Pandemic affects all differently

No two people are alike.  As trivial as that may sound, when it comes to a pandemic I suspect we underestimate the impact of our personal differences have upon our ability and our success in dealing with COVID-19 and it’s variants.

I happened to be thinking about he way our daughter is adjusting to the pandemic and quite by accident I realized that our own pandemic life — Peg’s and mine — would have developed very differently had we still been RV’ing, or had we still been employed.

Clearly the largest variant for the two of us is retirement.  The whole idea of not having to be in certain places at certain times and the ability to determine for ourselves what we want to think about or do — without the constraints of customers or employers — is a huge dividing line between the employed and the retired.  Employed and unemployed are much more alike in that there is some urgency in addressing the lack of employment. 

I never thought much about the idea of retiring.  When we were working — if I’m completely honest — I never thought about what life would be like after retirement because I assumed I’d have to work till the end.  I had an odd sort of employment history and the idea of stopping doing what I loved and wanted to do (at least at the end of my career) just never entered my mind.  Our decision for Peggy to retire early and then to sell off 98% of everything we owned in order to go traveling forced me to rethink everything about our life.  It wasn’t easy, but the idea of finally being able to spend all our time together was such a wonderful thought that I gladly jumped on board.

In our case our retirement was largely focussed on travel.  Not just the RV’ing, but we have always driven a lot, around our city, our state, the midwest, and the nation — in addition to infrequent international trips.  Pandemic pretty much stopped a huge portion of our life.  Not just the actual movement, but the planning as well.  And organizing and sorting images from our trips after the fact.

There are only so many travelogues you can watch before you tire of armchair travel.  I have loved some of the places we have “visited” virtually, but it’s not the same as breathing the air and smelling the smells.

Add that to the fact that we intentionally trimmed our social circle when we went RV’ing.  The result has been a very different world in which to find a new way of living.


I have no idea if we are doing well or struggling.  In the day to day flow of things I think we both find ourselves reasonably happy.  We still get antsy; we’d like to be out walking and doing things more than we are but we are doing our best to stay positive and if anything we talk more to each other and talking has always been a thing we did a lot.  I guess that’s what happens when your partner really is your best friend, but I know a lot of couples who seem hardly to speak, much less to have open discussions.  I don’t know how they do it. 


Employed people, school aged children, new graduates, retirees and patients needing assistance , medical staff — how each of these is coping with their own unique circumstances I can’t even imagine.  I’m having enough on my plate to figure out my own needs and how to address them.  As a cardiac patient I have period contact with a variety of caregivers. In casual conversation with them — outside of time we spend addressing my medical needs — I get glimpses of personal lives turned upside down in very, very different ways than our life has been affected.  I admire them for their creativity and I ponder how hard it would have been for me to have been in their shoes.  I’m glad there are an infinite variety of people because I know I could not deal with some of their problems even as they can’t imaging dealing with mine. 

The one constant however is such a basic human attribute.  We need kindness.  We all need it, and we all can give it.  With all the people working remotely for the first time ever shipments get messed up, promises get broken, answers get delayed.  The phone call you used to be able to make and solve a problem in 10 minutes now becomes waiting for a return call 24 business hours later only to have your problem passed off to someone else.  When things like this happen it would be so easy to become enraged, to rant, to blow off steam.  I know — I’ve been known to do that.  But we all need a little kindness and we all need people to be understanding of the fact that due to circumstances beyond our control we simply as able to function as we once took for granted.

— I hope you’re doing OK during this pandemic.  I don’t expect life to ever go back to what it was before COVID, so I suspect the adaptation process is going to continue for a good while to come.  Over the next months, and probably years, we’ll refine our revised business models, and our coping systems.  We’ll make mistakes and relax our discipline too early and pay the price, and maybe after a few of those cycles the majority of us will realize that life is forever different.  And all the while what we’ll all need is just a little more kindness to those around us.  

It would be an error to expect kindness shown towards ourselves.  We have no idea what the other person may be dealing with.  But we can always give kindness ourselves.  To fail to do so is to doom yourself to needless depression and discouragement.  And during pandemic there are enough real problems to be dealt with without making more just for the fun of it.    



That children don’t know why they want what they want, all learned teachers and judges are unanimous. But that adults, just like children, tumble about in the world without knowing where they come from and where they’re going—that they act in accordance with their avowed aims just as little as children do—that they can be ruled by cookies and cakes and lashes just as easily as children—this no one wants to believe, although it seems to me so palpably true.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther

Anything For Sale

It’s Sunday evening and CNN is reporting that the 45th President of the United States in his last few days in office is expected to issue some 100 pardons and commutations. It’s not justice that’s for sale, it’s escaping from justice that we are about to witness and it’s sickening.

Suffice it to say poor people aren’t going to get any of them. I doubt that there will be any minority groups among them either.

The final chapter in the term of 45’s term in office will be the final insult to the citizens of this country.

I won’t say I’m disappointed. This could have been, and has been, predicted for quite some time.

But I am disappointed that at 4 years minus three days the other elected officials of the United States Government stood idle while and for his own benefit, not the benefit of the country he was supposed to be serving, he sold and stole everything he possibly could.

This is what the United States of America has become.

Don’t tell me, “this isn’t who we are.” WE have had ample time to prove that it is not, and we failed to do it. Maybe not your average Joe Blow — though goodness knows there were enough protests during the preceding 4 years to sound a variety of alarms. Still, bottom line, net result is…. this is what we are.

Here’s a look at how many pardons were granted by presidents dating back to 1900, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Pardon Attorney. This list is sorted by the number of pardons issued from highest to lowest. These data cover only pardons, not commutations and remissions, which are separate actions.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt: 2,819 pardons
  • Harry S. Truman: 1,913 pardons
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower: 1,110 pardons
  • Woodrow Wilson: 1,087 pardons
  • Lyndon Johnson: 960 pardons
  • Richard Nixon: 863 pardons
  • Calvin Coolidge: 773 pardons
  • Herbert Hoover: 672 pardons
  • Theodore Roosevelt: 668 pardons
  • Jimmy Carter: 534 pardons
  • John F. Kennedy: 472 pardons
  • Bill Clinton: 396 pardons
  • Ronald Reagan: 393 pardons
  • William H. Taft: 383 pardons
  • Gerald Ford: 382 pardons
  • Warren Harding: 386 pardons
  • William McKinley: 291 pardons
  • Barack Obama: 212 pardons
  • George W. Bush: 189 pardons
  • George H.W. Bush: 74 pardons
  • Donald Trump —- as of 1/17/2021 — 10 pardons.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to kindness, mercy or leniency. Our justice system leaves a lot to be desired. But I am opposed to graft and corruption by people who manipulate the system for personal greed. Pardons for individuals who have been convicted of wrongdoing at the behest of the President himself among them.


German Potato Salad

Ask me about my food favorites and I would be hard pressed to describe any particular cuisine as my favorite. The fact of my life is that I am an American who has primarily Polish heritage born at the end of the 1940’s. All of that means that my immigrant grandparents brought a lot of Polish ideas to their cooking, my parents saw the Great Depression and WWII as well as the Great Awakening of the American Palate that resulted after the war/. I grew up with casseroles and mayonnaise. We knew about Iceberg lettuce and not a lot more; every different vegetable in the world wasn’t available and even if it was my Great Depression Kid parents wouldn’t have bought the expensive ones even if they could be found in the store.

After marrying Peg & I started trying out all the foods we could find, here and on our limited travels outside the U.S. I had jobs that enabled us to try many of the best restaurants in Milwaukee and a lot of really fine restaurants on our travels — but for all of our experimenting the flavors were mostly “periodic additions” as opposed to replacements for our regular fare. Peg had grown up with a more limited menu — she had Irish and English and German backgrounds and my Eastern European love of sweet sour came as a surprise along with a great many other flavors. But we had a great time experimenting; and still do.

I was probably in my early teens before I had my first bite o f potato salad that was not German Potato Salad. All the potato salads I remember as a youth were made with utility grade Russet potatoes and had a bit of a tang from vinegar and sugar as any good German potato salad will. The idea of putting Mayo in a salad with potatoes sounded completely bonkers at that age, but now I think nothing of it or any other kinds of salads you choose to throw at me. Still, my fallback favorite is still the German version. Top it with crispy cooked bacon bits (the real ones, not the fake), some chopped chives, or even better a little more dill and could make an entire meal from a big bowl — even if it isn’t waistline friendly.


  • 2 pounds baby potatoes
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (to be honest, I grew up making it with regular old white vinegar but the apple cider kind does taste better)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp
  • 2 1/2 T Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill


  • Place the potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 13 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Drain potatoes and quickly run them under cold water until cool to the touch. Then transfer to a cutting board and carefully slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Once crisp, place on a paper towel-lined plate to cool for a minute. Then transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop into small pieces. Drain about half of the bacon grease from the pan, then place the pan back over medium heat.
  • Add the onion into the skillet with the remaining bacon grease and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  • In a spouted measuring cup combine the the apple cider vinegar, both sugars, dijon mustard, corn starch, salt and pepper, dill, and stir until well combined and the corn starch has dissolved. Pour into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until bubbling and slightly thickened. 
  • Add in the bacon and the sliced potatoes and toss to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then transfer to a serving dish. 
  • Serve warm, serve cold, serve any way you want!!!!!!


  • considering running your cut potato chunks through the microwave (times will vary with your cut-piece-sizes and microwave power). The microwave will slightly reduce the water content of the ‘taters and can be a nice change from the usual way of doing it. Do several smaller batches rather than trying to do them all at once, but you will still probably spend less time cooking the taters than boiling them.
  • don’t be a slave to round slices either. chunks are just as tasty.
  • I buy 3lb. blocks of bacon at the local restaurant supply store — so rather than fry my bacon up in strips I slice across the end of the block and have uniform slices of bacon which I then fry in the pan.
  • Oh, and that part about pouring off 1/2 of the bacon fat — well, my grandmother was a pork junkie. And a lot of her salads were made with a vinegar and oil dressing — which might suggest, you guessed it, that she used all of the bacon grease and while cooking the vinegar/water/sugar/dill mixture did a little extra whisking to incorporate the bacon grease just as you would homogenize vinegar a oil in a dressing.
my kind of bacon. 🙂

The ‘black swan’ Covid catastrophe shows us just how fragile our world is

by Larry Elliott

It is clear now that there is a big downside to an economic model that pays little heed to sustainability

There are three characteristics of a “black swan” event: rarity, extreme impact and retrospective predictability. With the benefit of hindsight it is always easy to spot the warning signs of a looming catastrophe, but few see them at the time.

The financial crisis of 2008 was an example of a black swan, and Covid-19 is an even better one. Around this time of the year, economists tend to make predictions of what the next 12 months have in store. Some like to think outside the box and come up with whacky forecasts of unlikely events that will perhaps come to pass.

Suffice it to say not one crystal-ball gazer a year ago foresaw that by December 2020 Christmas would be banned by government edict, pubs shuttered and Premier League football matches played in grounds devoid of spectators. Nobody said 2020 was going to be a plague year that would lead to more than 1.8 million deaths worldwide and bring about the biggest annual contraction of the UK economy since the Great Frost of 1709.

The collective failure to anticipate a variant of the coronavirus first detected in China in late 2019 suggests we should all be careful about making bold statements about what will happen next. Perhaps, as the financial markets are signalling, the mass vaccination programmes now under way will allow life to return to something like normal by the middle of this year. It is possible 2020 will be recorded in the history books as a one-off, an aberration that signified nothing. It is worth remembering how little changed – despite all the confident predictions that there would be a political shift to the left – as a result of the near-implosion of the global banking system in 2008.

There are reasons for thinking 2020 will be different and could eventually be seen as one of those years – like 1789 and 1914 – that prove pivotal. One is that the pandemic has hastened the technological change that was already happening, because social distancing and lockdowns have meant we do so many more things from home via a computer screen or a mobile phone. People have surfed the net more; they have kept in touch with their friends remotely; they have shopped online. The result is that the digital transformation of economies has been accelerated. Companies that went into the crisis powerful enough already – Google, Amazon, Facebook – have seen their market dominance strengthened. Working from home has been terrible for the commercial property sector, but great for Zoom.

For years, there has been talk of how biotechnology would form a crucial part of a fourth industrial revolution. Its response to the pandemic has proved this is not just hype. It has been staggering how quickly vaccines were developed and produced. Genome sequencing has made it possible to identify mutations of the coronavirus.

Running alongside accelerated technological change has been a shift towards bigger states, which have spent a lot more, borrowed a lot more and bossed people around a lot more. Before the crisis erupted, Rishi Sunak expected to borrow about £60bn in the current financial year. He will be lucky if the figure turns out to be less than £400bn. In reality, the chancellor – along with other finance ministers – has had no choice. Governments have taken deliberate decisions to close down large chunks of the economy and so have been obliged to take unprecedented action to prevent mass unemployment and widespread destitution. Sunak talks a lot about how he has a moral duty to balance the budget but is an unconvincing iron chancellor.

Some governments have had better crises than others. Ironically, the country that gave the world Covid-19 – China – is poised to be the only major economy to register positive growth this year. Neighbouring countries – Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam – were all better prepared for the pandemic than Europe or the US. Recent decades have seen a shift in the global balance of power from west to east, and that trend has continued. The US emerges from 2020 relatively weaker, China relatively stronger. Donald Trump’s hawkish line towards Beijing is unlikely to soften much when Joe Biden arrives at the White House this month.

The story of globalisation over the past three decades has been of developed countries outsourcing production to places where wage costs were lower. Relying on China for PPE and other medical equipment looked a lot less clever as the crisis erupted. There is now a recognition that there is a price to be paid for long and complex supply chains, as there is for an economic model that pays too little heed to sustainability. In the past, deep recessions have tended to push green issues down the political pecking order, but this time it has been different. Quite rightly, the thinking has been that if 2008 was a financial emergency and 2020 has been a medical emergency, then next time – and the assumption is that there will be a next time – it could be a climate emergency.

Understandably, there is a yearning for life to return to normal and when the fight against Covid-19 is finally over people are going to enjoy doing all the things that lockdowns and social distancing currently prevent or restrict. It will be boom time for the high street; it will be hard to get a restaurant booking; low-cost airlines will be running at full capacity. In the short-term it will look like business as usual.

But Covid-19 has forced us to rethink the way we work, how we shop, the role of government, how the economy works at a national and global level. Above all, it has shown us how fragile everything is.


The Calatrava

I am unabashedly proud to live in Milwaukee. There are serious problems here but there are serious problems everywhere on earth and that does not take away from the many unique aspects of this city.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s addition in the early 1980’s was Santiago Calatrava’s first project in the U.S. and it is the highlight of the Milwaukee Lakefront. Sitting at the end of Milwaukee’s “main drag” — Wisconsin Avenue — the Calatrava with it’s moving wings gets plenty of attention for a great many wonderful reasons.

But as popular a topic as it is for photographers I find this image of the Calatrava with it’s wings folded on a snowy winter’s day to be such a fitting image for the blustery mood of winter. We all pull in our “wings” — our fragile bits — in the cold, in the wind, during frightening and dangerous times and it seems like a good image to think of going forward into 2021.


Your optimism is not a flaw. your bubbliness is not a flaw. your kindness is not a flaw. your enthusiasm is not a flaw. you are not at fault and there is nothing wrong with you for being excited or passionate about things. you are not annoying, you are not too much, you are not extra, and you are not “cringey”. im sick of people’s happiness and recovery being mocked because we all collectively decided that happiness wasnt cool.


No flaws