Day 4 – Anxiety

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So today is the day that my anxiety has really got the best of me. I really felt like I was doing okay with it but then I had this random thought last night. Not too long ago I watched this show on HBO called The Leftovers. It was a show about society after 140+ million people disappeared at the same time. There seemed to be no pattern, no real reason for it. Was it the rapture? Was it aliens? None of the cast was sure. This led people to do all sorts of strange things. Odd cults formed, there were crime waves that made little sense, anxiety took hold because of so many unanswered questions. I feel the same way about this. I know I am anxious because I cannot figure out the pattern, who gets sick, who doesn’t, who gets infected, who doesn’t. It all seems so random. The hoarding of toilet paper, restaurants close and the markets are so turbulent. None of it makes sense so I don’t know how to feel. No end day also makes this hard, and then you see China returning to normal and will there be more cases there? So anxiety is the theme. My guess is this will pass as we know more but wow, has it reared its head.

Project – Home Office

Last night I set up my home office. I had been going into the office each day as I have an isolated office but I am anticipating a shelter in place order at some point so my project today was to set this bad boy up. Brought my dual screens from work, got a Diet Dew spot, and everything plugged in. The internet is all connected and I am good to go. I think it is important to work at home in as close to an office environment as you can. I also made sure I was close to natural sunlight and have fresh air to keep my office environment pleasant.

Album of the Day – Disintegration by The Cure

I am not a huge goth music fan. At the risk of being cast out of the Gen X Alternative club I am not a huge fan of Bauhaus and other dark wave groups. But The Cure have a knack for great pop music fused with melancholy that I love. And this is, in my opinion, their best album. It is a masterpiece that brought them both commercial and critical fame. Plainsong has to be the best song to open a concert with of any band I am aware of. On this album Robert Smith’s voice is both smooth and scary if that is possible. You believe what he is saying and the lyrics are this word soup that is both absurd and tells a complete story. Plus this seems to be the perfect kind of music in times like these.

Topic of the Day – The best thing I ever ate

This one is simple. The single best thing I have ever eaten was this steakhouse in Kansas City, Missouri about 15 years ago. The steakhouse was called the 801 Steakhouse and it was located in the Power and Light District. I was there on a work trip and we were attending the Omicron Delta Kappa meeting. The last night we all decided to go out and get a proper steak in a town known for them. And it did not disappoint. From the beginning we were amazed at the atmosphere. When we arrived we waited for some time in their lobby bar that looked a lot like a speakeasy. They had this special brew produced by Boulevard Brewing (also a Kansas City staple). I was an Oak Barrel Ale and it set the table perfectly.

Once we got to our seats we were seated in their million dollar room that was adorned with over $1 million in expensive wines. It was one from there. I did this one thing I remember distinctly, I saw the menu and called my wife to make sure that she was okay with my buying a $150 steak. And I was so glad she said yes!

It was a 24oz. porterhouse that was seared and crusted with peppercorns and garlic. It was fork tender and came with a perfect baked potato. The steak melted in your mouth and it had this robust taste that was amazing. had a couple more Boulevards and enjoyed over three hours of chatting. It was a magical night.

Gen X Moment of the Day – the OJ Simpson Chase

In 1994 the world stopped for a moment as we all watched OJ Simpson being chased down an L.A. Freeway and all had a sinking feeling that he was going to kill himself. He, of course would go onto stand trial for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and was famously acquitted. OJ became a folk hero to some, and the ultimate example of justice denied to others. This story has been told a million times. But if wanted to relive the chase (and I know you have time) you can watch it here.

Stat of the day – 951

That is the number of weeks the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon has been on the Billboard top 200 albums chart. No other album has ever come close. And that is not even counting the pop catalog charts (you know the Columbia House charts that we all still owe money to). If that were counted then they would have charted over 1,500 weeks. Even on a slow week the album still sells 7,000-8,000 units a week. Amazing.

More Tomorrow.

Day 3 – Routine

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It is Day 3 and it is time to get used to this new normal. Since this entire thing began, effectively Tuesday, the only two humans I have seen in person are Nicole and Caroline. Of course I love my gals (see yesterday’s post) but our lives thrive on human contact. Shout out to the ZOOM platform. I at least can see other humans albeit on camera. So far working from my office seems to be working. I am completely isolated so I am not worried about coming into contact with COVID-19 but I am also not sure how long they will let me stay here. With New York and California doing their thing my guess is I will be at home 100% very soon.

PROJECT

Serving Sizes – I decided this week to not worry about what I eat insomuch as to how much I eat and commit myself eating a serving size only. Here is what I have learned: I used to eat way too much. This was my lunch today. A small bag of Doritos, a small container of yogurt, and some bean soup. A total of 400 calories. So far this week I have lost 4 pounds and I honestly feel much better physically. I wonder that if and when I come in contact with COVID-19 (and according to reports this is going to happen, although I remain skeptical) I will have a better physical chance of it being the very light kind. There is also another thought on serving size; ensuring you only eat what you need to helps conserve resources. With stores overwhelmed there is a lot of over buying and terms like the Coronavirus 15 going around. I dont think the way we get through this is by being wasteful. So now, we can make that dinner last through lunch.

Day two of the Insanity workout and my calves cannot hurt more. I have done more jumping than I thought was possible. Luckily today is a recovery day.

Album of the Day – Rumors

The album of the day is one of my favorites from my Dad’s record collection. I am a huge fan of this album. The very real tension that you hear in their voices and the notes they play is obvious from the first note. I was reintroduced to this album about a year ago when I went to see it performed by the Classic Albums Live outfit at Universal. And that is one thing that makes me sad. That for a good while we will not see live music.

Topic of the Day – An Experience

I wanted to write about the last time I was this confused and scared. It was in 2005. We were coming off of Hurricane Katrina and I was living in Nacogdoches and working for Stephen F. Austin State University. At that time we had already had a number of evacuees come to Nac to live after escaping that terrible storm. Then came Hurricane Rita. Hurricane Rita formed just off the shore of Venezuela and when it turned to head toward Texas it was considered the strongest hurricane ever measured. And it was coming straight for Houston. If it hit at full strength it would have been the largest metropolitan city ever hit by a major hurricane.

So in no time at all we were ordered by the governor to open our Basketball gym to be a shelter and I was named as one of the directors of the shelter. Now we had no idea how to do this and where to start but we simply set up a few folding tables and some wristbands and few clipboards and went for it. As the gym filled up we got Aramark to provide food, we had a large number of mattresses from a new residence hall building to make sure folks had a place to sleep. We had masking tape so we set up boundaries and offered showers and laundry services. Students lined up to volunteer to help and we had to bring in FEMA information, and translators.

Then the storm hit. And it was fierce. For about 36 hours we battled both the storm and the need to keep people calm and it was scary. At one point most of our staff was stuck at their homes during the teeth of the storm and there were only three or four of us in the building. But the scary part ended and then boredom set in. We had the shelter open for 12 days after the storm hit and each day was a grind. Our work stopped altogether and we focused singularly on taking care of people and rebuilding. There are so many stories of odd residents, nighttime incidents, and the struggle to close the shelter down.

What this moment reminds me of is the task we face right now. We are currently in the prep phase and we are waiting for it to arrive, and then we know there will be a few days where it seems like it is getting worse and worse and worse. And then the new infections will come to a grinding halt. We will see a dip and then we have to wait and allow for care workers to rehab those who got COVID-19 and make sure we dont flare up additional cases. But we know how to do this. Prepare. Endure. Repair. It is a simple proposition that we are just trying to scale like we have never done before. The Rita experience gives me anxiety about what is to come but comfort knowing it will be okay in time.

Gen X Moment of the Day

Likely the second most important moment in Gen X pop culture has to be the debut of M-TV on August 1, 1981. It is well known that Video Killed the Radio Star is the first video but it was also the channel that launched a thousand careers. Of course it is now the resident location of Catfish and Ridiculousness but there was a time that if your video made it on MTV then it made it to youth culture. My favorite show on MTV can 120 Minutes. they played all sorts of cool alternative videos by The Cure, Depeche Mode, and more.

Stat of the Day – 56%

That is the percent of eligible voters voted in the 2016 election. In 1964 that number was 69%. It is 2020 and an election year. If we are really going to usher in change in a time of COVID-19 then we need to vote. 56% does not cut it.

More tomorrow.

Day 2 – Settling In

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Well, day 2 is where I start to settle in. I am getting used to not being around people as much and my office is dark and quiet. However, I have been productive. I am finding that staying away from the COVID-19 news is a good thing for me to do right now. As we start to get a few days, maybe a week or two down the line I am certain that we will learn how to live with this new reality and services will come back online and TP will stock the shelves as everyone adjusts. But that brings me to my first list of topics. Lets start at . . . .

PROJECT: Buy Local, buy often – look, I know that social distancing is all of the rage but that also means that the economic impact will be massive. I am a big fan of being a loyal customer. I believe that when I am loyal then the businesses will do right by me. Well, in this time of Pandemic almost every place you buy coffee, food, or drinks from are offering a take-away option. It 100% allows you to practice social distancing and could go a long way to helping these businesses stay afloat. In the Orlando area there are 770,000 businesses and 97% of them employ less than 50 people. So yesterday I purchased two large cans of beer from my local brewery, Oviedo Brewing. I got 32 oz. cans of Brick Red Ale and their Melon IPA. These will be tasty this weekend. I also made sure to leave a big tip. So I am going to try to hit up a local joint every other day for carry out lunch or a something else. I will let you know what I buy.

Okay, so day one of full out Insanity workout – my legs cannot hurt more and Caroline and I were literally gasping for air at the end. But it felt good. Finding solace in exercising and now have found a way to bond a bit with Caroline.

ALBUM of the Day – on this day, March 19, 1990 Depeche Mode released their most popular and likely their best album – Violator. It is one of my absolute favorite albums and from the opening notes of World in my Eyes to Waiting for the Night and everything in between this album was the soundtrack to my senior year in high school and was the right album at the right moment in my life. I wanted to be as cool as Dave Gahan and as sensitive and artistic as Martin Gore.

TOPIC OF THE DAY – Women’s History Month – Leave it to a global pandemic to hit just as Women’s History Month was in full swing. I wanted for today’s topic to a be a bit personal. I am lucky to have in my life three generations of women who make me a better man. My mother is a trailblazer of sorts. When there were next to no warehouse managers working for Costco Wholesale she was promoted in the early 2000s to this role. And that is her life in a nutshell, defy the odds and dont care who says no. I got her work ethic because of her. Next is my wife, Nicole, everyone knows our origin story but here is a woman who constantly ensures myself and Caroline are living up to the standards we have set for ourselves. Her ability to feel and care for others has no limits and when I am not sure how to feel (as I am a famously child of and alcoholic so feelings are optional for me) I look to her and she guides me emotionally. Finally, Caroline. Caroline is becoming the woman I dreamed she would be. Smart and funny but also serious about being a doctor. She is now someone I just like hanging out with. We tend to like the same music and such and I know she is going to be a great medical doctor some day.

These women are extraordinary but they are also living women’s history. My mother broke from the traditional role of stay at home mom to blaze a trail at her job so she can provide for her family, Nicole picked up the flag of inclusion and has fought many times that everyone gets a seat at the table regardless of gender, and Caroline has taken the gift of limitless potential and is making good on that promise. These are amazing and scary times but when I see these three women, I know its going to be okay.

GEN X MOMENT OF THE DAY – Let’s start at the top. I believe the most important moment in our generation’s history is the explosion of the Challenger on January 28, 1986. Not only for its horrific aftermath, or because there was a teacher on board, or that we can all remember where we were at at the time. The significance was how it etched for many Gen Xers that we are no longer safe. That if this can happen to astronauts, which were like superheros to us, then none of us will be safe. It also taught us Gen Xers to understand that life has risks and sometimes we have to take risks to reach beyond our limits. So the Challenger Explosion is the Gen X moment of the day.

Stat of the Day – 6652-2

The stat of the day deals with Tom Brady and Caroline, my daughter. In September of 2001 Tom Brady took the field as the quarterback of the New England Patriots in a famous fill-in for an injured Drew Bledose. he never looked back. 20 years and 9 Super Bowls later he is the greatest QB to ever play. While I am not a fan, that is a fact. On December 13th, 2001 Caroline was born. So far she has live 9997% of her life (6,652 days to 2 days) with Tom Brady as the QB in New England. And that just blew my mind.

More tomorrow.

Introducing . . . #101DaysofWriting during a pandemic

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There is no way you can sugarcoat it. Life is odd right now. As many of you are I am self-isolating with my family and just taking time to come to my office to work (I have an office where I am the only one here) and to take a daily morning walk. Each day feels like a week and we are effectively only on Day 3. So, what is a guy to do! Well outside of trying to continue to focus at work and take care of my family I have have decided to complete a few projects that I have been putting off for a long time. After all, up until a week ago the hustle and bustle of the daily grind kept us from remembering to take care of ourselves and commit to the things that make us whole.

Besides, I feel like it would be a bit of an insult to those first-responders, grocery store workers, healthcare workers, and teachers doing their best to keep things as normal as possible and the shelves stocked with toilet paper. So here is what I am hoping to accomplish. Each day I am going to chronicle how my projects are going and also add a thought of the day focused on a random collection of writing prompts into one dandy post a day. I hope that if you read this you will be inspired to do the same. The writing will be random, sometimes the prose will be long, sometimes short, but it is the best way I know how to take care of myself. So on day one I wanted to list out what I will be reviewing:

  • My personal project of the day – how did I spend a few minutes with a chore or idea around the house to keep everything moving forward. I will also update you on my attempt to complete the Beachbody.com Insanity workout plan. I am doing this with Caroline and we hope one outcome will be getting fit in a time of illness.
  • I will list out my album of the day. I have compiled my personal 100 essential rock, pop, and hip hop albums and beginning tomorrow I will introduce a new one.
  • My writing prompt of the day. I will have a different subject I will consider and take 10 minutes to extemporaneously write about it.
  • Gen X Pop Culture moment of the day. Like with my albums I will have a pop culture moment that shaped my life and likely the lives of my Gen X cohort.
  • Finally, like the Dan LeBatard Show, I will have a stat of the day. This stat will NOT be COVID-19. I am a huge fan of data and how it can impact our lives. I will scour the internet for interesting data to share.

I realize I am likely writing into an abyss and few will read this but writing is therapy to me. If I can accomplish this goal then hopefully by day 101 this whole pandemic will be behind us and the results will be far fewer sick and far fewer deaths that we predicted. Stay sanitized people. More tomorrow on Day 2.

Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day – A Personal Perspective

It has been a while since I have put some ideas down on my blog but today seemed like a good day to come back. When I woke up this morning I was not thinking about suicide. I honestly never really think about it because I don’t think I have any suicidal tendencies. But when I got to my office I fired up my favorite radio program; The John in the Morning Show on KEXP out of Seattle. Each morning if I am in the office going about my day I will stream this station. Their music mix is amazing and they are the kind of socially responsible art I want to be a part of. John is great at knowing he is speaking to a global audience and while the show is apologetically Seattle he knows we hear him in Orlando too. Continue reading

Pop Culture Blind Spots – Marvel Universe and Game of Thrones Edition

The past few weeks have been rough for a guy who cherishes his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture. I believe I am veritable wasteland of useless knowledge and pithy opinions on music, movies, and television. I am a 46 year-old man but I got up early on Tuesday to take a look at the latest fashion on the red carpet at the Met Gala. And, like always, it did not disappoint. I am often the ringer on any trivia team. Trust me, you want me on your side when it comes to worthless barroom questions on listing movies Hugh Grant was in or what was the release year of the Clash’s London Calling. And I’m even better at sports. Want to know what happened in the 1996 NBA Finals? I’m your guy. The last five gold medalists in women’s Olympic figure skating, done. Continue reading

Gen X Chronicles – Every generation has their Saturday Night Live cast

This week on Saturday Night Live former cast member Adam Sandler hosted and it certainly had a throwback feel. From the opening monologue he had Chris Rock on the stage trading jokes. There were plenty of silly songs, the Opera Man made an appearance, and there was a skit dedicated to many of his more outrageous characters in his movies. It was, as SNL episodes go, an above average episode. And I should know, I have been watching and have watched virtually every SNL episode since I stumbled upon the Buckwheat’s Been Shot episode in March of 1983. I was ten years old and while I may not have understood every skit it introduced me to humor in a profound way. Since that episode I likely have seen 800 episodes of this Saturday Night tradition. Continue reading