In Time of Covid Optimism, Bad News Still Dominates
January 18, 2021

It's come to the point where I record the evening news on my DVR. Not so that I won't miss a thing about what's going on locally, regionally, nationally, and globally, but so I can fast-forward through it. It's important to know what's happening in the world, but it's the same thing every night, only worse. This, of course, is because of Covid-19, and the number of cases and deaths continuing to skyrocket. Over a million cases in Los Angeles County alone, now. I can't take it anymore.

It should be noted that the news organizations aren't doing a bad job, it's just the lead segment has gotten redundant. The numbers are the numbers, but they don't really mean anything anymore. A hundred cases, then a thousand, then a hundred-thousand, and then a million. There's usually a graphic, followed by a line showing either cases or deaths per day, followed by video of a hospital patient, or worse, tents outside of hospitals that either house overflow patients or serve as makeshift morgues. Enough. Press the fast-forward button. If there's a sound bite with Dr. Anthony Fauci, I'll stop and listen.

There's a vaccine now. Two of them, in fact, with two others coming. The roll out has been slower than promised, and while it's easy to blame the government when they named it Operation Warp Speed, some logistical issues had to be expected. The incoming President is pledging a hundred million doses in a hundred days. That's a third of the population if you count doses as people, but more like a sixth since the vaccines require two doses. A hundred days would mean around the end of April. The vaccine did get here in less than a year, which is warp speed in medical circles, but now that we have it, it needs to get into people's arms immediately.

Don't get me wrong. The video and the numbers are important. I've said often that the reason many people have chosen not to wear masks, or don't think twice about gathering in large groups, is because coronavirus isn't real to them. They may know some people who have gotten Covid and then gotten better, but they haven't known someone who died from it, or just fail to realize the extent to which people could get very sick. News video carries with it an important message, but that doesn't mean I have to look at it every day. Fast forward.

On NBC's Meet The Press, Dr. Fauci was asked about two new vaccines—one from Johnson and Johnson, and the other from Astrazenica. He said it won't be long before they seek emergency FDA approval. Clarifying, he said it should be “weeks, rather than months.” The Johnson and Johnson vaccine reportedly would only require one dose instead of two. That, Joe Biden's effort to focus on the pandemic, and more vaccine production and a more organized distribution system, should help expedite the end of the pandemic, even though we are now not only dealing with more cases, but stronger mutations of the virus.

That gets us back to the bad news. Fauci and Biden have been saying that things are going to get worse before they get better (President Trump hasn't said anything, of course, except that he somehow won the election and because he really didn't, people should storm the Capitol). Biden and Fauci are right, with new records seemingly being set every day. The death toll in the U-S is approaching 400-thousand, and two new strains of the virus—one from the U-K and one from Brazil, are more contagious. Fauci says that doesn't man they are deadlier, but it means they can spread more quickly, and if you already have crowded hospitals, you are going to have more deaths.

Ignoring the news is a bad idea, but fast-forwarding through it seems like a decent solution. You may miss a nugget or two here or there, but you also save yourself from redundancies, and the still upsetting but now much more common segment of people crying over lost loved ones. I'm not working in radio right now, and don't drive as much as I did when I was working, so the five-minute top-of-the-hour national news is not part of my routine, so giving my TiVo a workout seems like the next best thing. They say ignorance is bliss, but it can also make you stupid. If it wasn't for the antics of our crazy President and his crazier followers right now, I might not be watching at all.

Fair weather football: The best NFL playoff games this weekend were on Saturday, but the weather was a disappointment for those of us who wanted to see uncomfortable field conditions from our cozy living room couches. The games were in Green Bay and Buffalo where temperatures were in the 30s, but there was no snow on the field. There were some flurries in Wisconsin, and it was windy in Buffalo, but no white stuff. Sunday's games were in Kansas City, where there was snow on Friday but it was sunny come kickoff, and New Orleans, which has a dome. There are darker skies on the horizon, however. Green Bay will host Tampa Bay for the NFC championship on Sunday, and there is cold weather and possible snow in the forecast for that game. The AFC title game, in Kansas City against Buffalo, calls for showers and temperatures in the 40s.

Time for a cold one: Speaking (writing) of weather, it was so warm in southern California this past week, that a sound was heard that you usually only hear during the summer. On January 15, smack dab in the middle of winter, I heard very loud music. It was the instrumental song Music Box Dancer, and when I looked out the window, I saw it was coming from an ice creak truck! Temperatures in Palmdale were in the upper 70s, but the thermometer reached 90 in other locations, including the San Fernando Valley and the Ventura/Oxnard area. The guy was not back the next day, so the surprise may not have turned out to be good for business.

Regional action: The National Hockey League opened its regular season Wednesday night with an abbreviated schedule and realigned divisions. Because of Covid-19, each team will play 56 games instead of 82, and the 31 teams will only play inside their division. Because Canada has stricter (and more successful, albeit with far fewer people) coronavirus rules than the United States, all seven Canadian teams (Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg) are grouped into one division, the North Division, so that no team will leave the country all season. The Western Division features Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose, and also Arizona, Colorado, and Vegas, and for some reason Minnesota and St. Louis, while Dallas and Chicago are in the Central with Carolina, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, and Tampa Bay. The East is made up of Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington. NBCSN had an Opening Night tripleheader, but all three games were blowouts.

Blockbuster?: When we watch a feature film, the idea is to escape from reality for a couple of hours. Right? Why on God's green Earth, then, would Warner Brothers make and release a film called Locked Down? I admit I don't know much about it, but it's described as a romantic comedy, and stars Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor. According to Wikipedia, the story follows a couple who plan to execute a heist of a jewelry store. It was entirely written, financed, and filmed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and is now showing on HBO Max, amid mixed reviews. I haven't seen a lot of movies, so I don't feel bad about adding this one to the list.

What would we do without it?: While looking up info on the above film, I learned that Wikipedia is now 20 years old. According to the site, the first edit of the free encyclopedia, written by volunteers, for everyone in the world, was January 15, 2001. Search engines like Google and sites like Wikipedia have made our lives a lot easier, and made us a lot lazier, too. When I was little and asked by grandpa a question and he couldn't answer it, he'd say, “Go look it up.” Now you just talk into your phone.

Saturday (June 16) would have been my Aunt Judy's 89th birthday. Although she passed away in 2003, she still talks to me occasionally. She was never afraid to give advice or was shy with an opinion, and I can hear her in my head sometimes saying that I should do this or shouldn't do that. I miss her.

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