Dear Me

Dear Me,

Today, I heard you were showing white privilege, white indignation, and white intolerance. Under the most unfortunate of circumstances, these qualities were thrust upon your character by a close relative who, by all measures, exhibits signs of intolerance herself. Not “white” intolerance, mind you … just intolerance toward anyone with an opposing point of view. For this, I am sorry.

This came out of the blue. Well, not really out of nowhere. You did proffer a logical, thought-out opinion about the most recent rioting, looting, and burning in Atlanta. Perhaps, in hindsight, Facebook wasn’t the best social format to do so, my friend. After all, you tried twice before and the words you crafted weren’t met with smooth dialogue either. Your decision to delete all three posts this evening, in my opinion, was the best solution for now.

I saw the whole string of texts sent to you from your relative and may I, again, offer up my apologies. I will give her some credit for privately calling you out and not publicly spewing the hot ashes of her vitriol. As an aside, at least she didn’t call you a “racist” like the other “friend” on Facebook felt the need to do.

So, here’s where I’m at right now – and why I felt the need to write you a letter. You’re my closest and dearest friend. I’ve the fondest regard for your character and know you to be the most sincere, compassionate, loving person toward all regardless of race, sex, income, lifestyle choice, or any qualifier one would choose to apply. The anger and misunderstanding directed toward you is misappropriated. Period.

Here’s what they don’t know: You are starting to understand “White Privilege”. Indignation and Intolerance stand outside your fence – this I know. She is way off base on those two. I won’t even begin to justify those with a response.

You’ve set aside this day to think on that phrase. Since the accusation was hurled at you this morning, you caught the ball, tucked it under your arm and wrestled with it. That’s what you do. You ALWAYS do. You study and meditate. Think and mull over words and propositions … especially if it is deeply concerning to your character.

I heard your voice as you spoke out loud. The revelation hit you around 7:30 this evening, didn’t it?

You said, “It’s the way the movement is worded. ‘White Privilege’ is divisive. This has been the anchor around my attitude. This is why the bitterness in my words comes through. I’ve not a privileged bone in my hard-working skeleton. Privilege sounds Ivy league, haughty, lofty, and aloof to me. The usage is comparative to my experience – which is all I have to go on. So, when I am labeled, “White Privilege”, that is where my mind goes…

…Now, after thinking it through a bit, if the phrase, ‘Being white has its advantages’ was used instead, I could embrace this much better. Seems a small difference, but I understand the issue so much better this way. I now see myself as a white male with less fear for my safety in certain neighborhoods compared to my black friends. I understand my relationships with (some police) as different and job, insurance, voting, and social experiences in America as not the same.”

When you said those words, I knew you’ve been educated. That’s you, Doug. You are someone who knows how to grow … and learn. You know the value in change. You know the humility in recognizing your faults in actions and thinking – and the necessary remedies without sacrificing your values along the path of understanding.

Too bad those who fault you – and label you – will never know your true self because they don’t read this blog.

I am truly honored – and privileged – to be by your side every living moment. Stay strong and don’t ever quit being you. One heartbeat at a time, my friend.

Love,

Doug

I’m Assuming You Don’t Know

When walking into Cracker Barrel last night for dinner, I assumed my favorite lemon-pepper trout dinner would be waiting for me on the menu. This delicious two piece fish entree with sides of macaroni and cheese, corn, and a salad has been a Sunday night regular for my tired, worn, weekend grill-sloshed body’s hungry belly. Sam the Man, our favorite waiter, is usually there to smilingly serve my iced tea with an extra glass of ice and knows enough to not even ask for my order. He knows what I want … on any normal night.

Sunday, June 14th … last night. No assumptions could be made. Texas Roadhouse, on a whim and suggestion from a good friend, was well into a line upon arrival and I was too hungry to wait. Next door, Chili’s parking lot looked the same as if there was a sudden run to the border. Why did my wife and I not first head to Cracker Barrel? I assumed a 7 pm dinner time on a Sunday would be less likely loaded than any other time of the week – especially during this covid-19 social tightness noosed around restaurants these fine days .

If not for the urging from a good foodie-vendor friend all weekend, and the seasoned, drippy pork chop painted picture he drew, I wouldn’t have steered my beat up Honda into Texas Roadhouse’s socially distanced, beef-ribbed parking lot. Hooking the trout first inside Cracker Barrel with Sam and a cold iced tea … sitting down after 6 long days of work … and I would’ve avoided any extra miles on my already worn nerves.

We finally entered that most familiar store after passing the rocking chairs and extra large checker boards. Signs and notices suggest mask wearing, however, some do not oblige. Workers? Yes. Guests who scrum about the gifts shop? Some – who most likely assume they are virus free, do not wear them. A muted, vocal tone from a very nice familiar host immediately directs us to a table triangulated and distanced 6-feet from any other in the large echoed room. Scratchy wooden chairs across a tiled floor accompany, now, condiment-less blank tables with no golf-tee games happily waiting twenty minute pastimes between ordering and meal arrivals.

The old pictures on the wall remain still, but have an eerie new meaning. Folks in hazy black and white pose staring across our table last night gave me the same pause they, themselves, have stood in two-dimensional time. They knew nothing of the cell phone I tapped text messages into while I stared disappointingly at a limited menu, but seemed to see into the starkness of a barely full dining room. Technology escaped their purview. Life did not.

They must have noticed my disbelief in realizing trout, apparently, jumped off the menu. An apparent covid-casualty of the worst, unimaginable kind. I assumed, after driving happily away from Texas Roadhouse, Cracker Barrel would save my stomach soul. Sam tried to calm my weary worries … and he did … sort of. I settled in on the haddock after dismissing the catfish, chicken, meatloaf, roast beef, sampler, and various other quite limited choices.

As a non-menu grabber for years, it was odd scanning over other choices. I never do. Always the same Sunday fare. Yes, a tad OCD … welcome to that world, but after working in the sun all weekend, a Sunday night with Sam, trout, iced tea (and an extra glass of ice) is an assumed treat.

Assumed until it can’t be anymore. I had to pause. My normal wasn’t acceptable, except I can accept assumptions … sometimes. Let me explain:

This is where we are in America. A few mornings ago, a Wendy’s burned because, once again, a young man was tragically killed unnecessarily. The night before, I was watching coverage of that police shooting in Atlanta – as it happened only hours before – and, sadly, I had to assume “something” of a violent or destructive nature would happen in reaction … and it did. An innocent building was torched in protest.

I am not condoning the reaction. It wasn’t a response, but a visceral, gut-punch reaction from a community who assumes the gunning down of a 27 year old man who, yes, physically struggled with the police, was so every-day anymore. You know what? …the assumption isn’t wrong. This young man was fleeing and shot in the back – twice. It’s a story that cannot be ignored anymore by saying, “Assuming makes an ASS-out of U and ME’. That American story is gone. It makes an ass out of the police who shot the man. Period.

Yes, an argument can be made for the gang minority violence in Chicago … along with the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m zeroing in on the violence against black men perpetrated by some law enforcement who seem to have no problem squeezing their trigger brain and, yes, murdering with no just cause … apparently … allegedly, may I say before being accused of “guilty before innocence”. Notice the word “some” used above – recognizing the honest, moral among them as well.

The list is filling up and is too full, now, for me to ignore. I can’t assume the American system of law enforcement is right, just, and equal anymore in the disbursement of justice at the point of contact in a park, drive-thru, street sidewalk, or city corner. I can fairly assume it is for me as it applies, however, to me a white male living in a fairly conservative north-eastern state surrounded by mostly Republican, Christian people. Experiences for others in more diverse, highly concentrated bigger cities would be significantly different.

I always assumed it was the same across the country. OUR country. I was wrong. My life was isolated from the reality of racism. It isn’t any more complicated than that. Not just racism. Bigotry against those who choose same sex relationships, trans lifestyles and similar alternative choices, atheist or non-traditional worship meditations, are on my awareness spectrum. James Baldwin makes sense more to me than ever, shades of black experience are being lifted – shining light into my previously shaded white world.

Assumptions of what was can be no more. Generations of thinking need to be changed. I, myself, can’t lift mountains of new information to new heights, nor can I speak those who can’t hear. What I can do is change my assumptions, little by little, and take a stand on new ground – while talking to those who will listen.

Trout at Cracker Barrel is one small sacrifice. I assumed it was to be … until it wasn’t. I’ll live without it for now. There are men and women not alive today because bad, horrible, possibly – and assumed – racists police decided to use excessive force and exterminate others’ lives … over and over again. Yes, there I WILL use “assumed” … because the shoe fits. A shoe that does not deserve to stand on ground I stand.

Today, I am responding to all this. Tomorrow, and in days to come, there will be more. Reform, change, and reactions in time to avoid another tragedy? Doubtful. But then, I’m assuming the outcome.

Let’s hope I’m wrong.









Y’all Need To Have A Sit

Two chairs facing. Have a seat.

All I see is people saying…. If you believe this, delete me or block me, if you feel this way, delete me or block me, if you support that, delete me or block me, if you don’t think like me delete me or block me…..Do you see the problem yet???? Your making further division, what about hey we don’t agree but let’s be friends and talk about it, or we don’t agree but I love you anyway. ALL of you saying delete / block me if, YOUR part of the problem!!!!!! We’re never all going to agree, we can try to understand and come together NOT delete / block me if. How is that helping to bring anyone together? Seriously y’all need to have a sit and THINK about it. But hey keep falling into exactly what they want us to do, divide. I love yin’s all but those of you saying this crap, take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself are you really doing anything to help our communities come together? Or are you adding to the division by the “if you don’t agree delete / block me”.. my early morning thoughts anyway.” – R. E., Facebook 5/4/2020

These words found their way on my Facebook feed early yesterday morning. I found myself stopping my usual quick scan of the silent, predictable political divisiveness … disguised as sharing, caring thoughts … when suddenly coming across the paragraph posted above. My comment to R.E was a simple, “I love this …” followed by a private message asking permission to use it. She obliged with very kind allowances in the course of a pleasant early morning private message lasting a few minutes.

You see, we communicated as adults in a virtual room – learning about one another. Two strangers with, unknown to us, commonalities heretofore undiscovered. We have a common friend. We share a common interest in a musical instrument. I must say, without knowing her beyond the few minutes of black letters in a tiny little white dialogue box, both of us displayed above average intelligence and social skills, are/were in the food business (I think), and have a unique ability to adapt and change if necessary. Oh, and we’re probably crazy humble and proud of it as well … but, I digress.

So, two unfamiliars … now, familiars. Since this is now the case, I can call her Rachel. Rachel is her name. Nice to meet you, Rachel. I love your words.

A few years ago, I sat in a local Taco Bell sharing stories with a friend. A black friend who I never see as black. It is so uncomfortable for me to even type that word, “black”, because I never, ever see him as such. For the purposes of this post, I must use the qualifier, however. He is a very successful friend who is wedded to a white (geesh, do I really have to keep using these words) woman. They are such a nice couple. He’s seen true tragedy. His bullied junior high-aged son committed suicide four years ago and my conversation touched a bit on that sad occurrence.

Mainly, our talk had to do with my concern surrounding a relative who pointed a bony finger at my supposed “white-privilege”. An upper-level advantage I was unaware I had until it was thrown on my pile of things about which to worry – I guess. Never considered the notion until then.

I asked J.P. for a meet-up (agreeing to buy a burrito in exchange for his time) to discuss if he ever saw the “white” thing in my life … and to discuss his perspective on being a black man in America.

I’m so glad I did. We cleared up my non-discriminatory thinking in a two-taco minute. I knew we would. Loving all races, creeds, colors, beliefs, life-styles, and genders is my motto and never would I ever find it in my heart to be mean to anyone. What followed, however, was one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve ever had.

He spoke of being asked to empty clean laundry on the sidewalk while walking home from the cleaners – for no reason other than being different. All this having to obey authority because the alternative was worse.

He spoke of having caution while in position of authority in administrative healthcare due to the fear of mistakes. One little slip-up could have jeopardized the future of another minority coming up through who sought after the same position.

We talked through experiences. I learned through listening. He is a highly educated man who experienced life on a completely different path than I. I suspect had we been born twins – imagine with me, of course – and pursued exactly the same career paths, his life and mine would have been very different based solely on the colors of our skin. That’s such a sad reality of the American experience.

Lest we judge, things are SO much better than they were. Even 20 years later, when J.P. was sauntering along the sidewalk, we still have pockets of problems, but I believe America is waking up.

Back to my good friend Rachel. Are you kinda seeing why I loved her post earlier? She’s right, ya’ know? If I would have blocked J.P. out of my life, so much conversational richness and vitality would have been gone … forever. I reached out and he willingly answered. We talked for over three hours.

Two guys – one black, one white – sharing a bunch of Mexican food … talking about life. We “had a sit” and filled each other’s life baskets with memorable words. Words that inspire me years later in our coronavirus, George Floyd obsessed, media-driven craziness known as America 2020.

Rachel is my new mini-hero this morning. She re-ignited my memories of J.P. and the importance of an adulting-dialogue between parties wanting to understand each other – and my overarching message to you: Don’t impulsively block/delete people … especially those you call friends … on Facebook or other social media sites. If you find their words irritating, reach out. Ask them what they mean. Maybe they just ate a bad burrito and have gas! You don’t know the movie they’re living. Don’t be so bold to assume you know their true, core issues until you talk with them. If you find them offensive, intolerable, and too quirky for your taste after reaching out, dump ’em. Until then …. be real.

To additionally qualify my admonition, a string of comments on Facebook does NOT qualify as a conversation. Most do this for shock value and reactionary-response, so to assume you are conversing with said friend is folly in its highest form.

Now, y’all need to have a sit … Mask up, go to an acceptable location if possible, or find a quiet little dialogue box like Rachel and I did yesterday morning. TALK and LISTEN to one another. Find common ground. Look for the 10% similarities to bridge the 90% variations in thinking. You’re not going to agree on everything, of course. If you do, RUN AWAY … FAST !! There’s no such reality as total agreement on the whole kit-and-ka-boodle.

In conclusion, be a Rachel … “take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself are you really doing anything to help our communities come together? Or are you adding to the division

No truer words were typed on Facebook during recent days, in my crazy humble opinion. Oh, and I’m sure my new friend Rachel would so kindly agree.

Hometowns

Hometowns.

They mean so much more to us now. Even if not surrounding some physically, these charming little – or, perhaps larger – neighborhood pieces of our lives still hold on to our memories. They must. This is their purpose.

It has been roughly a week since writing an entry on DougHugs. I’ve spent that time scooting about in my hometown … and nearby communities … practicing some necessary life skills for the uber-thousandth time: shopping, driving, paying bills, working, eating food handed to me from over-worked drive-thru food joints, and thinking. Lots of thinking.

Considering my way through the muck of this new reality has been a stuckiness problem. Maybe not for you lately, but for me. I suspect placing the word, “maybe” to be presumptive. There can’t be a human alive right now who doesn’t feel stuck in a goofy world of newness – and not a fresh, new born baby excitement kind of fresh. Each day is becoming that scratchy, skippy, record over and over where even the needle is being felt as a voodoo-ish reminder of yesterday’s sameness each time it jumps off the monotones.

We’re all here. It’s the emotional neighborhood in which we have been forced to isolate and distance from our instincts to gather together.

I didn’t realize this newness until hearing words from a social disease “expert” yesterday. With exception to most of her usual panic-laden blather, I did find one perspective rather interesting. She made an overall comparison of this pandemic to 9-11, Ebola, and Aids with regard to scope, effect, and response. I perked up and listened with both years while setting my popcorn aside.

… And I paraphrase: “This pandemic, unlike all others mentioned, has affected every single person on the planet. Every. Single. One.”

She’s right, y’know? The physical damage inflicted on 9-11 was rebuildable – which has been concretely proven. Three-thousand souls lost is a horrible tragedy for our country and was shared, briefly, by others around the world. Within a few short months, life continued on … for most. The stock market began to roar, folks walked about with less flag waving and patriotic duty, … normal returned as normal did as months rolled into years. The world didn’t stop much. Ebola and Aids were even less a hiccup on our path of normalcy. Yes, to some a major health crisis, a marginal social cry for justice to others.

This pandemic is a very different world experience-experiment. It is one big-old, “What in the hell is going on?” … and the reason our neighborhoods are so important to us right here … right now. The goofy-ness goo that surrounds our sneakers causing our stuck-stuckiness is WHY these little – or big – parts of our lives mean so much to us now. I say “our” due to you feeling it as well. I know you do.

This is Hollidaysburg, PA. My hometown. The overlook picture is Chimney Rocks. I snapped this picture during a quick walking pass-by on Memorial Day after a pleasant little picnic outing. The turkey sub I ate was, eh, so-so. The usual most-excellent places were closed and lack of proper planning landed my unprepared self at the local grocery store for a pre-wrapped hoagie. Meh.

Food aside, the day wasn’t about jamming high sodium lunch meat into my always moving mouth, anyway. Glad I had the hour to stop – in my hometown – to breath. Something this pandemic, ironically enough, doesn’t give us time to do.

This has become a respiratory, infectious virus that has not only taken over the lungs of, sadly, now 100,000 American lives and many others around the world, but also has conquered the consciousness of every single human being on the planet. To the “expert’s” point … she was dead center on target.

My hometown was a welcome relief this past Monday. I’ve seen her hundreds – if not thousands – of times from the inside out. That vista from Chimney Rocks is a popular look-out I used to scurry about as a youngster many, many years ago. It wasn’t developed as a park and slightly more dangerous to navigate in polyester pants and reeboks. But, hey, I survived it. No Samsung cell phone, bills, working, driving, or shopping, … or Covid-19. Just me, my friends, and my hometown.

If you’re not close to your hometown, go to a local park to sit and remember something about where you were growing up … something positive about life. Something fun. A vista or overlook that takes your mind off this stupid virus for a minute or two. Actually living in your hometown? Go somewhere you love … and do the same thing. A bench. A tree. A porch. A park. Somewhere you can be you for a few minutes.

This will always be their purpose. Places to revisit when the world is upside down with issues, pandemics, and “unfamiliars” we simply don’t understand. They have familiarity no other place can offer weary souls and tired eyes.

I speak for me when I say, “This is Hollidaysburg’s purpose in my life. She has problems, but when we are quiet and respect each other …there’s a way through any of life’s challenges.”

Find your hometown again.

There’s No Room

There’s no room.

During these times of Social Distancing – defined as staying away from our former biologically acceptable human comrades – we are told to be leery of an inside hulahoop diameter meet-up. The six-foot rule. If you’ve forgotten this companion to the Masking Mandates, please visit any store, doctor’s office, bus stop, or internet page any second of any day for a refresher.

Notice I didn’t assume you’ve never heard of it. That would be nearly impossible.

Since day one of the pandemic, S.D. and M.M. have become as everyday in America as apple pie and baseball. The latter, of course on hold for now. Variations in stickers on floors in retail shops show shoe prints 6-feet apart to prevent “us” from nudging our apparent virus-laden bodies up against each other, or creating a cloud of droplets and vapors for others to walk through. All if this an ounce of prevention, right?

I’m not arguing for, or against, the science. As much as I hate the saying, “It is what it is…”, I need to insert it. I’ll glue my 10 1/2’s on the circles and stand behind the line like a dutiful citizen. Sometimes if I had a good breakfast that day, I’ll feel good about it. I’ll give up the space for a greater good. A not-so-good day? Be a bit cautious. I’ve been known to verbally crack-jack grocery store robots for their masking hubris.

There still isn’t enough room – and here’s why:

More and more people always have to be right during these days of pandemic-pandemonium. There’s no room for a different opinion or point of view. All the great, healthy conversational air has been sucked out of a – used to be – wonderful walk-a-bout where conversations occurred over different bean coffees.

Standing firm on the President’s words? check. Pushing back against everything breath the President takes? check. Pro-go outs? Stay-ins? Bad man Fauci all the time? Fauci is awesome-sauce? Left vs Right vs Wrong. No middle.

Over and over, Facebook and 3D intersections find people toe-to-toe, exchanging information over mistakes in reading the signals. Auto-matic reactions are piling up. Nobody wants to take the cautionary lights of research and discipline. Moreover, they’re attempting to barrel through the proven science of red lights … not looking both ways before crossing.


When the pandemic mess is cleaned up, and the room empties of all physical evidence, nothing will change. A group of “someones” will be right in what they believe now.

…and it will be a mess once again. Intolerable, I would argue now ahead of then.

The “See, I told you so’s! …” – inside that pandemic-end-but-emotional-costs-still-linger room – are going to be shouted down to us for years. The echos will bounce around and any escape near impossible.

Don’t doubt me on this. I KNOW I’m right. Sarcasm? Absolutely. I want to be educated on all things and be open to change my mind. Most times a very difficult place to exist because I’m told I have to “take a stand”. This – shouted from those standing beside wrecked attitudes as I speak-cycle by on my bye-bye, bicycle with a wheel outlook on life. On balance, I’d rather wobble and weave than be stationary in my beliefs.

We’re running out of room for sure. Maybe if more people check their attitudes at the door, drive with a bit more caution on the internet highway, or simply yield and look both ways before crossing off others’ opinions … we’d all begin to breathe easier.

It’s a smaller space than we knew months ago. Let’s respect it and give each other room to live and enjoy what we have. Together.

Fauci Facts Food and Fatigue

Fauci Facts and Food Fatigue

For the most part, interchangeable are the four nouns in the title. Now, Fauci food isn’t really a thing unless he has a burrito line of which I’m not aware. Other than that strange combo, two-word pairs match up nicely. Why these four words today? Easily asked … easily answered.

They make up the finely tuned quartet singing the song, “My Wild I-Wish Rhodes” inside my head. It’s an oh-so convenient pun play on the traditional “Wild Irish Rose” barbershop foursome warble tune and my forever tattooed last name of Rhodes. Oh, I wildly wish things were different for all of us right now. They aren’t.

There’s a 5th F☆ing word I’d like to include which finds its way into my lexicon of colorful spittage … it is reserved for long, chatty teller, drive-thru bank lines, unmasked humanoids who violate my 6-feet circle space, and my overly gray, “what-the …” going on down the back of my head and over these ears of mine. Damn clipper-snippers need to get open – and soon.

Back to my what-fours: Fauci, facts, food, and fatigue. Separated in this paragraph for the purpose of celebrating faux independent daze from reality, these four “nouns of the shutdowns” sit as moored ships with my rough waters of unfamiliar feelings slapping against their sides. This fog of an eerily morning asks me to throw my common sense into the harbor of socially accepted bad ideas. An independence I didn’t ask to be involved in … a patriotic duty I am not suited up for and don’t have the proper ammunition to fight.

Though I will fight through the mist to understand the four foes I desperately want to understand:

Dr. Fauci:
Analysis: This guy of infinitly higher brain chemistry, and synapse-shooting gapestry than I, tells me to do things. He’s of lesser stature, older in age, and seems to be wiser when speaking of covid-related practices. I feel like having him over for dinner around Thanksgiving provided he’s properly masked and at least six feet away from my gravy-laden turkey and taters. Overall, a properly nice fellow under undue stress from an apparent underlying “assumed” feud with his boss.

Problem: I see him more on talk blogs and online discussion split-panel dias-bias broadcasts promoting his idea of what is normal rather than giving us new information. What is old promoted as new, to put a spin on it. He’s not arrogant … I’m not saying that.

Perhaps a better frame on the picture would be to homage Mel Blanc by saying: “What’s up, Doc?” …It bugs me when he appears so often saying the same things. Yes, maybe we need to hear them. Yes, we are not – possibly – doing what we need to do, scientifically speaking.

He’s a scientist, not a social engineer. Give me the science. He’s been wrong on the models. He can’t possibly know what’s going to happen in the fall with Universities. Does he know my nose runs constantly when I wear my mask for more than 5 minutes when I can’t find the relish aisle in the grocery store?

Anthony, my Anthony. Walk away from De’Nile and accept your role as supporter of science while others take the lead on social matters.

You and your colleagues, stay in your lane. Please.

Facts:
Analysis: Funny, unvascillating little nuggets of truth. Undeniable, observable, unquestionable, touchable, no doubtable passable in the smell testable-univerable, global acceptable world we live in are our friends … truth as facts. Red is red and I need a haircut, badly.

Problem: To steal – outright – an overused phrase being tossed around, “People are not entitled to their own set of facts these days.”

Let’s stick to numbers. They’re less oily and unwilling to vacillate under the whims of fancy … unless one needs them for political gain or social advantage. Primary and secondary level facts for cause to throw more tea into the harbor. Specifically, COVID-19 case and death numbers per state.

As of this post, America has roughly over 88,000 deaths with 1.47 million cases. In Pennsylvania, we have 4,300 deaths with 60,000 cases. These are surface facts … ones so easily barnicled on the side of our companion-ship expectations. Under the surface, however, are other facts seemingly ignored for purposes of political and social convenience.

Nearly 70% of all deaths by COVID-19 in PA have occurred in nursing homes and personal care facilities. These buildings, combined with our most vulnerable with compromised immune systems, are petri dishes for viruses searching for welcoming homes. One-hundred percent of the populous living in the commonwealth has been subject to the seventy percent King’s edict.

As I’ve said numerous times, never a denier that this ‘rona is a “thing” , but state-wide decisions and panic-policy embroidered on a white flag of first level facts – without considering other numbers – is going to eventually sink the trust we have in those at the helm. Captains, at the ready, to steer our ship out of the not-so-safe harbor we’re in at present, anyway.

Food
Analysis: Pizza, hamburgers, tacos, chocolate milk? … Great and awesome. Nuts, beans, whole grains, fruits, seeds, vegetables, keto diet, blended shakes, kale, yogurt, and tofu … probably ok in moderation for others. I’m a mid-50’s guy – with slightly high blood pressure – around average BMI for my height and wear glasses to read the mite-sized label-lettering on the supplements I take. Yes, I can be accused of living to eat, not eating to live … and enjoy every bite of a Taco Bell steak quesarito dripping with melty cheese.

Problem: Panic buying in the midst of a mist of mis-information. Empty shelves where there should be none. Fulfilled expectations, unfortunately, because I knew once suggestions of a possible shortage hit the air, all would be possible. The shelf-ishness would begin.

Granola and Chex-Mix were grabbed up … when, before, these colonoscopy helpers were as useful and important as someone’s hundred-fifty years old grandma. Beef ground to a halt – meating our greatest fear of a non-juicy burger world. Processing reality was too much, so off to counter that we went – led to slaughter the uncomfortableness and load freezers with 8 months of high steaks peace.

Making sure we got ours – all shapes and sizes of all things dry and juicy. Milk, bread, paper, meat, sanitizer, bleach, … pickles (I like them, so they’re on the list just because) … but not tofu, keto-stuffs, or cauliflower florets. Why some and not others? I have my ideas. Stores had three boxes sold out of granola when I needed one. Understandable. No media bias-panic, pre-gotta get, apocalyptic airwave pushing there. Other crushable consumables? Yep. It’s all about the push. The gotta-haves. The better-gets before the run-outs.

We live in a country where we can live on – and with a lot less – than what we think. A lot of the “we” word in that last sentence on purpose. The America I know is a “we” country … not so much an “I” country. Something to remember the next time you look over a shelf with only a few “needed” items begging your purchase. Must haves with companions already in your cargo holds and galleys, but not in others’.

Fatigue
Anaysis: Tired of all this? Welcome to the whatever club you want to call us. I’m open to suggestions. Exhaustion, weariness, donkey work, drowsiness, chores, drum-drudgery. Plain old … ugh.

Problem: Makes me talk like a pirate with a strange accent. Both very difficult to translate via black and white text in a web-log portmanteau blog. And, like a pirate, I feel dirty, greedy, and in search of a treasure I may never find. Unlike a buccaneer of past however, my treasure is ultimate peace, a clean soul, and generosity.

Ay Mate. Me thinks I’m goin’ a bit ‘azy here. See me problem.

In my head, I can keep going through the necessities of daily doings. All of us find a way, right? We’re keeping our ships afloat. Bills, mates, kids, jobs, pets, food, homes, cars, … all the four and five letter things we need to think about 24/7 keeping the synapses firing even when we don’t want them to. It is all so tiring, unequivocally exhausting as each day opens up to another – especially these days.

Masking, social distancing, and all the “opening up” requirements thrust on top of our own opinions about this whole coronavirus pandemic are burdens. Where to file all the information has blurred our 2020 vision. There has been no clear link-slash-chain of leadership from the national-to-state-to-local governments. It’s been a free-for-all bucket of pride, malaise, avarice, and acquisitiveness. Where is true humility and leadership anymore? Where are the men and women who want all – I mean ALL – of us to be on one ship, together.

They are not on board with those of us being asked to hold their hands – while we are walking the planks, dangling precariously close to the edge of financial collapse and an emotional plunge into the cold waters of an unsafe harbor.

Combine all these four ships: Fauci, Facts, Food, and Fatigue in my “Harbor of How things are Happening” and you get an insight into what I believe is afloat. Agree or disagree, I’m fine with it.

We can talk over tea sometime. I’ll tea-se you with one final thought: Don’t go overboard with any of your opinions. Research all your ideas, live boldly your life within the rules, but go beyond the expectations of your mind.

Find your 4 F’s … and sometimes the fifth F will come into play. Let it fly because it’s the most freeing feeling in the world to say, “F*it! … I’m the C’tain of this ship and y’all can find your own ship.”
















Station Wagon Ideas

Panelled station wagons guzzled their way down many highways in the 70’s. Convenient? Yes. Stylish? Debatable, as were shaggy mutton-chop sideburns and highrise hairdos. Those of us who were kids didn’t know style. We slogged our way through in polyester brown pants and orange striped cotton shirts. The only joy we had, sometimes, was riding backwards – free from restraint – in those matching brown and orange metal boxes. Making faces through the glass at clearly unhappy, suspecting drivers to the rear, we knew of no internet, cable, or cell phones. A snack, or two, held our attention … and, of course, the adult at the wheel in the car behind who was the audience of our pre-teen antics.

This was our station in life. None of us knew anything different at the time. Grocery store, scouts, school, … a trip to Grandma’s house a few blocks away, whatever the reason, to ride in reverse was a treat. A middle seat plunker was doom and meant something happened – something serious in the familial universe. The overstepping of a boundary (admittedly, a line I was quite capable finding – frequently) or, simply, space were two reasons back bench bliss wasn’t available to three knee scrubbers growing up in a lower-middle income household.

My dad taught school and mom hung around home raising three kiddos. An easy decision for her. She was built to be a mom. Take a bucket full of qualities that make up a great mom and you could paint the most beautiful of mansions. Colors vibrant with care, love, compassion, music, food, touch, humor, faith, and … well, mom… made up a palate of wonderfulness.

Dad painted houses in the summer to earn extra money for a yearly trip to Ocean City. This was his release from occupation hell – as he would define his life. Love for family, as most likely defined by his generational genes, was an unwavering commitment to the job(s) he had to do. Man’s work was love for family. The yearly 7 hours jaunt to the same beach … same hotel … same efficiency room … gave him a much needed break from himself and his routine. If you caught the irony, it was intended. And if you can see where I got some of my OCD issues, kudos as well.

These trips were packed with dogs and suitcases, so riding in the back bench seat was impossible. Yes, this was a space problem. Three kids in the middle due to non-discplinary concerns, for once. A sort-of long trip from 4 a.m. to noon traveling down interstates to a very familiar beach town where people of different colors, shapes, and sizes could be seen slathering themselves with smelly oils and eating their Fisher’s boardwalk fries.

With very little to do in that confined paneled prison, I discovered a love of puzzle books. Specifically, “Variety” books. If I found moments of peace among my younger brother flicking boogers or Cheetos at me, these gems of pencil-pickers captivated my hours between eating P&J’s and the occasional window stares. These graphite grapplers kept the boredom at bay as the ba-dum of each tire over the concrete of the interstate could’ve driven the strongest willed off into the emotional median abyss.

The bridge between youth and adulthood is narrowed and shortened during a crisis. It is for me, anyway. I look back at my childhood – an obvious reverse of time – to hold my present hand. In front of me is a very puzzle book I used to unfold many years ago. Acrostics, Crosswords, SumTotals, …. all my old friends. And, of course, word searches. To this very day, I do not do them. Ironic.

As I sat down, this morning, I couldn’t find the words to write. Sentences? All the more difficult when words themselves don’t easily appear in my brain. It truly is the station wagon of the times. An ugly reality that is here and we must face – in reverse while others stare back in disbelief, anger, or malaise.

The words we choose are seen and heard by everyone … especially if we throw them “out there” for consideration on the public freeway of informational bias. They’ll get run over, skidded on, tramped, judged, weathered, and remembered.

Yesterday, I posted a simple poll result. It was reported 72% of PA residents approve of our Governor’s job performance. I took an independent position on the matter, assuming an information-only, non-pot-stirring stance. The number seemed a bit high based upon my recent FB wall post in the midst of this pandemic “thing”.

The comments and responses would not surprise you. Left, right, conspiracy, bias, fake news, polls and wrong, … all manners and forms of opinions. Words.
The Washington Post, from which the MSNBC broadcast I pulled the poll, was challenged as biased. The ugly station wagon stuffed full of opinion.

Opinions are good. I’m not challenging the basic tenent here. Problem is: nobody is going to change theirs. The station wagon is still going to the same hotel … the same beach … the same …

I just wonder. What are we trying to do? All I hear are people searching for the right words to say – everyone wants to hear – but nobody is willing to listen. It’s the greatest word search puzzle of all-time and we’re all stuck facing backwards in an ugly station wagon.

Hope the people in the car behind us know what’s going on. Let’s all make a silly face so we can get a reaction. Maybe it’ll lighten the mood a bit and they’ll have a word, or two, for us in return. When looking in the rear-view mirror once we find ourselves in the driver’s seat again, hopefully we’ll see what was left behind from lives, choices, and words we clung to. What’s ahead is an open road of ideas and opportunities for all of us to take that may … just may … help form sentences all of us can agree on.


Who Said The Sky Is Falling?

It wasn’t quite my plan. Last night, raindrops spattered on my windshield as I pulled into the local Sam’s club. For the first time in a few days, there was no need to stand six-feet apart from other smooshers waiting to get in this, now, limited-capacity box store of limited-items. The time was later and I was in need of a few items. Just a small amount of things. Mask in hand, briefly, then over my tired face as I entered to be counted among the non-masses for this hazy, misting, overcast Tuesday late afternoon. I was lazily clicked in as #28 on the little black box by a very courteous member service representative who, by all accounts, was eager to be done with her shift. She and I nodded silently in agreement … a very obvious simpatico co-survivor of whatever this is.

Carts are funny things. They yearn to be. Reach-outs I cannot ignore even when only requiring a few items of hand-full ease. I found myself winding through empty aisles – darting around space, not elbows and kids – for the rarest of experiences. Just the two of us attached by a sole metal, sanitized bar wiggling our way toward the back freezer where I knew a small number of goodies had to be waiting for my perusal. It was on that path toward sure success where I noticed the stakes had been raised higher than they were days before … even hours before.

Shall I dare say, the steaks were …

… The only packages left in the case – and the high pricey ones at that.

Meat me half-way here. Again, as I wrote a few days ago, it is the fact-feeling paradigm / media driven emptiness of shelves we face head-on every time. Can we say together, “How now, ground cow?”

Here’s how: Henny Penny never said the sky’s the limit, did she? But, there’s now a limit on beef – after the cooler’s been emptied of 75/25, 80/20, 90/10, and 92/8. Ground to a halt is the U.S. supply of beef, apparently, because slaughter houses, large packaging facilities and suppliers are covid-19 depleted of workers. One-fifth of Wendy’s restaurants, according to recent reports, are now out of meat – thus fulfilling the “Where’s the BEEF!” prophesy waiting years in the hopper. McDonald’s should be ok because, well … never mind.

Local butchers are ok from what I gather. Smaller stores are carrying some limited supplies of beef, I guess. Haven’t been out much since last night to investigate. Not surprised to see the bigger, “mass gathering chambers exempt while mom-and-pops had to close” stores have empty, bare shelves of the items being hyped as the next-best, eer worst thing to hit the endangered list. T.P, water, clorox wipes, uhm … paper towels, milk, eggs, gas, whatever. Now, meat. Masses hear, follow, gather, buy … feel good.

I’m not claiming this virus isn’t a thing. Never have. My travels though the store last night took me past the vitamin/health care aisles where I spied powdery goodness I haven’t seen in a while. Caution is still a thing. Masking is still important. Social distancing should always be the responsible 6-step in the right direction. Immune add-ons I like to use every day that have been hard to find jumped into my sight. Amazon lists these little packs “iffy” in stock, so when I plucked three boxes out of six off the shelf, my inner self-congratulatory dial went a-spinning. With those and my freezer pals I found with ease moments before, heading to the self-checkout was seconds away.

Easy, right? Customer #28 was I. Well, for a moment or two. I was soon to be inmate #28.

My complaint may, or may not, be warrant-ed. We’ll ask the judge at my arraignment provided I can get a good attorney during this quarantine. Limits on ground beef. Sure, I get that. Glad to see y’all got yours. There was a clear and present sign over the empty 38 1/2-degree cooler 50 paces to my right at the time. Limits on the Immune packets? Uhm, .. well … I didn’t see a sign. Do I understand the need for a limit on the powder? Yeppers! … Powder-purchase-prevention-precautions are quite necessary during these scary times. After all, some may quadruple the price and sell them on the black market, or actually want to keep their family of eight healthy for a month. Yeah, a bit sarcastic there, but I was greedy-giddy last night and wanted mine!! ALL MINE … (I did leave three back for others. That counts for something, right?)

After bells, whistles, error messages, virtual register hand-cuffs, and some very nice assistance from masked associates, the matter was resolved with my surrendering of two boxes. Tears flowed from my eyes. It was a scene from my hands version of Grippley’s believe it, … or not. My feisty fingers not wanting to release the two golden boxes, I finally surrendered to reason. My reason? It was getting late, the rain was most likely still plopping down, and I was anxious to get home.

Hysteria held my heart for a few brief moments. I understand that space and the dichotomy of a brain wanting more, but needing less. In fifteen minutes’ time, I met Mr. Hypocrisy head-on. Hugging more than my fair share of one thing while shaking hands with unjustified righteousness. Strangely throwing the meat-hoarders under an oncoming media-driven bus to – only minutes later – taking my seat, asking for immunity … rather, counting my immunity packets.

Examination of self far exceeded expectations I had going into the evening. All I wanted to do was pick up a few items. Glad I had the time to see myself in an empty cooler and meat myself half-way.

Still think the news drives this packed bus too much toward a cliff we see coming – but choose to ignore. Sensible, clear-thinking, reasonable adulting needs to rule the day. I also can consider we live in a country where 330+ million ideas, values, and beliefs roam free in the lives of pretty awesome folks who are doing the best they can when the stakes are high and the price we pay for steaks will keep rising as well.

I was customer #28 and I’m darn proud to be with you as a fellow American – and world earth-breather – doing my thing. Good or bad, we’re all here. That counts for something. If all of us raise our hands together to be counted, we can keep the sky from falling down on us. Sounds like a plan to me.

I Feel Ya, That’s A Fact

My seasonal business pushes this lazy guy’s butt out of hibernation around mid-March. When the last of the “yeah, right” wintry mixes blows through these parts, I tentatively tow my shy weenie wagon up the road to an Irish Festival swarming with bendy little hat people and crafty good booth vendors.

I say tentatively because – after 15 years – I’m never quite ready for it, emotionally. It’s the beginning of a nine month spectacular slinging slog of magnificence ending with another Mid-November wintry mix. In that span of 270 days, my stainless friend and I get rained on, have spectacular sale days, see all our fantastic customers, burn food, give Doug hugs, have disagreements, pay a lot more bills, receive sunburns, lose tongs, and cook up dump loads of chili sauce. You know … normal.

This year wasn’t any different. For the first day open or so, anyway. Normal was … well, normal on that green, four-leaf clover “luck-o-the-Irish” day. After that 24 hours, my tow-a-long friend and I parted ways – involuntarily mind you – as I reluctantly backed her into storage. She remained in isolation for 45 days until this past Thursday when I, as squeaky-toned as her well appreciated wheels, hooked her back up to be operational once again.

Under duress of my over-compressed brain, I felt it necessary to serve the public. May 1st, 2020. Friday. The day to be back dipping into melty cheese, planking up Doug’s Dawgs two-by-two in a manner Noah himself would be proud. Time served of 45 days in isolation when, under the terms of take-out and drive-thru, I could have opened. I opted to close down because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. There was – and still is – an abundance of caution that needs to be respected. I feel that is required. Here and now is all of our space.

Here and now is six weeks later. The past two days customers came as I set up in the ArtsAltoona lot located at 6th avenue and 23rd Street in Altoona, PA. Fifteen years in the business with little advertising … I knew they would. Was it throngs of folk? No. A spattering of hungry, regulars came by, ordered and conversed, then left satisfied they received high quality, service, and cleanliness they’ve always expected.

For me, I was so glad to be behind my friend again. Supporting her as she always does for me. Yes, my stainless 10×5 is a “she”. Don’t argue with me. I have my problems in life. Please don’t make this another one. Y’all don’t pick on boat-toting, glee-floaters who have she-sheds with oars, so ….

Anyway, all of the activity those wonderful two days as I was open gave me concern. They felt normal. Even with masking and social distancing, I felt almost normal again. The facts: … Doug’s Dawgs was open for lunch and I felt normal.

FACTS and FEELINGS. Two sides of a very uncomfortable coin right now. A coin we can’t frivolously toss into the Trevi fountain hoping upon hope for overwhelming public consensus and healing of a very public open wound. The facts vs feeling debate rages on faster than the virus itself – to a greater end – and will outlast any supposed vaccine or herd immunity.

The umbrella shading all this is the increased feeling of “normal”. It continues to drive emotions. Protesters in Michigan who storm state office buildings, Governors issuing open-orders trying to get back some sense of “what should be but isn’t”, and grocery store patrons refusing to mask despite concern for their neighbors.

Then we have numbers. Data. Cases and death. Red and yellow counties in Pennsylvania, “facts” and on the ground, basic grind-away, undisputed (possibly, not) figures, Viet-nam comparable death counts. Virologist, immunologist, statisticians, ER doctors, … all the professionals this hotdawg seller/pianist respects … injecting their well-informed opinions into our semi-accepting, varicose-very-close, uber-sensitive veins.

Everyone is scampering about … starting to feel normal. And this could be not so good in the near future.

Feelings are not going away. Neither are the facts. The weather is getting warmer around these parts and I will remain open with all the restrictions in place. I “feel” this is the right thing to do. One “fact” too, … I have bills to pay and the season is upon me.

So many are stuck. Small businesses have to make similar decisions. None of us have easy times right now. These everyday normals suck. This fall, depending upon how the virus spreads, or doesn’t, could be a disaster … or not. Facts and feelings will determine a lot of our fates. The equation of the times, right? Facts and Feelings add up to our Fate in the Fall. Four F’s we never saw barreling toward a devil’s crossroad in NormalTown, USA.

Such a paradox with no real answer. We want to feel normal … but acting normal could get all of us in real trouble down the road … if the facts hold true. Ugh.

I feel ya, brothers and sisters. I feel ya. Hang tight. Rough roads we travel … hang on to your dawgs.

The Man With A Tan

Following is courtesy of gpickel@pennlive.com. My comments to follow.

“Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled the key criteria of his plan for reopening Pennsylvania amid the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.

A six-point plan was outlined during a televised address, but Wolf provided no timetable for when they could start taking place. He added that more specifics will be forthcoming next week.

The six-points are, as taken verbatim from Wolf:

First, our approach will be data-driven. We will rely upon quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopen in Pennsylvania.

Second, we will put forth guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and healthcare facilities for assured accountability as we reopen.

Third, reopening necessitates that adequate personal protective equipment and testing are available.

“Fourth, reopening requires a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the Commonwealth to deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation if it’s necessary.

“Fifth, protections for vulnerable populations must remain steadfast throughout the reopening process, such as limitations on visitors to congregate at care facilities and prisons.

“Six, limitations when large gatherings unrelated to occupations should remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.”

Next week, I will be outlining more specific steps on the reopening process as we work with experts in public health agencies and stakeholders to determine how to safely reopen our economy.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump highlighted a three-phase plan for states to reopen whenever they feel it is time to do so. Wolf referenced that messages and The Associated Press described them as:

“In phase one, for instance, the plan recommends strict social distancing for all people in public. Gatherings larger than 10 people are to be avoided and nonessential travel is discouraged.

In phase two, people are encouraged to maximize social distancing where possible and limit gatherings to no more than 50 people unless precautionary measures are taken. Travel could resume.

“Phase three envisions a return to normalcy for most Americans, with a focus on identification and isolation of any new infections.”

How I don’t want to be writing about this … again. Taking a few days off, to rewire my brain, I thought would help. It didn’t. Time after time, day after day, this damn virus stirs up one of many ugly nuggets that choke off one of the few vital breaths of fresh air I have. In between masking outside, the stale air circulating inside a home that’s tired of seeing my mug almost every god-forsaking second otherwise, and my inner sanctum’s restlessness during three hours sleep at night, fresh air is at a premium.

All the information coming at me I can’t ignore. I so wish it was candy unicorns, tickle machines, and swizzle fairies. These are the “imaginaries” I’d like to be writing about on this dreary, thirty-degree day in western-PA. Not our Governor Wolf, again. But, here I sit typing in his name once more, twelve letters, with a space in between, and it’s becoming wasted time and space – like his governorship. A waste of my time and space.

I never wanted Doug Hugs to become a forum for political or social grievances. He’s forced my hand because I am, like so many other self-employed in PA, so frustrated by his lack of leadership amid this pandemic. It’s really quite simple. He is ineffective. No other words will do. I will not attack his character because I do not know the man, however, I have every right to judge him by his actions during this pandemic as our Governor. By this standard, he’s failed us. Period.

I’m calling him “A Man With A Tan”. A plan he has not. He’s getting a nice even tan under the bright lights of an early Pennsylvania media sun, however.

My standard for failure is more specific than his willingness to simply fall in line with all other Governors – which he has done consistently. No initiative to step out and lead at all as the Covid-19 tentacles took an ugly turn toward our commonwealth. He stood idly by as waves of information processed through other states, schools and municipalities started to prepare, think, and plan their way forward .. oh, and possibly work together with their respective legislative bodies to come up with a solution for the common good of the constituency – something very foreign to our solitary-thinking, one-way only Governor who has done everything but.

Again, my standard is more specific than this. And, quite simple. TIME. Time we don’t have to waste that he, our leader of nearly 13 million men, women, and children, doesn’t seem to process.

Today’s press conference, i.e. campaign video, err … waste of time so aptly demonstrates this point perfectly.

Re-read the bullet-points above, or, listen to the whole (waste of time) 22 minute feed. It’s all over the internet. There is absolutely NO mention of when he “plans” on doing anything. He gets the luxury of appearing on a video – at our expense, mind you – with “a plan” … and no plan.

Kinda like me saying, “I will give you $1,000,000 … Promise. Wrapped in crisp packets of $100 bills!!” That’s all. Just sayin’ Wouldn’t you like to know when? Oh, I can’t tell you THAT.

Look, I know this virus is a goofy thing. Problem with Mr. Wolf (downgraded because I done with him as Governor) right now is credibility. He’s been seen standing at the podium lecturing us about masks and social distancing … time … after time … after time. THAT’S what he has time for – himself. Not us or a plan.

During one lecture, there were 7 people in the back (including Rachel Levine, the Health Secretary leading the coronavirus battle in Pennsylvania standing far left which, ironically, best describes Mr. Wolf’s political position). NONE of them were following the protocol he was at the very moment ordering us to follow. I don’t know how accurate timing was for it, as a disclaimer, but with the thin ice he stood on going into the presser, the burden of his uncredibility had large spider cracks forming underfoot.

C R E D I B I L I T Y !! … and time we don’t have anymore for this guy to get his act together.

Businesses he shut down April 1st are losing money every day. (Some credit here … He did need to do it. Something had to be done because nobody knew what we were up against) Unemployment, if ever approved for the thousands who’ve applied and aren’t getting processed, will be bankrupt – at best – in eleven weeks according to a recent report out of Pittsburgh. The already strained PA retirement system, heavy-burdened due to union contract mandated obligations, was already broke way before the virus took hold, and there was unrest with the government all along. Pile on financial stressors of small business not receiving PPP or EIDL monies due to federal inefficiencies, laying off valuable employees, the burdens of home-life isolation, masking, bills, dogs being walked eight times per hour, and irregular shower schedules … too much. Just too much.

This has been, at the time of this writing, 6 weeks. April 30th will be two full months. Only 13 cases in our county. We are under the same orders as the bigger cities. Why? We’ve had no deaths (well. one .. I believe, but an out of county that is attributed to us). Is it because most other states have done the same? Is it because he is influenced, as a democrat, by Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s numbers? Even if he communicated his bias with us, a predominantly Republican county, we’d at least understand. Be upset, but get it. As it stands now, his lack of professionalism and concern for counties outside his special interest is baffling. Well, to be honest, not baffling anymore because the king has shown his true colors.

One could argue shutting down the entire state is showing concern. If he had that, we wouldn’t be in the financial mess we’re in to begin with, so I don’t agree. Big cities – Erie, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadephia – rule with this guy. These are his voting blocks and the virus numbers upon which he so heavily relies.

Agree or disagree. This is not Your Hugs, it’s Doug Hugs, and I get my podium moment. I have my mask on, appear pale as the sheets I spend little time sleeping on, and most definitely stand 6-feet away from you.

We don’t need a man on video telling us his 6-step, open-ended plan. Why? Because it isn’t a plan at all. It’s a wish list hoping someone else will tell him when to act on it. That’s all it is.

Oh, he’ll get his wish some day soon. It’ll be 13 million unemployed people ( less his cronies ) who can’t get their unemployment – or businesses open – showing up at “Mr.” Wolf’s mansion, or his home away from that big house we pay for, telling him IT’S TIME!!

And he’ll have to listen.

Hope he wearing a mask and is at least 6-feet away.