Lens-Artists Challenge #103-Surprise

A surprise is something unexpected, exciting, thrilling.

Animals

On our Hillsdale College cruise to Hawaii in 2018, we had a few hours in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.  We were taking a rest in a pleasant little shopping center, deciding where to go next, when I happened to glance at a tree behind me, and saw the big snail.  I got out my camera to take his picture, when I noticed, on the opposite side of his tree, a little green lizard!  I never would have noticed him if I hadn’t been zooming in on the snail.  And I’m pretty sure neither knew the other was there!

I also got a big kick out of this sign we saw in a coffee shop right by the dock where the cruise ship’s boat let us off.  How many places do you know where kids who misbehave are offered this?

CoffeeSign

Mongoose?  Someone at that coffee-shop has a great sense of humor.

 

Link

Dispatches from Furlough, Day Seven

Yesterday was the first day I spent entirely at home.  I didn’t go out of the house, except to get the mail late in the afternoon.  I did catch up on my Wall Street Journal, reading on my bed as usual.  Protected by my Fierce Guard Cat.

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I did 26 minutes on my rowing machine, listening to my old Rush Limbaugh podcasts.  For dinner, Hubby went over to our favorite local Thai restaurant, and got our favorites for takeout (pork Pad Thai for me and red curry chicken for him, and spring rolls).  We want to support our local eateries, as the stupid governor has tried to tank their businesses.

Last night, I did a couple of short posts here, and read and commented on Ricochet.  And I had a dream, about my job as an aerospace buyer.  I dreamt that I was at work, around a big round conference table with my fellow buyers and our supervisor.  The company had gotten us a bunch of swag, including orange t-shirts.  I remember thinking to myself, “I hate orange!”, which I do.  We were preparing to do the foul duty of getting ahold of all our suppliers to push out and cancel all our orders.  I got up to go get ice for my water, and couldn’t find any ice in the really messy break-room.  Then I woke up.  I wonder if that was a prophecy?

Today, just a few minutes ago, I got a text from work.  WE ARE GOING BACK TO WORK ON MONDAY!!!!!!!  Whew!  Dodged a bullet; nope dodged a barrage!  I am really glad to be returning to work, as I was worried about maybe being forced to retire before I really wanted to.  So now, I have about 3-1/2 days of vacation left.  My birthday is next Thursday, and I can’t imagine a better birthday present than going back to work.

Speaking of birthdays, normally Hubby and I go out for a big dinner for our birthdays, and we usually go to either of two of our favorite places, Ruth’s Chris or Daniel’s Broiler, both in Bellevue.  Well, all the state’s restaurants are now closed for in-person dining, and you can only get takeout.  I was resigned to cooking my own birthday dinner at home, when I thought to visit Daniel’s Broiler web site to see if we can get the dinner “to go”.  Well, yes we can!  So, I’ll be calling them and arranging to have our Filet Mignon and Garlic Mashed Potatoes delivered.  They use DoorDash, which I have heard of but never used.  This should be interesting, but very tasty.

How Seattle businesses prepare for the 2-week “Stay at Home” edict-Updated with Yep!

Remember Seattle?  The city on the Left Coast with the huge homeless population living in tents and under tarps on its streets?  The city where street people are allowed to remain on the streets if they don’t want to “accept help”?

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The city has announced plans to clear away a homeless encampment under the south end of the Ballard Bridge. About six people are still living at the camp. (Genna Martin, seattlepi.com)

This article in today’s news just made me laugh (and vow, once again, to stay the hell out of Seattle, which won’t be difficult since the entire state is under the order to stay home unless involved in essential activities).

So people don’t break in and drink our alcohol”: Stores board up for stay-at-home order.

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Look away for a few minutes, and your livelihood is trashed.  Except for the fact that these businesses were already in danger of going under, due to the order that all bars and restaurants close, to slow the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus.  In this case, the cure may be worse than the disease for small businesses.

Update 3-27 And here it is-the article describing exactly what those business owners feared would happen:

Seattle restaurants hit by thieves, vandals, during coronavirus closures.

Right on time.  Welcome to lawless Seattle.

It’s The Culture, Stupid! How we got the Wuhan Coronavirus

It’s The Culture, Stupid! How we got the Wuhan Coronavirus

With Novel Coronavirus spreading like wildfire everywhere in the world now, perhaps you are wondering how it all started, where this virus came from in the first place.  You might wish to know how it was that, last fall in China, someone in the medical establishment there noticed some cases of a particularly nasty pneumonia cropping up around Hubei Province in central China; the capital city of Wuhan in particular.

Let’s start, then, at the beginning.  Chinese culture is very old, going back many centuries, and many of the culinary characteristics of today’s China are throwbacks to a much more primitive time.  In the long past, like in most countries, the Chinese people lived closer to the forests.  In those forests lived many species of animals, and the people killed and ate those animals.  When the Chinese people became more civilized, and moved into villages and then into cities, they brought many of their culinary tastes with them.  Chinese people today still have a taste for unusual foods like pangolin, bats, and sharks-fins.  It is well-known that Chinese will pay good money for some very unusual foods, and that has led to their encouraging of poaching of some endangered species.

Cultures in Africa also have a taste for some exotic wildlife, and many tribes today still live in or near jungles and forests, where they hunt and eat wild animals, sometimes including primates.  Here is a picture of a market stall in Africa, where they are selling exotic wildlife for food.

bushmeat-Africa

In Africa, this is called “bushmeat”, and you can see the face of a primate among the specimens in this market.  It is well-known that some diseases can be spread by the consumption of exotic animals, and that eating the flesh of primates may carry what is known in humans as Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.  This is a particularly gruesome, incurable condition that causes the brain to deteriorate.

Getting back to the beginning, scientists for decades have known that many exotic species of forest and jungle wildlife carry their own kinds of viruses and bacteria.  In these species, the pathogens often do not cause any kind of adverse effects or illnesses.  In fact, we humans also carry many harmless, and sometimes beneficial, viruses and bacteria (bacteria are what actually allows us to digest our food).  It is only when humans consume, or live among, these exotic species that their viruses and bacteria can “jump” to humans, and then they can cause very harmful diseases.  This process is called “zoonosis”.

In the early 20th Century, it has been determined, the virus that causes AIDS first jumped from African primates to humans.  It remained localized for a long time, but eventually made its way into civilization, and they was spread very rapidly by homosexual humans and their multiple sex partners (the original “spreader” was a flight attendant who boasted of over 2,500 partners).  The Ebola virus, whose name is a river in Africa, was spread by Africans and their penchant for eating bushmeat, and it remains a stubborn low-level epidemic in multiple parts of Africa.  Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a virus found in horses that can spread to humans, and African Swine Fever has recently decimated the pigs of China (it is similar to Ebola in humans).  Scientists and wildlife experts have been trying for decades to get Africans to stop eating bushmeat, but their efforts have been in vain.  Culture is just too powerful.

Well, the same kind of situation holds in modern China.  The Wuhan Wet Market is an institution in the large capital city of Hubei Province, where citizens can buy all manner of wild animals for food.  Investigators have determined that the virus that is now propagating everywhere in the world originated in bats sold in the market.  And the Chinese people have proven similarly resistant to giving up their cultural taste for exotic food.  The Communist Party has closed the market for now, but the culture does not change that quickly.  Here’s a new interesting article.

China has been a Communist country since 1949, and the Party has added another layer of culture over the original Chinese culture.  Their culture of secrecy and arrogance contributed in large part to the spread of this new disease.  However, their very-Chinese concentration on “saving face” also helped in a big way to keep this world-wide pandemic going.  The Communist Party’s prime directive is tranquillity-they will do anything to avoid unrest in the population.  So they did things like suppress news of the disease outbreak, and put the doctor who originally told his medical colleagues about it under isolation, making him sign a confession to “spreading rumors”, and condemning him to death from the virus.

Communism is Evil, and it can lead to situations like we are seeing now.  People all over the world are succumbing to this previously-unknown virus, and their deaths can be attributed in part to Chinese and Communist Culture.

See, I told you so

See, I told you so

I have mentioned many times on my blog how I refuse to give up my single-person, fully-owned automobile, in the face of environmentalist wackos trying to get us out of our cars.  My car is my Liberty.  Any time I want to go somewhere, as long as my car is working well (99.99% of the time), and has gas in the tank (100% of the time), I can just hop in the car and go.

Now, what about all those good little sheeple, city-dwellers who, in the name of “saving the planet”, gave up their cars, and take the bus, or the train, or walked, to work and everywhere else they needed to go?  What do they now do, when public transit is shut down in the face of a rampant viral disease epidemic? How do they now get around, when their only modes of transportation are not available?  Do they call Mommy and ask for a ride?  Do they impose on their friends who might have a car?

I guess there might just be disadvantages to giving up your personally-owned transportation.  When you have to depend on the government to take you where you need to go, you’d better have a backup plan, because government is sometimes unreliable.  Unlike your own car, which is always available for your use.

A sample of RushBabe’s Email for this week-Coronavirus Edition

The past week has been pretty volatile for everyone, around the world.  Whole countries “locked down”, stock-market swings like never before (2,000 points in one day on the Dow!), panic-buying leading to empty store shelves, restaurants and other public venues closing, and a death-count rising almost everywhere.  I live right smack in the middle of a “hot zone” in the Seattle area, so the local media is keeping us informed of conditions around Puget Sound.

I have a dedicated “professional” email account, where I direct emails from companies I buy from, both online and in person, and use for my employment contacts, should I be looking for a job.  For the past two weeks, I have been receiving emails from most of the stores and businesses I buy from, with a variety of updates and information on how they are dealing with the crisis.  Most places describe how they are keeping their own premises and employees safe; cleaning everything in sight, encouraging everyone to stay home if feeling sick, and following local and national guidelines.

Herewith, a sample of some of the emails I have been receiving:

The first one, from last week, from the head of Alaska Airlines. I was impressed that he has eight children-that’s pretty unusual these days, and I admire him for it:

Please be assured that Alaska Airlines is closely monitoring the situation, including conducting daily briefings with some of the best medical experts in the nation. Our top priority is always the safety of you and our employees. Check out our blog on the extra steps we are taking to keep our guests safe with additional cleaning and updates to onboard procedures.

At Alaska, we are optimistic about the future and hope you feel that way too. We launched our Peace of Mind policy so that you can take comfort in knowing that any ticket purchased after February 27, 2020 can be changed or canceled without a fee (applies for any travel through February 28, 2021). Today, we launched our biggest fare sale yet with fares starting as low as $20 one way* for travel between March 19, 2020 and May 20, 2020. And, we’ve got great deals to Hawaiʻi, New York and Florida starting at $99 one way.* We hope the combination of these great fares and our Peace of Mind policy will help those who want to travel this spring but are concerned their plans may change.

We understand that everyone is in a different place when it comes to what is best for you and your family. Just recently, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “I just want to echo again that the risk is low—the risk is low. I encourage Americans to go about their life. That includes travel to California, Oregon and the state of Washington.”

In closing, some of you may know that my wife and I are blessed with eight children. We have a family trip to Hawaiʻi planned for spring break this year, and we can’t wait to go! We know things can change, but we are looking forward to our trip together as a family. Hopefully we will see some of you there.

Thank you for being a Mileage Plan™ member.

Andrew Harrison

From my financial institution where I have my “play money” individual stock Roth IRA account:

As you might expect, volatility in the markets has increased the number of clients contacting us. Unfortunately, this has resulted in much longer than normal phone wait times, sometimes keeping us from delivering the level of service we are known for.

Given the potential spread of the virus over the coming weeks, we’re anticipating additional impacts that may lead to a continuation of extended wait times. In an effort to protect the safety and welfare of both our clients and associates, we may deem it necessary to limit or suspend person‑to‑person interactions between our clients and associates within our branches. If that is the case, our branch staff still would be available to clients by phone or other means. Please check the branch locator for the most up to date information on your local branch. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

They also emphasize that their Web site is the place to go for more information 24/7.

From Lands’ End, where I often buy clothing items.  They are located in rural Dodgeville, Wisconsin, and have some of the best customer service around:

We are following guidance from public health officials and government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), so we can make assessments and provide information and guidance as the situation develops.

Employee self-care is important to us.  We continue to focus on encouraging washing your hands regularly, staying home when you are sick to prevent the spread of germs to others, and hand sanitizers are available for all employees. We also have restricted international travel and US travel is on a case by case basis.

In addition to our regular cleaning procedures at our retail stores, offices, and distribution center, there has been an increased focus on cleaning and sanitizing the more commonly touched hard surfaces, including entrances, bathrooms, fitting rooms, break rooms, conference rooms, phones and registers.

From Enterprise Rent-a-Car, where I often rent when out of town:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car® is offering College Student Travel Assistance in response to the closing of colleges and universities due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns.

We are reducing the minimum age and waiving young renter fees for rentals through May 31, 2020, to help students get home safely and ease the burden on families during this time.

Details
• Available to college students 18–24 years of age
• Official student ID must be presented at the time of rental
• Valid on Economy through Fullsize cars, Minivans, Small Pickup Trucks and Cargo Vans
• Valid at U.S. locations only for rentals reserved in advance
• Standard driver and credit requirements apply (excluding minimum age)
• Expires May 31, 2020

A short and sweet note from Barnes and Noble bookstores, which have not been doing well lately, seeing their business decline due to the influence of Amazon.  They are still my primary source of the physical books I still buy (I do not buy ebooks-just old-fashioned, I guess):

Dear Reader,

We’re living through turbulent times together. Our booksellers are your neighbors, your friends and family. Your stories are our stories, and we know how resilient our communities are.

Sincerely,

The Booksellers of Barnes & Noble

An email from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Israel, to whom I donate each year:

In light of the recent directives from Israel’s Ministry of Health in the fight against the Coronavirus (COV-19), Yad Vashem is closed to visitors from Sunday 15 March until further notice.

This one is interesting.  I buy tickets to the University Unitarian Church full-length Messiah Sing-and-Playalong each December, through local ticket agency Brown Paper Tickets.  They are known for their Social-Justice Warrior characteristics, and each ticket-buyer is offered a choice of charities to which to direct their share of agency profits (they concentrate, obviously, on social-service outfits).  Here’s the email I received from them:

To our events community,

For the first time in Brown Paper Tickets’ 20-year history, we are reaching out to our entire community of fans and supporters because artists, performers, and organizers are in crisis. They need our help now.

The impact of COVID-19 on small, community organizations is unprecedented. From independent bookstores, to local theaters, to arts nonprofits, event organizers are in immediate financial danger. For them, every ticket matters – one canceled event could mean the difference between making rent and closing their doors forever.

Our core mission at Brown Paper Tickets is to support events and the people who make events happen. Now, we’re asking you to join us.

Please consider contributing to your local arts organizations during this difficult time.

We currently have over 20,000 small events listed, and more are being added daily – purchasing a ticket to a future event now can have a huge positive impact. Many organizers also accept donations through our platform or on their own websites.

We know that the climate right now is one of uncertainty. Some events may be postponed, some may be canceled, but many will go on. Our commitment to you remains the same: 24/7/365 live support, full refunds for canceled events through the Brown Paper Tickets processor, and an unwavering belief in the power of our community.

Thank you,

And, finally, a missive from one of our favorite local restaurants.  We like going to the local Red Robin for a burger, and we know that they got their start in Seattle in the 1950s.  Their message was encouraging, since we are not locked down yet, and have been going out to eat when we can:

[Edit: Sorry, I just could not make their email work with all its formatting. Suffice it to day, RR is remaining open for business, with increased cleaning and as usual following all the CDC guidelines.  We plan on going there soon.]

Hubby and I are still very well, and living our lives as we have always done.  We are still working (he from home, me at the factory), washing our hands more often (even if our skin is beginning to look like a rhinoceros), and keeping up with regular activities.  We are not panicking, even if many others are (our local Costco is still out of toilet paper!).  And we are grateful that most of our favorite restaurants are still open for business.  It is gratifying that the entities I deal with in person and online are doing what they can to support their customers and employees.

We will make it through this crisis, if we keep a level head, follow directions from health authorities, and just keep on keeping on.

Spotted at Costco, of all places

This is one of the benefits of owning a smartphone.  When you come across something unusual you think your friends and blog followers might like, you just whip out your phone and take a picture.  What do you think of this new item on the shelf in Costco’s booze department?

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A most unusual item.  I’m guessing that 25% of the cost is in the bottle!

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Whew!  And it comes in its own nice display case.  Once you finish the brandy, the bottle is its own exhibit.