, Political Unrest, Internal Polarizations, International Ridicule, escalating National Debt and diminished Global Status are obvious warning signs of decay.

It seems we may be witnessing an early progression along a catastrophic path.

And now, tragically, the happy early discovery of an effective COVID vaccine has become the latest political football; even while people sicken and die. Who can seize credit? Who must not?

I personally know far too many people who have already or are trying to find another place to live because of just such observations and concerns.

There is a palpable fear of unpredictable domestic restrictions emerging; mandates suddenly escalating and appearing for no measurably valid reason.

Might new policies have dire consequences?

But on the lighter side…

There is always next week.

Today, I can bury my head in the sand, again.

Tomorrow may look a little different. We will see.   😊

How is the outlook for you and yours in these troubled times? Is it now appropriate to review what lies ahead or establish new plans? Might there be a personal impact? Should you have any concerns?

Acting too early or needlessly can be both foolish and wasteful. However, Reacting too late may well eliminate your best options.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Life Viewed From COVID California: Travel, Local & National Updates

Who would have thought after almost 10 months we’d still be wondering what daily local COVID-19 ordinance twists the day would bring?

Madrid (Spain) is re-entering lock-down and flagging what might be expected as the pandemic keeps on giving.

Since a New Years visit to Time Square to start 2020, I have been on 3 additional domestic trips, just recently returning from Alaska.

The crucial Alaskan mid-year tourist season was destroyed by COVID-related restrictions. Visitor numbers were down severely. The sparse crowds were great for guests but underscore the harsh economic realities in play for Alaskans.

My own late-season September visit still panned-out well and we shipped a freezer full of Salmon and Halibut fillets back to CA. The clear views of Denali, scenic flights, landings on glaciers, biking, fishing, dining and sightseeing were as spectacular as advertised, perhaps more than envisioned.

We spoke with many locals and countless immigrants who have found their home in the State. They came, they saw and they stayed.

And then the return to California…

Locally, the reinstated masked fishing trips are more sparsely attended in the touristy areas, though things have become busier in the Northern Areas of San Francisco Bay.

Dine-outside-only arrangements keep many local restaurants afloat using parking-space conversions for seating. Inside seating never received general approval. As the Fall comes on temperatures will decline and this whole al fresco approach will become increasingly less viable.

Journeys to less sternly COVID-restricted States and towns can be joy. Only the deflation of an imminent return to your own neighborhood can diminish the experience.

Air travel itself is not too painful: Keep masks on, expect diminished (but less crowded) services at layovers and then on-board; just keep washing your hands. The constant avoidance of touching and nearing, well, everything, increases the dehumanization.

Air traffic is light. Industry layoffs are looming. Temporary work for those furloughed will be harder to find as so many facilities are shuttered and closed. Small, regional airports will not survive unharmed.

We are all more isolated. Even bike-rides, days sailing, simple walks, dining out and short daytrips have become more solitary pursuits. Social activities are generally stalled or sputter along.

Many folks appear to make an effort, but the isolation and small groupings of people outdoors amplifies the separation between us all.

I know of a group of young adults, friends who simply mix completely mask-less regardless of the consequences. Some got COVID, did their sick-time and the group continues. I have no idea how or if the virus spread between the participants propagated elsewhere, if at all; it is unclear how they manage their subsequent interactions with outsiders.

Families, older citizens and those with compromised health are generally far more cautious.

There are less people out and about. The sustained Summer throngs never really materialized along the Coast and local Ordinances seemed to appear to minimize any looming gatherings tied to traditional Holidays and breaks.

It’s easier to get around on less crowded streets but parking problems are often exacerbated when restaurants have commandeered parking spots with temporary seating arrangements.

Occasionally there seem almost normal clusters of traffic on Freeways, but now they disperse, move and flow. Only occasional accidents and breakdowns impede travelers with temporary delays. The police appear mostly uninterested in enforcing speed restrictions, perhaps risking currently difficult encounters.

A BART train rides past above a homeless encampment on 5th Street between Bush and Castro streets in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Homeless people increasingly encroach upon the busier road systems and interchanges. New structures constantly appear: Tents, rows of small Manufactured Sheds, Porta-Potties and dirt-stained Tarps cover acres of seemingly quiet encampments.

The nightly rampage of violent demonstrations has either slowed in the 40+ States affected, or the reveling media outlets have tempered their coverage in the wake of strong public opinion denigrating the MSM role and the events themselves.

Life seems stalled. Everyone waits: The Presidential debates, the SCOTUS appointment and the Election. Everything is staged for the next phase of bad behavior and debilitating action.

Those tied to areas with family, homes and work must wonder what will happen next. Will destruction and unwanted division consume their world more directly?

Folks in neighborhoods previously harmed and degraded must wonder if, when and how the misery will return, perhaps even amplified.

And for those still amongst the daily and nightly turmoil, tomorrow looms large. When will it end?

I live in a quiet suburban pocket with its own temperate climate and moderate ways, distinct and separate from the still over-heated turmoil of Silicon Valley just 40 miles away.

The flow of humanity that spills over the Santa Cruz mountains into this area seems somehow more subdued. It is as if people arriving tread lightly, needing and wanting to be accepted to this more tranquil clime; often visitors appear reluctant to mention they are not locals.

The multi-State Western Fires have now faded in the news. They dumped thick ash on we to their South and Bad Air Days blew Eastwards, reaching the Midwest. Occasional columns of fire-fighting vehicles fill lanes on the Freeways as they return to SoCal.

And now Napa (CA) has tens of thousands of acres consumed in uncontained flames. Stained air has begun to pour into this area, again; the sun looms orange from midday on and can be viewed with the naked eye, hanging like a giant, reddening moon. Perhaps those tired firefighters from the South will be required to return?

There is a nightly hang-out I visit in the picturesque Santa Cruz Harbor following a bike ride. It attracts locals, people from the Valley and some displaced from the burned, surrounding hills. Many are eager to talk and interact with others.

Everyone who engages seems to yearn for a return to their norms. They do not want to settle for a NEW NORMAL; that is unwanted by all I meet.

People seem to be holding their breath, waiting for an Election among fools to free them from their impositions.

The same appears to be true in several European Countries. Yet they must be praying some different National trigger will set them free.

And now the US President and FLOTUS have become the third National Leaders to fall victim of COVID-19. They began a quarantine reportedly A-symptomatic.

The hope surrounding vaccine availabilities is now under attack: “Can they be trusted,” “Are they safe,” are questions hung over us like a sword of Damocles by compliant media agents.

The facts surrounding COVID infection and resulting restrictions have become irrelevant. Where I live the controls are disproportionate to the disease.

In this County I am 4X more likely to contract and die from influenza than COVID-19; medical professionals hereabouts warn that we overinflate numbers for the few (COVID) deaths that have occurred.

And yet the global CA restrictions and controls live on here, locally.

Most people are searching for a silver lining.  Will the elections mitigate societal unrest or facilitate essential, reasoned change? Likely not.

Conservatives win and the immediate unrest will probably grow. Democrats win and their internal factions will quickly split in search of greater gains. Either path brings increased unrest. We will likely have an unappetizing immediate outcome no matter what.

The vast majority of people living in this and other countries are being fed a meal they do not want.

The puzzle is this: How many more triggers and escalations will there be before enough is enough?

How bad does food have to be before it is returned?

Perhaps we only become passionate and active when the meal is in front of us, personally?

It will be a lot easier to send this swill back to the kitchens while restaurants remain open. So, cast a vote. Then hope a strong accepted majority halts the rot, stabilizes unwanted unrest and smooths any agreed and desired transitions.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

COVID Update:  Problems Pile On In California

Well, the last week alone has NOT been kind to CA. Before I dive into that laundry list of problems, let me offer some positive personal news…

I am headed out-of-State for a fishing tour through Alaska in the coming weeks, much anticipated as a break and adventure.

Oddly, on the very day we began making bookings Alaska installed a new policy for visitors. Basically, you must show up there with a 24-to-72 hr. old negative Covid Test result in-hand (or pending) at time of entry; tricky when real (non-emergency) tests currently take 2-4 weeks in CA. Ouch.

Solution is on-line ordering of personal Covid-testing Kits that allow Fed-Ex overnight sample deliveries and rapid, paid-for processing. Problem solved; we will be heading out and praying that when the test can be viewed on-line from our Anchorage Quarantine Haven, the result is NEGATIVE. Fingers crossed.

And so, what has happened just this last week in my corner of Northern CA…

  1. Alameda has installed an outdoor mask-mandate.
  2. Rolling blackouts are occurring across the State.
  3. Wildfires have broken out all around.
  4. WHO (World Health Organization) announced everyone should adjust to a permanent new COVID Norm.

And of course, there is the ongoing…

  1. All-you-can eat rioting, violence and social unrest flooding the daily news.
  2. Homeless issue expanding before my eyes.
  3. COVID Pandemic as our painful backdrop.

With the calamity of the warring political party Conventions in play a friend was quick to note that, “all we’re missing now is an earthquake.” Not the best quip to make in the face of karma when you live in California.

In my writings I generally ATTEMPT to make the points I make, neutral; trying to stick with relatively indisputable truths regardless of what egg may end up on which face.

I have little universal reverence for any single political party but accept that eventually we all must choose the least poisonous (overall) option and VOTE.

Voting is a privilege of being in a Democracy, for those who WANT to be; although apparently not everybody does, especially right now.

Since ancient Greek times Democracy is generally accepted to require an educated population. It is unclear what and who determines the standard of education; however, it currently appears to be measured and defined by age (18), the voting age. So be it.

Now the candidates are a different matter. And here I have something specific to say…

I would PREFER that the candidate who gets my vote meets some minimum requirement. I WANT that they and the prominent folks surrounding and advising them, meet my own (albe they) arbitrary standards.

Now, here is my dilemma. I like to see Honesty, Integrity and some level of Intelligence throughout these competing teams. I can lower the bar a little and recognize the realities of human frailty. I could lower the bar a LOT.

But regardless of the party for which I will vote, it is impossible for me sink so low I can find an acceptable candidate and surrounding team.

Oh, I WILL vote but I will NEVER accept those who get my vote are truly worthy. They are hardly a Socratic group, regardless who you support.

Perhaps this is universally true in politics, irrespective of the Country in which you cast your vote?

I HATE to accept the adage that people get the government they deserve. Surely humans deserve more and better? I hope I do.

We must expect leaders to be necessarily worldly and without naivety, but it is abundantly clear that Politics does not attract the brightest and best; too many candidates are motivated by lower aspirations.

But enough on this subject.

Let me briefly make some notes regarding the litany of CA burdens listed above…

Outdoor masks are now (newly) required in Alameda County. Not a happy relapse. I visit there for weekend sailing and noted that most residents were already strongly compliant before the restriction was installed. 

They are worn for walking and outdoor exercise; some remove them when nobody is close; many do not.

And they have their Mask Nazi’s, even pre-dating the new mandate. “No mask! No mask!” I have heard called out and people routinely shrink away from one-another on barely populated sidewalks.

Their fear drives paranoia, it controls and defines them.

The oppressive nature of that (Alameda) district is palpable. The unwelcoming feeling there is distinct from less restrained areas (like my hometown, Santa Cruz; outdoor masks not required).

Once a fervent following and fanatical belief takes grip, visitors and those less compliant feel the bite, they will be pushed.

Now Rolling Blackouts are occurring in CA, brought on by multiple warm days. The prompt Gubernatorial response announced that Energy Officials were caught unaware. Odd, given it was clear the rapid (~30%) energy shift to wind and solar power was KNOWN to be vulnerable to any more than just a couple of consecutive days of hot weather.

One official added that the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine how and when we’d like. I will bet there was not a single engineer directly involved in this development who did not know this shortfall was coming. Of course, the vilified gas energy sources are still used for the power-shortage bailouts.

If it is truly unclear to anyone:  In CA there will be many instances of numerous consecutive hot days next year, the year after and so on. Please take note. Sigh.

And then came the CA Wildfires. They are running largely unabated in every direction from here, except West into the Pacific Ocean. A National emergency was declared with >500 blazes surging in CA, alone.

Inevitably the above-ground electric grid is further compromised by the (often) lightening-induced wildfires; so, the situation with power-outages is exacerbated.

The air is foul and ashes drop frequently and heavily. Some days the air clears momentarily as the wind changes direction. But it is short relief; as the day wears on the wind shifts back, the sun yellows again, fading later to orange then crimson as it lowers in the sky to present an ironically scenic sunset.

Outdoor exercise is unwise and sometimes officially advised against; you can taste the air on your teeth and down into the lungs even when wearing a mask. About 45,000 of the (approx.) 300,000 population have been evacuated so far in Santa Cruz County.

Friends have been evacuated or warned removal is pending. Houses in the Hills are most vulnerable and at this point broadcasted containment levels are frighteningly low.

If you evacuate prematurely road closures and restrictions can make return difficult or impossible.

Last year the fires centered more heavily towards Southern California, this time there is more fuel still available up North. Many of the Western States are stricken, especially along the Pacific Coast.

And the Hills around here have plenty of fuel. Routine woodland and forest floor clearance work is not performed. Money from taxes is spent on more interesting projects even though essential forest management requirements have been defined for a hundred years.

Imagine if you lost YOUR home, YOUR friend or even an unknown firefighter unnecessarily to such wanton annual mismanagement. Well people do, each and every year in California.

I enjoy living in California. I have travelled extensively and have chosen to settle here, right now. But I see others are revisiting such choices.

Then next came the WHO Pronouncement a few days ago.

They advised the World to permanently adjust to a new norm featuring those changes already made for COVID. WHO knows what this fully means? 😊

The WHO’s actions and voice are now seemingly aligned to an obfuscated new agenda.

Should we expect an on-going cycle of new pandemics? This has been prophesized by virologists for many decades. Human history says it inevitable.

Most important is what was and is learned from COVID-19? How to mitigate and control what might be possible and affected. Apparently, nothing was learned (and “Nothing done”) of note during the 2009 H1N1 experiences and oddly, we are even currently arguing about where the current Pandemic originated; financially-driven interests sometimes now declare it to be a European Virus.

COVID-19 is a relatively highly infectious, but LOW mortality-rate virus. Despite the unacceptable number of deaths, as with the H1N1 debacle we have been LUCKY, again. What will happen if (when?) we have a Pandemic with high transmission rates AND high mortality? What if it were airborne? To believe we now have established any comprehensive level of preparedness is pure optimism; we are deluded.

As for the current National COVID Pandemic, my head is spinning from the on-again, off-again conditions of promised re-openings. Certainly, a lot of factions can dig in their heels to keep Schools and Universities closed even when many locals seem to disagree with the prevailing rulings and mandates. Home schooling has a whole new (on-line) meaning.

On a related point, I still do insist that of the 58 counties in California that were subject to closure and restrictions of various forms, MOST should never have been closed. The numbers say so. An umbrella approach to these controls and restrictions was and is completely unnecessary.

I recall that several months ago Butte and Sutter Counties told CA government that their people needed to earn a living and get to work, wanting little part of CA State COVID Plans. They have subsequently fared very well and remain EXTREMELY low in infection and total deaths. Santa Cruz County (somewhat larger, 300,000 population) has been kicked around by State restrictions on business and people yet has (infection and death) rates that look a little BETTER than even Sutter and Butte Counties.

You are 5X more likely to contract and die from a typical annual flu in Santa Cruz County than from COVID-19. It seems we had room to be WAY less aggressive with restrictions hereabouts. Not sure the local mitigation is as profound as CA health Dept. would have you believe. I AM sure a lot of local businesses have closed.

Currently in the US there seem to be MORE opening restrictions being laid down than there are moves towards re-opening. Europe is basically aggressively going quickly in the OPPOSITE direction. Why is that when there is a shared high-level consistency in the overall trends of numbers?

Social issues, Demonstrations, Riots and unrest are causing many to reconsider where they live. The State’s role in handling the Homeless, Annual Wildfire and Energy Supply problems are at best alarming and questionable.

I have friends and family who want out. People ARE leaving. Some have left already.

When I check the news there are similar concerns and migrations going on in New York, San Francisco and LA. It is hard to believe people in Seattle, Portland and Chicago with any get-up-and-go have not already got-up-and-gone.

Hollywood Celebrities are moving away, some seek alternate Citizenship and new Countries, many want to at least relocate their homes. Riot-damaged businesses everywhere slink away to less troubled grounds (when they still can) and mostly offer no honest commitment to rebuilding locally.

Wealthy residents can make choices and will make them when pressed. The masses just inherit the shells and husks left behind.

Many damaged lives and sites will see no short-term recovery.

But I live in a privileged place. Not all these plagues, blights, events, and mismanagements reach my home. Yet the burden of what goes on all around weighs on every shoulder, even when personal inconvenience is low.

It is exhausting. Nobody wants the weight.

Are you affected by these events? Are Wildfires, Power Supply, COVID, Homeless Issues or more inserting themselves into YOUR life?

Should you act to better protect your future? MUST you act now to mitigate imminent threat(s).

It is better we honestly and objectively assess what is immediately upon us and what lays on the horizon for ourselves and loved ones. If action is necessary, do not risk delay.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE: Anger, Frustration & Weariness Predominate

We are now in the era of Coronavirus SPIKES, inevitable consequences in some re-openings.

The media feasts on the calamity; sometimes with cause, but always opportunistically.

Most people I meet have simply had enough. Although most children quickly adapted unaware to new norms, adults simply accepted and soldiered on, mourning previous times and lifestyles, often forced to abandon longed-for social and travel plans.

Many seek out-of-town outings to mitigate the drudgery of restrictions. Some pick up stakes and make temporary, multi-week moves to less controlled areas where there is more solitude and less critical supervision.

For others, there are often regular daytrips, while many remain miserably stuck-in-time, sheltered-in-place.

There seems no ideal place to hide away, avoiding the impositions and controls. Domestic (US) sites are all subject to some level of social supervision and demands. International locations are mostly the same, many not wanting visits from outsiders. The EEC is aligning to resume travel with some 15 countries; US citizenry is so far specifically excluded.

There is a common theme, a repeated mantra spoken to address all issues, “Oh, it’s political. This wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t an election year.” Over and over the point appears.

But now it is not just Pandemic restrictions and requirements weighing on the soul, it is demonstrations, riots, deaths, killings, occupations, destruction, racial tensions, revisionism, crime-rate explosion, economic harms, national and international events and more.

Groups, Unions, Political Bodies, Celebrities and Organizations make demands for Funding, Defunding, Recognition, Support, Program Investment and all too often, FEALTY. Most factions appear headed for disappointment, to remain unsatiated and angry at days end.

With a laundry list of proven-questionable Town, City, County, State and Federal governance already on display across the country a truly mixed bag of results and on-going consequences can be expected.

There are countless domestic protagonists; many small tails demanding their right to wag a very big dog.

And all this is opportunistically driven by sides, fueled by callous sensationalistic media and those aggressively seeking personal gain by leveraging every single cut inflicted.

The citizenry suffers an unrelenting deluge. If you stay abreast of any news there is no escape nor respite. So, when do things normalize?

Its likely conflict will end when each faction receives what they must accept, or their position simply becomes untenable.

So, what will be the outcomes of these many issues? Hard to know exactly.

What is more certain is human nature. If you beat someone over the head with an issue long enough, they will submit or internally resist. Many of those that outwardly appear to appease or comply build resentment. When they can act invisibly (i.e. vote) you may not get the support you demand or expected.

And people do not like change.

As for the misery of the pandemic, it goes on. I hear (yet again) that the restrictions and impositions are political.   😉

I have been traveling: 3-4 weeks ago, to Northern California, locally around Santa Cruz and up to Alameda Counties and to North Dakota for 10 days over July 4th.

The travel itself tells a story. San Francisco, Denver airports are now far more deserted with few gates occupied and crowds only assimilating as boarding time approaches. Often there is nobody within 100yds as you proceed along vacant concourses towards your departure gate. Masks are required throughout the buildings and flights.

Passengers are shuffled aboard in controlled groups, then seated like masked mannequins inside the plane.

The only person I saw without a mask was a female Millennial strutting through Denver airport seemingly begging to be challenged and appearing loaded for bear. Nobody took the bait.

When I arrived in North Dakota there were a few greeters allowed behind security, and at the gate. This is unusual at any time. As travelers exited the companionways, they pulled off their masks, smiled, greeted any friends or relatives that had come and hurried off happily to Baggage Claim and Exits.

Time in North Dakota was filled with cheerful gatherings of relatives, meals out, fishing and spectacular firework displays celebrating July 4th. Social restrictions there are mostly limited to store workers wearing masks and cleaning trolleys for use by mostly unmasked customers. Nobody wears masks for indoor dining or walking outdoors.

Yet even there the media blitz wore on people. Many were tired and frustrated with confrontational news, national activities and political assertions.

Back in California the experience is quite mixed…

Local Santa Cruz County is more open. The last few weeks have seen visitors from Silicon Valley appear in slightly greater numbers. Restaurants have grabbed surrounding parking areas for seating, supplementing their restricted indoor space. Masks outdoors are uncommon.

The beaches are occupied; a little busier with mostly local people physically distanced and grateful to again be near the ocean. Outlawed fireworks were extensive along the beaches on July 4th; unprecedented and numerous displays, carefully policed from a distance I am told.

Shasta County up in Northern California was really opened-up when I visited 3-4 weeks ago for a few days fly fishing. The previous month I was also there and found depressed, take-out only activity in Mount Shasta town. But now the Hotels are booked and largely unmasked indoor dining has opened-up to smiling visitors escaping the Bay Area and points south.

A few local Shasta residents seem like they preferred the absence of travelers as the Summer wore on; shopkeepers, hoteliers and restauranteurs obviously feel very differently about their survival.

This weekend I was again back in Alameda County, CA. They always had more pandemic restrictions than where I live in Santa Cruz; even walkers and bike-riders wear masks outdoors. It seems their very recent opening (from about 2 weeks prior) for outdoor-only dining has been rescinded.

Last Friday CA State rolled-back restaurant outdoor eating in Alameda; they have returned to Take-Out only and continue their masks-everywhere culture. Foot traffic is diminished and the temporary sense of freedom has vanished with the reimposed restriction.

Everywhere I go it is obvious that public Happiness during this pandemic is inversely proportional to Control, Restrictions and the Weight of News.

In each location to which I travel I currently follow local conventions for social distancing, masking and dining. There’s little motivation to rock the boat when there are so many easily triggered and inherently upset individuals wandering around.

There are areas in San Francisco where extremely loud M-80 firework explosions are prevalent; these typically begin late afternoon and run till 3.00- 4.00am in the morning. The idea is to expose residents to the distress suffered by people who live in districts where gunfire occurs. These big bangs started a few weeks before July 4th and continue in many locations.

Residents can get no police attention to the matter. They say Police are unwilling or afraid to address the issue and face the possibly resulting consequences. Certainly, any veterans living in the area are likely suffering from the shock of the explosions.

I stayed a couple of nights in Alameda this last weekend. I believe the similar sporadic loud explosions (with no associated firework display) I could hear over the estuary in Oakland signal the same program is being deployed over a larger area, into the northern East Bay.

Its likely out-of-State firework sources will dry up shortly as July 4th supplies are eventually spent. Time will tell how committed and resourceful the protagonists remain.

Relatives in England are slowly emerging from quite severe pandemic restrictions. Where population density is high and public transportation is common (such as the UK), higher Coronavirus infections and death rates typically follow. Aging populations and underlying health complications make things that much worse.

I know too many people there that have been isolated (alone) in their sheltering, unable to visit with others and heavily restricted in their daily outdoor movements. Yet even as things ease, rules and conditions abound surrounding each newly re-instituted freedom. Only recently can even relatives visit one another and stay overnight.

Other parts of the world are newly falling into the abyss of COVID-19 infection. Numbers (as accurately as they are counted and reported) are spiraling in Brazil, South America, India and Russia with talk of a Second Pandemic Wave continuing ever-present.

And where I reside, I am perhaps particularly fortunate. People are outside and active. There are more happy faces than aggrieved; most seem to overcome the stress they unwittingly communicate and clearly feel.

We each must rise above the external influences that befall us; what other choice is there?  And it appears to be a challenge that many must embrace.

Do you have a plan to lighten your load? Is there a way you can find to ease the burden placed upon your back? Are you and your loved ones finding systematic ways to overcome the stress of this pandemic era and all that has accompanied?

Best to give it some thought; actively making your outlook a little brighter is an essential element in maintaining good health in trying times.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus: The On-going CA Shutdown Saga / Santa Cruz County

Things hereabouts have slowly begun to open but restrictions predominate outdoor life.

I was just turned away from my local Best Buy and their cavernous store which still does not permit customer entry, only a curbside pick-up service. There is no re-opening date on the horizon. I wonder about its utilization and future.

There are masks required for entry into every store or service facility. The local Lucky’s announces mask requirements for workers and customers over loudspeakers every few minutes as the solemn parade of clients with trolleys winds around then stalls into lines of marked-off check-out positions.

Some stores still enforce outdoor queuing to control and limit the number of customers allowed inside.

People speak less in stores. When their passage is blocked, they stand with eyes downcast till the obstructer nods and clears their way with mumbled apologies. There are occasional attempts at humor; seemingly fewer than before.

Local beaches are restricted some days and other times enforcement begins to slide. Officially there is no entry to beaches between 11.00 am and 5.00pm unless you are moving or headed into the water; our local curfew. Most days these postings are honored and occasionally monitored by stationed police; sometimes larger numbers of people just enter the beach in small, disaggregated groups and set up camps that nobody seems to question any more.

The surfers are still here and in increasing Summer numbers. World-class surfing, great waves and on-street parking. The Sheriff only occasionally checks for non-local participants.

The paid parking facilities are generally open in the local Capitola Village and Santa Cruz harbor. Other (free) public parking remains mostly cordoned off or has spacers inserted to ensure vehicles have greater separation.

Public restrooms have been opened in the last few weeks, though some are locked by 7.00pm or simply remain cordoned-off and shuttered together with their associated parking areas.

Two weeks ago (after desperate verbal pleas to council members), local Capitola Village restauranteurs had outdoor eating approved. As a result, many of the already sparse parking spots are temporarily re-assigned to provide additional (distanced, outdoor) seating to support the desperate restaurants.

Almost 70% of the surrounding Capitola shops had their doors open for business within 24 hours of permission being granted. One large waterfront restaurant had already permanently closed its doors by then: too little, too late. This served the warning to counselors.

The past week saw other local area restaurants open with managed and limited indoor seating; their outdoor seating is approved, too.  A big relief for failing restauranteurs.

Last weekend saw a small influx of fleeing Silicon Valley residents joining locals venturing into opened facilities around the Santa Cruz area. They occupied the beaches, ignoring the curfew and yellow police tapes covering the seawalls.

Starbucks customers still dutifully stand on marked spots to retrieve their orders then scatter like hunted masked bandits back to their vehicles to picnic or depart. We can now enter and order rather than just line up outside for mobile-app pickups. Indoor seating remains stacked and pushed-aside like cordwood, but at least the free Wi-Fi usually reaches the parking lots.

Most people sport fancy custom masks that pull their ears into Shrek-like forms. Face coverings have become a personal statement.

Getting a haircut has just been authorized, but only by appointment. Police stop by and monitor masking and distancing behaviors in the small salons and shops.

I hear that Workout and Physical Therapy facilities are soon to acquire restricted access.

The local Hospital pandemic preparedness facilities hereabouts were dismantled weeks ago; they had gone from low to essentially no utilization.

Several folks have mentioned they were pushed away from regular medical facilities in prior weeks and so resorted to DIY medical treatments or calls with Doctors they found available to address their concerns.

People from more populace areas visiting other parts of the State are often shocked by the absence of masks being worn outdoors, the more casual demeanor of locals and the occasional complete lack of mask usage in small stores.

Then there are the TYPES of people you encounter in these times. Generally, it is those who

  • Obediently follow the rules
  • Comply where they must but clearly have no committed interest (for whatever their reason)
  • Fearfully flee situations and people who are out of compliance
  • Openly (and sometimes vocally) defy social pandemic rules
  • Inflict their demands for compliance upon others

And this last group causes me to provide a little data to look more closely at the California situation.

Yesterday I was copied on a Facebook rant that aggressively attacked all those who do not religiously conform to current Pandemic Protocols.

I have known the author (a self-described, Progressive) for years and am copied on daily thoughts via a Link which seems hard to break without losing other access I enjoy. But this missive caused me to look at the claims and underlying realities of what is still occurring in California. So, let the data tell the story…

AS BACKGROUND: The basic assertion is that people need to realize that >4,600 deaths tied to the pandemic have now occurred in California and that anyone claiming their rights are being violated and refusing to comply with social restrictions on masking and spacing is totally out of line. These people are socially irresponsible and should be justifiably vilified and publicly excoriated. Tough words.

For myself, I am easily able to be somewhat neutral in my behavior. I respectfully wear a mask when expected and maintain social distancing. As I have no workplace to visit or business to protect, my current lifestyle of writing, outdoor pursuits and binge-watching Crime Mystery and Astronomy series in a (now) quieter and scenic life-style community remains relatively unaffected; even though shopping and restaurant constraints are inconvenient.

HOWEVER, I am becoming concerned that things in California may have been knowingly carried too far for the majority, given the factual data that exist and that serious damage has already been needlessly caused to working citizens trying to support themselves and families.

I should explain.

Let me begin by saying any single life lost to this Pandemic is a needless tragedy. It brings misery to all involved. Enough said.

Yet people die every day. They expire because of age, sickness and commonly circulating diseases and contagions. Everyone will die and many will pass earlier than ultimately necessary.

There are many causes of death we have blindly come to consider as normal. Medical progress has all but eliminated some, but many, many more persist and have largely become accepted (i.e. cancers, heart disease, diabetes, etc. etc.)

Influenza is systemic in most cultures. It kills people worldwide on a seasonal basis even though we have a moderate level of prevention through vaccines and known protocols for care of the afflicted. Folks still dying from influenza or its complications is culturally accepted and an unspoken norm.

Over the last nine years in the USA an average of 37.5 K deaths/year have resulted from the flu. Flu seasons have ranged from 12 K-61 K deaths/year in this timeframe and the total current national population is 330 million.

This means that California’s share of fatalities is around 4.5 K deaths/year for their 40 million population; the AVERAGE number of deaths Californians might expect in a single flu season.

There have been ~4.7 K Covid-19 deaths in CA to-date. Fortunately, overall growth-rate in this number is currently declining quickly.

Most Covid-19 deaths have been in just 3 (LA, San Diego and Riverside) of the 58 CA Counties. If we separate out the 3.4 K actual deaths in these 3 Counties, it remains that 1.3 K fatalities occurred in the other 55 Counties, populated by about 25 Million Californians.

The 3 populous (LA, San Diego and Riverside) Counties have experienced a death rate almost DOUBLE an AVERAGE flu season, while the other 55 Counties combined are at a level less than HALF an AVERAGE flu season. And fortunately, because of the pandemic precautions there has not been much influenza around this season.

The mitigation precautions CA took with extremely early closure most likely contributed to these generally overall favorable (if there can be such a thing) results.

The patterns for likely probable Infection and Death Rates and the numbers expected as ultimate outcomes, were well defined and already visible by the end of March. Basically, we knew a while ago where we were headed from BOTH our own numbers and insights shared by numerous other regions and countries.

But California is still currently heavily closed down. People are NOT all back in work and we are slow-marching a recovery.

If we are passed the worst and we would not normally close the economy for an AVERAGE flu season, then why have we proceeded some 10 weeks beyond a seemingly obvious opportunity to re-engage the economy?

Who would think this is justified and why would they persist? Why would they not expect to be challenged?

The average person is not an epidemiologist, but most can interpret simple data and facts. Trends and graphs are easy to read and should not be unnecessarily complicated by handwaving that tries to invalidate or obscure obvious conclusions.

So why do so many people just do what they are told, standing in lines wearing masks and perched upon the designated red spots? Being a good citizen is one thing but following blindly is another. We have certainly passed the point where blind adherence is appropriate.

It would appear MANY of the 55 Counties (mentioned above) should NEVER have been closed. Especially if they are remote, lightly populated or saw very low infection rates. The State umbrellaed everyone and treated everything with the same broad brush. It was apparent LONG ago this was unnecessary, yet the restrictions largely remain universally and uniformly imposed (CA) Statewide.

A couple of remote Northern CA Counties and towns removed oppressive restrictions and fully opened-up, early. They simply stated their citizens needed to make a living and the constraints were inappropriate. Data indicates their position is far from unique.

I have seen first-hand the havoc wreaked upon smaller communities in the Northern parts of the State. Hotels have little trade; restaurants were closed long-term or only offer take-out. For many the Summer season is likely already irretrievable.

And hereabouts many businesses have already or will soon fail.

People will not universally flock back to normal past behaviors when things are fully re-opened. Most people seem cowed and nervous about personal re-engagement.

There will be generalized business recovery as folks return to more industrial (white and blue collar), larger-company jobs. It is essential people return to work and retain their jobs, provide food and pay bills.

But Service Industries and Small Businesses will be particularly vulnerable to lost revenues driven by the general population’s decline in savings, disposable income and sticky health concerns. Their corporate customers will be tightening their belts in recovery, too.

Also, Social Changes will persist.

Doctor visits will continue to be made reluctantly at first.

We know reports of child abuse have already cratered suspiciously during pandemic precautions.

And even AA meetings remain currently outlawed while Rehab facilities around the nation are already heavily booked. This cannot possibly end well.

Perhaps six months from now most people will have returned to their old habits. But until then many small businesses will struggle to establish essential working and survivable revenue levels. Many will continue to fail; their continuing to remain unnecessarily restrained and controlled NOW will only exacerbate the harm.

So much for the update and look at California State practices and decisions. The West Coast is always a little different.

Today I read a credible article from Texas talking of increased infection rates following their very early May 2020 re-opening; the hope is that this current spiking resulted from people quickly becoming too casual with their social distancing practices following early successes. Time will tell.

Have you checked the numbers in your neighborhood? Do the local restrictions match what you see in the data?

It is worth taking a few minutes to understand these numbers and the resulting decisions being made on your behalf.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.