Archive for May, 2020

Covid-19 diary: Part 12

May 31, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 31, 2020

One of the problems with having a scatterbrained lout like Donald Trump lead of the free world is that he does so many mendacious and malicious things that it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all.

I realized recently that my catalog of the inadequacies and missteps of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic had inadvertently omitted perhaps the biggest misstep of all: The self-proclaimed Very Stable Genius’s April 23 “joke” that injections of bleach and/or internal doses of sunlight could cure Covid-19.

As humor, this is on a par with Trump’s famous “joke” of July 27, 2016, which is worth quoting in full: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”

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Dream diary: The apartment complex and the unexpected transit system

May 30, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 30, 2020

This morning I dreamed that I lived in an apartment complex. I had a nice place on the fifth floor of one of the buildings.

One morning, in this dream, I felt restless, or perhaps I had an errand to run, so I took the elevator downstairs. I wandered around the lobby for a bit. It was a well-appointed but (I thought) not stuffy place with large rooms and public lounges, all with high ceilings. I found a small group of 20-something people doing something loudly — playing video games, or maybe some kind of physical game. I was a little annoyed but decided not to say anything.

I decided to go back to my apartment, so I made my way to the elevators. There I found a family — say, two adults and two or three kids — who seemed to be coming back from the pool or maybe a beach. I waited for a few minutes, wishing I was back in my place.

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Covid-19 diary: Part 11

May 27, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 27, 2020

Lucky, my parent’s lovely aging yellow Labrador retriever, has a chronic condition that requires regular veterinarian visits. After a 14-and-a-half-day stint in Durham, N.C., I drove back up to my parental unit’s house in the greater New York metro area on Wednesday, May 20. The trip took about eight and a half hours, with two stops. I gassed up twice and used the bathroom once; there was also a detour to avoid traffic on Interstate 95, which I probably could have avoided altogether if I’d used one of my phone’s navigation apps after the second stop.

My parent had a doctor’s visit on Thursday the 21st, but I elected to skip it. Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the facility wasn’t going to let me into the building. I had a vision of sitting in the car for a minimum of half an hour, needing to use the bathroom and not having anywhere to relieve myself.

The following day, it was the dog’s turn to go to the doctor. Once again, I called the vet’s office from the parking lot. A few minutes later, a tech came out to collect the dog. The tech asked me to remove her harness and collar, which I expected from our April visit, but said it was fine to leave on Lucky’s flea and tick collar, which is usually hidden beneath her fur.

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Covid-19 diary: Part 10

May 26, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 26, 2020

The United States has started to reopen after around two months in which vast swathes of the public have been strongly encouraged to stay home. I’ve looked on this partial return to normalcy with major misgivings.

As of Tuesday evening, according to data kept by The New York Times, the U.S. has nearly 1.7 million Covid-19 cases and nearly 99,000 fatalities; the latter number is almost certainly an undercount. Brazil is second in cases with more than 391,000. The United Kingdom, where government officials initially eschewed stay-at-home orders, is second in fatalities with 37,000. (The U.K. is fourth in recorded cases, after Russia.)

Federal leaders in the United States badly mismanaged the novel coronavirus pandemic, missing opportunities to review or renew planning for this kind of emergency, to ramp up the manufacturing of personal protective equipment, to coordinate the acquisition and distribution of PPE and to encourage state and local government to implement and maintain social distancing and other vital infection-control measures.

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Short takes: ‘Station Eleven,’ ‘Supernova Era’ and ‘House on Haunted Hill’

May 23, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 23, 2020

Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel, Station Eleven, got a lot of buzz when it came out in 2014. I finally got around to reading it this month.

It’s a strange but not entirely novel experience to read about a pandemic as one unfolds in real life. Fortunately, as disruptive as Covid-19 is, it isn’t nearly as contagious nor as deadly as the flu that kills at least 90 percent of the human race and destroys civilization in the near future depicted in Station Eleven.

Mandel’s narrative covers several characters’ experiences over a number of years both before and after the flu outbreak. The unifying theme, however, is that many of the characters — notably former paparazzo cum aspiring paramedic Jeevan Chaudhary, former aspiring artist cum shipping executive Miranda Carroll, former aspiring actor cum high-priced consultant Clark Thompson — are all linked to Arthur Leander, the famed screen actor who dies of a heart attack during a Toronto production of King Lear the night before Westerners start succumbing to flu at an alarming rate.

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Spring 2020 computer catchup, part 2

May 22, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 22, 2020

Earlier this month, I went online and bought a new scanner, a Xerox Duplex Combo, a lightweight machine that features both an automatic sheet feeder with two-sided scanning and a flatbed that can accommodate larger or irregularly shaped documents. I had it delivered to my Durham residence, where I spent time from the 5th through the 20th.

I let the box sit for a few days before opening it up. Evidence indicates that the chances of catching Covid-19 from mail or boxes that have been contaminated by the novel coronavirus are extremely low, but I’ve been trying to extremely diligent about limiting my exposure.

Setup was pretty easy. So was software installation. I had to fiddle with the software settings a bit, but it was pretty easy to begin scanning with the new machine. This meant that I could upgrade my MacBook Pro’s operating system and still be able to scan documents. I was almost ready to get my computer on board with MacOS Catalina.

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Spring 2020 computer catchup, part 1

May 21, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 21, 2020

I got my current computer, a 13-inch MacBook Pro with retina display, in September 2015. It features a 250-gigabyte hard drive, which seemed rather spacious at the time. Not anymore, my friends.

For perhaps the past year, and certainly the past nine or so months, I have been living dangerously when it comes to hard-drive space. MacOS Catalina, the most current Macintosh operating system, came out in early October 2019, but I put off upgrading from Mojave for a long time because I just didn’t have enough free hard drive space.

Did I try to open capacity on my drive? Yes sir, you bet I did! I offloaded old, little-used documents, photos and audio recordings. But all my efforts barely made a dent in available space. The biggest bugbear by far was my photo library, the main file associated with Photos, Apple’s native image-viewing application. With a lot of work, I winnowed it down from about 96 gigabytes to 88 GB. Even then, it remained by far the largest single item on my machine.

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Isaac Asimov gave science fiction its Sherlock and Holmes with his uneven ninth novel, 1953’s ‘The Caves of Steel’

May 11, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 11, 2020

The legendary science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov published his first novel in January 1950. By the end of 1953, 10 Asimov books were in print:

Pebble in the Sky, his first book, which forms the Galactic Trilogy in conjunction with The Stars like Dust (1951) and The Currents of Space 1952).

I, Robot, Asimov’s second volume, a compilation of previously published stories that had established the author’s famed laws of robotics.

Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952) and Second Foundation (1953), the first entries in a seven-book cycle of novels about the evolution of a galaxy-spanning human society.

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Covid-19 diary: Part 9

May 7, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 7, 2020

I traveled up to my parent’s home outside New York City on Sunday, March 22. I traveled back down to my home in Durham, N.C., on Tuesday, May 5. It was time to check on the place and see, among other things, what was happening to the accumulated mail.

The trip was fine. It took a little bit less than eight hours.

I took the off ramp for the last rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike to refill my tank, which was down to about a quarter. I figured I might be able to make it the rest of the way to Durham if I refueled in Southern Jersey, which proved to be the case.

But I also liked something about getting gas in the Garden State that I normally find a hassle: I didn’t have to touch the pump.

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