Distraction and Stuff in the Pandemic Age

Well, triscribe is still here and the triscribers are doing what we can. We are living in trying times, where the phrases “in excess of precaution,” “lockdown,” “shelter-in,””quarantine,” “isolation,” and so on – become part of our language because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the pandemic age. We have lost people; having our lives disrupted is preferable to further loss of life. Fear and unpredictability prevail, yet we have to have hope?

I put a question mark because I really find it hard to have hope, but can’t stop hoping. Fear the worst, hope for the best, and what else can one do, when there is only so much one can control?

I resent COVID-19 for ruining Lunar New Year, for being an awful bitch, and all that. Our public health is the priority, but we have an economy in free fall (so, I wonder if we realize: without health, do we have an economy? It’s really not an either/or question, folks). Do we have societal solidarity? What about xenophobia and racism, and who do we leave behind? We’re so focused on coronavirus all the time, but our world really still sucks in all kinds of ways (climate change is still real). YC and I end up posting all these articles on Facebook. There is so much to read and to figure out. There are no simple answers to questions.

After awhile, I have to do some self-care, and I do my breathing exercises and I think that I’m in the middle of another round of spiritual searching in the middle of a public health crisis. I look for ways to distract, because the ongoing news hits the anxiety to levels I could not previously envision. History is made when there is no precedence. The news can be – is – overwhelming.

So, I end up watching “Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross’s happy little trees; cooking shows, even though I don’t cook; and animal videos or images (cute kitties and puppies are wonderful). I’d watch cooking videos on Food52, marathon episodes of “America’s Test Kitchen,” and whatever illuminating thing that could keep my anxiety at bay. There are the even many videos of Chef John of Food Wishes on YouTube. I’d giggle over more marathons of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Back in January of this year, a friend of mine (L) shared this link on Facebook to the video of how to make no-bake cheesecake with a chocolate-covered strawberry, and I then saved it to share on triscribe and procrastinated. This seemed a good a time as any to finally share it, as it is very nice to watch because it looks very doable and yummy:

I have also appreciated that FC posted on Facebook photos of his progeny’s school lunch, as part of the remote learning program; they really do not make school lunches the way they used to when I went to public school. My ongoing Facebook addiction can’t be any good, but so that goes. I binged on podcasts, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m caught up on Star Trek or Doctor Who. (I’m still behind).

I am not feeling the desire to write fiction. The first idea I had in ages was inspired by the Spanish influenza, and I was somehow intrigued but then the mindlessness of technically working from home has been sucking me into blech.

On a happier note: John Krasinski (the ex-Jim of “The Office”) started “Some Good News” and the 2nd episode, the original cast of “Hamilton” returned. Some 16 minutes total; around 8 minutes in, Krasinski just happened to have his Mary Poppins connection, when his wife Emily Blunt appeared and then her Mary Poppins co-star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and his crew came on screen. The original Hamilton cast still looked and sounded so good! I embed the video below:

So, I’ll end on that happier note. Keep hoping for better. We need better and we have to be better.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Observed 2020

On this observed holiday today, remember to take a moment to reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and consider what we can do to do better to meet that legacy. The work continues.

As a relevant item as food for thought: a Story Corps oral history dialog with US Congressman John Lewis (Georgia, Democrat), regarding how Dr. King inspired him and how he met him.

The segment was originally aired on NPR’s Morning Edition on Jan. 17, 2020, and especially poignant as Rep. Lewis is in treatment for pancreatic cancer.

On Facebook for the holiday (via its Facebook page), PBS NewsHour shared the link to its website‘s re-posted from Jan. 21, 2019 (and it looks like the interview was from 2018): an interview with Reverend William J. Barber, who co-chaired in 2018 the revived Poor People’s Campaign, 50 years after one of Martin Luther King, Jr., did it. As we face the presidential election campaign in 2020, Barber reminded us of what King tried to get us to face: what kind of democracy do we want? What are our moral values and how do we define justice?

A lot to reflect. We’ll keep trying.

(cross-posted at sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com)

Fanta, For Old Time’s Sake

It’s been a very long time since I’ve made a blog post here, but it’s the start of a new year and a new decade, so might as well make a stab at it again. As in the past, I’ve tried to write a small vignette to mark the new year. As memory fades, writing down things becomes more important.

While I was born in New York, one of my vivid memories was of being in Hong Kong one summer when I was 4. The family had a flat (apartment) in a building across from what was the Jordan Ferry, near the Temple Street night market in Kowloon, and drove around in a VW bus to various sites, including Kowloon Park (see picture above). In the back was a crate of ice-cold Orange Fanta bottles. It was the middle of July, and it was so refreshing.

In the intervening years, I’ve survived through high school, college and graduate school with Coca-Cola, probably way too much. Orange soda, not so much. Somehow, I had early lost the taste for fruit sodas in favor of colas, much in the way I can’t stand the taste of haw flakes or White Rabbit – two staples of the Chinese candy repertoire.

Flash forward to this past year. My daughter is now 6, and we have (re)discovered Orange Fanta. There’s a vending machine in the basement of the apartment complex. She normally prefers water, so she’s good like that, but we’ll allow one as a treat. These days, I have to seriously cut down on my sugar intake, so it’s diet for me, the original for her.

I hear there are new Fanta flavors, including a “Orange jelly fizz” one, which is basically soda with the little jelly bits that they have at boba tea shops. Maybe this is just all about the marketing of colored soda water – after all, the name “Fanta” was derived from the word “Fantasy” – but there is truly value of living these shared moments in real life that we just don’t have as much anymore in our inter-mediated digital lifestyles.

Perhaps this is a little weird coming from a techie that co-authored a book on making websites in the 90’s, but where we can, let’s have some more of those real links, rather than hyperlinks.

I used to have a stats box with numbers about emails, trips, etc., but that has gone by the wayside, because it’s at the point that keeping track of the numbers, as well as the magnitude of numbers themselves, was so ridiculous, it became meaningless. I’ll just use words this time.

In April, I was given a Distinguished Parishioner award from the diocese for the church I got married at, I guess for my tech work. To this day, I think there were many more worthy people who do more and donate more, including my co-awardee from my parish, also named Frances who sadly passed away this Fall, but I am grateful just for being associated with her decades of work and faithfulness in her life.

I’ve been volunteering with an Asian Pacific American legal clinic, which meets in Manhattan Chinatown monthly, and has just opened a every other month clinic in Brooklyn Chinatown. It is incredible what basic needs such as what does this paper say that are not being met. I recently had a Facebook Fundraiser that raised $600 for them. If you have legal or language interpreting skills, find out here how you can help. If you know of people who can use this kind of help, please send them our way.

Also in April of 2019, I traveled to New Orleans for the second time for a work conference with the family. We had more time to see more of the people and culture, and the daily struggles of life. I had the most interesting conversations with the Lyft drivers on how they were striving to improve themselves. The visit coincided with the Spring Fiesta festival, so we were able to see the insides of some mansions in the French Quarter and Garden District. Because I was there on a Tuesday (most people in the city for a conference are not), I got to see the Rebirth Brass Band of Treme fame in residency at the Maple Leaf Bar. We saw several “Second Line” parades, two involving weddings, and one for a funeral, that just passed us on the street. Some have likened Nola to being a French city in America, but from my view, it reminded me of many other Caribbean islands that have to deal with death as a part of daily life.

In November, I visited Austin for the first time for NAPABA, without the family. Austin is basically Brooklyn Texas. Their fabulous BBQ meats don’t require sauce. E-scooters were all over the place. Our affiliate won the affiliate of the year award, so we made a grand showing at the banquet, as well as with a cutout of our executive director, as he couldn’t be with us. Staying awake for our flights out early in the morning, we somehow ended up at the Intercontinental ballroom with a makeshift open bar that mysteriously appeared, shooting the breeze with the gala’s MC, Sheng Wang.

The missus and I marked our 11th wedding/15th dating anniversary – we are growing old together. Our daughter is thriving at an public school in Park Slope where the teachers consider her a joy – she actually mediates disputes between classmates. She has started classes in Mandarin Chinese every Friday – it’s very hard as my Mandarin is completely rudimentary, and I have to get her to the lessons on a late lunch break.

I’m still at the same place, almost finishing my 20th year on the job. I know these kinds of jobs don’t really exist anymore, but I still find new things that come up that excite me. There were some devastating losses, including legendary Prof. Joseph Crea at age 103, and Prof. Bob Habl, who gave me an A in Contracts.

The remaining parents are old and getting older. My mom took a fall in the middle of December, so had a 4 day stay at NYU Lutheran and is undergoing physical therapy at a nursing home to regain walking skills, probably for the next few months. Please keep her in your thoughts.

As it’s unlikely you’d get to this page unless you actually follow what I’m doing on Facebook, thanks for being a part of my life this past year/decade/lifetime. One quick shoutout to SSW, who has been making the vast majority of posts to Triscribe over the years – thanks for keeping the lights on.

The best resolution I can make is I’m going to try to do better, and I hope that is the same with you.