3.22.2020 – opportunity

do something not do nothing
make a difference

My wife and I tried to make Saturday as normal as possible.

I was feeling blue as we had tickets to the Atlanta Symphony concert for that night but it had been postponed.

The tickets were a Christmas gift from my wife.

It would have been our first time of going out on the town in downtown ATL in a long long time.

Something that was incredibly thoughtful of my wife.

Something I had been looking forward too since Christmas.

I don’t think I have to say that the concert has been ‘postponed.’

We went for a walk in one of favorite parks.

We stopped at our favorite local coffee shop.

I ordered my favorite cup of coffee, the Ho-Chi-Minh-City, a Vietnamese drink of expresso, sweetened condensed milk and steamed milk.

My wife asked about the Pumpkin Spice Latte listed as a special and the kid behind the counter said, “It is very good. I came up with the recipe.”

While we were waiting the phone rang and we listened in to one side of the conversation that went like this.

“Yes, we are open.”

“Yes, our menu is available.”

“No, sorry, no eating in, the dining area is closed.”

“Sorry, Ma’am, but there isn’t a restaurant that is open for dining in Suwanee.”

He hung up and looked at us and we shook our heads and laughed.

Then another couple came in, new to Cafe Amica.

The kid asked if they wanted to order and they asked for a minute to look at the menu.

‘Ho-Chi_Minh-City ….. hmmmmm,” said the guy looking at the menu.

I couldn’t stop myself.

Following social distancing guidelines, I leaned and said, “that is the best cup of coffee in Gwinnett County. It is what I always order here.”

We all laughed together and my wife chimed in to say, “That’s true, he won’t try any of the other drinks,”

I then quoted Bogart in Casablanca and said, “I stick my neck out for nobody but I will for this.”

The couple looked at each other and laughed and ordered the Ho-Chi-Minh.

We got out coffees and said our goodbyes and went out the Towncenter Park.

The park is a great place to walk.

It is made up of a oval green space with intersecting circles of sidewalks and a perimeter sidewalk.

The green space was filled with families with footballs, soccer balls, frisbies and kites.

The sidewalks were filled with walkers, runners and bikes.

Signs lined the sidewalks asking everyone to follow social distancing guidelines and we did.

Walking the perimeter we passed the couple from the coffee shop and they raised their coffee cups and smiled and said the coffee was great and we smiled and went on our way.

It was almost normal.

We felt better.

Thinking over this I was struck by this passage in an article I read online.

Active coping is vital. “Trying to do something rather than doing nothing is extremely important for resilience. This is a real opportunity, and we need to recognise it as such. And don’t forget that coronavirus isn’t the only thing that’s contagious: happiness is contagious too, as well as fear. If you go outside, smile at people. Be really friendly. It can and will make a huge difference.*

In the little bit I have been out and about I am happy to report that the people where I live HAVE BEEN friendly.

And from my personal experience, I can say it does make a huge difference.

3.21.2020 – Where is Friday night?

Where is Friday night?
What happened to Saturday?
When the world stopped

Sorry in advance but I am all over the place this morning.

In the once famous Scopes Trial in Tennessee, over the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools, Clarence Darrow (for the defense) asked William Jennings Bryan (for the prosecution), ” have you ever pondered what would have happened to the earth if it had stood still?”

Darrow was asking about the verses, Joshua 11:13-14, “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!”

Darrow’s point was that had the earth stopped it would have been burnt to a crisp in seconds.

The Dayton County Courthouse today – the tables date from the Scopes Trial but the Darrow-Bryan exchange was out in the front yard due to the heat (my photo from a recent visit to Dayton)

I like Mr. Darrow.

I like Mr. Darrow a lot for a lot of reasons.

But I do come away from reading his stuff with a feeling that he was searching, hoping for answers that were in front of his face.

And I believe and accept as fact that at the battle in the Valley of Aijalon, the Sun and the Moon stopped.

But I digress.

And to digress some more (it is my blog after all)

In the classic science fiction movie, the The Day the Earth Stood Still, aliens from other planets grow concerned over the way Earth is being run. To get the world’s attention, all electrical power is shut off for 30 minutes around the world.

And the Earth stands still.

To digress further.

In an episode of Sponge Bob, Square Pants, the evil Plankton concocts a spray that makes all the people of Bikini Bottom as dumb as Patrick.

And that is pretty dumb.

Once everyone has been sprayed, they all gather in the center of town, staring at the STOP sign.

Where am I going with this?

I feel like the world HAS stopped.

I feel like the power is off.

I feel like we are all staring at a stop sign.

My Friday night was the night for take out pizza and eating with the family as the realization sunk in the I had the weekend.

I was going to sleep in.

I wasn’t going to drive to Downtown Atlanta.

Some Saturday afternoon adventure with my wife, driving somewhere in North Georgia, was possible.

We still got pizza last night.

I still slept in this morning.

Tomorrow is Sunday.

We won’t be going to Church.

Why have a big Sunday noon meal if we can’t come home from Church and open the door to the wonderful smell of baking chicken or roasting beef?

When will my Sunday night anxiety about the Monday morning commute kick in?

Where did Friday night, Saturday and Sunday go?

I have been working from home.

And I just got notified to plan on working from home through April 11.

I admit I am grateful I have a job that isn’t suspended by the flu.

I am grateful that I can work from home.

Still, we have stopped.

What happens when we start up?

Part of my job is managing clusters of video transcoding machines at a server farms in Dallas and Dulles.

(Yes I have got them mixed up. Once with near disastrous results.)

These machines are getting older and should have their systems updated.

But my boss is afraid that they have been running so long that if we turn them off to update them, they might not come back online.

So we don’t turn them off.

But the world has stopped.

What will and what won’t work when we start up again?

A puzzle to ponder.

A worry to worry about.

For that, we will just have to wait and see.

In the meantime?

Some reassurance would be nice and I found it in nature.

I was pleased to run across this in the Guardian this morning.

“The water is blue and clear,” in the Canals of Venice.

For a interesting side perspective on the social distancing, please see Nature is taking back Venice’: wildlife returns to tourist-free city.

The article starts, “

Look down into the waters of the Venice canals today and there is a surprising sight – not just a clear view of the sandy bed, but shoals of tiny fish, scuttling crabs and multicoloured plant-life.

“The water is blue and clear,” said Gloria Beggiato, who owns the celebrated Metropole Hotel a few steps from St Mark’s square and has a view over the Venice lagoon. “It is calm like a pond, because there are no more waves caused by motorised boats transporting day-tripper tourists. And of course, the giant cruise ships have disappeared.”

Under Venice’s strict rules of self-confinement to prevent the spread of the coronavirus – all journeys but a trip to walk the dog or buy food are forbidden – the ancient city has been transformed almost overnight.”

For me, there is a dark side that enjoy’s seeing the power of Nature.

Everyone talks about the weather but no one CAN do anything about it.

Nature’s storms, snow, rain, hurricanes, earthquakes and viruses can stop us dead in our tracks.

And once we stop, the Earth bounces back.

I find comfort in the story about the canals in Venice.

The God that built that much reserve power in the Earth is in charge.

We can all stare at the stop sign for awhile but the spray will wear off.

The power will come back on.

And when Joshua asked God to stop the Earth, it was the God who made the Earth and all of the natural laws that we have to abide by.

So the Earth did not get burnt to a crisp.

I wouldn’t be here writing this if it had.

3.20.2020 – Like breathing out, in

Like breathing out, in
I’ve grown accustomed to the race
makes the day begin

I get up.

The coffee is ready.

Read my Bible.

Read the morning papers.

Drink my coffee.

Then it is off to work.

And I work into our back room.

No morning commute.

No speeding cars.

No trucks.

No cop cars.

No traffic.

No available minutes to sort out my life.

No time to question the great questions.

No audio book.

No music to pass the time.

Like breathing out and in.

After 10 years.

52 weeks a year.

5 days a week.

1 and a half hours a day.

I have spent 162 days on I85.

The drive that makes the day begin.

I don’t miss it.

I don’t miss it one bit.

But it was a big part of something that has gone missing.

Have I grown accustomed to the race?

But I’m so used to hear her say
“Good morning” every day

Her joys, her woes
Her highs, her lows

Are second nature to me now
Like breathing out and breathing in

I’m very grateful she’s a woman
And so easy to forget

Rather like a habit
One can always break

And yet I’ve grown accustomed to the trace

Of something in the air
Accustomed to her face

From I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face in the musical, My Fair Lady.

3.19.2020 – born at the instant

born at the instant
eyes as clear as centuries
born at the right time

A friend of mine recently told me, “oh mah gawd. You did something right. “

She was looking at the picture below of my grandchildren eating ice cream.

Assembling the montage of photos with of me and my Grand Babies, I am smart enough to agree.

I am also smart enough to not ask or wonder what I did.

If I wonder I wonder about the magic of infants

I could try and put it into words, but Paul Simon already did.

I took the wording for today’s Haiku straight from Mr. Simon’s Born at the Right Time.

I kept trying to change the or adapt the wording but my efforts came out less for trying.

Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time

It also came to me that just to be there was pretty special.

Not sure of the numbers, but my Dad I think got to see just 1 or 2 or his first 10 grand children in the hospital (the number went into the 40’s I think).

Its an honor really.

A privilege to be among the first people these little ones get to meet.

Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time

I am a lucky guy.

I am a blessed guy.

I did something right.

And I don’t question my good fortune.

Paul Simon – Born At The Right Time

Down among the reeds and rushes
A baby boy was found
His eyes as clear as centuries
His silky hair was brown

Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time

Me and my buddies we are traveling people
We like to go down to restaurant row
Spend those Euro-dollars
All the way from Washington to Tokyo
I see them in the airport lounge
Upon their mother’s breast
They follow me with open eyes
Their uninvited guest

Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time

Too many people on the bus from the airport
Too many holes in the crust of the earth
The planet groans
Every time it registers another birth

But down among the reeds and rushes
A baby girl was found
Her eyes as clear as centuries
Her silky hair was brown

Never been lonely
Never been lied to
Never had to scuffle in fear
Nothing denied to
Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time

3.18.2020 – change in attitudes

change in attitudes
all our running and cunning
laugh or go insane

I am not a parrot head.

Not by a long shot.

But I do enjoy Jimmy Buffett.

When I look at his list of songs, like many artists from Anita Baker to Sam and Dave, I am surprised at how many songs I have scratched on my memory plate.

I like many of his songs.

But for me, Mr. Buffett is like KFC.

I enjoy if its not too often.

For all those who just screamed, DID HE COMPARE JIMMY BUFFETT to KFC, you can just leave the room.

Gee whiz.

It wasn’t a comment aside from I like Jimmy Buffett in small doses.

Regardless, anyone and everyone has to admit that Mr. Buffett has a way with the words.

“If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me”

The start of the song “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes” is one of my favorite bits of writing PERIOD.

Cute? Maybe.

Dr. Suessish? Nahhhhh.

Clever? Without a doubt.

Fun? Beyond beyond words.

I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year.

Right now, its the chorus that resonates.

With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

I have more to say but if Mr. Buffett’s music does anything for me it makes me stop whatever I am doing and sit down and stare.

If I recommended music for anyone during this time of sanctioned introspection, I don’t know that you could go wrong with these songs of sun sea and beach.

“Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes”

I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year.
All of the faces and all of the places,
wonderin’ where they all disappeared.
I didn’t ponder the question too long;
I was hungry and went out for a bite.
Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum,
and we wound up drinkin’ all night.

It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places I’ve been.
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again.
If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
I could somehow adjust to the fall.
Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
I’ve seen more than I can recall

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

I think about Paris when I’m high on red wine,
I wish I could jump on a plane.
And so many nights I just dream of the ocean.
God, I wish I was sailin’ again.
Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me,
and I know that I just can’t go wrong
with these…

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

3.17.2020 – c’est si bon, si bon

c’est si bon, si bon
Des petits rien du tout
c’est si bon, si bon

It is so good. So good.

But its the little nothings at all.

It is so good. So good.

I’ll have to check with my beloved niece, the beloved french teacher in Kansas City, about my translation and grasp of syllables.

The thought I am going for is how the current crisis has re-emphasized the little things.

If, last month, you had asked to me list the things that matter most to Americans, I would have listed a lot things.

Will Rogers said that all an American needs is a hamburger and $5 dollars of gasoline to be happy.

Hank Williams opted for a hot rod car and a $2 dollar bill.

But toilet paper?

Last month, I knew March Madness was coming.

Never would have dared imagine that madness in March would cancel March Madness.

On all of this.

Social Distancing.

Hand Sanitizer.

Groups of 10 or less.

I have nothing to say when Eartha Kitt sang it so well.

c’est si bon, si bon.

Of course I know its not.

I have a job I can do at home.

I have a paycheck coming.

It is easy for me to say c’est si bon, si bon.

Have to wait and see what I am saying in 2 weeks.

Meet you all back on the 24th.

Until then, c’est si bon, si bon.

3.15.2020 – should remember that

should remember that
not unhealthy as they fear
healthy as they feel

“How would you like to feel the way she looks?” says Groucho Marx in the movie, “Night at the Opera” as he watches Auzcena the gypsy singing.

I was reminded of that line when I read one the better articles on Coronavirus and what it feels like to come down with and go through the illiness.

The article, What does the coronavirus do to your body? Everything to know about the infection process, by Javier Zarracina, and Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, in a well written and nicely presented fashion recounts how you get the virus, how you feel when you start to come down with the virus and what you go through as the virus works though you.

The authors interviews a Dr. Raphael Viscidi, infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Dr. Viscidi says, “So it’s basically a war between the host response and the virus,” Hirsch said. “Depending who wins this war we have either good outcomes where patients recover or bad outcomes where they don’t.

Restricting oxygen to the bloodstream deprives other major organs of oxygen including the liver, kidney and brain.

In a small number of severe cases that can develop into acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which requires a patient be placed on a ventilator to supply oxygen.

However, if too much of the lung is damaged and not enough oxygen is supplied to the rest of the body, respiratory failure could lead to organ failure and death.”

For me, the most important words are, “In a small number of severe cases.”

On 2nd thought those aren’t the most important words from Dr. Viscidi.

The most important words come at the very end of the article.

“People should remember that they’re as healthy as they feel,” Dr. Viscidi said. “And shouldn’t go around feeling as unhealthy as they fear.”

The article says, “Viscidi urges to public to think of the coronavirus like the flu because it goes through the same process within the body. Many people contract the flu and recover with no complications.”

In Night at the Opera, just before Grouch says, “How would you like to feel the way she looks,” he has another great line that more or less sums up my take on all this.

“Boogie, boogie, boogie”

3.14.2020 – coronavirus

said backward, needle reversed
turn me on dead man

If you say CORONAVIRUS backwards, you can hear the phrase, “turn me on deadman.”


This haiku is a test.

This is only a test.

This is only a test for the people who know.

How many themes can you find hidden in this Haiku?


Not Olympic records but music, long playing albums and 45’s.

Record played with a diamond needles.

Hidden messages in records.

Playing records backwards by spinning the turntable manually.

If you could, place the tone arm, as it was called, so the needle was reversed OR just leave it and hope you didn’t wreck the needle.

Possibly the most famous ‘hidden message’ was in the Beatle’s White Album.

In the song, Revolution 9, the words, “number 9, number 9, number 9”, are repeated over and over.

If played backwards in the manner described above, you heard the secret message, “Turn Me on Deadman, Turn me on Deadman.”

You heard about this as a rumor at school.

You tried it home.

It worked!


It was thrilling and hilarious.

You tried it all your other albums to find hidden messages.

You wrecked the needle on your record player.

You bragged at school that you heard the message but it wrecked your needle.

If you were REALLY cool you said “stylus” instead of “needle”.

Sermons in churches were based on these hidden messages.

Paul was dead.

Paul wasn’t dead just facing backwards on Sgt. Pepper.

I have never been to England, but I kinda like the Beatles.

My sister Mary screaming “THERE HE IS”, when Paul walked on stage with John Lennon to accept a Grammy.

And people think iPhones are cool.

Go figure.

Help me out, what did I miss?

3.22.2020 – God goes to Starbucks

God goes to Starbucks
gets a flat white and sits down
at hand to talk to

I was sitting at Starbucks the other day when a barrista held up a cup of coffee and yelled out, “God – Flat White? … God? – Flat White?”

Feller in a nice suit raised his hand and came forward and took the cup.

He turned and looked at me, caught my eye and gestured at the empty seat at my table.

I said, “Please.”

And he sat down.

Hard to explain but it came to me that, somehow, someway, God was sitting there with me, sharing a cup of coffee.

We chatted for a moment, the weather, sports and such.

While we chatted I searched my brain for something I could say that would be meaningful or at least not completely stupid.

There was a pause in the conversation and He said to me, “So tell me Mike, how are things going.

I had not told him my name.

I searched through my years in Sunday School, Church and reading the Bible and other books.

I looked at God and I said, “Not bad”

Then I said,

“I wish I was a better disciple.”

He looked at me for a good long minute, nodding his head.

“Well, you know the rules right?”

“Deny myself,” as I sat there with a $5 cup of coffee.

He nodded.

“Pick up my cross”

“And follow me,” He finished.

He nodded.

I nodded.

And I got emboldened.

Maybe recklessly emboldened.

“But,” I said, “That Cross. Lately, I am sorry, but that Cross has been too heavy.”

“Carrying it is too hard”

Boy was I surprised.

“No problem,” He said,

“We get a lot of that. Come with me.”

The next thing I knew we were at like a returns counter at Walmart.

On my back was this heavy, heavy Cross.

“Got a return here,” He said to the people behind the desk.

They all seemed to know him.

They came out from behind the desk and helped me unstrap the Cross on my back.

They took the Cross and put it on a little conveyor belt and it disappeared into a hole in the wall.

He took a sip of his coffee and said, “Now, come with me.”

He had this voice that I can only describe as ‘cool.’

We turned and there behind us was the Walmart of Crosses.

Aisles and Aisles.

Racks and racks.

“Try one on,” He said.

And I did.

It didn’t fit and I tried a another.

I tried tall ones, fat ones, red ones, blues ones, heavy ones and fragile ones.

I tried them all on so it seemed.

He was very patient.

He had ordered a trenta Flat White and continued to sip as I searched.

Finally, and I mean FINALLY, I found this Cross on a rack.

I took it down and got the straps over my shoulders and tightened them up across my chest.

I took the straps in my hands with my thumbs under the straps and felt the heft of the Cross.

I bounced up and down on my toes, flexed my knees.

Took a few steps back and forth.

This Cross fit.

Fit like it was made for me.

“This one,” I said.

“This is the one”

“This is the one I can handle.”

He nodded.

“Mike,” he said,

He took a sip.


“That’s the one you came in with.”