et-tu, corona?!?

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I decided that I’m going to document my experiences with this Covid-19 pandemic here on the blog.

I’ve started screen capping the John’s Hopkins page so I can compare numbers from day to day. It’s quite informative.

As I think back, I’ve been following Coronavirus/Covid-19 since December at least, because my brother works for a Chinese furniture company and travels to Asia six to eight times a year. He’s based in North Carolina. “Is coronavirus affecting your travel schedule?” I asked him a few times over the holidays. “No. Not right now.”

Chinese Tariffs forced his company to pull a lot of their production out of China into Vietnam over the past year. So he wasn’t scheduled to fly anywhere near ground zero.

On Friday, his Chinese leadership forced strict standards on their NC and Canadian offices. Stricter than anything I’d heard of so far at the time. His leadership is using the internal information from Wuhan’s containment procedures to inform their business practices here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching our business dates drop off our schedule. We are primarily interiors and architecture photographers. We just saw a big job on Tuesday postpone indefinitely. Another job is still on for the time being. As soon as we finish what’s on our docket we will be driving down to North Carolina hoping the weather and less density of population might be advantageous.

We live in Chicago, but own a house in NC that we Airbnb. Every booking we had has cancelled because the events the guests were planning have been cancelled. We’re small business owners with no major income scheduled in any foreseeable future. I can’t imagine what so many others are going through. Fortunately, we have a bit of a buffer that we can live on. So many do not.

My brother-in-law is a 50 year old, house music DJ. For as long as I’ve known him, his main source of income is a Sunday night show at one of Chicago’s largest house music venues. On Sunday, our governor and mayor shut down bars and restaurant gatherings for the next two weeks. So if he can’t work to pay rent … he’s screwed. His business is a record store that he takes no income from.

Like all of you, we’re reading and hearing rumors. Palmer House Chicago is operating at a measly 5% capacity. We just heard a rumor that Illinois might close schools for the remainder of the school year.

Apart from my brother and his family, our NC friends and family are much more skeptical than in Chicago. My brother reported that some church parking lots were packed yesterday (Sunday, March 15) as well as a fun house, trampoline place for kids. He was shocked.

The Ides of March never had such a dismal meaning since Mr. Ceasar was attacked.

Et-tu, Corona?

I’m having trouble concentrating on the work we do have. We watched movies and read all weekend. Maybe had a few too many beers!

I have a ton of library books on my iPad. If you don’t borrow books digitally, this might be a GREAT time to start. I hear that some states are experiencing their local libraries are closing.

I also wanted to keep in mind that it wasjust two weeks ago (!!!) that Trump was calling this a “hoax”.

Now he’s on board, daily briefings, and in charge of shutting the whole country down.

I spoke with one person who claimed Trump jumped on this so fast. That’s not what the facts show.



December/January/February Media Diet

Photo by Brenda Ann Kenneally (see more here)

I don’t have time to write about each thing listed below. But I like how other bloggers keep track of their media diets, so I am trying to do it, too. Some links may take you away from this page. Sorry if that happens. Control + Click to avoid it. Come back! (if that happens).

I’m finding that it’s incredibly impossible to keep track of everything. And I know this is three months of notes, but hopefully I won’t rack up as many for March.


Sword and Scale Podcast

There are hundreds of episodes. Tina and I listened to a few on our recent drive from NC to Chicago. Two episodes (numbers 5 and 6) discuss a conspiracy theory far more crazy than Pizzagate about a politician named Larry King (not that Larry King) who ran a little boys sex cult and sex ring, trafficking them for high dollar, mega rich VIPs, including President George HW Bush … I can’t personally find any info to back up the episodes’ claims. But it was fun to listen to. Jaw was on the floor for minutes at a time. (3 out of 5)

The Mysterious Mr. Epstein (4.5 out of 5)

Live and Die in LA  (4 out of 5)

Broken Harts (2.5 out of 5)

Over my Dead Body Seasons 1 and 2 (3.75 out of 5)

Root of Evil  (Holy shit out of 5)


Think Like a Freak by  Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
My expectations of this book were more or less that I would learn how to be more freakishly artistic. But maybe thinking outside the box is much more based on a meticulous plan and incredible research. Not being cocksure about anything is one of the biggest lessons of the book. It also contradicts Scott Adams’ premise below in “Loserthink”. (3 out of 5) 

Dr. Sleep | Stephen King
Danny Torrance grows up, becomes an adult and brings his powers with him. Lots of supernatural, magical fun. New characters … fun read. (4 out of 5)

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America by Scott Adams 

Scott Adams draws Dilbert, of which I’ve never been a fan. Corporate America nauseated me. Working for the man, all I wanted to do was get out. He claims to be smarter and wants to teach all you idiots how to be smart, too. So he burns down anyone who accepts climate change in the first few pages, because — you know — too many scientists back it, and — you know — there’s money to be bankrolled in it.

“On the whole, people prefer confident people,” says Adams.

Also, Trump. And other highfaluting ideas that all you delusional disbelievers in 45 are loserthinkers. (1 out of 5) 

The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth Behind Alternative Christianities by Darrell L. Bock

This book was written with the intent that if you’re interested in the extra-canonical biblical books … look no further. And Bock means it! LOOK no further. Let him tell you what all those other nasty, lying, secular writers are all wrong about. Elaine Pagels is a lunatic and Bart Ehrman is possessed by the devil. (1.5 out of 5)

Killing Jesus | Bill O’Reilly
In the first pages, O’Reilly claims he’s going to challenge the reader with ideas and facts they’ve never heard before. He’s going come at it with utmost integrity and scholarship, only to go into mythological stories about Jesus’s life. It’s about as scholarly as a coloring book on Dora the Explorer. (1 out of 5)

In the Garden of the Beasts Eric Larsen
Interesting read about the US Ambassador William Dodd during his service in Germany at the rise of Nazism. Fantastic read and dangerously scary how similar the language of their times are when discussing the Nazi’s and their agenda and current events involving borders here in the US and in Europe. (4.25 out of 5)

The Rational Bible: Exodus by Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager, a so-called Jew whose primary audience are evangelical Christians, takes us through the second book of the Old Testament with commentary and explanation. He bangs out tired old arguments against atheists, claims he has had tons of debates with them, and then lies to us about what he thinks they think … and not what they’ve actually said. Because, you know, you either believe in hope of God or that everything came from nothing and therefore hopelessness! You can ONLY have one or the other. Yawn. (-1 out of 5). 


Where’d You Go, Bernadette 
Former genius architect Bernadette Fox seems to have it all — a beautiful home in Seattle, a successful and loving husband, and a brilliant teenage daughter who’s about to attend boarding school. When Bernadette suddenly disappears without a trace, her concerned family sets off on an exciting adventure to solve the mystery of where she might have gone. (3.75 out of 5)

Cabin in the Woods (second viewing)
What happens if you cross contaminate The Truman Show with a major cross section of a zillion horror movies from the last few decades? Well, it’s Cabin in the Woods. And it’s a pretty fun, twisty, turn-y ride. Jump on! (4.125 out of 5)

Delicatessen movie Jean-Pierre Jeunet
A magical little post-apocalyptic story set in France, in a building inhabited by scaredy cats, especially of its landlord, who is a butcher serving up tenants as meat is needed. (4 out of 5)

Dr. Sleep movie \ Movie very distant than the book … (2.5 out of 5 because it was entertaining enough, but didn’t Kubrick disappoint King enough with his version of the Shining?)

Parasite  movie I might be the only person who wasn’t blown away by this movie. (3 out of 5) I’m sure someone would be mad I called it average. Especially after it won so many goddamn awards. 


Dirty John  (an entertaining 3.75 out of 5)

Killing Eve (season 2) Season 1 is so worth your time. Season 2 if you just want to hang out with Villanelle for a while.

Modern Love  (3.75 out of 5)

Jack Ryan Season 2 Enjoyed season 2 much more than 1. I couldn’t finish season 1, because there were too many contrived moments.

Unbelievable (4 out of 5)

Anima  (5 out of 5)

Michelle Wolf — Joke Show

Billy on the Street (a funny way to spend 20 minutes of your time)

The Politician (3.75 out of 5)

Russian Doll (4.85 out of 5) – easily one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in a LONG time.

Goliath(4 out of 5) enjoyed the third season, and the first). 

The Americans (4.75 out of 5) bingeworthy TV.

Interesting Articles 

This genre of media is my least documented, as there’s just too much readable media out there to properly document. But I may start trying harder.

Today I Learned That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue And It Has Ruined My Day.

Why Bill Barr Is So Dangerous

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

A Portrait of Love and Struggle in Post-Industrial, Small-City America (5 out of 5) Photo at the top of page is from Brenda Ann Kenneally. She has inspired me.

The Can Opener bridge of Durham North Carolina

This fun, short documentary features Jurgen Henn and how he’s recorded trucks ramming into a bridge in North Carolina, despite many efforts to prevent the crashes.

Henn records the crashes and puts them on Youtube for all to see.

Recently plans to finally raise the bridge eight inches has been secured. So I guess Jurgen is out of a job …





We bought a house in NC, Part Deux!

A few of you watched the first episode of our journey buying an investment property in North Carolina. Here’s part two.

In it, we wrap up our renovations. We hired a contractor to redo both bathrooms and the kitchen, as well as paint throughout.

In my journal from the experience, I wrote about how my parents had become our best friends. We saw them more regularly than any of my friends or my brother or his family. My dad came over often to help with different bigger ticket jobs that I couldn’t possibly do myself. My mom hemmed our curtains and hung wall paper. It was a huge group effort.

The house has been renting on the social media home sharing sites. We’ve had five or more bookings so far and have it booked through Christmas off and on.

It’s a challenge being this far away from the house. But so far it’s been great and seemingly rewarding of an effort.

Enjoy part two. And if you want to skip to before and afters around 6:20.

a mind-blowing tweet


In this tweet, Jeremiah Red writes:

“If you worked every single day, making $5000/day, from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you are reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire, and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. No one works for a billion dollars.”

Of course I had to do that math. You can google, “how many days has it been since Columbus sailed to America” and get this date: October 12, 1492. Then you can google, “how many days since October 12, 1492.” That’s 192,489.

192,489 x $5000 = $962,445,000.

On top of that, I just saw this: “[Bill] Gates added $16 billion to his net worth this year, despite giving away over $35 billion to charity, according to Bloomberg.”

I do not know any billionaires personally. But imagine. A regular Joe or Jane who has expenses, mortgage, car payments, medical bills, etc. could make $5000-$8000 a month if they are fortunate. There are certainly people who rake in $8000-$15000 per month. And more. But if Joe or Jane made $5000 + expenses per day for 192,000+ days, he or she would still not have as much money as the people on these lists of billionaires.

Billionaires include Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, the Kochs, the owners of Walmart, the owners of Chick-fil-a, the owners of Hobby Lobby, etc etc etc.

According to the internets, America has approximately 43 million people living in poverty and approximately 100 million living near poverty. I don’t place any of the people on the billionaires list as somehow more special, more talented, more ambitious than any of the million nameless people struggling to put food on the table, maintain a car, keep a job, love their children and partners, let alone struggle with their addictions or hopes to succeed or just keep on track with a calm, drama free life.

I don’t understand why we all want to live in a world where some people’s wealth far exceeds anything most people can’t fathom. The point is lost on me.

I wish everyone were as fortunate as I was growing up, to win a life lottery, to have a great family raise me, and to have a lucrative path of an amazing life, to have freedom and goodness. To share it with others. To be some lucky, and yet not remotely close to the level of financial security as those who have generated more wealth than is humanly possible to deplete.

I’m just not sure why the case for grace is so limited. Whose right is it to say the list of billionaires is more important financially than the poor? Who worked harder? Who worked longer? Who had a leg up? Who was at the right place at the right time? The lightning strikes so infrequently and so fast, and who’s there to catch it?