The Diary of a Reluctant Social Distance Extrovert Prisoner: Part XLV
450 days of distancing with the end in sight, almost.
Steve Soreff, MD•
Start Date:Issue Date:
Hello and welcome to Friday, June 4, 2021. Today marks my 450th day, the end of my 68th week, the beginning of my 16th month and toward the middle of my 2nd year of social and physical distancing. As the colors of 450 show, these are mixed days of progress, concerns, and set-backs. My family, friends and I are making sorties into previous taboo places and attending events which we would have refused to go to in the past. Some of our friends have dined inside restaurants. Our group resumed playing Mexican Train in person. But and there is that but again, many folks are vaccine hesitant, in some countries COVID is surging, and the ugly specter of new and more damaging variants hangs in the air. With two steps forward and one step backwards, I moved into the summer. I hope to see grandchildren again and my daughter is coming on a visit from Israel.
With that, let us look back on the last two weeks.
Good morning, it is Saturday, May 22, 2021 and my 45th Diary. The sun is out, with needed rain possible in the afternoon. Perhaps, it will interrupt my golf attempt. Yes, I am still a want-to-be-good golfer. The best news is that rockets from Gaza have halted. There is a truce and my daughter can sleep safely now through the night. My day begins through the lens of Zoom when I will travel to a Bat Mitzvah in Belmont, Massachusetts. It is always interesting and good to see how other synagogues conduct their services. I always learn new ways and idea from that experience. Afterwards, golfing did take place and was an adventure playing in the 85 degree heat. I needed more hydration and better aiming. Too many sand traps interfered with some good long drives. Oh well, I’ll do better next time.
Hello and welcome to Sunday, May 23, 2021. I started off with NPR’s Krista Tippett’ s program On Being with Jill Tarter on "It Takes a Cosmos to Make a Human." Astronomer Jill Tarter, a co-founder of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute , made a number of compelling, relevant points. She talked about extremophiles which are life forms surviving and thriving in harsh, seemingly inhospitable environments. They exist here on earth and she is looking for them on other planets. She said if life technically existed beyond earth, this would indicate that other civilizations survived. She referred to all of us earthlings. By using this designation of earthling, it would indicate we all occupy the same planet. That is really a cool idea to think that all of us on earth are parts of just one group! That notion is related to my idea of every letter mailed in every nation should have the final address EARTH. Hence, for me 32 Dolloff Dam Road, Nottingham, NH 0320, USA, EARTH. By including EARTH it would emphasize our commonality. And, all earthlings do face a global challenge, climate change. Her ideas were a great way to start the day.
Did you know that this week marks Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday? As a product of the 1960’s and loving the Coffeehouses around Harvard Square, I consider Bob Dylan to be one of the best artists of that generation and the folk music tradition. His song, The Times They Are A-Changin' are applicable to all times. Also, my synagogue’s book club will hold its next meeting in June in person outdoors. Yet, another indication the COVID distancing times are changing.
Good morning, it is Monday, May 24, 2021, a new week and a new term. What’s the new term? It's that we are in a time of transition. Yes, with vaccinations up, movie theaters are open again. The distancing world is changing. There is hope and anxiety. I became more hopeful as I watered the garden. Seeing things grow, watching the perennial flowers blossom, and feeling the wind, inspired me. There is a future.
The rose said, "Smile, I’m here.”
Good morning, it is Tuesday, May 25, 2021 and I started the by exercising and watching Gandhi's Awakening & Gandhi's Gift: Gandhi's Awakening. It "tells the fascinating story of Gandhi's early transformative years in South Africa. It is here the young, naive lawyer experiences harsh prejudice and hatred firsthand, when he is thrown off a train and beaten with a lead pipe. During the Zulu War of 1906, serving as an ambulance stretcher carrier in the British service, he comes face-to-face with the brutality of war, and undergoes a spiritual epiphany that sets a course for the rest of his life. The film offers a deep, discerning look into Gandhi's spiritual ideals as he practices and teaches them in his first revolutionary ashrams. "Gandhi's Awakening" shows when, where and how Gandhi became the Mahatma or "Great Soul.""Gandhi's Gift" reveals inspiring details about Gandhi’s life that were known before only to scholars.” I found his life inspiring and he definitely walked the talk. He believed and practiced non-violence, the quest for truth, simplicity, and poverty. He lived the slogan "be the change you want to see.” I was glad to see how much Thoreau ideas influenced him.
I am connecting the dots of Gandhi, Memorial Day events, marches and White House meeting mark one year since George Floyd's death. Gandhi lived a life of non-violence and truth. With Floyd’s murder, the nation and the world generally said non-violently, that Black Lives Matter. His murder did change the world. All races united. The world will never be the same again.
Hello, it is summer-hot today, Wednesday, May 26, 2021. I am in the slow process of moving beyond social and physical distancing to venturing into new activities. I still wear a mask in places that have lifted the mask mandate. I kayaked before the thunder storm. It was good but we need more rain.
Here it is. It is Thursday, May 27, 2021. Remember the old one liner, "I saw the ball coming toward me; it got bigger and bigger. Then it hit me!” I have struggled to understand and define this new phase of COVID. That is the post vaccination world and its confusing mask wearing messages. We have entered into a time of anomie. Wow, what is that? It comes from the work of the great sociologist, Emile Dukrheim. He made the observation that in times of unemployment, suicide rates increased. This is predictable. He, also saw in times of high employment, suicide rates likewise increased. He coined the word anomie to depict a moment when social standards are breaking down. Here is the definition of anomie:
"Anomie, also spelled anomy, in societies or individuals, a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals.” In the beginnings of the pandemic the rules of distancing were clear and direct. My family and I followed them. The guidelines get less clear every day.
Good morning, it is Friday, May 28, 2021. I still think today in terms of TGIF. And to further complicate it , there are two ways to look at TGIF: "Thank God It's Friday" or the alternative phrase, "Thank Goodness It's Friday”. However, since the Jewish Shabbat begins tonight, I prefer the first definition. As I look at the pandemic, there are a number of hidden areas that have been impacted. The example, opioid overdoses and deaths have increased. A related and contributing factor has been the mental toll of isolation and unemployment. Another less known fact is that some people, who because of the pandemic, have delayed getting diagnoses or treatment for very serious conditions, and cancers. Perhaps, these will be labelled the collateral damage of COVID-19. That is much to ponder.
Welcome to a rainy Memorial day weekday. Saturday, May 29, 2021. It is also my 14th observance of National Cribbage. And, my computer rival just won 2 games. I’ll get him later or tomorrow. Today was noteworthy in several ways. We went to comfort a friend before her husband’s funeral. Yes, people are dying not just from COVID these days. For better or for worse, funerals are the times to reconnect with old friends. And, we did that just that. Being out in public, I did notice that all the jokes about weight gain during the isolation appeared to be true. We visited several box stores. Their parking lots and insides were full. It looked like Christmas. Most shoppers wore masks but many did not. Most employees wore masks but many did not. To me, this was more evidence of anomie.
We went to Lowe’s which was the high point of commercial wanderings. Its policy on masks (yes, I did ask them) was if you had 2 shots and 2 weeks, you did not have to wear a mask. We did wear masks, but again many shoppers did not. We continue to navigate uncharted vaccinated waters. Remember, it is Memorial Day weekend. Well, it has been said we are commercializing holidays. It was clear on all the car ads that that was true of this Memorial Day. But this year there was a twist. At least at Lowe’s, the commercial establishment honored the war dead more than the public and many communities did.
Lowe’s Memorial Day display at the Epping, NH store
Good morning, it is cool with rain threatening, Memorial Day Sunday, May 30, 2021. It is a catch-up day and I relish the opportunity. Sorry, I cannot resist a pun which is good for Heinz sight. Two things are on my mind. Number one is the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. "During the Tulsa Race Massacre, which occurred over 18 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1921, a white mob attacked residents, homes and businesses in the predominantly Black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2001, the report of the Race Riot Commission concluded that between 100 and 300 people were killed and more than 8,000 people made homeless over those 18 hours in 1921. Yet another example of American history too often ignored.
Number two comes from exercising and watching NOVA’s Great Electric Airplane Race. It not only showed the huge contribution from aviation to accelerating climate change but also the impact and role of electric planes. It talked about three aviation revolutions: 1) powered flight, 2) jets, and 3) electric planes.
Welcome to a cool, wet, but hopeful Monday, May 31, 2021. More vaccinations, more lifting of restrictions here in New Hampshire and America, more surging around the world, and more variants. Welcome to the mixed news of the world today. Before Tai Chi, our gang hiked around the Little River Park and got to see and smell the roses. We saw blooming trees, heard singing birds, and saw a fox trotting. On the walk, we came across an oak tree with what looked like an apple hanging on it. One of the group members identified it as an oak gall. Oak galls are produced by insects, often wasps, laying eggs in the tree. Here is the explanation. "Over 30 species of parasitic Oak Gall Wasps can infect our native oak trees (both English and Sessile). These wasps lay their eggs in various parts of the tree and the tree responds by producing abnormal growth around the egg and developing larvae which is the gall…Both these galls (and other galls) have a high tannin (gallotannin and gallic acid) content and it is this feature which has led to their use in the manufacture of ink…. Its use can be traced back at least to Roman times and was used right up until the 20th century. Documents such as the Magna Carta and the American Declaration of Independence were written with oak gall ink”. That is so cool. And, yes, I love learning new things everyday.
An oak gall
On the radio, I heard it was the 50th anniversary of Malvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. The lyrics are as relevant today as then. "Mother, mother, There's too many of you crying, Brother, brother, brother, There's far too many of you dying ...Picket lines and picket signs, Don't punish me with brutality, Talk to me, So you can see, What's going on, Yeah, what's going on, Tell me what's going on, I'll tell you what's going on – Uh, Right on baby, Right on baby."
I concluded my day by doing garden work. Planting something was a nice way to celebrate Memorial Day. And, I called my college roommate’s widow. Her husband, Jon Hayes was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War and died last year. These were my Memorial Day observances.
Hello, it is Tuesday which feels like Monday, June 1, 2021. Since this is June 1st, the theme remains, I am distancing but cautiously doing less of it. I put wood chip mulch on a garden path. Like mowing, this project has a beginning, middle and an end. I could see progress with each bucket of mulch laid down. Does that mean those buckets filled could be part of my bucket list? Go figure. The President and the nation acknowledged the Tulsa massacre. The message of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter is being heard. My friends are taking small steps beyond their bubble. Some are actually dining inside restaurants. This is a new form for seniors to say, "I dare you!”
Hello, it is Wednesday, June 2, 2021 and it is a day of renewal. For several weeks I have been plagued by a series of unexpected and terrifying moments of vertigo. The room is spinning. I am off balance and feel like I am falling. Finally, my denial was breached and I made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician. I feared a brain tumor. He saw me in no time. He performed a head maneuver on me, which triggered the vertigo. This confirmed the diagnosis of Benign Positional Vertigo. I was greatly relieved to have a diagnosis and that it's treatable Also, score one for the electronic medical record. With several strokes on the computer’s key board, my physician found that he had treated me for the same condition in 2008.
In addition, there's an old adage, "never go to a doctor whose office plants have died." His office has a neat twist on that message but in the opposite direction. At the entrance to his office was a robin’s bird nest on top of a light fixture. In it were 3 hungry chicks. I managed to catch a moment when the babies were being feed. Forgive, the blurry photograph. Focus on the nurturing quality of the birds and the doctor’s office. The bottom line: Having a respondsive doctor and a non-fatal diagnosis and treatment plan is quite comforting.
Feeding time at the entrance to my doctor’s office
Good day, it is Thursday, June 3, 2021 and it is one more step beyond COVID-19 isolation. Nottingham School again had its 3rd grade annual and traditional tour of some of the town’s historic sites, a farm and one-room schools. Last year, because of COVID, this event was not held. So, it was with great pleasure for teachers, third graders, their parents and the Nottingham Historical Society that the students got visit a dairy farm, a graveyard, Nottingham Square, the four generals’ monument, two school houses, and that they got to play outside on a glorious day. It was refreshing to see all those involved, engaged and learning, along with their parents. In colonial attire, I told them about the town’s famous march to Medford -- about the Battles of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775. Again, respecting that we are still in a pandemic, most of the activities were done outdoors. Yes, it was yet another step forward.
The sign at Nottingham Square where the 3nd gradersspent the morning.
With that, let’s laugh.
Did You Know?
"Decoration Day" - the precursor to Memorial Day - was first organized by the Grand Army of the Republic in 1868. The date chosen was May 26 because no Civil War battle occurred on that date.
When the U.S. Post Office formally instituted the zip code on July 1, 1963, it used a great ad. "ZIP moves the mail and mail moves the country”. Do you remember it? And while we are zipping along, the term ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan.
At the end of their first trip to Kitty Hawk, NC, the Wright brothers left their glider behind. The postmaster’s wife used the sateen covering the wings to make dresses for her daughters.
The hobble skirt, fashionable in the early 20th century, is said to have been inspired by Edith Berg, the first woman to fly in an airplane at Le Mans, France in 1908. She tied a rope around the bottom of her skirt for the flight in order to prevent it from blowing during the flight. Although it is interesting, I was left wondering what is a hobble shirt? Here is the answer. During the first decade of the 1900s, just as women began demanding more freedom, more rights, and more comfortable fashions, one of the most restrictive styles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries came into vogue. This was the hobble skirt, a tight, ankle-length skirt that grew narrower at the hem. Popular between 1905 and 1910, the hobble skirt was so tight at the ankles that the woman wearing it could only walk in very short steps.
How many golfers does it take to change a lightbulb? Fore!
What did the grape say when it got crushed? Nothing, it just let out a little wine.
What do you call people who like tractors? Protractors
Why do plants hate math? Because it gives them square roots.
Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because the chicken wasn’t born yet.
How does a cucumber become a pickle? It goes through a jarring experience.
Two pickles fell out of a jar onto the floor. What did one say to the other? Dill with it.
What do you call two birds in love? Tweethearts
A classic old one. How are false teeth like stars? They come out at night.
Why hasn’t anyone in Antarctica contracted COVID-19?
It's because they’re so ice-o-lated.
If Covid 19 has forced you or a loved one to wear a mask with your glasses, You may be entitled to condensation.
I can't believe Comic Con 2020 got cancelled because of COVID-19! It was the one group of people who were 100% guaranteed to wear masks.
What will Quentin Tarantino be called if he gets COVID-19? Quarantino'd.
Never in my life would I imagine that my hands would someday consume more alcohol than my mouth.
Maureen Mann JUN 04, 2021 • Hope you are compiling all these into a book Steve. Will make a great record for someone too young to have lived through it.